“I see you have found a new love?”

If Valeria sounded hurt, Helen looked surprised to see her. There was clearly something here between them which would need sorting out. But at this moment my mind was focussed on getting us out of the house.

“Whatever’s going on,” I exclaimed with impatience, “will have to wait. Helen, get dressed and let’s get our stuff and scoot.”

Valeria watched, one eye on Helen, and the other on the door. Dressed, I stationed myself outside, keeping an eye on the sea front and the road. I was not going to be surprised twice. I had a knife that I kept for such times, so I spent some minutes sharpening its edge on a whetstone. From inside I could hear raised voices; but they were not loud enough for me to make any words out. The tone was unmistakable; Valeria clearly felt betrayed, and she was angry. As Helen’s voice rose, so did Valeria’s, and I finally began to make out some words.

Valeria was angry:

“I knew you were a slut Helen, but thought you were my slut. I should have let that man fillet her. For Aphrodite’s sake, she’s a midget with no tits. Why?”

Helen was placatory and wheedling:

“Silly, I love YOU, but she was there and is willing. So don’t be angry with me darling. She’s not a patch on you my love, but she is a good fuck. You have all I could want. It was just that I was lonely in Britannia and lacked company. Promise that as soon as I can, I’ll let you screw me senseless with the sapphic stick.”

My blood froze.

At first I refused to believe my ears. Even now, recollecting that epiphany so many years later, my heart sinks. I had believed she loved me. I felt used, and with good reason. But for now, we needed to stick together. I needed to get to the harbour.

As they emerged, looking somewhat agitated, I decided to act as though I had heard nothing.

“We clearly need to go,” I said, stating the blindingly obvious in my attempt to curb my tongue and give my brain time to catch up, “but I wanted to go to the Eucharist at the Basilica and see the Bishop. Do you see any problem with that?”

Valeria looked at me as though she wished I was not there.

“I guess we will be as safe there as anywhere, and it might be that the Bishop can help arrange a safe exit. I am pretty sure that the ruffian I despatched was only a scout. They will have their eyes on the road to the port, but I doubt they will expect us to go to Hippo.”

So it proved. We had no trouble getting to the Basilica, and once there, we mingled with the congregation, taking care to cover our heads, as was the local fashion. I cared for it as little as I did for the other signs that we women were second-class Christians. But where there was no mending something, there was also no point complaining.

I watched Valeria during the service, and from her lack of familiarity with it, deduced that she was not a Christian. What on earth was she here for? Could it be as simple as Helen? I was still fuming at her bitchy comments about me. My mind was distracted from my irreligious thoughts by Augustine, who delivered a powerful homily on the importance of God’s Grace as our only route to salvation. Though he never once mentioned the name, Pelagius was his target. Anyone who thought we could be saved through our own actions did not, Augustine thundered, understand why Christ had died and risen.

All of that was music to my ears, but then he went off in a direction which left me so cross that I felt I ought to leave; I didn’t.

“The woman was tempted by the snake of desire,” he declared, “and she tempted the man, and so was the cause of the great Fall through which sin entered into the world. Guard yourselves against that sin. Women, do not tempt men, dress modestly, behave as though the eyes of God were on you, and men, temper that lust and be good husbands if you must, but remember that you lie with your wife to procreate. Take care the Devil does not enter through your lust.”

Helen looked at me as though she thought I was going to stand up and object. I smiled back to reassure her.

What, I was thinking, what about women tempting women? What if, much as I hated the idea, Augustine had a point? Not the one he thought he had, that women were at fault. I’d seen enough to know that men thought with their penises, and not only with women. No, what if this whole thing was just messed up by sex? Damn, damn, I thought, Helen is so attractive too.

I calmed myself. I thought on where I was and focussed on repenting my sins. And in a better frame of mind I went forward to receive the blessed bread, and discovered another difference between the practice in Britannia and here. I usually put my hand out to receive it, but noticed that the local custom was to receive in straight in the mouth, so, on the principle that when in Hippo do as the Hippos do, so I did the same. It seemed odd, but I did not want to create a scene.

Afterwards, Augustine izmit escort invited us to lunch in the courtyard of his house, and so we went. As we walked from the Basilica, a woman came up to us and said:

“Are you Carwen?”

I replied I was.

