Sarlene's Touch Ch. 33byFuinimel©
Calleslyn waited and watched nervously as Vardala fiddled with the lock on the door; they really didn't want to be caught by anyone while doing this. She and Almandar were standing in the alley behind the house that Sashjant had rented in the city. There was no sign of life inside, although she knew that the demon was at home, along with, at the very least, two of his female companions, and probably all of them. Except, of course, Mei-Xing, and they did not yet know whether he had worked out what had happened to her,
Hopefully not, because that would give them the element of surprise. Sashjant was expecting Ornejirhs, and doubtless had warding spells in place to warn him of the approach of a dragon, whether in human form or not. But, with any luck, he had no idea about the adventurers, allowing them to quickly get inside and deal with him.
To her surprise, the lock on the back door to the house had not been enchanted, so it had nothing to do with the magical key they had stolen. That had to be for something, but evidently it wasn't just for accessing the building, which used a standard Haredil lock on all of its doors. Which meant that Vardala should not be much longer.
The gnome nodded, pocketing her picks, and quietly pushing the door open. Almandar beckoned to Dolrim and Lady Tarissa, standing guard at either end of the alleyway, and the two warriors quickly joined them, before they all stepped inside and pushed the door closed behind them. They were in, apparently without being spotted and suspected of burglary by the city watch... now they just had to deal with a demon and up to four of his mind-controlled slaves.
They were standing in what was obviously a kitchen, but had no cutlery, utensils, or supplies of food on display. Calleslyn wasn't sure whether Sashjant needed to eat or not, but his servants certainly did, which made their refusal to use the kitchen rather odd.
One door led to a pantry – also suspiciously empty – and the other to a corridor that led through to the front of the house and to some stairs leading upwards. The corridor was as bare as the kitchen, totally lacking in any decoration, but simply with blank plaster walls and wooden floorboards. However, it was instantly obvious that something was wrong with the layout.
There were too many doors. Aside from those that obviously led to front rooms, there were two doors under the stairs, despite the fact that there was no space there for anything more than a small cupboard. One of the doors was made of rune-marked black metal, clearly out of place. A quick spell confirmed that the door definitely radiated magic, and strong magic at that.
Almandar motioned to the others, and stepped up to the metal opening. It had a slot just the right size for the unusual key he had taken from Mei-Xing, and when he pressed the device to it, the portal swung open silently to reveal a long stone corridor beyond. It clearly could not fit within the physical space of the house, and surely explained why the building proper looked unused. Doubtless the door, and whatever lay beyond it, was portable, allowing the demon to carry his home about with him while travelling, and making it difficult for any intruder to break in.
He had evidently not counted on one of his slaves falling for Almandar's charms, thought the elf, with a hint of amusement. Not, of course, that he had mentioned to the others how he had acquired the key, but Callesyn knew him well enough to guess, and the less said to Tarissa and Dolrim about it, the better.
Moments later, they were in. Vardala shut the door behind them, evidently realising that its presence gave them more freedom to act than they had suspected. Surely sounds did not emanate from within, allowing them to destroy the demon without waking the whole street and having a lot of awkward questions to answer. Swiftly, the party moved down the corridor.
It looked to be made of plain stone flagging, although when Dolrim brushed his hand over it, he frowned, and shook his head disapprovingly. Most likely, the entire structure was magical, or made from something extra-planar, not real earth and rock. The bright lamps set into the wall were probably fake too, since they did not seem to give off any smoke or heat, making the whole place seem a little otherworldly.
They were just about to examine the first door along the side of the corridor, when they heard a sudden shout of alarm. The red-headed slave had just turned the corner at the end of the corridor, and seen them. There was a flash of light as Almandar cast a sleep spell, striking the woman before she could dart back round the corridor, and she slumped heavily to the floor. For a few moments, her yell seemed to echo around the place, as the adventurers prepared to rush forward. The element of surprise had gone, and now they had to move swiftly.
"Let's..." Tarissa began, just before everything went black and Calleslyn felt herself being whirled round like a spinning top.
