|The Ancient Prophecy
Part VII: The Quest for Loyalty
by Vipers ©
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
"Do you know where Atrus is?" Anna asked.
"No, I don't. I think he hasn't arrived from the castle."
This was no good. Their conversation didn't go well. Anna, however, noticed this as well. He reached out for Maya's shoulder, sensing the tense muscles beneath the sweat-covered skin.
"Oh my... Your muscles are tense... Are you okay?"
"Yes, Mistress... I'm just tired, I guess... I'll be fine..."
"Say... do you want to have a nice hot bath with me?"
Maya's jaw dropped at the request. She looked at her mistress in disbelief, but only saw innocence in her eyes.
"It's good for your muscles, you know? Come. The curry won't go anywhere."
Maya was speechless when Anna carried her to the only bathroom in their room. They had shared this room with Atrus, since there was only one room available in the inn. Being a gentleman, Atrus quickly claimed to living room sofa despite the girls' protest, so they shared a huge bed in the next room.
The bathtub was pretty special for an inn of its size. It was made of nice marble and was enough for two people. Hot water filled the tub. By the time Maya entered the room, the vapor instantly relaxed her muscles. Anna closed the door behind her and guided her to the tub.
"Take off your clothes. You don't normally take a bath with your shirt on, do you?"
Maya blushed at the comment, then began to undo her neck collar. Anna helped by loosening her leather belt. Then she helped Maya get off her sweat-soaked body suit. She was marveled at the sight of Maya's half-naked body. Her body suit did a good job at hiding her natural beauty beneath it. Maya's well-rounded breasts were bigger than hers were. Her muscular body gave her a slim feminine figure. No wonder why Atrus loved her so much. Anna felt envious at her, but she cast it away.
Anna was about to take off Maya's lower suit when she stopped her. She reached out for Anna's belt and undid it. Then she took off her priest suit, revealing her cute breasts. Anna blushed as Maya kept on taking off her clothes, leaving her naked. Then she proceeded to take off Maya's suit.
Once they were naked, Anna led Maya to the hot tub. Maya slowly put her leg into the steaming water. Her body jerked for a while, but then she put another leg and slowly lowered herself into the water. The heat gently massaged her muscles, relaxing her. She closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling.
Anna approached the tub later, carrying soap and a piece of cotton cloth. She climbed into the tub and sat behind Maya. Then she applied the soap to the wet cloth and began rubbing Maya's back. Maya was in heaven. Anna was incredibly good at massaging. Her hands expertly played with her skin, awakening her nerves and sending incredible sensation throughout her body.
She couldn't take it anymore. She turned around and pulled Anna close and kissed her deeply. Anna was completely taken by surprise, but she didn't struggle. After a while Maya broke the kiss. Anna was staring at her, puzzled.
"Maya... What in Guardian's name are you doing...?"
"I'm in awe by my mistress' kindness. This is my way to say thank you."
Before Anna could reply, Maya kissed the nape of her neck then licked her body all the way to her breasts. Then she licked her right shoulder, her hands playing with her breasts. Anna was involuntarily aroused. A soft moan escaped her lips as sparks passed through her body.
"Maya... I'm not sure... that we're doing... the right... thing..."
"Don't worry, mistress... Leave everything to me... Just sit back and enjoy the ride..."
Maya continued licking her neck and earlobe while keeping the attention on her breasts. Anna's breathing was getting heavy. Her hands stroked the long dark hair as Maya expertly serviced her.
Then Maya took one of her nipples in her mouth, softly licking and sucking it. She shifted her free hand on her crotch. Had they not been in the water, Anna's crotch would have been very wet from arousal. Maya traced the tender skin around her pussy and found her clit, teasing it. Anna moaned harder in every stroke she made.
Then she entered one finger into her love-hole. Anna's back arched as the sensation hit her. Maya cleverly teased her sensitive spot without shifting attention from her breasts. With all her private parts teased, it didn't take long for Anna to reach her peak. With a loud cry, she hit the climax. Maya held her close as her body shook uncontrollably. After she recovered, Maya planted a deep kiss on her lips.
"What do you think, Mistress? A good slave can always use a critique..."
Anna just smiled. "Of course, naughty girl... I will teach you a lesson..."
Later that night, Atrus went home, only to find the dinner still warm on the table. Then he saw the girls sleeping soundly on the bed, holding each other close like a couple. Softly he put the blanket over both of them. Anna's figure stirred a bit, and fell asleep instantly, satisfied with the warmth. A smile was sculptured on her face.
The sight pleased him. Seeing both girls get along would make their journey pleasant, if not easier. At least he knew he could always count on them when he needed help. He had a quick dinner, then went to bed. Tomorrow they had a long journey...
...And at the end of the journey, an important mission awaited them...
