“A Dwarf up ahead, feels like only one” XOTӔL whispers to us, stopping and turning to face us. Her face lit up by the fame in her hand. “I suggest I douse my flame, and Dante approach first to introduce us and ask for passage up into the mountain.”
“I think that’s a great plan” Marcus adds, keeping his voice low.
“Okay” I guess I have no choice. I walk past XOTӔL as she extinguishes the flame in her hand. “Stay” I command Cerberus, watching as he sits next to Marcus. I make my way through the tunnel, away from my friends.
Standing in front of a boorish looking door, is the Dwarf. He is average height, about 4ft tall, stocky with a long gnarly beard and coarse bushy gray hair under a metal helmet, a dwarven axe in his hand.
“Heyy..lo” I smile at him, feeling foolish.
“Heylo, whatareya doin down here” He looks amused but harmless, despite the axe.
“My travel companions and I were hoping to seek refuge in your mountain. We came through the tower at the edge of the wood.” I explain, trying to look sympathetic and harmless.
“Dunnobout all that” the Dwarf looks uninterested now “but these tunnels have been abandoned for a long time. Yer the firstun ter come outta there since I started my post bout 3 decades past”
“We would really appreciate if we could just continue along to the mountain, we’re trying to get through Gilramore to Edipsos” I’m getting nervous, what if he doesn’t let us up? Marcus has my pack with the weapons in it, and Dwarves are notorious for their skill in battle.
“Mightdo ter call sumun ter lead ya up.” His words run together, but he pulls out a small gilded whistle from inside his pocket and gives it a blow. I don’t hear anything but it must have worked because a low rumbling comes from somewhere behind the door.
“Great, thanks” I turn to grab my friends as the rumbling increases
Dante’s form disappears down the tunnel and around a curve. I hear Chloe’s sharp intake of breath as the flame is extinguished, and see her hand creep up to grasp Marcus’ arm.
“Can’t even see an inch in front of me” Marcus sounds uneasy.
“It’s alright, I can see” I remind him.
“That doesn’t help us” whispers Chloe “that only helps you.”
We stand in silence a couple minutes, I see Chloe flinch and then almost immediately we feel a deep rumbling coming from the direction of Dante and the dwarf. Dante re-appears around the corner and waves his hand. “Dante is waving us along” I inform the other two and we make our way toward him.
“Cerberus, come” he hisses down the tunnel, and like a streak Cerberus is at his side.
“What is that” Chloe sounds concerned as we meet up with Dante and follow the curve.
“I’m guessing some kind of elevator, it started after the Dwarf blew a whistle” Dante continues walking
“I didn’t hear any whistle” Marcus states.
“Nor I” I answer truthfully. I have an inkling Chloe heard it, elves can hear on a higher frequency, as can dwarves.
“Did you tell the Dwarf you have a Dӕmon companion” my thoughts spoken aloud.
“I didn’t mention it” Dante admits as we come upon the dwarf and the door.
“Ahaha, Humans and a … a creature” the dwarf smiles at us, “right this way.” He ushers us through the now open door where a slightly shorter dwarf is standing in a large metal cage.
“Cmonthen” the dwarf waves us into the cage “aintgotallday.” I wonder when they will learn to separate their words. Eons of speaking faster than they think, I surmise. We start our ascent as the door closes, Cerberus sitting directly in front of his master.
“Whatareya doin down here” the dwarf poses the question.
“Long story” Dante sounds slightly exasperated “happy to tell you over a pint.”
Looking thoughtful for a moment, the dwarf seems to agree with “That’lldo.” No more questions come as the cage ascends into a chamber, glowing with torch light.
Awaiting us when we reach out destination is a female Dwarf. Long lashes framing her copper eyes and very little facial hair make the distinction between her and the male.
“Tisnightaready, but yer welcome ter stay in a guestrum” her eyes twinkle as she bows us out of the cage “yullbeasked ter turn over yer weapons an’not leave the rum”.
“Agreed” offers Dante, handing her his entire pack which he retrieved from Marcus only moments before.
