Wisdom in Shadow, Chapter 13

Preface: Greetings, all! This is the thirteenth chapter of the tale that began with “Wisdom in Shadow – Chapter 1,” comes immediately after “Wisdom in Shadow, Chapter 12,”and is the third story is a series that began with “What You Don’t Know,” also located on this site, although it features a mostly-different cast of characters.

As always, my standard disclaimer: The monster girls featured in this tale, and many elements of the setting, are based off of the works of Kenkou Cross, and as such this work is intended to be a tribute to his creativity. The characters, however, are my own. Pray neither sue nor steal; I have very little to take, but I love that which is mine.

Wisdom in Shadow

Chapter 13 – Apostate

     “You are really not good at escaping, are you?”

     Simon panted for breath as he leaned against the table, his chest heaving as he glowered at the lich, who seemed much less winded by their flight away from the catacombs.  That might have had something to do with the fact that she had hardly helped him and Gina to carry the new fourth member of their group, who now lay snoring upon the floor a short distance away.  Thankfully, George had remained unconscious during their journey from the catacombs back down to the library, and Simon prayed he remained that way for a while longer.  He did not look forward to what would happen when the Purifier awoke, and judging from the way Gina sat on her haunches near him, her eyes alert and anxious, she was not eager for it either.

     Simon shrugged at Sarah, composing himself as he glanced around the library. “Well, at least now we can take the third way out without any problems, right?” he suggested optimistically.

     “From the brief time I’ve come to know you, the phrase ‘without any problems’ doesn’t seem applicable to anything you do.” The lich shook her head in exasperation as she drew closer to him, motioning to the side. “And what about him?”
     Simon glanced over to George’s slumbering form. “I… don’t know.  I mean, if we are able to teleport away, then I suppose we could just leave him, since even the Lector should realize that George wasn’t involved with us.  For now, we might have to tie him up until we can leave, but I want to talk to him first.”

     The lich rolled her eyes at that. “Let me guess: you’re going to try to win him over to your side of this?”

     “Well, it worked on you, didn’t it?” Simon chuckled as Sarah playfully punched his arm. “Like I said before, he’s a good guy, he just-”

     A whine from Gina interrupted him, and the kobold stepped warily away from the fallen Purifier.  Seeing this, Simon moved to step forward, but a hand on his shoulder held him back.  He glanced down at Sarah in time to see her take the staff from where he had left it leaning against the table, and she held it out to him with grim insistence in her eyes.  Nodding regretfully, Simon took the staff from her, knowing she was preparing him for the worst.  He could only hope that it wouldn’t come to that.

     “Ah… my head…” George winced as he began to stir, his hand drunkenly fumbling towards the back of his skull, gingerly touching the place where it had slammed against a stone wall in the catacombs above.  His eyes fluttered open, squinted from the agony, but remained unfocused as he groaned loudly.  As consciousness gradually trickled past the gripping pain, he paused in befuddlement, then gasped as realization struck him like a dam breaking.  His eyes shot wide as he glanced around him, searching for the woman that had imprisoned him, but locking instead onto his friend as the other man walked closer. “Simon!  You made it out of there!” He started to climb to his feet, but froze in place as his eyes shifted to stare past Simon at the other people in the room. “Wait, what is going on?”

     “Listen, George, you’re okay.  We got you out of there before she could send you someplace else.  You’re safe here, but-”

     “Safe?  We?  Simon, those are monsters behind you.” His eyes darted from Gina to Sarah and back to Simon. “They’re what we came here to hunt.  Why are they here?  Why aren’t you attacking them?”

     “Because they’re my friends.” Simon sighed, leaning on the staff he had borrowed from Sarah. “George, listen, so much has happened since we spoke, and there is a lot I need to tell you-”

     “No,” George muttered under his breath, scrabbling to back away from his friend, “No, no, no.  No, this isn’t right.  This isn’t good.  The Lector said they had poisoned your mind; he was right.” George staggered to his feet, glaring at the girls behind Simon. “They’ve messed with your head, Simon, like that witch in the crypts.  You’re not yourself.”  His hand found the hilt of his sword, and the metal rang out against the lip of its scabbard as he drew it forth, the tip weaving in circles in front of him. “Just step out of the way and I’ll-”

     “No.” The steel in Simon’s voice did not waver. “They are my friends, and I won’t let anyone hurt them.  They are good people, George.  The Lector is the real monster.”

     George’s eyes narrowed, and he looked back to Simon with a scowl. “They are making you think that.  Get out of my way, Simon.  Let me save you.” He didn’t wait for a response, lurching forward to rush past the other man.

     He rebounded off the translucent blue barrier that snapped into existence between him and the girls behind Simon.  He fell back, gaping, and he looked to Simon with wide-mouthed shock.  Simon returned the look with a resolute stare, shaking his head slowly.  George’s betrayed expression decayed into anger as his blade turned towards the other young man. “Simon, let me through.  Let me do what we came here to do.  When they are gone, we can go home.  Things can go back to the way they were, I promise.”

     “I’m not going home.” Simon’s voice was thick, but he didn’t move an inch. “My place is with them, now.”

