A Kiss of Hemlock

A Kiss of Hemlock

Status: Finished

Genre: Erotica

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Erotica

Summary

Arianna Saphrax's home city was razed at the orders of Azael, the new lord of Felrahn. In the burning, her brother was taken captive by the lord and forced to serve him. When Arianna seeks to rescue him, she finds herself betrayed and captured by Azael. Soon he develops a sick obsession with her and before she knows it, he's claimed her as his Lady...

Summary

Arianna Saphrax's home city was razed at the orders of Azael, the new lord of Felrahn. In the burning, her brother was taken captive by the lord and forced to serve him. When Arianna seeks to rescue him, she finds herself betrayed and captured by Azael. Soon he develops a sick obsession with her and before she knows it, he's claimed her as his Lady...

Chapter1 (v.1) - Burn

Author Chapter Note

Arianna Saphrax's home city was razed at the orders of Azael, the new lord of Felrahn. In the burning, her brother was taken captive by the lord and forced to serve him. When Arianna seeks to rescue him, she finds herself betrayed and captured by Azael. Soon he develops a sick obsession with her and before she knows it, he's claimed her as his Lady...

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: June 27, 2012

Reads: 1573

Comments: 1

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: June 27, 2012

A A A

A A A

Prologue: Burn

It would take but a simple flick of the wrist to cut the man’s head off cleanly, but in an irritating moment of compassion, Xerxes released his grip on the man’s hair and kicked him in the stomach. The action caused the man to double over from his kneeling position, clutching his stomach and gasping. Tears streamed down his cheeks. Perhaps they were tears of pain from the beating he’d been given; perhaps they were tears of sadness, for his city was a brightly burning pyre at that moment; or perhaps they were of a simpler nature, stemming from relief that he would live to see another day.

No matter what the cause of his crying, Xerxes felt mildly disgusted at himself for allowing the cowering man to live. It was unlike him, really. Petre would probably ask him if he was feeling alright and Wren, competitive pyromaniac that she was, would probably laugh at him and call him weak. As usual, he would brush her off. However, to Petre’s question he wasn’t so sure.

Xerxes glanced over his shoulder just barely. The man was still sobbing and had crawled over to embrace a dead woman’s corpse, crying into her motionless chest. Perhaps she was the reason he was upset, Xerxes mused as he turned away.

Even over all the screaming, crying, and crackling of fire burning he could hear the abrupt silencing of the man’s cries, which happened almost simultaneously with the thunk of an arrow lodging itself somewhere fatal in the distressed man.

Cold red eyes stared out over the balcony of the third floor. Lips quirked into a smirk as the man sensed the satisfying death of a coward who should never have known mercy. He sat on the edge of the balcony, watching the pillar of smoke from faraway mark his victory. A maid stood by his side, standing beside him to serve but saying nothing as her lord observed the razing with all-knowing but unseeing eyes.

Xerxes ignored the call of one of his fellow Angen from behind him and continued forward, looking for more soldiers to kill. Those were the orders; kill the soldiers who had served under the tyrant and save the civilians. Part two had already been taken care of.

As he turned the corner of the nearest burning building, he halted quickly to avoid being seen. Xerxes had almost immediately came upon a man and a woman hiding in the alleyway nearby, the woman sobbing quietly as they attempted to remain unseen. He vaguely remembered that they needed to collect two people to be brought back to their leader. Something about becoming diplomats, he recalled, for the furthering of their plans. From the corner of his eye he assessed them. The man was stoic, although his face was covered in sweat and ash. The woman wasn’t so calm, although she looked not much worse for wear. Her face was a pale red from her crying and the heat emanated by the fire, which contrasted with the smudges of charcoal on her face. Even still, he could see even through that she must have had a pretty face. Xerxes spent no time on women, but he could recognize an attractive one just like any other man.

Neither appeared to be wounded, which was good, because according to Petre they were meant to stay in the diplomats’ good graces. Perhaps the woman would prove to be an issue, with her obvious distress at the situation. The harsh look on her otherwise gentle face led him to believe that she wouldn’t come easily. It was very likely she’d be easier to deal with dead, and he took that into consideration as he slowly approached the pair, who hadn’t seen him yet. The voice of need rang deeper in his mind, like an external calling. Retrieve my diplomats.

