Announcing they were to visit a neighboring kingdom, Ilyra nodded her acceptance. “As you wish, Master.” she nodded. Jamai bowed to them both before excusing himself from their tent. She watched him go with a sigh before getting to her feet. She moved to a bench at the center of their tent and sat down upon it with a pleasurable moan. It had been hard sitting upon the ground for so long.
As Jamai left the tent, Tagor’s attention turned back on IIyra who had gone from sitting on the fur covered ground to moving to a seat or bench in their tent. Tagor had a hard ride back, and his scalp was feeling itchy from not having washed in a few days. He started to untie the various leather binds, that held his long magnificent black mane in place. As it came undone, the sheer amount of hair he had was shocking to say the least. He stepped out of the tent, and went to where they stored large water pots, and grabbed one, that he tipped and upended just above his head, dousing his hair till it was soaked through. He had a special bar of soap that he kept on a log outside his tent and started to wash and massage his hair thoroughly, much to the amusement of some of the village children. To see the large man bathing in the open was a treat, even some of the slave girls gaped and were in awe as he stood in his wet leather short pants and his hair all lathered with the soap. Another jug of water and it splashed down over himself, rinsing his hair through till it shone the perfect jet black. The dripping Njada leader then went back inside his tent, and then reached for the combs and new binds, presenting them to IIyra.
“Weave Tagor’s hair.” He asked in a gruff voice, planting himself down in front of her, so she could tend to braiding his hair as she sat on the small stool.
An assassin dressed as a guard, and from the valley of Wood elfs. So bold they would try and send in one to kill Magarsa. Gripping the large necklet that hung around his full neck, he strode over to where Ivan held the quivering guard on the floor, a blade to his throat.
“What shall we do with him?” Asked one fo the guards. A good question. Staring at the assassin, Magarsa said simply. “The lands of Tsumal are not as forgiving as I. This man, this elf, shall be taken out to the sand hills with his naked body to be tied to the ground, and have the sweetest honey in all the capital poured over his face and genitals.” He leaned forward, so his stinking breath would not escape the fallen guard. “There..in the blaze of the sun, you will discover the true horror of being eaten alive. Take him away.” Magarsa said with a flick of his wrist. Two other guards came to drag the screaming traitor out of the building, as Magarsa turned to the noble one that had just saved his life. “And you…you I have not seen before. Tell me, what name was given to you by your birth mother?”
Magarsa started back for his grand chair, as he waited to be answered. The commotion had not gone unnoticed by Nerboti, who watched from behind a veiled curtain near the balcony. Who was this man that just saved her father? She had not seen him before, and yet he just did a very valiant deed. Such heroics were rare, especially against a man like her father. Many men would not even have to be paid to get within striking distance to do him in. His atrocities were well known. He did not get to where he was in Tsumal society for being anything but a tyrant.
Nerboti’s dark eyes followed Ivan’s movements. She had to admit, he was a fine specimen of manhood, in every sense of the word.
As Ilyra watched him, she simply could not believe how much her life had changed in the last few days. From being a slave, to becoming the mate of one of the most powerful men she’d ever come across, she had to pinch herself from time to time to make sure it wasn’t some sick dream. Absently she placed a hand against her stomach and over the new life she could sense growing within her…their son. She smiled as she thought of it. In less then 5 full moons, they would hold their son in their arms.
Withdrawing from her thoughts, she looked up in time to see Tagor unbind his hair. The massive thickness of it simply stunned her. It hadn’t looked like much when it was bound. To see it as natural as the day he was born…it stole her breath. He stepped outside for a few short moments, and before she had a chance to wonder what he was doing, he had returned. Water droplets clung to his bronze chest and she had the sudden desire to lick them off. He pressed a comb and new bindings into her hands before settling his large frame on the ground between her thighs.
“Weave Tagor’s hair.” he stated in a gruff tone. This was something she could do, having done her sister’s hair in a similar fashion many times. She carefully ran the comb through his still-wet hair, taking great care not to hurt him when she came across some knotted strands. She took the time to untangle them with her small fingers before she continued to other spots upon his head. She didn’t want his hair to get dirty again as she combed it through, draping the dark locks across her thighs as she worked.
It was soothing work and she became lost in it, humming a small tune as she carefully braided and bound different sections of his hair. Different then his usual style, but guaranteed to keep the hair from his arms as he hunted or fought his battles. She had come across the feather of a white spotted owl as she helped in the village earlier that day and thought it would make an appropriate decoration for his hair. She carefully weaved the feather between strands of his hair next to his ear until it hung low but visible to all…a symbol of strength and honor, all the things Tagor stood for.
She pressed a hand to his shoulder to signify that she was finished before she sat back and awaited his verdict.
Having his hair braided by IIyra was a very pleasurable and relaxing experience. Though he did not speak, she hummed a tune as she weaved and worked his hair, going as far as adding an owl feather to the plaits. Tagor sat regally, even though he was on the ground, and she was seated higher than him. Unusual for a Njada man to allow, but he was so comfortable in her presence he allowed for such things. To feel the warmth of her breath of the back of his neck, did send a shiver through him. She had that affect; the slightest touch of her delicate fingers, the way she picked up his hair as though it was spun gold. The soap he had used contained oils that were rich in its scent, and a masculine quality to it. A musk if you will.
