She had held his hand when she led him into this broken down hovel. Now he held hers as he led her out. The glare of the sun against her face told her they had been in the shadows there for less than an hour. It had felt like a lifetime in there, and in a way it was. Something had died in those shadows while it gave birth to the woman that now stood in public with her fingers entwined with Nyx’s.
Days ago she would have considered gutting anyone who even suggested she could do what she had done, and what she was about to do.
Nyx moved quickly through the streets with her. The gazes they got no longer seemed to concern him, he was focused on one thing only. She marveled at that as she trailed along behind him, wondering how many had seen him like this, and how long it had been.
Lyssa has seen him like this… a voice of doubt whispered silkily in her ear. Quickly she shook her head and tightened her fingers around his.
Shut up… he’s mine now. She’s dead, and even if she weren’t… she could never take him back as he is now… she could never offer him what I can now. Mine! He said he was mine, that I was his.
The promise of an elf? You trust him? How many others, not including Lyssa, has he uttered those words to do you think?
For a moment she stopped in the street, the tug of her fingers in his made him pause and he turned those yellow eyes back at her. Concern at first washed over him and then fear and pain as she could tell he started to wonder if she had changed her mind. His emotions pierced her deeply and she felt her heart begin to bleed.
His heart… she reminded herself. The next moment she found herself once again pressed against him, lips burning against his as hotly as the sun beating down on them. It was quick, the meeting of their souls there, just enough to comfort him and remind her of what they had promised only moments ago. Promises that would soon be branded into flesh. She pulled back and nodded to him as she held his hand and they continued in a hurried pace.
No… not even Lyssa got this. This is mine and mine alone. Whoever Lyssa had no longer existed. I trust him… I love him… she responded finally to the voice of doubt and it fell silent.
The rest of the journey was a blur. Hovels turned into nicer homes and finally gave away to a street lined with well tended business. On the corner a three story home painted white and pale blue rose up, a sign hanging out over the walkway reading ‘The Blue Dove Inn’ told of its conversion into its current business.
With the proper exchange of money anything can be bought, even an elf can get a decent room in Drasnia. And so coins procured a skeleton key, which in turn opened the door of the room.
Women like her did not frequent rooms like this. The wall behind the soft double bed was painted a deep blue, the rest were crisp white. The color scheme worked its way around the rest of the room, from the white wardrobe and matching bureau, to the small writing desk and chair, the high backed chair and the ottoman that rested at its feet, down to the carpet where blue flowers danced under their feet, the curtains were a pale blue lace and china basins filled with fresh water and lavender graced the bureau.
It was all background though. The moment the door closed and locked behind them the only thing she really saw was Nyx. Against the bright blues and stark white of the room his shadows stood out in dark contrast. The corner of her mouth lifted in a smirk as she considered that his lily white skin, once that was all he was wearing, would blend so much better in this room.
They stood only feet from each other, watching how the passion that burned in their eyes moved down their bodies. The desire to simply ravish the body and the soul that had so recently been offered itched at each of them. Biting her lip until it hurt, though, she resisted that temptation and instead closed the distance with slow steps. Her hands reached for the clasp that held his cloak to his shoulders, they trembled as she fussed with it.
Sparks flying across her eyes she looks up at him. “Nyx… my Nyx… I’ve never done this before… I want to though… I want to savor that love you’ve promised… let me savor it… let me savor you…” her voice caresses over him with her request. Her eyes close then and she falls into him; breaks the vow she made to herself under the stars; lets him fill the empty spaces of her soul…
Posted on 2010-02-09 at 21:16:49.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 13:11:25 by Eol Fefalas
There was nothing in the world for Nyx, in this moment, except for Cay. As they cut an urgent path from the abandoned building, through Drasnia’s streets, and to the more affluent neighborhood where the Blue Dove Inn could be found, Nyx could recall seeing, hearing, or feeling nothing but her. He couldn’t recall the details of procuring the room beyond the face of the Innkeeper and the exchange of coin… and, even now, as they stood in that room, Nyx was oblivious to its finery other than being aware that it was a much more suitable place…as opulent as the décor and appointments of the suite may have been, all of it was eclipsed by the tortured beauty of the woman in the ill-fitting sack-dress, tattered-stockings, and too-large boots who stood less than a breath away.
She filled his vision, reducing all that surrounded her to an inconsequential haze, standing out against the background of the room as the stars stood out against the ink-black of the night sky. She dominated his hearing, the sound of her breath and her heartbeat drowning out the din of the awakening city beyond the window. She was in the very air he breathed; he found her rainwater scent over that of the perfumed water and wood oil and flowers that belonged to the room and it filled him; the breaths that she exhaled into the space between them caressed the currents that swirled in the place and he felt her all around him… her fingers in his hair and on his neck and his back and at his lips… her body, free of the rough burlap and heavy leather of her clothing, wrapping around and melting into his…
A smile danced on his lips and in his eyes as he watched her face move in the shadows cast by the brim of her hat… There was adoration and longing in Nyx’s smile as he devoured her with his senses… love and lust and all that came with them both. That wasn’t all of it, though, the mith’ganni realized as he watched Cay’s lower lip disappear into her own mouth and the expression on her face shift in a way that it seemed to echo the thoughts in his own mind…
For all of your urgency to get here, Nyx, his mind’s voice chuckled in amusement, for as long as you have waited for this moment, now that it is yours you are just going to stand here and look at her?
How can I not, he answered in a slow blink of his shining eyes, Look at her. If nothing more ever comes of this, I have this moment and… I want to remember it… every second of it… He felt his tongue glide over his lips as he watched her chew on hers… felt his fingertips tingle in anticipation of touching her and his stomach tighten in anticipation of feeling her against him again… and I fear that if I touch her this will all disappear and I will find that I have awoken too soon from my dream.
…along with the affection and ache that painted his features were intermingled disbelief and doubt – not of his feeling for her but, rather, the reality of the moment – that added a somewhat sheepish tint to that smile…
This is no dream, a softer voice in his mind assured him when Cay, at last, drifted slowly toward him, arms reaching… her fingers trembled as they closed on the clasp of his cloak… that trembling rippled through his own body as his own fingers closed over hers and shuddered on the breath that he drew in when she didn’t vanish at his touch… his other hand found the rough burlap at her hip, pressed firmly into the flesh that hid beneath, fingers clutching hungrily as they sought to pull her closer and, then, as his cloak fell away into a shadowy pool at their feet, going feather-light as they followed the graceful curves of her body upward… sliding over her waist, fluttering along her ribcage, brushing delicately over the swell of her breast, and tracing the arc of her neck… before it released her only long enough to take the beaten leather hat from her head and toss it away, careless of where it landed...
“Nyx… my Nyx…” Her voice washed over him, caressing his very soul with her words, as both of his hands moved to cup her face between them and he opened his eyes to look into hers. “…I’ve never done this before…” A pale thumb gingerly traced her lips as he let the fires in those amber eyes burn away any of the doubt and disbelief that may have survived her initial touch, and fingers brushed an errant lock of mahogany hair from her cheek…
“Nor have I, melamin,” he whispered, his lips brushing hers now, his fingers trickling back down along her neck to deftly unfasten her cloak and nudge it away, “not… like this.”
“… I want to though,” she breathed as his lips whispered over her cheek and rained promising kisses along path his fingertips had just traced, “…I want to savor that love you’ve promised… let me savor it… let me savor you…”
Nyx’s nimble fingers had worked their way back down the dress that yet hid Cay’s true form from him, deftly unfastening the buttons and belt that kept the garment in place before slithering over her hips and lower, along her thighs, to catch up the fabric at the tattered hem of her skirt. The shower of kisses pattered along her collarbone, across the hollow of her throat, and traced a path ascending this side of her neck that mirrored those which had descended the other… his lips found the lobe of her ear, took it between them for a moment, then traced that curve, too, tenderly but hungrily kissing the scar from where a delicate point had once issued. As his kisses climbed, so too did his hands, once again, with the hem of her dress still caught up in them… “You will,” he whispered, his lips flitting across her cheek in search of her mouth again, “We will… Now and always…” He kissed her, then, with a soft passion, still guiding her dress upwards, and broke away for only an instant when he felt her hands leave him, her arms reaching skyward, and, in that instant the dress was gone…
His hands and mouth fell back to her again before the discarded frock could even touch the floor and, how it was managed even Nyx would never be sure but, as his arms curled around her to cradle and lift her to him, Cay was swept up and out of her boots… “Amin mela lle, Cayrimsa Etellenya,” he purred between kisses as he carried her toward the bed, “and I am going to love you like you have never imagined possible…”
Posted on 2010-02-11 at 18:20:34.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 13:15:10 by Eol Fefalas
Hours later, Cayrimsa Ettelenya laid curled up against Nyx Shyndyn and marveled at how perfectly warm he was. Her fingers dared to dip betwixt her legs and reaffirmed this thought as she felt his heat still spreading against her there. Somehow she had always felt that elves would carry their cool temperaments with them to bed. Even after the sparks that had flown between her and Nyx before this had happened she had held to her doubts that an elf would make a decent lover.
Of course… he isn’t really an elf…
She reminded herself, again, with a slight smile. Nyx had poured his passions over her like an erupting volcano. She now doubted if the boiling he caused in her blood would ever fully cool.
They had come to this room for a purpose. The words they had spoken had been promises that needed to be sealed with something more tangible. For Cay, though, the act itself was not enough. Even as her body and her soul burned with what they had shared she still found a tug of doubt, and a realization that he had not yet fully lived up to the promises he had made.
Her eyes closed and she wondered if he felt any lasting doubts, or if her submission and the breaking of her vows, had been enough for him. She tried to read him, and even with her eyes closed she thought she could. His lithe body was spooned against her back. Their hearts were aligned in this position, only the encasing ribs keeping them apart. The aspen breeze of his elven breaths caressed over her gnarled ear and ran through her hair. Light as air a kiss brushed over her shoulder and she sighed, starting to feel at ease; which is when he moved, the kiss had been a single act that preceded his body separating from hers, and brought the doubts crashing back down upon her.
Leaving… he’s leaving you Cay… even after everything he turns and shows you that he is no better than the rest… perhaps worse because he lied…
Her stomach clenched and she sat up, hating that the first emotion that rose in her was fear and not anger. “No…” she muttered in despair, reaching her hands toward him as he pulled off the bed.
The pained voice made him turn back to her. For a moment she could see herself reflected in his yellow eyes. She saw herself, weakened by him to a point that she was now leaning across the bed, throwing her heart under his feet, tears threatening to consume her amber eyes and drench the fires he had fanned. A flicker of shock at seeing her like this ran over his face, but it lasted only a moment and was quickly replaced with compassion. His hands caught hers and pulled her out of the sheets and to his chest again.
“Shhhh…” He whispered against her hair, pressing his lips against her forehead.
In his arms, as he guided them closer to the little dresser in the room, she started to let go of her doubts once again. Slowly she relaxed and looked up at him, their eyes met and he smiled lightly at her. His eyes plead with her to believe that what he had said was true, so long as she accepted him he would never leave her. The smile melted over her and she returned it. Only when he had gotten that smile and seen the trepidation leave her eyes did he let her go.
He stepped back so that small inches of space separated them. She closed her eyes and felt the electricity that tingled in the space between them. In the darkness she heard water, and smelled the sweet fragrance of lavender. Soon it poured over her as his hands directed the sweet water along her body.
It was intimate and tender, but most of all it was almost casual. He was simply enjoying her. Even now after the crashing tidal waves of their passions had died down and they now floated in some placid bay, he found her pleasing. Every touch was light and lacked the sexual fervor he had touched her with before. Cherished was how it made her feel. The concept that she could be wanted even when she was not performing some sexual act was new, and she liked it.
Fingers and droplets of water teased over her skin, and with every moment she found more depth hidden in the caresses. There was trust in them. Trust that she had truly accepted him, and would not flee the room and him in the next moment. This was why he did not clutch at her in desperation. In this moment he trusted her with his heart. She sighed lightly and found that the last shreds of her doubt were fading with every caress. He was living up to his promises.
He was behind her now, water rushing down her spine as his fingers followed. Reaching behind she caught up his fingers and stopped their course and curled his arm around her. As fluid as the water he pressed his body against hers. She brought his hand to her lips and over the battered knuckles she whispered softly. “I was wrong Nyx… this changes everything…”
And she knew it was the truth. For better or for worse she knew she was eternally tied to him and that it would color her every action and thought.
Posted on 2010-03-04 at 19:15:46.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 13:19:30 by Eol Fefalas
The day had been all but burned away by the inferno of their love making and, now, as Nyx and Cay lay curled together in the embers of that passionate conflagration, twilight approached and made the assassin aware that the coming evening and the night, too, could easily be wiled away just like this… They could stay, their naked bodies entwined together and draped in the silken finery of this room, and stoke the embers back to roaring life until they, once more, found themselves spent and Nyx was certain he would be more than content to do just that…
I have promised you more, though, my love, the mith’ganni thought over the sigh he breathed across her skin, and to make good those promises, elen en cormamin, there is much I must do to prepare… He curled tighter around Cay’s slender form, then, pulling her closer to him and savoring one last moment of shared heat and heartbeat before his lips whispered over her skin and he forced himself to let go of her. There is work to be done, and preparations to be made.
Slipping out of the tangled bedclothes, Nyx smirked at the irony of those words even as the thought formed in his mind… Not the work you likely had in mind, is it, O’ Executioner, he challenged his forsaken god, You had other plans for me, yes? And for her… he toed at the silver skull that peered up at him from the tangle of clothing and weaponry at the bedside. You have called for her thread to be severed more than once haven’t you? Wanted her soul for your collections and sought to reap it through me, one way or another. Is that it, Prien? Wanted her dead or enslaved to you just as you have enslaved me all these years…
Nyx’s gaze lifted from the skull-buckle and turned to where the basins of lavender water topped the dresser. A soft smile flickered across his features and he started to go and retrieve one of those basins before continuing on with his bold, internal tirade against his now former ‘master.’ You thought I would never realize that that is what I was, I am certain. And thought you could provoke me into killing her when you understood that she could mean more to me than you, yes? And, even now, you likely believe that I shall bring her to you, do you not?
God or no, my Lord, he mocked the deity with that honorific, now, You shall never hurt her or have her… From myself or anyone else…
It wasn’t the word that she had spoken but, instead, the half-strangled tone in which it was uttered and the almost despairing set to her features as she reached out for him that caused him to stop. The initial look of shock on his own face melted through confusion and concern and, finally, softened to a warm reassurance as he took her outstretched hand into his own. No, melamin, his eyes told her as he pulled her to him and folded her in his arms, I am not leaving you… I have been with you far too long to leave you, now… “Shhhhh,” he whispered, kissing her forehead as he absorbed her warmth again. He held her until he felt the trepidation melt away from her and, only then, did he dare let her go again. Even when he did, Nyx’s attentions weren’t refused her… just as he had planned when his gaze had finally fallen on the porcelain vessels of scented water and recognized them for what they were… he bathed her lovingly and attentively.
I’ll never leave you, Cay, his eyes and touch told her as, delicately, he washed the sheen of sweat and musk resultant of their passion from her, nor shall I ever let you go. I have made promises to you and, unlike any other vows I have made, I intend to keep them… Over the past days, Nyx had come to realize his love for Cay, and in the past hours had that love not only affirmed but reciprocated to an extent that he could never have imagined.
“I was wrong, Nyx,” she murmured as he poured and caressed the scented water over her back, her hands reaching around to stop his attentive caresses and draw his arms around her, “this changes everything…”
“I hope that it does, my love,” he whispered against the skin of her neck as he pulled her close and buried his face in the spill of her auburn tresses, “I have been with you too long, now, and, after this, to have it otherwise…” He held her tightly then and let his lips linger when he kissed the delicate arc where her shoulder met her neck. “…I could not bear it.”
His hand feathered up her belly, then; over her chest and along her neck until it found the line of her jaw whereupon his fingers traced along to her chin and turned her face to his so that he could taste her lips, again. “The thing it does not change, however, is poor Aelion’s fate,” he smiled wickedly after lingering in that kiss for a long moment, “We have tarried away too much of the day for us to hope he will be of any use in our plans. The Emperor’s men have surely ascertained his fate by this late hour…” He kissed her again, turning her in his arms and pulling her tightly against him as he did: “…and, elen en cormamin, if I am to make good on the promises I have made you, we shall need to find another path before Dmitrova has the chance to suspect our schemes, hmmm?” Cay lifted herself on her toes, then, and kissed him, smiling more brightly than he had ever seen.
Posted on 2010-03-07 at 16:33:43.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 13:21:35 by Eol Fefalas
“Yes… poor poor Aelion…” she cooed without any real remorse over the fate she had no doubt sent the boy to. “I was not looking forward to delving into the dungeons anyway, though.”
She shrugged casually before lacing her arms up around his neck and once again showered him in a warm kiss. “But… you no doubt have other connections that could fill us in on what the moon eye’d scoundrel was up to, no? Because of course… I don’t my dear…”
Her color rose slightly, which only served to soften her already glowing features. “Hopefully you know somewhere with a contact… and food. I’m exhausted and starving after what you’ve done to me.”
With a wink she finally peeled her body off his with a slight sigh of regret. Nabbing a towel off the dresser she patted herself dry and then began scouring the room for her clothing. While they dressed she could not help but throw smiles and lingering looks his way. A feeling was welling up inside of her that she could only describe as ‘effervescent.’ It was if she were a bottle of champagne, full of pink frothy bubbles that threatened to explode at any moment.
“I am hungry, myself,” he smiled wolfishly as Cay pulled away from him, watching her as she set about gathering up her clothes, and thinking that he should stop her… Leave those clothes where they lay and get her back in that bed… and the thought was still in his head when, reluctantly, he began gathering up his own discarded gear; “but that hunger, I suppose, would be better fed on a full belly.” He brushed a hand across her cheek and paused to sample her lips again before retrieving his pants from where they lay in a heap with his boots.
“I cannot guarantee that any of my contacts will be able to set us back on the exact course we need to follow,” Nyx said, sitting on the edge of the bed and pulling his boots on, now, “but I do know of a place, aside from Vadim’s Hydra, where we would be most likely to discover dealings that will inevitably lead us back, yes? If there is a happening in Drasnia, no matter how secret, there is someone at the Albatross who knows something of it.”
“The Albatross,” Cay asked, shooting him a curious glance.
“The Albatross and the Alekeg,” the mith’ganni nodded, smiling at her as he reached for his tunic, “A rather out of the way place along the North Harbor. A good place to look for work when Dmitrova has nothing to offer…” he chuckled softly as he pulled the garment over his head and shook his mane out from beneath the collar, “…not a bad place to look even when Vadim does have a contract on the table, honestly…”
Her brow rose even higher, “I did say I was exhausted didn’t I? I would hope that ravishing me hasn’t made you deaf…” She sighed heavily.
The assassin’s chuckle erupted into a laugh, then, and, having already shrugged back into his coat, flicked her a wink as he fastened his belt around his hips. “Do not worry, melamin,” he purred playfully, gathering up her hat and cloak, too, when he retrieved his own from the floor, “my legs are in no mood to walk the span of the city after this, either…” He laid the blood-red cloak and the battered leather hat beside her on the bed and pressed his lips to the scarred top of one ear before backing for the door… “You finish dressing and meet me out front; I shall see about some transportation for us, yes?”
As his lips left her ear her fingers touched over them, she nodded to what he said about meeting downstairs and looked at him with tender eyes. “You know ithilamin… you keep doing that and I’m going to fall madly in love with you…” she whispered softly as she watched him head out.
Because no one else has ever touched my ears… let alone kissed them…
“That is the plan, elen en cormamin,” Nyx replied as he stepped through the doorway and into the hall, “I shall see you downstairs…”
The mith’ganni, slipped down the staircase, then, made his way out the back door of the Blue Dove Inn and crossed the neatly maintained swatch of yard and garden that unfurled beyond the kitchen door to where the establishment maintained a small livery where guests whom had arrived on horseback or by carriage could stable their animals – a nice amenity for the Blue Dove’s standard patronage and, assuming that there was at least one of those patrons who had taken advantage of the service, a very convenient nicety for the Twilight Elf… He might have even been quicker about stealing one of the three animals that he found occupying the stables and been awaiting Cay at the Blue Dove’s front entry if he had not had to wait for the stable boy to finish with the shoveling of a newly vacated stall before running off to dinner. That one delay aside, though, Nyx had very little difficulty in coaxing a fidgety roan from his stall and into a saddle.
Cay was waiting just outside the Blue Dove’s front door when Nyx reined the pilfered horse to a stop in front of the Inn. Judging from her less than exasperated set of her features, Nyx noted, she hadn’t been waiting very long. “Arwenamin,” he grinned, leaning over in the saddle and extending a hand to her…
The witch blinked – first at him, then at the horse, and back at him, again – but, otherwise, didn’t make a move to step closer or take the offered hand. Her expression hinted at a slight trepidation at approaching the animal.
… “We might want to hurry, love,” Nyx smiled, turning his palm up and extending his hand a bit farther, “lest the true owner of this horse be peering out the window, yes?”
The flicker of apprehension disappeared from Cay’s face, then, and was replaced with a wicked little smile. “It’s been… a little while… since I’ve been on a horse,” she admitted, even as she allowed him to lift her into the saddle ahead of him.
“Not to worry, Cayrimsa,” Nyx smiled as she situated herself side-saddle, draping both of her legs over one of his, and wrapping her arms around his neck, “It’s all easily enough remembered.” Taking the reins in one hand and curling the other around Cay, he nudged the horse’s flanks with his heels and whispered something in elven that set the beast trotting off up the road.
After a few moments at a leisurely canter, he felt Cay relax a bit. She had fallen into the gentle rocking of the horse’s gait and, cradled as she was between his thighs, had been guided into the subtle cant and shift of body-weight that made the difference between a comfortable ride and saddle sores. “You see,” he smiled, ducking under the brim of her hat to land a quick kiss on her cheek, “nothing to it.”
The pair drew more than one dubious glance as they clattered through the neighborhoods south of the Reyal, of course – the sight of a mith’ganni riding as proudly through the streets as if he were roaming the yet wild plains of Shanurdir was uncommon enough, but that same mith’ganni riding so with a woman in his saddle, nestled against him the way she was, was all but unthinkable – but if those glances or the appalled comments that sometimes accompanied them affected either the assassin or the witch as they made their way northward through the city, neither of them acknowledged it. Other than those brief moments in which he diverted his attentions to adjust course (or in those instances when he perceived something that could potentially be a threat) Nyx’s attentions were focused completely on Cay. He marveled at how she sat so confidently in the saddle ahead of him, her visage devoid of the hateful scowl that so often twisted her features when she moved among the citizenry of Drasnia… she did offer a sneer, from time to time, when some particular gawker caught her attention but, for the most part, when she bothered to look at those they passed at all, Nyx couldn’t help but notice there was an air of confidence about her that was fairly atypical of the Witch of the Wharf… in fact, he thought he might have caught her smiling more than once. It was on one of those occasions, just as their stolen horse took to the Wideway Bridge that would bear them across the Reyal and into the seamier northern part of the city, that Nyx found himself smiling more warmly and obliviously than was normal for him in such public venues, as well, and that realization, instead of prompting him to dampen the expression, simply made him smile all the more.
His hand slid around Cay’s waist, then, and gently pulled her closer to him. When one of her hands moved to rest on his, he nuzzled into her hair and let his fingers slither around hers. The mith’ganni positively beamed when the tip of one alabaster finger traced over the string of blue beads… curiously like the ones that tasseled the curtains in our room… that now graced her wrist. “A souvenir, melamin?” he purred softly, smiling against her ear before, once more, brushing his lips over its scarred tip.
“Perhaps,” Cay murmured coyly in reply as she untangled her hand from his and snaked both of her arms around his neck, again. “You know,” she added mischievously sparkling eyes and a light smile as her embrace tightened a bit, “I thought I told you never to touch me again…”
Nyx blinked (more than once) and then laughed as the arm he had wrapped around her tightened even more and pulled her even closer. “Well, Cayrimsa Etellenya… Lirimaer,” he snickered, “you very well may have but, in the time that you have known me, or known of me for that matter, when have you ever heard it said that Nyx Shyndyn does what he is told?”
