Every word out of her mouth infuriated him even as his body was set ablaze. Never, in all of his years, had he felt the urge to cover a woman’s body with his own, claiming her completely. The urge to turn her over to her hands and knees, to carefully sink his fangs into her shoulder to hold her still. To curl up next to her as she slept and comb his fingers through that wild tangle of hair.
“Shut up.” Fenri ground out, the choke hold on his restraint slipping at her earnest expression. Damnit if he did not want to believe her! Something in her expression made his chest tighten. A soft touch on his calf made him look down. Then bend slightly to see past the curve of his gut. A soft tendril was curling over his leg, tickling lightly as at the inn all those months ago.
Tangles of power. Death and life. Abruptly reminded of the danger trapped in the seemingly helpless form before him, his hands sprang free.
A mewl of protest escaped her, and her hands sprang forward, grasping the bottom curve of the sides of his belly. A strong yank, and they were front to front, her breasts nestling comfortably into the top curve of his gut, his member pleasurably trapped against her.
The women smiled instead of frowned, even after his harsh words. Although a ready grin always seemed to be at her disposal, this one touched her eyes, warming them with…affection?
The look unnerved him. He had no room in his life for affection of any sort. He was not a human, and Mother would destroy any woman who dared to usurp her place in his affection. He would walk away and leave her behind. He would forget about this except as some sort of tryst. He had already gotten what he came for. Yes. He would walk away right now. He would open a portal and -
His large hand descended to the nape of her neck, warm palm holding her still as he rested their foreheads together. “This means nothing.” He rasped into their shared breath.
Melody was about to open her mouth to speak, but the sheer intensity of his expression halted her. To her surprise, rather than capturing her lips like she fully expected, he ran his cheek along hers. A pleased groan escaped his lips, and he repeated the process on the other side. It felt incredibly intimate, as if he was marking her with his scent.
It didn’t feel like nothing.
Not when his arms were wound about her tightly, holding her into his body so hard that it felt like he was trying to make her one with him. Not when he began kissing and nipping his way up her neck with a torturous patience. And not when he slowly eased them to the floor, lightly petting her side.
It was not the physical intimacy with which he touched her, and it was not the primal intensity of past lovers - though that was present too. There was something in his expression and touch which shook the witch into silence. It confused her enough that she only vaguely noticed how luscious his body was, and how his stomach folded and bulged as he moved around her body.
There was something oddly empty about a forest, even as it teemed with life. When she had been young, Melody had been sitting in an empty glen, staring up at the canopy. I am like a forest, she had thought. Empty. It would have been a hurtful thought, except that it was not a new realization, just one fully coalesced.
After a long while of stillness, animals had tumbled into the glen; a noisy bunch of boars had snuffled and squealed their way to the pond. The piglets only noticed her when almost atop of her, and had frozen in fear. At her lack of motion, the trio began snuffling at her, their little tails swishing rapidly as they talked amount themselves. Not alone, she had realized, wariness of the mother keeping her still. The forest affirmed her feeling with a wordless affection towards the noisy, smelly creatures, who eventually fell asleep nestled into her side as wetness slid silently down her tanned cheeks.
The forest was a house, and it needed occupants to feel like a home.
And the way Fenri was touching her made her feel like he was coming home.
The halfling spent inordinate amounts of time on areas of her body that Melody had no idea could be that sensitive or pleasurable. Suddenly nervous, the witch was oddly compliant and still. When he nipped the tips of her fingers, little shivers ran up her arms. When he licked her collar bone, dragging his tongue between her breasts, her skin tingled with pleasure bordering on pain. It wasn’t even consistent; rather than falling face first into the areas that were guaranteed to bring them fulfillment, he seemed to be trying to memorize her body. Moving here and there a drunken butterfly kind of intensity.
Something about the soft, intimate touch he was bestowing on her made her feel that same way as she had all those years ago. She was no longer alone in a glen, watching the world pass. No longer alone. Something welled within her, devouring every scrap of affection bestowed on her. Pulling it deep within her. Storing it for the long, lonely times ahead. This, she realized with sudden clarity, was why Giselle had sex with so many men.
When Fenri nuzzled the inside of her knees, looking down on her body with shadowed eyes, she swallowed. This was a fare-thee-well sex encounter, the earth witch suddenly realized, something in her seizing. If he had sex with her now, as she knew he was about to, it would be the last time she would see him. She didn’t want that, and the strange hollow sensation in her gut made her frown. She just wanted him to stay in the glen for a while. Just a little while…
His expression was clear of anger as lay down beside her and wrapped his arms around her. “Wh-what are you doing?”
“Embracing you,” he murmured, irritated voice contrasting sharply with his gentle touch. He had pulled her into him, pillowing her cheek on his arm, and thrown a leg over her. “Never been hugged before?” He mocked her even as the halfling deeply inhaled, nose buried in her locks.
She felt utterly devoured by the sheer size and heat of his body as she sunk into it. Not…really, no.
There was Giselle, of course. But others? Melody cast her mind back. Perhaps her mother had hugged her once or twice, but her father certainly never had. Nor had the army of caretakers that rotated out so quickly she had never bothered to learn their names. Then after that…yep. Nope. Never.
