Rumors of the Wind (Mound of Gaia Vol. 2)
Rumors of the Wind (Part 1)
There is a world just beyond our own where ancient beings of myth and magic live and breathe. Vera Desailliers, a powerful sorceress, and her lovers, Sam and Evander, must balance their love for each other with their roles as leaders of the Mound of Gaia, the order that has sworn to protect both our world and the Beyond.
Part One: The Servant of Hope
Deep in the catacombs of the Temple of Gaia is a room no one may enter without permission from the High Votaress. The Temple guards call it the Vault of Sorrow and speculate over pints of ale about the piles of gold and jewels within, their minds so simple that the only sorrow they can imagine is unspent wealth. Those initiated to its secrets let them jest. If they understood the true nature of what the Mound of Gaia harbored, they would never sleep soundly again.
The Vault of Sorrow lies behind an unassuming door of stone that is sealed with the strongest magic the High Votaress possesses. It is a small room, with space enough for two people to stand toe-to-toe, too small to warrant the fear that it evokes. The room itself is dusty, the air inside still and close, but cool. The catacombs stretch deep into the earth and any sound made within the Vault travels no farther than the walls. There are no signs of comfort in the Vault of Sorrow, no chairs or lamps, just three sturdy shelves mounted on the wall opposite the door. Each shelf holds seven identical jars. Twenty of those jars are empty. One is not.
The mythology that haunts mundane dreams was born from truth. The jar had been a gift to Pandora, the first mortal woman, on her wedding day, but it had been a trick. When the unsuspecting bride had opened the jar, a flood of evil spirits was released and spread over the world like a tide of darkness. Hope was the only thing that remained behind and it fell to the Mound of Gaia to guard it, lest the jar be opened and all hope in the worlds escape and vanish like smoke on the wind.
Only four people in the uninitiated earth and all the Beyond know what is hidden in the catacombs of the Temple of Gaia. The High Votaress, her Guardian, her Familiar, and the Votaress, whom she picked from all her sisters to keep the door. They call that woman the Servant of Hope. She feels every breath of air that blows across its face. It is her blood or the blood of the High Votaress that breaks the seal and opens the door.
Vera Desalliers did not think there was a single thing worse than Tuesday afternoons in January. The holidays had passed and foot traffic was slow in the bookshop she owned with her lovers, Sam and Evander. It was not like Out in Print did a riot of business on its best day, but they managed a respectable clientele, enough to justify the storefront, even though the bulk of their business was done online. The day had started slow and shifted into unending by lunch, all the while a prickle of disquiet had been growing beneath Vera’s skin with each tick of the clock. The High Votaress of the Mound of Gaia needs to trust her gut, she thought and leaned against the wrap-desk, contemplating the unnamed trepidation that niggled at her mind.
Gusts of arctic air whipped down Arcadia’s streets, kicking up eddies of snow, and dislodging the scarves and hats of those courageous enough to brave the cold. The mournful howl of the wind made Vera shiver.
“I hate winter. It’s so bleak,” she said.
“Stop brooding at the weather,” Sam, Vera’s Familiar, slid his arms around her waist and hooked his chin over her shoulder. The blood of Familiars ran warmer than humans and Vera nestled into his arms, glad for the extra heat. He was a living exercise in contradictions. The sharp angles of his features and his long limbs were softened by the bronze of his skin and his gentle affability. He was as proud as Sampson of his hair and let it grow until it kissed his shoulder blades, but he hated the feel of it on his neck and always wore in a messy bun. Vera was overcome by a swell of affection for Sam and tilted her head back to kiss his cheek.
“You need a shave.”
“I thought you liked me scruffy?” Sam molded his body to hers and peppered her neck with kisses. She ground her ass against him, thankful that the wrap desk obscured the lower half of her body.
“That feels nice, but I really think we should –” Vera’s train of thought was interrupted when Sam bent low and slipped a hand under the hem of her skirt. His touch was gentle, moving up her thigh and between her legs where he caressed her with light strokes of his fingers. The layer of cloth between his hand and her body did nothing to dampen the desire that clenched deep in her core.
“What do you think we should do?” Sam said, and Vera felt herself go slick with excitement. He worked a hand inside her panties and growled at the wet heat he discovered when he spread her open.
“Fuck, Sam,” she moaned, gripping the counter.
“Only if you want me to,” he pulled her panties to the side and slipped two fingers inside her.
Vera cried out when Sam’s grip on her pussy tightened. It was electrifying to have her pleasure controlled by another. She gave in to the tremors that emanated from her center as their passion began to build.
“Tsk, not unless you say it,” he chided.
