The Gods were angry.
Armitage and every other person that lived in the hills overlooking Gwynedd could attest to that. The rainfall that summer had promised, was sparse, the ground dry and cracked, their crop withered and disappointing. Once what was a lush emerald green soaring hills, was now yellow scorched land and unpromising.
Many had attested this change of favour with the current king's philandering behaviour, or perhaps it was his misuse of local taxes, or his attempt at war mongering with England. Either way it had been decided by King Hux and his council that to appease the Gods, a sacrifice would be made to the Pwca, the guardians of the forest, in the hope that it would win them favour.
Logically, Armitage agreed. A sacrifice usually appeased any angry spirit; He was just infuriated that it would be him being sacrificed.
Despite having a head for arithmetics, Armitage still knew the stories of what lurked in the deep dark wood, that encroached on the crest of the hill at the other side of the valley. As soon as you were able to walk, you were made aware of the rank smell that would cloud your senses, and sharp claws that were itching to debowel you with one furious swipe of a hideously hairy muscled arm. Watching you bleed to death with a pair of red evil eyes, cackling as you pitifully tried to escape. That was if you were lucky. If you were pure and untouched, like Armitage, you had a fate far worse. Armitage shuddered at the thought and tried to banish any gory details from his mind.
Naked he had been painted by the seer with gold intricate swirls and prayers asking for blessings from the Gods. The priestess had chanted throughout his misery, anointing him with dabs of oil, fragrant with sacred herbs, on his forehead, over his heart and in between his legs. Armitage had tried not to squirm. Despite the humiliation and the heartache this was causing him, he was determined not to let it show. His father may be robbing him of his future, but he sweared by Amaethon he wasn’t going to let his terror show and give his father the satisfaction.
His fiery locks were slicked back (“so the spirit can see your pretty face”, the priestess had cooed) held in place with a thin band of gold. Covered in a thick white chiton that smelt like freshly spun cotton and sunshine, that cut off at the knee. On any other day Armitage would have been preening on what a figure he cut, but as of now he could barely contain a grimace.
The king laid his hand on son’s shoulder, and Armitage tried not to snarl into his imposing bearded face. “Armitage, my son. You do your people a great service, nobly sacrificing yourself for the future of this kingdom. Creyr will look upon you kindly when you meet him in the next world.”
Before he could think of a biting retort or attempt to spit in his father’s face, the king signalled to the priestess to start humming chants, which were followed by the blaring of horns and the banging of drums. Any fiery remark that Armitage wanted to hurl at his father dies in his throat as he is pushed into a carriage, wrists bound chafing at the skin, mind blank as waves of cheers roll through the town as he passes by with only two servants that drive the coach for company.
The chaos and the fear that is growing in his chest sucks him dry from any chance of rational thinking, leaving him numb. So numb that it takes him awhile to realise that the noise of the city has disappeared, and they are well on their way travelling steadily up the spine of the valley. Armitage isn't quite sure what he hates more, the relieved cheers of the masses or the eerily still quiet of the hills, because now it is here that he can think and realise how real it all is.
The sunset kisses the land goodbye as it slips below the horizon, leaving him with the servants’ fire torches to see the path ahead. Pulling up to a sheltered grove, the servants drag him from the carriage, frog marching him inside a cave that is already lit. Blood splatters already mark the walls, making Armitage’s heart stutter, wondering if this will be his fate too. Deeper into the cave is littered with trinkets: jade beads, jewel encrusted mirrors, small wooden carvings of nymphs, furs of deer and elk.
The Pwca that haunt the mountaintops of Armitage’s homeland are shape changers with no solid form; This spirit could appear as a rabid dog or particularly aggressive goat or a more nightmarish combination of both. Wicked minded and fiercely protective of their nature, Armitage starts to regret advising his father not to follow the tradition of allowing the Pwca’s share of the last year’s harvest, and had instead encouraged the local farmers to collect all the grain, leaving none for the local spirits. It had seemed a practical decision before, but now as sweat starts to bud at his forehead and his hands tremble with barely suppressed fright, small niggling thoughts of regret bite away at him.
In the midst of this array of wealth is a stone tablet surrounded by flickering candles, that give the cave an earthy glow. Armitage takes a shuddering breath as the servants manhandle him into the metal shackles that dangle off the side of the slab. Satisfied with the security of the cuffs, the servants make a swift exit leaving Armie alone.
Wiggling onto his side Armitage manages to sit up without aggravating the cuts in his wrist further. Apart from his own shaky breaths and the crackle of the burning candles, all is silent. Time ticks by, planting seeds of hope in his chest that maybe the spirit no longer patronages this dwelling anymore, and in a few days time his father will send men to check if the spirit has been satisfied and will find him whole and alive.
