Chapter 4

Chapter 4

            When the torturing was finally over, Satel didn’t waste any time liberating me from Didra’s inquisitive wrath, teleporting us directly to the safety of our chambers. I felt utterly drained as I started climbing back into bed and mentally grumbled about my ordeal. The skin sample part hurt! Having my blood drawn only pinched for a second, but then made me feel weak and sick to my stomach. Didra just scoffed at me the entire time and told me my reactions were ‘psychosomatic’- all in my head. Cold-hearted bitch…

I didn’t even bother to crawl to the center of the bed- I just flopped down near the edge once I was sure I wouldn’t slide back off. I closed my eyes and waited for the nausea and dizziness to go away, idly wondering if I would need more seaweed stew soon. I was soon brought back to reality when I felt Satel’s hand on my knee, which then trailed up my thigh to rest on top of my belly. Curious, I opened my eyes to see what he was up to. Surely he wasn’t going to try and seduce me already?

My nightgown was covering me from neck to ankle, and the excess material cascaded down the edge of the bed, so I wasn’t worried of exposure- though I wasn’t so against the idea of mating anymore anyway.

“We need to talk ‘Tia-dear,” he began in a serious tone.

“No we don’t,” I countered quickly, already knowing what he wanted to discuss. There was nothing to talk about- my choices were clear and I’d already decided. “Just mate me. I won’t fight you anymore.”

I thought he would be relieved or a little happy that I chose to give in, but instead he gave me a sad look as he let his hand smooth back down my leg to my knee. Thankfully, the burning and itching sensations were dulled due to whatever effect the stew had, so it was easy not to show how uncomfortable I was from his touch- he’d likely take it the wrong way.

“This isn’t how I wanted to mate with you again- your acceptance is important to me, you know. I don’t want you to suffer anymore, but… I don’t want this to seem like some excuse to finally have you,” he told me, revealing more than I was expecting.

“Funny- I thought you were going to think I was just allowing this because it’s the only way to stop the disease,” I muttered in amusement before I paused and realized he could be thinking that. “I’m really not. I don’t want to use you just so I can have a cure.”

“I know. You can be mean, but you’re not that cold-hearted- not to us, at least,” the über hat man replied with a tiny grin. It was a little heart-warming to know that he knew me so well.

“…But even if we mate, our current relationship issues aren’t resolved yet. But I-” I was cut off when he placed a finger at my lips.

“Let’s not discuss that now- we’re talking about your health, the rest can come another day,” he urged before he traced my lips with the tip of his finger. Damn… I wanted to at least tell him that I felt differently about him now. I was much more accepting of the idea that I could love him, someday.

“We have a larger problem right now. I can’t mate with you like this,” he continued, appearing regretful.

“Why? Because I look bad?” I inquired, not really offended. I didn’t think he was the type to need a pretty face to get in the mood, given how effortlessly romantic he’d been the past few weeks, but I could see his point. It couldn’t be easy to bed a sick person.

“No, of course not. My problem is that you’re not feeling well. You might be suffering too much to feel any pleasure from what I might do, and that doesn’t bode well for me,” he explained calmly. Well, at least we were on the same page.

He was being sweet on me again- always trying to be a gentleman and making sure I’m as happy as he could make me. But I needed his hormones to get better, and I really didn’t want to live near the sea again first. Even if I had to endure some unpleasantness this time, I felt it would be worth it, especially if I could finally get out of this damned room.

“Don’t worry about it- just promise that the next time will get better. I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it,” I reassured him, attempting a tired smile. Yeah, the stew is definitely wearing off now- I was getting very tired, and the weakness was setting in again.

Satel attempted to smile back, but he didn’t quite manage it- instead there was a pained expression in his eyes. He grabbed one of my hands between his and hesitantly said, “You don’t understand- I really can’t do anything unless you respond to me. I can desire and touch you all I want, but if you’re suffering too much to enjoy it, we will not be able to mate.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, a little confused by that.

“My kind doesn’t seek self-pleasure- we only receive it from our partner. I can want to mate with you, very badly, but if you can’t get into the mood, then I can’t perform. This is why it’s impossible for my kind to find unwilling mates- and why I get so confused around you. You always respond so well to me… but then you run your mouth and give me the cold shoulder,” he informed me, sounding a little irritated at the end.

A moment of clarity hit me. It all began to make sense, from our first kiss to his exaggerated gentlemanly behavior when I was being not-so-decent. This was why I ended up his mate- I liked what he did, even though I struggled to associate it with love. I couldn’t convince him with my words, because my body, what he was listening to, was screaming the opposite. Not that this completely absolved him- though I had forgiven him for that, there was nothing wrong with me asking for more time first.

Thinking back on it, everything he’d said and done before matched with what he’d just told me. That’s why he was so upset when I claimed I didn’t feel anything from our first kiss, and why he lost control when I tried to buck him off me in Cec’re. It also explained why he could stare at my naked form and not get aroused, and yet I might feel him get hard if I let him kiss me long enough.

“So is that all it takes? The right smelling pheromone and a willing girl for a falucite to find a mate?” I asked, wondering if it really was that simple for them. It didn’t sound like there was any real love involved- it seemed more of a practical approach to ensure the couple would produce young someday.

Satel allowed a sly smile as he dissuaded that thought. “If that’s all it was, then I would’ve found a mate long before meeting you. I had to like you first, which resulted in that first kiss. Then I dated you to see how well we would get along, and if we had more in common than I first thought. I love your views on life and your dark sense of humor. I’m also enthralled with your sadistic approach to your fellow humans. I can’t get enough of how cute you look even though you deny that you are. I think you’re perfect by my standards.”

