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 I need a name for this one... 
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Chibi

Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:35 am
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Post I need a name for this one...
My stomach cramps, I have forgotten how long it has been since I ate. I try and ignore them. I have water, grimy, smelly, drip off the cell water. But at least it is wet and it helps. I collect it in my earrings, and can manage about a sip at a time. It sounds pathetic, but it has kept me going for the last few days.

I have learnt to hate the dark, I used to love it, it hid me and was like a veil I could wrap around me and hide. Now it is oppressive, I want to see some light, something, rather than rely on my sense of touch. I know I have been here for a while, but you soon lose track of time when you have nothing to judge it by. I guess they are trying to starve me to death, rather than reveal my crime to the world. It doesn’t bother me. It was an act of impulse, circumstance and opportunity.

I hear footsteps. I expect them to pass, they normally do and no cries of innocence or screams accompany them. I figure it is just guards. They stop at my cell. I cower in my corner, this surprises me as I am not scared of them. The wall is cold against my back and my skin feels all clammy. I feel goose bumps rising on my flesh and an involuntary shiver goes through my body. Is this an omen? Maybe I am to finally die. I slid my earrings under the pallet, hopefully the next poor soul can use them.

I hear the key turn in the door and oomph as they push the door open. A torch shines light into my cell. For the first time in weeks I can again see my prison, although my sight is hampered by sensitivity. In the blur I can make out three figures. Two are guard and the other is… I am not sure. I won’t shield my eyes to get a better view, it shows weakness.
‘So this one my uncle sees as dangerous.’ I know who he is now, the Kalif’s nephew. He comes over to me. ‘Stand.’ I stand with what little dignity I have left in the rags I wear. I look him in the eye. He blocks out most of the torch light so I can see him quite clearly. I can see him appraising me as well. He is a good head taller than me, dark hair worn in the current fashion, although a little longer and shaggier than most. His eyes are in shadow, so I cannot see what he is thinking. His face is clean shaven and I can smell musk.
‘Your name?’ he demands. I shrug.
‘Is it that important?’ I manage to whisper. He smirks at my answer.
‘Well at least your confinement hasn’t broken your sense of humour. I am…’
‘I know who you are, heir to the Twin Cities of Paradise.’ He laughs.
‘Good, then you will not question my intent. Follow me.’ I hide my shock and follow him out. I am a little shaky on my feet, but I hide it by taking small steps. The guards follow behind, I see now they do not wear the uniform of the Kalif, but are the nephew’s personal guard.

They walk me quickly through the dungeons and up to the palace itself. I try and memorise the path they took, but my brain is still hazy and my eyes are still not fully adjusted to being back in normal light. I hear snickers and whispers from slaves and servants as we pass. I ignore them. I am out of my cage. Even this man will not be able to hold me for long. I watch his back, he moves crisply and efficiently, he is a warrior. I sense he is a dangerous man to cross. We reach some doors. As we are to enter I hear a clamber of footsteps come our way. Palace guards, my freedom was short lived. I glance around me, but I have no escape route.
‘Halt, the Kalif would like to see you.’ They address his nephew and not me.
‘Take her inside and watch her.’ The palace guards look worried.
‘She is to come as well.’ They direct. He shrugs and motions to be followed. I keep my head low. The Kalif was not far. The palace floor is quite beautiful if you take time to study it. The mosaic tiles are laid out in very intricate patterns. I doubt this will help me at all, but it keeps my mind focused. We are left outside the audience chamber. I cannot hear what is being said, but I know what he will be told. I tried to assassinate the Kalif, but I think he already knows that. He returns a few moments later. As he leaves I hear the Kalif announce.
‘She is your responsibility.’

***
I follow him back to the door again.
‘Stand guard at the door.’ He leads me into a vast series of vaulted rooms, separated only by archways. These must be his personal quarters. I cannot see or hear any servants. I guess he is after a concubine, although I don’t see what I would have to offer. Most men see me as scrawny and too forward. I follow him to a bathing chamber. The pool is large and full of steaming water.
‘Wash.’ He commands, but does not leave. He turns and looks at me. For the first time I am self conscious. I have been naked before men before, I guess the weeks of starvation have begun to play havoc with my mind.
‘I will do it for you if you cannot do it yourself.’ He stares me in the eyes. They are tawny, like that of a giant cat. I feel them compelling me to remove my clothes. I look away, my first act of submission. I walk around to the other side of the pool and turn my back, not that it will do much as the water is crystal clear. I pile my few belongings near the edge and wish I had kept my earrings. It was too late now.

I slip into the water silently and duck under the water, my hair now wet should cover some of my body. I surface near the edge and sit on a step. My hair does cover most of me.
‘Here,’ He hands me a bar of soap. I take it and keep my face covered to hide the blush. I feel my hair being lifted and I gasp. I feel naked all over again. His hands are rough against my skin, callused from the use of a weapon.
‘Wash or I shall wash your body as well as your hair.’ I know now he sees my flushed features. There is a hint of laughter in his voice. I wash myself, it feels odd to have someone washing my hair and rubbing my scalp. His touch sends tingles through my body.
‘Wash the soap out.’ He commands and after I finish lathering my body I do. I hear him walk off. I slip under the water again, it feels silky next to my skin and I see a cloud of brown come from my body and hair. It sinks to the bottom. When I surface I notice that my meagre possessions are gone. I turn frantically and see him leaning against the archway with a large smile. On a small bench next to him is a garment, from where I am I cannot make out what it is. He walks into the other room.

I leave the water and hurry to the bench. All he has left me is a cloth to dry myself. I hear him chuckle in the next room. He knows my frustration. I wrap the cloth around me and walk into the main room leaving a trail of water. My hair dripping and hangs around my waist. He is sitting on a large cushion in front of a fire. A platter of food sits enticingly next to him. I know better than to gorge myself, I have been starved before. I take a seat opposite him. He watches me with eyes of a predator, lidded and unreadable. I take a single piece of fruit, one that is bitter. He watches me with interest. I have never eaten in front of someone like this. I am self conscious.
‘Can I have water?’ I ask when I finish. He pours clear liquid from the jug into an earthenware cup. I sniff it I smell nothing and sip it. It is wonderful to taste sweet clear liquid, untainted by the grime of the cell.

