The Song of Roland Ch. 15byHookedonPhoenix©
"Where were you born?" Kelsea asked Roland, out of the blue. He glanced up from his morning breakfast: a crumbled bit of stale barley bread. The Succubus stared expectantly at him across the smouldering remains of the fire, dressed and already ready for travel. She seemed surprisingly sprightly considering all that had happened the day before. He kept chewing.
"Loherhof." He said between bites.
She tilted her head, "And where's that?"
"South." He said brusquely. Kelsea let out an amused snort.
"You don't have to act so aloof." She said, her tail moving slowly behind her. She hadn't yet switched to her human appearance. "You could just say you don't want to talk about it."
Roland glanced over and saw Carl Hale dutifully packing up the remains of their camp, down at the base of the incline they'd perched beneath. The shadow of the sun was still behind the mountaintop, and the whole valley through which the trail ran was cast in a deep shade.The glamoured man's wiry form bent in a slow, deliberate way as he carefully stored their items, even cinching Roland's own pack after checking for holes. The Harpy was already gone, out hunting most like. "My mouth's full." He finally replied, swallowing.
"-And your head's somewhere else." Kelsea retorted. "Since when has food ever stopped you from jawing my ear off?"
"I dunno," Roland said, "Why the sudden interest in where I used to live?"
The Succubus gave him a keen grin. "You're good at that, dodging things you don't want to respond to: you just answered a question with another question."
"Is there something wrong with that?" He said in reply. Kelsea laughed at him. He took another deliberate bite from the bread, the thick brown crust yielding like tree bark to his teeth. "My past ain't important. I came from a nowhere village, grew up and guarded a nowhere castle for a couple of years, then pulled up stakes and wandered to a bunch of different places, most of 'em filled with the same kind of nowhere. Then I met you."
"There are some serious gaps in that memory, if that's all you can recall." The sultry woman said, quirking a flirtatious black eyebrow at him.
Roland gave her a look as he finished munching on his bit of bread, licking his fingers free of the crumbs. "Were you hoping for war stories?"
"I was hoping for any story!" She replied, leaning forward. "Hearing about your family, your home, what you did 'that one time' with your friend; anything!"
"Fucked a whore and her friend in a brothel, once." He said, shrugging and wiping at his pant leg to get rid of the remaining crumbs. "Had to pay for the pleasure, but it wasn't much more than both of em woulda cost on their own."
Kelsea sighed, "You're putting in an awful lot of work to make yourself seem mysterious, Roland." Her eyes followed him as he stood up, hefting his pack onto his back.
"Not 'mysterious,' just dull." He replied. "The past is the one thing that never changes. The future is the one thing that never quite arrives. The here and now is all that matters. Why yammer on things that have no bearing on the present?"
"It's who we are." She said in response, "It's what makes us the people taking these decisions."
"Do you like all the choices you've made in your life?" He asked, empty of rancor. She pursed her lips and slowly shook her head. "Nor I. Maybe I'm avoiding telling you about it because I'd rather not revisit them, yeah?" He kicked away the last embers of the fire, standing straight and beginning the laborious climb up the steep, rocky incline of the High Road. It was a windless day, and so the cold was nowhere near as oppressive as it had been the last few mornings. Roland pulled his cloak about his person as he began the ascent. It took her a few minutes, but soon Kelsea came bounding up behind him, laden down with her own packs. Carl brought up the rear.
"What were your parents like?" She asked, standing off to one side as Roland took the other, sharper slant of the furrowed canyon road. "Do you have any siblings?"
"My parents were old when I knew them," Roland said, letting out a huff of exertion. "-older still when I left. Probably dead now, to be honest. I haven't seen them in more'n a decade."
"Why so long?" Kelsea asked, leaping over a small water ravine. The climb was getting more treacherous. "Didn't you want to-"
"Can we talk about this when we're not scaling a mountain?" Roland said, breathless, and more than a little annoyed.
"What about siblings?" She pressed, undeterred. She'd resumed her more humanlike appearance as she fumbled up the hillside. She was not afraid to get her hands dirty. Her spiked Man-Catcher stuck out from behind her back like a monk's walking stick. "Brothers, Sisters..."
"You're..." He sucked in a mouthful of air, "Way too vested in this, right now."
"-And you're avoiding the question." She shot back. "Don't be such a dour grouch! I'm just curious."
