Sarlene's Touch Ch. 32byFuinimel©
The woman was most immediately notable for her flaming red hair; a rarity in Haredil. Her long skirts and the high collar on her dress marked her out as a native of the southern lands, far from her homeland. But that was no surprise to Almandar, for that was where Ornejirhs had followed her from.
Or, more accurately, that was where he had followed Sashjant from. As the dragon had indicated, the shape-changing demon travelled with a personal harem, and the redhead was one of that number. Almandar and the others had observed the group, confirming Ornejirhs' story, at least as far as it could be. According to Lady Tarissa, Sashjant was an unusual type of demon called a rakshasa, and highly skilled in the ways of magic. Mind-affecting enchantments were clearly among his powers, and he had used them to gather the women, and to hold them in thrall.
It had soon become apparent that the women were the route through which they could tackle the demon. Each carried some kind of magical key that they used to enter Sashjant's home; there was no other way in, which perhaps explained Ornejirhs' failure to get close, especially since the demon could obviously sense his approach, and knew Imrilda's identity.
It did not, however, know the adventurers, and that was the basis of their plan. Almandar would get one of the women on her own, allowing the others to capture her without the demon realising. Between himself, Calleslyn, and Lady Tarissa, they were confident of being able to end the enchantment, freeing the woman from her slavery. Once they had the key, they had a way to approach the demon, and deal with it permanently.
They had chosen the redhead as the easiest target for the plan; she seemed to be a household servant, making her less dangerous if anything went wrong. Sashjant himself almost never went out in the open, but his women did have to venture out from time to time, whether to deal with outsiders, or, as today, simply to buy food and supplies. Unfortunately, they never went alone, and it had taken some time to find an opportunity to put their plan into action.
"You're new here," said Almandar, "a visitor from the south?"
The woman looked up, startled to be addressed. She had been buying fruit in the market square, pomegranates and oranges, appraising them with a skilled eye, haggling with the trader, and then putting them into a large bag. Her green eyes darted around, evidently wondering if he was speaking to someone else, before settling on Almandar.
"Yes..." she said, uncertainly, "we're just buying some food."
Almandar couldn't help his eyes wandering over her. Like all of Sashjant's women, she was young and attractive, for, no matter what else the demon might be, he seemed to have good taste. Her skin was pale, remarkably so by Haredil standards, with a pinkish tinge and freckles on the bridge of her nose that complemented the colour of her hair. She was rather short, with a slender build and high rounded breasts beneath the tight pale purplish-grey fabric of her dress. Like most southern women, she had little of her flesh on display, nothing more than her hands and face, and she even had a long blue scarf draped over her shoulders. Her skin, he reflected, probably burned easily, and, while it was approaching evening now, the scarf might help protect her from the noonday sun.
"I'm Almandar," he said, holding a hand out, "I hope you're enjoying your time in our city."
"I..." she said, hesitantly, "I am busy. I have many things to do."
"So you have not had a chance to see much? That's a pity." He noticed she still hadn't given him a name.
"She is with me," said the other woman, interrupting before the redhead could speak.
He had picked a time when just two of the women were together, hoping to find some way of distracting the companion just long enough to cast the spell and free the redhead from the demon's influence. As yet, he wasn't completely sure how he was going to do that, although he was conscious that the other adventurers were standing not far away, observing everything he did, ready to move when they were needed.
"Well, pleased to meet you both," he said, still holding out his hand to the redhead, although she had not taken it yet.
The second woman was, if anything, even more exotic in appearance. She hailed, not from the south, but from the distant east, her jet black hair and almond eyes instantly giving that heritage away. She was tall for a woman, as tall as Almandar himself, with a slender, yet muscular frame, and her hair tied back in a long plait that fell to the small of her back. Her bearing alone indicated that she was a warrior of some kind, a fact confirmed by the unusual weapon at her belt. The way she was scowling at Almandar, with arms crossed, did not bode well.
The redhead looked uncertainly between the half-elf and her companion. "Yes," she offered, "well... uh..."
"I am sure you could make time to see a little more of the city. You can't visit Haredil and not see any of the sights."
