At first the bath was an unpleasant experience. The tub was a metal and sized for a smaller man than Paul, a child maybe. She filled it with water drawn from buckets that were held over a small fire to warm. When asked if she had fetched all of them herself, Tani shrugged and said that no one else would do it. He undressed carefully, blushing the whole time as he ordered the girl to at least turn around. She insisted on helping him bathe though, saying his arm could not support the bending and movement required.
As he lay soaking in the warm water, his eyes wandering over the wounds on his arm and chest, he marveled at how well they were healing. The girl’s poultices had done amazing things towards removing the hideous gashes and scars. She knows her trade, he thought as she knelt behind him to scrub at his back. Continue reading
The farm house was a simple affair with only two real rooms. Directly through the door was a small pantry that held hanging herbs and other things used for common poultices and potions. That must have been where the smell came from. His father had an herbalist and they made him keep his roots and plants in a building separate from main Hall. He glanced at the girl and paused her here. “Your grandmother was an herbalist?”
Tani would not look at him. “M’lord need not concern himself with that.” He frowned. Paul always despised it when people hid things from him. It made him feel like he wasn’t worthy of knowing it. His grip on her arm got tighter and she squirmed. “Tell me,” he insisted. She looked up at him, eyes suddenly fierce. Her jaw worked like she was chewing on her words. Finally she exhaled and looked away. Continue reading
On the day he could stand he crept out of his bed and felt the sores on his back and legs from the mattress. They were raw and itchy and he desperately desired a bath. Tani washed his upper body when she thought he was sleeping. The water always woke him and she scurried off instantly.
His stink was unbearable and he hobbled to the water bucket she fetched for him and knelt, slowly, to rinse off his hair and splash it on his arms and chest. He looked about for a bar of lye but found nothing. He’d go ask for some, and perhaps a tub if they had one. Perhaps she can fetch hot water too. Delighted by the thought of a hot bath, he walked gingerly to the door of the house and opened the latch. Continue reading
He woke some time in the night to the sound of thunder and rain as it poured down on the thatch roofing and sprayed the stone walls of the house. He discovered he was naked beneath the wool blankets. The cot he lay on was stiff, the mattress thinly stuffed with straw. Alarmed, he worried the girl robbed him and left him in some abandoned farmhouse.
He sat up and immediately regretted it. The pain in his left arm was excruciating and he lay back down. It was bandaged and a makeshift sling held it across his chest. The bandage was fresh linen and smelled of herbs. When he peeked beneath the bandages he saw that his wounds had been cleaned and even sewn shut. No thief would tend me so, he realized and lay back down. When lightning crashed and lit up the room, he realized he had not been moved very far from where he’d passed out. His mail hung on the spade handle and his tunic – the sigil of his house sewn on the left breast — was tossed across a bag of feed. The rest of his clothes were nowhere to be seen. Continue reading
They walked in silence as the trees began to thin and a modest house came into view. There was a low barn that could house a cow or two and maybe a horse. As they passed by it, he saw there was no horse. There was very little hay too and from what little look he got inside, there was barely any in the loft. She caught him looking. “The cows graze. Easier.”
There were two cows and they walked untethered across a great, overgrown green surrounding a well. Paul saw other houses in the distance but most were in disrepair, their thatch roofs gone or collapsed while the stone and wood walls crumbled. He saw no other life.
“Where are the other villagers?” Continue reading