The author hereby gives permision to reproduce this story on any appropriate publically-available web site, on the condition that a reasonable attempt is made to inform the author where you're putting it. The picture included with the story was originally posted on the Living Mannequin Circle website, and is used here with the permission of the webmaster, Dosman.
One more note - if you're familiar with my other work, be warned that this one is somewhat darker than most, and maybe a little more graphic.
After the Closing, the powers of the priests and the mages were gone forever -- not that there were many left alive by then. The Empire fell. Petty warlords and thieves scrabble for the last remnants of its power and glory. The most successful of them rule the land. The less successful... are powerless.
Yes, we of the modern age are a savage lot indeed.
Magic flares, and light appears -- light in the form of a lantern held by a man. He is a young man, no more than twenty-five, though his face bears the scars of a difficult life. He is dressed in a clean but well-worn pair of brown leather knickers, and a common black doublet over an incongrously fine white silk shirt. He wears a broad woolen cloak, beneath which is a large, but mostly empty pack on his back. His name is Del.
He staggers for a moment, dizzy from the teleport that brought him here. As his mind clears, he looks around to see where he has arrived.
He is in what can only be a sorcerer's laboratory. His lantern is bright enough to illuminate most of the room, though dark shadows creep around the corners of the room as he moves. Various magical implements litter an assortment of workbenches: scrolls and books, candles and furnaces, amulets... Del smiles. Jackpot! Already he imagines the fortune he may make in the outside world.
The books and scrolls he does not touch. Some of them may still be magically preserved, but even so, the powers they describe no longer work. Only scholars of antiquity would be interested in them, and scholars don't have the money he wants. But a magical laboratory may contain magical artifacts, like the ring of teleportation that brought him here, and and while many artifacts no longer function, some still do. Those bring in the big money - the ones that aren't useful enough to him to keep. He stops to examine a pair of ivory sticks, then puts them in his pack -- ivory is valuable even if not magical, but it is also the most common material for making wands out of. Even if these aren't magical, perhaps he can sell them to some fool who doesn't know it.
He spends only a little while here. Interesting as it is, the laboratory must be only one room of a larger keep, and Del has to know what else is here. He can always return here to seek further treasure.
Del does not fear traps, monsters, or other defenses that may be left here. This is not because he is brave; it is simply because he can think of very little he could do to protect himself from anything he might find. He wears a sword, but he is not very good at using it. Besides, his life does not seem to him good enough to be worth great effort to preserve. He is no hero. He has no love back home awaiting him - in fact, he has no home. He lives by his teleportation ring, stealing what he needs and wants, and if he dies, the world will not miss him, nor he it. He is alive because nothing has killed him yet.
The room's one door leads to a big square stairwell, spiraling up and down. He pushes carefully against the railing... and it crumbles, a three-foot-long section tumbling down the wide well. He does not hear it hit bottom.
He decides to go up. Once he reaches the top, he figures, he can go all the way to the bottom, and then teleport out and not have to climb the stairs again.
Fortunately, the stairs are much sturdier than the bannister, and hold his weight with barely a creak. At the top of the stairs, he opens a heavy wooden door to find himself in a large round bedroom -- the bedroom of a very wealthy man.
A huge four-poster bed dominates the room, perfectly preserved, with creamy white satin sheets, thick fluffy pillows, and only a light coating of dust. Del cannot resist it. He carefully sets his lantern on a table, drops his cloak and pack on the floor, and all but dives onto the bed, luxuriating in its wonderful cool softness. He hasn't slept in a bed like this in years, since he found an Imperial castle... and even that one was moldy and moth-eaten. This one is magically preserved just as it must have been the last time its owner slept in it, hundreds of years ago.
But the bed can wait. He's only just arrived, and heady with the thrill of discovery and anticipation of the treasures he will find. Bouncing to his feet, he begins to explore the room. Large closets hold fine Imperial-era robes and gowns, some virtually untouched by age -- magically preserved, of course. Over the centuries since the Closing, many magics simply stopped working, but many others still function. He pulls out one fine robe, deep blue with silver trimmings, and wraps it around himself, imagining himself the master of this keep, a powerful sorcerer. He even looks like a sorcerer, he decides, examining himself in a huge mirror.
