Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Rescue (5): Tivissa town

Tivissa town, at night

The rescue party cautiously walked along the village streets in silence as furtive shadows, with their muskets ready, until they arrived to the local church rear crane. They had found no one so far. Canals then climbed up to one of the apse windows to watch the temple interior, took a glance and carefully went down again: -There are several dozens of people sleeping inside. Civilians. -He said.

When Albesa opened the church gates and slipped inside with his musket ready, followed by the rest of the party, a number of people who where sleeping there hurriedly stood up, looking at the newcomers in confusion and fear. However, all scaring quickly ceased as soon as Barceló and Mireia were recognized by them, so that the party was finally welcome into the temple by the leading man -the local priest, whom they had been talked about at Tarragona. The willful priest's congregation consisted of some fifty people, mostly men, whose appearance denoted fatigue and some hopelessness. The church interior showed a pityful look. It had been spared from flames, unlike from looting or vandalism. The banks chipped remains had been pushed against the nave walls, fragments of the baptismal font had been carefully stacked in one of the chapels. Neither images of saints, or chapels, or the altar itself had escaped some degree of destruction.

They were invited to a frugal dinner that passed among soft talkings. The Tivissa survivors anxiously asked for news of their families displaced in Tarragona city, and Mireia was able to inform most of them: she cared to explain to each one some amount of little details on their family, friends and neighbours, so it acted as a soothing balm to these souls tortured by uncertainty. On their side, the Miquelets party were acknowledged about the villagers arduous tasks of the first days: taking down the victims of the diezmo de horca and giving them a pious burial, collecting the corpses of the those infortunate fallen during the battle... They were explained the recovery tasks the priest had started organizing with enviable energy. Sad and stubborn, Tivissa town had begun its own rebuilding a few days after being scorched by the flames.

-Why have you lit so many bonfires at the town entrances? -suddenly asked Albesa while exhaling smoke from his pipe. Canals didn't miss the significant glances crossover among some of the villagers. The priest hurriedly responded, as if anxious to provide them an irrefutable version:

-I'm afraid we've got wolves in the nearby. We've heard some howlings lately and found many dead animals, especially goats and sheep lost by shepherds before the battle. A number of horse bodies have been devoured too, for sure that hungry wolves have been attracted by the high amount of corpses everywhere. We thought the fires would...

-These howlings had nothing to do with those of wolves, Mossèn. Besides, wolves do not eat dead flesh -a young boy then contradicted the priest. The comment was immediately followed by a spontaneous outburst of small conversations, and the group understood it wasn't the first time the issue had aroused controversy in the small community.

-They do, if hungry enough. -Albesa calmly replied; he then left aside his pipe and stared to his young partner: -And so, what is that round out there, boy?

People ceased their comments, while the boy swallowed: -Dips. They're dips.

-Hell boy!... now that I was about going outside to pee!

The small community and newcomers broke in an open laugh, after which the legendary beasts' image faded away, as quickly as it had appeared in their minds. Only Mireia remained aside, immersed in her own ominous thoughts.

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