“Ah good, the man said give it to the one who looks like child with the blonde woman.”

Oh, thanks, I thought, knowing without needing to look who the message was from. Helen giggled.

It read:

“Take care. Get to the harbour. I will be there as soon as I can. Wait. Trust no one save my emissary. M”

Typical, as I told Helen. No advice, just an order and the assumption that somehow I’d work it all out. Men!

Lunch was a pleasant affair, and I was coming to love olives and the warm flatbread. The pomegranate seeds and the stuffed vine leaves were perfect, as was the company. It was always interesting to listen to Augustine, which was as well as he seemed to mistake monologue for conversation. Still, given the quality of hid mind, and the agitated stste of mine, that did not matter. I showed him the Shroud again, and he was moved to tears. For a moment I saw to the heart of the man. Truly in the Lord he had found his reason for being. For that time we were one in Him, and my heart was filled with a deep joy. I knew now it would not break, and for that, I am eternally grateful, as I am for that time of deep kinship. I smiled at him. His eyes searched my soul.

“Carwen,” he said, blessing me, “go with God. His ways are not ours, and I would have sent a battalion of mighty men to guard it, but you have been chosen, so God prosper your work. I want you to take this to help.”

He gave me a simple crucifix to hold in my hand. Its wood, alreadt dark, was darker, and smoother, through long use. I still treasure it. It could be held in my hand, and often, when I feel in peril, I clutch it. It is shiny and even more worn now, but I love it, and have left instructions that it is to be buried with me when my time comes. I thanked him, and I think of him with fondness, preferring to recall not his views on women, but that moment of oneness. Like all of us, he was a victim of the times. If, as it seems, we are in the end times, it will not matter soon; nothing will.

Augustine gave me his blessing, and provided a last service, suggesting that the his litter might be a good way to disguise our presence. It was also possible to give us an escort. For the first time since the morning, I felt safe. I bade him farewell and kissed his ring. I do not know what great men are, precisely, but I know one when I meet one, and he was one such. The greatest – bar one – I ever met.

Varleria and Helen were happy to have a safe passage to the harbour, but once we got there we faced a dilemma.

In the first place, it was clear that Valeria wanted rid of me. She hardly spoke to me, and Helen, well, she followed the line of least resistance. Valeria was on old lover and clearly linked to her in ways I did not understand,

Scondly, there was no sign of the ship Merlin had suggested might be there. The one that was there was bound for Rome, but the steward knew nothing of any Briton. There were, he said, two berths in Valeria’s name. I looked at Helen. Valeria looked smug.

“What are we to do? I don’t want to leave without Merlin.”

“Nor do I, but this is the only ship there is. You can have one bunk, and Val and myself will share the other.”

The smile on Valeria’s face told its own story. I felt cross.

“No!” I said, perhaps louder than I intended. “I can’t leave without Merlin.”

“Please yourself,” said Valeria, “I was sent to save Helen and bring her back to Rome to be with her parents, what you do is up to you! Helen, are you coming with me or staying with this midget? Remember, the goddess will know and reward or punish accordingly.”

I knew that Helen had been involved with some cult related to the Amazons, but she had been tight-lipped about it. I learned later why. But at this point all I could do was look bemused and appeal to her to stay with me. She looked sad. Valeria pressed her.


“Don’t be silly, darling, of course I am coming with you. But Carwen, you can’t stay here, please reconsider.”

“Helen, I am going, and the ship leave imminently. Come or don’t!” Valeria was now impatient and beginning to lose her temper.

“Sorry Carwen, but you understand, I have to go?”

With that, she turned and went with Val, who put her arm around her in a proprietorial fashion. She had won – and knew it.

I stood and watched as the ship left. As it faded into the distance I felt utterly alone. Where the hell was Merlin? How the devil was I to get away from this place, where, clearly, there were those who meant me harm? Why had Helen just abandoned me?

I had never felt so alone. Only that moment of epiphany with Augustine stopped me from crying.

Yes, I understood. Helen had been izmit anal yapan escort lonely and I had been willing. I had been a bloody fool to think someone that gorgeous would want me. There was a chill in the air. Where the hell was Merlin? Where was his bloody ship?

My melancholy thoughts were interrupted by a man.

“You looking for business, love? How much?”

Oh goody! This, I thought, was all I needed, a man mistaking me for a whore.

