Liope begins learning how to let the darkness flow
|Chapter 17 Anger Management
It was Friday night. Clematis was holding a state dinner for her husband Lord Kulrick. Her son Pluto and Battle Partner, Budellia had extended their string to five(5) earlier in the week and on Monday would go for the Double Hat Trick. Members of the Council and their wives are gathered for cocktails. Lady Olivia was present with her Escort, Squire Rogoletti. Martha and Guards Captain, Guiles Standaloft were chatting quietly when Pluto arrived from picking up Buddleia at the Woman’s barracks. Martha took Guiles over to greet them.
"Guiles, this is Pluto," said Martha. " We grew up together and we are best of friends."
"It’s nice to meet you,"said Guiles, "I feel like I know you already. Martha, this young lady here is Buddleia. Buddleia I want you to meet Martha, she's a close friend."
"I know who Martha is," Bedelia answered. "She taught us fencing at Bellmont. This girl wields one wicked blade."
"I can attest to that," said Guiles.
"And if you're the CO's girlfriend, then you are one lucky lady. He's my Commander. The most awesome soldier in the Army."
"I’m sure he is," said Martha, "but he’s so modest, no one would ever guess. And he speaks highly of you Buddleia, and he’s not someone who impresses easily."
"You two bearing up under the pressure?“ asked Guiles "Going to be ready come Monday?”
"We walked through it today and with a little luck, we’ll be fine when the time comes," said Pluto.
"The whole town will be there. It's been twenty years since a run like yours. Martha and I will be sitting right on the “Alley” cheering you on."
Olivia and Squire Rogoletti walked up.
"Hello everyone, this is Squire Rogoletti. I could introduce him as my escort, but everyone knows, he’s much more than that."
"A pleasure to meet you," said the Squire, shaking everyones hand.
"The Squire and I are already well acquainted." said Guiles.
"Once, in an earlier life, I too was a Captain in the Forces." replied the Rogoletti. "I once commanded his company."
"You did? You never told me that.."
"It was at Myrocena," said the Squire, looking uncomfortably at Martha.
"Much too gloomy a subject for this night," Olivia answered and taking him by the arm they moved off and continued socializing.
"That was abrupt," said Guiles.
"He's my Godfather," explained Martha. "My father and Rogo were close friends. When he fell taking the fortress, the Squire brought the news to my mother. Did you know he was the lead fencing instructor at Bellmont?"
"I'm sure he took a special interest in you. You fight like a man."
"There's nobody on the staff that ever compared to Martha," said Bedelia. "We were in absolute awe of her."
"Oh please," said Martha, "you're embarrassing me."
"Excuse us," said Guiles. "I keep seeing everyone looking over this way. You two have become quite the celeberities and everyone is dying to meet you." Why don't you make the rounds and let guests have their chance?"
Pluto drew a deep breath and taking Buddleia by the arm moved out into the crowd.
Martha and Guiles did the same. It wasn’t long before they spied Lady Kulrick and her husband.
"Oh Guiles," she said suddenly, "There's someone very special I want you to meet. They’ve invited you to stay over the weekend. Don’t be shy, come now and let me introduce you. Lord and Lady Kulrick, allow me to introduce my escort, Captain Guiles Standaloft."
"It’s a pleasure to meet you at last Captain," said Kulrick. "I've followed your career with interest and noted your outstanding service to the country. Welcome to our home. We'll be honored to have you as our house guest this weekend."
"We consider Martha, almost a daughter," said Climates. "Her mother, Larissa and I are best of friends...have been for years. My! You make a lovely couple and we're so happy you could join us."
At that moment Ubocastor walked up and Lord Kulrick greeted him. "Ubo have you met Martha" he inquired.
"I've yet to have the honor," replied the Wizard.
"Her father was the famous Vladmir Portroski."
"The Hero of Myrocenia?"
"He would be very proud if he could see you here tonight my dear, you look radient."
"Thank-you," said Martha.
"Ubo," continued kulrick…. This is Captain Standaloft…. The one whose exploits you are always briefing me about.
"It’s a pleasure to meet you face to face" said Ubocastor. "You've a reputation to be envied and an honor that is well deserved."
"We have received a transmission from our friend. I would not distrub you otherwise but you insist on being told."
"So I do...come Ubo. Please excuse me everyone. Climatus my dear, please see to the guests."
