The witches warned Cassie not to go see Bastet-Selene by herself but she was like “lol, it’s fine guise (spies)”, except it really wasn’t and now she gonna need some hair dye and probably have to hear someone day “told you so”.
Aries and Orion got some mail from mummy and daddy that basically said “bai!” so they made out a little (as twins do) and decided to peace out and see the world or something.
Then Artemis visited her Aunty Holly, but not because she wanted to go hiking and get more steps, but because she’s looking for something (or maybe someone?).
Lastly, Mosi took us on a bummed out tour of the new vampire bachelor pad and kind of missed his mom (or at least her decorating flair). Turns out Anubis is a pretty chill, but kind of antisocial, roomie.
“It is easy to disdain an ambitious woman, and mark her as a villain.”
“But did you ever sacrifice pregnant girls on the altar of your ambition, mother?” She asked the memory, “would you call me a villain if you knew what I have done?”
The girl was gone, Sabit said, and the queen’s panic receded into relief, followed inevitably by a stab of guilt; but it could not be helped.
The all consuming anxiety, the white hot anger. Beasts on her shoulder, creatures of her own making.
“And now I have come too far to turn back.”
Marketa’s mother had been the first among the wives of the Scorpion Prince, and the Queen of Sim’Caritambo had been her only daughter, born small, and cursed with a sickly disposition as a child.
There had never been much belief that the delicate little princess would amount to anything, except in the eyes of her mother; Lady Ruzena saw her daughter’s weak body, and determined only that the child would need a different kind of weaponry than her more robust sisters.
Instead of a shield and spear, Marketa was armed and armoured with what she could glean from the study of books and the natural world. No one in the Scorpion Court cared what the little girl learned under her mother’s watchful eye, but perhaps they should have.
“People will always underestimate you; use it to your advantage.”
And they did, and she had; first at the Queen’s Proving, and then again upon arriving in the Jaguar City to be the Ayar’s bride. The pride in Lady Ruzena’s face had been all the reward she needed at the time; they had won.
Then, the festivities were over. The queen’s mother was far away in the Scorpion Court, once again, and her daughter was left alone in the Conqueror’s City amid a throng of strangers, married to a man she barely knew.
Kon did not behave like any man she’d ever met, and most especially not like her own father.
The Scorpion Prince was severe and cerebral, ruling his court with ruthless efficiency and economy.
The Ayar Descendant did occasionally show hints of intelligence, to be fair, but he was flighty, irresponsible, and seemed only to care about pleasure and indolence, happy to let his councilors and stewards run the daily affairs of his office.
“Contempt is the death of regard.”
Marketa came very quickly to scorn her husband’s company, though the worst of his qualities afforded her the most advantage; it was no difficult thing to grasp the reins of Sim’Caritambo from it’s indifferent king.
At first the power of her position was the reward; the absolute obedience of an entire nation is a heady thing for a young woman used to being overlooked. That she enjoyed it, and was good at it, were unexpected delights; seeing the great city flourish under her care brought a depth of satisfaction to her life that she hadn’t even known she wanted.
Then the first year of their marriage was done, and Marketa sat in the Jaguar Court as her husband announced the impending birth of their child. There was celebration and congratulation, and everyone agreed that the Conqueror had indeed blessed his chosen people.
The nobles favoured the King’s Harem with their loveliest daughters, and slavers came to pay tribute with gifts of beautiful, exotic women. The Year of Temaz was finished, and the ruler of Sim’Caritambo would bless the nation by filling the bellies of as many wenches as he could manage; to say that Kon was excited was a gross understatement.
“Question everyone’s motives, especially your own, lest you be caught unawares.”
Marketa had thought herself pleased at the notion that she would no longer have to suffer Kon’s constant advances, and sulking over her disdain for his bed; a stunning lack of foresight, but also a valuable lesson.
The Queen of Sim’Caritambo held her newborn daughter, Nenetl, and a cold fear washed over her; she had been certain, so very certain, that her rule had been ordained by the gods themselves.
The small, unappreciated girlchild besting the mighty spearmaidens of Simchu Pichu, rising to rescue a floundering nation from a lackadaisical, unworthy ruler.
It was an inspiring story, in her mind, and she had expected it to have a happy ending; the triumphant, underdog queen holding a shining star to her bosom, ushering forth a new and glorious line of kings in the name of the Conqueror.
But it was a lie.
Did one of the harem wenches carry the Scion already? Was everything she’d worked for about to come crumbling down around her? He would be born to another woman, celebrated and loved by all; and one day, they would give him the kingdom that she had rescued and nurtured.
If she yet lived when Kon died, she would be sacrificed like a goat, to accompany her insufferable husband to the afterlife; thank you so very much, Queen Marketa, for your service.
It could not be born; it would not be born.
“A wise person seeks council, in troubled times; a fool flounders under their own hubris.”
The Queen of Sim’Caritambo dispatched a missive to the Scorpion Court on the eve of her daughter’s birth, and in a handful of days, her salvation arrived.
Marketa was surprised to find she had truly missed her old tutor and lover, and was pleased to hear what the mystic had received a Vision for her.
