Duty 30

The mansion and its surroundings lands was vast. They stretched on for miles in every direction, several acres worth of territory fit in between the fencing that circled around the property. Ryder didn’t yet know what else was on this land, aside from the main building and the surrounding cottages. He knew there was horses, and some kind of cattle that had grown wild and self sufficient by surviving off the land here. There was certainly enough grass for grazing, and supposedly there was the chance of herbs growing wild.

The mansion and the land around it, was meant to be a self sustaining territory. There was a whole section cordoned off for farming, though the crop fields had fallen into disrepair. Things grew there, but wild and erratic, after so many years without a tending hand. The Drules might once again reclaim and tame this land. It all depended on how long they would actually be on Simestia. Right now it looked to be at least several weeks, though months was the preferable time frame for most of the Drules. They wanted to give Haggar the time needed to build up Lotor’s armies, but didn’t know if they could keep the prince distracted long enough for the witch to accomplish her mission.

They still had time. The damaged wiring had been more fortunate than problematic. With no electricity to power their devices, the Drules couldn’t get to work on creating the false identities needed for a new life. Not that they ever intended to really start, but it made things easier to have that excuse as to why things were being delayed. Ryder didn’t like lying to Lotor. None of the Drules did, though they all agreed. Lotor wasn’t ready to even think about returning to Doom.

It was only the third day into their stay on Simestia. Ryder had to remind himself of that fact in order to fight the impatience he was feeling. An impatience that made him feel agitated, a mood he refused to associate with the priestess sitting before him. He was in denial though, anyone could and did see how the priestess made him feel and act. Ryder a normally easy going Drule, was now openly hostile and glaring at any and everyone. But especially at the priestess!

He glared at her back now, Ryder trying to ignore the fact that Alexandria was in his arms. Her hair tickled against the open chest of his vest, the dark strands silk soft. Her smell tantalized him, Ryder picking up on the fact that she had used a shampoo that was different from her normal brand. It made her hair smell like lilacs, his nostrils flaring every time he breathed it in. He wanted to do more than just smell her. He wanted to pick up her hair, and crush it to his face, rub it over his skin. Hell, he wanted to rub HER over him, to feel the pleasing softness of her body as he buried his face between those large breasts of hers, his hands roaming over her curvaceous back side.

Ryder tried not to growl and failed. He was getting aroused again, the urges he had bringing to mind such vivid images that he couldn’t control or stop. He wanted Alexandria. Wanted her with the fiercest desire, an unnatural longing that had to be the work of a witch. Her. This was not the first time Ryder thought the priestess had cast some spell over him. Nor did he think it would be the last, Ryder glaring harder at her though she couldn’t see.

Alexandria was sitting before him, her back against his front. She was hardly moving, holding herself stiff in between his arms. They were both on top of a large horse like creature, the stallion a mottled black and white beast. Alexandria’s small hands were gripping the creature’s mane, while Ryder held onto the reins. She was trapped between his arms, her bottom pressed snug against his groin. He hadn’t bothered with a saddle, there simply hadn’t been one large enough to fit two people on it.

It was necessity that brought them to ride the same beast. The grounds were simply too vast for them to traverse it on foot. The mansion alone was nearly two miles away from the gate, and the lands extended further beyond that. They had no choice but to ride, and to Ryder’s dismay he had discovered Alexandria had no experience with the beasts they would use.

It was also a perverse pleasure that had filled him when he realized they had no choice but to share the same horse like creature. He didn’t like how happy that had made him, nor how his hands had lingered on her waist when Ryder had lifted her up onto the creature. She hadn’t talked to him since, and that was fine with Ryder. He found he liked her much better when her mouth was closed, rather than listening to Alexandria spew defiance.

Still it was an excruciating ride. His mind kept trying to lose itself to fantasies of her, Ryder grumbling things underneath his breath. Not even that gained a reaction from her, Alexandria busying herself with scouting out the land. They rode slow so that she could make out the things growing in the ground. So far she had yet to see anything promising, leaving Ryder to wonder if this was a waste of both their times.

Just as quickly as he wondered that, Ryder realized it wasn’t as if he had anything better to do. With the computers down, there was only the cleaning. The attempts to restore the mansion. Or to go into the city to purchase goods. Unhappy as he was with the realization, Ryder found he would not have wanted to be anywhere else than here with Alexandria pressed up against him.

