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Apr 08

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Marking Territory

Summary:

(set after Wolf at the Door)

Johanna Brion and Agatha Westreich are pursued by hunters and canidae alike as they search for remnants of Simon’s group. They stop in a small town peopled by criminals to wait out a rainstorm and meet a potential new ally in their cause.

They had no allies.

Agatha anticipated being shunned by the packs they encountered no matter their affiliation. It didn’t matter if they had been for or against Simon’s crusade; the fact Agatha traveled with a human hunter was enough to make them turn their backs on her. They could smell Johanna’s scent on her skin and she was tainted in their eyes. They could stay in human villages for a time, but sooner or later a group of hunters would arrive and Johanna would decide it was time to move on. Word had spread among her former allies; Johanna Brion was a collaborator with the wulves. It didn’t matter if it was true; all a trained hunter had to do was look at Agatha to know what she was.

They kept on the move as much as possible, tracking down rumors and hints of rumors of canidae who were following Simon. They executed a wulf in Wolls, barely escaping before they were arrested for his murder. A group of hunters in Dierkow plied Johanna with drinks to gain her trust before one of them clubbed her on the back of the head. She regained consciousness just in time to find and rescue Agatha from being lynched.

During this time, Johanna and Agatha often camped under the stars or, when there was money enough, rented a room above local taverns. Their primal fucking gradually became more tentative lovemaking, tender explorations of each other’s bodies. Johanna had no doubt that she was in love with Agatha, and Agatha had made her own feelings clear on several occasions. Theirs wasn’t a love of commitments and vows; they both knew there would be nothing tying them together other than their growing affection for one another. Vows would have been stifling and would have killed whatever they had in its birthing stages.

The entrance to the town of Bardowiek was marked by matching redbrick towers on either side of the road. In days gone by, the towers had once held lanterns in their recessed alcoves, and a wooden gate had stretched across the road to deter unwelcome visitors. Now the gate was visible in the underbrush, knocked down and dragged out of the way by invaders. The lanterns hung dark and rusted on their hooks.

Johanna and Agatha walked into town with Johanna’s horse Gunther between them. His lead hung loose in Johanna’s right hand, an unnecessary precaution with the well-trained horse. She wore a heavy tunic with the hood pushed back to let the rain-heavy wind push through her dark hair. The strap of the leather bag holding her weapons crossed her chest, the bag itself knocking against her hip as she walked.

The rain was just starting to pick up, and evidence pointed toward a long string of storms rolling in from the sea. It had been Johanna’s idea to find a town to stop until the sun returned, and Bardowiek was her idea. Yet she still slowed as they approached the destroyed barrier and scanned the parts of town visible through the thick trees.

“Problem?” Agatha asked. Her clothing was much lighter, leaving her shoulders and most of her legs exposed in the event an unexpected change was required. Her blonde hair, a mess of curls that reached the small of her back when left untamed, was bound into twin braids that framed her face.

“I don’t like this town. I know it was my choice, but if there was another option…”

About a dozen years earlier, the people of Bardowiek had been run out of town by raiders. The few people who stayed behind to fight were slaughtered and buried in a large field outside of town. In the interim, the town had become a haven for criminals, deserting soldiers and escaped criminals. But they needed a place to stay for a while, and she only felt comfortable enough to relax in dens of iniquity like these.

That didn’t mean she had to like them.

Agatha looked at the sky. “We haven’t much choice, unless you want to get drowned on the road. Come on.”

Agatha continued forward, so Johanna moved to catch up with her. The main road was overgrown with thick weeds so they were forced to rely on the basalt stones at the road’s edge to know where it ended and the forest began. They soon began to pass stone houses fallen into disrepair. Smoke rose from chimneys that might topple in the next strong windstorm, and porches leaned dangerously to one side or the other. Once they reached the town square, the dirt road gave way to broken stretches of cobblestones.

Johanna handed the reins to Agatha and they split up to their own separate errands; Agatha would find a place to put Gunther up for the duration of their stay, and Johanna would find them food and shelter. Once they were apart, Johanna opened her back and dug until she found their bankroll. She unfolded the cloth and carefully counted the money. She kept it close to her body so no one would spot it and consider her an easy mark.

There was enough money for a few nights in a hostel. If they hunted for a few of their meals rather than buying them, they could stretch it a little farther. Agatha didn’t like dealing with money, and Johanna had an inkling that she couldn’t count very well. The topic embarrassed her, so Johanna rarely brought it up. She was more than happy to deal with the money and save Agatha the stress.

