Sarlene's Touch Ch. 10byFuinimel©
"I am sorry," said Ostrid, "but the only thing here for you are the plans your party requested. Raylana is not here; I am afraid that she has misled you into believing that you were..." she blushed slightly, looking down at the ground, "...here for some other purpose. That is not the case."
Almandar had, of course, been surprised, on opening the door to Raylana's home to discover the dwarven woman there, rather than the merchant. Her presence alone made it unlikely that anything interesting would occur, and now she had confirmed that Raylana was not here at all, and was not going to be.
"So what has happened?" he asked, still unsure of how events were unfolding.
"You should come in," she said, instead of replying, and still having some difficulty looking him in the face. This was clearly something she felt uncomfortable discussing, but at least she looked embarrassed, rather than deceitful. "The plans you requested are in here," she added.
"I thought you were giving them to Dolrim. Didn't your family insist on it?"
She nodded, her shoulders slumped, but said nothing further until they had reached the main room of the house. It was a wide open space, with a balcony above, with a divan, and numerous cushions and tables. Ostrid headed for a dresser on one side, where a carved wooden box was sitting. She picked it up gingerly, holding it close to her chest.
"You mustn't tell them," she said, now looking up at him with imploring eyes, "I promised them I would give this only to Dolrim. This is dwarven knowledge; while he may choose to tell you of it -- and, from what you have said, I hope he does -- it must be his decision, not mine. It has a cunningly devised lock on it... Raylana would know how to undo it, since she has experience of dwarven craftsmanship, but I am hoping that you do not."
Almandar thought it was entirely possible that Vardala could have found a way in, but he did not mention it. It was unlikely that would be needed, after all.
"But even so, I must ask you not to try. You must give this straight to Dolrim tomorrow morning. I am already breaking my promise in simply giving it to you... if it became known, I do not know what would happen."
She seemed genuinely worried, so the half-elf nodded his agreement. "Of course, I promise -- I will not even try to open it. But you haven't explained what is going on. Why are you not simply giving this to Dolrim? Why are you here at all?"
"Raylana..." she started, blushing again, "she wanted to..." she looked away from him, apparently unable to frame the words, "she wanted to get to know Dolrim better. In... private. So she deceived you. We had to find some way to get the box to one of you, and she thought that you... that you might be persuaded to come here, where I could hand you it."
The concept was sufficiently strange that it took Almandar a little time to digest it. If Raylana really wanted to be intimate with Dolrim, he could not see that she was very likely to be successful. Perhaps there was more to it, but interrogating the poor dwarf was unlikely to be very productive, and, in any event, he had to resign himself to a quiet night.
"I see... well, I won't ask you any more. It is not our business." And she, it was clear, did not want to talk of such things, if she knew much about them at all. "What will you do now?"
"Wait here alone... until the morning, I suppose." She sighed suddenly, a despairing sound. "I should not have done this!" She shook her head, and covered her face with one hand, clutching the box with the other. "I should not have allowed her! What have I done?"
Almandar was unsure what to do. Had she been a human woman, he would have comforted her, patted her on the shoulder, or given her a hug. But that would never do for a dwarf, as private as they were. But still, her race's natural tendency for taciturnity had temporarily deserted her, and he felt he had to say or do something. He might not truly understand the source of her despair, but he could at least emphasise with it. The woman did not deserve to suffer because of this.
"I could keep you company for a little while," he said, "just to talk, if that's what you want."
"That would be kind," she said, wiping what might have been a trace of a tear from one eye. "I believe there is some wine, somewhere."
He found the bottle and a couple of goblets -- apparently of dwarven manufacture -- and laid them down on one of the low tables. Ostrid took the divan, while he sat opposite her on some scatter cushions. That brought their eye levels closer together, but at first, the dwarven woman simply sat there, her hands in her lap, unsure of what to do. Almandar poured them both some drink, and took a sip himself.
"Thank you," she said, simply, reaching across to her own goblet. She gulped it down rather quickly, obviously still somewhat uncomfortable. He had to distract her from her worries, and turned to a topic of conversation he hoped would take her mind off Raylana's supposed antics.
