This is the fourth story in the Charity series in which the building romance and relationship of Charity and Storm Dragon continues; yet as usual events conspire to try and keep them apart.
Among the roads of the plane-walkers, there is one community, Stars Rift, notorious almost above all the others; it is a place of commerce and of hedonism run rampant with almost no constraints on what can be done, bought, sold, traded or taken by force of arms. People of many species, worlds, trades and the like are to be found; with ten times as many deals being forged and ten more time the same of betrayals, plots, and revenge laid bare or to soon be.
The only thing keeping this powder keg under even a semblance of control is the Academy of the Arts, a school famed for its scholars, libraries, and teaching of mages. None better are to be found, and all know that their plans are only advanced as the sufferance of the school masters will permit; then comes one warning, at the most…
After that level of patience is exhausted the truly fortunate will suffer a swift death, others will wind up among the Masters various personal servants – turned into animals, moving statues, ghosts, or other things best left to the darkest of nightmares made real.
A community within a community, a place of secrets and knowledge that can be found if one is diligent, skilled, lucky and persistent enough – assuming the searcher does not wind up killed in about a thousand thousands hideous ways due to making a mistake in taming these secrets. Such is the price to be paid for these secrets that life itself is gambled by many.
Among the greatest of secrets are those found and mastered by the true core leaders of the school; nine in all are commonly assumed while some estimate as many as twelve or more may be found. Whoever can solve and command the first nine is able to claim the right of becoming a headmaster, thus joining in the most elite ranks of the mages that the Academy has. Of course, along with this achievement comes the desire of numerous ranks of enemies seeking to tear one down from such a lofty perch.
So it is this day that the crowds have gathered about a rose garden in which twin iron statues of stallions set in a fight stand – save now they are a pair of dancing and prancing tigers instead. Clear sign to the two beings that look over them of another mystery has been solved.
“Once again Pele you are right,” said the Chancellor called Storm Dragon by name. “One more of the nine is solved, a total of eight now complete with yet one or more to go. Yet I have to wonder just how many of these greater secrets have also been revealed and tamed?”
Looking at her with an expression of exasperation, he goes on “Do we have any idea who or whom it is? There is a chance our unseen tormenter may be behind this…”
Suspicions they may have as to the ‘whom’ is, yet they will not speak without absolute proof. Soon enough for good or bad they will know; so then the Chancellor casts a quick spell - one allowing him to see forces of magic, lines like a woven rug or stitches of a made garment, each part tells its own story of skill and strength, of signatures each user has as a distinct echo of their craft – like one does in their unique pattern of writing letters and words.
For over an hour he concentrates, contemplates and presses forward to find the solid answers. Yet despite the best of his considerable abilities, no answers are to be found. Truly there is a master of the masters at work. Both he and Headmistress Pele, the only pair within living memory to be known as solvers of the nine, wonder if a new headmaster is about to arise and claim a title of their own.
And if so, how will things change this time?
Hours later, many matters large and small dealt with he storms down the halls taking evasive routes to avoid the ever constant drone of staff who want answers on each and every small detail of the Academy ball in the works. All his attention now is focused on his coming meeting with Charity, who over the last three weeks he meets with daily, for a few minutes or an hour, over dinner at the inn.
This is the true highlight of his day, her keen wit and experience, along with a treasure trove of stories, tales, history and knowledge of esoteric lore of magic and arts. Tonight though, she asked for a different location for their evening meeting – one that has a large couch or bed for two – very close up.
“I still have to get that invitation to her hand, tonight – definitely tonight.”
Journeyman Nicholas takes excessive pride in his bearing and mannerism here at the academy; from boots of immaculate polish and fit to his black shirt of silk, tailored vest and pants of crushed velvet. All of them are as black as his hair, save for the staff he always walks with – made of fine white oak and carved with a gen laden tiger leaping for battle on one end.
His hurried steps echo down the eastern halls, alerting all to look at the source that signifies some importance to the journey. Surprised they are indeed to see this student of the Master Fox-glove enshrouded by rolling clouds of smoke, smelling of brimstone and burned flesh while holes great and small are burned into the clothing. His beloved staff – commanding the essence of fire itself is burned to a amber brown – such is the force of the battle he has just escaped from.
Whispers begin almost at once, stories of the one who masters the summoning of ghosts, specters, elementals of fire, earth, water and air that appear in a myriad of forms – from animals to human like or beyond – even the beings of the heavenly and demonic realms answer to his call and authority. These stories ask what has caused this to happen, has a monster been let loose against him, or did he fail to stop it?
Each question brings a dozen ideas of what could have happened and a hundred more speculations of what they assume happened. Facts are replaced with rumor, some of them centered on the bad luck coming due to a cat-girl who seeks entry into the academy.
These whispers build his anger to higher and ever higher levels, seeking the source of frustrations and to tell the leaders of the academy about the events that have happened. A creature had struck from ambush at him in one of the basement libraries – literally a living shadow darker than the midnight form of a deep cavern where light has never been seen. Only by unleashing a desperate and reckless blast of fire that scorched him within its burst did he live – he was able to gain the initiative and then dispatch it for good.
At the top of the stairs he moves rapidly down the hall and through archways – ones designed to speed the path of those who know the right words and locations to state. In a flash of light he moves rapidly from one unto the next; past and through libraries, halls, and classroom after classroom.
His anger redoubles until finally he reaches the breaking point in discovering the Masters are yet again in another meeting; a sign upon the single door reads:
“Please do not disturb our meeting; for those who chose to do so kindly leave an active address of next of kin so we may know who can come and collect your smoldering carcass off the floor. Thank you and have a nice day.”
“That does it,” he roared. Storming off he WANTS to engage in battle; yet still the Chancellor must be warned or at the least Headmistress Pele. Through another dozen and more archways he passes, seeking out the quarters of the Chancellor. As he nears his destination, he suddenly hears irritating giggles from the door off to the side on which have been set glowing runes warning not to trespass.
