Author Archives: Nathan Boutwell

Lazuli’s Band

Haphtha. Tarse. Ateta. Lazuli. Nephrana. Khenu. They are the most celebrated warriors in Queen Mawra’s realm of the Junglarak Forests.

Thanks to Lazuli and her scout band, the Junglara now had seven of the Coastal Plains guns to study. So far, the Mountain Women have shown no inclination to keep their promise and help the more primitive Junglara learn how to use the weapons and make their own. But the Junglara are far from backwards. The High Priestess immediately disassembled one gun. It was just wood and iron. Any carver and smith could build one. As for the powder, she used the same blend of coal, sulfur, and saltpeter to make rituals more dramatic.

Lazuli also brought the slaver leader back alive. The band fed the other six slavers to the wolves and ravens, still alive (although deprived of many body parts) and chained to rocks by their own collars. The slaver chief did talk before the Queen, but only after the scout chief threatened to cut off everything that stuck out of his body. She gelded him anyway for defiling her. To this day, the Queen keeps the Coastal man as a naked and humiliated show piece, chained to her throne.

Mawra presented all six women with golden arm bands, and declared them Eagles of the Junglara Plains. She elevated Lazuli to the rank of Lioness of the Dawn, the highest honor possible. The entire capital city held a feast day to celebrate the fiercest warriors the tribe had seen in a generation, six women who endured much only to triumph in the face of their adversaries and bring hope to their people.

But Lazuli and her scouts aren’t the kind of women to sit on their laurels. It’s boring. It also isn’t the Junglara way. So, the Stalwart Six are soon off on another adventure. This time, they want one of those Coastal Thunder Trees, otherwise known as a cannon. They’ll drag it home in time for dinner tomorrow night.

 

The Capture of the Junglara Women

 

The difference between courage and foolishness is often a matter of mere moments.

Lazuli was the best of the Junglara scouts. Many times she courted disaster or death by skirting close to the borders of the Junglarak Forests with the Coastal Plains. Every time, she came back with more knowledge of the outsiders. Today, however, she led her five sister warriors into an Coastal slavers’ trap. Just a move of the sun’s shadow later, and the slavers would have been on their way home.

Their battle lasted all of two fired arrows and one pistol shot. Realizing they could not defeat the iron guns of the Coastals, Lazuli ordered her sisters to surrender.

“Queen Mawra named you scout chief?” Nephrana snapped, tossing her spear onto the ground.

“Yes!” Lazuli replied. “Now do as I say.”

The six warrior women soon found themselves stripped of their weapons, then their clothing. Before long, the men began roping them. Worse, the slavers broke out the dreaded collars. So collared as slaves, they would lose their magnificent strength. Some said, even their souls. But their wits and determination would remain intact. Dead, they could do nothing. Alive, Lazuli saw opportunity.

As two wranglers wrestled with Lazuli, preparing to bind her, the slaver leader shouted, “These future whores are no doubt virgins. We need to prepare them for sale at the pleasure slave market. Break them in. I’ll take this one.” He pointed to Lazuli. The other men laughed. Lazuli understood every word.

“I will play the flute for any man who bares his loins,” Lazuli said in her native tongue. When none of the men responded, she knew they did not speak Junglari. She called out, “Hear me, sisters. They plan to defile us. Endure it!”

“You betrayed us!” Ateta cried as a slaver began fondling her breasts. Bound she could not stop him without jeopardizing her life.

“No! Hear me,” Lazuli said. “Endure the shame of nakedness before these cowards. Bear the pain of their ropes and collars. Grit your teeth for debasing and their seed. Spit, snarl, and curse if you must. Then, submit. But endure.”

Lazuli dreaded what the old man with the scar on his face would do to her, but it was worth it. For years, the Junglara had longed to get their hands on a Coastal gun. The Mountain Women promised teach them the ways of iron and smoke, but only if the Junglara proved themselves worthy and acquired their own gun. Several other scouts tried to get the long muskets away from Coastal soldiers, but the greencoats were too well trained. These men were slavers, however. Lazuli had crept inside Coastal cities, and knew slavers were men the army refused. Drunkards at best, lascivious cowards at worst, they knew gold better than they did weapons, and beer better than they did the Junglara.

She continued. “They will make a mistake. Perhaps when their lust is satiated, they will turn their backs on us. Then, we strike like the big cats! We will take this iron cart back home, along with their clothes and more importantly, their iron guns. We will keep one of these bastards alive, if we can. He will talk before our queen. I will see to that! We will learn the secrets of the Coastal guns and use them against the Sethi, finally driving that heresy back into their rotting caves. Perhaps, we can even drive these invaders into the sea! Endure and we shall prevail this day!”

The difference between courage and foolishness is often a matter of mere words.

