Campaign of the Month: December 2007

Cold Blood

Interlude: The Lake of Fire (NSFW)

In Which Jazra Shows Xillian Around.

(WARNING: Not Safe For Work. Adults Only)

by DarthKrzysztof

Jazra watched Hexla and her friends file through the portal, realizing a moment too late that Fritzan Ringhammer had come close enough to thrust his stubby finger inches from her nose.

“I know you think you’re clever,” growled the dwarf, “but I’ll see you given the rope someday, mark me.”

Jazra couldn’t breathe, let alone respond. She knew that Ringhammer was just a tin-plated leatherhead, she knew it, but why couldn’t she stand up to him? Was she really that worried about being arrested? Was it because he’d been dogging her steps since she was a child? Or was it just because he hated her so much?

“Leave her alone,” came a man’s voice. She saw the drow – Xillian, was it? – approaching them.

“And just who do you think you are,” said Fritzan, “to order a Harmonium officer around?”

Xillian drew very close to Fritzan, stepping between the dwarf and Jazra. The drow’s rapier and hand crossbow still lay on the ground behind him, but he showed no signs of backing down. “I’m Xillian. And I’m not ordering you to do anything. I’m advising you to leave her alone.”

Oh, Xillian, don’t be addle-coved, thought Jazra. You’re just gonna make him mad…

Fritzan’s laugh stank of pipeweed. “Is that right. Advising me. You think I’m gonna take your advice, dark elf?”

“No. But I still thought you should have the option to take it.”

“You got nerve, boy, or else you’re barmy. I got a leafless tree for smart-talking barmies like you. What say we go have a look at it and – “

“Officer Ringhammer!” called one of the Hardheads at the gate. “Tonat Shar needs you back at the Barracks.”

“Tell him I’ll be there shortly,” Fritzan replied without looking away from Xillian.

“Now, sir.”

Ringhammer shot a deadly glance back at the other Hardhead, whose confidence seemed to stem solely from the higher orders she’d brought. Fritzan tried to blink away his frustration before turning on Jazra. “This isn’t over,” he warned. Then, to Xillian: “For either of you.” And with a low Dwarven swear, he turned and led his patrol out of the Temple.

“Two-bit red-faced bully,” sighed Noxana before returning to her prayers.

“Are you all right?” Xillian asked Jazra, coolly regarding her with deep violet eyes.

‘Sure,” Jazra announced a bit too loudly, turning away from the drow. She couldn’t let him see the hot tears streaming down her face – couldn’t let anyone see them. She was tougher than this, damn it. After a moment, she wiped her cheeks on the fringe of her vest and faced Xillian again. Her face was nearly scarlet, and her hands were trembling, but she’d been worse.

“Why does that dwarf hate you so much?” asked the drow.

“Th’Abyss if I know. I gave up the cross-trade when I became a wizard.” As my primary career, anyway, she thought. And sure, I’m an Anarchist, but there was no way Fritzan could know that. Unless Lissandra had made a mistake when she told Hexla’s friends?

Xillian pulled her away from pursuing that train of thought. “I’ve seen the hatred that the law holds for criminals. That was something more.”

“S’probably about my mentor, then; she sure wasn’t any celestial.” Wait, was she opening up to this elf who’d just tried to write Hexla’s friends into the dead-book? Why? For that matter, why was he speaking to her so calmly, after he’d nearly died at their hands? Sigil, always full of surprises. “Chant was that Bronwyn fled – or got herself exiled from – her Prime world for terrible crimes.”

“Was it true?” Xillian went to retrieve his weapons, but his eyes never left her. Jazra found it a little unsettling, but it wasn’t like she’d never been stared at before.

“No idea. What matters is that Bronwyn came to Sigil to make a fresh start – that eyepatch she wore was her only keepsake of her ‘uncaged’ days, if you tumble to my meaning.”

The drow nodded once, returning his rapier to its scabbard before announcing, “The aasling told me to ask you for help.”

“Oh, right. You want I should show you around? It’s what I do for a livin’.”

“Yes,” the drow said, infusing the single word with quiet, unmistakable intensity.

“All right, then.”

Jazra grabbed Xillian’s arm and announced that they were leaving. Just beyond the entrance, the drow fell to his knees, hands clapped over his face.

“What’s wrong?” asked Jazra. “What is it?”

“The light!” Xillian moaned through his hands. “I can’t see!”

Jazra looked around, puzzled. Sigil was hardly worth calling bright, even this close to peak; Xillian must have been really sensitive to the light.

“Hang on!” she said, fishing through her pockets until she came up with a pair of darkly smoked spectacles. She wrenched one of his hands free and thrust the glasses into it, barking “Here, put these on.”

He complied at once; after a moment, he opened his eyes and looked around. “Much better,” said Xillian, not as bothered by the pair of Godsmen gawking at him as Jazra was. She gave them a nasty stare, and they continued down the street, probably trusting the Hardheads to protect them if any trouble started.