She regained her balance as the spinning stopped. It was still pitch black, but now ominously silent as well. Calleslyn raised her hand, casting a light spell into the gloom. It surged briefly, and then went out again, plunging her back into darkness. She could feel something fighting back against her magic as the spell failed, but, more importantly, the brief glimpse it had given her showed that she was alone, and not standing in the same corridor that she had been moments before.
She stood still for a second, wondering what to do. The others could be anywhere, and she could not see in complete blackness... something that presumably did not hinder Sashjant. Her keen hearing picked up a sound. She felt sure it was Tarissa's voice, calling out, but it was too faint to make out the words. Nonetheless, she moved towards it, hands trailing along the stone wall beside her to feel her way.
This was not going as well as they had planned.
Her fingers reached an archway, and a wooden door beyond it. The wood felt slightly odd to the touch, unnaturally regular in form, so doubtless it was no more the real material than the stone walls had been. Heart beating, and unsure what she would do if the demon were standing behind it, she pulled the door open.
Light spilled into the corridor, and she heard a sudden yelp of surprise from the illuminated room beyond. Darting in, her experience as an adventurer allowed her to instantly take stock of the chamber and evaluate its only visible threat. Before the woman standing there could even react to her presence, she had hurled a sleep spell in her direction.
With a flash of blue light, the spell deflected from its target, sputtering out without effect. She was protected, and the only spells that Calleslyn knew that might penetrate that barrier would harm the woman; an innocent victim of Sashjant's mind-altering powers.
The room itself was a study or office of some kind, the walls clean and white, decorated with exotic tapestries in an artistic style that Calleslyn didn't recognise. There was a small desk with a stool against one wall, covered with parchments, and three heavy chests arrayed against the far end of the room. The remaining wall, the one that did not hold the door she had just entered through, held a divan sumptuously upholstered in red and purple. Otherwise, the room was empty, save for the woman facing her.
She recognised the woman, of course, for the adventurers had been following Sashjant's harem over the last few days. They had determined she was a secretary or clerk of some kind, perhaps a merchant who helped the demon buy the goods he needed for a life of material luxury. She was also, as with all of the women, a beauty, and, Calleslyn thought, the most exotic of the five. Mei-Xing was obviously from the distant east, the redhead and the blonde from the south, and the tall brunette from the Wild Lands, but she had no idea what part of the world this woman came from. For all she knew, it was the distant northern hemisphere, where Sashjant himself was said to have entered the physical plane.
Her skin was rich brown, lighter and more golden than that of the Jalibians, yet much darker than anyone from Haredil. Her hair was straight and jet black, cascading around her shoulders, and her features fine and exquisitely carved, with dark, dark eyes that were presently glaring at the elf intently.
Her clothing was exotic too, reminiscent of some of the Haredil styles, yet clearly belonging to none of them. Her skirts were long, draped to the ground, made from a brilliant pink fabric decorated with gold thread and sequins. However, unlike most local dresses, the upper part of her clothing, although matching, was an entirely separate garment. It was short-sleeved, leaving her arms bare to show off a number of golden bangles, and high cut beneath a decorative necklace. It was remarkably short, however, ending just below her full breasts to leave her narrow waist and belly bare, a diamond stud glittering in her navel. The outfit was completed with a long shawl of similar fabric to the dress, draped over her shoulders, and dangling silver earrings.
Any of Sashjant's followers could turn heads, but, at least to Calleslyn's mind, this woman was the most beautiful of them all, and the rich splendour of her clothing enhanced that all the more. It was, of course, a pity that her opponent was unlikely to hold the same opinion of her.
These thoughts and impressions, already formed by her earlier sight of the woman, flashed through the elf's mind even as the human's fingers began to move in a complex, yet very familiar fashion. Instinctively, Calleslyn's own hands moved to counter the coming spell, and when the flash of glowing energy burst towards her just seconds later, she deflected it harmlessly to the side.,
The woman was a magician, then. Although, Calleslyn thought, not a strong one, perhaps only just entering on that path of study, and she would be no match in a true duel of magical power.
