It only took us a few hours to get to the gates of Maleuhur from where we had been. Of course in that time period, I lost two more constitution points and had thrown up again. I would like to say I had never been so glad to see the gates of an underground city in my life before but it was literally the first time it had happened.
As we got closer I could see that the road dumped into an enormous cavern that spread out enough to fit a whole city inside of it. It looked like much of Maleuhur had been built on a hill and sloped upwards in the middle towards the great natural domed ceiling above.
The gate stood defiantly across the entirety of the great road and off to each side, walls of black metal stretched until they ran into the rock. On both the gate and the walls the metal twisted and sharpened into points at the top. Several watchtowers sat on top of the wall and were topped with cauldrons full of a purple flame.
All of the buildings in the city seemed to be made of the same black metal that the walls were made out of and at the top of the tallest building the same purple fires burned. It had the effect of giving the entire cavern a dim violet glow. It wasn’t easy to see in but we weren’t completely blind either, which I was grateful for.
Approaching the gate two armored guards emerged from behind the portal which had the gate raised currently. Immediately I noticed how dark their skin was. They weren’t black in the sense that Rondo was black. Actually, they made him look positively pale in comparison. Their skin was the color of onyx and one had silver hair while the other had white hair. Each wore a full set of silver steel heavy armor with red cloth hanging over the cuisses on their legs.
<Stop, state your business here,> the one on the right said in dark elvish brandishing a wicked looking sword at us.
“What did he say?” Eldertits asked whispering under her hood.
“They want to know what our business is here,” I responded quietly back. “How should I respond?”
“Tell them we’re here to sell a slave we think they’ll like,” She whispered.
I looked back at the guard and was struck by the incredibly large pupils of his eyes as well as the small crimson colored irises around them. Aside from the dark skin and these eyes he still structurally looked like an elf with the tall slight frame and pointy ears though.
<We’re here to sell some merchandise that we thought your people would appreciate,> I said to him and gestured at Elaria.
Elaria for her part looked like she wanted to murder these two on the spot and I wasn’t sure that the rope around her neck would stop her. Hopefully, she wouldn’t do anything stupid and these two would take that look as typical of an elvish slave being dragged down to Maleuhur.
<Look at this, our light sister has lowered herself to our level,> the guard said laughing to the other one.
<It’s only fitting that she ends up serving her betters,> the other guard responded.
“Did they go for it?” Eldertits hissed in my ear.
“Yeah, I think so just give me another second,” I whispered back to her.
Getting an idea I said <We’re looking for a lady Viltria, who I’m told has a taste for this sort of thing.>
Silence settled over the guards for a moment and I swallowed hard, certain that I’d just made a huge mistake, but then the guard on the right broke into a grin and he said, <Yeah, she especially enjoys watching these lights suffer. I saw her dragging one around the market just the other day, hitting its behind when it wasn’t fast enough for her.>
<Great,> I responded, <would you happen to know where we could find her?>
<I don’t know exactly where she lives, I’m sure it’s somewhere on the third tier, but even with a slave to be sold you won’t get up there without an invitation from her or another noble,> The guard responded and after thinking for a minute added, <your best bet is to check in the slavers’ hall on the second tier and let them know you have some merchandise to sell.>
<Thanks, I appreciate your help,> I said. <May we pass?>
The guards parted and allowed us to pass between before following us through the portal and into the city. I could see what he had meant by tiers as soon we got through the gate. From this side, I could see that the hill that dominated the city was terraced and I guessed that each level was a tier. A way in front of us a ramp ran up the hill and had another wall and gate running around the next level. Shit, they were going to stop us at every level and we had to get to level three to rescue this damn elf. Well, one thing at a time.
I guessed that the first tier was the one that the outer city gate was on. Like the base of a pyramid, this was the largest level and had the most buildings packed into it from what I could see. Large quantities of dark elves seemed to be out in the streets down here and every once in a while they would stop to glare at Elaria before sticking their noses up and continuing on their way. The dislike was definitely mutual.
“So where to now?” Eldertits asked limping along beside me.
