Feldare Tales: High Society Ch. 07bymack_the_knife©
Clad in new clothes, crafted by the skilled hands of Charel, Crissa sat near the door to their tiny room, watching people walking up and down the busy streets. She rarely saw the morning crowd of folk, and was fascinated by the sheer numbers of them. "What do they do so early in the day?" she asked. Normally, she would be fixing breakfast for Wenn, Marrat, and herself at this hour, not walking the streets.
"They go to market," said Kennet, sitting up on the bed and eyeing his tailored tunic with a critical look. "Most of the peasants like to get their selling and buying done before lunch."
"Peasants?" asked Crissa, giving him a wide smile. "Are we so far above them, then?"
"No," replied Kennet, his voice muffled by the tunic as he slipped it on, "I'm a peasant, too."
She giggled at him and averted her eyes as he climbed out of bed and pulled the pants on. Normally, she would never have done that, but he seemed to need her to look away, she could feel his embarrassment radiating from him like heat. "I've already seen you naked, as we tended your wounds, you know?" she asked.
"It's not the same," he grunted, pulling the belt tight. "I'm whole and hearty, now. You may be the same person who saw me, but I'm not the same person you saw."
She turned, sensing he was now safe. "Too bad, he was rather attractive and I had half a mind to comfort him more closely," she teased.
"You would have probably been disappointed," he said. "I'm not an experienced lover."
Crissa's eyes grew distant. "There are experienced folk who are poor lovers and there are skilled novices," she said. "More important is your desire for the person you're with."
Peris came walking up the cobbled street, grinning and holding a small wicker basket with a cloth covering it. "Breakfast," she said with a pleased expression.
She was now clad in a somewhat more modest short summer dress of bright blue, rather than the elven outfit from the night before. Charel had been generous with clothes, giving each two full sets, all very well made and quite fashionable.
"Just because we are on the run doesn't mean we need to look like vagrants," said Peris as she unloaded the burlap sack earlier that morning. "At least that's what Charel said." She had looked at Crissa. "You must have impressed him mightily to be given such on your name alone."
Crissa had blushed deep red and whispered to Peris, "I wore less than my name last time Charel saw me."
News was upon the streets of a daring raid into the asylum and the disappearance of one of the prosecution's witnesses in the wee hours of the night. Guards killed and poor inmates, delusional fools, as well, dispatched in their very cells by the hoodlums. Most just shook their heads and lamented the waning of the elder days when wizards and their ilk had to keep their arts secretive.
Crissa's own disappearance was also noted, and some thought she had been kidnaped by the same evildoers. However, there were some who thought she might well be the one who had put others up to the raid, which was, by noon, said to have contained no fewer than ten well-armed men.
"All this fuss over me?" asked Kennet, still looking rather pale from the initial delivery of gossip. "I should turn myself in immediately."
"You'll do no such thing," hissed Crissa, standing from her perch on the little dresser near the door. "They'll kill you this time, rather than muck about with you and risk losing you again."
Kennet blinked at her, and the sudden burst of anger he palpably sensed come from her. "Kill me?" he asked.
"Have you already forgotten the gentle treatment at the asylum?" said Crissa. "Did you think it therapeutic to beat you daily?"
"They were trying to make me see the truth," he explained, reasonably.
"They were trying to force your mind to manufacture a new truth, out of terror," she said, walking right up to the young man, who was two or three inches shorter than her. "They very nearly succeeded. Luckily, Thenaldis told us what you told her, or their false truth would already be taking root in your mind again."
His eyes grew wistful and Kennet smiled. "Do you think I'll see her again?" he asked. "Thenaldis, that is."
"Yes," said Crissa, almost too quickly. "I'm sure you will." She knew, before the trial, she would have to bolster his courage, and Thenaldis would serve that purpose nicely.
Peris smiled as she unpacked the breakfast, some bread rolls and butter, as well as dried beef and cheap wine. "Thenaldis said she needed to check up on you, to make sure your healing took," she said over her shoulder.
"I wish I could remember her features better," said Kennet. "She's almost like a dream now."
"Most elven conversations are like that," said Crissa, nodding. She had no idea of what she spoke, having never met an elf herself.
"What do we do this day, then?" asked Kennet.
