Belar the Mighty: The Lost Sister Ch. 01byYummyTiger©
I would like to thank my editor and those who provided me valuable feedback!
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The noise emanating from the Sea Maiden tavern was often the only thing heard throughout the warm, salty nighttime air of the docks. Gone were the bustling merchants and stone-faced city guards who populated the area during the day, retreating to the safety found within the walls of Lanos' main district. Every night the tavern became a haven for the city's roughest denizens, and the ever-boisterous crowd would often drink well into the morning. Two goons could always be found manning the door, their hands hovering above their weapons, waiting for the inevitable brawl.
Inside, there were none of the extravagances of the pubs within the city. It contained no cushioned chairs, or sparkling crystal glasses, and no traveling musicians chose this tavern to sing their wares. Instead, a lone minstrel, if you could call him that, sat on a dirty wooden floor belting out rowdy tales of brigands and vagabonds. Three worn wooden tables stretched out before him, filled with shouting patrons drinking from rusty iron mugs. The room reeked of stale beer and vomit, but that did not stop the dockhands and thugs from packing it full, for it was the only tavern still running outside the city walls.
This night, as most nights, a giant of a man sat at the end of the farthest table. Three stools filled every table's end, but the ones to Belar's left and right remained vacant. Even the city's underbelly viewed him as a dangerous animal, best avoided. The few who sat in his vicinity tended to look in every direction but his. One or two in the tavern might have outweighed him, but it was not due to muscle. He wore a brown tunic that smelled eerily similar to the room he sat in and stretched in protest whenever he moved.
Belar grabbed his mug from the table, took a deep swig and belched loudly. His eyes were focused not on the minstrel, but on the serving wenches, Maddy and Cecilia. They were the owner's daughters and, wearing those low-cut outfits, the real entertainment. Cecilia was the family beauty. She walked through the tavern crowd with a look of disdain, her nose typically pointed skyward as she slammed mug after mug of ale on the tables. Her lithe body maneuvered gracefully between the outstretched hands of the patrons and if one did happen to get lucky, the goons were quick to pounce.
Maddy was the other daughter, and was Cecilia's sister in name only. While she did not have Cecilia's elegant stature and grace, she more than made up for it in personality. She showed none of her sister's arrogance as she served the patrons. While Belar would not call her fat, she had more meat on her bones and her robust frame made navigating the narrow aisles a greater challenge. More often than not, those hands would find their target and the resulting pinch would elicit a squeal. The crowd would beat their mugs on the table and roar in approval as her face shifted red. Belar downed the mug's remaining contents and felt a familiar rush in his loins.
"Maddy, another round!" he roared, lifting the empty mug high.
Spit and ale flew from his lips, spraying the man sitting closest. The man turned and looked from Belar to the massive hammer on the floor beside him and back. He wiped the spittle from his face and turned back without a word. Belar laughed loudly; he had no respect for cowards.
"Maddy!" he roared again, slamming the mug onto the table.
Maddy turned from the bar, waved a mug in the air and started towards him. Her full bosom heaved as she approached. Who said having a little meat on your bones was bad? His eyes devoured the lush figure and his desire grew. Her trip resulted in more squeals and more raucous laughter. When she reached him her face was deep red.
"I heard you the first time," she said as she placed the mug on the table.
Those luscious mounds hovered mere inches away and Belar could not resist. He grasped the shirt's top with his right hand and yanked her into his lap. She shrieked in surprise and tried to squirm free. Belar's hands latched onto her breasts and held her in place. His manhood pushed eagerly against his trousers and into her ample bottom. One hand found the hard nub of her breast and pinched it through the cloth. Maddy squeaked and started swinging blindly at his face. Belar laughed at her attempts and continued his fun. Many were now watching the scene enthusiastically and shouting suggestions. The goons from the bar were trying to push through the crowd, but those eager to see more were not making it easy.
Maddy continued her struggle, but it was a fruitless effort. Belar held her easily and slid his hand underneath her top. His hand surrounded the soft flesh of her tit and pulled it free. Cheers filled the room as the men leered at the naked flesh. Belar playfully kneaded the bare tit while his other hand roamed downwards. It pushed between her legs and savored the warmth of her sex beneath the thin undergarments.
