BBW Shaya (~BBW, SSBBW, ~~WG, Stuffing, Gluttony)

Discussion in 'Recent Additions' started by Benny Mon, Dec 20, 2018.

  1. Dec 20, 2018 #1

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    A story in the universe of "And Eat It, Too" and "The Invention of Ice Cream", though it stands on its own.

    Shaya
    by Benny Mon

    Chapter 1

    Tantsam knew that this was always Shaya’s favorite moment: when the wind pushed their vessel around the last outcropping on this coast of the island of Méggóg, and her hometown of Dhahál came into view, small in the distance but still bright and colorful in all its splendor. It wasn’t that she complained about the rest of it--she seemed to take joy in even the drudgery of a sailor’s life, in hauling loads and pulling ropes--but nothing seemed to equal this moment when the work was done, and, tired and satisfied, she stood at the stern and returned to the seat of the largest and most prosperous principality in the Bight of Vhida.

    “You’ve got that look on your face again, Shaya,” he said.

    She turned back to the voice behind her, looking a little embarrassed but no less radiant. Her big, brown eyes were glowing, each round, dark brown, appley cheek on either side of her strong nose spreading to reveal her brilliant smile and press her thick double chin into her neck. Her curly hair--brown-black, but sunstreaked from her time at sea--was pulled into a rough ponytail, but it still blew gently in the wind. And as she turned at her waist, he saw her belly tug at the strictures of her overalls, a little tighter than they usually were on a job. She was just on the fat side of the line between fat and chubby, and while not curvy--her hefty belly was easily her largest feature--she still had a feminine roundness.

    Tantsam, the stocky, dark red-brown Archipelagan who had worked so many jobs with her, laughed instinctively when she met his gaze. “We have some time to rest before we come to port, don’t we?” She nodded, and they settled down on a pair of squat barrels. He noticed her belly settle on her lap and strain her overalls again.

    “I don’t understand why you say you can’t wait to retire,” he said. “You love this work. You couldn’t do anything else. It’s in your blood, Shaya; your father is a sailor and so was his father!”

    “I know, I know, I do love it,” she said, laughing a little herself. “It’s not like I’m going to retire tomorrow. It’s just that when I think of what my life will be like then, I can barely wait. I’ll be rich, living off my investments. I can travel the world--I won’t just have to work local jobs like I always do now--or I can stay home if I want, it’ll be up to me! And you know the most important thing.”

    “I do.” Tantsam smiled and nodded knowingly.

    Shaya closed her eyes and her eyebrows shot up as the fantasies flowed through her. “I’ll be able to eat as much as I want of the finest, most delicious food, and this thing”--she patted her belly a couple times and shook it a little--“will just get bigger. I won’t be able to help it.”

    “You are the oddest person I have ever met, Shaya, and I’ve met a lot of people at sea.”

    “But doesn’t that sound incredible to you?” She leaned in and looked at him earnestly. “That won’t be for years from now, and while we’re young, we work, but one day we’ll have made it. We won’t have to lift a finger, we can just enjoy the best this world has to offer. We live in amazing times, Tantsam, this wasn’t always possible.”

    Tantsam shook his head, smiling with affection and confusion. “You’ve explained this to me a thousand times and I still don’t get it. But you’re the best sailor I’ve ever worked with, so it’s all the same to me.”

    Shaya cocked her head as if to “Ok, so be it,” and as she stretched her arms wide her overalls hugged her fleshy torso as her shoulders pulled it snug. “You know,” she said, “normally I lose a little weight on a job, but this time I feel like I might be a little bigger than when I started.”

    Tantsam nodded, a tight smile on his face. “I think you know why.” His mind flashed back to so many nights with so much rum, flagons and flagons, so much indulgence and debauchery during a long but easy local job that took them through many ports in the Bight. “Yeah,” she sighed, “I guess I do.” She touched her head gingerly and groaned a little--the conversation seemed to remind her of the lingering effects of all this fun.

    Soon enough everyone was back on their feet, a dozen or more sailors scrambling over the decks, preparing to turn into the port, to dock and hoist the sails, to unload their cargo. There was always a team of dockworkers present to smooth the process, but the crew was involved in every step of the way, careful to ensure that nothing broke or cracked or slipped into the pocket of a tempted dockworker. Shaya stood in a line of sailors moving sacks from below deck onto a platform that a pulley would lift onto the dock. Tantsam glanced over at her from time and time, and below her fat exterior he could see the muscles of her arms and legs engaging as she took each sack and relaxing as she passed it on. She may have been young, but she was one of best sailors in the Bight.

    Tantasm would know: they’d work together a long time, in fact. Tantsam was a little older, the son of migrants who had relocated from the Archipelago at the End of the World to the Bight when a particularly bad drought struck their home islands. Like his parents, he had always worked on the docks and on ships--and so, remarkably, had Shaya. She came from a sailor-merchant family, and it was increasingly common for young women of that background to work the sorts of sailing jobs that had formerly been the province of young men. By now, Tantsam had lost track of the number of jobs they had worked together. Their friendship was easy and the rhythm of their cooperation flawless.

    It was late afternoon by the time everyone finished. This was contract work, so the ship’s captain and a skeleton crew stayed behind to tidy up while the hirelings went to collect their pay at the clerk’s office, a small, wide, low-roofed building at the head of the dock. They formed a line that stretched out onto the dock, and Shaya and Tantsam stood there chatting with each other and with their mates as the sun arced through the sky. At sea the breeze kept Shaya cool, but on land the sun always overheated her extra flesh, and now Tantsam saw sweat forming tiny beads on her forehead and her nose and her double chin. She wiped her brow and let the drops shake off her double chin, and she grumbled with growing impatience at the heat and the slow pace of the line. And then they both spotted not a sailor but a servant woman walk out of the building.

    Normally such a woman wouldn’t attract much notice, but this woman was fat--truly and properly fat, certainly fatter than Shaya. Fatness wasn’t unheard of in the Bight, but mostly it took the form of portly, middle-aged merchants and their wives, sailors who had moved through way through the ranks of their guilds until they became captains of their own ships, even commanders of small, personal fleets. They knew enough comfort and luxury to become soft and round, but they never reached true obesity, the kind that Shaya aspired to. And yet here was a lowly servant who was the fattest young woman Tantsam had ever seen. If Shaya was herself nearly as fat as a middling merchant, this woman was one and a half times her size and at least a hand shorter. She was a jiggling ball of flesh with a band of belly fat bulging out of the gap between her cropped, short-sleeved teal top and her long teal skirt--a standard servant’s uniform, simple, practical and cool enough for hard work, but by now far too small and tight for this woman. She strolled out of the door with short, fat, buoyant steps, bouncing as she walked slowly away from the docks and back into the city.
     
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  2. Dec 20, 2018 #2

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Chapter 1, cont'd

    The line inched ahead, Shaya stepped into the spare, cool interior of the building, and Tantsam, waiting just outside the door, let his attention wander from the conversation around him to Shaya. He could tell she was itching with curiosity. But before she could say anything, the clerk, a small man with a goatee and tiny glasses seated behind a desk, droned, “Name?”

    “Mánní-je,” she said, “who was that woman--”

    “Please state your name.”

    “Forget the formalities for once, please, can you just tell me who--”

    The clerk sighed and pulled his glasses down, staring at Shaya in exasperation. “Shanshaya, we always take care of business first. Then we can talk. So: your name?”

    Shaya sighed, too. “Yes, of course. It’s Shanshaya. Sholo na Shanshaya.”

    The clerk flipped silently through a few pages, scribbled something into a table, plopped one book closed just to open another, scribbled on another page, reached into a drawer, and drew out a bag of tiny silver coins, which he placed in Shaya’s hand. Finally, he took off his glasses, carefully placing them on the desk, and said, “Now, what was it you wanted to know?”

    “Who,” she said, “was that servant who walked out of here a few minutes ago?”

    “Íshár? She works for the Antim family. You don’t know her? She’s new, yes, come over from one of the villages on the mainland. I guess you’ve been gone for, what”--he flipped open yet another book--“a month? She certainly started before that.”

    Shaya shook her head. “I don’t know her. But she was huge, Mánní-je, I’ve never seen anyone in this city so big, let alone a servant! What happened?”

    “Well, I’m not normally one to talk about this sort of thing, but I must say it’s like the entire Antim family, and their neighbors, and even some others have lost their minds. They all look bigger than they were a month or two ago, and they didn’t start out small. I don’t know what’s gotten into them.”

    “You have no idea?”

    “None!” he shrugged.

    “This Íshár, does she come by here often?”

    “It depends,” he said. “They have her working in their offices, so sometimes she runs books back and forth or brings a message. But you never know. It’s all about the rhythm of the work.”

    “All right.” Shaya bit her lip, preoccupied, and tossed her bag of silver into the air a couple times before pocketing it. “Thank you, Mánní-je, for indulging my prying. I’ll see you soon.”

    The clerk simply nodded and replaced his glasses. Shaya walked out and glanced at Tantsam, curiosity and unease in her eyes. The clerk called in Tantsam, and Shaya said, “I’ll wait for you here.”

    * * *

    The sun was dipping lower now, flooding the city with the bittersweet light of late afternoon, as Tantsam and Shaya walked through the tight, winding roads of the commercial district. The coast of Méggóg rose up rapidly from the shore, and beyond the low-lying commercial district the two sailors saw more residential areas looming above them in the near distance. The lowest slopes held sailors’ collective accommodations, but the neighborhoods became more prestigious as their eyes moved up the slope, from the large houses of more prosperous merchants, through the still larger properties of the very rich merchants who served as the island’s de facto nobility, to the small palace of the Prince and his family. When the road switched back, their view took in the straights beyond the island, and in the distance the thin line of the mainland coast, a land of many small villages but no cities or principalities.

    It wasn’t always so. Hundreds of years earlier, Méggóg and the other islands in the Bight of Vhida were barely settled, and the coast was the outer rim of a great mainland empire. In time, though, the empire crumbled in a series of vicious civil wars, hemorrhaging refugees to the islands. Within a generation of two, these refugees took up a lively maritime trade, first just within the Bight, then along the whole coast and deep into the mainland, and one day even to the distant Archipelago. The Principalities grew up around this activity, and they ruled with a light hand, eager to protect the stability and security of the trade but careful to avoid the ruinous conflicts that destroyed the coastal empire. The lives that Tantsam and Shaya led were thus nothing like anything the Bight had seen in centuries: they lived in a world of prosperity and vibrance, fragile and provisional but real nonetheless. Everyone, from the lowest fisherman to the Princes themselves, knew this deeply and did their part to maintain the integrity of their world.

    But Tantsam wasn’t thinking about this at the moment. He just felt tired, ready to go home with his parents, his brothers, and his friends, to sleep. But Shaya was obsessed with the servant woman.

    “Doesn’t it just get under your skin?” she was saying.

    “I don’t see what’s so wild about it.”

    “That’s the kind of body I want one day, Tantsam, but I thought I’d have to work for years, maybe decades, to get it. How does one servant have it now? It’s like the world is upside down.”

    Her little belly, less little all the time, was bouncing with each step, but for once Shaya’s mind didn’t seem to be with her body. Her gaze was distant, her mind fixed.

    “Shaya, I’ve never seen you crazed like this,” Tantsam said. “It worries me a little. I’m confused about this woman, too, but I’m sure there’s an explanation.”

    “Maybe….” She trailed off, and then turned to look at Tantsam. “Will you help me figure it out?”

    He sighed. “Even if I wanted to, I have another job. Day after tomorrow. I need some rest.”

    She nodded, and her gaze drifted again. Tantsam didn’t know how to feel--their intimacy, normally so easy, had vanished in a matter of minutes, and it left Tantsam a little panicked. Why did he need her attention this badly? Why did he miss it so soon? Shaya was just a shipmate, right?

    He didn’t have time to untangle these threads: they’d come to stop in front of her home, a two-story building that had her father’s offices on the main floor and their residence on the second. A dusty, faded sign above the door read, “Sholo na Uchér.”

    “All right,” Shaya said resolutely, as though finally responding to her friend. She went in quickly for a hug, and he found himself surprised, and a little slow to return the gesture. Her belly pressed and spread against his own pudgy, muscular middle, and then she pulled back. “Good luck with your next job, Tantsam. How long are you gone?”

    “A week, maybe less.”

    “Ok. I’m here for a while, so I’ll see you when you’re back. Safe sailing.”

