tagSci-Fi & FantasyTale in the Darkwood

Tale in the Darkwood


Lantrata rode cautiously through the Darkwood, cursing herself for a fool with every step her horse took. She should turn around now, and ride the narrow path back to Hardeber where there was beer and fire and a bed. She should tell the damn alchemist that it was no use, the fucking herb he wanted was nowhere to be found, and no fucking reward was worth the blood that his fucking errand had already cost.

Cozzo had fallen three days before with half a dozen arrows in him; Cundhart yesterday, as they fought off the snake-eyed Paelings that had come out of their caves to ambush them; and the wound Sigirich took in that fight had proved poisoned, too close to his heart for any of Lantrata's remedies to work. She had buried him that morning and then, against all reason, mounted her horse and continued north, deeper into the Darkwood, scanning the ground for a plant with purple leaves and berries while trying to watch for a new ambush at the same time.

Godsdammit. If she lived to get back to Hardeber, herb or no herb, she would have wergild off the fucking alchemist for the three of them or she would have his head.

She was, for all the hardship of the trail, intimidating in appearance as she rode slowly through the Darkwood. Lantrata was a tall woman with lean, muscular limbs, and a great mane of golden hair billowed down her back from a practical topknot which kept it from her eyes. Under a heavy green woolen weathercloak she wore a thick sleeveless leather tunic studded with metal plates for extra protection; feminine curves, unusual in a spearwoman, were tightly strapped in underneath lest they interfere in combat, but the contours of the tunic still betrayed their presence. The tunic left her arms bare, but further leather bracers with metal reinforcement protected her forearms. She wore high riding boots up past her knees, but, the weather being sultry for the moment, she left the rest of her legs and arms bare.

A round shield hung behind her left shoulder, in easy reach should there be trouble; she had painted its leather facing with the figure of a golden stag. In her right hand she carried an eight-foot spear, the butt of its shaft resting in a small pocket on her stirrup. A long single-bladed fighting knife such as northerners called a sax hung at her belt should an enemy come in too close for the spear. A short bow and quiver was suspended from her saddle, as much for hunting as for battle.

Her horse sensed the creature before she did, abruptly snorting and growing agitated under her. The mare stopped dead and pawed the ground, and Lantrata, knowing better than to distrust the beast's sense, confirmed the halt by pulling the reins taut. With a single fluid motion, she slipped the shield around and caught its handstrap, while also lifting the spear out of its rest.

The wind was coming from her right; doubtless whatever the mare had caught scent of lay in that direction also. She waited silently to see if anything would emerge out of the gloom.

After a moment, there was a stirring in the underbrush, and a creature stepped out cautiously from behind a thick oak tree. As Lantrata looked, at first she thought it was a man, perhaps one of the Morthing tribesmen who wandered in the northlands. He was of medium height, bearded, well-muscled, and remarkably hairy.

In his hands, he carried a bow not much different from her own, with an arrow nocked already and the string drawn. His only clothing was a kilt that appeared to be deerskin and a sash running over his shoulder, which held the quiver of arrows for his bow.

But it was the kilt that told her this was no human, Morthing or otherwise. As the two of them watched each other with weapons drawn, she saw the hem of the kilt seem to twitch and lift; and then a long, snakelike form rose up behind his back, curled around the feathered end of an arrow, and lifted it from the quiver to hold ready for a second shot.

Lantrata gasped as she realized that she was looking at the creature's tail. He was a woodling, such as nurses used to tell about in silly fairy tales for children. A creature of nursery tales had stepped onto the path in front of her and had an arrow aimed at her throat.

Lantrata judged the situation with the experience of many battles. If the woodling were an average shot, she could probably deflect it with her shield and ride him down before he drew a second. But if he were good, he would have the arrow in her eye before her guard was up. And if he did not share human soldiers' view that horses made good plunder, there was nothing she could do to stop him killing the mare. She could not remember a woodling ever using a horse in the old fairy tales.

"Do you speak our language?" she called out over her shield, hoping not to have to stop that arrow.

The creature viewed her silently, then, without lowering his bow in the slightest, replied, "Hey."

Lantrata hoped that was his way of saying, "Aye," and pushed on. "I do not want to fight."

"You have spear," he said flatly. "Spear for fight."

