by Ocelot Phayze

Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Fiction, .

Desc: Sex Story: A fantasy story about a charlatan in a magical society who, though the use of fast-talking and deception, finds himself strewn about from one misadventure to the next. NOTE: This story is incomplete and will likely never be finished.

Being An Erotic Tale of Majik In An Untolde and Unknown Number of Parts Composed By A Coward Preferring To Hide Behind the Pseudonym "Ocelot Phayze"

Editor's Note

It's been nearly three years since I originally composed the following story. Since then, I've revived another story on the same premise for a different purpose, tried the same premise from different directions in other, unpublished stories, and haven't ever returned back to this one. There was something about this story that I felt was somehow less fluid than I like my erotic stories to be. It's quite verbose, even for me. There's no sexual contact until the third chapter and, from there, the sexual interaction is rather varied and sporatic. (Note, of course, that this posted version only contains up to chapter three - the rest of the story is nowhere but the baffling confines of my own psyche.)

So I submit this story in the hopes that there will be some individuals out there who will enjoy it, but with the knowledge that it is unlikely to ever be finished. If you need a completion to the story in order to feel whole again, freely append a safe retreat from the inn at the end of chapter three; it's not how the tale was intended to end, but for now it should suffice. Perhaps my own insecurities are unfounded, and a torrent of praise will assail me, enamoured fans who beg and cry out for the completion of the tale... but I find it unlikely. Until then, please enjoy what of it you can and ignore what you can't.

-- Ocelot Phayze

Chapter One: In Which The Story Begins

I've come to the realization that one of the necessities of extended trips over land or otherwise is the capacity to ignore your bladder. Someone, somewhere, sometime in my past must have warned me about coaches, but I either don't remember exactly what they said or, more likely, I never bothered to listen in the first place. They bounce. Rather, they don't bounce so much as they lurch; they don't bounce so much as they twist, jerking and slamming into every hole in the road they can find; the driver searches in his gleeful sadism for the largest, deepest holes and then guides the horses into them without so much as a single thought of the welfare of the party within and our poor, bursting bladders.

Then again, I really couldn't say anything for certain about my traveling companions. For all I knew, they had grown accustomed to riding in the accursed things from birth. They certainly seemed to assume that riding around in the beastly things was the preferred mode of travel. I'll be the first one to admit that horses are disgusting behemoths of bad-temper and cruelty, but to say that a coach is comfortable is preposterous. It would be like saying that losing an arm beneath the saw of a Ysil warrior is better than losing an arm beneath the hammer of a Dwarf -- it may be true that it's better, but that doesn't mean that it's necessarily good.

Judging by the expression on his face, Baron Torilis was perfectly comfortable. On the other hand, the expression on his face, to my experience, had never changed. His face was chiseled from stone. In fact, the artist must have slipped once or twice; the Baron's face a mismatched collection of pockmarks and degradations that paid full homage to the beautifying wonders of inbreeding. From the looks of things, the Baron had at least made some futile effort to cover his visage, a dark brown beard covering the majority of his lower face -- or perhaps he'd just decided that shaving wasn't worth all the effort. He was on the dumpy side, with far too many beers and good meals in his gullet during what he fondly would refer to as 'the better days, ' and he seemed to move as little as he could.

His wife, the Baroness Torilis, had supposedly been a commoner before he'd taken her as his wife, and I, for one, believed the rumors. I've run into Kings and Queens, Dukes and Duchesses, Earls, Regents, Princes, almost the entire cadre of nobility, and I've found that the majority of them are about as appealing to the eye as a Dwarven whorehouse. Not that I've ever been to one. Whatever the case, the Baroness possessed a physical beauty about her which was rather surprising in human nobility, something that made me suspect she had a bit of Elf or T'ildrian in her. Her skin was as fair as spider's silk in the same way that her husband's was as fair as a Goblin's. The Baroness' cheeks were slightly thin and gaunt, her nose a bit hooked and eagle-like. Her eyes, usually framed with wisps of her raven hair, were on the thinner side, free of bags or marring, with a very lovely shade of blue sparking within them. All in all, the Baroness seemed almost unreal, a figment of reality, or one of the magical folk. I swear she had T'ildrian in her.

