As Darmata entered her chambers she looked around the room and sighed. For as much as the Warlock Order praised the simple life, their leadership lived in somewhat luxurious surroundings. The room was large and had high, vaulted ceilings. It was lit by candle light during the night, so there were shadows in a few places. There were large windows on the far side, which overlooked the City. The light from the Traveler shown through dimly, lighting the shadows with an ethereal light. The bed was next to the windows so as to allow the sunlight to shine on it. The room was the highest room in the building and therefore the highest in the City, so the need for curtains was unnecessary. It was believed by many, that bathing in the light of the Traveler would restore a weary Warlocks power, and since the position of leader of the Warlock Order was a worrisome position, the lack of curtains was seen as a blessing. The bed was a “four-post” bed with draperies that were tied on all four corners. The draperies could be loosened to enclose the entire bed for privacy’s sake. The bedposts had ornate carvings on them that covered the entire post.
The windows were covered with the same carvings as the bed. On the walls to either side of the bed, were large ornate bookcases filled with books on the history of the Warlock Order. Many of the things that were discovered by research into the Traveler were there, as well as many Old Earth books. Her favorite book, one that she had read many times, was an Old Earth tale involving knights and witches who fought for control over a small island nation. She liked the simplicity of the story, good versus evil, a damsel in distress. As much as the world had changed, and the place that women held in it, every girl still dreams of her knight in shining armor, a person who is willing to fight for her honor and save her from evil.
When she was a girl she and Ver’verd, who was known by a different name at the time, would play like these knights of old. He would save her from great imaginary dragons, and she would save him from evil witches who wanted him for their own. Every once in a while she would pretend that she was a world weary female warrior, with Ver’verd as her traveling companion, a strong warrior who would fight by her side as she used her talents to slay the Evil and bring peace to the world.
When she had first learned of her posting as the leader of the Council of Elders she was shown this room. At first she seemed as if she would be swallowed by the sheer magnitude of the room, but when she found the book, she squealed with delight and jumped on the bed, rolling around like a small child on a gigantic bed. As she’d read the book, she would imagine herself as the heroine with Ver’verd as just about every male character in the book.
She picked this book up now and thumbed through its worn pages. She put the book down and turned towards her writing desk, which was on the far side of the room. She picked up a quill, dipped it in the ink and wrote on the parchment. She began to craft a story in which a strong warrior would swoop in on a mighty steed and save the damsel from a life of obligation that she didn’t want. Of course she knew that this only happened in stories, and if anybody wanted to change their circumstances they had to do it themselves… but it was nice to think about.
Darmata sighed as her attendants walked in to prepare her bath and lay out her nightgown. Having attendants was the one thing that she wasn’t quite used to, as a person who was in her position should be. Often she wished that they would just leave her alone and do things on her own. In the beginning it was difficult having someone watching over her as she bathed, but eventually she got used to it, and then allowed her attendants to bathe her.
She walked to her bathroom, which was to the right of the entrance. She entered the room, which was half the size of her bedroom, and walked towards the waiting bath. She stopped in front of the large in-floor tub, and stood with her arms outstretched. She stepped out of her boots, and stood on the floor barefooted. An attendant stepped behind her and removed her robe, placing it in a basket to be taken for cleaning. Another attendant stepped in front of her, loosened her tunic and the drawstring of her trousers.
The attendant that was behind her had returned and removed her tunic from her shoulders. The trousers fell to the floor and she stepped gingerly into the bath. The warm water felt good against her skin as her attendants began to wash her. When they were finished, they took their leave and gave her a bit of privacy to soak in the bath. When she rose from the bath, the attendants were there to dry her with a towel and place a robe over her shoulders.
Darmata placed her arms through the sleeves of the robe, and dismissed her attendants. She turned around, walked over to the large mirror, and looked at herself in it. She stepped closer and removed the brown contact lenses from her eyes. She looked into the bare bionics and watched as the pupils whirred open to take in more light. When she leaned away from the mirror, the pupils of the bionic eyes whirred smaller to take in less. She scrutinized the scar tissue that surrounded her eyes and sighed. She never liked the way that her eyes looked, even with the contacts.
