Fantastic World Ch. 04byLady_Blackhawk©
The remains of the ruin came into view as the pair crested the ridge line of the trail. The huge, black stone building, with its arched buttresses and hideous designs, remained a horrific testament to the darker side of this world's history. Twisted forms of demonic creatures and arcane mastery found purchase on the carved surface of the ruin unlike anything Callia had previously seen. The massive main doors were crowned with winged beasts and tortured figures that sent a chill down her spine. Large stones littered the lawn leading up to the courtyard of the stone dwelling. The mighty structure bore many scars of attacks, including gouged walls, shattered rooftops, and broken gates. She noticed the aged black stone walls enclosing this ancient tower had seen much damage, judging from the thick cracks that spread like spiderwebs through the walls. The crumbling battlements left chunks of stone and mortar at the base of the tower.
"Not much of a going concern, is it?" Callia quipped, as she scanned the area in front of the ruin. "Still I can't say I like the look of this place."
"From the looks of the damage here, I'd say a mage battle took place here long ago. We will need to be on our guard. Mages are known to leave behind many terrible guardians to protect their legacy." Jaz'rin replied. "I am going to scout around the area. Stay put and stay hidden."
Callia glared at him, but did his bidding anyway. She crouched behind a large boulder and watched as he slinked off toward the ruin. A few moments went by as she lost track of his movements. Damn rogues, she muttered to herself, scanning the area for any sign of him. She shook her head and recalled the numerous times she had seen Verrshaun disappear before her very eyes just as easily. Sneaky little bastards!
For several tense minutes, Callia sat waiting for him to return. She let out a sigh of disgust and flopped down to the hard ground. She grabbed her backpack and pulled out her trusty haversack. From within it she produced a travel-worn journal, ink pen, and vial of ink.
Schooling her thoughts, she uncorked the vial and dipped the pen into it. She flipped to a blank page and began to write.
It has been weeks since I last took time to write down my thoughts. So much has come to pass. I have given much thought to the task at hand, yet can come to no real conclusions about such events. I have also thought much on the situation at home. I know deep inside my heart that I was wrong to so blindly trust Amakiir, but I can no longer deny that it did not expect him to betray me. Somehow I knew he would find a way to hurt me like he always did. By all that is good in this world, I should have known better.
That is the part of me that recognizes Jaz'rin as a potent addiction. I can no longer resist him. From the moment he levels those intense cerulean blue eyes upon me, my pulse begins to race and I can think no further than the pleasure he will give me. My soul calls out to his in a manner I've never known before. I can not seem to get enough of him. The sight of him, his scent, the way his hair falls down his back, the sensual manner in the way he walks, that incredibly sexy voice. It is all an aphrodisiac and I am helpless against it.
My need for him has increased a hundredfold since we've spent this time together in this strange world. He has made love to me in more ways than I thought possible. He has taken me to heights I never knew existed. Yet when faced with my feelings for him, he withdraws behind an arrogant façade. I suspect it is one that has helped him survive in the cruel world that is the Ilythiiri. He will not speak of his life before Amakiir freed him from slavery and has said very little of his relationship with my former lover. I know those experiences have scarred him deeply. My own tattered emotions clearly recognize that in him. I would gladly share his pain if he would but trust me enough to open up to me.
Sometimes I catch glimpses of the real Jaz'rin in brief moments when he has lowered his guard. In such moments when he believes that I am not watching him. Sometimes I feel like an intruder, but I can not give up hope that he will someday grow to trust me enough, to love me enough, and to confide his deepest secrets and his darkest fears. Because I would wish for nothing more than to live out the rest of my life with this wonderful man at my side.
I know that he is older than I am, by about sixty some years. And I know he fathered two daughters with the Matron of his house. Though I do not know how long ago that was or how old his daughters may be. I think it hurts him to know his daughters will grow up to be as cruel as their mother, following in the traditions that have governed all dark elf females.
If only I could give him such that would fill his heart.
