"–and that the crops aren't tainted by necromancy," Alis finished her twin's sentence before reaching for a crystal flask containing the amber liqueur that was her shampoo. Managing a laugh, she said, "Well, at least the others must have been impressed when you blew it to oblivion with your awesome aptitude for arcane annihilation!"
The sudden impression of Tut having witnessed a cry of ecstasy brought a powerful flush to Alis' face and bust.
By the GODS, shut your eyes and cover your ears already!
Just barely maintaining the concentration necessary to keep her mirror aloft and the scrying spell active, Alis sat upright and began to massage a lather into her thick, golden tresses, thoughts lingering on the last time she had been witness to such carnal affairs. Eyes closed against the soap and bubbles, she asked, "So Mal didn't really work out. I decided to have him stay on the Shiv with Priyya and oversee that naval base I plan to build after the investment. What about you and Sir Elorin?"
An uncharacteristic growl of frustration escaped Alexis and a veritable wave of suds and water gushed everywhere, obscuring Alis' scrying sensor for a moment. "You would not believe what he did!"
As Alis blinked against the shampoo threatening to get in her eye, she shook her head at the sight of her shapely twin standing naked in her tub, shaking a loofah brush at her in one fist. "Alissariel Kirmoon... YOU are not allowed to participate in the selection of my retainers ever again. EVER!"
Alexis' eyes narrowed and she folded one arm beneath her breasts, resting the opposite elbow atop her hand and she wagged her brush in the air as if scoring all the affronts to both safety and sensibility. "...and the final affront was in nearly killing Rath, Biter, and I when he shot out one of its legs and very nearly dropped the zombiehemoth on us!"
"Good gods!" Alis exclaimed in disbelief as she turned the knob on her tub causing the spigot to elongate into a tall shower head. In a rain of warm water she began to rinse the lather from her hair, golden tresses reaching past the curve of of her buttox weighted as they were with water.
"So I take it you polymorphed him into a nice, harmless squirrel?"
"No, no," Alexis replied calmly, as she began to rinse off, her much shorter hair taking mere moments compared to her twin's, "you would have been proud of me, I was quite tactful. I took him aside, explained that I estimated his proclivity for action to be better-suited to more proactive responsibilities, and reassigned him as a principle member of my scouting team."
Sud-free and squeaky-clean, Alexis whisked a towel to herself with crook of a finger and began to pat her form dry. "I believe Ravarath shall prove more than capable at executive protection, wouldn't you agree?"
"Aah..." Alis nodded knowingly as she picked up another flask, this one containing a more viscous, pearlescent cream which she began working into her hair from roots to tip. "So Ravieoodlies is the one you're going to have looking after that little body of yours hmm? And here I thought to surprise you by having your favorite sea captain sail to your rescue. After all, what better way to mend a broken heart than to find true love in the arms of a ravishing royal beauty, right?"
Even as Alis winked and grinned, hugging her hands to her heart, Alexis glowered, no hint of laughter in her voice. "Please tell me you did not order Knight-Captain Traker to sail across the Boundless."
When Alis whistled innocently, eyes rolled toward the Heavens, and a finger on her chin, her slightly older sister, clenched her hands as if gripping Alis' shoulders to throttle her. "Recall him, Lissa, I mean it! We'll be fortunate to muster provisions sufficient to make it thru winter as it is. The last thing I need is another 300 mouths to feed, particularly since they shall arrive too late to aid in sewing additional fields!"
"Very funny, and no... no it would not make a difference. I am sorry, but not all of us are fortunate enough to have a year-round growing season."
With a sigh, Alexis looked into the scrying sensor whereupon she reached out with one hand as if to stroke Alis' cheek. "Don't worry about me, please. The situation here shall be challenging, but not nearly so much as the predicament you have found yourself in."
There was a flash of insight in Alexis' blue-violet gaze and she snapped her fingers. "Why did I not think of it sooner? Alissariel... if you are pressed for naval manpower, why not contact Traker for reinforcements? It would be Khoreth before he would arrive, but..."
