Time on My Hands Chapter 24 - 239-240 CE: Moving Right Along

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Time on My Hands
Chapter 24: 239-240 CE: Moving Right Along

“Feasa, its over,” Fiach called out as she hurried to her hysterical companion. “We’re safe. Try to calm down so I can help you out from beneath your dead attacker.”

Trembling and gasping for breath Feasa managed to stop screaming as she looked at the shadowy shape kneeling by her. The shape sounded like Fiach and seemed similar in size.

“You’re safe,” Fiach soothed. “I’ll shift his body so you can squirm out from beneath him.”

As Fiach shifted the body Feasa felt the weight pinning her lessen. The need to distance herself from the dead man forced her into action. Without too much effort she slithered from beneath the body. Stumbling to her feet in the dim light of night, she was horrified to see Fiach release the body she’d rolled off of her. Glancing to where Fiach had been lying she saw the still body of another man. ‘Greater Jupiter,’ she shivered with wonder. ‘Were there more?’

“I killed five, wounded and captured one,” Fiach replied reaching into her kit to pull out a flint and steel. A lamp was quickly lit and then a torch.

In the flickering light Feasa almost incomprehensively looked about at the still warm bodies, the look of shock clearly frozen on the face of the head that had rolled near their camp from the headless body ten feet away. “You... you killed them... that quickly? How did you even know they were here?”

“I’m a hunter and warrior as well as an Ianuarian,” Fiach stated. “As a hunter I’ve learned to be hyper alert even when sleeping. As a warrior I’m deadly. I took these thieves out in a bit over a minute.”

Feasa shivered as she looked at Fiach. The young compassionate woman she’d come to know was not present. A deadly efficient killer stood before her. Now she understood why she was called a demon. Then as she watched she saw the killer fade and the compassionate woman reassert herself.

“Please get a fire going,” Fiach asked. “I need the light to treat the one I wounded.” With that she moved off to retrieve the wounded thief. With a bit of effort she helped the teen to his feet, then slipped beneath an arm to assist him limp to the stone rimmed fire circle.

Feasa lit the campfire then huddled close to its warmth and light. She watched as Fiach administered the teen a pain killing sedating potion.

“You’re not one of these thieves,” Fiach declared. “Why were you with them?”

“My uncle is the one you beheaded,” the still frightened teen answered. “After my mother died five years ago he took me in. Up until tonight I stayed in their camp while they went out. Tonight he said I was old enough to join in. When I saw you slice his head off I ran.”

“That was a smart thing to do,” Fiach said. “It saved your life. “I take it they’ve been doing this for a while and the authorities are looking for them?”

“Yes, there’s a reward out for them,” the teen whimpered. “You should have killed me too. They’ll crucify me.”

“Not if we tell them you’re part of our party,” Fiach said. “We can tell them you’re Feasa’s son and were wounded in the fight. What’s your name and how old are you?”

“Gref, my name is Gref,” the teary teen gasped. “I’m fourteen. Why would you do that? Why would you try to save me?”

“Because I believe your story,” Fiach said. “I could tell the others were evil. I also sensed your fear. It’s why I didn’t kill you. You’re innocent. Beside, you have no family. Neither does Feasa. A mother needs a live child.”

Feasa drew in a sharp breath. She had been listening and felt her heart go out to the terrified teen. When she heard Fiach’s plan that he be her son she felt giddy. Having Fiach around the last two months had awakened her long frustrated and repressed motherhood. Knowing Fiach would be moving on in a few days almost broke her heart. Now Fiach was giving her a long desired chance to be a mother!

“Feasa, set up a bed for your son, Gref, by the fire,” Fiach ordered. “When I’m done repairing his wound, then well put him to bed.”

The meds were really hitting the openly crying teen. “You’ll really help me?”

“Feasa, tell your son you love him,” Fiach said.

Feasa came over to the teen, knelt by him, held his face in her hands, and kissed his forehead. “My son... Gref... I love you!”

Gref lost it breaking down in tears as did Feasa. The pair hugged until the drugged teen fell asleep.

Once the teen nodded off the Ianuarian cleansed the nasty wound on the back of his thigh as Feasa rested his head on her lap tenderly stroking his hair. It unnerved yet amazed Feasa to watch the muscle being sewn back together, then another herbal wound cleansing, then sewing the flesh closed and finally the application of a poultice before bandaging the wound site. The teen never flinched nor moved from his mothers tender hug.

Having seen many severe wounds Feasa wondered about Grefs recovery prospects. “Will he be crippled?”

“No, but the recovery will take months and he’ll have to follow my instructions,” Fiach answered. “I’m a good Ianuarian. I know what I’m doing.”

Fiach and Feasa moved him to the bedroll by the fire, then Feasa tucked him in.

“Fiach, I don’t know what to say,” Feasa whispered.

“I’ve seen the way you longingly look at mothers with their children. You need a son and he needs a mother. I just did the right thing. He’ll sleep the night,” Fiach said as she took a torch. “Lets clean up in the stream.”

Feasa suddenly shivered as she remembered she was covered in dried blood. “What about the dead?”

“They’re not going anywhere,” Fiach calmly answered.