Gistotal was a big city, even for being a capital, and Xerxes was sure there were plenty of women who would be easily manipulated. To attest to Gistotal’s size, it was possible it would take up to two days to raze the military sector, and that didn’t account for even half of the city. Luckily, their orders were explicitly to protect the civilians and only terrorize those who had partaken in the military. His group, the Angen, would be back at home in Sayn by Tuesday, just as had been instructed. Escorts had already been sent to help the civilians who had decided to leave Gistotal for the new capital, Sayn, and the Angen would be left alone to bring the diplomats-to-be to their leader.

“Xerxes! Where are you going? We gotta find our little captives and hit the road!”

Tuomas. Xerxes resisted the urge to roll his eyes and turned to the brown-haired male who had run up behind him. He noticed Yeol was behind him, bow and arrow primed. It was only natural that he would keep up the alert in Tuomas’s distraction. Yeol must have been who had killed the man he’d spared; he was one of the coldest-blooded of all the Angen, preferring to kill from a distance so he could kill more. Xerxes found it ironic that the one time he felt like allowing someone to live another took the liberty to kill that someone anyway.

Xerxes frowned as he made eye contact with two people he’d been watching in the alleyway. They’d noticed him, and the man had quickly drawn his broadsword. The woman had taken out only a small vial of blood and it occurred to him immediately that she was quite possibly a mage. Perhaps even Blood mage, accounting for the vial, and wouldn’t that have been fun? Blood mages always proved to be something of a challenge, and it was so wonderful when they finally bled their own blood.

“Brother-” the woman began to say, her voice barely a whisper. However, Xerxes had no issues hearing her with his enhanced senses—a benefit of being one of the most loyal to their leader.

“Not now, Arianna.” The woman’s brother took a step forward out of the alleyway, pushing her behind him with his arm. “Let me handle this.”

‘Brother’s’ sword danced in the fire, its thick steel blade glimmering with the outline of the flames and showing just how much of a problem ‘brother’ could prove to be. Xerxes felt a chuckle rise in his chest. As intimidating as this man was acting, there was the issue of simple statistics. As it stood it was three versus one, as the man didn’t seem keen on allowing his sister to participate.

But then, as tempting as the offer of a good fight was, their leader’s instructions were more important and rang ever more urgently in his mind. Xerxes was rather disappointed that he would have to spare the brave—or foolish depending on one’s perspective—man’s life. Not one of these ‘world-class soldiers’ that Gistotal had so boasted of had even taken up so much as a dagger to the terrorists once the fire had started, so this man was the first to even pose a threat, what little he did.

It all made sense when saw the scuffed but certainly present insignia of King Ustal’s army on the man’s lapel.

From the corner of his eye, Xerxes saw that Yeol had also caught sight of the insignia and was lifting his bow. Xerxes swiftly, although not regrettably, raised his hand to halt him. Yeol paused for a split second before lowering the bow, although not loosening his grip on the arrow. His movements were so quick and fluid it merely looked as though he had shifted his stance instead of actually moving to attack, and his neutral expression never once faltered, neither showing surprise nor hesitancy. The man with a serpent god’s blood would never be taken by surprise, especially not since he had become an Angen. When given the odd command to not make quick work of ‘thisss weakling,’ Yeol simply complied emotionlessly.

“We mean you no harm,” Xerxes said calmly, turning back to the man once he was sure Yeol wasn’t going to disobey orders. It hadn’t really been a concern, but with someone like Tuomas present there was always risk someone would fall out of line. “It would be wise to put away your weapons.”

The man scowled at him. “It would be just as ‘wise’ to have believed the Dominis had any good intentions for our country,” he said sarcastically. “Your damned organization has ruined the lives of thousands.”

Xerxes quirked a slight smile, letting one corner of his mouth lift a fraction higher than the rest. It was hardly noticeable normally, and with the waves of heat from the fire and the smoke that had polluted the air it wasn’t visible albeit very present. He was amused and this man was at the cause of it.

His leader had worked the plan perfectly.

The man at the balcony didn’t bother to restrain the twisted grin that curved his lips. It was true; everything had come together according to plan. He had destroyed the tyrant and he had secured his own place of power. He was the strongest, most powerful man in the world.

Revenge was sweet.

His gruesome smile curved further upwards.

