Hidden Magic Ch. 19bymadam_noe©
"It's madness!" I protested again.
The hour was late and we sat the table in the kitchen, gas lamps burning high, curtains drawn. Tomass, full of youthful energy, was pacing, and a resolute Anderank was slumped in his chair, hand toying with his half-filled mug.
"I'm telling you, the Queendom is nearly bankrupt from the last war, a new one would end us."
"And that is why the next one will not be with the north. The sorcerers are the perfect target, they are small in number. Still, the North will come to their aid and it begins anew."
Tomass stopped behind my chair, resting his hands on my shoulders, cutting off my reply. "This seems overly elaborate. Why not let the war continue?"
Anderank sat up, giving me an assessing look. "Because your wife single-handedly stopped it."
This made us both gape. "I was on the front when the truce came, in battle. We were winning, but I had no hand in negotiations other than reporting from the field."
"What you did with Gravin Lacourt. I hear things, people think the artists is never listening while he paints, but they're wrong. I love my work, but it's dreadfully boring.
"Gravin was going to murder our queen, framing her own. The war would have started in confusion. Duchess Serinne, next in line for the throne, was going to bring about a peace treaty once her lover Gravin sat on the throne of the north. With that, they would have owned the world, but then you slew Gravin. The Queens live on, and an iron-clad peace treaty means only they declare war. Serinne could kill our queen herself, but she has no counterpart in the north with Gravin gone."
"She never was good at making friends," I muttered and took another sip of the mellow liquor we'd poured into mugs.
"Why the sorcerers? It makes no sense. If M'Graough and Serinne get the queen to declare war on the sorcerers, the north will intervene too late. We were not ignorant of the war, and the simple truth is that our side never could have won, not without the sorcerers."
"My boy, death magic takes on the life force of the victim. If the victim is a sorcerer, the killer takes on his magic, yes?"
"yes," Tomass said, sitting beside me.
Anderank nodded and continued. "If the queen wanted to kill the sorcerers, she would likely send one of their own after them, one who will return with enough magic to ensure a victory in battle with the North. And all she knows are you and M'Graough, and she is in thrall to M'Graough."
"Anderank, it makes no sense. I will fight M'Graough at every step of the way. We have stolen back one duchess in his thrall, we can get the Earless and the queen."
"My poor, young man, do you not see? The duels were a stalling tactic, time to come up with a plan. M'Graough is going to get you out of the way. He won't face you, he's afraid, so he's going to take the coward's way."
I gripped Tomass' hand, my jaded politician's mind working fast. The queen was in thrall to start a war. The Duchess had been in thrall to provide him with pregnant women, and greater magic. The Earless he'd taken was of little importance. I had once thought it was to secure votes against us in duels. Now I understood he was holding her for another reason.
"Tomass, M'Graough is going to kill the Earless and frame us."
There was a certain kind of brilliance to it, I had to admit. Serinne and her lover had planned to take over the world and I had stopped it. Rolling with the punches, Serinne, true to form, wasn't able to function without a partner. She found a rogue sorcerer, one who would want to share the power but not her body in M'Graough.
They planned to start a new war to wipe out any in power who would oppose them, but the treaty and lack of contacts in the north left her somewhat impotent. The answer was easy: start an internal war, one the North would become embroiled in, then lay the hammer down.
To d it they needed to frame a sorcerer for a crime that would condemn them all. So M'Graough with a gift of limited prophecy had put a rebellious young sorcerer into the path of the South's greatest warrior. Kill a noblewoman, frame us, condemn us, and they had their little war, and their two most powerful enemies gone.
They would use our queen to kill the other, then stage a little coup. M'Graough, armed with magic, would wipe out the aristocracy in both countries, save for Serinne's few allies here, and without a viable government on either side, the armies would falter.
The duels...it was all stalling. Time for them to gain power and put in place the foundations of their new plan. They hadn't counted on one thing, though:
"You do it," I told Tomass.
In disguise we'd traveled through the city on foot, scared, armed, and alert, moving slowly. After a long discussion and long flight, we had arrived at the house of the ambassador of the North.
"He is a man f the North. He will listen to you much more readily than me."
Tomass' mouth quirked. "So you are asking me to speak for us both?"
