Season 3, Episode 12
Written by Tof Eklund
Read by Tawn Krakowski
“So, will we have enough food?” I asked the Master Chef.
“Yes, with the new rationing,” he replied.
“Enough for the fall, not for the winter,” interrupted Fallon, a clerk who had emerged from a bottle when it became obvious we needed someone adept with ledgers and balances. Fallon had an excellent memory and could do complex calculations in his head without error.
“Fallon,” replied the Housekeeper, “we have been over this. We will get fresh supplies when the siege breaks.”
“The siege will break,” Fallon said, “when and only when it is too cold for them to keep bringing in supplies. At that point, it will be impossible for us to get any.”
“They have only tents for shelter,” put in the Stablemaster. “They will have to decamp in advance of the snow.”
“Not far enough in advance,” muttered Keelin. Mistress of the palace’s gossip, Keelin’s opinions were always shared by many.
“You can’t know that!” retorted the Stablemaster.
“She doesn’t,” said Fallon, “but I do. You of all people, Stablemaster, should know how long it takes to transport supplies by mulecart.”
“Simple,” put in the Master Chef, “we send horses for supplies, then.”
“They can’t carry a fully-laden cart any faster, Markus,” Fallon replied. “And we cannot cram food enough for our population into a messenger’s saddlebags. Frankly, we have too many horses to feed as it is. We should send most of them out the front gate.”
That last exclamation came from both Keelin and the Stablemaster.
“Wait,” I raised a hand and the Council fell silent. “Why not?”
Keelin spoke first. “Bad for morale, Regent. Folks’d see that as a sign we’re running short ‘a supplies. For one thing, they know Rogur’d never let go of his ponies.”
“I agree,” said Rogur the Stablemaster. “Eh, about the morale, that is.”
Just then, for the first time, I felt the baby move inside my belly. A shiver of excitement turned to fear. Touched by the life growing in me, a question leapt to the tip of my tongue, something I’d been thinking about every day since the siege began.
“Perhaps we must consider the unthinkable, regardless of morale. After all, what,” I said solemnly, “will happen to you, to the palace staff, if we fail?”
The chamber exploded into cacophony as everyone spoke at once.
“Why did you ask that?” Kaye said.
I was changing for bed, and I finished pulling my dress off before answering. “Because I am responsible for them,” I said, and cradled my naked belly.
“Of course you are,” Kaye replied. “They trust you with the common good. They trust you. I trust you. We all do.”
“Should they? I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing.” I reached for my nightgown, felt the royal silk between my fingers.
“A leader with a sure plan is a danger to the people, and one who is confident in his decisions brings doom to his nation,” Kaye quoted from the Book of Still Water.
I sighed. “Point taken. Oh! Kaye, today I felt the baby knock.” I smoothed my nightgown over my curves, the mahogany swell of my belly showing through the pale cream of the fabric.
Kaye’s expression was confused. “Knock?”
“I felt the baby move.”
“Oh!” he exclaimed. “Baby punches!”
“That’s what that phrase means?” All these years, I’d never known what to think when I heard a woman was getting baby punches.
“That’s it. So it’s called knocking in Maragoya?”
“Yes, like the baby wants to come out and play,” I said, suddenly aware that I was smiling. I looked at Kaye. He was already in bed, sitting up against a pillow with his nightshirt open a little at the neck, showing off his skin, paler than the cream of my nightgown, and a few delicate curls of the hair that grew on his chest.
“Come here,” he said, his hazel eyes gleaming with green fire in the candlelight. “Don’t make me put my braces back on just to give you a hug.”
I loosed the jeweled pin that held my hair in a wrap and shook it free. The wrap had been Lily’s idea, based, I suspected, on some folk story about southern Witch-Queens. It was then that I noticed Kaye was giving me that look.
I slid onto the bed and scooted over to sit next to him. I looked him square in the face, and the mixed admiration and hunger I saw there went to my head like wine. He embraced me, his arms tight around my lower back and I felt my skin growing hot, the faint ache of arousal that had been coming and going throughout my overlong, overfull days suddenly overwhelming. One of Kaye’s hands was on the back of my neck, and he slid his face past mine to rest his lips on my earlobe. That feather-light touch provoked a sudden throb of pleasure between my legs, and my thighs clenched involuntarily.
“Are you up for sex tonight?” Kaye asked.
A groan of arousal and a sigh of frustration got mixed up in my throat. Kaye loosed his grip a little and backed off until we were face-to-face again.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ve been so exhausted recently.” Most nights, I had fallen asleep quickly but unhappily, unsated. My own frustration had only been amplified by the fact that Kaye was there next to me and just as horny as I.
“No,” he replied, “there’s nothing to be sorry for.”
“I want you,” I growled, then straddled him. “I want you right now.”
I took Kaye’s wrists and planted his left hand on my right breast. We both gasped as his fingers closed over my pregnancy-swollen teat, the silk of my gown sliding over my hard nipple. I released his wrist as Kaye began to squeeze my breast. It was almost too much, but that was what I wanted right then.
