Chapter 5: A Monk Becomes a Student

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 79

There will pass into the world

fires of life and death

carried forth by the Eternal Phoenix.

--Litany of the Ages


The woman hugged the man she stood with. She looked happy with him. Her hair was long and waves of deep red around her head. They held hands and talked as the sun set. They stopped and picked up the basket they had brought a picnic in that evening. They went into their home and lay down for the evening. They made love to each other, and then faded to sleep. Or so it seemed. As the red-haired woman slept, the man who lay with her got up. He pulled a silver knife from the dresser.

“Whatever you are, you are not human. You live too long, and do not age with the passing turns, I’ll put an end to you for good,” he whispered, the pantomime of love dropping. His name was Ramick Altheron.

He was an assassin, hired to do this job, to feign love for this woman and find out if she was indeed not aging like she should. She’d lived too long here, and the people noticed. She wasn’t human, or if she was, she was some sort of magic user, and this city wanted none of either. It was Ramick’s job to find out, and then kill her if she was indeed hiding something. She did not know why she didn’t age, he’d found, but it only meant that some evil force could be working through her to destroy the small village. Or if she was some sort of elf that could bring dangers on its own if either group found out she was here. No, there was only one solution.

Ramick knew she was a heavy sleeper. He’d tested her the last few nights. They made love, and then she would fall asleep. He could shake her or straddle her sleeping form to kiss her or such and she did not move. He felt confident that one good stroke with the silver dagger he had would kill her cleanly and for good. Even strongly evil creatures couldn’t survive that. Granted, he wasn’t doing this for good or evil, he was doing it for the pay he was getting for it, which was quite a handsome sum from the village.

He went over and pulled back the covers from her naked form. He smiled. At least she was a good woman to lie with. He smirked and ran his hands over her breasts and hips one last time. It was kind of a shame to kill such a lovely thing. But he wasn’t being paid to stare at her body or to even make love to her. He was being paid to destroy her. All the rest was a perk to his job.

He moved to straddle her, so that his aim would be true. He didn’t doubt that he could kill her if he missed her heart the first time and woke her, but a part of him regretted this job because he really did like her. She would have made a good mercenary by his side. In fact, he’d taught her some of the mercenary ways while he’d been with her. He braced his knee on the straw bed, and his other against the floor and placed the tip of the dagger against her flesh. Again, it was regrettable, but for the sum of money he was receiving he would have killed his own mother.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered and just as he began to push, her emerald eyes opened, and in them, he saw a reflection of the horror of realization.

He drove the point into her heart without hesitation, though, and her eyes widened with shock and pain. He stepped back. His stroke had been true; he’d felt it penetrate her breastbone and the soft muscle underneath. She stared at him, and then down at the dagger’s ornate handle protruding from her chest. There was an intricate design on it, inlaid with turquoise and amethyst. Her vision wavered for a second and she felt hot, so hot.

“Why? I loved you…” she whispered, still not understanding what had happened.

Ramick couldn’t believe she still lived. Even the stoutest demon would fall to that enchanted blade. “It’s a job.”

At the words her face contorted with something like understanding and near vengeance, because she realized what the end to this would be. She reached up and yanked the blade free and blood washed down her naked body. Something more dawned in her eyes and she looked up at him. Suddenly Ramick realized that she was dangerous. There was something there and he was suddenly, and for the first time in his life, afraid.

“You fool, you’ve murdered no one save yourself. You have no idea what I am, and until now, I didn’t either, you short sighted human,” she whispered, and the blood around her began to burn.

Ramick stepped back again towards the door. She sat there staring at her hands where the blood had coated them, and they began to burn. He turned, he had to get away from her, but then he felt a sharp stabbing pain in his back. He reached back and felt the hilt of the dagger that he’d just impaled her with. It was impossible. No one could have moved that fast, had she thrown it? He turned back around to face her and screamed in horror at the image he saw. He fell to his knees, his own life blood leaving his body and was consumed by the fire.

The next thing she knew, she was running. Sanna tripped and fell. Her palms were cut and bleeding. Her eyes were bloodshot. Her clothes were ripped and torn in places that didn’t leave much to the imagination of anyone, but she didn’t care. She was hot; she was so damn hot that she thought she would explode in a ball of fire, leaving nothing but shards of burnt bone and the stench of burning flesh. She shook her head. And she could not completely comprehend why. Her memories were gone. All gone. All she remembered was waking up in a bed of ash with a burned body beside her, naked and shivering in the night. She’d found a dagger beside her, but it too was charred. She’d run, scared of what had happened. She’d stolen some clothes from a neighbor. They’d never miss them. In fact, the only thing she knew was her name. She didn’t even know the name of the land she lived in.