Lifting the heavy knocker he rapped and the door as I scanned for watchful eyes. Tomass had sensed no magic, we knew the ambassador was a nonentity to our enemies, but still I wondered.
Lights came on above stairs and we waited until a single candle glowed down the stairwell and came to the door. The man who answered was the ambassador himself, I realized by his fine dress.
He was tall, almost as tall as my husband, and built powerfully. His robe gaped, showing a chiseled chest, crisscrossed with scars from many sword battles.
His hair was long and dark, silver at the temples, and his handsome face was puzzled. "Yes?"
"I am Tomass, a sorcerer, and also the Earl du Cassaman, and this is my wife, the Earless Minnotte."
The dark eyes of the ambassador roved over me in my dirty, concealing cloak. "General," he said, and I remembered him in a flash.
"General Markint, it is an honor to meet you, sir." I bowed deeply, as was tradition of the North.
"No woman here has bowed to me."
"And no other woman here values her husband as an equal," Tomass drawled.
Markint raised his candle. "Is this true?"
"Yes it is. When my husband speaks, he speaks for us both."
He gave us both a sweeping glance, analyzing before suddenly stepping back. "Then do come in."
We followed him in and he lead us to his study. We stood as he lit the gas lamps and once I saw the curtains drawn I relaxed, and removed the cloak I had stolen to conceal my identity. Tomass did the same.
Martink's eyes assessed our simple clothes, also beneath our station, but a necessity. "Have a seat."
He sat behind a large desk cluttered with papers and we took the simple wooden chairs opposite. This embassy was only a simple townhouse, and poorly kept during the war. The furnishing were threadbare, the wallpaper faded, stained, and peeling, and the shelves of books looked ancient and ready to crack. The gas lamps were two generations old, without glass encasements for the flame, burning low, wastefully, and open.
"What brings you to my door at such an unseemly hour?"
Tomass told him the tale, everything we knew, and Martink listened patiently. Halfway through he opened a cigaro box and pulled out rolled tocatto, offering us one in turn, Tomass first. I took one with thanks and we smoked as Tomass finished, filling the air with cherry and vanilla.
"That is quite an amazing tale. I have heard of you, Earless, you are quite well known in the north, but you, my good man, I have also heard about."
"How?" Tomass asked, incapable of artifice.
The older man smiled. "In our society we are most interested in the sorcerers. We see it as the most viable form of potential progress for the status of men here. We are aware of your marriage and that of this M'Graough, and we had hoped greatly this would begin changing the way men are treated here. It saddens me to know this M'Graough does indeed wish to change the world, but in the wrong way. With you two...I have hope.
"So what can I do for you?"
"We need to get the Earless free of M'Graough and Serinne. The queen has only refused you because she is in thrall, but to deny a request to see the Earless would be suspect. They must accept."
He stubbed out his tocatto and frowned. "I could not sneak you in, nor could I get her out if she is indeed in thrall."
"That is why I will give you a spell to carry."
"From what you have told me this will take a great deal of magic. From what I know to carry such a spell concealed will take great magic."
I finally sat forward, stamping out my tocatto as well before taking Tomass' hand. "Leave that us. We'll send it in the morning."
He nodded. "All right then. To avert war I will help you. Earless, your voice carries great power in your council. You must swear to me that you shall repay me by doing all that you can to give men equal status in your country. For the good of all people."
I stood, and placed my hand over my heart, the sign of a vow to his people. "I swear I will do all in my power to see men as equals in my lifetime."
He stood, making the responding gesture by touching a shoulder and slashing his hand quickly across his body. "It is sworn, and now we shake as is custom here."
I shook his hand, trembling. I had just sworn to save the world from the brink of hopeless war, and start a revolution if we survived.
I looked at Tomass, smiling, and in his eyes was the belief I could do this. I prayed to the light that he was right. I only had to believe in him.
"No pressure," I said, more to myself than him.
Tomass was naked, beautifully naked, and in the candlelight easily the most sensual thing I had ever seen. Still the nerves I felt were reflected in his eyes. On the one night we had to raise more magic than ever, we were too nervous to do so.
I laughed at his smile. "I won't pretend I'm not scared, but it's just that I feel we just had a wonderful moment. I don't want to use you, control you, overwhelm you. I ache for you every moment of the day, but when I take you into my body, I want to you to know it is for love."