I was probably blushing again, though I was sure he couldn’t tell with how red my face already was. So there was more to it- and some of what he said wasn’t so surprising. I can see why he would be drawn to me by how I treated my kind- both he and Maetira were a little sadistic themselves. Though some of his other actions didn’t make sense- like when he tried his little ‘break-up’ tactic before. I almost wanted to ask about the reasoning behind that, but he did kind of answer that later on, after he changed his mind.

“Damn it, we should’ve had this conversation a long time ago,” I muttered as I covered my eyes with my arm. Had I heard this before, I wouldn’t have been so bewildered with his sudden declarations of love. Hearing the process laid out like this helped me really understand the differences between our races. I guess for him, love wasn’t that complicated- not like how it was for humans anyway.

“I apologize my sirsa. I didn’t know you had no idea- I thought Cegil would’ve told you something long ago. To be honest, I don’t know how humans function in regards to mating, so I just assumed you’d say something if you didn’t understand,” he pointed out reasonably. It was true that Cegil could’ve taught me about it, but at the time he thought it was far more appropriate to teach me falucite law and customs. He’d only gave me a brief summary of the subject and quit after I showed signs of being uncomfortable. He didn’t foresee me someday ending up with one of his own kind, let alone his very own brother, so he probably never thought to revisit it. Not that I’d ever have wanted to ask, at any rate.

I wanted to tell him how humans were as complex and twisted as I was- how some were depraved enough to not care where they have sex or who they get it from, while the rest of society condemned it as a shameful act not meant for public. For us, sex and love were not the same- though lovers could certainly have sex with each other for as long as they loved each other- but that ‘love’ didn’t always last. In fact, I would say that it’s incredibly rare if it did. But… in the end, I couldn’t bear to say a word.

I liked Satel’s views, and some part of me didn’t want to disillusion him about the disgusting side of humans. In a way, I wanted to protect him from finding out about the general infidelity of my kind. Whether it’s strictly biological or his own cultural beliefs, falucite loyalty and practical views of love were refreshing to me. The Wise Man taught me to never marry for love, only to marry for companionship. While I’m sure this wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, it was very close.

I could live with Satel for the rest of my life- I cared about him, I liked being with him, and I couldn’t exactly complain about how good our first mating was. Perhaps love will follow when I figure out what it meant, but I didn’t want to leave him now. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders now that the other half of my problems were gone. I’d figured out in the past few weeks that I’d only had trouble discerning Satel’s personality and real intentions because I’d never taken the time to really get to know him. Now that I did know him better, all that left was an inner worry that he didn’t really love- I was worried that he was confused, that I was really only just a compatible female. That was neither ‘companionship’ nor ‘love’, and thus something I was against.

However, my relief at finally understanding this facet of our relationship was short lived- the reality of my illness shoved its way back into my thoughts. We both sat there quietly as he lightly massaged my hand. I still tried not to let my discomfort show- though now I wondered if he could feel it somehow. I was starting to feel worse by the minute- the pain in my wrists and forehead were coming back in full force. Pretty soon the weakness in my limbs would return and I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed until I was fed more stew. I definitely wasn’t up for trying right now.

“I wouldn’t want to stay for long, but maybe we can go to the coast for a few days until I feel better enough to mate,” I suggested as I gently removed my hand from his, resting it beside me. “Maybe one of the towns on the west coast will be enough. I remember Cahoa sits on a cliff above the Sea of Loerati.”

It was odd, but the entire west coast of this continent was all cliffside, so none of the towns next to the sea there were considered to be seafarers. But I did remember that the sea air permeated through the towns I’d been to, so it might be enough. So long as I didn’t have to put up with the loathsome remarks of pirate-hating bigots, then I would be able to handle the short stay.

“It’s a thought, but…” He trailed off uneasily, before his expression lightened as an idea came to him, “Let me try one thing tonight, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll do your suggestion.”

“What is it?” I inquired, wondering what was going through his head. I had no problems letting him try something tonight- if it cured me faster, then all the better.

“For now it’s a surprise. Just go to sleep while I go make preparations,” the blond bastard said with a smirk before leaning down to give me a quick kiss. It had been a while since I’d last seen his arrogant face, I hadn’t realized how much I missed it… but even so, I couldn’t stop the suspicious feeling in my gut. Just what ‘preparations’ was he talking about?

He disappeared on me before I could ask, damn him, he did that on purpose. I scowled at the ceiling before I gave up and made myself comfortable. He was being a little shifty, but I did trust him- I honestly didn’t believe he was out to humiliate or hurt me anymore, so there was no harm in giving him the benefit of the doubt. Though I had to wonder why he was so determined to cure me right this instant…

Oh well, there was no use in thinking about it now. I gave my own smirk before I drifted off in a light sleep. I could only imagine what he was up to- preparations indeed!

********************

What felt like hours later, I lay there hovering between sleep and consciousness. At first, I felt pressure on my lips, but thought nothing of it until something slipped past them and started exploring my mouth. I let out a moan and opened my eyes to find a white blur above me. When my sight adjusted, I discovered Satel positioned over me, his lips to mine. It wasn’t one of those sweet, comforting kisses- he was giving me a true toe-curling scorcher.

I wasn’t sure where this had come from, but I found myself enjoying it- at least until the rest of my body caught up. It didn’t take long for my skin to start burning or the blisters to throb. Just as soon as the wave of discomfort hit me, Satel jerked back like he had been burned as well.

He ran his hand though his hair as we both tried to regain our breath. I stared up at him with confusion as he gave me a sheepish look.

“I was afraid that would happen,” he muttered more to himself than to me.

“What? Did you feel what I did?” I asked, somewhat amazed that my earlier wonderings had been correct.

