Chapter 9: Amos's story part 1
“What exactly is the point of this?” Ellie asked an eyebrow raised as Nath lifted her up into the saddle. she was wearing what Nath could only call a long tunic, that was deep blue with gold trim, which went partway down the thigh and was split up the side. The tunic also had a corset of brown leather that covered her mid-chest and a thick brown belt with gold highlights that went around her waist and clasped low on her hips. Under the tunic, she had a pair of what he would have called shorts that were rather more tight than he was expecting in this culture, not that he was complaining. And around her shoulders was a greyish blue riding cloak, clasped with a single golden broach.
As a result, he was able to see the extent of the changes her deviancy had brought about to her body quite well, just as she had told him her legs were human down to mid-thigh, but then there was a transition, and bellow that point she had the legs of some great hunting cat like a mountain lion or something. The only thing he could really think of in his old world that really matched legs like that were the legs from greek Satyrs, but he was pretty sure those were only male and had goat legs and not the elegant feline appendages she had. He could also see that the fur on her arms went all the way to just past the elbow, “Here,” he said, handing up the wrapped cloth that he had prepared with the aid of the cooks this morning. “Hold this,” he said, and she grabbed it and began to unwrap it, “Wait!” he said and she jumped slightly at his shout, not that he had shouted in anger or anything, just that he had shouted. “We don’t open that just yet,” he said flashing a smile at her.
“Okaaay,” Ellie said looking at him from on top of the horse, “why are we riding the same horse? I can ride you know?”
“I know,” he said as he placed his foot in the stirrup and hoisted himself up and into the saddle behind her, and leaned forward, wrapping one arm around her midriff and pulled her tight against his chest. “But this is more fun,” and he had to resist a laugh as he felt her reflexively stiffen against him.
Still, she seemed to not hate it, which was a plus in his book, and he himself rather enjoyed the feeling of her pressed up against him. “So, does this have anything to do with the ungodly hour at which you woke up this morning?” She asked, and he laughed, apparently it was not normal to wake up before the sun rose in the sky, but he was a salaryman, or rather he had been and his alarm had gone off at 4:30 every morning for the past twenty years or so, which made it a deeply ingrained habit, and one he doubted he would be able to break anytime soon, the lack of an alarm clock notwithstanding. This morning he had woken up and once his eyes had adjusted to the near pitch-black dark of predawn and looked over at the sleeping Elianora that had up to that point been curled up against his side. At some point in the night she had rolled over so that her face had been pressed against his chest, and one of her legs had found its way between his own.
Working slowly he had extracted himself from her tangled limbs, and his smile had definitely grown when she reached out with a sleepy fumbling hand in an attempt to grab onto him somehow. It was invigorating to wake up with a woman sleeping beside you, even when his marriage had grown stale he had felt that way most mornings, there was just something nice about waking up next to another warm body. After he had extricated himself and gotten dressed he had made his way to the kitchen, which at most points in time would be fully staffed by cooks and maids and the like, but at this early hour was barren aside from one cook that likely had drawn the short stick in the lots or something. The man had been quite surprised when Nath had walked into the kitchen, he had hopped up off of the chair he had been napping in and Nath had waved him off when he attempted to get something for Nath to eat. Instead, Nath had gone to the cold storage area of the kitchen with the cook hovering at his shoulder, and in the icebox, as it was actually a large walk in box filled with solid cubes of ice that had been imported, he had found some ham and sliced several good portions of it, and had grabbed cheese, a head of lettuce, onion, and some sorrel leaves. Sadly he couldn't find any tomatoes, and he had inquired about them, it would seem that the tomatoes were still native only to the south American region, an area in this world known as Dennland. He had decided that when he got better settled in he would have to see about importing some of the plants to grow in the garden that had been planted out back. Another thing that was either not known, or at least not known here was mustard, which was the purpose of the purple sorrel leaves, when ground in a mortar and pistol then put into a cheesecloth and strained they made a slightly bitter sauce of sorts that worked quite nicely as a substitute.
Apparently, the idea of a sandwich hadn’t really latched on, instead, portable food often took the form of small pies that were baked to be handheld, both of the sweet and savory varieties. So the cook had watched with interest as Nath had constructed the sandwiches and then packed them away along with some wine, and a mortar and pestle in order to make the sorrel sauce, once they had gotten to a spot.
Elie had come to see what he was doing sometime after what had to be eight o’clock and had found him going through the morning exercises. After cleaning himself up the two of them had eaten breakfast together. Which had consisted of porridge with bits of bacon and blueberries. After which he had spent the time with her, exploring the house they now shared, which was something neither had done since they had turned in so late the night before.“If you are not going to tell me what is in the sack will you at least tell me where we are going?”
