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.
Continued from parts 1 and 2...
In their first lovemaking, Corith, driven by centuries of imprisonment in her own body, had taken the lead. The second time, she had had no such choice. Del had told her precisely what he wanted her to do, and she could do nothing else but obey him. At his command, she kissed him - lightly, lovingly, or passionately, as he directed. When he told her to, she stroked his cock. As he ordered, she lay on the bed with her legs open and her eyes shut, as he kissed and stroked and teased her nipples, her lips, and her clit. She just lay there, unable to react in any way, not even able to moan or tense or cum unless he told her to. On a whim, Del tried to give her permission to moan when she felt like it - but when he realized that in her current state she could not make such a choice for herself, he ordered her to moan when he touched her. Finally, he had her take him in her mouth and bring him to orgasm, swallowing his juices.
"Let go of me," he mutters. Corith does not move. Del isn't surprised - however it happened, she is now a statue again, unable to move even at his command.
He opens his eyes to find the wand and release her -- and then realizes his eyes are already open; there just isn't any light. Lord Larit could probably have conjured up light with a snap of his fingers; Del would have to find the lantern first. He somewhat brusquely spreads Corith's rigid limbs apart so he can get up.
After some effort, he manages to get the lantern lit long enough to find his second lantern, just before the first flame goes out. If there isn't a good source of oil here in the keep, he thinks, he'll run out of that long before running out of food.
Speaking of which... He pulls a chunk of bread out of his pack, and eats. It's not wonderful, but it helps him to feel more awake. He'll have to see if Corith knows how to use the keep's kitchen.
Come to think of it, she might know more useful things. Why not ask?
He looks around for the wand, and finally spots it on the floor next to the bed. He picks it up and taps the motionless girl-statue with it.
"Good morning," she says once the special effects of her transformation are finished. "I was wondering when you'd release me." She sits up and stretches. "Ooh, it feels so good to do that," she sighs.
"Do you know how to cook here?" Del asks.
"Um... not really," Corith replies. "I've never even seen Lord Larit's kitchen. And I'm not a very good cook anyway."
"That's too bad. I have some dried meat that could stand to be stewed. Well, we'll see what you can do with it later. How about lights? Is there some way to turn on light down here?"
"Oh, yes." She smiles, and goes to the door. She presses her finger against a small circle of ivory on the wall next to the door. As soon as she does, a golden glow fills the room - not very brightly, but enough to see by. "There are taps like this in every room. Touch it and the light comes on -- though it used to be brighter."
"The magic must be wearing down. At least it still works some."
"Yes, that's something," she agrees. Del puts out his lantern, saving the oil for when it's needed.
"Do you mind if I get dressed?" Corith asks.
"Hmm..." Del muses. He's tempted to make love to her again... but then, there's still the other girl to be tried. "Sure, go ahead, if you can find anything pretty that isn't decayed. Not what you had on before."
"Oh, don't worry... after five hundred years in that gown, I'm ready for a change."
"But I want you to look good, okay? Wait in here when you're done."
"Yes, master," she replies, grinning.
Del takes the lantern and the wand, and returns to the "harem" room. Inside the room, sure enough, there's a small ivory circle next to the door. Del touches it, and the room is suddenly brightly lit, like a spring day, illuminating the second statue-like woman. She is still immobile just as he left her last night. He wonders whether she could hear any of the sounds from the bedroom last night. She certainly knew he had masturbated in her hand yesterday. He will have to be careful when he releases her. Perhaps he should tap her twice, leave her helpless but obedient? No, he decides. He wants to know what her personality is like.
"Your turn, now," he says cheerily as he approaches her. He taps the end of the wand against her chest.
A low tone, a wash of golden light... and suddenly a brick crashes into Del's solar plexus. "You shutack!" the suddenly enraged woman cries, as Del staggers backward, the wand flying from his hand. "How dare you," her fist slams against his jaw, "treat a Romai warrior of the Shallai tribe that way?" He collapses on the floor, and his last sight as he loses consciousness is of the warrior's fist crashing down toward his face...
His first sight as he awakens is almost identical, except that the woman's fist is mere inches from his nose, and does not move. She has pretty fingers, he notes idly, except for the trace of his blood on them.
