Meg sat in a corner of a dark, dirty cell. She had been brought
down to the lower levels of the ship. The stench of urine and feces was almost
overwhelming. But something else was torturing her even more.
She replayed in her mind what Tsao-Li did to him. The vicious beating. The kick to Joxer's chin. Joxer's body flipping back through the air, crashing into the ground. His body laying deathly still. Fierce pain ripped through Meg's soul. Tears flowed down her cheeks.
"Joxer..." she whispered, her voice trembling. "Oh Joxer...gods, I love you...please don't be dead..."
Meg suddenly heard footsteps. She looked up. A middle-aged woman stood above her. The dim candlelight lit her face. It was full of pity.
"Hi." she said softly.
Meg wiped the tears from her face. The woman knelt down beside Meg.
"My name's Carla."
Meg gazed at the woman, her eyes full of pain. The woman placed a hand on Meg's shoulder.
"I'm so sorry."
Meg smiled weakly.
"How did Tsao-Li capture you?"
Meg swallowed hard. She gazed at the ground before her.
"I-I was walking along with my boyfriend. H-He and his men jumped us. They beat my boyfriend up really bad. I-I-I don't know if they killed him or not."
She placed her hand on Meg's face. A tear trickled down Carla's cheek.
"That happened to me too."
Meg immediately looked up. Pity filled her face.
Carla nodded quickly. Meg grasped her hand.
"I'm sorry." she said quietly.
Carla sighed. She smiled sadly.
Meg and Carla quickly spun towards the direction of the scream. A young woman sat by the wall, pulling at her hair hard. Soon, she ripped chunks from her head. Meg and Carla instantly got to their feet.
"By the gods..." whispered Meg in horror.
The young woman's face was ashen. Agony and depression roiled savagely through her face, her body. It was all-consuming. She shook violently.
"I CAN'T TAKE IT NO MORE!!!! AAAAAAAAIYAYAIIIII!!!! OOOHHH GAAWWDDS, I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
She ripped still more hair from her head. One woman ran over to her, dropping at her side.
"Mirna, STOP IT!!" the woman yelled.
The young woman was oblivious. She stared at the ground, her eyes bulging out of her head. She had obviously lost all sense of reason.
"I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE!!!!!!!!!!!"
"What's going on in there?!"
Meg, Carla, and the rest of the women in the cell turned towards the front. Six guards stood there, armed with swords and crossbows. The leader was a large, ugly, hairy man. He growled at the sight of the young woman screaming out in agony.
"Shut up in there!!"
"I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE!!!! I CAN'T TAKE ANYMOOOOOORE!!!"
"I SAID SHUT UP IN THERE!!!"
"I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE, I WANNA DIE!!!!"
The guard snarled. He turned to one of his men.
"Open this up."
The man obeyed. In moments, all six guards were inside. Four of them pointed their crossbows and swords at the women. They stepped back. The lead guard walked towards the young woman. Carla instantly ran forward. She stopped in front of him, raising her hands.
"Matuk, please don't!!"
Matuk glared at Carla. He raised his sword at her.
"Get out of the way."
"Please! Don't hurt her!! She's just a child!!"
Matuk bit his lower lip, nodding. He raised an eyebrow. His eyes turned to ice.
"Get out of the way. Or join her on the whipping block."
Carla's eyes narrowed. She refused to budge. Matuk nodded.
"Have it your way. Take them both."
Two guards walked over, grabbing Carla and the young girl. Meg quickly began to move forward, but one guard stepped in front of her, crossbow aimed at Meg's heart. He snarled at her.
"Give me an excuse, bitch."
Meg's anger and fear fought for control. But fear won. She took a step back. Both women were dragged out of the cell.
"C'mon, Balus." said Matuk.
The guard confronting Meg nodded. He turned and left. Meg's sapphire eyes narrowed.
"I've got your number, Balus." she hissed under her breath.
