Chapter 7 :: First Duties - part 2
Published: 12-03-05 - Last update: 12-03-05
Comments: Voilà après beaucoup de temps la suite de cette histoire. Merci de bien vouloir me suivre malgré le fait que je la maje pas souvent. Here it is folk's, the next chapter of this story. Thanks for reading me even if I don't make as many updates as I should.
Chapter: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
The following morning I slowly awoke from my sleep but when I felt the weight of an arm around my hip, I was wide-awake in a second. It had been so long since someone had shared my bed that I no longer was used to it. However after I took a look at the man next to me, I remembered the events of the previous night. Quickly I checked the man's temperature but it was normal, the fever of the previous night had receded. Slowly I got out of the bed and went to the hearth to rekindle the fire. But to my dismay I had forgotten to bank the coals and the fire was dead. Cursing the soldiers and myself, I struggled into my clothes and boots and left my home.
As I came to the square I saw that many of the villagers where repairing what damage the soldiers had done the previous night. I feared for a moment that they might blame me for their losses, but that was not the case. I was instead welcomed with smiles and nods of gratitude from everyone I met. When I finally arrived at the woodcutter, he greeted me warmly and when I told him I was in need of firewood, he sent his oldest son with me to carry it back to my home. I would have paid for it, as was customary, but the man flatly refused and wouldn’t even hear my protests. With the help of the youth I got my fire lit up again and I could finally start preparing breakfast.
I was just getting ready to eat it when a knock at my door stopped me. Somewhat annoyed I went to answer it and was surprised to see the Druid on my front porch. Remembering my manners I invited him in and asked if he would share my meal, which he gladly accepted. We did not talk during that time however when we were both finished, he pushed his plate away and addressed me.
- So, young Sara, what now?
- I beg your pardon, Sir?
- What will you do now? Yester-eve you accepted a rebel in your home and treated him. As I understand your Temple rules, it is your right to grant asylum to anyone. However your own ruler decreed that anyone helping an enemy would be arrested and executed immediately. So, which way will you follow?
- As always Sir, I follow my own path. I have faith in my God. If he had not approved of my actions, he would have let me known. Therefore I don't fear the soldiers and their centurion.
- You have much courage for someone so young. I am much impressed.
- To survive the slave-pens, one needs to have a strong will and courage.
- The slave-pens ?!? You… you were a slave!?!
- I was. I was granted my freedom when I entered my Temple and became an apprentice.
My revelation greatly surprised the Druid whose eyes betrayed his shock. I think he didn't expect the local Priest to have such a surprising origin. However I got the impression that his respect for me had been greatly increased. This was confirmed when we continued our conversation. He had become more open, friendlier, as if I was a fellow Druid and not a Priest from a conquering faith. We talked for a long time until we were interrupted by a groan coming from my bed. The rebel was waking up. While the Druid rushed to his side to reassure him, I grabbed a jug of water and a cup and joined them.
- Calm down, calm down man! You're safe here. No one will harm you. Calm down!!
- You're lying Druid !! That woman is Roman, she will betray me!
- Stop being such a fool ! Yes, she's a Roman Priest. But she saved and protected you from the soldiers. If she had wanted to betray you, she could have done so a long time ago. But she didn't. Instead she took you in and dressed your wounds without even asking who you were. Afterwards she defied the soldiers who tried to enter this house and turned them back. What happened this night, I don't know, but here you are, awake and clear-minded even though the wounds you received were severe enough that you should still be knock out !
The man was stunned by the force with which the Druid defend and protected me. He was not the only one. This morning the man tolerated me, a few hours later I was accepted but no more, and now he was protecting me as if I was a fellow Druid.
- Druid! Do you realize what you are saying?!? She's the enemy!
- She most certainly is not! And now stop being a fool, and hold still while we check your wounds.
The rebel held his tongue but continued to glare defiantly my way. Gently the Druid undid the bandages and examined the man's wounds. I was satisfied to note that there was no infection and that my stitching had held. The Druid nodded and then took a jar out of a bag hanging at his side.
- Come here young Sara, he called me gently. I have unfortunately no longer any time now to care for his wounds, would you mind doing it for me please ? In this jar is an unguent that will help him heal more quickly and will keep his wounds clean at the same time.
I had no time to answer that he had already picked up his belongings and was gone out the door. This sudden departure stunned the man as much as myself if I could judge by his dropping jaw. Shaking my head in amused dismay at the Druid's ways, I went to sit on the bed and took some of the medicine on my finger tips.
- Hold still, please.
- Like hell I will! You may have fooled the Druid but you won't get me! Keep your hands off from me you devil priest!
The man continued to warn and threaten me, but I didn't heed his words and went to dress his wounds. Of course, as he wasn't holding still, I was somewhat rougher than usual and the man cried out in pain.
- What are you doing!! You're killing me!
- I told you to stay still, you wouldn't listen so don't complain that it hurts.
My voice was calm and even despite the exasperation I was feeling for the man. The man didn't seem to like pain much because he immediately held still while biting his lips to keep from crying out. After a few minutes I had finished and had bandaged him again. Setting everything aside, I took the water jug and handed it to him. Suspiciously he took it and sniffed it, before taking a small gulp.
- Are you hungry? I have some bread and cold roast left. Unfortunately I have no beer or mead to offer you. I don't entertain much and I don't drink myself.
The man was quiet for a few moments, examining me closely.
