Darkness and silence,
Anguish and loneliness
Reign in my cloistered heart.
I am the sea’s foundling,
The orphan of the winds
And Nature’s long-lost child.
- The Canticle of Menkeret.
The Lady Itelyssia, wife of our master Lord Heshuzius, may not be the most intelligent, beautiful or dynamic of women; neither is she particularly pragmatic or imaginative, but she does exhibit a degree of kindness rare amongst the Darrakhai.
Compassion and imagination are indeed uncommon amongst the warlike Darrakhai, my captors. But the Lady Mistress treats her slaves as she does her pets; with a degree of affection and with benign condescension. Her speech and her actions are the source of constant amusement to me, and while I behave subserviently in her presence and treat her with respect, as is expected of a slave, my true feelings towards her are anything but sincere.
Often I have written letters for her and corrected her grammar and spelling, even though Darrakhai is, of course, not my native tongue. I have advised her on matters of taste, precedence and etiquette and she has often confided in me. Before my arrival, only my dear friend Ara had enjoyed the favour of our mistress and now, through our friendship and kinship as slaves, we share it.
A woman of Itelyssia’s station in life is expected to entertain and while refined, intellectual diversion is largely beyond the Darrakhai, they do devote much effort to satisfying all other desires. A woman of means and leisure such as our mistress must impress. It is expected of her. Society demands her to be fashionable, refined, beautiful and to entertain with a level of opulence that befits her class; the slave-owning class.
I apply another touch of red to Ara’s cheek and gently rub it in,
“How do I look?” she asks softly.
“Like a three obol whore.”
“You mean…. just like you.”
We both struggle to suppress our laughter as the steward of the house enters. Upon hearing his brusque voice I turn. Ara and I each wear a broad collar of polished desert stones; black, white and many shades of red. Set in heavy gold, it is an ornament that is as gaudy and costly as it is tasteless. Matching armlets and bracelets adorn our limbs but apart from these, we are quite nude. Our faces are painted and our hair is adorned with sea-green ribbons and violet flowers. The steward orders us all to line up. There are five of us; all women chosen for our skill in love craft, our youth, our beauty and our desirability.
All of the other women are known to me, having been drawn from their usual duties in other parts of the estates of Heshuzius, to serve at tonight’s entertainment. There is Lorae; with her limpid blue eyes, Teyleia; dark, tall, athletic and mysterious and Illia with her sweet, trusting nature and beautiful fair skin. We stand quietly and listen to the steward’s instructions.
“Pleasure slaves, you are to stand in the enclosure prepared for you. You will stand quietly and you will not speak or interact. There will be others of you, males. With these you shall not speak. If my instructions are not followed you can expect to be punished.”
We have all heard this from him before and take little notice of it; we know what the task before us will require – our bodies, our obedience, our passive compliance. But the task is not without its compensations.
We follow the steward into the main banqueting hall of the house. This large and spacious room is fragrant with incense and sumptuously decorated. There is music and the long tables are laden with all manner of fine dishes, rare wines from Heshuzius’ extensive cellars and flowers of all kinds in glorious profusion. The lamps are few, making the space recede into shadow. The furnishings consist of silk hangings, and draped cloth, large cushions and low couches. All is as soft and as intimate as the scale of the room will allow.
The slaves ‘enclosure’ is a cage whose slender bars are made of soft wood twined with golden ribbon. Inside are cushions of dyed and richly embroidered homespun upon which we slaves might sit. Everywhere the domestic servants are still busily preparing for the banquet and leaving no detail to chance, for tonight our mistress’ reputation is at stake. We enter the cage and some of us sit decorously, while others, such as me, recline provocatively.
Soon our mistress, the Lady Itelyssia enters and proceeds quite needlessly and ineffectually, to supervise the servants. She rearranges the flowers; breaking a vase in the process, tastes all the food, orders more cushions and lastly approaches the cage.
“Oh, it seems the males are not yet here,” She frowns. “Where are the male slaves?!”
A servant runs out and soon a group of five naked men enter. Of these, all except one are familiar faces to me. The new one is not a particularly tall man but he has a fine body; tanned and muscular from physical outdoor work rather than the scarred frame of a soldier. The elements have been kind to him too and I find myself easily admiring his muscular shoulders and fine, dark features. His eyes meet mine momentarily as he enters the cage. His face is expressionless; as is expected of a slave, but in his dark eyes I see a deep glimmer.