Del rolls out from under the fist, and slowly climbs to his feet. He still aches, and his jaw hurts intensely, but it doesn't seem to be broken. He checks the lantern, and sees it is still almost full -- which means he can't have been unconscious for very long. The wand is on the floor where it fell from his hand, and he picks it up again.
His gaze returns to the motionless Romai warrior, still crouched as if to strike a killing blow. Corith had warned him to order her not to hurt him as soon as he released her, he thought, but he hadn't really believed her. Not that it would have made any difference -- she had kicked him solidly before he'd even been sure she was mobile. He'd assumed the woman -- what was her name, anyway? Nira... no, Nylissa, that was it -- would at least take a minute or two to assess her situation before striking him... but then again, she'd had all night, with nothing else to do but think. It is a good thing the enslavement spell froze her again when he blacked out, or he would be dead now.
"Well, Nylissa," he says to her crouching form, "I hope you can see it's pointless to attack me. You'll just end up helpless again. Even if you kill me, you can't escape that way." Confident that she is now a harmless statue, he reaches out and touches her bare back. He had barely taken note of the smooth curves of well-toned muscle before, but now, frozen in this action pose, it is obvious that the woman is no frail beauty. He runs his hands over outlines of frozen muscles... but he still does want to see her, and feel her, in action. A different kind of action.
He tries something different. Preparing himself carefully, he taps Nylissa twice on the spine with the wand, then quickly takes a step back. A chord sounds from the wand, and the golden wave of light is followed up almost instantly by a reddish glow. As soon as it passes, Del can see that the woman has changed. She holds her awkward, crouching pose, but she is no longer statue-still. She wavers slightly on her feet, and he can hear her breathing... but she makes no move to attack him, and in fact no move at all.
Approaching her again, Del touches her back once more. Now her skin is soft and silky, even if the muscle beneath is hard. She flinches ever so slightly as she feels his touch, and a light sheen of perspiration dampens her skin. Del ignores it, enjoying her helplessness.
"Stand up," he orders her. "Put your hands down at your sides, and turn around." Nylissa obeys his orders as he issues them, but her face is still frozen in an ugly grimace of rage. "Smile," he commands, and the rage melts away... slowly, as if she is fighting the need to obey him, but it is a fight she cannot win. In a few seconds, her lips are curved in a childlike smile.
"There," Del says approvingly. "You're not bad looking when you smile. Actually, you're quite lovely." It is true -- though she is still not quite as pretty as her fellow slave, there is a sort of classical beauty about her that he rather likes. He reaches up and caresses her face with his hand, leaning close to her with his body -- close enough to hear a very soft, rumbling growl coming from the girl's throat. But he decides to ignore it -- the magic that controls her body is clearly strong enough to keep her helpless in any way that matters. Why worry if it cannot completely suppress an angry growl or a twitching lip? He lightly kisses her soft lips.
"Come," he commands, turning back to the bedroom. He imagines Nylissa behind him, thinking to attack him as his back is turned, but only able to meekly follow him.
In the bedroom, Corith sits frozen on the edge of the bed, her back to him. She is wearing a green slip, and is caught in the act of lacing up a white corset. Two drawers are open in a dresser, and the top one at least contains softly colored fabrics.
What to do with her? he wonders. Leave her there while he makes love to Nylissa? No, he'd rather not. He taps her with the wand. Her body glows, and when the glow fades, she leaps to her feet, spinning around.
"Are you okay? What happened? Did Nylissa attack you?"
"Yes, she did," Del admits. "She's faster than I expected. But it didn't matter. As soon as she knocked me out, you both froze again. That old sorcerer sure knew how to keep slaves."
Corith nods ruefully. "Yes, he was very thorough. I've never heard of anybody escaping from him. But what are you going to do with her?"
"I haven't decided yet," Del says, although that isn't exactly true.
"Please don't hurt her, Lord Del." She starts toward him, playing with the lacing of her corset. "You and I could--"
"Stop," Del orders her, and she freezes in her tracks, her eyes seductively downcast. "Nylissa, Go lie on the bed." She does, stretching herself out on her stomach. Del is about to tell her to roll over on her back, but he decides to wait. Instead, putting the wand down on the nightstand, he sits down next to her, with his thigh pressed against hers, and sensuously caresses her smoothly-muscled shoulders and back.
