Durand's Story Pt. 01bymadam_noe©
This story is a companion to "The Forever Ghosts" and "Swimming the Dusty River," however, if you read this first, that's fine.
Durand (seen in this story), Alex, Donna, Santiago, and Mark (not in this story, see the others mentioned above) Are the central characters in a novel I am trying to publish, which I plan to be a series of 12.
This story is short, but the first part in a long, very complicated history. Durand is arguably the most prominent hybrid Portagonist/Antagonist in the novels, and his history explains much of my fictional world of vampires. Someday I hope to publish the complete history of Durand as a companion novel to my series, much the way Laurell K. Hamilton did "Micah."
She was a gypsy to his eyes. Tall for a woman, lithe, her curves lush and soft. Her hair was a cascade of rich chocolate waves, her eyes mysteriously dark. Like many of the denizens in these foreign lands to his eyes, her skin was honey-kissed, completely alien to the pale white limbs of the women of his ancestral home outside of Toulouse.
She wore the clothes of a bought woman, her flesh bared as the women he'd known would never do. Her stomach fluttered with every move of the dance, her fingers snapping small cymbals in time to the music.
Still she was no ordinary camp girl, and why she danced for him Durand knew. She smelled on him the secret he'd kept. Fully grown, having seen 22 winters pass, Michele Durand du Saint Giles, was a virgin.
Unlike his fellow warriors, he kept to the camp, never mingling with the camp followers, the bedraggled wives and concubines of the Norsemen, the whores who profited. Nor did he preach his values to them, for the Norsemen were still very much pagans, incapable of understanding his love of Christ and ways of the single, true God.
Alone and away from his people, his mother tongue, Durand felt a strange kinship with the heathen they battled. For they too worshipped the one true God, and their ways were fastidious in preserving morality. Too, the Seljuks were admirable warriors.
Having been promised to the Chruch he had never left if officially, was still a man of God, and though he slew men every day, it was with the blessing of the lord and Pope Urban II. Sins of the flesh were the final barrier that stood between him and true consecration to God.
Even now hiss brother Raymond moved troops to them, the Comites as much a man of God as his half brother, the bastard Durand. United in their war, he knew he could join his brother's men and return home a hero, a knight of Christ, no longer the bastard offspring of great Comites.
Still something about this woman, waving to the distant chirp and bang of musicians entertaining the camp called to him. Here and now was the choice of life; follow the teachings of Christ or surrender to the temptations of the devil.
She waved closer to him, her dark, kohl-lined eyes and strange, long black lashes unmoving as she peered into his soul. The dark of night was her backdrop, the small fire of the group of tents in the north corner of the camp her territory. She moved like the wind, stirring the familiar ache in his loins, and the hoots and calls of the other warriors around him faded in his mind.
The music receded until she danced to his heartbeat; he and the girl were alone in the world. The pale blond heads of the fierce men around them melded into the fire until her knees touched his.
He jerked, and his great sword slipped and fell off his perch, the Norsemen around them laughing.
The woman stopped dancing and glared at them, as if defending him. He was touched.
"That one's a pouf from France!" One man jeered in his native tongue. "Come over here if you want a real man!"
The woman turned to him, her head cocked like a curious dog's.
"He has insulted me," Durand husked in the language of the Turks.
"You know our words." The statement was surprised, her eyes and tone gave nothing away.
"I have a talent for tongues."
She smiled at that, every inching up of her lush lips was a caress along his inner thighs, making him blush darkly at the innuendo.
"Will you walk me to the edge of camp?" She asked him, bending to pick up the coins flung at her during her performance.
He nodded, stood, and belted his sword sheath around his loose tunic. Again the Norsemen jeered at his skirt-like cloth, ignoring the metal trousers below. Durand ignored them and put his hand on the small of the woman's back, guiding her away.
Though she had danced close to the fire, her flesh was cool. Where his rough hands touched her, he felt tingles. "Do you need a protector while you are in camp?"
She shook her head. "I do not sell myself, only my dance, my man of the one God."