With the torch stuck into the streambank, the women waded into the flowing water to wash the death from themselves and their blankets.

Feasa wondered about Fiach. A deadly killer one moment, a compassionate woman the next, a supremely skilled Ianuarian another. She was quite an enigma.

Sitting in the warmth of the fire its needless to say neither woman got any sleep. As she watched the sleeping teen Feasa knew she now had a purpose in her life. Once the sun rose, Feasa could clearly see the bodies. Once more she shivered at the horrible memories of the assault. Sitting beside Gref she lovingly stroked his head looking forward once more to motherhood.

Before too long a pair of riders hove into view. Fiach waved them down. They could see the bodies and listened in disbelief as Fiach quickly explained what happened. They clearly had difficulty believing the small girl had been responsible for the carnage. One man remained with them while the other rode for the nearest town to bring the authorities.

Two hours later the local chief constable with two aids and a wagon approached. He immediately realized the dead were the five brigands who had been terrorizing the region for several years. Once more Fiach’s explanation was greeted with disbelief.

“Let me give you a short demonstration,” Fiach sighed with frustration. “Chief, I’d like you and your men to attack me with your weapons. I’ll use this stick coated with grease and soot to simulate a knife. The marks left behind will show where I hit you as I take you down.”

The men exchanged frowns of disbelief. “Okay, well do it if it will get you to tell us the truth.”

As the men surrounded her, Fiach smiled. “Tell me when you’re ready.”

With Feasa and the other men present looking on the chief nodded. Fiach did a back flip landing in front of the man behind her. Before he could do more than gasp in surprise she cut his legs beneath him, then as he toppled she brought the stick across his throat leaving clear evidence his throat was slit.

“He’s dead and out of the fight,” Fiach declared as she sprang to her feet facing the two clearly shocked remaining men. She charged the chief then jigged to face the other man catching him by surprise. Once more she stepped inside his reach so his sword was useless. The faux knife painfully jabbed into his kidney. As he yelped and pulled away from the pain she pivoted around him and faux slit his throat.

“He’s dead and out of the fight,” Fiach snarled as she faced off against the now angered chief. The big man swiped at her with his sword. Fiach easily leapt over the blade. If it had hit it would have been fatal. Then she closed thrusting the blade under his ribs directly towards his heart.

“Now you’re dead and out of the fight,” Fiach declared. “In less than a minute I killed all three. Do you still doubt I killed these thieves?”

The chief was humiliated but begrudgingly admitted Fiach was a formidable opponent. “Where did you learn to fight like that?”

Fiach explained about being from Germania Magna and growing up to be a hunter as well as a warrior. Fortunately he accepted her story.

As Gref had said the men she’d killed were brigands who had been terrorizing the area for years. There was a reward out for them.

“We’ll need to stay here until Gref has recovered from his wound enough to resume our trip,” Fiach explained. “When we’re able to travel we’ll stop in town to collect the reward. It’ll take about a week.”

The chief and his men loaded the five bodies on the wagon. They’d be publicly displayed as an example of what happens to criminals.

By the time Gref awoke, they were alone in the camp. Groggy and disoriented he awoke to find his head resting in Feasa’s lapped as she gently stroked his hair. “It wasn’t a dream?”

“No son, it wasn’t,” Feasa smiled.

Gref bit his lips while smiling tentatively.

Over the next few days Fiach slipped away from camp with her bow to return with freshly killed meat. Hour by hour Feasa and Gref grew closer. The new mother learned how to tend the wound and both listened as Fiach explained and demonstrated the exercises and stretches that he’d need to make a full recovery. She also made a crutch so he could get around. After a week of recuperation the threesome set off. They stopped in the town to replenish supplies and collect the reward before once more heading off toward Cadiz.

Two days later, on December 3, they reached their destination. Feasa’s sister lived in the town of Puerto Real, the mainland companion town for the island city of Cadiz. Fenea, the sister of Feasa, was totally surprised but delighted to see her sister. The reunion after a nearly twenty year separation was quite tearful.

Fenea was barely making ends meet and the small family home was on the verge of being foreclosed. The family had never been well off. Of their four brothers, three had died from disease and the fourth had joined the Roman legions never to return. Feasa was the oldest child and Fenea, the youngest sibling, was recently widowed. She had a son and two daughters, all under the age of ten.

It was clear to Fiach that even with the coin she intended to provide, the family was ill prepared to handle cash. They’d be able to redeem the home, but the place really needed to be torn down and replaced. While the joyous family celebrated their reunion Fiach bought their food thinking that they’d never survive on their own.

By the third day Fiach sat the sisters and their kids down and bluntly told them that while they were good and honest people the were too inexperienced to handle a financial reserve without some unscrupulous person taken advantage of their financial naivete. They’d be broke within a year. The sisters understood their shortcomings and realized Fiach was being almost brutally honest.

“My family has a place in the province of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae,” Fiach explained. “It’s where I’m heading and it will be a long and lonely trip. I wouldn’t mind traveling companions.”

Feasa smiled. “What would we do once we get there?”

“We’re building a community, so there’s room for more,” Fiach smiled. “We don’t have an inn but could use one.”

