Archive | August 2019

Alton & Velda Part 31 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerRialta comes in to see Revanth. He manages to lure her close, binding her with his chains.

“Release me.”

“Oh, no. You’re going to call your servant and then you’ll release me. And, if you’re very smart, you’ll let the human woman, and the naiad go as well.”

“How did you know?” she gasped, realizing he had discovered her secret. “Why do you think they’re here?”

“I smell them,” he purred next to her ear. Nipping her throat with strong, white teeth, he allowed himself a moment to enjoy the svelte, lithe body next to him.

“There is no way a human has that sense of smell!”

“I’m no mere human. Don’t you recognize the man your daughter, Eleion, turned into a horse? After all, you were there, orchestrating the entire thing.”

“How—?”

“My sweet Rialtia, you betray yourself at every turn. I’m no longer the foolish boy you tricked. I’ve learned a lot in the last few months, not the least of which is your scent. You’ve plotted this from the beginning, but for the life of me, I can’t imagine why. If you wanted revenge against Alton, why go to all this trouble? If you wanted to capture Velda, it would have been easy to send the puka after her. Why this bizarre, and unnecessary, fiasco?”

“To test him!”

Revanth blinked hard, leaning forward to better hear her, though she was as close as his skin.

“He stole her from me, deflowered her, then proceeded to break her heart time and again. How can a man do that to the woman he loves?”

“It is the way of his people….”

“Weave a different tale, you wily tongued serpent! Way of his people be damned! He’s slept with more women than—!”

“Than you have men? I doubt that. He’s not nearly as old as you. Though, you are still a verdant peach of a woman, and a man would be fortunate to have you. Shall we?” He tipped his head toward the bed.

“Leave off your silken lies. What will your princess think of you, a man who sold himself, while supposedly faithful to her.”

“I sold myself to help her. And it was worth every moment, just to give you this.” He kissed her long, hard and deep. His hands worked quickly, manipulating the chains, releasing himself and trapping her. “Even a human may work a little magic,” he said, twirling the metal pick between his fingers. “Now, if you’ll excuse me….” He tucked himself back into his britches and walked to the door.

Rialtia opened her mouth to say words of power to trap him. All that came out was a hoarse croak. Gasping, she clutched her throat.

“That’s the nettle juice I rubbed on my lips. Takes a little while to work, but it’s quite effective, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s enough to block your airway. Conjure up a little water. Oh, sorry…. There’s not any of that about.” He rushed from the room, slamming the door.

Taking a few steps to the left, he searched for the outer door to Astrid and Velda’s cell. He knew it had to be close to his, but somehow, the witch had camouflaged it to look like a blank wall. Instead of looking with his eyes, he closed them, listening with his mind. Hand against smooth stone, he felt along the wall until it dipped, and he felt wood. With his eyes open, it looked like a blank wall, but his hand could feel a metal bolt in brackets. Going by feel, he released it, and the door swung inward. There, seated on their bunks, were Astrid and Velda. Their eyes turned to the door, but showed no recognition. Revanth rushed to the shelf where Astrid sat, kneeling at her feet.

“My love, is it really you? Have I found you at last?” Clasping her hands, he kissed them.

Astrid stiffened, eyeing him dubiously.

“Astrid? It’s Revanth. Darling, I….”

She snatched her hands away, drawing herself up angrily. “Excuse me, good sir. What is this name you call me? Who is Astrid? Do you know this man?” she appealed to Velda.

“I never saw him before. Go away.” She made sweeping motions at him.

“But, my love! Astrid! What madness is this?”

“Guards!” Astrid screamed. “Help! Marigold! Help!”

Seconds later, the gnome appeared with two burly guards.

“My lady, what troubles you?”

Astrid pointed at Revanth. Marigold’s topaz eyes raked him from head to foot. A slow smile spread across her features.

“You’ve trapped her, then?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Rialtia? She’s chained up?”

“Yes—but….”

“Good. Take him,” she told the guards. “In your cell?” she directed at Revanth as he was muscled down the hall.

