Spain in the year of the Lord 1498
Robin found himself in very strange surroundings. He had never been to Spain before and the immense heat confused him. But right now he had another problem. Robin hadn’t any Spanish skills and he still had to find the woman, Sarianna had told him about. Her name was quite strange and he was still dizzy from that very special kind of traveling. Robin tried to focus his mind on that one woman, first of all on her name. Her first name was not that difficult; he remembered it quite well. Patrizia. What a wonderful name, he thought. One of his youth loves, carried the same name. Her last name proved to be more difficult to remember. He was sure that it started with a T ... Tonera, no ... Tolero, no ... Toledano, yes her last name was Toledano. Patrizia Toledano. A beautiful name and yet it sounded so strange.
Robin spent more than six hours wandering through the strange streets, asking everyone for the woman, only by mentioning her name. But all passengers only shrugged their shoulders. Eventually he came to the harbor and wandered along the water, staring at the huge ships in amazement. He didn’t recognize the person following him closely. The two of them walked together, unknown by one another, for a little while, until Robin felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Robert of Locksley?" the female voice behind him asked. Robin turned around and looked into the most beautiful brown eyes he had ever seen. The woman in front of him was not very tall, her body perhaps a little fleshy. The long brown hair had shimmer of red in the sun and fell softly down on her small shoulders.
"I am Patrizia Toledano," she smiled, her English kissed by a light Spanish accent. "Sarianna has sent you."
"That’s true. You speak English?" he asked, still puzzled by her sudden appearance.
"My mother is from England. She came here when she fell in love with my father many years ago."
"I hope you don’t mind me, but you are no vampire?" Robin asked. Patrizia laughed hearty.
"No, I’m not and don’t be afraid of Sarianna and her kind. They are no danger for you. But hey, do you want to lurk around here any longer? I suppose you to be hungry and thirsty, so why don’t we just go into a tavern and get you something to eat and to drink."
"Sounds good to me," Robin and smiled at her and followed her back into town.
"Where are we here?" he asked her, when they finally had their mugs of wine and wooden bowls filled with hot steaming soup. Robin ate hungrily and Patrizia watched him amused, while he ate. When he had finished his meal, the red sweet wine ran down his throat in one big stream and he emptied the mug. Patrizia ordered two more mugs and when they had their wine, they were free to talk. Robin noticed, that the young Spanish woman appeared to be nervous, recognizing that she was looking around nervously.
"What is it?" he asked her, now looking around himself, but he couldn’t discover any threat. When Patrizia had assured herself, that they were save, she started to tell him the things he needed to know. But still she was talking very quietly, as if she was afraid to be discovered. And Robin soon find out why.
"You might not know it Robert..."
"Robin, please, call me Robin."
"Okay, Robin. You might not know it, but you have not only traveled to Spain, but you also traveled through time. The one who has, what you are looking for, is able to do the same and he came here, because he thinks, that he would be save here."
"What year is it? And would you now please tell me, where I am?" Robin demanded.
"We are in the year of the Lord 1498 and the Holy Inquisition is sickening whole Spain. Right now we are in the town of Málaga on the Spanish south coast, but we won’t stay here for long. As far as I know, the one you’re looking for has been seen in Toledo lately. So we’ll go there."
"The Holy Inquisition? What is it about?"
"The Royal family, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain ordered every Jew living in Spain either to leave the country or to become a true Christian, which means for most of them a betrayal of the religion of their fathers and so they leave the country. Two years ago, on August 2nd, the last Jew left Spain. But never think that peace came into the country by then. Ferdinand and Isabella now use the Holy Church for their needs. They have many inquisitors, doing the dirty part of the work for them. The so called New Christians, Jews who had decided to become Catholics, were accused to still worship their old God and that meant death for them. Many innocent people died during the last two years in huge autos de fé, huge events, where the condemned were burned. These autos de fé were usually held once a month and unfortunately they still are." Patrizia paused and Robin noticed a single tear rolling down her rosy cheek. "I’ve lost many friends in only one of them. The worst thing is, that they kill everyone, who is supposed to be still a Jew. They even kill those, who were known as real Christians for long and one of them was my husband."
"Your husband?" Robin asked, feeling the troubles she had, telling him about it all.