Pluto and Buddleia finally escaped the crowd and found themselves on the back porch. They sat down in a swing, holding hands. Then they kissed briefly. The guests moving about the house helped keep them on their best behavior. Then, there was a long pause when neither knew quite what to say. Pluto blurted it out.
I love you Buddleia.
I know she answered…. And I love you too.
Would you like to see my room? he asked suddenly. As soon as the words were out of his mouth he regretted saying them. They had seemed reasonable in his mind but spoken they carried all the wrong connotations.
I'm not sure that would be a wise thing to do, answered Buddelia tactfully. "I kinda like having you somewhere where we're not going to get too carried away. I'm not ready to go off the deep end... I mean I want to enjoy being your girlfriend, if you know what I mean.
You have no reason to fret being alone with me said Pluto with a trace of indignation. You're as safe with me as wou would be in a convent.
With that Budellia burst into laughter. You liar, I know what you want and don't forget I can see beyond your words. I'm not aftaid of you, its myself I'm more concerned about. If we really love each other then there's plenty of time for all that.
Just thought I'd offer said Pluto apologetically I'm not twisting your arm. When it comes to your honor... well thats something I would never put in jeaprody.
You are such a gentleman she answered in genuine delight. And to show you the boundless limits of my trust, my absolute faith in your intentions....
How do we get up there without attracting too much attention?
Pluto's heart jumped. We will go up through the service stairs. I've been sneaking around this house all my life and nobody was ever the wiser.
With that he took her hand, leading them stealthfully through the house and up into his bedroom. As they entered he quietly closed the door. Turning he saw Budelia jump onto the bed and begin bouncing up and down. What a magnificent room and the bed... oh my gosh its a bed like I have always dreamed about. she exclaimed hardly able to contain herself. Bouncing off she came to her feet and began walking around looking at everything in the room. At length when the tour was complete, Pluto put his arms around her and they embraced, long and passionately. As things became more heated she pushed back.
I was just going to do the same he said reassurringly, in a voice so seriously it was almost believable. stepping back he held up his hands as a proclomation of innocence . Somewhere in the process the top button of his shirt had popped off.
Through the open collar, Buddleia noticed that her chain was entwined with his. Like strands of golden hair wrappped about a thick chord, the two hung together about his neck. The Mithril gave off a silvery luminescence as it picked up the moonlight flooding through the window.
Tell me more about the heirloom she inquired, running her fingers over his abs.
Huh, he answered.
You know, that relic you have hanging from that clothsline around your neck..
Oh that he answered.... Its a Scarab...very old….or so Rogoletti told me. Said I was to be the custodian until my Godmother Olivia could figure out what to do with it.
Can I see it, Buddleia asked.
I think you can he teased, but I'm not so sure that I should let you.
May I! she responded, miffed that he corrected her grammar.
I'll have to take my shirt off he continued... do you think you can control yourself?
"I'll try very hard she answered lightly.
He unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it from inside his britches. Then he removed his linen undergarment. Once his chest was bare he turned to her. Just above the solar plexus the scarab lay attached. It had the appearance of a large black beetle and was set in delicate bands of gold that allowed it to breath but held it securely in bondage.
Pluto reached down and took hold of it between his finger and thumb and began to twist gently. As he did the Scarab released its hold and with a gentle tug Pluto pulled it from is chest. Reaching behind his neck he removed the necklace that attached it. He held it dangling before her eyes, swinging back and forth. The large insect, twisted about on the end of its chain, its spiny legs moving uncomfortably, reaching for a surface to cling to.
Would you like to hold it?“ asked Pluto, Certain she would refuse.
Buddleia stared at the beetle intently and then extended her hand.
“What is it?" she inquired. As he dropped it into her palm. The insect began crawling, through her fingers and over onto the back of her hand.
"A blood scarab," answered Pluto. it’s a relic of the old school. The woman of my family have passed this one and others along for generations.... over five centuries.
And its still alive.
What do you think?
For what purpose?
The legend is that it’s one of four given by our Warrior descendents, to their wives before riding off to war. The story is that each placed his essence into one of the Scarabs for safekeeping.
Blood sperm. Now-a-days an earring with a succubus leech is used, but back then they made due with these roach like Scarabs. Supposedly they work the same way… a secretion is released that induces sperm to enter the bloodstream. The sperm differentiate and become long lived. When a suitable hostess is found the sperm form a vesicle on her uterus and when an egg passes beneath… Gotcha!
Oh my goodness.
Want to try it on, he teased.
