On Thursdays I post excerpts from a novel I’m working on. This week, Vorgell and Madd seek to sell a stolen ice harpy, and Vorgell wants sex. But then, he always wants sex. So I’ll stop saying that.
Thick as Ice, Chapter 1b
The hand off went as well as any they had ever arranged. The mysterious buyer’s agent—a man they knew only as Rat—waited in the shadows of the temple’s fallen pillars. As was the way of his kind, he put effort into being secretive. Moss and debris hung from what little remained of the structure. Every surface was slick with dead, moldering things. Once they had tied the boat, Madd climbed out first with Vorgell, sword unsheathed and at ready, on his heels. Vorgell carried the webbed harpy slung in a net on his back. The creature wasn’t heavy at all, being barely bigger than a child and having a bird’s hollow bones. Carrying the harpy this way left his hands free for fighting. The downside of being a rogue was that it meant dealing with even worse rogues on occasion.
“You have the… merchandise?” Rat’s oily voice matched the man. His thick body and shiny pate gave him the appearance of a prosperous perfume merchant. He even smelled like one despite the odor of decay that surrounded them.
“That depends on if you have the rest of our payment,” said Madd.
Rat eyed Vorgell with interest. Madd’s small size and light summer clothing pretty much revealed he wasn’t the one carrying a harpy. Vorgell also sported a basilisk on his shoulder. After a moment, Rat reached into his robe and pulled out a velvet purse. He opened it and spilled a dozen deep red jewels into his hand. The gems blazed in the misty hot morning.
Madd looked from the jewels to Vorgell before reaching into the pouch at his belt. Vorgell fought a grin. Trust was not Madd’s strong suit. He watched Madd’s long fingers bring out a flat, smooth stone the color of pewter. One of Madd’s first thefts for his own gain had been the procuring of a genuine alchemist’s stone from the vault of one of the Four Fabled Philosophers of Bence.
One by one, Madd plucked a red jewel and touched it to the stone. A prism of colors appeared on the surface. Vorgell watched Madd examine the arrangement of colors, his gaze ascertaining what he needed to know. Each time Madd finished testing a jewel, he placed it in Vorgell’s outstretched hand. Soon all twelve jewels glittered in Vorgell’s palm.
Madd put the alchemist’s stone back into the belt pouch. He nodded to Rat, who wore an unctuous smile. “You just bought yourself an ice harpy.”
“One moment,” said Vorgell. He moved back a step, out of reach of Rat’s grasping hands. Madd turned on him, already scowling.
“What are you doing?”
“I need to hear again what this man’s mistress plans to do with the harpy.”
“Clients don’t have to explain why they want something.”
Rat’s smile tightened, but he waved his hand to let them know the question did not offend him. “I respect your friend’s concern. This is a living creature. My buyer means it no harm. It will be housed comfortably and used solely to cool a new palace. As you may have noticed, the summer this year is very hot.”
“So hot it’s worth twelve rubies to chill a room?”
“We’re hoping to cool more than that. You see, the palace is very large, and ice harpies are beyond rare. There isn’t another within a month’s hard riding that I know of.”
Vorgell didn’t like Rat’s smug little smile.
“Give him the harpy, Vorgell.”
Madd’s unhappy glare convinced him. That look didn’t bode well for his chances of getting laid. Besides, Rat had paid them as promised—a princely sum. And they’d agreed to this job on the condition no harm would come to the harpy. With a nod, Vorgell pocketed the jewels, sheathed his sword, and nudged Petal to his other shoulder. Unslinging the net with the harpy was easy enough. He held it out to Rat.
“Be careful with this,” he warned. “Once out of that red feathered webbing the creature will get back all its power. Things will get very icy, very fast. And, well, it might want to couple with somebody. I suggest you have women handle it.”
“Your advice is well-taken.” Rat received the balled up harpy as if it were an enormous porcelain vase. He gazed upon it with sheer adoration, proof enough he’d never seen a harpy in action.
Vorgell and Madd stayed where they were while the robed procurer, harpy in hands, hurried to the east corner of the temple. Minutes later they watched an ornate, many-oared barge glide rapidly through the river’s currents toward Gurgh, still swaddled in mist on the other bank.
“He certainly can’t wait to start chilling that palace,” Madd noted. His shaggy black hair hung in sweaty curls around his ears and neck. He turned to Vorgell. “You have his rubies, right?”
He patted his breast pocket and gave Madd a lustful leer. “What shall we do to celebrate?”
“Not here. In case you haven’t noticed, this creepy old temple belongs to the Mournful Goddess of Watery Death. The reason it’s in disrepair is because every time anyone does something to anger the goddess, this part of the damn river floods.”
“Do men enjoying each other’s cocks make her angry?”
“Who the hell knows? Maybe the priests just make that stuff up, but I’m not taking chances.” Madd walked across the slime-covered ruins and jumped catlike into the boat. He looked back at Vorgell. “Are you coming?”
“Apparently not any time soon.” He climbed down into the boat and took a seat at the oars. Pushing the end of one against the crumbling stone of the temple, he moved them back out into the stream. With any luck and some concerted rowing they could cross the river to Gurgh and conduct the rest of their business before the taverns opened.
If he couldn’t find some way to tumble Madd soon, Vorgell would have no choice but to resort to brawling and strong ale.
* * * *
Vorgell had yet to figure out how to make Madd burn with lust. When it came to sex his partner could be ardent, of that he had seen proof enough, but Madd just as often seemed to regard sex the same way most men regarded taking a piss—as an urge to be satisfied but not pursued with abandon. Vorgell, on the other hand, wanted sex at every opportunity and not just because the aphrodisiac nature of unicorn magic made his cock rise at the least provocation.
