Metamorphosis in Perpetuity

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Metamorphosis in Perpetuity

Postby Raven Shadowe on Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:33 am

(OOC note, Characters and locations are included in this post that are entirely of my own design, typically outside or on the fringes of the empire, and not necessarily cannon to Belariath. I will put great effort into keeping Xavier's story both consistent with the world he lives in and believably realistic. If something is wrong, it obviously can be changed; breaking any rules here is not anywhere on my list of priorities. Contrarily, leaving the rules intact and existing within their boundaries is very high on that list, coming in just after making something people will enjoy reading.)

Concerning the City of Moloak

The bounty-hunters still watched him curiously, even though the four had been traveling together for days already. They were trying to decide what to do with him, Xavier was sure. There was unlikely to be a bounty on a foreign man so recently arrived, so they were most likely trying to decide how dangerous he was, as well as how useful. He would catch their glances during mealtime, as they packed or unpacked, and even sometimes while they traveled, but as soon as they caught his eye, they would look away.
"So what's it like?" asked Doal one evening after they had set up camp. Aurard the Drak had gone off for some privacy with Averia the goblin; the two were flagrant lovers, and often taunted Xavier and Doal about it. Doal did not seem to mind. He was a barbarian himself, and the only one in the group with whom Xavier could reliably communicate, although he was beginning to learn Belariath's common tongue.
Xavier stared back at him. "What's what like?" he asked.
"Your tribe, of course. The place you come from. I gather you're from up north, over the mountains. Am I right?"
Xavier rolled his eyes. "It is cold," he said, "but it's not a tribe. My clan lives in a city called Moloak. We're not barbarians."
Doal raised his eyebrows in mock surprise. "Well excuse me," he said, "I didn't mean to insult you."
"You know that's not what I meant." Xavier shifted closer to a reclining position. "I only intended to imply...we're not nomads. We have infrastructure, coinage, art, and...culture."
"And agriculture?"
"We eat a lot of marine food. Other than that, we trade for what we eat. We buy venison from nomadic barbarians and wolven, and a few traders dock in our port to trade vegetables and other goods for coal and gold. Sometimes slaves as well, though I gather slavery is far more common here."
Doal's face grew impressed. "You dig much gold?" he asked.
"Mostly we trade fish for it. There's a small dwarven community in the mountains, and they need to buy a lot of meat. We buy their mushrooms and ale too, and coal to burn and keep ourselves warm. Many of our artisans make intricate carvings out of bone and ivory, which sailors love to buy." Xavier looked the barbarian up and down, allowing a question into his own eyes. "Why are you just now asking this?" he asked. "You could have said something when we met, days ago."
Doal shrugged. "Thought you might speak up on your own" he said. "Finally had to ask about it."
Xavier smirked, and stared into the fire, listening to the distant sounds of Averia moaning into Aurard's shoulder. "There really isn't much to tell" he said.
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Raven Shadowe
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Re: Metamorphosis Perpetua

Postby Raven Shadowe on Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:23 pm

The Bounty Hunters' Drunken Competition

They seemed to trust him less every day. Xavier began to wonder if his companions were planning to sell him into slavery. Then he caught himself wondering if his quest might proceed more quickly if they did. His katana began to weigh more heavily upon his belt as the days dragged by, and their rations grew shorter. The only thing that improved was his ability to speak the common tongue, with which he made nigh constant progress, though for the life of him, he could not shake the accent.
Finally, they found work in a small village, which in the morning was shadowed by the Elder Forest. They tracked the menacing minotaur for a few hours before they finally came across its home. There they waited until it returned, and in a brief but savage battle, they brought it down and killed it.
The villagers didn't have much money to offer, but with it they gave a large meal, and copious amounts of grog. Aurard the Drak Sen easily dominated the conversation. If he had been half as good at magic as he was at speaking, he would not have been working as a bounty-hunter. He carried himself like some mighty fate-weaver, and dressed like a duke or a prestigious sorcerer, but underneath the show there was little to admire. Xavier had seen him fight, and seen him piss, and everything that counted was small about him. Even his wings were below average.
The de facto leader of their group, who had made a name for himself as the mighty "Wizard Lizard" never ceased to come forward with praise for his hosts, unless it was to unfold even more for himself. "Let me tell you," he was saying before he threw back another swallow of grog, "I have seen villages in the north and in the south...all over the place. I have seen Valencia, and the great towers, and everything there is to see, really. Once I had the great pleasure to be in the presence of the mighty Stormbringer himself, though we didn't speak...." Xavier threw him a sidelong glance, wondering how much their leader actually knew. "In all my time," Aurard continued, "I have never seen a place with a better view, or tasted better grog, much less beheld prettier girls." For emphasis, he groped a nearby slave, who giggled and stuck her chest out into his embrace.
"Has he really done all those things?" Xavier whispered to Averia.
The she-goblin snorted into the pork rib she was mauling. "As I understand it, his best stories all happened before we met."
It was about that point that Doal, across the table started singing.
"Johnny Pot Pot
Threw a pity-pot pie
At the angel of doubt,
And hit it in the eye-"
He was interrupted by Averia, who threw a chicken bone at him, much to the delight of the crowd.
"I'd like to hear you do better" said the barbarian. His words were slurred, and grog dribbled through his dirty beard.
"No you wouldn't" she growled, and took a sip from her own mug.
It was too late, however, for Aurard had gotten an idea. "Now I have idea" he announced. "Why don't we each sing a song we know, and whoever wins..." he trailed off, apparently unsure what to stake on it.
"You go down on" Averia supplied, and once again the town square was filled with laughter.
"No, no..." the Drak Sen rubbed his chin in thought. "The worst singer goes down on the winner."
Xavier flushed, and looked away. He was young, and unworldly for the most part. He had learned not to mind when Aurard and Averia flirted, kissed, or even touched in front of him and Doal, but it was crossing a line to include him.
Doal, older and more inebriated, expelled a spray of grog across the table with his laughter. "I don't want your mouth down there" he said.
"Then you definitely sang the right song" the Wizard Lizard replied.
"Oh, it's on" said Doal. "Go on, I'd like to hear you sing something."
The drak pushed back his chair, and stood on the table, his voluminous robe rustling with the motion, and there he stood, majestic as the setting sun as he began to sing.
"I hear there is a spring they say,
Where anybody old may bathe,
And wrinkles flee their skin
Until they are all glistening.
A bar-keep down in Goblin marsh
Discovered it they say,
And his business started booming then,
And still it does today.
When they asked him
What he'd put in,
He gave the recipe away:
Hops, hops, glorious hops,
The kind that you can drink.
Hops, hops, glorious hops,
What else would any think?
It's beer, of course, that goblin made,
And that's why so much business stayed."
When he hit the chorus of "Hops, hops" Aurard began to jump up and down on the table in what Xavier found to be a most undignified fashion, and Averia started laughing into her fist.
"Well?" asked the Drak Sen when he had concluded his song, still standing on the table to stare down at his companions.
"That was disgusting" said Doal.
"Better than yours though," insisted the Wizard Lizard.
"I don't know," said Averia, "Doal didn't embarrass himself like that."
Aurard looked to Xavier. "Tell me you liked it" he said.
Xavier shrugged. "The audience thought it was funny" he said, indicating the villagers around them, many of whom were still laughing.
"Funny? asked the Drack. "Funny! I'll have you know, that is a classic in Goblin Marsh, and considered high literature."
Xavier frowned. The bounty-hunter leader appeared to be perfectly serious. "Well in that case it really stank" he said.
Averia leaned in and whispered to Xavier, "That one is certainly not true. I grew up around there, and this is the first time I've heard it."
Doal grinned through his grimy beard. "The three of us are agreed" he said. "Best get your dick-sucking face on."
"Now hold on," said Averia, standing up. "I didn't want any part in this, but if Aurard us going down on anyone today, it's going to be me."
Aurard, visibly pouting, stepped down from the table, and for once took a quiet stance, allowing his lover to sing her song.
"Whisper, shadow whisper,
Hold me tightly,
In your arms of night.
If you love me,
Hold me tightly,
Til the morning light.
Whisper, shadow whisper,
Will you love me,
In the throes of night?
Will you hold me,
Tightly in your
Shadowy arms?
Know I love you,
Shadow whisper,
All heart is dark.
Do you love me,
Shadow whisper?"
Without accompaniment, it sounded off, and lusterless, but unlike Aurard and Doal, Averia could at least sing on key. The villagers cheered loudly, and one declared that she had a very lovely voice indeed. Then the three turned to Xavier.
"Oh no," he said, "Don't look at me."
"The rest of us did it" said Averia, sitting down again.
"Yes, but you people like singing. I...I never really tried. Raen was always the musical one."
"What's the matter?" asked the goblin. "Don't you want to eat my pussy?"
Xavier winced. "I really think this isn't a good idea" he said. "It isn't that you're unattractive, just that I don't think Aurard would appreciate it."
"Sing something" said the Wizard Lizard.
Xavier sighed. He wanted to refuse, but the whole village was watching, just waiting for him to start. Refusing would bring more down on him than just the irking of his traveling companions. "Fine" he said, standing up. Averia immediate reached for his mug, which he had not touched. Xavier did not drink alcohol.
Standing straight and steady before the horde of spectators, he cleared his throat. "In our my old home, we do have a number of songs we sing, but I really don't know any. What we do have is poetry. Whenever we have a story to tell we fall into a metric pattern, so as to give it a flare; something to keep you listening. It should carry well into this language." He grunted again, feeling very tight in the throat, but began nonetheless.
"Who was the man,
Step after step,
Crossing the pass,
Walking as dead,
Climbing the wind?
Cold like a wolf,
Gripping his skin,
Wrapped as he was,
Bundled in hides,
Girded with sword,
Dauntless though stiff,
Fearless though froze,
Braving the pass,
Shield-wall to breach.
This man was I,
Standing alive,
Living though scarred,
Frozen in soul,
Warm to the world."
He stared out at the eyes staring back at him.
"Well, it's different" said Doal.
"I think it was a tie" said Aurard.
Xavier shook his head. "I'd as soon it not matter. You three are good fighters, and that's all that matters to me. As long as we have each-others' backs, I don't need your..." his eyes flickered to Averia. "...cunt."
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Raven Shadowe
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Re: Metamorphosis Perpetua