“I am waiting for a friend,” I replied, trying to sound less irritated than I felt.

He touched my shoulder.

“Well he ain’t here and I am. What say I bend you over and fuck you?”

“What say you fuck right off, right now and right away?” I fired back, angrily.

He stalked off, clearly furious.

Great, could this get any worse? I looked round, still no sign of a ship or Merlin. The harbour side was now almost deserted, and the light was beginning to go.

Then my question about could it get worse was answered when I saw the man I had insulted coming back with two others. Shit! My hand went to my knife. I was glad I had sharpened it earlier, but there was no way I could deal with three of them. I backed away to the edge of the harbour – if needed I’d jump and hope, although what would become of the Shroud worried me.

“There she is, cheeky bitch!”

“Kind of cute. Let’s give her a chance.”

The third man, a Berber, looked at me.

“You can do this and get paid, or do it and not, but do it you will.”

“No I won’t. If you want it, come and try to get it,” I said, with more courage than I felt, as I drew my knife.

“Call that a knife?” Said the man, drawing a short sword. “This is a knife!”

Technically he was wrong, as it was most definitely a sword, but I suddenly did not feel like arguing. They advanced on me.

“Actually,” said a voice from behind them, “THIS is a fucking knife!”

The voice belonged to a stocky, muscular figure with short hair and nose piercings. She wore some chest armour and was carrying a rather large sword, along with a Trident. The second she plunged without further ado into the back of the Berber, and she struck the second man with her sword whilst I ducked under the first man’s swipe and knifed him in the genitals. In moments the three of them were lying, moaning, on the harbour side.

“Assuming you’re Carwen, I’m from Merlin, come with me and fast!”

Well, as she asked so persuasively, I did, of course, picking up my bag and running with her.

She clearly knew where she was going, finding her way down a labyrinth of passages to a small hut. Opening the door, she beckoned me inside. What the hell, I thought, why not?

“That was good knife work little one. By the way, I’m Stumpy, that,” she said, pointing to the cutest woman with the biggest breasts I had ever seen, “is my bedmate and girl, Bella. Say hello to Carwen, Bella.”

I could not take my eyes off her. And no, although she would always tease me about it later, I did not just mean her breasts.

“Hi Carwen. I see Stumpy found you. I take it by the state of you both that knife-work was involved?”

Stumpy confirmed it.

“Sorry love. Bella, can you get us some wine? When did Merlin say the ship would be in?”

Bella, dressed in a pretty white tunic, which left little to the imagination, brought the wine.

“In his usual way he said to look out when the wind shifted. Mine of information that man.”

“That sounds like Merlin!”

I laughed. I felt a surge of relief. These women clearly were linked with the disappearing Wizard.

As we drank and had some stuffed vine leaves, Stumpy told me something about their history. She was a barbarian from Gaul who had been captured in battle. Given the choice between becoming a slave or a gladiator, she had opted for the latter. She’d built up a reputation and a clientele. One of the latter had bought her out of the Gladiator school to serve as his private bodyguard. He was not often in Hippo, but did business all around the Middle Sea. It was through him that she had met Bella, who was one of the local girls hired to help in the brothel. Stumpy had taken a fancy to her and claimed her for her own. It was through their “Boss” as she called him, that she’d met Merlin, who had been in the harbour earlier and asked her to look out for me as I might need protection.

“Now, love, we’ve got about an hour and a half, if you want to sleep, do, but I need a bit of exercise. Bella, you ready and willing?”

“Always willing, Stumpy, I could even be ready!”

“You don’t look shocked, Carwen?”

“I’m not, Stumpy. I love women myself.”

“Well then,” chipped in Bella, “how about she helps get me ready for you, Stumpy?”

That was a cheering thought. The way she looked at me made me feel good about myself again. I can’t say I’d felt in the mood for sex after what had just happened izmit yabancı escort with Helen. But Bella’s smile changed my mind. She clearly fancied me. She must have been about four or five inches taller than me, but in terms of womanly curves, she outshone me. Her cheeky grin as she suggested I join in to Stumpy, made me nod and say I’d love to.

“Okay Bella, get on the couch, Carwen, do the honours.”

Interestingly, as I knelt and Bella raised her tunic, I saw that her private parts had been shaved bare.

