The Last Tritan Ch. 07byWaterBurn©
Beautiful people! Hello! I have wonderful news! FA_JF, who is also my newest, and best beta reader, helped me edit this chapter while I was waiting to hear back from my official editor. Seriously. A huge slobbery lesbo kiss goes out to her for being the bestest beta reader in the whole world. She's better than alcoholic truffles. You've been invaluable for these last two chapters, my love, and I can't thank you enough!
Anyway, enjoy this chapter, and please remember to vote! If you send me an email, I usually respond within a day or two! (I'm not lying! Check your junk mail!)
As I lay curled in the fetal position trying to recover from the captain's latest assault, a single thought echoed inside my head. Sasha had to know of a better option for defending myself, a way to use my gifts offensively, rather than hiding behind an ineffective shield. As the Head Priestess, she would have been privy to knowledge and resources others could only dream of. All I had to do was keep it together until our next meeting, assuming the captain allowed me to continue training with her after our run-in with the general.
The thought of Asher made my stomach tighten, thoroughly distracting me from any notion of defending myself. He'd managed a decisive victory in the battle for my submission—by far his most convincing one to date. Forcing me to feel such blinding ecstacy at his touch was the most perverse thing I could imagine, and tears filled my eyes as I tried to comprehend how he had been able to do so with such ease. The worst part hadn't been the betrayal of my own body, but the tender, almost reverent kisses he'd scattered over my skin, overwhelming me with the heady sensation. Nothing in my life had prepared me for this sick parody of a loving relationship.
Ours was not a bond built on trust or affection, and the captain's aim was not to build faith in myself as a woman, but rather to show me my place as his slave. Despite having found pleasure at his hands, this was rape, pure and simple—made all the crueler for the confidence he'd caused me to lose in myself.
Learning to be self reliant had been the key to my survival through the war, and I'd been the master of my own body and mind. I'd survived the elements with nothing more than grim determination, stubbornly refusing to be beaten down by the Caledonian plague.
But the forest was no longer my home, and I was not facing starvation or death by exposure. I was dealing with a fully trained Elite warrior, bent on destroying my resistance. Asher was an elemental force unto himself, and he'd managed to crack my faith with nothing more than soft kisses. His lips had shaken the very foundations of who I was as he gently caressed my most intimate skin. He'd proven I wasn't a contender in a carnal arena, and without a precedent I had no idea how to pull myself together.
I bit back an anguished sob. I had to drag my knees to my chest to prevent the confusing flow of emotions from finding an outlet. The slight movement caused a lingering tingle of pleasure to race through my blood, and I cringed, hating what the sensation represented. Against my will, a soft, broken whine escaped my lips as I berated myself for such a shameful display of weakness. I should have fought harder, done more to counter his sensual advances. This was the fight of my life, and if I wanted to continue being me, nothing less than perfection could be tolerated.
I took a deep breath, and pushed the all-consuming shame and guilt to the back of my mind—while it was clear this particular match had gone to Asher, I was far from beaten. He'd managed to rattle the trust I'd had in myself, and had proven his mastery over the female form. But he would never be able to take away my will to fight. I wouldn't let it come to that.
Temporarily absolved of my self-condemnation, I sat up awkwardly with my hands still bound, ignoring the slick heat between my thighs. I knew the captain's cruelty toward me had been inspired, in part, by my own reactions. On my first night as a slave, he'd locked me in a cold cellar, hoping the sensory deprivation would help him to break my spirit. When that hadn't worked, he'd tossed me to his other pleasure slaves, hoping the over stimulation would do the job. And then he'd forced himself on me, brutally taking my innocence, deaf to my shameless pleading. In hindsight, it should have been obvious his next weapon would be pleasure, as it fit the developing pattern.
In light of the give and take between Asher and I, it was clear my decision making process was flawed—and yet, it was my greatest weapon. Trying to relax, I recalled my father's favorite quote, 'An innovative idea can only be born of a fertile mind. Ergo indifference–in all its apathy–is the enemy of creativity, for it is barren.' Granted, my father had been trying to engage me in my studies, and certainly hadn't been an advocate for indifference. There was no denying the captain was remarkably imaginative in his attempts to wear me down. I resolved then, the only way to crush his creativity was to show no reaction to his latest violation.
