03: Kate and Maverick
Kate’s red eyes lit up; she had been surprised by the stranger who appeared out of nowhere. His gentle hands are holding onto her. One around her waist and the other holding her hand. “You look like you needed a dance partner. Mind if I join?”
Kate quickly looked around, looking for Torac, her faithful scaly guardian. The dragon was nowhere to be found, and he was still off looking for his fishy meal. She did not sense anyone else around, just the one strange man. A stranger in the valley, not unheard of but damn rare. Hard-pressed for any words to say other than the look of shock. By his touch, she could feel his intentions, not hostile but very playful in a way she had not known before.
Maverick continued to move and pull her around the fire. Kate’s heart raced with the unexpected touch. Blushing was something she was not used to.
He had a satisfying grin, “Call me Maverick.” As he swung her around to the mechanical musician’s tune, he dipped her forward, causing her back to arch and her head lowering. “Kate,” she replied uneasily. Their eyes locked on each other, each unwilling to pull their gaze off one another.
The music churned one last note and stopped. “Well looks like our dance is over.” He released her and slowly moved to the opposite end of the camp’s fire.
She warily now looked across at the strange man. The stranger was dressed in light clothing; a white shirt and dark baggy pants. The clothing was not something suitable for the cold nights in this valley. His weapon of choice looked to be a saber and maybe an off-handed dagger. His head supported a broad leather brown tricon swashbuckler hat which also held a few well pinned blue feathers that gave the cap a much lighter appearance. Brown leather boots hiked all up to just below the knees. The stranger had no pack, so she felt he must be part of a larger group and got lost.
Kate looked him over, and he had no pointy ears. Like her uncle, no gray hair either. “Human?”
Maverick looked a bit puzzled, “Yes, are you?”
Kate smiled, “Not quite. Uncle calls me an Infernal. Part human and part something else.”
Maverick glanced around, and he looked for something to sit down on. Pointing to a crude chair, “Mind if I sit?”
“Sure, go ahead.” Kate moved to the shelter, grabbed another one of her other chairs, and moved the wooden fixture closer to the fire.
Seating herself in front of the stranger across from the fire, she tried not to let her eyes gaze too far from him. Something about him just demand her attention. “How did you get into the valley? Not many can come here. The various guardians often prevent outsiders.”
“By airship. I am the pilot of the Chimera. Let me tell you, the storms outside this valley make navigating problematic. Then there is a lightning dragon; had we not been invited, I am sure he would have roasted us alive. The last challenge is the fog, and it’s a bit of pain as well.” He made some flappy hand gestures while explaining his story.
Kate thought to herself. He has already run into Torac, and the dragon failed to mention they had visitors.
Kate found him attractive. Something about him set her at ease, and his voice may be his soothing mannerism. She scooted her chair closer to his.
Maveric noticed that she was slowly moving closer to him. “Such a pretty lady such as yourself surely already has a husband?”
Kate shook her head, “No, no suitable mates in this valley. The bogglings are short, fuzzy, and loud. They do the farming here. How about you? Married, how could you not be?” She scooted the chair closer.
Maverick smiled; his’s natural charming self was wooing another woman and such a delightful morsel as well. “No, not to say that one day I might settle down. I still got a lot to do with my life, hopefully, get rich and get myself a loving fat woman to call my wife.” Something was off about this little infernal. He had known a few, often had a few devious powers some could manipulate others with their minds. His own heart began to beat faster and faster, something was very familiar about her, but he could not put his finger on it. Did he trust her? Why? He did not know. “Who are you?” Kate was not next to him.
Kate scooted closer. “Who are you? Why are you here now? It’s like I know you, but this is the first time we have met. My uncle and my guardian would never allow me to come close to other people. I never knew why? They said I would find out on my eighteenth birthday.” Kate’s words had become calm and low. “Today’s my birthday.”
Maverick found himself drawn to her lips, and a kiss is what he wanted at this point. “May I?” His heart was pounding in his chest.
