Chapter 6 – Breasts
The door to Maria’s bedroom was open. Gabriel was standing by the bed. If Amon recalled correctly, Gabriel should have been resting in the room downstairs next to the front door. But he did not see Gabriel when he rushed upstairs. It meant that Gabriel went upstairs right after Maria had screamed, before Amon had even left the space under the stairs. Her speed was astounding.
Gabriel had drawn her sword A delicate yet dazzling silver mist wreathed around the blade. A strange look was plastered on her face, as she pointed the sword at a furry ball in front of her.
“Amon, how did this cat come in?” Gabriel did not look back at Amon.
Isn’t this Schrodinger? Amon recognized the snoring cat as it lay beside Maria’s feet. It was Crazy’Ole’s cat. It was lazy, gluttonous, fat and dirty. Its hoary hair was always full of stove ash, coloring it a dark grey. Crazy’Ole had named this sleepy cat Schrodinger. How did it get into Maria’s room?
“I don’t know.” Amon answered honestly.
Gabriel didn’t really expect an answer. Even she did not noticed the cat’s arrival, how could this little miner know? Maria said, “Sorry. I woke you up. I didn’t know the cat was sleeping here and almost stepped on it……Lord Gabriel, please don’t hurt it. It’s just sleeping.”
“Please don’t call me Lord Gabriel”, Gabriel sheathed her sword, “You only need to call me Gabriel. As you wish, I won’t hurt it…… And don’t say sorry, it’s not appropriate. It’s my duty to protect you…… Amon, bring this cat away. Make sure it doesn’t disturb Lord Maria.”
Amon bowed his head, walked forward and gently picked Schrodinger up. It was still sleeping in Amon’ arms after all the chaos it had caused. As he bent down to get Schrodinger, Amon caught a glimpse of Maria’s feet. Her feet were naked, and under the robe he could see thin and white ankles. The nails were pink and lovely.
Suddenly, Amon’s heart started to beat like a drum. He immediately brought his breath back under control, slowing it down and forcing his heart to beat slowly. It was part of the technique of Duc. One had to learn to maintain one’s body in a perfectly balanced and calm state to make sure that they could strike with precision and extract the parangons. The training Amon received was far stricter than the others in the town. His success was largely due to his practice of bathing in the cold spring.
Even Gabriel did not notice it. As far she knew, the boy was in a hurry when he rushed in and had calmed down after he saw that Lord Maria was all right.
It seemed to be the situation, but Amon was far from calm. Maria was in her nightgown. He saw her feet when he bent down, and his eyes flew past her tender chest when he stood up. The neckline of the nightgown was not low but he could see a piece of white skin under Maria’s neck.
What was more serious was that it seemed he could see something else through the cloth. Maria’s nightgown was neither thin nor thick, just comfortably smooth and a bit loose. Maria had started to grow as a girl, and Amon could glimpse her chest’s curve. It was the most graceful curve in the world. There were even two points on the peaks of the curve. Were they what he thought they might be?
Amon could feel the heat on his face and his body. It was like he had just gotten out of the cold spring. The heat made him feel ashamed, so he hastened to step back with Schrodinger, turning around and walking out.
After he left the room, Amon opened his mouth and took a deep breath. His face turned red, as did his ears.
Gabriel had lit a candle when she went into Maria’s room, but the candlelight wasn’t strong enough for anyone to see Amon’s face clearly.
When he got downstairs, Amon gasped in surprise as he was greeted by a cadre of soldiers. In the hall stood six soldiers at attention. The two in the front held shields and axes, the two in the back held shields and spears, the two in the side held a sword each. They stood in silence, but gave Amon the impression that they were about to charge at him at any time. Even Schrodinger seemed to be able to feel it. It purred in his arms and buried its head into Amon’s arm.
“What happened?” The six soldiers did not speak, that question came from another team-leader-like soldier with a sword hanging on his waist.
“Nothing. It was just a cat. Lord Maria almost stepped on it. She told us not to hurt it and to remove it.” Amon answered and walked through the six soldiers to the courtyard, Schrodinger in his arms.
