tagSci-Fi & FantasySarlene's Touch Ch. 14

Sarlene's Touch Ch. 14

byFuinimel©

Vardala had been in something of quandary since it became clear that the adventurers would be exploring the passages beneath the city. The magical eye that she had found on their last expedition could prove tremendously useful now. It would give her a perfect opportunity to scout ahead, and see exactly what was down there without actually visiting herself. The problem was, of course, that nobody knew she had it.

She regretted now, more than ever, not having simply shown it to the others, and hoped to gain it as part of the group treasure. She had, in a way, betrayed her companions. And for what? To secretly catch a glimpse of Horvan's naked body without him realising. Might she have somehow achieved that, even if they had known she had the eye? It was not, in retrospect, as if they would have thought she would use it for that sort of thing.

It had seemed a good idea at the time, but once she had really thought it through and realised her mistake, it was too late to go back on it. And here she was, with a magic item that could really help her companions, and no way of admitting to them that that was the case. She still did not know how she would resolve that in the long run, but at least for now she had a plan that might achieve something.

She had decided to go to one of the hidden entrances herself, without the knowledge of the others, and use the eye to find out what she could. She had selected the entrance closest to the gnomish quarter of the city; not only would it give her an excuse to be there, but if she learned something useful, she might be able to pass it off as local knowledge suddenly remembered. It had to be worth a try, if nothing else.

So here she was, standing in an alleyway at the back of a tavern, looking about for the entrance shown on the maps that Dolrim had acquired. Even at this time of the evening, it was easy enough to spot, when you knew what you were looking for. At the side of the alley was a wooden manhole cover, a metal grill next to it, peering down into the dark. Slight wisps of steam wafted up from the grill, signs of the hot springs beneath the city. Doubtless the manhole was there because of the connection between the city's genuine sewage system and the deeper passages beneath; she would have to send the eye through the former to get to where she really wanted.

The grill was there as a drain, of course. It did not rain often in Haredil, but when it did it, it came sudden and heavy. She glanced up at the sky, which was more overcast than usual today. In fact, it looked as if one of the rare rain-bursts was on its way now - fortunately, she should be in and out before that happened.

She activated the eye, magically floating it down through the grill. As she did so, she heard a burst of laughter from the tavern... it had no rear windows, but the sound made her aware that someone might emerge from the back at any time. She moved up the alley, finding a tree that afforded her some concealment from anyone passing down the alley. It was perhaps fortunate she was on the edge of the gnomish quarter, for such trees were unlikely to be found in the human parts of the city, save along expensive boulevards. Gnomes, on the other hand, liked a touch of nature almost as much as did the elves.

Glancing around to confirm the safety of her position, she conjured up the disc of light through which she could see the eye's vision. There was, in truth, not much to see. It had floated down into a wide chamber, stone arches reaching up above to the grill, through which the only light poured. There was a small stone platform at the base, with deep grooves running down to a pool of water at one side, from which the steam was rising. Two passages led off into the darkness, but she had to admit that there was no sign of anyone having been here recently.

Suddenly, she saw another glimmer of light, from down one of the passages. It was orange, flickering like the light of a torch. There was somebody else here, and close by at that! Sewer workers, perhaps, for who else could it be? Perhaps the demon had servants, and she reflected that this was exactly the sort of thing she had been scouting to discover. She had to move the eye down that passage, or she might as well not have come.

Realising that this would take longer than she had at first realised, she glanced about again, but the alley was still empty. Good. She coaxed the eye down the passage, keeping close to the low ceiling, and heading towards the light. So far as she could tell, the passage itself was a storm drain, and not interesting in itself... but what lay beyond?

She had to turn another corner to find out, and her eyes widened in surprise at what she saw. It was a small chamber, partly natural from the looks of it, and, in the middle of it, somebody had placed a small lantern. The smoke it gave off was minimal, and probably mingled enough with the natural steam from elsewhere in the underground warren that it would not easily be noticed when it escaped to the surface. But what was so odd was that the place looked lived in, with rolls of bedding against the walls. These were no mere visitors, but short-term residents, at the very least.

