Hail & Kill Ch. 01byvelvetpie©
Her morning had begun simply enough.
Every morning in her life had started with the rising of the suns, Teyra, the viridian-hued globe that signified spring and Omarona, a bright orange sun that provided heat and light. This morning, she watched them rise, her work clothes already wet with sweat and her arms aching from her chores. It was always the same. Milk the cows. Water the new shoots. Clean the stalls. Feed the animals. Every morning, she performed these tasks as if she was a robot.
Every morning, except today.
This morning, Morganya arose an hour early and snuck out of the cottage she shared with her father and stepmother, creeping into the goat pen. The animals bleated in welcome but she didn't have time to acknowledge them. She stumbled in the cold darkness, her hands searching for the watering trough. When her roughened fingers found it, she knelt in the thick mud and shoved her hand underneath. Where is it? The mud clumped around her searching digits, the cold bleeding into her flesh.
Then she felt it. The rounded hilt of the sword. She wrapped her frozen fingers around the burlap-covered item and dragged it out. The heavy steel weapon bore her to the ground temporarily and she hefted its filthy length. It took her a few minutes to get to the well but after a few moments, a sleek, slender blade emerged from dirt and dust. She grasped the handle and raised it to her face, placing a wet kiss near the base.
"I give ultimate prayers to the Creator. I ask for his Blessings this day and his Guidance always."
Today would be a different day than any other in her life. Today, if she won the Championship, she would rule her life.
She spent an hour working through the exercises that the smithy, Gorone, had taught her and once, satisfied, hid the sword in the tall grass outside the barn, waiting for now. Soon, they would go to the castle and her dreams would come true. ***** Morganya watched the parade with interest, her dark eyes drawn to the columns of armor-clad warriors. Her mother, Mirine, eyed her daughter, unable to wipe the mistrust that ran through her veins. The chores had been done and the animals tended to but Mirine knew something was wrong. Morganya ate more this morning than she had the prior morn. Indeed, it had become a pattern. Each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, the young woman ate heartily. Mirine didn't really pay attention, but today, every puzzle piece fell into place.
"Morganya, you are not going to do this, right?" Her daughter remained silent as the other warriors passed, then arose, the sword at her side.
"I have to, Ma."
"You can't! You could be killed!"
I could be killed if I spend one more day on that farm! She thought, sliding the helm onto her head. "I must go, Ma. Please pray for me."
Morganya ignored the desperate pleas of her mother and hurried to catch up with the column of young men. The helm's faceplate was pulled down so that her face was unseen. It was important that she remained a nameless, faceless warrior, working hard to win the Championship prize. The column stopped at the gates to the parade grounds and each warrior was asked for his name and country. She stepped up and in her gruffest voice, gave her name as Morgan.
"You're awfully small, Morgan." One of the King's Guard laughed, dutifully writing her name down.
"Better be careful that someone doesn't pick you up and use you as a mace!" Another laughed, clanging her on the helm. The blow reverberated down to her feet and she gritted her teeth against the pain.
"Do that again," She said curtly. "And I'll use your balls for one!"
The second Guard's face wilted in anger and the first laughed heartily. "Good luck to you, lad!"
Morganya moved off, seeking a quiet place to warm up. Her muscles had gone cold from this morning's exercise and Gorone had stressed the importance of being limber as an aid to winning a battle. She made sure that the shirt was bloused out and began working her shoulders, wrists and fingers. It was nearly thirty minutes before the first group of battles was called. Thankfully, she was not in this first set, giving her the opportunity to observe those who lost, to make sure not to repeat their errors and to watch those who won, to note their style.
Since there were a great number of warriors competing, the first battles were called in a set of six. Twelve warriors strode forward, dipped their swords to the King and Queen and took up positions. Within moments, four of the matches were done and one had ended in death. There were no gasps of astonishment from the crowds. All present knew that death and dismemberment were possible consequences of the Championship. The fallen warrior was covered with a crude scrap of burlap and dragged to a waiting litter.
The next two battles finished and the next group was called. One strode forward who suddenly made her go weak in the knees. Simon! Her childhood friend looked a little worse for the wear, his glorious blond hair clumped with dirt and gathered at his neck with a leather thong. His once smooth skin was riddled with scars, especially one that almost neatly bisected his upper lip, giving him a perpetual snarl. But the worst were his eyes. The beautiful light brown eyes that had always danced with laughter were now furtive and jumpy.