“No idea,” he said conversationally as he touched his heels to the flanks of his paint, a paint he had taken to calling Prior Maborel’s paint, which had baffled everyone as they had no idea who this Prior Maborel was, and this horse was clearly Nath’s not his. “I will know the spot when I get there,” he said with a shrug and he saw her lean forward and then look back over her shoulder to get a good look at him one eyebrow raised. “What?” he asked with a laugh.
“This is just not something you normally do,” she said.
“And how would you know that? You have only known me for a single day after all,” she opened her mouth and then closed it again.
“This is, confusing for me, and hard to wrap my head around, you have to realize I knew you for years, and yet, here I am feeling like I know nothing like you are a stranger wearing Nath’s face,” that was understandable, in fact, Nath didn't even know if he himself would have recognized the person he was in the process of becoming, and he was unsure where that change would take him and where he would wind up, but he was interested to find out.
One of the things he was planning on changing and was hoping to implement in his life was to actually be more active in his marriage this time around. Sure, Catherine had cheated on him, and Susan had decided that he was more wed to his job and not her, her words there, he was pretty sure that at least part of the issue was him, his father had always, and Nath meant always taken his mother out to eat on a date night or just, in general, paying attention to her. At the time he had thought he was doing enough for his marriage, he was after all bringing home money and was working himself to exhaustion in order to provide a good life for his wife and son. In hindsight it was apparent he was sinking into the familiar to avoid the responsibilities of being a husband and a father, he had never been neglectful, but he had never really been attentive.
Hindsight was twenty twenty and all that.
This time he was going to do his best, after all, the third time was the charm, or at least he was going to make it so. Starting with today, today was his first date with Elianora, even if she might not know it, and without movies or restaurants, he had opted for a picnic. For a fall day, it was perhaps the perfect weather, hovering somewhere near sixty-five or so, with nary a could in the sky. It took something like a half-hour or so of casual riding to find a spot he thought was just right, using the horse he trampled down some of the higher grass and then got off, helping Ellie down and letting the horse wander off some distance to graze. This was about the most picturesque place he had ever seen, It was a hill atop a knoll and crowning it was an old cedar tree, tall and twisted but providing shade, it was also the only tree for what had to be a half-mile or so in any direction. He took the sack from her and laid it out on the ground, unfolding it and setting out the food, and sat down on one corner of it.
“We came out here to eat?” She asked, and gave him a strange look.
“And to talk, and just generally enjoy the weather,” he said with a shrug and padded the spot next to himself and she walked over and sank down to her knees on the cloth. “It is called a picnic, it's normally reserved for two people dating or families,” he said with a shrug, though if he was being honest it could be literally anyone that you went on a picnic with.
“Dating?” she asked, and he mentally slapped himself, he had slipped up some, used some lingo from his own world that would be hard to explain where he had heard it.
“Courting, its another word for courting, read it in a book I am pretty sure, along with this picnic, it sounded nice so I wanted to try it out,” he shrugged and she seemed to look at him for only a second before simply opting to go with it.
“So, what exactly does a courting couple do on such picnics?”
“Well, as I previously stated they eat and talk, so, with that in mind, tell me about your childhood,” he said as he sat the sorrel leaves into the mortar and pestle and started grinding them into a paste.
”Our childhood,” she said softly and he looked up at her, the sad look was on her face, but she seemed to square her shoulders and push forward, “Your father and mine are, or rather were good friends, as of late that friendship has been stressed, but that is neither here nor there,”
“Is that my fault?” Nath asked, and Ellie shook her head vigorously.
“No, that is Amos’s fau-” she paused her eyes widening as she said the name, a name that he had never heard before, and one that caused him to look at her, or at least the name and the pause was enough to make him look at her.
“Who is Amos?” he asked casually, or at least he attempted to ask casually, he didn't like the way she had just broken off the sentence after saying that name.
“Ah, can we talk about this later?”
“We could,” he said as he did so her shoulder seemed to relax, only to stiffen on hearing his next words. “But I would really like it if we didn’t,” the words were blunt, perhaps even a bit harsh, but Nath didn't feel as though he was being cruel, something told him this was an important topic and one that he needed to address with her.
“Fine,” she said looking into his eyes and apparently seeing something she didn't want to argue with. “Amos was your older brother,” she said, and while that was a shock, seeing as he had no memory of an older brother, the word that seemed to catch his attention most was the word was as if she could read his mind she went on speaking and clarified that point. “Amos was six years older than you, and he committed an act of treason against the kingdom of Vinlaas, and as such was punished,” she paused, and Nath felt his mind fitting the pieces of the puzzle together.
“Your father is the Viscount, and the punishment for treason is death isn't it?” he asked softly.
“Yes,” she said softly...