"Yes. We used to live in Saragossa and were known by many people as good Christians, both me and Meir. He was killed in the very first auto de fé. That was the first time, when I prayed the Kaddish and the Shema again, my mind rebelling against those who brought that great sickness over the whole country." Patrizia and Robin both sat there for a while, none of them speaking a word. Robin just didn’t dare to say anything, because he couldn’t believe what he had just heard.
"I’ve never become a true Christian anyway," she smiled, trying to cease the tense in the air.
"But now let’s talk about our main task. You haven’t come here, to free Spain from the Inquisition. One of my spies from Toledo told me, that Raven’s son is hiding as a monk there. He spends most of his days in the cathedral, praying on his knees."
"I supposed him to be a vampire. Doesn’t all that holy stuff kill him?" Robin asked.
"His son is now calling himself Diego Deza and no, it doesn’t kill him because he has never been a real vampire. Once in a thousand years it happens, that if an immortal mates with a mortal, and immortal is born, who has all the skills a vampire has, but he has nothing to fear as well. Nothing that kills a vampire could kill him and he doesn’t need blood as well. That’s what makes him so dangerous, much more dangerous, than his father has ever been. He has the sacred water and it is gonna be a hard job to get it out of his hands. And besides, where would a sacred water better be hidden, than in a cathedral?" Patrizia told him. Robin could nothing do, but to nod. He had never known, that there were so many different kinds of vampires.
"We’ll leave Málaga tomorrow so get some good sleep. We have two rooms upstairs. We’ll leave very early in the morning tomorrow."
Robin and Patrizia had another mug of wine before they both headed to their rooms. Once alone, Robin let himself fall down on the pallet, placed by the window. He took in a deep breath of the warm night air that came through the open window. Although his mind was filled with unanswered questions, he soon fell asleep. He knew that there was still a lot to come and that he would need all of his energy, if he wanted to help Sarianna and the others.
Their journey to Toledo took them two weeks. Patrizia had managed to get two horses for them and so they could travel more comfortable and didn’t have to walk all the way. After they had left Málaga they next reached Alcalá de Guadaira, then Sevilla, Carmona, Córdoba, Chillón, Almagro, Ciudad Real and finally they arrived in Toledo. It was quite a huge and busy city.
"Have you been here before?" Robin asked Patrizia, amazed by the beauty of the city.
"I was born here. Our house was in the St. Anna Street, near the synagogue in the Jewish quarters. My sister stayed here for another two months, after I had left. When she came to Málaga, she told me, that they are cleaning the Jewish quarters up now. They take away everything, that reminds them of our kind; synagogues are turned into churches and our holy scripts are burned. They use our gravestones to build streets and melt holy symbols and use the gold and silver for something else."
"Have you and your family ever been practicing Christians?" Robin asked her.
"When others were around we were. But we never stopped to celebrate the Sabbath and held onto our traditions. That’s what kept us alive and it still keeps me alive."
"Why did your husband have to die?" Robin asked, but Patrizia didn’t answer.
"It’s already dark and we have a lot to do tomorrow. Let’s get something to eat and a place to sleep." She headed towards a house standing in the middle of the place and opened the door. From inside the laughter of drunk man and women could be heard. Robin followed her immediately. When they entered, Patrizia stopped dead in her tracks and her eyes opened wide in fear.
"Deza," she whispered.
"Deza?" Robin repeated the name, asking with it who this man was and what the dangerous thing about the name was.
"That man over there is Diego Deza, chief inquisitor of the Holy Church. He is Bishop of Palencia. He is the one responsible for the death of my husband."
"What is he doing here then?"
"There must be a inquisition council held in Toledo at the moment."
"And what does that mean for us?" Robin asked.
"That we must get what we want very soon and be on our way. Certainly, there’ll be another auto de fé very soon."
"You think so?"
"I know it! Otherwise, Deza wouldn’t be here. I think it’s better for us to go. I’m afraid he will remember me."
"Don’t you think that it would be better to stay? If these men are really that dangerous as you say, they’ll recognize our behavior. And as far as I know, you die in flames here easily," Robin explained. Patrizia knew that he was right and so she nodded and they entered the inn and sat down. They ordered two bowls of soup and two mugs of wine and dined quietly.
"Have you been there when your husband was executed?" Robin broke the silence. Patrizia shook her head.
"No, I wasn’t. He was held prisoner for two months before he died and by then I’ve already been in Guadalupe, where I found shelter by my older brother who lived there with his family."
"He lived there?"
"Yes, he and his family fled to Portugal."
