Disclaimer & Copyright: This story deals with Adult content like, graphic scenes of violence, sex (between two women yeah), drugs, incest (nothing graphic), heterosexual activity (hinted at but not graphic), any resemblance to any other story is strictly coincidental. If this is not your cup of coffee then go and drink tea. Otherwise read on. Comments to Lucienstclare@yahoo.com be nice this took ages to write and it hurt my head and my shoulders but I would also welcome constructive criticism.
This story is very roughly based on Tomyris (Tiirmirise) Queen of the Massagetae as recorded by Herodotus the Historian in the Histories. The Amazons of legend were supposedly descended from the Scythians and their Massagetae cousins. This story is a blend of fact, legend, fiction and in some places pure fantasy. I have taken some liberties with the customs of the Massagetae. Some I made up and some are taken from Nigeria and Dahomey or Cameroon as it is now known was an African Empire. The Kings of Dahomey maintained an elite bodyguard which was exclusively comprised of women. These female warriors were the only ones the Kings trusted to protect him and his family in the Palace. Palace politics was what actually decided the succession and such women were therefore held in the highest esteem since they effectively decided who would be king.
Enter the Falcon
“They have no right breast, for while they are yet babies their mothers make red-hot a bronze instrument constructed for this very purpose and apply it to the right breast and cauterise it, so that its growth is arrested and all its strength and bulk are diverted to the right shoulder and right arm.”
“I am Tiirmirise of the tribe of the Massagetae from the plains of Sarmatia and these were the words of Hippocrates the Greek. It is true that some of the people who dwelt on the plains who were descended from a warrior race whose name has been lost in antiquity. Some say we are descended from Scythians, a horse riding people who had mated with the Amazons of Dahomey a fierce warrior race of women.
It is also true that the Sarmatians fight and live on horseback and every Sarmatian can ride before they can walk. However it is not true that “No girl shall wed till she has killed a man in battle.”
That is a romantic notion and were it true our tribe would not only be diminished in number but breed a race of killers and murderers with little appreciation for the fine arts, music, engineering, working the land and all the other things we Sarmatians are famous for.
The people of the plains are generally a peaceful people, we believe we are the guardians of nature. We worship the one God who is neither male nor female but we do not sacrifice Humans well except in special circumstances.
We are often confused with the flaxen haired pagan Sauromantians of the Steppes. We are not of the Steppes but from the bowels of Africa itself. We are not of the Beriberi nor the Hellenes although we are related to them, but from the most ancient of races.
Our skin is black like ebony, smooth, polished and shiny, our hair is not like the tight soft and curly kind like our brothers and sisters in the West of Africa but neither is it as straight as that of our cousins in the East of Africa. We are more bulky and more muscled than our cousins in the North. Fleet of foot and Quick of mind.
We are the first-born. It is from us that all the other races are descended. The legends say that after we were driven from the sight of God for our sins, we moved Northwards to the Northern parts of Africa away from the Jungles and Long wide Racing rivers with their thunderous water falls to the more moderate climes.
Hot Summers, Mild Winters, seasons changed as we settled into the land and owned it. At first our people were of one tribe the Massagetae but as we intermarried with the other people on the plains around us we began to see ourselves as Sarmatian.”
Tiirmirise stopped dictating to and turned on her couch a gift from one of her beloved subjects. It was made of wood, cushioned with feathers and covered with kid hide treated with perfumes and oils. Tiirmirise felt her time was near and she should write her story to leave it for posterity to her people. She smiled at the young one who took down the tale, fascinated enraptured and more than a little excited.
She spat blood into a bowl and a slave wiped the spittle from her face with a wet cloth. Her right arm was now paralysed from a stroke, old age was doing what her enemies could not.
“In my youth my fondest wish was to become a warrior. I longed for Iye - glory. Only a warrior has status amongst the Massagetae because a warrior protects the people from harm and those who would do them harm. A warrior’s name is remembered long after their footsteps have faded from the earth.
My father however had other ideas about attaining status and glory. I joined the family business with him and my brother. We sold horses and we were good at it too.
Father saw nothing wrong being a merchant and paying obeisance to a greedy lord. Often though we were richer than our masters and we were obliged to hide our wealth for fear they would kill us and take it all away. Our overlord, Magba the great or in our language Magba Massinassa (Massinassa meaning Great and Magba meaning receiver) was an ambitious warlord with an over inflated sense of self worth. The only thing great about him was his girth.
He was greedy, selfish and murderous. It was because of his wicked ways that I was sacrificed for my family’s protection. It was because of him that my father Jbenga now contracted a marriage with Qastursh the King of Sarmatia.
Now I had to put away my weapons and don silks and transparent linens obtained from far off lands. Now I had to put my lover aside and go from being the pampered daughter of a rich merchant to being one of many wives to Qastursh King of Sarmatia and ruler of the plains. However he was not King of the Massagetae.
That distinction belonged to my Uncle Abike, but only by virtue of the fact that he was the most highly ranked Massagetae Noble in Sarmatia. My marriage to Qastursh would make me the highest ranking Massagetae noble in the land and therefore leader of the Massagetae people an honour Abike was quite happy to relinquish.
As I moved morosely to my destiny at the great Palace at Ado, the first Capital city of Sarmatia, the second capital city was Ekiti. King Qastursh was also known as the King of two cities since the two largest warring tribes in Sarmatia the Massagetae and the Sarmatiae could not decide on which should be the capital.
The great Palace at Ado was built for beauty the name of the builder forgotten in legend. It was not meant to be a defensive structure. Consequently there were statues everywhere of ebony bronze or white marble, smooth and polished. There were fountains gold and silver, water falls and little pools teeming with fish of different colours, shapes and sizes. Everywhere there were beautiful birds like peacocks who came and went as they chose, there were even a few large female panthers and leopards, old yet tame.
I never went near them though others did. Once a wild animal always a wild animal. One of the King’s wives was especially fond of a rather large cobra which she kept entwined about her person. As she was one of the few women to have borne Qastursh a child she was generally feared for her magic’s.
Helle was a frightening woman. She was also beautiful and surprisingly overtly feminine unlike the androgynous women who had given Qastursh children. Her skin was pasty white, like dough, flawless and perfect, her eyes were yellow and slitty and dare I say it distinctly reptilian.
I reckon she either hypnotised the King into sleeping with her or else threatened him with her pet cobra. Everyone paid her a lot of respect and kept well clear of her. All that hissing and lip flicking with her tongue was extremely unsettling. When she bent her head and licked my face I knew the urge to urinate on the spot. I was that terrified.
As we spoke she had managed to join the two of us together so that her cobra entwined its sinuous coils around us, her pupils dilated from whatever drug she was taking her head as bald as the eunuchs. It was not the woman who frightened me it was the bloody snake undulating as though about to strike at any moment. I stood stock still, the warm slithering creature sending chills down my spine as its scales brushed my skin.
“You should not fear Asssrel, he isss fairly harmless. You should however be more afraid of his little brotherssss.” She lifted her other arm around which was curled a bright yellow evil looking snake which hissed at Asrel who quickly unwound his coils and fled.
Helle made a funny sibilant sound which I can only assume passed for laughter “A bite from my little ray of sunshine here can kill you here and now. Before anyone got to you. I shuddered as she kissed her little ray of sunshine and took a large stride as far away as I could. I did not normally show fear and prided myself on always being able to keep my composure but venomous snakes? I wasn’t hanging around for that.
She continued speaking to me whilst petting the wretched creature.
“I off course am immune having spent my life ingesting venom. It gives me….” She sighed and inhaled deeply as though enjoying a sexual moment “ A lovely feeling.”
In that instance I realised she was getting off on my fear. I took my leave and moved away as sedately as I could.
Our food was prepared carefully each woman could have whatever she desired, any type of food from her homeland and there were many types of rich food, and sweetmeats served. Every kind of intoxicating drink and herbs. Some of the herbs were smoked, some were ground into a powder and inhaled. Whichever process one used the effect was a soporific feeling of general well being and lethargy that made the days shorter because in the Harem boredom was your greatest enemy. It was truly a haven of luxury and decadence. Most of the women thought nothing of walking around naked.
They would if they were a concubine wear rings in their ears and nose and in the nipples or silver bars depending on how valued they were. Only a wife of a Massagetae warrior could wear gold rings or piercings. Anyone who touched such a person without permission was subject to instant execution. Qastursh was not Massagetae so I was not opportuned to wear gold piercings. A fact my mother lamented. The Massagetae were extremely protective of their wives and it was a law that was rigidly enforced on the plains.
In the harem many women had painted faces, Kohl, antimony or rouge or some other cosmetic or heady perfume. Their limbs were oiled and arranged to be displayed in the best possible way to catch not only the eunuchs attention but that of each other since the women took lovers amongst themselves.
A practice the Eunuchs tried to discourage for obvious reasons by sowing discord and jealousy amongst such lovers. Belly rings, anklets bracelets and necklaces might be the only other adornment such a woman wore. Others were more modest and I use modest in the loosest possible term.
Everyone went about in transparent clothing of linen or silk all of which was too show off their beauty in every possible way. They were possibly the most narcissistic bunch of people you would ever have a mind to meet. By the time I had been there a week the whole novelty wore off and I was jaded at fifteen.
The Eunuchs provided sexual services to the King’s wives in orgies that were openly held in the harem every night. The eunuchs were only deprived of their ability to father children but not to perform. Naturally the eunuchs had a job where they could eat, smoke. drink and fuck as many beautiful women as they wished were loathed to change the status quo.
The only condition was that a King’s wife was a virgin when she first arrived so he could be sure the heir to the throne was of the blood and not some mongrel by blow. Even amongst the women they had many lovers and toys all to amuse themselves. The more intellectually minded ones might deign to listen to music or poetry or study books.
In this type of scenario of course there was a lot of intrigue and plotting. The mother of the heir was the most powerful woman in the harem. The only other woman as powerful was the Ada. The King’s eldest daughter. Therefore a lot of children died mysterious deaths, a lot of people were poisoned or beheaded the victim of some nefarious plot.
In all his life despite the almost 300 women he had in his harem Qastursh had fathered only 5 daughters on almost 300 women. Further it was rumoured there was another harem.
An even larger harem, one where Qastursh went into dressed as a woman.
Our great king as I was to later discover preferred men. Tall, strong, bulky well built men with rippling biceps and toned bodies. Still I was presented to Qastursh with the 9 other virgins, 10 virgins a year were presented to the King for every year since he ascended the throne.
I still remembered that day like it was yesterday. Everyone was nervous. We had all heard tales of the mighty Qastursh and his mighty sword (I believe the Eunuchs sought to frighten us) none of us had yet become aware of his sexual peccadilloes.
I had expected the king to be like my father or brother. Tall, strong, well muscled despite doing merchants work. It was therefore with great trepidation that I stood in the great hall waiting anxiously for the king.
He was nothing like I imagined. The best word to describe him would be interesting. He was yet in the prime of life yet he was very fat and womanly. His man breasts were bigger than my girlie ones. He had a bulging stomach which wobbled in different rolls and was as bald as you like with a great shiny pate which shone in the glow of the candlelight.
His eyes were painted with kohl his cheeks with antimony and he wore the bored expression of a whore who realises she is not going to get what she wants. He also smoked a big water pipe. Its heady fumes filled the air as did the heavy scent of perfumes which made me nauseous. Behind him sat many arrogant bored looking young men wearing short kilted linen cloths like the Gypsos.
The cloths were transparent and the whole world could see their male organs many of which were pierced with silver rings or silver bars . Their bodies were painted with henna or oiled, bodies lean and muscled bronzed from the sun. Those that were slaves had their nipples pierced. It was the custom in Sarmatia to pierce the nipples of a body slave be he male or female and adorn them with silver rings.
I had seen naked men before, After all as the daughter of a merchant I had often gone to the slave markets with my father and brother and naturally sometimes in the fields where I practiced the men exercised naked especially the Hellenes. However I had never seen so many naked men just lounging around posing, thrusting out their genitalia without a care in the world.
The King’s Prime Vizier received us presented us and allocated each of us a day and a time when he would visit us. The Midwives had made their calculations as to when we would be the most fertile. We were each allocated 3 days after which his majesty would choose at his leisure when he would visit us and when he would not.
Before I entered the Harem I cut my hair to symbolise my crossing the threshold to becoming a woman. It would have been done when I was eighteen, taking a wife or husband or after making a kill in battle if I was under sixteen which ever event came earlier.
In the harem I continued to wear my leather trousers and a fitted vest tunic which stopped at just below my waist and showed off my biceps and proudly barred my scarred breast.
When I first arrived at the harem all the women stared at me. Some giggled quietly others stared in shock and others laughed openly and yet many others looked at me with naked lust.
Most of the Eunuchs hissed and avoided me only except one, an old man and low ranking vizier with whom I got on extremely well with. His name was Vayanes.
Vayanes seemed to have a fixation with having a Sarmatian or Massagetae born and bred of the plains on the throne. He was obsessed with it. I am ashamed to say I used his obsession to further my own ambitious ends. In truth what matter where a person is born or who sired them, the important thing is what manner of person are they.
If Qastursh had married a Massagetae wife older than me, She would have taken the role of Massagetae Queen and I would have been nothing more than just another Massagetae Princess.
As a Massagetae Princess I could have whiled away my time in the soporific splendours of Palace life and drowned my self in hedonistic pleasures. However I was a Massagetae Queen and my duties to my tribe fell on my shoulders so that the council of Massagetae elders insisted I continue with my training as a Massagetae aristocrat.
Vayanes arranged for me to have fitness training in the morning before the rising of the dawn. This was followed by sword play, archery lessons and other weapons used by the people of the plains. In the afternoon after a light lunch and a light nap I studied military treatise, Legal writings, diplomatic scrolls which had treaties and writings on economics, engineering and trade.
In the evenings I would relax by going to the Hammam and bathing. Whilst listening to music my body slave, Soraia, a Parthian, would give me the most delicious massage to ease aching muscles that always ended with a little sex play. Well I am not exactly a temple maiden and besides it was fun.
I loved the Hammam in the evening when it was quiet and just after it had been cleaned and the waters were changed.
The Hammam consisted of a dry steam room where you sat and sweated then you went into the humid steam room, here soaped and watered, a slave scrubbed your skin till it was glistening and shinning.
This was followed by swim in the warm water pool which after drying off you were oiled and massaged.
Alternatively you could jump into the cold water pool but I usually did that in the morning to wake myself up before my exercise regimen. I preferred to laze in the warm water, listening to music having sex with the bath attendants and eating fresh fruit.
I steered well away from the eunuchs and the King’s wives I wanted no part in their intrigues. Many women died in the Harem under mysterious circumstances and it was not my destiny to become one of them.
At night I slept with one eye open. Assassination attempts were not uncommon. I myself had been assaulted several times and oftentimes the fact that I was a light sleeper saved my life.
I remained like so in the Harem until I reached my majority and was deemed of age to become a wife to the King. A day before I was to visit the King, the Head Eunuch, Khalifar brought a Mid-wife to come and examine me to make sure that my hymen was in tact and I was still a virgin.
I felt embarrassed yet she continued to educate me and explain the workings of my body in a way no woman had even my mother. It is always assumed that a woman will explain these things to her daughter but I believe women tend to be sufficiently vague about such things when they have to explain them to their own children.
At least my mother was sufficiently vague. The midwife impersonal yet calm and very frank about the whole subject made it sound like we were discussing nothing more consequential than the sale of a bale of cloth. Her next words however shocked me although I did try to hide it unsuccessfully.
“It is not enough to close your eyes and lie with your legs spread hoping for the best. You will be the one to take the lead and you must learn to master him in the bedroom if you are to achieve all that you wish.”
I was absolutely terrified of what to do. I had no strategy, no words to say to the king, no plan of action. It never occurred to me to fear my first time of being with a man because I had always planned to marry a woman according to the customs of our people.
My father had sent me a bottle of wine, it was no bottle of wine from Sarmatia but a Persian brew. A very strong brew. I was not sure whether he meant me to drink it and pass out or whether I was to use it to incapacitate the King.
My mother’s present was curious but now I think about it wise in the extreme and extremely cunning. She sent me a present to give to the King. I was not to open it but merely to give it to him and tell him it was from me. The present was a huge painting of a very muscular aroused male.”
Nine months after her visit to the King’s bed, Tiirmirise gave birth to her first child the crown prince and heir to the throne Spargapises and all Sarmatia rejoiced. The young man inherited his mother’s good looks and his father’s temperament despite this he was his mothers pride and joy. Qastursh surprised his people when he disbanded his harem of women except for the five who had borne him children.
Tiirmirise could deal with his male favourites, ultimately they were no competition but she would not tolerate a female rival who might bear the king a son and thus be a threat to her own son, not because she coveted the throne but because such a person would inevitably plot to remove him from his position as heir and the only way to do that was to kill him.
The intrigue at court produced its first high profile casualty since the birth of the crown prince and the victim was none other than Perquites. The King’s one time lover and Prime vizier of Ado, suspicion immediately fell on the queen and she was summoned to the King’s private chambers.
“Did you kill him?” Qastursh enquired in his refined high pitched nasal whine.
Tiirmirise laughed “Hardly, Perquites was an arrogant young fool but I did not kill him. I had no need to. The two people who hold your ear are myself and Perquites if anything I would be afraid someone would try to kill me.”
The moment she said the words she wished she could have taken them back for she realised she had put herself in danger by admitting to have any influence over the king. Qastursh dismissed her angrily and she bowed and left. She was not surprised when she received a message via one of the eunuchs.
“Lady I have a message for you.”
“Speak” She commanded imperiously
“I come from one who wishes to remain hidden that he will support you if you take the throne.”
Tiirmirise laughed “When will people learn that I will never betray Qastursh. Tell your master I say this. If you wish to kill the king you will have to kill me first for I will never betray my husband never.”
“The people love you. You could take the throne and no one would think badly of you.”
“Were I to take the throne they would kill me and use my son as a figurehead to rule and kill him later when he had served their purpose. Besides for all his faults I like Qastursh he has become a dear friend and I would never betray him.”
As she spoke she knew it to be the truth. Senates another of Qastursh favourites had been behind that particular plot. Qastursh had a spy in her chambers who reported back everything she did to the king including that particular conversation to the king.
As the number of Viziers who died from poisonings, stabbings and stray arrows increased Tiirmirise had taken to wearing her leather armour and a dress sword or dagger. She had food tasters whom she lost at least once a month.
On the advice of her father and Vayanes she increased security around herself and Spargapises introducing the Massagetae warriors into the palace to form her own personal bodyguard. She had grown up with many of them and she knew she could trust them.
When Qastursh summoned her to his chambers she was surprised for they rarely spoke. Qastursh had returned to his male lovers and she amused herself with body slaves either purchased from the Bazaar or the bath attendants like Soraia. She idly wondered which diabolical coup plot she was about to be accused of conspiring in.
There were always whispers and rumours, plots and schemes, viziers, governors generals every one was at it. Ado was a hot bed of political intrigue.
“My love, you come to my bedchamber clad for battle. Are you planning on killing someone?” Qastursh looked worried as he regarded his fiercesome looking queen.
Tiirmirise did not answer the question. She’d been accused of treason numerous times to mention already, by Ninyas, Qastursh brother, Qastursh himself and other members of the political elite. She’d been under house arrest, prison and even sentenced to death twice only to be rescued at the last moment.
She did not trust her husband and she did not trust her tongue. Consequently she had become a woman of few words.
Suddenly he burst into tears. Tiirmirise was not impressed and sat watching him stony faced.
“I don’t know who to trust. There is a hideous plot afoot.” His many chins quivered as he sniffed and wiped his nose with silk cloth. A habit he had picked up from the Oriental Merchants.
“ The Viziers and Governors they mean to murder me. I must send them away. I must send them all away.” He started to sob and sniffle once more. “ I had a dream” he sobbed “Last night I had a dream.”
Tiirmirise flinched He’d been having the same dream for many a night now. Nigh on two moons.
“I dreamt I sent you and our Spargapises away and a man I loved he killed me in a most painful manner.”
She waited for him to compose himself before saying quietly. “You never told me that before you always said I left you.”
“I lied.” he said dismissively waving the snotty silk rag he’d just used to wipe his nose.
“What shall I do?”
Tiirmirise shrugged “What you normally do. Execute the Prime Vizier and other random aristocrats until everyone is too scared blink.”
“What if I execute the wrong people?”
“Well that has never bothered you before.” She said dryly “Why only last month you had my head in a noose when three days before that I had just rescued you from an assassination attempt during a royal hunt.”
“You are being deliberately obstructive.” He fanned himself.
“Well I do have an idea but you will have to give me your royal Imperium and also get the viziers in the High council to consent.”
“It is almost impossible to get that bunch of bickering old men to agree to anything.” He said glumly
“Well intrigue is your arena. I am not a politician.”
The sun has started its journey across the darkening sky, the hour is late, the day just ending. I sip from an expensive goblet of wine and ponder my fate as I stare at the parchment under my feathered quill. How do I pen my thoughts into words that you can understand? Even I find it hard to believe and do I not call the experiences my own.
My name is Aeslynn Votigernsdottir and I come from the frozen wastes of the North, a land which the Sarmatians call the land of the Angles. The winters are long and cold and the days are short. Sunlight is rare during winter and many are drawn to suicide by a lack of sunlight others take herbs to combat the black depression it brings on.
In the Summer our days are so long that the sun begins to set at midnight and night can sometimes last only a few hours. The beauty of the Aurora borealis can only be seen in our lands and our people believe it is a time when the gods would meet on earth.
I am a princess though I would not say that we were as rich as some of the royal families I have seen in my travels. I am the only daughter of the High Thane Votigern Redbeard.
In our country I was known as Aeslynn the fair and I had an elder brother called Leif. My father Votigern Votigernson was a raider by trade and I grew up in his Long hall. My mother was the daughter of the middle Eastern prince Median and her name was Soraya.
Where most in my country were red haired and brown eyed my mother was dark and exotic with black wavy hair and violet eyes. I inherited my blue eyes from her but my flaxen hair of my father. Where mine was golden like summer corn my brother Leif’s was white like snow but as he grew older his hair turned red like my father’s beard.
My mother was very different from the other women. She was not into agriculture and animal husbandry but more into the healing arts. She taught me the use of herbs and plants. How to set bone, manipulate muscular flesh and sew cuts, clean wounds and birth babies. Her final gift to me before she was taken away in tragedy was a silver falcon with its wings outstretched.
“Long ago we lived in a beautiful land,” She said and Leif and I loved to hear that story. It was the usual myth of a land overflowing with milk and honey. “…we were banished but the keeper of the silver Falcon was the Handmaiden, who would one day come and tame the Falcon and bring peace to the people of the Plains.”
Naturally I thought my mother quite crazy. There were no plains in the lands of the Angles. Mountains? Yes. Rivers and waterways? Yes but plains? I did not interrupt for I loved to hear the story of the very old prophecy about the ancient bird made from metal that fell from the skies.
I said she was taken away from us in tragedy. It was the day of my fourteenth birthday when raiders came and ambushed us. My cousin Eriksson and my brother Leif managed to escape. My father was out hunting when they came.
They came in black boats, yellow men with black hair and squat stocky figures. They looted and burnt and pillaged. My mother Soraya died defending me but to no avail for they carried me off into slavery. My last view of my homeland was of my mother Soraya lying on the ground her head split by an Axe.
They did not rape me because they were slavers and fourteen year old virgins brought premium prices so I was treated better than others. Many died on the crossing their bodies were tossed off the ship like so much rubbish. When we arrived in the slave market I was sold into a house of ill repute.
However I tended the brothel owner’s gout for the promise that he would not use me in the brothel. I was lucky he was an honourable old man and kept his word. He kept me there for several years and was unfailingly kind to me. However when he died his niece inherited his estate under Gyptian law and she was off genteel breeding. She did not want to run a brothel and broke up that business.
