Something Wicked This Way Comes

Friday, August 1, 2014

FREE FICTION FRIDAYS #1 - THE FOREST LORD


Welcome to the first installment of FREE FICTION FRIDAYS here at "A Little Something... Wicked"! Hopefully you'll enjoy this piece, which was inspired by the creator of our new writers' group, Andrew Q. Gordon. He's a fantasy buff much like I am, and when he invited me to be a part of this new venture, I couldn't think of any better way to start than with a new fantasy M/M adventure.

Enough talk. On to... The Forest Lord

****


The streets of Chasz’Chalolvir sparkled wetly in the early hours. The magic that kept time for the underground city and its inhabitants washed the roof of the caverns with iridescent color. The swirling patterns of blue, green, pink, and violet traveled a path identical to the triune suns above ground, fading away at nightfall to be consistently renewed the following dawn. As T’Riss led Nath, his mechanical mount, along the road still wet from the sanitation engineers’ daily scrubbing, the tangy, bittersweet aroma of the rangpur soap they used stung the insides of his nose. He supposed he should be thankful that at least some things never changed. A slight sound drew his attention.

“If you continue to struggle, I’ll truss you so tight you won’t feel your own ass cheeks twitch.”

The bounty currently thrown across his saddle who had been flopping like a lake trout out of water abruptly ceased at T’Riss’s comment. The fool hadn’t been much of a problem until they got to the gates of Chasz’Chalolvir. Now he was behaving more like an imp from out of the nine hells than one renegade war mage from the Warriors’ Guild.

Part of T’Riss understood how the poor bastard felt. He despised returning to the city of his birth and ruination, even when it was absolutely necessary as it was today. For as much as the drow prided themselves on change and keeping up with the latest technology of the surface world, the city of Chasz’Chalolvir was ever a place of pain and degradation for T’Riss. He wished only to deposit his bounty at the Justice Hall, collect his fee, and return to his home in the distant Div’eari Forest.

He missed Zak and knew his heartmate would be worried about him; he’d been gone nearly two moon cycles on this bounty. Once T’Riss got within two days of Chasz’Chalolvir they dared not risk communicating by magic. Too many of House Rilyn-Tlar could intercept such messages, which they would undoubtedly twist before passing on. Better to go without communicating than risk sending tainted messages to each other.

T’Riss fought to retain his stoicism and turned right at the apothecary. In the distance he could see the splendor and majesty of the Azure Palace, the temple to the drow moon goddess, Lune. T’Riss didn’t consider himself to be overly religious, but every time he caught his first glimpse of that magnificent structure upon his return to this city, peace and calm flooded his body. He sighed, shook his head, and urged the mechanical stallion forward.

The Justice Hall stood among the other buildings dedicated to governing Chasz’Chalolvir, all of which were easily distinguishable due to their glassy black obsidian finish. T’Riss left Nath by the shining black steeds the deputies rode but did not power him down; on more than one occasion he had needed to leave the Hall at a flat gallop. He lifted his bounty from the saddle and tossed the wanted male over his shoulder. The mage, who was bound and gagged in suppressive restraints, whipped from side to side, tightening his bindings.

“Stop it,” T’Riss chided. “You’re only making it worse.”

T’Riss carried his bounty up the stairs and through the doors. He bypassed the front desks with a simple nod at the two armed guards, who took one look at him, his weapons, and the brands on his face, and never moved from their post. T’Riss would’ve laughed, but there was nothing funny about the situation. The Chasz’Chalolvir deputies despised hunters. They wouldn’t have pissed in his mouth if his tongue was on fire.

The lifts were ahead, all six of them ready to carry visitors up or down to any level of the Justice Hall. T’Riss eschewed them, turning to his left and heading for the stairs. If asked, he’d say he didn’t want to risk having to fight anyone in such a small, confined space, and that lifts were too dangerous, with too many inherent possibilities for problems in hauling bounties. He preferred the good, old-fashioned stairs where he had a clear view of the space around him and plenty of room to throw down if he had to fight or grapple.

