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Strong Woman and the Siege

Chapter 1

Jill Slayburgh was furious. Snatching up her heavy crossbow on the way out of her cabin, she burst through the thick wooden door and aimed the weapon squarely at the startled official's jaw.

"Get off my land," Jill commanded.

The official was one Skinder Flake, a smarmy weasel of a man with little courage and less honor. He eyed the point of the crossbow's bolt and stuttered a reply. "Ms. Slayburgh, I-I'm just doing my job. Mr. Hoggins is very upset. He told me to tell you you had to be off his land--"

"My land," Jill corrected firmly.

"Well, he said if you weren't off by noon, he'd employ the use of force."

"I've been on this land months before Hoggins even came to town. I built this place myself. You know Hoggins is nothing more than a claim jumper. How can you look me in the eye and tell me I have to get out, you spineless imbecile?"

Skinder shifted his gaze to her auburn hair, then down at her feet. "I-I'm just doing my job, ma'am."

"You tell your Mr. Hoggins if he wants to steal this claim, he's welcome to come down here and try. Get out of here."

"Right away, ma'am." Skinder Flake slunk away at once, obviously thankful to leave unscathed. He did not look back. Jill watched him go, sighed, and lowered her crossbow. She had designed and constructed the crossbow herself. It took special foot long crossbolts, was equipped with a fast loading device, and had a bolt case attached to one side. She leaned it against the wall just inside the door.

For the past month, she had had to evict more and more of Shauve Hoggins' lecherous minions from the premises. Recently, they had begun to confront her in town, too. Things were coming to a head fast.

As dark as deepest night,
A fortune hunter's delight,
Ensconced away from you,
The breeze may whisper a clue.