With the cage full and all other preparations complete, we sit or stand impassively and observe the arrival of Lady Itelyssia’s guests to the accompaniment of music. They are mostly women and a few young men; all from the same social class as the Lady. Their clothes are rich, gaudy and tasteless; each guest it seems, attempting to outdistance all others in expenditure, embellishment and elaboration. The women are of all ages and some of the more mature ladies have brought their daughters for the first time, the girls now being of age. They are here to be introduced to society and so that they can indulge their desires in a manner befitting young ladies of rank. The slave enclosure is of course the primary object upon which they focus their interest; examining the men’s nudity with wide eyed stares and whispering to each other when some particular point of anatomy draws their attention. I smile as I watch them, reminded as I am of the menageries of exotic and dangerous animals that men of means collect and display back home in Mentrassanae.
The music swells in consort and the guests are seated with precedence strictly observed. I notice a severe looking woman, dressed in iridescent black sitting in the place of honour; at the right hand of Lady Itelyssia. The way that our mistress and some of the other guests fawn upon this woman indicates that she is a very important person indeed.
Food is served, the finest that the noble house of Heshuzius can provide. Wine follows in great abundance and an hour later, sweetmeats and fruit. The guests eat, drink and chatter idly; there is laughter and applause as each new course emerges from the kitchens and is served with the utmost ceremony. Hours pass and the formality of the evening is gradually relaxed. Etiquette however demands that the guest of honour has the first pick of the next and final course of the evening; the slaves.
Our lady now invites her guest in black to inspect the cage and to take her pick. During this ceremony the music is subdued and somber. The lady in question stands and approaches the cage. We slaves are expected to stand and strike suggestive poses. I have been through this process three times since becoming a slave and, while my contempt for the Darrakhai remains totally undiminished, I cooperate for the ritual never fails to intrigue me. The lady in black steps up to the cage, smiling benignly and carefully surveys each slave in turn, but she does so dispassionately. As her eyes pass over me, I feel a frisson of disquiet, a tremor of dread, but only momentarily.
“I have chosen!” she announces in a cold voice.
She picks Illia and the assembly applauds briefly. The servants release Illia from the cage and the smiling lady takes her hand. There is great poise in her movements now as she shows the assembled guests her choice and they in turn compliment her on her taste. Indeed she has taste, for Illia is a most beautiful girl, with a charming, gentle and giving nature.
The tables are cleared away and the lights are dimmed. The music changes to slow, sensual rhythms and measured, driving percussion. Incense is lit, filling the room with the sharp aromas of spring. Attended by her two personal servants, the lady in iridescent black takes Illia to a corner of the room where there is wine and where there are flowers.
One by one, in order of precedence the guests choose their slaves. Having done so, they recline upon the cushioned area and proceed to indulge their desires. The beautiful, dark haired man is chosen before me by one of the young, Darrakhai women. I watch as they settle and she orders him to undress her. A tall young man chooses me. His soft warm hands and pleasant smile are reassuring as is his gentle voice. A gentleman amongst the Darrakhai is a rare thing indeed. I go through the procedure of calling him ‘master,’ complimenting him on his attire and thanking him for doing me the honour of choosing my body.
When all the slaves are chosen, the entire room settles down to give their lusts and desires free reign. It is expected that all of the participants of such an event display total commitment. Reluctance and inhibition are frowned upon, innovation and invention are applauded. My young master is well aware of this and is keen to display his eagerness and refinement.
He sits down jovially, upon the cushions, allowing his robe to fall open. I am impressed by his tanned skin and muscular physique. His legs and groin are shaved smooth, as is the custom of the Darrakhai, and the foreskin of his cock is fashionably pierced by a tiny granulated gold bar and bead. I find this refinement most becoming and tell him so. He smiles,
“Then you will have the honour of placing this treasure in your mouth.”
I settle down between his legs, savouring his subtly sweet scent and taking my time. I kiss, nibble and lick the muscles of his thighs and abdomen. I feel him relax as I continue to circle around his cock and balls with my mouth. The sensation is pleasant and soon I find myself paying more attention to the signs of his arousal. I hear his breath deepen; I feel his cock twitch and nod. Deftly I place my hand at its base to prop it up. I pause to look at his face; he is smiling. Now, open mouthed, I lick my lips and slip them over the head of his cock, my fingers tighten around the base of his shaft and immediately I feel him harden. My lips moisten his skin and I begin to apply more pressure to his shaft, spending time at the precious bar and bead; circling and flicking it with my tongue. Long minutes pass as I concentrate upon my task; indeed it is amongst the pleasantest of my duties. My efforts, as always, are successful and soon my young Darrakhai is sighing and breathing heavily with his cock pointing aesthetically up towards the draped ceiling.
