Wednesday, February 13, 2013

PART 1, NICOLAE'S ESCAPE: Chapter 1 (UNEDITED) *Mildly Explicit*

If you're just catching up, read the FULL PROLOGUE, Part 1-4 and Conclusion UNEDITED and PART 1, NICOLAE'S ESCAPE: First Interlude (UNEDITED) *Explicit* before reading Chapter 1. 

JULY, 1844

Nicolae’s dreams of Eloisa had started the second night after he and Sebastian escaped into Transylvania’s forest.  The two boys had gone through the forest, following the creek without stopping until the second night just as Nicolae had planned.  They had found some brush to lay down under, both exhausted from almost twenty four hours of hiking through the woods, only having stopped three times since their departure.  If it had only been Nicolae alone, he would likely have only made one rest stop.  But he had Sebastian with him and he did understand the fact that his younger brother needed sustenance more than he did. 

The first night in the woods, Sebastian had tried to convince Nicolae to tell him about what was happening as they stopped briefly to eat a meal of small pieces of stale bread and water from Nicolae’s small flask.  But Sebastian’s older brother had simply looked at the younger boy and with his dark eyes gleaming in the moonlight, firmly said, “Sebastian, you wanted to stop and eat.  So eat.  And hurry up.”
Sebastian dejectedly obeyed, eating his stale bread as quickly as he could.  He could sense Nicolae growing more impatient and anxious by the second.  But what really bothered Sebastian was Eloisa.  The younger boy was hardly familiar about the types of feelings grown ups had for each other, but he understood how much Eloisa meant to Nicolae.  He had seen them sneak away together several times.  At first, they would see one another whenever they could during the day and sometimes early evening.  Sebastian liked Eloisa, though he couldn’t help feeling embarrassed and even slightly repulsed the day he had gone looking for Nicolae and came across him and Eloisa kissing behind a large tree near the woods.  But Eloisa had always been nice to Sebastian and Sebastian was actually glad for Nicolae that he and Eloisa had found eachother.  But then, after maybe a few months, Nicolae had begun to leave the bunk late at night.  Sebastian would sometimes wake up to the sound of Nicolae getting out of bed and would pretend still be asleep as his older brother try to sneak out as quietly as he could.  Sebastian would then wake up again a few hours later to the sounds of Nicolae returning from wherever he had been.  Sebastian did notice a change in his older brother.  Since the sneaking out at night had begun, Nicolae seemed to consistently be in a good mood.  There was also a difference in the way Nicolae and Eloisa behaved around one another.  They actually seemed even closer than before, something Sebastian didn’t think was possible. 
Sebastian couldn’t help his curiosity and decided to follow Nicolae one night.  Sure enough, Nicolae was meeting up with Eloisa.  Sebastian stood at a safe distance as he watched his older brother and Eloisa embrace before joining hands and heading off to the woods away from their village.  Sebastian hesitated, feeling a little guilty for following them, but he also wanted to know where Nicolae had been going.  He ran in the direction he had seen Nicolae and Eloisa go in, as fast as his legs could carry him. 

