Sarlene's Touch Ch. 25byFuinimel©
Yellowish eyes looked out at her from behind the little shutter in the door. "I not know you," said a deep voice accusingly, "why you here?"
Elandra had already composed herself; she knew that the woman she had come to see had a half-orc assistant and bodyguard. She was no aristocrat, but still, half-orcs were not a race that she had had many dealings with before. This one, just from the sound of his gravely voice and crude grammar, seemed to fit the stereotype. Which made it easier to deal with him, in a way, so long as she didn't show fear or disgust at his appearance. After all, his employer surely needed new customers every now and then.
"We are here to see Nyvara," she said, keeping her voice steady, "we want to buy something."
"We?" asked the half-orc, his eyes glancing about.
He could probably see far better than her in the dark of the night, but from his vantage point behind the door, her body was blocking his view of Tinberly.
"My daughter is here with me," she said, reluctantly taking a half step to the side, so that he could see. Surely they looked harmless enough?
The half-orc grunted, "you wait here. I be back soon."
The little shutter closed, leaving the two of them outside in the darkened alley. Elandra pulled her shawl more tightly around herself, although it was more the lateness of the hour and the unfamiliarity of the streets that was getting to her than any feeling of cold, for, if anything, it was quite a warm night.
"There won't be a problem," she told Tinberly, with slightly more confidence than she felt. The teenager nodded, wide eyes looking up and down the empty alley, arms gripped around her sides.
Before long, the door opened, and the half-orc beckoned them inside. Gratefully, they both stepped within, into a room as dark as the alley itself. Elandra could only make out the outline of the half-orc in the gloom. He was a big man, almost a foot taller than she, with large brawny arms and a powerful build. She couldn't see his face clearly, but even if it was not as fearsome as she expected, he would still look quite threatening.
"You go down," he said, pulling aside a curtain at the far side of the room.
It led to a stairway heading down, she supposed, to a cellar. "Thank you," she said, seeing no reason not to be polite. The half-orc grunted again, sounding pleasantly surprised. Perhaps most strangers didn't bother talking to him at all.
There was another curtain at the end of the stairway, and then she was through into the sorceress's den. She glanced around at the occult symbols on the walls, the hanging lanterns and the range of odd-looking items on the bench in front of her. But her eyes were drawn mainly to the woman who sat behind it, in a high-backed chair.
She certainly looked the part, clothed in a tight black dress with a plunging neckline and a silver pentagram on her belt. Her skin was almost unnaturally pale, contrasting with long, jet black hair and dark eyes that were obviously appraising the pair of them carefully. Elandra was very aware of the fact that the half-orc was just a short distance away, and that Nyvara herself was said to be an accomplished magician.
"Please sit," said the sorceress, her voice silky smooth, "and tell me what it is that you desire."
Once again doing her best to hide her nervousness, Elandra sat on the little stool in front of the bench. She almost immediately regretted it, realising that there was not another chair for Tinberly to sit at, forcing the girl to remain standing. It was too late now, and she should just press on, getting this over with as quickly as possible.
"My husband died three years ago," she began, "and it has been hard for us since. I no longer have any family, except for my daughter. I have little else to call my own,"
Nyvara's eyes moved between the pair of them, her expression at first neutral, but then seeming to be interested as she continued with her story, of how it was difficult to make a living alone in the poorer parts of the city. Yet, Elandra felt, she did not seem at all sympathetic; instead it was if she saw some opportunity for herself here, some way to turn their misfortune to her own advantage.
The rumours did not say that Nyvara was cruel, but neither had they anything to say about her being compassionate. She sold magical items to those who needed to maintain secrecy, or where such items were not entirely legal, or moral. Such a way of life, Elandra saw, had evidently inured the sorceress to the suffering of others, leaving a mercenary soul concerned only for her own profit. That would surely make things difficult when it came to negotiating a price, but, then again, perhaps any sale would be better for the woman than none at all.
"My daughter turned eighteen a couple of months ago," she went on, "she is barely more than a girl. But my landlord... he has threatened her, to get to me. I can't allow that. You must understand, as a woman, that it is a mother's first obligation to protect her child."
