Lions of Parnatha Ch. 03byMedievna©
***Thank you all for the responses! I took suggestions for indications of change in perspective into consideration and implemented tildes (~) for your enjoyment (originally it had just been spacing, but that didn't translate well when I uploaded the stories). All comments, criticisms, and suggestions are more than welcome!***
The investigation lasted for days. The estate was crawling with soldiers and politicians from the forum, and the worst of it was that I was not left alone for a moment. Gaius was convinced that whomever had launched such a bold attack against him and his family would surely strike again, though in a more subtle fashion. I had argued with him at length that I was more than capable of taking care of myself, I had killed one of the intruders after all, but my words fell on deaf ears. I was escorted everywhere I went, and I was thoroughly miserable.
By the end of the week, when it became clear that the crowd would not clear out any time soon and I would inevitably go mad from such restriction, Gaius agreed to send me to one of his cousins' villas. His cousin, Alethea, was a niece of the Emperor, a girl with a fiery temper and a wild personality who was very well known for throwing gaudy, and often times hedonistic, parties.
"You will likely enjoy her," Gaius had remarked with a laugh as I sulked. The idea of being kept by a spoiled princess didn't appeal to me, but I admitted to myself that it was a far better alternative considering the current events.
I arrived at Alethea's grand villa in the late afternoon. The alabaster walls and columns were decked in airy fabrics and flowers, and a good number of servants and porters were moving around the compound like ants, busy with their tasks and oblivious to the nobles in their midst. From the look of the wines and food being ushered to the kitchen, a grand feast was planned.
Aurus uttered a low whistle from where he stood beside me, admiring the view. Gaius had insisted that the big blond man accompany me, which had greatly irked him until he found out where he would be going. Apparently the idea of fucking Alethea and her friends was too good to pass up.
"I guess she's having a party," I said quietly as a trunk was removed from our carriage and brought inside.
"I HOPE she's having a party," Aurus grinned. His eyes had fixated on a young servant girl with broad hips, and he excused himself with a grunt and made straight for her. I shook my head and continued to gaze around me in breathless wonder. Lady Alethea's estate was grandiose and spirited in design. An effigy of the goddess Hastra, deity of pleasure and celebration, rose out of the grand front courtyard, her naked body surrounded in flowers and vines. It was clear that Alethea's reputation was not exaggerated, and I felt trepidation settle into my stomach.
"My dear cousin!" I heard a woman cry, and I turned to see a stunningly beautiful woman walking quickly toward me. She had a voluptuous figure, her pale skin and fine curves accentuated by the dark red fabric she wore. Her chestnut hair was wrapped in curls around the crown of her head, and her eyes were painted in gold. In all, she cut an impressive figure, and I felt myself gape at her as she approached.
Evidently my 'cousin' Alethea did not stand on ceremony, for when she reached me she took hold of my face in her hands and kissed me squarely on the mouth. Her delicate scent of orchids and lavender filled my nose, and I blushed wildly as she grinned at me and laughed.
"My cousin Gaius said you were a bit of a stiff when it came to social niceties," she giggled as she looped my arm in hers, leading me toward the main buildings of her home. "Don't worry, though, we'll have you feeling quite at home in no time."
I wanted to ask her what she meant by Gaius' comment, but was unable to as I was suddenly bombarded with information. Alethea was quite proud of her villa, and made a point of giving me a proper tour of the residence. I was led through the grand halls and common rooms, all architectural detail pointed out to me in detail, from the marbled floors to the soaring columns to the ornate mosaics; the villa was, on a whole, thoroughly impressive.
Alethea ended her tour at my room, which was situated opposite a private sitting room bordering a sparkling water garden. "I've taken the liberty of having the baths prepared for you, and your effects are all placed in your quarters. I'm having a small gathering this evening, my dear, and I would very much like for you and your attendants to be there." Her eyes glinted mischievously as she said this, and I felt myself nod solemnly in response; her statement sounded less like a request than a declaration that I would, in fact, attend her party. She kissed me again, this time her lips lingering on mine, and then turned and left me alone with a smirk.