Meg watched as the two women were manacled to the whipping posts. Other women watched as well. Some turned away. Carla gazed at the young woman in front of her, who was still screaming. Tears came to her eyes.
"I'm so sorry, Mirna."
Two guards approached the women from behind. They drew their whips back. Carla braced for the pain.
The whips tore into the women's backs. Carla squinted her eyes shut, biting her lower lip hard. Mirna screamed even louder. And so it went. For what seemed like an eternity, the two guards continually whipped the backs of each woman. Horrific screams came from Mirna. Some of the women in the cells began to cry quietly. Meg turned around, running to the back of the cell. She leaned against the wall. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
"By the gods..." she whispered harshly, her voice trembling. "Philemon... hurry!! Hur...ry!!"
Meg then slid down along the wall. She lowered her head, and began to sob.
Tsao-Li gazed into the bright, mid-morning sky. A few bright, puffy clouds floated about. A new day. And money to be made. He took a deep breath, and let out a sigh of contentment.
Chang-Su walked up to his side. He spoke.
"Dabros has arrived."
Tsao-Li and Chang-Su walked around to the other side of the slave ship. Dabros's ship was approaching. In a short time, his ship pulled up alongside the slave ship. A ramp was extended from the slave ship to that of Dabros. At that moment, Autolycus and Maria appeared, along with five armed men. Two of them carried small wooden chests. They began to walk across the ramp. Tsao-Li and Chang-Su walked up to their end of the plank. Tsao-Li smiled.
"Good morning, Dabros."
Autolycus let out his cheeriest smile.
"Aaaaah!! Good morning, my friend! Beautiful day, isn't it?"
Tsao-Li nodded, returning the smile.
"Yes, yes it is."
Autolycus, Maria, and the five men boarded ship. Tsao-Li and Autolycus shook hands. Tsao-Li looked at the wooden chests being carried by the two men.
"Ah. The payment."
"Yes, my good man. Shall we go to your office?"
"Absolutely. This way."
Meg turned towards the guard. It was the same one that had threatened her last night. Balus. He glared at her with malice. Meg turned towards Carla. She was barely able to stand. Only her shovel kept her upright.
"You all right?" Meg asked, her eyes full of concern.
Carla nodded slowly. She managed a weak smile.
"I said KEEP SHOVELING!!"
Meg turned towards the guard, her eyes flashing in an ever-deepening rage. But Carla grabbed her arm.
Meg stared at Carla in disbelief.
"I'm okay." Carla stated with quiet intensity. "Let's not invite any more trouble."
Meg saw the look in Carla's eyes. The deep, all-consuming fear. Meg fought down the fury and nausea inside her. She nodded once in acknowledgement. They went back to work.
Flies buzzed around their heads as they shoveled the human excrement, dumping it into buckets. Balus and another guard stood watch while the two women continued to work in the dim candlelight. Meg had to use all her will power to prevent from throwing up on the spot. She could see hundreds of maggots burrowing and squirming in the fecal matter. Meg closed her eyes, and made a silent prayer.
Tsao-Li smiled warmly, counting the last of the money. He looked up at Autolycus.
Autolycus bowed his head slightly.
"No problem, my friend."
He got up, and walked over to a window. Autolycus saw the last of the women enter Darbos's ship. He turned to Tsao-Li.
"Well!! I see that you're a happy man."
"That, I am."
He turned to Chang-Su, and another man.
"Take these chests below."
The two men picked up the chests and left the cabin. Autolycus turned to Maria.
"Leave us for a moment. Take a break."
Maria nodded once. She left the cabin as well. Autolycus turned to Tsao-Li.
"I happen to know a friend in Caldonas who could use some of your slaves."
Tsao-Li's eyes widened slightly.
"Oh yeah. This guy's rolling in dinars."
Tsao-Li turned around, picking up a goblet and a bottle of wine. He turned to Autolycus.
"Why thank you."