Postby Raven Shadowe on Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:51 pm

A Testy Exchange at a Village Inn

It seemed that they trusted him less and less. Xavier watched their backs as they went ahead of him, and noted their tension in everything. The other bounty hunters no longer wished to practice language with him, and rarely spoke at all in his hearing. They had good days, of course, but they occurred less often. He wondered if it was his foreignness, hunger, or something else turning them against him. He did his best not to disturb them with his own heavily accented speech, but keeping out of their way could only go so far.
They had been together for more than a month, and had made a little bit of money since joining forces, though it was increasingly scarce. On day, though it was early spring, it snowed, and they beat the road for the nearest inn. It was in a tiny village, which poured smoke into the sky. It only had one room, lit by a fire, which the four of them crowded around. Despite its warmth, and the hot soup they were served from the cauldron, they were unable to get quite warm. Whichever side faced away from the fire felt like it was still outside, and they huddled in their cloaks.
Xavier had it best of them: he wore his old coat, tunic and leggings from the temple. They were bear-hide, and still bore the hair upon them.
Aurard, the showy Drak Sen, eventually went to the bar to get himself an ale, and when he came back he seemed somewhat pleased with himself. "Xavier," he said, "look here. Were you not looking for slavers?" He proffered a piece of parchment.
Xavier took it, and stared. He could not even read the runes of his own people, and the letters of Belariath certainly escaped him, but there was an artistic mark at the top. It depicted, in detail little better than a stick-figure drawing, two figures on a stage, one clearly in chains. The stage was surrounded by a sea of black shapes. "An auction?" he asked.
"Oh, that's right" said the mage, "you can't read." He said it as if it were the height of insult, taking the flyer back as he did so. "Be aware, persons of wealth and status" he began reading, in a sonorous and condescending tone, "An auction will be held in the village of Braddonburh on the sixth. Available will be slaves for work, and slaves for pleasure, taken from all over the empire. Waiting girls for your inn, or burly minotaurs to pull your plow. All will be available, and in following there will be games and competitions of every size and sort. Be there, and treat yourself to what you need." The Wizard Lizard grinned down at Xavier Malevolently. "Perhaps that's where you'll find your boyfriend."
Xavier squinted at him in the dim firelight. "S'qam is not my boyfriend. I've never even met him."
"Oh," replied the mage, "I didn't say that you had met the right man yet."
Xavier frowned. "If you three dislike me so much, maybe I should go there by myself."
"We don't dislike you" said Averia, between her knees. She was shivering. "It's just been a long winter, and pickings are slim. Aurard will mellow out again once he's really warm."
"Cold-blooded" sniped Doal.
"Aren't the best bounties to the south?" Xavier asked. "I'm surprised you're even in this region anyway."
The Drak Sen shook his head in agitation. "I can't go very far south" he said. "Too many old rivalries."
"Too many old rape victims" corrected Averia.
"In any event..." Doal shook violently under his cloak. "We'll still be going south. Braddonburh is to the south. It's just south of the forest's southwestern tip. It's a fair bit bigger than this one too, so we should be able to pick up some work."
Xavier frowned, not liking the arrangement. It was at once too easy, and too unlikely. Nevertheless, he would hold his peace, and leave the leading to those who knew the land better than he.
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Raven Shadowe
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Re: Metamorphosis in Perpetuity

Postby Raven Shadowe on Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:25 pm

(OOC note: Xavier's story has evolved since I first started planning it, and playing it in character. It is thus, with no small chagrin, that I announce a few slight changes determined in this issue. Previously it has been assumed and stated that Xavier had never heard of Nanthalion before his elven mistress gave him directions to it, and that he was unsure that S'qam had ever been there. While writing this issue, I made the choice to change that for the story's sake. There still is no way of knowing whether the slaver continues to frequent the city, or the inn, but it is now decided that he has done so in the past, and that Xavier was aware of it. I am sorry for the incontinuity, but this seemed like the best way to proceed.)

