tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Blood Pact Ch. 31

The Blood Pact Ch. 31


It was the mid-afternoon by the time I arrived at the cabin. All my supplies were still right where I'd stashed them under the floorboards in the one of the side rooms. Even when Delphina and her handmaidens had been here with me, they'd never known about my preparations.

I had trail rations to last me a week or more, spare clothes, camping gear, a bow and arrows, and even a short sword. I wasn't really sure why I'd purchased most of it -- I couldn't really cook, I'd never fired a bow more than once or twice in my entire life, and a sword wasn't exactly the same as a dagger -- but if worse came to worse and I got lost in the wilds, I didn't want to be without options.

By far, the most important items in my hoard were the three bags of gold coin. They didn't look like much laid out like on the dusty floorboards next to all the rest, but I'd taken careful accounting of every coin and knew that it would be more than enough to get me by long into the future. All I had to do was stay away from the gaming halls. I was quite certain that wasn't going to be a problem. This whole mess with Lady Stephanie had taught me the dangers of wanton gambling quite thoroughly.

As I organized my supplies, Nikelle crossed my mind more than once, but I pushed the thought aside each time. She was likely dead. Even if she had managed to bring down the king and get away, she would probably disappear, returning to her Blood Dagger sisters in the south to receive yet another mission from her masters. Maybe she'd come after me next. If she did, that compulsion of hers would be a hard thing to overcome. I didn't know if the Transformation Wand would be of any help to me in that regard, but it was the only weapon I had that might be able to fight magic like that. Regardless, I would not let her take me without a fight.

Sorting through all of my haphazardly gathered supplies took longer than I would have liked, but I was so giddy with the prospect of having finally broken free of my chains that I hardly cared. It seemed strange now to look back on my behavior from just a few hours ago and think that I'd shed so many tears for Delphina and Ramzi. I would miss them to be certain, but now that I was here, a mere hairsbreadth from total freedom, I couldn't wait to take the next step.

By the time I finally got everything packed away into the right saddle bags, the sun was already getting low in the sky. With my almost nonexistent wilderness skills, I had no intention of wondering through strange parts of the greenwood under total darkness. And after having waited as long as I had to make it this far, I could certainly put off my departure until morning. With the day I'd just had, a good night's sleep would probably do my good anyway.

I'd stabled Diamondhead in a cobbled plaza behind the cabin which had become mostly overgrown with weeds. The room I selected for myself had a large window which looked out onto it. The opening had long ago lost all of its glass, however, so it was now more of an awkward doorway with dry-rotted shutters for a door. The readied saddle and supplies I set nearby so all I would have to do in morning was pack my bedroll and get underway.

With everything going as perfectly as it was, I shouldn't have been surprised when I heard the sudden crash of a door being thrown open from somewhere in the front of the cabin. I left the bedroll only half opened and listened intently to the darkness which loomed oppressively in the hallway outside my room.

Lord Ruvano couldn't have found me already. Stephanie wouldn't even be missed yet -- often times I didn't return to Lord Ruvano's chambers until much later than this -- unless Nikelle's attempt to assassinate the king had somehow brought suspicion down upon me.

I reached for my hidden dagger pocket before I even realized I wasn't wearing one of Stephanie's dresses. Instead I went for the sword lashed to my traveling bundle. I'd tried to make it easy to access in an emergency, but I must have tied the cords too tightly because It took several attempts before I was able to jerk it free.

I'd hoped my larger muscles would compensate for the difference in size between a dagger and a sword, but lifting it now, I could instantly tell the weight and balance were completely unsuited for most of the techniques I'd learned. Unfortunately, after having given away Delphina's dagger, it was the only weapon I had left. I blew out the my lamp and, holding the sword out in front of me, stalked out into the hallway as quietly as I could on the creaking floorboards.

As I neared the great room at the center of the cabin, I could see one of the two front doors hanging open, the blackness of the interior framing the starlit forest outside. Maybe it had just been a sudden breeze on this otherwise windless night that had knocked it open. Or perhaps an animal of some sort. Their signs were everywhere within cabin. I crept out to the very end of the hallway and paused as I strained my eyes against the darkness. Nothing seemed to be amiss.

I just began to relax my guard when a shadowy form came at me from the side. I couldn't bring my clumsy sword into play fast enough. Whoever it was was already upon me!

However, instead of attacking, they fell into me as if they'd tripped or fainted. Judging from the slightness of their body, it was a woman. I caught her in my arms and eased her to the floor. There was a warm sticky wetness soaking the side of her dress where the fabric had been crudely sliced open. She was bleeding. Her brown skin seemed to blend into the darkness of the cabin. Even before she spoke, I knew who it was.