He stopped and watched her step forward, turning back with a smile. "Yes, I know. The red cross on your tunic...it means the one God of the pale people. Not the God of mine, not in his messages. Still, we believe the same, why do we fight?"
He blinked at the question. No woman had ever spoken so plainly to him, with such intelligence. He was tempted to brush off her unwomanly question as he would have done with a French girl, but Durand felt himself unable to deny the witch anything. "Land, and power. A very old empire, split in two, is all that remains of once great people. Now the eastern empire is threatened by your empire."
She smiled at him, a fire lighting in the back of her eyes. For a horrible moment he feared she was ghost, and then she blinked slowly, the false image disappearing. "Thank you, for speaking my language, and treating me with respect, man of the one god amongst the North men."
She stepped to him, and he, a full knight of one year, a man who had stared down enemies on many different battlefields, was captured by her. She reached up and slid her hands behind his head as her breasts met his chest. His breath froze and he let himself follow her lead as she bent him down, and kissed him.
He fumbled, unsure, but she smoothly purred against him like a cat, running her tongue against the seam of his lips until he parted them, then she slid in. He felt drunk on her immediately, clutching her arms, holding her tightly against him.
She moved her mouth like her body had done during the dance, undulating, slanting across his. He had kissed many girls before he had been confirmed, but none had ever shown the depth of skill or passion as this camp girl had.
He let himself go, let his tongue explore her mouth as well, uncaring who saw him, uncaring of everything.
She pulled back. "Thank you for your escort. I will dance for you again."
"But wait, we're not our of camp." he turned to look for better light, to see how far they had to go, but when he turned back, his mysterious lady was gone.
Alone in his tent, he drew his sword, placed it on the ground until it formed the familiar and comforting cross, and knelt. In Latin he prayed, hiss thanks to God, his questions to the saints. From Thomas of Aquinas he asked for forbearance, the ability to withstand the temptation if he ever did see the camp girl again.
In closing he praised the Trinity, said his penance for the 13 lives he'd taken that day in battle, and finally knelt on his bedroll.
He had shared the tent with three other men, but two were now dead and one was wounded, dying on the battlefield. If Raymond and the other nobles who'd answered the Pope's call didn't arrive soon, the cause was lost.
Closing his eyes he thought of his beautiful mother, his proud father, his homeland. Once he missed the beauty of the women, but a dark eyed gyspy girl haunted his thoughts.
"You are losing."
He jumped at the ready, sword drawn, the tip of it just pricing between her lovely breasts. Durand lowered it, but kept his has hand on it, uneasy. "How did you come to be here?"
"There are not nearly as many men here as three days ago. No one stopped me from my wanderings."
"We have lost many." They may not have welcomed him as much as his services with a sword, but Durand ached for his comrades. They may have been baptized, their hearts to the many Gods, but now he wondered if he should not find the bodies and give them last rights. His stomach rumbled from hunger, prompting the brief thought he might volunteer as a sin eater.
She smiled. "You are quite a man. Your heart to your Christ, your sword to a King not your own. What about your body?"
Gulping, he watched as she stepped towards him, one slender, cool hand on his collarbone, tracing it as she began to circle. His balls tightened, his groin slightly itching as he fought the surging desire.
"My body belongs to Christ as well."
He turned to his left side where her hand caressed his sword in a most, crude, suggestive manner. His body lost the fight.
"You fight with your left hand...the evil hand. Does not your culture say this is the hand of evil?"
He nodded slowly. "But God cares not which arm I fight with, as long as I am strong and skillful."
She stopped, put a hand on his face and cupped his cheek. "Tell me something, priest. Confess to me a sin."
He trembled, but he saw in her comfort, no light, but a soft place. "I covet my brother's wife."
She smiled. "Your people have a concept called courtly love. I would expect no less from a knight than covet a married woman. A true sin. Confess to me."
Entranced, he took a deep breath. "I tried to kill my brother for her, and I was banished."
