Séraphin’s Last Stand, a Daggers of Ariyon short story. Available to all patrons from $1 and up!
While on a covert mission to break up a pirate haven Séraphin encounters someone who makes him rethink his loyalty to a government that would imprison or kill him if it knew his secret.
He straightened, turned to leave the dock only to spot a large figure coming down the steps, backlit by the street lamps. He tensed and then forced himself to relax as he recognized the dockworker from the pub.
“Hey boyo. Your friend said you weren’t in a mood for company, but I’m willing to test that.” He reached Séraphin and held out one of the two mugs he held.
Séraphin peered up at him but couldn’t sense any duplicity about the gesture. He took the mug and gave it a sniff.
“Aye, but not the floor rot you had before. This is Madame Tanner’s best ale. Get you on, drink up.”
“Is there something you want?”
The hearty laugh shocked him. “You’re Galien alright. Just drink boyo. Can’t have you leaving here thinking we don’t know anything about ale.”
Something still felt off to Séraphin but he did as asked. The ale was much better, no harsh bitter aftertaste, but smooth and heady.
“That is better.”
“Told ya dinn’t I?” The words were spoken in a low growl that sent a shiver down Séraphin’s spine. A voice alone shouldn’t have that kind of affect.
“You did.” Séraphin kept his voice level, non-committal. He watched the man out of the corner of his eye as he finished his mug. He already felt warmer from the effects of the alcohol. Time to be going.
“What do I owe you?” Séraphin started to hand over the mug and found the man much closer than he’d realized.
“Owe me? Nothing. Jus’ showing you the hospitality that Croixerr has to offer.”
Séraphin snorted. “Liar.”
Another deep laugh. “You doubt me? Maybe you need something else?”
“Sleep. I have a boat to catch tomorrow. Thank you.”
A large hand closed around his forearm and he immediately shifted into a defensive stance ready to break the hold if he needed to.
“How long’s it been?” The soft question took him by surprise.
The man raised his eyebrows and gestured at Séraphin with his free hand. “Galey don’t take kindly to people like us.”
Séraphin drew in a sharp breath and managed to grate out, “How did you know?”
“I’m not blind to a mirror and the look you gave me … mmhmm, I know that look.”
“Do you know this one?” Séraphin knew he could stare down the worst of the worst. But in the soft lamplight there was only amusement and interest in the man’s eyes. No horror. No revulsion. No pity.
“Aye,” The word lingered between them and to his chagrin Séraphin realized his hands trembled. The man took a step closer, “That’s the look of a desperate man.”
“I am not desperate.” It barely came out as a whisper, the words strangled by the pressure in his chest. He blinked rapidly startled by the rough fingers running along his jaw.
Get. In. Control.
The kiss stole his breath, weakened his knees and his resolve. It had been so long. So long since anyone had wanted him, not just his skill with a blade. You can’t do this, he told himself even as he returned the kiss. Why not? Another voice argued. You’re not in Galey. No one will ever know.
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