“Oh well done creature, well done indeed save that your little ambush is so obvious that I am not falling for it a second time in a row.” He knows this kind of trick very well, where creatures use their innate magical abilities to perfectly mimic sounds and voices – right down to the perfection of tone, inflections and oddball quirks each person has. Only a master of ventriloquism could excel on their own as this assassin does. Yet this time the jig is up, and the hunter is now about to become the hunted.
Holding his staff before him with one hand a silent command sends it charging with primal energy of fire, the very essence of the element as found in the core of the sun. Gently he opens the door with the other, quietly and quickly to gain the upper hand – and once again come the giggles mixing with laughter louder than before; so close is he to the creature. With a rush he whirls through the open portal and unleashes in rapid succession four bolts of flaming death – illuminating the room like the brightest of suns for all to see.
Oh for the two of them to have more time together instead of this hodgepodge of a bit here and there. Such are the thoughts of one now being examined by her companion, and maybe a soon to be lover if she has her way in the matter. Her mind races and heart flutters like a flock of racing songbirds singing to the dawn of a new day at that thought.
She is lying back on a couch in an area near the Chancellors quarters, where most likely no one will dare seek to disturb them. Failing that deterrence working, the ‘do not disturb’ written in glowing letters on the door entering here will usually stop the rest – unless they wish their demise to occur. Of course if they recognized the pair of voices from beyond first they will not bother even to knock.
Her giggles and laughter reach to new pitches and levels, as the one who teases her conjures a set of small and ghostly hands; solid enough to achieve the desired effect with gentle and chilled finger tips. Each of the twelve hands touch her in a different area on the sides and top of her stomach – feathery touches and caresses from some while others make soft swirling patterns in those especially ticklish locations. One spot so touched sends her into arching spasms of hysterical laughter that has her curling up from the sensation.
Four of them shift down to her feet as the rest stop long enough to give her time for the catching of a breath and one large smile directed solely for him – the Chancellor who is here with Charity. Realizing what is about to happen she kicks out teasingly at the hands, her feet and legs passing effortlessly through the ethereal mass of them to no effect. When they begin to tickle the soles of her foot she rocks in laughter barely restrained by the giddiness encompassing her being.
So hard is her laughing and the motions of her body in reaction she has to hold hard on the back and side of the couch to keep from falling off! Even the Chancellor wonders if the old piece of furniture is going to just up and fall apart before they are done. “More!” she screams out with tears of joy running down her face.
“As my lady so commands, then I shall provide.”
The skirt she is wearing – one of amber honey color lined in flowers and blooming cherry trees slides off her bent leg, showing the silken form of her upper thighs to bent knee. All twelve of the hands merge into pairs and then a pair again, becoming just three sets of hands in number. Gently they caress and massage her bared leg from ankle up to the knee, and then along her thighs. “OHHH…I knHOOO…where this is…Ohhhh…goinnng.”
Not quite as she thought, for they do not slip up under the skirt, instead continuing up her abdomen; one on top and one to each side – along with a dozen rose hued lips identical to hers save of the same ghostly nature as the hands. Silently they scoot up to the bottom hem of her shirt, one to each side as the third begins to undo the ties holding it closed – both knowing the treasures waiting to be teased and delighted underneath. Her excitement shows already as the silken covering is clearly revealing her erect and hard nipples.
Smiling coyly at him Charity calls out in a so innocent voice of a southern bell. “Oh dear, it looks like there is something naughty about to happen down there.”
Six lips purse up, silently taking up station where her breasts will soon be open to the air. Charity watches with welcome anticipation; wanting this to go on for as long as possible. Seven ties are opened, her skin revealed to the series of striped patterns on ribs and the portion of a “W” ink-brush pattern from below her breasts to the side of each and up between.
Lips quiver in anticipation building like a star as her body twitches from suspense. Hands move to grasp the arm of the couch above her head, for a more secure hold she feels is going to be needed in a moment. One string short of opening the shirt do the hands stop, coming together with fingers waggling in some form of silent talk she cannot figure out…at least until those ghostly lips move to place little pecks along her neck and lips, some moving to the back of her ears beginning to focus on the most erotic of spots she has…and soon her eyes begin to take on a dreamy look as the brain shifts to other concerns than vision.
Her lips quiver and twitter about slightly, opening and closing ever so slightly with the changing pattern of her breath. One spot gets touched just so by the ghostly lips, sending her head arching upward and ears pursed close to her skull; eyes flutter for a moment until the lids come down and close. So wonderful is this bliss she has on the move in her body that her hips - twisting slightly to place them on the side and legs drawing up tight – does not even register in her brain.
The Chancellor slowly eases her back down from the building passion and energy flowing in her being; seeking to contain it some and make it last as long as possible for her. The desire on his face is clear, he wants to show her just how much he can do – and maybe, both hope, nothing will interrupt the union their hearts seek.
Those dreamy eyes look upon him once again, filled with love and adoration abundantly clear. Moving over on his knees to be closer to her face, his smile filled expression ignites fires all the brighter in her heart. Lips move on her face, declaring a silently spoken “I love you” that is the most she can speak right now.
With a formal bow and doffing his hat – a top hat decked out in the most outrageous plumage of feathers that defy deion. Each is from eighteen to thirty inches in length, and colored in a swirl of bright yellows, oranges, reds and violets like a mad artist’s paintbrush being unleashed.
“Now then my lady,” he asks of her “would you be so kind to volunteer for the next routine? Which will consist of making her clothing from the waste down disappear; so that I may induce hideous amounts of delights upon you until you launch into the heavens…”
“Yes…oh yes…” she said.
“First thing is first though,” he says unto her.
She sees one of the hands hover before him giving a wagging finger meaning “did you not forget something first” expression, as the other two clenched over her breastbone then parted palms up saying “like these are still covered” in regards to her bosom. The last tie slips free of its bonds, and those hands move the fabric away inch by teasing inch. Moving swiftly and silently those lips shift position to hover above the naval and shoulders – indicating what is to come next in the way of their foreplay.
