Voidhawk redemption, p.8

Voidhawk - Redemption, page 8

 

Voidhawk - Redemption
 


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Rosh turned his head to stare at her over his shoulder. He stared into her eyes and found her expression seemed almost sad or longing. He was amazed that her eyes, even though they were as black as the darkest night, they were as expressive as a human woman. That or perhaps she was toying with him and still seeking to undo him even though she claimed he was her Master in all things.

  “You ain’t right,” Rosh muttered, then gave himself the necessary shake to finish. He tucked himself back in and turned to face her, not surprised to see her head bent low again.

  “Yes Master, but I need only your guidance.”

  “You is a woman, for sure! All these mood swings.”

  Volera glanced up at him sharply, though her expression wasn’t one of anger but rather surprise. “I seek to do your bidding, My Lord. Your pleasure is mine. You are different from any Master I have ever had, both because I am fully yours to do with as you please and because you seem to lack the cravings of so many mortals.”

  “You should try getting everything you want sometime, it’s got a way of changing things.”

  “Master?” She asked.

  “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” Morem called out from the fire.

  Rosh looked past Volera at the man and chuckled. “Naw, you just keep interrupting at the right times. Keep it up and I’ll be owing you!” Rosh brushed past the demon, leaving her with her head bowed and following behind him.

  “Rosh, tell me, this fine lady, is she yours?”

  Rosh chuckled. “Guess you could say that. Can’t get rid of her, at least.”

  “You’re a fine young lad, and I’ve known many a woman in my time. None so fine as this lady of yours, but pardon my presumption. Treat no woman with harshness, even the one with a knife to your back. I’ve traveled this world far and wide in my time and wherever I go they are trapped and mistreated by their men, be they husbands, fathers, brothers, or even friends. A man may know freedom, but a woman must always be mindful of her place and keeping those around her pleased. Is that a life you would like to live?”

  Rosh stared at him, an angry retort dying on his lips. He glanced at Volera, who kept her head bowed. He thought back, thinking of his own whore of a mother and all the women he had known since. Of them all the only ones that he could recall truly seeming to be free were those aboard the Voidhawk. Jenna, Jodyne, Becca, Willa, and even Bailynn. They served Dexter as crew, but when they weren’t on the ship or the deck, they did as they wished. Even Keshira, owned body and soul by Dexter thanks to an accident, he encouraged to find her own place in the Void.

  “Might be your on to something,” Rosh offered. “Or might be you speak too much. This fine lady ain’t what you think she is.”

  He held up his hands. “I meant no offense, friend. I’m just an old man that can’t keep his mouth shut. Especially after such fine hospitality.”

  Rosh smirked. “Pity I’ve no ale to share as well. It’s been a long day, Morem, I’ll be turning in. Don’t worry about keeping watch, we’ll be fine.”

  Morem thanked him and worked at his pack to produce a makeshift bedroll. Rosh watched him a moment then sighed and turned to find his own spot on the ground. Volera joined him a moment later, kneeling beside him. “Master, it’s not my place and if it displeases you I’ll not do it again.”

  “What?” Rosh grumbled.

  “I can be, Master. A fine lady. You need only bid me be so.”

  Rosh looked up at her and chuckled. “You ain’t no lady,” he repeated. “Maybe you could be, but that ain’t who you is. You got no respect for people — mortals — and you got no knowing of what’s right and what’s wrong.”

  “Yes Master, I’m sorry for disturbing you.” Volera said. She made to rise but Rosh grabbed her wrist and held her still.

  “Besides, you think we look funny now, a woman looking like you with a big ugly lug like me, imagine the looks if you was dressed and acting like a proper lady.”

  She stared at him, a slow smile spreading across her perfect features. The firelight glistened off of her bronzed skin, casting dancing shadows across it. “You are right, Master, as always. Save for one thing, I’ve known many mortals, more than you can imagine. You’re not pretty, but you are a handsome man who can have his pick of women.”

  Rosh scowled at her. Her words confused him. What was she up to? “Stand watch, I’m tired.”

  “Yes Master.” Volera stood, flashing him a quick smile, and then moved off to find a proper position to watch from.

