|Favoured One Short Story
Author: llyzsm2 PM
This is the extra I promised from the poll for Favoured One, it'll be in three parts I think and this is the first. It's about a much earlier Favoured One M/M yaoi slashRated: Fiction M - English - Fantasy/Romance - Words: 5,245 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 21 - Follows: 27 - Published: 07-11-09 - id: 2695845
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The sound of screaming cut through the cooling night air like a knife. It startled Dahnalt from a fitful sleep filled with visions of blood and gore and he rolled from the pile of reed mats and furs in an instant, his hand seeking the long curved blade that bore his God's name. At first he thought the sound was a shade left over from his dreams but the smell of smoke was cloying in the dark and his sharp ears caught the clash of weapons from the west.
For a moment he stood, wondering if he could risk inflict his god given darkness on which ever hapless bandits dared invade his territory, but then he heard another scream. The sound was high and piteous, the cry of a woman or child. The invaders would have to bear his wrath for their crimes, pride and honour demanded he protect the weak...though who would protect them from him, he couldn't say.
With deft fingers he wrapped a purple kilt around his naked hips and hurriedly jogged through the hidden canyon that led to the caves where he made his home. His sharp eyesight was as accurate in the dark as it was during the day, although the night bled away colours to shades of black and grey, so the rough terrain presented no obstacle. Nimbly he sped through the narrow gullies that led to the edge of the sandy desert plain, urged on by ever louder shrieks. When he finally emerged from a carefully hidden outcropping it was to scene of devastation.
A trade caravan had camped by the small oasis that grew along the side of his gorge but all that was left of the camp was burning tents and bodies. A few large men who might have been guards still fought a pack of tribe bandits, distinct in their traditional desert grab, but they were heavily outnumbered. If there was anyone left alive from the caravan then they were well hidden or unconscious, certainly Dahnalt could not see them.
The scent of blood was heady and intoxicating as it mingled with the acrid smoke from the burning tents and Dahnalt couldn't help but think of that scream. His fist tightened around the long, leather wrapped hilt of his sword and silently he slipped between the trees and rocks. He knew he would be nearly invisible with his sun darkened skin, but the glinting of his blade could give him away. With that in mind he struck fast, a blur between the trees as he pierced one tribesman and sliced cleanly through the neck of another. At first Dahnalt's murderous attack went unnoticed, the bandits focused on wiping out the last few guards as they filched all they could carry. But the ferociousness of his blade as he skipped through patches of darkness soon sent up a cry amongst them.
He felt a feral grin spread across his face at the challenge, five more tribesmen for him to battle and another four fighting the caravan guards. He licked his lips and shuddered when his tongue caught a fleck of blood. His God's bloodlust was building into a frenzy and he let it go without a second thought, eager for blood and not caring whose it might be. The sword in his hand whirled, shearing through bone as easily as it did through flesh. The sand around him became sticky with gore as one man fell and then another and another until five became two.
Triumphant Dahnalt threw back his head and shrieked a hunting cry, flicking his blade clean with a snarl. The bandits circling him froze at the sound and finally broke, their terror at the monstrous attacker overcoming their greed. Shouting to their compatriots they fled, jumping onto their horses and flogging them for speed. The men fighting the last guard glanced back in confusion and, seeing his terrible countenance in the flickering fire light, struck wildly at the man before scrambling to escape. With inhuman speed Dahnalt lunged after one heavily tattooed man and took him by the throat, squeezing until the tribesman's face swelled.
"This place is claimed for the God Ras, you and yours spill blood at your own risk," He snarled into the man's ear. "Next time you defile what is sacred I will hunt your tribe and slaughter them in His name."
