Surfacing Ch. 09byEtaski©
Author's Notes: This story is erotic fantasy written by Etaski. I reserve the right to be listed as the author of this story, wherever it is posted. If found posted anywhere except Literotica.com with this note attached, this story is posted without my permission. (c) Etaski 2013
Not much to say except perhaps...wow, a male is so damned distracting in an all-female barracks...
Thena nudged Panagan with her boot's toe, getting her to turn her head, and signed, *Look who's back.*
The younger Red Sister leaned up from applying pressure as she worked the small piece of jade that D'Shea had given her, as the sorceress shown her. She was irritated with Thena for having lost her concentration but glanced across the stables from the loft. She blinked as she made out the robed, male figure. Her brows rose fairly high.
*Again? So soon?*
*It's been months.*
Panagan reflected briefly, pursing her lips and shrugged. *It has. So?*
*He was tutoring Gaelan, Sirana, and Jael before they left. And D'Shea is escorting him herself now.*
Panagan shrugged again. "No surprise. Suna told us the Elder can be near him now, and that he was claimed by the Valsharess at the trial.*
Thena nodded. *Exactly. So the Valsharess let him come here again.*
The younger archer expelled a breath, brushing her thumb over the sharpened jade. *I don't care anymore, Thena. Let him do as he will at the cloister. The Elders know what they are doing.*
*Even if it has to do with the Consort?*
*We've been told to stay away from him,* Panagan signed, letting some frustration show. *Were the punishments not enough for you? Was being given away to Elder D'Shea when Elder Rausery returned not clear enough a warning?*
Thena scowled at her subordinate, reaching forward to flick her ear painfully before signing firmly right in her face. *Don't take that tone with me! You only watched before in solitary, now you are happy playing with stones that D'Shea gives you? You are pathetic.*
*New tools I can make myself?* Panagan challenged the elder Sister. *New spells cast or components on my arrows? It's what I've wanted since I joined, Thena, I did not think D'Shea would ever grant it. I want nothing to do with the wizard or that Consort. I bet they had cause in all this recent trouble. They should have let Sirana die when she fell prey to a Draegloth. The Purge may not have happened.*
*As Jael should have died, if not for Sirana?* Thena signed back with a smirk. *They're an interesting group, aren't they? Trying to change the way things ought to be.*
Panagan shook her head. *Sirana and Jael are both gone, they won't come back.*
*And if they did?*
*They'll leapfrog over us in status.*
*If they return, then they earned it. But they won't.*
*Want to make a bet on it?*
The archer shook her head, glancing where D'Shea had already disappeared with her son and changing the subject slightly. *Shyntre was from before Qivni collected me, but I've heard the stories. Sisters talked whenever Rausery brought him over. I don't understand what he was thinking, pushing Elder Rausery until she put him amongst us in the cloister for a time. What did he want? Why allow it? Why not just kill him?*
Thena chuckled but shook her head. *I'm not sure, but he sure didn't get whatever he wanted. Rausery got so aggravated with Wilsira allowing him to bother us directly she stripped him naked and pushed him out of her office, let him try to find a way out of the cloister on his own.*
*Nope. It was a great game, left to whoever found him as a surprise, until word spread—same restrictions on a new Sister, no killing or maiming. He crafted some tools on his own to try to use in defense and always put up resistance, but he deserved everything he got and was even lower than the youngest Sister, passed around to everyone for a few intense cycles.*
Thena waved her hand above her crotch as if she was cooling down her cunt; she had a wicked grin on her face and Panagan nodded her understanding.
*He was sent back to Wilsira with some new skills and some very sore orifices.* Thena showed her teeth in a leering grin. *He was fun. Different than a Noble male, or an army fighter, or another Sister.*
*Who was the youngest Sister at the time?* Panagan asked.
