They had been on the road for six days, but his first thought was, when seeing his hometown – he needed groceries. He hadn’t sent word ahead and he knew his tiny little housekeeper didn’t have much in the pantry. Carrots, potatoes perhaps, spice and herbs, but hardly anything meat-like and oh did he grave for a juicy piece of lamb!
“Your pet is sure to surprised!” the older man in their six-man pack said with a grin.
He frowned, but didn’t say anything. He hated, when his men called her that and they knew it, too, but never stopped.
On the first time, that was what the woman looked like, when he picked her up from the village two days walk from the town. The whole village was destroyed and their chief ordered the living to be brought in, place, where they could be watched over. She had been one of them, shivering most of the time they were on the road, despite it was warm spring. They hadn’t spoken a word the whole time and he doubt it would have mattered much if he had said anything. He didn’t know, who she had lost and even if he did, explained the cruel rules life held over the game of life, she hardly would have understood. He’d given her his coat, just placed it over her shoulders and fastened it around her waist with her own belt.
Coming to the town wasn’t much better than slavery for the poor people. There were only six dozens of them here, but it changed little for the six brought back from the village. There was always need for servants. His chief needed slaves. After reaching to his door, he couldn’t bring himself to put her in that position and clamed the girl for himself. Easy – he was his second in demand and after loosing his promised bride he needed someone to keep his place clean.
That was two years ago.
“So will be your wife- I fear she’ll have little to know you by when she sees your furry face!”
“You could use some magic, Sar,” said the tall man on his right, “turn his hair young again.”
“Only if it’ make him more pleasant.” The man on his left uttered
Laughter coming from the old man was warm and tired. They continued in silence, only the sound of horses mixing in the sounds of the field.
They all knew magic, but he used it scars. The world was crazy enough to play around with it.
He left his men half an hour later, stopping by the butcher’s and getting a healthy piece of lamb. It was expensive, but the day was worthy of celebrating. They had been victorious and lucky and each of them very happy for seeing their families again. He would be too, hadn’t she been the only one and he doubted she was waiting him either.
He stopped by their small two level house on the edge of the town, put his horse back in the stable, fed him and then went back. He stopped by the front door and glanced up.
Their place was simple. He could have afforded more, but they didn’t seem to need it. His father had built it, when he was a boy, it had seemed big back then, but now, after his parent’s death and him growing up, it was simply small. Especially small for his huge size. Two bedrooms upstairs and a kitchen – that was it.
The chimney was nicely smoking and the small window next to the door was warmly lit.
And fury was flying around in there as if hell had broken loose. He frowned, watching her passing the door and hearing wooden plates fall.
He pushed the door open, quietly standing on the door, observing the situation.
The young woman hadn’t noticed his arrival, searching something from the cupboard, where she kept the breads. Everything was tossed out, mess piling up from floor to ceiling flour mixed with honey and herbs.
“Moria?” he was close being speechless – why would she do something so stupid as destroying their month worth supplies?
The woman stopped on spot and flew around, batting her long lashes and immediately brushing her wild hair back in long lost braid leaning against her shoulder.
“Have you gone mad?” He wanted to yell, but was too angry to form voice strong enough to roar.
“No! And where the hell have you been? You were only to bring some… lamb!”
He could have sworn he heard her wrong – he had been away over a month!
“Your not worth the penny you bring in! Always out drinking!” she sniffed the air, close to crying. “Ever think what I think about this, huh?”
His mind went blank.
“Exactly what do you think then?”
He took a seat on his chair, which usually was sitting close to fire, but was now in the other end of the room, tossed pass the table under the other tiny window. His voice had fall an octave, but she didn’t seem to notice the warning tone and rolled on with her insults.
This wasn’t right. This wasn’t her Moria, the sweet looking woman, who always kept her kitchen pitch clean. It always smelled of clover, too. Why wasn’t it this time? How long had it been since she was here? Her walk was different, too angled to belong to her and the way she now stood there was odd.
“Who are you?” he asked.
The woman before him snorted. “Who do you think I am? I’m Moria!”
He put the lamb on the table, her eyes followed his hand, missing the other one charging his crossbow.
“Cut the crap, you’re not Moria. Who are you?”
Her face seemed to draw in the cold light from the open door and she changed into blond, tall, fairy like woman. Fashty. Chief’s sister and his long lost bride. He felt stirring inside, facing her again over a year.
He reminded himself – he left her. He hated liars and the woman knew nothing else but webbing him between his lovers and all the lies to hide them. No, she was not his dream girl. Never had been, but he couldn’t force himself to refuse the chief before he got his evidence.
“Now that we can talk face to face…” she started, but was cut short with crossbow pointed at the middle of her forehead.
“Where is she?”
She smiled, like enjoying how the great warrior had no idea where his darling housekeeper was.
“Where a mouse should be? On the floor, probably hiding somewhere…”
Shit. This was not how he wanted to spend his first night at home. Searching a mouse between his bedroom walls. The house was rotten with mice, it would’ve taken a week to find her.
“Wow.” That brought him back to life and he fixed his position of the crossbow. “Never seen you lost for words!”
His hand kept steady. “This isn’t.” he reminded her. “Go home!”
She shrugged, but obeyed.
Before closing the door he turned for a moment. “She has you under her tiny palm, Sar.”
He let his hand fall and made his usual movement to call in the rats to clean it up. It took him only a second to realize that would bring her there too. He watched them run and snack on various things, when he suddenly noticed small white eared mouse climbing over the others and he grabbed after it, raising her out of the pack.
“I should leave you like this,” he murmured, “you would be so much easier to handle.” He scrubbed her under her chin for a moment, cleaning the tiny bits of honey from there and looked in her grey eyes.