    He smiled and thanked her, and he watched her walk through the front door of the building, her curly hair bouncing as she walked, her buttocks jiggling slightly, stiffly with each step. Suddenly he felt a little unnerved, and as he looked up he spotted Shaya’s father in the upstairs window, mostly shadowed but clearly watching Tantsam. The Archipelagan laughed a quiet, nervous little laugh to himself and waved, a gesture Shaya’s father returned. And then Tantsam turned and walked briskly up the street, heading home.
     
  3. Dec 24, 2018 #3

    Rondeurs

    Rondeurs

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    Well done. Looking forward to the development of the story.
     
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  4. Jan 11, 2019 #4

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 2

    Sweet peppers, coarsely chopped, danced in the deep frying pan over Uchér’s stove. He stoked the fire inside and took a step back, just for a moment, watching the peppers glisten and sizzle in the heat and the low, orange light. He poured in a bowl of pale yellow beans and a bit of rice, seasoning it with spices and squeezing half a citron over the pan. He added stock he had prepared overnight and let the whole thing simmer.

    Uchér pinched a piece of bread off a loaf on his table and nibbled on it absently, mesmerized by the slow roil of the stew, until a faint noise caught his ear: conversation, outside. He eyed to stew to see that it wouldn’t boil over and then stepped out of his kitchen, passing through the central rooms of his house and moving to a window in the small foyer of the front of his house. Pushing the window open slightly, he saw his daughter, Shanshaya, his beloved Shanka, chatting in the street with one of her frequent shipmates. Tassam, was it? He knew the boy, but not well. Shaya was at sea more and more these days, and her mates rarely spent time in Uchér’s house when she was home with him.

    Shanshaya and her friend embraced, and Uchér felt a twist in his stomach like a growling dog. He checked it, held it by the scruff, but he wasn’t sure whether to pull it back or let it loose. He fancied himself a liberal father, and these were liberal times, but there was a difference between liberal and libertine. That sort of public affection would have been scandalous when Uchér himself was young; he had barely held his late wife’s hand before they were married. But that was then. Now, with trade busier and more lucrative than ever, the merchants had found migrants from the Archipelago and the Continent insufficient to crew all their voyages, and they had begun to hire women. Shanka had practically grown up on her father’s ships, so it was an easy transition for her to take on this work as she grew up. Some women, the children of more middling merchants, were poised to inherit their fathers’ businesses when they retired. Shanka was certainly one of these: neither she nor her father had any brothers, and she knew the business like no one else.

    The embrace faded, and the boy (Tannam?) furrowed his brow and looked straight up at Uchér. Uchér resisted the urge to scowl but lacked the will to smile, so he just continued to stare at the boy, impassive. The young Archipelagan began to sweat, said his goodbyes, and walked off down the street.

    Uchér greeted his daughter with a long, tight embrace and a kiss on the forehead. “You know how it warms my heart to see you after a long voyage. How are you, my Shanka?”

    “Exhausted, papa,” she sighed, “but really, really good.” She strolled into the foyer, her boots clacking on the wood floors. “It’s been so long since I saw the whole Bight. Lately I’ve been back and forth to Deik Batta so many times I get sick thinking about it. But I saw almost everything this time, everything but Parna!”

    “No wonder you were gone so long! I’m just glad you’ll be back for a while, though sadly I won’t be here the whole time.”

    She looked surprised. “No?”

    He shook his head, his shaggy, peppery hair flapping. “I’ll have to command a voyage myself in a few days.”

    “Don’t you have captains you pay to do this?”

    He shrugged. “They’re all out on other trips! And this is a big one, worth a lot. I have to make sure everything goes smoothly. Anyway, you’ll need to watch the shop while I’m gone, but it shouldn’t be more than a week all told.”

    “All right.” Shanshaya sniffed, and a grin spread across her round face. “Did you make limbubíj?”

    He just smiled back, and they both moved to the kitchen. Shanka traded her boots for soft, quiet slippers and sat down at a small table in a nook at the back of the room. Uchér served the stew in two wide, low bowls with a hunk of bread for each. Even before he’d settled into his chair, Shanka was already testing the stew, wincing as the hot broth scalded her pursed lips. But his hungry daughter couldn’t be stopped: she worked her way hastily through the limbubíj, sipping and slurping to cool what she could and stoically enduring what heat remained. She dunked her bread as she ate, gulping down soaked hunks, sopping up the dregs with the crust. When she finished, the bowl was clean as a whistle, and she looked up again as though a trance had been broken and asked, “Is there more?”

    Uchér was blowing on a spoonful of stew, merely his third or fourth, but he placed it back in the bowl. “Of course,” he said. “A little.”

    She pushed out of her chair and came back with what was left, about half a bowl, and the rest of the bread, almost half the loaf. She scarfed down the limbubíj even faster this time, dunking and sopping until every drop was gone, and then she sat there picking at the bread, popping little pieces into her mouth and masticating them into a watery pulp that slid down her throat. She worked in silence: Uchér’s daughter had always eaten in silence, quietly and fiercely driven to consume all the food in front of her and whatever else she could find in the vicinity. He let a little dismay creep into his brow: Shanshaya’s hunger had only grown broader, only deeper with time, and this was the most gluttonous he had ever see her. Her eyes searched the room as she munched, turned to his and flitted away again. She could not hold his gaze.
     
  5. Jan 11, 2019 #5

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 2 cont'd

    She sighed and seemed to try to relax. “I’m surprised you never hire anyone to cook for you. Your servant who comes to clean, she’s a wonderful cook. She could do this for you.”

    “I like to cook,” he said, “and I love to make you your first meal when you come back home. It’s not a burden.”

    “You have a lot going on. I’m just saying, she could give you a break.”

    “You’re just saying you’d be able to get her to make you more food more easily.”

    Uchér’s daughter flushed and frowned, but she held her tongue. “Of course not,” she mumbled. “You had seconds, and bread. There was plenty of food.” She was lying. He knew she was still hungry.

    He stayed quiet a moment, but then he couldn’t help himself. “Don’t you normally lose weight at sea? You look bigger than when you left.”

    Shanshaya’s eyes flashed, and she exhaled sharply, but still she held her tongue. “Yes,” she said slowly. “Both of those things are true, papa.”

    He couldn’t stop himself. “Shanshaya, you need to get yourself under control. Your appetite is getting out of hand.”

    She finally slipped, too. “This isn’t about my appetite. You just can’t handle the fact that I’m more independent than mom ever was. Every girl now is more independent than mom ever was, and you’re stuck in the past.”

    “You will not,” his tone sharpening, “invoke your mother like that.” He stopped, caught the dog by the scruff, pulled it back, still itching to let loose. “You’re absolutely right that I ‘can’t handle’ your behavior. But it’s not your independence: you will inherit my fleet one day and take it to new heights, I have no doubt. But only if you can control yourself. What will everyone think of you, fattening up like an old, rich merchant while you’re only 21? Every day you slide a little deeper into that greed, that impertinence. Do not let you ambition show like that, my daughter. You must know your place and put in the time it takes to reach that point. Now is not the time to grow fat and entitled. Save that for your middle age.”

    Shanshaya bit her lip and shook her head in bottled frustration, but she exhaled, nodded, let the rest of the bread fall to the table and sit there. She was a headstrong girl, always had been, but Uchér knew the depth of her love and respect for him. She would never cross him, not really, not deeply. He could lean on that to keep her worst instincts from getting the best of her.

    At least, that had always been true before. Every day now Shanka was fiercer, fatter, hungrier for food and for fortune. As she stared defiantly into a corner, he saw that the rolls of her belly pushed snugly against overalls that had been a little loose before she began this voyage. Her body would soon burst the bonds of her clothes like she wanted to burst the bonds of Uchér’s authority. The tides of time were carrying her away from him, just like they had taken his wife so many years ago, before Shanka was even old enough to remember her. She wouldn’t be his little girl much longer, and then what would he have left?

    Shanka finally picked another corner of bread, popped it into her mouth, and looked back at him. “Since I know you worry about this so much,” she said, “have you noticed that servant girl from up the hill? Íshár?”

    “What? Who?”

    “Íshár is her name, Mánní-je told me. A new servant girl for the Antim family. Round as a bubble.”

    Now Uchér understood, and he remembered seeing this girl bustling about town, cheerful and quick and yet somehow a little rounder every time he saw her.

    “Yes, I know now. Short, fat girl whose belly keeps poking above her skirt? She even came by here on some business once, running some notes back and forth and paying a debt.” He could see her waddling away now, symmetrical roles of mahogany-brown backfat peeking below her top and jiggling slightly with each portly little step. “By my father’s fathers, she is a mystery.”

    “You really don’t know how she got so big?”

    Uchér shook his head. “I don’t. Especially with all the walking about town she does. A sign of the times, I suppose?”

    Shanka rapped her knuckles on the table and nodded in satisfaction. “So this is why you’re so worried about me. You see this girl and think we’re all going to look like her by next week. You think she’s the harbinger of cultural degradation. She’s made you anxious!”

    “No, no,” Uchér frowned, pushing away even the possibility that his daughter was right. “You’ve been reading too many stories again, talking like that.”

    His daughter just smiled and nodded. Finally she shoved herself up from the table and said she needed to change. “I’m going out to see my friends at Viar Square.”

    To eat more, he thought, but he said nothing and just assembled a pile of dirty pots and dishes while his daughter retreated to her room. He drew his finger along his frying pan and popped it into his mouth, savoring the flavors as they clashed and harmonized on his tongue. Did Shanka enjoy her food like this? Did she even know how? She was right, of course, none of this was really about her appetite, but that was the easiest thing to see and to control. Or maybe it wasn’t--and an image flashed through his mind of his daughter, a year older and half again as large, wearing overalls warped and distended by her massive body, her deeper, heavier belly piling outward and spreading wide, her muscle having faded and given way to flabby flesh, softening her and ballooning her, encasing her neck and her face in soft rings and rolls, lining her body in layers so thick that no one had a right to them, no matter how hard they worked or how old they were--

    “Papa?”

    The daze broke, and her turned back to his daughter, much smaller in fact than in his daydream but bigger than she had ever been. His stomach squirmed as it sought to square his fears with reality, but it was just his Shanka, now wearing a simple, sleeveless white top and a beautiful red knee-length skirt whose gold-trimmed waist sat most of the way up her belly. The fabric draped on the outermost expanse of that belly and then billowed beyond and below it, loosing her from the tightness of her workday uniform.

    “Yes, Shanka?” Uchér blinked.

    “I’m going to the Square. You’ll see me before bed tonight.”

    “Ok. All right.” He approached her and embraced her, held her tight, and she held him back with the same warmth. It was easy to let his fears get the best of him while Shanka was away, but she was his only daughter, almost his only family. Everything he did and said was out of love, but he had to remind himself of that sometimes. He squeezed her once more and let her go.
     
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  6. Mar 20, 2019 #6

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 3

    A technical note: 1 talent = 15 pounds in our world.


    ~

    The sun sank over the western horizon, but the sky above still burned with orange and pink, colors echoed in the torches lit one by one throughout Viar Square. This huge plaza in the city’s southwest sat practically empty during the day, but now, steadily, vendors and revelers poured in, setting up carts and stands and chairs and stools, an open market of food, drink, and fellowship for the city’s multifarious proletarians. Sailors, clerks, and servants with a little extra money to burn showed up to Viar Square once, twice, three times a week to feast on hot, delicious snacks, to get a buzz, to forget for a few hours the drudgery of their daily lives.

    That, at least, was what Puru aimed to offer her customers. Almost every evening, she would wheel her cart from the very room she slept in, trekking across the city to Viar Square, and park the cart in the largest unoccupied corner of the plaza. As she unfolded it, as her compact cart became a sprawl of counters and shelves and even a small oven, her regulars clustered around her, some adventurous women but mostly men, fraternizing and flirting. Every night, it seemed, the regulars brought new friends to sample the exquisite fruits of Puru’s work: sweet-jellied rolls, goat and chicken dumplings, salty breads, crystalline candies, and always a warm stew, especially tempting on a cool night like this one. And, of course, plenty of rice beer.

    Puru worked over some dough, and she felt her modest belly jiggling with each movement, her barely-existent breasts pushed together with every knead. On its own, her body was plain and angular, altogether without softness; only with this layer of fat did she finally feel feminine, and she craved that feeling deeply. Puru was constantly snacking on her wares, and while that ate into her earnings she would never give it up. It was the only way for her to maintain her womanly curves.

