Sarlene's Touch Ch. 17byFuinimel©
The little alley was always quiet, and was even more so at this hour of the early morning, after the last of the prostitutes and drug peddlers had departed. Above, the sky was a clear dark blue, already lightening on the eastern horizon. The lesser moon was just visible above the rooftops, a small, baleful, yellowish half-disc, insignificant in the pre-dawn twilight.
Only creatures of the night were active at such a time, but Zarenis was hardly the only such person in the city. Another was the woman she had come here to meet, Nyvara. Even so, the tiefling hoped that she had not arrived too late, for Nyvara was human, and even she had to sleep at some time.
There was only one other person in the alley, a skinny and sallow-looking woman sitting hunched on a doorstep, lank and unwashed hair framing her thin face. The stranger did not acknowledge Zarenis' presence, looking away with disinterest. It was always unwise to pay too much visible attention to passers-by in this part of the city, for few people here wanted attention.
Zarenis, with barely more than a glance at the anonymous wretch, stepped into a narrow space that ran part way between two unremarkable buildings. There were steps here, leading down to a low cellar door. She knocked, three times, and after a short wait a panel slid open and a pair of yellowish eyes stared out at her. There was a deep grunt of recognition, then the panel closed and, after the sound of some bolts being undone, the door creaked open.
She stepped quickly inside, allowing the occupant to quickly close the door again. This was only a waiting room, she knew, a small chamber with only one window -- and that permanently shuttered so it never let in any light. Beyond, a heavy black cloth covered the archway that led further down to the cellar proper. The room was lit only by a lamp, casting deep shadows, but she knew that her companion's night vision was almost as good as her own.
"She is busy," said Rolgor, in his deep gravely voice. "Visitor should finish soon. You may wait."
Rolgor was a half-orc, six and half feet tall, powerful muscles filling out clothing that looked a little small for his massive frame. His skin was greyish-green, his hair short and dark with long sideburns that would have grown into a full beard had he been human. His face was flat, with a strong jaw, brow-ridges, and lower canines that just jutted out over his lip as blunt tusks. Zarenis had no idea what orcs would make of him, but by human standards, he looked brutish and ugly.
She supposed that she should feel some sort of affinity to Nyvara's bodyguard. Like her, he was a half-breed, an outcast in human society, forced to live in the seedier parts of Haredil because of the revulsion that normal folk felt for their kind. That was why there were so few half-orcs in the city, although they were still more common than tieflings. Half-elves could be accepted in either society, but not so those who visibly carried a taint of a hostile race.
Yet the truth was, she felt no bond to the man. In almost all respects, they were too different. What success she had earned was through her wits and skill, rising through one of the few professions open to her with ruthlessness and cunning. Rolgor had instead chosen to use his fists, battering his way through life. He had no great ambition, so far as she knew, and was making a living the only way he knew how, but it meant that they had little in common beyond the unfortunate facts of their birth.
Not to mention, of course, that Zarenis rarely felt an affinity for anyone if she could help it. It was so much easier that way, without the complications of friendship and the inevitable betrayals. She was on her own, and always had been, and there was little point pretending otherwise.
She sat down in one of the chairs pushed up against the wall and waited. Rolgor stood opposite her, not sitting or even leaning against the wall, but simply standing there, brawny arms crossed, yellow eyes flicking between her and the curtain. She said nothing; Rolgor was not a great conversationalist, and Nyvara would not see her until she was ready.
She could not hear the conversation beyond the curtain, so the time dragged on in near silence and semi-darkness.
"It has been agreed," said Valmor, "that Astelan will be sent into exile." The magician was sitting in the parlour of a woman that would have been familiar to Zarenis: Lady Amloth, the drow merchant that had hired her services.
"And the fools from the Church of Pardror had no luck interrogating him? You are sure?"
"From everything I hear -- and I hear a lot, now that we have a member in the guard. Because the Presence had already left him, he remembers nothing worthwhile. Even if they did sense the Presence within him when they arrested him, which I grant you is possible, they would have no reason to suppose it has spread elsewhere. And, so far as the authorities are concerned, he is simply using possession as an excuse to evade the full force of the law."
