The Long Road to Ruin Ch. 44byLady_Blackhawk©
Disclaimer: This fanfic is based off the Neverwinter Nights community module by the name of "A Dance with Rogues" created by Valine. I fell in love with this story and felt compelled to write something that compliments it. This story contains explicit content and graphic violence. All characters except Shiloh, Bastian, Rhys, Nicca, Ni'as, Narev and Essex are property of Valine.
Life In A Northern Town
A scream erupted from her throat as she crashed into something with a bang as loud as her scream. Shiloh shook herself, clearing the haze from her head. She blinked and looked around, perusing her surroundings. She found herself amongst a pile of wooden debris that might have been a desk a couple of moments ago, before the impact destroyed it.
"Ouww... my ass," she groaned before she stood up, gingerly rubbing her backside.
"What the ...," A man clad in a long, black robe looked disbelievingly back then forth between her and the remains of his desk. "Who the hell are you?! And look what you did to my desk!"
"Against that wall is a stupid place for a desk. Don't you know anything about interior design?"
He glared at her. "Cheeky wench, you've left me nothing but firewood! To top it all off, I could've turned you into a frog!"
A smirk crossed Shiloh's face, "Just as long as you don't intend to kiss me."
"Very funny," he muttered then eyed her thoughtfully.
Shiloh puckered her lips then blew him a kiss, "Go ahead, look all you want. To do anything else will cost ya!" She grinned impudently, listening to the imp within her cackle. "Then again I am not sure you could afford me."
He rolled his eyes, "I'd like to know how you got here."
A wider grin split her face, "I'm sure such a smart magician or whatever you are should be able to figure that out."
"I know HOW you got here, stupid wench. I wonder how it is still POSSIBLE. I thought I had closed the damn thing last time," he fumed, scowling at her impertinence.
"It seems to me that you did a poor job," Shiloh retorted, no longer finding their verbal sparring amusing.
"Yes, you are proof enough," he shook his head in an annoyed manner.
Shiloh cut to the point, "I'm looking for somebody... a woman, in her late twenties perhaps, with sandy hair. It's possible that she used your portal as well. Have you seen her?"
"Oh yes, I have indeed. She arrived a week ago or so, ruining my globe in the process! I teleported back to the Academy afterwards, but as it seems the portal doesn't feel like being closed," the robed man said as he glowered at her intently.
"Are you going to tell me where she is or are you going to continue to stand there looking stupid?" Shiloh hissed tersely.
"She's most likely entertaining Baron Ravenstower. Now be a good girl and follow me."
"Who's Baron Ravenstower?"
"Baron Ravenstower is the liege lord of these lands. Come with me," he shook his head then opened the door of the study.
Shiloh frowned at the mage before her. "Your Baron Ravenstower can't be all that important. I've never heard of him." Her tone of voice became haughty as she followed the man out of the room. Down a flight of stairs then through a large workshop where several dogs lazed about then to a second set of stairs he led her. They entered the great hall of Castle Ravenstower, crowded with men, women and children seated at long trestle tables enjoying an evening meal. The haunting strains of lute music touched her ears. Shiloh pursed her lips at the familiar sound. It reminded her of home, being in the great hall, listening to a traveling bard who'd offered to perform in exchange for a meal or possibly a bed for the night. She shook her head ruefully. It does no good to dwell on the past, she scolded inwardly. That couldn't be changed no matter how hard she wished it.
The wizard led Shiloh to an older man sitting on a big, wooden throne. Baron Ravenstower, she presumed. She glanced about, observing the common folk around her. Then to her right sitting on the floor, playing a lute was Pia. Shiloh let out a sigh of relief, thanking the gods she'd found her.
"Shiloh," Pia exclaimed as she bounced to her feet, beaming an enthusiastic smile.
Shiloh returned the smile before returning her attention to the mage and the Baron he'd brought her before. The older man sitting on the throne glared at the mage crossly, perturbed at the intrusion. "What do you want, Terek? Don't you see I'm listening to the bard?"
Terek bowed respectfully, "Forgive me, my liege, but this girl suddenly appeared in my study, smashing my desk in the process. She's lucky I kept my wits about me and didn't turn her into a frog?"
"Ribbit..." Shiloh croaked, mimicking the sound of a frog. Mirth flooded her cheeks. She winked at Pia, who giggled behind her hand.