She leaned into him, “Yes.” He thought for a moment. All he needed was her, and he could spend the rest of his life with her. More than likely, this was just a bit of lust, she was attractive, alright. If this was the girl for him, let there be a sign from the heavens above.
The Binding Kiss
He moved his hand to the back of her head for better guidance. He kissed her on the lips; it was very awkward, he had experience, and she did not. Then he felt something, something like he had never felt before. With a rush of energy around him, the area lights up with a red light. The air around the two spun. The flames in the burning fire burst up into the air. Her eyes were a solid crimson red for a moment. A shaft of red light shoots into the night sky. Maverick felt a madding rush of power that had just grabbed hold of him. Falling to his knees, he continued to clutch the girl.
He hears Kate’s soothing voice, not through his ears, but his mind. “Who are you? What did you just do to me?” Above the little clearing where the shack; high in the sky, a crimson circle with a hand appears briefly then disappears.
Kate pushed back, stepping backward to steady herself. “Did you feel that?” She held onto one of the supporting poles of her little shelter.
Maverick shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. What the hell was that.
Kate responded, “I don’t know.” I should probably go back to my uncle and ask him.
“Who’s your uncle? Why do you think he might know.”
They both then looked at each other in unison. They both thought You can read my mind?
“That was one hell of a kiss. What are you? What kind of infernal?” Maverick asked. What have I done?
“You gave me my first kiss. And my uncle said that I am Saduci. I can hear your thoughts. You don’t have much practice with projecting your mind.” Kate studied his expression. Perfectly normal for me.
Pausing for a moment, he had to think of his demon lore, “Saduci? Your infernal line is from a succubus? Are you going to kill me?”
Kate pulled back a bit, “No, I don’t have those types of cravings. Uncle says I got the best of both worlds. All the abilities without the drawbacks. Besides, why would I want to kill you? I LIKE you.”
Relieved to hear that he was not going to be her meal, she also thought of her saying he was her first kiss. She’s a virgin.
She was blatantly honest with him, and something uncle said she should never be with strangers. Never tell the truth at first. “Yes, I am.”
Maverick asked, “So is having someone in your head perfectly normal?”
Smiling wickedly and enjoying this moment a bit. Kate projected, “You should sit down. This will be easier. Why I created a link with you without the aid of a Bridge Stone is unknown. Maybe because I fancy you and you kissed me. I have never been kissed like that before.”
His head was swirling a bit as someone had just sent an electric shock through his body. He felt tingly all over. “You’ve never been with a man before?”
“Not till tonight,” Kate projected.
He leaned back in his chair, “Shaitar is going to be furious.”
Kate moved the chair to sit next to him, and she helped support him. “Is that your uncle?”
“No, that’s my group’s leader. He’s my boss. We came here to pick up somebody important. At the Tower of the Keeper.”
His thoughts went on about the details, just random thoughts. Kate started picking up the images. She could see the map, in particular, the plotted course. Images of a blond-haired warrior, like the stories in the books she had read, in metal armor.
“We came to get our savior. The man who would lead us against the old gods. The one who would bring justice to their sins. We were to meet him and escort him to the Temple of Ascension.” He rubbed his head, and the headache was still running through. Some more of his thoughts ran through his head.
“That’s wonderful. I can’t wait to meet this person. I just don’t know of anybody here in this valley like that.” She could not wholly suppress her emotions. “The only other man I know, his uncle.”
Maverick felt a slight unease. Lowering her hands down, Kate spoke softly, “Calm down. We will figure out what happened. Plus, I get to pick your brain about the outside world. My uncle refuses to tell me about the outside. He’s afraid that I might just run off and go see for myself.”
Holding her soft hands, he felt himself calm down a bit. Her voice drifted inside his mind, “Now is that not better? Tell me about yourself, Mr. Maverick.”
Maverick turned to face her, “How are you doing this?”