The maniacal glean in his eye caused the female servant standing next to him to flinch, looking at the man she called lord doubtfully. However, she was placated when he put his arm around her waist and pulled her into his lap. At the new, sudden movement, she melted into him, leaning her head back on his shoulder. His hand found the curve of her thigh and rested his palm there, kneading softly and sensually.

Meanwhile, his thoughts remained trained on the situation happening hundreds of miles away.

The plan was not to be revealed.

Xerxes obeyed the instinct he had to continue to continue the façade that his leader had only had the best intentions in exterminating King Ustal and razing the capital city of Gistotal.

“Felrahn was ruled by a tyrant,” Xerxes replied deliberately at last, “and the Dominis only wished to liberate the people from that tyrant.”

“By burning down a city and endangering innocent lives?” spat the man. His sister was tugging at his sleeve, a somewhat frightened look on her face. She was glancing in Tuomas and Yeol’s direction. Xerxes knew it probably had something to do with the lewd faces Tuomas was making at her. He couldn’t see them, as his eyes were focused on the man, but Tuomas was infamous for his womanizing. Xerxes didn’t understand how any woman could fall for the man enough for even one night—perhaps it was the prestige of being an Angen, meaning he was one of the most powerful men in all of their beloved country of Felrahn. The man was crude, but nonetheless, he never had to resort to force. Xerxes considered it one of the world’s greatest mysteries.

“Forest-” The woman was increasingly urgent. Xerxes was sorely tempted to look and see what exactly Tuomas was doing to cause her so much distress. He inwardly smirked. Perhaps she was innocent to a man like Tuomas’s advances?

“Arianna, stop,” the brother, apparently named Forest, said softly. He never took his eyes off the situation. Xerxes was content to see that this Forest knew the odds of his predicament and would probably be open to negotiation, and with that, his sister might see the perspective that would save both of their lives.

“Again, we mean you no harm.” Xerxes found no problem with repeating the most contested fact of the exchange. If Forest and Arianna didn’t believe they were safe with the Angen, there would be little hope for cooperation, and that meant failure of the mission. Failure was unacceptable. “Our leader has requested two ambassadors to come with us back to Sayn to help Gistotal civilians with their relocation and adjustments.” Xerxes smiled at them pleasantly. “If you value your lives, this is your best choice. Otherwise, we’ll be forced to kill you.”

To emphasize that they would be safe with the Angen, he had to make sure they knew that they’d be dead if they refused.

“A tempting offer,” Forest replied, “But impossible to accept. You expect us to come with you to help your leader finish his conquest, after he ordered for you to raze our city?”

“Our leader is a man who values life. He would not order for anything that he did not deem necessary.” It was true enough that a lie couldn’t be detected, Xerxes decided.

Forest seemed to look contemplative, but a new voice interrupted his thoughts. “If your leader values life but believes that taking thousands of lives is necessary, I’d say your leader is delusional.”

The hand that had been lazily traveling up the woman’s waist to begin touching her breast paused.

Her voice was calm, firm, and clear of any kind of hoarseness that crying would have normally given her. Arianna stood quietly and proudly, back stiffened as she touched the vial around her neck for reassurance.

The young woman had turned to ignoring the brown-haired man’s crude gestures from behind the man called Xerxes. She knew she should have been paying attention to all three as her brother was, but her eyes were trained on the man who dared to defend a man who had raised her home city.

Xerxes was his name, apparently. He was a little taller than average with short, choppy black hair. He had dark brown eyes, the color of a scabbed wound, and his skin was a dark olive, almost brown. He was stocky and wore what seemed to be customary armor; a completely black cloak over darkened shiny silver armor, decorated with rubies and red trappings. Much to her disgust, it seemed it had barely been marred, and that was only from the blood of the innocents he had killed.

Arianna looked at the three men standing in front of her with hard violet eyes and waited for his response. Forest had glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and she could tell her anger had taken even him by surprise. Arianna had never been known to be an angry person.

“What would you know, whore?” the man who had been leering at her said, his voice scathing. Apparently he didn’t take kindly to rejection. “Come on, Xerxes. Let’s just kill them already!”

“Tuomasss,” said the third man, who still held his bow and arrow tightly. His voice was not encouraging, rather, it had a hint of warning to it.

