Red (0)

My fist pulverizes thin air as my quarry ducks away. “Wide open”, she comments as both her fists meet my stomach, and I’m sent flying. Just another sparring session in the late afternoon, like always. Propping my tired, sweaty, body off the ground, I stare daggers at my opponent. Showing no signs of exhaustion, the dwarf motions for me to come at her again. I bellow my frustration as I run at her. I’m going to grab her by the head, dunk her- and she slips under my arm, tripping up my left leg, and I land on my face again.

“Again.” rang Nika’s calm voice as she returns to the center of the ring. My tongue nurses the insides of my wounded cheek, and I spit blood on the grass. She really ought to taste her own medicine. Fueled by a growing desire to humiliate the dwarf, I pick myself up, circling her warily. Neutral stance, arms crossed behind her back, she exudes an aura of quiet lethality as her eyes track my every move. If I am going to beat her, it has to be by other means.

I glance past her left, and my eyes wide open in a stare of disbelief. Cupping a hand to my mouth, I wave excitedly, yelling: “ALDOR! YOU’RE BACK!” Nika flinches, turning to face the person who at long last, had returned to our party.

But that’s all the distraction I need as I get in her face, my coiled-up right leg ready with a dose of her own medicine. “Nice one, princess!” rang Aerin’s cheer from the sidelines. But upon the first word leaving Aerin’s mouth, Nika whips around and blocks, her arms taking the brunt of my kick as I send her flying. Ow. A dull ache passes through my right ankle, my new weakness ever since that last assignment. Annoyed, I make a mental note to strangle that elf later as I enter a defensive stance. “Nice acting”, Nika comments wryly as she picks herself up, dusting herself and cracking her knuckles. “I recall you teaching us to play to our strengths,” I reply cheekily, shifting my weight to the left. “Indeed,” she replies, a faint smile crossing her face.

The dwarf closes the gap faster than a viper, throwing me off balance in a whirlwind of high kicks. My stance broken, I barely manage to defend myself as she goes for my legs. Not this time, stupid dwarf! I leap back as Nika misses a kick aimed at my right ankle, and follow up with two backflips to purchase myself some space. Ow. Ever the relentless fighter, my master does not wait to get in my face again. Battered and working with one bad leg, I slowly lose ground blocking her attacks from landing near my joints. Every strike of hers went for my pressure points, an elegant martial art meant to end fights in three moves after a successful first hit. I take a kick to the blade of my arm, and push Nika off, both of us backflipping away from each other. Ow. Nika had the classic dwarven advantage of being really, freaking hard to hit; whereas I had the size and strength advantage, but I wasn’t sure how to abuse it. My thoughts interrupted by her leaping at me again, I twist my hips as if to go for a side-kick, and Nika’s arms go up on reflex. I seize the opportunity and cartwheel away, having bought some room to concoct a strategy. Ow. A sharp pain courses through me from the succession of acrobatics, and that was all my opponent needed.

Nika leaps at me again, arms spread wide. An opening! I mentally scream as my right fist lashes out at her left shoulder, aiming for her brachial plexus. Nerve bundle. Non-lethal pressure point. Direct strike results in numbness of arm and loss of balance. Hard to execute mid-combat, decent as an opening strike. No better way to humiliate her than me pulling off a strike that. And I find myself eating those words as Nika clamps herself on my forearm and strikes twice near my elbow. I panic for a split second as my arm ignores all attempts to shake the dwarf off, only to snap back to reality as I spot her foot gunning for my exposed jaw. I swing my head away at the last second, but her leg finds my brachial plexus instead as she backflips away. Thrown off-balance and quite literally dis-armed, I retaliate with a left-kick that misses her by ten miles as she knocks my weaker foot from under me. I crumple unceremoniously, my body refusing to put up with all abuse. I croak painfully, failing to prop myself up.

“Alright, I yield!”

