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The 4th Paladin - Chapter 12

The 4th Paladin - Chapter 12

A Chapter by Maria Mercurio
"

A re-imagined telling of Samson and Delilah

"

Chapter 12

The Sorek Valley

1100 BC

 

 

     "Do you mind if we leave this place?"  Samson smiled with his mouth still pressed against mine.  "A dirt floor is not where I pictured having our wedding night."

     His words made me jerk away, and my blood started racing.  Samson sensed he spooked me and dragged me in closer planting soft kisses along my neck.  The sensation made my skin tingle, and it distracted me enough, that I closed my eyes and sighed. 

"No more pulling away Delilah," he whispered.  "It is tearing me apart to not be with you.  I love you."

     His speech slightly undoes me.  I had been trying to wrestle for separation for so long I was exhausted.  It was a comfort to let my feelings govern my actions.  It felt so enjoyable to have him close, that I forgot completely what I had been afraid of.  Samson scooped me off the floor and carried me from the chamber.

     "I am capable of walking."  I grinned at him feeling shy.

     "Hmm," was the response I got.  Samson pressed me even closer and I, feeling reckless, threw my arms around his neck and nuzzled him.  I wondered if he would always smell like spring time.  My actions made him halt and claim my lips again.  When he drew away to continue walking, we were both breathless.  I willed myself to not think any farther than right now.  Right now this felt right, and I would allow myself a measure of happiness.

     Samson navigated unerringly through the dark tunnel not needing a light.  When we emerged into the temple, I expected him to head for my little room, instead he headed toward the inner circle of the city.

     "Where are we going?"  I asked.

     "To our new home."  He did not elaborate, and I playfully glared waiting for more.  He carried me, never once needing to shift my weight or adjust his hold.  It was, as with all things, causing him little effort.  I was still amazed at his strength.  When he stopped before a home of one of the city's most wealthy families, I looked at him sharply.

     "This is the home of an elder."  I stated.

     "No, this was the home of an elder." He corrected.

     Then I remembered with brutal clarity.  The elder was killed by the demons shortly before Samson came to us in the flesh.  "Put me down."  I wiggled trying to get free.  He kept his pace ignoring me.  "We can not.  It is not right."

     "The elders voted on it today and gave us this home.  No one else wanted it, they are too fearful.  Who better than us to live in a home targeted by demons?"  Samson spoke as if it mattered little.

     "It will feel more like a grave than a home."  The truth of my words washed over me like icy water.  "It is dark now.  Should we be out hunting something instead?"

     Samson carried me over the threshold.  The house was filled with candles, the soft light played off the walls of the front room.  It was also over flowing with flowers and greenery.  The scent reminded me of Samson, and I looked on in wonder.  He had done this for me.  No one had ever made me feel special before.

     "Give me this night Delilah."  He set me gently on my feet and turned me to him.  "Tonight no one else and nothing else in the world matters.  Right now, I just want to be with my wife."

         My stomach fluttered and I breathed faster, in fear, but also in longing.  How I would love to shut out all my worries and forget that death had been a constant companion these last few seasons.  "I am not sure I can agree to that."

     He did not try to reason with me or fight, he just leaned in and continued showing me his passion with each kiss.  It was impossible to resist.  Being this close to him filled all the hollow parts of me.  He walked me backwards towards the sleeping chamber still kissing me.  Part of me balked the closer we came.  It would change everything if I acquiesced to this.  I would be his in every way.  I was anxious there would be nothing left of me, he would consume me entirely.  My steps grew shorter and I tried to take a breath that was not of him.

     Samson broke off the kiss and studied me.  "I fear you will have me forever chasing you."  I was not sure what to say.  I wanted to tell him to stop at the same time as encouraging him to continue.  I was in turmoil.  Samson slowly unfastened the silk rope from around my waist.  When it fell to the floor, my robe hung loose on me.  His warm hands trailed over my bare arms and found their way under the fabric to the sensitive parts of my back.  I arched as his touch tickled and aroused me.  My eyes closed again as I permitted myself to enjoy the sensation.  He floated his lips over my ear and I shivered.       "It is a good thing I enjoy the hunt."  He lifted me up again and carried me with large steps to the room, and like that, I was caught.

 

 

     I woke up feeling blissfully content.  I stretched, lifting my arms over my head and pointing my toes.  The blanket shifted off me, and I remembered I was unclothed.  What had felt daring in the dark of night, now seemed scandalous.  I grabbed at the coverings before I was exposed, and cracked my eye lids open slightly looking for Samson.

     He was lying on his side watching me, that ridiculously goofy grin tugging at his mouth.  He did not share my embarrassment of brandishing in the sunlight.  He was fully bared.  I averted my eyes, causing him to laugh at me.

