SHRUBBY BRANCHES, BARE of leaves with the onset of winter, brushed against Nylora’s cloak like skeletal fingers as she cautiously steered her horse through the treacherous moor. The light was fading fast as the sun sunk low on the horizon, and still, she did not urge the mare into a faster walk. Knowing one wrong step could spell disaster, she leaned forward in the saddle, took the time to study the ground in front of her thoroughly.
There was a haunting beauty in these water logged soils; the rich green of mosses and ferns, the splashes of colorful wildflowers among the tall grasses, dry and brown in the cold season. A perpetual fog clung to the murky water, the outcroppings of smooth, black rock which reached deceptively deep into the ground.
It was slow going, but the shortcut through the dangerous moor had nevertheless shaved a whole day off her trip. A day that was desperately needed. For, in her leather satchel, Nylora carried a message of great import. The sooner it reached King Danoros, the better. Many lives would depend on it.
A heron rose into the sky in the distance, and small, brown birds darted through bushes and shrubs. Focused on picking the safest path in the dimming light, Nylora paid them no heed. The steady buzzing of insects blended with the calls of countless frogs as she paused her horse, examined a spot illuminated with an orange glow by the setting sun. Then veered right to circle around it.
She could see the tree line up ahead, marking the end of the marshes. But it wouldn’t do to become impatient now, to make a mistake after she’s come this far. The ground was steadily getting firmer, the water deeper on each side. She could hear a fish splashing as it jumped to catch a dragonfly—a clear sign the moor was turning into wetlands and rivers. Yet there were patches left to navigate, capable of sucking one into a deadly embrace.
A small ditch fronted the bank that lead into the trees. Seeing no way around it, Nylora carefully allowed her mare to step into the mud. It sucked at her hooves, but she managed to clear it. They had just about reached the top of the low bank when her horse slipped.
In the ensuing scramble to regain her footing, Nylora heard the telltale sound of the mare’s back shoes hitting her fronts. Cursing, she jumped down once they were back on level ground, picked up her horse’s leg.
“At least the shoe came off clean,” she mumbled as she examined the animal’s hoof.
Satisfied the bottom and sides remained undamaged by the hard pull of the shoe, she lowered the mare’s leg gently back to the ground, cast a glance to where the mangled piece of metal stuck partially out of the ground. Then checked the rest of her horse’s body for any signs of injury after the long ride through the moor.
Reassured that everything was well, Nylora patted her mare’s neck. She should be able to make it to the next town if she stuck to softer footing. She remounted, deciding she would keep her horse at only a walk the rest of the way. After a day in constant wetness, the hooves would be soft and vulnerable to damage. Hopefully she could find a blacksmith to tack on a new shoe once she reached the nearest village. The last thing she needed right now was to have her mare come up lame.
The last rays of light cast long shadows onto the country road as she rode out of the trees. Fields stretched out into the distance in all directions, plowed and empty for the season. The air grew steadily colder, and Nylora was eager to move on. Knowing her destination lay to the west, she turned left, trusting she’d encounter some sort of settlement before long.
Still, she stuck close to the line of woods, kept a watchful eye on the road for any sign of her pursuers. There were people who did not want the message she carried to be delivered. And they’d hunted her mercilessly these passed days. She’d managed to lose them when she’d entered the moor, since the mercenaries feared the boggy swamp more than their employer. But she knew they would not easily give up, and she was a mere day ahead of them, at best.
Reaching for her flask of water, Nylora pulled the cork, took a deep swig. Then studied the small town that slowly came into view for any hint of danger. There was some activity, she noted. But no more than could be expected from a place that size, this time of day. People were settling in for the night while the sun dipped low on the horizon.
As she drew nearer, she realized the town might just be large enough to boast an inn. And sent a silent thank you to the gods. She was more than ready for a good meal and a tall mug of ale. Perhaps even a bed to sleep in for the night. Her horse could certainly use a break before they made the last push toward King Danoros’ stronghold in the morning. Neither of them had stopped for more than a few hours at a time this past week. A good night’s rest would see them fresh and moving at fast speeds tomorrow. With any luck, she’d be delivering her message canlı bahis şirketleri by evening the next day.
