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Chapter 19: Promises, Promises

Brannoc was sitting with Rowan in her room at the academy when Nelise appeared. A new dress had been sent up from Nagas for Rowan. It was made of pink rose petals and there was a crown of white roses for her hair. Nelise looked her up and down.

“I am glad to see you are ready for once. The Divine Mother demands your presence tonight. Come with me now.”

Brannoc stood with Rowan.

“No, only the sender is required,” Nelise bluntly stated.

Brannoc turned Rowan towards him and hugged her and as he did he whispered in her ear.

“I am sorry but you are going to be alone. Please just do anything she says, and I do mean anything. I will be here when you get back.”

“Now,” Nelise said as she rose up and stomped her front hooves.

Rowan walked over and stood by Nelise. They disappeared in the blue glow and immediately reappeared in Cali’s’ chamber in the Universal tree.

Cali was sitting in a chair that had grown up out of the floor. Living branches rose from the back of the chair and formed the arms. Cali was also dressed in rose petals only hers were blood red and on her head were thorns.

On each side of her were carliffs, Anubis was there as always but the other had the head of a goat with horns that curled around the sides of his head. His strange goat eyes seemed vacant not keen and alert like Anubis’. Nelise trotted off to the corner and sat beside her twin sister.

Rowan looked over towards the bed and then she saw her. There was a naked woman sitting on the bed; she looked terrified. Rowan heard her thoughts as clearly as if she was speaking, help me, she is going to kill me, please help me.

She is Thracian Rowan thought; she is the spy. I will try to help you in any way I can, stay calm. Rowan reached into her thoughts to try and find a soothing memory and then she saw that it was a trap. The young woman was trying to lure her in. Rowan withdrew but it was too late.

“So tell me my little spy is she or isn’t she.” Cali had risen from her chair and walked over to the bed. She held the woman’s chin with her hand.

Tears were streaming down the Thracian’s face.

“Yes she is Tolui,” she sobbed, “forgive me Tolui.”

Cali smiled as dark clouds moved across her eyes.

“How delightful, “she said as she turned towards Rowan. “My consciousness sends out tendrils to many places in space and time. I brushed against your

consciousness once many years ago and though it was a fleeting kiss I remembered you Tolui or should I say Eki. I knew your mother Isis personally, has she ever mentioned that?”

Rowan thought of the encounter with Vashir and the entity that was coiled deep in his subconscious seething with hate, lust and rage. She thought of the things she had seen in Vashir’s mind, his obsession with dead bodies and how he mutilated and defiled them.

“What are you?” Rowan asked. Cali looked back at her with solid black eyes.

“I am lost and incomplete,” something answered Rowan from deep inside of Cali. “I have wandered for an eternity searching and waiting for the perfect form; the form that can absorb my total energy and allow me to truly walk in the visible universe again. This shell has served me well. Her power is great and I can indulge my needs but I am only an observer living through her. I desire my own flesh; my own vessel. You Eki are that vessel.”

Rowan began to back away only to find that Anubis had moved behind her. He took hold of her upper arms and pulled her back, tight against his chest.

Cali sat down on the bed next to the terrified young Thracian woman and she patted her naked thigh. She then ran her hand up between her legs. The young woman gasped and Cali made a soothing shush sound

“I have brought you here tonight for several reasons Rowan my dear. First I wanted to make sure that you were all I thought you were and this lovely little thing has proved that.” She smiled at the Thracian. “Secondly I wanted to spend some time with you and share my many interests. I wanted you to see what your body would be up to for eternity once I take control of it. I am very powerful but even I could be destroyed once I become fully flesh and I do want to maintain control of the Fadian Collective. You will marry my only heir and soon after that Cali will die in a tragic accident or perhaps an assassination I haven’t decided which yet. I assure you the people will be devastated.”

Cali began to rub harder between the woman’s legs and she motioned for the goat headed carliff to approach the bed. She continued talking as if nothing was happening.

“Brannoc will be the Divine Father for as much time as I see fit and then I will assume the throne, in your body of course. The most wonderful aspect of this however is that you are Tolui and I will use that gift to conquer the Thracian Division once and for all and then I will rule both. No one will be able to challenge me.

Cali reached out with her free hand and pulled out the goat headed carliffs huge member and began to massage it. The woman on the bed closed her eyes and looked away. Cali grabbed her hard between her legs.

“No you watch this it is for you after all.” Tears were running down the woman’s face and Rowan could hear her frantic thoughts. Rowan tried to calm her. Just do as she says, don’t fight her and maybe we can both leave here alive. Rowan realized she wasn’t helping. The woman was so frightened she was hysterical so Rowan went deeper looking for a soothing memory. If she could activate the memory she could block out what was happening.