     “I’m sorry, then.” George met Simon’s eyes for a long moment, and both could see the pain mirrored between them. George’s shoulders slumped, and he glanced to the side, away from his friend.  “But you’ll understand once you’re free of them.” When he moved, it was sudden and brutal, his sword slamming into the barrier between the two, battering it in ringing strikes that caused the barrier to pulse with light.  Simon grunted under the assault, but pushed back, focusing his mind to maintain the shield that his friend was furiously lashing into.  When the Purifier showed no sign of stopping, his blade beginning to take on a golden hue, Simon knew he couldn’t remain passive.

    George stumbled forward as one of his swings passed freely through the space where the barrier had been.  Before he could regain his footing and close the distance between him and any of the three watching him, Simon cast his spell once more, this time right in front of the unbalanced monster hunter.  The collision sent George flying backward, his sword landing at his feet as he toppled onto his back, his head slamming into the floor.  That was enough to leave him still for a moment, and Simon sighed as he stared at him. “This doesn’t have to be this way, George.  Just listen to me, and I’ll show you the truth.  We’ve been misled our whole lives, and it’s time for us to grow up and see the world for what it is.”

     “The truth, you said?  Did you tell me the truth back in the inn?” George fought to sit up, scowling as he struggled to climb back to his feet. “That dog smell… it was that monster, wasn’t it?  I recognize the rags she is wearing.  This whole time, you’ve been on their side.  You, and Mary, and Mr. Kramer.  You’ve been lying to me all along, but now you preach to me about the truth?” George shook his head, his eyes wild. “I see you for what you are, Simon.  It’s you… you’re what I came here to hunt.”

     Simon’s blood ran cold at those words, but he nodded. “I’m sorry you see it that way.  I wish you weren’t right about me lying to you.  But that doesn’t mean I am going to let you hurt these girls.  They are innocent; we’re the ones who killed someone without cause.” He extended the staff in front of him, the tip pointing at his former friend.  He wanted to convince George, but something in the Purifier’s eyes warned him that might be impossible. “Leave, George.  I won’t hurt you, but you won’t touch them, or me.”

     George picked up his sword, looking at the blade for a moment before glaring back at Simon. “You won’t get away with this.  The Lector will come for you, and all of these monsters, until this place has been purified.  You’ll burn for this, Simon; I can’t save you from that.”

     “Don’t worry about me, George,” Simon replied, remorse thick in his throat. “Save yourself.  From ignorance, if you can; from death if you can’t.”

     The Purifier didn’t say another word.  He sheathed his sword and walked past Simon, turning his head to glare at the two girls behind him as he went.  He moved towards the door leading into the laboratory, and paused at the threshold to glance back at Simon.  For a moment, his expression shifted between anger and regret, but his words died in his mouth, and so he turned and left the room.  Sarah’s hands glowed with violet power, and the door rumbled closed behind him, slamming like the lid of a tomb.    

      The tension left the room as that door sealed, and Simon leaned heavily on the staff, feeling the exhaustion of the day finally catch up to him.  He felt wearied in ways he had never before experienced, and it was all he could do to remain standing.  He couldn’t process what had just happened with George, but his heart was doing that thinking instead of his brain, and the deep pain in his chest spoke volumes on the subject of betrayed expectations and dying hopes.  He felt a presence at his side, and turned to see Gina looking at him with worried eyes.  Raising his hand to pat her head felt like struggling against weighted ropes, but he felt better when he saw her smile, and that gave him the strength to turn and face Sarah. “So, that could’ve gone better,” he admitted dryly. “What do we do from here?”

     The lich was slow in answering. “I… don’t know.  There is a problem with my plan: we can’t enact it immediately.  That’s why I had hoped to escape first, giving us time to set things up for the spell.”

     Simon shrugged resignedly. “Well, we still need to free Mary and Mr. Kramer before we can escape, anyways.  We can worry about the spell afterwards.”

     Sarah huffed out an annoyed sigh in response. “Well, that’s just the issue.  If my spell had worked, we would have been better prepared to save them, as well.” Simon gave her a quizzical look as he crossed over to one of the lavishly-padded chairs in front of the table, his wobbling legs threatening to surrender to gravity at any moment.  He motioned to another of the chairs for Gina, but instead she sank to the floor beside him, leaning against his leg and nuzzling it.  He smiled at that and stroked her head, looking back up to Sarah, who remained standing, taking on the stance of a lecturer. “Teleportation is pretty much impossible for us.  Since we don’t know a valid location, we would be going blind, which is ill-advised to say the least.”

     Simon nodded, sinking back further into the seat. “You said that before.  I had hoped you would find a spell with a set destination, or something like that.”

     Sarah shook her head, her pale hair swaying with the motion. “I had considered that, or perhaps a way of accessing areas with a strong connection to the leylines, considering that was the main topic of the research done here.  Unfortunately, any such writings that this place would have would be outdated by nearly a century at this point.  Even if such a spell existed, the construction of a new building, for example, or a rockslide after the time the book was written could end with us melding with a wall or appearing dozens of feet into the air.”

     Simon groaned at that. “This is not the news I was hoping for,” he groused, his fingers tangling themselves in Gina’s hair as he petted her.  She pressed tighter against him, wrapping an arm around his knee to pull his leg closer.