Giggling a bit, “I can usually talk by touch, but I can do this to you at a distance without a Bridge Stone.” Tapping one of the small colored stones on a necklace she wore. “Whatever you did awoke a desire in me. That desire manifested as you. I should feel worried, calling for help and having my guardian come and protect me. I don’t feel I need him. Just you.”
“All I did was kiss you.” He replied.
“Some contracts are sealed with a kiss. I don’t know what you were thinking at the time when you kissed me.” She paused; his mind retraced the feelings and thoughts subconsciously. “You wanted a sign from the heavens above if I was the girl for you?” Kate giggled. “Maybe I am.”
“That’s private. How can I keep my thoughts private? You seem to know how.” Feeling a bit insecure about where his unspoken mind might go with this strange woman.
Kate placed her finger to her the side of her head. “Practice. It took years to develop the proper mental discipline to keep my uncle and my guardian out of my head. Trust me. It is hard to take sweet cakes from the kitchen counter when your mind is open.”
Maverick felt her presence, like a warm fuzzy feeling, then the pressure lesson in strength. He thought himself alone again with his thoughts.
“That’s strange, and I can’t break the link.” pausing for a moment, “I still can feel you. Wow, that was some kiss. I will have to ask my uncle about this. I think you would prefer this, right?”
Maverick nodded. He did not like having someone in his thoughts, even though he felt like he could trust her. “Yes. Do you want to know about me? I was born in the Canandance province. I had six brothers and three sisters. I learned to pilot in the Royal Flight Academy at the age of 16. I went to war for the next three years, my country lost, and the serpentine forces of Veloth conquered us. I retired into a mercenary company known as the Silver Blades. I pilot our ship, the Chimera.”
“Me, I grew up here in this valley. My uncle raised me. The only other people’ish I have met were the boggling.” Moving up her hand to her waist, “A short humanoid creature about three feet high with green fur, they do simple animal herding. I learned to read and write, a bit of melee and spell casting from my uncle.”
“I am going to be leaving here soon. My uncle has arranged for me to have a new series of teachers. With that comes a whole new slew of responsibilities. I might just skip out on them and run away with you. That to me sounds exciting.” Kate twiddled her fingers nervously.
Kate understood that she was one the group had been sent to fetch. They did not know who they were looking for. But why would she be considered a savior? What kind of crap did uncle have in store to tell her later today. One of her uncle’s lessons was never to give out too much information at one time. Secrets were secrets for a reason. He had drilled that into her head day in and day out. She would go with Maverick to his ship and see the rest of his crew, and these were the ones that were going to take her away to some faraway place. Maybe she did not want to go to this Temple of Ascension. Her studies into religion told her that this place was a holy site of the Council of Eight, the most powerful gods on Thanonal. Why would they be interested in her? Kate had a hard enough time keeping herself out of trouble, and she’s not a god. Gods are all-powerful. They can look at you and turn your body inside out.
Kate touched a blue stone on her necklace and projected her thoughts, “Torac, don’t wait up for me. I am going to do some night flying solo. Last night in all.”
The dragon responded, “Very well, make sure you stay away from the south peak. Strangers have been spotted. I mean it, avoid them at all cost. I don’t want you to get hurt. If you do run across any stragglers, avoid them. Call me, and I will deal with them. Am I clear young lady?”
Kate projected, “Good Night, Torac.”
Kate and Maverick continued to talk about each other’s pasts. The more he spoke, the more she became infatuated with him. He had so much to offer, what did she have to give him? Kate left out the names of her guardian and uncle.
Kate found herself thrilled by this stranger. His words were like a new piece of music, exciting and unique. She hung onto every word he said, and she discovered a few points where he embellished his deeds and some moments where he would try and hide his truth because they hurt him when he spoke about it. This was a human, someone whose mind was not closed to her. She could read him like a book. Her companions, Uncle Jeri and Torac, always had such strong mental defenses, like hers. This man had none, and deep down in his own heart, he liked her though he was a bit frightened. She sensed that was because she was unknown to him.