An excerpts from the Diary of Dav Tuumal. A Monk from Bodden Abbey.
Pangold and Nicolai stomped back into the campsite clearing, their voices, passing between tall trees, had arrived a moment sooner than they. Where I was bent over a cooking pot which was hanging precariously from a well-balanced broken tree branch over a well made and kept campfire.
Pan and Nic’s conversation continued, even after Nicolai had slumped down next to the fire, removed a boot and proceeded to empty water from within. Only then did I turn, look at the water splashing onto the leaf littered floor did he raise his small dark eyes up towards Nic.
“so, no fish then” I questioned. Placing my small hands upon my ample hips. I looked from Nic to Pan and back again. Momentarily their chat stopped. They looked at each other and in exact unison they spoke in hurried explanation. I was baffled by the sound and yet still knew not the reason for the row.
Latter all was quiet, the natural protection of thistle, thicket and hedge created a living fortress and with the trees around that, the three travelers were near invisible from the outside.
A lite night breeze could just be seen moving the high branches of the trees that were silhouetted against the clear night sky.
Pan was restless and so slept little, he was the first to be ready as he heard something and it wasn’t just my snoring. Pan knew the sound of most night life and it wasn’t any he had heard before. He kicked Nicolai awake and hushed him by placing a finger over his own lips. Nic, without thinking reached for his weapon and stood.
Dew had started to form on the leaves leaving crystal like pearls glistening around them, which was a good sign that morning was close.
They both stood in silence. Nic had placed a gloved hand over my face to stop the noise but still intently listened.
Pan rested his hand upon his weapon and got ready to draw it, then within a moment he was off, bramble and bracken grabbing at his clothes and armour as he dashed out of Nicolai’s vision and into the darkened forest beyond.
An owl screeched but this didn’t interfere with the concentration that lay upon Nicolai and he continued to scan the dark greenery that surrounded the campsite.
Nicolai felt a tugging at his arm. Turning he faced me and he saw my fat monks face turning blue and my eyes rolling back to show the whites. Nic lifted his hand instantly in realisation of what had transpired.
I gasped for breath. Colour flowing back into my cheeks.
“don’t move Dav”
Nicolai’s voice was a whisper but had a stern sense of dread upon it. I rolled my head from one side to the other trying to discover where there was danger and said nothing, my stomach and chest still heaved up and down like the bellows of some small town blacksmith.
Nicolai stood, I could see, from this low vantage point on the ground that the Tiefling was straining to listen. I cupped my hands over my mouth to try and quieten the sound of my short but hasty breaths.
Nicolais feet moved slightly upon the dirt and leaves. He is preparing himself. I thought.
Then a sound, the slightest of sounds took Nicolais attention and he also was gone from the clearing. The branches and twigs fell back into place as if no one had passed through just seconds before.
I lay upon the damp ground fear and a prayer upon my lips.
Dawn must be breaking as bird song was beginning to make its climb to be the only sound in the Forrest. As I lay a line of ants made a path across my huge bulk and down the other side. Their red bodies becoming more vibrant as daylight clambered in through the high leaves and branches and fell warm upon my face.
I was alone, I had never been alone like this before. The thought of the danger that I now found around me. I stayed still upon the floor like a child that hides beneath a blanket so the night terrors won’t get him. The rumble of my stomach was the only thing that made sense at this time.
“what are you doing Dav?
Two voices that I thought I would never hear again now stood over me. In their upside down view I couldn’t see the injuries they had sustained but I was so glad to see my two new friends. I stood and hugged them both.
“oh, did you get breakfast?”
Nic and Pan said nothing, looked deep into my eyes then at each other, then back at me as I smiled my chubby face smile.
Both together they leapt upon me.
The Milk Fiasco.
It was meant to be a great day to rejoice. Brother Bost was coming back and today was his arrival celebrations. Tables of great dark Oak had been laid and sweet-smelling flowers of yellows and blues stood in clay pitchers as centre pieces. Monks were dashing every which way, the whole Abbey was a buzz with excitement.
