Thursday, May 11, 2017

December 15

Another happy day on our tropical island paradise. Captain Carip came ashore right after breakfast this morning to announce he’d set up a challenge for us.

“Hidden somewhere on this island is a treasure,” he said in his booming voice. “You are to pair off to search for it.”

Fortunately, we’d been warned before coming to shore to dress for hiking off the beach, I wore sturdy shoes and light clothing instead of a skimpy soaksuit and sandals. The rest were similarly dressed.

Captain Carip continued his spiel. “Matara Joelle, since you have not brought a partner, you may join the team of your choosing.”

I think Joelle was a bit overwhelmed when everyone instantly invited her to be a part of their team. She even seemed choked up a little when she said, “Whoever Shalia isn’t going with from Clan Seot.”

My guys whooped to be chosen. They are so wonderful. As is Joelle. She took Anrel from me and said in an undertone, “Let me keep the baby, Shalia. Just in case your partner wants to discover a more personal ‘treasure’.”

“You are beyond bad,” I laughed at her. “No wonder we get along so well.”

“Who’s the lucky man, Shalia?” Seot asked me. “I would like to point out that as a leader, I can make good command decisions during our search.”

“If it’s to be a hunt, I think my choice is clear,” I said, grinning at Larten. “I’m going to stack the deck in my favor and partner with the Nobek.”

“Of course you are,” he said, smirking in triumph at his groaning clanmates.

Joelle smiled brightly at Cifa. “Did she just make a mistake? You do know the island you own, don’t you?”

“Better than Larten does,” he said. “Good luck, my Nobek.”

“Ah, but I know this island too, don’t I?” Ila called from her position next to Ral. “Plus I have a Nobek to help me hunt. See you later, losers.”

Good-natured jibes were traded back and forth before Carip called us all back to order. “I have a clue to get you all started,” he said. “Born of blaze, I run the river; shaped like the arrow that flies in the wind. Now beneath the darkened glass I shelter what you seek. Were you born there? Good luck.”

I had barely time to register the enigmatic words before Ila grabbed Ral by the wrist. “I know where it is! Let’s go!” They were gone in a twinkling, using the supernatural speed that comes with being Kalquorian.

“She thinks she knows,” Cifa snorted. “Our dear captain is never so obvious with his riddle games.” He smiled at Carip, who bowed with a little laugh. “No, I think it’s subtler than Ila believes…but I might have an idea. Come on Seot, Matara Joelle, and Anrel. Let’s see if I’ve paid better attention than my sister.” They were off too.

Erom gave Bazi a shrug. “I never really explored the island,” he said. “Ila and Cifa said it was a good buy, so I went along with it.”

“We’ll see what we can do,” she said in a light tone. “Anyway, the fun is in the search, not the win. Let’s go.”

Each pair drifted off, chattering happily. I looked up at Larten. “I haven’t a clue,” I sighed. “What about you?”

“No, but if past games are any indication, Carip would give Cifa, Ila, and Erom as little an advantage over the rest of us as possible. I think you and I should search for some landmark,” he said. “And the best way to find that is to seek higher ground. Let’s do that. We’ll get the lay of the island and work from there.”

It sounded like a good plan to me. I had no illusions of us winning the challenge, but as Bazi had said, the fun was in the search. Plus, I would get to be alone with Larten. Thinking of how enchanting my swim with Cifa had been, I wanted to know if alone time with the Nobek would lend itself to as much charm.

Which seemed kind of silly, I decided as we left the beach to trot through a thick, almost jungle-like growth of trees. Nobeks can be captivating, but enchanting? Magical? I couldn’t hold Larten up to that kind of ideal.

Yet I was happy just the same, jogging at his side, laughing and talking as we went. As always, he was ready with entertaining stories of his reviled trainees. He was quick to warn me of obstacles in our path, such as a vine that might trip me or a branch that could clothesline my head off. I appreciated that he looked out for me without insisting on sweeping me in his arms and doing all the work. I stumbled on the uneven ground a few times, especially as we began to go up a hill that we hoped would afford us a good view of the landscape. Larten was quick to steady me. I noted how his touch lingered a little longer than was needed as his gaze met mine. Once more, I was aware in a profound way of the man I was with…perhaps because I wanted to experience that kind of sensation again.

