The Caliph The Caliph
In the distant city of Tavan-dirith, the Caliph leaned back comfortably against his satin pillows. He was an elegantly attired man in his early sixties. A slight pot belly billowed from under his silken robes. On either side of him, scantily clad wives waved palm fronds to cool his skin.
"Caliph Armisia!" cried a messenger, rushing into the chamber. His shoes tapped against the tiles in an annoying manner. Armisia sat up and frowned at his servant.
"Kalyd, you know better than to interrupt me at this time of day," the Caliph scolded.
The man bobbed up and down, making apologetic gestures. "But Master! There is astounding news!" He pulled a sealed letter from under his surcoat. "It is a letter from the Lady Paladin!"
The Caliph rolled off the pillows. "What?! Give it here!" he cried, scampering up from the floor. He eagerly took the parchment in his pudgy hands. "I do not know the seal on the letter, but I know her handwriting," he confirmed, breaking the wax seal and perusing the contents.
"Father, what does she say?" asked Caliph Armisia's son, Gazan.
"Ah!" the Caliph's lips parted in a satisfied smile. "She will finally fulfill our agreement of old. She also wants many reinforcements for an ally of hers, a Bacca who is High Lord of All That Kicks Ass. My, she usually doesn't use language like that, so it must actually be part of the man's title. Most interesting." Armisia stroked his chin.
The caliph turned to his son. "Gazan, gather our forces together. We leave at once for the Dark Lord's Keep."
"Father, ALL of our forces?!" Gazan protested.
"No, just some of the best." Armisia grinned smugly. "You know how I like showing my weaponry off to beautiful women."
Gazan rolled his eyes at the double-edged line. "Even for a women who refused to be your wife, and, above all, refused to be headwife? You are a delusional old man."
"Ha! I'm a delusional old man with 117 wives! Do not forget that, Gazan. I have full rights to brag! Pull our forces together immediately. Equip my personal airship for the flight. And make sure that my wives are prepared to leave within the hour."
Gazan's lip twitched. "Yes, Father. Is there anything else you want to do?"
Caliph Armisia pondered for a second. "I think that is all for now. Just amass a sample of our very best forces. It is high time we supported the forces against Mog. And make sure my wives bring clothing for the dear Lady. She always dresses with such repulsive modesty. Bah. I must speak with this Bacca and arrange for her to wear less."
"Very well, Father," Gazan bowed, barely containing his disgust for his lecherous father. "We will be ready to leave immediately."
Lady Paladin waited nervously in the great hall of the Dark Lord's keep. Caliph Armisia has arrived an hour before, and she had told his messenger that she would meet the Caliph at this time. It was a meeting that she had delayed for two years, and the healer could not help but be nervous.
She could hear echoes of laughter coming from down the hallway. Frowning, she wondering who it could possibly be. Just then, Bacca and the Caliph emerged, laughing and talking like old friends. Her jaw dropped.
Caliph Armisia caught sight of the white-robed healer. He opened his arms wide and cried out to her, "Ah! It is my fine flower of the desert at last! I have waited so very long to see you dance seductively before this old man's eyes, and now my wish has finally come true." He embraced Lady Paladin, and she knew in annoyance that he was just trying to get a feel. The Caliph then pulled back and motioned to Bacca. "And I have met your High Lord and found him to be an exceptional companion. I have agreed to supply him with a substantial number of my forces, including my mech and airship units." Bacca was grinning from ear-to-ear from the relief of having more back-up units; Lady Paladin shot him an annoyed look to remind him of the source.
"I am glad to see you again, Caliph Armisia." That was an outright lie. She bent to kiss the rings on his hand. "How long are we to have the pleasure of your blessed presence?"
"Not long, I fear," said the Caliph in a sad tone. "We left as soon as we received your message, but I have much business to conduct in my palace. I shall stay for this evening, and only that. So you must prepare for your dance within two hours time."
"T-two hours?" the healer stammered, blushing a deep red.
The Caliph continued, "Yes, two hours. And I have given Bacca the honor of choosing your costume."
"B-Bacca's going to choose my costume?" Bacca feared she was going to faint. "B-But I have something prepared, and have for quite a while..."
Caliph Armisia scoffed. "And it probably covers you from shoulder to knee. You must wear less than that, sweet flower. As it is, look at yourself!" He waved a hand at her attire. "Your entire form is covered! You have two layers of robes, that crinkley stuff and then leather to conceal your beautiful bre--"
Bacca coughed and interrupted him. Lady Paladin had turned such a mortified shade of red, he knew it had to stop. "Now Lady, please trust me. I will pick something that fulfills Caliph Armisia's requirements and still lets you feel decent, OK?" He felt as though he were comforting a panic-stricken child.