For several moments, the two princesses laughed, enjoying the fact that they were teasing one another from opposite ends of Elsemar. At length, the wizardess pulled a pale blue tunic over her head and used a spell to begin lacing up a darker bodice overtop. "I must take my leave to attend yet another council meeting, but it was good to converse at such length, Lissa. I really do wish I could be there for the investment..."
"You shall have to teach me sometime," she answered, acknowledging her lack of expertise in such matters, "for now though, I must get underway. Being fashionably late is only fashionable when you enjoy seniority — I do not."
Touching her fingers to her lips, Alexis held them to her sister's scrying sensor even as Alis did the same. "Love you, 'Lis."
Setting the nigh priceless heirloom back in its case, the less curvy elf approached and offered a hand to assist her mistress out of the tub before wrapping Alis' nakedness in a thick, soft towel embroidered with her heraldry. "Your Highness, shall I send word to Prince Amthyrian informing him that it would be inadvisable to voyage to Wildethar with the solstice only a week off?"
Alis tipped her head to one side and shook her head, eyes closed as the dutiful woman began to massage the water from her. Given their similar training, she had little doubt that the loyal woman would take no offense if commanded to provide her with even more intimate care, but at least Tut had finally stopped filling her head with passionate emotions and he seemed to be of a more self-composed disposition.
"No, that won't be necessary," she said, picking up the basket holding her five little fennecs. Almost as an afterthought, she snatched with a cantrip a jar of fragrant skin balm which she laid to rest in Tiniel's hands. "I'll inform him myself, just... not tonight. I long for a good night's rest."
With that she walked over to the large, canopy bed, drawing aside the gauzy drapes with her magic in order to set Jasmine and her young to rest there beside her. Sighing as she reflected on all that tomorrow morning and perhaps all mornings from here forward would require, she allowed the towel to drop to the floor before laying atop the bed sheets, one hand lazily stroking Jasmine's soft, golden-white fur while the other propped up her chin.
After a few minutes of such valuable tranquility, she nodded at the jar Tiniel still held in dutiful silence before laying on her stomach and sweeping her hair aside. "Would you please?"
"Yes, your Highness," she said gently, "of course."
With that, Tiniel began to massage the fine, light cream into her mistress' supple skin, stopping only when she realized the younger woman had not rolled only her back when asked because she had fallen asleep. Quiet as a mouse, she laid a diaphanous white robe over Alis' back before laying down next to her to keep her warm through the night.
Theme: Morning Muse
All across the city, dreams gave way to yawns as bells from the pantheon rang in the new day. In New Viamaré, in a private suite on the upper-most floor of the city's most exclusive nightclub, bare limbs were slow to disentwine, a statuette of a nymph serenading man, woman, demoness, and monkey alike. A mile further south, along the harbor, the bells of a departing ship accompanied the sensation of a pounding hangover and ache of having fallen asleep face-first on a beer-stained bar.
In a small house, near the south end of The Flats, it was the sound of a large warrior snoring softly, whetstone still in hand, that roused a woman who woke to her first morning as a knight. Not far away, it was a young guardswoman belting on her armor for her morning patrol that roused a pair of large black cats from their slumber, a familiar hand scratching behind their ears as they stretched.
Further north, within the high walls of Monument Green, it was the sensation of tiny, cream-colored fox kits nestling between mother and maiden that caused a Princess to awaken with a sigh of contentment. Last, but certainly not least, it was the feeling of a woman's finger's stroking the black hair of his chest that brought a stoic warrior out of dreams of hearth and kin. "Good morning, Sir," were the words that greeted him as he opened his eyes to the sight of a curvy dwarven woman hugging their bedsheets to her.
"Sleep well?" she asked.
Misssstresss...are you awake?
Grak's telepathic query had the effect of rousing Lureene from a pleasant slumber. Yawning and stretching her wings out, she sits up on one of the coushions strewn over the floor of their suite. She notes Arion and Sasha are both still asleep, cuddled closely together.