And Giselle’s hugs had never felt like this. Those made her want to giggle and jump around and get up to mischief. This embrace made her want to sink deeper into him, bury her face in his soft shoulder, and never get up. To cry until she laughed, and the laugh until she cried. She had not cried in years, she suddenly realized.
“Dee?” he tried to pull away when wetness began to form the occasional rivulet on his arm. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she muttered, voice thick and muffled into his soft but strong bicep.
“Are you crying?”
Although she could not see his face, his aghast tone was clear. She shook her head. T’was no use to cry over a boy. Or a super sexy man who was everything she wanted in every way, and also seemed like he has a super tolerable personality too! She had gotten her the some-some she had so desperately desired. She was happy, and could move on with life. Help Fen and Giselle get together. Hell, maybe Fen could get her out. Then their life could begin together. She could visit when she was in the area, of course.
“You are crying!” he exclaimed, plucking at her to pull her away far enough to see her face.
Melody shook her head, maintaining a vine like grip on his body. He couldn’t see her not-crying. That would be awful.
He shuffled into a sitting position with crossed legs. She refused to lift her face, sliding down his chest. In response, his belly balled itself into a mound, directly below her dripping eyes. “Why are you crying?” he demanded, fighting little twitches as the tears tickled his sensitive skin.
The witch sniffled wetly. “I’m not!” Each little drop quivered before gently caressing the broad side of his belly.
“Then what’s this wetness?” The man snapped, brows knitting over her bowed head. He looked rather stricken, his ears wilting to the side in a way that would have had her caressing them, if she had seen.
“It’s just raining from my eyes,” she retorted, still clinging to his great soft body. Just for a moment. Enjoy the moment until he left the glen. She’d rather cuddle and cry into him like a teddy bear than screw his brains out. Oy, how this had turned on it’s head!
A sound of exasperation escaped from his throat along with the odd chuckle of someone laughing against their will. Her tears and pain hurt him in an odd way, nullifying his anger – but not his suspicion. “Sad you got caught? That your little adventure escapade into Shiva politics is over? Or maybe you are fearful that now that your part has been played, Dulog will kill you?” He cringed even as the hurtful words escaped him, and he made a subtle, futile gesture with the hand that was not petting her hair. Petting her? When had he begun soothing her?
Furtive eye wipe and - “Who the hell is Dulog?” Melody finally demanded, raising red rimmed but dry eyes. “What game? And I’d like to see him try!”
That chin was firm, that snub nose raised. Freckles stood out on the bridge of her nose, her face a pale moon surrounded by a thick mass of curls. As always, a smudge of dirt was on her face, and a few leaves were wound into those locks. Bright brown eyes stared straight into his own, and he gave a careful inhale of her scent; pride and pain. Pride, he could understand. Why pain? He finally softened, finding no sour note of fear or guilt in her.
She seemed to expect to fight, or at least lashed out at. Her chest was puffed and ready to bow into him, expression implacable. Hands balled into fists. “I don’t want to fight!” She finally burst out.
Neither did he, he realized with sudden clarity, all of his anger draining out of his body. It left him feeling weaker than he could remember in decades.
“I just I want you to believe me,” she finally burst out. “Why won’t you believe me?”
He…did. There was zero doubt in his mind that his brother was trying to use this woman to destroy him. The witch, however, seemed genuinely confused and hurt. Why would she dissemble at this point? With her power, even Dulog would be hard pressed to kill her, unless he caught her unawares. And with the entire forest at her unconscious disposal, that seemed unlikely. As for his comment about involvement in their culture, she had seemed more interested in his body than anything else. As for why she seemed sad…her expression had grown less animated as he touched her, preparing himself mentally to leave. Had he displeased her - hurt her? That thought was troubling, and he bowed his head with a deep sigh.
She noticed his sagging frame and gentled expression, but for once did not focus on his inflated belly pushing out as his posture slumped.. “Wait, what are you doing? Aren’t we fighting?”
“I’m too tired to fight anymore, Dee.” And he sounded it – bone weary. The beautiful creature didn’t seem to know what to do when Fenri suddenly sighed again, putting his head into her lap. Her hold over him was not weakening. If anything, it was strengthening.
If she was in fact in league with Dulog, and he was going to die for his lack of care, so be it. For now, he had no fight left in him.
Those brown eyes danced across his face suspiciously. “Not going to accuse me of things that I didn’t do?”
“Not at the moment,” he responded with no insignificant amount of dryness in his tone, still regretting his harsh words.
“You believe me?”
She sounded so hopeful. Fenri sighed yet again, surprised at how peaceful and comfortable this position was. And the view was quite spectacular. With his head in her crossed legged lap, he could look up into her downturned face, framed by the undersides of her lovely breasts. And her skin was so soft, the tantalizing smell of her skin and sex tickling his delicate nose. “Yes.” he mumbled.
She leaned down to look into his eyes, resting those soft, ripe fruits directly on his head. “So, you aren’t going to goodbye fuck me and leave and never see me again?”
