Catalyst [Part 13]

By M. Greene - mgreene70@yahoo.com
published August 27, 2017
Summary

A strange, magical stone changes the lives of a group in Renaissance Europe

A few miles south of Lyons, Kingdom of France: 1575.

Livia had never ridden before, but she did not need to know how; Selim was an experienced horseman and, due to their merging, she now knew everything he did about how to control her mount. It was all about confidence; if the horse knew that you were an expert rider, you became one.

Although it was late November and quite chilly, the sun was shining and the sky was a clear cyan blue with not a cloud in sight. They were riding together through a narrow valley between high cliffs and Nazir reckoned that they would reach the city of Lyons well before nightfall. Livia was relieved; it would mean that she did not have to spend another night lying under a blanket on the rough ground. She was looking forward to a nice hot bath, another custom she had picked up from her Muslim friends, and perhaps some mulled wine to keep out the cold…

“Halt!”

A group of dirty and grizzled-looking men with long, unkempt hair suddenly appeared on horseback in front of them, blocking their path. They were obviously bandits; their mounts were thin and starved looking and they had an air of desperation about them. Livia glanced behind her down the narrow valley trail that they were following. The path there was also blocked by three more bandits. They were trapped; they had ridden into an ambush!

“Dismount and throw down any weapons you have,” the bandit leader said, in terrible, broken Italian; he had already expertly sized them up and could see from their horse and clothing that they were from Italy.. “Quickly now…” He was a burly man with a thick black beard.

“Do as they say,” Nazir warned. “They’re armed and outnumber us. We need to play this game slowly and carefully…”

They jumped down from their horses and were quickly surrounded by the bandits. There were ten of them altogether.

“What brings you to Lyons, Blackie?” the bandit chief asked Nazir, grinning to show a mouthful of rotten, green teeth. “A bit of trading, maybe? Let’s see what you’ve got in those lovely, fat panniers; by the exotic look of you, maybe some silk and a bit of ivory…”

Selim sniggered. “Blackie..?”

“Shut up, you slant-eyed Arab cunt,” the chief said, turning on Selim. “Get down on the ground… Now!”

Nazir gently patted the flanks of his horse. “Slant-eyed Arab cunt..?” he questioned.

“Just be quiet…” Selim sighed, lowering himself down onto the dusty track.

The robbers took their weapons as well as their horses along with the panniers containing everything they had. All that was left them were the clothes they stood up in, which luckily included the promissory notes sewn into Nazir’s robes and the packets from the Valide Sultan that Selim had hidden in his tunic. Even Fabio’s beloved stiletto dagger had been taken.

Once the bandits had definitely gone, they stood up and wondered what they should do next.

“I’m not leaving here without my knife,” Fabio said. “We have to follow them.”

“Agreed,” said Selim. “Apart from anything else, I’m not walking to Lyons and they’ve got all of our food supplies as well…”

Quickly, they amalgamated their bodies leaving only Nazir standing alone on the deserted valley track. Searching among the five piles of clothing on the ground, he changed into Fabio’s leather boots, doublet and hose as the darkest, most camouflaged clothing and that which offered the best mobility and protection. The remaining garments he hid behind a rock. Without wasting any more time, he headed quickly in the direction the bandits had taken.

It was almost dark by the time Nazir reached the bandits’ encampment, on an escarpment high up above the valley they had just travelled down. The robbers had lit a bonfire and were roasting some meat over it. All of the horses were tethered to some gnarled trees that lined the edge of the clearing.

“They have discovered our wine, I see,” Livia observed, seeing through Nazir’s eyes how the men were lurching drunkenly around the campfire and even singing out of tune in some cases.

“All to the good,” Nazir said. “They will soon be asleep and then, when night falls, we can strike…”

After they had eaten, each robber eventually dropped down into a drunken stupor, leaving one old bandit to keep watch over their camp. He too had consumed his fill of wine and was both sleepy and inattentive.

As soon as all was quiet, the five of them separated. Then, retaining their molten forms, they flowed slowly along the ground towards the robbers as moving pools of liquid mercury.

Fabio reassumed his human form as soon as he reached the bandits’ arms cache. Naked, he picked up his own dagger and passed an assortment of other sharp weapons to his sister and their friends. “Either stab them in the heart or straight through the eye into the brain,” he whispered. “We do not want them waking before we kill them. We should take down the old man keeping watch first, then the chief…”

The elderly watchman expired silently as his throat was cut from behind by Jamal. Simultaneously, the others each stabbed their chosen victim, leaving just half of the bandits alive. Luckily none of their first victims made a sound and the others slept on until they were dispatched in their turn.

