Chapter 1


BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#1
In a Wicked Age, there was a great river, known to those that dwelt along or near to its banks as the Eldest River, for it was indeed very old and its spirit was mighty and powerful. At its widest it measured more than two miles to cross, and so many bends and turns did it have that the birds that looked down upon sometimes called it the great serpent, for such did it resemble a muddy brown and green snake that it wound its way amongst a jungle canopy that dominated the land as though it were alive and on the hunt for prey. The Eldest had its source far in the West, from mountains shaped, so it was said, by the gods and demons alike in their old wars, warped by demon fire and scorched by divine magics, the slopes would tower into the sky, and then hang, like sharp jagged hooks in random directions, like evil blades. As such they were known as the Hooks, and considered a place of chaotic magic, and as they fed the Eldest, so it was believed that the Eldest was itself a direct product of the God Wars, and created at the dawn of the world.

The river's mouth opened up into a wide blue sea in the East, and it was known in the tongues of common men as the Sea of Dreams, or at times the Dreaming Sea, and the tale behind that name is long and complex and not the subject of these current times. All along the coast, both north and south there was jungle and steep rises followed by deep valleys, until finally the forest would die away to reveal high grasslands and fertile floodplains where cities of men and other creatures exist. But within the Jungles no current dwellings can exist save for along the Eldest, for the woods swallow up all paths, and the dark things that live in the eternal shade of the canopies do not allow for commerce or travel over land, nor for civilization to sprout its fertile seed.

And so it is to the Eldest Cities that we turn our attention. The river is long, and life-giving, and along it have been erected the golden domes of the Elastor, as close to the Hooks as any men might dare to live. Further downriver, lies the rain worshiping Goloans, whose shrine city of Goloa spans the river itself at a place where many small islands dot the waters, and bridges span the water ways. Beyond that, getting closer to the river's mouth, are the many diverse tribes, the Bolars, the Casils, the Jobo, and the Zaylti. These tribes may have once been as mighty as the Goloans or the Elastor, were it not for their proximity to the unnamed town only a half day's sailing from the Sea, a squat town with ugly housing and uglier boats that put into its port. It is a town of raiders, of greedy men and some women, who make their living at the expense of the tribes and civilizations upriver. Some are exiles from these tribes. Some are criminals from the places north and south, and some are distant travelers come across the Dreaming Sea, who settle in this place if they are strong of body and quick of wit and blade. The weak in this raider town are not tolerated, either they are killed or more likely, they are enslaved, and forced to serve as menial labor for the town's chieftain - or worse.

Worse still, they could be sent to the bluffs at the Sea's Edge, where beings of unblemished white skin and empty eyes, dressed in dark cloaks wait to take them as slaves within their home. These are servants of Calad-Ul, the Silver and Alabaster Tower that rises from the sea every new moon. It is a place of power and magic, a wicked place. An order of mages dwells there, and their ways are strange, their works varied, and their influence felt from the Domes of the Elastor to the far cities. It is a place of wonder and riches many say, and for those who wield magic, it can be a heaven on earth, so it's emissaries say. All needs for those who seek arcane power can be met within its silvered walls - and many mystical seekers find themselves journeying to dizzying heights.

This is the land where we find ourselves, we who dwell at this time, in this nest of vipers. Two mages, Arwia who seeks to heal, and Rakdos whose blood burns for power, have come to seek the mysteries of Carad-Ul. With them, bound in chains, is Zakiri, one of many prisoners, who shall discover the fate of those who enter its walls as slaves. She has already faced terrible treatment at the hands of the raiders, whose chieftain, Nadia, has put her in this place.

Ah Nadia, queen among pirates, who sits on the wealth of the raiders, she who commands a fleet of ugly boats. But how certain is her rule? There are those who would seek to unseat her and cast her down. Her trusted lieutenant, Halrikk, is missing, and her list of allies dwindles. Where has Halrikk with his mighty bow gone? What misfortune has befallen him?
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#2
Re: Chapter 1

Rakdos and Arwia:

The journey for both mages has been long, and required that they make inquiries uncomfortably close to the squat raiding town along the river's edge, but finally they were able to meet with representatives of Carad-Ul, the tower where they both hope to become full members of its order. The representative they met had purely white skin, often hidden behind dark robes and hood. Her face, for it was a woman as far as they could tell by her voice, was hidden in the cowls of her hood that hung low over her face.

She did not give her name, but said she spoke with the authority of Khanna, a mage of the tower. The way to the tower when it dwelt beneath the waves was a closely guarded secret, and a three day journey filled with peril if they did not have the knowledge of the order to guide them. They followed the servant to the bluffs on a night when the waning moon shone half full, and were met there by more white skinned and cloaked servants, along with a train of miserable looking men and women, naked to the elements save for shoddy sandals and the chains that connected their collars and cuffs to one another.

"The Order has much use for human servants," the female representative told them. "Do not worry yourself with them, if such were your inclination. They are prisoners of the Raiders, sold to us as tribute. They will serve us as slaves within the tower, and if some are assigned to you, you may treat them however you like."

A cave, hidden from view and opened seemingly with magic, revealed a long passage winding downwards into darkness. Down, down it went, and the light of the moon was soon extinguished. Torches were lit for the aid of the mages and prisoners alike, but the servants seemed to move through darkness as though it did not hinder their sight. Eventually, the slope became less steep, yet still it angled ever downward, and the two mages began to tire. The crack of a whip and whimpers from some of the prisoners made it clear that the slaves were also tiring, but were not going to be allowed a rest. The only stop came when either Arwia or Rakdos mentioned they needed a break, in which case the company halted immediately, much to the weeping relief of the miserable chain gang.

This movement went on for hours, and then days. Sleep was hard to come by, for the air was tight and clammy this deep within the earth, and the white servants did not seem to require it, and so were eager to rouse and push the party forward.

Eventually, after three days and a sudden climbing ascent, the company arrived at a small gate in a dark rock wall that would have been impossible to search for had the servants not guided them to it in the vast darkness. Barely taller than an average man, and only as wide as to let two to walk abreast, the gate was unadorned, and made of rock and metal. It too slid open as if by some unknown magic, and with a hiss of released pressure, revealed a dark, but clearly man made passage.

"We will ascend here," the female guide told the two mages, who stopped as the slave train was led on by, further into the darkness. They were at the base of a very narrow stairwell. Just looking at it made their already tired legs ache and protest. "Perhaps you would prefer an easier path?" she enquired, to which they both nodded.

A door opened on the opposite side of the corridor, revealing a small metal grate, attached on either side to two ropes. The three stepped onto the grate and closed the door. At some unseen signal, the ropes went taught and the grate lifted them upwards. Their ascent lasted nearly ten minutes, but by the end they both felt they had risen a great height.

"We are now at the base of Carad-Ul," their guide said. "I will take you to Khanna, who will then take you to see the Master. By making it this far, you have been accepted as greenhorns within the Order, but finding us is only the first step. You shall have to prove yourselves worthy to stay with us. If you do, you shall be rewarded with the power to reach your full potential."

The two mages follow the guide onto a marbled floor so finely wrought and enlayed with patterns of silver veins that it almost distracted them from looking up, to behold the beauty of the spire above. A huge grand stairwell wove into the heights above, and at each floor was a landing and a circular walkway that went around the circumference of the tower, with four doors leading into rooms beyond.

The guide brought them each to the third floor landing, where separate rooms had been prepared, and they were each treated to a perfumed bath, and attended to by beautiful servants who expertly took away the weariness of their journeys with mundane but skilled methods. Then each mage was fed a meal, prepared as though they were a king and queen of many kingdoms, such was its quality. When they were relaxed and fed, and had rested many hours, they were summoned to the sixth floor, where through a grand entrance they came upon a large circular table, whereat sat five figures at one end, and at the end closest to them were two empty seats, which they instinctively took.

On the far left from them sat a man dressed in green robes with shoulders covered in the feathers of many birds. He was tall, well-built, and his eyes were yellow, like a beasts. His hair was a messy tangle, brown, and he had several weeks growth of beard about his face. He stood and introduced himself as Suhail.

On the far right was a woman dressed in a black robe with her hood pushed back to reveal pale skin and dark short hair and heavily shadowed eyes. Her voice was like a whisper echoing in their minds, and she told them her name was Parya.

To her left was a large man, taller and far more muscular than Suhail, who had long blond hair well kept and wore light robes of orange that did not hide his sculpted limbs. His face was handsome, to the point of being absurdly perfect, but there was a cruelty and arrogance in his eyes and smile, and his voice did not show warmth when he called himself Jahangir. At his side, a barbed whip was looped and hung on his belt, as was a large hooked knife.

To Suhail's right was a tall woman, dressed in a revealing white gown, with curled blonde hair and blue eyes. Though her dress showed her as a beautiful woman, her stance showed pride and nobility that hovered about her like a shield. She was crowned in a silver circlet bejeweled with a clear opal, which matched the stones set into her elaborate belt. When she spoke, her voice was unmistakably the exact same voice as that of their guide, and she identified herself as Khanna.

In the middle, sitting in the place of unrivaled authority was a calm, smiling man with a young face, but bedecked by white hair, neatly cropped, and a finely trimmed beard that did not fall very low beneath his chin. His eyes were gray and knowledgeable. His clothes were a silver tunic and robe, with a black belt and several rings set with rare gemstones.

"I am Shamash-Andulli, Keeper of Carad-Ul, and Master of this place," he said. "I welcome you into my home, and I congratulate you both on completing your journeys, no doubt exhausting and full of their own trials. I can assure each of you, that you have made an excellent start in seeking your knowledge within my walls, and if you stay with us, you shall lack for nothing in your pursuit of the arcane. This place is open to you both, with the exception of the ninth and tenth floors, which are my own private quarters, and I would ask you to respect the privacy allowed to the other members of this order, who have their own dwellings both here in the tower and below the foundation. Now, I ask the pleasure of your names, and knowledge of how I, or we, may help you find what you are seeking?"

He spread his hands in an encouraging gesture for either Rakdos or Arwia to begin speaking. Around the table, slaves both male and female dressed in flowing and revealing decor pour wine and water for each seated individual.

Zakiri

The haze of days had begun to run together since the night of the raid. Her party had been caught unawares while meeting with the tribesmen in their shanty town beside the river. The people had long ago become nomadic due to the raids, but even by becoming mobile, the river was the only source of life in these inhospitable jungles, and the dark things did not go near it. That is why they had no choice but to dwell within range of the water, where the ugly boats roamed looking for easy prey. Zakiri had been with the warriors of her party, and had watched in horror as barbed arrows had pierced the sides of those who had sought to protect her. She had run, fast and in a desperate frenzy, deep into the dark foliage, as fast inland she her feet would carry her. But the darkness had been consuming that night, and there were nameless fears the lurked about her - things that crawled and crept, things that groped and tangled and would wrap about her before feeding on her flesh. She had sensed something horrid in front of her, and knew without knowing how, that to go on would be a worse fate than going back. And so she crept back, slowly, keeping low to the earth. One man in the darkness, a raider she thought by his smell and loud bellowing, hurtled past her without notice, until suddenly there was swift movement and the sound of underbrush violently being tossed aside. The man let out a strangled cry that was cut short. Then there was a gnawing sound followed by a squelching, and the smell of meat and blood was steaming in the night air.