With one last shake he dropped the bandit and glowered as he fled, coughing and cursing. When the men and their horses were finally out of sight Dahnalt dropped his sword and, with his heart pounding and head hazy, carefully raised one hand to lick away the delicious fluid covering it. Guiltily he groaned at the coppery flavour but he couldn't stop his tongue chasing every morsel until there was nothing left to lick. With a greedy sigh he glanced at his other sticky arm but paused when almost in answer he heard a quiet moan from the shadows to his right. Snatching up his weapon Dahnalt crept deeper into the oasis. With his heightened eyesight he could make out a slumped figure in the grass and realised he'd found a survivor.
Hurrying closer he realised it was a young man dressed in a long sleeping tunic, but the noise he'd thought was a moan was a gasping rattle from semi-slit throat. Such an injury did not bode well, but there was surprisingly little blood. Avoiding looking at the victim's face he examined the damage. Whoever sought to end the young man's life had done a poor job of it, slicing at the hard cartilage at the front of his throat rather than the soft, vulnerable arteries at the side. Dahnalt knelt and quickly tore a strip of fabric from his kilt, wrapping the wound until he could no longer hear the suck of air through it and pressing gently. There was hope if he could get him back to the caves.
A hand scrabbling at his knee made Dahnalt jump and for the first time he glanced at the young man's face. He was immediately sorry he'd done so. A pair of dark eyes were staring up at him, wide with pain and fear. They twisted what could have been a handsome face into a mask of fright while the man's lips mouthed silent words. Gently Dahnalt ran a soothing hand across the sweat damp brow and made hushing noises.
"Don't try to speak. You're seriously wounded, but if I can clean and sow the cut on your throat then there's a chance for you," He crooned and the young man seemed to calm a little, his mouth stilling, but there was no comprehension in his eyes. "Very good. I must carry you to my home, but it isn't far. I need you hold the bandage tightly where my hand is."
Dahnalt drew away slowly and long trembling fingers replaced his own against the bloodstained cloth. He nodded his approval and tucked his sword through the belt of his kilt before carefully scooping his patient into his arms and standing. The man had barely reached his full growth but his body was muscled and sleek, if Dahnalt had not been preternaturally strong the distance to the caves might well have been too far. With a grunt he slipped from the oasis and back onto the hidden path into his ravine, following the flowing path of the small stream that ran down its centre as fast as he dared.
"Nearly there." He whispered, not sure whether he was trying to reassure his patient or himself as he suspected it was the tone rather than his words which were understood. The cave system that had seemed so close felt further with every moment and relief swamped him when he finally reached the narrow path that led to his private sanctuary. Dahnalt couldn't help but hesitate a moment before entering, he'd never let another person into this place, not even the high priest or his father.
Swiftly he laid the survivor down, the young man's eyes were terrified and Dahnalt suspected it had as much to do with his now well lit appearance as it did with the horrific injury.
"This is going to hurt, but you will bear it." He told his patient as he cut part of the bandage and eased the shaking fingers clenched over it back. The soft gasping noises stirred at Dahnalt's dark nature but he ignored it, quickly applying some of the pale and potent alcohol the priests brewed to cleanse the wound. The man struggled weakly, his panicked eyes glazing in pain, until Dahnalt restrained him. Clean, the cut did not look quite as severe. But it was deep and looked as if it might have damaged the God's knot.
Dahnalt's usually deft hands were largely unskilled with the fine stitches needed to close a wound, his talons getting in the way more often than not. He worked as fast as he could, knowing he was causing great pain, and liberally doused the lot with more alcohol before fetching a clean length of linen and wrapping it tight. It surprised him greatly that apart from a flinch when the alcohol had been poured onto the stitches, the young man had remained still and silent. Only an occasional glance at his sweat streaked face and pain filled eyes had reassured Dahnalt that he was conscious.
"Done." Sighing Dahnalt sat back on his heels to rub his aching back.
His sigh was returned with a weary grimace as his patient passed out. It was truly incredible that he'd stayed alert as long as he had. For a long moment Dahnalt admired his handiwork, it wasn't perfect but he felt much surer that the caravan would have this one survivor. A low call from one of the night birds reminded him that there were still a few hours of much needed sleep to be had and he eyed up the young man's clothes. If the sleeping tunic had been of good quality before then it was ruined now, stained with blood and dirt.
