Archives

Alton & Velda Part 34 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerAided by the puka, Alton discovers Marigold’s true name is Topaz. He also discovers where his friends are being held, and that the women won’t know him.

Topaz shrieked, her eyes blazing at him. Laughing, Alton went inside. The few servants he met, scurried out of his way.

He stopped one of them with a gentle hand on her arm. “Mistress Rialtia is a prisoner. Mistress Topaz is wrapped up, at the moment, so I’m in charge. I’m Alton, and I need help with a few things. Do you think you and the others could assist me? When I’m done, you can go.”

“Go? Where?”

“Home. That’s if you want to. I can’t imagine a forest nymph like you enjoys being in the desert.”

“Not at all. You’ll release us?”

“Yes. But first, I need to get my friends free.”

“The black haired one is in the dungeon. This way.’

Alton followed her, wary for attack. Not everyone was going to like the new regime. He expected resistance, and wasn’t surprised when he got it. It didn’t come from the nymph. She was, as Alton suspected, ready to leave and wanted to get her part done as soon as possible. However, Topaz must have friends among the guards, because he was attacked before he got across the courtyard. Already, two men were trying to free the gnome from her binding, only to get trapped themselves.

The men who attacked him, had more sense than to touch him, but that made them no less dangerous. One had a crossbow, another a pike. He’d crossed the courtyard, and entered the great hall, when a bolt smacked into the door beside him. More annoyed than anything, Alton merely slammed the door shut behind him. That’s when the pikeman struck, coming at him from behind a tapestry. He got tangled in it, but slashed his way through, rushing Alton.

The nymph screeched and ran in the opposite direction. Alton had no choice but to draw his sword and dagger. Against a pike, it was minimal protection, but his fast thinking saved him from a worse fate. His dagger in his right hand, sword in his left, he caught the pike, crossing the blades to prevent an upswing. For a few precious seconds, he had the man trapped. It was all he needed to kick sharply, connecting with the pikeman’s knee. A satisfying crack, followed by a yowl of pain, and the pikeman fell to the floor. Alton snatched up the pike, throwing it across the room, burying the tip in the door. A yelp from outside told him the tip had gone through, surprising someone on the other side.

“Anyone else want a go at me? Or would you rather go home? I’m here to end this, you fugging lumpties!” he bellowed as he searched for the dungeon steps.

After much trial and error, he finally found what he was after. The spiral stair was long and dark at the bottom. Taking a torch from up top, he carried it in his right hand. Sword in his dominant left, he trotted down the stairs. Listening carefully as he neared the bottom, he heard the usual moans and groans one anticipated in a dungeon. There was also the crack of a whip, followed by muffled curses.

“Revanth! Is that you, my friend?”

“Alton! Make this idiot quit hitting me, would you?”

“Gladly. Where are you?”

“Ahead and to your right.”

The sounds had stopped, but Revanth’s curses hadn’t. Seconds later, Alton burst into the room, torch and sword in hand. A gnarled gnome held a whip which was hardly big enough to qualify. He was short, scrawny, wizened and probably the oldest living creature Alton had ever seen, next to Old John. He brandished the whip at Revanth, then at Alton. Revanth was suspended by chains from the ceiling. His shirt was removed, his boots gone. His back was covered with welts and he looked mad as a wet hornet.

With the tip of his sword, Alton forced him closer to Revanth. When the gnome was in range, the warrior prince wrapped his legs around the gnome’s neck and squeezed until the gnarled old coot fell on the ground.

“Is he dead?” Revanth asked as Alton undid the cuffs which held him.

“No.”

“More’s the pity. I hoped I’d cracked the pissing bugger’s neck.”

Alton examined his friend. The wounds were scattered around about halfway up his torso both front and back. “This doesn’t look too bad.”

“He’s short, isn’t he,” Revanth said in a matter of fact tone. “Doesn’t even come up to my hip.”

Shrugging, Alton helped his friend stand. “So?”

“So—he’s got no reach much above the knees. Think, man!” He bent over, hissing.

“Oh, the dear gods. He didn’t—” Alton hissed as well, covering his balls with one hand.

“No, but that doesn’t mean the little prick didn’t try!” He kicked the gnome in the head and was delighted to see him bleed profusely. “The girls are upstairs, but they don’t know me. They called on Marigold to lock me up!”

“Her real name is Topaz. Might come in handy, knowing that.”

Revanth nodded his thanks.

They limped up the stairs. When they were near the top, Alton left Revanth, doing a quick check for trouble. He didn’t find any. The castle had a deserted air, for which he was grateful.

“I suppose I should go back and free the other prisoners,” he remarked casually as he helped Revanth sit.

“Might be nice of you.”

“You’ll be all right here?”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Alton & Velda Part 33 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerAlton finally arrives at the prison in the high desert. Revanth greets him at the door, urging him to come inside. Is it really his friend, or something else?