Like most of the towns where they’d found shelter, the tavern was the best preserved structure in town. Its four stories meant that it would tower over the surrounding architecture even if the other buildings weren’t swaybacked and forsaken by their owners. Johanna tucked her money back into her pouch, covering it with her weapons to dissuade pickpockets as she made her way to the bar.

She arranged the rental of a room on the third floor with the bartender in between his filling of mugs and ribald jokes from the men lining the bar. The one nearest to Johanna sidled closer, but she warned him off with a look that left little to the imagination. She bought a bottle of the liquor Agatha preferred and carried it outside to await her companion’s arrival. She leaned against the wall of the tavern, giving herself a clear view of the road Agatha would have to travel when she finished putting up Gunther.

“You’re not going to drink that all alone, are you?”

Johanna turned her head slowly to address the man who had joined her on the tavern’s front deck. He was a head taller than her, with brown hair cropped short. His knife had missed a few places shaving that morning, so the growth on his chin was uneven in a strangely charming way. His clothes had been mended often enough that she didn’t know which parts were original and which were patches.

“I’ll share it with my friend when she arrives.”

“You’re new in town, aren’t you?”

Johanna smirked and looked back down the road. “I don’t want to fight you. So if you’re going to claim some sort of traveler’s tax, save your breath and avoid the bruises.”

He shook his head. “Just a friendly warning. A woman standing alone with a bottle like that, someone may take advantage and try to take it from you. But I can see now that you can take care of yourself so I’ll just be on my way.” He smiled and turned to go into the tavern.

“Hey. What’s your name?”

“Caspar Vogt. And yours?”

“Johanna Brion.” She approached him and lowered her voice. “What do you know of Simon Lehner?”

His face became stone and he looked past her, then into the bar. He put his hand on her shoulder and pressed her against the wall, leaning in to speak in a hiss. “Don’t say that name inside that bar if you know what’s good for you. Some of Lehner’s men came around last year, got a certain portion of the population riled up. They killed children.” His lip curled and he paused to compose himself before he continued. “If you are with–”

“I fought against his army at Vallendar. These past months I’ve done nothing but hunt his followers to ensure they can no longer spread his lies as gospel.”

Caspar relaxed his grip on her shoulder. “I’ve heard of you. Word is you travel with–”

He was suddenly gone, pulled off his feet and tossed backward. Agatha released his hood and let him fall, drawing her knife as he hit the wooden deck. She pounced, landing on him before he had a chance to react to the initial attack. Johanna grabbed Agatha’s arm and twisted the weapon away from Caspar.

“Relax! He’s a friend.”

Agatha hissed and snorted, staring at Caspar for a long moment before she gave in. She stood, and Johanna let her go.”

Caspar got to his feet and brushed off his clothes. “As I was saying… word is you travel with a wulf.”

“A canidae,” Johanna corrected.

“What’s the difference?”

“A wulf wouldn’t have used a knife, and she wouldn’t have stopped just because I told her to.”

Caspar cleared his throat. “Right.” The light from the doorway was blocked by people coming to see what the commotion was. Johanna tensed, but Caspar waved them away. When the three of them were alone, Caspar sighed. “You’ll find no one faithful to Simon Lehner in this town. I’d warn you to watch your back but I’d say you won’t have a problem there.”

“Thanks for the warning, but I know what sort of town this is.”

“Try not to hurt anyone more than necessary.” He nodded to her and to Agatha before he went into the tavern. He rubbed his shoulder as soon as he thought he was out of sight, and Agatha smirked with pride at having hurt him. She looked at Johanna and her grin withered when she caught her irritated look.

“What?”

“You overreacted. We were supposed to keep a low profile.”

Agatha bared her teeth. “He had his hands on you. This town is dangerous. I couldn’t take the risk.” She touched Johanna’s cheek, and Johanna closed her eyes. Agatha dropped her hand. “Next time I will wait until he draws blood.”

Johanna snatched Agatha’s wrist and squeezed. “You know what I mean. I am more than capable of taking care of myself.”

“I only know one way of reacting when something I care about is threatened.” She sheathed her knife and brushed her hand on the hem of her shirt. “Gunther is squared away. We can keep him there until the end of the week.”

“Good. I got us a room here for the next two nights.” She put her hand on Agatha’s shoulder and squeezed the tired muscles. “Let’s go inside and get some rest. We’ll both be much less irritable in the morning.”