    Then, much to Puru’s delight, Shaya arrived. The girl was radiant, her skin darker and glossier from the sun of a long journey, her sunstreaked, curly hair let to fall over her shoulders. Shaya, thought Puru, has always had a tremendous sense of style. She admired the girl’s simple, plain white top, tucked into a beautiful, red, knee-length skirt at the apex of her belly. Did that belly look a little fuller? That wasn’t the normal way of things, for Shaya to gain weight while she was away. Puru watched the red skirt ripple as Shaya walked through the torchlight under the darkening sky, watched her meaty arms swing and her thick, strong calves carry her through the square. Shaya was fat like her, and she loved it. They were sisters in corpulence.

    Shaya smiled broadly as she approached, and without a word they embraced, bellies smooshing as they held each other tight and released.

    “Shaya, my sister, I go a month without seeing you and it feels like a year!”

    “Well, I’ve been away most of this year, I know! Many long trips. It’s good to see you.” She settled on a stool next to Puru’s cart, her skirt straining as her belly spread and pushed into her lap.

    “You’re well? Your father is well?”

    “He is very well. And I’m well, of course; you know I live for the sea!”

    “And for dumplings,” said Puru, and she put a plate of three in front of Shaya. The sailor girl’s eyes lit up, and she popped one piping hot right into her mouth. “I haven’t even given you the sauce yet!” Puru protested. She placed a small bowl of tangy sauce on Shaya’s plate, followed but a cup of rice beer, as Shaya breathed out some of the steam. For a minute Shaya simply worked in silence, tucking into the dumplings, dipping them in the sauce, making sure every last bite and drop of food and drink made it into her mouth. She washed the whole thing down with the rice beer, which Puru replaced. She glowed as Shaya ate; she loved making the girl happy like this.
     
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  7. Mar 20, 2019 #7

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 3 cont'd

    A short, stocky, pale brown man with shaved hair stepped up to the cart. “Four goat dumplings, please.”

    Puru ignored him, oblivious to anything but her friend. “I’m so proud of you, Shaya. You’re on your way to a good life. Hell, you’ve led such a good life already! I want for you what I could never have.”

    Shaya blushed. “What are you saying? And you have a customer!”

    Puru waved her hand in dismissal: “There’s no rush.” The man rolled his eyes.

    “You’re never like this,” Shaya said. “When did you become so sentimental? Everyone is so candid since I’ve gotten back, it’s bizarre.”

    “Can I get those dumplings?” the man insisted.

    “Right after I get serve my friend Shaya here,” said Puru, and she started to plate four more dumplings.

    “They said this fuckin guy was eccentric…” the man muttered. Puru’s heart began to pound, but she put on a tough face and stared the man down. “I’m no guy,” she said, but he ignored her.

    Shaya herself shot daggers back at him. “Puru is a woman, my friend. You heard her.”

    He shrugged dismissively. “If that’s what he thinks.”

    Shaya shot out of her seat, and Puru went to restrain her, but it wasn’t necessary. Shaya merely stood there, her fat, strong abdomen puffed out, fists clenched, and the man backed away with a gesture of submission. Puru’s other customers cleared a path around him, to let him pass and to remind him he had no friends here.

    “Ok, ok, a woman, got it.” Shaking his head, he turned and wandered off to another corner of the square, lit intermittently by waves of torchlight. Shaya fell back onto the stool, and Puru set to kneading dough, feeling the sweat beading on the back of her neck, the roughness of her hands, the tiny black hairs always threatening to grow in on her cheeks.

    Shaya reached up and put a hand on her friend’s back. “I’m so sorry, Puru. I didn’t think we had pigs like him in Viar anymore.”

    Puru relaxed a little under Shaya’s touch. “It’s ok,” she half-lied. “He’s clearly new. You heard his accent. Just in from the Grasslands last week, I’m sure. He didn’t seem hostile, just ignorant. He’ll learn”

    “He won’t have a chance to learn. I’m not letting him near your cart for the rest of his life.”

    “Good news then: that just means more dumplings for you.” She handed Shaya a plate of eight, and the sailor girl smiled back bashfully.

    The moment passed, the night wore on. Puru watched Shaya spend more money than she should have on dumplings and rice beer, but that was Shaya’s vice, and Puru always gave her some free rounds. A few women slowly mixed with the men, mostly queer themselves. But a couple other girls, straight friends of Shaya’s, also joined the fun. There was Enda, a tall, pale Grasslander with long, beautiful features. Her long limbs and body mostly disguised the fact that she had gained weight over the past year, but the bulge of her bare arms gave it away. Next to her sat Lalo, an Archipelagan born in the Bight who showed off her curvaceous body through her tight blue tunic and pants. And then there was Bahín, a short, chubby, round-faced, dark-skinned, sharp, mischievous Vhidan who was perhaps Shaya’s best friend. Puru had known and become close with all these girls for years, and she knew that Shaya was responsible for leading them into a life of indulgence and adventure. They used to be skinny and to wear modest clothing, but their passionate, single-minded friend had pulled them along in her pursuit of pleasure.

    “How are you, girls?” asked Shaya, beaming with inebriation. “I’ve been away for so long.”

    “Too long!” moaned Lalo playfully. She held Shaya in a violent embrace, smooshing her ample breasts into Shaya’s belly. “If I have to fill out any more paperwork in the customs house I’ll go crazy. I need something interesting in my life!”

    “Me too,” said Enda. “I haven’t been hired for a voyage in weeks. You’re the only one with something interesting going on, Shaya! Tell us about your trip!”

    “Speak for yourself,” said Bahín, her chubby cheeks bending into a mock frown. “I lead a perfectly steady, fulfilling life marketing produce, whatever sad-sack jobs you might have. But, Shaya, that doesn’t mean you can’t tell us about your trip!”

    Puru leaned forward, grinning. “Tell us, Shaya!”

    Shaya laughed nervously. “There’s nothing to tell! Nothing happened; it was boring.”

    Bahín prodded Shaya’s belly and said through a mouthful of dumpling, “I beg to differ. You’re bigger, after a month at sea!”

    “I know.” Shaya’s round cheeks spread and glowed with her grin. “I’m not mad, but I don’t understand it. All that rum, I guess. It wasn’t a hard voyage. There was less work than usual.”

    “I have to tell you,” said Enda, crossing her arms and resting her hands on her plump biceps, “it’s not just you. It feels like half the town is fattening up right now.”

    Shaya’s eyes went wide. “I noticed. I haven’t been back a full day and I noticed. Do you all know Íshár?” Blank faces. “You know, that servant girl the Antims always have running all over town? She’s huge; she exploded!”

    “I don’t know the girl you’re talking about,” said Bahín, leaning in, “but I do know what’s going on.”

    “What?” Shaya leaned in closer.

    Banín practically whispered: “A witch.”

    Shaya sat up spitting and sputtering. “Bullshit. I thought you were going to answer my question.”

    “I did!” Banín insisted earnestly while Enda and Lalo rolled their eyes. “I swear, Shaya, it’s a Witch Queen from the North, beyond the desert and the plains and everything. She’s wandered all the way down to the Bight, enchanting the food that everyone eats and fattening them up like goats at the slaughter.”

    Puru couldn’t contain her laughter at this point (which only sent Banín into a foul mood), but Puru stifled it and leaned across the counter, putting a hand on Shaya’s arm. “Listen, sister, I don’t think it’s a witch, but I do know how you can find out what’s going on. Totonu, come over here!” A tall, muscular, smooth-headed Archipelagan at the back of Puru’s crowd waved her off, but she insisted so much that he sighed and stood up and walked over from his friends.

    “I’m missing a good story,” he said, “this better be important.”

    “It is,” Shaya insisted, but Totonu just looked to Puru.

    “Toka,” she said, “you work for the Antims, don’t you?”

    “Of course. Sort of. I’ve been managing their herds for years, you know this.”

    “But Shaya doesn’t,” said Puru. “I heard you might know something about what’s going on with all the weight people are gaining around here.

    “Ahh,” he said, grinning and turning to Shaya, “yes, I might. This is a good story of my own.” Puru quietly restocked everyone’s drinks and dumplings while Totonu spoke. “Like I said, I manage the herds, so I’m inland, mostly. I don’t spend any time in the house. But for a month or so, every time I came back, I noticed everyone in that house was getting fat. Not just the matriarch and the patriarch, they’ve always been on the round side, but the servants, too, everyone. Of course, I only ever deal with Eka, who reports to Be, who’s the agent of Trana, and Trana is the one who actually works in the house. So I don’t get to see any of this up close, but I can tell. They’re huge. This one servant in particular.”

    “Íshár?” pressed Shaya, rapt.

    “Maybe; I don’t know her name. But whoever she is, it’s like she doubled in size! And of course the lord and lady of the house, they’ve gotten fatter than anyone. Genuinely obese. Getayin-noble obese.”

    “I told you,” interrupted Bahín, “it is a witch from the north!”

    Totonu laughed. “No,” he sighed, “no witch. But it is someone from the North. I asked Eka, and Eka said he heard from Be, who heard from Trana, that Gaván and Patni Antim hosted a king and queen for a month?”

    “The King and Queen of Geta?” asked Enda, confused.

    “No,” Totonu said, “a king and queen from an even more distant land. From nowhere, really. he said the king rescued the queen from captivity, and she’s the most beautiful woman in the world, but they’ve been on the run ever since. No realm can tolerate their love, not hers and not his, so they wander all over, looking for a home where they can finally settle. But what home is fit for a king and a queen?”

    “What,” said Lalo, “does any of this have to do with everyone getting fat?”

    “Well, that’s the thing. This queen is also the fattest person in the world, and she spreads her appetite to everyone she spends time with.”

    “I told you she’s a witch!” cried Bahín.

    Totonu sighed. “Maybe she’s a fucking witch, I don’t know. This is just what Eka told me.”

    “How is that not the definition of a witch?”

    Puru’s attention drifted from this argument between Bahín and Totonu, moving to Shaya. The girl’s eyes were shimmering in distraction, her gaze trained on some distant, unseen focus, her mind at work. Puru went to pour her friend another cup of rice beer and saw that Shaya hadn’t even touched her glass. She’d been absorbed in the story the whole time.

    Slowly, Shaya turned to look up at Puru: “I have to meet her.” Finally, she downed the beer in two gulps, and Puru refilled the glass.

    Totonu overheard and turned back. “No can do. They stayed for a while, but they left weeks ago, almost a month. If this is for real, they’re a mysterious couple. You’ll never find them.”

    Shaya stood up suddenly, her full belly wobbling and stretching the waist of her skirt, and let a burp escape the corner of her lips. She didn’t seem to notice. “I’ll figure it out.” She turned to leave, but Puru placed a hand on her thick, tapering wrist.

    “You have to pay first sister.”

    “I know I haven’t paid in months,” Shaya pled, “but I’ll get it to you before I leave. I promise.”

    “Before you leave? Where are you going?”

    But Shaya had already walked into the darkness, and Bahín and Totonu were both banging on the counter for more dumplings.
     
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  8. Mar 20, 2019 #8

    Benny Mon

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    * * *

    Bambambam.

    Puru winced and moaned and turned over under her sheets.

    Bambambambambam.

    She cracked her eyes, squinting even in the few rays that peeked around her shades and lit up the dust floating through her room. Why was her landlady banging on the door to her room? She always let her sleep as long as she wanted.

    Puru slid out of her covers, feeling her bulbous belly piling on her lap. “I’ll be right there, Malik-je.”

    “It’s not your landlady. Why are you sleeping?”

    Puru grimaced as she pushed herself to her knees and pulled a robe around her. “Shaya?” She pulled the door open and saw her friend standing there in tan pants and a sleeveless tunic embroidered around the collar. It was all pulled together with a cloth belt that clearly needed updating: it had no slack, pulled tight as it was around Shaya’s massive middle. That belly looked bigger even than it had the night Shaya returned from sea. No, not bigger, exactly, not in so little time, but softer, and her arms looked plumper, and a little less muscular. She stood there framed in the clear light of late morning, the sun illuminating the edges of her hair, her eyes radiant.

    Puru shielded her eyes against the light. “You stay away from Viar for over a week, and then you come wake me up in my own home? Who let you in?”

    “Malik-je, of course,” said Shaya, leaning her rolls against the door frame. “And I’ve been busy. That’s why I’m here. I need to ask you a favor.”

    Puru waved in her friend wearily, and she offered Shaya the bed as she walked over to a sink, filled it with some water from a bucket, and took out a razor to shave. “‘Why are you sleeping,’” Puru grumbled. “I work until dawn every night, why do you think I’m sleeping?”

