Chapter Four:

"Filthy beast!"

The cudgel came down on Kurt's head with a loud thud, making him cry out as he tried to protect himself with his arms. Pietro kicked him in the stomach, knocking the wind from him as he started to beat on the rest of his body with the cudgel.

"This should teach you a lesson!" he said, continuing to beat him, ignoring the startled cries of the pigs in the pigsty watching this display of savage brutality that humans always performed on one another.

"Never make me look foolish in front of the Father!" Pietro cried. "Never again! Do you hear me you stupid slave?" Coughing up blood, Kurt sneered at him a bit, narrowing his eyes and flicking his tail dangerously.

"It's not too hard to make you look like a fool!" he hissed softly. "You were born for that role you foolish Gadje child!" He let out a yelp when he was struck in the face with the cudgel.

"I'll kill you!" Pietro cried, striking him again in the face. One of the other servants was forced to pull him off of Kurt before he actually fulfilled his promise with him.

"The master will not like it if you kill his animal keeper!" the servant reminded him. "Now come back into the house with me at once!" Pietro came reluctantly, but not without one last kick that sent Kurt into blissful nothingness.

Chapter Five:

Kurt dreamt of Jimaine... and he woke up with a scream afterwards, startling the pigs away from him.

Panting, Kurt placed a hand on his forehead, and he pulled it away to find nothing but cold sweat on the palm of his hand.

"What does it mean?" he whispered softly, looking around slowly. "Gott, what does it mean?"

Kurt had been living on his master's land for two years now, and he had been having the nightmares since last month, the second anniversary of the day Jimaine was taken away from him. It had happened the year before as well, but this one was so much more vivid than that last one!

He had seen Jimaine standing in front of him, her arms stretched out to embrace him. But her face was disfigured with blood pouring out of her scar. She pointed at him with one gnarled finger, and then made the sign of the Cross, a golden light following her finger. She had then let out a screech before he had woken.

What was also strange, his wounds he received last night were completely gone. There was not a single bruise or bit of dried blood on him from the beating he received from Pietro!

"What sort of magic is this?" he whispered to himself. He looked over to one of the piglets and he sighed, getting to his feet.

Kurt splashed his face with the well water, hoping to wipe away the nightmare and his disappearing wounds, but they were still there, digging and tearing away at him.

What could it have meant? Was Jimaine dead? If so, why did she look so much like a demon of some sort? And why did she make the sign of the Cross, she had never been interested in the Christian faith before...

Slowly, Kurt closed his eyes and he shook his head, banishing the thoughts from his mind for now. He had work to do, and it wouldn't be good if Pietro caught him standing around the well and looking into space.

The animals were quiet today. This was odd, because when Kurt tended to them, they usually made some sort of noise, acknowledging him like an equal and a member of their family.

But not today.

Today, they watched him in silence as he did his work. The pigs were limp in his arms as he washed them, and no matter how much he tried to coax them, the cows and bull refused to make even a single moo for him. When he led them out to the fields, they moved eagerly enough, but they looked at him with such sad eyes, and he couldn't understand what was the matter with them.

"Is something the matter, m'lady?" he asked one of the cows, stroking her side lightly. "Have I offended you in some way that you are giving me the silent treatment? Please, make some sort of noise to acknowledge me." The cow only looked at him for a moment before looking away and starting to graze.

Sighing, Kurt placed his hands on his hips and he shook his head a bit.

"You're in a mood." He said.

"You! Boy!" Kurt clicked his teeth together in annoyance, narrowing his eyes slightly. He hated Pietro; he hated him with a burning passion. He was older than him by a good five years, and yet Pietro insisted on addressing him as "boy". He also had thirty whip scars on his back from him, and he swore that one day, he would make him pay twice that number!

If it weren't for those shackles on his ankles...

"I said boy! Come over here now!" Pietro ordered. Rolling his eyes, Kurt put on his submissive face and pose, and he turned and walked up to Pietro, bowing his head to him slightly.

"What took you so long? Are you going deaf, boy?" Pietro demanded.

"My hearing is just fine." Kurt said softly. "I was merely thinking about the cows and their condition."

"What condition?"

"They're not making any noise. Usually, an animal will make some kind of noise. They may be ill, or a rainstorm may be coming." Kurt shrugged, placing his hands on his hips. "Who can say what animals know and do with their knowledge." Pietro snorted, shaking his head as if Kurt were a simpleton.

"They're just cows! Stupid beasts who once they are out of milk, become our meal." He said.

"That is what you believe." Kurt said simply. "But that is not what I myself believe, sir." Pietro backhanded him, and Kurt's head snapped to one side.

"Don't get smart with me, boy. You'll feel my whip if you do." He warned.

"Did you want me for something, sir?" Kurt asked, wiping away the bit of blood on his lips with his tail tip.

"The good Father is going on a hunt." Pietro said. "In about an hour. He wants you to prepare his dogs and best hunting stallion for the job before then. Failure to do so in a timely fashion will result in twenty lashes."