Callia closed the journal and put it away along with the quill and ink. She gave into her wandering thoughts of what a child born of the green elf race and the dark elf race would look like. It would have dusky skin and jewel-toned eyes and hair that rivaled the beauty of a summer sunset. Callia brushed away a tear that slipped down her cheek as she knew that would never be until he was free of whatever haunted him. How she ached for that day. She let out a tiny squeak as hand covered her mouth. "Ol zhah uns'aa (It is me)!" The dark elf whispered, silencing her quickly. "It is me!"
"Xsa dos (Damn you)!" Callia growled through clenched teeth.
"VENORSH (SILENCE)!" Jaz'rin hissed.
"Udos ph' naut maglust (We are not alone)!" He growled.
"Vel'bol zhah doeb gaer (What is out there)?" Callia snarled lowly.
"Izznarg tagnik'zur saph aterruce."
"DRAGON!" she squealed before Jaz'rin clamped his hand over her mouth.
"Just who do you think you are calling me a 'wench'?" Callia retorted.
"Do you want to get us killed? The creature looked like a dragon. It has similar draconic features, but I don't know how closely related it is to the dragons from our realm. It is quite big. It has made its lair within one of the smaller wings of the tower. It appeared to be sleeping on a tremendous hoard of gold and gems. I filched this one for you." Jaz'rin winked as he tossed her a faceted diamond the size of her fist.
"Ph' dos vigh (Are you crazy)?" Callia hissed.
"Yes, mad with desire to please my beautiful jalil," he murmured as he embraced her. "Do you not like it?"
"It is beautiful."
"The tagnik'zur will never miss it."
"We had better hope not." She shook her head in skepticism as she dropped the stone into her pack. "Did you find a way in?"
"Of course I did, but we must be quiet about it. That means that clanking chainmail of yours must go."
"You can't expect me to remove my armor?"
"No, not completely." Jaz'rin dug into his pack and pulled out something black and handed it to her. "Put that on. It'll be more useful to you than your elven chain."
Callia examined the lightweight suit of silkiness. "What is it?"
"Shadowhisp silk. It'll help you blend into darkness around you."
"And this will protect me better than my armor?"
"Have I not said so? I would not risk our lives so foolishly," the dark elf sneered at her. "Just put it on."
Callia hastily removed her chainmail and slipped into the sleek softness of the Shadowsilk armor. It fitted itself to her contours, giving her a freedom she had not known with her mithral chainmail. "What is it made of?"
"Silk from the dreaded shadowhisp spider. What else would you expect from a dark elf?"
Callia groaned and shook her head. "Can we go now?"
He nodded and led her as silently as possible toward the ruin. Instead of heading directly to the tower's main door, he veered off to the left past a jumble of blackened stones to a gigantic crack in the wall wide enough for a thin humanoid to pass through. Jaz'rin shimmied through the crack and extended his hand out to Callia to help her make her way inside.
He attuned his infravision to the darkness of the large hall that spread forth before him. Though in tatters, massive tapestries still hung on the walls, their faded and torn images harkening back to the glory days of the now ruined tower. At the rear of the room sat an ornate chair on a raised dais. It looked nearly untouched by the ravages of time. In contrast, broken remnants of wooden trestle tables and benches littered the stone floor.
Upon exploration of the room, Callia discovered a heavy sack tucked beneath the tattered pillow resting upon the seat of the chair. She peaked inside, finding it full of glittery jewels and a bejeweled dagger. She tucked the sack into her haversack and continued her search of the dais. As she slipped behind the platform, she noticed the skeletal forms of two humanoids locked in a clutching embrace. She whispered a prayer, suspecting they had been lovers who had died together.
Moving passed them, she spied an archway concealed by the tattered remainder of a wall-hanging depicting a crest of faded arcane symbols. She softly whistled to Jaz'rin as she pushed it aside and stepped through the arched entrance. A small chamber lined with dilapidated bookshelves and more broken furniture was all that remained. She noted a curving staircase at the rear of the room. Her curiosity got the best of her and she picked her way across the rubble strewn floor to ascend the stairs.
What she found as she crested the top made her look twice. The circular chamber appeared far less touched by the passage of the ages. Its immaculacy gleamed in comparison to all she had seen so far. The walls appeared smoothly worked and tinted with a pale pink wash while the rest of the room beheld the finest luxuries. A large elaborately carved 4-poster bed made up the focal point of the room. A pristine bookshelf, wardrobe, artworks, and a vanity with a highly polished mirror filled the rest of the magnificently appointed room. A smoldering fire burned in the fireplace. As she made a circuit around the room, a wave of uncertainty settled in her gut. Something didn't feel right. It must be an illusion, she concluded and returned to the stairs. She descended the stairs and headed back to the large hall.
