The Divorcee is a Wicked Black Belly Chapter 35: The awakening of a sleeping Amazon

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Taken entirely by surprise, the men scrambled for their weapons. One man lunged at An Ning with a knife. The sword slashed and cut the man's arm off. The man screamed and staggered to the ground, blood bathing the ground underneath his feet.

Another man fired his gun but quick as a rattlesnake about to release its venom, An Ning deflected the oncoming bullet by flipping the sword so the blade received its full impact. The sword was very sharp and very strong. It was made from a plank of metal taken from a ruin of a castle that Hippolyta once razed to the ground.

The metal was hidden under tons of bricks but a corner had escaped the dust and the sun had shone on it, momentarily blinding Hippolyta. She took it home and polished it, revealing the golden gleam underneath. The sword, one of several military grade weapons Enxuo took with him when he followed Ceres to M City, had seen countless battles with Hippolyta wielding it like a second skin. It hungered for blood and after years of being away from its mistress, it finally awakened to a bloodbath wielded by an unfamiliar woman with the same strength and cold-blooded focus as its master.

The men surrounded An Ning like an angry pack of wolves. The screaming of the man who had lost his arm was now muted to wretched whimpers. He was losing a lot of blood and was close to a hemorrhagic shock. His companions looked at him with varying degrees of fear. The lost limb looked gruesome as was the head with its wide staring eyes. The men turned to An Ning, itching to kill her and tear her apart from limb to limb.

They were not given a chance. An Ning struck while they were still deciding how to end her life, intent on enjoying her pain and torturing her until she begged them to kill her.

An Ning lunged at the man who was their leader, a small wiry man who normally fades into the background; the type of man who prefers not to publicly show his own depravity, content to stay behind the scene as he manipulates and spreads his villainous deeds hidden behind a kind smile and an unprepossessing countenance.

An Ning eviscerated him with an expert twist of the sword. The man was not expecting it. He thought of himself as safe, enveloped in a cloak of invincibility so he died with a stunned look on his face, a bewildered question in his eyes. His guts spilled out on the ground still steaming from the lingering warmth of his body.

The remaining pirates stared horrified at their fallen leader and at An Ning, who flashed a chilling smile. With their leader's death, the rest of the pirates became totally unglued. The second man who had been raping the woman gave a guttural scream of rage and pointed his gun at An Ning. His fingers, however, were too unsteady. He fumbled on the trigger so the knife thrown his way lodged unimpeded in his ear before he had time to shoot.

He fell to the ground with an ugly thump. His death seemed to incensed the pirates into renewed frenzy. Now totally unhinged, the men attacked An Ning in a frenzy of combined terror and rage.

The sword sang mightily as it felt the vicious killing intent of the woman as she slashed and cut and wound and diced. The blood was everywhere. The fire continued to burn. Screams and whimpers filled the quiet night until they, too, died quietly away.

It was this scene Taey and his men witnessed when they burst into the clearing after An Ning. They looked at the pirates, most of whom were hacked and maimed; and the woman standing over their bodies gripping a sword that dripped with blood.

Taey felt his hand tremble when An Ning threw him a glance. She didn't speak, merely sheathed her sword as she ran to the woman still tied to the pole.

The woman was sobbing quietly with mingled pain and fear. An Ning cut the rope around her wrist and took the jacket one of the men handed her and helped the woman put it on. The woman was as docile as a confused child. She was very thin and there were lacerations on her legs as if she had been brutally whipped.

"Give me some water," An Ning said, extending a hand to Taey, who took out a water canteen from a belt around his waist and gave it to her.

"Drink it," An Ning said, carefully putting the canteen's lip on the woman's bleeding mouth. The woman whimpered but An Ning was insistent. The woman took a sip of the water and stopped, pushing the container away.

"Drink all of it," An Ning ordered, and there was something in her voice, the voice of command that the woman instinctively responded to. She downed the rest of the water then looked at An Ning.

"Do you know who I am?" An Ning asked, holding the woman's confused eyes with hers.

The woman's eyes wandered around An Ning's face. It was a young face, beautiful in the conventional way yet strangely compelling. Even in repose, the face seemed energized by thought. It was not a face that would compel poets to write lines of poetry. Rather, it was a face you would look at once and never forget.

The woman stared at An Ning with her mouth open. She swallowed convulsively but she didn't speak, merely continued staring at An Ning until unbidden tears welled up in her eyes.

"Is it really you?" she whispered, a sort of desperation creeping into the voice.

"It is I," An Ning answered. "Hippolyta's granddaughter."

The woman's head snapped up.

"You're not her," she said. "But you look exactly like her only younger."

An Ning smiled. "I'm glad you think so. Where are the others?"

"Hiding." The woman hesitated. "They don't remember. None of us did. We've forgotten everything. So we stayed here, hoping someone would remember and take us back home. That water....it was from her grove, wasn't it?"

"Yes. I remembered what Enxuo said about grandmother asking him to take a bath in the waterfall. I hoped for the same effect. Of you getting back your memory and remembering who you really were."

"Are you here to take us home?"

"Yes. I'm taking you back to Saravia."

The woman sobbed brokenly, her thin shoulders shaking under the jacket.

"I remember Enxuo," she said, smiling through her tears. "I remember him. I remember his son, Trei. I remember Trei's mother, Merius."

An Ning waited in silence, watching as the woman covered her face with her hands and sobbed. She did not offer comfort. She did not offer solace. She did not say a word because there was really nothing to say. She could only believe that the healing will start as soon as they were back in Hippolyta's grove.

The wretched sobbing finally ended into quiet tears. The woman lifted her head and looked at An Ning.

"What is your name? Are you really Hippolyta's granddaughter?"

"They call me An Ning. And I am Hippolyta's granddaughter. And you are?"

"I am Nyra."

"Nice to meet you, Nyra. I brought some food. Are you hungry?"

"I am but not yet. You have to see the rest of the women first. No," she said when An Ning motioned to her wounds, "later. There's plenty of time now that you're here."

With the troops carrying torches and lights, Nyra led them to a tall falling-down building filled with rubble. The building was completely gutted inside. There used to be a large courtyard but grass and shrubs have taken over and everything just looked sad and desolate. The lights eerily alighted on a long shattered staircase, their moving shadows making creepy silhouettes as they came upon another building designed like an apartment complex.

The lights illuminated the twisted railings that resembled thin matchsticks missing several teeth. Nyra touched An Ning's arm. An Ning signalled for a halt and immediately, the entire parameter bustled with tents and lights, the hum of technology, and the smell of gunpowder.

Nyra led An Ning to the back of a gutted building down a short flight of stairs. It was dark and the wind seemed lighter inside. Taey secured the lights on the caving walls. The lights illuminated chipped tiles, tufts of grass where the tiles went missing, stones and boulders that served as walls, and bodies...of dirty and emaciated women and children cowering on the cold ground with stark fear on their faces.

Nyra turned to An Ning. "Water," she choked.

An Ning signaled to Taey. He and the rest of the men handed several water canteens to the two women. They did not offer their help or come nearer to the watching crowd, merely stood a little distance from them, ready to blast any intruder that threatens them with harm.

The wretchedness and abject poverty, the complete isolation from all things familiar that these women of legend valiantly endured filled An Ning with rage and hatred. Yu Yan had a lot to answer for. And she was going to pay. An Ning did not want her destruction but her complete annihilation. Yu Yan will be wiped out from the face of the planet, even if she had to sell her soul to the devil to do it.
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