Orion’s Embrace Part 9
A new day dawned and I was prepared for what was to come, or so I thought. My time with this mysterious woman was over and now I needed to set out once again. It had only been a scant few days since I escaped Matthias and a part of me knew that he could track me down if I stayed in one place for too long. I had assumed that he would hunt for me once he realized I was gone. He might still, which was why staying in one place too long is dangerous.
The question right now became, where did I go? I knew no one and no work history that I could use to vouch for me. I could only hope that I would find more allies along the way. I just hoped that I would be strong enough for what was to come in the future. Strong and smart, both were characteristics I valued in people. I just hoped I could find them in myself. For the first time in my life, I was able to actually find myself. I had never expected to be on a quest to find who I was while fleeing for my life.
After showering quickly and slipping into a set of nondescript clothing, I made my way out of the secret room. I was so grateful for the place to stay, even though it was only temporary. What saddened me was that I had no way to repay her kindness. I doubted that Meredith would have accepted any form of payment anyway. She seemed like a woman that honestly wanted to help others without expecting something in return.
Pulling my hair up off of my neck, I pushed through the hidden door and into the central area of the bakery. It was quiet and empty. Smells of freshly baked bread and pastries hung in the air and I inhaled greedily. I was ready to start my new life. As I moved towards the door, I spotted a small bag on the counter and a note. Scooping both up, I smiled at the flowery handwriting that belonged to Meredith.
My darling niece,
I wish I could be there to see you off but it might be better if we are not seen together. It has nothing to do with myself being ashamed of you and everything to do with trying to protect you. If the wrong people see you and me together, it would only be disastrous. I can take care of myself here in this world. My darling you may not able to take care of yourself yet. You have no training. Luck can only get you so far.
Please take the contents of the package with you. Consider it a parting gift. Inside you will find enough rations to last you three weeks if you are careful. You will also find a small silver pouch. Do not open the pouch until you have secured your next sanctuary. The contents are dangerous in the wrong hands and can get you killed if you are caught with them in the wrong place. There is more information in the pouch.
I don’t have much time before I have to leave and wait for the ship to leave. I have booked your passage aboard the charter freighter Thor’s Hammer. The men aboard are good hardworking men. They hail from a planet that prides itself on coming from a long line of old Viking blood. They will treat you right. You’ll need to work but I know you won’t have a problem with that. Their ship can take you almost the entire journey to Tir Andrel.
Adelaide, I know you did not want to discuss this last night but they are your only hope. When you are secure aboard the ship and in your room, look in the satchel. More of the mystery will unravel. Until that time, please know that I love you. I loved your mother too. She is my sister always. You are in my heart until a time when we can live as a family together.
With all my love,
My eyes read the words on the page. I barely knew this woman and she was already doing things for me that most would not. Some planets out there had friendly, kind, hard-working people. Others were rife with the vilest of them all. People who only looked out for themselves. I fear that if I did not follow down this path that Caesar Seven would end up the same way. Twisted, corrupted, desolate.
I wanted to linger but I knew that I could and would not. Meredith was away so that I could slip out and not get her caught. Glancing through the glass door of the bakery I noticed that it was barely light out. It was not even dawn and I was already awake, having only managed three hours of sleep. The chrono told me it was barely four in the morning. It was not uncommon for a baker to be up this early but the rest of this town would be asleep.
Quickly I fled the one place I had found refuge and trotted towards the landing area. I never knew what to expect with ships but I was surprised to see the shape of this one. I loved reading and studied much of the old religions and ways back on the Earth that Was. None was more loved by me than Norse, Greek, and Roman mythologies. I had and probably always would be fascinated by them. So to see a ship in the design of a perfect valknut was surprising.
Approaching, I held out the ticket that would grant me pass and the letter of introduction that Meredith had included. Apparently, she knew a few of the high ranking officers aboard the ship and they agreed to help me. I was not going to ask too many questions, at least not until I understood my place. Women in Viking society were treated much better than those on my planet.
