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The Prince’s Arm

August 6, 2014

A story set in Matahouroa. NSFW; no outright pornography, but sexual and violent content nonetheless.

***

Mahitea was a rather strange woman. Nobody asked her age, but they suspected she had at be at least seventy, if not more. Her hair was in no better state than a kiore’s nest, yet it remained strangely shimmering and neat, white as a pearl, if not as aesthetically pleasing. Her right eye had decayed away, victim to some strange ailment, now but an empty socket still occasionally oozing pus, but her left eye was not only alive and well, but powerful and intimidating, capable of driving even the monarch and the Tohunga Ahurewa to avert their own eyes from her’s. Good thing she was in good graces with either, and kept their progressively more insane antagonism in check.

“What is it that you want, Mura?” she said calmly, barely removed from her work, preparing the sails of a festival Hōkūleʻa.

The youngest heir cautiously entered the room. Although Mahitea was very kind, she was also very easy to provoke when interrupted, especially from such important work as that. She would never so much as raise her voice, but disappointing her was always an unpleasant experience.

“I… I was seeing if I could ask you for advice” he said, unease only briefly held at bay.

The old woman seemingly paid no attention, still weaving ropes through the wood. Mura’s nervousness urged him to leave, but he pressed on.

“I need your advice” he once again spoke, in a more austere voice.

This, it seems, was noted by Mahitea. A chill wormed its way across Mura’s spine, adrenalin preparing his legs to dart off at a moment’s notice. But when she turned, she was smiling, as calm and serene as the sunset.

“Keep working on that, my prince. Even Raiti can’t keep her composure as well as you just did.”

That alone made Mura’s day so much more radiant, but his smile was very short lived. He crossed the room in its entirety, sitting on a bench a meter or so away from the tirelessly working elder. She nodded slowly, allowing him to take his time as obviously personal things were yet to leave his throat.

“Whēuriuri’s acting strange again. I just can’t see him like this anymore, and I feel that I need to do something about it. Aata and Hatiti always insist that there’s nothing I can do about it and tell me to just forget about it, but I just can’t leave him suffering like this! I feel that it’s my responsibility to help him, to free him from this curse. And I know that you can give me advice on how to deal with this.”

Mahitea nodded, took a piece of rope to her mouth and bit it, looking pensively. An eternity passed, and she exhaled. That was yet another of Mahitea’s weird traits, her slow breathing, that made a tuatara look desperate for air. Mura waited patiently no less, and he was rewarded with the elderly woman stopping her work and dragging another bench, sitting across him.

“Do you know why your cousin suffers like this every year?”

“I was told that it was because of his arm, but nobody else told me more about it.”

“Well, then, let me tell you a story.”

***

Aata first saw Prince Whēuriuri some 13 years ago, when the former was 15 and the later 14. It was sunset in the great city of Hiruhāramānia, in early spring. The surrounding mountains were entirely white like bones, and layers of snow still dotted the Plateau’s plains, though snow had been thoroughly swiped out of the city itself. The air was rather frigid for Aata, born and raised in the lowlands, though many years later he would have grown fond of the cold. Nonetheless, previous shivering and cursing at the winds melted away when a sympathetic and warm hand landed on his left shoulder. Aata turned, and was blessed with Whēuriuri’s mystifying grey-gold eyes – the unmistakable mark of the monarch – and kind smile. Aata was completely dumfounded, the mere presence of Whēuriuri already stunning, let alone his sheer beauty and apparent kindness.

“You seem very cold. You can go inside if you want, nobody’s going to give you trouble for it.”

“Y-y-your majesty, I can’t, it’s my duty.”

“Seriously, nobody’s going to be mad at you under my watch. Besides, you’re going to have to come inside soon anyways. Treason precautions, you see.”

Aata nodded, and cautiously followed the prince. His brain was still processing what just happened, though the processing completely degenerated as he instead grew to admire Whēuriuri’s attractiveness. His hair was black, reflecting tiny slivers of sunlight in the fading day, his skin was surprisingly dark for someone in the highlands – something he probably took from his mother, the queen being well known for being the former Ariki of the island of Honumoutere -, his physique lean, yet subtly muscular, though it was hard to see beneath the winter clothes. And of course, those mystifying eyes, though the face as a whole was ridiculously well sculptured. He was dressed in thick, yet light feather cloaks, made from the black and yellow, immensely precious feathers of the mamo and the huia, covering most of his body except for the head and lower arms.

“So, you’re the new guard that came in yesterday?”

Aata was snapped out of his admiration, provoking a mischievous smirk from the prince, and what he swore was blushing.

