by R.L.Davis Hays
Chapter 1 continues:
The Drunken Faery Tavern was nearly empty; the few lamps that burned gave a secretive light to the place. The stale smell of ale filled Lylith’s mind with images of dark deeds and careless laughter. It was the kind of tavern she imagined would appear in the tales she read; the sort of stories that always initiated some unknown youth into the dark paths of crime, only to have him save his ladylove at the end.
Alone, she would have never stepped foot into this little pub, yet with Lord Dharromar Weiss on her arm, she felt untouchable. Her new acquaintance bore an intensity that made most harm-doers back down without a second thought. The worn, leather scabbard and intricately carved hilt of his blade, resting with ease on his hip, made those that did give them a second thought turn away as well.
They sat at a small, scarred table near the door. Her companion kept his dark green hood drawn low over his stern face until a loud rumble from her belly caused him to smile.
“That hungry, m’lady?” he chuckled as they settled and signaled the barmaid. “We should have stopped sooner.”
Lylith smiled. “Pardon me. I suppose I am hungrier than I knew. My mind was rather occupied with other things before.”
They exchanged the secret smile of new lovers. Blushing, Lylith changed the subject when the waitress appeared beside them with two mugs and a plate of roast venison, the aroma prompting another internal growl. She asked Lord Weiss, “Will we reach the port soon?”
“There is a town a few leagues ahead where we can bed down for the night. Then, if we get an early start tomorrow, we should reach the port town of Nothshore by evening,” he answered after the food was on the table. The dark-skinned waitress withdrew sourly, appearing put out by the arrival of these latecomers.
Unable to resist the succulence, the young sengheir was quick to eat, but Lord Dharromar was silent for a long time, spurring Lylith to look up from her meal. He was watching her intently.
“Are you absolutely set on this course, m’lady?” he asked.
“Yes, I should think. I want to see this island. At least try. I’m not able to explain it other than to say that I feel compelled to go there.”
The gentleman nodded in understanding. “Then, we go.”
“Do not feel that you must accompany me, Dharromar –” Lylith began. He raised one pale hand to ward off her dismissal. She glanced at the candlelight reflecting on his gray, claw-like fingernails. It was captivating; they were one of his weird qualities that fascinated her, making her crave to know more about him.
“I have learned that it’s better not to argue with a magda on a course of action when they say that they are ‘compelled.’ Besides m’lady, the night we met I did promise my sword for your protection and myself as your guide. I never go back on my word. Without our word of honor, what are we but the Beasts of Chaos?” He shook his head and added, “No. I will accompany you to the ends of this world if I must. As long as you have need of me.”
She smiled gratefully. “I am glad. I have enjoyed your company these past few days. You have proved to be a most helpful guide. And, I cannot deny that you are most helpful in other ways, too.” She giggled as the memory of their first, passionate encounter flowed back into the forefront of her mind…
She had traveled into the unfamiliar lands outside her home for less than a day when she sought refuge in a small, two-story inn that boasted the name of The Regal Lion, though its crippled and weathered boards hinted that it held the name from ages long past.
Rains swept over the landscape and night was quickly following. She knew she would be staying here until the morning. That was if the stained, thickset crowd inhabiting the tavern did not chase her back out into the downpour. The heavy, wooden door creaked shut behind her, causing all heads to swing towards the newcomer. She could feel their eyes crawling over her greedily.
With a mixture of natural interest and inexperience, she surveyed the room, meeting each pair of eyes one by one. Some fell away at her glance and returned to their mugs of ale; some leaned closer with perverse glee. Her skin felt sullied by these stares. Her heart began to tremble as she marveled at her audacity to attempt this trip alone and on foot.
Then her eyes fell on another individual, one that seemed wholly unique in this place. Dark blue eyes gleamed from the far side of the room, mimicking the color of tumultuous clouds etched by flaring moonlight. His lean frame lounged against a carved doorway which opened onto a staircase. His stare did not frighten her. It seared her, intrigued her. His lips held her gaze with a sly, inviting grin and trapped his thoughts inside. Modest, yet elegantly detailed clothes draped over his muscles, defining his shape rather than hiding it. The firelight caressed his pale skin and glinted across the smooth fall of hair that was as black as the deepest shadows in a nightmare.
