Disclaimers: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Lao Ma, Alti, Borias, and everyone else who sounds familiar belong to Pac Ren and Universal Studios. I am not making money off of this story.
Genre Disclaimer: Ok. Bear with me, please, because this is kinda tough to explain. Sometime last year, I read a story on the internet that moved me so much, I was inspired to write a sort of companion piece to it. That story was "Lost Soul Walking" by DJWP. In her words, "This is NOT UberXena fiction. It just starts out like it is." The same can be said for this piece. While not directly related to "Lost Soul Walking", "Desert Storm" can be considered a sort of prequel to it. It is a story, if you will, about the lifetime before the one depicted in that fabulous, outstanding story. (Can you tell I loved it?) In addition, this is somewhat of an ambitious piece of fiction, in that I am attempting (dont know if Ive succeeded, but Ive attempted) to take the entire X:WP universe and modernize it. We start, in updated terms, with my version of Xenas betrayal by Caesar (seen in "Destiny"), and continue up through the X:WP episode known as "Remember Nothing". The plot will be very recognizable to you. Its meant to be that way.
Special note: Because of this, Gabrielle does not appear, except in offhand mention, in a great deal of the first half of this story. Do not look for her, because you wont find her. After all, she was not a part of evil Xenas life. If she were, things might have turned out differently, but because this is based on the premise of "Lost Soul Walking" it cannot happen differently. Gabrielle will, however, make her presence known, and that quite strongly, in the second half of the story. If you can hang on till then, I believe that you will not be disappointed.
Sexuality and Violence Disclaimers: Were dealing with an updated dark Xena through much of the first half, and an updated redeemed Xena through the second. Theres gonna be violence. There are gonna be naughty words. There are also descriptions of sexual activity in this work. There are allusions to heterosexual sex, but nothing graphic. There are some graphic (though I hope tasteful) scenes of sexual expression between women as well. That is how I see the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, and that is how I will continue to write it.
And, finally, thanks: To, as always, the incomparable Mike. A better beta and a better friend one could never hope for. Thank you also, as always, to Mary D, who rescued this story from the refuse heap and begged me to keep going on it. If you hate it, blame her. <w> Grateful and heartfelt appreciation goes out to DJWP, for continuing to write stories that grab me somewhere above the liver and giving her kind permission to mention her story in these disclaimers. If you havent read her stories, please, do yourself a favor and do so. Finally, this story is dedicated to a group of people without whom I would most probably be living on the streets. Elizabeth, Rachel, Sulli, and the rest of the "Get Sue to Atlanta" crew, this ones for you!
Last disclaimer: Hi all! Well, after a year or so, Im baaaaack. <weg> I cant promise any swift or timely updates on this piece because its still the bitch of a lifetime to write, but I am dedicated to getting it done, so just hang in there with me, ok? To all of you who have written asking when it would be continued, thank you, and heres your answer!
Feedback: As always is gratefully appreciated.Swordnquil@aol.com
by: SwordnQuill (Susanne Beck)
A half hour later, Kael was stepping out of the shower and feeling, physically at least, totally clean for the first time in what seemed to be months. Her long, lean body dripping, she reached out for a towel, only to open her eyes to find it dangling from one of Iannas fingers, a devious, totally wanton smile playing on the other womans full lips. "Looking for something?" she purred.
Shooting Ianna a withering glance, Kael snatched the towel and began drying herself off, putting a subtle play of eroticism in the act just for fun. As she put one leg up on the commode to begin drying the long, tanned expanse of skin, she saw the other woman, eyes glued to the sight, unconsciously lick her lips. Kael smirked and took her time, giving her audience a view she wouldnt soon forget.
"If I ever had an ounce of doubt in my mind as to why that little bastard who calls himself a drug lord rolls belly up for you like a horse-whipped puppy, youve erased it quite nicely," Ianna said, her normally husky voice even more burred as she struggled against the urges Kael engendered in her body.
After having dried off every square centimeter of flesh on her body, Kael straightened to her full height and simply stared at Ianna, a half grin teasing at the corners of her mouth. "Are you just gonna stand there staring at me all day, or are clothes an option?"
"Decisions, decisions," Ianna returned, grinning wickedly. "Though I suppose clothing would make our little chat a bit less . . .distracting."
"Then just give me the damn things and lets get on with this already."
Ianna laughed, but handed over the clothing and left the room, not bothering to close the door behind her.
Ten minutes later, as Kael walked into the living area clad in Iannas tight maroon tanktopsans braand faded denim jeans, Ianna realized she was wrong.
Clothed or not, the woman was distracting as hell. "Very nice."
Kael threw a smirk Iannas way as she ran a hand through her still-wet hair, then lowered her rangy frame onto one of the couches, crossing one long leg beneath her, her arms thrown casually over the seats plush back. "You wanted to talk. So talk."
"Straight and to the point. I like that." Ianna smiled. "Have you ever been to an American movie studio lot?"
Unsure where the conversation was leading, Kael kept her response to a brief nod.
"Good. Then youll understand me when I say that I think of all of this," she gestured around the garishly decorated room, "as false front."
"With you in the lead role."
Ianna smirked. "Perhaps. But I play my part very well. My mother was a Santeria priestess, as was hers before her."
"Insanity runs in the family, does it?" Kael replied, returning the smirk measure for measure.
"Touché. Priests, whores, witches and actors, all thought insane at some point or other in history. Im in good company, wouldnt you agree?"
"If thats what you like to call it . . . ."
Throwing her head back against the couch, Ianna laughed, her voice low and liquid, a single malt scotch that smoothed and burned as it went down. "I do so enjoy you, Kael." Righting her head, she gazed at the American with frank appraisal. "And I hope that I shall enjoy a great deal more of you as time goes on."
Kael smiled dangerously. "I suppose that depends on you."