"He was careless," replied the merchant, "we do not want more such indiscretions, not at this early stage."
Valmor smoothed down the robes over his ample paunch, and took another sip of coffee. He might as well have been discussing the state of the cloth market or the schedule of guild meetings for all his outward demeanour showed. "We will have him killed, of course," he said, putting the coffee cup back down, "once he is a reasonable distance from the city. Make it look like bandits; it should be simple enough. But the Presence affects people in different ways, and we cannot always predict them in advance, especially as it grows. We cannot keep an eye on everyone, after all."
"No, doubtless this young man already had some attraction for his intended victim, and lacked the maturity to pick his time properly or to satisfy his desires with someone of lesser influence. We do not, I believe, have an issue with such blunders yet, but the time will come when there are so many of us that the secret will be revealed. Of course, if the Presence is powerful enough by then, it will not matter."
"That reminds me," said Amloth, with a slight smile, white teeth contrasting against the jet black of her lips, "I have been remiss as a host. This is an early hour for you, and I should be thanking you with more than just coffee." She clicked her fingers, and beckoned to the servant girl standing discretely to one side, gesturing towards Valmor.
The drow watched as the young woman stepped forward, and knelt on the rich carpet in front of the magician. Her dark hair was shoulder length, her brown eyes large and waif-like, her body slender and, as Amloth already knew, soft-skinned and supple. Although she had not been in service to her current mistress for long, it had already been long enough to know the sorts of thing that were required of her without further instruction.
Valmor eased forward in his chair as the servant lifted his robes, untying the cords of the garments that lay beneath. His cock stiffened as she ran her hands along it, rapidly reaching its fully engorged state. He looked down at her face briefly, apparently noting her good looks as she slipped his erection into her mouth.
He sighed contentedly as she went to work. "You are a most gracious host, my lady," he said, closing his eyes.
"To return to business," said Amloth, "my arrangements for the next step are already well under way."
Valmor opened his eyes again, looking towards the drow rather than to the young woman with his cock sliding in and out of her mouth. "Ah yes," he said, "my associate has made contact with Myrek, as you requested. They are, I believe, working out some details together."
"That is good," said Amloth, casually slipping a hand beneath the fabric of her dress to fondle one of her breasts as she watched the servant pleasuring her co-conspirator. Valmor's eyes widened, watching her intently -- it was clear which of the two women he was more interested in. But she, it seemed, was using that to lead him on, withholding herself as a promise of future reward.
"But I refer also to the matter of the censer. I have hired someone to obtain it for me, and I do believe we will have it in our hands soon."
"Well, that," agreed Valmor, "will greatly strengthen our position. With that in our possession... excuse me," he reached down, gripping the servant's head, making her move more quickly, his gaze all the while on Amloth. "...with that in our possession, inconveniences like Astelan will matter little. May I ask who you have hired?"
"Nobody you know," replied the drow, her free hand now stroking the inside of her thigh, knowing the effect it was having on the human. "She is very skilled, so I am told. But the important thing is that she is a tiefling."
"Half-demon?" said Valmor with surprise, "when she touches that thing, it will be interesting indeed!"
"That," said her ladyship with a smile, "is precisely the idea."
The wizard groaned as he came into the servant's mouth, gripping her hair almost painfully, holding her in position and forcing her to swallow every last drop. "And she has no idea?" he said, as he finally released the woman.
"None at all."
Zarenis heard steps on the stairway, and then the curtain twitched, and a man stepped out. She had never seen him before, but Haredil was a large city, so there was no surprise there. Yet there seemed something strange about him, something not quite right that jarred with her senses.
He was a thin man, short and wiry, dressed entirely in black, three sheathed daggers at his belt. He had dark hair, cur short with a neatly trimmed beard, and hard eyes that she somehow doubted would be capable of pity. But none of these things seemed particularly odd, especially here. What was it about him that seemed wrong?
