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 3 and 4...
It has been a good week. True to his word, he has allowed Nylissa to spend most of her time downstairs. He gives her careful instructions each time she leaves him - she is not to hurt him, nor escape from the spell or the keep. She may not destroy anything deliberately. She must put anything she moves back where she found it when she is finished with it - that was to make sure she couldn't steal anything from him. If she finds anything of value, she's to bring it to him - and she did in fact find several interesting items he's sure he can get good cash for in the outside world. And each time she leaves him, he instructs her to return to him in a specified amount of time. She has obeyed each order to the letter - not that she has any choice.
And Del has also gotten what he wants: two lovely slave girls obeying his every whim. He's lost count of how many times he has had sex with one or both of them. And not always sex, either - perhaps the most pleasant time he's had was when he stripped naked and had both women massage his entire body, from scalp to toes, and them hold him lovingly in their arms as he slept. He enjoyed that so much that the next day he had joined each girl in performing the same service for the other. Even Nylissa had admitted she enjoyed it - the only thing she would willingly admit to enjoying, although more than once she had voiced her pleasure when he asked her, and she could not lie. She had not enjoyed making love to Corith, though - but he had certainly enjoyed watching it, and Corith had thanked him profusely. It turned out she had dreamed of making love to Nylissa even before they had come to the keep. Del hadn't known that the first time he made her do it.
When Del awakes this morning, he finds Corith standing in a sultry pose near the wall, wearing only a filmy, nearly transparent garment and a sexy smile. He decides to leave her there. He kisses her waxy lips gently on his way out... then turns back to her. He lifts her frozen hand, and folds down her thumb and smallest fingers. Then he pushes her hand under her waistband, and presses her two fingers into her sex. He knows she both loves and hates this - loves it for the pleasant feeling it gives her, and hates it for her inability to do anything about it.
"Enjoy the day," he says to her. Then he kisses her once more, and leaves the bedroom.
It takes him a little while to find Nylissa. Usually he makes sure she comes back upstairs before he sleeps, but this time Corith had tempted him into bed earlier than he'd expected. Of course, as soon as he fell asleep, both girls had transformed back into the wax statues they'd been when he found them, and Nylissa could neither return nor even answer him if he called to her.
But he does find her, standing bent over a cabinet in a storeroom. She is almost modestly dressed, for once - Del didn't give her any instructions on dress the previous day, so she has garbed herself in a soft green blouse and a sort of wraparound skirt of white cotton. A Romai garment, Del assumes, although it's possible that styles like that were common among female slaves five hundred years ago. He does like the way it looks on her, even if he doesn't know what to call it. Hardly surprising - Lord Larit did not keep any clothes for his women that weren't flattering.
As he approaches more closely, he notices that the Romai woman is peering intently at a manuscript on the counter. He cannot read it, of course, but it does seem to hold some interest for Nylissa - her lips bear a faint, distracted smile, and her eyes are bright. He runs his hands down her bare arms, and caresses her cheek lightly.
"Found something interesting, have you?" he asks. Then he taps her bottom with the wand, so she can answer.
"Yes," she says excitedly. "I think I've found the key to the whole spell!"
Del isn't sure whether to be happy or not. He decides on happy. After all, he must leave in the next day or two anyway. After all he's done to these girls, it would be... satisfying... to let them go free.
"So you know how to be free of it? Do not do it," he adds, wanting to make sure she's not free until he's ready for it.
"I don't think I could do it myself," she says. "And I'm not sure it'll work at all. Um... how much do you want me to explain?"
Some time later, Del understands at least the basics. There are two parts to the girls' imprisonment.
The first part is that, centuries ago, Lord Larit turned them into the rigid, inanimate figures that they had been when he found them. The spell that had done that was long since completed; their transformation was an accomplished fact.
