And so the Father put some beasts in this world to bear witness to his power and spread that. Others are followers, mass-goers, with their good monks who are redeemers of those going masses. The last among the ordained by Heaven are great knights who protect creation and its efforts. Their greatest duty, thus, is to maintain the harmony and order it. Their greatest joy is to love, with absolutely open hearts, this grace which is greater than gold. He who defies his role through sin of apathy, gluttony, avoiding mass, blaspheming the sacraments, owning slaves, fornication, especially beastiality…
“…but is she a virgin?”
Eve only knew so many sins—the ones that worried her the most—and so her memory always faded at that point.
“Little Miss Evil…”
Another man’s voice, near hoarse, “Alone out here…someone’s daughter.”
“So she’s spoken for.”
“No, she’ll do.” A cough again from the raspy one.
They picked her up. Eve went over a big one’s shoulder and she found she couldn’t rouse herself. Her head, more sore as this stranger lumbered along. Not even Skun was this big. She slipped chilled fingers over flannel, not plate. Her mouth was dry, throat bare and naked, as raw as the oldest one’s voice sounded.
“Here’s a good one. Now tie her to it.”
Not another tree, please.
“But it’s a waste, Daniel. The woman is practically a miracle and we’re not even going to take her clothes off?”
Her captor rested his back against the tree, and Eve feared it was a mace crushing her fingers, so she screamed.
“Only playing dead, weren’t you?”
“So what about here—why’d ya have to hit me like that, Danny?”
“Because that thing wanderin’ round out there is worth more than what’s between her legs a thousand times over, and it’s hungry! The bad monk we gave our gold to divined that Scripture says it’s what these things eat, so let’s hurry and tie her up like I said, for Father’s sake.”
Both men laughed.
“Stop it, please… I have knights…”
“Do you know what I have?” and the big blurried one dropped her and moved off when Daniel, hoarse-man moved in. He seized Eve’s jaw, forced the teeth against her cheek and open with a thumb. She cried, and craned back to get away from him, fell down into the crackling muck.
Daniel went with her, and covered her mouth with his foul one. She tasted the ash that had poisoned his speech; his tongue was rank with it. Eve forced her eyes open, looked around the fat one, through the snapped trees. A pickaxe lay not far away, and then the crumbling, bowed head of Mount Brax.
“No… no…” then like a she-hellion, “Father, I begged you to save me from Braximus!”
“Oh, not I. Not him either, and don’t you go squealing to the Baron B or we’ll bury you out here too. Now sit down if you don’t like me, Madam.”
Eve wound her wrists against the rope as the men wandered off, whispering about who would have her first if there was anything left afterward… after what? Where was Cymen? How had they all got back to Mount Brax and the Mines? Red, pain, gray sunlight. Then throbbing, heartless pounding, louder than her heart, blacker than her thoughts, it all spent her.
“There it is…” they were terrible hunters.
From the mist came a white creature. It carried its head proudly, and moved with the majesty of a buck. However, it was fully aware of the danger. It had no shame, in fact, the sloppy hunters remarked that the animal sneered.
“Cymen… Oh, did I dream you? The Father is angry with me and so I must have dreamed you, and all of you handsomes… wishful husbands, for all this horrible time…”
“Lady Eve. That is who you are?” it spoke.
She lifted her head. “…I want Cymen.”
A shouted ‘Now!’ was the signal. An arrow pierced the animal’s neck and sucked deep, halfway up the shaft.
“I am of the Grand and Frivolous Effort.” the creature said, arrogantly immortal too. The jaw was long, like a dog’s. Eve did not know why it distracted her so much, and just now. She didn’t understand its body, she wanted to see more of it.
Now, shouting, bumbling forward with the pickaxe, a cry for fresh meat.
“If you want to live, then trust your heart to me. Touch me, my lady.”
Not with her bound hands, and waist tied off to the tree. Again. The beast lowered its head. Oh what horrid pain to reach, but exquisite form, fine creature, like long ago, but not raven-colored. Eve allowed her curiosity to draw her on, leaned herself hurriedly in, then kissed a neat equine muzzle for the second time in her strange life.
“For GAFE!” a goat-whinny warmed with exotic music, cleft hooves reared up. Buds of light swelled between those, raced like lightning up the animal’s legs, along a vein in its flank, up the neck, and to the spiraling horn. The big man ducked and threw all of his weight into it.
“Dear creature! Oh, unicorn! Use your divine magic and defend yourself!” Eve lunged, but was stuck against the tree.
“Damn you, you aren’t a virgin?!” it went down, swinging hindlegs wild. Eve cried that the second one was coming, Daniel with the pickaxe.
“Terrible bait!” he swore, “Well we can’t take him alive, now can we? Your horn will have to do.”
And it did. The graceful neck twisted around to tear an ear, crunch at the skull of the weighty attacker, who rolled aside, and then the unicorn gained ground enough to rear and leap like a mountain goat into Daniel. The long delicate treasure made a terrible ripping sound as it stabbed him through to the other side. Both fell. Unicorn scrabbled backward, on the ground, to slide himself free, and bucked, turned upside down and reversed, and caught the other screaming ruffian with another courageous jump that threw its victim clear of the edge in the momentum of righting itself. The Unicorn hadn’t looked it, but he was topheavy, throwing himself by the horn like a hammer.
Now, the spear nearly bloodied, and silver hooves in poised in cross over, “I am Damascus. And Lady Eve, you should have been a virgin…” Damascus chewed through the ropes binding her. “Now, East with you at last.”
Salvation was not a thing Eve had ever wanted before. But Damascus had a power about him. She needed to follow. Could she really leave such a rare animal behind?
“Is Cymen safe? Is Gafe where we are going? Is he there as well?”
“Dear Lady, you are not to concern yourself further with that traitor Knight. He is lost, and a memory. We two are now King Miccolangiolo’s creatures.”
Eve found that she had a limp, and that frightened her. “I could never forget about Cymen. Never. He saved me.”
Damascus spoke over her. “If you are not going to be a virgin, then at the least, refrain from naivetee. Would you like to ride me? I can manage it for a little at a time, if necessary. Though I loathe that we shall have to walk all of the way back to White Wall.”
And so Eve, after an obligatory horrid comment that Damascus swiped his tail and ignored, then listened while Damascus grumbled that virgins were such lighter, sweeter creatures. For such a proud equine, he was humbly donkey-sized. She was preached at, as most sermons go, until the panic of mortality left her, and she slipped into desperate sleep.
1 Tie Me to the Tree :: 2 But First, a Snack of Strawberries :: 3 Five Love Stories :: 4 Robin in the Hood :: 5 Even Crispy Children :: 6 A Good GAFE :: 7 Last Chance Through the Flames :: 8 On the Rogue, Damascus :: 9 White Wall