“Yes, I am. I’m from a small village in the lowlands, but I’ve always wanted to be a soldier, so I’m going to Mangokāinga to train. ‘Till then I’m working as a guard, to pay for the admission, and I was told work here pays well. And it’s closer to Mangokāinga.”

“Quite the trouble to be a soldier.”

“I just want the best route.”

“Good. I like ambitious people.”

“Glad to hear that.”

Both boys were in a large outdoor space, a headland-like platform rising above the lower sections of the city, bordered in the east by the central complex of the city, not far from the centre; they entered thoroughly a doorway there, leading to a long corridor, adorned with exotic plants and colourful plumes, and lit up by golden crystals and glowing corals. Being fundamentally a single massive building, Hiruhāramānia looked more like a meticulously well carved and complex mountain-pyramid of wood and stone than a conventional city, and as Aata came to learn, a corridor and a street could often only be distinguished by size. That particular corridor seemed too small, quiet and well decorated to be a street, though there were several doors on either side.

“You didn’t tell me your name.”

“Aata.”

“I’m Whēuriuri, though you already knew that. Where’re you’re staying at?”

“Your majesty, will all due respect-“

“Fair enough, fair enough. Though it’s probably in the south barracks, isn’t it?”

“Well, yes. Do you go around spying on the guards?”

“Would it bother you if I said ‘yes’?”

Aata thought a bit, and felt himself brave enough to respond.

“Would it bother you if not only I said ‘no’, that it doesn’t bother me, but that I was really hoping you did?”

Aata and Whēuriuri looked briefly into each other’s eyes, and the young guard felt his heart beating faster. The prince approached, and gently grasped Aata’s left hand with his right.

“I want to show you something.”

Aata nodded, and held Whēuriuri’s hand back. The prince opened a door on the left side, leading to a dimly lit staircase, only a few green coloured crystals lighting it up. The boys climbed it, and found another floor, with four different doors. Whēuriuri opened the left middle one, leading to a gloomy, corridor lit up by a single pair of torches.

“I hope you don’t plan to murder me here.”

“If I wanted to kill you, I would’ve used the last door on the right.”

The corridor terminated in a passageway to a better lit corridor, but Whēuriuri chose to stop at a wardrobe-like structure, carved with fearsome faces and pictures depicting the many tales of Māui, as well as other events of Matahouroa’s history. The prince skimmed his left index finger in the carvings, until his finger stopped at an image of a hoiho, Matahouroa’s penguin-like aven. Said carving depicted a brave woman from that species, raising a staff to stop an incoming wave. The prince’s finger intruded in the slit that was the staff, and a clicking sound was heard. The “wardrobe” doors opened, and both boys entered inside.

Aata stepped into a rather large room, spanning at least ten square meters. The wall the “wardrobe” – which in the room itself was simply a depression on the wall, internally reinforced by metal – was in was made of solid rock, painted in gold, while the other walls were made of dark brown woods; opposite them was an opening that lead to a large balcony, overseeing the city, while to the right was an elaborate door, the “official entrance”, that looked like a small gate, made of silver and with elaborate carvings, of Matahouroa’s history on the right side, godsticks on the left, and a stylised shark in the centre. There was a small study on the outer right corner, complimented with a “bookstand” carved on the wall, while the left wall had two other doors, simple wooden ones with less carvings. At the centre of the room was a large bed, where Whēuriuri sat.

“Do you always enter your own room like that?”

“I didn’t feel like walking for two hours.”

He motioned for Aata to sit next to him, and began to take off his feather cloaks. Feeling his heartbeat hasten again, the guard did so, just as the prince’s torso became exposed. An awkward minute passed, neither sure of how to proceed, though both breathing the same aroused breaths. Aata considered taking the risk, but Whēuriuri beat him to it, his hand touching his companion’s knee, passing softly to the inner calf. The prince seemed very nervous himself, avoiding eye contact and just staring at Aata’s crotch, with increasing fascination. Figuring out that both of them had made themselves clear, Aata kissed Whēuriuri’s cheek. The prince seemed surprised, tensing up briefly, but quickly relaxing, closing his eyes as if savouring the peck. He turned his face, and the two boys stared briefly into each other’s eyes, before finally kissing. It was a simple overlaying of lips, no tongue involved, but it lasted for quite a while, both of them lost in the heat of the moment.

The two broke the kiss, gasping for breath. They looked into each other’s eyes again, full of passion and desire. Aata smirked mischievously, and Whēuriuri pull him into another kiss, this time involving both of their tongues. They fell on the bed, the prince on top of the guard, his hands passing all over the latter’s chest, trying to release him from his cloak and to feel him up at the same time. Soon, Aata’s chest was revealed, but Whēuriuri took some time to notice, completely involved in the tongue wrestling as he was.

