Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I was just your average, ordinary King’s soldier. At 20, I’d been part of the King’s army for a little over 2 years now, and I was good enough that I’d been given command over a small troop of men. I was currently leading them in a mission to find rebel soldiers, and destroy their hiding place.
We had given this village plenty of warning that they had better hand over the rebels, or suffer the consequences, but they hadn’t listened. They gave us no choice but to burn the village to the ground. I’ll admit that I hated this part, but I knew it was necessary.
The villagers were enraged over the destruction of their homes, and took up whatever they could use as weapons against us. My men quickly slaughtered all who got in our way, and took prisoner anyone who surrendered. I looked away from this part as it was a tradition in the King’s army to subdue by whatever means necessary, which meant that a lot of women here were about to be badly abused, but I could do nothing to stop it. If I wanted to rise in the ranks, I couldn’t go against the methods approved by the King himself.
I heard a girl scream, and beg, “No! Please don’t do this!” I tried not to look, but something in her voice caught my attention. I looked over at her face, and saw tears streaming down her cheeks. My soldier was ready to rape her, but she was putting up a fight. I knew she would be branded a rebel for resisting him, and then used miserably for the rest of her short life.
I stared at her face, and felt my heart squeeze painfully. I had to do something, but what? I spurred my horse over to the girl, and pretended to be amused by the struggle.
“Looks like she’s too much for you to handle!” I laughed. “I think I’ll take this one for myself.”
My soldier sighed in disappointment and relief. “Yes Sergeant.”
I grabbed the girl, and hoisted her up on the horse behind me. I held her firmly to prevent her from escaping, and guided my horse towards our field camp. She begged and struggled as hard as she could, and I let her because I had to make this believable.
My men watched me as we rode away, and made suggestive comments about what we would soon be doing. None of them had ever seen me take a woman before, and I bet quite a few thought it was entirely appropriate that my first victim was a young girl. I nearly succumbed to the urge to murder the soldier that had caught her in the first place.
Finally, we were out of the village, and away from prying eyes. I wondered what to do now. If I simply let her go, the chances of her getting caught again were fairly high. I needed to find her someplace safe.
“Calm down,” I ordered her. “I’m not going to hurt you.” This news made her go silent and cease her struggles, and I could tell that she was growing very tired from the unaccustomed activity.
She was quite for about a minute, and then she started to beat on my chest. “You lying bastard! Of course you are going to hurt me! If you were a good and decent man, then you wouldn’t have just left while your men were murdering all the men, and raping or killing all of the women and children… or both!”
“I’m sorry, but I could only save one person,” I answered honestly.
“Then you should have saved my sister! She’s only 4 years old!”
I felt tears sting my eyes, and closed them. I could not look at her. “I’m sorry… I could only save one person, and… to be honest I didn’t plan on saving anyone until I saw you…”
She stopped pounding on my chest, and started to cry on my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around her protectively, and once again wondered what to do now. I guided my horse into a stream so that the water would hide our tracks.
I’d heard rumors of a mountain fortress so strong that not even the King dared send an attack against it. If it truly existed, then there would be no place safer for this girl. I had forfeited my life to save her – I knew I had – but as I looked at her face… I knew I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I needed her to stop crying; otherwise she’d lead the others to us. I stroked her hair with my hand, and hummed comfortingly. She soon quieted.
“I’m Sergeant Onyx Chasm… I mean I was Sergeant… Anyway, what’s your name?”
“Sephira,” she murmured.
“How old are you?” I wondered.
“Twelve,” she answered, her body stiffening slightly as if she expected me to ravish her now.
“Don’t worry; I already promised that I wasn’t going to hurt you,” I reminded her. She relaxed again. I couldn’t blame her for being suspicious though since I was holding her to me in a way that was much more intimate than necessary. I tried to adjust my arms so that she was merely held safely in front of me, but I couldn’t make myself let her go, even a little bit.
For two weeks, we struggled to find the mountain stronghold. My horse ended up breaking two legs four days after we’d run off, and I had to put him down. After that, I’d held her hand as we walked; guiding and protecting her every step of the way.
I carried her on my back when she was too tired to go on, and cradled her against my chest when she was shivering from the cold. Neither one of us had much to eat, just a couple of rabbits that I managed to snare from time to time. Eventually, we were both near death, and I had no choice but to abandon the hope that we would ever find safety. I positioned her under me to protect her from the cold, the wind, and the snow, and then lost consciousness.
The next thing I knew, I was in a room I had never seen before. I felt around the bed carefully, trying not to call attention to myself in case I was a prisoner. My hand brushed against someone’s arm, and I shifted my head to see who was sharing this bed.
