A Harlot's Tale Ch. 01byerusian©
Thylisa threw back her head, moaning in mock ecstasy. The pot-bellied innkeeper, puffing and grunting in his efforts, blew his rancid, ale-tainted breath in her face. She stifled an urge to vomit.
'By Necanta's blood', she thought to herself, wincing as he thrust his bulbous member into her, 'this is the last time I suffer this pig's affections. This cesspit of a room isn't worth it. I'd rather trust my fortunes in the streets of the Bazaar!'
Drops of sweat from his bloated face fell to her chest. She felt a sickeningly warm, filthy stream of the stuff collect between her breasts and then slowly meander down to her belly. Thylisa braved a glance at his visage. 'Good', she thought, 'not much longer'. The man's face contorted into a mask of almost comical exertion.
Suddenly, he ripped himself from her. With a grunt he clambered up on his knees, positioning himself on her chest. Grasping his manhood in hand, he grinned a toothy smile at Thylisa, reveling in her fury.
'No! Gelik, ya cursed bastard!' Thylisa aimed a blow at his groin -- and connected. With what sounded almost like a squeak, Gelik fell with his full weight on top of her. Ever color of the spectrum flashed behind her eyelids all at once.
'You... filthy... whore,' he wheezed. 'Ya shouldn'ta done that, ya little bitch.'
Thylisa couldn't breathe. She hammered her tightly-clenched fists into his ribs, to no avail. 'No bones -- just fat,' she thought.
Gelik was recovering quickly. Much to the girl's relief he lifted his massive bulk off her chest. Air rushed back into her lungs. That heavy, pungent, humid air was the sweetest breath she had ever taken.
'I... I couldn't breathe, damn you!' she hissed at him. Her words never made it through the thick blanket of rage that had wound itself around Gelik's brain.
'No... ya shouldn'ta done that, Thylisa. Now I jus gotta teach you a bita respect for your elders.' Gelik tried to grab both of her wrists, but only managed to trap her left hand in his sweating paw. Her right hand shot toward his groin again, but this time the old man would not be taken by surprise. Again he landed all his weight on top of her her, trapping her arm between them. Redyellowbluegreenpurpleblack swam chaotically through her mind.
Behind this veil of color, something was taking form, very shadowy at first...
With a speed that Thylisa hadn't credited him with, Gelik rolled off her and stood by the bed. He had managed to get a better grip on her left wrist, and with that he jerked her off the small bed. She landed in a heap on the floor. He still clutched her wrist firmly. It was throbbing.
'Get up! Get up, ya miserable cur bitch,' Gelik yelled at her. She looked up at him and saw that he was smiling -- almost laughing.
'He's enjoying this,' she thought acidly. 'The filthy pig's enjoying this.'
He pulled her roughly to her feet. Her body collided against his. His hands went to her shoulders and held her like meaty vices. He lifted her up, looking into her striking green eyes.
'Ya have much ta be thankful ta me for, you ungrateful slut. Not two cycles ago I took ya in. Ya didn' have a pip ta yer name. Ya didn't know anyone in Corici!' he shouted. 'But I gave ya a roof o'er yer head and food in yer belly, and look what ya do ta thank me! Didn't yer mother ever teach ya not ta piss in the pot from which ya eat?' He summoned phlegm from the depths of his chest and spat in her face.
Before she could react he launched her against the wall. Her head thudded against the slightly rotted wood. She leaned heavily against the wall, dazed and disoriented. This time there were no colors, but the shape that had been forming revealed itself in shadowy relief.
RELEASE ME, SISTER!
The voice that was not really a voice -- more like a wave of subconscious breaking on the rocky shores of her pained awareness -- seemed to be coming from what appeared through the shadows to be ruins. Yes ... a tall, crumbling keep built into the side of a mountain. Something was wrong...yes, something was very wrong. It was...all the anger. All the hate...
It became difficult for Thylisa to distinguish her surroundings. She was in her room at the Inn of the Spitted Kid, standing in front of its proprietor -- and at the same time...her shadow ('Yes, that must be it,' she thought) was standing among ancient broken battlements and toppled columns, very
Her head spun with the force of the blow. Gelik cocked his fist back to strike her again.
Slowly drifting through the flame-blackened arches, past the shattered iron-bound doors, into the keep...
All the hate...
Pain erupted from her jaw. She couldn't look. She couldn't stand to see that mocking smirk on his face. She... hated -- yes -- hated that cocky, pig-lipped smirk.
Down the stairs. Spiraling down.
