The Slave Princess...Chapter 8

Although the desert sands stretch far
Beyond the silent, pale horizon,
Their immensity is as nothing
To the new-born damselfly.
For fear and anguish are to her unknown,
Above the desert’s vastness all alone.

- The Canticle of Menkeret.

We are captives; bound and almost blind, Jaano and I, and virtually helpless. Our captors are not unknown to me; they are the minions of Darrakhai. A beastly, half human breed, fit for nothing else it seems, than to do the bidding of their cruel masters; coldly and unquestioningly. They act with habitual brutality and totally without scruple but often they fumble and fail. Their stupidity is their greatest weakness, indeed it is their only weakness but it is a fatal flaw. So there may be some slim chance of us escaping them.

My hands are tied but the hood over my head only serves to annoy me. I can just see through the weave in the rough cloth – enough to tell that we are in a passageway lit by torches. The spacing of the torches matches those in the rest of the House of Heshuzius, although this corridor, off the Lapis Chamber, is unknown to me.

Next to me I feel Jaano’s body; he is walking steadily and breathing hard. To reassure him I whisper his name and immediately a minion slaps my posterior, telling me to shut up. The thing has a gruff, bestial voice and its command is greeted with concurring growls from its companions. I estimate that there are five of them – not a great number and with the aid of my powers I could perhaps defeat them or at least surprise them long enough for us to make an escape. But I will wait. As we are still alive, there is obviously some purpose to our capture. Minions, as a breed, are stupid and lack the motivation to undertake almost anything on their own. Volition is something the Darrakhai have long ago bred out of them. But they are obedient and our abduction surely serves the designs of some master – a Darrakhai master.

My curiosity is aroused and while I admit I do feel some fear, it is superseded by my desire to know why two inoffensive slaves were abducted from the house of Lord Heshusius. We are his property by definition, making this a crime against him rather than merely a deprivation of our liberty. There is an irony for you.

As we walk and stumble, I feel Jaano’s shoulder brush against mine; he is still there beside me and I am comforted. Now we pause and I hear stone grinding upon stone, followed by a cool draft – a door has opened and we soon emerge into the night air. I hear horses and the creak of a cart or wagon. The minions it seems are gathering human cargo, for I soon hear the sobs of a woman before she is sharply reprimanded in snarling, bestial tones. There is silence and I stand still until I feel rough, clawed hands lift me and place my body on wooden planks which move beneath me. We are in a wagon. I feel Jaano’s body next to mine as he settles his ample frame down. I move closer to him once I am able to do so and he instinctively settles back against me. Soon I hear harshly spoken commands and the wagon moves. We follow a smooth cobbled road, so it seems that we are keeping to the confines of the city. The journey is uphill and of rather short duration; I estimate that only half an hour passes before the wagon reaches its unknown destination.

Rough hands now haul us from the wagon and my feet touch cobbles. It seems that we have arrived. We are quickly pushed forward until other hands guide us through a stone door. I have worked my hands free and I carefully run my fingers along the width of the stones. I find that it is considerable. It seems we are in some fine old house. We now descend a steep stone stair for several minutes; the air is musty and I hear the sound of dripping water nearby. We are underground.

At length we pause and I hear a heavy iron gate swing open on rusty hinges. I am pushed forward and my hood is suddenly removed. Although the light is poor the first thing I see is Jaano. Three other slaves are forced into the cage behind me and the door is slammed shut. The minions lock it and I see them quickly depart as though they are aware that they have just committed a series of crimes. Seeing that Jaano is unharmed, I scan the faces of our fellow captives. There are nine of us in total; four men and four women – all young and healthy and one frail old man. I recognize a pair from the House of Elalashaan and after making brief enquiries amongst the others, I discover that all the pairs taken from other houses. The old man is a keeper of books and comes from the office of the Darrakhai state archives. This is most curious, as is the fact that we are all slaves from the upper echelons – musicians, skilled pleasure slaves, dancers and personal servants of the chamber.

None of the slaves have any idea what fate awaits us and the fear they feel is palpable. I advise them all to be calm and quiet while Jaano and I settle down where we can watch the room’s two entrances. One is an arched portal without a door; whence we entered. The other seems to be the entrance to a passageway. Dim light comes from it and I can see the flicker of torches just beyond the threshold. The iron cage we are held in reaches to the ceiling and occupies one corner of this solid stone room – making escape highly unlikely. The room is otherwise damp and featureless.