I pause to look around me; seeing beautiful, blue - eyed Lorae immediately next to me with a cock in her mouth and another in her pussy. She seems to be enjoying herself. Elsewhere in the room there are moans and sighs, the gentle slap of flesh upon flesh, and all the sounds of fingers, throats, tongues and lips being put to effective use.
I feel the hand of the young Darrakhai now pushing my face away from his cock. With satisfaction, I notice it leaving my mouth very wet, with strings of my saliva trailing. I squat by the young Darrakhai submissively awaiting his pleasure. With a solemn look in his eye he gently pushes me back onto the cushions, spreads my legs and lowers his head onto my pussy. I gasp as his fingers part my lips and his tongue darts over my folds; moistening and caressing each one in turn until my pussy begins to drip with sweet nectar. I lie back upon the cushions; some of these I notice are made of cloth of Tavissa. Indeed our mistress of the house; the Lady Itelyssia has spared no expense. Luxuriating now as this young Darrakhai finds my clit and upon it lavishes his full attention; my hips wriggle and pleasant tingles race up and down my spine. I feel a pulse in my pussy as gentle waves of pleasure course through it. His tongue is cool and soft, strong and skillful; penetrating into my very inner depths like music working its way into my emotions. My belly ripples and undulates as I grind my pussy deeper into his mouth. I do not know his name, nor do I care to know it and my heart reminds me that he is the enemy but the pleasure I now feel is surely a gift from the gods; it would be impious of me to refuse it.
He raises his head and smiles, then he stands. Immediately I kneel before him, swiftly taking his shaft in my hand and sliding the head of his cock into my mouth. Ravenously I devour it; licking and sucking, pumping furiously and running my hand along its entire length until it is as rigid as tempered steel. He is clearly delighted by my enthusiasm but it is of my own pleasure that I am most mindful. I will make this Darrakhai into my instrument, though at present, he knows it not.
I get down on all fours, tossing my long black hair wildly into the air. I then look at him with lust in my eyes. He is unused to brazen displays of this kind from a slave. Clearly he is intrigued by me. I reach back and spread the lips of my pussy; showing him its beauty. I then toss my hair forward and bow my head. I feel his palms firmly grasp my hips. I sample my handiwork now as his entire length slides smoothly into me. I have obviously performed my task well for his cock fills me snugly. I purr and arch my back; allowing him to penetrate me deeply. I feel his hands rubbing my back and he holds my shoulders as he pumps harder and harder. I grow wetter and wetter, dripping with nectar like a ripe peach. Now I feel him breathing hard; his cock surging into my body, his hands grasp my ass and pull my cheeks aside. I push back against him meeting the force of his every stroke with still greater force, telling him that I am more than equal to the task. Drops of sweat fall from his brow and touch my back like warm raindrops; I am making him work for his pleasure.
He stops and I feel him reluctantly drag his cock from my pussy; its head leaving a wet trail across my ass cheek. The young Darrakhai drops upon his back beside me, smiling and drawing me near. He mutters to me that I have pleased him greatly. I smile and nod, straddling him and easing his shaft back into me. His entire length fits comfortably into me, filling me tightly once again. I begin to buck up and down upon it, steadying myself with my hands upon his abdominals. Once again the pleasure I give him is intense; I can see it on his face. He shuts his eyes as I adjust the angle of my thrusts and the pressure of my pussy upon his cock, giving him a subtly different sensation each time I thrust down.