May I she answered, to his absolute dismay.
Aren’t you the least bit intimidated…. He asked, taken back by her boldness.
I’m not afraid of insects she answered. This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Her voice was full of wonder. You don’t mind?
Pluto was tempted to put an end to the charade. The matter had gotten a bit out of hand, but his pride got the better. After all, he assured himself, what harm could it do. Rogoletti had told him that the passing of the Scarabs was a right of passage thing for the Witches and they were more symbolic than anything else. Plus all you had to do was give it a little wiggle and it turned loose.
“Sure he answered as she bowed her head to receive the necklace. He positioned it around her neck and dropped it onto her lap. The scarab immediately began to scurry about as both watched with an amused interest. Suddenly it crawled across her stomach and between the buttons of her blouse, dissappearing underneath the material.
Whoa! Said Buddleia as she unbuttoned the seam and opened her blouse… just in time to see it scurry under her bra. Reaching back she unsnapped the halter and pulled down revealing her breasts. She could feel it burrowing into her cleavage.
Pluto was taken completely by surprise. He stood up in shock…at a complete loss for what to do. Buddleia however remained calm. Reaching down she took hold of the Scarab as it bit deeply into her flesh.
Ouch! She grimiced and started squeezing and twisting gently from side to side. The pain increased as the sharp claws on its spiny legs pressed into her and the maw bit harder burrowing its head ever deeper.
That hurts! She exclaimed, that really hurts. she winced, tears coming to her eyes. It won’t let go….It won’ let go.
Pluto was beside himself. He reached his hand out and holding a breast to one side attempted to wiggle the scarab free.
She slapped his hand away reflexively, Stop it stop it she cried out as he raised his hands backing away.
I don’t know what to do he told her…. Tell me what you want me to do.
Leave it alone she retorted, just leave it alone.
Gradually the pain began to diminish. From underneath a rivulet of blood ran down between her breasts.
Oh my goodness gracious she exclaimed getting control of herself. Did you see what that little skitter did?
What have I done? What have I done groaned Pluto.
Calm down big Guy…she said in a soothing tone, just calm down….I’m OK with insects...well most of them anyway. It will eventually turn loose the way it grabbed hold. They always do. Are you listening to me?
Try wiggling it again.
When I wiggle it just bites harder and burrows deeper. Maybe we just ought to leave it alone for awhile.
Maybe we ought to go tell Olivia, said Pluto shaking his heaqd.
Right! snapped Budelia in disbelief. I can hear it all now. Excuse me Aunt Olivia, I have Buddelia up in my room on the bed and you know that Scarab you entrusted to me.... well the two of us were fooling around and it bit one of her boobs and won't let go.
Thats not what I intended to say.
Then pray tell me...the words you intended to use, that would not leave my honor in total shreds and make me the laughing stock of the city.
On second thought maybe you're right. There's no hurry. I've been wearing it for over a year and nobodys even mentioned it.
Now that's much better, Budellia reassurred him. Maybe tomorrow it will turn loose. I'll can wiggle it from time to time.
Sounds like a plan said Pluto. Now get dressed and I'll take you home.
That Afternoon Albiano and the matrons arrived in Middletown. Liope saw them coming from afar. She had taken to carrying all the gems in a pouch about her neck. No longer did they gall her breasts and neck, As the weeks passed she began to take the enhanced sensory perception for granted. Today Liope felt out of sorts and wondered what the the three wanted as they approached her door.
"Who’s that knocking now? asked Cateyln.
"It's Albiano, Walinda and Karla."
"What do they want?"
"Well, best invite them in."
Liope went to the door.
"We won’t be staying said Albiano. We've come to apologize."
"I see." said Liope, and she began listening to their carefully rehursed apologies.
"I would like to apologize and say how sorry I am," spoke Walinda, "for trying to snatch the stones away. It's been explained to me since, that they are rightfully yours and I had no business trying to take them."
"I too, would like to apologize," said Karla, "and say that I regret touching your hem, without your permission. I didn’t realize your station at the time and my actions were most inappropriate."
"Now it's my turn," said Albiano, " I would like to apologize for permitting the break in. I felt at the time that the action was justified but have since realized my error and sincerely regret my decision."
"There, there girls, I know how hard this must have been," said Cate. "What do you think? Are they forgiven, Liope?"
"If you believe that bull.." Liope answered "what they're apologizing for is getting caught, not for what they did."
"I understand your position," replied Albiano, "but what more can we say?"