“The guard back there told me that Viltria lives on the third tier, but that we won’t be allowed into that level,” I said. “He suggested we hit up the slaver’s hall on tier two instead.”
“Guess that’s a plan then,” Rondo said walking carefully so as not to yank Elaria with the rope.
We began to make our way towards the ramp passing various businesses and side streets that ran along what I was beginning to think of as Maleuhur’s main street. I really should try to get some more clothes and other supplies while we’re here I began thinking but then tripped over a loose stone and fell to the ground.
Hitting the ground hard my vision swam and I almost vomited for the third time today. I only stopped myself through sheer willpower, not wanting to make us look any more out of place than we already did.
-2 to constitution (temporary)
Ugh, I’m going to die before we can even pull off this stupid rescue mission I thought noting that my constitution was down to five. I really didn’t want to find out what would happen when it hit zero but judging by the way I felt right now, it wouldn’t be good.
Trying to get back up to my feet I collapsed again and swore. I just didn’t have any strength at the moment. Eldertits was mouthing something at me but I couldn’t make out what she was saying.
What I attempted to ask but I actually didn’t hear it come out either. Hold on Tits, it’s just so damned hot in this city. I tried to pull off my jacket but it got stuck halfway over my head. Maybe dying wouldn’t be so bad, surely it would be better than this I thought giving up and lying my head down on the ground.
I awoke sometime later in an actual bed with a wet cloth over my forehead. Reaching up I removed the cloth and sat up. The room around me looked almost modern in its design. It had a table jutting out from the wall and a couple of very straight chairs in front of it. Above this, bracketed on the wall, was a light fixture that had three small purple flames shooting up from it. I was in a queen bed and there was another one about two feet away from it with Elaria sitting on it staring at me.
“You’re awake,” she said adjusting the rope which was still around her neck and had been loosely tied around one of the chairs. “How are you feeling?”
“Like shit,” I responded rubbing my head.
This dim purple light was really starting to bother me. The sooner we were out of this place and back to the surface the better. I was not a person made out for underground living apparently.
“Where are Tits and Rondo?” I asked. “We need to get Turin and get out of this place, I’m sick of being underground.”
“You and me both,” Elaria said sourly. “As for those two they went out to look for a healer for you. It’s why I still have this damn thing around my neck, wouldn’t want a healer to come in and see a wild surface elf running around freely, would we?”
“I don’t know,” I responded leaning back against the wall, “It might be pretty funny.”
“Funny yes, but we can’t have an alarm raised or we’re all going to end up with ropes around our necks or worse,” Elaria said.
“We really shouldn’t be wasting time on a healer right now,” I said trying to turn my head but the pain caused me to stop. “This is really dangerous for you and Tits, the sooner we get Turin the better.”
“It is dangerous for us,” Elaria responded calmly, “but it’s more dangerous for us with the condition you’re in right now. In your condition, you could blow the whole mission and that puts everybody at risk. We’re safer getting you healed and back in fighting condition before continuing, trust me.”
She was, of course, correct. In my current condition, I was less than useless. Still, I didn’t like the idea of Elaria, or Eldertits for that matter, spending any more time in this city than was absolutely necessary. It’s not that these dark elves were evil like Elaria made out, but they did have as much hatred for their lighter skinned siblings as she had for them. The last thing I wanted to see was one of them end of enslaved because we had to take extra time to heal me.
“Fine,” I said feeling irritated at myself for getting us into this situation, “how long have they been gone?”
“Well Eldertits carried you up here about an hour ago and then they left immediately afterward,” Elaria responded.
“Where is up here?” I asked in response.
“We’re actually not very far from where you collapsed,” Elaria replied, “There was an inn off of the main road we were traveling on just a little bit closer to the ramp up to the next level.”
“Hopefully they’re quick, I don’t like the idea of Eldertits running around this city,” I said. “Can you imagine the trouble that one can get herself into?”
“Hopefully, even she isn’t stupid enough to draw attention to herself here, but with her, you never know,” Elaria replied.
