Chapter 5: The Land Without Footprints: Shadows Amognst Shadows

Posted: August 3, 2013 in Novel: The Land Without Footprints
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Book description: The Land Without Footprints: Shadows Amongst Shadows is set in the Modern Middle Ages, the age after the ages of Earth, when humans inhabit a planet where, unbeknownst to them, the moons control every action. What remains of the Earth is confined to books. In fact, many have decided to live by the rules of those books once called fiction. But no fiction or reality rules over the Mystic. He rules by only two laws: obey his desires and obey your desires. His desires are twofold: virgins and immortality. However, the desires of his subjects are as wicked as ever known. But the Dagens, a family rooted in the old ways of society, cannot give into their desires. They cannot kill just to kill, hate just to hate, destroy just to destroy. Yet if society is to become what it once was, the Dagens must destroy freedom and place chains around those who no longer wish to be chained.

5 – Cassandra

“I can smell your virginity,” the Mystic’s wife said. She had been the Mystic before Arkin, so nobody could doubt her abilities.

Cassandra patted the old woman’s head with a damp rag. “I’ve broken the hymen of my mind, my lady.” Rumor said she was no longer queen.

“But the one between your thighs is much different,” the woman said, reaching out. Her fingers looked like they’d started to decay. Brown spots covered her hands and arms. “An old woman cannot hurt you as much as a man.”

“But you can still do harm.” Quickly quick, Cassandra moved to the other side of the bed.

Coughs crept from the woman’s mouth. Green mucus too. She didn’t have the strength to bring her hand up to her face.

“I’ve bedded more women than Don Juan,” the sick woman said, as Cassandra cleaned her mouth.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know the reference, my lady.”

The old woman’s voice turned raspy: “He was a fuck-artist, girl. Twenty thousand women he went inside of. Twenty thousand. I’ve quadrupled that number and I won’t find half the praise when I’m dead.”

“You’ll never die, my lady.” Cassandra returned to the other side of the bed, dipped the rag into a bucket of water. “You’ll live as long as you choose.”

“You believe that shit, girl?”

“I believe in my belief.”

The woman raised her arm and then it fell. “I’ll be inside the bellies of ants and flies by the end of the year. Your belief won’t change that. A thousand virgins couldn’t give me back my strength. Death will be the last thing to fuck me.”

“Do you want me to rub your feet, my lady?”

“Why would you rub feet that can’t feel, girl?” Cassandra didn’t answer. “If you want to help me then find a weapon and shove it into my womb. I’d rather death fuck me fast instead of drawing it out into a slow, long, exhausting process. I grew tired of slow fucks over sixty years ago.”

Cassandra couldn’t imagine what the Mystic’s wife had looked like sixty years ago. Already the woman smelled like she was dead. Her breath had the scent of waste and rot. But maybe once she’d had flower-fragranced hair and a face so smooth and delicate that powders wished to rest on it, and a body in the shape of a woman and not that of a pile of sticks. Cassandra couldn’t picture it though. No, she could only think of the images disjointed, connected to nobody in particular.

“Do you hear me, girl? Find something sharp to shove up my sagging vagina.”

“I can’t, my lady.”

“You say can’t in front of your queen?”

“Rumor says you are no longer queen, my lady.”

“And when has rumor and truth ever shared a pillow?”

Cassandra swallowed the lump in her throat, answered: “Never, my lady.”

“Never,” the woman repeated, then coughed and coughed and coughed. “You’ll suck on my sagging teats if I tell you to, girl. Now suck.”

“Yes, my lady.” Cassandra put the rag in the bucket, then pulled back the old woman’s bedcovers.

“Don’t revert to your babyhood,” a voice said from the door. The long white beard told Cassandra it was the Mystic. “You should only follow your own choices,” he added, once he came up beside her at the side of the bed. For one so old, his posture was young, erect.

“The girl’s a whore,” the old woman said. “She knows nothing but pleasure.”

The Mystic stared his wife in the eyes, said: “You’re tired, Wife. You’re very tired.”

“I am tired,” his wife said, lids fluttering. Soon she fell into a slumber.

What trick the Mystic used to put her to sleep, Cassandra didn’t know. Many talked about magic, but who actually knew how to control it?

“You should only follow your own choices,” the Mystic repeated. He didn’t sound like a man afraid of anything, especially not babies.

“I would do whatever my God asks, my king,” Cassandra said, covering the snoring woman.

“You’re a very fluent liar,” the Mystic said, and he snorted, too. “How old are you?”

“Fifteen, my king.” Cassandra strengthened her posture.

“You’re too young to be a fluent liar,” the Mystic said, stroking her cheek. The rumors were true: he smelled of blood and virginity. His hand went from her cheek to her lips to her neck. “Do you enjoy unnecessary contact?”

“I like it very much, my king,” Cassandra said, voice and body atremble. She no longer liked her decision to wear a ring. Perhaps it did attract sexual attention. Once she returned to her rooms, she’d take it off.

“Only those I hate are forced to call me king,” the Mystic said, tracing her bare shoulder with his finger. “Call me Arkin,”

She forced a smile. “Yes, Arkin.”

“No is a much prettier sounding word,” the Mystic said, stroking his beard with his free hand. “Would you tell your father if I spread your legs and stripped you of your virtue?”

“No, Arkin.” She wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t. “I’ve never valued virginity as a virtue.”

“The House of Dagen has served the House of Jormungand well for many years.” He stopped investigating her body. “Your father runs this house as if it is his own. And currently your brothers are doing me a favor. You have tended to my wife well.”

“Thank you, Arkin.”

After a tug of his beard, he said: “Leave me before I go against my promise to your father and rape you.”

Cassandra curtsied, left, the ring already off her finger.

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