Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Unmasked: Part 14: A New Friend

“This is the village square. Many people live in the fortress, but some choose to live in the village. The artisans tend to prefer outdoor work spaces.” His words were for Constantina, but he kept his eyes on Brunhild. Constantina wasn’t looking at him anyway, more concerned with the people milling about in varying degrees of nudity. “We are the largest pack in the area. There are others to the east and west of here. They often visit on festival days. We also have an indoor marketplace which you will see tonight.”

The girl was gaping at his twin by the time they reached her. Brunhild was nearly of a height with him. His sister’s eyes narrowed as she looked down at the smaller woman and walked a predatory circle about her. His eyes traveled to Kirsa, perched on the edge of the well. Kirsa, while taller than his Kin, was similarly plump with straight white hair and grey-blue eyes, which she was now rolling at her mate’s posturing. A pleasant expression returned to her heart-shaped face as Brunhild turned toward her again.

“Pilfering pups now, are we, brother?”

Rodrick shrugged. “I didn’t steal her. She was a gift.”

Kirsa cast Constantina a sympathetic look over Brunhild’s shoulder. He looked down at her. The girl looked vaguely annoyed.

“Constantina, this is my sister, Brunhild, and her mate, Kirsa.”

A small frown briefly passed over her face as she considered his words.

Brunhild noted the expression, snorting indelicately. "Let me guess, Kin only have breeding pairs?"

Constantina frowned again, looking away thoughtfully. "I don't know."

Brunhild frowned. "What do you mean, you don't know?"

Constantina blinked a few times. "I've lived in a garden for the past nine harvests. I honestly don't know how unions work. I never made it that far."

Nine harvests? He peered at her. "How old are you?"

She looked thoughtful again, like she wasn't quite sure of the answer. "This coming harvest will be my twentieth, I think."

Both Brunhild and Kirsa looked horrified. He couldn't say that he wasn't equally appalled. Her curious manners made sense now. She lacked the stiff formality of the other Kin. There was a brutal honesty to her that he hadn't expected. He now realized it was because she'd had no reason to lie. Perhaps she had no one to lie to. Although, he wondered at her language. He'd never really heard a Kin speak in quite the same way. Even if her people hadn't imparted their etiquette, he couldn't imagine they would have replaced it with the crassness she had managed to display in his short possession of her.

Kirsa clapped her hands. "Perhaps we might continue this over a meal?

Brunhild grunted her assent and they followed Kirsa toward a tavern. As they walked, he noted Brunhild staring at the mark he had left on Constantina's shoulder. She peered at it for an uncomfortably long period of time before scowling fiercely at him. Rodrick rolled his eyes. It wasn't like his sister had any moral high ground on him there. Fortunately, she kept whatever thoughts she had to herself for now. Ever the peacemaker, Kirsa deposited them at one of the low tables that littered the floor of the tavern and swayed off to order food.

Conna took her seat on the furs next to Rodrick, feeling utterly confused. These creatures were an anomaly. At moments, they seemed wholly civilized. Her captor lived in a fortress with beautiful colored glass panes in the windows. He even had a desk piled with books and papers. He'd fed her dishes with complex favors on trenchers. And yet, they retained this wildness that contradicted all she'd seen. She could see it in the eyes of the people who'd stared at her. She could certainly see it in the carefree way many of them walked about without a stitch of clothing on, as well as in the ferocity of the men who fought in the fields.

The woman Rodrick had called his sister looked anything but civilized. She dressed much the same as Rodrick, like a man, Conna supposed, but for the strap containing her chest. She was tall like Rodrick and had the same golden eyes. Her belly was similarly muscled, but her waist was narrower by virtue of her sex. They even had the same hair, although hers was longer and contained in dozens of braids. She kept glaring at Conna and back at Rodrick.

Rodrick cleared his throat. "You'll set us ablaze with those looks of yours, Brunhild."

Brunhild let out something of a growl. "It would serve you right if that were true."

Conna snorted. "Indeed it would," she muttered in the tongue of the Kin.

Brunhild's gaze slid back to her with less anger and more surprise. At that moment, the one called Kirsa bustled back over and deposited tankards of mead on the table. Rodrick grabbed one and took a drink.

"I believe we discussed the mumbling not too long ago." He said, sitting the cup down carefully but not looking at her.

Conna leaned her elbow on the table. "If you can't understand me, it doesn't really matter, does it?"

Brunhild and Kirsa were silent, looking nervously between them. Rodrick took another drink.

"You are, of course, assuming that I cannot understand you. and, I assure you, you would be wrong."

Conna's eyes widened as the familiar words left his lips. She shrank in on herself, heat rising in her cheeks.

He finally looked at her, eyes flashing dangerously. "You were sequestered for half of your life and yet you speak our tongue.  I rule my people. What made you think I wouldn't speak yours?"

She just stared at the table. She wanted to go back to her garden with her dirt and her plants. Plants were easy. They did what she wanted. They weren't demanding. They didn't bombard her with confusing feelings, or dress her in all but nothing, or threaten to beat her. All they did was grow peacefully with her gentle nudging.

As if reading her thoughts, a delicate, tanned hand slid a bowl of grapes into her line of vision. Conna looked up to see Kirsa smiling gently at her.

"I asked you a question," Rodrick said, his voice hard.

"Oh, stuff it, Rodrick!" Kirsa said.

Rodrick blinked in surprise.

Brunhild looked murderous. "Kirsa!"

"You too," Kirsa said, snatching up the bowl of grapes and Conna's hand. "We are going outside. You two can sit here and growl at each other until you are better company."

Brunhild stood as Kirsa dragged Conna toward the door. "Girl, I'm going to--"

Kirsa cut her off. "Of that, I have no doubt, but right now, you are going to talk to your brother."

With that, Conna found herself outside again, holding a bowl of grapes in her hands.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked


  1. I think I like Kirsa! Great that Conna has found a friend. I can't wait to see how this works out, and I'm curious about the relationship between Kirsa and Brunhild too :)

    Rebel xox

    1. You will be getting a lot more of them. I have a new project in the works.