A Drow's Dilemma Ep. 37: Negotiation


Ashyr heard the sorrow and regret in Caleldir's voice and therefore could not herself be angry with the mate-napping dryad. There had to be a way out of this without tossing fireballs all over the place and walking away from the dead wreckage. She had a feeling that, if any true harm came to Naliira, he would deeply regret it. Ashyr much preferred a happy Caleldir who felt like he'd done everything he could to get out of this terrible situation in the best way possible. So she decided to act - not so much out of the goodness of her own heart, but out of the goodness of her mate's. Ashyr slid between her cousin and the rest of the people. It was enough to get the younger drow's partial attention, which was all Ashyr needed.

Since drowsign was the only language they were reasonably sure no one else in the tree house knew, the drow began to have an argument in sign language in grand gestures and partially mouthed words spat from angry lips. Selene seemed to be repeating much the same thing over and over. It could be no mystery the point the younger drow was trying to get across. Ashyr's ideas were more varied and insistent, but they didn't seem to touch Selene's stubborn ideas on what they should do with Naliira.

Now, Caleldir had only a fraction of his father's talent in languages, for the old Leshay could hear a single sentence in a tongue and be able to flawlessly speak and understand it in its entirety, but he did not need supernatural understanding to guess at the gist of their communications. Ashyr wanted to negotiate, to save his feelings, and Selene wanted to burn everything, damn his feelings. Selene probably wanted to visit some sexual vengeance on him too, or was that just his imagination... Eh, either way, he anxiously watched the conversation. Not that he needed to be that anxious. Ashyr would get her way. She always did. The argument only lasted about a minute before Ashyr gave up and played her trump card.

"Because I said so." Ashyr finally hissed in undercommon. She tried to keep it quiet, but at this point frustration was getting the better of her. Selene had no choice but to obey now, and looked monumentally resentful because of it.

Ashyr then looked to Caleldir as she spoke her next words. "Naliira. You're -ah- husband made a promise to us. We need to get to his home town - city?" Ashyr shrugged. It didn't matter what she called it as long as Naliira got the idea. "You find us so desperate because it's a matter of utmost importance. Isn't that right, my l - Caleldir?" She'd almost said 'my love' which would likely not go over well with his 'wife.' "People could die - have died."

Caleldir looked between the drow and the dryad clinging to him. "Oh! Of course! I am sorry, Naliira darling. That is what I needed to do. My home, the Monastery of Eternity, is under a terrible curse. I have to go remove the curse. Once I do so, I will be back. I promise." Indeed he did. Once he broke the curse, he would be back. Of course, that could take a week, or several centuries. But he could buy her time either way.

"And you know how he is with promises and being a grand hero." Ashyr reminded the dryad. She gave Caleldir a fond smile. "We're sorry about barging in as we did. Caleldir is our friend and we thought he was in danger because we couldn't find him. What with his... confusion, he failed to mention his marriage to you. We had no idea that you had only brought him back... home... safely."

It was not the best speech that could have been given. Ashyr was not gifted with the sort of social grace most of her kind had. Even Selene likely would have done better had she not so passionately against this idea. But it was somewhere along the lines of what Naliira wanted to hear. The dryad's rose lips twisted in thought for a moment. Then she visibly relaxed until her grip upon Caleldir was merely possessive.

"Al...right..." Naliira said with great hesitance. "But, um, could you maybe stay long enough to make that... thing." She pointed over to the oven in progress. "And maybe clear out more dust?" She looked up at him with pleading eyes. It wasn't so much the task as it was the desire to keep him around just a little bit longer. "Your friends can stay with us until you can go."

Selene frowned harder, but Ashyr seemed open to the idea.

Immediately, Caleldir seized on the little bit of light that this option gave him. He did not seriously think that Naliira would go along with this plan. After all, what woman would seriously let her husband run off with two other women, one of which he had greeted with a passionate hug? No, it was a small miracle that she was as lenient as she was. Turning to Naliira, he shrugged. "I suppose that my mission has waited for a few days, it can wait for a little while longer. I will finish your stove and clean-up the dust. Give me about three hours, and I can clean up the guest room enough that these fine ladies can rest. And with that, our entire house will be swept clean." It had not escaped him that Ashyr and Selene seemed utterly exhausted. "I just need to confirm something..." Caleldir switched languages to undercommon and addressed Ashyr. "Are you sure that you will be fine staying here for a bit? I mean, if you were furious at the dryad and loathe to indulge her delusions one more second, I would understand. She did kidnap and... well, force me into sex. A lot. But I suppose that I do not really hold that against women. Right, Selene?"

