With the guard’s boot planted above her heart and the maternal slur ringing in her ears, Atrocious made a rash split-second decision. She grasped the limb that had been so generously offered to her and yanked and twisted roughly, putting her entire body into the movement. The sudden momentum caught the guard by surprise and caused her to tumble from the horse with a clattering sound not unlike that of a drawer of cutlery being emptied out. The grin on Atrocious’ face as her tormentor slammed heavily into the mud with an impact that sent a crown of dark fetid water splashing around her prone body could not have been wider.
“I will cleave you in twain!” The guard spluttered the threat through a face full of muck, but before she could rouse herself under the weight of mail and sword, Atrocious had sprung up and into the saddle. It was a risky move, if the horse were particularly loyal or well trained, it might refuse to work for her. Fortunately the mare sprang forward with just the lightest application of heel and Atrocious was hurtling down the road at a grand speed before the unfortunate guard had extricated herself from the mire.
Traveling by horse was a great deal more comfortable than traveling by foot had been. The mare was fast and eager to run, a well bred animal indeed. Atrocious was a fairly decent judge of horse flesh, having spent many happy months as a child working as a stable-hand for the local lord. That was before she’d discovered that work was for fools. You could toil on and on as much as you liked and maybe even save up enough to buy a pretty dress or a new basket for taking goods to grandma’s hovel, but you were still a peasant at the end of the day. Atrocious did not like being a peasant. The hours were terrible and the food was worse. She had therefore quite logically decided to take another path and become a thief. The animal thundering along beneath her represented the pinnacle of her thieving career up to that point as she traveled West, a beam of pride firmly affixed to her incongruously cherubic face.