“Thirdly,” Cali continued, “I wanted to let you know that if you try anything stupid like trying to escape or taking your own life I will take Brannoc’s head and place it in the Throne of Souls beside his fathers and I will turn his perfect body into my new favorite carliff and make him fuck dead things every day for the rest of time.

Rowan had pushed back against Anubis as if he was some sort of protection from the monster before her. She could feel his breath on the top of her head. Rowan continued to try and calm the Thracian and finally she found a beautiful memory and she gave it to the sobbing woman. She stopped crying and smiled as she was once again in her mother’s arms as she sang her gently to sleep.

Cali didn’t seem to notice the woman had stopped crying. She pushed her back onto the bed and ordered the goat head to take her as hard as he could. The carliff began to viciously fuck the woman as Cali walked to the other side of the bed. The goat head was making a strange grunting noise and his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth.

Cali took a blade from a stand beside the bed and was bringing it down to the woman’s throat. All Rowan could think about was stopping Cali and suddenly the knife flew from her hand and stuck into the wall of the room. Cali looked absolutely thrilled.

“Don’t stop,” she commanded the goat head and she walked over to the wall and pulled out the knife. She went towards Rowan and Rowan tried again, she tried to push Cali with her mind. Cali stopped and took a step back; she looked at Rowan with her ink black eyes and smiled.

“You will get stronger, but for now you are not strong enough to take me.” She put the blade to Rowan’s throat.

“You aren’t going to kill me.” Rowan said.

“No I won’t but I can have Brannoc here in a moment and I can cut his throat instead of hers if you would prefer. Now that I know what else you can do I am even more anxious to get inside your skin. With my consciousness in your body I will be unstoppable.”

Rowan didn’t doubt for a second that Cali would do what she said. Blood was soaking the bed as the goat head tore up the insides of the woman with his enormous phallus. As Cali walked back towards the women with the knife Rowan gently stopped the Thracians heart and her suffering, Cali blamed the goat head.

“You killed her too soon you idiot,” she screamed as she hit him across the face. He stood up panting with blood running down his legs. Cali turned towards Rowan.

“Bring her here,” she said to Anubis.

Cali ripped Rowan’s dress off and as it fell to the floor it turned back into the thousands of petals it had been made from; she stood naked before Cali except for the crown of white roses. Cali caressed her breasts, taking one nipple and then the other in her mouth.

“I would have never believed a human body could be so lovely,” Cali whispered, “you are quite perfect my dear. Now I love to fuck the dead and I do not plan on killing you, so tonight I watch and let you enjoy my Anubis. He has been with me since I was only Cali and he has very special gifts that I am sure you will find delightful. Consider this a wedding gift for I rarely share my Anubis.”

The goat headed carliff picked up the dead body from the bed and tossed it on the floor. Cali sat down beside it and put the dead woman’s head in her lap; she gently stroked her hair. The goat head stood behind her, still naked, blood running down his legs.

Anubis turned Rowan around to face him. His yellow eyes were brighter than ever. He rubbed his canine nose against her neck; it was cold and wet. His tongue licked her breasts as Rowan stared into his eyes. He took her around the waist with his muscular Thracian arms. The dragons reminded Rowan of Niurgun and the sadness of his memory was more painful than what was happening.

He laid her down on the bloody bed and stood before her as he removed his clothes. He was fully erect and as he moved towards her Rowan did not feel anger or hate. He looked her in the eyes as he entered her and suddenly she was no longer in the Universal tree she was running under twin moons in a glittering snowy world.

Four legs bounded under her as she ran through the snow, he was behind her nipping at her, barking and howling. She could smell the evergreens and somewhere near a small animal. The air was cold and wet but her lungs could not get enough of it. They were free; truly free from language and morality, from responsibility and reason. They were animal, pure and alive breathing each breath as if it was their first; she had returned to the garden.

She did not know how long they ran under the midnight skies or how many time they mated in the snow, teeth bared, fur packed with ice as he would catch her and roll her only to mount her again, his fangs sunk deep into the thick fur around her neck. Slowly Rowan began to realize that she was in his memories, running with him as his mate across the snowfields of his home world long before they had taken his head from his body.

She felt waves of pleasure course through her body and suddenly she was back in Cali’s chambers, Anubis had shielded her within his memories.

Rowan sat up and reached down. She held his glossy black head between her hands and reached into his mind.