"What happened to their belongings?" Robin asked.
"They are mine now. I bought the house before they left so that they had some money to start a new life in Portugal."
"Where did you have the money from?" Robin asked her.
"My husband and I had a bakery in Saragossa. We sold two it years before he died and saved the money. I gave it to them and they gave me their house." They paused for a while.
"I’m sorry about what happened to you and your family. Compared with this, my life seems to be like heaven on earth. I don’t think that I would have survived. The burden and sorrows you bear, would have killed me," Robin said sadly.
"You’re life ain’t that easy too, even compared with mine."
"You know what I life I live?" he asked her in surprise.
"I do. Sarianna told me."
"How did you and Sarianna meet?" Robin asked, wanting to know more about their friendship.
"When I was a young girl, my mother took me with her to England. She had relatives in Nottingham, which is, as you know, close to Sherwood Forest. One day she told me about a friend of hers, who appeared to be quite strange. And that was Sarianna. After my parents had died and the rest of my family was gone, she was the only one I had. From time to time she came to Spain and we had a great time. And in times when I felt alone and actually was lonely, she was there for me. And now it is my turn to help her."
"Don’t you think that it is strange, what life brings to us? You’ve lost your family and I’ve lost mine. And both times they were killed by men with too much power in their hands. You know, we are very similar. I fight for the rights of my people. I hope you don’t mind me asking? But are you doing that too?" Robin asked her. Patrizia started smiling.
"I do, but with little success. I am the leader of an underground organization. We called ourselves Kaddish, like the Jewish mourning prayer, because mourning for our dead beloved is what our lives consist of. We were behind Tomás de Torquemada, the very first chief inquisitor, firstly but he suddenly died and so our job was fulfilled by the Almighty himself. And now we are behind Deza and this time we will get him."
"I want to make a deal," Robin said after they had been silent for a very long time.
"You help me find the sacred water and I will help you to get Deza. I’m good in that," he smiled. Patrizia looked deeply into those soulful brown eyes of him and knew by then, that he was honest. The young woman slightly nodded her head.
"Deal," she said.
"Deal," Robin agreed. It was already late at night and so Patrizia asked the innkeeper for a place to sleep. He told her that he wouldn’t have any rooms for guests, but he offered her two pallets before an open fire. Patrizia agreed gladly.
Both of them had a night full of a lack of sleep. Patrizia’s thoughts were with her dead husband; Robin’s thoughts with Marion. Both of them thought of the loves of their lives. And their thoughts were filled with sorrow and fear. The young woman knew, that she lived a life of great danger, but she also knew that she would have to go on with it. It was her fight for justice, a justice needed badly in the Kingdom of Spain. Robin himself thought about Marion and their love for each other. He knew very well, that Marion loved him at least as much as he loved her, but yet deep in his heart was not able to give their love a chance. He just wasn’t ready, was not fully convinced yet, that he could give her the safety and just the life she needed and deserved.
Next morning they woke up after a night of little sleep. But their minds were fully awake. They would find Deza and Robin would get his sacred water, Patrizia and her men their revenge. After they had a small breakfast, which consisted of a tasty yellow cheese and some fresh baked bread, they headed out into the early busy morning hours of the city of Toledo. Patrizia told Robin, that they first would go to cathedral, just to check, if Diego Deza was still in town. Every day in the morning a mass was held and usually all monks of the nearby abbey and higher positioned men of the Holy Church attended the mass. Robin could feel that Patrizia felt uncomfortable inside of the cathedral; there were just too many people around who would have liked to see all of her people die. Nonetheless she put all her efforts on not showing her fear and disgust.
Eventually the mass began and with it all of the monks entered the church. It was Prior Deza himself, who celebrated the morning mass. After mass was over, Robin and Patrizia were careful to stand close to the couple of holy men, who were chatting under the warm morning sun in front of the cathedral. They listened to what they said, and what they heard proved to be of great interest for them. Diego Deza planned on leaving Toledo the next day and his next station would be Gibraltar, which appeared to be one of the last cities in Spain, where no auto de fé had been held yet. But Deza promised, that this would change soon. One of his spies had informed him, that there were still Jews, only pretending to be Christians. They already had been captured and were now waiting for their hearings. Suddenly Deza started laughing, telling his friends, that he was really looking forward to seeing more of those damned Jews burning on the stake. The auto de fé would be held in two weeks.