"Your family has been a while?" he asked, "the Olain clan, was it? I confess that I don't really know much about dwarven clans and families."
At last, Ostrid smiled, a look akin to relief crossing her features. She was almost pretty when she did that, he reflected, or at least as much as a dwarf could be. "Clans are extended families," she said, "large groups held together by a common ancestor. We have rituals that bind us into a similar unit, although I can't talk too much about those."
He nodded, encouragingly, and she continued. "The Olain are a city clan; we have been in Haredil for generations. Our ancestors came here from the mountains, and masonry has always been one of our skills. But, of course, each clan includes several different professions," she took another drink of the wine, "so my own family being masons, that is a sign of status. I am very proud of my father's skill."
"So you want to be a mason?"
She actually smiled at that, briefly, showing a flash of white teeth. "That's a man's job! Like mining or blacksmithing. True, women do sometimes do such things, but no, I prefer jewellery. I would be a silversmith, I think, if I had the chance." Before he could ask her more about that, she changed the subject. "What about you?"
"Ah, well," he said, leaning back, "I don't know if there is much to tell. I'm first generation; my father was the elven side of the family." Half-elves, of course, could breed true, so many elsewhere were second generation or more, but they were not numerous in Haredil, for some reason. But then, half-elves in general were not common, and they did not have the binding ties to racial communities that pureblooded races had. "He left my mother when I was young, I am afraid. He left the city, in fact, so I never saw him after that." He did not add that his father had, in the manner so typical of his flighty elven kindred, fallen for someone else, and left to be with them. That would remind her of her own reason for being here, and he did not want that. It was probably even more important to omit the fact that this father had left, not for another woman, but for a man.
They continued talking, chatting about this and that, and Almandar found a second bottle of wine, mentally noting that he would have to repay Raylana for it -- although, under the circumstances, her own behaviour had hardly been exemplary.
As the warmth settled into his stomach, he found himself looking more at Ostrid. His earlier opinion, he decided, has been wrong; her face was broad, like those of her kin, yet, despite that, she actually was pretty. She had large blue eyes, and long blond hair with a slight hint of red in it, falling down her back in a long, carefully knotted, braid. Her clothing was demure, of course, a shapeless grey dress that reached down to her ankles, with a low collar about her neck, and sleeves tight to the wrists. Heavy, leather boots with chunky soles projected from beneath the skirt, and would have looked incongruous on a human.
The dress disguised her figure, as was doubtless its intent, but she was clearly not a slim woman -- although, what dwarf ever was? Her shoulders were broad, almost like a dwarven man's, giving her a somewhat beefy shape. She might almost have looked masculine, as a result, but her face was too pretty for that, and her breasts, so far as he could make out beneath the shapeless clothing, were surprisingly large.
He wondered if the wine were having an effect on her, too. She had drunk enough of it, although dwarves had quite a tolerance for alcohol, so that might be less significant than it appeared. Certainly, she seemed more relaxed, smiling more often, her earlier depression and worry quite forgotten.
"But I don't know," she said at one point, "how much chance I will have to practice silverwork. If my father finds a suitable suitor, there might not be time for a good career, unless I have already managed to establish my name by then. I might become a home-maker, instead. I am not sure what that would be like."
She looked a little dejected at that, and he was worried that the wine might actually be making her maudlin. "Do you mind?" he said, taking the initiative and getting up from the cushions to sit beside her. She made no move, making Almandar feel a little more emboldened. "You look tense," he told her, "allow me..."
He reached out slowly, putting a hand on each of Ostrid's shoulders. She flinched at first, but did not leap up, or even say anything, so he gently began to massage the muscles of her shoulders and upper back. Her muscles were indeed tense, and bulkier than those of most human women, too. He could not say what was going through her mind, but his own was turning back towards the thoughts he had had earlier in the evening, when he still expected Raylana. Although how he could broach the subject, he was unsure. He had, after all, never kissed a dwarven woman before, or even thought about doing so. And there was a good chance that she would find the very thought revolting.