“Glad to hear it,” sighed Jazra. “I been carrying those for months meaning to give ‘em back to the fella I got ‘em from, but you need ‘em more than he does, I’ll wager. C’mon, let’s go. I gotta get some bub in me before I start toutin’.”

Xillian fell in step just behind Jazra. They were into the Lower Ward by the time she realized that the drow still hadn’t taken his eyes off of her. She was used to being stared at by the tourists she touted for, especially the Clueless ones, but sooner or later they’d see an efreet or a deva or Harbinger House or something and pay attention to that.

“Somethin’ on your mind, berk?” she asked.

“Bronwyn.”

“What about her,” she fairly growled.

“You said she wasn’t any celestial. Is she dead?”

She stopped and turned on him, snarling out “What’s it to ya?”

He dropped to one knee and cast his eyes down. “Forgive me, milady. Your servant’s curiosity has overwhelmed his knowledge of his place. I meant no offense.”

This guy can’t be real. “S’all right, Xillian. Sheesh, get up.” He stood at once, but still averted his eyes.

“Yeah,” Jazra began, “Bronwyn’s in the dead-book, all right. Someone trumped up some charges against her, and Fritzan Ringhammer was the Hardhead who scragged her. Then Guvners sentenced her, and then the Mercykillers’ Prison killed her, just’s surely as the Wyrm would have.”

“Does Ringhammer think you’re part of the crimes she was accused of?”

“No clue. You should ask him.”

“Perhaps I will,” Xillian said, sending a shiver down Jazra’s spine.

“You better leave him alone, Xillian. Trust me on that one.”

“Of course, milady.”

The tiefling couldn’t stop herself from rolling her eyes. “I ain’t yer lady, berk. Call me Jazra.”

“As you wish, Jazra,” he said, finally looking at her again.

As I wish? thought Jazra. What is he, my servant? Might not be so bad, havin’ some Clueless fungus-munchin’ pretty-boy watch my back. He was pretty. If it’s what he’s used to, just play along for now. “The worst part was when her shop burned down. I thought I might see some justice done, but the ‘investigation’ was the biggest joke I ever saw.”

“You want revenge, then.”

“Bet yer ass I do.”

That shut Xillian up until they reached Vander’s. Jazra didn’t need that drink as badly as she had in the Temple of the Abyss, but she still needed it.

- – - – -

She woke up some time later with no real notion of where she was or how she’d arrived there. She was on top of the covers of an unfamiliar bed in what looked like an inn room, still wearing everything but her boots. Xillian watched her from the room’s lone chair, still as a cat, his injuries apparently healed. The room seemed quite warm for this time of year, though it had no fireplace or other apparent source of heat.

“Good morning,” the drow said.

“Hey.” Jazra sat up cautiously, having been in similar situations before; to her relief, neither her head nor the room span around. In fact, she felt… normal. Quite normal. “Where are we?”

“The Black Sail.”

“Not Vander’s?” she said, scowling. “You know I live there, right? That’s why I went there to drink, you berk.”

“No, I didn’t know that. I should have asked you where you lived when you started to lose control, but you were quite incoherent by the time I did. For this I cry your pardon, Jazra.”

‘S’all right. What do you mean, incoherent?”

“Exactly that. I ended up sedating you.”

“What’d you use?”

“Drow sleep poison; I only used a mild dosage.” Xillian’s expression remained neutral, his body perfectly motionless.

“Zat why I ain’t hung over?”

“It has that effect, yes.”

“Oh. Thanks, I guess.”

“You’re welcome.”

Jazra looked down at her feet, which, like her hands, had four digits each. She pulled the sheets over her legs, frowning. “Did, uh… did anything happen between you an’ me?”

“Sexually? No. As I said, you were sedated. Though you were solicitous before that.” Still matter-of-fact, like he was discussing the weather.

“Oh.” Jazra felt color rising in her cheeks, and she looked away from him. “I, uh, I get carried away sometimes. I’m sorry if it made you uncomfortable.”

“I assure you, the discomfort was my own, not yours.” Xillian got up and dragged his chair closer to the bed before sitting back down. “I’ve never been taken as a lover for reasons that weren’t political.”

She searched his eyes. “I’m sorry, what?”

“A drow female takes anyone who pleases her to slake her desire, but some do so to claim power over a male, to win his loyalty. Alantavra used me in that manner.” She probably wasn’t the only one, Jazra gathered from his tone. “It’s what I’m accustomed to.”

Jazra had to stifle a laugh. “That ain’t me, Xillian. I get an itch, I get it scratched. Nothing more to it than that.”

He leaned forward, and Jazra saw a strange light dancing in the violet of his eyes. “Then why did I hesitate to lie with you?”

”’Cause you think I’m some kinda freak,” Jazra sighed.

“No,” he replied at once. “I’ve never seen anyone like you… but you’re far too lovely to be a freak.”

“You’re bobbin’ me.”

“I would never.”

The tiefling slid a leg out from under the covers and waved her bare foot in the drow’s face. “I ain’t got enough toes, you sod!”