Both the Baron and his wife rode on the opposite side of the coach from me since, I imagine, it's in their best interests to stay as far away from commoners as they can, even when one is of high enough esteem to ride along in their coach with them. Ironically, the Baron had no problems whatsoever with his daughter sitting next to me. Perhaps I was being a bit oversensitive, perhaps the Baron simply wanted to be seated next to his wife. Perhaps I was being a bit jealous or envious.

Not that his daughter wasn't an attractive girl. She was clearly illegitimate to everyone who laid eyes on her, and it surprised me that the Baron hadn't done something about the girl already. Most human nobles are a bit overprotective about their varying titles and refuse to let them have any chance of passing on to offspring not made of their own loins. Perhaps this was acceptable because the child was a woman, I'm not sure. She couldn't have been older than sixteen, however, unmarried and virginal, and quite demure. The poor thing was uncomfortable next to me the entire trip, keeping her crimson tresses turned towards the Baron, her eyes on the ground between her richly decorated feet.

Or perhaps she too was trying to control her bladder.

See, the problem is that you can't just stop a coach to hop out and find a tree and take care of things. Not with a Baron, a Baroness, and the daughter. (I resisted the urge to call her a Baronet. I'd made that little mistake once to the wrong man. There's an embarrassment. If you don't know what a Baronet is, find out before using it in conversation. Trust me on this.) Not with two or three knights outside the door and a mercenary or two for added protection. Oh, no, you don't lean your head out the window and call out, 'Hey! Pull it over! Had a little too much wine and it's done with me now!' Not a chance in any of the Hells. If you don't understand why, go find yourself a mercenary. Ask him how he feels about wasting time every half-hour so that the little merry-maker in the coach who isn't even paying your bill wants to hop out and take a slosh in the grass.

I noticed, perhaps a bit belatedly, that the Baroness was waving a slim, pale hand before my dazed eyes.

"Silvertongue?" She intoned in a smooth voice, one that sparkled and shone, and one that you should know never to trust implicitly. Realizing that I'd finally caught sight of her motions, she smiled a tight-lipped smirk, "You seem to be thinking rather hard, Silvertongue. Composing a new ballad, perhaps?"

A little explanation is in order, I think.

My name is Lucan. Lucan Matson. My father's name was Matt, and-- never mind. It's pretty self-explanatory. So why is this vision of perfection calling me Silvertongue?

It's very difficult to survive in the world when you're fairly incompetent at the majority of trades available to the working class. I'm far too old to start up an apprenticeship with anyone for any reason, but I'm old enough -- or at least wise enough -- to know that it's pure idiocy to attempt anything like reckless 'adventuring, ' as they call it. Suicide is what it is, of course, since eventually you jump a little too slowly, duck a little too late, or just happen to miss that one parry. Having a total lack of competency in anything but the least noble of weapons helps discourage thoughts of adventure, of course.

I'm built with a rather slight frame. It's not my fault, it really isn't. My grandfather was a sinewy man, having made his trade as one of the more successful merchants on the Coast of Chirsin. In his case, being of a less than bulky build was a boon rather than a bane. After all, who really trusts a fat merchant? It's common knowledge that any fat merchant has gained his wealth via unpleasant means, either though misdirection, or pure, un-distilled lies designed to unbalance the recipient. My father was an assassin. He was a rather sinewy man as well, consistently preaching out to me the benefits of a smaller frame and a slimmer, more compact rack of muscles to support you. So, clearly, my size is just a matter of selective evolution. The gods had it out for me since I was born.

An unsatisfied client killed my grandfather. A satisfied one killed my father. Consequently, I'm a coward. It works very well for me so don't insult the profession. I really didn't have too many options left to explore.

Unfortunately, being a coward doesn't generally pay very well.

So, passing through Torilis after a rather exhilarating run from an angry troll in Xento, I happened upon a call for bards. Apparently, the Baron and Baroness were on their way to the High City of Falion and they wanted a little entertainment to show off when they'd gotten there.

