In the empty corners of the evening
In the vacant beauty of the wind
There is always something to remember
Something to remember
October Project - Something More Than This
"One more thing, Kain." The lord of the Tower of Zot lifted the faceplate of his imposing helmet, revealing a line of fine aristocratic jaw, the shiver of pale hair like a snowdrift against his temple. Kain, pausing in the doorway, could see no more than a shadow of his master's profile.
"Yes, my lord?"
Golbeza poured a glass of wine from the cut-crystal decanter, and held it up to the muted, pulsing lights set in the tower walls. "Your spear. It's rather a dull old thing, isn't it? As my lieutenant, I should think you would be better equipped."
Kain ran a gloved palm down the haft of his spear. The wood of the shaft was polished with use and love, it gleamed darkly from the careful application of oil that Kain had given it every night since he was eight. The steel tip sparkled with two elegant barbs, and Kain knew the length and heft of it as well as he knew the sweep of his own arm. A dragoon's weapon. A simple spear, and the only thing besides the name of Highwind left to him by his father. Part of Kain knew this, the same part of him that sought to stay by Rosa's side, to ease the bindings cutting into her wrists, to draw her away from the blade poised above her fair head.
The part of him that now, had no words that it could speak. "It has been a serviceable weapon, my lord. No more."
"I have a better one for you," Golbeza put his wine glass down. "I will have it delivered to your chamber this evening. You are dismissed."
The last command was unnecessary; Golbeza had unfastened the chin strap of his helm, and not even Kain was permitted the sight of his master's unarmored face. Kain bowed out of the door, the muted sound of its closing covering the delicate noise of blued mythril clinking on the table.
Kain's chambers in the Tower of Zot were the same as any other room in the tower, as alien to the dragoon as the surface of the moon. there were no hard lines, only curved edges, and the room itself glowed with faint light even after he had commanded the lamps to darkness. But the bed was soft, and without his armor there was weariness that craved rest and silence.
A chime sounded in the shadows, and his door opened without his order, spilling light from the corridor beyond. Kain was on his feet in an instant, spear in hand, bare feet braced on the floor, golden hair trailing free of the tie that had already endured all day. "Who dares to--"
"Peace, Kain Highwind." A voice sighed through his room, ruffling his hair and loose sleeping pants like a faint breeze. "I come from our master Golbeza."
Kain did not budge. His master had many servants, and few of them were welcome in his private chamber after dark. "Give your name."
"Barbariccia," the voice said, decidedly feminine now. The shadow in his doorway became a lush shape, the dim glow of tower walls finding eyes the color of cloudless sky, and lighting them. "The mistress of Wind."
Kain's lip curled with faint distaste. "You are one of Golbeza's elemental pets."
She laughed. "You think me a putrefying abomination, or a clammy water bug? I am no mere servant of the Crystal, I am born of it."
"I have no interest in you, in any case." Kain straightened, the spear deceptively loose in one hand. "Begone from here."
"No interest in me? So unkind." She stepped closer, and Kain saw that she was gold and honeyed, a long twist of hair floating around her as though on some magical wind. "From your name, I thought you might have plenty of interest in me indeed."
Kain turned away. Even when his mind had been his own, he was never one to be swayed by such wanton displays of skin or softly pouting lips. "You know little of men of Baron," he said.
On Barbariccia's perfect face was a flicker of disgust. "I've seen that pale useless thing our master has tied up in the highest floor. Surely such cold saints do not rouse passion in the men of Baron." She paused deliberately, shifting her weight in a manner that made the gesture seem explicit. Her tone was mocking. "Or in any man that could rightfully call himself one."
"Keep your harlot's insults--" Kain began, but got no further, for Barbariccia had reached out, and touched his face.
She smelled of wind on the mountain, high and keen and cold, a motion of air that Kain had not felt since Golbeza had brought him to this foreign structure, closed up and still. Wind moved from her and over him, shaking his hair free at last from its confinement, snapping the ties of his sleeping pants and the ribbon on his spear like tournament pennants. "Oh," she said, and her voice was like bending pine trees sighing in the spring dusk, "Oh, I am far more than that, Kain Highwind."
She caught him up in the same way a tornado lifts an oak tree free of the earth, swirling him effortlessly around her center, drawing him towards the stillness there. There was electricity of coming stormclouds in her mouth, and Kain no longer knew when he had ceased to hold his spear, and his hands were tangled in cool shining tresses, a yielding and yet insistent body pressed close against his own. She bore him down and held him there, and it was as though she weighed nothing and everything at once. Kain was lost in her tumult, in her motion, the storm that rode him hard and drew sweetness along his skin, spiraling him into ecstasy until he didn't know ground from sky.
When it was over he was spent and powerless, lying defeated beneath her, his hair clinging to his parted lips. His breath came hard, uneven. Barbariccia, unsurprisingly, was unwinded astride him.
"I have not forgotten my purpose in coming to you," she said, and her smile could have split steel and skin, hanging over him like the scythe over Rosa's life. "Master Golbeza wished for me to present you with a gift."
Kain swallowed, wetting parched lips. "A gift?"
She held out her hands and breathed into them. A gilded haft arched into being, topped with a golden point that gleamed like a star. She held a spear in her hands, a weapon as deadly and beautiful as she herself was, and watched as Kain's eyes devoured it with a lust that no woman, mortal or no, would ever see. "It pleases you?"
Kain reached up a hand, but did not quite touch the spear. "It's exquisite."
She laughed. "I did not know men of Baron knew such words." The spear spun in her hands, and she lifted herself high above him, into space that surely the small chamber did not even contain. "Take it, then!"
For Kain there was no time for defense or despair, Barbariccia hurtled down like a falling star, and the spear sank to half its length deep into his bed. A tiny white line formed on Kain's cheek where the tip had kissed him on the way down, welling quickly with blood and staining the white pillow.
Barbariccia was gone.
Kain sat up slowly, and brushed the back of his hand over his stinging cheekbone. The spear stood, shedding its own light, plunged deep into the mattress. With shaking hands Kain worked the haft free. It lay balanced perfectly across his hands, both heavy and weightless, cold and burning. Kain wrapped his fingers tightly around it. It was a fine weapon indeed, worthy of Golbeza's lieutenant.
The wordless part of him looked in vain for his father's spear, but it had gone with Barbariccia. There was only the still, unearthly light of the Tower of Zot, and the Wind Lord's spear, and the shell of a Dragoon named Kain Highwind.
And Kain's soul shrank away within him, and no longer sought for the wind for comfort.