Rights is a Shadow Sprawl story by Terri Pray.
Artwork by Samuel Pray using Daz 3d and Photoshop
"We can't keep moving around like this, always running from one place to another," Caine leaned against the trunk of a large tree, relaxing in the shade that the wide spread branches. "You can't keep up, that much is painfully obvious. The birth -it's coming soon, isn't it?" He turned, letting his gaze move over the darkly beautiful form of his mate, lingering on her swollen belly. His child, within her body his child -a son- grew, preparing to enter the world. A boy. It would have to be a boy. Lilith had spoken about a daughter, but he knew better. The life within Lilith was strong, active and it had to be a boy. A son he could teach, protect, and introduce to the world as his heir. The first of their kind...
No, Lilith was the first, and then she made me. She brought me into the darkness, bathed me in blood and remade me, yet I'm still weaker than she is - or so she says. She's wrong - of course - I'm the stronger one out of the pair of us - that's the nature of things, the male is always the stronger of the pair. Yet she insists she is the stronger. Did he believe the lies she told him? No, but that didn't prevent her from repeating them any time he spoke out against them. Stubborn female, after so many years together he had hoped she would begin to accept the truth, yet she still fought him. Well, once the child was born, he'd take a firmer hand with her, or he'd begin to look for another mate. One more willing to bend to his wishes.
He didn't look at Lilith for a moment, the woman always seemed to know what he was thinking - or at least did when it was the least convenient for Caine. Better to hide what he could from the woman, at least until she changed once the child was born. Her focus would be their son and she'd finally allow him to lead their small, but growing, family. The first of his children, but not the last - even if he had to choose a different woman to bring the rest into this world. Would a child born of a turned woman be as strong as one born of Lilith? He frowned at the thought - the only way to be certain was to get another child on Lilith and one on a turned woman so he could watch them grow together. It would be an interesting experiment, one he was quite willing to attempt.
Their son would be different though. Born of their union, a strong son to bring light and joy to their bond. Born with their shared power, brought into the world with all the blessings of their kind, and none of the weaknesses of Adam's children. Their son would rule not just their family, but the world - and there was nothing Adam or his line could do to prevent it.
His jaw clenched at the thought of his father. Still alive and no doubt angry with him for killing Abel. That was an action his parents would never forgive him for - though he'd never been foolish enough to return home and ask them for himself. What would happen if he tried? Was there a chance he'd be accepted, forgiven and welcomed home?
No. What I did... in killing Abel... they'll never forgive me for that.
It didn't matter now, he wasn't like them anymore. Caine swallowed a growl and rolled out his shoulders in an attempt to hide the tension that tightened his back. He'd been marked and changed - and he'd embraced this change with open arms. Their God, their beliefs were no longer a part of his life and forgiveness - no, he wanted nothing from them especially their worthless forgiveness. They had other children, and grandchildren now - perhaps great-grandchildren and more, they didn't need or want him.
If he even attempted to approach the tribes of Adam openly, they'd try to kill him and his new family. Not a risk he could take. Besides, what good would it do him? Their blood - it was weak, lacked taste and although he could live on it - it left him, and those like him, wanting. Those with magic in their blood, however, left him satisfied, but hunting them down wasn't easy.
I will protect them, all of them and I'll find a way to provide for them. Lilith will come to accept my leadership once I prove to her that she can lean on me in all things. He glanced at his wife and smiled. Soon he would smile down at his own child, a son, strong and handsome, ready to take on the world but first he needed to survive the birth.
"Tired," Lilith murmured.
"You can't give birth out here," he frowned. The risk to the child increased if they didn't find a safe place for the arrival. The weight of time pressed down, threatening to consume him until he shook it off. I won't fail, not in this. My child will be safe. Even if it costs me Lilith, my child will survive. He didn't need anything else, now that he had successfully turned a few of Adam's line. Not all of them had survived, but enough that he knew that he could manage without her.
No, I don't want to lose her, not yet at least. She could change, accept me, and then we will be stronger.
Lilith rubbed one hand against the small of her back. Smudges of dirt marred her hands and cheeks, and dirt had buried itself under her fingernails. "Agreed, we need a place to rest, to call home." She offered a small smile marred by deep lines of weariness around her eyes and across her pale brow. "I don't think I can go on without resting. At least, not now."
Was carrying a child really so tiring? Women were designed to carry children, surely this should be a natural process for them. He forced himself to look at her face and acknowledge the changes that had taken place over the past few months. Dirt, shadows and strain that marred her otherwise beautiful features. Lilith didn't let herself get this way, not normally. She bathed, frequently. Kept her head held high and didn't show her weaknesses.
"Do you need to feed?" Providing for her, that was one of the things he could, and would, do for her - even if she protested. "I can bring you something." Instincts warred between the need to protect his mate, and the need to find a place for them to rest, to call home for a time. Perhaps something more permanent than a handful of nights?
A home. We need a true home. A place where I can protect the young and the rest of the family. A place where I can establish my rights to lead this family.
With a small groan Lilith eased down onto the ground, her long, dark hair slipping loose from the simple braid. "Yes... thank you. That would help right now. I'm wearier than I ever thought possible." She closed her eyes and rested against the trunk of a large tree. "I never realized that carrying a child would be so tiring, or painful." She winced and pressed one hand against the swollen mound. "I swear this one is ready to kick it's way out."
