Prophecy Ch. 02byeyecandyrayce©
Esma was lying awake on her pallet by the fire in the main room of the hut that had belonged to the prophet of the village since as far back as anyone could remember. She was exhausted yet she still woke before the sunrise as she had since she was a child. Her body still ached from the day before and she knew today would be just as difficult.
It had been three days since Helena had her vision and her visions continued still. Activity in the village was a flourish. Each morning they would all wake and meet in the great hall; a long tall structure built of wood and stone in the center of the village. A hole in the center of the roof released the smoke of the fire that constantly burned there into the sky. The Elders had prepared daily tasks that would be given out each morning just as the horizon turned light blue.
The work since that warning vision had been grueling. Wagons were being lashed together as quick as the builders could work. You could hear the hammers and saws working late into the night as they prepared to haul all the things they would need.
The plan was to get as much as they could into the wagons and carts and get a few days ahead of the massive army. They would lose most of their harvest but they planned to fill most of the carts with the younger plants pulled up with balls of dirt and roots. They were putting them in pots, buckets, bowls and even their clothing that was aside to be repaired from rips or wear.
Personal items were being limited to things that were necessary to live each day and things that could not be replaced or made again. And even those things were being limited. Most of the spinning wheels and other bulky items would be left behind but some were being taken. Personal items had to be carried on each person. A few final wagons were being made to carry the elderly and sick. If one could walk and keep pace they would be on foot or leading a cart pulled by beasts of burden. The children would walk with their families. If ones legs worked they did not get a spot in any wagon or horse.
They would travel east through the mountain pass and settle just on the other side. The pass would narrow the army if they decided to pursue and give them a chance to defend themselves. The harvest would be replanted and they would decide once they were settled if they would return or not. The next few years would be difficult but they were a strong people and Esma had no doubt they would survive. Of course, there would be loses and her people would never be the same.
Esma was so lost in thought she barely heard the light knock against the wall of the hut by the entry. She turned her head to see the fur that hung over it move aside and Lucas look in. Grabbing her blanket around herself she stood and bowed her head in respect, her eyes lowered to the floor.
"I am sorry to visit so early Esma but I noticed the fire. I came to speak with Helena. Has she woken?"
Esma looked up shyly and was surprised to see how embarrassed he looked. He was shifting from foot to foot as though he had done something wrong in coming there.
She shook her head, "No my King. She has not woken yet."
He glanced at the fur covered doorway to the only other room in the small structure and then back at the young woman, "Do you mind if I stay until she wakes? I do not want to wake her but something has been bothering me."
Esma nodded and moved to put her bedding away and bring forward the table and chairs that took up her bed space during the day. Lucas waited quietly, occasionally shifting from foot to foot. Once he was seated she began to heat water and prepare the morning meal. He watched her for a long time before speaking so suddenly it caused the girl to jump and nearly drop a pot of water into the fire rather then hook it to the frame over it.
"Helena has seemed haunted as of late. There is something she is not telling me and I have a feeling you know what it is."
Esma faltered in her movements and caused water to spill a little onto the fire. She cursed as a hiss rose up from the burning wood and put the pot onto the hook. Her hands were shaking as she stood and looked at their King. She was not a fool. She knew he loved her sister and that her sister returned that love. It saddened her to watch how they would gaze at each other when the other was not looking with that sad knowledge in their eyes that they were forbidden by the Spirits to ever come together as a man and woman should. The fate seemed less cruel to Esma but she had had no dreams of passion for any man. Helena had such dreams of Lucas since before her visions began.
"Yes my King. I know what it is that haunts her but it is not my place to tell of her of visions," she whispered, afraid he would be angry with her response. "It is only my place as her sister to hope that they do not come to pass."
Lucas sat up straighter and looked at her. Something was going to happen to Helena and he knew it wasn't good. Esme had confirmed it with her words.
Lucas stood suddenly and brought himself to his full height. Within two steps the girl looked like an animal watching the predator that would now end its life. He stopped just in front of her and looked down at her with all the frustration he had inside him.
"You will tell me what it is that threatens her," he growled down at her and her eyes widened more.
When Helena screamed from the other room they both jumped in surprise. Lucas turned and ran into the darkness of the room before the shocked girl could stop him. His eyes scanning for a threat but all he saw was Helena's black curls and her terrified face. She was such a beautiful woman with a shapely figure, flat stomach and mass of wavy hair to her hips that looked as though it would be silk to the touch. She lay on her back in her covers, her eyes open and wide as she threw her head back and screamed again. The scream was a mix of both pain and pleasure and he fought against the response of his body at seeing her thrashing about on her bed, her face flushed as though in the throws of ecstasy.
