Wandering With a Goddess
Caution: This Fantasy Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/ft, Consensual, Heterosexual, Fiction, High Fantasy, Incest, Uncle, Niece, DomSub, MaleDom, Small Breasts,
Desc: Fantasy Story: Chapter 1 - An archetypical wandering adventurer receives a desperate message from his only brother and surviving relative that his estate is under attack by barbarians. He arrives only in time to save his niece, who proves to be more than he expected in his solitary life. But there is more to the young girl than he can possibly know...
Thirteen days to the hour, and Keros had still not found it. He cursed his luck, although he always cursed his luck when his abilities seemed to fail him. It was not beyond him to find a mountain pass without a local guide when need drove him, but this particular need had driven him beyond reasonable behavior. He had been awakened by a message crystal a fortnight ago from his brother Derivan, who had lived for many years in the border town of San-Elos, where he had grown rich from a brisk trade in spices, rare woods, and exotic slaves from far-flung lands. It was only to be expected ... Derivan had been the brother who could talk ather out of anything, and so naturally turned that ability towards a merchant life.
Keros was neither convincing of speech nor desirous of wealth. He had struggled as an adult most of his life, choosing what master to learn from, picking up what skills he could, then moving on when either his mind felt full or his welcome wore out. He was the epitome of a jack of all trades, master of none. He knew enough swordplay to save his skin from the average lord’s man-at-arms seeking to ‘tax’ him as a newcomer; he had learned some sorcery so he could protect himself from the once rare but now all-too-common appearances of minor demons and other nether creatures of ill-will; he grew hard and confident in the streets of the western cities of Ghesh and Comer, where the only work to be found was thieving from one noble to sell to another; and he had learned of women from a hundred different races and species. His mind was not closed in any way, but even as he had learned of the world, he had found his heart grown cold and distant from others personally. Women tended to find him aloof, and it was with no surprise that he had never wed. It was not a condition he enjoyed, but it seemed to have chosen him—the road was his mistress. An unhappy marriage, but one of necessity.
And now, Derivan was in desperate straits, calling out to his only surviving brother by expensive magic, imploring him to come to his aid, for he and his daughter were set upon within their estate by an uprising in San-Elos. Derivan had told him little actual information, other than the clear and obvious panic he had in his voice and eyes, but it seemed that a shaman of the nearby nomadic Jekkani tribe had roused more than a few of his brethren to his call, and in a fit of religious fervor attacked the town of mostly transplants from other lands. The handful of town guardsmen were quickly slain, driven away, or fled, and the common townsfolk were left to fight from their own homes and streets, or die. Being that many of the wealthier merchants had walled estates higher up along the foothills, they attracted the attention of the wild and rapacious tribesmen. Derivan said that his own mercenaries and guards had driven off three attacks already, but they were minor, and as other estates were taken and looted, the next attack on his compound was larger each time.
Keros nodded as he climbed over the lip of a small dell and saw the pass he had been searching for, feeling relief wash over him. No, Derivan was not close as brothers went. They had visited each other but twice since Keros has first left their father’s home among the elves of the Tindrei Woodlands. Derivan was older, possibly smarter, but not as worldly-wise. He had taken a human wife, as father had, and he had been the same kind of husband father had been to mother, who Keros now barely remembered. He hoped Derivan had not been the same kind of father to his daughter.
Keros slipped through the pass as he remembered the message crystal blossom above the bed, seeing Derivan in a panic, but there, just in view behind him, a girl, visibly trembling even through the hazy image. He assumed it was Derivan’s daughter, his own niece, but he did not know either her name or age. It had been that long ago he had seen his brother, not long before his sibling’s third wife had died, the one he claimed to love more than the others. Hmph. Something within him was stirred at the sight of the girl, something that drew him from his bed that night, more than his tenuous connection to his brother. She, surely, was family, and innocent of any slights and insults Derivan had given to him. She had probably spent her whole life in San-Elos, protected within the walls of a wealthy estate, probably spoiled, likely arrogant, but something, something otherworldly, had settled within him at his seeing her, despite the haziness of the image and the inability to make her out clearly. As he had climbed out of bed a night-bird that had somehow slipped into the inn-room fluttered down from the rafters and thatch above, and landed on one of the bed-posts. It stared at him as he stood there, motionless. It stared at him, and then sang its beautiful, melancholy song. Then it fluttered its wings again, rose in a flash, found a space in the dark thatch above, and was gone. Something, yes. The omen awoke something in his heart and mind and soul, and he found that, indeed, he could help his brother ... and niece.
