“I’m not sure if this is a good idea,” Alkaia said.
After meeting with the Predators I decided I needed to go away, it was time to pay a visit to Melchizedek. It had been almost two weeks since meeting Rex, and I knew that my brother was aware that I was with the Amazons by then. I needed to go, I was sure my brother was on his way, and if not him, someone in his name. Once they arrived, they would find a way to take me back, and they would know that I was a Seer, I would never taste freedom again. So I needed to go, but I couldn’t do it alone. The pain was coming without warning and I was always tired, even if I wanted, I knew that I couldn’t go by myself.
“I told you I need to go, not only for me, but for your sakes as well, I need to see this person as soon as possible. Lately the visions are confusing, sometimes they contradict each other, I need clarity, but a walk in the fogs of the future is dangerous, I need a guide with me. If I stay and get lost in the future, I won’t be of any help to you.”
“You are no help now, so it wouldn’t matter,” Polemusa interrupted.
“Besides,” I continued, “as I told you when we arrived, Rex must have told my brother that I’m here. It would be best for you if I’m not here when they come looking. If I’m not here they won’t be able to do anything against you.”
“Do you think we are scared of the Imperialists?” Iphito asked.
“If you’re not, you should. You are at war with the Militaries, barely surviving, you don’t have enough power to face the Imperialists if they come here to attack. My brother has some of the strongest telepaths in the world at his disposal, they will know if I’m here, even if I hide my mind they could find traces of my powers. He has been looking for me for years, he won’t stop now, if I’m here he will find out and will do whatever it takes to take me back.”
“I get that, but I don’t see how it is our problem. Just go away,” Polemusa said, “we don’t have to help you with that.”
“I’m not sure if we can spare a squad to take you to the Shadowlands. As you just said we are barely holding the Militaries back, we can’t spare the kind of warriors you need to survive going through the Empire without being detected.” Alkaia said.
“Maybe we can find an alternative,” Bremusa suggested, she had become an ally after I was able to help her daughter get back to normal, or as normal as she could be after her experience. “We are expecting the Corsairs in a couple of days, they are always traveling up and down the continent, maybe they can give Pitonisa a ride, at least most of the way. You know they rule the seas, there are few that would dare attack them, Pitonisa would be safe with them, and she would arrive faster traveling that way.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Alkaia agreed. “We would have to talk to them and see if they agree to take her, but it’s something to consider. But we need a plan B in case they don’t want to help us. Other ideas?”
More ideas were thrown, but everyone agreed that the best options was a ride with the Corsairs. I wasn’t as happy with the idea as them, it was hard enough to ask the Amazons for help, I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of putting myself in the hands of someone I didn’t even know.
Once the meeting was over I went back to my house and spent a few hours traveling the future’s fog, trying to see if it was a good idea to go with the Corsairs. I needed to know if I would be safe with them. With my powers I could see that I would get to my destination safely, but there was something blocking the journey, it was as if something bad was going to happen, something I was not prepared to see. At the end, I decided that it was worth the risk, all the visions showed me that my baby and I would arrive safely, and that was what mattered.
Alkaia herself went to talk to the Corsairs leaders, and she went with me to meet them at the coast where their main ship was. Aury and Brion, the leaders came down to receive me. While Brion escorted me to my room, Aury stayed behind to speak with Alkaia. They would take me most of the way, the place they were leaving me was just a day from the village where Melchizedek lived.
Aury and Brion received me with curiosity and mistrust, at first they did their best to ignore me and I did my best to stay away from them, but by the second day a vision made it impossible for me to stay away. I woke up in the middle of the night and I went looking for them, I needed to warn them we were in danger, even the biggest ships had weaknesses, and I needed to make sure no one was able to take advantage of that. I found them in the control room, going over some maps.
“Good night.” I greeted them.
“What are you doing here?” Aury asked, angry because of the interruption.
“Please don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t mean to offend, but I need to know how safe is this ship, how resistant are the ship propellers?”
“What do you mean?” Brion asked.
“Let’s say, if a group of warriors swims to the bottom of the ship and put bombs on the propellers, would it stop the ship?”
“Why do you need to know that?” I could hear and feel Aury’s distrust.
“I ask because as we speak, a fast boat with six warriors is approaching us, and they are planning to sabotage the ship. I want to know if they could succeed.” They looked at each other, trying to see if they could trust my words. It was almost as if they were talking telepathically, but I knew that wasn’t the case, neither of them was a telepath.
“There’s nothing to worry about Pitonisa.” Brion wasn’t sure about my statement, but still he went to the side of the ship and dived into the sea.
Aury went back to her maps, ignoring me. I moved to the side of the ship trying to see what was going on. It was weird not being part of the action, but I couldn’t get involved, it was their fight, not mine, I was just a guest.
