Scattering: A Short from Achten Tan

Scattering by Chapel Orahamm, a Short Story from Achten Tan the Land of Dust and Bone

“The tents? Really? There’s plenty to be had here if ya’ look,” Barz squawks.

I slump forward over my stead’s head to flick away detritus from his antenna. “I don’t see why it concerns you.” I shift back in my saddle and press him home to the stables.

“Strange people out there. Sure you wanna socialize with ‘em?” Barz sneers, spitting in the sand.

“Anyone ever tell you you’re a prick, Barz?” I clear the saddle and lead my ant to its stall to curry the thin coating of grit from its carapace. I’d need to reapply its wards in the morning before patrol.

“Don’t be late for morning patrol. And take a bath. I don’t want to smell ‘em all day.” Barz pulls his saddle off his ant.

I hold my tongue, instead slipping a note into a thick envelope. I smile at the dossier. On my way out, I pop my head into the super’s office. Handing it to him, both of us nod as I flick an eye back toward Barz’s stall. He won’t be here in the morning.

Leaving the stables and the edge of the Ribs, I follow the curvature of the spine as the sun slips the horizon, sifting gold along the ridge. Canvas and boggoliz leather beckon in the distance. Trailing fingers of incense steep under awnings, wafting in the early evening breeze to trace spirals up my arms. Men and women duck in and out of a dance circle around a fire in the center of a triangular arrangement of tents. A pair sit off to the side, flute and drum sinking into hearts and hips.

Smiles flash as dark eyes under kohl meet mine. “Evening!” Dancers bow and dip skirts to the sand as I enter their camp. Soft rugs and low chairs spread under strung lanterns. One of the men breaks away from the gyration to light the wicks. Midsummer and the haze of sunset casts clouds of blush and arousal, painting the encampment in a cascade of scattered jewels and riches.

One of the women, her eyes bright in the firelight, smiles from a tent flap.“Looking for Sarai or Dorsa?”

“Evening! Either of them occupied?” I bow, my hand above my heart in mimic of the group’s greeting.

“I’m not.” Dorsa, his deep bass dripping down my shoulder, towers over me.

“You called?” Sarai peeks from behind his back, her bright skirts swirling around his legs.

“Dinner?” I offer, pulling a pack from my back.

“Ribs?” Dorsa eyes the bag, a grin crinkling the corners of almond eyes.

“I’ll make tea,” Sarai offers. Dorsa takes the pack as the two lead me to the farthest tent. I duck into the low structure, following Sarai. Dorsa strings the flap closed behind us.

“But first.” His fingers slip up mine. I still, savouring the heat scattering across my skin. Smaller hands find the hem at my knee, tracing along the line. I close the gap, tunnelling my fingers in Sarai’s thick hair to find the corner of her lips with mine, kneeling between her legs. Feathering kisses along the line of her jaw, I shift, our weight settling to the rugs. Dorsa pulls the shirt from my waistband to crawl fingers across my stomach, nibbling along my backbone.

“I’ve wanted to try something. Thought about it all day,” I whisper at the edge of her clavicle where her collar dips over her curves.

“Try something?” Her voice hitches as I trace her lines, savouring the tuck of her ribs, the flair of her hips.

“Let me taste you.” I run the tip of my tongue along a peaked nipple beneath her shift, the contrast in textures igniting between us.

A note catches. “You sure?” Her cheeks spot a soft pink, eyelashes sweeping low.

“If it makes you uncomfortable, I won’t.” I pause from my ministrations, watching her thoughts brush across her face, the difference between sunset and sunrise.

“No one’s ever offered.” Her laced hope, tight in the space between us, draws me in. I raise an eyebrow, resting my weight into the cradle of her hips. Dorsa leans heat across my back, straddling my legs to continue with his fixation. Electricity crawls beneath my skin in desperation. “I’d like to.” Her fingers find the column of my throat, the soft spot behind my jaw, pulling me to her for our tongues to dance as Dorsa creeps starburst up my thighs. 

“Where do you want me?” His voice glides across my shoulders.

“Tantalize for a bit. That work for you?” I turn to him, his lips brushing fire up my neck.

“I think that’s called torture.” He nips at the tip of my ear, sliding to kiss my cheek.

“Got a tie? I’ll come back to you.” I promise against his lip.

“I prefer touching, thanks.” He releases me from his spell to let me turn back to Sarai.

Pulling pillows together and clothes off, we settle into the comfort of exploration. Feathering kisses from knee to inner thigh, I keep an eye to her nerves. Under thick lashes, she’s watching Dorsa’s fingers memorize my shoulder blades, the dip of my lower back. “You two are beautiful together, you know that?” she admires as I slip fingers between her folds.

“That’s all, Dorsa,” I admit, tasting the tang of her, the slight bitterness of aphrodisiac Godtree nectar slick along my taste buds. Sliding across folds to her nub and back again, the warble in her breathing is music at my fingertips. A soft flick, a bit of pressure changes her tune. She startles beneath me when Dorsa finds a spot that sends me sighing. She melts into the view as he sinks into me, nectar easing the transition. I relax against his intrusion, his fingers finding the path I had traveled along Sarai’s leg to send her twitching.

Her dusky skin swaths in shades of kyanite and cinnabar as her honey tucks into my tongue. Sparks flick along my senses, and I’m diving into an abyss of hands and lips. Pressure, finding that sweet spot between her and me, Dorsa drives my desires as I push at Sarai’s. The world is slipping at the edges, and we are drifting in the amethyst and coral seeping through the stitching of the tent. Spirals and swirls, she’s singing beneath me, and his breathing is harsh in my ear. Time follows the rise of the moons, dipping with the whistle of the flute at the fire, and she’s drawing in tight, asking me to pause and listen. A shiver beneath my tongue, her gasps flutter as she tries to hide behind her hand. Dorsa leans over me, delving deeper, to steal the pleasure at her lips. Following his push, I move up to lavish attention on the undercurve of her breast, glimmers of gold flecking low, numbness creasing my hips as pressure builds in my toes and fingers. He returns to me, his hand finding my sensitivity. Teeth test my shoulder, demanding. The smoulder at the edges of my senses catches, the inferno taking me over. He holds tight, supporting as I wring us out in the floating world. 


Dragging ragged breaths 

Sweat drips



Drops from curls and curves

“Are you sure you won’t join us, An’cher? You’re better at this than most.” Dorsa nuzzles my ear, kissing my jaw.

“Who’d bring you ribs?” I take possession. His passion is sweet against my lips.  He pulls himself free to retrieve a pile of towels.

“Who needs ribs if you can do that?” Sarai takes the proffered cloth from Dorsa.

“I do, or else I won’t be able to muster the strength to do that again.” I tease.

“I’m taking that as a promise.” Dorsa snares me to curl between them.  

“Long as you’re here, I’ll come back,” I whisper in our cocoon. The stars pulse against the seams of the tent, and the heat of summer begs for our attention. Ignoring it, I lean into Dorsa’s chest, tucking Sarai’s locks beneath my chin. The sands slip by in the darkness, and I’m left twisting in eddies, wrung out and content.

Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.

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