     "Please cover yourself."  I said blushing.

     I heard an exaggerated sigh as he tugged the blanket over him.  "I had hoped to keep you in here with just me for the day."  His heated look sent shivers down my skin, and I hugged the cover closer attempting to build a barrier between our bodies. 

     Samson smiled as if he knew my skittish thoughts.  "Even after last night?"  His sultry voice was so luring. 

     I had not thought it possible to feel that closely connected to another.  Last night had completely changed my perceptions of what marriage could mean.  Samson understood me often better than I understood myself.    

    "See, my love," he crooned as he stroked my long hair.  "There is nothing to run from.  Between us there is only light and joy."

     "And death, destruction, and demons."  I added.

     "That is where you are wrong.  Can you not see?  All that is outside of us.  What lies between us is a world solely of our making."  His words held so much ardor and promise.  His dream was a powerful one, but I was afraid.  I was fearful to trust him, worried about being vulnerable, and unsure about what I wanted.

     I reached for him tentatively.  My fingers grazed over his strong cheek bones, and he captured my hand and kissed my wrist.  He held my hand against his face and sighed down at me.  "Will you not allow us happiness?"

     "If it were as easy as that, then everyone would be happy."  My reply was dreary, but I did not have his way with easy humor.  I was raised to be practical.  No loving parents showered me with affection.  No boys followed me around with big eyes and sweet words.  I lived a life of study and solitude.  I had never felt sorry for myself. It was a quiet life, but one free of messy emotions.  A life of independence, that I had been proud of.

     "It is as easy as that."  He countered.  He rested his head on my stomach, and my hand moved to absently stroke his blond hair.  He closed his eyes and appeared content to truly not leave the room for the day.

     I cannot deny that he was handsome.  Watching him in repose, I must admit there was not another man that compared to his beauty.  It was not his outward attractions that pulled so strongly at my heart though.  He said that he loved me.  I was not sure how he could know with such certainty, but he clearly showed no doubts.  I had never expected to be loved by a man.  I even scorned the doltish actions of others that were blamed on love.  Samson made me feel cherished.  That was the thing that weakened my resolve to stay apart from him.  He stood up to the others when they looked down on me.  He treated me like an equal with the warriors, when they did not think I could be important or useful.  Perhaps with him the title of wife would not be so abhorrent?  I had always assumed the role of wife was more closely tied to neglect, abuse, and slavery than love and joy.

     Maybe love from this man would be a blessing?  Maybe we could even be truly  happy one day, once the demons were defeated.  What would it mean for our lives then?  I had never considered being a mother.  Would Samson also want to have a family?  Could all the things I disdained be suddenly different with Samson?

     Samson and I heard the noise of approaching voices.  He groaned, and I jumped up to dress. 

     "Let us just pretend to be asleep, they will go away."  He continued to lounge.

     "Some one might need us."  I frowned down at him.  "Clothe yourself!"

     I turned away quickly as the covers dropped when he stood.  I could hear him chuckling at my reaction, but thankfully he was dressing.  Once we both had on our wedding clothes, and I braided up my hair, we went to see what the commotion outside our new home was about.

    There was a line of twenty or so women standing at our entrance.  I gazed at them completely mystified as to what they could want.  None seemed in distress, so no new horrible murder had occurred during the night.  No one was injured, not that we could have done much for them.  No one brought us an urgent summons stating we were needed in any way.   In fact, they were happily chattering and smiling, and when Samson made his appearance, a wave of giggles and blushes washed over them.  I folded my arms, suspicious of this activity, but Samson looked positively delighted.

     “Ladies,” He called out with a big smile showing his perfect white teeth.  “What an honor to have you greet us this morning.  How can I be of aid to you?”

     Another bout of giggles and foolishness ensued until one brave and rather pretty young girl stepped forward.  “We have come looking for work in your household.  We thought you would be needing proper servants now.”

     “Not afraid of stepping inside?”  Samson questioned as he grinned encouragingly.

     “Well,” the young girl was breathless under his gaze.  “With you here, I could not imagine there would be a safer place in the city to be.”

     Samson’s booming laugh followed her announcement.  He was enormously pleased.  I glared at the gaggle of girls from behind his shoulder.  I had not seen any of them before, and distrusted that they would be of any real use. 

     “We do need servants.  My lovely wife would know more than I, but surely we are in need of a cook and a wash woman.”   Samson turned to me to confirm, and I mutely shrugged.  I do not know how to cook, so I can not refute him.  The clamoring starts again as the women call out their references, experience, and I am sure, exaggerated qualities.  Samson raised his hands for silence.  “Delilah will be delighted to see you one at a time inside.”