"Shazam!" he cries, waving his arm as if casting a spell. "I summon the power of Babblebob to do my bidding!" He laughs in delight. Looting can be such fun.
The first bureau drawer he opens is full of nothing but rotted fabric and dust that flies into the air, making him cough. He closes it again, trying to wave the dust away with his hand. But two drawers down, he finds an abundance of exquisitely carved jewelry. He smiles gleefully. Even if he finds no magic, the jewelry will be enough to make him moderately rich... at least, for a while.
Del is not good at being rich, and he knows it. He has done it three times, each time after ransacking an old Imperial ruin and selling the treasure he was able to carry and teleport away. Each time he had to leave behind far more than he could take, since he could not teleport more than a few large sacks worth of loot. And he did not know how to control his ring. Whenever he activated it, it took him... somewhere. Usually the places it took him weren't very dangerous. Most often, they were boring. But sometimes they took him to places like this.
He opens another door, expecting to find another closet, but instead it opens onto a hallway. Grabbing his lantern and backpack once more, he proceeds down it. The walls, like all the other walls in this complex, are white stone, with the characteristic rippled texture that indicate the tunnel has been magically carved out of solid rock. As always, he wonders just how far below ground he is, to be in this much rock.
The hallway is only a few feet long, before it opens up into another large round room, almost as large as the sorcerer's bedroom. Directly in front of him is a figure, standing in a niche in the wall, too far away to be clearly visible in the light from his lantern. Del approaches it more closely -- and suddenly bangs his hips on a large cabinet in the center of the room. He curses, dropping the lantern on the floor and plunging the room into darkness.
Calming himself, he crouches down, feeling around for the lantern. It's no big deal, after all. It's not as if this place is dangerous. After a little while, he finds it again, and carefully re-lights it. Then he looks up...
...and almost drops it again, as he finds himself staring into the faces of two lovely women!
He starts to sputter something apologetic, then stops. The women have not reacted to his presence - haven't moved at all, in fact. Well, of course, Del realizes -- they can't be living women. They have to have been here for hundreds of years. And besides, they are perfectly motionless, like statues -- in fact, as he approaches more closely, he notices cobwebs hanging from the jaw of one of them, and both are coated in a thin layer of dust. Just statues... exceedingly lifelike, exceedingly lovely statues.
They both have dark hair and dark eyes, and are dressed in flowing brownish-red gowns reminiscent of the legendary Romai of pre-Closing days. The shorter one stands with one hand outstretched as if casting a spell, though the pose of her other hand behind her head and the arch of her back are more suggestive of dancing. She has a mischievous smile on her face. The taller figure stands behind her companion's outstretched arm, looking a little strained. Her left hand rests on her hip, while her right arm is positioned oddly over her head. Her eyes stare blankly up into space, her head tipped at an awkward-looking angle. They stand in an alcove draped in fine red patterned fabrics similar to the gowns they are wearing, similarly well preserved except for one that hangs in tattered shreds.
Del pulls off his backpack, and
fishes inside it. It only takes him a moment to find what he is looking for
-- a short ivory wand he had discovered long before, whose use he understands.
He points it at the two figures, and wills it to activate. In a flash, the dust
and cobwebs vanish. The dirt that browned the women's costumes fades, leaving
behind their original brilliant red colors.
"Wow," Del says, staring.
"This is incredible." He has never run across anything like this before. He's heard stories about sorcerers keeping harems of slave girls, of course, but he'd never really given them any thought. Of course, these couldn't be real women, but a sorcerer could create... golems, would they be called? Or perhaps these are just painted statues, a museum rather than a harem. But then again, with the magic a sorcerer would have commanded... is it possible that these are in fact real women, somehow preserved through the centuries?
Unable to resist any longer, Del reaches out to touch the shorter figure's face. It is cool and stiff -- softer than stone or wood, but definitely not real flesh. Perhaps it is wax, he thinks. He has heard of lifelike statues being made of hardened, colored wax, although he has never seen one. Yes, that must be what these figures are. He's glad to realize they aren't real - the thought of two lovely women imprisoned, frozen, for hundreds of years isn't one he really wants to think about. And yet, they look so incredibly lifelike, he all but expects the lovely girl to turn and berate him for his forwardness, or to slap his hand away -- but of course, anything that has been standing here since the Closing cannot be expected to know or care what he does to it.