"Find a better hiding place," said Crissa and Peris, almost in unison.
"Well, if the rumors be true, we only need still fear those 'eye' people," said Peris. "Except Kennet, of course. So far as anyone knows, we're still not guilty of anything."
"That would change quickly if Kennet is found in our company," said Crissa.
"Speaking of that," said Peris, "how will he testify the real truth, if he's with us?"
"He's going to turn himself in at the last minute before the trial, directly to the courthouse," said Crissa.
"I am?" asked Kennet.
"Yes," she said. "That way you can testify and they won't have time to kill you, beforehand."
"Beforehand?" asked Kennet. "But plenty of time to do so afterward."
"Afterward, there will be no one free to kill you, they'll all be in prison, or dangling from the gibbet, themselves."
Terena, now wearing the guise of a young merchant's daughter, in a long sheer gown walked the streets, and used her wiles to ask questions of many, regarding an old friend of hers from Morrovale.
By noon, she had found out that Crissa had disappeared, not seen since yesterday, much to Marrat's chagrin. She forced herself into seedier quarters of the town, visiting shady dives that one could find, if one knew where to look. There, her looks alone would not win her information, but she had a currency that few in such places would refuse.
"Yeah, I saw her," said the dumpy innkeeper of a truly ramshackle establishment. "But I don't rightly know where she might have been going, my memory has been slipping of late, so distracted by pretty women and all."
For the third time that morning, she performed a favor for someone to parse some tidbit of near useless information from them. The first two would never be demanding such a price of a woman for mere knowledge again, assuming they recovered enough of their wits to speak at all. This man, however, repaid her efforts with something of use.
"They stayed here last night, but I only had dealings with the brown-haired girl," he said as she sipped the sour wine he provided her. It was stale and somewhat vinegary, but erased the taste of his seed. "However, she slipped off almost immediately, and I went to look and see what was about. When I peered into her room, there were two people out cold on the bed, a tall blond woman and a smallish, curly-haired man."
"You knew they were unconscious and not sleeping?" asked Terena, looking toward him and wondering if he would demand more payment before coming to the end of his tale.
"Well, I was just minding my own safety, and my business'," he said, as if explaining himself to her was necessary. But I crept in and tried to wake them."
She decided he more likely wanted to take a peek at the blond, but surely that was Crissa. "Was your business' safety resolved by looking at the tall one's body?" she asked, giving him a sidelong glance.
He blushed a bit, but kept talking. "She was tall, all right," he said. "Tallest girl I've ever seen, or one of them. Both of them had taken a pretty good thumping, though, and the boy's breath was rattly."
"Then what happened?" she asked.
"The little brown-haired girl came back with a older gentleman in tow," he said. He went into the room and spent a long while in there, then she and he left again. I went back but heard someone moving about inside and didn't go in."
She looked at him fully. "So quickly?" she said. "You said they were hurt badly and unconscious."
"Yes," said the fat inkeeper. "They were up and gone the next morn, this morning, just an hour or two ago."
"May I see their room?" she asked. "I assume you've not cleaned it yet." She figured he only cleaned them when absolutely needed. She saw a flash in the inkeeper's eyes as she asked this and sighed inwardly. "We could always inspect the bed while we are there," she added, pouring syrup and honey into her voice.
He walked her down to the room and opened the door. The bed was disheveled, but would have been anyway, soon afterward. Despite his prodigious belly and rather soft look, he was a rather aggressive lover and made good use of his tumble with her. And she made even more use of him.
Terena sighed as the sleeping inkeeper dozed beside her and she rose from the bed. "Not bad," she said with a lascivious smile. There was a glow of health about her and she radiated energy. If anything, the innkeep looked five years older than he had.
Using a half empty pitcher of water and a corner of the coverlet, she cleaned herself up and then dressed. She examined the room, and soon found a elven-style skirt under the bed. She lifted it and examined it. "It looks like something the whore would wear," she said. Her own promiscuity, in the name of the One and the service of a Templar, was another matter, and not the same as simply bedding men.
There was blood on the sheets, as well, where someone had lain. They looked to be the result of many small wounds, and the pillow on the other side of the bed had blood upon it. "You two were hurt badly," she said. "That man must have been a healer."