What he saw when he reached the courtyard door surprised him again. Two fully-armed soldiers stood at the both sides of the door. In every corner of the yard was an armed soldier waiting for orders. Amon knew that they must be the bodyguards of Lord Rod Drick. He had seen them the day Judah Fayol went to his house and took the Gods’ Tear.
The escort of Lord Rod Drick resided in the shrine of Horus not far from the villa. They might have heard the situation or just have received the call from Gabriel. They had arrived rapidly and deployed to battle positions. But without the permission of Lord Gabriel, they could not enter Maria’s room.
Could I move that fast? Amon asked himself in his mind. The answer was yes. But what about with armor and weapons? Amon did not have the experience. He estimated that he could do it with his hammer in his hand. What he failed to figure out was how Schrodinger had been able to slip into such a closely guarded house and slept under Maria’s bed?
Surely it would be impossible in the presence of a warrior like Gabriel.
Amon was confused, but he did not think too far. He went out of the courtyard, put the cat on the ground and gave a big slap on its fat ass. “Go Schrodinger, go home. It’s not safe here. Don’t come back.”
Schrodinger woke up and purred discontentedly. It stretched its legs, shook off the dust and ran away. Amon relieved when he saw that it run in the direction of Crazy’Ole’s house.
When he got back to the hall, Gabriel was downstairs ordering the soldiers to leave. She asked Amon, “Your speed and reactions are both good, even for a [primary warrior]. Have you learned any [body arts]?”
Amon was a bit surprised, “Are you asking me, my lord? I don’t know what body arts are, but I have learned the technique of Duc. You might have already known that.”
Gabriel did not continue asking him. She returned to her room. The house was quiet again, but Amon still could not calm himself down. Every time he closed his eyes, he could see Maria’s feet, then his eyes went up and stayed on her chest. The skin was flushed but white. Maybe it was the scare, or the hot night that made the fine hairs stand on end……And there was the curve under the robe, and the two points on it……
His body reacted to his imagination. Amon was a boy, but he was not a baby. The reaction of his body made him uneasy and restless. He could not help but imagine what was under the robe, and what it would be like to slip his hands in from the neckline. Then his thoughts froze and felt that it was a severe offense to have such thoughts.
For no reason, he was struck by the desire to take a bath in the cold spring. Maybe it’s because I bathed too much in that spring, thought Amon. Every time he got out from that spring and took a rest beside it, his body would have similar reactions, so comfortable that made him want to moan. But beside that spring, he never had the feeling he had tonight.
Amon could not go to the cold spring tonight. He has to sleep on the board under the stairs. He could not sleep peacefully that night.
At lunch the next day, Amon was still absent-minded as he stood by Maria. But he tried his best to act normal. What made the things harder was that Maria was still watching him. He could feel her eyes. Maria asked in a low voice, “The cat last night, you haven’t hurt it, have you?”
“No. Not at all. I set it free as you wished.”
“Thank you Amon, for last night.”
“You don’t have to say that, my lord. That is what I should do as your servant. It was my fault that you got disturbed when you should be resting.” When he spoke, he managed to look up and welcome Maria’s eyes. Maybe he had finally summoned his courage, or he was just angry at his timidity yesterday. If he could watch her last night, why couldn’t he watch her today?
Maria was apparently a bit surprised that the boy would match her gaze. She was not used to it and subconsciously wanted to avoid his eyes. Then she remembered what Gabriel told her, so she kept looking at his eyes. But there was a slightest hint of embarrassment in her eyes that she failed to hide.
“How could a cat be so lazy that it wouldn’t wake up after all that?”
“Its name is Schrodinger. It’s indeed lazy. It is Crazy’Ole’s cat.”
“It has a name? And who is Crazy’Ole?”
“He is the oldest man in this town, a friend of mine……”
They gazed at each other’s eyes when they talked. It was like a challenge. No one wanted to be the first to dodge. They were both childish. She is so beautiful, I like to watch her like this, thought Amon.
At last Maria broke the eye contact. It wasn’t entirely a loss, but she had to finish her meal. She did not eat much today, even lesser than yesterday. Amon could see a slight unease deep in her eyes. It seemed that she was not comfortable, that she was suffering from pain but tried to keep it together.
