I sit in the tent.
They bring me food, they bring me water- their gaze never focused on me. But I stare at them, looking at them, accusing them with my eyes.
Promising silently, that punishment would fall.
Strange that power intoxicated someone so much.
Even when you had none.
Only a title to wear.
They told me I was a goddess, but those were only words.
What had been my actions to prove that? What had been my movements to make it so?
I hear them outside- my guard unit who had pledged themselves to me. I hear the females. Some males.
I hear them asking for me.
I feel a smile come to my face when Hirog, Jesper or Nash enter the tent.
They had not expected the Great Leader to be gone for so long.
Their orders were starting to stretch over a week, and the problem of my confinement was becoming known to the rest of the tribe.
They wanted me.
Thought they needed me.
Hirog and Nash seemed abash- as if they wished desperately that they could take back their actions and retract their words.
Jesper was a demon in human skin.
A monster that Roark had somehow managed to train and make loyal to him.
Monsters did not like to be confronted with fear and the presence of something scarier than themselves. Monsters wanted to claim that title for their own.
One day, as I looked at him, he struck at me- suddenly and swiftly.
I tasted blood within my mouth as my lip split open.
“Those eyes…” It was the only thing Jesper had whispered to me before he left.
And now, almost two weeks in, the tribe was done.
They wanted me.
I heard them screaming for my name. Shouting for my presence.
You do not lock something holy in the darkness. Something that saves should not be confined into shadows.
Give her to us, give her to us.
I swayed to their calling. I listened to the lies that had been spoken as Nash and Hirog conjured up an illness that I did not have.
I could have shouted. I could have exposed them and I know they feared it.
But it was that power- that presence of me within the tent, the danger that loomed over their heads- it would make it that much sweeter when he finally came back to see what he had caused.
He came without warning or announcement.
The flap to the tent opened unexpectedly. I looked up, expecting maybe Hirog, Jesper or Nash as it had always been - but it was him.
Roark stood in the doorway, stunned for once. I watched the confusion in his eyes before a red mist seemed to cloud over and transform what little features could be seen.
If he was a monster- oh...if he was a monster...
I could see the transformation now, that the beast would take.
Those hands that were curling in on themselves would become claws, letting palms bleed. Those teeth- teeth I had not seen but felt run along my neck- would become like the canines of a wolf.
His body would not become the one of mortal men but of a hell hound that stood along death.
Or maybe- he was death itself.
And just as quickly as he was there- he was gone.
I had not been able to say a single word to him. But I hear their shouting outside.
They are angry.
Why was I in there? Why did he keep me away from them? How selfish of their leader. Why did he covet something that belonged to all?
That might have been another reasoning for why I never called out to them. Because I knew, in the depts of my heart, that as much as they wished for me to be with them- they did not wish it for the safety of my own wellness. It was for them. It was for a diety that they thought they knew.
They could care less about me.
It was Mikabellum that they loved.
My thoughts are ripped away from me as the entrance is forcefully opened and the three males that had kept me imprisoned are thrown inside.
I see Tuva behind the Great Leader, and it is only then that I remember his existence.
It was only then that I acknowledge just how much fear I had actually felt these past few weeks without the Great Leader overshadowing me. So much that my mind felt scattered.
“What is this?”
He is not talking to me. He is addressing his men. They are sitting on the floor, their eyes looking up to their Great Leader.
“We are following your orders.”
“I told you to watch her.”
“We have done so.” All three bow their heads. I cannot detect any fear in them. Nothing to trace that they had feared his coming arrival these past few days.
His black eyes fall on me.
“Who struck her.”
We both are staring at the other. My eyes do not leave him. I can feel myself calling him. Pleading with him to come to me.
He seems in a trance as he walks to me, following my unspoken command.
The males who watch have to blink twice as they witness their Great Leader fall to his knees in front of me.
His hand stretches out, tracing the blood that has dried upon my face. The injury to my lip.
“Hello my lioness,” he whispers to me.
I feel a thickness invade my throat at his words. Tears might threaten to escape from me. I feared him. I feared them all. I thought they were all monsters, they were all demons, they all deserved to go to hell, to burn to die.
But he was a monster I would allow to touch me.
And I hated that just that touch of his hand, and just that whisper of his words- made me feel infinitely safe. That a weight I had been carrying these past two weeks suddenly fell away.