Tsao-Li poured Autolycus some wine. He took the goblet, and drank a bit. Tsao-Li leaned forward.
"So. Tell me about your friend."
The violent explosion rocked the cabin. Tsao-Li instantly got to his feet.
" What the-
Another violent explosion. Screams and shouts came from outside the cabin. Tsao-Li rushed to the door, opening it. A swarm of arrows, some of them on fire, rained down on his ship. They were coming from Dabros's vessel. Several of Tsao-Li's men were hit. They dropped to the ground, dead. Others ran for cover. Fire erupted from the front of the slave ship. Tsao-Li saw a large group of armed men rush across the ramp towards his ship. He quickly turned around-
A foot smashed into his face. Blood exploded from Tsao-Li's mouth. He flew through the air, crashing hard onto the deck. Autolycus rushed outside. His features were roiling with rage.
"Where's Meg, you bastard?!"
Tsao-Li quickly drew a knife. He got to his feet. He snarled at Autolycus.
"Who are you?!"
"Autolycus, King of Thieves. I'm gonna give ya a whipping ya won't soon forget."
Tsao-Li bared his teeth in a brilliant, feral smile.
"You're that whore's friend?! I killed her. Sliced her throat. Just as I'm going to slice yours."
Tsao-Li rushed at Autolycus. He somersaulted over Tsao-Li's head. Tsao-Li quickly spun around. In two fast, vicious kicks, Autolycus knocked the knife out of his hand and hit him in the face. Blood exploded from Tsao-Li's nose. He staggered back to the doorway of his cabin. Autolycus's eyes widened in fury.
Autolycus leapt at Tsao-Li, hitting him hard. They flew into the cabin.
Maria rammed her foot into the guard's face. He flew off the side of the boat, crashing into the water. Maria turned to Chang-Su. Her hazel eyes were a roaring fire of hatred and rage.
"Where's Meg?!" she screamed.
Chang-Su drew a knife. He smiled cruelly at her.
"Dead. Just like you'll be."
Maria's eyes narrowed into icy slits.
"Meg was my best friend." she hissed. "You raped her eight years ago, and now you've killed her. I'm going to break every bone in your body."
Chang-Su bared his teeth.
"Come and get me."
Maria let out a piercing scream, charging at Chang-Su. He somersaulted over Maria, landing behind her. She whirled around. Chang-Su rammed his left foot into Maria's face. Blood exploded from her nose, and her head snapped back. Chang-Su then executed a vicious, whirling kick. It hit Maria square in the chest. She flew back, crashing through the door of a cabin. The door disintegrated into kindling. Her body smashed into a table, crashing sideways onto the floor. Chang-Su rushed in, knife raised. He leapt at Maria. She whipped her right leg at him, hitting Chang-Su hard in the side. His body flew through the air, crashing into a wall. He fell to the ground. Maria turned towards him, a feral smile on her face.
"Payback time." she hissed.
Matuk stared up at the ceiling, hearing the commotion going on above him.
"What in Tartarus?!"
He turned to three of his men.
"C'mon!! The rest of you, stay here!!"
Matuk and the three men left. The remaining three gazed at each other, bewildered. The women in the cells stared at the ceiling as well, murmuring among themselves. Meg knew the attack had commenced. It was time for her to act.
She quickly shoveled up a particularly large pile of feces. Her blue eyes darted towards Balus, who was staring at the ceiling above him. Suddenly, another violent explosion rocked the boat. Balus was knocked off-balance. Meg's eyes widened in fury.
Meg hurled her shovel's contents at Balus. The feces flew into Balus's face, eyes, and mouth. He let out a gurgled scream, staggering back. Meg ran up to him, shovel drawn back. Her sapphire eyes were afire.