Not that he intended to do anything but turn this joker over to the Chasz’Chalolvir Sheriff and collect his final fee. T’Riss trudged up the stairs, the male slowly getting heavier the more stairs he climbed. T’Riss bit back the sigh that was a breath away from passing from his lips. A hundred years earlier he could’ve carried two males the length of these stairs without noticing their weight. Perhaps Zak was right; perhaps he needed to let other hunters take the more dangerous warrants.

Finally he reached the fifth floor and strode down the hall, his grip on the male easy. His bounty was no longer doing the floppy fish. T’Riss knew what that meant and thumbed his katana free so that he could draw his sword without issue. Twenty yards from the warrant desk, the male made his move.

As far as escape attempts went, it was one of the weaker ones T’Riss had witnessed over the years. The male used his bound hands to gain purchase on T’Riss’s sword belt and jackknifed forward, over T’Riss’s shoulder. Had he used magic at that point, T’Riss might have actually had to chase him, but he didn’t. He attempted to free his feet and found himself staring down the long sharp edge of T’Riss’s blade.

“You would be wise, mage, to play dead before I render you that way permanently.”

The male stared at T’Riss for several long seconds before lying down on the glossy ebon floor and closing his eyes. T’Riss’s dagger was a blur, leaving a thin, three-inch slash on the male’s hand before anybody in the hallway even realized the hunter had drawn a second blade. T’Riss sheathed the dagger as the male gurgled and convulsed, foam flecking his lips and the floor around him. T’Riss heard shouting and ignored it, bending to check the male’s suppressive restraints as his feet pattered softly against the floor.

“He is worthless dead, Unmentionable.”

T’Riss straightened and turned to look at the Sheriff. “You know me better than that.”

“He is not, as he looks, poisoned?”

“Merely drugged. It will wear off.”

“Twelve years this one evaded capture.”

“Then you should’ve contacted me eleven years and twelve moon cycles ago.”

The Sheriff stood for a moment staring at T’Riss and then quite suddenly laughed.  “Bring him to the warrant desk and collect your fee. I have something for you.”

T’Riss nodded. The Sheriff always had something for him.

* * * *

In the one hundred thirty-seven years since Alybreena, Matron Mother of Chasz’Chalolvir, named him Unmentionable, T’Riss couldn’t remember feeling as furious as he did leaving the Justice Hall. Only a lifetime of practice at masking his emotions kept them locked down, and despite that, he knew by the way the halls cleared as he stormed through them that he wasn’t entirely successful.

He passed the magical records’ room fast enough that his waist-length white hair whipped behind him. Yet he still managed to hear a scandalized female voice. “…the Unmentionable from House Riz-LiNeer. For Lune’s sake, don’t look at him!”

T’Riss almost smirked. Good to know he was still notorious. After today his notoriety would no doubt become legend.

The front doors blew open, thrown by the force of his anger, and he walked out into what passed for daylight in Chasz’Chalolvir. The roof of the underground cavern was a riot of pink and violet streaked with green. T’Riss looked up, snorted in disgust, and went over to Nath. He freed the reigns with a quick jerk and mounted up with one easy hop. He quickly scanned his surroundings to be sure he was in no immediate jeopardy, and then closed his eyes and concentrated on his heartmate bond with Zakn’yl. The spell he had not sensed blocking their bond quivered, then shattered. Sure enough, Zak wasn’t at their home in the Div’eari Forest.

Zakn’yl Arken-A’te, war mage and his heartmate, was in the Azure Palace here in Chasz’Chalolvir.

T’Riss bit back a roar of rage. With expert precision he whirled the mechanical mount in a nearly full turn and rode for the palace gates.

* * * *

The entrance leading to the Azure Palace was enormous. Three great archways carved from blue quartz gilded with silver and set with moonstones looked out over the Great Plaza. The largest center archway was considered the general entrance and was for the penitent masses. A smaller archway with significantly more gilding stood to the right for the priestesses of Lune, including the Matron Mother. T’Riss, as an Unmentionable, wasn’t permitted to step through either of these archways. He was relegated to the smallest entrance, the one on the far left which everyone else utilized, including any surface dwellers or trespassers brought before the Matron Mother.

