tagSci-Fi & FantasyHalf-Elf Harlot Ch. 04

Half-Elf Harlot Ch. 04

byShadedStrumpet©

Author's note: This story is a romance erotica that contains a considerable amount of buildup and before getting to the sex scenes. If you're looking for wham bam, you may want to move along.

"Adventures of a Half-Elf Harlot" imagines the things that happen in between the scenes of a typical D&D game, or under the ubiquitous curtain of a "fade to black." Its protagonist, Zelia Brightstar, is a powerful sorceress and cleric of a goddess of death who regularly risks her life and saves the realm with her two best friends, but the plot centres primarily on Zelia's relationships with ordinary people, the things she does between earth-shaking battles, and, most of all, her love life. For those who love adventure RPGs but wish there was more kissing...


*****

Belly of the Temple

"Here you go," Amara said, lifting the chain over her head, the flat metal disc of the pendant reflecting the low, slanting light of the setting sun as it twisted in the air between them.

"This will get you there without being detected by any scrying eyes. Once you're in, I'll send a runner to retrieve it."

"Thanks," said Zelia, settling the heavy pendant around her neck.

"Don't lose it," warned Amara.

"What do you think I'm going to do, toss it into the canals?"

Amara crossed her arms.

"Don't you give away any clues about where you're going. You may be safe against a scry spell now, but I'm standing here next to you and I'm exposed. We have to think that way now, Zelia, I'm serious."

"Right," said Zelia. Personally, she'd always thought Amara a little over-cautious, but she tucked the medallion into her dress and gave her friend a squeeze.

"Ok. Thanks Amara. See you soon, right?"

Amara nodded soberly.

"Ride safe, my friend. Remember, if you run into trouble on the road and need to get out of there, you've always got the bee."

"Thanks, mom!" Zelia winked. "Catch ya later."

Minutes later, the front gates of Warsong Keep groaned open and a lone rider galloped south into the darkening skies. Above, a raven soared on wings of night, following her to Faramon.

***

Even at night, the city of Faramon was a live thing. You could feel it in the sounds of laughter and music from the taverns; the clatter of the refuse carts that made their way through the city's main streets at night to haul away the garbage of the day; the scurry of rats and yelp of dogs in alleyways, and the footfalls of the night watch. On the large, dead lawn that surrounded the stark pyramidal form of the temple to the Raven Queen, however, all was ever quiet, with an eerie peace that put one in mind of the stillness of the grave. Zelia twitched her hood closer around her face and crossed over the dead grass toward the temple.

As usual, no knock was needed when Zelia approached the large and somber wooden doors, which swung open silently before her, and she stepped inside the shadowed halls.

"Knock knock, I'm home!" she called out into the strangely muffled acoustics of the cavernous interior.

She had never had warm feelings for the temple of her own faith. Like the ubiquitous masks and the funerary grace its priests wore when in public, its gloomy elegance was an unnecessary performance, as far as Zelia was concerned. She'd never liked the artifice. Nonetheless, as her friend Tess hurried down the grandly curving central stair and rushed to greet her, Zelia was reminded that there were bright spots within these walls.

"You made it," Tess said, pulling back from an embrace to regard Zelia with steady grey eyes. "Welcome, Raven Sister."

Tess led Zelia up the spiral stairs to the third floor, the echoes of their footsteps deadened by the temple's magic as they ascended in the strange amber-coloured light that pervaded the main chamber, night or day.

"Did you have trouble entering the city?"

"No. Marcus met me at the tunnels, and I hardly passed a soul on the streets."

Tess tossed her head, her hair falling down her back like midnight silk, and Zelia found herself wondering why she didn't visit her friend more often.

"Chrysmer's doubled the night watch since you were arrested last week, enforcing curfew hours. There have been more arrests, too—magic users who failed to declare themselves immediately on the new registry. I know one street performer who used small arcane tricks to add a light show to his act; he was arrested two days ago. I was glad when we got word of your escape."

Zelia snorted.

"Yeah, that place had shitty room service anyway, and the beds were terrible. Would not stay again."

They turned down a hallway to see an elven priest with snowy hair, calmly awaiting their approach.

"Welcome, Sister," said the elf, with a small inclination of his head. His name was Keeper Orun, and he was one of the highest-ranking members of the temple. Zelia had met him twice before, but as yet they'd failed to develop much of a rapport.

She bowed, awkwardly. She'd never been officially ordained, or tutored on the temple etiquette, and the surety with which she conducted herself most other places always seemed to desert her here.