"It does indeed." She rose gracefully to her feet, coming the hair back from her forehead as she did so. "Please, come with me. I think youll find the next part of our tour very interesting."
Exiting the house through a rear door accessed through the small kitchen, Ianna led her guest along the barren grounds to the small shed which Kael had first noticed when coming upon Iannas house. Reaching into her pocket, Ianna removed a key which she placed in the large padlock which secured the sheds solid door.
Slipping the lock free from the hasp, she opened the door.
Kael resisted the almost overwhelming urge to take a step back as the stench of rotting flesh assaulted her sinuses. Well used to the sickly sweet odor of decaying flesh, her stomach remained steady, but even though she was used to it, it wasnt a preferred perfume. "Sublime bouquet," she replied to an avidly watching Ianna. "Chateau de Corpse, 89?"
Offering up a quiet chuckle, Ianna stepped inside and hit a switch next to the door. Dim overhead lighting illuminated the interior of the small building, revealing an oiled dirt floor, four garishly painted walls, and a large iron cauldron sitting in the very center, gleaming malevolently. The rest of the space was completely barren.
Though the outside air was scorching, the interior air was cold enough to raise gooseflesh on Kaels bronzed skin. Her breath emerged as wisps of fog which quickly dissipated as they rose to the ceiling.
The chill wasnt manufactured by some cleverly hidden air conditioning units. She could tell that without looking. Rather, it had the feel of an empty grave; a dark and rotting thing that touched upon her own darkness and pulled it effortlessly forward. She wasnt even aware of the feral smile which slowly parted her lips, though her watcher most definitely was, and brought forth a smile of her own as Kael walked, almost trance-like, toward the center of the room.
Reaching the cauldron, Kael stopped and looked down. Inside was a dark, gelatinous mass which fairly radiated an overpowering stench, a chill that threatened to freeze her skin to her bones, and an overwhelming sense of power, hatred and fear.
"What is this?" she murmured, barely aware that she had even spoken aloud.
"The heart of darkness itself," the priestess purred, coming to a stop next to her guest. "Power. Hunger. Hatred. Yours for the taking."
Kaels gaze sharpened as she turned her head and pinned Ianna with her icy eyes. "Explain."
Ianna laughed, a deep, throaty sound that Kaels body responded to. Reaching up, she threaded strong fingers though the thick mass of the priestess hair and brought their lips together with crushing, brutal force as their bodies pressed and glided against one another roughly.
Darkness flowed strongly through the American, and she welcomed it, opening the deepest parts of her soul to its overwhelming seduction, becoming one with it. Her body jerked and writhed as passions unknown even to her exploded within, carrying her effortlessly along their dark, twisting currents.
The sounds she made were those of a rutting animal, and when her climax roared through her with a force more powerful than shed ever known, her neck arched back and she screamed her release to the heavens, her lips and teeth stained and glistening with Iannas blood.
When sensibility returned once again, she found herself crouched on all fours above her willing victim, her chest heaving, her body still spasming with the power of her release.
Ianna was grinning wildly, still writhing beneath the weight of her captor. Her once pristine shirt was rent down the center, and both breasts were bleeding freely from the bites shed received. "Youre all I have hoped for and more, Kael Androstos. Join me. Join me and I will make you invincible."
Growling, Kael rolled off the priestess enchanting body and stood, straightening her rumpled clothing and dragging a hand through her sweat-drenched hair. Her eyes became shadowed and wary as she attempted to process what had just happened to her.
Ianna rose more slowly. Still smiling, she didnt even bother to try and pull together the tatters of her clothing. She wore her bloodied nakedness like a brand. She reached out to touch Kael, but wasnt surprised when the American jerked away, snarling. Her spell had fully unleashed the animal hiding inside the beautiful woman; an animal she knew would refuse to be tamed, and could turn on her without a seconds notice unless she was very, very careful.
Closing her eyes, she deliberately relaxed her muscles, and allowed the darkness to slip free of her, as if shedding a coat or a second skin.
"Come back into the house with me," she said finally, in tones meant for soothing and gentling. "Ill explain everything there."
After a very long, dangerous moment, Kael finally nodded and led the way to the door. She left, but not without looking back at the darkness within, her eyes glittering with a light that fell just short of madness.
Freshly showered and clad in a simple dress with enough buttons undone to show tantalizing glimpses of her generous cleavage with every indrawn breath, Ianna half reclined on one of her sofas, a long-stemmed glass of blood red wine resting easily in one perfectly manicured hand.
Opposite her, in a plush recliner, Kael perched, a dark and sultry energy rolling off of her in waves. Though the grip of whatever it was in the outbuilding had lessened its hold on her, she could still feel the dark passions it had engendered, and she reveled in them just as one might when under the spell of a particularly powerful drug.
Ianna smiled and chose her words with care. "There is one thing in all the world, one thing undiluted by time, which has the power to bring entire nations to their knees. It has existed since the very beginning of the world, and will go on existing, unchanged, until long after humanity ceases to be. It is the greatest force in the universe, yet only a chosen few can control it."
"Fear." Kael said into her glass of scotch.
The priestess smile grew. "Fear," she echoed. "The ultimate power." She swirled the wine around in her glass, then took a sip, enjoying the heady flavor as it slid smoothly down her throat. "What you felt today was just a small taste of what fear, properly controlled, can do. It can take you places youve never dreamed of going, and you can stay there for as long as you wish. It gives you power over the mightiest and the weakest of men." Taking another sip of wine, she narrowed her dark, glittering eyes at the woman opposite her. "I have the ability to take fear and distill it into its most natural, most pristine state. I consume it, like a starving child consumes a crust of bread. And in consuming it, I become the face of fear itself."
Kael snorted in derision. "All that, huh? From a few parlor tricks. Youre more insane than I thought."
