CHAPTER I: CARI INTO THE UNDERWORLD
Few now live who remember these tales so pen must be set to page...
The Isle of the Moon lay off of the Yucata Peninsula along the western edge of the Sea of Antilia. Though smaller than many of the great islands within or that bordered the Sea of Antilia the Isle of the Moon was a large island that was some ten leagues from north to south and better than three leagues from east to west at its widest. A particularly flat island of limestone that was covered in thick jungle where not cleared by the hands of man the Isle of the Moon's only mountains where those made by the same hands that had cleared regions of the isle.
Those artificial mountains rose in the form of stepped pyramids of earth and stone that were at the center of every city upon the isle. The Isle of the Moon held a half dozen cities that ranged in size from a few thousand to more than ten thousand and each had at least one pyramid temple at its center. Built of the native limestone and finished with plaster and thatching the cities of the isle were both centers of religious pilgrimage and of commerce for the Isle of the Moon was the western terminus of the sea trade route between Antilia far to the east and lands that lay even further west than the isle itself.
From across the Sea of Antilia and from beyond vessels came to trade in the port cities of the Isle of the Moon and from across the Yucata Peninsula caravans brought gold and silver and precious stones and more that passed through the isle's ports to the world beyond. A fabulously wealthy place the Isle of the Moon was ruled by priest kings of each city who it was said were ruled themselves by a mysterious goddess who lived in the underworld beneath the isle itself. Peopled by an admixture of native Maya, Antilians and more recently arrived Westgarders and Norse and ruled by a nobility who were clearly of mixed otherfolk and human blood the isle was the sort of place where not even the half otherfolk Princess of the Triple Realm stood out.
Not even clad only in a wispy tunic of the thinnest white silk and a golden choker to hide her enchanted silver slave collar did Carine Arians daughter stand out in the streets of the City of the Moon Goddess that sprawled near the isle's very center. Which was truly remarkable for Cari who was the daughter of an otherfolk mother and Canute V of the Triple Realm was a gorgeous goddess of a girl who stood only two inches short of six feet with golden tresses that fell in waves to her bottom and hauntingly lovely dark lash framed green eyes that were the center of a divinely beautiful face. Her silken skin had been turned golden brown by the tropical sun so her slenderly youthful yet shapely body of long slender legs, slender shapely hips and buttocks, tiny waist and just barely full and very firm pink nippled breasts was deliciously brown where once it had been lustrously pale but was no less exquisite.
More than a couple summers short of twenty in the Christian Year 1221 Cari had the sort of beauty all men wish to possessed and all women dreamed of having. She was the sort of girl used to being noticed for her beauty and height and regal baring and royal status and yet in the limestone paved streets of the late spring tropical sun drenched limestone and plaster, thatch roofed building crowded City of the Moon Goddess the princess was just another part otherfolk woman. Which was both refreshing and disturbing for the haughty and willful yet wise beyond her years and iron willed Princess of the Triple Realm who was keen enough of mind to know that going unnoticed suited her purpose well.
Cari's purpose for being upon the Isle of the Moon and in the City of the Moon Goddess at the near center of that isle was to find the otherfolk sorceress Devia of the Isle of the Moon. The golden haired princess who was a half otherfolk sorceress herself had come to the isle to find Devia who was the daughter of Mengia who had once enslaved her before the wizard Fym and Gadifriald Lokkasson had freed her and who had on her own bested Cari in a magical duel and left her to be raped in a rebellion she had caused on the island of Jamaka. Her quest for vengeance and also her lover Gadi's search for Devia to discover the fate of his father had been delayed by misadventure and slavery and a rescue mission upon the Isle of the Otherfolk but a couple of weeks before she had arrived upon the Isle of the Moon aboard the great knorr Odin's Wind to continue the search for Devia.
Also a couple of weeks before Cari in a fit of otherfolk fickleness and princess haughtier had along with Rosallia Sertorious snuck off to find Devia on her own. She had done that to prove to Gadifriald Lokkasson that she did not need him to constantly rescue her and could achieve great feats all on her own. Rosa who had evolved from a hated yet respected rival for Gadi into a loved and hated friend and lover for the princess had come along with her for similar reasons and the two young women had searched the Isle of the Moon together for Devia.
Devia who was a member of the isle's part otherfolk ruling class had not been hard to find word of and that word had led Cari and Rosa to the City of the Moon Goddess. In that city word of she they sought had led to the very center of the city where flanked on three sides by towering plastered stone and earth stepped pyramids stood the Gateway to the Realm of the Moon Goddess. Which the Gateway to the Moon Goddess' Realm was a pool of water at the bottom of a naturally worn vertical shaft in the limestone of the Isle of the Moon at the center of the city that took its name from she who dwelt beneath that pool.