‘So your name?’ he asks me again. I look at him. I shift in my seat, I am wary to tell him anything about me until I know his intent. Again I feel his gaze compelling me to answer. I will not look away this time. Instead I try and shift the balance of power. I lean forward and am just inches away from his face. I can again smell the musk. I know that the cloth covers most of my body, but he should be able to see the tops of my breasts. He glances down and then looks back at my face. I feel the compulsion to do his will has died a little. I smile.
‘What is it you want from me?’ I ask my voice husky with lack of use. He leans back a little and stretches.
‘Does it matter?’ He asks and I raise an eyebrow.
‘Does my name?’ I retort, he laughs again. This man intrigues me. I find I want to know what he wants from me. ‘Inari,’ I reply in a whisper. I am not ashamed of my name, it is just that names have power, and while it wasn’t know I had a little more.
‘And you want from me?’ I continue to whisper.
‘You’re a threat,’ he paused. ‘One that I control now,’ It was my turn to laugh. I take a step closer. My face is now just inches away from his body. I wriggle a little and the cloth falls from my body. I know he cannot see all of me right now, but he did earlier. My hand gently touches his face. I feel the same tingling as earlier, and see it has the same reaction on him. I take me hand away.
‘You’re in control?’ I whisper in his ear, taunting him.

He gets up and walks towards one of the windows. He looks back at me, his eyes now hidden in shadow, his thoughts again a mystery to me. I stand, not bothering to cover my nakedness. I walk over to him. He watches me and I no longer feel like prey, but I am not in control either. I stop a step away.
‘What is it you want from me?’ I ask again. He looks at me and I see in his eyes a struggle. He is restraining himself. I am impressed most men would have taken me by now. He takes a step closer and it is my turn to struggle against my desire. I desire him that thought shocks me. He looks me in the eye and smiles.
‘I guess both of us are still creatures of instinct.’ He says taking hold of my face. His scent fills the air and I am intoxicated. His hand strokes my face and I let out a soft moan. He smiles. My hand reaches up and slides through his hair. I hear a growl escape his lips. He steps back and turns from me. He has better control of his body than I do at present. I know when to leave well enough alone and go and collect the cloth. I wrap it around my form and then go back to him.
‘Would you prefer to talk of this in the morning?’ I ask. I know tonight he has won only through his steely resolve. He nods not looking at me. It is only then I realise he has not told my where I am to sleep. Seeming to know my thoughts he points to the large bed that dominates this part of his chambers.


I wake to find him next to me. He is lying on top of the covers and watching me sleep. I feel self conscious again. The cloth is lying on the floor where I left it, so I instinctively hold the bedding to my body. He tawny eyes are hooded again. I know not what he is thinking. He smiles.
‘There are clothes for you next to the bed,’ He instructs. ‘We will eat in the gardens,’ He stands and walks out one of the many arched windows. I guess they are as much doors. I look next to me. A pile of gossamer fabric and silk, I had forgotten how much I hated female attire. It had been a long time since I had worn it. I put it on and was surprised to see it wasn’t as horridly revealing as I thought. I meet him in the gardens they are lush and full of colour, so different to the city and desert below. I take a seat on a cushion and look at the food, again there is a wondrous choice, but I only take a single piece of fruit. I eat it slowly savouring its taste. He watches me, but again does not eat in my presence.
‘Your task for me?’ I ask. I have never been one for diplomacy. He looks at me and smiles.
‘As I said last night, you are a threat to my uncle I now control.’ He pauses. ‘As far as everyone is concerned fated one, you are my concubine.’ He refers to the crescent shaped mark on my lower back. I am not worried it is not something I hide.
‘And I am to do what?’ I am not one who can sit around doing nothing.
‘Learn to be a delicate flower.’ If I had been eating I would have choked on my food.

I stand and walk to him on the edge of the garden. He looks at me as I move towards him. I move with silence and the conviction of a hunter. He eyes never leave mine.
‘You’re uncle did tell you what I did?’ I ask standing beside him, looking at the foliage and no longer in his eyes.
‘Yes. He showed me the mark on his neck.’ I smile at the thought he has a lasting scar. He grabs me and forces me to face him. ‘Some delicate flowers are dangerous as well as beautiful.’ I am held again by his eyes. ‘I want my uncle to believe I have broken you, that you are a just beautiful delicate flower that is devoted to me.’ I try and look away, but his gaze is too powerful. ‘But…’ he pauses. ‘You will be my assassin.’ He lets go. I am still riveted to the spot by his eyes. His words reaching my brain, but I cannot react. I manage a smile. He touches my face and I am still lost. I move closer to him, I feel his breath on my cheek. He slides his other arm around me and whispers in my ear.
‘If you ever think of crossing me I will kill you myself.’ The spell is broken and I break free of his caress. I look at him and raise an eyebrow. I walk back to the food without responding. I take another piece of fruit and begin to eat.

I wait until I have finished the fruit before answering.
‘How long will this servitude be?’ I pause and pour myself a drink. ‘And what do I get out of it?’ He smirks. It does not reach his eyes which are like cold shards of tiger’s eye. He comes and sits opposite me and takes a piece of fruit for himself.
‘A life of luxury in the palace, ability to travel and let’s not forget I pulled you from that hell hole.’ I give him an ambiguous smile.
‘I will agree you pulled me from one prison, but you have put me into another, this cage is merely a gilded version of the last.’ I pause. ‘A prison is still a prison no matter the perks you are given.’ I look at him and try and consider my choices. At least he was honest about his intent. I take a drink of the water and look at him.
‘How real a concubine am I to be?’ I half expect him to tell me he prefers men and it is all a sham. But the way he has been reacting towards me indicates this to a wayward thought. He eats the fruit in a single bite and crosses the rug in one fluid motion. Maybe he will take me now.
‘I expect you to perform all your duties with equal conviction.’ I smile.
‘I agree,’ I hear the words slip from my mouth in a husky whisper.