No giggles this time, just loud laughter and squeals of absolute delight as the lips begin nibbling and pecking on each spot she has that is sensitive to this attention. Eyes shut tight and tears flow freely, even as the excitement for him builds as well; never has anyone been able to do this to her, so much and so well. One portion of her being just screams – pleading, caterwauling, begging for her just to “grab him and hump his brains out until the smoke comes ringing out of his ears and he is insensate to anything else!!!”
Deciding enough is indeed enough she reaches to him with the speed of a chasing cheetah and pulls him close enough to where she can feel his breath on her cheeks. “You know my Stormy,” she looks at him knowingly, while teasing him with her personal nickname, “what I am about to do right now…hmmm?” Oh he most clearly does, most clearly.
Their shared world is instantly transformed a moment later into a maelstrom of smoke, fire, and heat beyond all imagination; four times in rapid succession this happens, then the surviving ceiling and walls collapse in upon the two as they lose the strength to remain upright any longer. From the clouds of dust and smoke, no noise or signs of life are to be heard or observed.
Among the grounds of the Academy many people are gathering in groups or as couples to enjoy one of the rare good weather days; skies as sapphire blue and cloud free save for a small handful of powder puffs on the ends of the horizon. Three of the moons hang low in the sky, all nearly turned into crescents by their slow rotation in synch with forces greater than most comprehend or care to investigate.
So it is today declared by the Masters and teachers a day free of scheduled classes – save for Master Fox-glove and his nightmarish ideals of teaching. People are seen dancing and frolicking about, engaging in the challenges impromptu on the spot by one mage to another – fireworks, illusions of great beasts or dragons of all shapes and colors that only the imagination can be limited by. Others raise a ruckus of wagers, squeals and insults of anger as they race by on flying carpets – weaving and dodging one another and the buildings to cross a stated finish line across the campus grounds.
Yet still, there is this day a sort of exam going forth near the area of the Masters Hall. Originally assigned to the Great Hall at the heart of the Academy, the preparation for the upcoming ball makes it too busy and distracting for usage. So it is that the three Fox brothers find themselves watching over a group of students in their first to third year of education; each one seeking the coveted spot as apprentice to a school Master, almost guaranteeing them eventual promotion to the rank of Journeymen in the years ahead.
The three watch very carefully attending with absolute diligence the duties entrusted to them on this day. So alike are they in appearance, in mannerism and movement, no one understands if they are this way due to being three bodies with one shared mind or being identical triplets. Two other traits separate them from most others in the place – eyes that are as dark as onyx stone, and their synchronous monotone voices always polite, cultured, courteous at all times save for the lack of any emotion.
All of the students know their promotion will depend on the scores of these three – and two being watched are locked in a battle of wills in which via their magic of fire forged into twin flaming dragons – one red the other green, about the size of ones hand from wrist to fingertip – they vie for dominance. The first dragon to devour the other indicates their controller wins.
For minutes on end the struggle, focusing will and passion into this fight, sweat rolling down their faces and matting hair – so intense is this strain yet neither will concede or back down. Each dragon slashes and bites, to pin down the other. Many others gather at a distance to observe yet not interfere, for tradition on this is clear that any outsider who does do such is summarily faced with the Journeymen’s choice of injuring or slaying the person outright.
Slowly the flaming red dragon gains dominance, consuming more and more of the green flames until a last bid of determination is seen and the other counter attacks, smashing and devouring the red in a flurry of fire and smoke. So quick does it happen silence reins many a moment, until the crowd erupts into cheers; all three of the Fox brothers give their congratulations to the winner as well.
Pandemonium breaks out as a chain of four massive and shattering explosions come from the rooms above this gathering. Massive amounts of shattered rock fly outward, from shrapnel sharp pebbles to blocks of multi tons in mass; fire and smoke are clearly seen from the now gaping gouge in the wall. The groans of structure that cannot hold under the sudden shift of weight lets all know that the rest is coming down shortly.
The three brothers and many senior students in addition to other Journeymen close enough to the crowds shout out words of magical power and create shimmering barriers of force that deflect away the smallest projectiles, and barely stop the largest that hit. Three more blasts come again, staggered one after the other, bringing down yet more of the unstable structure flaming into the area below.
Considered something of a miracle that none were hurt, only one casualty has been found and not a death by the rubble – one who has perished in battle of magic against magic. Upon the shattered form is a message with the letters alive in green fire, clear for all to understand.
“As per the ancient code of revenge my meaning is clear – for crimes against my family and my own being the two known as the Chancellor and the cat-girl Charity are so targeted; so long as they are involved in the daily affairs of the academy, all of Journeymen rank and above who interfere as well as all headmasters are fair game. This will be the only warning so given – each and every death to come is upon their hands.”
The corpse is clear to the Journeymen – Nicholas, their classmate and one of the most powerful as well.
The Chancellor, Headmistress Pele, Masters Sheo and Charity stand in the Masters hall, discussing what has occurred and how to proceed from here. Twenty and six Journeyman mages stand watch, in addition to five who answer alone to the Headmistress – these ones are often referred to as the “Hidden Ace” in reference to a word the Chancellor was overhead saying about them…or about Pele, no one really is sure.
Especially the one of the group who noticed that Pele has a most unique gift about her, no form of magic is able to see her directly or even to affect her in any way. In short as far as anyone knows, she cannot be harmed thus in any fashion. More mysteries piling up on other mysteries about the Headmistress; and the legends of her are already numerous enough the truth and fiction are hard to separate.
The stench of burned wood, stone, dust and dirt, along with charred furniture and carpeting hangs heavily in the air yet; even worse is the smell of fear from those gathered about the circle of the Masters Hall, awaiting any word as to what has passed – and spreading rumor and gossip until such truth comes out. All kinds of stories are on the rampage, like a plague of rats that starts with one then grows rapidly into a swarm millions strong.