I watched as the last of the supplies were loaded onto the ship as I approached. One of the things I was thankful for was that I had learned to speak in a common tongue. It was a language that every planet that wished to trade acquired. A universal way to communicate. Of course, we each had our dialects and phrasings but ordinary helped us bridge the gaps.
“You must be Adelaide. I am Arnthor, First Mate of the vessel. It is my pleasure to welcome you aboard. If you’ll step inside and wait a moment while I finish the final preparations, I will gladly take you to your quarters and introduce you to the woman to whom you will be working under. Matilda is formidable but kind. If what your aunt says about you is true, you will get along just fine.”
Nodding my head, I was unsure what to say. I did not know these people and yet they seemed to know me. Every day I found the world around me growing stranger and stranger. I would hope, or I would die. This much I already knew.
Following the direction the giant of a man pointed, I tried not to allow myself to take too much in. Now was not the time to gape and stare in awe. That could come later once I was in this world and sure that Matthias was far enough away. There was a small part of me that was entirely terrified that Matthias would never be far enough away.
Stepping across the threshold of the ship I did as I was instructed. The inside hallway where I was standing was gray and metal. It looked very much like a vessel. Nothing too impressive yet, at least. I knew that I had not had much experience with ships but I would have thought that some of them would be something other than metal looking. Yet each one that I found myself on managed to be the same set of colors only varying shades. It was boring.
I waited in the hall for what felt like forever before Arnthor showed up again. He was not smiling. He did not know me and it was clear they were doing this as a favor. He made one single motion with his hand, the universal sign to follow him. Follow, I did. Down twisting and turning paths in the ship until we arrived in the middle section. This was apparently where all the housing rooms were located.
Staying quiet was going to be the only thing that would get me through the next few hours. These were not my people, at least not in the sense of me being their leader. They were strangers and for now, I was content to allow them to remain that way. Only time, should I find myself having any, would allow that to change.
The walk seemed to drag on forever but when we stopped, we were in front of a door. The metal was all the same but the rune carved into it was different. Each door had a rune and I did not know enough about the Old Norse or runes to know what it might even mean. Honestly, right now it was not important. There were other things that I needed to focus on.
Pushing into the room, I noticed it was sparse. Not that it was a problem really. I did not need a lot of things and I had no idea how long I would even be with them before the trip would end. What was I going to do? Tir Andrel was not going to be kind to the likes of me. A Carpathea? They hated my family and what we had. Though, my name was the only thing that tied me to that and even now I was sure that my brother had damaged my name in the ranks of the other nobility. I would not find solace in the arms of our enemies, of that I was sure. Yet, I couldn’t fight the feeling that I should trust what Meredith told me.
“Get settled. Matilda will be by in a little bit. The trip to Tir Andrel will take three months. You may stay here at that time or we can drop you off at any of the planets that we will land on. I am sure you can find a passage from there. Your aunt was a dear friend of mine and I hope that you will stay with us for the entire trip. You will be safe here, from both Nathaniel and Matthias.”
All I could do was gape at him and blink a moment. How did he know any of this? Who was he really?
“You are welcome, Princess. Now rest, unpack and I will send Matilda in.” he replied as he left me to my thoughts.
Moving further into the room, I heard the door slide closed behind me and I frowned. While they were kind to me, I was still nervous and scared. All of this was happening way too fast. Here I was alone once again only this time I was surrounded by people who knew my aunt. They were doing her a favor and nothing more. Could I trust them?
The clock that was hanging above the metal desk told me the date. A month had passed since my escape from Nathaniel, Matthias and the life I thought I knew. I hoped that I was reading this correctly. It felt more like days but I knew that it had been weeks since the brand had been burned upon my skin and my run in with Meredith. Time was flying and the longer it took me to reclaim my home the harder it would be.
Setting my small bags down on the floor, I tossed myself onto the bed and stared up at the ceiling. I had a new sanctuary, but only for a moment. Sanctuary. What a concept. It was supposed to be a place, a safe haven from the world around you. Respite after a long and arduous ordeal. For me, it was a place where I did not have to fear rape, torture or death. I had hope for the first time in a long while and it felt odd as it coursed through my body.