“No.” He peered up into her upside-down eyes, the feel of her beautifully heavy and soft breasts distracting him. Her sudden smile was replaced just as suddenly with a frown, her eyes unfocused. “Why? Does that displease you?”
“No. I mean, kind of. Sex with you is amazing. Like I said, I really am not happy I made you mad. I don’t even know what this is-“ she jangled her wrist at him, making the muted metal bounce – “I just wanted to see you. I’ve been looking ever since we met.” The last came out as a mumbled admission.
“Have you now.” Given the suppressed smile that immediately overtook his face, this news pleased him to no small degree. Gently taking her forearm into his hands, he examined the hated piece of metal with a hard eye. “The man who gave you this was called Dulog. Were you aware of that?”
“No.” Her eyes suddenly widened in realization. “Wait, oh yeah! I remember, I asked his name and the dummy gave it to me - but was being dickish so I didn’t give him mine back.”
Fenri laughed aloud at that. So she did know at least some of their culture. What a double insult, to demand his name as if he was a child, and then give nothing in return! Sobering, he looked back up into her eyes as if searching for the truth. “Did you know what this meant when he gave it to you?”
“Nope. Still don’t.”
The chit sounded somehow proud of her ignorance, if that was possible. He pinched the metal between thumb and forefinger in distaste. “Are you aware that Shiva bond with their partners?”
Her tone was dry as she quirked a brow with an oddly wistful expression. “Yeah, I know about that.”
“This ‘bracelet’ is something that is made to link mates together. Different properties can be imbued. This one imbues the wearer – their mate - with resistance to being scryed.”
“Wait – mates - like a wedding band?”
“Exactly like a wedding band.” The idea of her belonging to anyone but him filled him with a deep disquiet. The idea of her belonging to Dulog made his hackles rise, ears straightening and quivering in rage.
“Wait Is that why you were angry, because you were jealous?” she demanded, eyes widening with sudden realization.
He scowled. “No! How ridiculous! We are not even the same species.”
The brunette examined her tanned wrist, lips pursed. “Mm. Too bad, I think I’d look pretty snazzy with your – what was it called? – yoban on.”
Yes, she would, he admitted. The idea filled him with an odd contentment. And her pronunciation was not at all awful, he noted absently. But, “That will never happen – yoban are forbidden.” At least since Mother had taken over – whispers said this had used to be common practice in past generations. “I am frankly shocked Dulog chanced Mother’s anger. Do you think that he…admired you?”
“Ew, no!” The man in her lap, though physically close, seemed to be holding himself aloof, his tone distant. “Well. I got what I wanted from it, so do you think you could take it off?”
Could he ever. Carefully removing the metal from her wrist, he drew forth magic into his hand, slowly rusting it to dust.
“Bit excessive, no?”
“No.” Satisfaction thrummed in his tone.
“Ok, so, if there was an anti-tracking thingy on it, how did you find me?”
That was a question he did not have an answer for. Instead, he shrugged with forced casualness. “I am looking for a fugitive.”
“Naked? I am jealous.”
His jaw clenched. “I was attacked by Dulog and had to – you know what, nevermind,” he capituled, seeing the little grin on her face. It was far preferable to tears. “His name is Ademar. Do you know anyone by that name?”
Melody, who had bent over in laughter, wiped at her eyes. “Nope. I don’t know anyone by that name.”
God(s) and Godess(essess).
If he had asked if she knew of anyone named Ademar it would have been far more difficult to dissemble. Lying was hard for her.
As it was, she happened to know him by the name of Fen.
Score for trusting her instincts and nicknaming abilities! Though, now that Fenri was here, Fen was too close. Little gross. It was bad enough her first crush and her current squeeze shared similar names. Her sister’s consort and her lover sharing a nickname was worse. So maybe, after this, it would be time to call him by his real name.
Or maybe it was needless. If Fenri was after her brother, her choice was made clear. Sisters before misters, and all that.
If Ademar making Giselle was true.
And Fenri capturing Ademar would prevent him getting to Giselle.
Then Giselle was going to be miserable – or worse.
So Melody would have to give up Fenri. And somehow tell Ademar to get out of here.
His face lit with curiosity. “What are you thinking?” So many expressions had run over her face in a short period of time.
“Oh, just remembering the first Shiva I ever met was called Fen. Is it a common name?”
He frowned. “No, not really.” Something about her body language made him uneasy, and he sat up to touch her face. Her small face nestled into his palm gave him an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction, and the lines between his brows deepened. “Are you truly not working a spell?”
“Naw, this is all raw connection, baby!” the witch returned in a sultry voice. Sobering, she shrugged. “Like I said before, I can’t work spells. My magic is all messed up. I used to be able to when I was much younger, but then it got all tangled up and run dry.” Long curls were drawn over her shoulder as she sat, cross legged across from him. “I can’t work enough magic to imbue a green thumb charm, now. I just have an affinity with the earth!” A soft expression crossed her face as she patted the ‘head’ of a vine that was rubbing itself on her knee like a cat.
“I see. And this affinity with the earth has you roaming about the forest, by yourself? How do you even eat?”