Indecision struck, he'd never undressed another before, the priests who came to request his intimate company came unclothed and vulnerable and never ventured into his private sanctum. But the young man couldn't be left in the terrible mess, and it would dirty the mats and furs that made his bed. With hesitant touches he picked at the ties of the tunic, deciding that cutting it away was probably the easiest method. To his relief his patient stayed blissfully unaware and once bared Dahnalt was able to quickly wash the fine body before tucking them both into his bed.
It felt good, to hold someone close, he thought as he drifted to sleep.
Jala woke groggy and in agony. His throat burned like nothing he'd ever felt before and memories of the bandits and his bizarre saviour flooded back. His eyes snapped open and found himself looking into the sleeping face of the strangest looking creature he'd ever seen. The dark skin and fine long nose were typical of the people inhabiting Tumbik and the edge of the Great Desert, as was the wide, full mouth. But the deeply yellow skin of the eye lids and cap of dark, oiled feathers was inhuman.
The terror he felt was almost as bad the pain from his throat and it peaked as he came to the realisation that while he was covered with a thick fur, he was naked. Jala had spent all his life travelling with his father's trade caravans and while they'd been attacked before, it had never been with the savagery shown by the tribesmen. Certainly they had never even contemplated being attacked within the Ras Delta of Tumbik. Tumbik was a country renowned for near fanaticism to their Gods, none more so than Ras. The God of creation and destruction and lord over all other Gods, he was symbolised by the black headed falcons found in the cliffs and gorges that spawned the Red River and edged Tumbik proper, a sprawling valley city that squatted like a ripe fruit at the edge of the desert.
It was well known that all blood spilled within the bounds of the Ras Delta was the property of Ras in his most destructive incarnation, to spill it in vain and without the correct observances was supposedly an invitation for a murderous visit from the God's living avatar. Jala had always scoffed at the tale and assumed it was a story spread by blood thirsty priests, but now? His eyes saw truth before them. Certainly what lay next to him was a creature of Ras made flesh, but his trembling fingers touched the bandage at his neck and he wondered how terrible the avatar could be? It had comforted him, he could recall, whatever language it spoke was not Tumbik standard but even when he'd been lost to agony he'd heard the reassuring croons. More than that, it had saved his life. And though he might be naked, his questing fingers showed that he was clean and cared for. Whatever the man creature's origin, he owed it a life debt.
Trying to ignore the ever increasing throb from his throat was becoming more difficult and a fine sheen of sweat was breaking out over his body, but Jala couldn't bear to remain completely still. It would be best if he could fall into a deep meditation, it would speed his natural recovery if he centred his sa and focused as he was trained to do, but his curiosity bettered him. With a wince he tilted his head enough to be able to see a little more of his saviour's home. The roof was domed and glowed faintly gold, as did the oddly curved walls, and there was a small alcove near his head, filled with a beautiful carving of a desert fox. The bed he lay in appeared to be made from some kind of matting and layers of soft animal skins and furs. The air smelled clean, although there was something strangely spicy and animal to it that Jala suspected belonged to its owner.
Carefully he lowered his head back, his neck hurt so much he felt certain he would pass out again as spots of light danced across his vision. He tried to groan, but no sound emerged from his butchered throat and it throbbed harder. Jala felt hot tears begin to leak defiantly down his face and tried to steady his breathing without any success. Panic edged in and he couldn't help but clutch at the bandages. He was beginning to curl his fingers into the edge in an effort to stop the terrible pressure on the wound when they were taken in a tight grip and forced against his chest. Something cool was wiped across his forehead and Jala found himself blinking up into a pair of eyes as black as death, eyes that had no place in a man's face. The lips he'd noted as wide and full were crooning once more, muttering softly in the same unintelligible language, and Ras' creature again ran a damp cloth over his brow.
