Warning: The following short story is science fiction. In addition, there are elements of a sexual element within its contents. Please don’t read if you might be offended.
Merry flames danced in the monstrous fireplace, casting patterns of light over the sparsely decorated walls and the faces of those who inhabited the room. The soft clink of dishes joined the gentle melody of the bangles worn by the slave dancing in a splash of sand in the corner of the room.
Two men spoke quietly while seated on cushions at a low table, laden with savory meats, stewed potatoes, rich cheese, steamed vegetables, wine and tea, barely noticing the gyrations of the dancing girl or the quick and sure movements of the girls who served them.
The fair haired man enthusiastically bit into a plump leg of chicken, then used the bone to gesture towards the other man. His other arm twined around the dark haired slave kneeling beside him in the position of a pleasure slave, pulling her closer until she was almost draped over his lap, smiling down at her with a quick wink before he turned his attention back to the warrior seated across from him.
“Yes, but I would not put it past Trevor of Kargash to come after the sacred dagger. He can be quite ruthless when he wants something, and he has always wanted this dagger, for some unknown reason,” he said, nodding with approval as he noted that the warrior bypassed the sweet wine to drink tea instead.
“Perhaps you are right, Samuel. For that reason, our guards are on high alert against any attack,” said the dark haired man, a thin scar creasing his cheek from his lip to the outer edge of his eye. He sipped his tea before speaking with thoughtful deliberation, “I wish our spies had returned with information about the dagger, and why Trevor is so intent on having it.”
Samuel nodded absently, looking down as firelight glinted on the moisture coating the tips of his fingers, then waggling them in front of his slave’s pretty face. She flashed him a grin, enjoying the game they played so often, as her slender digits gently curled around his thick wrist to draw his hand to her softly parted lips.
The lushly curved girl wrapped her lips around his index finger, sapphire eyes impish as she met his gaze, sucking the tasty chicken juice from his skin before moving on to the next finger. When she finished, she sat back on her heels, eyes lowered with pretended demureness while her rose colored lips retained a cheeky grin.
He held his hands up to inspect them in the dim light provided by the fire, then gave a great shout of laughter before clutching a handful of raven hair to bring her lips to his in a hard kiss. “Go prepare my furs, Kellah,” he muttered in a voice thick with desire. “I’ll be there shortly.”
She inhaled sharply, flushing with excitement, tossing a “Yes, my Master!” over her creamy shoulder as she nearly ran from the room, her hips swaying enticingly under the brevity of the camisk she wore, long hair barely skimming her exposed back as she hurried away.
The warrior looked at Samuel with a chuckle, saying, “It’s good to see a slave so eager to attend to her chores.” They shared a laugh before the other man sobered and spoke again. “I should be on my way. It’s almost time for my watch. Thank you for the meal, my friend.”
Samuel smiled warmly at the man who was his longtime friend, a thousand happy memories of their childhood together reflected in his mahogany eyes. “You know you are always welcome in my house, Javid.”
The men clasped each other in the briefest of hugs before the battle worn warrior turned away, his footsteps fading into oblivion as Samuel once more sank down to sit on the cushion, becoming lost in thought as he stared down into his tea. He did not notice the kitchen slaves who came and went, clearing away the half filled dishes, remnants of a feast. He did not notice as the flames began to die down until only the coals lit the room.
Only when the sound of high pitched, half crazed giggling and the scamper of bare feet reached his ears did he look up from his musings. His eyebrows flew up in surprise as he took note of the figure in the doorway. He stood, large hands on his hips, as he surveyed the child sized figure with the twisted face. “Who are you?” he demanded.
The child only giggled again and, in the blink of an eye, was gone from the doorway. The man cursed and started after the hideous creature, jogging in order to keep up. He pushed through a gate, one of the nine gates of the city, to find himself in a desolate courtyard. He saw no sign of the being he had been following, only a gate that was ajar. He swung it further open and went through, then entered a corridor. He strode down between narrow walls, ears straining for any sound from the child.
His pace increased when he heard a faint giggle, turning down one narrow hallway after another until he found himself in a round room, the child before him and seemingly trapped. “Who are you, and what are you doing running through the city in this manner?” he asked between pants of breath.
He growled and started forward as the creature smiled mysteriously, then melted into the shadows. He stopped short, mouth falling open in shock as a man stepped into the light in the center of the room.
