“Dream me oh dreamer
down to the floor
open my hands and let them
weave onto yours
Feel me, completer
down to my core
open my heart and let it
bleed onto yours
Feeding on fever
down all fours
show you what all that
howl is for
Hey hey my playmate
let me lay waste to thee
burned down their hanging trees
it’s hot here hot here hot here hot here”‘Wolf Like Me’ by TV On The Radio, from the album ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’. 4AD; Interscope/Touch and Go, 2006.
Elmiryn never slept, but always had sweet dreams from far away places. From worlds that didn’t exist and worlds that did. But the lives she imagined for herself in these foreign settings were all fabrications, fantasies of a lunatic who struggled with bleating thoughts to assuage the pain that blossomed in her chest like a fountain. The only tomorrow she wanted was coming all to slowly, time a slow deliverer of her desire. So the dreams came to haunt her ever waking world.
She wanted tawny eyes filled with want, soft and quivering lips, wild jet black hair, and flushed skin that at the lightest touch brought about her name in delicious bleats. She wanted to be enveloped in that wild musk, sweet and intoxicating and wonderful.
I haven’t slept in days and I just keep seeing these things. What’s wrong with me? I really am losing it…
When the others lay sleeping, Elmiryn lay on the ground staring up at the shadows, her eyes a light with phantom visions and tantalizing sights.
Nyx, wrapped only in animal furs, hay in her hair, her smoky eyes squinted playfully as soft green light haloed her skin. Nyx, bending over and reaching for her pants, her panties fitting to the shape of her perky ass, the curve and flex of her back like some sculpture artist’s dream. Nyx, her shy laughter echoing through them both as the girl lay her head on the woman’s chest, one hand gently kneading her breast.
And the woman decided she was proud of herself–proud that her growing mania for the sharpest of drinks was being rivaled by her need to see Nyx again. But it was hard. To say that it wasn’t would have been a lie. Everyday was a battle to keep her addiction from growing more powerful than her desire to see Nyx. And though both tore at her, it was a pain that freed her of all falsities. Elmiryn didn’t need to pretend about anything anymore. She felt like an actress ending a long run of performances, the hot roar of a crowd simmering behind her in a great wave of judgment. It didn’t matter what anyone else thought anymore. For once, she felt absolutely free to marry desire with action.
That said, she kissed Quincy squarely on the lips.
Of course, Elmiryn wasn’t thinking of Quincy upon the act—she was thinking of Nyx. But in that in-between place of her dream-like illusions and the real world, the lines were blurred, and all that the woman saw was a pair of lips that looked inviting. With her arms around Quincy’s neck and their chests pressing together, she could feel the wizard tense up, a strangled cry coming up her throat. Choked sounds came from their companions and the world seemed to pause.
Elmiryn finally realized things were not right when she opened her eyes and saw them meet azure.
The warrior loosened her grip, ready to apologize when Quincy shoved her down and slapped her. It wasn’t like the wizard to hit open handed, but the shock must have been great, because Elmiryn had never seen her so taken aback.
The redhead stared up at her, one hand on her stinging cheek. She guessed the wizard had been trying to rouse her out of her stupor to give her daily dose of tonic. An apology was on her lips, but something told her to keep quiet for the moment. The brunette stared at her, mouth moving to speak, but nothing coming out. Her face was pale, then after a few moments, the tell-tale signs of a blush began to show.
…Then the blush turned to a full-on burn.
“Mkundu msgaji!” Quincy screamed, and finally the rain of punches came. One hand was still injured, and the wizard could barely make a proper fist with it. But her other hand was completely fit for the task.
Elmiryn started laughing, her arms going up around her head as she choked out, “I’m sorry—fuck, I didn’t mean to—ha, ha, HA, HA!”
“Idiot! Barbarian! THIS is what I get! This is what I get for trying to help you, you stupid crazy BITCH! Jinsi kuthubutu wexe!!”
Suddenly small black arms encircled Quincy’s waist, and a voice could be heard struggling behind her. “Mweze, kuacha!”
Elmiryn could see Sanuye and Gudahi rise, and in a moment her assault ended. Her laughter, however, did not.
“Elmiryn, please shut up.” Hakeem’s voice was colder than usual.
The redhead bit her tongue and looked up to see the young Fanaean’s face puckered in displeasure. Still snorting through her nose, the woman sat up and dusted herself off. “I was dreaming,” she giggled. “I didn’t mean to.”
“Then please stop laughing.”
“Why? It’s funny when she gets mad.” The woman wiggled her eyebrows at Quincy. “Or maybe she liked it a little?”
