Sarlene's Touch Ch. 29byFuinimel©
"She went to see a magician named Ornejirhs," explained Almandar, as they stood outside the Wizards' College, "he's a visitor to the city, not somebody I've heard of before."
"I have," said Tarissa, unexpectedly, "he's a demon hunter. They mentioned him at the Pardror temple. I was going to suggest we pay him a visit anyway."
"And after seeing him, Calleslyn disappears? I'm not sure I like this, especially since we don't know anything about him. We don't even know where he's from."
"I was told that he was from the south," replied the paladin, "although I suspect they may have got confused on that point – it's not a name from any southern culture I'm familiar with." Tarissa, of course, was from the southern lands, herself, as her blonde hair and blue eyes made apparent. "Although I was told that he does have a companion called Imrilda, who certainly is southern, from the description. She belongs to an order called the Shield Daughters, who have some rather strange ideas about dress, but are essentially honourable. From everything I was told, this Ornejirhs sounds a trustable person."
"Then why hasn't Calleslyn returned?" Almandar reminded her, "she went to see him yesterday afternoon."
"Perhaps she spent the night," suggested Tarissa, "it's not as if you haven't done the same more than once."
That caught him a little of guard. It was, of course, perfectly true, and it was something that he suspected the paladin felt a little uncomfortable even mentioning. If Tarissa herself had a sex life, he knew nothing about it, and her moral code was certainly opposed to casual encounters of the sort that he had so often. She was, perhaps, being generous in usually glossing over his activity. And it was at least possible that she was right, although with Calleslyn's elven heritage, it was likely she would be as interested in Imrilda as Ornejirhs himself.
"Well," he said, "at least we know where to go."
"Actually, I'd like you to stay here," she said, "there might be something useful in the restricted section of your library. I'm sure Vardala and I can find this demon hunter." Dolrim was still guarding the villa, although the chances of a return visit by the intruder seemed unlikely. "I doubt the Wizards' College knows more about fighting demons than my church, but you never know. At the least, it might be interesting to know who has been poking around with those sorts of books. Even if it is all down to this Lady Amloth that Vardala found out about, she will probably need allies to conduct a major ritual, or this dark influence beneath the city could have infected the College – which would really be something we'd need to know about."
"All right, all right," Almandar held his hands up, "I suppose we don't want magicians working against us. But I'll try to be quick, and I might follow you to this Ornejirhs' house after I finish."
As the two women left, Almandar headed back into the college, and towards the library. He hoped that Tarissa was right, and that Calleslyn's failure to return to the villa that morning was not the result of something sinister. But, since he had been asked to view the restricted section, that was probably what he should do. First, of course, he would need permission, and, since the Master of the College was likely to be busy, that meant talking to the librarian.
"The restricted section!" squeaked Nariti, her eyes widening, "whatever for?"
"I want to know who might have summoned this demon who attacked us, and that means I need at least some idea how they might have done it."
"Oh, yes... you said." The small woman still looked rather nervous, "are you really sure?"
"I won't be long. Look, you can come with me, if you want."
"I don't know... perhaps I should ask the Master. I think he might be free this evening..."
"I know that access to that part of the library is limited," conceded Almandar, "but we do have it for a reason. Why keep books if nobody reads them? And I think I have a pretty good reason. I really need your help on this – you know more about magic books than anyone."
"Uh... yes... well, I suppose so," she nodded her head up and down, her hands fluttering nervously over the scroll on her desk, "if you really need my help. Yes, I will give you permission, then. I haven't been in there for a while myself, so I should probably check on it. Make sure that everything is back where it should be. Cataloguing is important, you know."
She seemed to be trying to convince herself as much as him, so he did not interrupt, and allowed her to lead the way. He couldn't help but notice how her confidence had increased once she had begun to think about cataloguing; that was obviously something she found easier to deal with than people.
They descended a narrow flight of steps at the rear of the main section of the library, until they came to a small metal door, painted black. There was no lock or handle, just a red rune where one might otherwise be found. Nariti pulled a wand from the satchel at her side, and muttered an incantation under her breath as she tapped the rune. It glowed for a second, and then the door swung soundlessly open.
