tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Amazon's Pledge Ch. 02

The Amazon's Pledge Ch. 02

bySarahHawke©

2



By the time the ship docked in the harbor, night had long since fallen over Highwind. I hustled out from below decks along with the other passengers, and my gaze, like theirs, was immediately drawn to the skyline I had heard so much about. While the docks themselves didn't look all that dissimilar from those in Vorsalos, the rest of the city could have been a separate plane of existence. A dozen golden spires stretched up into the night sky, all attached to a different temple honoring one of the many gods here in the North, and the obelisks of the legendary Highwind Academy glowed like twin beacons warding off the darkness. Even from here and at this hour I spotted several of the city's legendary defenders, the Knights of the Silver Fist and the Duskwatch Rangers.

But amidst my awe-stricken reverie, I reminded myself that appearance could be deceiving. The Inquisitrix could have easily sent word ahead to her Huntresses here in Highwind. Or she could have simply put out a bounty with any or all of the city's notorious underworld guilds. Either way, I needed to be cautious.

"The city is quite beautiful."

I nearly leapt out of my boots when I realized Kaseya was standing right behind me, shield and bow slung over her back. Apparently I hadn't just been hallucinating this morning...

"Yeah, it is," I managed. "You're, uh...you're sure you don't want to stay with your friend?"

She turned and frowned at me. "Hestiah will be continuing downriver. She has her own duties to attend to."

"And you just want to leave her alone?"

"What I want is irrelevant," she said. "I am pledged to serve you, Maskari. Wherever you go, I shall follow."

I nudged her off to the side of the boat away from the others. "Look, I really do appreciate the offer, and what you did this morning was amazing beyond words. But honestly, you don't have to do this. I mean, we barely know each other, and I don't want to take you away from your comrades."

Kaseya studied me for a long moment, her blue eyes glittering in the moonlight, and I feared she might actually get upset. But then she leaned forward and squeezed my arm. "We completed the ritual. I am bound to you, Maskari, from now until my death. The gods themselves will not allow me to abandon my pledge."

I sighed and leaned against the railing. Are you really going to stand here and try to convince one of the most beautiful women you've ever met not to follow you around? Are you bloody insane? She just sucked your cock ten minutes after meeting you! Besides, you're going to need all the help you can get just to stay alive here...

"All right," I said, forcing a smile. "I just don't want you to feel like you don't have a choice here."

"I already made my choice, as honor demanded," Kaseya said. "I am yours, Maskari. Now come, shouldn't we be leaving this vessel?"

I stared back at her for several second before I finally nodded. At this point, there were only two possibilities here: either I was either the luckiest bastard in this whole city or something horrible was about to happen. Or perhaps both.

We disembarked onto the pier, drawing annoyed scowls from the men we had displaced and terrified scowls from basically everyone else. Sorcery wasn't technically illegal in Highwind, as far as I knew, but I was still concerned that some of these people might report me to the Mage's Guild. Even if nothing ultimately came of it, I didn't want to deal with hassle or the extra attention. Blending in was always the best short-term survival strategy.

"This way," I said, tugging at Kaseya's arm. "There has to be a decent inn around here somewhere..."

There were plenty of inns, as it turned out, though I wouldn't describe any of them as "decent." Just like back home in Vorsalos, the worst dregs in the city always gathered on the docks. The main difference was that here the Highwind Guard actually seemed to care about crime, and there were enough knights and rangers about that I wasn't scared of getting shivved right out in the open. Still, I had no interest in sleeping anywhere near here with or without a six-foot tall amazon warrior watching over me.

"The Artisan District is just through that gate, and the rooms probably aren't that much more expensive," I said, keenly aware of just how light my coin purse was at the moment. A few extra silvers might literally mean the difference between eating and not eating by the end of the week.

"This city is enormous," Kaseya replied breathlessly. "That must be why you are so anxious."

I grimaced. This empathic connection of ours was going to get really annoying really fast. Then again, when I closed my eyes and imagined her head bobbing up and down on my cock...well, life was all about tradeoffs.

