The Tale of a Mage (part 26)

From the moment the sea serpent skewered the boat Drucilla knew a further clash with the beast would prove fruitless. The vessel was in pieces like delicate china which had been misguidedly entrusted to a spirited infant. Specifically, it was in two pieces but keeping that detail vague would make for a better story, Drucilla decided. The priority now was to reach land. The fate of the serpent was unimportant. Any experienced sailor knew engaging a sea serpent was foolish. Drucilla enjoyed reaping glory from a skilfully spun tale. She did not have a death wish. Livia, however, appeared committed to revenge. That suited Drucilla just fine. The more Livia stabbed at the angry reptile, the more enraged it would become, and the more it would hone its attention on her. A distracted serpent meant an easier escape for Drucilla. When she shared this story with naïve land dwellers she would, of course, put herself in Livia’s role but right now it was time to bail.  With one last sigh in lament of the loss of her boat Drucilla dove gracefully into the water.

As she had expected the serpent paid her little attention as it roared and snapped at Livia. Drucilla smirked slightly, Livia was certainly predictable. She took a deep breath to calm the remainder of her nerves and began to swim in the direction of land. She should probably feel bad for abandoning the others, she mused to herself. She didn’t. Many years as a pirate had taught her too much investment in the interests and wellbeing of others only led to trouble. Drucilla had two priorities in life, keeping herself alive and acquiring personal wealth. Well, maybe three priorities. Drucilla had an extremely strong fondness for rum… and mead… and wine. Involving herself in pointless combat to temporarily preserve the lives of her travel companions did not fit into her life plan. Particularly not when the aforementioned companions would likely drown promptly even if by some miracle her heroic efforts didn’t result in her joining them as sea serpent food.

Drucilla directed all her attention and energy to the one task, making it to the shore. Having spent the majority of her adult life, and a fair portion of her childhood, at sea Drucilla was a strong swimmer. The distance between herself and her destination, however, was excessive even for her. That did not deter her from taking on the challenge. When it came to her own survival Drucilla was a paragon of determination. She paced herself and pushed all other thoughts from her mind. It was just hers and the water, the kick of her feet, one arm ploughing through the water and then the other. Her focus remained in the moment. When her energy began to wane she told herself just once more, when the movement was completed once more again. Her head pounded and her body ached but she pushed on. She continued like this until she felt her fingers scrape sand. With a chuckle of relief, she relaxed and allowed the waves to carry her the rest of the way to the beach.

Drucilla lay on the sand and allowed the water to lap against her body. She might be stuck on an uncharted island but she was alive. Life had taught her there was a solution to every predicament. She just had to find it. Later, she would find it later. For the moment, a nap was in order. The sensation of the sand beneath her and the water caressing her skin faded as she drifted into a dreamless sleep.

Drucilla awoke spluttering as a wave washed over her. It would appear the tide had crept in while she slept. She shot up to a sitting position coughing up water. Once she could breathe comfortably again she pulled herself to her feet with a groan. Her muscles were stiff and her throat was raw.  Her stomach growled loudly. She reached into her pocket before remembering she left her rum on the boat. She let out a dramatic sigh. Her stay on this island was going to be far more disagreeable than she had initially anticipated. She needed to find a way to get back to sea and more importantly back to where she could acquire more rum. Unfortunately, food and water needed to be her first priority.

She wandered the beach and was pleased to quickly come upon a cluster of coconut trees. With great effort, she pulled her aching body up the trunk of the nearest tree, plucked a coconut, then slid back down to the ground. Picking up a sharp rock she cracked the coconut open with relative ease, it wasn’t the first time she had done this. She would still need to locate fresh water and a larger variety of food sources if she ended up stuck here for a lengthy period of time, but for the moment the coconut was sufficient. She sated her hunger and thirst before setting off to explore the island.

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The Tale of a Mage (part 25)

Silence stretched out and Nyx held her breath in anticipation of a wrathful outburst. Livia, however, looked more tired and defeated than angry.

“Fine” she sighed “I guess it doesn’t really matter now that she’s most likely dead.”

“No!” Nyx’s voice boomed through the trees. “Do not say that! She’ll be okay. They will all be okay!”  Livia looked unconvinced but if Nyx was being honest she was trying to convince herself more so than Livia. They slipped back into an uncomfortable silence

“Never imagined my destiny was to end up stuck on a deserted island with such poor company.” Livia muttered under her breath. Nyx bristled. She was about to respond with a sarcastic retort but thought better of it. Given that Livia seemed to have temporarily lost her bite this was the perfect opportunity to interrogate her about the reasons for her less than amicable behaviour.

“Why do you hate me so much? What have I ever done to deserve this attitude from you?” Nyx glared at Livia, the volume of her voice steadily increasing as her rant continued “I know you’re capable of kindness. You’re always nice to Cassandra. Seriously, what is your problem with me?”

“You tried to kill me!” Livia bellowed in response.

“Don’t use that as an excuse!” Nyx trembled with rage “You hated me long before that. I only tried to kill you because of the way you treated me. I have never done anything to you that wasn’t in direct response to something you did to me! Do you expect me to believe you hate me because I was a bit rude to you when you tried to capture me? Because I tried to escape? We both know you wouldn’t be cooperative if a bounty hunter tried to capture you! So why? I want a proper answer.”

“Well, to be fair, I didn’t try to capture you. I did capture you.” Livia smirked evading the question. Unthinkingly Nyx took a step forward and slapped Livia hard across the face.

A tingle of dread crept down Nyx’s spine as she realised her mistake. Livia’s face was the picture of incredulity as if she couldn’t quite believe Nyx didn’t know better by now. They remained frozen staring at one and other in a shocked silence for several moments. Livia’s eyes began to narrow. Nyx snapped herself out of her horrified stupor and attempted to dart out of reach. Livia, however, was faster and caught her wrist, yanking her forward.

Nyx let out a string of curses as she toppled over Livia’s lap. Livia’s hand descended landing on her bottom with a loud crack. Nyx responded with a piercing shriek thrashing from side to side in an attempt to break free of Livia’s hold. The one smack hadn’t really hurt enough to justify such a dramatic reaction but Nyx was in a combative mood. Livia settled into a brisk rhythm, spanking Nyx hard and fast, leaving no inch of her bottom unsmacked. Nyx continued to struggle and curse but her efforts were in vain. Livia’s uncompromising palm continued to find its target without error. The longer Livia spanked the more genuine Nyx’s squeals became but she was too angry to give in, certainly too angry to cry.