As he climbed down from the pass, only an hour or so from dawn, he saw San-Elos, and the lazily rising smoke. Thirteen days. Why he did not feel panicked, he attributed to the knowledge of the omen. The gods did not send messages only to lie about them. He was certain they were still alive. He crept closer to the town, passing farmsteads with burned-out cottages, the fires dying many days ago, as likely were the inhabitants. Here and there he scared away scavengers of both natural and supernatural sort, with a whimper, a growl, or a puff of incandescent smoke. He did not fear them, for they were lone individual beasts; he had a good sword and dagger of well-tempered steel, and the sinews and knowledge to wield them in deadly earnest.
He approached the town gates, scored and burned, lying open against the brown stone walls of the town. He grimly noted that caravans and trade between the local provinces and fiefs would avoid this spot for some time, until a group of heroes wandered along and destroyed the ravaging tribes; the town was too far into the borderlands to elicit a response from any great lord or kingdom.
The air was filled with silence. Apparently the tribesmen had ravaged to the point where there was nothing left to satisfy their appetite, and left. He headed directly for his brother’s estate, some half-mile ahead. As he walked he passed bodies that appeared fresher than those outside the walls. The tribesmen had not been gone for long, it seemed ... at least, no long enough to ease his mind. He eased his sword, instead, from it’s scabbard, and muttered arcane words to ensorcel the blade with a biting venom that would paralyze any it came in contact with. He wished no mistakes from this point on.
When he finally caught sight of Derivan’s estate, the first inklings of fear touched his belly. Like the city, it’s smaller gate was ripped open. There was a pile of debris right at the gateway ... no.
On drawing up to the gateway, and the dawn coming finally over the distant Rishash Mountains, he saw the body of his brother, cruelly torn. There were other bodies; retainers or guards, certainly. But no niece. Black thoughts came into his mind; he was amazed at the sudden response his heart was giving ... not to his brother, but to a niece he had never before met. Was she taken? If so, he would find her, track down the last tribesman who had violated her, and take his revenge ... again~, he caught himself. He felt a touch upon his mind, and recognized it as magic, his own skills in spells minor but his understanding of their workings considerable. There was something supernatural going on, some push, some need of another who was much more powerful than him, that was instilling these feelings. He knew not whether to resist, in so doing incurring the wrath of some unknown deity who might be using him as some pawn in a incalculable game of the gods. Regardless, he needed to find her, his nameless niece.
A sound further back in the compound suddenly drew him back to reality. Then there was movement in the darkened doorway of a servant’s hut, its door ruined. He sprang towards it silently, sword drawn, and with his free hand signed a spell that caused a small orb of light to spring into being. Waving it forward, it illuminated the entryway to the damaged home. The sudden light caused someone to gasp from within—a high-pitched female voice—and he immediately stepped within the place.
There, in the light of the aura of his own spell, cowering by a shattered table, was a girl of perhaps fourteen seasons. She was slender and petite, even for her age, and under the dirty and torn white shift she wore, a pair of small, perky breasts with hardened little nubs tented the thin fabric in the chill morning air. His eyes were mainly drawn to her face, though. Long locks of chestnut-black hair curled around it and hung halfway down her back in a tangled mess. Her cheeks were rosy in the cold, curved and feminine even short a smile. A narrow and straight jawline trailed under those cheeks, giving her face a full and healthy appearance. Her young lips were soft and abnormally full, below a puckish, narrow-nostriled nose, with a dusting of freckles across it and her cheeks. Bright, jade-green eyes were wide and terrified below long, thick lashes.