Morganya watched in fear as he flexed his muscular arms and legs, licking the furrow in his lip as if it was a ritual before raising his broadsword and plunging forward. His opponent was unprepared for Simon's attack. The berserker in Simon overtook him and he hacked at the man, grinning evilly when his opponent's hand, still holding a sword, went flying. Simon slid his fingers along the flat side of his sword, collecting the man's blood and wiped it on his cheek. First blood. She thought.
The sound of her name made the breath leave her throat but she forced herself to walk forward, her legs unsteady. She didn't know why, but she glanced over her shoulder at Simon and saw something that she was unprepared for. He had recognized her name and his eyes met hers, filled with terror. Shit! She didn't need a distraction. The huge, well-muscled man that stood opposite her was enough. His name was Rowan and he bore the tattoos of the Imperial Guard, the secret Royal Guard. He grinned at me, one front tooth missing and raised his broadsword.
His first downward slash caused her body to shake. Her sword bowed to the floor and she cursed herself. Why am I thinking about Simon's lips? Rowan grinned and brought his weapon to bear on her again. She grunted, meeting his parry and pushing him back. The Imperial Guardsman looked at her with different eyes and smiled again, moving forward. He had sensed a game and she sure as hell wasn't going to give it to him.
For some odd reason, her mind drifted back to the last time she'd seen Simon. He had had a huge fight with his father and had decided to leave and ply his fortune on the road. She had pleaded with him not to leave in the comfort of their childhood tree house, but he hadn't listened. "Please." She'd begged him. "Don't leave me alone!"
His mind couldn't be changed. He couldn't stand to live in his house any more than she could but he was a man. He could earn a living where she couldn't. He had reached across and had kissed her. It was a kiss that she would never forget.
The emotion in this kiss now fogged her brain as Rowan brought his weapon down again. The strike jolted her entire body, the nerves in her arms jangling with pain. She grimaced but raised her sword and whirled. Her surprising move caught Rowan off-guard and her weapon tasted his blood, easily slicing through his right bicep. Rowan screamed, dropping to his knees, his lethal sword clattering to the dirt. She knew she'd injured him greatly. He would not be able to be an Imperial Guardsman again.
The judge proclaimed her as winner of her battle and she moved back to her shadowed spot, sweating and stretching in preparation of the next battle. She didn't hear Simon approach but felt his presence as she spread her legs and bent to the ground.
"Morganya?" His query was soft. "Is it really you?"
"I don't know any Morganya. You have the wrong person."
He bent to her level and gazed into the helm's slit. His eyes met her beautiful blue ones. "It is you!" He grabbed her arm and forcefully escorted her into a stall in the barn, pausing to close the door and wrenched the helmet off her head. "What the hell are you doing?"
"No, you aren't! This competition is only for men and you know it!"
"It's not fair!"
"But it's not your choice! That's the King's Law!"
Morganya shook herself free of his grasp. "I don't care. I don't give a fuck because it's not fair! I'm as good as any one of you brutes!"
Simon observed her for a moment. This Morganya was different from the one he'd known just three years ago. The midnight-black hair had been severely cropped and her upper body was more muscular. But the indigo of her eyes remained the same. "Morg." His whispered endearment fell upon her ears as he grabbed her and pressed his mouth to hers. She moaned, throwing her arms around his neck, her teeth biting his lips. "I've missed you so!"
"You have a funny way of showing it!" She thrust her tongue into his mouth, feeling her pussy flame into life. His strong arms around her waist pulled her closer to his hard body, rubbing her pussy against his hard cock. "That's not fair."
"Who said anything about being fair?"
Simon's mouth conquered hers again, making her moan, the noise swallowed by his mouth. A shiver coursed down her spine as his hands moved from her shoulders, traveled down her back and found a resting spot on her buttocks. He grasped them tightly, pulling her fat mound hard against him. Both groaned. Oh, Simon! His palms slid over her concealed breasts, thrilling at the hard buds his fingers found.
