The next thing she knew, she was startled awake by the sound of footsteps in the corridor—three or four people, from the sound of them.
A man’s face, with a broken nose and what looked like a permanent scowl, appeared at the window. “Stay in the back of the cell!” he barked. It was the same voice that had taunted her earlier. Lirya complied, while carefully watching for any opportunity that might arise.
The door swung open with a loud squeal. The broken-nosed man entered the cell along with a burly bald-headed companion. Behind them stood another guard with an eye patch, waiting in the corridor and holding a bludgeon at the ready.
So much for the idea of sneak-attacking a guard and making a run for it. The backup would easily bring her down even if she somehow got past the first two.
“Stand up!” Lirya obeyed, as slowly as she thought she could get away with. The guards tied her hands behind her back and fastened her legs in irons. She could walk, clumsily, but running would be impossible.
One-Eye stepped back from the door. As the other two guards led Lirya out into the hallway, he stayed three paces away, too far to catch unawares even if she were not bound. The more she observed their tactics, the lower her hopes of escape sank.
“This way,” One-Eye said, marching down the corridor. The rest of the group fell in behind him. She barely managed to keep up, with an occasional push from one of her escorts.
They took her past several more cells. She listened, but if anyone was in them they were not bothering to make any sound.
Finally, they came to a door at the end of the corridor. Behind it was a flight of stairs leading upward. She climbed the first few steps with some difficulty; the guards more or less carried her the rest of the way.
Finally, they reached the entryway to the next floor. A dozen feet beyond was a massive door, even more solid-looking than the ones in the dungeon. One-Eye smartly rapped the knocker twice. All of the guards stood at rigid attention.
The door swung open, slowly and quietly. Within was a tall raven-haired woman dressed in dark leather.
“Milady, Sergeant-at-Arms Kritaan delivering the prisoner, as ordered!”
The woman nodded. “Thank you, sergeant. Secure her in the usual way.”
The guardsmen marched into the room briskly. They dragged Lirya toward two columns near the back of the room. Each column had several heavy brackets fastened to it, with chains and shackles hanging from some of them. The sergeant-at-arms rearranged them until each post had one shackle lying on the floor and another hanging just above the prisoner’s head height.
Lirya’s escorts held her tightly while her wrists were untied. Despite her struggles, the men easily forced her hands into the manacles and secured them around her wrists. They had even less difficulty replacing her leg irons with the new fetters.
The other woman watched impassively, seeming to pay more attention to the restraints than to Lirya herself.
Lirya stared back at her. She was not the Baroness, but radiated the same air of one used to obedience. “Who are—?”
The sergeant-at-arms slapped her across the face. “Do not speak to the Lady Malyenne until spoken to!” he snapped.
Malyenne. The name of Rylaris’ personal sorceress was a dread one, spoken in whispers. Lirya recalled frightful tales about the fate of prisoners given to her keeping.
She tried to convince herself that those tales had, like most others, grown in the telling. It didn’t help. The reality looked quite bad enough.
“I shall attend to the discipline of the prisoner, sergeant,” Malyenne said coldly.
“My apologies, milady,” he replied.
“Accepted.” Lirya noticed a definite flash of relief in his eye. “Dismissed!” The guards retreated quickly, closing the door behind them.
Malyenne stood still, intently watching Lirya, for what seemed like several minutes. Lirya stared back, her gaze drawn to the riding crop in her captor’s right hand and the pair of daggers sheathed in her boots.
Finally, Malyenne spoke. “I see that the sergeant’s words have made an impression. However, I have now spoken to you, and I expect you to return the favor. What is your name?”
“Lir... Lirya Treluvar, Lady Malyenne.”
“Mistress,” she replied sharply.
She raised the riding crop. “Simply ‘Mistress’. Do you understand?”
Lirya nodded. “Yes, Mistress.”
“Good.” She smiled. ”Your name is not really important.” She paused and began stroking the riding crop. “What I want is the name of your employer.”
