The only thought in his head was to run. Even though he thought his lungs would burst and he was bleeding from cuts all over his body. Even though in the distance behind him, his kingdom was crumbling and the screams of the dying echoed in his head.
The sole survivor of a horrible massacre, he had to run and live to fight another day. He was determined not to let their deaths be forgotten.
But for all his desperation, he was still an injured twelve-year-old boy. He couldn't go on like this forever no matter how much he wanted to put distance between himself and the carnage. People would surely be looking for him.
He wasn't sure how far he ran but eventually his fatigue and blood loss caught up with him. This was it. He was certain this was where he would die. The last thing he thought before losing consciousness was that he wouldn't be able to avenge them after all.
"I say, that Veronica May is something else!" one of the village women gossiped.
"Acting like the master of the house at age fourteen and trying to keep an entire farm running on her own. Who does she think she is? She ought to accept the cobbler's marriage proposal in order to be taken care of," another replied. "She's far too stubborn!"
Veronica heard them and chose to ignore it. There was no point picking a fight. She absolutely refused to marry the cobbler—a man in his late thirties who was widowed with three young children to take care of.
She may not know much about farming but she was no slouch. As an adult in a teenage girl's body, she was more than capable of handling things herself.
Her name wasn't actually Veronica May. It was Daisy Miller. She had been an ordinary twenty-four-year-old office worker with dreams of moving to a big house in the country where she could have a magnificent garden when she got into an accident.
Next thing she knew, she was here and lying on a bed being told her parents had died of the same illness that had nearly taken her life. She had been incredibly confused at first. It took a while to accept the fact that this wasn't a dream but she got there eventually. It would be impossible not to with all the evidence in front of her.
Daisy had been a tall, boyish woman with dirty blonde hair, freckles across her nose, and boring brown eyes. Veronica was a short, curvy brunette bombshell with eyes the color of emeralds and a heart-shaped face with a flawless complexion.
She had no shortage of suitors but it was totally creepy considering she was now inhabiting the body of a child. She wanted nothing to do with that!
As far as she could tell, she ended up possessing the body of someone who died in the far-distant past. There was no way she would find love with all these backward, old-fashioned men as a modern girl.
That was incredibly low on her list of priorities because her dream had, in a very strange way, come true. She couldn't care too much about missing out on modern amenities once she got used to it because she had a farm. A whole farm almost entirely to herself to take care of!
There were a few farmhands who used to be employed by Veronica's parents that she kept on for help but she handled many of the chores and all of the logistics herself. Since she used to be an accountant, this was right up her alley.
Daisy didn't care what any of the gossipy women around here thought. She wouldn't let anyone mess with the happiness she had found for herself here.
Her life back in modern times hadn't been all that great but she preferred not to think about that now. She was happy living a simple life at one with the soil. Why didn't they understand that?
The farmhands were kind, helpful people as well. They reminded her somewhat of her old coworkers, who had been her only point of social contact. That was the problem with being a workaholic. She had been trying so hard to get a promotion and the accompanying raise so she could afford her dream sooner and ended up working a lot of overtime.
All of that overworking had led to being careless and not seeing a semi-truck crashing into her lane as she yawned. In the blink of an eye, life as she knew it was over.
But in a way, all of that hard work had gotten her what she wanted. It landed her here.
Daisy was relieved when the gossipers were out of earshot. Happiness bloomed inside her the closer she got to her farm. She had only gone into town to buy a few necessities and now she could head back to do the laundry.
Sometimes she really missed things like washing machines. And don't get her started on toilets! Outhouses were SO much worse than port-a-potties had ever been.
Those were small trifles though considering how at peace she was living life on her own terms. Nothing and no one could get her to do anything she didn't want to anymore. Dying and being reborn in the past had set her free.
With a wave to some of the farmhands, Daisy went off to fill buckets in the stream and bring them back to do the laundry. They didn't have a well on their property so they had to rely on the stream for everything. It was a bit of a walk but she had gotten used to it.
It helped that Veronica's body was clearly used to these chores. The buckets hardly weighed anything at all with her muscles.
She was on her fifth trip when she heard a small, pained moan coming from somewhere nearby. Was it a wounded animal? Or had a child from the village wandered out this far and gotten lost?
Searching for the sound of the noise took a few minutes but eventually she discovered the body of a boy who seemed to be about ten. He was covered in injuries but that wasn't the most noticeable thing about him. His hair was red but not in the traditional sense. It was the color of a ripe tomato.
Daisy had never seen such a color without the use of hair dye. But they wouldn't have hair dye this far back in time, would they?
"Hey, can you hear me?" she asked the boy urgently. "Say something if you can!"
He didn't respond. She was afraid to move him but also knew she couldn't leave him out here on his own. Night would be falling in a few hours and if he stayed, the wild animals would get him for sure.
With a sigh, she realized she was going to have to lug him back to the house herself then return for the buckets to carry on with the laundry. His injuries needed to be treated first.
Picking him up and situating him was harder than carrying him back. He didn't weigh much more than the water buckets but she had never carried a person before. Somehow she managed to get him onto the kitchen table after setting down a canvas tarp to prevent blood from getting onto it.
Daisy was first-aid certified so she knew what she needed to do for him but wasn't sure if she would be able to pull it off using the materials here. There wasn't any disinfectant so she was going to have to borrow alcohol from the neighbors.
They parted with it rather reluctantly but they acquiesced in the end since it was for an injury. She poured a generous amount over his wounds and, though he was unconscious, he twitched from the pain. She imagined it felt much like having hand sanitizer poured onto a cut and winced in sympathy.
Once the wounds were good and clean, she patted them dry and bandaged them. At this point, he seemed more bandage than boy. The shallowest wounds were on his face as mere scratches. They probably wouldn't scar the way the ones on his arms, legs, and back would aside from the nasty slash across his forehead.
She moved him to the bed in Veronica's old room since she was now using the room that used to belong to Mr. and Mrs. May, as it was bigger. Gingerly tucking the quilt around him, she wondered when the last time he ate or drank anything was. Probably not for a while.
With how much blood he lost, he was likely dehydrated. She fetched a ladle and some water from the large tub she had out in the yard and began gently administering it to him.
Some spilled but Daisy was satisfied that most of it seemed to go down his throat. Good. Whoever this kid was, he needed it. Once that was done, she headed back to the stream and returned to her original task. She hoped she would be able to get it all done before dark now that she had been sidetracked.