Chapter 18. Putsch in the land of S’ladan.

Our beloved Sakelt had two wives, he promised eternal love to one and freedom to the other. The first wife was the Matriarch of the house and the second one the slave Grevinna. But for now we will focus on how this small S’ladan came to write “The basis of equality”, a work that became the political ideology of S’ladan and dissidents K’tmenü during the seasons following his imprisonment; the same work what, as soon as the author died, become him a pervasive myth even to his most stubborn enemies. To understand why a humble S’ladan became the icon of freedom in Maa-Alune, Gelann and Läkande we must explain the origin of his noble ideas and that’s what we’ll do now.
Sakelt’s mother was a young widow who worked as a prostitute in order to raise her son. That boy hadn’t known his father, who apparently died blind drunk of honey mead in the brothels in the port accompanied by a slut with which he spent all the family money. Sakelt’s childhood was spent in a cave next to the harbor, a home where many men came and went to find comfort and companionship of his mother, so he got to know people of all races: S’ladan, Firstten, K’tmenü and even lesbians Neitsi who demanded the services of his mother.
While Sakelt was growing up and reached his adolescence, the spectacular beauty of his mother was withering, the before frequent men’s visits to her bedroom were dwindling. That’s when a very handsome Firstten called Bamp requested marriage to his favorite prostitute for ten seasons. Bamp took mother and child to the Shadowlands Islands, some islands that enjoyed the shelter of the heavenly band and therefore did not suffer the hellish summer, where Sakelt learnt the Firstten tongue and the basis of democracy and freedom that had made that society become a model of thriving community.
Upon reaching adulthood, the small S’ladan was an educated young man who wanted to his race the same thing he saw in those islands where there was no need to hide underground heat or cold, he knew he couldn’t change the weather of Maa-Alune but the way people think if he found friends to help him. And the moment of the farewell came to begin the long road to change.
“Maybe you’re not happy on this island, my son?”
“I’m very happy, of course mother. The only thing that saddens me is to know that the people of our race lives oppressed by a life form that could be different just changing their way of thinking.”
“Do you know that the Virgin Mother can make you kill?”
“It’s a risk I have very clear that I must take, but what I will offer is good for both S’ladan and Neitsi. Even the terrible K’tmenü would benefit from the freedom and peace, the example can be seen in people who welcome us.”
“These people are not perfect either.” His mother replied. “These are people with many flaws, even more than us.”
“For this reason, if we accept imperfections of our own and other, our differences will make us equal.” In later horbitts Sakelt left written in one of his texts the quote ‘difference is the way to equality, equality is the ability the ability to tolerate difference and assume it as own’.
“When you start talking this way I get lost. It’s surprising such erudition in a young man of your age, your wisdom far exceeds that of the oldest on the island.”
“I love you mother, be happy with Bamp, he’s a good man who loves you. Now I have to live my life and do the great things I’ve always wanted.”
“But you’re so young.”
“You were of my age when you gave me birth.”
“A woman is different.”
“A woman is a person and all people are equal. I sincerely believe that we all have a purpose in life and I had the fortune to discover at a very young age.”
“I understand it is a goodbye.”
“Yes Mother, perhaps forever.”
Mother and son embraced very strong for the last time, then Sakelt took his bulky bundle and went to apply for a job as cabin boy on a merchant ship that made the clandestine route to Maa-Alune, officially Firstten and S’ladan were at war. Despite the deserved reputation of the Ocean of Madness, the weather was pretty good and the journey was very nice. Sakelt knew places that otherwise would not have heard of: the most surprising was the peninsula of Gelann, a K’tmenü enclave which lived in war against their brothers from Läkande for some hundreds of stations, where the difference between men and women was almost imperceptible not only physically but in the way of thinking and doing things. The inhabitants of Gelann were people who would rather die than give up their freedom; Sakelt decided to live for a time with these people and learn a little more, because the behavior of these hermaphrodites was radically different from those he had known in Maa-Alune.
He volunteered as teacher of K’tmenü children and this was how he came into contact a new race, in such a way that he met am important person to gain new experiences.
“What’s your name, young S’ladan?” The principal of the school asked.
“Sakelt…sirmmm…”
“You’ve got some doubts about my gender, right? Don’t worry, were don’t feel annoyed when people confuse our sex, we use to call by the name that is what defines us as a person. My name is Borur and I prefer not to disclose my gender, it is a very personal thing. In our land it is common that genre only be known by our couples.”
“Forgive my confusion Borur, all of this is new to me, one thing is seeing hermaphrodites far and another very different to live with them.”
“You can tell you’re a young man who has come to open his mind. You’ve come to the best place to learn to accept people as they are and not as you think they should be.”
“I want to learn from everybody to be able to teach my people to be tolerant.” In later seasons Sakelt coined the slogan ‘Freedom begins by Tolerance’, cornerstone of his teachings and the book he wrote later.
Sakelt lived six happy seasons in the Gelann peninsula, five of them in the company of Borur from whom never revealed the gender in written or oral form, in response to a question on this topic always said “It’s a wonderful person and its personality is not defined by what she/he has got between the legs “. To speak of Borur always tried to employ neutral articles to not reveal what only he knew of its most intimate part.
Despite the forced belligerence of the situation, the children of Gelann were sweet and good students. The terrible myth about aggressive and bloodthirsty K’tmenü was revealed as an interested lie; on the contrary Sakelt realized that those androgynous creatures were spiritual beings who shared their belongings and feelings in an act of collective solidarity. From those days Sakelt coined the definition of gelannist, which have been quickly adopted by the young idealists in Gelann who stopped to define themselves as K’tmenü of Gelann, from now on they would be Gelannists Lovers of Freedom. But the goal which Sakelt has marked himself was to change the lives of all the people he knew and therefore, in spite of loving so much these people and Borur, he had to go to Maa-Alune. And he did it secretly; he only was accompanied by Borur to go to the jahta that would lead him to his destiny.
“Why you don’t want to come with me? Maa-Alune can be a cozy home for both; we could get married and have children.”
“I’m sorry my love, they’ve been unforgettable seasons but in the same way you have an objective in life, I have the kids of school and I cannot abandon them.”
“So maybe it’s a goodbye forever.”