After an uncomfortably long silence, her eyes narrowed. “Well?”
“I... I....” the thief stammered.
Malyenne’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “’I’? Are you trying to tell me that you did this on your own?”
“I was alone, La—Mistress.”
“Do not play word games with me,” she snarled. “I am asking who hired you, who supplied you with the duplicate tiara.” She raised her whip hand. “Or are you going to tell me that you just stumbled across it in the village pawnshop?”
“You refuse to answer?” The sorceress drew back the whip, ready to lash out.
“No! I mean, I don’t know! He didn’t tell me his name!” Lirya cried.
The sorceress lowered the riding crop a bit, but kept it ready. “Well, then, what do you know?”
“I don’t... I don’t know anything about him... please, Malye—, I mean, Mistress!”
“But you know that he is a man, not a woman? What does he look like?”
“He...” Lirya took a deep breath. She had to sound sensible. “Mistress, I could tell that he was disguising his voice, but I’m sure it was a man. He wore a dark robe with the hood pulled up over his face.”
Malyenne paused, with a thoughtful expression. Finally, she turned away, toward a table that stood against the wall to Lirya’s left. It held a scattering of glass jars and metal tools. Next to the table was a tripod supporting a lit brazier. Lirya shuddered as she considered the implications.
She lifted a wooden box from under the table and held it up to show the contents. Inside were Lirya’s dagger, the obscuration amulet, and the duplicate tiara.
“Did your employer give you these?”
“He didn’t give me the dagger, Mistress. That was mine to begin with.” The pause stretched on a moment, until Lirya realized that her interrogator was growing impatient. “He gave me the amulet and the tiara.”
“What powers do these items possess?”
“The amulet helped me hide in the shadows. The tiara doesn’t have any powers.”
Malyenne scowled. Lirya knew that she’d said something wrong, “...Mistress...?” she added hopefully.
That wasn’t it. Her captor was still angry.
“The tiara doesn’t have any powers,” the sorceress said, in a mocking imitation of Lirya’s voice. “Haven’t you ever heard of a detection spell? Did you think I was too stupid to investigate it for myself?”
“I didn’t know! Please, Mistress, he didn’t tell me it was magical!”
Oh dear gods, now she thinks I’m lying and she’s going to start hurting me, she thought. She felt sick to her gut.
“You insist that you can’t tell me anything more about this tiara?” the sorceress asked.
“No! I mean yes! I mean, I swear I don’t know anything about it!” Lirya winced, expecting to feel the whip at any moment.
Malyenne raised an eyebrow. “Well, if you can’t tell me, I suppose you will have to show me, instead.” She picked up the tiara and raised it over Lirya’s head. The thief titled her neck, dodging as best she could.
“I should punish you for that, you know.” The matter-of-fact statement sent a chill up Lirya’s spine. In that moment of distraction, Malyenne quickly lowered the circlet into place.
Lirya braced herself.
As far as she could tell, nothing at all happened.
The sorceress stared intently at Lirya’s brow and held her hands alongside Lirya’s head, close enough to brush her hair but not quite in contact. She uttered a string of arcane incantations.
Lirya nervously wondered just what her captor was doing. She still didn’t feel any different.
Finally, Malyenne lowered her hands. Her eyes widened just a bit. Lirya recognized the expression. It was that of someone who had just drawn the winning card after a round of heavy betting and didn’t quite manage to conceal their delight.
The sorceress faced the thief and spoke the words, “Count Velandro, at your service.”
At once, Lirya knew with absolute certainty that she should do whatever Malyenne wanted. Not because she was afraid of being punished if she didn’t; she didn’t feel afraid at all. This woman was her good friend, someone she could trust completely. She deserved anything she might choose to ask for.
The sorceress noted the sudden change in Lirya’s expression. A moment ago, it had been the same apprehensive cringe she had seen on dozens of other prisoners; now, it was calm, even beatific. Either she was the best actress in the realm, or the tiara had indeed responded to the trigger words she had delved out of it.