"I want you to make love to me," he says quietly. Hearing an order, she begins to turn over. "No, no, not just yet. I don't want you to do it like this. I want you able to move on your own, not just obey me. But I'm not going to let you knock my lights out again this time." He looks around to the other girl. "Corith, if I give Nylissa an order now, then tap her twice with this so she can move on her own, will she still have to obey it?"
"I don't know, master," Corith replies, not moving otherwise. That gives him an idea - he can experiment on her.
"Come over here," he orders. She comes to him - but not stiffly, as she had moved last night. She smiles warily, no doubt wondering what he has planned for her, although she says nothing. Which is what he wants. "Don't talk," he orders. Corith glares petulantly at him, but he ignores it. At his command, she sits down on the bed next to him, and of her own volition she rests her hand on his thigh. He's in no great hurry to perform his experiment, so he pauses to caress Corith's thigh, shoulder, and face, bringing a smile to her face. He ultimately kisses her sensuously on the lips. While her eyes are closed, he reaches for the wand and taps her lightly with it. He feels almost enveloped himself in the silver glow that surrounds her for a moment, but it has no effect on him, while leaving Corith a motionless doll, caught in mid-kiss. Her eyes are still lightly closed, her tongue just barely protruding from between softly open lips. Her left hand is bent up, frozen as she had pressed it against Del's ribs. Del smiles, and kisses her helpless face some more, using his teeth to toy with her tongue.
But then, moving on - it's Nylissa he wants this morning. "Don't move," he orders Corith, although of course she already can't. Then he taps her twice more with the wand. A chord sounds, and light envelops her body, which seems to shimmer for a moment before she looks as she did before.
"That was fun," she says, opening her eyes.
"Damn," Del mutters. "That means Nylissa will be able to do whatever she wants when I free her, too. How can I prevent her from attacking me?" he muses.
"You could tie her down," Corith suggests. Then she looks sheepish. "I'm sorry, 'Lissa, I didn't mean to say that."
Del grins. "I like that idea. There's some rope in my bag. Go get it. Nylissa, turn over."
Corith goes to Del's bag, as he's ordered. "Lord Del, please don't rape Nylissa," she begs. "She's a Romai warrior. She follows a code of honor that binds--"
"Shut up, Corith," Del orders. He does not want to listen to her protestations; he wants to play with his new toys. It is fun bending the two lovely girls to his will.
"You know," Del says to Nylissa, "if you weren't so violent, I wouldn't need to do this." Of course, she can not react at all except to turn over as she's been ordered to.
Del stretches Nylissa's arms out over her head. "Tie her wrists together like this, then up to this bar," he orders Corith. "Make it good and tight, so she can't escape easily. I'm going to tell her to try before I release her, just to make sure you did a good job." Then he runs his hands all the way down her sides to her feet, which he pulls apart until they are pointed at the corners of the bed and her sex is exposed to view. He teases it lightly with his finger, but the only reaction is a slight quivering in her hips. When her hands are tied, he has Corith tie each ankle to a post.
When she is finished, Del orders her aside, then speaks to the tied-up woman. "Try to free yourself," he orders her.
She strains mightily against the ropes, but Corith has been thorough. Probably she could escape given time, Del decides, but this will certainly hold her long enough for him to give her the necessary orders.
"Okay, stop," he says. Then he touches her bare midriff with the wand. A tone and a glow, and Nylissa is once more a perfect wax statue. A second tap, a second tone and glow, and she is flesh once more. Before she can do more than flex her muscles once, Del begins giving her orders. "Don't move," is his first order, and Nylissa freezes immediately except for barely-perceptible twitching. He puts down the wand, and, sitting between her spread legs, begins running his hands over her bare body.
"In a few minutes I'm going to kiss your lips. After I do that, you may move again. However, even then, you may not speak or scream. You may not escape from the ropes you're tied up with. You may not hurt me in any way." He pauses to think. "When I kiss you, you'll kiss me back." What else? "I guess that's enough. Do you understand those orders I just gave you?"
"Yes, master," Nylissa replies.