"I can hate it all I want." Ashyr responded in undercommon with a shrug. "Won't change the fact that I really don't want to anger her. And that she can apparently take you back here whenever she wants. Pretty sure she made us sleep for a day. So it's kill her or play along." The older drow seemed to have already accepted all this. It helped that Caleldir didn't seem violently opposed to the idea. Selene, however, grew continuously sour.

"That makes sense. Here in her domain, the dryad queen is a demigod for all intents and purposes. I am not all that certain about our chances, even if I could turn back into Goelon Duvainor. She may think that she is an elf, but... well, let us just say that I could not even commit suicide in here to get away, and leave it at that." His face fell. "I am so annoyed about constantly being powerless!" Yeah, he may enjoyed being tied up, and even have a bizzare fetish for being forced, but his helplessness in the face of the dryad's madness had irked him to no end. "Anyway, I do not know if you have noticed, but these evil fungi everywhere are driving the dryad mad. I have been trying to restore sanity to her by purifying it. Actually, if Selene were to help me, I could really start making a dent. Make her a bit more stable."

"I sort of figured out what was going on. I can kind of... feel it, you know. The... ugh, grossness... and insanity." Ashyr took on a far-away look and rubbed at the goose flesh on her arm. As a ranger whose favorite place was a forest, it was no wonder that she was at least a little bit in tune with what went on within.

"I won't help her." Selene protested. "Ashyr, she took my - ah, Duskhaven property and..." She made a frustrated noise. The younger drow didn't know why she felt the way she did, but she did know that she was angry about it and unwilling to cooperate.

"What are you talking about?" Naliira demanded in her usual language: elvish. She couldn't help but be suspicious as they switched between languages.

Ashyr looked to the dryad with an awkward grin. "Um. My girlfriend is not feeling well. We'll spare our gracious host the details." The 'girlfriend' part she came up with after seeing the way Naliira clung to Caleldir. Ashyr could see the potential for jealousy. Maybe if she thought the two women were disinterested in men, she would calm down a little. "If you could clean up the bedroom and she can get some sleep, I'm sure she'll feel better in the morning."

Naliira narrowed her eyes in thought. She didn't seem to know what to think, actually. "I... guess." She finally said, though she didn't seem thoroughly convinced.

Ashyr identifying Selene as her girlfriend caused Caleldir to smile. That was an accurate way of looking at it, really. "Yes! I will clean up the room as fast as possible (the dust is magic, you might have noticed) and those two can rest in each other's arms." Although, that thought made him furrow his brow. The dryad would almost certainly want to have sex with him again once those two were in bed. Which would be... awkward. To say the least.

He would try get Ashyr's opinion. Returning to the table, he began working on the anti-fungal rot sheets again. "Ashyr! If your girlfriend will not help, I need a little assistance from you to get these done faster. Mind if I ask you a few questions on that topic?" Once he had signified to Naliira that nothing untoward was going on, he shifted to Undercommon to speak to Ashyr, who willingly joined him at the table. The ranger looked a bit lost when she gazed over the runes; this was not a project that was well-suited to assist in. It didn't matter, since Caleldir just wanted an excuse to talk. "So... errr... You do intend on staying the night? I will not be able to hold off Naliira. She always gets what she wants from me. Are you... okay with that?"

Ashyr noted a bit of suspicion on Naliira's face. "Sorry for using my native tongue, Naliira. My elvish isn't great." She excused them. And indeed she spoke with an underdark accent, made more heavy for her purposes. Ashyr only stretched the truth slightly. She switched back to undercommon. "I will stay the night." Her lips pursed in thought, then her lip upturned on one side and her brow furrowed in distaste. "I don't relish the idea of you in her bed instead of mine." She sighed as she toyed with a fingerbone tied in her hair. Silence stretched as she thought upon the subject, the longer it took the more she appeared to hate the idea. But what choice did she have? Selene was exhausted and there was no safe place nearby to stay.

