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Excerpted from Dominic, The Lords of Satyr (March 2009)
Temple of BacchusElseWorld, 1837
"Her name is Emma."
The Facilitator's voice echoed off the ancient stone walls, lending his words authority as he directed Dominic's attention to the large, mirrored disk positioned prominently in the middle of the temple's bloodied floor.
The image of a woman, who existed somewhere in a neighboring world, was reflected on the disk's surface like a living portrait. Her countenance was serene, oblivious. For s he was unaware she was being watched.
Carved from polished obsidian as black and impenetrable as the night, the six-foot mirror was encircled by nine more disks of lesser circumference. Each was convex and had been shaped from a disparate exotic stone intended to represent one of the lunar phases. All were set at an angle meant to capture the moonlight streaming in through an aperture in the roof and to direct it toward the central mirror where the woman was on view.
"You expect me to rape her," Dominic stated, his voice flat.
The woman's hand moved, and a page flipped. She was reading.
"We expect you to do what is necessary. As always," the Facilitator replied, speaking for himself as well as the two silent Acolytes, who flanked him.
At first glance, the woman appeared to be plain, unremarkable in every way. Dominic judged her to be a quarter of a century old like himself, perhaps a little older. Except for the occasional movement of her hand, she was utterly still. Her head was bent intently over a tome entitled The Fruits of Philosophy, which lay before her upon a polished desk.
She wore spectacles, and her profile was half turned from him, so that the shapeof her delicate cheek was limned by flickering candlelight. Tendrils of ash brown hair curled along a vulnerable nape.
The garment she wore was stiff and lengthy, and it almost completely hid her body from view. He'd heard that EarthWorld females sheathed themselves in swaths of fabric impermeable to the masculine eye, but until now had believed this to be only a rumor. Her breasts were full and her figure shapely. Why did she hide it?
"You'll bow to Our Will in this matter?" prompted the Facilitator.
Dominic grunted a grudging assent. His hard, quicksilver gaze flicked over the woman again. He'd been required to do worse in his life. And he had little choice.
From the corridor behind them came the swishing sound of the votaries' brooms. Solemnly, they swept the sacred remnants of what had been a colossal statue of Bacchus into vessels that would later be placed in reliquaries.
Rage simmered in him. This hallowed sanctum-his home-had been brutally attacked. And to think that just hours ago he'd been out fighting the very beings, who had taken advantage of his absence to defile it!
He resided here, alone for the most part, sleeping in an alcove with few creature comforts. Like a bird of prey, he swooped down on the enemies of his people by night and returned to the relative protection offered here in the temple to roost by day. But this attack had altered his schedule.
"Seven were killed in the strike here last night," the Facilitator informed him, though he hadn't asked. "And the amulet in the statue has gone missing. We can onl y thank the Gods that the time involved in its removal prevented our enemies from reaching these mirrors."
"Our enemies," Dominic mocked, shooting him a cynical look. The stench of demons was everywhere, yet the Facilitator adamantly refrained from referring to them directly as if doing so might somehow raise them in the flesh.
"They weren't prevented," he informed his elderly companion. "They came here with specific intentions. They destroyed the statue, but painstakingly hacked its genitals and right hand off. The fact that they left only those pieces undamaged and to be discovered by us in this mess was no accident."
It had been a message directed at him, for those were his susceptible points.
The Facilitator's placid gaze didn't alter.
"It's widely known that these scrying mirrors allow us to see into the adjoining world," Dominic persisted. "They were purposely left intact so that we might continue to do so." He jerked his jaw toward the woman in the mirror. "Let me postpone this new duty until I can find out the reason behind this attack. Until I can hunt down the demons who were responsible."
The two Acolytes on either side of the Facilitator stirred for the first time, murmuring in distress. Whether in response to his suggestion of postponement or to his profanity in calling the demons by name, he neither knew=2 0nor cared.
The Facilitator calmed them with the lift of a hand, then shook his head at Dominic. "No. You will do as We have directed."
Dominic heaved a frustrated breath and stalked away. Standing in the arched entrance of the chamber, he watched the votives at their work. The twelve marble statues that ringed the room regarded him coldly, unspeaking. Accustomed to their unwavering, brooding gazes, he ignored them.
Slamming the side of his fisted, gloved hand against a limestone column, he felt the familiar bolt of lightening zap up his arm, a cruel reminder of his duty. Free Will was a luxury he had not enjoyed since the age of ten. The three males behind him ruled his sect and he would obey their directive.