Silvertongue was the first bard to show up at their doors and he was the only bard to be hired, almost immediately. I'm not sure if I picked up my ability to lie from my grandfather or if it's a trait inborn instantly into the most robust of cowards, but I rather excel at it.

The problem, of course, is that I really can't play an instrument very well.

"Ah... of course, Baroness." The smile I gave her was quite sincere, I'm certain, though the motivation behind it was weaker than Elvish beer.

"Good!" She smiled more, her lips filling out, the rouge in them returning. "I would certainly be pleased to hear whatever you are working on, good Sir."

I shook my head, forcing the coy grin on my lips not to reveal the queasiness in my gut. "Ah, dear Baroness, it does the beauty of the song an injustice to permit it to be heard in its raw, imperfect stages."

I wasn't sure how long I was going to be able to keep the lies up, however. On the bright side, the clenching of uncertainty and the panic inside me managed to give me much more control over my bladder.

The Baroness turned her pleased smile onto the young girl sitting next to me, "Do you hear, Sylphi? Our own ballad, sung by the great Silvertongue!"

In response, the beautiful shock of red hair next to me bobbed a little, her sparkling jade eyes lifting up just enough to look at her mother.

That was the complete problem. Silvertongue was a real bard-- A rather famous bard-- An incredibly famous bard. I'd taken just a touch more of the food than I was prepared to eat, this time, and was finding it forced down my throat rather unpleasantly. There was absolutely no way I was going to be able to play well enough to simulate the beauty and grace of the notes played by Silvertongue.

"Wouldn't you like to hear some of it, Sylphi?" The Baroness asked.

The young Lady nodded once again, her soft red lips never opening. I was beginning to suspect that the Baroness' daughter was mute.

The Baroness turned her eyes back onto me, riveting me to the spot. "Come, now, Silvertongue. Just a snippet? I am certain that you must have at least a portion complete by now."

Panic started to shiver through me. The Baroness knew! "Baroness Torilis, please, you must let an artist have a bit of time to form these things."

The Baron spoke up as well, and I knew I was getting into dangerous territory, "Yes, man. Play us something. The monotony of this trip is beginning to become aggravating." All I needed was an irate Baron.

Fortunately, the twin gods of Luck seemed to be fighting for me.

The coach lurched a bit forward and then stopped dead solid. This had the added effect of jumbling things around inside the coach, the most relevant of which, initially at first, being my bladder, the poor sack shaking much more than I'd have preferred. A secondary, and much more dangerous effect, was that of the Baroness falling up against me.

Another man might be more than pleased to have a beautiful woman careening towards him in close quarters. I, on the other hand, have found that it very often leads to results that I don't particularly want to encourage... especially considering the fact that her husband and daughter were together with me in those close quarters. (Of course, quite a few men would be perfectly content to invite them into the embrace as well.) I've learned that this is bad. Very bad. Husbands, I've realized, are husbands because they expect their wives to be their wives and to perform wifely duties on them and them alone. They get a little upset when they're not.

Baron Torilis, however, was already staring out through the coach windows to try determining the problem, something which was to my advantage. The Baroness detached herself from me, moving quickly to the window on the opposite side of the coach as her husband.

And I? I just slumped back against the coach. If there was a problem, I really didn't want to see it. I was just along for the money and the chance to get to a new location. I did, however, tense myself to run if there was any possibility of it. See what I mean? Coward. And alive. They tend to go together.

"Bandits!" The Baron hissed.

The Baroness shifted her lithe form next to her husband, trying to peer through the window as well. She said, quite evenly, "Our men will handle them."

I heard a soft whimper pass through the small cabin of the coach and was rather certain the sound was coming from my own lips. As it turned out, it was Sylphi, the Baroness' daughter. She'd pulled her arms towards her, wrapping them together and holding them tightly over her chest. Her head was buried down into the comforting shelter of her arms, and I felt instantly protective for the poor girl. It's strange the way idiot males work sometimes. I imagine it's the same drive that women get for people in distress, save that then it's labeled a mother's instinct. Strange that women are supposed to care about everyone and men aren't supposed to care about anyone. Strange. Tsk.