IIyra pressed her hand to his shoulder, to alert him that she had completed the task. Tagor reached round and pulled his long braided plait around so he may see her work for himself. It was bound so well, that there was little chance of it coming undone. Something that was simply seen as a weakness if it did. Tagor flicked his plait back then reached for her hand, pulling her around so that she would come to be in his lap as he sat cross legged.
“Mate …IIyra, did good.” Again, a man of few words. His smile however, that spoke volumes. It was like his eyes danced whilst set in the dark hollows that rimmed his eyes. It was rare to see him show such joy, but he had much to be thankful for. He truly believed the Gods had favoured him on finding IIyra at the slave markets, and the fact she fell so easily to carry a child showed she had the strength to be a good Njada woman.
If this was paradise on earth, he had found it.
“…Ilyra, did good.” he announced, shocking her that he had stated her name without any hesitation. His eyes were dancing and there was one of those private, just-for-her smiles on his face, that she couldn’t help but return.
She placed the palms of her hands against his neck. “You’re welcome, My Lord.” she murmured in her melodic voice, brushing her hands across his shoulders in a loving gesture as she did so.
She wondered what else she could do to please him, and asked him such. “Is there anything more you wish of me, My Lord? Speak the words and I shall heed them.”
IIyra’s touch – so gentle. This was a very private and gentle moment between them. They had a bond that transcended just that of a physical relationship. Heart, soul and mind were often connected, and this moment IIyra was asking if there was anything more that he wished of her.
For the first time, Tagor did not order or speak a command. He was actually curious about her. Her upbringing, her life – her story. He knew her only from when he found her in the slave markets, but by the mark upon her of the winter snowflake, it was obvious she had a past; a history that he wanted to know.
“Tagor…wants IIyra to teach….to speak of..” At this point he placed his hand on her chest.“IIyra.”
His dark eyes implored her. This was not a simple request. She was to be mother to his child, and Tagor wanted to know her intimately. How she came to be his woman.
Tagor waited for her answer.
“Tagor…wants IIyra to teach….to speak of…IIyra.” he stated, pressing a hand to her chest.
“You wish to know of me?” she asked, not sure she heard correctly. He would simply nod his head. “Oh…well…I was born in the Winterlands, far across the seas. My father is, or was, the leader of our clans – fair and just, much like yourself. We were a peaceful people. Never knowing battle or wars like you have. Oh there was fighting, to be sure, but mostly with beasts encroaching upon our lands and trying to steal our younglings for their food. It is how we got our furs for the winters.” she began to explain. “My days were spent with my mother and sister, learning traditions and history, chores and such. My free time was spent exploring the lands surrounding our village, my companion, an ice wolf by my side for protection. It was a life I took advantage of. And then the outsiders came…” She looked down in sadness, as that was the day her life changed forever. Her fingers traced idle patterns across his chest as she recalled that day.
“They came seeking trade with my father, him not knowing who they were and seeing the profit to be made. But the men who came, coveted our females, sought to trade with father for them. He told them no and sent them away. They came back, like thieves and attacked us, killing those of our men who stood against them and taking the women…including me and my sister. They…” Here she paused to swallow in remembered pain, “…killed my mother right in front of me. My father was injured. I do not know if he lives still. My sister and I were seperated and sold into the life of slavery. It has been my life since.” She finished.
Tagor wanted to know about the woman that he had made his mate. Most Njada were only interested in their own culture and society, certainly not the heritage of a slave. But Tagor did not view her as such. She was so much more, and now as she started to recant the details of her life, the fact she was born in the Winterlands far across the sea, that the mystery to her becoming a slave was starting to be solved. Her younger days were as expected, being brought up by her mother to learn craft, history and how to keep the home. Her father was a leader and while IIyra described him as being much like Tagor himself, this gave him reason to smile. But it was when she spoke of the outsiders, that Tagor’s face darkened. Almost as though he could picture the scene she described in her mind. He was not surprised with how the outsiders acted. It was why the Njada were defensive against the unknown, for the same reasons. Trust had to be earnt, well before trade may commence. When IIyra traced her finger along Tagor’s chest, he reached for her cheek, and caressed it as she continued to tell the tale.
Tagor’s brow knitted on hearing how the attacked and killed her mother before her. How her father was injured, and sister taken into slavery – sold to an unknown. That was her life..up to the moment that she had been purchased by Tagor. The day her life changed forever.
“Tagor…loves IIyra. Never see you hurt again.” Words so simple, yet powerful. He pledged his own life to protect her, and inwardly he made a promise. He would one day seek out and find her father, even if it meant crossing the seas, and reunite her one day with her family. But for now, she would not be alone. “Tagor…baby. Family.” The Njada leader said with a firm nod. You could see the depth of feeling in his eyes. She and their unborn son, meant the world to him, and now he knew of her past, he wished her future to be bright.
“And Ilyra loves Tagor.” she whispered, before pressing her lips to his in a gentle kiss. He had removed her from a life spent in slavery and had blessed her with a new home, a child, and a love she never thought possible.
How could anything go wrong after this?
Unknown to them, someone was watching them from the edges of the tent flaps, her eyes bright with anger at the betrayal she felt. One son was dead at the hands of the one who lived and she cursed the Fates for giving her such an evil (in her mind) child.