     One pale-skinned finger rose above the others. “But!  If we cannot teleport away from here…” Sarah paused, waiting for Simon to complete her thought.

     He was a long time in answering.  Thinking felt like swimming upstream at this point, and distantly his mind cried out for sleep.  Still, he was curious enough to consider her words. “Then we bring something to us, instead?” he hazarded.

     “Not something, someone.” Sarah stood proudly, her chest thrust forward.  This had the side effect of exposing her, the edges of her cloak falling to either side, and Simon looked away, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.  Sarah did not seem to notice, though Gina did, glancing between the two with a raised eyebrow. “We can summon someone to this place to help us.  Specifically, someone with the knowledge of a spell to teleport us all out of here, once we have freed your friends.”

     “Yeah, but do you know anyone like that?” Simon asked. “No one I know will help monsters, and you’ve been sealed away for the better part of a hundred years.  Who do you know that would even be still alive?” He winced at that, immediately regretting the harshness of his words. “Sorry.”

     She shook her head with a sly smile. “I think I know someone who would fit the description.” She nodded towards Simon’s right hand, and he glanced numbly at it.  His eyes widened as he focused on the staff he still held.

     “You don’t mean… one of the Heroes?”

     “My old master,” she amended with a grin. “People with a greater supply of mana tend to live longer anyways, so it’s likely that he is still alive.  Since I know him well, and we have something of his on hand to use as a spiritual anchor, it should be child’s play to open a portal he can use to come here.  Once he arrives, he can help us create a spell to teleport to someplace further east, where we should all be safe.”

     Excitement flared to life in Simon’s chest, and he climbed from the chair to face Sarah directly. “Then that’s perfect!  Let’s go ahead and see if we can cast the spell!” His grin decayed when he saw the sullen frown on her face.

    “I would love to, but I told you that we can’t.”  Adjusting her cloak to cover her chest once more, and unintentionally drawing Simon’s eyes again, Sarah scowled down at the floor. “That spell is very demanding.  I would have enough mana to cast it on a good day, but today, with the spells I started to cast on you when you first burst in here, not to mention the ones I used freeing you from that perverted priestess upstairs, there is no way I can manage it.  If I had a day or so to rest…”

     Simon’s shoulders slumped. “We don’t.  If Lector Themras is convinced my friends are guilty, he might condemn them as early as tomorrow.” His fingers tightened painfully on the staff he held as he thought of it.  He couldn’t leave Mary and Charles in that madman’s hands. “We’ll have to do it ourselves.  Or… could I cast the spell?”

     Sarah met his gaze with apology in her eyes. “You would need to know the person you are summoning, even with the anchor.  You would definitely have enough mana to cast the spell, but since you don’t know my master, your voice wouldn’t reach him, and you couldn’t form a strong enough bond to establish the portal.”

     Simon was conscious of Gina rising behind him, staring intently at Sarah over his shoulder.  He was too distracted to think about that, though, as he mulled over their problem.  If Sarah had to be the one to cast the spell, then it was a matter of regaining her mana.  They could attempt a rescue without any help, but he wasn’t hopeful of their chances; Lector Themras was capable of powerful magic, and now George would warn him that they were coming.  For a moment, he regretted letting George leave, but he had not wanted to be forced to fight his friend, and he had suspected the same was true for George.  With an irritated growl, he shook his head, clearing it of such thoughts.  He needed to focus on the problem before them.  Sarah had said that the leyblood in the chamber beyond was depleted, so that would not make for an easy way to regain her power, if that even worked somehow.  If only there was some other way they could replenish her mana…

     “Yes?  What is it?” Sarah asked, looking at Gina as the kobold tugged on her arm.  She looked at the furry digit pointing towards Simon. “No, he can’t cast the spell, we’ve established that already,” the lich protested.  Her eyes widened as the pointing finger pointed lower. “W-what are you…?” Color darkened Sarah’s cheeks, and her head swiftly turned away from looking at Simon. “You stupid mutt, there’s no way that will work.”

     Gina turned to Simon, her lips quirking into a smile.  He met her glance with confusion, rapidly looking between the two girls. “What is it?  What won’t work?”

     Gina offered him a short bark in response, the sound reminding him of a laugh.  She stepped closer, mischief in her eyes, her hips swaying as she stalked up to him.  To his surprise, he felt her paw press against his thigh, rubbing upwards, and she captured his eyes with her own, her smile looking hungry and eager.  She rubbed his crotch through his pants, stroking up and down with varying pressure, and despite his exhaustion his lower body rose immediately to the occasion. “Umm, Gina, I don’t know if this is the right time for this-”

     Gina backed away, but her seductive playfulness remained as she stared at him even as she drew nearer to Sarah.  Simon realized that the lich had been watching Gina’s ministrations with wide eyes and flushed cheeks, and even as the kobold came closer Sarah’s eyes remained locked on his tightened trousers, staring with a needful intensity.  Her attention was so focused that she barely noticed Gina grasp her cloak, though she did shriek a complaint as the kobold ripped it from her, her slim arms crossing to cover her exposed pale chest.  Her failure to do so adequately did not make Simon’s swelling problem any better, especially as his eyes fell lower on her now-naked form.  He should have been accustomed to her body, since she was never dressed in much, but the removal of that last refuge made her look surprisingly vulnerable. “Umm, Sarah, care to explain what she’s thinking?”

