He wasn’t dead. No one had shot him. He stood against a tree, on the far side of the field, watching the battle continue in front of him. His heart was cold to the world now, he himself feeling emotionless. “My battle is not here, and so I will not fight” he stated, though who was listening was unsure. Turning his back, he walked towards the road in the distance.
Velibor followed the road, not sure where he would end up. Anywhere was good as long as it had no memory, no connection with Antonya. Without eating, he walked on through the slow day, stopping for nothing. His only companions – his empty mind and broken heart. Eventually night came, but he felt that he could not stop, almost like if he did, everything would come and find him, and he would not be able to cope. Soon the cold became too much, and noticing a barn in a field not far away, he headed there and slept in its shelter. Dreams of Antonya kept him warm.
Who knows how long he slept for, but when he awoke the day seemed late. He was lying in a picturesque field, like he had woken up in one of the royal paintings. Not far away the sounds of cattle could be heard.
“Hey!” someone called gently from behind him. Velibor froze, not sure what to do. The last thing he wanted was for someone to find him, let alone be near him. A hand tapped his shoulder and Velibor noticed that there was alight blanket covering him. “Did you sleep well? I woke early to see the horses – they were uneasy all night no thanks to a stranger sleeping right outside their barn. Hungry?” With a warm smile, he held out a piece of bread for him, and Velibor took it gratefully, not realising how hungry he was.
“Thankyou, truly, but I don’t deserve this.” He said sadly, eyes downcast. He was standing now, and his eyes rose and met with the stranger’s. He had kind, hazel eyes, and messy blonde hair. He was well built, so Velibor assumed he must have been the farmer here, or something like that. Maybe the farm hand, for he looked young, maybe only just a little bit older than himself. “I’m Sadif, by the way. I live here. Lived here my whole life. I hope you’ll stay awhile, cause it gets really lonely here sometimes, except when people come to buy horses. What’s your story?”
Velibor looked at him, contemplating the thought of staying a while with Sadif. He as a simple man, Velibor concluded, but there was something there that reminded him of home. He felt comfortable with him. “I’m Velibor, not that it matters much what happened before. I’m suffering from a broken heart, to no fault of my own, and that has brought me here.” He paused, thoughts of Antonya passing through his mind. “You don’t mind if I stay here a bit do you?” he added, after a few moments, and Sadif’s approval showed his massive smile.
They walked across the field, Velibor carrying his few belongings and Sadif singing what sounded like a joyful song. “Is all this yours, Sadif?” Velibor asked, out of curiosity. “Yeah, sure. My father died when I was young, and my mother died three years ago. Father was famous for his horses, you know. I wish I knew how he did it though. But yeah. All of this is mine.” Sadif seemed to have quieted down, after talking about his family. “Sorry,” Velibor offered, and they walked through the door of his house.
The house was not big, but it wasn’t small. There were three bedrooms, a decent kitchen, a living room and dining room. It was really clean and well kept. “This is a nice house Sadif!” Velibor exclaimed. It was a far cry from the castle, but the only other houses he had been in other than this were the peasant houses that brimmed the outside of the city. He was impressed. Walking up to the mantelpiece just above the fireplace, Velibor’s eyes were caught by a small, decorated little egg. “That” Sadif said, glad Velibor was interested in it “was a present from my Uncle. He lives in the city. My last relative. He gave it to me the Easter after mother died.”
He took the egg from Velibor’s hands and opened it carefully, revealing an inside lined with what looked like silk. He pulled out a small photo frame, and inside was a painting of one of the most beautiful women Velibor had ever seen. “That’s her when she was younger, just after she married my father.” He fingered with the picture for a moment, before catching himself and replacing it inside the egg. He gave it back to Velibor, and disappeared around a corner. The detail on the egg was so intricate and fine!
Placing the egg back down gently, Velibor went in search of Sadif, to inquire about food. He was starving. He walked through all the rooms, knocking first, but could not find Sadif anywhere. Walking through the house one last time to look for him, he decided that Sadif must have been outside. He walked back to the barn, where he had first met Sadif, and walked inside. “Sadif?” he called out. He walked halfway, and then decided he had better just go back to the house.
He walked into the kitchen, and began searching cupboards for a cup. Eventually he found one, but just then a big came through the front door of the house. “Hello?” Velibor called cautiously, walking towards the door. A burst of laughter came from outside the door, and Velibor found Sadif doubled over on the floor in laughter. Looking at him strangely, Velibor walked back into the kitchen and finished his drink.
“Sorry,” Sadif just managed, in between bursts of laughter “It’s just that the last time I invited someone to come into my house and stay with me they stole from me. So I wanted to be sure that I could trust you. That’s all. But hey! Your one funny guy! I was standing in the field, just outside the house, and I watched you walk to the barn all worried, then come back to the house…you’re one seriously funny guy Velibor!” he paused for a breath, and began to calm down.
Velibor smiled, and followed Sadif as he showed him to his room. “It’s not exactly the best room in the world, but its not too bad” he said as he opened the door, but Velibor froze with shock. There was a big window against one wall, a bed in the corner opposite, a wardrobe at the back of the room, and a beautiful, soft rug on the floor. It was almost just like his room back at the castle, just without a fireplace. Sadif saw how pleased he was, and he was happy. “I’ll leave you to it then, and I’ll go get us something to eat!”
Velibor sat down on the bed. He loved this room, but it reminded him so much of Princess Antonya. Must there be a reminder of her in everything he did? Must every memory he had of her be linked with other things, so much that every waking minute as spent living memories of her? He lay back on his bed, and reached for the letter she had written him. “All I want is to be close to you again, Antonya. All those months I wasted, using you for selfish reasons, when I could have loved you like I do now. Oh, Antonya, I’m sorry. I want you to hear me, I do, but I don’t think you’ll ever want to see me again. Antonya I love you” he whispered, holding the letter to his lips. Folding it back up, he unpacked his things and laid them out in the room. All he needed was clothes now.
Sadif came back a few hours later, after having done some other work as well, and together they ate in the dining room. “It’s funny,” Sadif said “how all these years I’ve lived in this house I’ve never eaten a meal in this room before.” Velibor was surprised. He himself was not used to dining in a room like this but more in a banquet hall, but he concluded he liked this much better. “It’s a nice room though” Velibor replied. There was a beautiful painting of the west wall of the castle, with the beautiful oak tree and the bright flower beds. The painting must have been completed in Autumn. Velibor felt tears well up in his eyes, and he rested his head in his arms on the table and began to cry.
Velibor sat there for sometime, and Velibor cleared the table. He refilled their glasses with wine, and together they moved by the fireplace and sat in silence together. “I’m so sorry,” Velibor said eventually. “It’s just that the picture of the castle in the other room? Well…” and Velibor began to tell him everything as they sat there by the fire, tears falling from his eyes.