So I, of course, had to stay in the coach.

The calls and cries from outside the coach doors and walls were reaching to us by then. I'm not sure how we hadn't heard them earlier... perhaps we had and I'd been too occupied with the Baroness and her daughter to notice them.

Cries of war are rather dull things. Not dull in the way that a politician's speech is dull, not dull in the way of a Madrilan wedding, but dull in the way that they're generally rather unintelligible and quite useless for anyone listening in. It lets the imagination fill in the blanks, something that I really didn't want to do at the time.

Abruptly, the door was thrown open and an ugly face was forced through it. It was an unshaven face, marred in more than one spot with white scars of battles long-since fought and, presumably, won. Upon seeing the Baroness and Sylphi, a wide grin split his face.

"A'wight, wench's. You two git out." He had the accent of someone from the north, possibly even so high up as Rialzi Piot. He was a long way from home.

The Baron, quite close to the man, was moving towards him. It's idiocities like that that make me more of a coward daily. The Baron Torilis was a large, lumbering, ungainly man, yet here he was, throwing himself towards an armed bandit with a very clear advantage. It was lunacy.

I'm a real romantic, aren't I?

It seemed that luck wasn't only on my side, fortunately for the Baron. Before he'd quite reached the bandit at the door, one of the hired mercenaries had come through.

Mercenaries are such annoying little buggers. They have a tendency to run if things start to get out of hand; granted, so do I, but I never make any quips otherwise about it. Mercenaries, on the other hand, are either greater cowards than I, not even willing to admit it, or such incredible buffoons that they believe they can single-handedly save the world. Or any other world for that matter. The only thing worse than a mercenary is a hero.

This merc was one of the bigger, dumber ones. He didn't look much different from the bandit who'd just grown in the coach doorway, but he was definitely on our side. As the bandit dropped out of sight, the disgusting look of an ugly man in pain on his face, the mercenary behind him grunted out, "Four or five of 'em. We got three, counting this one."

The Baron snapped out at him, "Three? What about the other two?"

The mercenary shrugged, "Our job is to keep you safe, not to chase down bandits."

With a thin frown on her lips, the Baroness spoke up, "And our wounded?"

"Two down," answered the lumbering man, "Two still alive, counting myself. Driver's down, too."

With a shake of his balding head, the Baron began to climb out of the coach, "I'll do the driving, then. At least I can see bandits before they cause trouble."

*Of course, * I thought. *You're a Baron. You're a trained professional, aren't you? If a mercenary can't pick them out, you certainly can.*

Then again, who was I to complain? The man leaving the coach was the one who'd just been harassing me into letting my little secret out. If he wanted to be outside of the coach, riding along with his bladder bouncing on that horrid wooden driver's post, all the more welcome to him. It still left me with his wife, who I was fairly certain wasn't going to ease up in the near future, but the Baron had hired me and the Baron would be the one to fire me. Assuming I was still around when he decided he wanted to.

As the noble took his leave of the remainder of us, he paused, turning around long enough to state, "We must stop at the next sizable town in order to hire new guards."

The Baroness smiled at her husband, suggesting, "Perhaps we might sleep in comfortable beds tonight as well, Torilis?" There's something else I've never understood. She's his wife, his eternal promised -- yet she refrains calling him by his first name on occasion, instead using his informal title. Never let the curse of nobility near yourself or yours.

Chapter Two: In Which The Amulet Appears

Taverns are the most wondrous places on the face of this -- or any other -- planet. Nowhere else can you find such an amazing reservoir of degradation and depravity so willing to part with their money in the fruitless hope of escaping from what is real into their own representation of ego. Some establishments are reputable spots, areas where men of virtue go to socialize and to escape the boring mundanity of their static lives. Others, such as the place the Baron had taken us, aren't quite so pleasant.

Which, of course, makes them that much more appealing for someone of my talents.