“Solving your problems with violence? How true to character.” Nyx snapped.

“Oh?” Livia smirked spanking Nyx with increased force. “And would you not define slapping someone across the face as violence?”

“You deserved that!” Nyx retorted.

“And you deserve this.” Nyx yelped as a sharp slap landed on her thigh.

“I don’t deserve this!” Nyx shouted “I have never deserved this! You’re an ogre. No wonder Drucilla didn’t want to marry you.” Abruptly, the spanking stopped. Livia dumped Nyx on the ground with a growl and stalked off into the trees. Nyx sat on the ground catching her breath as Livia retreated. Had she just found a way to get herself out of spankings or was Livia simply looking for an implement with which to fully demonstrate her displeasure at Nyx’s comment? Nyx was unsure. She contemplated finding a place to hide in case it was the latter but Livia would probably find her if she wanted to and Nyx was tired. She settled instead for taking another nap.

When Nyx awoke Livia had returned. Nyx sat up eying her with apprehension, preparing herself to flee, however, Livia made no move towards her.

“When we were together I always treated Drucilla well.” Livia’s voice was softer than usual. Nyx rolled her eyes. “You remind me of her…” Livia took a deep breath. “That’s my problem with you. You remind me of her.”

“Are you serious?” Nyx felt herself getting angry again. “That’s so unfair.”

“Well, I was right wasn’t I?” Livia snapped “You find her stories about the end of our relationship so very funny…”

“Only because you’re such an awful person.” Nyx cut her off “If it had been anyone else I would have been sympathetic.” There was a long pause before Livia spoke again.

“You were right.” Livia’s voice was barely above a whisper.

“Um, what?” Nyx was sure she couldn’t have heard that correctly.

“I said you were right” Livia spoke more clearly this time. “You never deserved to be treated the way I treated you.” Nyx remained silent confusion marking her features. Perhaps those coconuts had hallucinogenic properties she pondered to herself. Livia sighed and tried again. “What I’m trying to say is I’m sorry.”

The Tale of a Mage (part 24)

Splinters of wood flew in all directions as the small boat cracked in half. Nyx could just make out Cassandra’s scream through the chaos. She gripped the edge of the boat to prevent herself from toppling into the water as her side of the vessel began to tip. The attack passed in a blur. Nyx was vaguely aware of Livia shouting, her sword drawn. Magic crackled at Izzy’s fingertips, her expression fixed in determination. Cassandra, like Nyx, was clinging desperately to the side of the boat, panic marking her features. Drucilla simply dove into the water and began swimming towards land, barely visible on the horizon.

Nyx was unsure how long she spent clutching the side of the boat. It couldn’t have been very long but it felt like an eternity. At some point, the serpent had struck Livia with the tip of its tail sending her hurtling into the ocean. Nyx shuddered. While she hadn’t expected to reach old age, not in light of her lifestyle choices, she had not expected it to end like this. Being eaten alive was not at the top her list of preferred deaths.  She squeezed her eyes shut waiting for sharp teeth to tear into her flesh but they didn’t come. As the boat sank, clinging to its side became unfeasible. Nyx opened her eyes for long enough to locate a floating plank of wood to grab onto before closing them again.

Nyx did not open her eyes again until the pandemonium of the fight receded to silence. When she did, she noticed she had drifted a fair distance away from the wreckage. The sea serpent was nowhere to be seen. She could make out the remains of the boat, some parts still above the water, however, she couldn’t determine whether any of the others were present amongst the wreckage. She let out a miserable sigh and closed her eyes again. Drowning would be better than being eaten she supposed.

Hours passed and the sun set. Nyx drifted in and out of sleep never letting go of her plank. During her waking moments, feelings of despair overwhelmed her. She was hungry, thirsty, and cold. Her whole body ached. Questions about Cassandra’s fate rose in her mind and a sense of guilt and dread enveloped her. She tried to tell herself her sister would be fine. Izzy was a powerful mage, surely she would not allow any harm to come to Cassandra. It didn’t help. She should have done more, should have tried. Cassandra was her little sister. It was her responsibility to protect her and she had failed. Goddess knows what might be happening to her right now, if she was even alive. When the sun rose in the morning she was much closer to land. Mustering what little energy she had left Nyx let go of the plank and swam in the direction of the shore.

When Nyx reached the shore, she collapsed onto the sand. She lay there for a long moment catching her breath. She couldn’t quite believe she had made it through the ordeal alive. She must be alive she reasoned. This didn’t feel like the afterlife. The sun beat down on her and grains of sand stuck to her body. Her eyes stung, her head throbbed, and her skin was uncomfortably dry. Her parched throat burned and her stomach growled loudly. She needed to find food, water, and shade. Water first though. With great effort, she pulled herself to a sitting position and glanced up and down the beach. A couple of hundred metres away a figure lay motionless.

On unsteady feet, Nyx made her way in the figure’s direction. As she got closer it became apparent the figure was Livia. For a moment, she considered leaving her as she was but decided against it. She had no idea where she was or how long she would be here. The presence of someone she knew would be to her benefit, even if it was Livia. She made it across the remaining stretch of sand and knelt down to lean over Livia. She was unconscious but breathing. Nyx let out a sigh of relief. If Livia was alive the others might be too. She took hold of Livia’s shoulders and dragged her in the direction of the tree line inch by inch. She took many breaks along the way as she was exhausted and Livia was heavy.  At last, they reached the trees and Nyx lay Livia in the shade.

She set out in search of food and water and was pleased to find several coconut trees close to the spot she had left Livia. She didn’t even have to find a way to harvest them as several had fallen to the ground. She picked up two, one for herself and one for Livia, when she woke up, and then headed back. It took her several minutes of smacking the coconut with a rock before she managed to crack it open. She drank all the milk she had managed not to spill and then ate a bit of the flesh before lying down a couple of metres away from Livia to take a nap.