Once again I was to be sold. This time for a lot of money to a fat twisted brothel keeper who would use me sorely. He did not take me himself instead he sent me to service my first customer a Massagetae Sarmatian and I was terrified.
You must understand I had never seen one such as him before. His skin was as black as ebony and his head was bald as you like. I who was used to men of fair skin, with long hair and bearded faces had never seen a man with no hair. His skin was smooth and his body was lean and muscular with huge biceps and chest muscles. His hands looked large enough to crush my skull between them and yet he too was a kind master. He did not hurt me and it could have been much worse.
When I turned nineteen he arranged that I be brought to his country estate to live as his slave. As one of many body slaves and bath attendants in Sarmatia my duties were light and I resolved to try to find a way to escape. I had seen what happened to those who failed. They had their legs or jaws broken by the same master I had considered to be gentle. However thoughts of escape soon fled from my mind when I discovered I was pregnant.
My master no longer came as often to visit me instead he amused himself with the others in his harem and I settled into looking after myself and my baby. I could no longer take those risks which I normally would. I had been with my master a year when I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Nitocris. She was like the daughter of the sun god Apollo.
Her hair was as black as midnight, and in her I could see my mother. She inherited neither her father’s ebony skin nor my fair white one but a swarthy caramel mixture of us both. Her eyes were brown like her father’s though but her father allowed me to name her and I called her Nitocris which in the language of the Angles meant “Mother returns”.
I nursed her for a year. I loved to hear the sound of mama from her lips and kissed her when she fell from her unsteady legs. I thank God I was there to see her first smile, her first baby steps. Her father doted on her and for awhile I actually thought everything would be alright.
I would not say I had any actual relationship with him. I was never even told his given name and at all times I had to call him Master.
The only use he required of me was bed play and that was only at night. The rest of the day I worked with the embroiders or those who sew cloths. I was never given anything too strenuous because I was pregnant. Nor was I allowed to work with the healers in case I put the child in danger.
I had learnt to speak Massagetae because that was the language spoken on the estate and I also learned a smattering of Sarmatian which I picked up when we went to a far flung bazaar or medina. Although the two languages were similar one was a dialect of the other.
It therefore came as a shock to me when my master, told me he would be selling me. He had acquired a Massagetae wife and she would not tolerate my presence in his house.
However what was to break my heart was that Nitocris would remain with him and I, a slave with no rights and not even considered human would be sold back into slavery. The Falcon my mother gave me I hung around her neck and entered a life of abject misery.
My Massagetae Master sold me to another merchant who sold me to brothel keeper in Gypsos and this time life was very different. However once more I thanked the gods I was sold to a well run establishment for rich and exclusive clientele and once more my Healing arts and skills kept me from being used as a courtesan.
Although at first I was schooled in the arts of a body slave and taught how to service both men and women. I learned how to arouse and titillate. How to adorn myself with perfumes and oils. How to dance, play the Sitar and make charming conversation. Which drugs were aphrodisiacs and which would increase sexual vigour.
The brothel keeper quickly decided I made more money for him as a physician for hire than as a courtesan. Also it was cheaper to use my services for his courtesans than to pay an outside physician.
Life held no meaning for me I simply wanted to survive. I needed to survive so that one day I could find my daughter. I had lost my home, my mother, my daughter even the name I was born with. I was no longer allowed to go by the name of Aeslynn my new master had given me the name Saronne in the language of the Gypsos it meant “Seducer” but in the language of the Massagetae it meant “Handmaiden.”
On the wings of the Falcon
Tiirmirise moved with a breathtaking ruthlessness that stunned the Sarmatian court. She called a meeting and summoned back Qastursh’s father’s viziers. Men and Women loyal to the old king and his line. She then closed down his male harem, despite his protests.
She had to it was a viper‘s a nest of intrigue and plotting. She also dismissed his favourites and put in his more reliable ministers. At first things went well. The King and Queen worked well together and things seemed to improve.
They had a full harvest, the Bazaars and markets were bursting with goods, the number of beggars and vagabonds on the roads decreased because there was work to be had. Qastursh managed to negotiate for the oriental silk route to pass through a portion of Sarmatia. The Caravans were happy for this to happen because Sarmatia was a safe civilised country under the King’s Peace.
In honour of Qastursh’s birthday Tiirmirise presented him with a behemoth of a statute, one which dwarfed the Colossus at Rhodes. Twice as Large and Twice as wide. The Ivory and Gold Image was of a young obviously virile Qastursh. He loved it and showered her with wealth and power and with her success came Jealousy and envy.
In her twenty ninth year, Spargapises was fourteen and then the Nesians swooped down from the lush plains of the north. Big Yellow haired barbarians with long heavy Spears and bulging muscles. They ravaged the land striking terror into the Northern populace and disrupting the silk trade. The war was going badly and eventually Tiirmirise went to the front leaving Qastursh to do what he did best persuade the Viziers to release money to fund the war.
Tiirmirise was a natural war leader. She was trained by the Massagetae to fight from the day she could walk and had been fighting for her very life since she was sixteen from the day Qastursh had pissed himself when they had been the object of an assassination attempt by the Emperor of Sirahn.
Their private bedchambers invaded by assassins Tiirmirise had fought them off. There had been numerous little skirmishes with robbers and encounters with rogue elements on the borders of Sarmatia and she had won all of them.
This was the first time however that she would be organising a full blown battle with thousands of men involved. She had able generals to assist her, men and women more experienced than herself. She was not too proud to take their advice either.
Already the war was at a critical stage. The Nesians had swooped down from their ancestral home flooding the plains and looking for somewhere to settle.
They were tall black skinned warriors who would come at them running with long spears, naked painted men with yellow hair and flashing eyes. Their roaring war cries had terrified her armies who had already suffered several defeats and who now stood before her mired deep in uncertainty. It was why she had decided to go to the front herself. Well there was also the fact that one of the Sarmatians best generals, Adeinkes had been killed in battle by the barbarian horde.
They stood there before her trembling in a wave of icy terror. All except the 500 female Massagetae warriors. Their faces were stony their expressions grim. These were the best warriors in the land. They feared nothing and no one. Death in battle was a lovers fatal embrace they welcomed.
Tiirmirise surveyed her army from her black desterier Mordenes. and took off her helmet so they could all see her. Criers relayed her message to those who could not hear all her words.
“Men of the Plains, I hear you ran from these yellow haired bastards like a slave runs from his master. No More! I hear you ran from their overgrown toothpicks in Panic and terror. I say No More!”
If you Men of Sarmatia, will not go forward and fight then we the women will. I have brought with me this day 500 Massagetae and they are all of them ready to die for their country, for their children, for their sisters, their brothers, for their mothers, their fathers, their wives, their lovers and their husbands.
If you Men of Sarmatia will not fight this band of slack jawed wild men, then we will. We will fight them and we will beat them. We will fight and fight until the last one of us falls in battle. We will be covered in glory as will you if you are with me. But if you run in shame, your disgrace will follow you even unto eternity. The choice is yours. Everlasting Shame or Eternal Glory. Now who is with me?”
She was answered with a resounding cheer. Her battle plan was simple. They charged the Nesians on their horses and suddenly wheeled around splitting the forces into two. One to the left and one to the right all day they repeated the same manoeuvre and peppered the Nesians with arrows as they retreated. When they charged it was into the side of the horde. They never actually engaged their long lances en masse. Every so often though the steel lances pierced into unprotected flesh and when she decided the Nesian infantry was exhausted (the Nesians where not horse riders) She ordered the infantry to engage them with their short curving swords which they could use for both slashing and stabbing.
The Massagetae fought with a frightening military precision. The front line battled and when the unit leader called out the front line would fall to the back to rest and the next row of women rested refreshed and ready would step into take their place.
The Nesians driven away from the silk route Tiirmirise refused to allow her army to give chase and risk leaving the route vulnerable. At night they built a temporary wooden forte. It would form the base of her military operations till she could secure the silk route and drive the Nesians back to wherever it was they came from.
She sent a message of her success back to Qastursh and there was rejoicing in the Capital city of Ado. The Nesians did not return the next day but Tiirmirise was reluctant to remain on the field of battle for long. The risk of disease was high so after burning and burying the bodies of the fallen they moved forward onto the open Savannah plains.
The open plains stretched on. There was nowhere for an ambush to be laid and they could easily sight any movements on the horizon nevertheless they were in a state of war so she kept them all in strict formation. As they travelled through the lands the geography of the land began to shape. Even the battle weary Tiirmirise took time to appreciate the gentle rolling hills and the sheer beauty of the land. The harvest had been collected so there was ample food to feed her band of 5000.
Although that task of itself t had been a logistics nightmare. Nnandi, a Massagetae unit leader, hardworking patient and determined always seemed to find a way to solve the feeding, training, clothing and medical needs of 5000 adults. The toughest part of the campaign was security.
The Nesian army were not stupid and she already had to execute several of their spies and scouts who had ventured into their camp. In the end she ordered the camp followers, prostitutes, wives & lovers to either join the army or get lost. If a woman was not willing to fight she was sent away. If she stayed she trained with the Massagetae whose ranks swelled to almost 1000.
The Massagetae were Tiirmirise's personal bodyguard made up of men and women (but mostly women) dressed in black, so that when they bled no one was aware of it thus ensuring the could fight till the bitter end. (It also made for high casualties since it was difficult to discover entrance and exit wounds.)
The Sarmatian army had red cloaks and the royal family wore purple. Apart from acting as her bodyguard they also acted as spies and assassins. Their main strengths were speed, stealth, agility and incredible skill with the bow and arrow on horseback.
On the battlefield they were assassins. Originally their main role was to seek out the enemy general, or whoever was inspiring the enemy army to fight well and exterminate him or her. However as she came to rely on them in her battles and their numbers increased they evolved into a very effective army force with different specialists.
One of their specialist areas was archery. They used composite bows, Unlike the long bows the Sarmatian archers used which could travel vast distances and required strength and stable ground, the composite bow was not as powerful as the long bow the men used but as a smaller bow which did not require a lot of strength to use and was invariably more accurate but over a shorter distance.
They also used throwing knives and were trained in hand to hand combat techniques obtained via their trade relationship with the oriental caravans. The Massagetae were just as deadly with a sword blade as they were with a knitting needle or a fan. Sophisticated killers, with frightening discipline and ruthless self control.
They had been travelling the country side for weeks. Tiirmirise was beginning to get worried for despite the best efforts of Qastursh the Viziers were being extremely economical with the treasury’s gold. They had to be since most of the treasury gold came from taxes and not conquest. If taxes were too high it could damage the economy and the people would revolt. She was therefore almost relieved when they sighted the Nesians who had the high ground.
The Nesians were a race of wandering nomads who whenever they perceived there was a weakness on the throne of Sarmatia or any other nearby countries decided to invade. She was not surprised by this invasion. Everyone supposed Qastursh to be a weak king and with the introduction of his favourites at court position and power was handed to young inexperienced pretty boys whose only skill as far she could tell could be bought in any insalubrious neighbourhood in the city for a few coins.
The Nesian barbarians had simply acted on assumptions that everyone else made. She knew it was important to crush them and put the fear of God into her surrounding neighbours so they did not take liberties. Tiirmirise swore when she realised the Nesians had the high ground.
She was not prepared to lose her army on a suicidal uphill charge. Further this Nesian army outnumbered them 3 to 1. On the positive side her army had its first taste of success under her leadership so she knew they would be in a much better frame of mind than their earlier battles under previous generals.
Tiirmirise was in her command tent expecting a report from one of the unit leaders sent out to survey the land. Candace a slim, wiry, agile, woman with a talent for being able to contort her body into small spaces. Silent as a snake and just as deadly her main role was gathering intelligence. She could sleep in trees, on her feet, slip in and out of places unnoticed and often did.
Tiirmirise was poring over the battle maps with the other commanders, lieutenants and unit leaders of the Massagetae when Candace slipped in unseen and unannounced to give her report.
“So what kind of a man is the Nesian leader?”
“Well from what I gather he is not the eldest. He won his right to lead by trial of fire.”
“Trial by fire? How intriguing.” Tiirmirise raised an eyebrow and sat in her chair folding her legs elegantly with an economy of motion. “Do tell.” She waved her hand regally.
Candace bowed and waited till she had the attention of all the inhabitants in her room and then began her story.
“ Before they decided to attack all the Nesian tribes gathered together at the death of the High King Juegos. Juegos had two sons Geneseric and Jugeric. Jugeric is the elder. A man mountain with bulging muscles and not much between his ears. Geneseric is the younger, cunning, dynamic, smarter but much smaller. When the time came to crown the King, Jugeric was challenged by Geneseric to a trial by fire. 24 Iron braziers were heated on the coals.”
Candace lowered her voice filling her voice with suspense “Jugeric went first as the elder no doubt he presumed that once his brother felt the taste of iron he would give in. Geneseric showed neither emotion nor did he cry out and as the burning braziers were pressed against his skin. The smell of burning flesh permeated the cold winter air.
When it was Juegeric’s turn he too showed no emotion. On and On it went and the High Shaman said not even Wenceric, the greatest king of the Nesians had withstood 6 brands. Finally when both men were exhausted, sweating, and in excruciating, unimaginable pain, Jugeric finally gave in and Geneseric was crowned King.
Geneseric with the full support of his brother Jugeric united the Nesians into the vast army which has now congregated on our borders. They have been travelling looking for a place to settle. They perceive our country to be weak, a woman on the throne and by that they refer to Qastursh and not yourself my queen. You they do not reckon with at all.”
Tiirmirise nodded at the news and asked curiously “What kind of a man do you think Geneseric is?”
“He is haughty, arrogant and full of his own self-importance. Their loss on the battlefield has shaken their belief in their leader. Yet they are still confident because Geneseric was not the leader of the army you defeated but a minor son of Juegos. Now they outnumber us and believe they have a better army.”
Tiirmirise seated in the command tent tried to gauge the expression of her commanders and generals.
“What make you of Candace‘s story?” She asked Petronides one of her generals.
“Well if all we have to worry about are a bunch of masochistic morons then I say we have an excellent chance of victory.”
Spargapises her son allowed a small smile to break out on his face. He wore his manhood like a palpable shield of power. He feared his mother yet he loved her. He liked his father but he did not respect him. In the Sarmatian paternal culture where women were generally submissive he found himself in a dilemma.
In his heart he knew that had his mother truly been a submissive woman he would not have the power and position he now enjoyed nor did he think he would respect her as much as he did and it rankled. His mother listened to his advice and respected his opinion even if she did not always follow it.
His father on the other hand was arrogant, pampered and spoiled. When he was not with his boyfriend he was with his latest favourite Partheses. He was often drunk or drugged on hashish and went to great lengths to hide the relationship from his mother. Spargapises himself was drawn into the seedy plot. Yet he did still love his father despite his faults, who doted on him and showered him with plenty of fatherly love and affection.
As they pondered on what plan of action to take Makeda another Massagetae warrior put forward the suggestion that they could build fortifications at the base of the hill and starve them out.
“A fortified building your majesty would give us extra protection and even up the odds against the Nesians. Further a siege tactic would starve them out and thus we would not lose as many soldiers.”
“We are in open land Makeda where would we find enough wood for such a construction. Time is of the essence and the nearest wooded forest is miles away.” Baronides another of the Generals interjected.
“Sire,” Spargapises interjected, “I believe there is a wood not far from here.”
“Candace is this true?”
“Yes your majesty, but the groves are sacred to the old pagan gods. Anyone who cuts down those trees will suffer great personal calamity and die a most horrible death.”
“I am Massagetae, I do not fear the final embrace, I myself will bear such calamity if such a one exists. I worship the one God and I fear neither pagan god nor bedtime story to frighten babes. Continue Spargapises.”
“If we cut down those trees I believe there will be enough to build our forte, surround the horde and starve them out.”
“Indeed my lady,” Makeda continued “His highness is right. They will be expecting us to give them battle. They are not prepared for a siege and if we should set archers at the perimeter.” She drew a quick diagram on a parchment of white paper thin hide.
“We shall create a killing zone here. They have nothing at the top of that hill except their wagons and horses. It will take time for them to organise an attack and we can have our battlements ready if we work night and day. That is through out tonight and throughout the day tomorrow.”
“Very well make it so.”
So the next morning the Nesian army woke up and were organised for battle by noon. It was only when he sent out scouts that Geneseric realised the Sarmatians had been up all night constructing palisades. They waited patiently for the Sarmatian attack which of course never came.
Geneseric had chosen the high grassy knoll knowing full well that their horses so effective in the last battle would be utterly useless on such terrain. He had effectively neutralised the effect of the Sarmatian cavalry which the Sarmatians had used so effectively against them and was now irritated at their reluctance to attack.
“Why do they not attack?”
“Perhaps their woman leader is afraid?”
Geneseric did not think so. Tiirmirise was renowned not just for her cunning which had enabled her to sire a son for a man who was an avowed sodomite but also for her skill in battle and the ability to hold a large diverse Kingdom together with many tribes who all spoke different languages. However he kept his thoughts to himself. It was not wise to show his anxieties to his warriors. A Nesian warrior never showed his uncertainties. He needed to appear like a rock, solid in his convictions so his people could be brave.
Eventually Geneseric sent his warriors charging down the hill. They were cut down in a hail of arrows as the Archers did their work. They were able to stand in safety behind the battlements and fire arrows at a great distance at the army of Nesians.
Geneseric ordered his men to spread out around the hill and attack in a circle thinning out his army and neutralising the effect of the arrows fired at them from distance. However this meant they were spread out too thinly and the palisades formed an effective blockade against their attacks so that they were unable to break the Sarmatian battle lines.
In the evening they retreated to lick their wounds and the building continued through the night. Those who had not fought during the day now worked during the night in shifts. So that they surrounded the Hill trapping the Nesian horde now exposed on the hill with only their wagons for shelter. Again and again the Nesian horde charged the Sarmatian battle lines and again and again their lines broke against the Sarmatian defences.
It did not occur to Geneseric that being unable to break their battle lines now meant he himself was trapped. The seriousness of his situation did not begin to dawn on him until much later in the month when the winter snows started falling and by then it would be too late.
It was a brilliant tactic for the season as Autumn ended and winter closed in with a vengeance and it seemed the heavens were on the side of the warrior Queen. The nights got colder and colder the Nesian horde now short of food began to slaughter their horses, dogs and cattle for food.
In the autumn when there had been plenty of grazing land the Nesians lived off the blood, and milk from the cattle but now that there was no grazing for the cattle which was now starving they had no option but to kill the animals so they could eat.
Geneseric sent the aged, the infirm, children and women out of his camp so there would be more supplies for his men. They went down to the Sarmatians begging to be made into slaves. Tiirmirise refused. She would have to feed slaves and their supplies were meagre, though they were not in the same position as the Nesians for they could forage for food. Further slaves could easily infiltrate the camp and act as spies for Geneseric.
She sent them back to their King and they froze to death on the plains for Geneseric would not allow his own people back into the camp.
What Tiirmirise had not achieved by starvation and battle, disease did. It ravaged the Nesian camp. Their feeding on the blood of diseased animals, rotting bodies and low standards of hygiene once the women had left the Nesian position, turned it into a disease ridden filth infested death ravaged camp.
The smell of corpses burning, to control the spread of disease and to keep the army warm filled the air. The Sarmatians observed all this and were sure that the Nesians would soon surrender however Candace and her unit returned to the command tent with frightening news.
“Your majesty, I came as fast as I could. There is another Nesian army approaching. They will be here in fourteen days.”
“Fourteen days? Tiirmirise stared at Candace, How could you have scouted so far away in such a short time?”
“We were out hunting when my Falcon caught a pigeon in its hunt. Attached to its ankle was a message from Jugeric.”
“The bird is it dead?”
“No Dread lady it is alive my Falcon never kills.”
“Very well. You will allow the pigeon to carry on its journey after a few days to give us time to start constructing another palisade.”
“Another Palisade?” Nnandi blanched. Her black skin turned grey with horror. She was not sure there would be enough wood for another palisade. They would need to be extremely creative with the resources they had.
Tiirmirise ordered another forte to built around the army of the Sarmatians. The second palisade had a ditch and kept them safely in so that it would protect them from attack from the second Nesian army.
Effectively they who were besieging the Nesian army of Geneseric were now about to be besieged by the Nesian army of Jugeric. Nnandi not only had to worry about wood but also to forage enough supplies to keep them safe from starvation and withstand a siege.
Now that Tiirmirise was privileged to their communications she knew the mode and manner of their attack and was able to make plans accordingly. When the second Nesian army arrived they faced the task of having to cross a ditch and then storm high walls and palisades.
Once more they created a killing zone. Firing from the safety of the battlements. If the archers had been in the snow it would have affected the strings of their bows however ensconced as they were within the forte they were effective and accurate as they pelted the Nesian horde with arrows, spears and rocks.
Jugeric was more determined than Geneseric and it came down to hand to hand fighting. Three times the Nesians almost broke their lines and three times Tiirmirise dashed in with her own personal body guard to rescue a desperate situation. The Massagetae women, inspired the men whenever they thought they were flagging or about to break.
Tiirmirise herself was critically injured in the ensuing battle and her right eye was destroyed. The arrow which pierced it did not lodge in her brain but never the less it was a grave injury. She was taken to the wooden forte to recuperate but she still directed the battle from one of the towers in the palisade. It was an excellent vantage point because she could see everything that was going on.
The Forte was measured and marked out to hold every man, woman and beast in the army. The deep ditches, sharpened stakes, raised earthworks and palisades kept the Nesian horde out as wave after wave of the barbarians broke against the Sarmatian lines.
If Geneseric had co-ordinated his army at the same time as Jugeric was attacking Tiirmirise they would have been hard pressed to fend off the assault and would probably have been crushed between the two armies but they could not co-ordinate.
Pasiphae commanded her own unit in this battle. Her commander had been killed in a skirmish and she was an able lieutenant and a good commander.
The Princess Pasiphae, daughter of Qastursh the King and stepdaughter to Tiirmirise, had sneaked along with the army and had distinguished herself on the battlefield.
She was promoted on merit for her actions and her brother Spargapises was jealous. He instead remained in the command tent and was jealously guarded by the Massagetae because his mother could not bear that anything happen to him and Pasiphae had teased him mercilessly about it.
When Tiirmirise had finally emerged from her command position, a black eye patch and a long evil scar ran across her once beautiful features twisting her smile into a sneer. Her army rallied and Jugeric’s lines broke. They fled. A week later Geneseric surrendered and Tiirmirise had him executed on the spot and then gave him a burial befitting a King.
She did not believe in torture or humiliating prisoners by dragging them in triumph down the city streets nor imposing a long lingering death. He was essentially a man betrayed by the cowardice of his brother. He was also a noble warrior and a good king.
The rest of the surviving Nesians were either taken as slaves or slaughtered. She chased Jugeric’s army out of Northern Sarmatia. At the borders of Sarmatia she created border patrols and built fortresses to man the borders so there would be no more easy incursions into Sarmatia.
She returned to Ado and a heroes welcome. She sat on the dais beside Qastursh and watched Spargapises in the march past in his first triumph. The young man was followed by the army.
All except the Massagetae would take place in the triumph. History would record that Spargapises had won the war and not Tiirmirise for the Sarmatian psyche, that a woman was always a helpmate and never a leader.
Hence to Spargapises went the honours since he was the titular commander of the army. Spargapises himself knew it was his mother who had fought and won the campaign and it galled him.
He swore that when he became king no woman would ever be accorded so much power. Yet as he basked in his parents pride and joy and the people’s adoration he plotted an evil in his heart.
He had been plotting to remove his father from the throne. A man who was too well protected by his mother of all people. He decided he would alienate them from each other. Bereft from her protection he would be easy to kill.
After the war the country at peace settled into day to day politics. Spargapises was sitting in his mother’s chambers as was his want.
“My son, you should go home you have a wife and a new born son. You should be celebrating his birth and enjoying his company. They grow up faster than you realise.”
