Sunday, August 24, 2008

Adarkan's Salvation by Becca Dale

Three hundred years of battle smoke cloaked the crescent moon as war raged through the darkness and humanity lost itself to fear and self-preservation. The clash of steel overrode the screams of fallen horses, reverberating through the valley, while bitter flames, fueled by hate and distrust, lit the horizon.

Kylean stood watch on a knoll overlooking the riverbank. He would come soon. Her pulse drummed and her breast rose and fell in agitation as she struggled to still her fears. The cool autumn wind pressed her skirt tightly to her trembling legs and sent shivers dancing down her back. Her mother and father might disown her for this night, but she could not run to their sheltering arms.

She smoothed the virgin’s gown of Cavalier lace her mother had so painstakingly sewn for a wedding night that would never happen and adjusted the ribbon in her carefully washed, lavender scented hair that lay in a thick rope against her racing heart. She had taken special care to make herself worthy of the talon king, the dark creature who commanded her thoughts and desires.

A twig snapped and she turned to see him, tall and strong in the shadows. He leaned casually against a cragged oak. His long black hair partially hid his features, but she knew him. His dark eyes would glow red when she angered him and settle to cool obsidian when he was at peace, a state she rarely witnessed. His sharp features never relaxed, even when he cajoled her to do his bidding, and the corded muscles of his limbs could effortlessly rip a man apart, a fact which fed her desire and her disquiet.

“Why have you come to me?” he asked, as if he had not commanded her from her bed.

“Why have you called me?” She dared to tease him only because his plans went beyond a night’s feasting. He would not gorge himself upon her flesh and destroy the future of his people any more than she would jeopardize her family and humankind in general.

He shifted away from the tree and rose to his full height with a restrained snarl. “Do you mock me, girl?”

A red glow flared in his eyes and his lip curved above his sharpened fangs. Her mouth went dry and her throat tightened, but she stepped boldly toward him. “No. Would you have me cower? If you seek a trembling creature, destroy me now and find another more suited to your purpose.”

He remained silent, staring steadily until she feared she would melt and plead for forgiveness. With a controlled breath she moved one step closer. He blinked at her boldness before chuckling softly. “You are too brazen, ik kara. Tread with care that you don’t push me too far.”

“Perhaps I’ve not pushed you far enough, my lord. Am I not, as you say, the chosen one? If I’m mistaken tell me, and I’ll not bother you again. I did not come tonight to destroy my future, but rather to save it.”

“Do not ever threaten me.” His savage snarl chilled her blood as he shoved her roughly.

Kylean tripped over her long skirt and sat down hard on the frozen ground. She clenched her jaw against a futile scream. With an irritated jerk she pulled the offending material aside and rose. She stood inches from his massive chest and glared up at him. “Do you mean to frighten me, my lord? I don’t bow before man or talon. If you seek resolution, then treat me with respect. I don’t expect tenderness from you, though that which I offer would demand it, but I will not willingly accept abuse. I’m a seer, a princess among my people, a healer, and a virgin prize. All these things make me worthy of you, my lord. Don’t value me below my nature or social decree or you may find my claws sharper than your own.”

His nostrils flared and his great hands clenched in anger. “Go then. Leave me.”

“No.” His savage reputation flitted through her mind. Unsure how he would react to such audacity, she hid her trembling hands behind her back.

His strong hands engulfed her waist and lifted her to her toes. Hot breath brushed her cheeks as he struggled for control of his emotions. “Have you lost your mind, girl? How dare you defy me?”

“I believe in ending the wars, my lord. I want a part of that.” She hesitated a moment before touching his tight jaw. He could so easily destroy her, but she prayed he would not. “Don’t send me away, Rakar. Join our peoples. I see no other way to end this relentless feud.”

The muscles in his jaw jumped beneath her fingertips before he yanked her close. “I can smell your fear no matter how you try to hide it, Kylean. What frightens so bold a girl?”

Smiling, she relaxed in his arms. Savage and cold he may be, but her faith in him had not been misplaced. “I fear only the unknown, my lord. I would face this night with trepidation were you a mere man. I can’t help the disquiet that stirs my soul at the thought of lying with the talon king, yet I would rather face that fear than live with failure.”

He released her without a word and spread his cloak on the ground, but his black eyes swirled with crimson emotion. He wore only the short, deerhide kilt of his clan, and his dark skin glowed in the pale moonlight. His beauty stole her ability to reason.

Then he was upon her.

His rough kiss warmed her as he bore her to the ground and stripped away her human trappings with a savage rip. The material held at the waistband but left her naked from there up. The cool air competed with his heat, sending chills to dance with his hands across her exposed skin, and she trembled in anticipation. When he broke the kiss, he moved downward and captured her nipple in his teeth. He would offer her no gentleness; this she understood and accepted as she arched upward, begging for his commanding touch. The remnants of her clothing shredded to nothing beneath his claws, but he sheathed them when he stroked her unprotected flesh.

The clouds above swirled with a brewing storm, proof that what they did would change the world. For a moment she questioned her decision as the great talon king knelt between her thighs, his eyes as turbulent as the sky above. So many obstacles stood in the way of peace.

“What we set in motion can’t be undone, Kylean. You will face ridicule and threats from both our kind, and I can’t protect you. I ask again, ik kara, do you come to me with a sure heart?”

His question ended hers. “Without reservation, Rakar.”

He closed his eyes and tipped his head to the heavens as if praying for guidance before he flipped aside his kilt. She had not imagined he would be so large. Surely a human female could not accommodate such mass, but before she could pull away, he shoved her knees wide and drove his engorged penis deep inside her moist vagina. She screamed as he entered. Arching off the ground, she beat on his shoulders. “Get out! We’re not meant to join!”

But he remained locked inside her throbbing body.

He shifted her upward against his chest so her thighs embraced his hips, then held her tightly. “Be still!” he growled as he pressed her face to his shoulder. One strong hand clasped the back of her head and the other pressed flat against her spine. His claws pricked her tender flesh to keep her steady.

She could not breathe and struggled to free herself, but he remained relentless. Finally, in a frantic plea for oxygen, she bit down hard on his sinewy shoulder. With a snarl, he jerked her head back but did no more as she gasped desperately for air. When her breathing returned to normal, she reclined against his arms. The pain of his entry had lessened, and though he still stretched her greatly, she no longer feared their joining.

His wolfish grin told her he knew. “Shall we create a son and end the wars forever, ik kara?”

When she nodded her consent, he laid her back against the soft velvet of his cape and came down over her, a beast looming above its prey. The unsettling thought drifted away as he made slow impassioned love to her. Each heart stirring caress, each thrust and pull, lifted her higher as he whispered words she did not understand. Unwilling merely to receive his gift, she lifted her hips to meet him until her body acknowledged his mastery, and the darkening sky shattered above her. The talon king set his seed deep inside her human womb as thunder and lightening crashed above and the night screamed with fear and joy at what they had done.