The Demonologues - Chapter 017
Orlis was in a state of controlled pandemonium while it prepared for the festival. As the hour of its beginning drew nearer, that control began to waver more and more, and everyone working to get things set up knew that it was a race against time. Despite the fact that this night was an impromptu thing, or maybe because of it, no one doubted that they’d be raising holy hell by nightfall.
Orcs, as a race, believed that there was a time to do nothing, and a time to do something. They didn’t like to mix the two. A third of Orlis’s population was orcs, and they had silently and unanimously agreed that tonight was something and that they would do everything they could.
The streets were filled with orcs, and any visitors to the city would have had a good reason to think that most of the locals had green skin. The resident humans however, were used to the occasional reminder of how many orcs lived around them, and were nearly as excited as their neighbors. Orc festivals had a reputation for being… wild. Half the people in the city were out, and they were all either getting ready for the fun, or making sure that their homes would survive everyone else’s fun.
The cul-de-sac that made up Temple Road was the heart of the celebration. It and several surrounding streets in every direction we already full of different carts, stalls, stands, and events. Here, hawkers peddled their wares next to merchant carts. There, people were constructing makeshift rings for boxing and wrestling. In the center was a large podium where the main presentation would be held.
While the plaza outside the temples was at the center of it all, scattered clusters of festivity were being arranged in other parts of the city as well. Rather than being organized, it gave the impression that everyone had simply decided to throw a party at the same time.
As Corlo’s protégé, Haylen had to be there early. She arrived at noon, but since her only role was to stand behind her mentor during the beginning ceremony, it meant that she had a lot of time to kill. As soon as any stand was finished being erected, Haylen was the first in line to see what was being sold. For several hours the half-elf bounced around Temple Road, taking in the sights and smells, and offering a hand to anyone that needed help with their preparations.
When Indigo and Kearse arrived later in the afternoon, things became more interesting. Kearse looked like he couldn’t tell whether or not to salute, and gave her a deep nod once he made up his mind.
“I don’t know where Indigo puts it,” he said in greeting, “but she’s been stopping every block to grab squidsticks.”
One of the benefits of living in a port city like Orlis was the abundance of sea food. Haylen liked fish, and the barbequed squid tentacles were one of her favorite snacks. So far she had avoided eating much, and had intended to wait until Indigo arrived.
“She stopped and ordered two squidsticks. Then, once she finished those, she stopped at the first place she saw and ordered two more squidsticks. And once she finished those, she ordered two more squidsticks from the next guy. She’s had over a dozen already.”
Indigo had a shit eating grin on her face, and seemed all too satisfied with her “accomplishment.”
“That’s a whole meal by itself! Why not just get them all from one place?” Haylen asked.
“I didn’t want to look like a glutton,” Indigo replied with a shrug. “And if I got them all at once, then they’d start to go cold.”
Sometimes, Indigo’s drawling accent made her as hard to understand as her sentence structure did. This time though, her expression spoke for itself. The homunculus clearly found the whole thing amusing.
“Do you have room for more? I’ve been smelling this stuff all afternoon, and it’s starting to make me hungry.”
The food cart they went to just so happened to be selling squid, and it also just so happened to be roasting and applying spices to the tentacles of those squids. They were even served while skewered on thin bamboo strips to make them easier to hold.
Haylen and Indigo both bought two squidsticks.
Kearse shook his head, handed a few bronze pieces to the vendor next to them, and received a pair of garlic oysters in return.
“Ask Kearse how many oysters he’s eaten today,” Indigo whispered.
Haylen laughed, but Kearse looked as pointlessly proud as Indigo did, and she decided not to question how the man chose to enjoy himself. Oysters were one of the more expensive options that Orlis’ food stalls had available, and if he wanted to indulge a little, he could indulge a little. Haylen was, after all, planning on indulging quite a bit.
They ended up walking in the same circle that Haylen had been making for the past few hours, but it was more entertaining with other people, and with each passing circuit there were more and more stalls open.
They stopped twice more for food, and Kearse had to pull Indigo away from the last one when she started speaking a bit too loudly about why women should love squid, their arms in particular. Before he could quiet her though, she had left anyone within hearing distance both horrified and intrigued.
