|The keep loomed into the distance as Dochia slid down the steep slope.
A rock thrown with skill landed a few inches from her feet, and she jerked her head in search of the culprit.
"Left your gown at home?" a boy about her age sneered from behind a boulder and cut short the thrill of her forbidden adventure.
He had left his hiding and was coming towards her, with blue menace in his eyes. Brown menace answered, their stature, breeches and shirt matching in an eerie way.
Dochia recoiled when the boy neared as if he dared her to prove him wrong. Out of reflex, her fist landed on his face, and he swayed. The boy let out a loud cry and a vile curse.
"Something of matter?" a man asked as he approached them.
"I'd say she's a girl, pa." the boy grinned, nursing his jaw.
"I'd say not, after the bruise you'd have tomorrow, son."
He then looked closer at her and grinned.
"There's only one way to find out."
Dochia drew back in disgust at the leer on his face and raised her knee when the man made good on his threat. He doubled over, raised and advanced on her with a mutinous look.
She took the stance and tried to hide the best she could the trembling in her legs.
"He's young master Stan, pa." a younger boy yelled, leaving his hiding place behind the boulder.
The man gave her another appraising look, and she flexed her fists daring him to get closer.
"Don't get smart with me!" he retorted, then he chewed at his lip and spit "Boy." as he turned to leave.
Dochia withheld the witty answer threatening on her lips and rushed to the keep.
It had been way too close!
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