Shiori had no idea what was going on, but she was glad it had happened. Both the pressure emitted by Neleh’s oppressive presence and the magical outbursts had suddenly stopped. The shield had been close to getting depleted, so they were all quite glad that the attacks did stop, even if the reason eluded them for now. Since the attack made by Kanako, they had all been on high alert, with Estelar also standing guard nearby. They had discovered that it had indeed been Delia who had told Kanako what was going on and had allowed entry Kanako to the Nexus. Delia had tried to help, and had no idea something like that would happen. No one really blamed her, but nonetheless Delia felt very guilty and spent almost as much time standing guard over Neleh as Shiori did.
Aneirin had been worried sick about Delia’s sudden absence and had tried to contact Delia several times, but without much luck. Estelar had mentioned to her that Delia was safe, although that remained to be seen. Delia had tried to compensate for her mistake by almost obsessively putting her strength into the shield around Neleh. In her mind, she not only tried to compensate for her mistake, but she was also worried that if the shield broke then Asheara might also be in danger. So in Delia’s mind, there was a chance of losing both Neleh and Asheara, and she herself might be to blame. She had fainted several times due to adding too much strength to the shield. Shiori knew that it was her self-imposed penance in a way, so she didn’t try to stop her.
Maylin had been unconscious for three days after the attack, but was now recovering fine. Kanako had really taken it easy on her old teacher, since the attack had only targeted Maylin’s mind, which while unpleasant wasn’t really something that did permanent damage. Damaging the minds of others was actually really difficult with magic. Something much easier to do with psionics. Alduin had been ready to rip Kanako to shreds though. The only thing that finally stopped him was Shiori reminding him that anything he did to Kanako, Neleh would be able to do thousand times worse, and Neleh would most likely want to be the first to question her. Alduin had been privy to some of the interrogations performed by Neleh during the cleansing of the elven nobility, and knew Shiori was right.
Kanako had been placed in one of the cells designed by Neleh. The cells kept the occupants unconscious and unable to use magic. The magic of the cells also sustained the occupants, so there was no need to wake the prisoners for food or other bodily reasons. Shiori also had another reason to keep Kanako unconscious and unquestioned. She had seen the magical formation Kanako had been about to use against Neleh, and it had not been like anything Shiori had seen before. She might not be able to use magic, but she did have a great memory, and she had spent a lot of time with great mages, seeing them perform all kinds of magic. Neleh had also emphasized the importance of knowing your enemy. If you could recognize the spells used by your enemy, they were much easier to avoid or prevent.
The magic that Kanako had almost used had seemed…wrong somehow. It had things in common with magic Shiori had seen before, yet it was also very different. Magic formations also often gave particular impressions to Shiori when she saw them. Normal mages magic looked sloppy but functional most of the time. Maylin’s magic looked a little wasteful, but effective and dignified. Alduin’s was also dignified but also sharp and powerful. There usually wasn’t that big of a variance between two mages, just a little something that reflected the caster’s personality and priorities, but there were two huge exceptions to that.
The first exception was of course Neleh. Neleh’s magic was almost artistic and genius, but it was also complicated beyond belief, and also a little flamboyant. Where other people’s magic was fairly simple and straight to the point, Neleh’s magic had layers upon layers of complexity, yet she seemed to cast it with consummate ease. Shiori had once tried to explain it to Delia when they had talked about Shiori’s weird ability to visualize magic, but her ability to explain had been limited. The only explanation she had been able to give at the time was as follows.
“Normal mage’s spells give the feeling of controlling maybe four variables, eight if the mage is particularly good. Neleh seems to control fifty variables, and makes it seem natural.” Shiori had a sneaking suspicion she did that half the time just to make a point, rather than for any actual need. She suspected that it was because Neleh simply knew so much more about the magic she was using, and that was due to her previous life that most people didn’t know about. It seemed to reflect Neleh’s understanding of the elements involved.