"My spear is for protection," she said, hoping he would understand. His voice was heavily accented and his sentences basic. "Fight other people. Fight another day. I don't want to fight you."

"Then fight who?"

"To fight Paelings. The Paelings killed three friends in hills. I live, come here."

His brows furrowed. "Paelings?"

"Paelings -- in hills," dammit, she was talking like an idiot, like him. Gods make him understand. Then a chill came over her. Gods, let the paelings not be allies of the woodlings. It would be the worst thing she could have said if they were. "Snake-eyes."

The furrows on his brow grew deeper. "Snake-eyes. You kill paelings?"

She gulped. The arrowhead was a narrow slit, pointed straight at her eye. There was no dodging that question. "Yes," she said. "I killed seven yesterday. Paelings killed two of my friends."

"Why you come into Darkwood?"

Gods, he knew what humans called his home. "I am looking for a plant. Purple leaves, purple berries."

"Purple?" he asked.

He didn't know the words for colors. Shit. Her brained raced through all the things around her, but she couldn't find anything the right color, not even in her saddlebags -- if she dared put down the spear. "Purple -- leaf like, like sunset. Berries also."

He stared at her, then suddenly smiled. "Ah..." he said. "You look hulliroca."

"Maybe," she said. "Hulliroca." Perhaps that was his word for what the alchemist wanted.

"You give me spear, and... and..." - he waved the tip of the arrow toward her other weapons - "and I show hulliroca."

Lantrata considered this. Possibly it was a ruse to disarm her before killing her; but then, if he really wanted to kill her, he could have shot her from concealment. That he came out to talk meant that he would only attack to protect himself or his territory.

Carefully, she lowered her spear to the ground and let it drop. Then the shield, and finally she pulled the sax from its sheath and dropped it as well. At his wave, she had the mare step backwards several steps, and the woodling came forwards and scooped up the collection of weapons in his arms, slipping his own bow over his shoulders as he did so.

"Come now," he told her when he had gathered them all," on foot."

Lantrata slipped out of the saddle and led themare by the reins. The woodling darted between the trees and began to follow some trail that her eyes could not make out. But he paused often enough for her to keep up, and even when he ran ahead, she could see, with fascination, the hairless tail lifted behind him, flicking from side to side like a cat's.

After many twists and turns through the forest, he led Lantrata to the largest tree she had ever seen. It soared so high into the gloom above her that she could not even tell what species it was -- an immensely overgrown ash, perhaps, to judge by the bark. Thirty men could have stood in a ring around the massive trunk and had difficulty joining hands. On one side, a high narrow crevice opened in the bole of the tree, and without a moment's hesitation the woodling disappeared inside, carrying Lantrata's weapons with him.

She paused only briefly to tie up the mare, then ducked her head and followed him inside.

There was a low, narrow passage for several yards, bending to the left to follow the perimeter of the tree. At the end of it was a narrow gap to the right which she had to crouch down to pass through. As she did, the space she entered suddenly flared with light. The woodling, to her surprise, had lit a pair of candles which he set on little recesses in the wooden walls.

She was in a single chamber, dimly lit with candlelight, perhaps ten feet across. There was no furniture, but the floor was heaped with skins and furs. The woodlings, she reflected, were no more vegetarians than wolves or lynxes. Here and there she could make out dark humps of baskets or burlap sacks, apparently filled with supplies of food and other essentials, and the occasional glint of metal from some tool or weapon.

The woodling produced an earthenware jug and poured a dark liquid into a similar cup which he held out to her. "Welcome in treehouse, guest," he beamed at her.

She took the cup with some trepidation, but decided that if he hadn't shot her before, he wasn't likely to poison her now. Her fears were somewhat assuaged when he poured himself a cup from the same jug.

"Welcome," he said again, and raised his cup in a toast. Lantrata returned the gesture.

"Cheers," she murmured. The woodling drank deeply, and she followed suit. The drink was thick and heavy, something like a very dark beer but with a taste of something fruity -- she couldn't quite place it. But the alcohol burned in her throat and she reckoned it as good as whiskey in a pinch.

"Sit, sit," he chuckled at her, watching her face change as she registered the taste, and dropped into the furs himself.

Lantrata eased herself down. The furs lay several layers thick are were as soft as a feather bed. "Where is the hurli..."

