Story Preview: Part 2 of Flower of Lust

The Flower of Lust: Part Two
A Smuthunter Story

          Nathaniel slept.

He had received the first cut of meat and had been celebrated for the great success of his first lone hunt. he had eaten with his family and neighbors, and then had fallen into a deep slumber. There he stayed for several days, and none close to him were worried or concerned.

The men knew the burden of what he’d done, and how far he had carried the carcass, but that was not the cause of their passive acceptance.

There was a whisper in the minds of all who shared in the feast, and who enjoyed the bounty in the days that followed, a calming sensation that denied them worries and cares, even for their sleeping hunter.

When he did awaken it was to the knowledge that he had brought a darkness into his own home, one that had infected a neighbor and two cousins, both roughly his own age. He knew, when he found that they were gone, that they would not be seen again and he understood that it was his fault.

More so, he knew it was her doing.

On that first day he was still too weak to do anything save eat and then rest more. He was drained of something from deep inside of him that he never knew, but he did know he didn’t have a taste for the meat that had cost him so dearly.

On the second day, when he rose, he felt his strength come again to him, full and certain. Yet, when he tried to speak of what had befallen him, his voice escaped him and his mind became clouded. It was just as much that he couldn’t speak as his thoughts would not let him form the words at all.

He tried and tried, even attempting to say the words aloud to himself in private, but sharing the truth was beyond his control now.

So, with all manner of fear, he came to know that he would have to act alone. She had preyed on his weakness, and Nathaniel would not let her ill deeds go unpunished.

Even as a part of himself was gripped with fear, a terror that he would again succumb to her, he felt also a longing to face her again.

It was, he told himself, a symbol of her power over him and not his true desire, but his loins still throbbed the same nonetheless. There too in this maelstrom entered his rage and his guilt, and both were simpler than fear or lust, and they inspired in him a cunning Nathaniel had yet to know he had.

She was a monster of the Elder Wood, and as was true of all monsters she was little more than an animal and lacked the cunning of his people. It was the lesson of all the stories of the land, only human cunning and ingenuity could be relied upon to unseat the supernatural strengths of beasts like her.

So, he thought long on her weapons and her advantages.

Her pollen and her fragrance had led him to her and left him near defenseless before their battle had begun. So, he knew that a wet cloth around the nose and mouth, one mixed with wine or another fragrant scent would keep him from breathing in her scent in all its forms.

Her body, the way she moved and the shape of her, had worked in tandem with the intoxicating aroma and had entranced him. He didn’t think this was a matter of chance, he knew that birds and bugs were drawn to the color and shape of flowers as well as their scent, and he knew that he had been drawn to her breasts like a moth to a flame.

It would be hard to kill her without looking at her, but fortune was with him.

If he came upon her, when he came upon her, he would loose as many arrows as it took to vanquish her and he would keep his eye disciplined. He would, he hoped, be aided by the snow visor one of his uncles had brought back after a modestly successful expedition in the far north.

The visor was a thin piece of wood worn across the eyes with a single narrow slit cut into it. It would block the glare of the sun, so his uncle had told him, both from the sky and from its reflection on the snow. It seemed in many ways like horse blinders and that was how Nathaniel planned to use them.

He sought out no armor and saw no need for weapons more malicious than his long hunting knife and his bow. A boar spear or a wood cutting axe which would be the best he could find, he felt, would serve him no better.

He had hoped to arm himself another way, to take some wisdom with him or find some weakness in the stories and lore of his people. But, as he could not speak of her, he could not ask his questions in any way.

Truthfully, this fed his fear and made him doubt if when the time came he would have the will to do the deed, or if she had en-spelled his hand as she had his tongue.

But his cunning told him the answer was no. Why could he arm himself against her, why could he guard himself from her wiles and her weapons if she had bound his hand in such a way?

Still, courage would have to serve above all in the face of such heavy fears, and as he stepped out into the woods once more he knew he was going not to hunt but to battle.

The sun was lower in the sky than on his first venture, but his feet followed the same trail. The Elder Wood felt different though, as though it was embracing him in a way he had never known. The sounds of the forest were more clear, his ears and eyes more keen to the subtle shifts of the branches and the leaves.

Animals seemed to have lost their natural fear of him as well, birds did not fly before his passing and often his eye rested on game he longed to bring down and bring home. It was as certain a temptation as anything else, but it served only to steel his heart and lend more resolve to his purpose.

Nathaniel found that he knew the way by heart, as though he were walking home down a well-trod path. When he caught her scent, when the fragrant touch of her will blossomed in the air, he found himself smiling.

It was not for any deep longing, though her fragrance did inspire a palpable lust in him, it was in defiance of his first test. He wore a full wineskin slung over his shoulder, heavily watered down but still potent when close to the nose.

As the air grew sweeter, as he felt his blood began to grow hot and his senses started to grow a touch softer, he damped a cloth and bound it around his mouth and nose.

The change was instant and his mind became cold and clear.

It was not long before he knew himself to be at the edge of the clearing, and there he pulled down his wooden visor and readied his first arrow. His step was slow and measured as he came to the edge of her domain.

The singularly large flower that surrounded her, that was also her lower half, was closed, and again he watched in disbelief as its petals began to unfold.

They had changed color in the handful of days since last he stood in her presence. They had gone from white to blue, pale as the clear sky in winter, and as the sun shone down, he looked up and saw that here the sun would always shine in its journey across the sky.

As she unfolded and exposed herself before him again, he shouted with every ounce of purpose and looked only to her face, pleased that the visor did blind him to her most delightful weapons.

“Where are they creature, what have you done with my people!” He did not wait for a response, instead his arrow past her head close enough to blow her violet tresses away from her cheek.

He saw her smile, and he loathed her for it. The curve of her full lips and the softness of her eyes were infuriating. Why was she so fetching, why was something so fair to look upon so foul to behold.

“They are gone Nathanial, they serve now in their own way just as you do. Be happy for them, they go on to do a far greater thing than many men shall ever do in their mortal lives. Even you slaying me and breaking my spell over you shall be a small thing to their greater deeds. Though what spell I’ve woven over you, you truly have little idea of.”

He watched her as she spoke, and saw a fine golden dust fill the air from her outstretched hands. He saw as well that she was concerned. She did stretch herself up towards the sun, her body moving with languid and sensual grace, but he did not break his gaze from her eyes.

There, in the depths of her eyes, bewitching as they seemed to glow with all the softest colors of autumn, then of the vibrant bloom of spring flowers, he saw her doubts. It was becoming a struggle to look away from them, but in his brief thrall he knew she did not have the hold on him she desired.

“So they are dead, or as good as dead aren’t they monster.” He blinked and drew a perfect bead on her forehead. At this distance his arrow would pierce her right between those ever shifting eyes.

“Are you dead Nathaniel or are you simply bound to a new life of greater service to me?”

Finally, he realized she saw him, and her eyes became as they were when first he saw her.

But, had he stepped out of cover or were hey eyes bound to different rules than his own? He cared not, and as she spoke he thought little of why he didn’t let loose and finish his task.

She was rooted to the spot, he was protected from her charms, he would have his words with the monster that had despoiled him.

“I am no thrall to you beast, I am your reckoning.” He felt the tension of his draw.

“Your heart’s desire is not in your shot Nathaniel, you desire to miss me and you will. You will not harm me Nathaniel, you haven’t the will, not truly.”

He knew the strength in his bow. He let loose his vengeance.

What a cliffhanger!
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