Nyvara said nothing, although Elandra thought saw the ghost of a smile on those pale lips. It was like being watched by a reptile, the woman was so cold-blooded.
"So," she ploughed on, "I need protection for her. A charm of some kind, something to protect her from harm. You do such things, do you not?"
The sorceress leaned back in her chair, and her lips twitched, a clearer smile this time. "Yes," she said, "the most effective, within your price range, would be something that warned of an impending threat. That I can do."
She reached across the bench, lifting up a box, and placing it between the two of them. Her delicate fingers slid open some sort of complicated catch, and she darted a hand inside, not allowing Elandra to see any of the contents. She removed a coppery medallion, decorated with a symbol resembling an eye, and with some sort of engraving around the rim. It was held on a long green cord, evidently intended to be worn around the neck.
"This," she said, closing the box carefully, "will suit your needs perfectly. Wear it, and you will be warned of any approaching danger, in ample time for you to leave. It warms up, and gives the wearer a distinct prickling sensation that is impossible to miss so long as one wears it close to the skin. It will not protect against an attacker, but it will allow one the time to escape. You must simply move quickly in a direction that causes the sensation from the medallion to become weaker, until it vanishes altogether."
Elandra nodded. She could hardly have expected a magical barrier or something that would throw back hostile magic at an attacker, not for the money she would be able to pay, but this should be enough. Enough to keep Tinberly safe until she could find another solution to their predicament.
"Yes," she said, "I will take it."
Nyvara named the price, and Elandra once again felt the bottom falling out of her world. She was behind with her rent, which was a large part of the problem in the first place, how could the sorceress possibly expect her to pay such a sum?
"That is... I..."
Nyvara named another price, lower than the first, but still beyond her grasp.
"I could manage half that..." Nyvara frowned, black eyebrows drawn together in a way that looked almost menacing. "Uh... perhaps I could pay the rest by instalments?"
"That is my lowest price, and there will be no instalments." The sorceress flipped the medallion up into her hand, visibly moving it further away from Elandra, yet still keeping it visible. "Do you want it or not?"
Elandra looked across to her daughter. The teenager was standing there, silent throughout the conversation, looking embarrassed and a little nervous. She was such a beautiful young girl, and the only thing of value her mother truly had. She needed the protection, yet the price was simply one she could not pay.
"Please..." she said, turning back to the sorceress, resigned now to beg for what she needed, "I can't allow her to come to harm. There must be something I can do, something we can work out. I'll do anything to protect my family."
This time the sorceress was silent, saying nothing for a while, before raising one finger to her lips, and tapping them gently. "Perhaps," she said, "there is something. Payment need not be in cash, after all." She put her hand down, and smiled a smile that did not reach her eyes. "But this is something we will need to discuss alone. Your daughter will be safe in the anteroom."
Elandra swallowed, finding it impossible now to hide her nervousness and unease at how things were developing. But she had no real choice, no other way in which to go. Whatever it was that Nyvara wanted to her to do, she had no doubt it would be unpleasant or illegal. It was also true that she did not want Tinberly to hear the details, whatever they were, so she had little alternative to letting her leave while they discussed things.
She turned back to her daughter, trying to look reassuring. "It's okay, it will just be for a moment. We need to do this."
"But, mother..." Tinberly spoke for the first time, a look of concern on her young face.
"It will be all right. Please, just for a little while."
As they spoke, Nyvara rang a little bell that had been hidden among the clutter on the bench top. Heavy footsteps came down the stairs, and the half-orc pushed the lower curtain aside, and stood, waiting for instructions.
It was the first time that Elandra had been able to get a good look at him. He was, as she had already observed, well over six feet tall, with a powerful physique that threatened to burst out of his clothing. His skin was greyish-green in colour, his hair dark and close-cropped. Even had it not been for the hue of his skin and his yellowish eyes, there would have been no mistaking him for a pureblood human. His brows were beetling, heavy ridge-like protuberances, and his face and nose were flattened, with wide cheek bones and a slightly protruding lower jaw. Two blunt tusks jutted out from that jaw, pressed against his greyish upper lips.