Shaking, Zakiri retreated furtively away from that dark space, and wide eyed she crept about in the darkness, staying within view of the water, but low away from the raiders' view. In the burning fires of the small tribes' former dwellings, she saw a man with a large bow arguing with a man hefting an axe dripping with gore. There words were heated and fierce, but too distant for her to hear. She saw women and wounded men being taken away from one ugly boat and being loaded onto another - she recognized the faces of some of her companions.

The man with the bow then struck the man with the axe, hard on the chin with his fist, sending the man stumbling almost to his knees. Like lightning two raiders came from the shadows and locked the bowman's arms behind his back, and his bow fell to the earth.

The axe man had regained his footing, and spat out a wad of blood from his mouth. Then, grinning he turned and delivered a swift, painful strike to the other man's stomach, followed by a two more swift strokes, which doubled him over. With a curt nod to his two cohorts, the axeman left towards the boat with the prisoners on it. The other boat, which Zakiri now presumed was the bowman's, had been set alight. The bowman had begun to crawl away, towards the jungle, directly towards Zakiri. She dare not move.

One of the men then picked up the fallen bow and drew a barbed, dripping arrow from his own quiver. With a mocking laugh, he called out the man's name, "Hey Halrikk!" and then let loose the bolt, which lodged into the man's back with a thud, and he let loose a guttural, primal scream of rage and pain. As he lay there, stuck like a boar, his eyes began to search wildly, until the stopped and rested on Zakiri. There was no doubt that he saw her now, and the girl didn't know what to do.

He began to crawl to her, silently mouthing and reaching out towards her. His visage was half crazed with pain. *Thud* a second bolt appeared in his back as the cruel men followed their quarry.

"Hey, he's found us one last beauty! Well done, Halrikk!" The man turned the bow on Zakiri. "I won't miss from this close, girl. And you don't want to experience the poison poor Halrikk is experience here."

From this close, Zakiri could see in the light of the ever growing blaze the sickly green welt that was spreading from the two punctures in Halrikk's back.

"Course if we had to shoot you, we'd do it in the leg," the raider went on with an evil grin. "Maybe both, for symmetry. A slave girl with no legs won't be good for much save easing a man's tension at night though."

"Aye," said the other, "only the ugly men'd take her though. Fine looking fellows like us get the ones with all their body parts intact."

Zakiri could tell even with the shadows across their faces that these men were by her people's standards repulsive. She realized that she was well and truly caught.

"That's a good girl now. Make sure she gets aboard Nirar's ship with the others. I'll be after you in a moment. I'm just going to spend a few more moments with our friend Halrikk here..."

******

That was how she had been captured, and how she had come to the infamous raider town by the Mouth of the Eldest River. How long she stayed in their pits she could not say, but she fared better than most women. She was good at making herself look dirty and unappealing, and at being just another face in the crowd. It did not save her completely in the end. There were times when she suffered indignity at the hands of her captors, the leader of whom she was shocked to discover was a woman. She could not fathom the depravity she saw, and wondered if ever she would escape it.

As chance would have it, she did not stay long among the raider captors. Less than a week had gone by than she and nineteen other prisoners, ten women and ten men in all, were rounded up and shackled together with chains. Strange men in dark cloaks with milky white skin flashing beneath the folds of their cloths came to take them. They appeared to her like reapers of death, ferrymen come to take them to a new hell, and she was not far wrong. They made the prisoners board a longboat, along with two other normal skinned humans, one man and one woman, who appeared to be foreigners of some sort and were unchained. They traveled down the river to its mouth, where they disembarked and traveled a short hike to the bluffs south of the river facing the sea. A hidden cave was revealed, and the party descended into a three day journey within the bowls of the earth. The pace set by the white skinned taskmasters was relentless, and they used whips on Zakiri and her fellow captives if any began to lag. They rested only when the two foreigners showed signs of fatigue, or at times apparently scheduled for sleep - which came troubled and uneasy.

Their journey ended after a sudden, quick ascent in the dark led them to another hidden door, which slid open to reveal a narrow passage in the earth, clearly man made by virtue of its right angles. Here they were quickly separated from the foreigners and led down the torch lit hallway to an ascending ramp that wound upwards like a large corkscrew for a short way. At the ramp's end, an archway revealed a deep, cavernous room where it seemed a thousand cages were lined up at different levels like books on shelves. Many of them contained human occupants. At the bottom of the chamber, many male slaves were chained to rocks and hacking away with picks into the earth, ever downwards, with the white skinned guardians standing watch over them, their hoods thrown back to reveal that they were more like living statues with deep black pools in place of eyes.

Zakiri's line of prisoners was shuffled up steps and placed in front of a row of unoccupied cages, where they were detached from their lines and put into individual cages and locked inside. An hour went by, then another, and then a towering man, well-muscled and impossibly handsome, with flowing blond hair and orange robes strode down among them, fingering a cruelly barbed whip by his belt. He walked slowly in front of them, inspecting each cage's occupant. Zakiri felt cold indignation as his eyes lingered on her body. At length he spoke.

"I am Jahangir, your new master," he said loudly over the sounds of picks hammering upon the deep earth behind and below him. His voice was rich and deep. "You now live to serve me and the other masters and mistresses who reside here. You do not have rights, save those that I give you. You will work and oblige us, and for that you will continue to live. Serve well, and you may be allowed privileges, such as better accommodations and more palatable daily tasks. Serve with hesitation, or attempt to cross your masters, and you will beg for death, if we are feeling merciful."

Looking them over once more, he ordered the men to work in the pits, and took two women, a warrior woman named Baherah, and a young woman named Virah who had been captured in the same raid as Zakiri. The two followed him mutely up the ramps and stairways lining the chamber, up and up until they were out of sight.

"You won't see them again," came the voice of a man in a cage one level above Zakiri. "It's the same every time a new batch comes in. He takes two girls for his own purposes, before the other masters and mistresses come to have a look. He takes them to his private chambers. Horrible things they say he does to them. Unnatural things. You want my advice? Make yourself look like a good catch for the other masters. You'll only get one shot to impress them. They'll take you above, where the air is cleaner. I've seen it once, when they required heavy lifting in the levels above. Slaves they take with them up there live well... not like this hell." The man coughed and spat phlegm, then looked apologetically at Zakiri.

Halrikk

Halrikk became aware of the darkness that had consumed him. He felt and saw nothing, but at least now he perceived that he was senseless, and that was a change. Had he been dead?

Time passed, and he fell out of thought and reason swiftly into nothing.

He regained thought again. How long had he been this way? Caught in this darkness and limbo? He felt a coolness against heat, a dampness that washed over his subconscious and awoke it. Pain, he remembered, and like a jolt his eyes opened. Blurred light pierced him like a heated lance, and quickly he clamped them shut again. He was conscious now, and the feeling of his nerves came to him again. He regretted his rousing in an instant, for he was locked rigid with an agony that spread from his back and throughout his body. His very blood he felt was on fire and his head pounded from within, as though it were a newborn crocodile trying to tear itself free of its shell.

The dampness returned, and realized that it was a cloth, soaked in cool water being placed upon his brow. It was small comfort, but the cloth eased the terrible heat that he felt. He found that he was moaning, wincing from the pain.

"Rest now," came a voice from the darkness. "The worst is behind you. Rest. You will need all your strength."

Again, the darkness took him, and when once more he awoke, he felt as if an age had passed. He attempted to open his eyes, but the light was still painful and he kept his eyelids shut. There was coolness around him now, and though pain was still with him, he felt much better. His body and muscles felt heavy, as if moving them even a little would require great effort of will. Again a voice spoke. It was soothing and feminine.

"You are a strong man," the voice said. "Many of your kind would have succumbed to the poison within an hour, or simply bled out."

There was a movement and sound, that of water rippling and parting, and suddenly Halrikk understood that he was lying submerged up to his head in water. He felt straps wound about his wrists, ankles, and chest. He opened his eyes only a fraction, so that he might see through the blurred distortion of his own lashes, and tilted his head to one side, in the direction of the voice.

"Ah ah," the voice chimed, "you're not ready to move yet. Strong as you are, you are not past death's embrace just yet. Keep your eyes shut and your head steady. You need rest."

He felt a smooth hand, wet and cold to the touch, be placed on his chest. It rubbed in soft, small circles, as a mother might do for a sickly child. Then the hand moved to his lips, pulling the lower lip down to gently open the warrior's mouth. He felt a warm liquid splash on his tongue. Warm and sweet, yet thick like a cream. It kept its warmth as it slid down his gullet, and he felt a haziness begin too overtake him. The coolness began to fade, and his body seemed to relax.

"Sleep, my pet," the voice sang soothingly. "Sleep once more. I shall be with you when you wake."

Another sleep. More darkness. Then, true to her word, the voice was humming a sweet yet alien tune when next Halrikk summoned himself from his repose. His eyes opened reflexivly, and this time, though any light still caused him to squint, the pain was not so bad, and he kept them open now so that he might adjust to the brightness of the fire, for it was fire that lit his surroundings. The familiar red and orange flickering, it's heat and it's crackle, there was no mistaking it with the light of the sun. He felt that his skull had stopped pounding, and had receded to a dull headache. His back was still tender, but his limbs no longer felt like dead weights, and he found with some experimentation, that he could move and flex them again, beneath the rippling reflection of the pool's surface.

For the first time, he realized, he perceived the scent of heavy musk in the air, and incense, in the form of visible smoke could be made out, rising from bowls hung above the firepits, which he now made out to be on his left and right, and also behind him. He was indoors, for he saw a stone roof above his head, and it must be a large chamber, for he saw no walls from his lowered position, and instead only square pillars seemed to support the ceiling above. Vines seemed to be strewn all about on the floor and falling halfway into the pool, which he saw was circular, with roughly a 15 foot diamter, and fed by a pouring trough on the far side, roughly two feet in width.

Bathing by the trough, was a woman, and the source of the enchanting tone that had woken him. She was waist deep in the water, and cooing softly with her bare back facing him. Her skin was a curious green hue, and in places such as the top of her shoulders and down her arms it shimmered in the torchlight, yet how it could do so, Halrikk did not know. Her arms themselves appeared to be heavily tattooed, with many rings and bands making their way down her biceps, past her elbow, and to her wrists. Her hair was a lustrous cerulean blue, and jungle ivy was wound about it in an attractive braid. He could not yet see her face, but noticed that she did not appear to be wearing any clothing.