Ianna straightened, swinging her legs off the couch and to the floor, her eyes narrow and flashing. "Parlor tricks? You felt the darkness. You know it was there."
"I felt somethin alright."
The priestess felt anger, hot and bright, flare through her at the Americans taunting. Her fists clenched and her teeth ground as Kaels bright eyes mocked her from across the room.
The realization came quickly to her that Kael was cleverly baiting a trap for her to fall into. "Very good," she purred, releasing her anger and smiling to display a twin row of carnivores teeth. "Very, very good."
Kael simply smirked and watched the ice in her scotch-rocks swirl slowly around.
Knowing she was a hairsbreadth away from losing her audience, Ianna silently
ran through a handful of scenarios before coming up with the only one that stood a chance of working. "If youve nothing else pressing for this evening, why not spend a night out on the town with me? A few drinks, a little fun, perhaps find a less than willing victim to terrorize? I can show you, if you like, exactly how I do what I do."
Kaels smirk became more pronounced as she raised her gaze from the amber fluid in her glass to the deep caramel eyes of the woman seated across from her. "And here I thought I a magician never revealed his secrets."
Ianna returned the smirk with a sultry grin. "Given the right . . .incentive . . .a magician might be willing to share almost anything."
The American tilted her head just slightly. "Whats in it for me?"
"Learning the secret to ultimate power isnt good enough for you?"
Kael kept silent for a moment, taking a healthy sip of her drink and enjoying the pleasant burn as it made its way down to her belly. "No."
The priestess could feel her anger surge again, but fought hard to keep it at bay. Explode now, and shed loose this delicious woman forever. No questions asked. And with her would go the one chance she had to pay her family back for their betrayal of her. She had within her grasp a way to overcome that brutal humiliation which she had never lived down. And she was damned if she was going to let it go.
"What more can I offer?"
Kael smiled full out then. And to a casual onlooker, it might even have looked genuine. If they didnt look into blue eyes which were colder than the arctic tundra. "When the time comes, youll know."
It was then that Ianna realized that in trying to evade the Americans trap, shed fallen neatly, even eagerly into it. Her awe of the woman before her rose another notch, and she bowed her dark head, gracefully conceding the round.
Kael stepped out of the convertible and straightened the clingy fabric of her dress, inwardly cursing herself for allowing herself to be talked into wearing such an uncomfortable excuse for clothing. Not that she couldnt, or wouldnt, dress to the nines when the occasion warranted it, because she had, many times.
She was, after all, a woman who believed in using, to the fullest, every asset at her command. And she wasnt disingenuous enough to overlook the blatant fact that her body was one of her most dangerous, and compelling, assets.
That didnt mean, however, that she had to enjoy being packed into a dress half the size of a respectable cocktail napkin, but if it got her the results she wanted, the minor sacrifice of her comfort would be a small price to pay.
Gracefully stepping out of the drivers side, Ianna rose to her full height and twitched the soft fabric of her spaghetti-strap dress into place. Brushing her hair back over her shoulders, she walked around the front of the car and came face to face with a vision in black. Her eyes took the full measure of the taut muscles and sumptuous curves before her, and her lips stretched into a full, awed smile.
"Mmm. That dress on you gives new meaning to the word delicious."
Kael smirked. "Save the pick-up lines for someone who gives a shit."
The priestess laughed. "The body of an angel and the tongue of Satan himself. You are a worthy prize."
She felt her hand, which shed raised in an attempt to brush off a stay piece of hair from Kaels dress, captured in a grip strong enough to crush bone.
"I am no ones prize," Kael hissed through a smile dangerous enough to belong to a hunting shark.
"A figure of speech," Ianna attempted to reassure, her voice and tone as strong as she could manage.
"Remember not to use it again in the future, witch," the American responded, giving the hand she held one final, strong squeeze before thrusting it away from her.
Instead of answering, Ianna turned away, and rubbed the feeling back into her hand.
Kael started forward, sharp eyes missing nothing. The exterior of their destination resembled hundreds of similar mock-ups of American discotheques scattered liberally around the world, down to the bright neon sign and the long line of people waiting to be noticed. The only thing holding the crowd, beautiful and non, back was a thin velvet rope and a small, bespectacled doorman bookended by two mammoth bouncers who took scowling to an art form.
Smiling, Ianna bypassed the line, stopping before the doorman and bending down to achieve an eye-level conversation with him, showing generous cleavage as an added incentive. "May we pass?" she purred.
He froze in the act of waving her away, his eyes becoming glassy as he stared down the front of her dress.
Catching something in the periphery of his vision, the doorman turned his head slightly. His jaw dropped as he watched Kael stride toward him like a model fresh out of a magazine. The sounds his throat was making were completely unintelligible, but their meaning was crystal clear.
Iannas smirk turned into a grin of triumph, and she straightened to her full height, placing slim hands on her shapely hips. "Ill take that as a yes, then?"
Still gobbling, the man reached out a less than steady hand and unlinked the velvet rope from its support post, allowing the two beautiful women to pass unhindered, to the great displeasure of most of the crowd who had been waiting for hours for just such an invitation.
Immediately upon entering the building, Kaels ears were assaulted by the heavy bass thump of a disco tune which drilled down into the marrow of her bones and set up residence in the roots of her teeth. She followed the priestess down a short, dimly lit hallway as a gauntlet of men leered at them from along the walls. The men were dressed in nearly identical costumes, from polyester shirts opened almost to the navel, thick gold chains nestled in greater or lesser mats of chest hair, skin tight pants and matching jackets. Thick black hair was greased back in the latest "disco-pompadour" fashion, and crooked, nicotine stained teeth gleamed in the dim lighting. The stench of unwashed bodies beneath cheap cologne would have been enough to drop a team of lathered horses in their tracks.