She barely managed to suppress her shudder, but manage she did. Which was as well; she did not want to look weak.
"Look after my younger guest in the anteroom for a few minutes will you, Rolgor?" asked Nyvara. "We will not be long. I will ring for you again once our negotiations are concluded."
The half-orc -- Rolgor -- nodded, and beckoned for Tinberly to precede him upstairs. With a last worried glance at her mother, and an obvious show of reluctance, she did so, and soon the curtain swished shut again.
"Now," said Nyvara, still business like, "let us discuss how you can help me. You see, in addition to medallions," she twirled it in her fingers, making it catch the light, "and so forth, I also make potions. Sometimes those have ingredients that can be difficult to acquire. Should you provide me with a certain ingredient, then I could see myself clear to reducing the price to, shall we say, half of my latest offer?"
That Elandra could certainly afford, and she felt a burst of relief, before realising that whatever the ingredient was, there had to be some sort of catch to acquiring it.
"Elandra, " said Nyvara, her voice silky, "you are about forty years old, are you not?" The woman nodded dumbly, before realising that she hadn't given the sorceress her name. "Good, that should be acceptable for the potion that I need."
"It is," she continued, gaze steadily on the increasingly worried woman in front of her, "one of the more common potions that I find requested of me. A love potion -- I am sure you see why there would be a market for such. And one of the ingredients for this particular love potion can only be obtained from the body of a woman."
"You want..." Elandra tried to deduce the other woman's meaning, "you want some of my blood?"
Nyvara's lips twitched again, a merciless smile, "nothing so harmful, I assure you. No, I refer to your sexual juices, freshly gathered."
The shock must have been evident on her face, yet Nyvara showed no reaction. "I have to...?" she managed eventually, "To what? I don't understand."
"I want a sample of your sexual juices, Elandra, obtained during the act of intercourse with a man. You can see why I didn't think your daughter should hear this. I am not, after all, heartless to your difficulties."
She didn't sound like she really meant that last part, but it didn't matter. How was she supposed to do what was being asked of her? "But... but..." she began.
"Let me absolutely blunt," said Nyvara, her voice still calm and level, as if discussing the purchase of a roll of bread, "I want you, now, this evening, in a private room just upstairs, to have sex with Rolgor. He knows how to collect the fluids, so you need do nothing else. Do this for me, and you can have the medallion," she held it out, temptingly close to the other woman, "and your daughter will be safe. She need know nothing about it; we will say you have gone to collect something. And you only need do it once. What do you say?" She twirled the medallion, making it catch the lamp light again.
Elandra shuddered, stifling back a sob, and clutched her hands convulsively in the fabric of her dress. She gazed down at the floor, unable to meet the sorceress's gaze any longer. She had only ever made love to her husband before, and while he had been dead for some years, so that it was not technically a betrayal, how could she do something like this? How could another woman ask it of her? She should never have come here.
And yet, what if this was the only way to protect Tinberly? Her sweet and only child could fall prey to something just as terrible, if she did not do this. Just this once. Elandra shivered again, and dabbed at her eyes with the hem of her shawl, before raising her head to stare Nyvara directly in the face.
"Yes," she said.
"Good," replied the raven-haired sorceress, her smile for the first time looking genuine.
She rang the bell again, and Rolgor returned downstairs, with Tinberly in tow. Nyvara stepped out from behind her bench of paraphernalia, long black skirts swishing, and went up to the half-orc, standing on tip-toe to whisper something into his ear. Rolgor grinned widely, a flash of large teeth, his tusks more visible than ever, and his yellowish eyes wandered over her body,
Elandra stood, trying to collect herself. "I have to go somewhere, darling," she said, amazed at how steady her voice sounded, "I won't be gone long, so don't worry. I'll be back in no time. I'm doing this for you."
Tinberly nodded, frowning. She could tell that something was amiss, but surely could have no idea what it was. Thank the gods for that, at least.
Rolgor walked across the room, lifting a tapestry on the far side that was decorated with occult and astrological symbols. A narrow corridor stretched beyond, and taking her cue, with one last look at her daughter, Elandra stepped within.
