Love is War 03:00:01:05
– 03:00:01:05 –
River eased out of the carriage, straightened his jacket and slung his bow over his shoulder. The weapon was a trophy from when he had raided the Coeecians hordes as a boy. Many mocked him for his use of what they thought of as a tool, but he had grown deadly proficient with the weapon over the years when it was strung. His fingers running across those strings could give death or incite lust and he imagined, in his maddest moments, that there was no finer tool for either task in all the world.
He was the kind of man who would be first in line to tell you all his strengths and would descend into hysterical anger when his weaknesses were noticed. Thankfully, the former were often in evidence and the latter were not. He also possessed a talent for reading the whims and goals of others, a peculiar understanding that honed in him an incredible skill for telling stories to inspire others in any of two dozen ways. This made him singularly useful to those higher in the pecking order than he, for he could identify those whose talents, ambitions or dreams would have otherwise gone to waste.
Deeam, and Deeam’s mother before him, kept River employed – traveling from House to House, entertaining the nobles while assessing their young. He took note of those he felt were gifted and passed that information on as he deemed fit. There had been, in all the decades he had performed this service, only a single Lady he had ever kept to himself, but the knowing of her was no longer a secret and her name was now whispered of in all the noble halls of Midgard.
“What do you know of Lady Veskur Wyrd?”
He grew ill every time the question was asked.
There were benefits to what he did, an indulgence that everyone around him was willing to overlook. He liked to think that he left a trail of satisfied youth in his wake, drilling into them with all the passion he possessed. He favored women over men, but as long as there was somewhere tight for him to put himself and they were willing, he was – so to speak – in. He played with those toys as easily as he played the strings, fine-tuning them ’til there was no language in them that was not composed entirely of vowel sounds and they would do anything, anything, to sate him in turn.
He sometimes mocked others for the degradations that they inflicted on their lovers, and found the Coeecian tendency to sate their lust with violence horrific. Even so, he loved driving himself into the rears of others and cleaning himself on their tongues. There was something in the profanity of that act and the look in the eyes of those that performed it that he found so lovely that it often quickened him all over again, leading to another lusty bout of sensation-til-bliss.
The one Lady he had never shared with anyone else had been the one Lady that had never given into his charms despite his very best efforts. He could seduce virgins without effort within hours, but this Lady had no time for his desires, wanted him only for his mind and tolerated only the slimmest amount of his warmth.
It was fascinating. It was frustrating.
It was all the more so both because he felt that she was an echo of he himself, what he might have been had he turned his fine intellect within instead of without.
And now he found himself on her doorstop again, the exiled Duchess-apparent of House Wyrd, sent to freeze in the isolated north, too busy with her own projects to care about the insult her family had dealt her. He knocked on the door, drawing the cloak he wore tighter across his shoulders. Snow fell in a weeping blanket, covering the world in a thick raiment of tears. It wasn’t until his fourth knock that the door opened, Veskur’s manservant opening the thick gate and staring at him with scathing apathy.
House Wyrd had never cared much for River, not since he had seduced one of their more promising warriors decades ago. He had never consummated that conquest, though the threat of doing so had been more than enough for Veskur’s thrice-bedamned father. His contempt had percolated through the rest of the bloodline, a sense only his estranged daughter did not share.
The manservant took his cloak and left him to regain some semblance of warmth. He shivered in the main hall of Veskur’s home until she came for him, sliding into his arms, he far too aware of the curve of her hip pressing into him.
As always, he tried to push her just a step further.
As always, she avoided him by not noticing.
She took him through her home and to his laboratory. Most Vanir would have stopped for a bite to eat or shown him to a bed to recuperate from his journey, but not the Lady Wyrd; for her nothing mattered save her work and there were few people that she ever shared her madness with. He was one of those lucky few, having to keep a straight face while she rambled on about concepts that probably only made sense to her.
If he hadn’t wanted to clean his manhood off on her face, he probably wouldn’t have put up with it.
“It’s exciting,” Wyrd was saying, leading him by the hand. “Do you remember how I was having trouble keeping the sigil straight on the backhand? I took some of your advice and got in touch with the dvergir and we discussed the problem at length and we came up with this.” She finished as they entered her laboratory; her creation was lying on a pedestal, an unimpressive looking tool given all the uproar it had caused.
“It does look more streamlined,” River lied. “Do you mind if I touch it?”
She gave him wordless permission to do so. He held it up and examined it, felt the weight. It had never been very heavy but it was less so now. The disc in the center of the glove was the sigil she spoke of, though in the case of High House Wyrd that sigil was more lack than presence – probably a joke of some kind given the general absence of the House in Vanir society.
From all she had explained of her tool and its workings, the sigil had to remain standing in order for the glove to manipulate the energies around it and work. If the sigil was not exactly straight it would damage not only the glove but the person using it; he remembered all too well having to summon the healers of House Suwilo to come tend the Lady’s wounds in the early days of her work.
Her manservant had been as useless then as he was now.