She managed a shaky nod. "I think I will go to my quarters now, if you do not mind, Caliph, High Lord. I think I need a nap before I dance tonight."
The Caliph waved her away. "Very well, woman. I shall see you in much less clothing in a few hours."
Bacca added, "And I'll deliver your costume 30 minutes to an hour beforehand so you'll be ready."
"Are you certain you can spare the time out of your schedule to choose a woman's clothing?" she snapped, and realized what she said. "I'm sorry, I just really need to rest." Lady Paladin turned and hurried from the great hall, biting her lip in embarrassment.
"Such a fine, spirited lady," sighed the Caliph. "I envy the man who has her heart."
Bacca just leaned back against the wall and smiled.
Bacca hesitantly knocked on Lady Paladin's door. He had presented her with his choice of costume, and she had spent the last thirty minutes inside her chambers. "Lady, are you ready? It is almost time." No answer. Cursing silently under his breath, he wondered if he would have to ram the door down to get her out. The warrior took a step back, preparing.
Suddenly the door opened. Bacca froze. He couldn't believe it -- was this the same Lady Paladin he had known for months?
She stood quietly in the doorway, a slight blush tinting her cheeks. Her golden hair had been brushed thoroughly and parted to the side, almost concealing her right eye. As Bacca noted her clothing, he knew he had made a good choice. Almost too good. A velvety, off-white fabric hugged her breasts, with tassels hanging along the underside of her bosom to enhance each and every movement. A modest skirt covered her hips -- it was of a light fabric, almost translucent in nature. The skirt shifted in an appealing manner with each step. From the elbow down on each arm, a shredded silken cloth covered her hands; the cloth had bells sown amongst its folds that seemed to jingle with every breath.
Bacca stared, his mind blank. Lady Paladin bit her lower lip and looked up at him, trying to gage his reaction. "How do I look?" she finally asked, worried.
"More beautiful than words can express," he honestly replied, reaching to take her hand. The bells tinkled. She let out a gush of breath in relief.
"I'm glad. I was so worried." She managed a smile. "I'm still so afraid that I'll mess-up in front of everyone, especially you."
"Oh, now get those worries out of your head." Bacca leaned forward and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. "You'll be fine. Right now I'm going to go tell the Caliph that you are ready. Head to the great hall in a few minutes."
She nodded. "I'll be there."
Bacca told Caliph Armisia that Lady Paladin was almost ready. The Caliph nodded, and urged the warrior to take a seat. "Here, High Lord Of All That Kicks Ass, sit beside me and the best of my wives." The women gazed at Bacca with approving, hungry eyes.
"Very well," he said with a grin, and sat down.
"She's coming!" a sentry announced. The small audience quieted. Lady Paladin entered the room through the side, and a chorus of "ahhs" greeted her. She walked uncertainly to the front of the room, and the looked to the audience.
Jealousy unexpectedly flamed in her chest. There was Bacca, surrounded by the Caliph's most beautiful wives. And he actually looked happy! The healer ground her teeth together. "I'll dance so he'll only notice me!" she vowed to herself, motivation flowing into every muscle. "And if he doesn't notice me, I'll remove every stitch of clothing if necessary!"
Lady Paladin raised her arms high in the air, and closed her eyes. She seemed to be suspended in time, a statue, as everyone anxiously awaited her next move. She suddenly spun into action, twirling her body in dizzying circles and moving her hips in a "come hither" call. Even the Caliph's jaw dropped in surprise and pleasure. He had so feared she would be meek and shy before him, but now she proved herself to have the grace of a swan and the spirit of a flame. He clasped his sweaty hands together and watched with greedy eyes.
But the Caliph was not the one that Lady Paladin had her brown eyes locked on. The object of her dance was Bacca, and as far as she was concerned, they were alone in the room. She swirled her way to the brown-haired warrior and danced her best. Every jiggle, every tingle of a bell, every unfurled lock of blonde hair spinning about her shoulders, were for Bacca. He sat there mesmerized, as though in a trance, just watching her.
At last, it came to the finale. She did a final spin, and then, moving her belly in the erotic manner that harem girls do, she lowered herself to the floor and lay there flat, her chest heaving from exhaustion. There was a moment of stunned silence, and then the Caliph's entourage burst into fervent applause.
The Caliph leaped from his seat in a rustle of silk. "A thousand! She shall have a thousand of my mechs! And a fleet of airships! May the Gods give me strength to not swoon from gazing upon her lovely form!"
