Sunday, March 17, 2013

First Chapters: The Tower Lord's Guest by Ellie Moonwater

The Tower Lord’s Guest is the first novella in the erotic Tower Lord series. It features Samlah, a young woman with the ability to peer through stones and glass to other places and realms. Fleeing from the future her parents planned for her, she finds herself in the dark, dark woods. In one erotic adventure, she encounters trolls, satyrs, wood nymphs, dryads and the tower lord himself, but none of them satisfy. Her heart is set on Gallin, the golden-haired man of her dreams.

When Samlah escaped to the forest, she was captured by trolls. Escaping their claws, and other intentions, she fled even further beneath the trees, seeking a refuge from her past. What she found was the tower. Ruled by a mystery man who keeps himself apart from his guest, the tower turns from refuge to prison, but Samlah knows she cannot leave—not yet. She has to find the man of her dreams, and the tower lord is the only one who can help her.

The Tower Lord’s Guest is a sexually charged romp through an enchanted, if somewhat dark, forest, where randy dryads trap a royal hunting party, the scent of a woman can lure a satyr, and where trolls do all in their power to capture enough nymph and woman flesh to satisfy their desires. The tower, at least, offers some respite for a maiden who finds herself lost in the dark, dark woods.

The Tower Lord’s Guest is now available on Smashwords and Kindle, and will soon be available in paperback, as well as via Kobo, iTunes and Nook.

First Chapter:

