First came the thunk of heavy boots taking slow steps up stairs. Miri had been expecting those. Next was the slow creak of the door opening and begging to be oiled. It was a wonder they snuck up on anyone with such lack of stealth, but it would do, she imagined, for small groups in a room with no light or other exits. She heard their ragged breathing even before they entered. Finally came the muffled screams of Hazirah and then Kara through hands clasped over their mouths. Miri did not resist. She did not so much as pull away as she was gagged and hooded and dragged into the cold night air. Her Khopesh was yanked free of her belt.
“You won’t be needing no maiden’s trinket where you’re going princess.” His voice was little more than a growl. He was low born, a farmer’s son she guessed by his rough calloused hands grasping her arm, maybe a butcher. “Damn this thing!” he squealed almost instantly. Miri smiled beneath the sack covering her head. Her blade, Kindness as it was called, had tasted of his blood. She would want more, it was certain.
They rode for hours into the night at a devil’s pace. Miri was thrown over steed like a sack. She doubted her companions fared any better. The horses galloped hard and fast at the boots of their masters. They’d taken a forest trail, Miri could tell by the musky scent of trees, plants and dirt. When the scent became more fowl and the horses slowed to a trot, she knew they’d arrived in a town, a large town to be sure.
With a fair amount of shoving, squealing and swearing Miri and her companions were lead into a building with hard wooden floors and forced down to sets of stairs. The lower they went, the warmer it got. The room grew dense with the breath of others and heavy with silence. This is where they were held, Miri could tell. She could hear the individual heartbeats of each woman and girl. There had to be at least twenty huddled in the room, intimidated into complete silence. The three were pushed forward into another space. The thump of a heavy door sounded with finality behind them. They’d reached their destination.
Hoods were ripped unceremoniously from over their heads, one at a time. Miri was last to receive the gift of sight. It mattered little. She knew where she was. The room was dim, lit only by a few candles.
“Good evening ladies. I trust that my men didn’t treat you too harshly” A man spoke from behind a desk littered with papers. The shadow and light of the flame danced across the sharp angles of his face. He was a westerner to be sure. His pale skin was tale-tell of that. His long brown curls framed his face nicely. The man was handsome, and a gentleman no less, judging by his expensive garb. Likely a lord of something or the other, Miri thought. “This is my establishment ladies, and your new home. Whoever you were before does not matter. As of this moment you are courtesans at the Garden Oasis Inn. You have no father, no husband, no betrothed, nor even a brother, but me. I am your all from this point forward.”
“This is a whore house” Kara stated plainly, no longer wearing the guise of an innocent high-born lady. She was slapped, and hard, by the man still holding her by her tied wrists for speaking.
“Whore houses are common my sweet. “ The man grinned behind the flickering of the flames. “My customers are the finest patrons in the west. They come from far and wide to bathe in my oasis. Nothing here is common, I assure you. Especially me.” Miri saw a faint flicker in the man’s eyes that she’d recognized right off. It was meant to be seen, to frighten his newest boarders she assumed, but did he know? Was she recognized?
“And what if we refuse?” Hazirah asked clearly in the tongue of the west, quite obviously shocking the men who had dragged them in. The man in the darkness smiled. “The disobedient are punished. I am Lord of the Oasis, and I am kind, but my stewards are very cruel. Lending yourselves to my service is but a courtesy compared to what my stewards will resign you to, you can be certain.”
“And what will be done with us?” Kara asked. Just the smallest hint of fear edged through her voice. It was a sound so unfamiliar to Miri. Kara was afraid of nothing. She silently mourned for allowing the woman to join her on this mission.
“You will be trained in the ways of the courtesan my sweet. You will learn every way to please both man and woman. You will become a master at the arts of pleasure. You will learn to enjoy this life and this place, but not tonight. Tonight you must be broken in. It will be most unpleasant.” His words were final and the smile melted from his face as if the idea displeased him as much as them.
“Lord Garret,” the man holding Miri by the arm began, “This one is a princess from a foreign land, and a maid at that they say. She even comes with this fancy sword to do her maiden’s dance for her betrothed” he waved her kophesh around clumsily. He hissed when it tasted his blood for the second time. She was quite hungry now. “Blast this damned thing” he muttered before continuing in his plight. “Might be she’s worth far more than the others, to sell the maidenhood of a dark princess I mean.” The man was being greedy more than helpful, Miri knew. He only meant to collect a larger fee for being the one lucky enough to grab her first and drag her in.