A quick detection spell confirmed that she was under the influence of some powerful charm. The tiara itself, however, was now inert metal.
This turn of events raised some interesting possibilities. Her immediate duty, however, was to report what she had learned to the Baroness.
She gestured toward the table and uttered a familiar cantrip. A bit of parchment and a quill pen floated into the air before her, writing down the words she spoke.
“I have begun questioning the thief caught in your private chambers last night. She was hired to replace your tiara with a duplicate. I have discovered, and confirmed by experiment, that the false tiara was enchanted with a domination spell, triggered by the words ‘Count Velandro, at your service’.
“I believe that the Count was laying a trap for Your Grace. With the artifact appearing to be your familiar tiara, it would bypass normal scrutiny and precautions. Presumably, his intention was to subject Your Grace to his control during your private diplomatic conference tomorrow afternoon.
“Your loyal and obedient servant, Malyenne.”
The sorceress made another gesture. The parchment folded itself and flew across the room and under the door.
Lirya considered what she had just heard. She quietly said, “Mistress, I knew nothing of this. If I have done anything to aid your enemies, I am sorry.”
Malyenne’s first impulse was to promise that she would soon be very sorry indeed. She paused as a half-formed idea began to take shape.
In an oddly gentle tone, she asked, “Are you afraid of me?”
“No, Mistress. I trust you.”
She raised the whip. “Are you quite certain that you are not afraid of me?”
“No, Mistress. I know you wouldn’t hit me unless you had a good reason.”
Her face and voice were completely serene. This enchantment was strong enough to completely overwhelm her natural reactions.
It wouldn’t last for very long, Malyenne knew. Even the most potent domination spells broke down in a few hours when imposed on an unwilling victim. There were long-lasting charm spells, even permanent ones, but they took much longer to cast and required the subject’s cooperation.
There was an obvious way around that. Someone could be dominated, and then directed to cooperate in the casting of a second charm. It was difficult to wield two such powerful spells in quick succession, and sometimes one of the enchantments disrupted the other, but it could be done given sufficient skill and power.
Malyenne decided that it was worth a try. After all, half of the work had already been done for her. If it failed, she could always resume the interrogation where she had left off.
She searched the table, until she found a few selected powders and a jar of pale blue liquid. Good, everything she needed was here. She added each of the powders in turn, reciting the appropriate words of power for each, and poured everything into a larger stirring flask.
The fluid turned emerald green, just as it was supposed to. She confirmed that the mixture had the proper magical potential, and was ready for the final steps of preparation. She set the flask down, picked up two thick glass stirring sticks, and returned to her prisoner.
Softly, teasingly, she tickled Lirya’s cheek and temple with the end of one stirrer. She twiddled it through her auburn hair until a few strands were firmly wrapped around it, then yanked it away. The captive blinked, but did not cry out.
Malyenne then pulled out a small lock of her own hair with the other stick. She delicately unwrapped the dark and light strands and then entwined them into a single thick thread. She dipped the thread into the flask, then held it up and focused a bit of her power upon it. The interwoven hairs flashed into flame for a moment, and became a sprinkling of ashes on top of the liquid.
Everything had gone perfectly so far. There was just one more ingredient to add.
As she turned back to her captive, the sorceress drew the dagger from her left boot. She held it up to Lirya’s eyes, and watched her face closely for traces of fear. There were none.
She knew that she ought to be offended. Instead, she was even more intrigued.
“Do you still trust me?” she asked.
“Oh, yes, Mistress,” her captive replied, as effortlessly as if she were remarking on the weather.
“Good. That will make this much easier,” she commented as she brought the knife down toward her captive’s breast. She slashed the chemise from neck to hemline, carefully keeping the blade clear of the wearer’s flesh.
Lirya was wearing nothing underneath. Malyenne reached for her, stroking her mons and fingering her slit, gently feeling and probing. After a few minutes, she was ready. The sorceress slowly inserted one of the glass rods into her, coating it with her wetness.