The Exo craftsmen had done an excellent job at making her eyes function as any normal eyes would. They even produced tears, which the craftsman had told her was only for the purpose of keeping the tissue around the eye moist. She always had to keep a moist towel in her pocket to wipe the area of her eyes in dry weather. She was reminded of how sad Ver’verd looked when he looked into her eyes. She tried as hard as she could to find organic replacements, but organic body parts were illegal, and if found out, there were stiff penalties.
She dropped the robe and stood there nude, checking every area that she didn’t like. Her feet were too big, her hands were calloused, one leg was slightly shorter than the other, her hips were too wide, her shoulders were too broad, her nose was crooked, her boobs were lopsided, and her stupid eyes were too far apart. She felt her legs, her stupid muscular legs. She touched her hips and grabbed at the flab that had developed above her waistline. She looked at the wrinkles in her neck and tilted her head down to see the skin collecting into folds. She remarked at how when she did this, she looked like she had a double, or even a triple chin.
Darmata was so disgusted by what she saw, that she picked up her robe and hurriedly put it back on, wrapping herself up in it tightly. While holding the robe against herself, she touched her stomach and instantly remembered what she was going to tell Ver’verd. She let the robe slip open and gently stroked her belly. She smiled softly and then turned to the side. Holding up her breasts, she tried to stick her belly out as much as she possibly could, trying to imagine herself pregnant. As she looked at the possibility of having a big ole prego belly, and who the father was, Darmata broke out into a large toothy grin, she slouched down, placing her head as far down as she could and, trying to hold up her belly with her other arm, she broke out into a fit of the giggles. She let her arms drop and retied the robe. She was definitely going to tell him the next time they were alone together. Still beaming, she placed her contact lenses back in and straightened out her hair. Regaining her composure, she went into the bedroom area where her attendants were waiting.
One of the attendants removed her robe as another grabbed two step stools. The two attendants stood on the stepstools with Darmatas’ nightgown above their heads. Darmata raised her arms and the attendants began lowering the nightgown over her. When they were finished, an attendant took the dirty clothes, placed them in a basket and dismissed herself. Of the remaining attendants, one began turning down the bed, while the other began to brush her hair.
“Sal-Drega is such a regal individual.” The attendant brushing Darmata’s hair said. “You must be so fortunate to be betrothed to such an amazing man.” Darmata’s nose crinkled and she shook her head. “You don’t think that he is amazing my lady? He is so refined and he commands such respect.”
“He is not all he is cracked up to be.” Darmata said, wincing as the attendant worked through a tangle. “To tell the truth, I am only doing it because it is my duty. In reality he disgusts me.”
“Really my lady.” The attendant said as she worked through another tangle. “I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe after the union you’ll be able to see his good qualities.”
The attendant that was turning down the bed spoke up. “Drega is scum wrapped in more scum. This one time he told an initiate to wipe his feet after the initiate accidentally spilled a small amount of water on Dregas’ boots. And you don’t want to know what he makes his own female attendants do.”
“I don’t really think that’s the way that Elder Sal-Drega really is.” The attendant who was brushing Darmata’s hair said. “There is a rumor that he is from humble beginnings. I bet he only acts that way because he misses his family.”
“Family?” The attendant who was turning down the bed said. “I don’t believe that he has any family. At least none to speak of.”
“Well, than all the more reason to be sympathetic to him.” The one brushing the hair said. “He’s probably lonely.”
The attendant who was turning down the bed had finished, walked toward the two, and crossed her arms across her chest. “I don’t know why you’re defending him. Remember what he did to…” A raised hand from Darmata cut her off.
“I do not want to talk about Sal-Drega anymore tonight.” Darmata said. “I just want to drop it.”
“Yes my lady.” The attendant by the bed said. “What I want to know is, just who was that Hunter that you were clinging onto when the elevator’s doors opened today?”
Darmata bristled slightly at hearing this comment. She had thought that no one had noticed. “I do not know of whom you speak of.”
“Oh you know the one.” The attendant by the bed said. “Tall, wears a leather duster with the long faced helmet and the “T” shaped visor.” The attendant raised her hands up to the side of her face and clasped them together. “Oh help me Mister Hunter! Help me!”
The attendant brushing Darmata’s hair stopped. She rounded on her partner. “How dare you speak to milady in such a way! You should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking such a thing! Milady would never, ever associate herself with a common Hunter when she has the great Elder Sal-Drega!”
The attendant by the bed scoffed. “Drega demands respect. I could tell that Hunter commands it.”
