A Harem Fantasy Ch. 15bymadam_noe©
My first novel is now available. Check out my bio for more information. Updates to this story should be biweekly as I'm in the early stages of co-authoring my second novel.
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"You dare misrepresent yourself to enter the palace?" Halfath asked behind me.
I lifted my hand, covered with heavy gold. "Not now," I quietly said. I stood, my hand drifting to my sword. "Fisine, High Priestess."
"Virtal, presumptive whore."
The crowd's murmurs died on a gasp at that. I didn't have look to see Lucius jerk forward, Marxim holding him back. Instead I smiled at my opponent as I descended the steps. "This from the woman who takes small children into her wholly house and violates them. Tell me, how old was Antal the first time you whipped her bloody and took her body? Eight? Older? Younger?"
The priestess, a stately older woman with long graying hair held back in the signature dreaded threads of the far western tribes, was turning purple. "Impudent whelp!"
"Guards, seize her!" I directed with my sword but this was not the time, nor the place. I could scarcely believe she was there...unless it was a distraction.
"Palace guards, detain Fisine, royal guards, with me!" I threw a look to Marxim and Lucius as I ran. Thankfully the common rooms of the palace were nearly ground level, it was only two flights of ancient stairs to the musty, dank dungeons.
The guards of the dungeons hall stood, proud women armed with knives, spears, swords, and shields upon their back, all glinting coppery gold in the moonlight. "The word of the day!" I shouted at a run.
They dropped to their knees before, something I was already growing irritated by. "Sun!: The women called back, husky voices united.
I stopped and quickly darted to the other tunnel, heading to the crypts. These guards were smaller, only one of the torches burning, against regulation. Their cloaks, a solid yellow version of the sand-brick walls, covered their weapons, only their spears and shields visible.
"The word of the day!"
"Sun," called back one, the other echoing her a half second later.
I drew my small ornate-handled knife and threw it into the chest of one. Marxim shoved me aside and threw his to the other who had thrown her cloak off to reveal a red robe from the order of Caldor.
They were down, but there was no telling how many more were in the crypts.
"Hold the crypts," I ordered the royal guard. Here t was a bottle neck, and until more reinforcements arrived we had the advantage. "You three, come with me." I left my captain in charge, she knew what to do, and chose the three strongest to come with my and my consorts.
We went back to the dungeons. "There are priestesses of Caldor in the crypts, and they are here for Antal. You," I pointed to the one on the left. "Go to armory and tell all the guards, even those off duty to split. Ten to my rooms and the rest to the crypts to flush them out. Go, now!"
"Swords out!" I commanded my small party.
"Let us proceed, your highness," one of my guards said.
I nodded. "Two in front, one in rear. Flank me, Marxim and Lucius."
The remaining guard gave me the key as bade after opening the heavy door. Like the crypts of long dead queens and consorts the jail was a maze. In my studies I had memorized it and knew the three main branches divided the prisoners between those lowborn and waiting a trial, those of great insanity and danger of any birth who were imprisoned under sentence, and the last was for highborn prisoners.
Leading the part by directing my guards we wound left and left again, following each branch until we were in a hall that shared a common wall with the crypts. Upon that realization a feeling of dread came over me.
The cells to our right were empty and the torches at the end of the hallway seemed to be out, lit on by the small windows giving sunshine and moonlight to the most regal prisoner we had.
Then we saw a flash of red and my party broke into a run.
At the end of the hallway we saw why they had chosen the crypts; somehow the priestesses had violated the sacred tombs and broken through the wall. Antal's cell was open, empty. Through the crypts it seemed empty, but the torches were out, leaving only small shafts of sunlight to illuminate the tombs of ancient queens.
"There is danger here," whispered one of the guards.
"There is a small group of priestesses and only one knight amongst them, and she has been a captive for some time. Any weapons they give her will be stolen, foreign, and crude. We are three warriors and three knights. It is skill, not numbers, that matter, Gugone." I Managed to remember the blonde guards name with difficulty.
Beside Marxim was shaking. I longed to comfort him, he who I had promised would never have to face the terror of Antal again, but there was no time, not now. We had to stop them from escaping or all was lost.