"I like silversmithing because of the detail," she said, out of the blue. "It has such intricacy and beauty. You can spend hours going over the same piece, until it is just right. It requires such a deft, gentle touch. Mmm... that's good," she added, edging imperceptibly closer to him, and lifting her heavy braid out of the way so that he could more easily reach the base of her neck.
"So you like to take your time on things?" he asked, "slow, but precise... hitting just the right spot?"
"Dwarven men aren't always like that," said Ostrid, as if avoiding the direct question, "they hammer away at their foundries, all heat and power. But the quality is so much better if you get everything just right... the detail in a finely wrought piece of silver filigree can be almost... sensuous, don't you agree?"
When he did not, at first, reply, she half-turned towards him, her blue eyes curious. Her lips were broad, pale like her skin, and slightly parted. He leaned down towards her, as she craned her neck up, and kissed her very lightly, scarcely touching her. She froze in place, for a moment, and then turned away.
"I... I don't know what I was doing," she said, blushing deeply, "I am sorry... I did not mean to..." she trailed off, unable to find the words.
"It was all me," said Alamandar, apologetically, mentally adding that the wine might also have been relevant, "I did not mean to offend you." He took his hands off her shoulders, so that they were no longer touching. "If you didn't like it, I can..."
"No," she said, cutting him off, "it was... it was pleasant. I just didn't... I mean, I... we couldn't..."
He reached for her then, cupping her chin gently in one hand, and turning her round towards him again. Her blush was fading now, her eyes wider. "You don't need any words," he told her, "just this..." and he reached down to kiss her again, longer this time, feeling her soft lips against his own. This time she made no move away, and when he reached an arm round her, feeling the thick woollen clothing against her back, it seemed that she pressed closer against him.
They parted, and Ostrid took a few deep breaths to steady herself. She seemed about to say something, but stopped before she did so, instead simply looking into his eyes.
"We have the whole night, you said," he reminded her, "and I am sure this house has a bedroom?"
The bedroom was well-decorated, when they found it, with a large bed with sheets that looked soft and inviting. Almandar removed his outer tunic, placing it on a side dresser next to a decorative dwarven carving. He looked round, to see Ostrid pulling her boots off, and then stopping, looking down at the floor. After a moment's silence, she looked up to him, "I don't know," she said, "should we be doing this?"
He sat down beside her, reaching for her shoulders again. "It's up to you," he said, gently massaging her, "although I won't pretend that, by now, I wouldn't be disappointed."
She hesitated, then reached a hand up to his chin, pulling him down for another kiss. It was surprising how soft her skin was, he thought, glad that she had not decided to become a blacksmith. And that the rumour about dwarven women having beards was completely unfounded.
As they parted, she reached out for his belly, running the cotton of his shirt between thumb and forefinger. He did nothing, wanting her to take the next step, and she did, plucking up the courage to pull his shirt free, and lift it up to his chest so that he could pull it off and lay it beside the bed. Her fingers ran over his chest, up from his stomach to his nipples, slowly taking the feel of his body. Her touch was light, yet stimulating, her hands caressing him as they might an alabaster statue.
She leaned forward, resting her forehead on his chest; he could feel her warm breath on his skin, as she continued to stroke him, silently. One hand around her shoulder, he moved the other down to her leg, lifting up the low hem of the skirt, reaching inside. Her calves were stocky and rounded, yet there seemed hardly a trace of fat on her body. Slowly, he slid his hand up further, encountering a thick woollen garment reaching to just above her knee. Her thighs, even through the wool, seemed broad and powerful.
As he stroked her thigh, she broke off her own ministrations, and still leaning against him, began to gingerly undo the ties on his trews. He leaned back, away from her, giving her more purchase, and she stopped for a second, before returning to slowly peel off his clothing. He was dressed only in his drawers now, the white cotton clearly tented up by the rising erection beneath. Ostrid looked at it wordlessly, running a hand down his thigh, tickling the hair there. His erection throbbed with desire, a tiny drop of pre-cum darkening the fabric at the tip.
She leaned back then, and pulled at her dress, lifting it up over her head, and shaking her hair free, before dropping it beside the bed, and looking up at him questioningly, her breath hard, and her face already flushed.
