Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fifty-third excerpt from 'Twelve Towers'

A week after the Eirish marauders left Caernarfon, Gwilym’s crew hoisted the capstone to the top of the tower and turned it until it fit the space. The crew was amazed that a rock found in the woods would fit the top of their tower perfectly. Gwilym sent them around to spruce up the tower for tomorrow’s inspection while he set to work cleaning the rune and placing the river jade between the cap and the tower.  Bleddyn joined him halfway through the job. “You’ve never shown me this part.”
Gwilym’s heart leaped at seeing his son standing on the tower roof. All his protective instincts clashed with his pride at seeing his son doing something so brave, so competently.
“No I haven’t. You see, the tower is designed to slowly shrink on itself as the wooden foundations lose their moisture. That means that the top walls of the tower will become smaller. The capstone is the only rock that spans the entire width of the tower. If it were attached to all the walls, it would hold the tower apart and cause stresses below. Instead, I place it on top with these pieces of river jade between. They are strong, yet smooth. Feel them. Over time, the tower walls will move towards each other and the capstone will overlap the tower on all sides.”
“This river jade is beautiful. Is it valuable?”
“It’s rare here. It comes from the east on caravans. I don’t know its value. Merlin gives it to me.”
“It looks like you’re almost done, Da. Will you join us tonight?”
“No son. I like to finish my tower by sleeping on top the first night.”
“I know what happens tonight.”
Alarm bells rang in Gwilym’s head. He knew? How could he know? “What happens tonight, son?”
“It’s Beltane. All the town’s men and women dance around the fires and …mate.”
“Not all of them.”
“Is that why you stay up here, Da. So no-one will want to mate with you? So you can stay true to Ma?” Hope filled Bleddyn’s face.
“There is a dedication of this tower that requires me and none of the rest of the team. It must take place on Beltane night. That is why I stay here.”
“Oh…” Bleddyn struggled with his emotions. “But…then…Oh…”
“Let me help you get back down, son. It’s harder doing that than getting up.”

Gwilym was determined to catch Grainne reaching the top of the capstone this year. Instead of paying close attention to the placement of the last piece of river jade, he did it by feel while watching the cap-stone behind him. Nothing. Then he tapped away at the first wedge, knocking it in so that the one on the other side of the river jade could be removed by his hand. Again, nothing to see. He took a chisel and placed it next to the last wedge, ready to knock it sideways and off the crenellation, leaving the capstone on nothing but river jade. He hammered the chisel twice, loosening the wedge then, scanning the whole capstone, gave it one more whack to knock it loose. The capstone settled onto the last piece of river jade and Grainne did not magically appear on the rune. Instead, he saw a flash of white as she flipped up from below and onto the capstone, landing nimbly on her feet. He had no idea she was an acrobat.
Gwilym stood and approached her with a broad smile. He had thought often about the way she had saved his children’s lives and realized that he had never thanked her properly. The almost full moon shone through her white shift, revealing her voluptuous curves.
“Welcome, Miss Grainne. How are you this fine evening?”
She strode up to him and hugged him tight, caressing his strong back and shoulders, then leaning back to feel his arms, chest and abdomen. He was bare-chested on this warm summer night so she leaned forward and kissed and sucked on his nipples, finishing each with a small nip followed by another kiss. His lust increased and he pulled her shift over her head. All she was wearing was a thin silver belt with a sickle-shaped knife in a scabbard on it. He remembered this from the last few times.
Gwilym caressed her breasts and noticed milk dripping from one nipple. So she had given birth again? Another child of mine? He knelt down and took her nipple into his mouth, sucking gently. She groaned as the sweet milk filled his mouth. His hands were caressing the backs of her thighs, her buttocks, her narrow waist. She shuddered and opened her legs to receive his caresses. Rubbing her wetness brought her to a quick climax and she rested her weight on his shoulders.
Gwilym stood and looked into her eyes. “Talk to me, Grainne. Why was I chosen for this task? I know my mother was Cambrian but I know nothing else about her. What do you know?”
“This is not the time for talking, Gwilym.” She reached between his legs and smiled when she found that he was not as impassive as his words suggested. “Now is the time for lovemaking.”
Gwilym stepped back from her, sorry to lose the warmth of her hands but insistent on controlling this situation. “I have a right to know!” he demanded.
Grainne seemed to grow in stature in front of his eyes. Her face grew regal and stern. Her eyes grew hard. Light emanated from within her. Her voice commanded him and he obeyed. “Take off your clothes! Venerate me! Love me!”
Gwilym complied, feeling like he was making love to a goddess, not a woman. His veneration allowed him to complete the sexual act regardless of his fear but it was the first time he had felt under someone else’s control during lovemaking since his first time with the Jerusalem prostitute. On reaching his climax he noticed that the mists appeared around them and completely obscured the surroundings.

To read the entire first draft in one shot, click here:

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