Some of the tellers of these tales though are less than accidental in telling them; making sure they are targeted upon the Chancellor indirectly and Charity deliberately. They constantly speak of the last time a cat-folk was in the Academy, student or not and the devastation wrecked fifty years ago before their band was stopped. With the rising dissent and murmuring building one more event nearly sparks off a firestorm.
While the Fox brothers are called to attend and testify what happened outside the area, many see the figure of Master Fox-glove and his band of Journeymen students sauntering forward in casual disregard to all about. The band has eyes locked on the leaders ahead. Briefly does it appear that a battle is brewing between sides, clearly an indication of a pending power struggle for leadership of the school, until the Headmistress orders passage be made for the Master Fox-glove alone.
Sharp, vulgar and damning to the core are his accusations and railings against the Chancellor in general and of Charity specifically; so vitriolic is his anger, face turning red as flames themselves, many expect he will lunge forward to try and slay her himself. From being blamed for many attempts on the Chancellors life to the death of Journeyman Nicholas. His students in the crowd make sure to repeat the words given to them for this single moment, to drive home repeatedly the theory all going on is due to her and her alone.
Everyone observes carefully the growing rage in the eyes of the Chancellor, clouds of darkness forming about his area as lightning illuminates within each. Patches, the little dragon of hers leans forward after alighting to her shoulder – eyes white hot and body patterns swirling between red and blue – shifting with his desire to be protective of Charity and striking down this impudent Master.
“Journeymen attend,” Master Sheo calls out quietly, his chosen dozen students of that rank gather about, alert and ready for action as he or the situation dictates. As the master of protocol, etiquette and diplomacy for the school and many kingdoms, he uses this time as a impromptu lesson of life.
“Denote the confrontation occurring between the various parties, and where each has their loyalties mixed with conflicts of duties or in the case of one, suicidal stupidity and lunacy.” His words are used in a steady and very formal delivery of a school professor; while those who have studied with him for long enough clearly detect the utter level of contempt and disgust directed at Fox-glove.
In turn he expands upon each theory and practice used in formal diplomacy and behavior for the courts of many kings and rulers. At the ready though, one arm in a crossed support to the other with an armband of glittering gold and silver set in a pattern of twin tigers dancing and playing. It is capable of an major bit of offensive magic – the band has been endowed with the essences of fire, air, water and lightning; thus making it capable of piercing almost any defenses - magical or mundane – that could be conceive of.
His students understand the extra lesson he is teaching here in his preparation. When all else fails and hostilities are about to break out – strike first, strike hard, strike to kill so as to save your boss and your own tail.
“Learn well what is going on, for each and every detail of manner, stance, nuances of word and all such as we usually cover will be on the coming test in three days. Exact details are to be desired for good grades,” looking upon the Chancellor and the brewing storm from the corner of his eyes, he continues “for extra credit, there will be a question of which of the methods used or most likely used by the Chancellor in this confrontation as found on the ‘Top 100 list of exquisite executions to be visited upon a doomed man.’ “
One bit of troubling news he has just discovered is that his heightened senses for all matters of magic and of revealing a persons intentions – such as peace, attack, rampaging on, etc – did not work on Charity, just as it will not on the Headmistress…a mystery to be looked more into later.
Deciding the limits of diplomacy and tact have been achieved, the Chancellor prepares to unleash one of his favorite spells – the force of uttermost cold of space itself, reducing the victim to a shell of crystal ice to either then melt or shatter into fragments. The only thing holding him in check is that this may start a true civil war in the Academy, from which it will not recover…in addition to the fact he does wonder if the one who has solved eight of the nine mysteries may in fact be Master Fox-glove.
Charities gentle touch jolts him back to the here and now, looking fully upon her face. Her eyes clearly ask the question of “Why are you going to do that?”
Amazingly she stands completely untouched by the fire, heat, and the collapse of two floors of stone and wood upon the both. His own clothing is enchanted to withstand even the fiercest of flame and heat, deflect or absorb blows tough enough to fell a large giant in one blow, and other such matters. Even the vest she wears now, loose on her frame and reaching to mid thigh, bears such warding magic.
Yet she has no such protections on herself or her garments. Not one singed hair, no burn mark, no bruising or indications she was even in the epicenter of that holocaust as they actually were. He sees both her and Patches, now a solid black as onyx stone, lower their gazes, as if in shame for surviving or of a great secret about to be passed on and expected to be unwelcome anymore.
“Charity,” he whispers into her ear as his hug enfolds about her body. “Tell me please what is wrong, this great shame or such you think will drive you away. I have played this kind of game too many times and do not want it to happen again…”
“Please,” her hand gently touches his cheek, “do not say anything more until you know it all.”
Touching her forehead to his, she opens herself to him completely, exchanging such a volume of her life in less time than it takes for a human heart to beat twice. So much becomes clear as glass, of her life and abilities, in addition to her true heritage – one who walks between two worlds…one who expects to be banished again after finding love once more in her life.
Her gift of knowledge is clear now, if he so chooses he can use it to destroy her – there will be no way she could stop him at all. He sees those lips quivering and eyes beginning to tear up as she awaits summary judgment on her very existence.
“Hell’s Bells girl,” he states clearly and even handed to her, “just when I think I have you figured out you up and give me a wonderful surprise. Charity please stay in my life, you and Patches both, there is too much more for me to learn from you, a lifetime and beyond worth. I have, you see, grown extremely fond of you and wish to let this grow more and more, if time and fate permits it to happen.”
The frenzy of shocked and sudden gasps, shouts of outrage and support, denials and delights echo from the crowd as the two are swept into a full puckered kiss that leaves no doubt where their allegiance has been given first and foremost. Releasing herself from his embrace, Charity advances on Fox-glove not one bit of concern or unease showing, just the sign of rage of eyes turning white hot as incandescent flames.
All hear her speak clearly and calmly, voice echoing through the hall to everyone. She asks him directly if he is the one who slew Nicholas and left the message of revenge alight on his corpse. His denials sound hollow and weak to all, who now wonder what secret knowledge there is to this counter accusation. With a snort of disgust she turns her back on him to head back to the Chancellor.