She came upon a village, a rather small one, but a village in any case. She found the local Inn easy enough, as it was the biggest structure in the area. She needed a place to stay. She needed food. She needed a lot of things right now. She stumbled into the front door and looked around with livid eyes. Eyes turned toward her suspicious and cold. She quickly made the assessment that the bartender was likely enough the owner of the place. She stumbled toward the bar, tripping over a chair as she went. She had to depend on the charity of strangers. Somehow, she doubted that the owner would be charitable, but she had to try. She pardoned herself to the person whose chair she’d tripped on and continued, but then she felt arms grasp her around the waist. She looked down.

A man, probably more drunk than sober, looked up at her with wet brown eyes. She stared at him for a moment.

“By the lost gods, sweetie, you are a fine piece ifn I’ve ever seen one,” he slurred.

She stared at him for a moment, uncomprehending, and then felt his hands groping her through her clothes. She pushed at his hands, but he had a hold on her that was tight. She glanced at the bartender, and he was busy watching with a placid smile upon his face. What was going on? She glanced around frantically and saw she was the main attraction, and the serving wenches simply turned their heads.

“Stop it,” she whispered pushing his hands off her hips and thighs, but then she felt hands on her shoulders and something cold at her throat. Her eyes went wide as what she recognized as a blade pressed into the flesh of her neck.

The drunkard was pawing at her still as she stood still, his hands under her clothes now, grasping and pinching. The man with the knife laughed.

“You really shouldn’t have walked in here, doll. But I’m so glad you did.” This voice was not drunk, rather very clear. She gasped as she felt another hand join the drunkard’s on her body, pushing between her legs now.

“You see, these here are a bunch of sailors, and this here is a port town, and well, these boys haven’t seen the underbelly of a woman for six months,” the knife holder said in her ear, pulling her head up, exposing her neck further by pushing it with the knife.

Sanna swallowed hard, her long red hair falling into her eyes, and her green eyes filling with tears. The man behind her kicked her feet apart wider, and she felt the groping hands slide over her. She squeezed her eyes shut as the pinched and pulled at her.

“Please,” she whispered. “I just want to be left alone.”

The man with the knife laughed and kissed her on the cheek then licked her face. “That will only happen if you pass out, sweetie, and even then, you won’t be left alone, you just won’t know it,” he whispered, and she felt the crush of his weight against her, shoving her into the drunkard, who’s hands were shoved all the harder against her.

She let out a small scream and found herself gagged quickly and her arms pulled up behind her, tied deftly with twine. The clear voiced man pushed the drunkards hands off her and pulled her up straight. Tears welled in her eyes as he picked her up easily and threw her onto a table. In seconds the remains of her clothes were ripped from her body, and all of them were at her naked flesh, pinching and pulling and biting.

She tried to push them off, but there were too many. She didn’t count, but she saw many faces, and they all hurt her. Tears streamed down her face and seemed to make them more violent. She choked on the dirty rags shoved in her mouth, but they didn’t care. It was a very long time before she faded into sweet blackness, finally succumbing to the pain.

She woke up some time later and felt sick immediately. The world was rocking, it seemed. She hurt everywhere. There were deep cuts into her wrists and ankles alike, and her mouth was sore beyond belief from the gag. Other parts of her body were equally abused, and she was shaking all over and could not stop. She was dressed in a dirty white or yellowish shift. She looked about and saw she was in a room filled with crates, and a window.

She made her way to the circular window in the wall and to her horror realized she was on a ship. She turned around with her back to the wall, and slowly slid down to the floor, her eyes wide and terrified.

After a couple months, they sailed into a port. The port was called Alecboth. And Sanna knew this would be her last opportunity to escape for a very, very long time. She’d spent two months on board the ship called the “Princess Wing,” and she couldn’t take it any longer. She was a slave to put it bluntly, to every whim, every desire, whether swabbing the deck or cooking their food, or spending nights of torture when they decided it was time to amuse the ship by some spectacle using her body as the tool. On the ocean, they loved to hear her scream, because no one but them could hear her. One of the pirates had some handle of Cycle Magic and was able to heal her worst wounds when they were too rough with her. He alone was tender to her, but he still bedded her when the opportunity came to him.

So, she usually sat in her room, full of crates, in her dirty shift that she tried so hard to clean. But they would only give her enough water to drink, all other things had to be done with sea water, which she found wasn’t good for much of anything. The only time she got out was to do chores for the ship or be a pleasure slave to the crew or the captain. If she was lucky, one of them would bed her, or maybe more. If she was unlucky she’d be tied to the mainmast for a true spectacle.

She hated it, and she would put an end to it. And soon she found how. The Captain, Pritan Damisk was his name, and he was the man to put a knife to her throat in the Tavern all those weeks ago. He wanted to show her off as his “prize.” He brought her water to bathe in and watched as she did so, and a dress of sea green. He let her comb her long red hair and pin it back. He told her to be good, or what waited on her on their return to the ship would be worse than anything before. She was good. She had to be, things were bad enough without getting worse.