Their eyes were locked together, then, just as their smiles were and, even as Nyx tugged on the reins to urge the roan westward once the river had been crossed, so, too, were their lips... It was a kiss – lasting for longer than it took the stolen horse to traverse an entire block of the northern riverfront – that bespoke more than the just long repressed desire or the fervent hunger of that passion finally unleashed as had many of their other kisses to this point; this kiss told the tale of long separated souls at last reunited, of kindred spirits that had spent lifetimes searching for one another, and of new beginnings to yet another life in which one’s footsteps would be flanked by the other’s…
The nicer, better maintained edifices of the riverfront gave way in stages to the battered wharves and warehouses that flanked the beaches where the Reyal spilled into the harbor. Those structures, in turn, withered into ramshackle shanty-towns that clung to the edges of the warehouse district on the east and, to the west, the rocky beaches that curved out toward where Drasnia’s lighthouse stood on the low cliffs at the mouth of the harbor. Some distance past the shanty-town, a narrow track branched off from the broader thoroughfare that led to the lighthouse and wound northwards, away from the harbor and towards a copse of old and gnarled trees. That narrow track, once it twisted it’s way beneath the entangled branches of centuries old oaks, revealed, first, erratic piles of debris indicated where the compound’s perimeter walls and outbuildings had once stood – now just heaps of crumbled masonry and rotten timbers, woven through with the creeping vines and twisting roots that had heaved and pulled the structures down, and dotted with rapidly browning weeds and grasses that had found purchase in the crevices. Then, past a low wall that had obviously been fashioned from materials scavenged from those erratic heaps and topped with a hand-painted sign depicting an intoxicated albatross draped unconscious over an empty keg of ale, was the place that Nyx had referred to as The Albatross and The Alekeg…The remains of the ancient, stone manor house that squatted amidst the sprawling ruins of one of Drasnia’s oldest estates and had, long ago, hidden itself in the tangled grove.
“A much nicer ride than it would have been a walk, yes, melamin,” Nyx smiled softly, reining the horse in just past the wall.
He held Cay a bit tighter as the roan pranced in a tight circle before coming to a stop. Then, having kissed her, once more, loosened his hold and helped her slide from the saddle before dismounting, himself. “Diola lle, mellonamin,” the mith’ganni said, patting the horse on its neck, “Quel andune…” His yellow eyes turned towards the heavens, then, peering through the chaotic weave of branches to regard the gauzy hues of pink, yellow, and orange that the setting sun painted on the sky.
“It promises to be a nice night,” he murmured, tearing his gaze from the sky after a moment. “Perhaps not as nice as the day has been,” he winked, one hand coming to rest on the hilt of his kukri and the other finding a spot at the small of Cay’s back as he ushered her towards the iron-bound planks of thick, rough-hewn wood that was the Albatross’ front door, “but, should the skies stay clear, the stars will surely shine brightly. If we find the time, elen en cormamin, there are some that I would like to show you, later, yes?”
More than one set of eyes turned their way when Nyx pushed the door open and guided Cay into the Albatross’ great room. Most of those turned away quickly enough, satisfied in simply knowing what had caused the door to open. A few lingered for a moment longer than was necessary… perhaps out of some imagined recognition. Others may have been accompanied by a mumbled comment that was drowned in the depths of the ale mug into which it had been spoken or lost in the strains of the exotic music that a trio of minstrels provided from their perch atop the makeshift stage of tables which had been pushed together against one far wall. Even those, though, drifted away after a moment and paid their attentions to concerns more immediate than the arrival of two more patrons. There was only one set of eyes in the place that refused to let loose of the assassin and the witch as they moved from the doorway, slipping through the erratic patches of shadow and smoke-hazed lantern-light that dappled the tavern-hall, towards a small table nestled in an out of the way alcove.
“I mighta knowed ye’d be showin’, Shyndyn,” the ancient looking sailor rasped when Nyx and Cay passed where he hunched on a stool near the middle of the rough, cedar bar. “Alw’ys happ’ns that way, aye,” the old man continued, his sea and spray weathered face twisting with the efforts of climbing down from his seat and keeping a gnarled grip on his mug, as he tottered a few paces behind them, “Th’ storm blows o’er th’ city, an’ them same fell winds come about an’ blows ye in here…”
The old mariner staggered a bit when he tipped his mug to his lips, fell another step behind the pair he was stalking as he paused to steady himself, and then chuckled as he wiped the foam from his tangled whiskers on his sleeve and set foot after Nyx and Cay, once more. “…O’ course,” he continued, catching up with them just as they reached the table, and fixing his murky green eyes on the witch as he did, “th’ lad alw’ys takes th’ shadows wit’ ‘im when ‘e blows back out… Jus’ this’n an’ th’ shadows… Ain’t regul’r fer ‘im ta bring along anoth’r…” He chuckled again, his eyes blinking only once as they slid away from their evaluation of Cay and settled on the mith’ganni beside her, and then, with a grunt and a creaking of old bones, lowered himself into a chair across the table from them both. “Death walks, as they says, but, typical, he walks alone… Makes a bloke wond’r wha’ mighta changed in th’ world as th’ storm churned when typical ain’t so, aye?”
Nyx hadn’t acknowledged the man one way or another since they had arrived… not so much as a nod of recognition or even an irritated, cautioning glare the whole while the man had skittered along behind them… In fact, until the assassin’s moon-colored eyes finally settled directly on the ancient human who now sat on the other side of his table, it would have appeared that Nyx had been completely oblivious to the man’s existence. “For most the world is the same as it was last night, Skjorn,” he said flatly, “Death still walks, alone or otherwise, and those seeking Death still come here to find it, yes?”
“Aye,” Skjorn nodded, “tha’ they does. As I were sayin’, though, t’ain’t typical they’s expectin’ Death in pairs…” His gaze flicked in Cay’s direction, again, then back to the mith’ganni… “Who’s th’ bird, Brother Nyx?”
Nyx scowled at the question and his eyes hardened as they tracked the old mariner’s in that instant. It was a reaction that Skjorn, apparently, hadn’t been expecting because, when met with that narrowed, yellow glare, his heretofore confident if not altogether congenial expression withered a bit and became more than a little apprehensive. “My partner,” the assassin might have well as growled when he finally replied after letting Skjorn twist in his discomfort for a moment, “If you must address her, old man, I would strongly suggest that you do so with respect, hm?”
“Aye,” Skjorn nodded quickly and tipped his mug, once again. When it came away and Skjorn had daubed the foam from his whiskers, the smile that had disappeared from his leathery features had returned. “Aye,” he repeated, “I’ll be sure ta do tha’.
Fergive me, Lady,” the old sailor regarded Cay again, “I’ve had a long day o’ drinkin’ an’ I’ve fergot me manners…”
“You have heard as much as you have drank, I hope,” Nyx interrupted, lifting a hand to silently summon a serving wench.
“I have,” Skjorn returned, “Tha’s how I knew ye’d be showin’ up, o’ course. Had me a slave sneak his way in here last night lookin’ fer someone ta… er… free ‘im o’ his master… if ye take my meanin’.”
“Indeed,” Nyx spiked a brow, “a slave was it?”
"Mmm...Din't carry 'imself like no free elf an' I can't say's that th' bloke 'e named as 'is master'd 'ave no liberated point-ear in' 'is employ..."
The bubbling sensation that had stayed with her while they rode through the city dropped the moment the old man followed their shadows to the table. The glances they had gotten on the street were not as obvious and she had been wrapped in Nyx’s strong arms, held in his gaze, they were easier to ignore or even to return. This was more personal, the man knew Nyx, or thought he did.
“Death walks, as they says, but, typical, he walks alone… Makes a bloke wond’r wha’ mighta changed in th’ world as th’ storm churned when typical ain’t so, aye?”
Death? No… you don’t know him old man. He is the one thing in this world that makes me feel alive… and that is what has changed, best you take note of it… she thought to herself as her eyes narrowed and she tilted her head down some, letting the shadows under the brim of her hat consume the two boiling points under it. Under the table her fingers, still lingering with the scent of lavender on them, clench down upon the first bit of flesh she finds. For once, however, it is not hers, but Nyx’s.
“For most the world is the same as it was last night, Skjorn,” he said flatly, the words just barely covering the wince at her sudden grip, “Death still walks, alone or otherwise, and those seeking Death still come here to find it, yes?”
“Aye,” Skjorn nodded, “tha’ they does. As I were sayin’, though, t’ain’t typical they’s expectin’ Death in pairs…” His gaze flicked in Cay’s direction, again, then back to the mith’ganni… “Who’s th’ bird, Brother Nyx?”
The eels were turning in her stomach again, trapping her breath in her throat and urging her fingers deeper into Nyx’s thigh as she desperately tried to retain control of herself.
One glance and word old man and your guts can be spilled across this table before you have a chance to take another breath. Two words and I can hear you screaming for mercy before he finishes you. I don’t know and I don’t care if it is wrong or right… it simply is… how dare you-
“My partner,” her thoughts were cut off by Nyx’s growl. “If you must address her, old man, I would strongly suggest that you do so with respect, hm?”
His voice, tainted with the same anger that ate at her, mixed with the feeling of his hand pressing hers more firmly against his leg before disappearing into the shadows where she knew it clasped at a blade allowed her to breathe once more. A slow easy breath that closed her eyes for a moment and relaxed her grip on his leg.
“Aye, I’ll be sure ta do tha’.
Fergive me, Lady,” the old sailor regarded Cay again, “I’ve had a long day o’ drinkin’ an’ I’ve fergot me manners…”
She kept her eyes hidden under the brim of the hat as she turned her head slightly toward Nyx and refused to make eye contact with the old man. Quietly she listened as Nyx coaxed details out of the old man. Which lead to a single name being uttered: “Olsta…”
The shadows lifted and Cay brought her bright amber eyes up to Nyx’s. Leaning over she whispered close to him in a voice loud enough that the mariner could hear, but soft enough that it obvious she did not speak to him but only to ‘Death’, “Olsta? The widower Senator… whom a certain princess and her dead lover were discussing... This unhappy slave might be just what we need…” She stressed the word ‘we’ for the sake of the man across from them, but kept her attention fixed on Nyx.
Cay leaned into him and her voice whispered over his ear like an autumn breeze; the words carried upon it sketched the hint of a shrewd smile onto his lips as his gaze met with hers in that veil of shadows beneath her hat. “Amin n’ruwa ta,” Nyx nodded, affecting the same hushed tone, “the fates of fortune seem, at last, to be twisting in our favor, yes?” Beneath the table, his hand found hers, again, and delicately caressed her slender fingers where they yet rested on his thigh before entwining them in his own.
His gaze reluctantly swept back to Skjorn, then, and, en route, caught sight of the barmaid he had summoned making her approach to their table. “Another flagon for the details, Brother Skjorn,” Nyx offered, “and coin enough to take you through the morrow, if those details are of worth, then?”
The old mariner, his own gaze ticking curiously between Nyx and the woman who accompanied him, seemed to contemplate the deal for a moment and only nodded his assent when the serving girl drew to a stop at their table. “Aye,” he rasped, draining the contents of his mug before banging it down on the table within easy reach of the barmaid, “agreed.”
The terms agreed upon, then, Nyx produced a small pouch from within his coat and placed it on the table between them. Having done so, he turned his eyes to the serving girl and requested the promised refill for Skjorn and a bottle of dark, spiced wine…
Her fingers let go of his thigh when he coaxed them to entwine with his own, leaving a five pointed constellation etched in his skin. She could feel the aged eyes upon her, still questioning her presence. The anger that it stirred in her moments ago was lessening and slowly being replaced with a satisfied enjoyment in ignoring the existence of everyone but the man beside her.
“Food? I’m still starving ithilamin… can you see if they have something sweet?” The autumn breeze played against the pointed tip of his ear as the rest of the woman slid slightly closer to him.
“Perhaps a pastry to keep me sated while you gather up the details on our favorite Senator?”
Nyx nodded his reply to Cay’s request and returned his gaze to the serving wench; “What sort of sweets can be had from your kitchen, edainme?”