"How am I to get through the gate?" he gritted after a moment.
"Ingratiate yourself with her husband. Cajole him into offering you safe passage. He's one of the EarthWorld Satyr, but he serves here in our regiments."Dominic's brows rammed together and he whipped around toward the female in the mirror.
"She's wed? To one of our fighters?" he demanded. "And you would have me usurp his rights with her?"
Another page flipped under the touch of a feminine hand, reclaiming everyone's attention. Gold flashed on the woman's finger. She wore a wedding band.
"She's not of our20blood," he was hastily assured, as if that would render the unsavory task he'd been assigned perfectly palatable. "Her sister is King Feydon's offspring. One of the infamous half-Human, half-Fairie brides wed to the three EarthWorld Satyr lords. But this one--" He tapped the mirror with a gnarled finger causing the woman's image to undulate for a few seconds. "This one doesn't share the deceased king's blood."
"How strong is the blood of her husband?"
"Him? He's hardly fit to call himself Satyr," the Facilitator scoffed. "He boasts that he's a quarter blood, but We believe him to be less. And he doesn't fight as you assume. No, he serves himself up to the other soldiers in a base manner, as one of the cinaedi. You'll find him in the regiment camped closest to the gate. He chose to be stationed there so that he might easily return to his world regularly, at Moonful."
"To fuck his wife," Dominic conjectured. "As you would have me fuck her. Why?"
The Acolytes whispered again, gently rebuking his plain speaking. The Facilitator overlooked it, preferring as always to gloss over the more sordid details of the sequential duties that made up Dominic's existence.
"She's newly plowed. Her husband lay with her last evening," the elderly man remarked significantly.
At that, Dominic returned to stand before the woman, his eyes dropping to her waist. He opened himself to her for the briefest of intervals, learning what he could.
Her belly was not yet rounded, but even with a world of distance between them, his instincts quickly informed him that she did house another man's seed within her womb--seed planted there only last night.
On the heels of that realization, another struck him with the impact of a giant fist. He staggered back from the mirror, his accusing gaze flying to his companion.
"Yes," the Facilitator affirmed, refusing to meet his eyes. "She's with child."
A heartbeat of silence passed. Then another and another.
"Not just any child, though, is it?" Dominic demanded with soft menace.His right hand vibrated as if the evil that dwelled in its palm had been agitated by his suspicions. He raised the hand between himself and the other man, and carefully flexed it within its silver-threaded glove.
The Facilitator shifted uncomfortably. Darting a glance at the glove, he subtly distanced himself from it. The Acolytes began to hum. Nervously, they cupped their long-fingered hands together, catching the rays of the moon overhead in their palms-an act believed to ward off demons.
Dominic's lip curled, cruelly voluptuous. His lashes lowered to shadow the slits of his eyes. And for just a moment, he savor ed the latent power that made others-even these influential beings--fear him.
"As you . . ." The Facilitator cleared his throat in a rare display of uneasiness. "As you've no doubt guessed, the child will be a Chosen One. Your successor."
A chill crawled up Dominic's spine. He stared at him, thunderstruck.
"This can come as no surprise," the Facilitator rambled on. "You were aware your replacement would be selected one day."
Yes, he'd known. But he'd been too engrossed in the never-ending hunting and killing that comprised his nightly routine to dwell on the matter. This news had taken him completely off guard. Did it imply that his death was imminent?
"Now then, you have four weeks," the Facilitator informed him crisply. "With the coming of another Moonful, it will be imperative that you mate her in order to endow her child's powers. Four weeks--is it time enough to find her husband and secure an invitation to his world?"
Dominic nodded slowly, his fascinated gaze returning to the mirror where it resettled on the woman. On the delicate blush of her cheek. On the inviting slope of her shoulder. On her flat belly.
Like his own mother, she would have no inkling she was to bear a Chosen One. Wouldn't be informed of her child's destiny until Dominic's eventual death.His own predecessor had been unknown to him, for the demonhand-quite literally a hand that held demons-didn't pass to a successor through bloodlines. It selected its hosts seemingly at random, one after another.
Only once in a generation was a single child given the power-the curse-that had been bestowed upon him as a boy. A mirrored palm.
© Copyright 2009 by Elizabeth Amber