The tavern they went to was rowdy, and she was shown off, as the prize of the crew, and what a good captain he was to provide a woman for his crew. She smiled and sat beside him, as if she were really a whore and enjoyed her position of “entertainment”. Other women would scoff at her and turn their heads, and the ladies of the night would pat her back and tell her she was lucky to have a steady patronage. They of course did not know she got no pay for her services like they did.

Then a man caught her eye. He was bald, with tattoos running across his head and down his neck that looked like fire, and he wore only a vest of leather and a pair of green pantaloons. He wore a beautifully braided black beard set into a ring of some sort with an intricate design. He sat in the corner and stared at it all, and then they locked eyes and he held her stare for a long time. Her veneer of smiling happiness melted, and he saw right through to her heart. He stood at that moment and left.

She turned back to “her crew” and continued her pantomime. They would stay in the Inn this night, and she was to make rounds to the crew’s rooms, Captain Damisk announced boldly. She felt so horrible that even this did not embarrass her. Nothing he could do could embarrass her any further, she was already thought of as a common whore. They left the floor and she lay with Damisk. He was as rough as he could be, making her hurt like he always did and laughing about it. He slapped her across the face and told her to go on to the first mate’s room. She sighed and stood, wrapping the nearly transparent robe around her nude body. It would be a long night for her.

She stepped into the hallway and she heard a quiet voice. Come to me and leave that life behind. It was like a voice on the wind.

“Wench, what are you waiting for?” the captain called from his room, as she was visible to him. She looked down the hall and began to follow the voice. She saw something down there. She walked slowly, clenching the white robe against her body. She reached the end of the hall and was staring at a black gem hovering about four feet off the ground. It spun and Sanna knew there was something very important about that gem.

Take it, take the gem of fire, and be free, the voice said, and she turned to see Captain Damisk, in his underclothes, running toward her, yelling, but she could not hear. She reached out and took the gem, and the world swam away.

Things changed, and time passed for the sad and abused Sanna.

“Yes!” Sanna yelled as the bald and bearded man went flying. He hit the ground and rolled to a standing position in one smooth motion.

“Very good my student,” he said with a grin. “Like the phoenix rises from the ashes, you have risen from your old self.”

She smiled and did a couple flips. Things had changed much. She had trained under this man in the months that had passed since she’d touched the essence of fire. Somehow, when she had taken the black gem, she’d appeared in the room of the Monk of the Sacred Flame, Glasdaow. He’d only been a few rooms down in the Inn and had hidden her in his bed with him when they came searching all the rooms. Somehow the woman they saw in the monk’s bed was a different one than Sanna. Her only explanation was the Gem clutched desperately in her hand at the time.

Glasdaow smiled and bowed to her. “You are almost ready to be on your own, my young firebird. Time has healed your scars even. You are a sign of hope in our world,” the older man said.

He’d taken Sanna on almost as a daughter.  Across her back and down her arms were tattoos not unlike his own, of fire and of the mythical phoenix. Tattooed flames covered her right arm up to her neck, and a fire flower was on her belly. There were others covered by her clothes. The markings were very distinct.

He nodded to her and beckoned for her to follow. She was lead into the small shrine. Glasdaow picked up a bowl which had always sat there. He looked at her holding up the bowl and whispered some words in an ancient language.

“Touch the bowl,” he said.

She reached out and grasped the bowl around each side. In the bowl a fire sprang up. Glasdaow nodded slowly and placed the bowl back on the alter. He dropped some incense into it and whispered some more words.

“All that is left is to learn the language of the Flame,” he said as he turned to her. “The training is complete. Destiny will come to you soon.”

He nodded to her as the flame burned higher. “Yes, you are a Monk of the Sacred Flame…” he said.

He stared though, seeing more than that. There was something more to Sanna than just being a simple Monk of the Sacred Flame. Her mastery of fire went beyond that of any he had ever met, and she was almost immune to damage, the moment she was cut, flames would encircle the wound and heal it. He watched as Sanna bowed her head in reverence.

Some time passed once more. Sanna waved to Glasdaow as she walked away, wearing the clothes she had crafted for herself. Tall, supple boots that went over her knees nearly halfway to her hips gave her both protection and movement. A red and black dress left some of her tattoos prominent, in particular it didn’t cover her shoulders or her right arm at all and left most of her back and right side open, but as tight fitting as possible allowing her to ability to tumble and flip as she needed to. It of course had a pant underneath since it was short to leave her legs free. She wore black leather gloves and a black cloak that was deep crimson on the inside. They allowed her freedom to move. She had a walking staff that was more than a staff. In the top was mounted the gem of fire. So, it was that she carried a piece of the essence of fire out of the mountains north of Lineria. Today, she had cut off her hair as a signal that all her old life had been left behind.