Anxious to find a blacksmith before he closed shop for the night, but not willing to risk injury to her horse, Nylora kept the pace at a forward walk. Distracted herself with thoughts of the pleasures to be had once she reached the stronghold. There were soldiers there, hundreds of them, always ready to keep a woman entertained. It had been too long since she’d had a good night of fun. And the heart-pounding anxiety of being chased always heightened her arousal.
Not like there wouldn’t be other pressing matters to attend to once she reunited with King Danoros. But what was the use of fighting, of constantly risking one’s life, if she didn’t enjoy her share of pleasure now and then?
Still cautious, and aware of everything around her, Nylora rode into town. Relaxed when she noticed no sign of anything being amiss. She passed mostly single story timber frame cottages with wattle and daub walls and thatched roofs. Some stores and shops were two stories tall, but few and far in between.
Women in plain dresses stored away rinsed milking cans, a butcher closed up his smokehouse. A few sheep were being herded back into their pens, peels and discards of meals tossed to pigs. Men hung tools, covered wagons. Mothers ushered children into the house for dinner.
To her delight, Nylora spotted an inn, but urged her horse toward the blacksmith’s shop first. Reining the mare to a halt, she dismounted, greeted the man as he pulled closed the doors to a small barn.
“Good evening to you, sir. Is there any chance you could tack a shoe back on my horse?”
He was in his mid to late thirties, she estimated as he turned. With a strong, burly built, and a weathered face that was nonetheless rather attractive. Lines fanned out from dark blue eyes as he studied her, proving he was quick to laugh and smile.
“I was just about to put out the coals.” He wiped his large hands on the leather apron protecting his legs. “But I can fit you in first thing in the morning.”
“This is rather urgent.” Unwilling to give in so easily, Nylora held out a purse of coins. “I need to be back on the road before the light of dawn. You’ll be well rewarded for your time and trouble.” Then she smiled. “I’ll even make excuses to your wife, if that’s what’s needed. My mare here has been without the shoe for a while. I’d hate for her to come up sore.”
Chuckling—a warm, deep sound that made Nylora’s insides tremble with pleasure—he slowly shook his head, relented. “There is no wife, or anyone else to make excuses to. Just a warm meal and an ale waiting for me down at the tavern. But I couldn’t rightly cause an animal to suffer. So bring her on in.”
Nylora thanked him, waited for him to pull the door back open. Her lips turned up at the corners as she followed him inside, took in the nice, firm posterior in his tight breeches. She loved a man with a nicely muscled butt. And his strong, broad shoulders and long, sturdy upper thighs were nothing to frown at either. Feeling the first twinges of anticipation low in her belly, she tilted her head, considered him. Perhaps she wouldn’t have to wait until tomorrow to have a little fun, she mused.
He closed the door, turned back to face her. And she noted the view from the front left nothing to be desired, either. There’d be some force to his thrusts, she surmised, judging by his powerful flanks. His burly chest and thickly muscled arms would be strong enough to support her in any position. Nylora’s smile grew wider as she imagined the possibilities.
His eyes held a hint of smoldering heat as he regarded her, proving he was every bit as aware of her as she of him. Yet there was intelligence in his eyes as well. Promising he’d be an interesting partner.
Taking the reins from her, the blacksmith loosened the girth of the saddle, led the mare over to an area where he could tether her. Nylora’s tongue darted out to moisten her lips as she watched the ripple of muscle under his shirt with every move he made. It was a welcome sight after a week spent in the company of nothing but nature. Well—if one didn’t count the men hell-bent on killing her.
Figuring she’d better not distract him from his work too soon, she took a look around his shop. There was a large forge straight ahead, with a chimney reaching through the ceiling. The usual tools of the trade were neatly arranged throughout the room. Along the left wall, works other than horseshoes displayed his skills. Heads for pitchforks, hoes, and rakes waited to be fused onto handles. She saw ornate doorknobs, fireplace screens, trellises and arbors.
Then a shelve holding more curious items caught her eye. Brows winged up, she sauntered closer to get a better look. A delighted laugh bubbled from her throat when she recognized the items’ purpose.
“See something you like?” he called out from where he was shaping canlı kaçak iddaa a heated shoe over an anvil.
“Oh, yes, indeed.” Nylora let out another throaty chuckle. “These are remarkably well crafted.” She threw him a sassy wink over her shoulder, then turned her gaze back to the most interesting display.