Hours pass and little is said; the silence is only broken by the distant drip of water. I estimate that the hour of dawn must be close at hand. Jaano suggests that I sleep; I refuse then find that I make the same suggestion to him a few minutes later. He smiles with some irony and puts his arm around me. His smile warms my heart and is as welcome as a lone flower in the desert wastes. Some of the others settle down to sleep but I remain vigilant. There is some great evil here; all my instincts tell me so, but until the time comes when we must confront it, we can do little but wait.

Faintly now, from somewhere in the depths of this subterranean place I hear a sound; it is a scream. My fellow slaves do not hear it and Jaano only notices that I am suddenly tense. The sound rings out again after a while; seemingly louder and this time, several of the slaves notice it. They tremble and stare at the corridor. There is silence until approaching torchlight is seen and a group of minions emerge from the tunnel carrying a heavy, covered form between them. The shape is that of a body but the volume of coarse cloth covering it does not allow me to confirm this. The foul minions carry their burden up the stone stair clumsily and exit; disappearing, I presume, into the early morning gloom.

The slaves huddle closer together but they wisely remain silent. Moments pass and there are further faint screams from beyond the corridor; male screams, indicative of some dire fate. Jaano looks at me and I do my best to reassure him but all we can do is wait and watch. After several minutes the minions return and hurriedly enter the corridor. When they emerge again, they carry another covered form. One of them looks at us and smiles – their faces are profoundly ugly but never uglier than when they grin. This is a cruel, mocking grin; one that says – I know what will befall you.

Once the creatures are gone, Janno draws me close and whispers,

“Whatever fate awaits us Kayla, whatever horrors lie beyond that door, I cannot allow myself to go to my death without telling you that you are the quintessence of beauty, the soul of courage and the epitome of charm. You are a woman like no other that I have ever encountered. I fear our time together is short but if your face is the last thing I see before I die, I go to join the gods a joyous man. Kayla, I love you.”

Again he smiles and it is as the sunrise. I look into his eyes and there the sweet sincerity of his words is reflected.

“Such eloquence and such touching sentiments Jaano. I cannot but pay attention when people tell me that they love me and do it so beautifully.”

“Not people Kayla; it is I that tell you this in earnest.”

“I know it…I know it. I know that your heart speaks true. We have endured much my friend, you more so than I. The brief moments of love-making that we shared were sweet, nay, they were beautiful.”

He smiles again and I see the autumn mist in his eyes; tranquil, melancholy and mysterious. Tears roll down his cheeks and to his credit; he does nothing to hide them.

“Red blood, salt tears and hot sweat”, as we say in Mentrassanae, “are all a warrior sheds.”

“You have shed all three.” I gently lick the tears from his cheeks and his salt becomes one with mine. Silently I recite the rune,

Salt of my salt, blood of my blood, heart of my heart; this is Jaano, this is my love.

Another trio of minions emerges from the inner rooms and once again, they bear a heavy, recumbent form swathed in coarse cloth. This time though, the leader halts his underlings before us. He turns his unspeakably ugly features and grins. He then abruptly pulls back the shroud with a vicious growl, to reveal a head lolling sickeningly on a broken neck. But it is the horror stricken face of the corpse that strikes me most. It is twisted, bloated and discoloured beyond description. Jaano holds me closer as I stare at it mute with anger. Shudders escape the throats of several of the slaves, causing the lead minion to show his yellow fangs and chuckle obscenely.

The corpse is covered again and hurriedly taken up the stairs. It seems that there is some murderous schedule in place here. Once the minions have departed I fall to my knees and pray. Jaano understands and stands back; talking quietly to the other captives. I invoke Menkeret, Lord of Illuta, my god, and lines from his sacred canticle immediately enter my mind. I recite them silently;

“Thine are the powers of earth, of sea and sky,
Thou art the soul of truth, the universal eye
With which all things behold themselves
In harmony and know themselves divine;
All mysteries, all subtleties are thine.”

I repeat the words again and again, as is my custom, but as I prepare to say the next few lines, my mind’s eye sees a golden spindle of light. Rays of countless colours emanate from it and it shifts and glows with inner fire and life. Slowly, from the heart of that golden spindle, there emerges an otherworldly eye – penetrating, unblinking, dark and all-seeing; the holy Eye of Menkeret. Never before have I had a vision such as this! The beauty and the majesty of it are overwhelming; I am awestruck. A voice speaks to me; it is not my own voice but a voice that is lilting, subtle and serene. It merely repeats the previous words and continues with the lines that follow,

“With thundercloud and tempest, thou art one;
The moon thy sister, thy glorious brother sun,
The enchantments of all-embracing night,
The pure, exultant glories of the light,
All hearts, all minds yearning to be free,
All these are manifest in thee.”