She noticed Jaz'rin peeking through the cracks of a set of ramshackle wooden doors. She sneaked up and crouched beside him, peering out of a large gash. He turned his head and arched one white eyebrow at her, motioning to her that the room ahead was all clear. Slipping through one of the larger cracks, he beckoned her forth and crept over to a set of double curving stairs flanking the walls, leading upwards. The pair stealthily climbed to the top and came to an exquisite carved marble and ivory double door. A gold and sapphire encrusted relief of an eye above a half moon gleamed from the door. The same design was inlaid into the floor with solid gold and sapphires.
Jaz'rin knelt to examine the door's lock. He extracted a skeletal key and a long metal pick from a pouch at his side and inserted it into the lock. After a few seconds of careful manipulation, an audible click sounded. He turned the handle of the door and pulled it open.
Stepping back, he peered into the darkness that filled the room. Giving the all clear signal, he slipped into the room. It appeared to be another grand hall. Magnificent tapestries depicting mage battles lined the walls. He could make out carved columns made to look like large dragons lining both sides of the hall with tables between the columns and the walls. Jeweled chandeliers lined the center of the high ceilings. Though a thick coating of dust covered everything, the room appeared out of place compared to everything they had seen before. It did not fit the exterior of the ruin.
Callia came to stand beside him, taking in the untouched splendor of the room. Her jaw dropped in awe as she looked around her. Tables were set with fine crystal and delicate china ware. Golden utensils flanked each of the settings.
"This cannot be," Callia whispered as she examined one of the long tables. She lifted a centerpiece of dried fruit and flowers. "How can this be?"
"I believe this is the results of some sort of preservation spell. There are great leftover magics lingering in this place. We must be wary."
"I think I found some in a room above the throne room. It was a lavish bedchamber, yet it seemed to me like it may have been an illusion."
"It most likely was. Let us venture on. I see more stairs at the back of this room."
They made their way across the massive chamber and climbed the long stairwell up to the next level of the tower, which housed several lushly appointed bedchambers and a central circular stairway leading further upwards. The pair made their way upwards to the fourth level. The circular room stood as a testament to the ages. A bright flame burned in a brazier that rested in the middle of the floor. Its eternal light flooded the area with an inviting glow.
Three large paintings illustrating various scenes held within gilded frames graced the walls. A lone fourth frame was devoid of anything, its black canvas emitting an ominous void. Callia walked around the room, stopping at each to study it thoroughly.
The first painting depicted an image of a place known as the Cave of Brilliance. Its crystalline walls gleamed brightly. As Callia studied the depictions of the piles of gold, jewels and other treasures, she noted an image of a bejeweled key along with a rather large black dragon. She shook her head and realized it had to be the guardian of the key. Callia brushed her hand across the surface of the canvas and noted a shimmer as her hand connected with the key. She felt an odd sensation as a cryptic phrase entered her mind. She whispered the phrase and touched the key once more.
"Transcend the darkness for the key to light the way."
Glancing back at Jaz'rin, she waved at him before she felt herself being pulled into the painting. A wave of energy washed over her as she found herself within the cave itself. She looked back from where she had come and noticed a blackening void and knew she would not be able to return to the circular room until her task was complete.
Her task, she mulled it over in her head. How could she possibly gain the key from this rather large dragon? She considered trading the diamond Jaz'rin had pilfered from the other dragon. She let out a sigh as she considered her options. An all out fight was completely out of the question. This dragon was larger than any of the others she had faced in the past.
As her thoughts lingered, she took in the magnificence of the cave around her. Light refracted from the crystalline deposits that made up the cave, causing rainbow effects to dance and bounce. It was extremely beautiful.
