The three men were in the refectory and having enjoyed a good breakfast were waiting for the Mother Superior and more importantly, her decision.
The door opened and Sister Faith flanked by Sister Innocent entered with the girls following.
They stood up in respect.
“Please be seated my Lords, there are no formalities between friends.” She said with a wave of her hand.
The men sat.
“I see that you and the Abbess, Holy Mother, are caparisoned as for war does that mean you will be joining us in our hunt?” The Marshal asked.
“Yes Marshal we will be joining you, we can not sit back and ignore this threat on our very doorstep. We can not bury our heads in the sand.” She turned to the girls behind her. “Girls partake of the breakfast feast, there is honey I believe to sweeten the porridge. Sister Leonora, Sister Marie Clair assist the girls but be ready for our call.”
The two Nuns ushered the girls away.
“I see the young ladies are also attired for battle, are they coming with us?” The Marshal asked.
“No. No, they will remain here to protect the convent and the Sisters and assist in the protection of the town for I suspect there will be new attacks. They have been impeccably trained but an extra polish from the guard sergeant will not go amiss.” The Holy Mother explained. “Sister Leonora the letters if you please?”
Marta watched dumfound when the very letters they had discovered last night were passed to Sister Faith. They hadn’t had time to tell them of their discovery.
“The gentleman we found so badly beaten last night turned out to be a Kings courier. The girls discovered a hidden panel in his tunic where these letters for you three were expertly hidden. There was a forth letter addressed to me.”
“It couldn’t have been that well hidden as otherwise the girls would never have found it.” Gorgio said.
“Oh it was truly well hidden but what can I say, my girls are good.” The Abbess said proudly.
“We will travel light as this will facilitate swift progress.” Sister Fate informed them. “We will need a core of six guards to join us with a trusted officer, is that possible Marshall?”
“Yes Holy Mother and I will go with you if that is acceptable?”
“Thank you Marshall I had hoped for such an outcome.” Sister Faith said with a sigh of relief.
“They would be perfect your knowledge will be a blessing.” Sister Innocent concurred.
“Dear Marshall could you and your troop be ready to leave an hour after the noon sun?”
“Consider is done Holy Sister.” The old man replied.
“Good.” Sister Faith turned to the girls who had been watching everything while they ate. “Girls, no young ladies, if you have eaten your fill go swiftly to your rooms and prepare a parcel’s of some of your clothes and necessaries. We go down to the town to meet with the families you will be lodging with and the sergeant who will be continuing your training. Here at the convent you will answer to Sister Leonora down in the town to Father Quinn. Hurry girls and don’t change out of your armour as I want to give the towns folk something to talk about.”
The girls rushed to their cells and put together a bundle of their belongings. Marta was unsure what to take so compromised with her evening dress and her novices robes going into the bundle.
As she came out of the dormitory to cross to the refectory she found Sister Bernadotte waiting for her.
“What is the meaning of such unseemly rush? I do not understand why the Holy Mother has called us together?” Marta could see she was distressed and searched her heart for an explanation that would calm her.
“I am going down to the town to learn a trade but only for four days and then I shall be back to learn more of our history from you. You are like my Guardian Angel and though I go to the town and adventures new I know I am safe for I take part of you with me.” She reached up and touched very gently the Sisters face and was pleased to see the worry lift. “As for the meeting with the Mother Superior I suspect it is more to do with her own adventure.”
Together they walked sedately across the ground to the refectory where the guests and Sisters waited patiently.
Once they had arrived Marta kissed the old nuns cheek making a pink flush bloom over the woman’s skin.
“Look after yourself Sister.” A tear sizzled on her cheek.
“I will child for I will have part of you with me and that must be enough until we are together again.”
Marta turned and crossed over to join the others, carefully putting her bundle with the others in the pony’s little wagon.
“Sisters, our helpers and friends. We have been called to arms once more like we were called at ‘The End of Days’. Once again we are called to shine our Lords and our Saint The Lady of the Rose’s clear blessing light into the darkness to reveal the evil that dwells there.
Be strong and have faith. While we are away Sister Leonora shall run the Convent with the help of Father Quinn.” She made the sign of the living ankh over them. “May you blessed by our Ladies pure healing light, in the name of the Father, the Mother and all the Saints.”