"Belar you pig! Get your filthy hands off her!"
Belar spun around to find Cecilia standing behind him, swinging a mug towards his head. He raised a hand to shield himself, but it was too late. The mug crashed against his forehead and he rocked backwards. His vision blurred and he felt Maddy jump from his lap. Her hand smacked his face a moment later, leaving his cheek tingling. When his vision cleared, Maddy's top was back in place and she stood beside her sister with her hands on her hips; two goons right behind. The man at his table was smirking at his misfortune. His rage threatened to break free, but he quickly contained it. He had little doubt that he could handle the tavern's bouncers, but they did not deserve it. His fun was over… for now.
"I'm sorry," Belar grumbled, "Please take this for your trouble."
He tossed a few gold coins on the table. Maddy's eyes widened at the sight of gold and she snatched them away. Cecilia continued to glare, but when the goons turned back to the bar, she knew she would get no satisfaction and stomped away. Maddy hesitated as if about to speak before dropping her eyes to the floor and following. The smirk disappeared from the man at his table's face as he realized Belar would not be leaving. He stared into his mug as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. The minstrel restarted his song and the crowd settled back into their normal routine. Within minutes, the whole exchange was a distant memory. Belar took a drink from his new mug and went back to watching.
The goon grunted his displeasure at being relegated to serving ale as he slammed the mug in front of Belar. Belar was just as disappointed, neither sister would serve him. He was about to take his frustration out on the man close to him when the tavern went silent. Every face in the tavern was pointed at a woman dressed in white robes standing at the entrance. It was no wonder everyone had gone silent. Priestesses of Amur did not frequent the docks, even during the day. The priestess ignored the stares and calmly scanned the room. When her head came to a stop, she was looking directly at Belar. She started in his direction and wooden stools scraped against the floor as patrons moved clear. Belar took a swig of ale; he was going to need it.
"Belar I presume?" the priestess asked.
"Depends on who's asking."
"I'm asking," she replied, less than amused, "May I sit?"
Belar nodded and watched her warily. Two delicate hands emerged from the robe's sleeves and reached up to pull the hood back. Long, red curls spilled free and Belar drew in his breath. She was gorgeous. All priestesses were beautiful, but he had only ever seen them from a distance. They were blessed ones and he was not exactly a pious man. Sitting before him, he could not help but gawk at her. He was not the only one, many others who had been secretly watching before were openly staring now.
"Belar, I have come to ask for your help."
Belar drained the remaining ale. What would a priestess need with him?
"My sister was kidnapped earlier today," she continued, "I would like to hire you to help me rescue her."
Rescue her kidnapped sister? It sounded like a job for the city guard or one of the knights.
"Why come to me?" Belar responded.
"Priest Francis told me to seek you out, will you help me or not?"
There was agitation in her voice; she did not like coming to him. Francis' name surprised him, but he did not show it. Belar had not seen or heard from Francis since before the priesthood. He owed it to the priest to at least hear her out.
"I'm listening," he told her.
"Not here," she replied.
He understood, not only was every eye on them, but every ear as well. The priestess pulled the hood back up and stood from the table. Belar rose as well, towering above her. He scanned the crowd. Most of the patrons were looking at their drinks or the minstrel, pretending not to notice, but the bar was unnaturally quiet. Belar knew their attention was them. He retrieved his hammer from the floor, muscles bulging from the weight of the massive weapon and slid it into the holster on his back. He took his time, letting everyone see. He did not want them following. The priestess shook her head at the display, thinking him to be showing off. When they started towards the door, stools scraped the floor once again as patrons made the path even wider.
Anybody walking past would have performed a double-take upon seeing them exit. They made an unusual pair. Belar kept a constant vigil as they walked through the quiet dockside. They climbed the steady rise towards the city. Dark alleyways lined the dirt road, filled with those who would prey on the unwary. Belar felt their gaze from within the darkness. He walked with the stride of a seasoned warrior, exuding confidence and the war hammer strapped to his back only accentuated the point. Most of the underground knew him and knew there was much easier prey to be had.