“Most any sort that can be had, m’lord,” the girl smiled cordially, “but if you’d care for a recommendation, the bayla, I think, is the best we have. Kuran makes it with the thinnest layers of yufka pastry I’ve ever seen and fills it with chopped nuts and honey… very rich… very good…”
As closely as she was nestled against him, it wasn’t difficult for Nyx to hear the soft rumbling in Cay’s belly that the barmaid’s description had elicited. “Very well,” the mith’ganni said to their server, “a plate of the bayla, as well, then… and two cups for the wine, yes?”
“As you wish,” the girl nodded, already backing away from the table, “I’ll just be a moment.”
The moment the wench had disappeared into the smoke-haze on her way to the bar, Nyx’s eyes slithered back to the ancient sailor. “No need to actually wait for your refill before you tell me more, I hope,” he prodded as his gaze dipped meaningfully to the purse that sat between them on the table.
Skjorn half-smiled/half-scowled at that, his murky green eyes ticking away for a moment as if to verify that the barmaid was, in fact, retrieving the promised ale before he agreed with a nod and brought his gaze back around to the mith’ganni and his woman. “I s’pose not,” he shrugged, “Ye’ll be guaranteein’ th’ usual discr’tion, aye?”
Nyx’s head cocked a bit to one side and he regarded the old man with a reproachful smirk for a long moment. When Skjorn’s expression become no less expectant, the mith’ganni sighed, lifted a finger to his lips and, muttering arcane words under his breath, traced a curious pattern onto the table with that same finger. “Your words of for no ears but mine…” his finger tapped the table in front of him, “and my lady’s…” a tap on the table in front of Cay, “… and your own, Brother Skjorn,” he said with a final tapping of the table before the old man.
As the private conversation spell wove itself around the table, the set of the ancient mariner’s features became more assured.
“Stay where you are and say nothing until after the girl returns and is gone, again,” Nyx cautioned him, “I’ll not assure confidence should you do otherwise.”
The smile stayed on her lips as Nyx took over the details, ordering their food and then closing off their conversation. The familiar tongue of magic rolling over his tongue and into her hair.
So much sweeter than those silvered elven words...
She watched everything out of the corner of her eye, but still managed to keep her attention focused on Nyx. Silently she wondered how much that bothered the old man. If her obvious infatuation with 'Death' combined with her dismissal of him and the altogether mysterious introduction Nyx gave her must be driving him insane. It made her smile and curl up even closer to the assassin.
When the barmaid returned with the warm pastry soaked in honey and nuts she again let Nyx handle the details. She occupied herself with flaking apart the layers of it with her fingers. The layers began to disappear between her lips one at a time while the mariner began to spill his information.
As instructed, Skjorn held his tongue until after the food and drinks had been delivered, watched the barmaid as she departed their table again, and, having assured himself that no undue attentions had turned their way, returned his own to Nyx and the rather enigmatic woman that clung to him… He couldn’t help but wonder who the curious lady might be. Shyndyn’s never worked wit’ a partner… least ways not when ‘e’s come lookin’ fer th’ Executioner’s callin’s, here… an’ while I figger ‘e’s bedded ‘is share o’ wenches, I doesn’t recall ‘im ‘avin’ no interest in one keen enough ta bandy about with ‘er…
“The spell only lasts so long, brother,” Nyx hissed, “tell me of your slave and this task of his.”
“Right… right…” the mariner coughed, the assassin’s voice rousing him from the moment spent wandering in those contemplations and fingering the foam that topped his new mug, “So, come about th’ height o’ last night’s tempest, them winds blows this li’l point-ear in through yon doors, aye?
Even if ye couldn’a seed the brand on ‘is neck, ye could’a telled jus’ by th’ look o’ th’ blighter tha’ he were a slave… th’ way his eyes popped an’ cracked aroun’ th’ place like ‘e were ‘spectin’, any minnit, tha’ some slave-hound er legionnaire were gonna pop outta the woodwork an’ snatch ‘im up… nervous-like an’, unlike most strangers what finds their way ta th’ Albatross, he din’t look’s if ‘e were ‘zactly sure wha’ ta do once he found ‘imself here,” Skjorn took a long pull from his mug, then, wincing as he swallowed the bitter mouthful. “When a bloke comes in lookin’ like tha’, says I, there be business o’ some kind in it, aye?
Knowin’ tha’, I snatches th’ lad unner me wing an’ gets ‘im intr’duced ta th’ way such dealin’s be done…. O’ course, I original thunked ‘e were a runner, aye, so’s I be tellin’ ‘im ‘bout how ta go ‘bout gettin’ ‘isself smuggled onta a ship headin’ out past the Hag’s Teeth…” The old timer paused, indulged in another draught from his mug as his gaze snuck a peek over his shoulder, then leaned conspiratorially forward and, as if he had already forgotten the spell in place to keep his words unheard by others, lowered his voice to a whisper; “…then th’ li’l bunny-humper tells me ‘e ain’t int’rested in ‘scapin’ but more as ‘e’s lookin’ ta have his lord an’ master done in an’ were told by some figger er anoth’r as this were th’ place ta come lookin’ fer such dealin’s…
‘Well, o’ course ‘tis,’ says I.
‘An’ you know o’ some as can do th’ job,’ says he.
‘I knows just th’ bloke as’d be saavy ‘nuff ta han’le it’, says I, ‘an’…”
“Time, Skjorn,” the mith’ganni curtly reminded the mariner, scowling around the rim of the cup of wine that hovered near his pale lips, “I need only know the important details.”
“Right…” The murky green eyes flicked to Death’s Mistress, watched as a layer of the bayla was picked from the plate and lifted to disappear between lips barely visible beyond the shadows cast by the brim of her hat, and, following another swig of ale to slake the dryness in his aged throat, Skjorn nodded faintly and continued on; “Well, ‘e figgered ‘e’d be meetin’ ya right off, I reckon… seemed real eager ta ‘ave someone get set onna mark ere ‘e lef’ th’ place… but I tol’ ‘im it din’t work like tha’… ‘e’d have ta gimme th’ partic’lars an’ I’d be passin’ ‘em on ta them as might be inter’sted an’ someone’d be contactin’ ‘im if such a thing were ta come ‘round.
Tha’ got ‘im bound up good’n tight, lad,” Skjorn snickered, “Got all high-pitched an’ whiney like ‘e were a eunuch er some such. Stared goin’ on ‘bout how th’ Sen’t’r, by gods, had ta get ‘is thread sev’red afore ‘e got ta th’ capit’l at th’ end o’ th’ week, an’ tha’ if’n there couldn’ nobody do it afore then all’d be fer naught an’ ‘the rebellion’d be lost’…”
Rebellion? One of Nyx’s brows raised slightly at that and his moonlight gaze slid quizzically in Cay’s direction…
“There it is,’ Cay murmured softly, licking a bit of honey from her lips as the amber fires of her eyes flashed at him from behind her shadow-veil.
One corner of the mith’ganni’s mouth hitched up into a rather devious smirk at that. Given the bits and pieces he and Cay had already managed to dig up, thus far, Nyx was almost certain that Skjorn’s client had more than a passing connection with Aelion, the Bolstoii princess, and whatever interest Dmitrova had in all of it. He leaned back in his chair, one hand tilting the wine cup to his lips and the other sliding across Cay’s shoulders as his gaze tracked back to the old sailor. He offered a scant nod – though whether in answer to the witch’s murmuring or as an indication for the ancient round-ear to continue, Skjorn wasn’t sure.
“Th’ bloke said,” Skjorn continued after deliberating it for only a second and sucking a few errant drops of ale from his whiskers, “tha’ it’d need look like an’ accident an’, wha’ wit’ th’ time fer plannin’ bein’ so short an’ such, tha’ ‘e really needed a body on it as quick’s poss’ble.
‘Don’ fret,’ I says ta th’ bloke, ‘I be havin’ jus’ th’ shadow in mind, aye?’ An’, knowin’ tha’ ye alw’ys foller th’ storms, Nyx, I tol’ ‘im tha’ ye’d be knowin’ o’ th’ offer this vera evenin’ an’d be comin’ ta call afore th’ sun crawled outta the east t’morra…
Th’ li’l bark-eater weren’t keen on givin’ out no more scuttlebutt once’t I tol’ ‘im tha’, mind ye… Jus’ said tha’, aft’r dark t’night, ye’d be able ta fin’ ‘im down ta th’ cellar back o’ Olsta’s gardens.”
“You told him my price,” Nyx asked.
Skjorn, in mid-swallow, replied with a nod that spilled more than a splash of ale into his beard.
“And he seemed to think he could manage,” Nyx pressed, “even being a slave and having nothing but what his master gives?”
“Aye,” Skjorn belched, soaking the inadvertently spilt ale into the sleeve of his tunic, “more’n one o’ ‘em piecin’ inta the pot, says th’ bloke. They c’n meet yer price an’ go ‘nother fifteen gold past if’n ye c’n meet th’ arr’ngements as they sees ‘em, he says. But if’n ye can’ be doin’ it, they’ll be needin’ ta figger other options…”
“They shan’t need worry about other options, I think,” the assassin grinned, setting his cup down on the table and, at last, nudging the purse closer to Skjorn’s side of the table.
“Jus’ wha’ I tol’ ‘im,” the old mariner nodded enthusiastically, snatching the purse from the table and secreting it away inside the salt-caked folds of his tunic, “jus’ wha’ I tol’ ‘im, indeed.” Skjorn lifted his tankard to his lips, again, and gulped down another hearty draught before offering an appreciative belch and scooting his chair back away from the table.
“I ‘preciate th’ bizness, Brother Nyx,” Skjorn grinned a toothless grin as he swayed upwards into a standing position and patted his tunic in the spot where he had recently stashed his payment, “May th’ Ex’cution’r keep bound yer thread.”
There was a fractional nod from the mith’ganni, then, and a very subtle hardening of his moon-yellow eyes when he answered; “Lord Prien should mind other threads more closely than mine. Good evening, Brother Skjorn.”
The ancient human seemed somewhat baffled, if not altogether taken aback by that reply. He blinked rapidly, the muck-green of his eyes muddying all the more as his gaze skittered back and forth between the elf he knew as ‘The Edge of Prien’s Axe” and this inscrutable sprite who suddenly accompanied him. “Aye,” Skjorn swallowed after a moment, backing slowly away from the table even as he lifted his tankard to his whisker-blinded lips again, “I s’pose mebbe tha’s so… G’evenin’, Brother Nyx…” Skjorn bent slightly at the middle, almost as if attempting something of a bow, when he had backed another step away, and, his ancient gaze came back up to find itself met with the woman’s dismissive glare burning into him… “Lady… Lady… Shyndyn…”
Another two steps staggered backwards seemed to assure the old man that he would be safe in turning around. He did so and, much more quickly and steadily than he had been when he had followed Death and his Mistress to the table, ambled as far away from that table as he could get without actually leaving the Albatross behind… he had a pouch full of Nyx’s gold to spend, after all, and, until he found a place better suited to spend it than the Albatross, he wasn’t keen on going elsewhere…. He thought he knew, now, why T’selika had put word out about him, though… and wondered what the bitch would pay to know what the mith’ganni was up to…
Posted on 2010-03-20 at 14:58:15.
Edited on 2010-03-20 at 16:01:53 by Eol Fefalas
“Lady Shyndyn?” Cay laughs in a hushed whisper as the old man departs from their table. “Well… I do suppose it is better than Ettelenya isn’t it?”
His twined moons danced over a wide grin as he slid a finger down the line of her jaw. “You know, I have always been curious about that name. It is not a common surname…”
Slowly her head shakes and as she lowers it to his shoulder her eyes close as well. “No… it is not a surname, common or otherwise. Half breed infants abandoned on the side of a road don’t have families to give them surnames… they are simply called Ettelenya until they give themselves first names.”
The length of his arm curled around her and pulled her tightly against him. “I’m sorry Cayrimsa…”
“Don’t be sorry for something you did not do.”
She felt his fingers on her chin then, lifting her head off his shoulder before he ducked under the brim of her hat and pressed his lips firmly against her own. The gentlest of moans escaped from her at the reminder that it would not be like that anymore. To him she was not ettelen.
When he pulled back his fingers, bearing a layer of the bayla, replaced his lips. Laughing she took the offered pastry.