He didn’t think like a human but there was great intelligence; there was almost no language only fleeting single words, he thought mostly in images and feelings and he loved Rowan. He loved that she could touch his mind for he had been so lonely for such a long time. He hated what Cali had become but like a loyal dog whose master beats him he had remained loyal. He had known nothing else since the day he was captured on his home world until Rowan had seen his thoughts on earth the day they brought her back to Availon.

Cali began to laugh and clap.

“Oh that was wonderful and you acted like I was forcing you to do something you didn’t want. I told you he is delightful. I lost count of how many times you came. I absolutely can’t wait to take your body.”

Rowan was sitting up on the bed with Anubis’ head laid in her lap. She was stroking his fur and he had his eyes closed.

“When you take my body will I still be there, you know in there with you?”

“Yes but you will only be able to watch what I do, unable to stop me or influence me. I look forward to that most of all pushing you to the back of this shell, making you watch for all eternity.”

Cali stood up and let the dead woman’s head thump on the floor.

“Now go back to the academy and prepare for the wedding and remember what I will do to Brannoc if you try anything.”

Talise, the other pig walked forward and Rowan went and stood beside her. Instantly Rowan was back in her room at the academy naked and covered with blood. She ran to Brannoc and held him as tightly as she could.
“It doesn’t matter what she did to you all that matters is that you are back alive,” he said softly to her.

“She probably won’t be much fun tonight,” Talise quipped, “I would imagine she is worn out,” and with those words she disappeared.

Brannoc helped Rowan take a long hot bath and then he lay down beside her in the bed just holding her close.

“I have some things to tell you,” she started to talk.

Brannoc stopped her.

“You don’t have to tell me anything. You came back alive there is nothing else you need to tell me.”

“No, you don’t understand,” Rowan said. “I am not ashamed of what happened tonight. I have the memories of a thousand lifetimes and believe me when I say I have seen and experienced worse. Terrible things did happen but I didn’t plan for it to happen and I would have stopped it if I could have. What I have to tell you goes back a lot further, back to the day we were taken aboard the Thracian ship. I lied to you then and I am going to tell you everything now.”

And she did.

She told him about Vashir and the Birilgi, about being a Tolui and the wonderful banquet and most of all about Niurgun and how much she had loved him. She told him of how she had come here fully expecting Niurgun to rescue her, he had promised her and now he was gone, killed by a mindship. She told Brannoc that Cali had threatened to put his head next to his fathers and that Cali was no longer just Cali but the Birilgi, an ancient evil trying to be reborn into

the flesh: her flesh. Then she told him the last thing.

“We have to get out of here, together. You and I have to figure out a way to stop this collar from taking off my head if I jump and we need to do it before the end of the wedding.”

“Where will we go?”

“We will go to the Thracians. They will protect me as I will serve them. Unegen Qura, Fleet Commander of the Blood Wolves is my friend; she and her crew will help us.”

“They will not welcome me I can assure you.”

“They will if I wish it.” Rowan said not sure if that was true but she hoped. “Don’t you worry about that, can you fix the collar?”

Brannoc thought for a moment.

“There may be a way but if I get caught it will cost me my life.”

Rowan laid her head on his chest. “She plans to kill you as soon as she has established a claim to the throne in my body so I don’t think you really have much to lose.”

“I guess I don’t,” said Brannoc as he gently ran his hand through Rowans long red hair.

The three Thracians, two disguised as Stavician bounty hunters and one as their prisoner appeared in the receiving area of the Office of Public Safety in the Lower Quadrant of Titania. The Fadian at the desk looked up from his holographic display. Their presence seemed to annoy him. Being the lowest ranked officer at the station he was missing the royal wedding and none too happy about it. He let out a long sigh.

“What is your business?” he asked the three.

Seru tossed him a small disk.

“We captured this one in the Sol system. He is on the Royal List.”

The Fadian officer made a noise as if he doubted it but he took the disk and placed it on a sensor. A holographic display of Niurgun appeared above the desk, his figure turned slowly in the air as a voice recited his crimes and his last known where abouts.

The officer’s mouth fell open.

“You claim this man is Prince Niurgun Bootur Nasan, Commander of the Jagun Dash, member of the Blood Wolves and a Class Three Sender.”

Seru looked annoyed. “I claim nothing, he is the Prince. Scan him, he trained here at the academy; he will be on record.”

“Niurgun Bootur Nasan died when the Jagun Dash was destroyed, this cannot be him,” the guard insisted.

Seru was annoyed now. “Scan him! Obviously he was not aboard the ship. I told you we found him in the Sol system. He was there trying to retrieve a new sender.”

The officer made a few more noises under his breath and waved his hand over his control. A beam of light came from the ceiling and illuminated Niurgun. The voice started again.

