The Gates of Infinity
Genre: Erotic Pirate Fantasy (novella)
THE GATES OF INFINITY lead to a different world where passion and deception may yet destroy two universes about to collide. Will time continue to turn upon itself, or will the mirror of our world open the gate and return stranded pirates and their sorcerous consorts to familiar shores?
The story poem that begins the novella:
ocean kissed sands wink diamonds into the night
the whisper of waves caresses nerves taut with panic
the sea-foam surf is a balm to troubled spirits
and the abyss of down-soft waters beckons as a lover’s embrace
out there, somewhere, is a ship
using stars to guide a course to infinity
eternity, too, has a path to follow
and a destiny to fulfill
standing on the rooftop of a once-thriving inn
I wonder at the fate that pulls me ever closer to death
isolation has become a way of life, my existence
against all my efforts to turn away from the void before me
the sea calls to me, pulls at my soul with seductive purpose
I hear voices carried on the misted winds
promises that I can’t quite define
but which haunt my heart and inflict greater agonies
I turn away to pursue the sandman of my dreams
despite the knowledge that there will be no respite there
no escape from transient demons and specters
no shelter in the arms of Morpheus
eyes close and breaths lengthen and deepen
then he comes to me, the devil who torments my being
with sensuous murmurs and erotic promises
he shows me what my life is without, what I deny within myself
the dream begins.....
the gentle sway of the ship is the rhythm of passion and sex
the lap of waves the stroke of a lover’s tongue over a swell of quivering flesh
the surge of the tide is his possession of my eager body
the fall befits our writhing ascent into heaven
who are you? I ask in mystified wonder
am I afraid of his answer, or anticipating it?
he laughs, a hearty, faintly mocking reverberation of humor
and my blood runs cold, then hot with rage
he is magnificent, this proud pirate who steals
with the exquisite skill of a thieving seducer claiming his virgin prize
dark hair streams and smoky eyes gleam with anticipation
and this is what I have been born to desire?
lover.... friend.... enemy.... destiny....
his hands have taught me love and pain
his heart has scarred me with hatred and unbearable pleasure
mentor.... destroyer.... confidant.... father....
you drove me to his arms, intent on betrayal
and in the end it was I who was betrayed, by myself
he touched me, and I was whole in his hands,
balanced on the edge of discovery and despair
I went willingly to his bed and his heart
asked desperately to remain prisoner to his destiny
he kissed me, a soft caress that vowed so much more would follow
and I stood before him, naked in all ways, desiring
things I could not yet name, but knew within me
and he held me with his gaze, searching for deceit, finding only trust
his hands stripped me of everything, while giving everything back
his mouth, soft, wet, suckling at my breast, gave me the taste of euphoria
hot, rigid velvet sheathed within my clutching body tortured me with ecstasy
and his possession defined my being and made me what I am
sorceress.... companion.... seer.... hope....
I am Mahjrah’s mate, and his life is mine, as mine is his
though we both have often wished it were not so
and I have betrayed my beloved captain.....
comrade.... strength.... protector.... deception....
what we did was wrong, yet it, too, was predestined in so many ways
Mahjrah made you my champion, and that story is as old as time itself
and now I stand before him again, waiting and afraid
trembling with need and terror, and reawakened love
yes, I love you, Mahjrah, always and only you
and somewhere inside you, I feel the poison of my treachery
you are uncertain, even as you stand solid and ever strong
the serpent of doubt and suspicion has bitten deep
that venom mingles with the heart’s blood of our bond
and I do not know which will emerge as the stronger power
still, you have taken me again, in passion and welcome
my body has been reclaimed, even as my spirit hides in shame
try as I may, I cannot forget the rapture that you gave me
and all I am able to offer you now is the frightened shell I have become
you deserve far better, you have asked for little,
given everything without question or price
until now, when a challenge far greater than others removes our choices
now you charge me with the task of finding our home
I have always thought my home was in your eyes
but the romanticism of that whimsy is a joke in the face of this harsh reality
you demand a gateway to another life
and I must find a way to obey this command
close enough to touch, to feel....
the parallel of this prison in which we have been trapped.....
Part Two: a short scene...
The moon shone silver across the restless waters of the cove, casting spectral shadows of ice into the endless ripples of the current. Sitting alone on the shore, Veranna stared at the magical night-scape and felt despair engulf her anew. They’d been stranded for eternal weeks, and no member of the crew looked upon her with warmth or friendliness now. Except the Captain, Mahjrah’s eyes held unflinching kindness and undeniable love. Her salvation, she knew.
She shifted her line of vision and shivered when her eyes came into contact with the repaired ship anchored in the small harbor. The mast stretched upward and the rigging stood starkly outlined, a wraith-like silhouette against the glowing orb sweeping steadily across the sky. The Scarab waited with patience her crew did not possess. Waited for her to summon knowledge and power she no longer controlled.
“Mahjrah’s looking for you.”
Startled, Veranna turned, and sighed inwardly at the cool masque of Doren’s indifference.
“I’m afraid, Doren,” she murmured without conscious thought.
Anger sparked in his eyes and she flinched. His expression softened with regret an instant later and he sat next to her.
“We’re all afraid, Veri,” he confessed with clear reluctance.