...let him feel it.
He grabbed a handful of her dark tresses. He yelled something as he yanked her away from the wall, but she couldn't hear him. He was so far away...
Through the locked and barred chamber door, like a spirit -- like a shadow. Into the dark. There... in the center of the room...an altar? No, it's a deep pit -- or a well of some kind.
Let him feel the hate, sister...
The shadows in the vision slowly seeped in to join the shadows in the room, like bandits preparing for an ambush. They crept slowly... stealthily from the corners, from beneath the bed, from behind the cupboard, centering the focus of her rage on the image of this despicable slug of a man. What little light that seeped into Thylisa's room had become suffused into crimson, dancing with the ghastly shadows. A searing pain impaled her senses, still she kept her gaze steadily on the fat, miserable vermin that she hated so very, very much.
Something was written around the stone rim of the pit. If she could just read those words... Frustration welled up inside her.
Feed the hate...
Thylisa had not learned to read.
...let it go...speak your heart...
Thylisa stood, trembling in the middle of the room. Gelik was yelling at her, his hand raised to strike. She couldn't hear him. Her head hurt, her left eye was swollen, she was sure that her jaw was cracked, and more than anything else in the world, she wanted to see Gelik in pain. She wanted to see him
'DIE!', she screamed.
'Ya'd like that wouldn-' Gelik never finished his statement. His eyes shot wide open, his hands clutched his gut, which was swelling beyond its already tremendous proportions. The master of The Spitted Kid stumbled back against the wall of the tiny room, reaching blindly for the door. His body heaved... once... twice... and with the force of a seadragon's breath, Gelik vomited. Ale, food, and bile flooded from his mouth. His agony did not, however, end there. He staggered in circles and finally dropped to his knees as thick white liquid issued from every orifice.
Thylisa stared in horror. She had seen men die, it was almost too common, but not like this... and what's more, this time the dead man's blood would be on her hands.
Gelik turned to her, a pleading look in his eyes, the mucous-like substance oozing down his face. He looked like a thing from some twisted demon's nightmare. His hands went to his throat, his swollen body convulsed as he hit the floor with a smack. The convulsions continued well after the breath of life had fled him.
Thylisa stood for a moment,still sobbing, not quite sure what to do. She took a deep breath to compose herself and began to dress, trying to block the horrid scene from her mind. She pulled on a low cut blouse and fumbled with the laces of her bodice. As she fitted her skirts around her waist, a sickening thought crept upon her. She knelt beside Gelik's corpse, and felt of the white liquid.
'It feels right,' she said under her breath,'but there's only one way to be sure.' With a grimace, Thylisa touched the end of her finger, covered with the slick ooze, lightly to her tongue. She stood as wave of nausea welled up inside her. There was no mistaking it. Gelik had drown on his own semen.
'Ai! By Necanta... what have I done?' she whispered shakily as she gathered what little possessions she owned into her pack. Her motions were mechanical, thoughtless, her mind unable to spend effort on anything but fear and confusion. A thousand unanswerable questions stormed through her brain.
Pausing, she forced her questions and her fears to the back of her mind, locked away until she could find the answers. As she wrapped her scarlet sash around her waist, she managed a smirk in Gelik's direction.
She gathered her things, and after pausing once to spit on the innkeep's still twitching corpse, Thylisa left the inn and tavern known as The Spitted Kid and stepped out into the streets of Corici.
* * *
Corici was, by appearances, a beautiful, glorious city set upon a majestic isle, swathed in gentle mists in the center of Lake Gelidmere. Here stood the legendary towers known to the world as Shadoeholde. Necanta's onyx and silver temple reached high into the lavender sky of Agrond from its foundations on the highest tier of Corici.
From its opulent center courtyard flowed the Fountain of Souls, which meandered through and down each of Corici's four tiers, to finally empty its watery life into the welcoming arms of Gelidmere.
Sadly, the beauty of Imperial Coricia ended at the outlying shores of the vast lake. Most of the land in southern Coricia was parched and barren. What little was grown there had to be shipped off to Corici to feed its overbearing populous. Farther north the land was a bit more wholesome, but rogue nomads, bandits, and beasts -- malign and spiteful -- plagued the area and refused to pay tribute to the empire. The legions had been at war with them since the draught began nearly twenty summers hence. This, coupled with the ages-old war against the elvin kingdom of Renelaun to the west had taxed heavily on the once mighty empire.