“Subject is on record. Subject is Niurgun Bootur Nasan, Academy Graduate, citizen of Erdene, youngest son of Empress Mongke Nasan. Wanted for terrorist activities and acts of treason against the Collective including the destruction of the Oberon, the destruction of the…….”

“See,” Seru interrupted, the list would go on forever, “I told you, now, there is the matter of the reward.”

The officer was still staring at Niurgun in disbelief. All he could think of was what this could mean for his career. To be the one who presents Cali with Niurgun Bootur Nasan, what an honor. He should of course call his superiors immediately but he wanted this prisoner all to himself and he needed to get rid of these horrible Stravics.

“The reward for this man far exceeds my authorized limit but I can give you a hundred thousand lats now and once he has been presented to Cali I will arrange for the remainder to be sent to your ship. Will that be acceptable?”

Seru and Hajif whispered to each other as if deciding whether to accept his offer; then Seru spoke. “We will accept your offer and wait for the remainder of payment in orbit. I will send you our coordinates. We are more than happy to be rid of him.”

“Excellent,” the Fadian said. He then handed Seru a small tablet, “your lats.”

Hajif pushed Niurgun hard towards the officer and then he and Seru disappeared.

Niurgun let out a sigh of relief; at least Seru and Hajif were out of danger. The guard laughed.

“If you think that you are better off with us than with them you are sadly mistaken.”

“No I think it is you who are mistaken,” Niurgun calmly said as he looked at the officer. His hands were still held in front of him as if they were biogeled but what the guard had not noticed was that while he negotiated with Seru, Hajif had dissolved the biogel. In one fluid movement Niurgun had his nanoblade and he cut the Fadian’s throat clear to his spine.

Niurgun drug the body behind the desk and opened the holographic display. He pulled up a map of the Lower Quadrant, which was by no means the nicest part of the city. They had chosen this area of Titania for several reasons but mainly because of the large number of equipment brokers who bought all variety of tech devices from individuals needing immediate cash. Niurgun located a shop within a short distance of the station.

Of course a Thracian walking the streets of the Fadian capitol would attract unwanted attention so Niurgun activated a small holomask device he had hidden in his suit. It projected a different, very human looking face in place of Niurgun’s face. He had worn a plain grey nanosuit that could be purchased anywhere so he would not stand out. He also erased the record of his scan, they could still find it but it would take some time.

Niurgun found the equipment brokers shop without incident but considering the yelling he heard back from the direction he had come he figured someone had found the body. He ducked into the shop. A weathered Moche was sitting in the dark interior.

“Close the door quickly,” the little creature said quietly.

Niurgun closed the door and suddenly there was no door; a holographic image obscured the door just like his mask hid his face.

“I am in need of several devices,” Niurgun said.

“Of course you are or you would not be here. Give me your hand,” demanded the Moche.

“Niurgun held out his hand and the little man took it and closed his giant eyes very tightly.”

“There is a very dark road ahead of you my friend,” the old man said as he opened his eyes. “I will sell you what you need.”

“I need a collar, a completely unrestricted one and unregistered if possible. I also need a comp.”

“You are the second this week to make a similar request but luckily for you I have another. Wait here,” said the old man and he disappeared into the dark recesses of the shop. When he reappeared he had the collar and a comp. He handed both to Niurgun.

Niurgun looked at the battered collar. It had obviously been modified several times.

“Are you sure this thing will work?”

The little Moche laughed.

“I know this one looks rough but let me assure you no one on this planet or in this system for that matter can rig a collar like I can. Who do you think built the magnetic trap around the academy?”

Niurgun looked down at the withered creature and the Moche grinned.

“What is the price,” Niurgun asked as he put the collar around his neck?

“Succeed, that is the price,” the withered Moche answered. “Now, go out the back they will be searching door to door soon.”

Niurgun followed him through the dark cluttered shop to a small back door. Niurgun had to all but bend in half to get through and then he was out in a back alley that ran behind the buildings along the main street. He did not want to jump close to the shop in case he was detected and the old Moche would be implicated so he moved north on foot up the ally towards the Universal Tree.

He walked for almost an hour sticking to the back streets until he could see the huge Tree silhouetted against the pink sunset sky. He saw fewer people than he would have expected, in fact the streets were kind of deserted.

His stomach was in knots as he looked at the Tree. Niurgun would take on ten men hand to hand and not so much as flinch but the thought of going back into the Tree had his hands sweating and his knees weak. Then he thought of Rowan there and he found his courage.

He stood and looked at the Tree. He examined each knothole window until he found the one whose shape he would never forget and then he made a sightline jump into

Cali’s royal bed chamber.