"Stop!" I called and everyone did. Like me I knew Lucius closed his eyes and listened as he'd been trained, but Marxim was too scared.
I let my ears move beyond the breaths around me. I let my senses reach out to the thin strips of sunlight and called to the god, the warrior, for protection and the gift of sight.
Move, he breathed across my soul. I followed him, sword out, and knew Lucius walked with me. We wound sightless through the tombs, silent faces carved in stone following us with painted eyes. Yes, they seemed to say, protect the line.
Move, the warrior father called, faster, he urged. I ran now, trying to blot out the sound of Lucius' sandals thumping in time to mine.
Here, here! I opened my eyes to see them, only four red-robed women, Antal behind them. Her auburn hair was as wild as her eyes, and she clasped a sword stolen from a tomb from a long ago queen, made of soft bronze.
"That's far enough," I said as the rest of my party caught us up.
"Kill her!" Antal ordered.
"Wait!" I cried, too late. One of the priestesses shoved Antal behind a column and the priestesses drew their crude weapons.
It was over quickly. Our folded steel against ancient bronze was no contest, and these women had studied the length of their lives in the worship of the goddess and the machinations of Fisine, their high priestess. I had studied this too, as had my consorts, but the five is us had studied combat as well.
When they lay dead I sent one of the guards to collect the rest at the crypt doors and dove around the column. Antal was long gone.
We fanned out two groups, one guard with Lucius, one with me and Marxim. There was no sound to pick up; the deposed queen's feet were bare and soft on the stone floor. I reached out to the god again only to lose him in the clamor of dozens of guards joining us.
"My queen, my queen!" My captain called. "The high priestess is gone!"
"What do you mean? How did she escape?"
A laugh filled the tomb and we all jerked towards it. Suddenly a ball of light appeared, backlighting Antal. Within seconds Fisine appeared. This was sorcery far beyond healing magic, a dark gift banned from time immemorial.
Fisine, solid now, wrapped her deeply tanned arms around Antal from behind, an old lover's embrace. I myself was frozen, shocked, unable to process what I was seeing. Beside me Marxim howled, and before I could stop him, drew an old dagger I didn't even know he had. Plain and small, it was a metal spike more than a blade, weighted for throwing.
He drew back and as one, Fisine and I cried "No!"
The ball of light grew once more, swallowing the women up as the dagger hit with a sickening wet sound. The last part of them visible was Antal's eyes, wide with shock and pain, and then they were gone.
The group that remained was silent for a long moment. Lucius was the first to break it. "War is coming."
I nodded and turned to Marxim. "Do you know what you've done?"
He was shaking still in fear. "I want her dead. She needs to die, she needs to go away and never return."
"That was a mortal wound! In all the years of pain and suffering at her hands, did you forget your lesson? Deposed or not she is a queen, an totem of power, and with a mortal wound only her chosen consort can heal her through magic."
He began shivering. "But I am your consort now!"
Rage was bleeding into my panic and bloodlust and I shoved my sword, still bloody, into my scabbard with great force. "Exactly! This means Fisine will return...for you AND me!"
The common rooms had been cleared, the nobility and peasants sent back to their homes hours ago. All the guards were out patrolling Caldor tamping down on the ring panic. There was talk of open war. No other factions could reach the walled city as the gates were closed, but inside the threat of looting hung over us like a shroud.
Marxim had to be sedated in his grief, fear, and guilt. A twisted part of him loved Antal, or perhaps the idea of what she could have been was more apt. Now he had given her a wound she would surely die of, and soon, very soon, Fisine would try to bring us to her or her to us to cure her. That was a love triangle I wanted no part of.
The council was arguing. Most favored a first strike at the temple but a few, such as Cassipe and Halfath, argued that only Fisine and a few of the higher priestesses needed removal. I quite agreed; cut off the head and the force of the body would fall apart. I could quickly replace the high priestess with one of my choosing, and as little blood as possible need be spilt.
The argument continued for hours, food was brought in but appetites were small and tension was high. As the sun dipped lower in the sky, I brought Lucius aside.
"We must greet the moon."
"We need not do it publicly. The ceremony may stand but the danger is too high."
