Sufferance Ch. 07byEtaski©
Author's Notes: This story is erotic fantasy written by Etaski. I reserve the right to be listed as the author of this story, wherever it is posted. If found posted anywhere except Literotica.com with this note attached, this story is posted without my permission. © Etaski 2012
The story so far heavily references both "Sisterhood" and "Subterrane" and is continued.
Please be warned this chapter contains more graphic details of gender violence than is typical.
"Let her see you."
What? After all these months of staying hidden? My Elder had to be playing.
Yes, well, it went without saying that she was playing at something. It could send my thoughts in such circles the times when D'Shea wouldn't explain her motive; she'd only give the simplest instruction and I must find a way to carry it out. The thing of it was that while the order was simple, the results never were, and she watched every choice that I made.
"Let her see you," indeed. And then what? Talk to the pitiful merchant? Vanish again, leaving the Noble paranoid and bewildered? What next? How would I be evaluated? How would I know if I had failed or succeeded in what my Elder wanted if she wouldn't say? Did she even want anything in particular?
When I stopped chasing my tail, I would remember the value in the contrast between our field leaders. D'Shea wasn't like Rausery, and vice versa. Truly, thank Lolth for that.
Of course, Rausery would often give a reason for her order, and the selected Sister's own failure or success determined the Elder's response to her report. The results were more short-term and even tangible. It was refreshingly clear after wading through murky intrigue for months in and out of D'Shea's quarters.
I had been loaned to Rausery twice so far, as D'Shea had suggested I would be. While the Elder did give me tasks—far more direct than D'Shea's and on shorter time-circles—I was still able to observe how she directed her subordinates.
She saw to most of the actual actions for the Sisterhood, made sure we carried out those directives handed down from the Prime or Priestess or Valsharess: assassination, theft or retrieval, patrols. She also saw to—believe it or not—efficient logistics, our taking turns gathering supplies and maintaining weapons within the cloister, because we would not use any servant to do either for us.
Rauery had made the comment that D'Shea stayed in her bath far too often playing with herself, but it was with an odd tone that I didn't understand. It wasn't pure derision; more a bit of an eye-roll, but holding a degree of amusement and...tolerance?
Unlike my Elder, she'd actually answered when I asked about it.
"We each have our roles," the general Elder said. "D'Shea is the strategist, I am the tactician. If we were in a boat, she might not see a water worm right in front of her for looking so far down the tunnel. But the water worm is my job anyway, while getting us into the positions we need to be is hers."
I took the obvious opening. "In what positions do we need to be?"
We were in one of the smaller armories cleaning weapons at the time, first because Rausery had said she wanted to make sure I had been trained right. Given how many more weapons she had cleaned, re-sighted, mended, and organized than me, I thought she just hated to be bored.
"Ask me again in seven cycles," she said. "The answer will be different."
I let a moment pass. "If the direction is constantly changing, then why bother with long-term strategy—?"
"It's just like the Houses scrabbling over a number," Rausery said in a gruff voice, raising a brow and giving me a mildly annoyed look. "You're a former Noble and formerly of the Court. You can't tell me you don't get why we have to be ready, to be on top of things all the time."
I nodded, glad for the second opening. "You're correct, Elder, I do. But are we only just reacting to what they do to keep them under control? Do they determine the pace and the direction?"
Rausery grinned broadly and surprised me with the sinister gleam in her crimson eyes, pointing one of the larger crossbow pistols at the wall and looking down the sight. "Not even close."
"The Priestesses, then?" I suggested in order to keep her talking long as possible.
"Somewhat," Rausery grunted.
"Only somewhat, Elder? The representatives of Lolth's very will?"
Rausery's smirk confirmed for me that this particular quality did not impress her overmuch. "What do you think our Valsharess does, novice? Sit on her throne all day nibbling mushroom cakes at glory parties?"
I shrugged, smiling a little. "I've barely seen her or heard her speak."
"She's Lolth's Chosen. She represents all powers down here, House, Priesthood, Sisterhood, the mages and the Tower."
"And what does she want for the Drow, Elder?"
Rausery honed an entire short sword before she answered, not looking at me but I could see she was thinking about it. When she did answer, it was one of her truthful ones meant to train me more quickly than D'Shea's more obtuse methods did at times.
