AIMNÉISE Place of Pendants 2

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Chapter Twenty Five

Popes Holy Soldiers

As Mihai tried to pull on my arm again Germaine suddenly appeared and grasped Mihai’s shoulder in a tight squeeze.

“You will let her go.” He said quietly but with menace. Mihai let go of my arm and I backed up a few more steps.

I turned to look at Germaine, his face stern and his mouth in a tight flat line.

“Mihai, Mariana has been through enough in the past few weeks, and you will not, approach her again, unless she permits you to do so.”

Mihai gave me a scowl stamping away to the other side of the camp.

“I’m sorry, Germaine, I didn’t…mean to be any trouble.”

“You are no trouble, child, but Mihai is…well a little impulsive and is used to getting what he wants. His parents have spoiled him. It will be fine, he will get over it.” He smiled and led me back to his caravan, helping me up.

Rosa saw the look on my face and a nod from Germaine. “What is it, what has happened?”

Germaine had jumped up behind me. “It is nothing Rosa, just Mihai being…well Mihai. It seems he is taken with our little Mariana.”

Rosa tutted. “That boy is always getting into trouble. He didn’t hurt you, did he child?” She asked wrapping her arm around my shoulder.

“No all is good, I’m fine, really. Just a misunderstanding.” Although I knew that Mihai was more than a little forward, I was so happy that Germaine had stepped up when he did. I could have really hurt him if he it had gone on much longer.

Rosa hugged me. “You look tired child, lay down and sleep, things will be better tomorrow, and Germaine will make sure that Mihai will behave himself better, I will be speaking to his mother.”

Once I sat down on the makeshift bed, I suddenly needed to pee. “I’m sorry Rosa but I need to use the latrine.” I gave her a half smile, knowing she was preparing to ready herself for bed. She swung a knitted shawl around her to come with me.

“No please Rosa I will be fine, I will only be a minute.” I really wanted her to come but felt guilty dragging her with me knowing she was tired and wanted nothing more than to sink into her bed.

“I don’t know child, I think I should come with you.”

“No, no I will be fine, besides the guards are everywhere and they will hear me if I call out.”

Rosa agreed with a sigh. “Alright but a hint of a problem you yell.” I assured her I would.

Heaing myself down to the ground stepped gingerly around the caravan into the trees. I could see the light of lanterns the men held preparing to guard the caravans, horses and mules.

I crept along, far enough away but, so I could still see the caravan and the lanterns, crouching behind a tree to pee. When I had finished and made my way to the next tree a hand closed over my mouth and I was pulled backwards, spun and slammed into a tree.

Mihai crashed his mouth to mine, I bit hard down on his lip enough to draw blood.

“Get the fuck off me.”

He pulled away wiping his mouth with a grin on his face still holding me firmly with one hand, my back up against the bark of the tree. I was about to bring my knee up when a grizzly voice came from close by.

“So, what do we have here, then?”

We both turned to see three soldiers standing close.

Mihai growled at them. “You have no business here.”

The soldiers all laughed.

The one that has spoken stepped forward. “You dare speak to the Holy Guards, in such a manner, gypsy scum.” Then he hit Mihai hard across the head with the handle of his sword.

Mihai collapsed to the ground bleeding and out cold, I screamed. Men came running from everywhere, both gypsies and soldiers.

“You didn’t need to hit that hard you bastard.” I yelled at the soldier not showing once ounce of fear.

Germaine stepped forward. “Why have you sought to attack us. We have been given permission to reach our destination in peace by your Pope.”

“Gypsy do you see the Pope here?” The soldier laughed, waving his arm around as if to prove his point.

Rosa rushed through the trees to stand next to her husband along with three other men.

Germaine stepped closer to the soldier trying to get in between me, and Mihai sprawled on the ground, unconscious and still bleeding from the head wound.

“Your Pope guaranteed that we would have safe travel. Would you go against his orders?” Germaine questioned.

“As I said gypsy scum the Pope is not here and my men outnumber yours five to one.” A wicked grin crossed his face. “However, I could be persuaded to come to an agreement so that you can continue your journey in peace.”

“What is it you want, speak up or leave us to our journey.” Germaine snapped at him.

The guard moved closer then grabbed my wrist before I realised he was close enough to do so.