Beneath the dress she was wearing curious undergarments, made of a tight woollen weave. Her lower body, as he had already discovered, had drawers that reached almost to her knees, but she was also wearing an upper garment, quite unlike the shift that human and elven women typically wore. It was a sort of vest, he supposed, with short sleeves reaching only just below her elbows, and hugging her body tightly; it was tucked into the band of her drawers, showing off no more flesh than her arms and calves. If there was one thing to be said for it, he supposed, it was that the tightness of it lifted her large breasts, accentuating their curve.
He reached forward, holding one shoulder as he smiled reassuringly -- she still looked nervous -- then running his hand down the short length of her arm. She had light hair there, soft and downy, the blond colour almost invisible against her skin. They kissed again, briefly, as she ran a hand down his flank.
As she did so, he moved his own hands towards her, eager to see what lay beneath the concealing undergarments. He pulled the vest free from the band of her drawers, lifting it up with both hands to expose her midriff. She was not slender, of course, for no dwarves were, and her abdomen was wide and short. Yet it was also trim, as free from fat as the rest of her body, and she shivered slightly as he ran a hand along its smooth skin, running a finger round her navel.
Slowly, her hands moved lower, until they reached the drawstring of his remaining undergarments, inches away from the tenting bulge. Ostrid took a deep breath, and pulled them down, gazing at his exposed erection. She gave a little gasp as she watched it for a moment, before running her fingers through his pubic hair. Gently, she traced the tip of one finger along his balls, and then up the shaft, finally resting on the tip.
Almandar closed his eyes, savouring the feeling, letting her take her time. She cupped his balls in the palm of her hand, then slid it up over his cock, squeezing him slightly when she reached the tip. He wanted her badly, but knew that he had to contain himself a little longer; she wanted to take this at her own, languorous, pace, and he was going to let her.
He opened his eyes again, to see her gazing up at him, breasts rising and falling beneath the covering wool, blue eyes wide with anticipation and perhaps a little wonder. He reached down to her flanks again, hooking his thumbs into the base of her vest. Sensing his need, she raised her arms, allowing him to pull it up and off. She shook her head, and the heavy braid fell over one shoulder, now trailing by her side, the silver filigreed clasp at the top resting against the bare skin of her shoulder.
She was, he had to admit, even better looking now than he had thought before. If all dwarven women were like this, he had been missing a great opportunity. Her breasts were large and rounded, yet not at all pendulous, as pert and enticing as those of a much younger human woman. Her nipples had perhaps the largest aureoles he had ever seen, pale brown in colour against the near white of her breasts.
He realised that he had been motionless, just looking at her, taking in the view, and that she was beginning to redden slightly. He smiled at her, and reached out to caress her breasts. The skin was smooth, the flesh almost surprisingly firm. He cupped them, feeling their weight in his hands, then slid his fingers up to her nipples.
Ostrid gasped as he touched them, savouring the hot hardness between finger and thumb. She let out a slight whimper as he ran a finger round one large aureole, squirming slightly beneath his touch. He realised that her nipples must be exquisitely sensitive, and focussed on them a little more, making her cry out with delight as he gently flicked one.
Then she pressed herself into him, kissing him passionately, and pushing him back onto the bed. Her breasts lay against his chest, her braid against his arm. His cock slid against the soft wool covering her lower thigh, a delightful feeling that made him gasp aloud in pleasure. He moved his hands down her back, as her own hands explored his naked body, then he slid one down the back of her pants, moulding and squeezing her tight buttocks.
She pulled away from him then, gasping, her face flushed and a little sweaty. They both gazed over each other's bodies as they drew breath, he noticing the damp patch now visible on the wool beneath her legs. Then she rolled over on her back, giving him another splendid view of her breasts as she did so.
"I think you should be on top," he told her, sensing her purpose, as one hand moved towards the hem of her drawers -- with the difference in height, it was going to be awkward otherwise. Suddenly, though, he wondered if he had said the right thing, as she raised her other hand to her mouth, literally gasping as if in shock, her drawers just half way down over one hip. "Sorry..." he said, confused, "did I say something wrong?" Was there some strange dwarven custom he was unaware of? That they even had customs for such things seemed surprising.