My hand grabs his face and pulls it towards me. His tawny eyes seem to read my thoughts and he meets my lips with equal fervour. He tastes of nectar and I am lost. His arms slide down my back and he pushes me down amongst the cushions. He pulls away and growls. I am having the same effect on him. My hands leave his face and remove his loose shirt. I feel his kneading my back and buttocks. I take his mouth again and my hands feel the contours of his body. I hear fabric tear and the cold kiss of the air on exposed flesh. I moan in the kiss. I pull back and trail my lips down his chest, while my hands clutch at his back. His hand surrounds a breast and he strokes the nipple with his callused thumb. I shiver with anticipation, as I reach his navel I can see the effect I am having on him. His penis is trying to break free of its bonds. I slid my hand inside and gently run a feather-light touch along it.

He growls again and his other hand grabs my face and he kisses me fiercely. I push his pants down and take a firmer grip his kiss deepens as I begin to slide my hand along the shaft. He hand moves from my face and the final barrier between us, my remaining clothing is removed. His fingers delve into the moist warmth and I break free of the kiss and moan. I look at his eyes and see both delight and hunger. I know he can see the same in mine. I grab both of his shoulders and swap our positions.

I look down at him and smile, his hand still clutches my breast, and I feel it clench as I take him inside he. He pulls me down with his free hand his mouth surrounds my other nipple. I feel like I will explode with pleasure, the way he moves inside me driving me to my limit. His mouth leaves my breast and again takes my mouth and he switches our positions again. I hear his laboured breathing and know he is reaching his peak as well. I feel the final thrust and indescribable pleasure fills my entire body. I look into his eyes and see he is equally satisfied. He sinks against me and we ride the waves of the aftermath together. When we finally separate I feel the warm sun on my skin and there is silence. Neither of us can seem to find the words to explain what happened. The feral wanton desire that filled us is sated, at least for the moment. I look at him, how is it a man I barely know can evoke such passion in me? I feel his fingers stroke my arm. I would call it a lover’s caress, but… in my confused state I leave it be.

I sit up and lean on one elbow, and look down at him. His fingers still touch my arm, and his eyes catch mine. I lean down and brush stray hair from his face and mine falls like a curtain blocking the sun. Impulse takes me and I kiss him. He returns it and pulls me back into his arms. I realise I feel safe, I trust him with my life. I pull away.
‘I am yours.’ I tell him. His hand slides through my hair and pulls it away from my face. He looks at me, his eyes probing deeply, I feel him read my soul.
‘You are a treasure that needs guarding.’ He tells me cryptically and kisses me again. I feel we could while the morning away in each others arms, and I know I would enjoy every second. His hand slips from my hair and he rises. He looks at the remains of my clothes and gives me a sad smile. He picks up his shirt and hands it to me while lifting his pants.
‘This will have to do until I have another set made.’ I stand and slide it over my body it is soft and still smells of him. It covers what it needs and I follow him back inside. I sit on the bed while he dresses.
‘What will you have me do today?’ I ask when he is done. He looks at me.
‘Can you read?’ I laugh.
‘No woman is allowed to read.’ I remind him. He grabs my chin and looks me in the eye.
‘But you are no ordinary woman are you fated one.’ He lets go and watches me. I look at him and shrug.
‘Some, I can write a little too.’ He nods his head in approval.
‘Well I have some engagements this today, tonight there is a feast. You will be attending with me.’ He throws me a brush. ‘Suitable attire has been arranged. Inari,’ He finally calls me by my name.
‘Yes my lord.’ I answer instinctively. He smiles.
‘Call me Adar.’ I watch him leave, Adar, the heir, who wants me to be his assassin. I begin to brush my hair, it is tangled from both our desire and washing it the night before.

***
He arrives just as it is getting dark. My day has been painfully boring. I now know how many paces it is from one side of his chambers to the other. I can name all the furniture and what most of the drawers contain. The brush sits on the bed next to the only text I could find, which was dry and beyond me. He looks relieved in his arms is a parcel. He gives me a smile as I rise from the bed and take it from him.
‘Do you have time for a bath?’ I ask. He gives me a smirk.
‘Only if you join me…’ Then he pauses and sighs. ‘I don’t think there will be time. We need to discuss tactics before tonight.’ I sink onto the bed, the parcel beside me. He stretches and takes a seat beside me.
‘My uncle will be watching you closely, so never leave my side and let me talk. Rumours are spread through out the palace that I took a prisoner as a lover. Let them be intrigued by you,’ he looks at me. His tawny eyes again capture me. I nod.
‘Am I to do anything else?’ I ask hoping I don’t have to kill. He shakes his head.
‘No, tonight you will just be an exotic delicate flower.’ He slips his hand into my hair. ‘Leave it out tonight.’ His touch excites me. He opens the parcel and inside is another outfit. This one is more revealing than the last and has a wealth of jewels sewn into the fabric. One thing it does cover is my mark. He pulls his shirt from me and I gasp at the cool air.

‘Dress,’ he commands in a thick voice. I step off the bed and take the first of the garments, unlike this morning it is a skirt rather than pants. Layers of see-through fabric are overlapped to hint at what is beneath. He holds up something else. I blush when I realise it is the undergarment. I slip it on quickly. The top is beautiful I can barely describe the intricacies of the design and the workman ship that went into it. It is soft against me skin. I turn around.
‘Can you please?’ I ask indicating the straps. He brushes my hair aside with the lightest touch and I get shivers as he connects it together. I turn back to face him.
‘Will I do?’ I ask. He just smiles. As I go to walk to a mirror he grabs my wrist.
‘You’re not quite done yet.’ From a locked box by the bed he pulls out pieces of jewellery. Two he places onto my wrists, another around my head, that settles on my brow and finally a pair of earrings. I place them into me ears.
‘Those are never to come off.’ He tells me as I place them. ‘They are the mark that you are mine.’ The final statement is said with a slight growl in his voice.

