Dag stopped, the woman was now close even though it seemed that she didn't notice him.
As she ran, she turned to him.
"Aaaaah!" the woman shouted, frightened to see Dag suddenly popping up in front of her.
She crashed into Dag's chest, almost causing him to fall.
"Leave me, ugly son of..."
"My Lady, calm down! I don't want to hurt you!" Dag interrupted her.
The woman took a few steps back.
"Who... who are you?" she said softly, frightened.
"My name is Dag. What happened to you?" he asked.
When these words were spoken, before the woman could answer back, they both heard a sound of horses coming from that same direction.
"Help me! Please!" said the panicked woman.
"But... but..." said Dag, caught off guard.
A few feet behind them, an old tree had its trunk hollow and swollen toward the lower end.
"This way. Silence!" Dag continued, guiding the woman to the tree, pointing to the hollow in which she should have been hiding.
The woman lowered herself and managed to get into the lowest part of the tree trunk.
Dag removed a small bush from the ground and put it in front of the cavity, perfectly concealing the woman.
He turned and walked away.
After about a minute, three men on horseback approached him: they were all warriors, he could tell from the armor they were wearing and the weapons.
One of the 3 horses wore armor, metal plates on the sides of the snout, metal ear guards and a knitted crush on the back and hips. His knight was supposed to be a famous warrior in his Clan.
Dag pretended to collect herbs and wild plants from the woods.
"You, boy!" said the man on the armored horse.
Dag pointed to himself: "Who? Me?"
"Yes, you. Where did she go?" asked the man. He had a menacing tone, and Dag sensed that if those men found her, her end would probably be atrocious.
"Who are you talking about?" he said, pretending to know anything.
"Don't be silly, kid. That woman. She's got something that belongs to me. Tell me where she is!" he continued.
The warrior began to get angry.
The other two men on horseback also stared at him, trying to figure out if his answers were sincere.
"I haven't seen anyone. It's just me around here. I was picking herbs and edible berries when I saw you coming," said Dag, trying to be as convincing as possible.
"Commander, the boy lies"
One of the two men behind spoke.
Dag was surprised but remained impassive. He couldn't give in the eye.
"Why would I lie to you... what interest could I possibly have for a fugitive?" continued Dag.
"Why are you carrying a sword, boy?" the commander asked.
"You never know what kind of dangers await for you in these woods. Lately, I've been seeing dangerous wild animals," answered Dag.
"Come on, she can't be far!" the man on the horse in his armor signaled to the other two to continue the search, believing Dag's story.
Without question, the warriors walked away.
Dag breathed a sigh of relief.
He approached the tree in which the woman was hiding.
"They're gone, you can get out of there" he said.
The bush moved and from the crack in the tree trunk came the terrified woman.
"Where are they? Did they leave? Are you sure?"
"Calm down. They've gone away, I've convinced them to follow a path that won't take them anywhere," said Dag, trying to calm her down.
The woman breathed a sigh of relief too.
She was a woman of medium stature and a little chubby, in her fifties.
"Now if you don't mind, can you explain to me why were you fleeing from those people?" asked him.
"Yes. I apologize and I thank you for saving me. See, that man on the black armored horse is one of the strongest warriors of the Horns Of Heimdallr" said the woman, gaining Dag's attention.
She continued: "My husband and I lived in Anlegg, a village of a few inhabitants about ten miles from here. This morning those men broke into our house and killed him before my eyes!"
The woman began to cry profusely.
"Those bastards! They destroyed my family... my life..." continued.
Dag felt a deep sense of sadness on him.
"How did it happen? And why did they kill your husband, what did he do so badly?" asked Dag.
"Absolutely nothing! He was always a formidable warrior until he got sick a few months ago," she said.
"I'm so sorry" replied Dag.
"After I finished with him, those bastards tried to rape me. They wanted my husband's necklace at all costs, the last memory I had left of him. Luckily I managed to hit one of them while the others were distracted and escape."
The woman was in tears, she was suffering a lot.
"Your husband's necklace?" Dag asked.
"Yes, this one"
The woman put a hand under her robe, at breast height, and pulled out a string necklace with a metallic pendant.
"Can I see it?" Dag replied shyly.
The woman hesitated for a moment, then handed it over to Dag.
The pendant was a metal horseshoe. The value of that object was paltry, but its affective value was certainly higher.
Dag handed it back into the woman's hands.
"Those men were so cruel that they wanted to take away even the last memory you had of him. I don't understand why, but it's really bad. The important thing is that you are safe now".
On the surface, although Dag had looked at it carefully, it looked like a normal object. What if it had magical powers? He wasn't able to say it just by looking at it or holding it in his hand and the woman didn't seem to know much about it.
She again wore the necklace around her neck.
"I'll take you back to your village, it's not safe here. Do you have anyone to stay with?" asked Dag, trying to comfort the woman, who stepped up and stopped crying.
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