As the horns started to blare, the messenger used the newfound strength he gained after some actual rest and refreshment, he clung onto my back as we mounted the horse, preparing to ride for our lives and the life of the baby. The baby was held in my bag, draped over my back. We started to ride, getting the horse to go as quickly as it could, at least for a certain part of the night. It was dreadfully late, but we managed to ride for a long time, at least until I could maintain my strength. We rode until the break of dawn, where we found a building resembling a temple. I could barely make it out, my eyes were foggy and worn after being peeled open for several hours. The dirt and mud was sticking to my face, my horse was in dire need of food and water, and the man was clinging to me, albeit just as exhausted as I was. After careful examination of my surroundings, and the aid of the rising sun, I could see that it was just as I had foreseen: a large, gorgeous temple building. I dismounted the horse, tying it to the posts near the gate, and from there I saw a ravishing garden surrounding a large stone fountain, which was placed almost exactly in its center.
Everything about the temple showed nothing but elegance, and the design and building was as close to perfection as anything else I could find that was built. The garden had a variety of flowers that were nourished by the water in the stream circumnavigating the temple, and also was a place for the monks who inhabited the place to grow crops for nourishment and produce to sustain themselves or put in the market. We walked through the garden on the stone path leading to the doors of the temple. The sun was almost completely over the horizon now, and we saw the light reflect on the windows and carefully painted wood on the walls. There were a few bells placed above the door, and there was one on the door itself, implying that it was the way to notify the monks of a potential visitor or pilgrim.
I rang the bell a few times, and I stood back to wait for a few seconds as the door was opened to me. I saw a man in a bright white tunic with a few green stripes behind the other side of the doorway. He nodded his head, and gestured us to the center of the room. “Greetings.” His voice was fairly deep and throaty. “I'm Brother Tyrell. This is our place of sanctuary, where we can become closer to the heavens while performing good and satisfactory works for the sake of others in these kingdoms. We hold no particular allegiance to any man, but our allegiance lies totally in the heavens and in the gods before us, which allow us to do our work and love others. Would you like a bath and some rest?” We nodded our heads, barely able to speak at this point. My mind had become clouded, with nothing but the prospect of a clean bath and some long-awaited sleep occupying it. Forget whatever these men were preaching to me, I want my bed. Brother Tyrell laughed, saying, “You must be tired, I know what you're thinking by the aura you communicate. You and your friend, come with me. Sir,” he motioned to the messenger, “follow my fellow Brother, Quinn. He will bless your wounds and heal you before you are bathed. He will also care for the baby who accompanies you on this journey.” I followed Brother Tyrell to another room in the monastery, while the messenger followed Brother Quinn to another room on the opposite side of the sanctuary.
Tyrell unlocked the door to the room we were near, and he opened the door to reveal a magnificent room with a luxurious marble bath, which was flanked by illuminated, pleasant smelling candles. Tyrell bowed slightly before closing the door, allowing me to disrobe in peace and enter the bath. It was the best feeling I've had in a long time, better than the baths I've had at the best inns I've visited, at least for quite some time. The water was very warm, probably heated by burning coals underneath the ground. This was the closest to natural spring water I could find, and I could feel the warm water caressing and cleansing my skin. I laid back and relaxed in the warm waters, in more peace than I had felt in a long time. I also used my tunic to wipe off any of the stains and clean myself. It took everything I had to avoid falling completely asleep in this warm water, but there was something magical about this water. It rejuvenated me. After a few minutes in this bath, I didn't want to sleep anymore, and I wasn't exhausted. I could feel its warmth penetrate the deepest layers of my skin, beyond my skin, cleaning away my stress and anxiety, relieving the headache I had from the moment I rode to escape Kings Bay.
