I got on a roll tonight. When you read this snippet, you’ll understand why. After 70K+ of Dancing the Blades through dreams and plots, Shannari and Mykal finally recognized each other and stood face to face.
Part 2 Session: 2,570
NaNo Total: 73,024
Snippet: Longer, but you’ll see why.
“What of us, Your Majesty?”
Slowly, she turned back to the waiting tals. She quickly glanced at each, unwilling to scrutinize them openly, but she still couldn’t tell one from another. Sandalwood smelled stronger, but it came from all three. He must be deliberately sharing his scent with the others to mask his presence.
Which irritated her to no end. She’d hinted that she could smell him all the way from Shanhasson. Why did it matter if she knew which tal was the one from her Dreams? Did he not hold her bond? Had he not won her blood? Eyes narrowed, she tugged on that black bond in her mind, willing him to betray himself with a sound, a move, but they all three stood silent and proud.
Her gaze lingered on the last warrior. His heavy cloak had fallen about his shoulders, revealing loose hair as black as hers, gleaming with oil in the sunlight. The other tals wore their hair tightly pulled back from their faces in one long braid down their backs. His hair blended with the cape so that she couldn’t tell how long it was exactly, but it looked incredibly soft and shiny. If it smelled like sandalwood…
Unconsciously, she took a step closer. Dharman bumped into her slightly, warning her back, breaking the moment of attraction. Behind her, Sal muttered beneath his breath, “It’s always the hair. I wonder if she’d love me as much if I shaved mine off.”
“You’re welcome to try,” she growled.
Sal laughed and gave a little toss of his head so his blood-auburn hair tumbled over her shoulder.
She fisted her hand in that heavy silk and tugged firmly, drawing a low rumble from him. “You know I’d love you bald, but I’d much rather have your hair wrapped around me at night, if only to annoy Dharman.”
Despite their teasing, the tal didn’t miss that moment of intensity, and his eyes widened slightly. She even thought they lightened a moment, a cast of silver, perhaps? She didn’t dare study him openly, and at her next glance, his eyes were just as dark as the others’. For whatever reason, the Black Dragon wished to remain hidden among his comrades, so she’d play along. For now.
“One of you,” she stared at each tal a moment, letting him feel the pulse of holy water in her gaze, “already bears my bond. One of you already wears my mark in his flesh. One of you is already bound to me heart and soul. If you three and your ravs wish to accompany me to the Palace, I’ll allow it, but no other Keldari may enter the Shining Walls. To cross the Gate without my permission will bring your death.”
“And the challenge?” The middle tal smiled so widely his face must hurt. “Will you allow us to join the Dance?”
“The only tal I’ll discuss challenge with is the one who bears my mark.” Her lips curved in a fierce smile just as wide. “He’d better have a care that my Blood don’t carve that mark from his flesh when he approaches me.”
A thought occurred to her that turned her smile of dominance into something closer to seduction, which shook the wide smile off the middle tal’s face. Indeed, all three stiffened expectantly.
This Black held her bond. So she would use it against him.
The black serpent in her mind coiled tighter and hissed warningly.
She lowered her lashes, turning her head slightly away from them, while she remembered the spicy taste of his blood, his thigh gripped in her jaws, the steel of his erection brushing her cheek, the pleasure that had poured through her from his blood alone. She ached to taste him again.
The tal with the incredible hair shivered, the black cloak whispering against the grass, betraying his movement.
“The hair,” Sal repeated, shaking his head.
“And the blood.” Dharman stared at the savage, his muscles straining, his stance widening in aggression. “Do you desire him now, na’lanna, or later?”
“Later,” she said, shrugging casually, and turned her back on them all. She even managed to smile at Varne, which made the glowering warrior stumble a step. “Or perhaps not at all.”
She started back toward Shanhasson, dismissing the Keldari entirely. A scuffle behind her accompanied a rush of determination through the Black Dragon’s bond. He surged toward her, ignoring the rahkes flashing at him, the shouted warning from the Sha’Kae al’Dan, and the grim fury of her Blood. She felt each rahke take a piece of him but he refused to stop, and her Blood knew her heart.
They would not kill him, not unless she wished it, and Lady help her, she didn’t wish him dead.
Shannari didn’t even turn around, but when his hand landed on her shoulder, she whipped the white rahke back into his groin. Panting, he pressed against her back despite the blade she held. She was fully prepared to gut him as she’d done to Theo. The tal’s scent rolled over her, burning sandalwood and blowing desert sands, his hair heavy and soft with oil.
“Or perhaps now,” he whispered against her cheek.
Ever so slowly, she turned her face around toward his, shifting enough to look him in the eye. “What is your name?” she asked, using the rahke to punctuate her threat.
“Mykal,” she whispered, letting his name roll on her tongue like fine wine. “If you come with me, I’m going to ask my Blood to pin you flat on your back with their rahkes so I may wallow in your blood and taste every wound we’ve given you.”
His eyes bled silver, his dragon peeking out from behind his dark desert eyes. “Every wound?”
She nodded slowly. Lady above, her mouth watered at the thought.
“My heart beats for you, brightheart.” He pushed harder on her rahke until the blade broke his skin. His breath sighed out against her lips. “Do as you will with me.”