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Chapter 11

The water is staying warm now as the fire heats the side of the tub. I lean back against Zarcar’s naked body and I watch the flames with a sudden premonition. Just a feeling, similar to what the moon had just whispered to me about Zarcar shattering me in the future.

“…dangerous,” I whisper uncontrollably and Zarcar’s hand on my rib cage stays still, while his other hand reaches up to trace his thumb over my bottom lip.

Simple gestures like that I allow and choose not to react to. Wisely so.

“What is?” Zarcar asks low, clearly his mind is on one thing.

I decide to entertain Zarcar at least for a little bit. All the better for when I plotted his murder later on.

“What’s dangerous? Oh, I willingly made room for you to handle me so intimately, completely naked… so here we have a virgin moon priestess and a well defiled and corrupt war lord, bathing together. And I don’t even like you.”

“Yet you think I’m handsome,” Zarcar can’t help himself as I watch his finger lightly stray from my bottom lip, my tongue flicks out and slides across where he just caressed me. What I taste is salt and earthy – like dirt. However, it’s strangely not revolting. My eyes follow his thumb as he brings it back up to run along my bottom lip after I’ve tasted his distinctly earthen and rain essence.

“Do you like soft things, my lord?” I ask in a whisper while not denying his previous statement. When Zarcar doesn’t answer, I assume he agrees, “Because if so, then you may get used to my ribbon attire – it’s all silk and soft.”

“Do you have nothing else to comment about what I admitted to you?” Zarcar seems to have no issue controlling the direction of the conversation. As he says this, I reach up a hand and boldy grab his wrist of the hand near my face. He lets me do it and I simply feel his pulse as I hold him steady in my small palm, pulling his curious fingers from my lips.

“If you wish to teach me obedience,” I answer, truthfully, “Then I am not worried yet, as nothing you have done so far has changed me one bit. By the moon… you will have your work cut out for you, Zarcar. I’m not a very obedient soul.”

“It’s not about that,” Zarcar seems pleased by the words that have danced out of my mouth in an effort to steal the brunt from his idea of teaching me subservience, “It’s about discipline and showing you how to behave. Your fine temper so far is merely adorable, much like your distinctly perky breasts –”

“We are not lovers yet,” I snap, pushing his wrist away from me, he allows me that small luxury, “…perhaps never. Have you even considered I may refuse you forever?”

“I doubt you’d have the will to resist,” Zarcar doesn’t even have to think about his words.

“Priestesses have very strong wills, sir,” my tone turns uncontrollably haughty.

“Regardless, are you going to wash or are you going to fall asleep on me in this bath?” Zarcar sounds not fussed, either way, “How about I help…?”

“If the Master wishes to wash the Slave, be my guest,” I can’t help but use his words against him. A slight cave in. If he was smart, he should not give me the opportunity to downplay his power! If he washed me, he was contradicting himself!

“Since you asked for it,” Zarcar chuckles as his hands start moving. I freeze as the hand on my rib cage, trails along my stomach and his other hand brings water up to trail down my left forearm, to my wrist, my hand and then my fingers.

He is surprisingly gentle and I’m shocked he didn’t try something more bold… like reaching between my legs. Not that I wished him to do so.

I try to relax my stiff spine as I lean back against him once more, but this time I feel a certain difference behind me. A hard prod, like velvet iron… or…

“It’s not inside you, so don’t panic yet, Chryonex,” Zarcar notices my hesitation but calms me with his short reassurance. I shrug and murmur something incomprehensible.

I simply focus on Zarcar’s hands, running along my right arm, as one palm of his cups the water and brings it up to drip along my collar bone and down my chest.

“You are so smooth I almost imagine you are performing some kind of ritual, do you do anything else but control the weather and… keep demons as pets?” I inquire, casually, but as the question blurts out into the open, my heart beats faster with a sudden desire to ask more, “How come you are permitted control of magic but not I? I have the same pull on power as you. I am a woman, yes. But so what – does that mean you expect me to completely detach myself from magic? It’s not possible-”

“…I was going to get to that next,” Zarcar’s hands grab both my shoulders as he seems to steady himself, pausing before he explains, “Your connection to magic is natural. We do not deny that. You harnessing such power is forbidden because women don’t have minds for war. Men, like me, leading men – we are strict with our magic and don’t waste it on the wiles of civilians. Love spells, small curses… are all pointless… war is always hanging upon us and magic is too rare to waste. In plainer words, sweetheart, you are forbidden from harnessing the moon, as I need you fully charged before I make love to you… it’s for the protection of this city.”

“What a joke,” I splutter it out and pull forward, suddenly losing my calm nerve. As I pull forward as much as I can, I swivel around half way to glare at Zarcar in the bath with me. I ignore his naked body to hold his gaze defiantly, “You know nothing of war,” I don’t even understand where the words come from, but I say them like it’s my first instinct.

Zarcar’s eyes narrow at my blushing face – blushing in embarrassment and anger.

“What did you just say?” he asks.

“Does it matter?” I snap, “I wish to go to bed – bathe yourself if you will. Just be careful not to fall asleep while I’m still awake. I might take your bones for my petty and useless curses,” I just say the first thing that pops out of my mouth as I stand up shamelessly. I jump out of the bath and storm my way to the wardrobe. I pull out my draw and take out a transparent night gown.