The journey from the capital to Blackwell normally took three days, but the royal guards under instruction of Captain Hawk had lent them a pair of horses to make the trip faster. It took them a while to convince Anna to ride the horse. She finally agreed to ride with Atrus, since Maya volunteered to carry their backpacks on her horse. The party traveled slowly at first due to Anna's persistent demand, but halfway through the journey, Anna's confidence grew and they began to pick some speed.
The travel time was also reduced considerably because they used the main road to Blackwell. Flanked with thick forest on both sides, the road was highly unsafe from wolves and other beasts. Merchants always avoided the road; only royal army used it to transport soldiers, who could defend themselves. However, their horses effectively discouraged the beasts from attacking. They arrived at Blackwell before nightfall, unscathed. Anna, as usual, briefed them along the way.
The town of Blackwell was known as the unofficial capital of Southern Aragon. It housed many trading outposts and warehouses. It also was the main military headquarter In Southern Aragon. All patrols were routed from here, including reinforcements to conflict area. The town only had little farm area, for most of the villagers lived from trade.
Despite the security it offered, Blackwell was a town of conflict. The close proximity to the military had increased the tension in the community. Many fractions had rebelled against the ruler, but none had succeeded. One of the most famous rebels was Sir John the Plunderer, Maya's father.
Filling the horizon was the Castle Stoke. It stood on a small hill surrounded by plains. The castle was named after the owner, Sir Anthony Stoke, a hero of Human-Elven war. After the war he had been appointed as a baron and had been assigned to maintain the garrison in the south. He then had appointed himself as the governor of South Region. Royal court knew him as a loyal servant to the crown, but the people knew him as a ruthless administrator. The trouble in the south made the problem worse. The conflicts at Labrador and Gideon had gradually diminished people's trust to the kingdom. Whitewater's affair was a fine example.
The baron had been informed of their arrival, but they arrived a little early. The sun was setting when they approached the town. Suddenly Atrus jerked his horse to halt and signaled Maya to stop. He drew his sword and looked at the surroundings. He was sure he had sensed somebody was watching them. Maya also readied her blade, eyeing the forest around them. Anna, however, had the upper hand with her eagle eye spell.
"Five people on the left." She whispered. "And four on the right, all humans."
Bandits! "Come out and show yourselves!" Atrus yelled.
Instantly nine men leaped from the trees and surrounded them. They wore normal peasant's clothes and dark capes. They stared at the group angrily. All of them wielded short sabers, no match for Atrus' sword. Atrus was about to attack when Maya stopped him.
"Master, wait! I know that man!" She cried, then pointed at one of the men.
The man cast away his cape to reveal the face Maya knew well. He was the mysterious man she had met at the Lindenwood pub a few weeks ago. He was also the one who had given her the information about Whitewater conflict, which had crossed her path with Atrus'. All she knew he had said he was one of her father's man, so he couldn't be a bad guy.
"Finally, Miss Maya... I've been expecting you..." He said quietly.
All men withdrew their sabers instantly. Atrus, however, refused to do so. Anna also eyed the attackers warily, ready to cast spells when needed. The man turned to Atrus calmly and smiled.
"Don't worry, Sir White Lion, your exploits are well-known. We know who you are and why you are here. The baron's messenger is on the way, but we ask you to go with us for a while. There's something I would like to discuss with you. We will escort you there."
Atrus turned at Maya. She nodded in approval.
"You want to discus something with me, but you jumped me and my friends with men and swords. That will make me think twice before accepting the invitation." Atrus answered coldly.
Then to Atrus' surprise, the man fell on his knees, followed by all his men. "Then I will beg you to come with us. Please, Sir White Lion, we wished to enlist your help."
The men led them to one of the house in the outskirts of the town. They hid their horses inside a small barn. The house was a simple two-story building, enough to fit a small family who needed extra space. However, when they got inside, the living room was crowded with people. Most of them were peasants, still wearing wide hay hats. The rest of them wore normal clothes.
But the thing that surprised Atrus and the girls was that the people were armed. They wielded swords of many kinds, and were practicing inside the house. They honed their skills in two, dueling with each other. The weapons were not of top quality, but they were real ones. It seemed the people were very serious in their training, for they were willing to seriously injure themselves in the process.
At first nobody paid attention to the newcomers, but then one of them spotted Atrus. "Praise Guardian! Behold! The demon slayer is here!"
Almost instantly the people started to crowd near Atrus and the girls. The peasants looked at them in awe and respect. The men that escorted them had some difficulties in warding them off. Still stubborn, the people yelled noisily.
"Demon slayer! You will help us, won't you?!"
"Teach us how to fight, demon slayer!"
"Fight with us, demon slayer!"
Then the leader stepped on a table and raised his hand, instantly silencing the crowd. The man had to have a strong influence around here, Atrus thought.
"My brothers! Not too loud! The baron's army will find us!" He paused for a while before continuing. "The demon slayer is tired! Continue your practice! Let's hope he will help us!"
