This week’s challenge is pretty open ended. Twisted love, probably in honor of V-day. This story actually relates to the back story of a novel I’m currently working on. Its how the parents of one of main character’s meet. I had a lot of fun working on it.
“I wonder where I can find something to eat,” a handsome man with white skin and flaming mane muttered. He leaned up against a pine tree rubbing his belly. He braced his arms back to push off the tree, when he froze.
A young woman with dark hair and eyes walked down a dirt pathway going down the hillside. Her robe was undyed linen and her only adornment was a carved, open book on a plain string around her slender neck. She grasped a book in her hand, as she sang softly to herself.
“A Priest of the Unbidden,” he said. He shifted in his chainmail and stepped forward. “Excuse me. Do you know where there is somewhere to eat?” His voice was smooth, and seductive.
The woman stopped and stared. A blush came to her cheeks. “Yes,” She said, averting her eyes.
The man winced. He hadn’t meant to use his powers, but he hadn’t learned how to turn them off. “Where do I need to go?”
The woman tipped her head. “Down by the Heart of Thought,” She looked away chewing on her lip.
The man mulled this over. He knew that meant the place where Priests of the Unbidden lived, but he didn’t have any interest in the bland food they ate. “Is there a tavern or café there?”
“Yes, nearby in the village,” She said her face turning more crimson by the second.
He knew it was because his power was going more and more each second they spoke. “I’m Voracan, by the way, what is your name?” He asked, hoping it might help offset his powers.
She bowed with a stiff movement. “I’m Lillian High Priest of the Unbidden.” A bit of the blush faded from her cheeks.
“Could you show me to the tavern, then?” Voracan thought he might be able to find it, but there seemed to be an awful lot of winding pathways here.
Lillian nodded, and started down the path. For the first few moments the only sound was soft cooing of a bird. “Why did your parents give you a name in demonic?”
His face scrunched up. He knew he should have come up with a name that didn’t reveal what he was. “I’m a demon.”
She whipped around to stare at him, all color draining from her face. “Are you serious?” Her hand went to clasp around the book symbol. “Stay back.”
He shook his head. “I was thrown out of Silt. I’m no threat to you.”
“Do not lie to me, demon.” Lillian’s voice turned hard. Her eyes blazed with passion. “We of the Unbidden have no power other than our knowledge. I know all about the lies, and tricks demons play to gain humans to torment.”
Voracan was fascinated by the change. When she wasn’t being cowed by his presence she was a strong woman. “You are right. I have power to harm you. “He gave her his best disarming smile. “It would be more accurate to say I would not. I was thrown up for sparing a human, not for harming one.”
“How do I know you were tossed out?” Her nostrils flared as her face tensed. “Anyone could call themselves forsaken, it means nothing.”
He acknowledged that was true. Then, he let go of his appearance that made him look human. His skin turned deep ash gray, large horns curled from the side of his head, eyes the color of rubies and hair of living flame flowed down his back. He knew in his form his features grew finer and whatever was more attractive to the viewer. “I wouldn’t bother with words.”
“Seducer,” She swallowed hard. “Why are you bothering with words?”
“I don’t like what I am. I never have. I want to live a normal, human, life.” That’s all he really wanted.
The woman eyes narrowed and her grip tightened on the symbol of the Unbidden. “And, how do I know that this isn’t some scheme to lower my guard so you can seduce me? I’d be a prize wouldn’t I? The High Priest of the Unbidden.”
Voracan figured it was true. High Priest was an eternal virgin untouched, and always raised with in the order. “Why are they letting you wander around on your own?”
She huffed. “I’m hardly wandering around on my own. This is a short walk from the Heart. You are the interloper here.”
Voracan couldn’t help it, he grinned. She was adorably irritated. “Why are you walking by yourself, then?”
“As if it is any of your business, silt spawn,” she said. A bit of the acid had faded from her voice and her features softened.
“I suppose it isn’t.” Voracan was definitely surprised by the fire in her nature. Who’d think for a scholarly little virgin would be so bold. “But, it does seem your people would travel with you.”
“It is a short walk to the village. It is my duty and privilege to talk to the villagers and train them in words and numbers.” She took a step back up the path watching him. “And, to spread the word of knowledge.”
He ran his gray hand through his hair and changed his appearance back to the handsome man with flame colored hair. “Well, if you’ll tell me the direction to the village I’ll head there now, and leave you to your preaching.”