Alright, I've already made it quite clear that I am a patron of the school of cowardice and that, frankly, I prefer it that way -- it keeps me alive and it keeps me safe. Unfortunately, it also keeps me impoverished. Consequently, I have managed to acquire a small entourage of alternate trades out of opportunity and possibility more than intent. Thievery is one of them. Don't misconstrue that: I'm nothing glamorous, not one of the dashing rogues that dart along rooftops, slipping in and out with the ease of a shadow. If there is money there, I can steal it. If there is a pocket begging to be picked, I can pick it and if there is a purse screaming that it wants to be cut, I can cut it, both without anything remotely resembling moral regret; there are advantages to having an assassin as a father.

Another of my talents is gambling, though there are those who would argue that gambling is simply another version of theft where the thief isn't quite as stealthy and the victim not quite so surprised. Such it was, however, that I found myself in the back corner of the central room in our tavern for the night surrounded by the low-penny gamblers. I don't gamble with the heavy gamblers. Cheats who cheat for pennies are, at worst, sworn at. Cheats who cheat for estates are often killed.

"Four bits to you, bard."

I was still holding up my Silvertongue masque, something that I was hoping I would be able to shrug off as soon as possible; with the Baron and his wife still around and still paying for my services, however, that day was still out of visibility. I took a long look at the cards resting within my fingers. I had a decent hand, but already knew that the thin man with the red beard across from me had a better one.

"I'll see it," I said, "And call."

Four bits isn't much to lose; the confidence of the six men around me that I am a decent card player on the lower end of the scale was invaluable. As the cards fell to the table around me, we could all see quite clearly that the bald redhead was, indeed, the winner of the round. One more hand where I lost decently and give out a little more coin and I'd certainly have been in their graces as anything but a cheat. After all, it was penny-ante, right?

Unfortunately, things didn't always fall that way. We went around the table and, again, my hand was decent without being spectacular. The redhead was in the lead again -- I could tell. I could see. Don't ask me how, it's a skill I've inherited from my father. Either that or I was more delusional then than I am now and I just won't admit it to you, myself, or anyone else who asks.

"At a full half-crown, bard. Raise or call."

Shrugging faintly, I put down the few more bits needed to raise my coin equal to that of the other betters. "Call. Let's see how well your luck's holding up, friend."

The redhead rolled his eyes in an exhaustive manner, his motion indicating that my words had hit on something of a sore note. I certainly couldn't see what, nor had I intended it as an affront... just a simple jibe for the sake of competition. Whatever the case, he laid his cards down at the same time the rest of us did, as the game is played. Neither he nor I bothered to look at each other's cards; clearly, he already knew that he'd won and I already knew that I'd lost, so there was no need to bother with such a trite gesture. The third man in the draw cursed softly beneath his breath.

As the supposed winner reached out for his take, however, the third that had stayed for our gambit called out, "Hold, there. The bard's won it, red."

The bald redhead stared at the cards as I did, confusion resounding as we'd both been so sure the outcome had been otherwise. Nonetheless, the cards showed true. I'd won by accident.

Reaching out for my take, I was inwardly cursing myself. I had no intention of winning that hand, yet here I was, pulling the take in. Gamblers are a suspicious type. Winning a hand is acceptable. Winning two is aggravating but forgivable. Winning three after only losing one was something to be investigated. So I resigned that I'd have to lose the third and fourth hands in an effort to cover up my mistake with the last.

"Ah... I'll take it up to a half-crown," I said, tossing some of the money I'd just won back onto the table. It was the redhead and I again, the two of us clearly the only serious gamblers at the small table.

The slim man softly stroked at his beard. He nodded with sincerity before scooping a hand inside to his tunic in a motion that panicked me somewhat. If he was pulling a knife, he wasn't being very discrete about it. If he was pulling for his purse, it meant that he was desperately trying to win his money back... of course, I was more than content to let him have it. When he pulled out a golden amulet and placed it onto the table, I was shocked. Certainly he had at least some coin to spare. I could see his pouch from where I sat, bulging with something or another.

"This should cover it. I see you and call, bard." He said.