For a moment, Aata swore he heard a thumping sound from the balcony, but he quickly ceased to care. His hands were firmly on the prince’s rear, releasing it from the concealing loincloth.

***

A few weeks passed. Aata kept working as a guard, his work massively aided by Whēuriuri’s extensive knowledge of the city’s system of streets, as well as of Hiruhāramānia’s civic schedules. Coming to Hiruhāramānia really did pay off, managing to amass a larger quantity of coin than his previous work in his home town and in Karatakara. Another week, and he’d have enough money to pay for both his trip to Mangokāinga and his admission into the army academy.

“My shift’s over. Tell Teva I’m heading to the northern market complex.”

“It’s the fourth time you go there this week” Maire said, “At least it’s close to your assigned post this afternoon.”

“Good to know.”

“Just make sure yesterday’s incident doesn’t happen again, will you?”

Aata winked, and promptly went off, leaving Maire to playfully shake her head in mock disapproval. Two years older than him, the young woman had proven herself to be a very resourceful person and good friend, helping to excuse his schedule failures. If she had any idea about Aata’s relationship with the prince, the guard didn’t know, though it was clear she at least suspected that something was going on, and that he wasn’t interested in girls.

Aata and Whēuriuri had kept meeting each other nearly every day. Starting their relationship as a lustful affair, they quickly found a lot of genuine kinship in each other, and by the second week they trusted each other enough to open up, to trust each other deeply, and to share some of their insecurities. They didn’t yet say the words, but they might as well had.

Aata made his way through the narrow street corridors, his excitement to see his lover more intense than ever. That day’s schedule was quite convenient for him, the streets like clogged than usual as it was a day of rest, to honour Ao. The sprinting to their meeting point took around 10 minutes, most of it spent circumventing the maze-like corridors of the north-eastern habitation complex. Two minutes before his destination, he heard a loud noise from the ceiling, as if something had landed heavily on it, but he shrugged it off, eager to meet the prince.

Eventually, he arrived at a large plaza-like open space, normally full of merchants, but mostly empty that day. Whēuriuri stood at the centre, staring impatiently at some pebbles in the ground. Aata took the advantage to stalk him silently, before sprinting towards the prince and grabbing him, turning him around for a passionate kiss.

“So predictable” teased Whēuriuri, kissing Aata’s nose.

“Yeah, you probably could see me a mile away.”

The prince kissed his lover’s neck, nuzzling him as Aata’s strong arms surrounded him.

“I’m so frisky” Whēuriuri whined, “I want to do it here.”

“Won’t we get caught?”

“Everyone’s inside. We can just go to a corner. Please, I need you so much right now.”

They went to a corner, and did it. It was a quick affair, lasting 7 minutes or so, but it delivered what they both needed. Exhausted, they covered themselves, and cuddled. Aata felt bliss like no other, holding his lover in his arms and gently kissing his temples.

“One of these days, you’ll be the death of me.”

“I’m always in control. If I wanted, I would stop this secret affair thing and just call you my consort. But it wouldn’t be as fun, would it?”

“Yeah, and then I couldn’t leave to begin my career.”

Whēuriuri smirked, though he quickly frowned, holding Aata tighter. The guard sighted, and raised the prince’s chin.

“I thought we discussed this” he said softly, kissing Whēuriuri’s lips softly.

“I know, but it still doesn’t make it less… bad.”

“Just think of when I return, a mighty general to run your armies.”

“You want to be a general now?”

“I thought you liked ambition.”

“I created a monster, didn’t I?”

“No, just a madman. The monster you’ve already played with.”

Whēuriuri busted laughing, kicking Aata playfully in the ribs. Just then, however, vines erupted from the ground and climbed up the wall, separating them.

“Forgive me, your majesty, but I disagree” said a guttural, deep voice from above, “you’ve created madman and monster, within and without. And for this, you must die.”

Both boys turned their heads above. At the top of the building was a Pirita Kahuna, Matahouroa’s forest dwelling clerics. He was a middle aged man, bald and bearing only a long grey beard, the body fat and stocky. He was clothed by a loincloth, footwear and “gauntlets” made of various vegetation, with a garland made of red flowers around his neck. He jumped out of the building, landing a few meters in front of the boys, his feet cracking the ground upon impact, bursting forth more vines that entangled themselves around Aata’s and Whēuriuri’s limbs.

“Let him go you old pervert!” said Aata, thrashing against the vines, managing to grab a dagger in his belt out of the Pirita Kahuna’s sight.

