The fist came hard again, connecting with flesh and sending ripples of intense pain through Melena’s body.
“I ask you once more, where is the child?” Her eyes met the attacker’s, it was Odo, one of Gor’s men and a terrifying beast of a man. Melena spit, blood mingling with dust on the dirty floor. She remained silent, knowing there was no future for her, no reason to divulge the clan’s secret.
Odo gave a slight nod to another who stood some feet away. Melena watched as the man returned the action and disappeared through the flap of leather that served as a door. Little time passed before it was being disturbed again and another man was pushed through. Melena gasped as her husband Taf was roughly pushed to his knees.
“No! Leave him, he has nothing to do with this,” she pleaded, as Odo stood over his new prisoner, club in hand.
“His life will be spared, if you reveal the child’s whereabouts,” Odo offered, a wicked smile spreading across his face. Taf looked up at Melena with sad eyes; he shook his head, content with his fate. Content to suffer if it meant the secret was kept safe. Melena wanted nothing more than to open her mouth and let everything she knew spill without a second thought, but, she could not dishonour Taf’s own sacrifice, one he would make now.
“There is no child,” she said finally, staring not at Odo, but through him. Odo said nothing, but brought the club down with resolute force. Melena hardened herself against the sound of crunching bones as Taf was beaten; as the man she had loved for most of her life, fell to his face, dead. Odo wiped his brow from the sweat that had formed there.
“Why do you protect it?” he asked her now, coming closer, “Why watch your husband perish for the sake of this infant?” For the second time Melena met Odo’s eyes. She spoke, her voice steady despite the rising pain of her loss.
“I protect the cause, the child that will bring an end to Gor’s tyranny. That task is far greater than that of wife or mother.” She looked away, averting her eyes from the muddled heap that was Taf on the floor. Odo smiled down at her.
“So, there is a child.” The club connected with Melena’s skull.