That was an AMAZING night! She reflects briefly before she turns her attention to her familair.
"Yes, Grak I am awake now. Did everything go smoothly last evening"
Yessss, mistressss. The Princessss took a bath and went to bed early.
"Ahh, good. Please let her know we will be returning later this morning."
As you wishhhh, misssstressss...
As she rises to her feet and grabs her dress which had been tossed on one of the divans (when had she taken it off...she did not remember). Her gaze lingered over Arion. Truly she had not met anyone quite like him before in her life. Unconsciously she fingered the wooden ring adorning her left ring finger.
How is Rath-hun doing? Does he still care for me? Will I ever see him again?
Sighing softly to herself, she finishes zipping up her dress and waits for her friends to awaken.
The elven-rogue rolled rapidly shoulder over shoulder until his face was near the foot of Lureene, whereupon he laid his head gently. Slowly rubbing between her legs with his ears and cheeks and nose he kissed his way upwards beneath her dress, massaging her leg with his hand.
When at last he emerged from beneath her skirts he spun around behind the enchantress, arms below hers, hugging her to himself. He kissed her neck from behind and rested his chin upon her shoulder while saying softly, "My only regrets are that duty calls soon - I must report to our wondrous benefactor in no more than a few hours - and that the same benefactor seems to have missing from her life the bliss we shared here. All of this feasting seems to me incomplete while someone, so clearly close to You both, went without. Especially when hers was one major contribution enabling our regalia. My heart longs to help You all, to accomplish Your callings, to hunt after Your needs."
In the ambience of early morning light Sasha's skin glowed. Arion felt like composing a song in sentimental celebration and kissed Lureene's neck and cheek again, asking,
"Where would You prefer to wash up? What would suit Your appetite for a breakfast? Shall we return at once to the Villa?"
As Arion's kissed and caressed her body, Lureene could not believe her body once again becoming aroused. How is this possible...he must know my body better than I!
She twists around and planted her lips on his own, kissing him passionately. After a few seconds, which pass like hours, she reluctantly broke the kiss off before she (again) lost control of herself.
She continued to hold him close to her, wrapping her wings around him and recalled a scene where Alis had nearly been swept off her feet by Lord Tyralor. She softly replied, "Even though she does not show it, I know Alis must be lonely as she is currently far from her home and her sister. That is why we need to support her as best we can."
She released Arion from her embrace, not trusting herself to maintain decorum here. She gently shakes Sasha awake as she replied, "Perhaps we can get a bath and breakfast here before we return to the Villa."
"Good morning, Sir," were the words that greeted him as he opened his eyes to the sight of a curvy dwarven woman hugging their bedsheets to her.
"Sleep well?" she asked.
His smile greets the morning and the dwarven beauty before him. Darvesch sits up, "Like a rock." He see's the days light shining through the window and his smile fades, "I didn't sleep too long, did I?" He shakes his head, "Ah, nevermind. Hey, you're not bad with a hammer. Is there anything you're not good at?" His smirk betrays his mischievousness.
He gets up from bed and starts to search the room for his armour, then pauses, "Huh.. I don't have any normal clothes.. do I?" A question to himself, but aloud nonetheless. "We have to fix that." He smiles at Greasha, "How about a morning out to breakfast, then some shopping?"
The night sky slowly receded from the coming dawn, stars winking out as black bled into purple and a riotous yellow and orange glow appeared in the distance. Clouds previously hidden revealed their presence, white underbellies now splashed with color.
Sleep had been long in coming to Amhranai and when it did, it was frequently interrupted, if only for a few moments at a time. Feels like I got no sleep at all. Pulling back the covers, she swung her feet over the side of the bed and crept to a screened off corner of her house. The soft clank of her breastplate touching down was followed by clothes draped over the top of the screen. A perfunctory wave of one hand filled a small tub with water and, grabbing a small chunk of soap, the elf set about hastily washing herself.