“You are welcome to all I have, including my name…”
The effervescent feeling returned, and under his gaze she brightened. “As I’ve already had your body…” she winked before leaning in and pressing her honeyed lips to his again, “I think I’ll go for your contract next…”
Her words garnered a spark in his eyes accompanied by a surprised laugh. “We should first get all the details on that contract then love…”
“Of course… and then… back to your place.”
His brow arched and he grinned, “My place? Have you brought your pillow?”
“No… but my place is likely being watched. Besides, can’t I just use you?”
Another bright grin was sent her direction before he nodded. She smiled back, marveling at how natural all of this felt, and how perfectly wonderful that was.
* * *
In the hours that had gone by since they left ‘The Blue Dove Inn’ she had begun to fully understand the magnitude of her growing addiction for him. Over time this might dull as she became accustomed to him. For now, though, it was still too new and she needed a fix.
He followed behind her through the crack in the wall of his crypt. In the shadows she could hear his voice, still debating some details of how they would fulfill the contract he had just accepted: a senator.
After finishing their wine and sweets at the Albatross, under the occasional scrutiny of the old man who had tipped them off to the new job, they had made their way to Olsta’s gardens. As expected the slave was waiting. Again she left the talking to Nyx, although little needed to be said. He had quickly spilled the details before them, quiet obviously relieved to finally be getting this meeting over with. Olsta would be leaving with a small band of others, mainly servants but a few others of noble blood, in three days for the capitol. He was currently settling the affairs related to his wife’s recent death.
The job would prove to be dangerous no doubt, but she could not concentrate on the details of the job. Instead her mind buzzed with the memories of the voice that was now considering blood loss purring her name into her neck.
The moment the shadowed assassin pulled up to his full height again the witch pressed herself against him and bore him back against the crumbling wall. One set of fingers began to dance across the buckles of his jacket as the other set tossed her hat to the floor. The only light in the room were the amber coals that flashed at him wantonly.
Rising onto her toes she touched his cheek as she cut off his words with her lips. The lights went out and she breathed him in. His kiss alone made her dizzy, but his firm arms were wrapping around her and holding her in the kiss and so she let herself get lost in it.
When their hearts pounded with desire the kiss enflamed and their bodies ached to be freed of the clothing separating them she pulled back with a gasp. Falling back to her heels she took half a step back and looked up at him with lidded eyes. A smile spread across her face as she pulled the rubied dagger from his side. The blackened point of it drew up against the heavy padding of his coat, just over his stomach.
“Your preferred weapon correct? May I borrow it?”
The blade moved a few inches up his torso, into the opening of his coat and slid under one of the buckles. Her slender fingers curled around the hilt tightly and with a flick of her wrist she pulled the dagger out, it cut through the material holding the buckle in place easily. Her smile widened and she watched him with her playful eyes as the dagger moved up his body toward the next buckle.
“I know this job needs to look like an accident, but… I’d like to use this” her eyes ticked down to the blade a moment before she went on, “on the senator…” The next buckle opened and she continued her ascent up his torso with the weapon.
“I’ve never really killed on purpose before…” As the blade inched up toward the third buckle her other hand slid inside the opening coat and toyed against his stomach through the thin tunic.
“You would help me though, wouldn’t you?” The third buckle gave way and the blade inched up his chest, drawing closer to his neck. She breathed deeply, staring up into his eyes as the blade severed that last buckle and then came to rest against his neck.
She let it linger there a moment, biting her bottom lip as she listened to him breathe deeply. Then carefully she drew the poisoned blade across his throat, a hairs breadth from actually spilling his blood, “Help me make my first real kill?”
The deep pleased growl that served as his response while he reached up and firmly grabbed her wrist, twisting the dagger back into his possession, lit her face with a brilliant smile.
Despite the events of the day just past, the assassin’s mind had, necessarily, been turned towards business after having left the Albatross behind and meeting with the Olstas cook-elf. He would have much preferred to lose himself in the delightful distraction that Cay had become, of course, but, given the promises he had made to her and the plans he needed to set in motion to bring those promises to fruition, Nyx’s attentions couldn’t afford to veer from his deliberations of this contract… The mark was high value, the time frame in which to prepare and, then, cleanly execute the contract to the principal’s satisfaction was extremely short, and Imperial scrutiny was sure to be a measure above standard considering recent happenings in Drasnia and the purported seriousness (at least where non-humans were concerned) behind Senator Olsta’s trip to the capitol….
Work to be done and preparations to be made, Nyx had mused more than once in the last couple of hours, and with scarcely enough time for even the preparations… Each time, though, he had stopped short of invoking Prien’s guidance or even opinion, despite the fact that he knew the god still waited… and watched.
…If the information and background that the skittish little wood-elf, Rinril, had provided (willingly or otherwise) was even close to what it seemed, though, bringing the contract to a successful close would, surely, provide a sturdy foundation on which Nyx could build. The connections between this job and the one that Dmitrova had set he and Cay on just days ago had been easily presumed based upon the information they had gotten from Skjorn, and solidly confirmed (if only in a roundabout fashion) upon meeting with the client. Making good on the requirements of the senator’s execution would certainly go a long way towards him and Cay worming their way even deeper into those underlying machinations. These were the thoughts that occupied the mith’ganni’s mind as he and Cay, at last, made their way back to his crypt. Some of those thoughts, too, had found their way from mind to mouth as they had found themselves in the still and silence of the night-mantled necropolis…
“If standard protocol is followed,” Nyx was thinking aloud as he slid the stones away from the secret entrance to the mausoleum and watched Cay slip inside, “the Senator’s cavalcade will proceed along the Imperial Highway as opposed to the Tradeway between here and Ellis East. The best location to hit them, then, would be where the road winds along the cliffs north of Levka…”
Cay’s boots disappeared into the crypt and Nyx’s gaze panned across the graveyard before he followed her in. “…it should be easily enough done to set the entire caravan toppling into the sea below if we can manage to get a decent enough lead,” he continued, as he crawled into the murk of the chamber and rose to his feet, “Managing to get that lead, though, will be a…”
The thought was lost and the words died on his lips, replaced by a slightly surprised but nonetheless pleased smile, in the instant that Cay pressed against him and backed him to the cool stone wall. The mith’ganni’s mind found other words to speak as the half-elven witch tossed her hat aside with one hand and set the other to climbing his stomach and chest. Those words, too, were silenced before they could be born into the air between them as her eyes flashed with a libidinous spark, her hand whispered over his cheek, and her lips fell hungrily onto his… What need are there for words, anyway, he thought, his arms snaking around her, hands wandering and pulling her tighter to him as he fell into the lustful passion of that kiss.
Before long, the only thoughts playing through his mind were those hot and hungry ones that concerned peeling the burlap dress from her, once again, and the things he would do with the treasures he found beneath. As his hands slid over the curve of her backside and proceeded lower, intent on finding the hem of that garment and lifting it higher, though, Cay broke the kiss with a breathless gasp and rocked back a bit to make a bit of space between their anxious bodies. A tremulous sigh whispered over his lips, then, and his tongue followed, savoring the taste of her that yet lingered on them as his own hooded eyes met hers.
A slow smile spread on his lips as her hand feathered over his stomach and, then, arched a mildly curious brow as her fingers closed on the hilt of the black-bladed dagger at his hip. “Your preferred weapon, correct,” she purred, drawing the thing from its sheath, “May I borrow it?”
The assassin’s smile and fractional nod wordlessly repeated the sentiment he had expressed to her some hours ago at the Albatross… You are welcome to all I have… including my name…… even as the witch stroked it’s blade over the padding of his coat and slipped it into the opening just beneath the lowest buckle that kept the garment closed. His own hands had slithered their way back to her hips and lingered there, his moon-hued eyes glowing with curiosity and, perhaps, a bit of mirth as they danced between her eyes and the razor-honed blade that had just rendered that first buckle useless…
“I know this job needs to look like an accident,” Cay continued, her smile and her gaze playful as she did, “but… I’d like to use this…” her eyes ticked down to the blade a moment before she went on, “…on the senator…” The next buckle opened and she continued her ascent up his torso with the weapon.
Nyx’s smile emulated hers, then, and as she proceeded upwards with the blade, the alabaster hands that had rested on her hips also climbed higher, feathering over her waist and tracing along her ribs…
“I’ve never really killed on purpose before…”
The confession was unnecessary as far as Nyx was concerned. He had been watching Cay long enough to have learned where her lines were drawn and, since that night not so long ago when Dmitrova had first assigned them to work together with the DeMoria demons, Cayrimsa, herself, had often found occasion where she saw fit to remind him that, unlike him, she was no killer… And to taunt the Twin with the fact that it took both of them to do what you do alone… He offered no challenge to her admission, though; merely smiled a wolfish smile as the blade of the dagger slid towards the last remaining buckle on his coat and her other hand slipped into the now open folds of the garment to play across his stomach.
“You would help me though, wouldn’t you,” Cay breathed as that last buckle was severed. Her molten amber eyes lifted to meet his, burning past the iridescent yellow of the moons that reflected them and into his soul as she drew in an almost euphoric breath. In her grasp, the poisoned blade traced, in a decidedly sensuous manner, higher past the sundered strap and came to rest against his neck…
Very near where she nicked me with it just the other night, Nyx noted as he continued to smile and let himself blister in the fire of her gaze. His hands had drawn near the top of her ribcage, now, and teased across the side-swell of her breasts before flitting away to light delicately on her arms. He absorbed her face as she chewed on her lip and slowly began to trace the blade across his throat and inhaled a slow, confident breath that came back out as a low purr when he felt the razor-keen edge gliding over his skin, only a whisper away from opening flesh.
…“Help me make my first real kill?”
When he realized that she was serious and that the comment she had made earlier in the night about ‘taking his contract’ was not the joke he had believed it to be at the time, the purr in the assassin’s throat swelled into a deep, libidinous growl, and he could no longer contain himself. The fingers that had been gliding delicately along Cay’s forearm while she teased him with his own blade, now closed on her wrist and expertly wrested the dagger back into his own grip while his other hand lashed out to wrap around her and haul her roughly against him… “Oh, but of course I will help you,” he rumbled, unclasping her cloak with a deft flick of the rubied dagger’s tip. The scarlet cloak fell to the cold, stone floor of the tomb and, before the fabric was finished pooling at her heels, Nyx had reversed their positions with a trained pivot… he felt her heart pounding in her chest as he pinned her between himself and the wall… smiled at the faint moan she made when he traced the dagger’s point across her lips and whispered; “I shall show you ways of killing so quickly and silently that he will be dead before even the gods know it… show you ways to sever his thread that ensure you hear a symphony of his screams as he dies…”
The ebon blade of the dagger danced away, then – somehow, in one fluid motion, undoing the narrow belt that hung on her hips and returning to its sheath with a staccato rasp – and the whisper of steel on her lips was replaced by the faint touch of his.
“…But first,” he growled from behind a decidedly tantalizing grin, “I want you to scream for me, my wicked little round-ear…”
And he lived up to that challenge, unleashing his raw passion against her until he coaxed his name off her lips. It rebounded off the walls of the crypt in a sweet chorus while their bodies and souls again melted together.
Finally the crashing tidal waves of their passions tossed them spent upon the sarcophagus.
“What… what was that… you were… saying… about the Imperial… Imperial Highway?” Cay whispered in heavy breaths from the warm enclosure of Nyx’s arms.
“I’m sure… I don’t remember… now…” his heavy breath returned against what was left of her ears.
“Sorry…” she laughed lightly. “Just couldn’t help myself. Do you think you will remember in the morning? I’m afraid you have worn me out…”
The kiss he rested against her ear sent a tingle down her spine, “Then sleep Cay, we will begin working out the details of your first kill tomorrow… mela en’caiamin quell kaima…”
Nodding out a yawn she began to do just that. Vaguely she was aware of him shifting under her, pulling a discarded cloak up over them. His fingers ran through her hair and she knew he was not sleeping but simply watching over her while she drifted.
Bloody elves and their trances… she thought with a smile. My bloody elf though…
Musings on how simple this had become the moment she had accepted it into the scarred remains of her heart carried her into the darkness of sleep. The darkness kept her wrapped in a blanket of dreamless bliss until the first grey fingers of dawn were teasing at the sky. Only then did she shift against her elf, an unconscious attempt to stop the voice that pierced through her sleep.