“So?” Xillian easily captured Jazra’s foot in his hands and stroked the sole, sending waves of sensation shooting up her body. She always kept her boots on – nobody had ever done this to her before. She wanted to pull her leg away, but found that she couldn’t.

“I got a tail, too,” she blurted. “I keep it under my skirt most times.”

“I saw. That doesn’t bother me either.”

Jazra believed him. She closed her eyes and concentrated her attention on what Xillian’s talented fingers were doing. “So what was it, then? Did you think you’d be takin’ advantage of me?”

“That’s not it, either. You knew what you were doing – when you were still coherent, at least.”

She felt his lips brush the bottom of her big toe and was certain she was going to melt. The answer came to her, but she struggled to voice it in her blissful state. “Xillian, if one of yer drow females… chooses you, d’you have the right to refuse her?”

“No. That is to say, I could, but I would have been deemed a fool or a madman.”

Or a poofter, she thought. But now her toes were in his mouth; no poofter could do what he was doing to her. “That’s it, then. You’ve never been in the position to refuse before.”

“I think you’re right,” Xillian said, and Jazra sensed his relief as his fingers traced patterns of fire up her leg to the knee.

“Listen, you seem to know what you’re doin’ down there.” She wiggled her foot until Xillian let it go, then lowered it to his crotch, where she felt the hardness she’d expected to find. Pressing her foot against him, her eyes still closed, Jazra said “Then I’m choosin’ you to lie with me. If you wanna refuse, it’s all right… but I think you’d be makin’ a big mistake.”

Xillian was kissing Jazra’s mouth before she realized that he’d stood up. Startled by the drow’s sudden attack, she reacted in the only way she could conceive – by returning the kiss, and deliberately. She broke it off to get out of her vest and top, while Xillian slid her skirt down her legs, until she was clad only in jewelry, beads of sweat already forming on her skin.

Xillian, however, was still fully dressed. Before Jazra could do anything about it, however, he lowered his head, landing kisses upon her belly so light as to seem imaginary. His fingers teased her thighs, walking up her legs, then down – closer to where she wanted them every time, but still maddeningly far away. His mouth reached her sex mere moments before his hands did, and the combination of the three lit a spark that sent Jazra headlong into a personal lake of fire.

She couldn’t tell, specifically, what he was doing to her – only that the effect was exquisite. Xillian wasn’t making love to her; he was worshiping her, feeding her femininity until it bloomed like a sacred and radiant rose. She came fiercely, with greater force than she’d ever experienced, once, then again and again, drinking up his attention greedily, seeking some limit to it, only to find it bottomless.

But it wasn’t just Xillian’s expertise – it was his commitment. This dangerous man from a dangerous world, this man who’d probably spent his whole life looking over his shoulder waiting to be stabbed in the back – had let his guard down to pour his very soul into her.

And she had let him.

Jazra had always been terrified of intimacy, of all its teeth and knives and countless ways to wound her. All of her efforts to “get her itches scratched” had been sabotaged by her own fears and insecurity, by the cruelty of fate, and by the whim of chance. Life had been bleeding Jazra of her love since the day she was born, and now this stranger had somehow bypassed her defenses, found the deepest part of her, and made it glorious.

It was time for her to return the favor.

As if sensing Jazra’s decision, Xillian brought his mouth up to hers, kissing her while continuing to work her slit with one hand, cupping a breast with the other. She tasted her passion on his lips, which drove her to undress him all the faster.

Jazra gasped at Xillian’s nude form. Though his body was perfectly proportioned, the drow’s chest and back were marked by a fine lattice of scars, barely perceptible to the eye, but alive and electric beneath the tips of her fingers.

Pulling him close to her, Jazra spat into her hand, reached down, and found that he was still hard. She began to stroke him, but before she could move to take him into her mouth, Xillian had eased her down onto the bed, gently but insistently. He moved above her in a fluid motion, seeming to part her legs by sheer will alone – and then he was inside her.

She had time to worry that she was too wet to feel him, but that dissipated as Xillian began to thrust, slowly and carefully at first. The sensation was transcendental, and Jazra’s ardor rose as the drow’s pace quickened, and his force increased. She moaned in pleasure, locking her ankles over his ass, scratching at his shoulders with her fingernails. In those moments when her eyes were open, Jazra saw that Xillian’s gaze was still locked upon her; no sound but his breathing came from him. He licked at her nipple; with some effort, she raised her other breast and did the same to it. Then, with one solid push, he sent her hurtling back into the lake of fire.

Sent somewhere outside the consideration of space or time, somewhere beyond her body and her sense of self, past life and death itself, she forced her ecstasy into the semblance of an identifiable form and shape so she could embrace it with all of her being – and it had a dark elf’s face.

Jazra returned to her senses as Xillian’s heat blossomed inside her. The drow groaned faintly, and his lunging subsided, easing the tiefling back into reality. She leaned up to kiss him, pulling him back down to lie on top of her.

And, in spite of the fact that she’d been sleeping for hours, Jazra slept again.

- – - – -

She dreamed, not of this world, but the next world to come.

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DarthKrzysztof

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