Robin saw Patrizia’s eyes burning with hate for the man, but yet she stayed calm. He just wanted to get her away from the place as fast as possible. A plan had formed in his mind after getting these information.
"Patrizia, you said that your brothers house in Guadalupe is still yours?" Patrizia nodded.
"Alright, we should leave for Guadalupe now and spend there a couple of days, so that we can make a plan."
"We can’t, Robin. I have to inform the others of Deza’s plans. We mustn’t allow, that this auto de fé will be held."
"You won’t be able to stop it! You have not enough men to fight these huge troops of soldiers, whom will certainly be in Gibraltar, once the auto de fé is announced to be held. Trust me. I know what to do and besides I want Deza myself," Robin tried to convince her. With success, as Patrizia’s nod told him. Only thirty minutes later they were on horseback and on their way to Guadalupe.
After one day on horseback, Robin and Patrizia arrived in Guadalupe. Soon the horses trotted through the small village center towards her brother’s old home. Both of them tethered their horses at a large tree, standing in front of the small stone house. Patrizia opened the door so that they could enter the dusty room, obviously no one had been there in months. But still it was a nice place to live. After they had cleaned themselves with fresh water from the well behind the house, Patrizia went out into the garden and gathered some green onions and peaches for their dinner. Inside Robin was already waiting for her, his eyes filled with sorrow.
"What is it?" Patrizia asked him, noticing the look of his eyes.
"How long will it take us to get to Gibraltar?" he asked her.
"About seven days, if we ride our horses fast," she said. "Why?"
"Then we’ll have to leave the day after tomorrow. Then we will still have five days in Gibraltar before the auto de fé. But Patrizia, I think that we won’t be able to prevent it from being held. There will be people dying. Believe me, there’s nothing that causes me more pain." Although Patrizia knew deeply in her heart that Robin’s words were the sad truth, she went angry.
"You cannot understand it, you cannot imagine the pain, I’m constantly in for many reasons. You know, I think you were right. Compared to my life, yours must be heaven," she yelled and stormed out of the house. Robin didn’t know whether to follow her or not. Finally he decided to not do so. He believed that she would some time for herself, and he was right with it. Patrizia had run to a secret place, where she had went to many times, when she had lost her faith in the world. She sat under the twin oak trees watching the water running calmly and quietly in its bed. Patrizia looked up into the darkening sky watching as the first stars appear on the firmament. It was a Friday and she kept on staring at the sky, waiting for the third star to appear, which announced the arrival of the Holy Sabbath. She felt sorry, that she couldn’t light the sabbath candles and chant the prayers of her people to welcome it. So in her mind she prayed the Kaddish in memoriam of her beloved ones, whose lives had been taken by Holy Inquisition.
Eventually Robin decided to look for her. He didn’t want her to be hurt neither by wolves or men. It was already late in the evening and sun had already gone asleep. He didn’t have to search long; Patrizia sat at a riverbank. When he came closer to her, he heard strange words emitting from her sensual mouth.
" Yis'ga'dal v'yis'kadash sh'may ra'bbo, b'olmo dee'vro chir'usay v'yamlich malchu'say, b'chayaychon uv'yomay'chon uv'chayay d'chol bais Yisroel, ba'agolo u'viz'man koriv; v'imru Omein...." They words appeared more to be a frightened whisper.
"Patrizia, are you alright?" he asked her. She turned around in shock, but was relieved to see that it was Robin.
"Are you afraid of something?" he asked her.
"Yes, if somebody else would hear me talking these words, I’d burn on the stake," she said, a deep sadness covering her voice.
"Will you come home with me? It’s getting quite cold," he offered her his arm and she gladly took it.
"I’m sorry, I was so rude earlier," she apologized.
"It’s okay. If I were you, I’d go crazy! Sometimes I’d really like to know how you can stay this calm," he muttered.
"I have no choice. Everything else would mean death for me and my kind. We’re not free to talk, we have no rights, not even a right to live. You know what the worst thing about a Jewish life in this world is?" she asked him. Robin shook his head.
"You have no place to call a home. We don’t have a home country and in other countries, well you see how much they love us. I know of many people, Jews, who worked for Mother Church and the same appreciated the work of those Jewish hands gladly. They took everything what they could get and then when the Inquisition started to sicken the country, friends killed friends or watched as friends were burning on the stake like chickens over and open fire." Patrizia started to cry heavily. The heavy sobs shook her whole body and just didn’t want to end. Robin took her in his strong arms, trying to comfort her with little success. After two hours they eventually went back to Patrizia’s house.