     “I will?”  I hissed behind him.

     “Unfortunately I am called to see the elders to try to strengthen the security of our fine city.” Samson lamented putting on a fine act of remorse for missing what looked to be an arduous task.

     “What happened to saying in bed with me all day?”  I snapped petulantly.

     Samson whipped around at my words and pushed me back into the great room.  “I am willing if you are.”  He spoke suggestively.  Too late did I realize my mistake.  I had provoked the hunter in him again.  I licked my lips as I looked through the open door way at the women craning their necks to see in. 

     “We have an audience.”  My words were barely audible.  I backed up from him while he continued to stalk me.

     “I can have them come back another day.”  He closed the space between us.  My breasts were crushed up against his chest, and I was finding it hard to breathe.

     “You are right we need a cook.  I would not want you to go hungry.”  I tried to sound reasonable, but my voice jumped up at the end, and Samson chuckled at my obvious discomfort.  He gave me a long lingering kiss then, enough that my head grew fuzzy and I almost forgot the group of women outside our door.    

     “I will be back before mid day.  We need to set up a watch.  The greater demons have been quiet, but I can not think they will be for long.”  He released me with obvious reluctance.

     “You are leaving me here then?”  I sounded strangely disappointed.

     “If the pain starts, I will hurry back.  Let me work with the warriors, and you can organize our household.”   He planted a kiss on my forehead and headed towards the door.

      I am not sure why, but his leaving made me slightly angry.  His request was reasonable, and things needed to be done, however, I could not help but resent that on my first day as his wife he was leaving me to attend to matters of great importance and had not considered taking me with him.  We could survive without servants.  My role was decidedly less important.  I did not voice my thoughts.  I watched him leave.  The women gushed and giggled as they parted for him to pass.  I drew in a steadying breath and called the first woman to enter. 

 

 

     It was a most revealing morning.  I had never spoken to so many people in one day.    It took me the entire morning to hear their cases, and in the end, I employed four women.  I chose them solely based on them being the least silly of the bunch.  I did hope one of them could cook.  It was mid day and Samson had not returned as promised.  I started to feel the little needle like pricks and wondered what was keeping him. 

     After I made it through speaking with all the hopeful women that wanted employment, I was bombarded by the wives of the elders and tradesmen of the city.  These influential women had studiously avoided me as the Oracle in training.  They were openly hostile to me as Samson’s supposed harlot.  As Samson’s wife, they fought over me.  They each wanted to claim a close acquaintance.  They begged me to accept their dinner invitations, entreated me to accompany them on morning walks, and pleaded that I join them on shopping expeditions.

     In one night my standing in the city was elevated so high.  I tried to smile, thinking that was what Samson would want.  I tried to be polite and listen to their sorted stories and false promises of lasting friendship.  It was an extreme effort.  How could marriage have done for me what sacrificing my life to save them had not?  Perhaps they did not see it that way, but I had offered myself not sure of the true outcome.  I brought Samson over solely to battle against the evil plaguing us.  This should have been what they saw in me, but my vow to save them did not compare to my vow of marriage.  Being Samson’s wife should not garner their respect so!  I earned it through my actions.  My worth was not measured by the man who had a claim on me, but in the works I had done for others.    

     Even Elon’s elderly wife, Hila, who saw me most days of my life in her home, acted like I was created anew.  Suddenly I was worthy of her notice.  I was in a sorry state when she arrived.  My head ached and my hands had grown numb from the endless pain.  It was unpleasant, but I still functioned.  It was close to dusk, and I was fretful over Samson.  Hila cackled on about how the wedding feast had been so much work and how honored she had been to undertake the event on my behalf.  I was torn between tossing her out and simply leaving the room to lie down, when Samson finally returned.  He looked tired, and I was happy to see he felt as miserable as I did. 

     He came directly to me, and I knew with just one touch I would feel restored.  I sprung up from my mat and walked away to the other side of the room where the hallway reached the courtyard used for preparing meals.  Our two new cooks were there busy at work.  “My husband has returned.  We will supper when you are ready.”

     I did not stay and wait for a reply, but headed back to my mat.  Samson, still not reading my mood, approached me again.  I evaded him and managed to keep the large table between us.  His eyes narrowed.  Now he understood the game I played.  He made me wait all day, so I would keep him waiting now.  He did not stop his pursuit.  He continued to circle, coming closer, but I did not stop moving either.  Hila watched us perplexed as we scrambled about. 

     Through clenched teeth Samson spoke.  “Hila, it was wonderful to see you today.  I am sorry to ask, but I need a private moment with Delilah.”

