Self-published Re-issue | April 26, 2012
The dark, the light and one to merge them.
Nico and Dai have searched for years for the third member of their Sacred Triad. Their combined energy released in a sexual ritual will drag their reality back from the Encroaching Darkness, a mystical force that threatens their world.
Finally, Nico and Dai have found her. But Twyla has been emotionally damaged by an event in her past and has lost her magick. It will take all of Nico and Dai’s deep love to help her overcome her fear and give her the sexual healing she desperately needs.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS TITLE IS A RE-ISSUE OF AN OLDER NOVELLA once included in the “And Lady Makes Three” anthology published by Ellora’s Cave. It has been updated and given a new cover.
This story portrays a sexual relationship between two men and a woman (M/M/F). I have set the price to reflect that this is a short novella.
“…the love scenes scorch… if you want a story that is a thrill-ride and sexy as all get out, then you need to read Twilight.” —Long and Short reviews
“The tone…and the development of the characters…built to a white-hot release… it was just so good I didn’t want it to end.” —Seriously Reviewed
It was always impressive to see, thought Dai as he and Nico mounted the top of a hill and the fourth triad tower came into view below them.
The tower rose high above the weed- and briar-choked hedges that wreathed its base. The weeds were impossible to keep at bay these days, despite the fact that darkness had grown so much that it seemed like constant twilight, and even though it was high summer, it felt like late autumn. Even now, in the gloom of the Encroaching Darkness, that tower seemed to cast a shadow.
He snapped his horse’s reins and dug his heels into the beast’s sides. Beside him, Nico did the same. They headed their mounts down the slope and through the gateway that led into the tower courtyard.
A black-hooded monk took their mounts and another ushered Dai and Nico into the tower. A small fire burned in the hearth, barely managing to touch the chill in the cavernous room. The floor was of solid stone, but no rushes had been laid down. The High Mages of the Vedicinn and their monks rarely succumbed to the temptation of such luxuries. A single table stood in the austere chamber, covered with texts and loose papers. Dai knew well the Vedicinn still sought ways to stave off the Encroaching Darkness, even though they all knew well it was Dai, Nico and the third member of their Sacred Triad—wherever she was—who would mean the difference between triumph and defeat.
Dai and Nico were two-thirds of a sacred triad—one of seven. The other six triads had been formed years ago and they were all waiting for the seventh to be realized. In the eyes of their elders they were failing. For years they’d searched for the woman who would complete their circle of magick. Her inclusion would form the last part of the conduit that would allow the power of all the triads to flow out and purify the binding fabric of their reality, fine-tuning it to a higher level. The formation of their triad would push back the Encroaching Darkness.
A shrunken form rose from the chair beside the table. A gnarled hand extended. The other liver-spotted hand clutched a wooden staff. “Come,” said the fourth mage.
Dai and Nico walked forward and went down on their knees, touching their fingertips to their foreheads in the formal gesture of respect.
They rose and felt the full weight of the Fourth’s gaze on them. He narrowed rheumy eyes at them. “Time is growing short,” said the fourth in a voice that sounded as though it’d been broken over old stones. Timeless. Weary.
He needed to say no more.
Nico cleared his throat. His long black hair was loose and a hank of it had fallen across a dark eye. Nico was beautiful, dark and intense. It was said he could seduce anyone—man or woman. Dai knew it to be true. “We have a trace on her magick. She may be in the northern part of Carraton, and we are traveling there directly after this meeting, High Mage.”
The fourth’s eyes narrowed further. “I thought you told me her magick had been completely transferred to you.”
“Not the entirety of it. She still has a thin thread left.”
They did not know much about the one they sought, save that she was female. All the triads were of both sexes—two females and a male, or two males and a female. They also knew that years ago, some event had made their third member relinquish most of her magick. They speculated that she’d been greatly, perhaps irreparably, psychically damaged due to that unknown trauma in her past. Whatever happened had forced the magick out of her body and, as the other two sides of the triad, Dai and Nico had been forced to absorb it.
“Why have you not sensed this thread before now?” the fourth asked suspiciously.
His temper piqued, Dai stepped forward. It was as if the fourth thought they’d deliberately been thwarting the formation of their own triad. Even when the extra magick they carried was a heavy burden all of the time—and a nearly uncontrollable force some of the time. “We have sensed it over the years, High Mage, but it always moved so erratically that by the time we reached the area of its emanation, it had shifted. Now it has settled and stayed constant. We believe she has finally set up a home. I would respectfully ask your leave to be on our way immediately.”
The fourth stared at Dai and he returned his gaze confidently. Dai’s name was an apt one since he was like the day—friendly and full of light—but also had a temper that could grow hot as the sun.
The fourth tested that temper now.