The other Junglara looked at each other. They did their best to hide their smiles. Lazuli didn’t lead her squad into a slavers’ trap. The slavers delivered themselves right into Lazuli’s unsheathed claws.

 

Cornered

The mission was straightforward. Rescue the scholar Harius’ daughter Angela from the clutches of the Duke of Granfel. He suspected the foul nobleman wished to offer her as bride to his demon-god, a ceremony in which no woman ever survived the consummation. Getting into Granfel would be easy. They left the gate open and invited barbarians to trade. Women such as the trio often carried more gold and silver than merchants, something the Duke craved. Finding the young woman would also be easy. She would be kept in the tower of the Temple of Dakon, the largest structure in the city. From there, the job would become more complicated.

The task became more complicated the moment the trio stepped foot beyond the gate. The portcullis slammed down behind them. A dozen armed guards and a grinning captain stepped from behind the gate tower. The women were pinned between point and plank. Drawing their weapons, they faced their opponents.

“You are late,” the captain said. “Nevertheless, you are here. You three will comfort my men before being offered in the fires at Angela’s wedding to Dakon on the morrow.”

“Someone tipped them off,” Amber whispered to Sasha. “And I know who.”

“We’ll cut his throat later,” Sasha replied. “That is a promise.”

“If Harius learns of this, he will do the deed himself,” Lindsey muttered.

Sasha quickly sized up the situation. Thirteen men against three women. The women were backed up against wood, and wore the minimal garb of most barbarians. What metal they had was in their hands. The men had room to maneuver. They wore chest plates, carried spears, and thick swords dangled at their sides. There, the guards’ advantages ended. Even from a distance of fifteen feet, she smelled fresh ale. These men, while well dressed, were civilized city constables, not warriors from the wilds. They spent their days breaking up donnybrooks and by night coerced harlots into free services. Their well-fed bellies protruded over their wide leather belts. Only the captain looked fit enough to put up a good fight. That would be against three agile warriors born with swords in their hands to mothers who fought alongside the toughest men in the north. Sasha would have pitied them, but Harius paid her well enough to be ruthless.

She looked at the captain and snapped, “We’ve been in worse than this.”

“It isn’t the first,” Lindsey snarled.

“It won’t be the last,” Amber added with a growl.

“Didn’t your mother tell you never to corner an angry cat?” Sasha asked. Then, with a shout, the women charged.

Allyson Lyon

Three years from the day after tomorrow …

Her name is Allyson Lyon. She was a model and centerfold, most famous as Miss July for Playhouse. Then, came the Second Civil War. Allyson found herself in Topeka Women’s Re-Education Center. At least, she was alive, unlike 125 million other Americans. She staged a spectacular breakout, leading nine women, half of them “Non-American” (not Caucasian) to safety. Today, as Captain Lyon, she is the commander of the Dandelions, a guerilla squad fighting in the ruins of Dallas. Woe be to any American States Party soldiers she encounters. After what they did to her in Topeka, she doesn’t take prisoners.

A Damsel’s True Distress

“I saw her first, so the honor of rescuing her is mine,” the dark haired barbarian shouted.

“Well, I reached her first, so the honor goes to me,” the blonde man retorted.

“Gentlemen,” the damsel said. “Would you argue after you free me? These woods are full of ogres, you know. They do nasty things to women.”

The two warriors ignored her.

“My sword is longer, so I have the right to save her!” the blonde snarled.

“My cock is longer, so there!”

“Oh please!” the damsel muttered, rolling her eyes. “There’s enough of me for both of you. Haven’t you ever heard of a two-way?”

Apparently not, as the two men continued their argument.

The damsel sighed. Of all times to be the subject of a male pissing contest. She thought she might fare better with defilement by ogre than rescue by either of these two idiots.

Afternoon Noir

 

The warmth of the sun melts the cold memory of his empty embraces. The light of her resolve slices through the shadow of his betrayal. Watching him pull up in the driveway, Marian thinks, “Did you believe I wouldn’t find out? Working on Saturdays? The calls from your secretary at night? The smell of another woman on your clothes?” She plans to show him what he can no longer have, and give him a glimpse of the future that awaits him, should he ever return.

The Cemetery Gates

 

For 364 nights of the year, the ghouls in the old cemetery are content to gnaw on the flesh of the recently departed. On Halloween night, however, they like getting frisky with the living. They never actually harm the captives, releasing them at sunrise. The night of frolic reminds the ghouls that they were once alive. And of all nights for Sasha’s car to have a flat tire in front of the cemetery gates.

The Bride

 

When it came time for Baron von Frankenstein to give his creation a wife, he decided not to manufacture her. Instead, he stole a girl from two villages away. The “monster” is overjoyed to meet his bride. Claire, unfortunately, doesn’t share his sentiments.

