The light radiated from the ceiling, displacing any shadow that dared to intrude upon this sacred place. It should have been impossible, there were no windows, no hanging candles or torches, it was as if the room was just lit.
The women behind her terrified to the point that Cyme could hear their bones popping, the warrior leaned down and touched the floor.
Squares the size of her hand and coloured like bleached bone were glued to the floor, creating a road effect. “Tiles,” Cyme sad not believing her own statement.
In her experience tiles were made out of clay and were about as useful as a shield made out of grass. They were fragile, easy to crack, and did nothing. These squares however, were glossy and perhaps waterproof. For a second she almost they were made of bone, but if they were she could not imagine the size of the animal they came from.
“Hello,” came a feminine voice.
Cyme drew her stolen sword and heard the others yip in surprise. Standing before them was a woman in a black suit, her eyes were the colour of sunflowers and her hair was as black as a crow's feathers.
Standing up, Cyme was surprised to find that the woman was even taller than she was. She was also remarkably beautiful, her face was remarkably symmetrical, her pink flesh unscarred and as smooth as silk.
“Who are you?” Cyme shouted.
“I am SU 001. My purpose is to guide guests around the facilities.” The woman said.
Cyme hesitated for a moment, “You are the wizard's slave?”
“That is a correct term. I am Master Frank's property and he does not pay me. He bought me at an auction. He repaired me and refitted me with a new AI.”
Cyme did not know what an AI was but her curiosity was peeked. She put away her weapon. “Es’you, Does he treat you well?”
Es'you thought for a moment before answering “Yes. Do you wish me to guide you through the baths.”
This time it was Cyme who thought for a moment. She looked down at her filthy skin and turned to the other Enseen slaves. While Frank had healed their wounds and destroyed their previous masters they were as filthy as wallowing pigs. “Yes.”
The bath itself made Cyme question if her culture had chosen the wrong path. The Way of the Warrior might be good for banging idiots' heads together but a sorcerer seemed to value comfort and style.
Large pools filled with sparkling clear water seemed to beckon the worn women, tempting them with promises of health and beauty. There were also walls and knobs that created hot rains that cut the filth from their skin.
One of the slaves picked up a green block and sniffed it. Its sent was citrusy and her hunger was nearly enough to eat it.
“That is soap,” Es'you said, “it removes filth and makes the skin smell better.”
Cyme cared nothing for the bars or the showers. Making sure that her weapon was close she stripped out of her ill fitting armour and entered the first pool of water that she could find. Her carelessness costed her however, as piercing heat shot up her submerged leg.
“Ahhh!” The Orian screamed as she jumped back.
Es'you tilted her head at the unprepared woman, “The pools are heated. My sensor indicate that your last environment was below comfort levels. Your bodies will adjust to the change in heat in time.”
Cyme cursed. It wasn't that the water had been boiling, it was just that she had previously been left naked in an cage for so long that she had almost forgotten what it was to feel warm.
This time she was careful to put her big toe into the warm soup. It took time but with a moan that could have been a hiss of pleasure or pain, the warrior managed to sink her entire body. By the time the warm waters reached her shoulders a quiet gasp of relief surged out of her.
She could feel it. The waters penetrated her flesh, sinking into her skin and leeching out the years of stress and filth. For a second she contemplated that she was still there in that horrible cags and that she had died, her spirit now in the lands of the gods.
Then she heard the cries.
Turning her head, Cyme looked over to see that one of the women had crumbled down into a fetal position, rich sobs now escaping her. Another woman was there next to her, not sure what to do.
A warm tear dribbled down the warrior’s cheek. Cyme had lost something precious in that cage. True, she had survived but those rancid Enseen dogs had taken her dignity and tore her pride. They had nearly broken her. Every time that they had touched her the once proud Orian wished for her death, begged the Gods to stop the pain and the humiliation. She was willing to do anything to stop it.
Her eyes moved down to her submerged body and her eyes went wide as a brown substance exited her skin and polluted the once clean waters. “What is this?” she said.
Es’you answered her question, “The water is treated with nano-genes which remove foreign objects and harmful particles from your body. Dirt, your diet, your environment, all of it accumulates in your body. The water is expelling these toxins from your body.”
