The graying morning came around and Buri, the half-bred and Kaa, the son of the king of Ta-Seti, hadn't finished the exchange of their life stories. Aegir and Tsemo were sitting nearby tired but listening eager to every detail of the stories, while little Seb and Laong were snoring side by side on a soft pillow.
Kaa finally came to the events bringing him and his small brother into the hands of the king of the Tekrur and from there into Kamrushepa's cathouse. "My dear brother, my cousin Buri!" Kaa embraced Buri to the umpteenth time, "You are the son of my father's lost sister Teje, the lovely daughter of my grandfather, the departed ruler of the Moon-Stone people. You are the offspring of my aunt Teje, who had left Ta-Seti to find her love.
Kaa smiled remembering the time, "I had been happy to track down my lovely Aunt Teje in a small town at the banks of the Iteru-Aa. There I was told she had left Kemet and wandered off into the desert with her love from a country far over the blue Wadj-ur. When I finally arrived in Siva, the oases they had taken refuge at, my aunt Teje had died and her love had vanished without a trace. However, I was told by a scryer old as the earth, "Teje, the Queen's daughter, has born a boy. She has not born ordinary boy! She has given birth to an unearthly being; she has given birth to the reincarnation of Geb, the Earth God, in the disguise of a little boy." The boy however, had vanished with her love, with a man called Hödur, a man from the North Country. Now I know it was father." Kaa signed and continued, "Distressed I went home to tell my father. Right after I arrived home to convey the sad message the ruler of Kemet, the Pr-A'a Ramesses, attacked the kingdom of Ta-Seti and Kush. In the peace treaty following the clash, I and little Seb, were offered to the Pr-A'a as hostages and guaranties for eternal peace." Buri shook his head in disbelieve and Aegir clenched his fists in anger, Kaa however stayed calm.
"The crook of a Pr-A'a, acepted the deal but soon after he regretted the agreement and decided to trade us to the ruler Tekrur for cedar trees he wanted for a harmal, the tomb of his favourite wife. From Itj'-tau, the capital Kemet, we were moved to Tyruus, the capital of the Tekrur-people, where we were held captive in the palace of the king."
Kaa blinked with his eyes to disguise his tears. "In king Hiram's palace we were kept as captives. We were free to move around in the area of the palace, but not to leave it. Meanwhile the King did send negotiators to our father, because we wanted to trade us in exchange of gold. The night I learned he hadn't succeeded, I decided we had to make an escape." Inhaling the cool air of the night, Kaa continued, "In the moonless night I and my brother stole away. In the early morning the hunt for us set in. Soon the Hiram's spies were turning over every stone to check for us. Finally his trackers trailed us. We were lucky however, so we thought at least. Climbing down the castle walls we hit the beach and found a float made of rush washed ashore by the waves."
Recalling his foolishness Kaa shook his head in disbelieves. "Without checking the stability of the float we set out from the beach by the castle on the mainland to the harbor at an island just off the coast. There we hoped to get a ship leaving for Kemet. Halfway over the island the float came apart because of the heavy swell and we, little Seb and me, had to cling to a bundle of rush to stay alive. We were lucky however, at least we thought so, a fisherman, coming back with his catch from the night, rescued us but only to sell us to the next slave trader in the harbor."
"At this time I wasn't aware trading people like sheep or goats was a profitable business." He sighing deeply and continued, "The next incident I do remember is that the slavers ripped off our lordly clothes, shackled us and locked us up in a cage bare assed. Out on the high sea the captain of the slave ship, a bearded man with a dirty grin, started an interrogation, "What are you called? Where are you coming from? Who's your father?" The fisherman had told him, he suspected we are runaways, trying to escape out of the hand of the priests in Temple of the Holy Trinity. He suspected we have served there as temple boys, as qdeshims, as holy boy whores, as prostitutes. For a moment I was surprised to be mistaken for a qdeshim, a kadesh. But then I scented a chance to disguise our kingly descent. "Yes!" I answered, "I was forced to be a fancy boy by the priests, however I did run away to spare my virgin brother the same fate!" Now Kaa grinned, "The ruthless guy didn't get I pulled his leg. Grimly he uttered something like "These bastard of holy men!" then grinned maliciously, "Keep you asses hidden, some sailors like bubble-assed boys!" "But what the hell, he had bought my answer and we were safe for the moment."
However, before Buri, Aegir and Tsemo could heave a sigh of relief, the next part of Kaa's and Seb's story made them as mad as hungry sharks. "Seb and I were not the only caged passengers. Later I counted four more cages with men, women, girls and boys to be sold off on the slave market. As soon the slavers boat had crossed the border of the kingdom of Tekrur, the captain searched for a possibility to get rid of us with profit and his chance came sooner as expected. On the fourth night of our escape from the castle in Tyruus he ordered us to dress in our lordly clothes and brought us ashore. There he sold us to Lady Kamrushepa pretending I was a run-away qdeshim from a temple further south and had my small virgin brother in tow."
Buri was moved by his cousin's account and took Kaa into his arms. Aegir however wanted the whole story asked "What did Kamrusha pay for you and what happened to you here in that whorehouse?"
Kaa shrugged, "I don't know the price but I guess it was a sky-high price because besides the money given to the captain, the sailors had a free night with the harlots." He hesitated a moment, "What happened to me and my brother? What do you expect a shrewd business woman will be up to, having made a fortune unexpectedly?"
Buri looked bewildered, "What did she have in mind? Using you and little Seb as rent boys? Selling your flesh to sailors and pirates?" "That's what she had in mind! At least I guess so, because she kept us locked up in the house and tried to teach us the art of qdeshims." Then to the bewilderment of Sun Seekers, Kaa added, "I know about the art of the qdeshims, the temple boys, and of the zonahs as well, Adad's and Atar'ata's holy whores. Like every other youngster in the king's castle I was free to enjoy the favour of both every time I wanted. Therefore I knew what to expect. But Seb, my little Seb, is much too young to loose his virginity to rough men and get banged!"
Nodding his ascent Buri asked in wild rage, "Is Lady Kamrushepa really such a depraved woman to sell boys to horny men?" Kaa nodded, "Sure she is! After she told us what we had to do to stay alive I decided we had to run again. As it seemed impossible to leave this place by boat I had to find another way. I thought about to leave here taking my way through the back country. This was yesterday evening, but then you came and we were ordered to please you as told and I had to postpone the attempted flight."
Tsemo, who had been listening all the time, unexpected to the others seized the initiative, "Kaa, I suppose you are happy having us Sun Seekers as your first customers of that bawdy-house, because now you are sure not one of us would use you or little Seb. We are the last ones you have to be afraid of. As you see, we agree you have to get out of here. I can imagine several options to get you free. The first would be to take you with us without Kamrushepa knowing, that is to steal you and your brother. The second one would be to force by arms her to let you leave. The last one, I can think of, would be to buy you and your brother and set you free."
Tsemo considered the options for a moment, then took out two big shiny pearls of Kirketin's farewell present and let them shine in the light of the stars. "Kamrushepa is a greedy snatch! I will buy you both for these pearls, because they are worthy a a small kingdom. She surely can't resist the luster of these pearls. I will pretend to be hot for you and for little Seb. I know she will believe me, because this woman is confident I am of celestial origin."
Kaa got frightened because he didn't want to become a slave again, even if the nice looking stranger said otherwise. He wanted to be free. "No! Never! I must get free in my own right!" Buri catching on Tsemo's suggestion, "Dear brother, take Tsemo's offer. It's the best possible solution for now. You can pay him back. We need a guide to Ta-Seti and an additional crew member." Aegir added, "We need a strong crew member to help us to navigate our boat and get in time to the big river, the Iteru Aa."
Aegir however disagreed with Tsemo's proposal, "Our Moon Prince likes to settle problems peacefully, but I have no pity with a slaver holder and a madam selling love for money. I insist that we force her to let you go! If she isn't willing, we use force." Just after a moment, he strengthened his verdict, "Kamrusha has to die! She should never again have the chance to force innocent children to serve vicious men! She deserves death."
"I still would like to solve the problem without bloodshed, let us decide the question in the morning, let's sleep on that matter." was Tsemo's suggestion. "We have to consult Orco before we take a severe action like that. He seems to know Kamrushepa pretty well, maybe he knows how to handle her."