We reached the fringes of the Artisan District a few minutes later, and I marveled at the abruptness of the transformation. The architecture and street design looked like an entirely different city; I could only assume that this area had been built years later under the authority of an entirely different set of councilors. The streets were reasonably well-lit, too, which made the nervous knot in my stomach unwind a bit. One wayward glance at Kaseya revealed that she didn't feel the same way.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"We are not alone," she said, the fingers of her right hand tapping the handle of her sheathed sword.

I had spent virtually all of my teenage and adult years on the run from bounty hunters and assassins, so I knew better than to start wildly looking around. But I still reached out to the Aether and prepared myself just in case.

"How many?" I asked, continuing forward at the same leisurely pace. We were only a few hundred yards from the edge of the plaza, but that left more than enough time for someone to jump us.

"Three," Kaseya said. "They have been shadowing us ever since the guards disappeared."

"What are you...?" I frowned and felt a rush of embarrassment in my cheeks. She was right—I hadn't spotted a Highwind Guardsmen in several blocks now. I should have noticed earlier, but apparently sleep deprivation was taking its toll after all.

"One of them wields the same magic as the marksman who attempted to kill my sword-sister in Vorsalos."

I stumbled despite my best efforts to appear calm. "How do you know that?"

"I can sense it," Kaseya said. "All amazons are taught to feel the natural ebb and flow of the Aether in order to better serve our Maskari."

"That's how you knew I was a sorcerer even before you talked to me on the ship."

"Yes."

I bit down on my lip. I had about a thousand questions I wanted to ask her about the nature of her particular gift, but they would have to wait until we weren't being shadowed by a Senosi Huntress. "All right, well, we should slip into an alleyway and try to find cover until we reach the plaza. They won't attack as long as we can—"

"Amazons do not run," Kaseya said. "Stay beside me, and I will protect you."

I opened my mouth to protest, but before anything came out Kaseya abruptly spun around, drew a dagger from her boot, and hurled it just past my shoulder. A stifled shriek echoed down the street, followed by a choked-off gurgle and several thumps as a body tumbled from the rooftops. I froze for a split-second, horrified, before my instincts took over. While Kaseya drew her shield and held it up in front of us, my hands crackled with sorcerous power. I conjured a protective mantle to defend myself, knowing full well that my spell armor would be worthless if we were indeed facing a Senosi Huntress...

"Now!" a voice shouted from somewhere in a nearby alleyway. A gang of six thugs—three on either side—rushed at from the darkness, swords and daggers in hand. Kaseya pressed her back up against mine, and I felt a strange surge of energy through the ring she had given me.

Fight as one.

She hadn't actually spoken the words, but her voice raced through my head regardless. I couldn't explain how, exactly, but in that moment I knew exactly what she was about to do—and how my powers could best compliment her.

While she lifted her shield and drew her sword, I summoned a protective bubble around us, effectively walling us in behind a shimmering, semi-translucent barrier. One after another the thugs crashed into the bubble like birds slamming into a clear window, but when they stumbled backwards I dismissed the spell. Thanks to the ring, I knew that Kaseya was ready to work her own magic with blood and steel.

I had seen a lot of skilled fighters in my twenty-two years in Vorsalos, from the Crimson Knights of the Ravenguard to the Blademasters of the Sol-Shira monastery. I only needed to watch Kaseya for five seconds to realize she was easily their equal. She moved with the fluidity of an elven blade dancer and the power of an orcish brute, and even if there had been a dozen more thugs waiting for us I doubt they would have had a chance. Most impressively of all, she didn't kill any of them—between her shield and the pommel of her sword, she was able to smash them all senseless.

I could have dealt with all them myself, of course, assuming I was willing to channel an enormous amount of power through me. The Aether's corruptive backlash was a serious deterrent, however, and fireballing a bunch of half-starving thugs in the middle of the street didn't exactly fit my strategy of "blending in." Still, there was another more subtle way I could help Kaseya deal with our attackers...

Above!

The word seemed to echo between us, and the moment she bludgeoned the last thug into submission she turned to her left and broke into a flat sprint. She jumped—an impressive, athletic leap—and just as she reached her apex I stretched out with the Aether and telekinetically boosted her up onto the closest rooftop.

One of our shadows was still up there, and he yelped in shock when a towering amazon suddenly appeared in front of him. I heard a thud and a grunt, then watched his body tumble off the edge and land inside an empty wagon.

