As the sun began to sink in the horizon, Eztli reentered her sleeping quarters with the fatigue of the day draped around her shoulders. She slinked to a corner of her bed chamber and opened a box that sat on a table in the corner of the room. She pulled out a handful of coca leaves and crushing them slightly in her hand placed the bitter leaves in her mouth and began sucking and chewing on them. She normally administered the leaves to women enduring a long labor. Chewing the leaves would give the women a burst of energy allowing them to finish out the remainder of their labor; however she had grown accustomed to chewing the leaves herself at the end of the day allowing her the energy to finish out the evening with Alejandro.
Beyond her normal duties, she had had to unexpectedly deliver a child. A boy had been born to a first time mother and she had screamed her battle cries at the small women in the throes of her birthing pain. The mother had come out of that battle victorious but all involved were fatigued by the day’s struggle. It would have been a happy fatigue if wasn’t for Izel. She was one of her priestesses and she had fallen sick early in the afternoon. She had burned to the touch but complained of being cold and she was covered in what looked like swollen insect bites. Stories from the other priestesses spoke of the same ailment befalling others in the city as well. It seemed as though there was a new sickness spreading through the stone alleys. There would probably be a large sacrifice tomorrow in order to attempt to appease the gods. She would have to keep Alejandro hidden while the illness ran its course.
She often worried for his safety since he was an unusual person to keep as a slave. He should have been sacrificed with the rest of the Spanish captives but something had stayed her hand. Eztli did not enjoy the mass sacrifices that she had witnessed through the years and often her heart ached for those led to the pyramid steps, but this was her life and her people’s way of life. Why she moved to spare his life and not the countless others before him, she did not know. For days afterwards she thought that his hazel eyes had cast some sort of spell over her and she watched him closely. The fact that he was willful and arrogant had not helped his initial situation. He had faced each duty with disgust and a flippant disregard for her pleasure. As she watched him being beaten she often made the decision to send him to his death the following day, but each day she did not. The constant beatings had done their job superficially and he was beginning to complete his tasks dutifully but there was a hidden willful disobedience in his mannerisms. He had told her later that he had felt that he had been dropped into Satan’s own house filled with heathen demons and all he needed to do was stay strong and god would deliver him from these sinful savages, whatever that meant. It was his strength though that had ignited a deep burning desire within her. She had not felt such desires since the death of her first husband but now she felt so possessive of her Spanish slave that she didn’t know if she could truly sacrifice him when the time came 7 years from now.
She stepped out onto the balcony and watched the sky turn into a canvas of colliding color as the sun set behind her. She breathed in the humid air and thought back to the first night she had spoken to him. He had been tied to a hook on the wall that she normally used to hang her skirts from. Every night since coming into her care, he had been tied to that hook, beaten and then left there to sleep. One of her servants had just finished beating him and had left her for the night. She looked at him on floor. He never cried but his raddled breaths betrayed how much pain he was in. He had been kneeling, his face to the wall and after a long painful sigh he turned his tortured bleeding back to the wall and reclined back with a grimace on his face. His eyes were closed as she slid from the bed and stealthily moved across the stone floor to stand in front of him.
She sucked on her lip for a second before kneeling down in front of him. He finally opened his eyes to see her kneeling before him, her arms lightly wrapped around her own knees as she balanced on her tip toes. She had on a golden yellow floor length skirt and a traditional matching navel length blouse that resembled a poncho more than an actual shirt. Colorful red beading and embroidery adorned the neck line and bottom hem of the blouse and skirt.
His eyes focused on her and she took a moment to swim in the exotic blue color of his eyes before putting her hands on her chest and breathing her name, “Eztli...” She then moved her hands to his bruised chest. He flinched from her, but when her touch was soft on his chest he looked back at her. He slowly said in a hoarse whisper, “Alejandro…”
She nodded her head at him and then lowered herself on her hands and knees. She crawled over his outstretched legs and advanced slowly towards him until they were face to face. She could literally see his heart beating from the vein on his neck. She looked into his eyes relaxed and curious and he returned a look of fear and confusion and it amused her. She lowered herself onto his lap and slowly rocked her hips back and forth grinding against him. He responded immediately and his eyes began to glaze over. She could feel him throb against her and moving his loin cloth to the side she slid down onto him. She allowed a sigh to escape her lips as he filled her.