Melody looked up from her ministrations, her eyes oddly distant. “This is my happy place. I’m not alone; the forest provides everything I need.”
“Even in winter?”
A shrug lifted her slim shoulders. “Eh, in winter I usually work for my board and food. Stables are pretty warm, if you make friends with the animals.”
“How long have you been running off into the forest by yourself? Don’t you miss people?”
There was now two people in the world who did not ask that in a tone of dismay or disapproval. The Shiva sounded genuinely curious, so he was one of two people in the world who received a real answer. “My first memory was of crawling into a bush to escape people. I don’t hate people, but I am not really fussed with them. They make me feel tired; they always want something from me.”
Darker lashes raised, exposing his lilac eyes. A look of commiseration passed between them as he said, “I understand the presence of others exhausting oneself. Where are your parents?”
His eyes had never left her face, and he scented the air as she answered each time. Trying to catch her in a lie? Apparently growing board of the questioning, the young woman yawned. “Where are yours?”
“Home. Mother never leaves home.” Damnit, why had he said that?
Melody’s eyes lightly touched on the man’s eyes, hair, and ears…before being dragged down. “What’s it like?” she whispered wistfully.
“What’s what like?” Fenri asked, flushing under her scrutiny. He was still naked, softened breasts visible for her to see, and his stomach bulged out below them in a way that was impossible for him to ignore. If he leaned back, it slumped softly, now large enough to have folded over his hips. A fold incredibly sensitive, as her tongue had discovered earlier. Leaning forward made it rest on his thighs, but at least he could sit straight and suck in somewhat to offset it.
“Home.” Her tone was filled with an odd yearning for the word, despite her earlier assertions.
He blinked, tilting his head as he considered the question. Normally he would divert the conversation; it was frowned upon to give the humans any information about them. Despite himself, words began to trickle forth. “Mm…humans tend to use wood as their construction of choice, whereas Shiva tend to use stone. This makes it rather cool. Shiva’s eyes are designed for the dark, so it is much more dimly lit than the human world.”
Melody scooted closer, eyes wide with excitement. “Does light hurt your eyes? Sometimes I see Shiva’s pupils are all tight. Then they go big - like that!”
His pupils were open for another, far more pleasurable reason. Her pert breasts were still swaying, as tantalizing as… “Not generally. Though Shiva’s eyesight is far more powerful in the dark than a human.”
“And you are half human?”
Fenri found himself nodding, face darkening with blood as her little hand stole out to caress his left ear. “Yes. As you can see, my ears and fangs are shorter.”
Something that was perpetually pointed out by his siblings as a sign of his – hotter? “What?”
“Sexy. They are sexier than a full blood,” the witch clarified, now lightly touching the bands in his ear.
The half blood found himself on the verge of preening, so quickly snuffed the emotion. “Oh? Do tell.”
Her lightly calloused fingertips traced the edge of the lobe, eyes fastened on it. “Shiva ears are absolutely lovely, but they are so long and thin I feel like I would snap it off if I did this.” And she gave a firm tug before leaning forward to run her tongue along the lobe, pulling the bottom into her mouth and sucking firmly.
She might as well have injected his veins with pure magic. He jolted upright, mouth falling open.
He definitely liked that, Melody noticed with delight as a cute puh! sound escaping his lips. “And your fangs are like, I don’t know. I kind of want you to bite me a little bit. Not break skin, but like…so I can feel ’em, you know? Like, hold me down and have your way with me. Is that weird?”
Purple hair flew as he shook his head rapidly. Either in answer, or to clear his head. “And, as you can see, I am shorter and…heavier than my full-blooded brothers and sisters.”
She nodded enthusiastically, eyes lighting up once again. Then laughed as the ball of flab in his middle gave strenuous protest to its current empty state. They both shivered as her palm connected with the soft flesh of his middle. “Someone is hungry. Wait here while I go get us some food.”
“I’ll come too.” How could they fall in and out of arguments so fast? Why did being with her feel so incredibly right?
The witch leaned down to kiss his middle. “Stay. You have no clothes. The forest goes out of its way to make sure it doesn’t scratch or hurt me and keep bugs off. You’ll be scratched to pieces if you try and follow me; I’ll be back in a few minutes. You get the water.”
That pressure was back, and Fenri ground his teeth for a moment before admitting she was right. Perhaps she was not casting a spell, but there was definitely something going on. Perhaps a curse hung over her. Or a magical item? Regardless, it undermined his determination to follow her, even as a heightened sense of anxiety rose within him, causing his heart to race.
The woman was already standing, stepping lightly towards the cave entrance.
Fenri quickly rose, capturing the wrist which had previously held the yoban, “I will stay here; if you promise to come back before nightfall.”
“What, you don’t trust me?” A pink tongue stole out cheekily.
“No.” He felt it in his bones – that she was not planning to come back. His fangs made an appearance as grabbed her other wrist. “I don’t.” turning her hands, he placed them on his broad middle. So much for him leaving her behind. He would use every weapon at his disposal, he reflected grimly, heart still racing with sudden fear.