“Where’s Revanth? For you are not he. Firstly, he’d have told me immediately about the girls, not insisted I come inside. Nor would he have complained about my tardiness. He’d have been glad to see me, regardless of how long it took. And not the least, he can stand full sun without being burned. So—whoever you are, you have explaining to do.”

Alton grabbed the Revanth look alike, tugging so that the man’s hand hissed and sizzled in the sun. He watched as the skin blistered and smoked.

“I can stand here all day,” he explained conversationally. “The sun doesn’t hurt me. In fact, my nut brown skin likes the sun. So, unless you want to lose a hand, speak.”

“All right!” The man shook Alton’s hand off his. Putting the blistered skin in his mouth, he licked it. His eyes caught the light, the color oddly muted, the pupils strange.

“You’re the puka!” Alton snarled, cursing loudly. “Where are my friends? What have you done with them?”

“Enough, wood sprite!” an imperious voice rang out from inside the courtyard. “Come inside and see for yourself.”

“I’ll stay out here, thanks. Who might you be?”

“You can call me Marigold. I am mistress here, now. Rialtia is—indisposed.”

“And my friends?”

“Cared for.” The diminutive gnome carried herself with a swagger—as much as a three foot gnome can do that. “Come in.”

“No. Thanks anyway, I’d rather not. Seems that folks go in there, and don’t come out. I’ll take my chances out here.”

“Meanwhile, your friends remain inside.”

“Yep. But soon, I’ll figure out a few things. Then we’ll see if that doesn’t change.”

“You fool, I have more magic in my little finger…!”

His chuckle made Marigold shudder. It was a terrible, mirthless sound. Alton smiled, but the mirth of it didn’t reach his eyes.

“Dear Lady, no one likes a braggart.”

“I speak the truth.”

Alton shrugged. “No one likes smugness either. Is it your power I feel around here? Delicious. Sort of spicy, with an aftertaste of loam. Earthy….” He smiled wickedly. “I like earth.”

As he spoke, the sand crept up her legs, pinning her in place. The fake Revanth also tried to move, but couldn’t.

“You evil wood sprite! Why, I’ll—mpht!” A glob of sand filled her mouth, muffling her words. Her hands were pinned to her sides as the sand rose from her feet to enclose her in an earthen cocoon.

“Do you intend to give me problems?” Alton directed at the puka.

It stepped aside, hands raised. Alton trapped it, too, but left its mouth free.

“But if you try anything, I’ll fill your lungs with sand. Do you understand?”

The puka nodded. “She’s strong.” He tipped his head at Marigold, who was going red in the face. “And if she gets free, she won’t hesitate to kill you.”

“Then she’d better not get free.”

“Do you know how to find a gnome’s weakness?”

“Her secret name.”

It was the puka’s turn for a mirthless laugh. “If you release me, I’ll tell you hers, as I leave.”

Alton paused. To know the gnome’s name would give him power over her. However, if the puka was wrong, he might have signed his own death decree. Easing the sand down, he allowed movement of the hands. From the knees down, the puka was trapped.

“The name first, then I free you.”

“How can I trust you?”

“I’m not the one who captured you, forced you to work, or mistreated you. But I’m holding more cards than you.” He tiled his head. “Well?”

“Topaz,” the puka said.

Marigold’s eyes widened, and she screamed. It was a horrible sound, muffled by the sand over her mouth.

“Excellent. Topaz, when I release you, you will do my bidding. Do you understand?”

She nodded, glaring at them both.

“Good. You can go,” he said to the puka. “But if you come back, the end will be ugly. Hey. Why’d you tell me?”

“As big a bitch as Rialtia was to work for, this one is worse. Don’t release her until you must. And don’t trust her, because she’s a bigger liar than the naiad. Your friend is in the dungeon,” he puka said, taking his own aspect once more. Built like an albino horse, he tossed his head. “And the ladies are held upstairs in the north tower. But they won’t know you. Rialtia took their memories when Revanth imprisoned her. I think, however, if you ask very nicely, Topaz will help you in any way she can. Won’t you, Topaz you iron hearted bitch?” With those words, he disappeared in a puff of fetid smoke.

“So, Topaz,” Alton said, walking a little nearer, but not so close that they touched. “Your magic is very tasty indeed. I imagine that’s why Rialtia held you for so long, and how she became so powerful. Probably, it’s how she found you to begin with. That much raw energy is asking for someone to siphon it. Now, that someone is me.” Smiling nastily, he leaned a little closer. “Don’t worry. I won’t make you do anything worse than she did. In fact….” He winked and leered at her. “You might even enjoy it.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Alton & Velda Part 32 by Dellani Oakes

alton and velda cover smallerRevanth manages to imprison Rialta. However, when he finds the women, they are under a spell and don’t recognize him. Marigold has him captured and goes to see to Rialta.

