Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Shalafae Archives - Acceptance

This is the first Shalafae story I wrote, back in 2000 or 2001. A long time ago. Rather than re-write it, I have chosen to leave it as is. Some of the details have evolved over the years, so things may seem a little different. I know my writing has improved over this time. I only took a few really badly written or unnecessary things out, and adjusted just a few words. Otherwise, this is how it was originally posted.

Nostalgia, right?

***

Morrigana looked silently at the lay of the land. The wind tore jealously at her long black hair, and gravity tried to claim her back to its bosom. With another heavy stroke of her broad wings, the hybrid warrior would have none of it. She continued to take stock of the lands her father had built for her.

Below her was the sprawling dojo and stables, all for her training. He had spared no expense. He'd even imported the peculiar black obsidian from her home world, so she would be reminded of the race that had betrayed her. There were sprawling gardens, a pond that was more like a lake, tall trees, and some of the native rocks. At the tall fence, the desert sands lapped, relentless in their attempt to destroy the oasis Lord Shalafae had built for her. Catching sight of her weapons master, Morrigana folded her wings, and came in for a landing.

The weapons master was much smaller than her, with dark skin, long dark hair, and enchanting eyes. She respected him a lot. Even when her father put in his rare visits, and her weapons master was forced into whatever punishment was decreed, she always saw the deepest of admiration in his eyes. He was adept in many of the martial skills, and she'd yet to best him in a fight. The young woman promised herself she would, and soon.

"He's coming, isn't he?" Her voice was husky, just rougher than sultry. She glanced at the roiling storm clouds pouring in from the north, feeling the frolicking elementals within them. Storm elementals always followed her father.

"Yes," her weapons master said simply. He touched her arm with the faintest of touches. "He says he has a gift for you, and would like you to be in your armor in the dojo." And then her little friend turned away.

Morrigana stared after him for a heartbeat, then glared at the storm clouds. She reached out with her mind to pull one of the smaller elementals to herself, feeding upon it, and then releasing it. She felt her nerves tingle, and her senses expand. She had the sudden desire to fly up into the clouds, to rend and tear, and to take joy in the freedom of movement. Morrigana focused the energy, reshaping it into something less chaotic. She had to deal with her father.

The young hybrid stalked to her room, and donned her armor. It had been another one of her father's gifts; it fit like a glove, and revealed entirely too much flesh to be practical. But, Shalafae wanted her to look beautiful in everything she wore, so he'd had the armorsmith spend weeks crafting protection spells into it, so no weapon would bite her precious flesh. Sighing, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her tail lashed agitatedly behind her, but she did admit she made a very striking image. He may not have lavished gifts on her, but Shalafae did bring her good gifts. She left her room.

It was the hardest thing Morrigana had done in a while. She paced the hardwood dojo floor, boots making small slapping noises. She kept fluttering her wings, and lashing her tail. She picked up one of her practice blades, and smoothly moved through katas that were now ingrained in her very muscles.

Why is he coming now? she thought. She sliced at the air, dropping to her knees and spinning to face her unseen opponent. Does he know? How could he possibly know? It's just one of his random visits. The bastard!

Morrigana stopped, and faced her weapons master. She remembered last night, their only night together. She remembered the feel of his skin, his kisses, his teeth and nails. He was different in so many ways from the one who'd first trained her in carnal ways. Morrigana lowered her eyes. Her father was a jealous man, and would kill this person for her choice.

A clap of thunder and gust of wind announced Shalafae's entrance to the dojo. Morrigana rose, years of arrogance and breeding filling her. She pressed her shoulders back, and tipped up her chin, gazing imperiously at the man before her.

He was as attractive as always. He was tall, thin, almost sickly looking in this chosen shape. He had pointed ears, a pointed chin, and long white hair. His eyes were bright red, and up-tilted. His mouth was extremely sensuous, and his fine boned fingers clasped the cloth-wrapped shape in front of him. Morrigana felt her soul lurch at the sight of him.

Shalafae'd lain with her, raped and pillaged her, and had trained her to be the sensual woman she was. She'd chosen the darkness he offered her when her own clan had turned against her. She'd felt pleasure at his touch, and the closest thing to love she was ever going to feel. And with the man who'd given her soul life!!! She mentally shook her head. It was a mystery for another time. As he approached her, Morrigana continued to glare. She hated him so deeply sometimes.

He smiled, and gazed up at her. Shalafae was tall himself, but still not as tall as her hybrid form. She refused to bow to him anymore. "My beautiful child, how are you this day?" Thunder crashed to accent his words.

"You interrupt my training. The training you value so damn much. What do you want?" She was always curt with him these days. When first they'd met, she'd cowered and sobbed at his feet, begging for mercy. She refused to ever allow him those kind of pleasures again.

Shalafae smiled, eyes as glassy as a reptile's. "Your training is done, my child. I have come to give you your warrior's weapons." With a flourish, he pulled the black silk off what he held. Morrigana was struck dumb by the sight of two inky black swords. She could feel the magic and power radiating from them. Something about the auras struck her as familiar, but she didn't let it bother her. Instead, her hand began reaching for the topmost of the blades.