“Sephira,” I softly whispered in relief.
“So, you are awake,” a voice stated. I turned to look at an old man sitting next to the bed. “We weren’t certain either of you would make it. By the time we found you, you were nearly dead.”
I brushed Sephira’s hair out of her face. She looked like she was perfectly healthy, except that she was a bit on the thin side. I carefully shifted out of bed.
“I need to leave here,” I informed the old man. “She is not safe so long as I’m here.”
“Everyone is safe here in Haven,” he insisted.
“Then I found the mountain fortress?” I asked hopefully.
“Yes,” he confirmed.
“Even so, I deserted my post… they will come looking for me, and I have no desire to lead them here.” I quickly dressed, grateful that they had been able to wash, dry, and return my clothes to me.
“I see… We will give you enough supplies to make the trip back down the mountain,” the old man promised. He kept his promise, and soon, I was well away from the fortress.
I spent the next 6 years surviving by never staying in one place for long, and killing any King’s soldier I came across. I eventually had an extremely large ransom on my head for my crimes against the Kingdom, but I didn’t care for I knew Sephira was safe. I starting thinking about returning for her, but quickly realized that I could bring nothing but trouble into her life.
Even so, I eventually needed a place to hide out while I healed from a shoulder wound, and I decided that the only place safe enough was the mountain fortress. I approached Haven nervously – thankful that I remembered the way from my departure. Would I recognize Sephira? Would she remember me?
I looked around the fortress in shock. What had once been a fairly bustling community now looked almost abandoned. Where was everyone?
The old man approached me, and he looked utterly full of grief. “I’m sure you are looking for Sephira, but I am afraid that she’s not here. Two years after you left, raiders succeeded in pillaging Haven. They killed many of our warriors, and took most of our women… Sephira included.”
I wanted to go after her that second, but I still needed to heal, so I let the old man tend me as I prepared to go after the girl I had once thrown my life away to save. I healed and trained. I prepared, and then left as soon as I could. I mentally kicked myself for leaving her.
Maybe it would have been better to stay. At the very least, I might have protected her from the raiders, but since the King’s army still pursued me to relentlessly, I’m certain they would have tried to take the fortress. I guess neither choice was safe.
For several months, I had no luck at all in finding any trace of her, but then I heard two idiots bragging in a tavern one night. I wanted to kill them for what I heard, but it was much more important to listen to everything they had to say. I could always kill them later.
“The toughest prisoner I ever had to cart in was a woman, believe it or not. She had been murdering everyone in her path, and should have been killed, but there’s no reward when bringing in a dead body. It took six of us to capture her, and even then we had to be clever about it.”
“You’re pulling my leg!” The second man insisted. “There’s no woman that dangerous! You make it sound like she could out kill the Onyx Chasm himself!”
“I agree; it sounds improbable, but she was unbelievably lethal! She’d learned to fight in the mountain fortress, and was skilled enough to give the raiders that captured her a run for their money. One of them was part of our group when we caught her, and he said that they’d had to tie her to a bed to get any use out of her. Then… she managed to escape her bondage, and slaughtered them all… except him.” I decided to mentally call this first man baldy due to his lack of hair.
Could they really be talking about Sephira? She had no ability to protect herself when I’d left her in Haven. It was the only lead I had, and so I had to make the most of it. I sat pondering what to do.
“He had to have been lying! One girl able to slaughter an entire group of raiders?! Impossible!”
“I honestly don’t know if he was telling the truth or not, but I do know that she took out two whole groups of King’s soldier’s when they tried to take her. That’s why we planned carefully to outsmart Sephira the Murderous Bitch!” Baldy announced.
“Hey, Baldy!” I very unwisely called attention to myself. “How in the hell could a moron like you hope to outwit someone like Sephira?” I had no idea if anything he had just said was the truth. He could have made the whole thing up, but I had to get him angry enough to blurt things without thinking. Hopefully he’d tell me what I want to know.
“I don’t care whether scum like you believes me or not, but I helped bring the Murderous Bitch in! All it took was the six of us leading her into an ambush, and cornering her. Once we overwhelmed her, we were able to haul her off to Hell!”
I rather believed him now, damn!
His drinking companion swore in awe. “You had to bring her to Hell?! That’s only the worst prison ever; reserved for convicts so foul that the King prefers to just throw them in a pit and let them fight for survival. I seriously doubt even your Murderous Bitch is still alive!”
Baldy let this pacify him a bit. He laughed. “As the only woman to ever be thrown into Hell, I’m sure her stay was horrible right up until her death. It’s been six months… I doubt she even survived three!”
