Sarlene's Touch Ch. 50





Zarenis raised her head, now looking blankly into space, not at the force that was still rushing up towards her, climbing the long distance out of Hell. She thought back to every moment of her life, every moment of despair and humiliation, every horrid moment of subordination and squalor.

She felt an unfamiliar burning sensation in her eyes, and for a moment she could not place it. The she realised that she was crying.


Zarenis screamed, a raw yell of pure anguish and despair, ripped from her lungs by the force of her emotion.

Then she hurled the sceptre downwards with all her strength, straight into the bottomless pit beneath her.

It struck the Presence with a brilliant flash, and exploded. The dark cloud retreated even faster than it had come. This was what Throndar should have done, all those centuries ago, but he had delayed, and he had not been in her position.

The fire around her disappeared, and she found herself plunged into darkness. She was not in the real world; she was still wherever she had been. And she had just destroyed the magic that had sustained her.

Silently now, finally accepting her fate, Zarenis dropped like a stone, and plummeted down to Hell.


Almandar awoke to find himself lying on a four poster bed with red satin sheets and a luxuriously soft mattress. He was fully clothed, but no longer bound or tied in any way. He tried to remember how he'd got there – he didn't even remember blacking out, although he supposed he must have done. The last thing he remembered was watching the pillar of fire form around Zarenis, and trying to bite through his bonds. Then... he was here.

"I did it."

He pulled himself up sharply at the sound of the voice. Zarenis was sitting in a chair just beyond the end of the bed. The room they were in was sumptuously decorated, almost palatial. He assumed, for lack of any evidence to the contrary, that he was still in the same building, probably in Amloth's personal bedroom.

Knowing what little he did of Amloth's tastes, he shuddered inwardly to think what sort of things might have happened in this room. But he quailed even more at the dead sound of Zarenis' voice, and of what it implied.

"We're..." his voice trailed off, unable to finish the sentence: '... in the Hell-City'.

"I did what you wanted," she said, her voice still flat. Not the calm professionalism of when they had first talked – before he had raised her ire – but a dull affect, as if she was emotionally drained, and in a state of shock.

"I defeated the Presence, destroyed the sceptre. It can't get out of Hell, not ever again. It still exists, of course. If the gods couldn't destroy it permanently, I hardly could. But it won't ever be a threat again."

Relief flooded through him, and he almost collapsed back on the bed, a prayer to Sarlene on his lips, but his emotion was soon tempered by the flat expression on Zarenis's face.

"You did the right thing," he pointed out, wondering why he even had to reassure her.

"Did I?" she asked. So far, she hadn't looked straight at him, staring off into the middle distance, but now she turned to look at him, and he caught an unaccountable look of anguish on her face. Her eyes were even redder than usual, and he found himself wondering if she had been crying.

"Yes... yes, of course. Think of all the lives you have saved, of the untold misery you have averted!"

"I didn't do it for them," she said, almost too quickly, he thought. A harder edge was creeping into her voice, too; at least she was showing some sort of emotion now, recovering from whatever shock had engulfed her. "I did it for myself."

"It controlled me, it was responsible for everything," she said, anger clearly rising, although no longer directed at him. "All my life I have been at the mercy of others, all my life people have curtailed my freedom, had power over me. I want to be free, and it would never let me do that, I would always be its servant, no different than anyone before me."

He wasn't quite sure what to say to that, other than "well, you're free now."

"But I'm not, am I? Nothing's changed. That's why I can't help thinking I made the wrong decision. Everyone who ever controlled me still does. The Guild, the world... everyone. I'm still what I was before this started. Perhaps what it was offering was the closest thing to freedom I could ever have. And now that chance has gone forever."

"You can do whatever you want," he pointed out, "the world is as it is, but you don't have to be a slave. You've got skills, you can use then. It's possible to leave the Guild, you know; a friend of mine did,"

"What, and become an adventurer like you? I don't think so. That's no life, at least not for me. And what sort of skills do I have, really? What other sort of life can I lead?"

He threw his hands up in despair, "then leave the city! Find somewhere else! It's a large world out there. Travel to the west; the elves live a pretty free life. Just stop wallowing in despair like this. What's your problem? I can hardly imagine that it's lack of bravery."