The refreshing breeze from the open sea made Tsemo shiver. He tried to move, but somebody was spooning him. This couldn't be Laong, because it usually was the other ways around, the moon boy was spooning the maroon-haired boy. He squinted, because the morning sun just loomed on the horizon. The skin of strong arms hugging him looked dark, like Buri's arms. However, the one hugging him couldn't be the half-bred because I saw him and his ginger-headed boyfriend sleeping on the other side of the rooftop garden. When he tried to wiggle out of the strong arms, a sleepy voice muttered "Seb, Seb!" Now he remembered. It had to be Kaa, because Laong and Seb were snoring on some pillows close to the stairs.
Kaa became alert when Tsemo slipped out of his arms. Looking up, he observed him take a leak without leaving the roof garden. Kaa rose too and came after him. Standing side by side they piddled down from the roof, while Kaa uttered an apology, "When I spooned you this night I did it unintentionally. I am used to sleep with Seb and he likes me spooning him." "Don't worry; Laong and I are spooning every night. I don't mind, it was fine." hesitating a moment, "I even liked it!" Pointing to their dugout secured at the quay wall, "We have to check for the boat. It has to be ready to leave the harbor in any event, whether we come to an agreement with Lady Kamrushepa or not. We also have to check our weapons in case she objects to your release from slavery and has to be killed. In that case our boat has to be ready to leave all the more." Then Tsemo checked Kaa from head to toe, "Get out of that fancy attire, everybody will recognize you as Kamrusha's property in this gold bordered dress. Take one of Buri's loincloths and everybody will mistake you for him. We can get one at the boat."
Tsemo and Kaa, wearing just a loincloth, reached the boat undiscovered. Browsing their arsenal the moon prince choose daggers and short lances for Aegir and Buri, a bow and a quiver with arrows for Laong, while he himself selected a javelin he could use either for jabbing out or throwing at an enemy in distance. "Now take your pick Kaa, as a free man, you have the right to carry weapons!" When Kaa hesitated, Tsemo stated with conviction, "You will be free not later than the sun has filled the valley with her golden rays and your brother Seb as well. Take one of my javelins for him, they are lightweight, so he can use them despite he is still a child!"
Meanwhile neither Tsemo nor Kaa had paid attention to Kamrusha's house. Suddenly a noise made the turn around. Kenk was standing with a morning wood at the quay wall piddling into the sea. "Morning Tsemo, morning Buri, what you are up to? Are you planning to go for a hunt? Remember we wanted to start early." Shaking the fatigue from his bones, he grinned satisfied, "I tell you that was a night, let me say better, that was ride! Riding a boat during a winter storm is nothing compared to riding one of Kamrusha's zonahs." When Tsemo looked doubtful he retorted slightly pissed, "Ask my buddies! Jangi may not be able to walk straight for days."
Suddenly Kenk swung around, looked back and went pale. His eyes nearly popped out of his head and he stammered, "Oops! Am I nuts? Am I drunk? Are there two Buri's?" He looked back to the dugout. But Tsemo and he young black were still were on deck of the dugout. It has to be Buri, he was sure. Hadn't they clicked cups with each other just two days before and joked a lot? He turned his head. There was a black young man also. He shook his head in disbelieve. "Am I nut's? Has somebody bewitched me? The zonahs? Lady Kamrusha herself?"
Kenk opened his mouth to set up a cry of horror. Before he was able to emit a single cry the black guy on the quay pulled him in a headlock and put a hand over his mouth to silence him. He ordered "Calm down. Kenk! Keep your mouth shut! Let me explain." At first Kenk struggled to get free, after a while however he submitted to the force of his opponent, calmed down and was released. Meanwhile Tsemo and Kaa were back on the quay and Kaa planted himself in front of the young pirate besides the other black. Seeing the two black youngsters now side by side, Kenk noted some differences. First of all the skin of one of them seemed to be just tint darker, making the white of his eyes look much more spectacular. The darker one also looked stringier while the one with the lighter skin displayed more muscles. However, by no means he could be called fat. He just was more of a muscly teen. When Kenk compared their attire, he realized immediately the lighter skinned had to be Buri, because he remembered the worn out loincloth of the young man from the North Country had worn the days before. But who for heavens sake was his match? Noting Kenk's amazement Buri started to smile, "Meet my brother, Kenk! It's not a ghost. Calm down, it's my cousin Kaa. He comes from Ta-Seti, a land on the head of the big river, the Iteru Aa. Kaa is the son of my uncle King Teriahi. He and his small brother Seb are kept in slavery by Kamrusha. I and my friends will never approve their slavery. Kamrusha has to release both immediately and this has to be done before the sun fills the valley with his golden rays." Kenk hadn't assimilated this information fully, when Aegir and Laong showed up, the latter holding Seb's hand.