She went still, and then her eyes went huge. “I can’t let you in the village alone. Those people are mine to protect.”
“Either I eat food or feed in more traditional way for my species.” Voracan preferred to avoid that. After youth of feeding at the order of the older demons, he didn’t want to indulge in anything carnal.
Lillian’s fingers went white, she chewed on her lip. “Walk in front, I’ll keep my eyes on you.”
As he shifted to in front of her he took the path. He could hear her talking in a softest of whispers. The thick trees opened up to reveal a small village. The houses were freshly painted and the roads paved with gravel.
A warm hand rested on his arm. “The tavern is the first building on the right.”
He flicked around to look at his companion. The tavern didn’t really stand out it look much like the other buildings. The only difference was a sign of a bed and tankard on it. “It’s more of an inn?” He asked keeping his voice low. Since, his powers weren’t under his control he figured he shouldn’t push his luck.
Lillian ignored the question as they stepped inside. The walls were a bright blue, the tables and furniture white. There is even lace curtains, Voracan thought with a shake of his head. “Can you order for me, I’ll give you money? I don’t dare talk more than I need to.”
Those dark eyes seemed to pierce his mind. “Why?” There was an edge to her voice that he found compelling instead of terrifying.
“I can’t control my powers yet. When I’m hungry I tend to…” He paused wondering if there might be a better way to phrase it. Then, he gave up, “seduce them.”
Lillian didn’t look as if she believed him. She let out a long, drawn out breath and held out her hand. Voracan hurried to put a gold weight in it. She lifted a brow at the amount. When he didn’t respond she headed to the counter.
He picked a chair in the far corner away from all the windows, and the door. He settled in so his back was to the wall and he could see everything. Lillian sat a mug before him and glass before the seat beside him.
A sniff told him his was some kind of ale, and hers was water. “You don’t drink?”
“Of course not,” She said. “The only vice is the power of the word, the truth of knowledge. I indulge in no other.”
He’d forgotten. She didn’t fit the picture he had in his mind for a Priest of the Unbidden. He sipped at his ale, and gave her a grin. “You are missing out, this is fine ale.”
Lillian ignored him and set her book on the table and began to read. Her fingers were long, fine and had callous exactly where one would from holding a pen for long periods of time. She kept the tip of her index finger under each word as she read.
A thunk caused Voracan to jerk his head up. A metal plate landed next to his ale, it had a thick stew with a biscuit next on a napkin to the side. He waited until the server walked off, before turning to Lillian. “Aren’t you going to eat?”
She lifted her head looking puzzled. “It is forbidden to eat anything outside The Heart. It is to flavorful, and carries with the risk of temptation.”
Voracan felt himself smile again. “You are going to sit there and read while I eat? Why don’t you go deal with your students?”
“I won’t leave you alone, who knows what you’ll do.” She didn’t even look at him as she continued to read.
“Come on, eat a biscuit. How flavorful can a biscuit really be?” He held out the flaky thing toward her, the napkin still folded beneath it.
She lifted her head. “Eat your meal, and leave me be.”
“No, I don’t think so. I can’t enjoy my meal with you sitting there not having anything to eat.” He waved the biscuit out in front of her. “It wouldn’t be right.”
Lillian shut the book and grabbed the biscuit settling in front of her. “No one talks to me this way, Forsaken.”
“I’m not a villager, and I’m certainly not a member of the Unbidden. I never tried denying myself anything.” Voracan enjoyed good food, good drink, and good clothes. He’d never give them up voluntarily.
She sniffed. “You should try it.”
“I’d never work. I’m a demon. It is a part of my nature. It the same reason I was banished from Silt. I couldn’t be different than what I was.” He shrugged. “That’s life, you can only change so much.”
Lillian picked at the biscuit. She started to break it up in tiny pieces. “You are awfully philosophical for demon.”
He let out a bark of laughter. “You know a lot of demons, do you?”
For the first time, she smiled. It made her regular face into something of great beauty. Her eyes sparkled and her face came alive. “I suppose you are right.” She nibbled on a bit of biscuit absently. Then, her eyes widened. “Gorinth’s Balls, I shouldn’t have done that.”
“Gorinth’s Balls?” Voracan felt his chest rumble. “What language for a Priest.”
Her cheeks blushed deep red. “Sometimes, I work in the stables. The stable master isn’t a part of the Unbidden.”