Altercation at a Forest's Grave

If the group could have been more frosty toward him, Xavier was unsure how. He had never been in a situation where he had to accompany those who disliked him. The others had insisted on accompanying him to Braddonburh, but as nearly as he could tell they were regretting their decision. They did not speak anymore, even to each-other. Aurard and Averia had not made love since before they stopped at the inn, and that was days ago. Doal shouldered forward with his eyes on the ground, and when he looked up it was to glare out from under his bushy barbarian eye-brows.
The thing that did improve was the weather. As they traveled in sight of the Elder forest, the fallen snow began to melt as the days became warmer, seemingly by the night. The road was sometimes wet, but they all wore boots, and they all slogged through without verbal complaint, whatever their body language might say about the social dynamic.
One day, as they came to one of the boggiest passages they had yet seen, the passed a hillside that had been stripped of its trees by loggers. Stumps, unused logs, branches, wood-chips, and all manner of wasted material. The earth beneath it was muddied, but the snow was long gone, and it was dryer than the lakish path before them.
With a silent signal from his wing, Aurard indicated that they would climb around the massive puddle before them.
The footing was not ideal, though it was better than the alternative, and they made fairly good time despite keeping their feet dry.
Then they heard the shouting at the top of the hill. All four turned their heads to look, and found that they could hear the sounds of horses crashing through the brush, and voices crying out in bloodlust. Their company halted for a time, halfway across the vast expanse of bare hill, listening as the sounds came closer.
"About how far across would you say this swathe is?" Xavier asked.
Averia glared at him, but Doal was more forthcoming. In a gruff and unfriendly voice, he answered "About half a mile, by my reckoning."
The Drak Sen hissed at them for silence, and it was scarcely a moment after that that a figure appeared at the tree-line, desperately tumbling down the hill, barely navigating its treacherous descent. It vaulted over a tall pile of logs, and hit the slippery ground running in a display of great agility.
Behind it, three riders appeared at the forest edge, followed shortly by two more. All were dressed in earthy browns and greens, wearing flowing green half-capes on their backs, shimmering with the silver embroidery of a noble symbol.
"Sylvans" grunted Doal, taking his enormous ax from his back.
"They won't risk their horses' legs on this hill" said Averia, and sure enough the riders all watched on in wrath as the tiny figure below them made its way toward the bottom of the hill.
Then something changed. One of the riders dismounted, and began following on foot, while the other four disappeared back into the woods.
"They'll be circling around" said Xavier.
"No shit, dumb-ass" snapped Averia, whipping the daggers from their sheaths on her belt.
Aurard was already moving, running to meet the figure being pursued. Averia rushed to follow him, and Doal was not far behind. Xavier, in a split-second decision, decided that it was better to fall into a trap in good company than to escape one in bad, and followed his begrudging companions up the debris-scattered incline.
When he reached them, he found them standing on high alert, with the figure beside them as the lone elf bore down from above. Their new ward was halfling, about three and a half feet tall. He had straight brown hair, which he wore tied back in a short pony tail, and he was dressed in leather armor with a camouflaged cloak of light brown and dark green. He was breathing heavily, and sweating. Xavier guessed he was probably in his early forties. A pair of daggers hung at his side, of a size similar to Averia's, though in his hands they were more like short swords.
"Much appreciated" huffed the newcomer. "They won't kill me...but they want me. Don't let them take me."
"Fear not, friend, for you are safe with us" declared Aurard.
Wincing at the Drak Sen's melodrama, Xavier knelt next to the halfling. "What's your name?" he asked.
"Clarence Filchley" he replied. "And you are?"
"I," replied Aurard, "Am Aurard the mighty."
"The Wizard Lizard" amended Xavier. "These are Averia and Doal, and I am Xavier. All pleased to meet you, I think."
Clarence nodded, still breathing heavily. "Many returns" he replied. "Please don't let the elves take me."
"We won't let that happen" announced the wizard lizard, readying his staff in the face of the approaching elf, who stopped to face the group.
"Humans, goblin, Drak Sen," she called to them, "ye know not with whom ye take up arms, nor for what cause. Recoil from this thief, and he alone will be transported to the doom awaiting him. Continue to misplace your trust in him, and ye will share his fate. Choose carefully, vagabonds."
Her voice, though smooth and clear, was low and threatening, and accented in a way Xavier had not heard before. He moved to get a better look at her past Averia's shoulder, who stood between him and the sight.
The elf was clad in a velvety-looking brown tunic, and leggings of a similar hue and texture. Her boots, though they appeared to be leather, were not made from the hide of any animal with which Xavier was familiar. They were a stark coal black, though they shone like metal in the sunlight. A slightly raised heel lifted her a bare inch taller off the ground. Even with it, she was not far taller than five feet, but even so she looked imposing. Her green half-cape seemed to make up the height-distance by making her look broader, and yet thinner at the same time. It was clasped on her left shoulder with an intricately woven silver broach. Her angular face was framed by long, straight, black hair, and her piercing green eyes peered out from beneath sharp, dense eyebrows. If she had been human, Xavier would have guessed her age to be around the early twenties. As far as he could see, she carried no weapon of any kind.
"That's not going to happen" replied Aurard.
Xavier looked to Clarence. "Are you really a thief?" he asked.
The halfling shook his head. "No, I don't know what she's talking about."
"I won't warn you again" shouted the elf.
Not needing another warning, the wizard lizard cast a fireball from the end of his staff.
Though caught off guard, she managed to deflect it with her own magic, and sent a nearby log hurtling down toward the group.
Aurard thrust his staff into the air, casting the enormous projectile higher so that it sailed over their heads to crash into the ground at the foot of the hill.
Their opponent next spewed a gout of flames at the Drak Sen, which he was able to counter, but not to dissipate. In the midst of the deadlock, Averia and Doal charged up the hill.
Unwisely, the elf chose to deal with the barbarian first, kicking him in the chest to send him onto his back in the mud, without braking her stream of flame against Aurard. The brief distraction was enough to give Averia the edge she needed, and she made the most of it, leaping from a tree-stump, and rapping the butt of her right dagger hilt sharply against the back of the elf's skull.
That was the end of the fight as such, and while Averia and Aurard turned their attention to Doal, Xavier grasped Clarence by the leather harness that kept his pouldrons in place. "What did you steal?" he asked, his face mere inches from the halfling's.
"Nothing" said the tiny man. Real fear showed in his eyes, but even so, Xavier gripped his wrist as it went for one of the daggers.
"No tricks, no games, small one. My friends just saved your life; I think you can tell us the truth. If you stole nothing, then why did she think you had stolen something?"
"What's wrong?" asked Averia, coming back into hearing distance. Behind her, Aurard was helping Doal to his feet.
"That elf thought Clarence had stolen something. I want to know what it was."
The goblin threw a glance over her shoulder. The other two were binding the elf's hands behind her back. "We're unlikely to judge too harshly" she said, turning her eyes back to Clarence. "Xavier, let him go. He'll tell us."
Frowning, Xavier did as she bade him, releasing the halfling from his grasp.
"I...I did steal something" said the short man, not meeting their eyes. "The economy is really tough right now...I mean really tough. I don't normally take jobs like this, not from anyone. But he offered me a lot of money over a healthy meal. I didn't have a lot of choice in the matter."
"What did this fellow ask you to steal?" asked the goblin rogue.
The halfling shivered in trepidation, but he knew he was done running for the time being. He reached inside his tunic, and brought out a long swan feather. "That would be this" he said, proffering it to Averia, who took it and held it up for Xavier to see.
The man looked closely, noting that it was in excellent condition despite its sojourn in a halfling's inner pocket during a long run. Coming to the tip, he noticed that it had been sharpened with a knife, and that a hasp of gold had been fastened to it. It was a pen.
"He told me where to find it, and said it'd be the biggest one in the cup" said the halfling. "Moreover, if you'll kindly let me keep going, I'll need to start walking again soon. He said he'd wait two weeks, and it's been more than one already."
"Who gave you the job?" asked Averia.
Clarence narrowed his eyes. "I think he did say his name, someone else did. It was...Scum. No, Scam or something."
Xavier's eyes widened, and he felt his heartbeat quicken. "S'qam?" he asked.
"Could have been. I think the bar wench called him that."
"And where was this?"
"In Nanthalion, over a week ago."
The knight turned excitedly to find that Aurard and Doal had rejoined them. Doal carried the unconscious elf over his shoulder.
"We have to change course" said Xavier. "Does any of you know where this Nanth...this place is?"
Their faces were the picture of despondency. "I can't set foot in Nanthalion" replied the wizard lizard. "Too many old rivalries."
Doal laid the unconscious elf across a large tree stump on her belly, with her legs hanging off the near side. "Want a go?" he asked.
Xavier frowned. "What are you talking about?" he fairly shouted. "What is any of you talking about? You can't rape her, that's...well, we're in Belariath...but what about those other riders? They'll kill you."
Doal shrugged. "They're welcome to try" he said, unfastening his belt.
Aurard unpinned the broach from their captive's shoulder, and put it on his own robes. "I'm keeping this" he said, studying the way it sparkled on his rich red cloth. "It goes with my outfit perfectly."
Xavier fought down a snarl of disgust. "In any event, I thought that the whole reason you wanted to go Braddonburh was because S'qam was there. Are you telling me you still want to..." he stopped as he realized the truth. S'qam had never been their reason for the direction they had chosen. "You were going for the slave market, weren't you?" he asked. "You were going to sell me."
"Yes," said Averia, as her male companions continued stripping the elf, "but now we have her. Something else to sell."
A scream signaled that the captive was awake again, and the two men grunted in laughter as she struggled helplessly against her bonds. "No use trying to escape, little elf" said the Drak Sen. "These ropes are of my own enchantment. Your magic is as inhibited as your hands are, so if you're smart you won't try to make this any more fun for us." He smacked her bared rump, hard.
Xavier drew his katana, for the first time that day. "You will not sell her," he said, his richly accented voice deep and grinding, "and you will not sell me. You are bounty-hunters, not slavers."
"We are all many things, when we're hungry" said Clarence. Averia had given the quill back to him, and he fondled it as she drew her daggers. "If you take my advice, you'll let this be, and just be thankful that it's not you. Maybe take that turn they offered you."
Xavier pointed his sword at the halfling. "Why should I not kill any of you...all of you, right here?" he asked. "Does not might make right here? You four are all cowards and cheapskates, preying on the weak because that's all you can handle. How many minotaurs did you hunt down before I joined you? Any? I thought not. I'm starting to think that the reason why you're so hungry all the time is because you're not willing to fight the battles that really need fighting."
Doal and Aurard had left their whimpering victim tied to the stump, her naked rear exposed in the air, and faced Xavier with cold anger in their eyes. "Settle down, boy" said the barbarian.
"I will not settle down" Xavier insisted. "You are not going to rape that girl, and you are not going to sell her."
"Xavier, stop trying to lead" shouted Aurard. "This group has a leader, and there is no room for another."
Indignation sparked behind the knight's eyes. He had never tried to usurp the wizard lizard's position as the group's leader, but that would not be his strongest argument to go with at the moment. Instead, he said "If you led with a little less bravado and half the brains the gods gave a sheep, then I'd be perfectly content to follow you, as I have anyway since we met, more than a month ago. What kind of a leader are you? You rape and destroy with abandon, you manipulate your friends, and you would have enslaved your companion. A leader does none of these things."
Aurard's face grew continually more agitated as Xavier spoke, until at the end he cut him off by looking to Averia and ordering her "Take him."
The goblin came at the human with daggers drawn, Xavier retaliated with a thrust from his sword. He blinked, and time caught up with him; she had attacked, but his blade had pierced her heart. As she toppled to her knees, only her eyes remained fixed, staring at him with fear and pain.
In the background, he could hear Doal screaming, his large feet pounding the treacherous earth. Xavier turned, and dodged. Too late, the barbarian saw where his blow was headed, and though he attempted to pull his strength out of it, his axe plowed straight through Averia's skull.
Jerking his blade from the goblin's chest, Xavier cut a slash at Doal's trunk, opening a long gash in his side for entrails to spill out of. As the barbarian and the goblin fell to the muddy ground together, Xavier turned his attention to Aurard.
He did so just too late, for the wizard lizard had already raised his staff, and shouted a spell, sending a large piece of a branch hurtling in Xavier's direction. The knight reached out with his mind, trying to avert the projectile, but it was too little too late. He had never mastered the skill of telepathy, or even practiced it very much since he had first learned it a year previously. The worst of the blow was averter, but the branch glanced his face, and he went down over a fallen log, rolling until his momentum was arrested by a stump. Something sharp dug into his back, and he couldn't hear quite right.
A shadow loomed over him, and he looked up into the eyes of Clarence, the halfling thief. "Rough luck mate" said the rogue, and smacked the butt of a dagger against Xavier's temple.
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Raven Shadowe
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Re: Metamorphosis in Perpetuity

Postby Raven Shadowe on Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:28 pm

