Sarlene's Touch Ch. 47byFuinimel©
"He's upstairs," Ansrael told her when she arrived at the house, "you're welcome to go on up. He told me what happened. Or some of it, at least. I gather we owe you a debt of gratitude -- the whole city does."
"It wasn't just me," Lady Tarissa informed the elven squire, "there were many of us involved. Including Larimor."
"Thank you, nonetheless. I saw a lot of what happened, and I can't imagine what it would have been like if you -- all of you -- hadn't put an end to it. I'm going out to help with some of the clean-up at the temple. Larimor has been there all day, but I'm sure he'll be pleased to see you."
"Thank you, Ansreal." She was visiting Larimor's home, a well-appointed building, if smaller than the adventurers' own villa, and one that, of course, he shared with his squire, at least until her knighting ceremony, which was due quite soon now. She had not been here often before, and then only for brief visits, and it was a pleasant surprise to discover that they would actually have some time alone for once.
"First door on the right at the top of the stair," said the elf, as she stepped outside, "I'll see you later, and you can tell me your side of it. 'Bye!"
Once the front door had shut, Tarissa turned to the stairway and headed up. On the few occasions she had been here before, she had only seen the ground floor, which had a tastefully appointed living room and a secure armoury, as well as a yard outside for martial practice, A paladin, after all, always had to be prepared for action.
"Larimor!" she called out, as she approached the door that Ansreal had indicated, "it's me. Can I come in?"
"The door opened, and the tall knight stood there, beaming, "Tarissa! Come in, by all means. It's great to see you... after what happened yesterday."
She stepped inside, and realised that she was in her fellow paladin's bedroom. It was as pleasant as the rooms downstairs, with a large four poster bed and a plush carpet on the floor. Fortunately, despite the hour, Larimor did not appear to have been getting ready for bed -- that would have been embarrassing, for both of them.
"How are you?" she asked, reflecting that the last time she had seen him, he had still been suffering from the wounds inflicted by the subterranean monster.
"Much better, thank you. Working with so many priests skilled in healing is definitely an advantage of being a paladin." He flexed an arm, demonstrating his suppleness, the strong muscles moving beneath the fabric of his tunic. "But what about you? You obviously knew a lot about what was happening. What can you tell me about it?"
"We knew something like this would happen, yes," she agreed, "although not the details. I had no idea there would be undead walking the streets, for one thing. Nor did we know when it was going to happen. It could have been years away for all we knew, at least until very recently. We obviously grossly underestimated the urgency. Which is partly my fault."
"You couldn't have known," he said, reassuringly, "you just said so yourself. Besides, as I said yesterday, it is a bit of a coincidence, you discovering this in some ancient record so shortly before something that must only happen...well, less than once a century, from what I can gather."
"Yes..." she said, thoughtfully, "I remember you saying that. It is somewhat fortunate, now that you mention it. But it happened, and it as well that it did. Who knows, maybe Pardror had a hand in guiding us to the truth."
Larimor smiled. "Perhaps he did. The legends say that such things have happened before. What about your colleagues, though? I know that you normally fight alongside them, and they must have been trapped up on the surface."
"In that at least," she told him, "we were well prepared." She explained what Calleslyn and the others had done, and how they had foiled the conspirators' plan to raise the Presence.
"So there were thirteen of them at the Rotunda?" he asked. "A full coven?"
"So it seems. My friends managed to defeat most of them, and the remainder apparently turned on each other... presumably when their plan failed. Fortunately, we will not even have questions to answer, because everyone assumes that it was all to do with the undead."
"But some of them were killed with a fireball. Won't that...?"
"The Wizards' College is saying that Valmor was valiantly fighting off the hordes, and that he accidentally caught some innocent people in the blast. For, which of course, he could not be held to account in any event, because he eventually succumbed to the monsters himself. As did a guardsman -- Tenik, I think his name was -- who also died there, fighting the creatures. Or so the authorities believe."
"There is little point in disabusing them of that notion now, I suppose," agreed Larimor, "and all the thirteen are dead?"