The festival itself began at dusk. When the shadows began to grow with the number of torches and lanterns, Haylen split off from the two and made her way to the podium where she knew Corlo would be waiting.
Orcs already filled the streets, but the ones at the center of the commotion were different. They were the orc priests, dressed in fur robes, dangling totems, and beaded talismans. The orc form of worship was more shamanistic than the strictly codified ways of humans, and the priest’s clothing reflected their origins. Orcs thrived in places that other races considered inhospitable, and even the city-dwelling ones carried a primal side within them.
Haylen didn’t have to stand around for long before the night officially started, and she followed Corlo onto the stage. Father Gregor had appeared from somewhere, and was standing alongside an old orc, Elder Shaman Erjung.
Erjung was the lead shaman in Ector’s Orlisian temple, and was the most powerful orc in the kingdom. There were a few orc nobles here and there, but in these lands, he was second only to the King, and answered only to Ector. That he was personally here meant that this event was a big one.
Father Gregor was a high ranking member of the Arlonian Church, but he wasn’t the highest. That position fell to Grandfather Eustan. It was unlikely that the orcs would be offended by the grandfather’s absence though. Father Gregor had been the leader of the expedition that brought back their idol, and to them, that mattered more than his title did.
Knight-Paladin Damfeld had come as well. He stood opposite from Corlo to Haylen, a single step behind his subordinate. Tonight was for two people. One a god, and one a man. Ector and Corlo. Even a person of protocol like Damfeld wouldn’t stand in front of Corlo on this stage. When Haylen saw, she took another step back, so she wouldn’t be on equal footing with the knight-paladin. It was unlikely that he would acknowledge the slight if she had made it, but she knew he would notice either way.
Elder Shaman Erjung stood at the front of the platform.
“My city!” his voice boomed despite his age. “My family! On this night we honor our god! On this night we honor the hero who brought a piece of him back to us!”
Erjung hadn’t waited for everyone to gather around before he started speaking. His voice carried, and its bass tones drew the people’s attention to him naturally.
“Our son, our brother, our father, our Corlo! When he went to the necropolis, it was to protect us all. When he fought his way back out, it was to protect his comrades. When he carried this idol home, it was to protect his god.”
Technically, Indigo had carried the statue in her storage for most of the way, but Haylen wasn’t going to interrupt. She could see that same Indigo out in the audience now, enjoying the highly abridged version of the story as much as the people around her.
Orc culture followed the oral tradition of exageration. As long as it was “close enough,” the tale took precedent over the actual facts. Erjung was in full storyteller mode, and was preaching to the right audience. The plaza was still noisy, but everyone who could hear the orc speak was silent as they listened with rapt attention.
The old orc went on, describing the many acts of valor that Corlo had made over the years, in this and other expeditions. Many of the stories were ones Haylen had already heard, but only a few were ones she had heard the paladin tell himself.
While still a common soldier of the militia, he had saved a paladin who had tripped and fallen off of the camp’s defenses. She had heard that one before. He could punch one of the cursed in chest hard enough to make its head fall off. Corlo had told her that one himself. When he had made his pilgrimage, he specifically timed it so that he could join other kingdom’s expeditions. Haylen hadn’t known that one.
“I wonder if I’ll be able to do that too. Fighting in another necropolis could be a good experience. Indigo might want to stay behind for that part, though.”
Elder Shaman Erjung was an expert storyteller, and she could see the crowd’s eyes watching Corlo. The paladin was only standing there, but everyone who looked at him was now seeing someone larger than life. Haylen couldn’t be happier for him. He had been her hero before she even met him. Once he had started mentoring her, her ideas had been tempered by reality. But instead of becoming disillusioned with the orc, he had become more like the father she never had.
Heylen felt proud, not of being Corlo’s pupil, but for Corlo himself. As far as she was concerned, this night was less than he deserved.
When the shaman’s speech was done, Father Gregor stepped forwards and gave one of his own. His was much more direct, and he spoke of the unity between the humans and orcs. His words were less stirring than the ones that came before, but at least he didn’t lose anyone. A few humans cheered, but that was it.