The buzz of conversation resumed around the stuffy tavern, the other patrons fading back into their own business. She stood mute, pondering her next step. The fire popped and jumped in a short, stone hearth to her left. Tables, crowded with travel-worn patrons, filled the room before her and a line of hunched backs covered the bar that stood opposite the fireplace.
Neither hungry nor tired, she was simply seeking a safe haven. The tavern staff seemed busy with the room’s demands and she did not know the name of a single soul in this town. She felt very lost.
Her glance was drawn back to the man by the stairs. He had not moved. She felt a tingle run through her as she met his intense, knowing eyes again. He was merely leaning on the wall, his arms crossed over his broad chest comfortably, one booted foot cocked against the baseboard. But, his smile threatened to strip her dress from her skin, exposing and fulfilling all her wanton desires.
Her heart lurched; brushed by his fire. It seized a curiosity within that had consumed her for many years; the neglected lust for uninhibited adventure that propelled her dreams through restless nights. This man’s expression stoked that buried inferno, giving promise of its release.
He had nodded a friendly greeting. The shape of his face was most pleasing, framed by the ebony hair. There was something audacious about him. A dark radiance sparked deep within those sultry eyes, rimmed in their black lashes.
Perhaps lured by his savage beauty or because of the impudent confidence in his stance; either way, she had decided that making his acquaintance would surely prove most exciting.
Not knowing what was socially proper, and not really caring about convention, Lylith had walked straight up to him and asked why he smiled at her.
He did not react as one shocked by her behavior nor did he make any polite excuses. He had simply smiled broader, which revealed slight fangs, and stared deep into her large, violet eyes.
“I was imagining what you would look like on my bed, m’lady,” his resonant voice had purred.
“And where is your bed, sirra?” she had asked, aroused by his blatant comment.
One black eyebrow arched as he replied that it was upstairs, third door on the right.
She had nodded and given a mischievous grin. “All right, m’lord.”
With that, she walked straight up to his room. Her sense of adventure engaged, she was not one to play senseless games.
He had followed behind her after a brief moment of surprise and confusion, but the “introduction” that followed was, to her, quite remarkable.
After the brief reverie, Lylith found that she had been staring at Dharromar for quite some time. They were both silent. His smile was inquisitive and kind.
“Were you having pleasant thoughts, m’lady? You didn’t seem to be listening to me, so I stopped talking.”
“Oh, I am sorry.” Lylith laughed at herself. “I was just remembering how we met.”
They both grinned and, surprisingly, she saw him blush as he looked down at his plate.
“I will concede, m’lady, that is a most pleasing thought, but we do have the problem ahead of us of how to pay for the voyage. You, as you have said, have no funds to pull from and I cannot access mine this far west.”
Lylith shrugged. “I could use majiks to get us whatsoever money we need.”
Lord Dharromar shook his head and glanced around the bar. “No, no. Besides the fact that actions of that kind are illegal, we don’t want to wreak havoc upon the economic balance of a small port town. I can get the money needed. But, it will take a little time.”
“How long? Will we miss the ship?” Lylith’s voice had a strange distressed tone to it.
He glanced at her, concerned; then he shook his head. “I think not. The clouds gathering this evening foretell foul weather tomorrow. Possibly rain for a few days. I don’t think the ship will leave port in a storm. We have time.”
A playful thought came to her. She reached out to draw tiny circles on the back of his hand resting on the table. “Then we do not really need to get up early in the morning, do we?”
His warm fingers captured her slender hand and he brought it to his lips. The hot breath trickled down the flesh of her arm with intimate promises.
“I am your most humble servant, m’love,” he whispered.
Translations from Jorthus series available from Amazon.com. Visit the author page for more information on the books, or join the conversation on The Worlds of Jorthus page on Facebook. http://rldavishays.webs.com/apps/blog/