I shook my head and cupped his cheek, forcing those bright green eyes to meet mine. "It must be public. The people must see our strength. We are a new queen and consort in a situation the realm has no seen since the founding of the line. They must see our strength, our purity, we must given them comfort."
Frowning, he grabbed my hand and dragged me out into the large room to the balcony. "Do you see?" Lucius pointed at the priestesses temple where the fires burned high and a group had gathered.
It was larger than those who stood below us, awaiting the greeting of the moons, burning candles as a show of faith in me, or perhaps just the established system. I did not fail to note an unusually high number of men in the crowd. In the short time my plan had to work, it seemed I was winning the men to my side.
I glanced at Lucius, arguing now even as I ignored his words, and thought of Marxim sleeping the sleep of the drugged after likely dooming my short rein. I could sway the men of Caldor and likely all the land, but I could not control the two that belonged to me by law.
"Lucius, enough! I am queen and you will do as I say."
He stepped closer, his eyes narrowing.
"I said today I would take any challenges. Do not start anything lest you mean to fight to the death, and take my throne."
To that he could not respond, his lips forming silent words. I stalked back to my council, suffused with anger and purpose. "Enough!" I slammed my fist on the top of the round table. "The time for talk has passed. Here is what we will do, and each and every one of you has a part to play. Do not make me repeat myself, there is little time."
My first consort was angry. It w as plain to see in his eyes. There was love between us, but there was a deep fracture of disagreement. He did not have faith in me. I understood that to a point, I was young and untried, but faith was what I needed most.
Marxim had that, his extra years and knowledge of two queens before me had granted him some patience, but his fear of Antal was large and unreasoning competing with his sensibility.
I greeted the moon with only the other harem members present. I could only take one consort on the altar, and so I had Missiply and Annist prepare Lucius while Marxim attended me.
He felt guilty, and expressed this with tenderness. His mouth was fervent and soft, pulling, his tongue stroking my nipples rapidly as his hands caressed my limbs and feathered over my stomach. By the time his mouth fastened on my center I was shaking with need. He knew to drive me to the edge but no further, his tongue stroking my nubbin even as he suckled.
At last Lucius was ready, his eyes and muscles hard, fists bunched. I knew then he wanted to be on top, he wanted to master me, punish me for not heeding him. I held no such anger, the goddess was already calling to me, swelled inside me with the need Marxim had planted there.
"People of Caldor!" I called, taking his hand as we stepped to the edge of the balcony. "Tonight we greet the moon, and then I urge you to return quickly to your homes. Join me now in the celebration of the meeting of the Goddess and God!"
A cheer went up from the crowd, half the normal size. Across the long plaza, backed up to the far wall, stood the silent temple of the priestesses, watching.
I laid Lucius down on the later, ignoring his hard eyes, and knelt, straddling his legs. I stoked my hands over his body, avoiding his hard member, and he bit his lip, holding back his need. His cock was still wet with the juices of Annist's mouth and some of Missiply's lip stain was on a nipple. I saw plainly he had enjoyed the new rules I had set in place, removing the threat of death for innocent touching between my consort and the harem, particularly at my bidding.
I covered him at last and he slipped into my wet body with ease, stretching me. We groaned as one, though for the first time he did not take my hands. I settled for bracing myself on his shoulder and closed my eyes, feeling the goddess swell.
I wished her, willed her into him, and began to move. Slowly at first I rose and fell, riding Lucius gently, delighting in the slow side in and out. My nipples tingled as he filled me, all coiled power, leashed under me, and I began to move faster and faster with need.
I fell forward, scraping my nubbin over his bones, letting my nipples sway over his. My hair mingled with his and the sight was fire, yellow gold and red heat. The passion caught him at last and his hands moved to grab my hips, slamming me against him now.
I heard the murmurs from beside me and below, and cared for nothing. I loved him, he was inside me, and the magic was with us, that was all that mattered. The precipice of pleasure loomed, but I held back. I needed Lucius with me and he was not as close.
Faster and faster we went, muscles straining, sweat beading on our skin in the hot desert night. At last the first moon neared the horizon and when it crested, so did we. I shouted my pleasure, not giving one damn about the people all around me. In that moment it was just Lucius and I, together, the goddess and even the god, at last, filling our bodies.
