Published in Darklaw
Copyright © Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved.
Epic fantasy | 2017
KAMI WOKE BEFORE sunfall to movement nearby. She had to blink away the dream that she was a wolf escaping hunters.
She struggled to see through the darkness. Across the glowing embers of the dying fire, she saw Rook on his back. Avestine had impaled herself on his erection and fell forward, her hands hitting the ground above his shoulders, sending up small puffs of dust.
Avestine began to roll her hips as she slid him in and out of her. She groaned in syncopated rhythm as Rook took over the rhythm.
Buffeted by his thrusting, her whole body weakened. She tensed and then loosened again before she plunged down, drawing Rook back inside, every muscle in her body tensing, skin aglow from the firelight.
Kami watched the two, stung by jealousy for a moment before lust and hunger rolled through her. She wanted nothing more than to sink into that skin, to feel it, to taste it, to become it.
Rook’s arms pressed down on Avestine’s thighs, fighting against her rise as he tried to force himself deeper. She clamped her hands around his upper arms and pulled at him, trying to draw him deeper, too. They grunted and lurched, their skin slickened with sweat, arms and legs entwined like a beast thrashing in the dirt. Rook’s hips rose off the ground and bucked hard, throwing Avestine to the side. He caught her around the waist and twisted her onto her back.
She didn’t go willingly.
She tried to get back on top, but he used his weight to pin her down. He pressed his face to her shoulder and began to thrust harder. She swore at him and pulled his hair. Her forearm became a lever, which she used to force his chin up and head back. She almost had his grip loosened when he pushed his own forearm against her neck, choking her with his weight. She bucked, trying to throw him off, but he was thrusting frantically.
Rook’s disregard broke Kami’s spell of lust. His uncommon placidity hid a common masculine viciousness that made her angry. The strain cut his pale skin with deep striations, and Kami saw the cords of muscle tightening in an arching spasm from his calves to his shoulders. The rhythm of his masculine struggle reignited her fire, but she didn’t know what she burned for. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to eat him or ride him herself.
When Rook eased his grip, Avestine shoved him off. He wiped drool from his chin, and she cursed him. She turned raving eyes on Kami, who was shocked to be noticed. Avestine grasped a clump of sticks and threw them at Rook. She stomped off into the trees, taking her pile of clothes with her.
When Avestine had been gone for a while, Rook gathered his clothes together.
Kami had nothing to say, at least nothing that would matter. She thought to herself that he was no different from every other man she had ever known.
He turned to her. “Hardly,” he said.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You don’t have to.” He pulled up his trousers and worked hard to cinch them with just his wrists. “I’m not like any man you’ve ever known.”
“You’re not worth the price of a dog.”
“A minute ago you wanted to screw me.”
“She should have killed you.”
“She tried once. She knows better than that now.” Rook finished the knot and sat down. “She can trace her ancestry to the First Emperor.” His scarred face grew savage. “Where else but this filthy place, filled with human roaches all rushing about for silver, could the Emissary remain unseen?” His eyes suddenly shone with adoration. “She’ll take her place on Darklaw’s throne again. I’ll give my life for that. So will you.”
He sneered. “Do you know what happened to my hands?”
“What I know is a man’s desire is built for killing not love. You hurt her, like men always hurt women.”
“Her pride, maybe.” He picked up a stick and sat down. Clamping the stick between his wrists, he stirred the fire. “She doesn’t like being put on her back, that’s all.”
“Then why do it?”
“One day you’ll find your own way of sharing the demon with her.”
“Demon? You mean the one every man serves, from the moment he wakes piss proud to the moment he’s in some pasture stuffing it into a cow’s ass?”
He howled with laughter, showing all his teeth. “Yes, that one. I should think a bitch of Sahrot would know that demon well.” He dropped the stick and lay down to sleep. He was snoring when Avestine returned.
Avestine was dressed and eyed Kami without comment before slipping into her bedroll.
Kami wasn’t sure what to say, whether to console Avestine—if she were even in need of consolation. Curiosity overwhelmed her thoughts. “Are you responsible for his hands?”
Avestine rolled to look at Kami. “What did he tell you?”
“So you are? What crime warrants such a punishment?”
“No crime at all.”
“How can he still love you after that?”
“He hates me. He’s Essanti.”
“Well then, that proves you’re wrong. I’m not Essanti, because I don’t hate you.”
“You still have your hands.”
“Is that a threat?”
“Don’t be so eager for a fight, child.”
“He said you two share a demon.”
“Essanti are also superstitious.”
“You don’t believe in demons?”
“Demons are what happen when men stop obeying the gods.”
Kami scoffed. “You only play at piety.”
Avestine sat up and stared at Kami a long time before responding. “I’ve been in ships when the sea came alive at Ansheti’s command, and the strikes of Arujan’s Blade have ignited two horses beneath me. Katan has dropped boulders to save me from the genvri, and no bounty hunter has ever touched me, despite that my corpse is worth more gold than most men will ever see in a lifetime. Who can I thank for that but Coth? Maybe you don’t understand who I am.”
“You’re the Emissary.”
“But do you know what that means?”
“You speak for Arujan.”
“No, child. I am Arujan.” Avestine didn’t wait for Kami’s next question, but turned over and settled in to sleep.