He glanced in her direction, and she averted her gaze, not wanting to seem too interested in the stranger. His lip curled in a slight sneer, and she wondered if he had seen the garnet colour of her eyes, deducing that she was not fully human. Although, in the dim light here, if that was genuinely true, his own eyesight could not be that of a true human, either...
Whoever and whatever he was, and whatever sense of hers it was that made him feel wrong, none of it was her concern. He had simply been here to see Nyvara, as she was, and the sorceress had many unsavoury customers. It was, after all, her stock in trade. She had not seen the man before, and would not likely do so again any time soon. Or so she believed.
After letting the stranger out onto the street and re-bolting the door, Rolgor pulled a cord close to the curtain. It was attached, Zarenis knew, to a bell in the main cellar, alerting Nyvara that another visitor was here. She waited for a while, with Rolgor still watching her, apparently waiting for some signal that his employer was available. When nothing happened after a few moments, the half-orc finally spoke.
"You go in now," he said, simply.
She stood, and pushed aside the curtain, descending the narrow flight of stone steps beyond. At the end was a second curtain, helping to muffle any sounds of conversation and prevent those in the waiting room from eavesdropping. Lifting that aside, she stepped into what might, for lack of a better word, be described as Nyvara's shop.
It was a cellar room, windowless with a vaulted stone ceiling. Tapestries decorated with arcane symbols covered one wall, likely hiding a doorway that led into private rooms beyond. Unlike the waiting room, this place had a number of lanterns in various baroque designs, flooding the room with a yellow light, although still casting dark shadows. Across the middle of the room was long, low bench, filled with magical paraphernalia, with an upholstered stool in front of it, and a larger, more imposing chair behind.
Nyvara sat in the chair, every inch the dark sorceress. Zarenis knew that she cultivated the look deliberately, knowing the importance that appearance had to some customers. She wore a long-sleeved, figure-hugging black dress with a low-cut décolletage, and a wide belt with a silver buckle shaped like a circumscribed pentagram. Her natural looks only enhanced the effect, for she had long, flowing hair, jet black in colour, contrasting against skin almost deathly pale in colour. She was slender and curvaceous, and Zarenis imagined that the eyes of many men would be drawn well below her face.
"Zarenis," said the sorceress, her voice silky, grey eyes coolly assessing her visitor, "what brings you here today?"
"I need to go somewhere that I might not be welcome," replied the tiefling, getting straight to the point. "Getting to the place I can manage, but there may be a slight obstacle in my way once I arrive. You see, the place I need to go is used by magicians, and it is likely that they will have made arrangements to prevent unwanted visitors."
"Magical servants, or warding spells?"
"Just the spells, I would expect, but there might be a number, and I do not know what kind."
"Hmm." Nyvara leaned back in her chair, tapping the table with a slender hand, fingernails clicking against the wood. Zarenis saw that she wore a signet ring in the shape of a skull. "But you can locate the spells?"
She nodded, "yes."
"So you simply need some means of bypassing them. Knowing your line of work, I would imagine that brute force is not an option?" Zarenis simply shook her head. "So... a means of dispelling magic, then. That I can provide. But I will need to know a little more."
"I will tell you what I can." The less Nyvara needed to know, the better, but would still need the woman's help,
"How many magicians? How powerful?"
"Two, and I would say... moderately skilled. Not beginners, but not masters of the guild, either. But they have wide experience, perhaps access to items that could be unusual, not commonly available."
"Adventurers," said Nyvara with a half-smile on her pale lips, "I know the type. Dangerous opponents, if they identify you."
"I intend that they will not even see me."
"Quite." The sorceress put a hand to her chin, one long finger outstretched as she thought for a while. "Yes," she said eventually, "I believe I have something that can help you. But it will not be cheap."
"Neither are my fees."
"No, I would have thought not." The sorceress stood, and stepped over to a wooden box standing on a nearby pedestal, long skirts swishing against her legs. She made a complicated gesture over the box and then opened it, using some sort of puzzle-lock, her fingers moving too swiftly for Zarenis to see from her angle.
