Bartimus looked around him and saw a deer standing not to far from where he stood. He knew that even if the deer remained still he wouldn reach it in less than thirty minutes. His legs were aching already and he envied Selene for her ability to run. He bent his back and rested his hands on his knees. He lightly massaged them to ease the tension that had built up there. He felt the deer moved closer to him and he turned to look at it. It stopped moving with its fore limb midair. There eyes locked for a few seconds before Bartimus felt it was weird and looked away. The deer took a few more steps until it stood beside him. It brought its nazzle to his ribs and inhaled. Bartimus moved away because of the sensation it caused. He straightened himself and looked at it again.

He brought his hand close to its face and then stopped when it moved back. It moved further away till it was in its initial position then it ran into the woods. Bartimus sighed and started walking towards the tree Selene had used for cover. He made it in a shorter period than he had expected and he applauded himself for it. He touched the trees bark and looked up at the leaves. He placked four large leaves and used them to cover himself. He slowly walked in the direction he assumed Selene had gone. After hours of walking, Bartimus stopped to rest. It was quiet for a while until he heard some voices. It sounded like people talking. He tried to hear what they were saying but they were whispering. He got up and started following the voices. He stopped when he caught sight of an old woman talking to a little boy. He assumed the boy was her grandson. The woman stopped talking and looked at Bartimus. He felt ashamed because he barely covered. The old woman smiled at him kindly with pity in her eyes. She told her grandson to get Bartimus some clothes from his bag. The boy handed Bartimus the clothes and went behind a tree with his grandmother to give the naked man some privacy.

”I am done, kind lady. ” Bartimus said when he had finished putting on the clothes.

The woman looked at him as if she was assessing him. She looked at him and smiled before she turned and beconed for her grandson to follow her. The boy looked at Bartimus and waved.

”Be sure to not walk around like that again, sir. The village south of here is populated with more women than men. Im certain that you don want to marry multiple women at once. ” the woman said.

”Thank you for that advice. ” he stated looking at the womans back, ” Though I don think there is any power that can withhold the desire of a lustful woman. It won make much of a difference if Im clothed or not. ”

The woman turned to him with a raised brow. She could see that Bartimus was oblivious of what he had said so she looked at her grandson and then looked back at him. Bartimus smiled innocently and bowed his head slightly as an apology. But hadn she talked of marriage even before him?

”My words weren as intricate as yours, sir. ” the woman said as though she had read his mind,

” Do you know where you
e heading, sir? ”

”No. I am looking for a maiden who I suspect came running this way. Have you seen her, by chance? ” he answered.

”Do you mind describing her? ” she noticed he squinted his eyes, ” I may have seen her. ”

”Shes this short, ” he said holding out his hand to show the woman the approximate height, ” shes pale and has a bit of a rounded face, black hair, brown eyes.. plump lips and she smiles a lot and…she has dimples. She was wearing a white gown and a black cloak. She was bare foot when she run away from me. ”

”Why did she run from you? ” the woman asked.

At her question, Bartimus realised she had obviously seen Selene. But he needed to soothe her worries if he wanted her to tell him about Selenes where-abouts. He smiled to hide his annoyance at the woman for wasting time asking such questions.

”She woke up to find her friend naked beside her. She was just in shock. ” he said with a reassuring smile plastered on his face.

”Shock. The poor maiden could barely even speak coherently when she run into me. She was frightened. ” the woman said sounding more emotional than she should have.

” She just misinterpreted the situation, kind lady. She thought I was going to do something to her. Wouldn you be afraid if you were in her place….and younger? ” he said seriously but lowering his head when her eyes widened at his last statement.

The woman laughed awkwardly then sighed. She looked at him and gestured for him to follow her. He did so and the womans grandson run ahead of them. Bartimus was already tired even before they got anywhere. He had forsaken his wings and now he missed them dearly. They walked on for an hour and Bartimus sat down feeling defeated.

”It seems as though I am the youth between you and I. Your face is youthful but your joints seem weaker than those of a pregnant maiden. ” she said slowing down so that he wouldn stress himself, ” What is your name? ”

Bartimus didn feel like answering her question but her second statement reminded him of the woman from his dream. Maybe this woman knew more than she had exposed. He stood up and continued walking; following her lead.

”Has my earlier inquiry fallen upon deaf ears? ” she asked him after they had walked a few meters.

”No. I just chose to ignore it. My mother warned against strangers. ”

”And yet you
e wearing a strangers clothes and following a strangers lead to your maiden. ” she said stifling a laugh.

”Well… thats a different story. Mother isn here to help me. ” the lies kept flowing from his lips.

”Then how did you befriend the maiden? she asked.

Bartimus was ready to lie again when the woman turned around sharply and pointed a finger at him.

”And don you lie for your poor mother! ” they woman reprimanded.

Bartimus shut his mouth immediately and started thinking of another alternative that didn include a non-existent mother.

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