When Nyx awoke it was dusk. She glanced over at Livia and noted with some apprehension she was now awake. She appeared to have helped herself to the coconut Nyx had brought for her and was now staring intently at her a quizzical look marking her features.

“I’m surprised you didn’t kill me.” Livia’s voice broke the silence. “You had ample opportunity.”

“There was no point.” Nyx shrugged “You were unconscious, you wouldn’t have even known it was happening. If I kill you I want you to know it was me.”  There was a long silence during which Livia continued to stare at Nyx her expression unreadable. Nyx took a deep breath. “We’re even now.” She returned Livia’s stare. “It’s my fault your gold was stolen and it’s your fault we were attacked by a sea serpent. I will not be paying back your gold and when we find Drucilla I’m telling her I’m not actually your girlfriend.”

The Tale of a Mage (part 23)

The first night Nyx had to sleep snuggled up to Livia was torturous. The heat of Livia’s body served as a reminder of her proximity. The feeling of her breath against the back of her neck made her cringe inwardly and a little bit outwardly as well. Nyx was grateful for the darkness which masked her reaction. For Nyx, sleep did not come easily that night. Livia, while also displeased by the sleeping arrangement, managed to drift off with relative ease. Nyx envied that.

As the days past feigning affection of Livia became easier. Nyx still abhorred Livia’s company but she became accustomed to it, better at hiding her true reactions behind a smile.  Cassandra was confused by the sudden change in Nyx and Livia’s relationship. Livia had cautioned Nyx not to share the nature of their ruse with the others. There was no guarantee they would cooperate were they told. Cassandra didn’t say anything but she cast them suspicious glances with some regularity. Izzy didn’t appear to consider the issue worthy of her concern. Either that or she was better at masking her confusion than Cassandra. Nyx wasn’t sure.

Nyx took every available opportunity to spend time with Drucilla. Not only did it serve as a convenient excuse to spend time away from Livia, she also enjoyed Drucilla’s company for its own sake. Her initial instincts had been right Drucilla was definitely her kind of person.

Nyx loved helping sail the boat. Drucilla was a good teacher and Nyx had learned quickly. Sometimes Drucilla would even leave her at the helm alone as she attended to other things. It was nice to be trusted that way. Livia didn’t trust Nyx to do anything alone and, while she wasn’t the type to openly say it, she suspected Izzy didn’t either.

When they worked together Drucilla would tell Nyx stories about her adventures as a pirate. She told her about the time she sneaked into the Troll King’s chambers and stole the royal jewels and the time she and her crew kidnapped an Orcish princess. Whenever Livia overheard she would roll her eyes and tell Nyx Drucilla was a liar. Nyx, however, didn’t care whether the stories were truth, exaggerations, or straight out lies. They were entertaining. Nyx’s favourite story was the one about Livia’s father’s warship. She never grew tired of hearing it and frequently asked Drucilla to retell it, particularly when Livia was within hearing range. Livia hated that story. Drucilla was always happy to oblige and managed to add a new embellishment every time she told it.

Drucilla made it her mission to assist Nyx with advice about Livia. She told her all about Livia’s love of cats, emphasising that ginger ones were her favourite, just in case Nyx got stuck on anniversary gift ideas. She explained that Livia had an irrational fear of crabs. Nyx decided to keep that information in mind for later. She even shared, in a whisper, that Livia enjoyed being bitten in bed. Nyx had blushed profusely at that. She would have preferred not to have that knowledge. Ever since she had been unable to get the image out of her head.

Today had dawned a beautiful day. Everyone was on deck enjoying the sun. Cassandra stood at the edge of the boat staring into the water, Izzy was stretched out taking a nap, and Livia sat sharpening her sword. Nyx and Drucilla both sat near the helm sharing a bottle of rum. They passed it back and forth between themselves as Drucilla told yet another story. This time it was about the time she had climbed out a young queen’s window after an intense night of lovemaking only to discover, upon reaching the street, that she had forgotten to put her clothes back on. Nyx giggled almost choking on her mouthful of rum.

“Um… I think there might be a problem.” Cassandra’s voice interrupted her giggling fit.

“What is it?” Drucilla looked up at her.

“I think you should come have a look.” Nyx’s laughter died down as she noticed how pale her sister’s face was. Drucilla and Nyx got up and made their way to Cassandra’s side. Cassandra pointed to something moving in the water. For a moment they all stared at it. The creature wove gracefully through the water beside the boat its green scales glinting in the sunlight.

“That’s huge! What is it?” Nyx was starting to worry now.

“It’s just a sea serpent.” Drucilla looked unconcerned “They are usually harmless so long as nobody antagonises them. Nothing to worry about.” She paused for a moment and turned to Nyx. “Did I ever tell you the story of the time I fought a sea serpent?”

“It disappeared.” Cassandra still looked concerned.

“See, nothing to worry about.” Drucilla gave her a pat on the shoulder. “So, it all started out with a bottle of rum…” She launched into the story.

“Hypothetically” Livia interrupted “if I threw a dagger at it…”

“Please tell me you didn’t.” A look of alarm appeared on Drucilla’s face. Anything that Livia may have said in response was drowned out by a loud crack as a very angry sea serpent punched head first through the bottom the boat.

The Tale of a Mage (part 22)

The rest of the day was uneventful. Nyx and Livia made the most of the remaining time they were not required to feign affection for each other, taking off in opposite directions to explore the city. Izzy and Cassandra returned to their quarters at the castle to spend some much needed downtime together. In the evening, they dined with King Horrik and bid him farewell before retiring for an early night. Unlike the previous night, Nyx was provided with her own bedroom which proved a welcome relief given she was going to need to spend an enormous amount of time with Livia in the following days.

They all rose early and made their way to the kitchens to scavenge up some breakfast. After they had eaten their fill of the castle’s plentiful meats and breads the cook helped them pack fruit and meats of the dried variety for their journey. They thanked her, bidding all the kitchen staff goodbye, before heading down to the docks. Drucilla was waiting for them when they arrived.

“Good morning!” Drucilla beamed at them. “This way she gestured in the direction of a small sail boat.

“Nice ship,” Livia smirked.

“Well, I could hardly sail my warship with a crew of five.” Drucilla climbed into the boat and indicated the others should follow her.

