I lifted my face from the ice where I lay and found myself looking into eyes open wider than my own. A severed head lay on its side in front of me, a rough, bloody tear across its neck and dried blood massed around a crack in the skull.

As my memory returned I recognized the braids of long dark hair and the scruffy beard full of crumbs. He was one of the slavers who had carried me away into the sky. While his friends had their way with the other girls, he had ripped my dress from my body and was trying to force himself on me when... whatever happened... happened.

Beyond the head, chunks of twisted metal were scattered across the ice. The edges were blackened and heat had burned and blistered the paint.

I could barely feel my hands or the front of my naked body. Without the warmth of the fire and the bright sun in the sky, I would probably have become another block of ice on the flat white plain where I lay.

I pushed myself to my feet. Pain shot through my left ankle as I placed weight upon it. I must have twisted it and it was already swelling despite the cold.

I wrapped my arms around my bare body and shivered before I turned to look at the source of the heat. I could smell pork cooking, but I had seen no pigs on the slavers' flying machine.

The slavers' machine lay on the ice, the long cylindrical core broken into three pieces. Fire burned around it and the bloody flesh of torn bodies was scattered among the metal debris.

Other bodies lay in the fire, their flesh blackened and burned almost to the bone; dead slavers, and other women and children they had kidnapped in their raid that day. In the chaos of the attack I had not seen everyone they carried on board, but I had seen a few familiar faces. I hoped they had died painlessly, for that would be a better fate than they would have faced if they had survived to reach wherever the slavers were taking us.

I wanted to call for help, but feared that if I had survived, perhaps some slavers had too. I might be freezing, but I was free for the moment and intended to stay that way. I stood close to the flames to warm my body and water flowed around my toes as the fire melted the ice. The flying machine was already sinking into the growing blue pool. Metal creaked and water splashed as the nose sank lower, and before the day was out it would probably be gone.

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