Two minutes later the gates were opened and the troop passed through and all were wondering if they would be the same when they entered it again.
The journey down to the town was a silent precession with the farmers and there families watching without murmuring a single word.
Marta was uneasy with the reverence they were being shown as she held the pony’s reins and guided it down the way to the town. The little horse held her head up as if in pride as it negotiated the rock strewn path.
The way came easier as they neared the town but the looks they were getting were more hostile. Suddenly a group of towns people and town guards appeared and surround them.
Marta’s heart was in her mouth but she needn’t have feared as the crowd formed a guard of honour. They began to sing a joyous hymn and to her amazement the guards joined in providing a base line.
The hairs on the back of her neck stood up at the sound.
Sister Fate brought the parade to a stop.
“Girls take off your novice robes, let the people see you as you are, proud young ladies.” As she spoke the Abbess crossed to the cart and carefully and reverently unwrapped a parcel. She lifted it up to reveal an ebony staff with the golden holy symbol, the Living Ankh, at the top.
She slotted it into a brace attached to her waist and lifted it aloft. The crowd sighed as the Abbess took the lead with the Mother Superior Sister Faith just behind her.
A farmers wife took the pony’s reins allowing Marta to join the other girls.
“Blessed is the good heart in love. May Our Lady of the Rose bless you with love and understanding.” Sister Faith called out to the little parade. “Let us enter the town with pride and a happy song on our lips.”
The group set off with Sister Faith leading them in the Song of Spring. Her clear voice brought tearful joy to the people as they once again took up the refrain. Birds flitted around them adding their sweet voices to the building song.
As they came up to the west gate the crowd stopped and watched them enter, waving goodbye.
A guard officer stepped forward from the shadows. cast by the gate.
“Good Morning Holy Mother, where are you off to today?” He asked with a smile.
“To the barracks Captain? Why do you ask?”
“The Artisans Street cobbles are being re-laid so if you wanted the market square you will have to do a detour down Inns Street and Butchers Avenue.”
“Thank you for the information.” Sister Faith stepped forward and drew the symbol of the Living Ankh on his forehead. “Go in peace and love.”
He bowed his head in thanks and waved the group through.
Marshall slipped across and spoke to the Guard Captain before rejoining the group.
Soon they were at the barracks where a group of guards were being put through a rigorous exercise routine.
The drill instructor a grizzled old man, with no left arm, called Sergeant Palazzo doubled to the Marshal.
“Good morning sir, Holy Sister.” He gave a swift salute which the Marshal returned.
“Sergeant clear your desks of other work.” The Marshal ordered him. “You will spend four of your afternoons training the ladies in the fine arts of warfare, they have already had basic training but need to be brought up to the shine.”
“Yes sir it will be a pleasure sir.” He gave the girls a beaming smile. “You will be trained to use your talents as well as your force of arms in a battle. And you also will learn the art of walking away from battles you can’t win with your pride intact.
Marta’s heart shrank at the thought of the physical exertion.
Father Quinn had slipped away to collect the families the girls were staying with.
“Right.” Said the sergeant. “Just to give me an idea of fitness level and expertise. All six of you use your ranged weapons to hit the archery target. Form a queue so I can help on a one to one basis.
Marta looked around to find both the senior nuns, Father Quinn and Gorgio had gone.
Feeling very alone, very abandoned she queued up with the others. If the others were feeling the same as her they covered it up well.
The girls were showing a good distribution of shots when it was her turn at the stand.
She took up a light crossbow and after a long moment fired. The first quarrel thudded into the centre of the Gold inner target. Three more followed before the sergeant called it a day.
“Very good.” He said. “Bordering on excellent. Over there is a sword trainer. I want you to get three good strikes in within the minute but beware it can strike back at any time. Your job is avoid the mace that can swing round and hit you. It’s strike is random so be prepared.”
Marta went first and managed two strikes before the mace swung round. She dodged the swing of the mace by swiftly dropping down in a crouch allowing the weapon to sail over he head. Erupting upward she raked the dummy from crotch to neck making it spill its stuffing.
The test had to be foreshortened as Gloria had struck the mace arm so hard in her attempt to block a blow that it shattered into hundred’s of small splinters.
An hour later Father Quinn arrived and led them to the Temple Hall where Sister Faith waited with some of the families from the town.