“That is enough the two of you, stop it!” Darmata commanded, her voice loud in anger. “Amanda you may leave. Anna please stay behind so that we may discuss an appropriate punishment.” Darmata stood and escorted Amanda from the room. Anna stood there looking at her feet, her hands clasped in front of her. When Darmata had closed the door and was sure that Amanda had gone; she turned to Anna. “Alright what do you know?” Darmata asked Anna.
“No-nothing my lady.” Anna said, not looking up. “I just saw the two of you in the elevator when the door opened. It was only for a brief moment, so I could have been mistaken. I’m sorry that I lost my sense of decorum with you my lady. I assure you that it won’t happen again.”
Darmata rolled her eyes. “Oh stuff it. That Dregaphile is gone now so you don’t have to hide behind all of that decorum crap. Just tell me what you know?”
“I’m sorry my lady.” Anna said as she shuffled her feet. “I don’t know anything.”
Darmata rolled her eyes again. “Traveler, why do I have to be around such week willed idiots.” She tried a softer approach. “Anna.” She said gently. “You do not have to be afraid. I will not be angry.”
Anna’s mouth opened and then closed, but no sound came out. When Darmata had reached her she flinched as Darmata laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Anna looked up and saw that Darmata really meant her no harm. “Honestly my lady?” She said. “All of the staff are talking about that Hunter. Some say that you were afraid of him and he tried to force himself upon you. When the doors opened, that was your chance to get away.”
Darmata smiled. “You are right you know. I was clinging onto him. Not out of a romantic moment mind you, but because I was startled by the amount of people that were falling through the doorway.” Darmata walked to the window. “The truth is…” Her voice trailed off as she began to wrap her arms around herself. “He is the most amazing man I have ever known.”
Anna’s eyes grew wide as realization dawned on her. “I knew it!” She exclaimed, and pointed a finger at Darmata while covering her mouth. “You are having an illicit affair with that Hunter!” She rushed towards Darmata and grabbed her hand. “Don’t worry milady your secrets safe with me.” She began to pull Darmata away from the window.
Darmata gave a little resistance. “That isn’t what I…” But she was cut off.
“Oh it must have been grand milady.” Anna continued, as she led Darmata to her chair. “It must have been a secret rendezvous, a mysterious stranger and the strength he possessed. He must have swept you off of your feet, or saved you from thugs, or maybe you were childhood friends, or…”
Darmata smiled as she took a seat. “Finally.” She thought. “I don’t have to hide, and this place feels a little more comfortable now.” Darmata looked at Anna and could see her pacing, lips moving, silently counting off on her fingers all of the possibilities on just how Darmata had met her illicit lover. Darmata spoke. “We knew each other as children. I loved him as much then as I do now.”
“Tell me more milady.” Anna said as she sat on her knees before her and looked up into Darmatas’ face. “Tell me everything.”
“All right, all right, I will.” Darmata said as she regaled Anna with stories of her time with the man now known as Ver’verd. When they were children, and when they had met again. She told her what she knew of that happened on Enceladus. She told her of what she heard from outside the door to the Council of Elders chamber. She told her of the working relationship that they had developed together, and she told her of the time in the elevator and what had caused the panic in the building. After she finished Anna’s mouth dropped open.
“He did what?” Anna said, eyes wide. “The two of you did that?” Anna dizzily stood up, wavered and then sat back down. “Milady he is absolutely amazing! Why is he not here, with you? Oh wait,” she shook her head, “don’t tell me. Are you going to see him again and tell him?”
“Soon.” Darmata said. “But you must not tell anyone. If anyone found out they might try to do something.”
“Oh I won’t milady.” Anna said. “I know how you can be. I remember when I was still an initiate and you tossed Radiance at me when I was cleaning the floors.”
“I remember.” Darmata said. “I felt so bad about it, I made you one of my attendants when you couldn’t become an apprentice. I hope that my temper wasn’t the cause for that.”
“It wasn’t milady. I was on my way out of the Order when that happened.” Anna said, as she rose to stand. “Well milady I’ll be on my way.”
“Oh Anna.” Darmata said as she rose and moved towards her bed. “Your punishment will be to assist me by yourself for thirty days.” Darmata reached her bed and climbed in.
“Yes milady.” Anna said as she exited the room. “Sleep well.” With that the door closed and Darmata drifted into a peaceful sleep.