"Good." He continues to touch and fondle her motionless body for a little while, working his way upwards. He slides his body up hers, biting her left nipple on the way, squeezing a tiny squeak from her throat. With his hand cupped around her jaw and his thumb brushing her cheek, he holds his lips just a fraction of an inch away from hers, close enough that he can feel her breath on his lips... and she can feel his on hers. She must be desperate, inside her helpless body, waiting for him to finally kiss her so she can move. He brushes her hair aside, prolonging the moment, grinning... and then, finally, he kisses her lips.
"Nnngggh!" It's a soft, wordless cry, as her body tenses and strains. Obeying his orders, she returns his kiss, exciting him far more than he'd expected. She writhes against him, hopelessly seeking some kind of release, straining against her bonds enough to worry him... but when he finally looks up from kissing her, he sees that she isn't even pulling hard against the ropes. She wants to, but his orders restrain her far more effectively than the ropes ever could. He decides to leave her tied up, though. He can always untie her later and have her again.
He is about to return his attentions to the pleasures of Nylissa's body, when he realizes he is being watched. Corith is watching them, with an expression of horror on her face.
"Do you want to join us, Corith?" he asks. She shakes her head frantically no. "Then go see if you can find some water to clean up with. Make yourself clean and pretty." The girl raises her hands and opens her mouth as if to protest... but she still cannot speak, and after a moment she must turn and walk away to the stairs.
He gives Nylissa no more orders. There is no need. She is already totally helpless, and he finds that he enjoys the wordless, futile protests she makes. She isn't pathetic at all -- she is a strong woman still refusing to give in despite knowing she has been reduced to utter helplessness by the magic Del exploits. And it isn't only the sorcerer's magic. As he proceeds to rub, caress, tickle, fondle, and tease her, he can feel her struggle reluctantly change from a desperate attempt to escape his attentions, into a desperate attempt to continue them. Each time he feels she is on the verge of orgasm, he stops, moving his hands elsewhere. Once he even gets out of bed completely, intending to walk away and let Nylissa wait for him to return, but he decides he can't wait himself. By the time he finally enters her and allows her to cum as he did, she is as much a participant as he.
Del relaxes... and the next thing he knew, he is waking up next to a beautiful statue. Her face, expressionless, is turned mostly toward him, as though she'd known she would transform when he fell asleep, and had simply been waiting for it to happen. Wise, Del thinks. By now Nylissa has certainly proven she can not possibly escape. He brushes his finger once through the bush of hair below her navel, but he has no intention of taking her again just now. He finds himself quite thoroughly sated.
He gets out of bed and begins to dress. With his pants on, he goes to the nightstand to get the wand and release Nylissa. A crackling golden glow envelops her, and when it passes... she moves only enough to turn her head toward him, then away again.
"Nothing to say?"
"You wouldn't listen to me anyway," Nylissa says. "I'm just a toy to you."
"True," Del agrees, grinning. He puts down the wand and returns to dressing. When he's finished, he finds his waterskin and takes a long drink.
"Want a drink?" he asks.
"Sure? You must be thirsty after that."
"No. The slave spell keeps me from getting thirsty. Or hungry or tired, or anything else."
"Nice," Del says, drinking some more.
"It doesn't do anything about boredom, though. Or wondering whether you'll ever move again. Or what kind of monster you'll be serving when you do. How long has it been, anyway?"
"I don't know exactly," Del answers. "From what I know, I think it must have been at least four or five hundred years. Maybe a lot more."
Nylissa's face turns pale. "Four hundred? I knew it had been a long time, but... I had no idea... Did my people survive? The Shallai tribe of the Romai?"
"No, they didn't."
"I thought not. We were a dying people even then." There is a pause, as Del fusses with his bag. "I don't suppose you'd be willing to untie me?"
Del thinks it over. Why not? And besides, that way he can have her dress up in something nice and sexy, before he freezes her again. "Sure. Don't hurt me in any way. Don't touch anything of mine unless I tell you to. And don't try to escape."
He thinks for a moment to make sure he's given her all the necessary orders, but that seems sufficient. So he goes to her wrists, and begins untying them. It takes him some time -- Corith really did do a good job -- but finally her hands are detached from the bedpost, and then from each other. Nylissa shakes them out, sitting up, massages her wrists.