I stared after her as she disappeared down the hallway, one hand going unbidden to my lips. I had seen the girls at Clotha's Home kiss occasionally, but had never kissed one myself, let alone one who was, for all practical purposes, family. What would Gaius say, if he knew? Shrugging in confusion, I wandered through my quarters to the private bath. The water was already drawn, and I could see steam wafting from it even in the waning afternoon light. Lotus petals were floating on the water's surface, and the heady smell of flowers and musk filled the air. Smiling dreamily, I disrobed and slipped into the bath. I soaked away the pains of travel for a long while until I was interrupted by a servant, who informed me that she had taken the liberty of laying out clothing for the evening's festivities. I thanked her and reluctantly left the bewitching bath.
The robe that had been selected was a faint gold color, filmy material stitched with dark blue silk thread. I donned it and then twisted my hair into a simple bun at the nape of my neck, adorning it with a tiara made of gilt ivy and pearls. As I inspected myself in my burnished mirror, I could hear the sounds of revelry beginning elsewhere in the estate.
Aurus was waiting for me in the sitting room, and he grinned rudely at me as I exited my quarters. "No wonder my brother picked you," he commented with a sly grin.
I lofted an eyebrow. "How about you save your debauchery for the guests, hm?"
"If you insist, my lady," the big blond man laughed in response, offering me his arm.
I hated crowded events like these, but if it would please my hostess I would make a show of appreciation, I decided, and, summoning my courage and mental fortitude, I allowed myself to be escorted to the banquet hall.
The banquet hall was ablaze with color and light in the dying daylight. Delicious smells and sounds wafted through the air, and the servants, all similarly dressed in cream colored shifts, wove their way through the throngs of guests with trays of food and decanters filled with dark red wine.
"Is this really Alethea's idea of a 'small gathering'?" I whispered to Aurus.
He grinned suddenly, and his eyes lit up as his gaze caught hold of someone on the other side of the hall. "I don't see a problem with it, my lady, in fact, I'm looking forward to it." His grin grew wider as Alethea approached us, her arms spread wide.
"My dear cousin! And Aurus Calpernon, you dog! I welcome you both to the Garden of the Gods!" Kissing the two of us soundly, our hostess led us into the hall and to our designated tables. Food was placed before us, our cups were filled to brimming with wine, and the party began.
I had, to date, never experienced anything like it in my life. An offering was made to a large statue of the goddess Hastra, an impassioned plea for unrivaled pleasure and enjoyment, and then musicians struck a lively tune while dancers wheeled and cavorted through the hall. The sights and sounds and food were intoxicating, and before long I found myself, for the very first time in my life, drunk out of my mind. I laughed and grinned like a fool at absolutely nothing as the guests indulged themselves in mindless entertainment.
I was busy trying to pour myself yet another glass of wine when I glanced around and noticed something that struck me as odd. Quite a few of the guests had taken to pleasuring each other, and they were draped around each other, lips locked to lips and hands groping and fondling with abandonment. As I stared in amazement at one particular duo, I noticed that more and more of them were similarly engaged. Suddenly extremely self-aware, I threw my gaze around the room to see if anyone else had noticed what these people were doing.
No one else did notice, however, for nearly everyone was falling all over everyone else in a sudden wild and passionate abandonment. To my left, even, Aurus had his arms around two young women at once, his mouth occupied by one while his hands searched the curves of the other. I wanted desperately to tear my gaze from the scene as embarrassment rose in my throat, but I was completely enthralled. Before my eyes Aurus sat one of the girls on his lap, and her mouth fell open in a small cry as she lowered herself onto him, her hips moving slowly up and down. The other girl pulled down the front of her friend's robes to expose her breasts and began to kiss and suck on her nipples, grinning as her companion moaned in pleasure while she rode Aurus' hard cock. She bounced faster and faster, her breasts moving in tandem, and Aurus gritted his teeth in ecstasy while gripping her ass and hips, forcing her down harder and harder on his shaft. The other girl began to gently stroke herself, one hand cupping one of her breasts as the other slid between her legs and over her clit, which were wide open and in full view for Aurus' enjoyment. Her fingers stroked harder as Aurus fucked her friend, and suddenly the three of them erupted in orgasm in rapid succession. The girls clambered from each other and took turns kissing and licking the blond man's slowly softening cock, which he watched with mild amusement.