“A maiden princess you say, and with such alluring dark skin? This one will be worth much and your purse will reflect it.” The Lord Garret stood. He was taller than them all, even Kara, and more stunning to look upon up close. With a face and build like his, Miri guessed he might do a bit of whoring himself. “Ladies, if you will?” The man gestured kindly toward the door with manners as pristine as freshly polished silver. None of them mistook it for meaning they were being asked. Their captors still held quite tightly onto each of them and again they were tugged from the room.
The building was larger than Miri had imagined it was. She could tell by the stale air that they were underground, in a cellar of sorts, but there was a labyrinth of winding halls. It was hard to tell where they’d come from or where they were going.
Lord Garret opened a narrow door and stood back as the women were shoved through it. They had passed this way before, Miri knew. She had heard the silent breathing and nervous beating of their hearts. Twenty three women, Miri counted, her hazel eyes honed in on each girl, one at a time. Some lounged lazily on pillows, hardly glancing up while others stood nervously at the sound of their very approach. One was kneeling in the corner, obviously praying to one god or another. She would be the one they came for. Miri heard her prayers, and they would be answered, eventually. None of the women wore any clothes. It was an environment meant to humiliate and shame them, until they could no longer feel shame. Heat raged in Miri’s belly. She inhaled deeply and called for calm. Now was not the time for rage, not yet.
“You have guests’ ladies” Garret began in a straight forward tone, “You do know what is expected.”
“Welcome sister,” a woman walked up to Hazirah first. Her long blonde hair hung down to her waist and shimmered as she approached. Hazirah did not so much as flinch when the petite blonde pressed her lips to hers, nor when the girl lifted the top half of her garment from her body, leaving her breasts covered only by the thin cloth wrap that held them down. Soon there were more. Kara shook like a leaf as she was touched, kissed, fondled and ultimately stripped by woman after woman. Miri stood stock still and closed her eyes tight, not wanting to look upon her affronters, doing all not to judge them unjustly.
“Open your eyes!” A loud smack followed by the sting of being slapped, hard, in the back of the head caused her eyes to shoot open. It was the man who had captured her and brought her to this place. Twice her sword had tasted of his blood. It was calling for him now, so loud that he could feel it and begged to answer its call unaware. This time her eyes remained open, and fixed on this man. She watched as he yanked his belt free and as his breeches hit the floor and was kicked aside. He squeezed his short fat erection rhythmically while Miri and her companions were examined. He was filthy from the ride. H e was not very tall, but quite broad with dark curls in a mass on his head as well as between his legs. He would be brutal, she could tell.
“The Moor is a maid Lord Garret.” Only then did Miri glance down at the brown haired girl who had gently slid her finger between the folds of her lips. She pulled them away shimmering with Mir’s own moisture. Miri had been so engrossed in Kindnesses call, that she’d hardly noticed the violation. At least the girl was kind enough to be gentle, she thought.
“So it is true then. Excellent. Send her to my chambers. A virgin princess is a prize one does not acquire often. This one, I will break in myself.” The filthy brute with the fat cock looked disappointed. Miri would smile if not for the fact that he would likely take his disappointment out on one of her companions, she they give him the chance. “Gentleman, these two have been well warmed for you. It is time you broke them in. Fetch the others and do your duty.” Garret said with distaste.
Then Miri cringed. There would be others. All of the men who had brought them in would likely get a turn, or several turns, and the other girls would watch or help while she and her companions were brutalized. That was not uncommon for this process, she knew.
“I do not need long.” Miri said in her native tongue as Lord Garret led her away. She listened hard to every grunt and scream as she walked away. She would miss none of it. Each blow would be repaid in kind. Justice would be served.
It was a slow ascent from the cellars to the highest room in the establishment. There were beds, pillows, and draperies spread about the room in an assortment of shades and colors that gave the room a dreamlike quality. On one wall there was a single hook, and there her kophesh hung. It was still in the cellar when she left it.
“It did not take you long find to me” he said with a yawn as he threw himself back onto a pile of soft pillows. “It was impossible to miss you, looking into the eyes of every life you’ve ever lived.”
“You are easy to find when you do what you can to be found.” Miri replied, circling the man, or being rather, on the pillows warily. This one was not to be trusted. “I see that you still enjoy the company of many women. It is new that you must use force to get them, Garret is it?”