Hands poised up at her back that dance with black lightning arching between finger tips, he prepares to strike her down from behind – a cowards move. The other Masters, Journeymen and Chancellor hold him though, not backing down but waiting as if weighing the odds…until Charity turns back around to face him. “If you choose to strike then understand,” she declares in a voice as cold as ice, “I will reduce your entire being to ashes and cast them into the Emerald seas to the west of here.”
Clearly reaching the understanding that discretion is the better part of staying alive, he storms off calling for all his Journeymen to come along.
First round of the coming power struggle goes to the Chancellor.
Master Sheo lowers his arm as Fox-glove plus entourage depart with due haste. “Journeymen attend.” All eyes turn fully to him of his own band. “Watch him closely, keep note of all actions and the smallest unusual of his meetings and such. If he moves openly against the Headmistress, Chancellor or Charity – execute him with all due extremeness of prejudice. He is not to survive.”
For those within earshot, his orders have just raised the stakes of the evolving power struggle considerably.
Headmistress Pele and her five assistants depart hastily down a little used hallway connecting with her quarters; one area linked to it is the aviary where she takes much delight in the flying birds. So much song and life, they are amazing, and let her be entertained for hours on end if she chooses such.
“Pride and wounded ego come before the fall, whispers of shadows past spring forth to seek doom of those who live in the now and hold the hope of a future union. So I hear the whispers and give warning, as a guardian of the halls I have been charged to do so…the final doom of the ball is set, when many will take the fall, listen to the past to know the future.” With that warning given, Pele sees a ghost dissolve away into nothingness, one of the defenders of the academy who now passes into the afterlife, his duty completed at long last.
Turning about quickly she set off to find the Chancellor and others loyal to him, to give the warning and prepare for the confrontation to come. For the second time in her long life, she experiences cold, stark and terror filled fear – only once before, defeated by the Chancellor himself, did she know the same.
Dawn comes to the shores of the Emerald Sea near the community of Stars Rift. She breaths in the heady mix of scents – saltwater, plants of a hundred kinds and a thousand plus flowers as well. Birds caw and squawk soft or loud, some making dainty little peep-peep-peep sounds. All of it is sweet music to her ears, flicking here and there in response to whatever catches her attention at the moment.
Skilled fingers go to work on the kinks in her neck, massaging and kneading knotted muscles until they yield like bread dough in the hands of a baker. Slowly the tension accumulated in the night drains away and once again she is able to truly relax. Strong arms move about her stomach and guide her back against her love – the Chancellor Storm Dragon.
Her hands moving over his as he presses cheek to cheek, she just sighs in contentment. “I wish we could just for one time stay here and forget the rest of the world. No cares, no concerns, no annoying Master Fox-glove who you were about to destroy in some hideous manner…ahhhmm!”
A steady stream of giggles and laughter erupts from his kisses on her neck that swiftly reach her chin and then cheeks to the base of her ears. One massive shudder followed by a second as he hits just the one spot that sets her fires alight within. His hand lowers the borrowed vest off of a shoulder, caressing it gently. Oh how he does know to touch her just here and there, and just in this manner as well!
Head arched back slightly and eyes closed in both relaxation and building of desire in her heart and being. Ears flutter up and down in a perfect choreograph of time and rhythm to each breath, the surest sign she is literally fighting between control of her passions and just letting them cut loose and enjoy. Paradise is hers today here in the dawning light.
Instinctively she begins moving in rhythm to his actions on her body; swaying her pelvis gently side to side arms wrapping around his neck behind her. She feels those strong leg muscles of his in addition to the manhood rising well and true to her dance. “YeHsss…this issHs…good, so gh-gh-ghood…don’t stop, just do not stop no matter…whHHHt…”
Dreamy eyes opening and looking back over her shoulder at him, she falls into that pair of beautiful eyes and smile meant for her alone. Turning completely to face him she wraps her legs about his torso and raises her arms into the air – opportunity offered and answered as he lifts the vest off her form. Hands caress each and every curve and flow of her hands and arms, down to her shoulders and making twin spirals down to those most lovely breasts…nipples hard and full in the air sending tingles of delight and electrical energy to the core of her being.
Her pelvis begins rocking against his, bared bottom against his soft britches; each stroke sending new feelings of the softest silk and linen, of the hardness of his muscles, as well as the building heat of his manhood. She then adjusts slightly, a little here and there, until she knows the dance being performed is having the desired effects and the destination she wants to achieve soon.
Strong arms enfold her about the stomach and shoulders, as her own reach over and back about his neck; then she moves as deep against him as possible to continue the strokes of her body against his. Her cheek brushes to his, and each inhalation of breath for her is a rich aroma of the waters so near, of plant life in a bouquet of over a dozen and ten different flowers, the very musky odor of his, mixed with still damp hair from an earlier swim.
Oh for a moment she has found paradise.
She feels each tender caress of his hand heading downward, teasing a massive series of giggles and a playful thump back with her rump when it reaches the inner thighs. Turning her head slightly, pressing lips to cheek she waits for the magic to come. And as it does, so strong is her body’s reaction that her back arches dramatically, while the eyes lose focus and roll upward, mouth twittering and opening-closing rapidly as air comes to her lungs in shallow gasps. Oh that one spot of sensuous pleasure inside of her he touches just right.
Fireworks and Roman Candles shoot into the air, a cornucopia of colors, detonations, and flashes of light come one after the other, building into a tapestry of noise, passion, heat and euphoria. Her mind races upward in the sensations first as a hawk flies to the heavens, then beyond passed the moons and unto the stars at the edge of the universe itself.
She does not want this to end soon, not before – “Damn.” –the words register along with his hands ceasing their activity. As she descends from the heavens to the earth and her body again, she becomes aware of voices coming from nearby. Stern is his face in anger and impatience of one interrupted at a most inopportune moment.
His exasperated sigh is only equaled by hers.
