Cursed by a sorceress, Ma Oo together with every woman in her village, has lost the urge to mate. Only Bahkran the Great Hunter can remove this curse, but to do so he must first make Ma Oo pregnant. How can a girl robbed of all sexual feeling seduce such a man? Ma Oo is determined to find out.
‘Is it true?’ Bahkran demanded, his keen dark eyes sharpening with interest as he glanced at Tor, his second-in-command. ‘She has set out already, you say, to find me? And she believes I must father her child? ‘ Drawing the tanned skin on his firm jaw tight, Bahkran shaved his stubble with a knife so sharp it made his hovering attendant wince with concern. ‘Is this Ma Oo such a hag she must undertake such a difficult journey for want of my seed?’
‘No hag, sire,’ Tor replied frankly, ‘Ma Oo of the River People is a great beauty, by all accounts.’
‘Would you tempt me to break my vow of celibacy, Tor?’ Bahkran murmured, shooting a disapproving look at his aide. ‘I know of the terrible affliction that has destroyed Ma Oo’s village and, as you know, I am well acquainted with the Sorceress who laid the curse.’
‘An old enemy or yours, sire,’ Tor remembered.
‘And one to whom I showed mercy. It seems I was wrong on that occasion.’
‘Not wrong, sire. You were compassionate and that is what raises you above the other magic makers in this land.’
‘Do not flatter me, Tor,’ Bahkran murmured, checking his face in a piece of polished metal for any patches of stubble he might have missed.
‘No, sire,’ Tor said with an obedient dip of his head. ‘The village this maid comes from is not destroyed yet, though the Sorceress is plying her evil as we speak, and it can’t be long before Tucamano dies and the jungle overruns what used to be a thriving village.’
‘I know that too,’ Bahkran said.
There was silence for a few moments, during which Bahkran was scanning all the players in the drama in his mind’s eye. He could see the village, still clinging to a slim thread of hope thanks to its leader, Chaunta Rey, and the bravery of his sister, Ma Oo. He could See Ma Oo preparing to face the spite of the Sorceress without the benefit of magic powers, which made her an admirable woman by any standard.
‘She has need of me,’ Bahkran murmured thoughtfully.
‘That is why she is coming to find you,’ his aide, Tor, confirmed. ‘If you plant a seed in her belly and make it hold, the curse of the Sorceress will be removed, never to return.’
Bahkran turned an amused gaze upon his friend. ‘If this Ma Oo is such a great beauty, it may take me some time to accomplish the task. It is to be hoped that the villagers will wait patiently while I ensure their future is secure.’
Tor’s dark eyes brightened with laughter. ‘In that case, may I suggest that the sooner that you meet Ma Oo, the better it will be for them?’
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