“I can’t imagine you, or Ehtionne, feeling fear.” She smiled in spite of herself.
“Everyone’s afraid of something, Veranna,” he chided. “Even Mahjrah.”
“You say that as if I should know your fear, but not his.”
“You’ve seen my fear, Veri,” he muttered, voice tinged with bitterness. “Even if you don’t remember it just now.”
He added the last with self-deprecating irony, and she felt a tremor begin deep within her. It burned through her with shocking speed, leaving her quivering against all she didn’t know.
“What is he searching for that I am supposed to know about?”
“Ask him,” Doren told her candidly. “Maybe that’s what he wants to talk to you about now?”
Suspicion flared in her dark eyes and he laughed at her.
“He doesn’t tell me what he wants from you, Veranna,” he said with a hint of derision.
“I suppose he doesn’t really have to, does he?” she retorted and rose. “He wants the same thing the rest of you want, the impossible.” She strode away, angered beyond reason by the exchange. She was still scowling when she found Mahjrah further down the shore.
The tall captain watched her approach, his expression guarded, but curious.
“You look as if you wish to kill someone, lady,” he remarked.
“Perhaps I do,” she replied, looking past his shoulder to the men who were standing a short distance from them. “What is it you want, Mahjrah?” she asked, suddenly weary.
“Darius is near, Veranna,” he said quietly, very serious now. “We need an escape from this place before Isiress pinpoints our location.”
“Isiress can control her magic, Ehtionne,” Veranna reminded him, uncomfortably aware of the many ears listening to their words. “I have no such strength. You ask what I cannot give.”
Dark eyes glittered like onyx in the flickering flames of the torches that had been lit. Veranna held her breath, waiting for anger, hoping desperately for understanding.
Slowly, Mahjrah nodded. He went to take her by the elbow, then led her toward the small circle of huts they’d erected for the duration of their stay on the isle. When they reached the relative privacy of their quarters, he sat her down and knelt before her.
“I know you can defeat this sorceress who guards The Pharaoh’s Ghost,” he began firmly, but gently. “But you must know it, too, my lady,” he continued, tone pitched to a sensual purr of sound. “You possess great power and knowledge, Veranna, and we need both while we are so vulnerable.”
“I’ve been trying, Mahjrah,” she assured him. “I want to help you!”
He considered her words with a seriousness that inexorably woke fear as she waited for him to voice whatever dark thoughts were creating such fierceness in his handsome features. When his low, gravel-textured voice finally stirred the air between them, she trembled.
“We need to take a great risk, love,” he began ominously. “One that may be our last hope of recovering your lost memory.” Dark eyes clashed as he forced her to meet his stare. “Do you trust our bonds, Veranna?”
It seemed a totally inappropriate question, and that, too, frightened her for eternal seconds as he awaited her reply. Unable to form the words, she nodded mutely, the response an intuitive answer born in her heart. He accepted her nod after only a second’s hesitation, then rose and left. A moment later, she heard his strong voice shouting for Doren. Hugging herself tightly, she listened as Mahjrah ordered his mate to bring Veranna’s trunk from the ship. When he re-entered the hut again short minutes later, Mahjrah carried a silver bowl etched with magical rhunes and filled with ashes. Behind him, Gianni came in with hands full of the mystical candles. He put them next to the bowl that Mahjrah had placed in the center of the hut’s rough floor, then he left them without a word.
“Tell me what you remember,” Mahjrah ordered.
“Place the candles that contain sky, earth and fire in a circle around us,” she replied without thought. His smile was an encouragement she responded to, and she continued quickly, lest she lose the precious strand of knowledge. “Strength, divination, and earth power.”
Mahjrah did as she requested, and by the time he was done, Doren and Marcello had retrieved the heavy case that had a permanent place beneath the captain’s bunk. Doren looked Veranna, his doubt clear, but he held his silence. Moments later, the captain and his lover were alone again.
“Choose your magic, lady,” he said and indicated the case that stood inside the doorway. “I fear that we have little time.”
Trusting to instinct once again, Veranna rose and went to the case. She opened it, and inhaled the enticing aroma of spices and herbs, and the tingle of mystical power that emanated from things hidden in the lowest levels of the case. As before, music was an undercurrent that guided her, attuned her to the very earth on which she stood. She lifted the upper tray of items and looked into the more powerful objects held in the chest. Mahjrah’s hand reached past hers, and he retrieved a key from the corner, a key that was gold on one side, and silver on the other, perfectly melded together, each side carrying the symbols that were on the coins contained in the chest they guarded. The key dangled from a cord made of strands of hair, hers and his, entwined with ribbons of blue and ebony, the colors of their eyes; he slipped it over her head and smiled when it came to rest just above the shadow between her breasts.
“Aphrodeesia enchantrae,” he whispered roughly, his hands gliding over her back, before he moved to stand behind her and cup full breasts as he began to nuzzle her neck.
Shaking with another layer of emotion now, Veranna reached for the requested amalgam. She sucked in a rasp of air when the pressure of his hands increased and his sure fingers teased already straining nipples to greater sensitivity. Guided by instinct, she let the powder fall into the silver bowl, mingling with the ashes that would stir to life and reawaken her memories. The music that symbolized her power began to rise and find voice inside her.