The city gate creaked open at their approach. Belar had never seen the gates open for anyone other than nobility after dark. Apparently a priestess commanded the authority to do so as well. She marched between the gates, ignoring the guards with their knuckles pressed to their foreheads. The cobblestone streets inside were a far cry from the dirt roads they had come from. Lamp posts dotted the landscape, illuminating the many signs that hung on each side. Stores, inns and pubs lined the street, but at this hour most were dark inside. The priestess never once looked back as she strode purposefully down the street.
When they turned into the temple square, a giant statue of Amur greeted them. The statue stood in the center of the plaza, watching. Belar felt a little uneasy under its gaze and suddenly regretted what he had done to Maddy earlier. Maybe I will have Francis forgive me, he thought with a laugh. If the priestess heard him, she ignored it. They walked past the large ceremonial double doors that served as the temple's entrance and instead to a small door on the building's side. She gave the wooden door a light knock and the latch clicked a moment later, someone had been waiting. The door creaked open and Belar barely recognized the aged face that appeared.
"Thank you for coming Belar," Francis said.
Belar stood dumbstruck, Francis was only a few years his senior, but he looked sixty.
"Please come in," Francis said before Belar could speak.
He moved aside and Belar followed the priestess into the temple. He was standing in a narrow hallway leading to the back of the temple. Through an open doorway ahead, Belar recognized the main worship area. It was the only room he had ever visited in the temple, and that was long ago. Francis and the priestess set off down the hallway and Belar followed, still eyeing his friend with confusion. He did not pretend to know anything about priesthood, but he had never heard of it unnaturally aging someone.
They led him to a small study that he had to duck down to enter. The simple room reinforced the temple's principles. A plain wooden desk stood at the far end with two wooden chairs before it. The small shelf at its side was the room's only other furnishing. A lone candle sat on the desk, giving the room a haunted glow. Francis moved behind the desk and motioned for them to sit. The chair groaned under Belar's weight.
"Again, thank you for coming," Francis started once he had seated, "I assured Taria that you were the one to seek out."
The priestess sat beside him, her eyes on the priest.
"I am sure you are wondering why I had her seek you out," Francis continued.
"The thought had crossed my mind," Belar replied, "But now I am more interested in what happened to you."
Francis cracked a smile for the first time since Belar had arrived. Shades of the old Francis appeared.
"Let's just say that doing Amur's work is not always easy, but that is a story for another time. Right now time is not our ally. What do you know?"
"Her sister was kidnapped," Belar said jabbing a finger in Taria's direction, "And for some reason you sent her to me instead of the city guard or the knights."
Francis brought his fingers together, forming a pyramid in front of his mouth. He seemed to planning his next words carefully.
"Her sister's name is Cyan and yes, she was kidnapped earlier today," Francis said finally, "Cyan is a priestess in training. She was taken from the farm."
Belar leaned forward. He had heard rumors of the farm. Supposedly, it was where disciples of Amur were taken for training, but few knew anything more. There were even questions as to whether it actually existed. Francis took note of Belar's sudden interest.
"Old friend, please do not ask questions concerning the farm."
Belar nodded, he was beginning to understand why they had come to him and not the guard. The wizards would pay a hefty price for information about the farm.
"The farm and its details are irrelevant," Francis continued, "What is important is that Cyan was taken while at the farm, which has never happened before. To do this, the kidnapper would have needed powerful enchantments."
Belar did not like where this was headed. He distrusted magic, both religious and scholarly. His faith lay with the hammer on his back. Granted it had enchantments of its own, but those enchantments lay within the metal itself. In Belar's mind that was a more earthly magic, one not tainted by man.
"I can only think of a few that could have entered unnoticed and only one that makes sense, the Onekyh."
