Disclaimer: This is an Uber story about two people who resemble a pair of popular women we are all fond of. Although the resemblance is there, the characters are ours. Two of them are from my first story "The Reef".
The story is set way back, during the Roman occupation of the Southern part of The Netherlands, Limburg, around 100 AD. Although we do try to get our historical facts straight, don't expect our imagination not to run away with us. Hey, we're bards! <g>. But the history of Limburg is very interesting. Okay, I am Dutch and probably biased, but cbar has the same opinion and she is American. So, there! LOL
The story is about two adult women, who love each other deeply (well, in the end they will anyway) and yes, they will have a sexual relationship as well. So, if that is illegal in your neck of the woods, we are very sorry! You might consider moving! ( The Netherlands is not a bad place to live…..if you don't mind rain!) If you are too young to read stories like this, you are now warned! Go play!
There will be violence and strong language. Usually there is no friendly, polite way to tell a Roman conqueror he should go back home. Believe us.
In this tale you will run into our heroins from The Reef. Don't look so puzzled. We know it sounds strange, but we're not going to explain things now. You will find out! <g>If you have any comments, questions or other forms of feedback, drop us a line at Ripplesintime@hotmail.com. We will always answer you.
The sky was grey and heavy with rain. A light drizzle coated everything with a shiny layer of moisture. Despite the wetness and chilly breeze, the birds sang their songs with vigor, while the steadily falling raindrops drummed a soft beat on the leaves of the bushes and trees.
In the distance a narrow plume of smoke could be seen, slowly billowing skywards, giving away the presence of a small village, occupied by mostly farmers and traders. The village was sheltered by the surrounding hills, overgrown with dense forests, while the huge, wooden fort on top of the hill stood watch, providing protection against robbers, thieves and warlords.
A tall, hooded figure slowly made way through the bushes, searching the shrubs and occasionally bending down to pick some green plants that were safely and securely stored away in a leather pouch around a trim waist.
The dark cloak almost perfectly blended in with the wet, dark tree trunks and dense bushes. From the narrow track, only used by a few people who knew the area well, the figure was almost invisible.
A soft crackling noise made the hooded figure stand still with its head cocked to listen for any noise that wasn't familiar. The hood slid back a little and revealed a profile with a straight nose and high cheekbones, while long, dark eyelashes hid the eyes from view.
A little shrug of the shoulders and the hood fell back in place. With catlike grace the figure silently continued the journey, hardly touching the branches covering the path. After a short walk a clearing was reached, where a huge, black stallion was leisurely munching away on the grass, that was covered with dandelions and daisies. Upon hearing a soft whistle, the horse raised its head and looked at the treeline. He softly whinnied and shook his magnificent head, immediately trotting towards the source of the sound. He didn't slow down when he reached his owner. A tall, lean body effortlessly jumped on the horse's back, not hindered by the long cloak that nearly covered the body completely. They rode away together, a picture of grace and beauty, apparently not aware of a pair of green eyes, the color of fresh spring leaves, that were peeking through the branches.
For long moments the owner of the eyes sat very still. Hardly breathing and afraid to move.
" Who in the Gods names was that? A Roman? Could it be? Romans usually don't dress up all in black? A Gaul? But there was no sword, no weapons. A traveler maybe, looking for a trade of some sort. But there was no luggage. The only thing the horse carried was…that person."
The green eyed observer slowly released some breath and carefully rose, stretching stiff muscles. Disappearing into the opposite direction of the dark stranger, not interested in a confrontation with the mysterious rider of the black stallion.
Isa softly muttered, struggling to keep the heavy wooden bucket from spilling the fresh spring water. It had taken her a lot of effort to pull the bucket up. The rough surface of the rope had been slippery from the rain and left marks on the palms of her hands, which would be sore after she had completed her task.
With a groan she put the bucket on the wall that surrounded the well, careful not to spill any of the water. She had been soaking wet from the rain three times already and now that the rain had stopped falling and the sun tried to peek through the heavy clouds, she had no intentions of getting wet again.
Isa pushed away the disheveled blond hair from her forehead and took a deep breath, wiping her hands on her dress, it was still a bit damp from the previous rainshower.
" I'd like to know what Baldric is doing," she mumbled, referring to her younger brother. " Probably having a great time with his friends. I will kick his sorry butt, when I see him. He was supposed to get the water this time. Wait till I get my hands on him!"
Isa looked around the little village. Actually, it wasn't more than a group of farms and workplaces for the stonecutters, who skillfully shaped the mergle blocks from the caves into the forms and patterns the Romans ordered. They used it to decorate their temples and houses , since the soft stone was easy to manipulate.