*Dead now,* the older Drow said with a shrug. *Doesn't matter.*
*But I thought I heard he actually hurt one of us.*
Thena frowned. *Maybe a lucky shot in the struggle.*
*No. Later, outside the cloister. Hurt by magic. One of us kept hunting him?*
The older Drow sighed impatiently, shaking her head. *He'd be dead if he did that. Who told you?*
Panagan hesitated, looked around her first. *Qivni. I was new. She warned me to leave him alone the first time I saw him. That if he wasn't killed for using damaging magic on a Red Sister, then someone important was watching him.*
*D'Shea, obviously. Or Elder Rausery.*
The younger looked skeptical, and there was a quiet moment as they thought separate thoughts, before she said, *How long after those first cycles in the cloister did Elder Rausery actually take him on a Surface mission with her?*
Thena stared at Panagan as she thought about it, trying to remember. *Not sure. A decade?*
*Maybe he did get something, then,* the younger signed. *Maybe Elder Rausery was testing him like she tests recruits and novices?*
Thena's smirk shifted to a frown. *What, give a male training as a Red Sister, even dumbed down? Just because he was D'Shea's pestering son?*
Panagan shrugged. *I don't know why. But Elders see potential we don't. Why else would she train him for anything at all?*
The elder's nose wrinkled and her copper eyes narrowed. *I don't like that idea. Males don't belong in the Sisterhood. They're a distraction. We didn't get much done while Shyntre was here displaying his bare cock and ass like that.*
*And now there's the Consort here for some reason,* Panagan signed slowly.
Thena was still for a few moments. *Think D'Shea is keeping him for something similar? He doesn't have the will Shyntre has. He wouldn't last a cycle before we broke him.*
*No, not similar,* Panagan answered. *She's keeping him out of sight and protected. It's something else.*
*And you don't want to know what it is?* Thena prodded again. *The beauty is the second male the Elders have brought to the cloister, and now they bring the first one again within a short time, both protected? Do we just accept it?*
Panagan pursed her lips and glanced at her jade. *We have to wait and see, Corpora. We are still beholden to the Elders, who are still beholden to the Prime and the Valsharess.*
*Why would the Prime want males becoming so familiar with the inner cloister?*
Another helpless shrug. *I don't know. Trust the Elders, Thena. Please. Or at least obey them.*
The elder Red Sister did not reply; she got up and left.
"Elder Rausery will be back soon," Qivni said. "I've already sent her a message, Elder."
D'Shea nodded, noting Shyntre's tension increasing at the news that there wouldn't be a quick exchange passing him directly from his mother's company to his sponsor's.
"Are there notes already available on which he could start transcribing?"
Rausery's aide shook her head, her face stoic as ever. "Not laying out where I would pick them up, and no instructions to retrieve them, Elder. I believe her errand came up rather quickly or she would have waited. She knew you were coming."
"No need to explain, Lead, I understand," the sorceress responded, although she considered the semi-apology a good sign.
Despite what D'Shea herself would have thought at first, Rausery had proven to know her closest Lead much better than she thought. After witnessing her two Elders' discussion over the fate of the Sisterhood, seeing that they both hadn't given up on their subordinates even if their methods were different, and seeing them come to a willing compromise, the Lead now was more amenable to working between the two Elders than she ever had been.
With Jaunda being unavailable much of the time and D'Shea making real effort to mend what she could of the four Sisters she'd nearly broken, Qivni had grown in her responsibilities over the past few weeks and took to them well, now more a delegator and focus point for the other Leads and the ranks below her. Rausery was extremely pleased, and D'Shea had to take what she could get.
The slope was slippery at the Palace and among the Priestesses; there was much more to watch now among the Nobles; the Sisterhood had been lacking in focused leadership, much to D'Shea's chagrin seeing the inarguable difference with Rausery present as well, she had to admit now she had been overwhelmed. Not the least of which among all this was the two males, whose fates D'Shea was trying to hold onto rather than abandon them and let them spin out into the Abyss or vanish in the Valsharess's Palace.
D'Shea had a few things to get done at this time as well, and she hazarded the guess that Shyntre did not want to follow her around. She wouldn't just throw him into her room with Auslan; not quite yet, she wanted to ease into that after Shyntre believed that he had some genuine protection here. He'd just been ripped from one close place; she wanted him somewhat settled before making any plays with the Consort.
"Who is available to be a competent bodyguard for Shyntre until Elder Rausery returns?"
Qivni pursed her lips in thought. She seemed to consider then discard a few choices then sighed. "I am, Elder. He can stay in this wing with me."
D'Shea considered, then nodded, turning to her son, looking at his eyes which were so much like Phaelous. "We will share a meal with Auslan later, Shyntre, if you're willing."