Refreshed, Amhranai drew on clean clothes followed by armor, weapon belt and cloak. Soft snoring caught her attention, eyes snapping to Karaka's sleeping form. Chin resting on his chest, the man's head seemed to be nodding as it rose and fell with each breath. A slight smile curved the woman's lips, gone a moment later when her gaze fell on the badge still lying on the table. Still there.
Moving just as quietly as before, the elf approached the table and picked up the badge. I guess we'll find out how much you're worth soon enough. Noise from outside broke into her thoughts. Muffled voices sounded in straining ears, but she was unable to determine how many there were. Visitors, those seeking healing, were nothing new, but these voices didn't sound like those she usually heard. The badge disappeared into a pocket as Amhranai made her way to the door, where she paused for a moment. No better than before, but they sound Dafiri. A new round of people to be healed or...?
Opening the door revealed a small gathering of Dafiri men and women. Towards the back of the crowd, she could see a few that looked to be injured, but those closest seemed well enough, however upset. Conversation stopped abruptly, the crowd, as one, turning their eyes on the priestess.
"Sooo, de new knight still has time f'r us, eh?" The speaker was a middle-aged man, dark hair showing hints of grey. A sickly sweet smile split his face. "Oohh yes, Miss Amhranai, we done heard all about what 'appened yesterday. Was it really dat easy t'sell us out?" Murmured ascent, mostly from male voices, followed the man's question closely. Some female voices joined as well, but most remained silent, expectant.
Amhranai's stomach twisted itself into a knot. Anger, embarrassment, sorrow bubbled so much she felt like screaming. Instead, she drew a deep breath and attempted to keep her voice level. "No, Drakarwa, I did not sell you out. I was offered knighthood to better continue fighting for the same things we've been fighting for these last few years. The new ruler felt that, as a sworn protector of all the people, I would be able to face disgusting people like Bonati and Gallo on more equal footing than before." She reached out to take Drakarwa's hand, who recoiled. A woman behind him promptly swatted the back of his head. "Please believe me, I'm trying to do what's best."
"You best lissen to Miss Amhranai, Dra-kar-wa. She ain't steered us wrong yet, why would she start now?" said the same woman who had struck the man a moment before. Her narrowed eyes bored into him, fists planted on hips.
Drakarwa returned the glare, but Amhranai didn't think there was much steel in it. "Thank you Adhiambo. I know it looks bad, but I truly believe we can accomplish much with the princess. All's I ask for is your trust and patie-" The elf's words were cut short as a hooded and cloaked form burst to the front of the crowd.
Startled yelps split the air, some out of surprise, others due to something else. Amhranai punched an arm forward, a blackened dagger piercing the chest of her assailant. Ribs cracked beneath her blade and hand with a familiar crunch. In spite of the blow, or perhaps because of it, the assailant's arm arced forward, blade flashing dully. Amhranai easily caught the arm with her free hand; there was very little force behind the movement.
The assailant's eyes widened, the rest of the face hidden by a blood-spattered cloth. Amhranai eased the body to the ground, those gathered swiftly stepping backwards. With practiced ease, the elf withdrew the blade and wiped it clean on the assailant's clothing. Dimly, she heard voices etched with pain sound out from the crowd, voices she ignored for the moment as she drew down the cloth. A man, human. Not Dafiri. Which one of my new friends sent this? The badge in her pocket dug into her thigh painfully. Didn't take long now, did it?
Amhranai's face bunched up in disgust as she straightened, sheathing her blade and looking at the crowd once more. He must have stabbed some people as he came for me. Kicking the body, the elf walked to the closest of the injured-Drakarwa-and knelt beside him. A thin slash opened his stomach, not deep but painful-looking all the same. "What do you think, Drakarwa, have I sold you out?"
A grimace turned into a smile. "I don' t'eenk so, Miss Amhranai, but we be keepin' our eyes on you." I should leave you there to bleed! The elf nearly did so, but instead healed the wound. From behind, she heard the shuffle of feet on her doorstep, shortly followed by Karaka's voice.