"Where is she?" Nikelle's voice spoke out from the body in my arms.

"Gods, Nikelle! You're hurt!"

"Where is she!" Nikelle's dark eyes flashed out in the blackness. A prick on my neck told me she still had her blood dagger.

"Why don't you just put that thing away," I said, gently pulling the dagger away from my throat. To my surprise, she didn't resist. "I don't think you have enough blood left to waste using it anyway."

"I'll be fine. I just need to find Stephanie."

"Why don't you just use that compulsion of yours to summon her?" I said, my voice flat.

"That only works for the first few weeks after a girl is inducted into the sisterhood."

Was she serious? That meant my fears of reprisal had been completely groundless. If Nikelle hadn't been bleeding in my arms at the moment, I could have throttled her.

"But I can still sense her and I know she's here. I just need a safe place to rest and someone I can trust to keep watch until they stop looking for me."

"What!" I shot to my feet, letting Nikelle's head fall to the floor with a thud. Awkwardly, I raised my sword and scanned the darkness beyond the front doors. Stupid, selfish Nikelle, even now, only thinking of herself and her stupid mission! I'd have to leave right away. "I had everything planned out but you had to go a ruin everything by leading the royal guard right to me!"

"Gods Mathis, I don't remember you being such a pussy," Nikelle said. "I wouldn't do anything that foolish. It will take those nitwits days to find me here and by then we'll both be gone."

After everything she'd done to me, I should have left her there to bleed out on the floor.

But then again, maybe I was just a little bit responsible for her current condition. If I'd helped her as she'd wanted, maybe she wouldn't have ended up like this.

"We need to get you patched up." Much to my surprise, she did not complain when I scooped her up in my arms and carried her back to the room I'd claimed for myself.

Relighting the lamp graced me with my first good look of her. The left side of her face had a large welt. Elsewhere, numerous other bruises discolored her once flawless skin. Though that lengthy gash in her side was only a flesh wound, it was still bleeding badly and had left her looking like a grisly mess.

"We'll need to bandage that," I said.

She offered no resistance as I stripped away her dress to get access to the wound; even when I undid the laces at her shoulders and pulled the entire thing down to her waist. Sitting cross legged in silence, staring into the distance with a glower on her face, she said not a word as I cleaned the cut and prepared the bandages. I'd seen her more naked than that in the past, so I knew her ill humor had to be from something else.

"What happened?" I said. "I heard the alarm but no other news. You're obviously still alive at any rate."

"I posed as a servant and got close enough to the King to strike, but then..."


"I tried again and again but my blade could not touch him. Each time I had a clear opening, the blade would turn at the last moment, as if deflected by a pane of glass. He beat me off with his own hands." She paused and touched the large bruise on the side of her face before thrashing her head violently back and forth in a vain attempt to shake away the shame. "I only fled when the guards arrived and nearly sliced me open like a Solstice Day goose. Stephanie was right. I should have listened to her."

"Damn right you should have."

Nikelle's frown deepened and she lowered her gaze. "The last time we talked, I called her a coward. I was wrong. This whole time I was trying to use her to carry out my own duties. I'd convinced myself it was necessary, but as I discovered by going after the king, there was never any need. I should have done it myself at the very beginning but I was too afraid."

"You can't say that. You're one of the bravest women I've ever known. Who else would have walked right into the king's chambers like you did?"

What the hell was I doing? She didn't deserve my sympathy. It was debatable whether or not she even deserved my help with her wounds.

"Why didn't I kill Ruvano when I first had the chance? Why did I have to seek the approval of the sisterhood before I moved against Rosenthall? Why did I wait so long to strike after they gave it?"

"You were just being cautious. There's no harm in that." Had I always been this empty-headed when presented with a pretty face or only for Nikelle?

"Caution is the excuse of cowards," Nikelle muttered as I began wrapping the bandages around her midsection. The bleeding had already almost stopped on its own, but that cut was still going to be hurting badly by morning.

"Look, Nikelle, after having come to know King Rosenthal and Lord Ruvano both, I would never suggest that men like them don't deserve to die, but why is it our responsibility to do something about it? If they're really as dangerous as you seen to think, there are countless others out there who have far more reason to deal with them than we do." As I finished tying off the bandage, I paused and stared at the floorboards. "I probably shouldn't say this after all the foul things you've done to me, but I asked you before to come away with me. The offer still stands, if you're interested."

"You never made me any such offer. That was Stephanie."

"I AM Stephanie..."

"No," she placed her hand on the side of the my face, "you're Mathis."

She closed her eyes and leant in to kiss me. As her warm, soft lips pressed to mine, I remained impassive. Just that morning she'd tried to kill me. I should not have tended to her wounds here now or extended her that offer of running away together yet again. She was as much my tormentor as Lord Ruvano ever was. In fact, even though he had occasionally alluded to it, Lord Ruvano had never actually tried to kill me as Nikelle had.