“So it is like a cleansing spell?” one of the women asked,
“If spell is a term you prefer, then yes.”
The women seemed nervous about this. It wasn't that they didn't believe in magic, it was that to many cultures the powers to reshape reality were seen as evil or at best mysterious. Stories of mystical creatures, evil wizards, talking animals, and curses filled even the mightiest king with dread.
Frank's slave moved and looked down at Cyme's body with calculated indifference, “Do you want me to have the nano-genes remove any unwanted hair?”
Cyme looked down at her body and chose to swim away from the rude servant, “Leave me be,”
“Very well. If you have any questions be free to ask.”
As Es'you moved away, Cyme looked back over what had lead her to this place. She closed her eyes and thought back to the moment that the Gods cursed her and her unit.
It had been meant to be an easy mark. While the main force of the Orian army was holding off the Enseen legions, The Red Spears had gotten deep into enemy lines. Sticking to the tree the five hundred strong women attacked border patrols and sacked towns, pillaging, raiding, and killing.
Any young girls and boys were taken back to Oria, doomed to be slaves and warriors. Their parents were cut down, their young brothers raped and killed so that the unit could replenish their ranks in the long winters.
Food and goods were plentiful, the Enseens kept their armies supplied with grain and young soldiers.
It was not an easy feat to disrupt a legion of two thousand men, organized and trained. Some would have called it impossible for just five hundred to women to deal with, but Orians were trained and were used to dealing with larger forces.
A falling rock or a forest fire soon turned their greatest strength into weakness. The Enseens were better had attacking their foes on open ground and at a higher elevation, forests and mountains limited their fighting power.
The Red Spears had achieved much during the war. They had blocked a supply line, destroyed their enemy's crops, poisoned their water and wine, and killed at least twice their own number. But the Goddess of luck was a nasty bitch.
The Red Spears had not expected a full legion to come after them, had not expected the army to set their own forests on fire. Cyme rubbed her stomach, she had not seen the bastard with the javelin.
What happened next she did not want to think about. The laughter of the soldiers, the screams of her unit, pain and the humiliation of becoming a slave.
Cyme frowned in confusion. Usually those memories brought nothing but shame and anger to her, but a wave of calm dampened the trauma.
“Ahhhhhhh! I didn't like it.”
Cyme and the other women turned their heads to see a naked Tila on top of another slave and was repeatedly smacking the woman's skull into the tiles. Other women were converging on the pair but instead of pulling Tila off they began shouting.
Holding her sword Cyme was out of the bath and was making her way to the crowd, as she drew closer she began to understand what they were saying.
“Smash the bitch's head.”
“Kill her. Kill her, Tila.”
Cyme pushed the women aside and pulled a emotionally distort Tila off her victim, “What is wrong with you?”
The other slaves began to kick the women who Tila had been bashing, their faces and screams filled with frustration and anger. They were wasting their time, Tila had cracked her skull, they were kicking a corpse.
“Why are you kicking her?” Cyme asked, had these women been so abused that they turned on one another. Holding a sobbing Tila she forced one of the Enseen slaves to look at her, “What happened?”
The woman, plain looking stick of a thing pointed at focal point of her anger. “Enseen whore. She rat us out on the guards for extra rations. They let her watch as they had their fun with us.”
A woman with blonde hair kicked the corpse, “I heard it. She told the guards about our escape plan. The poxy bitch didn't get a single whip.”
Cyme looked over at Es'you. The woman didn't seem at all disturbed that the group had just killed one of their own. The strange woman continued to look straight ahead, staring at a far wall.
The Orain thought back to Frank. She was unaware of what providence the man came from but the laws of most civilized countries were fairly the same when it came to groups liberating another man's slaves. They were all the sorcerer's property and he was free to do whatever he wanted to them.
Glancing down at the broken corpse, Cyme doubted that Frank was going to like them murdering his property. She envisioned being turned into a toad, or being thrown into a monster's stomach, or just being sold as defective goods at a slave market.
They needed to get out of here.
Born in Australia I am a late bloomer when it came to books. I started writing when my grandfather died and it just sort of turned into a hobby.
I like science fiction, but not space opera. I like fantasy but I am picky when it comes to epic and urban types. I try to stay away from vampires, zombies and romance novels when I can.