Suddenly, she rose to her feet, knocking her chair backwards, and glaring at him with rage. "Because of these, remember?" she jabbed a finger towards her horns, her garnet eyes flashing. "I am demon-spawn; and that isn't something I can just run away from."

She looked down, suddenly quiet again, reaching a hand out to steady herself against one of the posts of the bed. "I was falling down to Hell," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. He wondered if anyone had ever seen her so emotionally vulnerable before. She didn't seem the type to normally open herself up like this. "When I awoke, and found myself here, I thought it was Hell. I realise it isn't now; I don't think Hell would actually be like this. But for a moment, I thought it was."

He tried to digest the concept, tried to make some meaning out of it, but failed. "What do you mean, you were falling towards Hell?" he asked.

"Just that," she said, raising her eyes towards him again, "I destroyed the sceptre, and the magic that suspended me... wherever I was... stopped. The Presence may even have dragged me down with it. It would hardly be surprising, after all. So, yes, I was following it down to Hell, where it is imprisoned."

"But you're here," he pointed out.

"Evidently," she said, with a hint of sarcasm.

"So what happened?"

"There was a light," she said, uncertainly, "a light from above me. It seemed to be reaching down for me. And then..."she faltered, about to say something, and then suddenly changing her mind, "then I was here. In the other room, that is. And you were unconscious. I brought you here. I didn't know what else to do."

A light from above, as she had been falling into Hell... the conclusion was obvious. But she was leaving something out, and Almandar thought he knew what it was.

"What else?" he asked, "Did you feel anything when the light touched you?"

Zarenis looked at him wide-eyed, "I felt..." she said, then faltered again, turning away from him, refusing to look at him, "I felt..." she whispered, and the last word was inaudible, something she couldn't quite bring herself to say.

Almandar moved forward on the bed, kneeling at the foot of it, closing the distance between them. "...Loved?" he asked.

She nodded mutely, still not looking at him, then spoke, her voice breaking with emotion, "cared for, sheltered..."

"You asked before," he said, "which deity had helped us, which gave us the clue to look for the Presence at just the right time. It was Sarlene, the goddess of love."

She turned to face him then, incredulous. "Sarlene? Seriously? But she's... she's..." she shook her head.

"Not important? Not dramatic and righteous? But she is; she's everything. Without love, what is the point of anything?"

"But surely..."

"Why deny it? You felt it yourself. That doesn't sound like Pardror or the Sun God, does it?"

"But it was all fake! It wasn't real, or true. Besides, why would Sarlene rescue me?"

"Because you did the right thing... for whatever reason. Because you're as important as anyone else. All right, I'm not going to say you're a good person, because you'll probably shout at me if I do," although he wondered if what was behind those garnet eyes was quite so ruthless and self-serving as she liked to claim, "but you still deserve love, everyone does,"

She leaned towards him, scowling, fists clenched on the bed sheets, "you're forgetting these," she said, not even bothering to point this time, "demon blood, remember?

"I'm forgetting nothing; that's what you look like, who your parents were... whatever... but it's not you. Look past them, and really see yourself for a change. Tiefling or not, you still deserve to be loved."

She thrust her face towards him, until they were inches apart, her breath warm on his skin, glaring garnet eyes filling his vision. "How can I look past them when nobody else can?"

"I can look past them. And if I can, others can, you just haven't let yourself notice it. I said earlier that you were an attractive woman. That wasn't a ruse, as you seemed to think. I really meant it. You are... you are actually quite beautiful."

"Prove it," she snarled.

Almandar suddenly took Zarenis's face in his hands and kissed her for all he was worth.

The tiefling's eyes widened in shock, and her hands feebly pushed against him. He recalled that she had a dagger in her boot, and was suddenly relieved that her first thought had not been to use it. Zarenis let out a muffled cry of outrage, but he held her tightly, arms pinned against her side, as much to stop her remembering the knife as anything else.