Baron Ravenstower bellowed with laughter, his belly shaking. "I certainly know what I would have done, had she appeared on MY desk." The baron gaze focused on Shiloh's bountiful chest.
"Could be your wizard doesn't like girls? I think he likes frogs, M'lord. He keeps threatening to turn me into one then kiss me? Please don't let him kiss me," Shiloh pleaded, trying to keep a straight face.
"Is that so, Terek?" The baron guffawed merrily, amused by Shiloh's antics.
Terek shook his head then changed the subject. He muttered a few choice words under his breath before speaking aloud. "The bard seems to know her. I think it is an odd coincidence that they are here."
Baron Ravenstower motioned Terek away with a wave of dismissal. "We will discuss this later. You interrupted the bard's performance. I want to hear the rest of her song, not your conspiratorial drivel."
Terek glowered at the baron, "As it is your wish, my liege. I shall take the girl to one of the guest rooms for the meantime." He then took hold of Shiloh's arm, pulling her along with him.
"Easy on the goods, jackass," Shiloh hissed at the tight grip he had on her.
He cocked an eyebrow at her then loosened his hold slightly, leading her to one of the castle's towers. After climbing more stairs then walking down a short corridor, he opened the door to a small windowless but comfortable looking room furnished with a large bed, a chamber pot, a wash stand and armoire.
She cocked an eyebrow at him then walked into the room, looking around.
"I advise you to stay here," Terek warned. "The guard's tend to attack first then ask questions later."
She scowled at him, "This'll do... for now, but Pia will be returning to Betancuria with me."
"I doubt that Baron Ravenstower will let the bard go. He's taken a liking to her music, amongst other things."
"Maybe I've taken a liking to her as well. She'll be coming back with me," Shiloh flashed an insolent smirk at him.
Terek shook his head, "I'll bring her up once she's finished her performance downstairs. You'd better be a good girl and stay in this room until then. Do I make myself clear?"
"Crystal," she sneered, sticking her tongue out at him.
"Good," Terek turned around, leaving the room behind. She heard the sound of the door locking from the other side then footsteps as he walked away. Shiloh stripped off the red dress and boots then slipped on her armor.
She began to pace the small room. Eight steps took her from wall to wall. She had to think. She figured she could probably sneak out, but considering she didn't know where she was thought not. She sat down on the bed, placing her elbows on her knees. She'd never heard of Baron Ravenstower, which was very odd. Her parents made sure that she learned all the names of the lands and nobles of the civilized world. Shiloh was sure that there was no Baron Ravenstower amongst them. So either this Baron just recently came into power, which seemed unlikely. Also since there weren't any signs of a recent battle that she could see. She had to assume his lands were so tiny that her teachers decided they were negligible. In any case she had found Pia. Now Shiloh had to convince the baron to let her beautiful bard return home to Betancuria.
Time passed as she watched a candle burn down. She hadn't left her seat on the edge of the bed. Her pondering continued when the door opened then Pia walked in. "Oh Shiloh, it's so good to see you," Pia beamed as she walked closer.
"I was pondering how to sneak down to you so we could speak," Shiloh replied to the vivacious blonde, returning the effervescent smile.
Pia giggled happily. "Then I suppose I have saved you the effort. But what are you doing here, of all places?"
"Looking for trouble," Shiloh grinned mischievously.
Pia grinned, "We're good at that, aren't we? You know, I was working at the Academy, and there was that shiny portal. I didn't actually want to step through, but I guess I got too close. Then suddenly, flash, I'm sitting on top of that wizard! You should have seen his face." Pia rolled her eyes.
"I stepped through the portal because I suspected you had, and it also took me to the wizard's room. Well, but not onto his lap," Shiloh smirked.
"Maybe I scared him so much that he decided to change directions," Pia giggled, as she crossed her eyes, making a silly face.
Shiloh laughed out loud, amused by Pia's self deprecating humor, "Well, I killed his desk in the process. He shouldn't place furniture near the exit of a portal, especially one of his own. You'd think a wizard would know better."
"I got his globe," Pia grinned. "What a thing to have happen. I'm just too darn clumsy. Do you have any thoughts on how we're supposed to get home? There's snow outside, a lot of it. I believe we are very far away from Betancuria."
Shiloh shook her head, "Don't worry, Pia. We'll find a way."
"Baron Ravenstower also said that he won't let me go," Pia sighed.
"That certainly isn't good," Shiloh frowned. "If that turns out to be the case, we'll just sneak off."