“It’s the most likely, but we knew that our relationship hasn’t got any future, because if it had then the S’ladan country would lose the opportunity that you have to provide them. We already decided not to have children to not keep you here longer than necessary.”
“Then, I just can give you this.” Sakelt put a manuscript in the hands.
“But if that’s what you were writing. Will not you need in Maa-Alune?”
“I made two copies; I beg you make good use of what I give you. Read it carefully, and when you understand it, make copies and distribute them. I have noticed that for K’tmenü who flee from Läkande is difficult to understand life in Gelann, this will help them.”
“I’ll never forget you, Sakelt.”
“Me neither, Borur…” Sakelt left that wonderful land, a peninsula where lived people capable to understand that another world could be possible.
Arriving at Maa-Alune, Sakelt easily adapted to the double life he was forced to live. In a few journeys he already had enlisted in the militia S’ladan as professor to teach illiterate soldiers, but soon became a consultant to the S’ladan Council and when he was only fifty seasons he already was one of the most prominent members of the Maa-Alune’s society. The peak of his ascension arrived when the Virgin Mothers proposed him as a life member of the Council with the right to choose wife and Grevinna, what meant that allowed him to take a patriarchy. He wanted as wife a young collector who fell from the giant tree and is lame and ever since, her name was Souyon, she was not very beautiful but she was a very good administrator and would be a fantastic matriarch for the house…
Regarding the young Janda, maybe too young for the eyes of the dashing activist of people’s rights, he had some qualms about having sex with a girl of only twenty-five seasons old until she demanded her prerogative of wife; the extreme physical conditioning of Neitsi that made her need to have sex frequently could more than the scruples that Sakelt may have because the youth of his Grevinna. Still, Sakelt made promise Janda that they just would engender three children to outwit the deadly disease that killed Neitsi at fourth delivery. The beautiful Neitsi finally was the truly wife of Sakelt, who received the caresses, who heard the whisper of “I love you” on her ears; despite this preferential treatment, Souyon was comprehensive, surely by selfishness because Janda enriched the pleasures of the married couple for her innate knowledge of carnal love and the lust of senses.
A letter sent by Sakelt to Suprug.
‘Dear Suprug, you who have been more brother than disciple you’ll understand why I decide to take my life. After seasons in this cell, an angelic Neitsi gave me what I needed to leave this world and to meet my beautiful Janda; that’s why I write these letters for which I hope you pay a jura to the man who will bring you it.
First of all I want to apologize for leaving you at the head of the organization, but if I didn’t know that I leave it in good hands I wouldn’t go with such joy. And now, I’ll explain you the details of my life that maybe you know or maybe not; as you can see, these words are written in Firstten to hinder potential espionages from agents K’tmenü or the Virgin Mothers. As you know, I married two women, both very good in their own way: I loved one till the end, and the other… What can I say? I think there has been good affection between us, need not to tell you anything else to clarify who’s who. I don’t blame Souyon for selling Janda to Kopile, because I believe that her greed is a disease and her eagerness to get money is with the purpose I didn’t miss anything behind these bars.
Was time to move forward with our project, therefore you must gather all the gelannists from one side and another to be able to start changing things in our beloved land. As far as I know there are two sons of the King who are allied to our cause, it’s the support we need to start our revolution, peaceful if possible because you know better than me that Maa-Alune is a land of humble peasants who are not ready to deal with the terrible army K’tmenü. As far as you’re concerned, my friend, you should travel to Gelann to convince the people to go get weapons to the Pelerines Islands and ask request support from the Firstten. In Gelann look for Borur, it’s a person who will help you.
I wish you success; we’ll meet in the gardens of the Kirkia Balts, your friend Sakelt.’
The last days of G’vrou.
The wonderful G’vrou was the reproductive who hid the newborn daughter of the kind Janda in her gallery and ever since had secretly looked after her. She was pregnant with her fourth child and therefore already expected death within a few days. She was the Grevinna of a widower warrior close friend of Sakelt, who was triply sad for the death of his comrade, his S’ladan legal wife and the valuable pearl Neitsi that was about to leave him alone. G’vrou already felt that the disease was taking possession of her body and feared for the life of the little mongrel, who wouldn’t be welcomed by many S’ladan.
“Suprug, my love, I want you promise me one thing.” G’vrou told her husband in the bed they shared.
“Whatever you want my love, you know that I haven’t took again a wife of my race because I will spend all the love that I have with you in the remaining days we’ll be together.”
“You’ll have to break an oath that can cost you your life.”
“I knew that you’d ask me; don’t be concerned about the apple of your eye, my eldest daughter will look after her. Väike will be collector of the Suprug’s house and my successors, one of us. The line of hair that grows on her nose makes her look more S’ladan than Neitsi.”
“But her face is Neitsi, she won’t go unnoticed.”
“I’ll take care about it when the moment comes, I’m just concerned about you right now, it hurts me that you won’t be able to see the new era that is about to be born in Maa-Alune.”
“It hurts me to not be by your side to look after you, you should find a new wife to take care of your home and share your bed.”
“When you aren’t here, I’ll cede the rights of the family to my heir and the house will change its name by the Eritye’s one. I have an obligation to Sakelt and all the souls of Maa-Alune. I’m going to look for W’ris; she will be the new matriarch.”
“Tell her to come to see me because I want to talk to her.”
“As soon as I see her I’ll tell her.” Suprug replied.
“Thank you, my love.”
Suprug went to the giant tree for W’ris, the young heir of the house of Suprug. W’ris was one of the best pickers working in the giant tree, which fed the S’ladan and Neitsi for thousands of stations. That magnificent giant plant was a hybrid of many extraordinary trees, the result of a mutation that was a forest himself capable to resist the extreme heat of the hellish summer and the brutal deadly winter frosts. Because it was a mixture of many plant’s species it gave different kind of fruit and when a part of that tree died a new branch was growing up. Certain outbreaks of it roots were also edible and were appreciated by Neitsi for their great nutritional value. The work of collecting was terribly difficult and dangerous; girls had to climb so high that a fall represented certain death or unrecoverable injuries. Young women S’ladan were trained since they were very small in the art of climbing through the through the rough branches with the help of gloves equipped with small hooks for easy climbing, they were so tiny and agile girls that they were able to climb to treetop and load lots of fruit before getting off. The collectors were accustomed to build nests where they slept at night in groups of three to share their warmth and defend against potential threats; they relieved themselves in baskets and then they discharged them on those parts where the tree needed fertilizer. The girls helped each other to wash themselves with water of the carafes they had next their nests which they collected from the morning dew. They used to work in teams of girls of the same family, for example the team that contributed their work to Suprug was composed by his three oldest daughters and two nieces that were orphaned of his brother. A maiden collector normally spent twenty or twenty days without leaving the tree at all and their rest period, which used to coincide with her menstrual cycle, accustomed to help the virgin Neitsi keep their quarters clean. That day Suprug would release her beautiful W’ris of that hard work, because she would become the matriarch of the house.
