Saving Maltira Chapter Four
The road was quiet and lonely. Zenobe took advantage of the peace and calm to strategize on where to start her quest from as she rode on a spotted brown mare. A young woman traveling alone would draw a lot of unwanted attention even dressed as casually and uninterestingly as she was in a dirt brown tunic and equally dirt brown pants finished off with peasant boots. So first, she had to acquire a traveling companion and she knew just who to call.
Zenobe was feeling a bit wanton (dressed in cream embroidered rare silk dress with a low back that exposed her creamy skin from the back of her neck down to the sensuous dip of her waist) as she walked down the crowded street. She had bought the dress from a dress merchant on the outskirts of the city and changed into it at the back of the stall. The silk clung to her figure and showed off all the dips and curves on her well-sculptured body. Zenobe shivered a bit as she struggled to concentrate on swaying her hips in a cultured graceful walk. In Agharea, women wore conservative dresses. But this wasn't Agharea. It was Toloq, a nation of loose morals. She thought of the highly spread rumor in Agharea that the southern women who served as concubines for the wealthy chiefs of Maltira were all from Toloq. Zenobe wondered if they were bred to please men from birth. As she walked along the streets she noticed how much it stood in stark contrast to her city. The place was beautiful as was expected of any city in the south. But that was all. Low-lives loitered in the streets and young maids walked about in sensual dresses that made Zenobe’s dress look modest.
Zenobe walked into a tavern and ordered a drink.
"What do you want?" asked a gruff voice.
Zenobe flashed her best sultry smile at the bearded middle-aged man. "Give me your finest drink.”
The bartender grunted and poured her a tall glass of a reddish drink.
Zenobe sipped. It tasted sweet, but when she swallowed it burned her throat and warmed her insides. Alcohol. "Where do you people find the finest alcohol?" She asked cheerfully, leaning a bit on the counter between her and the bartender who looked rather intent on doing any other thing but engage in a dialogue with her.
"We don't divulge trade secrets, lady." He answered flatly.
"Ahh. .” Zenobe said giving up on the conversation. “Trade secrets." She downed her drink and took out a silver coin from her purse. She reverted to her usual abrupt businesslike self. All that flirting for naught, she thought, saying out loud instead, "do you know a maiden named Hilda? She's half western. A dark-haired beauty that is extremely dexterous with twin blades."
"No," was the single gruff reply.
Zenobe waited for a beat and flashed another sultry smile. "OK, but you do know where I can find lodging.”
Zenobe stood outside the inn and wondered whatever she had done to wrong the bartender. Surely there were other places in far better condition than the shack he had directed her to. Stop whining princess. Adjust.
Yes princess, adjust.
Zenobe turned to see the very person she had asked about hours ago. She was dressed in a short silk blouse that left her midriff exposed and big pants that gathered at her ankle. Her hair hung down her back and small black studs dotted her ear lobes. Simple wear, but she looked absolutely ravishing in it. Zenobe noticed the hip dagger at her side. "Do you always walk around armed?”
Zenobe involuntarily closed her eyes and relaxed as the musical sound washed over her tense body.
"Nice to see you too Zen, what are you doing here? I heard you were asking about me. "
Zenobe arched a brow. "You heard. That's surprising seeing that the only person I asked told me he doesn't know you and then punished me for asking.” She pointed to the inn for emphasis.
Hilda laughed again and Zenobe smiled.
"Come.” She said. “I'll treat you to better lodging." She grabbed the reins on Zenobe’s horse and steered her in the direction from whence she came. “By the way, you look exquisite.”
The fairer-skinned lady scoffed. “I look like a courtesan.”
Hilda led her through a garden full of different plants to a majestic building.
"How do you have so many exotic plants? Some of these plants don’t grow in Agharea.”
"My mother has a greenhouse. Her friend taught her how to manage it."
"Oh. I noticed your people have a lot of northern things.”
"Yes. We trade with them."
Zenobe wanted to ask more questions but she noticed Hilda wasn't given to elaborations. Her answers were short and straight to the point, and in some instances, slightly evasive.
As they entered the house, Zenobe looked around and noticed quite a lot of servants.
"Your parents must be really wealthy to afford all these things.”
Hilda turned to her. "Do you always ask so many questions?”
"Yes, it helps me know people.”
Hilda smiled and opened the door. She stood aside and Zenobe walked into the room. It was more elegant than her chambers and much more spacious.
"This is my bedroom. It's where I do everything. Do you like it?”
"What's not to like?” Zenobe said in awe. “I love it.”
"Good, you’ll be staying here with me for as long as you want.”
A servant walked in with a tray of assorted dishes and set it down on a table. Another servant brought in a tray of drinks. As Zenobe watched them set up the table, her stomach rumbled.
"How long did it take you to get here from Agharea?” Hilda asked curiously.
"Three days,” was Zenobe’s response.
"Hmm. Three days of hunting wild pigs." At Zenobe's surprised expression she continued, "I noticed that was your meal of choice during the festival.”
"It's filling.” Zenobe retorted with a shrug.
"And it's a challenge to hunt. Well, I hope you have an appetite for cooked food. You aren't in the jungle anymore. "
As they ate Zenobe again noticed the variety of northern food.
"I've never been outside Maltira.”
Hilda dropped her spoon. "What?!”