The other exception had been the spell Kanako had been trying to use with the pendant. There it wasn’t a case of complexity, but a feeling of wrongness. Whatever the spells had been aiming to do was somehow unnatural. Shiori didn’t really know the principles behind magic, but that weird spell seemed to go against those principles. That unnaturalness was the reason she didn’t want anyone to question Kanako before Neleh came back. She didn’t trust anyone else to be able to deal with something as weird as that spell had been, and she also had a sneaking suspicion that Neleh had a certain head start when it came to understanding that spell and what it implied. That was because Shiori was almost certain that spell had been something out of this world.
Now they had to wait Neleh to wake up, and that had become much easier when the attacks on the shield had stopped. There was another weird thing about Neleh now though. Neleh’s presence had withdrawn but it had not disappeared completely. Now there was this weird…pink aura around Neleh. Shiori didn’t know what it was all about, but it did make her very horny. Hopefully Neleh was thinking about her when producing such aura…
Elune’s invading fingers quickly found Neleh’s willing opening, and started their almost forceful and incessant work of caressing, tugging, plunging and stroking. Neleh started making noises, mewling, purring, hungry sounds as her opening was plundered by Elune’s fingers. Those fingers kept going until the very tip of those fingers rimmed her cervix, and her pussy spasmed from the intensity of those feelings. Their lips had been locked into an unending duel, but now her lips broke away, as her lips spread, her teeth showing in supreme joy. She welcomed this first orgasm, as it drowned out her sadness and washed away her feelings of abandonment. She reached the first pinnacle and she loved every second of it.
She let out a deep groan of “AHHHHHH!”. There was in truth, a mixture of pain and pleasure in that groan, and Elune’s ears heard both. Using her fingers she pulled, making Neleh’s body rise until a pink hard nipple popped into her mouth. Her head dipped as she sucked on the sensitive bud. Neleh’s whole body went rigid as her first orgasm carried immediately over to a second, even stronger one, caused by the multiple sensations she was drowning in. That orgasm had left her off-balance.
Elune too was off balance. Their kiss had left her panting with desire, and her pussy itched like never before. She had an insane urge to stick her hand down between her legs and rub herself into a glorious orgasm right here and now. Despite being off-balance herself, Neleh could see the restless movement of Elune, and the hunger in the goddess’ eyes. “Your turn.” She said simply, rolling on the top of the goddess.
Now it was time to show what she had learned with her own body as a model. Masturbation had become a habit for Neleh, as she could not seek out new sexual partners while bonded to Asheara. She gently spread Elune’s legs pushing them up, and spread those amazing pussy lips. She started off heavily, using her open mouth to cover Elune’s whole cunt, lapping over the lips and rolling over the clitoris. This lick was not soft and tender, because she wanted the goddess to appreciate the difference later on. She would start by eating her out hard, and slowing down later on, to a gentler caress to prolong the pleasure.
After lapping Elune’s pussy hard and fast for a minute or two, she inserted a pair of fingers inside the goddess and searched for a small rough area, her G-spot. After finding it, Neleh’s hand made a small twist and started tapping with a sort of come-hither motion, while she continued to lick Elune’s inner lips and clit.
“Oh goddess that feels good.” Elune almost screamed.
Deciding to ignore the irony of Elune’s words, Neleh’s fingers continued tapping, with her tongue still doing its thing, and soon Elune was trashing around under her face. That’s when Neleh sucked her clitoris into her mouth and lashed it with her tongue. Elune screeched with pleasure, and her hips rose from the bed she had conjured up earlier and stiffened in orgasm. That would be the last clitoral orgasm Elune would get in the next few hours, but not the only climax she would have.
After the goddess collapsed back on the bed, Neleh let her relax for a few seconds, and then started to tap her G-spot again. Neleh’s tongue stopped being rough, and started giving her soft and sweet little licks.
“I’m getting hot again, harder!” Elune gasped out.