This hope quickly wilts at the sight of a insidious shadow creeping along the cave wall, followed by some deep throaty breaths that make the hair on the back of Armitage’s neck stand up. The tension is too much for him that he shuts his eyes and tries to will the spirit away with pure thought alone. The sound of a heavy tread of feet on the cold stone ground meet his ears, growing closer finally stopping in front of him. Mint and thyme tickle at his nose calming his heart beat, his eyes flutter open as he feels a large cool hand turn his head. Before him stands a man, naked he looks like he’s been carved out of marble, every muscle, the slope of his shoulders, the smoothness of his chest makes Armie’s fingers itch in want of touching. His mouth waters.
Anointed on his head stand a pair of antlers, proud and strong, the same colour as the man’s eyes, an entrancing shade of hazel; They make him look like a king. The creature grins above him, beautifully devastating, with pearly teeth, stroking Armitage’s jawline, feeling the curl of his neck as Armitage leans back slightly to take in the full image that is this man. His skin prickles with fear.
The deer man kneels before him, with a careless wave of his wrist the shackles come adone. Grimacing at the circulation that he has regained, Armitage makes a move to shuffle away. Seeing his intention, the creature grabs his waist anchoring him, surveying him with an unreadable look. He leans in, looms closer, subtly scenting him. Armitage shrinks back.
The beast frowns. He places his hands on Armitage’s knees and attempts to open them, but is met with a muffled snort of indignation from Armitage as he tries to keep his chiton covering his legs as much as possible. The creature leans back, frown deeperning. "You give yourself to me?” His voice is deep and smooth and the intensity of his gaze makes a blush spread down from Armitage’s face down to his shoulders.
“My father says I must.”
“You do not agree with your father?” The creature asked, fingers delicately tracing Armitage’s hands, travelling up his wrists resting at the bend of his elbows, pressing his thumbs into the warm soft flesh.
Armitage audible swallowed, he was not accustomed to be touched let alone openly wanted. His heartbeat thuds against his ribcage betraying how much the intensity of the beast’s touches are effecting him, cheeks starting to get hotter, clashing with his hair. He decides to answer honestly, maybe he can get the beast to sympathise with him. “I wanted a bit more to life than a virgin sacrifice to a satyr. I wanted the ability to wield power across my father’s land, shape the country in a way I deemed fit,” Armitage said, “Be free of a Marionette's strings.”
The beast’s eyes haven’t left his face, little gold flecks illuminated by candlelight flicker in his eyes like glimmers of trapped sunlight. His hands cupping Armitage’s shoulders, large and cool making the back of his neck prickle with heat. “I’m not a satyr. I’m a Pwca or Bucca, whatever your people call me, and who's to say I can’t give you all that?” The beast has moved closer now, close enough that one of his antlers brushes his cheek as the beast leans up to scent his neck. His hair is sea of dark curls, shiny and impossibly soft. A large nose tickles his skin and a pair of lips smile into his collarbone with a small hint of teeth, Armitage swallows desperately and tries unsuccessfully to control his breathing and prevent any embarrassing panting.
“I’ve waited along time for you,” the beast whispers into his skin, large fingers dance across his neck tapping against his hummingbird pulse. His touch is gentle, as is Armitage was worth being gentle with. “You please me.”
“I can’t imagine why”, Armitage shakily replied. Leaning back to take him in, the beast remains silent, eyes dancing with mirth. Hands still stroking his neck as if reluctant to be apart from Armitage.
The closest he gets to physical contact at home is a rare pat on the shoulder from his father when they are in public, and the bi-yearly hug he gets from his mother who lives in the kitchens when he is permitted to see her, hands cracked from scrubbing the castle’s floors and face lined with years of hardship, but nevertheless will always provide a loving embrace when she can. But this touch is a different creature. There is a hunger in this beast’s eyes that is one of possession and relief, perhaps relief of the burden of being lonesome so long? Regardless, Armitage teeters on the edge of leaning into the touch or running for the hills, but there’s a very small part of him that preens slightly at the thought of bringing this beast to his knees, hungry with want.
“If you became mine, I’d give you everything,” the beast continues, “my power, my soul, my treasures.” Eyes drifting from his face, the beast's gaze linger on the gold fastening at his shoulder, with a treacherous snap they unlatch, letting the material pool at Armitage’s elbows, chest exposed to the cool air of the cave.