"I will... ah... I guess I'll make food then?" Naliira said to the general party, interrupting the people speaking in undercommon. Her eyes still looked upon the drow with suspicion, but her wood elf housewife ideals were calling to her. A good hostess would not let her guests and husband go hungry. When no one objected, the dryad made her way to the kitchen to begin chopping vegetables.

Meanwhile, Selene sat in her corner by the door with a mulish look on her face. She just wanted to curl up with her family and sleep. But Ashyr was really pissing her off and Caleldir had a psychotic wife who would likely snap if any of the drow got too friendly with him. The idea of food only temporarily soothed her expression until she remembered her annoyance.

"That would be wonderful, Darling." Caleldir responded to his 'wife.' Returning to work, he sighed. Again. "I would much rather be with you. The dryad is... well, she is not you. For one, she is completely, utterly delusional, and when she possesses irresistible power, that is not a good thing. Also, she is the mother of my old teacher, which makes her sexual interest in me very awkward I just..." He looked completely sheepish. "Well, I feel so guilty about being made to cheat on you like this. It just feels so wrong. But I have resisted her every time so far, and every time she forces me anyway, and afterwards gets so emotional that I feel like the bad guy. It is just so emotionally draining..."

"Your old teacher..." Ashyr said in surprise. "Never mind. I do not feel as if you have cheated." She reassured him, though she hated Naliira in that moment more for jerking Caleldir around emotionally than anything else. To see him in any sort of pain was monumentally distressing. Her hand clenched in a fist instead, and she comforted herself as much as she could with crossing her arms in front of her body in a self-hug that honestly felt sort of pathetic.

Caleldir could see that Ashyr was holding herself back from... well, a large number of things. She also seemed to be bristling somewhat on the way that Naliira was emotionally abusing him, for that is what the dryad had ended up doing even if she was not doing it on purpose. "I do not know if I can blame Na-" he stopped. Referring to her by name in Undercommon would arouse the dryad's suspicion. "-the dryad, for her madness. I mostly feel sorry for her. Especially since I am about to elope with a couple of drow and leave her all alone again. She is going to be devastated, but I cannot hang around and babysit a mentally unstable demigoddess for the next thousand years."

Ashyr nodded. "And for now, I understand that some things happen that are beyond your control. If she insists tonight, well, enjoy yourself, I guess. Someone, at least, should be having a good time." Her hand ran behind her neck in the vain attempt to comfort herself. The thing that distressed her the most, aside from Caleldir's moral dilemma, was the fact that she herself wouldn't be able enjoy herself with him.

A wan smile to appeared on Caleldir's face. "I am sorry to put you in this sort of predicament. Once we get away, I promise to do whatever I can to make it up to you. To Selene to, if she wants to introduce some of the more... err, 'extreme' aspects of sex. In the meantime, I suppose that I will make Naliira's night if I participate instead of forcing her to rape me. She hates doing that." The irony in his tone was enough to fuel a smithy for months. A smile crossed his face. "I would suggest that maybe you could participate, but I doubt that Naliira would like that. No, for that level of seduction we would need Althaia: the nymph who can turn straight women bi and seduce husbands and wives at the same time."

"Right: we have to get Althaia as well." Ashyr said with a groan, just then remembering the buried nymph.

A small laugh came from Caleldir's lips. "She's still unconscious, hoarding ninety-eight percent of our supplies, I take it? Also, she still gives off that subtle aura of bravery that keeps Selene partly sane? Yeah, you will have to bring her in."

He turned to Naliira. "Darling, my cousin will be coming to visit. Sadly, she is... well not dead, but pretty close to it. We are trying to cure her unconsciousness, but we cannot leave her as a warm corpse outside all night. Do not worry, she will not stink."

"Um. Yeah, that's fine I suppose." Naliira responded uncertainly as she finished up the last touches to the food she was preparing.

With the sound of paper crinkling, he raised one of the papers, which was completed. "Two more to go. If Selene would help, I could finish in an hour."

Selene scoffed. She still had no inclination to help with Caleldir's task. It meant that they would retire to their room and him with Naliira. The younger drow did not want to rush that particular experience.

"Come on, darling." Ashyr urged her cousin. The older drow reached a hand out to the younger.