“Welcome Ladies.” Sister Faith said with a warm smile. “We have taken great care in matching your sponsor, the family you will be living with. Marta?”
Marta’s mouth was dry and she swallowed repeatedly to relive the lump in her throat.
“Marta you will be staying with Robert Wheelwright and his family.”
A young man and his wife and children came forward.
“It will be a pleasure having you stay with us.” Robert said with a genuine smile. “This is Martha my wife and out two daughters Georgina and Ludo.”
“The Reverent Mother thinks I could help you with your abilities.” Martha told her as they lead her away. “I’m a pretty good seamstress so we can work together on your fabric.”
“Astra your mentor is Under Father Pierre Du Lac but the good Father’s is small with only one bedroom so you will be sharing a room next door with Marta.” Sister Faith called.
A stooped elderly man hobble forward.
“Hello my dear child. We have a lot to learn from each other and so little time.” He courteously held out a hand and led her away.
“Gloria you will be staying with Allan the blacksmith and his family.” A man mountain of muscle crossed over to Gloria.
“I’ll soon have you making the most delicate but strong weaponry.” They shook hands each assessing the others strength.
“Lillian you will be staying with the Lauds family the towns lace makers.”
Another family stepped forward.
“Julienne you will be berthed with Sergeant Lumet at her house where she will instruct you in tactics.” The female sergeant had a sword cut scar that ran over her left eye and a slight limp came forward.
“Twilight you will be with my old friend Algiers the Sage.”
The Reverent Mother gave a sad smile like a doting mother who sees her children leaving home. She turned and saw the Marshal signal their readiness from the doorway.
She turned back to face the families and the girls and was pleased to see that the ice was broken with most of them.
She lifted her hand up and the whole hall fell silent as if a switch had been turned off.
“May the Unknown God bless you, may Our Lady of the Rose strengthen your resolve to face what is to come and surround you with her undying love.” As she spoke she made the sign of the Living Ankh over them all and the room filled with the glorious scent of roses. “With a heavy heart I take my leave of you. Enjoy the food and small beer we have provided for you.”
A single tear ran down her cheek as she turned and with the Abbess in front left the hall.
The six girls left their mentors and followed them out.
Outside they found the Mother Superior astride a beautiful golden thoroughbred whilst the Abbess was being helped by a trooper to get on board a powerful black gelding. He made a stirrup of his hands and boosted her up in to the saddle. She tanked him for his aid.
He swiftly mounted his own horse.
“Astra make sure the Holy Symbol is safe and take it back to the convent ready for the Holy Days services.” Sister Innocent called down to them. “We don’t know how long we will be away but while we are away Marta you are the leader of the girls.”
“If we do not return, know that we love each and everyone of you with out favour. God bless.” With that passing remark she flicked her reins and led the Marshal and Sister Innocent along with the guard troopers and sergeant out of the city at a canter.
Tears misted Marta’s vision while little Lillian wept openly.
“Come back inside child there is nothing more you can do. They go to face their destiny as one day you will do. Until then you must learn what your limits are.” Robert led her gently back into the hall.
She stopped and took Astra’s hand, and once again all the girls were linked together like a wall against the future.
Marta sat watching Astra getting ready with a lump in her throat.
Father Quinn had arranged a reception for them so they could meet the good and the great of the town and it terrified her.
“How are we supposed to win these people over they don’t know us from our Lord Adam?” She moaned.
“Blasphemy child.” Astra said in the gravel tones of Sister Ruth. Marta couldn’t help but laugh. “That’s better Miss Miserable. Just be your normal cheerful self.”
She signalled for Marta to get up and she helped her get her wings through the gap they had created in the dress, before lacing her up.
“Not so hard!” Marta complained. “I want to be able to breathe, and if you lace it any tighter my breasts are going to pop out.”
“Sorry breathing is a luxury we can’t afford as for your breast’s popping out you could start a new fashion trend.” Astra laughed. “Besides you’ll be able to get your own back when its my turn.”
“You don’t think they are trying to find us husbands do you?”
“I hope not. I hope to be wed to our Lady of the Rose.”
They helped each other with their minimalist makeup.
Astra looked down at Marta her lips slightly apart her breathing a little ragged. She lifted her friends head and kissed her full on the lips, her tongue probing and wrestling with Marta’s own. Her hand gently stroked the top of Marta’s breast that was exposed by the dress whilst she planted butterfly kisses to her friends neck.
