Author: musesrealm PM
While running from her Roman masters, a young woman meets up with our heroes--one of whom she knew when she was a slave.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 3,468 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 11-12-01 - id: 451665
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Cassandra quickened her steps. She could hear the soldiers behind her, gaining every second. She tripped, and rolled down a small hill. Cassandra struggled to get back up and continue her flight, but before she could regain her footing, one of the soldiers grabbed her arms from behind. He roughly yanked her up and started tying her hands behind her back.
"Let go of me!" Cassandra screamed. She wiggled and struggled, which only made the other three soldiers laugh. When he had finished binding her, the soldier turned her around to face him. He looked longingly at her, which didn't escape Cassandra notice.
"Hey there, slave girl," he spoke seductively at her, "how would you like go to my house instead of to the dungeon?" The other soldiers burst out laughing at this, and cheered on their friend.
Cassandra spit in her attacker's face. "You Bastard!" she yelled, and started to work out of the leather straps around her wrists. Before she could get them off, the soldier slapped her, knocking to the ground. Cassandra closed her eyes certain that a beating would follow, but it never came.
A voice spoke up from somewhere nearby. "I'd be leaving the lady alone if I were you." Cassandra didn't know who the voice belonged to, nor did she care. She slipped out of her bindings, and with the swiftness of a cobra, she attacked her would-be oppressor and attacked him head-on. He put up a good fight, but he was no match for her rage at what he had tried to do to her. He fell after only a few punches. That done, Cassandra turned to thank her rescuer, but he wasn't doing as well as she had.
Once the soldiers realized that there was another person in the glen with them, they turned to face the newcomer, assuming that their comrade could handle the girl alone. They ganged up on the newcomer all at once. He managed to take one of them down before becoming over-whelmed by the other two. Almost instantly, or so it seemed to Cassandra, another man engaged the raining guards, one of whom ran off into the hills before the bald stranger could attack him. Cassandra started after the fleeing soldier, but realized that he had a sword and armor, and she had nothing but her bare hands. She watched him go over the hillside and off towards the Roman lands before turning back to see what assistance she could offer her saviors.
The bald man had already taken care of the remaining soldier, and was helping the blond man up from the ground. Cassandra approached them.
"Thank you for the assistance. My name is Cassandra."
The blond nodded to her. "My name is Connor, and his is Fergus."
"We're happy we could help you." added Fergus. "If you don't mind my asking, how did you get here?"
"I was a slave, and I escaped." Both men saw the hurt in her eyes, but knew they weren't the source of it. Caitlin also had that look in her eyes at times.
"Where are you headed to?"
"As far from the Romans as I can get. Shouldn't we get going? I'm sure the Romans will return shortly with reinforcements."
"I doubt it." Fergus shook his head. "They usually figure it's a waste of time. If the wild animals don't kill you the elements will."
"You are welcome to stay with us in our sanctuary until you decide where to go."
Cassandra thought about it for a second. Should she trust these strangers who saved her or not?
Cassandra thought about it for a second. Should she trust these strangers who saved her or not? In the end, it wasn't really much of a choice, since she didn't have any idea how to survive in this land, so far from her native Greece. "Alright, I guess I'll go with you."
The trio walked for several miles is silence before Conor motioned for Cassandra to follow him under a waterfall. She complied, and was amazed by what she found on the other side--a cavern filled with people. Women were cooking, men were cleaning weapons, and children were playing happily by an indoor pool.
"This way." Motioned Conor. "There's someone that I want you to meet." He and Fergus led her up to a small depression covered with a cloth for privacy. Fergus called to someone inside. "Could you come out here for a minute, lass. There's someone here we want you to meet."
Cassandra saw movement, and a few seconds later a woman came out from behind the cloth. It was the last woman Cassandra had expected to see there...a person she had thought was dead. "Cat?" she asked. "Is it really you?"