"Fine." Selene said in the interest of finally having a good place to sleep. She walked over to Caleldir and sat next to him. "Show me what you need, Cal." The younger drow ordered.

Ashyr turned to their hostess. "I know where his cousin is, Naliira. I need help getting her. Do you like dogs?"

Naliira's eyes lit up at Ashyr's question. She had just put a plate of food on the dining room table. The two women promptly exited the treehouse.

While they left, Caleldir handed Selene his finished paper. "Simply copy this using the copper ink. You should pour a small bit of energy into it, like you would if you were inscribing a spell into a scroll." He started a new sheet, showing her the basic technique.

When he thought Selene had it basically down, Caleldir decided to repeat his earlier apology to Ashyr. "So... I did promise that I would let you do whatever it was that you wanted to do to me earlier, and I have not yet fulfilled that promise, so I suppose that if you would like to have a toy that is nigh impossible to break, then I am your man." A look of mischief crossed his face. "I can even go back to pretending to be unwilling, if that is what you would like."

Selene merely harrumphed. His offer didn't seem to make her feel that much better. Selene was stubbornly determined to be grumpy. She felt like she had to defer to Ashyr's decision in this, but she also had to make it painfully clear that this was under great protest. The grumpy drow almost decided to refuse any food and hospitality of the dryad, but when the food was placed in front of her she couldn't help herself. There hadn't been much time for meals while the drow were trying to rescue their companion. She did wait until Naliira had gone away with Ashyr, though. No sense in letting that horrid woman know that Selene enjoyed the food.

As for inscribing the paper with the copper ink, Selene performed magnificently. Her page was exactly identical to Caleldir's in every way. She might have even improved upon it, had she been in a more helpful mood. The younger drow may have not had quite Caleldir's memory, but she had a good hundred more years of study on him and more magical talent. Selene also had a good deal of practice making scrolls; it was sort of a hobby of hers. The work settled her to some degree.

And so it went until the dryad and the ranger returned fifteen minutes later. Naliira had Althaia slung in her arms and Ashyr carried the growingly cumbersome Bard across her shoulders. Neither seemed too hostile toward each other. In the love of forests they had formed a tentative understanding. Ashyr figured it was better that than hating the woman who had temporary claim over Caleldir's body. Such hate would only drive the drow as mad as the dryad was.

"We have about another half an hour before we are finished." Caleldir remarked, taking a bite of food. "Then I have two hours work on this stove, but I will be too tired to finish that tonight, so we should probably go to bed." He gave Althaia's unconscious body a look. "Dear, be careful with the nymph. That blanket she is wearing is slipping a little."

"Why is your cousin naked to begin with - actually, I don't think I want to know." The dryad asked. She gently laid her out on the couch. A prim look crossed her face as she adjusted the nymph's blanket. "I think I'll lend her one of my dresses." Naliira said to herself after giving her 'husband' a sharp look. She couldn't help but notice how gorgeous Althaia was even while she slept. Then she disappeared into her bedroom and reappeared with a dress made of the same filmy, almost see-through material.

"I'll help." Ashyr told the dryad. She couldn't quite hide the mischief from her eyes. Together they clothed the nymph. The drow wasn't exactly careful with what her hands ran across. Althaia remained unconscious, but the way that her body arched into Ashyr's touch showed that she was still alive and could at least register things. Only sexual things, but such was the cost of being a nymph. Soon Althaia was clothed and had blankets covering her for good measure.

When their project was completed, Caleldir stood up, taking with him the last three ritual papers. "Admirable job, Selene." He said appreciatively. He was slightly envious, actually. "It is clear that I have much to learn." With that, he went to the guest room, intoned the ritual, and the entire treehouse was cleared of the evil fungi. Of course, there was still rather too much of the rot outside the house, but at least Caleldir had made some small difference. Perhaps he had bought the dryad a few more decades before the creeping corruption reclaimed its domain. "The 'flames' are attuned to repair plant matter, as you can see." Caleldir explained to Selene, who had followed Caleldir to the decayed room with interest. "Really a very efficient little magical ritual: easy on the mind, considering its effectiveness. Still, I would probably have to make half a thousand of the things to completely clear this tree of its rot. Which would probably stabilize its dryad, but we do not have that sort of time. Not even close. Anyway, goodnight Selene. Thank you for your help."

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