"Thank you," she says, grudgingly.
"You can get your own feet," Del says, and the girl reaches down to finish untying herself.
"You two really are beautiful, you know," Del muses as she works at the knots. "I can understand why Lord Larit wanted you. How did you come to be here, anyway?"
Nylissa looks up. "Lord Larit was fighting a war against the High Priestess of Tulone," she explains, "not far from the forest where our tribe lives -- I mean, lived. Our forest was being affected by the magical battle. Our prophets and wizards could have shielded it, but the Elders decided that Lord Larit or the High Priestess might see that as interfering in their fight, and they didn't want that. So Corith was sent to Lord Larit to negotiate an agreement, and another prophetess was sent to the High Priestess. I was Corith's bodyguard." By now she had freed her ankles, and she gratefully pulled her legs together and her knees up against her bare chest.
"What happened when you saw him?"
"He barely listened to what we had come to say. When we were finished, he told us he'd have to think about it. We were taken to a room -- to rest, he said -- and offered refreshments. But there must have been poison in the drinks. We both fell asleep, and when I woke up, Lord Larit was explaining that we were his slaves. I couldn't reach the Power, and I couldn't move my body, and I couldn't disobey Lord Larit."
"Did he protect your forest, in the end?"
"I don't know. He told me once that he did, but he might have lied."
Del pauses, thinking... then looks up and glares at her. "Damn you, now you've got me thinking of you as a person," he says.
"No, not good! I don't..." He trails off.
Nylissa looks at him wonderingly. She stretched her long legs out and stands up. "You're not really evil, are you?"
Del looks away.
"You're not, I can tell. I thought you were, when you... did what you did to me... but you really didn't know I was human then. To you we were just statues, old magic toys left behind by a long-dead sorcerer, so why not play with us? And even after you learned to use the wand, that's still how you thought of us - toys. But we're not toys, Lord Del. We're real women, as human as you are, enslaved by an evil man long ago. You know that now, don't you?"
"I know," Del agrees quietly. Then he bursts out in frustration. "But there's nothing I can do about it. I don't know how to free you from the spell. And even if I did, I can't take you out of this keep. I only know how to transport myself and whatever stuff I can carry!"
"Would you free us if you could?"
Would he? He knows what he should do, but would he really do it, if he could? "I don't know," he says, shaking his head. "Maybe."
"Maybe. Well, that's something." She looks around the room. "I'm going to get dressed," she announces. "It would be nice if you looked the other way."
Del laughs. "After all I've done, you want me to look the other way while you get dressed?" But Nylissa just shrugs, and goes to the drawer, and after a moment, Del turns his back.
"All right," she says a few moments later, and Del turns to look. She is dressed in a flowing green gown, that just barely covers her breasts, and leaves her shoulders and arms bare. It looks lovely on her. Del smiles.
"I always did like this one," Nylissa said, smiling a little sheepishly. "It isn't Romai--"
"Freeze," Del orders. And instantly, she does. He feels a little guilty about it... but why should he feel guilty? He's the master here now, isn't he? And if he likes the pose the girl has accidentally slipped into, and the shy smile on her lips, why shouldn't he freeze her that way? In fact, he takes the opportunity to step closer to her and move her left arm back a little, adjust the angle of her wrists and fingers a touch, tip her head down some. "There. Perfect. Stay just like that."
She does not move. He considers tapping her with the wand... but why not just leave her like this? She's just as helpless. And this way he can still call her if he wants her for something.
Some hours later, Del is eight flights downstairs. He has been searching the keep some more. At first he is puzzled as to why Lord Larit built his keep so vertical - why make himself have to keep climbing stairs every time he wanted to go anywhere? Then he realizes that there is a wide empty space inside the square stairwell. Of course. The sorcerer would have flown up and down wherever he wanted to go. It was just his slaves who had to use the stairs. And anyone who came to loot his keep centuries after his death.