The forest was dark and Sebastian had lost track of the direction Nicolae and Eloisa had gone in.  He had gotten a little lost, but like Nicolae, Sebastian knew the woods fairly well and was able to find his way back to a more familiar path.  It was then that Sebastian had seen what appeared to be a campfire in a small clearing behind some brush.  He had stopped and listened, hearing the sound of fire snapping accompanied by two voices Sebastian recognized.  He crept his way toward the light of the fire knowing that he would see Nicolae and Eloisa.
Why am I doing this? Sebastian had wondered to himself, they probably just want to be alone.  And what if they’re kissing again? 
Sebastian grimaced at that last thought, but he continued toward the fire’s glow and what he would see in the clearing would be enough for him to have a difficult time looking his older brother and Eloisa in the eyes over the next week.  Nicolae and Eloisa were by the fire.  Sebastian saw them on the other side of the fire from where he stood.  They were entwined together in the most intense embrace Sebastian had ever seen them in.  Sebastian could see that Nicolae wore only his trousers and was sitting on the ground with a blanket spread under him.  Eloisa was naked and sitting against Nicolae in his lap with her legs intertwined around him.  Their lips were locked and they appeared to be devouring one another like two ravenous animals.  Sebastian shut his eyes as Eloisa tilted her head back giving Nicolae access to her neck and chest.  The younger boy turned away, feeling his face flushing in the darkness.  He ran back through the woods eager to get back to the bunk where he leapt back onto his cot and threw the one blanket he had over his head.  Sebastian fell into an uneven sleep, only to be awoken when he heard Nicolae returning.  Sebastian kept his eyes tightly shut as he heard his brother get into his cot to get maybe an hour’s sleep before he would need to wake up again to go work in the fields.  But as embarrassing as that moment had been for Sebastian, he understood how deep the feelings that Nicolae and Eloisa had for one another ran. 

As he ate up the last of his stale piece of bread, he considered asking Nicolae again about why Eloisa was not with them.  But Sebastian knew better than to push his brother further.  They continued through the rest of the night and into the early morning as the sun rose and brought light into the forest.  Night’s black veil was lifted to reveal the green foliage.  The small screeches of the bats and the mournful cries of owls were replaced by the more cheerful chirping of the morning birds.  It was a much welcomed change for Sebastian as he continued along side of his brother who maintained a silent stance for most of the journey. 
They continued to follow the creek, stopping two more times before dark and finding a discrete cluster of brush to spend the night in.  They would continue on this way over the next two weeks. 

There would be a couple times over those two weeks when Sebastian would awaken as he had the nights Nicolae would sneak out of the bunk to be with Eloisa.  But this time, he would awaken to see Nicolae sitting by the creek’s bank looking off into the night sky, lost in an intense thought or memory.  Another time, he had woken to the sound of his older brother talking in his sleep.  And of course, Nicolae would speak the name of the only girl he ever could love.

The night was Nicolae’s sanctuary.  It was a time to disappear, offering temporary escape from his existence. 
Nearly two weeks had gone by since Nicolae had taken Sebastian from their village and escaped into the woods.  He wasn’t able to bring a whole lot of supplies, but knew how to make use of what the wilderness had to offer them and he would be able to stretch what they did have to buy them at least another week or two.  Nicolae lay awake, his mind racing as he stared up at the night sky.  The older Ganoush brother was accustomed to sleepless nights as he and Eloisa had risked many to be with one another.  Two weeks ago, the night had been a time he and Eloisa could create a world in which only they existed.  They would leave their village and disappear to the woods, into their own universe where they were not slaves but simply two souls connected to one another. 

Nicolae had begun to plan leaving Romania about a year prior to the fateful night in June.   As he worked in the fields during the day, he would plot his approach to how he would take Eloisa and Sebastian out of Romania and to a seaport.  Nicolae had started sharing his plans with Eloisa a couple months after.  Eloisa had responded with enthusiasm to Nicolae’s idea of escape and they would often talk of the plans while lying together after winding down from a passionate tryst.
Nicolae now looked up passed the treetops and into the starry sky.  A summer breeze crawled over him, pushing strands of his wavy black hair into his eyes.  Nicolae raked them out of his face as his mind wandered back to a rainy night two months ago.  Nicolae and Eloisa had gone to the empty shed at the back of their village instead of their place in the woods.  The shed was used for storing tools and was rarely opened at night.  Nicolae had moved an old, discarded mattress he had found in the cellar of one of his master’s homes.  Nicolae had managed to set it aside and, with the help of some friends, smuggle it over to the shed one night (and as expected, his master and master’s family did not notice or care about the missing mattress).  The mattress sat inside the shed against a wall surrounded by a few tools and allowed Nicolae and Eloisa another place to go during rainy or cold weather.  Nicolae’s eyes closed as images of him and Eloisa floated over him, carried by the breeze that enveloped his body.