Agatha stepped into the tavern, drawing the eye of everyone who had heard the scuffle. Caspar was sitting at a booth in the corner, openly nursing his wounded shoulder when Johanna entered. He lifted his mug to show there were no hard feelings, and Johanna waved as she followed Agatha across the ground floor. She had little doubt that spending the night in an honest-to-goodness bed would do them both wonders.

#

Fifteen minutes after Johanna finally drifted off, the fire brigade sent up the alarm.

Agatha was out of bed before Johanna was fully awake, but they both reached the window at about the same time. There was a break in the storm and the sky was clear. Agatha was nude, her skin burnished white by the moon as they looked down at the scene playing out in the streets below. A wooden building at the far end of the street was aflame, and people in nightclothes were scattered along the street gathering buckets of water to extinguish it. Johanna could hear people in the hallway, shouts raised in alarm for extra hands. “We have to get out of here.”

“The stable is on the other side of town,” Agatha said.

Johanna shook her head. “I’m not worried about Gunther. Look.” She pointed at the road leading into town. A group of figures swaddled in shadows was hanging back, watching the flames. “They’re waiting for the tavern to clear out. They don’t want to kill anyone they don’t have to kill.”

Agatha pushed the window open. “If they want to kill us, they’ll have to fight for the honor.”

“Go downstairs,” Johanna said. “Your canidae shape can see better in the dark, and you can smell them coming. We don’t know if those three are alone.”

“Be safe.” Agatha impulsively kissed Johanna, their lips lingering before Agatha pulled back and took a step away. She arched her back, dropped to her hands and knees, and within seconds she had become a white-blonde wolf. She shook her body, her fur rippling as she bared her teeth in a snarl.

Johanna pulled on her trousers and a jacket and carried her boots to the window. She watched the group of men as she stepped into the boots, tightening the laces that ran up the outside of them without tying them off. Her sword, Dorothea, hung by the window and she pulled it from the scabbard with a hiss of steel on leather. She slung her leg over the windowsill, steadied herself on the rain-slick shingles, and hurried down the sloped roof toward the back of the tavern.

She used her sword as a counterbalance, bracing her left foot on the gutter. She crouched and leapt from the roof, her boots sinking in the muddy road and cushioning her fall. The shadowy figures saw her moving and broke cover, but Johanna was ready for them. She moved to cut off their approach to the tavern, swinging her sword in a wide arc as soon as she was within range. The blade sliced one man’s arm and he twisted toward her.

“Three against one, sweetheart.”

“You want to find more men?” Johanna asked. “I’ll wait.”

Two of the men lunged toward her. Johanna ducked and moved between them, slamming into the third man. She grabbed a handful of his shirt and used her forward momentum to swing them both. She released the man at the apex of their turn and he stumbled into one of his cohorts. They went down in a jumble of limbs and Johanna brought her sword up to fend off the third man’s attack. He was using a fighting staff, and it splintered on contact. Johanna’s sword sank halfway through the wood and became lodged, and Johanna wrenched her arm back to pull the weapon out of the man’s grip.

One of the two who had fallen into the mud managed to regain his footing. Johanna swung her sword, its new crossbar of wood cracking him on the cheek and sending him down again. The impact knocked the weapon free and Johanna swung the blade freely.

“How long have you been following us?”

“Long enough to know you lay with the beast.”

Johanna grimaced. “I’ll wager she’s less beastly than whatever you lay down with at night.” One of the men was slowly rising, trying to take advantage of her distraction to sneak up on her. Johanna kicked at him with her right foot, and he wrapped his arm around her ankle and pulled. She cursed as she went down, mud splattering across her face as she landed flat on her back. The man who felled her climbed onto her, pinning her down with his weight and gripping her arms with both hands to keep her from attacking with her sword.

There was a growl from behind the man who seemed to be the leader, and he turned in time to see a flash of blonde fur as Agatha pounced. She hit him in the chest, knocking him back with her hind legs as her jaws snapped at his face. He overreacted, tripping over his own feet and falling alongside Johanna in the mud. Agatha stood on the man’s chest and turned her head toward Johanna. She barked quizzically.

Johanna growled, her teeth the only spot of white in her mud-covered face. “Yes. Now you can help.”