Plain compared to the other two, the third archway had simple silver wings on either side of the arch and a single, perfectly round moonstone set at the very top of the arch. Only when one stood directly below the moonstone was the jagged crack in it visible. Resembling a lightning strike or a tree branch, the cleft in the stone ran diagonally from top to bottom and bisected the entire gem: a perfect imperfection. As T’Riss stormed through the archway, the moonstone and the crevice in it glowed for a split second before again going dark.

The Azure Palace was full of drow, male and female, young and old, noble and common. T’Riss ignored them. He clutched the summons the Sheriff gave him in his right hand, his eyes fixed straight ahead. More than one individual gasped and turned away or fled from him; from the instant he entered the temple a steady flow of whispers reached his ears, like the buzz of an angry hornets’ nest. T’Riss ignored that, too. His matebond with Zakn’yl was a steady, pounding hum in his veins, a constant tingle that spread across his skin and made him feel tight and itchy.

He bypassed the ritual rooms, the religious instruction areas, and crossed over from the section of the building that housed the temple into the true Azure Palace: the home of the Matron Mother, Alybreena Yas’kah Mel-virr. Royal guardswomen immediately attempted to halt his forward progress, but T’Riss thrust the summons paper at them and continued on. Likewise, when the Azure Veil, the quartet of Mistress-Priestesses assigned to guard and protect the Matron Mother, moved menacingly into his path, T’Riss flung the summons at them. He snatched it back as he plowed past them on his way through the double doors they guarded. He was getting closer and closer to Zak, and he sensed his mate’s distress. Once again absolute fury boiled through T’Riss and he remembered his vow, recalling with distinct clarity the words he spoke regarding these very circumstances.

At last T’Riss stood before the Matron Mother’s private chambers. Without a word, the Mistress-Priestess in attendance opened the door for him and T’Riss strode through. Instead of finding Zak inside as he expected, all he discovered was Alybreena. The Matron Mother of Chasz’Chalolvir lounged on her receiving throne attended by Jhulryna Rilyn-Tlar, a Priestess of Lune and specialist in herbal lore. T’Riss struggled not to draw steel. Had he his way, he would’ve destroyed House Rilyn-Tlar, killed every miserable member of the House, razed it to the ground, and then salted the scorched earth where it once stood.

“Greetings, Unmentionable.” Alybreena’s voice was a sick, low purr that vibrated against his eardrums and made him nauseous. “I see you could not resist my summons.”

“Where is Zakn’yl Arken-A’te?” The temperature in the room dropped with the chill in his voice, and T’Riss reminded himself to maintain control.

“Unharmed,” the Matron Mother replied, an infuriating smile on her face. “Safe, I assure you, and untouched.”

“Why should I accept your word?”

“Do what you will.” Alybreena motioned to the female at the doors, and with a flick of her fingers trays of food and beverages appeared as the doors closed and magically bolted. “Only this time know that I am sincere in my offer to you.”

“What offer?” T’Riss barely contained his rage. “You’ve made no offer. You kidnapped my mate!”

Alybreena’s shrug was eloquent. Jhulryna fetched a cup of strong Stygian tea from the engraved silver serving tray and brought it to the queen. She sipped it and smiled at the female. “Thank you, Jhul.” She returned her attention to T’Riss. “As I was saying…”

“Produce Zakn’yl now.”

“Listen carefully, Unmentionable,” Alybreena said. “I shan’t repeat myself.”

Something in the drow queen’s tone brought T’Riss up short. He bit back his retort and listened.

“As you make your home in the Div’eari Forest, you are familiar with the neighboring Adintana Forest. For six centuries that swath of land has been neutral ground, a place where human, elf, and drow could travel between all lands and go unmolested. In the last three moons, thirteen souls have been claimed within its borders.”

“By whom?” T’Riss’s sharply arched white brows arrowed inward.

That is the problem.” Alybreena set her tea cup down. “Nobody knows. The humans and elves held a council to which we were not invited and determined that the drow were responsible, that we broke a treaty held inviolate for over half a millennia. Even now they prepare for war.”