I wanted to wrap my arms around him and embrace something warm.
My voice came out broken.
And I could see the widening of his eyes as that single word entranced him closer to me.
He stood then, turning to look down at the three males.
“Who. Struck. Her.”
Jesper raises his head, no fear showing in his eyes.
I am raised in anticipation for what will happen next. I expect him to act immediately. For him to not hesitate as he takes his sword forged from the fallen and sets the proper example to its origin.
But he only stands over Jesper, something unspoken passing between them.
I want to scream the words.
My own bloodlust startles me. It scares me.
It reminds me of the Great Leader’s own thoughts as war and battles are floating in his mind.
I have come to be like the three males who are sitting before me. We all, in some twisted cruel way, had come to be molded in the shape and image of the male who was standing before us.
“Mikabellum...what is his punishment.”
I look down, my shoulders following my head.
Of course. I had forgotten the Onism tribe way.
You dealt your own punishment for those who had wronged you. And after all- I was the goddess of war. I should want to have the mercy of this male at my hands.
“Everyone leave. Everyone but Jesper.”
Roark reaches down, pulling out a knife, but I shake my head.
I see a startled look on all of their faces as they take me in. I am still sitting, but my eyes are looking now to Roark.
“Will my punishment be accepted?”
Roark seems hesitant. I smile openly at his body language- the action only making him cross his arms to tilt his head, and take me in.
“I accept it.”
Jesper’s voice seems confident. He is looking at me as if none of it will matter. He was a male who could withstand enormous pain. Nothing a weak female could do to him would amount to anything within his mind.
Slowly the males leave.
“Seal the entrance.”
Roark pauses, the last to depart. Our eyes connect and I feel something spark between us. I smile at him, my hand rising to reach for my throat as I slowly stroke it.
His eyes widen before they narrow. He shakes his head.
I wonder if he will turn around.
He knows. He knows and I can read the frustration painted in his eyes because this was not only a punishment for Jesper- It was a punishment for him.
The entrance is closed and Jesper suddenly seems uneasy with just us.
I stand then, walking closer to him.
“Close your eyes.”
He looks down at me, and I think, it’s that moment that he realizes what I want to do.
“You wouldn’t…” his voice is hoarse. I love that look of fear in his grey eyes as they glance towards the entrance. His escape.
“Close your eyes.”
He does with reluctance. And then I whisper the impossible to him.
“Take off your scarf.” I tug gently at the material that is wrapped around his head.
He is immobile.
His eyes are peeling back open, but my hand covers them.
“He’s outside,” I whisper, thrilled at the power I hold. “Don’t disappoint your Great Leader with your weakness. You said you would accept it. You said you would.”
“You are cruel.” His voice is strained. It is the first time I have heard Jesper’s voice reach such a low.
He had always had a chilling attitude. Always maintained control of his vocals that seemed monotone and dangerous.
Now it wavered.
Just as his hands did as slowly, they pull back the cloth that had been covering his head.
Hair as black as midnight comes into my view. A face that is beautiful, even with the scar that covers the right cheek.
Stretching from the ear to the chin- it is something grotesque and sinister. It had been poorly sewn back together.
My fingers trace the line.
And that’s when Jesper breaks.
His hand captures mine, stopping its motion.
I see a hardness in his gaze as his eyes flash open.
We stare at each other.
“Hello,” I whisper, smiling down at him. I crawl forward, coming to let my legs go around as I sit within his lap.
“No…” he tries to push me off but I only lock my legs tighter.
He is shivering, something invading his body. I look at him then. Really look at him.
He stops to stare at me.
“You said you would accept it.”
“This is the cruelest thing you could have done.”
I tilt my head, and without a sound, raise my hands to let them run through his hair.
He gasps, a sound of such pain coming to him.
I don’t say anything.
On the inside, I am conflicted. I did not think it would cause this much distress in him. It reminded me too much of when the Great Leader would force himself upon me. When other males had forced themselves upon me. And I felt guilty at that. Guilt because I knew the feeling so well.
“You hurt me.”
My broken words are whispered out. He stares at me, something in him stopping to look at me. Really look at me.
“I was following my orders.”
“You did something to me against my will.”
And I see that click in his eyes.
As slowly his mouth opens slightly, and his eyebrows rise in astonishment.