Dimly he began to recall the events that had led him to this strange place. There had been a raid, and an unexpected meeting with a brash young captain, the psychotic Nirar of the Bloody Barge. Halrikk's men had been set upon by their own kind in the night, clubbed and butchered before they knew what was happening. Every man loyal to Halrikk had been murdered, and Nirar had ordered him to be put to death with his own bow. He remembered fully now. Poisoned barbs, two of them, had been put in his back. And he remembered that face, the blonde girl. He had thought in his madness she had been a goddess come to take him to his place in the hereafter, but she had just been a tribal girl. The last thing of beauty he thought he would see. He had all but given up by then, and just as he had lost consciousness, he remembered the crash of the foliage, and a horrible hiss and screech, as if the jungle had opened up it's abyssal maw to swallow him.

"Awake again?" came the voice and he saw that the woman had turned around and was now looking at him. Her face was as alien as her music, but nonetheless hypnotically beautiful. She had tattoos on her face, or at least that is what he thought they must be, so symmetrical were the patterns dropping down from her eyes, on to her neck and then lower towards her breasts, which he suddenly noticed were uncovered and facing him in their perfect glory, green like the rest of her skin, with the nipples a darker green hue, like the jungle canopy itself. He tore his eyes away from them with an effort and then fixated on her own eyes, which glittered golden yellow with black slits. They were the eyes not of a human, but of a snake, and though deep in his mind he knew he should be concerned, something else within him made him feel relaxed, even attracted to this strange, bestial feature.

"It's been almost nine days," she said as she moved closer through the water. "You didn't stir until the fifth day, when I had almost given up." Here she smiled and moved to the side of the pool, where a small bowl filled with a white, cream colored concoction had been resting. "Here. You must still be in pain. This will aid that."

She came close and offered him the bowl.
 
Last edited:

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#3
Re: Chapter 1

((Too many characters in the post, continuing with this one. Ensuing posts will be much shorter, I guarantee.))

Nadia

The captain bowed his head with a smile towards the young woman who sat lounging on a large wooden throne in a hall filled with tapestries, rugs, jugs, cups, bowls, silks, books, coins, and jewels piled up against the walls behind her. Around her, large muscular men with mean looking blades stood talking amongst one another, joking and laughing and clapping each other on the back. The smell of roast boar, slowly marinated in its own juices over the central fire pit of the Long Hall, wafted pleasantly in the girl's direction, as the captain's men hauled in a small chest which they set before her and opened, revealing a nice set of silver plates, and a pair of bejeweled bracelets all set atop a pile of silver coins.

The woman picked up the bracelets and then waved her hand dismissively. The plates were picked up and placed carefully on a pile of similar trinkets while the coins were unceremoniously dumped on the pile of treasure in the corner. Nadia, for that was the woman's name, slipped the bracelets on her forearms and admired them on her skin for a while, deciding that they pleased her, and that the captain had done well in his choice of tribute to please a woman's taste, but wondered what other spoils he had chosen to keep for himself.

She was about to address this, when a horn sounded out from the docks, two short blasts, followed by three long, which heralded the return of the Bloody Barge to port. This was disconcerting news. It had been over two weeks since her first lieutenant Halrikk had left to go raiding up river, and he was long overdue to return, for he confided in her his plans before setting sail, unlike other less loyal captains, like Nirar, who had just come home after leaving port ten days prior.

She had been looking forward to Halrikk's return, and to sharing roast boar with the man and listening to his tales of adventure, and what news he might have overheard in his travels - for the raiders did not go about their business indiscriminately, and had ties with the Goloans and with the trading ports along the sea coast both north and south. From these ports they received information and commerce, basic goods that raiders did not bother to construct or grow for themselves. In return, all trade down and up river was monopolized by the raider captains through private contracts, with competition amongst individual captains keeping prices reasonable. Without these diplomatic relations, Nadia's community of rogues could not survive as it did today.

One day, perhaps, Nadia would have liked to change all that. If she could find a way to grab just a bit more power for herself, maybe she could establish a firmer hold on the shrine city of Goloa, and the trading ports of the Dreaming Sea, and perhaps as far upriver as the golden city of Elastor, at the base of the Hooks themselves.

These dreams would be short lived however if she continued to lose trusted help like Halrikk and let festering wounds like Nirar continue to gain power. He wasn't the only troublemaker who operated in the raider town, but he was an exemplar of her local troubles. A cruel, charismatic man who epitomized the worst elements of the society she ran, and he had too many men loyal to him already to risk open conflict. One day she would have to find a way to reign him in.

As she sat waiting for the despicable captain of the Bloody Barge to enter, she noticed a small scroll suddenly materialize into existence before her, then drop into her lap.

She quickly groped outwards with her hand into the air in front of her, but touched nothing. A faint laughter echoed in her mind.

"Only the shadow-touched may touch a shadow," came a whisper in her mind. "The tower requires another shipment. In four days."

She had become all too familiar with this occasional visit from the Mage of Whispers. She had never seen nor touched this woman, but she was a colleague of Jahangir, and of the tower - with whose alliance Nadia had reached her current pinnacle of power. What treasures and secrets might lie within that fabled place Nadia wondered. Perhaps she too could learn to hide herself from site, or create hulking brutes for soldiers, of call lightning to smite her enemies. That, Nadia realized, was a power that could truly turn the tables on her challengers.

She hid the scroll in her pocket and waited with cool and collected resolve as the man called Nirar, flanked by no less than half his crew entered the Long Hall.

Nirar stepped before her and bowed solemnly, though the men behind him seemed to alternate between grinning jackals and stone faced birds of prey.

"I cannot offer tribute, save for woeful tidings I'm afraid," Nirar began. "We had set sail with intention of making port in Goloa for trade, but we were sidetracked when we saw the burning masts of a ship on the Jobo bend of the Eldest, on the north coast, six days sailing from here. It...I'm afraid, it was Halrikk's boat."

His eyes were down cast, as though he dared not meet Nadia's eyes. He went on. "We made for the shore immediately, to help our fellow men of the river, but what we saw was a complete slaughter. The Jobo had been meeting with another tribe at the time, and had been armed with many bows, for those tribes as you know do not hold love for each other and are suspicious of each other's customs and gods. They were prepared it seemed to fight one another, and so were not easily goaded like dumb fish into netting when Halrikk came upon them. He no doubt gave a good fight against so many, but I think his bravery won out over his discretion, for he did not perhaps retreat when he should have. We came upon the few Jobo survivors of the battle as they were finishing off Halrik's men in the jungle. We slaughtered those we could find, but of our fellow raiders, we saw none that were alive.

"There is some hope," he said, with a sudden look back at his men. Whatever look he might have given them, outside of Nadia's view, those who were grinning swiftly lost their mirth. "We never found Halrikk's body, nor a token of him, such as his bow. He may have escaped, but if he did, it was into the darkness of the jungle, and whatever horrors lie within."

He bowed again. "I am so deeply sorry to have to bring you this sad news. I understand you and he were close friends. He... he will be missed."
 
Nov 11, 2008
257
18
#4
Re: Chapter 1

Halrikk appraised the strangely intoxicating beauty with a wary eye. Even though she had saved his life, he wasn't quite certain she was to be trusted yet. He accepted the proffered bowl with a nod, the motion of which caused his neck and shoulders to briefly flare into agony, and he winced.

"Who...?" His voice was weak, more of a croak really, and his words barely intelligible. He inhaled to try again, resulting in a fit of coughing that left him practically writhing in pain as each spasm felt like his body was trying to tear itself apart.

Gasping, he held up a hand to his rescuer, silently bidding her to stay back while he recovered. Fortunately, he managed to keep most of the strange liquid she'd given him in the bowl, with only a little falling into the water of the pool they shared. Once his coughing subsided, he cautiously took a sip of the mysterious medicine she'd given him.

((Is that long enough? Did I start at the right point? Let me know if there's anything I need to change; can't really say I've ever had first post in an RP before :D))
 

Archer

Lurker
Former Moderator
Nov 24, 2009
1,493
0
#5
Re: Chapter 1

As Nadia listened to Nirar's tale she silently ground her teeth together, she had every right to think that this was all a setup by Nirar. It was no secret that he held no love for her, taking out her most loyal officer was a great blow to her. She tented her hands as he finished his story, "I see, thank you for bringing me this news Nirar. I will arrange for retaliation against those responsible, killing so many of our own brings a harsh penalty. You may leave..." She rubbed her head with a sigh mixed with concern and rage upon his departure, she wished nothing more that to simply lop Nirar's head off and be done with it. "I want a small boat sent up the river to investigate the shipwreck and look for any sign of Halrikk. I want to know -exactly- who to burn for this."

She shifted a bit in her seat trying to calm herself. "Also has there been any other word about these rumors of a new cult growing in power along the river?"
 
Nov 10, 2008
2,282
48
#6
Re: Chapter 1

Staring helplessly while the two women were led away by the unnaturally handsome but cruel man, Zakiri leaned against the bars of the cell she had been thrown into, powerless to do anything to help them. After suffering so many indignities in her weeks of slavery, she could not even find the voice to cry out to them one last time, for fear of punishment. Baherah and Virah, two women of her tribe, two women that she had known all her life, and two women that had consoled her when her attempts to hide from the cruel men in the slave pit had failed her. And when they disappeared from sight, the fact that she was completely and utterly alone, even among so many other unlucky captives of the raiders, hit Zakiri like a hundred-weight stone.

Above her a weak voice croaked out, telling her about the new hell she had been brought to. Despite her despair, or perhaps because of it, Zakiri knows the man's advice is her best bet at, if not a better life, then at least a more tolerable one. If she could be brought above, then she might even find Baherah and Virah again, and the women could look for some means of escape. While she may be just a village girl from a small tribe, Zakiri was by no means stupid or weak-willed.

The man's coughing fit drove the slave-girl from her thoughts as she stepped back away from the falling mucus with a look of disgust. She looked up at him, and nodded her thanks, then began working against her nature, against the thing that had saved her from some of the pain and indignity of the slave pits: her quiet and withdrawn attitude. Looking over her nude body, covered in the grime and sweat of days of forced march following weeks of wallowing in the mud and filth of the slave pit, and sighed, knowing that making herself look more impressive might be harder than it sounded. The girl had never been one for showing off, like some of the harlots she had seen in her brief time at the trading camps, but now she needed that kind of confidence and bravado. A quick glance around the small cell revealed a winding trail of cold water spilling lazily down the rock wall just beyond the bars. Pressing herself against the rusted iron, she stretches her arm out as far as she can to catch a handful of the mostly fresh smelling liquid.