    “I’m sorry,” said Shaya, “really, but it’s just there isn’t much time. I have to ask you a favor.” As she sat, the belt was pushed to its limits, and it unknotted and fell to the floor while the belly grew outward like dough.

    “You are noticeably softer in a week,” said Puru. “What’s gotten into you?”

    “I’m home,” she shrugged. “I get fat when I’m home. Maybe it’s the queen, who knows.”

    “What an excuse. Are you still on about that?”

    “Yes. That’s why I haven’t been around. I needed to find Íshár, that servant girl, so I hung around the docks to see if she would show up again. She didn’t, so I need your help.”

    Puru’s hands twitched in frustration, and she almost nicked her cheek with the razor. “Shaya, I love you, but when you act like this I don’t know what to do. You need to leave this obsession behind you. How are you going to find this girl?”

    “Totonu,” she said. “You can put me in touch.”

    “Totonu told you himself, he’s never around. He’s out in the fields with the goats.”

    “Then let me talk to his contact. Ega?”

    “Eka. And I don’t know Eka.”

    “Then you’re coming with me to the Antim house, and we’re going to find someone you do know.”

    “Shaya, who do I know--” but Puru stopped herself, lowered the razor, turned around, patted her face dry with a towel. Shaya may have been fatter than ever, but she had the same shining, expectant eyes she had always had--when she first got drunk at Puru’s cart, when she would run errands for her, when she would pass along particularly juicy pieces of gossip. Puru sighed, the tension fell from her shoulders.

    “Let me finish shaving,” she said, “and let’s get some breakfast. Then I’ll do whatever you want.” And she felt the warmth of Shaya’s beaming like sun on her skin.
     
  9. Mar 20, 2019 #9

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 3 cont'd

    * * *

    Before an hour had passed Puru found herself climbing the steep hills of the upper city with Shaya, breakfast biscuits in hand (obtained from Malik-je’s bakery), winding past larger and larger houses as the standing of the merchant proprietors grew with the altitude. Carrying a fat body up these hills wasn’t easy--the merchants and princes themselves only traveled by carriage--and Puru found herself sweating through her dress. Shaya, stronger and fitter, forged ahead, her large and unshapely buttocks shifting with every step, but Puru could hear her breath coming heavily, too. The past week of indulgence had already taken its toll, and she wondered how long Shaya could continue to work at sea if she kept gaining weight this fast. Weight loss at sea used to be a reset for her; it slowed her gain to a modest pace. But if she continued to gain on the job, she would quickly become too fat for the work.

    “How,” panted Puru, “have you even had time to spy on this poor girl? Your father’s at sea; you’re minding the shop.”

    “Business...is slow,” wheezed Shaya before she stuffed another meaty bite of biscuit between her lips. “I have the time.” She couldn’t chew with her mouth closed as she sucked in air, so Puru heard her lips and tongue and teeth smacking away.

    “Goatshit,” said Puru. “Your father is at sea because you don’t have enough ships to keep up with all the business.”

    Shaya looked back as she walked, her head restrained by the cushion of her double chin, and there was mischief in her eyes. “So then we can take the loss. What are you worried about?” She grinned and chomped and breathed heavily.

    The biscuits were gone too soon, and the walk lasted far too long, but by midday they crested the hill. There was a farther hill beyond, steep and rocky and turning to mountain, but before them sat the Antim estate, with only the Prince’s massive properties occupying the wide, shallow valley behind. The Antim house was compact, narrow and tall and built of a pale, sandy-rose stone that formed steep walls and soaring spires. It was like a castle, supposedly modeled on what you would find in the distant, northern kingdom of Geta. It sat at the heart of a tangle of outer houses, yards, and walls, all encompassed by a tall silver fence. There was no one to be seen.

    Shaya was leaning on her knees, pushing her belly far out in front of her. “Is it always this empty?”

    “How should I know?” Puru replied, flopping to the ground. “I told you I don’t know anyone up here.

    Shaya walked over and stood beside her. “Let’s see if that’s true.”

    They waited for hours. Totonu certainly wasn’t around, and for an hour they didn’t see anyone at all. “Maybe they’re trying to hide how fat they’ve gotten,” Puru mused, but Shaya was silent, entirely focused on waiting for comings and goings at the main gate. A couple of merchant errand boys passed up from the village and into the house, but neither of them emerged, much to Shaya’s frustration. A couple guards inside the gate started to eye the women suspiciously after a while, but they didn’t make any moves. A stocky man finally left the gate by mid-afternoon, but he wouldn’t stop when they tried to hail him. Even Shaya knew it was too aggressive to pursue him, so she flopped to the ground again. Puru heard her friend’s stomach growl; she was starving, too, but they hadn’t brought any food with them. No one thought they would be here for hours, but still they waited.

    Finally, as the afternoon sun shaded into warm tones, they heard a steady clopping and the creaking of wheels. The guards opened the gates, and out came the tiniest carriage the women had ever seen, a topless one-seater pulled by an ass and bearing none other than the servant-girl Íshár. Puru was stunned: she was just as fat as Shaya had said, maybe fatter. She wore the same teal uniform all servants wore, a long skirt and a short-sleeved cropped top, but it bulged and stretched in a struggle to contain her, and her upper belly vastly overflowed the gap between the two pieces. Puru guessed she weighed over 20 talents, but she’d never seen someone this fat; it was hard to guess. Her flabby body jiggled with every bump in the road, the fused fat of her round cheeks and neck wobbling wildly.

    “Íshár!” Shaya yelped before Puru could stop her. The guards almost leapt to action, but Íshár waved them down.

    “Do I know you?” she said as her vehicle approached. She brought it to a stop beside the two women. Puru couldn’t believe how trusting and open Íshár was, and she was intensely conscious of the sweat covering her own skin.

    “My name is Shanshaya,” her friend said. “I’m a sailor and a merchant’s daughter, and this is my friend Puru.” Íshár nodded her fat face politely but simply waited. She had the bearing of a merchant but, as a servant, a lower standing than Shaya. Puru couldn’t figure out what to make of it.

    “I know this is an ambush,” Shaya continued, “but I have to know if the rumors are true. Were the Antims visited by a king and queen?”

    Íshár’s eyes went wide, and she looked back at a moment toward the guards before saying, “Ride with me for a while.” Puru looked at Shaya--there clearly wasn’t enough room--but Shaya was already climbing onto the bench on Íshár’s right, so Puru scrambled up on the left. They barely fit, and Puru considered it a blessing in this moment that neither of them had hips. She was squished up against Íshár’s body; she felt the servant’s belly press into hers, flowing up Puru’s torso as it sought space to occupy. This was a new experience.

    They wound slowly through the city, taking back roads and indirect routes away from crowds. “Where did you hear this?” asked Íshár.

    “It’s a rumor going around,” said Shaya. Puru was proud that her friend knew enough to protect her sources. “I wouldn’t give it much credit if I hadn’t seen you. I say this with the greatest admiration, but I have never seen someone as fat as you, a servant or a merchant or a princess, even. Only the magic of a wandering queen could explain it.”

    Íshár laughed, and the candor took Puru aback. “Magic! No, there was no magic--” and she stopped herself. “Yes, I understand that my body is a walking announcement that something is different. As is this little carriage the Antims built for me. The Antims have been kind; they know I can’t move through the city like I used to.”

    “Because of the queen?” interjected Shaya.

    Puru saw the same glimmer in Íshár’s eyes that she knew from Shaya’s. But the servant girl stayed quiet.

    “I can make it worth your while,” Shaya pushed. “Puru will serve you free snacks for a week! Every night in Viar Square.”

    “Hang on,” Puru began, but a particularly bad bump in the road knocked the wind out of her.

    Íshár’s stomach gurgled. “I don’t take bribes,” she managed halfheartedly.

    Puru was watching to see if she would snap at Shaya’s offer, and as she looked she started to see something different in Íshár.and she turned to scrutinize Puru. “I know you…” she mumbled. A thinner face shone out beneath the fat, and she seemed to recall an Íshár of many talents ago visiting her stand in Viar.

    Íshár shifted uncomfortably under the scrutiny, but she began to stare back, too. “You’re Totonu’s friend, aren’t you?” Puru nodded wordlessly, and Shaya grinned in vindication. “I thought so. I only know of him, but I’ve seen him at your stand, and he knows Eka, who knows Be, and I trust Be. Listen, I can’t tell you much, but I liked you right away, and I can see how badly you want this. It really isn’t a treasure I should cling to; it’s a gift to the world that needs to be shared. If my time with her taught me anything, it’s that. That she’s been driven into hiding like this is a terrible crime….” Puru was confused, but she listened on. “To find what you’re looking for, go talk to Ravum at the docks. They’re not here on the island anymore, but he can tell you where they went.” Straining against the barrier of her belly, she reached under her seat and pulled up a small pouch. “Give him this. He’ll understand, and he’ll trust you.”

    Shaya clasped the pouch. “Thank you. You don’t know what this means. The only thing is, you’ll have to wait a while for those free snacks.”

    “I thought she wasn’t taking the snacks,” Puru said. “What are you talking about, Shaya?”

    “Puru, I need you to watch Papa’s shop while I’m gone.”

    “What?” It was all Puru could do not to explode.

    “You know how to keep books and deal with the customers! It will be fine! I won’t be gone more than a week.”

    “How do you know? And what about my cart?”

    “You’ll take my pay for the whole time, you won’t need the cart. It’s more money than you make, anyway. It’ll finance the free snacks!”

    Puru could see Íshár smirking out of the corner of her eye, but she fixed her gaze on the road ahead. She shut up and felt the anger steaming inside of her. She always said she would do anything for Shaya, but Shaya was testing the limits of her generosity. Testing--but not breaking. Her silence conveyed her acceptance.

    Shaya persuaded Íshár to swing by her house so she could throw together a travel pack and drop off Puru. Sailor and servant would continue from there to the docks.
     
  10. Mar 21, 2019 #10

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 4

    Nús didn’t want to attract any undue attention when he left the city--no carriages, no noise, no fanfare--and so he walked now through the commercial district under cover of darkness, alone but for two bodyguards and the dagger hidden under his robes. He had the tall, lean, muscular body of a Grasslander, muscles toned and head shaved, more like a sailor than a merchant, and his bodyguards hustled to keep up. He couldn’t delay; leaving important guests unattended on Parna was out of the question.

    His boots thwacked on the wood of the docks as he strode toward his boat, but old, hunched Ravum stopped him with a light hand on his arm.

    “You have a passenger,” Ravum creaked, and he handed Nús a small pouch, slightly untied. Nús loosened the string and pushed the pouch open with thumb and forefinger. It was too dark to see, but the smell of candied flower petals wafted up to him.

    “Íshár?” he breathed, his voice deep and soothing.

    “A friend of hers, perhaps.”

    “Perhaps?”

    “She had the pouch. That’s all I know.”

    Nús nodded and thanked Ravum before stepping across the plank onto his vessel, a cargo boat with two massive, polygonal sails. It was much smaller than the merchant ships that scored the ways of the Bight, roomy enough only for Nús, his bodyguards (who doubled as a crew), and now his passenger. A girl, and a fat one, quite fat, sitting on a crate on the deck. Some merchant’s daughter, no doubt. Under the dim lamps of the docks, he couldn’t see her very well, merely that she took up more space under her cloak than most. He beckoned her to his cabin in the rear, and she leapt to her feet and followed. She moved easily amidst the rocking of the boat; he was impressed.

    “You can hang your cloak on that hook,” Nús said inside as he lit a wide oil lamp hanging from the ceiling. He offered the girl a seat and got a better look at her. She wasn’t quite as fat as the bulkiness of the cloak suggested, but she was no twig, either. She stood in black boots and sailor’s pants and a sleeveless white shirt that hung loose over her breasts but gripped the curve of her belly. It was a shapely, complex belly, it’s upper fold resting on a larger, wider lower part that fought to escape the pants. Her arms were quite fat, but he could see muscle beneath them, and her curly hair was pulled into a tight bun that showed off a well-defined face layered in round fat.

    “I’ll admit,” he said, “I’m normally a good read of people, but I can’t quite figure you out.”

    “My name is Shanshaya.” She was hesitant, but her voice was sparkling and confident beneath the hesitation, and to his surprise she spoke the language of the Grasslanders. That was less and less rare, he realized, in the cosmopolitan Bight.

    “I’m flattered,” he replied in the same tongue. “A pleasure to meet you, Shanshaya, more puzzling than ever. No family name, though?”

