Author's notes: I've started this story ages ago but didn't get around to finish it somewhere other than my head. Now I've finally decided to publish it somewhere, because I found the muse to write again. It's all more or less laid out in my head.

Please note that this will eventually contain a lesbian romance, so if you're a homophobe kindly walk away. Also note that I call this a "romance" so if you're just looking for hot lesbian sex, follow the homophobe... It will eventually get steamy and there will be some violence, but it'll have a decent amount of build up.

Lastly this plays in a little fantasy world that exists in my mind and is the location of several stories that are currently residing in my head only. Oh, and I know usually snake-women are called "Lamia" and not "Naga" (which in actually mythology are a little different). In this world, they're called Naga in the south and Lamia in the north, but that's not important for the story.

The cage was swaying. Her view was constantly moving up and down, the horizon of the endless sands appearing like a rough sea. Somewhere in the back of her head she knew that it just appeared so because of the cage's movement, but the pain made thinking so hard. Her sense of balance was totally off, too. She had a fever, probably, and the wound in her left abdomen hurt, almost burning. Yet, she didn't dare to move, that would just make it worse.

The caravan slowly marched through the desolate emptiness of the desert. The mood was full of despair and nobody dared to speak a word, except for the overseers. Their hard, unmerciful voices spat orders at the quiet slaves every now and then, should someone move not fast enough for their tastes. But more feared than their harsh words were the tongues of their whips. To the slaves it said "obey", "serve", "move", but most often it said "pain".

Andoué did not have to walk in line with the others, but she had paid a high price for this. Two days ago, one of the overseers had tried to have his way with her. She had fought, wanted to flee, but she had made a mistake. She had bitten the man. He became furious. He had beaten her up and would have stabbed her to death had it not been for his superior holding him back. But not out of mercy, no. Ogdrul scolded the man for damaging the goods, the "cattle" as he always called them.

The overseer who had cut her abdomen badly was punished with three strikes of the lash. Of course another overseer had to hit him and made sure not to hurt him too badly. But his honor was tainted and Andoué was sure he'd kill her should he get the chance. Maybe she would be lucky enough to die before that happened. Ogdrul had ordered for her to be tended to, but nobody in the caravan except for some of the other slaves cared enough for her to do a decent job. Her wound had led to an infection, she was sure. Since she wasn't able to walk on her own, they had put her into one of the cages dragged by camels. One of her fellow prisoners (what was he called again, Setiki or something?) had finally managed to put a blanket over the cage's top, so that at least the burning sun wouldn't get to Andoué that much.

She doubted it would help her much, though. Other than the nasty cut she had countless bruises and her left eye was so swollen she couldn't even open it. Maybe a few of her ribs were broken, too.

From what she could see of the horizon — her cage's blanket didn't reach to its bottom entirely — evening was drawing near. The shadows indicated that the sun had almost completed her daily cycle. Soon they would come to the next oasis. The evening before, Ogdrul had taken a look at her condition, to see whether it was still worthwhile to drag her along or just leave her in the desert to die. He had come to the conclusion that it was worth a try: even if she didn't recover from her injuries, there were wizards in Xisset who would buy her as long as she still breathed. They always needed living flesh for their rituals, he had said.

Andoué had been afraid, of course, but not anymore. Today she had repeatedly lost consciousness and drifted into feverish dreams. She was sure it was no longer "worthwhile" to transport her to Xisset. Even if Ogdrul wouldn't come to check for that ... then that overseer would certainly take his chance to finish her off tonight. She just hoped it would be quick, before she drifted into unconsciousness again.

She didn't know how much time had passed when she was brutally woken. It was still light outside. Was she dreaming? Or already in the next world?

There was a ruckus going on, screaming, and ... the sound of metal against metal? Swords? A fight! The caravan was under attack!

Suddenly her cage was hurled forward and she was painfully smashed against its side. The flash of pain almost blinded her, but it also woke her completely. The blanket fell from the cage and Andoué saw what was happening.