He hasn't done as well on this trip downstairs. The top five floors, which he had searched yesterday, seemed to be the sorcerer's laboratory and working areas. Books and scrolls were worthless to Del, but the various magical implements - wands, rings, and the precious materials from which such things were made - they were worth money in the outside world, even if their magic had faded completely. But the next three floors seemed to be servants quarters. Servants' possessions weren't worth anything, and nobody bothered to preserve them. Del was thorough enough to search everything thoroughly despite that. A gem worth thousands could be hidden inside a pile of rotted clothes in a termite-infested bureau. Unfortunately, none was. All he had found was Corith, clean and refreshed, waiting for him near a pump that brought water into the keep near the servants' quarters. He'd sent her upstairs with a bucket of water and rags to clean up the bedroom.
His thoughts keep returning to the two slave girls, though. He thinks of Corith's beautifully smooth body, her lovely features, her unbreakable love for him... and he thinks of what Nylissa had said about him. That he isn't really evil. He doesn't want to be evil. He's never thought of himself as a tower of morality, of course, but... evil?
And yet, what has he done in the last two days? Raped two innocent, helpless women? Compelled them to obey his every whim? Were those the acts of a good man? Corith didn't mind much - but even her tolerance is born of the unnatural love that Lord Larit compelled in her. And Nylissa... she had fought him as hard as she could.
But it's not as if he can do anything else, he tells himself. He didn't put the spell on them that makes them perpetual slaves. He couldn't free them if he wanted to - and even if he did, they'd only die of hunger in the keep. And as long as they're here, he might as well enjoy them. Mightn't he?
He wants to believe it.
But he doesn't.
When Del returns to the bedroom, breathless from his climb, Nylissa is still standing motionless just where he had left her, facing away from the entrance. Corith is scrubbing the wall, and the rest of the room looks much brighter. Watching the two girls following his commands, he finds himself suddenly consumed with lust. He drops his pack.
"Did you find anything exciting?" Corith asks.
"Come here," he orders. She drops her rags on the floor on her way over. He takes her in his arms and kisses her passionately, a kiss she returns eagerly. "Close your eyes and make love to me," he orders.
She closes her eyes and begins to undo his clothes. "I'd like to look at you," she says, but he doesn't answer. He doesn't want her to see. He guides her back to the bed, taking off her corset. Corith lies on her back, drawing him down on top of her, but he has the feeling that's not what he wants.
"No, get on your hands and knees," he orders. He runs his hand over the girl's smooth back and ass, noticing for the first time a scattering of brown freckles on her back. He ignores them, and reaches over her, around her, playing with her dangling breasts, preparing to enter her from behind...
No. He doesn't want Corith right now after all. He sits up, slapping the girl's bottom lightly. "Never mind. Go wait in your alcove in the other room. Nylissa, you can move, don't talk, come make love to me," he orders, all in a single breath.
"Lord Del, what's wrong? Did I do something wrong?" Corith frowns, but she gets up anyway and goes off. Meanwhile, Nylissa relaxes from her frozen pose and comes to him, a seductive smile on her lips. She kisses him passionately. She doesn't undress herself yet, but instead begins kissing him lightly all over his face, his neck, his chest. Yes, that's more like it, Del decides. He can feel the wet traces on his skin where her lips and tongue have passed. He relaxes, relaxes... still feeling he is not enjoying this enough.
"Take off that dress," he orders. Nylissa slowly slips out of it, revealing her beautiful strong body. "That's better. Come here." He takes her in his arms, pressing her body against his. "Put your arms around me," he commands, and they embrace for a time, nuzzling against each others' necks.
He rolls to his back when he is bored of this, his eyes closed. "Make love to me," he orders. He feels Nylissa swing her leg over him, her calloused hands on his thighs, his waist, his ribs, his stomach, moving down to his manhood. He responds, as she guides him into her, and leans down over him, letting her nipples just brush his chest as she begins to move on top of him, up and down, pushing with her powerful legs and letting herself down again. She begins to moan with pleasure, and he opens his eyes to see her beautiful face...
He sees her eyes. All he can see in them is hate.
"Smile," he commands, and she does, but the smile does not seem to reach her eyes. "Close your eyes." There, that's better. She continues moaning, though now Del hears less pleasure and more desperation in it. "Be quiet," he orders, not wanting to hear her anymore, and her moaning all but stops, reduced to a bare squeak from the back of her throat. "Make me cum," he demands. "Make me cum, girl!"