In order to have the use of them as slaves, not just artwork, he had cast a second spell on each of them, and that spell still worked on them. It was that spell which, when triggered by touching a girl with the wand, turned her temporarily back into flesh. That spell could also connect the girl's own will to her body, or disconnect it. But it used a human's life energy - in this case, Del's - to fuel her. And a human could control the use of his own life energy. That was why the girls had to obey him, even when they were flesh.
"If you really are a statue," Del wondered, "and you belong to me, then what's to stop me--"
"My body is a statue," Nylissa explained, "My soul is still human. Lord Larit stole my body against my will and did what he wanted to it, but I still have a right to have it back. But that's not going to be as simple as breaking the spells on us. That would just turn us back into statues permanently."
"Then you can never be free?" Del asked.
"Maybe. But maybe we can. Sometimes, if you can overload a spell while you break it, you can make its effects more complete. I think that if we do that to the second spell, the one that turns my body human, it just might transform me back permanently - and because that would break the spell, I wouldn't be bound to you anymore."
"That sounds good," Del agreed. "But you'd still be trapped in this keep."
"That's my problem to deal with," Nylissa said. "We need--"
"How will you deal with it? By starving?"
"No, by leaving. Now, we need--"
"How can you leave?"
"Through the trap exit at the bottom of the stairwell. Damn, you got it." She grinned ruefully.
"There's an exit at the bottom of the stairwell?"
"Yes. It's more of a teleporter than a real exit, and I don't know where it goes, but I know it works. Lord Larit sometimes tossed unwelcome guests out of it. And I threw a rat through it a few days ago."
"Why didn't you tell me about it before?" Del wondered.
"You never asked. And I wanted to see how long I could keep it a secret, before you forced me to tell." She shrugged. "When you're a slave, you make your fun how you can."
"I see. How many other secrets are you holding out on me?"
"None-- Well, lots, I guess, but only one you'd care about. And I won't forgive you for it if you make me tell that one."
Del could see her body tense. She was almost holding her breath. He was tempted to force her to tell, just because she didn't want him to... but at the same time, her feelings did matter to him, at least a little. "Well... does it involve any harm to me? Or anything of value to me?"
"All right then," he decided. "I'll let you keep your secret for now."
"Thank you." She relaxed. Now he was really curious what it was she was hiding... but it probably didn't matter. And Nylissa was continuing to speak. "Now, to free me, we'll need to find the focus of the spell. It's a roundish gem, about the size of my fist, probably green or yellow--"
"And glowing, but not shining on anything around it?"
"Exactly! You've seen it?"
Del leads Nylissa downstairs to the small room to which he's moved his treasure trove, and searches through a sack. In a moment, he starts pulling out large green gems. Two of them were glowing faintly. He'd found them in the laboratory the first day he searched.
Crouching, she picks up one of the glowing gems, then looks at it closely. "I wonder which one is mine?" she asks. She puts it down, then reaches for the other. "They both look the s--"
As her fingers touch the second gem, she is interrupted by a whining tone and a loud crack, and her skin flashes coppery light for an instant, bright enough to cause Del to look away. When he looks back, Nylissa has been transformed back into a wax statue.
"Nylissa?" He pulls on her arm, and she tips backwards, rolling stiffly onto her back, with her right arm sticking up in the air. He looks at her for a moment, tempted by her sudden helplessness to do something to her... but he can't actually think of anything interesting enough at the moment. So he just pulls out the wand and taps her back to life. The golden glow consumes her for a moment, and when it fades, she stretches out on the floor, her brow wrinkling in thought.
"What happened?" he asks.
"I don't know," she mutters. Then she brightens. "Oh! I guess when I touch the gem that controls the spell on me, it must drop the spell. That would make sense - make it that much harder for me to free myself. Not that there's much chance of that anyway, without you helping me, but Lord Larit wasn't the type to take chances. I guess that means we know which one is mine. Can you get it?"
Del picks it up gingerly. The gem continues to glow in that strange magical way, casting no light at all on his hand, but nothing else happens.