The rain was persistent and intense, but under the tree was not perceived anything else but the noise of water colliding on its leaves. Suprug entered into one of the stores and went to the counter where one of the oldest pickers assigned the quotes to the girls who climbed the tree.
“Hello Souyon. Sorry I did not come to offer my condolences before, but I’ve had a lot of work.”
“At the end you abandoned to his fate; even you, Suprug, you’re a bad friend.”
“That’s not true; we have followed his teachings and work for a better society. Our mission is that his death was not in vain.”
“Anyway Suprug, let it be. What brings you to this humble store apart from getting me painful memories?”
“I need that my daughter W’ris gets down, I do not want she works on the tree anymore.”
“Are you aware that the fruit that W’ris collects represents one third of the share of your home? It’s represents to lose much money.”
“We can live without this part; my heiress has to take care of the house.”
“A virgin matriarch? Have you gone crazy? If you make her matriarch it will cost much to marry her, few men will accept to be commanded by a young woman of twenty-nine seasons despite her beauty. Make her to marry and then cede her house.”
“No, the Patriarch of the house will be Erytie, that’s why he’s my heir. But my beloved G’vrou is dying and I only trust a woman of my blood to assume the responsibility of caring for the baby to come and of her siblings.”
“You’re obsessed with that Grevinna Neitsi, but if that’s what you want this girl is about to climb the tree will go to warn W’ris.” Souyon replied. “Jaglova, go get W’ris and tell her to come down because her father is asking for.”
“It’ll cost me a while to find her, Souyon; W’ris is at fifty or sixty gams high.” Jaglova answered, a girl smaller in stature than the rest of their fellow collectors. She put on the basket on her back and the safety mask to avoid injury her face, and went out to find one of the ropes to climb the tree. From the window Suprug saw how that small girl disappeared quickly among the branches.
“This collector she’s so small that looks like a child.” Suprug commented.
“She’s the most agile of my girls, and the fastest by far, it’s a pity that she doesn’t have enough strength to carry too much weight.” Souyon answered. “Why don’t you marry your daughter to my second son? He’s younger than your daughter, but I’m sure he’ll make her happy.
“Do you talk about a boy who still does not work? No thank you, W’ris is pretty enough to attract a good hardworking man, not a child.”
“My soon will go to the warrior’s school the next season, he has great potential to be noble and will be very good deal for any girl.”
“W’ris will choose her man when she wants, the house will cover the costs of the wedding if when the time comes it’s necessary to pay a husband.”
“If you say so, but you will not marry her if you put make her to raise your children, her young belly could give birth many children that would make your name great. We might even get married you and me, I could still give you a child or two, and I’m not that old.”
“I promised G’vrou that I wouldn’t love another woman.”
“Promises to a dying slave aren’t important; I could give you the same pleasure as her if you allowed me.”
“Please Souyon, do not continue this way.”
Suprug was silent for a while, was tired of the insinuations of Souyon, it was clear he could not reveal the real reason to set aside W’ris from the collection and he found misplaced the proposal of that greedy woman who sold the kind Janda to an animal who ended up killing her. After a while W’ris entered, she had already removed the protective mask on the way and she already was going off-hook the basket from her back.
“Souyon, write down six juras of nectarines to the Suprug’s quota.”
“Show me the goods; you are always trying to fool me. I haven’t seen yet any collector getting off ripe nectarines this season.”
“These are, I’ve climbed until the ninety gams, and the sun has matured them before the rest.”
“The sun? It hasn’t stopped raining for three journeys and besides these ones have bites of birds, I’ll deduct you half a jura.”
“Souyon, you’re a thief.”
“I’m the thief who pays more; it’s why I have the Suprug account.”
“W’ris, do not fight for half jura, babe, I have come for you to release you from collection.”
“And what about the quota? Girls are too young to cope with the pace that involves having one less collector.”
“We will survive with fewer quotas; you knew that this moment would eventually arrive. In a very few days G’vrou will give birth to your brother, you know what that means.”
“I’m very sorry, Father, I know you love to G’vrou a lot.”
“Let’s get out of here; the walls of this storehouse have ears.” Suprug said while W’ris realized that Souyon was trying to hear what they were saying. “Goodbye, W’ris will come soon to collect the quota for the family…”
“Remember my offer; it isn’t good to keep a woman virgin these days.”
They left the store, while they walked away from the tree; W’ris was releasing herself from the uncomfortable protections of arms and legs, wearing only the chest protector and the small pants of leather which also covered her belly.
“What did Souyon mean saying about keeping a woman virgin? Will I stay single?”
“She didn’t like the idea of making you matriarch of the house and did not want to marry you to one of her sons.”
“Matriarch me? Oh, Father, I don’t know if I will be able to!”
“You’ll have to teach, once dead G’vrou I won’t remain here longer than necessary in Maa-Alune. I’ll go to start the path of freedom for our people.”
“What do you mean? What will happen to Väike and the coming baby? My breasts do not give milk; I’m not a Neitsi, who will feed them?”
“When that happens, you will pay a nurse, there is enough money in the hideout you know.”
“Who will protect me? Do you think to leave home without any man?”
“I’ll make Erytie come back, he will be the Patriarch. We have enough laborers to cultivate the wheat field, the crop will not suffer.”
“It shall be as you command, Father, but I didn’t think of Erytie.”
“When you’re accommodated in your task of Matriarch you’ll pay a husband so no man will accept your authority, you’ll honor the house having as many children as you can afford. I know that Erytie is not exactly your favorite brother, but he is the firstborn.”
“But with so many expenses we cannot buy a Neitsi for Erytie, as it’s his right of Patriarch.”