“Yes….”

With a tilt of her chin, Marigold gave a command. “I suppose I should thank you. I’ve been that bitch’s slave for the past fifty years. Take him below. Find him somewhere—cozy.”

“Yes, mistress.”

“Now,” Marigold said. “You pay, you filthy hag!”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Alton & Velda Part 30 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerThe women meet their captor, a gnome female named Marigold. Velda is sure that there is a man in the next cell. They can only hope it’s Alton or Revanth.

“A man,” Velda said with confidence.

“Don’t be silly.”

“I can smell him. Is he handsome? He smells delicious.”

The gnome frowned. “How can you possibly smell him?” Frowning, she realized her mistake. The door slammed shut.

“Can you really smell a man?” Astrid whispered.

Velda chuckled softly. “Not unless he’s in the room with me. But there is a sense of male-ness coming from the room. An energy, like something I’ve felt before. My spirit recognizes it, even if my other senses do not.”

“Is it Alton?”

“No. But I think it might be Revanth.”

“The men yesterday said man, not horse?”

“Yes.”

Astrid bounced excitedly. “Do you think so? Could it be?”

“We’ll see,” Velda said, but didn’t hold her breath. “We’ll hope.”

The strange figure appeared again the following day. Revanth ignored it, but felt as if eyes crept up his spine, digging into his mind. He was careful not to think of Alton, or their quest, while this went on. He stared at the wall, looking for cracks, and finding none. The person came back several more times, but did not speak. The examination of his mind went on longer each time, the person probing deeper. On one such probe, Revanth felt it getting too close, so he flashed up a memory of his night with the three sisters. Making it as explicit as possible, he filled his mind with desire and carnal thoughts. The figure gasped and the door slammed shut.

Not long after, the door swung open again. A tall, blue skinned woman with ebony hair stood framed in the doorway. “What is the meaning of this?” she demanded, stalking into the room.

“Meaning of what?” He stared at the ceiling, not looking at her.

“This!”

Images of him with Dannae, Pilar and Oonah flashed into his mind, all of them mid-climax. Viewing the women from his perspective, he saw and heard them, and himself, moaning with pleasure.

“Oh, that.” He smirked, sitting up. “That was a bit of fun, in exchange for information. About you, I’m guessing.”

“My daughters would never—” She snapped her lips shut.

“Would never tell your secrets? Betray you?” Revanth tilted his head to one side, then the other. “Unless they were lying, Rialtia. Is that why you hold one of them prisoner? Did she betray you?” He stood, advancing as far as his chains would allow. Tugging on them, he clanked them against the stone. Sparks flew.

Rialtia flinched, stepping back. Revanth grinned, laughing nastily. “Let me loose, I’ll love you, too.”

“Don’t be silly. I’ve had enough daughters.”

“Who needs to mate just for procreation? Where’s the fun in that? How long has it been since you lay with a man, Rialtia? You’re still a beautiful woman. Any man would be lucky to make you scream, as you reach fulfillment. As I made three lovely naiads scream. It was a deal we struck, but I’d have done it regardless. Your daughters are quite lovely. But none are as beautiful as you.”

Layering his voice with lust and promises, he spun his lies. He might not have magic in the ways of Alton and Velda, but he cast a spell of his own with his words. He could sense her weakening, drawn to him by his magnetic voice. She took a step closer, then another. When she was within his reach, Revanth spread his arms, flexing them against the chains. His muscles stood out in sharp relief.

“Come to me, my intoxicating Rialtia. Join me and I will make love to you until the end of our days. You’re still youthful, sensuous. See how you make my body swell?”

His pants clung to his muscular body, the dark contours in sharp contrast to the light stone behind him. There was no mistaking his dimensions. Rialtia’s eyes dropped to examine his groin with longing. She took another step, easily within his reach.

“Take me out,” he whispered huskily. “See me. Feel me. Suck—me.”