"All right," he says, "so we have the gem. What else do we need?"
Nylissa explained the ritual she thought would be necessary, with Del occasionally asking questions. Before long, he knew what he would have to do to free the girls.
"All right," he says. "I think I understand it all. And you'll be there to help me out if I get lost."
"Well, only for so long. Once the gem touches me, I'll turn back into a statue until you're done."
"Well..." Del demurs, "that's only if it's you I'm doing the ritual on."
Nylissa's eyes widen angrily. "What?"
"Stay there," he orders, a little concerned for his safety. "I was thinking to free Corith first."
"Why?" Nylissa demands. "Remember our deal! You promised to help me get free!"
"Yes, I did! And I will do my best to free you - which does not mean trying a ritual on you that might not even work! If I try it first on Corith, you can tell me if I'm doing anything wrong, and maybe tell me what to do if something doesn't work right. Right? And if it does work, I can free you next." What he doesn't mention is that he doesn't entirely trust Nylissa, free of the compulsion to obey him. At least if Corith is also free, she might intercede on his behalf.
Nylissa grits her teeth for a moment, then sighs. "All right, I guess that makes sense. And you'll do what you want anyway."
"That's right," he agrees, "I will. Don't worry - I intend to hold up my end of our bargain."
"So we'll try your ritual on Corith. But before we do that, I'm going to go play with her one more time while she's still my slave. Pose pretty for me, girl."
Nylissa sighs again, then lifts her face and assumes a sweet smile. She positions her legs together, her left arm at her side with the elbow slightly bent, and her right hand on the back of her neck. Her chest juts out a little to show off her breasts, and her head tips a little to one side.
"Ooh, I like that one," Del says as he taps her forehead with the wand, and with a musical tone and a copper glow, she changes once more into a frozen statue.
Corith, of course, is still standing in the bedroom where she had posed last night as Del fell asleep. Her hand is still thrust beneath her waistband, where Del put it as he left her.
"Hello, Corith," he greets her as he taps her with the wand. As the transforming golden glow envelops her, he repeats "Don't move, don't move, don't move," catching her with his words before she has a chance to do anything. Only the slight change in the texture of her skin, and the new rise and fall of her breasts as she breathes, reveals that anything has changed.
"You can talk," he says, "as long as I'm not touching your face. How are you feeling?"
"Good..." the girl replies, a little breathlessly. "You really hit a sensitive spot, you know... can I please move my fingers, master? Just a little?"
"No, you may not." Del smiles at her pleasant discomfort. He walks around her, letting his finger glide up her collarbone, over her shoulder, and down her shoulderblade. She shivers slightly at his touch, raising tiny goosebumps along her nearly-bare back. Del caresses the soft skin, pressing his body against her back, warming her cool flesh.
"I like that," Corith sighs.
When the goosebumps have subsided, he loosens the ties of her filmy garment, letting it slowly slide off her shoulders and down her body. She gasps as a fold in it brushes past her erect nipples.
"I didn't give you permission to gasp, did I?" he asks
"No, master. I'm sorry. I couldn't help it."
"Maybe I should punish you for that," he muses, leaning close to her, burying his face in her hair to gently nibble her neck. Corith doesn't answer. "What do you think?"
"I-- I don't know. I really couldn't help it. But sometimes I like your punishment."
Del reaches around her with both arms, cupping her full breasts in his hands. He brushes his thumbs across her nipples, not at the same time, and Corith gasps once more... then, without warning, he pinches both her nipples tightly between his thumbs and forefingers.
Corith makes no sound - the sound she would make would not be talking, and so she can no more make it than she could arch her back or close her eyes or clench her fists, all things Del knows she would do if she could. He releases the pressure, cupping her breasts lightly again.
"That hurt," Corith says, "but it hurt so good... Please, will you make love to me?"
Del does not answer. He lowers his hands, sweeping them down the girl's smooth midriff and stomach, then coming around her hips. He deliberately bumps against her arm, so that her fingers move inside her sex.