As his eyes took in the scene of her he paused. She was yanking her body on the bed as she thrashed but her hands stayed put in one exact spot on the bed as though her wrists were bound there. He watched as her arms stretched and strained against an invisible force that kept her wrists immobile.
Lucas stepped forward and was stopped by Esma as she quickly moved between him and the bed. She shook her head at him and put her finger to her lips to keep him quiet before turning her back on him. He watched, feeling helpless, as Esma climbed onto the bed with her sister and the moment she touched Helena's wrists rose from the bed and she tried to swing at her sister.
With gentle and practiced movements, Esma restrained her sister. She wraps her arms around her and started to whisper in her ear quietly. She soothed Helena from her vision until the room was quiet. Helena had ended staring at Lucas where he stood clenching his fists.
They had known each other their entire lives yet they barely knew each other at all. He had spent most his youth traveling the land. He would visit the villages his father did not have the means to visit in his health. He fought the battles that kept his people safe and negotiated with neighboring tribes. Each time he would return she would be waiting. He would see her watching from afar during the celebrations of his return. When he had been brought back after nearly losing his life to the blade that marked his face, she had been the one to sit by his side and wash the wound. He had scattered memories of waking through the fever to her soothing words and gentle hands.
Helena lightly patted her sisters' hand and Esma released her, allowing her to sit up and pull the blanket tightly to her chest. She examined Lucas a moment and then waved her hand at Esma to leave the room. Esma frowned but she obeyed, leaving the two of them alone together.
"How may I help you my King," she whispered, pulling the blanket up higher against her chest with trembling hands.
"Please stop calling me that Helena," he sighed. He walked over to the bed and sat down next to her. Helena watched him nervously but didn't try and move away from his hand as he reached over to brush the hair from her face. His voice was gentle, "Why will you not tell me what makes you wake screaming each day?"
His fingers ran down her jaw after tucking her hair behind her ear and she shivered, her eyes fluttering a moment from his touch. Her body already pulsed from sensations left from her visions. She hated that it left her in misery each day. She knew there were things a Prophet was still allowed to do and what happened to her in her visions would not rip the spirits from her life. But there was only one man she had ever hoped would touch her and his fingers now cupped the side of her face.
"There is nothing to tell Lucas," she stammered. His face was close enough to her that she could smell him. He smelled like wood and earth. It made it hard for her to think with him this close and her mind still foggy from the visions. There was a tightness in her chest and a tingle in her stomach that always came from his presence.
He shook his head and ran his finger over her lower hip, "You lie to me Helena."
She opened her mouth to argue but his lips pressed to hers and she lost all cognitive thought. The moan that escaped her excited him and the gentle brush of lips turned into a heated press of mouths. His arms wrapped around her and pulled her from under the blanket and into his lap. Her mouth opened to his and he ate at the muffled sounds she made. It took all of his self control to keep from pressing her back onto the bed and claiming her as his own.
"Tell me," he pulled back to whisper.
Helena's eyes were pained and she shook her head. When she pressed her palms against his chest he let her up but he let his hands linger on her arms until she had gone out of his reach. They fell back into his lap and he shifted to hide the bulge of his breeches.
She took a moment to put a thin blanket over her shoulders to cover herself before turning back to him. She was able to think more clearly out of his arms and the shock that he had kissed her had not set in yet. She was sure the emotions would come later but for now she couldn't afford to allow them forward.
"Why are you pressing this Lucas," she asked in a voice more sure of itself.
"Because you are hiding something. I can feel it with every part of me." He stood, now confident his excitement had calmed enough that he could stand before her without shame, "I can hear your screams every morning now. Do you think these walls keep us from knowing? Your screams have woken me since the morning you came to me with the warning."
Helena gave a quiet gasp and covered her mouth. She had known she cried out from her dreams but she did not know they were that loud. She turned a frown towards the door to her room. Esma had not told her that her screams were drawing attention. There were things that could be done to muffle the screams.
"Why won't you let me help you," he asked her, coming closer to her.
Helena took a step back until her back touched the wall. She knew if he touched her again she would give in to a temptation that would completely change her life. She could never be a woman to warm any mans bed for even a night. He didn't press the advantage but stopped just two final steps from her.
"Because you kissed me."
"I should not have done that," he admitted, "But you would not tell me before now so how is that your reason?"
"The dream I keep secret is mine. It is about me and I do not yet know if I will live or die from it." She pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders and looked him in the eyes, "Why did you kiss me?"