“Nope.” Neleh refused outright, and ignored the goddess’ protests. Instead Neleh continued her tapping and little licks.
A few minutes later Elune started screeching again. “I can’t believe I’m coming again like this.” She managed to gasp out. The rest of her words became unintelligible. Her hips waved and she tossed her head back and forth. Neleh felt her second orgasm start when the goddess’ cunt tried to expel her fingers. She let the digits be pushed a little, and went straight back inside and tapped, using the same insistent rhythm she had used before. Elune wailed and went stiff, her pussy fluttering very fast, as she squirted a small amount of juices into Neleh’s mouth and over her face. They were Neleh’s favorite flavor.
Elune thought she was finished, but Neleh was just getting started. Tap, tap, tap went her fingers, and her tongue got busy again. “What are you doing to me?” Elune gushed.
Neleh said nothing, her mouth was busy.
“Whatever it is, don’t stop!” Elune said with forceful if breathless voice.
One more orgasm and she’d have the goddess where she wanted her. The moment her pussy convulsed, Neleh let her fingers pop loose, but shoved them back inside and tapped. Elune exploded, went into convulsions, and her squirting juices doubled in volume and power. She worked her, keeping her on an orgasmic plateau. The goddess didn’t have one long continuous orgasm, but the peaks came at about thirty second intervals, one after another, and each one more powerful than the one before. As Neleh waited for the big one, it came upon the goddess suddenly. Neleh jammed her fingers deep inside the goddess, and bit on the nipple that had come into reach. After so many continuous orgasms, the insides of Elune’s pussy were convulsing, and went on and on.
After a slight moment of rest. Elune turned her head looking very tired but determined. “Your turn. I’ll make you pay for that one!”
“Well that was an interesting way of bringing me out of the cloud of sadness. Not one I would have expected you to use.” Neleh said while panting, lying back naked.
“Oh shush! You were just as much into it after we started.” Elune replied a little breathless.
“I never claimed otherwise. I simply wanted to point out that it was unexpected. I have no complaints about it happening. Quite the opposite in fact. I enjoyed myself immensely, and it certainly did the trick. You have to admit that it was a little unexpected.” Neleh replied, turning her head to face Elune, who was lying on her side looking at Neleh, propping her head up with a hand.
“True enough. I also have an admission to make. I fully expect that things between us would’ve lead to this at some point anyway, but I have to admit I was encouraged to take this path a little earlier than expected. Don’t misunderstand though, I did it freely out of my own will, and greatly enjoyed it as you may have noticed. The timing was the only thing that changed.” Elune explain with a little blush.
It looked decidedly odd to Neleh, to see an almost exact copy of her own face blushing in such a cute way. “Do elaborate, please.”
“I’m not at liberty to fully explain, but suffice to say that there’s an important difference between gods and mortals. Well, there are several differences, but the one I’m talking about has to do with having offspring. To be exact, gods only need two willing participants for producing offspring, at least one of whom of course has to be female. Note the ‘at least’ part. It’s entirely possible for two females to have children when one of them is a goddess.” Elune was looking away a little ashamed. She wasn’t too happy about taking advantage of Neleh’s moment of weakness, but this was important.
“You got me pregnant?!” Neleh asked fairly shocked.
“No, that would be too much to ask without agreeing to it beforehand. Instead, you got me pregnant. You were requested specifically, while the other party was left open. I volunteered myself, for obvious reasons.” Elune explained, still looking the other way.
“What? Wait no, what about…no, what?” Neleh was more confused at that moment than she had ever been. In either life. She suddenly connected some dots in her mind. “Wait. If I was requested specifically, then the request was made by someone I know, or more specifically someone I used to know. I doubt any of my current associates have the leverage to make this type of request to a deity. That leaves someone from my previous life. Someone from my previous life made a request to be born as my child, and managed to get the gods to agree to it, and you don’t seem to begrudge it either. Your willing participation kind of removes Fate as a possibility. Whoever it is, has quite a bit of authority, and is on at least ok terms with the deities of this world. That doesn’t leave too many options. I’m guessing someone from either the Celestial Host or Inferno. Either Khali or Gabriel is behind this, I’m almost certain. While Michael is certainly twisted enough to think of something like this, it doesn’t suit his personality. This isn’t the style of the other higher-ups of the Celestial Host either. The Lords of Inferno aren’t the type to get the willing participation of local deities.” Neleh kept mumbling to herself, trying to deduce who would request such a thing.