“I’m afraid I cannot. Prince Whēuriuri’s life was already a massive mistake, seeing as the union between Māui’s holy blood and a pathetic whore from Honumoutere. Now he dares to defile this further by copulating with another man. Our righteous order could not believe the words that came from our slave Kākāriki spies. We were so furious by the possibility of it that we tore those hateful birds limb from limb. Yet here I am, confirming such despicable rumours as unambiguous truth. I shall destroy you both, even though I wish I could avert my eyes and spare them from your disgusting visages.”

While the Pirita Kahuna spoke, Aata managed to free his left hand with his dagger – which, endowed with holy magic from the Invoking Moai, was capable of dealing with magical bounds -, and reached for a small bottle, made from a hollowed fruit. With little time to free his other hand, he gently laid the dagger and grabbed the bottle, waiting for the right moment to strike.

That came when the Pirita Kahuna stroke. He approached the prince slowly, like a hawk eyeing a defenceless bird, making Aata all the more sickened by him. The old man grabbed Whēuriuri’s throat with his right hand, preparing to punch him with the right. His fist didn’t even lower, then a red liquid was thrown at his face, thrown from Aata’s bottle. As soon as it made contact with the Pirita Kahuna’s skin, it was set ablaze, the flames burning the man’s entire face, and spreading quickly to the insides as he accidently inhaled.

As he screamed and died, Aata freed himself fully, and quickly went to free Whēuriuri.

“I knew your magic improved, but damn” said the prince, barely concealing his enthusiasm and pride.

“I was supposed to channel the Invoking Moai’s mana through it to bind him. Guess the heat of the moment, well…”

“If we get out of here, I’ll teach you more spells like that.”

Just as the two prepared to make a run for it, another Pirita Kahuna came from a corridor, running towards them with a pack of mekosuchine crocodiles and adzebills. It was a young woman, dressed with a grass skirt and an armour of tree bark, screaming and yelling as if she was mad, waving a wooden staff with a moa skull on it. Aata took out a larger blade, and instinctively focused on his love for Whēuriuri. Suddenly, the blade was on fire, and he stroke against one of the crocodiles, the burning metal stabbing the creature’s skull, instantly killing it. Whēuriuri’s hands were engulfed by an intense orange light, and he threw radiant beams at the creatures, the scent of burnt feathers, scales and flesh quickly filling the air as the beasts fell on the ground, whimpering and whining in agony.

The Pirita Kahuna stopped, distraught by the painful state of her animals, and shoved her staff into the ground, vines quenching the flames and entering the wounds, leaking a green liquid that slowly regenerated the wounds. She then suddenly resumed her vicious rage, catching Aata by surprise and beating him in the head with the staff, making him fall on the ground.

The guard winced, his head completely messed up as the strike’s pain and violence left him disorientated. Blood run down his temples, and his eyesight was turbulent. Feeling his head twirling around, nausea began building inside, and he threw up. He could register the sudden scent of burnt plants –and then flesh -, and Whēuriuri’s screams, asking him if he was okay, but he felt too weak to respond.

Then he heard a scream of agony, and he put himself back together. His vision was turbulent, but he could see Whēuriuri subdued against the ground. Standing up, he felt his head mending itself, and was rewarded with a horrific sight: his lover was pinned against the ground, the Pirita Kahuna’s foot on his torso, and his right arm being extended to its limit by the woman. She herself was in a horrible state, most of the right side of her face and torso burned viciously, but that was at the bottom of Aata’s list of priorities, as she was viciously gnawing at Whēuriuri’s upper arm. With a powerful bite, she ripped off a huge chunk of flesh, spitting it on the ground, and with a few more bites she effectively destroyed the boy’s arm musculature. Now, she was gnawing at the humerus, which began to crack.

Consumed by rage, Aata grabbed his blade and set it on fire again, striking at the Pirita Kahuna’s neck. The strike didn’t decapitate her, but managed to sever her spinal cord, killing her. Aata kicked her corpse away, and knelt next to Whēuriuri, holding him in his arms.

“I’m going to kill those bastards!”

“Y-you already did.”

“This isn’t funny Whēuriuri!”

“I’m just s-saying the t-truth. You h-have a lot of t-talent, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

“Don’t say stuff like that! I’ll find a healer, we’ll fix this!”

“Well, even if we don’t, a-at least you’ll be a great general.”

Aata held Whēuriuri closer still, not noticing footsteps in his direction, until the person was a bare meter away. Once he did, he grabbed his blade, immediately setting it ablaze again.

“If you dare take one more step I’ll-“

“I’m here to make you a proposition.”