Isa's father, Axel, had been lucky lately. Originally he was a farmer and he still worked the land. But he needed the job as a stonecutter to pay the Roman taxes. A few times already he had found a fossil, embedded in the soft mergle, and managed to sneak it passed the always watching soldiers. He sold it to the travelling tradesmen and made a good profit out of it.
Isa, who understood the danger, had begged him to be careful. The Romans were arrogant and regarded themselves as being superior. The lives of the peasants were not worth much and when a Centurion lost his temper, it was usually a local head that rolled.
Isa lifted the heavy bucket from the wall and put it on the ground in front of her. She knelt down to take a sip of water and caught her reflection in the shiny surface. She stretched out her hand, to scoop up some water to take a sip, when she froze. The surface reflected her face, with the green eyes, surrounded by blond hair, held back from her face by a silver comb, embedded with emeralds, a gift from her father. But there was more. The outline of a dark figure, wearing a hood that hid the face from view, but with the bluest eyes Isa had ever seen. And they seemed to look straight into her soul.
It was a rainy spring day. Outside cars and busses noisily tried to find their way through the traffic. Inside the museum of Natural History it was quiet though. The people that were visiting, seemed to speak very softly, or even whisper, impressed as they were with the abundance of archeological artifacts. The whole atmosphere was almost reverent. The visitors were in awe of the priceless excavated pieces of Roman art and impressed by the craftsmanship of the early settlers of Limburg.
A blond and redhaired couple strolled hand in hand among an exhibition of jewelry, amazed by the intricate way some of the pieces were crafted.
" Look at this, Sam," Jody whispered, pointing at some silver perfume flasks, necklaces and ornaments women used to wear in their hair. " It looks so delicate."
Sam followed her wife's glance and looked through the glass plate, which protected the items from the outside world.
" Wow. Amazing how they made this," Sam agreed. " It's beautiful. I don't understand why they sometimes call us civilized and people from centuries ago barbarian," she joked.
Jody nodded and bent closer to the glass to have a better look. Her eyes fell on a slightly dented silver comb that was embedded with emeralds. A few pieces of the precious stones were missing, but it was still pretty much intact. The glass reflected her image and that of her companion. But suddenly it changed. Jody's heart almost stopped when the reflection of Sam was replaced by the outline of a dark, hooded figure. She was about to jump back, when all of a sudden a pair of familiar clear blue eyes appeared, looking straight into her soul. With a sharp intake of breath she closed her eyes. When she opened them again, the reflection had changed. It was just her and Sam again.
Sam shot Jody a worried glance and gently squeezed the hand, that a few seconds ago had held hers in an iron grip.
" Honey, are you okay?"
Jody looked up and managed a weak smile.
" Yes, I think so. I…I guess all this history is making my imagination run wild. Or maybe I just need to eat something soon."" I am quite hungry myself," Sam smiled. " Let's go to that little restaurant and have some coffee with Limburg pie."
" Tell him, Titus," one of the soldiers slurred, hitting a young man on the shoulder, making him wince from the impact. " His daddy would be pleased with him."
" Yeah," a tall, sturdy man answered. " Come on, Flavio. Be a man. Have another drink! We gotta make a man out of you!"
The boy tried to extract himself from the grip the other soldier had on his shoulder.
" You may be the Optio Titus and I respect your rank, but I don't want to be drunk," the young man seriously answered.
" Aw, Flavio," Titus howled. " But your daddy gave me free hand. He doesn't want you to be a whimp, you know. I gotta make a man out of you. Isn't that a fact, my friends?"
The other soldiers nodded and looked at their second in command. Titus was a strong man, who was known for his drunken outbursts and nobody wanted to be on his bad side.
" Come on, Flavio, " Titus pleaded. " Make my day. Have another drink. We're just celebrating the fact that our cohort is gonna be increased. You should be happy about that. Soon there will be about a hundred soldiers more to look after and I might even consider giving you a break." Titus threw his head back and laughed wholeheartedly, emptying his own cup. " There will be a whole lot of rookies to harass."
" I will go outside," Flavio softly spoke, turning around. " I need some fresh air."
" You might be the governor's son, but you are a coward Flavio Lexius Maximus," Titus shouted, slamming his cup down on the table, making his other companions jump. " One day soon I will break you, son. Mark my words!"
Titus face was red and his muddy green eyes shot fire. He had gotten his assignment from the governor himself, who wanted his son to be a strong, well trained Roman soldier. And it was Titus who had to see to it that the governor's wish would be granted. He was promised that when he was successful in his task, Titus would not have to serve twenty-five years in the Roman army to be rewarded his own piece of land. He would receive his reward after the governor returned to Rome, after serving as the ruler of the Roman province for two years. And Titus had his heart set on his own land. He had been serving the Roman Empire as a soldier since he was just a boy. He had worked himself up in the ranks, until he became an Optio. But since he was no nobleman, he knew that would be the highest rank he could ever reach. His own piece of land would give him the respect from his friends and family. He would be able to buy a few slaves and his life, pretending to be of noble blood.
