The Countess Slovenia threw her helmet on to the table in disgust. Her long, flaxen hair was matted by sweat and she ran her hands through it to shake out the tangles. Her hands came away streaked with blood. She looked at them for a moment in bewilderment and then picked the helmet back up. Turning it in her hands, she ran her fingers thoughtfully over a clean gash that marked the right hemisphere.

“Fetch me water for a bath.” She said, turning to face Israel, her aide-de-camp.

The eunuch nodded and left the tent abruptly. When he had gone Slovenia began the arduous task of removing her battle garb. Ring mail, leather under suit, steel boots, plate greaves and gauntlets, leather ailettes and her silk underwear all piled up at her feet. She stood for a moment, the warm air felt cool on her naked skin after the stifling heat from wearing all that armour. Her body was battered and bruised but she stood proudly erect, stretching the stiffness and aches out of her limbs. Israel returned, trailed by five slaves carrying pitchers of steaming hot water. He directed them to fill the iron cauldron that served as her bath tub. As they were pouring the contents of their pitchers into the cauldron he added a mixture of chamomile, eucalyptus, sage and comfrey root, topped with a handful of deeply perfumed rose petals.

Slovenia approached the tub and inhaled deeply breathing in the thick aroma that rose with the steam. It smelled faintly medicinal.

“What manner of potion is this?” She asked.

“Just an herbal remedy your Highness.” He replied. “I cannot prepare your glamour without first cleansing the base of bruising. Your marshals cannot be allowed to see that there is weakness in you. Not at this critical moment.”

She knew he spoke the truth. It was her miraculous beauty that had managed to get her this far. The staunchly patriarchal society she had managed to grab leadership of would not suffer feminine weakness. She knew that the cost of her rule, was a combination of battle prowess and pure seduction. She had an unusual power over the men that she commanded and she exploited it to its full potential.

She stepped into the bath and lay back, letting her eunuchs soft yet firm hands cleanse the filth and blood of battle from her body. He tutted and clucked at the devastation he beheld.

“I shall have to be creative tonight, Highness.” He said reproachfully, “Some of these bruises will not recover for many days no matter what I do. I shall have to ensure that the paint and jewels draw the eye to your most appealing features.”

He frowned at a particularly garish bruise that crossed her upper thigh. That particular route to pleasure would no longer work and his designs would need to draw all attention to her breasts and arms. He was deeply thankful that no blemish ruined the erotic landscape of her back and buttocks.

When he was done he ordered the slaves to fetch fresh water for the bath. He helped her out and had her lay down on the bed as he emptied it and refilled it with the pitchers of fresh water the slaves returned with. He scented the water with lavender oil and had her climb back in.

“Call for me when you are ready.” He said and left, heading for his own small tent to dream up a glamour to stop the hearts of men. The way things were going, she was going to need all the help she could get.

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