“I have seen him already today.” Spargapises said dismissively
“It is so with you young men. I suppose you do not labour for nine months to bring a child into the world so therefore to you life is cheap. You cannot understand the love a mother has for her child”
“Enough of these sentimental meanderings mother, there is a grave matter I wish to discuss with you.”
“What is it my son?”
“It concerns the King.” Spargapises said hesitantly.
“Perhaps you should discuss it with him.”
“I cannot for he is the problem.”
Tiirmirise swept up her robes which were draped across her body. She wore no armour for it was a time of peace. She was wearing white linen trousers, her hair fell down her shoulders in black waves, her tunic also white was belted at the waist and over that was draped a purple cloth which proudly showed off her scarred right breast.
On her head she wore a golden diadem and with the exception of her personal seal which she wore on a ring on her left hand, the only evidence of her royal station. Tiirmirise was Queen of the Massagetae and Sarmatia, Ruling Lady of the Plains.
“I hope you do not speak of treason.” Tiirmirise said sharply. “For rest assured that if Qastursh can sire one son he can sire others. I am not barren, your son Derastes is a legitimate contender for the throne nor is there anything to prevent your father from taking another wife and siring other children should he so wish.”
“As to your concerns, as father of Derastes under the law I hold his life in my hands. If I wish I can have him killed and no one can gainsay me. Not you nor the king. As for father I hardly think he will have other children. I cannot speak for yourself but then succession passes through father’s line. The viziers are in the midst of changing the laws to ensure that.”
Tiirmirise’s eyes narrowed and she smiled a nasty wicked smile that she had never shown her son but only her enemies. He however did not see it. The arrogant pompous young man had his back to her.
“Further I will have power over you when father dies for I will become the head of the family.”
“Will you indeed.” She laughed but the amusement did not reach her steely black gaze. “You are nothing more than an arrogant boy. Your ambition and pride blind you to the truth. You are not clever enough to understand the deadly game of politics that is played.”
“Really mother,” He tightened his great hands in clenched fists, his ego battered by her words and pricked by her all knowing smile “I understand…”
“You… understand… nothing!” She hissed the last words out with such venom he fell silent. “If your father were to die tomorrow you would not inherit the throne. No that honour would go to Ninyas your father’s youngest brother and he has been plotting his rise to power before you were born.”
“Ninyas?” Spargapises felt his breadth catch in his throat. He had always thought Ninyas nothing more than a friend of his father’s, perhaps even one of his lovers but his uncle?
“You mean you did not know? Your spies did not inform you? Ninyas is your father’s youngest brother. He as the eldest male heir would inherit the throne should anything happen to your father. You cannot inherit anything under the law until you have seen your twenty fifth summer and reached your majority. That is several years from now. Plenty of time for Ninyas to work his misdeeds.
Do you not think he was angered by your birth? Do you not find it passing strange that Qastursh married 325 women but had only one son who survived childhood, a child raised not at the palace but with the Massagetae on the plains whilst his other thirty seven sons and twenty five daughters died in unexplained circumstances of childbirth?
Your sisters who live now were never meant to be born. The harem is filled with good looking eunuchs who whilst they could not bear children can please women so the women are not tempted to seek other pleasures outside and so palm off a bastard as heir to the throne.
Everything has been arranged according to this plan and despite it all I had you and he loathes me for it but you he hates with a passion. Your father and I are the only thing keeping you from death at his hands Spargapises and I will hear no talk of treason from you.”
“That deviant shares his bed with Partheses your vizier.” Spargapises felt a desire to hurt her to see her cry, brought low and reduced to her womanly status.
“Who are you to judge when you yourself keep a mistress and fornicate with slaves.”
“I do not allow another man to….”
“Silence! I will not hear it. You owe your father respect!”
“I owe him nothing!”
Tiirmirise backhanded him hard. Her eyes flashed with anger. He would have made a move to strike her back had he not noticed that she anticipated such a move.
“Why do you always defend him?”
“I will never stop protecting him my son. Know this even if you yourself were to enter our bedchamber and try to kill him I would strike you down with my bare hands. Derastes will simply take your place. Step carefully prince, I will not tolerate treason.”
“What mean you by that?”
“I know everything that happens in this kingdom. The plots, the intrigues everything. I warn you, should you anger me your fate will be terrible indeed.”
“We shall see mother….we shall see.”
He stormed out and Tiirmirise cursed under her breadth. “I have birthed a viper.”
King Qastursh, Tiirmirise’s husband heard every word. He had long ceased to doubt the loyalty of his wife though he wondered at it. He had heard every word of the exchange but then they had not known he was there concealed behind the curtains.
No one had. He was glad to see Tiirmirise startled by his presence when he appeared. The woman was an expert at disguising her emotions with an inscrutably bland expression. However Qastursh knew what most people did not. The bland expression was a front. The Queen’s emotions ran deeper than the Oceans.
“So even my own son plots against me.”
She did not even try to deny his statement. “I have given orders that Derastes be taken to my people in the mountains. Since Spargapises has barely bothered to look in on his son he will not notice his absence.”
“You are too hard on him beloved.” Qastursh took her hand and led her to the bed he kissed her forehead and sat down beside her.
“And you my lord are not hard enough.”
“He is confused. His father is a woman and his mother is a man.” Qastursh smiled ruefully.
“What a pair.” she sighed and Qastursh laughed.
They were good friends, no longer lovers but good friends.
She sat down and regarded him carefully before she spoke again. “Beware of Partheses I do not trust him.”
“ Oh he is harmless enough”
“He is like a green snake in the green grass. You can not see his evil till it is too late.”
“Is nothing hidden from you?” He asked exasperatedly expecting her to take him to task regarding his lover but she did not.
She no longer concerned herself with such matters and as much as said so. “How you conduct your affairs is none of my business but your safety and protection is my concern.”
He nodded “Well do I know.” He lay back and listened to her droning on and on about the protective measures he needed to take.
In another part of the palace however his brother Ninyas and his vizier Vayanes were having a meeting which had he known, he would have paid more attention to Tiirmirise’s lectures.
“The only way to kill him is to get that she-wolf away from his side.” Ninyas spat.
“How do you propose we do that!” Vayanes hissed exasperatedly. He was heartily sick of Qastursh. He would conspire with anyone who would remove the King. He had hoped that after helping her to get the throne Tiirmirise would remove him but the silly bitch had proved his loyal ally.
Vayanes represented an old and conservative faction of politics in Sarmatia. Descended from the old Massagetae nobility, they had no problems with Qastursh’s sexual tastes or even his orgiastic excesses it was almost expected of a spoiled and powerful ruler. Most of the ancient aristocracy inbred and crazy indulged in such.
What he objected to was the plain and simple fact that Qastursh was not a Massagetae or a Sarmatian. He was not even descended from any of the ancient tribes of the plains. He was of the Beriberi race, not the ebony skinned Massagetae or the Mahogany curly haired Sarmatian or even the pink skinned Getulae and he hated him with a passion.
“We have long had uneasy relations with the Simian to the east. What we need to do is to keep Tiirmirise out of Ado long enough to forment some kind of instability and strike whilst she is away.” Ninyas said thoughtfully.
“Something like that.” Ninyas drawled. “I have enlisted the aid of one Magba Massinassa. He used to be overlord of Jbenga the sire of Tiirmirise and well hates the thought of bending knee to a vassal never mind a woman. He approached me but he does not wish to be seen to be connected to our faction.”
“And the prince?” Vayanes queried
“He no longer wishes to consider his father’s murder. No doubt he has been terrified into obedience by his mother.”
“Hmm Spargapises might suspect you are after the throne for yourself. You have reached your majority and would become regent should anything happen to Qastursh.”
“Spargapises is a stupid little child who thinks the world revolves around him. He can be manipulated. I have been manipulating myself into power for too long to be thwarted by one such as he.”
He did not deem it prudent to let Vayanes know that he was the one behind the murders of most of his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. If Vayanes knew he would lose the old man’s support.
“If Qastursh had not married Tiirmirise I would be King. We must be patient a little more. Our next scheme cannot be too obvious. We shall forment disagreement with the Simian, Tiirmirise will go charging up there to fight and we shall kill Qastursh in her absence take over the throne and rule.”
“You make it sound so simple Ninyas.”
“That my dear friend Vayanes is because it is that simple. In the meantime I will arrange the murder of Partheses. He has become over bearing and fulfilled his uses which was to get us close to the king. All we need to do is blame it on Spargapises and that will get him out of the way. We all know how much he hates his father‘s sexual proclivities.”
Everyone knew Tiirmirise insisted on the best and the latest equipment for the army and that meant she needed a steady supply of Simian Steel, Simian armourers and craftsmen, Engineers, Scrolls, Wood for her siege engines etc all this cost money.
One of the most efficient ways to finance this without recourse to the High Council which was riddled with politics was to fund it from the King’s purse and the best way to do that was to cut down on the King’s over heads
So other than the King’s wives who had given him children, like Tiirmirise, Augur and other wives and daughters the harem which had once housed three hundred female wives and male concubines was largely empty and the funding put towards buying weapons for the army.
His eldest daughter Olayrae was being groomed to make an advantageous marriage. She hated the idea because she wished to serve as a temple maiden. She was chaste, modest, humble, young a virgin and infinitely suited to temple life.
However Qastursh would have none of it. She was a princess and it was a Princesses duty to make good marital alliances to protect the country’s borders, cement trade treaties and increase the influence of the Sarmatian Kingdom. Tiirmirise had pointed out to him that if he continued this course not only would she make her poor husband a miserable wife but it might damage the very relationship he was trying to repair.
He did have other daughters who were also of marriageable. One called Bierae and the other called Pradae. Unlike her elder sister who stood up to her father at every opportunity, Pradae was a shy little girl who fairly trembled and became extremely quiet whenever she saw her father and Tiirmirise. She only got on with her mother who dominated her at every opportunity.
Pasiphae was her father’s favourite and got on extremely well with Tiirmirise. She was very like her mother but had inherited a self-destructive wild streak from her father’s side of the family. Where Spargapises vice was women and alcohol, Qastursh was drugs and men, Pasiphae rode into every battle as though she was going to die that day. She lived for war and the thrill of danger.
Her daring deeds in battle were many. She had fought against the Nesians stealing her way into the ranks and distinguished herself much to the annoyance of her brother. She was rewarded personally by Tiirmirise who made her a commander of the Massagetae on sheer merit. Beloved of the army Pasiphae could do no wrong she was literally the golden child of the royal family.
Bierae was one of the older daughters of Qastursh and she was on good terms with both the King and Queen and almost everyone in the palace. She generally had her head buried in a scroll. Like her father she liked to smoke herbs and they often smoked together.
They were quite close and she spent many an evening playing chess with one or the other. Her mother had died in childbirth just at the time Tiirmirise was arriving so she tended to regard Tiirmirise as the closest thing to a mother figure in her life although there was not much age difference between them.
Finally there was Minae, the youngest daughter of Qastursh. Her mother was a long haired barbarian Nesian slave. Helle. A concubine who became a wife by virtue of giving birth to Minae. Both mother Helle and daughter Minae were despised by the other Sarmatian aristocrats. Helle in particular was feared because of her affinity for snakes.
Helle was perhaps the most beautiful of Qastursh’s wives despite her bald head and green eyes. Helle unlike the other women who had given birth to Qastursh’s children was curvaceous and very feminine. Minae had inherited her buxom womanly charms which were greatly prized by both Massagetae and Sarmatians alike.
Her father’s darker colouring and her mother’s flawless white complexion gave her the bonze toned appearance of an old pagan Sarmatian goddess. She often wore the dress of a Sarmatian courtesan rather than that of a princess. Transparent silk and linen clothing that barely disguised her womanhood, a green emerald gleamed in her belly button. Her breasts were barely covered by a large jewelled collar which covered her nipples. Her red hair was invariably worn up to reveal her slender neck and delicate facial features.
So many lusted after her that of all Qastursh’s children Tiirmirise assigned almost as many Massagetae to guard her person as she did to the king. She was barely nineteen and already had several offers of concubinage from the Sarmatian and Massagetae aristocrats who despised her background but lusted after her body. She was too beautiful to be used for childbearing they argued but not of noble lineage enough to be married as a wife.
Qastursh unable to part with her left Tiirmirise to negotiate the marriage contract. Tiirmirise already burdened with matters of state allocated the job to Helle. Helle was of a mind to marry her daughter off to someone who would love and respect her daughter, someone rich enough to support them but who did not depend on palace intrigue so they could live a peaceful life and she could bounce her grandchildren on her knee.
Helle considered her daughter flighty and apt to turn her head at every handsome inappropriate young man she could find that she knew her mother would disapprove of like Ninyas or even Partheses men who were always in some plot or the other who would use her to get to the king.
Tiirmirise sat in the Harem looking over the list that Helle and Minae had compiled, warily watching Helle and Assrael her companion cobra always with her everywhere she went and was wrapped around her wrist.
Helle’s hand writing was a studied scrawl for she had learnt to read and write late in life, which listed wealthy middle aged Massagetae merchants of both sexes who would be overjoyed to be married to a princess. Minae’ s list however had the crop of rich young aristocrats of both sexes with all sorts of depravities from some of the oldest families some of whom she knew had a deep hatred for the king and his daughter.
As they rejected the suitors on the list Minae flew into a rage after Helen rejected yet another arrogant aristocratic youth.
“Bitter old woman you do not want me to marry. You wish me to stay here forever.”
“That’ssss not true!” Helle said gently “and you know it child.” Helle spoke in that hypnotising sibilant whisper that at once mesmerised and terrified Tiirmirise who continued to watch the pet snake Asrel snake warily.
“You have refused every single suitor for my hand that I have suggested.”
“Becaussse they all wish to make you a concubine and not a wife.”
Minae folded her arms across her chest and sat down petulantly “What is wrong with being a concubine?”
“A concubine is nothing mere than a glorified body ssservant. You would have to share your body with not jusssst the man or woman I gave you to but to whomever he gave you to alsssso.”
“What is wrong with that? It is not as though I never had sex before.”
Helle, Tiirmirise decided had the predatory hypnotising characteristics of a deadly snake. Her head came up slowly and she sidled over to Minae her body almost slithering across the room. Her head moved up and down slowly as she inspected her daughter then suddenly she struck and slapped Minae hard. “You whore!” She hissed.
“Enough!” Tiirmirise had a soft spot for the young princess and was not going to stand idly by whilst Helle disciplined her. She now stood between the weeping girl and her furious mother. Minae threw herself against Tiirmirise and sobbed hysterically against her. Tiirmirise’s arms tightened reflexively around the young girl who sought protection in her arms.
Tiirmirise swallowed hard and regarded the hissing spitting snake now alive and attuned to Helle warily “Helle you must calm yourself. Before you say or do anything you will regret.” She tried to calm the situation. The last thing she wanted was for Helle to know she terrified her.
“I thank-you Tiirmisssee but I better leave before I beat the ssssilly sssslut black and blue.” She hissed flicking her tongue with her lips as her head moved slowly from side to side as she spoke undulating and constantly swaying like a snake.
“Go!” Minae screamed “Go to your eunuchs and your bloody snakes that’s all you care about anyway.”
Helle hissed at Minae and Tiirmirise fairly jumped out of her skin before the other woman literally slithered out of the room and slammed the door behind her.
“Your should not speak to your mother like that.” Tiirmirise sighed as the girl continued weeping uncontrollably in her arms. Eventually she quietened.
“What about you?”
“What about me?” Tiirmirise asked warily
“Perhaps there is a reason you don’t want me to marry?”
Tiirmirise rolled her eyes. “Minae please, I don’t have time for such childish games.”
“I know lust when I see it and I have slept with women before. I have seen the way you look at me, I know you want me.”
“You are imagining things.” Tiirmirise said coldly disentangling herself from the princess and her troubling words. Tiirmirise went to sit at her desk and set aside the list. She pulled out the merchant contracts she was reading before Helle and Minae disturbed her.
“Oh I know you have sex with your bath slaves and Soraia is your favourite, but then everybody does.”
“Everyone has sex with Soraia?”
Minae laughed “No silly, I meant that everyone has sex with their bath slaves. Yours are all female. No one has noticed it but I have.”
“What of it?”
“I talk to the slaves you know, especially the body servants. You can learn a lot about a person by listening to their body servants and bath slaves.”
“What is your point?”
“You like women.” Minae said simply “and you like me and you want me.”
“You are a spoilt little girl Minae and you need to learn that good looks and charm alone will not get you far in this world.”
“Well it has worked for me so far.”
“Listen you troublesome little baggage you are in enough aaaahhhh….” Tiirmirise’s voice trailed off into a sigh as Minae’ s sure competent little fingers kneaded the sore neck muscles taut with tension of political debate and marriage contract negotiations.
“See I can please you. Let me please you.” She whispered sliding into Tiirmirise’s lap seductively and kissing the black queen’s hard lips.
At first Tiirmirise refused to respond and fought her desire. She had indeed lusted after the princess. Who hadn’t? but in a court full of intrigues and plots she had never allowed herself to act on it.
“I should not do this!” Tiirmirise groaned against Minae’s neck. Her resolve was slowly and surely slipping away with every wanton caress of Minae‘s fingers on her body.
Minae parted her robes and placed Tiirmirise’s hands on her bare breasts and whispered against the Queen’s lips “You are Tiirmirise, Queen of the Massagetae, Dreaded Lady of the Plains, the Falcon of Sarmatia, the most powerful woman in all of the realm an anointed monarch ordained by God you have every right to do this.”
Tiirmirise groaned and succumbed to young woman’s hot kisses.
Saronne stretched once more and decided to put pen to parchment. It was late in the evening and she had completed most of her chores for the day. She looked fondly over at the sleeping form on the bed and smiled. Her memories were sometimes painful and sometimes cathartic. This one that she was about to commit was definitely cathartic.
“My time in the brothel did not go as badly as it could have gone. Yes I was trained in the acts of love. How to paint my body and what clothes to wear to look more desirable etc but I also had the skill of healing and every morning I thanked God for my mother’s teaching. A brothel like any other place is always in need of a healer no matter how exclusive the clientele.
There are consequences of promiscuity and I was often called to deal with them. Although the primary reason for my purchase was to provide sexual pleasure for clients this did not actually happen as physicians in Gypsos were expensive even those who were slaves and since I was valued highly I never actually performed any sexual services at the Brothel. However I was called to dance.
According to the brothel keeper I was a good dancer at least of the Gyptian style. In the land of the Angles the dancing was different. You had to learn many steps and be in line with everyone and turn and count them up in your head.
However in the land of Gypsos their dance was more sensuous and consisted of rolling the hips and the pelvis a lot. Sometimes I danced with the other girls in the troupe most times I danced alone. I also learned how to play the sitar. A six string instrument but I did not sing. I did not have the talent to produce the high nasal ear piercing shrieking that passed for Gyptian singing.
It was at Gypsos that I first met Pasiphae and learned first hand of her cruelty. She was of the same height as myself Her hair was jet black and her eyes glowed with an unholy light like she was touched by the ancient gods.
She was powerfully built with bulging muscles everywhere and though she had bathed yet she still stank of horses. Around her neck she wore a necklace of teeth. Her hair was long and brown and worn in a neat braid. She wore a linen robe like most Gyptians and so resembled a Gyptian with her swarthy skin than a Massagetae warrior that when I first met her I thought she was a native of Gypsos.
As a dancer I was called to entertain her and whilst the other girls played the sitar, drums and tambourines I danced for her. At first I thought I was killing time and she was waiting to be pleasured by a male slave.
However when the song finished and I lay at her feet her eyes fairly stripped me naked, seeming to linger on my skin and I shuddered. It seemed to delight her.
“I want this one.” She smiled confidently. There was a feral glint in her dark eyes.
“I am afraid she is not for use my lady. I have someone I have prepared for what you have in mind.”
She looked about to complain but thought better of it and then barely looking at me, she contemptuously tossed a coin in my direction. Grateful for small mercies I got up ignoring the money. Slaves owned nothing so the money would go to the Brothel keeper there was no need for me to pick it up he would send someone along later.
I picked up the spare sitar to play a piece whilst another one of the musicians now prepared to dance but Pasiphae waved her away and I saw why. One of the girls walked into the room. Her eyes were blank drugged I presumed. She was naked except for the iron manacles she wore on her ankles and wrists.
It was then that Pasiphae’s interest was pricked. The Princess chained her to her bed and whipped her. The girl did not make a single sound and Pasiphae intensified her efforts to no avail. The girl did not cry out even whilst Pasiphae bloodied her back with the whip.
I wanted to cry at such cruel barbarity. What had this poor girl done to deserve such treatment? Pasiphae beat her till she fainted and then threw her whip down and stared at us thoughtfully. She drank her wine and the others shrank back cowering in our corner.
When the brothel owner returned to offer Pasiphae more wine she smiled nastily.
“I got nothing no emotion from the girl you gave me. She was so drugged she could not react. I will pay you more for I want some better entertainment tonight.”
She whirled round and pointed at me. “That slave appears to be horrified by my actions. There is almost a hint of innocence there. If I did not know the type of establishment you ran I might almost believe what I see in her eyes.”
“What is your wish princess? How can I please?” The snivelling Brothel owner asked in his whiny voice.
“That girl the one who thinks her screams pass for singing I would like her.”
“She is expensive she is not just a body slave.”
I was horrified. Was she talking of me? I kept my face hidden not allowing my terror to show. “I had never been beaten before, always managing to persuade my owners to be lenient with me.”
“I would like her,” She pointed at the girl who had been singing “for tonight, I would like her to sing a different kind of song for me.” She said smiling nastily “and I would like for that one to watch.” She finished pointing at me.
Pasiphae I was to later realise had no emotions she felt nothing. She was empty. The only time she felt exhilaration was at the sight and smell of blood or another’s pain and it was the only emotion she felt. So in order to feel she abused her slaves.
When the first stroke of the bull whip she used landed on the back of the slave who had been singing in accompaniment to the sitar I played, and the steel balls ripped into my companion’s back she screamed and then Pasiphae came alive. When the girl stopped screaming after passing out from the pain she gloried in my tears of anguish and sorrow.
I could have done something fought her off pulled her off the poor girl for we were alone, but I was too scared. I was a coward. I was a slave. A princess would have fought to defend the weak but I was no princess not anymore. I was nothing but a slave now.
When Pasiphae left in the morning I spent the whole day caring for the two girls and then I spent the whole night reliving the nightmare of watching them being beaten senseless.”
He grasped a linen sheet and wrapped it around the woman in his arms.
“I love you Pradae.”
“I love you……Brother.”
“ Do not say that.”
“Why not it is the truth. You know what we do is wrong.”
“We have been lovers for many years and you have never felt guilt before.”
She turned to him and cupped his face “Whilst you were away I went to visit your wife and son Derastes. He looked so like you I was so jealous of her. I wished I was the one to give you a son.”
“Don’t be she is a dull sow that I have to get drunk to fuck. She is nothing to me. You are everything to me.”
“But what if we get caught?”
“What will they do? Is it father and his boy toys or Mother who is at this moment fucking our sister.”
“Strictly Speaking Tiirmirise is no relation to Minae and Helle was a concubine before she became a wife so she has done nothing wrong.”
“I hate her.”
“Because you wish to be King.”
“She rules this country but she is not of the blood.”
“Again you are wrong. Hers is an ancient line. They ceased to produce male heirs and their line was therefore broken but she is from the most ancient family in Sarmatia. The only one that extends back to the first woman in an unbroken line of females.”
“Well at least she is honest. I thought you were going to say she was descended from some god or goddess.”
“You know she believes in the worship of the one God. She would never deign to claim divinity.”
“Whereas I claim descent from the god of the groves.”
“Which you destroyed when you fought the Nesian horde thereby bringing a horrible curse down on your head.” She said sarcastically.
“When I am King I shall declare myself a god and fuck whom I please.”
“Is that all I am to you? A fuck?” Pradae got up “All this time I thought you loved me but I find that you just want to rub Tiirmirise nose in our relationship because you know she will disapprove and then you can confront her with Minae.”