Easier said than done, especially considering my Empathic tendencies, but it was a plan, and it was all mine. I concentrated on breathing, working to bury the turbulent emotions boiling in my gut, and felt some of the tension ease from my taut muscles. Not perfect control by any means, but I'd come to a conclusion not a moment too soon—the captain had returned from his trip to the restroom.
"You know, Mila," he said, wiping moisture from his face as he walked toward me. "I usually make new slaves beg for pleasure. But I have to admit, I far preferred this method. You were spectacular, darling." Expressionless, I watched him approach, taking in his dark, masculine beauty, and wondering how he could be so uncaring toward another human being.
I shrugged—I didn't have the energy or the desire to understand his motivation. Instead, I racked my brain, trying to decide what I would want if I were unmoved by the situation. The answer, when I came to it, nearly made me smile. "Would you untie me, please? I'm hungry."
Surprise flickered across his features. "How could you possibly be hungry? You ate twice what I did just two hours ago." I didn't answer, deciding it wasn't necessary to divulge the consequences of abstaining from meat, and waited for him to continue. "Regardless, I don't think I'm quite ready to untie you."
I felt his arousal, much less overpowering, yet still bubbling beneath the surface. "If you insist."
He frowned, and closed the distance between us, his strong fingers gripping my chin and tilting my face toward the light. Confusion radiated off him, as he silently searched my eyes. "What, no snappy retort?"
"Will it make a difference?" A strange look traveled over across his face, but a commotion in the hall prevented him from answering. Before going to the door, he reached for my bound wrists, and released me, giving me another penetrating gaze.
Beau's shrill voice managed to infiltrate the thick wooden door separating us from the hallway. "Absolutely not! Captain Rawlings left strict instructions not to be disturbed." A man responded, but the timber of his voice was too low and I couldn't make out what he said. "I don't care who sent you. I take orders from the captain, not you, or your-" She shrieked, and the sound of a scuffle could be heard.
The captain cursed, released me from the restraints, covered my nudity with a bedsheet, and dragged a rumpled shirt over his head. He didn't make it to the door before someone was pounding on it. "What the fuck is going on out here?" He asked, flinging the door open before the knocking continued.
The young, fresh-faced man at the door was cloaked in power, and there was no mistaking him for an unbound Elite. "Captain Rawlings, I apologize for interrupting you, sir," he said, giving a salute. "General Tilcot has requested an audience with you."
"What does he want?" Asher snapped, and Baby Face's eyes widened, surprised by Asher's irritated response.
"I- I don't know sir, he didn't say. He just sent me to collect you, and an escort for the new Priestess."
"And where exactly do you think this escort will be taking my Priestess?"
Baby Face paled, and sent me a panicked glance. "General Tilcot has ordered her to continue her training with Sasha, and sent two of his personal guards to escort her to his manse."
Beau's sweaty face appeared in the doorway. "I'm sorry sir, I couldn't stop him. He wouldn't take no for an answer."
The captain's demeanor softened as he took in his faithful servant. "Not to worry Beau, please show Mr. Collins to the door."
The young Elite–Mr. Collins–stammered, as the captain turned to close the door in his face, but he was rescued by a deep, gravely voice. "I'm afraid that won't be possible, Captain Rawlings. We have our orders, and we're leaving with your Priestess, with or without your consent."
The captain laughed, and stepped in front of me, subtly blocking me from their view. "That would be an incredible feat Reese," the captain said, his tone mild, as he reached into a short table beside the door. He pulled out a handgun, its sleek frame lighting up at his touch. My chains began to burn, and I grit my teeth against the sudden pain.
"Well that won't be necessary, sir," said a third tall man dressed in black, pushing his way into the already overcrowded hall. "The general merely wants a word with you, and insists your priestess continues training with Sasha in the meantime. I apologize for Reese, and young Mr. Collins. They've had an early morning, and can't see when they're outmatched. I can assure you, Reese and I will get her there safely."
The captain, ran a hand through his hair, disengaging his weapon. I let out a ragged breath, and rubbed my wrists and throat. "Thanks for the offer Aiden, but your services won't be necessary. Beau, will you please fetch Gabe and Marco?" The captain turned, closing the door on Aiden, stopping his protests in their tracks. He came toward me, and I dug my nails into my palms to stop myself from flinching.