"Then I shall get to it at once." Kurt said. "If you will excuse me...sir." Turning sharply on his heel, Kurt's tail slapped Pietro hard in the face, knocking him to the ground. Slowly, Kurt turned around and he cocked an eyebrow, putting on an innocent face.

"Sir, what is the matter?" he asked. "Have you tripped on something? Oh well, I must get the master's things ready."

"You'll pay for that, boy!" Pietro snarled, narrowing his eyes angrily as Kurt calmly walked into the horse's stables.

Looking around, Kurt could feel that something was wrong with the horses as well. They were all just standing in their stalls, looking around and doing nothing. They usually were neighing and whinnying at each other when he came in to deal with them.

Sighing, Kurt shook his head and he went up to his master's favorite hunting horse; a black one named Clark. Clark took one look at him and snapped at him, baring his teeth at him. Flinching back, Kurt looked at him in surprise, frowning slightly as he looked at his unharmed hand.

"What was that for?" he asked. "None of you have ever snapped at me before! Why is today so different for you all of a sudden?" Clark snorted, pawing at the ground dangerously. Groaning, Kurt went to get the saddle and everything.

"Well, whether you like it or not, I have to get you ready for one of the master's hunts!" he said. "So deal with it, Clark!" Opening the stall door, Kurt entered, and he cried out when Clark bit into his shoulder. Ignoring the throbbing pain, he put the saddle and bit on, and he received a few bites and kicks more before he was able to lead the wild horse outside and tie it to a post to wait for its master to arrive. It bucked and kicked at him wildly, and he thanked God that the rope was strong enough to stop Clark from getting at him.

"I don't know what's gotten into you lately!" he said, "but it needs to stop!" Turning around, Kurt screamed when Clark bit deeply into his tail, drawing blood. Turning around, he slapped the horse in pure anger, and he then went to the dog pen to get them ready.

For some reason, all of the dogs were quite docile with him, wagging their tails and barking at him when he entered. Shaking off his confusion, Kurt put on their metal spiked collars and led them to where Clark was, steering clear of the enraged horse at all times.

He was forced to stand a few feet away from Clark, since the horse kicked and seemed to scream whenever he got too close to it.

"Are they all ready?" his master asked, walking up from behind him. Turning around, Kurt nodded faintly, looking back at Clark warily. His master looked at his tail and he tilted his head to one side.

"Where did you get that bite from?" he asked.

"Clark, master." Kurt said. Shrugging, his master walked up to the horse and mounted him easily.

"I will be coming back late at night." His master said. "Be ready to wash my animals when I return." With that, he led his dogs off to his hunt. Hugging himself slightly, Kurt watched his master ride off, his tail swaying slowly side to side.

Something caught his eye, and Kurt turned his head and looked over at his master's church. A light in the figure of a woman entered it, and it then peeked out at him. It looked like it was calling to him to come into the church with it.

Kurt hesitated, hugging his tail slightly. It was forbidden to enter the church; his master had told him that the first day he had been brought here. If he was caught there, he would be hanged without any questions.

But the figure appeared once more, motioning for him to come in and join it in the church. It was definitely a female, its hair swaying in the wind as it called to him.

He wanted to follow her, but when he looked up at the sky, he saw that it was still a good two hours before the sun would set and give him the cover of night. Looking back at the beckoning figure, Kurt hoped that she could read his lips from far away.

"I must wait for the sun to set, lady." He said. "I will be caught if I go now." The specter nodded slowly, and she sank into the church.

Sighing, Kurt went back to work to wait for the sun to set.

Chapter Six:

The sun was setting.

Kurt watched it with a fast beating heart, trying hard not to get his hopes up too high. When it was finally gone, he went as fast as he could with the shackles on, and he went straight to the church, praying to God that no one would see him as he crept into the open door.

His mouth fell open helplessly as he looked around at the rich splendor around him. Stain glass windows portraying saints and their lives glistened in the light of the white candles glowing all around the gold gilded church. Gems and jewels sparkled all over, some of them placed in statues of Jesus and His Mother.

It wasn't just this that stunned him into silence. Kurt was not impressed by rich things much, but it was the being at the altar that surprised him the most.

It was a young woman with long flowing golden hair. She had her back to him, and she was dressed in a silken gown that swirled around her. She was shrouded by golden light, and Kurt felt like he was in the presence of a saint or an angel of some kind.

There was a clatter, and when Kurt looked down at his ankles, he saw that the shackles had fallen off on their own accord. Raising up his head, he started to slowly walk towards the glowing woman, his eyes filling with tears for no reason really.

When the woman turned around to face him, he fell to his knees and the tears fell freely down his cheeks.

"I've missed you." Jimaine whispered, tilting her head to one side as she smiled at him warmly. Her face was young and beautiful, devoid of the ugly whip scar she had gotten on her face years ago. She walked up to him slowly, her hair and dress moving as if wind was blowing them lightly.

"Jimaine..." Kurt whispered. "Why are you here?" he asked.