“You are a good fuck.” he smiled indulgently now satisfied he did what he did best hurt those who loved him the most.
“Pasiphae was right you are a selfish bastard and you’re just using me to get to Tiirmirise. May be you want to fuck her yourself.”
“Get out of here!!!” he roared at her.
“Oh don’t worry I will.” She screamed back taking her clothes and running naked into the night.
“Wait! Pradae come back!” He raced into the night when he realised she was truly upset. He’d been running for awhile when he noticed the night was eerily still.
Suddenly a horse came charging at him from the midst of the harm gardens. He barely had time to get out of the way. The rider was obviously not out to get him for he carried on towards the harem and he became terrified for Pradae.
“Pradae! Pradae!” he called her name out frantically fearing for her safety he gripped his stomach sick with fear. In that moment He had realised he loved her and pain was like a knife in his heart.
“Psst over hear.”
“I saw a group of armed men make for the royal chambers. I Think they were heading for the harem and father’s apartments. We need to warn the Palace guard.”
“No it is better we go to the Massagetae. They are loyal to mother. The palace guard must have been bribed because I do not see how an assassin can simply ride into the palace on a huge horse like that!”
Rise of the Silver Falcon
In the palace there was a chaotic scene as the inhabitants fought for their lives. Spargapises was right the Palace guard had indeed been bribed. Minae was crouched naked in a corner. In front of her Tiirmirise a dagger protruding from her shoulder, which had prevented Minae from certain death since the dagger was originally aimed at Minae’s throat.
Now Tiirmirise stood in front of her fighting off four assassins and successfully holding them off with a chair. The door burst open to reveal Pasiphae and the rest of the Massagetae also hard pressed. One of them threw Tiirmirise a sword and she dispatched the assassins with ease.
“I was never very good at fighting with tables.” she murmured to Minae who clung to her like a leech and was shaking uncontrollably.
“Go to your mother’s chambers little one, you’ll be safer there.”
“No! She’ll be better off coming with us. Whoever attacked tonight wishes to wipe out the entire royal family. They attacked me in the barracks. Helle and Augur’s chambers were the first to be attacked. Pasiphae said bursting into the room. Her clothes were tattered and bloody. She herself appeared to have been in a battle.
“Augur is dead, Helle’s wounds are grave, Olayrae has had her eyes gouged out before I could get there, she is alive but not well. She has been screaming hysterically since it happened. Spargapises is nowhere to be found, neither is Pradae, I don’t know whether they are alive or dead.” She finished breathlessly.
“Say what you are thinking Pasiphae.”
“I don’t know if they formed part of this plot.”
“Let us survive the night tomorrow will be enough time for accusations. Make for the King‘s apartments”
Partheses was dead. His throat had been slit like an animal. One of the assassins was preparing to do the same to the King. Pasiphae’s arrow lodged in his head pinning him to the wall. Another assassin lodged a small axe in the back of one of the Palace guard.
Tiirmirise drew it out and hurled it at another assassin cutting off his wrist in one gory blow so that the hand holding the throwing dagger twitched harmlessly on the floor. Mid-morning they found Pradae and Spargapises who had brought in re-enforcements from the army barracks and the Massagetae.
The young Prince had fought his way to the harem with his sister who could only squeal and scream hysterically. Several courtiers were killed and the entire palace guard were executed in the morning. Qastursh’s fury knew no bounds.
“Well we needed to change the Palace guard anyway.” Tiirmirise was saying as they bound the wounds in Qastursh’s shoulder.
“I do not want to be surrounded by Massagetae no matter how much you trust them I do not.”
“The Massagetae are not baby sitters.” Pasiphae bristled
“Oh Shut up do.” Qastursh growled.
“We will need to convene a new guard detail now that Qastursh has successfully executed everyone in the Palace guard who did not die in the fighting last night and now it will be very difficult to trust anyone.”
The Public funeral of so many members of the royal family threw the nation into mourning and the worst part was no one knew who had perpetrated the atrocities. Even Ninyas house had been attacked for he had lost two of his three sons.
In the midst of this disaster the Simian, traditional enemies of the Sarmatian nation were making war noises. The family were resting sitting in the Palace at Ekiti whilst the Palace of Ado was cleaned and rebuilt with added security features. Sarmatia had two capital cities a legacy of when it was a divided country.
The two largest tribes the Sarmatians and the Massagetae had come together to unite but each had kept its capital city. The Sarmatian nobles anxious not to be blamed for the plot did all they could to make the royal family comfortable.
“Your Majesties “ Vayanes the current Prime Vizier bowed and swept into the inner sanctum. “We will need to attend to the Simian sooner rather than later.”
“I will go Spargapises will remain here. I believe he has enough training to protect the king.”
“Especially now he knows that whoever executed that last attempt won’t be killing father to make him King.” Pasiphae drawled.
Spargapises blushed “You unnatural bitch!!!”
“Enough!” Tiirmirise roared “Pasiphae you will attend me this trip, I…..”
“Your Majesty, come quickly the Lady Helle is dying.” A messenger ran into the royal apartments and threw himself at Tiirmirise feet.
Qastursh as a King was forbidden to attend Public Funerals. He had been inconsolable since the death of Partheses and Augur and finally he had a mental breakdown when he saw Olay Rae’s condition. He currently existed in the state of alcoholic and drug induced stupor which was punctuated by bouts of uncontrolled weeping and sedation.
Tiirmirise went into Helen’s room. It stank of death. Minae wept inconsolably in her mother’s arms. At first it had seemed she would recover but then the wound became poisoned and she was now dying. Assrael her snake had died in the defence of his mistress as had several snakes.
Helle’s snakes had taken out so many of the assassins sent out to kill them that by rights they should all have been dead had it not been for them. Unfortunately many of the little buggers had also escaped and as their mistress was no longer around to control and care for them Khalifar the current head eunuch was under orders to exterminate them.
“Watch over my daughter Tiirmirise. I place her in your care.” She kissed her daughter and after two days in a delirious fever she slipped away during the night. Minae was inconsolable and Tiirmirise had no peace.
The princess clung to her like a leech. Her nightmares often had her running to Tiirmirise room eventually she simply moved in and did not care what people thought. There were whispered rumours in the palace no one dared openly comment on the burgeoning relationship between the princess and the Queen.
As the youngest Minae was indulged and having lost her mother, she seemed to change becoming more emotionally delicate.
It was a tough year and Tiirmirise was glad when it was over. After winter came spring and with it new hope and new life and new troubles.
“Minae you cannot come with me to fight the Simian.” Tiirmirise said exasperatedly
“I cannot stay here either. What if someone kills me before you get back? Besides you promised mother you would look after me you can‘t just go swanning off to war.” She finished waving her hand negligently.
Tiirmirise closed her eyes and counted to ten. “Lately the princess had become emotionally demanding. All of them had even Bierae who she took to be the most sensible of the lot. She was looking forward to fighting the Simian anything to get her out of this atmosphere of doom and gloom.
She managed to reassure Minae and deposited her with Bierae. However Minae was tearful and inconsolable at once beseeching at once weeping hysterically till eventually Tiirmirise was able to leave. Pasiphae was not amused and could be heard to mutter “offspring of slaves under her breath.” Bierae gave her a sharp look.
As Tiirmirise rode through the streets of Ekiti at the head of her bodyguard, the army was already ranged outside the city and ready to march she was approached by a delegation from the temple of the one God. She dismounted and was surprised when they parted to reveal Olayrae.
“I am sorry I could not protect you my princess.” Tiirmirise whispered her heart broke to see the once quiet beauty disfigured by an assassins knife. They lived in brutal times.
Olayrae stepped forward. Her hands touched Tiirmirise face. “You are too hard on yourself my Queen. This was meant to be. I was never meant for marriage. I think this had to happen before I could persuade father to let me serve in the temple.” Olayrae smiled and her hands continued to touch her face suddenly her expression changed and her voice seemed to come from far away.
“A great threat shall come from across the Araxes. You will save the Massagetae and be the greatest Queen of the two cities that Sarmatia will ever see. You will be given a granted a special gift a special child…. Tragedy will find you because of a sin. A stain on your honour but that person will pay for it. I am to tell you it is not your fault a person must take responsibility for their actions. You will grieve for it shall rip out your heart.”
She gasped and stepped back. “You have a great and powerful destiny my Queen. I am privileged to have known you. You will know love but it will be a long time before you recognise it for what it is.”
“And this war with the Simian?”
“ You will need to lose to win. The Simian are not the horde.” The male female voices once more took over and issued from the princess mouth.
“And your sisters?”
“You mean Minae?” Olayrae smiled “You have a weakness for her. Nothing is hidden from me. She will do well never fear but it will not be with you.”
There was laughter in the voices when they spoke “Get you gone Tiirmirise I never knew you were so nosy. You have a war to win.” Tiirmirise was surprised at the answer from the voice. Olayrae slumped forward into Tiirmirise arms and when she spoke her voice was back to its usual timbre.
“I take it you were spoken to.” Olayrae said as Tiirmirise helped her stand unaided.
Tiirmirise nodded and looked around nervously. Everyone else continued to look at them expectantly. Some in awe, some not quite sure what was going on. Someone fell to their knees and the chanting began.
“Hail Tiirmirise Queen of the Massagetae!”
On the trip Tiirmirise took Vayanes with her. She knew he conspired with Ninyas and that he commanded a large portion of the conservative aristocratic nobles in government. He had after all made her queen and she feared his influence more than that of Ninyas. So She kept him close to her. His presence was almost as a hostage for good behaviour.
He held so much sway over the aristocratic elements she was sure of their good behaviour whilst he was with her. She dared not leave him behind to plot heaven knew what with Ninyas.
She also took her own family members. Xango her brother, Jbenga her father and Pasiphae as well as her Massagetae commanders Makeda, Candace and Nnandi. Nnandi, slender and elegant woman of small stature was in charge of logistics, Candace slim wiry woman in charge of Intelligence, Makeda largest of them was muscular and stocky in charge of tactics and strategy and off course Jbenga and Xango her brother. She had new army generals. The other young men who had served on a previous campaign went into politics as was the custom.
With Tiirmirise gone and Spargapises left behind it seemed the Queen had made a blunder. Every coup plotter, every rebel rouser every intriguer at court made a bee line for the Young prince and they buzzed around him like flies around honey sensing the sweet smell of victory.
They wanted to make him king. All he had to do was to support their cause. Namely murderous attempts on his fathers life. Others were more insidious. They did not want to kill the king they claimed merely to remove him for his own safety.
Qastursh himself seemed to sense there was something afoot. His nightmares returned in earnest. He made an effort to spend more time playing chess with his son and discussing the laws of Sarmatia and they even went hunting together.”
“How can you stand that woman.”
“Don’t speak of your mother like that. It is because of her that you are alive today. Because of her ingenuity you were even born. She gave you birth plotted your conception whilst you were a mere babe. Foiled many assassination attempts on me and you. I remember one time when an assassin broke into your room to kill you.
He stabbed your mother 17 times but your mother fought him to a standstill with her bare hands. Where was I? Cowering under the bed. Such love is frightening. If something should ever happen to you Spargapises, I truly fear for the life of the man who causes it.”
“She did it to keep power. You would have cast her aside if I had died.”
“I can never, would never cast her aside even where you and all your grandson to die tomorrow and she became barren. Know this she is my heir after my death. No one else has ever shown me such loyalty. She has shed blood and sweat for me. I can never forsake her.”
Spargapises was terribly disappointed. “But the laws say….”
“That only one born of the blood may rule.” His father finished.
“They also say that no woman may rule Sarmatia”
Qastursh smiled. “Actually no such law exists on the scrolls. That law was a rumour created by my great grandfather when he seized the throne of Sarmatia illegally I might add. I am neither Sarmatian nor Massagetae. I am Beriberi and not of the people of the plains.
We are foreigners in this land you and I. It is why Vayanes plots to put someone like Ninyas whose Mother was Sarmatian or Tiirmirise who is a blue blooded Massagetae on the throne. It is the real reason they despise us. Yes us Spargapises they despise both you and I not because I like men but because we are neither Sarmatian nor Massagetae.”
“But I thought…”
“I know what you thought. We are safe only for as long as Tiirmirise remains Queen. If your mother should die believe me the High council will move to make Ninyas my heir and once they accomplish that we are all as good as dead. He is ruthless is Ninyas. He will not spare even your sisters because their children would have a claim to the throne.”
“Later that night as Spargapises pondered on what his father told him he became confused he did not know what to think.”
“I don’t know what to do Pradae.” He sighed
“Go and see Olayrae, that’s what everybody else does.”
“She scares me.”
“Anyone who is different from the way you think things ought to be scares you”
“No she scares me. She looks at me as though she knows everything there is to know about me and has somehow found me lacking.”
“She is a priestess Spar. Don’t worry about it we shall go and see her together.”
The next morning when they arrived at the temple she found Minae and Bierae also at the temple. She sincerely hoped it was coincidence and nothing more.
“The Priestess will see you all now.”
They looked at each other warily and entered the temple. Normally they waited outside where everyone else worshipped. No one was allowed to touch the altar. Touching the altar meant certain death.
It was not that The government enforced the law for there were no guards there. However many stories abounded of people dying after touching the altar. The stories were all the same the person faded to dust before their very eyes.
In the Priestess quarters Olayrae smiled when they entered although Minae was certain she could not see them ever since the terrible night when her eyes were gouged out by assassins.
“The time is coming when we will see no more of each other as each of us follows our destiny. I summoned you all here to….”
“Wait you did not summon me.”
“Oh but I did brother. If not why are you all here today and not tomorrow. I know why you have come and I will give you an answer as best as I can but I will tell you this it will be up to you to follow your heart and go the right way.
For some your destiny is set in stone and nothing you can do can change it. For others you will have power to make your destiny a great one or a mediocre one. Ask your question.”
She sat down.
Pradae spoke first. “Will I ever find true love?”
“I love you.” Spargapises said exasperatedly.
“No you love yourself. I am merely a means to rebel against Tiirmirise and father.”
“You will indeed find love sister. If that is what you want. You will find love have children and be happy but your name will not be remembered. If that is what you want. But you can also choose greatness. Your name will be greatly remembered but you will not find love nor happiness only a lonely slow and painful death.”
“How will I know I am making that choice?”
“When the time comes you will know.”
“And I?” Bierae asked timidly
“Ah I’m afraid your fate is set in stone. You will marry a handsome prince of the realm. You will grow fat in your old age and your husband will love you till the day you die. No matter what happens what you do you will have 3 children remember that Bierae.”
“And Pasiphae?” Bierae asked after her favourite sister.
“Pasiphae like you has her destiny set in stone. She is doomed to die young but covered in glory and her name will be remembered for eternity for bravery and courage.”
“She would have it no other way.” Bierae sighed sadly.
“And I?” Minae asked tentatively
“You will have to make a choice between love and duty. Make no mistake your time of choosing is coming sooner than you think. If you choose duty you will live long and your joy and happiness will be in your children. If you choose love you will be gloriously happy but you will not live long.”
“This is just Cack!”
“Is it? I tell you this Spargapises,” her voice was stern and angry “Before you do the evil which you are about to do I will come to you. I have been granted that. Now I must go I am tired. You will never see me again except perhaps when I come to you in your dreams if you call to me. I will no longer remain in the temple. My calling is to travel the land and heal it.”
“Yet you cannot heal yourself!” Spargapises sneered
“Spar!” Bierae said warningly
“But I can. Since I have the sight I no longer need physical eyes. The eyes I have see you all clearly and more. I can see you in the past in the future and in the present as clearly as you see me. Spargapises stands before me in green, his tunic belted, with tassels and brown leather breeches. His black hair oiled his face covered by an especially shiny wig beard. Pradae wears her customary white linen as does Bierae, Minae is wearing a delightful shade of fuchsia….shall I go on?”
Minae gasped “Oh Olay must you go?”
“I’m afraid so little one. Strange and frightening times are coming to Sarmatia and I must be there to help the people.”
Tiirmirise spent the first campaign avoiding the large armies of the Dominion who were a much greater threat than the Simian. It was very frustrating having to fight a guerrilla war. She cut their lines of supply and descended on them with her army in lightning fast raids. Appearing without warning and then disappearing before they had time to regroup and fight. They retreated into Simian lands to lick their wounds.
At first she had come preparing to face the Simian and ended up at the Simian stronghold where she expected the usual ritual humiliation because she was a woman, a nothing with no royal Imperium except her capacity as Qastursh’s ambassador. However the Simian had apparently suspended hostilities because a greater threat now loomed. The mighty Dominion.
The Dominion were terrifying because they were a crack military army. They had excellent weapons and battlefield training rivalled only by the Massagetae. Even the Sarmatian army were not as militarily sophisticated as the Dominion.
So when she addressed the Simian assembly she was unprepared for their news but she did not let it show.
“The Dominion have decided they want to take our lands from us. They seek our iron mines to forge more steel for world domination”
“Prince Taeron, do you bare our weaknesses to the barbarian Sarmatian? They also wish to take our lands.”
Tiirmirise did not of course wish to take their lands. She had quite enough intrigues and plotting to deal with between Ninyas, Spargapises and Vayanes. What she needed to do was return to Ado & Ekiti to prevent whatever mischief was afoot. The Simian assembly subsided and she cleared her throat and prepared to speak.
The Simian Assembly was a large room every bit as opulent as that in Ado or Ekiti. Gold leaf decorations, marble walls and columns and just like Ado and Ekiti council chambers, was decorated with statuary and tinkling water fountains.
In the middle of the assembly chambers of the twin cities, Ado & Ekiti, were two trees entwined together representing the marriage of the Sarmatian and the Massagetae. Whereas in the Simian Assembly one chair was the centre of the room and that belonged to the King.
Tiirmirise stood in the middle of the floor and walked around the room thoughtfully so they could all see her. She wore her black leathers. Black leather trousers and black leather fitted coat which stopped at her waist.
Over that she wore a Sky metal and Simian steel plate composition burnished to a brilliant mirror like shine. The Plate protected her body, her arms her thighs and legs. On her feet she wore silver greaves and black simian boots. Silver spurs, a uniquely Massagetae invention were harnessed to her booted ankles.
Her customary purple cloak swirled around her with each movement. Her hair cut short for battle, bore a delicately ornamented crown made of light weight beaten gold and studded with expensive jewels. She did not normally wear such ostentatious jewellery but the crown like the sceptre of office she carried made a statement.
If she were to wear her diadem and not much else they would never believe she acted with the authority and Imperium of the Sarmatian nation. Her face battle scarred, and her missing eye which was covered by a steel and diamond encrusted eye patch did not only make her look fiercesome and terrifying but also portrayed her as a person to be reckoned with. This was no harem soft harem bred simpering female. This was a warrior Queen, a Lady of Battles.
“I too have my problems at Sarmatia. As you well know we recently survived an assassination attempt which decimated several members of the royal family and till date no one knows who perpetrated it. I have come on behalf of Our King Qastursh, to negotiate a truce with the Simian. A mutually beneficial non-aggression treaty.
“We want more than that. We need more than that. Queen Tiirmirise. The Dominion will take our lands and once they learn of the fertility of your lands and the abundance of your gold mines they will find an excuse to take your lands also and they will not stop till they have enslaved every last Sarmatian.”
“What do you ask of us Lord Taeron?” Tiirmirise regarded the Minister carefully. Taeron’s youth masked an intelligent mind. He was the King’s second youngest son and was politically astute.
She had yet to meet the Crown Prince Aresteion but she already had several dealings with the wily Taeron over the Simian steel she used to equip her armies and she knew him to be a tough negotiator and utterly corrupt.
“An alliance sealed by marriage between one of the daughters of Qastursh and a son of the Simian.”
Tiirmirise knew she was on thin ground here. Ever since the assassination attempts Qastursh had become extremely protective of his daughters.
“Our King guards his daughters jealously and he will not give even the meanest of his daughters into concubine.”
“She will be the only wife. I swear it!” A voice shouted from the doorway of the chamber.
Tiirmirise swirled around to find the owner of the earnest voice.
“And whom are you to so swear?”
“I am Aresteion. Crown Prince of the Simian.”
Tiirmirise studied him carefully. He appeared physically trim. His eyes blazed with intelligence and a passion. He wore his royalty like a cloak of power. Arrogance and pride emanated from his pores and he was exactly as she expected the King’s son to be.
“Very well. I will aid you in your battle at this time. When spring comes again you may choose your bride.”
He bowed mockingly. Tiirmirise turned to face the rest of the Assembly. “By your kind permission I will come with you on this expedition. I would like to see how the Dominion fight. I will also send word to the nearest battalion. The winters will be upon us soon and the passes will be impossible. I do not think the Dominion wish to be on the Plains whilst we bed down in one of our strongholds for winter with fully stocked supplies.”
Taeron was not convinced. “We shall see.”
“Make way for the King! Make way for the King!”
The assembly bowed to receive the king and Tiirmirise sat down in her chair. The Simian King looked every inch his sixty seven years. His age sat on him like a lead weight as he recounted the tale of their shocking defeat. 30 000 Simian troops defeated by 5000 Dominion troops.
Tiirmirise turned to Vayanes and whispered. “I don’t understand, isn’t King Silenion supposed to be a notoriously bad general? Why did Aresteion or Taeron not take command.”
“Aresteion had already left on another expedition when news came of the Dominion sightings. Under Simian law when the crown prince or the ruling princes are absent the king may go into battle. Since Neither Taeron nor Aresteion were not around Silenion had to go. The timing was most unfortunate for them but very fortunate for us since it is known that you my lady have never lost a battle.”
“I am glad this is Simian land, the amount of intriguing and plotting that goes on at home is so high that If I didn’t know better, I would suspect that one of the conservative viziers after a Simian concession engineered the absence of the too princes.” Tiirmirise whispered back.
“But you do know better my lady.” Vayanes drawled.
“Did you have a hand in it?” Tiirmirise hissed
“Even if I did I would never admit it. Always remember Tiirmirise there is more than one way to skin a cat besides the defence of Sarmatia is our ultimate goal. You do it by soldiering, I do it with politics.”
“We are defenceless how can we get another army together in so short a time.” One of the Simian ministers said wringing his hands. There was almost a palpable groan in the hall.
“Well I do not know how much time we have but in 14 days when they have finished their assignment we will have 5000 Sarmatian troops at your command.”
“Well ten thousand returned with the King and we can levy another ten thousand.” Taeron said thoughtfully.
“Yes but how to outfit them all and they will need training.”
Tiirmirise addressed the assembly without bothering to stand up and ignored the raised eyebrows. “Strip the dead. Your dispatches did say the Dominion left the field looking for the King.”
“They will be coming here?” Silenion asked horrified
“Only if they think the King is in residence” Taeron drawled. She could almost see a apart go off in his head.
“We would have to prepare for a siege. Eventually” Aresteion sighed.
As the preparations got under way the Sarmatian army was not able to reach the Simian capital in time. Instead they camped a way off and the Massagetae army simply found a city to bed down and wait for winter to end. It was a clever decision because winter was hard on the plains. Once the snow fell all the animals went into hibernation.
Unlike Sarmatia which every so often had wooded groves and in the north there was an abundant forest the There were no trees, no woods at all in the land of the Simian. Their fruit grew mainly on bushes or under ground. The Simian imported wood from Sarmatia and used coal to heat up their houses. Wood for them was a luxury.
It also meant that the siege was harder on the besieging army than it was on the defenders. In the deepest of the mid winter a little party stole into the castle and there was a lot of pandemonium when they was discovered. The people were arrested and would have been killed had not Tiirmirise recognised the party.
“Candace! What is the meaning of this?”
“Majesty! The lithe woman threw herself on the floor. We travelled to bring you news that the Sarmatian army is holed up in the nearby city of Tasruk. Unable to come to your rescue. We come to ask your plans. I could not risk sending a bird as it would be noticed so I had to come myself.”
“You know this intruder?” Taeron was furious.
