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D’Leh dies during the assault on the mountain of the gods. Evolet would have run to him, but the warlord has her bouncing on the back of his horse, long strands of hair in her face. She beats her fists against his side, howling curses that he probably doesn’t understand.

They gallop over the sands for hours, Evolet eventually hauled up against his chest to ride in front of him. She doesn’t stop talking the whole time. “Where are we going? Who are you? What do you want?” He responds with nothing but his breath against the back of her neck, as the day turns into stars, an endless expanse she can’t seem to get used to.

Eventually, they stop at a village, barely bigger than hers. He dismounts easily, holds a hand out for her to get down. She takes it, feeling his huge palm engulf hers, his skin warmer than what she’s used to.

“Where are we?” she asks, though by now she’s stopped expecting a response. Perhaps, eventually, she’ll learn his language; already she’s resigned to staying here. Her whole life she’s done nothing but be moved by other people. First her mother, then the men on horses who killed her whole village, then the Old Mother back at her village, and now him. Why should anything change?
It might be nice to not be the Blue Eyed Girl from the prophecy anymore, to have all her people’s hopes off her shoulders. They’re safe now, have found new sources of food.

“We’re among my people now,” he says, leading her towards a hut by the small of her back.

Her steps stutter as she gapes. “You know my language?” she sputters, indignant. All this time confused, and he could have spoken to her at any moment.

“I speak many languages,” he answers, leading her into his home. It’s warm in there, too. She hasn’t gotten used to the warmth here, after so many years in the mountains. She likes it.

“You don’t own me,” she snarls as his hand comes down, heavy on the back of her neck.

“I do,” he shrugs, forcing her to her knees. She’s expecting…she doesn’t know, really. A slap across the face? His cock in her mouth? Instead, they just sit for a moment, his thumb tracing a path from her ear to her jaw, raising goosebumps in its wake. “Eat,” he commands, squeezing her jaw with his other hand. Her lips open without her consent, his fingers between them, dipping in to stroke the silky insides of her mouth, round out her cheeks and touch once at her tongue, Evolet tasting salt.
It’s only the briefest of seconds but his eyes are hot, Evolet shifting uncomfortably in place, rubbing her thighs together. “Eat,” he says again, pulling a piece of flat bread from nowhere and forcing a strip of it inside her, closing her mouth until eventually she chews, swallows, glaring the whole time. “My name is Tal,” he says after a moment or so, eating himself. “You belong to me.”

“If you fuck me, I will kill you,” she snarls, and he draws his hands back.

His is not a face made for smiling, brows furrowed, his mouth turned down, but he grins at her all the same. “I know you will.”

“Are you not afraid?”

He shrugs, unbothered. “I don’t have enough imagination to be afraid.”

She finishes chewing, and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. “Where do I sleep?”

“With me.” He shifts aside and lays down, extending an inviting hand. Evolet hasn’t had true rest in weeks, so she follows him, shifts to her side so they’re face to face. This first night, he just touches her cheek. His palm spans the whole of it, warm against her skin. “You are a witch,” he rumbles, and his eyes are wondering.

“I am a woman,” she answers, and something stops her from drawing away. He doesn’t look at her like the other men do, with lust and greed. It would’ve been a victory for any one of them, to finally claim the Blue Eyed Girl. It was a victory for D’Leh, and she could’ve been happy with him. She hoped, at least.

Tal just looks…bewitched. And it was all Evolet ever wanted, to not feel the weight of eyes like stones. He rolls over without speaking, asleep in seconds, and Evolet is left to stare at the roof of the hut until sleep claims her.
“Why this?” he asks after a few more nights, taking a chunk of her hair and lifting it. Evolet has spent the day in the fields with the other women, learning about this fascinating new activity named farming, which they tell her they use to be sure of food year round. Evolet has never heard such a thing.

In a good enough mood after a day spent in the warm sun, from people who expect nothing special from her besides her pretty face, Evolet doesn’t jerk away. “My hair?” she questions, knowing he’s seen hair before; he has it himself, as does everyone else in the village, although none of theirs looks like hers, in tangled chunks.

“Why does it look…” he hesitates, and Evolet is offended despite herself, drawing away from him. He sighs, put upon, and draws her back in with one huge hand spanning her waist, sliding a thigh between hers. Evolet purses her lips and wishes she didn’t like the feel of him overwhelming her.