Fenea tilted her head to one side and asked, “What if they object?”

“Well, I own the land,” Fiach admitted.

Feasea asked, “How big is the property?”

“My property is called the Barmaz Bailiwick and is in the Alp mountains,” Fiach explained. “Much of it is mountain pastures where we herd sheep, goats and cattle. We’re planting trees on the steeper slopes. In the valleys we have fields. We’ve dammed the stream and are building mills. The property is roughly kidney shaped. The boundaries are along ridges so aren’t straight. But taken together it’s nearly 90 square miles.

“Miles? Square miles? That’s huge,” Fenea gasped. “And you own it?”

“Yeah, it’s where I settled my family after I brought them out of Germania Magna,” Fiach said.

“I didn’t think you had a lot of money,” Feasa said.

“I don’t have a lot of coin. I’ve invested most of it,” Fiach confessed. “I own Corvus Scriptorium now headquartered in Champery with locations in Rome and Alexandria. The Rome location is on a small farm I own just outside the city. I also own Corvus Construction also headquartered in Champery with a location at the farm in Rome.”

The women were clearly surprised by the revelations. “If you have so much, what are you doing here?”

“I travel to learn and help others where I can,” Fiach explained. “I tried to help clean up the health issues in ReoTinto. That didn’t work out, in fact I was attacked out of fear I’d interfere with mine output. I hid out for two months working in Feasa’s inn before I left escorting Feasa here on my way home. But now it seems this isn’t a good place to be. I know Barmaz is a good place to live so I’ve invited you to join me.”

Feasa smiled. “I knew there was a lot more to you than you let on.”

“I think we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well these last weeks,” Fiach wanly smiled at Feasa. “My offer to join my family will stand but I’ll also offer you an alternative. You can settle here or anywhere along the route and I’ll provide enough coin for you to live for the next ten years.”

“The women exchanged worried glances. “I thought you said we be welcomed. Why would we need an alternative?”

“You will be welcomed but you may not want to join us. I haven’t lied to you but I have stretched the truth and haven’t been completely honest,” Fiach confessed before drawing in a deep breath. Then she fully explained her past, that she was dual spirited, and that she had been Cursed at age fourteen with health, rapid healing, and resurrection... and that she was seventy eight years old.

Feasa, Fenea, Gref and the kids just looked at Fiach. What they had heard seemed impossible and unbelievable.

Seeing their doubts Fiach drew a knife, placed her hand on a log, and jammed the knife through the top of her hand pinning it to the log. When she raised her hand the log came with it.

They all gasped, shocked by the harsh act.

Fiach calmly pulled her pierced hand free of the log revealing an inch of the blade tip protruding. Once it was clear they saw the blade, she pulled the knife from her hand, holding it up so they could clearly see the wound. Their mouths dropped open as they watched the wound heal.

Gref recalled the wound Fiach had given to him many days before. He was just now managing to walk freely but still faced a tough recovery. “Didn’t that hurt?”

“Oh yes,” Fiach smiled. “A few years ago I was in a fight against sixteen soldiers on a dock. I died after I killed my last opponent. A sword had been completely thrust through my back coming out the front. That hurt like hell. I had other serious wounds and bled to death. But I healed and came back to life less than an hour later.”

“I was raised as a boy and only adopted my Fiach persona as an alternative convenient way of moving around when I was thirty four,” Fiach added. “At times I’ve presented myself as the wife of my male self or my own sister. Most of my life has been spent as my male self, Raben, and I’ll be resuming that identity at some point. You would have eventually discovered my dual existence so I’ve told you the truth about myself and offered you an alternate to joining my family.”

“Well, that’s quite a confession,” Feasa declared after exchanging glances with her sister. “We can understand why you didn’t tell me earlier. Can we meet Raben?”

“Of course,” Raben agreed. “Let me get my kit, I’ll change in the wagon.” Fifteen minutes later Raben leapt from the wagon.

With mouths agape they looked at Raben. They saw the familiar face and body, but along with the change of clothes came a change of attitude. While Fiach presented as demure and feminine, Raben presented as confident and male. It was difficult to believe the two were the same person.

“Hello, I’m Raben,” Raben smiled. “I hope my sister treated you well during your long journey.”

Feasa, Fenea and Gref found the change remarkable. The kids simply accepted the change. The next day they began prepping for the trip to Greater Barmaz.

Fenea asked “What do we need to do?”

“We’ll need to carry more food supplies, clothing and bedding,” Raben explained. “That means we’ll have to leave your furniture here so your family can ride inside the wagon. We’ll need to purchase two more mules to pull the wagon and a horse for me to ride. We should be able to average twenty miles a day without pushing ourselves.”

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Comments

It would be interesting

Wendy Jean's picture

if Rubin had more contact with God, He/She is living the life many profess to want, at least in the charity and respect department. Still enjoying the story.

More Careful

joannebarbarella's picture

Fiach/Raben is too free about sharing his/her background, even to people she/he may trust. A secret is only a secret when only two people know and even then it's not safe.

Still, this is a fascinating tale.

One of my favorite sayings

is that two people can keep a secret, if one of them is dead. Secrets always come out in the long run.