"Hulliroca," he corrected her. "No fast. Slow first. We talk trade, yes?"

Lantrata fought a surge of panic as she thought of her weapons, now lying in some dark corner behind him. "I can't trade my weapons. I didn't bring much else."

The woodling laughed loudly, a cheerful, deep, throaty laugh. "I need not weapons," he chuckled at her.

"Well, what do you want?" She demanded, irritated at his humor.

"For hulliroca? For hulliroca, I need woman."

"What? What do you mean?"

"I need woman. You know... woman, man..." The woodling made a gesture with fingers curling around each other that could only refer to one thing. "Woodling woman hard to find. You here. You want hulliroca, you - what is word? - with me."

Well, I'll be damned by the five gods, Lantrata thought. "You want me to make love to you?"

The woodling shook his head. "No... that not word..."

Mercenary warrior that she was, veteran of six wars and gods knew how many caravan escorts and bodyguard jobs, the spearwoman Lantrata felt a blush creeping across her face. "Oh... you want me to fuck you? Then you'll give me the... the hulliroca?"

The woodling's face lit up in a massive smile, showing brilliant white teeth in the candlelight. "Yes, yes," he agreed. "You fuck me. Then I get you hulliroca, you can go."

Lantrata looked at him over the brim of her cup of dark liquor. He was hairier than her ideal, but she had been far less picky a dozen times when drunk. His face was pleasant enough, strong bones and liquid brown eyes that seemed to allow no room for guile; his body was lean and well-muscled.

Her eyes drifted down to his kilt and she gasped at the realization that he was already becoming aroused... very aroused, by the look of things. And the offer he made was a damn sight better than wandering alone in the Darkwood, dodging paelings in search of gods knew what strange weed.

She drained her cup in a single gulp and tossed it aside, her eyes fixed on him. The warmth of the liquor spread through her veins and made her relaxed and a little aroused all at once.

"All right," she said. "I'll fuck you. But you make it nice for me or I'll cut your balls off. No wham-bam here."

He smiled even more and she knew he had only understood the first five words she said. He rose to his knees and stripped the kilt away with a quick motion. Oh fuck, Lantrata thought. He is not human at all. The cock that rose before her was already eight inches long and was not fully erect yet. Dammit, she hadn't even touched it! What had she let herself in for?

He was coming straight toward her on his knees and reaching for her legs. She quickly shuffled backwards and caught his hands. "Wait a second, ok?" she cried. "Let's be nice. Here..."

His face was confused, but he paused enough for her to reach for that intimidating member and take it in her hands. He almost leaped away at the sudden sensation, but she stroked him softly and he stayed put.

"Nice," she purred at him, "nice... like this..." His cock stood up higher and straighter... oh shit, it was immense... she kept stroking it, then leaned forward to him and brought him to her mouth.

"Nice..." he murmured, and her lips closed over his bulging cockhead. She took it, just the head, in her mouth, and ran her tongue across it. She could practically feel his pulse, beating rapidly under the skin.

She released the head and ran her tongue down his shaft, one side and then the other, then traced a long, lazy line of saliva up the underside. The woodling's eyes burned as he watched her suck him and she realized this was a new pleasure for him. Either the woodling girls were really hard to find or they just fucked like bunnies and ran.

Well, she would show him what a woman who knew what she was doing could do to a man.

Lantrata went down on all fours in front of him, and used one hand to massage his massive prong while her mouth closed over him again. She was never going to be able to fit him all inside, and she was a woman who knew how to deep-throat a dick. But dammit, she'd do her best.

He was starting to moan now. His hands rested on her shoulders, caressing them, and then crept around to her chest. She was still wearing her armor. She left stroking his cock briefly to untie the shoulder guards and then to begin unlacing the ties that ran down either side under her arms with her free hand.

Meanwhile she eased his dick deeper and deeper into her mouth, scraping it gently with her teeth as it went in. She got it to the back of her mouth and relaxed her gag reflex, breathing through her nose, and felt gods-knew-how-many inches of meat fill her mouth. She held him there a moment, listened to him groan helplessly, and then slid off of him.

That was when the surprise came. His cock was in her mouth, his hands on her shoulders, when suddenly she felt something soft yet firm probing at her cleavage. Surprised, she looked down.