* * * * *

Myrstand checked on Lena, as she had fallen asleep among the furs that they’d used to make a bed for the small girl. She was sleeping well as the early morning sun began to make its way into the openings at the top of the cavern. She was exhausted by the night they’d had last night. Myrstand shivered to think of it. It would have been worse than dying for him. He moved from that open area into another open area.

Myrstand looked into the cavern where Keiara was sleeping and let the torchlight fall on her. His breath caught once again in his throat, and his mind began to think thoughts that it should not. Years of training and learning had made him a chaste man, and in fact in his life he’d never lain with a woman. He’d held to the Code of the Paladin, and not broken from it once. He’d been sorely tempted in his time, but the thoughts had never entered his mind like this. It was as if there was some other pull between him and this woman he’d never met before a few days ago.

Now the temptation was mounting like never before. She’d never given him reason to feel this way; she’d never seduced him. She’d used no magic on him, for he would have known. But still, every time he glanced in the room, and the torchlight danced off her ivory heart shaped face his heart stopped in his chest. He looked now and the only thing he could think of was embracing her. He felt such love towards her, as well; it wasn’t only lust. He felt like she was the perfect being, and that he had to be with her. He licked his lips and turned his back.

Your thoughts are not evil, Myrstand, the voice he knew too well whispered in his mind. He turned to find Keiara had sat up. She stretched, the covers falling away from her. Her black hair was mussed from tossing in her sleep, but her dark eyes nearly glowed in the room. She yawned; her thin white hands coming to the dark rich lips of hers and Myrstand nearly lost all restraint. He held on though.

“Come in, my Paladin, we must speak.”

At her words, it was like a wave of cold water washed over him. The desire melted away, and he was staring at the woman who would change the world.

He entered and stood before her. She nodded toward the pile of bedding, and he sat down and faced her. “Yes, my Lady?” he whispered.

She didn’t straighten herself at all, simply began to speak, as though it were a natural thing.

“There are things you must know. Things you do not wish to know. Things that will change the way you think forever.” She shook her head, as though shaking away the sleep. Myrstand listened intently.

“The Dark Phoenix, what I have become, is only the beginning. The others will come,” she said crossing her long legs under the blankets.

Myrstand made a face. “The phoenix of light?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yes, and the others.”

“Who are they?” he asked, growing confused.

She shook her head. “I only know of what I said already of that. Any further of that cannot be Seen. The Veil has blocked all viewing of that.” She picked up her waterskin and drank. “I may be the emissary of the Maker and Unmaker, but I am not the One.”

Myrstand drew his brow together. He’d never heard mention of “the One.”

“Keiara, what do you mean, the One? You are the emissary of the Unmaker, you are the force of chaos, death, destruction, and some say evil? What do you mean of the Maker?”

Keiara’s face changed, a look of near remorse crossed it. “Here I will bring an end to your world as you know it, Myrstand, and I’m so sorry.”

“What?” he whispered, inching closer to her.

“There is the Maker and Unmaker. Not the Maker and the Unmaker. There are not two, only the One. I am perceived as the Unmaker’s hand because I am the darkness. But that is incorrect; I am the emissary of both just as the phoenix of light is as well. The One is both of what you call the Maker and Unmaker. The closest to being a set of two separate entities is the Dark Phoenix and the Light Phoenix. I suppose I could be perceived as the Unmaker, and the phoenix of light as the Maker, but we are both merely the Hands of the One. Don’t you see, balance beyond all else must be kept?” Keiara’s voice was soft and enthralling.

Myrstand couldn’t comprehend what he was hearing. One of the creators of the gods sat before him and was telling him that the basis of all belief was wrong. “So, my life’s endeavors of seeking to destroy the Unmaker are fallacy? It cannot be done?”

He was rewarded by Keiara’s gentle smile. “Would you destroy me now that I am here? No, you cannot. Inside you know the truth, all that live know the truth. You cannot destroy the Unmaker without destroying the Maker. They are one in the same. Without one the other cannot exist. Imagine a world without the Unmaker, if you will, where nothing died, nothing decayed; no room was made for all the life the Maker brings. There is a delicate balance that was begun with the Flame of Asumbar was brought to the world not once but twice.

Twice? Myrstand had learned at his grandfather’s knee what the Flame of Asumbar was; the Flame of Life, and the order of Monks of the Sacred Flame worshipped it as the catalyst of life. Or did they? Did they worship it as both? They had no desire to kill, but they did when they had to do so… He looked back at Keiara saying nothing but understanding somehow. Somehow it just seemed to fit.

“But the Litany says…” he began.

