The following chapter is for the GUEST who left the following review:
". I think the old author would have done far better. You seem to be stuck and this story is going nowhere"
My dear Guest and reviewers,
Before I start this chapter I would like to say that things change, interests change, and my life is not to be dictated by people over the internet. Since most people want to know why I have not been uploading, the answers are as listed: Working on my own piece of literature takes up most of my spare time, my writing style has changed since my last update, and I am still learning how to write.
To be honest I picked up this story from The Lord's Fallen Angel because she needed someone to do it because life to brought her away from Fanfiction. At the time I was a naive young author who wanted to relieve another author who felt pressure from this online story.
The problem with fanfiction is the instant gratification that it offers its readers. Simply put most readers do not understand that writers do not always spend their time at the keyboard coming up with the next chapter or plot twist. I do not live with my face to the screen, I do not live for the next review, and I do not live for another follower.
I LIVE FOR ME!
It is great to receive feedback, but to belittle an author, or any person, for any reason, is not tolerated by myself and should not be tolerated by anyone.
So my dear Guest reviewer, my life is mine. The Lord's Fallen Angel perhaps could do a better job than I could. She is after all the one who created the concept of this work. But to arrack someone that you don't even know is rude. I wish you the best my dear Guest, and I hope you learn to have better manners for the next time you think you are qualified enough to point out flaws in other people and to make accusations when you do not know the circumstances of other people's situations.
Thank You. And be mindful.
Chapter 4: Safe Haven
Athens had been a sight to behold. The smells of baking bread in the large stone ovens only intoxicated the air making each passerby turn their head to find the source of the wondrous smell. During this time of day markets were flooded with people and merchants haggling for the best price. Every so often a buyer would rage at the low quality of one of the products, the offended merchant would defend his products arguing that he worked hard to make the sandals. The leather came from the best animals and the stitching was as close as his tools could get. The buyer spat on the ground in front of the merchants stall and walked away angry that he wasn't able to swindle the shoes for a lower price.
Hades himself could not bring down this city for there were far too many people who held a sense of pride and resiliency. The prosperity of Greece reflected on its citizens. Yes poverty still prevailed, but it was not as wide spread as it used to be.
The morning crowd served as the best cover for the runaways, hiding in plain sight and blending into the crowd. Sakura wore a head covering hiding her blossom hair from view, the green fabric on her head reeked of seawater and fish. Her sweating only made the smell worse. Nothing about the four looked healthy. Two weeks on a boat served them no benefit when food had to be rationed. Magic could only go so far, and as Taka put it, "If the gods were so powerful and merciful then they should have sent food by harpy if Apollo couldn't grace them with their presence."
It took most of the morning to get from the docks to this center of business. Tenten knew that where there was business there was information. Someone in this square should know where the Lady Tsunade resides, especially if Jiraiya owns a vast amount of land in Athens. Serving the gods opens opportunities to meet extraordinary people, and being a healer only made the head priestess more interesting to the visitors of the temple. The sick would be healed while they were under the watchful eye of Artemis and the skilled healer.
The younger priestesses were saddened upon the departure of their beloved master, but in the end it had been for the best. Just as the Lady Tsunade came upon the city of Athens people fell ill to disease. With her help and medical expertise most of the city survived the epidemic and people lived to see another day.
The group made it to the center of the square where a fountain resided, many filled their pails and buckets with the water to take with them to their homes. Sakura sat at the edge of the fountain eager to rest her feet and try to get rid of the lightheaded feeling she had. The heat, head scarf, and the walking did not help her condition. Habari sat next to her, the girl equally tired if not more so.
The young girl noticed Sakura's glazed eyes, she removed a cloth from the bag she carried and dipped it in the water. She brought the cool cloth to the woman's forehead hoping that the water would ease her head. The chatter of the crowd probably didn't help, but the girl wanted to do something that would benefit her liberator. Habari placed the bag at Sakura's feet and helped herself to some water.
Taka shouldered his bag as well and put it next to Habari's. He hated the way he smelled of seawater, and he could hardly stand the smell of Sakura. Two weeks of rations have left all of them hungry, he noticed that through most of the voyage Habari slept along with Sakura, the girl would wake up hungry, and the woman would wake up only to stumble out of the makeshift shelter on the boat to lose her portion of the rations to the sea. He did notice that Sakura's body was getting weaker.
There were times during their voyage that she would refuse food, she would only come to the deck to get fresh air at night when the night air would offer a bit of relief to her warm body. The sun on the sea was brutal, though the winds dampened its heat, the golden chariot blazed.