“Don’t need your permission, but thanks anyway.” Johanna turned at the unexpected voice, watching as Caspar grabbed the man on top of her. He spun on his heel and hurled the man with all his strength. The dizzied man tripped forward two steps and then slammed into the brick side of a small building. He went down with no sign of getting back up any time soon.

Caspar held out his hand. Johanna grabbed his wrist and hauled herself up, mud dripping from her as she searched for and retrieved her sword. The man Agatha had attacked was gone, fleeing down the street toward the outskirts of town. Caspar narrowed his gaze at him, then reached into a pouch at his waist. He weighted a small stone, leaned back, and pitched the small, smooth stone. It hit the back of the man’s head with a solid “THOCK” and he went down.

That left one last man. He glared at Johanna, lowering his attention to Agatha who stood nearby with a mud-spattered coat and speckles of blood on her jaws.

“We’ll be back. We’ll hunt you down wherever you go, you and your bitch. Mark my words, I–”

Johanna silenced him. His body slumped forward as she cleansed the blood from her sword on the hem of her tunic. Caspar stepped back so the body wouldn’t splatter any more mud or blood on his clothes. Johanna looked at the man lying unconscious near them, and then at the man Caspar had clocked with his stone.

“They’ll have to be dealt with.”

Caspar nodded. “I will take them to–”

“No. They came for me, and I will deal with them myself.”

He stared at her for a moment as if he was going to argue, but then he nodded. “As you wish. As long as you are not hurt.”

“Thanks to your intervention. Thank you.”

He nodded and looked down at Agatha. “I think she would have taken care of them quickly enough, but I’m always happy to lend a hand. Good evening, Miss Brion.” To Agatha he said, “And to you, Agatha.” He turned away and walked back toward the fire that now seemed under control.

Johanna hooked her hands under the unconscious man’s arms and dragged him toward the corpse of his friend.

“I presume you have a plan for them?”

She turned and saw Agatha standing naked behind her. She was nude, mud and blood smeared on her skin. The mess had been on her coat when she was in canidae form, so it was only loosely splattered across her human body. Johanna glanced to make sure Caspar wasn’t looking back. “Bring me the other one.”

While Agatha retrieved the man Caspar had knocked unconscious, Johanna found the cart the men had used to get into town. She loaded the corpse onto the back of the cart, then used her knife to kill the other man. His limbs jerked and then fell still for the final time. Her conscious protested the idea of killing an unconscious man, but she silenced it with thoughts of what the men would have done if they caught her and Agatha sleeping. Giving him a quick death was merciful.

Agatha returned with the other man. She had taken his jacket, a heavy leather duster that left her legs exposed when she walked. She dumped the man on the cart and said, “The blow was harder than it looked. He’s dead, too.”

“Good. Saves me a bit of trouble.”

She covered the men with loose hay. “We need to get them out of town.”

“I’ll take them. I’ll run it off the road, make it look like a robbery.”

Johanna nodded. “Be safe.”

“You too.”

Agatha climbed aboard the cart, gathering the reins and snapping the horses to attention. Johanna watched her go, then turned and walked back to the tavern. In the diminishing light of the fire, she looked down at her mud-caked body with disgust. She could taste mud on her lips and knew it must have looked like she was wearing a mask. She recalled seeing a tub in one of the rooms on the second floor, and a bath sounded like absolute decadence.

She went upstairs by a more conventional route than she had descended and gathered some clean clothes and a washcloth. The tavern seemed abandoned, all the staff and guests gathered around the burning building she presumed, and she moved quietly to the bathing room. The door was ajar despite the fact she could see a lantern glowing within, and she pushed the door open a little wider to see inside.

Caspar had obviously just lowered himself into the water, his hands still braced on the wide curves of the tub’s sides. His chest was broad and hairy, crossed by thick scars that had healed badly. He was frozen half-in and half-out of the bath, the water line just under his abdomen. He eyed her muddy visage and cleared his throat.

“Turn around and I’ll let you have it.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Johanna put her hand on the door and started to back out. “I can wait.”

“The longer you wear that mud, the harder it will be to get off.”

“I won’t steal your bath after you saved my life.”

He sighed. “Then perhaps a compromise. It’s a large tub.”

Johanna laughed harshly.

“I’ll be a perfect gentleman.” He produced a washcloth of his own, held it out to her so she could see the lantern’s light didn’t penetrate it, then folded it length-wise and draped it over his eyes like a blindfold. He moved to one side, his hip and flank tight against the curved edge of the tub. Johanna had to admit there did seem to be enough room, and she wasn’t eager to wait until he finished and a new bath could be drawn. Parts of the mud were already drying and the skin underneath it itched.