“Well, that’s enough for today, Sasha”, Nika offers as she approaches me, a gentle smile on her weathered face. I relent, and she props me on my feet. “That’s round twenty-two for you today, a new record if I do say so myself,” Nika commented. “That one fail doesn’t count, right?” I whisper back. “No, but don’t let it get to your head,” she comments nonchalantly. I pump my left arm in celebration, the numbness in my right side fading away as Nika helps me toward an equally battered Aerin. A small campfire warms the spring evening, carrying with it the sweet aroma of honey tea, courtesy of the elf. Taking a seat across her students, Nika proceeds with our daily de-briefing. “Arr-rite ladies, not bad for today. Aerin, work on the flow and accuracy of your strikes, your body never fails where weapons do. Be a darling and show the training dummy some love.” I snicker at the thought of that. “Sasha, keep calm in fights, quick thinking works best when your impulses have been tempered. Else, you’re full of openings like that. Meditate some, and patch up that right ankle. Herbs are all around camp if you’re willing to look.”

“Ugh, can’t you just heal it like any other sensible person?” I complain.
“Not a human,” Nika responds, pouring herself a cup of tea.
“Can you like, not be such a princess?” Aerin comments playfully. I roll my eyes. “Can you like, not be such a spoilsport?” I retort, socking her in the right shoulder.
“Don’t matter if the paladin’s a jerk, it’s an opportunity for you to practice medicine.” replies Nika.
“In that case, you’re as bad as Anslem if not worse-” I add, attempting to guilt-trip my master.
“Denied.” Blowing her tea, Nika doesn’t even hesitate to make me work for it.
“Permission to use Sasha as our new training dummy!” Aerin exclaims suggestively. A wry smile crosses my face as I pull her oh-so-long right ear in response, and she jabs my left cheek in retaliation.
“Granted. Have at it, girls.” rang Nika’s bemused voice over her cup of tea.

“Let’s go, princess. Right here, right now”, Aerin growls. “Oh you’re on, pointy ears”, I retort playfully as Aerin tackles me. My beaten-up body absorbs the impact head-on as we fall onto the grass. Far too tired to actually fight, we flail around for a bit before giving up. Failing to get Aerin off me, I croak sarcastically from underneath the elf: “wayyy to go, dumbass.” “At least I’m not the one underneath, princess.” Aerin replies smugly as she rolls off me. “Says the one who got beaten up good”, croaking as I nudge the elf. She faces me, and for a second we lock eyes. The gleam in her eyes speaks a hundred words; for that which she excelled at hiding was the same need that I lived with. I flash a knowing smile at Aerin as I prop myself up. “That ended way faster than I thought,” rang Nika’s voice as she pours herself another cup. Aerin flashes me an immodest look, and I wink playfully in response, asking: “who were your bets on this time?” “I definitely come out on top” says Aerin, a hungry look on her face. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to break you real bad-” I shoot back. Flashing her brightest smile, Nika interrupts flatly: “you’re both equally bad.” Typical of our master, but it was better than ‘absolute trash’, I think.

Winter making a graceful exit meant warmer evenings with lesser snow around for fresh water, but it more fun times around campfires. Or far more amorous escapades if he was actually around. Speaking of which, it was the perfect time to drag that fourth member of ours all the way back from Ravenfall. If only-

“I’m going to Ravenfall”, I blurted. “Fix that right foot of yours, then think about it,” Nika replies. Aerin stays silent, her gaze trained on me. “I’m leaving in three days whether you like it or not”, I state. “I won’t stop you from going, Sasha, but what if you don’t like what you find there?” Nika reasons flatly. Eager to prove a point, I argue: “there’s no way it’s worse than liches* like Greeth and Shadowmantle. Even then-“

“I’m aware of that, Sasha. But are you doing this because you want to fulfill the contract or is it because you miss him?” Nika’s words cut deep, for all present knew the reason why our fourth member wasn’t with us right now. It hits me hard, and I find myself sifting through childhood memories spent with Aldor, and regret dims the fire inside of me.

