The screaming had finally stopped.
Sarina walked among the rows of wooden pikes lined up along the riverbank. The smell of jungle rot clung to the morning fog and mixed with the stench of fresh death. Skewered on top of each pike was the body of an Imperial soldier. Most of them had been on a pike all night, occasionally crying out as their weight pushed the pointed tip deeper into their bodies. It was a sweet symphony to her ears. Now in the early light of dawn as Serina studied them looking for any who still lived, they were little more than meat. She was slightly melancholy as she made her inspections. She'd so enjoyed the music of their agony.
The Imperial enemy had come swiftly, led by a general far, far away. A bloodthirsty, vicious man she had yet to meet. The soldiers were so brave at first, filled with the arrogance of certain victory. But they made the first mistake of combat--they'd never understood the Diamond Back Clan. Serina had been the Queen of these proud people for over eleven hundred years and in that time she'd faced many determined enemies, but nothing like these relentless Imperials. They were better armed and equipped than any enemy she and her clan had ever faced before. But, in the end, they'd fallen like all the rest.
Hopefully this legion would be the last of them. Certainly there was nothing in the jungle so important that their leaders would want to sustain such losses.
Sarina stopped in front of one soldier with a lot of gold on his uniform. His long dark hair hung in his face stringy and wet from the jungle rain. Large parasites crawled on his body leaving small sores here and there as they devoured his flesh. He looked like a young man, somewhere around four hundred. From his uniform she guessed him to be their commander, the one who led the charge. "Tell me what I want to know and I will kill you quickly."
The commander lifted his head slightly, a trail of blood streaming from his mouth but he did not speak. She wasn't even sure he could.
"Who has sent you all here to die? Who is your leader?" she asked.
The commander lulled his head back and forth, his eyes rolling white into their sockets. Sarina thought the man too far gone to answer and was about to walk away when he croaked out, "General Gavin Theron."
Sarina turned and stared at him. His head fell onto his chest, more blood spilling from his mouth. "I've heard of this man, this general. Some have called him the greatest warrior who ever lived. If he's such a fierce soldier, why has he not come to face me himself? Why does he send such weak men to do his bidding?"
The leader's tongue, dry and cracked, peeked from his mouth to touch his lips. "No ... one knows you," he said in a voice barely above a whisper.
Sarina turned her head to the side considering this information. She guessed that was true, she never ventured out of the jungle and not many dared to venture in.
"Please," the man rasped. "Kill me like you promised."
Pulling a long, double edged knife from a sheath on her leg, Sarina drove the blade into the leader's eye socket and pierced his brain. She twisted the knife back and forth until gore ran down the man's cheek. His body went limp immediately. With little effort, she lifted him off the pike and tossed him on the ground. He landed with a heavy thump. Two of her males came forward. They kept their heads low and fell to their knees before her.
"Take this man and carve the meat from his bones. Check the pikes for other fresh dead--for they too will be our supper. With an Imperial Legion on our table we shall burst from such a feast!" Sarina said loud enough for all her clan to hear. "We shall gorge ourselves on the flesh and blood of our enemies this day to celebrate out victory!"