“Do not suffer for that, the world is about to change, one of the points of the legacy of Sakelt is the end of slavery. Nobody will belong to anyone, Neitsi will be free to choose who they want as the same way than women S’ladan, marriage will cease to be a transaction and will be the fruit of love.”
“Have you become crazy? If you are heard pronouncing this name you’ll be in a mess.”
“New winds blow in our land. The moment when all races, including the newcomers from the sky, live like brothers, has arrived.”
“Newcomers from sky?”
“I’ll explain you later, now go home, I should meet with a person. By the way, when you get home G’vrou wants to talk to you.”
“I’ll do it, Father.”
Suprug and Toinen
Suprug went down three levels and entered a gallery that led directly to the One-eyed Tavern, where all friends of Sakelt’s ideals found shelter. He opened the tavern’s door and could see a lot of people sitting on the benches getting drunk of mead, the owner of those premises made a sign with his one eye that Suprug understood immediately. He had to cross the tavern and enter the back room, where the torchlight only hinted the figure of a tall woman or maybe an androgynous warrior.
“You made me call and I’m here.” Suprug started talking. “What does a warrior K’tmenü want of a simple peasant as me?”
“A peasant who speaks of freedom and brotherhood is not so simple.” A female voice answered.
“With whom I had the honor of sharing this stench of mead?”
“My name Toinen, inheriting prince of Läkande’s Crown.”
“Then you’ve come to kill me.”
“You’re wrong, noble S’ladan; I want to be your brother. I’ve been reading for seasons everything what Sakelt wrote with much passion, please believe me when I say that my cohorts are at your service.”
“I want to see your face; the light of this torch leaves you in the dark.”
A warrior of female aspect placed himself under the torch and sat on a stool not to intimidate Suprug with his difference in height.
“Forgive my distrust, Toinen, but I’m surprised that a member of royalty wants to enlist in our peaceful revolution.”
“I’ve seen too many wars, I want to relax and have children with my wife. My older brother has fled to Gelann to support the rebellion and my time to end the charade of good son and define myself as gelannist has come.”
The girl who you make me hide, should stay longer?”
“I beg you to protect her, she’s the most valuable of my life, and she has my child in her womb.”
“What if the King comes to get her?”
“My father won’t come looking for an S’ladan collector.”
“It will be like one of my daughters, my W’ris will make appear an S’ladan and she’ll teach her to behave like one of our girls.”
“I want you gather the S’ladan Council so I wish to cede the Kronkol medallion to who truly deserve it. I mustn’t be your leader longer than necessary.”
“Who deserves it?”
“Tomorrow I will clarify it all, now it’s time to separate…”
Pulxer, hosted by Suprug house.
W’ris came home and remembering the words of her father went directly to see G’vrou, in fact had already decided to bring her a thing hidden in her clothing. Opening the door where her stepmother Neitsi was, she noted that she was sleeping in her bed that was next to the small Väike’s cot. She kissed the little one gently, in the same room, in a bed that touched the other wall, there were her two younger siblings also sleeping. W’ris had a total of six siblings, her mother had just given birth girls, those who were in the tree and the small Domacini; G’vrou had the two boys who were working in the field and a little one which were sleeping with Domacini. Although Väike was not family, W’ris wanted that girl as if she were her sister, she was very thrilled when knew the unfortunate story of the small mongrel Neitsi/S’ladan hosted by G’vrou and her father as their own daughter.
W’ris took off her chest; you could see a deep scar in the space between her breasts. She took two nectarines from inside that leather protector, cut one n two pieces and made run one half through G’vrou’s lips that started to lick the fruit without opening her eyes.
“Hmm, what’s this? A nectarine, how sweet it is.” It was a custom of W’ris to bring the piece of fruit of the best appearance to her sweet second mother, to which she loved as her particular goddess.”
“They are the first of the season; I picked them up from the top of the tree. I’ve brought one for you and another for the children.”
“Thank you. You should cover your breasts, we have a guest and it’s not appropriate that we saunter naked through home.” W’ris put on a blouse to cover herself as obeying her stepmother.
G’vrou hardly opened the door of the next room, which was where W’ris slept when rested from her work in the tree. A young woman of Neitsi appearance was sleeping on her bed. G’vrou gently stroked the hair of this beautiful girl who opened her eyes slowly, showing a fatigue that went beyond what could be considered physical.
“Hello Pulxer.” G’vrou said. “I want you to meet W’ris, she’ll turn you into an S’ladan in order to you get unnoticed until the danger has passed.”
“Pulxer, Queen of K’tmenü?” W’ris asked with surprise. “It’s an honor Majesty.”
“I won’t be queen anymore, W’ris, things are about to change, we’ll be equal before the law. Now I’m a traitor to the kingdom of Läkande, as wife and queen.” When she got up a spot of blood could be seen on her nightgown.
“And this wound”
“The fagot troubadours of Virgin Mothers did me that.”
“Do not suffer, Pulxer.” W’ris intervened stroking the young Neitsi’s face. “I’ll look after and protect you.”
“I do not deserve your hospitality; I have not been a good person and even less with S’ladan.”
“From now on you’ll be one of us, you’ll be my sister, and I’ll take care of you as if you were my blood.” Seeing a white spot on the Pulxer’s nightie, W’ris touched her breast and found out that the nipple was soaked. “Are you pregnant?
“Yeah, I’m freshly fertilized by Toinen.”
“Toinen? The King’s son?”
“Do you understand now why I must hide? My belly hides the fruit of my adultery.”
“Of course Pulxer, but I have to ask you to feed small children when happens…”
“When G’vrou…you don’t need to worry, I’ll be glad to be your suckler. Bring me some creature to breastfeed, my breasts hurt a lot because they’re full.”
The stunt.
S’ladan Council met at the request of Toinen, what they expect was already an open secret. That young man with feminine aspect pulled the Kronkol’s medallion and showed it to all Council members.
“Dear Council members, representatives of the people S’ladan, I put this medallion at your disposal and I give back your sovereignty.”
“That’s all very well, now that you say that we S’ladan are sovereign.” One member intervened. Who will prevent the king Dislikg Hani to crush us like tomatoes?”
“Do not suffer noble S’ladan; my cohorts will stay here to defend this stronghold. I’m the general who will protect you from any outside threat.”