The American came to an abrupt stop as she felt the rude caress of a hand up the back of her leg. Quicker than thought, she turned, grabbed the offending hand out of thin air, and bent the mans wrist and fingers back, forcing him to his knees, gasping in pain. Her eyes were glittering diamonds; her smile cruel and cold.
The rest of the men shuffled in embarrassment at the ease with which their compatriot was taken down. The overblown machismo faded from their puffed up bodies like water through a sieve.
"Touch me again, boys," she purred, voice low and soft and full of menace, "and you die."
The threat was reinforced by the audible popping of bones as Kael drove the mans wrist past its breaking point.
The mans howl of pain was drowned out by the blaring music, but the American knew her point had been well made.
With a final smile, she pushed the panting man back away from her, then turned and started forward again, collecting the staring Ianna with a curt, yet somehow regal, nod.
The narrow hall opened out into a huge, multi-layered room. Directly in front of the two women, though against the opposite wall, was a very tall platform, atop which the DJ looked out like a ruler surveying his kingdom. Below him was the dance floor; a huge rectangular number lifted straight out of Saturday Night Fever, lighted floor tiles and all. The obligatory mirrored disco ball hung down from the high ceiling, reflecting the dancers below in hundreds of split-screen images.
Ignoring the insipid, crushing press of sweaty bodies, Kael made her way to the bar, which was on the third level of the discotheque. "Scotch. Neat."
As the bartender nodded and bustled away to fix her drink, the American surveyed the rest of the bar. The top was mirrored, and reflected both the glasses hanging above, and the beams of light which shot through the disco in time to the beat of the music.
There were courtesy bowls every two feet or so, only instead of being filled with the usual pub fare of chips and pretzels, these bowls were filled with pills of every description and color of the rainbow. As she watched, hands dug into the myriad of pills like grandmas Easter candy dish. Uppers and downers in dangerous mixes were all washed down with healthy swigs of alcohol.
Further down the bar, she saw lines of cocaine being cut and snorted through rolled bills or tiny silver spoons.
Nearby, the sweet smell of opium perfumed the air, and in an out of the way corner, a junkie was shooting heroin into an arm vein as her friends urged her on and laughed as she nodded off before she could undo the rigging.
"Oh, very nice," Ianna murmured as she finally squeezed in beside Kael. After ordering her own drink, she handed Kaels scotch to her, then turned and surveyed the crowd. "Very nice indeed."
"What are we looking for?" Kael asked, sipping her drink.
"Well know him when we see him." At the Americans questioning look, she continued. "Womens fears are much closer to the surface. Easier to bring out. Theyre good for a quick fix, as it were. But men . . . their fears are buried deep, hard to dig up. But the reward is well worth the effort." Receiving her wine, she smiled and toasted her partner. "Besides, what is it you Americans say? Good things come to those who wait?"
Kael smiled into her drink. "Indeed."
"There he is," Kael said softly, with surety, her eyes narrowed and pinned to the dance floor.
Ianna leaned closer, melding her body to the Americans delicious form and following her line of sight. A smile, dark, predatory, and extremely sensual, curved her full lips. "Oh yes," she whispered, lips just touching the perfect shell of Kaels ear. "Perfect."
The man was tall, with a broad-shouldered, lean-hipped look that Kael favored in both men and women. With the expensive cut of his suit, so out of place here among the unwashed masses, and the thick, ebony fall of his hair tied back into a tight ponytail, Kael almost mistook him for Geraldo.
Until he turned and presented her with golden hazel eyes, full pouty lips, and a face pretty enough to belong to a woman. While on the surface those looks gave the man an air of almost innocent sensuality, it was the raw undercurrent of shimmering darkness that attracted the Americans notice.
Draining the last of her third glass of scotch in one easy mouthful, Kael set the glass down on the bar and stood. Her body was all fluid motion and feline grace as she left the bar area and began a slow, sure stalk of her intended victim.
Ianna was left behind without even a second glance, but she didnt mind. She found herself to be a bit of a voyeur, after all, and there was no doubt in her mind that the woman she was watching was magnificence personified. It wouldnt matter anyway, for by the end of the evening, the man would be so much rotting flesh, and Kael would be hers once again.
Grinning with an evil triumph which would have turned the heart of the bravest man to ice, she gracefully rose from her barstool and trailed after her American beauty, her mind already spinning with the evenings possibilities.
Like a magnet which repelled as strongly as it attracted, Kael parted the hungry, writhing crowd before her and stepped easily up onto the dance floor.
Suddenly aware that he was being closely observed, the man finally lifted his head from the lips of one of the bevy of women adorning him like some living robe. Shaking the women from him like a dog shedding water, he placed his hands on his slim hips and leeringly appraised his new admirer.
Staring into pale, predatory eyes, his own widened, just slightly, before narrowing in speculation. The woman standing so casually before him possessed an exotic allure so unlike the common harlots who paraded around him, seeking even a split second of his attention as if he were an oasis in their parched and dusty lives.
Stepping up to the duo and standing more or less unobtrusively off to one side, Ianna watched the silent standoff with twinkling, amused eyes. She could feel the tension crackling around the pair, see the hunger as it rose from them, swirling over their still forms in a dark, iridescent glow only her gaze could detect.
The amusement in her eyes curved her lips, and she looked on, arms crossed over her breasts, as the man reached out toward Kael with a hand that was a hair less than steady.
Reaching up, Kael grasped his wrist and easily placed it on the curve of her hip, allowing the handsome stranger to pull her in close to his well-muscled body. Her lids were heavy and half lowered, and her lips parted, glistening in the whirling, frenetic lighting, as his head descended.
Their kiss was incendiary, rough, bordering on brutal. Kael felt the living heat of him blister through her body as she raised a hand teasingly up his abdomen and across his chest. She bit down with more than a hint of force on the tongue twisting within her mouth, darkly thrilled with the low moan sounding deep in his throat.