I look around me and find myself in the middle of a sea of writhing, tangled flesh. Up I rise upon my young Darrakhai steed; he is not my master, he is my plaything, to be used for my amusement and discarded as I see fit. In exultation, I raise my arms and spread them wide, surveying the scene all around me with barely concealed glee. Everywhere there is ravenous pussy and ambrosia - sweet ass, voracious cock, impatient fingers, moist lips and succulent limbs for the taking. I see blue eyed Lorae with her long golden hair. She has a girl licking her pussy and a young mans cock in her ass; his balls red – raw, slapping against her lower lips. Nearby Teyleia has her full lips wrapped around the thick cock of a man whose face I cannot see as her fingers massage his balls. Ara’s mouth too has found the pussy of one of the young debutants who licks the slit of another; the latter giggling raucously. The male slaves are all employed as well, using their talents upon the asses, pussies and mouths of these fine ladies of Darrakhai. I see the new slave too; the fine, sleek, dark featured man. He is with the Lady Itelyssia no less; kneeling behind her, spreading her ass and pummeling it furiously. By the look upon her face, this is the first time her secret treasure had been taken. It gives me great pleasure to see her struggling with the ample forces that the dark newcomer is now bringing to bear upon her with his cock. She will learn to love it, for custom dictates that she does so and society demands it.
I look at the stranger and our eyes meet for a moment; he smiles, then I cast my gaze down at my young master. He must be less than twenty summers old. A handsome enough Darrakhai and possessed of a good physique but he strikes me as a rather unimaginative fellow, typical of his kind in that regard. He now has a look of ecstasy upon his face such as I have seldom seen. My pussy renews its onslaught upon his cock. I reach down and massage his balls until they retract completely and I can feel the tiny golden bar and bead that he wears rubbing against my insides.
I throw my head back and imagine myself floating upon that sea of tangled flesh; flesh without beginning, without end; entwined and inextricable, having an aesthetic asymmetry and a primal beauty. From below, a rhythmic beat reverberates through my body; as though the very Earth herself were making love to me. My young master is lost in the timeless plane of pleasure; the transcendent, ethereal realm of the mind. I look down at him and my mind enters that state of consciousness we of Mentrassanae call arru-sha; allowing me to think with exceptional clarity and to perform sorcery.
Unseen to all but me; tendrils of golden light, flecked with iridescence and tipped with fire, emerge from my spine. There are four of them; moving like serpents; undulating, rolling, writhing, growing. With them I reach out and gently caress Ara’s back, Lorae’s shoulders, Teyleia’s cheek; I touch all the slaves that are around me; infusing them momentarily with pleasure, as though I were kissing each of them in turn. They all feel my kiss but are oblivious of its origin.
My fiery tendrils then touch the young Darrakhai lord, sending short surges of exquisite pleasure through his body. In my mind I see his heart and feel its strong double beat. I can hear his blood coursing through his arteries and draining through his veins. It is like a vessel of spun glass, this heart of his; a translucent and fragile receptacle wherein his life force dwells. My tendrils become slender fingered hands of invisible flame and with these I grasp it, making him wince slightly. I can feel the energy that his heart generates as it keeps his body alive. It is a beautiful and brittle thing. I can break it now with less effort than is required for me to breathe; ending his life; the life of one of the Darrakhai, my enemy. Indeed, what is the life of one Darrakhai when they have desecrated the sanctuaries of the gods and raped and slaughtered thousands? I squeeze the vessel that is his heart and immediately there is a change in the expression upon his face.
Words from the sacred canticle now suddenly enter my mind; a sign from the gods,
Like a nightmare banished by the coming of morn,
So the storm clouds retreating re-enact the sweet dawn;
Dawn of youth, dawn of wisdom, dawn of true love,
Bright as the skies stretching boundless above…………
The word of Menkeret, my god, echoes in my mind and stills my fiery hand. I am become the nightmare, I am become the storm cloud. I am the darkness that must make way for the dawn. My god has spoken to me. I retract my deadly tendrils like a cat sheathing her claws. I am moved with compassion, humbled and awed.
Of course, the young Darrakhai knows nothing of this. He recovers quickly and I smile upon him, digging my nails into the cushioned floor to take whatever force he can exert; once twice, three times, four and he stops, his grip on my ass tightens and I hear him invoke his spirit guides.
The room reverberates with the energy of sex as he pumps his warm seed deep into me. It is a feeling I love despite the source and I luxuriate in its warmth. As he recovers, I slip quietly and stealthily away; it is an opportune moment to do so. He will never know what a potentially deadly bloom he had raised to his nostrils.
I carefully step between the writhing bodies to a part of the floor where there is space. This takes me close to where the Lady Itelyssia lies, upon a low couch that is so padded that is seems like an oversized pillow. I find The Lady Mistress seemingly spent after having come. Juices drip from her pussy and nearby sits the cause with a look of contentment upon his face.
