last updated July 31, 2010
Blood For Blood, a tale of Zytarri
Part One: Vengeance Shall Be Mine...
The lawless planet Zadolan
In the Past
His vulnerable flesh was no match against the honed razor-sharp edge of Leora Saguna's lust for retribution. She tore open the pliant meat of his neck with a savageness honed in the fires of vengeance. The scent of his terror offered little compensation--less than she had hoped. She swept her tongue slowly along his stretched neck tasting grit and salty sweat pungent with fear, mingled with the life-giving blood that pumped thick and hot from his punctured artery. Holding him securely, she lifted her head and watched as shiny wet droplets quickly turned into dark bloated rivers spreading quickly and seeping into the ragged cheap linen of his mutilated mud brown shirt. She dispassionately studied the blood as it pulsed rhythmically from between the opened tears in his paling skin. He struggled impotently to free himself--to live. She saw the shadow of death in his eyes as he stared at her, his brown gaze wide, dilated with fear--and knowledge.
The victorious growl she emitted was threaded with the scream of triumphant rage that shook the foundations of the small ramshackle hut. It was animalistic, not human, not female. Curling her fingers into his shirt she unrelentingly yanked him toward her once again. Watching his demise slowly creep into his body just as she saw the knowledge of imminent death mask his expression. She lowered her head and fastened her mouth to the gaping wound at his neck and gulped deeply of the last remnants of his blood. The image of Adrik, her Alpha, burned brightly in her mind. She despised the fact that her last memories of him was a vison of him drenched in his own blood.
In violation of the laws of her society she had taken up the hunt. And even after all this time she remained unrepentant. She had become exactly what her kind feared most. The vile taste of this last assassin soured upon her tongue. Vengeance did not hold the sweetness that she longed for, the peace that she craved. It would not resurrect her beloved Alpha. Draining him carried little satisfaction; it served only as an act of completion-a conclusion to the years of hunting down each one of the assassins. She offered this one the same consideration that she had done with the others. None. And when finally his heart stilled, she tossed the corpse aside as so much refuse.
The ancient call of her Sangorrian blood burned with the blazing ferocity of a fierce crimson sun of Ebonnia. How she yearned for the warmth of her home, the steady rhythm that had once encompassed her life. Now that the hunt was satisfied, the weary ache ran bone deep. It wasn’t for need of sustenance that she’d come to Zadolan. At the moment of her alpha’s assassination she forsook the strict Sangorrian laws of her homeland of Ebonnia and swore an oath of blood vengeance. Her pledge was now fulfilled.
A youthful growl of rage erupted into the room. Standing astride, the assassin's warm blood coating the inside of her mouth, dripping from her lips, with a narrowed, predatory scan she turned her head to circuit the mangled remnants of the small hut's kitchen.
And then she spotted the boy cowering in the corner. Leora saw what she had become in his eyes. Fear bleached pale with a child’s impotence, running with soul-deep hatred. He struggled against his terrified mother’s desperate grip.
“No, Victor, no,” the woman whispered, the tone of her voice flooded with the husky tightness of horror. “You are all I have left. One day, you will have your chance. But that day is not today.”
Leora’s acute hearing caught every word of the terrified woman’s whispered caution. Terrified, yet filled with a rage that Leora understood well. Leora tilted her head and studied the pair with the dispassionate assessment of the blood huntress she had become. It was the hungry huntress that urged Leora to kill the boy, the blood of his vile brother coursing through her veins. Honed ancestral instincts told her that he would one day seek revenge upon her. But the image of her own infant daughter, Katriel, rose up to taunt her. The visage of her dead Alpha--the man she had loved with all her heart. He had been noble and fierce, a fit mate--a fit sire to her beloved daughter.
Leora looked down at the corpse of the man she had just vanquished. She studied the blood dripping from her sword. The metallic taste of his lifeblood still throbbed inside her.
It was the bitter taste of vengeance that clung to her lips. This one was the last of the assassins who had taken her alpha’s life. Suddenly, she had no purpose--when she looked into her future there was...a void of nothingness.
Her attention turned back to the boy as she automatically cleaned the sword blade with a corner of the stained white cloth covering the overturned table. She then slid it into the leather scabbard at her back.
Leora had broken every law of her kind. And she was ready to pay the final price. Her own death. There was some measure of peace in knowing it was now over. Finished at last.
A spark of remembered Sangorrian integrity flickered inside her. She could not kill the boy. He had taken no part in the murder of Adrik. He was not a mark of her blood oath. But she knew by the look in his eyes that one day he would seek vengeance if offered the opportunity. Leora knew all too well the power of hate and the call to vengeance.
“Keep him close woman,” Leora said to the cowering mother. “His destiny may yet be changed. A child of his tender age can yet be molded. He need not die by my hand or that of my line.”
