Bryantt Sands and Karissa were about to “tie the knot” in the ancient pagan ceremony. Fr. Barnard had overheard her discussing it with Gregor, begging him to keep the priest away. The priest’s heart was breaking as he hid behind the church door and listened to the conversation outside. He knew, somehow, he had to stop her.
“You should forget this handfasting thing and just run off with Barnard,” Gregor was telling her, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She loved Bryantt, even while she loved Fr. Barnard. She had found herself torn between the two of them and the pain was driving her thoughts. The priest was married to the church and she couldn’t have him. Bryantt was marrying the Countess, and ceremony or no ceremony, he would never truly be hers. The ache was as strong in her as in Fr. Barnard, and when she was gone, he withdrew to his chambers to pray, to beg God for some relief from this pain.
“You don’t understand,” she had told him. “I must do this. I can’t keep hurting you. You are married to the church and this is where you belong.”
“How is that any different, Karissa?” he yelled at her. “To be bound to a man who is married to the church? Or to be bound to a man who is married to another woman? How is one better than the other?”
In is frustration, he longed for her. The more she argued, the more he wanted her. Panic seized him.
It was late at night. The villagers had gone to sleep except for the smitty who was busy building locks. Baylee had just finished scrubbing the tavern floor and the wood was still wet and smelled of soap. She poured the priest an ale and then, on seeing how dejected he was, poured him another.
He waved her off, regretting how he’d treated her in the past. She needed to be comforted as much as anyone else – including himself. She deserved better from him.
She was gone by the time he’d finished the ales, then he got up and poured himself more. He returned to the stool at the bar, a little wobbly on his feet this time, but still holding his own. “Don’t leave me!” he had begged her. “I can’t allow it! I can’t!” The memory of his pleading filled his head.
Fr. Barnard poured himself more ale, and more ale, until his head was buried in his hands. The ale had made him quite drunk. He turned and tripped over the woman scrubbing the floor. Nodding apologetically, he pushed the door open into the cold night air and followed the path to the brothel. He wanted to grab her and drag her out of there. He wanted to plead with her. He wanted to stop this thing from happening.
“I won’t allow it!” he yelled again, then he sunk to his knees, and from his knees to the ground, passing out in the wet grass.