96. Crew Love

Eye on the Prize

“We will be gone with the first light,” Anubis informed her, “I spoke with Garai and the men, everyone knows what is expected, and I believe Cassandros will behave well.”

Hatshepsut nodded.  “That is–good, thank you, cousin.”

He nodded, then stood silently, looking concerned.  “Is everything alright?  Is there something more?”

“I–yes, actually.”  The vampire’s face puckered in an unusual way, “if the Queen wishes it, I would offer, ah–myself, as a marginally safer alternative to Horus and a more trusted alternative to Cassandros, though we have only the one evening before I depart.”

“You–what?”  The young woman’s brain struggled to parse his words; did he mean to imply they should–?

“My apologies, Majesty, I am being inarticulate.” he seemed not to know where to look while he spoke.  “I am offering myself to you for this evening, as a sexual partner, in the event that you wish to try for offspring with me.”

“I–oh!”  A peculiar feeling clenched at her guts.

“I do not know if I am still capable of fathering children, but at the very least I can offer you a better initial performance than I did your sister.”

He finally looked up at her, and must have read something in her face, for he frowned.

“I am making you uncomfortable, My Queen, I apologise, I will go–”

“No!”

The word popped out of her mouth before she had the sense to stop it.

“No?”

“I did not realise you were an–option.”

An image formed in Hattie’s mind, the fleeting specter of a beautiful, immortal Amazon Queen…

“All of Athenas sons are an option to you, My Queen.”

The image flickered behind her eyes, powerful and terrible to all that beheld her.

Hattie’s pulse quickened.

Who would dare stand against their people with such a Queen to protect them?

“Take your hair down,” she commanded.

Anubis complied.

And she found herself admiring the effect.

“You are a very pretty man.”  Her heart pounded against her breastbone.

The vampire offered her a slight smile in return.  “I do not remember the last time anyone said such a thing to me.”

Yes, surely this is what the Goddess had intended all along, it was all suddenly so clear!  “Now your wrap, I wish to see you.”

And so the wrap came off, and there was…such a great deal more of him than she had imagined.

“The queen is speechless, I am flattered of course.”

Hatshepsut pressed her lips together, refusing to speak lest she say something to betray her mounting unease.  ‘You were chosen by Athena herself to lead a great people, you will not balk at such a small thing…’

Well, perhaps small wasn’t entirely accurate, but if Kebechet had managed him, so too could she!

Going Nowhere Fast

It wasn’t the worst position Valdur ever been in.  Sad, but there it was.  He had a roof over his head (most of it didn’t even leak!), food every day (lots of beans; it had been a rough first couple weeks), and no one visited violence upon his person (if you didn’t count Ulfr’s sneaky ass pinching).

Not that being a slave was high up on his list of dream jobs, per se, but at least it didn’t seem like anyone was in a great hurry to kill him?

Tadla, their leader, she mostly ignored him (unless she needed something cleaned, or cooked, or fetched), which was fine, because she was a bit of a yeller.

The woman spent most of her time pouring over (mostly blank) ledgers, and collecting mysterious sheaves of paper.  Sometimes she wrote (very secretive) letters, and grumbled about how ‘the whole operation would go tits up’ without her.

Mayua, of course, continued to be frightening; Valdur came to understand that this was actually her profession.

Unlike the rest of them, the huntress was seldom ‘home’, and more often than not she was gone by first light, not to return until dusk darkened the sky.

Where she went and what she did, the skald didn’t know, but on occasion she would bring back some sort of dead animal for them to consume, or a small purse of coins for Tadla to frown at (for having the nerve not to be heavier, of course).

They were…peculiar women, and lovers, after a fashion.  Valdur didn’t feel like there was really anything especially loving going on between them.

They liked to argue while they… ‘loved’.  Really it was just Tadla ranting and Mayua provoking her, but it appeared to work for them, whatever ‘it’ was.

Ulfr was cheerful, and friendly (and ass pinchy), and he spent most of his time drinking homemade ‘mead’ and butchering bawdy songs.

His other hobby appeared to be rutting, an activity which he engaged in frequently with his gloomy red headed co-worker, Thorin.  Really frequently.  And pretty much on any surface that struck their fancy.

Valdur grew in the habit of keeping a few spare buckets of water by the back entry.

Thorin wasn’t much of a talker, mostly he was a glowerer (though to his credit, he wasn’t an ass pincher).  Where he came from and why he ended up with the mercenaries was a mystery, for he never spoke of it…or anything else, really.

But he appeared to have genuine affection for Ulfr, and on occasion he would dig out a lyre and sing sad love songs.

You would think, if you saw them all lined up, that Ulfr and Thorin were ‘the muscle’ of the outfit, being both large and muscular, but of course that would be your fatal error.

Mayua was, inexplicably, given her slender frame, in that category with the large, blond ass-pincher, while Thorin most often busied himself as Tadla’s errand boy.

There had been a fifth member of the troupe, but Valdur understood that she’d been taken hostage while on some sort of undercover operation.

Usually Tadla liked to rail on about how they were going to recover the lost group member, but of course, lately it was all about the slave that the huntress had let die.