"No, you're just vexing." He said, stopping to catch his breath. She stopped alongside him. Carl Hale came up from behind a ways as well, his back laden with more than his fair share of their supplies. "We're running out of firewood." Roland said grimly, attempting to change the subject. "The next few nights are going to be cold."
"We won't find more trees to cut?" Kelsea asked, "We've already passed several groves on the way here."
"Aye, but now we're in the higher altitudes." Roland said. "Past this incline the road meanders about the mountainside; the pathway is the only thing to walk on, cliffs on either side. The last few trees we're gonna see till we get to Arjal are those-" He stuck his thumb out to point at the hanging branches of a snow-capped alpine forest atop a tall, flat plateau, hanging high above them on the cliffs abetting the roadside. "And unless you want to do some climbing on the cliff face, we're not getting to them."
"You can all use me for warmth!" She said, her smile far more excited about it than it should have been. "I'll be your little hearth to huddle around."
"I prefer that my fireplace not require a shagging, just to stay lit." Roland remarked dryly. "Besides, a fire is better than spooning with Carl Hale. It also helps ward off anything that might be lurking in the night. Like-"
"Imps?" Kelsea said, her face growing serious.
"I was going to say Succubi, but clearly that'd be a lie, yeah?" Carl passed by the two of them, picking his way up the embankment as they continued to talk. "We're runnin' low on food, too. Wish we hadn't had to vacate the city so damned fast, else we'd have been able to get some proper supplies for the trip."
Kelsea shot him a teasing look. "Would you have preferred I let you rot in that cell? You're too comely for prison, Roland." She winked, "And you still haven't answered my earlier question. Siblings?"
"Gods, woman." Roland growled. "Give it a rest, will you?"
"No! It's too much fun. I just..." She trailed off, letting out a hefty breath. "I want to get to know you, Roland."
He continued to climb, his legs lifting and pushing in the unsteady ground. "You already know me." Roland said. Kelsea moved to follow. "Hearing about some prick's estranged, dead family doesn't make him any more relatable."
"If it's you, it does." She replied. "I want to know what you were like, back then." Roland guffawed, his leather armor shifting as he laughed.
"Don't get sentimental on me now, hellspawn." He said, "You want to know about the Roland of 'back then?' He was a bit of a fool, if I'm to be blunt."
"We're well past 'sentiments,' Roland." Kelsea said, jumping over a small divot in the road and landing next to him. She pulled him into an embrace; her arms went about his chest, and the big man hugged her back, his hands planting themselves easily upon her waist. "I don't buy your 'grizzled veteran' act for an instant. You just don't want to share!" The Succubus said. She looked up at him, her smile shy and alluring. She slid her hand up and down his arm playfully, her fingers tickling upon his skin. Kelsea's lips parted just slightly, and he could hear the heavy, implicit exhale she gave to him. "C'mon," She murmured. "Tell me."
He met her gaze for a long instant. There was something there, in his mind. A gentle tug, like the thread of a line being drawn taut by the potency of a fisherman's grip dragged at him. Kelsea's eyes lidded. She gave a half-noticed squeeze to his back, nibbling just slightly on the end of her lip. A low want bloomed within the confines of the mercenary's mind. Roland's glare hardened. "You're doing it, again." He said, his voice going grave.
Kelsea's face turned in confused incomprehension, then suddenly jolted back as her eyes widened. She pulled away from the hug. "O-oh! Uh... oh Gods, sorry." She shook her head, her expression showing a small flash of alarm. Her hand nervously tugged at her pack. "I didn't even think about it."
Roland was silent for a moment. "...You really want to know more about me. Don't you?" He said the words with a slow, deliberate tone, regarding her like something perilous he had to carefully observe. "Enough to ask me in whatever way you could. When you couldn't get me to tell you by simply convincing me, you tried-"
"It-!" Her tone was wavering and nervous. "It was an accident, Roland."
His expression darkened, "Like fucking Carl Hale was? And the Harpy?"
"I-I'm sorry!" Kelsea blurted out, a frightened look coming to her face. "I'll try to... I've got it under control."
"You don't." He said, letting loose a helpless shrug. "But what else can I do, except try and remind you?"
"It's..." He gave a heavy sigh, cursing himself on the inside. "It's okay, Kelsea." He said, shouldering his pack. "Let's just keep moving. I want to be out of these mountains as soon as we can manage it."