I’d had enough. I grabbed Baldy by his shirt collar, and slammed him against the wall. “Assholes like you make me sick! How dare you find pleasure in the thought of a woman suffering such abuse! How would you like to be tied up and raped until you die! I can help you answer that question if you don’t know for sure,” I threatened.
I was suddenly surrounded by men, likely this man’s cohorts. All of them had their weapons pointed at me, and I knew that I would be in for a real fight here in a minute. I kept my grip on Baldy, and planned to use him as a shield and a weapon.
“You look an awful lot like Onyx Chasm,” a man pointed out.
“Yeah, I get that a lot,” I answered non-committally.
“There’s a dizzyingly high price on his head,” another man stated longingly.
Aha… I released Baldy, and held up my hands. “I can see when I’m outmatched.”
I could also see that they knew I was up to something, but couldn’t figure out what. They carefully tied me up, and tossed me in the back of their cart. From there, it was a two week cart ride to the gates of Hell.
I had been a model prisoner, so they let me see my new home. It really was a thick wall surrounding a huge pit. The pit would be very difficult to climb, and then there was the wall. Not to mention the guards. It was also hotter than anything I ever remembered feeling, and guaranteed that the prisoners would be too slick to fight or escape.
I’ll admit it, it looked bleak, but I knew there would be a way to escape. There had to be! But before I could plan my escape, I had to find Sephira.
I was thrown into the pit, and threw open my arms and legs to slow my decent. I waited until the right time, and then rolled into a ball. As a result, I landed safely with no injuries. I looked around curiously, wondering just how many prisoners had managed to survive this place.
I could see tunnels and caves, but before I could explore them, six men came out to great me. Was this everyone? I sincerely hoped not.
“You are in Hell now, and I am the undisputed King here!” The leader of the group declared. “If you want to live, you had best show me the proper respect!”
I rolled my eyes. Even in Hell I couldn’t get away from tyrannical monarchs trying to tell me what to do! I held up my hands in a gesture of submission.
“I’m not going to be here long so don’t worry about me,” I informed them. This caused them all to roar with laughter.
“There’s only one way anybody leaves here, and it’s by dying! Sorry stranger, but you’re here for the rest of your life!” The “King’s” right hand man explained.
“So… is this everybody?” I wondered.
“Mostly…” The King answered. “There’s one or two others that haven’t quite died yet, though it won’t be too much longer… and then there’s the bitch. You may think it a good idea to try to slip it to her, but I warn you now; she’s given us all plenty of scars. The only way we can get her is to gang up on her and corner her in a very small space. Even then… let’s just say it’s not worth the effort.”
I looked around the pit, and knew it would take forever to find her. I took a deep breath, and bellowed, “Sephira! Get your ass out here now!”
I waited calmly as the King and his men laughed raucously again. My eyes scanned the surroundings for any signs of movement. I prayed that she wasn’t one of the ones near death.
Suddenly, I had to decide whether to dodge or catch her as she came flying at me with murderous intent. “Onyx Chasm!” She shouted as she got close enough to knock me off my feet. I braced myself and caught her, but she launched out of my grasp immediately.
“You son of a bitch! How dare you?!” She was doing her best to murder me, and I was surprised that I had to work so hard to keep my life intact.
“How dare I what?” I asked, baffled. I could see that I would get no help from the “King” and his men, who were all busy discussing whether or not I really was Onyx Chasm.
“How dare you go through all that to save my life only to abandon me the first moment you could? Do you have any idea what I’ve been through? Do you even care? Why the hell did you save me all of those years ago?”
“Probably for the same reason you have done whatever you had to in order to stay alive,” I reasoned.
She laughed. Of course, she was still trying to kill me, but it was nice to see her laugh. “I highly doubt that! I’ve stayed alive all these years just so I could kill you!”
“I believe you,” I stated as I dodged another attack. Now, when I say dodge, I really mean block a punch and try to kick her feet out from under her. If she wasn’t going to play nice, neither was I.
We both tried to seriously harm the other for a few quiet minutes as the other prisoners watched. I’m pretty sure they were taking bets on who would win, and I think that they believed my identity by now. I let the fight continue for as long as she wanted because I wanted to see just what she was capable of. Damn! I think she really could kick my ass if I wasn’t careful!
By now, we were both dripping with sweat, and panting from the exertion. I didn’t have much left in me, and knew I either had to win or get her to call it quits soon. I clapped my hands together to catch the blade that appeared suddenly in her hands. A second later, and she’d have stabbed me in the heart!