I smile at his realization.
“I-...” Jesper seems at a loss for words.
I repeat my action of letting my fingers run through his hair. His shivering has stopped, and for some reason, hesitantly, his hands have come to softly rest on my hips. He seems confused at the situation.
I lean forward and slowly, begin to take his shirt off.
His shivering restarts. I look up to meet his gaze, something close to anger beginning to form in his face. But he does not stop me.
I open the shirt.
I can’t help but gasp at the different patterns that are arranged on his skin.
“Beautiful,” I trace the ink. He shivers again, but this time I know it is from something different. I can tell as I sit on his lap.
He does not speak. He only stares down, watching me.
“Do you know what this means?” I whisper to him.
He remains silent, looking at where my fingers go.
“You are bound to me. I have seen your skin. I know your secrets. Not even your Leader knows your weakness as I do.”
“I follow the Great Leader.”
“And who does the Great Leader follow?”
Clear conflict is on his face as I point to a star that is upon his collar bone.
“I was born on a night with one star.”
I look to where a jagged slash is across his stomach. He inhales sharply at my touch, his hand shooting out to grab my arm, but slowly, cautiously, he releases it.
“I do not like thunder.”
“There was a storm just a few weeks ago,” I murmur.
“Yes,” he seems hesitant before he continues, “I stay in my tent. I cover my ears.”
“Why do you not like them?” I lean forward, resting my head upon the shoulders of the monster, feeling my legs curl up as my arms wrap around his neck.
If I had been shown yesterday, this image of today, I would have thrown up at the thought that I would be in the arms of such a male.
It was another male I wanted. Another one whose touch I craved, but for some reason, this punishment was making me realize a starvation that I had been unaware of.
When the human is cut off from any communication- from the sensation of touch or connection for so long. You started to crave it from anything.
And the whispers of Jesper’s voice made the monster that he was gather up to retract his claws, and push back his teeth.
A monster was not always one.
Only if you managed to tame it and make it yours.
“My first battle was in a storm…” he is reluctant to talk, but my fingers are slowly moving up and down his chest, taking in other patterns, and tracing more designs. They prompt him to continue.
“My mother died during a storm.”
“The Onism tribe came to my tribe during a storm.”
“You were taken?” I ask.
“Sometimes I wonder if there really was a storm, or if he was the storm itself. No. I was not taken.”
I continued to ask him questions. Continued to prompt him on what each symbol meant.
He was a general. He served the Great Leader. He was a male in his 20s. He loved to kill. To spill red.
“I have no soul.”
I sat up then. He seemed startled at my movement. He had grown used to me in his arms, and the thought clearly made him uncomfortable.
“I wanted him to kill you.”
Jesper tilts his head and smiles at my admittance.
“But then he made it my choice.”
“He does that. You want the destruction, but it becomes harder when you are the one who starts the flame.”
I wanted to voice that those very words were probably the reason for why the Great Leader never did his own killing and instead looked to Jesper. But staring at the male now, I could oddly see the unspoken acknowledgment.
And then the unexpected happens.
Jesper leans forward, and briefly, his lips touch mine.
I don’t react. My voice of wanting to scream is pushed down.
The image I must maintain is holding on by a thread.
“I…” he seems bewildered at his own actions.
“Who do you serve?”
He freezes. His hands grip me tightly, and I see that war- that war of what he knows versus what he is feeling now- raging on in his mind.
I pull up against him, letting my body press upon his own. Our skin press together. My bare outfit that the females of the Onism wore making his eye grow dizzy.
“Who do you kill for?”
I move to him, pressing my lips to his. Moving against him. I hear a moan leave his lips. I hear it and inside, a triumphant sound cracks within me.
“Do you serve the mortal- or the divine?”
My lips trail to his scar. The scar upon his cheek. And I feel the salt of his tears as his hands slowly leave my skin, his eyes widen in awe.
“You are mine, Jesper.”
His tears are freely coming now. I press my lips to them. I push them aside, watching the monster before me cry.
“Your soul is restored.”
I stand, and as I do so, he falls to my feet, his hands not daring to touch my skin. Not daring to touch something so divine,
I am laying on the floor of the tent, a smile on my face.
I hear someone approaching. I look up to see the Great Leader.
We gaze at each other, not speaking.
He abruptly turns to the entrance, releasing the flap and closing the entrance.
