tagSci-Fi & FantasyFeldare Tales: High Society Ch. 05

Feldare Tales: High Society Ch. 05


" " ‘ ' Crissa sat on the bed she normally shared with Wenn and watched the younger Peris disrobe. "You seemed to manage very well, considering your lack of experience," she said.

A rather keen smile came to Peris' lips. "It was easier to do than I thought it would be," she said. "That they were strangers seemed to actually help. I cared little what they might think of me later."

The young sorceress gave her a slow nod. "I find it so, myself," she said.

"I was amazed at how - well - how feral you became," said Peris, sitting beside Crissa, on Wenn's side of the bed. "Is being taken by a man truly so pleasurable?"

"Yes," said Crissa, "at least it is to me."

"I envy you, then," said the younger girl, her eyes looking down at her legs and her palms, resting on her thighs. "I would experience such if I could."

Crissa snuffed out the candle that lit the room dimly and slithered into the coverlets of the bed. "Your station has many benefits, but comes at a price," she said.

Peris nuzzled into the blankets as well, the room already slightly chilled with the fall night cooling fast. "I doubt that it's worth so much," she said into the darkened chamber. Her voice conveyed a deep sadness that seemed to go far beyond a simple desire for pleasure.

The sorceress reached out a mind and touched Peris'. There lay a frightened and tearful child, or so it felt. She slid over a bit and reached out, pulling Peris, unresisting, to her, and held the girl to herself. Peris' mind did not fall to lustful thought, but took comfort in the touch and the two drifted into slumber.

- - - - - - - - - -

Master Marrat was in the kitchen the following morning as Crissa came down to perform her daily chores. "Good morrow," he said as she entered the kitchen.

"Master Marrat?" she said, blinking. "I thought you were sequestering yourself in the library."

He chuckled. "A man must eat," he said, showing her a bowl of lumpy oatmeal.

"You should have awakened me to make a proper breakfast," she complained, dragging out the pan and other cookware to begin a ‘real' breakfast, as she called it.

Marrat's face turned down, and his expression fell. "I thought you might refuse," he said. She saw, for the first time, a sign of how much this bothered him, and how much he cared for what she thought of him.

She clucked at him. "I would never, master," she said. "This is still your home, and I am still your apprentice."

He smiled, a soft smile, which warmed her heart with the implied gratitude in it. "You're kind to an old man," he said.

Crissa deposited a brief kiss onto his bald pate and took the abominable oatmeal from his hands. Peris walked in, still stretching, wearing one of Wenn's tunics, and, apparently, little else.

When she beheld Marrat sitting at the table, she blushed and turned to flee back up the stairs. "Stay, Peris," said Crissa, brandishing a spatula at her. "Master Marrat has seen more women in a state of more undress than you, girl."

Marrat chuckled. "That's true, but don't embarrass the lass," he said.

Peris' eyes set in a somewhat determined look. "I'm not embarrassed," she said, despite the blush rising in her cheeks, and sat at the table. "Do you need help?" she asked Crissa.

Crissa shook her head. "Offer again afterward, when the dishes need scrubbing," she said, smiling over her shoulder.

"You two were out late last night," said Marrat. "I trust you used the evening to your profit?"

"Of course," said Crissa. "We seduced some men and frolicked until the wee hours."

Peris' blush deepened to crimson and she averted her eyes from the old, alert eyes of the wizard.

"Master Marrat," started Crissa, "why did you send for a barrister from so far away as Morrovale?"

"Time," he replied. "I wanted to give you as much time as possible before he would arrive, and the trial must start within two days of that day."

She blinked at him. "You did it to give me more time?" she asked.

"Yes," he said. "Well, that, and the fact that I thought you would want the best."

Crissa nodded slowly and stirred the simmering eggs in the pan idly. The smell of cooking food filled the kitchen and Peris' belly emitted a deep, rolling rumble.

"Just you hold on," said Crissa, teasing the girl.

The meal went smoothly, and both Crissa and Marrat avoided the topic of the trial as they ate. Soon, though, Marrat took leave for himself and hobbled back to the library. Crissa and Peris were left to clean up the remains of breakfast.

"What shall we do this day?" asked Peris, up to her elbows in the washbasin.

Crissa dried a plate and sat it on its shelf. "We try to visit Kenett," she said.

"They aren't going to just let us into the asylum," said Peris, giving her a somewhat condescending look.