Two huge leopard headed carliff were in the chamber. They fired their comps at Niurgun but his shield was up. Niurgun pulled both nanoblades from his thigh armor. The carliffs were armed with staffs tipped with magnetic pulse generators. The low tech staff could pass right through the shield and then the magpulse could shatter bone. Niurgun jumped back as one carliff swung at him and as he did he saw out of the corner of his eye Nelise scamper under the bed; he did not see Talise, she was probably with Cali.

Both of the huge carliffs came at him. One swung the staff low trying to break his legs. Niurgun jumped over the arcing staff, flipped in the air and landed behind the carliff. He sunk one of the needle blades deep into his lung but before he could render a kill shot the other carliff was on him bringing down his staff like a hammer. Niurgun dodged it again and this time he sliced the staff in two; the magpulse end hit the floor and rolled away. The carliff snarled and lunged; its huge feline teeth snapped so close to Niurgun’s face he felt the splatter of saliva.

The carliff had made a fatal mistake however in coming too close. As Niurgun’s bent back to avoid the snapping jaws he brought both nanoblades up in a crossed position and sliced outward cleanly taking the carliffs head off. As it tumbled forward to the ground it hit Niurgun in the chest. Blood was everywhere and the floor was slick with it.

The remaining carliff lunged at him but Niurgun was much quicker. He had been trained in Thracian style hand to hand combat since he was seven years old and he wasn’t about to be bested by a beast . As he rolled to avoid the staff he saw the magpulse he had cut off of the other staff lying on the floor near the bed.

He put both nanoblades in one hand and scooped up the magpulse but when he did he slipped in the puddle of blood that had oozed from the neck stump of the dead carliff. Niurgun slid onto his back hitting the bloody floor hard. The carliff saw his chance and raised the staff over his head with both hands to bring it down on Niurgun’s skull.

As the carliff raised his huge arms Niurgun flung the magpulse at the beast’s chest. It hit him directly in the sternum breaking his ribs and exploding his heart. The giant man-beast dropped like a stone. Niurgun turned his attention immediately to the vile little creature under the bed.

“Come out now Nelise. Don’t make me have to come under there and get you.”

Muffled noises came from under the bed but she didn’t come out. He disengaged his holomask because he wanted Nelise to know exactly who had her. Niurgun dropped to his knees and then squeezed under the giant bed. Finally he managed to grab one of Nelise’s fat little hind legs and he drug her out from under the bed screaming and kicking.

He held her up high in the air by her leg.

“Stop screaming you little coward. As much as I would like to and as much as you deserve it I am not going to kill you, so shut up before I change my mind.”

Nelise stopped struggling and just hung limp. Niurgun knew that Cali commanded that one of the sisters remain in her chamber at all times while Cali was on Availon. To leave meant certain death and that was why Nelise had not jumped from the room as soon as he had appeared. She feared Cali more than him.

“Where are Cali and the sender called Rowan?”

“Why should I tell you moron, you said you would not kill me.” Nelise mocked. “I know you Niurgun, so good, so kind; you don’t have the balls” She laughed a squeaky piggish laugh.

Niurgun reached down and picked up the magpulse.

“No, but I did not say I wouldn’t break every bone in your worthless body you little abomination,”

Nelise eyed the magpulse.

“Well it doesn’t matter whether I tell you or not,” she said, “there is nothing you can do about it so I will gladly tell you. Cali is at this very moment on the summer moon officiating at the Ceremony of Promise between her son Lord Brannoc and the sender Rowan.”

Niurgun unceremoniously let go of Nelise’s leg letting her drop directly on her head. He did not even look down at her as she lay motionless on the bloody floor. No wonder the streets were empty, half the population of Titania would be at the ceremony. He walked to the window and looked up into the evening sky. He could see two of Availon’s four moons very close to each other just rising over the horizon. Brannoc and Rowan married, he had to stop that from happening.

He had planned to jump into the Academy from Cali’s chambers, it was the only way in or out for anyone still wearing a training collar but now he knew he had to get to the summer moon. Making a sight line jump to a moon was a bit risky so Niurgun pulled up the coordinates on his comp. He started to jump but then he realized he was covered in blood. He could set the holomask to whole body but if anyone touched him the illusion would be discovered. The second carliff was not in the blood puddle so Niurgun pulled off his clothes and put them on. The carliff had been wearing a loose cream colored linen tunic and trousers. The clothes were a bit big but not too bad and at least his tattoos were covered; no one could tell he was Thracian, it would have to do. Niurgun pulled up the coordinates to the royal pavilion on the summer moon and he jumped.

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