“What do you ask in return?”
“What I ask is that all people living in Maa-Alune have the same rights. Following the teachings of Sakelt the grevinnate or slavery of women Neitsi must be abolished. Begins a new era on this land, the beginning of a better world…more tolerant must start.”
The new situation of the underground city.
After the death of G’vrou Erytie came to attend the funeral, in fact it was his duty as a son of that kind Neitsi, the oldest of which had never lived in Maa-Alune along with the spoiled Janda. That was quite a different ceremony because the fearsome Virgin Mothers no longer ruled the despotic poisonous witches who had enslaved the Neitsi since the expulsion of the Firstten many thousands of seasons ago. The situation in which they were now was entirely new, uncertain and exciting.
Suprug decided that his lovely wife would not be eaten by anyone; she wasn’t any cattle head whose meat could be eaten. The bravest of S’ladan thought that G’vrou deserved an S’ladan funeral as mother of four of his children, in spite of the staunch opposition from some members of his family, so it was done. W’ris and Pulxer put her the most beautiful and feminine of her dresses, they had made up her into the S’ladan style, they even painted a line on her nose to make her look like her a woman of this race, they all managed to make clear her right to have a dignified death as any free person. She would be buried in a small piece of land that was owned by the Suprug’s house and then a tree would be planted over her, an alna, with a trunk able to stand any adverse weather was hot or cold, which produced a type of papaya very priced by its culinary possibilities within the S’ladan gastronomy, it was an ancient tradition that it’s said it goes back to the time when all the tribes lived together in the old Maa-Alune.
To that simple ceremony was also attended by Toinen, Seti and much of S’ladan Council, and a large group of women of the Neitsi community headed by a released reproductive. Suprug thanked the support received, especially to Toinen:
“Dear Toinen, I present to you Erytie, my firstborn and new patriarch of the house. I have already told him our secret.”
“An honor, Erytie, I hope you take care of the most valuable part of my existence.”
“With my life, Sir.”
“I am very grateful. Suprug, the jahta is ready to your departure, in two journeys you’ll be on your destination.”
“I’m anxious to go, let me say goodbye to my wife one more time and then I’ll go directly to the harbor.”
“You know that the mission depends on your success.”
“My friend Toinen, no need to tell you that I have vowed to sacrifice, no turning back … liberty or death.”
Eritye’s house.
Erytie took possession of the house as soon as his father went to the most daring of all adventures which any member of the family had lived. He glanced at all what was in those galleries, one of the richest in Maa-Alune thanks to the efforts of the family in the wheat fields and the giant tree. He didn’t know where the money was, because that was the power of the Matriarch, W’ris, from whom he knew he wouldn’t take more than the necessary for the welfare of the family. He was concerned to know that her sister would force him to marry a decent girl in an arranged marriage to unite two important houses, so W’ris kept the money with much wariness. But within his projects there was no place for marriage, at least not yet, he needed before to taste the honey of the Neitsi that his sister welcomed and the cousins who worked in the tree, even thought that his young sister was nice. He thought it was time to change things at home, that’s why it already has his name, and he was the Patriarch.
“W’ris, sister, I think we should firstly look for a husband for you, I still want to enjoy a bit more of my singleness.”
“Sorry Erytie, I had to keep quiet for long. Be warned that despite you’re the Patriarch family tradition says that is the Matriarch who decides the pairing of the men of the house. I want to make clear that the time to abuse innocent girls is over, if you touch your cousins I’ll cut your penis off.” W’ris pulled a large knife, but Erytie was much stronger and took it off easily from her hands.
“I fear that the fruit I’m looking for is more mature now.” Erytie immobilized W’ris while he was cutting her skirt with the knife.
“Would you commit this sin?”
“I’m just committing it.” He dropped the knife and reached through the hole he had made in W’ris skirt to touch her sex. “This wonder what you so jealously keep will be mine unless…”
“What do you want?”
“The Neitsi.”
“Well, start to rape me if you can, Pulxer won’t be yours because I swore I would protect her.”
“What prevents me to have both of you? You have seen that I have easily snatched the knife with which you were to cut it off”
“Maybe money?”
“I like what I hear, how much money are we talking?”
“Half of what is collected in the tree.”
“Three quarters and what I touch.” Erytie still had his hands under W’ris clothes, brushing her skin of teenager with his fingers, sliding his hand over her crotch.
“Two-thirds and you fuck sluts in port.”
“Very well played, sister, we have a deal.”
“It’s an awful deal, to keep the house I’ll have to climb the tree to increase the quota…there are children living in this home.”
“Who can guarantee that you’ll pay me the correct part?”
“You can get the money from Souyon, I’ll give her instructions to separate this part and show you the pricing of the collected fruit.”
The offensive of the King.
I needed ten journeys to organize my legions for the ultimate battle. This time Maa-Alune will be mine, if the wicked witch Starica doesn’t fool me. Anyway, I had to demonstrate her who ruled in this campaign. I’ve gathered the six generals who commanded my legions, including my third child, a young man of only twenty-eight seasons who had become the heir; I asked the blessing of Mother Starica:
“Beautiful Mother, I ask that you may bless our generals to lead the troops to victory.”
“Why should I? Your country worships some pagan gods and not the Virgin Mothers, to forget your blasphemy I need a proof of faith.”
“Will it serve a sacrifice?” I took out my dagger.
“Maybe, but I warn you it does not cause me any pleasure to see killing animals.”
“What about a person?” I began to pace among my generals. “What about one of these beautiful hermaphrodite specimens? The most courageous warriors, those who belong to the best families of Läkande, the best among the best. Sure that any of these androgynous would please a goddess like you, their blood will appease your thirst of death.”
“Aren’t you too melodramatic, Majesty? Do you want I believe that you’d sacrifice so valuable people for a stupid pagan superstition?”
“Superstition? No, it’s deeper than what you call ‘pagan superstition’.” With a flick of my dagger I cut my son’s neck, which collapsed immediately. “It’s the respect to the King, which no longer show his two older children, we have killed him because is son of the same mother. Dislikg Hani doesn’t implore luck, demands respect, we sacrifice our son so that you realize that only rules His Majesty the Androgynous King, the superior being that is man and woman at the same time. There’s no Neitsi, so powerful that would be able to challenge the Hani nature based on the perfect symbiosis between man and women in one body, therefore we’re a K’tmenü among K’tmenü. We have shed our own blood, never mind, any person can kill but only the perfect murderer can terrorize.”