Apparently the camel had bolted, but the cage, basically a box on a sled-like construction, had kept it from running blindly into the desert. Instead the animal had crashed into another camel right in front of it. An overseer with drawn sword had tried to calm them, or maybe he had intended to mount the other camel, and got buried beneath the collapsing, panicking animals. In his fruitless effort to keep his balance he had stabbed the camel Andoué's cage was attached to. It was still bucking in its death struggle, rocking the cage and causing further painful movement for her. In spite of the pain, her focus was drawn to the happenings around her.

She saw it, but couldn't believe it. The caravan was attacked by monsters! Creatures with the torso of humans, but the lower bodies of giant snakes were fighting the overseers. They had long spears and were shouting battle cries in high pitched voices.

Andoué couldn't make out much of what was happening, but several of the slaves seemed to have used their chances to attack the slave masters, too. She turned her head and saw several of them wrestling down one of their tormentors. One slave was lying on the ground, though, not moving.

A flicker in the corner of Andoué's eye made her turn her head again and she saw two overseers passing by her cage, obviously headed to help their comrade. Before they could reach him, however, one of the creatures leading the attack appeared. It moved incredibly fast, using its long tail to slither through the sand in a sideways manner. Andoué hadn't even seen it coming, but that was probably because it appeared from her left, where she couldn't see well because of her swollen eye.

With a high pitched attack scream, the monster swung a spear towards the overseers, effectively blocking their path to the wrestling slaves. Andoué couldn't see their faces, but their whole posture expressed fear. Nevertheless, one of the men launched an attack. The snake drew back slightly, but in a quick motion rammed its spear forward, right through the man's stomach. His friend seemed to be a smarter fighter, though. Now that his opponent's weapon was blocked he saw his chance and tried to strike at the monster's relatively uncovered tail. He underestimated the creature's strength, however. It moved its spear with the dead overseer still impaled onto it and smashed it into the man's side. He was thrown off balance and struggled to stay standing. The monster wasted no time however and flicked its tail right at him. The gesture looked casual, almost comical, yet the power of the impact was so enormous that it sent the man flying through the air.

With terror Andoué realized he was directly flying at her cage. The man hit it right on the front top, breaking its poor, wooden construction and burying Andoué underneath himself. All she could do was let out a feeble scream before she passed out.

The feel of wind against her cheek woke her up again. Andoué slowly opened her eyes, but her sight was so blurry that she could barely make out more than the general color of her surrounding. The light was golden to red, so it must have been the few moments of dusk that were typical for the desert. She blinked a few times, realizing that even this small gesture was extremely exhausting to her tormented body. The next thing she felt was two strong arms under her crooked legs and back.

She was being carried? By whom? With superhuman effort she managed to turn her head a bit and finally managed to focus. She was looking into the profile of a woman. Andoué was sure she had met her before, but couldn't remember. The woman had her cradled, almost like a child. Her head was resting on the woman's shoulder so that it wasn't lolling around while they moved. Movement... Yes, she felt the wind on her cheek because of that. Were they really that fast? Somehow, Andoué didn't care. Everything in her mind was slightly dull. Even the pain had faded, mostly at least.

Suddenly the woman turned her face to her.

"Ah! Thanks to the mother, you've come to!", she said. "We'll soon be in my village. We've tried to tend to your wounds, but you're badly injured, so I'm hurrying ahead of the others to get you home. There, I have medicine."

Andoué felt strangely far from this. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew she should be worried. Worried, but also hopeful again, for the first time in months, probably. Yet, she did not really care. Everything was so peaceful now. The sound of the woman's voice had been soothing. Maybe she should thank the stranger?


"Don't speak!", the woman interrupted her. "Rest, everything will be fine once we're home!"

That didn't sound like such a bad idea, Andoué thought. Resting. Finally. Why not?

And so, she drifted away again.