"Where will we go, after that?" She said, her tone subdued. "I've never asked you about our destination."
Roland's eyes glanced up to see Carl far ahead, his trudging steps slothful and ungainly as he crossed the natural hazards of the trail first. "Arjal seems the most likely first stop. It's the gateway to the Magelands."
"My mother's there." Kelsea said numbly, her voice a soft emittance.
"You planning on staging some sort of reunion when we get there?" Roland said.
"Gods, no!" She replied, "It's not possible! I just... she's there."
Roland nodded. "-And after Arjal? I don't know. We'll be out of coin long before we can leave the city, so we'll have to make some more if we're going to pay for the three of ours room and board."
"Three?" She said, her eyes tracing the empty sky. The last of their companions was still nowhere to be found. "What about-"
"You know as well as I that once we reach civilization that thing will be killed on sight, especially in the Magelands." Roland said, "Harpies infest the wilds to the north, along with all the rest of the beastfolk. Every year they try to migrate through the pass at the Border Forts, and a couple of them get through and terrorize the frilly spell weavers. It's probably how your 'little one' got so far into the Auroch Mountains in the first place. She came south looking for easier pickings, and then figured out that down here isn't any better than where she came from. If we brought her with us, she'd be treated like a wild animal. At best. It would also bring a lot of unwanted attention."
Kelsea's expression flattened. "...then we skip Arjal." She said.
"Not an option." Roland retorted, "We need to rest and replenish our supplies. We can find work, buy provisions, figure out what to do with Carl. And then you and I have to think about what comes next."
"What do you mean?" She asked, her face open and quizzical. "It's whatever you want."
Roland looked at her. The air was chill but the sunlight began at last to peek out over the white capped mountaintops, casting them both in a dull, yellow glow. The few clouds around were hanging like leering wisps of white aether far above them in the blue sky. "Kelsea," He said, keeping his voice as neutral as he could manage. "Stop it. Don't carry on like this, pretending that you're just some simple hanger-on or tagalong. You know that you have the final say in this. If I say 'left,' and you tell me to go 'right,' which path d'you think I'm going to walk?"
"I-" Kelsea started, but her eyes dropped. She couldn't match his even stare. Her shoulders hunched into herself. Roland continued.
"If we are going to keep performing this farce, we could at least abide by the roles we play." He put a hand upon her shoulder, and she looked down at it, her cheek brushing against his thumb. "Just because you don't like what you are, doesn't mean you should keep avoiding the truth."
She matched eyes with him, her blue irises clenching into a pained expression. She kept her arms at her sides, unable to bring herself to inflict her presence upon him any more than she had to. "I don't want this, Roland." She said, as if asking him to make it stop.
"It's yours, all the same." He replied. "Feigning ignorance won't make it go away. It'll only make what happened with Carl and the Harpy more than just a single, awful decision. Start paying attention to yourself, your train of thought, the reason why you're doing things." He pulled her back into an embrace, his hands circling her side and cupping the back of her head. "It will help you stay safe."
"I think 'sane' is the better word to describe it." She said glumly. "However brief the clarity lasts. Till something innocuous happens, and I go back to being just a vindictive slut who-" Roland lowered his head and kissed her, his breath sighing into hers as he muffled her protests with his mouth. She fell into his lips, leaning against him bodily for support. Her arms circled beneath his armpits, her hands reaching up to clutch his shoulders to her. They pulled back from the smooch, their breathing matching in intensity, eyes trained to one another. The Succubus held fast to his large chest as she leaned her head against his shoulder, her lips pressing softly at the curve of his neck it in a modest display of affection. "...Case in point." Kelsea said, letting out a humorless chuckle. "Now all I want to do is get down on my knees and kiss something else."
"Then do it." He whispered in her hair, his hands beginning to move down to clutch at her rear. "I never asked you to be celibate."
"Good luck trying to make me." She replied, her lips suctioning against his neck as she left a more lasting show of fondness upon his body. "I can't make myself stop, more oft than not."
"It's what you are." He said, his voice tender as he took her chin in hand. "It's like telling a wild animal not to feed. You cannot help it."