She swung the shovel hard into Balus's face. There was a loud crack as his jaw snapped. Balus flew through the air, crashing face-first into the floor. A huge cry of rage and satisfaction erupted from the other women. The two remaining men quickly raised their crossbows towards Meg. Carla dove at Meg's feet, picking up Balus's discarded crossbow. She fired at the men. The arrows tore into their chests. They flew back against the cells, dropping onto the ground, dead. The cries of rage and satisfaction from the women grew deafening. Meg ran over to Balus's unconscious body, taking the keys from his belt.
"Listen up!!" Meg screamed. "LISTEN UUUUUUUP!!!!!!!"
The screaming and cursing subsided somewhat. Meg spoke again.
"All right!! Listen!! We are being rescued right now by King Philemon and his army!! Go after only Tsao-Li's men!! Got it?!"
The women shouted their acknowledgement.
"We got ya!!"
"DEATH TO TSAO-LI AND HIS MEN!!"
"SPILL THEIR BLOOD!!"
Meg rushed over to each cell, opening them. The women stormed out of each cell screaming and cursing the name of Tsao-Li. Meg ran over to Carla, helping her up. She smiled.
Carla smiled in return.
"No. Thank you. That's a heck of a swing you have."
Meg raised an eyebrow, her grin growing wider.
"I swing a mean ax at home. Let's get outta here."
Chang-Su went flying through a window. He crashed onto the deck. Maria burst from the cabin. Her face was full of demonic glee.
"C'mon, ya sonofa-bacchai." she growled eagerly. "On yer feet."
Chang-Su slowly got up. His eyes widened in fury. With a piercing cry, he swung his foot hard at Maria several times. Maria quickly blocked the kicks. Chang-Su then threw a series of violent punches at Maria, who effortless blocked them all. She suddenly grabbed Chang-Su's arms and rammed her head into his face with all her might. His head snapped back, blood erupting from his nose. Maria rammed a knee into his side. Chang-Su's eyes bulged out of his head as several ribs cracked. Finally, Maria rammed her fist hard into Chang-Su's face. He flew through the air, crashing into the side of a cabin. Chang-Su fell to the ground. Maria cracked her knuckles. She approached him.
Chang-Su lifted his head. He saw a discarded knife laying before him. Chang-Su quickly snatched it up, slowly rising to his knees. He grimaced in agony. Chang-Su glared at Maria in fury. She raised an eyebrow, grinning eagerly.
"Yeah!!" she hissed. "Bring it on!!"
Chang-Su let out a harsh cry, rushing towards Maria. He lunged at her. Maria grabbed his hand, violently turning the knife back towards its owner and down. Chang-Su's eyes bulged out of his head as he felt the knife burrow deep into his groin. He let out a long, strangled cry. Maria cackled with glee.
Maria swept Chang-Su off his feet, lifting him high above her head. Her teeth were bared in rage. She let out a piercing scream, slamming him down with all her might into her knee. There was a loud crack as Chang-Su's spine snapped. Maria tossed him off her knee. He fell to the ground, dead. Maria rose to her feet, watching Tsao-Li's men and Philemon's fighting fiercely. She looked out into the waters, and saw King Diates's ships approaching. Her eyes narrowed in fury.
She ran off.
Tsao-Li rammed his fist into Autolycus's face. Autolycus flew back through the air, crashing into a wall. Tsao-Li glanced outside. His men appeared to be losing to Philemon's. He knew he had to escape. Tsao-Li leapt through a window. He landed hard, rolling over and over. Finally, Tsao-Li got to his feet. He ran through the midst of fighting men. Autolycus got to his feet, shaking his head. He looked around. His eyes widened in anger.
"Oh no you don't!!"
He ran outside, picking up a discarded sword. Autolycus spun to his right. He saw Tsao-Li fleeing through the angry mass of fighting men. Autolycus took off after him.
