The Witching Arts, An Airship Racing Chronicles Flash Fiction by Melanie Karsak & Happy Birthday Lord Byron!

Happy Birthday, Lord B. This week marks the birthday of George Gordon, Lord Byron. Byron was born on January 22, 1788. To celebrate my favorite bad boy's birthday, I'm sharing the flash fiction piece of I wrote for "The Witching Hour Collection." This piece, which I titled "The Witching Arts" features Byron before he meets the heroine of my steampunk romantic adventure Airship Racing Chronicles series (in which Byron plays a major role). Enjoy this little dose of that mad, bad, and dangerous to know poet we all love.

The Witching Arts

An Airship Racing Chronicles Flash Fiction

1809, Portugal

The prostitute’s long black hair tickled Byron’s sides as her hot mouth worked slowly down the poet’s chest. Outside the window of the brothel, the streets of Sintra exploded in a cacophony of sound as people flowed from bars to whore houses to opium dens, music and voices saturating the night’s air. The room where she’d taken him smelled of heady Indian spices and rosewater. The scent was grotesque and intoxicating all at once.
“Portuguese women truly are formed for all the witching arts of love,” Byron said as he stroked his hand down her smooth, bare back. He eyed her pert breasts hungrily, thinking what a feast he would make of her body.
“I’m glad you find me to your liking, Lord Byron. You’re such a refined gentleman. I was afraid I would not be able to satisfy you,” the prostitute whispered in reply.
“Satisfy? Well, that’s overreaching a bit,” he said then sipped the small glass of absinthe that had been sitting on the bedside table. Byron’s grand tour had started off well, at least in his estimation. Portugal offered a cornucopia of erotic delights, and he was sampling as many as he could get his hands on. There was barely a whore left in Sintra he hadn’t tried, both male and female. But he’d been looking for someone special. That was how he’d found Aline. They all said she was the best, that her skills were…unique. Byron couldn’t wait to find out.
Yet still, when he paused long enough to let it in, the abyss threatened. No matter what exotic flavors he tried, nothing filled the hungry darkness inside him. No matter how far he pushed, the burning emptiness remained. Not for the first time, he wondered if he would ever find anything, or anyone, who could make the ache go away.
The prostitute straddling Byron’s waist grabbed the burning candle from the nearby table. She smiled down at Byron, her dark eyes shimmering. “Yes, well, some men need more to satisfy their hunger,” she said then slowly dripped hot wax down his chest toward his cock.
Byron winced as the liquid wax burned him, but the pain also evoked pleasure. His dick stiffened with excitement. The woman was beautiful, and talented, all the things they said she would be. But still…it was not enough.
The woman studied Byron’s face, his eyes, and sensed that there was more he needed from her. More that only someone like her could give.
“My grandmother could see the future in the flames,” she told Byron then, ignoring his smug grin. Such men always thought they knew better. “They called her a witch, but she could see the future. And I…I have the sight as well. And even better, I know what men truly want. When I look at you, Lord Byron, I see what you need. Do not be frightened or annoyed,” she said when she saw a flash of something dangerous light up in his eyes, “just let me look. What do you want me to see? Do you want me to learn if you shall ever find your heart’s deepest desire?”
Byron quickly masked his feelings with an expression of curiosity. He grinned wryly. “Would you were so talented,” he murmured, reaching out to grab her bare waist, his hands circling around to squeeze her fleshy bottom.
Ignoring him, Aline stared into the flames. “Your soul’s mate,” she whispered in a strange and faraway voice.
Byron’s stomach quivered, but he laughed condescendingly. “You will find only darkness,” he told her. But he hoped his words were a lie. More than anything, Byron wanted to know if there was anyone out there who could ever feed the insatiable hunger inside him.
She held the candle before her. The flickering flames cast long shadows over her lovely features. Muttering under her breath, she cast an incantation. Byron recognized the rhyme in the lines, but not the words.
For what seemed like an eternity, Aline stared into the fire.
Byron said nothing, simply waited.
Several minutes later, the woman blinked hard, muttered some words in thanks, then, with her eyes still closed, pinched out the flame. In the darkness, she moved off the bed.
Several moments passed. When she did not come back to bed nor speak, Bryon laughed. “I told you there was nothing but gloom.”
“No,” Aline replied after a moment. Byron realized then she was near the door. “What I saw was the most beautiful, most glorious thing I have ever seen. Fields and fields of lilies. They glimmered like they were made of gold, spiraling until they became a sea of sliver stars. Not only will you find your soul’s mate, but through her, you will find a way out of the darkness. I have never seen a love like that before. When you find her, hold on to her. Never let her go. I’m sorry. Now, I…I just can’t. It was too beautiful,” she said then opened the door. “Farewell, Lord Byron,” she added, then slipped out the door.
Byron lay in the darkness staring up at the ceiling. The entire room, much like his life, was bathed in blackness. Wherever she was, this creature made of flowers and stars, Byron hoped he found her before the darkness swallowed him whole.

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