A creaking noise roused Melisande early the next morning. Hoping to avoid a lecture from Sister Mary, she got up and got dressed quickly. Once again, she threw open her windows and peered out. To her amazement, the sun had barely peaked over the horizon. It was earlier than she was used to waking up.
Melisande was about to go back to sleep when she noticed that the tide had receded around the abbey. She didn’t know how much time she had until the bells woke everyone up, so she quickly turned away from the window. Without a thought to the consequences, she opened the door as quietly as she could, and tiptoed down the steps. She moved slowly and noticed that her hands were shaking. She couldn’t understand whether or not it was the fear of getting caught, or just anticipation of being able to finally escape the abbey.
It was not the first time that Melisande had run off and she had never been caught previously, but she still had to be careful. It wasn’t long before she reached the kitchen and took a left turn down another corridor that led her to a familiar tunnel. The ground was damp as she made her way out of the area.
Melisande’s feet carried her quickly along the stone floor. Once she reached the door at the end of the tunnel, she slowly pushed it open and ran outside. She once again found herself in the courtyard.
As the sun came up over the horizon, she ducked down behind a tree and slowly made her way toward the main gate. A series of trees and bushes were her only cover from the watchful eyes of the guards. Sneaking around had dirtied her clothes, but she did not care. This was her one indulgence, and if she was to get in trouble for it, so be it.
Melisande knew exactly when the guard shift change happened and waited until they moved apart. Once the guards were out of sight, she slipped past them and made her way out of the abbey. She was as quiet as possible, as she knew that the guards were ready for anything. The abbey wasn’t a military installation, but the church had become very protective of its grounds following the protestant uprisings.
Melisande found herself standing at the top of the stony hill leading down to the beach. She was only wearing sandals, so she had to be extra careful to mind her footing. She did not want to riskfalling and either getting hurt, or making enough noise for the guards to find her.
It took a short time for Melisande to reach the sand below. Her feet skidded every few moments as small stones gave out underneath her feet. It was a slow and treacherous climb, but her feet finally touched the damp, coarse, soil of the beach. She pulled off her sandals and let her feet dig into the sand. Her toes pressed down hard as though she would float away if she released them.
Melisande looked around for a few moments, enjoying her newfound freedom, and then, without warning, darted out towards the water, running as fast as she could. She turned and ran even faster along the shore line. She didn’t want to stop, but after ten minutes of running, the muscles in her legs began to ache in response to how hard she pushed. Finally, she gave her legs a break, let the waves caress her toes, and took in a deep breath of fresh air. Her eyes watered as the clean air filled her lungs. She was in Heaven.
Smiling, Melisande turned back and looked at the abbey. From outside, it was quite beautiful. The massive castle stood high above the water, completely covering the small island where it had been built. Nature was its main defense as any invading army would need to wait for low tide before trying to enter.
Melisande stood with her back to the ocean for a few more moments as the breeze passed over her skin. Euphoria had almost taken her when a noise in the distance made her jump. She turned quickly and noticed two ships on the horizon. They were miles out at sea and she was unable to tell what was happening. There was another low noise that sounded like distant thunder, and another, and another.
As the ships came closer, Melisande noticed that one of them had been badly damaged. They were both small ships bearing different flags with several colors. One ship had a black flag, while the larger, more damaged, ship appeared to have a white and red flag. Smoke poured from the sides of both ships.
It was at that moment that Melisande realized that the two ships were fighting. She watched as the battle unfolded. Her heart raced in her chest as the larger ship began listing to port.
The ship tried to turn away from her attacker, but it was a useless effort. The smaller ship was faster and more maneuverable. Melisande watched in amazement as a final blast from the smaller ship’s guns struck the larger one’s hull. The shot quickly pierced through a layer of wood and struck the powder magazine. The powder sparked causing the ship burst into flames.
Melisande’s eyes widened as the ship tore itself apart from the inside and large wooden splinters littered the water around it. The massive explosion rocked the coastline as Melisande watched. Her heart was in her throat as she had never seen anything so exciting in her entire life.
Within a few moments of the explosion, there was nothing left of the first ship. Melisande looked on as the second ship picked up cargo and survivors from the water. She lingered for a few minutes to see if anything else would happen before turning away and starting her long walk home. Her feet carried her slowly over the sand towards the castle walls and felt like she was dragging a weight behind her.
Once Melisande was about half way back, she stopped and looked at the ship slowly disappearing on the horizon. Then she turned and looked at the castle again. The morning bells broke the silence and she realized that she would never make it back to her room before Sister Mary. If she went back now, it would mean punishment and demerits.
As Melisande looked over her lifelong home, she was filled with a sense dread. The idea of her having to spend another day living in such monotony was unbearable. She had secretly contemplated running away, but she knew that she’d have the guards on her in no time. Sister Mary would have the entire abbey out looking for her. Her only chance would be if she were to make it to the nearest town and somehow board a ship.