“You can keep guessing, but I’m not allowed to tell you yet. I will tell you more later on. And I dearly hope this doesn’t damage things between us. I’d quite like a repeat performance in the future. I want you to know that this isn’t something that I would do lightly. There are quite a few important things at stake. If it hadn’t been me, then we would’ve been forced to do it some other way. I think we can both agree that this method was much preferable.” Elune said hoping that Neleh wouldn’t hate her as a result of what she was admitting.
“Well I can’t say I’m too happy about being blindsided like this, and would’ve liked some explanation beforehand. That said, I can imagine that it wasn’t something done lightly. I did enjoy the process and needed something like this. If you say that it was necessary, then I’ll give you the benefit of doubt, but know that I’m running a little short on patience about the gods dropping surprises on me like this. First the bond being severed, and now this. Tell the others that the next time there will be consequences that they won’t enjoy.” Neleh’s voice carried both understanding and firm resolve.
Elune had also noticed that there was something new in Neleh’s eyes. Something that hadn’t been there before and had now been brought in by the severing of the bond. “I think it’s about time for you to return. You have regained enough of your calmness, and those on the outside are getting worried. You’ve been gone for too long and many things are afoot.”
The first thing Neleh noticed when her mind returned to the reality was the damage to the area surrounding her. She could feel the shield and traps still in place, but the shield was severely weakened and contained mana from several people other than herself. Someone had been reinforcing it, several people in fact. It only took her a moment to realize that her presence was leaking out, albeit not very strongly at the moment. However, she could imagine that her presence might have run amok while her mind was in pain, which in turn would explain why her magic seemed to have run wild as well. She could see the tired face of Shiori looking at her. Tired but clearly happy to see her awake again. She could also sense the presence of Delia close by, and Estelar was also in the Nexus. Seems like things had gotten interesting in this place as well.
“´Morning sleepyhead! Sure took your time.” Shiori greeted happily from the door of the room. Neleh could sense that Shiori would’ve gotten closer if she had been able to do so.
“Well, you know I like my beauty sleep. Seems like things got interesting here as well.” Neleh replied with a small smile. She could still feel the pain from the loss of the bond, but it was no longer overpowering.
“You could say that. Even in your sleep you like to cause trouble for others.” Shiori explained what had happened, while Neleh undid all the traps and the remains of the shield.
Neleh stopped Shiori when she got to the point of describing Kanako’s actions with the weird pendant. “Can you describe the pendant or the magical formation that it formed? Try to be specific, please. This is very important.”
“I can do one better. I might not be able to cast spells, but there’s nothing wrong with my memory, and I got a pretty good look at the pendant before it got destroyed. I drew you a picture.” Shiori showed the drawing she had made.
The pendant had an engraving of a stylized flame shaped somewhere between a moon sickle and the letter L. The flame also had an eye at where the two lines of L would meet. The magical formation looked like a wheel of a cart, with thick arrows forming the spokes of the wheel. The magical formation was a bit unfinished, since Shiori had destroyed the pendant before it had fully formed. She had gifts in drawing as well it seemed.
“This is trouble. Big trouble. I had my suspicions before with the pleasure cults, but this confirms it. It seems that our world has drawn the eye of very troublesome enemies. What happened to Kanako? I need to question her.” Neleh said in a concerned voice. Not concerned for Kanako, but for other reasons Shiori noted.
