This is a reworking of an older story. Estragon was the copy editor for the first version years ago. I’ve made some changes so if there are errors please do not blame him.
I awoke in the saddle during the first graying of the dawn. I was not going to miss this, the lifestyle of sleeping on horseback while traveling from one job to another, always moving, never being able to have pride in a home or know that it is safe.
I reined in to the side of the path and dismounted to give my horse a break and his oats. I owed him my life several times over, this horse, but now he was getting old, as was I. I could always depend on Bore to get me through. He’d carried me wounded and out of my mind with fever to the nearest homestead, warned me of bandits approaching long before I would have known myself and fought valiantly with me in battle.
This is to be our last job Bore and I, if we survive, I’m not going to kid myself on that. It is an all or nothing hope for the future I have always dreamed of. We are to join a group at the Whindershand caverns, I am to lead that group in the protection of the entrance while the wizard Vorlayin does something dark and mysterious inside at the full moon.
The pay is outrageous even split eight ways between us it will be enough for me to purchase sufficient land to fulfill my dream retirement. The catch? The Guardians, of them little is known, what is known is that every wizard that has entered those caverns has not returned. Something or some things come out of the forest and no wizard has survived to tell the tale. There have been tracks seen after the fact and from local legend there are two sets of those big three toed tracks, but little else is said.
The problem that goes along with the catch is my troops, Vorlayin has hired six other “warriors” so he says, instead of allowing me to pick my own trusted fighters and I am to be stuck with a mage as well. I have a large distrust of mages. A mewling, arrogant, ass of a young male nearly got me killed in my youth and I have distrusted them all ever since. You just can’t depend on magic for fighting it is too uncertain and requires too much concentration. Show me a mage that can concentrate on the proper spell while their companion is being eaten alive by a Morkdjin 10 feet away and I’ll kiss your ass before the Kings full Court.
The only magic I have ever found trustworthy and useful is mind magic and it is not learned it is hereditary, and not of use in battle. I have it to some extent myself. I can communicate simple thoughts to animals and sometimes feel the strong emotions of humans but it won’t block a sword and can’t keep some ravening beast from eating you for dinner.
I sling the saddle down off Bores back, steam rising from his hide in the cold morning air, and then I feel it, laughter and playfulness. I step back and look around, searching for the source. Bore stamps nervously and I unsheathe my sword in anticipation of trouble. Bore knows, he senses something dangerous, yet I feel the happiness in my mind almost as if it were coming from a playing child.
She rounds the bend in the trail and I am transfixed. It is a tall voluptuous red head riding a hart of all things! How could one possibly ride a hart and how did she find one so huge? She sees me and stops mid trail looking at me. As she looks quizzically at me a black panther comes slowly striding from the forests edge to stop between us facing me. I can feel that she is her defender and none shall pass unscathed. She gestures and a wall of white light springs up before the cat. Ah, the Lady mage would protect her defender. I sense her deep caring for the beast.
This must be my mage. I sheathe my sword and cross my arms over my breast trying to strike an authoritative pose. I know how this next small piece of time goes will set the precedent, and it could mean my life or hers or that of the others, later, when battle rages.
I incline my head in recognition of her and gesture for her to join me on the side of the trail. She hesitates a moment them looks intently at the cat. Two pairs of green eyes meet and I sense struggle, then the cat turns and disappears back into the forest. She gestures and the white wall disappears as she rides on toward me. I continue with the rubbing down of Bore as she approaches not wanting to look overly concerned but feeling the prickle of her gaze on my back the whole time. As she dismounts I realize it is as I had thought on first seeing her, she is over a head taller than me.
She dismounts bahis firmaları and takes the blanket from the beasts back, she has been riding with nothing but a blanket. Once again she gestures and the hart’s fur fluffs out, dirt and twigs falling soundlessly to the ground. She gives one curt nod to the beast and it wanders off into the scrub at the edge of the trail.
She rounds on me, “So YOU are the Dragon?”
I gave her my best indomitable blue glare. “Yes and you are?”
She giggled. “But, but you are so little! I am Amynomne my friends call me Ames”
I drew myself up to all of my sixteen hands height and opened my mouth as she said… “And how someone with mind magic as powerful as you has lived in your profession with so little training as to be spewing forth emotions to all and sundry is astounding. I felt your distrust and dislike of mages yesterday from leagues away!”
That did it! “None of that matters now. What matters is that I command this group to do this job and if you cannot take direction and follow it to the letter then you can get back on your pet and disappear!”
Fire blazed forth from those green eyes for a moment and it seemed the red of her hair darkened a shade. “I’ve signed on to be led and I will follow but if you do not learn to block your projection of your emotions the Guardians will know what you plan before you can finish the thought. We’ve a days ride before we reach the caverns I suggest you let me teach you to shield yourself. And why in the goddesses name did no one tell me you were a lesbian?”
“Because it was none of their or your business!”