“I have seen you, Your Radiance, holding a golden key in your hand, with your husband trapped in a gilded cage; a thousand maidens come to tempt him, and he presses himself against the bars, but they cannot enter–”
The queen heard Sabit’s words, and it was like the clouds parted and brought sudden wisdom to her mind.
“A fertility tincture!” She crowed, “I have studied such things as can make a man’s seed foul from the moment he expels it, unless it finds itself inside the womb of a woman who also takes the tincture!”
Sabit face registered concern, or perhaps disapproval? “That sounds very much like a toxin, my Queen; I must protest if you intend to intoxicate yourself, especially given your delicate health–”
“It can be done very mildly, Sabit; only a slight alteration to the body’s humours,” could the woman not see? “This very thing was ordained in your Vision! The principle ingredient for the tincture is locksgold, and what opens a golden lock? A golden key!”
“The more common name for that flower is yellow folly, Your Radiance, as I am certain you are aware; it has been known to induce varying degrees of erratic behaviour, even madness, and is highly addictive in nature,” the witch shook her head, “your mother would not approve of–”
“My mother is not the Queen of Sim’Caritambo!” Marketa hissed; how did this woman not understand that they had been handed the solution on a golden platter by the gods themselves! This was a test, clearly; and she would not flounder.
“Be bold for yourself, my pearl; no one will be bold on your behalf.”
Nerissa had kind of a problem; after a long long (long) time trying to have a baby lamia, she finally birthed something, but she wasn’t sure which one of her mate-meals had made the offspring with her!
There had been a lot of mate-meals over the past while…
…of all shapes and sizes!
Nerissa was always careful to change into her not-lamia form before she mated with them, because she didn’t want them to get scared away! (Lamia’s were the scariest monsters, everybody knew that.)
She thought that maybe the hatchling’s father was the hairy-growler? They both had brownish fur and pointy teeth, even though her offspring didn’t have any claws.
And it didn’t have horns or a tail either.
Were those things that would come in later? It’s teeth and fur did, so maybe she just had to be a bit more patient.
Nerissa really wanted to know which mate-meal had made the offspring with her so that she could find another one that was kind of the same and try again (just in case this one didn’t get any better).
At least it seemed to be ferocious enough to be a lamia, and it had a real hearty appetite, too!
It could go through one toothy-lizard a day, easy, and Nerissa had to admit, it made her feel all warm and fuzzy to see the hatchling tackle and devour its own prey.
Even if she found another good mate-meal, and birthed a proper lamia, Nerissa decided she would not devour this extra offspring! It might be deformed, but it had spunk, and it made her pretty happy to watch it play, and attack things!
She was glad that she’d found this jungle place to live; the climate was really nice for lamias, and there was lots of water (even the air was kind of moist!), which was extra good for a water lamia like herself..
And there was lots of kinds meals to mate with too; Nerissa remembered her first jungle meal, and how it had tasted so different from anything she’d ever tried before.
At first she thought it was another lamia in not-lamia form…
…but then she got up close and realized that it didn’t know how to speak right, and she could feel the warmth coming off of its skin.
Also, it seemed really upset and worried, and when she gave it a test bite (just to make sure it wasn’t some kind of jungle-lamia), it squealed and fainted!
Thank goodness for the not-lamia that Nerissa had been there! Everybody knew that it was a lamia’s job to eat stuff that needed to be put out of their misery. Or if they were bad lovers, or if they were sick, or if they were too weak to defend themselves; all those things.
Nerissa took her lamia duties very seriously.
Suddenly, Nerissa had a Big Thought; what if the not-lamia was the mate-meal that had helped her make the hatchling? She’d assumed that the offspring just looked like her own not-lamia form, but what if it was taking after the actual not-lamia that she ate when she first came to the jungle?
It was impossible to be completely sure, but, maybe if she tried to find another one of the same species to mate with?
There had to be more of them around somewhere…
“Pili, did you kill a stranger?”
“I–don’t think so?”
“Sooo…she just, what, fell out of the sky?”
“Er, probably not?” Pili blinked, “but–maybe?”
“Weird,” Nafi sniffed the air, “what is that smell? It’s very–”
“Herbal,” he’d smelled that particular herb before, but not since walking the streets of a modern city…
The soft rumble of a snore interrupted their discussion.
“Is she alright? Who is she?” Asked Horus.
“Well, we’re not really sure,” Nafi admitted, “but I suppose we could try and wake her up to ask.”
Pili snorted, “good luck with that; too bad we don’t have any Cheetos to wave in front of her nose.”
“What?” They always got that look on their faces when he brought up modern stuff.
“Never mind; yelling might work,” it was worth a try, right?
“Whoooa, you guys!” Moaned a voice from the ground, “I just had the most intense dream, ever…”
The woman flopped over and sat up, staring off into the distance, looking all weirdly excited.
“I’d tell you about, but I think it’s a secret from the spirits or something,” her eyes fixed on Pili’s legs and she giggled, “hey buddy, do you wax? Niiice.”
“I like her, can we keep her?”
Speaking of mysterious odours, can you smell the climax coming? Take a deep whiff; reeks of (herbal) vampire farts.
The new kid on the block is Taveah Ra, submitted by Skcaga6; welcome to the party, Taveah! Whatever else happens from here on out, at least you got to compliment Pili on his satiny smooth legs 😈