The Quest. A Tale of Vengeance, Torment, and Love.

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A wild card. The Joker: Rossignol.

It was David who walked over to me and got my attention, albeit with difficulty.

“There is some snack food and a drink for you over by the fire, Guillaume. You need to take a break, and to rest. We’ll have dinner in another hour or so.”

I paused and looked at him, the sweat dribbling down my face after all of that exertion. I was out of breath and my muscles were beginning to stiffen.

“You need to drink a lot more than you've been drinking, and you need calories. The work won’t go anywhere in your absence, and there are other days.”

Whatever he... they... had thought of me before, they seemed to have reconciled it all.

’There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy (Hamlet). Shakespeare knew. So true.

I had not misled them on anything they had seen or experienced about me, and they could see that I seemed to know exactly where I was (even now, in the middle of nowhere), and knew what I was doing; uncovering a line of what appeared to be graves, and on a site that had not seen the foot of any human for a considerable number of years.

So they didn't understand. So what?

I left the tools in the hole I had begun, and followed him.

I hadn’t even noticed that the sun was getting low in the sky, or that they'd set lanterns up for later.

The smell of meat, cooking, would draw more than humans into this place, but the hunting would be good for any animal out here, so they would be able to ignore it.

I, couldn’t ignore it, and was drawn to the oak-wood fire with its large grill.

A large mug of hot tea was held out for me to take. There was a lot of sugar in it, and things to snack on. I didn’t realize just how hungry I was.

There were steaks laid out ready to cook, but not yet. They seemed to think that we had the rest of the evening to relax, and to sit and eat, but I, didn’t, and nor did those other voices in my head.

I drank one tea down, and would go after another next, and those steaks and the other things being prepared to go along with them, looked particularly tempting.

That was when I felt arms go around me from behind and I heard my name.

I knew that voice. I knew that touch. It electrified me.

I almost fell over, turning quickly and swept her into my arms.

“Rossignol.” I almost sobbed her name in relief. I felt as though I was waking up now, rather than descending into a nightmare. It was such a relief to see her.

I rested my head on her shoulder. She may have heard me sob as I held her close and kissed her. The tears came easily now.

I’d been running so much on adrenaline in the last few hours, and at such a ‘high’, that I needed to be brought down to a new level. She did that for me.

I pulled her closer, never wanting to let her go. “I never stopped thinking about you, my love. But when...? How?”

“I left Paris yesterday, flew down to Marseilles, and drove out this morning. It was a long, long drive. I followed the directions my father gave me, and drove in an hour ago.”

Her father hadn’t told me anything of that. I’d not seen her, or heard her arrive.

She’d even been watching me working, and I hadn't known? What had she been thinking?

They were all three of them watching us standing there, holding each other so close; leaving nothing to guess at with no room between us even to slide a playing card, but I didn’t care.

“I was just laying everything out in our tent and getting changed and freshened up.” She looked good in shorts. She looked good, period.

‘Our tent’. I felt weak at the knees. The promise was almost too much for me.

She stepped back from me to look at me.

I was grubby, I knew that.

“But your hands are bleeding. What have you been doing?”

It was nice to feel that someone was concerned for me, but she’d done that ever since we’d met.

I didn’t want to say, but she was waiting for a response.

“I need to see everything put right, here.” I don’t know whether it meant anything to her or not, whether she saw the larger implications.

“Come and sit on this log and let me see to those hands....” She leaned in and whispered to me...”but not like we last did it, unfortunately, when I saw to your arm.”

I know I blushed. I was glad to sit down... before others noticed....

If I wasn’t careful, I would soon abandon my entire plan for my being here, except those ‘others’; those still in my head, saw the same threat.

I could feel their rising anger with this unexpected interference.

She broke out the first aid kit and wiped over my cracked and sore hands, putting an antibiotic cream on them, and then bandaging them.

“Dad has some work gloves that you can wear.”

If I thought those other voices were painful getting here, they soon let me know that they could also be powerful enough to even keep me here. They were determined that I would finish this, no matter the cost. I would not be allowed to leave until I had finished it. There was a not so well-veiled threat, for the others too.

I should not have brought them here as I had, putting them in danger. I had not known.

If I was not careful, nowhere would be safe for me. I would be damned... worse than damned if I tried to ignore them, now that I was here, and I would hurt this woman beyond belief if I didn’t ignore them, and I carried out my original intent, but I wasn’t sure I was going to be given a choice, now.

It was not a choice I wanted to have to make. Her... or them. Life... or death. But it wasn't that simple any more.

“Dad, says we’ll eat in about an hour. If you don’t mind, I’ll retire after that. I haven’t slept since leaving Paris. And I used to think that Paris was noisy!” Marseilles had been much worse.

She looked around.

“However, before it gets dark, would you show me around your... what used to be your home, please. I feel I know it... or should know it.”

The last thing I needed, was to show her those graves or to have her ask me about the digging that I was doing, and the where and the why of it?

That part of my life... where I was digging, was one I did not touch on in detail, or want to touch upon. It had long, haunted me, so I had glossed over it with vague references to having made the Chambertin males pay for what they had done to my family. I kept the real details out of it. We all have those moments that, when we look back upon them, we feel so deeply ashamed that we just want to put them out of mind, and never speak of them, or even think of them again.

Unfortunately, I was here, and it was almost all that filled my mind.

“Do we have time for you to show me that cave above the river, and those paintings?”

I nodded. “I think I can find it.” I knew she had ulterior motives to get me away from the camp, and I didn’t mind.

She picked up a lantern, in case we needed it, and we walked away from the camp and down to the river.

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