There was something so comical about the gentle care that Jala felt his panic slide away and the tension leak from his pain racked body. As if in reward for good behaviour a cruelly taloned hand ruffled softly in his hair and the man-beast said something in a pleased tone of voice before standing and muttering as it stared down at him. It was gloriously naked, and positively male with a heavy cock that sat amidst a dusting of dark down. More feathers ran down the centre of its chest and Jala couldn't help but stare in envy, hoping that when he reached his full growth he too might have such fine muscles. They spoke of years of training in combat; the God's avatar truly was an awesome creature.
It spoke again, slowly and carefully, and Jala thought the words sounded close to Tumbik standard, but they were in an archaic form that he could barely make sense of and then only if he concentrated, which proved impossible with the angry throbbing from his throat as a distraction. He tried to shake his head to show he couldn't understand, but it only cause a shot of agony that had him clawing at the furs while his mouth silently mouthed his groans. The creature vanished from his line of sight as he writhed but returned quickly, a delicately carved wooden cup in its hands. This was held to his lips to drink and he did so eagerly, spluttering moments later when he realised it was not water at all, but some kind of bitter potion.
Again a cloth soothed his browed as he heaved, struggling to keep the mixture down and praying that it would do him good. Whatever it contained did not agree with his stomach, settling like a block of iron in his belly and like weights over his eyes, forcing them shut and him back into darkness.
The next time Jala woke he was alone and his throat had eased a little. With careful movements he managed to push himself into a sitting position and finally got a better look at the avatar's home. With surprise he saw more of the niches like the one over the bed, these too were filled with intricate sculptures and carvings although some carried brightly lit oil lamps as well. The floor seemed to be some kind of polished stone and was covered with yet more furs and a few woven rugs of such fine quality that he couldn't even begin to guess at their cost. There were no windows and few furnishings apart from a large carved chest and what looked to be a workbench, covered in half finished sculptures and a few tools. There was an opening in the opposite wall that seemed to lead to another room and one closer to the bed with a glow of natural light towards the end of the passage. With a start Jala realised that the room might well have started as a cave, it would certainly explain the odd shape and smooth stone walls.
Footsteps sounded in the passage to the outside and Jala froze as his saviour strode into the room carrying a string of cleaned, gutted rabbits in one hand with a small hunting bow slung over his shoulder. He was regretfully clothed, although only in a hunting kilt dyed deep purple, the colour worn only by royalty or gods in Tumbik. The black eyes lit upon him instantly and the rabbits were dumped onto the workbench as the man-beast walked over to the bed, speaking softly once more. He listened hard and thought he made out a few words that sounded close enough to Tumbik standard for him to understand that he was being asked how he felt. He was also being told to do something, but had no clue what until a wicked looking hand settled on his shoulder and pushed him back down in the bed. Sleep, he was probably being told to sleep. And really, that didn't seem like such a bad idea.
Dahnalt watched the young man as he slept and decided that he would call him Ta'ala, after the temple cat he'd made his pet as a child. There was something very similar about the two, a shared sleekness of body and angular tilt to the eyes and cheek bones. Even their colouring was close, both with tawny hair and orange tinted brown eyes. The likeness was almost disconcerting and if Dahnalt didn't know that Ta'ala was still very much alive he'd think the trader man the cat's reincarnation. The thought made him smile, as if any temple cat would ever deem to be reincarnated when they could happily make pests of themselves in the afterlife.
It did beg the question as to what the young man's real name might be, but on the few occasions that he'd woken enough to take a little water and food or void his body, any time he tried to speak there'd only been signs of pain and silence. Dahnalt was beginning to suspect that the damage to the God's Knot was serious enough that it might have left his patient mute, at least until he healed. So Ta'ala it was, for the time being. It was better than him or young man or anything else he could think up.
