Chapter 19: Maeotis
Finally, Arrus stopped laughing and regarded the two princes
with a more or less sober expression. "You two are serious, arent
Saheris nodded, and Sahelis cried "Of course! Having whores
is part of being a soldier, and we are soldiers."
"Youre not just any soldiers, my boy, you are the
young Khans. And for this you just cant go have any whore of the
town or countryside."
"Why is that?" Saheris asked.
"Because your care and education is the greatest concern
of the Khan, and he might object. Have you discussed this with the Khan?"
"Of course not!" Saheris replied darkly. "Why should we?
It is our own business!"
"No, it is the Khans business. What if you were
to lay with a woman and she were to have a child? Would you marry her
then, and would the child of that whore become the next Khan? These are
things you should think about."
The two boys looked at each other in bewilderment and
disappointment. "We will have to go to the Khan and ask him?"
Arrus nodded briefly. "All right then," Saheris said.
"We will do that." Saheris gripped his brothers arm in one hand.
"Come on, Heli."
Sahelis was angry, and when they were out of hearing distance
of the grinning soldier, he pulled away and rounded on Saheris. "How could
you give up so quickly?"
"I didnt give up. Hes not going to help us.
He probably was told not to. We will have to find another way. I still
remember where Arrus went to that night - do you?"
"No," Sahelis admitted.
"Well, I do. So Im going to go there and see if
I can do this on my own. If I succeed, then you can go."
"Why cant we go together?" Sahelis whined.
"Because thats not how its done," Saheris
replied with finality.
Saheris had recalled, from their night of espionage, how
much Arrus had paid as well. It was merely a matter of finding the sum
and going to the address and making the appointment. He waited until he
observed the Khan ride off in the afternoon, and entered his study, and
began a systematic search through a large pot of coins behind his writing-desk.
As he combed through the various coins, his fingers felt
an irregular shape, and he extracted one of the half-coins Sahera had
given him. For a long moment, he gazed at it, memory flooding over him
of the night she had accosted him in his bed. Then he set the piece on
the table and resumed his search. After some digging, his fingers found
the other half of the coin, and placed it against the first, so that the
halves made a complete circle. He then resumed his search for the coins
he would need to purchase the services of Arrus whore.
Dinner was long over, and the sun had disappeared into
twilight by the time Saheris made his way into the town. It was a modest
part of the city, near the waterfront, and as he walked he heard the benign
lapping of the surf against the hard shingle of the shore. At length,
he came to a stair, and ascended it. At the top was a small, dark door,
hardly visible except to those who knew it was there, hidden deep in shadow.
He looked around him, but there was no one in the street. He rapped on
No one appeared to be home. He rapped again, this time
more loudly, and then stepped back, so that he would not be visible to
anyone who happened by below him. Finally, he heard a movement within,
and the door cracked open. A womans voice said "What do you want?"
"I wish to buy you," he said simply, repeating what he
had heard Arrus say that night.
The door opened a bit further and a head thrust out and
looked down. "Oh you do? And who might you be? Youre only a boy."
"I am a friend of Arrus. He said you would admit me."
"He did? Do you have any money?" A shoulder emerged from
the dark doorway, but he could see very little of her features in the
"Yes, of course I do." Saheris reached into his cloak
and brought out the coins - it was more than Arrus had paid, in case she
"This will do," she said. "Now come in."
The door closed, and his eyes adjusted gradually to the
bright lamp within. It had been so simple! Saheris looked up, and for
a long moment he stared in silence, for the woman who stood before him
in every detail was the very image of his mother, Sahera, down to the
features of her face and the black hair which flew around her in disarray.
This was the woman as he had last seen her in the cell in Cormorin. He
opened his mouth, but no sound came out.
And then she spoke. "Do you have a name?" and the spell
was shattered. The voice was not hers, and the manner was wrong.
"Heri," he stammered.
"What is wrong with you? Am I not what you expected? Why
are you staring?"
"Nothing, nothing," he murmured. "You look like someone
"Some men tell me I resemble the mad princess. Perhaps
that is why I have so many clients," she smiled. "Is that who I resemble
"And did you find her very lovely?" the smile widened
as she drew him by the hand into the room and toward her bed.
"Yes," he stammered.
"You are rather young to have known the princess. But
not too young to have dreamt of having her. Now you no longer have to
Saheris was inarticulate; here was more than he had imagined
- here was a woman who resembled in every detail his forbidden fantasy.
And at the same time, he was numb with confusion.
"Have you had a woman before?"
"Yes," he answered, then refocused his eyes upon the womans
face. "I mean - no." He fell silent.
"Sit down," she said. "Heri you said your name
was? You are a very comely boy. Take off that sword, that wont do
you any good here." Automatically, Saheris reached for his belt and loosed
it, and let it slip gently to the floor as he sat on the side of the bed
next to the woman. "Isnt that better?" she spoke softly in his ear,
and the heat of her breath touched off in him a flame which seemed to
travel through him all of a moment. From those three words spoken in his
ear he became completely aroused. He felt the womans deft fingers
push apart the clasps on his shirt and slide against his chest, and he
fell back upon the bed.
In moments, it seemed, she had unclothed both of them,
and his senses were assaulted with the sight and scent of the woman upon
him, but more than this, the satin sheen of her flesh pressing upon him,
provoking into flame that ember of fantasy that had lain dormant for so
many months and years: which now grew into an all-consuming need. Her
hands guided him into her then, and within moments, it seemed, the fury
of his passion spent itself in a few rapid strokes, and he lay back, panting
and spent. He closed his eyes.