It was light for its size, and was longer than her leg. It had a slightly curved blade, single-edged with sharp serrations on the upper edge. The hilt was curved slightly, the pommel shaped like a dragon's head, and the crossbar two sharpened dragon wings. Her eyes were locked on the blade as the sword's energies coursed up her arm. She began experimenting with some swings, enjoying the feel of the new weapon.

"Do you like it, Morrigana?" Shalafae whispered, drawling her name. She could feel his hungry gaze on her as he hefted the other sword. She glanced at it, felt the same draw of energy from it. It was of the same mystery metal, but it's shape was different. It was the same length, but double-edged, with two diamond flanges near the crossbar. The crossbar was wider than a normal longsword's, and intricately carved. Morrigana let it remain in her father's hands, entranced with the sword in her own hand.

"I do like it...it's so...." Morrigana's voice trailed off as she continued to watch her sword.

"Show me how you use it." Shalafae's seductive voice pierced her veil of entrancement. She heard her weapons master draw a real sword, and she turned to face off against him.

Morrigana moved through the fight without thinking. In her gut, she felt something akin to fear. She saw fear in her instructors eyes. They both knew how this was going to end. And all because of her father's jealous pride. But Morrigana was a trained fighter; her body knew what to do, even though her mind protested.

I can't believe I'm doing this. Why should I do anything he wishes? But this sword... Morrigana lost herself in the fight, no longer caring. The sword drove her on, and the glory of moving with all the grace available to her was superb.

At some point in the fight, Morrigana had changed to her full human form. She was only a few inches taller than her weapons master, though her sword still had the reach over his. Even though it was now quite large compared to her, she wielded it perfectly. She was in love with the fight, and clamped her teeth down on her lip, feeling herself become aroused.

Morrigana felt her father's eyes on her, and began to lead her weapons master. She'd never been able to best him, but this time was different. She was fighting for a reason.

In a sudden parry, Morrigana batted aside his guard, and stepped into him, sheathing her blade in his heart. She felt something surge through her body, and held onto his shoulder. As she watched the light fade from his eyes, she felt two tears slide down her cheeks. I'm sorry, she mouthed. His eyes slid closed, and Morrigana knelt to the floor with him.

The young hybrid bowed over him for a time, then rose, pulling her sword from the dead body. She turned to her father, rage in her eyes. She stalked across the floor to him, blood dripping from the sword to the floor. Shalafae did not flinch as she approached; instead, he made himself ready to fight, claiming a spare sword from the rack on the wall. As she came within range of him, she shifted into her hybrid form, and lunged into an attack.

The battle was joined. It was fast and furious, Shalafae being more than a match for her. Morrigana had felt tired at the end of the last fight, but now she just felt invigorated. She growled as she fought, sharp teeth digging into her lip. The swords screamed with primal rage as they clashed, Stygian sparks flying. Shalafae forced the woman farther and farther back, trying to keep the advantage.

Morrigana took wing, and dove and struck at her father. She was blind to anything but him, and all senses were attuned to the attack. She drew blood a handful of times, as Shalafae did on her. Growls continued to tear from her throat as she fought.

Stepping back, Shalafae reached out with the power at his command, and snared the hybrid. She screamed as he used magic to slam her down onto the floor, breaking her left wing. Morrigana screamed again, and rolled off the injured wing, trying to retain her grip on her sword. Pain blinded her for the briefest of seconds, but it was enough for Shalafae to make his move.

Morrigana arched in pain as her father drove the sword into her left thigh, right against the bone. She felt the metal grind on bone, and shuddered. One hot tear slid from her eye. Shivering in pain, Morrigana gazed up at her father.

"Do you submit to me, Daughter?" He moved close to her broken wing. Hot pain throbbed through the joint.

"Die in a fire, you bastard!" she hissed. Shalafae stepped on one of the wing fingers, crushing it beneath his bootheel. Morrigana bit hard into her lip, refusing to scream again, refusing to cry.

"Not an acceptable answer. Do you submit?" This time he twisted the sword, separating muscles in her thigh. Again, she tensed, but did not scream.

"I have given you all the submission you will ever see from me. I asked you to teach me your darkness. I asked you to help me get back at my people. I will not submit to you." Her voice was torn and shaky, but it was fierce.

Shalafae removed the sword from her thigh, and crouched down next to her, grinding the wounded wing again. He reached out and touched her face. Morrigana bit him, drawing blood. "So fierce, my little girl. So proud and beautiful. I think you are ready." He stood, and walked several steps away.

Morrigana rose, blood running from wounds that were already closing, wing dangling limply behind her. She kept hold of her sword, and drug her steps towards him. Shalafae reached out a hand, and she took it. After all these years, she was very used to his bizarre moods.

"Come, my daughter, my sword. Come, let us rule this world." He led her from the dojo, and into a different light.

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