But at the same time, I couldn't forget all the times we'd stayed up late into the night drinking that bad ale and having wild sex until the wee hours of the morning. I'd once been able to talk and joke with her like no other woman I'd ever known. I'd used to like her...a lot. In a way, I still did.

I watched her delicate fingers unfasten my shirt. When she pulled it down over my broad shoulders, she paused for but a moment when she saw the vague red mark in my skin where her dagger had nicked Stephanie earlier. Again she kissed me and this time, I returned the gesture, our tongues intertwining in our mouths, our hands pulling each other close. She winced when I accidentally touched her injured side, but did not allow it to dampen the mood.

Rising to her feet, she pushed her dress past her hips and let it fall down around her ankles. In the flickering lamplight, her dark skin seemed to glow. Even battered and wounded as she was, she was still beautiful in an exotic way Stephanie never could have matched. As I looked on, my cock had become uncomfortably stiff in my pants. A woman's arousal was more subtle, but no less intoxicating. I stood then and removed my pants. My cock was standing semi-erect, twitching with each beat of my heart. I'd forgotten the craving it could instill in a man.

The two of us stood there, facing each other, naked. The desire was plain in her eyes, as I'm sure it was in my own. This had to be a mistake. I couldn't really do this with a woman who'd tried to kill me -- who'd used me -- who'd tried to make me into her assassin. But in that moment, it didn't matter. We were both exactly what the other needed.

I stepped forward and caressed her cheek. Her silky skin felt especially smooth under my callused fingers. We shared a mutual kiss before kneeling down together on the bedroll. I cradled her slight body in my muscled arms and laid her down, my own body covering hers as we kissed again. She spread her legs, inviting me between them. My cock was hard as a rock, standing firmly on its own and pointing directly at her shaven pussy. I lowered my hips, bringing the head of my cock down to touch her slippery folds.

Her hands on the small of my back urged me on. She needed this as badly as I did. I pressed my cock against her opening. It sank slowly into her depths, her eager flesh constricting around my shaft, enveloping it in her burning warmth. I felt her fingers gripping the muscled contours of my back, her own back going rigid as her sighs were muffled by our impassioned kisses. When I'd gone into her as far as I could, I leaned back so that I could see her face. She looked back at me with pleading desire.

Gods, she really was beautiful.

I drew my cock out of her right to the head. She gripped my thighs with her knees to keep me from going any farther but I had no intention of doing so. Nearly as slowly as I'd penetrated her the first time, I pressed my cock into her again, unhurriedly plowing her furrow and forcing a breathy sigh from her lips.

In and out with slow, steady strokes, I pumped my cock into her for what seemed like hours, driving her mad with the prolonged intrusions. My cock was hungry for release as well and my whole body tingled from the sensations coursing through it, but there was no need to rush. This was just the start.

As Nikelle's juices leaked down my shaft and dripped from my scrotum, I gradually increased the pace. Not too quickly at first; just a little. She bit her lip and twisted her hips against me. I went faster, holding my cock deep inside her for but a moment with each thrust. She began to whimper effeminately. If it were possible, I felt as if my cock grew even more stiff.

By the time I was pounding into her, she was writhing about under me, moaning and gasping. Our eyes locked onto each other and she grabbed the sides of my face, pulling me toward her for a fervent kiss. Lightning seemed to pass between our lips and across our tongues. I could feel the pressure of my passion building to climax. The moment her pussy began contracting rhythmically around my cock was the same moment I spilled my seed into her, all but exploding. A tingling raced across my skin and my head became light. We cried out into each others mouths in unison, our eyes still probing the other's.

I kept pumping into her throughout, the sputtering bursts of my cock perfectly in time with the spasms of her pussy. We came together, and together we came down. Still deep inside her, I laid down alongside her glistening body and brushed a stray lock of hair from her face before kissing her once again. As I stared into her eyes, they grew heavy with fatigue.

She really was a splendid woman -- far too splendid to throw her life away as an assassin. She should have been a queen. I wrapped my arms around her and held her close. Now that I had the strength to protect her, that was all I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I knew her twisted sense of duty was going to send her right back into the lion's den the moment she thought she was able.

I hated her stubbornness almost as much as I hated the things she'd done to me. Just a few hours earlier when we'd dueled in the bath chamber, I would have felt no remorse whatsoever if my dagger had found her heart. But now...

"I love you, Nikelle," I said, kissing her forehead. "I don't want to lose you."

"Mmm," she said, sleepily. "I'm not going anywhere, Mathis. Right here with you is all I need."

To Be Continued...

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