July 11 – Chapter 16 posted
June 13 – Chapters 14-15 posted
MAY 2 – Chapters 12-13 posted
APRIL 18 – Chapters 10-11 posted
MARCH 21 – Chapters 8-9 posted
MARCH 13 - Chapters 6 -7 posted
THE PERSIAN ENCOUNTER – by Patricia and Xanjaa
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Disclaimers in Prologue
Chapter 16 – Reliving a Nightmare
Hands grasping her shoulders shook her violently, while urgent voices begged her to get to her feet. The nausea rolling through her gut kept her doubled over even as she regained her footing with the help of several blood stained women.
Someone was laughing manically and talking loudly, cursing all who stood in his way. It made no sense to Tynet, whose head was pounding in agonizing waves.
Bent at the waist, with hands on her knees to keep her unruly stomach from losing its contents, she panted drawing in huge gulps of air. A deafening explosion nearly brought her to her knees as the sound reverberated though her injured skull.
Then the smell of burning flesh assailed her nostrils and she vomited, falling forward on all fours. Retching and coughing, her evening’s meal was rejected by her abused body and pooled around her. The other women stayed close to her forming a natural barrier from the soldiers who were distracted by the flames shooting high overhead. The women also watched the fires of the funeral pyre at the center of camp saying a silent farewell to friends and loved ones.
Finally when there was nothing left to come up, she wiped her arm across her mouth and stood. All she wanted to do was lie down, but another shouted order was given and the women were roughly shoved away from the scene and forced to run to keep up with the horse soldiers leading the way out of the mountains.
Every step had sent blinding pain through Tynet’s head and she’d stumbled again and again. Each time a cruel soldier would jab at her naked skin with the tip of his spear forcing her to go on or die. Several times she thought dying preferable to jarring her head with another step.
Her sister Amazons did their best to protect the woman, helping her regain her feet when she stumbled. They’d paid the price for slowing to help the big woman, as many of them bore bloody cuts on their bodies from the sharp lances. Having lost all they held dear, friends, families and their homes, the women acted on survival instinct alone to keep moving.
The huge fearful general on his immense black stallion called a halt after they’d emerged from the mountains at the desert’s edge. Just ahead a small temporary camp with a supply wagon and some tents stood out in relief under the silvery light of the full moon. Gratefully, the women dropped to the ground when they were ordered to stop. The rest was short lived though, as they were soon herded into an enclosed area.
The makeshift pen was formed by stakes driven into the ground and surrounded with thick tamarisk which was lashed together with a rope. It was a perfect temporary prison. The foliage was stiff and acted as an impenetrable barrier preventing the prisoners from sneaking out undetected.
Less than a dozen women were already sequestered within the enclosure when the beaten Amazons were shoved inside. The clothing of the existing prisoners identified them as members of the desert tribes as they wore the borque, the protective robes that shielded them from the relentless sun.
Leaving three armed guards to watch over the captives, the rest of the huge soldiers drifted off to the main fire pit where a boar was roasting on a spit.
The newly arrived prisoners, exhausted from their recent battle and long run to the camp, slumped to the ground near the gate. From the back of the stockade the desert women kept an eye on the both the soldiers and the new arrivals. Once the enormous men began to eat and drink, the desert women regarded the Amazons with interest but made no move toward them. Prisoners learned quickly to trust no one, until they’d proven their worth.
As soon as they had recovered their breath, the Amazon women began seeing to the injuries of their sisters. An open trough of water for the horses stood near the fence within arm’s reach. Several of the Amazons were able to wet pieces of their clothing to swab and dress wounds.
Despite the powerful blow to her head and the ensuing blinding headache, Tynet was remarkably free of other injury. Even with the roiling in her stomach and the slightly blurred vision that had plagued her since the forced march began, Tynet felt sure if allowed to rest for a few days, the head injury would heal.
Her thoughts drifted to Adara and their children. ‘Where are they? Could they have escaped this horror? Please Anahita, keep them safe,’ she silently prayed. A cool wet cloth against her throbbing skull pulled Tynet from her despairing thoughts.
