This story comes after a sequence of stories that I wrote in the 30 days of flash fiction about a goblet being exchanged for a princess. This occurs to one of the goblet couriers some time later.
Tarrascotti woke up, which was surprising given how much of his last memory was made up of rabid bear. He felt sore all over, which was probably not surprising given how much of his last memory was made up of rabid bear. He was in a bed, which was a good sign, and he wasn’t chained down, which was an even better sign.
The ceiling had been whitewashed. The room was day lit. He turned his head to the left and saw a window with tied-back curtains. He turned his head the other way and saw a woman dressed in black who was sitting in a chair and sewing something white.
“You’re awake,” she sounded pleased and put aside her sewing. “Would you like a drink of water?”
“Yes, please,” he agreed, realising that he was thirsty. “I’m alive, aren’t I?”
“Oh yes.” She had stood and walked to his bedside to pour a cup of water from a jug on the bedside table. She was thirtyish, muscular, with brown hair in a bun and her black clothes were revealed as a three-quarter length, sleeveless jerkin split for riding over shirt, trousers and boots. Wear on the jerkin above her hips showed where a sword belt sat. “It seems you don’t get to leave us so easily.”
He raised himself to drink and she supported him with a firm, capable hand while the other held the cup for him. When he’d finished drinking he said, “You’re a warrior-priestess of the Silent Bride.”
“Yes.” She smiled. “I’m glad to see that being crushed by a bear hasn’t addled your wits. My name’s Ellabetta. Now you need to rest quietly while I go get the others.” She put the cup down, helped him to ease himself comfortably flat again and strode out the doorway.
Her youth, less than half his age, and her vigour made him feel very old. Sitting up had been an effort. Clothes would be nice but he couldn’t see any. He didn’t want to deal with priestesses while naked and in bed.
Ellabetta wasn’t gone long enough for him think he might be able to get out of bed on his own. She returned in only a few minutes, one of a triumvirate of Trideian priestesses. The blonde in the Sharptooth’s green with archery guards sat on the end of the bed. Ellabetta resumed her chair and took up her sewing again. The redhead in Keviran brown with a smudge of flour on one cheek marched over to the bedside, picked up his wrist and took his pulse before leaning over to test his temperature with her cheek.
“No trace of fever anymore,” the Keviran priestess said cheerfully, “So now we just have to build up your strength again.”
“How long have I been out for?” Tarrascotti sounded the way he felt, weak as a kitten. “What happened with the bear?” That seemed a safe way to put it.
“It fell on you, of course.” That was the blonde, smoky-voiced and accented, on the end of his bed. “Fortunately, you weren’t bitten, just clawed and crushed. You would have died before we got here if that wolf-priest, Luca, hadn’t gotten the bear off you as quickly as he did. We must have missed the action by what, a quarter of an hour?” Her look appealed to the other two for confirmation.
“That seems about right,” agreed the Keviran. “You got infections in some of the scratches from its claws, but you weren’t bitten so you didn’t get rabies. You were unconscious longer than I would have expected with us looking after you though.”
“I remember trying to blast it with everything I had left, after it spun me around by the backpack,” Tarrascotti said slowly, “after all, if you’re about to be killed by a bear then having enough energy left to keep your heart beating isn’t an issue.”
“That would explain why it didn’t have a head left above the lower jaw,” commented Ellabetta as she clipped off her thread.
“I’m surprised I’m still alive,” Tarrascotti went on wonderingly, “and I don’t understand why you three ladies are looking after me.” There’ll be a catch somewhere, he thought to himself, and I’m too tired and sore to figure it out before they tell me.
“Ellabetta’s already introduced herself,” the Keviran told him, smiling...fondly at him, “I’m Sofia and this,” she gestured at the blonde, “Is Katinka. We’re your wives.”
That got him up, well half sitting, and damn the bedcovers. “I think I’d remember being married!” Three wives, all young enough to be his daughters! No-one had three wives, it was riduc-
“I’m sure you would,” said Sofia calmly, “if you’d been at the ceremony.”
“The High Priestesses decided that you deserved an additional reward for your care of the Chasrubdel,” Katinka put in from the end of the bed, “Continuation of your bloodline and someone to take care of you. I must say,” she added with some asperity, “that if you’re going to make a habit of rescuing remote villages from rabid bears then you’ll need to let us get into overwatch positions first!”