Running from Sanctuary
The days are tedious and monotonous, it is the same since i arrived here in the convent. I think i was around a year of 14 when the town council dragged me up the mountain. They said there was no saving my soul unless i gave myself to the service of the convent.
My mother had died of a plague that had been going around, but as i was old enough to work the produce stand we had i was allowed to live on my own and take care of my own things. My neighbours did keep an eye on me and my aunt and uncle, my mothers brother, checked in regularly as well.
Things went well enough untill there were a couple of thieves that stole from my stall. The stupid thing was it wasn't even that much i would have not missed the income. But i suspect that i was just tired and overworked and feeling like shit. There were three guys.
One kept me distracted one was the lookout one stole a crate of food from behind my counter.
I noticed just in time before the one with the crate got away i snatched him by the arm not thinking i could hurt him. But he screamed, he screamed in pain. I got startled and let go of him. One of the others came at me in defense of his friend. He wanted to strike me but i grabbed a tool from under my stall and smacked him right in the head. I heard a sickening crunching noise and a weird smell of blood and.... i think someone shat themself.
The third i never saw he ran away. But it was clear he got the authorities.
The correctional priest came with two other law officers.
I was honestly still shocked at what had happened so i just stood there. I had no urge to run away. I defended my stall and goods right? I protected my livelyhood and income.
The moment the authorities were in front of me they started asking questions. I answered them as best as i could. But i did not fully understand they said i had to have kept bashing on the man his head.
I tried to explain that i had no clue what came over me but i just reacted and hit him once with what i had in hands reach as he was going to attack me.
The priest and officers looked at eachother. The two officers went to the man who had come and get them and took the one whose arm i apparently broke to the doctor.
The priest stood closer to me and started to speak about a story hoe strong feelings like grief or sadness or anger could lure evil spirits to nest in ones body and mind. Who then take over in strong emotions.
Was that it? Was i possessed? After that i just went with it. Noone goes against the priests or officers here. They are absolutly good people. They handle to the best of the people.
I ended up in the sanctuary in the mountains. Women who are troubled or possessed or in another way need help are taken in there.
It is a simple life but a good life. You want for nothing. You are busy during the day with farming crafting, brewing, writing and studying and meditation. It depends where your strengths are. Mine were ofcourse used in the growing of crops but i also seemed to have a good understanding of cooking and brewing. So i was busy and i liked my tasks. I was eventually allowed some freedom to get creative with what i made.
Years passed and i felt at ease calm and happy with my life. Living alone in the farm of my mother wasn't a healthy life for a child anyway.
I think it was after 6 years or so. A new sister came to the sanctuary. And things changed. Her behavior was borderline mean. She questioned everything. But later on it was clear for some that she liked to cause trouble between other sisters. Stirring trouble.
The head sister though she noticed but told us to be patient and give her the space to grow and learn and fin her place like we got.
So we did. But it never changed it just became part of the way things go. So whenever we felt something was off we double checked and asked around if Sister Abby had a hand in it. If so... never trust the situation.
It was bound to happen at a point but our head sister died of old age. A new one needed to be chosen. We had not figured sister Abby would have a hand in this but she did. And however she did it. She stepped up as the new Head Sister.
This was not going to be the same as it was.
We noticed it early on. Our daily tasks changed. No room for creativity or own creations. We had to follow one strict path. The calm and joyous nature in the sanctuary changed. It became gloomy. No more music was played... Head sister Abby said it clouded our minds and made us susceptible for evil spirits. No more brewing. For alcoholic beverages were evils work.
If that wasn't bad enough some sisters disappeared. We heard later they were transferred to other sanctuaries which were more closed and like prisons.
There came talk in the halls who would be next. My name came forth more and more.
Well screw that. I am an adult now. Thabks to the first years in the convent i am taught in ways of taking care of myself. If i am able to get far away enough from this city, and this sanctuary i am sure i can build a new life for myself.
So i left. Sadly i had no other clothes then my habit. But with a sack on my back and an extra layer of cloth underneath my habit i waited for the next transport to come pick up produce to bring it down to the city.