The orcs knew what was coming. The idol. And they wanted to see it. Anything else was just a delay. Some of them had likely caught a glimpse of it during the parade, but a glimpse was not enough.
Father Gregor could read the mood, took his earlier place on stage, and allowed the next person to replace him.
Corlo came to the front, and was met with raucous applause.
“I am not a hero!” he shouted. “I am not someone special!”
The crowd yelled in denial, but Corlo waved off their words.
“I have reached no height that you cannot reach yourself. I have done nothing that someone else couldn’t. If I have done anything great, it is because I have an entire city of people to remind me of what greatness is! One person alone does not make us worthy of Ector’s favor. It is for you that this boon was granted. It was for you that Ector has given us a piece of himself. So let us show him our thanks!”
A pair of the larger orc priests carried a cloth covered object onto the stage. No sooner had they placed it down than Corlo and Erjung had pulled the covering off to reveal the statue sitting inside the purple geode. The shaman whispered for once, and lit the candle in the base with a short prayer.
Erjung turned to the gathered people before he got out of their view of the idol.
“Ector is watching,” he told them.
He said it quietly, but his voice cut through any noise the crowd was still making, and brought them all to silence. As one, they backed off to make room at the center of the plaza.
Twenty orcs marched out from behind the platform, each one wearing only a simple loincloth, and carrying wooden swords and shields. They lined up in two rows, facing each other with ten on each side.
More orcs followed them out with drums, and placed their instruments in front of the stage.
Thump, thump, thump!
One of them started a beat.
Thump, thump, thump!
Then the rest joined in to match.
The orcs wielding weapons began to bang their swords against their shields. Then, on some unspoken command, they moved.
One side stepped forward. The other back. With two thumps of the drums, swords clashed. On the third, shields were struck.
Back and forth. Back and forth.
Haylen had seen this ritual carried out before. The orcs performed it on all of their holidays. Anything that dealt with the gods was something she took seriously, but tonight she loathed every blink that took her eyes off the spectacle.
Thump, thump, thump!
Thump, thump, thump!
Click, click, crack!
Click, click, crack!
The tempo started slowly, and there was a space between every movement. The pace increased gradually, and within a minute the blows came without end. Every one perfectly timed, and every one in unison.
The beat grew faster, and the strikes became harder. The crowd watched with rapt attention, waiting to see what would happen.
Just when the drum hits reached a crescendo, one last thump combined with a crack. Shields and swords broke apart from the final impact, and the noise rumbled like thunder.
Instantly, everything went quiet.
The dueling orcs raised their arms, presenting their broken armaments to the crowd.
Elder Shaman Erjung was the first to break the silence. He held his fists to the sky and howled.
“All shields broken! All swords sundered! Fight to the end! Defend to the last! Ector is with us this night!”
The roar of orcs and humans alike drowned the city. Like an echo, it started with those who had seen the wooden arms and armor shatter. From there, it traveled down the street. From those, it spread in a wave to the other roads and beyond the walls before finally making its way back to the space outside the temples.
All twenty swords had broken, and the twenty shields along with them. It was a good omen. A great omen. News of it traveled as much by solid punches to the shoulder as it did by word of mouth. Soon, all of Orlis would know that they had received Ector’s blessing.
“Ector walks among us!” Erjung shouted. The people were already in a frenzy. “So let’s give him a night to remember, and a hangover to forget! When he hobbles back to the heavens in the morning, I want him to have had a festival worth bragging about! Are we going to give him anything less?”
“No!” the crowd yelled in response, and they immediately scattered to find the liveliest parts of the festival.
Haylen could feel it. It was contagious. It was miraculous. Before, everyone had come out to celebrate and have a good time. But the mood had changed. Now, everyone was out to have the best time.
* * * * *
Kearse was having a blast. Once the opening ceremony was done with, the festival had started in full force, and he no longer felt any need to keep Indigo on a leash. Even at her wildest, she couldn’t cause any more of a commotion than what was already going on.
Naturally, her antics had started almost immediately, but he was now drunk enough to enjoy them as a spectator. As of this moment, she had become something to watch for fun rather than out of any responsibility.
“For once, I almost feel like we’ll be a bad influence on her.”