“We all could have gone together back then, the contract would have been a piece of cake, and you know it.” I spat, frustration masking the emptiness I felt inside. Aerin places a hand on my shoulder, a sympathetic look on her face. “Come back in two hours for dinner, girls”, Nika says, brushing the matter aside as she heads for her tent. I fall back onto the grass, a despondent sigh escaping my lips.

What a drag.

Olive-green eyes peek out from under a heap of wavy auburn hair, her fatigued gaze studying the depths of my heart. She had a beautiful smile on her, the kind that melted people’s hearts, like she could hold me tight and reassure me that everything was alright. A tear creeps from the corner of her eyes as I feel a surge of fatigue well up inside me. Knowing how I feel, she reaches out to comfort me, only for the image to distort as I proceed to wash my face. I let out a long sigh, letting the distortion wash her away.

“What’re you staring at?” came a silken voice from behind. A light inside me flicks on, filling my body with warmth as I turn to face my visitor. “Oh, you know, just me, myself, and I,” I say, wrapping a towel around my body. “Looks like I’ve crashed quite the party,” Aerin sang. “No, no no. On the contrary, we’d like you to join us,” I quipped, channeling a torrent of water and knocking the elf into the river. I celebrate my cheap victory, only to be caught off guard as Aerin yanks me into the water, and we laugh.

“Says the mage who threw me in,” she retorts, closing in on all fours.
“Thought you were off lovin’ the training dummy,” I ask playfully.
“Change of plans, remember? You’re my new training dummy.” Aerin replies, a hankering sheen in her eye. I stare her back, the abyss in me wanting nothing more than to have its appetite sated right here and now, and she mirrors it.
“Who in their right mind takes baths with training dummies?” I offer sultrily.
“Who in their right mind stares at their own reflection for that long?” She asks, caressing my right cheek, her touch both tender and teasing, my skin tingling poignantly under her every move.
“Who in their right mind misses on a static target?” She draws closer, her face inches from mine. I feel the hush of her heightened breathing on my skin, the anticipation in her voice, the lust in her eyes as I savor every inch of her pristine, elven visage.
“Oh, princess, you’re full of openings.” her eyes narrow, her hands on my waist.
“Why don’t you come closer and find out?” I purred, spreading my legs.

Here we go.

Aerin pushes me onto the shore, grinding my belly as she elf-handled me. I reach for the back of her neck, my fingers twisting her silken, silver hair into a mess as she draws me in. We lock our gaze, drinking in the beauty of the other as basked in relief of having our needs met. Starved for far too long, our mouths collide in a raw, unbridled frenzy of tonguing, sucking, loving; and I enjoy every wet, hot second of it. My hands glide across her back as she played with my hair, the fire inside me growing brighter with every caress. With naught but carnal desire driving us, our sexual urges were liberated through the euphoria of touch, freed to express itself as we pleased. A flood of pleasure emanates from between my legs and my body quivers wildly, a loud moan escaping my lips as Aerin’s fingers worked their magic inside me. Yes! I wrap my arms around her neck as she hustles, winding me up with slow, yet gratifyingly deliberate strokes. The fire consumes me, my world being pleasured to high heaven for such was the miracle of touch. Yes! She smirks, her fingers stopping the flow of pleasure for an eternity too long. Stunned, I cry out, only to be shown who was in charge as Aerin cusps my neck, an esurient gleam in her eyes. The elf seals my lips with hers, twining my tongue with hers as she she leaves me hanging. My thighs tingle as she glides with her wet hand over them, and I find myself wanting MORE. Aerin kidnaps my breath as she breaks away, and I gasp for air; only to be thrown back into purgatory as her hand barges into me, fueled by a newfound vengeance. YES! Guided by a burst of divine hedonism, her hands labored hard and fast, fixated on vibrating me out of existence. YES! The inferno inside brightens, my back arches, my entire body tightens up as I find myself being clenched harder than ever. YES! My vision blurs as I caress the one pleasuring me to high heaven; his amber eyes, his roguish smile, his boyish charm-