So why not investigate further? Del puts his hands on the shorter statue's waist, and picks it up. It is a bit lighter than a girl its size would be, and it doesn't sag or droop as he moves it out of the niche and sets it down again on the floor of the main room. Its clothes feel perfectly normal -- for that matter, he realizes, its waist beneath them feels perfectly normal too, except that it does not yield to the pressure of his hands. But the figure has a very well-shaped body.
He looks more closely at the figure's face. It is very pretty, he decides: smooth, clear, and unblemished. Its lips are slightly parted, revealing even white teeth within. Its dark hair, long enough to pass its shoulders, is brushed behind its left ear, which is as perfectly formed as the rest of its face. There is a tiny hole in the lobe through which is passed a bit of wire with three small red gems hanging from it. Del walks around the statue's outstretched arm to its other side, and pushes back its soft hair to see a matching earring in its other ear. Strange, he thinks, that a wax figure would have real hair -- or is it real? It feels real.
But if the statue's face is so perfect, what of the rest of its body? Del looks at its hand, posed behind its head. Like the face, it seems perfectly lifelike. The fingers are nicely shaped and gently curved, ending in well-manicured, unpainted nails. The knuckles are carved perfectly, a series of wrinkles marking each one.
It takes him a moment to figure out how its gown of red silk is intended to come off, until he finds the knots near the base of the throat. It takes longer still to untie them, especially as his hands have begun to tremble slightly. Finally, he gets the lacing undone, and pulls the neck of the garment aside to bare more of the statue's chest. The pose of its arms prevents him from slipping the silk off its shoulders, however. He considers just ripping it off, but decides to try something else. Is it possible, he wonders, that the figure can be moved? He reaches for the statue's left hand, the one posed behind its head, and tries.
Sure enough, the wax statue is posable! He has to pull fairly hard, but the shoulder bends, and then so does the elbow. He lowers the other arm, and then he can slide the silken fabric off its shoulders and down its arms. Although its breasts are still hidden by a brassiere of red cotton, the statue's chest and torso are now revealed, and are as smooth and lovely and perfect as her face and hands. He runs his hands down the figure's ribs, enjoying the contours of a female body just as if the statue were a live woman. He does not stop when his hands reach the bunched up fabric at its waist, but pushes down gently, stretching the fabric over its generous hips until it falls in a silken pool around the statue's feet.
Del has never seen any woman dressed as this statue is now, for feminine modesty is in fashion these days. All women except whores wear several layers of undergarments - slips, petticoats, and the like - and even whores' undergarments are nothing like these. He feels his excitement growing as he admires the beautiful figure. As he walks slowly around it, though, he notices the other statue, and decides he cannot wait to see it unclothed as well.
It is only a few minutes' work to move the second figure out of its niche, a few feet away from the first, lower its raised arm, and remove its gown, beneath which it wears a thin slip which he does not yet remove. By now he is not suprised to find this statue just as perfectly lifelike as the first. It is of a slightly lighter complexion, and does not look as cheerful as its companion, but it is only slightly less beautiful -- and even that, Del admits, is a matter of opinion. Surely another man might find her the more attractive of the two. Her figure is no less perfect. Her legs are long and smooth. Her shoulders, back, and thighs are well-muscled, yet no less feminine for that. Perhals it is only be her awkward pose and blank, mildly disdainful expression that make her seem less lovely than her companion.
With that thought in mind, Del entertains himself for some time by reposing the statue. Its legs are already in that most feminine of poses, with one leg straight and the other slightly forward, the knee bent, and the ankle raised, so he leaves them as they are, contenting himself with a moment of gentle caressing of the thighs and hips. He then adjusts both of the arms so that the slender hands rest on the waist, and he carefully twists the statue's body and head so that it is standing up straight. He tips the head down some, trying to find a perfect pose, but he is forced to give up. If the figure's expression were more defiant, perhaps it would work, and he spends a moment trying to figure out how he might change the statue's expression. But it does not seem possible; there are too many muscles in a face, too many ways for an expression to be subtly wrong. He does not miss the excuse to gently stroke the statue's face... and in fact, he allows himself to be drawn into quite a lengthy contemplation of the color, form, and texture of that face, eventually nuzzling it with his own, and lightly kissing its cool, unresponsive lips.
