Saturday, 7 May 2011

Dance of the Three Kings

The Aeon Throneship 'Hand of Faith' floated in the depths of Khanid space. The light from the distant star illuminated the bronze hull and played over the corporate logo that proclaimed the ship most comfortable in the darkest night. Other ships surrounded her, battleships and carriers, battlecruisers and frigates. In a universe where nowhere can be truly safe, here at least the owner of the Aeon felt safe. And yet she still did not appear for the festivities that were in full swing.

For a people well versed in the stars there is little that cannot be viewed as ceremonial when it refers to lunar cycles. An entire deck of the throneship was being used for a ceremonial festival, the dance of the three kings. All around those who had been invited, a wide variety of capsuleers and non-caps, influential people from hundreds of worlds. Amarr brushed shoulder with Gallentey, Caldari with Minmatar. Admirals of the fleet chatted with smugglers, customs officials with haughty pilots, the flashes of the Serpentis, Gurista, Angel all worn openly. Here, for the duration of the festival all were under the protection, and the domination, of the Holder Ithiria Deritan. From her throne in the main chamber, while the throng danced to traditional khanid music, she watched from behind a painted mask.

The dance of the three kings refered to a time when the Seshala system was ruled by three kings, long before the reunification. And for the festival costumes were required by custom, long flowing dresses for the women in daring cuts and radiant colours. White robes for the men, or short tunic and metal breastplates. Aboard one of the most technological wonders, hundreds partied as if they would have done many many years ago.

A multitude of servants swept through the crowd like a hidden wave, refilling glasses, taking plates, answering calls and directing people. Various slaves were noticed, hidden behind, or kneeling beside those that owned them. Most looked on without noticing them, occasionally scurrying away to fulfil a task, or keeping their eyes open, looking about them with keen eyes and open ears.

Standing by the side of the throne Sakura Imoru, vassal to the House Deritan stood watching the assembled crowd. Every now and then an individual or a couple would stand at the bottom of the throne and toast Ithiria, then return and mingle. With her hand on the sword in her belt, and the mask covering her face she watched on impassively.
"Quite a turn out. There are even a few faces here I know from my time before."
"Yes, more than a few were happy to hear that I was back. Though they were not sure about the lack of slaves...."
"Things change, you are a Holder, chosen of the Khanid. It is your right to have slaves."
She sighed under the mask.
"My right yes, but while I am married to Mizhara, there are certain considerations that have to be.... endured."
She hissed and made a gesture with her hand, the perfectly painted nail shimmering in the light.
"There is no question. It is how it is. Carmilla understood this, so you can too."
Sakura nodded and kept her vigil by the throne.
"Anyway, I dare say that Carmilla will be here shortly... once the festivities start. I do believe that she will not approve of them."
Ithiria laughed, a low chuckle that echoed inside the mask.
"Do not worry Sakura, everything is proceeding according to plan."

At the appointed time the major domo slammed his staff on the ground of the main chamber and naked servents, dressed only in layers of gold and blue paint began to usher people off of the floor.
"Ladies, Gentlemen, honoured Nobles! On this day may years ago, the three kings of the Seshala system would come together on the full moon. The three of them, with their courtiers and their subjects would make their way to the grand arena, an ancient building of yore, and there they would pit their champions against one another. The winner, so we are lead to believe would indicate who would rule Seshala for that year."
As he spoke men and women, garbed in archaic armour and wielding swords, shields and spears made their way into the the throne room. With a silent hiss the central floor began to retract revealing a lowered floor covered with sand. Each champion leapt into the small arena. It was obvious to those who watched that once in, they would only be coming out when whoever was operating the machinery let them. The major domo walked around the areana.
"This here is a poor substitute, but one must make do...." Laughter from the audience made him smile.
"But for your pleasure, Holder Deritan gives you the champions of Seshala. To fight to the death! As it was in the days of yore!"

A silence fell over the crowd, which turned quickly into a crescendo of applause. Large screens throughout the deck and ship came on showing the arena. As each champion paraded around, the Major Domo psyched up the crowd, other servants began taking bets from the guests. From behind the throne a woman approached, clad all in black with a shimmering mask covering her face, only an amarr sigil showing on the curving illuminescence. She bowed to Ithiria then took her place opposite Sakura, without a word.
"Let the first fight begin!"