Indigo’s first act had been to repeat half of what she had done back at the expedition camp. As soon as the noise had picked up, the homunculus had chugged half a bottle wine before handing the rest to him.
She then began to flit through the mass of people, like some sort of booze fairy, depositing bottle after bottle of alcohol into whatever open hand crossed her path. She went almost entirely unnoticed. Nobody questioned how they had ended up holding a bottle of wine or liquor. Nobody stopped to think about how what they had in their hands was probably worth to an entire year or more of their salary. They simply cheered when they realized that they had something to drink, and Indigo seemed dead set on making sure everyone had something to drink.
She even managed to get a bottle to Father Gregor without any of his attendants seeing anything out of place. The priest was probably the only person to recognize the alcohol for what it was, and he only glanced around slightly before taking a swig and sharing it with the shamans.
“Truly, that girl is an agent of chaos,” Kearse thought blandly. She doesn’t even have to try. She does what she wants, and people just seem to fall in line with her. I take it back. She’s definitely the bad influence on us.”
As usual, Kearse knew that he was exaggerating things. Indigo may have had a natural tendency to draw people into her warped point of view, but she wasn’t malicious, and seemed to just want to enjoy her life.
When her “charitable deeds” were completed, Indigo made her way towards the fight rings. It wasn’t uncommon to see orcs set up contests of strength. Whether it was boxing, wrestling, or just beating the shit out of each other, orcs loved it. More than a few of Orlis’ streets had impromptu arenas set up along them, and some of them could last for days as one neighborhood champion was replaced with another.
Orcs enjoyed their blood sports, but they preferred to keep things non-lethal. How could you show off in front of the loser if they were dead? Orcs weren’t bad winners, but they liked clear victories. In their mindset, it wasn’t really a win if the loser couldn’t acknowledge that they had lost.
At first, Kearse thought that Indigo had gone to the rings to place a bet. He himself had both won and lost a fair bit of coin in matches like this. When she stepped into the ring though, he immediately found the nearest bookie and placed a bet against her.
Indigo was about to fight an orc. Indigo was about to fistfight an orc. This wasn’t a necropolis, and that orc wasn’t one of the cursed. Even Indigo at her craziest wouldn’t try to use her magic for something like this. She didn’t stand a chance. She’d be lucky if she made it out with all her teeth intact.
The orc she had challenged looked to the people around him for moral support. He knew he was going to knock her senseless, but didn’t want to look like an asshole in front of so many witnesses. They started clapping though, enjoying the homunculi’s sheer audacity. A few of them were even making wagers in her favor.
Indigo, still wearing her sun dress, was bouncing around and throwing mock jabs. The ring’s champion shrugged, and gave in to the peer pressure of the audience. At this point, he’d look worse by not fighting her. He was big, even among orcs, and anyone coming into his circle had to be either very confident or very stupid. Kearse knew exactly which of the two categories Indigo fell into.
Surprisingly, Indigo managed to hold her own for almost a minute. She dodged punch after punch, and even landed a few blows on her opponent. Her comparative size however, meant that each of her strikes did nothing. When the orc did hit her though, in a roundabout haymaker from the left, the girl was instantly floored.
“M’m okay!” she mumble-shouted. “Still breathing… I think.”
Indigo was lying flat-out on the ground, and the orc that had just grounded her was kneeling by her side, making sure that he hadn’t done any permanent damage.
“It’s a bit too late for that. At this point, a nice concussion would probably do her some good.”
Kearse made sure to find the bookie before he pulled her up off the ground. The return for betting against her had been insignificant, but he had managed to raise them by predicting a certain amount of how the fight would go. “The orc misses a few times, but downs her with a single blow,” had managed to win him a whole silver scepter from the crown he had wagered.
“While I’m happy to make money off your losses,” he said, pulling her out of the ring, “I don’t think Haylen would be happy if I didn’t bring you back to her in one piece. How about we stay away from the rings. At least… not any with orcs in them.”
Indigo gave a chuckle, but agreed that it was time to meet back up with Haylen.
* * * * *
Later in the night, I found Mayra sitting at a table outside of an inn with a group of other women.