It took Zakiri some time to clean herself using a handful of water at a time. At first, she was self-conscious, nervous of being watched as she rubbed her naked form before the other slaves, but with their minds preoccupied with their own fates and her own need to impress whoever might come down to inspect her quickly overrides her fears. She washed herself as best she could, making sure every part of her body was as clean as possible. Her arms and legs, her face and neck, her breasts and crotch, were all scrubbed as she blushed and kept her eyes on the ground. She even made an attempt at straightening and cleaning her knotted and dirty hair, returning it to the light blonde color it normally was. It didn't matter to her why she might be chosen to be taken out of the mine with it's stale air and back breaking labor, only that she could find some measure of freedom, even while still in chains.
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#7
Re: Chapter 1

Halrikk appraised the strangely intoxicating beauty with a wary eye. Even though she had saved his life, he wasn't quite certain she was to be trusted yet. He accepted the proffered bowl with a nod, the motion of which caused his neck and shoulders to briefly flare into agony, and he winced.

"Who...?" His voice was weak, more of a croak really, and his words barely intelligible. He inhaled to try again, resulting in a fit of coughing that left him practically writhing in pain as each spasm felt like his body was trying to tear itself apart.

Gasping, he held up a hand to his rescuer, silently bidding her to stay back while he recovered. Fortunately, he managed to keep most of the strange liquid she'd given him in the bowl, with only a little falling into the water of the pool they shared. Once his coughing subsided, he cautiously took a sip of the mysterious medicine she'd given him.

((Is that long enough? Did I start at the right point? Let me know if there's anything I need to change; can't really say I've ever had first post in an RP before :D))
The strange woman waited patiently for Halrikk's coughing fit to subside, wading in the water just out of arm's length from him. He could feel her eyes studying him with every motion that he made. Whoever or whatever she was, she seemed intensely focused on him now that he was awake.

After he had regained his composure, he brought the bowl shakingly to his lips, and tipped it back to feel the medicine on his tongue. He had tasted tribal medicine before, and such things were always vile tasting brews that seemed to alleviate the feeling of pain by distracting the patient with nausea. This concoction was nothing like those medicines, and he recalled the taste from his recent bouts of consciousness. The sweet warmness that had fed him in the darkness came back to him as he drank the creamy liquid, and he felt the libation's presence as it filtered into his stomach and then felt his arms and legs prickle with gooseflesh as the warmth seemed to diffuse outward to his limbs. The pain subsided, leaving him in a relaxed, hazy state. He felt a small amount of his former strength returning. The feeling of atrophy left his arms and broad shoulders, and he experimented with his muscles and found that he could flex them well. As he finished off the drink he felt more warmth flood down to his loins, and another familiar sensation took hold of him as his manhood began to harden beneath the water.

A glance at the woman's smiling lips hinted that she might know its effect on him, but if so, she did not make any immediate comment on it, instead simply holding out her arm and taking the finished bowl from him, then setting it at the edge of the pool.

"You want to know who I am," she said, and Halrikk thought he saw a forked, serpentine tongue slip through her human lips and flicker quickly in the torchlight before drawing back inside her. "I am known as Gemeshkirihallet, but that name may give you trouble, even though it is itself a shortening of my true name."

She smiled and came closer still, now face to face with Halrikk, and her hand beneath the surface of the water came into contact with his stomach muscles. Her simple touch was curiously pleasing to him, and the water was clear enough that he knew his current state of arousal was no secret to her.

"Your people appreciate short names, I think. So perhaps, you can call me Kiriha." Her eyes were locked with his, and he felt as though he might not - could not turn away from her hypnotic gaze.

"I wouldn't mind knowing your name, now that you know mine," she said. "I have kept a long vigil over you, wondering what to call you. It may sound strange, but I have had many a one-sided conversation with you while you slept. I don't know if you ever heard me - your mind seemed far away."

Her hand slipped around his midsection and she pulled herself up very close to him, such that they were practically embracing. Up this close, Halrikk noticed that the shimmering patterns he had seen on her shoulders and the 'tattoos' on her face, neck and arms were in fact not tattoos at all, but rather scaled flesh, colored in different hues of green, blue, and black - and on her arms, the bands were like the rings seen on a jungle snake. These he observed as she approached, but his stare returned to her eyes, and occasionally to the ample bosom that was tantalizingly close to him now.

With her other hand, Kiriha brushed back her blue locks behind her pointed, fae-like ears, and watched him with anticipation.
 
Last edited:

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#8
Re: Chapter 1

As Nadia listened to Nirar's tale she silently ground her teeth together, she had every right to think that this was all a setup by Nirar. It was no secret that he held no love for her, taking out her most loyal officer was a great blow to her. She tented her hands as he finished his story, "I see, thank you for bringing me this news Nirar. I will arrange for retaliation against those responsible, killing so many of our own brings a harsh penalty. You may leave..." She rubbed her head with a sigh mixed with concern and rage upon his departure, she wished nothing more that to simply lop Nirar's head off and be done with it. "I want a small boat sent up the river to investigate the shipwreck and look for any sign of Halrikk. I want to know -exactly- who to burn for this."

She shifted a bit in her seat trying to calm herself. "Also has there been any other word about these rumors of a new cult growing in power along the river?"
Nirar and his company left, and sourly Nadia noted that a boar leg was now missing from the spit. Visions of flaying each and every man on the Bloody Barge began to play themselves out in her mind, and it wasn't altogether unpleasant.

A squat, fat man with a hairy bare chest and a bulky green sash holding up his baggy trousers stepped into view in front of Nadia. His name was Omid and he was for all intents and purposes Nadia's steward.

"I shall send our swiftest boats, chieftain. And on them we will have our sharpest eyes. If there is proof of treachery, we shall find it." Omid said this with a certainty that Nadia, in her experience, had begun to doubt. If he felt it was what she wanted to hear, Omid would have told Nadia the sun would rise in the West with the same amount of conviction.

"As for cults, well, with all the demons and dark things that live in our land, there is no shortage of fools who would worship them," Omid continued on with a sagely nodding of his head. "However, our scouting boats have noticed more and more activity on the north banks, and rumors of smoke on the tops of the high ridge, several miles north of the river, have been with us for some months now - but there are few enough of our men willing to wander that far from their boats. The jungle is a place of evil, the river is the only safe place for us. The dark things fear the Eldest, it is known. We should not fear any cult that draws power from them, so long as we keep to our boats and riverbanks."
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#9
Re: Chapter 1

Staring helplessly while the two women were led away by the unnaturally handsome but cruel man, Zakiri leaned against the bars of the cell she had been thrown into, powerless to do anything to help them. After suffering so many indignities in her weeks of slavery, she could not even find the voice to cry out to them one last time, for fear of punishment. Baherah and Virah, two women of her tribe, two women that she had known all her life, and two women that had consoled her when her attempts to hide from the cruel men in the slave pit had failed her. And when they disappeared from sight, the fact that she was completely and utterly alone, even among so many other unlucky captives of the raiders, hit Zakiri like a hundred-weight stone.

Above her a weak voice croaked out, telling her about the new hell she had been brought to. Despite her despair, or perhaps because of it, Zakiri knows the man's advice is her best bet at, if not a better life, then at least a more tolerable one. If she could be brought above, then she might even find Baherah and Virah again, and the women could look for some means of escape. While she may be just a village girl from a small tribe, Zakiri was by no means stupid or weak-willed.

The man's coughing fit drove the slave-girl from her thoughts as she stepped back away from the falling mucus with a look of disgust. She looked up at him, and nodded her thanks, then began working against her nature, against the thing that had saved her from some of the pain and indignity of the slave pits: her quiet and withdrawn attitude. Looking over her nude body, covered in the grime and sweat of days of forced march following weeks of wallowing in the mud and filth of the slave pit, and sighed, knowing that making herself look more impressive might be harder than it sounded. The girl had never been one for showing off, like some of the harlots she had seen in her brief time at the trading camps, but now she needed that kind of confidence and bravado. A quick glance around the small cell revealed a winding trail of cold water spilling lazily down the rock wall just beyond the bars. Pressing herself against the rusted iron, she stretches her arm out as far as she can to catch a handful of the mostly fresh smelling liquid.

It took Zakiri some time to clean herself using a handful of water at a time. At first, she was self-conscious, nervous of being watched as she rubbed her naked form before the other slaves, but with their minds preoccupied with their own fates and her own need to impress whoever might come down to inspect her quickly overrides her fears. She washed herself as best she could, making sure every part of her body was as clean as possible. Her arms and legs, her face and neck, her breasts and crotch, were all scrubbed as she blushed and kept her eyes on the ground. She even made an attempt at straightening and cleaning her knotted and dirty hair, returning it to the light blonde color it normally was. It didn't matter to her why she might be chosen to be taken out of the mine with it's stale air and back breaking labor, only that she could find some measure of freedom, even while still in chains.
The water was cold, but mercifully clean. Most of the muck that had been caked on to her flesh began to muddy and then washdown her body and long legs in brown rivulets. The process was long, as she could only cup a palm full of water at a time, and most of the liquid would spill before she could splash it on herself. But time was one of the few things Zakiri had in abundance. She continued to slosh on water and rub herself. She knew she wouldn't ever get perfectly clean like this, but the effort began to show itself off.

The living statues, would pace by her cell from time to time. At first she had been afraid that they might object to her cleaning herself, but it seemed that what a slave did in their cell, so long as it was not shaking at the wrought iron bars, was ignored by the golems.

By the time she had scrubbed roughly three quarters of her body clean, a bell tolled from above and off to the right from Zakiri's cell, and the laborers were brought back from the pit, depositing their tools on a shelf guarded by the golems, and then led back to their cells. When the final door clanged shut the bell sounded again, and the golems went to the edges of the chamber and stood at intervals, upright and seemingly at attention. Then, all at once, the dark pools in their eyes disappeared, and became white like the rest of their bodies - and none then moved.

Shortly after, as Zakiri was just rinsing away the mud from her ankles. Large men, and some large women as well, clothed in simple robes, began to descend from the ramps above, pushing carts.

"Meal time," the coughing man from before muttered above her. "Twice a day. Tasteless gruel to mark the morning, and hard bread with a dull brown paste to mark the evening. It's the only way to keep track of how many years I've been down here."

The men and women who pushed the carts were human, their skin unblemished, their muscles toned, and their eyes dull and downcast. The men were towering figures, bigger than the golems, nearing seven feet in height, and the women were only on average a few inches below them. There were thirty such giants as far as Zakiri could count, and they milled around each cage, depositing a ball of hardtack bread, a small pot of brownish paste that could have been some sort of mashed up gourd or bean, and another small bowl of water.

Zakiri noted that the slaves, once given their meal, greedily scooped at the paste and drank the water quickly, as though eternally grateful for the small pittance. Then they took to gnawing on the bread, which at first was as tough as granite, and would only soften after the saliva had broken it down a fair bit.

She was given her meal in due course and with little ceremony. Once the feeding time was over, the giants took their carts back up the ramps, and the chamber was filled with the sound of munching, slurping and gnawing slaves.