His eyes softened. "Minn, I do love you. I love everything about you, the way you have one dimple when you smile, the way your eyes are completely open and guileless, the sight of your red hair shining in flame, the way your body moves, like some lethal predator seducing every man within eyesight, and the way you're completely unaware of it. I love your intelligence, the way you fight, and the way you fuck."
The harsh word surprised me and I raised up onto one elbow.
"Anderank," he explained with a smile. "My dear, I love you, but tonight can not be about love."
I watched him, the fluid yet harsh lines of his body relaxed. He was wrong; we could not do this for love, but we could not do it for duty. It had to be passion, and I knew what he wanted, even if he didn't.
Anderank was gone for the evening, knowing our plan. I rose from the bed, leaving him, and went to Anderank's chamber, knowing what I would find.
I brought the silk scarves back and his eyes widened. Tomass sat up on the rope bed, making it away, remembering the night I had tied him down with the cloak. "Minn, I don't think that will get the desired result."
"No, Tomass. They're for me. Whatever you want tonight...take it. Take what you need, what you desire, all I have to give. Take it; it's yours."
He trembled slightly, licking his lips as his eyes flashed, but the tell was his hardening cock. "Do you mean it?"
I nodded. "If I say the word 'tocatto' you must stop. No matter what I say otherwise, do not stop until you've had your fill."
I handed him the ropes and stood by the bed. "Do it, Tomass, do it now before I lose my nerve."
He moved quickly, towering over me, and bent down. I thought he meant to kiss me and I close my eyes, tipping my face up, but cloth wound around my head and I gasped. He was blindfolding me.
Fear flickered in me, a flame that burned through my body wildly, leaving a shadow of desire in its wake. He moved around me and I felt my hands tied behind my back, the same way I had once tied prisoners of war.
I could feel his body thrum with desire, and it wasn't what we would do that drove it, I knew, it as that I was giving him my trust. On that thought any complaints, negotiations, or pleas died. I had to trust him. Had to, and it would be the hardest ting I had ever done.
"Thank you," he whispered in my ear, and then he grabbed me.
He lifted me up and I was helpless with my arms tied. Walking me a distance Tomass set me down on my feet, his naked body pressed to mine. His hands began to stroke me and I felt my heart pound and body heat. He skimmed my shoulders, sides, hips, missing all the places I wanted to feel, and I could only groan.
"I have never wanted you so much," he whispered again in my ear. "You're in front of the mirror so I can see everything. Do you trust me?"
I gasped, feeling myself blush to be so exposed.
"Minn, do you trust me?"
"Y-yes," I breathed.
I felt a hand cup my breast as the other skimmed over my buttocks and then pressed between our bodies to cup my sex.
"You're wet. So fast."
I would have replied but two fingers filled me and it came out a strangled groan, but then he just held them there.
"Minn, what have you never done with any other man?"
"This," I panted out. "I have never completely given myself like this."
Pleased by my answer he plucked the nipple and moved his fingers inside me, pressing to a spot that had me drenching his hand with my juices.
I hasped as he plucked the nipple again with his question.
"Y-you can't mean..."
"Mmmm," he nipped at my ear making me shiver. "I do."
The fingers inside me slid out with a wet sound and moved...back. "Relax, breathe deeply," he whispered as he teased my nether hole.
"You said you'd give yourself to me. Say the word and I will stop. You don't want me to stop, do you?" As he spoke his other hand trailed over my stomach and now teased my sensitive nubbin.
I could say nothing, caught as I was in the trail of the forbidden. He was smart, so damn smart. I had given myself to him, to his desires, but he would take me as far as that promise could go. I really, truly could never control my sweet husband.
"Push out as I push in," he husked, and then a finger penetrated.
I gasped but did as he said. It was slow and I was stretched, breathless, straining onto my toes. I tried to escape the foreign, dark sensation, even as I wanted it. When the finger was seated, his other hand began to feather my clit furiously. My legs weakened but he held my aloft, bracing me on his thighs.
The peak was dark, unholy, and consumed me entirely. I was bound, struggling, caged and blinded by the scarves, and his hot body surrounded me, filled me completely in a way no man ever had.