Callia wandered further in, coming to the opening of the massive cavern. Her jaw dropped as she stared in awe. Never before had she seen anything so naturally opulent. She immediately took in the grandeur of the piles and piles of treasure and the smirking dragon that rested upon it. He cocked his massive head from side to side and softly repeated the phrase that she had heard while she had been studying the painting. The dragon perused her slowly and delved her thoughts. Callia attempted to resist his mental intrusion, but could not. She didn't possess the willpower needed to thwart such an assault.
And then she heard a voice in her head, a growling, and gravelly rumble that penetrated her core.
"You must be the seeker of the key. For no one else would dare enter my realm." The voice snarled. "I have been awaiting you for many an age. I will bestow the key upon you if you will but grant me a boon. Though I warn you, I will not hesitate to exterminate you if you have thoughts of taking more than the key."
"What boon can I grant you?" Callia asked, as she reached into her pack to pull out the fist-sized faceted diamond. "Will you accept this in exchange?"
She held up the stone so that he could see it.
The dragon shook as he loosed a deep belly shaking laugh, causing coins to tinkle as they skittered down the enormous pile. "Do you think I could be bought so cheaply? Keep your pretty trinket. I have those already."
He brought forth a diamond that was easily the size of a giant's head. "You see, I have no need for such a paltry thing."
His smugness grated on Callia's nerves. "What boon can I grant you?" she repeated as she smiled and brazenly preened before him.
"One that is far more personal. I desire to know what it is that I have missed all these long years that I have been trapped here. I desire to feel the touch of a woman. That is the boon you may grant me."
Callia gasped. "You're a dragon," she stammered. "You are far too large."
"And you think perhaps that this is the only size or shape that I can achieve?" His laugh echoed in her head. "And you call yourself an adventurer? Have you learned nothing of dragons or other races beyond your own?"
"I am a warrior, not a wizard. I have no great need to learn of the habits of dragons other than how to slay one."
"And have you slain many of my kind?"
"A fair few."
"I find your honesty refreshing." He was extremely interested in her now, as he knew he could persuade her with his charm and words, "As I have told you, I do not have to remain this size or in this form. Tell me does this please you."
The dragon transformed into the image he had garnered when he probed her mind. He took on the look of a tall, lithely muscled naked elf with shimmering black waist length hair and deep tricolor cerulean, azure, and gold eyes. "What you see is an alternative form I can adopt which will allow me to do what needs to be done. Now tell me, elven one, do I please you?"
Callia smiled as he slid down the mountain of treasure and landed a few feet from her. He preened and pranced before her, showing off his new form. He strutted up to her with open arms, flaunting his assets and quickly swept her into his embrace.
She could feel his body against hers and it wasn't out of place. He was no longer the enormous dragon. She mused upon how different he was in this form and how overwhelmingly attractive.
He closed his eyes at the feeling of her warmth pressing against his body. His clawed hands gripped her body slowly. He wanted to take his time.
Callia's hands traced along his muscular form then to his front, feeling his belly smooth and warm. She traced his arms and down to his hand that was behind her. She grasped his clawed hand and held it tightly. She squeezed it once and grinned.
"What should I call you?" Callia whispered, reveling in his strength.
"Ethilathain," His voice surged in her mind once more as his other hand groped at her curvaceous backside. Callia purred as she leaned into him, still holding his other hand. Her other arm wrapped around his body and hugged at him tightly. Slowly Ethilathain lowered his head into her reach. Callia kissed his lips once, then twice, and then a third time, her own lips parting as she flicked her tongue ever so teasingly against his.
His tongue slipped past her rosy lips and caressed her ever so softly. Callia felt her heart thumping hard in her chest as her breathing sped up with every flick. Ethilathain's hand traced over her body drawing her closer with each pass, from her backside to her shoulders he softly caressed. He liked the feel of her almost as much as he liked his hoard.
"Show me what you have not," he murmured against her mouth before he released her from his grasp.
Callia flashed him a lascivious grin and slowly slipped off her shadowhisp armor. She turned around and began to unlace the ties that held it so snugly. Each loop unbound released a bit more skin and a bit more pressure from her chest. Ethilathain's eyes widened slightly seeing the nearly nude Callia. She slipped off the remainder of the blackened armor and threw it onto the pile. The armor had been tight and well bound together for protection, but when it was off it was like heaven. Though she had to admit it fit much better than her mithral chainmail.