All around me I heard similar engagements, people fucking and moaning and kissing, the sound of flesh slapping against flesh and pleasure rocketing through bodies. My head began to swim, and I rose unsteadily to find refuge. Nearly tripping over the mostly naked, writhing bodies around me, I stumbled to the edge of the hall where I leaned heavily against a column to balance myself. As I watched the floor start to spin, someone slid a hand over the small of my back and around my waist, pulling me flush against them. Orchids suddenly filled my nose, and I felt soft lips brush against my neck and shoulders, traveling slowly to my ear.
"I do hope you aren't leaving," a female voice said, husky with drink and lust. I turned slightly and, through bleary eyes, saw Alethea smiling at me. In my drunken haze she looked spectacularly beautiful, her skin and hair glowing in the lantern light. She spun me slowly to face her, letting me lean on her for balance, and kissed me deeply while exploring the front of my robe with deft fingers. I felt the sweat-dampened fabric peel away from my skin as she exposed my small breasts, flicking my nipples with her fingers. "I want to show you the finer parts of my villa," she whispered to me, the corners of her mouth quirked in a smirk.
I wanted to pull away from her, to stumble back to my quarters and fall into a deep slumber. I was embarrassed and mortified by what I had seen. Worse yet, what would Gaius possibly think of this, his own cousin seducing me? As my mind reeled with panic, I felt a heat begin to emanate from my abdomen outward, a familiar feeling from the few times I had experienced it with Gaius, and my hips began to grind slowly against Alethea in an uneven rhythm. My own reaction, my own budding lust in the face of my hostess's seduction, shocked and bemused me so much that all I could do was allow her to continue her slow assault on my sensibilities.
Alethea left a trail of kisses down my neck and collar bone to my breasts, which she licked and nibbled affectionately. My nipples she paid special attention to, nipping and teasing them until they were hard and erect, aching for more. "Touch me," she commanded, and I did, my hands gliding clumsily over her shoulders and hips, up her sides to her ample breasts. I wasn't entirely certain what I should do, so I copied her motions, exposing her and teasing her with my fingers. She let out a breathy moan and pulled me closer to her; clearly I had done something correct. The room had begun to take on a definite spin as her hands lifted my robe to my thighs, searching slowly for my stomach and I can only assume everything below that. I say that I can only assume because I suddenly found my vision fading in and out, and I thought I should mention that I needed to sit down. I felt hands grip my shoulders as my knees gave out from under me, and I believe I hit the floor as consciousness left me, shutting out all noise and light and sound and lulling me into a formless calm.
I groaned and tried to roll over, surprised to find the ground so soft and pleasantly scented. Slowly opening one eye, I realized that I was not lying on the ground, but in bed, sheets and pillows clustered haphazardly around me. It was also no longer dark outside, but rather quite bright; it was likely past high noon, I surmised. Pushing myself up, I immediately winced as my head suddenly pounded rhythmically with the pulse of my heart, and feeling my stomach turn, I reached over the edge of the bed for my chamber pot. Huddled over the pot, my stomach emptied itself and I groaned miserably. What in the name of Rion had happened to me?
The sound of soft footfalls caught my attention, and I glanced up to see Alethea's smiling face. She was dressed in a subdued cream colored robe, her dark hair no longer pulled back.
"What happened?" I mumbled, still hunched over the chamber pot.
Alethea giggled sympathetically and dipped a rag into a bowl of water, ringing it out before applying it to my head and neck. "You took a bit of a spill at the party, dear. Was that your first time drinking?"
I nodded slightly, trying not to aggravate my pounding head, and retched again. "I fell down?" I managed to ask between gasps for air.
"You blacked out, dear. You drank entirely too much and the excitement of... Well, your poor little body had to take a break from the revelry." Rubbing my back, Alethea said thoughtfully, "I forget sometimes that people cannot handle their drink. I will have to be more careful next time."
I screwed up my nose, half at her comment and half at the smell of the chamber pot, and turned my head to look at her through squinted eyes. "I remember people having sex with each other... Did that actually happen?"
Alethea giggled again, an enthralling sound, and nodded. "Yes, dear cousin, it did. I take it that was your first orgy as well."