Arianna noticed that Xerxes was looking at her with hardened eyes to equal her own. He was in a prone position to lunge out and kill both of them, but she felt confident that there would be no real issue. They didn’t know her or Forest’s skill.

Finally Xerxes spoke. “You would do well to hold your tongue, wench, instead of scorning those who have your life in their hands.”

Arianna ground her teeth together, glaring hard. Forest suddenly put a pacifying hand on her shoulder, reprimanding her for her harsh words. Perhaps it had been foolish to say such a thing—at the same time, she couldn’t find a way to regret it. However, she took a step back when Forest guided her further behind him, blocking her from view.

Forest then spoke. “You have killed many of our friends,” he said diplomatically. “What do we have to gain from going with you?”

The hand continued its way up to the woman’s breast and began to knead it slowly but firmly. A soft gasp escaped the servant woman’s lips and normally he would have smirked, but his mind was elsewhere. This man would prove to be useful—on the other hand, his sister would not.

She was to be eliminated.

“There is nothing heroic about making a martyr of yourself,” Xerxes stated, only looking at Forest. His words were specifically directed at him. “Your life is being offered to you and in return, you will help the civilians you once protected reinstate themselves in normalcy.”

Forest noted Xerxes’s gaze. “And my sister?”

“She will die.”

Forest lifted his sword, ready to lunge, when the sudden appearance of a dark-skinned man interrupted his movement.

“Xerxes, finish your business now,” the man said in a deep timbre. He, unlike the other Angen, wore an all-black robe and hood, but was quite obviously a part of the group.

“Corin…” Tuomas motioned towards the situation not-so-conspicuously. Xerxes had to resist rolling his eyes for a second time that hour.

“We’ve already found a female to come with us,” Corin said. His voice gave nothing as to his state of mind; he was a stone wall. “She’s with Petre at the gates. Finish.” With that sentence, the man disappeared as swiftly as he had appeared.

Xerxes turned back to the brother and sister. He could practically see the gears grinding above Forest’s head and he knew that this would be their best chance to get a willing diplomat who would serve their leader’s plans well. He also knew that, as much as he wanted to, killing Arianna openly wouldn’t serve his leader’s purposes. It would only alienate Forest.

She would have to die late.

After a long minute, Xerxes nodded his head. “We will spare your sister if you come with us willingly,” Xerxes said with finality, not acknowledging Tuomas’s surprised grunt of disapproval in the slightest. “Otherwise, we’ll kill her and you’ll come with us anyways.” Another half-truth.

Forest didn’t hesitate before nodding. “If she is spared, I will come with you,” he said slowly. His voice raised in volume. “But if she is so much as touched by any of you filthy scum, I swear I-”

“Understood,” Xerxes interrupted brusquely. He nodded at Yeol and Tuomas. “Make sure the woman isn’t touched.” He made eye contact with Yeol, who tightened his grip on the bow in his hands.

“Forest!” cried Forest’s sister, Arianna, dismay evident in her voice. She was crying again. “No! You can’t seriously do this!”

Forest gave her a meaningful look and that shut her up immediately. The tears that had begun to stream down her cheeks once more intensified as she embraced her brother desperately. He returned the gesture, but quickly released her so as to not give Xerxes or his men any reason to break their word regarding her life.

Xerxes watched the woman fall to her knees as Forest walked up to stand next to him. “And you swear upon your life that my sister will live?” Xerxes noticed Forest was looking at him so intently that he didn’t see Yeol slip into the shadows.

All Xerxes and Tuomas nodded and Xerxes said, “You have my word. Now, come. We need to be back in Sayn as soon as possible. We want to be there to greet the new townspeople.”

Forest nodded, sparing a sad but fond look at his sister before leaving with Xerxes and Tuomas. He had failed to notice that Yeol was no longer present.

Xerxes noticed that Forest continued to glance back at his sister’s sobbing form and he knew that he had made the right decision in keeping her alive—as long as Yeol didn’t kill her before they were out of sight. Clearly their bond as siblings was strong and if he had severed that, he would have lost his diplomat and it would be very inconvenient to find another in the burning wasteland that was once Gistotal.