Those beautiful dark eyes half closed, her head falling back at the sensation.
“You claim that you have spent all these months searching for me. Well, I have not gone without searching for you myself.” Something had changed in their conversation, made her distant and quiet. If she left now, like this, she would not come back.
That was completely unacceptable. Determination flared hot, and his lips firmed.
Her lashes parted, peering at him with uncertainty. “Really?”
“Really.” He slid her hands lower, towards the thick mound of flesh around his navel.
She gave a groan in response, nipples budding before his eyes, the scent of arousal making his reasoning hazy.
“Promise me, Dee.” Whatever protest she may have been considering died, her expression going slack as he pressed her hands into his soft underbelly. Covering her hands with his own, he squeezed his flesh.
The woman’s breath quickened, pupils expanding. “Oh, god,” she groaned, swaying on her feet. “How do you know how to do that?”
Damned if he knew. He slid her hands lower, until his flesh spilled from her palms, which were trapped between his own hands and the heavy swell of his belly. “You have not exactly been subtle.”
“S-s-sorry,” she stuttered, beginning to shiver, expression blazing with lust. “Don’t do that just to make me happy. I like you for more than just your body.”
Fenri laughed aloud at the rote, numb words. “Keep telling yourself that, Dee. We barely know each other. The only thing that is for sure is that you do like my body. As I love yours.” He leaned down, finally giving into the urge to lightly sink his teeth into her shoulder.
It felt incredible, and he turned her away from him before repeating the gesture, tucking her into his body firmly. Her firm ass tucked just under the curve of his belly. He licked the imprints lightly as he held her weight up, from where she had sagged against him. This extra weight might not be such a bad thing, he reflected absently. No matter what position, they fit each other perfectly.
“Ok, ok, I promise!” the witch whispered, sounding dazed. "I was just going to get food - "
“Lies. If you don’t come back, I will hunt you down, no matter where you go.” It was supposed to be a threat, which made him feel oddly disquieted when she turned her head to look up at him with a wistful, lonely expression.
Urgh, I tried waiting until the next parts were done, but I broke down today. Now I can barely see straight. Maybe you were not happy with all of these sections, but they sure are hot when you picture them and imagine the touches and scent and taste ...
“Where are you going?” Fenri murmured from the pile of moss on the floor, his eyes opening languidly before snapping open fully.
“Going?” she laughed. “I just got back! You must have been dead tired. You were so sound asleep you didn’t even notice me come back in!”
“You came back.”
Melody bestowed a pouty and mildly offended expression upon him. “I promised, didn’t I?”
The hefty man pushed himself into a sitting position, rapidly waking. He eyeing her loaded arms. “Food?”
The witch grinned at the hopeful tone and plaintive squeal which sounded from his broad middle. “Yep! Your little tummy would have kept me up all night with it’s grumbling!” Depositing her find in front of him, she poked at the fire and added another few sticks.
Fenri eyed the fire and the plume of smoke, impressed that the young thing knew so much about survival. Although she projected the air of a silly chit at times, there was something incredibly competent in her manner of moving and the simple checks that she did, combined with a certain confidence that made him doubt she was just some country bumpkin.
“First of all, what am I, a squirrel? Next - are you trying to kill me?”
Turning to face her lover, Melody blinked. “Eh?”
The half Shiva was pointing at the broad leaf containing a mixture of fruits, vegetation, nuts and seeds. At the end of the strong digit was a small, tart apple. “Apples make us very ill.”
Her pretty mouth opened in a soundless ‘O’, and a sheepish expression crossed her features. “Oopsie. Don’t eat that, then!” She scooped it up and deposited it in her pocket after she pulled her clothes on.
“And what is this, a…seed?”
“What’s wrong with seeds?” she demanded indignantly. “I’ve never kept a Shiva as a pet before; what do you eat?”
“Real food. Meat.” The man opened his mouth, displaying his strong canines.
“Fine, find, I’ll go out and kill something for you!” she rolled her eyes, stood, and dusted her hands off on her thighs.
“You don’t have to – I don’t want to force you to kill something. As a plant witch, you must abhor violence and death.”
The curvy figure turned at the mouth of the cave. Tilting her head, she blinked several times. “Why would I be loathe to violence and death? Everything dies – it is part of life.”
For some reason, the fat man shivered. Where had that oddly blank look and dead tone come from?
Trip A had been a failure. She needed to find Fen. Er, Ademar, rather. And tell him about Fenri. This wasn’t needlessly confusing at all. Now, trip B was proving more successful. The armour had exited whatever water he had been near, and her little green informants gently pointed the way.
However – something was amiss. A sharp jolt of magic had occurred just a moment ago, in the opposite direction of her little home. It had not felt like Fenri, though vaguely familiar and she hastened her stride. As she plunged deeper into the deer trail, a prickling sensation stole up her spine, and her pupils suddenly narrowed. Not safe! A quick slice of her hand, and a mile away, vines began lovingly entombing the metal form above them, carefully pulling him into a horizontal position.