Having gone so far, there seems nothing to stop him from taking the next step. The wax figure's slip is a light garment that seems to hang from its shoulders down to its knees, with boning to support the breasts. Del gathers up the end of the slip, and slowly raises it up the body. He gasps in suprise as his hands pass the statue's hips -- for despite the incredible perfection of the statue's face and figure, he could not have brought himself truly to expect it to be completely realistic in all aspects. And yet, there between its legs, is a patch of dark fuzz that seems to hide within it all that one might expect in a woman. Del quickly finishes removing the slip, and confirms it - his fingers can distinctly feel the opening, guarded by stiff, dry, yet not completely closed lips. He withdraws his hand and raises his fingertips to his own lips.
"Incredible," he breaths. Like the rest of the figure, the breasts are perfectly realistic -- firm and raised despite the removal of the clothes that seemed designed to support them, gently rounded, with large dark areolae. He half expects the nipples to prick up at his touch, though of course they don't -- though something else, which has already done so, reiterates its interest.
Well, why not?
He can hardly make love to a wax statue, of course, even one as perfect as this, but... he picks up the statue once more, moving it aside. A fold of its gown catches on its right foot, and he has to kick it aside, but then the fabric falls to the floor, and he moves the statue a few feet away before setting it down again. It wobbles a little, and he stabilizes it with a hand on its shoulder. It is now completely nude, except for a pair of soft leather sandals. He takes its left hand off its hip, and folds it experimentally. He nods affirmatively, and kisses each of the statue's breasts. Then he undresses himself.
When he is as nude as the statue, he steps up to it once more, and folds its left hand around his erection. He moves its right hand to his face, as if she is caressing him lightly as they kiss and fondle one another -- although of course Del is doing all of the kissing and fondling. He pumps his hips back and forth, sliding himself through the statue's hand as he kneads its breast, cups its shoulder, pulls its body sharply against his own, and finally cums.
He staggers back, and lets himself sprawl on the floor, surprised at himself. After a moment, he opens his eyes and looks around again. Nothing has changed -- the two lovely wax statues still stand motionless, just as he last saw them. The taller one is decorated with gobs of white goo on its hand and waist, dripping slowly down its left leg. Its blank expression, of course, has not changed, despite what Del has done.
He decides he will stay in the keep for a while.
A few hours later, Del wearily climbs the stairs back up to the sorcerer's bedroom. He has searched several more floors of the keep, and returns with a sack full of gems, coins, wands and rings that might be magical, and anything else that looked portable and valuable. He has found nothing that seems dangerous. And he has spotted no door to the outside. That was to be expected. Any sorcerers' keeps that could be entered by non-magical means had long since been looted or destroyed.
He has not located a kitchen, although after so long he would not expect it to contain any edible food anyway. He has run into this problem in other keeps he has plundered. Some of them do have wells, or tanks of drinkable water, but never any food. He has enough food with him to last a few days, though, and that has been enough for every other keep he has visited. The allure of the sexy, lifelike statues in the sorcerer's harem, or museum, or whatever it is, might keep him here longer than usual, but when his food runs out, he will have to leave.
After eating a meal of cheap bread and trail rations, he is ready to go to sleep. He has no way of telling what time it is in the world above, but it doesn't matter -- when in an underground keep, he sleeps when he is tired, and wakes whenever he wakes. And that soft, comfortable bed is very appealing. But before bed, he decides to take another look at the statues.
They are, of course, just where he left them. Looking at them again, Del can hardly believe they are mere statues. They are so lifelike, he all but expects them to turn and greet him as he enters... and yet, they have not moved in all the hours he was gone, not to mention in centuries before that. Despite all appearances, they are no more than perfect sculptures, crafted perhaps by magic, but no more alive than the stone walls of the keep.
Looking around at those walls, though, Del notices something he had not seen before, distracted as he was by the beautiful figures in the red-draped niche. On the floor just next to the niche is a wand. Del picks it up and examines it.