Kill him! The voice of Death had commanded over the screams.
It was a familiar dream, and she felt only the normal discomfort the memory brought back to her with it. The bluish white frame of the elf writhed on the ground screaming at her feet. The black of his blood in the moonlight ran streaks across his body as it seeped from the side of his head. Somewhere in the grass what was left of ear would be sitting, but she still could not find it.
Kill him… the voice repeated with a purr.
She turned her eyes to the sky, searching out the stars, or the moon that cast its unearthly glow upon her and the elf who still screamed. The sky was dark, though, a cloak of shadows that offered no hope.
He deserves it for what he has done. Kill him. Stop his weak screaming and cut off the pleas for mercy that come from him. Severe his thread, Cayrimsa… become MY mistress…
She considered it. He did deserve it. She could end the screaming that echoed through her brain and sit in silence, spreading her body before the darkness of the sky and submit to the voice that coaxed her. While she thought about it a black dagger with a red ruby buried in the hilt appeared in her hands.
“Such a beautiful weapon… you should be honored to be sent to the underworld by such a work of art…” She grinned as she turned and descended upon the man in the grass.
The blade disappeared into the soft pale flesh. Blood welled up around the hilt and the screams rose in the night around her. Hands reached up to stop her from attacking again and in the scream words were heard.
“Please… don’t… don’t do this… please…” Shaking her head she crawled over the body and pinned the wrists down to its sides with her knees. Bathed in blood and moonlight she rose above the elven figure, taking control of him with a delighted ecstasy.
“Stop screaming!” She commanded then as she yanked the blade from the body. Blood flew off the blade as she did, arching in the air and splashing across the grass. With every pounding beat of her heart she brought the blade down again, and again. Vaguely she heard the bones crushing, the organs collapsing and filling with blood as she kept stabbing at the man below her. A familiar heat rose up from her loins as she slickened with the dark blood and felt the life begin to fade from her victim.
The screams died down to muffled gasps, “elen.. en… cormamin…”
Over them, starting low and quiet, though, a laugh had begun. Delighted cackling that grew as the gasps stretch further apart, and then erupted loudly in her mind when they stopped.
“Now? Might I be Death’s Mistress now?” she whispered in the dark to the voice.
Take a look and see my pet…
Grinning with satisfaction she stopped her assault and let her amber eyes rove over her accomplishment. The deep wounds still bleeding in the chest gave way to the twisted face of the man she had killed. His eyes were still open and stared at her, two dull yellow moons.
“No…” she whispered over the body and started to tremble. Her eyes lowered and she looked down at her blood stained fingers, holding Nyx’s blade in their grip. Her hand ran out of focus as she gazed at the gaping wounds she had caused, as she looked at the bloody fingerprints his fingers had dug into her calves while he struggled for his life.
“No… no no no…” she repeated as the blade dropped from her fingers and onto the body of its owner. Leaning over she sought out the face of the man she loved, pulling him up off the damp grass and into her arms. Her pleas stopped as she brought her lips to his and found that the breath of his soul no longer lingered upon them.
“Oh… Nyx… please, please come back!” Still sitting in his lap she pulled him fully against her, cradling his head against her breast as she curled her body around his and screamed into the empty sky.
“What have you made me do!?”
I made you do nothing… you wanted to do it Cayrimsa… Prien cooed and let his words sooth her bleeding soul like salt.
The stillness of the coming dawn was shattered as she bolted up, the last cry that had been wrenched from her soul still bitter upon her lips. Desperately she searched in the dark for Nyx, finding only discarded clothing at first her heart kept thrashing in her chest.
“Nyx…” A strangled cry in the dark called to him, followed by a relieved gasp as she felt his arms wrap around her, pulling her chilled and clammy curves up against the familiar scarred warmth of his body. Fingers ran along his chest, pleased to find it whole and unbleeding. She brought her ear to his heart and let its reassuring beats calm her, ignoring his questions.
“Then sleep, Cay,” Nyx whispered, his lips brushing over the scarred top of her ear and his arms cradling her to him as the sorceress’ head settled on his chest, “we will begin working out the details of your first kill tomorrow… mela en’coiamin quel kaima…”
Cay yawned softly, her breath trailing in soft currents over his skin, and he smiled when she wordlessly nodded her response and curled herself around him. The spent and (for the time) sated aspect of that smile would have been obvious to any who may have seen it, of course… not that there were any, here, but he, she, and the dead to see it… but less obvious would have been the tones of happiness and true contentment that melded into that expression. As pleasant as those feelings were, though, it had been quite some time since either of those had managed to work their way into any honest manifestation on Nyx’s visage let alone into the cold, blackness of his heart and soul and, as he held Cay tenderly in his arms, running his fingers through the tousled auburn spill of her hair, and watched her drift off into slumber, those same pleasant sensations were also somehow disconcerting… unfamiliar and almost unsettling after so many years of having cared for no one else other than himself…
But it has not been that long, has it, his inner voice queried as Nyx let loose of Cay just long enough to draw a discarded cloak over them, The hours and days and years that you have spent following her… watching her… punishing those who may have hurt her… none of that was because you cared for her, I suppose?
The witch’s breathing had slowed, deepened, and become rhythmically even… a sound the assassin recognized as that of contented slumber… and, shifting a bit beneath her and wrapping her lovingly in his arms as he allowed his own eyes to close, Nyx nodded his acquiescence.
Where would I be,he mused, nuzzling into her hair, …where would webe… had I known it for what it was then, yes?
It was not the time, the voice answered, neither she nor you were ready. Your question, Nyx, should be ‘where will you go now that are more than just Prien’s servant … now that you have more than nothing’?
Well, Nyx chuckled, tomorrow I shall have to visit the Dreamweaver and see about that new coat… Cay’s bladework has surely ruined the one I have… the rest, I suppose, I will have to meditate upon, yes?
He knew where he would start, of course – this contract for Olsta’s thread would, certainly, lead deeper into whatever it was that had piqued Dmitrova’s interest in Bolstoii’s dealings – but where this path might lead thereafter, only the stars would be able to tell him for sure. The stars are mine, now, though, he smiled, moon-hued eyes opening a fraction to regard the woman he held in his arms, and they tell me they want Vadim’s head… that, then, is where I shall take them, first…
Nyx divided the remaining hours between lulling his mind into the restful contemplation of the reverie and – when an unfamiliar sound in the night around the crypt roused him or the murmurings of a dark laughter invaded his meditations – watching, caressing, and imagining a future with the sorceress who slept alongside him and, aside from shifting his position to accommodate a change in Cay’s, he scarcely moved for the entirety of the night. Having wiled away the darkest hours with Cayrimsa cradled against him had, in truth, provided him with the most restful night he had enjoyed in decades; the few hours he had spent in the reverie had refreshed him…I did not even miss watching the stars… and those other hours spent watching the sleeping witch had inspired him… because I held them in my arms.
As the night waned and the need for rest faded with it, the same tranquility and insight provided by those dark and still hours had begin to stoke the embers of the Twilight Elf’s restless spirit... If there are to be more nights like this one, melamin, he smiled softly as his fingertips found her cheek and his lips found her forehead, there is work to be done and preparations to be made, yes?…And that thought brought his mind back to the Olsta contract – for surely that is where the key to this new beginning would be found – and to the preparations that had yet to be made for that… and to the urgency of making those preparations lest the critical timing of the thing be thrown off and the entire venture rendered useless as a result…
“As tempting as the thoughts of casting aside another day in favor of your attentions may be, elen en cormamin,” he whispered, kissing her again before delicately untangling himself from her embrace, “I fear that this will not be that day… I have much to do if I am to give you what you want…” His eyes lingered on her for a moment longer before he slipped from the top of the sarcophagus upon which they had slept, tracking away only when his feet found the cold stone of the crypt’s floor.
After drawing the cloak back over Cay’s sleeping form and tucking it around her, Nyx found his pants and one of his blades amidst the chaos of their discarded clothing. It was only when he had stooped to retrieve these things and was in the midst of pulling his pants on that he noticed that he had neglected, last night, to return the stones which typically concealed his entrance to the mausoleum to their proper places before succumbing to his desires for the witch. He gave a slow shake of his head, his expression half a smile and half a reproachful smirk, as he fastened his pants and slipped the blade into the waistband… Another something to plan for, I suppose, he mused, crouching before the still exposed entrance, a place for the two of us to go which is more easily accessed and defended… He slipped outside, then, and made a quick patrol around the mausoleum to ensure that, despite the stones having been left out of place all night, nothing was amiss.
Moments later, the mith’ganni had slithered back into the small tomb and was sliding the last of the loose stones back into its proper place when he heard Cay begin to stir… a warm smile had begun to form on his lips until he realized that her stirrings weren’t the warm and rested kind with which those who had slept soundly most often awakened but, instead, a frantic, almost panicked bolting into physical wakefulness while the mind still was trapped in the wake of some horrid nightmare…
“Nyx…” the smile faded as quickly as it had appeared when a strangled cry in the dark called to him.
…The last of the secret entrance’s stones was still rasping into place when the mith’ganni was, once again, back on top of the sarcophagus and gathering the unsettled Cayrimsa back into his arms.
“Shhhh,” he whispered even before she had come completely up and, finding him there, nestled her face against his chest, “I have not left you, a’melamin.
Shhhh,” he said again, wrapping himself around her, holding her tightly, and, perhaps without realizing it, rocking her gently until her breathing slowed a bit. Nyx couldn’t help but wonder why she trembled against him… couldn’t figure out why her fingers had clutched at him the way they had… couldn’t reckon why she seemed so cold when even he had come out of his rest feeling warmer than he could ever have remembered. “What troubles you, my love,” he asked after a moment, his tone as soft as his previous whispers and as delicate as the fingers that toyed in her hair as he cradled her head.
She didn’t answer but to sigh heavily and hold him all the tighter. He felt the muscles in her face as, pressing one tattered ear to the pale flesh that shielded his heart, Cay’s lips formed an almost relieved smile while, simultaneously, her eyes scrunched tighter as if she fought against tears welling in them.
He huddled himself around her and kissed the top of her head and, in silence, continued to cradle her until her breaths had become even more regulated. “Lle tyava quel?” he asked after a few moments.
Nyx felt it as her cheeks hitched up, her lips forming a weak smile against his skin, then, and, between his heart and his hand, her head nodded slowly… just once… but she still said nothing.
“Lle tanaka?” Again, he felt her features shift against him as the witch’s smile strengthened in it’s certainty and felt her head move between heart and hand as she reaffirmed with a similar nod.
“I’m fine, ithilamin,” she said, finally, her anxious hold on him relenting a bit but not falling away completely, “An old memory. A bad dream. Nothing more.”
“Amin rangwa,” he replied, also relenting his firm hold on her as he felt her pull away from him a bit, and turn those limpid amber eyes up to his. Something in the tome of her words, though, made him skeptical as to whether or not he truly understood… dreams were not something he was accustomed to, after all, and, only recently had he even experienced one, himself… Whether he understood or not, though, was beside the point; the same tone in her voice that had made him skeptical as to the candor of her reply also bespoke the fact that it was not a topic she was open to discussing at length…
“I will always be here when those dreams chase you into wakefulness, elen en cormamin,” he relinquished the need to know what dream might have troubled her so at that moment, his fingers stroking lovingly over her cheek as he gazed into her eyes, “sina amin vesta lle.”
She looked back up into his eyes, seeing them for a moment as she had in her dream, pale and lifeless. Unless he gets his way… but not at my hand Nyx, sina amin vesta lle…
The light flooded back into his eyes for her and she offered a small smile before a kiss.
“We have a lot to do…” she whispered finally. “I can mend your coat if you get it for me… and my dress…” The light sparking in her eyes again as she recalled the previous night. “We got a little carried away I think.”
“Don’t worry about it. Taellyn was working on a new coat for me… might be able to pick something up for you as well, something a bit nicer than that bit of burlap.”
“You seem to like what is under that burlap just fine… and it serves its purpose. You had no idea what was hiding under it at first did you? Would you like all of Drasnia to be aware of this body?” A sultry little smile passed her lips as she pulled herself out from under his cloak and let his very much alive eyes devour the sight.
