Sarlene's Touch Ch. 16byFuinimel©
"I heard you were looking for Lady Tarissa?" asked Callelsyn, "I am afraid she is not in at the moment."
Horvan had told her of the arrival of the visitor at the villa, and was now standing a discrete distance away as she invited Ansreal inside. She had met the young elf not so long ago, of course, for a meal in the courtyard with Tarissa's other paladin friends. She herself had invited Messandra, but that had made her human lover uncomfortable. The cleric and paladin would most likely not have approved of their relationship, and Messandra has not wanted to give them any reason to suspect it, which had made things awkward. At least Ansreal would have understood... although, as a paladin in training herself, who knew what her actual attitude was?
And now here she was, stepping into the foyer of the villa, holding what appeared to be a sealed letter. She looked a little uncertain, glancing around as if looking for someone. "Is... uh..." she began, "I mean... are you on your own?"
"Apart from Horvan, here, yes," replied Calleslyn, "I don't think Tarissa will be back until this evening." It almost seemed that Ansreal was trying to avoid someone, but who that might be Calleslyn had no idea. There hadn't been any disagreements with anyone, so why should there be a problem? The elf decided that, for the time being at least, it was not an important question,
"You have a letter for Tarissa?" she prompted.
"Yes, Sir Larimor sent me. He and Father Hemboldt are busy this afternoon at the temple, so they asked me to deliver this." She held the letter out. "I was told that, if she was not here, I could give it to any one of you. I understand it is about the incident at the palace recently. Lady Tarissa told you about that?"
Calleslyn nodded. "If you are free for a while, why not come in and discuss it?" She turned to Horvan, "could you perhaps bring some wine to the lounge?" The young man nodded, and soon she was leading Ansreal through and sitting her down as she opened the letter.
She had indeed heard of the events at the palace. While Tarissa had been there someone had attempted to rape a noblewoman in one of the back rooms. The paladin had saved her, and apprehended the assailant, but worse than that, she had sensed a demonic influence over the man. It was exactly what they had feared ever since discovering the old journal at Messandra's shop. Something infernal was casting its net over the city, corrupting those it needed to achieve its long-term aims – whatever those were.
The letter explained that Larimor and Hemboldt had interrogated the would-be rapist, a young scion of the nobility named Astelan. Whatever was influencing him had left, doubtless feeling that he would no longer be any use now that he was imprisoned. He would likely be exiled, his own noble house protecting him from more serious measures, while the house he had tried to dishonour wanted him gone for good.
The worrying thing was that Astelan did not seem to know how or when the demon had tried to take him over. Nobody in authority was willing to listen to his pleas that his actions had not been his own. Perhaps some of them were also corrupted, but it could equally well be, Hemboldt thought, that their conclusions were quite justified. Astelan had not been truly possessed, he had just heard a voice in his head that tempted him to do things.
The cleric was of the opinion that the young man could have chosen to ignore the being's blandishments and resist its urgings. That he had clearly not done so showed a weakness of character that made him at least partly responsible for what he had done. Calleslyn did not know Hemboldt that well, but the tone of the letter certainly made it seem that he had little sympathy for the youth.
"It is good that you are helping us on this," she told the young squire, "we wanted to limit the knowledge of what we were doing at first, and I suppose we still do. Who knows where this has spread? But your assistance is much appreciated, since I do not suppose any of us would have had the chance to talk to this Astelan after his arrest. But people from the temple can do this where we cannot."
"Are you planning to do something soon?" Ansreal asked, leaning forward slightly in her chair. Calleslyn noted her eager expression; this was a woman who wanted adventure and, no doubt, wanted to help defeat evil such as this. It made sense, given her calling, but she would have to be disappointed.
"We do, yes. I will leave it to Tarissa to say more, and I am sure she will... but, at the end of the day, this is something we must do on our own. These people will be watching your temple, of that you can be sure. They will already be worried at how much you might have found out from Astelan. Tarissa is a member of your temple, I know, but she is one person... once a number of you become involved, then any advantage of surprise we may still have will be gone. For the same reason that you can gain access to interview prisoners, you are also too high profile to be in on this directly."