“Close enough- this is what I meant before when I said I couldn’t do anything if you didn’t want it. Whatever you just felt made your body reject me, making me have no choice but to back off,” he replied, trying to hide his frustration. Didn’t work. I guessed his earlier action was a test to see if he could get away with it- guess not.

So this was what we were up against- I didn’t think it would be so powerful as to stop him in his tracks… which meant he was really serious earlier about my hidden desires for him. Had I truly wanted nothing to do with him, he’d have kept a good fifteen foot distance back when we’d first met.

“But as you saw, I had no trouble initiating that kiss,” he continued with a sly smile. “I want you no matter how you look.”

“I’m not in the mood for flattery,” I grumbled with a light slur, still trying to fight off that sluggish feeling of waking up. I tried to ignore the discomfort and weakness that was quickly invading my limbs. Though I tried to dismiss his words, it did make me a little pleased to hear that my current condition wasn’t a disgusting sight to him.

He used his wind magicks to create a pile of pillows behind me, and then helped me sit up so I was reclining against them. He then reached over to the nearby nightstand and grabbed a wooden tray with two bowls on top. He balanced the tray on my lap so it would be easier for me to reach. I gave him a confused glance before examining the bowls- he usually didn’t give me the food since he liked feeding me himself, but apparently he was going to let me do it on my own this time.

“What flattery?” he murmured as he neatly arranged the two bowls and a spoon on the tray. “Can’t you accept that I find you beautiful no matter what your skin looks like? I love that seafaring pirate inside you- and I will silence anyone who dares say otherwise.”

…He was serious about that- at least I didn’t hear any humor in his tone, nor did his expression betray any smirking. I chose to focus on my dinner than to really reflect on his words. The larger bowl contained the seaweed stew I’d been eating religiously for the past few weeks, while the smaller cup-sized one had three lumps of fleshy blobs.

“Are those oysters?” I inquired as I looked up at him curiously. I hadn’t had oysters in a very long time, though the Wise Man always tried to prevent me from eating any due to its infamous rumor of being an aphrodisiac. I never once felt anything strange from eating them, though it might’ve been because I was just a child and hadn’t yet had any sexual urges.

“Not quite. They’re seysters- the lesser demon version of oysters. They’re the real aphrodisiac, and the second favorite food of mermaids,” he informed me with that sly grin back on his face. I’d heard of those- seysters were one of the few species of lesser demons that didn’t have a greater demon counterpart. Thank goodness, too… I didn’t want to imagine what kind of nasty monster they would look like.

I’d heard many stories about seysters from sailors, the most prominent one being that they could grant the best sex in one’s life and cause a swift, painless death hours after eating it- kind of like what mermaids did to their victims. …Maybe that’s why they liked eating them, too. Like with most of the demonic persuasion, they were poisonous to humans (but not other higher order creatures), and thus seafarers took great care in learning to identify the differences between the two species.

“Will I survive them? They’re poisonous to humans,” I pointed out. This wouldn’t be the first time he gave me something without knowing how dangerous it was to an unmodified human. I wasn’t sure if the hormones still inside me were strong enough, given how bad this disease was affecting me.

“You should still be immune to poisons, but even if you’re not, it will not matter. Eating just one of these guarantee that we’ll mate tonight- hopefully it will be enough to help you ignore your discomfort.”

The jaded side of me couldn’t help but mentally point out that he was deliberately drugging me so I would have sex with him. Under normal circumstances that would be creepy, but this was hardly normal. Hell, my recovery depended on his mating me… the Maker not only had a sense of humor, I must also be His favorite toy.

“You said I only need one, but I see three here,” I said, quirking an eyebrow at him.

“I want to be extra sure that you enjoy what I’m about to do to you,” he replied after an amused chuckle. He likely gave me three so that it would be certain I wouldn’t feel anything. I had no reason to doubt that the seysters would work, so long as I truly was immune to the poison. The stories I’d heard about them gave me reason to believe that Satel’s plan would succeed.

“Oh that doesn’t sound one bit perverted,” I muttered flatly as I resisted giving him a deadpan stare. I wasn’t really complaining about what was going on or what was about to happen, but I felt like I was being exploited somehow. But I allowed a smile on my face as an idea came to me. I had a sudden urge to see Satel eat one of them- not because I didn’t trust him, but because I wanted to see his expression as he did it.

“In that case, why don’t you eat one and I’ll have two?” I suggested, not revealing my thoughts about it just yet. I doubt that the stories of these things being potent were exaggerated, but even if they were, something told me three would probably be overkill. I felt confident that giving one away wouldn’t sabotage his plan any. I watched in amusement as his eyes widened, then he attempted to appear poised and seductive as he shook his head.

“I assure you, ‘Tia-dear, that once you’re in the mood, I will have no trouble meeting your expectations,” he purred sexily, before his he raised an eyebrow and murmured, “Or are you implying that you don’t trust me?”

“Neither,” I answered, before I decided to reveal my reasoning. “I just want to see you eat something you’d consider a dessert. I know you can have one of these without worrying, but you always seem to avoid all treats.”

I’d once had the pleasure to watch Cegil eat a meat dish called ha’ra and saw him scowl throughout the whole meal, complaining how it was bad for him. I didn’t exactly want to put Satel in the same position and annoy him, but I really wanted to see what he’d do. Would he make that same funny face as Cegil?

“Well, meats are kind of addictive to my kind, so I’ve been conditioned to avoid it as much as possible, at least until I reach adulthood. However, at my age, I should be able to handle just one,” he told me before he reached over and took my spoon. He then scooped up one of the blobs and slurped it into his mouth with no hesitation. He appeared to enjoy the taste as he savored the delicacy and then swallowed.