With a throaty, seductive laugh, she pulled away, nipping his bottom lip with sharp, white teeth.
His eyes were glassy, his stance unsteady, and he blinked rapidly, tongue running over his full lips.
Smirking, Ianna chose that moment to step forward and lay clasped hands over one of Kaels broad shoulders. Sensitive nostrils flared as she scented the arousal coming off of both of them in waves. "Will he do?" she purred into the Americans ear.
Growling, Kael grasped Ianna around her trim waist, pulled the priestess in even closer against her, and turned her head, crushing the taller womans lips against hers for a timeless moment.
When she finally broke away, Iannas eyes were shining and her heart thundered forcefully in her chest. "Ill take that as a yes." Turning her head, she saw that the mans unsteadiness had resolved, and he was gazing at them with frank, and aroused, speculation. Moving forward, she whispered a rather vulgar request in his ear, then straightened to watch as his chest expanded, then relaxed as he nodded his assent.
"Good," she replied, a coy smile shaping her lips. "Shall we?"
Ianna tried very hard to keep her eyes on the road, even as her body was strongly responding to the scene taking place scant inches away. The convertibles top was down, allowing Kael to straddle the hips of their guest, who gave his name as Raphael. Hed pulled down the tight material of her dress and was feasting on her breasts, each in turn, as she tossed back her head and laughed in primal abandon, her hands strong on his broad, muscled shoulders.
Her nipples were so tight and so engorged with blood that every strong draw of his mouth gave as much pain as it did pleasure, and she relished it, mouth open wide as she drew sweet night air into her needy lungs.
Knowing well that the road ahead was flat, straight, and empty, Ianna took her eyes off that particular view and turned it to a much more pleasant one instead. She turned to look just as Kaels strong, veined hands left Raphaels shoulders to disappear between their bodies for a long moment.
Raphael groaned as he felt her deft hands unclasp his belt and unzip his trousers. His groan became a moan when he felt her cool fingers grasp him, firm and sure, and position him just so. Then he gasped as she lowered herself upon him and he felt the wet heat of her engulf him so wonderfully and so totally that he feared, for one brief moment, that he would spend himself right then and there.
Kael laughed as she caught the brief instant of panic in the mans eyes. She leaned in to kiss him hard as her inner walls began an intimate caress, swallowing his breathless moans with delight. Feeling him begin to succumb to the primitive urge to thrust deep into her, she grinned and used the weight of her body to keep him still, passing along the wordless message that it was she, not he, who would lead this particular dance.
There ensued a long, tense, sexually charged battle of wills between them, neither giving ground, until, finally, Raphael bowed beneath the weight of her superior tactics, grasped her hips, and simply went along for the ride.
Ianna had to grant Raphael one thing as she pulled into her driveway. The man certainly had staying power. After a full half hour or more of being ridden like a prized Thoroughbred by one of the most breathtaking women on the planet, he was still going strong.
She felt a flash of regret as she eased herself out of the car. Regret for the loss of what looked to be a marvelous plaything. Then she shrugged and walked around to the passengers side. Men of Raphaels particular talents were easy enough to come by, if one knew where to look. And right now, he was worth so much more to her dead than alive. She only hoped Kael would see it that way.
"Oh honey," she purred into the Americans flushed ear, "were home."
Kael turned passion-dark eyes toward the priestess, her breath coming in rhythmic pants as she raised and lowered her hips in long, smooth, deep strokes. Reaching up, she grabbed a handful of Iannas dress, tearing the silken fabric as she pulled the grinning priestess down to her lips and almost swallowed her whole.
Unprepared for the blast of undiluted carnality, Iannas knees weakened and she staggered, leaning her weight against the sturdy car door. The power of Kaels arousal stole the breath from her lungs and the strength from her muscles.
After a long, extremely intense moment, Kael pushed the priestess away from her, and with a small sigh, disengaged herself from the man beneath her.
Recovering her strength and wits somewhat, Ianna gathered herself, stepped back, and swung the car door open. Kael stepped out gracefully, and with a wicked little smirk, reached down and tucked Raphael back into his trousers. "Keep that warm and ready for me, hmm?" she asked, not even attempting the task of trying to zip him back up, knowing well that any attempt would be a futile one indeed.
Raphael didnt move. He didnt speak. His glassy eyes didnt even blink as he sat slumped against the bucket seat.
"What did you do to him?" Ianna asked with some concern.
"A little thing I picked up from a friend."
"Ahh. Lao Ma, your little Chinese whore."
The priestess gasped as iron claws sunk themselves into the tender skin of her throat, cutting off her air.
"I told you never to speak her name," Kael hissed, her eyes narrowed to dangerous slits.
"S-sorry," Ianna ground out breathlessly. "I didnt"
"No, of course you didnt. You never do, do you." Releasing her captive, she turned back toward the car. "Help me get him outta here."
Kael blinked in surprise when Ianna led them away from the house and toward the little outbuilding on the side of the sprawling grounds. Dazed as their guest was, she knew that one whiff of the interior of that building would send him running as fast as his legs could carry him.
Sensing the Americans disquiet, Ianna smiled and leaned in close. "Trust me," she murmured, before releasing her hold on Raphael and unlocking the door. "Keep Romeo here occupied for a moment, would you? Ill be right back."
Kael prepared herself for the blast of foul air as the priestess pulled open the door. To her amazement, the only scent her sensitive nostrils could detect was a faint hint of candle wax.
Ianna smirked at the raised eyebrow she received, and disappeared inside the building.
Raphael roused a little from his bliss-induced haze and tried to shake off Kaels firm grip on his arm. Smiling, Kael leaned in and captured his lips once again as her hand slid down and pressed intimately against him. "Relax," she murmured against his lips, "were just gonna have a little fun."
"Fun?" he whimpered, arching helplessly into her expert hand.
"Ohhh yes," she purred, sealing her lips to his and pressing him back against the rough wood of the outbuilding. "Wonderful fun."
Ianna separated them by laying her hands on their shoulders. "Please," she intoned, voice husky, "follow me."
As she walked away, the priestess slipped the thin straps of her dress down her shoulders, and let the soft material fall to the ground, baring her silken flesh in all its majestic glory.
All around the room, dozens of candles flickered, casting a soft, dancing light over an otherwise black room. In the very center, where the cauldron had been, stood a low table covered with a deep red cloth. Reaching the table, Ianna stopped, then did a slow turn, displaying her fire-licked body to its greatest advantage. Her dark eyes were sparkling, her smile as welcoming and seductive as she could manage.
"Do you like what you see?" she asked, staring into two sets of eyes which raked over her naked flesh in undisguised want. "Come in. Dont be shy."
Placing a warm hand on Raphaels broad back, Kael urged him forward and into the shadowed darkness.
Raphael shuffled forward until he was pressed against the naked body of the woman standing before him. His hands slid smoothly down around the curve of her hips, and he pulled her to him more strongly as his head bent to devour her glistening lips.
With a throaty laugh, she pressed his upper half away, the palms of her hands pressed flat against his muscled chest. "Not quite so fast, little man," she husked, elegant fingers reaching for the lapels of his jacket and pushing it free of his broad shoulders. "We have all night."
Kael drew the jacket off as Ianna ripped open Raphaels silk shirt in a scattering of buttons. The priestess smiled as the points of her neatly polished nails scratched invitingly through the thick mat of dark hair on his chest.
He growled and tried to pull her in for a kiss, but she evaded his advances easily as she worked on divesting him of the rest of his clothing. Within moments, he stood naked to the world, and only then did Ianna allow him to grind roughly against her body and capture her lips in an urgent kiss.
Looking on with interest, Kael slipped slowly, gracefully out of her own garments, then padded silently into a position just to the right of the action, eyes narrowed and flickering between Ianna and Raphael as their moans of pleasure filled the still air of the building.
It was only when Raphael attempted to lift the priestess onto the low table that she broke away and, in a move that seemed effortless, especially given the difference in size of their bodies, spun the man so that his thighs were against the hard edge of the platform. With a little push, she eased him down. "Lay back and relax, my friend. I promise, youre going to love what comes next."
After a moment of silent contemplation, Raphael gave in to his bodys insistent urgings, and drew himself back until he was laying completely atop the table.
Eyes glittering, Ianna turned her smile toward the intently watching American. "Hes all yours."
Kaels return smile was absolutely predatory as she brushed against the priestess. Coming to stand at the foot of the table, she allowed her burning gaze to rake hot coals over the well-made and very aroused man below her.
Raphael did his best to remain absolutely motionless as the stunning woman towering over him flicked piercing, glittering eyes up and down his body. Everywhere her eyes set down it felt as if she were stroking him with hot, urgent hands. He willed his body not to shift or to tremble. His machismo snarled at him, ordering him to move, to take charge, to show that damned bitch who was running this show, but the rest of him succumbed to her lust like a newborn puppy.
Pressing her hands flat upon the firm, level surface, Kael gracefully climbed aboard the table and, cat-like, crawled slowly over Raphaels prone body until she loomed above him on all fours, straddling his slim hips comfortably, and allowing him to feel the searing, wanton heat of her so very, very close.
Kneeling up just slightly, she reached out and brought his hands up to her engorged breasts, then leaned down and licked a trail around his lips with just the tip of her tongue, moaning in pleasure as his hands tightened reflexively, passionately, his blunt, strong fingers sinking deliciously into her needy, wanting flesh.
"Oh yes, lover," she growled against his lips, "just like that."
As she deepened the kiss, she lowered herself until once again she filled herself with him, sighing happily as he slid easily within. Steadying herself by placing her hands once again flat against the table, she began to rock her hips in a slow, sensual motion.
Off in the fire-flecked shadows, Ianna began to softly chant, her eyes riveted to the coupling going on just in front of her. Passions sweat shone on Kaels muscled back, and the glorious length of her raven hair fanned out across the face of the man she was riding, providing a living, luxuriant curtain which shifted and glimmered with each thrust of her arching body.
The prayer fell easily from the priestess lips as she prepared the libations her particular gods required for the sacrifice. Rum was poured into the center of a circle made from red, white and black candles. Ashes from a pungent cigar came next. Three tiny shells, the color of the candles, followed.
The candles flared high in acceptance of their gift, highlighting the deep blackness of her eyes and the cruel, twisted smile curling her lips.
Bending down, she easily hefted a long, razor sharp dagger from its place just outside of the circle. Her chanting grew louder as she passed the blade of the knife through the candles flame three times in a counterclockwise fashion.
Hefting the rum bottle, she poured the liquid over the blade, coating both sides carefully. When she drew the dagger through the flames again, they leapt up, causing the metal to flare as if it had been forged by the sun itself.
Laughing in triumph, she once again rose to her full height and lifted her prize to the heavens, her chant winding down and becoming a low drone.
As her gaze returned to the pair on the table, she noticed that Kael had straightened and was thrusting in earnest. Her body was taut, every muscle exquisitely defined. Her hands were caressing her own breasts and torso. Raphaels hands had a death grip on her thighs, fingers sunk deep into the tender flesh around corded, bulging muscle. His eyes were glazed, fevered and hot. His mouth hung wide open, his breath coming in tortured gasps.
Turning her head, Kael watched as Ianna stepped out of the shadows, dagger in hand. Grinning, the American took her proffered gift and spun it easily in her hand.
Faster than a striking snake, she had the point of the dagger pressed against the bounding pulse of the man beneath her.
"What . . .what are you doing?" he gasped out, eyes going wide.
Kaels smile was evil incarnate as she rode him mercilessly. "Seeing what it feels like to fuck a dead man."
Raphaels struggle to escape became his undoing. As his hips bucked in a desperate attempt to lift Kael off of him, he unknowingly slid into her with just the right force, at just the right angle, to cause him to fall over the chasm into release. His body betraying him, he arched and bent back, his head slamming repeatedly against the hard wood of the platform as he groaned, flooding her.
Kaels hand stayed rock steady on the dagger, drawing only a thin line of blood as the man thrashed helplessly beneath her, trapped by the power of his own desperate release. Her laugh was low and teasing and cruel, and she looked down with dispassionate eyes as Raphael spent himself totally within her.
"Thats a good boy," she crooned as he finally relaxed and lay panting and dazed, weak as a kitten and scared out of his wits. "Such a very good boy."
Her tongue played teasingly across the sharp edge of her teeth as she casually drew the dagger down the front of his body. "Arent we having fun?" she asked, her coy tone a blatant contrast to the dark mirth in her eyes.
Scenting Raphaels fear the way sharks scented blood, Ianna stalked to the head of the table and grasped his face between the palms of her hands. She moaned in ecstasy when his terror assailed her senses. Her eyes rolled back in her head and her lashes fluttered. "Oh yes," she murmured, her voice dark and husky, "give it to me. Give me your fear. Let me taste it."
Staring up into the priestess lust-filled, demented eyes, Raphael began to feel a kernel of anger develop deep within. He nursed it carefully, and grunted with some satisfaction as it ran through his weak, spent limbs. Wrenching his head away, he brought both hands up and shoved Ianna back away from him.
She stumbled, then went down in a heap, scattering the circle of candles at her feet. Cursing, she jumped back up and began to right the fallen and scattered objects before the power of the spell she was laying seeped out into the dark emptiness beyond.
Raphaels gaze tracked up to the blue-eyed she-demon still astride him and his lips pealed back in an ferocious snarl. "Get the fuck off me, you fucking whore!"
Kael laughed, riding out the wave of his bucking hips easily. When his futile struggles ceased, she leaned casually forward, her breasts brushing against his sweaty and heaving chest, the point of her dagger drawing a whimsical trail along one chiseled cheekbone. "Ya got the fucking part right, lover," she purred, grinning. "But as for the whore . . .well, I suppose Ill need to collect payment for. . . " her hips rocked lewdly against him, "services rendered, no?"
"You bitch!" he screamed, throwing a muscled arm up in an attempt to beat her off of him.
Laughing again, Kael evaded the slap easily, but opened a gaping slice in his cheek in the process. Sparkling eyes went wide with mock innocence and shock. "Whoops!"
His left arm came up in reflex and managed to deal a heavy blow to the side of Kaels face.
A lesser human would have tumbled off the table with a broken neck.
Kael barely flinched.
A snarl curled her full lips. "Youre gonna pay for that, lover boy."
Looking into those soulless blue eyes, Raphael was sure he saw the depths of hell. Terror seeped into him again, and he began struggling with everything in him, cursing his weakened muscles and uttering the incoherent sounds of a trapped and snarling animal.
"No!" Ianna shouted, looking up from her task in time to see the glittering silver of the dagger held high over Kaels head, ready to begin its downward plunge. "Not yet!"
Somehow, Kael managed to arrest the furious descent of the knife but not her burning desire to inflict pain on the man beneath her. Turning the dagger in her hand, she dealt a crashing blow with the hilt to the side of his skull.
Raphael went limp as his eyes glazed over. Dazed, yes, but still alive.
Grunting in satisfaction, Kael slid off of the table just as Ianna moved by.
"Did you have to do that?" the priestess hissed.
Kael shot her a narrow-eyed look but refrained from commenting.
"Help me," Ianna continued, reaching up and pressing a button on the near wall. The thump-rattle of a heavy chain hitting the table was clearly heard in the silence of the room. "Strap those around his ankles and Ill haul him up. Quickly, before he wakes up."
The Americans pristine white teeth glowed in the flickering candlelight. "You know, the last asshole who tried to tell me what to do gave up trying to breathe through the extra holes I put in his skull."
The priestess return smile was every bit as false. "Please," she conceded, tilting her head in a way that could be construed as sarcastic, but wasnt.
After a long, assessing moment, Kael turned away and bound the semi-conscious mans ankles tightly with the thick cords attached to the chains.
When the American stepped away, Ianna pressed the button on the wall again. The hidden winch began to turn, drawing Raphael up toward the ceiling by his ankles. When his hips left the table, he became aware enough to renew his struggles, though weakly.
Those struggles trebled in intensity once his shoulders, and then his head, left the table and he found himself hanging upside down, suspended from the ceiling.
Twisting fruitlessly like a fish on a line, he tried to bend at the waist to free his ankles, but it was no use. His body simply betrayed him, the only thing left to him was a string of rabid curses which flew from his mouth in a spray of spittle and flecks of foam.
"Help me move the table. Please," Ianna said, already coming to the head and gripping the plywood with fingers hooked to talons.
Nodding, Kael went to the foot of the platform and, on the count of three, easily lifted it up and to the side, revealing the gleaming black of the cauldron beneath.
Instantly, the scents of death, despair, pain and hunger assailed her, causing her to take an involuntary half-step backward while still holding the table.
Ianna yelped as splinters drove themselves into her palms, and she dropped her end of the platform, hissing in pain.
Raphael simply screamed.
Mindlessly, Kael simply tossed the plywood off to the side, and stepped forward again, stared into the cauldron, eyes wincing and watering as the icy chill seared through her skull. Those same eyes widened when she realized that the icy mass of . . .whatever it was in the kettle. . . was now coming to a full, violent boil without any type of heat source whatsoever.
She wanted to look up, wanted to demand the priestess explanation for this trick, but found her gaze unbreakably captured by the boiling, putrescent miasma beneath. She tried to set her formidable well against it, but the pull of the darkness was just too powerful, and as she felt it wash over her, her will crumbled to dust, and with it, her desire to fight.
The second she relaxed, it moved through her, filling every vessel, every cell, until she was part of the darkness, and it was part of her. Voices whispered to her, their sibilant tones teasing just below the level of her hearing. Raphaels keening, terror-filled screams were just so much static as she attempted to chase down the elusive voices, if only to hear the messages they seemed to be imparting to her very soul.
With the darkness came a hunger. A hunger more powerful than any she had ever known. A hunger for fear, for rage, for death in all its bloody glory. She raised glittering, colorless eyes to Ianna, her brain not even registering surprise that she was now able to move.
The smile which pulled her lips back from her teeth was a deaths head mask as chilling as the boiling cauldron below.
Ianna met Kaels gaze without flinching. Her lips moved to the rhythm of the chant she was softly singing. Her body swayed with sinuous, sensual grace, like a snake dancing to the pipes of his charmer.
In her hands was another knife, much larger than the first. Its hilt was made from a partial shaft of a human femur. The blade, blue-fired steel as dark as midnight, was bound to the hilt by human tendon, yellow and brittle with age.
Kael looked on, tongue darting out to moisten dry lips, her eyes following every movement of the priestess as she swayed and chanted.
Ianna stepped forward and handed the knife to Kael, pressing it into her hands and curling her fingers tightly around the handle. "You know what to do," she whispered before resuming her melodious chanting once again.
The moment the dagger touched her hands, Kael knew exactly what to do. Long fingers caressed the haft as one would caress a lover; slowly, gently, lovingly.
The voices became more insistent, and though she still couldnt hear the words, the message was loud and clear.
Hefting the knife, she turned and approached her flailing victim. She easily sidestepped his desperate, sobbing attempts to keep her away. Reaching up, she latched an inhumanly strong hand just below his knee, clamping down hard to steady his helpless movements.
"No!" Raphael sobbed, his voice whispery and raw. "God, please, no."
"Your god cant help you now, my friend," Kael replied in a surprisingly conversational tone.
He lifted his head as much as he was able. "Please," he begged, tears rolling down his face, "please, dont do this. I beg you, please."
She actually appeared to consider his pleas for a moment, before a sneer distorted her face and she plunged the knife deep into his gut, just above his pubic bone.
The blade was razor sharp and slid in easily past skin, fat and glistening viscera. With a soft grunt of effort, she brought the blade slowly down, cutting a surgeon-straight line through his gut until the knife was stopped by his sternum. Hot blood glutted from the wound, bathing Kael in its essence, coating her hands and arms and spraying against her face and chest.
Raphael had long since stopped screaming, and hung limp and unconscious, his blood falling into the caldron below his head in a river of red.
Iannas chanting became louder, her dancing wilder. Her face and eyes glowed with dark power.
As if viewing herself from a distance, Kael saw her hand come up and plunge itself into the opening shed made. Her long fingers slipped easily past the mans ribcage, questing for his still beating heart. Once she found it, she wrapped her fingers around it and, steadying herself, she pulled.
It came free far easier than she imagined it would, and with a look just short of rapturous, she pulled it from Raphaels body and held it high in the air, where it quivered, glistening in the wavering light of the candles.
Blood poured down her arms to coat her breasts like some grisly coat of armor, and she moaned in ecstasy as her neck lolled back and her eyes rolled up in her head, showing only the glittering whites. Her body writhed and jerked in time to Iannas chanting, as if she were a puppet given life by a masters hand.
Obeying a silent command, she finally lowered her arms and dropped the heart into the boiling cauldron.
Even the sound of Raphaels still draining blood made no sound.
Then, very like an erupting volcano, the cauldron came to life once again, spewing out brilliant beams of light every color of the rainbow.
Enraptured, Kael stayed rooted to the spot, staring downward as the light shafts pierced her torso and head, lancing through her body and continuing onward through the ceiling of the building and to the infinity beyond.
She felt a dark, malevolent power enter with the light, filling her as if she were nothing but an empty vessel created expressly for that purpose. The power of it was overwhelming, causing her to stumble a bit as her knees weakened. Her strength returned rapidly, however, as she felt a huge surge of vitality flow through her with the force of a tidal wave.
Her vision, already perfect, became even sharper. Scents previously undetectable now assailed her senses. Likewise, her hearing became almost uncomfortably acute, to the point where she could easily hear the sound of Iannas heart beating furiously in her chest.
This is how it feels to be a god, she thought, reveling in the dark power which consumed her. Nothing could hurt her. No one could stand against her. She was invincible.
Ianna waited in the proverbial wings, the same dark energy roiling through her own body; though in her case it was something she was well used to, and as such was not quite as intoxicating.
"Come to me," she rasped, arms held out in a gesture of tender welcome, though the look in her eyes was the very antithesis of tender. "Join with me in the darkness. Let me welcome you home."
Kael looked up slowly, seeing the naked priestess as if for the first time. A smile, slow, dark and incalculably evil, spread over her face.
With the fluid, muscular grace of a stalking lioness, Kael closed the distance between them. One blood covered hand reached up into the thick fall of Iannas hair and pulled back, hard, exposing the priestess elegant neck to her hungered eyes.
"Welcome this," she purred, lowering her head and biting through tender skin to suckle the heated blood within.
Ianna struggled just enough to spark the Americans dark rage, then submitted willingly to her merciless attentions, her body an open, wet and willing vessel.
The furious coupling lasted until the first light of dawn turned the eastern sky to rose, and only ended as each woman finally gave into the exhaustion of their bodies and collapsed, still entangled, onto the cold dirt floor.
It was an experience neither one would forget.
There ya go! I hope to have the next piece up in the next week or so. Swordnquil@aol.com
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