     Sarah met the kobold’s gaze with wide eyes, looking like cornered prey before a hound’s jaws. “Mana can be transferred,” Sarah started, her voice trembling as Gina leaned in closer. “There are various methods, but the easiest way is through, ah…” The lich shivered as the kobold’s breath gusted against her collarbone as Gina stood right before her, leaning further down. “Direct injection of masculine essence via copulation- Ah!” Her voice sang out sweetly as Gina’s tongue extended to press against soft flesh, lapping upwards. “Both parties receive power from their partner, but the corresponding boost for the female is… is…” Gina’s efforts had increased in pace, her tongue bathing the lich’s left breast with swift, rhythmic motions.  Simon did not notice the hanging sentence, his attention imprisoned by the way Sarah’s breast was lifted by the forceful tongue as it lapped under the nipple, and the way that nub had hardened tantalizingly.

     Gina paused her activities to blow against that sensitive skin, and a shiver vibrated up the lich’s arched spine, bursting from her lips with a gasp.  Gina grinned up at the lich before turning to Simon, waving him closer.  He mindlessly obeyed, still struggling to understand what was happening; his exhausted brain was decidedly taxed, starved as it was by the blood being redirected southward.  As he came close, Gina reached out to take his wrist, and pulled his hand until it rested a short distance away from Sarah’s untouched right breast.  The lich stared down at that hand with a mixture of terror and need, and glanced up from it to meet Simon’s gaze.  Their eyes locked as his hand hovered there, almost but not quite touching her.  Simon nodded, but didn’t move closer. “Is this what you want?”

     “I…” Sarah’s eyes moved rapidly from his face, to his hand, to Gina, and back once more.  Gina smirked at her indecision, leaning forward once more to flick her tongue out against the pale skin in front of her, tracing a line upward from the base of Sarah’s ribs to the underside of her breast, continuing upwards.  Gasping once more, Sarah pressed her chest forward, meeting Simon’s hand, and he instinctively began to massage the smooth flesh in his grasp.  The lich’s pleasured sigh at that spurred him onward as he marveled at how her breast was just as large as Gina’s, though softer, and he drank in her sweet moans as he caressed her, while at his side Gina gave Sarah her own attention.  He continued for just a moment before following Gina’s cue, leaning down to kiss Sarah’s collarbone, meandering downward across her chill skin.  Her nipple was hard before his lips arrived at that destination, so he sucked it into his warm mouth, teasing it with his tongue as he pulled on it with his lips.  He even nibbled on it just a bit, and Sarah’s reaction was dramatic, a bit-off cry that was followed by her hand tangling itself in the hair at the back of his head, holding him in place.

     “This isn’t fair,” Sarah moaned plaintively, looking down at both of them, but neither Simon nor Gina paused in their varied attentions.  Simon in particular was pleased to see the sardonic lich reduced to meekly surrendering to his tongue, especially since she gripped his head firmly in place, her body more honest than her mouth, though the pleading moans coming from there were truthful enough.  He fell into a rhythm beside Gina, tormenting the lich in a counterpoint to the girl at his side: following her gentle lick with a teasing bite, raining kisses while Gina suckled, flicking his tongue at the same time as Gina in a way that left Sarah leaning against the table and quivering.

     Simon paused as he felt Gina’s hand press against his shoulder, and he glanced over to see her looking at him with an ominous smile.  She guided him to stand up, and led him back towards the chair, while Sarah followed behind, an odd timidity to her expression that almost hid her eagerness.  As the edge of the chair bumped into the back of his legs, Simon paused, but Gina captured his shirt with her claws, tugging upwards.  She shucked him of his attire with relentless efficiency, tossing the leyfluid-sullied shirt to the side, followed by his pants dropping to the cold floor.  When Simon fell into the chair, it was his bared rear that met the fabric, and his rigid member stood upright from his lap.

     Gina reached over to guide Sarah down with her, and the lich obediently followed, taking to her knees in front of him.  The two girls leaned close to Simon, and he swallowed through a throat that was suddenly far too tight as Gina took the lead.  She glanced over to Sarah to make certain the other girl was watching, though she definitely was, her violet eyes wide and focused on Simon’s length.  Gina pressed closer, her tongue flicking out to trace a line up the bottom of his shaft, and Simon groaned from deep within his chest at that painfully-pleasant sensation, especially as her tongue batted at the sensitive spot just below the head.  Gina kissed along his shaft, watching to ensure her student was paying rapt attention, and then rose to capture the tip with her lips, plunging it into the warmth of her mouth.  Simon’s fingers curled into the armrests as he drowned in the heat descending down his length, the sucking rise and fall banishing all other thoughts, all other things in existence save for that caressed by her lips and tongue.

