Finally I met them. They took me into a remote place between France and Spain border. I think I recognized Montségur in the distance. Once I was there on a tour, when Roland was still my fiancé. But this place was far away from any road. We walked through vineyard and there she was. In fact, there was many of priestesses, but she had that charismatic aura around her and I knew from long distance, that she must have been that Altena. I was surprised, when I came closer. She was younger than me. And everybody treated her with the greatest respect. She looked like an angel. She had white gown, long, blond hair, waving freely around her face, and quiet, sweet voice, when she welcomed us. But the most amazing were her eyes. I didn't know that such a color existed at all. Her eyes were... violet. And penetrating, giving me a thrill every time she looked at me. I felt like she could read my mind.
- Welcome, Odette - she greeted me.
After a while, I could clearly understand why there was so much mystery about her. In spite of her age, she seemed to have all knowledge about Soldat. And conversation with her was exiting. Not that she talked much. It was like, in every sentence Altena spoke, was hidden message and she waited until we figured out what she really meant. This sounds crazy but I kind of felt like we travelled back in time and she possessed an ancient knowledge, which she could have shared with us only if we have proven her to be worthy of it.
After maybe two hours, the audience was over. I looked at Roland - he was clearly relieved. What was he afraid of? I couldn't understand. And then, Altena stopped me at the door. Everybody was already out and I found myself standing against the wall, in front of her, alone. The other priestesses were also gone.
- Altena? - I asked uncertainly.
She closed to me. I could feel her breath on my face. Again, there was something paralyzing in her eyes. I couldn't move, I felt heat from inside my body. My heart was bumping fast, so fast. And then she touched my cheek. Her hand was hot. I froze, like hypnotized.
- Altena... - I found it hard to whisper. I wanted to run away and still, at the same very second, I couldn't move or breath.
- I am so happy to finally meet you, Odette. I didn't know you are so beautiful - she smiled to me and moved her fingers through my hair. And then, she embraced me. Softly and warmly, but still, I could feel the heat coming from her. And the fire burning inside my body. Her arms surrounded my waist and suddenly I felt my unborn child move. Altena noticed that. I don't know why, but I was standing still without any reaction, when she slipped her hand under my blouse, put it on my naked skin, gently pressing just in the spot, when I felt my child's move. My heart was about to jump out of my chest and I barely heard her whisper straight into my ear.
- It's a girl, isn't it?
- Yyes... - my lips were dry when I tried to answer.
- Did you choose her name? - her voice was like coming directly inside my body.
- Mireille... - I felt Altena's breath on my neck.
- Ah... so beautiful - she sighed with obvious delight.
- Altena... let... go of me... please. - I couldn't stand that heat anymore. Suddenly I felt scared. But she removed her hand and stepped back a little. Smiled again and looked at me. I took a deep breath.
- I will be watching over you. To make sure your daughter will come to this world healthy and strong.
- Thank you... - I said, feeling relieved. Altena was sure mysterious and eccentric but it all seemed good - after all, nothing would guarantee us safety as much as Soldat’s protection - I thought. I even managed to smile back to her, ready to go. But Altena held my waist again.
- My lovely Odette... - she said with affection, pressed me back to the wall and kissed my lips before I could breath. I wanted to push her away but was afraid of any sudden move because of my child.
- Altena, please... I... - I turned my head away from her - I can't... - I desperately tried to ignore the internal heat that was again taking control over my body. Did I actually... desired her? Oh God. I didn't want to admit it to myself. No, it couldn't be...
- Please... I can't... be yours... I have a husband...
Surprised, I saw her smiling calmly again. It was amazing, how in one second she could regain complete control over herself.
- My lovely Odette - she repeated, caressing my cheek again. She looked down at my belly.
- You are already mine - she whispered and kissed me again, gently. I don't know why I opened my lips. Why I let her... Why I closed my eyes. I don't know.
- So? What did she want? - Roland asked me in the car, five minutes later. I sat on the back seat, trying not to shake.
- She asked about Mireille. And wished me a happy childbirth.
- Only that? - he stared at me for a while.
- Only... that.
I closed my eyes. Couldn't forget those violet eyes for the next couple of months. I don't know if he knew. But he didn't try to touch me for the next two years.