It must be his niece. It could be no other. There was an unmistakable resemblance to his brother, even if it was faint. Her mother must have been beautiful indeed, to produce a girl so lovely at her young age, terror and dirt and blood notwithstanding.
The girl’s slim and exposed body trembled violently, from both fear and the cold. Her bare skin was covered with gooseflesh, and dirty, dried tracks of tears were also apparent on her face now as he drew closer. But there was defiance there, too. In one hand she held a curved Lutinian dagger, and she held it well enough to show she had at least been trained to aim it in the right direction.
“I’m here to help you,” he spoke softly in his deep, gravelly voice. “I’m your father’s younger brother, Keros.”
The terrified girl did not respond to his words, other than to position herself a bit more behind the broken table and debris, raising the dagger higher before her.
Keros stopped, sheathing his sword and raising his hands. “There, see? Not dangerous.”
An elfin, soprano voice, nonetheless steely in it’s quivering resolve, answered him. “I can see you use magic ... I am not a child to be tricked so easily!”
“Aye, I do use magic,” Keros replied. “But do I look like a tribesman? Only their shaman use magic.” Considering, he smoothed back the hair by his temples, revealing the slight point to his ears. “I am part elf, just like your father ... just like you.”
The girl seemed to tense at the mention of elf-blood for just a moment, her eyes widening ... and then she bolted for the doorway. But her body, unlike Keros’, had been weakened by fear and hunger and lack of sleep. He easily caught her up in his arms as she passed, and then deftly reached around her slender wrist as she tried to bring her dagger up to his throat for an ill-advised slash. Applying some pressure, he easily forced her to drop the blade. She was undersized and somewhat scrawny, different than many well-off merchant children he’d seen over the years, but that mattered little at the moment. She fought back against his grip, slippery as a snake, and shrieked wildly like her life was in doubt.
But Keros was a healthy, strong and experienced man, a warrior in body and spirit, and did not lose his grip on her. Instead, he shifted her and held her to his chest, wrapping his arms about her and pinning hers to her side. She fought wildly, screaming in her faerie-like voice for many seconds in an animalistic burst of fury and terror, but it was to no avail. Finally, her strength spent, she collapsed against his body and wept uncontrollably, shaking as if in a fit, unable to contain the turbulent emotions brought about by her ordeal of the past two weeks.
For his part, Keros was unnerved. He had never had a child, nor cared for one at any point in his life, but he knew enough to simply let her spend herself in mourning. He sat, cradling her for many minutes, untensing his arms somewhat, and when she did not try to bolt again, he loosened them some more. Instead she curled up within his burly arms, against him, and her little body trembled violently while her tears soaked into his tunic. He tipped his head down, and in so doing smelled her hair, which, while dirty, had the familiar scent of woman in it, despite her age. In fact, even with a fortnight with no bath, she still had that very pleasant female aroma which he’d always enjoyed. It was a brief thought, and while it did not intrude further into his concerns for her right then, it settled deeply within his psyche, to take root and grow and make its presence known at some future time.
When many minutes had passed, and her sobs and shaking had changed to sniffles and soft trembling, she finally fell silent but for a spasm now and again. She seemed to take a great comfort from his form, both hands reaching up to grasp his tunic over his powerful chest. Finally, after much time, he felt more than heard her childlike voice, ghostly and rasping: “Are you really my uncle?”
“I am the brother of Derivan, son of Teros. And if he was your father, than I am your uncle,” Keros softly replied.
The girl nodded her head almost imperceptibly. “Yes,” her voice whispered hollowly. “I am ... was ... his daughter.”
She looked up at him, eyes seemingly huge and glassy, reflecting pain and loss. “I am Chelone.” Her plump lips remained parted, the lower one trembling uncontrollably, as she looked up at him with an expression of hopelessness and anguish.
Keros nodded. “Chell ... oh ... nee ... after the Lutinian goddess of beauty, yes?”
