Tarbus was used to getting quick results. When he wanted something he got it; when he wanted to dominate a local down or village they fell at his feet and when he wanted answers they spilled from his enemies mouths. He was not used to some stupid prideful warrior woman holding out for days on him.
The young Commander Rhesus may not enjoy torturing people but he had proven himself more than adequate at it in the past. Rhesus was utilizing soldiers and guards who were experts in torture and had few morals. This woman, Zia, should have broken by now. Instead all they had to show for their brutality was the woman's name and some ramblings about Amazon's. He had no interest in a history lesson on the Edessians; he wanted to know about the here and now.
Tarbus had instructed Rhesus to keep the woman awake all through the night in the hope that after two days without sleep the woman would finally break. However it was now the morning of following day and he had heard no updates. So rather than waiting for news he decided to go to the isolation cell and find out what was going on for himself.
As a younger man Tarbus had a taste for torture. In some instances he even enjoyed the process. It was like a game with each player trying to outmaneuver the other. Unlike most games though torture was weighted heavily in one person's favour...usually. As he had grown older the warlord had found the process less satisfying and was more interested in results. Others could do the work; he had plans to make, trade routes to run, towns to conquer and women to pleasure.
The holding cells were dreary places; that was the point. They were meant to make those captured feel helpless and filled with fear. The isolation cell was the one commonly use for torture. It was completely dark unless foreign light was introduced with grey stone walls and a stone floor. It was cold and damp and thoroughly unpleasant. Isolation, alone in that room, was a form of torture in itself.
As Tarbus made his way past the holding cells down the long faintly lit corridor he could hear the faint sounds of someone being beaten from the far end. There was not many shouts or screams of pain though and that was disappointing. When the warlord reached the door he banged three times to get the attention of those inside.
After a few seconds the door opened and Rhesus stepped into the lighter corridor. Tarbus could see the woman inside the room hanging from the rafter by her hands. Even in the very faint light from the torch he could see she was bleeding from her nose and mouth. The woman was also black and blue and very exhausted. Her hair and clothing were dripping wet so they had obviously tried to drown the information out of her too.
“Any news?” he asked the weary looking younger man.
Rhesus looked back into the dark room at the female warrior and shook his head.
“She is still holding out” he admitted.
Tarbus was officially running out of patience with the soft approach he had chosen to take so far. If he couldn't get answers from this woman then he would find another way. There was always another way.
“Then up the intensity” the warlord demanded.
“I don't think she can take it” Rhesus protested; “It will kill her before we ever get any answers.”
Tarbus was now unconcerned with her fate as he had his mind set on another plan. Anything they could draw out of the woman before she expired would be a bonus.
“So be it” the warlord growled.
Rhesus didn't have the opportunity to respond before the older man turned and stormed away down the corridor. Tarbus had arrangements he needed to make and contingency plans to put into action.
Tarbus stormed back into his large dining hall were he held court. The many women living in his home were all still lounging in the room eating fruit after breakfast. They were joined by his closest adviser who was sat enjoying the company of the young attractive women. He was a man who had seen many years and many battles; too long in the tooth now to command soldiers in battle but a very handy and well respected commander and organizer of men.
“Tobias!” the warlord shouted across the room.
The grey haired man clambered to his feet and made his way quickly towards Tarbus. He could obviously tell that the warlord was in a poor mood and didn't want to antagonize him further. Tarbus was in no mood to wait though and began hollering out instructions.
“Send riders to the local towns and villages” he demanded. “I want as many fit men as they can round up to boost the army. Tell them each man and his family will be paid two gold coins if they volunteer.”
Tarbus didn't have to explain what he wanted his army increasing for. Everyone knew his eyes were currently set firmly on Edessa. Not everyone knew why but Tobias like Rhesus was one of the few who understood his true intentions.
“Yes sir” the elderly commander agreed.
Sheva turned away to put the warlords orders into immediate action but Tarbus reached out and grasped his shoulder. The old commander turned his body back towards the warlord.
“Let the armory know they will need to clad at least one hundred more men” Tarbus demanded.
He released the other man and turned away, signalling the end of the conversation. The warlord sat down on one of the plush lounging area's and took a deep breath. The truth was that he was really rather irritated by his current lack of success on the Edessa front. He was not about to let that show though and with a larger army it wouldn't be an issue for long.
Some of the women came to lounge with him but he was too distracted to notice which ones. Or to notice one slip away out of the dining room.
Sheva had been living in Tarbus' palacial home for nearly three months. They had been the three most boring and dire months of her life. Even the good food and wine couldn't improve the experience for her. Her purpose at the palace was different to the other women. They were there to bask in a life of ease and luxury whereas she was there under orders.
When her tribe, the Edessian's, had feared Tarbus was taking an interest in them their leader had decided to place a spy in the warlords camp. Sheva was tall, strong and beautiful; her blonde flowing hair and green eyes made her the ideal candidate. It was a warriors job to follow orders and so she had rather reluctantly agreed. She had kept herself sane by meditating and partaking in yoga. It got her in the right head space to go and flirt and flutter for hours on end.
Sheva crept out of the palace and to the stables. One of the stable hands was also an implanted spy and he was used to pass messages between the warrior and her leader. He was currently mucking out one of the straw beds.
“I need you to take a message to Meda” Sheva instructed him after insuring no one was around. The stable hand, Alexis, placed the pitch fork against the wall and turned to face her.
“Right now?” he asked.
Sheva usually sent him out after dark as there was less chance of him being caught or anyone noticing he was gone. She had never felt the need to send him on an errand in the day prior to this. However, it was imperative that the town have as much warning as possible. Alexis didn't have to return if he was scared of being caught. There would only be one more message to carry after this one...a warning that the army was marching on the town. Sheva herself would return to the village carrying that news.
“Yes” Sheva clarified. “Tell her Tarbus is rounding up volunteers to increase his army.”
The young man's face fell at the news. He nodded solomnly and glanced around the stable yard. The other stable hands were either out exercising horses or taking a break. Now was as ideal a time as any for him to saddle up a horse and go.