Crissa's look in return was almost utterly devoid of emotion. "I would think, after last night, you know locked places are no obstacle to pretty women." Then her face burst into a florid smile.

"Again?" asked Peris, a shocked expression on her face. "You're determined to break my resolve, aren't you?"

The sorceress thought for a long moment. "Yes," she said.

"Then why not just use your powers?" asked Peris, still not displeased by the conversation, despite the purported importance of her virginity.

Crissa leaned over and kissed the younger girl's brow. "It is more pleasurable to convince you to break your own will," she said. "I wish to hear no excuses that I toyed with your mind to turn you into a wanton harlot like myself."

The sorceress was forced to step back a pace as another wave of lust flew forth from Peris and over her, and about her. "You must really stop that," said Crissa, sighing and picking up another plate. "It's rather overwhelming."

Peris grinned wickedly at her. "If you can play at things, why can I not?" she asked, and the lustful feelings ended as if a door were slammed shut against a strong wind.

Crissa blinked at her. "You can ignite your lust and snuff it like so?" she asked, snapping her fingers.

"Sure," agreed Peris, turning from the sudsy water. "Can you not?" she asked.

"No," replied the sorceress, eyeing the shorter girl dubiously. Peris now wore an enigmatic smile on her full lips, and she cast sidelong glances at Crissa. "I see not only I can toy with other folks' minds."

- - - - - - - - - -

Wenn sat in his cell, alone. A single candle lit it, replaced from time to time after one would go out. The room felt worse than it seemed. It was just a dry, square room, three paces to a side. However, it felt like a closet to him. He could feel the malevolence to magic that the whole room held. This was a wizard's oubliette, and he could not magic his way out of it.

Two guards opened the door and one stood to the side, holding the wizardsbane in white knuckles while the other sat a wooden tray of food down on the little table. "I was told to pass you word that your barrister arrives in two days," he said, giving Wenn a hateful look.

Wenn, still sitting on the bed, looked at him. "A warded room, and a wizardsbane in hand, and yet you still hate me?" he asked. "What did I do to you?"

The guard stood up and puffed out his chest. "You're a man who was given everything by life," said the guard. "Yet, it was not enough to have powers other men don't, you had to use them toward dark ends."

Wenn blinked at the guard and stood. "I've never used my powers toward an end darker than pleasuring a girl."

The guard with the wizardsbane chuckled. "Damn cruel thing to do to the rest of us, isn't it?" he said. "Those lasses will be hard pressed to enjoy a normal man's touch when a wizard's had his way with her."

Wenn shook his head. "Believe me or no," he said, "I didn't kill that whelp, though it was probably a boon to mankind that he's dead."

"Talk like that won't help your case any, son," said the wizardsbane wielder. "You should be a bit more circumspect with that tongue. Stick to pleasuring women with it and leave judgement to those qualified to do so."

"How will I be judged?" asked Wenn.

"As a wizard," the tray-bearer said, making it sound almost like an insult, "you're entitled to a peerage trial. Only the One knows why."

"Peerage trial?" asked Wenn. "As in noblemen will stand in my jury?"

"Aye, son," replied the guard, "and it's a damn shame, they rather resent when one of their own gets done in."

Wenn's mood fell further, which said much. He sat heavily on the bed. "Damn," he muttered.

The guard who had brought the food said. "Don't you fret none, I'm sure whatever they choose it'll be quick." He walked out, chuckling and tapping the one carrying the wizardsbane on the shoulder, which turned and followed him out, as well. They slammed the door shut behind them and Wenn listened to their voices retreating down the hall.

Wenn sighed. He had tried now a dozen times to perform some magic, any magic, and so far, it all failed to even begin to form. The room seemed to taunt his very attempts.

- - - - - - - - - -

Peris tied the short elven skirt about her waist. "You own many fine clothes, Crissa," she observed peering past the golden-haired sorceress. "I thought apprentices were unpaid."

Crissa giggled at her. "I do odd jobs about the town for money," she replied. "When people need a bull to mount, or a cow to remain docile, or a prize stud horse needs coaxing to do his business."

The young noblewoman laughed too. "A useful ability, then, no?" she asked.

"Very," said Crissa. "I once used it on an older couple who wished a night of fiery passion, they paid handsomely for the pleasure it gave them."

