Like a Sword [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Cecilia Tan & G. Yip
eBook Category: Erotica/BDSM Erotica/Fantasy
eBook Description: Swords & sorcery stories that swirl with sensuality. These are tales of mages and magic, of warriors and princes and forest folk. But not all battles are won with armies, and magic finds its power not just in heart and soul but in body and desire. Four erotic short stories from some well-known erotica writers and some newcomers: Jason Rubis, Jean Roberta, Argus Marks, and ADR Forte. [Warning: Explicit erotic material. Some stories contain bondage and dubious consent.]
eBook Publisher: Circlet Press, Published: 2008, 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2008
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2 Reader Ratings:
The feast is a memory from the earliest days of their ancestors. When the seasons were sacred, when the Priests truly heard the voice of Earth Mother and stirred her power with their chants, when the Aylar healed the people, and the stone halls of the academy were nothing but wood and thatch. The feast is more than just a tradition. She is glad the War Lords have honored it, even when so much else has been forgotten and labeled nonsense.
She is glad of this War Lord.
Under the lanterns strung from the trees, the palace grounds are transformed, bathed in golden light. It catches on the jewels of the rich and on the polished copper buckles of the poor. She smells meat roasted and fruit baked. She smiles. This, at least, is still pure.
He stands on the War Lord's dais, talking to his advisors and his warriors, looking out over his people as they dance and eat and watch jugglers and scold children and gossip with neighbors. He has changed. He is not a boy any more.
Someone calls to her. "Aylar, take this. Merry Sun Leave."
She accepts the warm pie the pie seller presses into her hand. She thanks the man and wishes him a Merry Sun Leave. Some folk still remember old ways, when no Aylar paid a single copper for anything or ever wanted for shelter. She remembers that she has treated the pie seller's daughter for the scarlet fever. That little girl is chasing another girl around and around the tree behind the seller's stall.
Her gaze meets the seller's.
"She is good. She never sits still a minute." The seller smiles. "I thank you."
"You are welcome," she tells him.
A loud voice behind them makes her turn. It belongs to a man in a splendid robe making his way to the dais. One of those who now style themselves "Noble," citing generations of War Lords in their line as their claim to superiority and backing their claims with lavish houses and dozens of hired guards and twice as many servants.
These Nobles worry her, too. They create lines where none existed. They mutter at requirements of lineage for the War Lord and his advisors. Even for the Priests. Some even dared question the Choosing of the War Lord although they shut up quickly enough when the current War Lord won his scepter. But such ideas make her blood run cold.
The soldiers on the dais are watching the Noble bowing and scraping to the Lord with a mixture of smiles and scorn. The Lord himself only nods. No hint of displeasure or impatience crosses his face, but his blue gaze is trained on the Noble's with all the warmth of a predatory bird. The Noble fumbles over his words. The War Lord responds in a quiet voice.
As the Noble backs away, still mouthing flattery and inanities, the War Lord looks up. For the tick of a clock, his gaze meets hers. Despite the burnished armor, the crystal-topped scepter, the narrow circlet of gold around his head, and the golden bands around battle-scarred arms, she sees the face she has known all her life. Her heart turns over with an achy thump. He is still that sweet, unattainable boy. Her Gale.
And then the second is over. * * * *
She wanders from stall to juggler to musician. She speaks to those few who smile at her or say "Merry Sun Leave, Aylar" in hushed tones and touch their foreheads. She nibbles at the corner crust of her pie, but finally gives it away to a servant's child in tattered pants.
Leaning on a tree, she sips water from her flask and watches the young warriors and girls dance. Each boy thinking of some day being War Lord, each girl of being picked as the one to share the Lord's bed for Sun Leave. Of the ritual meant to bless the land and renew its prosperity.
She remembers watching Gale dance. Appearing not to watch as she stood apart, talking to her aunt and her master and the Priests. But every inch of her longing to feel his hands on her waist, his lean, brown arm across her shoulders, the whisper of grass under her feet and the burn of breath in her lungs as they danced.