"There were eleven bodies at the Rotunda," Tarissa informed him, "so two evidently escaped. They were the ones who turned on the others, I imagine. But we need not worry about them, because Calleslyn told me this morning of something a friend of hers at the Wizards' College told her about last night. Apparently this woman met two people, talking about a possessing demon -- evidently the Presence -- and having escaped from a disaster. She thought they referred to the undead, of course, but from what Calleslyn could piece together, they must be our two remaining conspirators."
"Do we know who they are?"
"No, but we do know that one is dead, and the other has fled the city, apparently after throwing off the Presence's control of her mind. We have no way of following her, or of taking any action against her... but she has gone, and has no way of repeating her act, even if she wanted to. So, while I always regret leaving an evil unanswered, in this case, it is not so bad as it could be. Not that we have an option, anyway."
"So, it's all over then?"
"It certainly seems so."
Larimor let out a sigh of relief, as if he had been waiting for the confirmation, and sat down on the bed. "Thank the gods," he said, "an undead army rampaging across the heart of the city... it's a lot to take in."
She sat next to him, intending it merely as a gesture of camaraderie. "You did your part," she told him, "we have all helped to save the city."
"I feel as if I did not do so much," he said, "it was you and Almandar who went on to the shrine. All I did was distract that... what was that thing, anyway?"
"I have heard of them," she said, "but only far to the south, on the fringes of my own homeland. They inhabit the cold lands, not places like this. It must have come through some kind of portal, a weakness in the fabric of the world caused by the Presence or the ceremony that first summoned it. But, please, do not sell yourself short. I was glad to have you by my side."
"And I you," he said, "fighting alongside you was..." he seemed to struggle for the words, "a good feeling. And you saved my life. You may not believe it, but you are a greater paladin than I. Truly."
"You are as worthy a follower of Pardror as I have ever met," she said, unconsciously reaching out to take his hand in hers.
Feeling his warm skin against her own, she realised that the gesture could seem rather intimate, and hoped he did not take it the wrong way. Or was it the wrong way? She had always felt strongly about him, admiring both his dedication and his undeniably handsome looks. Yet her desires had always been pushed back, in the name of honour and purity, her devotion to the cause outweighing any personal feelings. But did it have to be that way?
They were silent for a while, and she noted he did not move his hand from hers.
"No, you first."
"I was afraid," she admitted, "when you were attacked. For a moment I thought I had lost you. I know we had never truly fought alongside each other before, but you mean a lot to me nonetheless. The thought of losing you cut deep."
"When you went off with Almandar, into the unknown, I felt the same," he said, "I was more worried about you than myself. I could not bear being without you, Tarissa."
The next moment, she was in his arms, hugging him tight, face nestled in the crook of his shoulder. It felt so good, so natural, his strongly muscled form held in her embrace, the warmth of his tunic against her cheek. He whispered her name again, breathing in the scent of her hair.
"I have admired you for so long," he said, "a great warrior, a noble heart, full of goodness and resolve. You are everything a paladin should be, and more."
"As are you, Larimor," she told him, feeling the credit undeserved. She was an adventurer, not a knight in direct service of her god. She could do good that way, she knew, and many evils had fallen before her sword arm, but surely his devotion was greater than her own? Why could he not see that, as she could?
She pulled back slightly from his embrace, lifting her head to look into his dark eyes, seeing a gentle and caring look there that she had so long hoped to see directed towards her. Had she just never noticed it before, so determined had she been to stay professional and so fearful of being thought to fall short of her order's precepts? Or had their recent exploits brought them together as never before?
Their lips met, a brief brush, yet one that made her heart soar in her chest.
"Should we be doing this?" she asked, fearful of a negative answer, yet feeling the need to put the question anyway.
"I think kissing is permitted."
She pressed her lips against his again, and this time did not pull back. His breath was warm on her face as their mouths explored each other's, the tips of their tongues touching through parted lips, his broad shoulders firm beneath her embracing arms, his own hands against her back, comforting, supporting.
The kiss seemed to last forever, until they at last pulled apart, panting slightly to regain their breath.
"I have longed to do that since we first met," he told her, "why did we wait so long?"
"Does it matter?"
They kissed again, more fervently yet, Larimor's fingers running through her long hair, her hands running down his side, until they half collapsed together on the bed, she suppressing a most un-paladin-like giggle as they pulled apart to lie next to each other on the sheets.
