For several days the city had been buzzing with rumours, rumours that one of the most fiercened clans was coming to their town for a visit.
Usually Master Akila was a calm and descent man, but since the leader of the visiting clan had agreed to stay in his house during their visit, her master was curt and irritable towards her. Well, not only to her, the two other slaves and his children suffered just as hard.
She wondered why the clan, and especially her master were so nervous about the fact that another clan was passing by, it wasn’t that they never got any visitors… On the contrary, every year there were three festivities organized to mingle with the other clans and people stayed over, but this clan seemed to be different... more savage...
"NIEVE!!" Her master’s thunderous voice startled her out of her reverie, and she hurried to her master’s chamber.
"Where were you?! Never mind! I need you to get the guest rooms ready! Plans have changed and the Darkiri clan will be arriving tonight!!" Nieve’s eyes widened in shock.
Shit! She hadn’t taken that into account! None of the rooms were ready yet and one of the male slaves had been loaned to Akila’s son to help him with rebuilding a roof, and would not return until two days.
"I know it’s short notice, but I’m assuming you’ll have the three guest quarters ready in two hours, won’t you?" Nieve swallowed and looked at him with desperate eyes.
Seeing his penetrating, almost imploring look, she sighed deeply and straightened her shoulders. “I’m going to do my best, master.” And she gave him a little nod.
A small smile appeared on the big man’s lips. ”I know, Nieve... What would I do without you..."
She hurried through the halls to find Rose. What would I do without you... pfft... Maybe he should kick his daughter in the ass! She was a good girl, but she was only looking for opponents to beat in combat instead of looking for a suitable partner! If she were gone, running this household would be a lot easier and less messy.
But Ayli, her masters daughter, had no intention to go and look around for a suitable partner. She’d already told Nieve in confidence that she didn’t mind giving birth to a few pups, but a partner... she wasn’t looking for that...
Nieve found Rose at the rear of the complex in the garden, tending to the plants and vegetables, something Nieve had a lot of respect for, as she had absolutely no green thumb herself and even managed to pull it off to let a cactus die.
“Rose! I need your help! The guests aren’t coming in two days, they’re coming tonight!” The young girl turned around with a startled face.
“Are you serious?! Then we’re really fucked! The linen isn’t completely dry yet, and... and the bathrooms... I haven’t dusted or cleaned anything yet!!”
“I know, I know!” Nieve rubbed her face in a desperate gesture.
“We’re going to have to start dividing up the chores. There’s three quarters that need to be done, we’ll start with the fabrics, then the bathrooms, and finally we’ll do the linens. You take the blue room and I’ll take the green one, we’ll do the yellow one as last.”
Although all rooms were basically the same, each room had a coloured door and the room behind it contained ditto coloured accessories. Some kind of sofa with a fur dyed the same colour, candles, plants and even a small basin where you could wash your face and hands upon entering, which was the same shade as the door.
“Hey, did you cut your hair again?” Rose frowned at her.
The girl herself had her long hair, which reached to her waist, braided in various strands and decorated with beads, feathers and coloured strips of fabric.
“Yup! It was getting too long again...” From the corner of her eye, Nieve saw Rose shaking her head disapprovingly.
“Why don’t you want to blend in like me? I mean, with that short hair of yours, you stand out!” Nieve grinned and shook her head at the girl.
“Come on Rose! With or without long hair we’ll always look different! We are human! Short, soft, big round eyes, a nose, blunt teeth, no tusks or claws and then our skin...! Sorry sweetheart to burst your bubble, but no matter how you’re trying to blend in, we’ll always look different from the Ky’Tain...” Rose shrugged her shoulders in resignation.
Both women worked very hard and by the time they finished it was almost time for the guests to arrive.
“Oh my God! I smell like a skunk.” Nieve bowed her head slightly and sniffed. “Wow! I’m going to take a shower before I continue with the food, I can hardly serve the food if I smell so bad!” Together they walked to their own quarters.
Meanwhile the ship of the Darkiri clan had landed and the leader, his son and his commander had been taken to Akila’s complex, the rest of the Darkiri remained in and around the ship.
"Welcome, clan leader Ma’cté, and you too, Commander Ka’bté and Commander Thar’n... Welcome to my house. My slaves have prepared your quarters to make your stay as pleasant as possible." The three men nodded curtly to the clan leader.
"We thank you for your hospitality and I’m sorry that our visit had to be modified, but my son’s mate is about to give birth and we don’t want to be gone any longer than necessary."
Akila nodded. Although it was not customary in his clan for a man or father to be present at the birth of a child, he knew that it was customary in some, especially savage clans, all the more so because most clans were struggling with a growing number of infertile men and women. Every pup that was born these days was actually a small miracle. ”May I ask how many pups you and your mate have?"
The man nodded at him proudly and began to laugh. "Ofcourse you may ask. If the delivery goes well, we can expect our fourth pup soon." Akila’s mouth fell open in surprise. Four pups?! He hadn’t heard that in ages!
"Ohhh... well then I hope all goes well indeed! Four young ones! You are a blessed man, if I may be so bold!"