“You’re a monster!” Mother Starica cried helplessly while I myself painting my face with the blood of my son. “You are so crazy that you can kill for boredom.”
“No, precious Mother.” I approached her pointing out at the wet spot on her dress and smiling. “We are the only being in this world that can do a Neitsi with dark powers wet herself, Pulxer was the first and now you are. We don’t have any power but we grasp your terror in that black place you call soul, a cold beam that runs through your back and paralyzes your breath and freeze your poison. This fear causes us more pleasure than if we were gutting you before our soldiers, an indescribable feeling that pleases us more than to lie with all the beautiful women of our kingdom, is a perfume that surrounds your aura and makes us reach ecstasy.”
I had to, I wet Mother Starica’s lips with the blood of my murdered son by myself, and despite her allergy to the K’tmenü salty blood she remained without uttering a word, she entered a kind of trance probably to leave that state of extreme fear that I was proud to cause her. But I needed to enjoy more the moment; I woke her up with a blow to the stomach, a violent impact that made her vomit:
“Have you understood the message ‘goddess’?” I helped her to sit up while I wiped her face with her pissed dress.
“Yes, Majesty.”
“Do you know already who rules?”
“You, Sire.”
“Do you know to say why you are still alive?” Those words came to me almost like a loving whisper, I kissed her on the neck and I rejoiced with the smell of her vomit mixed with her fear’s scent, that animal fear which I could feel in a pleasant way which was leaving from the belly of the wickedest of the Neitsi witches.
“Because you wish, Your Majesty.” it was the certification of my victory, which granted me the honor of being the most feared person in the known world, the one who makes shake the enemy armies only by the fact of saying his name.
“Have the ‘goddess’ understood that we are the only God?”
“Absolutely, I’m a slave that worships you, Sire. I am yours and you can dispose of me as you wish.”
“Okay, now that we mutually understand we can go…
We began the march to the Black Sands, which was a valley of dark soils, a banned row among extinguished volcanoes that reach the sky. To reach this damn valley, first of all we had to do down by the eastern face of the Giant’s Rock through a path where robust keldis couldn’t be used to transport the materials, hence we used giant deer to carry the stuff by that steep path not suitable for our carnivorous horses’ hooves.
We needed a whole journey to reach the base of the first great volcano, the immense Gaben, where we’d set up our camp and meet the legions for battle. I’ve decided to use five legions to that attack, leaving only one to protect Läkande; in total twenty-five thousand soldiers that would become Maa-Alune a hell. The traitors who followed Toinen and the small S’ladan had nothing to do but die like rats after having a little fun with them. The entry to that valley quickly filled with tents, the skilled warriors and courtesans K’tmenü were known for their organization, before the yellow sun rises we would be ready to traverse the Black Sands and challenge the ghosts they say there are, five beautiful courtesans would sleep that night at my tent, their soft skin and the warmth of their ardent bodies would protect me from the cold and damp of these rainy days… I decided not to kill any; perhaps I need them for the battle.
At dawn we started up, the valley of the Black Sands was a wide and barren path that connected with the Ocean of Madness, we had to walk around a chain of impregnable volcanoes that protected the South of Maa-Alune, cruise will last about four journeys at a good pace, maybe five to move thousands of soldiers that way. Starica has chosen this path because she knows that the gate which S’ladan people call of “Läkande” is very easy to protect with a few warriors. The surprise factor shall be definitive in this coup de main, we will emerge from the bowels of the earth, and we will be a plague that will extend the underground city like a curse.
Despite the colossal force of deer, there isn’t a way to tie them to a chariot, these half-wild beasts were very difficult to domesticate and didn’t also eat meat, which forced us to carry fodder for them because we couldn’t feed them with the corpses of soldiers who die for the way. Even so the warriors manufactured a couple of very comfortable carriages, a big one for me and smaller one for Mother Starica, that pulled by the strongest warriors I avoid the effort of walking during those days. Following the same technique of human traction they built some chariots of supplies. This is the best army what you can have; it’s a pity to not have the weapons made by Firstten, we wouldn’t have any rival worldwide. Ah! War… is there anything better?
At the dawn of the fourth journey, Mother Starica made us stop. She got off the carriage and came to mine, was made accompany by two warriors who pointed her with their loaded crossbows.
“Majesty, from this point we enter into a ghost area.”
“The twin city of Maa-Alune that collapsed?”
“Yes Sir, ghosts are still roaming the town, are ghosts of our vilest ancestors that howl and palpate to drive us crazy.”
“Why did you come with two soldiers who point at you?”
“It’s to make you trust me. I’ll uncover my back and you must make a cut between two glands, blood collected should be mixed with enough water so the whole troops could drink.”
“What’s that for?”
“To prevent that terror invades warriors when they start to hear noises and see apparitions.”
“Dou you think that we’ll believe you? Who tells us that you won’t poison all of us?”
“Do a test; send a squad. Make four soldiers drink the potion and the other four do not. Then, make them enter until the middle of the town and come back, depending on the group that return take up your decision.”
“It seems correct, proceed.”
This was done; Mother Starica uncovered a gorgeous back, before making the cut I had the pleasure of touching that soft skin remembering those days with my beloved Ba’hn. On touch I felt the glands, I took the dagger and following the goddess instructions I made a cut between two, the woman squealed and I laughed inside me; blood began to flow in abundance, but when the Mother decided that she had bled enough used the to close the wound, a courtesan collected all the blood with a jar.
“Mix this blood in two bariks of water and that each of the soldiers involved in the test has a drink.”
“Aye, goddess.” The courtesan who collected the blood replied.
After a while, three barrels with the Starica’s potion were ready with the specified quantity. We sent one of the most disastrous squads of our army, because it was not the time to lose good soldiers in such a stupid way. Practically had arrived the night when just three soldiers of the eight that we sent returned looking like having fought, I made them to come to my presence.
“Gods of Kirkia Balts protect you, Majesty.”
“What happened?”
“I am the optional soldier Rakk, Sire.” One of the soldiers introduced himself. “Four men became crazy, lifelong companions have tried to kill us. They’ve killed a soldier and then, inexplicably, they’ve sliced their necks themselves.”