“What do I care? You have named me Unmentionable to my own kind. I have no home. I have been denied everything due a male of our race.”

Alybreena’s red eyes flared with the power and strength of her magic and then locked with T’Riss’s pale lavender eyes, still so angry that they too glowed. “And what would you do to change all of that?”

T’Riss froze, his body going tight as a drawn bowstring. “What are you offering?”

“Hunt whatever is taking lives in Adintana Forest.” Alybreena purred her commands in her soft, sultry voice. “Prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not a dark elf. Bring the true killer to justice, and do so before the humans and elves make war upon us. Accomplish these things, and I will reinstate your Name.”

A long moment of silence followed, and then T’Riss started to laugh. He laughed long and hard, the guffaws rolling out of him in a continuous steady stream of mirth that brought tears to his eyes. His reaction was obviously not what the Matron Mother anticipated. She looked less than the pleased.

T’Riss finally got control of his laughter and wiped his eyes. He shook his head and looked at the Matron Mother. “Even if I believed that you would do such a thing, which I do not, you would never have needed to kidnap Zakn’yl for a simple hunt.”

Alybreena stood. For a female she was quite tall, nearly six feet, her hair an ancient, antique white curtain held back from her face by a solid platinum diadem set with black diamonds. She eyed T’Riss coolly.

“You are correct. We have already sent two hunters. Both have failed.”

“Who did you send?”

“That is of no import.”

“If you wish me to consider a bounty that others have failed to bring in, it is of great import. Who did you send?”

“Quar’aufein Ken-lyl.”

T’Riss shrugged. “I was not aware his apprenticeship was complete.”

“It would have been, had he returned.”

“So you sent a child.” T’Riss’s derision was plain in his voice. “Who else?”

“When Quar failed to return, his master went to Adintana to retrieve him.”

Blinking twice to hide his surprise, T’Riss cocked his head. “I thought he trained with Raptor.”

The Matron Mother raised an eyebrow as she met T’Riss’s gaze. “He did.”

“If Raptor failed to hunt this creature then I will fare no better,” T’Riss murmured. “He was a far better hunter than I.”

The Matron Mother had the good grace not to smile at him. Instead she paced away and gave T’Riss her back, the long lines of her dark violet spider silk gown alluring even to his eyes. “I did not lure a hunter here. As you said, had I needed a hunter, I could’ve had the Sheriff offer you a bounty.”

“You want me to lead a raiding party.” He slowly shook his head, unconsciously backing up a step as Alybreena turned and gazed at him, magic crackling in her long antique white hair as it swung around her. A chill went down T’Riss’s spine. “I don’t do that anymore.”

“I will reinstate your Name,” Alybreena said softly.

“No.”

Her red eyes burned as they pinned him in place and she delivered her coup de grace. “I will release you from your mating vows to Micariara.”

“I am no arisa.”

“You were the best Chasz’Chalolvir ever knew. Lead a raid on the Adintana Forest. Bring to justice whosoever would dishonor the drow.”

“And?” T’Riss whispered.

“I shall perform the matebond ceremony for you and the Arken-A’te war mage myself.”

T’Riss sucked in a breath as the room spun. Impossible! He had to be dreaming. The first rule of dealing with demons, fey, and female drow was the same: if it seemed too good to be true, then it was too good to be true. T’Riss knew that maxim down to his marrow.

“Produce Zakn’yl. Now,” T’Riss said.

The Matron Mother heaved a sigh and raised her hands to the platinum diadem. Lightly touching her two middle fingers to the large cabochon cut black diamonds set over her temples, Alybreena closed her eyes and murmured a few brief words in ancient drow. The air in the room thickened and grew heavy, wavering like heat rising off the desert sands. T’Riss could smell his mate, the perfect combination of light, sweet ginger and exotic coconut rum wafting up to set his body on fire, and then like a mirage swirling up out of the heat, Zak appeared.