Tense moments passed. Finally, the fourth banged his staff on the floor. “I summoned you here to impress the fact upon you that the fate of our world lies in your hands. The Vedicinn grows desperate. They search for ways to engage the magick of the triads without yours, and that will be risky. Go,” the fourth barked. His face grew haggard-looking and he seemed suddenly even older than his already ancient age. “You had better find her this time.”
* * * * *
Twyla dug into the hard packed earth in effort to free a hansclep root. Her nail broke to the quick and, cursing, she snatched her hand to her mouth and fell back into a sitting position. Her wooden, hand shovel had split yesterday and she sorely missed it.
It was market day in Dandre Village tomorrow. She knew she’d have to brave a trip in to buy a new one. The last time she’d gone, she’d been hassled by a local farmer. Out here in the country, women traveling alone were always suspect. The farmer, Marsten had been his name, had followed her around. Perhaps he’d thought she was a pleasure woman for hire, Twyla didn’t know. All she knew was that he’d received a sharp elbow in the ribs for his trouble.
She cast around until she found a suitable branch and used it to dig. Finally the root came up. “Dinner!” she declared triumphantly to the forest at large. The root was an ugly bulbous purple mass at the moment, but cleaned up and boiled with the rest of her potatoes and an onion it would be quite delicious.
Cradling the root in her shirttails, she stood and made her way through the murky forest that she called home. She’d found a ramshackle house back in the depths of the woods. It had likely been abandoned for years and had needed many repairs. She’d set about fixing it up, and the project was nearly complete now. Smoke curled enticingly from the chimney in the distance and the thatched roof came into view. She still had things to do but it was becoming very cozy already.
She hadn’t had one of those in a very long time. She’d never had a permanent one. She and her mother had always been forced to move to different villages when she’d been growing up. Never staying in one place long enough for them to settle and make friends or have any kind of stable life.
And then one day… Twyla gave her head a sharp shake. No, that didn’t bear any thought at all. Better to let the past be the past.
She passed the woodpile and the hatchet she’d embedded in one of the stumps. She’d begun to line the walkway up to the door with some large, flat stones she’d found. It looked pretty that way, she thought. Yes, she planned to stay here for a while, forever if she could hold the place. She was so tired of moving.
Twyla pushed the door open and entered the snug house. It smelled of the drying herbs she’d hung from the rafters. She’d warmed some water over the fire so she could bathe. After she placed the root on the trestle table, she poured the warmed water into her hip tub. She loosed her hair from the knot on the top of her head and shook the length out. It was long, to her waist, and blood-red. She had no time or need for vanity in her life and, practically speaking, she should have hacked it off long ago. She fingered a tendril and eyed the knife on the table. Really, she should. It was constantly in her way and was so difficult to keep untangled. She closed her eyes as a memory overwhelmed her.
“Your hair is like rubies, darling,” her mother said as she ran a brush gently through it.
Twlya inhaled. Her mother always smelled of vanilla.
“You have such pretty hair. Promise me you’ll never cut it.”
She opened her eyes, let go of her hair and stripped off her filthy clothing.
The water was comforting and pleasant when she lowered herself down into it and picked up the chunk of soap. She might not want to acknowledge the event that had decorated her body with a crisscrossing of thin, white scars, but she couldn’t ignore them either. They traced over her breasts, her stomach, thighs and buttocks and served as an ever-constant reminder of the night she’d lost both her mother and her innocence forever. The wounds, caused by a mercilessly lashing whip, had long since healed. Of course, the far more severe wounds within her mind and her heart had never healed, and she doubted they ever would.
She finished bathing, toweled herself dry and slipped into her warm, woolen sleeping gown and slippers. After she’d prepared her stew and set it to cook over the fire, she curled up in a chair to watch the fire lick red and amber over the bottom of her cooking caldron. She considered buying a book at the market tomorrow. It was an expensive luxury, but she hadn’t had a new book in a very long time. Exhaustion and relaxation gradually stole over her body and soon she found it difficult to keep her eyes open.
When she awoke, early morning light filtered in through the windows and the fire had burned itself to ash. She stood and checked the caldron and found it cold, as was her cottage. Her breath showed in the crisp air. Twyla cursed under her breath as her stomach rumbled. She’d have to remake the fire for heat and for food.
She moved to pick up her kindling basket from beside the door when she saw a flash of movement outside her window. Murmuring voices met her ears. Two males. Dropping the basket, she picked up her sword that lay against the wall instead. Moving stealthily, she inched toward the door and opened it a crack.
At first, she saw nothing, then she glimpsed two men roaming around outside. One was blond and fair; the other had dark hair and eyes. They were both tall, and well built. She bit her bottom lip, assessing them. They’d be far superior to her in swordplay unless she could dodge and strike, not allowing either of them to corner her and lay their weight against her.
No…with two of them that was probably not an option.