  * * * *

  “Master!”

  Rosh jerked upright, sitting and staring into the darkness. Volera’s call still echoed in his head. He saw Morem rousing and looking around as well, confused. Rosh reached for his sword laying on the ground beside him. Before his hand touched it he heard feet pounding against the ground and the sounds of bodies moving through the underbrush.

  Rosh cursed as he was driven back, fragments of a wooden spear sticking out of his battered mail shirt. He tried again, grabbing his sword and pulling it from the scabbard. He stood as the first of the goblins burst into the firelight. The campfire was burning low, little more than glowing coals, but it shed enough light for Rosh to see the short creatures brandishing clubs, blades, short spears, and even slings.

  He leapt forward, clearing the fire and sweeping the head off of two of them with his first swing. He roared, a guttural yell that made the goblins pause. They turned to face him, those closest drawn to him and hoping to bear him down with their numbers.

  Morem yelled out as Rosh’s shadow fell on him. He rolled away, struggling to free himself from his makeshift bedding and ready his own club. He finally rose up, club in hand, and saw the mound of bodies Rosh had surrounded himself with. A few goblins remained, but they stayed back. One let loose a stone from his sling, driving Rosh’s head back sharply as it cracked against his skull. He grunted and shook his head, then wiped the blood from his eye and roared at the goblin.

  The surviving goblins looked at one another, taking hesitant steps backwards. Heavy footfalls behind them and sound of guttural cursing made them draw up short. Shapes began to form out of the darkness, emerging to the edge of the firelight and standing taller than even Rosh.

  “Volera, tend the fire!” Rosh snapped.

  The campfire burst into flames behind him, casting light into the shadows and showing the ogres for what they were. Large and thick limbed, they resembled the goblins only in their sloping brows and pointed teeth. One held a double bladed axe great enough to fell a mighty tree in a single swat. Another a great club with iron spikes driven into it. The third held a sword longer even than the one Rosh wielded.

  “They followed me!” Morem hissed.

  “Ruined a good campsite too,” Rosh retorted. He raised his sword and yelled. “Well? You coming?”

  The ogres spat out something in a guttural language that Rosh did not speak. He did understand their intent clearly enough, when they strode forward and made the very ground shake with each step of their feet. They stood at least three heads taller than him, but Rosh felt no fear.

  He gutted the ogre with the axe, disemboweling him even as it raised the mighty weapon. Rosh spun to the axe-wielder’s side, driving his shoulder and elbow into its hip to knock it off balance. The ogre collapsed, struggling to gather up it spilling entrails. Rosh paid for it with a blow to the back from the great sword.

  His mail was hewn by the blow, but it saved him from being cleaved in half. The warrior was thrown forward, the air driven from his lungs even before he crashed into the ground. He rolled over, ignoring the agony in his back. His sword was trapped beneath him, leaving him no choice but to throw up an arm to defend himself from the spiked club that fell towards him.

  Rosh grunted at the impact, but even his grunt was not enough to mask the sound of the snap of his arm. The club rose again while the ogre grinned above him. Rosh rolled, the pain in his back dulling and forgotten in light of fresh wound to his arm. He rolled to a knee, expecting the blow to cr
ush his skill at any moment. He blade in hand he looked up and saw the ogre looking up as well, trying to understand why it could not swing its club.

  Three barbed strands encircled it, holding it in place. Behind him stood Volera, black eyes blazing with an unholy non-light as she was revealed in her true form. Rosh wasted no time in appreciation, he drove his great sword up with a single arm, impaling the ogre through the belly and chest. He ripped the blade free, stepping to the side to keep the soon-to-be-corpse between himself and the sword wielding ogre.

  On the other side of the fire Morem was losing ground to the three goblins, he bled from a wound on his arm and held his left hand to his side. “Help Morem,” Rosh called out, then kicked in the side of the ogre’s knee. It crashed to the ground, crushing a thorny bush beneath it.