Especially when she moved, fidgeting about as the priestess shifted about to look at something. Without a word, Ryder guided the beast closer in that direction and all the while he was lost to the feel of her bottom moving against his groin. His eyes grew heavy, the dark slits thinning out with desire. If she looked at him now, would Alexandria turn frightened to see that near blind look of lust on his face?

But she didn’t turn, didn’t even acknowledge the fact that his erection was pressing into her. He wondered what she thought of him in the moment, then nearly laughed. She probably thought him a pervert, a debauched, lecherous fool who was getting off on her close proximity to him. Or maybe she’d be pleased, liking the proof of how thoroughly she had bewitched him. But he couldn’t control that part of him, hadn’t been able to since meeting her.

His cock wanted inside of her. Wanted to feel her warmth, feel her squeezing around him. It actually twitched in violent reaction to his thoughts, Ryder clenching his teeth angrily. Damn her. Damn her for trying to make a fool out of him. He was no woman’s fool, no longer so new, so green to sex that he could end up in thrall to anyone, let alone a mouthy priestess. And yet his body was trying to make him her slave, lusting so strongly after her! If he couldn’t find an outlet in her body, he knew he would erupt soon, lash out in violence to any convenient target that came along.

He had almost done so this morning, seeing all those eager males surrounding the priestess’ seat. Watching them openly flirt with her, some of them laying hands on her. It had been relatively innocent touches, and still it made his anger flare up. Ryder had wanted to beat each and every one of those males, hurt anyone who had so much as looked at Alexandria. It wasn’t like him at all. Since when did he get jealous, since when did he get possessive over a woman?!

“Witch.” He hissed into her ear. She twitched. Was it the word that had upset her, or had she reacted to his breath caressing over her ear? But Alexandria didn’t respond, didn’t acknowledge what he had called her. He wasn’t sure if he was relieved or angry to be ignored, Ryder grinding his teeth together in response to her silence. She was set on ignoring him, and that was almost intolerable. Ryder wanted Alexandria to be aware of him, to suffer the same slow burn he was going through. Lust or anger, or even a combination of both. He’d be happy just so long as she was going through similar!

He thought to provoke her. He thought to taunt her with how she had bewitched all the unattached males at the mansion. He was ready to accuse her of witchcraft, and opened his mouth to growl. But then she was speaking, his words abruptly cutting off in his sudden eagerness to hear what Alexandria had to say.

“We should check the crop fields.” The priestess suggested. “They may have been growing more than just food there.”

It was as good a suggestion as any, Ryder grumbling as he guided the beast to turn. To the east of them, they could see the golden stalks of wheat. Ryder didn’t know much about the land’s layout beyond the mansion, but he knew enough to recognize the signs. If wheat was growing there, other things might as well. He urged the horse like creature to trot faster, Ryder not sure if he wanted this excursion over with or to have it be never ending.

Again that silence descended between them. The priestess seemed content to maintain it, as though she didn’t want to bother with Ryder. That thought annoyed him, Ryder thinking she damn well better, considering how bothered she made him FEEL.

“You’re causing quite a stir at the mansion.” He said out loud. “I haven’t seen the men stirred up like this in quite some time.”

“I’m sure once the novelty of my presence fades, they will calm down.”

“It won’t if you keep shamelessly flirting with them.” He smirked in response to her outraged gasp. He caught sight of an emerald colored glare, Alexandria turning to look at him over her shoulder.

“I am doing no such thing!”

“Aren’t you?” Ryder demanded. “You’re allowing them far too many liberties. Allowing them to touch you…to look at you.”

“It was only my hand.” She protested, then narrowed her eyes. “I’ve shown them nothing, done nothing to encourage them!”

“And yet you do nothing to discourage the attention.” He smugly pointed out. “You let them fawn over you. Not only at breakfast, but at dinner last night. Let them fall over each other to be of use to you!”

Her pretty mouth had fallen open, Alexandria seeming to sputter in response. Lord help him, but he wanted to kiss her silent in the moment. To thrust his tongue inside that lush mouth, and eat up any sounds she might make. Ryder bet she was a squealer, and he wanted to hear her squeal in response to his lust.

“It’s sickening that display.” He continued out loud. “The way you use them….”

“Use them?” She questioned sharply, having recovered enough to speak.

“For any and everything.” Ryder accused. “You’re wrapping them around your fingers…” Her pretty, delicate little fingers. “Is this another scheme of yours and the princess? You think to bamboozle these men into helping you escape?”

“Unlike you, I do not lie and manipulate!” She exclaimed fiercely. “I do nothing more than offer them my friendship.”