She winced as Isaura tied a makeshift bandage tightly against her injured head. As Adara’s mother worked, Tynet regarded the desert women. She thought she recognized some of the colored ribbons woven into the hems of the women’s clothing marking them as members of the Persian tribes that she knew. Absently, she reached up stopping the older woman’s ministrations nodding toward the other women at the same time.
Isaura glanced over.
“Isaura, if we’re to survive this until help can reach us, all the women must stick together. ”
Despite her shock and despair at the death tonight of her hearth mate, Hafsa, Isaura could see the wisdom of this. She nodded in agreement.
“See that short older woman? She wears the colors of a head woman. I need to speak with her. Help me up, please. ”
Isaura started to protest, “You need to rest. Wait a day until you are…” but Tynet was already attempting to stand and Isaura quickly gave up the argument pulling her daughter’s mate to her feet.
“There is no time, Isaura. These men will not wait until tomorrow. Please help me. ”
On unsteady feet, the two Amazons moved toward the Persian women. The taller younger woman leaned heavily against the shorter older, Isaura.
Despite her intensely pounding head, Tynet did her best to smile and reassure the desert women of her benign intent. She was sure her smile resembled a grimace more than anything, but she was well known among some of the tribes and hoped they had common friends.
Approaching the Persian women respectfully, the two women stopped and Tynet gave the traditional blessing of the desert dwellers.
“Bara-kul-lah.” She said simply, and then repeated it in her own tongue, “May Allah bless you.”
A compact though stout woman stepped forward to greet the newcomer. She spoke rapidly in her own tongue, which caused a bemused look of panic to fall over Tynet’s features. The desert woman understood immediately, the stranger knew only the rudiments of her native tongue. She began again, this time using only the words of children and even then she spoke slowly.
“I am Rida wife of Jimil leader of the Sasanid ashira.”
After she spoke, she bowed slightly, and then raised her eyes to Tynet, waiting for the response.
Following suit, Tynet spoke using her smaller vocabulary to introduce herself.
“I am Tynet, mate of Adara of the Caucus Amazons.” And then she bowed very slightly herself, the incessant pounding in her skull making it impossible to do more.
Immediately she was pulled from Isaura’s grasp and into a hug of welcome as the smaller woman exclaimed, “Even far into the desert you are known, friend Tynet. The leaders of my ashira ride the fine horses of the house of Tynet.” Releasing the taller woman, she beamed and then her face darkened with unspoken pain.
Subdued by the throbbing pain from the hug of welcome which had jarred her head further, Tynet answered softly.
“Thank you, Rida, you are kind to say so.”
Not wanting to appear rude by failing to observe the customary formalities of the hospitable nomadic tribes, Tynet hesitated to ask the obvious questions. Instead she took a moment to assess the condition of the women held captive.
Between the two groups, the crude stockade contained twenty-three women. Tynet noted the state of the desert prisoners. Most had the vacant stare that accompanies severe shock. Many also had the hopeless look of the utterly defeated. On closer inspection she saw the soiled and torn clothing understanding that most of these women had been used by the soldiers.
Bile rose in her throat as she allowed her eyes to track over her own tribe-women. She knew the spoils of war always meant the women were given to the men to satisfy their battle lust. Had she anything left in her stomach she would have retched at the repellant thought that soon her sisters would be subjected to such humiliation and pain. Then her eyes fell on the two youngest members of her tribe. Both girls had only recently entered into womanhood. Groaning, Tynet could not contain her revulsion at what would certainly be their fate.
Needing to know, she could delay no longer. She asked the older woman. “What of your men, Rida? Will they come soon to rescue you? ”
The woman’s voice broke as she replied, “No my friend, there will be no rescue. All of our men were slaughtered. These animals appeared out of the dark raining fire and death down on my people. When it was over the few women you see here were allowed to live. It would have been better to have died with my husband.” Resigned she stopped talking, her eyes wandered into the camp where the soldiers boisterously bragged of their exploits.
“Soon they will be drunk and looking to feed their lust.” The desert woman said and she too looked with pity at the two young Amazon girls.
Following her line of sight Tynet adamantly replied, “I swear on my life, they will not touch these two children.”
Placing her hand on the large woman’s shoulder in an attitude of comfort, Rida said, “Then you will die and they will be taken. It’s no use my friend.”
“I can not do nothing.” Tynet stated as she watched and listened to the soldiers who were becoming louder and more disorderly by the moment.
