Chapter One End

Inside the ruin sparks still flared and flew into the air giving it an obsenly cheerfulness. She heard a moan and followed it, there at the back of the cathedral in a little sideroom no doubt the vestery a Middle aged man lay prone bleeding profusly from a gash on his head. She jingerlly made her way over to him. He was black and blue with other injuries and spluttering from smoke inhalation.

‘Father?’ She spoke gently lapsing into Latin without even thinking on it.

The priest head jurked in her direction as she kneeled next to him.

‘They burnt it all! Maria!’ His voice cracked with tears, he’d recognised her as female, this disturbed her but she layed a hand on his forehead, a fever slicked him.

‘We need to move you,’ she said gently.

‘They stole the candle sticks, the cross! the vile of St Peters Blood, they took it all, the chalice, they took the chalice.’ His hand gripped her tight at that, she made soothing noises and felt the disquiet, the smell of burning in her nostrils reminding her of another set of flames. That had all been for the Chalice and she knew that here was not the home of the sacred goblet – she had hidden that in volcanic hills across the channel. However she knew that many monstery’s claimed and some actually belived they had the the cup of christ the same as some genually believed they had magic viles of saints blood – often the majority of the holy brothers never knew of the deceptions that lay at the base of the mircles they offered the masses of desperate parishoners.

She dragged the priest out into the clearing and into the woods. Concern over making his injuries worse stayed her other wise she’d have kept moving until sunset. Instead she found herself once again setting up a hovel to spend the night in but this time her food would have to stretch between two mouths. She wasn’t even sure why she had decided to help the monk but if anything was a failing in her personality it was a soft spot for those unable to fend for thereselves.

Spring chill seeped through the banches and leaves she had crudly formed into a shelter but the night was a lot more pleasant for anothers body heat even if he did keep murmering in his sleep.

From what she gleaned from his fevered ramblings she understood that the King had decided to destroy anyone who would not come over to the ‘new’ faith. She sighed this old war, this old reason for blood shed and it looked like it was just becuase the king couldn’t keep his desieased dick in one woman. He had already retired the ‘real’ Queen, married and beheaded a witch who had born him a daughter and a few still borns, the same crime the ‘real’ Queen had commented. She’d heard rumours of all this in France of course but somehow it hadn’t sunk in as something that would affect her.

Of course he hadn’t taken to torching the monstries at that point. She shuddered.

He rambleed about vengence from on high, against himself, his order but she didn’t quiet understand why he thought the destruction of his Cathedral wwas just and put it down to fever. He muttered about plots and counter plots and she begain to wonder if he was a safe person to keep alive and if he might not sigh her death sentence.

Was she harbouring a crown traitor after all? She had no alliliation to England really but it never was sensible to hang around with traitors in that traitors own country. She wondered who Henry Fitzroy was though – it ment son of the King but she was sure there wasn’t yet a Prince of the realm. She shrugged adn slept through the rest of his mutterings.

The next morning saw her rumaging through the ruins trying to find something – anything that could be useful. What she found was some waxed cheese and a couple of casks of wine. They had been in a monks dorm and not in the larder kitchen which was swarming with the shodowy figures from the woods. They were stuffing the spoiled food stuffs into their clothing, she loathed their desperation but only becuase if they hand’t out numbered her she would have been doing exactly the same.

She did find remnants of a garden – trampled by the horses of the soldiers but still full of spring greens and the like, she harvested them and carried her load back to the monk.

She was cooking a late breakfast/lunch when he awoke with a start. He start at her from one blood shot eye the other wouldn’t open, purple bruising held it shut – she wouldn’t be suprised if it was perminatly damaged.

She helped him sit up and then paced him some food.

He ate slowely as if fearing her and what her reaction to him would be, he seemed to expect her to be either afriad of him or angry or both. She for her part gobbled the leaf vegitables as if they were the best the world had to offer, the cheese also filled a nutritional whole that she hadn’t even known existed. For the first time for a couple of years she felt full and saticified.

‘Father what happened?’ She asked in Latin.

He looked at her oddly, ‘You speak in an educated manor?’ he enquired. She nodded.

‘Which faith are you child?’ he asked wearily.

She looked at him hard, but he had no breathren her to help trap her and if it was the Kings men that had done that to the Cathedral then this might be one of the few times she could be truelly honest and not risk death.

‘I am of none sir’ His eyes bulged and he looked angry with feverant zelostnest but he collapse in on himself with a sort of defeat.

‘Probably safest’ he said.

‘What happened?’ she asked again.