“You! What are YOU doing here, Harl?” he snarled, hand quickly clutching the hilt of his sword.
The other man tossed his head back with a deep, rumbling laugh, pushing mousy brown locks of hair out of his face as he spoke, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” He held both arms to his sides, palms up and gesturing slightly behind him.
Silently, a crowd of men stepped forward out of the shadows, encircling Samuel. He spun around, snarling as he turned back to the small man, drawing his sword to jab the tip towards his heart. “Tell them to back off. NOW!” he thundered, cords working angrily in his throat.
Harl smiled thinly, looking down his long nose at Samuel, a sneer tugging his thin lips even thinner before he suddenly stepped back to draw his own sword, swinging it in a fierce arc to knock Samuel’s sword away.
Samuel shouted, blond strands falling forward into his eyes as he braced his feet, and swung his sword to the right, cutting through the air to meet Harl’s weapon in a clatter of metal, the sound joining with his joyous shout as they battled. They both stepped back to circle around, eyeing each other warily before again engaging in combat.
His eyes widened as he suddenly staggered back and fell to the ground in a heap of male flesh. The man standing behind him stepped back, sheathing the sword. “The hilt of a sword can sometimes be as effective as its blade,” the man smirked. Harl threw his head back to laugh before placing a booted foot on the back of his opponent, humor in his voice as he spoke, “Sorry to cut this short, old friend, but we have places to go.” Nodding to his men, he issued several short commands before striding away.
Kellah hummed softly as she sat in front of a cracked mirror, brushing the ebony strands of hair over her porcelain shoulders. She lightly pinched her cheeks to add color, and then rubbed the soft petals of rose behind her ears, tucking a single bloom into her hair. She studied herself in the mirror before blowing her reflection a kiss and strolling into the next room, double checking to make sure everything was as he preferred.
Her softly sung words ascended into a scream as a heavy axe crashed through the door of the chamber, and a man stepped in over the splinters. He looked her over as she began to back away, grabbing her by the hair, cruelly twisting his hand in the softness of her locks. Tears welled in her blue eyes as he snapped a leash on her collar without speaking. He turned to pass the end of the leash to the man behind him, gave a subtle nod, and left the room.
The strange man holding her leash gave her a toothless leer before spinning to depart from her Master’s chambers, dragging her behind him. He led her down one corridor after another until they came to a courtyard. She screamed shrilly, rushing forward as she spied the shape of her Master motionless on the ground. Her eyes bulged, and she gagged at pressure of the collar against her throat as she reached the length of the leash and was yanked back. Fat tears filled her eyes, making her eyesight watery, before they spilled over to drip from spiky lashes.
She stumbled after the man, her head turned to look over her shoulder as her eyes strained to see if her Master moved. Even when the man snapped her leash to the side of a saddled tharlarion, she still kept her eyes locked to the place where she last saw the seemingly lifeless shape of her love Master.
It was only when the man mounted the beast and began to drag her behind that she noticed the other leashed slaves and smelled the acrid smoke from the burning city. Her feet slid through the cooling granules of sand as she was pulled along. She sobbed violently, eyes turning once more to the city that was growing smaller and smaller with each reluctant step, each footfall taking her further and further away from him and closer to that which was mysterious and unknown.
Samuel stirred, his fingers uncurling against the slick surface of the floor on which he was laying. His eyes opened and strained for some glimmer of light in the total darkness. He could hear the steady drip-drip of water and the occasional squeal of a rat. He lifted his head and inhaled deeply, trying to get a sense of where he was, only to encounter the scent of mold and decay.
His hand shook as it lifted to find his face, soothing over the newly grown facial hair to his open eyes. He briefly wondered if he had lost his sight before his mind struggled to remember how he had come to this dank place.
A tilt of his head came as his ears caught new sounds – the clang of a metal gate, the echo of many footsteps. He pushed up, frowning in distaste as his hand slid around in the gooey mess that was the floor, sitting up as voices came near.
He heard the jingle of keys and the squeak of a gate before strong hands grasped him under the arms, lifting and dragging him. The march of footsteps began again, and they traveled through the darkness, the incomprehensible murmuring of voices echoing off of narrows walls as they turned left, and then right.
