WARRIORS OF THE WAY
A roar of thunder woke me from my slumber, not a slumber really, but more an exit from consciousness. I stirred, disoriented and unsure of anything only to find myself in yet another strange location. This time I was bundled up in blankets lying under a makeshift arbor of skins and branches and almost totally surrounded by odd looking but sturdy trees, wide of trunk with smooth bark that seemed to put forth a kind of pale light. I stretched my arms and tried to touch the top of the tent, yawning like an baby, quietly as I could muster but loud enough to catch the attention of my companion.
The man with sky colored eyes was arranging logs and branches at the edge of the camp while keeping one eye on the fire and one eye on the rumbling skies. A pot of something delicious bubbled noisily over the fire and reminded my stomach that I had not yet partaken of food this day. My strength had not been totally regained but I felt refreshed and if not in full, in part, restored to my sanity and well being. Somewhere deep inside of me I kept hoping that the events of the last two days had not been real, could not be real and that soon I would wake up from a deep and feverish sleep and life would be as it should be.
As if reading my mind, the man looked in my direction and smiled "Oh, it's real, make no mistake about that." And when I reacted, he smiled again and said, "I know you must be hungry. Let us eat while the fire is still with us. The skies are desperate to release their furies and the rain will water down my famous stew." "Famous, eh?" I queried and shook my hair and tried to straighten my disheveled clothing. I threw back the blankets to find the night air chilly and full of the scent of rain.
"Dost thou always carry strangers away without their permission?" The man was silent as he filled two bowls with stew and made his way to where I lay. With a teasing trace of smile he murmured as he handed me the food, "Tis hard to make a dead man walk." I nodded and tasted a spoonful of food, finding it indeed to my liking but hot, very hot. "Oh!" I cried as the stew seared my tongue and the man laughed and handed me a flask of water. "A thousand pardons, I beg thee. I should have warned you of it's warmth. It has been cooking for hours as I watched thee....wander in thy...restlessness." I looked at him to discern what he might mean but as I looked into his eyes I could only see his eyes and forgot my reason for looking. "Oh." I said again and cooled my next spoonful before the bite. Then, "I am grateful, I am sure. For thy kindness...and the food....and the..watching....and..and the carrying." Rebuking myself, I concentrated upon the bowl of stew and my stomach rumbled happily.
Finishing, I remembered the previous day's resolve and tried to make my face appear stern and indifferent. "Thou art a very strange man. How is it that I find myself in thy company? Art thou a Symbelon?" (meaning demon man of the house of Fallon.) The man chuckled and gathered up the bowls and stood to his feet. He thought for a moment and then scowled down at my fierce upturned face. "I might be. I very well might be. You cannot tell. And neither will I." And went away laughing.
A peal of thunder broke from the sky and lightning, jagged and bright and close, lit up the camp and exposed the hidden recesses that enclosed us. There were many tall gray boulders around the area on the far side of the fire and near one of them I saw a beautiful silver horse in fancy garb waiting for his supper. He raised his regal head at the flash of lightning and neighed a warning to the man. Then he disappeared behind the boulder where I assumed a shelter waited for him.
The sight of him made my heart ache for my Starshine and I lay back in the dark and steeled myself against remembering. I could not allow myself to wallow in self pity if I were to be the warrior I had resolved to be. I must remain hard and detached, emotionless and mindful of the mission. I could not lose sight of that most of all, no matter what the losses or the heartache. Feeling stronger after the meal, I tried to remember everything I could, though memories were showing themselves only in tiny portions in my mind.
Something shining.....glittering like diamonds...there..at the edge of my thoughts. What was it? When? The sensation of being taken away into a marvelous place against my will but unable to stop my feet from going forward. A door.....big as a mountain and beckoning....the handle fitting into my small hand as naturally as....what? What was it? Part of a dream? And what lay behind that gigantic door?
The straining to remember made my head ache and I brushed the images away as the first cold drops of rain began to fall. In minutes the fire went out and the camp became dark except for the pale glow from the strange trees. The heavens opened up then and rained down on us in the raging strength of nature's glory. The night became alive. The arbor in which I lay was high up off the ground on a kind of rocky shelf and protected from the flow of water that rushed across the low lying camp in torrents of icy silver.
The horse called again and seemed to answer himself in his own tongue. "Odd." I thought and snuggled underneath the warm skins and blankets in my hiding place. I loved storms but was thankful that I was not lying in it's fury at my camp near the brook. The willow trees would not have provided the good shelter I had here. It was the perfect encampment when I thought of it. I felt safe and secure and well protected. But that was not of my own doing, I thought. That was because of the man.
Almost at the same moment that I thought of him, he rushed up to the shelter and threw himself over me and snuggled his wet body underneath the coverlets. I was amazed! "W..w...what dost thou think thou art doing?" I exclaimed and withdrew from him as far as the bunk would allow. I had not thought this out, I said to myself and drew the blankets away from him and up to my chin in protest. "Not here! Thou cannot stay here!" I shouted above the din of thunder. He dried his long wet hair with the corner of a blanket and paid me no mind. Removing some weaponry, he placed them at his feet and pulled the blankets back to distribute them evenly.
Then he looked at me in mild amusement. "And where wouldst thou have me stay, my Lady? This is my bed and shelter, thank you very much! And you are my guest. Here at my invitation. And it is the only place available...except for Redemption's haven. What would you have me do?"
I did not know. I could only sputter in protest while coming up with no answer. Where else could he go? This was the only safe place from the storm. Perhaps it would soon end and he could go back to his campfire. I would be patient. And watchful.
I made a sort of dam between us with the blanket and lay back warily trying to pretend that there was no man lying there beside me in the dark. I would sleep no more this day, I was certain. "Don't be afraid, little one." he whispered after a time, "I will not harm you. I know you find yourself in disagreeable and awkward company but this is something that you will live through in honor as you have survived many disagreeable things. Sleep well and good night." And with that, he turned his back and pulled the coverlets up to his ears and left me alone in my quandary. After many minutes, I relaxed enough to stretch out in comfort and let go of my trepidation. But for a very long time I could only lay there at the edge of my bed watching the storm and wondering how I came to find myself in this situation. I could only wonder.
The sound of the man's soft breathing let me know that he was asleep and I turned and looked at his back in the pale glow and how his dark hair curled up when it was damp. I put out a timid finger and touched a tendril and curled it around my hand. I felt like a naughty little girl. I laughed under my breath at my bravery and moved to unwind the curl when a low voice said hardly above a whisper, "You must not touch me while I sleep. I am not a plaything. And you are not a child."
To be continued on it's own Blog..........Coming Soon!
and also in the Warriors Collection............