Keiara smiled again. “The Litany as you know it is wrong.” She appeared to measure his reaction, and when he made none she continued. “The Litany is far older than you can imagine. It was penned millennia ago by Samastain herself as a witness to events. It’s written in an ancient language that likely those of the blood of the phoenix can read. But the version you know has been changed, altered and rearranged far more than you realize. It’s the fallacy of mortals not the Litany. There is no remaining copy of the original save one, and it is the original and holds more power than any can imagine.”

She stood up slowly stretching her long limbs out. Myrstand found his mind slipping to what he wanted more than anything. Every move she made sent shivers up his spine. She wore a black, long shift with no sleeves, and it covered her up entirely, but it didn’t matter. It was as though his imagination was creating scenarios.

“The Veil will fall soon. The Veil is what blocks the Prophets and Seers. It is coming to bear very soon. When it does the only thing that can break it is the True Litany and something else, but I cannot know how that will occur. It must be recovered. It’s hidden away on the Isle of Night in the northern sea. No mortal soul may read it. I am not sure how it will be retrieved. Without it the balance cannot be righted. We must head out to past the Cliffs of Chaos and across to the seas,” she said and then turned to see Myrstand.

She stopped suddenly, staring at him. He watched her intently. Her face softened, and he looked at her. She swallowed, a woman for the moment and not the Mother of Gods. He felt the wave of desire wash outward from her, and it was met with his own desire.

“I don’t understand, Keiara. I’ve been a Paladin for many years, and I’ve taken a Vow of Chastity and a Vow of Purity, and right now I want to break them both. I’ve never lain with a woman. I’ve never had the desire to lay with a woman. I’ve never been so selfish as to do something for myself alone. And I’ve never contaminated my body with desires of the flesh. I’ve been trained to not feel these things, but now they are all I feel. I’m descending into…”

Myrstand did not finish his sentence for Keiara dropped down in front of him, lips hovering inches from his own. She wrapped her arms around him. “You need no vows any longer,” she whispered.

He stared into her silver flecked eyes and saw only Keiara the woman. She leaned in, silently asking permission, before he leaned toward her in answer. Their lips met for the first time, and Myrstand felt the world shift around him. He moved his hands to slide up her back, tongue flicking out to request admission to her mouth, and she opened in answer. He found her tongue eagerly entwining his own as he searched her mouth, descending into an ocean of sensation like he had never felt. She pulled back, panting just slightly and smiled at him.

Her hands went to the armor he was wearing, and with deft movements of her fingers, she began removing it. He was in a fugue state, really, not sure what he was doing as he helped her with the removal. When she reached the shirt underneath, he captured her hands and kissed her knuckles gently. She looked at him with those haunting eyes and then reached for the base of his shirt. She slipped it up and over his head and he felt the touch of the chill air on his skin. He was shivering at her touch more than the cold that surrounded them. She trailed her finger down to his belly button and glanced up at him again.

“But I can’t…I’m honor bound…” he whispered.

“Honor bound to me, now, I am the Mother of your gods…” she whispered and kissed him full on the mouth once more.

He paused for a moment, pulling back from the kiss and absorbing what she had just said, and then embraced her and allowed the desires and wants he’d never let take over before control his every motion. His hands were furious as they stripped the rest of his armor and her light clothing from her supple body. Her breath on his skin was so familiar, but how could that be? There was a feeling that was soul deep, as though this were nothing new for the two of them, but it was impossible. Then again, the whole situation should have been impossible because he was about to lay with a woman for the first time, and it was the mother of gods…

The clothes piled upon the floor slowly, and the torch lay near the doorway, giving just enough light in the early morning darkness. His hands traced up her sides to her full breasts and he squeezed the flesh there with his hands, sliding his fingers over the nipples that were erect from the cold or the stimulation, or both. She sighed, arching back from him, proffering her bosom to him as his hands glided over the soft skin. He’d never touched a woman in such a way, and his fingers nearly tingled as they moved down to her stomach and hips.

“I don’t know what to do,” he whispered, almost chuckling at the ridiculousness of that statement right then.

She smiled though, leaning toward him and capturing his mouth once more, arms encircling him in another tight embrace. He felt her naked body hot against his despite the cold, and he felt his own body spring to life from her closeness. He felt his face heat up more as her hands slipped down between his legs and gripped him tightly, her hand giving him sensations that he had only ever given himself before he had taken his vows. It had been several years since then, and his body was more than willing to react to her gentle yet firm grip.

“You’ve grown in desire,” she whispered to him as her hand stroked his slick length. “My desires for you grows as well,” she said, taking his hand and sliding it between her legs into her wetness.

He still was unsure of what he was doing, but he pressed fingers forward into the damp warmth that she offered him, and found that she reacted to his touches, making small mewling noises in her throat. She grabbed his wrist, sliding his hand upward, guiding his fingers with precision. He felt a nub of flesh and she let out a deeper sound.

“There,” she whispered, and he knew that it must be a pleasure spot for her. He swallowed and nodded, rubbing gentle circles where his finger pressed and feeling her shiver under the touch. “That’s it,” she told him, her own hand continuing to stroke him.