It appears to be made of a single piece of ivory, about as long as his arm. It is about an inch thick at its widest point, tapering down to about half that at the tip, which is capped with gold. There are precise carvings around the wand, the most common design being an arc over a dot. There is a hole drilled through the wide end of the wand, as though it were intended to hang from a nail -- which would explain its position on the ground, if the nail it had hung from had rusted away.
If the wand had hung from a nail next to the niche containing the statue women, perhaps it was designed to be used on them? Idly, Del taps the shorter statue's nose with the gold end of the wand.
A low musical tone sounds from the wand. At the same time, a golden glow illuminates the statue's nose. Del steps back in alarm. The glowing spot becomes a circle, then a crackling wave, rippling its way down the statue's body until it sinks into the floor. The tone dies away, the entire event having taken less than five seconds.
And the statue... relaxes.
Del stares in shock as the figure - no longer statue-still, but woman-mobile and very feminine - turns its head to face him. A wary smile plays around her lips.
"Who are you?" the statue -- the girl -- asks, her voice light and pretty despite a strong accent which Del does not recognize. Somehow, the statue is no longer just a statue.
"Who are you?!" Del shoots back, astonished and embarrassed. "You can't be real!"
"My name is Corith," she replies. "I think I'm real -- or at least, I used to be, once. And you certainly thought I was real when you undressed me, didn't you?" She takes a step toward him, and he backs away.
"You know that? I thought you were a wax figure! I wouldn't have-- I mean--"
"It's okay," Corith says. "I've been alone here so long, it was wonderful just to feel the touch of another human being. Please, let me thank you..." This time when she approaches him, he does not retreat, and she kisses him hungrily.
A moment later, they are kissing and groping their way to the bedroom. At first, she is rough, her hands pressing hard against his body. Before they even reach the bed, she has pulled off the blue sorcerer's robe and left it lying forgotten on the floor. She draws his hands up to her breasts, and he fondles them eagerly. The fact that a moment ago, this warm, soft, loving girl was a rigid statue is something he scarcely remembers. He can't see her face -- his lantern went out as they made their way to the bedroom -- but she certainly doesn't feel like a wax figure any more, as she writhes against him. She feels as human as any woman he has ever touched, and more so than many.
She unlaces his pants, and he pulls himself away from her long enough to finish undressing, while she hastily gets out of the undergarments he left on her when she was a statue. Then she guides his hand between her legs, and rubs herself against him eagerly.
"Please, touch me all over," she begs. "It's been so long..."
He wonders only briefly whether this could be some kind of erotic trap. If it is, he'll deal with it when it appears. But for now, he simply cannot bring himself to refuse this lovely girl's offer. He obliges, reveling in her beauty. He gently strokes her, eliciting squirms and moans of pleasure, culminating in an ecstatic yell.
At that, Corith calms some, opening her eyes and smiling at him. She draws his face down to hers and kisses him thoroughly... then reaches down and guides him into her body.
Del does not hesitate. Whoever, whatever this woman is, she wants what he wants. After some fumbling, they establish a rhythm of pleasure, rising and falling and thrusting and finally, all too quickly, releasing.
He relaxes on top of her, too exhausted to pull out of her for now. He is tired, but she isn't. She runs her hand gently up and down his back, occasionally stopping to caress his stubbled cheek. After a few minutes, she reaches down again and begins to fondle Del's balls.
"Stop that," he scolds her, and she does, though he can hear her sigh. "You really are a love slave, aren't you?"
"I'm sorry," Corith says, sounding sheepish. "I... I am, but I'm not usually like that at all. I guess you didn't mind, though."
"No," Del agrees, getting up and feeling for the lantern. Fortunately he had had the presence of mind -- just barely -- to set it on the table next to the bed, or he might never have found it again. "No, I can't say I did. I'm sure we can do it again later. I guess it's been a long time for you, hasn't it?"
"Yes. Lord Larit liked to fondle me while I was frozen. And then you touched me some more before, and undressed me, and I still couldn't do anything about it. When you finally released me... well, I guess I couldn't help myself. And it seems I'm still enspelled to love my master. I suppose that means you're my master now?"