Leora swung away and stalked toward the door of the hovel.
“You have killed my sons, Sangorrian bitch. One day, you and your house will pay. I give you my oath on this. My sons will be avenged.” The woman screamed the venomous words at Leora retreating back.
“So be it.” Leora said, weary of blood and death, pain and loss; every bone inside her body hurt. She could not return to Ebonnia, not with the deep stain of blood upon her hands. The Sangorrian laws of her world forbade the drinking of human blood other than that of a mated alpha. On a sworn blood vengeance she was dedicated to killing the attackers but she had gone too far. She had done what no Sangorrian should ever do. And for that she must pay the ultimate price.
She would never see her daughter again. She would never feel the arms of her alpha, taste the sweet texture of his blood and feel its power infuse her with his positive, loving strength. She had given up any hope of returning to the full life she had once known.
It was time for her to die. And she knew where to go on this merciless planet to achieve her goal. Within hours the pain would be gone. And if Druda granted, she would again walk with her alpha at her side.
She thought of her home in the lush and fertile Aurora Valley on Ebonnia. The red earth of the Crimson Border that smelled of hot spice and passionately inflamed the senses. It would be harvest time now, the busiest time of year. The grapes would be plump and juicy on the vine, more than ready for harvesting. Had Druda provided well for the lands during the years of her absence? Oh, how she yearned to see it once more. But that was not to be. If she returned there, saw it again--saw her daughter--she would not have the strength to end her life honorably.
Leora thought of her infant daughter, Katriel, who was now safe and protected in better hands than her own blood-drenched embrace. She would not taint that precious child who deserved so much better.
Yes, taking her own life here, on Zadolan, where criminals and their kind thrived, would be the righteous act for the greater good of her line. Better she do it here thereby saving face for her family rather than face the Council on her own planet to be formally tried and judged for her crimes.
Noah Chisca observed the beginning of the battle when the Blood Huntress first encountered the bandit outside the hovel. Blood moistened the dirt, darkened to black as the hot sun beat down upon the scene. He heard the high-pitched screams, the breaking furniture, the shudder of the foundation as the bandit paid with his life inside the structure.
Hired by the Sangorrian High Council to retrieve Leora Saguna and return her to Ebonnia, Noah had tracked her from the site of the first kill. An infamous Zadolian bounty hunter about to earn a very high bounty, Noah watched his mark exit the hovel. He should have taken her sooner, but watching her track and fight with a symmetry and focused purpose he’d never seen before, he’d held back because something inside him wanted to let her complete her oath. The bandits meant nothing to him, there was no loss in allowing her to dispose of them in her own fashion.
When he took her back to Ebonnia the tidy profit form the task could settle him nicely with a life at ease on the much more habitable planet of Illumata. If retirement were something he wanted. At any rate, it could purchase a piece of Illumatan land. It would make a good investment if nothing else. He watched the woman as she moved along the road away from the hut. She was making things too easy--Noah was a hunter and he liked some spirit in his adversaries. That's what made this profession worth pursuing. That adrenalin rush had become an addiction--the edgy awareness that magnified every experience.
He hesitated, sensing her inattention. It would be easy to capture her. She might be a trained Blood Huntress, but right now she just looked like a woman lost and alone. Shoulders hunched, feet dragging in the dirt the proud huntress he watched these many weeks was nowhere in evidence.
Instinct told him that Noah now trailed a woman weary of living. Though admittedly she was still definitely the most beautiful, arousing woman he’d ever encountered. The most skilled prey he’d ever tracked. He wanted her--he meant to have her. But not in order to please the Council, nor for the reward. Somehow those considerations now took second place to some else. Something that ground unendingly in his gut. He named it lust. But with each passing day, as he watched her, he began to wonder if it was a simple as that.
He shifted his cock to a more comfortable position. The erection had remained a constant distraction since the moment he first caught sight of the fiery raven-haired huntress.
Oh yes, he wanted her all right. No, it was no longer the bounty that interested him and he kissed goodbye to his nest egg on Illumata. It was one of the reasons he hadn't killed her yet. At least he acknowledged that much to himself.
Noah had studied her society, learned everything he could about her. Her kind were usually carefully protected on Sangorria. Their matings arranged through contract and controlled bondings. Her nature was too dangerous--her blood too savage to do otherwise.
And yet, here she was. From the information he'd received from the Council he knew of her history--of the loss of her Alpha--of the child she’d left behind in order to pursue this trail of vengeance. But right now all he could focus on was the fact that she was the most beautiful and exotic creature he’d ever encountered and that her very savage nature was an intriguing attraction for him. That as of this moment she was unmated--free to pursue a Secondary of her own choosing. And that Noah Chisca, a man who had clawed his way up from the dredges of the most lawless planet in the Zytarri star system, meant to be that Secondary, and to make her his.