“Damn it, Sephira! I came here to rescue you! Do you want to get out of here or not?” I demanded.
She scoffed. “How? I’ve tried scaling the pit, it’s just not possible.” She let me pull her close so that I could whisper in her ear. By the Gods! She felt wonderful in my arms!
“See that jagged and pitted area there? I know I could climb that. In the meantime, I could toss you up to that small ledge. I’m sure you could climb up from there,” I informed her as my hands stroked her back.
She dug the nails from one of her hands into my hand that was stroking her, and I got the point to stop. Now wasn’t the time to be thinking about that anyway. Even so, I really wanted to sigh in disappointment.
“Are you sure?” She questioned.
“Yeah, I’m certain. It’ll either work, or we’ll both die.”
“That’s not entirely comforting, but it’s better than nothing,” she muttered.
I pointed to where she’d need to get into position, and then showed her where I’d be standing. She nodded in understanding, and ran off to get to where I pointed. I moved myself into place, and noticed that the “King” and his posse where watching us curiously. I heard them placing bets on how crazy we were and whether we were likely to die painfully or excruciatingly.
As I watched Sephira run at me, I thanked every deity I could think of that she was able to do this, because I really have no idea how I would have gotten her out of here otherwise. Her running morphed into a series of flips, and culminated in her using my hands as a springboard to launch herself up to the ledge high above. She used her momentum to flip to an even higher ledge I hadn’t noticed until now, and then up to the stone wall surrounding the pit. I think even a baby could climb that wall, and knew that she would be fine.
I made myself busy climbing the rough spot I’d pointed out. It was insanely difficult, and almost no one could accomplish it. To be honest, I probably couldn’t either, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I was not going to die before I got a chance to apologize to Sephira for abandoning her.
Dimly, I heard intermittent screaming, and I knew that my woman was terrorizing the guards. I wasn’t sure if I should be proud of her for growing up into such a tough and capable woman, or if I should be angry at myself that she had a need to grow up that way. I decided that it was both. I should be proud of her and angry at myself.
When I finally reached the top of the pit, I looked up to see her watching me. “What took you so long?” She asked as she flung a rope down to help me. I was at the wall now and didn’t need a rope, but I used it anyway to rest my muscles as I finished my climb.
“HEY NOW! WHAT ABOUT US?!” The rest of the convicts shouted once it became apparent that we really were escaping. I stood there thinking this through carefully. They were in here for a reason. Who was I to just let them out?
My mind was made up for me when Sephira shrugged, and tossed down enough rope that they all should be able to climb it. She then took my hand and ran, which told me that she didn’t want to still be here when they reached the top. I could understand that; after all, they had admitted to trying to rape her. I was frankly surprised that she considered helping them at all.
Once we’d run far enough away that we could find a proper place to hide, and maybe wash up a bit and find a bit to eat, we stopped to rest. I watched her examine her dirty but sharply filed nails, and wondered what she was thinking. I really wanted to pull her into my arms again.
“It wasn’t true, you know,” she blurted out.
“What?” I asked.
“I didn’t survive just to kill you. I survived so that I could kill anyone who got in my way as I tried to find you. It is true that I was angry at you for just leaving me like that – you didn’t even say goodbye! – but deep down I knew that you’d brought me to safety and then had done your best to make sure I stayed safe.”
I brushed some hair out of her face so I could watch her expressions, even though she was looking at the ground. I wondered if she would let me hug her now. The way she shook off my hand in her hair made me think that she probably wouldn’t.
“Haven’s warriors taught me to fight, and I soaked it up as much as possible. I wanted to be able to join the rebellion one day… and I hoped that I’d find you leading the rebels to victory against the tyrant…”
“I wasn’t exactly leading the rebels, but I was doing plenty to piss off the King. Not for nothing am I the most wanted criminal in the Kingdom.” I didn’t mean that to sound like I was bragging, but that’s exactly how it sounded.
Sephira laughed. “And I’m the second most wanted! Too bad we can’t take turns turning each other in. We’d be rich in no time!”
I laughed at that, and couldn’t fight the urge to gather her in my arms any longer. I hugged her tightly, and breathed in her scent. She was sweaty, and smelled of blood and death, but I could still smell that unique scent of hers that I’d breathed in for two weeks when we first met.
She punched me. “Not now! We need to find a better hiding place first!”
“Does that mean you’ll let me once we’ve found a spot?” I grinned suggestively.
She smiled mysteriously. “Maybe.”
I knew of a little hidey hole only a couple of hours from here. I’d used it a few times over the years, and it would work perfectly for our needs. I led her to it, and we arrived just as the sun set.
