The crackle of the fires burning brighter, signify that he is coming. We’ve all been waiting for him.
“The Magus Sovrex Callista!” he’s introduced by our leading Healer, though I cannot see him yet in the fire light, the only light in the dark.
We all line the Firewalk, where Sovrex warriors dance forward left and right to introduce the Magus. The King.
The Sovrex Tribe ruled the Dampwater – a place of plenty.
The rest of our smaller tribes hunted boar, and survived off fat insects or trading rare berries.
While the Sovrex Tribe ate like kings.
I stand at the far back of the girls all presented, keeping my head down, after wearing nothing but a wolf’s coat. It covered me. Unlike the girls wearing nothing but beads and paint to attract Callista’s attention.
After all, he was here to choose a slave to his manhood. A child bearer, one of us would soon become, to impregnate and probably die giving birth to what monster might arrive into the light of this world.
Drums beat low, fading out, as the rattles of older women cease due to the final approach of Magus Callister. Not just a King of this land but the punisher of the Sleetr; the people below him, outside of his Tribe. If you disobeyed him, you paid in blood.
Now, however, we were needed as we provided use for their lust. They all needed more women of all kinds, and already the first girls are picked by the head warriors, led by their shoulder and pulled into the dance.
Some of the girls are pleased, but some are rightly terrified.
I, however, was different. I had my plan to be avoided.
You see; presentation for the Sovrex was everything.
To appear below average was a spit in the face to their presence. You had to look presentable and desirable.
Which is probably why my mother is so distraught, standing back in the trees, I feel her glare through the back of my head.
She was persistent this morning.
Yehseeka, put your shoes on.
Yehseeka, braid your hair.
Yehseeka, make some paint for your body.
Yehseeka, Yehseeka, Yehseeka. Why don’t I eat fucking rocks? I wish I could do that instead, with how out of place I feel right now. I had never felt like the Breeding kind of woman. I feel like, and am, a warrior!
Females could be warriors and often were trained to be – but you could not be just that.
However, that’s all I wanted.
That’s all I cared about.
I killed a wolf for its skin when I was ten.
I wear that garment now with pride, while I hide at the back.
There were at least a hundred of us, and most at the back were ignored for being ugly anyway. The chances of being interrogated for disrespect were slim to none when there were plenty of other choices anyway.
The only special occurrence of tonight’s Sleetr trade, was Magus’ presence.
And his Will.
For why would a Magus need a wife, when he could impregnate every female around?
For some reason, now he needs one to serve him.
Everyone wanted to be the Morgan. The Queen to serve him.
I listen as the girls in front of me stop chanting under their breath as they stop breathing, to stare at the dark giant.
My eyes lift from the shoulders of the many girls in front of me, to see Callista in the flesh, walking slowly over the coals. Torches burn the light into his presence, and he’s covered in Inck. Permanent markings injected with poison, cover every inch of him in tribal marks and whorls.
He’s also beyond imagination, built by sinew and muscle. There is no hint of a gentle soul in his hard stone mouth which is unmoving, as he stands barefoot on the Firewalk, halting to look over the girls waiting.
All have stopped looking directly at him, all look downward. I follow their gazes, and try not to snort at how scared they all are. Now they don’t want to be chosen.
Who would be?
Only an experienced female should take him on, not girls becoming women. He was on another plane. The Shamanic Plane to be exact. He could summon and talk to spirits. Of bears. And any beast of the land, from what I heard.
Someone cries from the shadows in celebration as Callista finally makes a move.
I glance up as we all do, to see him standing off the coals, in front of the girls just in front of me.
But due to his height, he looks over all.
And his eyes happen to land right on me.
The Magus Sovrex Callista.
I stare right back, my smirk barely contained.
I had a very ingrained habit of being challenging to the males. I had learned young to teach them their place, before they taught me mine. That could sometimes involve unnecessary violence. You had to be fierce immediately, or risk rape and death from lonely fevered warriors caught by the moon’s frenzy.
Without a word, the girls in front of me start to shuffle aside, as Callista’s obsidian whorls for eyes don’t stray from mine.
When the line of defence in front of me has shuffled enough to make way…
…I lose my cocky smirk.
Oh, Sun, I was dead.
That is what it feels like in the pit of my stomach – a heavy slow moving death – as the Magus Callista walks toward me and dwarfs my size by almost double. Now in my space, he takes the wolf coat by the edges and rips it apart, to see what’s underneath.
I had no paint.
I had never wanted to follow the tribal fashion. I just wanted to run free without getting caught on things. I hear my mother crying in the trees, as Callista’s eyes wrack over my insultingly naked body.
Did I mention he sometimes ate the Sleetrs he punished?
“Your name?” Callista’s voice is loud, and unafraid as he slowly leans down to my level, looking to catch my eyes, straying anywhere but his. I glance at him briefly, my name stuck in my throat from pure abandon of senses. I would not submit but I could not talk either, even if I wanted too.
“Yehseeka,” my mother gasps and comes forward, answering for me.
Callista nods at me, and stands, lifting an arm to point at my mother.
“Take her to Dampwater to drown for the insolence of interrupting me,” Callista speaks of my mother. My mother!
As our tribes are silenced into obedience, my mother makes incoherent noises of terror.
I wait for him to correct himself, but this punishment is real. As his mocking eyes rest back on mine, I scream like a banshee, lifting my hands to fight him, “You can’t take my mother!”
Callista snaps up both my wrists.
“It’s time, Yehseeka. You are the Morgan. I choose you.”
Callista has never been asked this question, because I have silenced him in turn, with his raised pierced brow and his ill-expression for my soon-to-be fate are all that greet me in turn.
“Sovrex,” he drawls to his Tribe, who come forward to take me.
They come to seize me, and my fighting has nill effect as they apprehend every limb.
Taking me and my mother to Dampwater.
Callista wanted a challenge.
But he would kill me if he could not break me.
And I was unbreakable.