Oh wow! It's really been a while but here is the new chapter. I am sorry that it took me over a year to update. But as I said before I was extremely busy (and still am) and I wasn't as interested in Spartacus as I used to be. But I hope this chapter will make up a little for the long wait. I can't promise you a quick update but I'll do what I can :)
Thank you for following and reviewing. It means a lot to me!
I knew it the moment I left him at the fire the other night. There was no going back to what we had before. And it killed me inside.
After our talk at this particular night Gannicus and I haven't shared any words. We avoided each other's company as much as we could without raising suspicion of what happened between us. But I could feel his burning looks on my skin every now and then: When I went to get some water from a nearby well or when I took care of the injured. I never answered his looks with one of mine though. I was too afraid of what I would see in his eyes. Whatever it was I am sure it would have crushed me.
The village was a mess. The women were busy organizing the remaining building to provide space and cooked meals for everyone, injured or not. I helped as much as I could but I could feel a tension building up between Fola, the "head" of the remaining women, and me. And the men, they were busy organizing our safe keeping. My guardian, Yoran, and Gannicus trained the men who were able to fight. They spent half of the day doing it, not very gently. They often lost their temper and for hours we heard them yell. The other half of the day the men spent fixing the main building, clearing away the burned piles of wood, that once were houses, and burying the dead. Even then they yelled at each other because they couldn't agree on how deep they should dig the holes. And in between this ever growing tension was I, the strange girl who has brought nothing but devastating destruction into their world. I did my share: I helped washing the clothes, cooking meals, tending to the injured. But it was never good enough. Fola always found something that was wrong and she let me know every single time. I was an outcast that never was and never will be truly a part of their community. It hurt like hell as you can imagine. My parents and I have always been really close and me and my friends have always been hanging out, almost 24/7. Hence I have never felt unwelcome or unwanted. This time it was different though. But I had no one to talk to so I kicked myself in the butt and told me to suck it up.
It was another day where I woke up panting. The memories of the battle had changed into nightmares that haunted me every night. I barely slept but if I wanted to stay and not being sent into the woods again I had to be strong and helpful. It was getting harder every day.
While half of the village was still asleep I helped preparing breakfast. Not everyone was against me but no one dared to step in Folas's way so no one talked to me either. In silence I scooped what looked like porridge into a bowl and grabbed an apple. With a spoon and a piece of cloth in my hand I made my way to Senra. Quietly I past the sleeping warriors and slipped into the small room behind the curtains.
"An angel is what my eyes see first in the morning." I jumped a little when I heard his raspy voice. Smiling I turned around and approached him.
"Good morning. Oh careful." I hurried to help him sit up. "If any of those stitches ripped open Fola will have my head." He chuckled but it soon faded into a cough. I grabbed the wooden cup that stood a little aside and helped him drink some water.
"Fola is not as cruel as she hopes to be." Senra smiled.
"You have no idea." My face showed my horror which made him laugh.
"Oh woman, you have not seen anything of this world yet to call her cruel."
"I hate to disagree with you." Without looking at him I started to feed him. At first Senra had yelled and refused to be treated like a little child but after a very loud fight with Fola he had given in and so it came that every morning one of the women fed him. Today was the first time that I had the honor to nurse him and I actually enjoyed it. Yes, that guy had tried to kill me but he was the only one whose eyes didn't show the same disgust and hatred like anyone else's.
"I wish my eyes could look more often upon you." Senra whispered after I put the bowl aside. It made me blush a little.
"You are an idiot Senra."
"That does not seem to be a nice word." He said so innocently that it made me chuckle. "Ahhh there it is." Suddenly I felt his hand pinching my chin between his thumb and index finger. He lifted my face and forced me to look into his green eyes. "An angel like you should smile more often."
Again I blushed but I held his gaze. But after a while I took his hand off my chin and sighed.
"These are not times to smile, Senra. Mayla, Calua and Lorsan are still missing and no one here cares to look for them."
"Isn't Gannicus leading the village now? This man should take the best warriors to bring them back." Senra looked at me in surprise. I took my small dagger out of my boot and started to slice the apple for him.
"That's exactly what I was saying." I handed him a slice and he munched it down.
"He seems to have laid eyes upon you, kleine Blume. Why not make him change his mind?" This time he didn't look at me. Did he really suggest what I thought he suggested?
"Because I'm not that kind of woman! I don't even look like a skank." I growled.
"A … skank?"
"Yes, a woman that sells her body. A prostitute."
"I never said you were such woman."
"No? Then why did you suggest I should 'make him change his mind'?"
"You … you haven't given yourself over to him yet?" Senra looked up hopefully. In utter disbelief I stared at him.
"Excuse me? Gannicus is not exactly the man I dream of at night and besides …" I looked down to my hands in my lap that placed with the dagger, "He is with Mayla. I can't … make him change his mind because his affections lie elsewhere." Silence fell over us. Indirectly I just had confessed my feelings towards that muscly Gladiator. It was so awkward to talk with Senra about this that the groaning from the injured was just a welcoming excuse to leave.
"Uhm I hope you get well soon Senra. You had me really scared." I stood with the bowl in hand. His hand around my ankle stopped me.
"Will you come back?" His voice was just a whisper but I could hear him slightly begging.
"I will. Same time tomorrow. Fola will be asleep then." I quietly left the room.
After I had brought back the bowl and spoon to the cooking area I went to take care of the horses. They had noticed that I had a knack for animals and so I was in charge of training and feeding the horses as well as the dogs. I was glad to be working with them. They didn't judge or complain or glare daggers at me. Those animals were the only ones who accepted me the way I was and they were really good listeners.
I brought them water and oat and watched them enjoying their breakfast as I leaned against the wooden barrier. That's when I felt a burning gaze on the side of my head again. But this time it was followed by a broad hand on my shoulder. I jerked around and looked into familiar dark-brown eyes. My heart was hammering in my chest and I couldn't think straight. Was it possible that we would be talking again? I really wanted to get to know him, heck, I wanted to be with him. But Mayla …
"We are ready." His deep voice sent chills down my spine. I blinked stupidly.
"Yes. Prepare five horses." Gannicus turned around and left for the main building. Ok, they were ready. Ready for what? I wanted to know so desperately but I couldn't just ask him. I was a mere woman in this world, an outcast in addition. But when he was to leave for battle … a small ball of fear twisted my stomach into knots. Still unsure why I felt this way towards him I realized that I couldn't lose him. I may be able to live seeing him with Mayla but not amongst the dead bodies the men had to bury. That would be too much.
Silent and with tears streaming down my face I prepared those five horses and brought them to the entrance of the main building. I bound their reigns around a post and entered to find Gannicus with three other men around the fire eating while Fola and a few other women packed some saddle bags. When she spotted me she glared at me and whispered something to the girl next to her which made her giggle. Sighing and shaking my head I approached the warriors.
"I really hate to interrupt but …"
"Let them eat their breakfast for the love of the gods." Fola screeched and grabbed my arm to pull me away.
"But I …"
"Let her speak, Fola." Gannicus stood and sent her away with a death glare. Then he turned to look at me, his face an unreadable mask.
"Are the horses ready?" I nodded. "Very well." He turned to the men. "Eat your last home cooked meal my friends. We are leaving to find your chief and princess in a few moments." My eyes widened and without thinking I grabbed his arm as he was about to walk away.
"You … you are going to look for them?" His eyes burned into mine but the longer he looked at me the more I had the impression they looked softer and without the hate I expected to see.
"The village needs its leader. These men are the best that I had trained over the last days." He turned to leave but I still held him back.
"Promise me you will come back." He scoffed.
"What are you implying, woman, you are coming with us."