“Did Guy do this to you?” Balian lowered himself to the ground, now kneeling beside Viggo. He reached out and touched Viggo’s cheek but quickly withdrew his hand when Viggo winced in pain. “Is this because of me?” Viggo did not answer and his silence told Balian everything he wanted to know. “I am so sorry, Viggo. I was only trying to protect you. Guy had no right…”
“With all due respect, my lord, he does have the right. He is a member of the court, a knight, a lord, the Princess’ husband. I am only…”
Balian silenced Viggo with a touch of his hand to the other man’s cheek. “You’re a man, a person, a human being. You are not dog or a horse, some animal at Guy’s disposal that he can beat into submission.” Viggo averted his eyes. He had indeed been beaten into submission, all of his life. It was all he knew. Balian ran his over Viggo’s cheek, his fingers trailing in the fresh blood that seeped from Viggo’s wound. “Come with me, Viggo,” The young man’s words were more of a soft plea than an order. “Allow me to tend to your injuries. It is the least I can do for you after being the cause of your suffering.”
“The least you can do is nothing,” Viggo whispered.
Balian brought both hand to Viggo’s face now, lifting the older man’s head. “I will not leave you here. If you will only listen to a command then…” Balian closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. When he opened his eyes he took on an authoritative air. “You will get up out of the dirt and you will come with me. Do you understand?”
“Yes, my lord,” Viggo’s voice was barely audible over the splashing of the fountain. When Balian removed his hands from Viggo’s face the older man stood. He waited with his head bowed for the baron to rise and proceed before him.
Neither man spoke a word as they made their way to Balian’s chambers. Once inside the rooms Balian pointed to a mound of pillows piled on a tufted rug beneath the window. A warm breeze blowing in from the dessert lifted the silk panels that covered the opening, making them flutter and dance. “Sit there,” Balian ordered gently. He stepped close to Viggo and placed his hand on the other man’s shoulder, his thumb stroking over the skin of Viggo’s throat. “I will return,” he promised in a whisper, “so please don’t leave.” Viggo nodded his head and again waited for Balian to remove his hand before moving to the rug.
Balian watched Viggo settle down on the pillows then turned, leaving his rooms and going out into the corridor. He had no idea where he was going to look for the things he needed so he wandered the hallways until he came across a servant who was tending to the lamps. “You there,” he called in a hushed voice. When the servant turned he continued, “I need water, hot water. And bandages, where can I find bandages.”
“Do you need to see one of the doctors, my lord?” The servant asked, his eyes moving over Balian’s face and body.
Balian thought on it for a moment. Perhaps he should find a physician to tend to Viggo. But he realized that all of the fussing would only serve to spook the older man even more. And besides, Balian knew how to tend to wounds. He often had to care for his own abrasions and burns sustained while laboring with the hammer and the forge. “No,” he answered finally, shaking his head. “Just please help me find what I need.” The servant nodded and helped Balian gather up all of the necessary supplies.
When Balian returned to his chamber he found Viggo still lying beneath the window, just as he was told to do. He had reclined back against the pillows, his eyes were closed and his breath came in soft, rhythmic puffs. A smile flickered over the younger man’s lips and he stood watching Viggo for several long moments. He considered not disturbing Viggo and allowing him to rest for a while. But a trickle of fresh blood flowed from the wound on Viggo’s temple. “You will be able to sleep, Viggo,” Balian whispered, “After I take care of you.” He set the jug and strips of cloth down on the rug at Viggo’s feet. He looked about the room and found a large gilded basin he fetched that and placed it with the rest of his supplies. He knelt down on the rug and poured some of the water into the basin. He took a strip of cloth and dipped in the water, wetting it thoroughly then wringing it out just a little. When he touched the gauze to Viggo’s temple the older man startled and gasped. “Shhh…” Balian soothed, “lie still. The less you move the more quickly I will be done and the sooner you can get back to sleep.” With light, tender touches, Balian cleaned and dressed Viggo’s wounds. As he did so, he committed to memory a map of the older man’s face. Every line every curve. He pressed his thumb into the cleft on Viggo’s chin. He counted every scar. “Is Guy responsible for this as well?” He asked as his index finger traced over Viggo’s upper lip. He felt Viggo tremble under his touch.
“I was eleven,” Viggo told him, his voice was thick with fatigue. “I don’t remember much of what happened except that Guy ambushed me from behind a palm. He had a clay pot in his hands that he smashed over my face.”
Current Mood: hungry