Because, yes, there were people here, all of them human, and none of them, fortunately, glancing upwards as the eye floated slowly into their refuge. She kept it still, not wanting to risk detection, although the lantern cast only a little light. From that vantage point, she did her best to examine the three people in the little chamber.

One was an old woman, sitting cross-legged in front of the lantern, grey sack-cloth shrouding her skinny frame, and long tangled hair half-hiding her face. She looked like a beggar, although why even a beggar would prefer to be down here than up above was something of a mystery.

The other two were younger, a man and a woman. The man wore black clothes, and had a thin face with dark hair and a short beard. He looked, she thought, too clean to live down here all the time, and his clothes were too good to be those of a beggar. The younger woman too, did not look as if she really belonged, sitting hunched up in a corner, knees pulled up beneath her chin. Her hair was long and brown, the uncut fringe flopping down over one side of her face. Like the others, she was thin, and of small stature, although still, of course, large compared with a gnome. Her clothes too, were cheap, but clean and in good repair.

They were talking to each other, while the man and the younger woman occasionally glanced down the corridor that she had floated the eye down. Their hands fluttered as they did so, and their faces seemed full of nervous energy, as if they were agitated by something. Of course, she could not hear a word they were saying, so the conversation did not help her solve the mystery.

As she tried to make sense of things, she heard a rumble of thunder, and looked up, cursing silently, as heavy drops of rain began to fall, as if out of nowhere. Within seconds, the rain was pouring down, and even the tree was providing little shelter against the driving sheets of water. She had to pull the eye out now and run for cover, if she did not want to be completely soaked. Even that might take longer than she would like.

But just as she resolved to do so, she saw something that made her freeze, watching just a little longer. The man crouched down, onto all fours, and his body began to ripple, changing and morphing as she stared in amazement. His clothes seemed to be retreating into his flesh, somehow incorporated into the transformation as fur began to sprout along his body, and his face began to elongate.

He was shrinking too, and a tail sprouted from his buttocks. She had seen a werewolf once, out in the wilds, and she had no doubt this was something similar. But it was already clear that this man was no werewolf, for the rapidly developing features were not lupine, but rather those of a large sewer rat. Wererats! She had heard of them before, yet never encountered one -- but here they were beneath her own city!

That the others showed no surprise at the sudden change to rat form surely indicated that they were of the same stock. It somehow made sense for the older woman, although her younger companion looked too pretty to have the blood of rats in her veins. Pretty in a waif-like kind of way, admittedly, but still somewhat incongruous.

The man, now looking exactly like a slightly over-sized rat, scampered off through a small crack in the walls that she had not noticed before. Vardala realised that she had to leave now, before she was seen, and ideally before she was soaked to the skin by the downpour out here in the surface world.

Just as she moved the eye back the way it had come, another distraction reared its head -- the sound of running footsteps. She flicked her hand to make the vision from the eye vanish, and looked up to see who was coming. The eye would still float, but without the visual guidance, it would be difficult to move it back down the passage... she had learned much, but her luck was obviously not in today.

The owner of the footsteps almost threw himself into the tree beside her, glancing up at the sky above, and the raindrops that fell through the leafy branches. She reflected briefly that he did not seem much happier than she was.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given her location, her new companion was a gnome, just as she was. He was about her own height, dressed in a blue jerkin with a high collar, now darkened from the soaking he had received, and earthen-coloured trews. He had light brown hair and sideburns, and looked to be in his thirties, reasonably young for one of their race.

"Damn," he muttered, looking sideways at her, his arms wrapped around his chest, "I don't think this is going to stop any time soon, do you?"

"Err... no," she said, still trying to control the eye and get it back to the grating, which was surely now pouring with water.

"Are you all right?" he asked, apparently noticing her distraction.

"Yes... yes, I'm fine." She could do without this now, but did not want to look too suspicious. Unfortunately, it was difficult to hold a conversation and move the eye at the same time. "I... I'm just trying to get my bearings."