An hour went by, and then another. Many slaves had begun to curl up in their cages and go to sleep. Zakiri soon found out why a current of water flowed around the cages, as a sudden onrush of the clear water filled the channel to a point where it overflowed and ran along the back of her cage as well as all the others in her row, down a narrow groove, collecting any filth in its way and flushing it down a central drain. The implications mortified the poor girl beyond even her current state of despair.

Then, perhaps a half hour later, a woman dressed in a form fitting white dress appeared unannounced before the slaves in Zakiri's row. Zakiri had been nodding off into a troubled sleep when the woman's presence rocked her upright.

"Some of the men seem strong enough, I suppose," the woman started to say aloud to herself. "And perhaps the new mages would desire some companions of their own..."

She paced back and forth in front of the cages.
 
Nov 11, 2008
257
18
#10
Re: Chapter 1

Halrikk's throat no longer burned; the medicine had helped with that.

"Gemeshkirihallet..." he whispered, pleased that it didn't hurt quite so much to speak. Tentatively, he raised his voice slightly, addressing the...woman in front of him.

"Lady Kiriha," he managed to say before needing to clear his throat. As he did, she came close and wrapped her arm around him. He'd been trying to ignore the hardness between his legs, but her sudden touch brought his attention back to it. He couldn't remember ever needing a woman as badly as he needed this alien beauty, and he almost wrapped his arms around her and thrust into her right then. It was only through a great effort of will on his part that he restrained himself; he would not succumb to his body's petty desires so easily.

Somewhere inside of him, Halrikk knew he should be alarmed by her eyes, but the raider could not find his fear. Instead, he sat, transfixed by the woman's visage, as a rabbit sits transfixed by the dance of the weasel, oblivious to the danger it is in. Or...and the thought made his blood turn to ice, and every muscle in his body became momentarily rigid.

Or as the mouse sits transfixed in the cobra's gaze.

He recovered quickly enough, maybe even before Kiriha had noticed. Well, he reasoned to himself, she saved my life when she could have easily left me for dead or killed me herself. I owe her for that...and, I can think of many worse ways to die.... His eyes had turned back to the snake-like orbs without the man's realizing it.

"Lady Kiriha, I am Halrikk. Thank you for saving my life," he began, before pausing to clear his throat once more. "I would offer you my loyalty, were it not possessed by the last woman to save my life." His voice had become progressively better, and by the end it was almost as strong as it was normally. "Where is this place?" He was pointedly ignoring his painfully erect member, but could not bear to break from her gaze.
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#11
Re: Chapter 1

Halrikk's throat no longer burned; the medicine had helped with that.

"Gemeshkirihallet..." he whispered, pleased that it didn't hurt quite so much to speak. Tentatively, he raised his voice slightly, addressing the...woman in front of him.

"Lady Kiriha," he managed to say before needing to clear his throat. As he did, she came close and wrapped her arm around him. He'd been trying to ignore the hardness between his legs, but her sudden touch brought his attention back to it. He couldn't remember ever needing a woman as badly as he needed this alien beauty, and he almost wrapped his arms around her and thrust into her right then. It was only through a great effort of will on his part that he restrained himself; he would not succumb to his body's petty desires so easily.

Somewhere inside of him, Halrikk knew he should be alarmed by her eyes, but the raider could not find his fear. Instead, he sat, transfixed by the woman's visage, as a rabbit sits transfixed by the dance of the weasel, oblivious to the danger it is in. Or...and the thought made his blood turn to ice, and every muscle in his body became momentarily rigid.

Or as the mouse sits transfixed in the cobra's gaze.

He recovered quickly enough, maybe even before Kiriha had noticed. Well, he reasoned to himself, she saved my life when she could have easily left me for dead or killed me herself. I owe her for that...and, I can think of many worse ways to die.... His eyes had turned back to the snake-like orbs without the man's realizing it.

"Lady Kiriha, I am Halrikk. Thank you for saving my life," he began, before pausing to clear his throat once more. "I would offer you my loyalty, were it not possessed by the last woman to save my life." His voice had become progressively better, and by the end it was almost as strong as it was normally. "Where is this place?" He was pointedly ignoring his painfully erect member, but could not bear to break from her gaze.
He thought perhaps he saw Kiriha's eyes widen just a touch at the mention of his loyalty, and it being bound to another woman, but he could not be sure what conclusion to draw from it.

"Halrikk," his spoken name hung on her lips as if she were savoring it's feel on her tongue. "That is a name I have not heard before. I think I like it."

He could not help but see that she was swaying slightly from side to side, like the dance of the cobra he had imagined not moments before.

"You're welcome, Halrikk, though I haven't saved you quite yet. You're still very much in mortal danger, and were you to leave my home," here she gestured outward, indicating the immediate vicinity, "you would not get far before my... distant kin caught you and made a meal out of you."

The hand on his waist began to move lower, crossing the threshold of his hipbone, and spreading its delicate fingers over the top of his thigh, ever so slowly slithering downwards along the line of his pelvis. Her forearm brushed against his shaft, seemingly innocently, but she made no indication of apology or false modesty, as her gaze ever continued to fasten with his.

"It would sadden me if that happened, Halrikk. I would much rather you lived, after all my efforts," she said. "But I'm afraid there are dreadfully few reasons my kin would accept me keeping a man like you alive... very few indeed. I have an idea, of course..."

And here Kiriha's fingers reached the hilt of Halrikk's throbbing erection, and slowly they wrapped around his shaft, until they constricted into a firm grip around his base. He could feel the blood start to well in his extremity, and then rushing back as her hand began to coax his flesh and move up and down in a fluid motion, all the while she continued to look him in the eye and sway.

"There is a way you can thank me, Halrikk. You might balk at it at first, but, I think, once you get to know me," her grip moved higher along him and her thumb now brushed against the tip of his cock. "You might not find it so bad."

Her mouth was close to him now, for she had leaned forward, and he could feel her breath on his neck. Her eyes finally moved off of his as she demurely went to kiss the nape of his neck, and it felt as though some power she had had over him lessened just enough for him to notice anything besides the look of her eyes and the feel of her touch.

And it was then that he noticed her hips had come above the level of the water, and he saw that in place of woman's legs, her body became that of a great serpent, fully scaled in the blues and greens that decorated her shoulders, arms, and parts of her face and neck. She was a naga, a serpent demoness of legend.
 
Nov 10, 2008
2,282
48
#12
Re: Chapter 1

The water was cold, but mercifully clean. Most of the muck that had been caked on to her flesh began to muddy and then washdown her body and long legs in brown rivulets. The process was long, as she could only cup a palm full of water at a time, and most of the liquid would spill before she could splash it on herself. But time was one of the few things Zakiri had in abundance. She continued to slosh on water and rub herself. She knew she wouldn't ever get perfectly clean like this, but the effort began to show itself off.

The living statues, would pace by her cell from time to time. At first she had been afraid that they might object to her cleaning herself, but it seemed that what a slave did in their cell, so long as it was not shaking at the wrought iron bars, was ignored by the golems.

By the time she had scrubbed roughly three quarters of her body clean, a bell tolled from above and off to the right from Zakiri's cell, and the laborers were brought back from the pit, depositing their tools on a shelf guarded by the golems, and then led back to their cells. When the final door clanged shut the bell sounded again, and the golems went to the edges of the chamber and stood at intervals, upright and seemingly at attention. Then, all at once, the dark pools in their eyes disappeared, and became white like the rest of their bodies - and none then moved.

Shortly after, as Zakiri was just rinsing away the mud from her ankles. Large men, and some large women as well, clothed in simple robes, began to descend from the ramps above, pushing carts.

"Meal time," the coughing man from before muttered above her. "Twice a day. Tasteless gruel to mark the morning, and hard bread with a dull brown paste to mark the evening. It's the only way to keep track of how many years I've been down here."

The men and women who pushed the carts were human, their skin unblemished, their muscles toned, and their eyes dull and downcast. The men were towering figures, bigger than the golems, nearing seven feet in height, and the women were only on average a few inches below them. There were thirty such giants as far as Zakiri could count, and they milled around each cage, depositing a ball of hardtack bread, a small pot of brownish paste that could have been some sort of mashed up gourd or bean, and another small bowl of water.

Zakiri noted that the slaves, once given their meal, greedily scooped at the paste and drank the water quickly, as though eternally grateful for the small pittance. Then they took to gnawing on the bread, which at first was as tough as granite, and would only soften after the saliva had broken it down a fair bit.

She was given her meal in due course and with little ceremony. Once the feeding time was over, the giants took their carts back up the ramps, and the chamber was filled with the sound of munching, slurping and gnawing slaves.

An hour went by, and then another. Many slaves had begun to curl up in their cages and go to sleep. Zakiri soon found out why a current of water flowed around the cages, as a sudden onrush of the clear water filled the channel to a point where it overflowed and ran along the back of her cage as well as all the others in her row, down a narrow groove, collecting any filth in its way and flushing it down a central drain. The implications mortified the poor girl beyond even her current state of despair.

Then, perhaps a half hour later, a woman dressed in a form fitting white dress appeared unannounced before the slaves in Zakiri's row. Zakiri had been nodding off into a troubled sleep when the woman's presence rocked her upright.

"Some of the men seem strong enough, I suppose," the woman started to say aloud to herself. "And perhaps the new mages would desire some companions of their own..."

She paced back and forth in front of the cages.
While the act of cleaning herself in the open had at first made her self conscious, Zakiri soon began to enjoy the sensation of the cool water washing away the filth from her body. As the dirt and grim washed off, her skin loosened up, causing her to instinctively stretch and groan in relief, showing off her body seductively to any who might be watching.

The sudden toll of the bell made Zakiri jump in alarm, unsure of what might be happening in this strange place. She watches the procession of the slaves from the pit to their cells, all of them moving at a practiced gait that belied years of repetition. The appearance of the tall men and women likewise brought about a confused reaction from the girl. "Wh-who are they?" she whispered to the coughing man. "I've never seen anyone like them." She stared at the strange servants, puzzled at the way their honed physiques clashed with their almost listless movements. "Are they the masters?"

When the bowls of food and water are placed before her cell, Zakiri hesitantly picked them up, inspecting the food for a few moments. Her life in the tribe had gotten the girl accustomed to wild fruit and the meat of wild animals, fresh kills brought in by the hunters. The raider's slave pit had seen her introduced to how readily a person can manage to stomach rancid meat and rotten vegetables. Even still, she had doubts as to how edibile the food before her was. Slowly, she began to imitate the slaves around her, trying to sate her hunger as well as possible, before sitting down to rest and drifting off into a fitful sleep.

The voice of the white robed woman brought Zakiri immediately back to her senses. Strong and confident, it was obviously not the voice of a slave. As the woman paced back and forth, Zakiri quickly scrambled to an upright position, trying to work out how she could impress this woman. Still unsure, but desperate to do something, she walks slowly over to the front of the cell, placing her hands on the bars while staring at the woman. The woman spoke of new mages. Did she mean the two foreigners that had traveled with the group of slaves? The woman inspecting the slaves seemed uninterested in the women, but perhaps one of the foreigners was her chance to leave this place. Still hopeful, Zakiri presses herself against the bars of her cage, displaying her body but saying nothing just yet.
 