To reach that pool however one had to make their way down stairs said to be carved into the living stone walls of the shaft and to reach those stairs one had to pass through a gateway in the high limestone wall that surrounded the top of the shaft. That wall cut off the Gateway from the rest of the City of the Moon Goddess and to make their way through that wall's single gate one had to face the Gatekeeper of the Moon Goddess who controlled entrance into her realm.
Cari and Rosa had learned all of this by talking with locals and travelers in the City of the Moon Goddess and had also learned how the Gatekeeper must be faced. The mighty warrior who guarded the Gateway to the Moon Goddess' Realm could be appeased with offerings or defeated in battle to gain access to the Moon Goddess' Realm. Learning this the girls had decided to approach the Gatekeeper separately one day after the other with the Princess of the Triple Realm going first.
Cari meant to appease the Gatekeeper with the offering of the one thing no man could resist. So upon that sun soaked mid morning of a hot late Spring Isle of the Moon day Carine Arians daughter padded barefoot into the limestone Courtyard of the Gateway upon the pyramidless south side of the walled shaft to the Moon Goddess' Realm to give herself to the Gatekeeper. The offering of her body to he who controlled access into the underworld was an offering the princess was sure the Gatekeeper could not resist and she fully intended to gain passage into the Moon Goddess' realm by pleasuring the Gatekeeper any way he did ask or demand or command.
With head held high and the morning sea breezes blowing her free flowing golden tresses the half otherfolk girl made her way into and across the otherwise empty Courtyard of the Gateway at a slow sultry pace. The wind that blew her hair molded her transparent white tunic to her luscious form and the sun caressed her golden browned skin most deliciously in a way that made Cari feel most sensuously alive. She had inherited her mother's wild otherfolk sensuality and carnal nature along with great beauty, long life and an affinity for magic and padding across the limestone courtyard the wildly aroused girl felt her heart pounding, her pulse racing and her belly quivering with expectation of what was to come.
The idea of submitting herself to the Gatekeeper's lusts to gain entrance to the Moon Goddess' Realm was both deliciously delightful and exquisitely shameful to the princess. Her otherfolk half loved the idea and the human half of her hated it and Cari was determined to go through with it for nothing would keep her from following Devia wherever the sorceress did go.
However when across the sun filled courtyard she traversed the princess' eyes first fell upon the Gatekeeper as he stood before the single bronze gate through the Gateway wall she nearly changed her mind. The Gatekeeper was a tall and imposingly built man with long black hair and a ruggedly handsome black bearded face whose one eye was a piercing blue and the other was replaced by a golden eyepatch cast to look like an eye with a blue sapphire at its center. There was something disturbingly familiar about the Gatekeeper Cari could not quite put a finger on. Beyond that he was terribly intimidating clad in a tunic of jade scales with a bronze shield upon one arm and a long bronze hilted sword upon the belt around his waist.
Gazing upon the towering and intimidating warrior who was the Gatekeeper Cari nearly turned back. When his one eyed piercing gaze did fall with interest upon the golden haired goddess of a girl she came to a halt perhaps a dozen paces from him with her heart thundering to burst. Yet taking long deep breaths to steel herself the princess met the Gatekeeper's gaze with a sultry gaze of her own and resumed her sultry advance with an act of her iron will.
"Who comes before the Gatekeeper?" called out the deep and booming voice of the towering warrior who was the Gatekeeper of the Moon Goddess in Antilian Latin as the shivering young sorceress approached him.
"My name is my own," Carine Arians daughter replied in her regal young voice she was most glad did not quaver as she added in the Antilian Latin she had only recently learned, "But I come before the Gatekeeper to seek entrance into the Realm of the Moon Goddess!"
"And how will you gain entrance into the Realm of the Moon Goddess?" demanded the Gatekeeper with his one eye focused upon her glinting with desire.
"By offering myself to the Gatekeeper!" was Cari's sultry reply to that question as she at last came to stand before the Gatekeeper.
Then the smoldering eyed princess reached down with arms crossed before her to grasp the hem of her tunic with both soft long-fingernailed hands. With the grace of a pleasure slave she had been twice over Cari drew her wispy tunic up over her body and off over her golden tressed head as at the same time she went to her knees before the Gatekeeper. Ending upon her knees with her face pressed to the flagstones with her partially tunic covered arms stretched out toward the Gatekeeper's feet the naked Princess of the Triple Realm supplicated herself before him awaiting his acceptance of her offering that was she herself.