Samlah watched the dryads cavorting in the glade. They played like children, despite their three hundred years—and what play it was!
I wish, she thought, as Amrae caught Callistamon around the waist and pulled her back towards the tree that was her home. I wish I had friends who would play like these. She heard Amrae giggle as Callistamon bent almost in half, and slipped her hand back between their legs. I wish…
Her thoughts were interrupted by the same sound that brought the third dryad out of her tree. Seven hundred years old was Tallakene, and more aloof and dignified than the other two nymphs put together, but Samlah suspected she had hidden depths.
Bronze-haired and amber-eyed, Tallakene possessed the narrow features associated with elves, and the supple greeny-bronze skin that marked her as not. She carried an air of lingering sadness, which remained even when the dryad seemed at her happiest. Samlah watched Tallakene slip into view, the dryad tilting her head to catch the next blast of the hunting horn. When it rang loud around them, Tallakene glanced at her sisters and smiled.
Amrae let go of Callistamon’s waist, and Callistamon straightened, letting her fingers trace the curve of her belly. Amrae’s hands came to rest on the other dryad’s shoulders, her skin silver-gray against Callistamon’s reddish tan. Their trees stood in silence as the dryads listened. Not even the wind dared to move their branches.
The hunters were out. Lords of noble blood, or—and Samlah licked her lips in anticipation of the thought—royalty come out to play. Whatever they were, they were bound to be easy to look at, protected from the rigors suffered by peasantry, and clean, scented only by sweet oil and a hard ride’s sweat.
As the sound of hoofbeats drew nearer, the nymphs slipped back into their trees. Samlah saw their faces peering through the bark. Amrae dwelt in a clump of silver-ash, Tallakene, an ageless oak, and Callistamon, the arms of a cedar. Part of a forest older than the one that now stood around them, the trees and their nymphs had survived an age of tumult and change, unscathed and undiscovered.
Samlah feared that, with the founding of a new kingdom around them, and their current promiscuous behavior, their discovery would not be long in coming.
The hounds appeared first, white and brown coats shimmering in the crystal’s depths, their yelps turning to silence as they darted into the clearing and abruptly stopped. This caused consternation in the horseman riding hard on their tails.
What the hounds were chasing, Samlah didn’t know. She had begun her scry as the sun rose and caught her crystal with its new-born rays. Whatever had passed through the clearing had done so in the dark of night, or shortly before the dawn. Its identity created a mystery that promised to be entertaining. In the meantime, though…
Samlah returned her attention to the scene playing out amidst the crystal’s spines. Where the dogs stopped and circled in confusion, horsemen now gathered. The hounds wound their way beneath the horses’ legs, whining anxiously as the horses snorted and trembled. All hesitated on the edge of the clearing, much to the puzzlement of the hunters.
“He had to have passed this way,” one shouted.
“But the dogs…” began another uncertainly.
“The dogs be damned!” interrupted his companion. “He went this way. I can see where his trail breaks the grass.” He gave the signal for the dogs to find the scent.
One of the hounds, a younger beast, began casting about and, in its excitement at finding the trail again, leapt into the clearing. It had barely nosed three feet in, before it yelped, tucked its tail between its legs and bolted back between the horses’ feet. In the ensuing havoc, the other dogs scattered, many following the young hound’s lead. By the time the shouting, cursing horsemen had their mounts back under control, there wasn’t a hound in sight.
For a long moment, the men sat there. Some absent-mindedly stroked their horses’ necks, others stared pensively at the clearing, and more than a few exchanged nervous glances as the animals’ twitchiness touched them with chilly apprehension. All waited for the lead huntsman to make a decision.
Samlah watched the trees. She had caught a flicker of movement from Tallakene’s oak. Showing more impatience than the younger dryads, Tallakene had risked a closer look at the men. Luckily for the dryad, the men were too busy dealing with their horses, or looking at each other to notice.
As the excitement died down, their leader glared at the clearing. With a sigh of impatience, he urged his mount forward and was nearly thrown when the beast refused. Angry, the nobleman drove his spurs into his horse’s sides. With a scream of fury, the beast reared. When its fore-hooves touched the ground again, it tucked its head and began to buck. The other huntsmen steered their horses away to give their leader room.
From the trees, Samlah saw the dryads inspecting the huntsmen. Tallakene, she knew, had already made her selection. Passing her hand over the crystal, Samlah, brought the leader into clearer view.
In spite of the fact that his features were contorted with the effort of staying on his horse, he was a handsome man. Although his face was touched by the sun, his skin held the healthy glow of youth. His hands, judging by the way they gripped the reins, would be strong and only a little calloused from sword play and riding. They would be softened by the oils he used. She imagined them gliding across her skin, leaving warmth trailing in their wake.
Samlah shook herself. This wasn’t the man of her dreams. The hunter wasn’t the one the crystal both promised and refused to show.
This huntsman’s hair was the color of coal, but Samlah dreamed of a lover crowned by hair the color of sun-ripened wheat. Her dream-lover plagued her visions with eyes the color of warm honey, skin like cream-tinged-gold, and the pale yellow of his hair. The image invaded her nights, but she couldn’t find him, no matter how long she scried during the day.