     Simon’s eyes shot open as she pulled back, his member falling free with a ‘pop’ of suction.  He saw his lover glance to Sarah with an expectant smile, reaching down to take Sarah’s hand and guide it almost to him.  The pale girl paused, her fingers half-curled timidly, and she glanced up to him for reassurance.  He nodded, his whole body tense, and she looked down to his shaft as her hand completed its journey.  He hissed through tight lips as her cool fingers curled around him, stroking up and down uncertainly, her clumsiness in stark contrast with Gina’s confidence.  Sarah stared down at him, marveling at the way the skin moved, how it pulsed in her hand, but the kobold pressed her onward, reaching up to stroke Sarah’s hair but also pressing the shy lich down closer to the object of her desire.  Sarah took the hint, her purple lips parting slightly as she lowered her face, eyes raising to meet Simon’s, and she kissed the very tip, her mouth open enough to take just the farthest extent inside.  She sucked on it gently, as if testing its flavor, and he twitched as he felt the tip of her tongue tease the slitted opening at the end.  His moan encouraged her, and she accepted more of his length into her mouth.  The feeling inside wasn’t as heated as Gina’s mouth, but that contrast only increased the pleasure, and Simon could already feel pressure building inside as Sarah’s head bobbed up and down hesitantly, her eyes turning up to his face with evaluative curiosity.

     Simon closed his eyes as he savored the feelings coming from below, but opened them to glance down as he felt Gina moving closer.  She pressed Sarah to one side as she moved towards him, crawling on her hands as she approached him from beneath the lich, who did not pause in her own increasingly-loud activities.  A guttural moan ripped through Simon as he felt Gina’s tongue begin to caress him below the base of his shaft, massaging his balls with rolling licks that bathed them in her saliva.  This only motivated Sarah to increase her pace, and the sensation of both girls attacking him was enough to make Simon’s hands grip the armrests with white-knuckled desperation.

     His nails pierced into the fabric as he felt Sarah plunge down onto him, taking him deep into her throat.  He could feel the muscles there rippling against his head, and Simon’s eyes rolled back into his head as she moved minutely back and forth just like that.  To his terror and ecstasy, he quickly discovered that, as a lich, Sarah had little need to breathe, and thus she kept him sheathed in her throat for long moments as Gina, not willing to be outdone, attacked him once more, sucking each of his balls into her mouth and caressing them with her tongue.

     “I-” Simon was incapable of words at this point, but the warning was enough.  Sarah pulled back, but kept him within her mouth, twisting her tongue around his over-sensitive flesh as she rocked back and forth.  Gina continued her own assault even as he began to shudder, and the world dissolved into white brilliance as Simon spent himself into Sarah’s mouth, gasping at the intensity of the sensation as all thoughts were burned away.  The orgasm was long and powerful, his shaft pulsing as he released again and again.  Finally he bonelessly collapsed back into the chair, his chest heaving, as Sarah finally let his softening self fall from her lips.  He watched her throat move as she consumed all he had given her, a smile on her lips.  Almost immediately, he noticed a violet incandescence in her eyes, and her confidence seemed to return as power swelled within her.

     “Well, it seems that proves that theory,” Sarah noted academically, leaning back as Gina captured Simon’s wilting member from her.  The kobold took it into her mouth, as if trying to suck the last drops from him, and he groaned from the all-but-painful sensitivity. “I don’t know if this will be enough mana for me to cast the spell, but at the least I can begin experimenting with it, perhaps try to reestablish a mental connection with my master.” Simon was barely listening, distracted by Gina’s continued attentions as the kobold rose from her knees, kissing her way up to his chest, her paws caressing him passionately. “With your… contribution, I will go ahead and- wait, why are you looking at me like that?” Sarah paused as she noticed Gina turn to stare at her, the kobold’s lips upturned at the edges.  Gina pushed away from Simon, walking past Sarah and picking up the discarded cloak from the floor.  As the two befuddled watchers observed her spread it over the floor, they both began to suspect that she was not quite finished with their previous activity.

     Their suspicions were confirmed as she strode over to Sarah, taking her by one arm and leading her to the makeshift blanket.  Despite the lich’s spluttered protests, she guided Sarah to lay atop the cloak, turning her to face Simon.  The draining exhaustion of his release was forgotten as Gina pressed the lich’s legs apart, leaving Sarah’s lower lips naked to his eyes.  She noticed his needful gaze with a blush, and looked in panic to Gina, but the other girl only bit her lower lip in a hungry grin as her paw stroked across Sarah’s smooth stomach.  Sarah tried once more to protest, but strangled on the words as Gina’s paw descended, the puffy pads pressing against her mound in a firm caress.  Gina waved Simon forward as her lips descended once more towards Sarah’s breast, and the lich moaned out loud as she watched him rise from the chair, staring at his member as it stirred to life once more.

     He crossed over to the pair, kneeling in front of Sarah. “You don’t have to do this, I…” Sarah stammered, but her legs spread wider as he drew close.  He grinned at her, one hand stroking gently up from her ankle, rising toward her thigh.  He leaned in closer, but kept his eyes locked on hers, smiling all the way.

