Chapter 12 - Finding Her
Warning: mild swearing. Mild erotic scenes. Violence.
She strode to the stables and saddled Ziba, the horse she'd been gifted by the knights, before riding out; the roman soldiers surprisingly opened the gates for her, wanting rid of the weird woman from their midst.
They were happy to face Arthur’s wrath; at least he would not kill them or threaten to hunt them in their dreams.
She was terrified, she could feel her body trembling and yet she knew she was doing the right thing. Now was time to right the wrong….
Back at the fort chaos reigned. Tristan had not been out long; the others found him and saw the tablet.
Dagonet picked it up. “What does it say?” asked Bors.
“Oh bloody hell! You do not think she has…?”
“Of course she has! What the hell are we going to do?!” cried Lancelot in frustration.
“Do you know where she went?” Asked Arthur coming into the room.
“Nay, but my Van might.” Offered Bors.
“Then let us speak to Van….”
“Wait…she said something about realising who the bishop downstairs has come for. She said she had to get to him before he escaped.” Tristan said, rubbing his jaw.
“We leave at first light; and now we have more reason to go.” Said Arthur.
Tristan looked at the setting sun, “I can go now, track her and be back by dawn. I do not want her out there alone”.
Arthur nodded “We are going with you” Dagonet and Lancelot both stepped forward.
Their commander sighed “Be back by dawn.”
As they strode to the stables, Dag and Lancelot could feel the anger radiating off of Tristan, they also saw the bruise coming up on his cheek.
They wondered briefly how he came to let his guard down so thoroughly - and then realised there was only one way……
“She is in so much shit when we find her” murmured Lancelot to Dagonet, raising his eyebrows.
“You have no idea” muttered the scout to the others, a deep scowl marring his usually passive features. “If they have not killed her – I will”.
She was easy to track, and they reached the house within three hours. It was not the one they were expecting – that was further north.
On arrival they found four dead roman soldiers. Looking at one particular Roman soldier, a captain, Lancelot noted “He has been expertly gutted like a fish with just two swords; that is an unusual move.”
“It is an Iazyges speciality; I am surprised her father taught her that move, it is brutal – usually only men carry it out.” Tristan muttered, barely taking in the corpse.
“Not as surprised as he was.” Lancelot indicated the dead soldier, and the other four all decapitated as well as being stabbed through the chest. There was blood everywhere “she certainly wanted to make sure they were dead…” he smiled; satisfied that Jules had dealt with at least some of the roman scum.
“Would not you? I would not mind betting they all had a turn with her when she was here” murmured Dag.
They strode into the house, everywhere men were dead – most decapitated, all cut through the chest; one looked like he had been trying to run away. Again there was blood all around; it was almost as if she had made sure to spread it around like some kind of sacrifice. Or atonement - they realised she had killed in a specific way.
“To appease her ancestors, it is what her people do. It will ensure she will enter the other world when her time comes to be with her family, without shame. My people would do the same.” Tristan answered the unspoken question.
When they found her she was in the main living area, fury was written on her face and she paced the room.
She spun round, twin swords at the ready as they approached. Question in her eyes as Dag and Lancelot strode in - and then sadness as Tristan walked in behind them. He kept walking pulling his sword as he went.
Lancelot went to step forward, but Dagonet restrained him “He will not hurt her, trust me”; despite her dexterity he had her disarmed in seconds and, throwing his own weapon to the ground, grabbing her by the shoulders.
“Do not do that to me ever again!” he growled as he shook her “I should cut you down where you stand!”
His eyes blazing she froze, thinking he would strike her - but then his lips crashed onto hers and he pulled her roughly to him; ignoring the other knights standing grinning at each other.
Pulling away so quickly she fell over; he strode out. She sat on the floor in surprise.
“You are in so much trouble with him I cannot even begin to tell you!” said Dagonet with a grin, helping her to her feet.
She reached round the back of her trousers, and pulled her tablet and stylus out:
I thought I would be.
To be honest I had expected to die, not see you again.
“We would not let that happen to our little bird” Dag said.
“Well, did you kill him?” asked Lancelot.
She shook her head -
Nay, he is gone; but I know where.
Gone to his brother’s house.
“His brother’s house; who is his brother?”
Cassius Honorius is his younger brother and my owner.
They have the protection of Rome.
Whatever they do, they are pardoned as the Church wants Alecto to be the next Pope.
“That is why we have to get them out before the Saxons come.”
Then I will ride with you tomorrow.
