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Last night I dreamed of Augustine. He was as alive as you and me – and seemed not to have changed, despite it being two decades since I saw him last. It was as though we were both in the courtyard of his palace in Hippo in those dying days before the end of all things.
Oh how I long to feel again that sunshine, the warmth, the sun on my skin, and how I yearn for the taste of ripe figs and fresh grapes! I want that again before I go from this vale of tears.
Augustine has become a legendary figure, but even then, it was plain to see that he was special. It was not just that he was the most handsome of men, though I could see why he had asked God to make him chaste, but not at once! If his handsome features showed why so many women found him attractive, the eloquence of his words, combined with the strength of his intellect, gave him a charisma which pulled you in, heart and mind. He was a giant in an age of dwarves. But even in my dreams, I could not find a way to reach his heart. He had one, I knew, but long, long before, he had sacrificed it to his version of God. Perhaps we all do it, so who am I to condemn him for faults which I doubtless I share?
I daresay the dream was brought on by thinking about Merlin, Helen and myself in Numidia. There, as in Britannia and Marseilles, there was a sense that things were fragile. Raids from the Vandals had become frequent, and the harbour, and the houses of Russicadia, the main port, bore signs of destruction and war. It seemed as though everywhere the Pax Romana was breaking down. What had been thought of as secure and established forever seemed now ephemeral. Time passed, and with it all things. As the Psalmist puts it, the flowers fadeth and the grass withereth; what is man that God should regard him?
Augustine had the answer to that, as to most other things. Only Merlin came close to him in terms of knowing it all. But there was a weight with Augustine that made one think he was almost as clever as he thought he was – which was quite an achievement.
We met him the day after our arrival in Numidia. Merlin, off, we doubted not on his search for the secrets of Greek fire, said he would meet up with us after we had met Augustine. The Port Chaplain, Fr Andrew, who was expecting us, had arranged a meeting with the Bishop. We followed Junia’s advice, which was not to appear openly as lovers, as this was frowned upon by the church in Numidia. I found it irksome, but it seemed politic, so I did it.
We were shown into that courtyard that my dream reconstructed, and he met us with grace and politeness:
“You have it?” He asked, almost anxiously. “It is safe?”
I assured him it was, taking the bag from my shoulder.
“But, gracious, is that safe?”
“Your Grace,” I replied, “it is safer than keeping it in some trunk where thieves might think to break in. Here it is safe.”
He asked if he might see it. As I showed it to him he made the sign of the Cross and touched it.
“It is enough,” he said, “and thank you and Helen, is it, for bringing it here. You must get it to Constantinople, it will not be safe in Rome, even though Pope Innocent might want to see it. Will canlı bahis you go there?”
As his servants brought us wine and fruit, we sat in the shade of the trees and discussed the state of the world.
Augustine was painfully conscious of the fragility of civilisation. The sack of Rome was, he told us, the beginning of the last days as foretold by Jesus. It was hard, as I said to Helen afterwards, not to think he was right. Everything seemed to be crumbling away. That was, he said, why it was so important to get the Shroud to safety. It would, he believed, be a source of great protection and strength for Constantinople. As he spoke, I felt a fire kindled within me. He was right, we must gather the resources of civilization to ensure they survived for when the Lord came again.
Over a somewhat austere lunch, Augustine regaled us with his thoughts. Like so many men, he either imagined women had nothing to say, or that whatever it was, it was not worth hearing. But given the quality of his conversation, he may, from his point of view, have been correct; still, manners would have cost nothing.
Augustine’s main focus, once he learned we were from Britannia, was establishing we were not followers of Pelagius. He regaled us with the thousand and one reasons why he was right and the latter wrong. The only light relief for us was when Helen bent forward to pick up a bowl of grapes which Augustine seemed not to realise she wanted. Her low-cut tunic exposed a great deal of her breasts and, despite his best intentions, Augustine remained man enough to notice. Well, Saints, and they say he is one, need temptation to show they can resist it, and Helen duly provided that.
We promised we would join him on the Lord’s Day for the Eucharist, and then afterwards for lunch. He had, he said, something he wanted us to take to the safety of the Imperial City. We were, I told Helen, becoming couriers as well as searchers, but if we were in the end times, then it was as well that someone was gathering up these precious things.
As we went back to the inn where we had arranged to meet Merlin, Helen told me she felt uneasy.
“It was as though he knew,” she said, anxiously.
“Knew what?” I replied, knowing full well what she meant.
“That we were sinners in his eyes.”
“My darling, we are all sinners, St John tells us that, and if you asked Augustine he’d agree. That is where we all dissent from this Pelagius, who seems to think that obeying all the laws makes you good. Where he and Augustine do seem to agree is that it is we, the women, who having caused mankind to fall, are the main obstacle to salvation. Well, from the way he was looking at your tits as you leaned over, he will have something to confess tonight.”
Helen laughed, but in truth, I knew there was nothing to laugh at if you were a woman. It was a man’s world. Men’s strength and ambition had made it, and now men’s strength and ambition were unmaking it. That night I read, again, the lament of the last of the Amazons which Helen’s father had found, and tears came. Oh to think there was a time and a place where women loving women was the norm and when we could order our own bahis siteleri affairs! But then, as the unknown author wrote in her lament:
“Fate is hard. Sometimes there are no good options; sometimes even the best of the worst is bad. The men would not come on our terms, and in the end, stripped of the Sacred Sisterhood, we lacked the force necessary to resist them. We overestimated the solidarity among us as Greeks. We fought for freedom. It seems freedom applies only to men now.”
She had, she knew, seen the end of her world. Perhaps we were now seeing the end, not of just the world that had replaced it, but the end of all things?
Merlin had not turned up, which was worrying. So, tired by the travelling and the events of the day, Helen and I went to bed early. As she disrobed, my eyes went where Augustine’s had gone. They were followed by my hands going to the same place, as no doubt once upon a time his hands would have done. I quietly approached her back, my face level with the middle of it. My lips touched her there, as my hands reached round and cupped her heavy breasts. I could feel her heart beating faster. My nipples pressed into the full cheeks of her bottom. I felt her sigh. I felt her nipples harden; mine did the same. As my fingers and thumbs combined to surround, squeeze and pull on her nipples, I felt myself moisten; I knew she was in the same state..
Her voice was husky with lust.
“Yes, yes darling, pull on them, squeeze them, harder, harder, I am not made of clay, pull them!”
And then the moans of pleasure as I did so followed, which made me press my aching nipples into the flesh of her bottom. I wanted her so badly.
On fire for her, I turned her round, pushing her onto the bed, climbing on her so I could suck her right nipple while continuing to play with her left nipple. The harder I sucked, the more she rolled her hips and pushed.
My hands engaged with her wet nipples as I licked down her tummy until I reached her small, tangled forest of hair. Giving her nipples a sharp tweak, I moved my hands down to part her swollen lips, revealing her glistening pink folds to which I hungrily applied my tongue, licking swiftly upwards, coating my tongue with her juices, which I then lavished on her clit, massaging it, pressing it down so I could suck it out. I felt one of her hands grip my head, pushing my face into her wetness. I could tell that the other was playing with her neglected tits. My tongue redoubled its efforts. The faster I licked the more she sought to use my face to give her the climax she sought. As I found the entrance to her gooey wetness and parted her with my fingers which pushed in, she grunted and arched her back. My face was suddenly wet with her as the air was rent with her cry of passion. Both hands pressed my head against her as I withdrew my fingers. It was as though she wanted me to eat her and drink her nectar until we were both full.
As last the aftershocks ceased and we lay together.
“Carwen, what is it you do to me? What magic was that?”
Raising myself reluctantly from the warm stickiness of her thighs, I smiled at her.
“That, my bahis şirketleri darling, would be the magic of love.”
“In which case my Carwen, you are indeed a Witch!”
“Have I cast my spell on you Helen?”
“Oh yes, yes Carwen.”
“In which case, I want you between my legs now, darling, I need to cum so badly I could scream.”
The urge was strong in me. I had noticed that I seemed to get it stronger just before my menses.
As Helen positioned herself to pleasure me, I abandoned all restraint and let her loose to do whatever she wanted. It was not often that I felt the need for her to fill me with her fingers, but this was one such occasion. She lay on one side of me, sucking my small but sensitive nipple, and took me with two fingers. I could hear myself squelch as she moved in me. I gripped her invading fingers, but only to embrace, not resist. And I came as I have not often done, heavily enough and prolonged enough for there to have been two orgasms. Oh how that memory lingers.
I slept heavily and woke in the early hours of Sunday. I could see the light breaking on the horizon, and went to the window to watch the sun rise.
I sometimes think we were meant to see the beginning of the day, and that it was planned to lift us this way. That thought filled my mind as I watched it rise above the port, scattering the early mist. As the sea seemed for a moment to turn red, I decided to go outside. The room felt stuffy.
I stood on the verandah, I felt at one with the world. I wanted nothing more at that moment than for time to stand still. I don’t know how long I stood, transfixed, but eventually, I turned to go inside. As I did, I felt a hand grab me round the neck and something sharp against the small of my back:
“Scream and I’ll fillet you like a fish!”
I froze. But before I could even respond, there was a grunt from behind me, and I heard something metallic, I presumed the knife that had been at my back, hit the floor. The pressure on my neck ceased, and whoever it was, crumpled and hit the ground. I turned to see a figure dressed in black, wearing a turban and a scarf, I could see only the eyes.
Well, I could understand the imperative, and as this command, unlike the previous one, was not accompanied by a threat to “fillet” me, I complied; not that I really had much by way of a choice, as the figure was wiping blood from a sword.
We went in. I signalled to the figure to be quiet as Helen was still sleeping. We went into the courtyard, I took a jug of water with me.
The masked figure sat, and taking off the scarf to drink, I could see it was female. The bright dark eyes sparkled and her aquiline nose and high cheek bones lent an allure to her olive skin; she was an attractive woman, still flushed with the tension of the past few minutes.
“Thank you,” she said, after taking a deep draught, “I am Valeria, and you and your companion are in danger. I take it you are Carwen?”
“I am, and I think the thanks are all on my side; you saved my life.”
“Well, if we are to keep you two safe, we need you out of here at once. That ruffian was but the advance guard. Thank God for over-confident amateurs.”
With that, we went inside, where Helen, woken by the noise, was sitting up in bed.
“How I have missed those tits!” Valeria smiled. “Good to see them – and you – again.”
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