The battle she had just witnessed opened the flood gates to her desire for freedom. Her chest pounded as she thought of her life, and everything she was missing out on. She knew there was more to her story then what the nuns had told her. Her family or whatever was left of their story was out there waiting to be found.
Where is my real family and who were they? Why am I here now? In Melisande’s mind, she knew that these were questions that she’d never be able to answer while living in Mont St. Michael. Still, should she just up and run away? No doubt a lot of people went through considerable effort to shelter her and she still didn’t know why.
Melisande’s mind filled with questions and wrestled back and forth with the idea of leaving. She didn’t want to hurt those who took care of her for so long, and leaving most likely meant never seeing them again. Sister Mary, as strict as she was, did take care of her and Papi was the closest thing she’d ever had to a father.
Thoughts of them worrying about her made Melisande’s heart ache even more. What should I do? She thought to herself. I love them and I don’t want to hurt anyone… but I can’t live like this. I’m not a stable girl, nor am I a maid, that’s not the life I want. I’m certain I’ll die if I have to do this much longer.
Melisande fought through her emotions as she made up her mind. With tears in her eyes, she made her decision, she could not go back. The only way she was going to find out about her past was to escape this life and discover her adventure. The desire for freedom had been seeded in her mind and there was no going back now. It hurts, but I can’t do this any more, it’s not right.
Melisande quickly made her way back to the castle and was able to duck under a large cart delivering supplies while the tide was still low. Once it stopped moving, she wandered out and hid behind a tree, listening to the people nearby. A monk came out to meet the driver, “Peace be with you sir, I see you have brought our supplies.”
The man nodded, “Yes, yes, come on, we need to get these unloaded before the tide starts coming back in, I need to be on the road for Granville well before then.”
Melisande’s heart jumped, Granville is nearby and it’s a port city! If I hurry, I might be able to catch a ride!
She quickly raced up to her room and grabbed a bag. She quickly filled it with everything that she cared about and threw it over her back. She was about to leave when the corner of her eye caught the glimpse of reflected light. She looked up to see that the blade of one of her family’s swords had caught the sunlight. This was odd as the blades had almost no luster left to them. It was very odd, but to her, it almost seemed like the swords were asking to come with her.
How could I forget you? Melisande thought to herself. She quickly grabbed the swords of their wall mounting, wrapped them in a blanket, and placed them under her arm. With her free hand, she grabbed her old cloak, wrapped herself in it, and pulled the hood up.
The moment she was ready to go, Melisande quickly peaked out into the hall to make sure that Sister Mary wasn’t around. This whole adventure would be for nothing if she got caught. Knowing Sister Mary the way she did, she’d probably be locked in her room for days.
Fearing that the carriage was about to leave, or that someone may see her, Melisande raced back down stairs. She was relieved to see that the cart had not left yet. The monks were just finishing loading up the empty barrels from the cargo. She hid behind the bushes and waited for the right moment to jump in.
The hair on the back of the young woman’s neck shot straight up when she heard a familiar voice from behind the monks, “Brother Georgio, have you seen Melisande?”
Melisande jumped as an annoyed-looking Sister Mary appeared on the scene. The monk shook his head, “I’m sorry sister, no.”
The old nun shook her head, “Where could that troublesome girl be? She’s not in her room and no one has seen her.”
“I do not know.” The monk replied.
“Very well, Brother Georgio,” she replied, “if it’s not too much trouble, once you are finished here. Please assist me in locating her. The abbey is too big for me to search on my own.”
“As you wish.” Brother Georgio replied as he got back to unloading the cart.
Once they were done, the driver secured the back of the carriage to keep the barrels from rolling and bowed to the monk, “Thanks for the help, brother. We’ll see you again soon.”
The monk nodded, “Farewell to you sir.”
Melisande saw her chance to escape when the monk turned his back. She darted out quickly and jumped up onto the back of the cart. To prevent being seen, she quickly covered herself over with a leather blanket in the back.
Melisande huddled up next to the barrels and remained perfectly still as the driver cracked the reigns. There was a sudden jolt as the carriage began to move. It was anything but smooth and Melisande found herself getting bounced around as the carriage moved. She grabbed on to one side to steady herself and keep from getting banged up.
Melisande watched quietly as the cart moved away from the abbey. In her heart, she wished that she’d left a letter explaining what she was doing and where she was going, but she’d had no time to write one and she didn’t want to risk tipping them off as to where they could locate her. She decided that it was perhaps best to arrange a letter for them when she figured out where she was going.
The cart began to pick up speed as it departed Mont Saint Michel. Melisande kept getting bounced around and it was hard to keep from hitting against the barrels. It was a rough start, and she was most likely going to see some bruising from the ride, but she was excited to start her new life and had no idea where it would take her.
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
Catch you on the flip side!