"You been busy wit'out me, I see."
Cast Cure Light Wounds
From out of nowhere, a half-eaten pomegranate struck Sasha upside the head, round seeds scattering to the incensed chattering of a highly irate monkey.
With teeth bared and eyes aglower, it pointed at the discarded blue dress that had been carelessly flung atop a nearby flower vase. Even as the huntress cocked her head in surprise, looking to the others, Tut shrieked again and began pelting the lot of you with peach stones, wine corks, and everything else that it could throw until laughing and screaming Sasha finally grabbed her dress and dove behind a couch for cover.
"Okay, OKAY! I'm up!"
Sheesh, and I thought Lissi could throw down!
After a few minutes of help getting her dress' integral corset laced back up, she frowned deeply at the angry monkey, blowing the hair out of her face as she snatched up the feathery bolero she'd been wearing to cover up her tattoo.
"There, happy now your majesty?"
Alis took and gave a slow exhale, the sensation of a few tiny fox kits nestled between her and their mother bringing a sublime smile to her face. Slowly, carefully, she eased backwards upon the otherwise empty bed, another figure giving way behind her as she moved.
As the unseen figure slipped out of the way, Alis turned, to find that it was not her lady-in-waiting, but rather the woman masquerading as her chamber-maid that had kept her company throughout the night. Not far away, the sound of Grak's shifting coils informed her that he too had never strayed far from her side.
Although the Princess paid no mind to being nude while Lureene or any of her female maid-servants were about, the same unmindful behavior struck her as somewhat inappropriate around Grak. True, he had seen his own mistress au natural countless times, but she couldn't help but feel that it was somehow unfair to him, like taunting a poor man with riches he could never himself enjoy. Without making a to-do about it, Alis simply rolled into a seated position, back to the eidolon, fingers knit together in front of one knee as she crossed her legs.
"We should have a few hours before we need to set out. Grak, did your mistress and Sasha return with Arion last night?"
"No, Princccessss," the opalescent serpent answered without any hint of perturbation, "Missstressss sssaysss they will return later thisss morning. Sssasha and the elf are ssstill with her at that placcce."
The small hairs on the back of Alis' neck stood on end as Grak seemed to... laugh!
"It ssseems hisss majesssty isss upssset. He ssstrikesss Sssasha with fruit and ssseedsss..."
Unable to help herself, Alis' forehead touched her knee, a light laugh escaping her.
Serves them right for having that much fun. I wonder if any of them will be able to walk straight today...
"Grak, tell your mistress there is an elven bath on the island. They might as well just go there and save themselves the trip back here. Arion seems resourceful if not astute, I'm sure he can find the way."
Even as she spoke, the Princess could feel Tiniel's gaze locked upon her, waiting.
Alis straightened up and looked down at herself, marks from the wrinkles in the bed sheets still visible upon the front of her chest and thighs.
"You already did my back?"
"You've already gotten the hard-to-reach spots then, I can finish up myself."
Slowly, the other woman nodded in understanding, an almost imperceptible slump of her shoulders accompanying the gesture. Alis dipped her chin and smiled gently, looking up at her with one eyebrow ever-so-slightly raised. "Lady Ourson is a good friend, but she does not dote on me nearly as much as you do, Tiniel. I was stranded on a hostile island for weeks without a masseuse or anyone to brush my hair, I'll manage just fine."
She leaned forward once more, and laid her head upon her arms as she wrapped them about her knees. "I'm glad you kept me company last night, thank you."
Alis merely smiled and shook her head slightly. "Just because someone acts according to their duty doesn't absolve them from expressions of gratitude you know."
Leaning backwards, she took up the jar of skin balm and began to smooth the lavender lotion into her arms and shoulders. "Please see if my cousin returned. If so, let him know that we have tea and a 'fitting' to attend at your mistress' residence at 4 o'clock this morning." Smirking slightly, she added "Please?" just to make the elf squirm a little more.
Oh Tin', you really do need to lighten up, don't you...