“Have you taken the potion?”
“Yes Majesty, we’re the group which has taken if we include the poor man who died by their peers.”
“Do you understand me now, Majesty?” Starica intervened.
“You’ve convinced us, this potion must be distributed to everyone. We will be booking a jar to take if necessary.”
“I urge you to drink it, Majesty.” The witch Neitsi said. “If you see ghosts you’ll get crazy.”
“We’ll take the risk, for the moment we want the potion be quickly delivered; we hurry to get Maa-Alune.”
When the potion was delivered among warriors and courtesans, we started to go down the huge gap left by the collapse of the galleries of the western part of Maa-Alune for thousands of seasons. For my part, I kept my bottle, I didn’t trust that Neitsi; my carriage began to descend a path that introduced us to that depression. We couldn’t surround that city in ruins as the ground collapses between volcano and volcano along one and a half mailin; even so there was a very good way that seemed to be made by humans. We had covered perhaps the first hundred gams when I could see five or six luminous figures about thirty steps from the carriage, one of those ghosts came and started talking.
“Aren’t you afraid, mortal?”
“Why should we be afraid? We just see different people in front of us; you, for example, are a Firstten.”
“If you see me so clearly is that you have the soul as black as the inhabitants of this ghost town.” That spirit got into the carriage without permission.
“You should show more respect, we’re the king Dislikg Hani.”
“What will you do? Will you kill me? You aren’t the first perverse Hani which I’ve met; here is sauntering a large group of your ancestors…”
“My ancestors Hani you say?” I stopped using the majestic plural; obviously that creature weren’t afraid of me. “Do you mean that the souls of the dead come here?”
“Only the souls condemned by history, which wanders here are the essences of the most heinous criminals who have walked this world. Rest assured that your soul will come here when you exhale your last breath of death.”
“Do you mean that we’re at Hell?”
“Something like this. My name is Käosulo and I was a criminal in my country, I killed fifteen people before getting caught and being hanged in the highest tree of the Isle of the Damned.”
“Just fifteen? My friend, you’re an angel compared to me.”
“Your soldiers do not perceive our presence. We only could to make crazy a half of a first advance party.”
“The witch Neitsi has prepared a potion.”
“Did you have taken it?”
“Do you think I need it?”
“No, of course, sure you could terrify us more than vice versa.”
“So I think you have a small problem.”
“There’s always some idiot who ignores, sure I find a sucker who has not taken it and I can get into his body.”
“Whether you find him, come see me, sure you’ll give me good ideas.”
“Count on it, see you soon.” He jumped out the carriage and disappeared. I had the feeling that I’d see him shortly. What I did not understand was the reason of his interest of in owning a mortal body, perhaps revenge?
We were nearing the dawn when I noticed that my carriage climbed back to the level of the surface, the target already was at a few gams away. The five legions camped on the beach, the tent of Mother Starica was in the farthest place from the sea because her allergy to salt; soldiers mounted a large conical tent to install the High Command center. I brought my five generals and the goddess Neitsi to establish the plan of attack to Maa-Alune.
“Now is the time, beautiful goddess, that you give us the key of the gates that close the galleries.” I kindly asked Starica.
“Of course, Your Majesty, if you don’t’ mind I’d rather to enter with the rearguard.”
“Let the battle for us warriors, we’ll pour much salty blood of the betrayers in the damp caves of Maa-Alune.” After reassuring Starica I turned to my soldiers lifting my sword. “The rest, you know what is your work.”
“Of course Lord, victory or death!” The most fanatical of my generals said, abject criminal who enjoys the pain of his victims, my twin soul, my right hand Tra’yèz. Tra’yèz had numerous scars from the whole battles fought, perhaps he was the most masculine of all hermaphrodites living in Läkande, everyone suspected that he was a mongrel half K’tmenü and half Firstten.
When the yellow sun arrived to the top of the sky they stared to enter the galleries of the Black Sands, one by one, the twenty-five thousand soldiers who would get an epic victory for the biggest glory of my reign. The task was to kill without hesitation to anyone who opposed resistance to our advance, exterminate all life that hinder our way towards the target…
The Maa-Alune defense.
That attack took us by surprise to everyone, without realizing nothing thousands of ferocious soldiers entered from the bowels of the earth, starting a fratricidal struggle where K’tmenü killed K’tmenü. Among the volunteers S’ladan and free warriors K’tmenü maybe we weren’t more than twelve thousand troops, of which half were farmers with no military training. Seti and I chose a crossing of galleries to contain them and we endured our position a whole journey at a very high price in human lives. As time passed it was getting more and more difficult to bear the constant attack of professional archers with their deadly and accurate weapons, the gallery we defended wasn’t bigger than of a hundred gams wide, we almost noticed the breath of our enemies. Our shields were totally bored, to feed our crossbows we used the arrows that our enemy shot. That force was irresistible, we gradually receding, leaving a trail of blood and corpses of our soldiers on the way.
Suddenly, I was alone and surrounded by five enemy soldiers, five brothers K’tmenü against me; Tra’yèz was before them, my father’s favorite general. It was clear that this was the end, that fanatical henchman of the Androgynous King had taught me all I knew and I was the typical disciple unable to overcome the teacher, or at least it was what I thought.
“Highness, if you surrender you will save alive.” Tra’yèz offered me.
“I’m sorry, if I surrender my father will kill me slowly, he’ll torture me the same way as his lovers and then he will be cutting me to bits until I stop breathing. I think I’d rather die fighting heroically against five of you, maybe some bard would write some song about me.”
“As you wish, long live the king Dislikg Hani!”
“Screw my criminal father!” I said, making it clear that I wouldn’t put them easy.
The other four soldiers were around, cutting off my retreat. Tra’yèz, as a skilled fighter, he measured the spaces where he had to attack me, both of us had unsheathed our swords of black bronze and we were protecting ourselves with the shield that bore the banner of Läkande, the same weapons and the same uniforms, we were the clear symptom of what was happening with the K’tmenü race, the time of changing things had arrived and a part of the fate of gelannism was being decided in that gallery. It was a technical fight between the young inexperienced guy I was and the exterminating hand of hundreds of de gelannists, blow of swords colliding with each other or against shields, jumps, feints, in a moment of distraction Tra’yèz hit his shield against my helmet and in the small instant of stunning I felt how his sword made me a deep cut on my arm. I dropped the shield and knelt down, the pain was unbearable, and I stuck the sword into the ground … if the future of Läkande was up to me all was lost.