The whore leaned back on her elbow and ran an idle hand
along his chest. "That was a bit desperate, even for a first time," she
commented. "Would you like some more?" Saheris nodded, eyes still closed,
but opened them in surprise as he felt her mouth upon his genitals, and
moaned. He rapidly grew aroused, and she drew him down upon her this time.
The pace was somewhat more leisurely, but before long the explosion that
had torn through him before built up once again in a series of wild thrusts
that left him once again gasping, flooded by a relief he had never before
A hand was patting his cheek, and gradually he resurfaced
to consciousness. "Its time for you to go. You are not my only appointment
tonight, you know." Saheris came completely awake then, and took in his
surroundings. He was in the bed of Arrus whore, and had fallen dead
asleep in her arms. He busied himself with his clothing then, as she straightened
the bed and combed her hair, turning from him as he pulled his trousers
"May I "
"Return? As long as you have money you can. You overpaid
me, though. I generally charge only 50 denarii."
"No - I wanted to know if it was all right if my brother
were to come."
"Is he younger than you?"
"Yes, but not much."
"I dont know. Yes... I suppose so. But it cant
be tonight. I only took you because it is early. Send him an hour after
sundown. 50 denarii."
Saheris tightened his sword belt, and picked up his cloak.
She came up to him then and put her arms around him. "You are a very sweet
boy," she said, pressing her cheek against his. "My name is Kara. You
can come back any time."
"Thank you," he replied, suddenly embarrassed. She put
her hands on his shoulders, and pushed him gently toward the door. "Go
now, or youll never go," she said gently.
He made his way down the stairs, lost in contemplation.
As he began his walk along the waterfront, he heard the sound of knuckles
rapping on a door. He looked back, but saw no one on the stairs in the
Sahelis was waiting in his room when he returned.
"Well?" he asked without preamble.
"Well what?" Saheris retorted, throwing down his cloak
and starting to unlace his boots.
"Did you go?"
"And what was it like? You have to tell me everything."
"It was incredible," Saheris said. "Not like dreams at
all. She was... beautiful. Much more beautiful close up than she was from
"Did she do.."
Saheris nodded. "Yes. And I had her twice - but
the first time was pretty quick."
"Tell me more!"
"I dont need to. You can go tomorrow. An hour after
sundown. And she said I could come back anytime. If I pay, that is."
"The money! Ill need money!" Sahelis burst out.
"Here, I got enough for you as well." Saheris drew the
coins out of his inside pocket. With them were the pieces of Saheras
coin. He handed the gold to his brother, and then held up the piece of
coin. "And here is something you should never lose."
"What is it?" Sahelis pocketed the gold, and brought the
severed coin closer to the lamp to inspect it.
"It is your inheritance. I have one too." He drew out
his own piece and showed it to his brother. "Now, sit down a bit. Let
me tell you what happened."
Sahelis never got his chance to visit Kara, however. Early
the following morning, Saher himself woke them, and hurried them through
an early breakfast.
"Today, you are both taking ship to Maeotis, to take up
field training with Beshan."
Sahelis rose to his feet. "Its too sudden! We cant
leave just like that!"
"And why not?" the Khan replied, eyebrows raised. He looked
at Sahelis, who dropped his gaze before his fathers. "You have an
appointment to keep?"
"No," the younger boy said. "But what about our
training? Our horses?"
"You will have other training, and different horses. It
will only be for a few months. And in the spring you will march with Beshan
to Galatia and join me for your first campaign."
"All winter?" Sahelis said in a weak voice. A look passed
between the two boys.
"Suwetus has already had your clothes packed. You should
be sailing within the hour - there is a good south wind."
Saheris spoke up then. "Father, just why are we going
to Maeotis to Beshan for training? Cant we get our training here
with you and your chiefs?"
"You could, but Beshan is far more clever than I am, and
has much more experience. If you would like to be a better general than
I am, you have to learn from someone other than me. I have sent all of
my new captains to Beshan these past three years, and Im very pleased
with them. To lead these men, you must learn what they know. It will only
be a few months. When you take up your careers as soldiers, you will have
to be gone from your loved ones for months at a time. Its time you
got used to it. Now hurry off and collect what you want to bring with
you, you will be leaving soon."
"What wonderful timing," Sahelis remarked sarcastically
as the two retreated to their room.
"Im sorry, Heli," Saheris said, genuinely sorry.
"Its not my fault."
"Maybe it is. Maybe he is sending us away because he found
out where you went last night."
"That is stupid. How could Beshan send a ship instantly?
No, this was long planned. He is just surprising us with it today."
"I dont want to go, Heri", Sahelis said with finality,
plopping down heavily on his bed.
"You cant refuse."
"Yes, I can."
"Look, Heli. If there are whores here in Maduc, there
are just as many in Maeotis. And probably easier for us to get, without
Father or Arrus watching us."
"True," Heli admitted.
"Youll have your chance. Ill make certain
of it. Besides, I cant go and leave you here. It would be miserable
in Maeotis without you."
"Id be miserable in Maduc without you, too, Heri."
Saheris throw an arm around his brothers shoulder.
"Cheer up, Heli. Well find you a woman as soon as we get to Maeotis."
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