This story begins in part 1: The Ice Queen.
That very night, it began to snow. It was unbelievable that snow would fall from a hot, cloudless sky, but it happened. Soon, the air was filled with it, little specs of white that disappeared with the slightest touch. More importantly, it was something which had not happened in a thousand years: water was falling from the sky over The Great Wasteland.
When Hanto returned in the morning, still frowning and wrapped up in his own thoughts, the harem was alive with excited young women and Kala instantly rushed up to him.
"Hanto! It's snowing!" she giggled in excitement, bouncing up and down and pointing out one of the high windows that let the bright light of the sun stream into the large room. They could see little more than the sky and the tops of some of the higher towers, but it was impossible to miss that the air was filled with little flakes of ice, some of it even finding its way into the harem when a breeze blew it through a window.
He blinked in surprise and went quickly over to the window. How had he missed it when he left the throne room?
"Where have you been? We've been watching it for hours!" chattered Kala as she leapt onto Hanto's back and hugged him from behind, her bare breasts squished against his muscles, "I couldn't guess what it was, but Pila figured it out right away! Isn't it amazing? I never thought it would snow way out here in the desert!"
Laughing, Hanto wobbled on his feet under the sudden weight of a young woman and said, "It is completely impossible. I don't think it has ever snowed here. Incredible! It's not even cold. How can we have snow on a hot day?"
And even as he said that the clear sky was growing darker as a bank of billowing dark clouds appeared on the horizon. They were moving fast and consuming the clear blue sky, staining it dark gray as they raced like a charging pack of unimaginable monsters converging on the defenseless city.
The poor thirsty people rejoiced as more and more snow fell upon the hot desert. They had only to cup their hands and a fortune of water would quickly collect.
In those days, there were six great sorceresses in the world. They were created all at once when a powerful mortal man took and made love to one of the goddesses of the ancient times. From that one act were born six sisters of inhuman ability, all with the same face but each with her own incredible talents.
She walked through the desert wearing thick black robes that clung to her body and a long scarf that danced behind her in the warm desert wind. The snow made a carpet beneath her black boots as she moved casually across the dunes.
No mere mortal would dress as she did in such heat, and her black hair was eerie to look upon. It was so black that it seemed to be a solid thing, like a living shadow that lay resting across her shoulders, rippling as she moved. It made her pale skin seem almost pure white.
The first villager who saw her black form coming across the bleached white sand whispered, "Sorceress," for he knew what she was without hesitation, and soon the entire kingdom was buzzing with the news.
She walked slowly but directly through the streets and the news of her arrival surged ahead of her. The people who came close to her gasped as their bodies were suddenly chilled to the bone and they rushed away and huddled for warmth. In this way she carved a path down the crowded main street as though she knew exactly where she was going, her dark eyes staring always straight ahead, her face calm and confident until she walked right through the open gates of the palace and into the courtyard.
The sky darkened as clouds finally blocked out the last of the sun.
In the courtyard, she found the Queen staring up at the sky in wonder and holding out her hands to feel the strange sensation of pricks of cold snow melted against her skin. The Queen had never felt anything cold in all her life and the feeling was even more exciting that the sex she had been longing for until just a day ago.
"Amazing," she whispered as she felt snowflakes cool on her lips and closed her eyes.
"It is quite remarkable, but it is nothing compared to all I have to offer," came a crisp and controlled voice that cut through the stunned silence of the courtyard like a blade cracking a sheet of ice, sharp and loud.
The Queen was the only one in the courtyard who had failed to notice the imposing new presence and blinked her eyes open to look around and say, "What? Who said that?"
"It was I," continued the woman in black, at least an inch taller than every other person in the crowd and with a large clearing on all sides of her, "A humble peddler of frozen delights. I have heard that the people of this kingdom are dying of thirst in the hot sun and so I offer my services."
A shiver ran through the exposed form, her upper body bare but for shimmering cups of gold over the curves of her bosom and she suddenly had to cross her arms to protect herself from a chill. She swallowed nervously and stammered, "And...What exactly are you offering?"
"No less than a complete end to the torturous heat that plagues your people," said the sorceress with total calm, her voice loud and clear as though she were making an announcement for the crowd, "And all in exchange for just a small portion of your legendary riches."