Peris was giving her an odd look. "You can have any man you desire, can't you?" she asked.

"Yes," said Crissa, though she did not seem to be bragging, "or woman. Or make any man love any woman or whatever combination you can dream of." She turned toward the younger girl. "No, I've never given a human a lust for an animal, either, though I warrant I could."

Peris clapped her mouth shut, leaving her next question unasked.

Night had once again settled on Norboro and the lamplighters were going about their trade. A thin fog was settling upon the town, and seemed to be thickening as the river that bisected Norboro fed more moisture to the mixture. By the time the young women left the house of Marrat, the streetlights were merely glowing disks of lit fog with a bright pinpoint of light in the center that reached only a few feet into the thick, swirling mists.

"I hate fog," said Peris as she clutched her thin cloak about her slender shoulders.

Crissa sniffed the air. "I like the smells it brings," she said.

Peris looked at the taller girl. "It smells of the river," she said.

"Yes," said Crissa, "a natural scent. Not cooking, not smoke, not dung, but a smell of the world."

They walked in silence for a while as they crossed to the northernmost part of the city. Long ago, a wealthy merchant, whose son was undeniably insane, had built the asylum. It was run now, by the city itself, and supported with taxed moneys.

The building itself was threatening, a tall, narrow structure, it resembled a fortress more than a place of healing. Tiny slits of windows, ostensibly to keep the inmates in the building than to provide cover from outside. Crissa noted the similarities between this and the guard building from the night previous.

The brown stones of the building did little to make it seem less somber and sinister. Time and dark mosses had aged it, turning it nearly black over the years since it was built.

Around the building was a high fence of stone, with pointed spears atop it. This wall was built of the same, dark stone and seemed to be intent upon keeping out unwanted eyes.

Crissa and Peris neared the building and Crissa reached out with her mind, feeling the place. She recoiled, stopping her steady pace and gasping. "What a horrible place that is," she said in a quiet voice. "People are in there who deserve freedom."

"I have heard some are kept thus," said Peris. "A friend of my family was put in such a place. It served as prison without a trial to show guilt in some deed."

The sorceress nodded. "Kenett doesn't need to be here," she said. "He's not unwell, he's terrified, I feel him." Her eyes looked distant, unfocused.

The wrought iron gate was unmanned, it's metal bars seemed hostile and subtly twisted as they emerged from the fog. "How do we seduce our way past this?" asked Peris.

Crissa produced a short rod of wood. Runes were carven down its length, spiraling up the wood, then inset with silver traceries. It was, perhaps, the length of her forearm and an inch wide, smooth and polished, with a silver-capped tip. She touched it to the large, heavy locking plate of the gate, where the key would go.

There was an audible snap as the lock mechanism shattered and bits of metal clinked onto the cobbles below it. The rod disappeared into Crissa's cloak as suddenly as it had appeared.

"I thought we weren't to use magics?" asked Peris, eyeing the destroyed lock.

Crissa shrugged. "They will never know it was magic," she said. "They will simply know the lock was broken." She pushed on the gate. It opened with a screech, wide enough for the two young women to enter. It squealed out into the dense fog as Crissa closed it.

"Handy little wand, that," said Peris.

"It's Wenn's," said Crissa. "It is the first magic item he crafted after Marrat taught him enchantment."

They were nearing the large, towering building. Again, they came to a locked door. Crissa had seen that the staff left at night, leaving the inmates to their own devices, usually chained in their cells, though some of the calmer ones were simply locked in their chambers.

The wand appeared again and the lock on the side door broke into dozens of ruined parts. Better maintained than the gate, the door opened without comment and the two girls slipped into the darkened room beyond.

Crissa spoke a word in a foreign tongue, and the wand began to glow with a pale blue light, dimly illuminating the little storage room in which they found themselves.

They crossed the cluttered room, stacked high with barrels and boxes, food and drink for the pitiable creatures housed in the asylum. The inner door was unsecured and opened into a corridor. Narrow, punitive doors lined the opposite wall of the long hallway, and both girls jumped when a pained scream emerged from the doorway opposite the storage room's wider doorway.

An eye glared out of the cell at them from the doorway, behind a heavy oaken door that rattled as whoever was inside tried to pull it open. "Pretty girls," a guttural voice said from behind that door, "Eat them, yes," he added, to their discomfort. "Till they're gone, gone, gone!" he squealed. The eye widened to almost a circle.