On that last comment I felt a burning hot wave of desire wash over me only to be suddenly snuffed out. I turned and stomped to Bore to finish grooming him, I had much to consider before we started the days journey.
I heaved the saddle back over Bores back and cinched it down, then reached into my saddle bags to take out jerky, cheese and hardtack dividing it before placing the bags over as well.
“Here, breakfast is on me. Call your mount. Can you keep the cat far enough away to avoid spooking my horse? I want to hear more about this shielding”.
Throughout the long days ride we talked. I learned to school my thoughts and rein in my passion so as not to project to the world what I was feeling. To say that I was smitten with her would be an understatement, but that had no place here, riding into danger and I fought to keep it both hidden from her and from myself. I could not think of that and keep us all alive to spend the riches we would earn before morning.
As we neared the caverns I again pulled to the side of the trail, this time to prepare myself for dealing with men. Men that thought they were warriors and that might not take to being led by a woman.
I pulled from my packs my armor such as it was and unceremoniously shucked my shirt. The cold air made my nipples harden instantly and I looked up to see her watching, again I felt that wave of desire that was suddenly cut short.
I slipped into a soft sleeveless shirt, followed by my breast plate and I pulled and tugged the laces tight. She gasped as I slid my trews off to don my leather and mail pants. I blushed, ashamed of the many scars that lined my legs. Last but probably the most important for this meeting of my men were my gloves, I’d had these specially made by a leather craftsman and sworn him to secrecy. They looked like regular leather finger less gloves but they were heavy as stones, it was the lining of finely jointed metal in the upper fingers and backs of the hands. Many a bard has sang the praises of the dragon’s wondrous punch used in numerous tavern brawls in my younger years. Little did they know of how she came about it.
We came upon the six all together, with no sentry posted, dicing before the cavern entrance. They passed a bottle among them as they watched us approach and several made rude noises at the Lady. I was sorely tempted to spur Bore and ride right through the middle of the mess swinging my sword using the flat of the blade. Instead I came to a sliding halt and dismounted in a fury. They rose as I reached them. I grabbed the first I came to by the shirt front and slammed him into the rocky outcropping beside us.
“What in the hell do you think you are doing? Why is there no sentry? Do you not realize we need to remain concealed until the time comes to defend the entrance? Surprise was our biggest asset. You have lost us that!”
The largest of them spat and rushed me, I dropped the dazed kaçak iddaa man I’d just assaulted and delivered one sharp right hand to the brutes chin as he lunged my way. Down he went and two more came behind him. At the same time the remaining two made to grab the lady from the back of her mount but the hart reared and they were dissuaded by the razor sharp hooves. I grabbed the first to get to me by the shirt and slung him onto the rocks face first behind me and caught the second with a left to the gut bending him double. I heard several syllables of a strange language and there was a flash of light and a small explosion between me and the remaining two men who had headed my way after being discouraged by the harts hooves. Everyone froze, the men looked at her like she was a demon and started backing up.
“That is enough! All of you! The next explosion with be in some ones trews if you do not stop this instant!”
Just as I was building up to explode over her usurping of my leadership she traipsed over to me grabbed me by the pony tail and kissed me hard and deep, in front of the men who were picking themselves up and dusting themselves off.
“I am sorry to ruin your fun lover but we have a cavern to defend shortly, don’t you think you should be planning a strategy instead of playing?”
I looked around at the men, they were shocked. One of them shook his head. “I see from your tattoos you are the Dragon, a woman! And she, she is a mage and you, the two of you… No, oh hell no! I am having no part of this! Killed! We will all be killed I tell you! I am taking myself home to my family.”
He gathered his things and went to his horse tethered in the trees nearby to mount up, followed by two others. And now we were only 5. I looked at the other 3 men.
“Anyone else want to leave? You know my reputation. Did it matter when I built that reputation that I was a woman?”
There was much shuffling of feet and grumbling with heads down.
“OK then, I want all of you in what armor you have and I want to see your weapons. Ames call the cat she needs to be properly introduced to everyone and I need to speak with her.”
We were all in our places as the sun set and in that red hazed moment of last light the Wizard suddenly stepped out of thin air into the small clearing before the cavern entrance. Without a sound he turned, looked at me and nodded in recognition then walked slowly into the cavern.
I shifted in my place and looked over my shoulder to Ames, I’d put her in the most sheltered spot I could find, all of the rest of us would come before her if it came to that. I know I shouldn’t have let my attraction figure into battle plans but I could not help myself.
“Remember men no matter what happens hold your ground do not move from your places”
The cat was patrolling the perimeter, I was thankful to have that and had expressed my gratitude for her joining this venture. In return I got images of Ames scratching her tummy. I guess I know where her priorities lie.
As the moon reached its apex in the sky there was a piercing feline scream and the big cat streaked from the forest to Ames’s side just as planned. They were coming. The first came out of the forest to the left, twice as tall as a man and looking to be half dragon half cat. It had one of the men by the middle screaming his last breath before any of us could react. The bowman was firing arrow after arrow but they just bounced off.