His intention had been to stop there, to pull back, his point made. But, to his surprise, he found her responding, lips pressing against his, her mouth opening to slide a warm tongue past his own, small panting noises rising in the back of her throat. The kiss went on for a lot longer than he expected, and, then at last, he did pull back, releasing her arms as he regained his breath.

Zarenis immediately pulled him back in for another hungry kiss, lips devouring his, hands running through his hair, gripping his shoulder. He wrapped his own arms around her, responding in kind. She had evidently ditched the cloak at some point before bringing him to the room, and he could feel the curves of her body through the tight leathers, and the thought was beginning to excite him.

The tiefling leapt up onto the bed, pushing him backwards to land on the satin sheets, lips still locked together. She at last pulled herself away, panting, brown hair mussed, one of her horns poking through. Her face was flushed, almost delirious.

"That wasn't quite what I was expecting," he informed her.

She ran her hands over his body, feeling it through the cloth of his tunic, and then began pulling his shirt free of his trews, running nimble fingers over his exposed belly. She was grinning, although he wasn't entirely sure that that sight was reassuring.

"It's been a wild day," she told him breathlessly, "it's about time I had some fun, and I can tell," she glanced down to the growing bulge in his trews, "that you're willing. Which, as I keep telling you, is a rare opportunity."

"Been a while, has it?" he asked with a grin, as she began to pull his tunic and shirt up around his chest, fingernails lightly scraping against his skin.

"Longer than you know," she replied, her voice a growling purr, "much longer."

He wrestled free of his upper garments, tossing them to one side on the wide expanse of the bed, the red satin cool against his bare back. He pulled himself up onto his haunches, and kissed Zarenis again.

She responded eagerly, nails running down his back, hands pressing, kneading him, yet not scratching hard enough to draw blood... not quite, anyway. She seemed like a wild animal, released, desperately hungry. She wasn't the most beautiful woman he had ever met, although he hadn't been lying – she really was much more attractive than she gave herself credit for, and the horns and the strange coloured eyes weren't at all a drawback as far as he was concerned. But, right at the moment, she was certainly one of the most enthusiastic.

He reached for her belt, and she sharply batted his hand away, hissing as she gave him a sharp shove. The belt held her sword, and he guessed she didn't want him touching that. She undid it herself; tossing it far away from the bed, well beyond his reach. Her boots and knife followed, as he took the opportunity to remove his shoes.

He didn't have the chance to do more before she was on him again, hands roaming over his naked torso, teeth lightly griping his lower lip. Zarenis let out a low growl, more filled with wordless lust than aggression, and he ran his hand down the smooth curve of her leather-coated back. He gripped her buttocks, feeling their taut shape... there couldn't be an ounce of fat on her, he reflected; she was as athletic as any adventurer he had known.

She leaned back suddenly, yanking his hands away from her rear, and shaking her head – although what she meant by that, he had no idea.

"No, no," she said, "let's see just how ready you are."

She pulled his trews down around his knees, and her fingers grabbed the drawstring of his undershorts. He wriggled on the bed to make her task easier, raising his hips as she finally exposed him, the reality of his arousal now entirely clear.

"Hmm... you really do mean it," she said, gripping his shaft, and running her hand along the length, squeezing lightly as she did so. She let him go, but only to cup his balls instead, fingernails lightly scraping against his scrotum. "Yes..." she whispered, almost a hiss.

He reached for her, intending to try and remove some of the clothing that still hid her from him, but she was there first, pulling herself free of her tunic, even as his cock rubbed against the tight leather over her strong thighs. Perhaps she preferred to undress herself, part of her insistence on freedom at all costs, not submitting to others.

He just hoped that she got on with it.

Zarenis wore a short-sleeved cotton shirt underneath the tunic, revealing bare arms as well-muscled as he had expected, a tattoo of a dagger rising from a mass of thorns below her right shoulder. The hem of the shirt had just pulled free of her trews, and at last he had a chance to feel more of her, his hands reaching up underneath, caressing her belly and flanks.

She was athletic indeed, and he could feel firm muscles underneath warm skin that was surprisingly soft and smooth. Before he could pull her clothes up to reveal more, however, she had leaned forward, and they were embracing and kissing once more, she pressing her lips against his cheekbones and chin, her breathing harsh and full of desire.