Gudahi had to hold the wizard back again. Sanuye narrowed her eyes at the warrior. “You make light of things you should not.”
Elmiryn shrugged and held out her hand, the smile fading from her face as her need surfaced like lava. “Yeah. Whatever. I’m an asshole. Tonic, please.”
Quincy let out a small shriek and threw the small vial at the warrior. “Here! Take it! Drink it all! I don’t care if you go crazy! At least when you’re drunk I don’t have to put up with you!” And with that the wizard turned and stormed off until the dark of the wood made it difficult to see her. Without a word, her husband followed her, leaving Elmiryn alone with the Lycans.
It had been nearly three days since they left the Lycan village. Gudahi had retrieved Elmiryn’s sword and Graziano’s gun in a quick sprint, Sedwick had been carted off to the medicine man’s hut, and Artemis had all but gone absent. The time passed in a funny way, stretched and condensed by Elmiryn’s yearnings and withdrawals. Of the whole group, she moved the slowest, her shakes and dehydration preventing her from moving at her usual speed. As Quincy had promised, the wizard gave Elmiryn a dose of tonic every day, but in small amounts to keep the vial from being emptied. Every sip made the warrior feel better, but it wasn’t enough to take away the headaches or the irritableness or the nausea or the aches in her body.
Now the warrior had the entire vial of tonic in her hands. There was at least half-a-vial’s worth left. Quincy had never given her that much before. How much pain would this take away? How good would this make her feel?
“Elmiryn. Let me see that tonic.” Sanuye’s accented voice broke the spell, and Elmiryn looked at her sharply.
“Why?” she snapped. “Aren’t we almost there? What difference does it make if I finish this now?”
“And you expect the Twin to have a stash of brandy ready and waiting for you upon our arrival?” The Lycan returned archly.
Elmiryn soured. Her grip tightened on the small vial. Sanuye took another step forward. “The tonic, Elmiryn. Please.”
The warrior cursed. After another full minute, she tossed the vial onto the ground and stomped away. She felt cold and her body trembled. She wanted a taste so badly.
…That was why she let the vial go.
Every day was a battle to keep her addiction from growing more powerful than her desire to see Nyx.
“Where are you going?” Sanuye said. “Come. You need your dose.”
“I don’t want it.” Elmiryn growled, keeping her back turned. She clenched her fist and glared at the trees.
“But you know what will happen if you do not have some.”
The Lycan growled. “Now you’re just being a child–!”
Gudahi’s voice smoothly interjected. “Elmiryn, we know you do not want this. But you also know that we cannot move forward, if you cannot move forward. Think of Nyx. You wouldn’t want me to find her first…would you?”
His tone was lightly teasing, but it angered the redhead all the same. She turned on her heel and advanced on the man. He was a little taller than she was, but she didn’t care. That just made it easier should she want to punch him between the legs.
“Let’s just get one thing straight,” Elmiryn hissed. “I don’t like you, and I sure as shit don’t like the idea of you near Nyx. So when we do find her? Keep your distance.”
The man smiled at her, amused. “Oh? Are you saying you own her?”
“Don’t be stupid. I don’t believe in owning people. If I did, I’d have owned some slaves. But I never have and I never will. What you fail to understand is that Nyx and I have a bond, and I’ll cut down anyone who tries to get between that. Got that, puppy?”
“Certainly,” Gudahi chirped. He reached over and took the vial from Sanuye’s hands. Removing the stopper, he held it up for Elmiryn. “Now, your medicine little warrior?”
The redhead glared at him before tilting her head back and opening her mouth. The Lycan let a small amount of tonic pour down her throat before closing the vial again and pocketing it. Her throat tickled in pleasure as she swallowed the tonic down. She could feel her stomach get warmer and some of her aggression melted with it.
“We should find the others and keep moving,” Sanuye said, handing Elmiryn her sword belt.
Without another word, they headed to where they saw Quincy and Hakeem venture off. Elmiryn still thought the Lycans to be a bit strange—they had habits and beliefs that she just couldn’t comprehend. Like when Sanuye sat praying to trees, or when Gudahi swallowed a small amount of dirt each day. They didn’t seem to know what to make of her either, but at this rate, the woman was getting used to that. She was crazy after all.
Quincy and Hakeem were found sitting together beneath a poplar tree, hands clasped as the husband whispered to his wife. Both looked up as the three of them approached. The brunette’s eyes turned frosty at the sight of Elmiryn, but the warrior didn’t care. She didn’t matter.
