“It’s the proof of the coming-of-age ceremony.”
Chief Kahanti’s eyes gleamed strangely, looking at the stained mat with sweat, bodily fluids, and a bit of blood in front of him.
“You usually see women like you see rocks, so I thought you didn’t have much strength over there. Seems like you weren’t a eunuch.”
He uttered with a sneer.
Tarhan coldly received the chief’s gaze. After showing it, he wrapped the mat around again and brought it back. He knew that there were perverts who would pay a high price for the mats used in the coming-of-age ceremonies.
He planned to wash the bloodstained mat himself and dry it in the sunlight.
As he walked back home, Tarhan realized that it had been almost a fortnight he had been in the sun. He absentmindedly recalled the past ten days, scratching his chin.
Even in his opinion, those were excessively intense days.
Not a single moment passed without being separated from her body. The times when he embraced the small and delicate body, consuming her entire body. Until they were wet with sweat and saliva so intertwined that it was impossible to tell whose was whose. Days when the two bodies were entangled like a lump of charcoal in an explicable passion. Moments where shame and restraint were nowhere to be found.
Twisting and turning, the body contorting to the point of grotesqueness, all in the pursuit of becoming one.
He found himself helplessly pulled into her, like a dimpir, grabbing her arm even more when she tried to pull away. He relentlessly pulled her until she was unconscious.
Despite knowing in his mind that he shouldn’t succumb, he failed miserably in pushing her away.
‘I must be out of my mind. I might be addicted. Otherwise, I wouldn’t act like such a lunatic…’
It was irresistible.
The relationship with her was the best memory he had ever experienced in his life. Every time their bodies met, Tarhan felt a sensation as if a bright light exploded before his eyes. It was as if her body provided a refuge in his pain-ridden life, like a dewdrop falling on his parched tongue just before dying.
He simply couldn’t resist.
When he returned home, she was exhausted and asleep.
Tarhan approached her on tiptoe. Tenderly, he kissed her feverish forehead and the bruised neck filled with red marks.
“Enya… I’m back.”
She woke up immediately.
Now accustomed, she looped her arms around his neck, and he wrapped his arms around her side so she could hug him comfortably.
As he held her, he momentarily tightened his lips at the evil desire that came flooding into his body like a habit. It was peculiar that he had forgotten that he had embraced her until she fainted the previous night. A strange strength began to surge through his entire body.
However, such thoughts were fleeting.
Once the sweet and soft touch of her skin, without any firmness, made contact with him, he couldn’t bear it without pressing his lips on it. He wanted to bury himself in her skin and become one with her.
The insatiable sense of loss, the uncontrollable impatience, and the hunger that couldn’t be endured seemed to have twisted inside him at some point. Tarhan shamelessly and persistently worshiped at her feet day and night, driven by a need that bordered on madness.
It was the same now.
He urgently kissed her lower abdomen as he sensed that his lungs were aching and in pain despite not complaining of any when he carried a corpse basket larger than his own body.
Although she couldn’t open her eyes properly, she immediately spread her knees apart.
Whenever she called his name like that, he couldn’t get his mind right. The only desire was to push anything into her, and if not, it felt like he would die.
Tarhan positioned himself between her legs, clasping her hands and bowed his head. Eventually, his head began to move dynamically. He felt her body tense, then immediately relaxed.
It was swollen and sore because of the prolonged time. During that brief moment when Tarhan was separated, he felt a sensation as if a part of himself was dying and now reviving. He tenderly immersed himself there as much as possible, starting to suck gently with a feeling as desperate as the guilt he felt towards her.
In the early dawn, when no one was awake, he quietly took Enya out. Even as a boy, whenever he had time amid his busy schedule, he would take her wrists, who would be busy making pots or weaving rugs at home, and lead her out of the house to the outskirts of the village.
“Come here. I have a place to go together.”
Enya widened her eyes and followed without knowing why. Tarhan carried her and went quite far. In the dry evening air, he sat her down, putting a gentle leather rug on for her to sit on.
“Look up there.”
Hugging her tightly, he gave a word. When she raised her head, she could see the stars pouring in the night sky.