"We’ll leave for Gibraltar tomorrow. You were right. We must do everything we can, to stop Deza and the sooner, the better it will be," Robin told her before they went to sleep. Patrizia hugged him and thanked him for his help and kindness. Early the next morning, they were off on their way to the city of Gibraltar.
Gibraltar proved to be the most beautiful city, Robin had ever seen. He could only hardly believe, that soon the cruel act of an auto de fé would lay a heavy shadow above its beauty. The first thing Patrizia and Robin did, once they were there, was to look for Denza’s whereabouts. Surely he would be found somewhere near the cathedral. They looked around everywhere, but just couldn’t find him. Very disappointed and truly worn out from a seven days trip on horseback, both of them went looking for shelter for the upcoming nights. It proved to be difficult to find something, though Gibraltar was a pretty large city. Unfortunately they soon found out, why they had such difficulties finding shelter. The inquisitors men had announced the upcoming auto de fé and people came from far away in order not to miss the event. Many had come from Sevilla, Ronda, Málaga and Jaén, some had traveled huge distances from Granada, Cartagena and even Alicante. Prior Deza himself had invited some friends from his old priory in Palencia, which proved to be the largest distance some persons had left behind them.
The day of the auto de fé came closer and closer and to their despair they had not the slightest idea, how they could prevent the auto de fé from being held. Instead, they had to watch helplessly as three days before, the stakes were built up on the plaza mayor. Tears welled up in Patrizia’s eyes as she saw, how many stakes there were. In less than three days fifteen people would die in the flames and what for? For being different, even if only just a little, from others. The days passed painfully slow and Robin noticed, that Patrizia was short before doing something stupid. So when two evenings before the event they sat together over their diners, Robin tried to talk to her.
"What’s going on in your mind?" he asked her.
"Nothing in particular. I only think of it what it would be like to kill the man who is about to commit another terrible crime and what it would be like to kill all those people laughing and cheering as human beings are burnt to death."
"I know that this must be a task hard to bear, but Patrizia, I tried to find a way to stop the thing, but it is just impossible. There are too many people in town."
"I know Robin. But I cannot bear the thought, that in about 48 hours, fifteen people will die and I cannot save them. Where has all the justice of this world gone?" she asked both herself and Robin.
"That’s a question I have asked myself many times, but I never found the answer," Robin said, taking her cold shaking hand. "Justice is a virtue rarely found in today’s world - both in yours and mine." He smiled at her, trying to give her some comfort, but he knew that he could not hope for any success.
The remaining two days were like hell for Patrizia. During nights, terrible nightmares hunted her and during the days she had pictures of her beloved ones in front of her eyes.
Eventually the fateful day of the first auto de fé in Gibraltar had arrived. Though it was still early in the morning, a real crowd was already to be found on the plaza mayor. Patrizia and Robin had disguised themselves, wearing capes, which covered most of their bodies and their hoods covered their heads and drawn deeply into their faces, they almost couldn’t be recognized by others anymore. Robin planned on leaving the plaza mayor, before the event started. He knew that if Patrizia would watch the scenery, she would go mad. Soon after Robin and Patrizia had arrived at the plaza mayor, Prior Deza and his friends arrived. Robin’s eyes wandered around the plaza mayor and soon he knew, that they were in great danger. With Deza’s arrival, soldiers had come too and there was almost no way for them to escape from them. Robin knew, that they were no danger for him, but for Patrizia. He just had to get her out of there, but had no idea how! Certainly Patrizia would refuse to leave the auto de fé before she had had a chance to do something against it. What to do now? What? Robin’s mind worked heavily, but just couldn’t find another way. He took out his dagger from its sheath and knocked Patrizia out. She sank limply into his arms. People around them stared at them, wondering what had happened to the woman.
"The heat, you know," Robin tried to explain with a dimpled grin. The people seemed to be satisfied with his explanation and Robin was glad they were. As fast as he could, he carried Patrizia out of the crowd and when they were out, he threw her over his shoulder and quickly went toward the stables, where they had left their horses. He threw her over her mount and mounted himself. Certainly Robin had never got out of a town so quickly.
