The Long Road to Ruin Ch. 46byLady_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.
Another day in this carnival of souls/Another night's sands end as quickly as it goes
The memories are shadows, ink on the page/And I can't seem to find my way home
And it's almost like your heaven's trying everything/Your heaven's trying everything to keep me out
Far From Home—Five Finger Death Punch
Paying Her Due (Depths of Depravity)
The better part of a full day passed as Shiloh and Pia hiked down the mountainside. They huddled close, picking their way through the dense trees, the snowdrifts taller than their full heights and random rock piles. As they reached the foothills, the tickle of wood smoke wafted past their noses. It clearly signaled civilization was near at hand. Shiloh was glad for that. Numbness had worked its way through her body, making it difficult to feel her fingers and toes. She fervently prayed she wouldn't lose anything to frostbite.
Stumbling the rest of the way, the two girls came upon a small house. Pia slumped against the wood and stone exterior while Shiloh gave a ginger knock on the door. No answer came, prompting her to knock even harder and louder while adding her voice to shout, "O-open up p-please! We're s-so-oo c-c-cold!"
The door jerked open, causing Shiloh to fall forward. A bleary eyed man caught her then pulled her inside. Pia followed behind, grateful for the heat that seeped into her near frozen flesh.
"Ha-Help us p-pl-please," Shiloh's chattering teeth were clearly audible.
"Where did you girls come from and what in the name of the gods are you doing pounding on my door at this time of night?" The dark haired bearded man growled at them. "Don't you have any damn sense not to be out in weather like this?"
"S-sorry, s-sir," Shiloh shivered. "We're f-from B-Betancuria. We da-don't know h-how we c-came to be here. One m-moment we were at the A-Academy and the n-next there was an fl-flash of light. We found ourselves in a c-cave up in the m-mountains. W-we don-don't even know wh-where we are. C-can you hel-help us, please? I h-have c-coin t-to p-pay."
"You're from Betancuria, seriously? That's over a thousand miles away." He cocked a bushy eyebrow as he stroked his bearded chin.
"P-please, s-sir," Shiloh's eyes went all soft and dewy, pleading with him. "W-we just n-need to w-warm ourselves by y-your fire. Then we'll b-be on our w-way. H-hopefully we'll f-find a w-way to get back home."
The dark haired man eyed both girls speculatively. "You will likely find there is no way for you to reach Betancuria this time of year. The mountain passes have at least ten feet of snow blocking them. You very well may be stuck here until spring, ladies."
"W-we f-found that out, good s-sir," Shiloh hugged herself tightly as her body trembled visibly. "I-is th-there a v-village close, one with an inn, p-perhaps?"
"Ravenstown is about a mile away," he sighed, "Tell ya what, I'll let you rest here for the night. It would surely be a crime to allow two young ladies to freeze out there. Neither of you look like rangers and neither of you look like you have the sense the gods gave a goose not to be out in this kind of weather. You can sleep by the fire. If you're hungry, I have some leftover stew."
Bliss and relief crossed Shiloh's thawing features, "Praise be to Bastian for your kindness, good s-sir." She helped Pia over to the fireplace, quickly helping the bard out of the wet leather armor she wore. She then spread out the furs and blankets, depositing Pia between them. Next came the task of shimmying out of her own armor. She noted her skin had become less blue, regaining its usual pinkness. A surge of heat from within coursed through her, letting her know that Bastian had not abandoned her entirely. "Thank you once again, kind sir. I thought we'd die out there."
He gave a curt nod, allowing his eyes to linger on her naked form. Clearing his throat, he poured water from a porcelain pitcher into a kettle resting upon an iron cook stove. "Your friend just might benefit from some willowbark tea."
"That she might," Shiloh inclined her head gracefully. "I wouldn't mind some myself. Oh, by the way, my name is Shiloh. My companion is Pia."
"You may call me Chriand, young lady." It took a few minutes to steep and cool the tea, but once it was done, Chriand assisted Shiloh in feeding the bard equal parts tea and stew. It wasn't too long before the blonde had regained her pink coloring. She drifted off to sleep within the soft nest of blankets that Shiloh had created for them.
"I suppose I should get some sleep as well," Shiloh yawned after she'd eaten her fill of the savory venison stew. It wasn't as good as Chella's, but the hearty fare had gone a long way to helping her feel at rights again.