"I've been thinking about that, too, but not tonight." Pia yawned and stretched.
Shiloh watched her intently, "Tired?"
Pia nodded sleepily, "Let's get some rest," Then she made herself comfortable on the floor.
"Pia, why are you sleeping on the floor?" Shiloh asked as her brow furrowed.
"There's only one bed," Pia shrugged, curling into a ball.
"Don't be silly, Pia. It's big enough for the both of us. I'm certainly not going to sleep in the bed, leaving you on the floor alone."
A doubtful look flashed over Pia's face, "There's only one blanket."
"It's big enough for both of us," Shiloh countered, as she began to remove her armor.
"Well, okay," Pia sighed.
Shiloh stripped off the rest of her armor then crawled under the blanket. Her thoughts wandered as she shivered. The room was cold as was the blanket. Back when she still lived in the castle, the servants would warm her bed with a hot pan before she went to sleep. How times had changed. Shiloh watched as Pia quickly slipped out of her clothes as well, joining her under the blanket. Shiloh noticed Pia was careful not to get to close.
A sigh slipped from Shiloh's lips as she eyed the beautiful bard, "Pia...?"
Pia replied, "Yes, Shiloh?"
"I wanted you to know something. That night at the Lion's Head Inn, it was very beautiful."
Pia shifted, but did not reply. Shiloh glanced over her shoulder, gazing back into Pia's lovely face. She watched as Pia's cheeks flushed, her eyes fluttering closed then back open. A look of wonderment crossed the bard's beautiful features.
"Oh Shiloh," Pia wrapped her arms around Shiloh, gently pulled her close. Shiloh rested her head on Pia's shoulder, reveling in Pia's softness and warmth. Pia voice dropped to a barely audible whisper in Shiloh's ear. "I'm very sorry for bringing you into this situation, Shiloh. I promise I'll do my best to find a way home."
"We will find a way. We're two sneaky girls, aren't we?" Shiloh grinned, happy to be in Pia's arms. Through all the lovers Shiloh had, male and female, she realized that Pia was special. She had gotten very close to Myra, but always felt deep down that something was lacking. As she cuddled closer to Pia, she realized nothing was lacking between them. Deep in her heart she knew she could give herself wholly to Pia without fear of being hurt.
Pia giggled, "Yes indeed."
Pia tenderly played with a strand of Shiloh's hair, "I really mean it. I could never let you come to harm." Pia placed a soft kiss upon Shiloh's head, embracing her tighter. "Let's get some rest now."
Shiloh closed her eyes then drifted off into the willing arms of slumber. The bard and princess spent the night resting in each others arms, sharing their warmth.
Shiloh awoke abruptly when the opened the door to her room and somebody walked in. She rose up on her elbows, watching as the wizard stopped at the end of the bed. She glared at him angrily, ready to unleash a tirade at him. At that moment, she wished for a dagger to throw at him. How dare this man invade their privacy without knocking!
With a smirk on his ruddy face, Terek glanced at Pia then Shiloh, "Well, good morning ladies."
"You could have knocked before bursting into our room," Shiloh retorted haughtily.
Terek cocked an eyebrow at her, "Baron Ravenstower wishes to speak to you. Come."
"Fine, but you will wait outside the room while we dress," Shiloh demanded.
Terek shook his head, "Get dressed then follow me. I haven't the time for this nonsense. The Baron doesn't like to be kept waiting."
Shiloh flounced out of bed, grabbing her armor then slipping into it. She glared at the wizard, envisioning all manners of torture she'd love to wreak upon his flesh. Once she was finished, she'd sacrifice his soul to Bastian, letting her revered Lord do what he would to him for an eternity. The thought pleased her. She flashed an evil grin at Terek before strapping on her weapons.
Pia hastily scrambled into her clothing, covering herself with her pink and purple garments. She blushed profusely as she felt the wizard's eyes upon her, maliciously leering at her. He sneered; his upper lips curling derisively before he turned then opened the door. "You have to the count of ten to finish dressing. If you have not joined me by then, I'll escort you to the baron in whatever state of dress you might be."
Shiloh stuck her tongue out him then pulled on her boots. "Damn wizard," she muttered, cursing him vehemently under her breath.
A few seconds later, Pia opened the door to find Terek standing on the other side with the arms across his chest, his foot tapping on the floor impatiently and a perturbed expression on his face. He led them up to the next floor, escorting them into Baron Raventower's office.