“I thought you said we had things to do…” He leaned in with a growl.
“We do…” flashing a grin she pushed him back.
“Come love, you’ve followed me for years you knew that -“ her words cut off though as he rose from her side and turned his back to her.
“Nyx… how long have you followed me?”
The mith’ganni hesitated for an instant, an almost sheepish smile flitting across his lips when she posed that question. He knew, of course, that, at some point, he would have to tell her everything – how many years it had been that he had been her shadow, how many of her victims had become his, and how many of those who had victimized her had, also, died at his hands – but, for whatever reason, Nyx hadn’t been exactly prepared to answer that particular query just now… “Ten… perhaps fifteen years,” he murmured, finally, “possibly longer…”
“When did you have this done?” the casual banter left her voice as it dropped to a serious whisper. Fingertips graced the small of his back then tucked into the waist band of his pants pulling him back. When he stopped his retreat her fingers stretched across his skin, tracing the slightly raised red lines that tangled along the base of his spine.
Have what done? A puzzled expression fell across his features as he glanced back, his eyes first finding hers and then dropping to try and see whatever it was she was referring to… The positioning of whatever it was over the base of his spine would have made it nearly impossible for him to see even if Cay’s fingers hadn’t been tracing over it…he felt the subtly raised skin beneath her fingertips as she traced over it, became suddenly aware of the mildly irritating tingle of the flesh beneath (a sensation much like a scrape or friction burn might leave behind), and caught fleeting glimpses of twisting, crimson lines in the periphery of his vision but he couldn’t quite twist his head around far enough to make out the entirety of the design…
“I know these lines… the roots of my tree…”
Your tree? On my back? “Mani?” His own fingers, now, reached back and sought out the spot on his back where Cay’s were wandering and felt the pattern that had, apparently, etched itself into his skin sometime in the past day, “Manke tanya tuula?”
Her voice barely filled the space between them. “Nyx?”
“Amin n’sinta, Cayrimsa,” he replied, the puzzlement displayed on his expression finding its way into his voice as his fingers fell away from his back. Nyx found one of his kukri amidst the tangle of discarded clothing, slid it from its sheathe and, using his pants-leg, quickly burnished away a few streaks of weapon black that still clung to the blade before holding the thing behind his back and angling it so that he might catch a glimpse of what was apparently a tattoo reflected in the steel. When he managed to tilt the blade properly and, as a result, saw the design in its entirety, his eyes widened all the more and he looked even more confused… As Cay had just indicated, the artful tangle of red lines were so close in appearance to the roots of the tree that graced the tapestry over her bed that they looked like she could have woven them into his skin herself… For the flickering of an instant, he was wont to accuse her of doing exactly that – branding him in the night, somehow… with her magic, perhaps – but, he was just as quick to dismiss the thought… She had slept the night through, after all, and, had she woken even when Nyx himself had been lost in the reverie, she would have stirred him, as well…
“Ten… fifteen?” she muttered under her breath but the thoughts were lost as she watched him with just as confused a look as her own examine his back with the reflection in his blade.
“What do you mean you don’t know? That’s my tree Nyx. And I would like to know what it is doing on your back.” She leaned back in to touch it, letting her fingers trail slightly up his spine where the flesh was not marked.
“I mean just that, Cay,” Nyx retorted, his eyes ticking from where they studied the tattoo reflected in his blade to the amber orbs that flashed up at him when she demanded an explanation, “I do not know where that might have come from nor do I know when it may have appeared there… I have never even entertained the notion of a tattoo… Had I any idea where it came from, melamin, I would tell you.”
Simultaneously, their gazes abandoned the point where they had recently met and returned to their individual scrutiny of the blood-hued etching, his eyes watching as her fingers traced curiously over the lines and then, as if sketching out where the trunk of that tree should issue upwards from the roots, proceeded a bit higher along his spine… The witch gasped when the tattoo did, in fact, follow the line suggested by her finger and the knot-work of the roots produced the beginnings of the tree’s trunk… The assassin, too, was rather surprised when, provoked by her touch, the tattoo expanded – his moon-colored eyes widened and one brow spiked a bit higher – but, when it happened, Nyx couldn’t help but let an almost amused grin curl the corners of his mouth… He had felt the thing grow, as well as seen it, and, the sensation was very much unlike what he would have imagined it should have been. Rather than the sensation of needles pricking deep into his flesh and carving an extension of the design into his skin that he might have expected there was, instead, a warm, soothing (and, oddly, somewhat empowering) buzz shot through not just the spot where the tattoo had just grown but his entire being… it was a feeling very similar to that which surged through him when he called upon the limited magic to which he had access…
“Nyx… I swear… I’m not doing that,” Cay protested, her hand balling into a fist as it flew away from the new streak of scarlet, “Not on purpose. I’ve never done anything like that; I’ve always used the Bedine coin… I…” Her mouth went dry and her eyes moved from his back to the ruined coat on the floor, staring down into the dark holes of Prien’s eyes.
Things are more complicated than you had thought… the voice called in her head.
Slowly she tore her eyes from Prien’s and brought them up to Nyx, only to find him smiling.
…The mith’ganni’s smile brightened just a bit and, as he turned to face her again, he set the kukri he had been using as a mirror aside and took hold of the hand she had just withdrawn. “I think, perhaps, you are, a’melamin,” he purred as his fingers attempted to caress the tension from her fist, “even if it is unintentional…” his other hand reached out to cup her chin and lift her eyes to his, again… “You are meant for me, Cayrimsa, and I for you… This, I think, does nothing but prove what we both have denied all this time…”
This is all too much… too soon.
Her bright amber eyes simply looked up into his. Under his caress her fingers trembled slightly.
How can you be pleased, Nyx? How!? That’s my tree! Growing on your back… and he knows, and he’s unhappy about it. Nyx we’ve upset your God. Yesterday I was alone. Alone… perhaps you walked in my shadow, but I did not know… I worried about me and only me. Now this. The confessions, the passion (and by the Gods despite that it broke every principle I have ever lived by that alone has been worth it, for truly I was not complete until yesterday afternoon, and if fate is so wicked as to deem this should not last I shall always cherish that memory), the contract, the dream… and now my tree… I want this. I do. But things have moved so quickly… My life has become filled with you so quickly it hurts.
Slowly she nodded to him, praying that her eyes did not reveal her thoughts. “I suppose…”
I need to do something, I’ll go insane if I keep thinking like this…
“We have a long day though… we should get moving.” Quietly spoken as she pulled her hand from his and without waiting for a response moved out of his reach and began to get dressed.
Posted on 2010-04-21 at 15:15:05.
Edited on 2010-04-21 at 15:17:36 by Merideth
There was an overlong pause while Cay seemed to ponder his words (and, perhaps, even his reaction to the appearance of the tree). As he held her gaze, watching the fires flicker and dance in those uncertain eyes, he felt the tattoo grow all the more… and he smiled when she, at last, nodded and lied; “I suppose…”
There was a sense of trepidation held forcibly at bay in her unusually soft words… and in her eyes… What it was that bothered her about all of this, Nyx couldn’t be sure… Is it that, to her, all of this… we two… seems to have happened in the blink of an eye? Surely, melamin, you know by now that I have been with you longer than you might have thought…
“We have a long day, though,” she almost whispered as she pulled away from him and turned to gather her things, “we should get moving.”
“I suppose,” the mith’ganni answered with a nod fainter than the smile that still played on his pale lips. Despite his agreement, though, he found that, for a moment, he was unable to do anything other than watch her rummage through the piles of clothing and gear that had been carelessly tossed aside the night before and wonder at the apprehension that tinged her manner this morning when there seemed to have been none before she had succumbed to sleep… Mayhaps, you think I should be more concerned about this, lirimaer, he mused, his fingers reaching back to touch the crimson tree that had begun to etch itself along his spine, as his moon-colored eyes watched her pull the burlap sack-dress from amidst the chaos of discarded clothing on the crypt’s floor…
And, perhaps, I do have a bit more concern than I allow you to see… I understand this even less than you might, after all… but, if it is meant to…
… Cay clucked her tongue and sighed in exasperation when she lifted her dress and found it in no condition to be worn, plucking the mith’ganni from his quiet contemplation and freeing his gaze from where it had been locked on the witch’s back. A wicked smile worked on the assassin’s lips as those yellow eyes slithered to the slit and shredded remnants of the garment and then back to meet her sidelong gaze. “This is why, melamin,” he chuckled softly, stooping to retrieve his coat from the floor before padding towards her, “blade-play and foreplay are usually separate activities, yes?”
When she cast a glance over her shoulder, Cay’s lips twitched as if a smile of her own might crack the scowl on her lips but, instead, the smile was quashed (even if the scowl had melted a bit) and Nyx’s jest was swept aside with a rolling of her amber eyes.
“Here,” still chuckling, Nyx slipped his coat over her shoulders, “this will keep you covered better than what is left of that dress, I think.” He pulled her hair free from where it had gotten trapped under the collar of the bulky garment and kissed her ear again before letting her tresses fall from his fingers.
There was a bit less frustration in the sigh that passed her lips when she let the ruined dress fall from her hands and worked her slender arms into the sleeves of Nyx’s coat. When she turned to face him, there was at least the hint of a smile on her features. “Only if I can manage to keep it closed,” she smirked, fingering the severed end of one of the leather straps that still clung to the front of the garment.
“Blade-play,” an amused Nyx repeated from behind a smirk as he reached behind his head with both hands and unfastened the clip that held his hair in place. The mith’ganni’s ever-present mane disappeared as the long, ebon locks spilled free of the clip and tumbled over the assassin’s shoulders and down his back, the ends of the now freed hair brushing over the knotted roots of the tree at the base of his spine. “Here,” he said, shaking a long stream of locks away from his face as his nimble fingers closed the front of the coat Cay now wore and fastened the thing shut using the silver and bone-toothed comb, “that will hold it long enough to get from here to the Dreamweaver’s, at any rate.”
((OOC: Well, if we're not "back" we're at least on our way... More to come, of course... just figured I'd post this bit up before I forgot (again)... Feel free to pick up from here and run with it if you feel up to it, Meri-luv... If not, I should have another installment very soon... just have to finish up re-reading some of the earlier posts and a few of our notes, first. ))
Vergal Sea Port
His grey robes and quiet demeanor had earned him the name ‘Mouse’ but he had always felt that was not really the best fit. ‘Rat’ might have been more appropriate, or perhaps ‘Eel’ but ‘Mouse’ it was. It worked better than his real name.
His mother would have been mortified if her son’s actions had been attached to the family name in any way. At times, however, he secretly contemplated doing just that, if only to take her closer to the edge of her grave.
Right now though his mother was far from his thoughts. Instead he was focused entirely on the woman who called this wretched little space her home. The ‘Wharf Witch’ as she was called. Success in Drasnia usually demanded more than simple magical ability. Only a few could rise up out of the sludge due to their arcane skills. Brute force, the correct friends and laying claim to very few moral hang ups usually could overpower even skilled magicians. His own climb had been tenuous, and he had started several rungs higher than this witch. Yet he had watched her begin her ascent. If anyone else in Drasnia was capable of being an adversary to him it was this woman.
I wonder if she recognizes that… he thought to himself, Well… let’s find out.
He brushed the canvas flap covering the door and stepped inside the little apartment with the gentle rush of bells following him. All night he had stood across the street, waiting for her to return home, but she had not so he knew the place would be empty.
Standing on the threshold of her space he was momentarily overwhelmed by the strength of her presence even when she was not there. Closing his eyes he could smell her as if she stood next to him, the offal of fish with the under tow of brine and caustic salts. Opening them he could almost see her moving about the room, sitting before the loom in the moonlight, sleeping under the coarse covers piled on the floor, rummaging through the odds and ends on the shelves, heating up the coin on the lantern…
“And what are you doing here without your mistress?” he cooed at the object that sat quietly atop the lantern.
“She has been strangely distracted, yet more pointedly alert than usual, something is amiss I realize. However to have left you behind she must be greatly out of sorts.” Mouse whispered the words as he stepped across the dusty planks to her bed.