“So, you still have the warship?” Livia sounded sceptical.

“Of course” Drucilla shook her head as if she found the mere suggestion things might be otherwise absurd. “You can put your things in the cabin. She stated once everyone was on board.

Nyx groaned inwardly at the statement. Cabin in the singular. That meant they would all have to share it. There would be no option for Livia and herself to sleep on opposite sides of their room at night. This whole couple thing was going to have to continue for the entire time they were on the boat even when they were sleeping. Livia appeared equally displeased.

“Don’t fret” Drucilla noted their discomfort “You can still have alone time when you want it. Just let me know if you need the use of the cabin during the day and I’ll make sure you’re not disturbed.” Drucilla winked at Nyx. Livia blushed profusely.

“Uh.. thanks.” Nyx mumbled.

Drucilla busied herself preparing the boat for departure and Livia begrudgingly helped her. Izzy and Cassandra took everyone’s belongings to the cabin. Nyx sat down with a sigh. She knew nothing about boats so there was little she could do to assist. Izzy and Cassandra had remained in the cabin presumably taking advantage of Drucilla’s offer of alone time. For the moment Nyx was left with her thoughts. Would she and Livia have to cuddle at night? She wondered. She certainly hoped not.

It was not long before they were underway. Drucilla took up a position at the helm and Livia came to sit beside Nyx. Nyx grimaced for a moment before plastering on a sickly sweet smile. Livia, noting Drucilla’s eyes upon them, reached for Nyx’s hand and gave it a light squeeze. Nyx couldn’t quite mask her frown. Drucilla regarded them quizzically for a moment and Livia squeezed her hand harder in warning.

“Come over here for a moment, dear.” Drucilla gestured for Nyx to approach her. Nyx leapt up eager for an opportunity to distance herself from Livia.  Catching herself, she took a moment to pat Livia on the shoulder in a manner she hoped conveyed affection before crossing the deck towards Drucilla keeping her movement to a moderate pace. Upon reaching Drucilla she fixed her with an expectant stare.

“You’re uncomfortable” Drucilla fixed her with a penetrating gaze.

“I… n-no… uh…” Nyx stuttered “Just a bit sea sick is all.”

“No, you’re not.” Drucilla brushed her fingers down Nyx’s arm in reassurance. “It’s okay. You have nothing to worry about.”

“I don’t?” Nyx inquired.

“Your jealousy is unnecessary.”   Drucilla continued to stroke her arm.

“Jealousy?” Nyx choked.

“It might appear from Livia’s behaviour that she still has feelings for me but I assure you that is not the case. Livia cares only for her pride and I’m afraid I have wounded it deeply.” Drucilla explained, “I pose no threat to your relationship.”

“Um… That’s a relief.” Nyx congratulated herself on restraining an eye roll.

“You sound uncertain” Drucilla rested her hand on Nyx’s shoulder “Please, do not see me as a rival. I would very much like to be friends.”

“Friends sounds nice.” Nyx grinned.

“Wonderful!” Drucilla gave Nyx’s shoulder a squeeze. “Would you like me to teach you how to steer the boat.”

“I would love that!” Nyx squealed, her Livia related woes momentarily forgotten.

Livia watched them with a deepening scowl. This development was not good. Drucilla and Nyx as friends was a truly terrifying prospect. Nyx, as much as she infuriated her, was rarely successful in her plots and shenanigans. Drucilla, on the other hand, was somewhat… competent. She didn’t think Drucilla would be willing to participate in Nyx’s ongoing plot to kill her. That at least was a relief. However, the friendship was sure to result in endless trouble. Not to mention the closer they got the more likely Nyx would be to let slip that their relationship was a ruse. Livia felt a shiver of dread creep down her spine.

The Tale of a Mage (part 21)

Izzy approached swiftly in response to Livia’s shout. Cassandra followed close behind. Drucilla took a seat at the table and helped herself to more mead. The cup had just reached her lips as Izzy came to a stop directly in front of her. Izzy wasted no time on idle chatter.

“King Horrik wishes you removed from his kingdom.” Izzy looked Drucilla up and down appraisingly “I have been tasked to ensure that happens.” Drucilla rose from the table with a dramatic sigh.

“Captain Drucilla” She introduced herself with mock bow “Do take a seat so we may discuss how I can be of assistance to you, Princess.”

“You can be of assistance to me by leaving this Kingdom.” Izzy remained standing.

“Oh, I’m capable of so much more, Princess.” Drucilla sat back down and took a swig of mead. “I hear you are currently on the run. I hear you are in need of an army to overthrow your mother. I also hear King Horrik refuses to provide one.”

“It would seem you have heard many things.” Izzy’s expression remained unreadable.

“I can provide your army.” Drucilla gestured to the seat across from her.

“Don’t believe a word she says!” Livia glowered “That woman cannot be trusted.”

“Still testy about your father’s ship, love?” Drucilla smirked “I did care for you, you know? I just wanted that ship more.” Drucilla turned her attention to Nyx. “Livia’s father is a famous pirate hunter” she explained. “Many years ago, I appropriated one of his warships. Before that Livia may have been under the mistaken impression I was going to marry her…”

May have been?” Livia stared at her incredulously for a moment before catching herself. “Well, it’s probably for the best” she shrugged “as you can see I have done quite well for myself.”

“Bodyguard for a runaway, Princess? My you have indeed gone far” Drucilla’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “I concede, your girlfriend is cute. Clearly has a penchant for thievery though. You have a type perhaps?”

“Where is your crew, Captain?” Livia retorted smugly “I haven’t heard reports of them in the area.”

“We parted ways” Drucilla shrugged “a difference in vision. They were satisfied with attacking merchant ships. I had bigger goals.”

“Spending your days drinking in a Dwarven tavern and harassing the locals? You certainly do have high aspirations for yourself.” Livia scoffed.

“How did you know I was a thief?” Nyx interjected, a puzzled look marking her features.

“I have an eye for such things, dear.” Drucilla smiled indulgently before turning her attention back to Izzy “Now take a seat, Princess. We have much to discuss.”

“It couldn’t hurt to listen to what she has to say, at least.” Cassandra looked to Izzy.