The sorceress lifted something from the box, and closed it again before returning to her seat and placing it on the table. It was a smaller box, about ten inches long, which slid open at her touch. Inside lay a wand of lacquered wood, dull grey in colour, with swirling patterns in a darker grey decorating its surface.
"I believe this will meet your needs," she said, "allow me to explain..."
The servant girl squatted on all fours as Valmor lifted up her skirt, and pulled down her undergarments. The planning was over for the moment, and he intended to enjoy himself a little more before leaving. His hands fondled the woman's pale buttocks and pulled her legs apart to give him a better view.
Lady Amloth looked on with slight amusement. The magician was in his forties, and noticeably overweight, unlikely to be someone that her servant would have chosen for herself. But, in her service, that sort of choice was not an option.
"Do you like what you see?" she asked, half-slipping a strap off one shoulder, revealing something of the upper curve of one jet black breast.
The magician licked his lips, his eyes now fixed on the drow, waiting for her to reveal more. She cast her own eyes downwards, looking from him to the woman positioned in front of him. "Oh," said Valmor, giving the woman's buttocks another squeeze, as if he had temporarily forgotten her, "yes, most suitable."
"By all means, tuck in," replied the merchant.
Valmor rubbed his cock, pulling his trews down with the other hand, then lifting his robes to expose more of his hairy belly. Once he was ready, he shuffled forward on his knees and pushed his growing erection into the servant's ass. The dark-haired woman let out a loud yelp of surprise, apparently having expected a different route of entry.
"Keep silent, wench!" growled the magician, slapping her angrily.
"I don't believe she has been taken that way before," commented Amloth, slipping a hand into her own panties. "But then, she has not been in my service for very long," she added, by way of an apology.
"Then it will be a new experience for her," said Valmor, this time thrusting himself inside much harder, his fat belly slapping against her violated buttocks. The woman cried out again, despite herself, earning herself another cuff.
At that moment, there was a knock on the door to the room, and it opened to reveal one of Amloth's manservants. He took no notice of the magician forcing himself on his colleague, nor of the fact that his mistress was fondling herself beneath her skirts; apparently there was nothing unusual about such things.
"Myrek and Mistress Yelvann to see you, my lady," he announced, "shall I send them in?"
"Not now!" snapped Valmor, "wait until we've..."
"Of course," Amloth interrupted him, "we were just waiting for them." The servant bowed, having paid no attention to Valmor at all. "Don't let us stop you," she told the magician, although she was already readjusting her own dress, her hands no longer wandering.
Valmor spluttered something, withdrawing from the servant. "No, no, never mind," he muttered, pulling his clothes back together.
Shortly after, the manservant led the two visitors into the room, discretely shutting the door behind them. Valmor looked at the new arrivals with visible annoyance, turning to slight disgust as he viewed the woman.
In truth, she was nothing much to look at, gaunt and sallow-skinned, with a dull yellowish dress and lank, unwashed hair. She was obviously enough to put him off any thoughts of sex, and many men would have agreed. She glanced down at the female servant, whose dress was still hiked up around her naked hips, and raised an eyebrow as she looked towards Valmor.
"Yes, well, never mind that! You had better have a good reason for being here, Yelvann."
"I brought Myrek, as you both asked," replied the gaunt woman, "we just had to stop off on the way here for a small purchase. All part of the plan."
The other visitor stepped forward. He was a wiry man with close-cropped hair and black clothes. Three daggers were tucked into his belt. "I have what I need," he said, simply, "and, soon, I will bring you what you need."
"Your sister?" asked Amloth.
Myrek nodded. "I will have to choose the right time. My warren has few compunctions, but we are supposed to support blood kin, so they must not find out yet. Not until the Presence is strong enough to sweep them away or subvert them."
"I understand," said the drow, "of course, that is why she will make such a good sacrificial victim. Betrayal by one's own family can be so poignant." Her voice was slightly mocking.
"And what, exactly, will happen to her?"
"You mean after you've watched my associates and I take turns fucking her until she's half-dead?"
"Yes," said Myrek, slightly impatiently, "I mean after that."
"Ah, now that," said Lady Amloth, "is where it gets really interesting..."