With trembling hands, she opened his pants, lowering them from his taut abdomen, setting him free. Gasping with delight, her fingers dropped to his firmness. Absorbed in her examination of his dimensions, she failed to notice his actions. Keeping his thoughts on coupling, Revanth made his move. As Rialtia touched him, he wrapped the chains around her throat and torso, binding her arms to her sides. His mouth on hers saved him from her words of power as the iron chains bound her body.

She struggled, trying to free herself, but iron was even more effective against fae than it was against humans. She grew weak, but Revanth didn’t relax his grip on her. He didn’t trust her for a moment.

“You lied to me,” she growled when he finally released her mouth. “Did you really mate with my daughters?”

“Oh, yes. Delightful, all of them Especially Oonah, so young and fresh. To be her first….” He drew a hissing breath between his teeth. “Delicious. If I could have her all the time, I’d never look at a human woman again.”

“Men! Such bastards!”

“Yet, you cannot have your precious daughters without us. And they have their uses—like abducting troublesome humans.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Alton & Velda Part 29 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerWhile Alton was distracted by the band of idiots, Revanth was kidnapped. He wakes to find himself in a stone prison, chained to the wall. And he has a visitor.

Revanth said nothing.

“Is he coming?”

“Is who coming?”

“Don’t play games. Is that misbegotten whore-son of a wood sprite coming to get you?”

Shaking his head, trying to conceal a grin, Revanth did his best to bite back on a laugh. It escaped him anyway. Something hit him hard in the face, though the figure hadn’t moved any closer. It felt like a slap of water, though it left no moisture behind.

“Tell me!”

Continuing to laugh, Revanth waved the question away and lay down, his back to the door.

“I can cause pain unlike anything you’ve suffered. You will talk eventually. Everyone talks.”

Closing his eyes, Revanth continued his charade. The door slammed shut, and a heavy bolt was driven home with an angry flourish. Concealing a shiver of very real fear, Revanth sent out a warning to Alton and desperately hoped his friend heard it.

Velda wasn’t sure what she was expecting when her cell door swung open. A guard, ready to drag her for torture? Release? Instead, her gaze dropped to just over three feet above the stone floor, where a tiny gnome stood. The woman’s eyes were a dark, sparking topaz, her hair was the pale gold of corn silk. She walked in carrying a tray of food. Smiling, she set it down on a small table, which appeared out of the floor.

“Well, don’t let it get cold,” she said, grinning. “I won’t tolerate a waste of food. Come. Eat.” The women exchanged a look. “It won’t bite you, nor will I. Eat,” she invited again.

Something in her tone held a note of command, as well as invitation. That, more than words and gestures, convinced Velda to do as she was bidden. They had no set plan of escape. Not knowing the layout of the building beyond, they could do nothing. They might exit their cell, only to be caught up somewhere else with no way out. Better to bide their time, and find out what they could, before trying anything.

“Thank you,” they chorused.

“What is your name?” Velda asked as they sat on chairs which also appeared out of the floor.

“You may call me Marigold.”

“Is it your name?” Astrid asked.

“It is what I am called.”

“Gnomes don’t often tell their true names,” Velda explained. “A name holds power. They have their common names, which they use daily. And their hidden names known only to a few—or none. To their peril, many have tried to find out a gnome’s true name.”

“What on earth for?” Astrid gasped.

“Because we are quite powerful,” Marigold replied. “Don’t let the small stature fool you. I could break you with my little finger.”

Astrid’s worried, startled gaze moved from Marigold to Velda. “Is that true?”

“So they have us believe. As I say, to their peril….”

Marigold bowed slightly, inclining her head. Velda took a bite of the food, breathing over it to check for enchantment or poison. Detecting nothing untoward, she allowed Astrid to eat. She ate sparingly, noticing that there was an absence of beverages. Once again, they had fruit to sustain them.

“May I have some water?” Astrid asked. “I’m quite parched. The fruit is delicious….”

“No. No liquids,” Marigold snapped. “Do you think my mistress a complete fool?”