Chriand's eyes flicked up and down her naked form, "I'd be willing to forgo any coin for my gracious hospitality if you'd be willing to spend the night in my bed. It's been a long time since something as beautiful as you have graced my presence. What say you?"
A dark scowl crossed her features, "Your gracious hospitality, huh? I let you fuck me and in return you won't throw us out on our asses. Is that's how it's going to be now?" Shiloh took a good look at the man. His weathered face spoke of a life spent within these harsh climes. He wore his coal black hair slicked back against his scalp. Bushy eyebrows framed darker than sin eyes while a handlebar mustache rested above thin pale lips. Though he stood a full head shorter than she, his presence filled the room. An aura of confidence and perhaps something a little darker added to his allure. It wasn't that he was unattractive that held her indecisively, far from it when it came right down to it, but that she didn't like feeling obligated to do something just because he rendered aid.
Shiloh ticked over the pros and cons in her mind, going back and forth between the edicts of Bastian and the desire to not feel beholden to the man before her. It wasn't that she hadn't bartered her body to get wanted before that bothered her. It was his assumption that she would jump gung-ho into it just because he'd allowed them to stay. But what could it hurt? It had been awhile since she'd fucked in Bastian's name. The man before her needn't know her plan until its fruition. She flashed her cat smile at him, extending her hand, "If that's what you want, Chriand dear."
He pushed her roughly onto his bed, discarding his tunic and trousers before he joined her. His mouth slammed down on her, full of fire and fury. She could taste a hint of copper as he bit at her lips. A maddened rush pumped through her as Chriand covered her fully. He pushed her thighs open, driving into her tight channel with a savagery that made her curious when he had had a woman last. He pounded into her ruthlessly. His fingers plucked her nipples, his hands seized her flesh, and she reveled in it, begged shamelessly for more. Abandoning her pink peaks, he located her clit, thrumming it relentlessly before she climaxed, thrusting up to meet his cock as he spurted his hot seed deep within.
He offered nothing of tenderness or thanks as he pulled out of her pussy, drizzling a trail of his seed down her thigh, and pushed her out of his bed. His face was cold, distant, and she knew he had gotten what he wanted from her. He sneered at her, eyeing her while she lay upon the cold floor, panting breathlessly, leaking seed from her slit. So much for spending the night, she scoffed as she crawled over to where Pia slept peacefully.
From within her glamered armor resting on the floor, she pulled Bloodlust and Darksbane. Then she returned to Chriand, concealing the weapons from sight. Pushing her way back onto the bed, she straddled his thighs. "Don't say we're done already," she purred, grinding her wetness against his swelling shaft.
He shoved her aside once more, "We're done, slut. Be lucky I still offer you the warmth of my fire."
Shiloh reached out to Bastian for strength, feeling it flood her senses. Her hands transformed into claws while her skin turned deep ruby red. She slammed Chriand against the wall, raking the razor sharp appendages down his chest, just deep enough to draw blood.
Chriand screamed, "Get back, foul harpy."
Shiloh smeared a claw through his blood, lifting it to her lips to taste it. "You've made a big mistake by taking my desire to fuck and twisting into something ugly for your own enjoyment. The Lord of Lust and Vengeance is very displeased." Lifting Darksbane, she dragged it across the flesh of his pectoral muscles, enjoying the whimpers coming from his mouth, enjoying the delicious taste of fear dripping from his pores. "Now I must find a way to please him. Thus I offer him your soul."
She drew back her hand, slamming Darksbane into his chest, smashing ribs as it penetrated his heart. He let out a strangled gasp before slumping out of her grasp. "Swift death to those who have wronged me," she whispered, delivering onto her most revered Lord the first of many souls she would harvest in Ravenstown.
Shiloh slept for several hours curled tightly around Pia. When she awoke, she quickly donned her armor then quietly hefted Chriand's body out into the snow, burying him in a snowdrift and praying he wouldn't be discovered until spring. Or at least until she and Pia were already gone. Taking in a deep breath, she knew she couldn't tell Pia what she had done. The bard wouldn't understand.
She wandered down the rutted, ice choked road that bypassed the small house. She followed it a good distance until she noted the village palisade in the distance. That must be the Ravenstown. It was good to know that it was close, though she prayed no one would recognize them. It surely wouldn't be good if word of them being in the village reached the ears of Terek. There's was no telling where he'd send them this time.