"Don't you know?" she asked, crouching down in front of him. Slowly, Kurt shook his head, and she shook her head and sighed softly. "No, of course you don't."

"Why was I having those ugly dreams about you?" he asked. "Or is this a dream too?"

"No, this is not a dream." Jimaine assured him. "And those dreams you were having were telling you that I was dead, Kurt. Didn't you understand them? That was why I was bleeding so much."

"I'm sorry." Kurt whispered softly, shaking his head. "I should have fought them away harder." Jimaine shook her head a bit, resting a hand on his cheek.

"It doesn't matter anymore, Kurt. Everyone in our tribe is dead and gone." Jimaine said. "All of them are resting where they deserve to rest."

"All of them, except for me." Kurt said, looking down at the ground sadly. He looked up at Jimaine in confusion when she shook her head slowly. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"Think, Kurt." She said gently. "Think back to what happened last night with Pietro."

"Think back? He beat me because I made him trip while he was bowing to my master. Nothing new there really." He said.

"Didn't you notice anything strange this morning?" Jimaine asked. "Where are your wounds if he beat you?" Kurt blinked in surprise at this, looking away for a moment.

"I... I don't know where they are." He whispered.

"Think back to last night, Kurt." Jimaine urged gently. "Try to think back." Nodding slowly, Kurt closed his eyes and he concentrated on the events of last night.

He and Pietro were standing in front of the horse's stable, waiting for his master to finish inspecting the dog's pen. When he returned, he told Kurt that his work today was very good, and he even told Pietro that he could learn a thing or two from the Romani.

Pietro had scowled at this, but he still nodded and went to bow to his master.

Kurt swiftly wrapped his leg around Pietro's leg and he pulled on it, making him fall on his face at his master's feet. He then removed his tail and put on a picture of complete innocence as Pietro glared at him.

"Clean yourself up, Pietro." His master said as he turned to leave. "You're a mess!"

Kurt had laughed about this with the pigs when Pietro came back with a wooden cudgel later on, catching him by surprise and starting to beat him with it.

Pietro beat him badly, pounding on his body when he couldn't get at his head.

Then, Kurt's memory opened up, and he saw how it really ended for him.

A servant never came out to pull Pietro away.

Kurt wrapped his tail around Pietro's ankles and pulled, making him fall on his ass before he struggled onto his feet and tried to limp away from him. Pietro got to his feet and struck him in the small of his back with the club before he then smashed him upside the head once more.

Blood came out of Kurt's mouth and ears as he fell to the ground, but Pietro was still not satisfied with his work. Kicking Kurt in the side, he forced him to roll onto his back, and he started to beat him in the chest as hard as he could.

Kurt let out a bestial howl as he lashed out at his tormentor. He slapped away the cudgel and he slashed him across the face, but it didn't slow him down, it only made him angrier.

"Filthy animal!" he snarled. He punched Kurt in the face, stunning him and forcing him back down on the ground. He then pressed his foot onto his throat, cutting off his hair.

Kurt gurgled and gagged breathlessly, struggling and trying weakly to pull away Pietro's foot from his throat. It was useless however, as Pietro pressed down harder and harder on his throat.

Finally, Kurt let out a gurgling whimper before his hands fell limply away from Pietro's ankle.

Kurt's eyes slowly grew wide.

"I died last night." He whispered softly, looking up at Jimaine in disbelief. She nodded, looking at him with a sad smile. "" he asked. "Why am I still here?"

"People who are tortured to death don't die in pain, Kurt." Jimaine explained. "They are taken through another day, with nothing wrong with them. When a loved one of theirs who has all ready crossed over feels it is their turn, they come and explain everything to them."

"So, you are here to take me away?" Kurt asked. Jimaine nodded, smiling at him. "But what happened really?" he asked. Jimaine shrugged slightly.

"Pietro was forced to pay your master for killing you, and you were buried in a small patch of earth near the trees with no marker on it." She said.

"Is that all he got? A simple fine?" Kurt asked in surprise, raising his eyebrows slightly.

"What did you expect?" Jimaine asked. "But don't worry, mortals are often more lenient than the final twist of the Winding Way will be in dealing with them." She assured him. "Now, are you ready to go?" she asked, standing up slowly.

Kurt looked up at her, his tail swishing side to side slightly. He smiled faintly and he reached up and took her hand, squeezing it lightly as she helped him onto his feet.

"We've all been waiting for you, you know." Jimaine said. "We were really worried about you sometimes, Kurt."

"But you didn't need to." Kurt pointed out, following her to the front doors. "I was doing perfectly well before I tripped up Pietro like that!" Jimaine laughed, nodding a bit.

"I suppose so, but it was still a little sad, having everyone around except for you. It was almost empty without you there, Kurt."

"Well you don't have to worry about that anymore now do you?" he asked, ignoring the clothes that appeared on his body. They were his old ones, looking colorful and brand new once more. Jimaine turned around and looked at him, her back to the front doors.

"No, I suppose I don't do I?" she asked with a smile. With that, she led Kurt into the light and into the arms of his family.