“Why does it look like what? It’s hair. It grows. It turns into this.” It has changed recently, though; her people never discovered the concept of washing, impossible on a chilly mountainside. Her scalp no longer itches constantly. He shrugs and rolls to lay on his back, asleep in seconds. Annoyed, Evolet joins him.
The next day, there is a woman with something called a brush, and Tal spends hours patiently running it through her hair even as she snarls and spits, trying to bite him. In the end, her head feels so light she’s nearly dizzy with it, and the hair she touches is as smooth as her skin.

“See? Better,” Tal announces, cupping her chin in one hand to examine her. His eyes drop to her mouth, her shoulders, bared by the shift she wears. “Beautiful, witch.”

“I’m not a witch,” she protests for what feels like the twentieth time, touching her hand to her hair again. Tal takes a handful of it in his fist, tugs her head back to bare her throat. She doesn’t struggle; she stopped being afraid of him long ago, when she realized he wasn’t going to harm her.

Although the scars on her hand still sting, it was the only time he ever seemed to hurt her, and she had received much worse from her mother when she caused trouble as a child. “Beautiful,” he repeats, and lets her go.
She wakes up in the night to his cock pressed to the curve of her ass, his breath hot in her ear, and she doesn’t hate herself anymore for wanting him. In the night though, in the ever present warmth, all she does is fall back asleep.
“Blue eyed girl,” the other members of the village call her, but it has no meaning, no prophecy behind it. There’s no weight of expectation in their words. Caila, one of the women Evolet has grown the closest to, helps her with their language, coaxes her through guttural barking that has more grace to it than she assumed at first listen.

“You must learn, if you are to be Tal’s woman,” she says matter of factly, putting a thin braid in Evolet’s hair.

“I am not his woman,” Evolet says, but Caila just laughs.
After two weeks, it rains. Nothing like the bitter cold wetness that Evolet remembers from the mountains, but a gentle thing that tickles her face where she’s paused halfway back to her hut, a basket of grains tucked under her arm. She spins in one slow circle, basking in it, the sand clumping under her bare feet.

She doesn’t sense Tal’s eyes on her until it’s too late, until he’s snatching at her shift, so wet it comes away with a squelch, clutching at her skin. She smooths wet hair away from her face, frowning.

“What are you doing?”

Evolet imagines it’s very obvious. She gestures to the water, to the sky. “It’s raining.”

He frowns, which on a face like his is awe-inspiring. “We don’t have a word for that.” Here, there is only sand, and the sun bearing down hot on her face, always. She imagines that rain doesn’t happen often here. His gaze dips to her throat, her breasts, slick with water. “Come,” he commands, taking her by the upper arm, pulling her towards their hut. She goes without struggle, ducks inside only to be hauled up, against the gritty wall as his mouth descends on hers, his tongue slipping in to stroke behind her teeth, get the taste of her.

She considers, for a moment, drawing the sword from his waist and killing him. Instead, she curls one arm around the back of his head, tugs on the hair there til he pulls away to leave her breathless. “Why?” she demands as his hand slips to her waist, her thigh, travelling farther up and Evolet feels herself getting hot for him, wanting more.

“You are beautiful, and I was tired of waiting,” he says, hooking her leg over his hip, leaving her spread open. Vulnerable.

“I…” His cock is a marvel, she thinks dazedly, almost afraid to look at it. What is happening to her? When did she become this woman? “That’s not going to fit,” she protests, even as he reaches between her thighs with slick fingers, startling a yelp from her.

“It will fit.” He strokes himself once, flushed almost purple, grunting low in the back of his throat. Despite herself, Evolet’s thighs spread further for him, heat curling low in her belly as her cunt opens for him, lets him inside.

They both groan at the feel of it, Evolet digging her fingers into the muscles of his shoulders, feeling herself gush between them, almost embarrassed by the squelch as he moves in her in fast pushes of his hips, forcing a noise from her throat that’s more of a whine than anything, a plea for more.

She buries her face in his neck, bites there as he slowly forces her open until he can fuck her open properly for him, make room to fill her with his cock. Evolet can feel herself clutching at him, trying to hold him inside where it feels so good, heat spreading til her legs are weak and lax around him, as he dips to take one of her breasts in his mouth.

“You were such a proud thing,” he mumbles, sucking at the skin of her neck, putting his thumb in the soft part where her ass and thigh meet. “Where is that now?” All she can do is plead for him, to fill her up, to take her, her toes curling against the backs of his strong thighs.

Please,” she breathes, and he huffs a laugh, bites at her neck, and lets her fall to pieces around him, clenching up around his cock til he groans through his teeth and follows her over with a gush of wet in her belly, filling her.