"Do you need blood or...?" Blood didn't answer all needs, but he presumed that would be the answer. Still, pregnant females were known to make strange choices when it came to food and drink.
"I'll need blood within a day or two, but until then fruit - something sweet and ripe..." Lilith lifted her gaze for a moment before lowering it once more. Dark hair slipped down over her eyes, but it did little to hide the shadows under her eyes or the way her skin pulled tight against her skull. "It should help. At least, I think it will."
Odd, when she'd first turned him, the idea of eating something had repulsed him. The need for blood had consumed him, driving his every movement, but that had passed and now - like Lilith and the few others they had turned - he ate normal food. His need for blood dictated by how hard he worked, or dealing with an injury. He didn't understand entirely how it worked, but had come to accept it - still, her choice was an odd one. "Are you sure?"
She nodded, a loose strand of night dark hair slid down over her left eye at the movement. "Yes, fruit - the child requires fruit."
"Then I'll find some for you," he searched through the trees until one of the males that Lilith had turned, caught his gaze. "Mikel, stay with her."
"Of course," Mikel eased close, his steps near silent despite the heavy fall that littered the forest floor. "I'll keep them safe," he nodded in the direction of Lilith's swollen belly.
"Good." If Mikel failed then he would die, that much was understood between the pair of them. He turned his attention back to Lilith. "I won't be long, wife."
A small twitch, little more than the flicker of a frown combined with the shifting of weight from one foot to the other, was the only sign of disapproval from Mikel. No doubt at the lack of tenderness in Caine's words and tone. Not that the male's approval mattered to Caine, Mikel was, after all, sworn to Lilith because his mate had turned him.
Without another word he turned, moving through the trees at a steady jog. Fruit, his wife wanted fruit, then he would find some and bring it to her. Apples perhaps, or berries of some kind, both should have been easy enough to find at this time of the year. The small wild grape vines were common place in such landscapes. It would be a small thing to bring to his wife but if it helped her through the final stages of her pregnancy, then it was worth a hunt through the forest if only to prove to the others in their small group that he was capable of taking care of his wife.
How long he hunted before he found the strong and heavy vine, Caine couldn't say, but the sight of the small blueish purple fruit hanging in bundles across the length of the vine drew a sigh of relief from his pursed lips. He glanced up through the trees, tracking the passage of the sun across the sky. Foolish, it shouldn't have taken him this long to find food for his wife - now she would have something to complain about when he returned with the grapes. With a low snarl he gathered the grapes, piling them into a make shift sack of cured leather before he bound the top with sinew and straightened up once more.
A sound, little more than a whisper, drew his attention away from the vine.
Long of hair, and longer of limb, the form moved through the trees, her steps light and carefree as she ran. He set the bag down, letting his attention be drawn by the female who ran through the forest, darting first this way and then that, circling a large tree even as she reached out and touched a younger tree with the tips of her fingers.
What is she? Not a daughter of Eve, of that he was certain. The scent, and it grew stronger the closer she came to him, spoke of water, fresh running water and what she wore, which was little enough, rippled and clung to her form, calling to him as his cock hardened, balls tightening to press against the base of his erection.
Nymph? The fresh scent, the ripple, those spoke of fast running water as it moved over rocks and pebbles, dancing and singing in the sunlight.
"Prey," he murmured, his voice low enough that he knew the Nymph wouldn't hear him. Pretty prey that would take the edge off two hungers. Lilith wouldn't like it. She'd complain about the length of time he was gone, would say he was forgetting his duty to her and those he'd left behind - but as long as he brought the grapes back to her then what right did she have to nag him?
Weren't women supposed to be meek, mild and submissive? Wasn't it his right to do as he wished, when he wished, with no woman to tell him when, where and how? His jaw clenched. Lilith refused to accept the rules, fought him every step of the way, and even with the coming birth she'd remained stubbornly set in her ways.
Any thoughts he had about his pregnant mate, and the promise to bring her something to eat, faded as he shifted his weight and slowly moved through the trees until he found a place where he could watch the female. His nostrils flared as he took in her scent, tasting the magic and sex that combined to shroud the beautiful creature.
The woman laughed, the sound carrying through the air as she reached up and caught a low branch of an old, moss covered tree. He didn't move, couldn't move as he watched her. The way she moved, the sway of her hips and the play of her hair as it slid back and forth over her back. Blue, white, dark and light all rolled into one, he'd never seen such a mix of colors in hair, and her skin - dappled light and color rippled across her exposed flesh.
He'd have her, claim her, taste her blood and body both.
With a low growl he stepped out, moving from the shelter of the trees. Desire owned his steps and heat moved through his body as he watched her. She paused, turning toward him, her eyes widening in shock and knowledge. For a moment he assumed she'd run, and he relished the idea of the chase but it vanished in an instant.
The Nymph turned to face him, pushing her shoulders back, her full breasts pressing against the soft caress of the fabric that barely covered her enticing form. A smile claimed her sensual lips, light dancing in her eyes as she lifted one hand up, beckoning to him.
"Come to me."
Did she think him the prey? If so it would make this moment all the easier for him. It wouldn't be the first time one with magic in their blood had made such a mistake as his kind was still virtually unheard of. Their hunts were done with care, leaving little or no trace behind them, memories wiped, and those who were turned were reminded to never returning to their families.
Beautiful - and mine. Mine by right and there's nothing Lilith can do to stop me this time.
Rights takes place afterRebirth