There was a wrap at the door and Roberts wife called through.
“Are you alright girls? Father Quinn is here to escort you to the reception.”
They parted each with a worried look on their faces.
“Yes we’re fine but we can’t bend to do them up.” Which was true. “You couldn’t come in and do them up for us please?”
“Certainly.” The door opened and the woman bustled in.
She was a little slight woman with a mischievous smile always at the borders of her lips.
“Now are you ready girls?”
“Yes Mistress Wheelwright.”
Downstairs waiting for them was the rest of the girls and Father Quinn who looked like a romantic hero in his priests robes. Birds peaked out from the trees and bushes that covered its surface. In his hand was his staff of office that was covered in intricate carvings of animals from its metal tips and the metal grip situated comfortably at shoulder height.
“Is this wise Father Quinn. I fear the girls will be ridiculed.” Father Du Lac was with them but was wringing his hands in concern as they entered the now crowded parlour.
“You underestimate the girls Father Pierre. Ah their you are Marta, Astra. Join the other girls whist I get us all moving toward our destination.”
“Where will that been Holy Father.” Lillian asked.
“It’s being held at the Masons Guild Hall just off the market square.” He said stepping out onto the straw and rushes that covered the street to deaden the noise of the horse drawn carriages as they trundle passed. “Tread carefully Ladies I can spy several mounds of horse dung. It seems the Peter Man has been out yet.”
With that he stepped out confidently and slid into the low garden wall as his foot came in contact with the dog dung just in front of him.
With a curse he regained his footing as the girls burst out in good natured laughter.
He scraped the worse off his boot onto the rushes with a wry smile to himself. His little act had done what he hoped it would, it had made them laugh, it made them relax.
He bent over his fouled boot and clicked his fingers once and all sign of the incrusted muck vanished as if it had never been their before.
“Shall we go ladies.”
The hall was already quite full of the good, the mighty, and the kind.
There was a get together every month in one of the Guildhall’s. A place where the influential people of the town could relax and eat, drink and dance together.
It was a good time and place for any public announcements.
The guild hall itself was a statement of wealth and power. Around the room were wooden panels depicting the months and seasons under beautiful stain glass windows that glittered, casting rainbow light on the floor from the rays of the setting sun.
The group were lead over to join some families near a small stage.
A Powerfully built man took to the stage dressed in the apparel of a town crier.
The man lifted a heavy hand bell and rang it loudly whilst bellowing at his loudest.
“Members of the Guild and Ladies hear ye, hear ye! By the grace of God, the almighty redeemer, six orphans from the Convent of The Mother and Child under the auspices of Our Lady of the Rose, are here with us tonight! Let us greet them and welcome them into the adult world!” He rang the loudly once more before repeating himself. As he did so the girls were ushered up onto the stage behind the town crier. “Hear ye, hear ye and charge your glasses and give the toast with me!” A beer stein was passed to him. “Welcome Ladies of the convent. The toast is Welcome to the Ladies of the Rose!”
The audience all lifted their glasses and drank the toast.
The Town Crier put the litre stein of beer to his lips and didn’t take it away until her had drunk the lot in one go. He lifted the stein upside down above his head to prove it was empty and was greeted by roar of laughter and approval.
“I hope we don’t have to do that otherwise I’ll be drunk for a month.” Marta said with a laugh.
“Lightweight. I could drink a few of them at one sitting.” Julienne said licking her lips as if relishing the challenge.
“You would have to be sitting as even you couldn’t stay standing.” Gloria said casting an eye over the tables around the room that were groaning under the weight of food platters and flagons of small beer. Small decanters of red, rose and white wine graced the tables.
Father Quinn collected the girls together and escorted them over to where an elderly lady dripping in jewellery, from large pearl earrings to diamond necklaces, was holding court.
Beside her was a slim young lad who seemed ill at ease.
“Good evening Father Quinn, I take it these are the half breed girls you were telling me about.” Her smile was false, her eyes scheming while she assessed them.
This was unlike the young man at her side who looked genuinely pleased to see them.
“Good evening Madam. Girls this is our hostess Lady Agapito Abramo and her new husband Pietro Angelo.”
Father Quinn introduced the girls one by one. Each curtsied to the woman and shook the young mans hand and had a few words which he appeared to enjoy.