The innkeep stirred and she reached out her mind and sent him deeper into slumber. "Not just yet, my good man," she said. A silver dagger flashed in the dim room, darkening with the waning light of the day. She turned a circle, dribbling her blood onto the floor and forming a spotted ring about herself, at arm's length. As soon as the circle was complete, the wound closed and she slid the dagger back into her sheath upon her thigh.
Terena began to chant and turn in the circle, spinning in place. For long moments she did this, her chanting growing louder and more insistent. She could feel her mind expanding, first taking in the innkeeper and his slumbering thoughts, then stretching out farther. A minute later, she had the entire village in her mind, or a sense of it, and she stopped, feeling the thousands of myriad minds out there, cluttered, heretical, mundane and boring. A few interesting thought spiked out of the throng: People in the middle of rutting, or committing violent or abusive acts, or a hundred other sins.
She could not single out a single mind yet. Her hand took up the dagger again and slit, once again, her wrist and blood poured onto the elven skirt. Even as the wound healed itself, she felt her mind focusing and tightening its area. She had one mind now to feel, northward, and slightly frightened.
It was not the sorceress, though, but another girl. Peris.
She closed her eyes and saw Crissa standing nearby, felt some lust well inside her for the tall blond. Peris wanted her, and knew she could not have her. This just made the desire more taboo and exciting for Peris, or so Terena thought. They were walking down a street. Peris turned again to the sound of a male voice and she was now looking at a young man with curly hair.
They turned a corner and walked into a house. Terena felt it and where it lay. She could now find it again. Burning that into her mind, she watched some more. The tall blond girl, Crissa, turned to face Peris again and smiled for a half a moment, then frowned, staring at her.
A sudden interest came upon the Terena as she looked into those large, blue eyes. She felt almost as if she were being seen. "So you're not such a novice as I was led to be. . ." she was interrupted by a massive surge of energy, coming through Peris and from Crissa. She felt her body twitch and she was flung from the circle by a force like a physical blow, like she had been punched in the chest. She slammed against the wall, rocking the entire little bungalow and knocking the pitcher of water over.
"Why did you hit me?" asked Peris, looking at Crissa with betrayed eyes.
Crissa looked at her hard, her eyes like ice. "Your eyes changed color," she said. "Someone was there, not you."
"I was right here, and that hurt," said Peris, rubbing her chest, dead center, where Crissa had just punched her, hard enough to knock her down and against the wall of the tenement hall.
The tall blond helped her to her feet while Kennet looked on with an expression of confusion. "Does it hurt still?" she asked.
Peris seemed to think a moment. "No," she said, "now that you mention it, it stopped hurting."
"Yes," said Crissa, "because it just passed through you."
Terena lifted herself from the floor and unbuttoned her dress to her navel. She looked down and touched herself between her round, firm breasts. She felt a rib shift and pain lanced through her. "Much more powerful than I thought," she said, concentrating her will and mending the broken rib and erasing the spreading blue blemish of the bruise.
Much of the glow of vitality had left her, expended in the rituals and spells she had woven. She heard the innkeeper stirring again. A wicked grin came to her round face and she took off her dress again, crawling into the bed. He blinked up at her and smiled feebly. "Sorry, I must have fallen asleep," he said.
"It's okay," she purred into his neck, grabbing his flaccid organ in her slim fingers. "But I wish another, if you'd like."
He put his pudgy arms about her and pulled her to himself for a kiss. His rod was stiffening in her hand and she straddled his waist. A moment later, she was impaled upon his cock and riding him hard, bouncing up and down on him and kneading his chest with her fingers and long nails.
He passed out again as he spent himself into her and she climaxed as the wash of energy filled her. She drank deeper of him this time, knowing she would need more to face this other sorceress. Terena stood, wiping his spend from her thighs where is slid out of her and then giving the pudgy man a kiss on the cheek. "There you go, sir," she said. He would not awaken for at least a day and most of his brown hair had gone gray.
Terena nearly glowed as she walked onto the darkened street, still buttoning her dress' top two buttons, and walked north.
Peris looked about the dark apartment and peered into the farther corners of it. "You're sure we're safe here?" she asked.
Crissa shrugged. "Not anymore, no," she replied. "I don't know who was peering through your eyes, but your mind changed suddenly on me, then back, when I hit you."