"He is on the third floor," said Crissa, nodding toward a staircase next to the storage room they just left.

Peris watched the doorway cautiously as they passed into the hall and started moving down it. They passed another door, this one unlocked and open. A young man sat in the room, a candle flickering on a desk in the corner. He turned to regard the two young women.

Something was odd about his motions, but Peris couldn't tell just what. She stood in the doorway, almost frozen, as the young man turned. He had a beautiful, innocent face. On the desk rested a journal, from what she could tell. He laid down a quill, setting it onto the ink-stained desk.

"Hello," he said quietly, and softly.

Peris' heart was thudding in her chest. "H. Hello," she finally replied as Crissa slid up beside her.

His face instantly turned to an expression of hate and disgust. "Witch!" he screamed, his chair falling over as he lunged toward the doorway with animal ferocity. As he came at the door, his fingers curled into claws and his teeth were bared, as if they were fangs.

There was a collar about his neck. When the chain joining that collar to the wall went taut his body flew out from under him, his feet barely leaving the room as he fell to the floor with a whomp. He quickly clambered to his feet, pulling on the chain like a rabid guard dog.

"They told me you would come, witch, and that you would kill me in my sleep," he screamed out. "Well, I'm too smart for you, bitch. I didn't sleep, haven't slept in weeks." He let out a high, tittering laugh as he pulled on the chain steadily. Trickles of blood flowed from around the metal collar where the edge of the ring bit into the soft flesh of his throat.

Their backs hugging the wall, the two girls sidestepped down the hall, trying very hard to stay out of the young man's reach. "I'll kill you witch, just you'll see!"

There were answering cries from up and down the corridor, mad ululations from both directions, randomly spoken words, and flung curses.

Crissa started up the stairs, and Peris peered back toward the open door, and could still see the young, handsome man peering around the corner of the doorway with intense, feral eyes. "Kill the witch," he whispered, "she deceives." Peris then turned and followed up the stairs. The words he spoke at the last were different from other words. They seemed cast of rubber, for they bounced about her skull, full of random echoes and odd reverberations.

The stairs carried them all the way to the third floor, the topmost floor. They passed the second floor without emerging from the stairwell and drew no attention to themselves as they moved upward. They could still hear the young man, two storeys down, screaming about the witch, his chains rattling.

"What do you suppose that was?" asked Peris.

Crissa looked at her with sad eyes. "One like me, a gifted person," she said. "But one whom the gift did not give the strength to fight it's fires. He could see me, and my gift, but as his damaged him, he assumes that it damages my mind."

Peris left her thoughts at that unspoken. However, Crissa's inability to be monogamous, and willingness to give her body to men at whim crossed into her mind. She wondered if the gifts had not marked Crissa more deeply than she knew.

They moved down the corridor in near silence, trying to not make any more noise than they must. "I can feel Kenett," whispered Crissa, "he is near."

Peris moved across the hall and approached the stained door opposite them. She had to step on her tiptoes to peer through the little window in the door. It was darkened in the room, without even a window to let in outside light.

Crissa's hand shot out and grabbed her upper arm, yanking her violently away from the door just before something slammed into it and two fingers shot out of the little window, long nails, grimy with filth, clawed at the air where her eye had just been. "Come back, little girl," a woman's voice called. "You have such pretty eyes, let me have them."

There was a look of horrified revulsion on Crissa's face as she pulled Peris down the hall toward the next door. "I felt her anger and desire just before she lunged at you," she said. "They rest quiet until something wakens their insanity, then it explodes." She shook her head, her long, golden hair glinting in the blue-white light. "It hurts my head to feel it do that."

"Lets hope that Kenett isn't like that, then," said Peris, still eyeing the digits clawing through the door's window.

Crissa nodded in agreement. They moved down a few more doors quietly, and then Crissa said, "Here."

They both eyed the door and the long steel bolt holding it shut. Crissa, taller than Peris, crossed the hall and said, into the little window, "Kenett?"

There was silence for a moment, then a small voice on the other side. "Yes?" he asked.

Crissa heard the rattling of chains beyond the door and decided he was shackled in the room. She slid back the bolt with a dull rasp and pulled the door open. The light from her rod illuminated a wedge into the room. Sitting against the far wall of the chamber, only six feet across was a huddled shape, cringing from the light.

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