How disappointing he had been on that first night. As soon as she had sat down fully on him he twitched and climaxed underneath her. In disgust she had pushed herself off of him hitting a bruise on his chest and making him yelp in pain. She slinked out of her bed chamber in search of a switch leaving him to recover from the ecstasy of climax. He did not even realize she had returned when she began beating him. The worst beating he ever received as a slave had been that night at her hands. He passed out from the pain before she had slated her angry retribution.
As she threw the bloody wooden rod to the ground she resolved to send him to be sacrificed in the morning, but when morning came instead of sending him to the other priests she slipped out of the city and returned with a bowl of sap from the dragon blood tree and dressed his wounds. He awoke while she dabbed the pink sap onto his wounds and he appraised her carefully before turning his eyes down from her in submission.
That night she had him tied to the hook, but he had done his chores well so she did not have him beat. She again got out of bed but this time he watched her approach, and when she lowered herself onto his lap, he was ready. His face was a mask as she lifted her skirts out of the way, untied his loin cloth and mounted him. His stare was hard and focused on her and instead of fear and confusion all she saw was determination. Sweat began to prickle on his brow as she rocked her hips. He lasted and she began to get her rhythm. That was when she lowered herself against him and placed her hands on the wall to either side of his head for leverage. In that moment he reached his mouth forward and bit down on her shoulder hard like a mating jaguar. It was not so hard to make her bleed, but it hurt and he did not let go. It made her gasp from the sharp pain. Whatever the reasoning she had been so aroused by the act that she was completely satisfied with him by the time he climaxed. Thinking of that night always made her heart race and her face flush. Her golden bracelets tinkled together softly as she fidgeted her hands remembering his hot breath on her neck through his gritted teeth, when familiar hands slid around her waist. Alejandro stood behind her and kissed her neck. She relaxed back into him and let him hold her.
He whispered into her ear, “You were very mean to me this morning. You shouldn’t mistreat me so.”
She smiled and answered back, “I have no idea what you are talking about. I am never mean to you.”
At that he gripped her tighter and with a hard edge in his voice said, “You obviously do not understand, so I am going to have to show you by example. After tonight you will understand how cruel you are to me.”
As the sun set, he forced her to the bed and held her there as he methodically and slowly peeled her priestess robes from her. Whenever she attempted to touch him he would hold her down using his strength to keep her pinned. He moved his mouth above the exposed flesh of her nipples and she could feel his heated breath. He brought his mouth down and sucked hard causing them to ache with the pressure. She arched her back and hissed through her teeth and he looked up at her face with a devilish smile before dismounting and turning her over. He pushed her face roughly into the mattress. He pulled her hips into the air and caressed her ass gently and said, “Do not move.”
Eztli was not used to being commanded and she made to push up. As she did so, Alejandro’s hand came down on her rear causing a sharp sting to radiate through her body. She could not contain the squeal that escaped her lips. Alejandro’s voice seemed to carry a low thunderous quality, “I said, do not move.” As he uttered the last word his fingers which before had brought pain now pushed softly into the folds of her groin massaging the skin they found there. He knew exactly how to touch her and with a groan she lowered herself back onto the bed submitting to his control.
Throughout that starry night he made her beg for every kiss and caress. He commanded complete control over her and he was merciless with it. She lost count of how many times he brought her to the edge of ecstasy just to pull back refusing her. Just as she was about to succumb to insanity, he turned her desire against her bringing her easily to climax. He then demanded it of her again and again until she thought she would collapse from exhaustion. When they finally both fell into the bed satisfied, her whole body ached and trembled. She had never submitted to a man so willingly before, but there was an ironic bliss to handing control over to a slave.