When he’s being intense, Larten gives me that anxious-aroused vibe that I tend toward with dangerous men. He jokes more than most Nobeks I’ve known. Yet when he wasn’t regaling me with tales while wearing that amused smirk of his, or softening with concern as some obstruction loomed in my path, he was as lethal-looking as Oses, Jaon, or Stidmun. Add that to his gloriously muscled body, and it wasn’t just exertion that made me pant as we made our way up the steep hill.

I like that he has a decent sense of humor. It may not be typical for a Nobek, but the fact Larten doesn’t mind laughing…even at his own expense…gives him an extra layer of fascination for me. Not that any of the Nobeks I’ve adored are one-dimensional or anything, but Larten has a little extra in that sense.

Ah hell, I’m jabbering here. Back to our treasure hunt.

We got to the top of the hill and had a look around. Beyond the jungle-ish woods we’d gone through, I could see the ocean with our ship bobbing on it like an arrow-shaped cork. That made me think of the clue Captain Carip had given us. He’d mentioned an arrow. Wouldn’t that be hilarious if the treasure was on the boat while we chased all over the island?

“How did that clue go again?” I asked.

Larten quoted, “’Born of blaze, I ran the river; shaped like the arrow that flies in the wind. Now beneath the darkened glass I shelter what you seek. Were you born there?’”

I scowled. Except for the arrowhead-shape, our ship didn’t fit any of the rest of the riddle. I turned to look at the rest of the island.

Most of what I could see was more tangled vegetation. The island had been kept wild, probably because of its proximity to the government-protected reef. Then there’s that thing the Kalquorians have about keeping their surroundings natural when possible.

Only the sight of a slate-gray mountain rearing about two miles away interrupted the dense canopy…that and a stream that ran from a ridged channel coming from the peak. The stream parted the trees down to the ocean, glittering as it made its path. I saw Ila and Ral moving alongside it less than a mile from my hill. There was movement further along, closer to the little mountain. I figured most everyone was concentrating the search along the trickle of water. Was that the river where we’d find something born of a blaze? We were far behind the pack of searchers, it seemed.

“Not much to see from here,” I said. I noted the smallish mountain again, erupting like an abrupt tumor from the skin of the leaves. I thought had a dip in the middle of the peak, though the supposed fissure angled away from me so that it was hard to be sure. “Larten, is that a mountain or a volcano?”

“A volcano, though it’s been dead for a long time. His eyes suddenly brightened. “Hey…’born of blaze’…Shalia, you’re a genius.”

“I don’t know about that,” I snorted. “I could be way off on this. But we’ll assume the treasure would be close to the volcano. What about the second part of the clue? ‘I ran the river’? That’s no river coming from it. Too small. The stream is over there, and there are at least two or three groups investigating it already.”

“As Cifa said, that would be too obvious. But lava can run like a river,” Larten reminded me. “So maybe Carip’s riddle has to do more with that than the stream. Let’s go and have a look.”

Off we went, running down our hill and then back into the cover of the trees. There were no real paths, only thin trails probably made by the animals living on the isle. Larten insisted on taking the lead, and I let him, trusting his sense of direction better than my own. I’d trained as a fighter, not an explorer.

I slowed him down, but he didn’t complained. He kept the jogging pace steady, but I never got winded. The paths were winding, however, so it took us at least an hour to reach the bottom of the volcano.

“From the hill, it looked like the western side of the cone got blown out,” Larten said as we looked up the craggy incline. “That’s where lava would most likely have flowed.”

His look was intense. I could tell he was enjoying unraveling the puzzle. I smiled as he led the way around the base of the volcano. He’s such a Nobek.

Those sharp Kalquorian senses clued him in on the next discovery way before I would have figured it out. He suddenly ran ahead, exclaiming. I couldn’t keep up, but I hurried after him as best I could.

He stopped, staring up the slope, his eyes wide. “There it is! We’ve found it, Shalia!”

I made it to his side and looked up the triangle of rock. My mouth dropped open.

When the volcano had erupted ages ago, it had blown the entire side out from the midpoint of its height all the way up to the peak. It gaped open like a raw, angry wound. It even appeared to have bled, as shiny black rock ran from the bottom of the fissure, contrasting sharply with the dark and dull granite of the mountain itself.

Rock formed of lava long cooled, made glossy and jewel-bright. Its path was straight down to a ledge. There, outcroppings of rock had disfigured its course, forming it into an upside-down triangle that pointed to the ledge. Like an arrow.

Larten quoted, “’Shaped like the arrow that flies in the wind. Now beneath the darkened glass I shelter what you seek.’”