“Not at all. It’s just…. I am very thirsty. While fruit is good, a glass of water or a cup of wine….”

Marigold’s glare shut her up. Once they had eaten, she whisked away the tray. The table and chairs receded into the floor once more, and she left. The door banged shut, the bolt shot to, and they were alone once more.

“I begin to wonder if we will see the light of day again,” Astrid sighed. “Or Revanth and Alton. If I am to die, I’d rather not be a virgin.”

Velda nodded. She had no desire to die. She was no virgin, but she would have liked to have a child. Filled with regrets, the women curled up and went to sleep.

The next morning—or what they assumed was morning, they were awakened with a banging and clattering next to them. They could hear guttural language, which Astrid didn’t understand, spoken in loud voices.

“They’ve captured someone!” Velda whispered. “A man!”

“Do you think? Could it be?” Astrid gasped. “What if it’s Revanth? Or Alton?”

“Then we hope that he is well, and see if we can find a way to help him, help us.”

The door opened as dramatically as it had yesterday. Again, Marigold stood there with a meal on a tray. There wasn’t any water, but the fruits she brought were very juicy. However, any drops that formed, Marigold whisked away with a swish of her fingers. Velda could feel the power of the little gnome. It thrummed and vibrated, but it was restrained—not by the gnome herself, by an outside source.

“Who’s next door?” Velda asked as the gnome was making her exit.

“No one.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Alton & Velda Part 28 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerAfter a long day’s travel, Alton and Revanth stop for the night. They are attacked by a handful of men, but Alton seems to be taking care of them.

“I can do this all night,” the wood sprite bragged.

The boy struggled to his feet, rushing the wood sprite once more. A knee to the face bloodied him, but didn’t stop him. The third pass, Alton held out his hand, holding the boy by the forehead as he swung useless fists at the wood sprite’s midsection. With another blow to the back, Alton dropped the boy. Stepping carelessly, he put his foot on the young man’s neck, pressing his face into the dirt. He gave a glance at the friends, but they had run away somewhere early on in the skirmish.

“Do you have a death wish?”

The boy squirmed. Alton increased pressure and the wiggling stopped.

“Do you have a death wish?” he repeated very slowly.

“No!” the boy roared. Getting a mouthful of dirt, he coughed and sneezed.

“Didn’t anyone tell you that attacking a well armed wood sprite, was a sure way to die? Or did you think your fae blood would save you? Even three quarters, or half, you are no match for a full blooded fae, especially one who’s lived as long as I.”

“You’re just a kid, barely my age!”

The words were blurred and muffled by the loose dirt, but Alton made them out well enough. Laughing caustically, he let the boy go.

“Son, you’re an idiot as well as pathetic. Don’t you know that fae don’t age like humans? I’m far older than I look. How old are you?”

“Sixteen.”

Alton chuckled. “I am nearly ten times that. Can you count that high?”

Rubbing the dirt from his face with his sleeve, the boy blushed.

“Thought not. Never assume you have the advantage.”

“You did.”

“Because I didn’t assume, I knew. Now, had you and your friends been as well trained as me, I might be the one bleeding and covered in dirt. A man traveling this road may seem an easy target, but would I be traveling with only one companion, if I weren’t fully capable of taking care of myself?”

“Companion? I see no companion.” The young face hardened, his aspect changed slightly. “While my friends and I distracted you, Old Man, someone’s made off with your friend.”

Alton’s eyes narrowed and the hair rose on the back of his neck.

“Do you think that even an ignorant farm boy wouldn’t have more sense than to attack a full fae, even with four to one odds? Never assume you have the advantage.”

Alton spared a quick glance for Revanth. His bedroll was there, tumbled around. A scuffle had ensued. While the boy distracted Alton, someone had made off with his companion.

“Gods balls! Who sent you?”

“Who do you think? My mother says hello.” In a blink, he was gone, disappearing into the woods as if he’d never been.

“You haven’t won, Rialtia!” he bellowed into the darkness. “You will never win!”