It was a tremendous high I could never hope to replicate. After a few more minutes of this pure bliss, Brother Tyrell opened the door for me, and asked, “Was your bath enjoyable?” I smiled, for the first time in days, and Brother Tyrell gave me the same expression. “Come. Place a robe around your body, and follow me to a bedroom, for a few minutes of sleep.” This is exactly what I came for! I quickly placed a robe around my cleansed body, and followed Tyrell into an elegant room with a pair of beds. The messenger was already occupying the other one, healthy as ever, healing fairly quickly for a man in his condition. He appeared to be in a deep, trance-like sleep. The marked baby, who finally looked to be clean and healthy, was sound asleep in a small, makeshift bed, presumably prepared by Brother Quinn. Tyrell motioned to the bed. “Enjoy your sleep, good sir.” He closed the door, and I laid down in the bed, as prepared as ever for a deep sleep.
I woke up, and found that it was easier to arise from my bed than it usually was, even though it looked like I had only slept for a few minutes. The messenger was still asleep, but the baby was missing. I didn't have any doubt where he was, I assumed the monks were feeding him or bathing him. After rising from my bed, I placed on my tunic, and walked steadily to the sanctuary where I assumed Tyrell or Quinn might have been. I peeked through the doorway, and was greeted by a handful of monks who were preparing to be in their proper position for prayer and meditation. They were chatting, presumably in small talk, before Brother Tyrell noticed me. He raised his head, motioning me to join the monks with a smile. I didn't quite feel like a fit with these religious men, considering I was a man in serious doubt of the gods, and I was a man wearing a brown tunic in a room full of other men bearing white, elegant tunics. Brother Tyrell motioned me to the circle for me to introduce myself. “Good morning good sir, you've been sleeping for almost an entire day now, come join us!” I was confused. An entire day? But, the monks were keeping watch over me, so I had to believe it at some point.
Some of the monks looked at me with a hint of distaste in their eyes, at least I thought. Others greeted me with a smile, offering me a drink (I had no hint of what it was, but I drank it anyway.) It turned out to be a fruity, sweet wine, which was the perfect drink to hydrate me with water at this point. I managed to introduce myself, tell them where I was from and my purpose for entering the Brotherhood for this day. The men nodded their heads, all admiring the work I had done to get the baby to the monastery and out of the king's hands. After a short conversation, a monk pointed to the bell, and the men each got into their prayer positions. A bell was struck, and the men started a chant. I tried as well as I could to echo the chant, but I failed, and just listened to the men unite as one for a few minutes. After the chant, I could sense the faint smell of incense burning in the silence of the men. After the incense permeated my nostrils, I could hear what sounded like muttering. A few men were silently praying to the gods. Just as I had relaxed and could feel my tension melting away, I felt (and heard) the door banging. My heart jumped, and the monks started to scatter, searching for weapons. “Open up, I command you in the name of King Nikolas!” Brother Tyrell and myself jumped, moving swiftly to the bedroom to hide the baby and the escaped messenger.
“OPEN UP!” We all moved away from the window, out of the door, to hide in the basement of the monastery, so carefully hidden that no man could find it, except an inhabitant or monk. I was holding the baby tightly, not only in fear of my life, but also his... A few of the monks were running towards the door, but a battering ram suddenly crushed through the door, leaving it in shambles and removing the barrier between these soldiers and this monastery. Some of the monks were screaming and running in fear, while a few were armed with swords, prepared to fight to the death, as some of these men were trained in the martial arts. The sounds of swords clashing could be heard from the basement, as could the sounds of men screaming in agony, facing sudden death. I was in horror, as I could feel the massacre, the sounds of men crying out in fear, of men who were about to bleed out, be under the king's custody, or face a gruesome injury and death. Tyrell muttered, “Gods, save us...” After the last of the monks, Brother Quinn, was murdered and finished screaming in pain, I could hear the sound of men, bursting through doors to search for us. My heart could have melted, as soon as I heard the sound of boots over the trapdoor.
When the men decided we were nowhere to be found, a harsh, blunt voice could be heard screaming, “Raze it!” I could feel myself about to die at this point, and was just sitting in this secret room, waiting to die. I could hear them mount their horses and march away toward the next city. We were trapped, regardless of whether we lived or died. We had to formulate a plan, and fast... We didn't have enough time... We had to find the other side of the trapdoor, and escape away from the sight of the king's men...ns 126.96.36.199da2