The freed women rushed up each deck, killing Tsao-Li's guards as they ascended. They cried out in rage, screaming for the death of Tsao-Li. Meg and Carla made their best efforts to keep up with the crowd of enraged women. Soon, they made it to the top. The women burst through the doors, immediately attacking Tsao-Li's guards. Meg looked at the ship across from theirs. She saw dozens of Philemon's men surge across the ramp onto Tsao-Li's ship. Meg turned to Carla, pointing at the ship.
"Carla, that's where we've got to go!! C'mon!!"
They ran in the direction of Philemon's ship, maneuvering around the fighting men and women. Soon they entered a clear space-
And Tsao-Li burst forth from a cabin. He grabbed Meg, wrapping an arm around her neck. He held a knife to her throat. At that moment, Maria and Autolycus appeared. They stopped instantly at seeing Tsao-Li and Meg. He viciously yanked Meg back. He edged himself towards a cabin behind him. His eyes were wild with rage.
"I'll cut this bitch's throat!! Stay back, OR I'LL RIP HER THROAT OPEN!! I SWEAR IT!!"
He tightened his grip on Meg's throat. She gagged in agony. Maria and Autolycus slowly made a step forward.
"You're not going to get away." growled Maria.
Tsao-Li further increased his stranglehold around Meg's neck. She let out a gurgled cry of pain. Tsao-Li pressed the blade into her neck. A tiny drop of blood trickled forth. Autolycus's face grew pale. He raised his hand.
"Please...don't do that!!"
Tsao-Li burst into insane laughter. He glared at Autolycus heatedly.
"I'll do WHATEVER I WANT!!!"
At that moment, Philemon and several soldiers rushed forth. They stopped as soon as they saw Tsao-Li and Meg. Tsao-Li whirled to face the prince. Philemon raised his hand, motioning his soldiers to stay put. Philemon spoke.
"I'm Prince Philemon of Boecia. You're surrounded, Tsao-Li. Your men have been defeated. My army and King Daites's army have joined forces. You are hereby under arrest for kidnapping, as well as engaging in the illegal commerce of slavery in Boecia."
"This is not your jurisdiction!!" screamed Tsao-Li. "These are Mirtan's waters!! You have no right here!! Slavery is not illegal here!!"
"It is now."
Tsao-Li spun to his left. A tall man walked forth, wearing a dark robe. His jet-black hair was combed back. He eyed Tsao-Li with malice.
"I am King Diates. You are hereby under arrest for the illegal practice of slavery. And that woman you have hostage is a citizen of Mirtan, whom you've kidnapped. Surrender now."
Tsao-Li slowly moved back, not believing what he was hearing. Behind him, on the roof of the cabin, appeared a form.
It was Joxer.
He slowly crept to the edge of the roof. Tsao-Li edged back, closer and closer to the cabin wall. His face was hideously twisted in an all-consuming fury.
"No!!" he screamed. "NO!! I'LL NEVER SURRENDER!! LET ME GO, OR I'LL CUT THIS BITCH'S THROAT!!"
Joxer raised his sword, moving into position. He knew he would only get one chance at this.
"I'LL CUUUUUTT IIIIIIIITTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!" Tsao-Li screamed at the top of his lungs.
Joxer jumped off the roof. He rammed the hilt of his sword with all his might into Tsao-Li's skull. The momentum sent all three of them crashing into the ground. Philemon's guards burst forth. They ran over to Tsao-Li, dragging his unconscious body away from Meg and Joxer. Autolycus and Maria ran up to them. Autolycus gathered Joxer into his arms, hugging him tight.
"Yaaaaa-HOOOO!!!" he yelled. "Way ta go, buddy!!"
Maria gathered Meg into her arms. Meg sobbed bitterly. Maria held her close, stroking her head.
"Sssssssssh, ssssssssh, sssssssssh!!" Maria cooed. "It's over baby. It's over."
Meg looked up at Maria, her tear-filled eyes full of shock.
"W-Who stopped Tsao-Li?!"
Maria turned towards Joxer, giving him a brilliant smile.
