It took a few hours for Sylvia to clean all the man’s wounds and stitch them up properly. She had run off to the creek a few times to fetch some water to use along with the hot knife on infected looking areas. She hoped that would be enough to keep the areas clean for now. The man had luckily remained unconscious through the whole ordeal, although he would groan or move around restlessly from time to time. Sylvia was just glad he had not been awake for any more of the procedures, since he had probably been through more than enough for one day.
Once Sylvia was completely done tending to his injuries she looked around for a safe place to keep him for the night, somewhere away from the open clearing he was currently laying in. After a few glances she caught sight of an overgrown bunch of bushes, which created what looked like a small burrow. It wasn't much, but it might just be enough to keep him hidden from sight. So she took her apron and tied it under his shoulders and carefully dragged him up into the burrow. It was a cramped little space, but at least it would be somewhat warm at night and would protect him from the rain. When he was safely within, Sylvia bent down and examined his body again, making sure she had not overlooked anything. It was then, as she stopped to brush a leaf off his face, that she noticed how very handsome the man was. He could not have been more than about twenty-five years old or so, which was only a few years older than her. His hair was black like a crow's feathers, his skin a dark bronze color from the sun, and he had a strong build for one so thin. How different his features were from hers! She had light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes, like many girls in her country. He was a very fine-looking man, even though he was so foreign-looking, perhaps the most handsome she had ever seen.
Suddenly, a ray of sunlight leaked through the leaves of the burrow hit the pocket on his chest, making whatever was inside the pocket shimmer. Sylvia examined the area the light had emanated from and noticed a large pendant shoved in his pocket. She quickly pulled it out and gazed at its unusual appearance. It looked like a medallion, but its sheen was like a mix of gold and copper-colored ore. In the center of the medallion there was a large blue gem in the shape of a reptile, with what looked like wings protruding from its back.
"Beautiful..." she whispered with awe.
A pendant with a jewel this big and gorgeous must be worth a fortune! In fact, with a piece like this, Sylvia could buy back her freedom and leave this place for good! She looked down at the man again, wondering if she should take the pendant. Surely this man could have no right to complain since she had saved his life, right?
Sylvia began to slip the necklace from off the man, her heart beating with excitement at the prospect of finally escaping the life of slavery she so unfairly endured. Nevertheless, after a moment she stopped, her own conscience plaguing her. What if this pendant was a family heirloom, or something very important? Surely this man would notice its absence, right?
A few tears ran down Sylvia’s face as the disappointment set in fully. Besides, a slave like her suddenly turning up with a large and expensive piece of jewelry would probably look suspicious! No one would believe she had been given such a trinket by someone. They would assume she stole it, and probably punish her for lying. Freedom was not going to be so easily gained, and she knew it.
She sighed. Ever since being reduced to a life of servitude her days had become so burdensome and tiring. She longed for the days of freedom and joy, for the days of her youth. It had only been three years since her coming here, yet each new day became even more unbearable than the last.
Sylvia paused to look up at the sky. The sun was setting now, which meant she had to get back to the house quickly. She gave the man another glance and saw that he was sleeping quite peacefully. Hopefully he would not be in too much pain when he next woke. Before leaving, she took his leather coat and placed it over him, hoping it would be enough to keep him warm for the night. Finally, she crawled out of the burrow and headed back through the forest’s path. She walked home very quietly and returned to the small servant house.
The others were probably asleep already, so she could slip in without drawing any attention to herself. If any of the chief workers noticed her absence she would be severely punished. So she tip-toed down the hall and to her bed in the sleeping quarters. Everyone was fast asleep, just as she’d thought, getting more rest than she was sure to that night. But even after climbing into bed and settling down for the night. Sylvia laid awake for most of the evening, thinking about the strange man she had found in the woods, wondering where he had come from and just what had happened to him. The cuts on his body looked so terrible, like they had come about from a fight to the death. Yet somehow he had survived and been able to escape his opponent, or opponents. Just where had he come from though? His manner of speaking was so foreign, like nothing she had ever heard before. His accent was a bit rustic-sounding, and spoken at a pitch that made him sound like he was reciting a song or poem of sorts. It was quite lovely—soothing, even—but still unusual.
Sylvia thought for a moment about informing the doctor of his presence, but the strange man's wary expression towards her earlier that day and his injured state made her question the rightness of exposing him without his consent. Perhaps it would just be better to let him heal on his own? After all, if he got any worse then she could always go to the doctor for help later. For now she thought it might just be best to take care of him in secret until she could discern more of his situation.