Amon wanted to ask if she was alright, but he couldn’t. He could only answer when she asked. He was not allowed to start a conversation.
Amon didn’t sleep well in his second night as attendant either.. Once he closed his eyes, all he could see were Maria’s eyes, and from there, various thoughts would invade his mind. He tried to tell himself not to think, but he couldn’t stop. His heart would soften under her gaze, but his body would only stiffen with desire. Usually, he would take a bath if he was restless, but now, he couldn’t help but ask himself, is it some side effect brought on by the cold spring?
There were many things that Amon had not experienced before. He did not know that Maria’s heart was even more agitated than his.
Maria was not sleeping. She was praying in front of the Gods’ Tear. She was awaking the god-given power using the unique method taught by Gabriel. Things had proceeded even smoother than Gabriel had anticipated, as Maria had already succeeded. She felt that she could use an invisible power that was everywhere around her. “Power” might not be the exact word. It was more like an energy, or an ability.
At the same time, the various desires deep inside her spirit was awoken and amplified, crashing through her mind and reminding her of a plethora of things she had neglected or buried in the past.
Maria had no doubt about her devotion to Mother Isis, but her life was more than that. She was brought up in a noble family, as the apple of her father’s eye. Her grandfather was a merchant in the state of Cape. He was awarded a noble title for having organized a fleet to assist and provide logistics for the army of Ejypt.
Maria’s family was not of high status in the upper world of Cape, but was one of the richest. Her father inherited her grandfather’s wealth, but his business was less successful. However, what he really treasured was his daughter, Icho Maria. Icho went to the shrine in the city when she was 14, and everyone who had met her said she was the most beautiful young lady in Cape.
Six months ago, the fleet of Maria’s family had suffered a serious loss in a storm and her father needed a great amount of money to keep his company afloat. He turned to a friend of his father, who was also a rich noble in the state. The latter promised to lend him the money, on the condition that Maria become his wife. Maria’s father had no choice if he wanted to save his business.
At the same time, a king of the United Kingdoms of Bablon saw Maria during a visit to the shrine of Cape, and asked to marry Maria. He sent a formal request to Lord Rod Drick, which made it undeniable.
Maria’s father was in desperation until he heard that the Isis Shrine in Memfis was seeking candidates for the Adoratrice of Isis. The priests thought that Maria was a perfect candidate and this had temporarily solved the problems of her family. But the problems would reappear if Maria could not be the true Adoratrice.
Her devotion to Isis was real, but she could not tell whether her wish to become the Adoratrice was partially driven by selfishness.
The Gods’ Tear had set her mind at rest because all the problems her family was facing could be solved for good. After she managed to feel the divine power, she had started to relax. It was at that moment that her emotions and desires began to batter her mind again.
Being the Adoratrice, guardian of Mother Isis, meant that she was going to live a life that was beyond the ordinary world. Her every word and move had to match her status as the Adoratrice. She could no longer have physical contact with any adult men. Her belongings had to meet exacting standards and demands. This was not a life that every girl wanted or could stand.
Maria had read many stories in the epics written on papyrus. The thrilling wars and romantic adventures in them had inspired her to imagine the various different possibilities in the future. But after she decided to be the Adoratrice and devote herself to Mother Isis, she buried all her fantasies and wishes.
Maria was suffering. An indescribable feeling was stirring in her soul and body. As Gabriel had told her, this was the Test of the Gods she must face. They were woken along with the divine power. It was impossible to restrain it with just her will. She could only confront it with a pure heart till she could be free from its influence.
Gabriel was certain that Maria could pass the test, but now Maria was facing a little challenge. During meal times she acted if she was provoking Amon while conversing with him. She did not know what she wanted in this game. Amon was simply a miner’s son but Maria was so curious with him; she even had fantasies about him.
Amon had extracted the Gods’ Tear. He was a boy blessed by Mother Isis. Maria had heard about what had happened in the square on the other side of town. Amon had almost lost a finger for extracting the Gods’ Tear. After a debate, he was also confirmed to be blessed by the goddess Mourrin, patron of Duc, which had never happened in the town in the last century. What kind of person he was to be blessed by two goddesses at the same time? Mourrin had given him the talent to master the technique of Duc and Isis had given him the luck to discover the Gods’ Tear. This was a miracle, a legend! Maria had read stories about miracles and legends but she had never experienced one. So she could not help to look for those heroic characters in Amon. He was childish but handsome. He always had an determined and confident expression on his face. Maria was never tired of watching him but she could not tell why that was.