He had the grace to look ashamed, "I am sorry Helena. I know that you can never marry or lay with a man but I have dreamed of doing that since the first time I woke to you dressing my wounds. Your face had been so close."
Helena blushed and looked down at the floor, "I had hoped you did not remember that day."
Lucas grinned suddenly, "I only remember a brief moment of waking. What do I not remember?"
"You asked me to marry you," she admitted, grinning a little herself from the memory of his delusional proclamations of love. The words had been from his fever and she had never taken them to heart. He was the Kings son and she was a young smitten girl who had just begun her training as the Prophet. It would seem she was mistaken on his intentions. Was that why he had no wed?
Lucas's eyes went wide and then he laughed loudly enough that Esma could easily hear it, "Is that why you avoid me?"
Helena felt the sting from his laugh and decided it was best to be honest, "No. I avoid you because I have loved you for as long as I can remember. But I cannot have you. I can have no man or children." She moved to the fur that covered the door and pulled it aside, turning to look at him as she held it open, "Please Lucas. Go. I can no more share dreams about myself with you as I could share the dreams I have of you with any other." The moment she said it she regretted it.
Lucas lost his grin and he crossed his arms over his chest, no intention of leaving without an answer to his question the the number of his questions was growing, "What dreams do you have of me Helena?"
Helena was blushing so brightly she could face him no longer. She ducked through the blanket and hurried from the little hut. She did not look back as she waved her sister towards the other room. She hoped her sister would know to stall him as she hurried into the trees of the forest near her hut to hide, praying to the Spirits that he had not seen where she went.
By the time he was able to get around Esma he could not see her. He stood outside her hut bewildered, staring out at the still dark forest as the realization hit him of what she had said. She had dreams of him that embarrassed her so badly she fled his presence?
With this knowledge he turned and headed towards the great hall. Everyone would be gathering soon and she would have to return. He barely noticed the people he passed along the way; he was too busy cursing the Spirits for allowing them to love each other. And he had no doubt that it was love. No other woman he had ever touched had made him feel as he did for Helena. The elders pressed him to marry for alliance with the neighboring villages. The women flaunted and tossed themselves at him. Yet he could think of no other but the one woman he could never have.
Perhaps it was time to except that he would have to marry another. He knew he could never have Helena but something inside him would not let him give up hope that she could be his.
Reminding himself what a fool he was he shook off his frustration and turned his mind towards the tasks that had to be completed today. No one ever doubted Helena's visions. Even her own mentor relied on them more then his own. No Prophet before her had been as accurate. The village would leave behind their homes and memories on her words. He tried hard not to think on what it would mean that she is having visions of him that would make her blush as red as she had.
The dark shape that stayed blended into the black outlines of the trees watched as Lucas left the hut where the scream had came from. The man's eyes followed the large figure for a moment and then looked back at the line of trees across from him where the woman had fled. She was the Prophet he had been told to find. She was the one who would lead his Lord to victory over his enemies with her visions. It was foretold by the last Prophet that served his Lord. The woman had thought the vision prophesized her freedom from him and still held onto this false hope. Arnas suspected that his Lord would rape and kill her the moment the new Prophet was in his possession. The woman had cost him fortunes and many lives from her false prophecies. The Lord only kept her around in case this one had been false as well.
He was just starting to step back into the forest to go find her when he saw her coming back out, her eyes searching the clearing for the man that had left. Arnas paused, curious as he realized she had been hiding from the man. She hurried back to her hut once she was sure the man was gone and quiet voices could be heard, though Arnas could not make out the words.
He was sure she was the one he had been sent to find. She fit the description given to him and he recognized the herbs that hung around her windows and door to keep away evil spirits; though he noted that more hung there then he had seen at a Prophets door before. But if she was as powerful as Lauren's visions had suggested then the herbs confirmed it. She was marked as clearly as day which made his job all the easier.
He watched a moment more to see if she would come back out before he lost the cover of darkness. When she did not emerge he finally sank back into the forest to wait out the day. He was a patient man and he had his prey before him. It was now just a matter of waiting until his prey wandered from the safety of the others.
Arnas was an expert rider and used to traveling great distances very quickly. His horse was tied with food far enough from the village that no one would chance upon it. All he needed to do was get the woman to the army a few days hard ride from here. Once there, the sheer number of men would overwhelm any pursuit.
He found a good tree, thick with branches and took some of the thicker limbs as silently as he could. Using these to cover himself he settled down to get some rest. Perhaps if he returned with her quickly enough, his Lord would reward him by allowing him a round with the old Prophet before he disposed of her.
I hope the story is enjoyable so far. I'm greatly enjoying writing it.
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