After they had returned to their table Father Quinn muttered under his breath.
“Well that’s the Dragon dealt with we can afford to relax now.”
“What is so special about her?” Astra asked.
“She is extreemly rich and despite her arrogant nature she finances quite a few charitable causes. Some have a direct link to the Convents work.”
“But is it because she feels she has to rather than because she wants to?” Astra answered.
“Oh definitely because she wants to. She is very hands on with some of them.”
“In that case I will reserve judgement on her.”
“That will be a good idea.”
“I feel sorry for her husband. He doesn’t look very happy.” Marta said.
“Yes they don’t last very long. Most times they end up as empty husks completely drained by her insatiable desire for sex. As a matter of fact he’s outlasted all of them. Some say he is controlling that side of things rather well by being her dominant.”
“That’s horrible” Marta said.
“Yes it is no matter how you look at it.” Father Owen agreed.
A young man negotiated the dancers and made his way toward them.
He stopped in front of them and bowed with a great sweeping gesture.
“May I?” He asked Father Quinn.
“Yes of course.” Father Quinn replied.
He turned to face Marta.
“My Lady may I have the pleasure of this dance?” He asked politely.
Marta looked behind her to see who he was talking to before realising is was her.
“Me?” She asked nervously fearing she had miss heard.
“Yes my Lady. I hope I do not offend?” He sounded worried.
“No, no, far from it.” Marta took a deep breath. “I would love too.”
He took her hand and gently led her into the merry throng.
Further young men came up one by one until all but little Lillian were dancing the Stately Estampie whilst singers and a small orchestra played up in the galley.
Lillian smiled and hopped onto a stool before taking a goblet of white wine from the Father.
“It’s funny.” She said. “It’s funny but if you look at the young man with Marta you can see he doesn’t see her skin colour or her horns, he just sees her.”
She pointed with the little finger of the hand that held goblet at a young man dancing with Twilight. “He’s trying so hard to not notice her skin colour it becomes all that he can see, he doesn’t see her at all.”
“That is a little deep for you Lillian?” Father Quinn asked with a warm smile.
“That’s not true I can be deep if I want but it’s just what Astra said before she was whisked off.” She looked at him with a puppies sad eyes.
Father Quinn laughed.
“That’s more like my Lillian.”
The dance was sedate and full of posing and intricate movements.
Later the girls were introduced to more of the powerful and influential people of the town.
The magistrate Josepi Cantoni proved to be a friendly soul in his sixties while his cousin Gordo Vettori the potter was positively hostile.
The carpenter, blacksmith and the brewer were all supportive.
Father Quinn gave a weary smile as he watched all the girls dancing a lively gavotte. They all had a lot learn but they had made a good start. They were learning who they could trust and who hid their disgust and loathing behind a smile and a witty repost.
The evening came to a close and once more they gathered around the cleric ready for the walk home. Several of the young me they danced with joined them. The air was full of their youthful chatter and laughter as they exited out on to the street. A single voice boomed out pouring ice on to the proceedings.
“What are these filth still doing here.” Thomas growled loudly.
“Having a go time I thought, at least we were until you turned up.” Marta replied.
Six men walked out with Thomas-a-Quintus two sons and wife, Thomas himself took the lead. They stopped a few paces away as if frightened they would be contaminated.
“Good Evening Master Thomas a good night for a stroll don’t you think or are you working with guard now?” Father Quinn said lightly.
Thomas looked daggers at him.
“You dare to bring forth this filth dressed as whores before the guild masters?” He growled at them. “You don’t have your precious Mother Superior or Abbess to protect you now I saw them leave an hour after noon. They rode out with seven of the guard, so you see even the guard can’t protect you or them.”
Three of the youths stepped out in front of them, each had a hand resting on the hilt of their rapiers.
“What is this Master Tomas?” The eldest, the young man who danced with Marta, called. “You know who our fathers are, do you really want to incur their displeasure.”
“I have no argument with you boy or any of you friends, only with the demon’s that foul our pure, clean, air.”
“Tell me did you kill that poor soul that we found up the track to the Convent yesterday?” Marta asked, appearing more relaxed than she really was.
“He refused to tell us what his purpose for visiting the town was.”