When Patrizia opened her eyes again, she looked into the deep dark velvet blue sky. From her left side a warmth came towards her and when she turned around, she saw Robin sitting in front of an open fire. Only then she recognized the throbbing pain in her head, going down her neck into her shoulders. Obviously Robin had heard her moan of pain, because he turned his head around and looked at her.
"I’m sorry," he said.
"Why?" she asked, rubbing her temples.
"I guess it was me who inflicted that heavy head on you. I had to knock you out. It had become too dangerous in Gibraltar," he explained.
"Why did you do that? I’m able to escape from dangers myself," she yelled, jumping up from the forest floor, which she regretted immediately. She was truly angry with him.
"Where are we now?"
"You’ve slept pretty long. We are between Cartagena and Alicante now. Tomorrow we should be in Alicante."
"Why Alicante?" she asked him, not able to hide a bit of confusion in her voice.
"I’ve heard people talking in an inn about Deza. They said he would be expected in Alicante next."
"Well, they’ve told you something wrong. He won’t go to Alicante. His next destination is Cuenca, still quite a distance away from Alicante." She paused. "Tell me how you’ve found your way?! I mean, you’ve never been to Spain before."
"Well, I’m a man who lives in a huge forest. I’m used to finding my ways," he grinned and invited her to share dinner with him.
Patrizia and Robin arrived in Alicante late the next night. Guards were just about to close the city gates when they rode in.
"Shall we look for a place to sleep?" Robin asked her.
"No. I know where we’ll find a bed to sleep," she said and led their way. They rode through the whole city, towards the other end until they came to a small house. Light shone through the windows. Patrizia dismounted and knocked three times against the door. An elderly woman opened, her face showing surprise and kindness when she saw who the person was, that disturbed their peace of night.
"Patrizia," the woman welcomed her. "How are you doing, my girl?"
"I’m doing fine, grandma," Patrizia smiled and hugged the old woman. "Grandma, I’ve brought a friend of mine," she mentioned Robin to come closer. "His name is Robert of Locksley, an earl from England." The old woman smiled at Robin. "This is Juana Toledano, my husband’s grandmother," she told Robin.
"Now come in," Juana said. "Or do you want to spend the night outside?" Robin and Patrizia gladly accepted her invitation. When they were inside, a small boy of five years ran towards Patrizia, hugging her so tightly, that Patrizia had a hard time to catch breath.
"Robin, this is Aaron ben Meir Toledano," she paused and looked deeply into his eyes. "My son," she added.
"Your son?" he asked her. "Why is he here with his grandmother instead of you?"
"Aaron, it’s late. I think it’s time for you to go to bed," Patrizia said, ignoring Robin.
"Mama, I don’t want. You’ve been gone so long and I want to be with you now," Aaron protested.
"I’ll join you later," she promised. "Grandma, would you take him to bed? I have to talk to my friend," Patrizia asked her. The old woman nodded and lifted the boy up into her arms. Then she left the two of them alone. Patrizia signaled Robin to sit down at the table in the middle of the room. He did as he was bid and Patrizia joined him.
"Robin listen. I know that it would be better for us all, if I could stay with my family. But that’s impossible. I have to do a very important job and Aaron has always been my reason, to do it. Once he shall live in a better place in a better world. It want him to live in a world of peace and not of war."
"But don’t you think that there are others out there who could do that job, as you call it, for you. A son needs nothing more than his mother. I must know, since I’ve lost mine at the age of four."
"I know your history Robin. But I cannot change my mind. I’ve made a promise and I keep my promises. Tomorrow we’ll leave for Cuenca. I suppose Deza is already there." She stood up from her seat. "My grandmother will give you a place to sleep. I want to spend the night with my son," she said and left him back alone. Soon Juana came and showed him a pallet in the other corner of the room and told him, that he should try to make himself as comfortable as possible on it. Then she went through one of the three doors in the house, obviously her own bed chamber. Only a few moments later the same door opened again and Juana returned.
"Take care of her. Aaron needs her and will need her. I’m an old woman. My time will come all too soon."
"I will do my best," Robin promised her, knowing that he would probably not be able to do his words justice. Seemingly satisfied she closed the door behind her, but before she had turned around to leave him, he could see the tears that had welled up in her eyes.
The next morning Robin and Patrizia left.
