The celebration continued for the second night in a row as if it had never stopped. If anything, it only got crazier and made Alfred’s hall look closer to a manor of insanity.
Natir felt the hair on the back of her neck rise when she saw a man waging his own hand by asking another to hold it still against a wall while the one they had dared prepared to throw an axe at it.
The axe missed the man’s arm by a hair; Natir inhaled with relief.
Natir shook her head. The men had lost their minds and gone wild with desire. The music, drinks, dancers, gambling, outrageous games, and sex were everywhere she looked.
Natir was the only one not in a festive mood. She was very disappointed for not getting her tribal mark yet, and she worried even more for Alfred after what had happened with the priestess.
She glanced at him as he laughed and drank on his throne, enjoying a dancer’s performance like he had not a care in the world, but she knew better than to fall for his act.
Natir was startled out of her mind when one of the dancers was thrown, back against the table, right in front of her. The dancer yelped with joy and scattered the drinks and food on Natir and all over the floor.
Right away, the man who had thrown the dancer got up on the table as well.
“Hold this yaahh! Wait! Hold this for me,” the dancer shrieked as she desperately offered Natir her cup of wine.
Acting on instinct, Natir took the cup before it could drop while the dancer screamed and twisted and shot her arms and legs into the air, laughing mad with thrill, and putting up a phony fight as the man on top of her ripped her clothes off and got down to it in a hurry.
The moans and soiled whispers rose.
The two were quickly indulged in rough lovemaking right in front of Natir, causing her to turn sideways in her seat.
Looking away didn’t help much; they were within her arm’s reach and, what’s worse, the dancer turned out to be a screamer. She was soon deafening Natir with her cries of sweet agony.
She noticed Alfred staring at her with a smirk.
A sudden wave of heat washed over Natir. She couldn’t maintain the eye contact, so she averted her gaze, smiling ear to ear, and took little sips from the dancer’s cup.
All her worries were pushed to the back of her mind in a heartbeat, replaced only by Alfred’s promise of spending her night in his arms.
Butterflies danced in her belly.
The taste of sexual embarrassment was something new to Natir. The life she had had so far alienated such normal feelings to her chest. She didn’t quite know how to handle it… And that annoying dancer was taking forever to get it done with!
Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, Natir spotted someone unexpected entering the hall. Natir’s face turned snow-pale in an instant.
Alfred and Tarania were alerted as well, their eyes nailed to the newcomer.
With everyone indulged into their own pleasures the way they were, very few noticed her, and those who did were baffled by the unusual presence and whispered among themselves as she walked by them.
“What is she doing here?”
“Is that her?”
“Why is she here? What’s going on?”
“Her eyes are unfolded.”
Natir could feel that something bad was about to happen. Everyone knew the priestesses of Alaunius never unfolded their eyes except to see prophecies.
As the priestess made her way at a steady pace, holding a copper bowl in her hands, Alfred got off his throne and raised his cup with hospitality.
Before the word was fully out of his mouth, the priestess splattered the black substance she had in her bowl all over the hall.
It fell everywhere—on the tables, the food, the drinks and the guests—taking everyone by shock.
The yelps of surprise and the commotion were immediately followed by stunned silence as everyone noticed what was going on.
A man raised his arm to his face, sniffing the liquid that fell on his sleeve, and in a flash he jumped to his feet.
Chaos erupted and the screams sounded from everywhere as everyone jumped to their feet, taking their tainted clothes off, escaping to the sides, throwing away the food and drinks or wiping the poison off their skin.
Natir was overwhelmed with panic same as everyone else. She immediately threw the cup which she suspected the poison had gotten into and jumped to her feet, inspecting herself.
The dancer bumped into Natir as she escaped the table screaming, causing Natir to fall, where she barely supported her upper half just in time to not hit her face on the floor where a puddle of poison was waiting for her.
She hurried to her feet again and retreated from the center.
After the short chaotic scene, the hall fell into silence again with everyone eyeing the priestess.
Affirming his control, Alfred put on a humorous act; he raised his hands to his sides and turned his face left and right then back to the priestess again.
“Are you trying to tell me something?”
The priestess said, “You left without your answer, so I came to deliver.”
She glanced at Natir and their eyes met for but a flashing moment before the priestess turned on her heels and left.
Natir sucked in a deep breath.
Even though the priestess’s gaze was only momentarily, as if she had never meant it, still it was enough to send a bout of the jitters through Natir’s skin and cause her to forget how to breathe.
She trailed the priestess’s back, as though hypnotized, as she headed to the door with everyone hurrying out of her way, and soon, she disappeared into the dark from which she had come.