Prologue : Saint Maria
Chapter 6 – Breast – Part 1
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.