Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #9

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.

I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, who are being torn from each other on an alien world. This week the prompts were: “Are you hung enough?” or “crazy in love” or use a pickle or have a character dye his or her hair, or “I’ll roast you over an open flame if you...” or make a Queen reference or use a lap dance or “desperately seeking...” or use: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (without singing Scarborough Fair lol) or use: “Two’s company, but three’s...”

Well, I cheesed a bit (okay, a lot) with the Queen reference.


Enjoy!

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Sealed in Stone #9



Torrey watched Cyrrhi lift the amulet by its chain. The stone tablet dangled and turned before her scrutinizing eyes. “This is precious to you?”

“Yes.” He understood why she would ask. Compared to the priceless workmanship surrounding her, the amulet looked like child’s work. Because it was. Willem had been a boy of nine when he made it.

When Cyrrhi detected the clasp she took the amulet between her fingers and flicked at the latch. The stone halves opened to reveal what lay within. Her interest renewed, she touched each curl of human hair. “To whom do these belong?”

“A friend.”

She picked out the top lock of hair and held it up. Glints of red glowed from the brown strands, but her gold-bright gaze warmed as she put that lock back and lifted the second lock, which blazed from her thumb and forefinger like a candle flame. “This color,” she said, “is beyond rare. It burns like polished copper. Is this also from your friend?”

“Yes, my Queen, from when he was a child. It darkened as he grew older.”

“Even the darker is beautiful. I have heard of this color. Eshuun’s Queen possesses such a one, a male with hair the color of sunfall, said to be the most beautiful consort ever chosen by a Queen.” Eshuun was the most powerful of all noms. “Why was my Voice not shown this friend of yours?”

Torrey’s tongue swept his mouth and he swallowed, trying to keep the dryness in his throat from his voice. “He is a stoneworker. When he was a boy, there was an accident… he has a scar”—he traced the shape of Willem’s mark on his cheek—“and the kumbharani would not present a blemished youth as a prospect.”

“Is he ugly now?”

He should say yes, but he had vowed to never lie to his Queen. “No. Not to me.”

Cyrrhi returned the locks of hair to the amulet. Leaning toward him, she passed the chain over his head and placed it around his neck. Torrey closed his eyes as her lips brushed his forehead.

“You may keep this ornament. I have no desire to wound your heart. Keep this friend near, so long as you are faithful to me.”

He had no choice. For the rest of his life or hers, she was everything he would ever know. The thickness in his throat came from knowing he and Willem would never be together again. Never. To his relief, Cyrrhi pulled away and resumed lounging. She studied him with more interest now.

“Do you understand your place with me?”

He should have known the answer to that question. His mother and the women of the kumbh had told him his place, but somehow in the passage from kumbh to nom those words had been drained of meaning. All he had to offer was the husk of an answer.

“I am your consort, Chosen, the one at your side.”

“Do you know what that means?”

“I know what it means to me, my Queen. Will you tell me what it means to you?”

Her hand sought his and covered it. “It means you are my Chosen, the one at my side. You are the one all will see. The one I want them to see.” She released his hand and brushed the hair back from his eyes so his gaze could better meet hers. “Arton was dear to me, and so will you be. The nom will watch my treatment of you, seeking signs that I am becoming foolish with age.”

“I don’t understand—”

He stopped speaking when she placed her finger on his lips. “Queens enjoy ri’im males in many ways. One male is not always sufficient for our appetites—or our uses—but sometimes… sometimes one will be a yavnath love and unite us with our Goddess. Arton was my love, and irreplaceable. I am not asking you to be everything to me, the way he was. But a Queen without a Chosen is at the center of a storm, buffeted on every side by ambitions of enemies and allies alike. I have chosen you to give them one less thing to covet.”

Because if he was the Queen’s Chosen, no one else could be.

“I will give your enemies no reason to hope you will put me aside. I would never shame my kumbh, or you.”

“That is why I chose you. I can rely on you to uphold my honor, and your own.” With a sigh, Cyrrhi sagged back onto the cushions. Her hand went to her silk sheathed belly and began to rub circles on it. “As you can see, I will bear my brood soon. I do not have the energy to lay proper claim to you tonight.”

As Pesht’s Queen, she had borne many broods. Eighty four, if he had been told the correct number. A nomari Queen was capable of producing a brood three times a year, giving birth to embryonic young subsequently nurtured in the nom’s secret core by means humans never witnessed. Only the nom’s drones—nomari males—were more closely guarded. That was because they were fragile and dim-witted and died after sexual intercourse. No one knew why.

“But am I to stay with you?”

“Yes. Let me look at you and see Arton’s face again. Talk with me. I promised your people I would protect you, and so I shall.”

Torrey exhaled. Tonight he would not be called upon. It was a relief not to sense anything carnal about Cyrrhi’s interest in him. It was not what he’d expected.

Nomari legends overflowed with queens who conquered noms to acquire drones with which to reproduce. A queen in nuptial phase was driven to mate… and kill for that privilege.

Nuptial madness was why nomari queens coveted human males as possessions.

A human male could not impregnate a queen… but he could screw one. And he could do it without dying.


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2 comments:

  1. Hmmm - That was because they were fragile and dim-witted and died after sexual intercourse. No one knew why.

    I think it is much safer that Torrey's human.

    Deliver more than one child a year - ugh. :-)
    Tweeted.

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  2. Hmm sounds very much like a bee hive or an ant nest, with a queen, disposable drones and nurses. Torrey is right there in the middle of it. It sounds to me as if there might be hope. As long as Torrey doesn't take it outside the hive maybe he could take a lover?

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