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bard of longrain

After the evening mass

(Vatican City, 1689)

On Sunday Father Lambert, finishing with evening mass, made haste to change into an ordinary Franciscan monk habit.

So far, he was quite sure, their secret life was safe, at least from those who mattered and might possibly interfere. What he needed though, was time…time to figure out how to keep his love safe, and not arouse suspicion from the Order or Fiammetta’s very powerful Piccolomini family.

Tonight, colder than most, Tim felt refreshed as he walked fast towards Fiammetta’s home, which lay some distance from the market. Feeling his pocket, he look forward to seeing Leonetto and Gian too. Contrary to what he’d always assumed, Leonetto and his older brother were not a burden or nuance, but rather gave him a deep sense of purpose. Never having known his own father well, being a father figure to her two young sons caused him to imagine how his father must have felt towards him, too. That made him happy.

Father Lambert

“Hello Father Lambert,” the wide eye Leonetto said, as the big Cardinal put off his friar’s habit, casting it on the iron hook on the wall. Curly hair cut, combed and sporting much better clothes, Fiammetta’s youngest look quite respectable.

Gazing around the house, Tim approved of Maria’s purchases. The furniture was nice, functional, but not too ostentatious. Under Fiammetta’s watchful eye, it looked like a home again, comfortable and complete. The walnut cabinet, in two sections, carved and ornate, a showcase piece, tied in nicely in with the dinner table and chairs. As always, Maria gave the Cardinal an exact accounting of monies spent, thanking him again for his generosity towards her and her family.

Kneeling down, Tim asked, “Young master, have you been a good boy?”

Nodding, the youngster said, “Yes sir, I’ve done my studies and helped Momma clean.”

“Well, that’s a good boy,” he said, grinning, as he removed a small cloth from his robe, saying, “share this with your brother, but don’t tell Momma, it’s quite sweet.”

Smiling ear to ear, the boy nodded in confidence, then ran to share his spoils with his older brother, Gian.

Fiammetta, where are you dear?

Standing again, Tim smelling something delicious, called out,”Fiammetta?”

“Tim, I’m in here,” she said.

Making his way to the kitchen, he found his love helping Maria with dinner. Looking over her shoulder, he said, “That smells delicious, I’m ravenous.”

Fiammetta recovered well in the last few weeks. Color returned to her cheeks with proper food and rest. Her heart, as well as her body, now radiated with a feminine vitality.

Playfully batting his hand away from a basket full of fresh rolls, she said, “It’s stuffed pork with a garlic sauce, Love, but please sit down, it’s almost ready.”

The meal, made with care and patience, which Fiammetta and Maria both possessed in abundance, tasted heavenly, making Tim feel full and content. He actually preferred home cooking to the delicacies of the papal court, for it reminded him of his youth, when a slice of fresh bread and some cheese was a real treat.

The boys to bed

After dinner, Fiammetta whispered something in Maria’s ear, bringing a smile to her face. After that, Fiammetta called the boys to make ready for bed, kissing both on their cheeks, bidding them goodnight.

As soon as the children were gone, Tim drew Fiammetta towards him, kissing her passionately. Feeling his strength and the warmth of his desire, she melted into his embrace. After a few such lingering moments, Fiammetta sighed as Tim held her close to his chest on the divan. Her heart racing, the taste of him still on her lips, she asked asked demurely, “Tim, if you’re tired, you could stay the night…with me.”

Tim looking at the candle flicker on the table said, after a slight hesitation, “I want to…” then trailed off.

“Maria is with the boys, I promise they won’t disturb us.”

“No, no, my love… it’s not that I don’t want to be with you, it’s…”

“What then, my love?”

Unaccustomed to being vulnerable to anyone, Tim felt the urge to make an excuse to leave. Emotions, he thought, always made him feel uncomfortable. Realizing he could no longer avoid this particular conversation, he said, stoking her golden hair, “Fiammetta, all I do is dream of you, being with you in every way. But when it comes to the reality of it, I find myself… unsure…of …how to please you.”

After a moment’s silence, Fiammetta replied, “Tim, I love you. I want you with all of my heart. You do please me.”

I’ve always kept my vows

Looking away, Tim finally confessed softly, “I’ve always kept my vows, Fiammetta, I’ve never been – with a woman.”

Eyes twinkling with sudden understanding, Fiammetta repeated, “…never?”


Considering for a moment, she replied, “It’s okay my love, you don’t have to do anything, all I want is for you to hold me.”

Relieved, Tim said, I would like nothing more. “I can do that,” Tim thought to himself as he kissed her forehead.

Rising, the Italian beauty picked up the candle holder and began to move towards her bedroom. Her feminine figure, highlighted dimly by the flickering candlelight, took Tim’s breath away.

His shyness suddenly overcome with longing, Tim stood.

Turning her head slightly with a smile, Fiammetta said, “Come hold me, dear.”

Thank you, I don’t need anything right now

(Realm of Elysia)

Robyn and Hope, distracted by friends they hadn’t seen in years, left Bren to her own devices with Fransin. Donning a blue shirt, the young man gazed inquisitively at Bren. Returning his gaze, Bren looked up into his kind eyes, feeling no discomfort at his attention.

“No, Fransin, I’m quite alright, I don’t need anything right now, but thank you for asking.”