It was the tail.

As though it had a life of its own, it had slithered between his legs and was now burrowing where her tunic had been loosened and found its way between her tits. It wriggled there, seeking out one nipple and then the other, twirling around them.

She felt a faint pinch and recalled that it had a sort of lip or tip at the end. It was strange and yet... and yet... maybe it was the woodling's strange booze, but she had to admit, the tail's explorations were exciting. She felt oddly vulnerable, like there was no part of her immune to his touch, even clothed, hell, even armored.

She threw herself on his cock again and sucked him energetically. She was on fire now for this strange man of the forest, she was no longer showing him her skills in order to get her search over with. His manhood filled her mouth and she slurped and licked it, she ate him hungrily while his hips began to shiver and buck and he was unable to resist fucking her mouth.

He had figured out the side-lacings and her tunic was coming looser. He tore at the fabric that bound her breasts in and it came away in his hands. His hands grasped her tits then, fondling and squeezing each while she kept on blowing his massive member. She couldn't feel that tail... and then there it was again.

It had found her ass. Pulling the skirts of the tunic up, the long coil wriggled across one buttock and then the other. It slipped inside her undergarment and probed down the valley between her asscheeks; it laid itself into the furrow, pressing firmly on her rosebud, and wrapped right around to her pussy.

He had her pelvis in a solid grip with his strong tail. Lantrata opened her lips wide as he pulled her harder against him, the long cock sliding over her tongue and into her throat. The tip of the tail found her clitoris and began to stroke it with slow, smooth motions. She moaned, her voice muffled by the mouthful of meat she had.

Her pussy was getting warm and slick as the tail teased her clit, and she pulled off his cock to let the heat wash over her. A curve of the tail was still settled in her ass, twitching left and right against her. She was helpless in his hands.

The woodling took her under her shoulders and lifted her up to face him, all the while massaging her ass and pussy with that amazing tail. He kissed her hard, while she took his erect member in both hands and worked it rapidly.

The tip of the tail shifted, and she groaned as it began to slide up inside her cunt. She mused abstractly, in a kind of delirious joy, that she had never had her pussy filled at the same time as she was still holding a man's cock in her hands. Her pussylips parted as the smooth, firm member probed them and then thrust inside. Deeper, deeper it went, until she was completely filled. It found the back wall of her cervix and stopped, touching it gently without hurting her.

Oh gods, she thought, this tail is the perfect fuck. It slid around in a spiraling motion and she squealed.

Then he was easing her backwards until she lay down, his hands holding her by the knees and lifting her legs into the air. His tail stayed in her pussy the whole time, thrusting back and forth and twirling around by turns; then he mouth clamped over her clitoris and licked up her juices thirstily.

"Oh FUCK!" she shouted. It was too much. "Oh GODS, yes, eat my cunt, oh fuck fuck fuck..."

Then his tail moved for the third time. He kept eating her pussy aggressively as she felt it slide out of her sex, holding her legs high so that her pelvis lifted off the furs towards him. Then she felt the tip of the tail gently touching her anus, and suddenly there was a new, warm, slick feeling there.

She gasped and looked down; apparently the tail contained some sort of gland, for a clear, slick fluid with a strong musky smell was oozing from it, coating her ass, making her smooth and slippery. The tail tip wandered around her ass, smearing the lubrication everywhere, and then it began to prod at her anus, making her open there too... a delightful relaxation crept over her and she opened herself to the strange lover completely...

He stopped eating her pussy then, and pulled himself up over her. She looked deep into those alien brown eyes and smiled. She was ready.

With a firm, confident thrust, he pushed his enormous cock into her. Her pussy welcomed it, gripped it, embraced it as it slid inside her. She was no innocent, but her cunt had never wanted a cock as much as she wanted this one. Her eyelids fluttered as he fucked her... and right at the same time as that thick shaft was entering, she felt her anus open too, and the tail, still oozing its oil, slid into her ass.

As his lips closed over her, his tongue slipped between her teeth, and she suddenly realized that it, too, was longer and thicker than any human's... he didn't force it back and gag her, but explored her palate with it, her own tongue dancing with it in a passionate game... it was almost a third cock, she thought, and smiled at the thought that he was fucking her in every orifice at once.

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