    Hila stood and nodded knowingly.  “Young couples!”  She smiled, oblivious to the tension in the room.  “Remember what we talked about Delilah.  I will be by tomorrow.”

     I nodded having no idea what she referred to.  I was less relieved to watch her leave though than I would have been before Samson arrived.  She was a barrier between us, and I was slightly anxious to hear what he would say about my antics.  The door closed and Samson all but lunged for me.  I crouched back narrowly avoiding him and started to run.  Our cook chose this moment to enter the room with a large tray of food.  She squealed as I flew past her and stuttered in fright seeing Samson, furious now, chasing after me.  The decorum he showed for Hila did not apply to the house servants.  I made it to our room hoping to bar his way, but he was faster.  Too late I saw that I was trapped.  There was only one exit and he filled the doorway.

     “Come here Delilah.”  He pinched the bridge of his nose and did not look at me.

     “No.”  I balled my hands into fists and pressed my lips tight.

     “What EXACTLY is the meaning of this.”  He spoke low and dangerous.  My skin crawled in warning.

     “You said mid day,” I stated feeling suddenly foolish.  Samson’s head must be pounding much like mine, he winced when I spoke.  I could have ended this so simply, but I held out.  “You kept me waiting all day with no regard for my worries or word that you were detained.”

     Samson regarded me silently for so long I had to shift my weight from foot to foot.  I thought that perhaps he wanted to hear more, but I refused, afraid I might start ranting about things that would only embarrass me later.  I started to wonder if our food had gone cold,  I had barely eaten today and I was feeling ravenous.  My eyes trailed to our newly swept floor and my shoulders slumped, exhausted from the constant company today.  Like a flash of lightning, Samson was on top of me.  The force of his jump had pushed us both onto the bed, and he pinned me under him.  My head cleared and my body surged with strength at the first touch.  I would have sighed in contentment, if I was not still so angry.   

     “Is that what you are upset about?”  He had both my hands trapped in one of his, and with his free hand he drew lazy circles over my collar bone.  “You think I did not want to be with you today?”

     “That is not what I said.”  I struggled futilely to buck him off me.

     “Because I spent the entire day hardly able to think of anything but you.  Everyone wanted something from me.  I kept trying to return here.  I thought if I could at least finish getting the watchers in place then I would not have to spend the entire night on watch myself.  That I could be with you.”  His grip did not lesson over my wrist as his other hand moved up to caressing my neck.

     I gulped at the feel of his fingers on my neck.  “Let me go.”

     “Tsk, tsk, tsk.  Let us not go there again.”   He placed a kiss on my chin just below my mouth, and I involuntarily leaned into him.  “I am glad that you missed me.”

     “I never said I missed you.”  I turned my head to the side as he moved his head to me again.  This left him perfect access to my neck and he attacked it with long wet kisses.  It tickled, and I wiggled in response.

     Samson took in a sharp breath.  “We will never get to eat dinner if you keep that up.”

     I stilled instantly, thinking about our newly acquired servants right outside our door.  “Oh, why did you have to chase me?”

     “Because you ran.”  There was a light growl in his tone and he actually nipped my lip.

    Fighting him was not working, so I changed tactics and became the aggressor.  I pushed up hard from the bed and captured his lips with mine.  That surprised him so much he let go of my hands.  With my arms free I had more leverage, I wrapped my leg over him and rolled us both over.  He moaned into my mouth, and I almost forgot my plan to flee.  With one final kiss, I leaped backwards and stumbled to the door.  Samson propped himself up on his elbows and looked at me bemused. 

     “I am hungry.  Will you be joining me?”  I asked innocently.

     “Mmmm,” he swished his lips side to side as he grinned.  “Thank you.  That was the best part of my day.”

     I was flushed and pleased at the same time.  I was so bitter with him today, and then with a simple look, he had me preening from his praise.  I shook my head befuddled with the jumble of emotions.  He had changed more than just my appearance with our bond, I hardly recognized myself inside either.

 

 

 

    A fortnight went by with nothing horrible happening.  The harvest was healthy once again, the crops were growing and ripening, the livestock was thriving, and no one had been harmed.  The city was jubilant, thinking that the worst was certainly over.  People were starting to resume their former pace of life.  The choking debilitating dread that festered in our city was evaporating.   

     “Do you think they are gone?”  I asked Samson one night as we were just finishing our supper.

     “No,” he was certain.  “The demons that go after the humans are the crafty ones.  They knew from the first moment I cleansed the fields, that a force was here to stand against them.  They are biding their time, but eventually the need to kill will drive them out.  This is when we are at our most vulnerable, when we are lulled into a sense of security.”

