Reaver’s Kiss: Chapter Four


The thrashing of the arsek’s tail slowed, stopped and finally lay still.

My heartbeat didn’t slow down so quickly.

This strange, soft creature had nearly perished in an instant, all unaware.

“You must be more careful,” I growled, severing the arsek’s head, flinging it far from us before rising to my feet with its thick body still in my grip.

At least the question of dinner was answered.

Slowly, she lowered her arms down from where she’d held them up and I realized she wasn’t trying to protect herself from the snake.

The scent of terror rolling off of her had nothing to do with the arsek.

She hadn’t known it was there.

Her fear was because of me.

The thought sickened me.

“I won’t harm you,” I said, softly.

Whatever the strange female was, she was alone and afraid. No weapon of the Makers, no matter the metal case that’d held her. And with no knowledge of the dangers that were all around her.

“Nor will I let you come to harm.”

Her face softened, a flicker of a smile crossing her lips.


Her words were nonsense but her expression…

“Do you understand me?” I asked.

Her soft brown eyes lit up and she nodded.

“Yes.” The hissing sound meant nothing.

“But you can not speak my words?”

Her shoulders slumped, the perfect picture of dejection.

My thoughts circled.

Back in the village, cubs were put into the teaching chamber where our language, history, and the foundation of our clan were given to them in one long span of dreams and visions.

The hut that held it and the generator were the oldest, most sacred part of the village.

But there was no way for us to go there, not now.

“Then I will have to teach you,” I said slowly. “There is no other way.”

She nodded, another flash of a smile curving her lips. “Goodimgoodwithlanguages.”

“First, we must eat.”

She pointed to the arsek, eyebrows raised. “That?” 

“Their poison is deadly. But the flesh is sweet.”

She didn’t say anything. She didn’t have to.

No words were needed to convey her doubt about our upcoming meal.

I took stock of the clearing.

With only myself to worry about, I hadn’t given too much consideration for where to make camp.

The situation was different now.

I looked at her from the corner of my eyes, trying to guess at what sort of clan she came from.

No horns or red skin like the Vak’ki, not the wings of the Sen’ki.

Her skin was almost as pale as the silver of the Ol’ki, but she didn’t have the arrogant stance of their warriors, the sly look of their faces.

I looked again.

She didn’t look like a warrior at all.

Then it would be my responsibility to protect her until she rejoined her people.

I cleared a small patch of leaves and branches, making it easy to see anything crossing the ground.

“Stay here,” I told her, using one of the fallen branches as a broom to expand the area.

“Jobra leaves would be useful,” I muttered.

She looked around, but didn’t move.

“I’ll show you what they are in the morning,” I decided. “Fire will be our friend tonight.”

Soon enough, the arsek was skinned and speared, roasting over the flames.

She huddled next to the fire, arms wrapped tightly around her.

I eyed her thin clothing, again confused as to where she could have come from that such apparel would be remotely practical. A long, loose shirt without sleeves that reached mid-thigh over pants so tight I saw every curve of her leg. Not warm enough for the mountains, too confining for the jungle. 

Her thin shoes would give no protection from the ground or the elements in any territory. A broad silver cuff on her left wrist was her only ornament.

“Are you cold?” I asked her.

She shook her head.

“You will feel better when you have eaten,” I assured her.

She showed no sign of understanding.

I went to fetch one of the broken logs I discarded, checked it over for arseks or other threats and brought it over to the fireside.

“Sit before you fall.”

For a moment, it looked as if she’d argue, then she sank down, her gaze still lost in the flames.

“In the morning, we will make a better camp, until you can tell me where you were going.”

She nodded quickly, and I handed her a hunk of the roasted snake, wrapped in a thick leaf.

“Thisishuge,” she said, staring at the lump in her hand. “YoucandothisAllison,” she said. But she still didn’t move, just studied the meat in her hands.

Finally, she took the smallest possible bite of the charred flesh, then the first real smile spread over her face.

“Itsgood,” she chirped. “Itsactuallyreallygood!”

“Itsgood?” I tried to repeat her own words back to her, the strange sounds like bubbling water in my mouth.

Her smile only grew broader, sending a small twitch of pleasure deep in my chest.

I liked making her smile.

“Good,” she repeated with a nod.

She finished her first piece, and a second, but refused any more, shaking her head and miming with her hands a huge bloated body, puffing out her cheeks until I laughed.

“You’re smaller, perhaps you don’t need as much food.”