I still don’t understand why you rather risk your life, than to help your son to become a man. He needs you, Patrizia." Robin still had a hard time to accept her decision to leave her son once again. He knew how a motherless child felt - from his own experience. But on the other hand he somehow understood her. She needed to take her revenge and in some way she also did it for her son. Robin had watched her the night before, when she was playing with her son and he could see, that she loved Aaron more than anything else on this world - she loved him even more, than her own life and she would gladly give it for him.
"Robin, we’ve discussed this earlier. You know my reasons and you must accept them. And besides we shouldn’t discuss such matters here in public.
Wrong ears could hear wrong words. Please, we have to find out where the enemy has made himself comfortable at. We’ve gotta go now. The final countdown has already begun. This will be our last chance to get the man, because in less than three weeks he’ll meet with the queen and the king and as far as we know he’ll stay at their palace for a very long time and keep the inquisition going from there. He’s a bad man and has to be punished, although his own dead will never bring the others back to us. The only difference between his death and the many deaths caused by his verdicts is, that he is guilty. My people died innocently." Patrizia smiled at him. "Now let’s see where we will find my friends or how Deza would call them, my fellow traitors," she grinned. Of course she knew where to find her men. She led Robin to the outskirts of Cuenca, where they stopped at a ruin of something that in ancient days surely had been a small castle.
"Doesn’t look like a safe hiding place," Robin muttered.
"Believe me, it’s much more safer than any other place. None would come here who calls himself a real Christian. They suppose this to be a haunted place. You can tell it’s not so," she laughed.
"You’re right. Well they said the same about Sherwood some time ago," he agreed. They left their horses back in the courtyard and went inside. Robin was breathless, how many people Patrizia had in fellowship. There were at least fifty men and women all welcoming Patrizia with a "Shalom" here and a "Shalom" there. Some of them eyed Robin suspiciously. Patrizia noticed their gazes and tried to soft their concerns.
"It’s all right. He’s a friend. This is Robert of Locksley. He was sent to us by an old friend from Britain. He lives a life similar to ours and has the same task to fulfill. Don’t worry about him," she paused and smiled at Robin. "Robin Hood is a wonderful man." And then the others welcomed Robin as warmly as they had welcomes Patrizia before.
"Okay, Noah, would you be so kind to show Robin a place to rest and refresh. Maria, Gabriel and Simon you will come with me," she ordered. Robin was taken away to a room somewhere in the long dark corridors of the castle, while Patrizia disappeared with the other woman and the two men.
Patrizia, Maria, Gabriel and Simon sat down in front of a fireplace. AÔ a, another woman of their group, had brought some fresh bread, cheese, green onions and grapes for Patrizia. Before she left the room, Patrizia held her back.
"Serve Robin as well. He ought to be hungry as well." AÔ a nodded and left them alone. Patrizia wasn’t very hungry. She only ate little. Sometimes when she had problems and sorrows filled her very mind and soul, her stomach just seemed to be disappeared. Although the other three knew that, they urged her to eat more. They told her that she would have to gain strength for the soon coming battle against Deza.
"Has Deza already arrived in Cuenca?" Patrizia asked, sipping from her wine.
"Yes. He arrived yesterday. Our spies said, that he resides in the monastery between the great cathedral and our former synagogue, which now has been turned into a church indeed," Gabriel told her. Patrizia nodded.
"Listen, my friend, Robin, he needs something from Deza as well. Sarianna told me that we can trust him with our lives. You know what Sarianna and her kind had been yearning for so long and now the man has come who can give them their lives, their mortal lives, back. And this man appears to be Robin. Deza now has the sacred water Robin is to find for Sarianna. He promised me to help us. Sarianna said, that he is a man with great experience in such tasks, which should be an advantage for us, since we haven’t done anything like this ever before."
"Are you sure we can trust him?" Simon asked her.
"Absolutely." She paused. "Well would you please be so kind to leave me alone now. I need some sleep and I still have to form a plan in my mind. The only thing I know for sure is, that we’ll put our plans into action the night from Saturday to Sunday. Usually Deza spends these nights kneeling before the altar praying. None will be around. So this will be the best time for us to do it. By the way, I’ve seen him in such a night before and he keeps on falling asleep about two in the morning. So it shouldn’t be so difficult to surprise him, while he’s asleep." Again she paused. "Now leave me alone. None is to see me. I’m really exhausted." Maria, Gabriel, and Simon stood up from their seats and smiled at Patrizia. They were amazed by her courage to go on with the fight and by her strength of which she seemed to have enough for all of them.
End of Chapter Four
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