She said, "To keep them uninterested in exploring the Surface."
I felt a small shock at the answer though I wasn't sure why, because the next instant I realized that she was right. While growing up I had heard stories only of warning or derision about the Surface; I knew of no caravans or trading coming this far down or ours going that far up. It was too dangerous, too alien, and too risky. Fear without appearing to be fearful; just be powerful where we were, with what we already did so well.
"You mentioned being Surface-captive once," I ventured, looking up briefly from the bow I was restringing. "The first time you had me. You said that you'd seen how I took cock and knew I could survive it. It's a risk, then?"
She half-smiled and looked at me. "D'Shea still hasn't told you. Tell her to get on it already."
I had expected something like that. I shrugged. "We've been focusing on something else lately. About the Duergar."
There wasn't any particular reaction to the mention of the grey dwarves, but she looked interested. "Really."
I smiled. "I'll trade you."
The Elder snorted. "You'll tell me if I want you to."
"Maybe not, you know how Elder D'Shea is. And you want me to know something about the Surface anyway. I'm offering, Elder."
"If you wanted to kiss my ass, novice, I'd let you without the pretty words."
I felt a flush at the thought; at least one memory involved more than kissing. "I know, Elder. And I would. But would you accept a trade anyway?"
She barely paused on that one, giving me a wry, amused smile. "I accept. You go first."
I set down the finished bow carefully and came to her, whispering very quietly in her ear. We were very close, our sides and arms touching, and I felt her right palm slide and come to rest on my thigh.
I told her a slightly modified version of my run-in with the psionic dwarf—more focused on the fact that we had been mind-locked for a fair bit of time than on the sex— and that I still had some useful intelligence inside my brain but that it required a magic-user like the Priestess or a mage to get at it. I did not mention the Feldeu being in the equation at all.
"Interesting," she said. "So that's one of the things she'd been up to lately."
I leaned back straight again, smiling, and I felt Rausery's hand slide farther up to cup my sex as she turned suddenly to look me directly in the eyes. She gripped me harder and I had to good sense to keep my legs open to her in spite of the discomfort and paid rapt attention to her next words.
"Of course I know you're leaving something out," she said huskily. "There's a reason that information is locked and you aren't speaking Dwarvish right now."
I didn't reply but kept watching her and feeling the tips of her fingers curl up against the leather of my pants.
She continued. "But...given that it was your bargain, it's only fair."
Which meant, if I read the comment right, that she had left plenty out in anything she had ever told me. But I already knew that as well. We did understand each other. Elder Rausery was not a difficult one to work with so long as you were competent and used the head on your shoulders as she expected of you.
"Soon, Elder," I murmured just as I felt her fingers soften against my sex. "You'll know. D'Shea just wants a solution first, she hasn't found it so it's useless now."
Rausery nodded, beginning to massage me instead with her hand. "Magical research is her realm. I only use magic as a tool, which means someone else comes up with the spells."
It was similar for me. I nodded my understanding, relaxing a little more under her slow, firm touch. If she kept it up, I would be aroused. I needed to remind her while I could still think: "So what is it Elder D'Shea hasn't told me yet about the Surface?"
"Ma'ab," Rausery said brusquely, low and deep in her chest.
I blinked; I did not even understand the word. It was not a Drow word.
"Conquerors," she said, as if it lifted the black cover off of the name and gave it a full reveal. "A race that has been growing stronger on the Surface lately. They are essentially Humans although we think they are a cross-breed of some kind."
I still did not reply because I could not think why we would care. Rausery saw it in my expression and chuckled.
"They are like us, Sirana. The Ma'ab. Led by a Queen-Priestess-Mage like our Valsharess, though their strength of force is in their Men. They are often twice as large as the Women. Probably the most dangerous race on the Surface right now. Their methods rival ours in creativity, but with less control. They take few prisoners, and we have the stronger magic and longer experience."
I let the quiet gather in the room until I could form a question as she continued touching me. "And we have been watching them...why?"
"Many of the other Surface races are much more passive, or do not match the Ma'ab in brutality. They are slowly being overrun."