As far as I knew, falucite were weight conscious, and since meats (and other formally living creatures) were nothing more than tasty snacks with no nutritional value, I could see why Satel would be discouraged from eating them. Kids often had to be pulled away from sweets to prevent them from forming addictions, as it could carry on to adulthood and make them suffer from obesity and rotten teeth. After hearing that, I kind of wished I’d stopped him, just in case he wasn’t quite old enough yet.

“Now eat your stew and those seysters while I finish transporting water from the Sea of Loerati into our bath. I figure bathing in it would also help soothe your skin,” Satel told me before he backed away, almost a little too quickly, and strode over to the bathroom. I get his reasoning, as saltwater seemed to help me the most, given how strongly I’d reacted to drinking it. And having the waters from Loerati would be best, as she was the goddess of peace and tranquility- not that it would make any difference where it came from, I supposed.

I couldn’t resist the smell of the stew for that long, I was practically dying for it. But it’d been so long since I last held a spoon, that I jokingly had to wonder if I still knew how to use one. …But after a few hasty mishaps, I nearly threw the utensil down and just lifted the bowl to drink it directly.

In my defense, I couldn’t help myself- Satel had always been too slow in feeding me the salty broth, and my body was desperate for the taste and the temporary release from the symptoms. I only paused a few times to chew the seaweed and imai chunks, but over all, I finished the stew in less than a minute. I ate like a starving madman- luckily for me, the stew was lukewarm and easy to swallow. Lioa had definitely perfected her art, heh.

I gently put down the bowl and took a moment to recover from my brief insanity. Elit, it was like I’d found the elixir of eternal health or something…

When I’d completely calmed down, I picked up the spoon again and poked at the two pink blobs. Oysters I had no problem eating, but seysters… well knowing that they’re poisonous gave me reason to pause. I knew I should be (or will be) immune to them, but it was hard to fight that old warning of excruciating death. I let in a deep breath, exhaled, then scooped one up and shoved it in my mouth.

It was the same watery consistency as its cousin. When I used my tongue to crush it against the roof of my mouth, I detected a bitter taste similar to what I’d find in oysters, but then there was a flavorful aftertaste I couldn’t identify. It was really good, and I found myself quickly consuming the other one too.

Just seconds after I swallowed them, I began to feel… funny. My skin was feeling tingly and my limbs were starting to twitch. I soon found that I was extremely sensitive to touch as the material of my nightgown sent delightful jolts down my body and straight to my lower belly. No way- were the seysters working already?

Since the stew never really got rid of the burning sensation of my skin, I was surprised to discover that my temporary sensitivity didn’t seem to exacerbate it. I decided to test and see if my blisters still hurt in this state by raising my fingers to my hairline. I felt a shiver run through me, then an urge to run my fingers through my hair. I let out a loud moan when I obliged my inner urges. That felt too good, considering the action never did anything for me before…

I began to feel very hot, and for a brief moment I thought my fever was acting up again. Not long after that I realized I was wrong, since I had developed a very strong desire to get out of my clothes. Oh this is so wrong- those damned sea demons should never exist!

“Are you ready my sirsa?” a seductive tone called out from the bathroom doorway. …Or maybe my delirious state was imagining the seduction. I wouldn’t put it past myself.

I darted my eyes to Satel and just froze. It was almost a deja vu of the day he caught on about my illness. He was shirtless and his hair was down- but instead of leaning back with his arms crossed, he was bending forward with his arm propped against the frame and his head resting against his arm. He looked like he was in pain, but there was a dark grin on his face and a rather possessive look in his eyes. I felt my insides melt at the sight of him.

His face was flushed and his eyes were darkened to a near brown, full of lust as he pushed away from the wall and sauntered over to the bed. Before I could even stop myself, my eyes lowered to his pants, where I noticed a very obvious bulge. I was in equal parts excited, mesmerized, and confused to see it.

“Ah thought ye can’t get aroused wit’out me?” I questioned him, too worked up to concentrate on masking my accent. Since my eyes were focused on his crotch, I noticed the material getting tighter around him at the sound of my voice. I closed my eyes and tried hard not to think of what we were about to do- I wanted to keep my wits about me, but I was rapidly losing them.

“I didn’t exactly say that,” he replied in a much deeper and sensual voice that had me taking deeper breaths, trying to fight off the wave of lust that was hitting me full force. “I can’t satisfy myself without you- outside influences can affect me, but I’ll never find release if you don’t respond to me.”

So he just knowingly took a risk by eating one- he could suffer if this didn’t work. Though given how I was feeling right then, even I was pretty confident that something was going to happen. This energy and heat building between us felt almost natural, despite it being brought on by a sea mollusk.

I arched my back when his hand touched the crook of my arm, the innocent contact feeling so exquisite that it was ridiculous. I opened my eyes in time to see Satel’s face hovering above mine, his other arm taking the opportunity to wrap around me and pull my upper body flush against him. This was just driving me insane!

I completely lost my mind as I made the first move- I slid my hands around his neck and grabbed fistfuls of his thick blond locks, jerking his head down and covering his lips with my own. He made a noise of approval as he eagerly tilted his head to the side and parted his lips to let me enter and take control. Odd, he didn’t usually let me be in charge so easily- but I soon dismissed it, as I was just a tad busy at the moment.

Now that I was a little more experienced at kissing, I eagerly explored his mouth, caressed his tongue, and even nipped at his bottom lip- each action made him grip me tighter until he couldn’t stand it anymore. Without any regard to the tray still over my lap, he roughly pulled me down from the bed, while still entangled in a deep kiss. I vaguely heard a crash as the bowls, spoon, and tray clattered to the ground, but I barely noticed it over the feel of his body drawing against mine until our chests and groins were pressed together.