“Volcanic glass,” I grinned. “Obsidian, we called it on Earth.”

“Shall we climb? I see a lot of decent foot- and handholds.” Larten was already starting forward.

I climbed behind him, admiring the way his ass flexed as he made his way up. Now that was a spectacular view. It was only later that I realized had we been truly climbing a mountain, the lovely distraction might have been the death of me. Luckily for me, the ledge wasn’t too high, and as Larten had said, it was an easy ascent. Otherwise, that Nobek might have made the idea of a ‘killer ass’ reality.

We made it to the ledge safely. It was large and flat enough that a man Larten’s size could have slept on it if he’d needed to. Some rocks had fallen from greater heights to sprinkle the surface. With the exception of one chunk of obsidian stone big enough for me to use as a seat (which I did), the rest were just pebbles.

There was no sign of a treasure.

“Damn,” Larten scowled, looking up, down, and around. “This place is the perfect fit for the clues. It has to be here.”

“Maybe Cifa, Seot, Joelle, and Anrel got here first,” I sighed. “Cifa thought he knew the answer to the riddle.”

“If he had, he’d be waiting for us. Or he’d have searched us out to celebrate besting me,” Larten laughed. “He’s smart, but he doesn’t do well with challenges that pit him against others. He gets flustered over competition and trips himself up. It’s a big deal when he can score a win.”

“Poor Imdiko,” I said. I looked our surroundings over. “This has to be it, Larten. It fits all the clues. Or did I miss something?”

He recited again, and I puzzled over it. Born of blaze, I ran the river; shaped like the arrow that flies in the wind. Now beneath the darkened glass I shelter what you seek. Were you born there?

“Who would be born here?” I mused. “That part makes no sense.”

“It does, but not to me,” Larten said. “Carip is good with these kinds of games, so it will be logical once we figure it out. Were you born—where?”

I snorted. I was feeling decidedly unintelligent. Born where? In my case, it was apparently under a rock.

Even when I thought that, it didn’t hit me. Not until I shifted uncomfortably on the hard stone I’d parked my tuckus on.

“Carip knows his Earther insults,” I said, standing up and turning to look at my perch.

This time, it was Larten who was slow on the uptake. “Yes, he has mastered several of your world’s languages. Once Earther women started coming to Kalquor, Cifa and his siblings made it mandatory that their employees learn at least one tongue from your planet.”

I walked around to the back of my sitting stone, the part closest to the wall of mountain. From a crevice between the rock and the ledge surface, I saw the corner of a small box peeking out. I stooped, drew it out, and showed it to Larten in triumph.

The Nobek’s eyes widened. Then he unleashed a whoop that echoed over the landscape before slapping a palm to his forehead. “Why did I not think to look around the rock? Ancestors, please don’t tell anyone I was that stupid. Any of my recruits would have had better sense!”

I laughed. “I didn’t think about it either until the answer to Carip’s final clue literally dug into my ass.” I explained it to Larten. “It seems kind of unfair that only an Earther or someone fluent in Earther sayings would have picked up on that.”

“Not really,” Larten opined. “It should have been automatic to look around and under that big rock, so it was just a little extra hint that shouldn’t have mattered.”

“Except for us silly people who don’t think of the obvious. When I saw the rock, my only thought was to take a little rest break.”

“Open it, Shalia. Let’s see what this treasure is.”

It turned out to be a green jewel set in gold and hung from a slender gold chain. Larten confirmed it was a real emerald. He insisted on putting it on me.

“Like I don’t have enough jewelry,” I griped as the light gem was hung around my throat. “You should see the baubles Clan Aslada gave me. Big, chunky things crowded with gemstones.”

Behind me, Larten’s voice was quiet. “I take it those ornaments are much nicer than this.”

“No, not nicer. More elaborate. Oh, they’re beautiful, but hedging on gaudy. This is much better for me,” I decided. “It doesn’t make me feel like I need an armed guard to wear it.”

I turned to look up at Larten. His dark eyes riveted on me, and his expression was unreadable. Was he let down now that our quest was at an end?

I looked down at our prize, which was apparently going to be mine to keep. A happy thought occurred to me. “You know what makes this extra special? Every time I look at it, I’ll think of us going on a little adventure to find it together. It’s much better than any of the other stuff, because I found it with you.” My fingers brushed over the twinkling gem, a lovely reminder of having fun with Larten.