"You expect me to pay for that?" Naya suddenly cut in, taking a step forward and lowering her hands to her hips, "My people find relief from the heat through the water I give them and they pay me for the privilege. We don't need your services," her pure blue eyes hardening.
For the first time, the sorceress frowned and glanced around the crowd in confusion as she said, "You don't want relief from this endless heat?"
"No, why should I?" snapped the Queen, her eyes darting down the sorceresses body, snugly wrapped in warm clothing, "We've lived our whole lives in the desert and heat is nothing, as long as we dress well and have water."
She took a step forward and leaned in, trying to be threatening as she calmly added, "And I don't think you are welcome here. Take your snow and leave my city, before I have you thrown out."
For a long moment, nothing more was said, the two figures standing still in the midst of a hushed crowd. During that moment, the snow stopped falling. The sorceress gazed calmly at the queen with a long, icy stare that quickly became unsettling. Those dark eyes seemed endless and dangerous and Naya was silently amazed by the mature and elegant beauty of the sorceress, her pale skin as flawless as if it were made of porcelain.
The eyes of the sorceress never left Naya's even as the dark woman finally smiled and spoke again, "You have no power over me. Don't waste the lives of your soldiers when I have so much more to offer you," pausing a moment to test the effect of her words but the Queen just frowned and stared.
"I will let you have some time to consider my offer, and I will give you a gift to help win your favor."
"A gift?" said the Queen slowly and she raised an eyebrow, glancing up and down the sorceress's body once more, "But you're not carrying anything, not even water. You don't have anything that I want."
"You'll like this. Watch and be amazed!" said the sorceress loudly and clearly as she suddenly pulled a long steel blade out of her sleeve and swept it high into the air, the metal looking dull in the gray light but surely very sharp.
Naya gasped and staggered backwards but before the guards could sound an alert, the sorceress thrust her other hand upwards and a jagged shaft of ice instantly shot up out of the ground, gleaming crystal blades that burst from the courtyard tiles with a loud crack that hung in the air as everyone froze in amazement and stared at the beautiful ice.
Even Naya was at a loss for words as she gazed deep into the ice that was so pure and so much like her own eyes as it scattered the light in strange and shimmering patterns. It was like nothing she had ever seen and her mouth hung open as she watched.
Without another word, the sorceress brought the blade down upon the ice and a chunk fell away with a single stroke to shatter on the hot tiles at her feet, soon followed by several more. Then the sorceress began to stroke the ice with the blade, one hand pushing firmly on the handle while her long fingers rested upon the blade, guiding it as she used it as a chisel, slicing the ice away in with fine cuts. Her movements were swift and careless and what she was carving took shape without the slightest effort.
In mere moments, before Naya even realized what was watching, she could see the shape forming out of the ice. And suddenly the blade came away and perched before Naya was a perfect sculpture of a translucent swan resting on a pillar of ice in a pool of icy slush.
"It's a bird!" gasped Naya in disbelief.
"It is a sculpture in ice that will never melt unless I will it. You may keep it as a symbol of my power in this desert."
There was no response as Naya slowly stepped closer to the shiny sculpture of a large bird with half-spread wings and a long, arching neck. Her eyes flowed over the fine detail of the feathers of those wings, each one rendered as a curve of smooth ice. It seemed that the coarse metal used to carve this shape had not left a single scratch and Naya's fingertips reached forward to caress that icy-smooth skin.
When she felt the bird's beak, she jerked back sudden said, "Oh! It's cold!" the tips of her fingers were tingling and her hand was twitching in excitement. She felt her heart beat faster at the presence of this ice, a limitless source of the strange cool sensation that was so rare in a kingdom of the blazing sun.
"That is but a taste of the delights I have to offer. I can fill this palace with such works of beauty, or build an even larger palace entirely from ice. There is no limit to the power I can give you for the right price."
Naya could not bring her eyes away from the sparkling pattern of light on the wings of the swan and for a moment she did not speak, but finally she said softly, "Alright. Come inside and let's talk about it."
They left the sculpture behind for the people to gawk at, and soon there were swarms of peasants and nobles around it, everyone wanting a look at the mysterious ice.
The sorceress glanced in at the throne room with mild curiosity as she was lead past it and Naya smiled and said casually, "I have a better place for negotiations. That room is too large and open to be private and comfortable. Here we are," moving into a much smaller room with a few wooden chairs lined with silk. The seats were around a small fountain that filled the room with a burbling noise and patterns of light reflected from the flowing water.