As well he might be their security had been compromised and he was thinking if it had been compromised then the Dominion could also compromise it.
“Yes she came with news.”
“You will return to Makeda and Nnandi, Tell them to wait till the end of winter. The Dominion will leave of their own accord then they are to rendezvous with me here.”
“As you command Dreaded lady. Take precautions before you leave that no one else can sneak in the way you did.”
“I already have Dreaded lady.” She grinned addressing the queen by the ancient honorific title of conqueror used by the Massagetae for their warrior queens.
Tiirmirise returned to her bedchamber and took off her cloak. She unstrapped her sword belt and was about to lay it down when she noticed something was different. She sniffed the air. Her room smelt different. There was someone there who was not supposed to be. The scent was familiar. Her room was warm from the coal fire in the grate and the room slightly stuffy so it was easy to tell if someone had been in there.
“Come out.” She said quietly
She heard a giggle and Minae appeared from behind a silver drape. Tiirmirise exhaled with relief and placed her sword on the table. As usual she was clad in very little. The room was indeed very warm so she did not need to wear so much.
“What are you doing here Minae?”
“I couldn’t bear to be parted from you Tiirmirise I love you.” She said earnestly
“You do not know what love is and you have come at a bad time. I take it you persuaded Candace to bring you here.”
“Aren’t you even the slightest bit happy to see me?”
Tiirmirise smiled “You know I am little one.” Minae threw herself against the black Queen and wrapped her arms around her slim leather clad body.
“I sincerely hope you do not intend to go amongst the Simian dressed like that.” The black queens brows receded upwards into her hairline.
“Jealous?” She teased
“Extremely!” Tiirmirise drawled
Minae giggled and standing on tiptoe lifted her face expectantly upwards for the kiss she fully expected to come. She was not disappointed.
Tiirmirise pulled away and removed the eye patch. Her injured eye started to weep when exposed to the atmosphere. She washed her face with water and soap and then rubbed an ointment made especially for it on the eye. Finally she put on a more comfortable cloth patch. Having dressed her wound and washed her hands she turned to face Minae.
“You should not have come. The situation is soon to be desperate. I will make arrangements for Candace to take you back to Sarmatia.”
“It is too late for that Candace has already left. Why can’t I stay?”
“I don’t trust the Simian. Besides you are too beautiful to be a princess no one will believe you are not a body slave.”
“What a way you have with compliments.” She slid her hands down Tiirmirise belly and tugged at the leather strappings of the Queen’s breeches.
“What a way you have with Queens.” Tiirmirise drawled
Tiirmirise ever resourceful managed to sneak a letter to Qastursh in Ado and he read it in the Council Hall with glee and a little concern.
“My Husband, I pray that this letter finds you in good health. I have interesting news for you. The army that defeated Silenion so easily was turned back from the city walls. The people stayed put inside. The city was built to withstand both the siege and the horrible winter, the worst in ten years and the Simian have put it down to the favour of the gods.
There was nothing to scavenge from the land. The snow fell in thick powder every day and every night. The wind blew tirelessly. There were no trees or any thing to temper the rage of the elements and there was no wood to build palisades to protect the enemy army because the wood was being used to keep the army warm.
The canvas tents the dominion army brought were little protection against elements, the winter was so horrible and the ground so barren that the Dominion army literally froze to death outside our gates.
Eventually they decided to leave and gathered what troops they had left. Our own Sarmatian troops yet to arrive, we took my vanguard of 500 Massagetae and some of the Simian army and anticipated their route then using the snow as cover we ambushed them at night. None of the Simian troops thought that we could defeat the Dominion but defeat them we did.
Unfortunately instead of accepting their surrender and letting that be an end to it Silenion still smarting from that last defeat forced every Dominion soldier to pass under a yolk. An insulting symbolic gesture to the Dominion I believe.
He also extracted a promise from the Dominion general and a treaty with the Dominion granting all sorts of trading terms and addressed the letter to the 3rd man in charge in the Dominion. The Speaker of the Senate House. Another Insult I believe to their two consuls. I think I have won some measure of respect for our people from the Simian.”
The letter did not end there. Qastursh did not think it important to read the rest of the letter out to the assembly which read “ My husband, I beg you to be careful. The Simian have informed me there is much plotting and intriguing at court.
Ninyas plotting is responsible for our damaged relations with the Simian. You must do what you can to counter it and do keep an eye on the other girls. Minae is here with me and is safe. She managed to sneak through enemy lines and I believe Prince Aresteion has taken a shine to her.”
She signed off and the King sighed. Tiirmirise was like a force of nature her absence in the palace was felt through out the Kingdom very keenly indeed.
After winter spent with the Simian Tiirmirise army finally arrived just before the end of winter. Her army was different from that of preceding Sarmatian Kings.
Most of their armies and indeed most of the surrounding kingdoms drew their soldiers from the landed classes. Men of small holdings who needed to return to the fields during certain times of the year to plant crops, harvest, crops and manage their lands.
Her armies were drawn from the landless masses. Men and women who had nothing to lose but their Sarmatian citizenship or Massagetae nobility if they were sold into slavery during a war.
Since no Sarmatian, whether Massagetae, Getulae or Trigantae could be a slave, a man or woman in debt sold themselves to the state to pay their debt.
The state paid the money from their sale to the creditor. The debtor then worked for the state for a reduced salary. The system worked because more often than not the State always needed workers for the army, building work like sewers, aqueducts, temples, schools and other construction work. It kept the economy growing and put food in people’s bellies.
Since all Sarmatians were also educated up to a certain level by the state the landless classes were largely numerate. It was one of Qastursh’s father’s laws and had been strictly enforced by Qastursh himself. This made it easier to teach them to recognise flags, numbers, letter and symbols and thus easier to train in battle and maintain discipline.
Finally the landless had no preconceived notions or traditions of military service so she was able to mould them into a disciplined military force with their own unique fighting style which to her mind suited the national character of the country.
They were easily adaptable to taking evasive action, some specialised in guerrilla warfare, others in mounted attacks, others were especially trained for infantry work, others yet for construction, artillery and even the navy. Her entire army was superbly trained rivalled only by the disciplined Dominion. It had taken her ten years to get them that way for Tiirmirise was now well into her thirties.
Further Tiirmirise herself made a highly emotive rallying point for her armies. The story of the Falcon and her victory over the barbarian Nesian horde had swept across the tribes of the plains like wildfire. She gave each battalion a beautiful gold Falcon, which had its wings spread upon a very tall pole the top of which was wrapped with a sheet of gold.
The Falcon was carried by the most decorated man in the battalion. The Falconier. Each battalion swore to keep the Falcon from falling into enemy hands. The Falcon was an embodiment of the State and the People of the plains. This then was the highly trained professional army that came to the aid of the Simian.
Like most, the Simian assumed the Sarmatian army was made up solely of cavalry troops because of their reputation as horse breeders and merchants. They were therefore surprised to see both cavalry and infantry troops decked out in Sarmatian colours of Red and Black.
The Dominion returned in Spring with twenty thousand strong army and despite Tiirmirise orders they decided to give battle. Tiirmirise was furious and refused to fight. She claimed she was waiting for Qastursh’s orders to join battle. Still with over fifty thousand men the Simian outnumbered the Dominion. Yet they were soundly beaten.
Tiirmirise had observed the battle from her vantage point on top of a hill. She had seen how excellently the Dominion General one Lucius Cassius had deployed his troops and conducted the whole engagement. The Simian fled in complete disarray. Tiirmirise watched coldly as Aresteion fought for his life. She was torn in two minds whether to rescue him or let him die. Why?
She suspected Minae was in love with Aresteion and Tiirmirise was extremely jealous. She’d often wished she could kill the Simian prince and shove his self satisfied smirk down his handsome corded throat. However she knew Aresteion was also smitten with the Princess who literally had him wrapped around her little finger. That could only be advantageous to Sarmatia. She paced the hill above the battle restlessly but not to Tiirmirise.
They all awaited her orders. Pasiphae was angry. She knew what the Queen ought to do. Everyone knew what the queen ought to do and yet Tiirmirise hesitated.
The Dominion were not expecting the lightning fast raid to rescue the beleaguered Prince Aresteion. Pasiphae rode into battle and was truly a terrifying sight.
Her ululating screams and the fact she rode into battle beside the black queen without wearing much in the way of armour. No plate, no chain mail her long brown hair flowing behind her, her spear held high. Arrows did not touch her and she brushed aside the javelins aimed at her with unconscionable ease.
Her skill with spear and shield was phenomenal and when an enemy soldier finally broke it she simply drew her short sword and stabbed him in the throat. His blood spurted every where like red ochre. The Dominion had already nicknamed her carnifex “the Butcher”.
She fought back to back and toe to toe with Tiirmirise. Stabbing and slashing with the curved scimitar swords, made of sky metal and peculiar to the Massagetae.
It was very different from the regular issue Sarmatian short stabbing sword. Massagetae sky metal was mined from rocks that fell from the heavens and contained an iron ore not found on earth. It was stronger than Simian Steel and the blade could be folded five thousand times. They never rusted and it was said such a sword could cut through Simian Steel like butter which was off course the most durable metal known to mankind.
Aresteion refused to leave the field and flee. Tiirmirise tried to reason with him as her father fought beside her in the Massagetae vanguard. Aresteion soon realised where the warrior Queen got her short temper from.
Irritated with the conversation, Jbenga, Tiirmirise father cuffed him, knocking him unconscious and flung him over his horse and the Massagetae vanguard were gone as quickly as they had come. Pasiphae thought she heard Tiirmirise mutter under her breadth “I wish I‘d thought of that.”
In the rest of the field the war went sorely for the Simian. The Simian general who was the overall commander of the army and who according to tradition held the centre was beheaded and his gory remains paraded for all to see on a pike.
The Simian fled in complete disorder and the greedy Dominion this time stripped the bodies of the dead so the Simian could not quickly re-arm a new army. However the time he took to gather spoils also delayed him and it would be another 14 days before he was able to conduct another major engagement against the Simian.
They were in the Simian command tent and the generals held an emergency meeting after the battle.
“I will take command of this army. I have fifteen thousand troops now in your territories to your exhausted ten thousand.”
“What can you a woman do against these devils” Parmenion one of the Simian generals spat blood as he spoke. The healers bandaged him up in the command tent.
“I can beat them.”
“Easily.” Tiirmirise said maddeningly and Makeda rolled her eyes. She could see that Tiirmirise was going to enjoy basking in her moment as much as possible. Everyone could see the queen was dying to say I told you so but she did not. Tiirmirise had more political savvy than that.
“Actually things are not as bad as they seem, Areisteion, I believe should be reinstated as the titular head and overall commander-in-chief of this campaign.
“But If I win all the glory will be mine.” Areisteion had been humbled he was no longer his usual swaggering arrogant self.
Tiirmirise smiled “You’ll need it. Qastursh is not going to give his daughter to a loser now is he. If we win as I believe God wills it, The Sarmatian King will see you as a worthy suitor for his daughter. Your Majesty King Silenion I believe it best you return to the capital and ask your son Taeron to persuade the Simian assembly to raise more money to fight this war. We will need to establish and consolidate our supply lines. An army marches on its stomach and not just its feet.
“Bossy woman!” The king huffed.
“Merely a suggestion your majesty merely a suggestion.” Tiirmirise bit into an apple.
“Please continue your majesty.” Silenion bowed to her.
Tiirmirise bowed back to him and continued. “Thank you your majesty.”
He more than the others knew how utterly hopeless the situation was. Unlike most kings he was actually quite humble. Aristeion had enough pride and arrogance for both of them.
“The Dominion will not be expecting us to launch a co-ordinated attack. They regard us as oaffish barbarians with no intellectual capacity. We shall therefore surprise them.”
The Massagetae Queen was to be proved right for Lucius Cassius in his pursuit of the Simian was supremely confident he would encounter no organised resistance marched towards the capital without tightening ranks or sending out scouts. The Dominion fell easily for the ambush set for them.
There were no trees or groves or forests. The ground was flat as the eye could see. Anyone who tried to sneak up on them would be visible and in plain sight or so the Dominion general thought.
Unfortunately that was not the case. The Simian passed underground in a series of tunnels which had been dug by their ancestors for years. It was after all their land and they knew more about it than their opponents. After outflanking the Dominion army they then burrowed into the grass lay down flat and waited for them to march into the trap.
The Dominion were slaughtered to a man. Tiirmirise was utterly ruthless. There was nothing like the insulting but merciful end of marching under a yoke and delivering sophisticated insults meted out by the Simian.
Tiirmirise gave orders they were to take no prisoners. This very act shocked the Simians. The sheer cold bloodedness of the executions and the relish that the Sarmatian Princess Pasiphae took in obeying Tiirmirise's order was terrifying.
Tiirmirise had given Pasiphae the task of disposing of the prisoners. She knew full well that the other Massagetae and Sarmatian generals would have baulked at such an order. It was why Pasiphae was one of her high ranking generals.
She followed orders with unquestioningly loyalty and the black Queen manipulated her lust for blood to suit her own ends. Apart from the expense of maintaining slaves and the impact on the economy, well It was not well met to dishonour a defeated enemy and since death was better than dishonour…
“God help you if you or yours were ever captured Tiirmirise.” Prince Aristeion shook his head.
“If me or mine were ever captured, I would expect them to end their own life before they surrendered. The Massagetae do not prosper well as slaves.” Tiirmirise said coldly.
Tiirmirise had been furious when she learned just after the battle through Vayanes intrigues at the Simian court that in fact the Dominion had only attacked because Aristeion had deliberately provoked the war with the Dominion as part of Ninyas plot.
The atrocity against the prisoners was meant to be a lesson to the Simian and it was effective. They would think twice before engaging the Massagetae in any battle or war and further they were more than willing to sign a military alliance.
As for the Dominion they would think twice before they thought of attacking the Massagetae. Although it was spring the Dominion would have to wait for the next year before they could do anything. Twenty thousand men was a large number of men. Men who would not return to harvest the wheat from the fields or the fruits from the orchards.
They could not spare men for now but they would outfit an army and take revenge. As summer turned into autumn and the Dominion needed to outfit their army and harvest their crops the campaign season came and went and it seemed unlikely they would launch another attack that year.
Tiirmirise returned to Sarmatia in Spring and Minae married Areisteion and became Crown Princess of the Simian. She should have been angry, upset depressed even but she felt nothing. She had made love to Minae and then told her why she should marry Aresteion. She well remembered the scene that determined piece of baggage had thrown.
“How can you fuck me so sweetly and then tell me to marry that pompous arrogant bastard!” Minae cried heartbroken.
“Because you are a Princess and must do your duty.” Tiirmirise said softly. Minae did not know it but it was one of the hardest things the Queen had ever had to do in her life.
“I thought you loved me.” She wept her tears falling freely.
“I don’t.” Tiirmirise lied. Her inscrutably bored expression was back. The one that Minae hated.
“I hate you!” She screamed. “I hate you!” Tiirmirise motioned for the Massagetae guards to carry her away. After Minae left one of the tribes in Northern Sarmatia began to rebel. They refused to send tribute defected on a payment and against her advice Qastursh sent Spargapises to settle the matter.
“For crying out loud Qastursh the boy is barely 19 he cannot manage a campaign never mind a war of attrition against your own people!”
“Your son may have seen only 19 summers but he has organised a plot to kill me!”
“You have no proof!” She hissed. By the heavens he made her so mad! Qastursh’s relationship with his wife was more like that of best friends or brother and sister. They were good friends but they also had terrible fights and it was always often over Spargapises.
It was the only time Tiirmirise’s slow well modulated tones became a high piercinging shrill and she sounded more like a screaming banshee. That in itself was terrifying except that Qastursh’s answering screams held a higher pitch than his wife’s.
They were like a pair of fish wives when they argued. Priceless vases broke as they smashed against the mirror behind Tiirmirise. He just wanted to hurl things at that beautiful head not that it would ever sink any sense into it. She in turn either deflected the vases or dodged them.
They never ever committed physical violence against each other but they did on anyone else that was handy. When the disagreements began the slaves got out of the way. Qastursh had once kicked a kneeling slave in anger broken his toe and hopping from foot to foot in the middle of Tiirmirise’s hysterical giggles. The terrified slave lay cowering on the floor. Tiirmirise generously dismissed him.
Now once more in the middle of a blazing row between the king and queen a row which Tiirmirise was not going to win because Qastursh was very determined.
“I have seen it. It is whispered in the palace and in the streets have you seen the graffiti on the walls. My son with a dagger in his hand plunging it into my back. Whilst my wife sits her head buried in scrolls and laws and trade treaties and trying to build the biggest racing arena on the plains.”
“I care about the economy!”
“The economy! Don’t give me that! You are like all the other bloody Massagetae and Sarmatians on the planet. All you bloody care about gambling on your bloody horses and their bleeding chariot races!”
“I care about you Qastursh! How can you doubt me? I swear to you that if Spargapises were to stab you with a dagger I would kill him myself!”
“That would not suit me my dear because I would already be dead!”
“Then Make Derastes your heir.” Tiirmirise urged
“What put my grandson in danger? Make you vulnerable to Ninyas plots? Would you be able to cope with Spargapises plotting? It would devastate you wife and be assured he will plot against you because he would see such ruse as an attempt by you to seize power. No my dear I will just have to live long enough to see Spargapises reach his majority.”
“Let us hope you do.” Tiirmirise muttered frustratedly under her breadth
Tiirmirise stood over at her window watching the setting sun.
“You miss her don’t you?”
Tiirmirise did not need to turn round. She recognised the voice even as the woman stepped out of shadow and into the light. “Bierae, you are normally asleep at this time. What brings you to my chambers?”
“I could not sleep. I was worried. I thought you might like some company. A game of chess perhaps?”
Tiirmirise nodded and motioned for a slave to set up a game. They played of a while in companionable silence.
“Since Minae left you have become remote and reserved even. When you are not screaming at Father.”
“ Your father deserves to be screamed at. Besides I have ever been reserved Bierae except with Qastursh. The man is maddening.” She moved a chess piece and continued speaking. Bierae was annoyed. Tiirmirise was doing it again. Effortlessly thrashing her at chess.
“Once Spargapises becomes king,” She continued “I will pack up and leave this place.”
“I cannot live here. Death stalks these walls like a vengeful spirit. Something is not right something bad is about to happen. I can feel it.”
“So can I. I hear there has been a deputation for my hand in marriage.”
Tiirmirise was amused. She now knew the real reason the princess could not sleep. She was worried that Tiirmirise was about to marry her off.
“There have been several deputations for your hand in marriage princess but since Minae left your father has become reluctant to marry off any more of his daughters.” Tiirmirise smiled wryly “I don’t think he realised how much he would miss her.”
“Nor did you.”
“Nor did I.” Tiirmirise agreed “Checkmate!” the Queen reached for a goblet of her wine.”
Despite the many frustrations Ninyas had received he yet continued to plot. His last plot had ended with Magba Massinassa double crossing him and mounting his own assault on the throne and in the process killing two of his own sons.
It was a mistake he would never make again. He did not trust Magba and he could not bring him to justice as it would expose his part in the sordid plot to kill the King. This time he was more careful to weave his next plot outside of Sarmatia where it could not be so easily traced to him.
He had arranged for Gypsos to ally itself with Sarmatia. Gypsos had excess food and it was also known as the bread basket of the world. Its fertile alluvial plains inevitably always yielded a great harvest and the Gyptians always needed Wood from the Sarmatians to build ships to transport their goods.
They had access to a seaport and had built a huge lighthouse at Menes the capital of Gypsos. It was said to be the seventh wonder of the world and helped sailors to navigate the treacherous waters around the coast of Gypsos. The Mastabah of Gypsos had died leaving 3 children.
Khufu, Khafren and a sister Nefer. All power resided in the Mastabah but according to the law of Gypsos succession it passed through the female line. To be Mastabah a claimant had to marry the dead Mastabah’s sister, mother or daughter which ultimately had incestuous consequences which in this case was further complicated by the fact that Khufu and Khafre were the sons of the Mastabah by different mothers born on the same day in the same moment so neither could claim to be the first born.
Naturally they both fought over who should marry their younger sister Nefer and had been doing so with the result that not only were they ruining the country but they had also managed to embroil most of the continent in the family quarrel.
One such protagonist was the self-styled emperor of Sirahn, Eugertes Grossbelly. So called for his phenomenal appetite for all things edible. He was famous for his orgies of food and wine and his appetites also extended to conquest and Eugertes thought Gypsos was ripe for the plucking.
At first time of trying he had to return to Sirahn to deal with a coup and consolidate his power which he did ruthlessly. It was during this time that Ninyas persuaded the High Council to make an alliance with the Gypsos. The trap was clever because it played on greed. The favourable trade concessions with the Gypsos were obvious.
So that when Eugertes turned his greedy beady little eyes on Gypsos, the Gyptian royal family hurriedly called a truce and then went running off to the Sarmatians for help. Having ruined the country with their incessant internecine fighting they were in no condition to oppose the Sirahn Empire single-handedly.
When they arrived at Ado, the capital of Sarmatia and traditional home of the Massagetae, Qastursh was extremely reluctant to give them any aid. However Ninyas had planned well.
Firstly he used Nefer to seduce Tiirmirise to their cause. Tiirmirise, Ninyas noted like all Massagetae had a weakness for beautiful women. Especially those who played the victim. It was easy for Nefer to play the helpless princess and convince Tiirmirise that they needed aid. She also thoroughly enjoyed seducing the Queen and wished all her royal duties was as enjoyable.
Khufu’s approach was less subtle. He simply gifted Qastursh with a pair of handsome rugged young Gypsos soldiers. So that by the time Tiirmirise and Qastursh were trying to persuade the Viziers in the Council Hall to send help to the Gypsos, Ninyas the cunning fox was bribing the Viziers to refuse which so exasperated the King that he rode roughshod over the Viziers and jeopardised his political allies in the council.
“Enough! I am King. Tiirmirise go and kick out Gross Belly from Gypsos.”
“Ninyas got up “If that is your command brother, we will not disobey it but I would remind his majesty that the Viziers cannot agree to spend the money required to outfit another army. Your majesty has already commanded young prince Spargapises to escort princess Minae to the Simian border and assist them against the threat of the Dominion attack come spring.”
“We sent only ten thousand troops. We can raise fresh troops.” Makeda yelled at him from the floor.
“How many troops do you intend us to outfit for the war against the Sirahn empire. Ten thousand, twenty thousand fifty thousand and who will pay for this war Gypsos or Sarmatia?”
Nnandi glared at Vayanes. “She hated politics. She much preferred being on a battle field and sorting out logistics and operations. She was an administrator not a politician. However she was also a Vizier in council and these matters concerned her.”
She leaned over to Jbenga, Tiirmirise father. “There is mischief afoot here my lord mark my words.”
“Aye and his name is Ninyas!” Osamaye finished. He was a rising young star who had attached himself to Tiirmirise faction and was angling for a military post. He was not Massagetae like Jbenga but a Sarmatian from the Gaetulae tribe.
Since the fastest way to a distinguished political career was to distinguish oneself in battle and thus gain a post in the council and then the Grand council young men like Osamaye were often warmongers. It was why Nnandi did not necessarily believe Ninyas could have a hand in such a diabolical plot.
There were so many parties who wished to go to war and there was also the peace party which was made up of merchants like the Ijesha family who wanted Peace to build up their already enormous fortunes.
“We don’t have time for this!” Khufu roared
“Prince Khufu I would like to remind you that you are merely a guest here and should only be seen and not heard.” Vayanes yelled back at the young Gyptian Prince. Who subsided in his seat under the glare of Scaures the newly appointed speaker of the Council Chamber.
“We must keep our obligations to the Simian. I propose Queen Tiirmirise go to Eugertes and tell him to return to Sirahn.” Magba Massinassa said smiling evily.
“I am sorry Dread Lady but we all heard the King and his command must be obeyed.”