“I just want to be your wife,” Eloisa said. 
They lay beside one another on a blanket covering the old mattress with only a dim lantern giving them enough light to make love by.  The rain pattered above them onto the shed’s roof and every so often, a soft roll of thunder from somewhere far off could be heard.
Nicolae tightened his embrace around the girl who lay with her slender limbs wrapped around him before saying, “You are.”
“I know…” Eloisa replied, her voice trailing off. 
Nicolae understood what Eloisa had meant as he also wished for a time he would be able to live freely as Eloisa’s husband.
 “It won’t be too much longer,” Nicolae assured her, kissing the silky black hair on the top of her head.
Eloisa picked her head up from Nicolae’s chest and softly touched his lips with hers.  He returned her kiss as he let his hands trail down to the small of her back.  Nicolae let out a soft moan as Eloisa’s lips moved down his neck to his collarbone.  She stopped suddenly when she got down to his chest.
“I hate that they do this to you,” she said, gingerly touching a welt from a whip lashing Nicolae had received two days earlier. 
“I hate that Dimitri thinks he has right to you,” Nicolae said, feeling anger begin to boil inside him. 
“It’s my fault,” Eloisa said choking back sobs.
Nicolae frowned, taken aback.  “Why would you say that?”
Eloisa paused before saying, “You went after Dimitri after...”
“Eloisa, that spoiled little pansy should consider himself fortunate I didn’t kill him,” Nicolae answered.

Nicolae re-opened his eyes as the incidents that had occurred two days prior to that rainy night crept their way back to him.  The incident that would start the chain reaction that would bring about the final event leading to Nicolae taking Sebastian and fleeing for their lives in the middle of the night. 
Dimitri was the son of their slavemaster, Anton Alexanderescu.  Dimitri was the same age as Nicolae.  He had also been the reason behind the most brutal whip lashings Nicolae would endure before being sent to a solitary confinement cell for two days.  Despite Dimitri’s betrothal to the daughter of a prominent Austrian aristocrat family, he had made his desire for Eloisa and wanting to keep her as his mistress very clear.  To say that Nicolae had found such a thing insulting was a gross understatement and seeing how Dimitri’s lustful leering and propositioning upset her only escalated Nicolae’s hatred toward his master’s son. 
Nicolae normally worked in the field and would sometimes sneak by the Alexanderescu Castle where Eloisa was a houseservant to catch glimpses of her.  But on that particular day, he hadn’t been able to see her and he would later know why.  When she didn’t return to the village that early evening, a worried Nicolae had gone to search for her.  He knew the Master Alexanderescu’s area well and if needed, he knew where he could slip unnoticed through the gate.  But Nicolae wouldn’t need to go far to find her.  He had gone to look in the shed first and would there discover a terribly shaken Eloisa.  She was curled up on the floor, sobbing and shaking almost uncontrollably.  Her blouse and skirt had been torn and her hair had been disheveled.  He had run over to her demanding to know what happened.  At first, Eloisa shook her head and that was when Nicolae noticed a bruise forming on the side of her face and a small amount of blood on her inner thighs.  He again begged Eloisa to tell him how she ended up as she was.  She was only able to utter out Dimitri’s name; but it was enough for Nicolae to understand and send him into a blind, fiery rage.  He barely heard Eloisa’s protests as he started for the castle on the hunt for Dimitri. 
Anger pulsed through Nicolae as he slipped through the gate and into the castle.  He had found Dimitri in one of the castle’s dens, practicing his fencing.  He was facing away from where Nicolae entered the room.

Nicolae stood in the shadows, biding his time as an unsuspecting Dimitri fenced alone in front of the fire that roared in the large, stone fire place.  Thoughts of revenge and murder took over his mind.  There were so many ways he could kill him.  It would be so easy to just go up behind him, snap his neck, throw him in that fire, and slip out the way he came.  No one would ever have to suspect a thing…
Nicolae began moving forward toward Dimitri, passing the fine weaponry that hung on the wall.   Nicolae seized the unsuspecting young heir by his throat along with the wrist of the hand that held the sword. 
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t just snap your neck right here,” Nicolae hissed menacingly.