And so it went on for what felt like eternity, until the had three fingers in my nether hole and I was seemed to be made of pudding.
Then came a clatter of a pot and his retreated, all fingers leaving me. I staggered against him but he steadied me. What I felt next I had expected, dreaded, and desired.
The head of his cock, covered with a balm I recognized as one pleasurers sometimes used, stroked my hole as I trembled.
"Push out as I push in," he whispered, and then he filled me slowly.
I cried out, there was pain as well as pleasure, but gritted my teeth until he was seated. Once in I felt stretched beyond my limit, my body tight.
His hand, the one that had pleasured my pussy before, returned. Filling me, holding still with his body, his hand massaged, stroked, and soothed. I couldn't held but moan, struggling. I wanted to touch my own breasts, grip him, feel his muscles flex, but I was helpless.
He brought me to the edge of a shimmering climax and then stopped.
Panting, I listened to the sounds, unable to guess what was coming, then the cool stone phallus was at my entry. I cried out as it filled me and he moaned chest rumbling on my back. I was filled such as I never had been, weak and victim to my own need.
Then he began to move.
Gasping I struggled to stand, straining as he moved me, burning, aching, weeping with pain and pleasure blended. It was dark, forbidden, and so deeply sweet. I felt him quicken and then his thumb touched my nubbin and was off, spasming, shivering, shouting with it. To my shock I felt him fill me, hot wetness deeper than his cock, and he shouted in triumph in my ear.
When his shivers passed and mine were only receding he fell to the bed, still buried deep in me, and I was sprawled across his front.
"That will be my only climax tonight. Thank you, wife, for giving me the honor no other has known."
I was decimated, unable to speak as he extracted himself, cleaned me, and left. I heard him washing in the garderobe and I lay helpless in my blindfold, only able to shift my arms to a more comfortable position.
He came back and I felt the bed dip. Without any warning his hair brushed loose and soft over my breasts, and then I felt a chip of ice tease my nipple. I gasped, jerking, and his hands held me down. His lips were soft and warm, the ice between them, and slowly he began to memorize my body with it.
It was like that for hours. He sensitized me until the slightest touch brought the glittering peak, and then he filled me, made me ache and beg and plead. I was moved, positioned, shifted endlessly, the scarves moved, even the blindfold came off as the dawn hours neared and I was weak.
Hen he boldly commanded me to look into his eyes, a feat in itself, as I peaked, and at last he was done with me. Tomass untied me, rolled me into the warm shelter of his arms, and the magic we had raised crackled along his skin.
It was his murmuring voice and warmth that soothed me, lulling me until I fell into the clamoring darkness.
I woke to a smell that made me smile. Cinnamon perfumed the air and I opened my eyes to the dent on the pillow next to me. Atop it lay a long red flower, narrow and sweet. The cinnamon flower. My heart lurched at this kindness. If Tomass could not be here, at least he offered me comfort.
It told me he was most likely safe. After I fell to sleep he was to give the spell to Martink, who would seek an appointment with the Earless on the morrow. By then I should be healed.
I tried to move and my limbs felt as heavy as stone sinking in a current.
It was Filtin who appeared. "Well, good morning there. Your young man has been glowing all day, and I see what he's done to you. If either of you weren't married I'd hire you both." Her round face split into a grin.
"Shut up and help me. I must do the necessary but I'm having trouble moving."
She aided me and though it was awkward, I had done such before at w ar. Many a soldier with a wounded limb had needed help, sometimes I had held the chamber pot. She disposed of it and brought water, mint and a cloth so I could cleanse my teeth, and then left only to return with light food and good drink.
"Where is Tomass?"
"He had a bit of magic to spare so he decided to send word to the sorcerers to move. He said he needed nature to craft it, so he went to Garden City," she replied, indicating the giant expanse of park land in the city. "Do not worry, I sent two women I can trust to guard him. These he inspected for enthrallment himself."
"He explained all that was happening before he left. Work continues on a portrait, must keep up appearances. They wanted someone with you when you woke, and since I'm the last member of the Cabal, here I am. You have me for a short set of minutes before I must be off to the club."
"I am honored. But the look on your face..."
"Minn, if the ambassador is caught he will die."