“So you decided to use your fists and boots to educate him.” Father Quinn picked up the conversation and ran with it. “What is wrong with you man? You can’t kill every stranger that comes here.”
“I protect the city which more than the city guard do. Strangers bring disease and treachery. They eat our foot and contaminate the foolish young with their ideas.” Thomas was loosing his temper which was a fearful thing to see. “You call yourself a Priest of the One God but you do nothing to stop the corruption of your flocks souls.. The stranger brings evil intent and they must be destroyed before they contaminate our people, before they take our work from us, before they challenge our faith, before they take the poor money from guild and church, before they swamp us. Como should only be for the natives of Como not for these dissenters.”
“You killed him!?” Marta yelled over his voice.
“He died yes but it was all his own fault. He would not leave.”
“And what about us or is it too obvious.” Astra yelled angrily.
“You will be banished or killed for the good of the town.” He roared back. “You will be burnt on a funeral pier.”
“That will be more difficult than you think.” Marta stretched out her hand and a ball of fire lifted off from the palm of her hand and hovered there, above the other one hovered a ball of ice. She caressed them and set them to spinning.
Twilight stepped up beside her. Above her hand were a rainbow set of globes being contact juggled by the half Drow elf. They rotated around each other in her hand.
Astra took the place on the other side of her friend a glowing sword growing in her hand.
“Is that how you intend to kill us Thomas by burning us at the stake or are you just going to beat us like you do your wife.” She sent a light that settled above the poor woman exposing the bruising on her flesh and her black eye. “We will fight you if we have to, you know that don’t you?”
“It is what I’m relying on.” He clicked his fingers and the others melted back into the gloom. “You have twice threatened me with Hell Fire girl, there will be no third time because you will either be gone or dead, the choice will be mine, mine alone. You have one eight days to go. If you haven’t you and those that harbour you will be dead and the convent destroyed ready to be re-blessed. ”
With that he turned and walked away.
“Something has got to be done about that man.” Father Quinn was livid. “He thinks he is saving the city but he’s destroying it. The biggest danger comes from him, He’s totally deranged.”
“Is he?” Astra said in response. “Or is he just voicing what others fear to say. We have all felt it that fear of the unknown, the strange!”
“We all fear the unknown but we use that fear to spur us on.” Father said as he led them off once more. “We learn that there can only be fear where there is ignorance. Once we learn of it, it looses its power, and we can plan how to deal with it. It stops being the unknown and you see clearly that it was nothing to be afraid off after all.”
They had reached the door where Astra and Marta were staying, the house of the Wheelwright family. Next door was the narrow building beside the temple where Astra’s mentor lived.
“You’ll be spending tomorrow morning with your mentors and in the afternoon you will be trained at the garrison. I will see you there. Goodnight Astra, Marta.”
“What is going to happen to Thomas-a-Quintus Father?” Marta asked.
“I don’t know Marta, I simply don’t know. I’ll report the incident to the Justice tomorrow but I don’t think that will do much since he is of Thomas’s point of view, so its going to be difficult to get him to act.” He sighed. “But that’s my problem not yours, now goodnight girls.”
They offered a Goodnight and made their way down the short gravel path to the front door.
Gently, quietly so not to wake the household Marta opened the door and they entered the short hallway. They turned to the stairs and made to climb up to their attic room when a voice softly called to them.
“Hello girls.” Anne Wheelwright said from the doorway into the main living room. “Come join us for awhile.”
She led them into the room proper.
Around the hearth were four arm chairs carved out of a dark hard wood with cushions covered in bright clever stitching.
“Would you like some wine girls.” Robert asked?
“Yes please Master Wheelwright.” They replied in almost perfect harmony.
“While I get the wine will you get the fire started please darling?” He called to his wife.
The little woman directed the girls to their seats before sitting down herself.
There was an embarrassed pause before Marta reminded her about lighting the fire. She offered to help knowing how difficult it was to get the one in the refectory to draw.
The woman settled back it her seat with a half smile.
“I suspect your wondering how we can help you Marta, what you can learn from us. I think actions speak louder than words.” She held her hand palm up and there above it was a relatively small ball of yellow flame. It gently lifted off her palm and crossed to the fire place before settling in to the kindling. In mere seconds there was a roaring fire blazing away driving the nights chill out of their bodies.