On her throne Ithiria watched as the champions saluted her then paired up and began to fight. Ten champions, a solid mix of the races fought each other. The skill and determination on them obvious, and yet one by one they succumb until only two remained. With a strike of his staff the Major Domo walked around the edge.
"Aaaah, the heady combat between champions comes down now to two. But this is not enough, for we know that you like to see these fights. So we have.... something new. If I may.... the Holder Deritan no longer holds slaves, and as such those she once held were given their freedom. A most noble and humanitarian sentiment, the freeing of slaves. Some of you here would laugh at such things, but it was done. Her slaves were given their freedom....."

Ithiria sat on her throne and watched, a security feed to her showing her the guards outside the main chamber bringing their wards with them. The Major Domo kept on talking and with a wild flourish the doors opened and the guards brought in the first two struggling ex-slaves.

"Freedom however... has to be earned.... and here in the Arena where the champions of Kings fought... these ex-slaves will fight for you. It is even possible that one or two of your noble guests may wish to test the blades you have been given...."

The three on the throne watched as the first two were thrown bodily in, to the cheers of the crowd. Weapons were dropped to them. At the far end, the two remaining champions, still weary of each other, advanced on the two screaming men.

Hours passed as the blood thirsty combat raged. The sands of the arena running red with blood and only one person stood standing. A slave of one of the guests, well trained in the fighting arts. From outside the chamber the screams of someone could be heard and the sounds of fighting. Sakura went to check and was restrained by Ithiria.
"Carmilla is here, she's been watching and is doubtlessly unhappy. Bring out the last two and get them ready to be put into the arena. Then... let Carmilla in."

The door to the chamber opened and Carmilla walked in. Naked but for a collar and her wrist cuffs she walked through the crowd with a dignity that had no place being there. Standing at the edge of the arena she looked down and snarled.
"What is this? Are you barbarians? Savages?"
"This is ceremony, slave! Know your place! Now enter the arena and fight for your freedom."
"Freedom? Why would I? Is my freedom worth the death of the three slaves I see before me?"
"Yes. You are a slave, your freedom is worth what ever price your Mistress places on your head. Now fight!"
Carmilla threw her head back and screamed.
"But you will! This slave here, who has fought so valiently, it is the Holder Deritans wish that he be freed. He has fought well for his Master and brought him much honour! Unlike this sebiestor slut who will not enter the arena!"

The guards withdrew the coverings from the heads of the ex-slaves they held and looked up. The woman in black nodded her head and they pushed them in. Turning to them the slave advanced slowly upon the two women.
"See here, Carmilla, slave.... two of Ithiria's hand maidens. Melissa and Tanith. Freed from their slavery... but only you can save them. Fight! And free them, and free yourself. Or let them die... and forever will you be known as that which you are! A slave. Bound to serve with no thought for your own. Only obedience and submission."

The two handmaidens cried and screamed and begged Carmilla. After a while, there was silence as the slave turned. Carmilla had dropped into the arena. The slaves owner uttered a few words of Amarri and three more jumped in behind him, stripping to the waist. Carmilla, bare fists clenched started to walk towards them, gracefully.

It was over quickly. She held the two handmaidens in her arms and comforted them while looking up at the edge of the arena and saw the woman in black looking down, well she knew who she was and scowled.
"Oh Carmilla," she spoke in her lilting sing song gallentey voice,"a slave killed a free man. I'm afraid you will be staying in the arena a lot longer now."
The black mask turned to the guests and she spread her arms wide.
"The Holder Deritan wished it known that the slave Carmilla has killed a free man. Any who wish to descend and put her to death for such... you are welcome to do so and will incur no wrath from any of us. This slave needs to be punished, and this is a fitting time to do so!"
Even before she had finished the first challenger had leapt into the arena. Proud and trained in the noble arts of war, executioner to a thousand unruly slaves. He had never faced anything like Carmilla. Nor had the next. Or the next. or the next.

1 comment:

  1. Carm...your tales are fantastic and were they not OOC in perspective, there would be a VERY angry Syn...BRAVO!