my A to Z - every day of the challenge I will find a word by flinging my finger into my American Heritage Dictionary and then riff on it. The posts may be essays or poems or stories or memories. Who knows what will happen when we give Serendipity her wanton way?
Aula slipped out of the bed pushing her sleepiness from her. If she was to escape it would have to be now. He was in the sort of sleep that followed a night of carousing. She had waited long enough. The servants were asleep too she hoped. Some of them would be in the far reaches of this place, gambling, laughing - getting there own precious bits of freedom where they could find them. To think that she had wanted to leave that life for this! She'd thought it would be lovely to slip between silky sheets at night, to have coffee brought to her in the morning and a woman who would bathe her, fashion her hair into elaborate knots and curls on her head, help her get into the complicated clothing that seemed to be the lot of wealthy women.
Aula padded over the soft carpet to the wicker basket where she had stashed clothing she could move in. Men's clothing. She had pilfered them from the laundry a few weeks back against this night. It had been tricky and she was proud of her stealth and cleverness. The laundress was someone she'd known in the village and Aula had told her that she wanted to surprise her master by making a costume for the upcoming festival.
"I will be travelling minstrel. Will they be missed?"
"No, they belonged to Paulas - the one who was killed in the last raid." The old woman let her voice falter for a moment. Aula knew the laundress was the heart of the household and had probably held Paulus when he'd been first brought to this household, scared and small.
Aula had wanted to comfort the woman but she'd restrained herself. If she was to escape she mustn't do anything to arouse suspicion.
She eased herself out of her sleeping attire and into the simple peasant clothes. She moved quietly into the anteroom where she found her master's dagger in its sheath. Slipping it out she grabbed her hair, her glory, into a quick twist and before she could regret this irreversible step, she sliced it off. Twisting a ribbon around its end she laid the shining length of it on the trunk where he would see it upon rising. She went to put the dagger back where she'd found it and then slipped it into the waistband of her pants instead.
She crept down the stone corridor passing sleeping servants. Through the inner courtyard and past the gate, into the street she went. She knew the one guard that kept the door in the late hours was being held in his lover's arms, her old friend, Lucia. Aula moved more quickly now, needing to get beyond the walls of the city. She'd be allowed passage dressed as she was, her shorn head covered with a cap and her feet in rough sandals. She'd paused in the hall to take a lute left always in the corner for anyone to pluck at. It would secure her as a minstrel in the guard's eyes.
"Halt! Who leaves the polis at this hour?"
Aula made her voice as low as possible. She gave a hearty chortle.
"It is Marcus of Palermo and the troupe left yesterday but I was detained."
Aula gave another low laugh. "A lusty patriarch gave chase and I allowed myself to be captured. I was unyielding at the beginning to give him more fire but then..."
The guard laughed with her and opened the gate wide.
Aula thought about the word she'd chosen 'unyielding'. Unyielding is how she would be from now on. Unyielding to those who would take her freedom from her. She moved quickly through the gate into her new life.