Allison pushed the rest of the pieces towards me as if to confirm, licking her fingers happily as I finished the remains of the meal. I passed her my waterskin, watched her delicate neck tilt as she drank.

She leaned back, stretching, then winced, her hands flying up to rub at her shoulder.

“Are you injured?” I asked her again.

She shook her head, the slightest of movements before pointing to her neck, then twisting her hands fiercely.

It seemed unlikely she was trying to tell me she had a broken neck.

True, I knew nothing about her clan. But nothing I’d ever met survived such an injury.

I remembered my own headache after my fall during the quake.

Thought about the saplings that’d grown in the path left by her metal cylinder.

How long had she lain there?

My muscles would be stiff as well.

Rising up from my crouch, I moved behind her.

She twisted, staring up at me in confusion.

“The muscle is knotted?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said, the hissing sound of her agreement.

I reached towards her, then stopped, blocked from the skin of her neck by the fall of dark hair that swung freely past her shoulders.

For a moment, I wondered what it’d be like to touch it.

“I am no healer, but if you move that, I will see if I can unknot the muscle.”

Her gaze met mine for long moments, then she nodded slowly, pulling her hair around to the front, her head leaning forward slightly, leaving the pale column of her neck fully exposed.

Softly, I let my fingers run over her spine, following the curve down to her shoulders, her skin soft and smooth like nothing I’d ever seen, ever touched, her scent as heady as the perfume of navien blooms.

A low groan escaped her lips as I rubbed tiny circles across her shoulders.

My hands went still. “Should I stop?”

In a silent answer, she reached up, placing her hand across my fingers, pushing down, keeping me in place.


I began again, and with every light stroke across her skin sparks flew through my fingertips.

Slowly, the corded muscles relaxed, her breathing even as she sank back against me.

“Good?” I asked her again, enjoying her closeness, the strange feelings it stirred up inside of me.

She nodded her head more freely this time. “Good.”

The crackling of the fire and our voices muffled against the night sounds of the jungle.

And then a trill sounded, like no bird I’d ever heard.

She jumped up, staring at the silver band on her wrist now flashing with a blue light, cutting through the darkness.

“Theyrehere!” Her fingers flew over the metal, all of her attention drawn to it.

I stepped back in shock as her words came from the band on her wrist.

But it wasn’t her voice.

A flow of sound I couldn’t understand, but Allison surely could, her excitement shining in her eyes.


From her worried look, it seemed clear that though the voice went on without stopping, it hadn’t answered her.


The cuff kept talking, the strange sounds only for her ears.

Then the voice changed and I bit back a snarl.

“If you hear this, Reavers of the cities, hear me. Let this be as true as the visions of the teaching chamber. I am Ryven of the Vak’ki, and I swear this on my life. The human women are a new clan from far away.”

I snorted.

Leave it to one of the Vak’ki to state the obvious.

“They are not part of the Makers, know nothing of the games. They are not warriors. Not enemies.”

Allison stared at her wrist, then nodded up at me in frantic agreement.

“I didn’t think you were, little one,” I assured her.

“Help them rejoin their clan. Bring them to the mountains of the Sen’ki. Safe passage is assured.”


There was no other word for it.

I could believe in the sudden existence of a new clan. 

I could believe in this soft, delicate creature before me, who so clearly didn’t know where she was, what land she’d been brought to.

But I couldn’t believe the words of a Vak’ki.

And safe passage through the lands of the winged ones?


As if the speaker heard my unvoiced thoughts, it continued.

“I did not believe it was possible either,” the Vak’ki warrior droned on.

“Spend some time with your human woman. You’ll understand soon enough that they will change your world.”

The message repeated, the words of Allison’s tongue spilling out, but heedless of her calls, then again the voice of the Vak’ki with his insane claim of safety.

And then the cuff at her wrist was silent.

Allison stared blankly, then turned around, hand pointing in all directions as she spun.

“We can not go there,” I told her.

Her lips pressed into a tight line as her eyes narrowed.

Perhaps my little one was a warrior after all.

She picked a direction, heading away from the fire before I dashed forward to pull her back.

Bitterness flooded my mouth as she struggled in my arms, but I refused to let her go.

“It’s not safe at night for you,” I told her.

And despite the assurances coming from her bracelet, I was not certain how safe the mountains of the winged ones would be for either of us.

“Besides, we cannot get there right now. Maybe not for a long time.”

She went rigid, staring up at me, her mouth falling into a soft ‘O’ of surprise.

“I will show you in the morning.”

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