The girl nodded mutely, a single tear coursing down from her left eye.
The large man reached out a hand, wiping the tear from her cheek with the pad of his thumb, then offered a smile as his hand finished by caressing her cheek with surprising gentleness, brushing some of her dark hair behind an ear. “You were well-named, little one.”
The girl blinked twice, caught by surprise at his words, and then a halting, almost painfully shy smile crept across her face. A moment later she looked down, blushing deeply. She sobbed once, then hiccuped, shivering again in his arms. “I’m cold,” she murmured, burrowing into him. Somehow, something spoke to him of her actions—that it was not just cold that was making her behave so. He would have to question her more over what had occurred, and how her life had gone before this disaster, but for the time being, survival was most important.
“Come,” he said suddenly, rising from the ground of the hut, cradling her in one arm as he picked his way through the rubble. “We will enter my brother’s house and find clothes for you.”
He felt her tense and cling to him tighter with her slender hands. Her voice came out in a tiny, girlish, terror-filled squeak. “What if there are ... what if...”
“I will not let any harm come to you Chelone,” he said to her, more sternly than he meant, and the strength in his voice seemed to cow her. Softening it, he lifted her chin to look at him. “Chelone ... you are safe with me. I will protect you now.” He had no idea why he was saying such to her, as he had no idea what would become of her. He hadn’t considered what to do if his brother was unable to care for her.
But the young girl nodded, eyes wide and awed by the strength of his body, especially the arm around her. She clung to it with her own slim ones, tightly. She directed him to where her rooms were in the ruined estate, and he made his way through the ransacked chambers, hoping to find some of her clothing still of use.
The young girl huddled in his arms and clung tighter when he moved to place her down, and he decided that it would be better to allow her to find comfort in his embrace for now. It troubled him, though—the rapid attachment she seemed to be making. Still, he was able to search through the wreckage of her chambers for usable clothing, though he found little that was usable initially. Chelone, however, cloistered in his arm, made it clear through her hawkish attention that she was aware of his search.
“That dress is torn,” she commented softly when he held one up.
“It can be repaired, then,” Keros replied.
“But there is no seamstress now,” she gently complained, shifting uneasily.
“Then you can darn it yourself,” the large man swiftly answered.
The girl fell silent for a moment. “I have never sewn before.”
Keros turned his head to his newly-discovered niece. “Then you will learn a new skill.”
Chelone’s nose wrinkled up. “It is servant’s work...”
The expression that passed over Keros’ face was dark, and Chelone, even lacking any experience dealing with the man, understood the look, and her face fell. The wandering warrior then placed her none too gently on the floor in her bare feet, and stood over her at his full six and a half foot height.
“It is the work of one who can care for themselves, girl.” He stared at her for several seconds more. “I have learned many talents in my thirty-two years, talents that serve me well. It is better to rely on yourself than others.”
The slender girl stood hunched, head hung, but more than her submissive posture, she looked away to the side. Keros knew enough about body language to understand she was ignoring him. So, he thought, my brother seems to have raised her more like a title-less princess than a wealthy commoner...
“Look at me!” he barked suddenly in his deep voice, and his niece started wretchedly, head snapping up, her blue eyes wide and frightened. “My brother may have given you all that you desired, but I have no such wealth, and no such intentions.” He narrowed his eyes, feeling the anger in him still boiling. “I do not even know what I will do with you. Have you relatives on your mother’s side?”
Defiance flashed for a moment in the girl’s eyes, tempered by a lingering grief. “I never knew my mother ... or her family.”
“There must be someone,” Keros continued, the edge to his voice still there. “Once we find them, I will bring you there and we will be done with it.”
“You don’t care!“ came the clipped response from Chelone, and tears had sprung into her eyes again. Waifish and miserable, she stood with her arms wrapped around herself, shivering in the chill morning air of her wrecked chambers, still only dressed in her ruined and dirty night shift. “You don’t care what happens to me! You don’t care what has happened to me, or my father!”