Shiloh scanned the room. She noticed the baron was sitting behind a huge wooden desk with an unfriendly expression on his face. Sheaves of paper and leather bound ledgers sat before him. He looked up then set the pen he'd been dipping in an inkwell aside.
"Here are the two girls, M'lord," Terek bowed dutifully.
The Baron briefly raked his eyes over Shiloh, glowering at her before his gaze moved to Pia, then his expression brightening immediately.
Shiloh curtsied before Baron Ravenstower, dutifully showing respect.
Baron Ravenstower cocked an eyebrow then addressed his court wizard, "Well, Terek?"
"She appeared on my desk, yesterday. I believe she had stepped through the remains of my portal at the Academy at Betancuria, M'lord," he replied then bowed.
A great chuckle erupted from the baron's throat, "At the very least, your portal provides us with pretty women."
"I can assure you there won't be any future arrivals. I travelled back to the Academy last night and made sure that the portal is closed now. I apologize for the trouble, M'lord," Terek inclined his head.
"Well, your portal brought the bard to me, so all is forgiven," Baron Ravenstower smiled affectionately at Pia before returning his attention to Terek.
"I believe the young one intends to take the bard with her...probably back to Betancuria," Terek offered. "She told me so herself. I'd keep an eye on her, if I were you."
Baron Ravenstower pounded his fist on his desk, causing the inkwell to spill, "What!? I won't allow that! The bard is going to stay! You will not take her from me. I am ruler here. My word is law."
Shiloh winced, "M'lord, may I speak?"
Baron Ravenstower briefly glanced at Shiloh then nodded his head.
She spoke in her most diplomatic voice, "Why don't we ask Pia what she wants?"
Baron Ravenstower shook his head, "Her singing pleases me. She's going to stay."
"May I stay then, too?" Shiloh asked then curtseyed before him.
He eyed Shiloh thoughtfully, "Hm... you?" The baron rubbed his chin, glancing from Shiloh to Pia, to Terek then back to Pia.
"Pia's a really dear friend of mine. I can't bear the thought of being apart from her," Shiloh replied, pleading with him.
"You're a singer, too," the baron stated, cocking an eyebrow at her curiously.
"No, I'm not, but I'm a very good dancer," Shiloh replied, smiling sweetly.
Terek cleared his throat at that moment, "If I may interject a bit of wisdom, my Liege. We do have a shortage of women these days. I'm sure the men would be happy to have her around. She should be able to keep them satisfied."
Shiloh flashed a glare at Terek, envisioning dropping him into one of Bastian's torture pits.
The Baron smirked, "Very well, Terek. Show me your breasts, girl." His face brightened.
Shiloh rolled her eyes then lifted her low cut shirt, baring her breasts. He gazed upon her with lust filled eyes, "Not bad... not bad at all."
Shiloh flaunted her large breasts, preening prettily before him, "Why, thank you. I'm glad you approve."
He cleared his throat, "You are dismissed, Terek. Your assistance will not be required further." Then his turned his attention back to Shiloh and Pia, "Alright, both of you come with me. I'd like to see just how much you like each other." A smarmy smirk graced his aged features.
Shiloh sighed, following behind him. She glanced over to Pia, who walked beside her. She caught the strained look on the bard's face. Shiloh knew what the baron had in mind for them. It was in that moment that she knew Pia did not relish the thought of being at the mercy of a man in power. Ravenstower led them to a large bedroom suite. He stopped just short of the bed that filled most of the room. "You girls are really pretty," The Baron eyed Pia and Shiloh hungrily.
Fidgeting, Pia cleared her throat. "Shall I sing for you now, M'lord?"
The Baron shook his head, "Not yet, bard. Wait here." He strode over to an armoire, removing a few pieces of leather and lace. "Put these on." He then handed Pia a pair of thigh high boots.
Frowning, Pia eyed them critically, her lips curling, "Black? I don't think black becomes me."
"You'll look fine in them, I'm sure," he replied.
"Well, okay," Pia sighed, slipping off her purple boots.
Baron Ravenstower cleared his throat, "Just the boots, bard. Take the rest off."
Pia gasped in surprise, her brow furrowing, "Oh." Her fidgeting resumed as she eyed the boots again. With a sigh of submission, she removed the pink and purple clothing then eased the boots up her shapely legs.