“Very well.” She closed the door and undressed. She sat on the edge of the tub to unlace her boots and pull them off, glancing over her shoulder to make sure Caspar wasn’t peeking. He was being a gentleman, as promised, so she felt slightly guilty about taking the opportunity to examine his body under the still waters. His cock was nestled between his muscular thighs in a nest of hair darker than the hair on his head, not erect but plump enough that she knew he wasn’t having “perfect gentlemanly thoughts.”

She wet her washcloth in the tub and did her best to remove as much mud as possible without soiling the waters they were about to share. She wiped it from her hands and face, bending down to wash her legs where the boots hadn’t covered. Once the worst of it was taken care of, she refilled the pitcher next to the tub with fresh water and sat it on the floor in case they needed to top off the level.

Johanna swung her leg over the edge of the tub and sank in alongside him, her body walled in by his on one side and the curved edge of the tub on the other. The water level rose, reaching the undersides of her breasts and the slope of his ribcage. She spread her washcloth across her breasts, the ends barely reaching from one nipple to the other but successfully covering her. She draped her right arm over the side of the tub, stretching the other out along its bottom edge and sank down until her feet met the opposite end of the tub.

“You can remove your blindfold now, if you wish.”

Caspar dropped his head forward and caught the cloth in his hand. He smiled and didn’t make a show of running his eyes down her body, but she noticed him doing it. Turnabout was fair play, after all. She crossed her legs and relaxed against the curved corner of the bath.

“You fight well,” Caspar said. “I nearly didn’t involve myself, but I figured it would end the fight faster and with less bloodshed. Well, with less of your blood shed.”

“Much appreciated. I have enough scars for now.” She lifted her arm to examine the inside of her bicep. When she moved, the towel slipped down and exposed her breasts. “Ah, shit.” She tried to pull it back up, but the damage had been done. She draped the cloth over her shoulder and sat unashamed.

Caspar smiled. “Ahh. Much too nice to cover up anyway.”

Johanna snorted and crossed her legs. She ran her fingers through her hair and felt the mud crusting the strands together. “Ah, hell.”

“Let me help,” Caspar said. “Lean forward.”

She hesitated, then drew her knees to her chest. She bowed her head forward, and Caspar retrieved the water jug from beside the tub. He poured it slowly over her head, his fingers working the mud out of her hair as the water cascaded down. Johanna shuddered and looked at him out of the corner of her eye. He was harder now, but still not quite fully erect.

When her hair was washed, she pushed her hands through it as she sat up. She smoothed it against her skull and kept her arms wrapped around her knees as she faced Caspar.

“Thank you.”

“The dues of chivalry.”

Johanna cupped her hand under the water and leaned forward, tilting her hand so that the water poured over his chest. He watched until the water was gone and then looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“I was under the impression you and the… lady were together.”

“Agatha is my lover, yes. We are loyal to one another.”

“To a point?”

Johanna shook her head and ran her fingers through the hair in his chest. “No, to a fault. We are honest with one another, and that honesty means she occasionally runs with her pack and I don’t ask questions when she returns. I don’t ask questions because she returns.”

Her hand trailed lower, over his abdomen. She scraped the skin with her nails and then withdrew to her corner, crossing her ankles under the water.

“Make yourself hard.”

Caspar blinked at her. “What?”

“The work is half done.” She pointedly stared at him under the water. “You helped save my life, you’re attractive, and you have been a perfect gentleman as promised. You’ve aroused my interests so either I can take advantage of you or go find another willing specimen.” She looked toward the window. “It shouldn’t be terribly difficult…”

He cleared his throat. “Far be it for me to deny a woman in need.” He moved his hand underwater, shifting uncomfortably at first as he took his cock in hand. Johanna watched his arm and shoulder, the subtle movements as he began stroking himself. She pressed her thighs together and lifted her chin, resting one elbow on the side of the tub and extending a finger across her lower lip. She met Caspar’s eye, confirming he was watching her, and she smiled as his arm began moving faster.

“So are you just going to watch?”