After rejoining Haylen, my mood had switched from “let’s fucking party!” to “fuck this party.” I needed someone to vent to, and more than that, I needed someone to keep me company. Being alone right now was a bad idea.
A group of men stood, and left their table unoccupied, also leaving behind a handheld water pipe. I nabbed it immediately.
“Finders keepers. I’ll return it if they come back to look for it.”
I didn’t know if Mayra smoked or not, but I was about to find out. I took one of the leftover stools as well, and set it down next to the mage.
She had seen me approaching, and was in the middle of introducing me to her friends. I was in the middle of figuring out how much of the hash I’d need to put in the pipe. Judging by the smell, its previous owner hadn’t been smoking tobacco, and there was a bit left over. Lucky me.
I tried to pay a polite amount of attention to their names while I took an experimental puff from the pipe. It had been a literal lifetime since I had last smoked, and so my tolerance was nonexistent.
“Anja,” a count’s daughter, and a mage like Mayra.
“Bianca,” an apprentice mage.
“Catrin,” a commoner, but a mage.
“Doris,” the daughter of a local baron.
As with Mayra, they were a socially relaxed group. They may have represented the higher side of society, but they weren’t put off by my sudden appearance. If anything, they were quite happy to have me join them. The mages in particular seemed quite interested. She must have already told them a bit about me.
“Mayra, why is Haylen so mean?”
I mock cried, and pantomimed rubbing tears from my eyes. For once, I did want a bit of sympathy, but I didn’t want it to look like the end of the world.
“What did she do?” Mayra asked. “Actually, why isn’t she with you? I thought the two of you had plans tonight.”
I slumped on the table, a proper “bitch and moan” posture.
“Bah. It’s my own fault.”
The pipe had made its way around the table, some of the women partaking, and some not. I took another light puff before continuing to pass it on again.
“First, Kearse and I ran into his cousin. Chad stole Kearse, and they ditched me so they could find some girls to hit on. Fine. No problem. It was gonna be just me and Haylen anyway. So then I met up with Haylen, and I may have beaten her a few too many times in a drinking game. The last I saw of her, she was attempting to make out with an orc, while he was attempting to carry her off to… somewhere.”
Mayra looked concerned.
“And you let her go? Are you sure she’s alright?”
I brushed aside her worries.
“She’s fine, she’s fine. That was pretty much as we had planned. She just skipped to the ending without me. Now I regret not going with Chad and Kearse when I had the chance. Do you mind if I hang out with you? I don’t want you to think that you’re a backup plan or anything. Haylen just didn’t think that you’d, uh… share our goals for the night.”
The slight feeling of abandonment had thrown off my mood. And I wasn’t sure what to do with myself if I had to spend the rest of the night on my own. The night was young, and I didn’t want to let my grumpiness ruin it for me.
Mayra, and surprisingly Anja as well, wrapped my up in a hug.
“Of course you can stay,” Anja said. “We need to give you a proper welcome to Orlis.”
“I saw you tossing bottles around again,” Mayra added. “So give us the good stuff, and we’ll make sure you have a night that’ll make Haylen’s plans seem boring.”
How could I argue with that?
I pulled out a bottle of rum, some cooled juice, and a set of cups.
“Who here knows how to play Twenty-one?”
* * * * *
Festivals like this one were a rare opportunity for Mayra. She hadn’t exactly led a sheltered life, but as a noble, there had always been a degree of separation between herself, and the common folk. Nights like this however, were a chance to set aside the mantle of nobility and the exuberance of the people around her was as intoxicating as the drink.
If anything, it was a rare opportunity for everyone else as well. The entire thing was like a city-wide tavern brawl that was constantly on the brink of turning into an orgy. Orlis had been consumed in a primitive mindset. Tomorrow, they would go back to work as if nothing had happened, but tonight they were eating, drinking, fighting, and fucking to their hearts content. Men walked around wearing black eyes like trophies, and more than a few women were just as bare chested as their counterparts.
Mayra was full of food, drink, and smoke, and that had already checked off most of her to-do list.
Indigo had easily coaxed her friends into playing a variety of drinking games, some Mayra knew, and others she didn’t.