He is indeed a fine looking man with the features of one from Zonovon. I sit down next to him and pick up a square of cloth. Discreetly I clean the Darrakhai’s seed from between my pussy lips and from my thighs. I toss the cloth into a basket held by a minion. Had I the presence of mind, I would have tossed the wet cloth into the thing’s face, so full of revulsion do these imbecilic things fill me. After I have done this, Itelyssia looks up. Still breathless she says,
“Ah, Kayla, I’m glad you’re here my beauteous girl.”
“My lady forgets that she is in a vastly different class of beauty to one as humble as I.”
“Oh never mind about that,” she laughs. “I must take some refreshment now and will return presently. Wait here for me, the two of you.”
“Yes, my lady,” we answer simultaneously.
She departs, trailing a long length of violet silk behind her; her nude body leaving a cloud of heavy scent in its wake. I turn to the Zonovan. Tucking my thumb and forefinger away, I lightly touch his wrist with the remaining three fingers. He is obviously delighted by this; the greeting of friendship and kinship in the Zonovan manner, shown to me by Ara. His smiling dark eyes look into mine.
“You seem not to be of Zonovon, yet you know our ways.”
“We slaves are all of one cloth, one family, one kingdom; the republic of hempen homespun,” I whisper.
“And you are a beauty possessed of wise words.”
“Hush! We must whisper. If we are caught in conversation we will be punished.”
“I am Jaano.”
“Your looks are striking and your accent is strange Kayla. From where do you hail?
“I am Mentrassan.”
I know not what, apart from my innate rebelliousness, prompted me to reveal this to him but by his silent, wide – eyed stare, I could tell that he was most impressed. I was an exotic beast indeed.
“Mentrassanae? That is a mythical kingdom surely.”
I smile at him condescendingly then cast an admiring eye at his manhood.
“I can assure you that it exists; far to the north, beyond the Sea of Specters.”
“I have heard wild tales of Mentrassanae,” he says in an awed voice while I watch the Lady Itelyssia drink her favourite spiced fruit juice. “That it is a land of sorcery. Are you a sorceress?”
I meet his eye as he asks this. I say nothing but the look on my face clearly fills him with some misgiving.
“Cease your idle babble now; the Lady Itelyssia will soon return.”
“What will she expect of us?”
“Obedience Jaano! Now lie back.”
He does as I instruct and I surprise him by taking his heavy cock in my hand. It is still wet with a combination of juices. He settles back upon his elbows and smiles as I proceed to pump his cock. I glare at him.
“Composure! You are not supposed to look like you are enjoying this.”
“I’m sorry. You are right of course. Still, you have a very skillful hand, fair enchantress of Mentrassanae.”
Barely suppressing a smile, I redouble my efforts. His cock is thick and wide; making a very satisfying handful. He relaxes now, sits back contentedly, and looks down at my face.
“May I touch you?” He asks tentatively.
“Am I your property?”
“Then you may not,” I whisper harshly.
Admonished, he settles back, quietly content to move his hips up and down in opposition to my hand. He soon becomes hard and I notice that he is looking at me the whole time. Now, with increasing difficulty, I flick his foreskin back and forth over the head of his cock, rubbing his shaft harder and harder, twisting it slightly each time and massaging the base with the edge of my palm. Jaano’s smooth balls hang loose and heavy. I feel the urge to lick them but it would be too great a liberty to take; he is the Lady Itelyssia’s pleasure slave after all. So I tug and tease his cock until it assumes a most pleasing degree of hardness and a most agreeable shape. At length he looks up and a faint look of concern crosses his face. This tells me that our Lady Itelyssia has returned.
“Oh Kayla, you are simply indispensable!”
She squats down next to me looking at Jaano’s rigid, curving manhood and giggles girlishly.
“My, how quickly you’ve prepared him for me.”
With that she grasps his shaft.
“Oh and how well! My mouth just waters at the sight of him.”
She might be talking to a cook about a roast goose.
“My only pleasure is to serve you my lady.”
