Published in Darklaw |
Copyright © 2017 Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved. |
Epic fantasy |
LEAVES RUSHED BY like waves in a green ocean. Color overwhelmed form as objects merged by movement into a current that parted before her and closed again behind.
As Kami ran, her body grew heavy, but then exhilaration poured new energy into her weary legs as the damp smell of ferns promised a pregnant season.
Like the closeness of true night, which she had not seen since she left Featherwood, the deep forest closed around her until all that existed was the verdant wall only a few paces to either side. This wasn’t the forest of home, but it was beautiful nonetheless. When she stopped, her breath puffed from her, not with labor, but with joy.
She swallowed the freedom in gulps, nourishing every interior part of her with the living forest, while every exterior part tingled coolly from evaporating sweat. She was naked, but only a distant part of her mind thought it odd.
She walked through the thick, not following a trail, not creating one, as the leaves and limbs brushed her skin, stroking her with the affection of a lover.
A beetle, large as her thumb, glittering red beneath the single ray of sunlight that found a path through the twisted canopy, crawled along a twig before her. She watched it, amazed not for its rare color, but for the hunger it stirred in her. Before she could eat it, the scent of meat drew every sense outward.
She could hear blood pulse, taste sinew she had yet to tear apart, so she drove through the brush, not like a cat whose stealth declares a guilty and unsure desire, but like a wolf with bold and certain expectations.
Kami broke into a clearing to find the meat wounded and standing some distance from a wolf as black as the darkest cave.
The meat Kami tracked was a deer not even as tall as her shoulder, but its legs were strong and its belly fat. The wolf turned its hungry gaze from the meat to her.
She took a step toward the black hunter. Curiosity assuaged her hunger momentarily, but when the meat hopped toward the shelter of the trees, both the wolf and Kami raced toward it. The wolf’s teeth sunk into the deer’s haunch, holding it in place, while Kami wrapped her arms around the thin neck. With all her strength she crushed the bones. The meat collapsed.
Growls of pleasure erupted from the wolf as it tore a strip of flesh from the rump. With envy, Kami watched. She seized a strip, tugging on it as the wolf tugged back. She braced herself on one knee with her other leg outstretched. It was then she noticed the wolf was missing a front leg.
Despite having only three legs, the wolf was healthy, with a shiny coat and eyes blue as a mountain lake. Its legs were sturdy as saplings and its jaw as unyielding as iron. Its strength was a product of ferocious will.
They growled at each other—the wolf deep, hollow, mouth full, and Kami hissing through clenched teeth, her empty belly burning. The stalemate ended when she released one hand to slap the wolf’s head, a mere tap that stunned for its audacity. The wolf dropped the strip it presently held. She snatched it and backed away to sit near a tree and eat, while the wolf tore into the deer for another piece.
When she was full, she wandered until she found water and drank long. Then she slept.
When she awoke, she found the black wolf sitting a few paces away, staring at her. She crawled toward it, studying the cool eyes. She touched the stump of its right foreleg. The dark hunter had probably never had that fourth leg, she surmised, although it did have a telling scar from some terrible battle. The scar striped its face, from under its right eye, down to its neck. A single white line marred the magnificent black fur.
“Wolf,” she heard her voice say. “You remind me of someone, Wolf.”
She ate and slept and when she woke, she found herself lying on a beach. A warm wash left salt on her lips. She tasted the sea and felt sand slipping under her arms. The cool wave stole her breath, then gave it back again as it rolled away, tugging on her as if inviting her to play. She was heavy with the water, and the salt air soothed her lungs like warm hands on sore muscles.
When she turned to look behind her, she stumbled back from the surprise of a sheer cliff that rose skyward. Leaning back, she peered up and lost the top of the cliff to clouds. She braced herself against a mossy stone, made slippery by the living sea.
Disoriented yet ecstatic, she wandered along the coast until she found crabs, black like coal, scampering away from her, their stalked eyes twitching nervously. Saliva swelled into her mouth. She wanted to eat them.
When she caught a crab, she tore off its legs. Seeping scarlet stained the flaky white meat as she cracked the shell. Swallowing the salty sea-creature satisfied her hunger but made her thirsty. She noticed a cave where the beach curved around the cliff face. Rook was at the entrance, relaxing, as if he had been waiting for her.
“Those are better boiled.” Rook pointed at the crab legs.
Dropping one empty shell, Kami gave the others to Rook and followed him into the cave. Rook kindled a fire.
Kami realized from his glances that she was naked. “I don’t have clothes,” she heard herself say, but she didn’t recognize the voice. “Yes,” she said, agreeing with the unfamiliar voice and peering around the cave to find its source.
“It’s you,” Rook said. “Both are you. No need for clothes, really.” He smiled, but his affection faded.
While Rook tended a pot over the fire, Kami watched him work. He wore a black tunic, unbelted. White sand stuck to his tan forearms as if he had been lying on the beach. Reaching out, she brushed the sand away. She looked at his arms, imagining the heavy flow of muscle under the tough skin and relishing the thought of shredding the sinews with her teeth.
He sat down. “Are you surprised to see me? Do I seem different?”
“You have hands.”
“That’s because we’re dreaming.”
Kami studied his smooth skin with its temptation of flavor. She lay down, and when Rook crawled to her side, Kami observed his angular face, no longer scarred, but coarsened by a slight beard. Rook smelled like earth, but when she kissed his cheek, she tasted the sea.
He raised his hand to her face. “I like it when you touch me. I like what you feel. No,” he reconsidered. “I like the way you feel everything, how much you feel it. I like the way you feel me, the way you feel the sand, the way crab legs taste to you, the way the salt air soothes your lungs. It’s what she likes about you, too. You feel so intensely. You let me feel it, too.”
He kissed her lips, licked them, and moved her hand to his trousers. She loosened his belt and slid her body down, resting on her knees and slipping her lips around his masculine flesh. She explored the spongy veins and flexible crown with her tongue before she found the hole at the tip. When she tasted a drop of salty liquid at the hole, she sucked vigorously.
Rook grunted and tried to shove himself deeper into her mouth. She gagged and drew back enough that she could breathe, and then she let him thrust into her mouth until he groaned out all his breath. A pool of semen warmed her tongue and his body went limp. She lay beside him, and he stroked her cheek. She studied his hand with as much pleasure as he studied her face.
They spent days together at the seashore, days that were orgiastic, a constant exchange of fluids. Kami often pulled Rook along with her to the ocean, whose waves revitalized her after their lovemaking. When they returned to the cave, she wanted more, always more.
They feasted on crabs and oysters and fish of a dozen varieties, and after she had consumed the food, she consumed him, and when she was full, she slept in his arms. Warmed by fire and breath, they learned together about primal ecstasy.