Melody hated choices. No, that was not fair. She loved having choices, she just hated making them, and she was at a literal junction of decisions. A few miles her right, her lover sat in that cave. In front, Ademar. To her left, the encroaching threat. That same energy she had felt at the lake drew closer, and she half jumped, half fell down the intervening drop between her friend.
She had been calling for him mentally for some time, and although he seemed vaguely aware, he had not seemed to hear him. Not being a metaphysical creature, speaking in her head was not really her strong suit, but physical contact should assist with that. She hoped.
She used a small sapling to support herself, grunting as it gave way and plunged her hand into a prickly plant. Ademar, I need you to listen to me very carefully. A half Shiva named Fenri is after you. I need you to stay hidden until he leaves. And if we get separated, head for Giselle’s place. Taking care of her is the first priority for you. And something else is coming too. Stay hidden!
And you. Her voice softened, an odd mixture of proud father and a doting animal owner. Take care of him; do not let him escape until the coast is clear. Turning her attention back to the pile of vines, she frowned. Do not move and be silent!
Around her arm, plants began to grow, twining tighter and sprouting wickedly sharp spines. She stood, hissing as the plants reluctantly released her.
“And here I thought that forest wenches would be more coordinated in their home environment. So clumsy.”
The drawling, familiar tone made her glance over her shoulder. “Hey – Dulog, wasn’t it? Nice cut you have there. Play too rough with a kitty cat?” A quick glance back to the ground in front of her revealed that the vines had already done their work, blanketing not only him but the surrounding area for a quarter mile in dense foliage.
The full blood stepped closer, gracefully navigating the ground in a way she could only dream of. “I see you removed the bracelet.” He tsked. “You still owe me that favour, even if you took it off.”
She nodded amiably, scouting the area with her senses. It wouldn’t do to be blindsided by her own territory; the question was, where to lose him? She couldn’t go back to the cave. In fact – she frowned in concentration, then smiled. Perfect. “That’s fine. I’m whimsical enough that my style changes moment to moment, and your bracelet was so last week.”
One long ear twitched, and he stooped over to lift her up by one arm. Holding her away from his body as if she was a detestable piece of trash, he waded free of the foliage and back to the path. Grinning, he raised her so that her face was at eye level.
The pain in her arm was substantial, so she grinned back at him. “What’s up, buttercup?”
“I know you are hiding something,” Dulog whispered, eyes hard in his lean face. His face had a splash of blood down one cheek, and his hair was in disarray. “Where is Ademar? And where is Fenri? I know those plants were yours the other day.”
Melody peered behind him, where four other Shiva stood in various states of injury. “Hio!” she waved with her free hand. They bestowed a look of disdain on her, but that was normal. What was odd was that they were stupid enough to wade this deep into her territory, threatening her. Already she was having to placate the vines holding Ademar, sternly admonishing them to keep to their task. “Sorry, what was that? I wasn’t paying attention.”
Dulog bared his teeth, much longer and sharper than Fenri’s strong canines. “Do not play games with me, I am in a hurry.”
“You must be pretty young for a Shiva, then. Why would you be in a hurry when you live so long? She wrinkled her nose at him, grin still in place. “Did widdle Duwog woose somefing im-port-tant-te?”
He snarled at her and yanked her so his fangs were inches from his face, and opened his mouth to speak.
She was hanging by one arm, feet off the ground by several feet. She could not realistically fight against so many Shiva, not without making a big enough stink that Fenri would come running, and she was worried those vines might loose their head in battle and expose Ademar. What could she realistically do to resist? So, as his scent tickled her nose, she sneezed, making no effort to turn her head.
His eyes widened as the particles landed in his mouth. And he roared so long and loud that the birds above them took flight in a series of peeping protests.
His companions began to look about, uneasiness clear in their darting eyes and shifting feet.
Melody was familiar with the shiva grin, where their mobile lips pulled back and exposed not only their front teeth, but a goodly portion of their side teeth. What she had been unaware of was just how mobile their lips were, and how sharp their non canine teeth where. Like the first time she had seen a dog pant from overexertion, Dulog’s lips pulled back nearly to his jaw, opening to reveal sharp teeth, even if more blunt than his fangs. Her heart raced at the sudden noise, but her only outward reaction was to raise her left hand and ostentatiously wipe his saliva from her face. “Ew. So not sexy, Dulog.”
The shiva shook the human woman in his grasp hard enough that her teeth rattled, and cuffed her. “Tell me where they are, or you die. I’m cashing in that favour, little one.”
The young woman, whose amiable and naughty expression had lead him to believe her a non-threat, suddenly stilled. Her dancing brown eyes suddenly hardened, deadened, and fixed him in a stare of mild contempt. “Sure thing, Dulog. If that’s what you truly want. But I would highly recommend saving that favour, so when I have my knife at your throat, you can beg for your own life.”
The male barely had time to register her meaning before a branch walloped him so hard that he flew backwards into his companions, and dropping her to land on her feet.
“Idiot.” The witch rolled her arm, feeling the burn of being held like that. “You think that you can come into my home and threaten me?”
All around the group, plants began to thrash, throbbing as they exploded in size and number. Dulog pressed a hand to his side, standing. His dark eyes darkened as if only suddenly noting the forest around them.