Caitlin looked just as startled as Cassandra. "Cass? Dear God! I never thought I'd see you again!" The two women embraced, and Fergus and Conor watched, flabbergasted.
It was Fergus who finally interrupted the two women. "Excuse me. Do you two know each other?"
Cassandra and Caitlin broke apart and turned to face the two men, grinning broadly. "We were both slaves for Diana and her Centurion, Longinus. When Cat disappeared a few months ago I thought they'd killed her. I had to know the truth, so I decided to run away and find her, and then take us both to Greece."
"You're going back home then?"
"Yes, and I was hoping that when I found you you'd want to go too, but I see now that you've found a home, so I guess I'll be leaving alone tomorrow morning."
"What about Cullen? I thought you two were going to get married? Shouldn't you wait for him?" Caitlin asked.
"Cullen was killed, Cat. Not long after you were missing. The guards found out about us, and they crucified him. They almost did that to me too, but Diana decided that I would suffer more if she let me live to serve as an example to others." There were tears in her eyes as she finished her tale.
"Oh, Cass! I'm so sorry!" For a long time no one said anything.
"You are welcome to stay with us here in the Sanctuary." Offered Conor. "There's plenty of room."
"Thank you. I'll have to think about it." She wiped her tears on the end of her cloak.
"Enough sadness!" exclaimed Fergus. "It's almost time for supper. Would you care to join us? I'm sure you haven't eaten anything in quite some time."
"Not since last night." She agreed. "I could eat the food of Circe!"
"What?" asked a confused Conor.
"It's an expression. Circe was a witch in a poem. She turned men into pigs. All it means is that I'm really hungry."
"Alright then. How do you feel about venison stew?"
"Sounds great! Lead on!"
The new friends got some stew from the cook and sat down to eat. They were joined a few minutes later by Tully, who introduced himself to Cassandra, and she told him how she cam to be here.
"So," asked Tully. "if you don't mind me asking, what did you do before becoming a slave?"
Cassandra took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "I was captured when I was barely six years old. I don't really remember my parents; they were killed by Longinus for being Christians when I was seven. I was raised by Longinus' bard. He told me all sorts of stories about the early days of Greece and Rome."
"Do you remember any of the stories he told you?"
"Practically all of them, but I don't tell them as well as Lukos could. I'm fascinated by my country's history and old religion."
Caitlin elbowed Cassandra. "She's one of the best storytellers that I've ever heard. Present company excepted, Fergus."
Fergus just smiled.
"You tell stories as well, Fergus?" inquired Cassandra.
"Just to entertain the children."
"Oh! I'd love to hear some of the stories from this land! Could you tell me some?"
"Sure, Lass. But you have to tell me and the children some of your stories as well."
"Could you tell the children a story after dinner, Cassandra?" asked Tully. "I'm sure their parents would like them to hear something other than the scary tales that Fergus tells them."
"I'd be honored, but only if it's alright with you, Fergus."
"Of course lass."
By that time the children had gathered around, in hopes of hearing a grisly tale from Fergus.
"Children, is it alright if this lass tells you a story tonight? I was hunting all day, and I'm a little tired."
There was a little complaining from the children, but when Conor explained that Cassandra could tell stories about far away lands, they warmed up to the idea. Even they got sick of the scary stuff once in a while.
"So, how would you children like to hear a story?" Cassandra looked around at the nodding heads of the children, eager to listen to a story from a distant land. Glancing up at Fergus and Tully, who nodded their approval, she asked the children, "What kind of a story?" The children started shouting their opinions at her.
"A hero story!"
"A monster story!"
"A story about a beautiful princess!"
"Magic! Don't forget the magic!" Cassandra smiled at them. "I have it." she said, and then asked, "Have you ever heard the tales of Perseus?" They shook their heads no. Cassandra rose from the bench and started her tale, using her best storyteller's voice.