The Lady had added an intricate series of concentric metal circles to encase and hold the sigil. No matter which way he moved the glove, the circles kept the sigil straight and tall unless he held it flat and parallel to the ground. When he looked at her she shuffled one foot and held her hands behind her back. She said that it wasn’t perfect yet but she was working on it.
“Where’s Lord Figo?” River asked, replacing the glove. “I’d heard he was staying with you.”
“He’s, uh, a little tied up right now.” The Lady’s cheeks flushed a little as she spoke, her eyes lighting with something he had always wanted for himself. The fact that the Lady had given herself to someone else galled him.
“Does he still have all his teeth?”
“As far as I can tell.”
The best thing about dealing with the Lady Wyrd, River thought, was that she barely ever noticed when you were insulting her. She moped when she did, though, taking the insults of others to heart with a sickening lack of self. However, she never fought back, giving River’s quick tongue and sharp wit free reign to strike and peck at her whenever he felt the need to indulge himself in ways other than his favorite.
He liked the look of painful degradation in their eyes; he did, though he would never say so.
They left her lab, went and had dinner. The Lady Wyrd took care of all their arrangements and Lord Figo did not join them, the boy lost in whatever amusements the good Lady had prepared for him. The warmth in her voice when she spoke of the youth quickened River and he decided if he ever got the chance to sate his curiosity with the boy he would take it.
Conversation turned to esoterica as the meal wore on and River lost himself in the theories that Wyrd felt like sharing. Her eyes alight and her expression devoid of political thought, she blathered on about all sorts of things that she was discovering, the myths of the other dozen nations seeping into her thought processes. River knew some of their stories and so kept up, asking pertinent questions; he was a myth-head, a storyteller, and so he studied those aspects of other cultures and brought their lesser understandings into the greater Vanir narrative.
Some of the squawkings of the other nations made little sense to him, but Wyrd was able to give him the context he lacked by applying a scientific rationale, however flawed, to the mad beliefs of those other peoples. River returned the favor, giving flavor and definition to the sciences that Wyrd had culled from those other peoples and other lands. The two of them had been doing this for the better part of fifty seasons.
River remembered when he had met the gangly Lady, just as she was beginning to come into her own. The ruling body of House Wyrd had been visiting the capital of House Mannuz and she had wandered off, getting lost in the bric-a-brac shops that lined the longest road. They had met by chance, River sitting by a stall and composing his works as she walked in and they had struck up a conversation, dovetailing their interests. She looked to him like an older brother, a kindred spirit, and sometimes as a mentor. He found her interesting, intelligent, and utterly mad – fun to watch and, he was sure, fun to break, ultimately useful.
The Lady Wyrd was so very earnest, so very awkward, so very lonely.
She made it so very easy to use her or take her for granted.
He supposed he could see why she would be attracted to Lord Figo. He’d met the youth a couple of times, Houses Jera and Mannuz entering several trade agreements. Figo was the eldest sibling of a lesser line, much beloved and much maligned all at once. River had never been fond of anything he’d seen in House Jera, though their young ones were pliant enough when the time came. He wondered if that’s why Wyrd found her new toy so appealing.
“What about you?”
River looked up, smiled and blinked. He’d let his mind wander while the good Lady had meandered off through whatever insanity had currently claimed her. He believed that her interest in his travels was motivated by her lack – with his combination of intelligence and charisma, he supposed, there was no better person for her to live vicariously through.
“I just toured through the Ansu and Raido lands,” River shrugged. “There was little enough entertainment in either, really, though there was a young Lord I met that you might find interesting.”
“Yes. He studies the lesser nations, as we do, and focuses on their stories, like I do. His name is Thea Raido. I have the means of putting the two of you in touch, should you like to speak with him.”
He watched as she studied him, saw that moment where she accepted what he said as fact merely because he said it. That level of respect quickened him all over again but he would never be able to seduce her, not with Figo visiting and stationary under her roof. Maybe, if he found Figo, he’d be able to have a taste of the youth before leaving – but that would only be doable if Figo could keep his mouth shut and River didn’t know enough about him to say if the boy could keep a secret.
They finished their food, settling in to discuss the finer points of the Darroken romantic fables concerning Esme and Garrahl, recreating the story and what it meant in relation to greater Vanir philosophies. Veskur left at one point and returned with her living toy, his cheeks flushed and red, his eyes glazed and his expression content. He joined the conversation and actually kept up, though he argued in favor of a happier interpretation than River or Veskur would have ever accepted.
River felt annoyance at the happiness and positivity the boy yearned for, especially in light of what the little fool had suffered. How could anyone who had endured such cruelty continue to be so naive?
They retired for the evening. Veskur and Figo left draped over one another, the two of them radiating an emotion that River knew for a fact was nothing more than illusion. Angry now, he went to his room and spent himself in Veskur’s sheets, then continued to harden and spend himself until his manhood bled. He imagined himself abusing a half dozen lovers, then Figo, then Thea.
Finally, as he drifted off into the darkness of sleep, he imagined Veskur’s face painted in the shame of his seed. His orgasm at that moment struck his body into breathless unconsciousness.
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