I Know He's a King Ch. 02byJane Shield©
I remembered how I had hated him, he was a pig, but now I regretted it. He wasn't a pig. He never was. I always blamed him of being a pig. The first time we met was when I was eight, he was ten. I had been bullied - I never used to have any friends, not now, not then - and was crying in the woods outside my village. Lex was hunting - I didn't know then, but I'm telling this now - with his father. Lex believed me to be a wild boar. He told me I sounded like a pig when I was crying. And I said: "The only one here, who is a pig, is you." His father slapped me lightly, and I thought I would never see him again, but the next day Alexander came back to the same spot.
"Why are you here?" I asked.
"I have nothing special to do... You're the only one who doesn't say your majesty all the time."
"There's nothing majestic about you," I answered. – I was wrong about that too.
"Would you like to play a game?"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I planned during the march. I was eager for revenge, revenge for taking away from me my freedom.
We halted at sundown. I wasn't the lone woman in the army. I guess there were a hundred other females. I think I had been sold to the so called "organised" prostitution. We set up a tent where most of the women immediately started a big fire outside and bringing big cauldrons from the wagons that had followed the marching army. They were starting to cook food for the whole army.
Suddenly I felt like a fool. Perhaps I wasn't supposed to start whoring... There must be other uses for the females than just to lay on their backs whenever some soldier wanted. Looking around more than I had during the march I realised that many of the women were of older age – I seemed to be the youngest one there. There weren't any pretty fine girls, only strong looking, and broad shouldered women.
"What are you standing there for, girl, looking as if you have just seen the day for the first time?" a husky woman said.
I jumped and looked down at the woman who was two heads shorter than me, but whom looked so much stronger. "I'm sorry?"
"Come on, give me a hand with the cabbage," she said and motioned me over to the big stack of green cabbages.
"So what's your name, pretty girl?"
"My name is Amram, and I'm not pretty."
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say, aye? My name is Beata, but most people call me Bea."
"How come you're here with the army? Shouldn't you be home with some husband of yours, trying to produce family members..."
"Ooh, you're a shy one."
"So tell me. Why are you here?"
"First I'm not married. Nobody wanted to marry me..."
"There must have been somebody..." she cooed.
"I have not much to offer, and they say I have too much wit for a girl."
"You come from a village?"
"The one we passed before noon."
"Peasant men will still be peasant men. Unfortunately some girls are destined to be born into the wrong families..."
For a moment we were quiet. I guess she still awaited my answer, so it blurted out of me:
"My father sold me..."
Bea looked at me suspiciously. Then she went back to her cabbage.
"He couldn't have... This isn't some kind of brothel."
"On the day my brother recruited the army, my father talked to an officer, obviously trying to sell me as a whore."
"No, impossible," Bea blurted. "Every woman or girl that comes with the army is free to choose what they want to do, but they have to accomplish something. If you look over to that tent over there," she pointed, "you can see those girls who have chosen to do what you thought would happen to you. Be thankful that you came into our troop, or perhaps this could have ended badly for you. I suspect you're a virgin..."
I once more blushed and unfortunately cut myself on my thumb. "Poor girl, watch what you're doing. We can't give one of the soldiers a cooked thumb, can we?"
Gently she stroked my hand and suddenly I didn't feel any pain any longer. The cut was gone. Bea smiled mysteriously at me. "What did you do?"
"I don't think your father sold you... Any girl who joins the army is free to fight, cook and clean, or whore. Pick your best. You get money for it too, just as the soldiers get their salary we have our own salary. Didn't you get the money when you recruited?" "No... I didn't recruit. But my father got money from the officer when he had talked to him."
"It seems to me that your father made a story of you being afraid so he could put the money in his own pocket. Is your father nice?"
"Do you really think that's what happened?" "Yes, dear Amram. Fathers can be really cruel."
"He is cruel. He made this big story out of it. He even fooled my mother."