"Um..." Well, there certainly could be worse things. He could consider the ethics of the situation later. "Yes, I am." He finally got the lantern lit, and the light flared up nicely. He would have to refill the oil soon, but for now he could see the room -- and Corith.
"May I know your name?" she asked.
"If you don't mind my asking, Lord Del, what happened to Lord Larit? Did you defeat him?"
"Well, not exactly... you see, all the sorcerers died during the Magewars and the Closing. About four or five hundred years ago."
The color drains from Corith's face, and her eyes widen in shock "Hundreds of years?" she breathes. "Dear Goddess, I knew we had been here a long time, but I never imagined..." She takes a deep breath. "What do you mean, most of the sorcerers died?"
"Have you heard of the Magewars?" Del asks. Corith shakes her head. "Well, they say that the mages all started fighting each other. Then the Closing happened. I don't understand exactly what that was -- I don't think anybody does, really -- but since then nobody's been able to make new magic, or talk to the gods, or anything like that. Some old magic items still work -- like I guess that wand -- but nobody can make any new ones." Del looked around suddenly, realizing he'd lost track of the wand. He spotted it sitting on the table next to the bed.
"The gates closed?" Corith whispers. She looks intent for a moment. "I can't contact the Power, but Lord Larit's spell isolates me. If the whole world is isolated, though... what happened to the Romai?"
"There are no more Romai," Del says. "They died out during the Closing. I wasn't even sure they ever really existed -- I've only heard of them in stories."
"Dear Goddess," Corith whispers, blinking back tears. "Well, I suppose I knew all along that even if I were freed someday, nothing would ever be as I knew it."
"No," Del agrees. "It's a very different world today than it was when you were free. Tougher, more barbaric... I try to avoid it as much as I can."
"Is that why you're here?" Corith asks.
"More or less. I found this place by accident, but I have to say I like it. The other statue who was with you... is she alive too?"
"Oh, dear Goddess, I almost forgot about her! Yes, of course. Her name is Nylissa. She must be horribly angry with both of us. Come, you must release her!" Corith immediately jumps out of bed and looks around for her underwear -- then suddenly stops. Her brow furrows. "Oh, no."
"She'll kill you with her bare hands for treating us the way you did -- and don't think she couldn't; she's a warrior. Unless -- of course!" Her face brightens. "You're not a sorcerer, you said they're all dead. You're going to free us, aren't you! You'd better tell her before you release her, but--"
"Stop, girl!" Del interrupts. "It's true, I'm not a sorcerer. But I didn't say I was..." His voice trails off as he notices Corith. She has not only stopped talking, she has stopped moving almost entirely. She is not quite as still as she was when Del first saw her -- she is breathing heavily, and swaying slightly. But she holds her arms in what looks like an awkward position, and her lips are slightly open as if in the middle of speech. "What's wrong, Corith?"
She replies, but only her mouth moves. "You ordered me to stop, master," she says.
Wonderingly, Del climbs out of bed. Corith's eyes track him, but she does not turn her head to follow him as he walks behind her. Slowly, Del realizes some of what has happened. Of course, Lord Larit would have done more to make her a slave than just turn her into an immortal statue. "Touching you with the wand didn't deactivate the spell, did it?"
"No, master," the girl replies.
"You have to obey my commands?"
Del smiles. He circles around in front of her again, and touches her cheek. She does not move. He takes her jaw in his hand and brings it up to his face, kissing her roughly on the mouth. She still does not react. "You can move again," he says.
Immediately, Corith relaxes. "Well, now you know," she says. "Alai, I should want to kill you now myself... but thanks to Lord Larit's love spell, I don't. And I can't bear to think of Nylissa hurting you."
"Well, she's harmless for now," Del points out, "and I don't mind leaving her like that a while longer. You're prettier than she is, anyway."
"Do you really think so?" Corith asks, smiling at him. Then she grimaces. "Look at me... a daughter of the Shallai tribe acting like a silly lovesick girl when I should be trying to escape from you and save my friend. Nylissa would kill me if she could see me now. I hate love spells."
"How about enslavement spells?" Del suggests.