“Very well” Izzy sat down in the offered chair. Livia groaned in resignation slumping into the seat to her right. Cassandra took the one to her left.  Nyx remained standing which did not pass Drucilla’s notice.

“Did she spank you?” Drucilla’s eyes fell on Nyx a slight smirk appearing on her face. “She tried that with me a few times…” she leaned closer to and continued her voice just above a whisper “…I liked it. She, on the other hand, was not pleased when I expressed my appreciation by returning the favour.” Nyx almost choked on her mouthful of mead and Livia’s scowl deepened.

“That’s enough personal talk.” Drucilla turned her attention back to Izzy “It’s time for business. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Lost Isle of the Fae?”

“The Isle of the Fae is a myth.” Livia growled

“I assure you it’s very real.” Drucilla continued to address Izzy.

“You’ve seen it then?” Livia challenged

“Well, no. However, I know a reliable source who has.”

“Reliable source?” Livia scoffed “More like a drunken sailor I’d bet.”

“Your opinion is of no consequence.” Drucilla shot Livia a look of mild annoyance “I was addressing the Princess.” She paused for a moment, Livia grunted in response. “Now, Princess. Imagine sailing back to these shores with an army of Fae? King Horrik would surely support your cause then.”

“I’m sure he would if the Fae truly exist” Izzy pondered “I suppose it is worth investigating.”

“What?!” Livia spluttered.

“Do not misunderstand me.” Izzy’s serious stare bore into Drucilla for a moment “I will not start believing a children’s tale on the word of a pirate. I am well aware that we would not be having this conversation if she didn’t stand to benefit in some manner she has yet to reveal. However, there is often a margin of truth within myths, we may discover something of use. We can’t stay here taking advantage of King Horrik’s hospitality indefinitely, and with my mother still hunting us, crossing the seas may provide some degree of safety.  Additionally, it will fulfil our promise to remove her from this Kingdom.”

“Wonderful” Drucilla rose and extended her hand to Izzy. Izzy took it however her expression remained guarded. “I shall go make arrangements for our departure. Meet me at the docks at dawn.”  She threw Livia a final wink before spinning around and making her way out of the tavern. Livia’s expression remained thunderous long after Drucilla was gone. Nyx stood lost in thought a grin splayed across her face. This was going to be fun. Drucilla seemed like her type of person. Whatever she was planning Nyx wanted in on it. By the time they emerged from their respective musings Izzy and Cassandra had already left.

“Looks like you’re going to remain my girlfriend for a while longer” Livia grumbled. Nyx’s grin faded.

“You didn’t say anything about this being a long term thing.” Nyx shook her head vigorously.

“Well, if you would prefer to repay my gold…” Livia began

“Fine” Nyx snapped “but if you expect us to be sharing a room you’ll be the one sleeping on the floor this time.

“Fine” Livia growled, “but you had better convince Drucilla you enjoy my company.”

The Tale of a Mage (part 20)

Nyx pulled herself to a standing position. It took her a moment to steady herself on shaky legs. She gingerly ran her fingers over her bottom. It was so bruised that rubbing with any significant degree of vigour hurt too much. Glaring at Livia she pulled one of the blankets from the bed and made her way to the far side of the room. Slowly lowering herself to lie on her stomach on the hard stone floor, Nyx pulled the blanket over herself.

“You know you could sleep on the bed?” Livia smirked.

“I’m fine right here.” Nyx snapped.

“Suit yourself” Livia shrugged climbing into bed. Soon Livia was asleep. Her snoring filled the room.

Nyx shifted positions trying to get comfortable. Every so often she glanced longingly at the bed. She wouldn’t give in though. There was no way she would be sharing a bed with that sociopath. She heard footsteps approaching the door then a light knock followed by the jiggle of the door knob. Livia didn’t stir. Nyx’s stomach grumbled. That was probably someone bringing the food King Horrik promised. However, getting up to open the door might wake Livia and she had no desire to experience her company right now. With a dejected sigh, Nyx remained in her position on the floor. Soon she heard the sound of footsteps retreating. The day had been exhausting and, in spite of her discomfort, it was not long before Nyx also drifted off to sleep.

When Nyx awoke, it was to the sound of someone hammering on the door. She rubbed her eyes and awkwardly pulled herself to a standing position doing her best to avoid contact between her bottom and the hard stone floor. Livia sat up and scowled at the door, clearly displeased to have her sleep disrupted so abruptly. Before either of them could make their way to the door it clicked open and Cassandra burst into the room.

“It’s time for breakfast!” She chirped.

“Wasn’t that door locked? How did you..” Nyx began.

“I opened the door with magic” Cassandra explained “but maybe don’t tell Izzy that because I’m technically still not supposed to use magic without supervision. This spell was safe though there isn’t really anything that could have gone badly wrong.” Livia chuckled, her displeasure melting from her face. Now it was Nyx’s turn to scowl.

“We’ll keep it our little secret then.” Livia stood and made her way to the door giving Cassandra a light pat on the shoulder as she passed her.

Breakfast was a cheerful event. The hall was warm and the food was tasty and plentiful. After spending so long sustaining themselves on nuts and berries the freshly baked bread, glazed fruits, and roasted meats on offer were heavenly, even if Nyx had to eat them while standing. After they had gorged themselves on as much food as they could handle Izzy pulled herself from her seat.

“We had best go seek out this pirate.” She stated, turning and making her way out of the hall.

“Never asks, only orders,” Livia growled as the rest of the group rose to follow her.

“Reminds you too much of yourself?” Nyx quipped “and here I was thinking you were quite fond of yourself. Although, having experienced your company I’m not entirely surprised that you don’t like you.” Livia fixed Nyx with a glare and opened her mouth to retort.

“We’re falling behind” Cassandra interrupted breaking into a jog to catch up with Izzy. Livia and Nyx huffed in unison and followed her lead.

They made their way back down the cobbled streets. The city was much more lively during the day. Citizens filled the streets going about their daily business. Children sat near store fronts playing games with sets of brightly coloured stones. Before long they reached the tavern. Izzy immediately began questioning bar staff while Livia sat down at a table and gestured to a barmaid to bring her a pitcher of mead. Nyx glanced in her direction with raised eyebrows as the young dwarf returned with the order.