Next, she unfastened the front of her riding breeches. She was already more than wet enough. As she slid the other glass rod into her sex, it took an effort of will to refrain from stopping to pleasure herself. There wasn’t time for that now; the potion preparation had to be finished quickly once it was begun.
After twiddling both rods a bit, Malyenne pulled them out and returned to the flask. She dipped the dampened end of each stick into the liquid and stirred vigorously until the contents turned blood red. Then she set the flask over the brazier flame.
It would just be a few minutes now. As she waited, the sorceress began to strip away her garb. The boots were stubborn; she couldn’t get leverage to pull one off while standing on the other foot, and she had not thought to provide herself a place to sit.
She braced herself against the wall, feeling a bit ridiculous. She told herself that, if this worked, maintaining a dignified appearance would soon be the last thing on her mind.
As the second boot finally pulled free, she noticed that the potion was now boiling energetically and had taken on a silvery hue. Taking up a pair of tongs from the table, she removed the flask from the brazier and set it aside. As soon as it cooled down, it would be ready.
The rest of her clothing came off much more easily. She piled her garments on the floor and set the riding crop down on the worktable.
The potion was still a bit too hot. She passed the time by slowly ripping apart the seams of her prisoner’s chemise, until it too fell to the floor.
The sorceress checked the potion again. It had now cooled down to a comfortably warm temperature. She picked up the flask in one hand and a small brush in the other.
She knelt down to brush the elixir onto Lirya’s loins, exploring her most sensitive places and making sure to thoroughly cover them. She then traced a silver line up the other woman’s body, and then drew a few circles around her navel. She paused a moment to rise to her feet, and then continued up Lirya’s body.
When she reached Lirya’s chest, she drew several figure-eights, ranging from wide circles completely surrounding each breast to narrow loops that barely enclosed her nipples. Each track crossed a bit left of center, directly over her heart. The brush then continued up her throat and around the curve of her chin, pausing at her mouth to thoroughly paint her lips.
Lirya giggled as the brush tickled her nose. With some difficulty, Malyenne managed to make a smooth line anyway, and then completed the application with a final figure-eight track around Lirya’s eyes.
Now, all that was necessary was acceptance and consummation.
Malyenne stood close to Lirya, looking her in the eye.
“Have you ever made love with a woman before?”
“No, Mistress.” Her tone was flat, informational.
“Would you like to make love with me?”
Lirya did not answer. Malyenne realized that that was the wrong question to ask someone under a domination charm.
“I would like to make love with you, Lirya. Will you please me by making love to me?”
“Yes, Mistress,” she immediately replied. “I will please you.”
“I realize that you are unpracticed at this, but I will teach you. Will you learn to please me?”
“Yes, Mistress,” she repeated. “I will learn to please you.”
She smiled. “My touch upon your loins shall arouse your craving for a woman’s embrace. My touch upon your breast shall feed your heart’s desire for my companionship. My lips upon your lips shall fire your soul with the need to be joined to mine.”
Now for the moment of truth. “Lirya, I want to make you mine forever. Will you give yourself to me?”
“Yes, Mistress.” Perhaps it was wishful thinking, but Malyenne heard a touch of eagerness in her voice.
The sorceress stepped closer. “So shall it be.”
Malyenne leaned down to kiss Lirya. Their lips met gently, and then more firmly as she took Lirya’s head in her hands and held her steady. She began probing with her tongue, until her partner’s lips parted to admit it.
As the kiss grew more intimate, Malyenne maneuvered her body into closer contact. Their breasts rubbed together as the sorceress slid a bit to her left. Finally, she braced herself at a slight angle, so that each woman’s right leg was between the legs of her partner.
Lirya felt hands cupping and grasping her ass, then taking a firm hold and lifting. A moment later, she was standing on tiptoes, and her loins was pressed against the taller woman’s thigh. She wriggled, and felt a pleasant sensation. She did it again, more energetically, and was rewarded as the stimulation became deeper and more intense.