The retinue paused, and he could hear a heavy door being pried open. His eyes squeezed shut as sunlight suddenly pierced the darkness, his head pounding with agony while dots of color jumped and twirled behind his eyelids.
He was thrown through the doorway, breath quickly expelled as he landed hard. Palms and knees skidded across warm sand before his body came to a shuddering halt. He opened his eyes, vision slowly focusing on a point in the distance, clearing somewhat to note the sight of small children poking sticks at a group of young pigs within a pen. He drew his gaze back to what was closer – a crowd of menacing figures, silhouetted against the noon sun – as the subtle strains of a far off harp danced through shadows cast to the ground.
He gathered his legs under him, shakily standing, his gaze meeting the eyes of the man who stood near him. Samuel smirked at the man who had been his favored childhood playmate, eyes lingering on the thin scar which creased his cheek from his lip to the outer edge of his eye. He glanced to the other men around him, taking note of the presence of Harl, the man who had lured him into a trap. His eyes narrowed with understanding: his best friend for as long as he could remember was somehow responsible for his current state.
His voice was dry and raspy from disuse as he spoke. “We meet again, Javid.”
The other man grinned maliciously, a snap of his fingers bringing a slave girl forward to drop at to her knees at his heel. She kept her knees spread and her head down, hands in bracelets behind her. She forlornly looked up, eyes lighting as she saw Samuel, the Master she thought forever lost to her, a radiant smile curling her lips as she joyfully breathed out, “my Master….”
Javid twined his hand into the silky strands of her raven hair, painfully forcing her head back as his other hand pulled the hem of her camisk up. Lifting his own tunic, he swiftly entered her, his eyes steady on Samuel while that same sinister smirk persisted on his cruel lips.
Samuel’s blue eyes narrowed on the face of the girl, as her sapphire eyes looked anywhere but at him, shame and fear feeding the slender river of tears that flowed over pale cheeks. She was Kellah, his own slave girl now betraying him. His long fingers curled into his palms, dirty nails cutting into his skin as bitter rage filled him.
Javid’s hand splayed possessively over the curve Kellah’s hip before traveling down, the pads of his fingers flush against the hard nub hidden amongst her fleshy lips, his own hips rocking as he plunged in and out of her warmth. His clever digits moved over that bud, coaxing an unwilling response from the slave. She glanced at him, closing her eyes with a whimpered cry, “Please… do not force me to yield to you… Master.”
His fingers continued to tease her without mercy as he thrust into her with an unyielding tempo. His lips twisted into a cruel smile of satisfaction as she bucked under him, screaming out her pleasure, the walls of her heat clenching around him before he too yielded to pleasure, releasing his seed within her.
Samuel struggled to hide his emotions behind his scruffy beard as his former love slave writhed under the attentions of another man, one who had become his enemy. He started forward, fingers curled in rage towards the throat of Javid until men pulled him back. The crowd around him laughed, both at his efforts and the girl’s helpless yielding. Murmurs of “What a slut!” passed through the crowd as men joustled each other and continued to laugh.
Javid threw her from him, and then adjusted his tunic. He released a short sound of laughter before nodding to a guard nearby, watching as the man dragged a reluctant Kellah away, who sobbed bitter tears as her feet dragged in the sand, a soft, tear-filled gaze locked on the face of the man she loved as she was taken from him once more.
Javid turned back to Samuel, studying the man shaking with absolute anger with a smile for a few long minutes. Still looking at him, he gestured to a guard behind him. “Take him to the pit,” he said.
Samuel was dragged away, his shoulders rounded with the weight of two betrayals, that of his friend, and that of his girl. He barely noticed that Javid followed behind, the cessation of the notes from the plucked stringed of the harp, or the light breeze that toyed with his fair hair. He seemed deeply immersed in his troubled thoughts as the parade of men paused; Javid watched briefly as two elderly men played a rousing game of cup and pebble game, the “house” shuffling the cups around over the top of the table, and then indicated the parade of men should move on with an airy hand of his hand.
They came to a circle of bricks laid into the ground, with a circular stone wall in the middle. The guard pushed Samuel towards the wall, and he looked down into a vast nothingness, an inky blackness that seemed to have no end. He turned to find Javid in front of him. Their eyes met as a thousand memories of their childhood flooded the thoughts of both.
Javid scowled, reaching up to absently rub the deep scar marring his handsome features, his words soft but with the weight of a thousand steel swords backing it. “I’ll never forget the day you gave me this.”