Standing, she rolled her head on her neck and popped her jaw, eyes closed. When they finally opened, a verdant green light shone from the backs of her pupils, and her laughing expression was so absent that he wondered if it had ever been there. “It’s a good thing I’m not that strong, or you’d be dead meat.” Her voice purred from between her lips, and the edge of her pink tongue stole out to wet the corner of her mouth.
Leaning down, she withdrew a small knife from her boot, absently sharpening it on the small whetstone she withdrew from her other pocket. As she stepped forward, saplings and vines encased the males, holding their arms away from their body. The witch giggled as she stepped on a root, which obligingly grew until she was face level with Dulog. Leaning forward, she ran the flat of the blade along his face, following the curve of his jaw to his neck. “Sorry – you were saying you wanted to cash in that favour – could you repeat yourself?”
Ademar would have been gnashing his teeth, if he had any. That bastard was only feet from him, manhandling his…sister. Deny it as he might, the truth remained. Worse, there was nothing he could do about it.
Those damn plants the witch commanded had wound about him so tightly and so thoroughly that he might as well have been entombed. It was no consolation to feel the plants strain and quiver, a dog at their leash pending release.
His only recourse was to allow his spirit to move free. Shedding his corporeal attachment, he darted upwards into the canopy to observe. A vine whipped forward to catch him, but passed through without contact. Focusing downwards, he could only watch helplessly as the male he recognized as Dulog snarled at her. He has stopped bothering to remember the names of all of the males and females over the centuries, but he had been exposed to this annoying one far more often in his servitude to Fenri.
He was forced to admit a certain pride in the spunky human, as he gleefully watched her sneeze on the male. She was plucky, if nothing else. Trying to console Giselle if her friend died would be next to impossible, so when she mastered the bunch, he relaxed.
His relief, however, was short lived. Fenri was nearby, and Dulog was looking for him as well. How much could a small human girl take? How long could she fend them off? Her plucky little plant magic was handy, but it was nothing compared to the brute force of the Shiva.
When Duloug’s pupils expanded and he crooked a graceful finger, the squan acted automatically, ignoring the creepy voices which were beginning to mutter around him. Swooping down, he shoved the back of her knees, and she crumpled backwards with a yelp. Her eyes widened as she fell, the wave of raw power missing her nose by mere inches.
“Ow ow ow,” Melody groused, rubbing her backside. “Now now, no need to get so riled up!”
Dulog scented the air, suspiciously eyeing the surrounding forest. “Did you feel that?” he demanded of one of his siblings. When he received a terse nod, he gave a deep growl. “He is nearby.”
“Pay attention, loser!”
Dulog’s snarled once more, but this time in pain. Plucking the small dagger from his shoulder, he glowered at her. “If Mother did not have a purpose for you, you would be obliterated!”
Nothing to do with that female would be any good, and Ademar was about to act when the oddest voices made him freeze.
She said to hold him still, a voice fretted. Do not let him escape, the next voice responded firmly. Yes. The agreement was firm. Until they are gone, yet another voice added as a caveat.
The cacophony of whispered words, in the same voice yet distinct toners, was overwhelming, and Ademar felt them begin to close in around him. Claustrophobia, a sensation he had never experienced in life, nearly crippled him.
He struggles in vain.
We cannot hold him?
We must hold him.
He is wind.
How to hold wind?
This, he knew instinctively, was the forest talking, as it whipped about in a frenzy. The voices were gaining strength and clarity, every one different from the last.
Only until they are gone.
How to make them gone?
To leave or to die.
Death is easy.
Kill the others?
No, you ask her.
Who are you? He demanded quietly, even as realization occurred. This familiar power was much darker than he had envisioned for his carefree sister. The voices died down for a moment, then giggling surrounded him, as soft as a persistent wind ruffling leaves.
She said no.
She said no?
We are to be good.
We are good?
We ae good - for her.
She said no? But all she would have to do was release this childlike, malevolent force, and this problem would be at an end. Why would she say no? Focusing on the figures before him, Ademar struggled to move as the power held him tightly.
Oblivious to the voices, Dulog had yanked her upright by an ankle.
Melody chuckled. “All right, all right! You caught me! Go on then, take me away. Let’s get this social visit over with. I mean, I’ve always been interested to meet her.”
Her sudden capitulation, as if she was the one in power, set Dulog’s teeth on edge. He popped his jaw before replying. “Once I find the others.”
Her hair hung over her face, arms brushing the ground. “Mmm…I’d really, really recommend that you start marching back to whatever portal you came from. See, the forest doesn’t really like when I get smacked around all that much, and I’ve been using all my power to hold them off. I don’t like blood spatter all over my clean clothes, you see.”
He sneered. “Go on, show us what you can do.”
“Alright – if you insist.”
That hard, dead aspect was back on her face, Ademar noted. The squan shivered as that power slithered over him, voices rising in a tide of excited murmuring.
She said we can have one!
Not that one, that one!