Archer

Lurker
Former Moderator
Nov 24, 2009
1,493
0
#13
Re: Chapter 1

Nirar and his company left, and sourly Nadia noted that a boar leg was now missing from the spit. Visions of flaying each and every man on the Bloody Barge began to play themselves out in her mind, and it wasn't altogether unpleasant.

A squat, fat man with a hairy bare chest and a bulky green sash holding up his baggy trousers stepped into view in front of Nadia. His name was Omid and he was for all intents and purposes Nadia's steward.

"I shall send our swiftest boats, chieftain. And on them we will have our sharpest eyes. If there is proof of treachery, we shall find it." Omid said this with a certainty that Nadia, in her experience, had begun to doubt. If he felt it was what she wanted to hear, Omid would have told Nadia the sun would rise in the West with the same amount of conviction.

"As for cults, well, with all the demons and dark things that live in our land, there is no shortage of fools who would worship them," Omid continued on with a sagely nodding of his head. "However, our scouting boats have noticed more and more activity on the north banks, and rumors of smoke on the tops of the high ridge, several miles north of the river, have been with us for some months now - but there are few enough of our men willing to wander that far from their boats. The jungle is a place of evil, the river is the only safe place for us. The dark things fear the Eldest, it is known. We should not fear any cult that draws power from them, so long as we keep to our boats and riverbanks."
Nadia drew her sword and began inspecting it, something she did when she was in deep thought. "There is much change coming in the near future, I can feel it. There has been more activity in the south, and more in north, with us in between, and we control the river. We are in a unique position, if things continue on this course what we do may very well decide this entire thing." She sighed and put her sword away. "Thats why it's doubly important we find Halrikk, he is just as good as I am at thinking ahead. You do a fine job keeping me informed on current events though Omid, these are dangerous times though, I'd like a few extra men sent into the village to feel about, see if they can learn anything about these disturbances from the north." She gave Omid a pat on the cheek smiling, Nadia rewarded her followers well, she always made sure that whatever another raider like Nirar was giving his men for a certain task she gave better. While people like Omid weren't exactly high on the ladder of usefulness as long as she kept them blindly devoted or infatuated with her that lowered the chance of them betraying her if it meant a step down in their rewards.
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#14
Re: Chapter 1

While the act of cleaning herself in the open had at first made her self conscious, Zakiri soon began to enjoy the sensation of the cool water washing away the filth from her body. As the dirt and grim washed off, her skin loosened up, causing her to instinctively stretch and groan in relief, showing off her body seductively to any who might be watching.

The sudden toll of the bell made Zakiri jump in alarm, unsure of what might be happening in this strange place. She watches the procession of the slaves from the pit to their cells, all of them moving at a practiced gait that belied years of repetition. The appearance of the tall men and women likewise brought about a confused reaction from the girl. "Wh-who are they?" she whispered to the coughing man. "I've never seen anyone like them." She stared at the strange servants, puzzled at the way their honed physiques clashed with their almost listless movements. "Are they the masters?"

When the bowls of food and water are placed before her cell, Zakiri hesitantly picked them up, inspecting the food for a few moments. Her life in the tribe had gotten the girl accustomed to wild fruit and the meat of wild animals, fresh kills brought in by the hunters. The raider's slave pit had seen her introduced to how readily a person can manage to stomach rancid meat and rotten vegetables. Even still, she had doubts as to how edibile the food before her was. Slowly, she began to imitate the slaves around her, trying to sate her hunger as well as possible, before sitting down to rest and drifting off into a fitful sleep.

The voice of the white robed woman brought Zakiri immediately back to her senses. Strong and confident, it was obviously not the voice of a slave. As the woman paced back and forth, Zakiri quickly scrambled to an upright position, trying to work out how she could impress this woman. Still unsure, but desperate to do something, she walks slowly over to the front of the cell, placing her hands on the bars while staring at the woman. The woman spoke of new mages. Did she mean the two foreigners that had traveled with the group of slaves? The woman inspecting the slaves seemed uninterested in the women, but perhaps one of the foreigners was her chance to leave this place. Still hopeful, Zakiri presses herself against the bars of her cage, displaying her body but saying nothing just yet.
When Zakiri whispered her question to the coughing man in the cage above her, she saw a look of sorrow pass over his eyes, and sensed that there was some great sadness in him tied to these giants.

"They wear the faces of some who have been in these very cages," he said after a pause. "But they have no recognition in their eyes for those who know them. They are as strong and as quick as they are tall, and the slavemaster depends on them when the stone guardians are asleep or unavailable for his purpose."

He pointed to the motionless statues lined against the wall. "They are not always here to look over us. And those giants take their place when they are out. Some are cruel and some are kind, but all are broken to Jahangir's will. He has worked his foul magics on them. That is what he does. He changes us, makes us into whatever form most pleases him. He is a blight upon the world, and if I could have but one wish - it would be to see that monster dead, for he deserves it and more, a thousand times more." The man then fell into a coughing fit and spoke no more about the giants or their master.

The bread was impossibly hard to eat, but the water was clean and the goopy paste was edible, and had a dull taste but was filling. Zakiri found that she was able to finish the whole bowl, and when she had done so, her stomach felt satisfied for the first time in weeks.

Roused from her sleep by the pacing and voice of the white robed woman, Zakiri gathered her courage and decided to make herself as visible as possible. Of all the new slaves, she was easily the most clean, and the only one to have bothered moving closer to the woman's gaze. The men were all too exhausted from their labor to move, and the other women were either fast asleep or too timid to move. It didn't take long for the woman in white to notice Zakiri pressing her body against the bars, and her finely made slippers clacked on the rock as she made her way towards the young slave girl's cage and stopped in front of Zakiri with an appraising look.

"You're a very beautiful girl," the woman said, as though it were a matter of fact rather than a compliment. She pushed her hand through the bars of the cage and took a firm grip on Zakiri's chin, moving it from side to side (if Zakiri was willing to let her) to get a better view of either side of her face. The hand moved down to examine her shoulders, breasts, hips, buttocks, and legs. She then motioned for Zakiri to spin around.

At length she spoke directly to her. "What is your name? Where do you come from? You may speak freely."
 
Nov 10, 2008
2,282
48
#15
Re: Chapter 1

As the woman in white approached, Zakiri's heart began to pound. Even though gaining the strange visitor's attention is what she wanted, having accomplished that goal still made her feel uneasy. That feeling was not lessened at the woman's appraisal of her, nor by the ensuing inspection. The woman's grip, firm and sure, in contrast to her soft hands, caused Zakiri to set her jaw, unconsciously, giving only slight resistance before allowing the woman to turn her face this way and that. Immediately upon feeling the woman's hands on her shoulder, Zakiri had to fight the urge to pull back and cover herself, her hands gripping the bars until her fingers turned white. Embarrassed at the intimate contact, but determined to display herself as more than a simple cowering slave girl, Zakiri stands firm, enduring the the woman's touch as it burshed over her breasts and down past her waist. Despite her discomfort, she still found herself whimpering softly as the soft hands passed over her sensitive areas. As the hands traveled down her body, Zakiri instantly understood that the haughty, cold woman perceived her as little more than an animal, which made her reaction to the touches that much more embarrassing.

The silent order to spin around took Zakiri slightly by surprise, but she assented, her hands stiffly releasing the bars and falling to her sides as she turned. She made the motion slowly, stepping away from the bars enough to hold her arms out slightly away from her hips. When she had completed the turn, she stepped forward again, her face flushed, but her will strong, raising her eyes just enough to look at the woman's beautiful face.

At first, when the woman asked her the questions, Zakiri was too surprised to answer. No one besides other slaves had asked her a question in weeks, unless they were looking to punish her for speaking back. Her mouth opened and closed silently for a moment, before finally she blurted out an answer, determined to impress the woman. "Zakiri!" she said, a bit louder than she meant too. She lowers her face slightly, then continues speaking, lower than before. "I am Zakiri, of the Ara tribe. I come from the jungle, and the river. That is where we live... Lived." She falls silent, unsure what else she should say, then adds a quick, "Mistress," remembering the suffering she had incurred for not adding the correct address when she was first captured.
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#16
Re: Chapter 1

Nadia drew her sword and began inspecting it, something she did when she was in deep thought. "There is much change coming in the near future, I can feel it. There has been more activity in the south, and more in north, with us in between, and we control the river. We are in a unique position, if things continue on this course what we do may very well decide this entire thing." She sighed and put her sword away. "Thats why it's doubly important we find Halrikk, he is just as good as I am at thinking ahead. You do a fine job keeping me informed on current events though Omid, these are dangerous times though, I'd like a few extra men sent into the village to feel about, see if they can learn anything about these disturbances from the north." She gave Omid a pat on the cheek smiling, Nadia rewarded her followers well, she always made sure that whatever another raider like Nirar was giving his men for a certain task she gave better. While people like Omid weren't exactly high on the ladder of usefulness as long as she kept them blindly devoted or infatuated with her that lowered the chance of them betraying her if it meant a step down in their rewards.
Omid smiled widely, obviously pleased to have received praise from Nadia, and quickly agreed to have men assigned to picking up on rumors from both north and south.

Nadia's gifted mind knew that the she was still in a good position. Most of the veteran raider's who had served the old chieftain recognized Nadia as their leader, and believed in her. There was a rumor among those men that she was the incarnation of a warrior queen out of legend, destined for great things. They had all pledged their lives to her, and many she was convinced would be willing to live up to that promise.

Despite their reputation as cutthroats, slavers, and brigands, the folk of the Raider Town looked after their own, and could be fiercely loyal. Every sailor owed loyalty to captain first, shipmates second, and Nadia and the town third. The Captains were the ones who owed loyalty directly to Nadia, and right now many of them she felt were with her - which meant the majority of the town was with her.

Of the Captains, Halrikk was easily the most capable - perhaps the most capable man Nadia had ever met. She had saved his life once, and for that reason over any other he had pledged himself to her. If Nirar were right and he were dead, it would be a terrible blow to Nadia's rule. For Halrikk's men were disciplined and skilled, and they held little love for newcomers like Nirar, who attracted the scum of Nadia's society to them.

There were other concerns with the town, for it was changing. Laborers, both in the form of slaves and non-sailing inhabitants of the town, were growing in population, and the walls and buildings they had erected around the town were spreading, pushing the jungle to the south steadily backwards. The seeds of cultivation were beginning to grow, and soon enough, the town may have grown to a population deserving of a proper name. More and more, simple honest men like Omid would be needed to run day to day business, and the town would become more like the cities upriver - honest and respectable.

It was progress, and it had come under Nadia's rule.

