He ran into several other scantily clad attendants but each one in turn fell to
their knees in supplication to his presence as if he were the Creator Himself, and
he could get no information out of any of them. So he tried the next best
thing and started to open tapestry covered doors. He found three empty crew
quarters, a half-undressed Church official beating himself on his back for something
or other, and what he assumed to be Niliacus' spartan quarters with its constantly
updated holo-displays and reports.
He was about to just march up to the command center and give his order directly
to the command crew but decided to try one more door before by-passing Cebrenia's
authority and pissing her off even more.
He opened the door before
him and this time he saw far more than he ever wanted to see. He had found
the bathing quarters, something for which his life aboard the To'ch, where space
was at a premium, had not prepared him. To have a full bathing center with
two separate small pools, what appeared to be a Jacuzzi, and a sauna was far too
much for his more ascetic wants.
But what really shocked him were the two naked females bathing, one laying back,
relaxed with closed eyes. on the upper steps of the swallow pool, fully exposed
with water lapping up against her body in a rather erotic fashion. The other
was in the water up to her extended belly, her hands tangled in her hair as she
attempted to take it down, her small breasts starting to swell with the expectant
lactation on the birth of her child.
His mouth dropped open.
Thala pushed him in and the door closed, trapping him and alerting them to the presence
of someone in the room.
He recognized Cebrenia immediately from her beautiful face, the other parts exposed
certainly not any less perfect. The other female, who rivaled Cebrenia for
beauty and body shape, he recognized vaguely from the landing pad when he had first
arrived. He remembered her in a prone position then also.
"Be a dear, Claudia, and give me a massage. I'm still so stressed over that
whole assassination thing and the Dei Glorium's upcoming marriage," the one he remembered
as being called Dione asked without opening her eyes. Lord Cardinal Dione
XIII, if he recalled correctly.
Ailanthus turned his back to the women just as Cebrenia looked over at him.
Her surprise was no less than his. She quickly sank all the way up to her
neck in the water and lay a forearm across her chest for good measure. "You
presume far too mmmmuch, Emperor Ailanthus. This is an outrage! How
dare you just bbbbarge into my ship and my pppprivate bbbbbath and ogle us as if
we were some common trollop for your perverse pleasures."
Dione opened her eyes and turned her head to look, not even attempting to cover
herself like Cebrenia had. What would be the point of that? He had apparently
already seen what she looked like naked. Too late now to be modest.
And besides, her body was one of her best assets. Why not flaunt it while
she still had it? "The emperor? Here? Is that him? I’d somehow
have expected it to be the other one if anything, but he'll certainly do."
She smiled wickedly, eyeing him up and down with little regard.
"Well of course it's him, you twit. Do you see anyone else in the room with
us?" Cebrenia still could not figure out how she had ever befriended this fool.
She could have done so much better. And what was with this man coming here
like this? Did he truly think that since they had been betrothed he could
just walk about her private abode as he wished, and look at her in all her glory?
"I apologize for the intrusion,"
Ailanthus started to say, though he was well aware that no explanation would suffice.
There was no excuse for this. This was not the penal colony where bathing
was open and co-ed. "It was not intentional by any means."