The problem though was Flavio. Although a gentle, meek soul, he could also be terribly stubborn and no matter what Titus did or said, Flavio obeyed him and paid his respect, but still did not show any sign of becoming the verocious warrior his father and Titus wanted him to be.
Titus shot a manacing glance to the door, through which his young nemesis had just left. He narrowed his eyes and pressed his lips into a thin line.
" You will drink that bottle, Flavio. Whether you like it or not," he whispered, pushing himself up and walking to the door, nearly falling down when he stumbled over his own feet.
" By all the Gods!" Titus shouted, aggressively kicking the leg of the nearest table, making it fall over on its side with a loud, crashing sound.
" You will do what I tell you to, boy!"
Isa tentatively smiled at the Roman soldier who was standing outside the inn, watching her. She knew who he was. He was the only son of the governor that controlled the region with an iron fist. Flavio was nothing more than a boy, dragged away from home and made a soldier, to serve in his father's legion. His dark brown eyes always had a dreamlike expression when he looked at Isa, but she knew he was harmless. Unlike some of the soldiers she ran into on a daily basis, Flavio was a gentle soul and behaved more like a poet than the fierce warrior his father wanted him to be.
He returned the gentle smile and pointed at the heavy bucket Isa was carrying.
" Do you need a hand with that?" he asked, a blush covering his face.
" No, thank you, Flavio," Isa answered, her green eyes sparkling. " Last time you did that, you got into trouble, remember? No mingling with the peasants."
Flavio muttered under his breath and cast a quick glance inside the inn, where his so called friends were still drinking wine and telling each other bloody war stories.
" I'm sorry, Isa. Your brother should help you carry that."
Isa put the bucket down for a few seconds and pushed back her unruly hair. A sunny smile covered her face.
" He should and once I will get my hands on him, he will be sorry he didn't do his chores," Isa grinned. " You haven't seen Baldric around, have you?"
Flavio shook his head, the motion reflecting the sun in his shiny helmet.
" No, I haven't. But I will my eyes open for him, if you want."
" Don't worry, Flavio. I know my brother. Once he gets hungry, he will find his way home."
‘ Whom are you talking with, boy?" a gruff, slurred voice suddenly sounded from inside the inn.
Flavio visibly stiffened and nervously looked at Isa.
" You'd better be on your way," he whispered. " They are pretty drunk."
Isa knew a warning when she heard one and quickly picked up the bucket. A quick, grateful smile to the Roman soldier and she was on her way.
Isa froze in place and felt her heart pick up speed.
" TURN AROUND, WOMAN"
Isa did as she was told and looked in the puffy red face of another Roman soldier. His tiny eyes were squinted against the light, but she could still see he was studying her from head to toe. A smirk crossed his face when he saw her face lose all color.
" What a pretty, little girl. I bet you have a man waiting for you somewhere," he chuckled, taking an unsteady step closer.
" Not that a thing like that would make any difference," he added, reaching out to touch Isa's hair.
Instinctively she flinched, biting her bottom lip to hide the quivering.
She knew what the Roman troops could do to girls, she had heard many a story, but until that moment, she had never been in a dangerous situation like that. Her mind was frantically working on a solution.
" Titus, " she heard Flavio's voice plead. " Leave her alone. She means nothing to you."
" You are right about that," Titus responded. " But that doesn't mean I can't have a good time."
" Come back into the inn with me, girl. I will show you what a real man can do."
He grabbed Isa's arm and pulled her with him towards the entrance of the building. Isa's eyes were wide with horror and she knew that if she would set one foot inside the inn, her innocence would be shattered in a most violent way.
When Titus took another alcohol induced, unsteady step, she suddenly slammed the bucket into his shins. His hand let go of her arm and Isa did the only thing she could do that moment. She ran.
Without looking back she bolted for the treeline, away from the Roman soldier, not caring about the effects her actions could have on herself and her family. All she wanted was to get away. Be safe.
Somewhere behind her, Isa could hear Titus curse loudly and the knowledge he would be deeply insulted and very angry, made her increase her speed even more. But she wasn't fast enough. A warning shout from Flavio made her aware of something happening, but before she could even glance over her shoulder, she was knocked down by a heavy object that hit her in the shoulder, throwing her off balance.
A sharp jolt of pain shot through her left shoulder and upper arm, but Isa did not dare take the time to look at her injury. Slightly dizzy she pushed herself on her feet again and almost tripped over the long, Roman javelin that had hit her just a few seconds before.
Continued in part 2