Medicine Woman 1
Posted by Barbanne on September 27, 2002 at 00:04:10:
PART ONE: CAPTURED!
I woke to the smell of burning.
Thin tendrils of smoke filled my bedroom.
I jumped out of bed and ran to the window. The cottages nearest to the stream were alight and burning fiercely. By the light of the flames I saw figures moving amongst the buildings and heard the sound of battle and the screams of wounded people. I had to help. I would be needed and I had to help my friends. I grabbed the bag in which I kept my healing tools and rushed down the stairs. Mother met me at the bottom, her pale skin milky in the moonlight.
"Hannah quickly. We are being attacked."
"Lerouge?" I said.
She nodded and said, "Quick now, come with me."
We dashed outside and I saw that our menfolk were fighting hand to hand with an overwhelming force of attackers. The numbers were horribly mismatched and my tummy knotted with cold fear as I realised that this was a battle we could not win.
The scene was hellish.
Men struggled in close combat, bodies meeting bodies and weapons rising and falling and scything through flesh. Grunts, cries and screams and the sobbing of the wounded made a horrible backdrop to the scene of conflict lit by the cold light of the moon and highlighted by the oranges and reds of the flamelight. Bodies lay all around and I realised with shocked terror that not all were warriors, some were the women of our tribe, my sisters and my friends.
I dropped to my knees beside the body of a man. It was Jaarl and he was dead, his head split open by a horrendous sword stroke. Nothing I could do here. I crossed to another. It was Jaarl's brother Kaarl and he had a deep wound in the upper part of his leg. I swabbed it as best I could and tied off the bleeding. Mother was beside me and she said, "Here Hannah, here quickly."
It was Morda and one of her breasts had been almost severed from her body. There was little I could do but I bound it as tightly as I could and gave her the Koka leaves to chew on.
I moved amongst our wounded, mother by my side and managed to stop the bleeding in two other ghastly blade slashes but there was so much to do and I was alone.
By now most of the village was alight and I heard mother gasp and turning to follow her eyes I saw that our own home was burning fiercely, a horrid conflagration, and even as I watched the roof collapsed in a shower of sparks.
"Oh mother," I clung to her.
The conflict was over. The attackers were going from fallen warrior to fallen warrior killing them with hacks and thrusts from their blades. I wept for those who died, I wept with frustration that I could do no more. I wept for my lost home and for my lost life.
The Lerouge men, great hulking brutes most of them, were all around us and they had dragged Mother to her feet and were binding her hands behind her.
"Run Hannah, run, save yourself."
They were upon me but I saw my chance and scrabbled out from under them and sprinted for the forest.
The men chased me and I only made fifteen or twenty metres before they were on me and one grabbed my shift and another grabbed my hair and they dragged me back into the firelight.
I was weeping and crying out and as I got close I heard one say to mother, "Tried to save your mongrel brat eh? Stupid bitch for that you die!"
"Nooooooooooooooooooooo," I screamed but he thrust forward with his bloody blade driving it between my mother's snowy breasts, the breasts that had suckled and nurtured me and she fell dead at my feet.
"Aaaaaaaggghhhhhh," I shrieked and grappled with his arm managing in my fury to force his blade back so that it drew blood from his cheek."
"Mongrel bitch," he shouted and drove the pommel into my forehead and I dropped like a stone.
When I recovered partial consciousness my hands were bound behind me and I was tied by the waist to a string of other women, the rope that connected us was tied to the girth strap of a horse and the raiders set off at a canter, we bruised and battered women running to avoid being pulled off of our feet as we left the ruin of our homes behind.
I am called Hannah.
Hannah the crossbreed. Sometimes Hannah the healer.
I was raised among the Leblanc. My mother was a great beauty and the daughter of a Leblanc chieftain. My father was Lerouge. A raider and a despoiler and he went out of my life after siring me.
My mother raised me despite the fact that to do so she went against all of the mores of the tribe.
Me, her little bastard crossbreed. Her mongrel. Coppery skinned, brown haired and yet blue eyed.
From early childhood I wanted to be a healer and my grandmother and her friends finally accepted me enough that they taught me the secrets of the healing arts. Even at that young age my thirst for knowledge was like an insatiable fire and by the age of eight I was an accomplished medicine girl.