When they were loading that up i was able to sneak away. It helped i have been living here for years that i know the most shadowy spots and best places to hide.
The transport was loaded in and during those noises and the focus on the open gate i moved the other way. Up the mountain.
Was i certain how i was going to go further from just walking up the mountain. No, but i knew it wasn't healthy for me to stay in the sanctuary. Days, weeks i walked on the mountain. I used the peaks ridge to travel to the west instead of having to climb and descent everytime.
I hoped to see something down the mountainsides which would indicate i was far enough. But it was only forests, no city or village in sight.
I slept in caves when i could find one or in a tall tree. Never on the ground. If i had found a good cave i sometimes took a break of a few days.
Like this time as well. I had slept in the cave and no animal had come and claimed it. So i decided to allow myself a longer rest. Gather some more food and prepare it for the journey.
It was when i had a basket fool of roots berries mushrooms and other edible foragings that i heard a sound.
Mind you my habit looks very less like one. It had gained tears that i patched but i lost the veil i turned that in a sack to carry more things. Though it was still discernible as a habit. When following the sound i heard that it was groans of pain from a man. I hadn't run into anyone since i had left. I was surprised to see someone. But seeing he was wounded and nearly unconcious i decided to help. I could not allow a man to die on this mountainside. And having someone to talk to would not be bad for a change. The loneliness did get a hold of me at times.
I made the man a stretcher and carried him back to the cave. I checked his wounds and it was clear he had fallen into a root pit. They are plants with spiked roots those roots eventually casue the earth to shift above it and make it loose enough for animals or people to fall in. When it notices a disturbance in the roots the roots start to coil and tense grabbing anything that is near them.
Yes it is a big carnivorous plant. If only the upper part of the plant would give a warning. It is always a beautiful flowering bush sweet flowery scent.
It took a few days but the man woke up. I had carefully dripped water or a weak broth in his mouth and made sure the wounds weren't infecting. I must say i had thought the wounds would have taken longer. The venom the roots inject in its victims can take a week to break down, at least.
But a few days and he was stirring. I was actually in the middle of cooking while singing a little song mom always sang.
I don't know how long he was watching but when i looked up i saw his eyes open and looking at me..
"Good morning. I think" a say with a smile and laddle in some soup in a bowl i had carved from some wood with a handcarved spoon i set it next to him help him sit up a bit and prop him up against the cave wall with the cloak behind him. I point to the bowl of soup.
"Eat, you need your strength." Walking back to the little makeshift kitchen area i take a mug and pour some water in. Bringing it to the man as well. He still looks at me...
With hands on my hips i look at him and at the bowl.
"If you are not strong enough to eat i will feed you, but i have never been known for a soft healing hand."
The man laughs "You remind me of someone. But no i'll eat myself. I had just not thought of finding a person out here. I have been stuck in those roots for a while."
I look surprised.
"For a while??? Usually a man of your size dies within two days of being stuck in there. You must be remarkably strong. But happy i found you it is not a fate i would wish upon my enemy."
Returning to the food i laddle some soup up for myself, pour some water and sit down to eat. By now the man starts to eat as well hearing the sounds. Hearing appreciating eating sounds i smile.
After the meal i take his bowl and nod to his mug.
"Want more water? "
He looks ate with a slight grin and says "Well, rather something stronger but i guess that is not an option. "
I laugh. "Well i do have some fine meads and beers with me. Even a stronger spirit i brew the first moment i entered the convent. Could not have let that gone to waste. So took it with me. But seeing you only just woke up. If you can stand and walk i will open a bottle with you."
I clean the things diligently i have structure and ways i do things and that keeps me sane.
He is silent again and watches me tend to things in the cave. Eventually he lays down again and i see hom slowly fade to sleep again.
I watch him most of the night but near morning the sleep wins and i drift off.
For the last weeks my dreams had gotten wilder, stranger and it was often i startled awake from a strange dream. But this time was different.