I felt a prick of impatience in spite of my ears feeling twice as large as I listened to her. Again, why would we care? Being overrun was what happened when a creature was too weak to defend its territory.
I felt very thick for a moment and grasped for a reason. "Would they come down into the Underdark?"
"Perhaps, given enough time," Rausery said, although she didn't sound concerned, finally withdrawing her gloved hand and bringing it up beneath her nose to inhale my scent quietly. "They may burn themselves out long before that happens. Most Human empires sputter out before reaching even three centuries."
"If that is so, why have we been watching them?"
I could tell now that Rausery was enjoying this slow feed and I kept tenacious hold on my patience. When I didn't say anything particularly amusing, Rausery's smile relaxed and she looked more serious.
"They took one of ours, not long before you were born I believe."
"A Red Sister?" I felt a surge of outrage but kept it in check.
Rausery shook her head. "A Priestess. An ambush. They didn't know what she was but got lucky capturing her alive. I've been told she's long dead but the Ma'ab learned things from her that would have taken them centuries to discover otherwise. Their stories only call her The Dark Sorceress."
I was dumbfounded. "Priestesses go to the Surface?"
"Very occasionally. We are usually the escorts. This was a secret outing that went very badly and it was unveiled. If the Red Sisters had been there, it might not have happened. The Valsharess was not pleased."
I nodded slowly in full agreement. And this was recent history; less than a century ago. It was affecting my life directly. And none of the Houses even knew.
"Ma'ab," I tried the name on my tongue.
She nodded. "A coarse language. The trade language on the Surface is easier to learn. It has traces of Elvish roots in it."
I could reasonably think then that I would be learning it at some point; I took it as a given.
"What do we plan to do against the Ma'ab?" I asked, my mind thinking back for the first time since I'd dreamed it to the reverie vision I'd had: The dark-skinned elf silhouette standing in front of the Sun; the dagger dripping red sand before biting deep into my belly and dissolving my soul...
Rausery shook her head. "Not getting into that right now, novice, so don't try."
I closed my mouth and accepted that we'd finished the information exchange in spite of the fact that she'd just sent a huge part of my life's assumptions into a whirlpool. She and D'Shea still had that in common. At least I knew a great deal more now than I did some moments ago.
"We need to remember our roles," Rausery said, as if contemplating. "We are strongest then. A commoner isn't a Noble, a crafter isn't a mage. A Priestess isn't a Red Sister." She glanced at me with a smirk. "And a novice isn't an Elder."
Point conceded. I lowered my head and eyes a little though I still challenged her a little. "But a novice with potential and desire to learn."
The Elder chuckled and shook her head, looking at me with more heat in her eyes. "Mm-hm. This eve I'm sure you'll desire to learn more how to pleasure me with those talented lips of yours, before offering me the potential in your warm, tight holes, am I right?"
Well, yes. There was always that.
Now, having been sent back to House Itlaun by D'Shea soon after my return from Rausery's service, I drifted carefully around the plantation for some time. It was my Elder's most vague mission yet. As far as I understood, I just had to catch Curgia alone and let her see me. And then....?
Better if I didn't start comparing and contrasting the two Elders' methods again. Just focus, practice my trade, and listen to inspiration and insight. I would know more after I left this area; I had trust in that, because I had trust in myself.
"If you didn't at this point, you would be following a Lead, Sirana," D'Shea had commented after quizzing me about all the solitary work.
That I had faith in myself and my abilities had been my answer to her.
I knew I didn't want to follow a Lead, not even Jaunda. Rausery had been right in her evaluation as I'd hung chained to her wall: though I could adapt, I wasn't at my best in groups.
House Itlaun had a garden with secret places deeper within clustered growth, which I had to think were included deliberately. It was not easy to find a spot that few household servants visited at least once in a cycle. It was interesting that nearly all of those places visited unveiled either trades or trysts but few actual plots; all were short-term, materialistic, and the immediate satisfaction of some flash of want.
I had decided after a few cycles that the servants here were more or less content here and this was how they played, whether they believed they were truly unobserved or not. There was a certain wisdom to the Matron allowing "secret" bargaining in a controlled area. Even domestic pets needed to scratch their claws against the something sturdy to keep them healthy and clean.