Nodding her understanding, Rida looked out into the camp knowing that soon this brave woman would be dead.
Signaling the rest of her women to join them, Tynet made introductions. Rida did the same for her sisters.
They retired to the farthest corner of the pen. The women huddled together taking what comfort they could from being with others in the same situation. By unspoken agreement, Tynet and Rida assumed leadership positions sitting side my side watching the gate.
The Persian women shared their meager provisions of stale tepid water and bits of left over dried bread with the newcomers as they awaited their fate. The food had been gleaned from the leavings of the soldier’s morning meal. Surprisingly, Tynet began to feel a bit better with the simple sustenance.
The general had disappeared into his command tent as soon as they’d reached camp and the men seemed to have been left on their own. It wasn’t long before many of the huge hateful soldiers were drunk and casting glances back at the prisoners. Nudging each other in the manner of louts, the men’s lewd laughter carried their intent to the prisoners. As if a secret signal had been given, they rose as a group moving toward the captives, laughing and grabbing their crotches.
Tynet came to her feet as well. Silently watching, she positioned herself in front of the other women. As the gate to the stockade was wrenched open, she crossed her arms over her chest and raised her chin defiantly. Laughing and joking, the big soldiers came unsuspectingly into the cage heading directly towards the big woman. They attempted to move around her as only the most desperate man would look twice at Tynet when there was such sweet juicy meat to be had.
Wordlessly she stepped in front of them. As the huge ugly brutes attempted to brush by her, one of them grabbed her arm meaning to toss her aside. It was he who was thrown back while being divested of his sword. All sound stopped.
Brandishing the weapon, she took advantage of their temporary confusion to push her advantage.
“Get out of here while you can and no one gets hurt.”
Unafraid, one immense filthy predator stepped forward laughing. “It’ll be you that gets hurt.” He said to her and then to his comrades, “Come on, she’s one woman, let’s kill her and enjoy our evening.”
The rest of the soldiers began heaping abuse at the lone armed woman as they tried to surround her. Steadfastly ignoring the headache that had immediately flared, she stood in a defensive posture in the center of the men. Swinging her sword, she drove first one and then another man back, slicing through their grubby uniforms and drawing blood against several. The noise of their taunts had reached unbearable levels in her aching head, when suddenly all became deathly quiet.
The soldiers parted as the man in charge strode forward stopping just out of reach of Tynet’s sword. He smirked at her, his anger apparent, “What is the meaning of this? You’re disturbing my dinner. ”
The men remained silent, but Tynet spoke knowing her life was already forfeit. “This rabble you call an army is threatening the women. ”
The general howled with laughter, “Well, of course they are, you filthy Amazon bitch. You are prisoners, spoils of war. They’ve earned a night of entertainment, shall we say. ”
She knew she couldn’t back down at all. She had to challenge his every word. Ignoring his taunts, she replied, “Earned? You say they’ve earned their spoils. Not to my mind they haven’t.”
The general was enjoying himself as he toyed with the object of his derision. Knowing he himself would soon cut down the obstinate woman, he continued to bait her.
“Oh really. They beat you easily enough.”
“If raiding a village of unarmed women and children is considered battle ready, then perhaps we have different ideas of what makes a soldier. So far, all I’ve seen is undisciplined louts drinking and telling lies of their exploits. In our tribe warriors earn their rewards, you simply give them this. I see no army here, only a mob of undisciplined animals. ”
Purple colored his face as his anger gripped him. He refused to be defied by a woman and an Amazon at that. Moving swiftly as a snake striking, the general stepped in and backhanded Tynet hard enough to push her back three steps.
She didn’t go down nor drop her blade. Blood dripping down her chin from her split lip and her ears ringing from the blow to her head, Tynet gathered her inner reserve and fired back at the general before he could follow up and kill her.
“Not one of them could best me in a fair fight.”
A muffled gasp could be heard from the rest of the women cowering at the edge of the enclosure.
As she had hoped he rose to the taunt.
No one cast aspersions on his army; it was a direct insult to him. She’d tossed down the gauntlet and now he had to decide whether to meet the challenge. He was sorely tempted to just kill the bitch as his hatred of Amazons knew no bounds, but in truth, he’d noted the disarray of the men himself.