I wake with the scent of.... meat? Meat being roasted?! I jerk up, afraid my patient might have fallen into the fire. But instead of that i see him sitting near the fire roasting a few parts of a boar.
Rubbing the dust and gravel of my face and clothing i look at him shocked.
"You killed the boar? Those creatures are viscious. It could have killed you. Or harmed you. And i couldn't have saved you from that." While speaking i walk up to him and look over if i see any clear signs of wounds or other injuries.
He laughs and pats me on the shoulder.
"I am tougher than i look. I was looking for my things hut got ambushed by this animal and all i could see were baked hams and bacon, like a cartoon. So i killed it and took it with me. Seemed you have been living a vegetarian lifestyle lately anyway."
I could not deny that it smelled wonderful and my stomach did start to growl with the smell of that cooking meat. I smile.
"Well you bring the meat i'll have some vegetables and a wonderful dark beer that goes well with boar."
I leave him to roast the meat and i prepare the rest of the food. I think from that moment we got an understanding. For the next days i went out foraging and gathering things to prepare for the rest of my journey and the man went out to search for his things. He didn't accept my help when offered, but he seemed to manage just fine.
One evening while we were eating he started to talk in a serious tone.
"I have found what i was looking for. So i must get on my way again. I know you do not have a set destination, and i really enjoy your cooking. Why not join me. Though i must warn you that there is a good chance that you can never return here. So i need to know something. "
I was slowly chewing my food while listening then swallowing and chasing it with a gulp of beer i ask him.
"What do you need to know? I think in our talks you have learned all there is of me. It is not much. "
Normally he does smile or at least has a more relaxed expression but this time he looked dead serious.
"You are from a convent, do you believe in an afterlife? That your soul goes to somewhere after you die?"
I take a long drink emptying my mug of beer. Filling it up again and filling his mug i release a long breath in a sigh and answer.
"I do not fully understand. But if you are asking what i believe after death. Those dying with a tremendous amount of strong emotions will turn into evil spirits haunting those alive corrupting their spirits. Those possessed like they thought me to be are placed in a convent. Those who die in peace will return to the earth to feed it with their body. And the spirit will be gone. "
A slight shrug.
"Is that okey with you?"
The man nods. "Does it matter where you die?"
Getting slightly nervous now with all the talk of dying i shift uneasy.
"No, it is just a way of saying in a nicer form that your body will be nothing more then compost."
His face clears and a sudden roar of laughter. Again i look surprised. What in the world is going on with this man.
We are both silent for a while. Then i break the silence. "So i took the liberty of making a traveling pack for you as well. I hope you do not mind i used some of the skins of the beasts. I did not have the time to fully cure it but it should be good enough. I packed a bottle of the dark beer you like and dried fruits and meat. Broth.
Though if we travel together we can still share."
He nods "It was not needed but thank you for your care. If you want we can travel together. Though my mode of transportation will be slightly different. But when we arrive at my destination i would live to taste that bottle you are holding on to."
A frown comes over my face. "Let me think about it. First rest. I'll take first watch. "
When i wake up i nearly jump... those dreams get to me at times. I turn and see him watching me thoughtfully. Almost staring. It makes me feel uneasy.
With quick fingers i orden my hair into a thightly braided bun. I might not have a full habit but keeping my hair out of the way is something i just like during my day.
"Uhm good morning. Is something the matter?"
He shakes his head and stands up. "Hm no. Lets get ready to leave. "
I nod and quickly gather my things prepare the packs and have breakfast ready to eat fast and on the way.
After eating he doesn't walk out of the cave but to one of the larger cave walls. Again i look a bit confused. And with a broad grin as if he is going to do an amazing trick he takes out a card stares at it and i see an actual portal appear.... So yes i do look shocked an amazed and slightly scared probably.
He holds out his hand to me but clearly keeps focusing on the portal... what type of magic....
My fear screams i shouldn't go. But rationally... what do i have here. Nothing i am on the run. With no guarantee of a stable life. At least with this man i will probably experience adventure. And he needs someone to make sure he eats well.
After a deep breath i nod and take his hand and he leads me through.