"Now, you don't have to worry about it. I think everything is going to be alright..."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bea took care of me. I helped her in the cooking and she kept me company during the march. She even scared away those few soldiers who tried to look up under my skirt once.
"They never change... My husband used to be like that as well."
"Where is your husband?" I asked, but received no answer.
I saw more of those special scenes when Bea seemed to heal small cuts whenever she touched one. I dared not ask her about it, and I knew that she wouldn't give me an answer anyway. But I noticed even more strange things.
She seemed to know when something was going to happen.
"Don't worry about tomorrow," she said when there was only a day length's march left. "What we have to worry about will not come yet."
"What is the worry?"
"You'll see, you'll see..."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Amram, wake up," my mother said.
"No, just a little bit longer," I mumbled.
I was pulled up. Suddenly, from lying on the ground, I now stood straight up. My vision was blurry, like watching from under water. I saw a man on a horse, his golden hair flapping around his head. His helmet lay on the ground. He was fighting two velvet-haired Wilijies, striking them down, only to be met by four of them again. He shouted something I could not make out, and suddenly I was riding on a horse, strong arms holding me up. Through my blurry vision, I saw the same man I saw fighting holding me. But it wasn't him. This man hade velvet hair, just like the Wilijies fighting the other man. Just like the Wilijies fighting the blond man with the same face.
"Amram, wake up..."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"You were screaming," Bea said. "I guess you had a horrid dream."
I didn't answer. Bea didn't ask again. I think she already knew what I had dreamt.
"When I have a dream, that seems... true, I guess it will happen in the future. But you shall not worry... The dreams never end badly..." "But I saw him die!" I protested.
"Who, my love?"
"I don't know."
"The truth of the dreams will only be clear when it has happened. But know this, Ammi; true dreams can never foretell deaths! Those who say they know are very wrong."
"So nobody will die?" "I didn't say that. But no one is dying in your dream."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We approached the border of our country at sundown. In opposite to our generously green land, this part was harsh and windy. Nothing grew here, only the palm trees – and even those were scarce. The change from full green richness to eyrie windblown cliffs to dark brown lifeless dirt meant a change in the whole attitude of the army. The whole army had been a crowdy rowdy, happy bunch, but now...
The veterans went quiet. The younger soldiers seemed to swallow their tongues when they gulped down their fear. I went stiff. I could barely walk.
"It is better you let it out, instead of hiding it inside you," Bea said gently and stroked my hair.
So I walked on. Tears of fear, or desperation – feelings I could not make out – were dripping down my face. This place was to be the place where so many men and women would die.
I did not fear of my own death. That would come in time, and I could never be ready. But the thought of so many innocent people dying, people dying in pursuit of taking over another country, made my soul tremble.
We reached a big open plain. There we halted. It was quiet. You could hear the wind blowing through our camp. We weren't allowed to lit fires, so we ate cold food that night - how horrid, even though I was a peasant I had all my life eaten warm food, never cold food.
It was very cold, despite the warm days. The lack of plants I guess made the nights go to freezing degrees. I could not sit still, I was so cold. Without the usual campfires, you could barely keep your warmest places more than lukewarm in this cold.
So I started walking around. Bea – most uncommonly – nodded her approval, so not late after I found myself strolling around the area where I knew Lex had his main tent. Here the highest ranked officers slept.
It was totally dark, except for one place. There was a tent, showing a glimpse of light when the wind flapped the curtains. I sneaked closer. There was arguing voices.
"We cannot wait any longer, my king, we have to strike tomorrow, as soon as the sun rises!" said one of the voices.
"My dear Lazlo, it's not that easy..."
It was Lex! I could not believe I was hearing him right then, but it was him. It had to be. I tried to look inside the tent, but suddenly someone pulled me around.
"Sorry, sweet pie, but you're not allowed to hear that," the man said.
I looked up at the man pinning my arms together. I knew that face from the little light I had to see with. It was the officer my father had sold me too.
"Long time no see, pretty girl."