Satel quickly took over as he ran his hands along my body, and he began plundering my mouth. My modesty soon abandoned me and I let my hands travel down his chest to the band of his pants before I fumbled undoing the buttons. I was as desperate to get him out of his remaining clothing as I was eager for him to get me out of my own.

The long-haired man growled and spun me around, forcibly breaking our kiss. Our breathing was heavy and I looked back at him to see he was removing his trousers. I let out a pleased moan again when he pulled me against him and I felt his hardness against my lower back. I could feel him smirking against my cheek as his hands reached up to my neck, where he began to slowly unbutton the nightgown…

I squirmed with impatience- he was driving me mad! When he reached the last one, he placed his hands on my shoulders and tugged the material down until my nightgown looked like an off-the-shoulders dress. He growled again, deeper this time, and began kissing and licking from my jaw down to the base of my neck, drawing out sweet sensations that had me crying out his name. Those damned seysters had left me with no modesty whatsoever.

My breath hitched and I felt a throb in my insides when he lost control and ripped the rest of my nightclothes from me. It was so primal of him- and it kind of reminded me of the time when he almost ravished me in Cec’re. Was he always like this deep down, or were the seysters making him do it?

Whatever- it didn’t matter. We were both nude, aroused, and slowly losing our minds to an aphrodisiac. At this point there was no need for foreplay, and I had no idea how he could possibly draw this out for much longer. I felt a hand at my breast and I responded in kind by reaching behind me to grab at whatever flesh I could reach. We were both crying out in pleasure like we were already in midst of the act. Thank Elit no one could hear us- I’d die of embarrassment.

“Close your eyes, my sirsa,” he commanded in a whisper against my ear. It was surprisingly easy to obey- my eyes had been closing a lot since this had started. I wanted to savor each sensation and remember each caress.

I thought he was about to get us back in bed to finish us off, but instead I was suddenly submerged in warm water. Despite his order, my eyes flew open as he turned me around and guided me to sit. I glanced around in a frenzy, the passion temporarily forgotten, as I found that we were in the middle of an ocean with a great blue sky, endless water, and ambient sounds of wind and waves.

I knew he could teleport us anywhere, but was he honestly going to mate me out in the open? Even if we appeared to be in a secluded place, there was no telling if any ships or sea demons might show up.

“It’s just an illusion- we’re in the bath,” Satel informed me, calming me down instantly. “I just want to trick your body into thinking we’re at sea, the more fooled it is the better.”

I remembered that he said that he was putting seawater in our bath, which would explain the smell of brine. His illusion filled in the rest of the gaps by making me think I’m seeing endless sea and sky, but the only inconsistency was that there was no way we could be standing on something solid out in this kind of solitude- it would be impossible, as I couldn’t see any trace of land in his illusion.

Though I thought it was impressive that he could make me hear wind and how he was making the water move like natural waves. But that was soon far from my mind when Satel backed me up against what my body dismissed as a rock. My mind figured that I was actually against the short stairs that made up the bath wall.

His body slid over mine, creating a wonderful friction on our skin, before his face hovered over me with a wide grin. He then whispered something in another language- I wasn’t sure what it meant, but it had me weak in the knees and clinging to him. A shuddering breath escaped me as one of his hands trailed up my side and came to rest at my cheek. I leaned into his touch and opened my mouth, waiting for a kiss.

“I love you so much, ‘Tia-dear- I never want this to end,” he muttered feverishly before claiming my lips. Though it had been a while since our first time, he had no trouble entering my body, and thanks to the seysters I didn’t feel any discomfort or pain.

I don’t think I’d ever felt so much in my life. After a while, the illusion and the setting didn’t matter to me anymore- all that was there was him and the ecstasy he was building up between us. The end of our frantic joining came suddenly and powerfully, to the point where we weren’t able to move for a long time. We lay there in the water, his racing heart under my ear, while we slowly calmed ourselves down. Once the sensations had finally passed, my sated body grew so tired that I just dozed off then and there…

The next morning, I was in bed with Satel snuggling on top of me. It had been a while since he’d last done that, as he didn’t want to cause me further discomfort. Though he’d never admit it, since doing so would prove that he’d been rolling over on top of me on purpose- something he always denies is his doing. I didn’t really mind it- I was just curious as to why.

I didn’t think I would miss waking up this way, but I did. I felt so content and happy- in fact I was much more awake and energetic than I remembered feeling in quite some time. I didn’t feel any pain, itching, or burning, nor did I feel very hot. I managed to free a hand and hold it before my face. I was pleased to find that all the redness was already gone from my skin. There were still some bumps present, but they were fading in both color and size.

So it worked- as long as I kept mating and receiving hormones, then I would never have to worry about the disease ever again. But I still wanted to know how I’d contracted Seafarer’s Madness after seven years of escaping it. I also still wanted a permanent cure because even though it was being held back, there was still something in my body, waiting for the chance to strike again. But for now, this was wonderful.

Satel soon began to stir, then stretch, before he propped himself up and looked down at me. He grabbed my hand that I was still examining and kissed the back of it with a grin.

“Morning ‘Tia-dear. How are you feeling? You look a lot better,” he greeted, appearing both relieved and happy over the results.

I couldn’t really answer him- before I knew it, my hand escaped his and wound its way behind his neck, where I proceeded to pull him down and kiss him. I was likely very happy that I was feeling better and wanted to celebrate my wellness with him… or the double dose of seysters were still in my system and I was under the influence.

…It was difficult to tell, but neither of us certainly had any complaints about anything following that kiss.

But it was unanimously agreed between Satel and I that we would never use stimulants ever again, unless it was for emergencies such as this. Even though the experience was euphoric, we were too young to be dependant on them- and we were perfectly capable on our own. Well… there was that, but we also weren’t ready for that level of passion. That was something that had to come to us naturally.