The hubbub on the quay had alarmed not only Aegir, but also Orco and the other pirates. The sturdy looking Hale immediately seized page with Kenk and took place beside him ready to defend his friend if needed. Tsemo considered the dangerous situation and took charge notwithstanding his small size, "Orco, as Kenk was already told, Prince Kaa and Prince Seb are the cousins of Buri and escaped hostages of the king of Tekrur. Without knowing their royal descent Kamrusha has bought them to sell them to men in her whorehouse. They are princes and not qdeshims. This will be never happen! Either she releases both immediately or we will liberate them by force."
Orco experienced in critical situations, needed just a moment to decide, "Kamrusha is a good friend of mine and you Sun Seekers are my friends also, but foremost the friends of my beloved Sejan, the king of Rhaydeston. I am responsible as well for your secure voyage to Tyruus as for the wellbeing of my friend Kamrusha. Therefore I advocate you refrain from force and strive for a settlement satisfactory for both sides."
"That has been my intention from the start," Tsemo said, reacting to this proposal. "I am willing to compensate the loss Kamrusha has to expect and offer her these two pearls. They are of immeasUhraable value, because they are presents of Adad's envoy, the Kirketin, the Kahin of Ecinli. These pearls are of divine origin!"
Meanwhile a crowd had gathered around the two parties. Attracted by hubbub Lady Kamrushepa arrived on the scene, catching her name she pushed to the arguing parties. She demanded to know. "What's going on? What will I be loosing? Who wants to compensate my loss?" Tsemo began to explain the situation. After stating Kaa's and Seb's royal ancestry he showed her two pearls of his treasure.
The divine pearls reflected the ray of the golden morning sun and Kamrushepa realized their value immediately. Being a shrewd business woman she got greedy for more and pondered how to push up the price, "Two glass beads for two quedeshins? Who do you think I am; a stupid tart? Do you want to cheat me? Pull a fast one on me?"
Tsemo squirmed in anger, "These are no glass beads. These are tears of the Noble Penn Shell collected in the Blue Deep Sea! They are the farewell present of my dear friend the Kahin of Ecinli!" Looking up to the sky, "My beloved Kirk is watching us at that moment from his place at the side of the holy trinity, Adad, Atar'ata and Simios. Take the pearls in exchange for the two or you will reap the revenge of the Almightiest!"
Lady Kamrushepa smiled arrogantly at Tsemo, "Young man!" she was using the pejorative term young man and not the being of unearthly descent, "Young man, I payed for this scum a dozen debens of gold, are you expecting yours two pearls are of equal value? Are you fooling me? You can't scare me by pretending these are the present of Adad!" she gave a shrill laugh and repeated" You want to pull a fast on me?" then she took the bigger of the two pearls between forefinger and thumb. "I will proof this pearl is just a bead of glass!"
Lady Kamrushepa put the pearl into her mouth and tried to crack it between her teeth. She tried hard and her face turned red, she tried harder, but did not succeed. However, suddenly she opened her mouth, clutched her throat with both hands, gasped for breath and dropped to the ground. In the dirt of he quay she turned in convolutions and blacked out. Fast as the summer wind Tsemo had caught the pearl dropping from Kamrusha's mouth and put it back the the others in his pocket.
The onlookers around fell in awe, backed off. Then one after the other knelt down and started to worship the holy Trinity their hands raised. A short time later the onlookers had left the quay in front of Kamrusha's cat house while the Sun Seekers and Orco together with his crew manned their boats.
The big dugout now to carry two additional members as Kaa and Seb had joined the crew on their way to Ta-Seti. Leaving the fjord the boats turned east. Blinded by the morning sun the reinforced team of the heavy dugout was able to keep up with slim boat of the pirates. Buri and Kaa taking the oars in the prow couldn't stop exchanging memories of their living up until now, while Aegir had to team up with Laong, which he did only reluctantly as the maroon-headed boy was no match to the strength of the red-haired son of a Viking tribal king. Aegir's attitude changed however when Tsemo took Laong's place around mid-morning, because he liked the moon boy more than he liked to admit.
