Chapter 6 :: First Duties
Published: 25-10-04 - Last update: 25-10-04
Comments: Encore une fois merci ma Clo pour tes corrections ^^ Et merci à tous ceux qui me lisent ^_^
Chapter: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Escorted by a mercenary guard, I travelled to my new post: a small village far to the North. As the Priests had told me, it was in a newly conquered region and the locals were very distrustful of anything not belonging to their own people. After several weeks of hard travel, we arrived in the village where I was to take up my duties. Travelling in such ‘primitive’ conditions, I had some trouble deciding where I actually was, but my guess was somewhere in the land that would later be called Germany.
Although the village itself was free of any occupying forces, there was a military camp nearby whose mission, I was told, was to pacify the remaining resisting forces in the forest nearby. I was glad in the beginning of the soldiers nearby as I was unsure how the locals would greet me. At first they weren’t exactly hostile but neither were they friendly. I couldn’t understand their dislike of me until the moment I saw some soldiers on leave enter the village. Their attitude literally stunned me. I couldn’t believe I was seeing Roman soldiers! They were rude, bullied anybody they encountered and took anything they wanted or caught their eye. I could sense that the villagers were angry but also that they feared repressions. I was so shocked that several minutes had gone by without me noticing. A sudden cry of despair broke me out of my trance. Localizing the cry, my blood froze in my veins. The soldiers had seen a young woman, barely out of puberty, and had cornered her between them leaving her no place to run to. Before I knew it I was marching with a very angry pace towards them and without a word I pushed my way into the circle, grabbed the girl and left by the other side. There I released the girl and with no need for encouragement she ran away. Turning around I now faced the four soldiers. I could see in their eyes that they were far from sober but weren’t far enough in the drink to loose consciousness. Hands on my hips, I defied them silently. One of them, bolder than the others, took a step forward but was held back by his companions. They quickly whispered something between them and finally turned around and left the village.
After that incident, the villagers were less hostile to me and slowly began opening themselves to me. At first it was only a glance but as time passed and I began taking more and more their side against the soldiers, the glances turned to brief smiles and then a greeting and idle conversation. It was true that as time went by, I began more and more to take sides with my villagers than the local garnison. I had hoped that those four soldiers had been the only ones of their kind but I was proven wrong again and again. The garnison was far from being the elite troops that were well behaved in any circumstances. These soldiers were scum at worst and bullies at best.
Listening and discreet questioning taught me that they were indeed still fighters in the forest around the village that waged a sort of guerrilla against the soldiers. I wasn’t particularly interested in who won or who lost, but I knew that in case the Roman losses were heavy the village would suffer from it, so I made it a point to keep myself informed. It was so that I learned that the villagers helped the guerilleros in any way they could: food, clothes, weapons, and if needed a hiding place.
I knew I had won the full trust of the village when they woke me up one late winter night. I was surprised when I opened my door to find the headman there with the village druid and two men supporting a severely wounded man. Without thinking I urged them inside and closed the door behind them. While the men were setting the wounded one down, I grabbed the blanket on my shoulders, threw it at them and then went to the fire which I blew back to life. Not pausing to wonder about why they had come to see me, I set water on the fire to heat and began taking out clean cloth and healing herbs. When I finally turned around, I was alone with the druid. I had not had many opportunities to talk to him but we had a kind of mutual respect for each other and each other’s Gods. It was only then that it hit me as odd that he as well as the headman would bring one of their own to me. My puzzlement must have shown because the druid began explaining his presence to me.
- You wonder why I am here, don’t you Priest?
- I am indeed puzzled, Druid. This is the first time a wounded person has been brought to me but that you, the village healer, should bring him to me certainly qualifies as out of the ordinary.
- I brought this man to you for two reasons, Sara.
His sudden use of my name startled me. In the six months had I been in the village only a handful of people called me by my name, and even then it was Priest Sara. That the druid would call me by my name implied, at least I thought so, that he was addressing me now as a colleague and someone to be trusted. My curiosity was increased two-fold.
- The first reason I brought him, is because his wounds are beyond me. I have great knowledge of herbs and ointments, but wounds are alas beyond me. I had hoped your Temple would have taught you something about them.
