Read Command Online

Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #Fantasy, #Sci Fi, #erotic romance, #Dark Elves

Command (6 page)

BOOK: Command
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Thora took her baby back and inclined her head to Orriko before she turned and walked away.

Lilli looked up at Orriko. “What was that about?”

He took her in his arms, and they returned to her quarters where a black leather bundle awaited her. “Get dressed and find out.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

 

He had to help her, the convoluted mechanism for lacing the breast band was a little beyond her, as she had never seen that kind of construction before.

“Stand still and face the mirror. Watch.” Orriko tugged on a few straps, and her breasts suddenly went from flattened to supported and on display.

The crisscrossing of leather straps barely covered her nipples, but it was more circumspect than a lot of outfits she had worn when she was first barhopping as a young adult.

Lilli shifted until the bust band felt comfortable and the straps around her neck and shoulders were body temperature. The skirt looked to be easier to put on. “Why is this clothing so complicated?”

“It is showing respect to the dead. We are not in clothing that can be easily discarded and therefore giving respect to the one who has lost his body and life.”

“So, this is to keep folks from getting naked at the ceremony?” She tugged her boots away and shimmied her bodysuit off her hips and legs. The skirt was two long panels of leather and more intricate lacework covered the closure at her hips.

She almost had it in place when Orriko ceased his own preparations and straightened the weave with a few sharp tugs. The waist of the skirt flattened against her skin, and her pale flesh was peeping out through the strategic holes over her hips and just under her navel.

Orriko brought her a hairbrush. “Now, I need your help. I need a braid bound with strands of your hair.”

“Tradition is tradition and I will never pass up a chance to play with your hair.” She sat him down at the edge of the bed and untied the ponytail that he wore on a daily basis. She used the brush and stroked it through his hair, starting at the bottom and working her way up.

The feeling of the slippery white silken strands made her smile. It was like combing snow, something that she had not seen since she had left the Earth. When she first told Alvar of her fascination, he had laughed and given her free rein to play with his hair. Later, she learned that it was a gesture of complete trust and not something he had done before.

Orriko closed his eyes as she ran the brush over his scalp, and his breath shifted and deepened.

“Um, is this turning you on?” She whispered and followed it with a throaty chortle.

“Yes. My scalp is surprisingly attuned to your touch. You seem to be enjoying yourself.”

She laughed. “It reminds me of snow on the mountains. I miss being cold.”

She pressed a kiss to the crown of his head as she separated his locks into strands.

“I will see what I can do to bring you the cold weather that you wish for.”

She smiled sadly as she braided his hair into three braids, tying each with strands of her own hair. When she had three long braids, she wound them together into one last rope.

He turned his head and pulled the braid over his shoulder. “Very neatly done.”

“Thank you.” She went to her desk and removed an elastic. She bound her hair up in a ponytail on the top of her head, letting the hair cascade down her back. She swished it a few times. The tickling at the base of her spine made her smile.

“How is that?”

She turned to face him and pressed her lips together. She looked him over and stifled an admiring leer. His sleeveless leather tunic was engraved with silver glyphs and icons, his trousers had matching patterns marching down the outside of each leg and his boots were glossy.

His own gaze was going over her from head to toe. “We seem to be a study in contrasts.”

“Apparently. When does the ceremony start?”

Deep in the centre of the base, she heard a low, rumbling gong. He gave her a slow sad smile. “It is time to lay him to rest.”

She took his arm and he wrapped the other around her, taking them to the hall outside medical where a line of Ikanni waited to show their final respects.

Taking Orriko’s arm, she walked into the medical bay where Alvar’s death had sent her own life into uproar.

Alvar had been washed, was in formal leathers and was wrapped in a dark leather cloak. His braid was loose, and his hair was draped down his body, over the edge of the cloak.

Orvar was at his brother’s side. He shifted nervously when they entered, but he straightened in formality as they stood next to Alvar Lerock.

Orvar inclined his head politely. “Can you allow everyone here to hear the ceremony?”

Orriko stiffened, but Lilli held his arm and gave it a squeeze. “I can.”

The Heshi within her was far more comfortable than her halo. She used her implants to send a signal, broadcasting through the speakers in the base. The microphone was above the physician’s desk, and it had an excellent reach within the room. The entire base would hear what was said in the chamber.

Orvar began speaking of Alvar’s early years, but to Lillibeth’s surprise, he had not been there for most of it.

Alvar Lerock had been Bael of his people from birth. His Heshi had provided him with wisdom as well as power, and he had led his people to greatness. Orvar continued to speak about his brother, but there was an obvious distance in his speech.

When Orvar concluded his speech, another Ikanni stepped forward. The male spent a few minutes describing the skill of Alvar at dealing with the other clans on the surface before the speaker gave the floor to the next clan member.

Lillibeth held Orriko’s arm and felt the muscles clench as he listened to the descriptions of his father.

When the last of those who would speak faded back, Lillibeth stepped forward. “I am not sure whether this is appropriate or not, but I would like to share what I knew of Bael Alvar Lerock.”

She glanced between Orriko and Orvar, and both men shrugged.

“I met Alvar when he came to the base after we had been allowed to set this base here. In the time that the base was operational, we intercepted ninety-seven Raider communications leading to the survival of over forty million souls. Because of the advanced warning, the Alliance, via the Sector Guard, was able to get the personnel into position so that the defense was in the right place at the right time.