"Stairs on your right," said Rolgor's deep voice behind her, as he dropped the curtain again, plunging the subterranean corridor back into darkness.
With a little difficulty, she found them, walking up them slowly, partly from nervousness, and partly because she couldn't really see where she was going. She almost stumbled at the top, and Rolgor's hand reached out to steady her, touching her waist through the thick fabric of her dress. He was surprisingly gentle, waiting for her to regain her balance before withdrawing his hand again wordlessly. But still, it felt odd.
"Here," he said again, and stepped in front of her to open a door in the side of whatever new corridor they had entered.
It was barely lighter up here, the windows evidently shuttered, but a moment later, he had found a lantern, and lit it. The darkness would be no refuge, then.
Rolgor stepped over to a cupboard, fiddling inside for some small package, and she took the opportunity to look around the room. It wasn't much, a bare place with a large bed for his heavy frame, a couple of trunks, a bedside table, and, as she had suspected, a single shuttered window. She twisted the end of the shawl in her hands, uncertain of what to do next. Was he about to force her up against the wall, push her down onto the bed, or what?
"You undress, please, lady," said Rolgor.
His voice was quiet, despite its deep, guttural, tone, asking, not demanding or brutal, as she had half suspected. It wasn't what she expected of a half-orc, and that was resulting in confused signals. She didn't know quite how to feel. She was nervous, a little horrified about what was about to happen, and, at the same time, somewhat expectant. It had been over three years, after all.
She pulled her shawl off, looking about for somewhere to put it. Rolgor gently took it from her, placing it on the small table. He smiled, with less of a leer than last time, only his tusks really showing. Elandra turned away from him, and began to undo her girdle.
Soon, she stepped out of her dress, clad now only in her underwear. She could not imagine what Rolgor made of her, for presumably he did not have much success with women. Although she was just entering her fifth decade, she supposed that her body was not too bad for her age. She was hardly slender any more, and the sag of gravity had taken its toll in places. She had crow's feet about her eyes, and a few grey hairs starting to come through, but there were many her age who had come through the decades rather more affected.
Still dressed in her shift, she sat down on the bed, lifted her legs up to lie on it, and looked back towards Rolgor. The half-orc had stripped down to the waist, revealing a powerfully muscular chest with sparse dark hair overlying the greyish-green skin. There was barely an ounce of fat on him, she reflected, as he reached for his belt.
Well, she thought, with a sense of false bravado. You know what they say about half-orcs... ugly as sin, but...
Rolgor dropped his pants, and Elandra actually gasped, her eyes widening.
It wasn't a myth.
Nyvara felt most satisfied with the way things were progressing. She had sensed that desperation in the mother, notwithstanding that her divinatory powers had already given her a clue as to how things might progress. Elandra had been willing to do anything to protect her daughter, even if that meant having sex with a half-orc, something that, as bravely as she had tried to hide it, evidently somewhat disturbed her.
She did need the ingredients for her potion, that was true enough, but she could have accepted a much lower price than the one she originally offered to Elandra. Indeed, the cash price she was now receiving was a much more reasonable one, and she would gain the woman's juices into the bargain. Assuming, of course, that Rolgor managed to get her aroused enough, which was difficult to predict.
But that, so far as Nyvara was concerned, would be merely an added bonus. She hadn't wanted to get Elandra out of the way just to collect the fluids, or to give her bodyguard a reward. No, she had something entirely more satisfying to achieve through the night's events.
"Would you like a drink while we're waiting?" she asked the girl.
"Uh, yes, please. Thank you." Elandra's daughter looked nervous, and only seemed to be agreeing in order to fill the silence. She was sitting on the stool, fidgeting, and fiddling with the dark material of her clothes. "Do you think they'll be long?"
"Possibly," said the sorceress, "but there's nothing to worry about. Your mother is just running a little errand for me, and I'm sure Rolgor can keep her safe from any possible harm."
She stepped past the tapestry, to collect a drink from an alcove in the wall. Her hand flickered towards a potion there, intending to add a drop or two to the water, but she decided against it. If she read things correctly, it would not be necessary, and the evening's events would be all the more delicious without the added coercion.