    She hesitated again, and then: “Sholo na Shanshaya. But please, I don’t want my father to know where I am. At least not yet.”

    “Don’t worry,” he shrugged, “I don’t know him! ‘Sholo,’ it’s a foreign name to me.”

    She seemed a little offended. “He’s a rising merchant in Dhahál!”

    “I’m sorry, but honestly it sounds like it’s good news for you I don’t.” So she was a merchant’s daughter, just not the kind he expected. “You’re a friend of Íshár’s?” While he spoke one of his guards brought some food into the cabin, bread and salted meat.

    Again she hesitated, and his hackles rose a little. “Yes,” she said, finally. And unconvincingly. She thanked him for the food, too, and tore into it like she hadn’t eaten in days. “I missed lunch,” she apologized. “And dinner.”

    He nodded once and put a hand up in acknowledgment. “And how do you know her?”

    “Business,” she said, munching rapidly through the food. “My father has business with the Antims from time to time, and she’s visited our shop on more than one occasion.”

    Nús nodded again, still unpersuaded. Why would Íshár send this daughter of a small-time merchant to Parna with him? They clearly didn’t know each other. Was Íshár being blackmailed? He leaned forward. “And what business do you have with Heskaya? You know this is a tremendous privilege, to have a private audience with her.”

    “With who?”

    Nús felt a pang in his chest, and he steadied himself on the table. Shanshaya seemed too absorbed in her food to have noticed. The stress of these years in the Bight could return to him just like that, in a moment, when a stranger could somehow finagle her way onto his ship. Had she killed Íshár and stolen the petals? No, Ravum said Íshár had come in person. So she trusted this Shanshaya, though Nús couldn’t see why. He watched her eat, totally absorbed in devouring the bread, sopped in oil, and tearing hunks off the meat. If she wasn’t careful, she wouldn’t leave any for him. That was all right; he wasn’t hungry. And as unnerved as he was, there was something familiar about the situation. Shanshaya’s appetite, her determination in spite of fear or uncertainty, a certain glow about her: this was all the Queen Heskaya to a tee. Well, not quite to a tee. It was like seeing Heskaya through a distorted glass. He couldn’t put his finger on it.

    “With the Queen Heskaya,” he replied.

    “Ah.” Shanshaya’s head snapped up, attentive. “It’s not business, exactly. She simply inspires me. I want one day to lead a life like hers. You could say I’ve come for her counsel, her guidance.” She turned back to her food, and Nús winced. This didn’t make any sense. A visit from this girl was a waste of Heskaya’s time and a threat to her anonymity. But would it be worse to turn her back now, unsatisfied? And to insult Íshár by showing he no longer trusted her?

    “Well,” he managed, “Heskaya has always been wise, and a brilliant mentor to other women. You’ve chosen well.”

    “And you, what is your business with this Queen?”

    He stared at her, but she didn’t seem to pick up on the offense. “I have know the Queen and her king some time,” he said simply. “They are always welcome as visitors in my home.”

    Shanshaya nodded, mopping up the rest of the oil with the rest of the bread. That was it--the food was gone. Nús stood up and rang a bell, calling a guard to clean up the plates.

    “There’s a hammock for you below deck,” he said, “though I’m not sure you’ll fit.”

    “That’s fine,” she said, standing herself. “It wouldn’t be the first time. I’ll find a place. And I’m a sailor, so let me help tomorrow. The last thing I want is to be idle.”

    Nús nodded, thanked her. The guards showed her below deck. He stood for a minute in the cabin, the lamp swaying gently with the boat, rhythmically stirring the shadows around the room. A merchant’s daughter? A sailor? A corpulent girl who found out about Heskaya and got Íshár to vouch for her. He shook his head and stepped outside, bathed in wind and spray as he walked to the rear of the deck. There, at the furthest point, was a tiny wooden altar carved into the wall. It was weathered and worn and had been crude to start, but he could still make out two figures there, a man and a woman, kneeling hand in hand. One of his guards had left a live fish in a bowl to the side, and he picked it up now and sliced it open with his dagger, letting the blood flow over the altar and through a grate that emptied into the sea. It was a local tradition he’d picked up when he first came to the Bight four years ago, a sacrifice to his ancestors, a plea for good luck. He never thought he would believe in things like that, but then again he never anticipated anything about his current life. He would take his luck where he could find it.
     
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  11. Mar 21, 2019 #11

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    * * *

    Shanshaya was up before Nús: stepping out of his cabin in the morning light, he found her atop the mast, checking the sails and the rigging. Her overalls were a little too tight, and he could see her belly bunch and jiggle as her knees collided with it every time she climbed higher. She was bantering with his guards, her teeth brilliant in the morning sun, a few loose curls blowing fiercely out of her bun in the wind. Nús was impressed: the deck was clean and orderly, the rigging was fine, everyone was in a good mood. Maybe he had judged her too harshly last night. He was tired then, after all, and he could see now that she was no layabout. He needed to have more trust in Íshár. Heskaya’s continued existence depended on little more than trust, more so by the day. Nús couldn’t afford to waste what few resources remained to him. He had to have faith that Íshár had a purpose in all this.

    Shanshaya’s boots thudded as she returned to the deck, sending a quake through her whole body. “We’re making good time,” she said. “It’s just a line on the horizon, but I can see Parna. At this rate we should arrive by afternoon.”

    Nús inclined his head. “That’s good news. Thank you.”

    They kept busy throughout the day. Nús had letters to write, and Shanshaya worked with the crew to keep the boat on course. There was no work too lowly for the girl: she would mop the deck and even serve food. They all ate together, quickly and quietly, and Shaya continued to put away more than her share of food, if less extravagantly than the night before. She’d need it, he supposed, to keep her body both fat and fit. Maintaining that much muscle and fat wasn’t cheap.

    The boat slowed a bit as the winds died down, but they continued to make good time, and by late afternoon they were approaching Pashibandra, the port city on the west coast of Parna. Shanshaya was leaning against the rail, fixed on the approaching island, and Nús stepped over to join her.

    “Your first time in Parna?” he asked.

    “No, but it’s been at least a year, maybe two. I’ve seen the whole Bight, though; I’ve been sailing for my father since I was a child.”

    Nús stooped to lean, too, letting his strong forearms rest on the rail. “Will you sail forever?”

    “Until my father retires, and then I’ll take over his fleet. Once I’m rich, I can retire and just eat and travel and enjoy life.”

    “You’re ambitious,” he said. “Things are changing in the Bight, I know, but I’ve never seen a girl so fearless as you.”

    “Really? People say that, but it surprises me. I don’t see why I shouldn’t aim at what I desire.”

    Nús felt a twinge in his stomach, but he pushed it aside. The wind blew at their backs.

    “You asked me my business with the roving king and queen,” he said, “and I wasn’t fair to you.”

    “What are you saying? Your business is your business. You don’t have to share it with me.”

    “But I don’t have to disrespect a guest on my boat. I’ve known Heskaya and Sadesh for years now, and I care about them. When I heard they were coming to the Bight, I wanted them to feel welcome, so I brokered their visit to Dhahál. Íshár I’ve known through business, and through her I spoke with the Antims and set up the visit, a first feast before they joined me on Parna. The king and queen, they’ve been there for some time now, but unfortunately I was called back to Dhahál on business, which is why I was there when you got on my boat. I’m anxious to return. I’ve disrespected them by leaving for so long.”

    “Thank you. I know I’m not entitled to any of this, and you’ve been kind to share your story with me. And to take me to this queen!”

    The apology helped Nús realize what his twinge had meant. Shanshaya may have reminded him of Heskaya, but he worried that where the queen’s appetite was infectious, social, giving, Shanshaya’s was greedy, jealous, hoarding. The gratitude she had just expressed felt out of place. He wondered whether it was even sincere or if the girl was cannier than he had given her credit for.

    Shanshaya reached her arms and stretched, plastering her overalls to her belly, and finally they reached their limit: there was a rip as a fingerlength of stitches gave way, exposing the soft buttery skin of her belly as it pushed through like rising dough. She blushed.

    Nús slapped his hands on the rail and pushed himself up. “Don’t worry,” he said, “You should go change into finer clothes anyway. Let my men handle the entry into the port. You should look presentable when you meet a queen.”

    The girl smiled bashfully, her cheeks rosy with embarrassment and anticipation, and she headed below deck as Nús and his crew guided the boat into port in Pashibandra. Without the clunk of boots he didn’t hear Shanshaya reascend, and he was surprised to find a transformed, beautiful girl behind him, her sunkissed curls pulled into a half ponytail, her cheeks slightly rouged, her body wrapped in a twisty, deep violet dress that showed off her every curve. Nús blushed and turned away, surprised by his own embarrassment.
     
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  12. Mar 21, 2019 #12

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    Before long they were riding a large, heavy carriage through the city, and while Nús valued his privacy he peeked through the curtains to get a better look at his adoptive home. Parna was the cotton capital of the Bight, of the world, really, and so Pashibandra was full of color, of red and blue and purple and yellow textiles hanging from doors and from lines strung above the streets, from waists and shoulders as the city’s denizens crawled over it. But there were also the whites and neutrals of the Grasslanders, who for whatever reason had once chosen Parna as their chief destination in the Bight. They, too, had taken up cotton cultivation and textile production, and so the marks of their culture were interspersed among the bright Vhidan colors of the city.

    Shanshaya was peering outside, too, but she turned back and gripped Nús’ arm.

    “You’re really very forward,” he said.

    She ignored him. “There are fat Grasslanders out there!”

    “Not fat, no.”

    “Ok, plump. Chubby. But Grasslanders! Everywhere!”

    “Not many, surely.”

    “More than I’ve ever seen!”

    He let out a laugh and Shanshaya screwed up her face at him. The girl was right: true to form, Heskaya had left a trail of fatter bodies in her wake. Mostly they were people associated with his own operations, though not all of them had met the queen personally. Still, there was a ripple effect to her corpulent sociability. You could see it most of all in their arms: Grasslanders tended to gain weight in their upper bodies, and women across the city were now sporting flabbier, pillowier, sprawling arms. It was indeed an anomaly: Grasslanders were the eternal foes of Geta, the northern kingdom where obesity signified wealth and status. The Grasslanders rejected fatness along with all the other trappings of Geta and worked hard to retain lean, fit, muscular bodies. It was a testament to Heskaya’s charisma that even these few members of the diaspora had departed from the trend. If they only knew that Heskaya had once been a Getayin princess….He explained it all to Shanshaya.

    “You know,” she mused, “you could trace all of the queen’s wanderings just by following the trail of fattened bodies behind her.”

    Nús nodded grimly. It was true, and it worried him constantly. It was nearly impossible to keep someone as large and ravenous as Heskaya a secret, a fact to which Shanshaya’s very presence testified.

    The carriage rolled on, through the rich outer neighborhoods of the city and into the hilly countryside beyond.

    Shanshaya was again worried. “Are we not stopping at your home?”

    “Not in the city. The queen and her king are in my country home. We’ll meet them there.”

    Parna was not the mountainous island that Méggóg was, so the carriage rolled through flatter, rolling land where Vhidans and Grasslanders grew cotton in the terraced landscape. Nús spotted a few laborers meandering through the rows of plants, but picking season wouldn’t come till late summer, so the terraces were mostly empty. The air cooled and the sun sank as they ascended the slight grade of the road, but it was bright enough for Nús to see a few figures outside his house as they approached. They ran frantically from the door to the road as the carriage approached, and he realized it was his Sayógí, the Chief Associate in his operations, and one of his servants. Nús opened the carriage door and swung to the ground, hitting his stride before the carriage had even come to a stop in the middle of the road.

    “They’re gone,” breathed Sayógí, pallid.

    “Who’s gone?”

    Sayógí was silent. His face paled further.

    What?” He looked back to Shanshaya, who was stepping down out of the carriage. She didn’t seem to have heard. “Shanshaya, my servant here will show you to your room and get you settled. I have a bit of business to attend to before I join you. Please forgive me.” The girl protested, but she was bundled back into the carriage by the servant and transported to the house.

    “I’m so sorry…”

    “Forget it. Where did they go?”

    Sayógí was so panicked he could barely speak. “I have no idea. It’s not like they told me they were leaving. I don’t know if they ran away or if they were kidnapped.”

    “Sadesh is the only man who can kidnap a woman that size, and she’s quite a bit larger than she was the last time he did that. They ran off, I’m sure of it. We have to find them. When did they go missing?”

    “They were gone when we woke up.”

