Alonso lifted the curtain to steal a look. The extant rays of sundown peered through the window, bathing his face in glitter and setting his eyes on fire. His gaze froze on the outside through the thin cloth shade, a veil over embers of despair. Alonso turned his back on the light and approached his brother. Simon sat on the bed of the small chamber the brothers had secured in haste in a Portuguese village, not too far from Viseu.
“Hermano,” Alonso placed his right hand on Simon’s shoulder and softly pressed his fingers. “I find myself weary of living like peasants, in hiding.”
“How much longer do you reckon we will be wanted men?” said Simon.
“I wish I knew,” responded Alonso. “However long our terrene life lasts, I suppose.”
“It has neared thirty nights since we arrived, yet there is no clear sign of movement. Last we heard, Mistress de Monroy remained secluded in her quarters, back in Salamanca, not receiving any visitors. Miguel said he’d heard word that she was bound to Segovia soon, a journey set to ease her mourning,” said Simon.
“Knowing the mistress’ true nature, she is surely charting her revenge,” said Alonso. “She’s had enough time to mourn. No reason to head to Segovia now, a month after.”
“You reckon?” said Simon.
“I had a vision last night all through my slumber. My blood traveled thick within my body, like wet soil after a torrent. My heartbeats slowed down and finally came to a halt, but my body remained woke, listening, though unable to move. My eyes were wide-open. Dust particles danced in mid-air, suspended in the pitch-black darkness, twinkling in the moonlight. My skin shivered, and I smelled my own fear. My mind could not command my body to move. I was … I was dead, brother.” Alonso sighed.
Simon locked eyes with Alonso, knowing his brother felt that his dream was more like an omen.
“We must flee. Tomorrow night, at the latest,” Alonso continued. “Her men are bound to find us,” he said. “She will crave retribution. You know this to be true,” his voice deepened as he looked into his brother’s eyes.
Simon nodded. The harsh reality sunk even deeper.
Alonso walked back toward the window and lifted the shade, once again. He caressed his soft auburn beard, while fixing his gaze on an emaciated fox roaming outside, looking for prey, the animal’s fur of the same color as Alonso’s locks. His thoughts lingered in contemplation of what neared. He and his brother would surely lose their lives. He was almost certain of it. The sun had forsaken the sky, as did his last vestiges of hope. Moonlight now dripped over the dirt road below. He thought about her. What would she do when she learned he was no more, gone for good? Would he be able to see her again, from wherever his soul traveled in the afterlife? Soon the wolves’ howls would begin. The brothers could hear them nightly, soaring towards their ears from within the mountains caressed by the Dão River.
“I am afraid we have waited too long to move. We should have been elsewhere by now,” said Alonso.
“Agreed,” said Simon. “We became overly comfortable here. I thought we were safe, among dear friends, but now I know we are most certainly not.”
“Maria Rodriguez de Monroy is powerful and unwavering,” said Alonso. “She has the favor of all the Santo Tomé families. And with our recent deed, well, whether provoked or not, rest assured that her soul will not find repose until we lose our heads and our bodies are cold as winter.”
“Well, Miguel must be close to procuring a new place of abode,” said Simon. “He will return with news about our next move tomorrow.”
“Not one creature must know that we are leaving,” said Alonso. “And no one must suspect that we are her sons’ killers. We are to trust no one. Do you understand?”
“I do, my brother. But I fear our fate has been cast. We will pay the ultimate price for our sins,” said Simon, staring at nothingness.
“We shall remain hopeful,” said Alonso. “Faith is all we have left.”
Miguel, the brothers’ servant, had left the shelter on horseback that morning en route to secure a new hiding place. Or so the brothers thought. Instead, Miguel had returned to Salamanca, to claim a bounty from Mistress de Monroy, in exchange for the brothers’ whereabouts.
* This is an unedited excerpt of my work in progress (WIP) “Alonso’s Curse,” a historical fiction novel with elements of time-travel, fantasy, and romance taking place in Scotland and Spain.
Copyright © 2019, Yasmin Tirado-Chiodini. All Rights Reserved.