He then allows me to see my reflection. I look like the part. I have not dressed this way in a long time. He comes and stands behind me and hands me one final item. It is a small bag of cosmetics. I nod and he leaves me to it. When I return he is ready as well. He gives me a smile.
‘I will be the envy of the feast.’ He tells me, I think he is rather proud of this. I walk and take his arm.
‘Slippers?’ I ask and indicate my feet. He shakes his head.
‘Not tonight,’ He leans in close and whispers. ‘Tonight you are to make every man jealous of me and some of them their have strange fetishes.’ His hand trails across my stomach and I feel a flutter behind it. I turn around. I touch his face and slip my hand into his pants. He gasps at my boldness. I lean in.
‘Let them think that the feast interrupted something you would prefer to be doing.’ I whisper in his ear and then take his mouth. I pull away and check a mirror to fix my cosmetics. His eyes are boring into my back. I look at him. I see hunger and desire staring back at me. I smile. ‘Perfect.’ I tell him as he pulls me close to kiss me in return.
‘You are…’ he growls the last word into my hair and I cannot understand what it is. He takes my hand and leads me out of the room.

There must be only a handful of other women in the room. I feel all eyes on us as we enter. His arm has been around my waist since we let his chambers and it gently guides me to our places. I sit next to him and keep my gaze either on him or downcast, only ever briefly scanning the room. Though his arm no longer holds my waist he still makes certain that he is somehow touching me at all times. I enjoy the feeling of closeness, but I know he is only doing here to stake his claim. The last person to arrive is the Kalif himself. All eyes are now focused on him. He covers up the scar I gave him, not surprising really, when it came from a lowly female. I remain demure beside Adar. The Kalif ignores me and I hope that the other male nobles do the same. Even though Adar wants me to tease them I find I no longer have the stomach.

I barely touch the food that is laid out by sparsely dressed females. I know that most of the males will take it as a sign of my delicate nature, but truthfully I am still worried it will make me sick. I hear the whispers around me and pretend that they don’t affect me. I think Adar senses something wrong and squeezes my hand. I squeeze back and give him a small smile through the veil of my hair. He then slides his hand in and turns me to face him. I see his intent in his eyes and know this is more to cause a scene then anything else. We kiss, but not with the same fire as before. Murmurs surround us and I know the Kalif is paying attention now. I move and settle in Adar’s lap, letting his hands roam over my body. In front of an audience it isn’t the same and I find it hard to react as I had earlier, but then I doubt that would be seen as acceptable. Instead I mew just loud enough to be heard and let their imaginations do the rest, perverted old men that they are.

Adar would be the youngest in the room, the only other one near his age is being fawned on by his companion. I find the scene disgusting. I close my eyes and bury my head in Adar’s neck. I just want this night to be over, but the entertainment is still to come. Naked women dancing and teasing the men around the room, while satisfying themselves with each other, it will become an all out orgy by then end. I am pleasantly proved wrong and instead we are taken outside into the gardens and watch trained animals perform tricks. I have seen similar acts in the streets below, but not to this standard. It makes me a little homesick when I see a monkey dancing to a sitar. The music is similar to something played to me as a child. I hide these thoughts by moving closer to Adar.

The other men only half paying attention to the show, watch us instead and Adar whisks us away as it ends. He puts on a scene for them making them more jealous of him than they already are. I feel his hands on my body and slide between the cloth and my flesh. I hear a few of them grunt with pent up frustrations wishing it was them touching me. The final sound I hear as Adar saves me from the rabble is a servant being accosted by one of them. Her voice crying out in shock mingling with that of a males grunts as he uses her.

My face is wet with tears when we reach his chambers. For all my bravado I still could not stand the sexual tension of the situation. I go to his private garden and all the food I ate tumbles from my mouth as I sob silently. I have failed him and will return to the dank dungeon beneath our feet. I sink to the ground in defeat. So much for all the time I spend trying to leave this life and its decadent horrors, not that life on the street was much nicer. At least I could protect myself there I could fight off an attacker. Here if you even tried you were dead. I feel sorry most for the servant, it was because of me she was attacked.

I feel someone lift my hair and pull it back from my face.
‘Inari?’ I hear him ask. I am ashamed. He has seen my weakness he will no longer need my skills. I look at him with a tear streaked face. He gives me a smile and touches my face with his other hand. I cannot hold his gaze and look at the ground. He lifts my chin and I still will not look at him. He takes me into his arms and holds me silently.

***
Time passes quickly. It has been nearly a year since I was rescued from the dungeons. My days are divided between learning and lovemaking. Only in my darkest moments do I let my other duty enter my thoughts. For the first time I am happy. I can handle the feasts and overt crudeness of the other nobles. I can block their behaviour now. Overall my favourite time of day is any moment I can spend alone with Adar. Our passion for each other has not abated over time I would almost say it has increased. We barely speak anymore seeming to know the others desire.

We lie in bed one morning, entwined in each others arms. He takes my chin as he does when he wishes to talk of serious matters.
‘My uncle has told me I am to marry by summer solstice.’ He tells me. I hear anger in his voice. I know he doesn’t like being forced into anything. ‘He tells me he will choose me a suitable bride.’ I wait for him to tell me what he wants from me.
‘Maybe he hopes you will get rid of me.’ I realise I say it aloud when his eyes bore into mine. ‘I suppose he believed you would have been bored of me by now and returned me to the cell.’ I admit truthfully. He smirks.
‘My uncle hasn’t ever understood me.’ He lays back and looks at the ceiling. I can see he is deep in thought.
‘I want you to finish him.’ He says in a matter-of-fact tone. I have dreaded this day, but have expected it.
‘When?’ I ask. He looks at me.
‘Soon, I suspect he is up to something already.’ I sit up and take hold of my legs. My dream existence has met reality again. My hair covers my face so he cannot see me as I struggle with my emotions.
‘I will need my belongings.’ I state.
‘I will provide everything you need.’ He tells me as his arms wrap around me waist.
‘No,’ I ignore the heat rising in my body. ‘I have specific tools.’ I continue. I look at him. He is bemused by my request. He trails his fingers along my stomach.
‘And what would you have that I cannot provide?’ he asks. I smirk in return.
‘If you have to ask, then I guess you will want to look.’ I stay enigmatic. It will be the only way I can get him to collect them. ‘They are at the Red Sickle Inn, ask to speak with Rajit.’ I leave the bed and go to bathe. I need to clear my mind.