With my now-free hand, I lifted the hem of my gown and thrust Kaye’s fingers between my legs.
“Feel that?” I husked as I pressed his fingertips down on either side of my clit. “Feel how I swell full and hot for you. Haah,” I groaned as I ground against his hand. “Feel how I grow slick in anticipation of your touch,” I said, and pushed one of his fingertips in. I moaned.
I pulled up his nightshirt. He was hard.
“That’s the cock I want.” I was growling again as I took him in my hand and gave him a few jerks. “That’s the cock I want to fuck me.”
I moved his hand to my thigh, then pressed his cock down against his belly and slid myself over the length of it, not taking him inside yet. I remember taking pleasure in seeing how he glistened with my wetness.
“Naahh…” Kaye moaned, and I looked up. He was still half-sitting, looking at me with wonder, a smile on his lips and his eyes half-lidded. “My Goddess.”
“Worship me,” I said, then pulled my nightgown up and tossed it away, exposing my skin to the night. I lifted my hips and Kaye’s cock popped up. I guided it into my slick heat, and descended halfway down upon it before rising again. I took several slow, teasing, incomplete strokes before taking him in all the way.
As I came to rest on his thighs, Kaye’s hands came back to life, and I shivered as his fingertips played over me with precision and power. I felt a cool draft of air on my bare back.
“My Goddess…” he whispered.
My hips moved on their own, taking up an uneven tempo that just felt right, pressing Kaye’s manhood right into the sweet spot that made my teeth chatter and my back arch. Kaye was almost in a trance, his gaze hazy and his breath coming in gasps.
“Worship you…” he exhaled.
Still his hands moved over me. His fingers drew spirals on my breasts, a breeze blew through our bedchamber, and I heard myself cry out.
I was close to coming, but a sudden worry blunted my pleasure. I felt Kaye’s hand tracing a fertility symbol on my thigh, his expression glazed. Looking down at my own body I saw my skin covered once again in the same arcane sigils that had manifested twice before. They glowed ever so faintly, like distant fireflies, and the pleasure of my lover’s touch lingered in each one.
“Hah…Kaye…what…” I tried to speak, but then there was a great press of air, like a storm blowing straight down at us. I looked up, and saw the ceiling part cleanly, as if split with a knife. I could see the night sky and the stars. Then the sky itself bifurcated, opened up to reveal a great roiling mist.
“Ahhhh…” Worry at this terrible sight melted into a sudden and overwhelming awareness of Kaye’s cock inside me, of his fingers tracing my labia, and my climax came upon me as an explosion at the base of my spine shot straight through my brain.
I felt myself clenching around him, over and over, and then I collapsed onto Kaye’s chest, my whole body reverberating like a struck gong. Mere moments later, I felt him come inside me with a long, shaky moan.
I must have fallen into a doze. When I awoke, the air was still and the only sound was Kaye’s even breathing. All of the arcane marks were visible on my skin, sensitive and red as before, but at least they no longer glowed.
I looked up. The ceiling was intact, the night sky hidden from view.
“Kaye, did you see that?”
His eyes were closed. They half-opened a little to look at me and he smiled. “You are so beautiful,” he said, then his eyes closed again.
I couldn’t relax, let alone sleep. Goddess blight it, what was that? I gently lifted Kaye’s hand from my thigh, and he made a tiny noise of dissatisfaction, his brow furrowing. I stroked it smooth again with my bare hand, and watched his expression turn serene before I rose from our bed.
The stone floor was cold under my bare feet. I pulled my discarded nightgown over my head, then absentmindedly slipped on gloves, slippers and a simple snood. I took a look back at Kaye before closing the door. His arm was still stretched out, as if he was beckoning to me. I could still feel the warmth of his skin against mine.
I shut the door silently, carefully. I needed to see the sky, all of it. I made my way to the south tower, the tallest one, and ascended stair after stair, and finally a ladder to a heavy trap door. Then I was out on the roof, ringed round by the parapet. The night sky stretched out above me, the constellations fixed in their familiar positions, and a crescent moon hung near the horizon. I’d half-expected to see stars plunging from the sky, or an open, mist-filled wound in the heavens.
Satisfied that the sky was not falling after all, I turned my attention earthward. A circle of banked fire surrounded me, proof of the ongoing siege. The wind picked up, and it was cool. Fire now; snow and ice soon enough. If we outlasted the siege, and didn’t starve come winter, what then? I could expect no help from the rest of Thrycae, nor any from the Order.
I cradled my belly. I couldn’t keep my pregnancy hidden much longer. I knew that the truth would vindicate my enemies, making me look like the seductress and usurper they already wanted to believe I was. Beyond all that, there was the wyrding, foretelling death for either Kaye or I.
I stood there and looked out into the night. The watchfires glittered in shades of orange and red, reminding me of the turning of the leaves. I should have felt horribly alone, but I did not.
© 2013 Copyright Tof Eklund
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