It was a hidden cave, and it had a hole in the roof that let in sunlight during the day, and moonlight at night. Even better, it had a naturally warm pool we could wash up in. The only thing we’d be missing was food, but she solved that problem by catching a pair of fat squirrels on the way.
I stripped down to bathe as she skinned the squirrels and prepared a fire to cook them. I floated blissfully in the pool, and let my whole body relax as she skewered our food, and set it over the fire to cook. Then she took advantage of my close-eyed relaxation to strip and join me in the pool.
I wasn’t going to molest her the moment she was naked – I wasn’t like that – and besides I knew she needed to wash up every bit as much as I’d had to. Instead, I just continued to float. I was aware of her every movement, but I didn’t do anything to damage her fragile trust.
It must have grated on her nerves that there was one man who wasn’t going to try to rape her, because she got more agitated by the minute. “Just do it already! Sitting here waiting for it is nerve wracking!”
“Do what?” I asked.
“I’m clean now, and we still have some time before the food is cooked, so… I thought that you would… you know… Especially since I do owe you for rescuing me… twice…”
“Sephira, it’s true that I would love to bury myself deeply inside you and never leave, but I am not going to do so unless you want me to. I’m certainly not going to do so merely as repayment for getting you out of Hell.” I hadn’t bothered to open my eyes or stop floating. If I looked at her now, I was going to make a liar out of myself.
I think she started pulling her hair in frustration, but I was firmly not looking at her. She inhaled and held her breath. I wondered if she was going to scream, and if so, why?
She heaved a great sigh. “Here’s the thing; never once have I liked… it. Even with my ability to defend myself, I have – rather more frequently than I wanted – found myself tied up and used… I… I… have always thought that you would be the one to show me why my parents liked to do it every chance they got.”
I stood up in the pool, and faced her. I scrutinized her, and found that she was serious – despite being uncomfortable with the prospect. I decided to be extra gentle with her so that she wouldn’t get skittish and change her mind.
Wrapping my arms around her, I pulled her close, and let her bury her face in my chest. She obviously remembered that I had once held her against my body for days without trying anything. I had her trust still, and I didn’t want to break it.
I stroked the back of her neck with one hand, and waited for her to look up at me. It took some time, but finally she stopped trembling, and looked me in the eyes. Her lips looked ripe, and I kissed them.
Several kisses later, she decided to wrap her arms and legs around me, and hold me tight. I liked the way she clung to me – uncertain – but definitely wanting more. I was hard and ready to enter her, but I didn’t want to rush things. Instead, I massaged her buttocks, and deepened our kiss.
I also carried her out of the wonderfully warm pool so that I could lay her on a blanket I pulled out of the stash I’d left here last time. It was made of various pelts, and would cushion the ground nicely. She purred as I stroked her body, and the sound drove me crazy! If she kept that up, I was going to lose all control!
I had to focus on showing her that not all men hurt a woman when they had sex. That meant that I had to explore her and find all her sensitive spots. I grinned in anticipation, and fully concentrated on my task.
“Oh my gods!” She nearly screamed a few minutes later. “I had no idea!” I smiled at her, knowing that she wasn’t even at the really good parts yet.
I buried my face between her legs, and tasted her until she was shaking. She shoved a hand in her mouth – we both knew that it was dangerous to make too much noise and attract attention – and the sound she muffled left no doubt that she had reached her climax. I waited for her to calm down a bit.
“Yes… I can now completely understand why my parents snuck away together several times a day!”
I chuckled, and wished that I could have known and possibly saved her parents too. I lay atop her, and simply held her.
“But wait… you didn’t…” She blushed. It amused me that someone called the Murderous Bitch could be so shy when it came to talking about sex.
“No, I didn’t. Are you certain you want me to?” I asked. I could see her think this over carefully, and judging by the shadow that crossed her eyes, she briefly relived some unpleasant memories.
“Yes, I’m certain,” she affirmed.
I kissed her as I spread her legs and positioned myself for entry. I felt her stiffen reflexively, and then consciously relax. I waited for her, and then used her ample lubrication to slide in. I withdrew and repeated my action. This time, I was as deep as I could go.
Again, I waited for her to relax, and could tell that she was fighting both memories and the urge to tell me to stop after all. If I didn’t want her so badly that I could almost taste it, I think her discomfort probably would have killed my mood. Finally, she smiled, and I knew the time was right.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she whispered in relief as I thrust slowly. I don’t think she meant to say that out loud, but I took it as a good sign. I kissed her again, and got completely lost in her kiss.