“Well, you shall have your reward. Now, ensure that you keep him hard while he licks me”
She sits on the floor between Jaano and me, and spreads her legs. Jaano does not hesitate; plunging his fingers and tongue into her velvet folds. With one hand he grasps his cock and shakes it. I cannot help but smile. At first I use only my hand to rub and stimulate him as before, while admiring the sculpture that is his body. He is indeed impressive and desirable. Jaano must have cost our Lady Itelyssia much. I throw back my hair and slip his cock between my lips. He is instantly aware of this and slides his hips closer to me. I lick and suck him slowly at first, pumping his shaft and caressing his balls. But lust soon takes grip of me. Mindful that I must not make him come, I content myself with licking his inner thighs and his smooth balls. Soon he is wet with my saliva. The lady mistress is now bucking furiously and grinding her pussy into his face. After several more minutes of the most intense moans I have ever heard her produce, she pushes him away. By the look on her face I can tell that he has performed his task well.
“Ah, I have done with your mouth,” she announces gleefully.
“Kayla, I want you to lie below me and lick my clit while my dear Jaano here enters me from behind. Do you understand?”
I nod solemnly. She and I have done this before. I lie on my back and Itelyssia, now on all fours, positions her pussy above my face. I look up to see Jaano kneeling behind her with his cock pointing eagerly towards its goal. He looks down and smiles at me as he places his hands firmly on Itelyssia hips and drives his man - thorn into her. He settles down to pump her pussy; using a variety of angles and swaying his hips with the grace of a dancer. For several minutes I watch his fine cock entering her pussy only a half a hands span away from my face. I can see her slit getting wetter as he proceeds to pump with greater force. I reach up and hold her hips, with my hands next to his. I raise my head and lick her clit, making eye contact with Jaano once again and seeing his smile. The Lady reacts by pushing her pussy down onto my face and I increase my efforts. Soon Jaano and I are working in perfect partnership; he with his cock, me with my mouth. I feel his hands touch mine tentatively. When I do not pull them away, he places his palms next to mine on the smooth, cool cheeks of Itelyssia’s ass.
There is a certain warmth about him that I find comforting and arousing. As he increases his pressure on Itelyssia’s pussy, I leave her clit and proceed to lick his shaft as it plunges in and out of her. Next I find his balls, hanging loose and languid, swinging back and forth lustily. My tongue caresses them and I feel them respond to the touch of my warm mouth. Now, with my hands, I spread her pussy wide, allowing him to gain deeper access. She loves this as she has often told me. Jaano takes control, plunging his cock into her furiously. The height of the couch allows him to stand on the floor. Because she is on all fours, Itelyssia’s body is conveniently located at cock – level. This gives him excellent leverage and force which he is now bringing to bear upon her.
Once he slows, I take the opportunity to run my tongue along the length of his shaft, tasting Itelyssia’s juices upon it. I tickle his balls once again and feel them tighten appreciatively. I said that my Lady was generous and so she is, for now I feel her tongue descend on my own pussy. I spread my legs as she finds her way between my folds and onto my clit. I like the sensation but it is the sight of Jaano’s cock pummeling her pussy right in front of my face that gives me most pleasure.
I hear her gasp orders that he is to come inside her and upon hearing this he begins to slam his manhood into her inner depths as hard as he can. I watch fascinated as his muscles flex and beads of sweat drip down onto me from both their bodies. Now his cock almost becomes a blur as it plunges into her eager receptacle. Itelyssia screams and sighs, pushing back against him with every stroke. Harder and harder, I can hear him breathing and then he stops. He looks down at me; the look on his face is one of pure desire and undiluted lust. The moment has arrived. I take his balls into my mouth then lick them with exceptional force. My tongue rubs the base of his cock and I can imagine it pumping stream after stream, spurt after spurt of hot male juice into Itelyssia. His deep groans of delight are a pleasure to hear as are the wails that Itelyssia now produces as she comes. She will be exceptionally pleased with us.
Our lady is spent, as Jaano also seems to be. For several minutes we relax in each others arms; not as mistress and slaves, as owner and property, but as people who have shared an intensely and profoundly pleasurable experience. It is at times like this that I come closest to forgiving the Darrakhai. But not quite.
I roll a length of homespun and place it between Illia’s teeth.
“Bite down gently on this.”
As she does so, a little trickle of blood leaves her nose. I dip my fingers in it and smear some onto both my cheeks.
“There, now we are blood - sisters.”
Despite the cloth in her mouth she grins and snorts, staining her breasts with a few bright spots of blood.
“Now hold still blood sister, I want to ensure that your cheekbones are unbroken.”