“Friendship?” Tone insolent, he arched an eyebrow. “Is that what you’re calling it?” He caught her by the wrist before she could slap him, the priestess far too quick to react in violence for someone who was supposed to be holy.

“How dare you!” She hissed, angry and haughty in the moment. “I don’t know why you think the worst of me, but I will not have you project any further your perversions on myself and my actions! Let go!” Alexandria was pulling back on her hand, trying desperately to get free. If he let go of her now, she might topple from the beast’s back. Ryder wasn’t about to risk her hurting herself in anyway, the Drule adjusting his grip so that his arm curled around her waist. She turned even angrier in response to that, seeming not to realize the danger she was in of falling.

Indeed, the instant he released her wrist, Alexandria started to slip. Only his arm about her waist kept her in place, but did he get any thanks for his trouble? No. She only glared at him harder, eyes looking like burning emerald flames. Damn but he found her even more attractive when she was angry, some sick part of him enjoying the glares she gave him.

“This day cannot end soon enough for my liking.” Alexandria finally muttered. Ryder couldn’t quite agree with her, his emotions and desires a conflicting mess. He both wanted near the priestess, and away from her. Both options seemed equally maddening!

“Better hurry up and find those plants then.” Ryder told her. She had already turned forward, presumedly searching around them. The stalks of wheat loomed closer, tall enough to come up to a Drule male’s waist. Beyond them they could see the crop fields, and even a ramshackle building. It wasn’t big enough to be a barn. Ryder wondered if it as some kind of tool shed, and spied a dilapidated wheelbarrow overturned in front of it.

The sky above them was overcast. Only a few white clouds remained, many of the others turning darker in color. It looked like a storm was developing, though he had yet to hear the rumble of thunder. This excursion might be cut short even sooner if it started to rain, Ryder having no desire to remain outside and get wet. He realized if they didn’t find those herbs, Qualenn would most likely send them out an another time. Damn him, but he felt the excited beat of his heart quicken at the thought of having another excuse to spend time alone with Alexandria.

She was back to holding herself absolutely still, Alexandria without comment about the state of his body. Even still as a statue she affected him, Ryder gritting his teeth together and forcing himself to look elsewhere. To try and concentrate on the landscape rather than her sweet scent, and even sweeter body pressed against his. The crop fields were overrun, no neat lines of things growing. Instead they were mixed together, as though the seedlings had been blown all over each other thanks to the wind. Ryder couldn’t identify all the crops. Some of the things growing were foods he had never seen before, or things he had only ever seen once they had been processed. He was no farmer, and planet Doom was not a fertile world. A less traveled Drule wouldn’t even be able to identify half of what had grown here.

“Stop the beast!” Alexandria suddenly said. Her tone was urgent. She had spotted something of interest.

Wordlessly, Ryder pulled on the reins, the creature abruptly snorting in response. But it stopped, Alexandria shifting, ready to climb off it’s back. He barely had time to get off himself, the priestess already slipping off the barrel like body of the beast. Ryder felt annoyed by her haste, realizing she had purposefully done it so as to avoid his hands on her body assisting her down.

Sullen, he held onto the reins of the beast. Watching as Alexandria hurried over to a colorful patch of flowers. They were delicate looking buds, colored a faint blue though sometimes they ran a shade closer to purple. Alexandria got down on her knees, her elegant looking hands gracefully touching the flowers.

“Find something?” Ryder finally asked, watching as she broke the thin stem and brought one of the flowers up to her face. She actually inhaled it’s scent, before nodding.

“Yes. Blue lobelia.” She glanced towards him. “It’s a useful plant, a cure for all. It’s been used for just about everything….”

“Everything eh? Such as…?”

“Breathing problems.” She told him. “We are very fortunate to find this, and find an abundance of them. Blue Lobelia is an expensive commodity here on Simestia.” She began picking more of the flower, placing them inside the small basket Qualenn had given her.

“That’s good then.” Ryder didn’t offer to help her pick, instead turning to look around them. There was other flowers nearby, leaving him to wonder if they were anything of importance. “The prince will be glad to save the money the plant would have cost us.”

“There’s enough here, that you could make a small fortune selling it in the city.” Alexandria said. “Qualenn will have more then enough for her own purposes.”

He glanced back at Alexandria, who somehow was managing to keep her hands from getting dirty as she handled the flowers. Her basket’s bottom was already lined with a good amount of the lobelia. If she kept on picking the flower, she wouldn’t have any room for any other plants. Alexandria seemed to realize that at the same time he did, the priestess suddenly rising from her kneeling position. Her movements were graceful, Alexandria beginning to gravitate towards a different cluster of flowers.