Where was I, well I could see what was happening from my small window which looked down on to the courtyard of Bodden Abbey which was strewn with yesterdays straw. A few sheep had gotten out of their garden pen and now had brother Lease, chasing around in circles in a stoop and arms out stretched clapping. I could smell the baskets of fresh bread being carried over from the bake house. My stomach rumbled quietly to itself.
Noon came and went, the heat of the sun was strong through my window and made the page I was writing on glare up into my pale face. I rubbed my strained eyes, took a sip of wine and wondered why I had not been called to come to the feast.
Why was it so quiet. Looking from my window I could just see a crowd out over the Abbey wall in the street and below me at the gate was at least a dozen monks milling about trying to see over each other at something outside.
Intrigued, I finished my wine in one gulp.
I kicked through the straw in the courtyard with some getting caught in my toes which I hopped to try to retrieve.
Using my ample size I pushed through to the front.
Ahead a gaggle of towns folk and monks huddled around something or someone beneath them. The sound of hushed whispers was like water rushing over rocks in a stream.
I struggled and pushed my way to in through the people, saying sorry each time I stood on a foot or toe quietly to myself.
I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me, the smell was strong and the sight was new to my eyes. I’d read and written of what devastation that can be brought upon a body but I wasn’t expecting this.
Brother Bost was wide open I could see sausage like items within his wound. He wasn’t screaming or was it that all sound around me had gone. I just stared, what seemed like ages and watched blood pool around his body and the Abbots and monks knees as they rushed to stem the flow.
My name came echoing in, quiet at first and then loader and loader. My senses returned to me like a crashing drum against my ears.
Don’t just stand there Dav “fetch some milk”!
From that moment time moved faster than I’d ever noticed, a bundle of robes, belt and boots were thrust at me and I could feel them wet and sticky against my hands and face. I turned and ran, back to the Abbey, threw the robes upon the floor and retrieved milk from the kitchens.
By the time I was returning several monks were carrying Bost’s body which was covered with a blood stained sheet in through the gates. I stood with the half spilled milk dripping from my wrist.
All was quiet again. A sheep ran past me and out the gate.
One quiet night at Bodden Abbey.
As usual I’d been adding filigree to some script I had been transcribing. Time dragged on until the early hours, just before sunrise. I leaned back upon my stool, this wasn’t enough, so I stood for a full stretch. Hmm food, it must have been at least and hour since I finished that cold ham and cheese and the wine jar was dry. I slipped my boots back on as the stone floors where cold down in the kitchens. The abbey was a quiet as a morning prayer and I felt at one with god and a smile crossed my face.
The ovens had gone cold hours ago but I coaxed an ember into like and lit a fire. So I’d decided to cook something quick. I wasn’t a bad cook in fact I was a great cook. I set a pot of goose oil on the fire and set about preparing some chicken for frying. There was still some of the cherry pie that brother Amit had made with the cherries from our very own cherry orchard. It was just as good cold.My chicken took no time at all, I dropped it still sizzling onto a platter and headed back upstairs. I was going to finish that last page then to bed.Having just arrived back at my scribes desk, when I’d remembered, I’d left the wine in the cellar. I held on to my chicken and once again headed down through the kitchen and down into the dark cellar.
From below the kitchen I heard a crash above me, someone else is up for a snack I though. I continued to fumble for a jar of wine in the dark. Finding what I wanted I then placed the chicken piece in my mouth and headed up the cellar steps. Awfully bright up there, sun must be rising. No, it wasn’t the sun.Heavens above, the kitchen was ablaze. Oil must have bubbled over into the fire and now all hell had broken loose. Fire was climbing fast over every wooden surface and item like it was a living thing and already it was climbing the stairs up into the Abbey like it had a purpose.
There was nothing I could do. I ran straight out the kitchen doors to the herb garden,down the path with the heat already reaching the back of my neck. Once in the street I stopped and looked up at what I had done.The devil himself had taken hold of my Abbey and he was giving it a fiery death hug.What else could I do but cry, dripping salty tears onto my fried chicken which I still held tight between my teeth.