"She has many things to do," said the oriental woman in her notably thick accent.
"Come on," he said reasonably, "what harm can it do? The market will be closing soon, anyway."
"I have to be getting back," said the redhead, "or he..."
"I will see," said the warrior quickly, cutting off the shorter woman in mid sentence.
The redhead blushed, a flash of sudden fear crossing her face. "I didn't mean to... I mean, we have to be getting back. Before it is dark."
"I will see," repeated the warrior.
"Sorry, Mei?" asked the redhead, apparently as confused as Almandar was feeling, "what do you mean?"
"I will see city. You return home, and I will see city. Show you after." She turned to Almandar, her face impassive, dark eyes unreadable. "Yes?"
"Uh, yes... of course," he said, realising swiftly that it made little difference which of the two he went with. Given the oriental woman's wariness, it did not look as if he would have much chance to try reversing the enchantment on her, but the other adventurers were watching, so all they had to do was follow the redhead, and let Calleslyn cast the counter-spell instead of him.
"But, Mei..." said the redhead, widening her eyes, and jerking her head back in the direction that Almandar knew Sashjant's home was in. "We can't... you know..."
"I safe," said the oriental woman, patting the weapon at her belt. It was a curious one, a sort of small single-bladed pick with a long chain attached that looped around the belt to end in a heavy metal weight. "You go. I show you city after."
The redhead tried to muster up a further objection, but was clearly worried about saying too much in front of Almandar. Finally, she shrugged, muttered "See you later, then," and bustled off into the crowd. At the edge of his vision, Almandar could see Vardala moving to follow her. They had had the same idea he had; good.
"Well," he said, turning back to the oriental woman, "Mei, is it?"
"I am Mei-Xing," she corrected him, "you Armandar?"
"Yes, close enough." The strangeness of her language probably meant that he would do no better at trying to pronounce her name correctly – there seemed to be some musical quality to it that he was sure he couldn't replicate. "Have you seen the Eagle Pool?"
He decided to take his role as a guide to the city seriously, showing her some of the sights, from the great plaza in front of the palace to the Eagle Pool, and pointing out the minarets of more distant buildings, such as the Temple of the Sun, where they reared above the surrounding rooftops.
She seemed to appreciate it, genuinely interested in what he had to say, although saying very little in response. Her hand never strayed too far from her strange weapon, but the suspicion that had initially filled her eyes seemed to fade with time. He had had no opportunity to try using the counter-spell on her, and did not see how he was going to find one. That, he decided, was a pity.
Not because it would be necessary for their plan; if all went well, the others should be able to free the redhead from her enchantment, now that he had given them the chance to do so. But Mei-Xing no more deserved to be the mentally controlled slave of a demon than anyone else. With her exotic looks and musical voice, he was beginning to warm to her, and did not want to have to send her back to her master, even for one night.
Which was why, even after the sun had set, and the western horizon was shading into a deep purple, they found themselves in one of the city parks, sitting on a bench, watching the larger moon hovering over the city skyline. Almandar realised he was trying to find reasons to delay sending her back, and that, ultimately, it would be futile, but he could not resist trying to drag things out further.
"You must have seen several cities in your travels," he said, breaking a long silence.
"I visit many cities in south and east," she said; it had become clear that her grasp of the Common Tongue was weak, which might explain why she had said relatively little so far. "I see few."
"You mean, you're busy all the time?"
"Yes. I travel with a friend. A good friend, and have much to do for him."
"Is that why you decided to join me today? To get away?"
"No, not get away. He is good friend. But I need change some times, yes? See new things. I travel far, but see little. Today is good. So I send Kara home, and see the city."
"I thought you might be trying to protect her."
"Yes, I was not sure about you. But you are good man, and it is good to have change some times. Haredi," she stumbled over the name of the city, "is pretty. I am happy to see it."