“The eyes aim for the eyes!”
The second came in from directly in front of me and I stepped in to meet it taking one last big calming breath and raising my sword high. It slapped at me with foot long talons and I parried the blow, nearly being knocked to my knees from the force. I heard a scream and an explosion from the left as I whirled and made ready to counter attack.
The first beast had grabbed the bowman but had several arrows protruding from its eyes. It flailed wildly at the other swordsman trying to swat him away.
A huge ball of fire hit the beast in front me and I went in slashing at the throat and then burying my sword deep in the right eye socket on the return stroke. The beast let out a horrible squealing sound and collapsed pulling my sword form my hand. I kicked its head sideways and freed my blade just as I heard the last man scream and saw him go down slashed across the middle by those long talons.
Several explosions rocked the creature as I sprinted trying to get there before it moved in to finish it’s kill. The man tried vainly to crawl away as it kaçak bahis swatted and swiped in its blindness trying to find him. I ran full at the monster spearing its left eye with my sword and feeling it sink to the hilt. It dropped like a stone and I sank to the ground in exhaustion.
The sun was just beginning to rise. I climbed wearily to my feet pulled my sword free and wiped it on the grass. The third man had died while I was killing the beast. At least he was avenged.
We wrapped the men in their blankets and slung their bodies over their horses, they had come from a nearby village. We would have a sad arrival there this day but I would deliver their shares to their families along with their bodies.
The wizard emerged shortly after day break and looked around, in his arms he carried a great round stone engraved with many runes of power. He gestured and the stone vanished and there sat in front of him a large chest of gold for our reward.
Ames walked up to me handed me a mug of something with herbs floating in it and sniffed, yes, sniffed!
“You smell! There is a stream near here. Cat will guard the gold lets bathe”
I drank down her bitter brew, flung the cup at our packs and followed her into the forest.
Around and down into the hollow we go. I begin to feel the humidity rising in the air and can hear a rumble, ah a waterfall! We reach the edge of the pool and I turn to her, and take her in my arms kissing her. She wrinkles her nose at me.
I turn and start stripping off my armor hearing a rustling and then a splash behind me. as I kick off my boots my trews still bunched around them I turn and there she is treading water and washing her hair as the waterfall thunders behind her. Those big green eyes glow as she looks at me and again I feel that wave of desire but this time it is not cut short, it grows.
I plunge into the cold water and it revives me, the drink she gave me has dulled the pain of my many bruises. I swim out to her under water and surface in front of her. Those eyes! Oh. those eyes!
I take her in my arms and we tread water together, kissing wildly, deeply. I forget to kick and we start to sink and must break apart. I lead her to the edge of the tumbling water where a smooth flat stone hovers at water’s edge and hoist her upon it, finding a ledge with my toes as I step up into her and our breasts meet. We moan in unison as they are pressed together with our kiss.
I am wild and on fire, I kiss her eyes, her cheeks, and nibble gently down the side of her neck to her collar bone. Her moans spur me on and fan the flames. My hands roam her body as I kiss her again and she moans in my mouth. Again I nibble down her neck to the collar bone and then work my way lower, planting small tongue swirling kisses to her breast. I take the nipple in my mouth and she cries out in passion. I suckle strongly and lightly roll the other between fingers and thumb and she squirms. I switch nipples and she grabs my head pulling me into her.
I break free and kiss my way down her stomach as she lays back on the rock. Her breathing is raspy and shallow as if she is nearing the end of a race. I run my tongue around her navel and down. Down to the junction of thigh and groin where I pause to plant a swirling kiss, she hisses in frustration and bucks her hips up at me. Back across her lower stomach I go planting kisses and she growls.
I pause and look down at the beauty in front of me and she grabs me by the head and grinds herself into my face. Slowly, softly I tease her with my tongue, barely touching. She pulls harder on my head and bucks her hips exploding in my face. Just as the tension in her body eases I slide two fingers into her depths curling them and making circles. She arches and screams as I again find her with my tongue.
She releases my head again and whimpers slightly reaching for me. I struggle to climb out of the water onto the rock with over tired muscles so she grabs me under the arms nearly throwing me across the rock and flipping me to my back. Our hard nipples grate together as she climbs atop me. I buck my hips trying to grind against her as she takes my nipple in her mouth. Her hand finds my heat and I arch my back as she enters me. She changes to the other nipple and I groan loudly arching still higher, about to go over the edge. Her fingers are pumping into me as she kisses down my stomach and I feel like my head will burst. I scream out her name as her tongue finds me and I explode in orgasm.
I wake lying cuddled in her arms. She is singing softly in a language I do not know and rocking me like a child. Tears are running down her cheeks and I rise up to kiss them.
“I thought I would never find you Lady of my heart.”