Perhaps having the same thought, and realising that her petty spells would have no effect on the stronger elven magician, the stranger lunged for the desk and, almost too late, Calleslyn saw the handle of a dagger there, protruding from beneath the parchments, where the blade itself was hidden.
She cast another spell, and the foreign woman's feet whisked out from under her, spilling her in a cartwheel, arm still outstretched to grab for the dagger. Her fingers were just inches away as her body lurched up into the air, the levitation spell leaving her nothing to grab onto. She flailed about, legs and arms in a blur as she wailed in frustration, hair in disarray, shawl fluttering to the ground beneath her as it fell from her shoulders.
"You bitch!" she shouted, once it had become clear to her that she was not close enough to any solid surface to reach out for it. She was helpless, at least until the spell ended.
Calleslyn took a step back, closing the door firmly, and ensuring she was out of reach of the woman's hands, and looked into those fiercely glaring eyes.
"So, you're one of Sashjant's slaves?" she said.
"I am not a slave! I serve my master willingly – and he will destroy you for this affront!" Her voice had a sing-song quality to it, a strange accent that befitted her oddly foreign appearance.
"Do you really?" asked Calleslyn. It was possible, she supposed, although that was not what she had heard from Ornejirhs. "Why would that be?"
"He is magnificent, a giant among lesser beings! He is full of splendour, inspiring devotion in my heart, and that of my companions. To see him is to be in awe, to know that nothing he does can be wrong, and we must all strive to please him. You will see, elf woman! You will see what a privilege it is to be near him."
The words struck something of a chord with the magician. Ornejirhs had almost certainly been right, for this kind of mindless devotion could easily be induced by powerful enchantments. There were spells that could make anybody befriend you, treat you as their best confidant and companion, so that they would do almost anything you asked them. Such spells were generally forbidden, at least in civilised society, because of the misuse to which they could be put, but when they worked, they created much the kind of fervour that she saw now in the woman before her.
It made her all the more determined to free the woman from her enthrallment, just as Almandar had freed Mei-Xing. But how could she do that if her spells kept failing, as both the light and sleep spells had done? No... there was something odd there. The human woman had had no difficulty casting her own spell, and it had not even been a particularly strong one. If there was any dampening effect, it would not be able to discriminate between friend and foe, so this woman should be even more handicapped than she.
That she was not meant that something else was going on. Calleslyn's eyes strayed to the light. Like those they had initially seen when they entered this place, it appeared to be a lamp, yet gave off no smoke. Outside, in the corridor, the magical lamps had all gone out, yet this one was still burning. Which meant that the effect that had dampened her own light spell was only outside in the corridor, not in here, and what had caused her sleep spell to misfire had to be something else entirely.
She could not cast many more spells today, not if she wanted to be able to face Sashjant should he turn up, but a detect magic was simple enough. Once cast, that told her all she needed to know. Yes, the entire place was magic, but, more importantly, so was a ring on the human woman's finger. That had to be what was protecting her... if Calleslyn could remove the ring, she could cast the anti-enchantment spell that had freed Mei-Xing, and the demon would have one less ally.
But that might be easier said than done.
"Have you not noticed," she asked, "that Mei-Xing has not returned to you? I am sure the other woman told you that she went away with a man, and I can tell you that that man lifted the enchantment that was on her, freed her mind from Sashjant's compulsion."
"Lies! Mei is as loyal as I!"
"Not any more. My friend was evidently quite persuasive."
"I do not believe you."
"The fact that he could do that would suggest that you still have your normal desires, that everything about you is normal, except for this slavish devotion that you feel."
"If you are suggesting that she was lured away by some physical attraction, then I can assure you that we need no more satisfaction than our master can provide. So I know you are lying."
"The suggestion I have heard that you five are a 'harem' is a literal one, then?"
She had suspected as much, for any spell that could create an unreasoning devotion in the subject could be misused for sexual purposes. Anyone under such a spell would willingly have sex with its caster if they were asked to do so, and, if the spell was potent enough, would enjoy it regardless of their prior preferences. But... such spells usually lasted for mere hours, days at the most, and trying to cast and recast it on five different people so often had to be difficult. There had to be something more to it, some way that Sashjant made the effect more permanent than it should have been.