He looked across at her, but she was staring into the night sky. Like the redhead – whose name he now knew to be Kara – she was an attractive woman. Her skin was a light golden brown, although that was no longer readily apparent in the moonlight, and her hair an absolute midnight black, perhaps more so than that of any other woman he had met. Her nose was small and delicate, her neck long and slender, the throat now exposed as she tilted her head to look at the sky. Her clothes were exotic, made from a lustrous blue satin fabric with abstract designs highlighted in a slighter darker shade. She didn't wear a dress; instead favouring a wrap-around tunic and long trews, the edges and cuffs trimmed in golden satin. White slippers enclosed feet that looked dainty for a warrior, and she carried herself with a remarkable grace and poise that spoke of a high degree of athleticism.
"Good," he said, honestly, "I've enjoyed it, too." She said nothing for a while after that, watching the sky as the stars came out one by one. She seemed to be in no hurry to get back home, and he had no reason to encourage her. "What do you do for this friend of yours," he asked after a while, "that keeps you so busy?"
"I am..." she frowned, apparently looking for the right word, "I am a... 'monk'?"
Almandar grinned despite himself, "I don't think that's the word you're looking for."
"Oh. What is a monk, please?"
"It's a man who... well, they work for temples, and they... it would take a long time to explain, but I really don't think you fit the description."
She nodded, leaning forward, and putting her hands together, as she tried to express herself in her limited knowledge of Common. "I trained in a temple. To keep perfect my body. To fight fast, and without weapons. To be in harmony with my... I do not know the word... like magic, but not magic. It flows and is part of... oh!" she let out a little gasp of frustration, "I cannot say in your language. Too many words."
"That's all right," he said, patting her reassuringly on the arm without even thinking about it. When she didn't flinch, he left his hand there, and was pleasantly surprised when she brought her free hand across to lay it over his. "I am sure it doesn't matter."
"Perhaps not," she said, smiling. He realised it was the first time she had really done that since they had met. "I like you, Armandar. I need a good man."
He wasn't sure quite what she meant by that, and so said nothing. There was always a danger of mistranslation somewhere along the line.
"You like me?" she asked, dark eyes watching him, their pupils wide in the gloom.
"Yes, I do. I think you're a good woman." He was about to say 'despite what has happened to you', but bit his tongue. He didn't want to give away the fact he knew anything about Sashjant.
She nodded, accepting the compliment. "It is dark now."
"Yes," he admitted; she was obviously thinking about returning to the rest of the harem, and, now that he thought about it, that would mean she might raise the alarm about the possible reason for Kara's absence, assuming the others had managed to intercept her.
"You must want to go home," she said, casting her eyes downwards.
"It doesn't have to be right away." He knew he couldn't keep her here by force, or take the time to cast the spell. She had already admitted to being an expert in unarmed combat, even if he could somehow disarm her.
"Please, I..." she stumbled over the words again, but it seemed this time as if a range of conflicting emotions were fighting inside her, and not just a simple difficulty with translation. How strong was the charm over her... could she perhaps fight it off herself, if only just a little? Or at least subvert it? If, even subconsciously, she wanted rescuing, that made it even more difficult to abandon her.
"I said before that I need a change some times," she said, finding her voice again. "I think I want change with you tonight. I want to... I do not know the word, not right word, but I want to stay with you tonight and not sleep. Yes?"
He breathed out, realising he had been holding his breath. "That," he said, "sounds like a very good idea, indeed."
As soon as the door closed behind them, Mei-Xing pressed herself into his arms, her lips fastening onto his. They kissed passionately, his hands feeling the limber muscles of her body through the cool satin, hers running through his hair. The suddenness of her motion almost caused him to stumble, and he bumped up against the wall, still some distance from the bed. She twisted beneath him, arms wrapped around his shoulders, until it was his body that hers trapped pressed up against the surface.
Their tongues entwined, breath coming hard as he surrendered to her evident passion, her hands now moving down to pull up his shirt, roaming over his bare back as one leg wrapped tightly around his, leaving her standing on just one foot.. When she finally stopped kissing him, he was gasping for air, although she seemed hardly affected, her eyes brimming with excitement and her mouth breaking into a wide grin as she ran the tip of her tongue slowly around her lips.