I put it on the bed and pick up a throw blanket folded near the pillows, to dry myself off. Then, I put on the transparent crimson gown and pull down the covers on the bed. I grab one extra pillow and put it in the middle.

“A middle line to protect my virginity tonight,” I whisper, irate.

“If I didn’t find that so utterly hilarious, I’d probably be spanking you for being so disrespectful of the power imbalance. You should be offering yourself freely to me for sparing you,” Zarcar’s words provoke me into turning and meeting his gaze.

He is washing himself, finishing up, while he gazes at me… completely relaxed. As if he is the king of this chamber.

“Excuse me, my dearest Master,” I murmur, “Did you just suggest I should be offering myself freely to you?”

“I expected you to, but I would never force you. Most priestesses succumb to my wiles a lot quicker. Perhaps I was more cold with them… and therefore more unattainable.”

“Are you now also suggesting, that you are being warm with me?” I ask, raising a brow, “So you are in love with me.”

“My kind don’t know if we love a woman until we taste her,” Zarcar mentions, “Not the lips on your kind face, Chyronex… the lips below. If you would allow me –”

“If you even attempt to… you will not wake up with eyes tomorrow, warlord,” I try to avoid yelling, “Goodnight,” I decide to end the conversation there, pulling the blankets over me and laying on my side with my arms out of the folds. I bring one pillow down and hold it as I rest on it, to calm my internal fire.

I wasn’t entirely sure if I wished to punch him, taste him some more… or if my body was preparing to pounce to truly gorge his eyes out. He was a pig. A swine. Handsome bastard.

I hear Zarcar step out of the bath and I close my eyes as I see him walking towards the wardrobe in front of me.

I can’t handle him being so close before me, watching me so low beneath him.

I turn dramatically to face the other way, giving him my back.

I hear a draw open. Another draw.

“What garments are you grabbing? Do you sleep in a black hood too?” I ask into the pillow, “I wouldn’t doubt it,” I scoff.

“Before we left to the dance, I mentioned a quick way to tame feisty witches… do you remember?”

“Burn them.”

“Close enough… bind them,” Zarcar murmurs it so quietly I know he has a wicked idea.

“I didn’t even know what you meant by that and I still don’t,” I whisper the white lie, refusing to glance at my captor in fear. I’m sure he was expecting me to beg eventually.

“I’m going to tie your ankles to the end of the bed,” Zarcar mentions, too casually. I hold my breath but I don’t move or make an attempt to react… please be joking… “I sleep deeply and I don’t want you abandoning your punishment to simply scale the outside walls like a monkey – potentially killing yourself and wasting your magic. I’m also locking the door.”

“As you can see,” I murmur without moving a muscle, “I am not protesting so how about you put away your bindings and trust me to –” I trail off as the blanket lifts and Zarcar gently grabs one ankle, looping rope around it.

I look over my shoulder to glare at him.

“I thought I was a guest?” I snap.

“Prisoner of war,” Zarcar shrugs a shoulder – he is wearing loose hay coloured pants, his torso still exposed, “You’ll be upgraded to a guest as a reward – when you please me, Chyronex.”

“Whatever,” I hold out my ankle willingly, hoping it pisses him off that I am amenable to his binding. Unfortunately, he simply looks pleased.

I watch as Zarcar ties one of my ankles, then starts on the other.

“My arms?” I ask, “What about them?”

Zarcar simply smirks without glancing at me.

I close my eyes and pull a pillow onto my face, wanting to scream.

I await my fate for the rest of the night. What in the moon was Zarcar going to do when he slipped into the sheets?

I wait for it with baited breath while I test my restricted ankles, finding little room to move. I shuffle down and chuckle into the pillow on my face, “…useless bindings,” I murmur, a little delirious as sleep is beginning to quickly pull a curtain over my mind.

I hear Zarcar faintly lock the door not too soon after.

As I contemplate how fast sleep will claim me, the pillow is taken from my face and I look to see Zarcar slipping into his side of the bed. He removes the one pillow in the middle, throwing it on the floor. I purse my lips in annoyance. Zarcar then reaches out and guides my head up, to put my first pillow behind me. Another strangely affectionate gesture.

Then, my captor, leans on an elbow to stare at my irate face.

“…I already know you’ll enjoy everything I have planned for you, sweety,” Zarcar nods to the ropes on my ankles, “I can sense your curiosity,” I watch him reach out a hand and mop my stray hair to the back of my head. Just like in the bath.

“Goodnight,” I snap, hoping he stops staring at me in that way… like he was enjoying the moment of quiet from me. I turn from him and give him my back again.

A rooky mistake.

Zarcar must have been waiting for it.

He shuffles closer and smoothly rubs his hand along my thigh, under my transparent gown – he trails his hand up my hip, to my waist and then he wraps his arm forward – pulling me back into his chest.

Zarcar holds me tight against him.

I feel his breath whisper over my forehead and my cheeks, right before my hair tickles my ear.

“Sleep well,” Zarcar’s lips touch my ear, moving against my skin while his words rumble like thunder through my mind. Perhaps it was a trick of his, but I fall right into a deep slumber, encased in his tight hold. I could almost have sworn he whispered while I fell deeper, “… draconess.

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