Like all members of House Arken-A’te, Zakn’yl was small and delicate. He stood a mere five foot five to T’Riss’s six foot four. Zak’s hair was a long fall of inky midnight silk, soft as a raven’s wing, and blended perfectly against the sparkling obsidian darkness of his skin. Fine-boned with a cupid’s bow mouth, Zak’s pale green eyes shone like iridescent orbs in the low light of the room as he stood next to Alybreena’s throne. When he saw T’Riss, those eyes instantly softened, lowering in deference to his mate.

“My mate.” Zak’s voice rang like a bell as T’Riss took two lunging steps toward him. Zak held his hand out and minutely shook his head. T’Riss stopped dead in his tracks.

“What?” T’Riss asked, his heart in his throat.

Zak looked at Alybreena, who sipped from a fresh cup of hot, Stygian tea, a tiny smile crooking the left side of her mouth.

“I spoke truth to you, Unmentionable. Lead a raiding party to the Adintana Forest and I will do all that I promised.”

T’Riss’s heart pounded frantically. He ached to touch his mate, who was very obviously in distress. “What have you done to my mate, you red-eyed bitch!”

The tiny smile slowly overtook her entire face. “I’m afraid Zakn’yl fell prey to a nasty infection. I shall be happy to cure him before the two of you recruit your raiding party.”

T’Riss’s entire body shook with his rage. He remembered his vow: that if he and Zak were ever in the presence of a high priestess he would speak the matebond ceremony words and prove that ordination wasn’t required – only a true bond in the eyes of Lune along with deep and abiding love. Zak read his mate’s intention, though.

“Please, my mate. She speaks truth. I’m… unwell.”

T’Riss gazed at his mate, at the only being in the universe who truly mattered. Even in his pain and discomfort Zak was beautiful, and offered T’Riss the smile that never failed to make his heart do handsprings. The two males stared at each other for a long moment and though no words were spoken, plenty was said. Finally T’Riss wrenched his eyes away and turned to Alybreena.

“You win. I claim my rights as arisa.”

“Granted.” Alybreena’s eyes blazed like two rubies. “Welcome back, T’Rissinns Riz-LiNeer.”

****

Thanks for reading! I know a picture's worth a thousand words, so here is the stunning artwork by an amazing DeviantArt artist known as Mavrosh that helped bring T'Rissins Riz-LiNeer to life.

Is it any wonder Alybreena loves to torment him?

More of The Forest Lord as FREE FICTION FRIDAYS continue! Comments, as always, are craved and appreciated, either here or at My Email Addy!

Also, because this piece is a piece in progress, your comments may have a distinct effect on how the story progresses. Aside from that, please visit our group home page and check out the other *AWESOME* authors who have written free fiction for your reading pleasure.


Be Well ~ Tux

4 comments:

  1. Okay first off that picture of T'Riss is freakin' HOT !!!!
    Having problems pronouncing the names ( which are very interesting ) but other than that LOVED IT , can't wait to read more , I hope she sticks to her word on all that she has offered to him....

    I do agree with T'Riss if something sounds to good to be true it usually is , I hope I'm wrong this time.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angela! I'm so glad you enjoyed the first installment (I hesitate to call what I'm posting "chapters") of "The Forest Lord." I'm a huge fan of Dungeons & Dragons; I've actually been a part of the play-testing Hasbro's done for the last two incarnations (ed 4 & 5) of the Role-Playing game - mostly because I've been playing it since the 80s. The fiction associated with the game, particularly by R.A. Salvatore, is some of the best fantasy out there. Drizzt Do'Urden was one of my first major "book-crushes" as a kid.

      The names are a convention of Drow storytelling and role-playing that fans of the genre will recognize. Try just pronouncing them phonetically. "T'Riss" rhymes with the common name "Chris". The city they are in, Chasz’Chalolvir, would be pronounced "Kaz-Kal-O-Veer."

      Since, however, you are far from the first of my readers who's expressed discomfort at these names, I'm going to do a corollary posting with the pronunciations. It's what I did on Literotica every time I ventured into another language, and there will be actual Drow language in other parts of the story.

