Fantastical Page 75

“Tor –” I started warningly.

He put his mug down on the side table, twisted his torso so he was facing me and placed his other hand light on my hip. “Cora, it is not for your ears. Trust me.”

“Uh, big guy, do you think there is anything that has to do with any of this that I shouldn’t know?”

“Yes,” he replied immediately. “This.”

“I’m a big girl, I can take it.”

“My love, I don’t want you to take it.”

“I’m not certain that’s your choice,” I returned.

He held my eyes and I held his right back.

Then he sighed.

Then, as Phoebe got up, murmuring into the phone and moving toward the kitchen, Tor spoke.

“If this world your friend’s friend’s friend knows is, indeed, Korwahk and this Circe was claimed by the king of that nation, I have concerns.”

“What concerns?”

“Korwahk is in the Southlands, far away from Bellebryn and Hawkvale. Things are very different there, uncivilized, some would consider it primitive but it actually isn’t. It is only different. What it is, is savage.”

I sucked in breath.

That didn’t sound good.

“Do you think she’s been –?” I started.

“What I know is, any warrior of the Korwahk Horde, most definitely their king, gets his wife one way.” He paused, I leaned in closer, he saw he wasn’t going to get away with not telling me the whole story so he finished, “He hunts her.”

“Oh my God,” I whispered, leaning back.

“Yes,” he muttered his agreement.

I just stared at him.

On a sigh, he kept talking.

“This Wife Hunt is well-known, my love. It is even attended by spectators who travel far to watch though I cannot understand what they would get from this. To my culture, this practice is sordid although it is perfectly acceptable in the Southlands and has been happening for centuries. Women are gathered, paraded through the warriors of the Horde, let loose, the warriors hunt them and claim them by fighting their brothers-in-arms for them and then, if victorious, they take the women on the spot.”

“Oh my God,” I whispered again. “Take them as in…?” I trailed off, hoping he got me without me having to say it and I knew he got me when his fingers squeezed my hip and he nodded. “Oh my God,” I breathed it this time.

“I would assume this is also not common practice in your world,” he stated.

Hunting women and raping them?

“No!” I cried.

“It is not in my land or any of the countries of the Northlands,” he muttered then his eyes caught mine. “She, this Circe of this world, if she was switched before the Hunt, would endure that, love. I’ve no doubt about it.”

Oh my God!

I looked away and closed my eyes, now worried about Circe, a woman I didn’t even know!

“Cora,” he called and I looked back, opening my eyes. “As I explained, this concerns me but Dax Lahn has declared his union with this Circe is the beginning of The Golden Dynasty. He is said to brag greatly of her beauty and spirit. It is said he cares deeply for her. He is known and what he is known for is being brutal, unforgiving and that he has the strength of ten men. There are many who think he is a god on earth, an unbeatable warrior, a formidable ruler, a cunning leader. He has great strength but he also has great intelligence. Even so, he rules a savage land with savage practices. Yet, the reports state his bride is adored, not only by her king but by his people. It is said she holds noble magic and is goddess to his god. He is said to display tenderness toward her, even publicly, which is not always the practice of the warriors of that Horde but definitely not a characteristic he has ever shown. And it is said she brings him humor.” He leaned closer to me. “Perhaps it is somewhat like us. Perhaps, sweets, he or she has found a way to break through. Perhaps she is pleased she carries his child and wished to return.”

“I hope so,” I whispered.

“As do I,” he whispered back.

“Welp!” Phoebe called from the doorway from the kitchen. “The gig is, Circe’s alternate universe guy, who, Cora, by the way,” she looked at me, “apparently is also way hot.” She took us both in and continued, “It was him that found a way to get her back. She was at a party and just,” she lifted her hands and even with the one holding her cell phone, she wriggled her fingers, “melted away.”

“Bloody hell,” Tor muttered.

But all I could think was, melted away.

I didn’t like the idea of the blue mist and I wasn’t conscious to see that. I certainly didn’t want to melt away.

“That’s the bad news,” Phoebe announced then stated, “The good news is, when she was gone, her Dad and the alternate universe Circe found a witch here who knew how to bring her back. They just never got the chance since the here Circe came back on her own somehow.”

Both Tor and I straightened but it was me who said, “Really?”

She nodded, coming to stand behind my armchair and putting her hands on the back of it. “Yep, Brianna is calling Marlene now to get the full scoop and to tell her about you. Brianna’s gonna sort it all out and we’re gonna meet them for coffee later.”

“Excellent,” Tor stated and my head shot around to him.

“Excellent?” I queried.

He looked to me. “Of course. This is good.”

“How is this good, Tor?” I asked. “We don’t have magic in our world! This witch is probably a charlatan or something!”

“Uh, we so totally do have magic, girl,” Phoebe put in. “You were at Selena’s party with me when that chick put the whammie on that other chick for flirting with her boyfriend and she fell down the stairs.”

“Her ‘whammie’,” I lifted my hands and did quotation marks even around my coffee cup before dropping them and reminding my friend, “consisted of her pushing the flirting chick down the stairs.”

“She wasn’t anywhere near,” Phoebe returned.

“That was what she said but the other girl said she was totally there because she felt her hand in her back and she saw her at the top of the stairs when she was on her way down,” I fired back.

Tor (wisely) cut into this exchange stating, “There is no harm speaking to this Marlene and then to this witch.”

I looked to Tor and told him, “Okay, you’re right, honey, but what if we find out there is magic in this world. This woman is untried. What if she messes it all up? What if she sends us to, I don’t know, some other place? What if she sends you someplace and sends me someplace else? What if Circe isn’t in Korwahk but some other savage, barren place with primitive hordes? What if one of us gets sent there? I don’t want to go to a savage, barren place with primitive hordes!”

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