Greetings and Farewells

Xavier awoke to find his hands bound behind his back. Exploring the situation, he found that he was not alone, but that he and the elf girl had been bound together at the neck. She stared despondently away, not moving, not even seeming to breath. She was no longer naked, but her tunic was rifled and torn in places, and there was no sign of her breeches. A glance in the opposite direction told him that her boots and half-cape had been procured by Clarence Filchley, the treacherous halfling, who had rendered him unconscious in the first place. On him it looked a little more like a great-cloak, coming down clear to his knees, which in turn were about how high her boots came up, and looking very roomy.
"What's your name?" he asked the elf. She did not speak; did not move for him any more than she had for anything else.
They had been brought to the bottom of the hill, and their feet rested in the puddle that was supposed to be a path. He still had all his clothes, although it looked as though Aurard had taken his katana from him. Nearby lay Averia, blood already staining through her black cloak, which covered her corpse as a shroud.
Xavier looked around, hoping to find Doal in similar condition, but unfortunately he found the barbarian standing up, and wearing Averia's daggers on the elf's brown leather belt.
The knight shook his head. It should have been pounding, inflamed with angry pain at the blow it had been dealt, but everything seemed normal. Another look at Doal revealed that he too appeared to be completely without any sign of his wound, except the rend in his leather coat where the sword had gone in.
"What happened?" he asked, once more speaking to the elf.
It was the halfling that answered him. "You turned on your friends, and made them my friends." He sat down nearby.
Xavier attempted to rise, but his legs were bound as well as his hands.
"Wouldn't do that, if I was you" said Clarence. "They might notice." He nodded up the hill, to where the wizard lizard and his barbarian companion appeared to be gathering wood.
"What are they going to do?" asked Xavier. "Are they going to burn us?"
The halfling smirked. "It'd be a criminal waste of coin to kill you" he said. "Healthy slaves sell for a lot of money, and two are worth more than one." He playfully kicked at Xavier's shoulder, not genuinely trying to hurt him. "What I don't understand is why you flew off the handle like that. If you'd just kept your cool, we could all five be headed to the auction, and she's the only one who would be bound for slavery. As it is, you've killed the only one that actually liked you, and you'll live and die miserably." He stretched his arms languorously. "Not that I mind, of course" he said. "More for me, and all that rubbish. But from your perspective, it really doesn't make sense."
Xavier snarled, and stared to the south, across the grassy moors, and stands of trees. "If I am to travel with their like after this, it will not be in concert with them. They were going to betray me. They were going to..." he stared at the elf woman beside him. "I think they did."
Clarence nodded. "They did both of those," he said, "but they would have only done the latter if you had kept your head. Which brings us back to my question. Why did you do it?"
"Why does the she-bear fend off wolves?" The knight tried to shift his position, but ended up cramping a muscle.
"Most bears don't run with wolves, anymore than a kingbird flies with crows, although they both defend their young from said adversaries. Since when is this girl your daughter?"
"She's not my family, but she has been my concern since you first came down this hill."
"Well your concern here might have been your ticket to freedom. As it is, she healed your head."
A loud rumbling filled the air, and signaled that Doal had returned with a large armload of wood, which he dumped near Averia's body. The barbarian looked up at them, when he was done. "Aye," he said, "show a bit of gratitude, traitor. The she-elf is the one who patched us back together." There was a fire in his eyes; something sanguine, yet patient; a cold fire; a slow-burning hatred. "You ass-backward icicle killed my friend and came away with a tap on the head. You..." for a moment the fire flared into abject rage, but Doal kept himself in check, and soon it was gone. "You arranged it so that I would strike her with my axe. With my own hand, you struck down my..."
"Your what?" asked Xavier. "Was she your lover? I doubt it." He gestured toward the elf. "I thought Aurard's rope kept her from using magic. How could she heal us?"
The anger in Doal's face turned into an asinine sneer. "We promised her that we wouldn't rape her if she healed us. So she did, and we put the ropes back on."
"And then you broke your word" Xavier continued. He cast his eyes heavenward. "Of all those I could have fallen in with, fate just really chose the worst lot possible, didn't it?"
"Sorry mate," said Clarence. "You've no manner of luck at all."

Against the advice of the halfling, the group stayed for half an hour after the pyre had been lighted, so that Aurard could say a proper farewell to his lover. He looked miserable enough, but there were no tears in his eyes. Perhaps the heat evaporated them.
"Any time you two want to pull out of here is good by me" said Clarence, watching the smoke rise into the sky. "Have you forgotten those other four riders? They may not have been willing to risk their friend's life to attack us alone, but if she's that important to them, they will send someone else. There will be more elves out here, and they will find us if we don't leave soon."
"What would you know about it?" asked the Drak Sen, with what Xavier felt might have been affected emotion. "I've just lost the love of my life."
Even Xavier felt a twinge at that, though it was not because he pitied the wizard lizard. It was because he realized that he knew exactly what Averia would have said if she could have. "The only woman you never had to rape, you mean." He had not realized that he would miss her, though in hindsight she had likely been the funniest and most caring of the companions.
"I lost the love of my life too" said the halfling, "but she was a huge ruby...and it was absolutely worth it to absolve the debt I used her for."
Finally, they moved on. The prisoners were both leashed, Xavier to Doal, and the elf to Aurard. Their feet were unbound so that they could walk, but their arms remained immobilized behind their backs, wrists tied to elbows.
They followed the puddle until it became a road again, and stepped onto it to continue. The three captors kept glancing over their shoulders to make sure no one was following them, and Clarence kept begging them to hurry up. He was quite spry, despite his own short legs.
They traveled until it was almost dark before finally stopping to rest. Even the relentless barbarian needed it by then.
Xavier flopped on the ground beside the elf, both of them breathing heavily, sweat staining their hair. The captors were mulling about, sipping water, and speaking in hushed voices.
"Hey," Xavier whispered, once more trying to raise the elf. Her eyes flickered to him, but only briefly before they began staring off into the starry sky again. "They should have let you go, if they wanted to live" he said, his voice still hushed. "I'm sure your people are following us, and they know it too...but they're too greedy to pass up the hope that they'll get away with this."
Finally, she turned her green eyes to really look at him. "Don't be so sure" she said. "There aren't so many elves that would risk much for the likes of me."
Xavier rolled his eyes. "That is more than I know" he said. "My only request is that if I am to die, you make it quick, and as painless as you may."
She turned her gaze back to the sky. "I owe you nothing" she said.
"No more you do" he replied. "Anyone with any decency would have done what I tried to do, and a better orator might have succeeded. Whether you adhere to my request is your own choice, of course, but there it is nonetheless."

They did not rest long, but pushed on into the night at a brisk walk. Xavier was just beginning to have difficulty keeping his eyes open when he heard Clarence call a stop. The group did as he suggested, and stood listening for a few moments.
"I hear it" said Doal. "Lots of horses, maybe a mile back."
"There's a rock formation up ahead" said Aurard. "We'll run for it."
Run they did, and they reached it none too soon. As they arrived, Xavier saw in the moonlight that it was in fact an abandoned tower, two stories tall, whose roof had collapsed in.
At the wizard lizard's insistence, they climbed the mossy stairs to the top, where they threw the prisoners down amongst the rubble. Doal watched over them, whilst Clarence stood by the stairs. Aurard stood at the edge of the tower, looking down at the approaching riders, his wings fanned out majestically...or as much so as they could be with their span. Xavier found himself wondering, of all things, if the Drak could actually fly.
At length, as the hoof-beats came very close to them indeed, Aurard came back to them, and grasped the elf by the hair, dragging her with him back to the edge as she scrambled to keep her bare feet under herself. He hoisted her up, and held her in front of him like a shield, holding on by her hair, and by her bound forearms, so that no part of him was showing to the pursuers.
The horses stopped below, and a female voice cried up in indignation "Well, Melandria, wherefore stand thou idly on such premises? Leap as thou wilt."
"Stasia!" cried the captive, utterly exasperated.
"What?" asked the one she had called Stasia. "A puny thing like him won't save himself. Look at those wings, they're like a mosquito standing next to a butterfly. Thou'lt live, and he won't, so I know not wherefore thou dost not jump."
"Elves!" cried Aurard. "Leave, now. This one has ceased to be your concern. She is now my property."
"Seriously," called the voice from below, "ye don't want her. She's such a goody-goody, always prancing around like there's only good stuff in the world. If a wolf asked her to pick its teeth, she'd go right ahead and put her hand in its mouth. That's how stupid she is. If you ask for warm soup, she'll end up scalding you; if you want a back-rub, you'll get up all bruised. That's what an overachiever she is. You couldn't pay someone else to take her. If you have any intention of living a comfortable life, you'll hand her right back over to those who are already accustomed to dealing with her."
The wizard lizard grunted. "Perhaps she's not the smartest slave I've met," he said, "but she's attractive, and has one hell of a cunt. Someone will buy her."
A brief pause followed, and when the elven voice came again, it was measured and even. "I am only partly jesting, Drak. Let her go now, and give us the little thief along with that which he stole, and thou mightst have a life after today. Otherwise, I shall shoot thee where thou stand."
"Let's think about this" said Clarence. "We can't get away from them, and we're outnumbered. But if we give her back, they might compromise. Hell, I'll even give them back their quill, if it means throwing them off our scent."
"Aurard, he could be right" said Doal. "This looks pretty grim. At least this way we'd still have one slave to sell."
The Drak looked to be considering the situation carefully a moment. Then he did something stupid. "We're not giving you anything" he said, confident that the riders below could not reach him past their own.
Immediately, elves were everywhere, having scaled the wall while the conversation lasted. One pushed Clarence off of the stone stairs to plummet to the tower's mossy stone floor, and another thrust a long straight sword through Doal's spinal column, the tip coming out under his chin.
From below, a single arrow zipped between Melandtria's thighs, passing through her brown tunic, and missing her sex by a mere inch. It did not miss Aurard's. He stood, shocked for a moment, and then both he and his elven victim toppled from the wall. "I told thee thou shouldst have jumped" said the one called Stasia.
It was not long before the elves had brought Xavier and Clarence out of the tower, both bound. They were put on their knees together as Doal and Aurard were laid side by side for the victorious Sylvans to plunder. They left Doal's axe, but they took all four daggers, and the wizard's staff. The elf leader, who had shot the wizard lizard in the groin, took Xavier's katana herself, wearing it under the quiver on her back.
Melandria, though exhausted and still quiet, had lost her awkward shuffling gate from the road, leaving Xavier to wonder if it had all be due to the rape she had suffered, or if she had slowed them on purpose. In any event, she had fully healed herself as soon as her bonds were cut, and she looked happy to have her boots, cape, and broach back, though her leggings had apparently been left in the clearing.
"Why came thou here?" asked the dark-haired elf. "methought thou didst not need me."
Stasia smirked, evilly. Her hair, which Xavier thought to be red, though he could not tell in the moonlight, was long and unruly, tumbling in sheets of snaggled curls over her quiver and his scabbard. She was a head taller than Melandria. Perhaps five and a half feet overall. Like the darker-haired one, she wore a half-cape which was probably green in the sunlight. Unlike the others, however, for a top she wore a tiny black leather chest-piece, which covered the same area as her rib cage for the most part, but left the more tender area of her stomach exposed...if tender it was indeed. Xavier had seen many abdomens in his time at the temple; the guardian knights had often bathed together in the underground hot spring, where everyone's musculature was on display for admiration and critique. This feisty wench would have been the center of attention if she had walked into that scene. Her abdominal muscles rippled with her every movement, bound and unbound the gate of her strides, like chords of iron that still knew their strength though they lay athwart the blacksmith's flames to run and shift like water.
Xavier felt an intense pain as his penis tried much too hard to tent when his position would not allow room for it.
"Now, Melandria," said the curly-haired archer, "perhaps I could have done without thy sour looks, or thy constant gripes, or maybe even thy pretty face." She slapped a hand onto, and firmly grasped the bulge of her companion's buttock, fingers clamping down on the material of the cape and tunic. "But would I have ever left this behind?"
Melandria twitched, and backed away, but the other elf followed her without releasing the hold. "Anastasia, I was raped today" she said, angrily.
"I know" said Anastasia, moving her lips close Melandria's ear. "The only question is, will this make thee stronger or weaker on the inside?" She looked like she was about to put her tongue into the other elf's mouth, but at that moment Clarence burst out laughing.
"This behind" he guffawed. "I just now got it."
To a look of relief on Melandria's face, Anastasia released her, and turned her attention to the halfling. She pulled the quill he had stolen from its resting place under a sheath on her belt. "Thou livest, Clarence Filchley," she flicked his chin with the end of the feather, "because when those two raped my plaything, thou stood by and did not touch her, though thou couldst have done. Hadst thou wanted an even better chance of survival, thou shouldst have tried to help her." She stood up, and flicked her eyes (those searing green eyes that seemed to contain whole worlds within their depths) down at Xavier, where he knelt. "Thou, on the other hand, the scouts say didst attempt to help her. For that thou hast my gratitude, but even so I cannot release thee. Tis not my call. Mine aunt will need to meet thee. Then we'll see."
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Raven Shadowe
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Re: Metamorphosis in Perpetuity

