Athos Ch. 03bytamKitten69©
Now with the reader's permission we will leave Agnan to his dreams and travel to a young couple at an Inn not far from Berry. As they checked in the innkeeper noticed the woman had an unusually pale completion with dark hair, she was slim but muscular and appeared to be of rank, her dress was a pale pink with gold thread on the edges odd few butterfly patterns, she was well-spoken with the grace of royalty yet she was not dressed as royalty nor of any high rank, the innkeeper assumed she was of a low ranking family who held no power in the court of France nor in any other country. Her companion as obviously her servant, his dark-skin was only slightly lighter than his long coal colored hair, he was very muscular (probably from working at the plantations thought the innkeeper) and wore a simple brown riding coat and trousers with a thin white shirt under his coat. His shirt had some rips and a few fresh blood stains probably from fighting off highwaymen along the road. He had no wounds on him however so the innkeeper assumed the blood belonged to the thugs.
As the innkeeper led them to their room, the woman placed her right hand across her stomach hunching over a little as she walked, the servant offered his arm for support but she refused not wanting to attract attention. When they arrived the servant ordered two fowls, some wine and a bowl of hot water to be sent to them. As soon as the innkeeper left and the servant had shut the door a loud thud was heard, the servant turned to see his mistress collapsed on the floor her hand covered in blood.
"Monique!" he cried as he rushed to help her to her feet
"I am fine Bernard do not crate such a fuss." She said in a faint voice
"Madame you're wounded let me help you."
Bernard led his mistress to the nearest bed in the room and sat her down
"You must at allow me to tend to your wound Madame."
He began to cut away the fabric around her wound with a small knife he kept in is ridding boot, although it would have been easier to remove the dress itself, society's etiquette did not always allow for the easy way to be taken.
"It is barely a flesh wound it will heal." Her voice began to get weaker and her skin cold from loss of life's essence
Bernard sighed at her stubbornness but carried on cutting through the layers of fabric until the wound was fully visible. The wound was deep but from the angle of the entry mark hardly any damage had been caused.
"Heal it may Madame but you will be long dead before then."
"Bernard you are the world's most disobedient servant..." she smiled graciously at him
"And also the world's most loving friend."
Monique had barely said the last syllable before she passed out from blood loss, Bernard knew he had to stop the bleeding and quickly took out a medium sized leather pouch from his coat pocket; inside was a small bottle of healing ointment and a long bandage. A knock was heard at the door and before he went to answer, Bernard placed his mistress in a sleeping pose and covered her wound with the bed sheets so no one would suspect. Opening the door he saw a young boy carrying a large tray on it was; two cooked fowls, wine, bowl of hot water, two plates, glasses and 2 pairs of knifes and forks. The tray was much too heavy for the boy, but he carried it to a table in the room, he then bowed low to Bernard and left clearly not taking any notice to the woman lying on the bed. Bernard quickly uncovered his mistress and began to clean her wound with a cloth and hot water; he also placed another cloth on one of the plates and covered it with the ointment. He cleaned it as best he could and the bleeding seemed to have stopped, Bernard put the ointment covered cloth over Monique's wound and placed the bandage around her to hold it in place.
Monique awoke early next morning, still very weak from last night's event she slowly sat up on the bed and scanned the room for Bernard. He was in his usual place; next to her on the floor using his riding coat for warmth. Monique never understood why he always slept on the floor, she had told him many times he could sleep in the spear bed or share hers if there wasn't any other but he always chose the floor, he wouldn't even use a chair to sleep on. Monique assumed it was a habit learnt from Bernard's old Master, she remembered that terrible place and her mind slowly wondered to the day she first met Bernard.