FUCK YES! AL! FUCK ME HARDER” I howl unabashedly. Ignoring my screams, Aerin grits her teeth as she goes into overdrive, putting a merciful end to me. I yelp as my floodgates erupt. Convulsions wrack my frame as I surrender myself to the great undoing that engulfs my form. Ecstasy alchemizes into peace as my body quivers uncontrollably, every passing shudder filling me with incrementing waves of relief and joy. Aerin guffaws hysterically, burying her head in my breasts as I lazily prop myself up. Heaving with adrenaline, a priceless expression adorns her features as she looks me in the eye. “Damn, Sasha, you did it again!”

A surge of energy floods my body as the realization hits me. She had a point, one that I was far too embarrassed to admit. Flustered more than ever, I pin her down and proceed to exact my revenge.

We sit by the riverbank, wrapped in naught but our cloaks. Aerin rests her head on my left shoulder, exhausted from my brand of ‘torment’. “You’re. The. Best. Sister. Ever.” she whispers. Turns out, elves and humans weren’t that different, though I wonder if other elves took as long as she did to climax.

“You’re forgetting the ‘with benefits‘ part” I quipped.
“That’s the best part”, she answers innocently.
“Bet you wish I was your actual sister”, I say, running my hand through her silver locks.
“Mhm, sometimes”, Aerin purrs. With her ridiculously strict upbringing, I can’t imagine why.
“We’d be the talk of the north indeed”, I bantered. She nods sluggishly, clearly hypnotized by the sunset unfolding before us. Having seen the best and worst in each other, I trusted the elf with my life, even more so since Aldor left for Ravenfall. Sometimes I just felt grateful for being alive, and this was one of those moments.

“Heck, we’d be quite the scandal”, I continued.
“And I’ll enjoy every second of it,” she answers lazily.
“Even if aggravates your House?” I playfully offered.
“Wouldn’t trade it for the world.” she says, snuggling up to me.
“Same. Wouldn’t know what to do with myself otherwise.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she whispers, putting a hand on my leg.
We sit in silence, watching the sun disappear under the trees.
“Do you think Aldor’s coming back?” I wondered.
“Hope so. No one pacifies you better than he does.”
“What about you? If he does come back-” I asked.
“Don’t worry about me, princess. I’m not in the mood to settle down just yet”, Aerin replies as I stick a flower in her hair. Knowing her, that much was true.
“But someday, I hope to find a love just like yours and Al’s”, she continues.
“Better hope that day comes soon”, I add.
“Hear, hear”, she whispers, playing with my hair.

“When I’m healed up, I’m going to Ravenfall. And I’d love it if you joined me.” I offer. “You’re not going to wait anymore?” Aerin asks. “I’m sick of waiting, sick of this stupid training, sick of doing nothing. And I’m done being terrified that he’s in serious trouble.” I pitched. The elf nods in response. “Between us, we’ve beaten Strahd*, nightwalkers**, and dragons before. I don’t see liches being any worse”, I reasoned. With her by my side and our combat experience, there was no way that could go wrong.

“What about Nika?”
“Forget Nika, we don’t need her”, I countered.
“I’m alright with that. But on one condition-” Aerin whispers, holding up a finger to my left cheek.
“Do tell”, I ask, all perked up from a good rest.
“We visit my home when this is all over.”
Rescuing Aldor and visiting Aerin’s home? Hell yeah. If nothing else, it sounded more exciting than our boring routine.


*Strahd was the vampire overlord of Barovia, a land formerly condemned to a demiplane by the Dark Powers.
**Liches and nightwalkers are high-level undead monsters that exist in the Dungeons and Dragons world.

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