Many leagues to the south, a gleaming diamond in a sea of ashes, stood Corici, the Gem of Agrond, the Garden of the Goddess, the seat of the Corician Empire, wrapped in the blanketing safety of Gelidmere's magical mists...
Corruption often hides behind a mask of benignity, however, and it thrived within the heart of these vapors, on the lowest of Corici's four tiers, where the mists were heavy and putrid. Various hot springs (the source of the mists) bellowed steam into the air, trapping the stench of poverty and decay beneath the beautiful blanket of white.
Thylisa made her way through the streets of this lower tier, known as the Beggars' Quarter, toward the southwestern shore of Corici, toward a makeshift city of tents and shanties called the Bizarre Bazaar.
The Bazaar was a fairly new addition to the city. Many seasons of both verbal and physical battle between the Merchants' Guild and the rogue citizens of the Beggars' Quarter finally ended with Imperial intervention in favor of the later. The Bazaar was an immense winding maze which housed taverns and brothels and vendors and such, selling everything from jewelry and perfumes to weapons and devices of torture.
The streets were teeming with activity. Most of Corici's inhabitants were human, but certainly not all. For the most part, the various races were free to come and go and kill or die as they pleased, with exception to one race in particular...
Even now as Thylisa worked through the throng of people, a drove of elvin slaves hurried past her, pulling an 'aphthan' (which was a sort of passenger cart often utilized by those persons who made a living off the elvin slave trade in some fashion), spurred on by the razor sharp crack of their slave-mistress' whip.
The driver of the aphthan, a slightly large, older woman, recognized Thylisa's occupation by the scarlet sash riding her hip, and extended a smile and nod of invitation to the girl.
Instinctively, Thylisa smiled as she looked into the woman's eyes. They were glazed and bloodshot. Sores had taken hold of the corners of her eyes and across the bridge of her nose. Thylisa had befriended a girl at the inn who died from the effects of the addictive 'theflyn' root. She had looked much the same as this slaver in her elf-drawn aphthan.
Bowing politely, but averting her eyes in declination, Thylisa continued on her way. Her decision to turn the slave-mistress' offer down was not in her best interest, she knew. The Slavers' guild was one of the more prominent guilds in the city and certainly the most powerful here in the Beggars' Quarter. It did not behoove one to deny the whims of one of its guildmembers.
She was fortunate this time, the woman was lost in the haze of the theflyn and immediately disregarded her. Had she been sober, the woman could have very easily stopped her aphthan and flogged (or killed!) the harlot there on the street, and no one would have paid a bit of mind to it.
Thylisa recognized the risk, but with circumstances in their present state, she had to find help. She knew only a few people in Corici, having arrived only a half season earlier, and no one she knew was reliable... but what's a girl to do?
She turned onto Via Aquina, the main drag in the Quarter, stretching from the Merchants' District through the Harbor District and into the Bazaar. The sun was setting and the twin grey moons of Agrond were climbing the sky to take its place. Thylisa quickened her pace - the harbor wasn't a friendly place after sundown.
Via Aquina skirted the coastline. The Merchants' District, where Thylisa presently made her way, was fairly well populated. Although it was all too common for assailants to come upon the unwary pedestrian with almost frightening blatancy; it was equally common for those assailants to be cut to ribbons by locals, not wanting the vermin around scaring off business.
In the area of the harbor there were fewer shops, and at the western end, more taverns - thus fewer 'honest' people and more drunken thugs. Thylisa entered the Harbor District with more than a little trepidation.
To her left, she saw the first of the long line of wharves, occupied by crafts varying from makeshift rubbish scowls to giant Corician man-o'-wars upriver from Valinosti.
To her right stood a row of abandoned taverns and inns, having fallen into disuse as the nightlife of the Quarter moved from the Harbor District to the Bazaar, at the western end of Via Aquina.
Thylisa drew her arms across her chest in effort to buffer the chilling winds that steadily blew in from the lake. Again she increased her pace through the ill-boding place.
Far ahead she saw the warm yellow glow from the lights of open taverns, marking the end of the harbor and the beginning of the Bazaar.
A sharp blast of a horn to her left made her heart jump to her throat. In her panic she dropped her pack, spilling its contents on to the cracked paving stones. The clear hailing of the ship's forward watchman dissolved her fear. She knelt, gathering her things into her pack, watching the merchant vessel pull into the wharf. With a sigh of relief she shouldered her pack and continued on, entering the Bazaar at last.