A mocking laugh echoed around him, melting into the darkness.

As he gathered up their scattered belongings, Alton tried to make contact with Revanth. He could only assume his friend was unconscious, because each time he met with only silence. Leading Revanth’s steed, he followed the lingering scent of his formerly horsey friend. Distinctive, it stood out like a beacon among all the other smells.

“I’m coming, brother,” he cast out to the shadows of the night. “I’m coming.”

Revanth woke with a very sore head. He was chained to a wall of smooth marble. Stripped to the waist, only his pants were left. His feet were bare, his sword gone from his side. He sat up, hearing his name called inside his head.

“What?” he replied in the same way.

“Oh, thank the gods. Where are you?”

“Alton?”

“Who else speaks to you like this? Of course! Describe your surroundings.”

“A bed hewn of marble in a room carved from the same. No doors, no windows. The ceiling is domed.”

“You have plenty of air?”

“Yes. Why?”

“No doors, no windows? No air.”

“There’s a flow of air, I can feel it. I can’t trace the source. Where am I?”

“That’s what I want to know. I’m following your scent. At least you were taken overland—thus far.”

“The air is dry, almost cracking. The stone is warm, as if it had taken heat from something else—fire is unlikely. Sun?”

“Don’t try to figure it out. If I lose your scent, I’ll call you.”

“As you wish. In the meantime—maybe the girls are here? The first chance I get, I’ll look.”

“Be safe.”

“And you.”

A door appeared in the wall in front of him. It swung open slowly and dramatically, gradually revealing the person behind it.

“I see you’re awake,” a voice said. The tone and pitch did nothing to clarify the speaker. “Is he coming?”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Alton & Velda Part 27 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerThe men have finally reached a huge river, teeming with naiads. He realizes the time is right to use his gift from the old naiad.

Revanth did as he was told. Kicking the fire out, he swung into his saddle, holding Alton’s horse by the reins. Alton took something from the bag, which looked like gravel. Holding it in his hand, he whispered a few words over it, casting it upon the water in as straight a line as he could. A low rumble began, which Revanth didn’t hear, but felt in his teeth. It grew louder, more insistent. As they watched, a line of flat, interlocking, hexagonal stones rose from the water. Stretching nearly halfway across the river, they provided a stable base to walk. The water rose quickly on the other side, but still coursed through the open half.

Alton sprang on his horse, kicking him to a canter. Revanth followed. When they were nearly at the end of the walkway, Alton slung another handful of stones, after the same whispered words, they also grew and rose.

“Quickly!” Alton yelled.

Already, the naiads and their horses charged the stones, clashing into them, trying to remove them from the river. Since the stones came up from the riverbed, there was little they could do. Revanth and Alton trotted across, the sounds of angry screams and whinnies in their wake.

“Did you use them all?”

“Not by a long chalk. I could ford the river in a dozen more places, and still have a few left.”

“Did you store them in your food bag?”

“No. That is only for food. Something, such as stones, would not work. And I hesitate to introduce an item like that into it. Stoneware containers work, because they have been fired and changed. Live rock….” He shrugged.

“Live? As in—living?”

“All stone lives,” Alton said as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“Stone. Lives?”

Shaking his head, Alton kicked his horse to a canter once more. “There are some things, human, that you simply have to take on faith.”

Angry cries and neighing followed them as they rode swiftly away. Once out of earshot, they slowed to a walk, thanking the horses for their speed. This night, they would spend in the wild, for there were no inns for a least a league. Making their camp that night, Alton used his tinderbox for the first time, loving it immediately. He was so enamored of it, he sat and played with it for some time after the fire was started. Soon, his skillful, long fingers were able to make a spark with just one hand.

“You’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on that folly,” Revanth said, with a shake of his head.

“On the contrary. I can think of all manner of instances that it might come in handy.” For the next hour, he worked on the single handed technique, eventually trying with his right hand, which wasn’t his dominant one. He was less sure with it, but was still able to spark tinder nine times out of ten attempts.