Valdur was of the opinion that sending out someone like Mayua to escort a young woman to safety, was a little like trusting a lamb in the care of a wolf…but what did he know.

“Didn’t I make it clear that I wanted the girl alive, May?”  The mercenary captain moaned (and not in the ‘I’m nakedly enjoying myself’ kind of way).

Valdur added the complaint to his tally; nine times now she’d brought it up over the past three days, since her subordinates had returned empty handed.

“Indeed, my kind employer was very clear!”  She might be evil incarnate, but somehow Mayua had the patience of a saint when it came to having a dressing down over and over again (once more, not the fun naked kind).

“Then why the hell am I sitting here, empty handed, while she’s lying dead on the jungle floor somewhere?!”

Valdur retorted (internally of course, as he didn’t have a death wish) that, technically, her hands were not empty.

“Yes, it is indeed a great mystery; a shame no one can solve this great mystery, you are thinking, I am sure!”

Maybe poking the bear was how Mayua coped?

“Why do I even keep you around?”  Growled the mercenary leader.

The question was a bit lacking in credibility, considering she currently had a couple handfuls of ass.

“Ah!  This is decidedly not a great mystery,” replied the huntress, “for who else would be so usefully violent on my kind employer’s behalf?”

Also that, Valdur supposed.

Tadla glared at her minion’s breasts as though they had caused her some offence.  “The way I see it, I’m owed.” 

It’s Criminal

Artemis couldn’t sleep.  It really wasn’t a huge shocker, she supposed, given the wringer she’d been put through recently, but it was definitely a pain in the ass.

At least she had some semblance of a bed to sleep in on her last night at The Rise, that was nice, even though Akila was kicker.  Nafi, it turned out, was pretty much the polar opposite of her brother.  Not only had she given Artie clothes and supplies, but she insisted on going to crash with Raet for the night.  Nice lady.

“So here I am, being beaten by a sleeping pre-teen while the tour guide bangs my murdery half-sister upstairs.”

Sound really traveled well with all these open rooms…how the hell was anyone else getting any sleep with those two going at it like angry seals?

“Screw it.”

Artemis abandoned her tiny, abusive sibling and stalked down the stairs.

Maybe Mosi was skulking around somewhere.

The sounds of porking assholes was, blessedly, somewhat muted on the ground level, making way for the soft backdrop of the jungle night crew, and–crying?

Artie followed the soft sniffly weepy noises…

…until she came upon a ramshackle little pen with a single occupant.

“You must be the prisoner, eh?”  The woman nodded.  “What’d you do anyway?”

“I, like, stole some stuff,” sniffle, “and, like, spied I guess.”

“Hate it when that happens, you’re just minding your business, and bam!  Tripped and accidentally spied!”

“Dude, what?”

“Nevermind, bad joke, don’t mind me, insomnia.”

Sniffle.  “Your chakras probably need realignment.”

“Yeah, for real, mind if I join you?”

“Naw, it’s cool…you look super familiar, were you in my last yoga sesh?”  She schooched her stool around to get a better look at the visitor.

“Sorry, no, but I’m related to pretty much all these asswipes, so that’s probably it.” The young woman nodded, mumbling something through another sniffle, and Artemis found herself relieved that this ‘prisoner’ didn’t really seem like the murder-you-in-your-sleep sort of person.

“Sorry, I’m kinda bummed out right now, usually I’m not this much of a downer.”

“No worries, you are being hauled off to a temple somewhere, without any say in the matter; I’d be bent out of shape too.”

“Aw, yeah, there’s that, I guess,” sniffle, “but like, also?  That dude Pili is dead, man!”  Sniffle.  “He had really good energy, I’m gonna miss him.”

“Yeah, me too, he was my dad.”

“Woa!  Heavy, man!”  The prisoner scooted over towards her visitor.  “Bring it in, dude, let’s hug this out.”

The Lost Soul

It was colder out in the world than Neala remembered. Too much time spent under a solid roof with a fire nearby had made her forget. It was a good thing she’d taken the time to bring woolen stockings, even though they itched her legs. But she was a sensible girl, right?  That’s what Sister Mary Margaret always said.

“Sensible child, aren’t you, Obedience? Stubborn as an ox, but the Lord loves a practical soul.”

It had taken them a while to settle on a name for her. Obedience, Humility, Honesty, Grace, Gentility; apparently Neala had had a lot of virtues to aspire to…not that it mattered anymore.

The girl thought about the runny bowls of oats that she’d hated so much, and her stomach let out a pitiful rumble.

Well, I think we ought to go right!”

“Don’t be absurd, clearly we should go left.”

Neala sighed. “Don’t start, you guys, I’m too damn hungry to listen to the bickering right now…”


Footnotes:

Welcome Neala the Celt and Rhiannon, both donated by IrishSong, and also welcome to Munterbacon’s second donated sim, Plague Smith; I’m really pleased to finally have these kiddos on the playing field!

I hope everyone enjoys them XD

< CHAPTER 95 || CHAPTER 97 >

 

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