"There's a tavern just over there," the gnomish man offered, "but I'm afraid it's not a very good one. Or... look, are you sure you're all right?"

"Really, yes!" she replied, and saw the eye zip up from beneath the grating at the end of the street. She turned, placing her body between the man and the tiny ball now flying towards her. Her desperation and odd behaviour had clearly not gone unnoticed.

"Look, if you need help, I can..." he paused, looking into her eyes before suddenly coming to a decision. "You know, I just live round the corner. We could make a run for it."

"You go," she said, "thanks for the offer, but you don't know me. It really wouldn't be... perhaps I'll see you round, though." She flashed what she hoped was a winning smile.

"Well... uh, fair enough, then. Perhaps I will... see you, that is." And with that, the man turned, gave a final glance in her direction, and ran out again into the pouring rain.

Vardala looked after him, pocketing the eye as she did so. He was right about the rain not stopping, and the tavern had not looked very inviting. She swore, watched the man's retreating back, and then dashed out after him. "Wait for me!"

──◊──

The gnome's name, she learned, was Fentik. He lived in a small, comfortable house that was, just as he had promised, barely more than a street away. The sight of the kitchen took her back to her own childhood, and the comforts of a gnomish home. It was cosy, with a ceiling that would have been too low for a human, and bunches of herbs hanging besides cauldrons and flagons above a large stone fireplace. Even the dark wooden table with its comfortable chairs reminded her of a safe life she had long ago left behind.

Fentik had excused himself, and left her in front of the fire to dry off. She had removed her boots, and was savouring the feel of the thick fireside rug between her bare toes. The fire blazed away, a roaring fire just lit, shedding its warmth on her sodden clothing. Flicking a strand of wet hair out of her eyes, she pulled her top off -- she was still wearing a loose shirt underneath -- and placed it on a clothes rack beside the fire.

She looked around the room again, noting the single place setting on the table. So Fentik lived alone, with no wife or girlfriend. Well, he was a young man, perhaps there would be time for that later in his life.

Her tight leather trousers were soaking, too, so she turned back to the fire, unbuckling her belt, and half pulling them over her hips before remembering where she was. She could hardly undress here, in Fentik's kitchen! What would he think, when he came back, to find herself standing by his fireplace clad only in her underwear?

She felt a warmth in the pit of her stomach at the thought, one that had nothing to do with the blazing fire in front of her. Yes, what would he think, and would she mind? She had been concentrated on Horvan for so long, that she had not looked at anyone else. Yet Horvan was unattainable, so she could hardly claim she was saving herself for him.

How long had it been since she last had sex? At night, she could stroke herself to blessed relief, but that was hardly the same as being with a real man. Perhaps she needed to get Horvan out of her mind, focus on someone who really could give her what she needed. And Fentik was a good-looking, handsome gnome. The way his wet clothes had stuck to his body showed that he was well proportioned, without a trace of fat, and his eyes were kindly, his fresh face open and friendly.

She gave a sharp intake of breath as she decided that she had to try this. Her nipples hardened at the thought, dimpling her thin under-shirt, and she felt a flush of warmth between her legs. Hurriedly, she pulled her trews down, and laid them close to the tunic.

Before she could do anything else, the door to the kitchen opened, and she looked up to see Fentik standing there, a large towel in his hand. "I brought you..." he began, and then broke off at the site of her standing there, dressed only in a thin sleeveless shirt and short panties. He swallowed, blushing slightly as he did so, and looked down at his feet -- yet not before she had seen his eyes widen with unbidden desire. "Perhaps I should just put this down, and... uh..."

He had changed his own clothes in the time he had gone, putting on a green shirt, leather waistcoat and tight tan-coloured trews. His hair was still a little wet, but otherwise he looked dry and well groomed. He had even combed his hair a little. Perhaps he had intended to come on to her a bit, although he seemed taken back to discover her already in her underwear.

"It's your house," she reminded him, "I wouldn't want to drive you out of your own kitchen. I just need to get my clothes dry."