“I will take this one, she looks like she could warm my bed with her fire.”

Rosa yelled. “No!”

I tried to pull out of his grasp kicking my foot towards the apex of his thighs. He moved faster than I had anticipated.

“Get off me you fucking bastard.” I yelled in his face. His smile turned into something twisted and evil a glint in his eye saying that he was enjoying this.

“Oh, so we have a wild cat in our midst. Feisty hey boys?” He laughed at the other soldier, they laughed as well.

Germaine calmed his expression. “You will not take her. We have an agreement with your Pope, should he find out, I do not believe he would take this matter with kindness.”

“Ha.” The soldier huffed. “You do not know the Pope.” He looked to his men who all laughed again, like stupid dumb arse idiots. Pulling my arm from the soldier’s tight grip, made my wrist feel like it would snap with a little more pressure.

“I like the fire in this one, a little fire in my bed to keep out the chill.”

Rosa grabbed my other arm and held on so that I became the central component in a tug of war between them. Taking a fortifying breath I gave the soldier a disgusted look.

He was an older man with oily brown hair, slight greying just above his ears, his face scarred as if he had been burnt at one time. His eyes were small and his nose almost flat as if it had been broken more than once.

“The last thing you want, is to have me in your bed. You’ll be screaming like a baby when I bit your dick off.” The dirty look I gave him was meant to burn the skin off his arrogant face. “I would rather sleep in a bed of rats than a disgusting piece of shite such as you.”

The soldier’s face changed to wanton desire his eyes darkening as if my words had just sparked his lust. Shite, not the effect I had wanted. I think this has just backfired on me. I heard one of the gypsy males shout at Germaine.

“Let them take her, so we can be on our way. She is not one of us.”

“Lucian be quiet, you fool.” Germaine growled, and then there was what sounded like a slap against skin. I turned to see Rosa had indeed slapped the man across the face. Her own contorted with pure anger.

The soldier pulled me hard enough Rosa lost her grip on my arm. “I will take this fire fox and leave you in peace. That is the deal, if you don’t like it then my soldiers will ensure that none of you are left.”

I felt guilty, there was no way I would let all the gypsies be cut down just to save me. Before Germaine could say anything else, I straightened my back, giving the soldier a defiant look but turned to Germaine and Rosa.

Leonardo had paid them to take me with them, but they had treated me as if I was a daughter, I couldn’t see them hurt over me. No my mind was made up, no backing out now.

“It is ok, I will go. Thank you for everything you have done for me.” The crowd of gypsies that had formed behind Germaine and Rosa went quiet and stood stock still.

“No, child you cannot, I will not allow them to take you.” Rosa screamed. Germaine wrapped his arms around his wife his eyes saddened with my decision. He knew as well as I did this was for the best. The soldiers would kill them all if I didn’t agree, the women and children wouldn’t stand a chance. I gave Germaine a nod, he returned one as Rosa howled in distress.

Two of them picked Mihai up of the ground and carried him through the parting crowd back to camp. I hoped he was ok, regardless of what he had done, he didn’t deserve to die for it, he was still so very young.

Germaine had to almost drag a weeping Rosa away. It seemed all I had done since I arrived at Leonardo’s was put people in danger, I couldn’t let anyone be killed for me. I said a silent goodbye to my gypsy family.

“Gypsy’s be on your way, be gone before I return, or I will have my men cut you all to pieces.

I snapped my head to the despicable slime that held my arm in a vice grip. “You know you are nothing but a dog, I said I would go with you, now leave these people alone.” I grunted resolve in my voice, I probably should be cowering, anger overcoming any fear I had.

As the soldier dragged me away, I turned to see a tearful Rosa, being pulled away by Germaine. A man beside them tapped his cap at me a despondent look on his face before he turned and walked back to camp.

I don’t know how I manage to get myself into these messes and all this because I wanted a pee. The soldier dragged me through the trees to waiting horses. Jesting amongst themselves and asking if they could have a turn with me when the buffoon who still had me in a tight grasp was finished with me. I was just sorry that I didn’t have my crossbow, if I had then they would be a platoon of dead shitheads.

I wonder if I am as good with a blade as I am with a crossbow, that is something I will need to find out.

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