The scry shivered, as though the stone was a matt of leaf-blown leaves, and Samlah frowned. She was letting her dream man take her mind from the task at hand. This scry was her latest attempt to find him, and it had directed her to the glade. Until then, the dryads had merely been an amusing diversion—not to mention an educational one.
The things she hadn’t known about pleasuring herself now swirled through her mind, rising to her fingertips when needed. And how she needed. Since her seclusion, Samlah had seen no one, not even the creatures that were her guards. She knew they were there, but they moved in silence and invisibility, providing her with what she required for survival, and bringing her things like the crystal through which she scried.
Topaz, she’d asked for, expecting a gem cut and polished to a perfectly faceted oval. Instead, she’d received this thing, an amorphous blob of rock, from which the crystals sprouted in ungainly oblongs and unevenly-formed spheres. When she’d asked what it was, a note had accompanied her breakfast tray. The picture of her crystal and the words ‘rutilated topaz’ were almost as frustrating as its lack of beauty and form.
Still, it worked far better than anything she’d experienced, responding to her every whim when it came to focusing her scries. Rutilated it might be, but it did the task perfectly. It responded, now, to her wish for a bigger picture, and showed the hunters clustered together at the edge of the clearing, while keeping the dryads’ trees in view.
The men’s horses were tethered farther back, although the tension in their bodies had not eased. Tension was also present in the stance of each hunter.
“We should go on,” their dark-haired leader was insisting. “He can’t be far ahead.”
Samlah thought of the dryads’ play, and smiled. He was full of bluster, this one, and oh so very pretty. She wondered if he was the one Tallakene had chosen. She wondered if the dryads would take a man apiece, or settle for a man between them. Either would be very fun to watch.
Letting her gaze rove across the group, Samlah tried to guess which one had taken the older nymph’s fancy.
“Without the hounds, my lord…”
“Hang the hounds!” the younger man snapped. “You can track them, Beren. If I can see it now, you’ll be able to follow it for miles.”
“My lord…”
“Don’t tell me to be reasonable, Beren. I wasn’t reasonable before she disappeared. I’m far less reasonable now.”
There was an indistinct blur of words from the back of the group, and the men nearest the speaker laughed. When the nobleman swung towards them, the smiles faded from their faces.
“What was that?” he snapped, but silence answered and none of the men would look him in the eye.
“Well?” he demanded. “What was it?”
The men parted, and the fellow that had spoken raised his head. From the color staining his cheeks, Samlah knew he’d not meant his remark to draw the lordling’s attention. He didn’t shirk from revealing it now, though.
“I said, ‘We’d noticed,’ my lord.”
For a moment, the pair stood in frozen tableau. The speaker with his jaw set and his chin raised in defiance, and the nobleman looking at him as though stunned. They remained that way for several heartbeats until, with a bark of laughter, the nobleman broke the tension. His amusement was short-lived, and ended with a word of warning.
“Well, that would be the truth,” he said, “but don’t let it go to your head, Deben. King’s brat or no, your immunity extends just so far.”
Samlah knew, then, where Callistamon’s sights were set. The red-skinned dryad had always preferred men with a fast wit and ready tongue. Deben would be lucky to re-emerge from her tree before the year was out. And green-skinned Amrae would have her eye on the nobleman—she liked the arrogant, pushy ones; they were so much fun to break in.
Samlah sighed. That just left Tallakene’s choice; it was always hard to tell with her.
The huntsman, Beren, cleared his throat.
“My lord,” he began, and waited until the nobleman turned to face him. “My lord, the beasts are afraid of the clearing.”
“And your point is?” his lordship demanded.
“My point is that creatures often sense things we cannot. If they…”
Again ‘his lordship’ cut him short.
“You’re saying something lies wait for us? Bandits, perhaps?”
The men around him shifted uneasily.
He glanced from one face to the next, impatience and scorn, marring his gaze. Yes, he belonged to Amrae, alright.
“Well,” he snapped. “I’m waiting. What is it that has you all turned fae.”
Beren glanced towards the clearing, wariness in his gaze.
“My lord, you are a newcomer to this region. There are reasons the local men refused to accompany you into the forest. People disappear in here. Things come out. If the beasts won’t enter the clearing, then there is good reason, and we’d do well to heed their warning.”
The nobleman stared at him in disbelief.
“Peasants’ tales!” he mocked, and had the grace to look surprised at the anger that crossed Beren’s face. “Surely you aren’t prey to them also?”
Beren’s grip on his shoulder came as a shock, judging from the outrage that crossed the younger man’s face.
“My lord,” the huntsman said, his voice grating, “I have lived in this region since I was born. They aren’t peasant tales—at least, not in the way you imply. These people note what comes from, and goes into, this forest. They can also tell you just how many who visit it do not come out.”
“Then, why did you agree to accompany us on the hunt?” the nobleman asked, something of Beren’s seriousness affecting his mood.
“I agreed,” the huntsman said, “because I hoped to bring you all out safely. As it is, I have the feeling that more than a few of us won’t be returning this evening. Let us leave the clearing, and the forest, while we may.”
It was a good argument, a strong one, and Beren’s sincerity communicated itself in the vibrations of his tone. Samlah saw the nobleman’s agreement cross his face. It almost reached his lips, but Tallakene chose that time to act.
