Lamentation of Swans, A
A dark Elf, a dragon, and a unicorn--their alliance was an uneasy one, for their kind had ever kept to themselves, but the dark one, the wizard Artimus, commanded them and the ‘knife’ he held to their throats couldn’t be ignored or easily overcome. They’d been set the task of collecting the orphan girl, Gwyneth, and taking her to him as a sacrifice. Somehow, she was the key to freeing them, to freeing their realm from the evil of the wizard Artimus forever. The question was, beyond enjoying the lure of her flesh, how could they use her?
Length: Mid Novel
Word Count: 64,742
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy Romance
Rating: Erotica. Multiple sexual partners.
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, July 2008
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
PGwyneth had never seen an elf—no magical beings of any kind. Of course, she’dheard of elves, but she’d never expected to actually see one. They rarely left their magical realms to walk among mortals and she’d never been beyond the castle gates in her life, doubted she ever would. A mixture of curiosity and awe filled her as she studied the one currently testing the chains that bound him, momentarily diverting her from the tempestuous emotions roiling inside of her. The long black hair that hung halfway to his waist was as inky as a starless night. She’d caught a flash of bluish highlights when they’d dragged the would-be assassin through the castle gates and across the bailey, like the glint of sunlight on a raven’s wing, which proved it to be a profound black and not merely a very dark brown. His skin was golden brown.
She wondered if he was one of those referred to as a dark elf, or if it had nothing to do with coloring at all but rather a dark heart. She shouldn’t have been in any doubt, she supposed, since he’d been caught in the very act of committing the most treacherous of deeds, but she was far more filled with awe and admiration than revulsion, and that was before she’d seen him.
Now that she’d seen him—well, she could barely catch her breath. She felt dizzy and hot and completely confused. Her heart was palpitating at a frantic pace, her ears ringing. It almost felt like fear, except she knew it wasn’t. It felt like—desire, but she could hardly credit that, could’ve more easily accepted the fear. Why would she feel want or need for that –with him—when she could think of few things she found more disgusting, frightening, and painful?
It confused her, but she was more certain that it wasn’t fear that was making her feel so strange. She supposed it was wicked of her that she didn’t see his attempt on the king’s life as proof of a dark heart, but she didn’t. The truth was, she was far from alone in despising the king. There would’ve been far more folk of the realm who would’ve considered him a hero if he’d succeeded than a villain and she was one of them.
It was one of the things that had nerved her to approach him, the possibility, however vague, that he was nothing like the men of the castle, nothing like a mortal man, all of whom seemed to be nothing more than slight variations of the king, who was a vile creature as far as she was concerned.
It was almost disappointing to see that, beyond the very distinctive ears, there was not a great deal to set him apart physically from the men she saw every day. He was as near naked as he could possibly be and still retain even a bare modicum of decency. He’d arrived shirtless and barefooted, his breeches shredded until there was almost nothing left to the imagination.
She was a little disturbed that the ‘little’ that had been left to imagination had made her breathless with conjecture.
She couldn’t fathom why.
If there was anything she hated more than men’s quick tempers, quicker fists, and nasty habits, it was their ‘nasty sticks’. She would’ve been a happy woman if she’d thought it possible she would never encounter another.
She couldn’t deny that the elf’s form was pleasing to her senses, but she wasn’t even certain of why she found his form pleasing. He was tall and lean. Maybe it was the fact that he was still muscular for all that when the men she was more familiar with than she’d ever wanted to be were either skinny sticks with virtually no muscle at all, or beefy and hauled around as much fat as muscle?
There was no doubt in her mind that he had plenty of muscle to make him physically powerful, and yet that lean form must also make him swift and nimble.
A wave of nausea abruptly shunted her eager curiosity aside, for almost the moment her imagination supplied her with an image of that handsome face above hers, that pleasing body striving above hers, her mind supplanted them with real memories that were far from pleasant.
Thom had managed to corner her before she could slip out of the great hall only a little earlier when she’d helped to serve the evening meal. She’d become adroit at avoiding the men-at-arms, but she’d been distracted—by him. She’d allowed her mind to stray at the most dangerous of times and she’d paid for it in flesh.
She’d been witless enough to struggle on top of the stupidity of allowing herself to get cornered and now it wasn’t just her woman’s flesh that was battered. She was bruised and battered all over from his roughness. Her face was still throbbing where he’d cuffed her with his fist.
She could thank her stars he wasn’t the brute Bradford was, she supposed. Otherwise he might have killed her instead of merely rattling her brains in her head. Then again, she might’ve been able to elude Bradford. He wasn’t as young as Thom and he was a sight heavier. She’d managed to elude Bradford’s clutches the last time he’d tried for her when she’d accidentally planted her foot in the midst of his genitals.
Of course, she’d had to hide for nigh a month to avoid the lesson he’d promised and poor Meg had ended up having to endure instead, but as badly as she’d felt about it she’d never been able to bring herself to simply endure as the others did.
She didn’t think she could bear it anymore at all—not another moment, not another day.
She hadn’t even had her first menses when the men-at-arms had noticed her budding breasts and commenced to laying in wait for her. The first time had been the absolute worst, but she couldn’t say that any time since had been a great deal better beyond not being as painful in her woman’s place. For the most part, she managed to avoid capture, but she had her duties. Cook would beat her and chase her from the kitchen if she tried to hide to avoid having to help with serving and every meal since that first time she’d been caught had been a living nightmare.
“Do you have a purpose for skulking there in the shadows? Or have you merely come to gape, mortal?” the elf growled, jerking Gwyneth from her thoughts, startling her so badly that she nearly dropped the peace offerings she’d brought to try to help her bribe the assassin.
Gwyneth clutched the wine skin and the bundle of cheese and bread a little more tightly, wrestling with the craven urge to run away. As unnerving as the elf was, though, her desperation won out.
“How did you know I was here?” she asked in a low voice.
He turned his head when she spoke and she could see him focus on the wall she stood behind, almost as if he could see the thin crevice she was peering through.
His lips curled. “I could smell you.”
The insult jolted through her in a shockwave. Anger slowly flickered to life in the wake of it.
Truthfully, she smelled the stench on herself—not hers, but Thom’s. At least, it hadn’t been her’s before he’d shoved her to the rushes and coupled with her like a dog. She’d been trying to close her mind to it because it reminded her too strongly of what had happened and made her feel sick to her stomach.
It was hard to ignore the fact that he hadn’t actually looked toward her until she’d spoken, however.