Published in Darklaw
Copyright © Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved.
Epic fantasy | 2017
AS THEY CONTINUED iceward, they had a few days without seeing soldiers, so while Kami slipped off to hunt, Rook and Avestine indulged themselves in a bath.
The great Wealth River drew water from numerous waterways in the Katan foothills, and Avestine found a cool pond with clear water and a rocky bottom. Rook found a patch of soaproots and cut open the bulbs. With the sap and a little sand, they lathered their clothes, and then lay their shirts and undergarments to dry on the sunny shore while they swam in the chilly water.
Avestine splashed Rook and found to her surprise that his aging body could still arouse her, but when he made an offer, she denied him, more interested in the warm sunshine.
She lay down on the bank, thinking of the fish net that needed mending and the roots she had hoped to find to roast for dinner. But the heat soothed her muscles, made her feel limber and relaxed as she rolled onto her stomach. Even the gnats didn’t annoy her too much. Rook lay nearby, and after a time, Avestine sensed him growing sluggish and sleepy.
She woke with a jerk, not sure how long she had been asleep.
Rook was gone, as were his clothes. Her clothes looked dry, but she didn’t want to dress. She rolled onto her back, reveling in the heat that now eased across her breasts, belly, and thighs. She stretched her legs and back, reaching her arms above her head until a series of satisfying cracks in her spine released even more tension from her.
She went limp, amazed by the perfect day and the perfect sensation of utter laziness. Her languid mind roamed around that thought. The sentiment intrigued because it didn’t seem like her. Still, it was a good sentiment: to relax, to enjoy, to wallow.
As her thoughts continued to roam, she began to tingle, her stomach to flutter, her thighs to warm.
With her eyes closed, she saw in her mind a discrete patch of dark hair, thick over bare skin. The crest of a woman’s labia peeked through the patch. The stark contrasts of dark and light, coarse and smooth, gave her an erotic shock when she recognized what she was seeing in her mind’s eye. The sprawl of naked femininity was as gripping a thing as the Great Mother had ever conceived.
Again, she knew the thought wasn’t hers.
She couldn’t stop seeing the image of the sprawling woman. Avestine appreciated the vision—until she realized the woman she was seeing was herself.
She sat up and looked around. She was seeing through Kami’s eyes. It was grotesque to feel Kami’s pleasure at watching her. Such adoration didn’t flatter Avestine. Beauty was an expression of possession. She had little vanity but great pride, which meant the eye that decided beauty belonged to her, not to some peeking girl.
She rose and walked around the pond. She felt Kami near. She stood still, her eyes glancing this way and that, listening intently, trying to hear movement or breathing. She turned to her right. Like a spider feeling its web, she alerted to the intruder before running at full speed toward it.
Kami yelped with surprise as Avestine tackled her. They rolled across a tangle of brush and twigs, but Avestine ignored the cuts and crawled on top of Kami, pinning her to the ground.
“Never spy on me!”
Kami was breathless with fright.
Avestine noticed the bloody thigh of a deer lying nearby. She rose and picked it up. “How did you get this? You don’t have a knife, do you?”
Then Avestine noticed the blood on Kami’s shirt and dried flecks on her cheek. She stepped back, fighting unease as she imagined Kami chewing through the fur and flesh.
“What’s wrong with you?” Avestine snapped with disgust. She dropped the leg. When Kami didn’t answer, Avestine told her to get out of her clothes. To her surprise, Kami obeyed.
Avestine took Kami’s clothes to the pond to clean them. Kami followed and sat in the sun, placid and dumb. Later, Avestine dragged her into the water and began to use the soaproot on her skin. Kami didn’t like it, but she obeyed.
When Rook returned, he retrieved the deer thigh from the forest. He cleaned and built a fire to roast it. “Where’s the rest of the deer?”
“Don’t care,” answered Avestine.