Prologue : Saint Maria
Chapter 5 – I Can Watch Her Eyes Too – Part 2
“He is a man.” Gabriel looked at Amon and said to Aristotle in a slightly dissatisfied tone.
Aristotle smiled, “He is still a boy. He meets your demands. As you can see, my lord, it is too hard to find a person in this town with no dust on their head and no mud under their nails. He is the only one I found. And I have to tell you that he is the miner that extracted Gods’ Tear. How can one without a pure heart and Isis’ blessing welcome Gods’ Tear?”
“Oh”, Gabriel moderated her tone, “I heard the discussion there and I know what kind of person you are bringing to me. So the parangon this boy extracted was Gods’ Tear, which almost got him punished by the priest here.”
“That’s right……So, can he stay?”
Amon turned up his head and had a look at Gabriel. He found the warrior staring at his face with a piercing look. Their eyes met and Amon could not help but lower his head. This lady is beautiful. She was the most beautiful woman Amon had ever seen. But Amon found an expanding aura from her severely upright figure, like an invisible pushing force. What he beheld at first sight was not her beauty but her majesty.
“Amon, you can stay. Your job is simple. You are going to prepare the needs in daily life for Lord Maria……Hmm, even you are a child, you should still be careful not to touch Lord Maria when you pass things to her. You have to stay away in silence when Lord Maria cleans herself and takes rests……And most importantly, you can tell nobody anything about what you see and hear in this place, not even a word! Otherwise you will be punished. Follow the maid, and change your clothes.”
Gabriel spelled Amon’s name, though it was the first time they met. Although Amon was still a boy, she gave him orders that were even stricter than those in the shrine. She warned him not to touch Maria or he would get punished. But she did not tell him about what punishment it would be. Upstairs, Maria had heard the whole dialogue.
Gabriel called the maid to lead Amon to change his clothes after frightening him. Amon’s clothes were clean, but they were worn. There was another reason why Gabriel need a person from the town to be Maria’s attendant. She did not want anyone to know that Maria was learning magic. The Ducians knew nothing about magic so unlike Rod Drick’s servants, it was impossible for a Ducian to leak information.
Amon had thought that Gabriel was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, but he almost immediately changed his mind when he saw Maria for the first time. When Amon’s gaze fell upon her, he admired her from the bottom of his heart, and affirmed that she should be the most beautiful woman in this world. Stunned, he saluted subconsciously and said, “Dear Lord Maria. I am Amon at your service. ”
Maria was about the same age as Amon, maybe a year or two older. She was about as tall as him too. But Amon had to call her Lord Maria. A gentle amber shine gleamed through her chestnut hair, while her hazel eyes hid a blue glimmer, like a star deep in the night, or a glint in a pond.
“So you must be the miner who received the Gods’ Tear. Thank Isis for her blessing, and thank you.” Maria eyes rested on Amon’s eyes when she spoke, with peace and tenderness. She tried to be calm and serene, but failed to hide her speck of curiosity.
Amon grew nervous, lowering his head by force of habit. Her face was so perfect, especially her eyes. It was like what one can only imagine in the dreams. Amon’s lowered face turned red. There has never been a girl like her before in Duc. Why is she always looking at my eyes? She is actually a girl of my age. I can watch her eyes too.
Amon’s work was simple. He prepared all the things Maria needed, like food, drinks, and so on. He took them to the living room in the first floor, then waited for Maria to use them, then cleared them and handed them over to other servants. For example, he delivered the meals to Maria. Maria did not eat much, not even as much as a third of what Amon ate. But there were many other things than food for Amon to prepare.
Amon had to wash his hands clean before he put all the silver tableware on a small table. Then he cut the food to proper pieces, put the knives and spoons to the right place. He placed the little silver pot of milk, the cup of water and the little saucers for salt and spices to the two sides of the table, then put the whole table in front of the place where Maria sat and ate without making a sound or spilling the milk or soup on the table.
The table with all the meal on it was quite heavy. Carrying them by hand to the first floor and laying it down without a sound was not easy for a 14-year-old. But since Amon could already wield a hammer to extract parangons, it was not a challenge for him.
Maria made little sound when she had the meals. Even the tableware seldom made a noise. It was indeed a sign of her good breeding. At her side, Amon bowed as she finished meal, brought the table away and passed her the water and towel for washing her face and mouth. Then he went out and waited till Maria finished the washing. And he came in and brought the utensils and towers out, standing on the stairs for the next call.
As the Adoratrice, Maria could have as many attendants as she wanted if she was at the shrine of Isis. But Maria was in Duc and so, all the things had to be done by Amon alone.
The longest moment Amon stayed with Maria was at mealtime. Born and raised in Duc, Amon had never seen a person as clean as Maria. Maybe “clean” wasn’t the right word. The correct word would be “pure”. Amon could not speak to Maria unless he was asked to. But during the meals, after Maria took a sip of water or milk, she would ask him some questions, sometimes about Duc, sometimes about the parangon mining. She was curious about them.
Amon replied in great detail. He found that Maria seemed to have a habit of watching his eyes when speaking to him. Her lips curled slightly with a light mild smile. It made Amon a little uneasy. His heart beat quickly and he didn’t know where to put his hands.
She is so beautiful. I want to watch her. But why don’t I have the courage? Her eyes aren’t scary at all. But why do I fear? Amon was frustrated.
What Amon did not know was that Maria was not used to this either. She did it because Gabriel told her to do so. Gabriel instructed her along with the magic,
“Lord Maria, you are pure and simple. Those are the qualities the Adoratrice should have. But you are still too young and they make you look a little submissive. As the Adoratrice, you guard the majesty of Mother Isis. So you should not let people feel that you are timid. From now on you should try to form a habit; you should watch people’s eyes when you talk to them.”
“You should look kindly at them, but don’t give them the feeling that you are trying to flinch or to dodge. You should watch them like a goddess watching her people. Whether a king or a slave, you should gaze at them in the same manner. This is what the Adoratrice should do. No one should dare to look down on you. Your eyes will convey the great Isis’ mercy.”
But there was hardly anyone for Maria to “practice”. The easiest target to find was Amon. Poor Amon had no idea, and continued to be rather awkward under Maria’s watch. Amon did not know who Maria was. Even if he was told, he had no idea what the Adoratrice of Isis Shrine signified. All he knew was that Maria was a noble miss. He had to call her Lord Maria and could not offend her.
Would it be an offense to watch this beautiful girl, welcoming her gaze? Crazy’Ole had never told him about it, nor had his drunken father. It shouldn’t be. She watches me first! Amon was uncomfortable with his awkward behavior, especially the rapid drumming heart beats he often felt. What a loser!
Fortunately, there were no other issues besides that. The job itself was simple. However, in the first night Amon stayed, an accident occurred.
Amon was sleeping under the stairs, in the midst of a hazy dream. In the dream, Maria was gazing at him, and he reciprocated with the same intensity, He felt strange, almost like what he felt after bathing in the cold spring in the Charcoal Forest and having a rest beside the spring.
Suddenly Amon heard a scream. The scream wasn’t very loud, almost subdued, but the fear was palpable. It was coming from Maria’s room. Amon jumped up, but his head was still foggy from his dream, and he ended up smacking his head on the board under the stairs.
But Amon did not care about the pain. He shot out from beneath the stairs, jumped over the rail to the stairs and rushed to the first floor. He crossed the living room and reached the door of Maria’s bedroom.