I grew into my profession learning from every shaman and healer who passed amongst us. Sages from the tribes of the Schwarz came into contact with us from time to time and I pleaded to be allowed to work with these. I learnt the magic of certain concoctions of leaves and bark and herbs and their wondrous healing powers and I treated fevers and colics and the quinsy and cleaned out suppurating sores and wounds and watched with growing understanding as my medicines caused them to heal and disappear leaving flesh as pink and new as that of a child. I also dealt with the dead and dying, learning when I could do nothing for a person afflicted by age or dying before their time from illness or accident or the violence of battle. The shamans showed me how to learn by cutting inside the bodies of the dead and seeing for myself the amazing collection of organs and vessels that made a home of our bodies for our life spirit. I came to understand that we shared much in common with the animals and birds of the fields and woods and that I could increase my skills by studying those creatures as well.
I became very well known as a medicine girl and healer and people came from many far flung places to seek my advice. I gave it freely and asked for nothing in return. I was happiest when helping others.
And now it was all gone.
I staggered in my bonds as the raiders dragged us toward their world. I am not very big and not at all robust and many times the other women had to help me, half carrying me as I stumbled along, trying my hardest to keep up but sorely pressed to do so.
We travelled for six days and in that time they fed us only once a day and then with the scraps from their own meals. I recognised the symptoms of delirium amongst my fellow prisoners and realised that I was also displaying these, but there was absolutely nothing I could do to alleviate this.
And then we were there.
The village of the Lerouge.
We prisoners were freed from our bonds and I saw that like myself all of the other women were badly afflicted with rope burns and weeping sores. Our release from bondage was brief as we were herded into a slave hut and chained at the ankles to the filthy cots that lined the walls. Toileting was primitive and the meals consisted of a thing gruel and slices of thick coarse bread. We were put to work in the fields or the homes of our captors doing any task too menial or too filthy for anyone else.
After a week like this, a week in which my spirits sank to their lowest ebb and a week in which I exhausted myself by attending to the ills of my fellow prisoners every evening even though I was often faint with hunger and fatigue from days of relentlessly grinding toil, after this dreadful week we were all paraded on the morning of the eighth day and I understood that we were to be alloted to our new masters. We women prisoners, slaves actually, were arraigned before the assembled Lerouge and they moved amongst us inspecting, touching and feeling and trying to decide who was best for what. The same brute who had captured me what seemed like an eternity ago, grasped my hair and dragged me to one side.
"This crossbreed bitch is good for nothing more than a warrior's whore."
I tried to hide my utter misery and stood as proudly as I could alone where he had placed me.
"Surely she could clean our stables?" said a fat young woman.
"She deserves only to be used by the men," said the brute.
My head hung low and my eyes teared up.
"I'll take her for my woman."
I looked up and into the hawkish face of a young man only a few years older than me. A haughty expression could not disguise how good looking this bare chested, black haired, brown eyed warrior was.
"She's rubbish Shawn. Leave her to the men. She's crossbred!"
"Nevertheless she's mine. I claim her."
"Would you fight for her?"
The brute turned away mumbling and spat on my dress.
"What is your name girl?" said the one known as Shawn.
"They call me Hannah sir."
"Come then Hannah you are now my woman."
I followed him meekly as he led me away. I supposed it could have been worse.
Shawn took me to his hut on the northern outskirts of the village.
When he opened the door and led me inside I saw that his home, although sturdily built, was rather neglected and badly needed a thorough cleaning and tidying up. He stood there watching me as I looked around.
"I shall start with your home, cleaning and tidying."
"Hmmm," He looked at me with those hawkish eyes and a disdainful sneer. And then he smiled and it was as though the sun had broken through. A smile that promised much and revealed another man. Then the hawk was back.
"I shall leave you to it woman."
I smiled as sweetly as I could and nodded agreement.
He left and I found a broom and swept out the accumulated dirt of many months, I found a pail and filled it with water from the village well and then with old rags, of which there were plenty, I set to work washing down the walls and scrubbing the tables and chairs. I took the bedding from his bed and hung it to air whilst I similarly scrubbed out his bedroom. I cleaned the small kitchen, despairing at the lack of cooking utensils, but those that I did find I scrubbed and polished to utter cleanness.
I washed out some cloth I found and after drying it hung it to cover the small windows. I picked wild flowers and arranged them in pots in both the bedroom and living space. The hut comprised a living space with a fireplace and the kitchen and a separate bedroom. I hung makeshift drapes between the two. When I had finished I stood back and admired my handiwork. The place looked clean and smelt nice and the flowers brightened it and it looked cosy and comfortable. I hoped he would be pleased. I hoped he would smile at me again.
It was late afternoon and I had not eaten all day. What food there was was old, stale and looked quite unappetising. I was wondering what I could do when Shawn burst through the door.