With a sigh he sat on the bed, unable to tear his eyes away and unwilling to leave the room. This was his sanctuary and sharing it stirred strange feelings of possessiveness. At first he'd been uncomfortable having a stranger in his home but as he adjusted to the scent of another mingling with his own he became oddly reluctant about the idea that Ta'ala would leave when he recovered. Asleep, the young man's face had lost the strained look of discomfort and worry and he looked more like a boy, his cheeks smooth and skin unlined. The strong curve of his jaw and wide, if still unfilled, shoulders promised that he would grow to be strong even if he never sprouted any taller and his already toned muscles implied some kind of combat training. His lips were a source of fascination as well, Dahlnat did not have much experience of females but it seemed to him that there was something decidedly feminine about them. The bottom one was much fuller than the top and stained with a pinkish tint and even relaxed in sleep there was an eternally soft, inviting pout fixed upon them.
Truly, he could watch Ta'ala forever, it was much more interesting than attending to the priests. It might be nice though, if his patient was awake, perhaps this time they could talk? And those bandages really could do with being changed, he reasoned to himself as he tried to resist the temptation to prod Ta'ala's side. As he began to reach out he saw the young man's eye lids flutter slightly and paused as they opened, revealing those cat like eyes. So pretty, so unusual. Sometimes Dahnalt found pebbles in the stream with a similar colour and he decided that next time he would collect them and polish them.
For a moment Ta'ala's lovely eyes blinked sleepily then widened, shocked no doubt by Dahnalt looming over him. Guiltily he sat back and tried to look a little less threatening, he knew he was frightening. Even his father treated him cautiously after he'd witnessed Dahnalt in the grip of Ras' rage, covered in gore and ripping apart a blasphemer. It wouldn't do to scare Ta'ala away when he smelled so nice and was in need of care.
"How do you feel?" He kept his voice soft and low and Ta'ala relaxed, but didn't seem to understand any better so he repeated it, slower and with careful pronunciation.
His patient listened to him carefully and Dahnalt found hope that he was understood. But when Ta'ala's mouth opened to reply nothing emerged and the young man grimaced, frustration in his face, it confirmed his suspicions about the damage.
"Don't try to speak. The knife has cut the God's Knot, it may heal over time." He said, still speaking slowly and clearly.
A slow nod sent a spark of delight up his spine and he smiled slightly.
"I am Dahnalt, you are in my…home. I-" There was a loud, discordant jangle of bells from outside the cave and Dahnalt paused in annoyance. The priests of Ras were calling for him from the canyon beyond the narrow path to his home. They wouldn't come any closer, but they would make a horrendous amount of noise until he appeared. "I must go for a while, there is water beside you."
Ta'ala blinked at him and Dahnalt took it as a sign of understanding, brusquely striding from the room and steadfastly ignoring his reluctance. He would thoroughly terrify whoever had interrupted his time with Ta'ala he thought and scowled, his mouth thinned with a grimace as he slipped through the gully and out into the main canyon.
There were four men and a boy waiting for his arrival, the four in the deep blue robes of wadeb, minor priests who over saw ceremonies, and the boy in the pale blue of a novice. Ras' priests had come to initiate a disciple then. All of them sank to their knees in his presence, although he noticed that one of the wadeb was much slower than his peers and as he lowered his face Dahnalt thought he might have caught a glimpse of contempt. Already irritated, his blood now boiled at the insolence. The man might be a priest of Ras, but it was clear he was not an initiate of the main temple and had not been raised with proper respect for the God's Favoured One. How dare they bring a wadeb, whose very function was to insure that every action the temple took was with proper decorum, who did not know his place?
Dahnalt gave a hiss of anger and the already pale novice flinched and pressed himself lower. The action drew him like a predator to prey and he stalked towards the trembling boy.
"Rise." He commanded and the novice scrambled to his feet but kept his head lowered.