‘The King has broken convenent with the Holy Empire declairing all those who owe felility with Rome to be heathens and enemies of the state. He says corruption paws at the Catholics and that we have departed from the True Faith…’ he paused and looked at her with a blue blood shot eye, ‘and he is right.’ He said the last part so quietly that she almost didn’t hear it.

The eye was disconcerting to her and it appeared to be weeping. ‘When killed him – of the divine line and we killed him in the name of faith. Killed a young man bearly out of youth.’ She looked at him perplexed he was admitting to murder but she didn’t have a clue who’s murder he was talking about.

‘I was his teacher, he trusted me and I stood by.’ Fat tears now rolled down his cheek. She watched him wearily why had she saved him if he’d done what he said killed some kid she wanted to smash his face in – the old rage begain to boil within her.

‘I asked them not too, I said he was malluble I said he’d be ours and the old faith restored but they would not listen.’

‘Who is this Father?’

He looked at her as if he’d only just remembered she was there, ‘Henry Fitzroy.’ She stared at him blankly.

‘The Kings Bastard who would have become King instead of his sister the King had put laws in place to garentee it.’ His misery resonated in his voice. He was not the killer he thought he was but nor was he safe to be around – she wanted to drop him like a hot brick but wasn’t sure it was going to be that easy.

She got up suddenly full of energy, ‘where are you going child?’ he asked her.

‘To check my snars and see if we’ll be eating meat tonight.’ He frowned at her and she remembered that today was not an allowed meat day. She waited for the surmon but it didn’t come. She left the hovel – it suddenly felt far far too small.

After checking the snares she headed back to the cathedral with the idea that maybe she could exchange meat with some of the people there for some of their stolen food but they were all too scared of her. Running when she approached – they must have all been from one community – all known each other becuase she looked more like them than a solder or someone from the upper crust or even the pie filling.

She was just stashing a few shriveled carrots when a patrol entered the ruins and now she saw why the poeple where so scared. The solders wher viscous and merciless. She hide very still in an alcove – they weren’t really looking, just ambling through even so she had to crouch for an unpleasant amount of time and with her resent physical punishments it was enough to course a nasty cramp in her calf.

Eventually they went and she returned to the hovel wondering if her charge would still be there – he was. She figured she was in for the long hual.

It was two weeks before he was in any sort of state to walk and then they could only move short distances – he tended to complain about the food she found and prepared but she ignore him mostly when he started. He was quiet frankly an officous bastard but for some reason she found it endearing.

About a month later they decided to move out from the hovel and leave the area – the Priest wanted to go back to teh cathedral for some reason. She followed him. The ruins were cold now and to her suprise populated by the shadowy figures, ‘why do they stay here?’ she asked him.

He looked sad, ‘they are bonded to the land. They believe they cannot leave it without permission.’ She made a disgusted clicking sound in her thoat.

‘Slaves.’ she said with venhem.

‘The vestagies of, yes. There aren’t mainy such people left in this country but those that do remain are mostly beholden to the monestries. But we looked after them. This Cathedral at least let people leave if they asked.’

‘Did they know they could ask?’

He shrugged and she turned away from the sight – the peseants had seen the preist and where heading over to him. the pure glee on their tired faces made her want to scream.

When she looked back he was talking to each cluster of people who were weeping but nodding their heads. Fear clouded half there features, hungry about a quarter and resignation on the remainder.

He returned to her looking older and sicker than he had for a few weeks.

‘What did you say to them?’

‘I released them from their bonds – they are now free to move from the soil,’ he looked at her with those icy eyes. ‘Most of them would have stayed here and died if I had not, I dread to think of the other churches and their lands, all those people.’ They walked away in silence the shadowy figures behind them teamed with uncertainty but they were moving away from the ruins.

It was about a week later that she left the old priest at a cross roads and headed into a local town in the search for food. She still had no money and wasn’t entirely sure what her plan was going to be. It was a cattle town and smelt of an over crowded barn, the flag stones where covered in foul smelling mud, she refused to think of it as anything else.

She was is luck it was a market day, the streets thronged with people from all walks of life. She planned to try and get employement but her stomache grumbled and there was a stall of fresh pies, her mouth watered and the Lady in pink and white who was the server had her back turned getting a fresh batch from her portable clay oven. She lifted a pie. And headed out of the crowd to eat it in peice.

She’d just taken the first bite when a solder eask looking man appeared in front of her – confident that she hadn’t been seen she tried to ignore him but he spoke to her roughly in the gutteral English. She could still bearly understand it spoken slow, she looked up at him, he knocked her pie out of her hand, hunger for it almost made her cry and anger flared. She stood up to her full height which was equivelent to his. Glaring she shouted at him in French.

He hit her.

Posted: Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 @ 9:53 pm
Categories: Uncategorized.
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