The room within was gloomy, windowless, but with a permanent light spell cast onto a fitting against one wall, perhaps as much a protection against fire as a convenience. There was a small desk, and a single leather-padded chair, but otherwise the room was free of furniture, except for the numerous bookshelves stacked tightly against the walls.
The shelves were packed with a number of books and scrolls of all shapes and sizes. A great many of the books had black covers or sinister designs on them; evidently the people who produced such things couldn't resist adding a suitably dramatic flair.
The door shut behind them, locking out the rest of the college. Almandar looked up at the shelves, wondering where to start. "So what have we got on summoning spells?" he asked, "it might be useful to see what things are required."
"Uh... well..." Nariti looked nervous again, her hands fidgeting now that she had put the wand away, "I suppose that the... uh... the Umbrosus Pacta would be the best place to start." She stood there for a moment, apparently not realising that he had no idea where to look, and then suddenly gave a little jerk, "oh, yes, of course. It should be over here, on the third shelf, just along from the..." she frowned suddenly, and stepped across to the place she had indicated. "Oh, really! People should put books back where they find them. How else am I supposed to catalogue anything? But wizards will do whatever they please, sometimes. Its as if they don't understand the importance of an efficient manuscript retrieval system!"
It was about as passionate and confident as he'd ever heard her be. Clearly he'd found a topic of conversation she actually thought was important. She scurried around the room, sifting through the shelves, and casting her eye over all of them, small hands darting over the scrolls, sometimes raising small puffs of dust.
"Oh my goodness me!" she stepped back, into the middle of the room, hand rushing up to her mouth, a look of near panic on her face. "It's not here! It's not here!"
"But nobody can take things out from here," pointed out Almandar, "are you saying it's been stolen?"
"Steal a book? From a library! Oh my gosh... that's... that's quite outrageous!" Her voice had reached a high pitched squeak of indignation, and a slight flush of red rose to her pale cheeks.
"More to the point, why?" mused the other magician. "You said you hadn't been in here recently, so who has been in here since you last checked it?"
"Only Valmor. Oh, he wouldn't... surely not. Besides, it's a big book, how would he get it out?"
"Shrunk it, perhaps? Or concealed it in a magic bag? Of course," he added, worried that she might rush off and confront the man, which would be a very bad idea if he really was in league with demon summoners, "it might not have been him. Perhaps somebody found a way of by-passing the magic lock – it's not impossible, and if they shrunk the book and carried it out, well, you'd never know, would you?"
"No, I suppose not. You're right. It was probably some irresponsible student who got hold of a wand they shouldn't have done. Or something like that. I shall report it to the Master of the College – we simply can't have this sort of thing happening!"
"Oh!" she gasped suddenly, "but what if others have been taken? I must check them. My library, stolen from!"
The little magician seemed almost close to tears, and Almandar felt quite sorry for her. None of this had been her fault after all; it had not even been she who gave Valmor permission to enter the place, and to do so without supervision. He reached out an arm and gave her a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. Surprised by the gesture, she turned to look at him, giving him a small smile of gratitude, and then darted back towards the shelves, checking them more thoroughly.
There was nothing Almandar could do but watch her, wondering about the strange little woman with the mousy hair. She seemed so isolated from the outside world, only happy when in her element. He felt sure he had never seen her outside the building, realising she must use the accommodation here, like some of the students. Her library was the only thing that really mattered to her, and it was a small affront that the demonic forces beneath the city had hurt her like this.
As he did so, he noticed one book that seemed to stand out from the others. It was slim, and bound in red leather, but what most caught his attention was the sigil on the spine. It was the holy symbol of Sarlene, the same shape as the one he wore about his neck. As the librarian continued to search, he slid it out, and opened it, noting that it appeared to be a book of spells.
"No, nothing else gone," she said, after a surprisingly short yet thorough search, "oh, thank goodness." She leaned back against the shelves, waving a hand to cool herself, and brushing a strand of mousy hair back from her forehead.