"I am sorry," she added, "and, of course, things may yet change. No doubt we will need you again at some point. But not just yet. Adventurers can do things that you cannot."
"I suppose that is true," Ansreal conceded, "and it is more common among our people than becoming a paladin. But still not very usual... how did you become an adventurer? You are not from Haredil originally? If you don't mind me asking."
"Not at all. I am from Myaira, near the western coast," she smiled, "they were beautiful forests, a wonderful place to live."
"Oh, Myaira!" said Ansreal, in recognition, "I travelled through there on my way here, a few years ago. I am from Larelond, just to the north. Not quite as grand as Myaira, more of a frontier land, do you know it?"
After that, it somehow seemed natural to slip into Elvish, rather than the Common Tongue of the humans. Calleslyn realised how long it had been since she had a proper conversation in her native language. She had spoken Common for so long that her thoughts were almost always in that language now, and just speaking Elvish brought her memories back to her youth.
"I have heard of Larelond, yes. I have never been there, I am afraid. I imagine it must be very wild and open. Even the countryside around here is not like it was back home. But I knew I had to leave... I needed something more. At first, it was a desire to see more of the world, and to learn some of the human magic, which is why I came here. Then I met Tarissa, and the adventuring band was her idea. It just seemed to flow naturally, I never planned it as a long term career... and, by human standards, I do not suppose it will be. Some day, I shall return to the dales of Myaira, but not for a while. I have things to keep me here, for some years to come, I hope."
They talked more on the lands they had called home, of the green valleys and wooded hillsides, the clear rivers and blue skies. The wilds around Haredil had their own stark beauty, but not the verdant life of the western lands, close by the great sea. Even the towns blended in with the surrounding countryside, quiet and slow places where things took decades or centuries to change, if they ever did at all. Not at all like the bustle of humans, with their short and hurried lives.
"Living among humans is different," she said at one point, "but they are a vibrant people, and I have grown to love them. Their culture is different than ours, but it has its good points as well as its limitations. The diversity, even in this one city, can be invigorating."
"There are things I have found hard," admitted Ansreal, "restrictions that the paladins have that would seem strange to my parents or childhood friends. They stand for justice and for defending the weak, and that is why I have joined them, and I have no difficulty with most of their codes. But I have had to try and adapt to their ideas of love."
"Just recently, I spent a pleasant afternoon with..." she seemed about to say something, but visibly stopped herself before continuing, "well, let us just say that it was with a man. It is the sort of thing they would say I should avoid, yet it did not feel wrong. But I prayed afterwards, and I think I have come to an accommodation. Such things should not distract me from my path, and I should not allow myself to be seduced by those my order opposes... but I think I can do that. Perhaps I cannot resist desire itself, but I can ensure it does not lead me astray."
"Does that make sense? But it is not the sort of thing I can discuss with the clerics. Our order is not strictly speaking a celibate one, but at times it feels as if it might as well be. And the clerics are celibate, of course, so they would understand least of all. If I were to tell them some of my thoughts, they would be shocked."
"Human clerics," said Calleslyn ruefully, "yes, they can be different. Except those of Sarlene, I suppose. But otherwise, you might find that some humans are more open than you expect; they just tend to keep quiet about it."
"They must understand beauty, as we do," replied Ansreal, "The beauty of nature, of sunsets and damp woodlands, of flowers and birds. But when it comes to the beauty of a man or a woman, they must appreciate it... yet they see it as different, in some way. If I talked of the feel of a man's body, they would feel embarrassed, angry even, yet is it no different to the appreciation of our other senses."
"And if it were a woman, I spoke of... I just don't think they could understand. I hope you do not mind me saying that you are a beautiful woman, Calleslyn. But if I told someone like Father Hemboldt of the shape of your thighs, the curve of your breast, the colour of your eyes... I can't imagine what he would say. Really, I can't."
She was leaning closer as she spoke, and Calleslyn could sense the suppressed desire in her voice, could see her eyes wandering over her as they enumerated her features. The elven adventurer was not quite sure where she stood, although it was true that she, too, found the other woman attractive.