I find myself repeating the words, but, instinctively, I make them refer not to Menkeret but to me.

“Mine are the powers of earth, of sea and sky,
I am the soul of truth, the universal eye
With which all things behold themselves
And know themselves divine;
All mysteries, all subtleties are mine …

Are mine!”

The shape of the spindle shifts again and it spins faster and faster to form a figure; a form of resplendent light and colour. The eye at the centre of the figure’s face looks through me to my very heart and it nods its head in assent. I am humbled.

I open my eyes and stand.

“Criminal of Darrakhai! Slave thief! Show your butcher’s face I say!”

I speak with such strength that I startle Jaano and the other slaves. I repeat what I have said at the top of my voice and Jaano looks at me as though I have taken leave of my sanity. Two grunting minions soon emerge from the inner passageway and hit the cage with the butts of their spears. This only serves to annoy me and I yell wild abuse at them; using words which they scarcely comprehend.

A woman now appears; tall, distinguished, beautiful and dressed in a flowing black gown streaked with iridescent green. Her voluminous hair is as dark as mine and she wears curving black quills on her shoulders. I recognize her immediately; it is Karissha, the Lady Krotallis. I have seen her only once before but her evil reputation is well known to me. I am not surprised that she is at the heart of this crime. I raise my voice again,

“Unspeakable creature, what is the meaning of this? You will have to answer to our masters.”

She glares at me in silence; unable to believe that such language is coming out of the mouth of a slave. Finally, through clenched teeth she hisses,

“Silence! You dare to defy me!”

I bow my head and remain motionless.

“Seize her!” orders Krotallis and the minions fumble with the keys to the door of the cage. Jaano steps forward; ready to confront them. His courage touches my heart; truly this is a man worthy of me and deserving of my love. He grasps my hand and I press his palm reassuringly.

“Let them take me,” I whisper and he relents. He said earlier that I was the soul of courage. Now I must prove it.

The minions swing the iron door open and pull me out roughly; fully expecting me to resist. Instead I grip their arms and try to ignore their offensive odor.

“Into the chamber with her!”

The minions take me down the narrow, torch lined corridor into a spacious room with a roaring fire at the far end. Krotallis follows close behind; her boots tapping confidently on the flagstones. I am led to the centre of the room where a huge table stands. It is covered with books and all manner of instruments, bottles and apothecary’s jars. I glance at the labels on some of the bottles and I find that they all contain poisons. The Lady Krotallis, it seems is experimenting with deadly substances. This is the reason for her need for slaves! I do my best to look unconcerned.

She orders her minions to stand back and I drop my shoulders to seem humble before her.

“Show me your hands slave,” she orders. Her voice is low but retains its menace.

I comply with humility and she steps forward to look at my hands.

“You do not seem to have done much manual labour. From where were you taken?”

“From the House of Heshuzius.”

“And how did you serve there?”

“I was…I am private secretary to Itellysia, Lady Heshuzius.”

I look her in the eye fleetingly and there detect a note of anxiety. Perhaps her minions in their stupidity have exceeded their orders in raiding the house of Lord Heshuzius.

Krotallis now walks around me and finally grasps the turquoise necklace that I still wear.

“A costly bauble. Your service must have pleased Itellysia greatly for her to have awarded you this.”

“Indeed mistress, to serve is my only desire.”

“You call me mistress humbly, yet earlier you were grossly insolent.”

“Mistress, forgive me, but I do not want to share the fate that befell… those others.”

She stares at me coldly; tilting her head to the side.

“You are exquisitely beautiful but your features are not those of Naeuss or Zonovon or Krotonae and you are far too refined to be an islander. Where are you from?”

“Alas mistress, I do not know. I am an orphan. I was cast ashore at Archelon in Naeuss, lashed to a ship’s timber. I was as naked as you see me now. A priest of the order of the Kemenivary found me and brought me up. I served in their chapel before the Darrakhai conquest.”

She seems unconvinced by my claims and continues to stare at me in silence for several long moments. Finally she asks,

“What is your name?”


She does not question me further but walks to the table and returns with an ivory box. Opening it, she removes a thick, disc shaped, silver object on a chain and hands it to me.

“Do you know what this is?”