“Just waiting for a good moment to cut in on the dance,” Johanna whispered, her voice low with arousal. She shifted her weight and moved onto her knees. As she rose, water dripped from the underside of her breasts and streaked down her stomach. She straddled Caspar, kneeling above him before sweeping his hand away and replacing it with her own. Caspar sank lower, his head level with her breasts. Johanna dipped her empty hand into the water and brought it up, parting her fingers so that it rained down on Caspar’s face. He closed his eyes, and Johanna pressed him against her sex. She rocked her body forward, her stomach flat against his chest as she slid down.

Caspar’s hands started on her knees and moved up to her hips. At his first attempt to guide her movements, she lightly slapped his cheek. “No.”

He smiled, still appearing dazed. “I think it’s been too long since you’ve made love to a man.”

“I think you’ve never fucked a woman like me.” She took his hands off her body and lifted them over his head. She bent down, her nose almost touching his as she settled on his hips. He was fully inside of her when she whispered, “Don’t make me restrain you, Caspar Vogt.” She licked his lips and began to slowly ride him.

She straightened her back and Casper lowered his head, kissing a path down her neck to her breasts. Johanna leaned back to give him a better angle, her eyes open only slightly as she looked down at his lips closing over one nipple. Her hands in his hair, her muscles tight around him, she was almost too distracted to hear the quiet click of the door latch. Caspar tensed, and Johanna looked over her shoulder with detached interest.

“Hello, Agatha. Stay…”

Agatha stepped into the room and pushed the door shut behind her. She was still wearing nothing but the hunter’s coat judging by the V of skin left exposed by the unbuttoned lapels. She approached the tub and ran her eyes down Johanna’s body, then looked down at Caspar. He had grown still as soon as she arrived, but Johanna was still slowly riding him. Agatha inhaled through her nose and let it out through her lips. “You do not touch me.”

Caspar cleared his throat. “Yes, ma’am.”

Agatha shifted her gaze to Johanna. She ran her hands through the wet strands of dark hair, then gripped it and tugged her head back. Johanna’s surprised gasp was smothered by Agatha’s lips. Agatha’s other hand cupped Johanna’s breast, pinching the nipple between two fingers as their tongues dueled for dominance.

Caspar began lifting his hips to meet Johanna, and he leaned forward to kiss her throat. He was very careful not to inadvertently kiss or touch Agatha, but every now and then her arm became trapped between the two of them. Johanna broke her kiss with Agatha and nuzzled Caspar’s face. He looked up and she kissed him while Agatha began kissing Johanna’s throat. Under their expert attentions, Johanna quickly reached her climax with a shudder and a quiet cry.

When Johanna broke the kiss, she ran her fingers through his hair and then brushed the scruff on his cheeks. She looked at Agatha and lightly kissed her lips.

“We should go before people start coming back. Wouldn’t want to get caught…”

Caspar’s response was a tortured cry.

Johanna cupped his chin in her hand. “Don’t worry. I’m not done with you yet, sir. Clean up in here… we’ll be waiting.” She bent down and licked the shell of his ear, then whispered her room number to him. She reached into the water, stroking his cock as she lifted herself, smiling at his pained look as she let Agatha wrap her in a towel. “Don’t make us wait long, Mr. Vogt.”

Agatha took Johanna’s hand and guided her out of the bathroom. She heard voices in the tavern below, and they moved quickly toward their rooms so they wouldn’t be caught in their current states of undress. Agatha pushed the door open, shoved Johanna inside, and slammed the door behind her. Johanna spun to face Agatha and they both growled as they came together. Agatha tore the towel away from Johanna’s body, and Johanna pushed her hands under the heavy material of Agatha’s new coat to cup her breasts.

“He’s handsome, at least,” Johanna gasped between kisses. “Not like that scribe you picked up outside of Moeniss…”

Agatha chuckled. “You’re just jealous because she paid more attention to me than you.” She licked Johanna’s cheek and then nipped her earlobe. “Don’t let him come in your mouth. I can’t stand the taste.”

“Noted.” She walked Agatha to the bed and stripped the coat off her shoulders. There was a knock on the door, but Johanna ignored it. She held her palms flat, her middle fingers extended slightly as she traced lines on Agatha’s shoulders. Down her arms, back up and down to the curves of her breasts. She circled her nipples as the knock repeated, a bit more urgent this time. Her hands came together and she traced parallel lines down the middle of Agatha’s stomach to the thick blonde hair between her legs.

“Come in,” Agatha said when there was another knock.