He took both of my wrists in his hands, rubbing his thumbs over the glittering gold of my chains, a contemplative look on his face. "Does it hurt when I draw on your power?" I stared back at him vacantly, refusing to be moved by a glimmer of humanity. My silence was answer enough. "I didn't realize," he continued, bringing my left wrist to his face for closer inspection. "That's not the case with the other Priestesses." Was that almost an apology? I rolled my eyes, letting my impassive facade slip for an instant.
But I'd afforded him an opening, and he didn't need more than a second to see through my mask. Smiling with an easy confidence, he brought my wrist to his lips, tenderly kissing the skin fused with the golden circlets. Forgetting for a moment, my plan to remain detached, I tried to pull free of his iron grasp.
Taking no notice of my struggle, he switched his attentions to my other wrist, making me hiss in displeasure as his lips traced a burning trail along skin and gold. "Does that feel better?" He asked, and it was admittedly hard to tell if he was being sarcastic or not.
Pushing aside the urge to curse and scream at him, I said, "How could a kiss undo physical pain?"
He looked taken aback by my response. "You've never heard of 'kissing it better?'"
"I'm the first to admit I have no understanding of Caledonian culture. Nor do I wish for that to change. You people are repugnant."
He chuckled, and opened his mouth to counter my offensive comment, but Beau's muffled voice drifted through the thick door, distracting him. "Sir, Gabe and Marco are here."
The captain sighed and released my wrists, retreating to his closet. When he returned, he tossed a clean black dress in my direction, and watched me struggle with the complicated wrap. "Here," he said, and secured it around me with ease.
I shivered with barely contained fury—it was becoming painfully obvious I couldn't remain impassive with the captain so close to me. "Pants don't need instructions," I said, moving away from him as soon as he had finished securing the silky material.
He closed the distance between us with a dark smile, and placed a hand on my exposed lower back. "But you look so beautiful in traditional Caledonian dress, darling. And it's my decision." I snarled, his arrogance completely breaking through my plan to show him indifference. I stomped toward the door, desperate to be free of his presence.
Before I could wrench the door open, he pinned me to the heavy oak and aligned his hard, masculine body against mine. I felt his lips against the back of my neck, leaving a trail of fire along my golden collar. His arousal blazed through my senses, surprising me with its intensity. "We'll continue this tonight, and I'll make sure we won't be interrupted." I bit my lip trying not to react, but felt my heart sputter in spite of the effort.
A knock on the door made the captain growl against my skin. "Sir?" Beau's voice was tentative, as if she was loath to disturb him. However, I was grateful for her timely interruption, and reached for the door handle. I turned it, and the captain moved back enough for me to pull it open.
With the addition of Marco and Gabe, there were no less than six people crowding the narrow hallway, and none of them looked particularly happy to be crammed into the small space. "I'm quite sure I know the way to the general's residence, gentlemen. You may go."
"With all due respect, sir," said Reese, sounding as if he held the captain in the lowest regard. "Aiden and I have been ordered to escort your Priestess, and that's exactly what we'll be doing." He immediately stepped forward, reaching for my arm, but was blocked by Marco.
"Come on Reese, you know better than that," Marco said, placing his hand on his holstered weapon.
'Is this really necessary, Captain Rawlings?" Aiden asked, glaring at Marco and his hostile companion. "We're only following orders."
"I'm sure General Tilcot will understand my reluctance to send my Priestess off without a proper guard." Reese started to argue, but Aiden placed a restraining hand on his shoulder. The captain smiled, and continued, "I can't control what you two do with your time, but Gabe and Marco will be escorting Mila to the Tilcot manse." The captain's men moved simultaneously to my left and right, leaving the general's men looking a little flustered. He then addressed Mr. Collins, "I assume you're here to escort me to General Tilcot's office?"
"Yes sir," the boy said, blushing.
"Then let's get this over with. I'd like to get back to training my Priestess, sooner rather than later."
"That's what you're wearing to your meeting with the general?" The young man asked with an audible gasp. The captain glowered at him, and I started walking, taking advantage of the captain's preoccupation to put some distance between us, and get out of the crowded hallway. To my horror, all four men fell into step with me—Marco and Gabe flanking me, Reese taking point, and Aiden bringing up the rear.