“That is not true,” Keros responded woodenly, stung by her words. “I honored my promise to come here that I made to my brother. I have come, I have rescued you, and I will see you to safety. Beyond that I make no promise.”
The change in Chelone’s expression was almost startling, when he spoke the last sentence. “You’re just like him. You make no promises so ... you don’t have to break them. You are the same—you’re both liars.” Her face was hard and flushed, and she was trembling violently again, but he only saw her for a moment more, then she spun and ran from the room before he could stop her.
This, of anything she said, struck Keros to the core. Long had his father been such a man, and as long as they had lived together Derivan had been the same: giving oaths and words and paying no heed to them later. Being included in their flaws was a sting Keros knew well, and had tried to escape through his own actions as an adult. It seemed that Chelone had experienced it in her young life also, and he felt the emotion of sympathy pulse strongly in him.
The large man put his hands on his sword and dagger pommels, and sighed. What should he have expected? Derivan’s summons had put familial obligations, once again, squarely in his lap. Was he to have to care for Chelone now for some length of time? For the rest of her childhood? Honestly, she was already into marrying age...
He could not fathom it. He had no home. The road was his jealous mistress, and she made a very poor helpmate, let alone mother. What could he offer a girl besides? How would he find a man she could marry when she was of age, with nothing to offer his family other than her body? Too, as a child of wealth, she seemed to have no discernible skills, like any common peasant girl would possess. With no skills, no father and no wealth from which to take a dowry, she would be impossible to marry off. Of the money he managed to earn, some would have to be spent on her needs, and gods knew what else...
He huffed again, bending down to retrieve what once must have been an expensive shawl; it, too, was torn and ruined ... but as he did, he found a hint of black fur beneath the back of a ruined wardrobe. Moving the piece of wood, he uncovered what was not fur clothing ... but a stuffed cat toy, with eyes of polished agate. It was a child’s companion, and he realized, again, that the girl he had discovered was just that. She was not of age yet, nor had she been given the skills to even function as a peasant child in any village in the known world. His niece was vulnerable...
More than vulnerable. Her father was slain. Shaking his head, he knelt down and picked up the furred toy animal. She had managed, through luck, fate, or divine intervention, to survive for a week or more without any adult to care for her, hidden in the ruins of her former home, the bodies of those she knew all about her. He’d been harsh with her when she more likely needed arms to comfort her ... and perhaps a firm hand to guide her. He could hardly blame her for his brother’s failures as a father, the terrors of the last several days, and the fear of an unknown future.
And, most of all ... she was family. Now, he knew, she was the only family that remained alive in this world to him. For most of his life the word had not meant much. Now, though, it bore through his being and wedged itself within his eternal soul. That feeling he’d felt ever since the night of the arrival of the ensorcelled message—the feeling that had stayed with him on the journey here—crept up further in his mind. The awareness of something larger than either him or Chelone was at work here, he mused darkly, and he’d learned throughout his years on his own that any involvement of the supernatural was ill for those of mortal bent, regardless of the ‘good’ or ‘evil’ of the directing power.
Grunting as he stood, he began a more thorough search of his niece’s chambers.
He found her a short time later, in the ruins of her father’s chambers, huddling within the rent and stained furs from his shattered bed. Her face showed cleaner flesh where her tears had washed away the dirt and grime, giving her the appearance of stripes on her rosy cheeks, but she was silent and still now, staring at the lone window in the room and the mountain peaks visible beyond them, crowned with white.
His voice startled her out of whatever reverie she was in, and when she turned, her eyes were wide as a doe’s before flight. When she did not respond, he stepped into the room, coming to her side and kneeling before her. At this she dropped her head again, and curled her arms under the furs more tightly around her legs and torso.
His hand reached out and took her chin, raising it so she was forced to look into his own hazel eyes.
“I will not leave you here.”
Though her expression did not change, her eyes did neither, still distant and cold.
“And I will not leave you with others.”
She blinked once, and he could see her trying, desperately, to choke back hope that had risen suddenly in her heart.