“Are you proposing Lord Ninyas, that I should go alone with no army to Euguertes Grossbelly and demand he return back to Sirahn?” Tiirmirise asked incredulously.
“Actually I am not proposing anything. The viziers have refused to vote you troops and the King COMMANDS that you go and tell Grossbelly to return to Sirahn. Besides you wouldn’t exactly be alone would you.
You can always take your beloved Massagetae oh and the King’s standard and sceptre to show you have the royal Imperium to contract treaties.” Ninyas smiled ferally knowing how well he had neatly trapped her.
Euguertes Grossbelly would likely kill her where she stood and ignore the ludicrous suggestion that he retreat when she only had 500 Massagetae at her back to his 30, 000 strong army.
She could almost compute his next move. Qastursh would die in an accident and with Spargapises yet to reach his majority it was only a matter of time before he killed her son and took the throne either that or he would frame the prince for treason.
All he then had to do was marry off his various nieces for political alliances leaving him clear to rule unchallenged. She could have kicked herself and kicked Qastursh. She didn’t instead she glared at him and Qastursh realising his political blunder put his hands on his head and closed his eyes as he realised the import of his situation.
Tiirmirise bowed “If that is the will of the council.”
“The Princes and Princess shall of course remain behind till you have the country back under control.” Ninyas smiled ferally. He had won the first round.
This time Saronne knew she had gone too far but there it was. She had done nothing when the Massagetae Princess had beaten two of her colleagues till they were nothing but a bloody mass of flesh but she was damned if she was going to allow the child in front of her to be assaulted or used in such a way.
She did not care how much it was going to cost her personally. She herself had a daughter somewhere and she hoped if her own daughter ever found herself in such a situation some kindly stranger would do as she had done.
She had taken one look at the terrified young girl and smuggled her out into the household of Archimenides and his wife. Archimenides was the miller. Everyone bought corn or wheat from the market place but invariably they had to go to a miller to grind it.
Archimenides had inherited two silver mill stones from a distant Simian cousin. His bread did not have stones and other bits of gravel which fell from the grind stones into the flour as it was ground consequently he was one of the most popular Millers and also very rich.
A kindly man he had befriended Saronne when she first arrived after she treated him for gout free of charge and on the house. Naturally she knew she would not be able to keep her guilty secret for long and waited anxiously for the Brothel keeper to find out and kill her.
He did find out and he was furious. He ordered that she be thrown into one of the rooms whilst he decided what her fate would be.
He never got to decide because he died of a heart attack and the niece a genteel lady decided she did not want to sully her hands with such a sordid business. All the slaves were to be sold as was the house and everything in it.
In the meantime the woman had the Saronne herself catalogue all the slaves, all the debts owed and all the items outstanding and whilst her actions were not discovered so that once more Saronne found herself facing the prospect of another slave auction in Gypsos due to another genteel do-gooder.
The Making of the Legend
Tiirmirise went to her chamber and immediately started giving orders. Her Massagetae were to go and make the young Prince Derastes safe. She placed him in the care of his great-grandfather Jbenga and his great Uncle Xango. They were to retreat to the ancestral home of the Massagetae till further notice. The southern Massagetae lands were large and could be quite inhospitable to an invading army or force.
“Let me come with you sister” Xango begged.
“You have no offspring brother. Had your line been secure I would have welcomed your sword this day. However I am a grand-mother at barely thirty six. I can afford to lose my life.”
“Do not do anything stupid daughter.” Jbenga warned.
“I will take Candace and 300 other Massagetae with me Pasiphae and Nnandi will go with the others and to see to the safety of my grandson and his mother Princess Aleye and meet me in Gypsos. Spargapises has twenty thousand troops with him. If they cannot protect their prince they do not deserve to call themselves Sarmatian.”
Tiirmirise continued to put on her armour angrily. She carried her helmet under her arm and went out into the courtyard. Her purple cloak denoting her royalty blew in the wind swirling violently around her. She clambered onto her big black stallion Mordenes, in one elegant athletic movement.
In her black armour with the silver face mask she looked quite terrifying. She rode out with the Massagetae behind her in a sea of black and purple. Above their billowing flags rising on top of a gold pole was her personal emblem the golden Falcon.
They travelled over land as far as they could before taking a pleasure barge up river to Menes and then proceeded on horse until they encountered Eugertes Grossbelly of Sirahn and his army. She stood at the top of a hill several thousands of yards away. She made camp set up her tent and after a light lunch sat down to wait patiently for him.
Eugertes did not have a sophisticated scouting system. He had a large army. The largest army in these parts, the Gyptians were in disarray and he did not expect any resistance. Therefore the King was not happy to see the Sarmatian Flag and even worse a possible Sarmatian army.
He was on bad terms with the Dominion and he needed all the friends he could get. He did not need a war with Tiirmirise. The only person who had so far managed to defeat the Dominion. However he also had his eyes on Gypsos. After waiting several hours he eventually approached the Sarmatian command tent.
The King waddled over to where Tiirmirise stood in full terrifying battle armour. Her face unreadable behind the terrible silver mask that formed part of her helmet. He knew of her many titles which she had earned amongst which were the lady of battles given by the Simian King Silenion in recognition of her help to the Simian Nation, The Falcon of Sarmatia and Queen of the Massagetae.
King Eugertes frowned at her. “Sarmatia has no business in Gypsos.” His three his chins wobbled angrily as he spoke sternly.
“And Sirahn” said Queen Tiirmirise in dangerously dulcet tones “Has no business in Gypsos.”
“Go back to Sarmatia.” said King Eugertes
“Go back to Sirahn” retorted Tiirmirise.
Neither moved. Each sized the other up. Eugertes knew Tiirmirise reputation. He knew she had never lost a battle in her fifteen years as Queen and during that time Sarmatia had gone from being a country of barbarians to a military Superpower that even the mighty Dominion feared.
He himself paid tribute to the Dominion and had witnessed how they broke his father. He was aware that his relationship with them was not good and even worse if it had been they were in the midst of a civil war and would not be able to come to his aid.
“King Qastursh commands me to order you to return to Sirahn.”
“You and who’s army?”
“I need no army. I am Tiirmirise, Queen of the Massagetae, Dreaded Lady of the Plains and by the authority invested in me by the People of the Plains I am ordering you to leave.”
“Absolutely not! Now see here…I…”
The black Queen drew her sword and advanced towards the shrinking King. Tiirmirise and the Massagetae dispatched his personal bodyguard of eight in a matter of moments. Isolated, exposed and several hundred yards away from his army except for the four trembling slaves who carried his great girth on his platform, Tiirmirise drew a circle on the ground with the tip of her bloody sword around the traumatised and now trembling King.
“Before you step out of this circle I advise you to ponder your actions most carefully. Your Imperial majesty and when you do step out of it ensure you are facing east and well on your way home to Sirahn.”
Time stood still as Eugertes’ face turned beet red under his black oily curled and wired wig beard at the realisation he had just shat himself. He ordered his men to turn around to face East and he marched off taking his army with him.
Tiirmirise returned to Gypsos where she found the trembling Gyptian army. Gypsos treated her like a conquering hero and opened its gates to her. Tiirmirise then sent word to the Princes Khafre, Khufu and Princess Nefer.
She was riding toward the Docks of Menes to visit the infamous lighthouse that the Mastabah Narmer the great had built in Gypsos with her Massagetae bodyguard. Tiirmirise was chatting desultorily with Candace when she saw her. She was being auctioned on a platform with six other female body slaves. She took Tiirmirise’s breadth away.
“A Goddess made flesh.” was the thought that came to her mind. She did not realise she had said the words out loud till Candace groaned and rolled her eyes. Tiirmirise shifted uncomfortably on her horse and was glad her helmet and face mask covered her expression. It was not seemly for a Queen to be seen drooling in public.
Candace turned her head to regard the Queen. She too wore her helmet but no face mask. Candace’s eyebrows almost disappeared into her helmet as she turned to see what had gotten Tiirmirise so entranced. The Queen of the Massagetae and Sarmatia was staring at a slave auction. Hell half the docks was staring at the slave auction. Many slaves were bought and sold on the docks of Menes every day but not like this one.
Her beauty was raw and sensuous yet innocent. In a country of beautiful people of all colours, hues and skin tones she stood out from the others who stood on the raised wooden platform. The fact she stood out from the slaves on the dais was a testament to her sheer beauty because the other slaves on the dais were absolutely stunning.
Tiirmirise stopped Mordenes, her stallion and the other two Massagetae bodyguards almost clattered into her. She barely heard the auctioneer’s sales pitch as he persuaded potential buyers how skilled and well trained the body slaves were.
She was especially expensive but then Tiirmirise knew she would be. However she was not expensive because she was a beautiful body slave she was expensive because not only did she read and write but she was also a healer.
Candace cleared her throat in an effort to regain Tiirmirise’s attention. They were supposed to be meeting with the Gyptian Viziers and putting forward their solutions to the current political crisis in Gypsos and here was Tiirmirise mooning over a slave girl!
"Excuse me, Your Majesty the meeting?" Candace inquired.
"Those old farts can bloody wait. They will do nothing without me.”
“Your majesty let us go you can send one of the factors to bring her to the palace.” Candace said exasperatedly.
Tomryis ignore her as though she had not spoken. The Queen was still dressed in full battle gear for she had planned to intimidate the hell out of the Gyptian advisers and ministers.
Tiirmirise rode to the raised dais where the auction was being held and slid of her black stallion Mordenes ignoring what she knew would be another roll of the eyes from Candace. Candace was well justified in rolling her eyes too.
Tiirmirise already owned eight exquisitely beautiful and extremely talented body slaves in Ado alone and twice that many bath attendants had been put at her disposal in Gypsos so she really did not need another body slave. Candace knew from experience however that once decided on a course of action Tiirmirise would not listen.
Tiirmirise was determined to possess the blonde beauty whose eyes watched her almost challengingly from the wooden dais. The black Queen was aware that the slavers and their customers were terrified and awed by her presence and reputation.
The crowd parted for her to pass. Only a dithering idiot would have stood in her way. She terrified grown battle hardened warriors with her sheer presence on the battlefield so the effect on a soft civilians populace unused to fighting was akin to watching a living nightmare come to life.
Her black leathers worn under burnished steel armour which glinted in the noon day sun gave her a sinister appearance. She wore her sword, daggers and a bull whip which hung from her slim waist.
Now she was amongst civilians she had taken to wearing a whip. She could not just cut off their heads if they annoyed her like she did to enemy soldiers and by the very God of the heavens Gyptian civilians did indeed vex her most sorely.
She climbed the steps slowly till she stood at the top of the platform. They all cringed away terrified. Tiirmirise still wore her helmet and face mask so none could see her face. After she lost her eye Qastursh had a face mask made to protect her face in battle. It was made of steel and polished to a silver like shine. It also made her look like some evil sprung out of a Hellish nightmare.
The Queen walked along the platform with her long legged ranging stride inspecting them like she would examine a piece of horseflesh. She walked nonchalantly up and down the row of seven girls, dispassionately surveying what they had to offer.
The auctioneer an astute and greedy man smelt a profit. The Queen’s silver mask was famous on the continent. Who did not know Tiirmirise and her silver battle mask? The merchant knew if he was clever he could make enough to take him out of the odious family business of trading in the human suffering and into something more lucrative yet suited to his sophisticated sensibilities like gems or spices or even silks.
He surmised that the barbarian Massagetae Queen unused to the sophisticated luxuries of Gypsos and especially the city of Menes would not know the value of what she beheld. However he also had to be careful because she did not know their laws and if she was anything like other barbaric ruling heads he had dealt with she could just as easily behead him on the spot.
Tiirmirise walked up to the first one and coolly asked her some obscure question. She was petrified, and simply fainted at her feet with a whimper. The Massagetae bodyguard snickered and Tiirmirise turned to them till they quieted. They could almost see her glare from behind the mask. She turned her attention back to the slaves.
The second girl hardly fared any better. She just stood there shaking. Tiirmirise stopped and turned to face the merchant. He swallowed hard and his two slaves pushed the third girl forward.
They ripped off her dress and turned her around for Tiirmirise viewing pleasure to the cheers and wolf whistles of the appreciative crowd but Tiirmirise was not looking at her.
The girl was whimpering and sobbing as the merchant groped her showing off her assets. Tiirmirise shook her head to signal her displeasure and he ordered the next girl forward. The Massagetae Queen observed her surreptiously as the next but one girl to her was assaulted.
At least that was the only way Tiirmirise could describe it because the merchant’s assistants were offering her breasts making her bend over to show off her assets one of them even penetrated the protesting woman with his fingers.
The crowd seemed to be enjoying the show. Ooohing and Aaahing with each revelation. Tiirmirise watched the play of emotions across the horrified faces of the remaining waiting slaves.
However when the merchants assistants reached forward with relish to touch her Tiirmirise's whip snaked out viciously and caught the assistants wrist. She yanked it hard pulling the man off the stage and into the crowd who parted so he crashed onto the sandy floor.
“Do not touch her.” The Black Queen hissed venomously. It was a sibilant command all the more shocking because they were the first words the crowd heard her utter. Silence fell like a blanket on the market.
Candace’s eyebrows shot up into her hairline. Firstly Tiirmirise never bought slaves herself preferring to describe what she wanted and then send out the palace factors to get her body servants. Secondly She’d never seen the queen pay attention to anyone like this before.
Candace admitted that the girl was indeed beautiful by any definition. Her body was perfectly proportioned she was generously endowed and brave, very brave or very stupid for she did not cower from Tiirmirise instead she stood up to her. Candace felt a spark of admiration for the poor girl.
From the moment their eyes met Tiirmirise knew she was looking at her destiny, her Afereni. She also felt a searing lust that burned right into her heart which was beating faster for no reason, her hands felt clammy she was short of breadth, she wanted drag her somewhere and ravish her, no she needed to devour her alive, drown in her beauty and never ever come up for air.
She was small this one, her head barely reached the Queen’s shoulder.
Her hair was the colour of golden summer wheat, her eyes like blue sapphires all passionate and flashing fire, intelligent and piercing they seemed to see into the very depths of her soul.
Her lips were rouged red no doubt on the instruction of the slave master and full hinting at a buried simmering passion. Her neck was slender and her frame perfectly proportioned.
Tiirmirise surmised that the reason her skin was only barely bronzed by the sun of Gypsos and her complexion flawless instead of blotched or dark from being in the sun all day was probably because with those generous high full firm breasts, she would have been a temptation to any passer by and her previous owners probably kept her under lock and key.
The Queen resolved she would not allow her to spend to much time outdoors either at least not without a full complement guard. Tiirmirise continued cataloguing her assets, the slim waist, flat belly and gently flaring hips. The queen could imagine her long shapely legs wrapped around her in the throes of lovemaking.
On her way to see the Gyptian courtiers and nobles who ruled in the Mastabah’s absence, Tiirmirise was still in armour. Her purple cloak was lifted by the wind her face hidden as it was by the huge black helmet and steel mask.
She knew she looked as intimidating as the hounds of hell. She terrified armies of grown men so she was intrigued that she did not have the same effect on this little slip of a girl. Finally she took off her gauntlets and gave them to the Merchant to hold for her.
Tiirmirise ached to touch her. Her eyes swept down her body savouring every glorious golden inch before suddenly pulling her forward so she could feel her length against her body.
The Massagetae Queen nearly howled with frustration when she realised she could barely feel her womanly softness because of course she was wearing her fucking armour. The girl rested her hands on Tiirmirise chest but surprisingly she did not fight back or struggle.
The girl continued to stare up at her unblinking even when Tiirmirise ran her hands down her body and under her tunic. Her skin was soft and smooth like satin. The slave closed her eyes as Tiirmirise hands wandered down to cup her firm bottom and then slowly upwards to her breasts. Her thumbs flicked across her nipples which hardened under the gentle caress.
As she stood on the dais all the other slaves looked away from the terrifying warrior, they stared at the ground or up into the sky all eager to avoid the unholy gaze except for her. She looked straight at the black queen as though throwing down a challenge and Tiirmirise burned to possess her.
“What is your name Slave?” The queen asked softly.
“My name is Saronne, my lord.” She said in that soft lilting accent of the Northern Chaldees. The people from there rolled their ‘r’s when speaking and the dialect of Northern Angles was very easy on the ear.
So easy in fact that most of the best Storytellers, minstrels and singers were born in the Northern Chaldees, The lands across the seas. The land known to the People of the plains as the land of the Angles.
The Slave merchant had dressed her to show of her considerable assets and Tiirmirise could feel her whole body tightening with desire, she could barely wait to get her home and drag her into bed. She knew it was merely a matter of time before she lost it completely and took her right there.
She continued to slide her hands over the girl’s body thoughtfully staring into her eyes. Tiirmirise lowered her head to her neck take in her scent and was considering suckling on her hardened nipple also rouged shiny and very inviting.
Before she knew it thought almost became reality as she became so caught up with lust from touching her that it was only the whimpering sob of the terrified slave cowering next to her that brought her back to her senses. Well that and the fact she still had her silver face mask on!
She was absolutely furious that she had lost her control so easily and so publicly. She was also filled with a burning desire that needed to be assuaged immediately. She struggled for breadth within the face mask.
“Saronne you do not fear me?” her words came out harshly from behind the silver mask.
“Should I?” She replied softly.
The merchant’s eyes widened in horror and he stammered his apologies for her. Tiirmirise barely heard him. Instead she was still looking down into the mesmerising blue gaze that seemed to reach inside her chest and touch her heart.
She wanted to ignore the sensation and move on to the next slave, but she really could not take her eyes or her hands off her. Instead she found herself enquiring about her price from the merchant.
“How much?” Tiirmirise asked hoarsely
“Well my lord although she is insolent she is worth her weight in gold. Why she….”
“Make it so Candace.” Tiirmirise said never taking her eye off Saronne.
“Make what so your majesty?”
“Arrangements to pay her weight in gold.” Tiirmirise had made up her mind and swept the girl into her arms effortlessly and carried her like a baby. “And don’t forget my gauntlets.”
The merchant passed out. A gasp went over the crowd and Candace squeaked.
“Are you out of your royal mind.”
Tiirmirise glared at her. Even though she still wore the mask and Candace could not see her face, the steel mask did absolutely nothing to mask her displeasure. Candace could actually feel the Queen’s steely gaze boring at her through the steel mask.
The first time she had given anyone her attention since she had seen the slave and Candace swallowed. Tiirmirise placed the girl on her horse in front of her. One hand loosely held the reins and the other was wrapped possessively around the woman and then they rode towards the Gyptian royal Palace.
Tiirmirise rode with the girl to the Palace built by the Mastabah Narmer which was now the residence of the Gyptian rulers called Mastabah’s and not Kings.
She was extremely reluctant to let her go that she was only persuaded to do so when Candace assigned two Massagetae guard to take her to Tiirmirise private chambers and stay with her swords drawn. A privileged not even reserved for royal princes except in dire circumstances.
The Gyptian grand-vizier Thothrameth was droning on and on and on. Finally Tiirmirise impatiently proposed that when the royal princes and princess returned that Khufu and Khafre both marry Nefer.
After all was said and done a Mastabah was entitled to have many wives no reason why the Queen should not also be allowed to have many husbands They could then rule co-equally or rule in council. There was uproar in council.
The Gyptian viziers said it was taboo, it was wrong unthinkable. This from a people who saw nothing wrong in brothers marrying sisters! Tiirmirise could not care less anymore. Let them sort out their own bloody dilemmas. All she wished to do was to return to her private chamber and her latest acquisition.
Whilst they were digesting this latest uproar few of them would think to question why the Gyptian treasury was missing the weight of a woman in gold. Naturally when the princes returned they would blame the viziers, the viziers would assume the princes spent it in Ado and Tiirmirise would be long gone before they realised what had happened.
She justified her actions on the grounds that she deserved some reward for extricating both the Gyptian royal family and Sarmatia from Ninyas schemes. Besides she shrugged she was not a bloody temple maiden was she.
In the palace Saronne was met by an older man dressed in Gyptian fashion. He wore a long linen loin cloth that fell past his ankles but was gathered in front. On his chest he wore a multi-coloured collar made of gold and semi-precious stones.
At his waist he carried a whip and his bald pate shone in the sunlight whilst his kohl lined eyes condescendingly stared down his beak-like nose with the icy hauteur of a prince.
He cracked his whip and pointed at her imperiously. “You come!”
Saronne slowly approached him and the Massagetae soldiers who had been watching bowed unobtrusively.
“I am Menkiti, Slave master of the royal harem. You will obey my orders. His eyes were grey and colourless like stormy seas. All Saronne could read from his expression was patronising condescension and supercilious pride. He led her down a long corridor with a tiled floor and through an archway to a chamber.
Menkiti clapped his hands loudly and two women immediately obeyed his summons. They were dressed in plain white linen tunics their hair was pulled back at the base of their necks into simple ponytails. Saronne noticed that they were not unattractive and they were also immaculately clean. Menkiti spoke to them in the same condescending lofty manner he used to Saronne and ordered her to sit down.
She sank down with relief her knees felt like water and she would need every ounce of her strength to deal with the frightening monster. If there was one thing she was sure about the warrior would be returning.
The two women entered the chamber carrying food and drink She drank from the clay drinking vessel. It was Gyptian Beer, the local brew but since it was served in the women’s quarters it was sweetened and did not have the dry bitter taste she had come to associate with beer.
They set down a tray of sliced lamb seasoned with coriander, fried onions and garlic, a salad of cucumber, cabbage, olives cheese and radishes, and off course the Gyptian staple bread. The desert was a bowl of pomegranates.
Saronne felt slightly apprehensive. Her experience of slavery thus far had taught her to eat when she was able so she made an effort to eat but she could only manage a few bites and after awhile she stopped eating.
Beside her another slave appeared carrying an armful of the softest Gyptian cotton towels. In front of her was a scented pool of hot water. She could tell it was hot because she could see clouds of steam rising up from it. Menkiti nodded for her to take her cloths off so she could step into her bath.
“I will not take my clothes off in front of you.”
“Strip her!” he commanded. He was a busy man and was not about to take any nonsense from this delightful piece no matter how gorgeous she looked.
Saronne struggled but finally she stood naked in front of the slave master her eyes like daggers. He ignored her and simply ordered the slaves to prepare her bath.
Behind Menkiti she heard a sharp intake of breadth and Saronne shrank back as the Massagetae Queen strode into the chamber. She felt extremely vulnerable as the black steely gaze fairly caressed her body. Saronne considered herself a good height for a woman but the Queen fairly towered above her.
A pale silken mass of pale golden curls tumbled down back; a back that was a delicious curve of ivory. All delicate curves and rounds, Her sweet round breasts thrust upwards were tipped by what looked like pink rosebuds.
Her waist was so narrow Tiirmirise imagined she could span it with one hand. Her bottom swelled gently before tapering into long silken thighs and slim legs. Her complexion was flawless and her skin unblemished.
“Bathe her and send her to my bed.” Tiirmirise said huskily. Then she strode out.
Saronne’s eyes widened. She had stayed at many brothels and with many slave masters but she had always managed to talk her way out of being used for sex because of her other skills which were more often than not more adjudged to be highly valuable.
Except for the Massagetae Lord who was her daughter’s father she had not slept with anyone else and now the Massagetae queen was going to bed her without giving her any choice in the matter.
“Please give me something to cover myself.”
Menkiti’s eyes rose “Gyptians find no shame in the naked body. In fact we display it at every opportunity.”
“I am not Gyptian.”
Menkiti’s mouth tightened and he gestured to the other women. “That much at least is obvious.” He motioned to one of the female slaves “Bathe the new slave!” He commanded.
Saronne found herself being gently coaxed into the hot pool. The women’s eyes were sympathetic but she knew they would force her if she resisted and besides why would she? She was already naked and she felt hot and dirty and greatly in need of a bath.
She had not been in Gypsos long enough to be acquainted with the heated Gyptian pools and she was startled when they poured something from a flagon into the water and clouds of scented steam rose up to fill Saronne’s senses.