"I told you that you hit me," said Peris with mock petulance. "How did you know it wasn't me?"
The tall witch looked down at her and gave her a very soft smile. "You were thinking lustful thoughts at me again, and it stopped, suddenly," she replied.
Peris blushed and looked toward Kennet, who was busy examining the view out the narrow windows. She was relieved he had not heard. No doubt, Crissa would not have said such had he been closer.
"What is this place anyway?" asked Peris, hoping to change the subject.
"It is a friend's apartment," said Crissa, pronouncing friend in such a way as to make it a topic of non-discussion. "He lives with a woman right now, but didn't wish to give up this apartment, should he need it."
Kennet turned about. "I live only three blocks from here," he said.
"And you need to not go there," said Crissa sharply. "They'll be watching for you there. Of us, you're the only one the watch is hot for."
Kennet nodded abjectly. "I could use some reading material, though," he said. "I'm bored, frankly."
Crissa walked up behind him. "I'll try to get something from Marrat's home while I visit with the barrister," she said. "You like elves, I hear."
"I love elves," he said. Once again, his eyes took on that distant stare.
"I'm sure I'll find something," she said. "Marrat has a large library."
The sorceress walked into the other room and came back with a long knife. It was a kitchen knife, not a fighting blade, and had a thin, fragile blade. "Here, for your protection," she said, handing it to Kennet. "Or in case young Miss Peris tries to ravish you."
The young man chuckled and took the knife. "Like I'd try to stop her," he said.
Peris blinked at that, wondering where such a flirtatious remark had come from. She had spoken to Kennet a handful of times at the academy, and never had noticed any interest from him toward her.
Crissa gave a soft smile and walked to the door. "Be cautious, you two," she said. "Be listening, I'll whistle as I walk up the stairs." They both nodded as she left.
The apartment was furnished in a minimalist fashion, as if the owner had taken all his small belongings with him, but had not the time to take the actual furniture. Peris threw herself onto the long, low couch and regarded Kennet as she sighed at a fatigue that came over her.
"Why are you so fascinated by elven folk?" asked Peris. "Not that they're not interesting, mind you, but in general."
Kennet walked over and sat opposite her in a big, padded chair. "I've always though elves were terribly interesting," he said. "Even before the goings on down in Morrovale, I studied them."
She grinned at him and his suddenly glittering eyes. "I imagine you like the new fashion of things elven, then?"
"Oh, yes," he said. "Quite aside from the far more - well - interesting appearance of young women like yourself and Miss Crissa in elven garments, just to know more people are studying them and learning of their ways and manners. I mean, there will be dozens of books written on them now, and more for me to study."
His massive speech, very out of character for the normally introverted Kennet, took her by surprise. "Why do you not go to them?" she asked.
"Go to the elves?" he asked in reply. "Just like that?"
"Sure," she said, reasonably. "They're just people. If they knew how much you knew of them and how much you wanted to know more, and most importantly, how much you loved them, they would surely let you come visit."
His face fell. "I fear their refusal," he said.
"It would hurt, wouldn't it?" asked Peris.
"More than death," replied Kennet.
She rose from the couch and sat on the arm of the padded chair, stroking his shoulder. "I don't think they would refuse you," she said. "I think they would welcome you as an elf-friend."
He blushed slightly at both the compliment and at her sudden proximity to him. "I would like to think so, too," he said in a tone that told her that he would not find out any time soon.
Moving like a flesh-toned cat, the beast prowled the streets. Sniffing at the ground and air. It would stop when people moved about and peer cautiously from shadows of alleys and leap to rooftops, padding across the tiles. Blood dripped from his jaws as he drooled and sought. Mystically, it knew its target, and sniffed the air for her.
This creature was no longer the young man whose meat had become its body. It was a demon, a spirit of the underworld, called forth by the ceremony to inhabit this flesh. Carsten's soul had been forced out, slaying him. Where he wound up, no one truly cared. That which took up abode was a vile spirit of malice and cruel intent.
The creature had but one intent: Lust. It desired to sate that lust upon the soft flesh of the girl who wore his scent. It would obey her to do so. She had commanded him, a simple command, so far as those went, and when he had completed his duty, he could have her. That was the way of the bargain, one task, then pay the price.