“Unpleasant, but unfortunately necessary,” Nazir said, searching for what remained of their supplies among the bandits’ loot.

Fabio wiped the blood from his dagger and smiled. “I did not find it too unpleasant,” he remarked. “Quite the contrary, in fact…”

Nazir nodded. “Yes, and you are probably going to be very surprised and shocked to hear that I find that quite frightening…”

Fabio shook his head and laughed. “It was either us or them, and, on the whole, I prefer that it’s us. So do you, I suspect…”

Nazir shrugged. He could not deny the truth of that.

“What should we do about the bandits’ horses?” Jamal asked. “If we leave them tethered up here they will surely die.”

“We should set them free,” Livia advised. She shivered and hugged her bare breasts. “Now, please let us go and retrieve our clothing from that valley. I’m totally frozen up here…”

Paris, Kingdom of France: 1575.

They arrived in the French capital on the first Sunday in Advent after a journey of two whole months. Paris was a very small city compared with Venice or Constantinople and the narrow, dirt-strewn streets seemed uncivilized compared even to those of Rome.

“What a fucking shithole,” Fabio said as they rode together down one of the narrow and crowded main streets over mounds of human rubbish and waste.

“It has a famed university,” Nazir returned. “One of the oldest in Europe.”

“But not a system of cisterns or latrines it would seem,” Selim said, pinching his nose. “Come on, let us see if we can find a decent inn…”

They could have saved a lot of money by amalgamating together to become one solitary traveller, but instead, they stayed as they were and hired a suite of chambers at the most expensive and luxurious hotel the city had to offer, with stables for their horses and a great reputation for vermin-free beds and excellent food. Nazir and Selim were both rich, after all, so it made little sense to stint on their accommodation. They were exhausted after their eight-week journey across northern Italy and up through France, so they all felt that they needed a little luxury. Unusually for Europe, the inn even had its own bath and steam house, which they made use of together on the first night.

“Will we get to meet the King of France while we’re here?” Livia asked, pouring more water onto the red hot coals and luxuriating in the fresh steam it produced.

“The Valide Sultan has given us no orders concerning Paris,” Selim replied. “She is only interested in furthering contact with Elizabeth, the English Queen, who she sees as her sister.”

“Good Queen Bess…” Jamal murmured, momentarily removing his mouth from Selim’s dick to say it.

“They say that the French king is a total and utter pervert,” Fabio observed. Nazir was licking his ass and they were both loving it, so he guessed that probably made them a bit perverted too… What the fuck?

Selim laughed. “Yes; Henri III is said to be interested only in his ‘mignons’; a group of incredibly violent, but effeminate men that he has constantly gathered around him.” He raised an eyebrow. “They sound rather like you, in fact, Fabio…”

“Stop that,” Fabio said, smiling. Nazir’s tongue was really very skilful; he was going to shoot his load in a minute…

“In any case,” Selim continued, “everyone here knows that the country is ruled by Henri’s mother, Catherine de Medici. She recently ordered all the Protestant Christians in France to be murdered. It was called ‘The Massacre of the Huguenots’.” He grimaced. “Apparently it was a very bloody business involving thousands of deaths all over the country. I think that is why our Valide Sultan shows no interest in dealing with France. They are far too Roman Catholic for her. She prefers the English Protestants because their beliefs and ways of worshipping God are more in tune with those of Islam…”

Fabio gasped as Nazir forced his tongue in even deeper. “Uhh… So we leave for England as soon as possible then?”

“Yes…” Selim was also finding it hard to speak as he was close to orgasm himself. Reaching out his right hand, he began playfully fingering the lips of Livia’s vagina. She neither protested or closed her legs… Selim decided that he rather liked the twins and that he was pleased they had become part of their fold.

A few seconds later, Jamal got to swallow his master’s seed. He licked his lips with satisfaction. “It will be good to get back to England again,” he said. “It’s been so long since I had a decent pint of ale…”

“I will buy you that first pint, my beloved slave…”

They heard a series of urgent knocks on the outside of the bathhouse door. Selim rose, wrapped himself in a linen gown and went to unbar it. Even though he only opened the door a crack, a blast of cold December air made the others shiver and begin to hurriedly dress themselves. The landlord of the inn was standing outside looking very worried indeed. When he saw Selim appear in the doorway, he bowed and began wringing his hands. “Apologies for disturbing you, your Worship," he said in schoolroom Latin. "If it please you, Sir, her Majesty the Queen Mother requests the honour of your presence immediately.” He looked nervously behind him and swallowed hard. “She’s even sent a platoon of guards to escort you all safely to the palace…”

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