For in a crescent arc off to one side of them is a gaggle of elf lads and lasses; escorted by five matronly ladies who stand aghast in the scene before them. Among the younger folks giggles and gasps of shock and curiosity emerge; the fellows moving to ‘lovingly and honorably shield their date’s eyes from such worldly corruption’ and also see some real raw sex act in action – or so they hoped. Four of the matrons try to alternately shoo the youngsters away while scolding both the Chancellor and Charity.
The last though, keeps looking out over the waters as if something is drawing her attention.
Then comes a wave of water as a form – sleek, shining and black as night – erupts skyward from the sea; echoes of a roar that shatters hearing and knocks folks to their knees or the ground continue to the horizon and beyond.
Shortly comes a second then a third, combining with the elves panic filled cries and those of the Chancellor as he moves swiftly to engage this newest of foes – his own face Charity sees clearly set in anger beyond all.
Three figures watch in three perfectly crafted and flawless mirrors floating in the air before their chairs. They are the Fox brothers, going about their task with the usual methodical and logical ways as always done. Yet this day is a disturbance from the normal – a mystery, not great yet disturbing as a thought of importance one cannot recall. They observe in the mirrors the image of the elves, sea drake and the Chancellor clearly, yet Charity appears next to him, unless focused on directly – then she fades out of view, undetectable and untraceable.
Three methodical and monotone voices declare in unison “A mystery to solve at a more opportune time. Now though,” hands raise medallions to lips, “Headmistress Pele, Master Sheo, the Chancellor is in danger by a Sea Drake; the one we believe is called ‘Oceanus-Huntsman.’ We leave now to assist in their defense.”
Standing as one and hands extending to which their staffs of magic fly into, they tap once each on the floor and in a flash of light vanish.
Another watches from nearby, gazing into a shimmering mirror like image suspended by magic before him; all going on he finds as heady as sweet-berry wine, subtle and mixed in aroma and to the pallets taste. Unto these two, now facing his agent – the Sea Drake whom his magic has made faster and stronger than normally possible – he just waves a not so fond goodbye.
Turning to the one standing near the doorway, he then instructs “Go now and carry out your part of the plan, exercise more care now. Avoid causing any more deaths as this day, for we may have alerted them too soon. All must be in place when that one moment arrives. All must be in place.”
The figure bows and retreats into the space beyond the door.
Both fail as well to see that the watcher of Charity and Chancellor – now drawn back by a primordial scream of the damned from beyond the grave mixed with fury of all the demons of Hades being unleashed – is in turn being watched…a pair of eyes that shift constantly from amber, to green, to red and then to white rage. Hard is his fight to keep camouflaged, so heated is his rage, to strike now while it is best – instead prudence wins and he departs quickly to find help.
By Fate and curiosity he found this hideout of their adversary – chasing a scent familiar from nearly a century in the past – one long thought destroyed. Yet it is the other, one he has dealt with long before meeting his current companion, which is the true danger.
Chancellor Storm Dragon just stands there with cane raised, about to call upon his greatest abilities, the means to transform into that creature of which his own name has been derived. Wise to the ways of battle in the arcane Art, in forms human and dragon, and a dozen in-between; over a thousand ways to capture, restrain or destroy all foes who dare to challenge, and yet helpless he is now to deal with the forces before his eyes.
Helpless indeed, no matter that Charity charged him to protect the elves from the battle. As she roared in defiance and frustration back to the Sea Drakes initial challenge; her thoughts to him were simple and straight as light “Keep the elves safe, and give me room to fight.”
So it is he maintains the glowing sphere of light and force about them all, knowing how strong it will be, and how his heart wants to go to her.
Battle has been joined for only a minute and it is not going well for Oceanus one of the most deadly of the Sea Drakes. Having seen the elves move to the beach he wanted a quick and light snack of them before moving on to engage bigger game…and now one of the two he has been dispatched to eliminate is becoming a most major annoyance.
Even more annoying though is this feeling he is being watched from nearby, a sensation like the annoyance of a fly hovering about the ear of a land dweller while doing some important task.
-- Giggling --
What was that – focus on crushing this impudent stripling of a cat-girl.
Swifter than most can comprehend he slashes with a whirlwind of claws capable of shredding steel armor and jaw set with 24 inch teeth. Always she moves just out of reach, by a whisker here or a footstep aside there. It is as if she knows what he is going to do the instant he does…
-- Giggling --
“Oh how you yell and shout, unable to stop a little old lady like me?” declares that annoying voice within his own mind and thoughts.
“Huh?” he wonders.
Quickly a plan develops – and with quick words of power brings forth in one claw a shimmering sphere of acid glowing green with the death contained. Seeing exactly where she is moving to, he sets to lob it after her, just waiting for the right moment – Now – THERE…
-- Not there, HERE --
It misses as he lobs it well past her location, seeing it detonate in a vicious cloud of liquid dissolving plants and rocks for a 30 foot sphere. He does not know why his mind said first to toss it where the girl stands then over to where it hit…
Suddenly his mind crashes in upon itself. A barrage of mental noise – like hearing a thousand conversations while ten thousand drums are beaten and one million off tune trumpets are playing all at once. His mind tries to focus upon one and then another, unable to clearly concentrate on anything.
His body stands momentarily still while eyes observe the impending doom descending down from the sky…
Twin fists of glittering force, controlled by Charities arcane mastery of the Art, slam into Oceanus – one each to the side of his great angled head. Once, twice, three and then four times they hit, raising a cacophony of sounds such as a thousand steel drums could only compare to. Snapping out of his confusion – for which the Chancellor has an idea who is responsible – he lunges at one fist passing by only to be slapped hard by the other.
Lightning – bright and as hot as the sun – strikes out from the Drakes claws, an even dozen bolts seeking to end her life. The retort of the thunder echoes off to the horizon, shaking all about for a mile or more, two bolts shake and deflect off his shielding barrier into the ground. The rest engulf Charity, sealing her certain doom.