"Marco," the captain called, eyes glittering in poorly disguised malice. "Don't be afraid to protect my property, at any cost."
"Sir," Marco replied, for once absent the comical retort.
I'll spare you the tedious recount of the walk to the Tilcot Manse—it was silent, except for the pounding of the soldiers' boots, and the occasional curious whispers of the people we passed. A single Tritan Priestess, guarded by four hulking Caledonians must have been a strange sight.
When we had ascended the stairs and were within sprinting distance of Sasha's sitting room, I'd nearly reached my breaking point. I hadn't been faced with the need to control my emotions while living in the forest, and my attempt at doing so now, had left me feeling edgy and out of control. But most of all, I needed to get away from the men surrounding me on all sides.
Sasha's door came into view, and without taking the time to worry about possible consequences, I reached between Marco and Reese, grabbed a pedestal with an ornate vase perched on top, and pulled it down. The sound of pottery–hopefully priceless–shattering on the floor was second to the shouts of surprise from my armed guard. I lunged for Sasha's door, Reese's hand missing the scruff of my neck by a hair.
I barged in without knocking, startling my waiting mentor to her feet, and slammed the heavy oak shut behind me. Seconds later, the heavy thud of a body collided with the door, and my whole body lurched forward with the impact.
"Good lord, Mila! What's going on?" Sasha asked, alarm etched across her face.
I gasped, putting everything I had into preventing the soldiers from gaining access, and gestured wildly at a swanky white chair. "Pass me that!"
She complied without a moment's hesitation, and I lodged the chair's backing under the door handle. "What's going on?" She asked again, ignoring the frantic pounding and the shouts of the soldiers. The sight of her beautiful, ashen face nearly brought me to tears, and I threw myself into her arms, unable to speak.
Reflexively, she stroked my back and made calming noises as I sobbed into her shoulder. "It didn't work Sasha."
"What didn't work, honey?" She cooed, pushing me back a little and tilting my face toward the light.
"My shield. He... the captain..." Hiccuping, I trailed off, pacing the serene room, unsure how to put my experience with my tormentor into words.
"Hold that thought," she said, and darted toward the other side of the room, opening a door I hadn't noticed, meeting Reese and Gabe as they were about to burst through.
"What's going on in here?" Reese demanded, checking Sasha over.
"We're OK gentlemen. Mila's having a hard time adjusting, that's all." She smiled kindly, and laid a hand on his bicep. "Where's Aiden? And Marco?"
"We split up to, ah... better use our resources," Gabe said, with a crooked grin. Reese snorted, and moved the chair from under the opposite door handle, sending me an annoyed glare.
Both men sent final assessing looks around the room, before Reese spoke, "We'll remain posted at both doors for your protection, Priestess." He made eye contact with me as he spoke, and I bared my teeth in anger, taking a step toward him.
Sasha hastily stepped between us, and said, "That will be fine, thank you Reese." And closed the door with a sharp snap. She pressed her back to the wood, and took a deep breath. "Mila have a seat, and try to calm down. Tell me what happened."
I twisted my hair between my fingers, ignoring her request, and tried to quell the nausea rising in the back of my throat. "You said it would work, but it didn't even slow him down."
She sat on the couch, and gestured for me to do the same. "Just relax, everything is going to be OK."
"Nothing's OK, Sasha!" I shouted, as panicked rage burst through the last of my frail grip on civility. "You said the shield would protect me!" I shouted, flinging my hands out to the sides, feeling my mind begin to splinter under the stress of captivity. "You lied."
"Mila," she said, stepping towards me, her hands raised as if she were trying to calm a wild animal. "I said the shield would probably keep you alive if you have the bad luck to be near someone who dies. It's meant to protect you from wayward emotions, nothing more." She touched my arm, her hand cool on my feverish skin. I struggled to tolerate the contact, such was my emotional anguish. "I also said it could take years to complete your training. You can't expect this to happen over night! You've only been here a few days, for heaven's sake!" She rubbed at the wetness on my cheek with a silken scarf, and guided me to a chair. "Now, take a deep breath–that's it–and tell me what happened."