Meg quickly turned to the right. Joxer stared at Meg, tears streaming down his cheeks. Meg's blue eyes bulged out of her head.
She flew at him, tackling him to the ground. Meg wrapped her arms around Joxer in a bone-crushing hug. She cried hysterically, burrowing her face into his shoulder. Joxer returned the fierce hug, crying as well. Autolycus and Maria looked at each other, smiling.
"We did it." said Autolycus.
Maria's smile grew even wider.
"Yeah. We did it."
"So. Do you mind if I take Tsao-Li back to Boecia to face charges there?" asked Philemon.
"Not at all, not at all." answered Daites. "Besides, my friend, I think Tsao-Li will be spending hefty prison time in both our kingdoms."
Philemon's eyes narrowed in anger.
"After seeing these poor women, I guarantee that his punishment will be swift and severe."
Diates placed his hand on Philemon's shoulder.
"Be sure to save a piece of him for me. Anyone who's committed the crimes he has should never see the light of day again."
Autolycus and Maria looked at each other, exchanging huge smiles. Maria turned to Philemon and Daites.
"I-I don't know how to thank you." said Maria, her voice trembling slightly. "You both saved the lives of dozens of women. You've given them hope again."
Philemon and Diates smiled warmly.
"It was our pleasure." said Diates.
Philemon walked over to Maria, placing a hand on her arm.
"Thank you. And Autolycus. We couldn't have done this without your help-"
"THAT'S RIGHT!! KILL HIM!!"
"SKEWER THE SONOFA BITCH!!!"
'SHOOT HIM IN THE BALLS!!!"
The four looked at each other in shock.
"What on Earth...?!" exclaimed Philemon.
They ran outside the cabin. Their eyes widened in disbelief. Meg stood there, a crossbow aimed at a manacled Tsao-Li. The two guards that held him slowly backed away from the prisoner. The dozens of women there were screaming their approval. Bloodlust roiled through the crowd of enraged women.
"KILL HIM, MEG!! SEND HIM TO HADES!!"
"SHOOT HIS BALLS OFF!!"
"TO TARTARUS WITH THE BASTARD!!! JUSTICE NOW!!!"
"WE WANT REVENGE!!!!"
Maria and Autolycus ran towards Meg. She rapidly turned her head towards them, pinning them with the most ferocious, animalistic stare either one of them had ever seen. A horrific chill tore through them.
Maria slowly approached Meg.
"Meg, don't do this-"
"SHUT UP!!!" screamed Meg at the top of her lungs.
Her eyes pinned Tsao-Li. He stared at her in an ever-growing fear. Meg's sapphire eyes were boiling with intense rage.
"He...deserves...to DIE!!!" she shouted viciously.
The crowd of women screamed their approval. Meg gripped her crossbow harder, her finger encircling the trigger.
"Don't do it Meg!!" shouted Autolycus. "There's another way-"
"There IS NO OTHER WAY!!" yelled Meg in fury. "He must DIE!!!"
The crowd of women screamed again. Meg closed one eye, aiming for Tsao-Li's heart. His eyes widened in terror.
Meg instantly recognized the voice as Joxer's. Then to her total shock, Joxer jumped in front of Tsao-Li. He raised his hands. The screaming died down. The crowd of women stared at Joxer in disbelief. Joxer slowly approached Meg.
"Put...the crossbow...down, Meg." said Joxer slowly, his eyes full of fear.
Meg stared at Joxer, anger and grief roiling through her face. Her body shook from the intensity of the emotions. She shook her head.
"No!! No, he hurt me!! He RAPED me!!"
"He's not worth it Meg." said Joxer. "He's not worth murdering."
"Yes he is... Y-Yes he is!! H-He should die!! He's hurt people!! He's killed people!!"
"If you kill him, Meg, you'll be just like him!" said Joxer desperately. "You're better than him!! You're a way better person than him!!"