Fun he was eager to add to. His arms went around me, pulling me close. I looked up to gaze into his face, but before I could see more than his gorgeous purple eyes, he kissed me with eager passion.

Well, of course he did. He was a Nobek, one who had just been on the hunt. A hunt that had ended in success. Such things got his breed excited, and I could feel that excitement growing hard against my stomach. Hello, big guy.

I don’t know which swamped my senses more; the feeling of Larten’s tongue stroking against mine, his big delicious body pressed against me, or the awareness of how much he wanted me. I went gooey in an instant, my arms trembling as they wrapped around his neck so I could cling as my knees wobbled. I was overcooked spaghetti in an instant.

He pushed me up against the mountain’s wall and pressed close. Ooh, power grab. Yummy. I wrapped my legs around him and ground my crotch against his. I wanted to celebrate our victory too.

Larten kissed his way to my ear. “I’m going to fuck you.”

The statement was bald. Asserted as a simple fact. Who knew that five little words declared in such a way could raise the hair on my head? It sure as hell did though.

I had one thought as he unwound my legs from his waist to yank my shorts and panties off. “We’re out in the open. The others might see us.”

“Do you think I care?” Larten yanked the crotch of his shorts open, freeing his cocks. He grabbed my legs, pulling them around him again.

I had a moment of anxiety. Sure, I have more than a passing fondness for exhibition, but usually only when the potential spectators don’t know me. Yet with Larten’s front firmly mashed against mine, I realized that no one would see any of my naughty bits. Just a hint of my rump. They would know what we were doing if we were seen, but I thought maybe Cifa’s in-laws would have enough courtesy to look away. Well, maybe not Erom. He’s basically a good guy, but also kind of a jerk when there’s teasing to be done.

However, I didn’t have time to really consider the potential ramifications of copulating with Larten in full view of any passersby. He was positioning his cocks to fill me. With one thrust, he speared me all the way through.

Clan Seot and I had ended last night and started today with sex. Larten was a snug, almost achy fit, but I was able to adjust to him quickly…a good thing since he was pounding me for all he was worth. With our bodies crushed together the way we were, he rubbed all the good stuff, including my clit. I was racing for orgasm in record time. The noises I made alerted my lover, and he grinned down at me like a hungry wolf. Prophets help me, I love it when he scares me with that look.

“Come for me then,” he snarled. “I want to see you do it.”

Maybe a minute later…probably less…I did. I climaxed with a shriek, clawing at his back. He already wore my scratches from our previous romps, so I was glad he was wearing a shirt.

“That’s it,” Larten encouraged me, still hammering me. “Let’s see how many more I can give you.”

It turned out four was the magic number, each one more intense than the last. My body rioted with internal fireworks that had me yelling fit to make the volcano echo. I pulled Larten’s hair and beat on his back as he made me surrender to voluptuous pleasure.

I might have kept going, except he did not. When he let go, it was with a roar fit for a lion, making my ears ring. It made me realize that even if no one was in the right spot to get a glimpse, they more than likely heard us. I knew a walk of shame was in my future.

But for the moment, it was divine to come down from our glorious celebration in Larten’s arms, the two of us re-learning how to breathe normally again. He sat on the ledge, holding me in his lap and petting me.

“Best possible treasure I could hope for,” he said, the eternal evil twinkle in his eye. “Better than any piece of jewelry.”

I wholeheartedly agreed.

We made our leisurely return to the beach. When we got there, everyone else had already returned. As I’d suspected, they’d heard enough to deduce the treasure hunt had been successfully concluded. Seot, Cifa, and Joelle congratulated us between snickers and giggles. Erom, irascible as ever, greeted us with slow applause, his grin bright. Everyone else chuckled.

Larten strutted with his chest thrown out, the smug Nobek. I gave Erom a vulgar gesture. “Shut up or I’ll lock you in a room with Tej and Pexet and tell them to sing every song they know.”

“I’d rather hear you sing, Shalia. Your voice carries nicely. I bet I could hear you from the other end of the island.”

Larten was happy to sneer at Cifa’s brother. “Too bad you can’t help Bazi demonstrate the same talent. Though I understand that she does have a lovely-sounding yawn.”

While the rest of the men howled and the women rolled their eyes, Erom tackled Larten. They wrestled until Erom had to swallow his pride and concede to the Nobek.

Boys. They are silly things, even when they happen to be Kalquorian.

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