(Sorry, missed one scheduled posting day!)
begin blog post #23]
So now what? Unless I make some terrible mistake in the arena, I am certain to outlive her. She will never survive a first encounter. How am I going to save her life?
And at that moment the true purpose of my chosen experience on this world returned to me. I did not incarnate on Malefactus to save her life. Or any other individual’s life. I came to uncover a particularly insidious deviation and discover the source of it. I came to introduce the “anti-virus” that would break its hold on the male population by spreading the Teaching among the women.
Tiegli, Deirdre, even the doctor; all those others I’ve met, known; those who help me and those I help are points of reference I create so I am reminded to distinguish between the various interplays of forces vying for the life of this world. So I don’t get lost and become just another woman fighting to stay alive against impossible odds. I must remember the difference between compassion and love… yes, and hate. I must remember exactly why I am here and beware the feelings I’ve allowed to dominate my mind lately.
Compassion certainly carries heavy responsibility and often seemingly impossible choices. I know the above to be true according to my lessons. I also know it is impossible for me to not attempt to save Deirdre, not only because I love her in every possible sense, but because I know I can make that process fit in with my stated purpose. Now I must find someone willing to help me but before I do that, I must have some kind of plan as to where she should go. One thing is certain, she must leave Hyrete, perhaps Elbre, but to where? Her branding will always bring her back unless she can completely disappear. The only process available to a female to disappear on Malefactus is death.
Can I talk to the doctor about this? Would I dare? I must find a way that will bring us together again. I know I failed to demonstrate the proper degree of subservience to him in our last encounter. I know he is dangerous but I sense he is intrigued by me and wants more information from me. The only way I know of to meet with him again is to be severely, possibly mortally, wounded in an arena fight. The most difficult part of such an obviously dumb plan is to prevent Deirdre from intervening.
My next fight is scheduled in two days. This may be the most serious encounter I’ve ever had. The opponent is a “drook” as the fighters call all mercenaries who fight for money. I’ve fought some before but this one has an unbroken record of kills in over thirty fights, most of them against female gladiators in public matches, some involving several female attackers at the same time. A mercenary, as the name implies, is paid by certain people to represent them in a fight. A match between the Desert Beast and such a one would certainly give rise to unusual gambling fever. This is going to be more than a spectacular fight – it’s going to be a high-end money maker. One of us, of course, will die, must die.
Before I enter the fight I explain to Deirdre that I must see the doctor afterwards and if I’m badly wounded to let the trainers take me to him. “Do not interfere or offer to help me. Pretend to be angry at me, or to be sick, whatever it takes, but you must not interfere, understand? I cannot tell you my reasons now so you must trust me.”
She displays an uncharacteristic flash of Malefactian female jealous anger, something I have never seen in her, controls it quickly and agrees. I know it’s the slave to master controlling force that brings her to agree, not a personally motivated choice. Nevertheless I have a commitment. Then she extends her hand to me and in it is a small orange cube the size of a sugar cube. I take the gel-like item and roll it in my fingers. I hold it to my nose – there is no smell from it.
“Take it and bite through it then swallow it slowly.” So matter of fact, so cold; I shudder at the change in her.
“What is it Deirdre?”
“A stim cube, a completely synthetic hyper-stim sex-slaves often share with their partners, especially in orgies. It will give you the energy the chakr normally gives without the side effects. You will need this.”
How did she get that? I won’t ask her, certainly not now. I sincerely and warmly thank her and bite through the substance. It tastes bland but as I swallow it in bits I can feel its effects almost immediately. I feel a degree of confidence rising in me. The world looks different, the day promising.
“Why don’t they give us this all the time, Deirdre?” I ask, trying to sound light-hearted.
“It is not made here, she replies sullenly, meaning what, I wonder. On Malefactus? Or in the kingdom of Tassard? She explains briefly, “It must be imported and costs a great deal of money. They trade a female slave for a small box of those,” she points to the piece still in my hand with her long beautiful fingers that carry so much soothing power. I want to reach out to her.
She has withdrawn within herself and looks at the ground as we part without kiss or hug. Her sense of helplessness is palpable and my sadness as great as any I’ve yet known. Not an auspicious way to enter a life and death struggle in the arena. I clear my mind and begin the focusing breath as we walk through the now too familiar tunnel with its dampness and muted lighting. One of the trainers fondles me as we walk. I have to stop to let him do his thing then accommodate the other as well. I put no energy at all in it and carry on as soon as they are done. At least this much is good: they had no other expectations either. They just wanted to be able to say they were the last to have the Desert Beast if I died in the arena, the chances of it being bandied at ten to one against me they gloat to my face, also telling me they put their money on the drook. Are they trying to cheer me up? These men, you gotta love ‘em. Some of them are lower than dungut.
This time the arena is full to capacity and the noise from the crowd is deafening. Sun and plasma tube lights contribute to the excitement in the atmosphere. The usual garish display of dress is almost oppressive. Flags of House Tassard are flying everywhere, flapping in a stiff breeze from some ocean I can sometimes smell but will never see. Trumpets and drums blare and boom some harsh military type “music” that assaults the ears.
All of that fanfare and ostentatious display just to watch two humans fight to the death.
High in the sky vultures circle. Always the vultures are there. So now I understand. This is what they do with our female bodies, or what remains of them, when they truck them off from the compounds. They toss them out into the open desert for the vultures to pick clean and the bones to crumble into the sand or be eroded by the sand-filled winds. That is why the vultures circle over us. Conditioning: a fight means they will eat at the end of the day. They have learned that we are part of their food chain.
The fight is done with the rapier-dagger combination. We wear only the short skirt armour and smooth light helmet held on with a chin strap. We engage without words and without mercy. Hours that seem like days go by. We are allowed a few breaks to drink and throw water on ourselves to wash some of the blood off, then return to our center place to continue. After several hours both of us are covered in clotted blood, dirt and sand but still no disabling cut has been received or given. We hear each other’s panting breath, like animals that have been pursued by a predator too long. We are tiring.
By now we know each-other’s every move. We are as evenly matched a pair as could be found. Only a mistake can give one or the other the advantage. We look for them, or attempt to create them. I want this to end because I can feel that my energy will run out before his does. I take a deadly gamble by pulling out my dagger and deliberately fumbling it. A look of triumph comes on his face as he thrusts at me, pulling his own dagger out for the killing throw. I take his sword thrust in my right side, absorbing the pain of a certain death blow while completing the full-force counter slash I had begun to execute, cutting off his dagger arm just below the shoulder and embedding my sword in his torso.
We both collapse in the bloody sand and before I pass out I see a couple of trainers run on the field to drag my body away and medics in their typical white tunics carrying a stretcher to pick up the fallen drook who will no longer fight even if he survives this day. For me it’s welcome blackness.
[end blog post #23]