He wrestled with the fastening on her belt, causing it and the strange weapon to fall to the floor as he reached for the golden sash that held the tunic together. That unravelled much more easily, the broad flaps of her tunic swinging open. Pressed against her, his hands ran over her belly, which was taut and smooth, but less muscular than he had expected. She pulled his head towards her, and they kissed again, but this time he broke free, pressing his lips to the side of her mouth, over her high cheek bones and across to nibble at her earlobe.
"Yes, you are good..." she whispered in her musical, accented voice, before he turned his attention to her long and graceful neck, gently running his lips over it, pressing them against her warm flesh.
He peeled her tunic down a few inches, feeling firm muscle as his lips explored her shoulders. She was not heavily muscled, as a man might be, but there was no doubt as to her athletic potential, and he imagined that her professed skill at unarmed combat would be quite impressive if he ever got to witness it.
The satin tunic fell loose, now held up only by her elbows, for her arms were still around him, one hand caressing his hair, the other running against his lower flank beneath his loose shirt. She wore nothing beneath it, and he paused for a moment to admire her pert breasts, firmly erect nipples rising from tiny dark areoles. A moment later, he fastened his mouth over one, kissing and sucking, teasing the hard bud with his tongue.
"Oh yes, I like that!" she cried out and he could feel her body writhing beneath his arms, her raised leg rubbing against his, her hips making slight motions back and forth.
Encouraged, he continued his ministrations before switching to the other side. She made slight moans of appreciation, arching her back to press the small globe more firmly into his face, and he obliged by sucking on her nipple more firmly yet.
At last, he broke free, straightening himself to kiss her again on the lips. Her hands moved down, pulling his shirt up further, and soon he was struggling out of his upper garments, still trying to kiss her as he did so, admiring her lithe torso as her own tunic fell to the floor.
Now it was her turn to rain kisses on his neck and down over his shoulders. One of his hands caught in her long braid, and he savoured the softness of her hair as it ran through his fingers. Her kisses moved lower, over his chest, tongue darting out to run circles around his nipples before kissing and sucking on them, exerting a slight pressure. Her leg untwined from his as she moved into a crouch, her lips now exploring his belly as her hands deftly undid his belt and pulled down his trews.
His hard cock, now free, brushed against her breasts as she dipped her tongue into his navel, determined to explore every cranny of his body. Slowly, she ran her lips down towards his groin, his erection now pressed against her chin. He did nothing, just holding his hands against her head, waiting to see what she would do next.
With a sudden motion, she pulled him inside her mouth, and he let out an involuntary sigh of contentment. Gripping his buttocks, she pushed herself against him as hard as she could, talking him the whole way in, until he was surprised she didn't gag. Slowly, she pulled herself out again, lips sucking on his shaft before plunging him back inside. The tip of her tongue caressed his balls as she pressed her small nose into his belly, and his cock quivered against the back of her throat.
After that, she began pumping him enthusiastically, sliding him and out with rapid motions, her head bobbing back and forth, her nostrils flaring as she somehow managed to keep her breath. He looked down at her, and she paused for a moment, wide eyes locked onto his before she returned to her task, fingers softly kneading his balls.
Just as he was wondering how much longer he could hold out, she released him, straightening up to take his head in her hands and kiss him for all she was worth. He could taste some of his sweat and pre-cum on her tongue, as he pressed her back up against the wall and stepped out of his remaining clothes.
"I need you, Armandar," she gasped between kisses, "I need you very much. Need you inside me."
He needed no further encouragement to pull down her satin trews and the panties beneath. He glanced down, gripping one smooth buttock in his left hand. Her thighs were strong, yet still womanly, not overly muscular. His eyes, however, were irresistibly drawn to her crotch. She was partly shaven, only a small, neatly trimmed, strip of black hair pointing downwards to between her legs, where he could already see a drop of moisture on her hairless pussy lips.
He pressed himself against her, forcing her up against the wall, small breasts squeezed into his chest, as she raised her left leg, brushing the back of his thigh with her toes, as if to show how remarkably limber she was. He groaned out loud as he thrust his cock between her pussy lips, and into the sopping dampness of her eager cunt.