"It is odd," she agreed, "that they do not understand that any person may feel affection for any other, regardless of their gender. But I suppose that the path of Pardror is partly about giving things up for the greater good."
"And I will have to do so," said the squire. "I will do so. With men, perhaps I can reach an understanding. But once I am a full paladin, I am resolved to forget women. That shall be my burden. Yet I hope that my deity will permit me one last night before I am fully initiated into the order. Or..." she reached out a hand, and gently touched Calleslyn's knee, running a finger along the fabric of her dress, "... one last afternoon? For the memory of past times in Larelond, and in Myaira, too?"
They leaned closer together, until Calleslyn could feel the warm breath of the elven woman on her face. The flowing cadence of elven speech seemed entrancing, bringing her memories back to earlier days, on the sun-dappled grass of her home. How could she resist? Horvan would not interrupt them, and the others would be gone for some hours to come. And Ansreal seemed full of desire, how could she deny her one last experience of something she would soon forego? There would be few enough opportunities for her after this one and before her initiation.
Their lips touched, the kiss lingering, her partner's hand running through the softness of her long hair. No, for today, she would not deny Ansreal anything.
They kissed again, briefly, as they entered the room and closed the door behind them. Then Ansreal turned away, undoing the ties on her plain white dress. Calleslyn stepped up behind her, embracing her, pressing their bodies together, and planting another kiss on her long neck. The squire murmured something as Calleslyn moved her lips up the angle of her jaw, brushing her earlobe and tickling it with the tip of her tongue.
She moved her hands up, feeling Ansreal's pert young breasts through the cotton. She could feel the younger woman's nipples hardening, bulging even through the material. The squire's breath quickened, but Calleslyn took a step back, releasing her, and turning her attention to removing her own dress.
She stripped down to her shift, laying the dress on the trunk by her side-table, and looked over to the bed. Ansreal was already naked, save for a brief pair of cotton panties. Calleslyn stood there, watching her for a second, feasting her eyes on the younger elf's body. Her legs and arms were slender but well formed, the curve of her slightly open thighs delightful. She was a thin woman, with a narrow waist and hips, and that long, graceful neck that she had already kissed. Her breasts were not large, yet they were still prominent against her narrow frame, the nipples large, protruding like ripe berries.
She walked slowly across to the bed, feeling the young woman's eyes on her, tracing the curves beneath her own shift. "You really are pretty," Ansreal said, "human women are missing out on so much."
"What makes you think that they are?" asked Calleslyn, sitting down on the bed, and running a hand along the outside of Ansreal's nearer thigh.
The squire's eyes widened, and not at the touch. "You mean you've..." Calleslyn gave a half-smile, raising her eyebrows, but not directly answering the question. "You have! I didn't know that they..." the light seemed to dawn on her then. "Messandra? Is that why... you and she...?"
Calleslyn leant forward, touching a hand to Ansreal's pouting lips, silencing the younger woman. "We don't need to speak of anyone else," she whispered, "not for now." She received a silent nod in response, and, moving slowly, leaned further forward to take the woman's head in her hand, pulling them gently together for another taste of those oh-so-kissable lips.
Their tongues entwined, and Ansreal's hand tenderly reached out to move across her flank. Their breasts were pressed together, separated only by the fabric of Calleslyn's shift, and she could feel her partner's swollen nipples prodding into her eager flesh. She pulled back slowly from the kiss, keeping her gaze locked on her partner's wide blue eyes, her lips still half-parted.
She trailed a finger down Ansreal's chin, making her lift it for a moment before running it down her neck, over the delicate curve of her windpipe, then lower and to the side, over her shoulders. Her partner shivered in anticipation as the finger moved slowly over the outer curve of her breasts, feeling the smooth skin there. She traced a circle, spiralling in a little closer with each movement, until she reached the sensitive skin of the squire's nipple.
"You have the most beautiful green eyes," said Ansreal, still watching her face as Calleslyn felt the smooth nub beneath her finger, so large and prominent. "And graceful fingers, too."
"Mmm hmm?" was Calleslyn's only reply as she released the tender nipple and moved the trailing finger inwards, running down between her partner's breasts and then across the concave expanse of her belly. She paused for a moment at the navel, circling and brushing it, before moving ever downwards, feeling Ansreal's body now trembling with anticipation.