When Tiirmirise returned to her bedchamber that evening, she summoned Mya, her Gyptian chamber maid to present her new purchase. Saronne had been stripped of her slave rags and given a bath and some new clothing.
As was the Gyptian and Massagetae custom she had been oiled and dressed in the traditional clothing of a Gyptian slave which was a simple white transparent linen long tunic robe, fitted and cinched in at the waist and breasts which left very little to the imagination.
Underneath her face and body had been painted. Her eyes lined with kohl, her lips and nipples rouged red and shiny.
When Mya brought her in and walked her over to the rug that stood in the middle of the room and left.
Tiirmirise was in her bath naked most of her body under water. The water scented with pine and sandalwood. She was surrounded by several beautiful women who washed her body and hair with wet sponges.
All were naked under their wet tunics which clung to their lithe bodies outlining their curves, thighs and breasts under their clothing and leaving no one in doubt that they were naked.
Saronne stood waiting in the centre of the room. She had expected to be raped by the monster that had assaulted her earlier in the afternoon. However she could see no evidence of the menacing looking creature that had swept her off her feet and onto the black horse.
As her eyes got accustomed to the smell of incense and smoke she could make out a very black woman sitting in a large silver basin surrounded by several other women. She vaguely heard the slave Maya leave and the door close softly behind her.
The woman stepped out of the bath and was swarmed by the body slaves who dried her body with thick cotton Gypsos towels. The softest and best in the world.
The queen chose a pot of oil from the tray and motioned to the slave Mya to use the oil on her body. Tiirmirise closed her eyes as her small hands applied the oil thoroughly and expertly all over her body kneading muscles tense from swordplay and political negotiation.
“Leave us!” She dismissed them with a contemptuous flick of her wrist.
Saronne regarded the woman who now stood naked in front of her. Her hair was short and wavy. She wore a thin diadem on her head. A black eye patch made from wire mesh covered one eye and the other glinted with a steely brilliant intelligence. Her face scarred from a sword slash was mocking and a twisted half smile played about her firm lips.
The woman was lean, lithe and muscular yet curving in all the right places from her pert soft breast to the sweeping line of her hips. Every muscle rippled under her skin which shone like polished ebony under the lamplight. She had one breast the other was horribly scarred and flat.
All over her body were battle scars, marks of her trade. This was no soft noble or spoiled prince. This was a woman forged in the horrors of war. Although the Queen was naked and Saronne fully clothed it was Saronne who felt self-conscious beneath that steely all seeing gaze.
Tiirmirise caught hold of her hand aiming to yank her against her so she could feel her soft body pressed against her. Instead she cupped her fingers around Tiirmirise larger hand and held it comfortably.
Their clasped hands were a perfect fit. Hers so small, soft and fragile, holding her warrior’s callused one. Tiirmirise felt a tightness in her chest as though tiny birds were fluttering around inside. Her heart beat faster thundering in her ears.
What the hell was happening? Tiirmirise stared down at their clasped hands for a moment and then yanked her off her feet against her and ripped the linen tunic to reveal her pale white skin.
Tiirmirise stared down at her for a moment then her hands began to slide caressingly all over her beautifully naked body. The slave was nervous, Tiirmirise could feel her apprehension, The queen watched fascinated as she bit her lower lip.
Saronne was horrified her treacherous body was reacting to the caresses of the queen with unconscionable abandon. Her nipples were hard and throbbing as long black fingers explored her curves deliberately. Tiirmirise looked into her blue eyes arrogantly.
She would break the slave’s resistance and then she would make her serve her. As Tiirmirise lowered her head to kiss her Saronne turned her head away so that the queen‘s lips met with her cheek.
“You can have my body but I beg you leave me my soul.” Saronne whispered because she felt vulnerable and ashamed. She was a princess and an educated woman not a sex slave subject to another’s bodily desires.
“I could take the kiss from you unwillingly.” Tiirmirise whispered forcefully against her ear.
“Yes you could but you would be taking, it would not be willingly given.”
“Is that what you want? For me to force you? Bloody your back with a whip to make you willing?” The quiet question was more menacing than had she roared promising to most cruelly savage her.
“Oh my God No!” She whispered placing her hands on the black queens chest, showing a vulnerability that deeply thrilled the queen and set Tiirmirise's heart to fluttering in her chest.
“Then give in to me.” Tiirmirise said softly.
“No, I cannot.” Saronne trembled slightly her refusal no longer defiant but firm.
“Give me a reason why you cannot,” Tiirmirise said caressing the trembling curve of her hip. They were so close her scent teased her, elusive and womanly yet alluring, her hair was soft in her callused hands.
“I have never slept with a woman before.” She blurted and moved away from the queen.
Tiirmirise laughed “I bought you from a Gyptian slave market and you say you have never slept with a woman before next you will be telling me you are a virgin.”
“No, I am not a virgin but I have never slept with a woman before.”
“That is ridiculous! You are a slave. A slave’s only purpose is to give pleasure to her master or mistress. Do you say that even as a bath attendant you have given no woman pleasure?”
“In my culture women do not sleep with women.”
“Well know this, from this night you are mine and your sole purpose in life is to please me.”
Her black eyed gaze bored into her blue ones even as she was caught in a her dark embrace and kissed with a brutal intensity designed to prove that She was the master and Saronne only a slave.
Tiirmirise groaned inwardly. Her mouth was deliciously soft and compliant beneath hers, then suddenly Saronne fastened her sharp little teeth into the queen’s bottom lip and Tiirmirise had to give her golden hair a vicious tug to force her to let go.
Saronne drew back panting, a victorious light glittering in her ocean blue eyes.
“It is I who have bloodied you Massagetae.”
Tiirmirise was absolutely furious! She raised her hand to hit her but held back her hand in mid-air as she realised with a sickening twist of her stomach that any blow would have smashed the delicate bones of her face. She lowered her hand slowly and glared at the little blonde.
She strode to the doorway and flung it open. “Menkiti!” She roared.
In a moment the eunuch was there kneeling at her feet. He lowered his head so the arrogant Queen would not see the light of admiration he felt for the new slave. He knew instantly Saronne had not yielded to her. The slave still wore her clothes though the queen herself was fully naked.
“This lady thinks she is too fine to come to my bed.” Tiirmirise drawled the word “lady” with emphasis. “She is not yet convinced that she is my slave. I am sure that between the two of us we can persuade her to agree that I own her.”
Menkiti remained kneeling in obeisance. “I will do my best Dread Lady.” Menkiti’s hand went to his whip but before he could brandish it he saw the Queen wince at the punishment he threatened and the Eunuch was amused.
This was no Pasiphae. The Queen wanted the blonde slave desperately but she also did not want her marked or hurt either. He wondered if Saronne knew how much power that gave her.
“You will not beat her!” The queen said softly only for Menkiti’s ears.
Her face an impenetrable mask her voice not betraying the turmoil of desire that was wracking her body.
“You will replace her fine linen with an ugly grey cloth like those street urchins wear, cover her hair with a plain head cloth, scrub her face and body free of cosmetics free from paint and give her only bread and water.”
“I have worn ugly clothes since I became a slave and was stolen from my home this means nothing to me!” Saronne cried.
“Ah, but now you have had a taste of looking exquisite, of feeling light linen and soft silks against your skin your female vanity will not put up with dirt and ugly coarse rags for long.
Even as a slave she had never worn rags because of her looks. How did she know how to attack her pride? She did not know that Tiirmirise had spent many years in a Harem watching women preen and beautify themselves in front of a mirror for a man they would rarely see.
“Tomorrow before the sun is up put her to work scrubbing the tiled floors then you will bring her to my couch and we will see if the lady has had a change of heart.”
“I shall deny you even unto eternity” Saronne said defiantly
“One way or another I shall have you on your knees to me! Now take her away!” Tiirmirise gestured throwing her hands towards the door before crossing her arms across her chest.
Saronne followed Menkiti to the small but airy sleeping chamber. Its walls were plastered in Apricot and there was a motif of the Gyptian sun god Amon-Ra. There was also bed and an ornate golden and lapis lazuli headrest in the Gyptian style but beside it was a simple Sarmatian Pillow stuffed with feathers on the bed.
Saronne much preferred sleeping on the Sarmatian pillow it was similar to those used in the land of the Angles. The Gyptian headrest looked distinctly uncomfortable.
There was a corner hearth for a burning brazier, a dressing table and mirror and even a couch. It did not look like a slave’s room. Menkiti had summoned the house slaves who appeared with scented towels and hot water.
She did not struggle with Menkiti he was only doing his job. After washing and dressing in the coarse slave tunic she got into bed and winced. Even the silken sheets had been replaced with coarse sheets. Menkiti dismissed the other slaves so they were alone.
“Do not be a fool, give the Queen what she desires. I have never seen her hurt one as vulnerable as you. She prides herself on her self-control and in all the time I have been here I have never seen her lust after anyone the way she does for you. Give her what she asks. It is so little.”
“I cannot.” She replied
“Will not, you mean. You were so exquisitely lovely tonight you could have her wrapped around your smallest finger with barely the flutter of an eyelash.”
When Menkiti left shaking his head after extinguishing the torches and candles Saronne reflected on her encounter with the Massagetae Queen. Firstly there was something very familiar about her yet she could not put her finger on it.
She saw her black eye glittering with lust, her coal black hair curling, wavy on her head, her curving feminine body, yet muscular and powerful rippling with muscle. She could see her face with its high cheekbones and eyebrows shaped like knives, so proud, so imperious with the scar that slashed across her face from temple to cheekbone.
Then she reflected on Menkiti’s words as she lay in her bed and admitted she did indeed lust after the ebony Queen. She wanted her to initiate her into the mystical rites of loving a woman all she had to do was give Tiirmirise what she wanted.
Tiirmirise lay naked on top of the her bed her arms were folded behind her head. She could not sleep. She could not sleep because her body was still throbbing from the encounter with her new slave. She was a ruthless Queen, a battle hardened warrior, she exerted the same iron control over her army as she did her body.
The problem was as she watched the wax melt with each candle mark her clitoris throbbed, her nipples remained hard and her woman’s parts ached incessantly begging for the relief that she could take with the little blonde slave.
She got up to call one of the bathers to come and take care of her body’s lust and cursed as she realised that would not do any good. Perhaps if she was dressed like a Massagetae body slave she would act like one. Massagetae slaves wore red chiffon silks.
Their nipples and lips were rouged with red shiny body paint, their pubis shaven their bodies scented with exotic heady perfumes. She moaned as she imagined Saronne in her fantasy dressed as such.
Yes she would order Menkiti to adorn Saronne in such a garment. Tiirmirise wanted her company at the evening meal each night when her duties were done.
Instead of sitting getting drunk with Makeda and Candace or visiting the stews and upper class brothels with Pasiphae she would have Saronne entertain her with civilised conversation instead of an evening of bawdy mime or even worse Gyptian politics.
She would have the slave recline on her dining couch facing her so they could touch and taste each other intimately. Tiirmirise poured herself a goblet of blood red wine and drank it unmixed.
She absently fingered her signet ring the one that carried her seal of delegated authority. She offered thanks to God for the gift of the female slave and another to the ancestors by splashing a dash of wine on the ground.
Well the wine did not help because the Queen found herself pacing her chambers restlessly then she found herself in the slave’s chamber.
Saronne’s eyes flew open. Menkiti had extinguished all the torches and candles so she could not see anything but she sensed someone was out there.
The movement was so quick she barely felt when her hands were bound above her head.
Terrified she kicked out with her feet which were seized in a vice like grip as her eyes became accustomed to the dark and shadow that loomed above her she realised it was the Sarmatian Queen.
Saronne found her voice in a low and breathless whisper. “Please don’t do this.”
The black all-seeing gaze caressed the curves and mounds of the beauty spread before her like a feast. She was so refined so totally different from any other woman she had ever known.
She looked almost ethereal, the way she would imagine an angel to look. Her face so delicate yet sultry, her hands small, her fingers elegant and slim even down to her tapered well manicured nails.
Her mons was doomed high like an arch crowned with golden tendrils, Tiirmirise wondered if the petals of her female centre would be the same rose pink as her soft mouth and the aureolae that crowned the tips of her breasts which were now thrust up lie luscious fruit, ripe for tasting. Tiirmirise stood transfixed, drunk on her loveliness, drowning in desire, burning with need.
“Please….don’t do this?” Saronne begged
“I am…I want you.” Tiirmirise said slowly in a low voice as though she had difficulty forming the words.
Saronne bit her lip and whispered “If you rape me…”
“I have not come to rape you.” Tiirmirise said hoarsely.
“Then why are you here?”
Tiirmirise grimaced “I couldn’t stay away. I need to touch you.” Tiirmirise wrapped one arm about her legs above the ankles and lifted her knees. “I am not going to hurt you.” She reached out to her woman’s centre. Her touch was light and gentle and tauntingly brief. “I want you to touch me.” The Queen whispered.
“Never!” Saronne hissed
“Oh you will. You will.”
Saronne’s eyes widened with shock as she felt a delicious frission of pleasure shoot up inside her as Tiirmirise finger slid up her pink cleft with a sensual lingering caress that made her centre pulsate before sliding up inside her.
Suddenly she was hot and wet, her sheath gripped the finger with a tiny convulsive shudder and then Tiirmirise withdrew her finger slowly and licked it like a cat licking cream.
The queen untied her bound wrists and lowered her body to gather the blonde slave back into her arms so they could continue their lovemaking. Her wrists freed Saronne placed her palms on the Queen’s chest and then turned a freezing icy blue glare on the Queen of the Massagetae and made her feelings clear.
“If you don’t mind I would like some sleep, Your majesty I have many floors to scrub tomorrow.”
The fact that she preferred to do the work of a menial slave over sleeping with her enraged the Queen no end. Only her iron self-control prevented her from taking the little baggage right there. Maybe she did not believe she would actually order her to do such demeaning work. Well cometh the hour she would Tiirmirise vowed as she stormed out of Saronne‘s room.
A female house slave awakened her at the appointed hour and Saronne wished she had indeed eaten when given the chance because apart from donning the slave clothing (clothing which she had never worn during all her years in captivity) she was given a loaf of bread and some water for breakfast.
The young boy who brought it was on the thin side and he definitely had not yet reached puberty. His eyes seemed too large for his small face and his head to big for his skinny body.
“You must hurry” He urged
“I will not.”
“If you do not hurry” the female slave who had brought in her garments said “Simsim will be flogged.”
She was furious. The Queen seemed to have her assessed her well. Tiirmirise would not have her flogged because she did not fear a flogging but she knew that Saronne was the type of person who would not cause an innocent harm and could not bear to allow another person to take her own punishment. Hence Simsim would bear her punishment.
Saronne worked her fury off by wiping the floors determined to ask no quarter. She had just finished the main hall and the largest room in the Queen’s apartments when two huge hunting dogs came barking through the front door. Saronne screamed at the large ferocious creatures. However when they did eventually leap on her it was to slobber all over her wagging their tales.
She laughed at their exuberance and patted them.
“Rebes! Remes! Heel.” The pair of matiffs rushed to Queen’s side panting with adoration for their mistress. Saronne sat back on her heels in utter disbelief. The dogs paws and the queens boots had brought in black mud from outside undoing her hard work in a moment.
Saronne knew Tiirmirise had done it on purpose to provoke her. Her eyes swept her over as though she did not exist when last night the Massagetae Queen had come into her room and stared at her as though she would die if she did not touch her, and then proceeded to touch her obscenely, her hands had touched Saronne gently as though she were made of the finest porcelain now she looked at her as though she were just another female slave in the Gyptian palace.
She dashed tears from her eyes and with each paw print she cleaned from the marble floors she plotted her revenge on the arrogant Queen who thought she ruled the world. She was going to enslave her and have her begging for mercy reverse their roles so she was mistress and the Queen her slave.
Her resolve hardened as she thought it through. She was beautiful, intelligent and sophisticated compared to the women in the palace and if she could not bring the infuriating Queen to heel she deserved a miserable fate washing floors for the rest of her life!
When next she spied Menkiti directing the slaves, she staggered under the wet of the bucket of dirty water, her hand fluttered to her head and she managed to drag the ugly brown cloth from her hair and pretended to almost swoon for a moment before making a valiant effort to straighten her shoulders before sinking to her knees.
Menkiti filled with concern went to where she knelt. “Lady keep your head down till the dizziness passes. After a few moments Saronne raised her head and gave a tremulous sigh before allowing her eyes to flutter open.
“Perhaps! You look like you are about to keel over!”
“Let’s just say I am ready to negotiate.”
Menkiti ordered them to bring her food. Bread and honey with fresh salad, wine and melon and dates. She went to the hot pool for a bath and by the time they brought food she was ravenous and ate well. For awhile Menkiti ate with her in silence.
He watched her graceful movements with hooded eyes and the delicate way she chewed her food. She was absolutely enchanting and he could understand why Tiirmirise was a fool for her.
“Menkiti you said the Queen lusted after me and If I gave her what she asked she would be more than generous to me. If I become her concubine it would also give me a great deal of power. We would do better as allies than as rivals would you help me?”
Menkiti smiled “I will do all I can to aid you lady.”
“Good. Rather than wait till the end of the day when the Queen will come here demanding I submit to her I think I should like to… how do the Dominion say? “Carpe Diem” seize the day.
As Menkiti listened to her audacious plan he wanted to tell her to forget it but with her eyes alight with feminine mischief and her voice filled with passion he began to come around to her daring plan. One that would ensnare and hold a Queen. She was shrewd and clever and a slave like him. How could they be anything but allies.
Bathed perfumed and dressed in the violet silk and chiffon robes and jewellery they chose together. She looked beautiful. Her dress hinted at her womanly curves so you caught a glimpse of her skin with each movement she made.
The slaves, painted her face to highlight her eyes and a touch of pink lip paint rather than the customary red so she did not look like she painted her face.
She looked magnificent as he brought around the chariot they were to drive to the Massagetae training camp.
“The moment we enter the training camp you are on your own because I will not answer to her for what you do today. The responsibility is all yours.” Menkiti warned.
Saronne closed her eyes in trepidation for a moment. What if she enraged the Queen? What if she heaped humiliation on her or worse had her strung up and beheaded. Well so be it. She would rather die than scrub any more floors. She was a princess and it was time she started acting like one.
On the training field there were at least five hundred Massagetae all watching the Queen as she fought her five opponents with her wooden scimitars. She was lightening quick moving with a preternatural speed and striking with strength that her opponent could not believe emanated from such a slender body.
A cheer went up as she dispatched her opponents in quick succession without breaking a sweat. She was about to start explaining the theory of the manoeuvres and movements when Saronne’s chariot came in sight of the warriors.
“What an entrance.” Menkiti murmured under his breadth as all eyes fell on them and the cheers degenerated into a murmur and finally utter silence.
Tiirmirise stood arms akimbo and stared in utter disbelief at the sight of her beautiful female slave and the Gyptian head slave master as they made their way slowly towards the training field. She tossed the wooden scimitars aside and strode towards the vehicle glaring at Saronne, as she neared with each elegant efficient stride her black-eyed gaze blazed with fury.
Before the Queen could say anything Saronne utterly disarmed her, holding out her arm she spoke intimately for her ears alone so the Queen had to lean close to hear what she was saying as she said softly “Help me down Tiirmirise, or your warriors will think you uncouth.”
Tiirmirise swore “You will soon learn just how uncouth I can be.” However she muttered the words under her breadth so only Saronne heard her.
Saronne gave her a dazzling smile. “Smile, you do want everyone to think you ordered me here do you not?”
Tiirmirise smiled wryly but ignored her outstretched her and lifted her off the chariot by her waist causing the Massagetae warriors to cheer unashamedly. The blonde woman was so beautiful she took her breadth away.
She smiled up at the dark head that towered above her. “They think I’m your concubine.” She said seductively.
At the thought Tiirmirise felt her whole being melt into a pool at her centre and her heart fluttered in her chest. Her black-eye glittered with victory. “Is that what you have come to tell me? That you surrender?”
“Of course not, you brute” she teased.
A blazing hot need almost consumed her and the queen actually found herself considering taking her right there on the training field and possessing her thoroughly. Tiirmirise wanted to fuck her silly and leave no one in any doubt that this beautiful woman belonged to her and her alone. Instead she slid her hands which were still resting on Saronne’s waist down to rest on her hips.
“So what the hell are you doing here?”
“I…am…here,” She paused after each breathless word, she said and reached up to trace a delicate fingertip along the wicked looking scar on Tiirmirise face, so that every warrior sucked in her breadth wishing they could trade places with the queen, “so that you may invite me to dinner.” She licked her lips slowly and made a little moue with her mouth.
Tiirmirise groaned. She longed to cover her pink lips with her own. Lust pounded her body like roaring waves on a seashore, She could even hear her blood pounding in her head. Tiirmirise swallowed hard.
“You are my slave, I order you to dine with me.” Except the words came out hoarsely and totally lost their commanding tone.
Saronne smiled provocatively and Tiirmirise hands involuntarily tightened on her waist. “If you invite me to, it will be my greatest pleasure to accept. Then after we have eaten,” She said the last word with a smile and another provocative lift of her eyebrow, “I shall proposition you.”
“You will?” Tiirmirise asked stupidly
“Perhaps.” She shrugged, saying the word in a way that conveyed, promise, and mystery. Saronne could feel the Queen trembling. Her hands were warm through the material at her waist. She did not wear her gauntlets like she had the first day they met and she knew she had the black Queen enthralled.
“You will come to dinner tonight.” Tiirmirise said imperiously
Saronne smiled as though she knew some secret. “Why you silver-tongued fiend. How could I resist such a charming invitation?” Her hands trailed a circle absently on her chest in the one area not covered by her black tunic. Her scarred breast. Tiirmirise shuddered with desire. The woman was going to be the death of her.
The Queen scooped her up by her bottom and placed her gently into the chariot beside Menkiti.
“Till tonight.” She said curtly
As Tiirmirise watched her go she couldn’t quite keep the stupid grin off her face. Saronne had cleverly turned the tables on her. This morning she had deliberately allowed the hunting dogs to muddy the tiles she had so slavishly scrubbed just to provoke her but when it came to being provocative Saronne won hands down!
As they drove back to the palace neither Menkiti nor Saronne could believe she had gotten away with such outrageous behaviour. She had deliberately whispered words to seduce and entice because Saronne admitted to herself she was intrigued. When Tiirmirise touched her she loved it. She loved the fact that Tiirmirise could not resist touching her and she liked the smile that lit up her dark gaze.
Saronne glanced over at a stunned looking Menkiti. “She did not censure you did she?”
“She did not even see me Lady!”
Well bloody fucking hell! Pasiphae was furious envious and jealous and randy as she watched the drama being played out between Tiirmirise and her new slave.
Pasiphae was furious because she had seen her first in the brothel. When Pasiphae had tried to buy her from the brothel keeper he had refused and because it was Gypsos and she was on official business she had not been able to do anything about it. Even worse the Brothel keeper had not even allowed Pasiphae one night with her.
Yet here she was now fucking Tiirmirise and with abandon and all she had ever seen in her eyes was anger and censure. Well Tiirmirise always made free with her slaves and she saw no reason why she would not be as generous with this one.
When they both arrived at the Palace Saronne followed Menkiti into the kitchens.
“What are you doing here?” Menkiti asked sternly
“Well I want to make sure everything is perfect for her.”
“I do that already.”
“Yes you do. However I have lived with the Massagetae for a year and I know they like to eat a lot of pork and wild boar. Something you Gyptians abhor. Let me make a Massagetae dinner for her.”
“Lady you need to rest; take it while you may!”
Saronne blushed but insisted. “I will make the wild boar, you send someone to the market and I will let them make the vegetables.”
“Besides eating pork gives you leprosy.” muttered Menkiti
“No it does not that is an old wives tale. It will make you ill if it is not cooked well. Get the wild boar then. A female please, the male tends to have a very strong smell.”