"I see you've found the... uh... yes..." she said flustered again, as she saw the book in his hands.
"Oh, yes..." he was the one to be embarrassed this time, "I didn't realise this sort of thing counted as restricted. Or that we had books like this at all. Some rather unusual spells in it, I see." He put the book back, making sure it was in the exact position that he had found it.
"Yes," agreed the librarian, nodding, "I did read some of it once, and found them most curious. Most of the other books in here are a bit... well, they don't seem very nice. That one was different, but very puzzling. Why would you want a spell to make a specific body part larger, for instance? And it only worked on men."
"Yes," said Almandar, cautiously trying to feel his away around the conversation, "I can see why you might find that odd."
"Obviously, it has something to do with Sarlene," said Nariti, apparently feeling a little more relaxed now that she knew nothing else was missing, "you can tell that from the cover. But there doesn't seem to be anything religious in it, just spells. And it used some curious words, which I haven't seen elsewhere. Do you think they might be religious terms? I worship Nyrandos, of course, so I wouldn't know."
Nyrandos was the god of knowledge, who tended to be the most popular among magicians, but the revelation was doubly unsurprising, coming from her.
"Yes, that seems quite possible," he said, as noncommittally as he could.
"It was quite vexing. I don't like not understanding things. I suppose I should..." her eyes widened, as she caught a glimpse of the silver symbol around his neck. "Oh, but you worship Sarlene, don't you? That's most... well... not very usual, but I'm sure it must have some advantages. Love is important, all the books are clear on that."
"Yes, it's all part of the world," he conceded, "it keeps everything together."
"So they say. Uh... would you mind... could you explain some of the words to me? I think it would be important if I understood the book. As it's custodian, you see."
"Yes, I suppose so," he said. The goddess taught that you should spread her message where you could, although he suspected any such conversation with Nariti was likely to be a very strange one indeed.
"Not the actual prayers and history of the Church," the librarian went on, "I found books on those. Just... uh... just some of the more specific terms, and the bits about... um... what those spells would be for? Because that's really, you know, the bits that I... well... that I want to understand better."
"Right," said Almandar, uncertainly. "Didn't your parents ever give you this talk?" She frowned, deeply. "No, evidently not. I guess... sure, if that's what you'd like."
"Is it... um... practical? I mean, there's obviously... well... a sort of physical component," she looked a little flustered, fingers twitching, "Obviously," she repeated. "I mean, it's not that I don't know roughly what's involved. I get the general idea. But what I mean is... uh..." she trailed off, giving him a pleading look.
"Yes?" he asked, prompting her to continue.
"I know where babies come from, if that's what you're wondering. I know what has to be put where... more or less. It's the specific details, like the words in that book. 'Cunnilingus', for instance, that was one of them. What does that mean? Which is where... you know, considering the general subject matter... that was where... well, I was wondering if you'd have to... uh... show me?"
Almandar was struggling to get his head round the conversation. If she was coming on to him, it had to be just about the strangest way of doing it that he'd ever encountered.
"You're wondering if I would need to give you cunnilingus?" he said slowly, "no, I don't think that would actually be mandatory."
"Oh. Because I wouldn't mind, if that was the best way."
"Nariti," he said, grasping the nettle, "I'm going to be blunt about this: are you asking me to have sex with you?"
"Are you sure about this? I know you're a grown woman, but you seem a little inexperienced, if you don't mind my saying so."
"How else am I going to get experience? And... well... you know, you've always been nice to me. And you know all about it, so I think you'd be a good teacher."
Almandar thought back to just a few days before, when he'd told Calleslyn that the librarian 'wasn't his type'. Which was true, in a general sort of way, although she wasn't exactly unattractive. It was more that she was socially awkward, in a way that didn't really inspire sexual thoughts. Plus, there was the worry that he would be taking advantage of her innocence.
On the other hand, it might help her to loosen up a little. The gift of love, whether manifested through romance or through physical communion, was an important one, that everyone should have the chance to experience. Might she find somebody else, if he said no, somebody that might be less considerate? And she was, of course, right, that there was no other way to gain experience.