"Once, long ago in Greece their lived a maiden named Danae. Danae was in love with a boy named Skorros, but her father, Akrisios, did not like him, so the lovers were forbidden to marry. To prevent the lovers from running off together, Akrisios locked Danae up in a tower. Not long afterwards Danae was visited by Skorros, and soon she gave birth to a son. Unbeknownst to Danae, Skorros had died from a broken heart soon after she was imprisoned, and it was not him but Zeus, the king of the gods, who had fathered the child. Enraged by her actions, Danae's father threw Danae and her son into a chest and dropped it into the ocean." Cassandra paused, looking waiting for the children's reactions. She didn't have to wait long.
"What happened to her?" asked a young girl of perhaps six or seven.
"Well, luck, and the gods were with the young woman and her son, for they soon came ashore on an island, where a man named Polydektes found them and took them in. They lived in peace for several years, until Polydektes fell in love with Danae. She did not love him back, and he could not force her to marry him, for Perseus would not allow it. Perseus had become the strongest youth on the island, and Polydektes was not strong enough to beat him in battle. Not to be denied, Polydektes gathered riches from the wealthy men on the island and promised this wealth to Perseus if her could bring him the head of Medusa, the snake-haired woman, whose gaze could turn even the strongest man into stone, should he look upon her. Perseus accepted the challenge, taking with him only his shield, sword, and a sack to put the head in once he had taken it. Perseus had no idea where to find the monster Medusa, so he went to the cave of the Graiai, who knew all things."
"No one can know everything!" stated a boy in the back.
"Well, the ancient Greeks thought so," answered Cassandra, "so maybe they just knew everything about Greece." That seemed to satisfy the boy. Cassandra continued.
"After a few seeks traveling, Perseus found the cave of the Graiai. Now, the Graiai, would not just answer the questions of mortals, so Perseus had to be tricky. The three Graiai sisters had but one eye between them, and Perseus stole it. Blind and unable to do anything without their eye, they told Perseus where to find Medusa, and after a little more persuasion, gave Perseus Hades helmet to make him invisible, and Hermes' winged shoes, so that he could travel quickly, and walk on water." The last item got some 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the children. " Perseus gave them back their eye, and left for the isle of the Gorgons."
Fergus walked up behind Cassandra and put his hand on her shoulder. "Time for the children to go to bed." He said to her. "We wouldn't want them to have nightmares, no would we?"
The children begged him not to make them go quite yet, claiming that they couldn't rest until they had finished the story. "Oh, alright." he said winking to Cassandra. "I guess you could finish the story first."
"So where was I?" Cassandra asked the children. "Oh yes, Perseus was just about to enter Medusa's lair." She paused for a moment, adding to the tension that was settled in the room. "The young hero was horrified be what he found upon arriving on the island: hundred of men and women turned to stone by looking at Medusa. She was once a beautiful young woman, but she had boasted that she was more beautiful than the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, and for that the Goddess turned her beautiful golden hair into snakes, writhing and twisting atop her head. Wanting to avoid the fate that had befallen the others, Perseus snuck into the lair walking backwards, looking into his silver polished shield, so as not to accidentally gaze upon Medusa's once beautiful form. Luckily, Medusa was asleep, and Perseus had no trouble severing her head from her body. Without looking at it, Perseus carefully put Medusa's head in his sack and left the lair to find that the stone people had turned back into their normal forms. He waved to them and started his journey home..."
A blond girl interrupted her. "Where does the love part come in?" she asked.