“We have her confined into one of those cells you designed. Alduin wasn’t too gentle while transporting her due to what happened with Maylin, but she’s in one piece. I managed to defeat her without harming her too badly. What’s going on? Would that spell have been able to harm you?” Shiori asked more than a little worried. Anything that was enough to cause concern for Neleh was a big problem, and Shiori didn’t like to think that someone might be able to harm Neleh.
“I need to get more confirmation before saying anything definite, but I do know this symbol. It’s a symbol of a specific lost-deity, who was once called the Great Sorcerer. He was also known as Changer of Ways, someone who directed the fates of the people of his world. He used to take special interest in mages and wizards. He took special delight in the plotting of mortals and favored the cunning over the strong. He used to lure people with promises of great power and secrets. Promises which he certainly fulfilled, but often not in the way the poor mortals imagined. I doubt his methods have changed, even in his current state.
As for whether the spell would have been able to hurt me, it’s hard to say. The powers of the Changer of Ways are very strong but unpredictable. It would’ve altered my magic in some way, but I doubt anyone knows what the end result would’ve been. I believe it was a calculated risk that had a chance of success, but no guarantees even if you had not intervened.” Neleh explained.
“Ok, I can follow so far, but nothing you mentioned really connects with what you said about the pleasure cults.” Shiori very sharply picked up on an important point.
“The Changer of Ways probably isn’t connected to them, but he had three brothers. One of the brothers is dead, I killed him myself, but one of the others is likely behind the pleasure cults. He is known as the Prince of Pleasure. Of all the dark gods I’ve faced, he is the most difficult to combat, because he will always find followers among any race or people. He used to be the beguiling god of pleasure, seduction, corruption and immorality. All the sensual pleasures of art, music and companionship fascinate him. He is the master of luxury and indulgence, of cruel passions, hidden vices and the terrible temptations only a god can offer. Fits well with the description of the pleasure cults, does it not? No race is immune to his ways, which is what makes him so dangerous.” Neleh said with a little shudder. Even she wasn’t immune to the lure that the Prince of Pleasure offered. Such was the power of enjoyment. The longer someone lived, the bigger the danger of boredom became. Boredom was the most dangerous enemy of any immortal, and the Prince of Pleasure offered ways to combat that boredom.
“You said three of them survived. If all three of them threaten us, it might be good if I knew about all of them.” Shiori prompted.
“The third one is the most powerful of the brothers by himself, a god of war best described by the war cry of his followers. ‘Blood for the blood god, skulls for the skull throne.’ He favors those who fight for what they desire and respects strength and martial skill. It would be a mistake to assume the Blood God is a simple brute, for a god of war is the master of the battlefield in all its forms.” Neleh explained.
“You said you killed one of them. Can they be here for revenge?” Shiori asked suddenly.
“While that is not wholly impossible, I doubt it. I call them brothers, but they are also rivals and often enemies. They might harbor ill will towards me, but not out of any brotherly feelings. Rather, they might think it an insult that someone besides themselves killed the fourth brother. They should not be able to recognize me either. While there are some similarities with my current self and my old life, more has changed. It is likely that they simply view me as either a hindrance or a possibility. It would make things easier for them, if they managed to lure me into their service or if they managed to remove me.” Neleh mused.
After a moment of silence, Shiori mentioned something that suddenly occurred to her. “Oh right, your lengthy absence was noted by people, and rumors are everywhere ranging from your death to a secret pregnancy. You should probably have some sort of great new invention that you can claim you were spending all this time developing.”
Neleh had almost lost her poker face at the mention of secret pregnancy, but had managed to keep her cool. She had also planned for this possibility. “In fact I do have something I’ve been saving up. It should be spectacular enough to justify my absence, and will be of great help with future projects.”
Neleh spent days interrogating Kanako. She wanted to avoid triggering any magical traps, similar to the one that had killed the Harbinger in the faerie lands. She also wanted to avoid using her most unpleasant methods out of respect for the time she had spent with Kanako in the past. That resolve crumbled further along she got in questioning the naga.