“You like?” She asked, flirtatiously.

“I do,” I replied truthfully.

I also liked the ease which the shaving allowed in terms of pleasuring her. With no hair in the way, I tugged on both her lips, which she loved.

“Is the little slut wet, Carwen?” Stumpy asked.

“Yes Stumpy, very.”

“Okay, lick her and get her worked up.”

I did as required.

Parting Bella’s thighs and placing them on my shoulders, I lapped at her wetness. As my tongue dipped between her inner lips to taste her there, she gasped, and I could feel she was playing with her big breasts. As I flicked on her clit, she began to moan.

“Okay Carwen, guess she is ready. Could you make sure my stick is lubricated?”

As Bella gasped and then pouted, I looked at Stumpy, who was now naked except for a harness containing the sapphic stick. I crawled over and applied Bella’s juices to the stick that was going to fuck her. I looked up, and Stumpy was smiling.

“Okay,” she said, pulling out, revealing the stick glistening in the candle-light. “Bella, bitch position, now!”

My own wetness increasing, I watched, fascinated, as Bella stripped and got onto all fours. Instinctively, I crawled in front of her and held those massive breasts, squeezing them. She winked at me and moaned before kissing me.

“I do taste good don’t I?”

I agreed she did. Then she was pushed into me as Stumpy began to mount her. We kissed and I caressed her breasts as Stumpy began to fuck her. Stumpy’s breasts were relatively small, but well supported by her muscular form. I’d never seen a woman like her before, and thought it was no wonder Bella was getting so excited.

Bella kissed me, pushed against me as Stumpy pounded into her.

“Her bud, now, Carwen!”

Reluctantly, as I was enjoying kissing Bella and seeing the expressions on her face as she got more and more aroused, I did what Stumpy wanted and, putting my hand under her, located her clit. I spanked it. Stumpy was spanking her ass as she rode her, which is probably what gave me the idea. It was the right one. Bella rode into a massive orgasm as Stumpy ploughed her.

As Stumpy collapsed onto Bella, seized by an idea, I went behind her and unbuckled the belt holding the harness in place. I helped her pull out, as Bella collapsed, moaning and holding her pussy, her big tits squashed on the floor. Easing the harness away from Stumpy, I slid under her where she knelt, thighs apart, and began to nibble at her.

If she was surprised it did not show. Instinctively she ground down on my face, her gooey wetness rubbing all over me. Taking the stick, wet with Bella, I found her entrance and thrust it carefully in. She groaned loudly. I began to fuck her with it as she bounced up and down, my tongue teasing her clit. At that point I felt something myself. A wet, warm tongue was teasing my pussy. Trapped between Stumpy’s thighs I could do nothing. So I concentrated on Stumpy, fucking and licking her as the tension rose in me. Bella, I assumed it was her, knew what she was doing.

As Stumpy bounced on the stick and my face, I bit her clit, which made her moan louder. Bella did the same to me, but my moans were lost in Stumpy’s wetness. As she orgasmed I felt myself go too. I could hear Bella, who from the sound of it, had brought herself to an orgasm with her fingers.

As we slowly recovered and disentangled ourselves from each other, Stumpy pulled Bella and myself against her. Stroking my hair she said, breathing hard still:

“Well little Carwen, you ARE a find! Not often Bella and I allow another to play, but we’ll make an exception for you. What do you think Bella?”

Bella was silent.

“I think I died and went to heaven, Stumpy. Can I stay there?”

Stumpy laughed.

“Think that’s her way of saying it was good,” she told me, still cuddling me to her.

We must have lain together a while, as I drowsed and did not notice Bella getting up. I was woken out of my reveries by her sweet voice.

“Stumpy, Carwen, think there’s a ship coming in.”

Rousing ourselves, we dressed quickly. If we smelt, well what of it, everyone did!

Bella’s quickness gave us time to get ready and go out onto the harbour. There, bearing a lamp, was Merlin.

He looked at us quizzically.

“Glad you three have got to know each other.”

The darkness hid my blushes.

“Stumpy, you still happy to come with us?”

“Sure am, Merlin. The pay’s good, and the women better. We’re with you.”

And with that, we were ushered on board and soon left the port behind. The sea was calm, the moon lay fair upon it, and God was in his heaven and all, suddenly, seemed right with the world.