“It’s so warm,” he said, looking up and locking eyes with her. She smiled in return and leaned over to kiss his lips again.

 “We can make it warmer,” she said and smirked at him, letting go of him and moving his hand from her. “I want to feel you entirely, Myrstand of Darna.”

His breath caught and for a second, he panicked and wasn’t sure what to do, but he didn’t need to do anything. She moved to straddle his lap where he sat, and he felt himself sliding into her core. He gasped, feeling the enveloping sensation and he controlled his own reflex to thrust upward as she settled herself on his lap.

“Let your feelings guide you,” she said, writhing slowly on his lap, just enough to tantalize him. “Do what you feel is right.”

He nodded, mouth slightly agape for a second as he processed everything he was feeling. He then began sucking on her chest, lips and tongue occupied by the supple flesh there. She moaned a little as she began to move faster on him, causing him to feel his member twitch inside her depths.

“I can’t do it so slow,” he whispered, and moved to lay her on her back. She went with him, legs clutching around his body as he slid out and back into her. She clutched him around his neck and pulled his mouth down to her own as he began thrusting deeper into her, his body on fire in the cold cavern. Every motion sent more shivers through his body.

She nuzzled her face into his neck, and he felt her mouth on him, biting gently into the flesh there, tongue flicking against the skin. Her breath was hot and panting. “You’re filling me, my dear Myrstand. Now, fill me with your essence.”

He almost felt his body crest at her words, but he knew she had not reached completion yet. He may have been inexperienced, but he had learned the basics from an older boy when he was young. He knew that just as men reached a climax, so did women, though he was not sure exactly how he would know. Then, he remembered the bud of flesh that she had shown him. He leaned back, leaving her lying back, and slid his hand between them, finding that spot once more with his fingers. She arched, breasts heaving as he began to thrust and rub at the same time. He wasn’t going to last much longer, so he hoped he was doing the right thing.

Then he felt her start to squeeze him, her body spasming as she let out a long, low moan, legs flexing around his hips. He thrust through it, his own body beginning to come to the end. He groaned out loud, feeling the sensation from his toes on up as he felt it coming onto him faster and faster. His motions became almost frantic as he moved within her body. Finally, he thrust deeply into her and felt the sensation of release wash over him with such power it took his breath from his chest. She clutched him as he came, his heart speeding in his chest. He pulled away and lay down beside her, breath still fast.

“That was amazing,” he whispered, truly having never experienced anything like it before.

“Of course, it was,” Keiara answered, sitting up and putting a hand on his chest. “When it happens at the right time, it cannot be compared to anything else. It is an act of ultimate love.”

“Love?” he asked, turning to her, eyes wide.

She smiled at him. “Yes, my paladin. Love. I love you.”

“How can you say that? We’ve only known each other such a short time?” he asked, but he knew that he too felt the same emotion of love for her.

“We’ve known each other before,” she said, leaning down and kissing him again.

“I don’t understand, but I love you as well,” he said with a look of wonder on his face.

“Just know that what you feel, I feel as well. We are meant to be together, and that is all that matters to me,” she said, stroking his chest for a moment before she placed her head on him.

“To be in love with the Mother of Gods,” he said staring at the ceiling.

She pulled the furs over them and sighed. “Forget what I am, and focus on who I am. And I am Keiara, you lover.”

He nodded, threading fingers through her dark hair and thought about it. Was this meant to be? Was this what the Lord God Aren had intended for him? He clutched her tightly, though, knowing that what he felt was genuine. He wondered what the future had in store for them. Mere days ago he had been sure of his future in all ways, but now, things had all changed. He found Keiara had fallen to sleep in his arms and he smiled because it was perhaps the best feeling he had ever known. He laid there for a few more minutes until sleep finally claimed him.

A pair of blue eyes shined in the darkness at the opening of the cavern and there was a giggle like fairies gathering.

* * * * *

Sanna attracted no attention as she sat in the back of the tavern, a bottle of whiskey and a glass in front of her. She sat by the window, her green eyes staring at some unknown distant place. She swirled the strong drink in the glass and drank it. She’d drained half the bottle already. She sighed. She couldn’t even drown her sorrows in drink; she didn’t have the capacity to get drunk for some reason. She sometimes wondered if it had always been like that. She licked her lips and stared into the tavern, her eyes shifting between the patrons.

With training, she’d calmed the furies inside. With training, she’d accepted the torture she’d endured. With training, she’d done a lot of things that no one should have been able to do. The training was everything. But now, far away from the mountains she trained in, she felt the fury rising in her chest. Everything seemed to trigger the fire within.

Here a man roughly handled one of the bar wenches. Here another man slapped the woman that sat at his side. There another man tried to grab another bar wench’s breast. And there a night lady allowed herself to be fondled in public as the coins passed from his hands in her own. Sanna met eyes with her and read the pain within the smiling face.