“This table is the perfect location to keep an eye on everything happening in this bar Livia smirked, “I wouldn’t be doing my job very well if I allowed a threat to the princess to go undetected.”

“Of course,” Nyx shook her head derision dripping from her voice “You’re just very dedicated to your job.”

“Indeed” Livia pushed a cup in Nyx’s direction. Nyx scowled for a moment before snatching the cup. Drinking mead was a far better way to spend the day than searching for some pirate at Izzy’s orders. She had never agreed to be Izzy’s subject yet she seemed to feel she had the right to continually tell her what to do. Screw Izzy, she took a large gulp of the mead. She glanced back in Livia’s direction in time to see the colour drain from her face.

“What?” Nyx snapped, her eyes following Livia’s stare. In the doorway stood a human woman. She was clad in leather armour. The jewelled handles of two daggers protruded from her belt. On each wrist, she wore several gold bangles. Her black curls were tied back and gold hoop earrings hung from her ears. Her sparkling hazel eyes were fixed firmly on Livia as she began to cross the room. Livia jumped to her feet with haste and wrapped an arm around Nyx’s shoulders.

“What the f…” Nyx spat out a mouthful of mead

“Convince her you’re my girlfriend and I’ll forget about the gold you owe me.” Livia cut Nyx off with a frantic whisper.

“Fine…” Nyx forced herself to smile as the woman came closer.

“Livia it’s been ages.” The woman took Livia’s cup winking at her before bringing it to her lips, taking a large swig. “Ah, nobody makes mead quite like the dwarves.” She handed the cup back to a scowling Livia. “I’ve missed you Liv.” She ran her fingers down Livia’s arm.

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Livia pushed her hand away.

“I see your new girlfriend bears some resemblance to me. That’s certainly telling.” The woman remained unfazed by Livia’s hostility. “I’m Drucilla” She extended a hand to Nyx. Nyx took it, her smile genuine now. She liked Drucilla she decided. This did not pass Livia’s attention and a look of alarm appeared on her face.

“Izzy!” Livia shouted, “We’ve found your pirate!”

The Tale of a Mage (part 19)

Nyx began to panic as Livia dragged her down the hall after Malcolm. She couldn’t have told anyone where the room Malcolm delivered them to was located in relation to Izzy and Cassandra’s room, the walk had passed in a blur. Images of her previous encounters with Livia’s ire invaded her mind and a shiver of dread crept down her spine. Livia, on the other hand, was in an excellent mood as Malcolm stopped at a second door.

“Would you like me to escort the other one to her quarters?” Malcolm turned a questioning gaze in Livia’s direction.

“Yes!” Nyx looked hopeful.

“No” Livia shook her head “The little elf stays with me tonight.”

“As you wish” Malcolm started off down the hall back in the direction of the dining room.

Livia pushed the door open and marched through it pulling Nyx in behind her. She let go of the rope, locking the door behind her. Nyx took the moment as an opportunity to distance herself from Livia, scampering to the other side of the room. Satisfied they would not be interrupted Livia turned and fixed Nyx with a predatory grin.

“I have been looking forward to this, little elf” She began to stalk towards Nyx at a leisurely pace. As Livia came closer Nyx backed further away. It was not long before her back met the wall. Heart pounding in her chest she glanced frantically from side to side searching for a means of escape. None presented itself.

“You should have learned by now” Livia chuckled “you can’t escape from me, little elf.” Livia lifted Nyx’s wrists and began to loosen the rope. There was no need to search her for weapons as they had all been taken from her after the attack. “I could leave you tied for this” she explained, “but the more you try to fight the more fun this is for me.”

“Fuck you!” Nyx spat “I would have succeeded in killing you if Izzy and Cassandra hadn’t interfered.”

“Don’t worry, little elf.” Livia slipped the rope from her wrists and took a rough hold of her arm, digging her fingers into the flesh hard enough to bruise. ”I haven’t forgotten. In fact, that’s one of the things we will be addressing tonight. In addition to the loss of my gold of course.”

Livia dragged a struggling Nyx across the room. The closer they got to the bed the harder Nyx fought to free herself. She kicked and tried to hit Livia with her free hand. As a last effort, she lowered her head and sank her teeth into the hand that gripped her arm. Livia hissed in response but maintained her hold. Sitting down on the edge of the bed she hauled Nyx over her lap. She pushed up her skirt and yanked down her underclothes before beginning to deliver a barrage of vicious smacks. Nyx squealed in protest and tried to roll off Livia’s lap. Her efforts were to no avail as Livia wrapped an arm around her waist to hold her in position, delivering several slaps to her upper thighs to emphasise her displeasure, before redirecting her attention back to Nyx’s bottom.

“Regretfully, Izzy has instructed me not to injure you.” Livia advised Nyx with a dramatic sigh “However, she said nothing about hurting you and I am definitely going to hurt you.” Nyx growled in response. “Three bags of gold!” Livia snarled “Do you know what I could have done with three bags of gold?” Nyx had thought Livia was already spanking as hard as she could, she had been wrong. As the smacks intensified tears began to fall.

“Crying already?” Livia sneered “You do know I’m only just getting started? You tried to kill me. You’re going to be in this position for a very long time.” Nyx cried harder at that. She had known, of course, but hearing Livia say it somehow made it worse. Livia’s palm continued to fall scalding Nyx’s soft flesh. Nyx wiggled, clawing at the bedsheets. Perhaps, if she couldn’t roll off Livia’s lap she could pull herself forward, escape that way. Unfortunately, that plan only succeeded in eliciting a chuckle from Livia. “Be smart, little elf.” She drawled “Even if you manage to get up you’re not going to escape the room before I catch you. Don’t make things harder for yourself…” She paused for a moment “…or do.  It could be fun… for me.”

Nyx tried to calm herself, Livia’s statement was true she wouldn’t be going anywhere this evening and the less cooperative she was the worse this was going be. It was difficult though, she felt like she was being dropped butt first into an active volcano and Livia wasn’t even near done yet. She continued to grip the sheets until her knuckles turned white, focusing on the pattern of her breathing in an attempt to divert her attention from the pain. She was not terribly successful.