"Ahhh!" she gasps again. "Master, please..."
He puts his fingers inside the waistband of her skirt, and lowers it down her thighs, exposing the girl's hand and sex. She is now naked, except for the pool of fabric around her feet and shoes. He strokes gently up the inside of her thighs, toward her hand, then nudges her hand around lightly. Again, Corith does not react, until he pulls her wrist away from her body. Her two fingers are slick with her own juices. He pushes her hand out to the side.
"Please, don't leave me--"
He interrupts her by reaching up to caress her cheek, and her voice stops the instant his finger touches her. Holding her close by the small of the back with his left hand, his right gently explores her lovely features. He traces the arch of her eyebrow, the line of her nose, the smooth skin beneath her eye, the curve of her jaw, and the roundness of her open lips. He leans down and kisses her lightly on the forehead, again on the tip of her nose, and finally deeply on the mouth. Even her tongue does not move inside her mouth as he kisses her.
"You can move," he says.
Instantly, her arms wrap around him and she pulls him against her body, pressing her mouth to his, and they kiss once more with passion shared on both sides. Del does not even notice she has kicked off her shoes and stepped out of her dress until she begins to draw him toward the bed.
"Don't move," he orders, and Corith freezes, her arms around him, smiling coyly into his eyes. He disengages himself from her helpless grasp, and brushes his finger up the middle of her stomach and between her breasts.
"You can move."
Corith's smile widens, enticingly, as she flows against him once more, writhing against him. She reaches for the clasp of his pants.
This time Del takes her left hand in his own, and raises it to his face. He straightens her fingers, and caresses his own face with her hand. Her fingers are soft and cool, and feel very nice against the sensitive skin of his cheek.
"You can move."
Corith keeps her hand there, though her smile fades a little. "Well, if you won't let me undress you, will you undress yourself? You are going to make lo--"
She is looking a little petulant now, which Del doesn't like. He steps away from her, wondering how to penalize her for that. Ah... he returns, and circles around behind her once more. He reaches under her shoulders, then carefully, lightly, brushes his index fingertips down her sides from armpit to waist, then back up. Even his order is not enough to completey suppress her shudder - although she is completely helpless to stop him from tickling her.
He waits a few minutes before saying, "You can move."
"Aaahhhh! You--!" She pulls her arms against her sides, rubbing herself madly. "You get such pleasure out of torturing me!"
"And you love it," Del adds.
"Well... yes, I--"
Now he's happy with her expression, a rueful smile, with her lips slightly open. Her arms are out to the sides in a slight shrug. Perfect.
He was planning to lay her on the bed, but changes his mind at the last minute, and simply lowers her down onto the floor like a plank of wood. She lies motionless, staring up at the ceiling. Del stands over her, his legs spread astride her body, and slowly undresses. A small drop of precum falls from him and splatters on the top of her left breast.
"Now," Del commands as he lowers himself on top of her. "When I touch you between your legs, you can move again. But keep your arms frozen, and your face and neck, and don't say anything that isn't sexy. And stay on the floor. Okay?"
"Yes, master," the girl replies emotionlessly.
He strokes the girl's frozen body a little more... but he is ready to go. Without further delay, he adjusts himself to enter her - and she can move, spreading her legs wide to receive him.
"Oh, master, yes... I love you... please... ahh!"
When he is finished with her, he hunts around for the wand with his hand. Finding it within reach, he takes it and taps Corith once with the end of it. Silvery light ripples across her body, and she stops moving.
When he's ready, he gets up and gets dressed. He orders Corith to do likewise, and to carry his baggage down to the room where his loot, and Nylissa, await. He must pack up before he can leave.
As usual, Del has collected far more loot than he can possibly carry. Some items there's no question about; he will definitely carry them back with him. And others are clearly not worth much - or will clearly break before he can get them back to civilization. But the range in between... it's always hard choosing what to keep and what to reluctantly leave behind.