Shaking his head in wonder, Revanth settled down for the night. Alton took first watch, continuing to play with his new skill. Though he looked preoccupied, and as if he weren’t paying attention, little escaped his extraordinary senses. A twig snapping nearby caught his attention and he swiveled slightly toward the sound. A man stood a few yards away. For him to be that close, he must have incredible woodcraft. It wasn’t something that most humans were capable of. In fact, he didn’t know of any, in all his wide travels, would could accomplish that feat—sneaking up on a wood sprite in the woods.

“Who are you?” he said, rising slowly, glad his sword was near to hand. He drew it, slowly, holding it casually in his left hand.

“I let you hear me, Sprite. Do I look like a fool to you?”

Alton tipped his head, nodding. “Yes. But I’m willing to cast aside first impressions.”

“The more fool you for engaging me when my friends come up behind you.”

“You mean the burly fellow with fetid breath to my right behind, and the slow one with the club foot, who’s trying to sneak up quietly to my left? Or do you mean the idiot in the tree with a longbow? Awkward choice.”

“A lone wood sprite thinks he can take on four of us?”

“Four to one? The odds aren’t evenly stacked, are they?”

“Surrender now, and we’ll leave your ears—maybe.”

“I meant,” Alton snickered, weaving an intricate pattern with his sword. “Not evenly stacked—for you.”

His foot shot out, kicking the club footed man like a mule. The oaf to his right got a fist to his balls. Alton grabbed the man in front of him, swinging around before the bowman could get off his shot. The bow snagged in the branches, and he dropped his arrow. The quiet man struggled, all feet and elbows as he tried to free himself.

Alton chuckled. “Boy, you picked the wrong man to attack.” He shook his head. He shoved the young man from him, tripping him so he fell on his knees. “Go home, child. And next time, send a man to ambush me.”

“I’m not a boy! I have lain with women….”

“One, perhaps—paid in full, was she? Just because you can use your pecker, doesn’t make a man of you.”

The young man rushed him, coming in low and fast, quicker than most humans. Alton braced himself, lowering his center of gravity and met him. The boy impacted with Alton’s firm abdomen. Gasping for breath, he tried to topple the wood sprite. Rather than wasting anymore time, Alton brought his elbow down on the boy’s back, knocking him to his knees once more.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Alton & Velda Part 26 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerThe naiads don’t at first believe Alton’s version of events, but come to realize he’s telling the truth. Unwilling to break their deal, Oonah declares that she will help them. She says that Rialta will need to be stopped, so her revenge can’t be visited upon her daughters, for helping them.

Alton squared his shoulders. “Now, someone’s talking sense. What do you think needs to be done?”

“I have one question for you, Alton. Can you wield fire?”

They crossed the river the next morning, with the naiads smoothing the water to bring them safely over. Each of the sisters gave Revanth a kiss and a gift. Alton got nothing from the older two, but Oonah kissed both cheeks, giving him her blessing. When the others weren’t looking, she slipped him a bag.

“It’s not much, but it will help you. All it needs is a spark and it will ignite. Be careful that nothing you care about is near, when it does.”

“Thank you, Little Sister.”

“Do you really mean to marry Velda?”

“If she’ll still have me, yes. A wood sprite can settle down, if the right woman wants him. If I make a binding oath, I will abide by it. And who knows, perhaps a wood sprite can sire little saplings on a naiad. Such things are rumored.”

“Wives tales,” she said, shaking her head.

“A man can hope.”

“Yes, he can. Farewell, brother.”

They hugged once more and the men were on their way. They found horses, and struck a deal with a young man who looked so much like Oonah, the men were sure they must share a parent. He gave them a good price, throwing in the necessary tack for them. They paid for a couple saddlebags each, and bedrolls.

“Do you have a tinderbox?” the young man, whose name was Nils, asked.

“What is that?” Alton asked.

“Flint and steel. A way to make a spark and start a fire.”