It seems you get your wish after all.
Much good may it do you.
Who do you think taught Cassius everything he knows?
They are both evil men; come, I will show you.
She took them outside, Tristan following behind, to a large hole in the ground; it was full of dead bodies -
He keeps them in there - I was kept in there.
- She was trembling, but pressed on -
This is The Pit.
I lived in there from the age of twelve until I was taken by the soldiers.
I was brought out for his amusement and that of his brother and his guests.
“Including the bishop?” Lancelot asked.
I know what you are thinking.
- She saw Lancelot clench his jaw -
But he must be left until you get your papers.
“Why are they dead?”
He would not want to take servants and the like with him. To slaughter them was the easier option.
She was trembling; Tristan relented slightly and put his cloak round her.
I am not cold.
Merely angry and…….frightened.
But I still have my options.
“You were an idiot.” Tristan was still raging, but his voice and demeanour was icy calm. “They could have killed you.”
But they did not.
“Nay, how is that? There are many of them and one of you; I cannot believe we taught you that well.” Lancelot said, reading over her shoulder.
They did not all come at me at once Lancelot.
Just a few at a time - but they were not even really fighting me. They just panicked.
And actually you all did teach me that well.
- She pointed to a nearby rock covered in blood -
That was where he smashed by babies brains out and the brains of my mother’s baby.
- She pointed to a patch of grass just beyond the rock -
That was where he had my sister raped to death.
My father gutted in front of me.
This is where he carried out all his atrocities.
He called it his ‘playground’.
Jule shut her eyes against the flooding memories; suddenly feeling sick, she walked away to throw up.
She felt a hand rubbing her back, turning she saw it was Tristan. She smiled slightly, but he did not and she knew she would have to face his rage in private.
Sighing, she turned to the others -
We need to leave.
“We ride again in the morning.”
I will not ride with you where I can be seen - but I will be there.
“As you wish.” Lancelot replied.
Beware of Marius and Cassius. They are evil men and neither will want to leave this country.
I doubt their perversions will be tolerated in the new Rome.
Once the current Pope has Alecto the others are expendable.
“Why not leave them to Rome?” asked Dag.
Because the Goddess only know what butchery they will commit until they meet their end.
I do not wish the blood of innocents on my hands because I failed to act.
Rome will not care about their actions, only Alecto.
It will only be if they try to build a power base of their own that they will then be seen as a threat.
“And Arthur loves this religion!” exclaimed Lancelot in disbelief.
It is not the religion that is at fault Lancelot.
It is the men who put themselves in charge of it.
- She stared at where her family and her children all died; where other families now lay decimated -
Icould not stop this here.
But I will not allow it to happen at his brother’s house. I will not allow it to move to Rome.
Dagonet shook his head “Arthur would not sanction this butchery Jules, trust me.”
I know, but I want to make sure.
It is my wrong to right.
I am Iazyges.
Our motto is- Born in a saddle, sword in hand – ready to battle for family and land.
Well you are my family, and this is my land - for now.
The others sighed and turned to leave – but Jules went to the house, picking up the books she knew would be there, and took a torch throwing it into the pit -
The least I can do is ease their passing to the other side, by freeing their souls from their bodies.
“What of them?” Asked Dag, indicating the Romans.
Leave them to rot.
- She turned and walked back to Ziba.
She was back and in control…..or was she? She stared at Tristan, he studiously ignored her. They rode out.
Tristan avoided her all the way back to the fort. She had expected it; but it still hurt. If she closed her eyes, she could still feel his lips on hers, his tongue gently exploring her mouth, his arms wrapped tightly around her.
It was strange after all what was done to her she should be able to trust him so easily, to even want that kind of intimacy with him.
But from the first moment he helped her, soothed her and calmed her she had followed her instincts and trusted him; she'd liked him and ultimately loved him with all that was in her.
She wanted him to show her the act of love was as Van had told her, wonderful and fulfilling when you loved someone and they you. For once she wanted to be there in her body and with someone she cared for, not trying to switch her mind off from the brutalising of her own skin.
She glanced across at him and found him staring aimlessly ahead.
“He will be well” murmured Dagonet, riding up to her. “But he is bloody mad at you Jules, I am only surprised he did not knock you out when we found you; the mood he was in when we left the fort,I thought he would. Let me say only that he was seriously pissed off.”
She sighed, nodding at him. She patted his arm and leant across to kiss his cheek. He grinned; she nodded at him expectantly “Me? I am only glad you are safe – I would not have wanted to tell Bors if you had not been.”