“Alvar always smiled when I told him that our presence was doing good, and he told me that change was not always welcome, but it did have the effect of forcing evolution. He taught me to play viikan, though I can’t keep my concentration that long. He told me I needed patience and I told him that he would outlive me and he could keep his comments to himself. He merely smiled.

“The moment when he told me he was dying, I felt like I had been struck with a hammer. In him, I was losing the only true friend I had on Ikanni. He had helped me gather plants for the greenhouse, and this year, I planned to introduce him to my favourite holiday. Now, that is gone, and I will carry the memory of him within me, that piece of his soul. I am better for having known him and poorer for his departure from the walking world.”

She stepped back and didn’t dash away the tears streaming down her cheeks.

Orvar dragged in a shaking breath and finally spoke. “As priest of the Heshi, I confirm that their ambassador to Alvar has dissipated in the walking world. It has earned its freedom and is on its way to the next life. We now have the body of Alvar left behind, his greater soul has gone on to the next world and the piece of him left behind has found hope for a new life in another generation.”

Orriko and four other men stepped forward, lifting him and placing him down in the hole prepared for him.

“As we love our lives, so we embrace our deaths. Free of our bodies, our souls can soar.” Orvar was speaking by rote.

As Alvar settled six feet deep, the men resumed their places next to the edge of the grave.

“And so the spark of new life destroys the traces of the old.”

Orriko took her hand, pulling her forward to extend her arm out over his father’s body. He placed his hand on hers and a warmth ran through her arm.

Her skin got hot and her palm itched. She clenched and released her fist, jumping as a spark flew from her hand to land on Alvar’s chest.

Orriko quickly pulled her back, tucking her against him as a wall of flame shot upward.

Lilli knew her eyes were as wide as they could be, but everyone else was solemn and treated the flame as expected. The grave was filled with glass, the rubble set to one side had found its way into the grave and was sealed with a completely seamless polish to the floor.

Orvar inclined his head. “We will leave you with your grief, but know that we are a community and you may call on us when you need us.”

Orvar stepped around the newly sealed grave and embraced Orriko. “Be strong and wise, Bael Lerock. Your people need you.”

To her surprise, Lilli was the next in the embrace. Orvar whispered, “Whatever you think, I loved him. Carry him carefully, our world can use more men like him.”

Orvar walked out, speaking with the waiting clan members as he walked through the hall.

Orriko whispered, “We will speak with all who wish it.”

She nodded. “Of course. I am at your side until you say otherwise.”

He smiled and pressed a kiss to her cheek, on top of the track of tears. “You have said enough for both of us.”

She gripped his arm and walked with him through the grieving population. It might be minutes or hours, but she was going to be at his side.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Ten

 

 

“What do you mean they are coming do declare war?” Lilli was braiding a halo to confine her hair, and she turned to stare at Orriko.

“It is tradition. There are nine clans here on Ikanni, and in order to exchange bloodlines, we must declare war or raid the others. Raiding leads to bad matches, so we engage in negotiations and call it war.” He slid two silver arm cuffs over his biceps and two thick bracelets on his wrists.

“Fascinating. What do I need to do?” He had asked her to come with him and that alone made her suspicious. He tended to simply grab her and transport her where he wanted her to go.

He grinned. In the last two hours, a large wardrobe had been moved into her quarters, and it had contained quite a few goodies. He opened it and withdrew a delicate piece of silk. “Wear this.”

He held up some silvery chains. “And this.”

The silk was a tabard. It hung to the floor in front and back. When she had it in place, he started to attach the chains. A short link on either side held the fabric together. He attached a chain so that it looped down across each shoulder, and he finished with three rows of chain over each thigh slit to keep the skirt from kicking open.

The weight of the thigh chains kept the silk in line, but the back was just on the line of decent.

He lifted a box out of the wardrobe and placed it on the bed. In just a few days, her Base Command quarters had gone from being hers to theirs. His clothing was sharing space in her closet, his spare boots were at the edge of the bed and his documents were on her desk.

He opened the box and held out a set of bands that matched his. “Wear these. They will mark you as Bael.”

“Why not? Whatever will cover more skin.” She wrinkled her nose as he slid the armbands into place and then snapped the bracelets on her wrists.

He also reached in and lifted a headband from the box. It was wrought silver with a rainbow of gemstones embedded in the design. “This was my mother’s.”

He set it on her head and held her face in his hands as he gave her a deep kiss. “You look wonderful.”

“I feel naked.”

“That too. They won’t be able to keep their concentration.” He laughed and wrapped his arms around her, telling her with his body that he was very pleased with her appearance. Her channel slicked and her clit throbbed and she shivered in his arms.

“I don’t think I will be able to keep my concentration.” Her words were muttered as they transported out of the base and onto the mud flats where the meeting was going to be held.

A white silk pavilion was already in place. Carpets and cushions were laid out in an arrangement designed to make all equal.

Ythrin appeared next to them, his data pad ready to record the details of the meeting.

“Hello, Ythrin.”

“Bael Hislar, you look…” His gaze was running over her from head to toe and back again.

She snickered. “Stop that, Ythrin. You will burn your retinas out.”

He blinked and straightened. “I apologise, Bael Hislar. I didn’t realize you could look so elegant with so little fabric…I mean effort.”

Orriko was shaking slightly with amusement, and Lilli wanted to smack him.

At the appointed time, eight other groups of dark elves surrounded the pavilion, and on some unspoken trigger, they all walked forward to take a seat.

BOOK: Command
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