Sorry this one is late, but I’ve been really really busy. 😦
“Come on,” Andrew urged his horse by lightly touching it’s side with his spur. His horse, used to the rolling plains and running brooks of Claydad was suffering terribly from the lack of water. In fact, everybody was. The scorching sun that day had dried up all the waterholes they had come upon.
Suddenly, the long awaited cry rang out. “Water! Water! We have found water!”
“Did you here that boy?” Andrew whispered into his horse’s ear through parched lips. “Water!” He said excitedly as blood broke out from his cracked lips and flowed down his chin. He wiped it away impatiently and, as if on impulse, his horse sped up.
“You understood didn’t you boy?” Andrew shouted, sitting up straight so as to feel the glorious feeling of the wind on his cheeks. “Water!”
Soon they arrived at the bank of an enormous lake. Andrew abandoned all dignity and tumbled off his horse and into the water, letting it cool his face. He gulped the fresh spring water eagerly.
Then, forgetting he was a King, Andrew leaped into the water. He splashed his horse who leaped back in shock and looked at him out of questioning brown eyes.
Laughing, Andrew walked out of the lake a little shamefacedly at his excitement over the water. But looking along the bank of the lake, he saw there was no need for his shame, as everybody else was soaking each other with the cool, refreshing, lake water. Finally, Andrew turned and filed his leather bottle. The others did so and soon they were ready to continue.
Word came to Andrew that a messenger had arrived with a message for him from his wife. Fearing the worse, Andrew hurried to the messenger and demanded the message he brought. “What is it?” Andrew asked. “Is my wife well?”
“Well?” The messenger asked curiously. “Of course she’s well. But what I came to tell you is.” The messenger said pausing so as to excite Andrew’s curiosity.
“Well, what is it?” Andrew demanded.
“Your wife has had child!” The messenger announced loudly and proudly. “Twins! A boy and a girl. She named the boy Andrew after you and the girl Arie after her mother. Isn’t this wonderful?”
“Yes!” Andrew shouted punching the air. For the second time, Andrew forgot the fact that he was a King and fairly danced around the messenger.
When he finally stopped, he panted. “Tell my wife that’s wonderful. That she chose excellent names. Tell her also that I’m doing fine and I’m almost there. I just have to go – ”
“Thank you.” Andrew called after the departing messenger, who, not having enough memory space, had leaped on his horse and rode away into the distance.
The party was ordered into formation and they continued their march. They marched for a few hours then suddenly the whole column came to a halt. Andrew, who was in the lead, was the one who had called the halt.
He had seen bushes at the side of the road move, and fearing the worst, had called a halt. Then, without warning, three lines of Charnians leaped out from the dense and closely packed undergrowth.
Without giving Andrew time to wonder what Charnians were doing in Medisian territory, more leaped out from the rear and sides so that the entire army was surrounded.
Each Charnian was grinning wickedly. Chains swung from their bare, bony arms and their skin was shriveled like that of a prune. Their hair was matted and pure white giving them the impression of old men. Their eyes were sunken in and their teeth yellow and cracked. They were bare footed and through holes in their baggy clothing, mail could be seen. Each one was four feet tall and young and old differed none.
“An ambush!” Kolan cried in dismay. There were at least two times as many Charnians as the men in Andrew’s party, and these little men were way more skilled in arms than the bandits that they had encountered.
One of them, apparently the leader, uttered one single word filled with hatred. “Die!”
Jamima peered out of the window pushing aside the velvet drape a little for that purpose. She sighed deeply. It had been a month since Andrew had left, and there was still no word of him. The messenger had come back weeks ago with Andrew’s message, but that was so long ago.
Letting the curtain fall back into place, Jamima turned away. She brushed away the unexpected tears that welled up in her eyes. She had been praying hard, no doubt about that, but sometimes, God seemed so far away. Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door. “Come in.” Jamima said softly.
“Pardon me if I interrupted your thoughts milady.” Sahreel, Jamima’s handmaiden apologized. “It’s just that you haven’t been eating well ever since Master Andrew left. I know you said you miss him but that isn’t reason enough to neglect your health. At least I think so. So anyhow, I prepared a little dish for you. The apples are ripe and juicy so I took three of the best ones for you. I cut them up into bite-size pieces. Please do eat something.”
Jamima smiled shamefacedly. Her handmaiden was right. It was not reason enough to neglect her health just because she missed Andrew.
“I guess you’re right.” Jamima said. “I’ll have something to eat. But my experience with you tells me that is not the only thing on your mind.”
“I just wanted to add that I put Andrew to sleep but Arie wouldn’t go to bed. I think she is hungry. Sorry about it milady but I think you will have to feed her.” Sahreel replied as she brought the apples in. “There.” She said placing them on a table. “You can eat them whenever you like, just so long as you eat them.”
“I think I’ll feed Arie first. Then I will eat my apples.” Sahreel was about to protest but Jamima silenced her with a look that clearly said. ‘No exceptions!’ Jamima got up and went to feed Arie. Once Arie fell asleep, Jamima went back into her room.
However, she didn’t eat her apples as she had told Sahreel she would. For, just as she settled down, a guard from the castle wall came rushing into her room through the open door.
“I beg your pardon milady.” He panted looking up earnestly at Jamima from a bow. Jamima nodded and he continued. “But Lady Jamima, three men have returned from the expedition and are at the gate!” Jamima, hearing this got up and walked to the window where she could clearly see three men talking earnestly to the guard.
“I’ll go.” Jamima said decidedly as she rushed down flight after flight of stairs, her long dress trailing behind her. At the gate, she found much to her surprise that Andrew was not there, for he had told her personally before he left that he would return if the trip was successful. Only Tarksee, Kolan and a soldier stood there.
“Where’s Andrew and Peter?” Jamima demanded. “What has happened to them? Are they okay? Did you reach Samaaria? Is the news good or bad?”
Tarksee could only shake his head sadly. It would be hard to break the news to this distraught woman. “We were ambushed by Charnians. Peter was strangled by one.
“I hope you will be proud of your husband Jamima, for he died a man of honor. If not for him, I would not stand here. A Charnian had broken my sword in half and wrenched my longbow away from me.”
Tarksee paused to see how Jamima was taking it. Her eyes welled up with tears and she was very white.
“I had no time to draw my whip, but Andrew helped me kill the Charnian from behind.
“One of them then struck Andrew’s back with his chain using the full force of his arm. The metal tore Andrew’s back open and after another successive blow, Andrew fell to the ground dead.
“I’m very sorry Lady Jamima, but that’s how matters turned out.”
Jamima sank to her knees and just wept. How she regretted the day she had let Andrew go.
******End of Chapter 4******
Hope you enjoyed! 🙂
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne