Hildrin woke him up some time later. »Lord, wake up.«
»Lord, I assumed you wanted to drive the herds into the fields.«
Dimitrion was still sleepy, but he had to do his duty and look after the cattle and Straban.
»Thank you Hildrin«, he mumbled and gently patted her hand. »I`ll be right there.«
He left his hand on hers for a second longer. She blushed, for her Lord had never touched her so long. She interpreted it as a good sign and smiled. Then he sat up in his bed and pulled Hildrins face to himself. She began to breathe restlessly and her cleavage began to sink up and down in rhythm. She wore a common servant`s outfit that emphasized her soft forms. Her black hair was cut down to the back of her neck and she had beautiful dark brown eyes. Her lips met, followed by long kiss.
»What would I do without you, Hildrin?«, he whispered.
»Oh, my lord, I am but a maid…«, she stumbled.
»It doesn´t matter. I´ve noticed how you smile at me and how lovingly you care for me.«
»That was … uhm … you noticed, sir?«
»I should have thanked you a long time ago,« he said to her quietly.
»I feel very fortunate.«
They kissed longer this time. But then suddenly someone called her name.
»Hildrin, where are you? Do you think I can do the housework all by myself?«
It was Magrun.
»Lord, I must go,« Hildrin said with a deep regret.
»Yes, and I have to get back to work,« said Dimitrion.
Hildrin calmed her breath and Dimitrion got up to cool down with water from the washbasin. They smiled at each other again. She made a curtsey and ran down to the kitchen. Dimitrion shook his head to clear his head and went looking for Merthan and the others. He found them at the stables. Merthan was sweaty and coughed, gasping for air.
»Lord, good of you to come. You know that one of the females is pregnant?«
»Yes, I know that. Why do you ask? What`s the matter?«
»She was supposed to lay her eggs next month, but she started to stumble and flutter around. We`ve had a hard time keeping her from escaping. Then she suddenly became silent and her mouth began to foam.«
»Go on,« Dimitrion told him.
»Well, I thought I`d send someone out to get Serrin and Nirven before I wake you up, sir.«
»That was a wise decision, Merthan. Our Straban are very important to our community. When will the herbalist and the village healer arrive?«
»Serrin should be arriving soon, the healer will take longer to leave the village, sir,« Merthan replied, still breathing heavily.
During the conversation, they went to the rear stables where the Straban were lodged. It lied on the side and cawed loudly, swaying his long head back and forth. White-green foam ran out of her mouth and she looked aggressively at anyone who came too close to her. She chopped with her beak at Therben as he tried to approach and calm her.
»Careful!« shouted Dimitrion, but Therben was too slow. The straban grabbed his left hand and he couldn`t pull it back in time when the birds´ beak snapped shut.
Straban had small fangs in their beak for stripping the spikes of the cacti that grew in the barren land and were their main food. In addition, the head of a Straban bird is one and a half times the size of a grown man´s head and the beak was no less impressive. But that didn´t matter to Therben at the moment, he screamed as his hand disappeared in the huge beak and instinctively he tried to pull it out. So he could only manage to saw off his hand and from the resulting pain, he pulled even more. Blood spurted as the bird tore the flesh from the bones. Dimitrion looked around the stable for a way to free Therben. His gaze fell on a shovel leaning a few meters against a gate. He reached for it and hit the straban.
The bird loosened the bite around Therbens hand. That was too slow for the Halfelf and he took off to a stronger blow. Therben screamed more and more, you could see the exposed bones on his joint. Dimitrion hit the head of Straban and shattered its skull. The bird finally gave up Therben. The screams of pain merged from both into a wild screech. Then the bird fell silent and he fell aside with a last croak. Merthan pulled him out of the pennant and tried to calm Therben.
»Therben … Therben, look at me. It´s over.«
The helper looked up and held his bleeding hand in despair. It had almost been severed. Dimitrion convinced himself that the bird was dead and kneeling down. Then Nab appeared with Serrin.
»Nab, go get some clean rags and warm water. I need to remove the blood and clean his hand. Quickly», said the herbalist.
The helper immediately ran to the main house and Serrin started to examine Therben. She took a potion from a bag, held his head and dripped something on his tongue. After a few minutes the assistant calmed down and got a glassy look.
»These birds have always been peaceful, haven´t they?« she asked Dimitrion.
»No one has ever reported that they can become so aggressive,« Merthan replied. »I suspect poisoning. Before he went crazy, the bird had foam on its beak.«
»Then I´ll take a look at the bird. The bleeding slows down. Merthan, help me put him on the table.«
The marshal nodded and together they lifted him up while Dimitrion threw down tools lying on top of it.
»It´s not clean, but we don´t have anything else,« said Serrin as she wrapped Therben´s hand in a clean cloth.
Nab came back with more rags and a pot of steaming water. The herbalist cleansed the hand and then mixed an ointment. Dimitrion went to join two wooden poles and a horse blanket to a stretcher.
»Can´t we take him to his room with the stretcher?«, Dimitrion asked.
»This will be much better than here. Good thinking, landlord,« said the herbalist.
Quickly they laid Therben on it and Nab ran ahead to the farmhouse. Upon arriving, he opened the door to Therbens chamber and gently placed him on the bed. Serrin continued to take care of him.
»The foam, what colour was it?« she asked.
»It was white and green,« Merthan replied.
»Must have been trollberry. Then I´ll have to brew something.«
»If you want to go to the kitchen, I´ll lead you,« offered Dimitrion. »Merthan, stay, and if anything changes, you send Nab for me.«
Dimitrion went ahead and in the kitchen Magrun had already put on another pot of water. The herbalist took herbs and leaves, rubbed them and mixed a tincture. Then she added other herbs to the boiling water.
»The leaves take time to brew, when the water changes color, you fill a cup and bring it to me,« Serrin told him.
When the water was discoloured, he took a cup of it and went back to Therben´s chamber where Valt had arrived along with the healer of the community.
»Good afternoon, lord of the manor. I see i´m late.«
»No help is going to be late when you´re needed, you could examine the bird with me.«
»Merthan said the bird had spat white-green foam. It´s what happens in a trollberry poisoning. But who would want to poison one of your birds?«
»We´ll find out soon enough. More important is Therben. How is he doing, Serrin?«
»It will take a long time before the hand recovers and new flesh grows back. But the tendons are torn. He won´t be able to fully use the hand.«
»As long as Therben gets well again, that´s secondary. He was just trying to do his job and I won´t let him end up as a beggar because he can´t work anymore. Therben stays on the farm, it´s his home.«
This compassion was what made him so popular with his subordinates. For Dimitrion, of course, the inhabitants would have expected something different from his predecessor. All nodded and Serrin ended her treatment.
»Thank you, Lord… I …«, stammered Merthan. Therben had fallen asleep in the meantime and Merthan covered him up.
»Never mind,« Dimitrion said and patted him on the shoulder. »We´ll find the one who poisoned the Straban.«
»Now let´s take a look at the bird, maybe we´ll find something. I will keep coming back in the next few days with new tinctures and change Therben´s bandages,« said Serrin.
Dimitrion, Nirven and the herbalist went to the stable in the stall of the bird. Fortunately, Merthan had already put the others on the pasture, otherwise they would have gone crazy as well. Serrin knelt down to the dead bird and squished the foam between her hands.
»Definitely trollberry. Nirven?«, she asked promptly.
»Usually, trollberries, when boiled, are non-toxic. Maybe the birds can´t stand these berries,« said the village healer.
»And everyone here has something to gain from the animals, who would want to harm you?«, Serrin asked.
»So I will make sure that no one feeds trollberries to the Straban and ask my farmhands if they have noticed anyone or anything unusual,« said Dimitrion. »Thank you for coming. Please rest, Magrun will take care of you while I bury the Straban.«
»I´m gonna have to brew teas and tinctures at home, so I can´t stay. I thank you for the offer anyway, lord of the manor,« said Serrin.
»I could use something, the way up from the village is exhausting for a man of my age,« said Nirven.
»Good. Serrin, we´ll see you tomorrow and come home safely,« Dimitrion nodded to Serrin and then accompanied the village healer into the kitchen. He said goodbye and went to Therbens´ chamber to look for the helper. He was sleeping and rolling around restlessly.
After that he took Nab and Valt with him to bury the Straban.
to be continued …