Historical setting: 588 C.E. Forest Primeval
Here is the place where once we kindled a fire. It’s a cold little mound of ash without a whisper of smoke. We eat leftovers from the great feast of victory this noon day. It is still and very cold. The sun only pretends to prod its tenticals between the naked limbs of forest. The village of the tribe we met here can’t be very far. I wonder if they are already watching us.
No sooner do we start on the trek deeper into the wood when the little druid appears in front of us, not welcoming, but holding a large staff like a barrier to block our way.
“Don’t take another step! Go back and die on your own lands.”
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“But Sir, Druid…” starts Thole.
“It is Largin, I have a name.”
Thole continues, “Very well, Druid Largin, I’m called Thole, but you may wish to call me Troll if it is more suitable to your faith. And this man is Laz… Ezra; he is called Ezra. But if you don’t like Holy Bible names he can be whatever you wish.”
“Of course he can. And I wish you both away! Go far away and take your Christian plague with you to the farthest shore!”
“Plague?” I think his sudden fear has a reason.
“As though you didn’t know. The woman who knelt by your fellow with fever to give him tea is now raging with fever herself, soon to die of plague. For fear of plague I can’t even allow her own sisters to bring her any comfort. She will die very soon, and it’s all because of the Christian plague.”
Thole argues, having once lived in the home of a healer known to be pagan, “Plague isn’t Christian. It can spread to anyone.”
I add, “I don’t think our fellow even had the plague. The tea made him well. I’ve seen plague and I know how it kills. I’m sure the Count didn’t have plague.”
“First you people break the promise to return the child. So we have no able practitioner when we need her most, then you come to us at the sacred night of Samhain and bring a plague down on us.”
“Please, Druid Largin, take me to see this woman and I will give her a healing brew myself.”
Thole takes my arm, “No Ezra, what if…”
(Continues Tuesday, December 7, 2021)