During the voyage he thought about what he could do with his life now after betraying the Prince of the Southern Provence. Two weeks of pure thought can do a lot to a person. This roman did not want to be tricked again, if anything he had learned his lesson. Though wine may taste wonderful to the tongue its effects on the mind outweighed the pleasure. Taka had watched the huntress during the voyage, often she would talk with her old friends. When he asked how old they were they said they are the same age as they were fifty years ago. Taka gasped at the thought of not aging, the two men laughed at him and told him they were blessed by the god Poseidon to fish the sea for one hundred years.
He found that they could only go to land between dusk and dawn, the moment that they were not at sea during the day was the moment they would lose their gift and they would quickly age and their youth would vanish.
The rough winds of the Mediterranean delayed them a couple of days, and when the fishermen realized that they would lose the bet they gave the huntress another silver coin and the huntress kept her hydra tears. When they came to shore at twilight the fisher left them at the dock, tied their boat, and went into the city to gather more supplies. Gai and Lee hugged their friend and left as quickly as possible.
Now that they were in the city all they wanted was something to eat, problem being: he was the only one with actual money. If he were selfish he would buy himself some bread, fresh grapes, and a hotel room for the night. Seeing that he was traveling with three other people it would be unfair if he were to go on his way and leave them. Besides Diana brought him to these women, may be not Habari, but the huntress and the young woman had something to do with his miraculous recovery, he was grateful to Diana. The huntress served his goddess and so he must serve her until he is relieved of his duties.
He looked over to the huntress and back to the other two, he sighed and glanced into his pouch of money. It would be enough for two loaves of bread and he would still have money left over. The entirety of the pouch held the money he had to his disgraced name. If he spent it all in one sitting all of them would be on the streets begging for money. That would not do. He hoped whoever they were visiting that they would also give them money to survive in this city and the wild goose chase that they are facing.
"I'm going to go find us something to eat."
The huntress's eyes snapped to the roman putting her arm up before he left, "Where do you think you're going?"
The roman rolled his eyes and breathed heavily out of his mouth, "I going to get us something to eat, if it makes you feel better I will be over at that bread shop over there. You see me walk in, you see me walk out with food. Simple as that."
Tenten pulled back her hand, her stomach already yearning for fresh food. The two sitting at the fountain also stared at the roman, one with intense longing the other of slight disinterest.
The huntress spoke, "Go."
With that Taka left the women and melted into the crowd disappearing into the mass of people. The huntress sat next to the girls on the fountain, she dropped her bag next to the others. She turned and helped herself to a hardy amount of water, the refreshingly cool water slid down her throat. She looked up to see Sakura leaning on Habari, not good.
Tenten left her spot at the fountain and kneeled in front of the young woman, "Sakura, are you alright?" She brought her hands to the woman's face and Sakura opened her tired eyes, they were distant, so distant. After a long pause Sakura nodded and closed her eyes again.
The huntress gave the woman a slight shake, "Sakura I need you to wake up and look at me." She opened her eyes again, Tenten only saw that Sakura's eyes were slightly sunken and her skin was dry and burning. "When was the last time you drank water?"
"Boat. Six days."
Oh gods. Tenten made a cup out of her hands and brought water from the fountain to Sakura's lips, "Habari keep Sakura upright." The young girl moved quickly to support the young woman. Tenten spoke, "Sakura I need you to drink slowly okay, if you feel sick just let it out, okay?"
Sakura nodded and sipped the water out of the huntress's hands, her hands shook as she grabbed Tenten's writs. Her grasp was weak and she savored the water only to suddenly stop and convulse causing water to race back up her throat and splatter on the stone ground. This brought the attention of many people. Some kept their distance and stared, people getting water quickly stopped and dumped their pail back into the fountain, and only a few people approached the newcomers.
"Is everything alright over here?" a man asked. Sakura's head fell as she shook. Habari struggled to keep her body upright. The man called out, "We need some help! Someone call for help!"
The man took off the outer layer of his toga and balled it up, "Bring her down, let her sit on the ground and lean her head on the fountain." Tenten and Habari gently lifted Sakura off of the fountain and placed her on the ground. The man put his balled up toga behind Sakura's neck and took the cloth that Habari had and wet it again. The man pulled the woman's skirt above her knees and placed the cloth on her legs, he looked up for another cloth. A woman answered his gaze by tearing strips from her skirt and soaking them in the fountain water.