     “I don’t mind, if you two don’t,” he admitted.  Sarah looked to Gina, who pulled away from her breast.  The kobold shared a smile with Simon before leaning in closer to the other girl, pulling her into a kiss.  That distraction was enough to cause the lich to relax into Gina’s embrace, and after a moment of observation Simon continued his progress, lowering his face to kiss her other lips with just as much passion as his lover was showing her mouth.  Sarah’s reaction was immediate; she squealed into Gina’s mouth as her thighs clamped down on Simon’s head, but within a moment she relaxed as he began to kiss all around her slit, only lightly brushing against her most sensitive spot.  His tongue darted out to trace up that sweet line, and she shuddered at that touch, gasping as Gina pulled away to nibble a path down toward her other breast.  Simon pressed in harder, pushing his tongue into her opening, and she rewarded him with a deep-throated moan of enthusiasm, her hand reaching down to grip his hair and pull him tightly into her.  He let his tongue slide in and out of her, exploring her depths, tasting her wetness as she writhed in needy expectation.  He could sense her disappointment when he pulled away, but he pounced on the sensitive nub higher up and drank in her loud cry as his tongue twirled around her clit.

     Simon and Gina continued their assault on the outmatched lich for several minutes before Gina reached out to touch Simon’s shoulder.  When he looked at her, she drew close enough to kiss him, her tongue entering his mouth, licking the moisture from his lips.  She glanced down at his renewed stiffness with a smile, and nodded to him.  He kissed her once more before she laid back down beside Sarah, her paw stroking the lich’s stomach and chest in needy presses. “Are you ready?” he asked, and Sarah stared up at him with wide eyes as she realized what he intended.  She looked down at his length before meeting his gaze once more, swallowing visibly.  Despite her anxiety, he could still see her need, and he wasn’t surprised when she nodded.  He leaned forward over her, body pressing against hers as he sought her lips, and she eagerly met him, kissing him hungrily and refusing to let him go for a long minute.

     Finally she fell back, panting, and with another nod spread her legs wider for him.  He smiled at her reassuringly as he reached down to grip himself, lining himself up with her opening.  She gasped as she felt his head brush against her lips, and he barely sank it into her, taking his time.  He rocked in cautiously, and she hissed, so he froze in place to let her adjust to his width.  As he felt her relax, he continued, pacing himself to give her time to accept him gradually.  She was smaller than Gina, so it made sense that she felt tighter, but she also felt cooler than Gina’s radiating heat as well.  The sensation was not at all unpleasant, and Simon groaned as he finally buried himself to the hilt within the lich under him.  He shuddered as he felt Gina licking at his chest now, and Sarah moaned under him as that caused him to shift suddenly.  Taking that as encouragement, he began to move in earnest, and soon enough the air was filling by three panting breaths as they quickly increased the pace of their mutual lovemaking.

     Simon refused to let Gina go untended, and so he stroked up her leg, caressing her sensitive thigh.  She realized his intent and spread her legs for him, allowing him the chance to insert his finger into her wet hole.  Her desperate whine urged for more, and so a second finger joined the first as his thumb sought out her nub.  He alternated his focus between the two girls, fighting to find a rhythm that pleased both at the same time, but proved to be a quick learner.  Soon enough, both girls were moaning under his attentions, their lips colliding as he exerted himself with all the energy he had left.

      Gina, surprisingly, was the first to finish, grasping Sarah in a fierce hug and mashing her mouth against the other girl’s, though that failed to muffle the high scream coming from inside her.  Sarah’s eyes were open wide at that, and watching Gina shudder in mindless bliss was the tipping point for her, especially as Simon redoubled his own efforts, slamming his hips into her brutishly.  His own body was tensing towards release, and the feeling of Sarah’s inner muscles rippling over his shaft was mind-blastingly intense.  The lich was vocal in her orgasm, the high cry ringing in Simon’s ears as he pounded into her relentlessly.  Moments later his thoughts melted away as he pulsed inside of Sarah, and she grabbed onto him with mouth open wide as she felt his hot release surge into her, staring at him with an expression akin to wonder.

    Simon collapsed atop Sarah, panting as the world seemed to darken, his hips still moving mechanically as if severed from his brain.  For just a moment, he felt different, as if violet heat was flowing through his veins, but he didn’t have time to think about it.  Exhaustion finally claimed him, and he only had enough energy left to roll off of Sarah onto his side, and then to flop onto his back.  The stone floor was cold, but he could feel the warmth of the fireplace nearby, and that was more than enough to relax him into almost immediate slumber.

     The last thing he felt as darkness wrapped around him like a warm blanket was the soft press of two pairs of lips against his cheeks, and as he fell away into sleep he smiled up at Sarah and Gina with love.




     The boy in the black cloak stood in darkness, but he was not alone.  All around him, he could hear the pleasured cries of rutting couples, and the shadows danced in lustful grace, each with their own partner and to their own rhythm.  It was as if he stood in the midst of an orgy, yet the heavens stretched starlessly above his head, swallowing the passionate voices into the empty void.

     Empty, except for one titanic form that loomed above him, like a mountain suspended in the sky.  The shadows were complete, yet he could still make out the edges of a vast feminine form, and a pair of colossal eyes focused entirely upon him.  Those eyes were alive with energy, twisting oranges and purples and reds, and the air seemed to crackle under that fell gaze as she leaned closer toward him, staring with wrathful focus upon the slight form before her.