None of them mattered.
“Now that everyone’s done nursing their pet problems, let’s get this over with,” Elmiryn said loudly. She turned to Gudahi and Sanuye. “Have you found a trail yet? We’re close aren’t we?”
“We are close, but we still have no trail. Given the commotion you humans made, I’m certain the Twin is more than aware of our presence now. She will be careful to conceal her movements.”
The warrior feigned disbelief. “Well that’s just great!” She turned and wagged a finger at Quincy. “You see what I put up with?” Elmiryn ducked the rock just in time, and turned to see the wizard stooping down for another one to throw.
“You are a plague, Elmiryn!” Quincy shouted.
“Enough!” Hakeem barked. Both women stopped. Never had they heard the man-boy so angry before. He glared at them both, his body tensed and his face twisted. “Did Sanuye not just say that your ruckus is giving us away? Remember what we came for, and for the love of the gods, shut UP.”
“Taika!” Quincy exclaimed, clearly scandalized.
Elmiryn just shrugged and crossed her arms.
The Fanaean turned his eyes on the Lycans. “We have no trail, but you know where we can find one, yes?”
“The brook is not far from here. There is an ohtak—or spirit gate—near it that would serve as the Twin’s game. If we search between those places, we may find her den.”
“Then let’s go,” Hakeem said, his eyes holding a storm. Since they’re departure from the village, the Fanaean had been on edge. Elmiryn suspected it had to do with her and Quincy’s bickering, but when everyone else was asleep, she also spied the boy gazing wistfully into the woods. After spending so much time there, maybe Hakeem missed the village?
Whatever the reason, his disposition made the atmosphere of the group all the more tense. No words were exchanged as the five traveled through the thick terrain. The Lycans were in the lead, their knowledge of the area the only protection the others had from being completely and utterly lost. With time, Elmiryn began to hear running water, and through the discomfort of her withdrawal, she began to get excited.
“Anything yet?” she asked Gudahi, who was closest.
The man silently shook his head. The woman grit her teeth but said nothing more. When the trees finally gave way to the sight of the brook, the group stopped and the Lycans turned to them.
“The ohtak is to the northwest.” Sanuye pointed. “If we search the area between, we should find clues to where the Twin is hiding.”
“What do we do if She doesn’t want to be found?” Quincy asked, her hands on her hips.
“Then we hunt her down,” Elmiryn said, already moving away.
They split up, their eyes carefully searching their surroundings for any signs of the Twin’s presence. Since her manic episode at the village, Elmiryn’s senses were more or less back to normal—at least when you ignored her vivid waking dreams and the fact that they were in some weird half-dimension that twisted aspects of true reality.
Stepping carefully over the banks of the stream, she moved further and further away from the others. A piece of moss here, a flowering weed there, and pebbles and pebbles and pebbles galore. The warrior crossed the brook, moving northwest, as Sanuye had instructed, but still kept her distance from the others. Closer to the tree line, she thought she saw something—a broken bush branch. Alone, it didn’t mean much. There were other animals in the forest after all. But as the warrior neared, she saw more—animal droppings behind the bush.
Given the size of the Twin, Elmiryn thought it possible that these were the cat’s leavings. But they were dry, and the soil surrounding it lacked any distinct tracks to corroborate her assumptions. This fact confused her. Usually when animals stopped to relieve themselves, they left a good impression in the dirt from their squatting. Even dry, compacted soil was likely to show some sign of passing. But the earth was clear of any marks, from the Twin or other creature.
Perplexed, Elmiryn moved on to find more signs of animal presence. Berry seeds and chewed up bush leaves. Half-eaten grasshoppers and the carcasses of small animals. The woman’s head began to hurt worse the more she found, her confusion mounting. There were no signs of tracks, resting spots, fur, or fresh scat, though plenty of signs of fresh kills, recent feeding, and disrupted plant life.
The sounds of the brook grew smaller. The warrior hardly noticed. The shadows about her thickened and sweat beaded on her forehead. Elmiryn stopped to lean against an oak, the long trails of moss hanging about her like hair as a sudden anxiety began to gnaw at her gut. Blinking, she turned her head to call for the others, but she froze.
Nestled in the underbrush from whence she came were the glowing eyes of an animal. It was not the Twin. The Twin’s eyes were tawny, like Nyx’s. These eyes were a familiar gray.
Her breath hitching, Elmiryn turned to flee, some animal instinct rising up in her before she could even register it, let alone stop it. As soon as her eyes broke contact, she heard a growl and the sound of something bursting forth through the ferns and bushes. The warrior took a breath, to scream for the others, but it was too late.