“You know, the fisherman may be out,” he said as the ramshackle pier came into view.
Madd cocked his head, eyes narrowing. “Are you saying you want to fuck in that falling down old work shed of his?”
“We paid him for the whole day.” That Madd had not nixed his plan so far was promising.
“For the boat, not his shack.”
“He won’t even notice.” Vorgell guided the boat to the dock until it bumped and Madd threw a rope over one of the pilings. He grinned at his partner. “Come now, Madd. You know you want to.”
“I know you’re a sex-crazed oaf.”
His plan required a bit more work. After throwing the bale of furs up onto the pier, he went to check out the shack. The fisherman was not around, removing the greatest cause for concern, though there were others. For one thing, rotting, discarded nets lay piled in one corner. Vorgell dumped the bale of furs on the floor.
“This place is filthy.” Madd stood in the doorway.
“We’ve made do with worse.”
“Are you referring to the time I got you off in the belly of a leaky ship because I was trying to keep it afloat? We were manacled. We needed the magic. This—” He frowned and scuffed at the floor. “Are these bug husks?”
They appeared to be; there were spider webs overhead. Vorgell pulled the top fur—a fine cape made of fox—and dropped it skin side down on another part of the floor to cover any possible offense. One moment more and he’d unbuckled his belt and dropped his trousers. One snap of his loincloth and his cock sprang free like a soldier to battle.
“You know how I feel. I really need you, Madd.” He hoped it didn’t sound too much like a plea.
“I can see that.”
Vorgell watched Madd walk toward him. The stirring in his loins was more than mere lust, though his partaking of unicorn horn had infused his body with enough of that to fuel the whole of Gurgh. No. He wanted Madd in ways he could not even explain. Ways beyond knowing that tapping the magic in his semen was Madd’s favorite means of acquiring power. As much as he desired the pretty male witch as a partner, and as often as Madd accommodated his need, their arrangement was more practical than cozy.
For once his partner didn’t mock his rampant urges. One never knew with Madd. He could be all kisses and surrender one day and the next he would bite off the head of anyone—man or woman—who looked him in the eye. Right now they were both sweat-slick from the heat and their clothing stuck to their bodies, but Vorgell saw no reason to let that get in his way. He pulled Madd hard against him, lowering his head to pursue a kiss. As always, Madd tensed. Though he had been free of the love collar’s tyranny for months, Madd still feared kisses would bring pain. But once Vorgell’s lips found his, Madd’s mouth turned soft and willing, and he opened for Vorgell’s eager tongue.
“We did it,” Vorgell said when they parted for air. It pleased him to see Madd’s lips wet and rosy, like a man well-kissed.
“We’re fucking rich.”
“Yes. And I shall give you your share of the rubies only after you’ve delivered on my reward.” Vorgell canted his pelvis forward, pushing his engorged cock insistently against Madd’s belly.
From where she hunkered on the threshold, Petal huffed and looked away, her nose tilted with disdain. She preferred hunting to watching humans do undignified things to each other.
Trousers around his knees, Vorgell mastered a quiver of anticipation when Madd grasped him by the hips and sank down until his knees were on the fox pelt. Drops of arousal swelled from Vorgell’s cock when Madd’s breath warmed his already leaking cock tip.
“Gods, Vorgell. What’s the longest you stay soft? Five minutes?” Madd’s pink tongue flicked out and swiped at the fluid as if it were fine wine being spilled and not pre-come. “It’s your good fortune that magic tastes like the food of the gods.” He tilted a smile at him. “You know why I make you wait, right?”
“Because you like guessing games?” The sweet pressure of Madd’s grip on his cock was killing him.
“No. Because I’d rather use you than let you use me.”
Madd trailed a finger up the line of Vorgell’s shaft and circled the head slowly. Then he bent forward to administer a long, slow lick.
Vorgell bit back a loud moan at the heavenly pressure of Madd’s tongue on his cock. The man possessed a wicked knowledge of cock teasing. “Please, Madd… please, please, please… you’ve had me hard for hours. Rowing that boat while feasting my eyes upon you was torture.”
He was beyond ready. Every nibble, lick, and suck pushed him up to the edge, but never over. His cock throbbed atop aching balls. Madd laid hold of his testicles and rolled them expertly, holding them away from his body with just enough pressure to interrupt his ejaculation. His cock popped from Madd’s mouth, causing him to groan with frustration as the man nuzzled him instead of sucking.
“I know what you want, Vorgell. You want more than this.”
Madd knew him too well. He wanted to be fucked. “I’ll spread more furs.”
“This place is filthy. I don’t fuck in shitholes—”
“Then suck me, Madd. Suck me dry. Do whatever you want. I don’t care what you do, just do it!”
He clasped Madd’s head as the ruddy lips he so loved opened again to take him into moist, hot paradise. The only thing better than a good suck was getting a stiff cock in the ass. Vorgell felt Madd’s nimble fingers lightly caress his aching balls and the touch unmade him. He strangled a groan, hips bucking as his cock jerked between Madd’s lips, then jerked again. So much! He closed his eyes and surrendered all he had. Sated at last, he looked down to see his partner sucking with dreamy pleasure, inky eyelashes long upon flushed cheeks. When he finally released Vorgell’s softened cock, the young witch rocked back on his heels, looking pleased with himself and licking bits of escaped come from the corners of his lips.
Vorgell sighed, perfectly content. Madd might not always give him exactly what he wanted, but he always managed to give him what he needed.
“I just remembered why I like having you as a partner.” Vorgell tugged up his trousers while Madd got off his knees and back to his feet.
“Remind me again?”
“You give the best suck jobs in Gurgh.”
Vorgell laughed. His fortunes might be chained to the whims of an enticing, dark-haired witch, but he had never been so free.
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