It was an hour before she moved from the bed to retrieve a platter of mango’s left for her to eat. Moonlight bathed the floor and she waded through it to bring the plate of the sweet fruit back to the bed. Alejandro’s creamy skin glowed in the moonlight and she lounged into his smooth chest nibbling on the mango thoughtfully. He draped an arm around her and softly caressed her skin with his finger tips. As he took a mango from the plate he said to her, “Tell me about your day”
“After the morning ritual, I was called out into the city. A first time mother began to go into labor. A boy was delivered by mid-afternoon. It took up most of the day. When I came back to the temple I had to check in on Izel. She has become sick. It looked like she was infested with bot flies, but when we opened the lesions to remove the larvae only a white fluid came out.”
Suddenly Alejandro sat up, pushing her to sit up as well. He quickly turned her towards himself and looked her in the eyes. “What did you say?”
She looked at him inquisitively. “…only white fluid came out?”
“Does she feel hot to the touch?”
“What about her throat? Does she have a sore throat and a swollen neck” He was becoming agitated.
“Umm, yes she had trouble swallowing, we were trying to get her to drink water and she was having trouble doing so.”
“And you say she was covered in bumps… were they berry sized and white with a dimple in the center?”
“… Yes …”
He hung his head into his hands for a moment then looked up at her, “We need to go see her”
She was beginning to get scared. She had never seen him like this. He got up off of the bed and put on his simple loin cloth and cloak. He then ran over to his work bench and began preparing a few differing mixtures from the ingredients he had on the table. As she stood up she noticed his hands trembling. She ran naked through the moonlight to his side and pulled him to face her. “What is wrong, tell me”
He bit his lip and looked at her, fear swimming in his eyes, “I know those symptoms. It’s called the pox. The way you talked, I gathered you have never encountered them before, but I have. It’s been in Europe since the start of recorded history, and if you’re entire people have never seen it before… It’s bad Eztli.”
She pressed her lips together. Inside she began to panic and her heart began racing, but she was a high priestess and she took command of herself. She hardened her jaw as well as her resolve. “Tell me everything you know, how bad is it?”
He put down the bowl that he had been holding and placed both hands on her arms. He lost the fearful edge in his voice and replaced it with a defeated one. “Four in ten die. Another four in ten are left horribly scared or blind. However, if you survive you become immune. It is thought that it is spread through bad vapors on the breath.”
She looked down and nodded her head absorbing what he was saying. “Is there a way to treat it?”
“Once a person starts showing symptoms, all you can do is treat the symptoms and hope they survive. This includes bringing down the fever, treating the blisters and soothing the sore throat. There is a way to inoculate the population with a high success rate, but we need a survivor. If a person survives, near the end of the illness the blisters on the skin turn into scabs. The scabs need to be collected from them and pulverized into a powder. The powder should then be inhaled by the non-sick. There is a slight chance that this will make them sick but if it doesn’t they will be immune to the disease. It’s a new treatment coming out of Eurasia.”
“So we need to quarantine the sick, because just being in the same room with them can get you sick?”
“And before we can inoculate anybody, we need someone to survive.”
“So we need to start to treat anyone who may be sick”
“Ok, let’s get started”
“You were in the same room as Izel weren’t you?”
She looked up at him as the implications of what he said became apparent to her. She simply nodded. “What about you?”
“I got it when I was a child, that’s what these scares on my arms are from. I’m immune now.”
She looked at the scares that covered his arm. “They look like jaguar markings…”
He shrugged at her then went back to preparing the necessary medicines. “You will need to show me where she is; we need to set up the quarantine tonight. This city is too crowded we need to spread this news. I’m assuming Izel is not the only one who is sick.”
She nodded and began dressing. She decided on her most practical robes. She put on a simple cream colored floor length maguey skirt with simple green vine embroidery along the hem. She put on the matching cream maguey blouse that came to just below her belly button exposing her lower abdomen. There was going to be a lot of logistics to take care of tonight and she suspected that she would not get any sleep. She walked back over to him and began picking up bowls of medicine that were already finished. The last thing he did before they left was tie a piece of fabric around her face. He simply said, “For the vapors” ns 18.104.22.168da2