Sure enough, her eyes opened, and an exclamation poured out of her lips.
Tarhan proudly watched her. The sight of the stars decorating the night sky sparkled as if they were embedded in her eyes.
Whenever there was an occasion to go outside the village, Tarhan would take her to places with breathtaking views and open landscapes. It didn’t have to be stars. The scenes he wanted to show her ranged from the fiery red glow of the evening sunset to the majestic spectacle of dawn breaking.
When he pointed at such landscapes with his fingers, Enya would lose herself for a while, gazing at them.
However, today was a bit more special.
While quietly observing Enya’s profile as she looked at the falling stars, he took a small pouch from his pocket with trembling hands.
His fingers were shaking like a fool, and Tarhan mumbled an insult under his breath.
Silently extending the pouch that his hand held, Enya, who was nestled in his arms, seemed surprised. A stiffness could be felt in the back of her head.
He felt the impatience burning him as he watched her slowly open the pouch.
It was a necklace made of ivory from the tusks of the Gempas. A necklace adorned with a golden frame.
Tarhan gulped in tension.
He wanted to confirm her expression right away. He wanted to ask whether she liked it or not. In the meanwhile, she remained silent for a while. Her hand, holding the necklace in her palm, seemed to tremble slightly.
After a while, she slowly turned her head.
He anxiously examined her expression, like a criminal waiting for a sentence.
“Thank you, Tarhan. I…”
It was clearly visible even in the darkness. Enya’s eyes, with lowered eyelashes and a look of helplessness, were filled with tears.
She would appear unmistakably wounded to anyone who saw her. She gazed at the necklace with a troubled face. As if she wanted to remove it right away from her sight, Enya carefully placed it back into the pouch with delicate fingers.
She gazed at him and somehow managed to speak with a hoarse voice.
“I’ll… I’ll really cherish it.”
Her voice trembled thinly.
Tarhan looked down at her, at a loss for words. A sense of deep disappointment and despair surged in.
What part exactly didn’t please her? Was the gold too insignificant? Did the design seem too insignificant? The moment when he had collected and handed over the gold he had saved up, pleading earnestly with the goldsmith, it now seemed in vain.
A sense of dejection overwhelmed him.
As he pondered about the reasons, something suddenly touched his neck. Enya had placed her arms around his neck with shy eyes.
In that action, he felt the intense emotions within him rapidly fade away.
Enya, without saying a word, gently placed her lips on his, her shy eyes showing hesitation. In the soft and wonderful pleasure of their lips moving together, he forgot the turmoil he had been going through. He immediately joined in, passionately embracing her body as if he were about to die.
With a sigh, his mind melted away. He tightly closed his eyes, savoring the warmth she offered.
Yes, what did this trivial necklace matter?
He was determined to find other accessories that would truly please her. Someday, he planned to twist strands of gold in every strand of her hair.
With such a decision, Tarhan lifted her body, seating her on his thigh. He began to lust at her, throwing himself into the happiness she offered. He was almost unable to regain his senses,
Those days were like a paradise.
* * *
Several years passed swiftly as if flowing with the passage of time.
“These are the new weapons I mentioned before. They are made by combining Gempas ivory, wood with excellent resilience, and buffalo tendons. They’ve been tempered by heating the blade and cooling it in saltwater multiple times. They can pierce through armor.”
The weaponsmith explained to Tarhan, his eyes clouded by the heat in the smithy.
Tarhan’s eyes sparkled with a sharp glint as he inspected the new weapons. Another man standing behind him, like a shadow, stepped forward and spoke.
“Are these the new weapons prepared for this expedition?”
He pointed to an array of weapons—daggers, various types of javelins, maces and hooked spears for pulling enemies off horses—packed tightly together.
“Yes, that’s right. Take a look for yourself.”
Rigata, who accompanied him as the new weapons inspector, scanned them with a sharp gaze.
“Oh, those are signal arrows. We made them to communicate in urgent situations where messengers can’t be sent. When you shoot the arrow with the bow like this, it produces smoke. You can see a column of smoke rising into the sky, even from a great distance.”
The weaponsmith proudly raised his eyebrows, demonstrating the process himself.