     I shivered despite the warm evening not liking what he said.  Samson cautioned to maintain constant vigilance, but it was a difficult task.  It was difficult to do, and even more difficult to encourage others.   

     I went with Samson on the nightly watches.  The warriors on patrol needed to be anointed each night with blood, so they could see the demons coming.  I was amazed to find out my blood worked as well as Samson's.  The downside was having to bolster the nerve to cut myself in order to get at the blood.  Our cuts healed quickly, and without any scarring, but it still hurt tremendously.  My increased strength did not make me any more tolerant to discomforts.             

     We were rounding to the third tower, when I noticed the watcher not at his post.  "No one is there?"  I whispered fearfully pointing up.

     Samson swore under his breath before bounding up the side of a building to perch on the roof top.  I wondered if I would ever move like him.  I watched as he studied the scene.  "No sign of a scuffle, and I don't see the torches set up for signals."  He frowned at the ground around me, but all was quiet.  "Let us make our way to the main watch tower."

     In one huge leap from the roof he landed silently beside me.  I could see he was troubled.  Did something happen, or did the warrior neglect his post?  Samson read the question in my face.

     "We need to find out why the warrior was not there.  Come quickly." 

     I trotted behind as Samson winded through the city streets.  As we neared the watch tower, I heard him curse sharply and slow his pace.  I peeked around his broad back to see what angered him.  A large group of warriors were standing around regaling each other with stories and partaking in drink.  They were laughing loudly and clearly forgetting their duties.

     "What is the meaning of this?"  Samson bellowed.  "Where is Gideon?"

     The warriors drew instantly silent and straightened, seeing Samson in a fury.  I almost felt sorry for them.  One of the younger men stuttered an answer.  "He was feeling unwell."

     "So that is the excuse for abandoning your posts?"  Samson glowered.

     A surly older man spit on the ground before speaking.  "It has been quiet.  We were still on our way out.  Night watch is dull work and we needed some pleasant thoughts to keep us company."

     "I would hope that the thought of protecting the lives of your family and friends would be sustaining enough.  The danger is real and still out there."  Samson crossed his arms, his enormous muscles were tense as he tried to reign in his anger.  No one spoke up at his rebuke, and Samson let the silence stretch until many started fidgeting.  Finally he huffed out a sigh.  "Do any of you need to be anointed?"

     I looked into the men's faces then, checking to see if the marks on their foreheads were smeared or washed off.  Only two men looked to need more blood.  That was a relief.  A small slice on the finger would be enough to draw the mark, no need to slice into my arm then.  Samson started in on his lecture of vigilance, as I approached the two warriors.  I had just pulled the knife from my leg sheath, when I heard the screaming.  It was off in the distance, and I froze to try and place the direction.  Once I realized it was human, my body went cold. 

     "Samson," I shouted, interrupting his tirade.  "Listen."

     He cocked his head to the side and stilled.  The next scream was louder and closer.  Samson did not hesitate, but turned and ran in the direction of the sound.  I followed, yelling at the warriors standing around dumbly.  "Come!"

     Samson and I were much swifter, but I checked behind to see if we were followed.  They may not make it in any reasonable time to help us, but at least they were headed in the right direction. 

     It was not until I turned back around and quickened my pace to keep up with Samson, that I started to be afraid.  If people were screaming, then these would be the demons I feared the most.  These would be the beast that thought like men, and they had waited to strike when we had ashamedly let down our guard.  I gripped the handle of my knife even tighter as I ran. 

     A final gut wrenching scream was heard and an even scarier silence followed.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw several dark figures leaping from the roof tops in the opposite direction we were headed.  I spun on my heal to get a better look.  Samson noticed too, and was squinting at their retreating blurred images.  They looked like no more then shadows flickering in the night, and were gone in the blink of an eye.  We did not pursue.  Samson reached for my hand and we ran to where the screams had come from.

     I thought I knew what to expect, but knowing and seeing were vastly different things.  We were too late to do much but take in the scene and search for any survivors.  The demons had invaded not one but three homes.  Small single room dwellings that housed working families.  The first was an older man and his wife, the second was a very elderly man and his son, the third was the hardest, a young widow and her four children.  They were all dead.  Dead in such horrible and bloody ways that I could not begin to imagine how they must have died.  The screams I heard took on even more cruel and horrible meaning.  Each pair of sightless eyes was an accusation.  How could we have failed them?  I stumbled out of the last house and sobbed in the streets.



© 2013 Maria Mercurio


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Added on July 21, 2013
Last Updated on July 21, 2013
Tags: young adult, paranormal, angel, demon