She grinned and pointed to herself and then Dag. “Nor you for me? Nay, you are probably right, he loves us both Jules. I wonder if Arthur’s told the others about going to Marius’. He told us just before we left…..”
“They were heading to the tavern to drown their sorrows just before we left, so I doubt it.” Noted Lancelot.
They rode the rest of the way in silence.
Back at the fort Arthur drew Jules to one side; she could tell he was angry “Do not ever repeat such a foolish action again Jules, understand? Tristan was nearly beside himself and the others were all set to go after you as well.
My brother knights care for you Jules, all of us do - including Jols. But Tris most of all; he has never loved a woman to my knowledge in all the fifteen summers I have known him. So you are very special to him; do not hurt him.” His voice stern, she knew he was warning her and she nodded -
I did not mean to.
I wished to spare him. To spare them all.
But I have my own path to follow Arthur.
-She paused and sighed -
However it would appear they point the same way now.
She told him all what she had told the others. She showed him the books - she hugged him, awkwardly at first, then more firmly as he sat and wept.
His arms round her waist and only five words springing over and and over from his lips, as his forehead rested on her shoulder and his tears wet her shirt “I am sorry…….dear God…..I am sorry…dear God…..Dear God....."
Tristan returned from the tavern; he walked into the room, unsure of what to do. There had been angry scenes as the others realised what this really meant, but eventually Dagonet had been the voice of reason and all had agreed to follow Arthur; as they always would.
All had noted that Arthur was greatly distressed and angry, but all thought it was to do with the last edict from Rome.
He looked at Tristan, all of them, and wondered if he should show them? But then she had the books; and if he did, he knew that they would kill all three men and he would not be able to stop them. Indeed deep down he doubted he would even want to.
Tristan for his part looked at her laying on the bed, her back to him. It was rigid and so he knew she was awake.
The anger in him had long since seeped away, knowing he would have done the same in her position.
He went and lay down next to her; putting his arm round her he pulled her close against him. She immediately grasped his hand and pulled it to her face kissing it.
She turned over to look at him; at the house she had been defiant and detached – but here he could tell she was sorry for the distress she had caused, but not for what she had done. He could understand and respect that.
“I thought I had lost you.” He whispered to her, his lips grazing her cheek as he spoke.
She turned her head so his lips were on hers. For a moment neither moved; first they were kissing feather light kisses and then deep passionate ones.
He pulled away first; shaking his head at her, trying to regain control over his body and emotions that were rapidly betraying his feelings for this woman.
She followed his lips with her own, soon reclaiming them – he tried to move, but her arms snaked round his neck holding him to her.
He drew back, rigidly trying to resist her; she looked deeply into his eyes and nodded.
“Are you sure? Do you trust me?”
She nodded once more, pointing to her heart and he could see love in those black/brown eyes of hers. With a groan he crushed her to him, kissing her hair and telling her of his love.
She clung to him, but this time not for comfort or from fear; this time she hugged and kissed him because it was he that she loved; she was not fearful of him.
They were like this for a few minutes then his lips began to draw lazy circles down her cheek, her neck then back to her lips. He kissed her deeply and then continued down to where her shirt was laced.
Once again he raised his eyes to hers, matching passion, love and desire burned in both sets. “Do you trust me?” He asked again. She caressed his face with her hand, nodding; he pushed his mouth into the palm.
He deftly undid the laces and pulled the shirt over her head, moving to remove his own; as he did so she put her arms across her breasts ashamed of the scars she had there.
Proof that others had been there before him, but not like this – never had she once wanted them; fought them until they beat her almost unconscious, and would then go away in her mind whilst they did want they wanted to the shell of her.
He pulled her arms away “Do not be ashamed, I told you I did not care and I do not. I love you little bird; your hawk loves you with all his heart.”
He began to kiss each and every scar, his hands running up and down her body, she began to groan slightly. His head lifted, it was the first sound he had ever heard her make…….
She pushed her hands into his hair, pulling him back to her mouth, before he began to kiss her neck and gradually work his way down and back to her breasts……
Soon they were naked, but he did not want to do anything to frighten her “Do you trust me?” he looked at her again; her eyes were almost black with desire now as she nodded her head, pulling him completely on top of her - she wanted this, she wanted him………………she loved him.
For the first time in her life, Jules found out what it truly felt like to be loved by a man who loved her with his whole heart and soul.