You can speak the truth, that's what you can say and you can quit making fun of me behind my back."
"What are you talking about," said Walinda.
"Well now that you bring it up there's the matter of my big breasts. It might have been funny to you but I was not amused... or perhaps it was one of so many cruel jests that you've forgotten. Are you starting to remember?
"I'm not sure I know what you're referring to.
"Last week as you descended the High Pasture, your tasteless remark about selling the gems and purchasing a '"Heavy Duty Bra.'"
Walinda flushed red, as she remembered her tasteless remark.
"To atone, I think you should acquire several for me, large straps, you know ,but with cups of soft cotton and lace."
karla's mind was racing to remember her part in the conversation.
Are you having trouble remembering? I thought your comments about my personal hygene were particularly tackey. How you implied that I stink and should bath more regularly... with soap?"
The color drained out of Karla's face.
Well since I don't have a large supply on hand, you can start atoning by providing a case of soap... scented if you please.
"If you remember correctly I told them to both shut up.."
"So you did Albiano, but you first abided it, for some time. Do you really think the charred hilt of a ruined sword will get you off the hook? What good is that, when it can only be refurished by the Elven smiths who crafted it?"
Liope went over to the mantle, picked up the hilt and tossed it to Albiano. She caught it in hand, squinched her face and looked down at the floor.
"Some gift that was," said LiIope in disgust. " For your atonement I would like to see the blade made knew and the hilt restored to its former glory.
Liope was beginning to work herself into a lather.
"It was bad enough that the three of you did the things you apologize for. It'is worse that you continue to say mean and hateful things behind my back. That you have the gall to enter my house with these weak apologies while you still harbor distain and contempt in your hearts. It's almost inexcusable and I'm bitterly disappointed in your intransigence. This is the Valley of Men where you now stand and in case you're not aware, there's talk in the air about the First Witch of Nirvana, Queen of light and Darkness. Take time to reflect on what that means. I can forgive the low regard of your personal feelings but you need a good hard lesson in etiquette. You will honor my title here or explain to you High and Might Council why I booted your nasty asses out of this valley. Now get out of this house and don’t return until your attitudes change and I see in your hearts the same contrition you espouse with your lips."
Her eyes were beginning to glow red and she reached down rubbing her stomach. Albiano retreated backwards and the two matrons followed suit. With a bow they swept low before retreating hastily out the door.
"Wow!" exclaimed CateylnHecate, "you can really pour it on when you want to."
Liope smiled, stroking her stomach and then began to cackle uncontrollably.
"There, there," Pumpkin, her mother consoled, reaching out and hugging her. "They deserved it." Then they found each other's eyes and started laughing wickedly. It continued for some time.
Shortly thereafter Albiano returned to the Inn. She was in a very emotional and agitated state. Never before had she experienced such a tongue lashing. Her room was usually reserved for newly weds, on the top floor and the window opened to the East. Uta heard her come up the stairs and met her at the top. Together they entered the bridal suite.
"How’d it go?" asked Uta?
"I've never been so humiliated in all my life."
Uta read her mind as Albiano relived the event.
"Wonderful!" said Uta as she shared the experience.
"How can you say that?" scolded Albiano
"See how she let the darkness take control of her? That’s exactly what I’ve been hoping for."
"She’s evil Uta, I swear she is. I saw it not only in her eyes but I felt the darkness, roll out of her like a storm cloud. I was afraid she was going to start throwing people around again."
"It gives me some hope for tomorrow. Did you note how she rubbed her stomach. I bet that horrid little noser was enjoying ever minute."
"Well we sure as hell weren’t. I was terrified and so was Karla and Walinda. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough."
"Send your report… bring The Council up to date on everything that’s happened. I have to go now. I promised Liope I’d meet with her this afternoon."
The council met as they did when new information arrived."
Kulrick: There’s a lot going on. Join hands and let Ubo pick up the thread.
Ubocastor: First there's the report that Morgolic is well on the road to recovery. That's good news indeed.
Next we have word that a bank has been opened in Nirvana. It's run by a Jew named Silas Goldman. We must try and ascertain what crack he stepped out of. Further he’s dealing with several of the trade guilds to restore the Citadel and the viaduct. I wonder what that’s all about?
Then we have the apology and get to see Liope going through one of her mood swings. Albiano swears the three were over a mile from the house last week when Liope must have overheard them...Unbelievable; and on top of that did you see how she worked herself into it; her eyes gleaming and hands rubbing? Fascinating…. If only Uta's right. Nurturing the brats with hate… who would have ever imagined that?
