Happy Saturday, all.
Have to share a fantastic review for Slipping the Past
Stop by and check it out.
Okay, on to lucky chapter 13. :)
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***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***
Tesza climbed onto the barge. Short box-shaped sails caught the wind to drive the craft forward. Their escort consisted of ten other barges, carrying crews of one hundred.
The shallow bottom boats navigated the mangroves with ease. They moved left or right, guided by a paddle in the back and poles at the bow of the boat. A figure head of a carved beast, called a garver, sat to the front of Jarod’s barge. The very same creature in the design tattooed onto his face.
Garvers weren’t fictional creatures, but fierce and real. Swimming under the barges, following their flight out to sea. All the while, waiting for opportunity to drop into the swamp. Many a Kalos child had been snatched off the banks or warrior gobbled whole, when they’d fallen into the water.
Nasty beasts with double rowed teeth that shed and regrew many times a year and a fatal first bite. They weighed twice the weight of a barge, ran anywhere from the same length, to three times that. Long and skinny like a serpent, they had a spiny dorsal fin that ran the extent of their entire backbone and only broke the water’s surface prior to a strike.
They were a good reason to be off the water before star-fall and the biggest reason Jarod positioned his fleet here.
Jarod was a garver, much like the beast that lurked below, waiting for opportunity.
He was armed, but the weapons he had couldn’t stop a Kori charge. The Kori had mechanized, one and two man hovers, that flew over the mangroves with ease and lazr’ weapons that could blast his soldiers to dust.
But mechanization came at a cost. Noisy, they drew the attention of the garvers, who hunted at night. Jarod had used stolen hovers to train the garvers, feeding them raw meat, dumping it behind the crafts as they skimmed across the mangroves. The sound of the hovers drew the garvers, the engines were a dinner bell and Jarod knew it. He’d trained them that way.
Not meant to stop on the water, the hovers tipped easy when they did, making them a dangerous mode of transportation for the mangroves and the garver knew that a simple strike of the tail and the craft could be flipped and snack obtained.
Tesza paced back and forth along the rail, pulling the cape Jarod gave her tighter over her shoulders. Star-fall was fast approaching. She shifted her gaze to Jarod, who stood watch at the stern. He’d said Ursus would return in force to kill them. He seemed certain of it.
He turned to catch her watching him. They’ll come. His eyes said it all.
Had Ursus used her? The answer lay across the mangroves. If they attacked, she could be certain.
Her nerves were strung tight. Had she been a fool to trust the enemy soldier, give him the cure?
She shivered when she thought about what waited. If Ursus came, he deserved what Jarod planned. He’d tricked her, told her he loved her, and needed her. Had it been a lie?
She watched as the final pieces of the trap were set. Nets were strung across the inlet and would be triggered by a simple poke of the poles they used to navigate. Above in the canopy, heavy weights with ropes would drop, raising the nets before and after the attackers, leaving the Kori trapped in a swamp full of hungry garvers, and unable to move. Sitting targets, ready to be plucked.
“Get in the cabin, Tesza.” Jarod walked up behind her and tucked the cape tighter over her shoulders, pushing her towards his quarters. “I hear them approaching.”
She cocked her head and listened. Her eyes widened and her heart sank. A buzzing sound like angry wasps filled the mangroves. Inside, she wanted to believe Ursus innocent.
Tesza strained to see the source, hoping what she heard wasn’t real. The humming grew louder.
Pain filled her chest. He was coming, to kill them all.
Jarod signaled to the escorts both on the starboard and port sides of the royal barge. All lanterns blinked out, leaving the swamps in utter darkness.
“You’ve been betrayed. He never loved you.” He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her into him, kissing her as though he’d never taste her again. “I’ve never stopped.”
Tesza’s stomach flip-flopped. Memories of his touch, his soft words. It all came raging back with that kiss.
“Get inside now.” He stepped back, gave her one more push and she found herself at the door to his cabin.
She opened her mouth and shut it. This is where she belonged, this was right. Tesza bit her lip and fisted her cape, pulling it around her, trying to stop shivering. So why did she feel the pull of the other?
She scanned the darkness, but all she could see was Jarod’s long pale braid as he retreated to the stern.
Her heart pounded in her throat. It was a different pull and different love than the way she’d felt about Ursus. But it was there.
Regardless that she didn’t want too, she couldn’t stop loving him, needing him.
Jarod’s strength was intoxicating. She knew how it felt when he held her, touched her. A throbbing ache started between her thighs and Tesza silently chastised herself for thinking such things. Now was not the time. The one she’d thought loved her was coming to kill her, and the one who truly did, she’d betrayed.
She watched him walk away; a part of her craved him. How could she have feelings for both, need both? She didn’t want him. Jolts shot through her body. Lust. She didn’t want him, didn’t need him. He’d cast her out. Ursus cast her away. She didn’t need or want either of them. Both could bake in the barren plains for all she cared.
“Gods,” she snarled. “I don’t want you.”
He spun. Her heart leapt. Across the darkness she could see his eyes, and even in the blackness she swore she saw a smile. The ache increased. Tesza growled and flung the cabin door open and slammed it shut after her. Damned men!