For a moment after they’re still, Evolet dizzy, holding him tight. His cock sliding out of her makes her yelp, grabbing at him, but the discomfort is over quickly. He hauls her easily into his arms, lays her down in the bed she’s beginning to realize is theirs. The thought doesn’t bother her at all anymore.

He maneuvers himself to face her, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear in a gesture much gentler than she would’ve expected. He still looks bewitched, even as he grins. “I thought you said you weren’t my woman.”

Evolet swats at him, but she’s smiling herself.

Chapter Text

Some months after she helped kill the gods, after Tal took her to his village, after she became his woman, Evolet wakes in their hut alone. It’s a warm day, like all the days here. She revels in it.

“Tal?” she calls out, but there’s no answer. She gets up, gathers her clothes; sandals, and the simple, loose shift she’s taken to wearing these days as her other clothing becomes uncomfortable. She grabs a peach as she leaves the hut and bites into it, letting the juices run down her chin. Fruit of any kind is new here. Another thing to revel in.

Tal is outside, petting the long mane of a horse she hasn’t seen before. Smaller, heavier, it looks at her with wide brown eyes and blows air through its nose.

“Come,” Tal says to her, beckoning with one broad hand. She goes to him, lets him slide that hand down her side and round her waist. After so many months together, she finds his size comforting, and the hand around her waist is protective. “It’s yours,” he says, indicating the horse. Evolet bites her bottom lip, touches the horse’s wide flank. It’s softer than she would have expected under her fingertips. “I told you I had a gift for you, witch,” he says with affection.

“I have a gift for you as well.” His eyebrows rise; it’s an impressive feat on a face like his. “I’ll give it to you later,” she reassures him, still eying the horse. All the people here ride them; she’s seen children as young as two be put on the back of horses to wobble and grab for their manes. Tal has long been promising that she would learn herself.

He explains how to heave herself onto the thing’s back, and she does so, with his steady hands at her waist. The horse seems to be more patient than the high-spirited rascal that belongs to Tal. It breathes evenly under her as she splays her hands across its back, between her spread legs.

“What do I do?” she asks as Tal takes the reins, leads it forwards a few steps.

“Don’t fall off.” She swallows at the thought of it, the ground seeming endlessly far away suddenly. A snapped ankle at the very least. It’s easy enough though as he leads her around the village, past people who smile and wave, amused. Evolet’s fingers are white, she’s clutching so hard at the reins. But she trusts Tal. He’s known horses his whole life. And she quickly learned that horses aren’t the demons she thought they were. They’re animals, no more dangerous than the manooks. Less so, probably. “What is this gift you spoke of?” Tal asks as they begin the slow, steady route back to their hut. His attempt at being casual makes her smile.

She pats the horse’s neck once, and receives a twitch of its tail that doesn’t seem displeased. Perhaps…perhaps she can learn to ride after all. With caution. She ignores his question in favor of one of her own. “What’s it’s name?”

“It doesn’t have one. She’s yours to name.”

“Mona,” she decides. That was the name of a dog she had, back in the village. It died when she was ten.

“Mona,” he repeats, nodding. They’ve reached their hut, and he helps her down with gentle hands at her waist.

Once she’s returned to the ground, she looks up at him, and stands on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. “Thank you. I treasure her.” He’s looking down at her as he always does; bewitched and smiling. She takes one of his hands in hers, and guides it to splay along her stomach. “And I give you something to treasure.” There’s shock in his face, and joy. He drops to his knees. “A child,” she answers his unspoken, and unnecessary, question.

He presses his face to her still-flat belly, murmuring to it already, bringing a grin to her lips. And to think she thought she could be happy with D’Leh.

“How long have you known?” he asks, getting to his feet with one hand still on her stomach.

“A moon. But I think…I think I’ve been carrying it for three.” It’s been about that long since she last bled, and she’s been asking the other women questions. They probably all know by now, but they’re loyal enough not to have told. Tal kisses her, deep and hungry, fingers at the small of her back to pull her close. He’s always been gentle with her, but now he seems almost afraid. She laughs, and bites his lip. “I won’t break just because you touch me. And neither will your child.”

“You’re a tiny thing,” he says, teasing. “Delicate.” She leans back against the flank of her horse and laughs. Tal scoops her off her feet and carries her into their hut, kissing her forehead once. The smile feels stuck on her face. A horse. A child! And Tal. Her family, after so long spent looking for one. She must be blessed by the gods. Well, whoever of the gods she didn’t kill, anyway. Evolet won’t worry about it.