The third shadow was still unaccounted for, but when I pivoted around I spotted a lithe, leather-clad female figure darting across the rooftops on the opposite side. The moonlight offered me a quick glimpse of her hood and crossbow, confirming what I already suspected. Apparently one of the Senosi had chased me from Vorsalos...or had been waiting to catch me when I left the boat. What I didn't understand is why she was retreating so quickly.

Once the Huntress was out of range, I helped Kaseya down off the roof and admired her handiwork. None of the locals had made any move to interfere just yet, but it was only a matter of time before a knight or guardsman showed up.

"We should move," I said, dismissing my spell armor. "Come on!"

***



We entered the plaza less than a minute later. The crowds in the street were large and boisterous, and thankfully no one seemed to have noticed our little skirmish down the road. I kept us outside for a bit, mostly to ensure that we weren't being watched or followed. This area was probably as safe as Highwind was going to get—I spotted three Knights of the Silver Fist milling about the revelers, and the guard patrols all included a guild wizard for magical lighting and support. Even the most overzealous Senosi wouldn't be stupid enough to try anything here.

As the rush of combat faded, a score of unanswered questions started looping through my head. How had the Huntress organized an ambush on such short notice? Why in the hells had she hired local thugs rather than take us on herself? Why hadn't she fired a single shot?

Nothing about the ambush made any sense, when it came right down to it. Huntresses almost always stalked alone or in a small group, and they were nothing if not efficient. I was clearly missing half the pieces to this particular puzzle.

Shaking away the thought, I led us into one of the nicer inns and ordered a drink from the bar. There were at least two dozen other people here—mostly travelers from the looks of them—and they were louder and more raucous than I'd expected from such a relatively upscale establishment.

"Well, it only took twenty minutes for someone to try and kill me here," I muttered in between sips. "Honestly, that's longer than I expected."

Kaseya's eyes continually swept about the room, and her stance reminded me of a coiled serpent just waiting for an opportunity to strike. From the moment we'd been attacked she had become an entirely different person—one that was much more like the amazon warrior I had expected, frankly.

"Why does this woman wish to kill you?" she asked after a moment.

"She's a Senosi Huntress, one of the Grand Inquisitrix's personal assassins," I said, keeping my voice as low as possible. "They believe all magic is evil, especially sorcery."

"Yet they employ magical poisons?"

"Like all good cultists, they're also raging hypocrites," I replied dryly. "They've been pursuing me off and on since I was a teenager."

Kaseya's eyes finally returned to me. "So they're not very good at their job, then."

"I've gotten lucky...really lucky," I said, debating just how much I wanted to reveal to a woman I hardly knew. "I also had some powerful friends willing to protect me."

"But not anymore?"

"Not anymore," I murmured. "That's actually why I finally left Vorsalos. The people of Highwind aren't particularly fond of sorcerers, either, but they're perfectly comfortable with magic."

"What a strange society," Kaseya said. "The Aether is the lifeblood of the gods. Males who can properly channel such power deserve obedience, not scorn."

I sipped at my drink and studied her profile. There were still about a million questions I wanted to ask her about Nol Krovos and her people's culture, but I decided to shelve most of them for now. I was bloody exhausted from the trip, and a hot bath and real food were all I could think about.

"Will this Huntress continue stalking you?" Kaseya asked.

"You can count on it," I said. "I bet you regret making this pact with me already, huh?"

Her brow furrowed. "Why would you say such a thing?"

"It was a joke...mostly," I managed. "All I'm saying is that I'm not going to be the easiest person in the world to protect. You might have signed on for more than you can handle."

"I can handle anything, and I will not retract my vow."

"Right," I whispered, chugging down the glass and setting it on the table. This woman might have been preposterously gorgeous and horrifyingly deadly, but if I decided to keep her around I was definitely going to have to work on her sense of humor. "Anyway, I don't know why the Huntress let up. They aren't usually squeamish about being outnumbered. And I'm really surprised she hired local help. Senosi typically work alone, even when they're outside Vorsalos."

"I do not know enough about them to speculate," Kaseya said.