Caspar stepped into the room as Johanna shoved Agatha onto the bed. Agatha bounced on the mattress and used her hands and heels to retreat to the headboard. Johanna crawled after her like a jungle cat, kissing Agatha’s inner thighs as Caspar approached the bed. She took a moment to appreciate her favorite place in the world – Agatha’s thighs framing her head, her sex bright and wet and ready for her – as Caspar joined them on the bed.

His hands were rough on her hip, calloused and dry despite their bath. He squeezed, then lowered his head and began kissing the curve of her ass. Johanna threaded her arms around Agatha’s thighs and bent down, pulling Agatha to her. Caspar’s tongue slid across Johanna like a wave, and she bared her teeth before teasing Agatha with the tip of her tongue.

Johanna’s skin was still wet from the bath, and she felt the droplets trickling down her inner thighs. She turned her head, her chin against Agatha’s thigh, and said, “I’m wet enough… fuck me now…”

The bed shifted as Caspar repositioned himself. Johanna turned her head and met Agatha’s eye, both of them holding their breath as he brushed the tip of his cock against her. He moved one hand to the small of her back, the other gripping her upper thigh where it bent into her hip like it was a handle, and he sank forward. Johanna’s eyes rolled back in her head and she parted her lips in a silent gasp as he filled her again.

Agatha stroked her hair, and Johanna bowed her head and licked Agatha’s stomach. She ran her hand down the inside of Agatha’s thigh, twisted her wrist, and stroked Agatha with two fingers in a ‘come-hither’ gesture. Agatha pressed her shoulders against the headboard and rose to meet Johanna’s hand.

Johanna kissed her way up to Agatha’s cleavage and Agatha slumped down to meet her. Their tongues met before their lips did, and Johanna pressed back to force Caspar deeper. Agatha broke the kiss and cradled Johanna’s head to her chest, looking into Caspar’s eyes with a mixture of arousal and jealousy.

“She is not a delicate flower, sir.”

Caspar grunted and began to move harder, making Johanna cry out in approval. She bit her bottom lip, wrinkled her nose, and realized something about what Agatha had just said. She moved her head up, her face draped by Agatha’s hair, and whispered directly into her ear. “Do you know how name?”

“I’m not certain. Does it matter?”

Johanna chuckled and kissed Agatha’s throat. She felt her pulse and held her lips there as she and Caspar moved against each other. She twisted two fingers and pushed them inside Agatha. She extended her thumb and found Agatha’s clit, rolling it in slow circles as Agatha began squirming underneath her.

“You ladies–”

“Don’t speak,” Agatha barked.

Johanna shushed her. “Be civil, darling…” She looked over her shoulder and winked at Caspar. “She’s territorial.”

Caspar grunted and closed his eyes, fully inside of her. “I can understand why…” He moved his hand from the small of her back so that he was holding her hips with both hands. He squeezed and then began thrusting against her with vigor. Johanna matched his rhythm by moving her hand faster, and Agatha squirmed underneath her. Caspar’s breathing became desperate, ragged, and Johanna knew they’d pushed him as far as he could go. Johanna pushed herself up and stared into Agatha’s eyes as Caspar pressed tightly against her. He came inside of her, and Johanna’s limp body sagged against Agatha. The only part of Johanna that was still lively was between Agatha’s legs, working her to a fevered pitch.

Agatha held off, though Johanna could see the flushed crimson across her chest even in the darkness. Her irritation burned off as she realized what Agatha was doing. She slid up, letting Caspar slip out of her, and she pressed her cheek against Agatha’s.

“Come for me, darling.”

Agatha tensed, her body arching off the mattress to slide against Johanna’s as she came. Caspar bent down and kissed the curve of Johanna’s back, his arms wrapping around her in a backwards embrace as the women kissed each other.

Caspar eventually withdrew completely and flopped on his back at the foot of the bed. Agatha straightened her legs and crossed them at the ankles on Caspar’s abdomen. He tentatively took her foot in his hand, remembering her warning. When she didn’t protest, he took the other one as well and began to massage the arches. Johanna twisted at the waist and Agatha gathered her in her arms, letting Johanna curl against her side.

They looked down at Caspar, who looked like he was waiting to be kicked out. Johanna extended her foot and used her toes to ply his cock before it got completely soft. He watched for a moment and then sighed as he looked up at them.

“So how long are you ladies going to be in town?”

#

A string of storms surged from the sea, drowning Bardowiek into a quagmire of mud and newly-formed lakes. Johanna and Agatha barely left their rooms, and Caspar was with them more often than not. Whatever they required from the general store, be it food or drink or liniment, Caspar was dispatched to retrieve it. He accepted his errands with good-nature; he called it the price of being with the both of them.