  The remaining ogre charged Rosh, swinging its sword in a deadly arc that the warrior barely had time to duck under. Off balance and ill-prepared, he was sent stumbling when the ogre’s heavily muscled knee smashed into his side. Rosh stayed on his feet this time, raising his blade in time to deflect the next sweep of the ogre’s sword. The force of the blow made his arm tingle. Rosh cursed, knowing his other arm was useless to him while broken. His own sword was an unstoppable force but so long was it that even with his great strength it was awkward to wield with only one arm.

  Rosh threw his blade, tossing it at the ogre and making the beast flinch. The wound it caused on the beast’s shoulder was shallow, but the distraction allowed Rosh time to draw his hand axe and hack deeply into the ogre’s hip. He felt it strike bone and had it wrenched out of his grip when the ogre tried to twist away.

  Rosh circled, suddenly unarmed. It caused the wary ogre to turn. The severed muscles in its leg buckled, dropping it with a grunt to the ground. Rosh leapt on its back, wrapping his good arm around its neck and heaved back. In seconds the resounding crack of a broken neck echoed in the clearing. The ogre jerked, sending Rosh rolling off of its back, but it lay still in final defeat.

  Rosh stood up, gathering his weapons and breathing heavily. Upon seeing Volera standing over the bloody bodies of the three goblins and a cowering Morem before her, he drove his great sword into the ground beside him. “Volera, come here.”

  She turned away from Morem. “At once Master,” she said, rolling her wrist and making her whip dissolve in a puff of smoke. She came to him and knelt before him, head cast down. “Have I displeased you, Master?”

  “You done good,” Rosh said. “Now help me set this so it’ll heal.”

  Volera looked up at him, her eyes going to his arm and seeing a jagged tip of bone sticking through the skin. She smiled. “Of course, Master.” Her hands went to his arm, one taking his wrist and the other sliding along his forearm where the bone was shattered. Rosh set himself and nodded to her, jerking his shoulder back as she pulled his hand. He growled through clenched teeth at the pain, then felt a fiery heat that seemed as though it would burn his arm off. He forced his eyes open and looked, seeing Keshira’s palm pressed over the open wound in his arm. The heat faded slowly, leaving his arm mended.

  “What was that?” Rosh choked out through a dry mouth.

  “Master, what are you?” She breathed, staring up at him. “I sought to heal you and make you stronger by giving you some of my blood. Your body refused it, burning it up.”

  “I’m special,” Rosh muttered. “Thanks, now put some clothes on.”

  Volera stared at him then nodded, dipping her head and briefly being consumed in a screen of smoke that she reabsorbed a moment later. Rosh stared at her, then shook his head admiringly. Gone was the simple peasant outfit. She wore tall black boots fashioned of a leather he doubted came from a cow. She wore a warrior’s skirt made of overlapping strips that looked more like fashioned scales from some sort of large reptile. She wore again the black cuirass from when he had first met her, displaying ample cleavage and molding her body into an impossible shape. Impossible save that he knew she displayed the same curves without it. A luxurious black cloak rested upon her shoulders and fell to her knees.

  Rosh glanced over in time to see Morem fainting.

  Chapter 5

  “Master, why do you tire yourself? I can do this.”

  Rosh tossed the body of another goblin on top of the growing pile. They had little of worth, only a few coins between them and various personal treasures that were best left undisturbed. He mopped his brow with his arm and turned to look at her. “Wouldn’t want you breaking a nail.”

  “Master, I can dispose of them with but a thought.”

  Rosh snorted and continued to gather the remaining corpses. Morem had been made comfortable but he remained unconscious. Rosh finished and turned to look at the mound. With three ogres forming the base of it, it was piled as high as his head and beginning to stink.

  “Going to bring in some animals soon,” he muttered, glancing at Morem. “Trees is too green to burn good, we best be moving.”

  “Why do you keep me?” Volera asked, failing for the first time to address him as her Master.

  “Ain’t figured out what else to do with you.”

  “Others of your kind would sacrifice kingdoms for such service.”

  “Ain’t no others like me,” He grumbled. “That why you keep telling me all the different things you can be for me? You feeling useless or something?”