Postby Raven Shadowe on Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:46 pm

(OOC note on language: Although they may or may not bear any resemblance to IC languages, I have assigned real world dialects to those in Belariath, or rather I have used them as if the original words had been translated thereinto. In this case, the Sylvan Elves use Welsh (a whole two words of it.) If I were ever to write about High Elves, I would use Gaelic, (such as I know of it, which is very little) and Dwarves would use German. I don't know if there is an official version of these languages, but if there is then I cannot find them on the info site. At any rate, this is how I decided to go with it, and so far there are only the two words. If there is a place to learn the languages of the Belarathine peoples, and you know where it is, feel free to send me the link. Also, regarding Elvyra's position, she is not a queen. More like an elder with a great deal of authority. Her fortress is not quite standard for a Sylvan settlement, but it is similar to the description on the elf culture page. Their temple is made of stone, rather than wood, but stone occurs in nature after all, and does not require the death of a tree to build with.)

Elvyra, Sylvia Regina

There were twenty-seven riders, not including Melandria, who rode behind Anastasia. None of them much noticed the prisoners, who were expected to keep up on foot, or be dragged by the neck. The two conversed, but Xavier caught none of it. He was tied behind the horse of a tall male elven soldier, nearer the back of the party, as was Clarence Filchley, the halfling.
Xavier turned to look at his fellow prisoner, who was keeping pace surprisingly well for one so short. "Clarence," he said, "why are you so well named?"
The halfling looked up at him across the horse rumps. "Well that's because I'm clairvoyant" he said, grinning. Seeing Xavier's scowl, he changed his tune. "By which I mean that I once needed a new identity, and Filchley seemed...appropriate."
Xavier rolled his eyes. "If you wanted people to think you weren't a thief," he said, "should you not have called yourself 'Not-Filchley?'"
"Maybe" said the halfling, shrugging. "I was going to change it back, or to something else eventually, but it kind of stuck. That was what all the girls knew me as." He winked.
"Well, now would be a good time to change it back" Xavier replied. "You might not see your city again."
"You might not see yours again either. Will you be changing names?"
The knight groaned, and turned his attention away from the annoying fellow. Anywhere would do, even the horse's anus.
They traveled for hours, up a gradual slope, down a steep one, and up one even steeper than that, all the while traveling through denser and denser forest. At length, they came to a steep and narrow path that wound up a sheer cliff-face. Their was a stone guard rail to keep them from falling off, two feet thick, but it was only three feet high.
When they were about a third of the way up the cliff, the party stopped, and the elves dismounted next to a narrow alcove with an oaken door. Melandria waved her hand, and it opened outward, bringing with it the stench of horse-dung and musty hay.
Xavier could not see inside, but it appeared to be a stable, for all but six of the elves began leading the horses inside. The other six, among them Anastasia and Melandria, escorted Xavier and Clarence further up the ramp.
"So thief," said the red-haired elf leader, "how didst thou get up this way without us seeing thee?"
"Wouldn't you like to know" Clarence retorted.
Anastasia paused in her stride to slap the halfling in the face back-handedly. "That is no answer" she said, turning her attention back to the ascent.
Filchley growled under his breath, but his flippancy abated. "I didn't come up this way" he said. "I swam."
"Of course thou didst" said the elf, and though he could not see them, Xavier imagined that her eyes were probably rolling. Her curly red hair was bouncing playfully with her gate. "How else couldst thou have done it?"
The incline was steeper the rest of the way, and in that part steps had been chiseled out of the rock to allow an easier climb. In places it was more like a ladder than a stair. Looking over the rail, Xavier found that he could see for miles to the south, until the intermittent forest and hills finally kissed the sky in the distance. Straight down, he saw the tops of trees whose trunks he'd passed earlier. The sun was low in the sky, freshly risen in the east.
When they finally came to the last turn on the path, he looked up instead of down, and realized that even without the climb it would be suicide to assault the fortress; for a fortress it was. The causeway culminated at a portcullis, which was set four yards into a gatehouse, the second story of which stuck out farther than the first so that it, along with the murder-holes in its floor, was right over the heads of anyone at any point along the final stretch of ramp, which was much more gradual than the rest, and did not have stairs notched out of it.
"What's really fun" said Anastasia, noting his interest, "is dumping boiling oil through those. It washes down the entire length of the rampart. I've only seen it done once, but it was beautiful. When the second wave of goblins arrived, slipping on the cooling fluid, we lit it up. Burned the lot of them all crispy, and didn't lose a single elf. That was long before the Bringer of Storms rose to power. Before the empire."
Beyond the portcullis was a claustrophobic stretch of stone passage, over which were more murder holes, a good thirty feet up, and at the end of which stood a solid oaken door, which opened before them at Melandria's behest.
At the top of the mountain, the elven settlement appeared at first glance to be little more than a patch of forest frequented by a lot of short people, and surrounded by a stone wall fifteen feet tall. On closer inspection, however, Xavier discovered that almost all the trees were quite large, and a few of them were hollow. Maple was the most common, but there were firs and hemlocks as well, along with the occasional pine. Here and there, he saw an oak or two, and there was at least one cedar. All throughout the mountaintop cops, large limbs supported little round houses, which appeared to have floors made of planks, and walls almost exclusively of cedar bark. They looked very light and airy, but strong, bound together with what might have been wires, or thin cords.
Their captors led them through the forest to what appeared to be the only stone building within the walls, and as they passed, the elves around them stopped to stare, briefly, before returning whatever business and elf gets up to. There was more than one pair of lovers embracing throughout the scene, some sitting side by side on tree branches, some standing face to face and body to body, one pair more audible than visible where they consummated their passion in a patch of gorse bushes.
The building itself was a little smaller than the temple where Xavier had learned the All-Mother's hymns, and the ways of her temple-guards. From the look of it, it likely served the same function to the elves, consecrated for the worship of their deity.
The entrance to the temple was accessible by a broad set of steps, about forty feet wide, which broke in the middle to allow a second set of steps, about fifteen feet wide, to descent into the earth. Phosphorescent stones lay in sconces near the bottom of the wall to light the way.
"More stairs?" asked Clarence. Sweat was dribbling down him like wax down a burning candle, and a bruise was beginning to show where Anastasia had struck his cheek. They all ignored him as they descended into the depths. The went down for what felt like a great distance, occasionally passing under the dangling roots of the trees above. They passed through a number of rooms and hallways, turning seemingly at random.
Finally they came to a stop as a herald announced them inside a large room, from which a soft blue glow emanated like moonlight, bathing the faces of the elves and their prisoners just enough to recognize one another by.
Finally, the herald returned, and opened the door, letting out a wash of light that left most of them blinking, and Xavier sneezing. He had no time to readjust himself, however, as his leash was tugged, and he walked forward whether he would or no into the soft blue light.
The chamber they entered was about fifteen feet wide by thirty feet long. On the left side of the room, the entire wall was covered in shelves, which housed more books and scrolls than Xavier had ever seen in one place before. A few feet from these stood a table with four chairs around it, and covered in parchments, books, cups of quills, and all manner of tools and paraphernalia, many of which Xavier did not recognize.
On the right side of the room stood a tall mirror, bordered with a silver frame that had been twisted, splayed, and twisted again into intricate and asymmetrical patterns. There was also a large wood-veined vanity with a large number of drawers. In the far right corner there stood a large chest, over and around which hung many weapons upon the wall, and nearby stood an armor rack with several suits on it.
Luminescent orbs of what appeared to be stone were set into the ceiling, and it was from them that the blue light constantly came down. The floor was covered in a soft white carpet, which looked blue because of the luminescence of the orbs.
Dominating the scene, in the center of the carpet near the back wall, stood a tall throne of silver and dark polished leather. In it sat an elven woman. As they entered, she stood to greet them. "Bore da, Anastasia, Melandria." Her hair was long, and a luscious golden yellow, falling in many tightly wound braids over her shoulders, and down to the small of her back. She was taller than Anastasia, though shorted than Xavier, and she wore a loose-fitting white gown that just allowed viewers a glimpse of the tops of her cleavage. "Is this the thief?" she asked.
Anastasia took the stolen quill from her belt, and presented it to the elf woman. "The halfling had it, and confessed to having infiltrated us. The human was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Or the right place" mused the older elf, appraising Xavier. He thought she looked to be, in human years, in her late thirties or early forties. "Is he the one that tried to stop the others from raping our dear Melandria?"
The dark-haired elf twitched violently, and looked away.
"This is him" replied Anastasia.
The elf lady purred, smiling. "Yes, thou will certainly live. I could use another pet. Thou hast many years more within thyself to live."
Xavier blinked. "Your pet?" he asked.
She smiled, and in her smile there was both warmth and cruelty. "Yes" she said. "Varily, thou wilt come to know contentedness as rarely human hath lieu of learning all that I will teach thee as to what it is to truly suffer."
"So I will be your slave?"
"Why else dost thou come before me bound and leashed like an ill-behaved dog?" Xavier might have objected, but she turned away from him, to pronounce judgment on the wiry little thief. "Thou, on the other hand, stood by and watched my favored student violated without doing anything. It will be for her to decide thy fate."
Melandria seemed to find the carpet very interesting all of a sudden.
"Well?" asked Clarence. "Personally, I'd have me killed, if I were you. Painfully."
The elven lady turned a vicious glare upon him. "Thou wilt cease to influence her decision, or else wilt face the consequences of thine insolence."
"And that's another thing" said the halfling, unperturbed. "What the hell is with the older-than-dirt pronouns?"
Anastasia smacked him again. "Thou standest in the presence of Elvyra, ruler over the elves of..."
Elvyra raised a hand to motion the hot-tempered red-head to silence. "Patience, niece. The diminutive thief clearly is not right in the head, and must say the first thing that pops into it. He will reap the reward for his insolence in time." Turning back to said diminutive thief, she said "Our understanding of the common tongue was quite adequate three hundred years ago. Clearly it has been antiquated, but not necessarily outdone. Thine own use thereof appears to be...common, I am sure. Now then, Melandria...hast thou concluded on a sentence for the varlet?"
If she had, she said nothing about it.
Elvyra took the shorter elf into a loose embrace, and put a hand under her chin. "Look at me" she commanded, and Melandria did so. "I know that must surely be afraid, and who, indeed, would not, and angry too, regarding what was done to thee. Confusion must be rife within thy soul, and thou shouldst know that this is not unusual. Yet thou, within these walls, and with my niece to watch thy back, and armed with thine own magics once again, as well as this selfsame experience which thou rightly dost abhor, art safer now than thou hast ever been before. Take heart, young love, for all, though 'tis not now, will once again be well."
Melandria closed her eyes, and hid her face in Elvyra's bosom. "They hurt me" she said, and from the sound of her voice she had started weeping. "They bade me heal their wounds, and told me sweet and seemly lies that I were safe if I but did as bid, and when I had complied they took me anyway and...and visited such wrathful pains upon my bound and helpless form that I could scarcely walk away when led upon a rope with no more power o'er my destiny than these two bumpkins have." Toward the end, her words were scarcely discernable from the sobs that surrounded them, and Xavier wondered that they could be so eloquent in such a garbled form.
"My one regret" said Anastasia, "is that so swiftly did I slay the one I shot. It were a handsome twist of fate if he had lived, that thou, my dear, hadst had the honor of the final blow."
Melandria was still sobbing into Elvyra's chest, and being comforted by the lady she stood against. Xavier was amazed that one could be so comforting who spoke of things so cruel. His own destiny was up in the air, but for a moment all his concern was riveted on the dark-haired girl, and for a change even Clarence had nothing to say.
Finally, Melandria quieted down, and Elvyra released her, standing back to look her in her reddened eyes. "Now, young student, unto what fate shall we consign our perpetrator?"
The younger elf took in a very unsteady breath, and said "Please, let him go. He did not harm me."
Elvyra looked back at her second prisoner, a pensive expression on her face. "I will not release a thief back into the world" she said. "However, as thou sayst, he did harm thee not, and so shall we not visit harm on him. He will sit within a stony cell, to there live out his days in darkness and remorse for what he tried to do." She brushed the feather across the top of her nose, and looked back to Anastasia. "Get thee hence with this, our prisoner, and dispense him in whatever cell thou thinkst to serve him best, and have prepared another one within my kennel suite for this." She glanced at Xavier.
"Now hold on a moment" said Clarence. "She asked you to let me go, and you keep me as a prisoner. Curly here tried to help her, did everything right, and still you make a slave of him. How the hell is that fair?"
Elvyra raised an eyebrow at him. "Are we not within the empire built by the bringer of storms?" she asked. "Tis not fair, but might makes right."