Tarissa raised herself up on one arm, to look down on him as he rolled over onto his back. There was no denying his handsome looks, his tall and well-formed physique, that of a perfect warrior. She rested her free hand on his chest, feeling his heart beat beneath her fingertips, watching the slight movements as he breathed.
"If we... go further with this," she said, "how might we feel? I mean, we would distract each other, spend our time worrying about each other. Might it get in the way of our duties?"
"Too late for that, I think," he said, reaching out a hand to gently brush her cheek, "besides, do you want it to end here, now that we have found each other? Truly?"
"No," she whispered. They could never go back to the way it had been between them, if, indeed, that had ever really been possible.
"It is not as if we have just met," he reminded her, "I have known you for years. Our order prohibits casual liaisons, but it does not discourage romance."
"'Pardror is the brother of Sarlene'," she quoted, something an old priest had told her, back when she was newly knighted.
"Exactly. I don't think either of us could end this here if we wanted. There is too much between us. But nothing more need happen tonight."
"No," she said, surprised at the disappointment that crept into her voice unbidden, "besides, Ansreal will be back."
"Not until late tomorrow morning, actually."
"Yes, of course," he said, hurriedly. "We are not prepared. We need time to get used to this. Back in the tunnel, when Almandar... you know... it weakened us. It is just as well that it did not have the same effect on him."
"No, it wouldn't have," she said, wryly.
"So he..." he stumbled over the words, "well, yes... whereas I... what I'm trying to say is I am not entirely experienced at this."
"At all, really. I mean, I haven't... before." Tarissa was surprised, although on reflection she could not think why. She had just assumed that he was more experienced than she, that he would have some romantic encounters in his past. But why should that be, if he was as dedicated as she? It was touching, in a way, that she was the first.
"I have never met the right woman," he said, breaking the silence, "until now."
She leaned over, gazing into his eyes, moving her hand onto his chin, "then we can learn together."
His mouth made a silent 'O'. Perhaps he had thought the same about her. She realised that his attempts to put things off might simply have been a fear of letting his inexperience show; just nerves at facing something unfamiliar. She could relate to that.
But she was a paladin, an adventurer, a crusader for right and justice. She really shouldn't be frightened, she thought to herself, not even of this. She wasn't Almandar, or even Calleslyn; casual encounters held no interest for her. But this... surely this was anything but casual?
"Perhaps," she said, leaning closer still, blue eyes fixed on his darker orbs, "we could learn tonight?"
This time, Larimor made no demurral. They kissed, softly, before he rose to his knees, kneeling over her on the bed. Behind him, she could see the golden rays of the setting sun through the window, outlining his form as he pulled off his tunic.
Lady Tarissa reached out, stroking her fellow paladin's taut belly, feeling his bare skin. She pulled him down towards her, running the hand over his chest. His pectorals were well-defined, firm beneath her questing fingers, a slight fuzz of darker hair there. He felt warm, comforting, and she could not help but bend over to press her lips against his bare torso, bobbing her head as she moved about to new spots. Larimor ran his fingers through her hair as she did so, clenching slightly as she kissed one of his nipples, and let out a slight exhalation of breath.
She gazed up at him, admiring the look of bliss on his chiselled features. But he pulled away then, turning to draw the curtains around the four poster bed, leaving just a chink open so that the golden sunlight could pour through. Tarissa took the opportunity to pull her high boots off, and wriggled her bare toes against the sheets.
Soon, they were kissing again, bodies pressed against each other, her arms about his broad shoulders, feeling the muscles move beneath the skin. His hands were at her waist, pulling the base of her own tunic free from her girdle. The clothing she was wearing was more practical than that of most Haredil natives, or even, to be fair, that of most women of her own homeland. It consisted of a loose tunic and separate skirt, and, as he was now discovering -- if he hadn't realised already -- over a noblewoman's corset.
She helped him pull the garment free, and over her head, shaking her long hair loose. He pushed the item through the curtain, to land with a quiet plop on the thick carpet beyond, and bent to kiss her exposed neck. She whispered encouragement as her hands roved over his back, feeling every inch of his flesh. Other than the corset, she wore a short-sleeved doublet beneath the tunic, and Larimor was tugging that down to expose one pale shoulder, planting his kisses on her flesh.