Green exploded upwards, spraying dirt and dead leaves into the air. A large green plant such as Ademar had never seen snatched one of the males and pulled it inside of him. The maw of the plant was reminiscent of two hands closing, the fingers interlocking. After the initial shouts of panic, the captured male began to keen and wail, his form barely visible between the tines of the plant. Whatever was happening, he was clearly in a lot of pain.
Dulog, previously frozen, cursed and whirled to face his companions, the witch still in hand. “Retreat. We know where these two are. We can come back once we get her to Mother.”
The remaining four men left their screaming brethren, hastening down the path with loping strides.
“What?” he snapped, eyes darting.
“Do you know what the difference between retreating and fleeing?”
“What?” he snapped, focused on the path in front of him.
“A retreat is a planned action where you keep your defenses up. Fleeing involves you turning your back and running.”
“So?” The male leapt over a fallen log, expression strained.
“So, retreating is a great way to lose soldiers. Never, ever turn your back on me, Dulog.” The witch, still dangling limply, tilted her head. A verdant green pulsed once more in the darkest part of her eyes.
Fenri suddenly stood, uneasiness pouring through his body. He had not made her promise to return, this time. That odd look on her face had unsettled him so much that he had forgotten such a simple thing.
Deep in his bones, he knew what that meant, especially because that pressure to stay was rising. Rolling his shoulders, he ignored the growing roll of chub that was spilling from his chest to his back. He had scratched his itch, surely.
He had experienced a touch of carnal pleasure, freely given. Of course, it had been addictive. And he had sought her out and conquered. If conquering was laying on his back in the firelight, watching her writhe in pleasure.
The half shiva paced restlessly across the small cave. Each step caused his empty stomach to wobble solidly, reminding him of his hunger. If she wanted to him to stay away, he would. A sudden blast of power had him whipping his head towards the source, despite being too far away to see. That was not Dee’s power, he was sure of it.
He was just about to shake off that pressure demanding he stay when it amplified tenfold, felling him to his knees as surely as a punch to the gut. Said gut jiggled with the impact, making him scowl ferociously. Jerking his head up, towards the exit, he saw layer upon layer of green weaving, closing off his escape.
“What is going on?” he demanded, running up to the opening and ripping at the vines with his hands. Although individually weak, together the greenery created a strong mesh. Every strand he ripped free was replaced by two more. “Damn witch,” he growled. No matter the reason, she was trying to slow him, to prevent him from reaching her.
Scouting around the cave, he snatched up a sharp rock and began hacking. “Let me out, plants,” he warned, disregarding the possibility that they would retaliate.
It might have been minutes, it might have been hours, but suddenly, the plants loosened, falling away and creating an exit just small enough for him to wriggle through. “Finally!” As he carefully slipped his head and arms through, the halfling struggled to ignore the possibility the plants could easily shear him in half. That worry, however, dimmed as a more pressing matter presented itself. His broad chest slipped through with only minor twisting, but his now expansive waist was another story.
The upper part of his gut eked through with some grunting and twisting, but the more of his torso he fit through, the more abundant the high-pressure roll of fat around his waist became. He had been aware, of course, of his growing corpulence. He had not really registered, however, that it was not just his gut that was expanding. The thick roll extended over his hipbones, and even onto some of his back.
Panting, he wound down his struggles and took a moment to breathe deeply. Slowly, carefully, he began to knead the doughy flesh upwards, fingerful by fingerful. When he started, the flesh beneath his fingers, though fat, was taught. The more he teased free, the softer and more pliable it became, shocking him with the depth and breadth of his own indulgences. He had done this to himself, he realized ruefully as he began to edge closer and closer to the thick fat around his navel…the widest part.
Good thing that witch was not hear to see this humiliation. She would surely have taken ever opportunity to fondle, pat, and jiggle every inch that came free. The inadvertent but highly stimulating fondling of his own corpulence already had him semi-hard. At the thought of her little hands and hot mouth on him, teasing him about his weight, he shot harder.
When he was finally free of this, he was going to eat more sensibly. When had his skin grown so sensitive? Every pluck caused a sensual reverberation through his flesh, the warmth of his hands contrasting with the coolness of the rest of his skin. Halfway through he once again stopped, panting, but this time for a different reason. There was absolutely no reason why he should find the feeling of his upper belly rolling heavily over the smaller opening so stimulating. His lower gut, which he always struggled to control even at his thinnest, had bloated with his recent indulgences. Even empty, it was so thick and dense that it pressed upwards against his bond; he could feel the texture of the vines against the plump skin.
When he was finally free of this, he was going to go home. His pupils expanded and contracted wildly as the rest of his gut oozed through the opening. Half horizontal, face down as he was, his gut was dragged by gravity to hang heavily below him. His eyes fluttered shut at the exquisite feeling of his skin tugging.
Step 1: Find Ademar
Step 2: Placate Mother and earn his freedom once more
Step 3: Find that wench and make her explain what was going on with him
Step 4: Scratch this final itch, getting over this nagging fantasy of having her feed him until he was too stuffed to stand upright.
Then he’d get back into shape.
His stomach gave a betraying snarl that ended in a whimper, and his traitorous mouth began salivating.