With such said, Aata wiped away his tears, and took a better look at the stranger. Before him stood an old woman.

“I can heal the prince’s wounds. I can build him a new arm. I, however, need his consent to do so.”

“Is there a catch?” asked Whēuriuri, eyeing the old woman in suspicion and hope.

“Yes. You can have a new arm, but it is an arm made from the power of the Tipua. It will drive you mad once every year, at this precise date. For a week you will crave and need fresh blood, you will hate those whom you love, you will bring chaos and darkness to the world. Nothing will stop you, except the love of the man who now holds you in his arms. If he ever fails, great misery will follow suit.”

Aata and Whēuriuri looked in each other’s eyes. Both understood the consequences, and both knew what needed to be done.

“We will suffer this, then.”

She nodded, and sat down next to the prince. She took out a shard of bone, and punctured her own eye, letting its fluids drop on the humerus cracks. The vitreous humour turned black, and so did the bone and surrounding flesh. Whēuriuri winced, and his arm began to regenerate, the cracked bone being restored, while new, black muscular tissue and skin replaced the removed ones.
In a few minutes, Whēuriuri had a complete arm once again, black as onyx from the shoulder to the nails and palms. The blood loss still took a toll on him, however, so Aata and the woman had to carry him to a healer.

“Don’t thank me for this. You will regret it.”

***

“Aata stayed with your cousin for three more weeks, until he sent him to Mangokāinga. He returned a year later, already high on the ranks, before leaving until the year after that, and finally returning for good in the following spring, as a general. Since then, both of them have ruled this nation wisely and effectively, but they have to fight every year with this disease I caused. Your cousin is truly blessed, to have a man with such a strong soul and heart as his consort, but there isn’t one day that I don’t fear the worst that could happen.”

Mura sat pensively, letting the story sink in. The first thing he felt was his ever resurging hatred against the Kahuna and their ways, and he had a hunch that the solution would be there.

“These Pirita Kahuna, there’s something more to them?”

“Yes. I later found out that they were sent by Raiti.”

“Raiti!? But she had to be like 16 or so back then!”

“Much to my grief, I learned that she had begun to build a network of alliances with the Pirita Kahuna, culminating in that attempt at your cousin’s life. By the time she became the Tohunga Ahurewa, our Pūhihi Kahuna and the Pirita Kahuna were part of a vast conspiracy, aiming to bring about the Aomārama at any cost.”

“But why haven’t you told this to anyone besides me?”

“Mura, if I told what I knew, there’d be a massive civil war, which would most likely go in the Kahuna’s favour. I can control Raiti for now, but I’m going to need you and your sister to find a way to overthrow them.”

Mahitea rose, and walked to the Hōkūleʻa. She lifted the sail, and took out a godstick previously hidden by it. It had two crescent-like curves, oriented in opposite directions.

“To heal Whēuriuri, you must appeal to Pango, the dark taniwha. He knows how to break every curse. In the Wairepomango is also a person who hates Raiti as much as you do. This is my advice to you: go to the swamps, and kill two birds with one stone.”

Mura pondered, and accepted, the godstick, taking it in his hand with conviction. This was his mission.

“Thanks, Mahitea.”

“Thank me only if this works.”

Mura nodded, and walked away, out of the room. Once his footsteps faded, the old woman sat, and cleaned her eye of the accumulating pus.

“And the pieces are set” said a whispery, dark voice from the shadows, “I would congratulate you for your chess playing, but you don’t know what chess is.”

“Stop your blather and go watch the boy. If he is harmed, no place on Matahouroa will be safe for you.”

“I wouldn’t dream of letting such a fine specimen like him to be damaged. Almost makes me want to be older” the voice pronounced that particular word with barely concealed resentment”, so I could have seen Whēuriuri when he was Mura’s age.”

Mahitea scoffed, amusing the Kawau. Making people uncomfortable hasn’t gotten old by the 958th time, and hopefully never would.

“Before I leave, I should perhaps remind you that you’re a loose end. I will protect the boy, but I’m letting you rot.”

“Why don’t you just kill me right now?”

“Gratitude, dear. Though if it is within your wishes, I will do so.”

“Yes, it is. Don’t let the others find the corpse, though. I can’t afford them lose their morale.”

“Fair enough. Farewell, old woman. I’ll find you a grave where my kin can’t get hold of your remains.”

And, without further delay, Mahitea was immersed in shadow. She felt incredibly tired, and fell asleep, never to awake again.

The planeswalker summoned a shade, and the woman’s remains were devoured, leaving only a white powder that was her bones. With this Panahihou took flight.

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