    Fuck.” Nús paced. “A full day. I know they’re feeling cornered, but this is the last thing they should have done. Who knows where they went. We need to spread out through the plantations just in case, but mostly I need to go to Pashibandra and see if they made it to the port. Hell, I could have passed them in the city this afternoon…”

    Sayógí shook his head. “Who was that with you in the carriage?”

    “Honestly,” Nús sighed, “I don’t really know. A merchant’s daughter from Méggóg. But her timing couldn’t be more suspicious. I’m going to instruct the staff not to let her leave the house, and then we go to Pashibandra.”

    The two men spent the evening rushing around the city asking their employees if they had seen the refugee monarchs, to no avail. They talked to other business associates, too, but they couldn’t be as direct with them--few actually knew about Heskaya--so they were limited to asking whether they had seen any strange activity or travelers. This, too, was a dead end.

    It was just after midnight when one of Nús’ servants appeared suddenly, stopping the two men in the street. He was clutching a bloody nose with a rag.

    “More bad news, sir,” he mumbled. “I found you as soon as I could, but it took a while.”

    “Don’t even tell me….” Nús’ blood was boiling.

    “The fat girl, sir. She must have heard you after all; she knew the queen wasn’t here. She’s gone, too.”
     
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  13. Mar 22, 2019 #13

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    Ch. 5

    A reminder: 1 talent = 15 pounds in our world.

    ~

    Shaya marched down the docks of Pashibandra’s port, powerless to stop the thudding of her boots against the boards. She was just too heavy to move quietly, but she would nonetheless have to move fast if she wanted to avoid capture by Nús. As soon as he found out she was gone, she knew he would send men to watch the docks and prevent her from leaving the island.

    She was going to leave the island, but just where she was going remained unclear. She had no idea where this Queen Heskaya might be or if she had even left Parna herself, but Shaya figured that if she were a fugitive (and she now was) she would want to get as far away as possible. So wherever she was going, Shaya needed a vessel. But that was another problem: it was just after midnight, and everyone was asleep. Where would she find a boat for rent? She didn’t want to steal a boat if she could help it.

    As she plodded on, her thighs burned and chafed against her clothes. She had switched back to overalls, ripped belly and all, for the sake of utility, but even so it had been a long walk into the city, and she was exhausted. She was used to the muscular work of life at sea, not the endurance test of walking a distance. She’d gotten here, to be sure; nothing was going to keep her from finding the queen. But this damned belly was getting bigger lately, bursting out of several years of almost no growth, and it felt like she was carrying around a second bag in addition to the one with gear and food slung over her back. She reached down unthinking and touched the soft flesh that pushed through her overalls, caressed the slight ridge of a stretch mark, and felt a burst of energy and arousal. This belly might be a burden now, but one day it would be even bigger, a sign of luxurious indulgence and a mark of success. Which was why she had to find this queen.

    Shaya flinched at a noise to her left, but when nothing happened she approached the edge of the dock and realized she was among fishing boats, dozens, maybe hundreds clustered in the same area--and this one doubled as its owner’s bed. She peered for a moment at a small, thin man curled up in his boat, snoring softly and sleeping soundly in the open air. Her eyes wandered the length of the boats, and she spotted someone sitting on the far end of the dock, legs dangling over the water. Shaya approached steadily, and the figured turned as she approached: a girl, a few years younger than she was, eating something. The smell hit Shaya’s nose, and she knew it instantly: the warm, spiced scent of a braided pastry called cinnamon twists. She had some even now in her pack, given to her from Nús’ kitchens before she escaped.

    “You’re up late,” said Shaya.

    “You’re one to talk.” The girl was short and thin, and, it seemed, hungry: she was devouring the twists, and her belly was a little distended from overeating. Shaya recalled something she’d said to Nús earlier that day: “You could trace all of the queen’s wanderings just by following the trail of fattened bodies behind her.” This wasn’t exactly a fattened body, but...

    “Are you going to sit down?” the girl asked. “I have some of these left. We could share.”

    “I wish I could. But I’m looking for someone. You might have seen them. A man and a woman, a king and a queen, really, except the queen is fat. Enormous.”

    Even in the dark, Shaya could see the girl’s eyes widen as she talked. “You know them, too? I would’ve sworn I dreamed it if they hadn’t given me these twists. That’s all that was left after they sailed off. Of course, I gave them my boat, and now it’s gone. That’s enough proof that they were real.”

    “They took your boat?”

    “They paid for it, of course. Twice what I can make in a month, I can’t believe it. The king found me, woke me up, said his wife had thought I was the one to talk to. We worked out the deal, and I broke bread with them before they left. But they could have had the boat for free, that meal was gift enough. I’ve never met such a remarkable woman.” She wasn’t even looking at Shaya, just staring out over the water.

    Shaya kneeled down, though she regretted it as her knees twinged a little under the pressure. “That’s good. That’s very good. Did they say where they were going?”

    The girl frowned in thought. “No, not really. They seemed worried. Only said they needed to get away from everyone else until they figured out what to do next.”

    Shaya’s eyes flicked back and forth instinctively as her mind worked. That meant they could be literally anywhere, but she did know about a tiny, rocky island south of Parna. It was uninhabited now, too rocky and inhospitable for settlement or agriculture, but according to the stories she and her friends would tell as kids, decades back, when there were still pirates in the Bight, it was known as a hideout or waypoint for profiteers passing through. It was nothing but a gut feeling, but Shaya valued her gut, and she would listen to it.

    “I just need one more thing: where can I find a boat? I don’t want to buy it, just rent it for a day. Or three. No more than that. Probably…”

    “That depends.” The girl swung her legs back onto the deck and stood up. “Can you pay?”
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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  14. Mar 22, 2019 #14

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 5 cont'd

    And so, after Shaya handed over enough money to cover three days’ earnings, the girl woke up her cousin a few boats over, and Shaya was under way. She felt the relief course over her as she sailed out into the sea and the cool air covered her. Even if Nús went looking for her, she was out of his grasp for now. The moon was mostly shrouded in clouds tonight, so Shaya had to proceed slowly, never straying too far from the coast. At least she knew where she was going. And if she was moving slowly, a boat encumbered by a massive queen had to be moving even slower. She would catch up.

    Once Pashibandra was out of sight, she finally sat down. Her legs were still killing her, but at least she didn’t have to walk for a while. And that gave her time to re-run the events of the night in her head. She regretted bashing in that servant’s nose, of course, but that was as much his fault as hers. She was just trying to walk out the door, and if he hadn’t tried to stop her, they wouldn’t have gotten into that tussle, and she wouldn’t have accidently laid her elbow into his face and knocked him out. Oh well. Couldn’t be helped.

    Shaya reached down into her back and pulled out some bread and olive-studded butter Nús house had given her when she arrived. That was before they knew she was going to leave, and the kitchen was happy to accommodate her request for a ridiculous amount of food. How could they have known she wasn’t just a hungry girl with a hearty appetite? Which she was, of course. They just didn’t know she was going to take most of it with her in her sack. Lacking a knife, she simply dipped two fingers into the jar of butter and smeared it over a hunk of bread, licking the fingers clean before popping the bread in her mouth, and following that with a pickled fish that she unwrapped with another hand. It was a little too much food at once, and it took her an extra beat to chew and swallow, but all those flavors in her mouth at once, the feeling of a mouth more than full, the satisfaction of swallowing it all--her heart beat faster amidst all of it. Even before she’d dreamed of a luxurious future, Shaya had simply loved food. Always.

    She devoured the bread, cleaned out the butter, emptied the package of fish, and spent the rest of the trip sleepily digesting. But soon enough, as the sky lightened before sunrise, she approached that big rock of a little island. There was only one spot where she could beach her boat, a narrow sand landing that quickly led up the steep cliffs into the rugged terrain of the island. Shaya climbed ashore and worked her way up the beach, and behind a clump of bushes and trees she spotted another fishing boat identical to hers, invisible from the water but impossible to mistake. Her heart beat faster. She was right. The Queen was here. Shaya could no longer feel the fire in her thighs or the strain her back. Her eyes glowed, and she trudged forward like her body was suddenly weightless, working up and through the tangle of rocks and trees that covered the island. There was only one path and no way of finding footing on the jagged surfaces to either side. There was nowhere to go but forward.

    A man’s voice rang out ahead: “Shit!”

    Shaya froze and then crept forward, unable to resist the pull of discovery. The path dipped suddenly and then rose again, forming a hill that she could climb up behind and poke her head over. From there, she looked down and saw that the path ended in a small clearing that contained a man. He swore again under his breath and looked down at his bicep, which was scraped and bleeding. From a rock? A tree? Shaya didn’t know, but she was mesmerized by the man. He had tan skin, dark but lighter than hers, with a square jaw covered in a beard just a little too long to be short. Weary but sharp brown eyes looked out over a strong nose, and his hair, mostly gray, was pulled into a tight bun at the base of his skull. She reached back unthinking and touched her own bun, which it was higher and curlier. This man--the king? the king!--he was handsome, but old. Not old, rather middle-aged, but he looked very tired. He tore a strip off his pants to bind his arm and stepped behind some trees into--a rock wall? Shaya’s eyes bugged out until moments later he re-emerged and disappeared down another path, away from her. What she thought was a cliff face must have been a small cave, well disguised by trees.

    Shaya held herself back as long as she could bear, removing a packet of cinnamon twists with trembling hands, and when she was confident the man (the king?) had left she shuffled down the path and into the cave. It was dark at first, but there was light at the far end and the sound of running water. There was a woman’s voice, humming and singing, but Shaya could only make out a few words, in what sounded like a strange Grasslander dialect. Abruptly it stopped.

    “Sadesh?” The voice was clear and bright, almost a young woman’s. “Where have you...do I smell cinnamon twists?”

    Shaya rounded a bend and emerged blinking into sunlight. She was in a grotto under sun and sky, and beneath a gentle waterfall at the back wall sat the most remarkable person Shaya had ever seen. She couldn’t take in the queen’s body all at once: there was just too much of it. She must was at least three of Shaya, maybe even four, and Shaya herself weighed around 16 talents.* She sat on two gargantuan, barrel-like thighs, rippling with adiposity and bulging with their rolls, which overwhelmed her knees and tapered to massive, vaguely shapely calves and bulging, overblown loaves of feet. Those thighs were so huge they pushed her legs askance--and it wasn’t helped by the queen’s tremendous belly, a thick, wide, heavy, deep, sprawling landscape of corpulence that overflowed her lap and spread her legs even farther apart. Her upper abdomen was puffed out and bloated, making a little shelf for the queen’s somehow still modest breasts, and the rest of her upper body was a study in excess: overinflated, pillowy arms covering slabs of armpit fat, all surrounding the plushest chest, which served as a base for a ziggurat of neck rolls and chins. It all led to her face, still beautiful but drowning in her cheeks and chins: her chin and cheekbones were like tiny islands poking above a sea of fat. She had red-brown eyes and olive skin, and her long brown hair was pulled into a twist as she showered, showcasing how every inch of face and neck fat folded and bulged as she moved her head. Every motion sent quakes through her fat, jiggles and rebound jiggled that rocked her flesh endlessly.
     
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  15. Mar 22, 2019 #15

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 5 cont'd

    The Queen froze. “Who are you?” she asked. Her language did indeed seem to be a Grasslander dialect, not one Shaya had heard before but intelligible nonetheless.

    But Shaya couldn’t speak. Her heart was pounding out of control, and she felt like her legs would give at any moment. All she could do was stare back at the Queen’s worried face.

    “I can’t believe you found me like this.” Shaya could see the dismay in the Queen’s eyes, but she realized Heskaya was far too large to get up on her own. She spotted the Queen’s clothes off the the side and moved toward them, offering to return them to her, but Heskaya threw up a hand, her arms jiggling violently. “No! Stay where you are. Tell me first: where did you get those cinnamon twists?”

    “I…” Shaya croaked. “I brought them for you. I asked them what your favorite foods were, and they thought I just wanted to try them, but...they’re for you. And so’s this.” She put her bag down and pulled out a clay jug. “Katnassur, they said?”

    The Queen shook her head, chins rippling into chins. “You asked who?”

    “Nús’ kitchen staff.”

    Heskaya’s red eyes went wide. “Nús sent--?”

    “No!” Shaya interrupted, “he doesn’t know I’m here. I came of my own will. You asked who I am: I’m Sholo na Shanshaya, daughter of Sholo na Uchér. I am a sailor and a rising merchant and one day I’m going to grow fat and lead a luxurious life. That’s why I needed to talk to you. The Bight doesn’t know that life, doesn’t appreciate it. I needed counsel and inspiration from someone who embodied it, and who better than you?”