In the water I relive how I attacked the Kalif the first time. An attack of opportunity as he walked in his garden, unfortunately my strike was too shallow and he called out for help. I was trapped in an unfamiliar building and soon caught. I feel rather than hear Adar slip into the water next to me. The water ripples around us.
‘I want you to poison him,’ he tells me. I look at him.
‘The woman’s tool?’ I taunt. I shrug and swim across the pool I guess he has his reason.
‘He goes on a pilgrimage soon and I want you to strike while he is away. I am expected to accompany him so you will come as well.’ He leans against the edge and watches me move through the water.
‘Where is this pilgrimage?’ I ask.
‘To the Shrine of Purity in the City of Stars.’ I shoot him a look and give away one of my secrets. ‘You know the place?’ He asks. I nod.
‘I was born there,’ I admit, I might as well since I reacted so overtly. He swims over to me and caresses my face.
‘Once this is done you will be truly free of your past.’ He takes my mouth hungrily.

I sit in the room hours later pondering my life. Returning to the place I have avoided for most of my adult life. I am so engrossed that I do not hear the guards burst in. I feel them grab me and I am dragged to the Kalif. I doubt that Adar knew this was the Kalif’s intent. The Kalif stares at me with hard eyes and a sardonic smile.
‘Well you have certainly ingrained yourself into my nephew’s life.’ He taunts me. I refuse to react.
‘I have decided what punishment to give you. It is effective immediately.’ I can hear the sneer in his voice. He stands and walks to me, appraising my form and pulls my hair roughly from my face and drags me back and forces me to stare up at him.
‘Exile,’ He laughs at me. ‘But a flogging first.’ I see the sadistic pleasure in his eyes. He thinks this will humiliate me. He is wrong. My time with Adar has made me stronger.
‘Fine,’ I say. ‘May I collect my belongings?’
‘Everything you have belongs to my nephew, which belongs to me. So no.’ He laughs.
‘Well then can we get this over with?’

I stand tied to a pole, a man with whip stands barely a few feet away. The Kalif stands to the side with a retinue of armed guards. The first lash bites into my skin and I bite my lip to avoid crying out. I feel the blood begin to seep down my back. The second and third hits are in quick succession. Soon I am too numb to register how many have hit my back. I know the blood flows down my back and onto my legs. Everything goes black.

I wake and my throat is dry and my lips parched. I feel sand on my flesh. The sun is beginning to burn my flesh. I am weak and can barely move. I drag my body towards a shadow. I need to bet back into the city, to the inn. Get my things and disappear again. I will kill him my way. I am certain of that now. I slowly sit up and feel the pain in my back as I break the scabs that have formed on my back. Blood is seeping again. It will begin to attract carrion if I am not careful. I have to move fast. I can see the city walls I am only a few hours away. The probably expected me to die. I slowly creep towards the city. It takes all my strength not to cry out in agony. I reach the wall as it is getting dark. It will take me a while, but I should be able to get over it a second time.

I stand and look in the mirror. It is nice to be in my clothes again after so long. They cover my present wounds. I am glad I paid in advance now. Rajit was surprised to see me. He assumed I was dead. I am in hiding. I will leave with a caravan at the end of the week and travel to the City of Stars. I repack the final items into my chest and sigh. It has been a hard few days. I only just managed to make the Red Sickle before I collapsed. I sink onto the cot and lie on my stomach. I can feel each of the wounds on my back. The pull and sting at the same time. It will be a long process to heal, and at least I have time.

There is a knock at the door. I ignore it. I need to rest. I hear the door open. I bury my head into the pillow and pull the hood over my head. I feel the hood being removed from my head and my hair pulled to the side.
‘Inari?’ I hear a voice whisper. I know that voice. I turn my head to the side and see Adar. He is standing in my room. ‘What did my uncle do?’ he asks. I slowly stand and drop the heavy cape that covers my body. He stares at the marks on my back.
‘Surprised?’ I ask. ‘I am exiled from the city.’
‘No, he has told me who he has chosen for my wife.’ He states simply.
‘Will you let me do this my way now?’ I ask. He sits on the cot.
‘He out thought me.’ I think Adar is stunned. I am not. The Kalif would not have been a ruler for so long if he didn’t out think his opponents.
‘I will meet you in the City of Stars. You’ll find me at the Shrine. Go along with his plans.’ I pull the cape back over my wounds. I wince a little. He stands and takes my face in his hands. I feel his warm invade my body and am again lost in his eyes. I loose track of time. His lips descend and take mine.

I want this to go on forever, but I know it must stop for at least for now. I pull away.
‘You must get back to the palace. I will see you soon.’ I kiss him back and then usher him from the room. I need to compose myself. Being away from him should give me the chance to focus and get on with the task at hand. I lie back on the bed and try to sleep. I know that the more rest I get now, the faster I heal. I pull the hood over my head again and sink into the blackness. It again gives me comfort rather than confining me. I how long I rest I do not know, but Rajit wakes me the day before the caravan is to leave. My back is feeling better, but no where near fully healed. At least I can move without bringing attention to myself.

The caravan unlike the pilgrimage is travelling straight to the City of Stars. The trip should be easy, but I dread returning to the city. It is not the jewel it once was when the Kalif first annexed his rulership and claimed it for his own. It has been changed from a simple city devoted to the shrine to a den of debauchery. Gambling, prostitution and other self indulgent pursuits have tarnished the once simple city. The shrine itself has been affected as much as the city it protected. It is no longer the refuge it once was and the temple workers are no safer than a person on the street. The worst area is the slave pens, which had been finished as I left. My greatest wish is that killing the Kalif will give it a chance to return to its former glory.