At his order, Corith posed just like Nylissa, but reversed, so that after tapping her again with the wand, he has a pair of lovely mirror-image woman statues. He noticed that the pretty pose looks even better on Corith than for Nylissa - not surpising, as Corith is the prettier of the girls.
Eventually, he decides he is finished. He has emptied his packs of everything but the most valuable, salable, portable treasures - he can buy anything else he needs with the profits he'll make. He eats his last stale roll, looking back and forth between the two immobilized women. They must both be wondering whether he intends to let them move again before he leaves - for they both know, as he does, that he could simply leave them as they are now, and depart. Corith would be longing to say good-bye, to kiss him, to wish him luck. And Nylissa would be fuming that he wasn't going to free her after all. And they both know they are helpless to seek what they want, unless he decides to allow them to.
Of course, he knows perfectly well that he does intend to let them move again, and in fact to try to free them. He simply enjoys imagining their feelings of helplessness. But finally, he can stall no longer.
"All right, girls. It's time. I'm going to keep my word." And he ostentatiously taps Corith, then Nylissa, with the wand, setting off a burst of sound and light.
"I thought you were just going to leave us!" Corith cries.
"You wanted us to think that, didn't you," Nylissa adds wisely. "Well, let's do it."
"Do what?" Corith asks.
"Nylissa may have found a way to set you two free."
"You did? Oh, I'm so happy for you!"
"Don't be so happy for me," Nylissa snaps. "He's freeing you first."
Corith turns back to him. "Oh, no - please, free Nylissa first! I can wait a little longer, really I can. But Nylissa--"
"Hush, Corith," Del says, silencing her. "I've made my decision. Now come with me, both of you."
He leads the girls downstairs to the kitchen, carrying the wand and the gem. In the kitchen, he has Nylissa build a large, hot fire.
"This should be hot enough, I think," she says. "At least, I don't think it can get any hotter."
"All right." Using a long pair of tongs, Del places the gem in the center of the flame. According to Nylissa, the fire's energy will enter the gem, strengthening the spell when it is discharged. Del stands close behind Nylissa, running his hands up and down her arms, as they wait.
Corith taps her lips, and Del grants her permission to speak.
"I assume you're intensifying the spell in the gem," she says. "Are you trying to overload it?"
Del looks down at Nylissa and nods. "Yes," Nylissa answers. She gives a brief explanation of the connection between the gems, the women, and Del.
"So you'll want to strengthen its connection to me, then break it," Corith concludes, once Nylissa has explained enough.
"Exactly," Nylissa agrees.
"All right." Corith lifts herself backwards onto the long stone countertop. She swings her legs up, leans back, and lifts her skirts. "You should touch the gem between my legs," she says. "They're a woman's most magically sensitive area. It'll intensify the connection."
Del grins. Nylissa just looks surprised. "I didn't know that," she says. Corith shrugs.
At first, the gem's magical glow was drowned out by the brilliance of the flames, but as time passes, the gem brightens.
"How long do we wait?" Del asks.
"Until it stops getting brighter, I think," Nylissa says.
Corith agrees. "If we wait too long, it could burn out the gem, but that usually takes a long time. And it'll stop getting brighter before that."
They wait a little longer, until, as the Romai women had predicted, the glow stopped intensifying. Then Del uses the tongs to pluck the gem out of the flame and plunge it into a pot of water. The water sizzles, letting loose a cloud of steam which quickly subsides. He pulls the gem out of the water, still glowing brightly.
"Is it cool enough?" he asks Nylissa.
She reaches out gingerly and taps the gem with her finger, then takes it from between the tongs. "Warm, but not hot. It's ready."
Del puts down the tongs and takes the gem from her, then walks over to Corith. She opens her legs, revealing her "most magically sensitive area."
"I love you, Del," she says, just before the gem touches her damp cunt.