Rage encompasses his character as the Chancellor prepares to unleash a doom beyond words to the Drake if he is wrong about Charity…such a woman…
“And that is, as they say, that…” he chuckled.
-- Giggles on top of more giggles --
“You drakes are much the same as my beloved – stubborn, strong and dense in the head as a brick at times.”
Descending with the momentum of a meteor out of the sky, the two shimmering fists slam the laughing monster on top of the head. Such is the force of impact IT collapses to the ground, legs splayed out and eyes rolling in that massive skull. Down they come again and yet once more, in accordance to the will of the one commanding them. So forceful is the combination that its head has been buried deep into the beach sands.
Charity stands yet, unhurt and untouched by the elemental fury of the storm made reality.
The eruption of sand and rock, along with one more massive roar of uttermost rage and defiance indicates the same is still true of the Sea Drake.
“BLAST IT ALREADY” - his thoughts roar – “I have got to do something to help her AND protect these people at the same time.”
Quicker than he could have anticipated, and much more swiftly than it should be physically possible, that whip like tail shoots around; once, twice and a third time does it snap at her, barely failing to hit by merest of inches. Like a snake it shoots forward, claws whirling a storm of death as jaws flex and lunge to strike and devour if contact is made.
Dodging and rolling to the side of its 40 or more feet in length, she lifts arms skyward and then across each other with palms facing outward flat. Halfway in a sharp turn, the Sea Drake is grabbed by unseen force and then flung upside down onto its back. All feel the impact of the five tons of mass coming down instantly.
Eyes glowing with electric blue intensity, the Sea Drake looks on with supreme contempt to her face as the fists return and descend once again. Lightning arcs between his claws, building in and on itself in the most lethal of devastation he is capable of unleashing – ready to strike down with a hundred times the force he had hit her with earlier…
“Oceanus, for daring to keep me and my beloved from our night together…you will not enjoy this at all…that I do promise…adieu…” And so the most irritating of voices he has heard departs.
Upon the doom to come he does focus and knows this indeed going to hurt – a lot.
The Fox brothers arrive just in time to hear the echoing CRUNCH signaling the end of the battle.
All three scrunch up their faces as one, displaying the mixture of abject horror and relief – along with amusement to the fate of Oceanus. Smiles emerge indicating the “glad that was not me” statement. Each agrees that his fate is not undeserved, and totally true to the whimsy of Charity.
Quicker than voice could convey, they reach out to each other with their minds – telepathy – reaching a plan and enacting it before a heartbeat happens. For what most do not know is they have a limited skill in the mind arts of psionic’s; this is their secret in perfect harmony of actions, three beings bound by thoughts shared. In unison they chant out words of power that bind the Sea Drakes legs and massive jaw in place with a glittering web of golden chains. Nothing can break them save a true master of the Art.
Their attention turns to Charity who is breathing hard and fast, and labored – sweat flows down her form like a series of streams she is staggering, moving erratically as she fights to remain conscious, then finally succumbs and slips to the ground just as their hands grab a hold…easing her down gently.
Wonderment and delight show for a moment upon the Chancellors face, amazed by the sheer diversity of skills and resilience Charity has. Yes she is indeed all that is claimed by her. Turning to the elves while sundering the spell barrier he speaks to the men of the little band.
“Now then young gentlemen, learn this lesson well as happened to the Sea Drake. Any of these honorable ladies of whom you escort is more than capable of doing the same, to you if your advances are unwanted. Remember the often quoted saying of ‘Hell has no fury like a woman scorned, save for one with her mother.’ “
He turns back, smiling again at the tactic she pulled off, commonly known in spell battle as the “Nutcracker.” For a long time he will fondly remember the look upon the face of Oceanus – mouth hanging slackly open and eyes rolling around in his head as whimpering noises escaped lungs and a body in total shock and despair.
The motion of her collapse and the Fox brothers aiding shed it just as fast, and he rushes over to help as well.
Other eyes red with anger watch in the scrying mirror at yet ANOTHER plan failing. More and more this one cat-girl is delaying plans in action for so very long. The twitching of scars across his shoulders and back, the results of an encounter with a pet of hers, serves to remind him that patience will be rewarded.
So he can wait, a bit longer, for his well earned revenge.
Hours later, far into the pre dawn of a new day instead of a night for slumber the Chancellor lets his thoughts drift away. Charity lays covered a short distance away breathing softly and contently with little Patches next to her. For all he can do to push the thoughts out, the chain of events continue to intrude…
Mystery upon mystery to solve, the warning given to Pele, and now one more mortal enemy to deal with as it was that one who Patches found in a vacant area of the Academy – sealed for ages now…an enemy who can command a Sea Drake and enhance its abilities so well…
…Looking about with eyes opening he clearly understands a dream is his new location, surrounded by the favored rose garden of his on the Academy grounds. The breeze carries the scents of roses and sky, clear and crisp plus the whiff of cinnamon unique to one nearby – Charity.
“Oh my bountiful stars – what have I done to deserve this even here among the dreams?”
There she stands in the nude, hands enfolded behind her back, head hung slightly down and to the side as one embarrassed and shy, while those eyes and smile danced with pure mischief. Those two ears twitch excitedly in anticipation of mischief and fun beyond count soon to occur. The ‘W’ shape of ink-brush strokes enfold around her breasts, highlighting the amber brown of her skin and long river of silken, snow white hair glistening with light reflective from the sun.
Standing before her, daring not to move lest this dream end, his body heat rising as desires awaken in his brain.
It seems like hours have passed, and yet not one move or word is spoken. Finally she gives a little huff on a strand of her hair – exasperation at this annoying delay between them.
“Fine then, I guess this has to be done my way. The greatest of mages in this community and still as clueless as any guy getting laid for the first time…shish.”
She saunters over to him, hips moving just so – enticing and alluring, letting him see her pussy fully from the front. Her chest she covers with one arm, below those so enticing breasts she jiggles teasingly, trying to get his full attention – which she already has as his growing manhood, testifies about. Oh how this has to be a dream for him to be tormented with in sleep; yet those softest of mounds he cannot stop locking his eyes upon.