"Right," he said, making his mind up, "sure. I'll be happy to help you, if that's what you'd like."
The librarian relaxed suddenly, almost deflating, and rolling back slightly on her heels. She let out a small puff of relief, and flashed him a nervous smile. Then she unbuckled her satchel, and began to fiddle with the hem of her dress.
"What, now?" he said, almost incredulous, "here?"
"Well... um... yes?" she said, glancing up at him, already holding her outer skirts up around her waist, "Why not?"
"Because we're in a library?"
"Of course," she said, continuing to remove her dress, "but it's my library, isn't it? And the smell of parchment always make me feel... uh, good?"
He glanced towards the door. It was solid, and the stairway beyond reasonably long. He had to admit that they were unlikely to cause much of a disturbance. Even so, it seemed a rather odd environment, even if it was one that made Nariti feel comfortable. He watched as she carefully laid her dress on the floor, giving them at least something soft to lay on, rather than the stone flagging beneath it. More of a problem at the moment was that her odd approach had not got him particularly aroused.
The little librarian pulled her shoes off, and stepped towards him, wearing a short-sleeved shift that came to her knees. She stood up on tip-toe, reaching out gingerly to move his head down, and then gave him a nervous little peck on the lips. She leaned back slightly, her mouth twitching, one hand bunching the material of her shift, kneading it beneath her fingers.
He gently reached out, and pulled her back in, kissing her again, but this time doing it properly. Her lips were soft beneath his, and he sensed a slight smell of ink from her hair, as he moved his hand around her back. She was tense at first, but soon relaxed, her lips parting as he slid his tongue inside her mouth, and pressed her body gently against his.
They broke free, she grinning slightly. "That was nice," she said, clasping her hands together, and looking at him earnestly, "I mean, uh... a nice start. Now... um... let me see..."
Her hands reached gingerly towards him, and she began to unfasten his tunic. He helped her remove first that, and then his shirt, pulling it over his head, and dropping it beside her dress on the floor. The librarian looked at his exposed upper body with what appeared to be satisfaction, running her hands across his chest so that just her fingertips brushed it. She gave a shy smile, and then glanced downwards, her fingers beginning to untie the fastenings on his trews.
It took a while, her fingers fumbling on the knot, but at last his trews slid down around his ankles. Gingerly, she moved for the top of the drawers he wore underneath, pulling them down slowly over his hips, until they followed his trews. He was only semi-erect, and stood there in slight embarrassment as she looked at his cock, as if wondering what it might do.
He was about to say something when Nariti suddenly kneeled down, and reached out for him. Her fluttering fingers brushed his pubic hair, and stroked down along his length. She seemed to be curious, more than anything, but, intentionally or otherwise, the way she touched him was at last beginning to arouse him. The librarian jerked back slightly in surprise as his cock began to swell, rising upwards, but she soon overcame her reaction to reach out for it again, gently stroking his shaft, moving her small fingers over every part of it, then exploring his balls.
Reaching the tip again, Nariti gently pulled back his foreskin, her head just inches away as she tried to get a close look. Her fingertips caressed the head, and he found himself fully erect as she continued to tease him, dabbing at a drop of pre-cum.
"Interesting," she said, which was perhaps not the reaction he had been particularly hoping for.
Then she moved away, and sat down on her dress, arranging his tunic and shirt to form further padding, as he removed his shoes and stepped out of his remaining clothing. He lay down beside her, and they kissed again, her fingers tracing the feel of his sides, from below his armpit to the swell of his buttocks.
He ran a hand along her calves, up to her knees, where he began to raise the hem of her shift. She watched curiously as he lifted it higher, exposing the creamy skin of her slender thighs. He ran his hands over them, feeling the soft skin, then motioned for her to adjust her position so that he could lift the shift over her hips.
She did so, and he pulled it up to beneath her chest. Her waist was narrow and her belly flat, the skin essentially flawless. She shivered slightly as he ran a hand over her skin, but grinned slightly when he glanced at her. He slid his hand further up, beneath the fabric, round the side of her chest, but it was she who took the initiative, and finally pulled the shift up over her head.