The wild boar seasoned and in the oven under the care of a Sarmatian slave of beriberi origin, Saronne finally left the kitchen and made her way to the gardens on the east side of the palace not far from her own sleeping chamber.
The gardens were lush and verdant with scented flowers and gurgling brooks and fountains. There were sundials, ornamental pools teaming with fish of every colour size and shape. Trees of every shape and variety some bearing fruit others did not. She sat on a bench and took it all in.
She had learned that this palace was for visiting princes. The main Palace where the royal family resided was huge and further up. It looked magnificent covered in Limestone and fairly dominated the rest of the city.
An older woman with plain white linen dress and collar walked towards her. In Gyptian fashion the linen robes were white and transparent. It seemed Menkiti was right the Egyptians were indeed proud of their bodies.
She offered Saronne a drink. “Thank-you.”
“Please sit with me awhile.” Saronne looked at her closely. “You look like you are from the land of the Angles in the Northern Chaldees.”
The woman smiled. “Indeed I am. I was a slave of Pharoah’s. The only one to bear him a daughter all the others were boys.”
“You are the mother of Queen Nefer?”
The Gyptian line passed through the daughter. The eldest female automatically became Queen on the death of her mother whereas the Pharaoh had to be crowned and he took the throne by marrying a female of the royal line usually his mother, sister or daughter.
The older woman nodded. “I am Lola but in the lands of the Angles I was known as Branwen.”
“This is cider, oh its delicious?”
“Yes my child. Another piece of my homeland. The Gyptians drink a lot of beer which is made from grain and makes me full of air,“ she wrinkled her nose. This is much nicer with a lot less side effects.”
As Saronne got ready for the evening ahead with Lola helping her choose what to wear she sat before a silver polished Gyptian mirror.
“I think I will wear the purple silk gown.”
“I agree. “ Lola continued “It makes your eyes look almost violet and she will be happy to see you wear it. In Sarmatia it is the colour of royalty. It is almost as though you were declaring yourself to be her consort the hidden Queen.”
“The hidden Queen?”
“Ah the legend of the hidden Queen. The Massagetae have a legend that a time will come when two queens will gift the Sarmatians with the greatest queen they have ever known. The hidden Queen will protect them from a great evil and cleanse the line from its taint restoring once more to the Massagetae and the Sarmatians their rightful ruler.
Qastursh her husband, well his line is tainted. All their children are touched. Incest, lies, murder and other uncontrollable lusts, you name it all are rampant in the children of Qastursh.”
Lola smiled as Saronne finished dressing “That looks lovely on you. When the slaves finish with painting your face you must use the Jasmine scented oil between your breasts and a little at the base of your spine.”
“It will not go to waste I assure you.”
“Last night I wore a Gyptian musk.”
Lola wrinkled her nose “Yes but that can be a little cloying. For what you have in mind I believe the Jasmine is best.”
“Are you ready?”
She nodded and Menkiti led her to Tiirmirise in the dinning chamber. Tiirmirise came forward to greet her and kissed the hand Saronne held out to her.
The hint of a smile played about the Queen’s thin lips. “You obey my orders like a goddess bestowing a gift on a mortal.”
“That is because you issue your orders arrogantly like a mistress ordering a slave.”
“Which is precisely what you are. A slave.” Tiirmirise said arrogantly
“Well you may be mistress but I am not a goddess, only flesh and blood and very mortal.”
Tiirmirise lowered her head and said huskily “So you are ready to accept you are my slave?”
Saronne reached up a hand to run her fingertips along the Queen’s stubborn jaw and said softly, “I came to amuse you Tiirmirise. If it amuses you to play mistress and slave then you must teach me.”
Tiirmirise inhaled sharply at the sound of her name on Saronne‘s lips. She could not recall giving her permission to use her name without her honorific title but it sounded good to her ears.
The black-eye glittered in its intensity “This is no game.”
Saronne looked up at the Queen’s mouth and then ran the tip of her tongue over her own top lip. “Tiirmirise when it is between two such as we it is always a game.”
“You said you would yield to me tonight.” The Queen said softly.
Saronne smiled and gave the queen a teasing glance from beneath her long thick eyelashes. “I said no such thing and you know it.”
“You intimated that you would surrender to me!”
Saronne laughed up at the Queen. She was enjoying their banter. “Do you delude yourself like this every night or just tonight.”
“You are doing it again.”
“Alluding, hinting, intimating that tonight will be special when it cannot be any such thing unless you yield to me willingly.”
“That my dear Tiirmirise is how the game is played, with alluring hints and a little intimating. If you recall what I actually said was after we have I dined I will proposition you.”
She placed her hands on Tiirmirise’s bare chest. The queen was not naked but wore a black silk robe belted at the waist which stopped short of her knees. Her silk trousers fluttered in the breeze about her legs.
“And I said…what did I say? Forget what I said. You said Perhaps.” Tiirmirise's dark eyed gaze devoured her mouth. “What kind of word is that I wonder?”
“A tantalising word filled with promise. If I told you no, it would anger you and if I told you yes, you would bend me to your will which would take away the speculation. Perhaps? well it preserves the anticipation, draws out the suspense and heightens desire.”
As she spoke Saronne’s fingertips drew a sweeping series of concentric patterns on the queens chest, stroking her neck and her muscled shoulders.
Tiirmirise was going to kiss her and there was nothing her or anybody could do about it. Her lips were so temptingly close and her arousing words stoked desire in the Queen’s belly.
Tiirmirise claimed her lips, slowly exploring her softness, enjoying her lushness tasting her sweetness and drawing the tip of Saronne’s pink tongue into her own. Her tunic had loosened with Saronne’s mind blowing caresses and the Queen trembled with desire as Saronne’s hand accidentally brushed against her one hard turgid nipple.
Saronne lifted her lips till they were barely touching, their breadths mingling in the cool evening breeze.
“Are you hungry Tiirmirise?”
“Starving!” Tiirmirise lowered her head again and Menkiti entered the room carrying a large serving tray and making a lot of noise. Tiirmirise scowled blackly at the intrusion and Saronne used the opportunity to put some distance between them. Tiirmirise was proving to be a handful.
“We have prepared a Massagetae meal for you complete with wild boar.”
Tiirmirise knew how the Egyptians abhorred Pork so she was well aware that in Gypsos at least it was a delicacy for a Sarmatian.
“Wild boar your majesty prepared by the lady herself.”
“Hmm the aroma of food is tantalising.“ Tiirmirise lied because all she could smell was Jasmine. Tiirmirise helped her unto the dining couch and Saronne lay on her stomach resting her weight on both elbows. She did not think reclining facing Tiirmirise was a good idea yet.
Tiirmirise traced the curve of her back with one long callused finger till it rested lightly on her bottom. The Queen had found the spot her back where Lola had persuaded her to spray the delicate Jasmine scent. Now Tiirmirise fingers moved over there with her fingers releasing the scent till it filled her nostrils.
“The food cools your majesty.”
Saronne rolled over to her side just as Tiirmirise moved away and her hands inadvertently brushed against her sending a thrill of sexual arousal through the blonde captive.
“My lust burns hot Saronne.”
“The sooner we eat the sooner we can negotiate,” She replied and the Queen subsided and ate. Wild boar was actually one of Tiirmirise’s favourite meals and though it was simple fare she enjoyed it immensely, it made a change from the rich sauces and exotic food she had been served at the Gyptian Palace.
The wild boar seasoned with crushed fenugreek, cumin and coriander, was cut into thick juicy succulent slabs and served on a silver platter and garnished with fresh herbs.
It was accompanied with vegetable dish of peas and leeks, freshly baked Gyptian bread straight from the ovens and a salad of crispy green and freshly washed lettuce, red onions, fresh garlic, radishes, pungent goat cheese and long thinly sliced cucumbers lightly dressed with olive oil and lime juice.
The meal was rounded off with an exotic fruit salad of melons pomegranates, dates, sycamore figs sprinkled with tiger nuts and a sweet cheese.
Tiirmirise was hungry after all the physical exertion of the day and Saronne herself after a day of scrubbing floors tucked into her meal with relish that took even her by surprise.
The Queen however did not take her eyes off her blonde captive for a moment. Her eye took in the graceful movement of her hands watching her delicately lick her fingers and sip her wine.
Saronne for her part was surprised the Queen had excellent manners. She had seen the way some of the rich merchants ate in Gypsos with their mouths open so you could see everything between their huge masticating jaws. Tiirmirise did not eat like that. She ate the same way she did everything else with a controlled unhurried efficiency.
After they washed their hands and wiped their fingers with hot scented towels Menkiti cleared their meal away and left Tiirmirise got up.
“Well, I am ready.”
“Wait!” Saronne put out her hand and Tiirmirise regarded her steadily for the moment but sank back down on the couch.
She watched Tiirmirise for a moment. “You want me to acknowledge that I am your slave. You want me to obey you implicitly. You want me to yield to you willingly. All this I will do but” Saronne emphasised the word “But when we are alone you will treat me with respect, You will treat me as your lady.”
Tiirmirise stared at her as though she were crazy “ You want to pretend to be my slave?” Tiirmirise asked incredulously.
“For all intents and purposes I will be your slave, your property and to everyone else including your entire household will know me as your slave but when we are completely private our relationship will that of friends and lovers.”
Tiirmirise regarded her with her black obsidian like eye and said nothing into the silence that stretched for so long it was now almost awkward. Tiirmirise did not really see a difference. It was her slave’s duty to obey her will. She noted Saronne left out the part of willingly joining their bodies and for Tiirmirise when it came down to it that was the crux of their bargain.
“Do you agree to willingly yield your body to me? Kiss me of your own volition?”
“Only when you have wooed and won me.” She said softly.
Tiirmirise had never wooed anyone in her life, had never needed to, men and women attracted by her power and wealth just threw themselves at her.
“When do you allow me to begin this wooing my lady?” Tiirmirise drawled with heavy sarcasm
Saronne threw the queen a provocative glance laden with unspoken promises “You and I both know that your wooing has already begun and I enjoy it excessively Tiirmirise.”
She couldn’t help it. Tiirmirise threw her head back and laughed at the girl’s sheer impudence.
There was a sudden commotion in the hall way and Pasiphae burst through the terrified Gyptian guards. She was covered in Sweat and gore. Blood dripped down her muscular arms and stained her royal robes.
Tiirmirise moved like lightening a sword appeared in her hand and her body was protectively before Saronne’s who had fled to Tiirmirise couch and sank to the floor at the Queen’s knees.
“The Princess Pasiphae your majesty.” Menkiti announced as the royal princess burst through the doors.
“Pasiphae is all well with you?” Tiirmirise sheathed her sword, concern lined her dark brows.
“I am lately come to dine, Tiirmirise, I have just had a most interesting visit to the temple.”
Tiirmirise frowned “We have finished eating and there is food in abundance. You are welcome to my table but you will change out of those bloody clothes.”
Pasiphae swayed on her feet her dark eyes glinted ferally in the soft glow of the torch light as they settled on Saronne and took in her loveliness. “I am not come to eat food, Tiirmirise.” Her meaning was clear.
“What are you come to do then?” Tiirmirise asked in a dangerously soft tone.
Pasiphae’s eyes continued to strip Saronne naked “Does your hospitality not extend to sharing the wench?”
“This slave is my private property for my own exclusive use, tonight and every night.” Tiirmirise eyes blazed fury and her meaning was clear. However her gentle stroking of Saronne’s hair did not belie the temper that threatened to explode out of control at the mere thought of allowing another to touch her.
“So it is true. Candace said you couldn’t even bear for the slave merchant’s assistant to touch her.”
“I will ignore your insulting words because I smell wine beneath the blood you wear on your body from the sacrifice. Tomorrow I will make you wish you had never even considered disturbing me like this.”
Pasiphae laughed “Well Step-mama, if you will not share your woman then I will take you up on your offer to share your wine.”
Tiirmirise ordered Saronne to her sleeping chamber and then proceeded to deal with the princess. After having her washing her thoroughly in the steam pool by the bath slaves she ordered Menkiti to put the intoxicated princes to bed.
In the Queen’s bed chamber Saronne got undressed into her sleeping shift and got ready for bed herself. By now Tiirmirise must be furious at having to deal with her drunken step-daughter. Her desire had been rampant by the time they had finished eating she could not imagine what state of mind she was in now.
It was amazing but she had lost some of her fear of the Queen. When Tiirmirise returned Saronne was fast asleep on the bed her hair spread like a halo of pale gold tresses about her.
Tiirmirise smiled wryly and turned to Menkiti who had come in to help the Queen with the last of her ablutions.
“How many floors did she scrub today?”
“Six.” Menkiti said curtly unable to keep his displeasure from showing.
Saronne woke up slowly and stretching and yawning. When she opened her eyes a thrill of excitement fizzled through her when she realised she was still in the Queen’s bed.
She still wore her silk robes and she knew without a doubt that Tiirmirise had not touched her. Beside her she could faintly smell the mix of pine and sandalwood that was Tiirmirise. The Queen had kept to their bargain and although she could have imposed her will at anytime and exercised her power she had not.
Tiirmirise it seemed was a woman of honour and more importantly somewhere deep within her black heart there was a playful and tender side to the formidable queen.
She had been terrified in the market place when she’d first seen the figure in black leathers and steel armour with her purple cloak swirling majestically about her in the wind staring avidly.
When the warrior had first approached, Saronne realised as she got closer that there was a mask where the face should have been in the helmet. She was not sure if she was dealing with man or monster.
Then beside her she saw the other girls assaulted, their legs spread open their sex penetrated and she struggled to hold back tears in case that was to be her fate also. However it was not. The merchants assistant barely touched her when his hand was literally whipped away.
The Queen had taken her breadth away when she yanked her forward so she fell against her steel clad body. The leather was warm but the Simian metal was very hot. The linen tunic she wore barely protected her from being burned by the Queen‘s armour.
The warrior’s touch had been firm yet gentle on her body and warm through her tunic. When her hands slid under the white linen tunic she could feel her treacherous body responding as the Queen‘s warm hands explored her flesh. Her nipples hardened and desire pooled in her aching centre.
Saronne was indeed from the Northern Chaldees. A land with long winters and short summers. The men and women had hair the colour of golden wheat sometimes it was even red like carrots. The men were hairy big and muscular.
They were nothing like the Gyptians she had met. Their skins ranging from simply dark to swarthy. They were slim and lean with black hair and definitely nothing like this black skinned powerfully beautiful creature that was about to possess her.
She cringed when she thought that she who had once been a loved and revered princess had been captured and sold as a body slave. At first she had been angry and feisty. The merchant sold her to a black Massagetae man who took her and impregnated her. He then took her beautiful daughter and sold her to another merchant. She never saw her daughter Nitocris again.
She had not felt like living she had wanted to die but somehow she survived and lived through the grief. Her healing skills and her ability to read and write kept her out of brothels and away from the lust of her masters. She always made herself unattractive whether by artifice or perceived dirt so as not to draw their unwanted attentions.
When she looked at Tiirmirise she so reminded her of the man who took her child. Muscular, tall, arrogant and that mocking twisted smile. Yet unlike her other previous slave masters the Warrior Queen was comparatively much gentler.
Saronne rolled over and she found herself looking into a black smouldering eye. Tiirmirise stared at her unblinkingly however before she could say anything a knock at the door of the Queen’s apartments sounded dimly in the distance.
Tiirmirise victim of many assassination attempts was instantly at her feet sword in hand and padded over to the doors. “Don‘t move!” She hissed to Saronne.
“Who goes there?”
“It is your humble servant Candace, Dreaded lady.”
The door opened to reveal Candace the queen’s lieutenant in a linen robe of the Gyptian style. She like Tiirmirise was Massagetae. She wore white trousers underneath a short sleeved tunic which belted at her waist and draped a green cloth, around her before being draped over her left shoulder to cover her left breast but her right shoulder was naked bare and also battle scarred like her cauterised breast.
She wore a short scimitar at her waist and bowed her head. The Massagetae never offered obeisance. The other tribes in Sarmatia traditionally did but the Massagetae never.
“I apologise Tiirmirise, I did not know you had company.”
The Queen nodded and Saronne’ s eyes widened. Candace had not used the honorific for the Queen. Candace she was to later learn never used the honorific when news was grave or they were in private.
“What brings you to my chambers so early this morning?”
“I have grim news.”
“We must ride hard for Ekiti. Prince Spargapises begs your presence.”
Tiirmirise felt her heart lurch. Ekiti was the capital city traditionally dedicated to the crown princes and princesses of the ruling family.
When the two largest ruling tribes of the plains fought the Massagetae Queen promised to give the people of Ekiti a prince who was neither Sarmatian or Massagetae. She presented her son, born of a marriage between her and one of the greatest Sarmatian Kings that had ever lived. King Xango the first. Ever since that day Ekiti the twin capital city of Sarmatia was dedicated to the crown prince of the real.
Spargapises would only seek refuge in Ekiti if Ninyas or Qastursh were after him. Ninyas wouldn’t dare lay a hand on him openly, not whilst Tiirmirise was alive and that left Qastursh. She felt a cold chill come over her.
“What is it? What is the news?”
“Tiirmirise calm yourself.”
“Has something happened to my son?” She felt something like a lead weight grip her heart which sunk down to her feet.
“No my lady it is the King.”
“Assasins broke into his quarters and stuck a burning poker up his asshole. He died of his wounds.”
“Has accused Prince Spargapises of murder.” Candace finished the sentence for her.
“So it begins.” Tiirmirise turned to Candace. “We travel light.” She smiled grimly “Well you will be travelling light the girl comes with me.”
The Taming of the Falcon
They travelled very quickly crossing lands by boat, and on fast horses. The Gyptians loaded them with gold, gold she could not refuse because she would need the money to bribe the viziers and save her silly son’s scrawny neck.
She knew quite well Ninyas and Vayanes would have a strangle hold on the council. Then again the viziers might all be manoeuvring to ensure the two wily old men did not become too powerful.
They reached the borders of the Simian Kingdom and travelled without event into Sarmatia. At the border of Sarmatia they were met by a delegation of the Trigantae one of the tribes who occupied the plains and who insisted that the Queen attend a banquet in her honour.
Tiirmirise knew it was probably a chance to do some politicking but their main aim was to get her to throw an orgy in appreciation for some of the Trigantae troops who had fought by her side against the Simian.
Now that they were no longer at the Gyptian Palace Saronne found herself taking over the running of Tiirmirise personal household under the personal tutelage of Nnandi. Tiirmirise was aware that once they reached Ado or went on campaign Nnandi would be in charge of the army and since Menkiti was attached to the Gyptian household managing Tiirmirise's household fell to her.
In the great scheme of things this was all well and good and Tiirmirise had no problems with Saronne managing her household except she did not want her to handle the feast for the Trigantae soldiers to this end she called in Nnandi to the quarters that had been assigned to the her by the local Trigantae noble.
“Your majesty?” Nnandi bowed. Her movements were elegant and efficient her voice low and well modulated. She did not have the stealthy predatory movements of Candace who moved more like a thief and could appear in a room and disappear at will with no one noticing.
Nnandi was beautiful and always made an entrance she was a woman many found hard to ignore. She wore Massagetae armour even though they were on friendly territory her breastplate was burnished to a silver shine unlike the Queen’s black armour.
“I have a problem regarding the feast, that is being held to honour the Trigantae soldiers.”
“I do not understand. You, yourself gave me the task. Are you displeased with what I have planned?”
“No not at all. The problem is not with you. It is with Saronne.”
“Ah” Nnandi exhaled as she realised the delicacy of the matter. It was the same reason Saronne had not been asked to organise the feast in the first place.
The feast for the Trigantae was more of an orgiastic flooding of the senses and all the soldiers were looking forward to it even the Massagetae. They would eat until they disgorged, drink until they spewed and fuck till they were delirious.
“Well I she should be safe enough from any lechery just lock her up somewhere till the feast is over.”
“Well some of the Sarmatian nobles that are coming are people that I cannot afford to offend if I am to have their votes in council. I would not be able to deny a request from them, neither could I deny a public request from Pasiphae and I know Pasiphae has cast covetous glances at her.” Tiirmirise scratched her head.
Nnandi regarded her steadily. “She is a slave Tiirmirise, why are you having issues over sharing her with Pasiphae and indeed any at the feast.”
Tiirmirise growled and glared at her general. Nnandi merely raised a questioning eyebrow.
“Sarmatian tradition requires you share your wife with me, as Queen it is my divine right. Would you be happy if I requested it?”
“Epiphany is not subject to such law she is Massagetae,” Nnandi said dismissively “ and besides she wears my gold, she is inviolate.”
“And what if she was subject to such law?” Tiirmirise persisted.
“You are my Queen. Your will is my command besides I know you would never ask.” Nnandi smiled
“And if Ninyas were to ask.”
“I would kill him!” Nnandi said harshly. “Oh..” she sat down as realisation dawned. “Perhaps you should divert her somehow maybe Makeda can take her to the cock fighting or bear baiting or the theatre.
In fact I would be more than happy to take her to the theatre I don’t like orgies, I personally find such gatherings vulgar in the extreme.” Nnandi shuddered delicately.
“She is not a blood thirsty Sarmatian I think perhaps a visit to the theatre would suffice. Besides who would organise the orgy?”
Nnandi looked disappointed “I suppose Candace would not mind taking her.”
Tiirmirise was wondering how to broach the subject to Saronne when she returned from the market place with Candace. The Massagetae warrior withdrew and they were left alone in Tiirmirise’s chambers.
“As you are aware there is a feast for the Trigantae, Pasiphae and Lord Radenses will be attending.”
Saronne looked alarmed “Oh Tiirmirise do I have to go? Can I not go somewhere else instead?”
Tiirmirise concern dissipated. She was not going to prove difficult at all.
“Well I thought perhaps you would enjoy an evening at the theatre in Candace’s company since you two seem to get on so well together.”
“That is a lovely idea.” Saronne was extremely relieved. Lord Radenses resembled a hairy mangy giant and Pasiphae fairly terrified her.
So Candace was to escort Saronne to the theatre. In the evening as Tiirmirise slipped into her hooded black tunic and silk draw string trousers, a dress sword by her side. Her biceps fairly rippled. As always in the Massagetae style the scarred breast was exposed.
The Queen would have made love to her captive but the road did not afford them much privacy and neither did the inns since either Candace or often shared a room with them. Although she had been tempted she respected what Saronne called her “modesty” but which the Queen preferred to see as her prudishness.
The inns were not large and were few and far between and further as aristocrats and in Nnandi’s case a member of one of the ruling families they could not be expected to sleep in the barn with the rank and file.
She watched Saronne wear an aquamarine gown. Its folds draped about her in the manner of the Trigantae. It showed her lovely white shoulders and hinted at creamy breasts.
“I hope you enjoy your visit to the theatre.”
“I hope you enjoy your feast.”
Tiirmirise felt wretchedly guilty and made a strangled sound when Saronne’s eyes lifted questioningly and she caressed Tiirmirise jaw and stood on her toes to drop a butterfly kiss on Tiirmirise chin. Tiirmirise was still stroking her chin where Saronne had kissed her even after her blonde captive had she left.
Saronne enjoyed the evening immensely. Candace had chosen to take her to a musical entertainment that combined acting with singing and dancing. It was nothing that she had ever seen not even as a princess in the land of the Angles.
The entertainment finished quite late and she sat with Candace at a tavern that served excellent food and wine. They were still laughing as they returned back to the villa provided by the Trigantae she was surprised to hear the loud noise. Candace attention was diverted by one of the slaves and Saronne entered the villa by herself.
She saw naked men and women everywhere in every state of debauchery and orgiastic pleasure. When Candace tried to coax her away she managed to find Tiirmirise with a naked woman clinging to her arm. She had jet black hair and was amply endowed with heavy pendulous breasts and wide buttocks.
Saronne turned tail and fled into the night and back out the gate. She didn’t know it could hurt so much what had she been thinking. Soon she was lost in the town.
End of Part 1
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