    Heskaya sighed and looked down. “Come here. Help me up.” Shaya walked over and took the Queen’s fat hands, and up close she seemed older--not old, and not even middle-aged, but weary with the weight of years nonetheless. Her eyes had dark circles, her skin was patterned with bruises and blemishes and stretch marks, and at the moment, at least, she smelled awfully of sweat and exertion. Shaya could hear Heskaya’s breath become labored before she even moved, and it was two, three, four tries until the Queen had the momentum to stand. Even then it took everything even Shaya’s muscular arms could give to pull Heskaya to her feet, and she worried she had pulled something in her own back.

    It was amazing that Heskaya could still walk at this size. Shaya saw how the Queen’s deep, wide, low-hanging belly pulled her spine forward and wobbled impressively with every step. In spite of herself, she glimpsed the Queen’s ass, two enormous globes that trembled as she walked, once shapely, perhaps, but now fighting each other for space to grow. Her whole body was like that, really: she was so fat that she was running out of places to put it. All this was lost to view for a moment as she pulled a long, white tunic of a dress over her body, but the garment was far too small: it clung to every bulge and roll. Finally she turned with tiny steps and sat again on a flat rock, clutching her huge belly and panting endlessly through pursed lips.

    “You don’t…” she finally managed, “want to live...my life.”

    “What are you talking about,” Shaya said, but it was halfhearted. She was struggling to square her expectations of this woman--and her obvious beauty--with her grotesque form, and with her suffering.

    Heskaya shook her head and squinted. “What do you know of my life?”

    “I know that you are the most beautiful woman in the world,” Shaya answered, “and that your King saved you from captivity. That your love was too great for any kingdom to handle, that you’ve wandered ever since, growing fatter and bringing joy to those you meet.”

    “That’s more than I expected. Sadesh would be so sorry to hear you knew even that much, but he knows as well as we all do that it’s impossible to remain hidden. Not for much longer. Still, though, you’ve missed a few important parts of that story.”

    “So tell me,” said Shaya, standing taller.

    Heskaya held out a hand, her arm wobbling again. “Give me those cinnamon twists.” Shaya sat beside her and handed her the package, from which she took the bulk while returning a couple twists for Shaya. She uncorked the katnassur, too, a rich and savory drink, not too heavy and a little sweet. It was the most delicious thing Shaya had ever tasted, and it was everything she could do not to chug half the jug at once.

    “You’re right,” said Heskaya as she ate, “that Sadesh rescued me from captivity. I was the Crown Princess of Geta, the greatest kingdom in the world, but I lived my life in isolation: my parents could not handle that I would fatten up any woman who spent time with me. From ladies to servants, it didn’t matter, and that was a problem, for in Geta fat bodies were reserved for the high born. But Sadesh, he found me and courted me and spirited me to his kingdom in Lajjar, and we ruled there for a brief and glorious time. Too brief: half the kingdom rebelled against me, and somehow my parents discovered where I was, too, and sent an army to rescue me. Sadesh and I left and Lajjar imploded, and we’ve lived on the road ever since.”

    She paused for a moment, working an entire cinnamon twist into her mouth and washing it down with a cascade of katnassur. Shaya could see how the Queen glowed as she ate.

    “It was amazing at first. We were devastated, of course, to leave behind our kingdom, all of our work, but we had each other and could explore the world. And it all worked thanks to my Queen’s Guard, elite soldiers who left home with me and remained loyal. When we fled Lajjar, we took all the riches we could carry and divvied them up among the Guard and sent them out all across the land, to protect our wealth and serve as a contact and a home when we needed it. Nús, you know, is one of them.”

    “Nús?” In fact it explained a lot.

    “Yes. They were all like Nús, taking on new identities, safeguarding our wealth, sometimes investing it in new ventures to give us an income, prevent us from running out of money. Nús looked enough like a Grasslander to come here to the Bight and become a merchant.”

    “But Nús is the last of his kind now,” came another voice, and Shaya turned to see Sadesh, returned with three fish on a wooden spear. “My Queen,” he said, “why didn’t you cry out to me when an intruder found you?”

    “The same reason,” said Heskaya, “that you are so calm right now. You can see Shanshaya means us no harm.”

    “I can,” he sighed, “but that won’t always be true when strangers seek us out.”

    “What did you mean,” said Shaya, “about Nús being the last of his kind?”

    “Well,” he said, “some of the Guard died in service to us, I’m sorry to say. Some just ran out of money, and some actually stole from us. The thieves knew we depended on them totally, and greed and temptation got the best of them. Nús is the only one who both remained loyal and has had enough income to sustain us. But we can’t afford to stay in one place for too long, and even Nús doesn’t make the money he used to. Trade is his second career, and lately he’s been outmatched by more experienced merchants.”

    Heskaya drained the jug of katnassur, and she was panting when she pulled it away, her eyes wide and fixed on the fish. “We have nowhere else to go. I can barely move anymore. We go days, weeks without enough food, and it starves me, and even when I gorge myself I’m never satisfied.” She was almost frenzied. “I don’t know how we can go on like this. And on top of it all, I am with child.
     
  16. Mar 22, 2019 #16

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Sadesh let out an abrupt noise, a belated entreaty to his wife not to go on, and then he just exhaled and ran his hands through his hair, gripping it tightly and pulling some out of the bun. Heskaya was crying thin, silent rivulets that trickled into her chins, and Shaya’s head was swimming.

    “I am almost 36 years old,” Heskaya whispered, “and I am with child.” She glanced over at Shaya, wiping her tears away with chubby fingers. “So I don’t know what I can offer you. My life, possibly even my child’s life, is nearly at an end.”

    “My Queen, you must not speak this way,” Sadesh insisted, but there was an edge to his voice. “We will find a new path.”

    “Shut up,” Heskaya snapped at Sadesh. “I am weary of your delusional bullying. Stop pretending, Sadesh. Stop forcing to be hopeful and driving me on to the next destination. This is it. You have to face reality. I told you I didn’t want to run away from Nús, but you insisted.”

    “We can’t burden him,” Sadesh shot back. “He’s already done too much for us. They all did. We have to figure this out ourselves, and there is a way.” The King shook his head, pulling himself out of the bickering and turning to Shaya. “My wife is right about this much: she has nothing to offer you. We have to focus on ourselves, on...our family. And you need to go back to yours and let us move on with our lives.”

    “I’m so sorry,” Heskaya managed, her tears overrunning her again. Shaya looked from the undone Queen to the overburdened King and felt...nothing. She was nonplussed to the point of numbness. She thought of her desire to grow fat and wealthy, but now it turned her stomach, and she shrunk away from her revulsion. She had been so intoxicated with this dream, she thought, that she had taken for granted all the people in her life who loved her. She hadn’t loved them back as she should have. She had to shake this obsession with carnal pleasures and come back down to earth.

    Or...was she being too hard on herself? What did this Queen have to do with her life? Maybe she was a distraction, a distorted, false image of the future. Shaya didn’t have to be this fat or this miserable.

    And, yet, here she was disparaging this woman, this beautiful, amazing woman who had suffered so unjustly. Shaya’s life was full of promise, and hers was at the edge of an abyss.

    Shaya just clutched her head. She didn’t know what to think.

    “Shanshaya,” Sadesh said. “You need to leave.”

    “I can take her.” It was another voice. “I’ll take you all.”

    Everyone turned: it was Nús. Heskaya sighed in relief, and Sadesh gripped his fists and groaned: “Nús, I wish you hadn’t come…”

    “I wish you hadn’t left,” Nús protested.

    “We couldn’t stay,” said Sadesh.

    “How could we leave!” gasped Heskaya.

    “Hang on.” Shaya stood up. Her body felt round and heavy, but strong and capable at the same time. “King Sadesh is right. There is a way around this. I have an idea.”
     
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  17. Mar 22, 2019 #17

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 6

    A note: This, the final chapter of
    Shaya, contains explicit sex.

    ~

    Gray, damp days like this were rare in the Bight in late summer, but the afternoon was full of a slow drizzle that came and went, short of a full downpour but rain nonetheless. It was just enough to keep people inside, endlessly and incrementally deferring their plans to go to market, and that meant Bahín sat alone, perched on the high seat next to her fruit stand, kept dry by a wide, tall umbrella pitched in the ground beside the stand. She tucked her booted feet under the seat and plucked a candied slice of mango from her stand and popped it into her mouth. She shouldn’t be consuming her own supply, but it was a bad habit she’d picked up from Puru, and she was especially vulnerable to it when she was this bored. She’d picked up a lot of bad habits from Puru, and Shaya, which had contributed to the plumping of her body over the last few years. Instinctively she spread her legs a little wider apart and let her round little belly fall between them. Giving her belly space to unbunch was a relief. She couldn’t deny that it was freeing to eat and drink as liberally as Shaya did, but she wasn’t comfortable with starting to look like a middle-aged merchant’s wife, either.

    Speak of the devil: there was Shaya now, locked fat arm in fat arm with their friend Enda, strolling up to Bahín’s stand under a shared umbrella. If Bahín could believe it, Shaya looked somewhat rounder than the last time she’d seen her. Her arms bulged out just a bit more; her cheeks and chin seemed lined with a bit more fat. She’d clearly been eating well. Everyone embraced, their boots slopping in the mud.

    Bahín leaned in. “So,” she said. “Did you find the witch?”

    Shaya laughed. “If there’s a witch out there, I didn’t see her.”

    “Fine,” Bahín sighed, “the queen. Was she out there somewhere?”

    Shaya shrugged, “I mean it! Queen, witch, whatever you want to say: it was a dead end. Rumors, nothing more.”

    “I just returned from a trip,” Enda insisted, “and ever since I bumped into Shaya at the docks I’ve been pestering her about this, all the way over here. Same story.”

    Bahín poked Shaya in the belly, which jiggled a little more than usual. “How long have you been back?”

    “Not long. There may not have been a witch-queen on Parna, but I did stay long enough to find some business there for Papa. To make the trip worthwhile.”

    “I’m so glad you’re back.” Bahín grinned, her teeth shining between flabby, round little cheeks, and she hugged Shaya.

    “All right,” said Enda, “I’m exhausted; it’s time for me to go home. See you soon, sisters.”

    After Enda left Shaya kept looking at Bahín, a half-smirk on her face, until Bahín couldn’t stand it anymore. “What? What is it?”

    “I did find her.” It was almost a whisper, breathed through a broad smile.

    “Find who?”

    “The queen.”

    “No. You didn’t.”

    “I did!”

    “She doesn’t exist.”

    “She does!!”

    Bahín leaned forward on her stool, her belly bunching again, her pulse accelerating. “You found her? The queen from the North?”

    “I didn’t want to tell Enda because I shouldn’t tell anybody, but I have to tell somebody, and you’re my closest friend. The rumors were true: she is a queen, or was, and she and her king have been wandering for years because, well, where can they find a home? But they’re in trouble: her soldiers were looking out for her all this time, guarding her wealth and keeping her safe, but now there’s just one soldier left and the money’s running out and they have nowhere to go.”

    Bahín was stunned, so Shaya went on.

    “So, I made them a deal: I’m helping them get out of the Bight. Her last soldier, he’s a merchant, too, but he doesn’t have connections outside the Bight. My father, he does, all the way to the Archipelago. So I came back and told my father I’d found some business on Parna, that I’d agreed to relay a shipment for a Parnite merchant to the Archipleago.”

    “Wh--” Bahín stuttered, “what did he say?”

    “He’s happy for the business! And he doesn’t know anything about the queen. We’ll send them to our waypoint on Deik Batta and then on to the open sea, all the way to the Archipelago. I’ll go at least as far as the first leg, maybe all the way across the sea. I’ve never been to the Archipelago…”

    Bahín put a hand on Shaya’s meaty arm. “What was she like?”

    “What?”

    “The queen: what was she like?”

    “Oh.” Shaya blinked herself into focus. “She was...unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. She was enormous, and absolutely beautiful. Have you ever seen anyone with red eyes?” Bahín shook her head. “It was unbelievable.”

    Bahín left her hand on Shaya’s arm. “But there was something else, wasn’t there? I can tell.”

    Shaya hesitated, but Bahín knew she couldn’t keep a secret from her. “She was also…” Shaya began, “...well, she was in pain. She was so large, you know, and they have to live in these horrible circumstances….”