Nicolae hadn’t killed Dimitri that night, but he had certainly come close to doing so.  The commotion had been heard throughout the castle, sending the guards into the room.  Nicolae had been taken to the lowest level of the castle where he was given several violent whip lashings and made to sit alone for two days in a cell.  His punishment may have been even more severe but out of his own wounded pride, Dimitri had begged his father to not draw attention to the incident.  Dimitri was in excellent physical shape and a skilled, trained fighter; but Nicolae’s life of hard labor and self-sufficiency combined with rage ending up posing a challenge for Anton Alexandresu’s son.  Even without a weapon, Nicolae managed to overpower Dimitri.
Nicolae had spent the two days in the cell more worried for the well-being of Eloisa and Sebastian.  He prayed that the master wouldn’t take what he did out on his younger brother and the girl he loved.  
Nicolae was released that rainy evening.  A visibly relieved Sebastian and Eloisa met him at the village’s entrance.  Nicolae was thankful that the two people he cared for most hadn’t been harmed while he was locked up.  That night as the rain had poured down onto their village, he and Eloisa had gone to the shed together.  He remembered the horror that filled Eloisa’s eyes when he had stripped off his shirt, revealing the deep, fresh, open welts on his torso.  He remembered her holding back tears as she tried to tend to the slashes (there had even been a couple of old whipping scars that had been reopened). 

Nicolae sat on the mattress, his heart heavy as he saw the guilt on the face of the girl he loved as she took care of his wounds. 
If anyone should be tormented by all of this it’s Dimitri, Nicolae thought.  He looked at Eloisa, seeing the purplish bruise on her slightly swollen cheek where Dimitri had struck her.  It made Nicolae physically ill to think about what she had gone through.  He lifted his hand, and brought it to Eloisa’s face.  His thumb gently caressed the swollen, bruised area of her face.  Eloisa paused from what she was doing and closed her eyes, taking in Nicolae’s touch.  Nicolae brought his lips to hers, giving her a tender kiss as a small clap of thunder was heard above the roof of the shed.  He touched her forehead with his, lingering there, hearing the quiet rainstorm outside.
He couldn’t help the arousal he felt and he had missed her immensely over the last two days.  Not being able to even see Eloisa had been a far greater torture to him than the most brutal lashing. 
He lifted his head back up, searching for the right words.  How would he even bring it up after what Dimitri had done to her?  He could see the trauma that Dimitri’s forcing himself on her had brought.
Nicolae looked at Eloisa, her dark eyes wide with anticipation.
“Eloisa…” he began, but his voice had stuck in his throat. 
Eloisa stared back at him.  She could tell by the look in his eyes what he had wanted to ask her.  Eloisa embraced him, drawing him close to her while taking care to not disturb his welts…

…the memories where sometimes too much for Nicolae to handle, but they were all he had left.  The nights of them holding eachother under the stars where something he would never have again.  When Nicolae was a boy of five, his father had taught him about the constellations, pointing them all out to him. 
And now, Eloisa is an angel among them all…
Nicolae covered his eyes with his arm as tears began to fall down his face.  He shut his eyes, trying to fall back into sleep.  In his mind, he saw Eloisa lying in his arms as she had after the many times they were together.  He could almost feel her body against his and his hands on her body as she lay wrapped around him with her head resting on his chest.  He remembered the very first time he had made love to her, the night he made her a woman and she made him a man.  The night their union became official. 
As Nicolae began drifting from where he and Sebastian lay in the woods into the dreamscape, he anticipated seeing Eloisa in again.  He reached over to the bag he carried, his hand resting on a hard, square object that was inside with the supplies.  But Nicolae’s temporary bliss would be interrupted by another presence that approached the area where he and Sebastian lay sleeping.



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