When the others had all left Xavier alone with his new mistress, she lifted a hand, and his rope bonds disarmed themselves, falling uselessly to the floor. She held his sword in her hands, examining the craftsmanship. "An excellent weapon, similar to Belarathine katanas. Well balanced, superbly sharpened, and created of a woven steel which, if I read it right, would stand up well to dragon scales. I cannot read the writing on the blade. A northern script, I am guessing?"
Xavier scoffed, and nodded.
"What does it say?"
"I myself never learned to read our runes, but I am told it reads 'Conceived in flame, death doling out.' It is the motto engraved on every blade used by the temple guards."
"And of what temple wert thou a guardian?"
Xavier looked away, not wanting to speak to his captor about his home.
Elvyra frowned, and put a hand upon the crease of his neck where it joined his shoulder. "Did I not ask of thee a question?" she asked. From her finger tips, a sensation of intense pain shot down through his skin, his muscles, and into his heart and lungs. His body seized, and he grunted in surprise. "At home" he said. "I grew up in the city of Moloak, and was recruited to be a guardian in the temple of the All-Mother." The sensation eased, and he fell to his knees, gasping for breath.
"Thou wilt find, Xavier, that thou dost not wish to aggravate thy mistress. I am endowed so much with knowledge that if needs must be I can encumber thee with such malicious shackles as to make thee wish thy mother'd not conceived thy wretched soul, so if thou wish to live in comfort rather than in pain within my harem, thou wilt answer when thou'rt asked, and volunteer whate'r thou thinkest to be useful to thine owner. Am I understood?"
Xavier nodded, looking up into her eyes. "As you say."
She put a hand to the top of his head, trailing her fingers through his thick curly hair, and finding a hold on it. "Now then, Xavier..." she frowned. "Thy name is entirely too proud" she said. "If I am not mistaken, it means something to affect of 'deliverer,' am I correct?"
"Something like."
"We'll be changing that" she said. "My sister once had a dog named Asquellon. It has no meaning that I'm aware of, but that dog was just about useless. It's teeth were broken, so that it was no good at hunting, and it was mutt, so it was no good for breeding. About the only purpose it served was to look cute and clean up our scraps when we would slip them under the table. I miss that pathetic little creature, so I think I'll name thee after it."
Xavier frowned. "You're taking my name away from me?" he asked.
His disapproval was mirrored in her own face. "And thou wilt henceforth refer to me as 'Mistress,' or face the consequences."
His eye twitched, but a quick assessment told him that he had no say in the matter. Submitting would be a less painful road than resisting. "As thou wilt, Mistress" said Asquellon.
Her eyes did not soften, but her mouth smiled. "Very good, puppy. Now, Asquellon, I desire thee to tell me what deity thou namest 'All-Mother.'"
Asquellon shifted his position; the carpet was beginning to dig into his knees. "I believe that the closest parallel here would be Gaea, the nature goddess. We worship the All-Mother with songs and poetry, most of which are conceived by the priests. We revere her as the progenitor of all life, the primord of the universe. We have always known that there was more to her than just our corner of her realm, and we respect that it is right to worship her in other ways in other places."
"And how didst thou come into possession of so fine an artifact?"
"My teacher took me to the Dwarven city of Cavern-Bright, where Vahlstein Stalschmidt watched us spar. He created that blade to my specifications, knowing what I needed from a sword, and two months later one of his apprentices showed up at the temple with my weapon. Now you hold it...mistress."
She appeared pleased with the answer. "And what brings thee south of yon mountains, slave?"
Hesitation gripped him, but he was none too eager to incur a punishment, so he fought through the difficulty. "My sister was taken from me" he said.
"By slavers. Three Wolven ambushed us on the way back from our vigil. We had just been...knighted, I suppose you would say. We had learned everything the masters could teach us about physical combat, and it was time to start learning magic. They killed our masters, and wounded me. Raen, they took as a hostage, and I trailed them all the way to the northern border of Belariath."
"I found the Wolven, and killed them, but they'd already sold her to a slaver named S'qam. After that, I fell in with the bounty-hunters whom your niece so effectively demolished."
The elf's eyes were pensive as she regarded him on the floor. At length, she lifted, putting pressure on her grasp of his dark hair, and raising him to a standing position before releasing her hold. "Do you know, slave, what it is that that intrusive little creature attempted to purloin from us?" she asked.
"A writing quill, mistress, with a golden tip."
She smirked, and held it out for him to see. "That's the easy part" she said. "The really interesting thing, the reason why it was worth stealing, is because of what it does." She motioned to the seat at her table on the book side of the room.
Asquellon followed her, and sat where she commanded. A book lay open before him, with a blank page presented, and an ink-well stood nearby.
"Take thou this pen," commanded his mistress, "and put down on the parchment as near an image to thy sister's likeness as thou canst."
"I am no artist. Mistress."
"I did not imply thou wert. Begin."
As Asquellon, sighing deeply, dipped the quill into the well, Elvyra disappeared from view, and he heard her hanging his sword on the wall with her other weapons.
Sighing, he placed the tip of the quill onto the book's open surface...and watched as it went to work. It scratched up, down, left, right, diagonally, and in every conceivable direction, and in wake of its ungentle ministrations, a picture began to take shape. "I'm not doing this" he said.
"That's the magic" she replied, on her way back from the weaponry. "The pen knows thine every thought as it cometh to thy mind, and will not suffer thee to make a stroke not in the pattern of thy memory. It doth dull the artist's edge by thus removing skill from the equation, but when all required is a likeness of the subject, all is more than well." She peered down at the image he had created. "Thou art a poor artist indeed, if this is the best it can bring out of thee. Still, it is a lovely picture, and methinks I do see aught of thine own features in her face, although her hair is straighter."
Asquellon left the quill in the well, not sure what more to do with it. "This thing is amazing" he said. He could see why someone would want to steal it. The only question was what S'qam had intended to do with it. He almost voiced the question, but thought better. He still had no idea what his captors might do with the information. At best they would do nothing. At worst, they might make Raen their slave as well as him.
"I can see why they might have taken her" said the elf lady. "She is beautiful. And thou sayest she hath a talent magical as well. She might bring a handsome price indeed." She held something up for him to see, and he looked down at it. It was a collar of black leather, clasped with silver. Tiny silver letters scrawled a message he could not read across the middle. "It reads, for those who can read, 'I am the property of Elvyra, Sylvia Regina.' Put it on."
Asquellon frowned, ignoring the sudden rush of blood to his penis brought on by her commanding tone. The collar, he knew was a symbol, and it stood not only for his surrender to the wood-elf lady, but also for the arrest of his search. He would be in the elven stronghold for years...might even die there of old age if he was not killed. But he could not escape if he did not first make his mistress let her guard down. Taking the collar into his own hands, and maintaining eye contact with that cold and mirthful stare, he slid the ends under his curly locks and snapped the hasps together in a click that sounded like the crack of thunder. Elvyra was smiling, though her eyes were narrowed. "Now strip, slave, so that I may inspect my new pet, and then I will finish making thee mine own."
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Re: Metamorphosis in Perpetuity

