“You’re fine,” I assured Glasses. “You shouldn’t have to go to such lengths to make yourself acceptable for any man,” I stated blankly. “If a man can’t accept you for who you are, he’s not worthy of you.” It was my honest to goodness true feelings.
“Just why the hell would you go so far, to throw yourself into endless servitude to a man you’ve never met before?” I had to ask.
“To learn.” Glasses answer was instant. She needed no time to think on what she wanted to say at all.
“I’m not rich like the students of the school here,” Glasses admitted freely. “I don’t have the coin to pursue my studies like others. I have some magic which I can use for minor healings and such, but my main passion is learning itself.”
“Languages. Histories. Races and Lores. All of these appeal to me,” Glasses grinned, “but my true love is always beyond my reach, just at the tip of my fingers – Alchemy.”
“The costs of beakers, vials, tubing, bottles, and such is extravagant. Add in the cost for books and inks to properly document experiments, and it’s an overwhelming burden for all but the wealthiest families. And when you add in the costs of ingredients,” Glasses slowly hung her head, “its an art which is beyond the grasp of those without limitless resources or connections.”
“I’d never be able to learn and advance in alchemy without a sponsor,” Glasses sighed, head hung low. “I thought I was going to have to abandon my dreams,” she whispered, “but then the Lord Moonweaver made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – swear a bloodpact to properly obey and serve a young lord of his choosing, and he’d sponsor and fully fund me until my twenty-first year, at which point, it’d be my lord’s duty to take over my expenses.”
A lifetime of faithful servitude, for the cost of maybe five or six years funding. It seemed to me that the young lady was getting gipped in the deal.
“And what happens if you can’t convince me to accept you into my service?” I needed to know, before making any real decisions.
“I’ll be disposed as a slave, doing whatever the Lord Moonweaver decides,” Glasses told me dispassionately. “I don’t believe that’ll happen however. As long as you’re willing to tell me whatever you wish from a servant, I can meet your requirements perfectly.”
In some ways, it was impressive that Glasses felt she could meet any requirement a man might toss at her. In another, it was sad she didn’t have that much confidence in her ability to fund herself and learn independently. One thing I was certain of though, I really didn’t think ending up a voiceless play thing for drunks and bastards at a tavern suited her.
“I’ll take you,” I uttered, still staring at her perfectly sculpted body. “How do we do this?”
“Easy, Mi’Lord. I’ve been preparing the ritual for the promising for the past lunar cycle, or so.” Grinning broadly, Glasses finally put her arms down and closed her legs. Grabbing my arm, she tugged me up and towards the bedrooms further down the hall, where Jewel was still sleeping.
“Sorry ladies,” she called out to Red and Victoria, “but the blooding is a private ritual. You’ll just have to wait here for now.”
The scene before me reminded me of what could’ve only been called a “sacrificial ritual” in a story from Thomas’s former life. Incense lined the floor near the walls, giving off a hazy smoke which fogged the room. A circle of silvery powder sat prominently center in the bare room, strange runes painted both inside and outside it. A flawless naked woman – Glasses in this case – danced and chanted words in a strange and foreign language.
Some unseen force – magic, I’m guessing – gripped the foggy smoke like a hand, pulling it ever denser around Glasses. Growing ever thicker, the fog eventually congealed into a solid curved dagger. As the smoky dagger hovered beside Glasses, her dance became even more erotic and energetic.
Twirling circles around me, Glasses reached into the back of her hair and produced a single small piece of paper from somewhere. Holding it towards me, she interrupted her foreign chanting long enough to tell me, “Take it. You must be willing to make at least these promises in return.”
Reaching for the small note, I opened it gingerly. Written on it, in very small, excessively neat handwriting, was what reminded me of a simple grocery list.
*promise to allow free research of my own choosing
*promise to never interfere with said research
*promise to accept that though I’ll try my utmost to succeed, not all research bears the expected fruit. Success is strived for, but failure is always a possibility.