"Those too, I guess. But I want to make you happy, and I can see that being your slave makes you happy, so... it makes me happy too. You aren't going to free us, are you?"
Del thinks for a moment. He would be the first to admit he isn't always the most ethical of men, but even so, the idea of keeping a couple of women as his personal slaves... well, it certainly wasn't right, but it would be pleasant. And besides, could he even free them if he wanted to? Even ignoring whatever spells keep them enslaved, how could they ever leave the keep? His ring would teleport only one person.
"I don't know yet," he admits.
"You won't," Corith says. "I can tell. I'm still a Romai prophetess, after all. Even without the Power, I can tell. I knew Lord Larit would never free us, and you won't either." She does not look as upset by this as Del would have expected her to -- the effect of the love spell, no doubt.
"Well, if you say so," he agrees. "How about you tell me how that enslavement spell works, then?"
"I'd really rather not," Corith sighs. Del waits. After a moment, she gives in, compelled by the spell on her. "All right. The wand controls us." Del reaches for the wand and takes it into his hand. "When I was frozen, and you tapped me with it, I became free to move -- but as you just saw, I still have to obey your orders. I'll be forced to do anything you want me to, whether I like it or not."
Testing, Del wills her to lie back down on the bed, but she doesn't seem to notice. "You're not doing what I want you to right now," he points out.
"I'm not?" Del shakes his head. "Well... maybe it doesn't work quite how I thought. I know Lord Larit didn't usually have to give me orders to control me."
"Maybe he had some other spell," Del suggests.
"Maybe. Or maybe he just had better control of his desires than you do. That's key to doing magic, and he was very good at magic. Oh, by the way, I'm pretty sure the spell on Nylissa works the same way, so when you release her, you should probably tell her right away not to hurt you, before she has a chance to do anything. Then you'll be safe."
"Sure," he says. "What else?"
"Well, if you tap me with the wand again now -- don't do it yet -- then I won't be able to do anything except what you want me to do. I'll just stand there until you tell me what to do, and then I'll have to obey you mindlessly."
"Like when I told you to stop before?"
"Mostly. Except then I would have been able to move again as soon as you told me to do anything except talk. When you do it with the wand, I'm helpless until you take me out of it with the wand."
"Okay," Del says. "Go on."
"After that, one more tap makes me frozen again, like I was when you found me. Then it just repeats. That's about all I know."
"I see," Del says. He is holding the wand in his right hand, and starts to slap it into his left -- when he suddenly realizes what he's doing, and stops. "Does the wand have any effect on anything other than you two? Like me, for instance?"
"I don't know," Corith says. "I don't think so. Lord Larit once said he had to do a big spell to place Nylissa and me under his control, but he could have lied."
"Well, I'll be careful with it, then. I'll play with you instead." And he reaches out with the wand, and taps Corith's bare breast.
As when he tapped her the first time, there the wand emits a musical note -- a higher one, he thinks. A dim, silvery light shines from the girl's breast, where he tapped her, and also from the end of the wand. The light ripples out from her breast, flashing over her entire body, and disappearing as if it had never been.
Corith had been standing with her hands clasped in front of her. She had flinched as he reached for her with the wand, and her hands had begun to move as if to block his swing. But once the magical glow has passed, she does not move any more. Her eyes are wide, a trace of alarm frozen on her still features. Her hands are stopped in mid-rise, and now remain poised a few inches apart, unmoving. The only movement Del notices is the fall of her chest, letting out the gasp she had taken just as she became helpless.
He tosses the wand on the bed, and approaches Corith eagerly. She does not respond to his approach, unless the deep breath she takes is a response. He is close enough to her to feel her breath on his chin as she exhales. What to have her do, now that she is his?
"Smile," he says, by way of experiment. Without hesitation, the nervous expression on her face melts into a friendly smile. He traces the outline of her smile with his index finger. "Smile sexier," he orders, and her expression changes accordingly -- and so does his.
"So, you have to do anything I tell you to?" he asks. He knows the answer, but wants to hear it again.
"Yes, master," Corith says. Her voice is flat and all but expressionless, not at all like the lively girl she had been a moment ago. "How may I please you?"
"I think I like you like this," he says cheerfully.
To be continued...