When he chuckled, the sound was like the darkest honey flowing down her spine and spreading through her limbs. Vera heard the teeth of his zipper clicking in the quiet and felt the cool air on her ass when he lifted her skirt. She leaned forward, casting an eye toward the windows at the front of the shop, relieved to see the sidewalk empty. Vera felt the silk covered steel of Sam’s length glide over her clit and her lower back dipped, displaying her womanhood, flared open and waiting.
Sam groaned, a rumble that shook Vera’s bones. He slid inside her in one smooth motion, setting a quick pace, shallow thrusts alternated with long strokes of his shaft.
“Great Gaia, you’re so fucking beautiful.” Sam pulled her up, one hand splayed on her waist and the other played her like a fine instrument, drawing a symphony of sound and feeling from her body. The flame of her orgasm burned hot, rushing along her limbs. Vera surrendered to its sweet agony.
The walls of her sacred passage pulsed around Sam and she felt him harden. She pushed out of his arms and dropped to her knees. He whined when she looked up at him through her lashes and licked the head of his shaft. Vera savored the tang of her essence on his skin and swallowed him to the root. Her nose met the soft hair at the base of his cock. She inhaled, basking in the musk of their combined scent while she worked him deeper in her throat. She pulled back to breathe and suck on the head. Sam’s eyes closed and he tangled his hands in her hair. Vera slid her mouth over him once, twice, three times before the taste of his bitter sweet release burst across her tongue.
Sam curled over her, bent double, his head resting on the counter while he panted through the aftershocks. Vera sat back on her heels and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. His breath caught in his throat when she tucked him back into his pants.
“Are you done fussing about the weather?”
“Nope,” Vera laughed, popping the “p” at the end of the word. She stood up and straightened her skirt, “You keep an eye out for the hordes. I’m going to put myself back together.” She said and walked back to the stock room.
Vera studied her reflection in the restroom mirror. Her face was flushed and her hair had devolved into a riotous discombobulation of curls. The years had been kind, her cheeks and neck were still smooth, though she had started to notice small lines at the corners of her eyes and her mouth. Evander and Sam said they made her more stunning. The lines on a person’s face show that they’ve lived, Evander had said one night after the three of them had made love. She smiled, her body was sated and her limbs felt loose. Whatever had been attempting to push in on her conscious mind had faded.
Vera wandered back to the front of the shop, grateful for the lack of customers. Sam was just hanging up the phone when she wrapped her arms around his waist.
“You know, maybe we should close early, no one’s going to come out on a day like this. I’d rather be home watching you ride Evander’s cock.” She rose onto her tip-toes and kissed Sam’s neck.
“Hey, who was that on the phone?” Vera asked. She turned him to face her and was shocked by the pallor of his skin.
“Sam, who was on the phone?”
“Evander,” Sam’s reply was flat, stripped of emotion.
“What did he want?”
A trill of fear skittered across Vera’s skin. Iris had been eighteen when the preceding Servant of Hope died and she had accepted her role. Vera thought she was too young to be trapped in a cold tomb watching a door, but Evander and Sam had reminded her that she had been Iris’ age when she had ascended to High Votaress. Vera had second-guessed the selection, fought it until it was obvious that the Goddess would accept no other woman to guard the Mound’s greatest secret.
She tried to use her inner sight and reached for Iris along the web. The women who served the Mound of Gaia were bound to one another by threads of spirit with Vera at the epicenter. The strand of the web that reached from Vera’s heart to Iris was slack and when she tried to trace it back to Iris she was struck by a wave of nausea.
“What about her, is she ill?” Vera ground out.
By the time that Vera and Sam returned home, Evander had packed a small bag for each of them. He sat by the window in their bedroom, his expression grim. Vera’s heart clenched, but she forced back the surge of panic that threatened to overwhelm her. There will be time to mourn later if it comes to that, she thought.
“We need – ” she started to speak, but her stomach rebelled. She clamped her lips closed and breathed through her nose until she could start again, “Are we ready to travel?”
“Can you feel her?” Evander asked, his voice devoid of the joyous rumble that made Vera’s knees weak with longing. She shook her head and his expression fell, “Sofia said no one can feel her in the web. She’s just gone.”
“How is that even possible? What about the Vault? Is it still sealed?” Each question Sam asked was graver than the last.
“Sam,” Vera snapped, silencing her Familiar. His panic was justified, but frustration bubbled in her gut nonetheless. The Vault of Sorrow held one of the few objects that could destroy both the uninitiated world and the Beyond. She shut her eyes and reached for Iris along the web again and found emptiness. “We can’t know anything until we get to the Temple.”
She spun on her heel and ascended the stairs to the third floor. Sam and Evander followed without a word. The third floor was a wide, empty space lit by a single bulb that hung from the rafters. The naked light chased the darkness into the corners and illuminated a golden circle painted on the floor. The three stepped inside the circle together. Vera lifted her hands and split the seam that separated the uninitiated world from the Passage they would travel into the Beyond.