Twenty-one had been fun, but as it got progressively more difficult, they had started drinking more than they were playing, and decided to switch to something easier.
Never Have I Ever was enjoyable, but they quit when they realized that Indigo hadn’t touched her cup. She didn’t have many common experiences, and so they would have had to target her directly if they wanted her to drink.
Truth or Dare ended up working best. It had been years since Mayra had last played, but the addition of alcohol added a whole new level to it. Indigo’s willingness to do nearly anything had created its own challenge, as the women tried to find a dare that she would refuse.
Currently, the homunculus was wearing only her underwear, and relaxing in Anja’s lap while the noble mage gave her a horn massage. Indigo was practically purring. Anja seemed to be enjoying it too, although for different reasons, and was examining the black protrusions carefully as she rubbed at their bases. The dare had gone on for an entire round, but neither of them seemed to be in a hurry to stop.
“Bianca, truth or dare?” Mayra asked.
“Dare,” replied the apprentice with a challenging look.
“Hmm… I don’t like the way you’re looking at me,” Mayra said, sounding as haughty as possible. “For a commoner such as yourself, that simply will not do. It’s time you learned your place, therefore I dare you to kiss my feet.”
The other mages laughed. High born apprentices who entered the guild and expected archmages to “kiss their feet” was something of a running joke among them. Being a noble certainly made entry into the mages guild easier, but it was only through skill and effort that anyone rose through the ranks. Or… Mostly through skill and effort.
Bianca rolled her eyes and ducked under the table. A few seconds later, Mayra felt something moving her leg.
“Bianca, that is my boot, not my foot. Could it be that this commoner doesn’t understand the common tongue? Even Indigo would be able to tell the difference, and she only started speaking our language last week!”
Mayra was a bit worried that her last comment had gone a bit too far. Bianca was her friend after all, but the laughter from around the table, and more importantly under it, told her that she hadn’t crossed any lines.
She made sure to sit up straight, and look as refined as possible. Her false pompousness brought another round of chuckles.
Her boots and socks were removed, and a pair of lips touched each of her feet. Then she felt a tongue tickle one of her soles, and she squealed in surprise.
“How did she taste?” Anja asked when Bianca reemerged.
“Like I need another drink,” she said in the middle of a sip.
“Mayra, truth or dare?” Indigo declared, still not rising from her lap pillow.
So far, Indigo had demanded much less than what she herself was willing to do, but Mayra was still cautious of taking any dares from the girl.
“Truth,” she decided.
“Have you tried any of those toys yet?” Indigo asked, and Mayra regretted not going for the dare.
Most of the “toys” she had taken from the shop in Peninsula were magical, and she had chosen them more for what they could do rather than how she could actually use them herself. She hadn’t tried any of them yet, but she had inspected every single one, and knew exactly what they were capable of.
Even in the dim light, Mayra’s blush was obvious, and her shout of, “No!” only made her friends want to know more.
When she refused to say any more, Indigo sat up, and was more than happy to tell them all about the loot that Mayra had brought back from the necropolis. She went into intimate detail about how each one was used.
“I picked them because they were magic!” Mayra shouted in denial of her prurience. “I only wanted to study them.”
“How are you going to study them without a bit of hands-on experience?”
“Oh? Well how much experience do you have? How often have you used yours? You took some too, you know.”
Indigo grinned shamelessly at her.
“All. The damn. Time.”
There were no men present, and so none of the women felt any need to hide what they were talking about. Given the state of undress of most people around them, they were still being fairly civilized.
“Uh… Anja, I think it’s your turn.” Mayra said.
It was a horrible deflection of the topic, but at least it got the attention away from her.
“Indigo,” Anja said, and leaned over to whisper something in the pale girl’s ear.
Indigo’s sudden blush extended to the tips of her ears, and her smile nearly split her head in two.
“Dare!” she shouted. “I choose d-”
Indigo hadn’t even finished her sentence before Anja had lifted her up and was carrying her, still only in her undergarments, into the inn.
Mayra looked around at her friends in disbelief, and their expressions mirrored her own.
“Did any of you know that…” Mayra began, but trailed off, at a loss for words.
They shook their heads, and stared at the inn incredulously.