Aegir had taken a liking for the fair-headed youngster from the first day their acquaintance. But out of loyalty to Buri he had never thought to deepen their relationship beyond a brotherly friendship. Now observing the unexpected closeness of Buri and Kaa the heart of the hotheaded teen decided to get into closer relationship to the moon boy. He doubled efforts on the oars just to ease Tsemo's work.
In the mean time Laong was teaching Seb how to navigate the heavy dugout through the rough waves. For Laong it was more like a game, Seb however was eager to learn all his new friend was teaching him. Besides he wanted to please him not only because he knew by heart the Sun Seekers had rescued him and his big brother from an uncertain fate. Becoming qdeshim had not been his dream at all, despite of his young age, he was fully aware of the fate of the temple boys as street bait for sex-hungry men. The other fact was the night before. It had been the first night he had felt safe since their near escape from Tyruus, safe because Laong had held him tight all night long. Despite he was about three years younger than the maroon-headed young teen Seb felt to be a match because of their equal size. Furthermore he was more than curious to learn how Laong would look in the buff. Back in Ta-Seti had always enjoyed skinny dipping with his friend. Laong on the other hand was curious how the black skinned boy was looking bare ass naked, especially after he had fumbled with Seb's goody when he had huddled to him the night before.
At late afternoon everybody was worn by the high speed after leaving Kamrusha's place in a hurry. Orco knowing the coast by heart guided the boats to a small sandy beach surrounded by dense thickets of evergreen sclerophyll shrubs and trees. Going a shore Orco announced, "That's the place, we stay for the next night. Nobody will suspect that we are taking refuge at this godforsaken hole, because it's close to Lady Kamrushepa's stronghold."
With the other Sun Seekers Aegir dragged the dugout across the beach into the shade of the shrubs. Alarmed by Orco's prediction he turned to the old pirate with questioning look, "Why should we hole up? Do you expect Kamrusha is sending her henchmen after us? I thought she's just a simple bawd luring men into her cat house." "You are way out of the mark, green boy. She has powerful friends all over the coastline and is ruthless to pursue her targets. She'll not accept a loss like the two princes. Kamrusha want back Kaa and Seb as well as take revenge for her defeat in front of the villagers." Buri listening closely interrupted Orco sharply, "If necessary we will fight her. We have succeeded in overcoming countless difficulties on our trip. We even have defeated the horrifying Great Mother. Fear doesn't count. I love my brothers! I'm not willing to surrender Kaa and Seb to that greedy hag!"
However, Buri's stern counterblast settled the dispute just for the moment. It started again, as soon they had established a bivouac in a small clearing in the shrub land and were about to have a scanty meal. Hale, the sturdiest of Orco's crew was still mad, because in the morning he had to leave Kamrusha's cat house without having a morning fuck with the lovely zonah he had fallen in love. Looking for an argument he furiously started to criticize the Sun Seekers, "What did you imagine would happen if you rob Lady Kamrushepa off her property? She paid for these two buggers decent money, a lot of money exactly! These buggers are nothing more than vain temple boys, with holes still reeking from the spunk of greedy punters. What a joke! Ridiculous! A king's sons? They are just imposters."
Without any warning Buri jumped at Hale and slashed his throat. With a groan the young pirate tumbled to the ground blood sputtering from the gap in his throat. While Hale's heart ceased beating Kenk, Jangi and Imsu attacked Buri after a moment of stupor. Soon a fierce fight flared up between the pirates and the Sun Seekers. At first Orco took part in the bloody medley, soon however, he tried to separate the two parties, well aware that the Sun Seekers were outnumbering the pirates. "Stupid boys, separate! Separate in the Almightiest name!" he shouted on top of his voice and started to swear trying to calm down both parties. "Stupid boys, it doesn't make any sense to kill each other. It was bloody Hale's fault! Calm down both parties! We got other problems!" Tsemo observing the fight with disgust tried to calm down his friends also. After a while the two parties retracted to opposite sides of the clearing and the novice of the druids and the old pirate negotiated the following agreement: The pirates would depart after sun-down, taking the corpse of Hale along and return to the kingdom of Rhaydeston. In turn the Sun Seekers had to find the way to Tyruus and afterwards to Ta-Seti on their own. Tsemo's offer to compensate for Hale's death with pearls of the Kahin was not accepted, as Orco and the young pirates suspected the wicked present would bring bad luck to everyone being of earthly descent.
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