The wizard didn't reply immediately, looking at her slightly sideways, before speaking for the first time inside the cloister. "May I choose my meal to be elsewhere, Elder?"
"You may," D'Shea said with a small smile and holding his gaze. "I'll share my meal with Auslan in my quarters in such a case. It is not unusual."
One hand tightened unconsciously on a clutch of fabric at his side though he remained calm-faced, even smiled wryly. "Oh, not unusual? Where in the cloister does a male actually stay to sup with an Elder regularly?"
"He stays in my quarters. It is the safest place for him, solitary was not secure. No one touches him there."
The young mage was trying hard not to give much away on his face, but she could tell he had read between the lines. It was his first hint that someone had touched the Consort, and that D'Shea had taken steps to rectify that it didn't happen again. She didn't want Qivni or Auslan himself telling Shyntre first.
He asked with as much sarcasm as he could get away with. "No one, Elder? In the Sisterhood's cloister?"
D'Shea smiled calmly. "No one below the rank of Elder. For good or ill."
Shyntre tried smiling back in the same way; he was doing a good job, but his emotion was too strong for her not to see signs of it. "Curious. What do you mean, Elder D'Shea?"
She straightened, her cloak flowing as she shifted her weight. "Where will you take your meal, Shyntre? It is your choice."
He dropped the smile and frowned at her; he was far too intelligent not to see how her words had told him only enough to promise more, if he agreed. However, unlike before they could even talk to each other, she could think that he also saw she wanted to start with him in a simple trade: A meal and likely a conversation for an understanding of Auslan's well-being.
Her son weighed it, and if D'Shea had not been certain of his bond with the other male, it would have been convincing that he didn't care all that much. At least in comparison to his dislike of her.
He shrugged. "I'm willing to share a meal with you, Elder."
"Excellent. I will find you later." D'Shea nodded to Qivni, who bowed her head in acknowledgement, and turned to walk out of Rausery's wing.
Qivni glanced over at Shyntre as they were left alone and sighed, rubbing her temple briefly with a red gloved hand. She seemed to be considering something to say, but in the end held her own council as she shook her head.
"Come with me, wizard. I have work to do."
Shyntre followed wordlessly as he made rounds with the Lead, as she touched based with three others and passed on orders. Shyntre didn't know what those orders were; he was instructed to turn around and put on a blind each time, and presumably the communication was all in sign. He did as he was told, trying to remain as stoic as Qivni, though he could not keep from letting some tension show when he had his back to Red Sisters.
While he might have expected someone to try to touch him then as he was unable to see faces or intent—especially when the Red Sisters made no noise except for an occasional scrape of their boots on stone—and while he might have sensed the temptation or their private smirks...no one laid a harassing finger on him. He only listened to his heart as he waited each time, before being tapped on the shoulder and summoned to follow again.
The cloister was the same as he remembered from when he'd been chased or dragged through nearly every corridor of it. He still had the map inside his head and updated some details on store rooms or new barracks. He noted there were several empty rooms and wondered if they'd be selecting and initiating any new Red Sister novices soon?
"Here, carry this," Qivni said, handing a large sack of what his nose told him had to be taccin-cured pods. "Make yourself useful."
Shyntre pursed his mouth shut and carried the food as Qivni carried two more bags of equal size; they made their way back to Qivni's quarters where they dumped them out onto the clean-swept floor. She instructed him to start seeding the pods, placing the skins in one large sack and the seeds in another. The Lead began to do the same thing, and the wizard understood this was what they'd be doing as they waited for Rausery to arrive.
If he thought Qivni was going to strike up a conversation with him, or start probing or asking questions then, as time passed and seed after seed began to pile into the bag, Shyntre finally did believe that this Lead wasn't very inquisitive about his presence.
Oddly, he didn't remember for certain whether she had been among those who had forced her pleasure on him, although really, how could it be otherwise when the scent of fear was in the air? There had been so many... Still, he remembered Agalia before she was a Lead, because they'd been face-to-face for just long enough... and there were other faces whose names—if he'd ever known them—had come back the moment he saw them again at various times over the last century. Some of those who took him were dead now, more than half still lived.