I had visions of the future. We found a safe patch of land, and built a house. Then we filled that house with children. The thought that I could get her pregnant made me gasp. I could not believe how badly I wanted to impregnate her!
I grunted as I filled her, and then settled myself on her. There was no way I was going to let her go so soon! I wanted to hold her so closely that she became a part of me.
She sighed, and wrapped her arms around me. Oh that purring! Did she know how much that affected me? Just hearing her made me want to have sex again, but we’d had a long and exhausting day. Quite honestly, I don’t think I would have enough energy to love her again. Yet…
We stayed in that cave and made love for three days, but then we decided that we had to find some place more comfortable with better access to food. I wanted to start building that future in my vision. We made our way to the Great Forest – so named because it was an immense forest that had existed since the beginning of time. I figured that if we got lost in the forest, no one would ever be able to find us.
We were both wanted for murder and various other crimes after all. There’s no way the King would ever pardon our crimes and let us live in peace, even if we wanted to live under his tyranny. I can assure you that we did not.
In the forest, we split up. I concentrated on finding a suitable shelter for the night while she concentrated on hunting for food. We mutually agreed that we wouldn’t wander so far from each other that we couldn’t call out if needed.
I started thinking about how good she felt as I slid in and out of her, and that made me grin. I really wish I had a good friend to brag to! I don’t think I actually saw the trees in front of me for at least a few moments, so it’s really no surprise that someone thumped me on the back of my head.
I hadn’t let anyone get the drop on me since shortly after I first joined the King’s army! Damn, I guess it’s true that love is a distraction that can be deadly. As I lost consciousness, I heard Sephira screaming in rage.
When I came to, I was tied to a post in the middle of a field full of men. More specifically, they were King’s soldiers. I mentally calculated the odds of escape, and though they were direly grim, I was certain I could do it. I looked around to see if they had captured Sephira too, because that was important to know as I planned my escape.
I didn’t see her anywhere, and more importantly, I didn’t hear her anywhere. I sincerely hoped that this meant that she had evaded capture. Curse me for a love-struck fool! I wouldn’t be in this predicament if I had just kept my mind on our safety!
“He’s awake!” Someone announced, and the crowd parted. I could not believe my eyes! Why would the King be wandering through a field near the Great Forest? Didn’t he always stay in his well fortified palace?
“I have finally captured the notorious Onyx Chasm,” the King congratulated himself for everyone to see. I rather doubt that he had caught me personally. He spread his arms wide, and turned in a circle as the crowd cheered.
“I now have the great pleasure of executing the Kingdom’s worst criminal, but first…” he paused for dramatic effect. “I shall rid us of Sephira the Murderous Bitch!”
I was securely bound to a thick post in the ground, which I realized was prudent if they didn’t want me to escape or harm anyone. I stared at Sephira in shock as they dragged her into the clearing. She was wrapped from head to foot in rope. Her hands and feet were shackled together, and there was a ball or something shoved in her mouth.
Judging by her appearance, one would think that she was the more dangerous prisoner… which may be true. I certainly wasn’t going to fight her again to see which one of us was the better fighter. Still, it was irritating to see her treated like a rabid dog while I was treated almost civilly.
I couldn’t wait to ask her how many men she’d killed before they overwhelmed her. I bet it was at least a dozen! On second thought, I had better not; then she’d ask me how many I’d killed, and I’d have to admit that I was mooning over her and caught off guard. Such an idiot I am!
I tried to work my hands free, and realized that though my hands were behind my back – and the post – I could easily work the binding off. Better yet, I had a large knife tucked in my boot! Hell yeah! It looks like someone was on my side!
I freed myself, and stood. “Why don’t you try me first!” I challenged. The King turned to face me, only mildly surprised that I was free and ready to fight. Did he suspect that I had help, or did he just think I was that good? I sized up the large war axe he held, and dismissed it as too slow to do him any good against me.
“If that’s how you want it, fine!” The King agreed. “We’ll fight, but first…” He brought his axe down across Sephira’s neck, and I was horrorstruck! I tossed my knife at him the very moment I realized what he was going to do, but it was far too late to stop him. My knife buried itself in his right lung, but I barely noticed. My eyes were fixed on Sephira’s head; it rolled a bit away from her body.
I roared in rage, and ran towards the bleeding tyrant. He had accepted my challenge, and so by law, not one of his men could interfere. He was so preoccupied with the knife in his chest that he did not pay attention to me as I raced by and grabbed his axe. I heaved it over my head, and brought it down upon him – cleaving him in two. Then I beat the two halves of his body with his axe, which rather made a nasty mess of things.