     “You should be at my side,” she proclaimed, with a voice containing all the force of a crumbling cliffside. “My daughter came for you to bring you to me, and you resisted.  Can you not remember who you are?  Do you not remember me, though you swore yourself to me long ago?  Do you still not know who I am?” The godlike form leaned towards him, threatening to crush the landscape around him. “Submit, and be exalted!”

     For a moment, all was silent as the boy reached up to seize the edge of the cloak.  He pulled back the cowl, gradually letting it slip past his head, and reached to his chest for the clasp that held the garment closed.  Forcing it open, he shrugged his shoulders, stepping forward and out of the cloak, letting it fall at his feet, pooling at his ankles like the shadows around him.   

     Simon Hopkins emerged from the cloak, and he stared balefully up at the form above him.  He extended one hand, and with a burst of violet flame a staff appeared in his grasp, wooden and with a crooked end.  The wind gusted behind him, ringing with canine howls that rent the silence of the heavens, and the shadowed forms paused in their lewd revelry. “I know you, Athena,” Simon declared, resolute and uncompromising, “and… I defy you.” With those words, he slammed the butt of the staff into the darkened earth, and light erupted forth, searing like the dawn of the very first day.  That light chased away the shadows, sending them flying with inhuman speed, while Simon stood his ground, staring into the sky with jaw set and eyes challenging.

     All was alight now, save for two places.  The first was one pair of shadows still writhing in their mingling.  One form, serpentine and feminine, embraced another passionately, and they both sang out in lustful voices that clawed at Simon’s memory.  Those sounds chipped at his certainty, but he forced his eyes and mind away from them, scowling up above.

     The other remaining figure was the goddess, and she met his frown with one of her own.  She leaned over him, a tsunami of divine presence, and stared into his eyes with furious challenge. “You have grown proud, and powerful,” she rumbled, and for just a moment he thought he could see pride in those immense eyes above him. “But what I do, I do for your protection.  I lost you once, Paul.  I will not lose you again.”

     Simon stared up at her, and his heart was clouded. “Paul died to protect those he loved.  I would do the same… but I would rather live for them.  I won’t hide away from a world that I can help.  I know why you have chosen to, but I refuse to abandon those I can save.” He smiled softly at the goddess above. “You loved Paul because that is the choice he made.  Don’t stand in the way of me doing the same.”

     The mountainous form of the deity pulled away, staring at him with new eyes. “You do not yet understand.  This world is damned to rot, plagued by the dying will of a hateful god and scourged by the intolerance of man.  Only I can save you, and only I can give you what you have lost.” Her eyes turned down towards the mingled figures below before returning to him. “Come to me, and be safe in the world I made for you.” 

     He said nothing in response.  Instead, he turned on his heels and walked away.  He could still hear the impassioned cries of the lovers, and their voices haunted him as he went, but he had chosen his path.  He could feel the anger of the goddess behind him, and knew she watched him go, but he did not let that slow his steps.  Instead, he stared forward, into the future he would make with his own hands.

     He had work yet to do.    




     Simon woke up to the feeling of a wet tongue lapping at his cheek. “Jus’ a little more,” he whined, but the unkind tongue lashed against his face and mouth.  He wearily batted at the face that was bathing him insistently, but Gina was undeterred, working her way from one ear to the other around the bend of his chin.  Simon stubbornly refused to waken, however, as sleep had sunk its talons deep into his brain, and so he settled from rocking his head side to side in a futile attempt to dodge the persistent washing of her tongue.

     “You really should get up, Lover Boy,” mocked a familiar voice from nearby.  He could hear Sarah’s smirk over the rustle of wind and the feeling of flowing power. “My portal will open soon, and you may want to be dressed when my master arrives.”

     Simon’s eyes shot open at the thought of meeting one of the Heroes in the nude, but he immediately regretted his haste, groaning at the piercing brilliance of the dim firelight.  He rolled over onto one side, and hesitated there for a moment.  The clawed pinch at his exposed lower cheek made him yelp, and he grudgingly rose from the comforting floor and began casting about for his scattered attire.

     Moments later, he was fully dressed, swiping fruitlessly at the dried stains on his tunic, less out of concern for the icons emblazoned on it than for the overall effect it had on his appearance.  Gina stood at his side, watching the swirling vortex ahead of them warily, and Sarah stood beside that swirling shimmer in the air, which was like a twisting heat mirage that seemed to be circling itself faster and faster.  The lich’s brow was furrowed with strain, and energy crackled at the core of that midair maelstrom as it grew to reach half Simon’s height.  Simon glanced around for the staff he had been using, and picked it up; it might make for a good gesture, returning it to its original owner, or so he hoped.

     With a whisper that rose towards a roar, the portal spun itself to greater width, swelling until it was nearly tall enough for Simon to step into.  In the center, the air had begun to waver, and strange shapes appeared in shadow, as if looking through that ring showed another place instead of the door that led into the library.  Arcane light began to flicker around the edges of the portal, and Sarah groaned in exertion as the portal wobbled slightly, almost losing its shape.

