Authors: Bre Faucheux
Copyright © 2013 Bre Faucheux
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Two Days Later
Among a neighboring Sioux tribe
Miles from the East Coast
The smell of smoke bewildered Madison’s senses. It drifted over her skin and through her lungs. Overwhelming her, and yet calming her at the same time. The scent was soothing, and the aura haunting. Madison’s eyes fluttered open to see a man moving his hands inches away from her stomach and drifting them across the length of her body. His motions rolled the smoke over her small form. His hands pulled something within away from her body. The smoke moved all around the room, yet never touched the man who continued wafting his hands inches above her. He chanted words unknown to her in a deep and sullen tone. Normally the chanting would have sent terror through her. She would have fought to stand and run. But every nerve in her body told her not to move, and that this wasn’t the same as before. These weren’t the same people she had seen charging the woods.
The realization of where she was finally struck her. This man, or someone, had retrieved her from the water. Someone rescued her out of the river.
She leaned her head upward to see more of what he was doing, but he motioned for her to lie back down. Madison did as he instructed and allowed him to continue. The dark figure above her didn’t appear threatening. Rather she thought that he might be helping her. She knew her limbs had healed from the river’s harsh impact and the rocks trapping her beneath its surface. This man seemed to be doing something else to heal her, something otherworldly.
Beneath her was some sort of fur. It was soft, but the tips of the individual strands prickled the skin beneath her hair. She recognized it as some sort of makings for padding or a bed. Skins wrapped her body for warmth. The air she took in was crisp and sharp. This man was doing some sort of spiritual ritual. It was something meant to help her. She knew his emotions as they streamed from his body. She wasn’t to be afraid.
He stopped to look into her eyes. She saw his dark olive skin and long black grey hair tied behind him. His chest was blue and yellow, and the skinned clothe he was wearing went clear down to his knees. He was unlike any man she had ever seen before. His face was almost sympathetic as he looked on her. She recognized the gentleness in them as she drifted away once more. His hands moved slowly over her forehead and glided down toward her eyes to close her lids. She was meant to rest now and not see exactly what he was doing. It wasn’t necessary to know yet who this man was. She only knew that she was safe for the time being. It was safe to rest.
Just before she allowed herself the privilege of going to sleep, she saw the roof above her. It came to a point. It was some sort of shelter. A nice transition from Jayden’s improvised version of a tent.
Madison slept soundly, although she was still aware of what was happening in her surroundings. She didn’t dream, but saw colors from behind the blackness of her eyelids. Flecks of color danced as she struggled to open her eyes. They felt heavy. She knew that whatever this man had done wasn’t with malicious intent. She only wished she knew why he chose to help her. Why would the hands of natives help if her they indeed foresaw what her people would do to them? Why would they see fit to help a complete stranger who presumably fell into their hands?
She was determined not to think the worst. The man’s eyes were so full of empathy and light that she couldn’t imagine herself as a captive in any way, but rather someone seeking refuge and finding it in the kindness of a stranger.
Slowly, she sat up to observe her surroundings. The only pain presiding was her stiffness from having slept in the same position for so long, which quickly subsided. There were two padded beds on either side of her. They were lined with furs and skins for blankets. Beautifully colorful quilts for warmth. The ground beneath was merely dirt. It was grounded in so deep that it was completely solid. The roof above her came to a point composed of branches and only a small sliver of light managed to peek through. The light showed a pale ivory tint to the thick skin lining the inside of the shelter. It was secured tightly into the ground as firm as any lodging she had seen herself. In fact, it looked sturdier than any shelter she ever beheld.
She strained to look behind her. There were a series of weapons in a tall pile between the two fur beds. They looked like a couple of handmade axes and a long bow with arrows arranged in a pile directly next to it. They were close enough for her to touch. She reached for one of the arrows. The ends were lined with strays of what appeared to be feathering, and the front was carved into a sharp point. The small pointed stone on the tip dug into her skin when she touched it, causing her to grimace slightly. Her skin quickly healed, but she remained impressed. Admiring the craftsmanship, she gently placed it back where it had been.
She slowly took the quilt and fur that enveloped her and lifted it to see herself. Her wounded body healed and what was left of her dress had been removed. She was wearing a thick cloth that went down to her ankles. It was a simple gown with no embellishments. It tied around her waist with long strings. The idea that she had been undressed didn’t even bother her. She was more worried about her healer noticing that she wasn’t wounded from her encounter with the rocky river. Her cut up feet and broken bones no longer existed. There was some sort of leafy substance of herbs coating her chest and her stomach. She didn’t even know what it was, but she dare not remove it. The scent it held was gentle and relaxing.
She rolled over onto her knees and decided to crawl over to the opening flap on the side of the shelter. She preferred not to stand and disturb whatever ointment or rub was on her chest. Moving slowly, she lifted the flap only to peer outside. She was still in a heavily wooded area, but it was cleared off in large extents. It was fairly quiet with only a few people moving about. The sun was still high, but the hours were dwindling down. The light outside was more dim than she thought it would be given the harshness of the light when it first touched her eyes.