"Uh—thanks for having me," she said.

"But of course," said Orun, his graceful fingers steepled in front of him. "The Temple of the Raven Queen provides refuge to all who are in need of sanctuary... and, you are one of us."

Zelia saw the man's eyes shift within the stillness of his face to regard the large black bird who'd flown in after Zelia and was currently settled on her left shoulder.

"Come. Would you like something to eat or drink? The dining hall is down this corridor, and we've set aside a dish from the evening meal in anticipation of your late arrival."

"Thank you," Zelia said, "but I'm a little beat from the ride. Is there somewhere I can refresh myself first?"

Tess spoke up from beside her.

"We have a dormitory for asylum seekers, but it's over-full with the recent influx of people to our doors. You're welcome to stay there, of course, though it would likely be on a pallet on the floor. Not that it's much roomier, but I'd be happy for you to stay with me in my quarters instead... if you like."

Zelia was relieved. Tess and her companion cleric Martel were the only ones she knew here who didn't seem to stand on ceremony, and she gladly accepted the invitation.

Keeper Orun blinked his eyes in acknowledgement.

"Very well. Keeper Tess, please show Lady Zelia to everything she needs. Our comforts here are meagre, but our hospitality is true. May the wings of the Mother enfold us all."

"Keeper Orun." Tess inclined her head respectfully, and the elf turned and drifted down the hallway.

Tess's room was small, but it had a sense of personality the common spaces of the temple lacked, and Zelia felt immediately more at ease within it. She hung her heavy cloak on a hook behind the door and set her small silvery bag, the only luggage she'd brought with her, at the foot of the narrow bed that took up a full third of the room.

A chair, a small round table, a nightstand, and a wooden shelf of books and knick knacks completed the room's decor. Corrick settled himself atop the shelf at once and began to preen his feathers.

"As I said, it's not much," said Tess, gesturing around the small space.

"It's perfect," Zelia said, dropping onto the edge of the bed, fingering the embroidery of a small pillow decorated with designs of curving lilies.

Tess knelt near Zelia's knees and reached underneath the bed, pulling out a dark green stoppered bottle. She brushed her hair out of her eyes as she looked up, and Zelia remembered why she didn't visit. Once or twice, she thought she'd picked up a vibe from Tess, and decided against investigating. Her love life was full enough, for all the time she had for it.

Tess took the bottle over to her shelf and dusted off a pair of teacups.

"I filched us some wine at dinner. Want some?"

She poured them each a cup and took a seat on the wooden chair, crossing her feet on the bed beside Zelia, and raised her drink.

"Welcome home. And here's to Chrysmer getting a pernicious case of crotch-rot before a swift and painful end, may the Mother claim him."

"I'll drink to that," laughed Zelia.

The candles Tess had lit cast a warm glow in the small room, their light reflecting off the close white walls, and the they drank their wine and reminisced about shared adventures as the night grew long around them.

"I wish I could have seen Mersk's face when he found out you were gone," said Tess, after hearing Zelia's account of her short stay in the palace dungeon.

"Me too. I hope he choked on his stupid seeds."

Zelia flopped backwards on the bed, grinning at the thought as she watched the shadows flicker softly on the ceiling. Amara's network had told her Mersk had been to the Raven Queen temple already, searching for her after her escape. He'd left frustrated, with nothing more tangible than testaments from the temple's clergy that Zelia Brightstar had never been a member of their order, nor was she then within its walls.

It was a risk for her to come back to the city now, with the Black Circle looking for her, but the temple was enchanted against divination magic, and the laws of sanctuary hopefully would hold if the Circle did discover her presence there. Unwilling either to make a stand at Warsong or to flee the region, her party had decided that Zelia would hide out at the temple until it was either safe or necessary for her to be elsewhere. And so, loth though she was to accept such confinement, Zelia was on house arrest until further notice.

She hadn't seen Ignatius since the day they had escaped, a week ago now. He'd received instructions from the temple of Pelor to leave Warsong Keep immediately, presumably to lie low away from Faramon after forswearing his duties as Sacred Witness for Zelia's trial.

"So."

Zelia rolled onto her side on the small bed, propping her head up on one elbow. "What's there to do for fun around here?"

"Well..." Tess leaned back in her chair, lifting her hair up off her neck. "I was kind of hoping I might get my cards read by the famous Madam Brightstar while she's in the neighbourhood. Do you have them on you?"