Something hit into her from behind and Elmiryn was rocked forward hard, her body slamming into the forest floor. Pain shot throughout her. The wind gone from her lungs, the woman wheezed and her hands scrabbled in the dirt.
Hands slammed onto her wrists, pinning them.
Stunned, Elmiryn stared at them as her attacker chuckled.
“Tut, tut! What easy prey you make!”
The warrior’s fear lessened enough to allow her anger to take hold. “Artemis!”
She felt the goddess’s breath on her ear and recoiled. “Yes, Elmiryn?” Artemis whispered. “Is something the matter?”
“Get off me!” Elmiryn snarled.
Artemis playfully licked the woman’s ear. “But why? I like it here.”
“I said, get off–!” but the warrior’s words were cut short when Artemis grabbed her by the ponytail and pulled her head back hard, causing the woman to cry out.
“I can either win this hunt with thy love or thy blood,” the goddess hissed, her hand reaching around to roughly grope the woman’s breast, then her neck. “I prefer love, but I have been known to find satisfaction in blood all the same.” Following this, the warrior felt claws at her back. They cut down her spine, into the skin, and Elmiryn grunted in pain. The bandages around her chest loosened and fell away, leaving the blood to flow freely down her back. Next, Artemis ripped out the tie that fastened the woman’s hair back, and it fell about her in tangled waves.
Elmiryn felt Artemis move her hand away from her neck to her shoulder, and before she could react, the goddess flipped her over with little effort. The redhead felt her anger turn to rage, her fear all but vanishing. No one ever forced her like this. She was a fighter, a soldier—these things just didn’t happen.
Yelling, the woman tried to arch her back and twist her hips, to grab Artemis’s hands and to slip away from the goddess’s mounted position. But the wolfish deity was faster and stronger, and in a blink of an eye, Elmiryn was once more pinned down, her screams of frustration harsh and loud. Whipping her hair from her face, the redhead glared up at the goddess, who smirked down at her. Like Elmiryn, her dark hair was left to hang freely about her shoulders, but what was truly different about the goddess this time was the fact that she was completely naked.
As the horror of her situation settled on her, something fought to worm its way in. It was an idea—or perhaps a base bodily reaction—but Elmiryn resisted it all the same. She thought of what it would mean, to give into this notion, what it would cost her. In her struggle to resist, her hatred grew, but still the idea pierced in deeper and deeper…
Artemis is beautiful.
The tension grew in the pit of her stomach, warmth pooling within her even as she squeezed her eyes shut and tried to turn her head away. She felt Artemis grind into her, the action resulting in an eruption of pleasure that Elmiryn’s growling hitched and she could feel tears of shame welling up behind her eyelids.
The goddess laughed as she dipped down, her mouth on the woman’s neck, wet and warm and soft. Her breasts brushed Elmiryn’s breasts, making her nipples perk and her thoughts clouded. They were soft, almost satiny, and for a second the redhead forgot the real reason she was arching her back.
When she remembered, a shout tore up her throat and her eyes snapped open. Elmiryn’s struggles renewed and she turned her head in an attempt to push Artemis away. What happened instead made the warrior squirm. Artemis kissed her, first close mouthed, before lips parted and her tongue fought its way through to explore the redhead’s mouth.
Elmiryn thought, Bite it! BITE!
But something kept her from doing so. Maybe it was the taste of Artemis—so sweet and fresh and like life itself that it was all the woman could do to keep from coming right then and there. Elmiryn’s eyes fell shut again, and she moaned—both in ecstasy and despair. Try as she might, she couldn’t stop this. Her head was hurting her—from the battle of wills, from her withdrawals. She wondered if she could have even put up a fight at her peak condition. Everything felt so hopeless…but as far as defeats went, was this so bad? Artemis was beautiful, and not many could say a deity had pursued them. Elmiryn was so wet, she had soaked through her undergarments—
“What? You thought I’d stay dry as a desert with your hands and mouth all over me?”
A flash of startled tawny eyes, unaware of the power they held, unaware of the effects they could bring. And then…a warm tongue, all along the inside of her thigh, tasting Elmiryn’s desire, to the place where her thigh connected to her hip—so close and yet so far.
“And the rest you’ll have to deal with.” Nyx’s voice, thick and husky with her passion.
Elmiryn’s eyes snapped open, her mind finally clear of its confusion.
Artemis may have been beautiful…but the woman did not want her.
And so with all the strength she could muster in her jaw, the warrior bit off the goddess’s tongue.