A while later the sea got agitated, suddenly a huge wave rose from the sea and broke over the ship, when the water receded the bodies of the enemies were lying on the deck. I heard steps and soon the warriors were surrounded by Corsairs, weapons ready to attack their enemies. Another wave rose, this time I saw Brion on the crest of the wave, he jumped into the ship and walked to me.
“It seems you were right,” he said. Then he started shouting orders to his men.
“How did you know?” Aury had come to see what was happening. I could feel her suspicions, she thought that I had something to do with the attack.
“I’m a Seer, I have to know this kind of things.”
“That’s why Alkaia accepted you as an Amazon!” She said. It was as if she had finally found the missing piece of a puzzle, she finally understood why I had been accepted by the Amazons.
“That’s one of the reasons. I’m sure you know that I’ve been training Molpadia, and also some of the Generals’ daughters.”
“We heard about that, but we weren’t sure it was true.” Brion said.
“Well, everything here is under control, you can go back to bed,” Aury said. “And thanks for the warning.” There was no more suspicion in her voice and I felt better. I went back to my room because I was tired and needed some rest.
Everything was better after that, the Corsairs were treating me nicer and I finally found out why. They were worried about Alkaia and the Amazons. They knew I was from the Empire, they weren’t fools and my eyes betrayed me. They had thought that I was a spy trying to hurt the Amazons, but between my warning and whatever Alkaia had told them, they were finally willing to trust me.
One morning the ship stopped, I wasn’t expecting to arrive to my destination until a couple of days later, and Alkaia had promised a direct trip, so I wasn’t sure what was going on. But I was just a guest, even if I needed to get to Melchizedek I couldn’t impose on them and demand to continue. I decided to go and found out why we were stopping.
“Where are we?” I asked Brion, he was in the control room supervising the preparations for going to shore.
“Don’t worry Pitonisa, we are only making a quick stop at the Slavers’ Meat Market, we are going to drop here the warriors we captured a few nights ago.” I had heard about the Meat Market, we knew that the Slavers had their main settlement somewhere in the skirts of the Empire’s territory, but we didn’t know where exactly. “Aury and I will go down in a while, why don’t you come with us? I’m sure you will enjoy their hospitality.”
“I don’t know if it’s a good idea, I’m pretty tired.” Even if nothing in his words or his feelings was raising flags, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea. But I had no good excuses and I finally accepted their invitation.
The Meat Market was as awful as its name suggested, or maybe I was just biased, I didn’t like what it stood for. The idea of stripping someone of their identity and their freedom was difficult for me. Seeing all those people reduced to nothing more than goods to be exchanged was making me mad, I wanted to tear the place apart, to destroy it until there was nothing but ashes left. I understood the need of slaves, every Clan had at least a few of them. I was ok with the idea of taking your enemies as slaves, like the Corsairs had done to those that had attacked them, it was a risk every warrior took, it was the consequence of failing. But some Clans, like the Slavers, had other methods to get slaves, they attacked the weaker, non-combative Clans and took innocent people, those who couldn’t defend themselves. Many of the Clans the Empire used as suppliers were weaker Clans without armies that gave their goods in exchange of protection from Clans like the Slavers.
The Meat Market was divided in sections, the slaves gathered were in stockyards, like animals. I was looking at the different groups when a disgusting man approached us.
“I see you like what you see,” the man said, “we have anything you want: house slaves, field workers…” he was pointing to the different groups and telling us their uses. Some like the house slaves looked older and weaker, the field workers were younger and stronger. Every group had been groomed for a different need. Almost at the end, we saw a group that didn’t need an introduction, their barely there clothes and suggestive moves made their use clear. “… and sex slaves. I’m sure I can convince you to take one of them.”
“Of course, we wouldn’t go without one of those,” Aury said. “The last one we bought has been so good for us. You were right, she was worth her weight in gold, you weren’t exaggerating. I’m sure we could use another one. What do you think darling? What should we take?”
“Choose whatever you want, I think is your turn to pick.”
I kept walking, I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t need to hear that conversation. I was getting overwhelmed by the situation, the place was affecting me and not in a good way, it was because of that that at first I thought I was imagining things. At the end of the stockyards was a public square, a platform in the center was displaying a group of naked women restrained by wooden stocks. There was a man with them, he was standing behind the first one, but I wasn’t paying attention to him, it was the woman at the end of the line that drew my attention. I thought that I was mistaken, there was no way she was there, but then she looked at me and I saw the recognition in her eyes.
I shivered, I was caught in her angry stare. I never expected to see Lamia again, not after what she had done to me, and especially not in a place like that. But we were there, in one of the worst places in all the territories with one of the worst Clans. I couldn’t deny it was her, I could feel her hate, I could taste it, it was so strong that it made me feel sick. What the hell had happened to her?