“Oh, yes, just like that.” Malyenne whispered as they finally broke off the kiss. “Now, can you shift your right leg a little...?” Lirya did. “Ooooooh...,” her partner moaned, “keep doing that....”
Their bodies rocked back and forth as they rubbed their loins upon each other’s thighs. They leaned toward each other, pressing breast to breast and exchanging passionate kisses. With each sway of their hips, their excitement grew as their bodies touched more and more closely.
Malyenne felt her shoulders protesting, demanding rest. However, her loins were even more insistent, and promised that it wouldn’t be much longer. Perhaps even stronger was her prideful determination not to stop until Lirya’s climax had sealed the binding.
She gritted her teeth and thrust her hips again. She could hear Lirya’s gasps of passion, but was mostly preoccupied with her own oncoming climax.
Finally, Malyenne and Lirya thrust toward each other at once. Their bodies trembled in orgasmic bliss. The tiara clattered across the floor. Malyenne almost collapsed in a heap, and Lirya certainly would have done so if not for her manacles.
As soon as Malyenne felt able to move again, she took a deep breath. She disengaged herself and stepped back to look Lirya up and down. The silver lines on the bound woman’s body were fading away, as the enchantment worked its inner transformations of her thoughts and loyalties and desires.
Something half-glimpsed out the corner of her eye drew Malyenne’s gaze downward. Her own body also bore fading silver marks. She had not waited long enough for the potion to dry completely, or perhaps some side effect of the tiara’s power had caused her own spell to spread by contagion.
The charm would bind her to Lirya, just as it had bound Lirya to her.
In a dim and abstract sort of way, she knew that she ought to be displeased. She wasn’t. Quite the contrary; as she watched Lirya slowly coming back to her senses as the last bits of silver faded from her skin, she felt very fortunate to love and be loved by such a delightful young woman.
She knew in her bones that Lirya was much more than just another pretty toy with which to amuse herself. She would be a loyal companion and a good friend as well as a passionate lover.
Perhaps this had not been her original intention, but now that it was done she did not want it to be undone, ever.
Malyenne reached up to unfasten the manacles, then bent down to undo the foot shackles. Now that the binding had been cast and sealed and made sure, restraints were no longer necessary. She could hardly wait to guide her lover’s education in the art of sapphic sensuality, and enjoy her ever-increasing grasp of the subject. She recalled her own early fumblings with other girls and resolved to be a patient and understanding teacher.
As she stood up again, Malyenne felt arms closing around her. For a moment, she was afraid that Lirya was still dazed and grabbing something to keep from falling down. Then, she realized that she was being tightly hugged.
She felt her lover’s curls tickling her cheek, and then heard a sweet voice whispering in her ear, “I love you, Mistress.”
Her own voice replied, “I love you too.”
They turned their faces toward each other, and shared a long deep kiss.
Finally, Malyenne came up for air. She purred, “I think we should continue this in more comfortable surroundings. Don’t you agree?”
Lirya nodded eagerly.
“The entrance to my private chambers is that way,” Malyenne said, as she pointed toward the far corner of the room. “The bedroom is the third door on the left.”
Lirya turned to look in that direction. She didn’t see any doors or passageways. When she looked more closely, she noticed a large dressing screen, almost invisible because it so closely matched the color of the walls. She guessed that it bore an obscuration spell, like the one on her amulet. The entrance must be hidden behind that. She paused to study the arrangement with a thief’s-eye appreciation of its cleverness.
Meanwhile, Malyenne grinned impishly and retrieved her riding crop from the table. She gently swatted Lirya on the rump, not painfully but just enough to startle.
She struck a mock-menacing pose. “You were right; I’d never use this on you without a good reason.” She began another slow swing of the riding crop. “Well, getting that nice ass of yours into bed right now sounds pretty good to me!”
Lirya hurried toward the bedroom, with Malyenne in hot pursuit. She received two more swats along the way, but afterwards insisted that she had slowed down on purpose out of deference to her elder.