Lazily, she traced it to one side, shifting her position to watch her own movements now, instead of her partner's face. She hooked one side of Ansreal's panties, pulling them down slightly over one hip, feeling the curve of it.
"Yes..." breathed the squire, "show me what else that finger can do."
Calleslyn smiled, but then moved her hand along the surface of the cotton, over the curve of her hip, down and round to where the back of her thighs met her rounded buttocks. Slowly, she moved it down over Ansreal's outer thigh, to her slender calves, admiring the shape of the young elf's legs. She reached the ankle, and ran it down the side of her feet, ending only at the tip of her toes.
"I..." began the squire, but Calleslyn made a shushing motion, and received silence in response. Ansreal's eyes were following her every movement, but she had hardly moved from her position.
Calleslyn gently raised her partner's leg, and planted a kiss just above the inner side of her ankle. Ansreal drew a long breath in response, but managed to stop herself speaking, The older elf planted a second kiss a little higher up, running her fingers across the smooth skin. Although the would-be paladin was slim, she could feel that there were muscles beneath that soft pink expanse, the result of long combat training and exercise. Yet not enough to spoil her figure, she thought as she moved her kisses further up, along the calf, around her knee, and to the soft flesh of the inner thigh.
Ansreal mewled, biting her lip to keep from speaking as the soft kisses moved ever higher up her leg. She had pulled her other thigh well apart now, baring the white material of her panties, a damp stain clearly forming on her mound. Calleslyn could smell her sex now, the fragrance unmistakable. She pulled the plain cotton to one side, kissing the inner angle of her partner's hip, then at last using both hands to pull it down, exposing the young elf's moist sex.
She had just a narrow tuft of blond hair there, otherwise smooth, but not shaved as she had heard human women did in some cultures. She blew gently onto the damp lips, drawing a passionate shudder from the other woman. She looked up, seeing Ansreal still watching her, her left hand rubbing a breast, teasing her own nipple.
The squire gasped again as she at last planted a kiss directly upon those waiting pussy lips. Gently, she slid her tongue inside, lapping at the taste. It was too much for Ansreal, who bucked her hips, and uttered a heartfelt prayer of thanks to Sarlene. Calleslyn slid her tongue back and forth, along the length of the folds, now and then darting it between as the young elf's breath came harder and little cries escaped from her mouth.
A finger followed, sliding into the pink wetness, allowing her tongue to dive deeper and obviously engendering its own happy responses in the trainee paladin. As she reached the clit, Ansreal arched her back, whimpering as she almost came at the sensation.
But instead of urging her on to bring her to the very peak of climax, Ansreal moaned, "I want to see you – I want to see your body."
The older elf leaned back, ceasing her ministrations, and flicking back a stray blond lock that had fallen loose. "Of course," she said, reaching down to the hem of her shift. She raised it slowly, as Ansreal's eyes greedily drunk in every new inch of exposed flesh. At last, she pulled it over her head, and the younger elf reached out to touch her.
"What lovely breasts you have," said Ansreal, "not like mine."
Callesyn said nothing, simply dropping the shift by the side of the bed, and bending over to take one of her partner's nipples in her mouth. It was rounded, remarkably prominent, sweet beneath her lips, and slick beneath the wandering attentions of her tongue. "Nothing wrong there," she said, moving her attention to the other side.
They kissed on the lips again, breasts sliding against each other, nipples touching, as the older elf slid her panties down and kicked them free. Calleslyn was on top, her partner's hands fondling her buttocks and gripping her back. She felt Ansreal move beneath her, raining kisses down her neck.
The younger elf was not so slow as she had been, eager and excited to explore Calleslyn's naked body. The adventurer raised herself up on her elbows, breasts hanging down as Ansreal reached them, passionately kissing each one in turn. "So perfect..." the squire commented, before moving down to her belly, forcing Calleslyn to raise herself up onto her knees, and move a little forward so that there was still room on the bed. The musical sound of her partner's voice, still in the enchanting tones of Elvish, was enough alone to almost drive her to distraction.