Her fingers fumbled as they struggled to undo his belt, and she gave a slight pant of frustration, a musical note that inspired her lover to run his lips over the angle of her jaw, and press them eagerly to her own mouth once more. She had the belt free now, pulling his trews down around his hips, grabbing a tight buttock through his undershorts and giving it a brief squeeze.
He had to move then, shifting his position to lie back on the bed so that she could pull his trews down over his legs, and remove his boots. His legs were long, his thighs strong and enticing beneath her fingers.
Tarissa's gaze instinctively looked up, towards the undershorts that were now the only garment that Larimor wore. There was an unmistakable bulge there, tantalising in its possibilities, and her right hand hesitatingly moved in its direction, wanting to uncover more.
Before she could reach it, however, Larimor sat up on his haunches, and her hand found itself pressed against his belly. He leaned forward, resting his forehead against hers, their noses almost touching, both breathing heavily. With confident motions that put her own fumbling with his belt to shame, he began to undo the ties on her corset.
She watched his hands, not moving herself, as each cord was undone. Once the final one hung loose, she helped him pull the cumbersome garment away, dropping it through the curtain to land with their other clothes. They didn't want that in the way, after all.
Her fellow paladin lay back on the bed once again, as he watched her, eyes evidently drinking in every motion, wandering over the bare skin of her arms, not quite as muscled as his own, but undeniably strong by the standards of most women. Clearly, he didn't mind that, and she let own gaze stray over every inch of his body, admiring him as he did her, spread out below her in the increasingly orange light of the setting sun that filtered through onto the bed.
She stroked his chest and moved downward, as he ran his fingers down the skin of her lower arm, brushing over the slight blonde hairs there. Her hand reached his hip, at the drawstring of his undershorts, dipping her index finger beneath the fabric and over the inner curve of his hip. Time seemed to stand still for a moment, and her eyes flicked up to his, seeing a mixture of desire and uncertainty there.
Tarissa pulled Larimor's undershorts down over his strong thighs, leaving him naked before her.
She had never seen the penis of an adult man before, still less one as enthusiastically erect as his was now. Were they normally so long, she wondered idly? Larimor was a tall man with long limbs so... well, perhaps not. It was wider than her finger, too, she thought, with a slight blush, as she reached her right hand out to ruffle his dark pubic hair. From there, she trailed her finger around the base of his shaft and onto his balls, rounded and firm beneath her touch.
The skin of his cock was perfectly smooth beneath her fingertips as she traced her away along its length, marvelling at the feel of it. Larimor let out a slight grunt as she reached the tip, his cock twitching beneath her hand. She moved it away, suddenly embarrassed by how entranced she had been.
Larimor reached out, patting her side through her doublet, and she flashed a grin at him. Under the circumstances, there was little point in being shy, and they were both learning at this. She suddenly realised that she was still, for the most part, dressed, and bent down to undo her girdle, pulling her skirt aside to reveal the practical shorts beneath -- not the skimpier panties favoured by most women in these parts.
Larimor pulled her doublet up, exposing her belly, seeming content to caress it for a while, eyes occasionally flicking up to her face as if for confirmation. He didn't need that; Tarissa was already blissfully happy, bursting with anticipation for what was yet to come, as surely he must be, too.
She didn't even bother to push her skirt through the curtain, just tossing it to one side onto the sheets. Watching him beneath her in the fading light of the setting sun, she reached her arms round to grab the base of her doublet, hitching it up under her breasts and then, with a sudden motion, pulling it free and over her head.
Tarissa was not especially proud of her breasts. They were, she felt, too large for a warrior woman, prominent curves that distracted from her muscular belly and strong arms. Her fellow paladin showed no sign that he agreed with her assessment, hands reaching up to cup them in slender fingers, gently squeezing and fondling them. The holy symbol of their shared god, hanging on a light cord around her neck, nestled in her cleavage as he ran his hands over her pale pink nipples, and Tarissa found herself letting out an involuntary gasp of pleasure at the sensation.