The cry brought them back to reality. Simon pulled back, savoring the taste and feel of her on his lips. "We will finish this."
"Will we?" She rubbed trembling fingers across her swollen lips, grabbing her own helm.
"Yes," He slammed his helmet on and pushed the barn door open. "We will."
Simon's next battle went quickly, albeit it was without the carnage of the first match. Morganya was called next and dispatched her opponent in ample time, returning to her spot and hoping to avoid Simon. She would have no such luck. Simon grabbed her immediately and pulled her back into the empty horse stall. His large hands traveled over her body, one moving across her back and ending up at her waist. With a quick pull, her pants were loose and sliding down around her ankles.
"No, Simon, there's no time."
"There's always time." His answer was punctuated with two strong fingers that traced the length of her suddenly dripping slit and slid deep inside her warmth. Simon smiled at the response of her nubile body. "Feel my fingers inside you, duchess?" He was surprised to hear her pet name on his lips. She moaned breathily. "Do you want to feel my hard cock inside you next?"
"Say the word, duchess. Say the word and I will fill you with everything I have."
Morganya opened her eyes, staring into his handsome face. "Does that also include your heart, Simon?"
His eyes grew dark and desolate. "I don't have a heart any more, Morg."
She shut her eyes, reluctantly pulling his hand from her pussy. "Then this cannot go on."
"Why? Why? I can't believe that you would ask me that when you would not make love to me after my father died."
"We both know the truth of that, Morg. We were not ready."
"No, YOU were not ready! You said that you didn't want to take me with darkness in my eyes!" Simon turned from her, remembering the words that he had spoken so long ago. "Well, I don't want you, either!"
Morganya stalked off, pulling her helm down and vowing to never speak to him again. She went back to her spot and ran through her exercises, anger fueling her movements. The third set was called and she went to meet a new opponent. This man was Oliver, a mercenary from the West and he would not be put down so quickly. He used his brute strength to push her around but Gorone had prepared her for this. She took his blows and rolled to ease the momentum of the thrust. She guarded, then parried, pushing him backwards. In the end, he tripped over his own feet and landed on his own sword. Another death, another win.
Simon grabbed her again and this time, she struggled with him, unwittingly drawing attention to them. He pinned her against the wall of the stall, tossing the helmet far away from her. "Morg, you've always had my heart. You just didn't want it."
"Hey!" One of the King's Guards shouted. "If you want privacy, get a room!"
Snickers followed his exclamation but brought a wide smile to Simon's face. "Thanks. We will."
"We certainly will not!" Morganya growled beneath her breath but loud enough for Simon's benefit. She had no intention of sharing a room with him. She knew what that would lead to and nearly had in the stalls. She couldn't afford to let him claim her. Not now. Not before she'd finished the Championship.
"Yes, we will," He moved closer, his breath husky on her cheek. "Or I'll tell."
The blood drained from her face as she hissed, "You wouldn't!"
Morganya stared at him. "No, Simon, we can't."
"We can and we will."
"Not without your heart."
Simon studied her face for a moment, seeing the outward boyish appearance but knowing the sweet curves that lay underneath the armor. Morganya had been the one thing that had held him together all this time. Thoughts of her sky blue eyes and the curve of her mouth had kept him awake many a night and had ruined any encounters he tried to have. The women were never good enough, never sweet enough. Never Morganya. Now, coupling with her was within his reach and he would be damned if he was going to let that slip through his fingertips.
But her statement still rankled. Not without your heart. He did not want to be a weakling and give into the flowery, perfumed world of romance, yet he couldn't seem to escape it. He wanted leave here with her at his side. He wanted to gaze into those striking blue eyes every night before he fell asleep with her in his arms. Did that mean that he had a heart?
"Would you have me lose everything that I am?"
"No." Her voice deepened with emotion. "I would have you become everything that you are to be."
Her words struck through him like a knife. "I cannot be that man, Morganya."
"Then go ahead and tell them about me because I cannot be with you. Not tonight and not in the future."
Simon watched Morganya walk away, listening to the King's Guardsman announce the following day's matches. He would not have to face Morganya on the battlefield as of yet but it would happen sooner or later, if she kept winning. What a coincidence that he also had to face her on the field of love. Or was it?
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