Sanna gulped down another drink of the whiskey, wishing to hell she could get drunk. She vaguely wondered why she was drinking the stuff when it tasted horrible and had no merit without the ability to make her lose her senses. She didn’t notice the man who had come up close behind her and was staring intently down her front. She jumped when he dropped his hand onto her bare shoulder.

She looked up, silently cursing the fact he’d snuck up on her.

“Well, now aren’t you an unusual customer in here,” he said smiling and sat himself beside her

She narrowed her eyes at him and wondered what he wanted. He was shorter, nearly an inch shorter than she by what she could tell, and his eyes were red and bleary with drink. Their color was a dull brown, and his hair nearly matched. It was raggedy and chopped at odd angles, as though he’d done it himself. His skin was a ruddy brown, so he was obviously from one of the more southern kingdoms, perhaps Ruark or Petra. He was dressed reasonably well, but not outlandishly, so she could tell he wasn’t a noble or a man of money. He wore a cloak with a red colored hood attached to it.

“I must say,” he said as he drank of a tall glass of amber colored ale. “This place would be more interesting with more like you around.” His voice was deep and rumbling, and Sanna could see how he likely took in the affections of women.

She sipped the small whiskey glass. “What do you mean, ‘more like me’, I might ask?”

He smiled, his teeth yellow but otherwise healthy. “Well, you’re a traveler. Maybe even something more. You’ve got the marks of the fire monks, so you must have stayed with them for a while.”

Sanna leaned back, crossing her legs over one another, the leather of the boots making subtle creaking as they rubbed against each other. “So, you know of the monks. Then I suggest you leave me be, then. I was trained by them.”

The man smiled. “Huh, I heard they don’t train women. So, I doubt that very much.”

Sanna felt the fires raise. “You doubt my word?”

“Of course, I do. You’re a woman. You’re no different from the bar wenches or the whores in here. You’re here seeking something, and I can give it to you, and pay you for it…” he said, sliding his hand to her leg above the top of her boot and under the edge of her skirt.

It was like someone had lit an explosion off in the back of the room. No one in the tavern really saw what had happened, all they knew is that one minute they were enjoying themselves, and the next there was a wave of heat rolling through the room followed by the cracking of the table. The red-haired woman stormed out of the door, leaving the man who had been sitting with her unconscious in the middle of the broken table. No one, not even the man, was sure what had happened.

When Niliern’s authorities reached the Resting Pony a few minutes later, the man was identified as a man wanted in Ruark for the rape and murder of the King’s daughter two years before. They gladly kept the five thousand gold piece reward for delivering the man to the kingdom of Ruark, but there were whispered words of the strange woman who had really took down the Scarlet Hood of Ruark.

On the far side of the room, a man with a bandaged arm sat drinking lost in thought when his friend returned. The second man, wearing a red shirt, sat down and asked what happened.

“The most amazing thing ever, Cage.”

Cage looked around at the chaos. “Amazing thing? Looks like someone got their ass kicked over there. Was it a big brawl? Come on, Jovan, I leave for a moment and all the action happens.”

Jovan drained his mug to dull the aching in his arm. “It was that red-haired woman with the staff. She did it.”

Cage looked at them dragging off the man in bindings. “What? By herself?”

“In less than a minute, I’m not kidding. I didn’t even see him do anything, or her either. One minute she was sitting there, and that guy sat down with her. You saw how she’d been putting away whiskey since she got here, I figured I might have to intervene if the bastard started anything with her, but I didn’t get a chance. He was up in the air and through the table with such force that I felt it through the floorboards. Turns out he’s a wanted man, the Scarlet Hood or something like that. But she left, and those knuckleheads are taking the reward.”

Cage furrowed his brow. Could she have been one of the ones he was supposed to find? Perhaps. But for now, he had to get Jovan drunk so he could take him back easier. He would be a formidable opponent.

“If I didn’t know better I’d say you were smitten by the lass,” Cage said, flashing a goofy grin for a second.

“Yeah,” Jovan said, resting his half drunken head on one hand and smiling in an equally goofy manner.

Cage nearly snorted. He was smitten with her after all…

* * * * *

The day passed with the two wrapped up in each other. Lena used their stores to cook a meager meal of dried meat and vegetables. As the evening came she went into the room where they slept in each other’s arms. She gently touched Keiara’s shoulder and she turned and looked at her.

“Mistress,” she whispered.

Keiara smiled. “Please, don’t call me that…”

“Yes, mistress,” Lena answered, gaining a dim smile from Keiara, and continued. “I’ve made a stew for the meal.”

“Alright, it is time for Myrstand to set out for our next addition,” she said standing, not even really noticing her nudity. She stretched and replaced the black frock she’d been wearing and then shook Myrstand to wakefulness.