Robert entered with a tray of wine goblets and like a good waiter he served the drinks before settling down in the chair beside his wife, stretching his legs out toward the fire. She swung round and popped her naked feet on his lap where he began massaging them.
A little homely gesture that for some reason sent a sharp pain to Marta’s heart.
“Thank you Master Wheelwright.” She said raising her glass.
“Now none of that master stuff. My names Robert and this young lady is the love of my life my wife Anne. The other two you will meet tomorrow.”
“You saw me light the fire with a ball of fire so you should have a good idea how I can help you Marta. We are Wiccan, what some people call Witches, our abilities come from channelling our bodily energies, our emotions, and creating shapes that can do a multitude of tasks. Your Demonic blood makes your, we will call them spells for the moment though they are anything but, your spells more powerful and smelling of brimstone.”
“How did you enjoy the party up at the guildhall ladies?” Robert asked.
“It was enjoyable which surprised me mind you what happened afterward wasn’t so nice.” Astra told them.
“Outside waiting for us was Thomas-a-Quintus and his cronies. He seems to be obsessed with us and strangers. He admitted that he had killed a stranger, a courier, up on the high road to the village. He’s given us an eight day to leave the village.”
“You aren’t the only ones that are the target of his venom. He has had run ins with the female town councillors, some of which got ugly. He reckons that woman’s place is in the home.”
“If his views are so repugnant why do people follow him. He had five people with him, two women and three men and they all looked like business.”
“His view plays on the fears that people have for the unknown, the stranger. He is getting a following and has taken to giving rambling speeches.” Anne told them.
“I just don’t understand that view point. Did something happen to him as a child that could explain it?”
“Not that I’m aware of.” Robert told them as applied acupressure to Anne’s left foot.
She sighed with pleasure.
Taking that as being their cue the girls prepared for bed.
“It’s been a hectic day so if you’ll excuse me I’ll take myself of to bed.” Marta said with a yawn.
“Yes I think that would be a good idea.” Astra agreed. “Goodnight Robert, Anne.”
“Yes goodnight Robert, Anne.” Marta politely repeated.
“Goodnight girls. I’m afraid its up early tomorrow.” Anne told them. “We have quite a bit of work to do Marta.”
The girls climbed quietly passed the children’s bedrooms up into the attic space that was their room.
Once in the room they at last allowed themselves to relax.
“Could you help to get out of this thing?” Marta asked.
Astra started to unlace Marta’s bodice.
As the dress slipped to the floor Marta gabbed her breasts and massaged them a moment.
“That was painful.” She said with a sigh of relief. “I was terrified they were going to pop out at any moment especially in the Gavotte. Your turn.”
She started to unlace Astra’s bodice.
“I was thinking?” She said.
“Always a dangerous sign with you mind you not as dangerous as Lillian. Pray continue as I’m all ears.”
“Well thank you My Lady.” Marta bowed.
“Well get on with it.”
Astra sighed with pleasure as the bodice was at last taken off allowing her to scratched her sides at last.
“We’re never going to convince Thomas but we could remove his support.”
Astra raised a querying eyebrow.
“And, how pray tell, are going to do that?”
“A charm offensive. We’ll get them to see us instead of our blood.” Marta said earnestly trying to win her roommate over. “I don’t know how to do it but it must be worth a try.”
“The sounds a good idea, we’ll talk about it more tomorrow with the others.” Buy now both girls were only in their underwear.
Astra curled an arm around Marta’s waist and drew her closer.
Their lips met in a tender caress. Astra kissed Marta’s neck and her now exposed breast’s while her hand drew down the girls underwear. There resting between the cheeks of her buttocks was a short tail emanating from her coccyx curving to the top of her legs with the demons arrow head tip.
Astra gently stroked it while she tasted Marta’s flesh returning slowly to her lips.
Marta gave fluttering butterfly kisses down Astra’s body. From her small but perfectly formed breasts down to her navel. Lower and lower she went as Astra kicked off the last of her underwear to reveal… to reveal a truncated penis where the clitoris and urethra should be above a functional virginal opening. Small testicles could be seen still attached to the labia. Gently she rubbed the male member as she returned upward back to Astra’s lips and searching tongue.
Astra pulled her friend on top of her as she laid down on their bed, her cold body tempering Marta’s blazing heat.
Gently, quietly, they made love for the first time before falling to sleep.