- I do not, as you know Sir, belong to a healing Temple but I did receive some instruction in the treatment of wounds.
- Whatever you will be able to do for this man is more than I can. However there is something you should know about this man. This is the second reason I brought him to you. In the months that have passed you have repeatedly shown favouritism for our cause instead of that of your own people. Many a time you have even openly defied them in our advantage. That's why I believe that this man is safer in your hands.
- What do you mean? I don’t understand why he would be safer in my hands than yours.
- He’s a rebel.
Once again I was startled. I took a closer look at the man but if I hadn’t been told I wouldn’t have know. I had had no idea what to expect from those warriors and thus imagined strange things about them but apparently I had been wrong. This man was dressed no differently than the villagers and neither did he sport wild body paintings or camouflage make-up. Had I encountered him in the village I would probably not have noticed him.
- If he’s a rebel, what is he doing in the village? This is not a safe place for him.
- But in his condition, neither is the forest especially in the winter when wolves prowl nearer inhabited lands. Before he passed out, he told me that he had had the misfortune of encountering a patrol while coming for supplies. He managed to escape but being too wounded to hide his trail…
- He has leaded the soldiers right to the village.
Now I could see why he had been brought to me. To find this man the soldiers would not hesitate to burn the village down if they could. However the one place they wouldn’t dare touch, was my home which also served as Temple. The druid was right, the only place this man was safe was with me.
- Before worrying about the soldiers, let’s first get him back into the world of the living. We can worry about him and the soldiers afterwards.
The druid nodded in agreement and went to fetch the water while I took a closer look at the wounds. They weren’t life threatening but left untreated they would fester and poison him. I began to clean them and after several minutes of delicate sewing I was ready. With the help of the druid I transported him to my bed where the man sighted deeply and went from unconsciousness to sleep.
- How long do you think we have before the soldiers come looking for him?
The words had only just left my lips that panic cries rose from the village heralding the arrival of the Roman soldiers.
- Blast it! They’re already here. Druid! Leave by the back door, now!
Moving faster than I had thought possible, I was at the front door and I went outside. The soldiers had indeed come to the village and were searching it house by house. They were anything but gentle in the process and I longed to express my displeasure but I couldn’t risk leaving my house and my patient. Finally a detachment of those bullies marched up to my home situated on the outskirt of the village. Their determined looks faded when they saw me standing before them and obviously barring them the way into my home.
- Move you worthless bitch!
The leader of the band had obviously no idea who I was but not so for his men. Several loud intakes of breath indicated that they at least knew who I was. Without moving a hair, I addressed the leader in Latin.
- Insulting a Priest is punishable by death, Sergeant. Or had you forgotten that?
At my words, the leader took a frightened step backwards. His eyes went wide when he finally saw who he had spoken to. But as quick as the fear had shone in his eyes, as quick it was to leave again. He knew, as I did, that my threats were meaningless here where I had no back-up from a full Temple or even a single mercenary. The only ones who could perform the execution were the garnison, and it would support him over me. He knew it, I knew it. For several moments we eyed each other. Suddenly an evil grin appeared on his lips and he rushed forward. Grabbing my arm he flung me aside and shouted to his men to search my home. However all the soldiers did was shuffle their feet nervously. Not that they feared me, but the Gods… The Gods they did fear and they were not about to violate one of Their Temples.
The Sergeant insulted them harshly before turning tail and leaving my house. Apparently he was not all that confident himself in violating holy ground, at least not ground belonging to his own Gods. The group rejoined the rest of the search parties which in the end all left with empty hands. A collective sight rose from the village as the last of the soldiers passed the gates and left. Not waiting to see what the villagers would do, I rushed back inside and went to check on the man. He was still feverish but he was soundly asleep which a good sign was at least. Exhausted from my interrupted sleep, the surgery and my head-to-head with the soldiers, I took my boots off and crawled into bed next to the man. I was not one to worry about sharing my sheets with a stranger, although they usually were in better health than this one. His presence next to me made me realise that it had indeed been a long time since somebody had shared a night with me. The villagers had until recently distrusted me, and the soldiers were not the kind of men I wanted to share pleasures with. I had not thought about it but I was lonely, very lonely. As if reading my thoughts, the man turned around and took me into his warm and strong arms.
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