His hand moved from her chin to her cheek, stroking it softly, before bringing it to rest on one slight shoulder.
“I am your uncle. We have no other family but each other. I cannot promise I will be a good father ... but I promise I will do my best to keep you safe, and teach you what I can of the world, so that you may make your way in it, when I am gone.”
She blinked again, this time to clear the tears welling in her eyes, and before the first one fell, she had hurled herself into his arms, which embraced her warmly. It was strange to him, the feelings he felt from her own small arms trying to enclose his broad chest ... but at the least he could tell the feelings were good. He held her for some time, before pulling her away and looking again into her eyes.
“You, too, must take an oath as well, little one.”
She looked at him silently, then nodded once.
“Promise me that you will obey me in all things, whether you understand it or not. This I will accept no deviation from. I know enough to tell my brother was uneven in his teaching of you, but I will not be such. What I say, I do. What I say, you do. Do you understand?”
She nodded again, slowly, eyes wide and reverent.
“Speak your oath, then, to whatever gods you revere.”
She looked at him in a kind of awe then. No one had ever asked nor expected her to swear an oath to anything. It was something an adult did, and the expectation from him swelled her own pride in herself. She stood straight on her feet, in the embrace of his arms, wrapped in fragments of furs, and intoned in the most serious voice she had ever voiced:
“I swear to obey you in all things ... uncle. By the grace of Senjie, the strength of Kaltok, and the wit of Pelipesse.”
He gazed back at her, his own face quite serious.
“You forget one.”
She stared at him, breathless, afraid she had insulted a god he held dear.
“The beauty of Chelone.” He winked, a small grin breaking out on his lips a moment later.
And there, in the wreck of her father’s estate, filthy with ash and dirt and fear, tangled hair and grimy face, Chelone graced Keros with the first smile he had ever seen from her, and he saw through it all that she well deserved the moniker of the goddess.
Then he grabbed the pack he had slung over his back, and pulled from it several articles of clothing, lying them on the floor before her.
“These will serve you well in the travels we have ahead of us,” he said in answer to her questioning look.
“These are servant’s clothes,” she said, carefully.
“They are work clothes,” he replied soberly. “From what I saw of the clothes in your room, most of them were not useful for traveling.”
“But...” she began.
“Chelone.” His voice was quiet, but the firmness and control he expressed in that one word was as apparent to her as the light of the risen sun through the window.
She looked up into his eyes and all else ceased to matter.
“Remember your oath, girl.”
For a moment she started, eyes filled with fear; whether from him or the gods, he could not tell. Perhaps it was one and the same. Then she relaxed somewhat, and nodded.
He shook his head. “Call me Keros. It is my given name, and good enough for me ... so it will be good enough for you.”
She nodded, unable to prevent a small smile from appearing on her features. “Yes, Keros.”
She reached out to the clothes on the floor, but one of his large hands caught her around the wrist, and she looked up again, expectantly and a little fearful once more.
“When you have dressed ... go to your room, and pick out three of your old clothes to bring. They will be for times when we have ... better lodgings.”
“Yes, unc ... yes, Keros,” she replied, eyes suddenly bright.
“And one more thing,” he replied, now beginning to smile himself.
He reached in the pack one more time, bringing out the cat toy.
Chelone’s eyes widened, and she let out a gasp, taking the cat from his hands and clutching it to herself with a single squealed word: “Gatta!“ She kissed it multiple times, returning it to her chest over and over to hug it.
Keros, for his part, was quite pleased with himself. He felt he had discovered some great secret about young girls, and was about to say something when Chelone again launched herself into his arms.
“Thank you dadd...” she began, then froze in his arms. “ ... Keros.”
Keros was stunned himself, but had enough presence of mind to nod and stroke a hand down her back. “It is well, little one. I understand.”
Her arms tightened around his neck with as much strength as they could muster, and her nose nuzzled into his hair. He knew her heart from the shaking he felt coming from her and the wetness on his neck, and wisely chose to hold on to her for a while longer. Besides, the sensations he was feeling were better than what he had felt in many a year.