Hold True

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I nodded my head and realized he couldn’t see me. “Yeah. I know where England is.”

I looked forward too and saw that Rueben slowed his horse down and was waiting for us to catch up. When we drew even with him he pointed forward to the trees in front of us and explained. “The path will take us around those trees and we’ll be able to see the wall that surrounds the town.”  

“Good.” I whispered to myself.


~~~


After we rounded the corner the trees gradually thinned out.  I could see a 20 foot, grey, brick wall through the thinning trees. Clearing the trees the path lead to a wide dirt road which was also surrounded by the forest. Following the road we came to a long, dark wood, weathered drawbridge that was drawn over a wide moat. I could tell the moat was deep because the water was dark blue, so dark in fact it could be considered black. Crossing over the bridge I looked at the chains that were for raising and lowering it.  The chains were thicker than my waist and disappeared into holes in the brick wall.

I was speechless and wondering where the hell I was. One thing I knew for a fact was I’m far away from home.  If that’s what I were to call my cell and torture chamber. I pushed the thought away, I didn’t want to remember that place.

I looked up to the huge archway we were now passing under. There’s a hole at the very top of the archway and I could see the blue sky through it. Beside me were two giant metal gates and a thick wooden door just behind them.

The archway opened up and I could see hordes of people under and around cloth tents.  Under each tent there were tables filled with fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and flowers.  One area had a small chicken coop where you could buy live chickens.  We travel on the left side of the market area.  The first shop we passed I could hear metal clanking together. In front of the shop a guy was putting a sword into a coal pit and and pumping air on the fire. Another guy was hitting a glowing horse shoe with what looked and sounded like a very heavy hammer.  The second shop had to have been a clothing store or a place to buy cloth.  The third place smelled like alcohol and pipe smoke, must be a bar. A man came stumbling out and while the door was open I heard laughing,  yelling, and something I hoped was a belch. I gimised, looked away, and saw that behind the shops were little old fashioned houses that ran all the way to the 20 foot wall.

After we passed the bar Rueben led us through an opening in a 10 foot, grey, brick wall.  That’s when I spotted the main castle.  It was the same color of the walls and massive. There were windows all over in many shapes and sizes. I was too sore to look up so I was only able to see the first 3 floors of the building. Stairs lead up to a magnificent red door with golden design carved in the middle and on the outside edge. I looked to the right at a beautiful garden that ran along the right side of the structure and disappeared around the corner of the building. I spotted mounds of roses, tulips, daisies, daffodils, and many other flowers I didn’t know the names to. You could follow a red brick path which contained a small bridge that arched over a small rocky stream. The path lead to a white bench with green vines and small white flowers crawling all over it. Right next to the bench grew a tall apple tree with plump, green, apples almost ready to pluck.

The left side of the castle was wide and open with a few trees both large and small. There were worn out paths that led to small wood doors on the castle and some lead to an old worn out horse stall.

The big front doors of the castle opened up as Rueben dismounted his horse.  An old man with grey hair came running out the door.  He bowed to Rueben, grabbed the rope around the horse’s neck, and shuffled towards the stalls, the horse right on his heels.

Niles waited for Rueben to come help me of the horse then dismounted also.  As Rueben carried me up the steps Niles also led his horse to the stalls.  We entered the doors and I was yet again in awe of the beauty of this place.  

We were in a wide hall with maroon cloth tied to bricks that stood further out on the walls.  I bet if you untied them you would have to walk through curtain after curtain until you came to the magnificent staircase at the end. There were doors on each side of the wall parallel to each other. A maroon curtain separated each door.  Next to the doors were torches mounted on the wall.

Rueben carried me down the hall to the wide, rounded, marble staircase.  He turned right and walked around the stairs.  We came to two doors one lead to the right and one would take us forward. The right door had a wooden plaque that read, “Physician.”

Rueben didn’t open the door, I figured we were waiting for Niles. “This place is amazing.” I gushed.

Rueben looked me in the eye causing me to blush, I was thankful the blood I was covered in hid my blush.

“It is isn’t it.” He said still looking at me.  I hung my head embarrassed and focused on my nails.

I was glad when I heard someone running up behind us.  Rueben turned with me still in his arms as Niles skid to a stop.

“Could you get the door?” Rueben pleaded while looking to Niles.

“Yes sir.”  Niles bowed and walked around us to get the door.

Opening the door, he stood to the side, and bowed pointing into the room. Niles grinned at me when we went through the door.  

“My, my, what do we have here?”  An older man with white hair asked. He beckoned Rueben to a short wooden table and told him.“Just place her right there.” He ran to another room as Rueben carefully placed me on the table.  I could hear the older man rummaging through the room he just entered.  I looked around the room waiting for him to reappear.  

There were papers covering all available surfaces with vials and other objects laying on top. Books stacked on shelves along with jars of plants.  Hanging from the sealing were drying flowers, horses hair, and in one corner there were also pheasants.  

Both Rueben and Niles watched me as I took in my surroundings.  Niles had a look of wonder upon his face and Rueben looked confused.  

The door to what I guessed was a closet opened and the old man came out holding a old fashioned needle and syringe and a small glass vial in his hands.  He wet a rag in a bowl of steaming water and rang it out.

He sat the items down on the table next to me, grabbed my arm, and cleaned a section on my arm. “You don’t mind needles do you?” He asked as he brought the needle to my arm. “Now this is going to knock you out.  I need to clean your wounds... I think you’ll want to be sleeping through that.”

I nod my head in agreement, closed my eyes, and waited for the sharp pain of the needle.  All I felt was a little pinch.  I hate needles, well not needles per se, but I hate the fact that you wait for a horrible pain and get a little sting instead.  Then you're almost disappointed because you got yourself all pumped up and ready for something major.

After a minute the old man asked. “How’re you feeling?”

I grabbed my head which was starting to spin and answered. “Lightheaded.”

“Good, good.”

“How long is this going to take to pass through her system?”  Rueben wondered.

Slowly my eyes drifted closed and I didn’t get to hear the old man’s answer.

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