He stepped away from Samuel. “I remember all of the times I beat you at that game too, at cups and pebble. You never were very good at it,” he said with sly humor, adding, “The secret is to focus on the hand holding the pebble, and shut out all other distractions offered.”
His eyes hardened with hatred as his voice rose in pitch. “But you were always too worried about honor, then later about that girl. You let the wrong things rule you. And now you pay the price for it.”
With those words, he lifted a sandaled foot to kick Samuel in the stomach, sending him through the air and into the pit, falling and falling until he landed hard on rough stone. Javid’s voice followed him down, “You’ll be fine down there, my friend… as long as you don’t allow the poison to get into your mouth or eyes!”
The sound of Javid’s laughter trailed away as Samuel began to take note of his narrow prison in the dim light, no sign of said poison in sight. He looked up, measuring the distance to the top of the pit. “Too far,” he muttered, his hand automatically going to the hilt of his sword and finding nothing.
He shifted in surprise, feeling liquid swirling at his feet. He peered down, eying the thick green poison swiftly entering the pit from an unknown location. He walked the perimeter of the pit, feeling along the walls for any give in the stone. He paused for a moment as the sounds of clashing steel and the battle cries of warriors rent the air. His blue eyes widened, as he wondered over who was fighting whom.
He was forced to return his attention to the matters at hand as the fluid rose at an alarming rate, churning around his waist and almost knocking him from his feet. He swiftly tore the remainder of his shirt away, starting to wind it around his eyes for protection when a rope was thrown down.
Without pausing to consider where the rope came from, he hoisted himself up, hand over hand, the tattered remains of his shirt still clutched in one fist. The sounds of a vigorous battle grew louder as he neared to top of the pit, eyes widened as he saw Javid’s guard embroiled in a vicious fight with Warrior’s in full uniform.
Again, his hand instinctively went to his sword, as a guard came at him. Weaponless, he swiped the rag held in his hand in the poisoned goop coating his stomach, and the swung the material at the man, slapping him in the face. The man screamed as the deadly moisture penetrated his eyes. Blinded, he stumbled, and then fell in the pit, his high pitched shriek of agony filling the air as Samuel turned to once more survey the scene.
He ran to a downed Warrior, who had left on his sojourn to the City of Dust. Samuel took up his sword, and then bellowed an exuberant battle cry as he charged into the midst of thrusting, swinging and parrying swords. He met an attack full on, blocking the thrust of a steel tip with his own blade, pushing back until his opponent fell. His weapon then stabbed into the heart of the other man before it was withdrawn, coated with crimson.
He cut a path through fighting men, felling those who stood in his way, slowly gaining ground in his efforts to reach Javid, who fought at the top of a hill. As he neared him, Javid glimpsed his approach, and floundered briefly in his defense, his rival’s sword almost piercing his flesh before he knocked it away with a scream of rage, furious that Samuel still lived in spite of his careful plan.
Javid snarled, impaled the man he was engaged in battle with, then turned to disappear over the edge of the green, grassy hill. Samuel increased his pace, cresting the top of the hill in time to see Javid boarding a fully crewed ship. He was vaguely aware of someone joining him as he watched the vessel pulling away from the shore.
He eyed the man beside him, noting the blood stains on his tunic. He nodded, murmuring “Good morn,” as his eyes went back to linger on the sails visible on the horizon.
The man yelled out orders as he surveyed the carnage left on the verdant hillside, splashes of red amongst the green grass. “Search for anyone who might know where they were headed! Prepare a ship and crew immediately!” He then addressed Samuel, “I take it you knew that man?”
Samuel turned away from the view of the sea, smiling rather wearily at the man. “Yes. May I ask your name, Warrior.. and where am I?”
The man smiled through his heavy facial hair, his own demeanor reflecting a long drawn out siege. “Most just call me Larsson. And you are in the western-most city near the World’s End, that of Enveloum. And you knew that man? Who was he?”
Samuel nodded, as he turned to gaze at the gentle trail of waves, the only sign of a ship’s passing. The call of birds were shrill in the warm air, the bright sunlight in sharp contrast to the sad sloop of Samuel’s shoulders, as he blinked back the sharp sting of tears, his voice a mere whisper. “My twin brother.”