"Breakfast and shopping, huh?" Greasha planted a fist atop where the bedsheets draped over the curve of her hips. "I don't know, you drive a hard bargain, Sir. Why a girl–"
The sudden, insistent knocking on the door, accompanied by Tiniel's voice caused her to hesitate, grimacing slightly as she tried not to laugh. "Oh, he's better than decent," she whispered just loud enough to catch the other dwarf's attention.
With a shrug of her shoulders, she held up a hand to her new-found lover as if to say, 'All yours.'
Darvesch continues to rifle through what belongings he might have, trying to find something other than his armour to wear, and looks to Greasha and mutters, "Huh, I really don't have any clothes, do I?"
Trying not to lose his cool at the sudden interruption, he calmly responds, "What did you want, Tiniel?"
Lureene covered her mouth with her hand as she watched the antics of King Tut. I had nooo idea we were soooo....WILD earlier... Even the thought of the events previous started to bring a flush to her cheeks.
Still holding onto Arion's hand, she gives him a warm smile. "Thank you soooo much Arion for showing US a wonderful time! I hope we might get the chan--" Her voice stops suddenly as her attention is drawn through her link to her faithful eidolon. She raised her gaze skyward as she lapsed into her silent communication with Grak.
After a moment, she nodded softly and murmered "Very well Grak, I will tell the others of this change of plans. Tell 'Lis we will meet her there."
She straightened up and turned to face Arion. Her eyes glimmering mischievously she questioned, "Ari, do you happen to know where the Elvish Bathhouse is?"
As he quickly dressed, Arion asked,"Change of plans? If we are to meet the Princess elsewhere, yes I remember the map of a most intriguing location in the Elvish Quarter. I would like to explore the House of the Muse and ask questions of some of the priestesses if there remains time for such. At the least it would bring us nearer to other key locations which concern myself. It seems that You and Sasha would enjoy the visit. Before we go, it seems our simian potentate has summoned the very person I should thank and bid farewell, who might be approaching as we speak."
He hugged Lureene warmly, kissed her forehead then walked to the door while tying the front of his shirt and his cuffs. He opened the door to see who might be about in the outer room.
Before Arion could answer, a familiar figure appeared just outside the open doorway, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Now dressed in a long, burgundy silk robe with a thick, satin collar, Sareth gave a short bow, one hand covering a yawn, before casting a message spell to bypass the sanctum effect.
L 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14 alertness
S 1d20 + 12 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 12 + 2 = 34 urban
Arion stepped through the doorway, jacket over one arm, holding his accessories, and greeted the proprietor heartily, saying, "Noble Antirel! We do appreciate Your stirring from morning occupations to allow us bid You farewell, for now. We depart soon. Some questions for You, Sir. I trust Your perspicacity matches Your hospitality, as it is our intention that You be a guest of honour at the sumptuous reception following the imminent ceremony publicly initiating our new Vicereine. Shall we address the official invitations to this location? Shall we include two guests of Your choosing to attend, at Your own discretion?"
"The vicereine's reception?" Sareth repeated to himself, his tone dreamlike.
He gave a short laugh, a crooked smile coming to his face as he shook his head in mild disbelief. When he looked up, he had a genuine smile on his face, nodding as he answered, "Yes, yes that sounds ideal actually. I would be honored to attend such an affair and two guests... why I shall give the matter quite careful consideration, I assure you!"
Although the man still seemed tired from the night prior, there was now an unmistakable energy about him that was lacking when he first arrived at your door. "Oh and yes, The Keg shall do just fine. My personal apartment is located here, after all."
Still somewhat dazed by such an unhoped-for boon, there were a few moments of silence before he remembered himself and asked, "Is there anything else I can provide for you this morning, my friends?"
Sasha merely shrugged at whatever it was that Arion had just said and added, "Yeah, thanks for the drinks and stuff last night, this is a pretty nice place you've got here, Stretch! See you soon."
With that, she hooked her arm with Lureene and followed after Arion.
I can't wait to see what an elvish bath house is like!