Slinging the door to Revanth’s cell open, Marigold confronted the helpless Rialtia. Hissing a curse, she pointed at the naiad, who clutched her throat, eyes rolling up in her head, as she collapsed on the bench. Convulsing, she twitched and shook. With a nasty smile, Marigold watched for several minutes until the seizure eased. A snap of her fingers, and the tremors began once more.

“How does it feel to be helpless, you vile harpy? To have your body do things you don’t want? Because someone has power over you. Evil. Vicious. Cruel. My children are grown, my home gone, my husband married to another. Because of you. May you rot!”

The door slammed shut and she stormed down the stairs looking for Revanth.

Alton was at an impasse. He’d lost the scent of Revanth, but caught enough of a hint on the wind, to know the general direction. The trouble was, the fair lands had ended and a desert sprawled before him. The harsh sun on the bright sand nearly blinded him. A child of cool woods, this sand and heat were almost too much for him. However, sand was dirt, wasn’t it? After reaching that conclusion, he stopped by the edge of the desert, running his fingers through the sand. Sending out questions, he waited for answers. If Revanth had been carried across, the creatures and plants of the sand would know. Constructing a hut of sand, he waited.

His thirst grew and a line of small insects showed him where to find water. Moving the sand aside, he created a well and lifted it until he could drink from the cool water below. Leveling out the sand, he made an oasis, leaving it as a gift for the inhabitants of the deserted land.

After a time, the wind brought him answers. His friend had gone to the northwest, steadily, directly. He was trapped at a castle built from living stone. Impervious to moisture, it graced the air, but sealed out sand. All life avoided it, choosing to take the chance of skirting death, rather than a sure end in the castle. Removing the horses’ saddles and tack, he took what belongings he could from the saddle bags, and let them go .With trepidation, he set out at dusk, seeking—something.

Night fell, and with it a deep cold. Glad he’d taken the bedrolls, Alton wrapped one around himself as he trudged along. Wishing for the companionship of the horses, he cast about with his mind. Finding a pack of jackals on the hunt, he dropped back into his own mind. Casting out once more, he touched something, but what? It might have been Revanth, but he wasn’t sure. Seeking more deeply, he thought he touched Velda. Recoiling, he realized he’d touched her mother’s mind instead. Filled with lust and longing, as well as the murderous, insane images of herself with—a horse? No. A black haired man—Revanth.

“Ew!” he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

The idea of Revanth with Rialtia filled him with disgust. However, he realized it was a part his brother was playing. Rather than interfere, he joined his energy with Revanth’s, doing his best to help his friend seduce Velda’s mother. There had to be something seriously wrong with that reasoning, but he knew he had to help keep Revanth safe.

The sun rose and the heat began almost immediately. To shade himself, Alton raised a shell of sand. It took a little while to perfect, but he firmed it beneath his feet and scooted himself along. Strangely, the magic didn’t make him tired. He felt revived and rejuvenated.

“There must be a source of power nearby,” he murmured as he skimmed the sand. “A very strong one.” Tapping into it further, he used it to guide him to the castle where his friend was captured. Did he dare hope that there lady loves were also here? It made sense. If this was Rialtia’s stronghold, why have them anywhere else?

Finally at the door, he shook the sand from himself, thanked his various companions, and eyed the edifice. Power unlike he’d ever felt, thrummed inside. Its energy seductive, sensual, exciting, he gave himself over to pure pleasure for a moment, before raising his hand to knock. Before knuckles touched wood, the portcullis rose, and the heavy door swung open.

“What took you so long?” Revanth said, motioning his stunned friend inside.

“Um….” Alton stopped at the door, toes on the line between inside and out. “Took me so long? I’ve walked the fekking desert! Two days travel in this heat, not to mention a day or two before that.”

He wasn’t entirely sure of the passage of time, but it had been more than two days, and less than a week—or so his inner self told him.

“Are the girls here? Have you saved them? What’s going on? Where’s Rialtia?”

Revanth opened the door wider. “Come inside and see for yourself. It’s a tale worth telling.”

Struck by the peculiarity of it all, Alton paused. “Were you captured?”

“Yes, I woke to find myself in chains.”

“But now you’re free.”

“Some quick thinking and good luck….” He struck a pose. “Here I am.”

“And the girls? Are they free too?”

Revanth’s face clouded. “Yes. But—you need to come inside.”

“Why? If the girls are here, let’s go. I’ve found a way to cross….”

“Just come inside!” Revanth lunged forward, grabbing at Alton.

The wood sprite jumped back and Revanth’s hand seemed to sizzle in the dessert sun. Gasping and cursing, he stuck his hand in his mouth.

“Damn you, wood sprite! Come inside!”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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

To Buy Dellani’s Books