But there are always elements that don't want change or progress, and will fight to tear it down. Nirar and the captains who were falling under his sway were making it clear that this town should remain as it was - a gathering place for men who took what they wanted with force. She knew it wouldn't be long before Nirar made his move. If more of her loyal officers started disappearing as Halrikk had, some captains might join with Nirar and push him up into the position of leadership.

Suddenly, Nadia was roused from her thoughts by the blow of a signal horn, sounding from outside in a westerly direction. It was blaring in frantic intervals, meaning that whoever was using it was calling for attention in all haste. Quickly, Nadia's guards formed about her and awaited her command.
 
Last edited:

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#17
Re: Chapter 1

As the woman in white approached, Zakiri's heart began to pound. Even though gaining the strange visitor's attention is what she wanted, having accomplished that goal still made her feel uneasy. That feeling was not lessened at the woman's appraisal of her, nor by the ensuing inspection. The woman's grip, firm and sure, in contrast to her soft hands, caused Zakiri to set her jaw, unconsciously, giving only slight resistance before allowing the woman to turn her face this way and that. Immediately upon feeling the woman's hands on her shoulder, Zakiri had to fight the urge to pull back and cover herself, her hands gripping the bars until her fingers turned white. Embarrassed at the intimate contact, but determined to display herself as more than a simple cowering slave girl, Zakiri stands firm, enduring the the woman's touch as it burshed over her breasts and down past her waist. Despite her discomfort, she still found herself whimpering softly as the soft hands passed over her sensitive areas. As the hands traveled down her body, Zakiri instantly understood that the haughty, cold woman perceived her as little more than an animal, which made her reaction to the touches that much more embarrassing.

The silent order to spin around took Zakiri slightly by surprise, but she assented, her hands stiffly releasing the bars and falling to her sides as she turned. She made the motion slowly, stepping away from the bars enough to hold her arms out slightly away from her hips. When she had completed the turn, she stepped forward again, her face flushed, but her will strong, raising her eyes just enough to look at the woman's beautiful face.

At first, when the woman asked her the questions, Zakiri was too surprised to answer. No one besides other slaves had asked her a question in weeks, unless they were looking to punish her for speaking back. Her mouth opened and closed silently for a moment, before finally she blurted out an answer, determined to impress the woman. "Zakiri!" she said, a bit louder than she meant too. She lowers her face slightly, then continues speaking, lower than before. "I am Zakiri, of the Ara tribe. I come from the jungle, and the river. That is where we live... Lived." She falls silent, unsure what else she should say, then adds a quick, "Mistress," remembering the suffering she had incurred for not adding the correct address when she was first captured.

The woman's eyes were sharp and crystal blue, and they watched Zakiri like a hawk as she spoke. When Zakiri had said her bit, the woman stood silently, looking at her. At length she drew close to the bars again, her face now inches from Zakiri's.

"Kiss me," the woman said.

The request was as strange as it was sudden. The woman's eyes had been lingering on the more fit males in the cages before Zakiri had made her bid to be noticed, and as they stood there facing one another through the bars, the Mistress' eyes were still open and appraising.

It occurred to Zakiri that the room, though it was filled with hundreds of slaves, was eerily quiet, and the hairs on the back of her neck stood as though she felt the weight of many eyes watching her.
 

Mamono Assault Force

Coon Tamer
Moderator
Jan 1, 2009
19,240
83
#18
Re: Chapter 1

The rain beating against the church's roof, the comforting hum of the many cloaked women in the bleachers, quietly humming their tune said to drive of the evil in one's heart, the feeling it made on one's mind, a magic of it's own, when combined with the sound of rain. After a moment, their hums turned to words of latin, describing in an ancient language, a future of hope, and light. How they, the deviants of their time, were to spread their way, and remove the blight that has spread so profusely through the land.

Adorned in her purple robes, Arwia kneeled before her priestess, the holy mother. And arm resting on her knee, and bowed respectively to the holy woman. The two braids that hung down from her hood dangling just above the ground, only her pink glossed lips could be seen by the decorated woman before her, held in a neutral expression. "Arwia..." the priestess called upon the woman before her. "The land suffers. A silver tower rises from the water, acting as a beacon for the evil spreading through the land. We are not assassins, but I speak for the innocent, when I say that the suffering caused by this tower cannot go on."

Arwia raised her head, clasping her hands in prayer before the priestess, her eyelids opening, to allow her deep blue eyes to look upon her, "I will cleanse the blight, your holiness. This land will know peace, as the prophecy foretold."

"Then you understand. Murder is not our way. It is your task, set upon you, to prevent as much suffering and death as you are able. Go now, Arwia, to the tower. Carry the light in your heart as your guide. Do not sway to temptations of evil. Walk among those afflicted with blight, and endure their suffering. The spreading of the tower's blight must not reach the borders of our lands. Travel to the heart of the evil, and cleanse it. Do whatever you must, to stem the flow of darkness spreading from the wretched tower. You carry our hope, Arwia. Let it keep your spirit afloat, in the darkness."

"Yes," Arwia nodded, bowing deeply to the priestess, "As the goddess wills."

Arwia lifted slowly to her feet. And as she turned about, her sisters lowered their heads in respect, one of them in particular, smiling as she passed, 'come back soon,' the girl mouthed silently, knowing Arwia was looking to her. Blushing, Arwia wished she could have replied to her love, but it was imperative that she be on her way as soon as she could be able. Hope was bleak, the master of the tower, a wretched man who murders to further his power. Without such power, it was Arwia's faith alone, that gave her the strength to believe she could cleanse the land of the blood he spilled.

Stepping out into the rain, her cloak flowed from the intense wind blowing harshly through the air. The very atmosphere itself seemed against her, trying to push her back. She lifted a hand to her hood, keeping it upon her head, hiding her face, as every girl including herself was told to do, as their beauty was that of legend, the beauty of their spirits so great, that even a grotesque, little girl brought into the order, would mature into a beauty without identity to her former self.

Looking about, Arwia lifted her gloved hand to her lips, hooking her index and finger, and whistling loudly through the storm. Holding out a hand, her white mare quickly came speeding from behind, not slowing even as it neared her. Gripping the reins, Arwia made an agile swing around the strong beast's neck, and landed onto the saddle perfectly. "Hiyah!" she shouted, informing her mare to give haste.

A few days of travel, riding through lawless towns, gathering information through each, eventually, those whom she looked for, had actually come to her. Invited to a table with another man who she could not recall, Arwia sat, and spoke with the woman, wary of whether or not she could tell her what she was truly eager to discover, or if this woman had foul intentions for her. But after speaking with her for a time, long enough for the sun to set, revealing a waning moon, Arwia believed she found what she was looking for.

Led through a secret way, which Arwia had thought to investigate last, due to it's dangers, revealed itself to be the way to the tower, just as she suspected. The woman had sensed Arwia's abilities for magic, and under the guise of wishing to join the order, a tale of a girl made outcast due to her magical abilities, Arwia had informed her that she was indeed interested in joining the order. However, she wasn't sure how well she could keep up her act, as the sight of the slaves made her cringe. Uncomfortable collars, miserable expressions of suffering and fear, footwear that would harm their feet. The words of the woman explaining the slaves only made her more devoted to her cause. 'I have to free them.' Arwia convinced herself. 'This is terrible...'

Making their way down the tunnel, Arwia was tormented by the sounds of a whip cracking the chained slaves behind them. The secret cave's light minimal, her eyes relying on the torches to see, the fact that it was may be harder for the slaves to see, with the grime and dirt in their eyes, further tortured her. Whip after whip, Arwia felt herself ready to lose all concentration she had built upon her travels. Faking fatigue, Arwia announced she had to rest. She was ready to cry at the sounds of their suffering, and wanted with great desire to free them at that very moment, to save them in some way from this torment. But it did not end. The passage went on for days, and Arwia did not wish to speak, or become familiar with the white skinned woman, or her cohorts. The nights of sleep were filled with her tears of pity for the slaves. Watching them make their way as they were broke her heart. She tried her best not to gaze at their miserable expressions, or else she might make her pity for them known. However, as they reached the secret tunnel, Arwia's gaze followed the slaves as they left another way. Behind her hood, unseen by the white fleshed girl, she bit her lower lip. Her own fatigue was forgotten, as the sight of their worn bodies could not compare.

Not because she wanted to forget them, Arwia nodded at the offer for an easier path because she was sure that, if she hadn't already, would crack mentally from their torture. Walking with their guide, Arwia gazed upon the decorations, and the spire itself. It was beautiful, and in itself, could not be held accountable for the actions of those within. So, she felt assured that she could appreciate, and smile at structure, happy that she finally did have something to smile about.

Listening to the woman, Arwia was silent. She kept all of her vengeful hate inside of her, wrapped under her neutral expression, eyes hidden behind her cloak. She had no wishes to reach her full potential here. She did not wish to become a master of the art of murder, and suffering. But still, she nodded, acknowledging the woman's words. And after being led to her room, finally parting ways with her, and the man, Arwia took some time to meditate in her bath made by the servant girl.

Thinking quietly, Arwia blinked as the beautiful slave moved in to comfort her. Looking back with a blush, she raised a hand to her, "I'm fine, there's no need for that..." she told her. Knowing that the girl was a slave, Arwia didn't want to take advantage of their hardship herself. However, the girl suddenly looked fearful, and said that if she were to leave upon Arwia's request, then the master would view that as her failing to perform properly. Shocked at what she nearly sentenced the girl to, Arwia fell silent, and allowed the girl to comfort her, and massage her. "... I'm sorry..." Arwia said to the girl quietly, apologizing to her.

Eating a hearty meal, and getting some fine sleep, Arwia met with the man once more. She was surprised, a little, but since they both arrived at a similar time, she partially expected it. Greeting him with a simple word, and gesture, before they were taken to the large room, with several, apparently high ranked figures before them. Arwia felt a sudden urge to do something. With so many important figures, a part of her thought that she could end all of their evil wills. However, though it would be simple, she was not so powerful. Taking a seat, she sat not far from the other man, and made sure to keep her hood over her head.

After the introductions, Arwia looked to Shamash, though her eyes never revealed themselves to him. "My name is Arwia Humusi," she responded to him, "I am here, simply because there is nowhere else for someone such as me to go. For my natural born talents, I was cast from my village. I simply wish to exist." she replied to him.
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#19
Re: Chapter 1

The rain beating against the church's roof, the comforting hum of the many cloaked women in the bleachers, quietly humming their tune said to drive of the evil in one's heart, the feeling it made on one's mind, a magic of it's own, when combined with the sound of rain. After a moment, their hums turned to words of latin, describing in an ancient language, a future of hope, and light. How they, the deviants of their time, were to spread their way, and remove the blight that has spread so profusely through the land.