She only ever danced alone, down near the river or in a meadow clearing when she went walking on cool spring days. At the feast, when her aunt would nudge her in the ribs and point to the other youngsters, she would shake her head and dismiss them all with a gesture. Even then, there was no point in pretending she was like them. She had already cut her hair to her chin in the style of the Aylar and she wore only black.
No point in hoping he would notice her. * * * *
Silence shakes her out of memories. The music has stopped. Full dark has fallen and the torches and lanterns flicker in a soft breeze. In knots and groups the crowd is moving. They are going to the grove.
She follows, trailing with the stragglers at the edge of the crowd. She doesn't have to see. She can summon up the ritual in her mind. The High Priest marking the four corners with Earth Mother's blood, the river water sparkling in torchlight as he throws handfuls into the air. The chants, the incense. The War Lord kneeling to receive the Priest's blessing. The War Lord and his chosen lover dancing in the fertility circle.
She ponders leaving now, before the ritual ends. Before the crowds spill out to wend their way home or to parties or to continue celebrating in the streets until the sunrise. The streets will be dark and empty and cool. Her black robe is stifling even though she's undone the collar and rolled the sleeves to her elbows, and she relishes the thought of escaping heat and people.
A few steps away from the crowd, she hears their shouts of blessing. She looks back. On the hill of the sacred grove, she sees the High Priest, arms raised as he finishes his chant. She sees the War Lord standing at his side, solemn and regal. This is his first true Sun Leave, after all. At the last, the old War Lord was still at his side, guiding and shifting the power to his successor. This year, he alone stands as protector and ruler. She watches as they turn and the Lord kneels. She loses sight of him. Hands outstretched, the High Priest begins the blessing chant.
She turns and continues on her way. Tears of pride prickle somewhere behind her eyes, and her lips curve into a smile. Her fears are real, but he understands the old ways. He believes. Perhaps he can heal some of the wounds a little, mend those edges beginning to fray. The War Lord's power is as great, greater than any Priest's, than any Aylar's. And if the Lord has wisdom, he can do much good. This year at least will be a good year...
Noise and movement catch up with her, and she slows her steps. Something is happening. Something has broken the flow.
She stops, turns and sees with shock that the crowd has turned, too. To face her. It has scattered around the figure striding out of the grove, headed this way. And she is standing right in his path.
She ought to get out of the way, but her feet don't obey for some reason. Rooted to the spot, she stares at the glint of lantern light on armor. Hypnotized, until he is mere steps away from her, until she hears his voice, rich with the command of the War Lord.
He stops. She takes slow, steady breaths to calm herself and she lifts her chin. Standing before her, he stretches his hand out, blue gaze holding hers already.
"Sabell." At the sound of her name, said so gently, so coaxingly, the breath stops for an instant in her throat and her chest tightens. How? How can he possibly remember her name?
"Will you share my bed tonight, and with me bring Earth Mother's blessing to all our land?"
She cannot breathe. She cannot breathe at all. She wants to run as fast as her legs can take her. He is asking her. Her. It is impossible, yet she must believe the evidence of her own eyes and ears. She lifts her hand and feels his fingers warm and strong and rough under hers. She must believe the evidence of her own touch, the blood leaping in her veins at his skin against hers.
Surprised that she doesn't stumble, that she even can manage to walk, she follows him back through the throngs of people. Her stomach tenses horribly at the renewal of sound after the waiting silence and the murmurs around them. Only when they reach the hill and begin to climb it does she realize it is joy she hears. Approval. Awe.
Her feet move by instinct, her mind is too consumed by what her body feels: the muscle of his arm hot against her back, the pressure of his fingers on her hip, the scent of his skin and hair as they dance together. This is nothing like what she dreamed of: this heat in her loins, this rush of hungry need. The sweat on her skin, the drum of her heart from shock and lust and exertion. This is real.