The obvious fear on the child soothed some of Dahnalt's anger at the new wadeb, enough that he gentled his hand as he curved his wicked talons around the boy's neck to draw him closer. With a sharp flick he opened four tiny scratches, pleased that the novice knew better than to flinch, and waited for each to bead with blood. He tugged the initiate closer once more and leaned down, sipping at the sweet copper flow and licking until the cuts closed. Dahnalt considered the flavour carefully, tasting for corruption or bitterness that might make the child unsuitable as a priest. Instead he found freshness and purity, the boy would be a success, quiet and intelligent but with good spirit. Yes, a satisfactory choice with the potential to rise quickly through the ranks.
He felt a pleased shifting from the fragment of godhood that resided in his heart, Ras would have this one when he came of age as an offering but as a life giver, not a taker. Licking his lips Dahnalt pulled away and raised the novice's chin.
"You will be taken into Ras' embrace, seek the path of creation and he will offer you much." A slow look of happy awe filled the shaking child's face and Dahnalt stepped away. "He is worthy."
The wadeb rose as one, but again his temper flared as the foreign wadeb glanced up without permission. In an instant Dahnalt was upon him, hand around his throat, lifting until the priest was on his toes and purple with shock. He leaned in and hissed, sniffing at the man's musk and ignoring the bitter stink of terror. There was wrongness in his scent beyond the simple otherness that should come from a new priest of a different temple. He sniffed again, filling his lungs as deep as he could manage and reared back, his talons tightening.
"Meat." He snarled. "I smell meat. You have consumed flesh, blasphemer!"
The other wadeb gasped at his words. The consumption of flesh was banned to any priest who had yet to reach the level of setma, a position most wadeb would not see for years. But the scent on the man was too strong to be a sign of occasional indulgence or accidental taste, so much that it would surely have been impossible for the behaviour to go unnoticed. An impostor. Dahnalt squeezed tighter.
"Bind the impostor." He commanded and the novice pulled the sash from his robe, offering it as a rope to the now enraged wadeb.
"We didn't know Great Lord, Favoured of the Gods. We would never defile your presence, please, please take one of us as an offering. We will take him to the temple where he can be bled in the name of Ras." A petite, dark man babbled as the others bound the false priest. Only when he was sure that the man had been thoroughly tied did Dahnalt release his hold and consider the priest's plea.
It was tempting, he hadn't taken an offering in a moon and his loins had itched with need recently. But then his mind turned back to the pretty in his bed whose side he would much rather be beside.
"I do not require placating, the temple has been fooled. Question him and ensure it never occurs again."
Heart pounding, Jala scrambled back into the bed. He had no clue what he'd just witnessed but was certain he didn't want to be caught watching. He cursed at his own curiosity as he rearranged the furs and tried to settle himself so it would look like he'd never moved. When the avatar had gone to the bells calling Jala hadn't been able to resist following a few moments later, he'd slept far too much already and the pain from his throat was much more bearable so he hadn't seen the harm in a little careful exploration. Instead he'd witnessed some kind of very private, very sacred ceremony. It had been so intimate that Jala had squirmed uncomfortably as he'd watched the avatar suckle at the bloody wounds made on the boy's throat and the happy glow the previously trembling child's face had shaken him.
Nothing, of course, had been as surprising as the creature's sudden lunge at one of the priests. What the man had done, Jala didn't know, but in an instant the hands that had so gently cradled the novice's neck were viciously squeezing another. He'd been too far away to hear what was said, and doubted he would have been able to understand it in any case, but the look of shock on the other priest's faces had turned to panic and anger in an instant. One of them had turned to the avatar and it was clear from his pleading expression that he was asking for some kind of forgiveness. Jala had fled then, not wanting to see what might come next and not wanting to be caught spying.
The exchange had told him a lot about the creature he now owed a life debt to. The avatar was powerful, important and much more than a simple weapon for Ras. In all his nineteen years of life Jala had never imagined that he might end up devoting himself to a child of the Gods, especially Gods that were not his own.