“Is it morning?” he whispered.

Keiara smiled and beckoned as she walked away. Lena stared at him as he stood up and he grinned at her. Then, realizing that he was naked he dropped back into the bedding.

“Get out of here!” he shouted, his face burning red. Lena giggled and ran after her mistress.

Slowly he dressed again and then headed outside to relieve himself. He realized it wasn’t morning, in fact it was nearly twilight. He rushed back inside to find the two women doling out a stew.

“It’s already…” he started.

“Yes, almost dusk. Hurry and eat, you must meet the monk,” Keiara said, smiling.

Myrstand cleared his throat and quickly ate. “Monk?” he asked around a mouth of hot food.

Keiara nodded. “She’s a monk of the sacred flame, and she’s not easy to miss.”

Myrstand nodded and finished his food. He grabbed his sword and bag and headed out. Not easy to miss? He wondered what exactly that meant.

* * * * *

Sanna was still full of a fury born of anger and fire as she headed in the direction of the mountains. It was then she looked up and noticed the man dressed in armor that stood in the road ahead of her. She stopped and stared. He had a shock of wild blonde hair on his head and stood beside a large chestnut colored horse. For some reason, it was like Sanna knew who he was at the same time as not knowing. It was as if she knew that destiny had come to call on her.

Myrstand smiled to himself. Hard to miss indeed. Between the fire red hair, the fire tattoos, and the look about her that said she didn’t care for weapons, he thought it was very clear who she was.

He slowly approached her and nodded to her. “I’m Myrstand of Darna, the emissary of the Dark Phoenix. I’ve come to bring you to her.”

She nodded slowly. “Sanna,” she said reaching out her hand.

“Sanna,” Myrstand nodded. “She said to seek the monk of the sacred flame,” he commented, shaking her hand, firm and with little doubt. She returned the handshake, and Myrstand noted it was stronger than most men’s handshakes.

She didn’t ask any more questions, simply walked past him where he had come. Myrstand walked beside her, and he noticed she stood nearly as tall as he, and he could not take his eyes off the staff she walked with. He’d never seen a gem like that. They came to the cavern that Keiara had come to call home. He walked in and saw no one at first.

“Myr!” he heard and smiled. He was nearly tackled by the small, frail woman child. He hefted Lena up in his arms easily. She was only about five feet in height and might have weighed a hundred pounds, and she was still very frail.

He set the young woman down and kissed her forehead. “You’re back! I was hoping you wouldn’t have trouble on the road,” she announced.

He smiled. “Yes, sweet, I am, meet Sanna,” he said, motioning to the redhead beside him. Lena looked up and smiled.

Then her smile melted. Sanna stared at her for a moment, having seen the pointed canines that signaled the fact she was not entirely human. She seemed friendly enough with the Paladin, so she didn’t understand.

“What is it?” Myrstand asked Lena softly, noting her change in demeanor.

Lena blinked a couple times. “You are…”

“Welcome, Sanna,” a loud female voice boomed suddenly, interrupting Lena’s thought. From a higher ledge something dark seemed to float down, and then it walked forward and as she got closer, Sanna saw that it was a woman with flawless ivory skin, and eyes like the night, and over the left eye and cheek, infinity rested. Sanna didn’t speak. She saw all possibilities in the woman before her.

“Perhaps I can even answer your questions of your path, child,” Keiara said as she came forward and grasped her by the face and stared into her emerald eyes.

Lena turned to her mistress but felt Keiara’s mental shush on the issues that Lena could see. The woman before her was not truly what others could see. Lena could See past the Webbing that coated the woman. The Webbing was intricate, and very powerful, and Lena would not have guessed that she would be able to see through something of that power, but she could. The woman before her was not human, but something else entirely. She said no more, as it seemed that Keiara knew very well what this woman was. She felt Myrstand’s eyes on her, wondering what it was she would have said.

Myrstand looked up at Keiara then, seeing no answer from the small vampiress. Once again, he felt himself enraptured by her. His heart ached to know all that she knew, and he ached to lie with her still. He shook the carnal thoughts away. That was crazy, he was a chaste man, he shouldn’t think those things, but every time he looked at her he could only think of being with her in every way…

“Do you come to me, willingly following me, Monk of the Sacred Flame?” the dark and beautiful woman said, in Sanna’s mind, and out. And Sanna knew, there was always a choice. “Do you come to me willing to let me train you how to quell the fires within you that you cannot yet control? Do you come willing to do what I ask of you?”

“Oh, yes,” she said and bowed to her.



Submitted: May 31, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Beverly L. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Check out Beverly L. Anderson's Book

Dark and the Sword

The world of Avern has be abandoned by the gods, or so it appears. The Mother of Gods is reborn in the body of a dethroned princess and will do whatever it takes to save her children.


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