To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. The story continues below. *** After Orchid’s vines shaped themselves into the appropriate forms, the queen and Sabine sat across from one another at a small
To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. The story continues below.
After Orchid’s vines shaped themselves into the appropriate forms, the queen and Sabine sat across from one another at a small table. With a thrust, Orchid buried the blade of the athame into the tabletop, and a pair of mushroom-shaped steins materialized between them, along with one of the giant flower platform’s stigma. With a squeeze on the stigma, Orchid filled one stein with nectar and shoved it toward Sabine. “First to vomit, fall unconscious, slip from her seat, or any combination of the three is the loser. Cheers, child.”
Sabine accepted the glass and held the contents to her nose. Even the smell was too cloyingly sweet for her liking. With a pout on her face, she likewise raised and said, “Cheers.” The mercenary could recall a time when drinking something sugary and thick as honey would have been fun, but she hadn’t been six years old in many, many years.
All the while Deacon Struct continued to look nervously back and forth between the two women and the six children he still had to ritualistically sacrifice. “My lady, is this really the best—”
Orchid slammed down her empty stein with a smirk. “Peace, holy man. We must go round by round until one of us can drink no more. It is the custom.” She flashed him a glare and pointed to her blemishes. “And I cannot afford to break custom any further.”
The thick, saccharine nectar went down far slower for Sabine. But with a scowl on her face, she eventually slammed down the stein and wiped a drop from the corner of her mouth. “Another.” Then, between grit teeth she asked, “Any tips?”
Your choice of competition was ideal, but her fae liver is still probably stronger than your mortal one, Dahkhal said. The more faux pas you can make her commit, the more her powers will lessen.
Both glasses were refilled, and each woman went to draining them again. Between two of her intakes, Sabine said, “Someone as beautiful as you must have sought out truly attractive men to father her sacrifices.”
“Ha!” Orchid slammed down her again-empty stein. “You should have seen them, drooling pig-men, every one—hic—every one of them.”
Clever girl, force her to lie about their looks or speak ill of the dead.
Sabine lagged, but eventually she too lowered an empty glass. Orchid chortled, and as she did the entire enormous flower shook to and fro. And, for just an instant, the athame stuck into the table was within grabbing distance for Sabine. “That’s two down already! You’ve got a lot of spunk for a mortal—where are you from, girl? Maybe you’re one of mine after all.”
“You ever—” Sabine turned her head and belched. “You ever screw around with the king of Serekson?”
“Ha, did your mummy say you were one of Erik’s girl bastards?” Orchid refilled the glasses and passed one to Sabine.
The contest continued like this through third, fourth, and even fifth rounds. Now and again, Sabine cast a glance toward Deacon Struct. His tongue remained held, but he watched the battle of wills with nervous impatience. Whenever Orchid let out another excitable burst, the flower tower shook with her amusement. But occasionally, between those undulations, came others that, somehow, did not possess her same joviality. The deacon, it was clear to Sabine, was not the only one impatiently waiting for the game to end.
As Sabine slowly but steadfastly drained her sixth stein, confused, intoxicated stress began to mar Orchid’s face. With a drunken sputter she said, “You—you can’t just drink all that! No mere mortal can drink all that—”
Sick and bloated from all the thick drink, Sabine nonetheless laid down her empty glass and slurred, “Welp, my name—uh—my name’s not Mere. See? That’s—that’s a horse.” She paused to consider her statement, then pointed at Orchid. “In fact, you’re a horse. A damned cheating horse.”
Take it down, Dahkhal said. You’re losing the narrative—
“Shut up, jelly brain.” Sabine shook her left hand limply. “The horse is gonna talk.”
“You dare?” Orchid swept her stein off the table and stood, her face red with drunken fury. “I’m—I’m no cheat—you should be dead by now!”
“Go home, lady, you’re hammered.”
The vines around the platform wriggled and writhed toward Sabine, but all were forced to stop short. “This is my home, you’re the one invading it!”
“Hammered like that Druid—hic—or Mystic—or whatever he was.”
“You worm!” In her fury, Orchid grabbed hold of the table and flipped it right in the mercenary’s direction.
At the same time as it slammed against the floor, there came another of the malicious rumbles. And in it came almost the suggestion of words. Just one phrase, long and drawn out: BIG… HUNGRY.
Struct’s eyes went wide as he looked toward Orchid. “My lady—the Indolent One—we must make our offering!”
The queen whipped toward him and again her vines seemed desperate to lash out. “This is all your fault, old man. You fell for the old Will Comb line, oldest trick in the book!”
“Yeah!” Sabine raised her stein. “You tell him lady—”
She groaned. “Wha-aaaat?”
The knife, you drunken mule, now’s your chance, grab the knife!
Sabine looked toward the athame still stuck in the table. Through the drunken haze her mind slowly trekked as she tried to recall why this was important. But, as it did, she reached forward and yanked the blade out from the overturned table. “Oh. Right.”
Had Struct and his god not drawn Orchid’s fury, she would have still been watching Sabine. If she hadn’t been so drunk herself, she may have at least kept a few vines near the woman to trip her up. But as Orchid felt only able to fixate her rage in one place at a time, her back was turned when Sabine thrust the athame straight into it.
The fae queen screamed in pain as the knife cut straight through her flesh, and in an instant, lines of crimson red lit up all along her body.
“What?” She stared at her now shimmering skin. “Struct—what is this?”
The deacon, his face pale with horror, took a step back from her. “The athame was prepped for sacrifice, my lady.” He swallowed hard. “I’m—I’m so sorry.”
There came another great rumble of BIG HUNGRY as the air itself seemed torn asunder. A swirling vortex materialized behind Orchid, and a massive, three-clawed hand outstretched and grabbed the queen.
“No!” She kicked and screamed at the hand as it dragged her through the portal. “This wasn’t the deal—please—I was going to—”
She was cut off with an enormous crunch. For a few seconds, the whole of the Under-Where seemed to go silent.
Then the portal opened again, the massive claws fumbled about, and droned, MORE… MOOOOORE.
To Be Continued…