Obviously meant to bring pleasure to a woman, the objects were created with amazing imagination. And made Nylora regard the blacksmith in a whole new light. If he was only partially as creative when bedding a woman, this night might turn out more pleasurable than anticipated.
Lips pursed, she studied the phallic shapes. Some were undoubtedly molded to resemble the endowments of males of the various races of her world. Having experienced some of those males before, Nylora merely gave them a passing glance. It were the ones shaped purely from imagination that interested her the most.
All of them were made of smooth metal, some were short, some long, some slim, others considerably thick. She saw lumps and bumps, from tiny to huge, ridges, grooves, and crests of various sizes and shapes. Even some that boasted a stunning combination of all. Everything from tapered tips to wide, blunt heads was represented here, designed to ease the toy’s entry or make it challenging.
Tapping a finger to her lip, Nylora turned around, watched the blacksmith drive a nail through her horse’s hoof to attach the shoe. A little shudder of female appreciation sent heat straight to her loins when she noted the muscles of his back bunch and flex with every strike of the hammer.
“Feel free to try some out.” His knowing smile revealed deep dimples when he met her eyes. “There’s a small storage room off to the side where you can have some privacy.”
“Hmmm.” Hips swinging sassily, she strolled closer to him. “I think I might need some help.”
There was a playful sparkle in his eyes as another moment of awareness shimmered between them that told her he’d be willing. She liked the looks of him, she admitted, all masculine, rough male. Without the overbearing attitude that so often came along with them. Stopping next to him, she threw him a flirtatious smile to make certain he’d know she had definitely issued an invitation. She couldn’t deny her attraction to him, or her curiosity about how else he might apply his imagination.
Rather intrigued by her himself, he set down the horse’s hoof, trimmed the sharp nail ends that stuck out, filed them down. Travelers in these parts were rare. A woman traveling alone even rarer. Despite her ample curves, her body was fit, well accustomed to physical labor. Not to mention entirely arousing. The long sword hanging from her saddle’s side let him know she was no ordinary wanderer. Yet he was not one to concern himself overly much with others’ private affairs.
Dismissing the thought that there was more to her than she let on, he stored away his tools. Then offered the horse some hay, refilled the water bucket he’d hung for her. His movements were a little tenser than before, since his groin had tightened forcibly at the woman’s offer. The enticing creature was thoroughly tempting, he conceded. Still, he wanted to be certain she truly wanted to play.
Swiping a hand through his rich, brown hair, he cocked his head, gave Nylora an inquiring look. “Can’t say I could turn down a request for help from a beautiful woman who so obviously admires my work. But are you sure you wouldn’t rather experiment with what you might like in private?”
Nylora fluttered a hand in dismissal of his concern. “I’m certain I would enjoy experimenting much more with a little help. No one knows his work better than the artist, after all.”
The grin she shot him was full of mischief as she wandered back over to the shelf, turned her attention to the display while he took off his apron, went to lock the front doors. A moment later, he was behind her, his breath feathering hotly over her neck as she perused her choices.
“Have you decided yet?” His voice sounded husky, gruff with arousal.
Wanting to give him room to be creative, she shook her head. “I can’t pick a favorite. There are so many interesting ones.” Then slanted him a playful look over her shoulder. “You should choose. Test out the ones that you prefer.”
The hard outline of a rather sizeable cock pressed into her lower back when he leaned forward, debated the selection. Everything about him was quite large and broad, Nylora noted with a smile. There was a pleasant tingling in her loins, and she could already feel herself moistening. When he picked one out, she turned, met his laughing gaze.
Oh, yes, this night would be enjoyable, she mused. Then his mouth came down on hers, and she lost her train of thought. Gentle, playful at first, the kiss soon grew more heated, more urgent.
Her hands slid over his shirt, then under, caressing the hard plains of muscle beneath. He sucked in a breath when she scraped a nail over his canlı kaçak bahis nipple. Then growled into her mouth as her palm found the hard bulge under the linen of his pants, cupped it. Making sure he knew she meant to have not only his toys, but him, she gave it a few, firm strokes.