The beast lets out a happy hum, clearly pleased with Armitage’s unblemished creamy skin. Frail and slender he hadn’t considered his body much to brag about, content with his more than agile mind, but with the look that is been bestowed upon him one of admiration and desire, it makes him wonder maybe he has been presumptuous.
“I like these,” the beasts murmurs quietly more to himself that Armitage. Sensitive and touch starved, Armitage withered at the onslaught of soft lips and a impish tongue tormenting his chest. Small and pert, his nipples change from a soft pink to a blushing red as they are licked and suckled into a warm wet mouth. Breathing hard he attempts to unsuccessfully stifle a moan that is ripped from his throat.
In response he feels the beast smile cruelly into his skin, pleased with his reaction. Eyes closed, little sparks dance behind his eyes as the beast uses his other hand to toy with his other neglected nipple. The left hand is not idle either, tethering Armitage’s waist to prevent any wiggling away he might have done. Body tense in pleasure, Armitage almost lets a whine of frustration as the beast stops his administrations and lets his fingertips tap a feather like touch across Armitage’s collarbone and down the side of his ribs.
“ You’re built like a little bird,” he smiles all teeth, “ I could just eat you up.”
“Please don't”, Armitage asked breathlessly.
The monster only bares his teeth in response, eyes dancing with amusement. “What do you say my little bird, stay here with me and you can enjoy the fruits of my labour and never have to bow or scrape to a lesser being ever again.”
Dazed Armitage frowned, shaking his head to clear his thoughts, his warm breath clouding in the cold cave. “What would that entail exactly?”
The beast takes a moment before answering, instead crowding him down on to the stone slab, that are blessedly covered in an array of furs that protect Armitage’s back from the cold. The beast manhandles him with ease, positioning his legs at either side of his powerful thighs, cock poking unapologetically against his hip, his face hovering over Armitage’s, thick twisted anterlors casting a tangle of shadows across the cave wall. Rumbling low in the beast’s chest, the beast looks at him as if he's a delicacy waiting to be consumed. “Be mine, let me have you and love me unconditionally.”
Anxiety, anger and regret rolled like a wave in his stomach, but Armitage found that fear was not among them. It wasn’t the path he would have chosen, but with powers that not even his father could have dreamed of, he felt inclined to accept.
“Will I regret it?”
“Probably.” Nipping the base of Armitage’s throat and soothing the bite with a reassuring kiss.
Armitage swallowed, his head abuz from the heady intoxicating feel from the heavy reassuring weight that was the beast’s body. Eyes closed he gave a small conceding nod.
“I’m strong, quick to anger and possessive,” the beast warned. “ I don’t like anyone touching what's mine, and if you lay with another I will know and I will kill you.”
He growled for emphasis, his teeth on full display, but abruptly stopped at the sound of Armitage’s laughter, tugging him down by his ridiculous hair so they could kiss. As if he would ever lay with another, no one else could hold a candle to this beast.
The beast started to pet at the soft skin at the back of his neck, scratching lightly at the base where it met his shoulder making Armitage’s stomach twist in pleasure. He accepted the caress, pushing his neck further into the beast’s hands, lips locked in a warm moist kiss that was deliciously unhurried. Their silhouettes illuminated the cave, withering in each other’s embrace; A tangle of limbs. The rest of the night Armitage’s body was responsive and greedy, taking any pleasure that the beast selflessly gave. Unnoticed the candles soon burnt down to stubs as Armitage jerked and moaned in pleasure, pressing back into the beast’s touch with equal desperation, begging and pleading for more.
The early rays of the morning sun expose the damage that the beast has inflicted on his body. Bruised skin and bite marks have been lovingly placed on his chest and neck. Hovering tenderly over him, the beast runs his hands over Armitage’s side checking for any significant damage. In deep slumber, his flame sleeps on, unguarded and soft. Purring with satisfaction, the beast slips a hand between his thighs, eager to feel evidence of their past mating.
Glancing up at his mate’s face, he is surprised to find a pair of delicate eyes tracking his movements. The beast tips his head to a side to nonverbally ask ‘well?’ His mate’s smile is small, but it warms his fern green eyes, they are fond and exasperated, thus sending a dart of joy within the beast’s chest. Leering, he shifts the redhead on to his front, exposing his plush swell of ass. Round and perky he squeezes it in rhythmic pulses. Raw and soft, his mate melts into the furs that form their bed, accepting any pleasure the beast gives him, with only a welcoming sigh slipping from his lips.
Enveloped in heat, the pwca and the exiled prince were now bond, no longer lost or forgotten. All future lonesome nights have been banished as they now have each other.