Upon return to the small house, she disposed of the leftover stew, cleaned the stewpot and began chopping meat, potatoes, onions and carrots that she discovered in his larder. Once she was finished, she browned the meat in a cast iron skillet on his pot bellied cook stove, rolling it in a flour/broth mixture to create some semblance of gravy before adding it the iron kettle. She left it to cook while she straightened Chriand's bed, removing all evidence that a man had perished there.
By the time the stew was ready she had steeped and cooled more willowbark tea for Pia. Now came the task of waking the slumbering bard. Though Shiloh loathed the thought of disturbing her, she knew she would need food to keep her strength up. After all, the task of finding a way to release the dragon from its imprisonment loomed ahead of them. That in itself would be no easy task. Someway, somehow there had to be a way. Shiloh was determined to find it.
Insinuating herself under the blankets, she snuggled next to Pia, tracing her fingers over Pia's rosy skin. With whispery butterfly caresses, she coaxed the bard awake. Pia's eyes fluttered open as a soft sigh slipped forth from parted lips. "Shiloh," she cried. "Don't stop!"
Shiloh dipped her fingers between Pia's wet folds, thrumming a rhythm on Pia's sensitive nubbin. Her lips ghosted over Pia's peaks, licking and nibbling tenderly. Shiloh raised above Pia, lips locking hard with Pia's as Pia cupped either side of the Shiloh's face leaning into the kiss. Pia moaned and arched into the touch she'd craved, from the one who'd filled her dreams. She could hardly catch her breath from the sensations thrilling her at every turn, the smooth silky caress of Shiloh's skin against hers, the heat of their bodies, the soft, silky hands roaming her, caressing, teasing, satisfying her hunger, drawing her deeper into her web. The blonde bard's moans were enticingly erotic, calling out to the part of Shiloh that welcomed her Lord's edict of lust. Flipping back the furs and blankets, Shiloh coaxed Pia's legs apart, sliding them upward, exposing her to the cool air. Dipping close, Shiloh licked her lips again, inhaling, reveling in Pia's delicate, delicious scent. With desperate aggression, Shiloh's fingers formed a taut spear trailing through a scant nest of blond hair nestling the bard's most sensitive spot.
Pia cried out, meeting Shiloh's thrust blissfully. Pia's hips rolled wantonly, giving way to the onslaught of sensation of her lover's touch, despite its roughness. Something was eating at Shiloh. That much Pia knew. The princess had never been this aggressive with her.
Shiloh worked her taut hand in and out, thrusting harder, deeper, faster, lost in the sensation of pleasuring Pia and the wonder of the woman writhing beneath her touch, begging her for more, clutching at her, clinging to her, crying out her name. Pia trembled uncontrollably as her pleasure built higher and higher, soon, too soon, she knew, she would reach her peak.
Pia exploded around the thrusting fingers as Shiloh rubbed her thumb over the bard's clit. Shiloh's eyes fluttered shut, savoring the moment, when she felt Pia's wet walls tighten around her fingers. The bard's hips jerked, moving in time with Shiloh ministrations. Pulling Shiloh close, Pia kissed her passionately, lips and teeth biting hungrily. Pushing Shiloh flat, Pia felt her shudder when she plunged her own fingers deep into Shiloh's channel and curled them, seeking a certain spot. One thrust, two, three... they came together, shuddering and writhing while they swallowed each other's screams of bliss. Pia nuzzled Shiloh, smiling happily, blue eyes sparkling, "What a wonderful way to start the day," she whispered, sealing Shiloh's lips with a lingering tender kiss.
"There's more where that came from, my sweet, but beforehand, we should get you up for something to eat and have a cup of soothing tea. Then we can be on our way to the village."
Pia glanced around the small single room house, "Where's the man who lives here?"
"His name's Chriand. He said he'd be back later. I take it he's some kind of ranger," Shiloh shrugged. "He offered us hospitality as long as we'd need it, but I'd rather not overstay our welcome. He's a decent cook, though. I guess when you live alone, that's one of the skills you develop."
Pia reached for the red and gold armor Shiloh had loaned her, making haste to slip into it. "We should see if we can buy some heavier cloaks while we're in the village, and boots meant for snow."
"Definitely," Shiloh dished up two bowls of the stew then poured two cups of tea, setting the filled plates on the table. She joined Pia, digging into the hearty fare.
