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, whose love for each other makes for an uneasy fit in an alien society. This week the prompts were: “You look like a vampire on a day pass...” or “Hold your water!” or use a rare bottle of wine or “Don’t you wiggle your .... at me, mister!” or use: a ball, a dog, and a scarf or “Hand me that, will you?” or use smeared mascara or make a Mr. Ed reference or use a beautiful sunset or use oatmeal in some way.
Sealed in Stone #20
The palanquin was stopped at the arched gateways into Pesht. The vehicle bore the Queen’s colors, but that did not allow them to bypass scrutiny. Warriors and workers were singularly devoted but not terribly bright and could be fooled, especially by humans or other queens. The knock of a spear upon the door frame prompted Lena to move just the edge of the curtain aside. Willem quickly pulled on his veil until it fully covered him again and then sat on his hands so those were covered also.
“We’re stone workers entering on the Queen’s business,” Lena said to whoever stood without.
“Papers.” The voice spoke nomari with the light tone of a native. Willem was glad he had learned enough nomari to understand her speech. Lena quickly turned over their documents. A moment later, the voice spoke again. “I smell a male among you. These do not mention you are transporting a male.”
“He is a stone worker also.”
“If that is so, you will not mind if I see him.”
“Fuck, a queen.” Rue swore under her breath. “Hand me that, will you?” she said to Shel. Willem flinched as she leaned in and whispered. “Not a sound!”
As Lena argued with the queen, Rue reached under Willem’s veil and scored the scarred side of his face with a rasp. The tool tore at the thin ridge of tissue and he tried to duck his head, but she grabbed it in the angle of her elbow and held him fast. After she dropped the tool, her fingers pinched like biting things at his nose and lips. Her hand retreated just before Lena opened the curtain to allow their questioner to see within.
Through the dense fabric covering his eyes, Willem saw an oval face with golden hued skin and wide, almond shaped eyes with irises bright as amber. A headdress of copper and worm teeth held back the long yellow hair of a nomari queen. A very young queen, he realized, because no one important would be standing guard duty. Her amber gaze, sharp and suspicious, swept his veiled and robed figure as if trying to cut the fabric away.
“As is proper, vayya.” Lena deployed the honorific for a queen.
“He cannot enter unless I see him.”
“We are on the Queen’s business—”
“Your document does not specify you may have a male with you. You say he is a worker, but where is proof of that? How do I know you are not smuggling him inside to sell him? Uncover him so I may see he is what you claim.”
Marda cocked her head at the queen. “What else might he be?”
The queen lifted her upper lip unpleasantly. “The Kumbh’Vittuim claims one of their young males is missing. I am charged to make sure no one brings him into the nom. Uncover your male so I may ascertain if he is yours.”
When Rue began to lift his veil, Willem helped and even pulled it all the way back from his face. Making an already irritable queen angry by appearing uncompliant would hardly help their case. Given how much the left side of his face smarted, he had reason to hope he looked diseased. Jayn’s admonitions rang in his head and he kept his gaze lowered as he obeyed the queen’s request to turn his face. She had leaned into the passenger box to get a better look. Her scent shocked him. Her musk was pungent and warm, beckoning, and it filled the air of the box with a powerful summons. Willem had tensed his facial muscles and pulled his lips into a thin line as Jayn had said he should, but he had to breathe. His nostrils pulled the queen’s scent into his body. That was enough. His cock thickened, though mercifully hidden by his heavy robe and veil, and his facial muscles relaxed, his lips parting as her finger touched them.
“Stop that!” snapped Rue. The queen pulled back her hand and the palanquin rocked. Willem dared open his eyes and saw that Lena had scooted between him and the glaring young queen.
“You said you would look, not touch. You have no authority to touch him.”
“You disguise his looks poorly. Your male is not uncomely.” The queen looked straight at him and this time Willem failed to avoid meeting her gaze. Desire gazed back at him, and something else. Resentment, maybe. Rue yanked the veil back down, hiding him again. The queen scowled. “The male I am seeking is prettier and not scarred, nor does he have eyes of that color,” she said, and pulled fully out of the passenger box. “You may continue. May you use him well during Her phase.”
The palanquin rolled as the workers lifted it again and proceeded on their way.
“Use me?” Willem wanted to be sure he had heard that correctly.
“Work crews almost never include men. She probably thinks you’re with us to provide… ease.” Lena had crawled back and was sitting opposite him again. “She just told us their fucking Queen’s entering her phase.”
“Jeezers,” said Marda. “We usually leave the nom then.”
“Well, not this time.”
Willem swatted away the veil so he could look upon their unhappy faces. “What are you telling me? Why was I ordered on this team?”
“Probably Torrey’s beetle-brained scheme to get you inside.” Lena lolled back on her cushion. “What the crash do any of us know about why we’ve been summoned? Pesht’s Queen wants to give her Chosen a gift? Well, I don’t think she means a moonlit bath chamber.”
“And you know what’s really fun?” Rue narrowed her gaze evilly. “Every queen in this nom is about to go chinti-crazy, and that includes Her.”
“And us,” said Shel. She pointed to Willem. “You, too. And if we’re still here when the pheromones hit, chances are real good we’re all getting screwed.”
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