They swooped down onto the mountainside, and in that moonless night the light the crowned one shed turned the jumble of bare rock to shifting bars of black shadow. When the snow-white bull put its head down and charged the cliff face, the earth shook and crumbled. Beneath that blow the mountain split in two, revealing a deep ravine.
The eagle had dropped its prey as they landed. Now the lion, crimson and pinioned with flame like a phoenix, went over to the unconscious man. He was already bleeding from dozens of places, and his hands and feet were tied together with slick red cords. The lion stooped its huge head and closed its jaws about the man’s shoulder and chest, lifting him. As the teeth bit into his flesh, the prisoner moaned in pain.
The crowned and shining figure led the way into the mountain cleft and the lion followed, dragging their captive across the broken stones. The bull brought up the rear.
They took him deep into the mountain, to a place where a great rock lay fallen, and they laid him on his back across the stone like a sacrifice upon an altar. Then the burning seraph untied his hands and feet enough to spread his limbs out. The broken man looked tiny beneath their huge, effulgent forms. Their light bleached him of color.
With hooves of glittering diamond, the winged bull stamped the loose ends of the bloody rope into the stone, and the rock gave like dough beneath the blows and then closed up around the tethers, holding the man fast. He roused from unconsciousness as his last limb was pinned, and lifted his head, screaming defiance and spitting blood, then arching his back and trying to tear free from his bonds.
The crowned figure stepped back a little, as if to protect its shining robes that glittered with all the colors of precious stones, from the spatter of blood and sweat and spittle.
But the eagle hopped closer. It darted its hooked beak to the prisoner’s stretched stomach and tore open the skin, rummaging about in the bloody entrails within and pulling shreds out through the open wound.
Their captive screamed in pain, and the earth shuddered.
They left him there, vanishing from within the bowels of the mountain and reappearing outside in a sunburst of glory. With a wave of his hand, the crowned one closed the mountain up once more.
The lion disappeared.
The eagle disappeared.
The bull disappeared.
The seraph lingered a moment, thoughtfully.
It started to rain. Softly at first, but then hard and steady, like it would
And I woke up, hands clenched so tight that my nails had dug into my palms, my body aching with tension from my spasming muscles. The pillow slip under my cheek was soggy with tears.
What was it I had been dreaming? The last shreds of vision flickered away into the dark. Something awful, I thought, feeling my heart pound. Something about rain?
Outside the window of my Boston student apartment, the rain fell like it wanted to drown the world.
Janine Ashbless is a writer of fantasy erotica and steamy romantic adventure – and that’s “fantasy” in the sense of swords ‘n’ sandals, contemporary paranormal, fairytale, and stories based on mythology and folklore. She likes to write about magic and mystery, dangerous power dynamics, borderline terror, and the not-quite-human.
Janine has been seeing her books in print ever since 2000, and her novels and single-author collections now run into double figures. She’s also had numerous short stories published by Black Lace, Nexus, Cleis Press, Ravenous Romance, Harlequin Spice, Storm Moon, Xcite, Mischief Books, and Ellora’s Cave among others. She is co-editor of the nerd erotica anthology Geek Love.
Her work has been described as: "hardcore and literate" (Madeline Moore) and "vivid and tempestuous and dangerous, and bursting with sacrifice, death and love." (Portia Da Costa)
Amazon UK Author Page
Amazon US Author Page