Smiling broadly, he said, “No worries, Brenzel, any friend of Robyn’s is a friend of mine. If you ever do, I’d be happy to help.”

Hope, coming back over, said, “Bren, I’m leaving, Robyn will take you from here.”

“Ok, that sounds good. Have fun, dear!”

As she skipped off, she said, “Of course I will, I’m going to see the animals!”

As Hope disappeared into the crowd, Robyn said, “There’s lots to do Bren, we can stay here awhile or explore somewhere else.”

“I’d like to see the mysteries,” Bren said.

“Sure, we can go there. It’s at the upper end of the festival, a bit of a walk.”

Then, taking one last look at the muscled back of the young archer, Bren set off again, venturing deeper into the Seven Days of Wonder.

What type of stories?

Looking over her map, Bren noted that the story area was on their way to the mysteries. At lunch, one of fresh salad and some sort of sweet dish reminiscent of plumb pudding, Brenzel asked Robyn, “Have you ever been to the story section?”

“Oh, yes, many times. You’d like it.” Robyn said.

“What’s it like?”

“Well, it’s a bit hard to explain. Story telling, in Elysia, is something of an art form. The best tellers of stories, Bards, come from all over. Its different than what you might think, though. You really have to experience it to get what I’m talking about.”

“Why type of stories are they?”

“Depends, some tell history, others adventures, others romance, or funny yarns. Some are poets. You really never know until you get there. You have to find the right one.”

Struggling to keep up

Something was beginning to bother Bren more and more, yet she couldn’t put her finger on it exactly. Everything around her seemed so perfect, so lovely, yet she felt weary of not understanding and always struggling to keep up.

Looking a bit put out, Bren, shrugged, saying, “I guess you’re right, I’ll just have to see what happens.”

“Quite, but don’t worry, you’ll do fine.”

“You’re coming with me, right?”

“Well, only if I’m supposed to hear the same story. Otherwise I’ll meet you back outside when we’re done.”

Finishing their meal, they thanked the cook again and began winding through the massive crowds towards the Story area. Bren had never seen so many beautiful people in one place before. Everyone seemed to be a different type of stunning.

Do you fancy a tale?

Upon reaching the entrance, Bren marveled because, instead of booths, the story area looked like an ancient forest with two massive trees forming it’s entry.

A tall, beautiful woman stood and saluted them. Her penetrating eyes were of hazel, with long, full eyelashes. Curly brown hair hung in ringlets just above her shoulders. A small piercing, one of the few Bren had seen since coming to Elysia, graced the side of her nose.

“Greetings, kind travelers, I’m the Gate Keeper. Do you fancy of tale?”

“Yes, please, we both would,” Robyn said.

“Come forward, then, let’s have a look.”

Robyn stepped forward first and, upon inspecting her ears, the Gate Keeper declared confidently, “Poetry! Go to the end of the forest and ask for Tesse, she’ll be waiting for you.”

Let’s take a look at your ears

Then motioning Bren near, she bent down and observed her ears carefully, commenting, “Curious, I’ve not seen the like! Where do you hail from, dear?”

“Eden,” Bren said.

“Well, that is certainly a long way to travel for a story. We must find you the perfect one.”

Looking at her other ear, the Gate Keeper declared, “Of course, it’s obvious, you seek knowledge and understanding. There’s only one storyteller for you. Go straight and to the right, ask for the Bard of Longrain.”

Kissing Bren, Robyn hurried off into the forest while Bren suddenly felt quite alone. The woman, sensing Bren’s unease, put her arm around her shoulders, saying, “I’ll take you to him if you’d like.”

“Yes, please.”

Please, tell me a story

For Bren, as a child, walking into the forest was always a thrill, yet she never went too far, fearing she’d not find her way home. Now though, it was unreasonable to think she’d become lost, but that same uneasiness surfaced.

“I’m Brenzel, what’s your name?” Bren asked as they walked.

“Ada,” the gracious woman replied. “All this must seem terribly different to you, being from Eden. I can’t remember ever meeting someone from that realm before.” Ada observed.

“I’m a hunter, a Seraph Hunter, do you know what that is?”

“No, I don’t think I’ve heard that term before. What is it you do?”

“Well, as I understand it, I help people from earth, or Eden as you call it, make good choices when they are at risk. I move throughout time,” Bren explained.

“My word, through time?” Ada said.

“Yes, to different places where I meet people in trouble and help them.”

“Sounds very important, no wonder your ears told me to send you to Longrain. Oh, we’re here. He’s inside. Just sit quietly and say, “please, would you tell me a story.””

The Bard of Longrain

bard of longrain

Walking through some loose vines with soft, pastel pink flowers, Brenzel entered a small clearing where a lone man sat on a stool in a brown hooded cloak. Above, an opening in the canopy allowed a shaft of light to shine down upon him. Taking a lone seat a few feet opposite, Bren looked around, thinking that if she didn’t know better, she’d assume she was deep in some ancient forest.

In the silence, Bren said, “Please, would you tell me a story?”

“Of course, Brenzel of Eden,” the monkish looking figure said, as he began to look up.

Then, as he removed his hood, Bren gasped. There before her sat an intense looking young man with a short, reddish beard and two pointed elf-like ears.