Abruptly Livia stopped. Nyx glanced over her shoulder in confusion she hadn’t expected it to be over this soon. She certainly wasn’t about to complain but it made her somewhat apprehensive. Livia got up pulling Nyx to a standing position. Just as she began to allow herself to feel relief she felt rough hands, pushing. She fell face down over the side of the bed. Livia let go of her and reached for her belt. Removing it in a swift motion she doubled it over and swung it through the air experimentally. Panic rising again Nyx attempted to crawl forward across the bed. Livia seized her by the ankle and tugged her back into position, pressing a hand against her back to hold her in place she lashed the belt down, putting as much strength into it as she could muster. The strokes fell in rapid succession. At first Nyx screamed, renewing her attempts to escape with a frantic fervour. She lost track of how long the merciless whipping continued. Eventually, as her voice grew hoarse and exhaustion set in. Her screams dissolved into pitiful sobbing. Her struggles ceased as she lay accepting the only person with the power to stop this was Livia, too tired to continue useless fighting. At last, it was over.

“Little elf?” Livia’s voice penetrated through her misery “You had better find a way to get me my gold. Otherwise, we’ll be doing this again.”

The Tale of a Mage (part 18)

“Isolyn” King Horrik chuckled “You have grown much since I last enjoyed your company. I have heard news of your escape from your mother’s castle. It seems she is in quite the frenzy over it. You and your friends are welcome to stay in my kingdom for as long as you would like. Should your mother arrive here seeking you my people will protect you. However, I cannot risk my people in a war that I may not win. We are safe within these walls. Your mother’s magic cannot touch us here. Should we assist you in your aims it could mean the end of Dwarven society. That, I cannot allow.”

“I understand” Izzy dipped her head in acknowledgement “We thank you for your hospitality.”

“You are most welcome” Horrik beamed “I do have one favour to ask of you. There is a human pirate who has been making a nuisance of herself in the shopping district. I have sent my sentries after her many times however she has proved rather slippery. If you and your companions could handle the problem for me I would be much obliged.”

“Consider it done.” Izzy bowed once again.

“Excellent!” Horrik clapped his hands together “You and your companions should join us for dinner.”

“I thank you for the offer” Izzy smiled graciously “but my companions and I are weary from travel and would like to retire for the evening.”

“Of course,” Horrik inclined his head “Malcolm will show you to your rooms and see that food is delivered to you.”

“We are most appreciative. Enjoy the rest of your evening.” Izzy gave Horrik one last bow and followed Malcolm out of the dining room the rest of the group trailing behind her.

They followed Malcolm down several interconnecting corridors before he paused in front of a door.

“This room shall be yours for the duration of your stay, Princess Isolyn.” He gestured towards the door for emphasis.

“You have my thanks.” Izzy smiled. “Come along, Cassandra. We need to talk about the incident at that village.” Izzy pushed the door open and strode into the room Cassandra following apprehensively.

“Okay, then. You keep following me.” Malcolm glanced in Livia’s direction. Livia nodded and complied tugging Nyx behind her. Nyx cast a last imploring look at the closing door. She could feel that tonight would not go well for her.

“I’m not even sure where to begin!” Cassandra squirmed in response to Izzy’s disappointed tone. She sat down on the side of the bed beginning to fidget as Izzy started to pace. “You know I love you, Cassandra.” Izzy paused fixing her eyes on her agitated girlfriend. Cassandra nodded. “What were you thinking, Cass?” Izzy sighed.

“I wasn’t thinking” Cassandra whispered “It had been so long since I had been to a town. I was just excited…”

“You have a magic wielding Queen and the entirety of her army out searching for you.” Izzy gently lifted Cassandra’s chin to make eye contact with her. “You do not have the luxury of failing to think before you act. When you and Nyx decided to have a little night out not only did you put yourselves at risk, you put Livia and myself at risk, but worst of all you put a village of people who are innocent in all this in a dangerous situation.”

“I know” Cassandra burst into tears “It won’t happen again, I promise.”

“That is absolutely right,” Izzy sat down on the bed next to her “It will not happen again. I’m going to make sure of that.” Izzy took a firm hold of Cassandra’s arm and gently guided her over her lap.

“I’m really sorry, Izzy” Cassandra sobbed “I won’t do it again. Please don’t…”

“I know you’re sorry.” Izzy rubbed her hand in circles on Cassandra’s back. “I’m sure you’ve learned from the experience and won’t do anything exactly like this again. However, you might forget to think before you act again creating a different but similarly dangerous situation. I cannot allow that to happen. I am going to punish you so in the future you remember to think about the potential consequences of your actions. Besides…” Izzy stroked Cassandra’s hair. “You still feel terrible about the fire. Being punished will make you feel better.” Cassandra nodded and buried her face in the blankets.

Izzy removed her hand from Cassandra’s hair. Cassandra sobbed harder at the loss of contact. Seconds later Izzy’s hand fell on her bottom with a crisp smack. Cassandra left out a startled yelp and continued to cry. Several more swats fell as Izzy settled into a rhythm working her way back and forth between both cheeks, ensuring no part of Cassandra’s bottom remained un-smacked. She spanked hard enough to cause discomfort, to reinforce her disappointment, but not hard enough to bruise. Cassandra was already sorry, there was no need to provide an excessive punishment. Izzy left a few seconds between each smack allowing Cassandra to feel it’s full effects before delivering the next. After the first few rounds of smacks, Izzy paused.

“I won’t lose you, Cass.” She pushed Cassandra’s skirt up and pulled down her underclothes.” Her palm landed on Cassandra’s bottom again. She didn’t smack any harder than she had before but it hurt much more on a bare bottom.

“I’m sorry, Izzy. I’m so, so, sorry…” Cassandra’s sobs increased in volume and she reached a hand back to cover her bottom.

“I know, love.” Izzy took Cassandra’s hand in her own, their fingers interlaced as Izzy guided it to the small of her back. Izzy continued to hold her hand as she recommenced the spanking. “I have already forgiven you and once this is over you will forgive yourself too. As your future queen, I command it.”