She shuts her beautiful eyes as I press my fingers into her face just below them. Luckily her cheekbones seem to be intact. I proceed to examine the rest of her head. She is bruised and bloodied, her hair is torn and one of her eyes is blackened and swollen but no bones seem to be broken as far as I can tell. I reassuringly inform her of the fact and remove the cloth from her mouth. One of her teeth is slightly chipped but of greater concern, are a long cut on her shoulder and a deep cut on her side. I staunched both wounds when I found her; stopping the bleeding with small wooden clamps that hold the sundered flesh together. I now take a needle and burn it red – hot over a candle flame. She gives me a concerned look.
“”Fear not. There are creatures smaller than a dust mote dwelling upon this needle. I am killing them with fire so that they do not enter your body and work their mischief.”
She glances at me skeptically but looks away. Once the needle has cooled, I sew the wounds shut as closely and as deftly as I can; thanking the gods that Marrukka, an old soldier and my father’s most faithful retainer, once taught me how to do this.
We are alone in the kitchens. The very late hour ensures that all the household of Heshuzius has long ago retired. It is four hours after the end of Lady Itellysia’s feast. I had retired too but had troubling dreams. I awoke to hear faint sounds of weeping in the night. My pallet is not far from the kitchens so I arose and soon found Illia. The state she was in appalled me but I am nothing if not pragmatic. I swiftly tended her two most severe wounds and gave her a cup of strong pulqui fortunately left over from the feast.
“Have another cup of pulqui, it will not be missed.”
She downs the cup in one gulp. I resist the temptation to ask her what took place with the high born lady in iridescent black, but of one thing I am certain, Illia is the most docile and compliant of slaves; her injuries were not punishment for resistance or insolence. After a third cup of pulqui she points to a blood spattered scroll lying on a bench nearby.
“The Darrakhai woman I was with, the one who….did this, gave me that scroll to give to the Lady Mistress.”
I pick the scroll up. It is unsealed.
“What does it say?” I ask without thinking.
“I know not. I cannot read.”
I open the scroll. It is written in a fine hand;
““Itellysia, I do hope your pretty slave is not too damaged. Rest assured dear that if she dies you will be compensated.” It is signed, “Karissha, Lady Krotallis…..”
“Aye, some of her minions called her “Lady Krotallis. We must all beware of her.””
Illia tells me this as though is could be a source of concern to me, she then shakes her head dismissively. I look into her eyes with the utmost compassion and she manages a smile.
I roll the parchment back up and pause to think. I look at her nubile nude body. It is much bruised and scratched but on the surface at least there seem to be no serious injuries.
“Is there more pulqui,” she asks timidly.
“You have had enough. Now we must both pray; you to Anth, Abaumoun and Isha, I to Menkeret. Pray silently but pray fervently. I will place my hands upon your heart in the manner of my homeland.”
She nods in her endearingly na? way and closes her eyes; moving her lips as she invokes her gods.
I clasp her shoulder and place my other hand upon her chest. I enter the state of arru - sha Unseen by Illia, golden tendrils of fire emerge from my spine and with them I caress every organ in her body. The tendrils can penetrate flesh and bone as easily as a hand passes through water. What is more, in my mind I can see each part of her body and I know instinctively if it is damaged. If so, my own energy can help it to heal and heal effectively.
As the tendrils pass through her flesh, Illia is seized with thrills of pleasure. Her wounds and bruises will now disappear more quickly. After a few minutes I retract the tendrils and kiss her lightly on the lips. She opens her eyes and smiles as though coming out of a pleasant dream.
“Oh Kayla, your touch is like a balm. Thank you.”
I return her smile.
“Do not thank me before you thank the gods.”
“You are wise as always, dear heart.”
“I will give the scroll to our Lady Mistress tomorrow.”
“Again I thank you. Now I will retire.”
I kiss her gently on the forehead.
“On the morrow I will tend your wounds again. Fear not, they will heal.” She nods trustingly. “One more thing, tell me your family name.”
She looks at me guiltily. It is strictly forbidden for slaves to tell anyone their family names or even to say the name aloud. Most of the slaves adhere to this rule. Not so I.
“A most beautiful name.”
She and I have done this twice before. It is our token of defiance, our bloodless rebellion against the Darrakhai. Now Illia surprises me by whispering in my ear,
“Illia Illea of Kroton.”
She kisses me upon the lips and bids me goodnight.
I watch her as she departs and for a long time after, I sit in the kitchen alone staring at the candle flame. There is but one thought burning in my mind.
“How dare they. How dare they mar her beauty, when only the goddess Time has the right to do so. How dare they!”