The half-dressed girls passed silently between the lying figures, their bare feet making no sound as they stepped on the sand. Low-lying metal braziers cast a shifting glow and made the girls’ shadows move as of their own accord. Gorel of Goliris lay on his back on the thick rich carpet under the stars and what he saw no one could tell.
One of the girls stopped and knelt beside him. ‘Are you comfortable?’ she asked. She took his hand and put two long, graceful fingers against his wrist. ‘It is time for another one?’
She waited; presently, Gorel closed and opened his eyes. The girl, used to such minute communication, took it for assent.
The long thin needle was almost translucent but the nature of the material passing through it had stained it in fantastical whorls of yellows and reds . It was the quill of a small desert dweller; Gorel had captured and eaten several of its kind. The girl held his arm and her practiced fingers searched his naked flesh. Gorel’s lips moved, though little sound escaped. The girl stroked his hair. ‘Soon now,’ she murmured. ‘Soon. Hush now.’
Finding a suitable place, she pressed the needle into his arm with one practiced motion. The needle was attached by a long thin tube to a contraption of metal and glass standing upright beside Gorel and the girl. The bottom component was a glass jar filled with water. A pipe ran up and into a metal bowl. The girl moved her hand over the bowl and murmured words, too quiet to be heard. The bowl began to smoke. The smoke had a sweet, pungent smell. Everyone at the place knew it intimately. The water in the jar began to bubble. The girl took hold of a bulb attached to the side of the device and began to pump it. The water bubbled harder, and the smoke grew more intense. A sluggish substance began to drizzle down the long tube and into the needle. Gorel sighed, a weak exhalation of air, and closed his eyes. The girl continued to pump, and with her other hand stroked Gorel’s hair. ‘Better now,’ she said. ‘Everything is fine now.’
Rated R for violence, drug use.