“Wunderfall, thisway” She leads us through a corridor, then another, a left turn, up some stairs, down a third corridor, more stairs, a right turn and stops in front of a large door with a smiling fairy carved into the wood.
“Hereyago” She pushes open the door and leads us into the room. Using a torch from outside the door she lights lanterns and torches around the room. There are 4 beds spaced out in the large chamber, and a door along the right wall.
“I’llbe sendinup sum food soonas I git ter the kichen” Her round cheeks becoming rounder with her smile.
“Thank you” we echo in turn as she bows out of the room.
“Mine” Chloe doesn’t waste a single moment before rushing through the door on the right.
Marcus lets out a deep sigh as he plops face first onto a bed and starts snoring, without even taking his shoes off.
“I’ve never been in a Dwarven castle” I whisper to Dante, feeling self-conscious.
Dante is settling Cerberus on a rug near the window.
He smiles and stifles a yawn as steam creep’s out from under the door in the wall “there is nothin’ like Dwarven hospitality.” I watch as he walks toward the door and raps on it with his knuckles “I gotta pee, I’m coming in” he announces as he pulls open the door and enters.
I cautiously examine the room, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a small table with four chairs and four beds. There’s a light tapping at the door, I watch as it opens and a small creature enters the room carrying a tray of food and a pitcher of amber liquid. They set it down and bow out of the room. There’s an assortment of fruits, dried meats, cheese, vegetables and breads. I select a light-colored cheese and a hunk of break. The scent of warm yeast and creamy butter hit my nose and my mouth waters.
I’m on my third helping of snacks when Dante and Chloe emerge from the room, his hair is freshly damp with a towel around his waist and his hourglass hanging against his bare chest. Chloe is dressed in a clean robe that looks like it would fit Marcus. Rage wells up in my stomach and I’m not sure why.
Dante must have seen my face change because he is looking at me concerned “Are you okay?”
“Tummy ache” I lie, to cover the jealousy raging inside my stomach. Why am I jealous? I must miss my Amara more than I realized, and being closer to her now than at any point since she was taken must have my emotions all over the place.
“We didn’t shower together, there are two stalls in there” Chloe offers, seeing the look on my face, and nodding her head toward the door. She joins me at the table and stacks meat and cheese together before taking a bite. Dante takes one of the remaining two chairs and selects a lychee fruit and a strawberry.
“Why did they take your weapons” I ask between bites, my eyes following a drop of water making its way down Dante’s chest. He really is a fascinating specimen of human.
I feel XOTӔL’s eyes on me as I chew on a piece of bread, I answer as soon as I swallow. “It’s just how they do things. In case there’s a feud between any guests, no one has weapon. It’s also a show of respect, I’m disarmed and therefor I can’t attack my host.”
She looks thoughtful, her pale skin glowing in the candle light, her hair tucked over one shoulder and her long leg propped up on her chair. I wouldn’t have minded if she had joined me in the shower
“Could you... Will you show me how it works” XOTӔL points at the bathroom.
“Of course, are you ready now?”
She nods and stands up from her chair, looking uncertain. I lead her into the bathroom, showing her the set up of a shower stall. “Most castles and building in Lysandros have indoor plumbing. Hot water and cold water, indoor toilets” I gesture toward each as I explain it. “When you’re finished there are robes and towels in here” I open a cabinet behind the door “they’re here for guests to use. And this” I point to a small machine in the corner “will wash our clothing while we sleep tonight.”
I wait to see if she has any questions, but she doesn't seem to. I watch as she fiddles with the taps in the shower, adjusting the water temperature and looking shocked and confused. As she moves to pull her blouse over her head, I excuse myself from the bathroom to give her privacy.
I don’t think I’ve ever realized the difference between Encantadia and Lysandros. It seems like we are much further advanced than they are, we have portable phones, indoor plumbing, computers and can harness energy from the sun. It’s thanks to sorcerers that all this is possible of course. I would have thought they learn about us, as we learn about them, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
I return to the table, and pour a glass of ale. Chloe is finishing hers and I notice a significant dip in the amount of food on the platter.