"I would not use such a crude term. But we are his companions, and we give ourselves willingly to him, as any woman would do."
"Any woman? So how does that work..." Seeing that got not reply, she tried a different tack. "What happened when your most recent companion joined?"
The woman frowned, perhaps wondering for a brief moment if her desperation to prove Calleslyn wrong meant that she was giving away too much. But then she ploughed ahead anyway, perhaps reassuring herself of her master's inevitable triumph over all.
"Kara was like you at first – she said that she would not bow to our master. But when she came into his presence, he gazed into her eyes and spoke calming words to her, and we could see the shadows fall from her face as she beheld his true form. She fell to her knees in awe, and promised to do anything to help him."
Well, that sounded like a regular spell, and only the clouding of the foreign woman's own mind could be preventing her from seeing that. It did not explain, however, why the effect was so long-lasting. "And then what happened?" she pressed on.
"Our master took human form, and rewarded Kara for her newfound loyalty."
"And how exactly did he do that?"
"He made love to her, of course, until she begged that she could take no more pleasure. It is how he always rewards us, a glorious experience unlike anything you can imagine." Her eyes shone with a strange fervour as she spoke, her voice becoming softer, more reverent. The spell had certainly taken its hold on her. "We all watched, pleased to have a new sister."
"It didn't make you jealous?"
At last, uncertainty crossed the dark-skinned woman's face, "I... I... no, of course not... we... that is, I... I know that nothing that the master wishes can be wrong. I was pleased for her. Yes, I was."
"And that was it?"
"After she had been pleasured as much as any mortal can be," her strangely accented voice had become more confident again, "Kara showed her gratitude to him. He returned to his true form, and she took him in her mouth until she drank him dry. As she has many times since, as have we all, for he says it is a sign of our undying devotion."
Calleslyn nodded to herself. There was obviously something in the demon's semen that extended the spell, although he probably still had to recast it from time to time. A nasty trick, indeed. Interesting though the information was, it also gave the elven woman an idea for how to take the magic ring from the trapped human. She was fairly sure that something similar had worked for Almandar, and she did not even need to go that far.
"More pleasure than any other mortal can grant?" she asked, "I rather doubt that, especially when he is in human form. Mei-Xing obviously did not think so, for, if I know my friend at all well, he pleasured her at least as much as your master has."
The woman opened her mouth to say something, then paused, a look of confusion on her face. After a long and uncomfortable silence, she at last spoke again, "what do you mean? How could I prove it? That doesn't make any sense."
"Could a mortal man satisfy you now, after having experienced Sashjant?"
"Could a woman?"
There was another long silence. The human's face flushed, a blush evident even beneath her coppery skin as she took in the import of the elven woman's words.
"That's ridiculous," she said at last, her voice wavering.
"What?" Her voice had risen an octave, as her dark eyes became rounder and rounder.
"Prove to me, here, now, that I can't make you climax. Because I think I can."
"That's... that's preposterous. The idea is ridiculous."
"Then you won't object to the challenge." There was no reply except another burning glare of animosity from the woman. Well, at least, Calleslyn thought, her eyes were focussed on the right place. Now to take advantage of that. "Like what you see?" she asked, "perhaps you'd like to see more?"
The elf moved over to the desk, eyes still fixed on the dark-skinned human, and half perched herself upon it, kicking her shoes off as she did so. She placed a bare foot on the velvet upholstery of the stool, and slowly slid her skirts up, exposing a long, slender leg. Once her skirt was hitched up almost to her waist, she slowly slid her hands along her shin and up to her thigh.
"You want to feel me, taste me, don't you?" she asked the woman, her voice dropping to a purr.
"No," said the human firmly.
But Calleslyn noticed that these deep dark eyes had not left her, and that the human looked flushed, even nervous, perhaps, but not truly frightened or revolted. In any event, as long as she could hold the woman's attention long enough to remove the ring, that was all she needed. She had no particular intention of forcing her into having sex; she had been through enough of that already, even if she didn't know it. She only had to be distracted.