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.He will die in agony if he is not released.He will destroy himself from within if not joined with you.Is one man’s life worth all the goodness you could do with your own?”Nadira rolled herself over on the stone floor and gazed with exhausted resignation at the dark ceiling.“Can we not do both?” she sighed.“Is there no compromise? Why must it be one or the other? Surely there are priests who have concubines in their chambers.Cannot a priestess have her own? Are men the only ones who are permitted some comfort in the night? If all things are possible, why must we follow rules blindly?”The last word echoed off the walls and faded to silence.Nadira closed her eyes and breathed the perfumed air into her body.She did not expect an answer from the priestess.She was too busy asking herself what it was she really wanted.Do I give up my love and my friends to focus my life on the pursuit of knowledge? Do I return to the world of violence and greed to exist as a servant to others? Even as a free woman I would be as a servant to customers, as a wife is servant to a man, as a mother is bound to a child.There is no true freedom for a woman outside these walls.Her reverie was broken by the soft laugh of the priestess.“’Cannot a priestess have her own?’” She laughed again, harder this time.“In all my years no novice, no acolyte, nor priestess, has ever suggested she needed a kept-man in her quarters.Never.”Nadira sighed again and shook her head.“It has happened now.”“Yes.And I have an answer for you.No man may stay in the temple, for it is certain the women and girls will fear him.But this does not mean that he cannot be kept in the city.” She extended a hand to help Nadira to her feet.“You know that he will not stay with you until his enemy is dead.” Nadira nodded, reluctantly acknowledging the truth.The priestess continued, “Tell him, or not.The decision is yours.You can do remarkable things, Nadira the Precious One.But you cannot turn a wolf into a lap dog.”“No.Indeed, I cannot.”“This small brown one, however.” The priestess paused.“This one…he is yours as much as the tall dark one.He is a lap dog that you are turning into a wolf.He loves you and cannot have you.He takes risks and his soul becomes darker with his need and frustration,” she smiled, “yet he will not place his seed inside you either.What is it about you, Precious One, that these men withhold their manly desires when you are present?”Nadira struggled with an answer before she realized the older woman was teasing her.She let her breath out slowly.“Please, it is no laughing matter to either of them.”“No.Forgive me.I see the scars on the back of the brown one, the scars on the soul of the dark one.It is no laughing matter.But I will tell you that I have never seen this before, and I have lived nearly ninety years.I have never seen men deny themselves a thing that they wanted.In this world, men struggle to take what they want.They lie, murder and steal to get it.Those that don’t get their desire regret that they have been bested by others and mete out their anger and frustration on the weak and innocent.This is what I have seen.You come here to learn the knowledge of the ancients, Precious One, and on your first day you teach the ancient one a new lesson.Go now.Come back on the morrow.Come back.We will share what we know.Both of us.”When she emerged from the cave entrance, Garreth stood and held a hand out to her.He smiled.Nadira took his hand and he led her down the path to the sea and along the shore back to the city.As they walked in silence she looked up at him.He had aged more than the others since Richard’s death.Gray hairs were entwined in his golden braid that hung down his back to his belt.Deep wrinkles creased his eyes and the skin on his arms was no longer tight, but seemed to cover his muscles like a loose tunic.Nadira could not look at him and think of the evils of the world.His body was still hard and strong, his pace steady and a bit too fast for her.She trotted along beside him until the sounds of her panting slowed him out of courtesy.He looked down at her and grinned, pointing to the buildings in the distance.“Yes.I am eager to get there, too.”He pointed back toward the cave and raised his eyebrows.“I met with her.It is good.”He nodded and turned his attention to the path on the rocky beach [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]