Meg's eyes narrowed in agony. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
"He raped me, Joxer. He raped me."
Joxer drew closer. His face was filled with overwhelming concern and pity.
"Murdering him will not ease the pain. In fact, it'll get worse. Remember what I went through with Criton?? Remember?? If you kill Tsao-Li now, your nightmares will be a thousand times worse. Tsao-Li will be in your nightmares for the rest of your life. I'll stake my life on that Meg. You, of all people, don't deserve that."
Meg let out a low cry of anguish. The crossbow trembled in her hands. Joxer drew even closer.
"I love you, Meg." he said softly. "Let's walk away from this. Give me the crossbow. Please."
Meg trembled even more. Joxer eyed her steadily. Meg gazed into the eyes of the man she loved. Meg saw the overwhelming love and pity in his eyes. It overtook her. Meg began to sob.
She lowered her head and the crossbow. Joxer rushed over to Meg, taking the crossbow out of her hands. Maria ran over to the pair. Joxer gave Maria the crossbow. He took Meg into his arms, holding her close. Joxer kissed Meg on top of her head.
"Let's go home, sweetheart." he said softly.
Joxer began to lead Meg away from Tsao-Li.
"YOU WORTHLESS WHORE!!!"
Meg winced at the words. Joxer gripped her tighter. Maria spun towards Tsao-Li, enraged. But Joxer raised his hand.
"No, Maria!" he said firmly.
Maria growled, holding her ground. Joxer and Meg continued to walk away from Tsao-Li. His eyes were wild with fury and hatred.
"You're a worthless, shit-stained WHORE!!" Tsao-Li screamed. "I SHIT ON YOU!! YOU DISGUSTING, WORTHLESS BITCH!!"
Something inside Joxer snapped.
A savage, overwhelming fury erupted from deep within him. In seconds, he was hurtling towards Tsao-Li, screaming at the top of his lungs. Joxer rammed his right fist with all his might into the side of Tsao-Li's face. There was a loud crack as his jaw snapped. He flew through the air, crashing hard into the floor. Tsao-Li slid to a stop and lay still. Blood flowed from his mouth onto the deck. Maria and Meg stared at Joxer, overwhelmed with shock. Gasps came from the crowd of women.
Joxer glared at Tsao-Li's still form. His face was twisted in hatred.
"That's my woman you're talking about." he hissed.
Francisca handed Autolycus the cup of tea. He smiled.
He turned to Maria, raising an eyebrow.
"Wow. I never thought that Joxer, of all people, had such a vicious right!"
Maria chuckled heartily.
"Neither did Tsao-Li. That's what happens when you push people too far."
Meg smiled warmly into her cup of tea.
"Yeah. What a man."
Maria looked at Meg, eyebrows raised.
"I second that."
Autolycus raised his cup of tea.
"A toast, I say. To Joxer The Mighty!!"
"Here, here!!" exclaimed Maria.
The four friends raised their cups of tea, touching them together.
"To Joxer the Mighty!!" they exclaimed.
The four friends drank their tea. Meg got to her feet.
"I'm going up to my room. Joxie's waiting for me."
Autolycus got up as well. An evil smile crossed his features.
"Oooooooooooh!! Joxie, is it?? Ho-ho-ho-ho!! Boy-I'll never let him live that down!! Hahahahahaha!!"
Meg's eyes narrowed. She walked over to Autolycus, poking him hard in the chest. Autolycus gasped in shock.
"That's my man you're messing with, Mister Stinky." warned Meg in a cold voice. "You keep your grimy paws away from him."
Meg grabbed Autolycus's collar, yanking him close. Her sapphire eyes bored into his.
"Got it, Stinky??"
Autolycus swallowed hard.
Meg grinned mischievously.
Meg suddenly hugged Autolycus tight. The King of Thieves stiffened, shocked at this sudden show of affection. Meg then kissed him on the cheek. She pulled back, a brilliant smile on her face.