This was rather unexpected. No one calls before taking cards; unless, of course, their hand is very good. Which was, of course, what I wanted -- to lose. Nodding at the man, forcing my eyes to stay on his beard in order to keep myself from revealing my ruse, I placed my cards down on the table before me. It was a horrible hand, I'd made sure of that myself, intentionally throwing the good hand I could have had at the redhead.

And yet, I won again. The revelation was a baffling one, since I'd gone far from my path to ensure my loss. Now I'd taken two pots in a row, this newest one involving an amulet that appeared to be nothing less than an heirloom or relic. While I may be a liar, a coward, and a cheat, I'm not a desecrator and I don't really want to go about taking meaningful things from people. I'll take their money. I won't take their loves, hopes, or desires.

Standing, I started to push the pot of the coin and amulet back towards the redhead, "Honestly, I have enough, m'lord. 'Twas just a way to pass time, the pot is yours to keep."

"Oh, no," he said, standing up quickly as if the amulet and coin were fire. "It's yours now, friend."

My eyes widened a little at the man's words, wondering if he'd decided that I was a cheat and ready to be slaughtered but, with a laugh, he lifted himself up and turned his back to me, happily walking away from the table. It was the most unusual thing I think I'd ever seen; no one is happy to have lost money. Ever, no matter how enthralling the game might have been.

I debated trying to stay at the table and work things through, to try getting my ruse back, but it wasn't likely to happen in the immediate future. Thanks to my poor luck at having good luck, I decided it would have been much more advantageous to simply wait things out and return later in the night when either my good fortune would be forgotten or the adversaries would have been rotated. So off to my room I went.

With the money, of course. There's no reason to leave it where it had been, particularly if the original owner wasn't even gracious enough to take it back.

Chapter Three: In Which The First Encounter Occurs

I'd seen worse. Don't get me wrong, I'd seen better as well, but I'd seen worse. Most of those miniscule little taverns don't even have a sleeping area and, when they do, they're usually one huge room where everyone sleeps together. If you've never had the exhilarating pleasure of trying to sleep while in a room full of snoring, babbling, shifting idiots, count yourself truly blessed. I'm a light sleeper -- common rooms ensure unsolicited insomnia. Fortunately, whoever had arranged our quarters had done at least a decent job of it. I was uncertain where the Baron Torilis and his family were resting, but I had no doubt that it was a great deal more pleasant than the quarters I'd been given. Nonetheless, it's a very well known fact that bards are slim, fair-skinned individuals. I was, at least.

The entire apartment that I'd been given consisted of two rooms. That in itself was a bit of a miracle. Presumably the Baron and his family had obtained the best room in the tavern that meant that at least two of the apartments in the place consisted of multiple rooms. One of us was almost certainly sleeping in the tavern-keeper's rooms. Whatever the case, the first room was fairly plain, the drab grey stone emphasizing the mundanity of the place. An open window peered out over the tavern and down onto the cobbled stones far below, eagerly permitting the sounds of horse hooves and drunken louts to reach my already tortured ears. Fortunately, the second room -- the bedroom -- was nearly soundproof. To this day I'm not quite sure how they managed it, but I assume the blame can be put on careful placement of tapestries and a stifling lack of airflow within the chamber. A large wardrobe stood ominously propped up against one of the cold stone walls and a four-post bed that appeared to be made of oak respectfully watched my entry.

My first matter of business was to investigate the amulet, of course. I may not be a genius of the old-world, but I'm not a complete troll. Someone had been suspiciously eager to be rid of the thing and now I was wondering not only why, but also whether or not that paranoia should be shared in part. I tossed myself onto the large, inviting comforter of the bed (thankfully clean) and spread my winnings out before me. I generally make it a practice to avoid counting winnings while still housed in the place in which those winnings had been tactfully obtained, but the amulet was too much of an intriguing mystery.