  Volera cast her eyes downward. “I am accustomed to different behavior and different things. You have no interest in what I can do for you. The power I can bring you. I am bound to you, yet you have no need of me. You speak of not wanting to keep things you do not need, on the chance that someday you might, yet I see no other reason for you to keep me so.”

  “You want to leave?” Rosh was tiring of her questions. In general he was just tired over all and wanted some solitude.

  “I want what you want…Master.”

  Rosh snorted. It would have made his life easier to be rid of her. She knew better than to come after him again, he’d beaten her once and could do so again. Even her help with the ogres might not have been necessary. He’d never had his head caved in so he didn’t know if his cursed body could heal would like that, but anything was possible where those damned elves were concerned. They’d made him like this, and he knew to never trust an elf.

  “You wasn’t so nice when I met you. You tell me what you do when you isn’t licking the boots of some wizard and that ain’t my idea of being charitable. I let you go, you go back to doing that stuff. Ain’t no man that deserves what you bring ‘em. None ‘cept maybe me,” Rosh mused, thinking aloud and realizing what his course of action needed to be. He cursed before continuing. “Guess I gots to keep you round since I got you muzzled, at least.”

  “Muzzled? Am I a hound you would throw scraps from your table to?”

  Rosh smirked. He had gotten a rise out of her, the first sign of a real personality he had seen. Or at least the first sign of one that he could appreciate. He gestured at the pile. “Handy trick you did with the campfire, can you do that to them too?”

  Volera glanced at the mound, whispering something too quiet for Rosh to make out. The pyre of corpses erupted in a column of flame that lasted a few seconds. Rosh stumbled back, raising his hand in front of his face in alarm. “By the void woman! What’re you doing?”

  By the time his protest was out the flames were gone. Blackened ground remained, covered with a fine silt. A faint stink of sulfur hung in the air. “Doing your bidding, Master.” Rosh glared at her, causing her eyes to dip to the ground again. A faint smile remained on her face.

  “Let’s be off before the old man wakes up.” Rosh glanced at his ruined mail shirt that he had taken off, then shrugged. She could probably fix that too he figured, but he didn’t want to be owing the Fury for anything if he could avoid it. “And what’s with the getup?” Rosh gestured at her outfit.

  “Does it displease you, Master?” Rosh was getting tired of watching her raise and lower her head almost as much as he was by her constant
questioning.

  “Stop staring at the ground,” he snapped at her. “And you can wear whatever you want, I thought you wasn’t wearing that anymore.”

  “Yes Master. This seemed fitting if we are to be doing battle.”

  “Where’d that sword of yours go, thought you was getting it fixed?”

  “I was awaiting your approval, Master.”

  “And stop calling me Master! It’s getting on my nerves.”

  “What should I call you?”

  “Name’s Rosh, but talk like a normal person.”

  “Yes…I will.”

  Rosh smirked but said no more. Seeing the powerful demon at a loss and unbalanced amused him, even if only for a moment. He cast a final look to Morem, bidding the man a silent wish of good luck, and then left the campsite behind.

  * * * *

  “I’ll be damned,” Rosh muttered. Ahead of them in a clearing lay a ruined cart, surrounded by signs of trampled undergrowth and the tracks of many beings, both large and small.

  “I told you he had no guile about him.” Rosh fought the urge to glance at Volera. She sounded defensive. A demon with hurt feelings, the last thing he wanted.

  “You ain’t had the best run of luck.”

  “Master, I have spoken only the truth to you at all times!”

  Rosh shook his head. “You said what you thought was true, but you been wrong plenty.”

  “What? When?”

  Rosh smirked at her inability to hide her surprise and, perhaps, outrage. “Thought you could beat me.”

  He thought he had silenced her with that simple reminder, but she proved him wrong a moment later. “You have shown me many things. It would pain me to admit it if I did not know you were so much more than I once thought, but I have learned from you. I now know to never underestimate my foes.”

  Rosh turned to face her in the clearing. “You saying you think you could have taken me if you knew then what you know now?”

  Volera was silent for a long moment, her eyes bowed submissively. Rosh growled at her, prompting her to look up at him. “Yes Master, you fight like a savage. You are strong — stronger perhaps than any mortal, but that is not enough.”

 
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