They reached the gate where Petre, Wren, Orpheus, Corin, and Icarus waited. They were all atop their mounts other than Icarus, who was holding the reins of the absentees’ horses. Xerxes noticed the woman who had obviously been taken captive. She had sad blue eyes and long, dark brown hair down to her waist. Her tan skin was shimmery with sweat and her clothes burnt, torn, and stained with blood, indicating that there had been a struggle. He noticed, however, that the blood was clearly not her own. Other than a few cuts and scrapes, she was unharmed.

That was good. The mission had gone very well.

Xerxes’s thought process was interrupted by his captain. “He will ride on the initiate’s horse, Icarus, but Tuomas, you will have his reins. The woman will ride with me,” Petre said calmly, motioning to Forest. Tuomas nodded obediently, and Xerxes was thankful that at least Tuomas didn’t argue outright with his obvious superiors. He had to have some redeeming qualities or he would have never been initiated into the Angen.

Forest was helped onto the horse whose rider would not be returning and once they had all mounted, they left the burning city in a brisk but unworried trot. By the time the city was clear of the horizon there was no indication in the Angen’s action that anything violent had ever come from their hands. While Petre remained silent, Wren had begun goading Orpheus into revealing how many he’d killed in his initial burst of fire and comparing how many buildings they had each burned down, and Tuomas and Icarus were exchanging stories of their most gruesome kills. Xerxes knew they were embellished, of course. Xerxes noted that Yeol still hadn’t returned and hoped that the man would rejoin them silently and soon.

The two prisoners—although they would not be called that for politics’ sake—could only sit quietly and contemplate the situation they’d just been forced into. Xerxes knew it would be difficult to have them warm up to their situation and that was what their leader was for.

It was obvious that they had no inclination to speak to any of the Angen. Orpheus learned from Corin that the female captive’s name was Lucie and she was of the Ren, a prominent family in Gistotal who had protested against King Ustal’s violent ways. This was telling in how cooperative she would be, once she decided to listen to their leader. The leader of the Dominis was a very persuasive man, and women by nature bent easily to him.

Forest said nothing, as though he were mimicking Petre, and merely gazed off into the distance. His eyes were contemplative, but he didn’t seem to be sad. Relieved, perhaps, but not sad. Xerxes watched as he looked around and then suddenly he glared at Xerxes.

“Where is the other man? The archer?”

Xerxes frowned, feigning surprise. “Where is Yeol?” he asked, turning to Petre, who in turn halted the horses.

Petre shrugged. Xerxes knew that he had already been told by their leader. “I sent him to collect something within the castle.” None of the Angen mentioned that all that remained of the castle was rubble. There was no way for Forest to know any differently. “He should be returning soon.”

As if on cue, Yeol caught up with them, his horse at a gentle canter. He looked unhurried to the average observer, but his eyes were dark. He slowed and trotted up next to Xerxes and they exchanged looks. Forest had accepted Petre’s answer as truth and was currently observing the Ren woman.

Yeol made the slightest movement of a shrug and said, “She is dead.”

Eyes were no longer staring unseeing into the night sky; instead, they were trained on the voluptuous body in front of him as the woman knelt before him, pleasing him as he had known she would so readily. All he cared about was that the mission had been accomplished and that he would soon be known as lord. None could stand in his way, and none would—he hoped Gistotal’s razing would be enough to show that he was supreme ruler of Felrahn. No one would defy him.

All who did were dead.

Arianna leaned against a stone wall that had retained some of its stability, hand clutching her chest, from which an black-fletched arrow protruded. Someone or something had shot her from behind as she had walked away to try and find others who had survived. Because her back was turned, she hadn’t been able to see who it was. Her breaths came out in heaving gasps as she gripped the arrow that had pierced her right lung. It would kill her soon if nothing was done about it.

It would have been worrying if she hadn’t known exactly what to do. With horrid ferocity, she tightened her grasp on the arrow and yanked it out of her chest, which would have normally killed anyone else.

However, even as blood was pouring into her lungs, she touched the wound with her free hand and mumbling almost incoherently, her hand glowed green and the wound began to mend. It happened so quickly that only a few minutes later she was coughing up the blood that would have killed her.

Giving herself a few minutes to gather herself, Arianna at last stood up and staggered forward, looking for other survivors. Her violet eyes were furious and only one thought ran through her mind.

I will get you back, brother.


© Copyright 2018 Katherine Alexander. All rights reserved.

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