"I was just getting to that. Close to his homeland, Perseus came upon a maiden chained to a rock. She was being sacrificed to the whale Cetus, because her parents, the king and queen of Ethiopia, had angered the sea-goddess, and the goddess had demanded the princess as a sacrifice to appease her anger. Perseus attempted to free the princess, but the chains had been forged in the fires of Hephaestus, and could be undone when either the princess had been sacrificed, of the monster who was supposed to eat her had been killed. At that moment, Cetus rose out of the ocean and opened his mouth to eat the princess. Almost without thinking Perseus took Medusa's head out of the sack and held it up into the air. Curious as to what the mortal was holding up to him, Cetus looked at the head and was turned to stone, and the chains came off of the princess. She leapt into his arms, and kissed him in gratitude. When Perseus took the princess, who's name was Andromeda, back to shore, her parents were so happy that they offered Andromeda to him, and with her their kingdom. He accepted both offers, but had to return home to rescue his mother and claim his reward. After another few days travel he returned home to find a wedding ceremony between his mother and Akrisios taking place. Enraged, Perseus forced Akrisios behind the wall of the temple and took Medusa's head out of the sack. Once Akrisios had been turned to stone, Perseus took his mother back to Ethiopia where he and Andromeda were wed, and lived happily ever after. The end."
Looking up down at the children, Cassandra discovered that many of the younger ones had fallen asleep. She smiled to herself and picked one of them up. Fergus took the child from her, and he and Tully started herding the children back to their homes.
Conor came towards Cassandra from where had been sitting against the far wall of the sanctuary. "Thank you for the story." he said. "It's been a long time since we've heard stories from anyone besides Fergus.
"And what's so wrong with my stories?" asked Fergus who had just returned from putting the children to bed.
"Nothing, Fergus. It's just nice to hear stories from someone else once in a while, that's all."
Fergus nodded in agreement. "Aye, and it's nice to be able to hear stories, and not have to tell them." There was a twinkle in his eyes.
Caitlin was grinning as she came up to the threesome. "Your place is ready, whenever you want to sleep." Caitlin had that far away look in her eyes again. Cassandra vowed she would find out what was troubling her old friend before she left. For now she simply said "Lead on." Saying her goodbyes to the men, she followed Caitlin to the room they would be sharing for the night. As she was falling asleep, Cassandra couldn't help but wonder if her stay would be for just that one night, or if it would be for longer...
The morning broke clear and crisp. Cassandra awoke to find that Caitlin had already risen, so she decided to get up herself. She walked over to where Tully was sitting, and sat down beside him.
"Good morning!" he said "How did you sleep?" he looked up at her and gave her a smile that reminded her of Cullen. God, how she missed him!
"Wonderfully! I haven't slept in this late since I was a child!"
Tully gave her a quizzical look, but didn't press. He waved to Conor who was walking up to them. He came up beside Tully and touched him of the shoulder.
"Breakfast is ready." he nodded to the pair. Tully rose, and helped Cassandra to her feet. Walking between the two men she got food from the cook and the three of them joined Fergus and Caitlin near one of the walls.
"This is the best meal I've had in a long time!" exclaimed Cassandra after she took a bite of her oat mush. It had little berries in it. Cassandra hadn't had berries in months.
"I'll tell the cook you said so." said Conor.
"You could eat like this every morning if you stayed here."
"I know, Cat."
"So you've decided to go?" Caitlin looked at her with sadness in her eyes.
"No. I thought long and hard about it, and everything tells me that the home that I knew has been taken over by the Roman Empire. I don't think I could get a boat to take me back that wasn't Roman anyway. If they caught me I'd just be sent back into slavery. Besides, I'm carrying Cullen's child, and it's not healthy for a pregnant woman to travel."
"You're pregnant?!" Cat looked totally baffled.
"What, you didn't notice how fat I've gotten?" Cassandra looked down at her stomach. It wasn't that big, but then again, she was wearing loose-fitting clothes.
"Well, yeah, but..."
"It's alright Cat. I understand. So, if you guys will have me, I'd like to stay here."
"You are welcome to stay with us for as long as you'd like." Conor gave her a big smile, and Caitlin gave her a big hug. "Tully, can you see what you can do as far as living quarters?" Tully nodded, and left. "Fergus, let's go hunting."
"Now? What ever for?"
"If we're going to have another person staying with us..."
"We'll need more meat." Fergus had taken Conor's hint, and left, leaving the two women alone to catch up on the past, and to talk about the future.