      Grins. Just you wait until you get to what's coming. The Matron Mother may keep her word... but T'Riss and Zak have other enemies who haven't made any promises.

      Thanks so much for reading, and thanks again for commenting, Angela. Have an awesome August!

      Be Well ~ Tucker

      Delete
  2. My Beloved King,

    Let me repeat myself: I swear you want me to bite my tongue off! Oh gods, Tucker, the names are so difficult to pronounce for me! Actually, I’m not even sure if I know how to pronounce them O___O... You should teach me, mister, seriously. In general, beside names, I really had to check some words because I haven’t seen them before – this piece seems to be more difficult to read that any previous one, you know? Not like I’m complaining though because as I told you many times, I love how you force me to learn things. For a foreigner like me, not really using English on daily basis, this is both difficult and pleasurable.

    It’s hard to tell something specific and constructive after only one chapter (and when you are miss the mess) but I really like what I’ve read. I think I already was able to dive into another universe created in your head and written down by your big, strong hands ;-). Which is truly amazing, my King. I mean creating such vivid images and strong sensations connected with the world and characters already in the first chapter in which I “met” it all for actually the very first time.

    I don’t even know why, but my first impression, after the talk between T’Riss and Alybreena and the promise she made, was that it will be a fairytale-like story – what would be awesome, to be honest, because I simply love this kind of stories. But then again, I’m never sure of anything in case of your writing. You can lead this story in so many different ways. You may use a fairytale convention or you can make it so much more complicated and nasty. And frankly speaking, that lack of knowledge what you’re planning, makes me even more excited! I shall wait and find out, oh yes.

    T’Riss’ white hair, his soul of warrior and his being an outlaw in a way made me think briefly about Geralt of Rivia. And even though it was a rather abstract thought and your Unmentionable doesn’t really have anything in common with the witcher, that thought made me smile warmly for a moment. I think I will like him a lot. He seems to be strong, fierce, passionate, and… “grey”.

    My favorite kind *purrs*

    I’ve told you about my little theory about grey people before, right? (For those who may read it out of curiosity and who doesn’t know what I’m talking about –> no, “grey” word wasn’t used in any negative way and definitely not in “dull” meaning.) The question is what shade of grey is imprinted under his skin – light grey as the cloudy sky or the one closer to furious, dark graphite…? I’m thrilled to find that knowledge out in later chapters.

    Oh, have I mentioned he seems to be sexy too?

    Definitely my favorite kind.

    Since today, I’m waiting for Fridays even more eagerly than before ;-).

    Lots of love,
    Iza

    ReplyDelete
  3. My Beloved Queen Iza,

    The last thing I would ever want would be for you to bite your tongue off. As evidenced by the comment above, you are not the only reader to have problems with the characters' names - and the other readers are native English speakers. As I mentioned to Angela, the names are a convention of Drow storytelling and role-playing that fans of the genre will recognize. They should be pronounced phonetically. "T'Riss" rhymes with the common name "Chris". The city they are in, Chasz’Chalolvir, would be pronounced "Kaz-Kal-O-Veer." Since this is no doubt not inclusive enough I'll post a corollary for you with all the phonetic pronunciations of the names and probably some of the Drow phrases that are going to show up in the next few installments.It really is a valid language with it's own distinct grammar, just like Tolkien's Elvish.

    I loved that you mentioned Geralt of Rivia. T'Riss and the Witcher have the very basic commonality of being hunters of "bad things" and as such they share many of the same ideals.As you mentioned, that warrior's heart and spirit. I love that you made that connection, because I certainly drew inspiration from everything I read, not just the romance or erotica.

    There will be a very fairy-tale-like feel to this piece, simply because of the elements and characters involved in it. But at the same time... it'll be complicated and nasty, because that's just how I write all my plots, my queen. I want even my fantasy to be steeped in realism.

    You've never told me your "grey people" theory but now I'm intrigued. So some late night on Twitter we'll chat. LOL

    Have an awesome week. Thanks for the review, and as always, thanks for reading, lovely lady.

    Be Well ~ Tux

    ReplyDelete