Her movements speed up, and she clenches her muscles around his manhood. She lifts one hand to the side of his face, touching him ever so softly even as she moves so roughly atop him... and he cums powerfully inside her.
He relaxes, sagging back on the bed. Nylissa pulls away from him immediately, and he feels her get off the bed. He does not bother to stop her.
He is tired and spent, but not satisfied.
Shortly he opens his eyes and sits up. Nylissa is sitting on the floor against a wall, her knees pressed against her chest, her head bowed in defeat.
"You can open your eyes," he decides. She looks up at him. The hatred is still there in her eyes, despite the smile pasted on her lips.
What has he done?
How can he have behaved so... so evilly as to cause such hatred in another person? He looks away from her, disgusted with himself.
A moment later, he feels a hand on his shoulder. He turns, to see Nylissa tapping her mouth with her finger. The hatred is gone from her face. He decides he may as well let her talk - it can't make things any worse.
"Sure, why not? You can talk. And quit smiling like that."
"Thank you," Nylissa says quietly. "I was right, wasn't I?"
"I don't know," Del says miserably. "Maybe I am evil."
"You're not. If you were, you wouldn't be this upset." She sits down next to him, not touching him, but close.
"I guess. But I still did it, didn't I? And... and I'll do it again."
Nylissa looks down at her lap. "I know. And I can even understand, sort of. I'm not above temptation myself, you know. I'd like to think I am, but... well, I don't know."
"Then you can forgive me?" Del asks, sitting up.
"I can." Del begins to smile, but Nylissa holds up her hand. "I said I can. But I don't. Not yet."
Del looks at her questioningly... then, with sudden despair, he realizes what she means.
"I can't free you," he cries, leaping off the bed to pace anxiously across the room. "I can't even take you out of here. The only thing I can do for you is to leave you here like I found you. Maybe I should do that - freeze you both and leave now." He knows he won't, though. Their lure is too strong.
"No, you can do better than that." Del looks at her doubtfully. "I have an idea. This is Lord Larit's keep. He must have books, scrolls, laboratories... right?"
"Well, there might be information there that would tell us how to break the spell on us and get out of here. Let me search them. I understand magic, even if I'm not a sorceress myself. I might be able to find something."
"But there's no power left," Del objects. "Even if you could learn something from the books, you couldn't make it work."
"Not necessarily. All spells like this have ways of breaking them. Some of them don't need new magic. For example, the spell might break if a particular phrase is spoken, or a piece of parchment ripped, or--"
"Or a wand broken?"
"Maybe - but maybe not that one," Nylissa adds quickly. "That one is probably just a switch, not the center of the spell. Breaking it might just make it impossible to change us again - and if we do have to stay here, I'd rather it be as a statue who won't starve to death. Speaking of which, do you have anything I can eat?"
"I thought you don't get hungry?" Del asks.
"Not when I'm a statue, like when you found us. When I'm alive, I do."
"What if I changed you back for a few minutes? I don't have all that much food."
"That would work too, I guess, but in that case let's finish this first. If you'll agree to do what you can to free me - which starts with letting me search Lord Larit's books and scrolls and whatever else might be there that could be useful - then I'll forgive you for what you've done to me."
Del wants to agree. He could scarcely understand why, but her forgiveness was important to him. And yet...
"Corith said you'd kill me for what I did to you before. How do I know you won't, if you manage to get free?" That isn't really what he is thinking about, but he's not ready to ask his real question.
"Corith doesn't know everything there is to know about me," Nylissa says. At Del's questioning look, she adds, "She thinks I'm a better person than I am, and I'd just as soon keep it that way. But like I said, I'm not above temptation. Please let me leave it at that?"
"All right. But..." He can't bring himself to ask.
"I know," Nylissa says softly. "You still want to... use me."
"I shouldn't, I know... but I'm not that good a man. I won't stop using you - or Corith - until I have to leave," he says slowly.
Nylissa bites her lip. "I know. And I can't stop you." She takes a deep breath, then looks at him, resolved. "My answer is yes. Do whatever you want to me, make me do whatever you want, and I'll forgive you. So long as you give me a chance to be free."
"All right," Del announces. "It's a deal."
To be continued...