The following Stelfire.com exclusive scene depicts the parting of Ashe Stelfire and Nirva Silv.  It takes place between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of the REPENTER novel.  ADVISORY: It contains explicit content.

 

Post-Coital Design Advice

By James McGowan

 

The Late Night of Pyrene 50th, 1551

 

Ashe leaned against a window of six-inch-thick, opaque glass.  He clenched his eyes shut for moment, fighting a surge of vertigo.  Nirva lay in the oval-shaped bed behind him.  The plex hex was over.  He stared hard at the window, trying in vain to view the exterior of the villa.  Dread churned through his insides.  His bare feet writhed against the polished, stone-tiled floor.  He made a mistake.  He already knew it.

 

“Success.”  Nirva’s dark voice carried no anxiety, only satisfaction.  “I’m pregnant.”

 

He didn’t bother asking how she knew this soon.  Warm air wafted upon his unclothed body from the vents in the ceiling.  “Tell me.”

 

“Tell you what?”  Her voice carried more than a question.

 

“You fucking well know what.  Where is Retributor?”
 

She sighed in a hoarse crescendo.  “You’re in that big of a hurry?”

 

Ashe tapped the glass with the butt of his hand.  “You still want me having no part of this child’s life?”

 

Nirva didn’t immediately respond.  “It would be best if you didn’t.  I have plans.”

 

Ashe turned from the window and scowled her.  She made no attempt to cover her nude form.  She reclined on the bed with her arms crossed behind her head.  The pale light from the window touched her pale body, muting the red brilliance of her hair.  It also revealed the painting hanging above the bed.  It was one of Nirva’s many abstract pieces.  This one depicted a series of jagged, red brushstrokes on a yellow background.  Not for the first time Ashe wondered if Nirva’s skill as an artist influenced his decision to enter into this deal.  “What plans?”

 

“Personal ones.”  Her expression soured.  “You know what?  You’re right.  You should leave.”  The nude woman sat up, knees close to her chest.  “Retributor is in Corsis’s possession.  Probably in his lair, but that’s uncertain.”

 

Ashe’s stomach sank.  Corsis was on a very short list of people whom he dared not cross.  The bipedal, reptilian man possessed riches beyond reckoning, but power to match it.  The pyromancer swallowed hard.  “Lovely.”

 

She ran her hand down the length of her bent leg.  “I never said you’d like my answer.

 

His eyes locked with hers.  The passion from every previous encounter no longer showed within them, only cold contentment.

 

“The look on your face is by far the best thing to come out of this.”  A smile retook Nirva’s face.  “And a lot of good things came out of this.”

 

Ashe’s muscles tensed.  “Yes, quite a few.”  The urge to do something violent clattered at the back of his mind.  He did not act on it.  This woman now carried his child.  She also outmatched him.  Despite her deception, Ashe knew this plex hex imbued her with added might.  The risk was worth it to obtain Retributor’s whereabouts.  He now stood closer to that goal. 

 

He approached his discarded clothing, intermingled with hers in a trail from the suite’s door to the bed.  He redressed within a minute, hurriedly pulling on his hooded cloak and fastening his bandoliers. 

 

Nirva remained on the bed, watching him like a predator, a very beautiful predator.  She offered no further words.

 

Ashe reached in one of his cloak’s inner pockets and pulled out a very old cigar held within a white suede sleeve.  The soft cloth’s preservation hex kept it from deteriorating.  He bought the sleeve soon after his mother died, intending to save it for the right moment.  And this was it.  The pyromancer gently removed the cigar, exposing it to the air.

 

Nirva frowned at it.  “I thought you just smoked that ugly pipe.”

 

“Special occasion.”  He touched the brown tip with a flaming finger, lighting it.  Succeeding where his mother failed, Ashe raided the Nagus Queen’s vault and sold the gaun herb pipes.  He kept three for himself, one on his person and the other two hidden in different locations.  Ashe should have been an old man by now.  Instead, he entered his eighth decade as spry as the day he met with his mother.  He sucked in the bitter smoke.  Despite his efforts, it lost its rich scent.  His pipe tasted so much better.
 

She gestured to the door.  “That smells like a dead rat in a chimney.  Get out.”
 

“In a minute.”  Ashe lowered the cylindrical roll from his mouth.  “What are you planning on naming the baby?”

 

Nirva stood from the bed, hands on her shapely hips.  “No.  You don’t get to know anything about her.”

 

“I didn’t.”  Ashe returned the awful-tasting cigar to his open-mouthed smile.  “But now I know it’s a ‘her’.”

 

She gestured to the door and it swung open.  “Leave.”

 

He nodded to the yellow and red painting above the bed.  “One last thing and I’m gone.  It’s about your work of art.”

 

“If I have to ask again, I’ll impale your testicles on the same skewer as your eyes and eat them in front of you.”  Nirva pointed at him now, ready to call forth a hex.

 

“Your painting needs some blue for contrast.  I think our child would like that.”  Ashe departed the suite into the villa’s garden maze of thorn bushes.

 

Nirva wanted to remain true to her word.  But neither parent would have a hand in their child’s development.  The baby went missing three weeks after her birth.  Ashe made no attempt to find her when he learned of her disappearance.  For his apathy, he will one day repent.