"Wow, this tastes like Chella's," Pia commented. "I can't wait 'til we've made it back home. The first thing I'm going to do is go to the Bear Pit for some of Chella's delicious cooking. I've been so busy that I've missed it. What are your plans once you get back to Betancuria?"
"Take a few days off, for starters." Shiloh quipped, "Then I'll see what Alfons has going in the way of jobs. As much as I love being away from Betancuria, I'll be glad when I'm safe and warm within my apartment."
She rubbed her face, skimming her fingers across her forehead, "Makes me curious if Rhys's returned yet. I need to have a very long talk with him, settle things for the future. We've split, but there are things left unsaid."
"Do you still have feelings for him?" Pia scrunched her face curiously.
Shiloh sighed deeply, "Not romantic feelings, per se. I care for him. He's a wonderful person, but he's just too... He deserves better than me. We both know it." Shiloh toyed with the thick chucks of veggies in the bowl sitting before her. "Sometimes when I think about my future, I can honestly say I'm looking for someone who loves me for me, who respects me for who I am and won't seek to change me. I want someone I can lean on when need be. And I just don't think that exists. I've come to the realization that I have to reclaim the Betancurian throne. I need someone who can help me achieve that."
"That's a worthy goal, Shiloh. You should reclaim it. Betancuria belongs to you, your family. It's your legacy and I know we'll all rest easier knowing you're the reigning monarch," Pia smiled, beaming at Shiloh luminously. "Any chance you'll be needing a court bard?"
"Most definitely, my sweet," Shiloh giggled. "I don't think I could do it without you." Her expression turned serious, "Of course I'll have to make the right alliances. I'll need a King. If only I had the opportunity to go before Emperor Dhorn and state my case. I'd rule under his banner, if only we could come to an agreement considering Betancuria. I'd be able to govern The Family as well. I'd work in conjunction with Nathan. I think it could work. I truly think it would bring peace to Betancuria as well."
"I wouldn't be so trusting of the Emperor, but you may be right in terms of bringing peace if you're ruling. I can't say I know anything about politics. I mean, I grew up on a farm, but I think if anyone could pull it off, it would be you."
"Ravenstower is beyond the northern Dhorn border, isn't it?" Shiloh tapped a finger against her chin. "Too bad we can't just go directly to the Emperor from here, but no, I'd be jailed and executed immediately without hesitation. I must find another way in." She chewed thoughtfully for a few moments, finishing off her bowl of stew.
"If you'd be jailed and executed on the spot, I'm sure my fate won't be any kinder so maybe we should consider not going anywhere near Dhorn," Pia chimed in as she left her seat, picking up the two bowls, and carried them to the dry sink. She pumped a bit of water then cleaned the dishes within. She rested them on the sideboard before refilling their cups full of tea. "There, at least we've been thoughtful guests."
Shiloh nearly choked on the tea as she thought of Chriand buried in a snowdrift. "Yes, very thoughtful we are," she quipped with a sardonic smile on her lips. "Let's just get our stuff together and get out of here. We should head to Ravenstown and see what it has to offer to help our endeavor of getting that dragon out of the cave. Or maybe we'll meet some rangers who might know an easy way through the mountain passes, if that's even possible."
"But it would take us months to reach Betancuria on foot. We'd most likely have to travel through Dhorn to get there."
"That is true. It's an option if we can't free the dragon, though. It's either that or stay here until spring, which I'm not too keen on doing. I'd get so bored in this backwater hellhole," Shiloh grimaced as she gathered the furs and blankets, stowing them in her portable hole. Then she made her way back into Chriand's larder, plucking dried fruit from a bin. She stowed the stolen morsels into a pouch. "Are we ready?"
Pia sighed, "Shouldn't we leave a note behind?"
Shiloh frowned, "No! Why? I told him we were going to head into the village. And I already thanked him, so don't worry about it, Pia."
Pia pursed his lips, sensing something amiss in Shiloh's behavior. She studied her thoughtfully before nodding. She couldn't put her finger on it, but something wasn't right. She let it go, following Shiloh out of the small house. They swiftly made their way along the road, reaching the village palisade in record time.
The gate guard stopped them, eyeing the two girls suspiciously. "State your business, wenches."
Shiloh glowered at him, "My name is Shiloh Aurelius, heir to the Betancurian throne. We seek an audience with Baron Ravenstower."