• “Get up.”
    Ro watched Eliza shake her head before pulling the blanket back over her body.
    Still angry with her for the night before, his patience was too thin to deal with something like this.
    “I said,” Ro grabbed the blanket and pulled it off of her, “get up!”
    Ro stiffened the second he saw Eliza’s body.
    Her skin was pale, almost white and her eyes were swollen red. To make matters worse, she was sweating and breathing heavily. Eyes moving downward he saw that her right ankle was inflamed and slowly turning purple.
    Crouching down besides her, he shook her awake, “What did you do?”
    Her eyes fluttered open and she stared at him weakly, “A snake,” she mouthed as she gasped for air.
    “When? When were you bitten?”
    Shaking her head again, Eliza coughed until blood escaped from her mouth, “Yesterday.”
    This was bad; her injury was far beyond his skill for him to heal and the closest village was two days away.
    “Ok,” he whispered as he wrapped the blanket around Eliza again before picking her up, “the next village is only a couple of days from here, try and hold on for that long.”
    With that said, he pulled her onto his horse before climbing on as well.
    “Ro….” Eliza whimpered, “Ro, it hurts.”
    Thousands of thoughts were racing through his mind but he managed to concentrate on the task at hand. Clicking his tongue, his horse took off running. He may not know a lot about snakebites, but he could tell from Eliza’s condition that if he didn’t hurry, she wouldn’t last long.
    Grabbing her trembling hand, he held it tightly, “Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.” If she fell asleep, than he knew that the chances of her ever waking up again were slim.
    For two days he kept his horse running without rest. In his arms, he could feel her growing weaker and weaker.
    “Come on Eliza, we’re almost there,” he lied. They were still half a day away. He hated this, hated having someone depend on him. Whenever people asked why he traveled alone, this would be his excuse. When you have someone depending on you, their life is in your hands.
    Finally on the second day, Ro could make out the familiar shapes of village off in the distance. Racing forward, Ro entered the town in a matter of minutes. It had been years since he had last been here but thankfully he was able to remember where the doctor lived.
    Jumping off his horse, Ro grabbed Eliza, whose skin was ice cold by now and carried her to the doctor’s hut.
    Luck was on his side and the doctor immediately cleared the floor of his home for Eliza to lie down on.
    “When did she receive the bite?” The doctor asked as he stripped Eliza of her sweat stained clothes.
    “About four days ago,” Ro answered as the doctor ran his hands over Eliza’s trembling body.
    The doctor pointed towards the door, “Wait outside, I have to examine her first.”
    Ro wasn’t stupid; he had clearly seen the glint in the doctor’s eyes when he had first seen Eliza. Even now, the doctor could barely contain the twisted smile that had appeared upon his cracked lips.
    Only a Dúnedin would try to take advantage of dying girl.
    Pushing the doctor’s hand away, Ro shook his head, “I’m not leaving her alone with you.”
    Shrugging his shoulder the doctor started his examination. Half way through, he looked up and gazed at Ro skeptically, “This girl, what is she to you?”
    “My wife.”
    Then the doctor threw back his head and laughed, “Liar, this girl is still a virgin, she is nobodies wife.” The doctor stood up and started to pack his bag, “I won’t treat her unless she is married.”
    This wasn’t happening, “Are you suggesting that I take her now?”
    “Why not? She is weak, less likely that she will put up a struggle.”
    Ro’s eyes drifted over to Eliza who was gasping for air. If she didn’t receive help soon, than he was sure that she would die.
    “I’ll leave you two alone for the time being. Come and find me after you finalize your union.”
    Once they were alone, Ro moved over to Eliza and touched her cheek gently. A moment later, her eyes slowly opened.
    “What’s going on?” She asked weakly before breaking out into a fit of coughing.
    “Spread your legs,” he whispered as he knelt down besides her.
    Eliza stared at him in confusion, not making the situation any easier.
    “Eliza, I promise to make this as painless as possible,” he said as he reached for the rope around his pants. This time Eliza understood.
    “No,” she whispered as she tried to sit up, “please not that.”
    Pushing her back down, Ro watched her break down into tears as she kept begging him not to go through with it.
    “You think I want to do this?” Ro shouted, “if I don’t this, than your as good as dead.”
    Eliza kept crying, “Then let me die, just please don’t do this.”