A servant had been quietly following the two women since they entered and Naya paid no notice of him. She simply smiled at the sorceress and said, "You must be hot in that heavy robe. Why don't you take it off for a while?"
A cold laugh filled the room and the sorceress said in amusement, "One of the few things in this world that I cannot experience is being hot," then tilting her head and thinking for a moment, "But if you do not object, I will be pleased to become more comfortable while we discuss our future together."
The Queen was struck by the way the sorceress spoke and moved, every gesture so dignified and careful, as though she had come from another world and had to diligently practice the motions of living in this one. Naya also could not tell how old the woman was. Everyone knew the tales of the six sorceresses and how they were all twin sisters with identical faces, but there was not yet a unified way of counting the years between kingdoms, especially one so remote as this one. For all Naya knew, this sorceress could be many decades old and those smooth features would give away no secrets.
As Naya took a seat in one of the comfortable chairs, the sorceress unfastened a belt that held her robe closed, and the thick black fabric fell from her smooth white shoulders. She let it slide down her body and gracefully collected it in her arms, then passed it to the servant.
The sorceress had revealed herself to be a true spectacle. Her skin seemed to be pure white all across her body and though it was pale it somehow seemed very firm and healthy. Her clothing was far more revealing that is usual in the desert, so much skin exposed that she would quickly be destroyed by the savage sun, and clinging so tight to her body that the heat would be trapped.
The black fabric embraced her full bosom, clinging to her round breasts as if by magic and fully exposing her cleavage and shoulders. Her back was bare, a long sheet of smooth white skin, while her belly was held snug under the thin cloth that pulled tight between her legs and then wrapped up the other side to discreetly cover her athletic butt.
As she walked over to a chair, Naya could see that the sorceress's bare arms and legs were fit and powerful. The muscles were not overtly large, but there were traces of intense definition beneath that inhumanly perfect skin and the way she walked suggested unimaginable power and confidence.
Naya swallowed uncomfortably and squirmed in her seat as she took note of the most shocking thing of all: the sorceresses clothing was tight between her legs and revealed her inner thighs. Even one as immodest as Naya would never have considered wearing tight clothing against those private parts.
There was a twitch between Naya's legs and she tried not to think of the way she still burned for satisfaction. Her urges were playing with her mind, making her imagine that she could almost see the outline of the sorceress's vulva through the black fabric.
The servant was still standing there, likely thinking much the same as he gaped at the nearly-naked sorceress. The Queen gave him a harsh glare and snapped, "Go get us some water," and waved him away. That quickly broke his trance and he rushed out of the room.
"There, now we can talk in peace," said Naya as her eyes came back to study the sorceress where she had found a seat facing the queen and was sitting in a tense and dignified pose. With a little sigh of relief, she noticed that the sorceress had crossed her legs.
The sorceress just stared and tapped her fingers on the padded armrests for a long moment, so Naya cleared her throat and filled the silence, "Do you usually dress that way under your robe?"
"I dress in a manner which I find comfortable. Perhaps you should consider doing the same." The sorceress's dark gaze fell for a moment to the metal cups that encased Naya's breasts.
A blush came to Naya's cheeks and she said quickly, "Oh, you mean this? It's actually quite nice. It's cool and soft and very smooth against my skin." Her words fell off awkwardly with no response from the sorceress, so Naya continued, "If you like, you can have your robe back. I mean, if you would be more comfortable."
"That is enough about clothes," said the sorceress, not angrily but in a manner that suggested she was becoming dangerously close to being annoyed.
The Queen nodded and swallowed again. No one had ever made Naya feel this way before; it was as if she had to please this sorceress. For all Naya's life, everyone had always tried to please her, even her own parents.
"I would like more sculptures and bigger ones. I would like them to line the walls of my throne room."
"Simple enough," said the sorceress with a slight smirk, "And?"
And that was all Naya really wanted, at least all that she was willing to ask for, but the sorceress seemed to expect more, so Naya quickly said, "And I want all the water to taste cool, even though the weather is hot. No more snow, just make the water cold."
The sorceress's voice was cold and crisp. "Very well. And I shall have full access to your treasure vaults, freely taking any small items that I desire for my personal possession and spending any money that I need to satisfy my expenses, and when I eventually leave this place, I will be followed by wagons carrying a tenth of the riches of this kingdom." It sounded very much like a statement of fact and not at all like an offer.
