The raiders come at sunset, charging out of the west with the sun at their backs, blinding us. We were not unprepared for them, entirely. It is the end of the harvest, the weather still good enough for the boats to cross the north sea; someone was going to be hit this autumn. This year we are the unlucky ones. I run for the church, the safe place, with its narrow windows and steeple tower, the bundled arrows and bows stored near each loophole, but I don’t make it. Something hits me in the back and I fall to the ground. I am surprised that it doesn’t hurt. In fact, I feel nothing at all but the bruise on my face where it struck the ground. I also cannot move. Cannot turn my head as I see the raiders reach the church before half the village, as I see the men inside wait too long to close the door, as I see our menfolk slaughtered, and the women sorted out for rape now or carrying off for a life of slavery and rape later. My mother is in the first group. My sisters are in the second. I cannot even close my eyes, and the burning of the church roof provides plenty of light that night to watch the survivors gather the dead and wounded. I am counted among the first, and it is the dirt of the grave that finally darkens my vision and stops my breath. I am 12 years old.