She pulled him down and he dropped the sword to hold her shoulders. She kissed him, a whisper of her lips on his. "I forgive you." Then she kissed him.
Time swam in his mind, flashes of intent, guilt, warring with the searing desire. She stripped his tunic, stroking the muscles built by hard labor, cooing over the sweat from the day. She even stroked the blood left on him by other men, and the sight of it was deeply erotic.
"Take off these strange trousers, and sit, please."
He was unable to stop his body from responding as she requested, unpinning the metal from the leather around his waist, stripping until he was naked to her, strangely unashamed at his protruding cock.
She backed away, and began to dance. Dressed still in enticing strips of cloth that barely covered her breasts and the juncture of her thighs, her movements were far more uninhibited. She wiggled and spun, bent her body, working it up as her arms moved in the most graphic depiction of the carnal act he'd ever seen.
She moved close and he reached out to touch her, but she whirled away, her hair whipping past him. It had the clean smell of some foreign flower, and he found himself burning for her.
She spread her legs in a jerking movement, close to him, and he saw a flash of her nether lips, wet with desire. In all his long years, he had never felt this way, and he knew he was dying.
Smiling, she bent backwards again, exposing more, and worked her way up with a blush.
Finally the unheard music stopped, and she dropped to his knees. "In this, I am a great teacher."
She spread his legs, making hi gasp and clutch the trunk he was perched on. Cool hands on his hot inner thighs, she leaned forward, and licked his cock from balls to tip.
He choked. Never had he dreamed of such a sensation, never had he imagined such pleasure. She licked him, again, and again, and his breath came out in pants. Then the gyspy covered the tip with her mouth and began to suckle.
Untried as he was, he felt the climax building quickly, and tried to move her head, but he held on harder. The orgasm shook his entire aching body, curled his toes with the force, made him cry out in his mother tongue.
He came down to see her eyes glittering up at him, shocked to see the white essence he had ejaculated on her lips. She licked it then, like a cat after cream, and he knew his eyes widened.
"Sodomy," was all he could say, knowing he had damned his eternal soul."
Her eyes dimmed. "I will leave you now to deal with your demons. When you conquer them, I will be back."
He closed his eyes in shame, heard nothing, and when he opened them, she was gone. Durand hadn't even discovered her name.
The battlefield stank of death. Dogs and ravens covered it, plucking eyes from the dying, tearing meat from the dead. There were too few priests in the Norse camp, but more than enough pillagers.
Though he would be strong enough to move, Durand was not yet. A wizened old woman bent over him, mumbling in a strange language, reaching for the silver cross around his throat.
He drew his dagger with his right hand and held it to her throat. "I am not dead yet," he said, repeating it in every language he knew.
She drew back, eyes wide, rambling in a language he did not know, repeating one word with great panic. "Avestan!"
Her cries grew and more men and woman looting the field gathered. Wincing, Durand climbed to his feet, his left arm numb from bloodloss. He transferred the dagger to his left hand and wearily raised his sword with his right.
"Get back!" he screamed in the language of the Turks.
Only one man seemed to understand, as the crowd took up the chant; "Avestan, Avestan, Avestan."
"What are they saying?"
The short man with haunted eyes nodded. "They are pilgrims, traveling back home. Avestan is a demon in their beliefs, he possesses bodies of the dead to spread disease and uncleanliness to the land."
Durand laughed hollowly. "Putrification is natural. I am alive, these dead will pollute your water, I will not."
The little man stepped forward. "You are marked for death, Avestan has left his mark, the old woman said. Run now, run from this battle. Go home to the pale people with dark hair, knight. Death awaits you here."
He had never run from a fight in his life, but Durand turned and fled back to camp as the chill of those words rode over him. For the first time in his life, he felt the absence of God.
She came that night. Durand lay in bed, his wound bandaged with a dirty cloth and cow's urine to stave off infection. He felt weak, and for a moment wondered if he dreamed of her.
Turning his heavy head, only one word escaped; "Avestan,"
Her eyes widened, and then he let the darkness claim him.