I don’t move- closing my eyes to block him out.
It’s a mistake.
My small victory that was unnoticed by all had gone to much into my head. I feel his hands roughly pull me up.
I gasp as he tears off the top of my clothes.
I freeze. He has pulled up a chair and is sitting there now, gazing up at me. But there is nothing soft in his eyes. Only a dangerous promise of what will happen if I do not do as I am told.
Slowly I turn, letting him see all of me.
I take that off as well, turning again.
He is staring intensely at me, his eyes flickering up and down my whole length. There is no heat in those eyes, however. Nothing sparking between us. He is looking for something, and when he does not find it, he leans back, his eyes closing.
“I always seem to underestimate you.”
I am dumbstruck by his words.
Hesitantly, slowly, I approach him.
It is not like with Jesper. With him, I held a power I knew I could hold. Something I could have to my advantage.
But with the Great Leader, it was as if I was running in the dark. I did not know where to go, or what to do. What action meant what, or if anything proved to be useful and right.
I move closer and his hands come out, pulling me to him.
It is unsettling to me that I am back in the same position I was in just an hour ago, only with a different male.
However, the difference is clearly felt upon my skin.
Only cloth is rubbing against me, nothing else to connect to- but a heat that I did not feel before is settling into my body.
He repositions me, letting my naked body curl up and be surrounded by his arms. Slowly I close my eyes, resting my head upon his shoulder.
“My lioness…” I hear the emphasis in his words. Knew the double meaning he wished to convey. But I ignored his intent and only continued to breathe in and out.
“Where did you go?”
He does not answer, telling me it was something I could not know. My eyes open to stare at him as his finger goes to softly reach for my hair.
He takes one glove off. All the skin he seems to ever reveal to me.
Slowly, his fingers run down my mane.
“What did you do to him?”
My face is impassive.
We both cannot answer the other’s questions.
A low growl vibrates in his throat. It bothers him. It bothers him that he cannot know.
“I’m not yours.”
A fact I constantly seem to be reminding him of.
“I am Mikabellum. I am the goddess of war and the bringer of death. I cannot belong to you.”
His dark gaze sucks me in. Like a void that drowns me - a starless sky.
“Sometimes…” his voice is less than a whisper as he moves closer to be heard, “sometimes I wish you were mine. Only mine.”
I look away from his stare, trying and failing to appear unaffected by what he had said.
“I’m not something to cage.”
There is silence. I glance back to see that he is still looking at me. There is a sadness in his gaze, one that makes me reach for him without even realizing it.
He sighs. A sigh that drowns out the whole world as he pulls me closer to him.
I do what I wanted to do since the moment I saw him this morning. Slowly, I wrap my arms around him, pulling myself to press against- leaving no space.
His bare hands trace my skin, searing the flesh in the path they take.
No words are spoken, and as I continue to look at his gaze, I wonder yet again, what could be going on within the Great Leader’s mind.
Suddenly he turns to me, his face bending down to let our foreheads kiss. Clothe meets skin, but the action startles me in the pure intimacy- even if he was holding my naked figure.
The movement caused something to stir within me. A feeling of belonging that I quickly pushed to the side.
It made me cautious. Cautious as to what he was doing and why he was acting so affectionate. What did he want from me? What was he hoping to find- what weakness would he gain from this.
He laughs, his eyes so close- so close.
I don’t look away from his gaze, feeling the never-ending darkness that his vision has.
“Red. Such beautiful red.” His fingers go up to touch my face.
I don’t say a word as he pulls away from me and slowly stands with me still in his arms.
“I would let you sleep, Mikabellum, but they need to see you.”
He sets me down, allowing for me to get dressed. But the moment I am done he reaches for me.
I pull away from his arms, hissing at his action.
I still, remembering what had happened the last time I said those words to a male.
He straightens, looking at me with amusement.
“Let me show you to them.”
“I can show myself.”
Without another word, I run past him and out of the tent.
He was right- they were waiting.
Not all, but many of the tribe.
And as I emerged from the structure a roar of their faith rose up to my ears. They began crying my name and chanting my songs. Their tears soon were flowing and feet stomping in recognition of my presence.
I can’t remember if there is a custom I should follow- something I should do that will make their screams become louder.
I only raise my hands to the sky and scream with them, adding to their cry.