Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Forty-Eight. Listen to the audio version at Nobilis Erotica here!
All things considered, the puncture wound in Luke’s arm was the least of their problems, but Sally and Agatha insisted on dressing it. When they came out of the house, Alan was gone, collected by the reinforcements Cormick had called for before Luke and the others left for the storage facility. The dead troll in the middle of the yard was gone, as was Sally’s mother’s sedan–riddled with bullets, windows shot out, the front half crushed from its encounter with the gate, bloodstained from several different people, and containing the body of Glen the goblin. Luke wondered which of the myth-folk locals had used what sort of magic to rid the place of the car so quickly and quietly. The three council members from the troll prison had left for San Antonio for long-term treatment with a myth-folk doctor.
In the barn, Mae was pressed into one corner, glaring at the world from inside a tarp, and August was in another, curled up in a little ball under a turnout blanket meant for a horse. In the center, guarded over by Allison with a sawed-off shotgun, was the troll who had tried and failed to slit Luke’s throat.
Luke walked over to him and stood uncomfortably close. “Alan’s dead,” he said. “At least, the important part of him.”
“I know. I saw.”
“I’m gonna be sick about it later, when it sinks in. I’ve never seen such a thing, didn’t know it was possible.” He knelt down so he could look the troll in the eye. “This had to end. Tolling the portals now is only going to bring more blood, more death for your kind. You brought this fight. Not just to me, but to the whole myth-folk community, and I’ve sent it back after you. I know you lot think you’re the good guys in this, and you can cast yourselves as the heroes all you want, but it don’t change this one fact: bridge trolls are a hunted race now. So you tell every bridge troll you know, you spread the word, to leave the great portals of the world alone. If I really wanted you dead, I wouldn’t tell you, I’d let you lot walk into it unawares. And if you come after this community, if you come for vengeance….” He pointed to Orson, still holding the spear, and Sally, who looked like she would like to put another bolt of lightning through the troll. “You got those guys to deal with. And me, though personally I’ll take guns over what little damage I can do with my horns.”
Luke stood and thought the troll looked very small, for all that he was a huge man. “You got anything to say?”
The troll shook his head. “I wish it had turned out differently.”
“Me too. But you would have had to not try to kill us first.”
Orson stepped up beside Luke. “Take the enchantment off of Mae.”
The troll looked over his shoulder. “She is of no use to me anymore. Done.”
Orson handed the spear to Luke and walked to Mae. She kicked out at him, pushing farther back into the corner, as if she could wedge herself into a crevice there like a spider. She fought him, slapped at him, but he was insistent, gentle and strong. He drew her to him, and she finally collapsed against his chest, abandoning the tarp. Her beautiful face showed the lines of her age, bordering on forty; neither nymph magic nor makeup disguised her now. Her body was lovely, well kept, but it sagged, the inevitable weight of time stealing her youthful appeal. At the roots of her hair, a touch of gray had begun to show. Orson and Mae talked, but all Luke could hear were her great, gulping sobs. Though he bore her no love, her raw vulnerability struck Luke like a punch in the sternum. No wonder Orson, who could not help but still love her a little, had to reach out to her. Luke was amazed that Mae, one of the most stalwart and powerful myth-folk he knew, could be brought low by a troll’s possession magic. They had gotten that magic from somewhere. He resolved to find out where.
In the other corner, Cormick was talking to August. He knelt in front of the headless horseman, pushing his hair off his forehead, talking to him softly. August suddenly jerked back, a snarl twisting his handsome face.
“How would you know anything about it? You didn’t even see what happened, you were safe in the storm shelter! It was humiliating, terrible–a violation–a desecration. I can’t stand to think, to be in my own skin!”
Luke started toward them, but Cormick held up a hand. He stood and squared his shoulders. “August,” he said in a commanding voice that left no one in doubt of his royal heritage, “you are a knight of the council, and you are commanded to control yourself. You were ensnared by an enchantment, in which terrible things happened. But you are not relieved of your duties, both what the council has entrusted to you and what I expect of you. You will not lapse into self-pity. You will not attempt to deal with this internally. You will accept treatment, you will recover, and you will go forth in greater compassion and understanding for what has happened here today.” His voice softened. “You are not lessened in my estimation. You are still mine. Kneel.”
August did a strange thing then. His muscles relaxed, as if a great burden had been taken from his shoulders. He sank to one knee in front of Cormick, and Cormick touched the back of August’s head affectionately. “Thank you, my liege,” he said.
Cormick looked up, past the wall of the barn, and Luke heard the sound of a heavy animal walking. August stayed still and kneeling beneath Cormick’s hand while his long-absent horse walked up behind him and lipped at his shoulder.
“You may rise,” Cormick said, and stepped away from him.
August stood and turned around. The horse pressed its long face against his chest, and August buried his face in its mane. He didn’t sob, like Mae did, but Luke suspected from the tremor in his shoulders that in the absence of company, he would have. Luke looked away and let August keep what little remained of his secrets.
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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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