********************

About a week after I overcame the grips of Seafarer’s Madness, I was back to my old schedule. The only difference from before was that now I didn’t attempt to avoid Satel- I even went out of my way to talk to him more if I saw him. I did still discourage public affection, as that was something I just wasn’t comfortable with, but I allowed more touching and intimacy when we were alone in our chambers.

Our relationship was close, though it was more about mating than romance to me. I’m sure in Satel’s mind he saw more, but I wasn’t quite seeing it yet. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, but I was just… waiting for something. I couldn’t explain it, but for the past month or so, I’d been experiencing revelations were helping me overcome my (perhaps idiotic) difficulties in accepting him. The time we’d spent together was technically forced, since I couldn’t run from him when I was sick, but it was more than enough for me to finally see what was in front of me.

I’d learned to trust and even care for him- I’d come to understand him and why he is what he is. I had no more doubts about him or any reason to fight. However- recognizing my feelings as love might take a little more than that. All the things I felt about Satel now was very similar to what I felt about Cegil. But I certainly didn’t love Satel as a father, and I didn’t want to.

Who knows? Maybe there was nothing left for me to figure out- perhaps I’m already there and I just didn’t know it was love. Either way, I wasn’t trying too hard to figure it out anymore. I just enjoyed Satel’s company whenever we were together.

I didn’t even argue with him when he asked me out on another date. Funnily enough, he was expecting me to resume fighting him now that I was better, and he had a list of reasons why I should go somewhere with him. I ended up disarming him with a simple ‘sure’ after his first try. He was shocked at first, then broke out into a grin before he ecstatically discussed where we could go.

Since it had only been a week, we thought it was too soon to declare myself recovered enough for anything strenuous. So, we decided to get some drinks at a bar and see where the night would take us. …Considering that I had yet to be at a bar that didn’t end up in some massive riot, I probably should’ve suggested somewhere else. But then I’d probably never learn.

So there we were at a random bar in a random town. Satel wanted to buy me something expensive, but I insisted on plain old ale, since I hadn’t had any for such a long time. It may have been a crude drink in his eyes, but it was the first alcoholic beverage I’d ever had, so it grew on me.

“I’m delighted that you agreed to this date, but I wish you wouldn’t wear your hair that way,” the über hat man admitted as he swirled around his wine. We were both at the counter, sitting at the stools. He was facing me with one arm leaning on the surface and his head resting against his arm while I faced the bar and nursed my mug.

I chose to not only wear my hair down, but I had most of my bangs cover my face, as I used to wear them before I settled down in the homestead. It was a breach of our agreement, as he said he wanted to see my face, but I had my reasons to hide myself.

“It won’t be a habit- I just don’t want to bring attention to myself tonight,” I reassured him, knowing that all I needed to do was show my face to entice trouble. All I knew about this town was that it was close enough to the coastal regions where landlubbers would identify me as a seafarer- and if not that then I probably was here before and maaaybe had pissed off some head honcho here.

I was likely strong enough to take it, and if not then Satel would handle everything, but I wanted as close to a peaceful night with him as possible. Also, Didra would be pissed if I went against her orders during what she deemed my recuperating phase. Feh…

“You aim for the impossible, you know. You’re gorgeous and every man will notice you,” he said with a grin before he took a quick sip. “Too bad they’ll find out the hard way that you’re mine.”

“That isn’t what they’ll find out the hard way,” I muttered after a huff.

As I spoke, my hand unconsciously reached up to touch my forehead under my hair to feel the bumps still present. My skin was completely cleared, save for the first sign of the rash. The blisters were gone and didn’t hurt anymore, but it seemed they left behind a permanent scar, like a circlet tattooed to my hairline. I wasn’t worried about anyone seeing them, as they were well hidden even when my bangs were tucked back. But the fact that there was still a disease in me will always make me worry in the back of my mind.

“Oh don’t worry about those little scars. I think they enhance your beauty,” Satel said honestly, misreading my actions. I wasn’t worried about my vanity, so his trying to cheer me up was for nothing.

“I was talking about being a seafarer,” I responded flatly to clear up the confusion, but then I managed a smile to thank him for being sweet. “But thanks.”

“Why thank me for the truth? It doesn’t matter what you are- you’re clearly one of the most beautiful women your race has to offer. Any ‘landlubber’ that says otherwise will have to answer to me,” he promised, making me roll my eyes. Why was he so insistent on my appearance? Did he think I had no self-esteem, or did he forget that flattery doesn’t always work on me?

“Satel, that’s just your opinion. Not every person will agree with you- at least not if I punch them in the face or something,” I replied with a smirk of my own before I took a sip of my ale.

My mate just winked at me and raised his glass in a mock salute before he stated with a smug look, “Let them think what they want. You should know that my opinion is all that matters.”

I snickered at that- the arrogant man always had to have the last say. I decided to let him win this one, even though I did have a good response to that. I knew he didn’t think he was always right, so I didn’t feel the need to bring him down.

“I love it when you laugh- not only does it mean you’re happy, but sometimes it means something fun is about to happen,” the blond bastard commented cryptically, probably seeing what was approaching. I caught a glimpse of what he meant out of the corner of my eye- a man was approaching us from my left. I’d caught in his tone what he was implying with ‘fun’, and had to wonder how he foresaw everything heading towards disaster.

He was drunk – nothing new – and he was staring at me like I was some loose party girl. …Strange, considering that I never dressed like one- those girls deliberately pull up their skirts and show their knees to entice men. The man himself wasn’t too bad looking, but his hair was mussed like someone had played with it and he had lipstick everywhere but on his lips. I guessed he’d been playing around with all the girls tonight and thought I would indulge him too.