When I was finally emotionally spent, I gathered up Sephira’s head in one hand, and cradled her body with my other arm. I know that real men do not cry under any circumstances, but I am certain I was bawling like a baby. Part of me wanted to magically heal her, and the other part of me wanted to kill everyone and everything until the Gods agreed to give her back to me!
Slowly, I realized that no one was trying to capture or kill me, and I looked around to see what was going on. I was amazed to see every single soldier on his knees before me. My mouth dropped open as I realized what I had done; I’d won the challenge!
By law, in order to prevent unnecessary fighting amongst the nobility, if two men fought due to a challenge, the winner received everything the loser owned. That meant I was now King! I owned his palace, and even his wife and daughters! This was more than enough to make my head spin…
I decided to test my theory. I pointed to a man who looked to be a high ranking person. “You there, see to it that Sephira is prepared for a proper funeral.”
“Yes, My King,” he answered obediently. I watched him gesture to several other men to help him. They all shivered nervously, and I realized something vitally important. Despite living under the rule of an absolute tyrant for the past 20 years, these men all feared me!
Perhaps turning the previous King into goo after he was already dead had been a bit much. I was completely overwhelmed. What kind of king did I want to be? Did I want to rule by fear? Or… what? Respect?
When it became obvious that I was going to do nothing but stare at the body of my lover – who was being taken away as I’d ordered – another man in charge quietly ordered that the remains of the previous King be cleaned up. He then guided me into the King’s spacious pavilion.
He showed me compassion and kindness, and helped me to rule the Kingdom with wisdom and firm but flexible grip on my subjects. Six years passed, and the Kingdom grew peaceful. I was even considered a beloved King!
Yet… my heart has still not recovered. My advisors kept urging me to take a wife. They all wanted me to marry one of the previous King’s daughters so that there could be no arguing that my heir was the rightful heir to the throne.
Without Sephira, I didn’t care about getting married or having children. In fact the thought of doing either without her made my blood run cold. I would have refused forever, but my advisors nagged me into it.
I married both of the deposed princesses, and did what I had to so that they both grew round with child, but I couldn’t bring myself to speak to them otherwise. I prayed that one of them would give birth to a son so that I never had to touch either of them again. I was lucky enough that one did give me a son, and the other a daughter. I had my heir, and even a girl I could pamper. One day.
I sincerely hoped that I would grow to love my children because they had done nothing wrong. It was not their fault that their mothers were not Sephira. Nor was it their fault that their maternal grandfather had murdered my beloved.
To escape my moping, I ordered my most trusted advisor and my chief bodyguard to accompany me on a walk through the city surrounding my palace. I had us all dress as commoners, and walked the streets as if I were nobody. Not a king, not a notorious criminal; just a regular man.
It felt liberating, and my spirits felt higher than I remembered them being in a very long time. It would soon be my 33rd birthday, and the entire Kingdom was preparing a celebration. I had not degreed it nor insisted on it in any way, but they did so nonetheless out of respect and love for me. Seeing this actually cheered me up.
“She may not be a virgin, but she has been kept in prime condition. Until now, she has mostly served as a maid for a single master. She’s ripe to be a bed toy or a wife. Just look at her hips! They will surely bear children with ease!”
Slavery?! In my kingdom? How had I not known this? I mean it was true that slavery was common in the time of the tyrant, but hadn’t I abolished it? I turned to give my trusted advisor a questioning look.
He knew me well enough to guess my thoughts. “You set limits and restrictions on slavery, but at the time, it was agreed that it would be too disastrous to forbid it altogether.”
Now that he mentioned it, I do recall sitting through a tedious meeting about that. I sighed, and turned my attention to the auctioneer… and the slave. My heart stopped completely, and refused to beat for at least a minute.
“Sephira!” I gasped softly; so softly that only my two companions could make out what I said.
“Oh please no!” My advisor responded and quickly crossed himself. Stories were still told about the legendary Murderous Bitch – as they all insisted on calling her – and many people still feared her.
“Be reasonable,” my bodyguard attempted to calm my advisor. “Sephira would not be that young. She can’t be more than 16.”
My companions debated the merits of the slave girl’s age, and the likelihood that she could be Sephira. I knew she wasn’t, but she looked almost exactly as I remembered my lover. The girl had mostly kept her eyes focused on the ground, but something made her look up and directly at me.
My heart stopped once more, and I thumped on my chest to get it to start up again. Those eyes! They were the same – exactly the same – as Sephira’s, and I could not just ignore the pleading I saw there.
“Baird, she’s mine… Go inform the auctioneer before someone else thinks they have bought her,” I commanded my advisor.