The two worked hand in hand trying to cool the woman's burning body. Tenten only watched her thoughts were stuck in the past. She could have done something she should have paid more attention to her, if only. The man left the damp fabric on her and directed Habari to change them and rewet them. He then stood, "Someone get a cart. She needs a healer."
Two boys sprinted out of the square answering his order, other people still watched the ordeal. The man returned to his patient's level on the ground, he then looked up at Tenten and flipped a coin at her, "Get a real cup."
Tenten left her charge and she ran to the nearest stalls selling small pottery items. She saw something that might work, "Sir I need that." The merchant nodded, brought it down and placed it on the front counter. Tenten promptly slammed the coin down and grabbed the cup and sprinted back to her charge not bothering to see if it were the right price or not. The call of, "Thief!" only told her that she had under-paid him. Not good but Sakura needed it more than the merchant needing his money.
Upon returning, Sakura was being hoisted onto the cart, the boys stood off to the side keeping a donkey still. Her upper body was elevated on the man's toga as it was tied to the sides of the cart. She came up to them quickly.
"I brought, I brought the cup."
The man took the cup out of her hands and filled it with water. "Load in their bags. I am riding with her. You and your companion need to walk."
"Where are you going?"
"There is a woman who is very skilled in the art of medicine. I am taking your friend to her, she will most likely be able to help her live through this."
Just at that time Taka found them, he was out of breath and the bread he held was smashed against his chest. He looked at the huntress then at Sakura. He realized too late what had occurred, "I should have known. Damn it, I'm better than that!" He said under his breath.
One of the boy's took the head of the cart and guided the donkey through the crowd, they spilt and made a passage for them, the three companions followed close behind. Just before leaving the square Taka filled his water skin in the fountain, he caught up with them just as the exited the square.
The man spoke soothingly to Sakura, his tone encouraging. He kept her from falling asleep, sometimes he brought the cup of water to her mouth telling her to just to take a small sip to wet her mouth telling her not to swallow until the water grew warm and she felt like her mouth was wet. She would nod at times and shake her head at others. He asked her questions of no importance. So long as she stayed awake until they reached their destination.
Taka tore off small pieces of bread and handed them to the huntress and the young girl, they kept a distance between them and the cart as they ate. The watched the man, Tenten with more intensity than the others. As they ate their bodies were feeling livelier, the opposite could be said for their minds. Any more stress might just make one of them break, bets on Habari.
The trek out of the city was long, the trek to their destination even longer. Relief filled them when they saw a large house in the distance. The man never took his eyes off of the woman, he continued to give her small sips of water. She has yet to throw up again so that was good progress for her. The Sun was rising higher in the sky and he could tell that the woman's body would be growing even warmer now. All of the cooling treatment at the fountain was wearing away, they have to get to the house soon or she would relapse.
The man asked the boy if he could get the animal go fast enough to get there quickly without disturbing the woman. The boy nodded and urged the donkey to go at a slightly faster pace.
Within the hour the group made it to the large house, its gardens were large and expressive. The group could see the small bodies of growing oranges on the smaller trees, the blossoms long gone along with its sweet aroma. The time of summer was a time of development and growth, long gone are the days of spring's beauty and splendor.
Upon their arrival a servant met them in the courtyard, "Master Nawaki, we were not expecting your return until later."
"There was an accident, this woman needs my sister's help. Udon, help me bring her down and into the front room."
The servant nodded and helped Nawaki take the woman off of the cart, the man supported her right shoulder and Udon weakly supported the other. Sakura's head swayed from side to side as the two carried her into the house. Tenten followed close behind, Taka and Habari kept their distance and stayed outside.
The four people crowded into the front room, surprisingly there looked to be an examination bed of sorts made of a light brown wood and a thin cushion. Nawaki and Udon placed her gently on the table and positioned her on her side.
"Go get my sister."
The servant left quickly without giving acknowledgment to his master's order. Nawaki turned to Tenten, "There is a well in the courtyard, fetch some water."
Before she left she asked, "Your sister who is she?"
The man gave a small smile, "The Lady Tsunade, Savior of Athens."
The three wanderers waited in another room waiting for the famed medic to come to give them news. They had learned from Nawaki that Tsunade's husband, the Lord Jiraiya, was away on a democratic call. Since he held a great amount of land to his name he bought his seat and a voice in the city of Athens. Though he may be slightly an unorthodox person with his interactions with women and his raunchy writings, he had a strong ethical voice in the presence of men who would make the laws and standards of the city.