"Pfft. Do I have them on me."

Zelia reached for a small pouch at her belt and pulled from it a worn deck of cards with purple backing and gold foil edges. Reading the cards was one of her oldest talents, self-taught during a lonely childhood, and one of the tools her party had been using to gain the confidence of the local peerage and gather intel on Chrysmer's inner circle since they'd come to Faramon.

"Have I really never done a reading for you, Tess?"

"Never," said the other woman, eyes sparkling slyly beneath blunt-cut bangs.

Zelia rolled nimbly to her knees and pulled the little table toward the bed, its legs scraping against the flagstone floor. She piled her own hair, raven blue, atop her head and pinned it there with a letter opener from Tess's nightstand.

"Well then, my dear," she said, theatrically, "take your seat, and we shall see what visions of the soul will be revealed this night."

She handed the deck to Tess, their fingers brushing, and Zelia stared into Tess's eyes, as she did with all her clients.

"Shuffle."

Above them, the shadowed silhouette of Corrick watched in silence.

Tess kept her eyes on Zelia as she shuffled and, when she was done, gave back the deck.

"Now," said Zelia, "Is there a certain aspect of your life for which you're seek clarity? Career, or family matters? love life?"

"Let's go with that last one," said Tess with a half-smile, leaning forward to refill Zelia's wine.

Giving away nothing, Zelia held the deck thoughtfully a moment, and cut it. She placed three cards face down on the table between them.

"Ready?"

"Whenever you are."

There was no sound in the room save the flick and snap of the first card being turned face up on the table. An image was revealed of two figures standing facing one another, a chalice raised in the hand of each. The expression on the figures' faces was one of sweet regard.

"Ooh, the Two of Cups," said Zelia. "A new lover is in store for you, Tess... Lucky card, for a romance reading. You're like to meet an attractive stranger sometime soon—or, you have your eye on someone already."

Tess's eyes flashed wickedly in the candlelight.

"Let's see the next card, then."

Another card was turned, and Zelia smiled the veiled smile of a mystic as she announced,

"The High Priestess. A woman of magic and intuition; she stands before the gates of mystery."

Zelia raised her own liquid green-blue gaze to meet Tess's grey eyes.

"This card could well mean you, Keeper Tess. Or, it could signify the lover from the first card. You're a woman of intuition: tell me, what do you think?"

Tess leaned over the table, looking at the picture on the card. Her skin was smooth and glowing in the soft light, her long lashes feathered on her cheeks. She tapped a finger on the last remaining card and looked up, eyes intent upon the fortune teller.

"Show me."

"With pleasure," Zelia replied, feeling more with each passing moment the possibilities of the night ahead. Yes, she'd told herself it was imprudent to go down that road, but was not imprudence what her friends expected of her?

But as she reached out her hand to flip the last card, a sudden chill went through her. Her sleeve brushed against the deck, and a single card was knocked from the pile, fluttering to the floor and landing face-up.

Both women peered over the side of the table.

"The Knight of Staves," murmured Zelia. "Reversed."

Though the room's one small window was shut fast, a strange wind blew through the chamber, lasting only for a moment. The flames guttered in the candles, and high on the shelving, Corrick's eyes glowed greenish-white, his feathers sticking out like spines.

"Ignatius?" Zelia whispered.

No sooner had she spoken than did Zelia feel the strange tingling sensation in her mind that always preceded one of Amara's sending spells. She sat upright, attentive, as the message came:

"Ignatius has been punished by his temple for violating Sacred Witness duty. He's been cast out of his order. Did you make the temple safely?"

Amara's voice, watery and echoing through the spell, faded and Zelia knit her brow as she sent back the short reply the spell allowed:

"Yes I'm here, I'm fine. Where is he now? He must be devastated."

Another sending:

"He's not in harm's way. Stay where you are. Talk later; must conserve spells."

As the transmission ended, Zelia sank back down on the bed.

"What happened," asked Tess. "Is everything ok?"

Zelia squeezed her eyes shut, a sickening feeling churning in her gut.

"Oh...I think I maybe fucked up, Tess."

Tess came to sit near Zelia and put her arm around her, consolingly.

"Tell me?"

Zelia pressed her fingers to her lips, collecting her thoughts.

"A friend of mine... no, more than a friend. Remember the guy from the, ah, closet at Tyr's temple?"

"Oh," said Tess, her voice falling slightly.