Adorned in her purple robes, Arwia kneeled before her priestess, the holy mother. And arm resting on her knee, and bowed respectively to the holy woman. The two braids that hung down from her hood dangling just above the ground, only her pink glossed lips could be seen by the decorated woman before her, held in a neutral expression. "Arwia..." the priestess called upon the woman before her. "The land suffers. A silver tower rises from the water, acting as a beacon for the evil spreading through the land. We are not assassins, but I speak for the innocent, when I say that the suffering caused by this tower cannot go on."

Arwia raised her head, clasping her hands in prayer before the priestess, her eyelids opening, to allow her deep blue eyes to look upon her, "I will cleanse the blight, your holiness. This land will know peace, as the prophecy foretold."

"Then you understand. Murder is not our way. It is your task, set upon you, to prevent as much suffering and death as you are able. Go now, Arwia, to the tower. Carry the light in your heart as your guide. Do not sway to temptations of evil. Walk among those afflicted with blight, and endure their suffering. The spreading of the tower's blight must not reach the borders of our lands. Travel to the heart of the evil, and cleanse it. Do whatever you must, to stem the flow of darkness spreading from the wretched tower. You carry our hope, Arwia. Let it keep your spirit afloat, in the darkness."

"Yes," Arwia nodded, bowing deeply to the priestess, "As the goddess wills."

Arwia lifted slowly to her feet. And as she turned about, her sisters lowered their heads in respect, one of them in particular, smiling as she passed, 'come back soon,' the girl mouthed silently, knowing Arwia was looking to her. Blushing, Arwia wished she could have replied to her love, but it was imperative that she be on her way as soon as she could be able. Hope was bleak, the master of the tower, a wretched man who murders to further his power. Without such power, it was Arwia's faith alone, that gave her the strength to believe she could cleanse the land of the blood he spilled.

Stepping out into the rain, her cloak flowed from the intense wind blowing harshly through the air. The very atmosphere itself seemed against her, trying to push her back. She lifted a hand to her hood, keeping it upon her head, hiding her face, as every girl including herself was told to do, as their beauty was that of legend, the beauty of their spirits so great, that even a grotesque, little girl brought into the order, would mature into a beauty without identity to her former self.

Looking about, Arwia lifted her gloved hand to her lips, hooking her index and finger, and whistling loudly through the storm. Holding out a hand, her white mare quickly came speeding from behind, not slowing even as it neared her. Gripping the reins, Arwia made an agile swing around the strong beast's neck, and landed onto the saddle perfectly. "Hiyah!" she shouted, informing her mare to give haste.

A few days of travel, riding through lawless towns, gathering information through each, eventually, those whom she looked for, had actually come to her. Invited to a table with another man who she could not recall, Arwia sat, and spoke with the woman, wary of whether or not she could tell her what she was truly eager to discover, or if this woman had foul intentions for her. But after speaking with her for a time, long enough for the sun to set, revealing a waning moon, Arwia believed she found what she was looking for.

Led through a secret way, which Arwia had thought to investigate last, due to it's dangers, revealed itself to be the way to the tower, just as she suspected. The woman had sensed Arwia's abilities for magic, and under the guise of wishing to join the order, a tale of a girl made outcast due to her magical abilities, Arwia had informed her that she was indeed interested in joining the order. However, she wasn't sure how well she could keep up her act, as the sight of the slaves made her cringe. Uncomfortable collars, miserable expressions of suffering and fear, footwear that would harm their feet. The words of the woman explaining the slaves only made her more devoted to her cause. 'I have to free them.' Arwia convinced herself. 'This is terrible...'

Making their way down the tunnel, Arwia was tormented by the sounds of a whip cracking the chained slaves behind them. The secret cave's light minimal, her eyes relying on the torches to see, the fact that it was may be harder for the slaves to see, with the grime and dirt in their eyes, further tortured her. Whip after whip, Arwia felt herself ready to lose all concentration she had built upon her travels. Faking fatigue, Arwia announced she had to rest. She was ready to cry at the sounds of their suffering, and wanted with great desire to free them at that very moment, to save them in some way from this torment. But it did not end. The passage went on for days, and Arwia did not wish to speak, or become familiar with the white skinned woman, or her cohorts. The nights of sleep were filled with her tears of pity for the slaves. Watching them make their way as they were broke her heart. She tried her best not to gaze at their miserable expressions, or else she might make her pity for them known. However, as they reached the secret tunnel, Arwia's gaze followed the slaves as they left another way. Behind her hood, unseen by the white fleshed girl, she bit her lower lip. Her own fatigue was forgotten, as the sight of their worn bodies could not compare.

Not because she wanted to forget them, Arwia nodded at the offer for an easier path because she was sure that, if she hadn't already, would crack mentally from their torture. Walking with their guide, Arwia gazed upon the decorations, and the spire itself. It was beautiful, and in itself, could not be held accountable for the actions of those within. So, she felt assured that she could appreciate, and smile at structure, happy that she finally did have something to smile about.

Listening to the woman, Arwia was silent. She kept all of her vengeful hate inside of her, wrapped under her neutral expression, eyes hidden behind her cloak. She had no wishes to reach her full potential here. She did not wish to become a master of the art of murder, and suffering. But still, she nodded, acknowledging the woman's words. And after being led to her room, finally parting ways with her, and the man, Arwia took some time to meditate in her bath made by the servant girl.

Thinking quietly, Arwia blinked as the beautiful slave moved in to comfort her. Looking back with a blush, she raised a hand to her, "I'm fine, there's no need for that..." she told her. Knowing that the girl was a slave, Arwia didn't want to take advantage of their hardship herself. However, the girl suddenly looked fearful, and said that if she were to leave upon Arwia's request, then the master would view that as her failing to perform properly. Shocked at what she nearly sentenced the girl to, Arwia fell silent, and allowed the girl to comfort her, and massage her. "... I'm sorry..." Arwia said to the girl quietly, apologizing to her.

Eating a hearty meal, and getting some fine sleep, Arwia met with the man once more. She was surprised, a little, but since they both arrived at a similar time, she partially expected it. Greeting him with a simple word, and gesture, before they were taken to the large room, with several, apparently high ranked figures before them. Arwia felt a sudden urge to do something. With so many important figures, a part of her thought that she could end all of their evil wills. However, though it would be simple, she was not so powerful. Taking a seat, she sat not far from the other man, and made sure to keep her hood over her head.

After the introductions, Arwia looked to Shamash, though her eyes never revealed themselves to him. "My name is Arwia Humusi," she responded to him, "I am here, simply because there is nowhere else for someone such as me to go. For my natural born talents, I was cast from my village. I simply wish to exist." she replied to him.

The slave girl had looked relieved when Arwia relented, and let her massage and knead the ache and strain from the young priestess' muscles. A smile brightened up the slave's face, and she hummed a soothing melody as she worked. At intervals, she would ask Arwia functional questions, such as "Is the pressure pleasing, mistress?" or "Is this painful, mistress?" or "Mistress would prefer the dewfruit or jossamine scents?"

After a decent amount of time, when the slave girl's ministrations had made Arwia feel more comfortable - physically at least - than she had ever felt before, the slave then stepped in front of Arwia's full view from where she lay in the bath. The girl's hair was a pleasant chestnut brown, whose locks curled naturally and fell forward on either side of her face. Her eyes were hazel, and her she held her arms, out by her side, palms facing forward. She was clothed in thin silks that showed off her cleavage, midriff and legs all of which were well shaped and pleasing to look at.

"Does Mistress wish this slave to lie with her?" she had asked. "I am skilled in pleasuring women."


****

Much later, Arwia sat facing the man whom she had been sent to stop at all costs. Her answer made him raise an eyebrow. The Khanna made a 'hmph' sound, and then her blue eyes moved to look at the other new mage, seeming to have lost any interest in Arwia. Jahangir's grin seemed to grow, and Parya frowned, but Suhail's eyes, in contrast to Khanna's, seemed to suddenly gain interest for the priestess.

Shamash brought a hand to his chin and mused, "What a pity, to desire only to exist. I find it rather sad. Perhaps you will find something here to inspire you." Then he, too, turned his attention over to Rakdos, waiting for his answer.
 

Archer

Lurker
Former Moderator
Nov 24, 2009
1,493
0
#20
Re: Chapter 1

Omid smiled widely, obviously pleased to have received praise from Nadia, and quickly agreed to have men assigned to picking up on rumors from both north and south.

Nadia's gifted mind knew that the she was still in a good position. Most of the veteran raider's who had served the old chieftain recognized Nadia as their leader, and believed in her. There was a rumor among those men that she was the incarnation of a warrior queen out of legend, destined for great things. They had all pledged their lives to her, and many she was convinced would be willing to live up to that promise.

Despite their reputation as cutthroats, slavers, and brigands, the folk of the Raider Town looked after their own, and could be fiercely loyal. Every sailor owed loyalty to captain first, shipmates second, and Nadia and the town third. The Captains were the ones who owed loyalty directly to Nadia, and right now many of them she felt were with her - which meant the majority of the town was with her.

Of the Captains, Halrikk was easily the most capable - perhaps the most capable man Nadia had ever met. She had saved his life once, and for that reason over any other he had pledged himself to her. If Nirar were right and he were dead, it would be a terrible blow to Nadia's rule. For Halrikk's men were disciplined and skilled, and they held little love for newcomers like Nirar, who attracted the scum of Nadia's society to them.

There were other concerns with the town, for it was changing. Laborers, both in the form of slaves and non-sailing inhabitants of the town, were growing in population, and the walls and buildings they had erected around the town were spreading, pushing the jungle to the south steadily backwards. The seeds of cultivation were beginning to grow, and soon enough, the town may have grown to a population deserving of a proper name. More and more, simple honest men like Omid would be needed to run day to day business, and the town would become more like the cities upriver - honest and respectable.

It was progress, and it had come under Nadia's rule.

But there are always elements that don't want change or progress, and will fight to tear it down. Nirar and the captains who were falling under his sway were making it clear that this town should remain as it was - a gathering place for men who took what they wanted with force. She knew it wouldn't be long before Nirar made his move. If more of her loyal officers started disappearing as Halrikk had, some captains might join with Nirar and push him up into the position of leadership.

Suddenly, Nadia was roused from her thoughts by the blow of a signal horn, sounding from outside in a westerly direction. It was blaring in frantic intervals, meaning that whoever was using it was calling for attention in all haste. Quickly, Nadia's guards formed about her and awaited her command.

Nadia leapt from her chair quickly, "Rouse all the men! One of those mad tribes could be attacking. Guards follow me, have the rest of the captains spread out their men around the perimeter of the village. I don't want us to be ambushed if this is a feint. I will go ahead to the west side of the village to see what is happening!" Nadia made sure that the people of the village saw her as an active leader, if she sat on her throne and religated all duties to others the people's eyes would wander elsewhere. Whenever there was an attack Nadia was one of the first there to drive it back. She was the first one outside and looking to the west for some kind of indicator of what was happening.