    Bahín understood. She squeezed Shaya’s arm to reassure her, her fingers sinking into fat. “It was like a vision of the future for you. A horrible one.”

    “No!” Shaya protested unconvincingly. “And imagine her in a comfortable place, or on her throne again: she would be nothing but glorious. I can help them, I can take away her pain--”

    “Hang on: why the Archipelago? They don’t have enough room and food for their own people there--that’s why so many Archipelagans have come to the Bight in the first place. How are they going to house and feed this enormous queen?”

    “They’ll make it work,” she said. “She has an effect on people. And she has nowhere else to go.”

    “Shaya, you haven’t thought this through, and you’re taking personal responsibility for it. What if it goes wrong? What is this soldier of theirs going to do to you if you lead them down the wrong path?”

    “I won’t.” Shaya pulled her arm back, subtly but noticeably. “It’s too late to turn it back, anyway. They’re arriving tonight, and we’re leaving right away. And I want you to come see her. You’ll be able to get a glimpse. You need to understand why I’m doing this, and if you get even a glimpse of the queen, you’ll see.”

    Bahín extended both hands now, grasping Shaya’s lush love handles. “How long will you be gone?”

    “Long enough to take the trip.” She rested a hand on Bahín’s forearm. “It’s not like I’m leaving forever! I’ll be able to rest easy once I do this.”

    Bahín stood up and hugged her taller friend close, letting her chubby cheeks sink into Shaya’s belly before releasing her.

    Shaya pulled her into another embrace and then let her go. “I’ll see you at midnight. Just do not tell anyone.”

    Bahín pinched her mouth shut. “My lips are sealed.”
     
  18. Mar 22, 2019 #18

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Ch. 6 cont'd

    * * *

    Bahín wailed in pleasure as Totonu’s dick rammed into her over and over, faster and faster.

    “Shhh, not too loud, Hínu!” the Archipelagan whispered urgently. “What will we do if someone hears us?”

    For a split second the notion of someone listening, watching chilled Bahín, but the fear was pounded out of her with every thrust. She smiled vaguely at Totonu, and he stifled a laugh as he fucked her in the alley beside her home. Bahín lived with her family and shared a room with cousins, so there was no privacy inside for a meeting like this--a meeting most women, even in the liberalizing Bight, still wouldn’t risk. But here they were, the tall, strong Archipelagan fully inside her, setting her entire pudgy body to shaking and jiggling as she writhed and squirmed, struggling against being totally overwhelmed by the pleasure. Perched on a crate in the alley, her dress was hiked and Totonu’s gripped her round buttocks more and more tightly as they went. Try as she might she couldn’t shift into a more comfortable position as they fucked, Totonu just a little too strong to resist, her body (which for some reason Totonu loved) just a little too fat to manage. She certainly didn’t have any words in this moment to tell him anything.

    When they were done, he pulled up his pants and looked around while he caught his breath. “I can’t believe we didn’t wake your family.”

    “I told you, they’re deep sleepers.” She slipped off the crate.

    “Well….” He bent down and kissed her, holding her wide, round face in his hands. “Good night, Hínu.”

    “Not yet. I have to show you something. The queen.”

    He cocked an eyebrow.

    “The fat queen, from the north! Shaya swore me to secrecy but I had to tell you, I had to tell someone, and you’re the one who helped us find her in the first place. She’s passing through tonight, I can show you.”

    “Shaya found her?” He shook his head. “You’re goatshitting me. You would betray the confidence of your lifelong friend to tell a man you’ve just been fucking for a couple weeks?”

    Bahín felt guilt swell in her chest, but she suppressed it. “It’s like I said: we owe you.” She was impulsive; she could tell herself these flimsy stories and move ahead.

    “I don’t believe it.”

    “Then I’ll prove it. Come with me.”

    They made their way to the docks, which in Dhahál had some business even at night--long-distance shipments trying to make up for weather delays, rush orders for wealthy customers. Rather than descend directly to the sea, they settled into the spot Shaya had told Bahín about, an elevated platform set back from the shore, piled with sacks and crates that obscured them and gave them a perfect view. Totonu sighed as he settled in, and Bahín took out a pouch of dried mango for them to snack on. She couldn’t stop eating the stuff.

    Looking down, Bahín saw Shaya’s ship--her father’s really--ready to sail. A small crew swarmed the deck, giving everything a last-minute check. Bahín wondered if one of the sailors was Tantsam, the Archipelagan who seemed to have some fondness for Shaya, but she couldn’t tell in the dark. And then she spotted Shaya herself. She wanted to cry out, to run down to her friend and embrace her, but she stayed put and stuffed her face with mango to stifle the impulse. Shaya had insisted that Bahín remain hidden. Those were the terms of the deal. So she watched Shaya work, her too-small overalls discarded for pants and a tight, white, armless shirt. Shaya’s muscles were invisible beneath the fat, but they were in evidence: only a strong woman could stride the decks, move rope, climb the mast, do whatever needed doing as they prepared.

    Bahín flinched: there was a rustle to their right, and they both snapped their heads to catch the source of the noise. They waited: no more sounds, no movement. Nothing. They shrugged, and looked back down to the ship. Bahín for a moment wondered whether it would be Puru, if Shaya had confided this secret in her, too. Bahín wouldn’t have been surprised: Puru was vastly more trustworthy. But Bahín was the older, closer friend, and apparently that meant enough. She couldn’t help beaming with pride as she waited.

    And then, all at once, there it was: another ship rolling into port out of a light fog, pulling in just beside Shaya’s, so close Bahín was worried they would crash. But they didn’t, and instead, a triple-reinforced plank extended from the new ship to Shaya’s, emerging from a secret door in the hull and reaching to the same in the ship opposite. The ships were so close together that no one could see this if they weren’t sitting just where Totonu and Bahín were. She leaned forward, her breathing shallow, and noticed that even Totonu had stopped fidgeting. Sailors began moving cargo from the new ship, a small parade of bags and sacks and crates across the short plank. Then there was a lull, and then a brown, bearded, middle-aged man (very handsome) strode across, pausing to look back.

    Bahín saw that he held someone’s hand, and then the queen stepped onto the plank. Bahín could barely see, but she was tall and enormous, many times Shaya’s size, clad in a simple white garment that nonetheless clung to every inch of her tremendous bulk. She shuffled sideways across the plank--her feet were pushed apart by the enormousness of her thighs; there was no way she could have simply walked across straight. With each short step her broad, deep, thick, low-hanging belly shook violently, and her arms, round and massive and pocked with cellulite, rotated vigorously on the axis of her arm bones. Even at this distance and in the dark, Bahín could see in her fat-encased face beauty, unreal beauty, but also terror at her precarious crossing above the water. Bahín hoped that if she drew closer, she would see there, too, the thinnest hope. Holding the queen’s other hand was a tall, strong, bald man in simple robes, so tall he stooped as he exited the first ship.

    Bahín leaned over to Totonu and whispered, “He kind of looks like you.” Totonu chuckled.

    “I can’t believe you weren’t lying to me,” he breathed.

    And then suddenly he inhaled and burst forward off the platform and toward the docks. Bahín, panicked, yelled “Shaya!” and then strangled her voice. Was Totonu about to betray her? Even if Totonu he was, she shouldn’t draw any more attention. But she had to warn her friend.
     
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  19. Mar 22, 2019 #19

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Shaya appeared on deck and glanced down to the docks, and then they both noticed another figure, a short, cloaked man rushing from the right toward the ship. Totonu intercepted him, and they went down in a tussle. He hadn’t betrayed her; he’d noticed a threat she was too distracted to catch! She didn’t know what to do herself, but she saw that the queen and her retinue had completed their crossing, and the plank was withdrawing into the first ship. As Shaya set to work preparing to depart, Bahín ran down to Totonu and the cloaked figure. Totonu had him in a headlock, but he suddenly twisted out of it and shoved his fist into Totonu’s jaw. The Archipelagan stumbled back, and the other man turned to chase after the ship, but Bahín arrived just in time to drive her toe into his crotch from behind, sending him sprawling and squealing as Shaya’s ship began to pull out of port. Shaya herself stood at the rail, looking back to Bahín and mouthing “Thank you,” love and fear mixing in her gaze. Bahín simply held her clasped hands over her heart as she tried to catch her breath. She was too chubby for this.

    Totonu had found his balance again. He wiped blood from his mouth, put a knee on the cloaked man’s back, and wrenched his arm back around to the same spot.

    “Who the hell are you?” he hissed.

    Bahín’s heart was fluttering; she paced and looked around, checking to see if anyone had noticed what was going on. “We need to move him,” she said.

    “Who the fuck are you?” Totonu repeated, pulling the man’s arm and eliciting another loud groan.

    “Totonu we need to get him out of here now!” Bahín whispered urgently. Totonu snapped out of his fervor and dragged the incapacitated man away from the docks and up to their platform. A couple people had come out to investigate the noise, but Bahín and Totonu had moved away just in time to avoid detection. The Archipelagan smacked the man across the face, and he moaned but did little to react. Bahín held back Totonu’s arm. “He’s half dead already.” The blow had knocked back his hood, however, revealing a thick, square, close-shaved Grasslander’s head, bruised and bloated and unfocused, and a pendant hanging around his neck.

    “This fucker?” Totonu breathed.

    “Who is he?” He looked familiar but Bahín couldn’t place him.

    “I’ve seen him around Viar Square. He was there the night I told you about the queen.” Totonu shook the man, who slowly rolled his head and moaned. “What are you doing here?” Totonu whispered fiercely. “What did you want with our friend?”

    “You’re friends,” the man mumbled, “...with a princess?”

    Totonu leaned closer. “Who sent you here? And who’s this princess?”

    “Vatarmet…” he mumbled.

    “Stop with the nonsense,” Bahín wheezed, smacking the man across the cheek. “Speak up!”

    “Augh,” groaned the man, too dazed to lie or dissemble. “Vatarmet! For...princess...”

    Totonu froze, pausing and panicking.

    “What are you doing?” Bahín asked, but before she could finish Totonu punched the man clean in the nose, bloodying his face and knocking him out. The gore turned Bahín’s pudgy stomach, and she rocked back on her feet and looked to Totonu, avoiding the man. “Why did you do that?”

    “We have to kill him,” said Totonu, dead serious.

    What? I’m not murdering anyone.”

    “I’ve been thinking about it,” Totonu said with eerie calm. “Where is the queen from? Eka told me that her king stole her from captivity, but where? It has to be Geta. The great kingdom of the North beyond the desert, the eternal foe of the Grasslander clans. This man just called her a princess--she wouldn’t be a queen in Geta, she’d be a princess!”

    Bahín just shook her head, overwhelmed.

    Totonu reached in and pulled out the man’s pendant, which showed a crest: two blue lines curving together but failing to touch, encircled by four characters in a script they did not understand. “Do you see? What could this be but the crest of the royal family of Geta. Do you want to get between Geta and the queen? Why do they have spies this far south? If there’s a Getayin spy in the Bight they must have spies all over the world looking for this queen. They can’t know that we stopped them from finding her. We have to kill him, get rid of the evidence. As far as they’re concerned, he just has to disappear.”

    Now Bahín slapped Totonu, and he looked back indignant. “Shut up with this nonsense,” she breathed, “do you think they’ll like us any better if they find out we killed their spy?”

    Totonu rubbed his eyes and his face. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled, “I’m just going a little crazy. This is all so crazy…”

    “But you’re right,” she said, focusing, “they can’t know that he found the queen, because if they go after the queen they’re going after Shaya. And that is not acceptable.”

    Totonu looked down at the man, bloodied and unconscious, and Bahín looked down, too. “No matter what, we can’t let him go,” Totonu said. “But if he doesn’t report back to Geta, they’re going to know something happened. They’re going to come looking. So what do we do?”

    “I don’t know,” Bahín sighed. She looked back to the dock, but Shaya’s ship was long lost to the fog, as was the ship that had brought the queen. Empty waves lapped in their place. Bahín felt the tide tugging at her heart, pulling her toward Shaya. When would she be back? Even if it were tomorrow, Bahín didn’t know what to do with herself between now and sunrise, what to do with this agent of Geta. She took a sharp breath, sat up, grasped Totonu’s hand tightly. She just hoped that, in all this mess, Shaya would find what she was looking for.

    THE END
     
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  20. Mar 25, 2019 #20

    Mr. Jigglesworth

    Mr. Jigglesworth

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    It says The End, the way it ended seems like there is more to tell.
     

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