"Yes. I've never had a reason to."
"What about good old curiosity?”
"My curiosity ends in discovering new battle techniques and learning how to get stronger so I can protect my people. There is little else that sparks my interest."
Hilda stared at her in open amazement. "Wow,” she said. “Then I have a lot to show and teach you."
Over the next three days, the two ladies bonding. Hilda took Zenobe on a grand tour of Toloq. They went to the city’s theatre and watched a drama about a farmer whose wife was unfaithful to him. Exaggerated moans and grunts filled the theatre as the actress was ravished by different men on the stage in full view of the large audience. Again, Zenobe was baffled at the kind of play the Toloqs allowed in their theater. She turned to Hilda to make a witty comment about her city’s morals when her eyes snagged on a movement further to her right. An old man brazenly fondled the breasts of a young woman sitting beside him. Zenobe’s tongue went dry as she noticed the woman’s hand jerking frantically under the man’s pants. She was suddenly torn between watching the couple beside her and watching the orgy taking place on the stage. Her thighs were damp when they finally left the theatre.
They stopped by the tavern and the grumpy bartender didn’t so much as an eyelash when he saw both ladies together. By the time they got home, Hilda's parents had returned from their trip. Zenobe was not so shocked when she learned that Hilda was the daughter and second child of the king of Toloq and his wife, Petiba. Only a palace was built the way this house was.
"Aren't you going to ask me why I didn't tell you that I am the daughter of the King?”
"I think you wanted to surprise me.”
"Did I succeed?”
"No.” St Hilda's raised eyebrows she elaborated, "The house gave you away.”
* * *
Zenobe moaned. She stirred in her sleep, trying to get more comfortable. A warm wet thing touched her right nipple and she gasped. Then a hand softly kneaded her right breast. She raised her hand to her right breast and touched silky tresses. Slowly, she opened sleep laden eyes and saw a black curtain over her breast. Hilda? She struggled to come fully awake as different strange sensations washed over her wave after wave.
Hilda couldn’t take her mouth off Zenobe’s breast. She had been designing a map at her table when she nonchalantly looked over to where Zenobe lay sleeping. The lamp beside the bed cast a halo over Zenobe’s creamy skin and her mouth watered. Hilda tried to look away but couldn’t. She ran her eyes over Zenobe’s strikingly beautiful face.
Her long eyelashes fanned out to form shadows on her high cheekbones and her pink rosebud lips parted slightly in a way that made Hilda want to dip her tongue into the warmth inside. Her eyes continued its slow descent down her face over her neck where it stopped briefly on the small pulse between her fine collar bones. There the bare skin ended because Zenobe had worn tunic and pants to bed. Hilda moaned in frustration and pressed a hand between her legs in a bid to calm the throbbing bud nestled in her secret curls. Her legs moved of their own accord towards the bed and she found herself kneeling beside the fair head beauty. She bent over her and drew in her scent, closing her eyes to savor it. Then she gently began to undo her pants with deft fingers taking care to keep her movements light to avoid rousing the sleeping girl. At first, she only meant to see more of her. But when she pulled up Zenobe’s tunic and saw her pink areolas on the soft fairly large mounds of alabaster white skin, she couldn’t stop her mouth from reaching down and clamping over the delicious bud.
Zenobe stared transfixed at Hilda’s head as it bobbed up and down on her breast. Warm moisture pooled down between her legs as her stomach clenched for the second time since she awoke. Hilda’s free hand snaked down her bare belly and Zenobe opened her mouth to speak, “ what are . . . Oh. . .” her words flew out of her head when a finger stroked a spot between her legs that she never knew existed until now. She bucked against the intruding finger and almost screamed in pleasure the single finger became double. Her hands flew to the dark head on her breast and she tangled her fingers in the hair and held on for dear life as the biggest wave of the night hit her. She was still jerking from the spasms from Hilda lifted her head and smiled at her.
“Hi”, was all she said.
"Rise and shine, Zen."
Zenobe bolted out of bed. I slept in! I never sleep in, she thought.
You've barely had time to rest since your trip. You're allowed to rest. Another voice replied.
Stop doing that.
Reading my thoughts. It's unnerving.
Can anyone unnerve you? Freshen up. Breakfast will be up soon.
A large wooden bath at the corner of her room had been filled with water. Zenobe got up and took off the soft cotton night robe Hilda had insisted she wears to bed. She chuckled to herself as she recalled the appalled look on her friend’s face when she had grabbed the pants off the floor last night and attempted to put it back on. Hilda had sprung from the bed, fetched the robe and practically shoved it in Zenobe’s hand. She had to admit, it did feel better on her skin than her rough tunic and pants. Currently, she unpinned her hair and piled it atop her head before sinking into the bath and releasing a long drawn out sigh of pure pleasure.
She called out to Hilda who was seated at a table poring over some documents. “I’m on a World Tour.”
Hilda answered without raising her head. "Trying to find a mate?”
"Ha-ha, very funny.”
"So where are you going from here?”
"I'm thinking of going to Queen.”
Hilda looked over at her. “Take me with you.”
"I was praying you'd say that.”
Hilda slowly got up from the table and shrugged off her bed robe. Her eyes were on Zenobe as she walked deliberately to the tub and stepped in. Zenobe’s eyes glazed over as a toe reached between her legs.