Last night when Amon had picked up the cat, Maria could feel that his eyes stayed on her breast for a while. It was like a real touch. Was it just her illusion? Maria felt like her body was scorched by his eyes. The indescribable feeling that was churning her body and soul had seemed to amplify, so strong that she could not help to tremble.
In other circumstances Maria would never have this kind of reaction, but she was just crossing the gate to the palace of magic, the divine power. She was passing a test, a test to face her own desires and wishes.
Maria knew perfectly that after she left this town she would never see this boy again, that she would say goodbye to the world that she had dreamed of in her girly dreams. He was sort of a symbol in her heart. She knew that she should stay firm in her faith but a strange sense of regret was torturing her.
When she prayed to the Gods’ Tear, the blonde stone was shining, and her body was surrounded with a glory that seemed to be resonating with it. It meant that Maria had awaken the divine power. But now, absent-minded, she felt that the glow of the Gods’ Tear had become Amon’s glowing eyes, burning her breast, even searing her body. She was dazzled and was not able to tell if the feeling was good or bad.
On the third day of Amon’s servitude, he waited beside Maria during breakfast, lunch and dinner. He held her gaze as she continued to talk to him. He found that when the eye contact lasted, Maria would start to breathe fast and flush. It seemed that she was suffering from something. Is she ill?
After dinner, Maria was going to pray again and she told Amon, “I need to wash my face, please bring some water here. Just cold water, don’t add any hot water in it.”
Maria always used warm water to wash her face, but she was demanding cold water now. Amon found it strange. He carried the heavy washbasin to Maria’s room and put it down in front of her. The makeup work used to be done by Maria’s maid. Now she did it by herself. But Amon still needed to wait outside the room.
“Lord Maria, are you feeling alright? Should I call Lord Gabriel?” Amon was about to leave after he put down the washbasin, but he could not help but ask. He could feel that Maria’s breath was hot.
Maria was a bit scared by Amon, since he never started a conversation. Her shoulders trembled and the door closed quietly although there was no wind. It was like the door was shut by an invisible force.
Amon should’ve turned around and walked out the room, but he did not move. Then he felt like he was pulled by an invisible force. After the force washed over him, he could no longer remember what had just happened. It was until years after that Amon was able to figure it out.
When he was conscious again, he was standing right in front of Maria, so close that he could just hold her in his arms. But he seemed to have already done so. His left hand was holding her waist, and his right hand was on her breast. Her breath scalded him just as the light in his eyes seared her. The hand on her breast made Amon feel like he was about to melt down like the iron in the furnace.
The air that surrounded the two appeared to become soft and viscous and was attracting both of them. He could feel her thin body trembling in his hand. Naturally, Amon’s folded his right hand and gripped her breast. His palm could feel the knob under the cloth. Her breast was so delicate that he could just cover it with one hand.
Both of their hearts beat violently. With heavy breaths, Amon moved his right hand upward along the curve, then slipped his hand down her neckline. He wanted to have her breast directly in his hand. It was the sweetest temptation he had ever had.
At the same time he saw Maria’s eyes. There seemed to be pain and mist inside them. Her lips were slightly open. Amon could not think. He tried to put his lips on them. At the moment their lips made contact, Maria trembled harder and pushed him away.
Her arms were thin and weak. It seemed that she could not possibly move Amon, but Amon flew back as if he was hit by a bull. The invisible force appeared again. Amon could not resist even a bit of it. The door behind him opened when he dropped on the floor. Everything happened so fast and finished before both of them had realized anything.
“I didn’t mean to! I didn’t…… Sorry, oh it’s my……Amon, you must be my Test —” Maria saw Amon fall badly and tried to get him up. But her flushed face went pale when she tried to take the first step.
“What happened here?” A voice came in from the door.
Amon turned his head and saw Gabriel standing by the door. She came so fast that nothing could have happened in between, although in fact nothing would have happened.