Postby Raven Shadowe on Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:25 pm

(OOC note: This was going to be longer, but I got a major writer's block 2/3 of the way through. Perhaps I will someday post the rest of it, if something sparks my creative juices again, but for now if you want to know more about Xavier you'll have to roleplay with him. That doesn't mean more posts will not be forthcoming, it just means I need a long hiatus from this part of the story.


Asquellon opened his eyes. Something was wrong...waking up was never this comfortable. He clenched his fist, and found that their was a wad of silk in his fingers. It was purple, and smelled like roses.
Turning his head, he remembered where he was. He had been allotted his own cell in the harem suite. It was about twelve feet by fifteen. The walls were made of stone, the oak door was locked from the outside, and the bed sheets were purple silk, and smelled like roses.
He threw them off of himself, and sat up, wincing as he felt a residual ache in his behind where his mistress had pegged him. Remembering brought his cock up again, but he sat stock still on the edge of the mattress, thinking about what had happened. He felt clean, after the bath they had given him, though his whole body felt sore.
A splash of color struck his eye, and he looked up to see that his captors had left him a robe to replace his hairy garments from the All-Mother's temple. It was laid out on the soft red carpet for him, with a note on top. He stooped, and picked it up. He looked at the note, but of course he could not read it. He could not even tell if it was written in Sylvan or common. Laying it on the bed, he shrugged into the garment.
Like the sheets, it was made of silk, but it was white, and unscented. It closed over his chest with three knot slips, overlapping its lips to cover him more efficiently...but only down to his knees. The knotted strips of leather were all on his chest, although they were doubled, one pair on the inside and another on the outside. It was very light, to the point that it felt almost like wearing nothing at all, and it would be very easily removed to make the feeling genuine. The overlap kept him covered, as long as he stood still, or stuck to walking, but if he was to start running, it would pull the gap open revealing his thighs and pubis. To look at, it might appear modest to an inexperienced eye, but wearing it there was no doubt as to what it was: a harem gown.
He traced a finger over the letters on his collar. It felt very strange around his neck, and the thought of what it meant made him hard all over again. He was a slave, without rights or recourse. He should have been frightened...he was frightened; but he was also exhilarated somehow, and did not understand why.
He sighed, and lay back on the bed, feeling the warm soft sheets embrace his aching body. "I guess the way you know you're still alive is that there is a bit of heaven in every hell, of hell in every heaven" he muttered. "If I come to a place unmixed in its appearance, and undivided from its core, purely one way or another, in all its measurements mixed equally, then will I know that I have died, for no sorrow, so they say can live in Heaven's halls, nor joy in Hell abide." He was an owned man. He scowled at the thought, even as it hardened his nipples.
There was a faint click at the door, and he looked up at it. He had no idea how long he had slept, or what would be expected of him next. The noise came again, and his frown deepened. It didn't sound like a key in the lock, and it was taking too long for that anyway.
He rose, and stood by the food of the bed, waiting, ready.
The click came a third time, and then was followed by a louder one before the door swung open to reveal a halfling standing just outside.
"Clarence?" asked Asquellon in disbelief.
"In the flesh, Xavier me boy." Filchley looked the man over, raising a grey-flecked eyebrow. "Nice collar" he said.
Quick tugs of laughter pulled out of Xavier's throat. "That is my name, isn't it?" he said, glad to hear it again.
"Did you think otherwise? Get out here, I'm in a hurry."
Xavier followed the halfling out, easily keeping stride with Clarence's hurried step. "I spent most of yesterday being called Asquellon" he said.
Filchley bit off a guffaw, covering his mouth as he looked up at Xavier. "So you did change your name" he said. "I asked if you would, and you did."
"Now who's lollygagging?"
Clarence led him out of the perfumed hall of the concubines, and through a dark corridor until they came to a set of spiral stairs, which they descended at an eager, if a careful, gate.
"How are we getting out of here?" Xavier whispered as they descended.
"The same way I got in, if you'll fit" said Clarence. "There's an underground reservoir that the elves use as a water supply. We swim down a level, poke our heads out in a bath to breath, get another big gulp of air, and go another round. That will bring us up in an above-ground reservoir over a waterfall, from which we can descend the mountain, and be away northward as quick as..." he stopped, both in his speech, and in his motion. "You're barefoot, aren't you?"
"They took everything. Why didn't they take your things?"
"Because they didn't want me as a plaything. They searched to make sure I didn't have any lock-picks, and then gave me my clothes back."
Xavier raised his eyebrows. "Then how did you escape, if they checked everything for your picks? You must have picked my lock with something."
"I did." Clarence held up a small metallic egg for Xavier to see in the faint glow of the stones in the wall.
"That smells funny" he said.
"Of course it does. I had to keep it someplace they wouldn't look. I mean, they did look there...that Anastasia bitch is a real cunt in a dungeon setting, but she was mostly doing it for fun. Didn't find anything."
"Anything? How much stuff do you keep in there?"
"That's for me to know, and never ever find out. What concerns me right now is how we're going to survive on the run if your feet are naked."
"We'll find something for me to wear, including a replacement for this dress, as well as a way to remove the collar. Right now let's just get out."
"Right then, this way."

By the time they got to the door Clarence was looking for, Xavier had completely lost his bearings, but the halfling kept the lead with confidence. At a large open door, they paused and listened quietly.
"Sounds quiet" said Filchley. They crept inside, and looked around in the dim glow of the stone four lamps that struck up from the corners of a large dark bathing pool.
"A Moriel would feel right at home here" the halfling muttered.
"A what?" asked Xavier.
"A Moriel...a dark elf. Like these Sylvans, except deeper underground and with darker skin. They hate men...or some of them do. " The halfling splashed into the bath, heedless of his clothing, and swam out to the center, where what appeared to be a large pillar ran all the way up to the ceiling. "This pipe runs all the way to the top, where they have a pool to catch rainwater, and it's fed by several little streams across the mountains. The water comes down, and out through little holes just under the water line. I say little, but as plumbing goes, they're actually gigantic. They have these metal grates on them to keep people from getting washed down into the mountain, but..." he fiddled with something under the water. "If you have the right tool...thy just come right off." He fiddle for a few more seconds, and Xavier heard the scratching of metal under the water. Then something shifted, and Clarence exhaled a stifled huzzah. "Got it" he announced."
Xavier followed him into the bath, looking around himself for the grate. He found it with his toe. The halfling grinned at him, treading water, too short to stand. "Now we just see if you'll fit."
Xavier put his hands under the water, and felt around the pipe. The hole was there, and it was large, but he shook his head at his estimations. "I don't think my shoulders will go through" he said.
"No?" Clarence measured his shoulders with his hands, and frowned. "You might be right" he said. "We'll need to find another way out."
"You've made this swim before?"
"Twice, actually. Once coming in, and again going out."
Xavier took in a long breath. "Then you should leave without me" he said. "I'll find another way out."