The weather had been warm and pleasant, her father decided to bring his family with him on a trip to the Caribbean. They'd met with a good looking gentleman (she had blocked out the memory of this man from her mind) on the ship and he invited them to stay with him at his sugar plantation. She soon regretted her parents' decision to accept his offer, the man turned out to be a tyrant, having slaves beaten for no reason -- one morning he had three brutally beaten just for not serving eggs with breakfast -- Monique was barely ten years of age and this unusual sight of the general torture of innocent humans greatly upset her, he soon discovered a river running through land and a small forest similar to one near her home in France. She spent many afternoons playing in the forest while her parents where out, only coming out for lunch. One day Monique was sitting by the river reading when she heard a noise, which sounded like leaves moving, and faint moans, she went to investigate. Monique had gone but a few yards when she found the cause of the strange noises, to her horror she saw a young slave boy, he had obviously just been beaten by one of the overseers. Monique was stunned and rushed to the boy's side, he was startled by her but was in too much pain to run, he just lay there and awaited what he thought would be another beating.
"Do not be afraid I won't hurt you, my name is Monique."
Monique had spoken in French, and the boy didn't understand her, she tried again this time in English. Monique's father traveled constantly and had insisted she learn to speak other languages, which she was secretly grateful for at the moment.
"Please do not beat me again!" the boy replied with fear in his voice
"I won't beat you, I'm here to help" with that she ripped off part of her dress, wet it in the river and started cleaning the blood from the boy's wounds.
"What is your name?"
'My Master calls me "clumsy" but the overseer calls me "lazy".'
"Those aren't names, your parents must have given you a name."
"My father was sold before I was born, and my mother died in child birth."
"That's awful." Monique's eyes began to fill with tears
A silence came over the child, the odd tear falling from Monique's cheek and landing on the grass. Finally the boy spoke
"What name would you give me?"
Monique thought for a while before answering
"I've always held a fondness for the name Bernard."
"Then I shall be called Bernard."
The two new friends spent the afternoon playing, Bernard felt like he was free for once in his life, and Monique was glad to find some happiness in this place of tears. A month past and it was time for Monique and her parents to return to France, Monique and Bernard had spent every day together, although they had little time to play she helped him with his work load when ever she could and comforted him after he'd been punished. Monique did not want to leave him here and the day before she was to leave she went to her father,
"Father must we leave here tomorrow?"
"Yes Monique, I have business to attend to back home."
"And I thought you didn't like it here."
"I don't but....." Monique turned her eyes to the floor
"What is it Monique?"
"There is a boy here...he is a slave boy....we are friends and I can not bare the thought of leaving him here to suffer."
"I see and what do you want me to do."
"Buy him from his Master; bring him into your house as a free servant."
Monique's father gave her a questioning look "Monique I doubt that I would be able to afford to buy your friend and even if I could it would be against the King's law."
"Please father I've never asked you for anything, he will be of no trouble and I can look after him I will even pay him wages from my own allowance."
Monique's father sighed he could find no logical reason to argue with his daughter.
"Very well I will speak with Monsieur and see if he will sell your friend."
Almost ten years had pasted since then, Monique's parents had died 4 years ago and with no siblings or other family members Bernard was all she had left -although she had freed him from her service- Bernard could now speak fluent French, was able to read and write and was a master sword's man. Bernard was a free man; he chose to stay with Monique for her protection (even though she could protect herself), last night they'd been ambushed by a gang of armed thugs Bernard had tried his best to save his Mistress but only succeeded in disarming himself, Monique had fought off the thugs but not before suffering a sword thrust to her stomach.
Monique slowly got off the bed and walked over to Bernard, the morning sun was just starting to shine through a gap in the curtains resting near Bernard. Monique smiled, the sun's light looked like a halo above his head (she would not have been surprised if it had been a halo) she gently knelt down and whispered in his ear.
"Bernard, forgive me for waking you but we must leave if we are to reach Berry by noon."
Bernard opened his eyes, seeing his Mistress stand over him with light beaming behind her he thought for a moment an angel had come to take him away.
"Mon...yes Madame I will gather our things."
"Bernard how many times must I say you do not need to call me Madame?"
"At least once more Madame as always."
Monique put on her cloak to cover her stained dress and went to find a stable boy to saddle their horses, it took only 15 minutes before they were on the road again and on the way to Berry where they would find the people they'd been sent to retrieve.