The caravan’s cargo consists of slaves, drugs and other items common in use in the city. I avoid all contact with the other travellers and those whose expedition it is. I had Rajit arrange all my travel, it is better if I am assumed dead at present. The travel is slow and sand is slowly working its way into my wounds. I am glad that I gave them a chance to heal, so the damage will not be so bad. I haven’t spoken a word to anyone since we left.

***

It is during the night that my travel is interrupted. Tribesmen attack the caravan. The guards are drunk and useless. I sit and ignore the carnage and devastation around me. Slaves are using this opportunity to escape and flee they will be dead in a few days without supplies. The tribesmen are after the food supplies and take a few of the women. When they approach me I stand. I do not fight. I pull back my hood and smile.
‘I have nothing you would want.’ I tell them. I see them in the firelight, they are not savages like most claim. They are just more in tune with the canyon land around these parts. I drop the cape and let them see my back. I know they are superstitious and my mark should give me some protection. I hear them hiss when they recognise it.
‘Fated,’ I hear them whisper amongst themselves.
‘I will go willingly.’ I tell them, their leader is surprised. He approaches me and for the first time I can take full stock of them. He doesn’t look much different from any other male in the desert, maybe a little stockier and muscle over fat.
‘Cover up.’ He tells me. ‘Your presence is spooking my men. They cannot believe a fated one would be so badly treated.’ I pull my cape back over my shoulders.
‘Not everyone cares about those things.’ I reply and also cover my head. I pick up my chest and walk amongst their group.

Their camp is most of the night’s travel away. I guess they have been tracking us for a few days before the attack. It is not nomadic like I thought in fact I would not call it a camp, rather a settlement. In the dawn I see the place come to life. People begin their daily routines. I am taken to a hut at the back of the village. The leader enters and beckons me to follow. The hut is dark and smells of incense. In the corner sits what I think to be an elderly woman. She steps out of the shadow and next to me.
‘A fated here?’ she asks, I am surprised by her comment as her eyes are white with blindness.
‘Stay here,’ the leader tells me and leaves. As he goes I finally see his eyes, they have the same tawny quality as Adar. The woman motions me to sit and I do slowly. Carrying the chest has reopened wounds.
‘Greedy men, never care for those touched by fate.’ She pulls my cape away and begins to tend to my wounds. ‘You have met one of us before?’ she asks.
‘I have seen one with eyes similar to the ambush leader.’ I am not surprised I admit this. Those eyes captivate me and make me lose my control. I hear her tsk at the state of my back.
‘You need to rest before you can complete what is required of you.’ I do not understand how she knows, but I feel she would never explain either.

I stay with them for a few weeks. The delay helps me heal, but I am worried I will not make the city before the pilgrimage reaches it. I avoid all eye contact I do not wish to be drawn into any action that will delay me any further. The women taken are treated better than they would be in the City of Stars, so in a way I am grateful that they are here. The old woman watches me daily and constantly murmurs as she walks past me. The day before I decide to leave she approaches me. She hands me a small charm on a string.
‘Death is only the beginning.’ She tells me and then walks off. I am confused, but that is the way with seers. I repack my things I manage to leave the chest behind. It should help me travel faster. I stand at the edge of the village and wait for my guide. The leader of the ambush walks up and smiles at me. He motions me to follow I find travelling easier this time and can keep up. He leads me through another pass and up onto the canyon. I can see the city. It is barely a day’s travel. I am impressed that they have remained hidden for so long.

He pats me on the back and walks away. I know the rest of the journey is mine to make. I look at the horizon and scan for any travellers below. I see the pilgrimage. They are only a day behind me. I have to make the city tonight. I scurry down the slope and towards the city. At least I will not have to conceal my entry here. I reach the road a few hours after dawn and join the procession of travellers trying to gain entry before the Kalif arrives. I am slowed a little, but I pass through the gates without being halted. Unlike the rest of the crowd I know my destination and the fastest route there.

The shrine is just as I remember it, carved into the canyon beyond the city itself. It is still guarded by those chosen from within its ranks. I pull back my hood as I walk towards it. I am not recognised, but they give me entry anyway. All women are allowed to claim refuge here. Not that many ever get the chance. I am home, for all that it means. I remove my shoes as I enter. An action that is noticed by one of the clergy, it marks me as one who received training here. I am approached by one of the order.
‘Welcome back sister.’ I am greeted. I notice that they are almost sickly looking. I guess they have not escaped the taint of the city as much as I had hoped.
‘Is the head sister in residence or has she already gone into seclusion?’ I ask. I fear that I am too late. They walk silently and I follow. I am shown to a door and I knock as they leave. I walk in without being given permission. The sister is kneeling in prayer.
‘How may I help you?’ She asks without looking at me.
‘I am here to kill the Kalif.’ I state. She turns and looks at me.
‘Your fate was never to stay within these walls was it child.’ She stands. ‘If you are after my blessing…’ I shake my head before she finishes.
‘I am just giving you fair warning.’ I tell her and turn to leave.
‘You have it anyway.’ She says as I walk out.

***

I watch as the Kalif and his retinue enter the shrine. I am hidden under the garb of the sacred concubines. It has been a week since I entered the shrine. I find the clothing confining but it gives me the concealment I need. I see Adar for the first time in a few months. He looks bored with the proceedings. He stands separate from the other men, eager to purify themselves in the arms of a concubine, only to walk out of here and commit more acts of debauchery. I am glad it will end soon. I am proud it will be my hand that helps bring about change.

I have arranged with the head sister to have Adar assigned to me. I watch as a number of the retinue are lead off by similarly robed women. I feel sorry for each of the young women who have been chosen, but know that this will be the last time that they will be powerless during the ceremony, like it used to be. I step forward and collect Adar. He doesn’t seem interested in following me until I step on his foot. It seems to break the trance he is under. He follows silently, but I feel something is different about him. I lead him to the cell that has been provided for us. I have butterflies in my stomach, even holding his hand is sending shivers through me. I have missed him so much.

