So yes, I’ve become a manipulator. But in my heart I know I’m motivated by compassion, there being no hope here of personal gain. It is not easy to give Tiki up. She has been my companion for some years now and I have motherly feelings for her. I’m sending her into a new life, a dangerous unknown. It seems a truism that whenever you want to help others improve their lives you will suffer loss and pain. This has been true for me in hundreds of remembered incarnations. If I wanted to break that pattern I should certainly have avoided this little trip through the crushing labyrinthine pressures within the confines of Malefactus… and specifically within the stone walls of Hyrete.
End blog post #91
Begin blog post #92
Chapter 37 – Tiki’s First Arena Contest – Love Speaks
There was no scene when Tiki found out I’d let her go to be with the Concubine. If anything it was a relief for her because she was under the impression I was angry at her. She understood intuitively that my decision was for her benefit, not because I was angry. She had grown up and needed a real partner and lover now, not a mother, which mostly I had been to her. She had enough of the Teaching also to develop her own mindset regarding what is right and what is wrong. There was time for that. With the Concubine she would be able to hone her professional fighting sense. She would be better matched with a peer and teach even as she learned more. This venture should even them out a bit, taking the more dangerous edge from both of them.
She smiles more now and treats me as more of an equal. This is good, although I worry about her still. Especially today: it’s her first match and she’s already been taken from the cages to eat the traditional chakr-laden food of the fighter, alone. Her opponent challenger I’m not too concerned about. He is no professional fighter and to prove it, chose the obvious: the two-handed sword, thinking as is their wont that it would give him the advantage as a physically stronger male. When he came to observe Tiki fight with the various weapons I made sure that she was doing it with me and demonstrated a very poor understanding of the long sword. I made her look even worse by forcing it out of her hands and sending it flying, then tripping her with my sword pointed directly at her heart. Even Tiki was fooled by the move and thought I was getting my revenge for that week-ago fighter trance idiocy. I did not explain. Just withdrew the sword and let her stand to retrieve her lost weapon, her face deeply flushed.
It was enough to convince the male challenger he had found her weakness and jump at the chance to choose the sword. Well, it would be his last mistake, no doubt of that.
Two other fighters were prepared for the arena when we were let out of our cages to relieve ourselves, wash and eat, ready for the routine of training. An hour or so later Tiki returned escorted by two handlers. She was neither smiling nor scowling, just her usual plainly serious self. I saw not one scratch on her as she drank, ate a light ‘lunch’ alone that all returning fighters not badly wounded earn. After which she joined the training line-up, finding her partner. Then she smiled – no, she beamed! They certainly have something going those two and it’s good for as long as it lasts.
Near the end of our session I begin to inspect the cleaning and storing of the ‘weapons’ – I’ve instituted the unbreakable rule that all weapons, however poor, old or worn-out, be treated as if they were the best ever made and fresh from the forge. I inspect them for dirt, blood, sweat. Blades must shine with oil. Handles must be clean. If they show signs of handle wrapping unravelling they must be re-wound, tightened and knotted. Only if tools are required for the repairs do I put them aside for kitchen staff to sew or forge to repair.
While I’m doing this two young men approach me and make as if they want sex with me. Surprised surely, but having no choice I follow them to an empty hut. Once inside, one of the men, a trainer, puts his hand out and takes mine very gently.
“I be Tieka man Hudu…” he begins with understandable hesitation. The handler takes my other hand and says,
“I too be loving woman fighter and I friend of Hudu. I be Huntu. We be needing to escape from Hyrete soon. Tieka no fight. Say love stop her hurting man. I afraid for Hudu and girl woman. Need to help, maybe I too escape, take woman. Go south, deep desert there, hide in storms from great eye.”
I shudder when he mentions the ‘great eye’ and ask, “What is great eye?” He points into the sky,
“Albaral. It sees. It knows when things not right. If people run, reports to Council. When your lover escape, news come from Albaral. No alarms given, yes, but they know. They see something strange in desert, like fire shooting into sky – maybe sky boat. We told by leader; cannot chase sky boat. Need terrible storm to block great eye. Not just cloud, need Desert Beast Fire in sky.”
I gather he means the kind of lightning generated by great sand storms. Ah well, didn’t I know that about Albaral! It is an observation post, an active satellite – but who really controls it? No matter now. I have to digest this new information and see how many more astral rabbits I can pull out of my hat and have hidden up my non-existent sleeves.
“You right to tell me. But what I do? I slave woman, old, tired. Die soon maybe. How I help?”
“Not know, we do. But know you very wise. Have many tricks. Have friends. You they say daughter of Great Desert Beast. You they say is Teacher. You they say will know. We just ask. We trust you as man.”
Well, that is quite an admission and confession. The words, ‘We trust you as man’ coming from a man to a woman slave may not have been uttered on this world for hundreds of years. Am I making an impression here? No time to explore this further as I must return to the line-ups or we become suspicious. I wave my hand, “I think. Speak to trusting women. Pray to goddess. Find way, always we find way, friends of goddess. What be Huntu woman name?”
Huntu replies, “I not know name. She say secret woman name, for goddess only. She be 1336-14-09.”
“Listen Huntu. I call her ‘Zel’ so she has name to call, yes?”
“Zel is name, yes. Thank you sir.”
Before we emerge I insist they make fun of me as if they’d had a good old time with the crone. I look angry to convince handlers that I did not enjoy myself. They are pleased at the cruelty and indicate so with lewd finger gestures at the two young men who must pretend they enjoyed themselves too. While I eat I ponder my role in this new drama and certain crisis. I can’t always go running to the doctor and Cydroids with every problem. How do we, women, tackle this with any possibility of success if I do not involve my friends? But what right do I have to compromise their work here? None. That I will not do. If we are to ever succeed we must find it within ourselves. If others choose to become involved later, that will be their choice. Maybe I’m being stubborn; maybe, who knows, I’m becoming senile. But I see much farther than I did when I came here. Not so far that these people cannot share my vision, just farther than they yet realize they can see.
Well first I must identify the slave 1336-14-09 I call ‘Zel.’ She is three years older than Tiki (1339-32-19) so around eighteen to twenty. A fighter in her prime. Tieka is a thirteen year old kitchen gorok, just arrived this year in Hyrete. Her brand would read, line one #1328-04 – born 1328, class 4 – bred fighter; line two 1341-15-07 for admission year, batch, number in batch.
I better explain this strange record keeping of female slaves. It’s quite simple actually. The important brand dates refer to admission to Hyrete keep and batch numbers. That is how females are auctioned off, not by birth date. This could seem confusing to some. Batch numbers are important to buyers as they are used to trace the crèche where the slave was raised and the kind of ‘product’ it is reputed to contain. Every ‘batch’ comes from a particular crèche in Elbre and sometimes even beyond. They are all official birth places.
“Wild” slaves such as myself, rarely found, even rarer they manage to survive the rapes and tortures suffered in the orgies, are branded by admission year plus a #-1, meaning number of ‘wilds’ and non-crèche raised. These brands are usually found only on the black women captured beyond the desert. For whatever reason, although they are physically taller, stronger and superior in weapons handling, the men of Malefactus have not seen fit to breed them. Or perhaps they have and the breeding program failed. They are moody and very dangerous. They seem to be missing an essential element of the ‘normal’ ISSA mental make-up due to breeding or evolutionary branching.
End blog post #92