"I just received a message that he was excommunicated for escaping from the palace dungeon with me, after declaring himself Sacred Witness."

Tess removed her arm from Zelia's shoulder and gripped the edge of the mattress instead.

"That sucks."

After a minute, she added,

"It wasn't your fault, though."

Zelia placed her palms over her eyes. Maybe not, strictly speaking, but it was because of her. Her recklessness, her always carrying on as if everything was a game, despite Amara's cautions. It was no surprise she'd been the one to be arrested; of the three Ladies of Warsong, Zelia hardly bothered to disguise herself or change her ways, even though she knew they were supposed to keep a low profile. She exhaled, deflated.

"He didn't deserve this. And it will have crushed him."

Slowly, Zelia gathered up the cards spilled over the table, shuffling the remaining card from Tess's reading back into the deck, unseen.

"Hey, Tess, is it alright if I try to get some sleep? The road weariness is starting to kick in, I think."

"Of course," said Tess, standing. "I have an extra nightgown, if you need one."

Zelia accepted the plain linen shift and held it in her lap. She wondered what Ignatius's face had looked like when they told him; how it would've fallen. How he would have accepted the judgement of his order without argument, because of course he would have; how he would have shouldered the shame of it, unearned, undeserved. Unjust.

Standing a few feet away from her, Tess pulled off the black robes she'd been wearing and folded them neatly. The sight of her nakedness drew Zelia's attention despite herself: the smooth swells and lean lines of her, the dark pucker of her nipples, standing firm in the unheated room.

Zelia felt the warmth of arousal begin to spread between her thighs, urging her to go to Tess, knowing she'd be welcomed; to touch the contours of her body with her own hands, to wrap her fingers though her dark hair. Instead, she dropped her gaze.

Stop it, she thought. It was just this sort of following of whims and disregard for consequence that had gotten her into her current predicament, and already others were bearing the cost. Was it not heartless somehow, that she could hear of one paramour's distress and moments later fall into the arms of someone new?

Keeping her eyes pointedly to herself, Zelia stripped down and donned the plain grey nightdress. Tess had already gotten into bed, and Zelia slipped beneath the covers beside her.

It had grown chilly in the room as the night had deepened, and Zelia felt the promise of warmth in lying near the other woman. Unsure whether she could trust herself, she confined herself to the very edge of the narrow mattress, facing outwards.

She reached out a hand to snuff the last of the candles, bringing the softness of the dark around them, and tucked her arms beneath her chin.

"...I'm sorry for your friend," came a whisper through the darkness.

"Thanks," said Zelia, and waited for the temporary peace of sleep.

***

When morning came, Zelia felt warm and snug as she blinked her eyes awake. Too snug, she realized, as it slowly dawned on her that she'd been sleeping nestled into the slumbering embrace of her new roommate, her head nosing into the rich softness of a breast.

"Whoops."

As quietly as she could manage, Zelia extricated herself and left Tess snoring softly as she pulled on her clothes and exited the room, Corrick fluttering after her.

Guided by the memory of the scant few times she'd visited the temple prior to her current stay, she found her way to the dining hall and ate a quiet breakfast among strangers who seemed more intent on chewing peacefully than on making conversation.

By mid-morning, having made a tour of most of the regions of the building that weren't locked, Zelia was fit to crawl the walls with boredom.

"This is stupid," she said aloud, to no one. "I bet if I got the others and we stormed the palace right now, we'd take care of Chrysmer and his cronies by sundown and we could all go back to having interesting lives and not be stuck inside this stupid downer fucking building. No offence," she added, at a chortle from Corrick, "to the Goddess, in whose honour this sacred space is kept."

As she drew near the great spiral stairway, she saw a halfling woman with luminous dark eyes ascending it, eyes darting back and forth as if expecting to see the person to whom Zelia was speaking.

"Good morning, Sister. You are Lady Zelia, are you not?"

"Yup."

The halfling templed her hands solemnly in front of her in the same manner as Keeper Orun had the day before, and bowed slightly.

"There is someone asking for you at the door. He gives his name as Marcus."

Report Story

byShadedStrumpet© 0 comments/ 753 views/ 1 favorites

Share the love

Report a Bug

Next
3 Pages:123

Forgot your password?

Please wait

Change picture

Your current user avatar, all sizes:

Default size User Picture  Medium size User Picture  Small size User Picture  Tiny size User Picture

You have a new user avatar waiting for moderation.

Select new user avatar:

   Cancel