“Marcus was right, how do you eat so much and stay so tiny” I poke her side with my finger and she squirms away smiling.
“Dunno, but I’m exhausted. Goodnight.” She plants a kiss on my temple as she leaves the table, heading for a bed next to Marcus. She pauses at his bedside and pulls off his shoes dropping them onto the floor before climbing into her own bed.
I stand up and start extinguishing lights around the room, I leave a lantern with a low flame on the table and another next to the bed I select. There’s only one bed left, between mine and the wall.
I better check on XOTӔL. The steam hits me like a train as I pull open the door to the bathroom. I tap my knuckle on the stall door, feeling the heat through the sheet of treated wood that serves as a stall door. “Are you doing okay?” I ask tentatively, hoping she didn’t accidently scald herself.
The door swings open and she’s standing there, dripping wet. “The water doesn’t get quite hot enough” she explains wringing out her hair onto the floor. I can feel the heat coming off her body from a meter away.
“How hot do you need it” I ask trying my hardest and failing not to stare at her nakedness.
“I use water bubbled over fire or for a real treat one of the rivers that run under the mountain near my village. I believe it’s heated from the lava” She seems unfazed from admitting she bathes in water that would melt my skin off.
“Okay…” my eyes are glued to the patch of hair between her thighs.
“What’s wrong” She asks puzzled, following my gaze with her eyes “is something the matter?” She sounds concerned.
“No, no. I’m sorry” I squeeze my eyes shut “I’m sorry. You’re just so beautiful. I can’t stop thinking about it.”
“Ah, yeah that is understandable. You’re rather attractive as well, for a human, a male human.”
I turn away from her before opening my eyes, and cross the small room to grab her a robe and a towel. I hold them both out toward her, keeping my eyed averted and hating myself for blatantly staring at her.
“You can stare if you’d like. I don’t mind it” She takes the towel and robe, her fingers linger on my arm, sending a jolt straight to my groin.
“No, it’s really creepy ha-ha, I don’t know why I’m laughing, I’m nervous, I’m sorry” My tongue feels too big for my mouth, my hands are sweating and I don’t think its because of the humidity in the room. I feel her hand trace up my arm, to my shoulder. I open my eyes slightly and see she’s moved in front of me, the robe and towel hanging over the stall door. Her hair looks like it’s already dry as I open my eyes wider and take her in. Her skin is smooth and the color of pale moonlight. Her breasts are full and round, peaking into pale pink buds. Along both her hips are markings, tattoo’s. On her right thigh is a bandage, similar to the one she had wrapped around my leg. The white fabric looks dingy against her skin. Between her thighs, a patch of hair, as black as the night sky without a moon.
“Hm?” Her soft voice jolts me back to the situation. Her eyes are smoldering and her lips are full and inviting.
“I uh… I….” I swallow hard then her lips are on mine. Soft as the petal of a rose. The initial shock fades to acceptance as she wraps her arms around my neck. I’m not aware of moving my arms, but I can feel her hips under my palms, her skin almost too hot to touch. She’s pressing against me as her tongue slips between my lips and I invite her in.
Everything happens so fast, she’s perched on the edge of the counter with her legs wrapped around my hips, my towel is on the floor and the sounds of two becoming one fill the bathroom.
It’s over as fast it began. We’re both panting. He looks shocked and satisfied. I reach toward the robe over the stall and wrap it around myself as I hand him the towel, kicking the one he lost toward the laundry machine.“We should rest” I fill the silence of the room and head toward the main chamber. The shower was nice, but it could have been hotter. The sex was satisfying. It’s good to de-stress after an adrenaline rush, now I’m exhausted. One bed looks undisturbed, next to the wall, it’s warm and inviting as I climb in. Dante extinguishes the remaining torches as he makes his way to the last bed, positioned between mine and Marcus. The soft sounds of Chloe breathing and Marcus’ gentle snoring fill the room. Soon Dante’s soft breathing join them.