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Cross posted from Madrona Project

Title: Respite
Author: kira
Word Count: 2070
World: Germanian border
Main Characters: Sieglinde Pawlitzki, a Knight of the Order of Saint Maria, and Zurvan ut Eichlisch-Kuenzi, a young R’kanseeli male
Borrow: yes
Summary: Zurvan has a brief respite from his wanderings in the home of former Crusader, now hermetic nun, Sieglinde…
Author’s Note: Thanks to Kat for pinking this for me and special thanks to n0t-chan for letting me play with Zurvan & making sure I had his character correct…
For not-chan with love…

The young R’kanseeli male, who was nearly a man, limped away. He had barely escaped with his life; a fortuitous slip of his opponent and the big, dark, bear of a man was lying dead on the ground. He took the man’s horse and rode off into the proverbial sunset near the Germanian border. He rode hard for several days, encountering no one, and the young R’kanseeli man began to worry as the wound in his leg was starting to fester. He woke up one morning in a beautiful valley. Delirious with fever, he left his horse behind and began to walk until he collapsed near a stream.

Sieglinde Pawlitzki pulled her shawl tighter around her with one hand; the other held a basket of tubers and part of a cache of nuts that some squirrel had forgotten over the winter. Her long blonde hair ruffled in the breeze as she paused to enjoy the moment of peace and tranquility in her hermetic life. Sieglinde was on her way to the stream that ran not far from the small hut she called home. One of her dogs ran ahead of her and she hoped he would not scare the ducks that nested along the riverbank. It had been warm a few days ago, although it now felt colder and damper; and Sieglinde wondered if the spring rains were coming sooner than expected. She was pulled from her musings when her dog began barking excitedly.

“Jaeger! Come!” Sieglinde called out.

The dog obediently ran towards her. He whined, turned around, and ran back towards where he had come from. Jaeger barked excitedly.

Sieglinde sighed and headed over there. Figuring it was a nest of baby bunnies, she was surprised to see a man lying in the grass. “By the Great Mother!” she swore softly. “You’re rather far from home, R'kanseeli warrior.” Sieglinde knelt beside him and cautiously reached out to brush some of the dark hair that had come loose from his braids away from his face. “You’re burning up and you stink to the heavens too.” Sieglinde stood and, pulling her shawl closer, called out to her dog, “Jaeger, stay! Watch this one.”

Without another word, she turned and trudge back the way she came. When she reached her home, Sieglinde called her other dogs over. Taking the two strongest, she hitched them to a travois and walked back to where she had left the man.

Zurvan ut Eichlisch-Kuenzi groaned. Someone or something was licking his cheek. As annoying as it was, it also felt strangely good, hence his half-hearted attempts at dissuading whoever it was from licking him. He rolled onto his back at the sound of laughter, and shielding his eyes with his arm, he croaked, “Shuddafkup.”

Sieglinde laughed. “By the Great Mother you’re a feisty one!” She approached him and knelt at his side. She laid the back of her hand against his cheek. “Your fever hasn’t broken.” When Zurvan grabbed her wrist she cried, “Hey!”


Sieglinde easily pulled her hand from his grip. “Look, you’re feverish, R’kanseeli Warrior, probably from an infected wound.” She sighed. “I thought your people were traders.” She reached out to touch the sigil tattooed on his chest, chuckling softly at his feeble attempt to bat her hand away. She stood up to go get her dogs and the travois.

Zurvan grunted, and rolling onto his side, he tried to sit up. His head swam and he lay back down again. He cursed her soundly in his head, finding it too exhausting do otherwise. He ignored her after that, except for a hoarse snarl when she tried moving him. Zurvan groaned in pain before the blackness swallowed him up.

He woke up two days later, the smell of food cooking, making his mouth water. While he still felt ill, he felt a lot better than he had when he started his wanderings. The pain in leg was now a dull throb, and at the urgings of his full bladder, he decided to get up out of bed and empty it. He was not that surprised to find himself on a straw pallet on the floor, but he was surprised to find himself naked and his wounds dressed.

“Morning, Sunshine,” Sieglinde said. Ladling some porridge into a bowl, she smiled sweetly at him. “You need any help?”

Zurvan frowned and shook his head at her. He moved to stand up when she called out,

“I’d be careful with that leg. I had a helluva time stitching that one closed after I cleaned that wound.” She looked over her shoulder at him. “So if you open it, you can close it yourself.”

He grunted, which quickly became groaning as he pushed himself slowly to his feet. Zurvan swayed unsteadily on his feet, willing himself not to fall.

“Good, you can stand,” Sieglinde said as she carried two bowls of porridge over to the table. “You’re not out of the woods yet, I mean you could still die, but it appears you’re not only on the mend, but made of sterner stuff than first thought.” She grinned at him. “By the way, if you piss on my clean floor, R’kanseeli, I’ll beat you to death with my mop. Now out with you! And don’t just piss on the first bush you find. This is my home and there’s a latrine several paces away.”

Zurvan nodded. He took a few shuffling steps forward before his legs threatened to give out on him. To add insult to injury, Sieglinde was quickly at his side, looping his arm around her neck, with her arm closest to him around his waist, as she helped him out of her hut. The grass was soft under his feet and though their movements were painfully slow, they made it far enough away from her hut, before his need to empty his bladder became too great and he urinated. The way back to her hut and his makeshift bed, was equally as slow.