There is a loud crack and a whining tone. Corith's skin emits a bright ruddy flash. Del has looked away just before touching her to avoid being blinded, but he can't help dropping the gem. When he looks back, the girl is once more a frozen statue.
Nylissa hands him a hammer. Del aims carefully--
"I just thought - break it in her hair! That will give it some more connection to her."
Del taps the gem cautiously with his finger, half expecting it to be hot. But it isn't, so he quickly picks it up and circles the counter to Corith's head. He pulls some of her hair out from beneath her head, places the gem within it, and brings the hammer down on the gem as hard as he can.
The impact looses a blinding white flash and a low boom, almost drowning out the tinkling sound of the actual breaking of the gem.
"Corith? Are you okay?" It is Nylissa who has the presence of mind to call out, but there is no response. Del, still blinded from the flash, reaches out to touch the girl. He finds her face... which is still stiff, inanimate.
"She's still a statue," he says. As his vision returns, he can see sparkling bits of gem in her hair - but no sign of life.
"Touch her with the wand," Nylissa suggests. He does so - to no effect. No glow, no sound... and no living girl.
He shakes his head. "It didn't work."
"It didn't work," Nylissa repeats, her head bowed.
"Do you know why?"
Nylissa sags back against a cabinet. "No," she says. "I must have misunderstood something, or missed something... I'm going to be here for... for the rest of time. A statue, or a slave... No!!"
Suddenly, she bursts into motion, racing past Del to the stairs. He calls after her, following. "Nylissa!" He thinks of ordering her back, but doesn't quite want to. "Where are you going?"
"To the trap exit!" Nylissa calls back. "I'm not going to stay here forever!"
"But what if you turn back to a statue when you leave?"
"At least someone might find me, find some way to turn me back! No one else will ever find me here-- Chalayit!"
The sound of her footsteps stops. Del keeps after her, and finds her at the bottom of the long stairwell. She is standing in the square inside the staircase.
"It only passes living things," she moans. "But the spell doesn't really make me human. I can't even leave and take my chances."
Del says nothing. What is there to say? He can't help her. He'll have to change her back to a statue before he leaves, and leave the wand nearby in case some other traveller finds her someday. Or perhaps Del's ring will bring him back here, although he doubts it. And he won't be able to help her then either, except to give her a few days of mobility.
And Corith... she is even worse off than Nylissa. If the wand no longer turns her human, what chance is there that she will ever move again? She could even be dead - but Del doubts it. Lord Larit's spells weren't designed to kill - just to enslave.
Nylissa looks up, her eyes wet. "Let's go back upstairs," she says. "I want to be near Corith when... when you change me back."
The two lovely statues stand on the stairwell, half-facing each other - just enough that they can see each other, when there is light. The younger, prettier one stands relaxed, with her hands at her sides and a hopeful expression on her face. The older, taller one is tense, yet composed, facing her future with resignation.
"I'm sorry," Del says to them, sincerely. "I wish I could have freed you. You know I tried. I know I took advantage of you both while I was here, and you have every right to resent me for that... but I did try. I hope someone else finds you someday... and for your sake, I hope he's a better man than I am."
He kisses Corith's rigid lips tenderly, and adjusts her hair just a bit. Then he places his hand briefly on Nylissa's cheek, before turning and walking away.
Upstairs, he shoulders his bags of loot, carefully adjusting their weight to give him as much flexibility as possible. He has no way of knowing where he will reappear when he activates his ring - he may need to run, or fight, or hide, or none of those. He wears his heavy wool cloak, in case it is cold, and carries his lantern lit, in case it is dark.
It doesn't matter, of course - wherever he ends up, he will face it, or die, and either way is all right with him. 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.
When he is as ready as he knows how to be, he clenches his fist around the ring, and wills it to transport him.
Magic flares, and the young man vanishes. The light fades behind him.
As the hours pass, the other magical lights in the keep flicker out.
The two Romai women stand helpless in the dark.