Queen Maura sat on her throne glaring at the daze healer the two idiots she had assigned to keep him alive dumped at her feet. Said idiots promptly took five healthy steps back and stood closer to the door than their queen. Not that that would save them. No. Once their visitor had collected his package she would string them up in the healer’s place and teach them a lesson they would soon not forget.
Slowly, her hand gripping her staff in an attempt to stem her anger, electricity sizzling across the medallion at the top, Maura stood. Today for their special guest she wore her favorite outfit. The material was modest in cut. A halter style top that tied at the back of her neck and mid back, covering her small breasts while leaving her back bare. The skirt flowed around her, a silver belt holding it in place low on her ample hips, draping down around her legs with a small train. But that was where the modesty ended. The translucent white material left nothing to the imagination and set off her dark creamy skin to perfection. Holding her long shocking white hair in place was a circlet of red gold, twisted in an intricate design with a large white jewel set in the middle.
Immediately those who surrounded her, including the guards, dropped to one knee, head bowed. As befitting one of her station, she thought with an evil gleam in her grey eyes. She was a goddess after all. Dropped from the heavens the gods know how many years ago, when she stumbled out of the woods covered in soot and dirt the natives saw her exotic looks and the fact she had emerged from the place of The Great Release as a sign from the heavens that she was here to save them. What they didn’t know was that she was an interstellar thief running from the authorities and was shot down on this backwater little planet and left for dead. She had hoped to entice the handsome Lord Sahen into taking her with him and far away from this technological void she had been forced to live in.
As she neared the healer who lay crumpled on the floor, her dreams of escaping dwindled. She was not ignorant of who Aden Sahen or his emperor were. Rumors of their power and thirst for domination were the stuff of nightmares told to little children who did not obey their parents. Maura had seen for herself what was left of a world that refused to bow down to them. Now they were here, and what she promised them was half dead at her feet. With a tap of her rod on Tanis’s side, a small jolt of electricity shot through the healer’s body forcing him to turn over. When Maura saw the growing bruise on the side of his face her temper exploded.
“You fools!” she bellowed. “I cannot deliver him in this condition. He was to be broken, not damaged beyond repair.”
“We are sorry mistress, but if I hadn’t backhanded him, Tenan would be dead,” Reyal whined.
“Better him than the entire world,” she hissed. “Get a healer in here immediately. Maybe we can fix this before it’s too late.”
“Too late for what,” a calm authoritative voice asked.
The queen whirled around to see Aden standing in the doorway of her throne room, two men dressed in red behind him. Her first thought was how handsome the young sorcerer was. The second was she wondered what he would look like without his long black coat or the black shirt tucked into tight black pants. As he strode closer she realized he wore black boots that rose to just under his knees. How delicious it would be to strip those boots and pants slowly down those long legs, and lick her way back up to what she was positive was as impressive as the sorcerer himself. Those wicked thoughts were quickly replaced by apprehension when Tanis groaned behind her and Aden’s eyes narrowed, flashing red.
“My Lord Sahen,” she cooed swaying up to him. “So wonderful to finally meet you. I had not expected to see you until after the noon meal.”
Aden regarded the queen with indifference. Although a handsome woman, the clothes, or lack thereof, she wore disgusted him. It reminded him of the outfits Caius forced Kara to wear when he wanted to distract his enemies during negotiations with thoughts of Kara theirs for a night. It had taken every ounce of will power not to kill the bastards with every leer or carnal thought that raced unfiltered across their faces. Every one of those thoughts that Kara could hear, feel while she stood by the emperor’s side like some expensive toy the emperor had brought out to show and tell, but not touch. It had been physically painful for Kara not to act on those thoughts, a side effect of what she called her curse that the emperor took great delight in.
“We arrived earlier than expected. The Emperor wants to finish our transaction so we can move on to more important tasks,” Aden gruffly answered the queen. He wanted to be gone from this place as quickly as possible. Something was not right. He just could not figure out what it was.
“More important?” the queen repeated, unable to keep indignation out of her voice that she was obviously being dismissed. Pasting an expression on her face that promised Aden any desire he wished, Queen Maura sashayed towards him, placing a hand on his arm and sliding it up to his shoulder as she move so her body was a breath away from his. “But I thought you were to bring the girl here and they would both be trained by my men,” she pouted.