“I’m, uh…” Bianca stammered, rising from her seat. “I’m going to, uh… I’m going to make sure they don’t cause any trouble. Yes.”
The apprentice dashed inside as well before anyone could try to stop her.
“Did any of you know that she…” Doris began, but likewise couldn’t finish the sentence.
Silently, Catrin, Doris, and Mayra took a sip of their drinks. Then one of them began to chuckle. Then another joined in, and they were soon laughing hard enough to cry.
When they had caught their breaths, Catrin raised her cup in a toast.
“To orcs and their parties!” she declared.
“To embarrassing stories!” Mayra added.
“May they never be about us,” Doris giggled.
* * * * *
I stumbled back to my inn, drunk, high, sore in all the right places, and comforted by the fact that I wasn’t the only person around who couldn’t walk in a straight line. Or the only one who was half naked. That was a dress that I’d probably never see again.
Drinking with Mayra and her friends had saved the night. Anja’s sudden proposition had made it even better. Bianca’s unexpected appearance had turned it into the stuff dreams were made of. If that asshole innkeeper hadn’t been charging by the hour, I’d probably still be living that dream.
“Take that Haylen! You’re not the only one who got laid tonight. And you too Kearse! You and your threesome aren’t so special now, are they?”
It was my newly formed opinion that mages were the best at sex. Nothing like a little magic to add excitement to the bedroom. And I had just been with two of them! “Threesome with twins” had been bumped down a notch on my list of perverted fantasies.
“I wonder if there are any mage twins.”
My mind was about as steady as my gait. It bounced between ideas for what I might do if I ran into Anja or Bianca again, and the lecture I would give Haylen about abandoning her friend’s in the middle of a party. It also took the time to imagine just what, or who, Haylen might be doing at this moment.
“I’m probably gonna have to break out the toys when I get home, cause that’s not an image I’m getting rid of any time soon.”
Luckily for me, I didn’t have far to walk. The center of the festival had been right outside the temples. The monastery Haylen lived at was only a few streets away, and my inn was directly across from it.
The inn itself was still busy, despite the late hour, and I only gave a quick nod to the innkeeper before I went up the stairs to my room.
“Which floor was I on, again?”
The layout of the building was simple, but I had only been inside long enough to fall asleep last night, and immediately leave in the morning. Room numbers weren’t a thing here, and all the doors looked alike.
I had placed a small sign on the door handle that read, “Please don’t knock,” and attached a hand bell to it. I didn’t expect to accidentally blast someone with telekinesis again, but I didn’t want to wake up to the sound of someone knocking on my door either.
I found my room on the third floor, opened the door, and stopped in my tracks. There were three men inside.
“Shit. Wrong room.”
“Sorry. I must have…”
My brain misfired as I reached for the door handle. There was my sign. This was my room. My key had worked. So why were there people inside? I didn’t know them, did I?
When I looked back towards the men, one of them had already grabbed me from behind. A second quickly shoved a piece of cloth into my mouth, and tied it around my head, gagging me. The third had a large burlap sack, and I was promptly shoved inside.
Had I been sober, I would have fought back. In my current state of inebriation, I just gaped like an idiot. My mind was struggling to figure out what was going on, and didn’t react to what they were doing until it was already over.
“The fuck is this? What the hell is going on?”
I had been startled, but didn’t feel like I was in any real danger. These people couldn’t do anything that the zombies of the necropolis had spent two years failing to accomplish. If I set my mind to it, I could have ripped their skulls out through their assholes, and so it was with a strange sense of detachment that I felt them lift me up, and carry me away.
“How should I handle this? I could throw a fireball at them… but that could cause collateral damage. Tear their legs off? Nah. Too messy.”
While the three kidnapers were debating the best way to sneak me out of the inn, I was debating the most interesting ways make their lives a living hell.
“How many broken bones is too many broken bones? I don’t want to be mean. Hmm… If they’re going to be bedridden for a while, I should probably leave one of their arms intact. It would just be cruel if they couldn’t give themselves at least a bit of comfort. Or maybe I could…”
Getting kidnapped? Bring it on. My night had been fun, but now it was going to be interesting.