“Yes, My King,” he replied, obviously astonished at my unusual and unexpected behavior. The bidding was just starting to pick up, and he rushed to do as ordered.
He made a ruckus, and pushed his way through the crowd. The auctioneer paused to see what was going on, especially when the auction house guards let him pass. Baird went so far as to ascend the stage, and whisper in the auctioneer’s ear. He showed his official identification, and the auctioneer gasped.
“It’s seems that this slave has just been bought by His Glorious Majesty, King Onyx! Our King certainly has a good eye when it comes to beautiful women,” the auctioneer announced, smiling graciously.
I returned to the palace, and awaited her delivery. I gave strict orders not to be disturbed for any reason, and paced my overly large bed chamber. I was so nervous that one might think it was my first time!
Finally, she arrived. The slave house had bathed her, and put her into a silk gown fit for a King’s lover. The sight of it made my anatomy throb. I cleared my throat, and asked her to sit in a chair across a small table from me.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Opal,” she whispered. I could see that she was at least as nervous as I was. Probably more.
“Where are you from?” I wondered.
“I’m told that I was taken from a village when I was very young. I was sold to an elderly gentleman who needed help around the house. He did not use me, but those who captured me did, thus I am not a virgin… My King.” She told me this as she examined my floor. She seemed to feel shame, as if she were somehow less of a person because she had been abused.
I was in shock, and outraged on her behalf. How dare anyone rape a child! This news made me want to dig up the body of that damned tyrant and light it on fire!
“Have you ever heard of Sephira?” I inquired.
She hesitated to answer. Clearly she had heard some of the more gruesome stories featuring Sephira the Murderous Bitch. She finally exhaled, and I could see extra water in her eyes.
“I think I used to have a sister by that name. I can’t remember for certain anymore, but I do know that I used to believe that I had a sister named Sephira, and every time I heard of her killing members of the King’s army, I would pretend she was doing it so she could find me. I used to pray that she would bring me back to our mother and father! …But I know that they died in the attack. That I do remember and always will.”
I knew it! This just had to be Sephira’s sister. She looked like her, sounded like here, even smelled like her – under all the perfume she was wearing.
“Would you like me to tell you what really happened?” I asked.
She clearly hadn’t expected that, and cast me a puzzled look. Her mouth opened as she recognized me from the crowd at the auction. Slowly, she nodded. “…Yes… I would like that.”
I told her the entire story, every bit that I knew, and watched her face as she listened. She alternated between amazement and horror. I knew it wasn’t a particularly pretty tale, but I felt that she deserved to know it.
“So… you really went into Hell, and killed the tyrant King for my sister? I mean for Sephira – a girl you barely knew!” She asked when I was finished.
“Yes,” I confirmed.
I gave her a serious look, and waited until it was obvious by the expression on her face that she knew I was going to say something important. She looked away in hesitation, and fidgeted. I waited; finally she was ready to hear what I had to say.
“Opal, I know that you are not Sephira, but you could be her twin; you are so alike. My body reacts the same way to you as it did to her… Will you let me love you in her place? Will you become my wife and the mother of my children?”
She looked at her hands sadly. “You ask that as if I have a choice. You are my master, and my King. I must do as you command.”
“Opal… I’m asking because you do have a choice. I would never give such a command!”
She gathered the courage to look me in the eyes, and search for the answers to her unasked questions. She must have found whatever it was she was looking for because she smiled. She looked at her hands in her lap once more, and blushed.
“Can you promise that it won’t hurt?”
“What won’t hurt,” I asked, purposely being obtuse.
“All I can remember from before is a LOT of pain. If I am going to be your wife, and the mother of your children, then we must do that awful and hurtful thing… If you can promise me that it won’t hurt, then I will gladly become your wife… number three.” She smiled at me again.
Is she being subtly jealous? I smiled at her in return. “I tell you what; why don’t I show you, and then you can decide afterwards.”
She narrowed her eyes at me suspiciously, and I’ll admit that I was doing everything in my power to make her say yes. She nodded, and I vowed to show her only pleasure, from now until forever. I gathered her in my arms, and carried her to bed.
We were married a month later, and joyously welcomed our daughter when she was born. I looked at my beloved wife, and found tears streaming down my cheeks. I was speechless.
She looked up at me, and grinned. “Why don’t we name her Sephira?”
I wasn’t entirely sure it was wise to name a baby after a woman most people called the Murderous Bitch, but to Hell with them! In this situation, it was an appropriate and perfect name. I nodded, still unable to speak.
“Sephira it is then!” She held the baby up as if in congratulations. “May your life be happier than hers was!”
And it will be too, if I have anything to say about it!