As if he would allow her men to touch Kara. Ignoring her obvious ploy to distract him with her body, Aden brushed past her to where Tanis lay groaning. Squatted down next to him, Aden studied the man. A large bruise covered the upper half of the left side of Tanis’s face. His dark shoulder length hair was wet and combed away from his face which was gaunt as was his body from malnutrition. Outward there was nothing special about this man. A simple healer that had led a simple life. Six months. They had given Maura six months to break this man, yet his mind was still whole. Still a threat. It spoke of an inner-strength that was as rare as the woman who waited for them up on the emperor’s ship.
So this is the man that will take Kara from me, Aden thought. A wave of intense jealousy had his hand up as if he were going to strangle Tanis before he could think of the consequences. Quickly Aden reigned in his powers before he did something very foolish. Bringing Tanis to his master dead would do neither him nor Kara any good. But before he could stand, Tanis grabbed Aden’s wrist with the strength that belayed his weaken state. His dark blue eyes flew open locking with Aden’s, freezing him where he crouched.
“Help her,” he croaked.
Images of arms and legs intertwined, bodies moving, skin against skin, rough hands, stings of leather. Moans of pain and pleasure, of cruel laughter and pleas for mercy that would never come. The sense of hopelessness and loss of will to go on as a life force slowly diminished.
Gasping, Aden stumbled backwards, his eyes wild as the world spun around him. As his eyes darted around the room, the images in his head slowly fading as the room around him came into focus. The first person he saw was the queen, who stood frozen with one hand on her chest and eyes wide. The rest of her people looked at him with more than a little fear. The two men he brought with him watched with dispassionate eyes, used to the oddness that was ever present in their world.
“Are you alright, Lord Sahen?” Queen Maura asked taking a step forward, a worried frown on her beautiful face.
Was he alright? The images filled his vision again along with the confused emotions of unbridled pleasure and despair. The emotions cut through him, piercing his heart and driving him to his knees. One hand on the ground while the other clutched the front of his shirt over his heart, he looked at Tanis who was watching him and gasped, “What have you done to me?”
“You have to save her,” Tanis whispered hoarsely, reaching for Aden. “She will not last much longer.”
With a sudden clarity that drained the color from Aden’s face, he knew who Tanis was talking about and what those images meant. “He wouldn’t,” he breathed in horror.
Tanis’s only answer was a stricken expression and a slight nod of his head. Those dark blue eyes that shone with deep knowledge and intelligence dimmed and became confused, dazed. Glancing around him, his hand going to his head as he winced in pain, Tanis mumbled, “Where am I? What’s going on?”
The terror that consumed Aden at what was being done to Kara squashed down the questions that rose about Tanis’s sudden change in behavior. He had to get back to the ship. Now.
“The deal has been altered,” Aden announced in the quiet as he lurched to his feet. With a motion of his hand, his guards started for Tanis. As they hauled him to his feet and began to carry him out of the room, Aden turned his murderous glare to the Queen who blanched. “I hope the Emperor is not too displeased with his condition,” Aden snapped.
“Two of my men claimed he tried to kill them. They acted in self-defense,” the queen explained quickly.
“Are they still alive?” Aden followed the queen’s gaze to the two guards who were kneeling by the wall vainly trying to be invisible. With a flick of his wrist they both fell over, dead.
The queen gasped at the sheer power it would have taken her to do such a thing but seemed so easy to this Sorcerer. She looked back at Aden wide-eyed, realizing that the rumors were true and maybe she would be better off staying on this backward little planet. Especially with the mood the foul mood the sorcerer was now in. Without even so much as a glance at her, he strode out of the throne room.
Aden ignored the queen, who was calling out to him, desperate to get back to the ship. Never in his wildest dreams did he thing Caius would do something so vile. They had talked many times about going back and killing Colin for what he forced on Kara, and now….
Closing his eyes Aden sought Kara out with his mind. When he finally found her, the images and feelings that came back to him were a jumble. The fear and pain he felt before slammed into him again. Staggering, he grabbed the wall for support. Shit! Racking his brain trying to figure out what they had done to upset the emperor enough to warrant this kind of punishment, Aden ran for his cruiser, desperate to return to home as quickly as possible to prove his fears wrong.
Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes