Worlds Within Worlds (WWW) is the working title of a series of metaphysically inclined writings about a writer’s world. They seem to be shaping themselves into a story without my conscious direction and I’m sharing them on Wednesdays. The idea is to let creativity flow as it wishes.
The writings essentially follow three worlds; the physical world of Prunella (Ella) Smith, author, editor and reviewer (yes, she’s based on me); her online world where disgruntled author Dita stalks; Kelee’s world in the fantasy realm of Diamond Peak (a book Prunella is editing) and the world beneath the veil of Ella’s ordinary reality.
An introduction to the series (characters and so on) and a list of the posts in order (should you wish to begin at the beginning) is on the Writer’s World page. Click here for the previous offerings in reverse order.
Today we go back to the world of Diamond Peak and the story of Kestril’s sister Kelee that Ella is editing.
Kelee rides with Slade.
Hooves pounded the earth, churning up clods of dirt softened by the night’s rain. The stonewalled houses of Menhir Village faded into the distance behind Kelee as she galloped her white mare after Slade. He hooted back to her from his bay. ‘You’ll not catch me this day!’
Kelee gritted her teeth and tossed her black hair off her face, wishing she had bound it. But Slade liked it flowing free, and now it streamed our behind her, dancing in the cool breeze that kissed her cheeks and added texture to the exhilaration of the ride.
The forest drew close fast. Slade was right, Kelee thought; she would never catch him now, not on Flake. The mare’s strength was beauty, not speed.
Slade reined in Knox at the edge of the forest and turned, grinning, as Kelee rode up beside him.
‘It’s the horse, not the rider,’ she said. ‘You know that, don’t you?’ Kelee only won a race against the groom when she rode Kestril’s black stallion, Pitch.
‘Of course, Miss, whatever, you say, Miss.’ He laughed, the hearty full-throated laugh that she loved.
She reached over and poked him on the arm with her crop. He knew she hated it when he reminded her of their difference in station.
‘Argh.’ He clutched his arm in mock horror, slid of the horse as if she’d knocked him from his seat and rolled on the ground moaning.
She dismounted and stood over him, hands on hips, mouth twisted, shaking her head at his antics. He grabbed her calf and pulled her down beside him. She could have resisted, and perhaps she should have, but he was in good spirits and though their difference in social standing didn’t bother him, the fact that he shouldn’t be in love with her did. His lips were on hers, their arms and legs tangled before she could think it through, and for those blissful moments, nothing else in the world mattered. His woodsy smell, his soft lips, his warm hands and firm chest filled her senses—until the sound of hooves cantering along the woodland path had her flinging herself apart from him, terrified that someone would see them. She scrambled to her feet and stood panting, eyes wide, staring into the forest until the sound faded away.
He sat up. ‘They were going too fast. They never would have seen us.’ She heard the hurt in his voice, saw the sadness in his eyes.
‘Beak has spies everywhere. All he needs is one of them to see us, and I’m busted—well and truly.’
He stood and brushed the grass from his trousers. ‘Your father would forgive you. He’s a tough man, but he’s also fair, and he loves his beautiful little girl.’
Kelee shrugged. ‘He wouldn’t stop Beak declaring a duel though.’
Slade’s eyebrows rose. ‘To save your honour?’
‘He said he’d kill you if he found us “together”.’ Kelee slid her fingers through Flake’s bridle and turned her towards the forest.
She looked back and winced at the hurt in his voice.
‘You think I couldn’t beat him?’
‘I don’t know, but I don’t want to risk it.’
‘I may only be a groom, but I have some tricks up my sleeve, especially if I had to prove I was good enough for you.’
Kelee smiled. ‘You are good enough for me. Beak is half the man you are. He wants me as a possession, a trophy, but you love me. Mother would see that.’
‘And that’s why we should tell her.’
He winced. Her voice had come out harder than she meant it to. ‘I couldn’t bear it if they forbade me to see you,’ she explained, willing him to understand. They couldn’t let anything jeopardise what they had. She feared she would lose it all too soon.
He simply nodded and, schooling his expression into the impassive mask often worn by Magan men, walked his horse into the forest. She trailed behind him, ducking the branches until they found the trail. Then they remounted and continued at a trot.
The path was not wide enough for two abreast, so Kelee followed Slade, and neither spoke. A heaviness had settled upon them, made more ominous by the dim light imposed by the thick canopy. The feeling in this part of the thick forest that covered most of Minion Hills reminded Kelee of that in the Morbid Forest, as if the trees mourned for something lost, or was it just her mourning for a love bound to fall to social expectations.
Even here, they had to duck the occasional low branch or dangling creeper, testament to the lack of traffic on the path. She wondered who had passed before in such a hurry. Someone else who didn’t want to be seen? Kelee sighed. Why shouldn’t she and Slade have a future together? Love should be more important than political alliances. Kestril had insinuated that things would change when he became Lord of the Menhirs. Would he be her ally in this? She hardly knew her secretive brother, but did his skills as an illusionist extend to turning a groom into a nobleman? Even he couldn’t do that.
Slade turned off the woodland path into a narrow track so overgrown that they soon had to dismount and walk the horses. The track ascended gradually at first, then more steeply, and the trees grew fewer and more scraggly when the ground turned from clay to granite. Dappled sunshine broke thorough the thinned canopy and the atmosphere brightened. Kelee vowed not to say anything that would spoil their time together. As it turned out, she didn’t have to. Beak would do that all by himself.
Voices. And they grew louder as Kelee and Slade drew nearer to their destination. Someone else knew of their private place. They hid the horses off the track behind a wall of shrubs and crept closer, curious.
‘Feed me first, then perhaps we will have a deal.’
Kelee and Slade exchanged horrified glances. The thin, icy voice could only belong to a Rasa demon. The things gave both of them the creeps, and they stayed out of their way as much as possible. Most villagers, too powerless to stop them, tolerated their feeding, and some—always the most angry, lustful, jealous, prejudiced or just plain dull witted of the clan—fed them willingly, as if they were pets. But no one was supposed to strike a deal with one. Everyone knew how dangerous that was.
Though Kelee figured they should have turned in the other direction, she and Slade tiptoed even closer, lured by the prospect of knowing the identity of one who dealt with demons. They stopped behind a bush leafy enough to keep them from view, but flexible enough for them to bend the branches back and peek though.
Kelee had to stifle a gasp. Beak stood with his head titled to the side, exposing his neck to a huge red-eyed demon. Its black flowing skin hung off it like the drapery of a hooded cloak. The demon’s eyes flamed with pleasure, and liquid fire dripped from his slit of a mouth like drool. The long talon on his right hand rested on Kelee’s cousin’s neck. His glazed eyes stared into space and a sleazy grin twisted his face. He began to pant, his breath quickening, and his hands caressed some form seen only by him. He clasped the invisible form to his chest and thirst his hips as if …
Kelee grimaced. Beak’s trousers bulged at the front. It wasn’t hard to imagine what fantasy fed this demon.
‘Kelee,’ Beak moaned. ‘Oooh, Kelee, you are one hot babe.’ His hips thrust harder and faster.
Kelee twisted away from the sight, her stomach heaving. The bastard. How dare he! She took a step deeper into the forest, but Slade grabbed her arm and placed a finger to his lips, then he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her into his embrace. She buried her face in his chest and tried to shut out Beak’s moans.
Eventually, the demon spoke again. ‘I will fire her desires and fill her fantasies with your face. You will feed me again in two days.’
‘Deal.’ Beak’s voice came out huskier than usual, something that revolted Kelee even more.
Slade lowered them both quietly to the ground and they lay very still until the sounds of Beak riding away had faded into the distance.
The demon sniffed, then rollicked with cruel laughter. ‘The ground is fertile, little one,’ he mocked. ‘I will come for you soon. And I suggest that you submit gracefully. Your lover cannot survive what your incestuous cousin has in store for him.’
Kelee stared at Slade with wide wet eyes, and the demon’s laughter grew dim as the beast disappeared into the forest on the other side of the clearing. They moved only when the forest had returned to its usual stillness. The beast knew I was here, Kelee thought, feeling invaded already. Then she reassured herself that it wouldn’t be incest. Beak was a cousin, but a cousin once removed. But why was she even thinking about that when she had no intention of ever letting him lay a hand on her?
Slade put a hand on each of her shoulders and looked into her eyes with an ernest gaze. ‘You need to talk to Mirimar. She will know how to protect you from the demon.’
‘And Beak,’ she croaked out, ‘can she protect me from him as well?’
‘I’ll take care of him.’
Kelee struggled to her feet on quivering legs. But who would protect Slade?
That’s it for today folks. Any comments?
Make sure you don’t miss the next one; click on the ‘World Within Worlds’ link next to ‘Follow these topics’ below.