Ka’bté grinned, showing sharp tusks. ”Thank you clan leader, the Darkiri should consider themselves lucky anyway, most of our men have fathered several young."
The old leader looked at his guests in surprise. He had heard the rumours, but was genuinely surprised to learn that the rumours were true. ”Then I hope that your stay here will also bear fruit." The Darkiri leader started to grin.
"I think some of my men will certainly be prepared to do so..."
In the meantime Akila had walked with his guests to the guest quarters. ”This is your abode, Clan Leader... I hope you will like the quarters..."
As the two leaders exchanged pleasantries, Thar’n became aware of a strange odour wafting through the hallway. As unobtrusively as possible he tried to determine where the smell was coming from, unfortunately he was forced to walk on when his leader had entered his quarters and closed the door behind him. The next room was for Ka’bté and here too the whole courtesy tune was played. Thar’n noticed that the smell was getting stronger and he had to do his best not to open his mouth wide to take in the smell even better.
“Are you ready?" The old clan leader looked questioningly at Thar’n and the warrior nodded. ”My apologies, I was just thinking..."
Arriving at his quarters, Thar’n thanked his host just as his leader and co-commander had done and stepped into his chamber. The smell in the room was much stronger here and a shiver ran down his spine. A rustle of sheets came from the sleeping chamber and Thar’n made his way to the bedroom as quietly as possible.
All of a sudden the door slid open and a small light-coloured creature stepped out and his eyes widened in surprise. A human female!
A shriek of terror escaped Nieve at the sight of the tall Ky’Tain that had suddenly appeared in front of her. Unable to utter a sensible word at the sight of the strange man, she could only look at him with wide, terrified eyes. She had never seen a Ky’Tain warrior look so strange.
At seven and a half feet he was well above the average Ky’Tain man, but it didn’t stop there.
While all Ky’Tain had leathery skin made up of multiple, subdued shades, this man’s body was made up of shades Nieve had never seen before, and she let her eyes wander over his body in amazement. Most of his body and head were quite dark in colour, a dark greyish brown hue, but the stripes and spots that criss-crossed his body and face went from a dark orange to an almost luminescent yellow and everything in between. But where his body, neck and back of his head were quite dark, his face, and neck on the other hand, were very light.
The ascending skull that all Ky’Tain had, was quite smooth on his, but the rim was much coarser and more pointier than she had ever seen.
Like his peers, he had the same thick, leathery hair, but with much thinner strands in between, something that made it look as if his hair was many times thicker than that of her clan mates.
Her eyes drifted to its face and her throat caught breath at the sight of the large sharp tusks protruding from its upper jaw, but what shocked her most was the double row of teeth it had in its lower jaw.
When the giant tilted his head, Nieve realized she had been brazenly surveying the man and quickly lowered her eyes. Her cheeks turned red with embarrassment and she felt her hands begin to shake with fear. How stupid could she have been to look at a warrior this openly? It was considered a great insult when a slave gazed a Ky’Tain this openly.
Only among the Ky’Tain themselves, those who had a potential mating partner in mind, were allowed to do so, but as for slaves, this was not tolerated at all.
Dead still, Nieve waited for what was to come. She wouldn’t be surprised if the male would show her every corner of the room. The fact that Akila was quite a kind master to her did not mean that the rest of the Ky’Tain people treated them the same way. On the contrary, to most of them she was little more than a piece of vermin.
In front of her, she heard the man start to sniff and she flinched. “I’m sorry! I know I stink but I was just on my way to freshen up when I realized I forgot the linen...” This was guaranteed to give her a beating, and she felt how her legs just like her hands started to shake.
"Stink? Your smell is strong, little human… but to say you stink..."
Her heart skipped as she heard the man’s deep baritone voice close to her ear and a wave of goosebumps ran down her body. She glanced sideways to see the giant’s face next to hers, her stomach clenching at the sight of his huge head and the predatory look in his eye.
Her eyes widened as he pushed his head into her neck and she felt his tongue caressing her neck. “What are you doing?”
Nieve’s voice was nothing more than a trembling whispered, and her heart raced like a madman at the unexpected contact.
She quickly took a step back and looked at him with frightened eyes. She’d heard rumours of the savage clans eating humans, and looking at his razor-sharp teeth and those two gigantic tusks, Nieve couldn’t believe they were just fables.
"I wanted to know how you would taste..." His matter-of-fact comment made every hair stand on end.
“Your skin tastes salty from sweat, but underneath… you taste... warm, nutty... Spicy, yet sweet. I’d like to taste more..." And she saw a grin form on his snout, and his gaze drilled into hers.
“Master Akila will certainly not appreciate it when you take a bite out of me!!” She shrieked with a horrified look on her face.
Nieve watched his eyes widen upon hearing her terrified words, then his eyes narrowed into slits as his grin widened.
"Take a bite out of you, huh... woman, I’d love to taste you, but in a slightly different way than you’re probably assume..." It took a few seconds for his words to sink in and her eyes widened at his innuendo.
“What? You can’t be serious?!” Quickly she darted past him and as if the devil was on her heels she ran away. Behind her she heard him snickering and goosebumps ran all over her skin.