     Suddenly, however, the ring of energy stabilized, and expanded one last time.  For just a moment, Simon could see through to stone walls and shadows, but what captured his attention was the form stepping into and through the portal: a knight in full armor, sword at his side.  The figure was masculine and imposing, though the armor did not look like anything a member of the Orders would wear, decorated with figures of beasts and warriors.  As Simon watched, the knight stepped through the portal, then turned to extend a hand back into the vortex.  Someone on the other side took that hand, and he pulled her through, revealing her to be a woman also clad in armor, with flowing cerulean hair.

     The pair of newcomers glanced around the room, but the male knight locked onto Simon almost immediately, staring at the despoiled insignia decorating his tabard.  Simon stared, slack-jawed, as the man drew his sword in one smooth motion and stepped forward, too surprised to think of protecting himself.  That hesitation was nearly fatal, as the knight leveled the blade at his neck and began to swing.

     “Stop!” shouted a voice from behind the pair from the portal, and Sarah dashed in front of Simon, her arms spread wide, as Gina shoved him to the side.  Sarah winced away from the sword, which had only barely slowed its progress, but the blade stopped long before it could reach her.

     “Sarah?” echoed a voice from within the helmet. “Sarah Wulfe, is that you?” The knight sheathed his sword as abruptly as he had drawn it, and reached up with both hands to grasp his helmet.  The casque slid free to reveal a man that looked barely older than Simon, with messy brown hair, wide brown eyes, and a nose that was a touch too large for the rest of his face.  That face was immediately familiar to Simon, who had seen a younger version of it on the painting upstairs, and his mouth dropped at that confirmation of his suspicions. “I thought it was you I felt summoning me, but it’s been nearly a hundred years!  I’ve been worried about you ever since you sent that other girl using the teleportation rune I left you.”

     Sarah beamed up at the man, and for a second Simon felt something akin to jealousy, as irrational as it was. “Well, if you had come back here like you were supposed to, then it wouldn’t have been so long.  Father always believed you would be back someday, but neither of us thought it would take this long!”

     The other man laughed, a tad uncomfortably, and scratched the back of his head. “Trust me, it wasn’t planned.  I’ll tell you what happened another time; it’s not a great story.” His eyes peered over her shoulder at Simon. “But, ah… who’s your guest?” His dark eyes glinted like stone as he regarded the younger man.

     “Oh, don’t worry about him, he’s mine,” Sarah proclaimed.  She glanced back at Simon with a smile before her words reached her brain, and her cheeks darkened immediately. “I mean, he’s my… He’s a…”

     “I’m Simon Hopkins, and this is Gina,” Simon interrupted, saving her the embarrassment of continued speech. “I’m an ex-Inquisitor, and I’m with them.”

     The other man glanced from Gina to Sarah, and a broad grin spread across his face. “Let me tell you, I like that ‘ex’ part.  I’m, ah, not the biggest fan of the Orders.” At his side, the statuesque woman with the vividly-blue hair rolled her eyes subtly at the understatement. “I take it you’re the reason Sarah summoned me?”

     “Something like that,” Simon admitted. “We were hoping to find a way to get to the east, away from the church, but the Lector I used to serve has taken two of my friends hostage.  We were hoping you could help us save them.  Oh, and this is yours, I believe.” Simon bowed his head as he extended the staff towards the other man.

     The armored man pushed the staff back towards Simon. “I’m afraid Liar’s Tongue isn’t much good to me these days.  But, since you’re a friend of Sarah’s, why don’t you hold on to it?” He offered Simon a grin and extended his gauntleted hand. “I’m John Foster, and this is my partner Ceann.” The woman beside him bowed gracefully. “If you’re having a problem with the Orders, we would be glad to help.”

     Simon stepped forward to grasp John’s hand, and shook it firmly.  He smiled at the other man, fighting down the giddiness threatening to explode from him.  Now, standing before a literal Hero, he believed that they had a chance to make things right, to save Mary and Charles and themselves.  Everything they had gone through had led to this, and now they just had to take the final steps to freedom.

     “The Lector that has my friends… he will burn them at the stake.  He will probably do it at dawn in the center of town.” Simon looked around at his friends and the two newcomers. “We will have to move fast.  He has to be stopped.”

     “We don’t have much time, then.  The night is almost over,” John responded, and his smile was eager like bared steel. “Let’s talk as we go.”

     Above the mountain, the night was beginning to brighten towards daybreak, even as the five raced to the service tunnels that led towards Videre, and towards the pyres that were already being built.


Continued in “Wisdom in Shadow, Chapter 14”

Author’s Note: This chapter took a little longer than expected, although in my defense it ‘is’ a little longer than expected.  Only two chapters yet remain, and the main action will be in the next, just as it was in the last story.  Along with that, I will also post the synopsis for the third longer story in this arc, which I will confess is a different sort of experiment: an interwoven tale with several different protagonists, all coming together for the grand finale.  If you are curious, look forward to the next chapter!

I will hope to release that chapter a week from today, although bear with me if it takes longer; when I began this work, the chapters were in the upper teens in page length, but the past few have been creeping closer to double that with each release.  There is much that needs resolved in this coming chapter, so wish me luck in tackling it all…

As always, thanks for reading.  I enjoy the responses I get from this writing, and hope I’ve captured your attention enough that you look forward to all that is still to come.  I shall return soon with more!

Of course, that is, after a little bit of sleep…

~Wynn Pendragon

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