*promise to fund and support my research when MG’s sponsorship fades
*promise to never sell, transfer, or trade me ~ neither while living or after death
*promise to provide the basic necessities for my personal substance
Six basic promises, with two-thirds of them promises over her research and only the very minimal concern about herself. I couldn’t help but find them depressing, and had to wonder what type of life Glasses had lived to become so desperate. I suppose I’ll have to ask her in private, once the ceremony is finished later.
“I can make these promises, with one difference,” I told her as she still danced erotic circles all around me. “I’ll fund your research to the best extent that I’m able. No one knows what fortune the future might hold, and I don’t want to have to go into debt or slavery just to attempt to keep my promise.”
“Agreed,” was the single word Glasses uttered, as she continued her endless chanting.
“So how do I do this? Just repeat the promises?”
“Knife. Bleed self. Promise.” Very short answers, as Glasses didn’t seem to want to interrupt her chanting long enough for anything more elaborate. I suppose she really didn’t need to say anything else. The intent of the instructions was clear enough.
Sighing, I slowly reached out my hand, and grasped the handle of the dagger as Glasses completed another circle around me. Cold and damp, it had a feeling of wrong about it, though I can’t explain it any better than that. Taking several deep breaths, I slid the blade quickly across the top of my hand, leaving a deep, open gash.
I figured at the rate I heal, I’d need a deep cut to get sufficient blood for the promise. Imagine my surprise when the wound failed to close up, and blood drained seemingly endlessly down my arm and onto the circle in the floor!
“Hurry,” Glasses urged, sounding frantic.
“Fine.” I don’t know how much blood my body can produce, or how quickly it can restore what I lose, and I really wasn’t in the mood to try and find out. I certainly didn’t want to bleed to death here, before we actually finished the ritual.
“I promise to fund your research to the best of my abilities, so long as it doesn’t disrupt our quality of life. I promise to allow you to freely choose and explore your own subjects of interest, and I won’t interfere with that research. I’ll never sell, transfer, or trade you – neither while we’re living, nor even after death. I’ll do my utmost to provide what’s necessary not just for your survival, but I’ll also try and provide for your happiness and security, as much as fate allows. I promise that I’ll only ask you to do your best with your research and studies, and I’ll do my utmost to be understanding when things don’t always turn out as expected.”
“By all this damn blood that’s spilling all over the place,” I finished, “all these things, I promise.”
As I finished my oath, the force holding the dagger together faded, and it quickly transformed back into nothing more than dense trails of smoke which drifted and floated in the air. The wound on my hand rapidly closed up finally, and all the blood which was splashed down my arm and pooled heavy upon the ground, slowly floated to form a red ball in the center of the circle.
Cold, hellish blue flames erupted from nowhere, engulfing the ball of blood. Sizzling and popping erratically, the flames danced carefree across the ball, slowly evaporating the blood until only a small dense stone of purest black remained hovering in the air.
The black stone hovered for several moments, as Glasses continued her endless chanting and bawdy dancing, before a hellish rip of fire and brimstone cracked open in the air behind the stone. A long red-skinned arm, ending in a flaming hand with long ebon-black nails, casually reached through the rift in space, and closed upon the stone.
As the demonic hand disappeared back into the rip in space, taking the bloodstone with it, Glasses suddenly quit dancing and chanting. Falling to the ground like a marionette with it’s strings suddenly cut, she struggled to lift her head to watch as the portal slowly closed.
“It’s finished,” she laughed, gleefully. “Now I’ll have someone to always fund my studies, with no need to promise results.” Her eyes sparkled wildly, as she slowly stood up and stretched. An evil smile coldly flashed across her face, as she smirked directly at me. “We can leave now,” she chuckled, darkly. “I’ve gotten what I wanted.”
As she turned and casually strode towards the door, my heart sank deep with the dark feeling of betrayal. I’d made my oaths in good faith. Now, where the hell was hers?