That giggling laughter of a babbling brook draws his face upward – her mouth covering those rose red lips.
“My love, there is more to me than just these” – she indicates her bosom with a definite wiggling motion that sends them moving like bared dancers – and him almost over the edge into total falling to the ground face first.
“Why am I acting like such a schoolboy again, not since…too many years ago.” He thought to himself.
Three times she softly knocked her fist onto his forehead, regaining his attention with those eyes of hers; letting him fall deeper into their green and blue pools of wonderment. Strands of the softest white hair hung down over and to the side of them. He also sees the look within coming back, her untamable spirit, love coming forth and something more – pure, unadulterated and burning LUST.
Her lips flare into a smile, and ears swirl fully forward; letting him know that the object of her hunt has now been found and caught. The same knocking hand entwines fingers about strands of his hair, stroking his brows and driving him madder with his own heat – she knows how to get him going alright.
Softly one finger point flows over his nose, around his eyes, to one cheek and back to the other; then caressing his lips teasingly – small circles and snuggles on each muscle and point. The smell of cinnamon from her mixes with the smell of the air, of flowers in bloom, and of…the elder rose lotus…his favorite of smells!!!
He inhales deeply, savoring each aspect of it as one does the headiest and most desirable of wines.
Taking her hand into his own, both wrapping about and drawing it closer – he hopes the dream will not end now, just when so much may happen. Into her palm he kisses softly, little pecks climbing to each finger tip. It continues up the back of her hand, letting him feel her body quiver as she breaths in deeper and louder when a series of spots are reached.
Her arms encompass about his neck, while his move to be about her waist – each drawing the other forward to become almost one in body. The feel of strong muscles on her lower back, yielding ever so slightly to each swirl and circling stroke placed over them. His lips go to her neck, little pecks here and then there, and just so there as well.
She stretches upward, back arching further into him and pressing her breasts that he can so clearly feel. If this is a dream then it’s the paradise he has wanted for some time now. Her cheek presses against his rubbing fiercely as one hand climbs her back – the other holding her gently yet firm – and doubles the intensity when the neck and back of her head are reached.
Kisses are his to give, and give them he does, not the crushing force kind of most monster-like men; he wants to – nay, he NEEDS to, please her as well. One kiss just below her ear has her climbing upward, crushing bind on his neck almost of strangling force. Her one thigh gets pressed against his, shifting higher and higher as she is readying herself to make the next move.
Fingers sweep behind the ear, swirling playfully and softly in circles and alphabet style moves such as A, D, E, and so on. Gasp follows upon rasping gasp as her excitement builds and the heat of her body flows into his own, little flutters and twitches from the cheek-to-cheek lets him know her eyes are closed and rolling about. The one leg wraps fully about his waist, and she eases to a tip-toe stance on the other.
Grasping her buttocks secure with both hands, he feels her wrap both legs around his waist and locking tight the grip; her lips and his lock in their universal embrace of kisses, pecks, and bliss as each sinks deeper into desire for the other – a communion of love they long to fulfill.
One hand of hers slips away from about his neck and works its way down his chest, unlacing each portion of the shirt and exposing muscles tougher than iron, teasing along the scars of many battles recent and long past that he wears as reminders of lessons learned.
Downward it continues until he is gasping in desire and pleasure with her actions, fighting to keep from losing it right then and there. “Girl so help me I may up and die with a smile on my face in this dream.”
Those loving eyes focus upon him, delirious with passion, lust and raw driven sexuality that will haunt him with paradise for the rest of his life…if this were only real…
“My Storm Dragon, my love…this is our dream…we can stay and do what we choose…and…”
- Distant pounding upon wood is heard -
“No not now.” Rage and disappointment swirls in the Chancellors voice.
- Incessant pounding…desperate and voices calling out…-
“Charity please hold me here…” he crushes her in his embrace not wanting this moment to pass at all, to never let her go. “I love you and do not want this to end…”
Then he awakens into the real world – fuming like a volcano about to explode.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Never ending work is what he faces, constant and demanding.
“Patches,” he states to her friend, the little dragon who has been her lifelong companion, “let her sleep, she has more than earned it; and take slumber for you too. I will be back as soon as I can win free of this spiders web once again…after this blasted ball coming up is finished I am taking a vacation and both of you are welcome to come along.”
“My Storm Dragon –“her thoughts reach from her mind into his – “return when you can, my body will sleep for a day or more to recover; yet you and I can walk my memories, my dreams if you so choose even while the rest of me sleeps.”
His hand entwined with hers, the warmth comforting and loving, he declared “Yes I do wish to, to learn more of you and in turn share what is of my life. Though some of it may be a bit of a problem –“
Blam! Blam! Blam! The incessant knocking continues with cries of his name and ranking.
“You mean the one called Felicity?”
“The other day when you watched over me, even exhausted as I was I could not but help sense the image of her in your surface thoughts as the locket of mine was examined.”
“I will share the memories if you can do so, you can meet her as I experienced it. Just understand my dear; the adventure may reveal things you do not want to find out. Sometimes there are secrets best left alone, as I have learned to my eternal regret.”
“So what – I trust you completely. You now know beyond measure what I am, the two worlds I walk within, I want to know, and besides as soon as we can get it together without interruption I WANT to do what we have been trying for so bloody long…”
“Understand I have sought you for so, so long of a time; our love will bloom fully if we allow it to step by step, it cannot be sundered or broken – it is only interrupted here and there by the world about us.”
“Indeed Charity my beloved, indeed. I have to go for a time and deal with the chaos beyond my doorway. So rest and be safe, I shall return soon.”
“Until that moment my love…my STORMY…and so you know…it was me there in YOUR dream…”
Laughter full of delight and warmth peals across the school grounds, the enjoyment he finds in her humor and wit. Setting off to deal with the usual and unexpected, people see the Chancellor whistling a love song to no one in particular – save for the one his heart is for.