When he awoke he was not alone. He was naked, warm, and the girl was pressed to him. He was gripped by a sudden, unquenchable lust that shook his body.
"It is time," she said and rolled over to mount him.
He panicked, bucking to unseat her, but she clung to him with inhuman strength and the actions of his hips only sank his cock into her. He closed his eyes at the silken, wet heat. It was exquisite, surely more pleasure than heaven itself could offer.
"I don't even know your name," he whispered.
"Layla. Now relax," she bent down to claim his lips and raised her hips, sinking back down.
He gasped and clutched her, head swimming. "God!"
She began to move furiously, the sight of her golden body moving over his fueled his lust higher. In mere seconds he peaked, the orgasm rolling over him. He cried out guttural meaningless words, her laughter rolling out, but he sensed it was joy she expressed, not condemnation of his short stamina.
He collected himself to realize he was still hard inside her. "Do...do women feel such a thing as well?"
Again she laughed, and moved aside to unwrap his wound.
"Wait, no, I need that there or I'll get the fever."
She bared it, tearing it open again with the removal of the sticky cloth, and reached down to the floor. She brought up a pitcher and again he protested, but she poured it over the wound.
"Shh," she said again when he whimpered from the pain, his erection flagging.
She bent to it again, and to his shock, pressed her lips there as if kissing the wound. She pulled, and his erection hardened again. She pulled more and he felt her fucking him, but her body was still. He peaked wordlessly, shocked, the orgasm roaring through his jerking body.
And then she licked the wound and he felt a burning sensation.
She pulled back and he watched in horror as the wound closed, his flesh whole.
"No!" He threw her off and she landed on the cold ground, watching him as he grabbed his sword and pointed at at her. "Succubus!"
She shook her head. "I am not from here, my people follow the ways of Zoroaster. Such is common with us."
"Demon witch, I should slay you!"
She smiled at him. "You will not. You can not."
He brought the sword back, over his shoulder, and she did not flinch. He froze, his body suddenly unable to move. "Demon!"
She stood then, grabbed her clothes, and stepped to his trembling form. She caressed his cheek. "You will call to me when it is time. I will know."
And then she simply vanished. The second she was gone, his body was able to move. Durand knelt, panicked, praying to his sword, begging forgiveness. But no sign came.
He was dying. Durand knew it, and his thoughts turned to the old woman and the small man of days ago. He was dying, Raymond had not even reached the distant lands. He could never apologize to hiss brother, never warn him about his evil wife. He was dying without the proper rites, and knew his soul would be consigned to hell. It was just as well, he had sinned, he had given his body to a female demon, and now he was being punished as he should be.
He drew his sword onto his chest, clutching it tight, hoping that in death his grip would keep it from the scavengers. He took a deep breath, the action paining the deep gut wound he had received, and prayed to Joseph, sainted ward of Christ. "Please let my brother find my sword; please let him forgive my earthly sins; please let him rejoice in my death not in petty vengeance."
"You need not die."
He jerked at Layla's voice, the action making him bite his lip against the pain.
"I heard your call." She bent over him, still dressed in the robes of a people not her own, her dark eyes filled with worry.
"Get thee away from me, demon!" he harshly whispered in Latin.
She bent over him. "You will awaken in the dark, reborn. A Child of the ages. Sunlight, fire, living wood to your heart can kill you, but nothing else. You will feel the need to hunt, you will vomit up food. Nothing else do you need to know."
"Christ compels you! Away from me!"
She hissed at him, bent down, and he felt her puncture his neck. With every beat of his heart he felt a terrible pleasure. His body, slain and awaiting death, found a way to peak, and he screamed in agony.
The orgasms slowed, but continued, even as he felt his heartbeat dim. He still railed against her, his hearing dying, his breath stilling, his body going cold and numb.
Finally, he could speak no more, and his eyesight was narrowing. The last thing he saw before death staked its hold, was Layla biting her arm, and pressing it to his mouth.
"Goodbye, my sweet," she said. And then he died.