Chapter 9 Love Is Not To Be Judged
It is not a woman, but a man of about forty years old. Very handsome, in a long dark cloak. His eyes are full of love, as he kisses Aret on the lips. Dara’s son ran away with a guy!
“Are you wounded?” Ner kneels by me, his hands touching the arrow in my stomach. He must’ve walked out of the forest when I was spaced out in a vision. “We got ambushed by the robbers. I lost both of my men, but if you’re able to continue, we can still catch up with Aret!”
Am I able to continue? Surprisingly, yes. Will I? No.
As Ner studies my face intently, I say goodbye to the dream of breaking away from my father’s abusive power by entering Dara’s service.
A stream of blood flows out of the corner of my mouth conveniently and right in time. One of the horses runs out of the forest, into the field, and towards Ner. He calls for it to come. I close my eyes and do not open them again.
He sits by me for a while, pulling on the arrow in my stomach in desperation, and wiping his hands of my blood. His actions cause me a great deal of pain, but I’m determined to play dead for as long as needed for him to give up and go away. I’m not going to follow through with the hunt after what I’ve found out. Dara’s knight is shocked, angry, disappointed. After a while he gets up and leaves.
These robbers are going to get it, just let him come back to Dara and report the events. After Dara’s people are done with the bandits, they’ll continue the search for Aret. I need to prevent that at any cost.
I can see Ner on the generator getting on his horse. The wind becomes colder, and it is starting to rain. Big batlike wings suddenly spread over me. Immaul begins to glow bright-green, and this light flows from him onto me, enveloping completely.
The distant sound of Ner’s horse’s hoofs die down as I lie by the road with an arkchil over me.
“Are you healing me?” I ask something that seems to be obvious.
“ No. I’m activating your parasite. From this point on it will heal you without my help.”
“What about the horsie? Can you heal him?” I say, realizing how much I grew attached to this cute, sweet, courageous creature.
“No. But you can. You’ve already transferred your parasite into him. I’ll teach you to activate it in his system.”
My parasite? That does not sound very pleasant. Immaul’s light feels warm, but the pain intensifies to the point where I pass out.
I wake up to the light of dawn, wet, cold and bloody. The pain is almost gone, I’m not bleeding anymore, and the arrows from my leg and the stomach are gone. Immaul is also nowhere to be found. I get up and touch Sarji. He is not dead, but not alive either. He’s got four arrows in his body – one between his front legs, one in his neck and two in the belly. He sure took a beating for me.
I pat him on his furry side, unsure of what it means to “activate a parasite”. However my palms start feeling warm, and I feel that whatever “parasite” I infected Sarji yesterday with responds to my hand, going back and forth from me to the horse.
“Parasite is what your energy is called, Demi. It is a conscious being inside of your body. You live in symbiosis with it. But it is parasitic, using your body for its purposes unless you give it orders. Leot’s good idea of fusing two creatures in one body, old model, though.” I hear Immaul’s voice in my head.
“Who is old model?”
I would laugh, but one thought makes me freeze – I was out of it all night. Ner must’ve come back to Antein by now, told Dara everything, and they should soon be here for their revenge, and after Aret.
Oh my God. I must hurry if I want to warn him.
I rub the wound around the arrow in Sarji’s belly, my energy in him responds, and I pull out the arrow pretty quickly.
Two more arrows, and I feel like a horse whisperer and a healer, who was at it all his life! My newfound friend does not move, as if dead, but my parasite within his body monitors all data, and feeds it into my brain. His heart rate is normal, and his lungs of impressive capacity are working fine.
The only thing that is not fine is our timing. I cast a glance at the forest, fearing to see the knights riding out, or hearing them rushing through the woods in search of the pesky bandits.
I must hurry. The last arrow goes out, I hold my hand over the wound, that stops bleeding. The severed artery is fixed by my parasite inside of Sarji.
He opens his eyes, and I swear, smiles at me.
“Thanks for the bravest jump I’ve ever seen. It saved my life.” I say, lovingly patting his neck.
We ride for a couple more hours until I feel Aret close again. The trail of his energy goes off the road and into the forest on the left. The sun is high in the sky now, so the shade is going to be nice.
The trail leads me to a clearing that smells like recently disturbed wild garlic leaves.
Here it is. My vision. Amazing, most beautiful ever. They have ran pretty far, but not far enough for Dara’s relentless pursuit.
Aret and his friend are standing in the grasses, locked in a passionate embrace. They are kissing and caressing each other’s bodies. I do not want to disturb their peace, because there is no peace for them. At least for a while.
They are so involved with each other, the man is touching Aret’s hair, shoulders, and kissing him again, that they can’t see me until I’m almost in front of them.
“You must leave the province at once.” I say quietly.
I do not want to take my eyes off these gorgeous and sensual lovers, but we’re almost out of time.
They both turn to me, startled.
“Who are you?” Aret’s boyfriend asks me, his long black hair flowing in the wind. His name is Iris. What a melodic, enchanted name for a man, blesses to love other men.
“I was sent by Dara to hunt you down.”
“My father does not know where I am” Aret frowns and shakes his head.
“Your father will never stop searching for you. Besides, two men in love can never be safe in this country. Run north, across the mountains into Tirra. There you won’t have to hide your love. You will be able to get married and adopt children.”
There is a noise behind me, and I turn in horror, afraid to see Dara’s approaching men. There is no one yet, but that’s a short respite.
Iris whistles, and two horses appear on the other side of the meadow. They approach us, looking powerful and energetic.
“Godspeed” I say, choking back tears at the thought of parting with them, to return to my life, deprived of freedom these two men are about to experience if they make it to Tirra. And they will. I pray that they will.
Aret and Iris hold hands for yet another long, but impossibly short and painful second. They look into each other’s eyes and I feel their devotion, their loyalty to each other and a hard path of being different then others.
Then they thank me for my help, jump on their horses, and run for their lives.
I sit in the grass and cry inconsolably for a long time. The air is filled with the smell of flowers and wild garlic, and the birds chirp in the trees high above. Will I ever be free to chose and marry a man of my dreams, or will I be forced to marry a woman because the society is so rigid and relentless? The future is not clear, at least today.
Something comes up to me, and tussles the hair on my head. Exhausted and emotionally torn, I’m fearful to look up only to find Ner or any other of Dara’s men, wanting me to continue the hunt.
A long, hot, wet tongue licks my face. I see a hairy mouth with big teeth. I swear, it smiles!
“Sarji!” I embrace my friend’s head and he nudges me to get up.
“No, dude.” I say. “I think we need to spend the night here and see if Dara’s men show up with the dogs to track Aret. If they do, I’ll put up a show and lead them astray.