“How was your biscuit?” Voracan asked before digging into the stew. It wasn’t the finest thing he ever ate, but it was good.
She toyed with it bit longer before taking another bite. “Wonderful and you eat the rest. I can’t take the risk of eating more.” She pushed it back over to him.
He swallowed. “If you are the High Priest you have never got the opportunity to rebel. I think eating a biscuit is safe enough.”
“One vice leads to another. Each vice is a weight on the scale of balance.” Lillian spoke each word with a sharp dictation.
“Quoting the tenants of the Unbidden,” He shook his head. “You are interesting to talk to Lillian of the Unbidden.”
She tipped her head. “How would I be interesting? All I do is read books.”
“You don’t act like it. You are fiery, and quick with your wits.” He watched the blush creep up her neck. “Then, you throw in the random odd saying of the Unbidden.” After taking the last bite of stew he shoved it away. “I’m going to explore the village.” He jumped up and rushed out the door.
He could hear Lillian scrambling behind him as he made it out the door. For some reason, he didn’t want to leave her yet. She was a mystery and he hadn’t met many of those in his life. All around the paved square up a head there were merchants. One was selling cups, tankards, and mugs. He’d needed a metal travel cup for the road. He took off toward him.
As he got closer the merchant had a huge selection of items. The man smiled at Voracan. “Greetings, good sir. What can I help with on this fine day?”
“I need a set for travel.” He motioned at the small travel bag attached to his side. “A small set, I like to travel light.”
The man shook himself off. Though, his eyes didn’t want to leave Voracan’s body. He knew his powers were affecting him. “I’ll gather up a simple set for you, sir.” The man turned missing around in the back of his cart.
Lillian moved beside him a frown on her face. “Can’t you control yourself?”
He felt his cheeks heat up. “I haven’t been out of my home very long, less than a month.”
Lillian’s brows disappeared into her hairline as her eyes widened. “That’s not long at all.” She pulled at a strand of hair.
Her eyes rested on a bright yellow mug, the color nearly glowed. Her fingers ran down the side of it. “That’s a happy color.”
Voracan stepped toward it. “Do you like it?”
“I said it was a happy color.” Lillian said her word’s sharp. Voracan suspected she didn’t want to admit more than that.
The man returned with a small sack. “Here you go, sir. A plate, a mug, and cutlery. Anything else you need?” The man’s voice had grown husky.
Voracan made the effort to try to tone down his seductive power before speaking. “May I also have that yellow mug over there?”
The man shook himself off, looking a bit more natural. “Sure, sir,” he grabbed the mug wrapping it up with paper. He placed in a paper sack. “That will be half a weight.”
Voracan thought it seemed steep, but this area was very out of the way, and he had no trouble getting money. Before he could hand it over, Lillian stepped in front of him, giving it to the man. “Your change from your meal, Voracan.” She said before stepping away.
Voracan took his two sacks moved with her. “The rest of my change?” He grinned, thinking that she was keeping his money.
She held out her hand with the rest of the money. “Take it.”
His fingers ran down her palm as picked up the coins. He lingered touching her longer than necessary.
Her hand snapped back. “Are you quite done?”
“Sorry, your skin is quite soft.” He pulled up the sack and handed it over to her. “Here, I bought the mug for you.”
Lillian glared at the bag. “It is forbidden to have such things.”
“Keep in your room, no one will know it’s there.” He winked at her. “I’ll keep your secret.”
She stiffened her hand still not taking the sack. “Why would I keep it?”
“To remind you have the handsome, philosophical demon you met who trailed about town one morning.” Voracan wasn’t sure if she’d want to remember. He did.
Her lips twitched and she took the sack. “You are interesting, Voracan. I still do not trust you. This could be a game, demons are fond of them.”
“That’s true, we are.” He knew he should go, but he couldn’t make himself. “I’ll earn your trust.”
“Earn my trust?” Her voice went a pitch higher as she clutched at the sack. “What does that mean?”
“I think I shall stay around town a bit. Perhaps, I’ll take you up on your advice and join the Unbidden. It might be good for me to learn the wisdom of the ages.” He had to grin at that. “At least use the library at any rate. I could learn more about the Northern Kingdoms, perhaps pick a name that’s more common.”
“Right,” She spun around. “I’ll keep tabs on you. If I have to I’ll call my friend, who is a priest of Gorinth to banish you.”
He watched her rush off. “Don’t worry, I’ll behave, Lillian.” He whispered as his heart clenched.