I close and bar the door behind us as is customary. Adar sits on the cot and does not look at him.
‘Sorry,’ he says and stands. ‘I can’t go through with this.’ He steps towards the door. I block his way.
‘At least pretend.’ I say, my voice is muffled by the robes. He sits back down. ‘We could just talk if you would prefer.’ I offer. He looks at me. His shoulders sag and he sits back on the cot. He looks away and out of the window. I take of the headdress, it is so stifling.
‘Adar,’ I say his name softly. He doesn’t move. I sit down next to him and take his hand into mine. It is warm. I want to kiss it and feel it caress my body. I take his chin with my other hand and turn his face towards mine. ‘Adar.’ I repeat. He looks at me in shock. I place my fingers to lips to mark silence.
‘I told you I would meet you here.’ He touches my hair as in disbelief.
‘Your caravan was attacked, there were no survivors.’ He pulls me close and holds me tightly.
‘I am fated remember, the tribesmen would never have hurt me.’ He looks at me and kisses me. I feel all of his grief, longing and joy in this embrace. He strokes my hair and holds me tightly after we break apart.

‘You were taken by tribesmen?’ He asks after a few minutes. I nod.
‘They took care of my wounds and gave me a safe haven until a few days ago.’ I tell him. I look at his eyes and am reminded how similar they are to the tribesmen. I say nothing. He pulls my clothes from my body and looks at the new scars across my back. He kisses them gently and I moan. He caresses my body and I am lost to my longing. His body presses against mine and feel his breath tickle the skin of my throat. I reach behind me and take hold of his hair. I turn and claim his mouth, his eyes show the desire I feel.
‘Adar,’ I whisper thickly running my mouth along his throat. He growls and holds me tighter. ‘Let me see you,’ I beg. He is reluctant to let me go, but as I trail my fingers along his inner leg he acquiesces and I take his shirt from his body in one fluid motion.

My hands run along his body and my lips follow. He growls and takes hold of my hair and pulls my mouth to his own. My hands still caress his body as I get lost again in the kiss.
‘I missed you my love,’ I say when I pull away. I see in his eyes amazement at my words. He kisses me again.
‘Inari, my world fell apart when I thought you were dead.’ He shares with me and I know then he loves me too. I move closer and let our flesh touch, shivers of ecstasy travel through my body and I feel him remove the last of our clothes and take me again. It is more passionate than our first time, with the longing from our separation providing a heightened climax. I lay in his arms for a long time after, enjoying his company in the silence. I absently stroke his body with my fingers and feel him return the act.

‘I will kill him.’ I say and break the mood. He nods.
‘I know. I just wanted to enjoy this for a little longer.’ He admits and I kiss his mouth.
‘After this he will retire to one of the pleasure houses. Go with him, but feign anything to leave his side. It will be done by morning.’ I tell him. He pulls me close and I hold onto him tightly as well. I know this could be the last time we have this opportunity. ‘Meet me here in the morning.’ I tell him. ‘You should begin getting ready to leave, the bell will toll soon.’ He looks at me.
‘I was raised here in my younger years.’ I admit, explaining my knowledge. He touches my face, his eyes search mine and I smile. ‘Yes, this was my first time as well. I was taken from here before what would have been my first ritual.’ He pulls me close again and I enjoy the physical contact. I sigh as he lets go and we dress in silence. I kiss him once more before donning the headdress and open the door.
‘Good luck and I will see you in the morning.’ He whispers and I watch him leave. In the pit of my stomach a ball of fear is forming. I am scared that will be the last I see of him.

***

I strap on the last blade to the inside of my leg. I pull the skirt down and they remain hidden. I wear clothes similar to those of the women in the pleasure houses, except mine covers more of my flesh. I look in the mirror and set the veils in place, they are my only way of not being recognised once I enter the building. I put on my cloak and head out of the cell. My other belongings are packed into a small satchel, so I can make a ready escape if need be. I do not want to implicate Adar in this. My reasons are good enough alone. If I hadn’t been so impulsive last time it would not be an issue.

I stand in the shadows at the side of the main chamber. It is full of smoke, bodies and music. I can smell a mix of sweat, incest and other bodily fluids. It would have normally made my stomach turn, but I am too focused to care. The room is too hazy for anyone to see me clearly and vice versa, although the veil helps me. I begin to make my way around the room pretending to be a serving girl. It was easy to get in, only males need to prove who they are to enter venues like this, although all the owners care about is the money they offer. I make my way around the room trying hard to ignore the moans and grunting of the patrons and those that work here. In the main room usually has the most pliant and eager whores. It is common for multiple couplings at once with any combination of genders.

I head towards the back where the more private rooms are located. In here the patrons have the ability to enjoy any pleasure without having to share or have prying eyes watching their fetishes. I stand near the corridor I am surprised when I need to bolster my courage to enter the first room. I thought I would be able to do this seeing my end goal was so close. I guess in the back of me head I am scared to walk in and see Adar with someone else. Someone brushes past me as I am lost in thought. I look up and see him staring at me. He mumbles an apology and keeps going. He didn’t recognise me. It hurts, but I take it as an omen that I will not be recognised by anyone else either.

I pull a small satchel from my top and slide it into my palm. I have decided to take some of Adar’s original plan on board. I will poison him first and then take advantage of his unconscious form, a guaranteed kill. I knock and enter the first room, kicking myself I didn’t see which door Adar had come from. In here I am confronted with the young man and his lord from the feast. It turns out that the lord is a lady and the young man is finding pleasure with another male companion while she is unconscious amongst the cushions. They play amongst her many rolls of fat. I nod an apology and try not to gag as I walk out.