It was Melandria that found him, after the alarm bells sounded, and the hunt had gone on for several minutes. Knowing that he could not escape, regardless of what he had told Filchley, Xavier had elected to remain where he was, and put up no resistance to the menace of recapture. He sat in the bath, legs crossed, with his robe on the floor outside the bath, calmly reflecting on the potential reaction of his captors. He could only imagine that they would be displeased, and he began to dread what they would do to him. He tried to remind himself that they had taken him, and Clarence, both as slaves. His punishment might be terrible, but his heart, at least, would be right. If they left it in his chest, that was.
Melandria was preceded in her entrance by a glowing ball of blue light, which floated about eight feet in front of her, and about two feet higher than her head. She stopped, when she entered, and stared at the human in the bath. "Thou couldst have but admitted that thou wert in need of bathing, good slave," she said. "We would have brought thee here ourselves."
"But then we would not be alone" replied the knight.
The elf glowered, and her floating light took on an angry red hue. "If thou dost think to visit upon my person any semblance of the very vice thou failed to keep thy dead companions from-"
"You would fry me before I'd so much as blinked" he said, cutting her off.
"Just so, slave."
"And I, moreover, would deserve it. It is wrong to perpetrate an act of violence or containment on another to which he or she has not consented."
"Thou clearly art no local of Belariath. Where is thy tiny friend?"
"The fish? I put him down the pipe."
Her eyes, which seemed a little like a doe's, reflecting so much light back from her floating sphere, blinked at him, and he thought there might be pity there, beside the quiet fear her bearing demonstrated. "Elvyra will be most displeased" she said.
"I would not doubt it. It seems I will be Asquellon after all."
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Re: Metamorphosis in Perpetuity

Postby Raven Shadowe on Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:07 pm

A World of Lost Souls

"Now suck it, boy."
I'm not a boy, I just have a dick.
Life had been kinder to some than it had to Za'srael. She had been born far beneath the earth's surface, a Moriel with a human father. Her mother had been banished while she was still young, and she had little memory of her. Her siblings, of which she had many, were mostly of that irascible character common to Moriels, and she had no idea which of her mother's human slaves had sprouted the seed that had become her.
In her lessons, she often came out far ahead of her siblings, learning other languages much more quickly than they, as well as mathematics, logic, and everything else that the young dark elves studied. She typically hid her results, however, pretending as well as she could to be a simpleton who posed no threat. She could always tell what kind of mood they were in...always. They seemed to spend most of their time in anger or self worship. She occasionally found the same problem in herself, but whenever she realized it she choked it out. Emotions were an obstacle to themselves, and should be indulged in only moderately.
She became, as an adolescent, obsessed with the legend of her mother. Adrozhel had been the most talented enchantress of the underworld, banished because she posed a threat to a political superior. Following the trail, Za'srael had incurred the wrath of the same people, and been forbidden to follow it further. Shunned by the rest of her kind, she expressed an interest in following her mother to the surface world, but they forbade her to do this as well, threatening her with the disapproval of Kirva.
Disregarding their warnings, she went anyway...and awoke the next morning in the wrong body.
Oh, it was still hers, of course. She was still about five and a half feet tall, her skin was still the light bluish purple it had always been, her hair was still snowy white, and her eyes still glowed a somber red. It was the shape of the thing that had changed. He chest, once hauling small B-cups with it, was now lean and bony, her nipples shrunk to the size of peas when erect. Her vagina...her beautiful cunt had been replaced with a small penis.
That was a very tearful day indeed. She could never go back now. As a boy, she would be disgraced by her own people, more than before. Moriel men were not known for living happy lives, and she would never be at home among them anyway.
She sought a temple of Kirva above ground, to beg forgiveness for her transgression, but when she finally found one in a shallow cave, the local clergy could not help her, and indeed seemed to revile her for her circumstance.
After a number of adventures, most of them unfortunate, she was no closer to finding Adrozhel, and seemed no closer to regaining her proper state, when finally she crossed paths with someone who seemed to take an interest.
He was a rogue, as near as she could tell, but a very knowledgeable one. He was dressed in small bits of leather armor, which covered his torso, and his loins, but left his stomach and legs exposed, showing off his strength. Straight brown hair hung down to caress his leather collar. "My master serves a Moriel, and knows a lot about them" he said. "He is an enchanter, as well as a battle-mage, and may be able to help you. But I must warn you that it will not be free."
Without committing to make a deal, she asked to meet the man, and her benefactor led her on a trip to a small keep, leagues away from the nearest town. The guards were all Wolven, but they snapped to attention when the man and his moriel companion arrived.
The magician was a high elf, with long and voluminous locks of hair, and steady blue eyes. "Welcome to my abode, small one" he said. He was a little taller than she, and a dressy white robe spilled down over his shoulders. "From the look of things, someone has cursed you in Kirva's name, robbing you of your rightful sex, hmm?"
Za'srael nodded, acutely aware that she could not sense his emotions, as she had been able to everyone else's up to that point.
"It is an easy enough thing for me to fix." He waved a hand, and she felt the folds of her flesh crawling back into place. She grasped at her body, hunched up in terror, convulsing on the floor, and almost screamed...almost. When it was done, she was herself again, and she stared up at him from the cold stones of the keep. He was smiling down at her. "Doesn't that feel right?"
She put her hands under her tunic, and felt the old familiar folds of her pussy, and the comforting mounds of her breasts. She brushed a hand across her face, and the wispy hair that had begun to grow there crumbled under her fingers and floated to the ground.
"But of course, you understand that I can't simply give it to you...that would be bad for business."
He waved a hand again, and that time she did scream as her flesh reverted to its false self, and when it was done, she huddled on the ground weeping as though she had lost herself for the first time all over again. "What do you want?" she asked.
"Man-power" he replied. "I need slaves. Serve me faithfully for a decade, and I will change you back permanently.

That was how she had entered the secret academy. In the years since then, she had learned a great deal about the surface world, although she herself had experienced little of it. The academy was lit only by what sunlight drifted down through the iron grate at the top of the keep's tallest tower, and by the students' own magic.
All the students had some magic of their own, and they were all slaves, most of them unwillingly. They ate when they were fed, and they did not fight over the food. If they did, their collars shocked them. They exercised repeatedly every day. If they faltered, their collars shocked them. They practiced fighting each-other on a daily basis. If they faltered, they lost. If they hurt one another, the loser would be healed. They serviced their Wolven guards. If they disobeyed, their collars shocked them. They did not try to escape. Those who did were whipped.
Za'srael, never very expressive of her own emotions, began to withdraw inside herself, and hide there. She participated, and she excelled, but she did so very quietly. She began to pray every night before she went to sleep. "Kirva, night goddess, I am dying inside. I carry a desert with me wherever I go...and I cannot go anywhere. I am parched, and nothing will grow in my soul. Please, I am dying...but not quickly enough. Please let me either die, or start to grow again."
It was a few days after she prayed that prayer that she received her first cell-mate, a confused and frightened human girl. Za'srael could feel the tempest broiling inside her, and offered what soothing and comforts she was able, giving up her own water ration to hydrate her guest.
Finally, when the girl's mind was a little quieter, she deigned to ask her what her name was.
It was Raen.
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Raven Shadowe
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Re: Metamorphosis in Perpetuity

Postby Tehya on Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:38 pm

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Re: Metamorphosis in Perpetuity

Postby Raven Shadowe on Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:40 pm


Asquellon's breathing steadied as he looked out across the great hall. The elves were not celebrating, not yet, but there was a festive mood in the air. Most were milling about and gossiping as the slaves swept the floor and set the tables.
He fidgeted, trying to find a way to set his knees comfortably on the luxurious carpet of red, purple and gold. The threads were digging into his skin.
A hand rested on the back of his head, and he stopped, turning an eye to look at Anastasia. She was lounging across her aunt's throne with her legs crossed. Her customary leather forsaken, she sprawled in a shimmery gown of silver silk, which covered most of her body, but showed its shape to the world. Her eyes glared at him from under her thick eyebrows, and between her billowing locks of flame-like hair. "Stop squirming" she said, punctuating her words with a light tug on his leash.
He nodded, and averted his eyes, resolving himself to the pain.
"Elvyra's guests for this solstice court rarely visit us, and most are not familiar with our high society" she said, shifting her own position in the comfortable throne. "Most of them are other elven nobles from our diverse strongholds through Belariath, but there will as well be others here. Envoys from different cultures, and an Imperial overseer to make sure we follow the empire's laws. Then there are the bandits. Different clans from nearby haunt, coming to kiss my aunt's ass."
"I have heard my mistress speak before of bandits in employment to her aunt. Am I in breach of station to inquire as to why they are not scoured from her vast domain and made example of?"
"Thou art in breach of nothing, as being not in breeches clad, and I without the mood to lash thy hind. It is in the interests of our countrymen to not be pestered with the visitation of those grievances which may a desperate soul rain down on them. Thus, as there are always desperate souls about, my aunt once made a deal with them, decades ago, to keep our people from the worst of them. There are many groups whom she hath chosen to endorse, and them she pays in food, which she herself receives in tribute from the farmers and plantations in her realm, to keep from harm the Sylvan elves, and all who call her queen or Domina. From any stranger whom they meet may they demand a toll of whatsoever sum of gold they will, so long as he is not our lady's man, and with any brigand not their own may do as will, be it to strip him of his valuables, or of his clothes, to send him away with nothing but his dignity, or to keep him bound with less. This should have been thy halfling's fate, but none reports to seeing him, though he did four times escape their notice, and in the end 'twas with the object of his hunt that he did manage to abscond. Thou didst not see the gathering last summer, as thou wert restrained in chains and darkness in the dungeon, but there were words and strong ones about this lapse in their effectiveness." She stared out over the crowd, and sighed. "I would it were night" she said. "So much fucking to many juicy morsels to scout. Unlike thy flat ass."
"I am beneath thy degradation, Mistress. To make myself less unappealing, perhaps I should start exercising again?"
"Asquellon," she said, raising a hand. "Hold still."
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