Okay, so my post has nothing at all to do with beastiality, but I thought that title might earn me a few more hits Yes, there are swords in The Beast of Maug Maurai. Yes, there are knights and battles and spillage of blood and various bodily innards. But, fair reader, there is also goodness and humor and, yes, that gentlest of all human virtues, love. Medieval-style, romantic love that twines with the story of our dread Beast. For those of you interested in the gentler of the human emotions, this excerpt from is for you:
“I am nothing.” The silks and linens that draped the canopy’s frame dampened the sound. Sir Jastyn Whitewind’s voice sounded small and flat.
Maribrae, awake by only the thinnest of threads, stirred and mumbled. “You are the blazing star of my heavens.”
It always surprised Jastyn that she could speak like this even at the edge of sleep. The layer of poetry that surrounded her rarely fell away.
“A star,” he said in the monotone of impending sleep. “That’s the right of it. I am nothing but …” He wasn’t at Maribrae’s level, he had to search for the correct words. “I am nothing but a distant star, a winking light in the distance … something interesting to look at, but providing nothing, doing nothing. Being nothing. What will be my title when I am dead? Jastyn the Irrelevant.” He let the words rest in the silks for a time, considering them. “If I were a candle, I could give light to those in the darkness. I could … I could bring day to the night. Even a touch of heat. I could re-light the hearth fire, illuminate a room, help magicians reach great heights. But a star … a star does nothing. Is nothing. Can do nothing.”
Maribrae’s hand found his and she sighed, forcing herself away from the banks of sleep, fighting the panic that rattled her heart when Jastyn spoke like this. “Fuel of my heart’s fire. You are the brilliant Western Star. Everyone who looks upon you knows where they are by your greatness. Your shining example is a guide to peasants and kings alike.” Jastyn smiled and nudged her playfully. She continued. “The world would grow colder and darker without Jastyn Whitewind.” She draped her arm across the firmness of his chest. “What is a candle, that can be destroyed by breath or gust? That relies on the frailest patch of wax and thread to live? Even a distant star blazes eternal, outstaying mountains and civilizations. A candle brings light to naught but a tiny corner. A star gives its light to the world.” She kissed his ear gently. “Do they not say that stars are the lanterns of Eleyria? Do not the immortals hold these aloft to lend light to Blythwynn’s vigilance?” She rose from the bed, parting the silk canopy and taking his hand. “Come my love.”
The two walked across the floor of the tower, the stones still warm from the dying hearth fire, the faint light from the sconced candles casting an orange hue on their naked bodies. They passed the wafting wall hangings depicting the heroes of myth that Jastyn adored. Past a tapestry of Roebi and Ynnebelle, legendary lovers of Laraytia’s past. Past wooden plates bearing the images of The Forgotten Heroes and the Raging Eight. She brought him to the unglazed window, out onto the meager ledge. There were few lamps or torches on this side of the castle, so on that clear spring night the sky was absolutely powdered with stars. The moon, Blythwynn’s Eye, was a smudge in the southern skies.
“Stare upwards,” she whispered. “Ignore everything but the canopy above.”
He stared upward, distractedly at first, longing for the warmth of his bed. He gazed at the familiar constellations. The Spike. The Witch. Homunculus. He knew each of the immortals that made up the points of each constellation. They were as familiar as his room, or his armor. As familiar as the woman at his side. The peppering of stars so similar to the dappling of freckles across her body, her face.
But as he gazed at the dark roof of the world, he noted new details in those old stars. Shapes and subtleties that he had never seen, or had seen once and forgotten. Stars that were not immediately visible appeared. Like tiny forest creatures that peek out when observers are still and silent.
He noted the beautiful chalky veil. The faint smudges and specks that grew brighter when examined, that made the enormity of the night sky seem even larger, infinitely layered. It was endless. One could disappear among those stars, lost in a stormy sea of light and darkness. Murdered by the magnificent beauty, by the mystery and complexity of it all. Somewhere in the west a streak of light arced across the sky, burning for a moment, then fading to nothing.
Maribrae’s touch pulled him away from the black swirling sea, away from the ungraspable sophistication of the universe. Away from the power of those stars. Back to the cool stone balcony of Tower Duleun. To the simplicity of the castle called Daun Sanctra.
“I love you Mari,” he whispered. “More than Roebi loved Ynnebelle.”
“And I love you, Jastyn.” She stroked his face. “More than that.”
The smell of perfumed herbs upon her neck was more powerful than he had remembered. In her eyes he could see the night sky, the scattered stars spilling onto her nose and cheeks in reverse, white skies and dark stars. Her lips parted in a look of such vulnerable beauty, such heartbreaking innocence, that he had to fight off tears. There was expectation there. A query. He took her chin in his hand and kissed her then, closing his eyes and falling into the sweetest darkness he could imagine.
If this type of thing strikes your fancy, then please have a look at my novel, The Beast of Maug Maurai: http://littleurl.info/fbm