Cassandra did her best to hold still, show Izzy she accepted this, knew she deserved it, but it hurt. Cassandra was unaccustomed to being spanked. She could barely remember her parents. For most her childhood, prior to being taken by the queen, it had just been her and Nyx. Nyx was hardly a disciplinarian.  The more Izzy spanked the more Cassandra squirmed. Every so often Izzy would pause to readjust her position. Her bottom burned but it was certainly not as bad as burning to death would have been. God, she hoped no one had died in that fire. The spanking felt never ending but, on some level, she welcomed the pain. At last, as she began to feel she couldn’t possibly take any more, Izzy stopped and started to rub her back once again.

“It’s over now” Izzy’s tone was soothing “you did so well, Cass.” Izzy gently lifted Cassandra from her lap and wrapped her arms around her. Cassandra clung to Izzy, still crying but more softly now.

“I love you, Cass.” Izzy brushed her lips against her forehead.

“I love you too, Izzy.” Cassandra mumbled, squeezing her even tighter.

The Tale of a Mage (part 17)

Much to her chagrin, Nyx remained bound for the remainder of their journey. The mood remained tense as the days passed. Nyx and Livia exchanged glares at every available opportunity. Cassandra, being the forgiving type, attempted to engage Nyx in friendly conversation however she maintained a certain wariness which hadn’t been present prior to Nyx’s attempt at murder. Nyx responded to her attempts at reconciliation with a series of half-hearted grunts not quite ready to forgive her sister for failing to take her side. Each time Cassandra appeared slightly more dejected but she kept trying none the less. Izzy was the only member of their party who did not appear at least somewhat agitated having reassumed her air of impassivity.

Izzy continued Cassandra’s magic lessons every evening when they made camp. The muted yet increasingly frequent squeals of excitement which Cassandra emitted throughout the lessons indicated to Nyx she was finally mastering basic protection spells. However, the effects of said spells were not apparent to Nyx.

Livia had begun teaching Cassandra to use a sword insisting a hunted woman needed greater means to defend herself than just magic. The two were getting along sickeningly well which was proving highly detrimental to Nyx’s plans to show Cassandra of how monstrous Livia truly was. Nyx watched Cassandra giggle in response to something Livia had said with a groan of disgust. Why did Livia have to be so nice to her? Not to say that Nyx wanted Livia to hurt her sister however one would think she could be at least be a little gruff with her, show her true colours on occasion, do something which would make Cassandra at least a little mistrustful of her. It was quite rude of her, really, to come between Cassandra and herself by being so… agreeable. It was difficult for anyone not to be kind to Cassandra though, Queen Cerise excluded of course. She was just so sweet, so naïve. She seemed to bring out almost everyone’s protective instincts. Nyx continued watching her with a sigh. For the moment, as she spoke to Livia she looked happy. Nyx’s refusal to engage with Cassandra was starting to take its toll. The expression which appeared on Cassandra’s face with each rebuff resembled that of a kicked puppy. As angry as Nyx was at Cassandra’s betrayal she was becoming increasingly angrier with herself.

It was late in the evening four days after the incident with the arrow when they finally reached the Dwarven Kingdom. Mountainous stone walls reaching towards the sky greeted them as they arrived at the gates. Nyx craned her neck to see the top of the walls. Sentries marched back and forth along the walls’ summit maintaining vigilant watch over the forest beyond. The light of their torches shone down bathing the group in warm light.

“I wish to speak to King Horrik.” Izzy shouted to the sentries nearest the gate. The group waited in silence as the sentries mumbled amongst themselves. At last a stout dwarf with a long orange beard peered down the wall at them.

“And who the bloody hell are you?” He barked his eyes squinted in suspicion.

“I am an old friend of your king.” Izzy met his stare with a calm intensity. The dwarf took a step backwards and the mumbling recommenced.

Several minutes dragged by as the mumbling began more heated. Just as Nyx was beginning to suspect their journey had been for nothing the gate rumbled open. The orange bearded dwarf clambered down a set of stairs which were carved into the wall.

“I’m Malcolm” he held his hand out to Izzy who grasped it firmly.

“Isolyn” She indicated in response. Malcolm’s eyes widened in recognition.

“I shall escort you to the king however if I find you have lied about the nature of your relationship with him I shall see you regret it. These walls are enchanted to suppress magic. Your sorcery will not help you here.” Malcolm let go of Izzy’s hand and started off down the cobbled path.

“Well, it’s a good thing I’m telling you the truth then.” Izzy headed after him and the rest of the group followed her lead.

They made their way through winding streets. Livia tugged Nyx along behind her by the rope which bound her wrists. Nyx took in her surroundings as they walked. The streets were lined with small stone houses. Lights flickered invitingly in the windows and Nyx shivered, the thought of a warm fire intensifying the chill of the crisp night air.  They passed rows of shops and a tavern from which the sounds of lively music and boisterous chatter emanated. The streets were filled with the aroma of spiced meats wafting from the many food carts which lined their sides at random intervals. Many citizens paused to survey the unfamiliar travellers in a combination of confusion and curiosity.

Before long they reached the palace. The building was fashioned from exquisitely carved marble blocks. Gilded domes topped its many towers, sparkling in the light of sentry torches. Nyx momentarily contemplated her chances of getting away with climbing up and chipping some of it off. That was a lot of gold after all. She quickly dismissed the idea. The palace was crawling with sentries. Enormous doors swung open to greet them and Malcolm led then inside. It doors lead straight into the royal dining room. The walls were lined with roaring fires. Nyx sighed in contentment in response to the warmth. The room was filled with long tables. The tables were laden with meats, breads, and pitchers of ale. At each table sat twenty dwarves conversing cheerfully as they indulged in the offered food and drink. At the far end of the room was a table elevated upon a dais. At the head of that table sat a dark haired dwarf his head adorned with a golden crown. Izzy marched swiftly towards the dais. Malcolm matched her pace. She paused only once she stood before the king.

“King Horrik” Izzy bowed “you once told me you believed it would be to the benefit of your people were I to rule in place of my mother. My travel companions and I come to you today to request your assistance in achieving that end.” Nyx stared at Izzy incredulously she had thought they were here to seek sanctuary. This was the first she had heard about an attempt to overthrow the queen. She groaned. All she had wanted was to rescue Cassandra. What had she got herself into?