Her scream of simulated terror tore through the clearing to its edge, making the horses rear back.
“Banshee,” whispered one of the men, his face draining of blood. “We’re doomed.”
“No. Not a banshee,” said Beren, his head cocked to listen, and his face creased by worry.
“Please, no. I beg you,” Tallakene sobbed, then she shrieked again. “Nooo!”
It was enough for the lordling; he drew his sword and rushed into the clearing.
“My lord! No!” Beren cried. He hesitated, but Deben pushed past him after the noble.
“My lords,” Beren shouted, but his warning was too late.
The other huntsmen hurried after their leader and entered the dryad’s lair.
Beren hesitated only briefly, before plunging after them.
“My lords!” he cried.
Tallakene wailed once more, for effect, her cry bringing the men further into the dryads’ net, and then she giggled. She giggled again at the shocked expressions on their faces, appearing out of her tree just long enough to cast her spell.
From different sides of the clearing, Amrae and Callistamon did the same. Their gestures strengthened the enchantment, bringing the hunters to their knees, folding them prone, until they lay on their sides and slept. Looking away from them, Samlah noticed that the horses had broken free and fled.
“Now, here’s some real entertainment,” Tallakene purred, stepping out from the ancient oak and walking amongst the huntsmen’s prone forms
She eyed the fallen men with speculation. “There must be hours of pleasure in these. No!” she snapped, when Callistamon paused beside Beren. “That one is mine.”
She gave no explanation for her choice, but left the older man lying amongst his companions while she joined the other dryads in inspecting the rest. As she passed him, her mark bloomed on the side of his throat—a symbol of possession, and her lust.
Her choice puzzled Samlah. Why take the oldest? Even though Tallakene was the oldest of the dryads, it did not mean she took the oldest of their prey. That much had been obvious in Callistamon’s consideration of the older man. What was so special about Beren that he had drawn the attention of two of the nymphs?
Puzzling over this, Samlah looked at him more closely. His beard was a light brown-gold. Is he the one I seek? No, she realized, his hair was a darker gold, nowhere near the color of sun-whitened wheat. He was handsome, though, possessing the breadth of chest and shoulder of a younger man, but slightly padded. His waist still narrowed to lean hips and he wasn’t carrying a paunch. Samlah sighed; the thighs outlined by his close-fitting breeches hinted at hours spent roaming the land, and that indicated stamina—an idea she found particularly appealing in a man.
Tallakene obviously found it appealing also, for she crouched beside the older hunter and began to unbutton his shirt. Her long fingers made short work of the fastenings, and she peeled it open, as one might peel open the skin of a rabbit.
Dark bronze curls peeked out at her from the neckline of an under-tunic, and she sighed, leaning forward to inhale the huntsman’s scent, from navel to neckline. Her hand traced the contours of his chest and she looked down at him, possession in her gaze. Movement above her drew her lips into a snarl as she glanced up at Amrae.
“So, you have chosen?” the ash-skinned nymph asked, and Samlah saw some of Tallakene’s hostility subside.
“I have,” she purred, rubbing her hands over Beren’s chest. “Isn’t he beautiful?”
Amrae’s lips curled. “If you like them past their prime,” she said, and her tone was condescending.
The merriment of Tallakene’s laugh caught her by surprise. “He’s not past his prime,” Tallakene giggled. “He’s at its peak. You watch and, if you’re very lucky, I might agree to share him, but first,” she said, with a wicked smile, “I must ensnare him.” She bent her head, as though to kiss him, but Amrae interrupted.
“No,” she said. “Callistamon and I have made our choices, and we need to send the others far away, before any of us can enjoy our spoils.”
With a sigh, Tallakene stood, wiping her hands on her thighs. “Very well,” she said. “Who did you choose?”
Samlah looked where Amrae indicated, surprised she hadn’t noticed the activities of Tallakene’s sisters. While she had been observing the eldest nymph’s appreciation of the hunter, the younger dryads had been far from idle, and the means of their choosing less genteel.
The nobleman had indeed been Amrae’s first preference. He was lashed between two trees, his arms and legs spread wide. How she’d managed it on her own, could only be imagined, but vines were looped around the length of each forearm and halfway up each calf. It was a good thing he slept, Samlah thought. His body would be protesting that position later on. She also wondered why Amrae had left the young lord clothed.
And speaking of young lords…
Samlah now recognized Callistamon’s choice. The young man who had made the comment earlier, now lay, carefully hogtied, at the foot of the cedar. He wasn’t the one, Samlah sought, either, for his hair was as dark as that of the leader’s, and his skin almost mahogany in color. His face was lean and chiseled, but his lips looked made for kissing.
“I have taken two,” Amrae said. “The nobleman is made for breaking, but this one I chose for other reasons.”
Looking in the direction indicated by Amrae’s hand, Samlah saw why the nymph had chosen ‘this one’.
Amrae’s announcement brought sighs of appreciation from her sisters.
“Aren’t you lucky I share?” the silver nymph smiled. “We shall have such fun with this one.”
“And the rest?” Callistamon asked. “What shall we do with those?”
Yes, wondered Samlah. What will you do with those? I’m sure this tower has dungeons to spare, and I have more than a little time on my hands…
The nymphs could not afford to let the men wake in, or anywhere near, the clearing. The sounds of the dryads at play would carry, inviting more attention than the nymphs preferred, and they would not want the men to know where they dwelt once their natures were revealed. The knowledge would endanger their very existence.