Shiori, Delia, Estelar and Alduin were waiting for her, when she finally emerged from the arduous process. Delia wanted to know what had happened to her friend and Alduin felt like he deserved an explanation after what had happened to Maylin. Shiori’s and Estelar’s presence was obvious. They dealt with the security of the duchy, and any threat to that security was important to them.
“Alright, what I’m about to explain is partly formed by what I managed to dig out of her, while some of it is my own conjecture and some educated guesses. So take everything I’m about to say with a grain of salt.” She started off.
“I’ve never seen you make completely wrong guesses or speculate totally off base, so I think I’m just fine.” Estelar said gruffly, getting murmurs of agreement from the others.
“Well, to understand what happened, we need to understand what drives Kanako. Her raison d’être has always been becoming useful to her family. They almost drove her out in order to avoid embarrassment, and she would do anything to make a triumphant return. Whatever else she might say, this has always been the motivating force behind her actions. She didn’t start out as a bad person, and even now it is simply a matter of point of view. She did what was asked of her, and what she considered to be the best way to reach her goals. Of course, I’m not likely to sympathize with an attempt on my life.
At first, it was completely by chance that she was put in a room with me, and made friends with me. If that had not happened, she might have faded into obscurity and not been important to anyone’s plans. However, as my fame and importance grew, so did the importance of the connections she shared with me. Some parts of her family are deeply connected with the Consortium, and they encouraged her to form deeper bonds of friendship with me. This seemed innocent enough, and was something she wanted to do anyway, so she didn’t see the harm. Then it turned into requests of information and spying. They might have asked for more, but apparently there was a shift in the control of the Consortium that mixed their priorities a bit.
Apparently a third party took control of the Consortium in the last two years, and their goals were a little different from the original. They became more brazen and cared less for Kanako personally. They too viewed my friendship with Kanako as a great possibility. The only problem is that I was spending less and less time with her, and the value of that friendship was going down in their eyes. Luckily for them, Kanako had managed to befriend Delia, but that friendship was less valuable for them. So once they heard about what was going on with the bond, through Delia, they decided to play a risky card with a large potential pay-off. This was the attack Kanako made. They knew this would burn any usefulness of Kanako in the future, but they took the chance anyway. Not like they were losing much even if they failed.” Neleh finished with a deep sigh.
“Was she controlled? We didn’t want to take a risk by checking for mind affecting magic, but it somehow seems unlike Kanako to do something like this.” Delia asked a little desperately, wanting to believe the best of her friend. This brought a snort from Shiori, who had suspected Kanako’s motives for a while. Shiori also had a better grasp on the darker side of the nature of people than the older but still naïve Delia.
“There is no sign of any mind affecting magic being used. Unfortunately, with enough time and effort it’s possible to convince people to do almost anything. This is made infinitely easier if the person’s own motivations line with the person doing the convincing. That’s how all cults work. You start with something small and innocent. The demands get slightly bigger, and you don’t really see the problem with something that small, and you justify it to yourself when it helps to fulfill your own wishes. Later on when the demands get really bad, it’s too late to back off, and the only thing that matters is the large reward at the end. Apparently the Changer of Ways promised Kanako enough power to make her important in the eyes of her family. What she had to do paled in comparison with the fulfillment of her greatest desires. They might have used some slight magic to smooth over some of Kanako’s qualms about things, but she basically went into this with her eyes open and mind unaffected by magic. She chose to do this.” Neleh’s voice had gotten quite dark towards the end.
That tone was something that reminded Shiori of the slight change she had seen in Neleh’s eyes after waking up. There seemed to be some new coldness present. Delia was crying over the loss of her friend, and her own inability to spot what was going on. Nobody else blamed her, but she blamed herself. Alduin was the one to ask the important question. “What happens to Kanako now?” He was less inclined to be merciful than others due to her wife getting affected.
“Now that is a very good question.” Neleh said with a sigh.