- Do you know what it implies if you offer me food as well as shelter and water?
- I do. I am familiar with your customs. By offering shelter, food and water, I pledge myself to keeping you safe until such time as you are able to fend for yourself. In return you will bring no harm to my home and will assist me in anyway you can. See ? I know what I do. The question is if you trust me to keep the honour of this traditional ritual.
- Will you swear to this custom by your God ? he asked after thinking a few moments.
- If it makes you feel more comfortable, then I will. In the Name of Amor, by His Power and His goodwill, I pledge myself to keep this man free from harm, to shelter, nourish and assist him as long as he is a guest in this Temple. I further pledge myself not to betray him afterwards to the local garrison. Will that satisfy you ?
- It will, he answered more easily. And I think I will accept that offer for food you made earlier. I haven't eaten a decent meal in quiet some time.
I nodded and went to prepare him his breakfast while he lay back down and used some of the water to wash his face and his hands. "Well, at least he has enough manners to clean himself before eating" I thought to myself as I went to the hearth.
The winter months went by without any further trouble from the soldiers. The man, whose name was Eric, quickly recovered from his wounds but needed some time before he could take care of himself. Since I had given my word to Amor, he had relaxed enough that he became good company and we had many interesting conversations.
We had some awkward moments in the beginning. Like that first night I climbed in bed next to him, and he asked me in a shocked voice what I was doing. Sleepily I replied that this was the only bed in the house, that it was cold outside, and if he wanted to bed by the fire I certainly wouldn’t complain about it. I don't know what went through his mind at that moment, but he turned around and snuggled deeper into the blankets without another word. And that is how we started sharing the bed.
Nothing happened between us until a month had gone by. It had been snowing very hard all day long and my home was chilly despite the fire that I had burning. Eric hadn't left his bed all day on my advice, but unfortunately for me I had been called by the Druid to sew up a wound that a hunter had received when he had been attacked by a wolf. When I had come back home I was blue from the cold and I couldn't keep my teeth from shattering. Eric had jumped out of the blankets and had helped me undress despite my urgings for him to lie down again. Finally I climbed out of my soaked clothes and Eric immediately rubbed me down with a blanket that he had been warming by the fire. When I could finally feel my body again, he took me to the bed where we climbed in. I was still cold and couldn't stop shivering. I was surprised when Eric came to lie next to me and took me into his warm arms and held me against him. I was tense from surprise at first but his warm chest against my back quickly warmed me up and finally I relaxed until my head rested against his arm. A long time went by without either of us moving. The only sounds to be heard in the house were the fire and our slow breathing. I was slowly nodding off to sleep when Eric slightly moved his head which came to rest next to mine, his breath gently teasing my ear. Feeling him so close to me reminded me once again how lonely I was and what a handsome and intelligent man he was. Softly I sighed and closed my eyes in resignation. I was floating between my dreams and consciousness when I thought I felt something brush ever so softly against my arm. I didn't react to it as I believed it was part of my half-dream but when I felt it again a few moments later I concentrated on it and I awoke back to full consciousness. I didn't take me more than a second to realise that it was Eric's hand caressing me that had woken me. Gently, with the top of his fingers, like a gentle breeze, he was exploring my skin. A little shiver ran down my back and I snuggled closer to him while my head moved just enough for his lips to reach my neck. When I felt them, like a drop of water, slide down my neck I couldn't stop the gentle moan that escaped my own lips. Encouraged by that sound Eric became bolder and pushed his exploration further, no longer afraid of waking me up or that I would rebuke him. His hands slid along my belly exploring further up and further down while his lips were nibbling my earlobe. My senses were so hot from desire that I had to feel him and explore him in the same way he was doing with me. Slowly I turned around forcing him back somewhat and I rolled up onto him. Looking into his eyes I saw the flame of desire burning in them, and slowly I bent my head until our lips met while our hearts rejoiced to have finally found someone to keep it company.
Having settled our differences the winter went by without any further trouble and spring gently settled in. It was with the coming of warmer weather that I discovered I was pregnant. Since only one man had shared my blankets in the last few months I knew who the father was. When I told Eric the news he rejoiced at the prospect of being a father but was nonetheless worried about what my deity would think of me having a child with a no-believer. I reassured him that Amor was a kind God and he certainly wouldn't have allowed our union to be blessed if it had offended him. That seemed to reassure him somewhat but I still sensed he was troubled. I didn't need to know what was on his mind as I knew it as well as him. Although he had fathered my child he would never be able to provide for it and be its father, he was after all a rebel wanted by the army. With the coming of spring the soldiers were going to be on the move again and with each passing day the chance of him getting caught increased.
And that was what happened. I was on my way back from the Druid when I heard shouts and cries of protest coming from the village well. I ran towards it as fast as I could but was only just in time to see the soldiers hang Eric from a nearby tree. Satisfied with their work they left the village without even cutting him down. Devastated I dropped to my knees weeping. The villagers helped me up and escorted me to my home where they told me that Eric had left my home to fetch some water for the meal he was preparing for me. Unfortunately he came to the well at the same moment that the soldiers had come there and before he could flee they had caught him, hanging him without any kind of trial.
They left me into the care of a granny while they went back to burry Eric's body. Weeping I tried to disappear into the blankets of my bed. I had known that I would lose him one day, but I had never thought that it would be because he had been killed. It was at this sad moment that I felt the baby move for the first time.
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