It was easy to hold a dryad hostage to your will. Threaten her tree, and you threatened her life. A dryad could hide in foliage for days, but a tree did not move and could not fight back, unless awakened. Harm a tree, and you harmed the dryad living within.
Strip its bark from it, piece by piece, and you could flay a dryad without even touching her. Carve your name into its bark, and the name of her captor filleted its way across her skin. Set its leaves alight, and her hair began to smolder. The possibilities were endless. No, the dryads would go to many extremes to keep their home a secret.
Samlah leaned forward, glad, for once, of the distance that separated her from the nymphs. What they would do to her, if they knew how often she observed them, she didn’t like to think.
“Those?” smirked Amrae. “Well, we could transport them to the river bend for the nymphs to have their sport with, or dump them in front of Hergvard’s cave.” She noted the looks of disgust on her sisters’ faces, at mention of the troll’s name. “Oh, all right. We can sit them at the forest’s edge. Three or five days walk should see them home, if they survive the trip, and I know the pixies are open to bribes for clearing away the hunt trail. Are we ready?”
“I will choose a spot,” Tallakene said, her voice refusing argument. “I want no harm to come to them, although,” and, here, her voice took on a teasing note, “a little embarrassment can’t be misplaced. What say we dump them in the Harknor Gardens—in their birthday suits.”
Harknor Gardens! They wouldn’t! Samlah couldn’t help but smile at the idea. The huntsmen wouldn’t be able to show their faces in the capital for months, without bearing the brunt of some joke, or an outraged matron’s onslaught. She only hoped that the men had friends in the city. If not, there’d be a few uncomfortable months ‘at his majesty’s pleasure’ while their identities were verified, and the fines for such a display paid.
Samlah giggled at the thought of her mother stumbling across their sleeping forms while taking the fluff-budget dogs for their morning ‘walkies’. Her laughter made the image ripple before her, until she managed to stifle it. Watching the nymphs work their magic seemed to do the trick.
Clothes vanished from the hunters’ recumbent forms, to where, Samlah could only guess. Then, in a rising wind and a flurry of leaves, the huntsman vanished, leaving only indentations in the grass. When they were gone, Tallakene sighed and dusted her palms together.
“Now we can play,” she announced, and sat down beside Beren.
“You’d best bind him, sister,” Amrae told her. “The older ones have minds of their own.”
“I will,” Tallakene replied, “and then I will bind his heart to mine until he’s too old for love. And speaking of love,” she said, glancing around them. “Gallin! Come to me.”
The name made Samlah sit forward with interest for, while they had mentioned it numerous times in their play, she had never laid eyes on him. Gallin, a conquest from before, was kept young by the dryads’ company, and prey to their wills. He’d been no more than a glorified man servant by the time Samlah had discovered the creatures, never seen outside their trees, and never allowed near their conquests. It seemed he had displeased them, and been isolated as punishment.
With the calling of his name, Tallakene signaled an end to that punishment, and Samlah was eager to see whom they had loved, or lusted after, enough to tie to their hearts.
“Gallin!” Tallakene repeated, sounding impatient. “Come to me.”
For a long moment, Samlah thought he would defy them some more, but movement answered the dryad’s call, and a man emerged from the edge of the clearing. Leaning closer, Samlah caught sight of his pale blond hair, and was enraptured.
“Mistress,” he responded, stepping clear of the bushes he had chosen as a hiding place. “Mistress, I am here.”
Tallakene observed him approach, and her hand drew an unconscious line from her collar bone and across one breast. Her fingers circled her nipple once, before following the underside of her breast and tracing across to the bottom of her sternum. After that, Tallakene extended her hand to him.
Gallin graciously caught her fingertips in the curve of his thumb and forefinger, and knelt on the grass at her feet. Bringing her hand to his lips, he brushed it with a kiss and waited, head bowed, for her next command. The sun, slanting through the trees fell across his skin, so that his hair blazed like the sun on the water, and the creamy gold of his skin glowed.
“Gallin,” Tallakene said, and Samlah saw him lift his gaze to the dryad’s greeny-brown face.
“Yes, my Lady?” he asked.
His eyes were the yellow-bronze of topaz, flecked by lighter green. Samlah, looking down at him, felt a jolt of abrupt recognition. This was the man that haunted her dreams. This was why the scrying crystal had brought her to the dryads’ glade. Her heart hammered, painfully fast, against her chest, and her breath came in short, hard gasps. Now that she had found him, how was she to find him again?
“You have pleased us well.”
“Thank you, my lady.”
“Now, go and rest.”
“My lady?” Gallin’s voice was suddenly puzzled.
“You can leave in the morning,” Tallakene soothed. “It is too late to travel now, and you know, as well as we, the dangers this forest holds.”
“Yes, my lady,” Gallin replied, and Samlah identified both relief and disappointment in his tones. Rising to his feet, her dream man turned and walked into Tallakene’s tree. Watching him, Samlah felt as though he had passed through a curtain, one that separated this world from another, and her heart ached at the loss of sight of him.  
It was a loss that was almost forgotten, as the dryad’s turned their attentions to the men they had captured.


 If you would like to read more, The Tower Lord’s Guest is now available on Smashwords and Kindle, and will soon be available in paperback, as well as via Kobo, iTunes and Nook.

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