Unknowingly, the soldiers made the decision for him as they began taunting her.
“Kill the slag…”
“Give her to us, we’ll teach her what a real man is”,
“Who’d want to touch the ugly whore? I’d rather fuck a camel!”
His comrades, drunk and disorderly to begin with, picked up on that insult, “Landers, you fuck camels anyway…”
More lewd and disgusting slogans were called out until the roar was deafening. The shouting soon devolved into pandemonium and the general called for quiet. Unable to hear the order over their own catcalls, the soldiers ignored him pressing forward.
In fury the general rounded on them. Seeing the change in their leader, they fell back in fear. He had a clear vision of the rabble he commanded.
Slowly he turned back to Tynet and asked, “How do you propose they prove their worth? ”
With no hesitation, she responded, “Put me in single combat with one of your best warriors, he represents the rest. Who ever is standing at the end is rewarded.”
He considered this for a moment before replying, “And what would be your reward? ”
Asking for the impossible in order that she might at least procure their safety while in captivity, she said, “Free all the women.”
The general almost bent double laughing at such a ridiculous demand. Controlling himself he said. “In the unlikely event that you might win, you’d better choose a boon that I will grant. ”
Pleased at having won half the battle, she forced a neutral expression on her face before replying, “Then if I win, no soldiers touch these women. ”
“And if my soldier wins?”
She swallowed hard sending strength to her resolve. Attempting to camouflage her worst fears, knowing the result for her sisters, especially the young women would be akin to the lowest levels of hell, she spoke evenly, “Then, I suppose he’s proved your army is indeed highly disciplined and have earned their spoils. ”
“An interesting proposition,” replied the general as he eyed the sword still in her grip.
His innate hatred of Amazons propelled him to place one further condition on the woman. Smiling inwardly he gloated over this stroke of genius that would thoroughly demoralize and humiliate the woman while ensuring her death.
“I’ll do it, but you will fight naked and unarmed. ”
She looked with regret at the weapon before dropping it in the dust at her feet.
In reply, the general laughed his hideous cackle. ‘At least she’ll feel the degradation of standing naked in front of me before she dies’, he thought to himself.
Eager to prove their worth before their leader, the soldiers clamored for the honor. One in particular, a disgusting man carrying a mace stepped forward. With an angry red scar running down his face through his eye, he looked every inch an uncivilized beast. Asserting his right to kill this Amazon trash, he shouted above the others.
“Let me. I brought her down in their camp. She’s mine by right. ”
He never wore a helmet and was useless with a sword, but swinging his club with brute strength he would bull through a battle leveling all in his path. Most of the men knew him to be both strong and stupid. Even in their drunken state, they suspected it would take more than strength to fell this woman.
“Forget it Malvik. You should a killed her when ya had the chance.”
Malvik rounded on his comrades ready to murder each and every one of them. Watching this exchange, Tynet was heartened momentarily that maybe he would. The hope was short lived however, as the general more disgusted than ever, stepped in.
Angrily he called for his second, “Colonel, pick your best man and let’s get this done.”
A large swarthy man decorated with red and black ribbons stepped forward and regarded his soldiers intently. His eyes scanned the group of men as they shuffled impatiently wanting only to sample the new toys from their latest raid. He smiled when his eye lit on one of the largest men in his command, Hashim. He was well named, Destroyer. Hashim was an expert with most weapons and in hand to hand combat. This would be a quick and decisive contest.
Minutes later, standing naked and unarmed inside a ring comprised of enemy soldiers, some holding torches high, Tynet waited on the balls of her feet. Those nearest shoved her forward, pinching her buttocks while loudly assessing her physical attributes.
“Yeah and her tits aren’t bad either…”
“She’d be worth fucking, if ya had something over her ugly face…”
“Won’t be nuthin to fuck after Hashim gets done…”
Having heard every insult to her looks ever thought up, Tynet ignored them and their jeers, the noise of which threatened to deafen her. She knew her only chance was to out smart this huge beast brandishing his short saber threateningly in her direction. She had one chance and one chance only.
Her mind flew back to the Amazon camp, hearing her Amazon sisters cheering her on as she raced toward the ceremonial fire ring. A feral smile crossed her face. She knew what to do.