Tenten found that Tsunade was originally from Athens and she had heard a calling from Artemis after she lost her sweet heart Dan. The goddess offered her solace gave her a new goal and meaning to her life. One that would be less likely to hurt her broken heart even more and maybe some time to recover from her loss and piece back her heart as time went on.
Upon the discovery that the woman on the bed was Sakura, Tsunade had immediately went hard at work to bring back her former apprentice. Tsunade thought that the rosette should have known better than to become so dehydrated to the point of illness. She had stayed in that room for hours. After she was sure that Sakura had gotten enough water and nutrients she let the young woman fall asleep letting her body take in the water and rebuild its strength.
When she was sure that Sakura was okay enough to be left alone she left the room closing the door silently behind her. When she turned she came face to face with the three travelers, her eyes narrowed and she bit her lip in frustration. Clearly by their warn looks and outward appearance the trio looked like opposites of each other. There was a story to be told, and it would be a good one.
Being a former priestess of Artemis she eyed the huntress first, everything about her screamed that she was a servant of Artemis. Tsunade crossed her arms, "Now why is a former apprentice of mine under this roof sick and pregnant?"
Tenten's eyes widened slightly and her voice trailed, "How?"
"There are two heart beats in her pulse that's how." Tsunade stood in front of the huntress, "I know who you are huntress, what task has the goddess charged you?"
"I was to protect her from the wrath of Hera and the advances of the Prince Sasuke. Sakura had broken the vow of virginity but the goddess had mercy on her and I guess for the child."
"Artimis is gracious. More so than some of the most acclaimed gods and goddesses. My question is why you have come here. Surely this is not your final destination." Tsunade waited for the huntress to answer.
"The goddess told me to come here."
"And Sakura told me that she is to go to Egypt. The father is waiting for her there."
"She never told me anything about going to Egypt, or about this man she slept with."
"In her state Sakura does not know either, but during my hours of treating her she was convinced that she is to go Egypt and that Gaara is waiting for her." Tsunade finally sat down, she lost her attack in her voice, "When the mind is in survival mode it has a tendency to remember things vividly. If her mind is telling her Egypt then it would be your job to listen as at times the gods sometimes speak to us while we ourselves are not aware that they are."
Habari and Taka looked at each other, neither of them understood what the woman said. To Taka the thought of Egypt brought back memories he would rather forget, to Habari Egypt was a place that needed to be explored somewhere that she had to discover. The young girl hardly knew of Sakura's pregnancy the same could be said with Taka.
Tsunade spoke again, "You knew about her condition."
Tenten's voice did not falter, "I had a suspicion."
"Does she know?"
"I don't think she is fully aware that she is with child. I don't think she has been all that aware of what is going on around her."
"I am highly disappointed in the lack of care you have given your charge. I see that you do look after her in the case of protection, but not in the case of heath. What would our goddess think?"
Tenten kept her tongue and her silence.
"From what I gather you did not once think to tell her your suspicion. Think of her shock when she finds that people around her knew before she did, it is a shame." Tsunade did not like the carelessness that the huntress. To go for such a long time without knowing that she was pregnant meant that the mother would be carless, the child would be starving and would feed off of whatever the mother's body could give. The mother would become weaker and that weakness would cause her mind to become unfocused. It would be a cycle of unawareness that could possibly cause the death of both mother and child.
Tenten had nothing to say in her defense. She knew since her meeting with Eris, why else would the goddess of discord find it amusing to cause trouble. To think about it, it would have been in Eris's favor to go directly to the prince, it would cause him to rage, it would cause him…to work harder. He knew, and the huntress knew that if the prince knew that his wife was with child with another man he would do anything in his power to kill the child and get rid of any evidence that she had been with said man.
His motivation has increased, the sooner he gets to her the sooner he could force a miscarriage.
"It is quite fortunate that you brought her to me, had she been on her own for another day she would not be breathing. You and your friends are welcome to stay in my home. My husband won't be back until later tonight. I will have Udon direct you to the guest rooms and give you food. When Sakura is better you will leave for Egypt immediately, I will talk with my husband to see if we can help a friend in need of transportation. In the meantime I will be with Sakura. Good night."
With that the woman left the room and went about her business a patient needs to be healed and medicine and nutrient specific food needed to be made. It would be a long night for the healer, but she did not mind. It would be like old times when she would take care of the young Sakura at the temple who fell ill to a common sickness. This child was like a daughter, and a daughter should be looked after no matter how old.
Many months of guilt and many reviews asking for continuation even after all of this time have influenced this update. I am sorry for the wait.