The fifth of my Halloween Horror series. This one is good, old fashioned damsel-in-distress.

= = =

An epilogue, if I may. The “monster” was always more human than his creator. So, the old boy releases Claire, treats her to a delicious meal, a bottle of wine of exceptional vintage, and some classic fine conversation. She is so swept away by his charms that she looks forward to their consummation, despite his shopworn appearance.

Yeah, I’m a hopeless romantic!

 

The Old Cornfield

 

Marina walked by this old cornfield almost every day, and many nights, since childhood. Often, she stopped to talk to the scarecrow, who was polite enough to not talk back.

Tonight, however, things were different. The scarecrow leapt off her wooden brace. She grabbed Marina and stripped her naked. Then, the stuffed monster tied Marina to the brace. Now, Miss Crow is donning Marina’s clothes, as if she wants to go to the barn dance herself.

Just Being Nice

 

Hiromi was often called the kindest young woman in Arkham. She believed the best of everyone. So, she didn’t believe the “old wives tales” that circulate throughout the town. For instance, she refused to believe that Old Man Whateley was some sort of monster. The very idea that a woman was attacked by a “blasphemous Cycoplean horror” out in the village of Dunwich 100 years ago, and six weeks later gave birth to the hideous creature that was Mr. Whateley’s grandfather was just absurd! Although, she had never seen Old Man Whateley. Few had. He kept to himself, but that just made him another of Arkham’s many urban hermits.

Feeling sorry for Mr. Whateley, she decided to give him a treat this Halloween. She took him a bag of candy. Old men liked candy. Besides, she was dressed as a sexy witch and who didn’t love sexy witches?

When the old man opened the door, his appearance surprised her. What he said filled her with terror.

“You’re just in time,” he said. “I need to teach my grandsons about the birds and bees and you can help me demonstrate. My great-grandfather would insist.”

Then, Hiromi caught sight of his two grandsons. The “boys” caught sight of her.

Although she left most of her costume behind, Hiromi escaped. She will believe the “old wives” from now own.

= = =

The Whateley family is the antagonist in H.P. Lovecraft’s immortal “The Dunwich Horror.”

The Harlot’s Pillar

 

Of the emperors in the civilized world, Valdamses II of Ipiath considered himself the most forward thinking. In fact, he outlawed slavery. Unfortunately, such a vast realm needed cheap, or better, free, labor for field, shop, and wall, and to fill the ever-growing ranks of the army. With just a little bribery to the High Priest for his collusion, he declared that all bedpleasure between husband and wife was to produce children, especially sons, for the glory of Ipiath. If a couple did not birth a child every 12 to 18 months, they would be accused of adultery and fined heavily. The harshest law was aimed at harlots. Those women took to bed for pleasure. They birthed no sons for Valdamses or Ipiath, as was their duty. Worse, they knew how to prevent a man’s seed from sprouting, keeping their bodies supple and desirable. They encouraged husbands to visit them when their wives were with child, and wives stayed with child constantly because of Valdamses’ decree. Harlotry was outlawed and declared treason.

That law didn’t stop women like Drymeae from entering the harlot’s world. A half-caste with most occupations forbidden to her, all she had was her body. Literate and worldly, she learned the bedpleasure moves of many nations. Men, and not a few women, paid heavy silver for her services. Unfortunately, one night, she was caught in the act by the palace guard. Her customer received a mere fine, and was sent home to plant his seed in his wife and sire a son for Valdamses’s glory. In a public fit of well-rehearsed rage, the Emperor sentenced Drymeae to death.

One morning, soldiers dragged the condemned woman a day’s march from the capital. There, they chained her to the Harlot’s Pillar, to await death by heat and thirst. Unlike others who came before her, Drymeae was not afraid. Some of her customers had been men from foreign empires. They told her the “Fate of the Harlot’s Pillar.” Trade caravans passed this way, often filled with people from lands where harlotry was tolerated, and sometimes celebrated. They freed the women chained to the pillar, who went on to lead sumptuous lives in new homes. More common were the slavers who prowled the outskirts of Ipiath for women in her situation. A life as a concubine was better than this slow death. With her body, Drymeae should fetch a fine price at market. With her skills in bed, she was guaranteed at least decent treatment by her master.

Morning passed into noon and into afternoon. The sun beat down upon her like hammer upon anvil. She craved water. Yet, no sign of caravan or slave band. Drymeae’s legs weakened. The collar around her neck began to choke her. So, this was how it actually ended. She strangled herself to death with her own weight.

There. On the horizon. A speck. It drew closer. A rider! It moved in her direction. A man! He rode toward her. For what purpose, she wondered? It didn’t matter if he planned to break her chains or pierce her heart with steel. Either was better than the fate that awaited her on the Harlot’s Pillar.