"Well, in any event you were damn impressive back there. And I can't believe you took out so many without killing them."

"That was not my preference, but after I slayed the first one with my knife I sensed your displeasure," Kaseya said. "You wanted them alive."

"How did you...?" I trailed off and glanced down at her collar. I hadn't consciously thought about asking her to spare those men, but unconsciously...well, she was probably right.

"Killing your enemies is the only way to ensure they never return," she said. "But it is not my place to question your wishes."

I poured myself another glass and shook my head. This bond of hers was growing more and more interesting by the hour. A part of me wanted to test her commitment and see exactly how far she would go to obey me. Would she hurt someone for me? Would she kill them?

Would she let me bend her over the barstool and fuck that sweet little ass of hers in plain view of everyone here?

I bit down on my lip and suppressed the thought before her collar caught wind of it. "The Senosi must have hired those thugs, and I doubt it cost her much," I went on, clearing my throat. "You saw them—they weren't exactly the most impressive warriors in the city. They were probably just desperate, half-starving gang members."

"Desperate men are the most dangerous," Kaseya said. "They may attempt to harm you again."

I nodded, once again marveling at the abrupt shift in her attitude. "Regardless, we're safe enough here. I'll get us a couple of rooms so we can head upstairs and get some rest."

Her trance finally broke, and she turned and frowned at me in confusion. "Why would you purchase two rooms?"

"Uh, I mean, I assumed you would want your own so you could...you know...have some privacy."

"I cannot protect you through walls," Kaseya said matter-of-factly.

"I suppose, but..." I sighed. "Please tell me you aren't planning on staying up all night staring at the door."

"Of course not," she said. "I assume you will also wish to fornicate."

I nearly spit the last of my liquor across the bar. "What?"

"You have desired to copulate with me from the first moment we met, yes? I do not understand your confusion."

"I'm not confused, I'm just..." I quickly downed the last few drops in my glass and forced myself to breathe.

She has to be some kind of demon...or at the very least a magical construct created by a perverted wizard. Nothing else could possibly explain—

"If this scrawny little twig ain't enough for you, sweetheart, you just let me know." A large, loutish brute of a man said from behind her. He lurched up to the bar and placed his hand upon her bare thigh. "A girl like you needs a real man who can...argh!"

His voice cut off when Kaseya abruptly grabbed his wrist and wrenched it back until I heard an audible crack. The man crumpled to a knee, but before he could scream she smashed her elbow into his face and knocked him onto the floor.

"I do not understand your embarrassment," she went on as if nothing had happened. "It is perfectly normal for a male to wish to fornicate with a female he finds attractive—and I know you find me attractive."

"I have eyes, so yes," I muttered, glancing down to the unconscious man. A few of the other patrons had a chuckle at his expense, but no one made any move to help.

"Then you should purchase a room," Kaseya said. "And I shall do my best to sate your desires."

Once again, I couldn't help but ponder how a better man would have acted were he in my position. He would have refused her offer outright, or at the very least tried to learn a lot more about her culture and the nature of this bond before he did anything hasty. I, on the other hand, immediately gulped down the last of my drink, purchased the largest suite in the establishment, and raced up the stairs before my trousers split open.

I barely had time to close the door before Kaseya tossed down her equipment and dropped to her knees in front of me. My trousers joined her on the floor a split second later, and my cock hit the back of her throat a split second after that.

My hand reflexively gripped her long ponytail while she hungrily bobbed up and down my shaft. Just like before on the boat, she knew exactly what I wanted even before I did, and her tongue and lips were so warm and soft I didn't stand a bloody chance.

"Oh, fuck!"

I was a split-second from firing another load down her throat when she abruptly unexpectedly pulled away. My cock twitched in mid-air just above her lips, desperately yearning for her attention. Her blue eyes met mine, and she smiled innocently before she stood and sauntered across the room.

I almost grabbed my aching member and stroked myself to climax right then and there, but instead I just slumped against the door and watched in breathless anticipation of what Kaseya would do next. The suite was huge—it occupied a full quarter of the third floor, and it featured its own personal bathing pool thanks to Highwind's legendary magical aqueducts. She stopped next to the water and began to slowly and seductively unstrap her armor while she studied the enchanted faucets.

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