Belar slid back in his chair, the last piece fell into place. The Onekyh were the creations of the old wizards, beast men that were to be their guardians. Meeting an Onekyh usually meant death to a man and worse to a woman. Wizards' distrust of women was no secret. They saw them as seducers of men and the root of all evil. Their distrust is what led to the ancient rift between the temple and the academy. It was also this distrust that led to the wizards creating only male Onekyh, a decision that would prove their undoing. Combining man and beast did not diminish the natural drive to reproduce, it only increased it. The Onekyh had no mates and began to desire the mistresses of their masters, human women.
When the wizards realized what was happening, they forbade the Onekyh any female contact. In their rage, the Onekyh turned on their masters. They proved as ruthless against their masters as they had been against their enemies. Many Onekyh and wizards perished in the war that followed. In time, the wizards realized they were fighting a losing battle and granted the Onekyh their freedom. The surviving Onekyh went into hiding and forged a new society. Still a slave to their lust, they began to pilfer human females from the country villages. The wizards did their best to hide their failure and stamp out the Onekyh's existence. The rural kidnappings became the work of ruffians and vagabonds. Today, few outside the academy know of the old guardians and to speak of them publicly would be to invite its wrath. Belar only knew because his mother had been one of those kidnapped. He was the resulting offspring.
"What makes you think the Onekyh are involved?" Belar replied, his voice devoid of emotion.
Taria turned towards him, surprised that he knew of the Onekyh. Those blue eyes looked at him appraisingly before widening in realization. She knew.
"The farm is blessed by Amur himself. Few can enter it undetected. I know of one or two wizards who might be able to pull it off, but they would not come to kidnap a priestess in training," Francis replied, "The Onekyh, on the other hand, have a natural resistance to priestly magic stemming from their creation. They could have breached the farm undetected. To them, it would be just another farm and Cyan just another pretty mate."
Belar could not argue with his logic. Any priestess in training would be just what the Onekyh were looking for. Their lust knew no bounds. Belar could relate.
"If what you say is true, you have a day, maybe two, before she is taken," Belar informed them.
Water filled Taria's eyes and he could feel the hatred burning behind them.
"That is why we must leave tonight," she said.
Belar smirked and turned back to Francis.
"What does she mean by we? If I agree to help, I go alone."
"You will help and you will--" she started to reply but Francis cut her off.
"Belar, a priestess of Amur is not to be underestimated. She has powers that can aid you and also shares a bond with her sister that will lead right to her."
Belar turned back to Taria. She challenged his stare. Her striking beauty ignited the animal lust within him and his eyes crept downwards. He wondered what kind of body lie hidden beneath those robes. Having a priestess of Amur along is not to be underestimated indeed. The corners of his mouth crept into a smile.
"If I agree to help, I expect to be well compensated."
Belar ignored Taria's angry harrumph. Francis's expression remained neutral, he had expected as much.
"The temple's coffers are deep and you have my word that you will be amply rewarded."
"Then I will go," Belar said after a moment of contemplation.
Francis's stoic demeanor broke and he let out a sign of relief, "Thank you old friend."
"We must leave immediately," Taria interjected.
Belar stood and turned to her. He head was inches from the ceiling and she looked up at him, doing her best to maintain her composure.
"If you are to come with me, you will stop giving orders," he said in a dangerous tone of voice, "You will follow my command without question, for our lives WILL depend on it."
Belar was intimidating, even to a priestess and her defiance faltered. She looked unsure for the first time since they had met.
"You had best change into something more appropriate. Those robes will do nothing but stick out and slow us down."
Anger flashed across her face and the wooden chair skidded when she stood, "I was obviously going to change," she replied before stalking from the room.
Belar smiled at her retreating figure, her defiance only made her that much more attractive. He turned back to Francis who had watched the exchange in silence.
"Please go easy on her. She and her sister are very close, this has hit her hard."
"She will have to learn to control her emotions. I will not allow them to put me at risk."
Francis nodded in understanding. This was not a task to be taken lightly.
"I have prepared a pack of supplies for you, potions and rations. Two horses are waiting in the stables."
Belar calmed himself and he nodded his appreciation. Potions were an expensive commodity and no small gift. They would also fetch a good price if he was able to save them.
"Thank you. I need to retrieve some things from my room before we leave. Tell her to meet me at the stables."