It was an amulet. There wasn't very much more that could be said about it. There were no stones, valuable or otherwise, embedded into the thing, just a small disk of aged bronze nearly a quarter of an inch thick. Affixed directly into the amulet was a chain, also of bronze, that served the purpose of the necklace, looping neatly around itself to form a full circle. There was an image inscribed into the amulet that I didn't recognize, an embossment of two figures, one male and one female, standing back to back with each facing an opposing side of the disk. The male figure was wearing a jester's cap, tri-pronged with bell-tangled tips and what appeared to be a matching outfit of the jester's patchwork rags. The female figure appeared to be wearing a familiar street-performer's clothing, her face clearly dirtied in the embossment, her clothes equally soiled and tattered leather. The joker was carrying in his hand a thin, short wand with a tri-pronged tip to match his hat and the woman was holding a small, simple sphere in her hand.

All things considered, it was a fairly ugly amulet and truly not worth very much. As I was trying to determine how much I could haggle it off for once it was melted down into a block of bronze, a knock came at my door.

There's usually a sense of fear for me whenever someone is knocking at my door unexpectedly. Taking a logical outlook on the situation, there are very few occasions when an unsolicited visitor is actually beneficial, particularly considering my particular trade in life. Cowards are one of the most hunted types of people; after all, fear is what drives most individuals to be good people. When people are confronted with someone whom they specifically know is more of a coward than they are, it tends to remove their own fears and make them that much more dangerous.

At my door was the Baroness Torilis. Her crystal blue eyes were piercing and I at once was ready to bolt away from her. Were it not for the fact that my room was quite high and that I'm deathly afraid of heights, I may have tried to do just that. She had a thin frown creased across her perfect lips.

"Silvertongue," she began, forcing me to once again remind myself of my alter ego, "Are you enjoying your accommodations?"

I nodded slightly at the woman, wondering about her motives. It was getting close to when she should have been with her husband and daughter eating supper or some other absurd family ritual.

"Verily, m'lady," I replied, my voice strong and sure despite my gut's uneasiness.

Her thin frown creased steadily upward until it had formed an equally thin smile, "I am pleased to hear that it suffices your requirements. You are appreciative of it, no doubt." It was a statement, certainly.

Again, I nodded. "Of course, Baroness." This was starting to sound bad. I had a feeling that the goal was forthcoming.

The smile grew until she was nearly grinning -- a malicious, suspicion-inducing grin. "I am pleased. As is the owner of this fine tavern. He is quite ecstatic to hear that the fabled Silvertongue is within his residence."

Definitely forthcoming. "Oh?" I was beginning to panic. I'm certain that her eyes contributed to the sensation. I wasn't sure what else to say other than that single, lame syllable.

She was happy to accept my inadvertent prompting, "Oh, yes. Quite pleased. You will be playing for his guests tonight, of course. I've come to inform you that he expects to hear you after dinner."

I'm good, but not quite good enough. She caught sight of my immediate apprehension before I had the opportunity to conceal it. With her eyes narrowed, she stalked towards me through the doorway, the woman an eerie shadow of a ghost. I dimly noticed that she was wearing a black dress dark enough to match her hair, the color contrasting so strongly against her skin as to increase her ghostly appearance tenfold. I took a nervous step back, once again wanting to escape.

"You listen to me, bard," she spoke the word with clear and obvious contempt, her eyes narrowing down into two emerald shards of fury, "You're going to play to pay for your room. If you do not, I have no doubt that the owner of this tavern will find his own method for obtaining payment."

She took a step towards me, closing the door behind her with her foot before continuing my lecture. Her voice was more quiet, crystal cold, "I've heard your voice. I have no doubt that you are an excellent bard. Your reputation far exceeds you. Why this hesitation?"

Her words took me completely by surprise. I clearly hadn't fooled her entirely, but I had apparently deceived her well enough that she didn't suspect I wasn't Silvertongue.

I tried to think quickly. "The bandits, m'lady. I..." My acting skills are modest most times. Place me into any situation where my cowardice can rule supreme, however, and I am suddenly adept at the acting arts. I sighed, slumping a little. Holding my hand towards the woman, I said, "No. No, I... I can... speak no more of it. Please, leave me."

Having made my performance, I turned my back to her. I'm usually not the type of person who would turn his back on anyone, particularly someone who might be potentially dangerous, but it was a necessity to complete the acting facade. Feigning distress, I hurriedly shuffled into my bedroom, certain that the Baroness would be too modest to follow.

