The way to the chapel was strewn with rubble and bloody corpses. As Amity trod along the stone floor, she could hear the soles of her bare feet squelching on the stone floor. She shivered as she reasoned that the stickiness that adhered itself to her feet was the blood that flowed from the slaughtered victims of the Duke of Warwick's revenge. However, she was less concerned than she might otherwise have been for the cleanness of her feet. Her naked body was already a mess of dirt, scratches and bruises. A little more made no difference at all.
But before she bathed her body in a stream or even in the castle's filthy moat, in which faeces floated amongst the corpses of the brave defenders of the Baron of Flint's demesne, she had more pressing duty to attend. And this was to give her praise to the Lord God for sparing her from the gruesome slaughter that had delivered every man, woman and child within the castle walls to a premature encounter with their maker. She hoped only that their souls would be spared the pains of eternal damnation she was certain their murderers must surely endure when their time should come.
Amity was shocked to see that his cloth had not spared the priest who served in the chapel any more than it did his congregation. Amongst the piled bodies, slumped over the pews and under the shelter of the holy relics that had failed on this occasion to save believers from the knights and mercenary warriors of a vengeful Duke, there, on the very spot where the faithful celebrated the blessed Eucharist, was the body of the priest, his body slumped over the now drying blood he had shed in defence of the holy sacrament.
It was at the feet of the carved image of the Saviour, raised high on the cross commemorating the moment of His great sacrifice, that Amity bent down, her naked body normally so incongruous in such a holy place, and made her obeisance. As the Lord Jesus Christ had saved the world from its sins, so too had He seen fit to spare her from the fate of her fellows. And in gratitude of that, Amity's first priority was to pray to the Lord to express her gratitude for His infinite mercy and also to request that this mercy should extend to the souls of the freshly massacred, whose corpses filled every room and open space within the castle walls; and no doubt throughout the estate of the now deceased Baron of Flint whose foolishness had brought such disaster upon his servants and family.
She confirmed the vow she had earlier made as she prayed to the Lord her Saviour. As she knew of no sacrifice appropriate for a young woman of no worldly wealth, she vowed instead to eschew forever any possessions of any kind for the rest of her natural life. This was a vow not only to accept no reward for her labours beyond that necessary to stay alive but to own not even clothes to shroud her naked flesh. A vow she intended to keep forever and one that would remind not just her, but anyone who saw her, of the extent of her gratitude to her saviour.
In truth, clothing was something she rarely wore anyway. The recently decapitated Baron, like his father, treated his serving wenches as nothing better than whores. They were his mere playthings from whom he demanded sexual favours whenever he wished and paid no regard at all to their own desires. Only the barest rags were ever allowed to cover the wenches in his service and he took pleasure in their humiliation.
The Baron was one who believed that just as he owned every ox, sheep or swine in his estates, so too did he own the villeins and serfs who tended them. Not for him was there any intention to reciprocate the fealty extended to him. He never promised nor provided any protection or kindness. The English peasantry in his service were his to dispose as he felt fit and the young Baron followed his father's example in his dereliction of any duty towards those living within his estate.
In any case, he was unable to provide the protection the serfs most desired. The greatest source of their misery and the cause of their most bitter complaints had always been the depredations of the Baron himself.
Although he professed to the Christian faith, he frequently damned even the Lord Jesus Christ and treated the ministers of the chapel as servants whose prime purpose was to avail him absolution from the many sins he committed. And should a priest show any reluctance to do so, or ever display the temerity to question the Baron's wisdom, he would be treated with as little respect as that shown by the Duke of Warwick's knights to the now deceased Father Jacques de Calais whose bloody body draped the steps to the nave.
Initially, she had welcomed the opportunity to serve as a wench for the elder Baron of Flint. Like many in the manor, she naively believed that the violence and petty slights visited on her by the Baron's knights was not representative of their liege. Her new servitude was also rescue from the abuse she suffered from her natural father who treated his daughter and wife with as little kindness as did his Norman overlords. She had long lost her virginity to her father's perverse passion from which her mother was unable to protect her daughter any more than she was able to protect herself from a man who believed only too well that she was there solely to honour and obey.
But, as Amity discovered, all that happened was that she exchanged one misery for another, with the additional burden of having to learn, with no formal tuition, the French language that was all the Baron's court spoke or understood.
As Amity's facility in French improved, she learnt not only the words necessary to serve her duties as a wench to the portly, balding Baron but also those words for profanity and obscenity freely mouthed in the company of the Baron's equally foul-mouthed knights and directed with no restraint at the wenches who served him. These profanities were just the accompaniment to the indignities and humiliations met upon Amity and the other women who served his table. She soon learnt that unless a fellow baron or a member of the royal family should visit the Baron's castle, she would be denied the modesty she yearned for, and that the abuse she had known all her life before was to be exceeded by the horrors that were limited by only the Baron's imagination.
After her first day in his service, shivering under the rag which served as her only clothes and also her bed linen, her tears and shame could not be consoled even by the tender caresses of her companions who were now much more inured to the Baron's despicable lust. She soon learnt that the only solace available were her hours of sleep or those waking hours in the company of her equally unfortunate fellows in the execution of their many and arduous menial duties. She wondered how anyone could be so cruel and heartless as the Baron and his knights.
She rejoiced on the occasion of the old Baron's death in a hunting accident witnessed only by his eldest son, the new Baron. Perhaps the young lad, barely needing to shave and so inept on the saddle, would treat his servants and villeins with more respect.
Her hopes were dashed when the young Baron continued in the tradition of his father, made worse by the fact that he was more virile and so able to pursue his rapacious assaults with more energy and persistence. Only the proscriptions ordained by the church prevented her from taking her own life to bring her misery to its end.
She became a frequent visitor to the chapel, avoiding those times when the Baron or his knights made attendance, rare though these were, and prayed to the Lord for deliverance. She found comfort in the images of the Holy Mother Mary and of the blessed saints whose images filled the chapel as they did every church in Christendom. And most of all she took comfort and strength from the example of Jesus Christ, who like her, had suffered so much and had yet, through His suffering, brought the blessing of the Holy Spirit to the world.
"Fucking Warwick!" exclaimed the young Baron not many months after assuming the mantle left by his father. "The cunt slighted me. He even accused me of being the cause of my father's death."
"He was a close friend of your father, my liege," remarked Sir Guillaume, one of the older knights who had lost an ear and a hand in the Crusades. "It is natural he should be aggrieved."
"Are you suggesting that it was I, you fuckface whoreson, who was in some way responsible for my father's death?"
"Not at all, my liege! But many have wondered how it is his own arrow should bring him so low."
"Don't you fucking accuse me, you cockless ass. My father's arrow was deflected by a tree between him and the boar we hunted. Were it not for my urgent ministrations his death would have been sooner. Was it not I who raised the alarm?"
"I make no accusations, my liege, but words have been said in the Royal Court..."
The young Baron eyed his knight with a true glint of menace that clouded his misleadingly innocent face. "It is not right for the Duke of Warwick to slur my character. Not only I, but others in the Royal Court, heard him slander my good name and should the opportunity arise I shall take my blade and force it deep inside the same orifice of his as I shall soon be embedded within of the cuckold's daughter, Amity, here."
Unfortunately, the Baron was true to his word and Amity soon lay beside her sated master, shivering from the chill of the banqueting hall and her own shame, while the Baron resumed his drunken revelries with his other knights who had similarly taken advantage of the many pretty young women who served his table, slaved in the kitchen and throughout cared for their many needs beyond those of their carnal desire.
.... There is more of this story ...