During the wet week they shared, there was only one tense moment when Caspar became confused in the heat of the moment and entered Agatha instead of Johanna. They managed to calm tensions, but Caspar made sure to take an extra half-hour completing his errands that day just to be safe.

When the storms finally ended, Johanna restocked their packs at the general store while Agatha settled their bill at the stable. Johanna had discovered the daily rates and told Agatha what to expect in terms of the final fee. The pressure of doing the math herself lifted and Agatha gratefully headed out to retrieve the horse.

Caspar cleared his throat once he was gone. “So where shall you go now? The men who tracked you here weren’t alone… there will be others.”

“Certainly there will. Are you implying we require your protection on the road?”

“I would never imply that.” He brushed the bandage on his forearm where Agatha had sliced it open. Apparently in the midst of a heated early morning tangle, it had seemed like a good idea to draw blood. Agatha had broken the dish and dragged the porcelain edge across his flesh before Johanna even knew what she was doing. Needless to say the incident hadn’t been, and would never again be, repeated.

“Then what are you saying, Mr. Vogt?”

“Simply that I have been in Bardowiek for a very long time. It might be nice to have a companion on the road.”

Johanna looked at him. “Or two.”

“Or one.” He lowered his voice and focused on fastening Johanna’s pack. “If you leave her behind, the hunters would gladly allow you back into their ranks. You wouldn’t have to look over your shoulder every waking hour.”

Johanna very carefully slipped her arms into the straps of her pack. “Do you remember when I said Agatha was very territorial?” She turned to face him. “I am as well. I cast my lot with Agatha of the Westreich pack, and she is my property as I am hers. I don’t fight hunters to protect myself. I fight hunters because, if I did not, they would kill Agatha. And I am willing to die to prevent that from happening. Am I clear?”

Caspar nodded. “Yes. I apologize for any implications I may have made about your relationship. Your loyalty should have been more than obvious. I simply…” He cleared his throat and averted his gaze. “I became a bit territorial myself during the past few days.”

Johanna smiled. “Sweet man.” She stepped away from him and made sure they had repacked everything. She slid the strap of her scabbard over her shoulder and secured it, letting the sword hang heavy against her back. “If you meant what you said about staying too long in Bardowiek, you’re more than welcome to join me and Agatha on the road. At least for a while.”

He smiled. “I’ll consider the offer.” He kissed Johanna on both cheeks, and then she kissed him on the lips. He cleared his throat and smiled. “I leave you in good hands.”

When Agatha returned from the stables astride Gunther, Johanna was waiting for her on the front deck of the tavern. She mounted Gunther behind Agatha, reaching around her to take the reins. Agatha rested her weight against Johanna, and Johanna kissed her temple as she turned Gunther around and headed for the ruined gates of town.

The air was crisp and cold, almost seeming crystallized after the long rains. The grass and trees were revitalized and looked impossibly green.

“He was a good fighter,” Agatha said suddenly.

“Yes, he was. He was good at other things as well.”

Agatha made a disgusted noise in her throat. “It would have been nice to have him as an ally. Three will be more formidable than two. And when faced with hunters, having two humans to argue my loyalty would be a convenience.”

“Mm. So you wouldn’t have minded if he joined us for a time?”

Agatha was silent for so long that Johanna thought maybe she was avoiding the question. But finally she said, “For a time.”

Johanna twisted and looked at the road behind them. Nearly three quarters of a mile back, closer to Bardowiek than them, she could see the small shape of a heavily-supplied man following them. He was too far away for even Agatha to smell, but she would become aware of him soon enough. Johanna smiled and tightened her grip on Agatha.

“Well, perhaps we haven’t seen the last of him.”

They rode into the woods, the trees growing closer together until it was as if they had entered a tunnel. Agatha knew there was a town about twenty miles north of Bardowiek that had once been home to one of Simon’s main lieutenants. There was a strong chance that they still harbored loyalty to the dead cult leader.

It would take them approximately four hours to travel twenty miles. Agatha relaxed against Johanna and soon fell into an easy doze. Johanna smiled and resisted the urge to look back to see check on Caspar’s progress. He would catch up with them soon enough, and she would deal with Agatha’s reaction when the hypothetical became reality.

For now, she was comfortable enough.

Permanent link to this article: http://underdogs.geonncannon.com/marking-territory/

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