The men were moving weapons and quilts into their separate pointed tents for shelter with a few children helping along. A few women gathered around a fire with stones circling it. They were clearing things away from the fire where something appeared to be cooking. It looked like a feast of meat roasting over the fire. Their clothing was beige with intricate patterns around the chest. Long strings of what must have been skin strayed from the fabric around the shoulders and arms of their garbs. They resembled the cloth she was dressed in, but theirs were much more detailed. And by the looks of it, a bit warmer as they were working outside in the cooler evening air.
She let the flap down and crawled back into her bedding between the beds opposing two on either side, hoping that whoever would be joining her that night was as kind as the man who treated her wounded body. She lay down again, longing for more rest.
Their attempt to help her, clothe her, and give her a warm place to stay showed at least that they were accommodating to strangers in need. She didn’t know what to expect when she first realized who her current caretakers were. They could have been as harsh as they were kind. And yet their treatment of her thus far suggested the latter. So she shut her eyes again and allowed herself to stay in a light sleep for the time being. When all else failed, she knew her best possible choice was to rest. It was clear that she was in no position to find out more about her surroundings now. So she trusted that she was in good care.
She was eager to know how the others she heard wondering outside would perceive her. She needed knowledge of their emotions, to read into their intent in the way Jayden had. Not having had the time to hone her new skills. She hoped in vain that she wouldn’t need to. If it were true, that these people were different, she wanted to know more about them. How did they come about this land? And what of the people who did this to her?
She allowed herself to drift to sleep again before she could dredge upon Jamison’s fate. The sound of gentle music drifted into the tent as she felt sleep taking control of her body. It was a flute. She heard something similar in England, but not of this sound. It was other-worldly, and peaceful. She hadn’t known peace in months. The irony of having found it in the very home of neighbors perhaps to those who hurt her loved ones was the last thought her mind retained before her body lingered into a deep sleep once more.
When Madison awoke, the night sky had fallen and everything was dark. Two others were on either side of her, sound asleep. One was a woman, with long dark hair nearly to her waist, her features small yet beautiful. It was a kind of beauty she had never witnessed. And the man on the other side was the man who had helped her. She could sense it. His features were refined and powerful. Even as he slept, he had the aura of a guiding light about him. He wasn’t to be feared, only respected. He had knowledge of the earth that she was not aware of, nor could she understand. Amongst his people he was someone special. She wanted to know everything about the man before her, but as he was sleeping, these were the only emotions or senses of being that she could perceive. The woman was also of powerful descent. They were mated and companions to one another. And from the air about her, she could see that it was a good match, one of mutual courtesy and understanding. She wondered if they could sense her curiosity about them. But they slept so soundly, she resigned to laying herself back down again.
She turned her head to find a jug beside her. It was also intricately carved, with weaves and intricate markings. Even with the room still within the darkness, she could see that it was vibrant in color. She took it in her hands and brought the liquid to her mouth. It wasn’t water. It was blood. And its scent was potent and rapturous. They knew what she was. They had brought her blood. And it was living blood. Someone had drained themselves and given it to her. Was it from the man beside her? She couldn’t smell a cut anywhere on him from where she lay. She imagined that she would be able to smell the blood from the moment she awoke. Yet even the blood in the vase shaped jar before her didn’t evoke the same reaction it would have the previous day. Divine as it smelled, it was merely the smell of a wondrous meal placed before her. She sipped it as she would sip wine. She remembered the flavor of hot wine from home. Jamison had brought it from a local merchant coming through their village and heated it for them. He said it was a special occasion to receive wine, as it held the blood of their savior. His words came back to her now, as this blood was more like wine now than anything else she had tasted. She relished the flavor, and it satisfied her to the end of jar’s contents. But she didn’t feel the thirst or extreme starvation. The pain inside her stomach that begged for release didn’t emerge. She remained feeling empowered with the exhilaration the blood gave her insides, but she didn’t feel like a victim to its demands. The thirst, the rage, the ravenous craving, was gone.
She set the jar beside her, wanting to thank her keepers for satisfying her needs. Yet they had acknowledged them without fearing her. She lay back down, not wanting to think further of it, not wanting to think further of anything. She felt the blood coursing through her veins and indulging in the taking of it. It relaxed her and captivated her all the same. Had she learned to control the thirst? Or was it the rub that remained upon her chest, seeping into her skin? Or the smoke the man had weaved above her body? The man was performing some kind of healing ritual. That much she knew from his emotions. His desire for her to heal from what afflicted her had been his only aspiration in the few moments she awoke to see him leaning over her small body.
‘He took it away. Everything remains but the thirst. He has taken it from within me.’
* * * * *
Light filtered through the small peak from the tent above Madison’s eyes. She opened them slowly and wasn’t frightened to see the same man beside her once more. He took his thumb and dragged it across the length of her forehead and down the bridge of her nose, bringing more of the same ointment on her throat and gently massaging it with the tips of his fingers. His wife was on her opposite side, watching intently. The man began to speak. Madison didn’t know his words, but she recognized their meaning in the concern he placed forth. He wanted to know something. The woman took Madison’s hand in both of hers and held it tightly. Madison felt an overwhelming peace come over her and she knew it was their influence. Their emotions were purposely telling her to remain calm.