“You can carry such a thing?”

“Yes. I make them myself from scrap metal the smith sells me. Even if it’s burned, the metal works. Some use a sharp stone on a knife blade.”

Alton hissed, putting his hands over his beloved sword and dagger.

“Exactly! Why dull or nick a precious blade? Here. For a man who appreciates the worth of his blades.” Nils handed Alton a small leather pouch. Inside were a lump of metal and a jagged piece of flint. “Snap them sharply together to get a spark for your tinder and start your fire as you would any other.”

“My thanks! This is a splendid gift.” He gave the young man a sly wink. “Is the lass, Oonah a relative? A sister, perhaps?”

“Oh, aye.” He smiled, nodding. “My sister, three years older, but you’d never know it. It’s amazing Rilatia mated with the same man twice, but he let her down the second time. She wanted a daughter and was quite disappointed when I was born.” He shrugged. “Such is the nature of naiads.”

“True. Well, thank you for this splendid gift. May you prosper, Nils, and father many daughters.” He winked at the young man as he swung onto his horse.

After two days riding, the men were on the other side of the hills. Ten yards in front of them, the green land sloped to a massive river. More turbulent than all the rivers they’d crossed, it teemed with life. Naiads jumped and laughed in the waves and ripples. Their white fairy horses clustered together, creating wild waters like nothing they’d ever seen.

“How do we cross this?” Revanth asked, glaring at the river as if it had done him a disservice. “There are no bridges. No ferries. Unless you can levitate, we’re stuck here.”

“Who says I can’t?”

Revanth’s snort of disbelief was very horse-like. “If you could, you’d have done it already.”

“We sweet talk ’em.”

“They’re probably all kin to Rialtia. You’re sweet talk extends to lunatic naiad sorceresses, and their kin?”

“You sweet talk ’em. You made the other girls happy.”

“I’m not parting with anymore of my—seed,” Revanth said, putting a protective hand over his groin. “I’ll have enough to explain when I get Astrid back. If she doesn’t kill or castrate me, I might live long enough to marry the girl.”

Tch, where’s the fun in that?” Alton slid off his horse and pulled his food pouch from the saddle bag. “First, we eat.”

Well provisioned by the naiads and dryads, along with delicacies Alton had picked up along his way, they made a fine meal. Alton had some sunny honey mead which he shared with his friend, but only a few sips.

“It’s strong enough to knock a horse down, let alone a man who used to be one.”

“You’re still drinking it,” Revanth pointed out.

“And I’m not human—or a horse.” But he saw the sense of it and put the mead away.

Once the food was packed up once more, Alton took something else from his bag. Hefting it in his left hand, he undid the neck with his right.

“What’s that?”

“Remember the old dryad in Oak Mother’s grove?”

“Of course. Why?”

“She gave me this before we left, telling me I’d know what to do when the time came. I thought she meant in fighting Eleion, or the puka wielding naiad, but she didn’t. The time has come. And I know. Grab the horses and prepare to ride immediately.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Alton & Velda Part 25 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerRevanth has his time with the naiads, successfully fulfilling their part of the bargain. In return, the women tell them where to go. It is with great alarm that Alton discovers that it’s Velda’s mother Rialta, who holds them. In their prison, Velda and Astrid are practicing a spell to help them.

Astrid shuddered. “I don’t think I could stand that. My father and I are very close. My brothers are my dearest friends. I am the only girl, of six.”

“As Alton is the only son—so far as he knows. He has more sisters than can easily be counted. Both parents enjoy the infidelity of their kind.”

“Was that hard for you to accept? His—cheating?”

Velda shrugged, shaking her head. “With a mother who has bedded more men than she can easily remember? No.”

“But for you. Has there been anyone else?”

Velda shook her head, sighing softly.

The door rattled and both women sat up, staring at the handle as it turned. A heavy bolt shot back from outside and the door swung slowly open.

“Yes, despite you trying to kill her,” Pilar snapped. “Our mother lives. If she is holding our sister, it’s because of you!” She stood, lunging at him.