“Yes, Lord Garret in this life, and don’t be ridiculous. I’ve never forcibly taken a woman in all of my ages. Why should I? I am the master of manipulation. They are all in love with me before I ever touch them.”
“You incite lust, not love Garret. Do not begin to fool yourself with your own tricks. It won’t end well.” Miri smirked at the man, head hung back, letting his sift brown ringlets hang to the floor. He was still enamored with himself, after so many lifetimes, it was plain.
“Why shouldn’t I when my beautiful, immortal, wife shames me with her maidenhood? Me, of all the creatures in the heavens and earths!” He sat up, upset with the very idea.
“I am your punishment for playing the wrong trick Lord Garret. I am the Justice that was served upon you, and will be served upon you for all eternity. You know this. I will always hunt you, I will always find you, and you will always suffer my vengeance.”
“Yes, and you will always be plagued by this chase. I am the one wrong that you will never right my love. I am not the only one being punished.” Garret was obviously bored by the discussion. It was one they’d had over countless lifetimes, in countless worlds. “Shall I fetch Kindness for you?” he asked politely. Miri stretched out her hand and her kophesh filled it obediently. “Of course not, Kindness never really leaves you, does it my sweet?”
“Never” she said as she traced a thin slit beneath one of his eyes. He winced but did not attempt to move. It was useless.
“The screams down below are no longer the screams of women.” Garret noted. His men were being butchered, he realized. Her companions were never far whenever he’d find his wife. At least someone held her heart, if not him.
“This will be most unpleasant dearest husband. You will suffer all that you have caused every unwilling woman to suffer in this place. Every hurt, every sorrow and every torment will be unleashed on you that you allowed to be experienced here. It will be painful, it will be brutal and you will not die until I will it.”
“Is it within my rights, as your husband, to ask for mercy?” Lord Garret asked, and not for the first time in his lives. He’d known his wife’s idea of justice too many times, and each experience was worse than the last. Worse still was how she enjoyed it. Miri only smiled.
“You did not wed mercy. You wed vengeance.” She thrust her sword into his bowls and spilled them on the soft pillows and stood silent while he screamed in agony.
“Do not close your eyes husband, look and see what you have caused here. Watch.” Miri closed her copper eyes and thrust her hand into his gaping stomach, grabbing hold to what must be his small intestine. Slowly, her eyes opened again, glowing a rainbow of colors, yet none at all. Through her eyes, Garret could see all.
Silent tears fell from Hazirah’s eyes as she watched two strange men take Kara savagely from two directions. It was a chorus of screams and blood. The party that had apprehended them tore through the room of women like a plague. All around her women were raped, and brutalized. She could barely feel the pounding in her own loins for the pain resonating all around her.
“Are you Lyla?” She asked one girl who was pleasuring another for the sake of their captors. She shook her head almost imperceptibly. The woman whose legs she spread gave the same answer. Again and again she asked as she was passed about the room between man and woman alike. She had begun to think that this priest’s daughter was nowhere to be found, until she heard a scream. In this place of torment, a scream would not be uncommon, except that it was no longer the scream of a woman. Hazirah looked up to fond Kara, standing bare and bloodied in the center of the room. Between her teeth was a fat hunk of flesh. Blood flowed down her lips and over her breasts as she spat the meat to the floor.
“I have her.” Was all Kara said. Hazirah smiled and kicked her way from between two girls. She hopped up and landed on her toes lithely as a jungle cat. The room was still and silent.
“Then let us begin our work.” To break the silence, Hazirah broke the neck of the man nearest her, on the floor beneath some red head girl. Her heal landed deftly and broke his wind pipe. Blood splattered the child as she scrambled away, but it was no matter.
Two came for Kara naked and limp. Apparently the sight of their comrade’s penis at her feet did little for their libidos. Kara dipped into a fighters stance and easily tossed the first charger over her shoulder. The next, she broke his shin with a quick thrust of her heel. She reached down to snap his neck, just for good measure. The room was in chaos. Women and men alike screamed and ran to escape. No men were so lucky.
Lord Garret was ceasing on the floor beneath her as Miri sent every pain and emotion from below coursing through his mind and body. Tears of blood ran from his eyes as she squeezed all the more at his entrails, watching the life seep from this existence. If only she could learn to keep it from passing into yet another.
“Goodbye my love” she whispered as she planted a kiss over one of his bloody tears. “We shall meet again.”