My hopes were rendered useless. She was more than headstrong enough to pursue me into my bedroom.

Carefully, she asked of me, "What about the bandits?" It was obvious that she wasn't completely accepting my act.

"M'lady, please, the memories are too much." I replied, shimmying forward until my shins were pressed tightly against the frame of my giant four-post bed.

"Silvertongue," Her voice was once again attaining an icy chill, "This is the third time I am asking. It will be the last. Why are you uneasy?"

"Ah..." I turned slowly around to face her, steeling my expression into one of pity, of sorrow. Perhaps I could vault through the window. It was shuttered closed at the moment, but I was confident that it would take very little to force the latch. "The bandits today, m'lady. They've... aroused bad memories. Horrible memories."

One of her thin, raven eyebrows raised a little further on her alabaster forehead. She wasn't going to verbally ask for elaboration, but her body language was quite clear.

I sighed again. "My father was killed by bandits, Baroness. Before my very eyes when I was a youngster. Since that day bandits of every type have become my nemeses and encounters with them turn my legs -- and throat -- into so much useless flesh."

The Baroness paused for a few long moments, making me worry that she was waiting for further elaboration when I had no more falsified stories to give on the matter. When she spoke it startled me.

"Alright then, Silvertongue," she said, her voice surprisingly soft and gentle, "You cannot play tonight in such a harrowed demeanor."

I breathed an inward sigh of relief. My gambit was paying off.

Baroness Torilis took a step closer to me. My breath was short in my throat though I tried not to show it, certain that the woman intended to alter her attitude once again into cruelty. She stepped close enough that I could smell her hair, she and I staring directly at each other.

The blue crystals of her eyes transfixed me as the lids around them again narrowed into slits. She was a few inches shorter than me; there was still something about her stance and attitude that made her the predator and I the prey. I prepared myself for her next onslaught when she spoke again in her soothing voice.

"So we must ease your mind and body, bard, so that you may play."

I tried not to wince. "M'lady, I know not how such a thing may be done. My memories are--"

"Do not play the minister to me, Silvertongue," she cut me off. "I know well the ways of relaxation in which bards engage."

My eyebrows furrowed into small tufts as I tried to piece her words together while simultaneously devising some method of making her retreat. "I don't understand, Baroness."

I'm usually quite adept at noticing small movements, particularly those performed by individuals so physically close to me. Either the Baroness was much more stealthy than I had anticipated or her proximity to me was enough to make me so nervous that I never noticed. Whatever the reasoning, I was taken completely by surprise when her thin hand clasped onto my crotch.

A breath snapped into my throat, my eyes widening at the woman before me only to be rewarded with a broad smile appearing on her lips. It was the largest smile I'd seen from her.

"Ah," she said. "Perhaps you understand my meaning now, bard?"

She began to squeeze and release in gentle motions much like how a snake moves, the talented muscles of her hand caressing my groin without ever releasing me.

I swallowed hard. Many men much greater than I had fallen prey to this sort of thing.

"M'lady, what... what about the Baron?" I asked, trying feebly to sway her.

She laughed softly but didn't quite respond. The palm of her hand slid away from my crotch though the fingers remained, currently cupping just beneath my testicles. She leaned in towards me so close that her breasts were pushing against my chest. With her lips edging dangerously close to my ear, she breathed out, "He's busy."

I was concerned. My body, on the other hand, wasn't. I was already getting quite uncomfortable in my breeches thanks to her ministrations, an erection forming rapidly.

Gingerly, her fingertips left my sack and started to slowly trace the edges of my shaft through the leather of my breeches. The feeling was amazing, reason and panic starting to get fuzzy in my mind. This wasn't the first time that I'd been confronted sexually by a woman, or a married woman for that matter, but the Baroness hadn't shown any signs that I'd noticed which made the whole thing very, very suspicious.

Not that my body cared. My legs were starting to get a little weak already when she whispered into my ear, "You may want sit down, bard."

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