As the huge monster stalked toward her, she feinted right then cut left. Planting her foot hard, she leapt high tucking into a ball. She somersaulted over his head landing behind him. A searing pain erupted from under her left arm down to her hip. She’d been cut. Ignoring the pain, she attacked the moment her feet hit the ground. With all her strength she drove her unprotected elbow hard into the big man’s kidneys before he could turn.
Howling with pain, he straightened up facing his tormenter, his blade moving. Tynet didn’t hesitate; she threw her fist into his exposed throat. Her hand hit flesh with the incredible force born of fury and desperation. She spun away from the shiny blade that flashed in the torch light but not before his blade again found its mark. She now bled freely from her left shoulder and side.
Deprived of air, the big man dropped his weapon grasping his throat. His windpipe crushed he would have died anyway, but Tynet didn’t stop. Snatching up the weapon, she ran the man through, finishing him.
With blade hanging unnoticed in her hand, she sought out the general, who stood stunned at ringside. Just as they made eye contact, a small riot broke out and several of the soldiers fell on her, kicking, pummeling and shouting abuse. One man straddled her waist, his hands wrapped around her neck, squeezing the life from her.
The general’s demands for order went largely unnoticed by the men beating Tynet, but the others dropped back in fear.
“Leave her!” he shouted.
When they continued pounding and choking the prisoner ignoring him, he grabbed the colonel's sword and cleanly sliced the head off the man throttling Tynet. A shower of blood and gore covered her. The rest of the men backed away in silent fear. They knew well the penalty for disobedience.
“I will have order!” The general raged at his men, white spittle spraying from his mouth.
His chest heaving with unspent anger, he regarded the half dead woman at his feet without speaking.
Darkness played at the edge of her vision, narrowing inexorably to the nothingness that she craved. Knowing the Amazons’ well-being depended on her maintaining the illusion of strength; she rolled over and pulled herself to hands and knees. The blood coating her dripped on to the sand as she spoke in a barely audible voice.
“I won. Your men have not proved worthy of any reward.”
Not giving an inch, the general replied, “But you are not standing. ”
Trapped by her own definition of victory, Tynet knew she had to somehow get to her feet before the blackness creeping in claimed her. Shaking her head, she splattered blood and sweat in an arc. Her left side virtually useless, she pushed herself slowly upright using her right leg and arm. The effort to stand shot pain through her and she wanted to scream in agony. Listing badly to her right and in imminent danger of passing out, she looked defiantly back at the general.
With the back of her right forearm she wiped blood, sweat and snot from her swollen raw lips. She cast a meaningful look at her dead opponent crumpled at her feet before she answered the general in a barely audible voice.
“I'm standing, General.”
He was sorely tempted to just kill this miserable excuse for a woman. It was unnatural for a female to beat a man in combat.
For many reasons he took immense pleasure in killing and humiliating Amazons. They were perverts who preferred to share the bed of women rather than with men which was the natural order of things. The quicker the world was rid of them, the sooner he’d rule a place governed by rules he made. Rules that said women were put on earth for the pleasure and service of man and that only male children had value and any deviation from that model would be crushed out.
While he debated his choices, the inebriated restless men began again demanding their spoils of battle. The outbreak of jeers and curses made the decision for him. He commanded a mob and he knew it. It was time to show some discipline.
“Shut up all of you.” He commanded the men. Although a few continued to grumble, they stopped when the general raised his arm as if to summon a fireball. “No one touches these women until it’s earned. Now get this camp in order. We’re moving out at first light. ”
Turning his attention back to Tynet, he spoke with contempt.
“As you say, Amazon, you are the one standing; but you will have to earn the safety of your women each week.”
He issued the challenge to Tynet who stood unresponsive with head hanging down. It was all she could do to breathe. Finally, she managed to look at him and nod in acceptance. Satisfied the general spun on his heel and left her.
It was a miracle that the women had been able to stop the bleeding using their torn garments to staunch her wounds. Still, she’d been unconscious and near death when they’d reached the permanent camp the following day. It was due to the devotion of her Amazon sisters who had carried her and the impressive skills of the healer, Halima, that Tynet had not only survived but recovered and each week she’d fought for the dignity of the captives.
Continued in Chapter 17
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