“Aren’t you going to thank me?” she asked as she helped him get comfortable again on his pallet.

He snorted in amusement. “What for, Bitch? Dragging me outside to piss?”

Sieglinde narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m nobody’s bitch.”

Zurvan rolled his eyes and made a little sound that said he believed otherwise.

Sieglinde let out an angry snort. She muttered a quick prayer, just under her breath, to the Great Mother asking for patience in dealing with this lump of a boy pretending to be a man. “I’m a Knight of the Order of Saint Maria and I’ve been on more crusades than you’ve seen summers, R’kanseeli.”

“Oh really?” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Yeah. How else did you think I knew how to care for your wounds?” Sieglinde smirked. “Or you armor?” She chuckled softly. “Don’t worry, it’s safe and your sword has been sharpened.” When he narrowed his eyes at her, she added, “Don’t get any ideas either. If you want a romp in bed, just ask-”

“As if I’d ask you.”

“Don’t take, ask,” she continued as if he had not interrupted her. “I may be the shrine maiden here, but I assure you, I’m no maiden.”

“So what?” Zurvan shrugged. “Some asshole shoved his cock up your smelly cunt, big deal. I bet you laid there all frigid and practically shitting yourself over it.”

Sieglinde laughed. “You wish! Just don’t let Brother Christoph hear you say that.” She wagged her finger at him. “He’s liable to kick your ass and sell you to the Amazons as a plaything.”

“I’m not afraid of him.”

“You should be. He’s tall and broad and strong as an ox.”

“I’ve killed bigger men.”

“I’ve no doubt you have.” She shoved a bowl of porridge in his hands. Frowning, she said, “Don’t make me regret my vows of hospitality, R’kanseeli!”

Hungry, Zurvan shovel the porridge in his mouth and swallowed. “How do you know I’m R’kanseeli?”

“You look like the troop of fire-spinners I had seen a few years ago in Madrona. They had long braided hair, beautiful tattoos like the one you have.” She fell silent as she recalled the memory of a nearly forgotten summer. “I believe they were also leather workers. I bought a pair bracers from the woman. I still have them if you want to see them.”

Zurvan shook his head. Had it been that long ago that he was there with the family, that later disowned him, that he did not remember her? Not that it seemed she remembered him either, but then again, he had been a child at the time.

“You okay, R’kanseeli?”


They ate the rest of their breakfast in silence and when they were finished, she had, unbeknownst to her, left him with some troubling thoughts that he would rather not deal with. When she told him she was leaving to tend to her livestock, he simply ignored her. Putting those thoughts out of his mind, Zurvan rolled over onto his side and tried to sleep. She woke him several hours later with a boot to his arse.

“You want some lunch, R’kanseeli?”

“Stop calling me that!” he snarled.

“Since I have no idea what your name is, and seeing how it rolls off the tongue better than ‘Arschloch,’ I figured it’d do.”


“Well then, Master Zurvan, since you’ve given me your name, it’s only fair I give you mine.”

He sat up and waited.

“I’m Sieglinde, but everyone calls me ‘Sigi’.”

“Ziggy?” he repeated.

She laughed. “Close enough.”

Things became better between them once they shared their names with each other and they fell into a routine of getting up, and going about their day, before bed. With each passing day, Zurvan grew better and his wounds healed. He had also taken to sharing Sieglinde’s bed, although there was no physical union between them. Her bed was simply a better and more comfortable place to sleep than the floor.

One evening he tried to rape her, cutting her shift from her body, heedless of if he hurt her, but she deftly turned the tables on him. “What is given freely can never be taken by force,” she told him and he beat her soundly for it. He took his pleasure from her as well, until she explained to him through bloody and swollen lips that it was part of her training as a soldier for her order that hardened her against it.

“If you beat me so badly that you kill me, you’ll only make a martyr of me, Zurvan. I’ll simply die in service to the Great Mother.”

“And if I slit your throat?” he purred, holding a knife to her throat.

“The same. I’m not afraid of you, R’kanseeli.”

“You should be.” Pressing the blade deeper into her skin, he drew a bead of blood along the shiny metal.


“I’m an animal like the ones whose blood is staining your floor.”


Zurvan clamped his hand over her mouth. “You can’t redeem me. No one can! I’ve been cursed to the darkest depths of the Ninth Hell!” He stared into her eyes, finally seeing real fear there. “That’s right! Fear me, Sigi! Fear the animal that I am!” He laughed, and pushing her away from him, Zurvan went on a rampage in her home. Smashing and slashing anything and everything as he vented his anger over her kindness and acceptance she had shown him; he laughed manically at the destruction.

Sieglinde sank to the floor and watched in horrified silence as her world came crashing down around them. Leaving her with nothing but the bare frame of her hut, Zurvan stalked out into the night never to return. Sieglinde rocked back and forth as she sat there, praying to the Great Mother to watch over his lost soul. Then, with the weariness of one who has seen one too many battles, she picked herself up off the floor, and finding a tattered shift, she threw it on. Sieglinde sighed and set to work, picking up the pieces of her life that had been shattered by a boy who had let his inner demons get the better of him. As she buried her dogs, she asked the Great Mother to protect the next person he came in contact with. Sieglinde had the feeling they would not fare as well as she did.


the Duchess of Crack! and the Queen of Fluff

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