    Unable to take it anymore, Ro stormed out of the hut. Even though it was his right as Eliza’s ‘husband’ to take her virginity, he couldn’t do it, not like this. Leaning against another mud hut, Ro closed his eyes and racked his mind for a way out of this predicament.
    While he was trying to figure out a plan, a group of old men walked by. One of them, a man crippled with age stopped and stared at Ro.
    “You, I know you,” the man said, as his company continued to walk until they vanished around the corner.
    Opening his eyes, Ro watched the old man hobble towards him, hands out stretched to embrace him.
    “Get away from me you senile hag,” Ro shouted, pushing the man’s arms away. He didn’t have time to deal with crazy old men. As he walked away, Ro could hear the old man telling others to fall to their knees and bow.
    “Crazy lunatic,” Ro muttered.

    Ten minutes later, Ro walked back into the doctor’s hut. In his hand he held a bloody rag. Eliza looked worse than ever. She was drenched with sweat, and there was blood trickling out of the side of her mouth.
    “I’m going to go fetch the doctor,” he said, “when I get back, don’t look me in the eye and look like you have been crying.”
    Confused, Eliza simply nodded as Ro ran out of the hut.
    It didn’t take him long to find the doctor. “Here,” Ro said as he thrust the bloody rag into the doctor’s hands, “she is no longer a virgin so why don’t you get your a** back to that hut and save my wife.”
    “Bless the king, and hope that she gives birth to healthy boys.”
    ‘Bless the king,’ Ro hated that blessing. Since Dúnedins didn’t believe in God, the ‘king’ had decreed that whenever a Dúnedin prayed, he had to use the phrase ‘bless the king’ at some point within his prayer.
    Rolling his eyes, Ro followed the doctor back the hut.
    Once back inside, the doctor quickly set to work at healing Eliza. After giving her some herbs to help with the pain, the doctor smashed together ingredients and created a paste that he spread over the snakebite. An hour later, the doctor stepped back and wiped his hands, “Have no fear, your wife will be better in a matter of days, though she might a develop a mild fever.”
    Letting a sigh of relief, Ro followed the doctor outside, leaving Eliza alone to rest.
    “Now we shall discuss payment. Normally I charge thirty coins for such a procedure, but in your case,” the doctor paused before leaning in towards Ro, “let me lie with your wife, and I will charge you nothing.”
    For a moment Ro said nothing as he watched the doctor wink at him eagerly. Anger was building up inside of him and he had to remind himself of the consequences if he were to murder the doctor right where he stood.
    “Trust a Dúnedin to make such a ridiculous request,” he sneered.
    “Aw, come now. Your wife has no value now. She is nothing more than useless whore.”
    Without saying a word, Ro reached into his bag and practically threw a bag of coins at the doctor, “I think I’ll pass on your offer.”
    The doctor hastily went to work at counting the coins, “Suit yourself, but if I were you, I’d sell her.”
    “What?” Ro asked as he turned around and glared at the doctor who was pouring the coins back into the bag.
    “Your wife, she is a foreigner, no? She must be, since most of our women are never this beautiful. As I was saying, I have heard of a man in Nazareth who is looking to buy girls of this kind. I hear he pays well.”
    Nazareth, also known as the city of slaves, had once been the capital of the Dúnedin nation. Now it was nothing more than a crumbling city of rock, polluted with murders, slave owners, and of course, the head council to the ‘king’. Ro had never been to Nazareth even though it was considered to be the right of passage for every Dúnedin boy to spend a few days in this so-called paradise. When he had reached the age to go, he had openly refused the invitation.
    “I’d think she’d prefer death than ever stepping foot in that awful city.”
    Laughing the doctor slapped Ro hard on the shoulder, “Only he who has never been to that wonderful city would dare call it awful.”
    He had had enough of this, “I’m taking my wife and leaving,” Ro replied as he walked back into the doctor’s hut.
    Although Eliza was asleep, Ro didn’t care. Not even bothering waking her up, Ro hurriedly pulled her clothes back on, before lifting her into his arms. If it were possible, she seemed even lighter than she had been before.
    Once he got outside however, the old man from before was waiting for him.
    “I know who you are,” the old man wheezed as he tried to keep up with Ro, “I never forget a face.”
    Ro only looked back once, “Listen, your clearly mad so do me a favor and leave me alone before I do something I know I’ll regret later,” he snapped before walking away.