I said, "I was...........................", Then the look on his face cut me short.
"The other women tell me you are a healer?"
"Come then, you are needed."
He grasped my sleeve and dragged me out and ran me back into the village to the largest of the huts. Inside it was smokey and close and crowded with people. A middle aged man stood holding a grey haired woman I thought she must surely be his wife and they both looked despairingly at me. On a table in the middle of the room a young boy lay trembling, a short spear protruding from his side. Shawn hissed in my ear, "Jon, the only son of Hatch and Mathilde has been injured in a stupid accident. He will die. Can you do anything?"
"I will try."
"Hatch is the village leadman and his son is his pride and joy."
Mathilde broke away and came to me taking my hands, "Can you help woman?"
"I can try. Someone must boil water and I want the bark of willow trees and I want the herbs of the mandrake and the fennel and mint and rosemary. And I want everyone out of here," Mumbling they started to leave, Hatch driving them. I held Mathilde's arm, "you may stay and you Shawn," I grabbed him as he was leaving.
When the room was clear I pulled the boy's bloody shirt off around the spear taking care not to move it. He was only a child but I realised that I was only maybe five years older. The boy whimpered and watched me from eyes filled with pain.
"See how the flesh around the spear is red and inflamed." Mathilde and Shawn peered at where I pointed, "We must get it out and we must treat the wound against infection. Infection kills. I shall not try to remove the spear until I can cleanse and treat the wound. Where is the hot water and where the herbs and bark?"
Shawn shouted at the door. I smoothed the child's hair while the things I had asked for were gathered. When I had them I started an infusion of bark and herbs and when I felt that the colour was right I asked Shawn to help me and with his strength to assist I eased the spear back and out of the wound. The hole was deep but the blood that flowed was red and I could smell no rottenness nor did I think that any of the vital organs were damaged. I used my infusion to wash out the wound and then while I had Mathilde feed the boy a mug of the same hot, healing brew I made a compress of the bark and herbs and having thoroughly washed the wound clear I packed it with the compress and then bound it tightly with strips of clean cloth.
"I hope that I was in time," I said to Mathilde.
Jon was sleeping although his sleep was restless and troubled. I walked slowly back to Shawn's hut with him leading me.
Inside he stopped and looked around.
"Hmmm you have cleaned well."
I smiled but I suddenly felt very tired.
"Will the boy live woman?"
"I hope so. And by the way my name is Hannah."
"Hannah you say woman." And then his face lit up in that smile and he came over to me and took me in his arms and kissed me full on the lips. I had not been kissed much and had never lain with a man and I was surprised, sort of shocked even to find that my lower tummy burst into a nice warmth and my nipples stiffened and poked through the thin fabric of my dress and Shawn said, "So my woman, my Hannah, Hannah the healer, what will you do for what ails your man?"
"I will make him supper."
"We will see."
I made the best supper I could from what was in the larder and Shawn thought it wonderful. I thought we need a big shopping spree. When it was over I cleaned away and scrubbed the dishes and put them ready for use next time and then Shawn led me into the bedroom. He had that thousand watt smile fixed in place. I stood shivering as he pulled my dress away and I kicked out of my panties and then he knelt before me and kissed my breasts, which were aroused, and my nipples thrust wantingly into his mouth and I was amazed at how my body seemed to know what I didn't. He kissed down my tummy and then his mouth and tongue were at my woman's cleft and the heat spread from my tummy to my groin and I groaned and then moaned as his tongue invaded me and then..........
"Come quickly woman."
Someone was battering at the door.
I pulled away and slipped my dress back on. Shawn, walking awkwardly, opened the door.
One of Hatch and Mathilde's slaves was at the door.
"The leadman wants the woman."
I followed her back to the big hut and when I got inside the boy Jon was sitting up on the bed awake and well and with no signs of the fevers I had feared. Mathilde grabbed me and hugged me. "He says he is hungry. He is well."
"He must rest," I said, "rest and sleep. I will make a new infusion and redress his wound."
"You have saved him."
"Let us see in the morning. If he shows no bad signs we will hope that he is better."
I brewed another infusion and repacked the wound and bandaged it and fed the boy herbal tea. When I had finished I walked back with Shawn. When we were back inside our own hut he said, "Now where were we?"
"Man, your woman is about to faint from fatigue. I am going to sleep."
He groaned and muttered and then kissed me and took me to bed.
The next morning the boy Jon was up and, although still very weak and in some pain and discomfort, was mending from his wound. Hatch and Mathilde were both very pleased although they found it difficult to show any gratitude to a slave woman.