He kissed her nose as she dipped lower, towards his throat, and then her forehead, blowing a strand of hair out of the way. On a whim, he moved his head slightly to one side, putting his lips into position, and then sucking one of her dainty horns into his mouth. His tongue ran over the rough surface, as his lips pressed at the skin around the base, and she let out a gasp of delighted surprise.

Grinning wider than ever before, she pulled herself free and kissed him passionately on the lips once more. His hands roved up under her shirt, hiking it up, feeling the expanse of her back, the warm and surprisingly supple skin beneath his fingertips.

"You want this, huh?" she growled, ending the kiss as she raised her arms and pulled her shirt off.

Almandar grabbed onto her, pushing her back onto the bed, admiring the heave of her breasts as he leaned over her. They weren't bad for someone with such a toned body, pleasantly rounded, and just the right size, tipped with moderately large brown nipples.

He kissed her throat, running his mouth down to her cleavage, and then allowing his lips and hands to explore Zarenis's breasts, lightly squeezing them, kissing and sucking as she gasped in pleasure. His free hand ran down her side, gripping a buttock with the intention of moving round to undo her trews.

"No," she said sharply.

"No what?" he asked, puzzled, wondering what he'd done this time.

She was silent for a while, and then, "I'll do it."

He wasn't sure that was what she'd initially meant.

Nonetheless, she wriggled free of her trews, revealing a plain pair of cotton panties and deliciously strong looking thighs.

He pressed himself into her, cock now resting against cotton instead of leather, nestling in the curve of her loins. He kissed her shoulder and neck, running up to ears, brushing her brown hair aside as he rolled her over onto her side.

Zarenis gave him a growling purr in response, and added "that's nice."

She moved over onto her front as he moved his kisses to her shoulder and then down to her back, moving ever lower. Suddenly she stiffened, a gasp that sounded a little like panic rising from her lips.

What's the problem?" he asked, concerned now. If he didn't know what he was doing wrong, how could he know what to stop?

"I don't want you to see," she managed, the words seemingly torn from her throat, as she tried to lever herself up again, against the weight of his body atop hers.

"See what?"

"I just don't..." the words trailed off, and she turned her head to look at him, garnet eyes wide with some sudden fear.

He levered himself up off her, and looked over her back. What was there to see? Then his eyes wandered lower, to the only part of her still covered, and a suspicion began to rise in his mind.

"Oh," he said.

"I told you I was deformed," she said, face dropping back into the sheets, shoulders slumping dejectedly, desire all but vanquished.

"And I told you," he said, "that you aren't. You're just different."

Gently, and as carefully as he could, he pulled the tiefling's panties down, and saw just what he'd expected.

Zarenis had a tail.

It was a tiny one, barely more than a stub, perhaps an inch and a half in length. It was black and covered with a rubbery skin at odds with the pink flesh of her buttocks. It flared slightly at the tip into a flattened diamond-shape, and was clearly useless, vestigial, too small to be apparent when she was clothed.

"It doesn't make you ugly," he said, "it really doesn't." She gripped the sheets, refusing to look at him. "More importantly, it changes nothing."

He kissed her in the middle of her back, and then continued his motion lower, towards the top of her ass. He kissed the tail, lightly, and was surprised when it twitched, jerking slightly at his touch.

"See?" he said, softly, "it doesn't matter," and kissed it again.

"You don't mind?" she said, surprised, rolling over onto her back again, leaving his face now inches from her crotch. "You still want to...?"

"Goddess, yes," he replied, and with a cry, she pulled his head away from her hips, and into another passionate kiss.

He was lying on top of her, hands roaming her toned body feeling the muscles of her arms, thighs, and belly, her breasts pressed against his chest, her nipples unmistakably hard, firm points pressing into him. She was writhing beneath him, slowly and sensuously, legs wrapping around his, hands exploring his back, occasionally moving down to tightly grip his buttocks. As they kissed, mouths greedily pressed against each other, he felt the blunt tips of her horns rubbing against his forehead, a harshness contrasting with the texture of her skin that was only serving to further excite him.

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