''ell now laddies, what 'ave we got 'ere? A right 'andsome trollup, it seems, 'eh?,' Brandil's boys snickered as they watched the Thylisa's well-figured silhoutte pass through the torchlit arch that greeted customers to the Bazaar.
''twould seem real pi'y for th' lass ta go on unescor'ed like 'at, don't ya think Brandil?' Finch'd had more than his share of 'root' earlier that night and occasionally found need to support himself on Derth's shoulder. Derth was not so ready to offer that support and nudged his lethargic half-orc compatriot to the side more than once.
''ell then...I think it's time ta make our introductions, shall we lads...' Brandil stepped out of the tavern door into the street, the others followed in suit.
Thylisa saw the three men walking toward her,'No, not now ya filthy bastards,' she muttered under her breath. She looked to see if there was anyone around to aid her. There wasn't. Everyone was packed in the taverns, hooting and hollering and gambling and who knew what else.
She tried to alter her course to head into a tavern heralding the sign 'Bonnie Lark', but the thugs intercepted too quickly and now surrounded her from all sides.
'Look now m'lady, were not 'ere ta do ya 'arm. We're jus' simple lads out ta 'ave a bit o' drink. Ya look a li'l lost so were jus' off'rin' our services, right chums?' Finch and Derth grinned as they nodded agreement.
'I'd be more than happy ta accept your most gracious offer, gentlemen, unfortunately I'm on my way to meet with an officer o' the Corician Corps. I certainly wouldn't want ta keep him waiting,' Thylisa maintained an even, controlled tone as she concocted her ruse.
Brandil didn't buy it. As the other two followed his lead and closed in around the girl, he said,'Aye, that'd be a sure pi'y, but ta be 'onest I don' give a beggar's wealth abou' your previous obligations, wench. Now why don' ya walk real casual-like wi' us ta yonder alley an' share a bit o' yer wares with us, lass?'
Thylisa began to feel the same queer feeling she had experienced in her struggle with Gelik. With tremendous effort of will, she suppressed it, still very afraid of... whatever it was.
''xcuse me, lads,' a voice came from behind Thylisa, she turned to face her newest threat.
'Ya wouldn' 'appen ta 'ave a pip o' copper or two ya could spare an ol' sailor 'ard on 'is luck, 'eh?' The beggar walked with a slight limp, as if one leg was shorter than the other. Brandil and Derth turned to face the man, Finch kept a slightly blurred eye on the girl.
'Can't ya see we're busy 'ere? Now bugger off, ya cretin, b'fore I give ya a clubbin' in th' eye!' Brandil kicked some dirt at the wretch. The man stumbled back, almost losing his balance.
'Forgive me m'lord, sorry ta bother ya. Good eve to ya,' the man headed off from whence he came.
Thylisa knew she wouldn't get another chance to escape. She swung her pack at Finch and tore off toward the Bonnie Lark as fast as she could. Finch had grabbed her pack when she tried to hit him with it. It would be futile to wrestle a half-orc. Thylisa released her hold on her pack. It didn't matter, if only she could make it to the tavern...
Derth was the first to catch her. As he grabbed her, she spun around, clawing at his face. He caught her wrists and began pulling her back out into the street to where the other two waited like predators, ready to feast.
At first she thought that the drunken idiot had spewed his guts in her face. The warm, wet stuff was in her eyes. Derth released his grip on her. She quickly wiped her face, thinking 'No, not again...'. She opened her eyes to see Derth fall to his knees, the point of a long, thin-bladed knife protruded from his neck, through his windpipe. He made a kind of gurgling sound as he struggled for his last breath, and then fell face forward onto the paving stones.
Thylisa looked to the other two in time to see Brandil fall as well, a similar blade embedded deeply in his forehead, and another in his belly. The beggar had returned, his staggering gait replaced with quicksilver grace.
Finch, with her pack still in hand, bolted down the street. The beggar fluidly unsheathed two more blades from beneath his rags and let them fly at the drunken man. They both hit solidly, one behind each knee. Finch screamed as he fell, writhing in the street. The beggar walked casually to the man and placed his knee on Finch's head.
'Well, my friend, it's really too bad that you won't live long enough to benefit from the lesson you've learned here tonight,' the beggar pulled a shorter, thicker knife from its sheath behind his back. Finch was still cursing as the ragged man slit his throat.
Thylisa watched, dumbfounded, as the man pulled her pack from Finch's twitching fingers and slung it over his shoulder. With consistent nonchalance he disengaged his knives from Finch and Brandil, cleaning the blades on their respective victims before sliding them back into their cleverly concealed sheaths.