He remembered Jaunda among them, but more recent events with Kerse and Sirana took precedence over the time when he was pretty sure she'd just been taking her "fair" turn because she snared him in the cloister. Shyntre had wondered before whether she simply hadn't been satisfied with the chase itself, that he hadn't been able to make it last, or if she'd thought him too frail for her frame. She could have been much worse, and it hadn't felt so sadistic as some.
Not that he had ever cared about satisfying her that way, and at least the Lead had always believed him to be smart; she had listened to him when it mattered. She made him useful, too, a time or two...she had relied upon his shields in the fight against Kerse.
Qivni, on the other hand...she was a Red Sister that he had never known much about, even though he'd seen her several times. She'd never been to the Surface, he didn't think, certainly not at the same time as him. She was loyal to Rausery almost to a fault and he had never seen her smile. Her shows of force, perhaps, did not come from taking pleasure in humiliation—or he would have remembered her better.
"Elder Rausery's training up top was successful, Lead?" he asked quietly.
"Not your business, boy," she growled, seeding pods without pausing. "She's back, what more would you need to know?"
Shyntre felt a small punch of nameless distress in his gut as he made himself speak again. "Elder Rausery had me help with the pre-mission training, Lead. I would like to know if she's pleased with the results."
"Then ask her. If you're asking for gossip, you're nudging the wrong Red Sister."
The wizard withheld a sigh and nodded as he kept working. More time passed, however, and he realized Qivni had been thinking on what he'd said and it had led her to a conclusion because she paused what she was doing and turned a narrowed, hostile gaze on him. He stopped, too, giving her his full attention.
"Tell me something, and I'll tell you something," she said flatly.
He hesitated. "What do you want to know?"
"Where exactly you went from asking permission to rape Sirana's ass to wanting to know how she fares on the Surface? We all heard how you came to the cloister to warn about what Kerse was doing, in the briefing before going to the Palace. Was it to save her?"
"A gate to the Abyss near our City was dangerous to all Drow," he pointed out, not answering the question.
Sharp, copper eyes stayed on him without blinking. Qivni had stopped seeding. "I'm guessing you could have prevented that even with casualties. Sirana was deliberately saved from dying. Those two events don't go hand-in-hand."
"Lead Jaunda was doing what she does; she doesn't leave Red Sisters to die, especially her own subordinates," Shyntre said, defensiveness leaking into his tone.
"While looking to you for solutions, I bet," was Qivni's retort. "And you could have chosen anything at all. It didn't even have to work, not if you wanted her to die instead, you just had to make the attempt."
"And be punished for failing a Lead's order?" he challenged, starting to feel angry. "You don't know what it's like for me, Lead. I don't think as you do, and I don't have the same choices!"
"Yet you were so angry at Sirana at the beginning," Qivni returned with quiet intensity, letting that hang in the air as she stared at him.
Shyntre pursed his lips and seeded another pod. He had looked away when he said, "It's not worth the energy anymore. She's been sent away."
"And you asked me if she was still alive."
"No, I did not. I asked whether Elder Rausery was pleased with my efforts."
Qivni snorted. "Meaning you want Sirana and the others you taught to make a good showing. Thus, being alive."
He expelled a breath. "Sure, yes, I'll accept that, Lead. What else do I have to show any pride in my skills?"
She was quiet again and they both went back to seeding.
"Would you be curious?" she asked.
"Not anymore, Lead," he answered. "You would read too much into it. Please bear in mind I've been to the Surface, it's at least of archival interest to me."
Qivni seemed to grant that with a small shrug and a slightly tighter frown. "Did it have to do with Elder D'Shea favoring her in an odd way? Did it make you angry?"
"In exchange, may I ask you from where you came, Lead?" he asked bluntly, tugging overly hard on a pod and flinging a seed out onto the stone floor which he scrambled to collect. "No one seems to know."
The Red Sister was dead silent, and he took it that she did not want to trade that, that it was a thankful end to their conversation.
Except it wasn't.
"Sure. I came from the same place you did, boy. Now answer me."
Shyntre felt his body jerk in surprise as he looked at her. His brain took an extra second to process the command. "I...uh...."
"Did you hate her only because of D'Shea's favoritism?"
Shyntre swallowed, but had to nod. "Yes, Lead. So you came from the Sanctuary?"