The healer ignored the Caliph's nauseating praise, and looked up at Bacca from his feet. The warrior had said nothing yet, and had barely even clapped. He just stared at her. She batted her eyelashes and then purred to him in an unusually blatant way, "Was my performance satisfactory to you, my Bacca?"
Sky H Ainsworth
Bacca was overcome in passion. He stared at Lady Paladin and his heart throbbed in his chest.
He stood slowly, unsurely. He crossed the short distance to Lady, much to the chagrin of the harem women. He reached down and took Lady's hand. Lifting Lady to her feet, Bacca continued to stare into her eyes.
The Caliph was still speaking his praises, but quieted at the strange occurrence. Bacca paid no heed. He instead, leaned down and kissed Lady's lips.
Bacca's arms encircled the woman and brought her body close to his. Bacca was wearing cloth trousers and a long sleeved tunic of simple design. This was his "formal" wear and it looked that way on him. It looked all the more formal next to Lady Paladin.
Bacca could feel the warmth and rapidly beating heart of Lady. His heart joined hers in rhythm. Everyone in the room stared at the lovers.
The Caliph grinned. He walked back to his wives and took one of their hands, his current favorite.
"She has captured another heart," said the Caliph. "Like she captured mine. Ah, you women all know magic and that is why it is so difficult for men to resist you." The Caliph smiled at his words of wisdom while the women feigned agreement.
Bacca pulled away from Lady and looked into her eyes. His eyes then lowered, he had difficulty containing himself and focusing his thoughts.
"I will see you later tonight," said Bacca. It sounded like a request, but could have been a command. Lady did not care. She would have accepted either way.
The healer turned exotic dancer separated herself from Bacca and slipped out of the room. Bacca adjust his clothes and returned to the Caliph's side.
"She is an amazing women, no?" asked the Caliph.
"Yes, she is," answered Bacca. "I am surprised you let her go so quickly."
"What could I do," said the Caliph, throwing his arms up. "She did my family a great service and I felt obligated."
Bacca took a quick sip of some wine offered to him. He was still panting slightly. The women seemed even more interested in Bacca now. Wherever he looked, one of them was trying to entice him her looks. Bacca paid them no heed and politely rejected their advances.
After Bacca had recovered some, he spoke. "So tell me, my dear Caliph, about these mechs. I hear from countless sources that they are the best in the world."
"Ah! They are. They are made by the Ispano Clan and their real name is Guymelefs. Twenty-five feet high, powered by energists, and armed with swords or any other weapon you can fashion for them. They are world renowned for their speed, reaction time, and strength. Any army in the world would be foolish to not have at least ten of my guymelefs with them."
"Oh, my lord Caliph," said Bacca. "Your generosity is truly great. And since you have given me such a great gift, please, allow me to give you a gift."
"Oh no, I could not possibly accept," said the Caliph.
"But you must," said Bacca. "You are a guest here and I have been lacking in my responsibilities as host. Here, here is your gift." Bacca clapped his hands. Two soldiers standing off to the side of the room looked at each other, unsure if that was their signal.
The soldiers stooped down and picked up a heavy chest with silver inlays. It took both their hands to carry the thing over. They placed the chest before Bacca and the Caliph and Bacca stood up, shrugging off a few of the harem women's hands, and opened the chest.
Glittering jewels greeted them all. Gold ornaments, and delicate items filled the chest to the brim.
"These fashionable items are a gift from me to you, my lord Caliph," said Bacca. "Please accept them as a humble host can only give to a truly wonderful guest." Bacca stooped down and picked up some items. He walked over and gave a jewel and piece of jewelry to each wife and then gave a bulk of the jewels to the Caliph.
The old man marveled at the treasures.
"Oh, thank you, my lord Bacca," said the Caliph. "These are truly great treasures."
The two talked a little longer about business and war and Bacca finally managed to slip away.
Going straight to Lady Paladin's quarters, the guard on duty stopped Bacca.
"The lady gave orders to not be disturbed, sir," the guard gulped, unsure of protocol.
"Good," said Bacca. "Don't change that."
Bacca opened the door to see Lady in a bath. The bubbles covered all of the water.
At hearing and then seeing the door open, Lady was a little shocked. But seeing that it was the High Lord, she smiled warmly.
"Did the Caliph finally disturb you enough for you to want to leave?" asked Lady.
"More like the harem women were getting to me," said Bacca.
The warrior closed the door and secured it. He then crossed to the tub and disrobed. Bacca then quickly jumped into the tub with the surprised healer.
Sitting back and taking in the warmth of the water, Bacca sighed.
"So tell me," began the swordsman, "how did you learn to dance so well?"