He followed after her, leading their mount by the reins. The plants Alexandria was now eyeing, was small and trumpet shaped. A vivid orange color with red spots splattered over the petals. She began gathering them, waiting until Ryder was close enough to hear her quiet murmur. “Jewelweed. Useful for burns and cuts. Not as expensive as the blue lobelia though.”

“But still useful.” Ryder noted, watching as she picked an adequate amount. It was like this that they would traverse the farmstead, Alexandria examining the plants that grew scattered across the crop fields. She’d talk as she picked them, explaining to Ryder what they were, and how they could be best used. Ryder wasn’t much for botany, but he found when Alexandria wasn’t arguing or being defiant, her voice was infinitely more pleasant to listen to. Soothing even.

Over by the ramshackle building, there was vines growing up one wall. It had the oddest mix of flowers and what appeared to be fruit growing from it’s stems. What he thought was fruit, was about the size of an egg, a yellow green color that made him think it hadn’t ripened yet. But that wasn’t the weird part to it’s appearance. The flower was predominately purple, whose petals were string like. The center was yellow, and had a green protrusion extending out at least half an inch. It truly looked alien in appearance, leaving Ryder to wonder what it was.

“Passiflora incarnata.” Alexandria said from behind him. He turned, seeing her basket was nearly full. Overhead, they could heard the faint rumble of thunder. The storm was coming and coming soon judging by how close the next rumble followed.

“Passiflora what?”

“Commonly known as passion flower.” She told him. “It’s helps with insomnia and seizures.”

“So we should get some of that.” Ryder decided. “But why is it known as a passion flower?”

“In it’s undiluted state, it’s been known to be a powerful aphrodisiac.” She explained. “Of course, using it in that way has been outlawed in nearly all the cities on Simestia.”

“Outlawed? It’s that powerful?” Ryder asked. A nod was his only answer, Alexandria walking over to the vines, ready to harvest some of the odd looking flower. The thunder rumbled even louder, their ride snorting nervously. The dabbled stallion would actually paw at the ground, Ryder having to put a hand on it’s snout to calm him down.

Alexandria avoided picking the fruit, taking only the flowers. Her basket was more than full now, and even if she saw something else, the priestess simply wouldn’t have the room to carry it.

“Let’s go.” Ryder said, gesturing for her to approach the horse like creature. She was looking up at the sky with a frown on her face, distracted when Ryder put his hands around her waist. He got the satisfaction of hearing her startled gasp, Ryder starting to lift her up towards the creature’s back. It was then that it happened, a crack of thunder so loud, it seemed to deafen him for a moment.

The stallion reared in response to that loud noise, letting out a high pitched scream as it pawed the air with it’s hooves. Alexandria hadn’t yet been on it’s back, Ryder quickly snatching her away from the panicking beast. Her basket ended up on the ground, it and the herbs being trampled under the hooves of the creature. Ryder could remember shouting at the frightened creature, but his words were lost to the loud boom of thunder and the beast’s screams.

Alexandria was in his arms, the woman having twisted so that she faced him. But she wasn’t looking at him, instead burying her face against his chest. Her arms were around him, and they were trembling with her fright. She had realized how close to disaster she had come. Alexandria could have been thrown from the back of the beast, or trampled under it’s hooves.

Even now the creature continued to go crazy, Ryder losing hold of the reins to hold his hands protectively over Alexandria’s back. He was forced to retreat in order to avoid the lashing hooves. Lightning sparked in the sky, and then the rain came. Sudden and hard, they were soaked within seconds. Alexandria still didn’t look up, the creature letting out one last scream before it bolted away from them.

Ryder wasn’t sure what was going on. Why the beast had reacted in such a manner to the thunder. But he didn’t know much about it’s temperament, didn’t even know the proper name for it’s species. For all he knew, it could be the type of beast to be overly sensitive to loud noises, to the point it frightened so easily. Whatever the case, he was supremely grateful they hadn’t been on it’s back when the thunder began booming so loud.

He also realize they were pretty much stranded for the moment. The mansion was several miles away, and Ryder wasn’t about to walk that far in this kind of storm. He held back his curses, and adjust his grip on Alexandria so that he held her in a carry. Holding her that way, he began to make a mad dash towards the ramshackle building. He was about to discover if it was really a tool shed or not, Ryder knowing it was the only thing in sight that would offer them coverage from the storm. He’d kick in the rotting door, wondering if and how this day could get any worse.

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