I decide to listen at the next door before entering I can hear a large party. Multiple male and female voices call out, moan or grunt. I open it slightly and peer in, it is a large party of young people, I cannot make out where some end and others begin. I cannot see any faces I recognise so I close the door as silently as I opened it. I have to admit being surrounded by all this sexual energy is beginning to take its toll. My eyes seek out Adar in the main room, but I cannot see him. I am grateful. I head down the hall and up to some stairs. I should have been thinking clearer the Kalif would have the most private room available. An upstairs room, with guards at the door, as I reach the top of the stairs I am shocked when I just see a corridor. No guards are present at any of the door.

I listen at the doors and am pleased when my renewed patience pays off and I can hear his voice in the last room. I can make out at least 4 distinct male voices and numerous female. I cringe when I hear one of the female voices scream in agony. He is playing with young girls again. I am glad I am older than his usual taste. It probably protected me in the palace. I pour all the mix into the jug and full mugs. I know there is enough to incapacitate half a herd of cows. I knock and the door is opened by one of the Kalif’s guards, his is naked. I guess he is joining in the activities. In the haze I can see at least eight girls just burgeoning on womanhood. One is presently pleasuring the other three males in the room. I see some blood on the floor and on her. Another girl has passed out in the corner.

It takes all my effort not to kill the lot of them, taking advantage of their positions of power. I instead hold up the tray and walk in. I place it onto a table to the side. I see the Kalif is in the centre of the room. He has one of the other girls all to himself. I am glad I have enough cups. I take them and walk around offering them to each of the males. I see the fear in the girls’ eyes and try not to give anything away. The girl in the middle begins to gag and I watch as the men remove their members and let her sink to the floor in a mix of bodily fluids. They skull their beverages and request a second mug.

As I make my second round I feel their hands assaulting my body, trying to grope me. I guess not all of them like the virginal offerings around them. The Kalif takes a second mug and I see him shiver with ecstasy as the girl sucking on him is covered in his semen. He grabs me and fondles my breast. I let him enjoy his final few conscious moments and see his head slump like that of his companions. The girls are shocked. I place my fingers to my lips and whisper them to leave and take the two unconscious girls with them. I hand what I think is the eldest a token that will given them protection in the temple. I see amongst them at least three that are marked like me.

I tie up the men and slit the throat of the Kalif’s companions and wait for him to awaken. I sit in front of him, my face uncovered. I smile at him as he recognises me.
The gag does the job of keeping him silence. His eyes are wide with fear when he sees the bodies of his dead companions. I pull the knife from my inner leg and hold it to his throat.
‘Well this is certainly better than last time,’ I taunt. ‘And to think I never went to kill you in the first place.’ He looks at me confused. I pull the hair back from my face and let him see me clearly for the first time.
‘I only went to collect something you stole,’ I shrug. ‘But when the opportunity presented itself that I could get revenge as well.’ He looks at the knife as I dangle it in front of his face.
‘Familiar?’ I ask. I see the fear in his eyes. I hold in my hand the ceremonial knife of the order. The one used to punish men who have broken the laws of the shrine. I lean in close. ‘It may be close to twenty years since your sin, but for those you hurt it has been to long.’ I pull the gag from his mouth, the drug still having some effect on his body. I smell urine.
‘I am surprised you cannot even tell your own get.’ I snarl at him, running the blade down his face. ‘All I wanted was mother’s necklace, the one you took as a trophy for defying the head sister and raping her.’ His eyes wide with fear as the blade travelled down to his genitals.
‘Don’t worry you’ll be dead when I take them.’ I whisper in his ear in an almost sexual manner. ‘I must take what you took. They are just the trophy for the head sister.’ I let the blade fall to the floor and I grab his neck in my hands and I smile as I watch him struggling to take his final breath. I lean in close and kiss him gently on the lips.
‘Goodbye father,’ I hiss as he eyes bulge in his head and his face turns blue. I wait until his body goes limp beneath me. I take the blade and take what I promised. It will mark him as one who has paid the price for crossing the shrine. Hopefully it should bring some of the others back in line.

***

I stand at the temple entrance and look up at the temple. I presented myself to the head sister last night. My tie to this place is finally severed and I can move on. I carry my belongings and wait for Adar. I think the brutality of my attack will scare him. As all he asked for was the older man’s death. I had made it a ritualistic death. I see him walking towards the temple surrounded by guards. He looks past me.
‘You knew he broke the shrine laws?’ He asks still not looking at me. I stare into the distance.
‘Yes,’ I will not lie. ‘It was because of him that the City of Stars became the sinful place it now is.’ I walk down the steps. ‘I will see you back at the palace.’ He takes my arm.
‘No, you come with me.’ He commands. I look at him. I see pride in his eyes. He is happy with my actions.
‘Please…’ I look at the ground. ‘Not here.’ He takes my other arm and leads me to the gardens beside the temple. I watch the guards stand at the steps of the temple. Marking his presence, but not his intent, as the new Kalif his word is now law.

I stand in the garden waiting for his response.
‘I watched you kill him.’ He tells me. I look up at him. He looks at me like it is the first time all over again.
‘I know who you are.’ He tells me.
‘And I know who you are, tribesman.’ I say back. I walk over and run my fingers down his face. ‘So what will you do?’
‘I have two options.’ His eyes bore into my soul.
‘Which one was first?’ I ask, the same things had occurred to me as well, but I have thought of a third as well. ‘Death, incarceration,’ I pause. ‘Or marriage.’ I ask and gently kiss his lips. He pulls me close and deepens it. He pulls away.
‘I lied there was only ever one option.’ He takes my lips again and I surrender to him.

When I do not feel the blade I open my eyes and look at him. He is smiling at me and his eyes show the same desire I know I feel for him.
‘Marriage,’ I ask quietly.
‘There is no need to rush is there?’ he asks with a large smile. He takes me inside, to the cell we shared just the day before. He closes the door and I feel his hands remove my clothes and gently caress my skin. He pushes me back onto the cot and when there is a knock at the door he yells at them to leave. I guess the Kalif, my father’s death was only the beginning.


Tue May 13, 2008 5:38 pm
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