I hadn't known what it was called, but I nodded slowly. "Does it happen often? People just get drunk and fall all over each other like that?" The memory of it came back to me in pieces, and I felt my cheeks and neck grow warm in embarrassment.
"At my parties it does. Not everyone indulges in that, but my guests know they can abandon themselves to my mother's will and enjoy what the gods created for them." She continued to stroke my hair and back as I stared at her in confusion.
"Don't trouble yourself, my dear cousin. Here, let me have this emptied for you," she said taking the chamber pot from my hands. "You just lay back down and get some more rest. You'll feel better if you do."
I gladly complied, my headache abating a bit as I lay back down and drifted into a strange and fascinating sleep.
Aurus Calpernon stretched languidly from where he lounged on a chaise, running a hand through his hair. He watched in complacency as Gaius Artigro paced angrily around Alethea's sitting room, one hand clenched tightly around the hilt of his short sword. Alethea herself was sitting primly on a low stool, her fingers gently brushing the strings of a small harp, the music climbing the hot afternoon air and creating a drowzy atmosphere.
"And you are certain he was a Hashir?" Gaius growled, pausing before a bust of the Divine Emperor Casero Asteria the Third, whom glared disapprovingly back at him. "You know this for fact?"
Alethea nodded slightly, her eyes leaving the harp to settle on her cousin. "There is no doubt in my mind what he was."
"How could you possibly know that?" Aurus asked lazily, scratching at his stomach.
"I have my ways," Alethea responded with a wink. "My sources are never false."
Gaius swore and ran his hands through his hair. "I thought you said that no one would dare make a move in your home, knowing your connections."
"I had thought as much, Gaius," the woman responded, this time solemnly. "I thought they might be so bold as to send spies, but to send a Hashir?" Frowning, Alethea set down her harp. "Someone wants you very, very dead, cousin. The price of an assassin of that caliber is not light."
"Yes, I'd noticed as much." There was a tense silence amongst the three as Gaius resumed his pacing, his usually rebellious hair particularly disheveled. From the look of his wan features and the circles under his eyes, he hadn't been sleeping well. "You don't think anyone in the forum would dare hire a Hashir, do you?" the man queried to no one in particular.
Aurus and Alethea both shrugged, and Gaius grunted.
"He was particularly interested in your wife," Alethea said quietly after another tense moment.
Gaius stopped pacing and growled, his already tight grip around his sword hilt becoming iron. "Why didn't you kill him?!" he roared.
"Calm down, Gaius. I cannot do that and you know it. It isn't my place. Besides, I protected her from him in the best way that I possibly could." This last bit she said with a sly wink.
Gaius raised an eyebrow in confusion, and Aurus, suddenly remembering that particular event, sat up in excited animation, a grin spread across his face. "Yeah, fuck Gaius! That was the... the... it was fucking hot!"
Gaius turned an unamused glare on Alethea, who smiled brightly. "Your wife is quite the little seductress herself, my dear cousin. I think you will be quite pleased when you finally bed her."
"Alethea!" the blue-eyed man sputtered, his mouth falling open in shock. "You promised me you wouldn't!"
Alethea only shrugged. "It was the most practical way to keep the Hashir away from her. She was trying to leave the party, and I couldn't keep an eye on her if she wandered away from me. Besides," she added, "I didn't get very far with her before she was overcome by all the wine she had. The poor thing cannot hold her drink at all."
Gaius sputtered in exasperation as Aurus laughed and commented on my sloppy performance. Glaring at both his cousin and his friend, he did his best to ignore their mirth. "Will you go to your mother with this information?" he finally asked Alethea.
Pursing her lips, Alethea shook her head. "I don't know yet, Gaius. I hate to involve her if I don't have to. I'll have my contacts in the temples put on alert, perhaps someone will hear something of note. I take it you've already bought ears and tongues in the forum and the university?"
"You really do have a way of making reconnaissance sound absolutely degrading, do you know that?" Gaius sighed and nodded. "Yes, I've already made inquiries. If it's a Hashir, though, I don't know who could possibly afford that kind of service. Or who would have those kinds of connections."
"Don't worry, Gaius, you will whet your appetite yet," Alethea said with a knowing smile. "The winds of fate are resolute."
Aurus quirked a brow at the woman, frowning. "She's awfully creepy when she talks like that, isn't she?"