“Hey pretty thing, I’m a rich man! Wanna play with me little girl?” he asked coyly as he winked and raised his mug. While Satel could perform that with grace, he was too imbalanced and ended up splashing some of his drink on his already soaked shirt. He was very clearly drunk, yet his voice was clear and he seemed coherent enough.

I turned in my seat and decided to give him at least five seconds of conversation. But in the back of my mind a conscious, or a mental representation of my rationality, started muttering in a voice that oddly sounded like a frantic Cegil.

‘Don’t you taunt him- don’t you dare. You’re going to get in trouble!’

…And as always, I dismissed it as getting too buzzed from a drink. “Oh? Where did you get the money? Come into it, or did you steal it?”

“I earned it! Some might call it stealing but it is a job you know,” he replied, stupidly revealing himself as a common thief.

“Indeed it is,” I agreed, remembering similar words from the Wise Man. I wasn’t condemning him for what he was since I used to be a pirate- like was like, after all. I just simply didn’t like him because he was coming between me and my date with Satel is all. Out of habit, I examined his person to detect where he was hiding his treasures. I didn’t have any desire to steal from him, though it would’ve been easy considering how drunk he was, but I had no need for more money when Satel was taking care of everything. I wasn’t as greedy as my fellow pirates, but I did have my moments.

The next thing I knew, he was fishing in one of his pockets and then tossed three shiny objects at me. I caught them with ease and found that he had given me three gold cedit. I gave him a confused glance as I wondered what in five hells was it for. I didn’t think he was being generous.

With a crooked smile he gesture to a door at the back of the room with his mug, splashing more ale on himself and on the floor. “I’ll meet you there in five minutes sweet thing.”

My eye twitched as I realized I was being propositioned. Oddly enough, that never happened to me before because my conversations with drunks had never had gotten this far. Usually I’d have punched them the moment they call me by some pet name. With a glare, I threw the cedit back at him before he could walk off. The flat square pieces bounced off him and fell to the ground, since he wasn’t expecting it.

“Find yourself a working girl- I’m not interested,” I told him sternly as I shook my head. “If I wanted your money, I’d have stolen half of it already.”

“What!? Are you saying you’re too good for me?” he snarled after a moment, once his sloshed brain figured out that I was refusing him. Why was it all men had to go there when a girl says no? Was it really that shocking that not every woman wanted to spread their legs for random strangers? Or did they think they were entitled to have any woman they laid eyes on? People like him pissed me off.

I was half-cocked and ready to start a fight from that thought alone, but then a chuckle from Satel reminded me that he was here and that I was trying not to start anything. I managed a glance at him and noticed that he was enjoying the show. If I were any other woman, people would admonish him for not standing up to the guy on my behalf, but he knew better than to fight my battles. That’s why he’s awesome.

However, I knew if I were to rise up to the challenge that was being presented to me, then I would be facing Didra’s wrath later when she finds out- and I know she will, she’s evil like that. So instead, I shifted the challenge over to Satel’s lap and see where he’d take it.

“Can’t you see I’m with someone?” I retorted as I gestured to my date with a tilt of my head. For the first time, it seemed Satel wasn’t noticed before, as the man appeared shocked to see him there. I wonder what was different from the other times when intruders would focus on him first?

“Hmph! I’m manlier than him- he can’t be bothered to cut his hair and he looks like a weakling. I can do much better that…that.” The man then sneered as he took a step towards the blond to stare him down. “S’matter girly ass? Worried a real man will take your girl? You gonna do something about it?”

The über hat man just sat there with a grin on his face, clearly amused by him and his words. I had to admire his cool and collected demeanor as he just let the man make an ass of himself. I would’ve beaten him up already if it were me. Though after a second, I realized there was more to his appearance- that darkened look in his eyes made his expression almost a little crazed.

It was very slight, but he wasn’t really dismissing it as something he didn’t care about. He was actually making a face that said ‘go ahead and mock me, idiot- you’ll get yours soon’. …Damn, that was sexy.

Upon growing bored at no response from the falucite, the drunk turned to me and caught me in the shameless act of staring at my companion with a heated look. He quickly figured out that I was too interested in the blond to pay him any mind and scoffed.

“Whatever,” he growled as he dismissed both of us. “Dumb bitch is too ugly to bed- I was only offering out of pity.”

Aww… He’s such a sore loser that he had to attempt to make me feel bad. That seemed to be another trait with drunken idiots at bars- if they can’t win the girl, then they try to take cheap shots by hurting her feelings. Too bad that I’d heard it all before from men that failed with other women, so it didn’t bother me one bit.

The loser turned and muttered, “Seafarers really are as stupid as they say.”

I frowned at that and sighed before I slowly tucked my bangs behind my ears. Apparently covering my face didn’t work as much as I thought it did if a drunk still identified me. But at the same time I did that, the über hat man moved in a blinding flash and before I knew it, the man had crashed into the nearest round table and split it in half. It took me a moment to figure out that Satel had actually punched him.

I stared wide eyed as the people previously sitting at the table fled and the drunk tried to get up from the broken wood. Suddenly he was knocked back down and grunted as if he was being hit by an invisible force. I soon discovered that the blond was using his magicks to hurt the guy. He was then standing up and slowly approached the man as the rest of the patrons began backing away in fear. They had no idea what was going on, but knew that something wasn’t right, given how Satel wasn’t laying a finger on the man but he was still crying out in agony.

“Ugly you say?” the long-haired man said in a superior tone. “You have no idea what beauty is, given how you’re only used to sleeping with filthy vermin found in trash heaps. My sirsa is far beyond your station, and you should be grateful she even spared you a glance!”