Naya's jaw slowly dropped and her beautiful eyes grew large. While she was deciding what to say, the servant briefly came back and deposited two metal goblets and a pitcher of water. None of it was made of glass, for the fine craft of working with glass was beyond even her wealthy kingdom, especially since they had no desire for glass windows under the blazing hot sun.
She took a sip of water to calm herself and said quickly, "But, you won't leave soon? I have a huge amount of treasure; a tenth would be a very high price to pay if you were to leave tomorrow!"
There was another emotionless laugh as the sorceress smirked and said, "Nonsense. Time means little to one as powerful as I. My power will serve you for as long as you rule this land; anything less would be beneath my attention. That is the service for which I shall take a tenth of everything you have."
As she spoke, the sorceress picked up a goblet of water and started to take a sip, but suddenly stopped. She laughed and shrugged.
"No good," she said, and turned the goblet over so that the solid block of ice it held popped out and fell into the pitcher, floating there like a little iceberg.
That was the same day that the sorceress began her work for the kingdom and all were in awe of her skills. She started in the throne room, willing ice into existence as though it had always been there, great frigid slabs of it appearing out of the marble floor with the slightest gesture from her. Then with a few strokes of her chisel animals appeared as though they had been buried within the ice all along, merely waiting to be freed.
All the nobles of the palace gathered around the watch and the Queen was full of pride at the accomplishments of her new servant. "Aren't they beautiful?" she exclaimed, "And this powerful sorceress is mine to command!"
She smirked and gestured to one corner of the expansive throne room and said casually, "Sorceress, I want a tiger over there!"
Once again the sorceress was in her black robes and her blade gleamed brightly and sliced through the ice cleanly and sharply, as though the ice wanted to part for it. Before a minute had passed, the figure of a huge, snarling cat was visible for all to see and Naya declared, "You see?!" to the cheers of the crowd.
"Aren't these sculptures beautiful?" said Naya, walking over and gesturing to the original swan that had been moved inside, "It is so detailed that it looks almost alive," speaking almost to herself as she gazed at the way the light played through the ice and shimmered, "It could leap off its pedestal and fly away. You can see it moving when the light shifts," her voice growing slowly softer as she watched the sculpture and for a moment she would have sworn that the swan really had moved. It was no longer in exactly the pose that she remembered; the wings were not spread as wide, but then she dismissed the thought as absurd and moved on to show off the newest sculptures.
Hanto clapped with the rest, getting his first views of the amazing sorceress that everyone was talking about. He had never known a truly cold day in his life and the chilling presence of all this ice was sending shivers across his bare chest, but he was amazed by the sculpted beauty of the sorceress's pale face, framed in long hair as black as the darkest night. Even those who did not consider her beautiful would have a hard time taking their eyes away from her stunning features.
As he watched her and gasped at the speed and precision of her blade, he became certain that she was looking in his direction almost as often as she was looking at her work. Her gaze was so intense that the very thought that she might be looking at him made him tremble.
"That's enough, everyone," said Naya with a smile, "I have important matters to discuss with the sorceress. You will all have plenty of chances to watch her working another day, and these sculptures will be here to see for a very long time."
As the Queen was waving the people out, Hanto kept watching the sorceress. She frowned slightly and seemed disappointed that she was losing her audience. The chisel was set down even though there was still a statue half-finished.
He took his eyes from the mysterious woman for an instant to find his way and when he glanced back at where she had been, she was gone. His eyes had been off her for only a moment, not enough time for her to completely vanish the way she had, but no matter how hard he scanned the crowd, he could not find her.
Once the entire crowd had been herded away, the Queen smiled and turned back to the find the sorceress, but suddenly Naya was alone in the room with only herself and the sculptures.
"Sorceress? Where are you?" her voice echoed off the far walls of the grand chamber.
Naya peered around and noticed that all the animals she had surrounded herself with seemed to be watching her; their icy eyes had the illusion of staring straight at her no matter where she moved in the room. She blushed at her own foolishness, but she could not shake the thought that these creatures might choose to stand up and walk around the room at any moment. For the sorceress's next sculpture, Naya would be sure to ask that it not be so realistic.
Continued in The Ice Queen Part 3