"Thanks, Auto. For everything."
Autolycus smiled warmly in return.
"Hey! What are friends for??"
Meg turned to Francisca and Maria.
"Good night guys."
Maria smiled devilishly, raising an eyebrow.
"Got anything planned tonight??"
Meg raised her own eyebrow, displaying the same devilish smile. She turned and left the room. Autolycus sighed.
"Boy. That Joxer's one lucky fellow."
Maria turned towards Autolycus. She raised both eyebrows.
"Hey handsome! Wanna go out on a date?"
Autolycus grinned. He held out his hand.
"Why not!! Dinner's on me."
Maria got to her feet, grasping Autolycus's hand. She turned to Francisca, and winked.
"Don't wait up."
Joxer soaked his right hand in the cold water, grimacing in pain. It was badly bruised from the punch to Tsao-Li's face. He growled in frustration.
"Why in Tartarus did this guy have to have such a hard jaw?!"
Joxer turned around. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped. Meg stood before him. She was wearing her see-through purple nightgown. It was open in front. And Joxer noticed Meg was totally nude underneath. He swallowed hard.
Meg walked up to Joxer. She stood before him, her eyes full of love and gratitude.
"Joxer, you saved my life."
Joxer blushed. He lowered his head.
Meg placed a hand under his chin, lifting it. Her eyes narrowed in pity at the sight of the cuts and bruises all over his face.
"You risked your life for me." Meg said softly.
Joxer frowned. His face darkened.
"But I let them take you." he said, full of shame. "I-I let them take-"
Meg instantly moved in, kissing Joxer. Her tongue probed Joxer's mouth, swirling around inside it. She moaned softly. Meg then pulled back a little, placing her forehead on his.
"You did your best." she whispered.
Meg silenced Joxer again with a kiss. She sucked on Joxer's lower lip. Meg pushed Joxer against the wall. She kissed him for a few more moments, and pulled back slightly. Meg gazed deep into Joxer's eyes.
"I love you, Joxer."
Joxer blushed a deep crimson.
"I-I love you too."
"Thanks for being there for me." said Meg quietly, her voice full of emotion. "Through everything. Thank you for being there through all this. You don't know what that means to me."
A gentle smile crossed Joxer's face.
"I-I think I do. I wouldn't be anywhere else."
Joxer leaned back on his right hand. Suddenly, pain exploded through it. His eyes widened in agony.
Meg jumped back, startled. Joxer lifted his bruised right hand in front of his face. He frowned deeply in pain.
Meg moved in quickly. She stared at Joxer's badly bruised knuckles.
"Sweetie, your hand!!"
Joxer grimaced in discomfort.
"Aw, I bruised it when I knocked out that bastard."
"You didn't break anything, did you?!"
"Naw, naw, I didn't. I would've known. Just bruised it, ouch..."
Meg grasped his injured hand.
"Let me see, sweetheart."
She carefully looked the hand over, seeing the bruises around his knuckles and the top of the hand. Meg tenderly kissed it. Then, she ran her tongue along his knuckles. She caressed it with her lips. Joxer swallowed hard.
Meg stopped kissing Joxer's hand. She moved in closer, studying Joxer's face.
"What else hurts, Joxie? Hmmm?"
Meg wrapped her arms around Joxer, pressing into him. She began to tenderly lick the bruises and wounds on his face. She moaned softly. Joxer was getting very aroused by this.
"W-What are you doing??"
Meg pulled back, leaning her forehead on Joxer's.
"Remember when I said I had something planned for you when you first came back?"
Joxer nodded slightly.
Meg slid her hand into Joxer's pajamas, grasping his member. Joxer gasped. Meg moved in closer. She licked Joxer's ear.
"It's time for a trip to Elysia." she moaned into his ear.
Meg then gave Joxer a deep kiss, and the two lovers slid down onto a bearskin rug. It was a night that Joxer would remember for a long, long time.
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