Then people began to disperse, returning to their practice. The leader led Atrus to a table in the corner of the room and pulled some chairs. A moment later, a maid brought four cups of steaming tea. They watched the practice for a while.
"Ironic, isn't it?" The leader spoke up. "The soldiers back in the castle are procrastinating and playing cards and dices, while we're here, practicing to death, just to stay alive..."
Atrus didn't answer immediately. He was busy in his thought. So the report from the royal court was right. In their way they didn't see any patrols. Something was very wrong here.
"It's just a matter of time until the Army of Darkness arrives and enslaves us all. Oh yes... they will enslave us... Stoke has been enslaving us; he will enslave us forever..."
Atrus turned at him, but saw no hesitation in his eyes. This man seemed to know something.
Anna suddenly caught something in the corner of her eyes. In the other corner of the room was a group of people, lying on the floor. They suffered from many different kinds of injuries, from a light wound to serious ones. Several maids were tending them, but the view irritated her.
The leader saw her concern. "As you can see, we're practicing with real weapons to prepare ourselves. Many of our men were injured in the process. Some of them were even... maimed..."
Anna looked at Atrus in distress. "Atrus, as a priest I have to help them! Whatever you will talk about, fill me up later." Then she left the table.
Atrus turned at the man. "Now we can begin the discussion with a proper self-introduction."
The man smiled. "My name is Leonard, also known as Stabber. I am a citizen and a wanted man to the royal army. I am an outlaw and a robber. I am loyal only to John the Plunderer, your father." The man pointed at Maya.
Maya looked at him suspiciously. She remembered the man had said so in Lindenwood. "I don't recognize you. My father never mentioned your name."
"He didn't want you to know." He answered. "The less you know, the better."
"Let's start the story from the beginning, shall we?" Atrus interrupted.
The man bowed slightly then started his tale. "Twenty years ago, after the great Humans-Elven war was ended, Sir Anthony Stoke returned after a glorious victory. He received the land of Southern Aragon for his bravery and settled down in a castle south of here. Then he declared himself the second ruler of Southern Aragon, next to the king. He collected many talented men to assist him in his quest of power and wealth. Sir John Murdock was one of them. He was appointed as the mayor of Blackwell.
"Everything went well, until greed began to take control. The great hero was overcome with wealth. He raised taxes beyond grasp and plundered our harvest. To suppress uprising, he drafted many hired soldiers and ruled with fear and intimidation. Then the Dark Age came."
Leonard lit a cigar and offered Atrus one, but he politely declined. "Sir John was, however... different. He was a fine mayor who ruled wisely. Unlike many ignorant mayors, he occasionally walked around the town and into the farming areas, visiting his people. He was willing to lend his ears to hear our pleas and sufferings. When the baron ignored his protest, he began his movement.
"Sir John rallied the people to form a small group of militia. He led the group to attack baron's caravans. He shared the booty with us, claiming that the baron had robbed us, so the booty was already ours. To the army, he was a criminal, but to us, he was our hero."
The story, of course, surprised Maya. His father was not an ordinary bandit. "A hero..."
"Indeed, Miss Murdock, a hero. During daytime he worked as a mayor loyal to the baron, but at night he raided baron's caravans. He didn't tell you because you were still a little girl back then. He didn't want to involve you in his dangerous business."
Leonard sighed heavily. "Alas, his action was later discovered by the baron. He was betrayed by his own man. One night we raided a caravan, which was just a decoy. We fought for our lives, but the baron's army was too numerous. Sir John, with his superior skill, covered our retreat, but he got captured himself. The next day, he was hanged before us..."
Maya could feel her tears filling her eyes. Her father was betrayed... He was not killed in the battlefield... He was murdered...
Atrus reached out and pulled her close. Maya began to sob in his arms. The sound of swords behind them didn't bother them anymore. Sorrow filled the air. From the other corner, Anna looked at them sorrowfully. She could only nodded in sympathy.
"We raced to Sir John's house that night to secure his family, but the house was empty. The baron had arrested you and your mother. We later on heard what happened to you. We were so crushed that we vowed to commit suicide together... Thirty people died together that day... I was the only survivor..."
"The only survivor...?" Atrus asked.
"Yes... I couldn't do it... I couldn't trust the sword to my belly... Killing myself wouldn't solve the problem. I can't story the castle to rescue Miss Murdock... but if I died, I wouldn't do anything anyway...
"So I planned to continue what Sir John had started. I rallied the people who loved him, and drilled them with all knowledge I had. We hoped we could rescue you and your mother, but we had failed... They had enslaved you... We had failed..."
Maya looked at him. "It's not your fault... I should be happy that you have enlightened me with the truth about my father... I thank you..."
"The royal court must know about this!" Atrus declared slowly.
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
|Another top quality story by Vipers.|
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