He trailed her as she headed westward along the dirt road leading out of the small village. No one tried to stop her. Vegetation was light along this trail, thus he could keep at a distance without losing sight of her. He had a good idea where she was headed. Age-old instinct acknowledged what she meant to do. She did not appear to be a stupid woman--far from it. She knew very well what awaited her back on Ebonnia.
He tracked her for long hours, watched as the sun arrowed downward to a point where it stretched to a carpet of gold across the horizon. The sight was breathtaking as the light settle upon the shores of the murderous Sabul Sea, turning the acidic water to a fiery red. Noah wondered if the shade reminded the woman of her home planet. He hurried his step as he saw her head to the ragged, razor-sharp black volcanic ledge teetering over the surge of acidic sea.
If she dove into those swirling red waters her flesh would burn and peel away, a thousand times worse than any high yellow sun would do to her. Far worse than any punishment and execution her own kind would inflict upon her. It would be a slow and agonizing death if the sea serpents didn’t get to her first.
His quick, long-legged strides turned into a jog as he watched her remove her sword and carefully lay it on the ground. His full attention upon her, he saw her carefully removed her skins of battle--she unlaced the tall boots and removed them, then she unlaced the brown vest and removed it. It was as she began to remove the last piece--that his pace turned into a dead out run. He couldn’t take the time to appreciate the stunning pale beauty of her naked skin. All he could think of was what that terrible sea would do to her and if she jumped there was no way he could save her. He had to get to her before that happened.
He watched as, now naked, she knelt and prayed to her gods. Noah hope that would offer him just enough time to reach her. As he climbed the vicious volcanic rock to get to her, she gracefully rose to her feet and poised herself at the edge, gazing down into the roiling sea below. The sunset bathed her in its light and in any other circumstances the vision would have stopped him dead in his tracks. Like a goddess she poised herself at the edge,arms stretched out above her head.
It was just as she leaped that he caught her in mid-air, a strong arm banded around her waist, dragging her away from the edge, driving them both to the ground. He twist, taking the full brunt of the rocky surface, locking her to him, protecting her. He wasn't ready the suddenness of her transition. Te weary woman he’d tracked here, almost instantaneously morphed into a snarling, vicious she-cat. Fangs snapping, claws striking. They rolled over the jagged ground. Her teeth scraped across his neck, he grabbed her hair and yanked back. As fast as she was, he anticipated her every moved, foiled her attempts to maim him, to kill him--to drink him dry.
Her body was littered with wounds from the rocks by the time he had her on her belly, her hands and feet tethered with bindings of tough leather. Breathing hard, he yanked her up. Her black hair spilled over her shoulders, cloaking her naked body. He had the urge to push it back, to expose her and drink in her beauty. Almost as if she heard his thoughts she lifted and tossed her head. Her mane flew back. She straightened her shoulders and glared at him proudly. Her lips were drawn tight fashioned in a savage smile.
“So kill me,” she said. “Or do you mean to have the savage first and then kill me?”
By the gods she was magnificent. If he followed the lawless rabble of Zadolan, he would take her right now. Spread her out on this hard, unyielding rock and brutally fuck her, and then slit her throat. If he were true to his blood and to the barbarian he’d been brought up to be, that's what he would have done. It would have made his job easier. The Council had not demanded that she be returned alive.
But Noah Chisca was a man who had made his destiny his own. And within him was an ethical imperative not grounded in Zadolan lawlessness. He had created his own set of laws. He wasn’t after rape. He didn’t want the money the Council had offered. He didn’t want her dead.
“Don’t presume to know me, Leora Saguna of Ebonnia.” He grabbed her arms and yanked her up flush with his body. “I’ve tracked you since your first kill. I could have had you any time I wanted. Your Council wants you back--dead or alive.”
“So kill me now. It seems to me I would be much less of a burden that way. You’re a bounty hunter--I would expect you’d prefer the most expedient way of collecting your reward.”
“It’s a hefty one I’ll give you that. As I have few needs, it would set me up nicely for the remainder of my life.”
She closed her eyes and tilted her head back, exposing her long, beautiful neck. “Then do it.”
He curled his hand into her hair. He looked at her lush blood-tinged lips and the hint of lethal incisors. And then he swooped down to capture her mouth with his own, tasting her savage nature, exploring the passion of her mouth. He drank of her as greedily as she had drunk the blood of her enemies.
He banded her closer to him as he deepened the kiss, felt his own blood fill her mouth as her teeth razed his tongue and his lips. The fire inside him roared with a savageness he’d never experienced before.
And then she became a heavy weight in his arms. He pulled back and looked down at her. He loosened his tight grip and lifted her unconscious body into his arms. His strong, beautiful blood huntress had fainted.
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