“Do you surrender now, Highness?”
“Cut off my head and bring it to my father as trophy.” I bowed my neck to offer him the spot where he could cut and closed my eyes; I evoked the Pulxer’s face waiting for the fatal blow ended all…
Contrary to that, I felt the thud of an arrow hitting the helmet of Tra’yèz. Opening my eyes I saw Seti firing his automatic crossbow against the other four men, four fatal impacts more against our enemies.
“Come on Lord, we have a trireme to flee…” Seti said me.
“Pulxer… I do not want to leave her alone.”
“We have no chance to get where she is, not with your arm. If we don’t stop your hemorrhage you’ll die.” She took a piece of cloth and made a tourniquet.
With tears in our eyed we fled to the harbor, my feed crawled more than walk. Seti cried loudly without hiding, she had lost everything: her daughter was in Gelann, and his grandson in Läkande and Pulxer – whom she loved like a daughter – was lost at Maa-Alune. Seti took off her cuirass to help me, because I had no strength to walk, reaching the harbor a group of courtesans was waiting for us.
“We’ll hold the enemy while you go away, Sir.” The captain of courtesans said. “Get quickly into the trireme, they’re about to arrive.”
While we were getting into the trireme a rain of arrow dropped off us, I could see how the faithful courtesans died with honor against an enemy fifty times larger. With everything I didn’t realize that one of the darts had hit in the unprotected chest of Seti.
“Seti, oh gods of Kirkia Balts, no!” I broke the leftover piece of arrow. “A doctor!”
“Don’t worry Sir, this is nothing. I survived from worse matters.” She lied; the wound was very serious, it was clear that she wouldn’t survive.
By nightfall we were at sea. The rain seeped our bones and waves made us vomit, more than half of the crew was seriously injured or had died. Seti was still holding, although it was not known for how long, if we continued the trek towards the North would arrive at the Shelter Island, there Firstten surely would make us prisoners but they’d respect our lives and would heal the wounded among whom it was me. We had an agonizing journey in which the sight of the island that would host us filled us with joy. Upon arrival at the dock, I gave some orders to the soldiers who were unharmed.
“Prepare a pyre for the dead and reserve me a place.” I didn’t think to leave alive the island. I was already in a state between consciousness and delirium, my mind was hoping that the Kirkia Balts’ doors opened to cultivate stars in the sky garden and watch from up there Pulxer remaking her life.
There was no trace of Firstten; healthy warriors took the injured to the island’s house. I did not see when Seti was carried into the house; I was taken to a room for myself. The doctor said the wound was badly infected, I had already lost the sensitivity of the arm, which had become blue and smelled like rotten cheese, and my life was in danger.
“Sorry Highness, if we do not amputate your arm you’ll die before ending this journey, it developed gangrene.”
“Do whatever it takes, but when you finish take me where Seti is.”
The doctor made me drink a preparation for sleep and I lost consciousness. After a while the completion of the amputation and waking looked at what they had left me and I cried helplessly, death was a better option than that state. I only had a small stump below the shoulder covered with a bandage, there was not enough warrior to relive new battles and write my name in K’tmenü legends, I had become a cripple unable to protect my wife and my compatriots.
As soon as I could get up, one of the soldiers accompanied me where Seti was, we went through the great central hall, there were two corpses more amid the cabin and one wounded by dragging one of those dead bodies out. Through the door of a room I saw Seti lying on a bed with her fully bloodstained blouse, she lifted an arm to make me come.
“Sir, I’m here.”
“Be quiet Seti, I’m here to help you. Now I’ll take your blouse off to check on your wound.”
“It is not decent a man see the breasts of a woman that is not his wife.”
“I’m sorry, you have a very serious injury and I have to see how it is, the doctor is too busy.”
“And your left arm?”
“There is no left arm, it has been amputated in order to I don’t die.”
“You are as bad as me, Lord, you should rest.”
“I’ll rest in Kirkia Balts; help me to take your blouse off.”
When removing the woman’s blouse, I realized that there was nothing to do, the arrow had pierced her right breast and was stuck deep inside, through a lung. I could see getting out foam from the wound, as there was no hope for her. I covered Seti and she looked at me with an expression of thanks, both knew the only possible outcome. I brushed the red hair from her face, despite her age she was still and attractive woman. I relented for this person, a faithful servant till the end. She pointed the little poison bottle that she kept in the hilt of his dagger.
“Toinen, kiss me and finish. Forgive the familiarity but now I just see a son crying for me.”
“Are you ready?”
“I’m not afraid of my fate; just promise me that you’ll take care of my family. Do not leave Pulxer to her fate.”
“Only death will separate me from my goal and obligation that I have to Pulxer.”
“Now kiss me and give me the venom.” I kissed those pale lips and immediately afterwards I dropped the poison in Seti’s throat.
“Take my hand and pray for my soul.” I obeyed her, we both whispered a prayer. “Receive me in your bosom, merciful gods, guide me along the way of my salvation, forget the sins committed without malice and see the good person who I tried to be; set me apart from darkness….” Her hand released mine, her soul reached the Kirkia Balts, and sure I’ll meet her soon.
I asked the soldiers to help me to carry the body of Seti to the pyre, I had asked that they make one only for her as befitted a royal courtesan. Before setting fire I put my arm, the doctor had the deference to keep it, I made sure it touched her right hand, so a part of me would go to Kirkia Balts before the rest of my body. An officer approached me to inform me that Firstten boats were coming.
“Lay up the weapons, shields and the habergeons on a pile and prepare you to be made prisoners.”
“Prisoners, Sir?”
“First we humbly lose the freedom we have earned to get that of our whole country.”
“I don’t understand Sir. To surrender and not facing up to enemy is not proper to K’tmenü.”
“These last journeys thousands of good warriors died so that in a nearer time than it seems we are all brothers and live in freedom.”
“Brothers of Firstten, Sir?”
“I said everyone; Sakelt wrote that while a single person in this world is oppressed the rest will not be free…”

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