He nodded mutely, and put the towel down at arm's length on the table, not taking a step towards her, and obviously unsure of how to act.

"I don't know about you," she said mischievously, turning her back to him in order to face the fire once more, "but that rain soaked me right through." He said nothing, and, from the sound of it, had not even moved a muscle. She smiled to herself, and added, "I hope you don't mind if I dry this, too." So saying, she pulled her shirt off, lifting it over her head to give him a good view of her bare back. Folding one arm across her breasts, she laid it beside the tunic. It wasn't really wet, but that didn't matter.

She turned back to him, the arm still in place. He was not looking at his feet any more, but his blush had only deepened. Glancing down, she could see the bulge in his trews that told her he was very definitely interested, no matter that he was trying to act otherwise.

"Why don't you come join me?" she asked, "get yourself really warm."

"I wouldn't wish to... I don't want you to think that I... it wasn't my..." He remained rooted to the spot, his words tripping over themselves. So he had thought about it, but didn't want to admit that fact; it was rather touching in a way.

Seeing that he seemed unable to decide what to do -- as if that should have been in any doubt -- she dropped the shielding arm to her side, and stepped towards him across the bare floorboards. Grabbing onto his nearest arm, she almost had to drag him forward towards the rug and the fireplace. His eyes locked onto her bare breasts, and then up to her face before he suddenly reached a decision.

Fentik took her head in his hands, and pressed his lips to hers, a long passionate kiss, their tongues twining. She pushed herself up against him, as she felt his hands fold around her back, running over the bare skin. Her cunt ached as she thought about what it would feel like to have him inside her. She slipped one hand down the inside of his trews, finding his rock hard erection, wrapping her fingers around it.

He pulled back, just for a second, almost tearing off his waistcoat and fumbling with his shirt to pull it off. She took the opportunity to remove her own panties, throwing them carelessly to one side, leaving herself naked before him.

He was still struggling with his shirt, pulling it over his head. Impatiently, she reached for the drawstring of his trews, pulling it open. Their mutual lust was animal, intense, overwhelming their senses.

She pulled him towards her again for another passionate kiss, his shirt at last free, and his trews sliding down to his knees. She used one hand to explore his back, and ran the other up over his flat belly to tickle the short hairs on his chest. It had been too long since she had felt the firm body of a young man beneath her fingertips. She savoured the smooth skin and taut muscles, teasing one of his nipples with her thumb.

His kisses travelled down her neck now, and she threw her head back to give him better access. Fentik's hands reached for her breasts, cupping them, sliding over her hard pink nipples. She murmured something encouraging, and he dipped lower, running his lips and tongue over first one side, and then the other.

"Yes... yes..." he gasped, between kissing her breasts, his hands moving down to her hips.

He seemed happy to stay there, but she wanted more. She placed her hands on his shoulders, and pressed him down, so that he dropped to his knees in front of her. With an animal moan of frustration, she pushed her hips towards his face, and moved her legs slightly apart.

He gasped out loud, swallowed audibly, and turned to look up at her, as if uncertain of what to do next. Apparently, she would have to tell him. "Lick me... lick me, Fentik."

The sound of his name seemed to galvanise him into action, and he planted a kiss on her hot lips, hesitantly flicking out his tongue to taste them. It soon became obvious that he had not done this to a woman before, so she whispered a few more words of encouragement. It did not take much, and soon she felt his tongue darting into her pussy, seeking out her clit. He moved one hand, first to grip the inside of her thigh, and then to pull her pussy slightly apart so that his tongue could get a better purchase. She moaned involuntarily as it brushed her clit, pleasure surging through her body. "Right there!" she gasped, just in case he needed further guidance, "don't stop!"

She ground her hips into Fentik's face as he continued to suck her. His free hand grasped her buttocks, helping to push her in. Her knees were going weak and she was glad for the support, especially when his other hand extended a finger to push deeper still.

Vardala closed her eyes, running a hand through his sandy hair as he brought waves of pleasure rushing through her body. She cried out wordlessly as her orgasm broke, pulling away from him at last, to fall beside him onto the rug.

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