Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Thirteen. Listen to the audio version at Nobilis Erotica here!
Dawn and dusk were special times to the myth-folk, both in Fox Pass, Texas, and elsewhere. They were the in-between times–not quite day, not quite night. The myth-folk were almost mortal and almost eternal, not entirely human and not entirely magical, so their magic flickered a little brighter at sunrise and sunset, as if sensing a kinship with the changing light.
It was easiest to see the true forms of the myth-folk at these times. Luke, nearly glowing with his own satyr magic, could hardly be missed. His horns felt heavy and solid, sweeping back over his skull, and his cloven hooves raked the gravel. The warm, sage-scented wind ruffled his fawn-and-black fur. August, on the other hand, was a spectral vision, a black hole more notable for his absence of light than for anything that emanated from him. He felt like a cold spot in the earth, a ghost. Only the skull under his arm and the red fire of his horse’s eyes would remain visible as the night closed in. Glen lurked in his shadow, a knobbly skinned creature with thin limbs and a frog-thick belly, eyes bulging and teeth jutting from his mouth at odd angles.
The two true fae looked long and lean, willowy even in their strength. It was plain why Cormick led the myth-folk. He radiated royalty in his true form, a spiderweb-thin circlet of light around his brow almost like a halo. His long ears tapered to points, and his almond-shaped eyes were dark and glittering. Orson looked like his lord’s hound–vicious, dangerous, all glinting teeth and sinewy muscle, a wild thing barely restrained.
Luke grinned. “Well, ain’t we a vision. Let’s go hunting.”
The woods around a satyr’s home are not like ordinary woods, and though Luke led the group himself, the other myth-folk found it difficult to keep up. Mesquite leaves covered deep, abrupt dips in the red-rock landscape; briar patches and cactus spines caught and snagged at their clothes and skin, actively pulling them back. Yucca stabbed at their knees, and the pebbles on the ground slid like marbles. It was no place for a horse. August would not be without his mount, and he soon agreed to scout along the edge of the mesquite thicket, in the dry creek bed, in case their prey should leave the trees to run.
The paths the chupacabra had been following were faint, but they were there. The woods seemed to cry out to Luke, alerting him to the invader: a bit of skin caught on a mesquite thorn, a half track preserved in dried mud. They traveled through the dark hollows to a spit of rock jutting out from the hillside, which afforded a view of Luke’s house down below. Luke clambered to the tip of the rock, saw the house, and curled his lip.
“It’s been watching me,” he said.
“It’s watching now,” Orson said. His gun was aimed farther up the hill, where shadows and a chill wind threw off the lingering heat of the day. He looked for all the world like a pointer, Luke thought, his whole body stiff and concentrated toward his prey, pointing with his weapon instead of his nose. Luke slid back down the rock and crept forward. Cormick stayed behind Orson, covering their backs, and Glen between them. They moved forward in that formation for many tense minutes, crossing the creek and a large patch of prickly pear, to a natural depression in the rocky terrain. Luke smelled the nest before he saw it. The ground sank away, and a gaping hole yawned there, recently dug out. It was surrounded by dung and the carcasses of small animals, not devoured but drained–sucked dry, judging from the puncture wounds.
“One of these days,” Cormick said, “someone’s going to draw the parallel between chupacabras and vampires. And then chupacabras will be sex symbols, too.”
“Everything’s a sex symbol, you look hard enough,” Orson growled.
“Well hell,” Luke said, “let’s skip straight to making them sparkle.” He set down his backpack and pulled out a road flare. He lit it, took a few steps to the side, and threw the flare down the den’s entrance.
The darkness exploded with screams. Four adult chupacabras bounded out of the den, followed by scurrying mounds of young. Orson fired twice in rapid succession, sending two rounds of buckshot into the mass of them. Then he turned the shotgun around like a club and went after the closest one, giving up range for speed. Cormick fired once and then drew his knife as the fray became too complex in the dim light to fire safely. Glen met the largest creature face to face, both of them hissing and displaying mouthfuls of wicked teeth. They toppled over each other, Glen clawing for its throat and the chupacabra scrabbling for Glen’s soft underbelly.
Luke bludgeoned one chupacabra after another, throwing his horns forward and sideways. He kicked, hooves lashing with inhuman speed, and a midsize chupacabra fell to the ground, its skull caved in. Teeth sank into Luke’s arms, and claws lacerated his back, reopening his previously healed wounds. He cried out in fury and bucked, throwing the chupacabra on his back to the ground. He grabbed fistfuls of earth and howled, an unearthly sound that reverberated through the trees like a banshee’s cry. His magic ripped through him, into the earth, twisting like the roots of a tree clawing its way into rock. The earth answered him. Great tendrils of root and stone rose up in spires and curled around them, fast and heavy. Cormick, Orson, and Glen managed to get out, squeezing past the bruising fingers of rock, but no chupacabra was allowed to leave the earthen whirlpool. They were dragged down, screaming, their mouths and throats choked with sand and stone, their ankles bound with tendril roots as tight as slipknot steel, biting into their flesh and pulling them down, down, into the earth to their deaths. The spires fell, crashing into them, pulverizing their bones and soft flesh, until no sound came anymore.
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About the author: Julie Cox is the author of Chasing Tail and numerous short stories in Circlet Press erotica anthologies. She lives in Texas with her husband, children, and ever-expanding menagerie of animals on their farm. She runs a small online yarn business and teaches yarn spinning. She has numerous stories published with Circlet Press and elsewhere.
Welcome to Fox Pass, Texas, a small community where the mythical creatures aren’t so mythical after all. Satyr Luke’s comfortable routine is thrown into disarray when he becomes the target of enemies who won’t hesitate to hurt his friends to get to him. Struggling to save his town—and to sort out his feelings for his friend Sally—Luke faces the adventure of a lifetime in Julie Cox’s Capricious.
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