Further there's this reverence going about… a reference to Liope as First Witch of Nirvana… I would have thought that Cateyln would have that title…maybe the second part offers a clue…. Queen of Light and Darkness. That could refer to the two infants.
Further still we have an honor guard on the march, being provided by the Cisterians. They should arrive in Nirvana sometime next week. I wonder how they see their role in all this?
We have more questions than answers right now. What if word of all this leaks out to the Emporium? It's bound to sooner or later, and when it does they will start snffing around to determine the full extent to what’s happening.
Lastly we have been given the quid pro quo to atone for the breakin. Some bras, a case of soap and reforging the sword of Orin. An interesting price and a challenge too. Especially since our females don‘t need bras, our bodies don’t stink and a sword like Orin’s hasn’t been struck in a thousand years. Are we up to it Kulrick?
We’re up to it. Tell Albiano to find out more about the bank and this reconstruction that's taking place. Determine who is behind the financing. Then have Varnack set up a process for checking out all strangers and a means for keeping tabs on their whereabouts.
After leaving Albiano Uta went to check on Liope. Cateyln opened the door.
"How’s our patient?" inquired Uta.
"I'm fine and very glad to see you," said Liope, coming down the stairs.
"I hear you had some visitors."
"They didn’t stay long."
"How'd you handle it?"
"Like we discussed. I’d been anxious and out of sorts all day and when they got here, I sort of went off on them. They don’t seem to realize that I can read their minds as well as they read each other, and it's so easy to match their words with what they really think and feel. When things don't mesh it makes me mad and the more they carried on with their carefully rehursed speeches the madder I got. Finally it was all I could do to keep some semblance of control as the darkness came rushing out of me. It came up sort of like a burp….and I felt better. And my belly, the dark one stirred, and she seemed to thrill to all the malice and hostility."
"I’m so proud of you I can hardly contain myself." Still the Sister is small right now and it doesn’t take much to satisfy her. Still, it’s a fine start and you're learning the mechanics of what needs to be done."
"I think I’m beginning to get a better feel for it."
At that moment Lilith came through the door. Uta kissed Liope.
"I have to run along now, but I’ll be back tomorrow. As Uta departed Cateyln spoke up.
"I have to go into town for some things. Why don’t the two of you get better acquainted. Lilith, tell Liope how things are going with Dumar."
As Cate departed Lilith sat down and began filling Liope in on the details
"There's so much to do…The place is a mess and there's no good reason it's as bad as it is."
"He's a bachelor," said Liope, "and from what I can tell, not very domesticated."
"A slob is a better word for it, said Lilith smiling, but I got on him and I think he's about to turn over a new leaf."
"You and I have so much in common." said Liope., "I'm so glad you're here because I'm in sore need of a friend."
"Well you got one now, cousin."
"When I see your situation... I see myself but one step behind."
"Yep, they'll have you housekeeping before long. I wonder why you arn't already? "
"There's been some recent developments that might've set back the timetable."
"You don't know your appointment?"
"The man you're appointed to serve?"
"My mother won’t tell me…"
"If you can get your hands on Cateyln's book, I know how to read it. It’s all rather straight forward... not that hard to figure out."
"I think I'll wait for now…. Still I’m curious about another matter."
"How did you feel when your mother told you?"
"Told me what?"
"You know who's door you were gonna be knocking on?”"
"I was excited….Do you have any idea how boring it is cooped up on a mining claim? It's simply awful. Here in Middletown there's lots of people, things to do and Dumar's not really so bad. Once I get him focused a little better I think he just might be the kinda guy I'm looking for."
"So, how will you make the transition from housekeeper to...companion?"
"This is all rather new to me, just as it is to you. Still I'm not worried I might be sorta innocent but Dumar is clueless. You should've seen his face when I threw down my apron and threatened to walk out."
"You did that?"
"Darn right I did. He called me a "drudge!"
"He did? The nerve of him."
"But he apologized… got down on his knees, he did, and begged me not to leave."
"No, it’s true… it was embarrassing in a way… him a man and all, but you know what?"
"I was serious…. I was so mad at him that I could spit nails… he knew it too."
"On his knees?"
"Yes, he begged me to stay, can you imagine that?"
"I wish I could have seen it." she laughed.
"Yeah, I wish you could have too…it was pretty funny."