His moan rumbled deep in his chest, and he grabbed her wrist, pulled it away. Chuckling, she let him guide her to a table, laughed when he cleared it with a powerful swipe of his arm. A press of her finger to his trembling stomach muscles stopped him when he would have pushed her back.
“I think it’s warm enough in here to be rid of these cumbersome clothes.” Nylora slowly unbuttoned her blouse. Truth be told, she couldn’t wait to see his exposed torso, but he seemed in no hurry to oblige. Fire flashed in his eyes as she slid her shirt over her shoulders, dropped it to the ground. A bead of sweat trailed between the mounds of her breasts, and she followed its path with a fingertip.
A second later, his large hands cupped them both, and it was her turn to suck in air as calloused thumbs found her nipples, brushed over them. His mouth closed over hers once more as he teased them into hard, thrumming peaks. Skilled, his clever fingers rolled the sensitive buds between them, then squeezed.
The tingling in her loins turned into a throbbing, matching the need pulsing between his legs. She tried to reach for him, to urge him on. But he only squeezed tighter, until she gasped, let her hands fall back to her sides.
His lips left a fiery trail in their wake as he nibbled on her jaw, her neck. His tongue fluttered over her skin, hinting at the pleasures to come. When his mouth closed over her nipple, sucked it in, she threw back her head, let out a long moan. This time, when her hands grabbed his hips, pulled them closer, he didn’t object.
Her pussy clenched, released, clenched, released as his tongue danced over the hard peaks of her breasts, eliciting the most arousing sensations. His lips suckled, firmed around her nipple, his teeth nipped lightly, then harder. Her core tightened, aching with need. Yearning to be filled, she pressed her loins against his, massaged his hard cock through the fabric of his breeches.
When he pulled back, she thought herself victorious. But his mischievous smile informed her otherwise. Grabbing the toy he’d set down, he let his other hand travel lazily down her ribcage, over her flank. Ever so slowly, he untied the strings of her pants, then paused. Keeping a firm grip on her waistband, he held his mouth a breath away from hers, challenging her to move. He hovered there, perfectly still, until she thought she’d go mad with impatience.
Suddenly, he jerked her pants down. Roughly, all way to the floor. Squatting, he leaned forward, forward, until the heat of his breath caressed her swollen folds. Chuckling when her hips rolled forward to meet him, he rose.
Nylora glared at him out of narrowed eyes. If the obstinate man kept this up, she’d yank the toy out of his hand and see to her needs herself. Then her eyes widened when he unhurriedly pulled open the laces of his own breeches. He didn’t pause this time, but let his pants slip right down his hips.
And his magnificent cock sprang into view. Hard as steel, covered in velvety skin, it was absolutely gorgeous. The tapered head widened drastically into a beautifully flared rim at its back. The shaft was rather thick, the pulsing ridge on its underside marvelously refined. His length ensured he’d be able to fill her completely in any position, without having to worry too much about pressing too deep, or hurting her.
Licking her lips, Nylora watched a drop of pre-seed appear at his slit, wished he’d let her lick it off. Then her gaze was drawn upward when he pulled his shirt over his head just as casually. It fell to the ground next to his discarded breeches, and she let out soft moan of pure female appreciation.
Bronzed skin glistened in the firelight of the forge, stretched tight over broad, strong muscles. He lacked the definition of a highly trained warrior, but his massive, rock-hard body was nonetheless powerful, pure, unadulterated male. Smooth brown hair enhanced the features of his wide chest, then narrowed as it formed a path over his washboard stomach, down to his strong flanks. She almost begged when her gaze followed its trail to the pulsing cock between his legs, saw it jerk and jump.
“Lie back. Spread your legs.” The gravelly tone in which he issued the command belied his calm demeanor.
Every bit as aroused as he by this mild game of dominance they were playing, she obeyed. His nostrils flared, his broad chest rose and fell when she slowly, teasingly opened her legs, exposing herself to his view. Enjoying the shift of power in her favor, she took her time, playfully arched her back. Smiled wickedly when his cock jumped again in response.
Her natural moisture glistened in the firelight, and she felt her folds swelling further under his direct gaze, parting slightly as if to invite him. His muscles tensed as he fought for control, forcing himself to remain still. Enjoying him, she flexed and tightened her core, laughed foxily when his flanks trembled in response.