I look at the object and I am filled with awe. It is an ancient Mentrassan reliquary of exceedingly fine craftsmanship. Wrought of silver and adorned with agates, onyx and carnelians; it is a hallowed object that would have been owned, prized and venerated by many generations of my people since the time of its making. I turn it over and over in my hands, pretending not to take too great an interest in it. The reliquary is engraved with brief texts and although the language is archaic and obscure, I glean that it is sacred to the serpent god Nehebkau, the Bestower of Dignities; a protective deity.

“Well girl? Do you know what this object is?”

“No mistress, but it looks valuable.”

“Obviously,” she sneers, taking the reliquary and placing it back in the ivory box.

Her tone swiftly changes to one of gentle ease and I find this most unsettling.

“Come, Kayla, sit with me here and I will talk to you.”

“Aye mistress.”

She leads me to a huge, fur strewn bed near the fireplace. We sit.

“My, you are most exquisitely beautiful. It must have been hard for you being an orphan and the Kemenivary are such an austere sect. Whatever distant land gave you birth my dear, it must surely be a place of wonders. Do you have no recollection of it?”

“My Lady is most kind. As to my homeland…”


“Sometimes I dream, I dream of soaring cliffs and of turquoise seas, of dark mountain ranges and splendid, shimmering cities on the edge of vast jeweled deserts.”

“Is that all?”

“No, above all this, high above the very sun himself there is….there is an eye, the eye that sees all and knows all, the eye that is subtle and watches eternally. But mistress, I do not care for these dreams, they frighten me. And the voices, the voices relentlessly call me to return but I know not where. I hate my dreams!”

Krotallis stares at me, her eyes wide with fascination. I have obviously pleased her. With a note of condescension she says,

“Hush child, such as we do not fear these things. They are revelations from the gods.”

“Such as we?”

Now she smiles, thinking that we share some common bond. She is grossly mistaken.

“Aye, we are much alike you and I. You must stay with me here Kayla. I would hear more of these dreams of yours and perhaps I may be able to help you interpret them.”

As she says this I feel her gloved hand running down my back. It seems my fatal charms are at work once again. I smile at her and she is pleased. Now she pushes me back onto the luxurious furs; they are so soft and cool that I shiver pleasantly. She meets my mouth with hers and I kiss her tenderly for an instant. She withdraws and gazes deep into my eyes; seeking some acknowledgement. I smile and take her hand. I carefully remove her glove and I place her white hand upon my tanned breasts. She rubs them and tweaks my nipples.

“Ah, if only I possessed true beauty such as this.”

“You do my lady, you do.”

She says nothing but smiles coldly. She turns and I unfasten her shimmering gown. Her body is pale but her breasts are fine and her skin is smooth. She is shapely, after a fashion, and soon my curiosity gets the better of me and I let my hands explore her body. Our mouths meet and I taste her perfumed breath. Fine as the Lady Krotallis is I am ever mindful of her evil ways and that my life, Jaano’s life and the lives of the others may depend upon what I say and do here.
Now I slide her dress further down to reveal a lick of black hair above her pussy. Her legs are long and quite decorous, but white as though she habitually shuns the light of day. Now our eyes meet and I make a great show of licking my hand. My tongue is broad and honed upon many a fine cock; my lips glisten with the ripe juices of my mouth. I slowly paint a line between her breasts, down her body and finally my fingers rest at the entrance to her pussy. I begin to rub it and the Lady Krotallis reciprocates by swaying her hips in time with me. Up and down I press her labia and soon her juices flow, wetting my fingers. I smile.

“You have a fine, sweet pussy my lady. I yearn to taste it.”

“Proceed,” she answers with such formal coldness that I find it disturbing. I can do nothing but smile and slowly work my fingers past the threshold into her silky depths. Once she is wet enough I smear her juices onto her clit and work them in. Circling around it and making her moan at last. I press my fingers into the flesh of her thighs and gently spread her pussy. It is a beautiful thing. I lap at it gently, letting my tongue dip inside to savour the richness there. I would by lying if I said I do not enjoy tasting a woman. After several minutes I apply more pressure with my lips and tongue, slipping one then two fingers into her drenched slit. Krotallis responds by pressing my face closer to her pussy. Soon she is bucking and moaning; her strange eyes aflame with passion. She comes easily and I am glad. In pleasing her I may have bought myself some time. Once the waves of her ecstasy have subsided, she rubs her breasts and settles back on the furs, still breathing hard. I can see from the look upon her face that she is sated.

“Ah Kayla, you know your love craft.”

I smile and bow exaggeratedly but secretly I dread what this woman will do next. I know ...

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