I thought about Auslan and Shyntre here and there as I waited three cycles before Curgia came into the garden alone. The Consort was just inside the plantation's residence and I'd even glimpsed him once through a partly-covered window. He was the reason I hadn't gone inside to seek Curgia: because going inside was exactly what I wanted to do.
Shyntre, on the other hand.... I was in no big hurry to return to him. Callitro had to be given time to recover and decide what he thought of our experience, and then he had to deal with what the other wizards thought of him. My returning frequently, or too soon, would make my interest in the younger wizard, and my interest in Shyntre, seem too intense, too impulsive. It would not help the Sisterhood's reputation, and I rather enjoyed the thought of Shyntre waiting a sizable stretch, wondering when I'd come after him again.
Not if. When.
He would notice he was missing his blue pendant. I'd taken to wearing it around my neck on a thread of leather long enough to slip beneath my armor and rest between my breasts. It was a nice, constant reminder.
I couldn't dream too much about the males, though, even sitting around in a garden. I was on a mission. I thought this place would be perfect in which to be seen and perhaps to disappear again. At long last, my patience paid off.
I held still when I saw Curgia go into one of the back cloisters and duck down. My ears detected the working of a small mechanism and I didn't think it was the lock of a secret door or a hatch. I was already moving forward silently, concerned I'd somehow lose track of her, when I heard her gasp in pain just before she dropped something on the soft ground.
Now I could see her form in the dark, swirls of her life's light helping her stand out from the ever-present radiation of the land. She was hunched over, her knees spread wide beneath a plainer gown bunched around her mid-thighs. The gown was far too generous for me to be able to see any tell-tale bump in her abdomen. Something cylindrical was lying in the dirt.
She cursed Lolth and one Priestess in particular, a blasphemy amazingly similar to one I recalled using when I'd awoken in the wilderness with my insatiable hunger eating at me. I heard the despair in her voice.
She was not handling her condition well, then; she had not rebounded against the circumstances.
*Let her see you.* This seemed a good time, when she was vulnerable.
I tested myself in how quietly I could slip forward, slipping from the foliage to crouch in a squat near to her, my fingers threaded together and my stance one of a predator considering whether to pounce or not, not yet coiled to spring. My cloak and cowl broke up my outline, hid much of my own energy, and only someone looking directly at me would make out my face. My expression was placid, observing and neutral.
When Curgia sniffed and picked up the tool again, trying unsuccessfully to flick the dirt and grit from it, she sat down on one hip and I could see half of her very unhappy face. She'd shifted just enough to catch me in her peripheral vision and she reacted quickly, turning her head and wrenching herself around to see who or what was beside her.
I saw wide eyes and the searing flash of the flight response pass through her body, except she was frozen, she couldn't move. I could smell the sour pulse of fear and wondered whether she would loose her bladder as well.
"Y-you heard me, didn't you?" she whispered, her hand partially obscuring her mouth.
"Perhaps." I gestured to the tool in her hand. "What ill-begotten gnome told you that would work? You're too far along, and more likely to cause a hemorrhage you cannot stop in trying to do it yourself."
She glanced at it as if having to remember why she'd brought it, then she swallowed. I could see her body quivering. "A-are you hear to kill me?"
I tilted my head at her tone. "Do you want me to?"
She gripped the womb-scraper tighter in her hand and tendons stood out on her neck. She shook her head uncertainly before she hesitated again.
"Is that a yes or no?"
She opened her mouth but no sound came out; I was guessing she didn't really know and couldn't think well enough to answer me. In the wilderness or amongst the Sisters, she would already be dead. That didn't make me want to kill her, though, only think less of her.
"Have you thought whether the Priestess herself wants the hybrid in your belly?" I asked casually.
In revealing that I knew her secret I had to give her time to get over her shock. But not a lot. I cut her off with a gesture at the first "How did you know—?"
She obeyed and bit off her question.
"Well?" I asked again.
Curgia blinked and took too long to answer for anyone I'd consider reliably useful, but at least she did answer simply. "No, Red Sister. I haven't thought. She...just wanted to clog up my womb with this...thing. So I couldn't be blessed by the Consort's seed before my sister."