His grey robes spread out over the floor as he crouched down and picked the coin up between his soft fingers. The well worn Bedine symbol flashed briefly at him. “So… where is she? Where is that mistress of yours?”
His thumb eclipsed the oppressive image as his lips whispered a spell into the air.
The world boiled in shades of sanguine. Hot flashes burst from overheated bubbles and threatened to burn him. The thought that this had been a mistake flitted through his mind a moment but then subsided as he noticed the rain begin. Cool white rain poured from above. Exasperated sizzles erupted from the world as they cooled from the sweet honey and milk rain. Every drop mingled with the heavy red and soon the world was melting in shades of pink. It melted and ran through the cobblestone streets toward a grate in the middle of the road. Eagerly he followed it and peered down through the wrought iron bars.
Below him the witch lay in a room made of stone. The perfect lines of her body were only barely covered by a thin blanket. He took no time in admiring them though, instead he took careful inspection of the figure they were hugged closely against. There was no mistaking the pure alabaster white form that held her close to its chest and ran its fingers through her hair in a most loving fashion.
Mouse shifted in his surprise, a rock grinding against the metal edge of the grate as he did. The assassins’ twin moon eyes rose up from the witch and fixed on Mouse even as his arms wrapped tighter around the woman.
The coin dropped to the floor. Mouse did not seem to notice this. He stared distantly at the large tapestry that rose over the witch’s bed with a smirk on his lips.
“So… that is where you have been my little fishy friend…”
The smirk broke into a grin and he began laughing.
A somewhat crooked grin curled across his lips as his fingers fell away and, his gaze still soaking her in, he stepped back a pace. When they met the place just above her knees where the coat gave way to still bare flesh, his yellow eyes flitted away for an instant, seeming to consider the far wall of the crypt and what the world beyond may have in store. The sudden sensation that there were eyes upon the two of them… eyes from far away but eyes that still saw everything as if there were a third person in the close confines of the mausoleum’s walls… flattened the grin on the mith’ganni’s lips and, even in the gloom of the chamber, caused his own eyes to narrow. It was the same, uncanny sense that had washed over him earlier in the night and stirred him briefly from his reverie to ensure that Cay was still curled against him and that they had, in fact, been alone. His gaze returned to her, then, and, rubbing thoughtfully at his chin, gave her makeshift garb a more critical consideration. “Appealing as that is on you, melamin,” Nyx murmured after a moment, the grin returning to his lips as he turned to slide the lid of the sarcophagus away, “it could use another touch or two… for practicality, yes?”
From the coffin’s interior, Nyx first produced a pair of soft, black trousers which he offered over to Cay with one hand while the other sought out other items from the assassin’s cache. “Those should go some way to keeping the chill from your legs,” he said as he felt the fabric leave his fingers, “it is not a long walk to Taellyn’s but it is autumn…” Next, he found a narrow, leather belt among the stowed gear and, after fitting the scabbard of his rubied dagger to it, turned and secured the thing about Cay’s waist. “If you are to kill with it,” he purred, his fingers brushing over the dagger’s hilt as softly as his lips brushed over hers, “you may as well keep it close and learn its weight, yes?”
Again, the witch responded with little more than a flickering of molten amber eyes and the faint twitching of one corner of her mouth… and again, Nyx found himself distracted from what he was doing by the trepidation that she attempted to veil behind the expression. For an instant, he simply gazed into the depths of her eyes and, there, tried to find some sort of clue as to what troubled her but, whatever it was, she had masked it quite well… only the sense of its presence was to be found and that was far from enough. His mouth opened, then, as if he were about to speak…
There is more than your worry about the tree, is there not, elen en cormamin? More, even, than your worry that we two should not be, perhaps? What is it that has happened in your dreams to still your tongue?
…but, just as quickly, the mith’ganni’s mouth closed again, the words he had intended to speak curtailed by the return of that thin smile, and he forced his eyes from hers with a faint shake of the head. “There is work to do,” he murmured under his breath, returning his attentions to the coffin’s interior, “and preparations to be made…”
A dark, mocking laughter echoed from somewhere in the back of his mind as he set about outfitting himself. More difficult to leave me behind than you might have imagined, is it not? You profess not to need me and yet you still call upon me with that mantra…
Nyx allowed himself a disconcerted scowl as he donned a purple-black tunic. A thing of habit, he growled in reply, nothing more. I am free of you.
The laughter again. You may defy me all you wish, you insipid point-ear… fly in the face of your obligation to me… deny that you are what you are because of what I have given you… but you’ll never be free of me, Nyx Shyndyn… not in the way you are likely thinking, at any rate…
“Dinalle,” Nyx growled under his breath. He tried to shake the voice from his head as started sweeping the myriad coin purses that littered one corner of the coffin into a larger sack. A cascade of his own freed hair fell into his grasp just then and the same motion intended to toss those smaller pouches into the larger also caused him to tug sharply on those locks… Prien’s way of defying the elf’s dismissal…
…You truly believe that you can just turn your back on me and think that will be the end of it, don’t you? You believe that your denial is all it takes and I will simply allow you to walk away unpunished?
The mith’ganni’s inner sneer may have crept to the surface and flashed briefly across his pale lips as he flung the locks of his hair angrily back over his shoulder. He tried explicitly to will The Executioner’s taunting voice from his mind as he twisted his hair into a hasty pony-tail and, once he thought he had done so, let out a slow breath and returned to the sorting of his gear – He’d need to take it all, wouldn’t he? When he left the Drasnian crypt this morning, it would be for the last time, after all…
You think, perhaps, that you already have, Shyndyn?
…he may have hesitated for the briefest of instants when Prien’s voice persisted....
You don’t even realize that I started unraveling your thread the very moment you started to wander, do you?
…but it was only for the flickering of an eye – scarcely enough to have been noticed – and, if the god’s voice wouldn’t be silenced, Nyx decided, he would simply ignore it…
And you certainly don’t see that this witch is part of your undoing…
She’ll be the end of you Nyx Shyndyn… she’s seen it herself… I’ve shown her…
Ask her… Look at her, now… you can see it… if you look…
“Enough!” The word escaped into the air… louder than he had intended if, in fact, he had intended to speak it aloud at all… You will not bring her into this, Nyx insisted, gritting his teeth and clenching fists against the unexpected outburst. Just then Nyx was sure that he felt the roots of Cayrimsa’s tree twist deeper into his flesh and it’s branches spread further across his back… it was a sensation not unlike being burned, he thought; the tendrils of the roots knotted flaming tendrils about the base of his spine and the searing heat spread through the entirety of his being as it surged upwards and burned Prien’s taunting laughter from his mind…
He felt Cay’s eyes on him, now, and, without turning to look at her, could sense the anxious curiosity in her gaze.
“That will be enough,” Nyx reiterated – more softly, this time – his tone once again calm and level, as he hauled the hastily packed duffel out of the coffin and, turning to face Cay, set the sum of his worldly possessions on the floor at his feet… “Nothing that is left here is of any consequence… I shan’t be returning to this place, again…”
His moon-hued eyes took her in, pausing for an overlong moment on the embroidered depiction of Prien’s skeletal visage where it now stared back at him from the padded coat she now wore…
…the end of you… a memory whispered as he stood locked in that hollow-eyed gaze…look at her…
…The mith’ganni blinked and directed his attentions away from Prien’s eyes to Cayrimsa’s…
…The end of you, Nyx Shyndyn… the remembered voice began to disappear as the wind in the branches, …She’s seen it… ask her.
… he contemplated her face, then, absorbing every detail – from the way certain features and nuances of expression were hidden behind the spill of her hair and the way her hat cast shadows to muddle others to the flat and distant manner that somehow lent sharp contrast to the light that sparked in the deep amber pools of her eyes – and the smile that eventually carved a razor-thin line across his lips, he realized, may have borne a bit of the same uncertainty he sensed in her. “Cay,” he whispered into the space between them as he slithered a step closer, “are you…”
…planning to kill me?..
“…are you certain about this thing we are about to do?”
Even behind the veil of her hair and in the penumbra cast by the brim of that hat, he saw her brow climb and her mouth open as if to reply… He pinned the unspoken words to her lips with the tip of a finger and the scant shake of his head. “You must know, elen en cormamin, that what I plan to set in motion here, changes many things,” he continued, letting himself fall deeper and deeper into her shadowed gaze in search of that most inner spark of her soul, “and, for me, even now, there is no turning from it. For you, though, Cayrimsa Ettelenya, if you wish it, things can remain the same…”
The cold, razor-edged smile warmed a bit and he allowed himself to blink once before he continued.
“…All you need to in order to make it so is but go the other way when we leave, yes? You disappear back into the city and, eventually, back to Dmitrova and your station within the Syndicate and, when I return…”
If you return.
“…I will begrudge you nothing… I will still give you all that I have promised… For all you have given me, melamin, it is the least I can offer.”
Nyx let his finger fall from her lips, then, and lingered a moment longer in her gaze before his smile took on a wickedness that, to Cay, was much more characteristic of the elven assassin. “Olsta is just the beginning of what is to come, Cay,” he whispered, shrugging into his cloak, “and while I, of course, have my own motivations to consider in all of this, it is not for my own sake that I set this in motion. What I do, elen en cormamin, I do for you… because you, above all else, have given me the answers to questions that even the stars could not provide.
You can go, as I said,” he purred as he secured the sack that contained the material trappings of his life and secreted it away within the cloak’s folds, “and I will return to give you what I have promised you…”
He smiled a vicious, yet somehow seductive smile before he leaned in and stole a taste of her lips.
“Or,” he finished, pulling away only far enough to allow the words to pass from his lips to hers, “if you truly feel what I feel in all of this, you can come with me and take it for yourself, yes?”
((Far from my best, I know, but I think it has finally knocked the rust off, so to speak... Here's hoping this is the first in a succession of updates, eh?))
Posted on 2011-02-01 at 02:06:37.
Edited on 2011-02-01 at 18:24:13 by Eol Fefalas
Cay let him finish what he had to say, feeling every word burn into her. Then quickly shook her head.
“No.” The words came out harsher and faster than she would have liked. “No… you can’t do this Nyx. It isn’t fair. Don’t you dare do this to me.
“I have no answers for you Nyx.” She spoke with her whole body, her hands flying to her sides with the palms up to emphasize that she had nothing to offer him. “I’m not even sure I understand what your questions are in order to give you an answer. Seek your stars, they are constant and bright. I am anything but…
“So stop looking to me for answers, and stop giving me bull s*** for yours!” Every word teetered on the edge of shattering as her tempo rose higher still.
“Don’t tell me that Olsta is just the beginning. We both know better. You pressing your back against mine and telling Dmitrova that he’d have to fight us both if he laid a hand on me might be a more poignant beginning, or perhaps it goes back further, to Gracchus, or even further to the first time I felt a pair of unseen eyes watch me from the shadows. Olsta is simply another step. Which is why you know I cannot just walk away.
“And while we are talking about truths don’t throw your promises in my face. I remember quiet well what you have promised, and I also happen to then remember that you weren’t the only one making promises.” Despite the fear of what he might see she stared him in the eyes as she spoke.
“Our lives have been twisted together for some time now, for better or for worse. If you don’t believe me take another look at your back Nyx and try to deny it. There are powers, much greater than Senators or Syndicate overlords, at work here that I don’t fully understand.
And to be honest Nyx, that scares me. Don’t give me an out…” the amber fires to her soul dropped then, “ I’m terrified enough right now that I might take it. But maybe you are right. Maybe I’m not sure about… about…” she shook her head when the words would not come out right.
Looking down she caught site of the ruby buried in the hilt of his dagger and her dream flashed back before her eyes. In the moonlight it had looked so sinister, dripping with blood
A disgusted moan filled her throat as she wrapped her fingers around it and pulled it out. It seemed to hang there in the scant space between them. She could almost hear the seductive whispers begging her to kill him. Instead she grasped the blade, not really noticing how the edge reopened her palm, and thrust the pommel toward him.
“Just… just take this back please… I wasn’t thinking last night, you’re the killer Nyx not me. It’s not mine… but please… please Nyx… you are…” pleadingly her eyes rose back up to his, “or you said you were… don’t tell me I can leave… tell me to go with you. I’m more afraid of losing you than anything…”