Kelsea stared at him for a long moment, her eyes observing his face in the aftermath of his statement. She leaned her head into his chest, a quiet laugh escaping her lips. "You're such a mawkish sap sometimes, you know? Trying to make me feel like it's okay, assuaging my guilt." She shook her head, her fingers pulling just a little closer to him. He heard her take a shuddering inhale. "I- I can feel you, Roland. Your heartbeat... even when you're feet away. Ever since the Imps, I... It's like I can sense every pump of life that moves across your body, the little veins moving blood about your person. Is it... am I mad? I can't be feeling this. When it quickens, I... my own, it-" She moved still closer to him. He could feel her own heart beating far more rapidly than a normal human's would. Like the probing rattling of a woodpecker's beak upon a tree.
The Demoness moaned, her voice deep and husky. "I can't get enough of you. Your scent, your body, your-" She trailed off, her eyes closing as she melded to his own form. He could only see the top of her head, as Kelsea held him close to her. She went quiet for a long time, her breaths deepening as she tightened her grip on him. "...Do you care for me, Roland?" She asked, her voice a silent query. "Or is it just my presence that makes you stay? Am I just-" She shook her head, her mind momentarily lowering from its amorous haze. "Gods, I can't even let a jape about gobbling your nob go by without questioning everything about myself, can I?" She looked up at him, her eyes uncertain, her face wearing an unfathomable expression.
Roland didn't respond, instead watching her as he took her hand in his. He led it, with slow, deliberate intensity to the locus of his erection, poking thickly through the fabric of his pants. She seemed to grasp his intent, circling her fingers around the bulge in the material. Like an instructor leading his student in the art of dance he held his hand atop hers, moving with her as she took a long, sluggish stroke of his sex. He could feel her grip tighten, as though she were granting a more intimate implication of fondness through her hold on him. Roland pressed his lips to her face, and she let him, leaning up as she accepted the burden of her own innate arousal.
Kelsea pulled back from him, shaking his hand from her shoulder as she peeled off her pack. Dropping the cumbersome thing to the ground, she kneeled in the dirt. The Demoness gripped his larger body by the waist, pulling him forward purposefully as Roland discarded his own pack, her hands removing his pants with the familiarity of one who had divested her lover of his clothes a hundred times before. In moments he was exposed, his long penis in front of her face as she stared unabashedly in reverence of the thing she'd moulded to her own will. The mercenary had always been endowed, though not overly so. But now, having been in the presence of this creature of pure warping power, his cock was half and again the size it had once been. Now he truly was a mammoth when erect. Kelsea stared at it with a hunger that went beyond mere sexual arousal. She leaned forward, her hands held neatly in her lap, and kissed the bobbing thing on the tip. She smacked her lips against it as though she were frenching Roland's lips, her neck bending to one side as she leaned her head into it, licking with her tongue like she was trying to get into his mouth. "Mmh." She muttered, taking his head a little deeper.
Roland put a hand behind her head, asserting an unusually commanding stance above her as the Succubus began to swallow his length. She kept her own hands free, her head doing the whole of the work as she bobbed forward, her throat expanding as she made room for his shaft. She made a point of only taking in his head within her heated lips, keeping her actions limited to merely stimulating and licking at the bulbous thing as she matched eyes with Roland. Her blue gaze stared at him, as if she wasn't even paying attention to what she was doing. The mercenary groaned, matching her look before pushing her down onto him, forcefully deepening the connection. Taking his lead, she reached out with a hand, her fingers circling his base as she began to slowly pull at his pecker, her jacking moving intentionally in opposite directions to her head nodding. When she pulled back, her hand dove down, bunching at the base, when she swept forwards, her hand pulled up, adding an extra layer of incitement to her ardent attendance to his erection.
Roland pushed hard with his hand, bunching Kelsea's face down onto his cock in an abrupt rush of sexuality that caught the naughty demon off guard. Her cheeks bulged as her mouth dilated, her eyes widening in surprise as she found herself swallowing almost the whole of him in the space of an instant. Her spit now coated his cock, her tongue working the underside of his shaft as she adjusted to the intense face fucking he began to give her. Far from being annoyed at the increase of pace, the Succubus smoothly transitioned into a subservient position, scootching surreptitiously with her knees so that she was positioned directly beneath Roland's feet, her head tilting nearly vertical to gaze with open and expressive eyes back at her entrapped mercenary. She let out a licentious moan, her voice humming with his meat in her mouth as she eagerly ate his chode.