I rode it out straining to finish as the tremors wracked us both, luxuriating in the pleasure, the very gift of it. Mine by right of station I cared not, somehow impossibly in a land of strangers, surrounded by danger and enemies, I had found something pure and beautiful. I came down with tears on my lashes, my mind fogged, my need and hunger still great. I wanted the harem gone, I wanted Marxim in me, under me, I wanted to spend the night taking them both over and over until I could think no more.
"My queen!" Morganna called.
I opened my eyes to the striking brunette pointing to the sky, and heard the crowd below turn to vocal chaos.
As I looked the dying sun was being eclipsed by the second moon, rising minutes too soon. An eclipse, however late in the day, was a sign of dark tidings all of us from the order knew.
"Antal," I quickly said. "It is the sign of a passing of an old queen. The passing of title means little to the goddess, but the death does. Antal is dead!"
I knew the old ways and prayed I was right. If she was the pressure would ease and we would be safe. "My robe," I called and Lucius and I had our robes brought to us.
I climbed off and took the towel Annist offered, cleansing myself. Marxim was there, hope shining in his wet blue eyes. "Is it true? Is she dead at last?"
I took his hand, holding it in one of mine and smoothing it with the other. "It's true, a sign such as this can mean only that. Harem, to your own pleasures tonight. Leave me and my consorts."
They did as bid, bowing, and soon they left us in the jungled balcony. "Marxim, order food and prepare the bed."
"Yes, my queen."
"Virtal," I corrected and sent him off.
"My love." Lucius came behind me to stand, and wrapped his arms around me.
I gave into the urge and leaned against him, closing my eyes and placing my arms over his. "I pray tonight we'll have peace."
"What do you mean?"
"The eclipse most likely means she is dead, but death is not the end. Not when Antal bears the love of a sorceress."
He turned me quickly, hands tight on my upper arms. "What does that mean?"
I looked up him steadily. "Fisine has power, commands many who c an call armies to her cause. In rage she may strike out at us. Or worse."
"She practices the dark magic. That light she casts with power may be bright, but is dark, forbidden. Older than the oldest ways. She could restore Antal to a form of life."
I nodded. "If you know the stories of the dead rising, it's dark tidings. There will be a funeral, but her organs shall not be removed as custom. She will be bathed and wrapped in linen, but if she rises, the dark life will be hers until vengeance is known. With our deaths Fisine may be able to grant her eternal life."
"Eternal life. A vicious, capricious queen who never dies?"
I nodded. "And there is worse we must face, but I would have us wait until morning. Tonight we will know peace, and it may not remain so come tomorrow. Tonight I would know love and pleasure."
He kissed me gently, moving one hand to cup my cheek. I placed my own hand over is large one, and nuzzled his callused palm. "Virtal, I am your consort. One of two. We are here to love you, guide you, support you. If you do not share the worries I see in those beautiful violet eyes how can I do any of this?"
"My beautiful, steady Lucius. I would not have you know the terrors that are possible, not when nothing is certain."
"Unburden yourself, let me in. We need not decide anything tonight, there is always tomorrow, but tell me what we face so I may better protect you."
I kissed his palm and pulled away, pacing to look down at the plaza, empty now. "Some things I cannot be protected from. If Fisine is powerful enough to raise Antal, she may be able to raise other dead. The city of the dead lays beyond our gates but in this very palace there are three hundred."
"Dead queens? But how?"
"Magic, the most foul, dark kind. They would be minions of Antal and Fisine, locked to her cause. Without their vital organs their souls have been weighed and judged, passed on, and these will be empty shells, nearly impossible to kill so long as her magic fuels them."
"So we kill Fisine."
"Lucius, my sweet warrior," I said without turning back to him. "We cannot sneak in there unseen, nor is there time to send a spy. She has the magic to transport unseen but we do not. We best prepare with one measure that is sacrilegious. For this I will need your help, we must befoul great heroes of old, and no one can know. No one. Only you, me, and Marxim if he can handle this knowledge."
"What must we do?"
"We will rob Antal of her unholy army so that should she rise from death, she is raised alone."