Oh what? He was upset about that? I thought he was attacking the man for calling him girly or something. I quickly jumped down from my stool and gently tugged at Satel’s braid to get his attention.

“Oh knock it off, Satel. I got this,” I told him as I stepped around him and then crouched down to look him in the eye. Now that I stunned my mate, the magicks had stopped and the man was finally free to get up. I reached out and helped him up in a rare display of generosity.

“Sorry about that,” I apologized, not explaining the reason I was sorry. The man cast a fearful glance at the man behind me before he stared at me warily. I feigned a sunny smile before I sweetly inquired. “Now, what was it you said about me a second ago?”

If this was going to be about me, then I was going to finish it. I just needed him to repeat his offensive words to give me justification to throw a hit. …I just prayed that Didra wouldn’t find out about this. I knew Satel wouldn’t betray me, but I felt like the evil shrew woman had someone spying on me- or maybe Maetira was somehow watching me through her special sight. She said I was an Unknown though, so I was really hoping that wasn’t possible.

At first the man only continued to stare in a bewildered state, seconds away from sheer panic, but after realizing that Satel wasn’t attacking again, his eyes narrowed before he shook his head and tried to spit at me. I backed away a step and watched as the spittle landed near my feet.

“I know what you’re trying to do, nasty slut! You’re just toying with me so you can get your bodyguard to attack me again!” he snarled, forgetting that name calling was what got him in trouble in the first place.

He didn’t repeat what I wanted to hear, but it was close enough. I swiftly punched him in the stomach, causing him to double over and collapse to his knees. I then turned on my heel and acted like I was clapping dirt off my hands before resting one on my hip.

“Yeah, no- I don’t need a bodyguard to settle my affairs,” I replied as I returned to Satel’s side. The blond man was no longer upset and had a genuine smirk back on his face. I smiled back at him and was about to say something when the doors of the bar were kicked open and several uniformed authorities stormed in.

Damn they were fast- I guess someone ran out to get them the moment Satel had punched the guy. But I didn’t get why there were so many- and why they were all holding their guns like a beast was going to lunge at them the instant they burst through the door. The altercation was limited to us three- no one else was involved and only one table was destroyed by our actions. That warranted barely three lawmen to come and assess the situation, let alone twenty. Ah well, I guess someone in the crowd could recognize a falucite when they saw one.

“Everyone freeze!” the officer shouted before all the patrons and the bartenders raised their hands in the air.

“Well shit,” I muttered uncaringly, knowing that for once I wasn’t going to get in much trouble. I half expected Satel to be gone already and waiting to rescue me from the cell they’ll throw me in, but I was proven wrong when his hand stopped me from mimicking the others. He just laced his fingers through mine and started pulling me towards the officers.

“What are-” I quit talking when the blond bastard raised a finger to his lips and signaled for me to be quiet.

I did as he requested and let him lead me out. The lawmen continued to bark out orders as they tried to figure out who’s at fault and who they needed to arrest, but they didn’t notice us as we calmly walked past them and towards the door. I realized that they couldn’t see us because Satel had cast his illusion magicks on them- and probably on everyone in the bar. We left undetected since the door was left open and soon we were outside, walking along the streets through the sparse crowd as if we had nothing to do with the disturbance behind us.

“I apologize for fighting your battle for you,” the über hat man eventually said to me after we were a distance away from the bar. “It’s just that when he said those things to you after I had just finished worshiping you like my personal goddess, I felt like he was making a liar out of me, and I…” he trailed off.

“Lost control?” I guessed when he didn’t finish.

Satel was silent for a long minute before he lowly admitted, “Yes.”

So the fight wasn’t completely about me, but his ego and a personal grudge against being called a liar. I actually felt better knowing that, since he had no business getting upset just because a sore loser called me ugly. It wasn’t like my feelings were hurt, otherwise I’d have dealt with it from the moment it’d left his mouth.

“It happens to the best of us,” I replied, forgiving his behavior. I saw him express relief in the corner of my eye before he tightened his fingers around mine.

It was nice to know that he wasn’t perfect all of the time- it would have been hard for me to live up to that standard, even though he didn’t expect me to be perfect. He accepted me at my worst behavior and didn’t act like he was above my preferences- in fact he’d join in if I wanted to illegally disturb the peace. Elit, I loved this man…

And it was then when it hit me. I thought it would come to me in a more profound or earth shattering way, but that simple admission was all I needed. I could say I loved Satel and mean it- and though I didn’t say it out loud, it still slipped out in my mind and it felt natural to think it.

What’s more, I just discovered I had been staring up at him with a smile on my face for the entire time we had been walking. It was a lot like how he’d stare at me with that same feeling of excitement and joy. It was like how Lioa said I’d feel.

When it all sunk in, I felt great relief and shifted closer to him in a quiet request for him to wrap his arm around me. He quickly picked up my silent plea and did so, and I responded by resting my head against his shoulder. My revelation just made the feeling even better, putting me in a level of comfort that I didn’t think possible.

Considering that I hadn’t done much good in my life, I wondered what I did to get such a great man and still be able to keep the other important people in my life. I had everything I wanted, and I wasn’t subjected to that horrid reading I’d once received so long ago. Satel was certainly no monster, and I wasn’t suffering as the people of Port Sibest had wanted. I had nothing to fear about the future anymore- I loved Satel, and I wasn’t ever letting him go.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t bright enough to tell him this until almost three years later. I could’ve sworn that I did, but the poor guy was left to speculate my feelings for him through my actions over the years. …But looking back on it, it did mean much more to him when I finally did say something through a poorly written letter. I didn’t mean to make him wait for so long, but it was well worth it in the end.

To be Continued in Fatesbane: The Living Legend

To the Title Page

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