Alton slithered away. Oonah and Dannae held her. Revanth imposed himself between, and Pilar settled down.

“Is there truth to this? Did you try to kill her?”

“She came after Velda, and did her best to kill me. Anything I did to her was self-defense.” He stood, head and shoulders thrown back defiantly.

“You stole our sister from us! Of course she came after you. What did you think you were doing, wood sprite?”

“Velda followed me! I never did anything to entice anyone—except bathe. I had no idea it was your home. I was hot, tired, thirsty. I took my rest in a place more lovely than any, I can since remember. It brought me peace, solace. I had no notion you were there. Velda fell in love with me, and came to me. I was lonely, she was breathtakingly beautiful. And she wanted me. Why would I say no?”

“So, their mother found you?” Revanth gasped.

“Several days later, we were some distance, wrapped in one another’s embrace, and Rialtia found us. She attacked, and I defended myself. I am good with my sword, brother—sisters. Velda did not say it was her mother. I left her for dead, and we ran away. It wasn’t until later that I found out who it was. By then, I assumed she was dead, and it was too late to go back.”

“That’s a lie!” Pilar’s temper flared. “Our sister wouldn’t let you kill our mother, and do nothing!”

Alton took a defiant step forward, leaning aggressively toward her. “Call me a liar once more, and I will do to you, what I did to your mother,” he growled.

“Enough!” Revanth raised up his hands, holding the two apart. “It’s over. She lived. And apparently hates Velda as much as she hates Alton. It’s obvious, from what you’ve been told, she altered the events somewhat in the retelling.”

“Our mother spoke the truth,” Pilar insisted. “He lies!”

Alton moved so swiftly, Revanth couldn’t stop him. The tip of his sword hovered in front of Pilar’s throat. With a light swish, he moved his wrist, slicing into her throat just above the collar bone. It was a minor cut, but quick and painful. It demonstrated not only his skill, but his restraint.

“Your mother spoke the truth as she saw it—perhaps. I tell the truth as I saw it. Ask your sister which version is closer. I had no argument with your mother, save what she brought to me. I have none with you, save what you, yourselves, levy against me. I want only to get back the love of my life, and marry her.”

“A wood sprite and naiad? Why would you pursue such a bond? You can’t have children! Our sister will remain barren as long as she’s with you, not adding to our numbers. You stole from our mother, that’s why she followed, and tried to kill you. Why she pursues you even now.”

“I stole nothing from her! Velda came of her own free will.”

“You stole her granddaughters,” Oonah said softly. “And great-grand…. Generations of naiads, who will not live because our sister went with you. In her mind, that was like murder.”

Devastated, Alton hung his head. His sword slid back in the scabbard with a soft snick. Hands cradling his head, he wept. Sobs wracked his body. Oonah stepped forward, taking him in her arms.

“I didn’t know. No one told me….”

“No one told you that when those of the wood and the water mate, they can’t have children? Where did you grow up?” Dannae snarled.

“No one told him why Mama wanted him dead,” Oonah sighed softly. “Now the impact of his actions has come to rest upon him. Leave him be. Though you may not approve of this union, he is our brother, by way of his union with our sister.” She led Alton back to the rock where he’d been sitting. “Now, all arguments aside. We struck a deal to help them in any way we can, tell them all we know. I will not bear the punishment of a failed deal, because of a decade old complaint. He loves our sister. Isn’t that enough?”

Oonah’s chin came up as she stared down her sisters. Dannae and Pilar settled once more.

“Very well,” Dannae began. “Our mother is, as I said, extremely powerful. She is also somewhat unhinged. One does not make such magical deals as she has, not to come away unscathed. She is holding our sister, which puts Velda in danger.”

“And the rest of us,” Oonah added. “She wants you dead,” she told Alton. “And she is not above using Velda to get that. And when she is done with you, she will kill our sister, your friends, and probably us. So we need a plan whereby we defeat her, and live.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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