My reputation as a healer had been relaunched and people stopped me to ask after certain ailments they or their loved ones were suffering. I told them all that I would see them when I had had an opportunity to replenish my healing balms and emoluments which had been destroyed during the raid in which I had been captured.
At home in Shawn's hut I worked in his fields and visited the nearby forests collecting herbs and bark for my medicine chest and seeds which I planted in small beds near the hut. I also visited the shop sellers in the village and obtained meats and vegetables and fruit and grains to stock our larder. I told the shop folk to collect their money from Shawn and determined that I would have to get a good fruit and vegetable garden of our own established.
I was frantically busy the whole day and arrived home to find Shawn waiting impatiently for his evening meal.
When that had been taken he again led me into the bedroom and removed my dress and I felt again the warm rush of desire that his touch inspired.
And for a second night just as we were getting going loud banging at the door interrupted us.
It was a boy from Hatch's household.
One of the slave women had been attacked and they feared she was dead.
I hastily dressed and went with the boy and Shawn down into the village. We went to the hut of the brutish man who had given me trouble twice before. His name was Jorg and when I entered his hut I found it filled with people including Hatch and one of the slave girls from my own village stretched out on the floor. She was a slender dishwater blonde known as Larrissa and it took me only a second to say that she was dead, her neck twisted and broken. I had Shawn help me and we lifted her from the floor and laid her out on the rough wooden table that served for meals.
"Her neck is broken," I said, palpating it gently so that all could see.
I stripped her filthy shift off and pointed to the contusions and bruises which covered her breasts and belly. I showed them the bite marks on her soft feminine limbs. And finally I showed them the tearing and bruising at her woman's slit where she had been greatly misused.
"This brute, this mindless savage," I said rounding on Jorg, "has beaten and battered and cracked this girl's neck. He is a murderer and killer of women."
"Filthy witch woman. Slave bitch, who are you to speak of me," Jorg rushed at me his hand swinging and I flinched and waited for his fisted blow to smash into my face.
"Enough," said Shawn and his hand gripped Jorg's wrist stopping him in mid stride. He bent Jorg's arm back and threw him to the floor.
"You have done enough damage for today Jorg."
I bent over the dead girl's body. "Lend me these girls," I indicated the slave who had summoned me and another and we will prepare this poor girl for burial."
"Let it be so," said Hatch.
Jorg thrust his face next to mine. "You will not always have Shawn to help you bitch and then I shall have you and it will take you a long time to die."
"Go away Jorg," I said, knowing I had made a bitter enemy, but too weary and saddened to argue or worry at this time.
The others left and the two girls and I laid out Larrissa and washed and cleaned her body and then I rubbed oils into her skin massaging them into her and feeling her soft flesh and rounded breasts and belly yielding under my hands. The other girls helped and between us we worked all over her poor broken corpse until she gleamed with scented oils and was shiny and smooth even in death. I used a winding sheet to bind her, starting from her feet and working up to her head. Bound into her cloth coccoon she retained her woman's shape and sadly I helped the two slave girls carry her into the main hut where we laid her under three lanterns until the following morning.
For a second night my coupling with Shawn was delayed.
We buried Larrissa the following day and after the funeral, before all of the assembled village Jorg pointed at me and shouted, "This woman is a witch and embodies evil. She must be destroyed."
Hatch turned to Shawn.
"What say you Shawn? Is your slave woman a witch?
"I say this," Shawn gazed directly at them and his arm draped over my shoulder, "this woman, this slave Hannah is no witch, she is a healer woman, as you well know Hatch and Mathilde, and as of now I take this woman Hannah as my wife and troth myself as her husband and from this moment forth any who accuse her, accuse me."
I snuggled back into his arms and the assembled villagers smiled. Jorg stamped away muttering to himself and then he turned and shouted back at me, "She is a witch and she will suffer and you Shawn would do well to look to your back!"
Shawn watched him leave.
"Now," he said to the assembly, "my wife has to prepare her medicines for tomorrow she starts work treating any who need her and for tonight, PLEASE, do not disturb us no matter what, for tonight I wish to bed my wife and she is in for a rough enough night as it is for after being stopped twice now I am becoming very frustrated."
They all laughed in great merriment.
That evening, good to his word, Shawn took me into the bedroom and stripped me naked and covered me with his kisses and I gazed in awed amazement at the huge and proud pillar of his arousal and I kissed it and sucked it and buried it in my mouth before he buried it inside me.
Again and again.
We slept little that night.