I looked at the ranger, she was sitting on the bed and fidgeting with the noose around her neck while scowling. This had to be absolutely humiliating and miserable for her. I can’t imagine pretending to be a slave in front of a group of people I despised. Of course, that unyielding hatred wasn’t one of her finer qualities, but everyone had their issues.
“How are you doing?” I asked her.
“I’m fine, I’m not the one who collapsed,” She said sounding a little bit insulted.
“I meant with this,” I responded making a motion with my hands like I was holding rope around my neck.
“Oh,” she said, “it’s not my favorite, but I’ll live. I plan on seeing this mission through to completion and whatever humiliation I’m going through it’s nothing to how Turin must be feeling right now.”
“Did you know him?” I asked.
“No, I didn’t exactly mingle with the nobility, not that I hold that against him,” Elaria responded.
Suddenly the door to my right banged open and I almost jumped out of the bed. Rondo, Tits, and a female dark elf strode into the room. This dark elf had long silvery-blue hair and grey irises around her large pupils. She wore a long white robe which contrasted wonderfully with her dark skin and in her hand she held a long slender black staff with a blue orb mounted on top.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” Eldertits said. “Sorry it took us so long to find someone, but hardly anyone in this city speaks common apparently. Anyways this is Chane, she’s a healer who we talked into taking a look at you.”
“So you’re the husband she was telling me about?” Chane said in a deep voice for a woman while she stared at me.
“Husband?” I asked.
“Yes, this is my husband,” Eldertits said walking over and putting her arm around me. “He has a very bad case of the fish herpes like I was saying.”
“Oh yeah, my wife,” I said patting Eldertits hand, “likes her little jokes. I don’t have fish herpes but I was bitten by a fish in an underground lake and have been taking constitution damage ever since.”
“And do you know what type of fish this was?” Chane asked moving in closer and inspecting my face.
“No, I’m afraid I wasn’t able to get a good look at it,” I responded.
“Have you checked your log?” She asked checking my pulse.
I felt like an idiot. Why had I forgotten that I could check my log to see what had attacked me? Opening up my log I scrolled back until I had found where we had been attacked by the cave spiders.
4.21.78 13:15 - Ryland attempts to swim.
4.21.78 13:15 - Ryland fails swim check.
4.21.78 13:15 - Andruzzi attacks Ryland with bite for 13 damage.
4.21.78 13:16 - Andruzzi attempts strength check against Ryland.
4.21.78 13:16 - Andruzzi succeeds strength check and holds on to Ryland’s leg.
I closed my log and said, “I think it was something called an Andruzzi.”
Surprise showed at the edges of her eyes as she heard this. It’s never a good thing when you take the doctor, or healer in this case, by surprise.
Regaining her composure she said, “That is a very rare fish, even down here and their venom can cause vomiting, tiredness, constitution loss, general weakness, and usually leads to death and respawn.”
“That pretty much sums up my symptoms doc,” I replied with a weak smile, “Can you do anything for me?”
“Luckily for you, I have an antidote back at my shop,” she said. “Unfortunately, the equipment for administering it is rather large and I can’t bring it here so you’ll have to accompany me.”
“I’m always up for a stroll through the city,” I said. “Wife, dearest, would you help me to my feet?”
Eldertits practically lifted me off of the bed and I staggered as she let go of me and fell into the bed. Seeing that I wasn’t really up to walking by myself she put her hand around my back and placed my arm over her shoulders. This stabilized me and made it so I was able to walk slowly.
Rondo went over and grabbed the rope attached to Elaria and the five of us exited the room at the inn. The hallway outside of our room wasn’t bad, but the staircase at the end of it was murder. It took me a good ten minutes to get down the staircase even with Eldertits helping me out. She probably could have carried me faster but the memories of not being able to walk from my life before were still relatively fresh and I refused to go back to being an invalid.
Once we got out of the inn, Chane led us back toward the gate and then cut down one of the roads that ran perpendicular to the main one. Almost as soon as we got off of the main road the city took on a seedier look.
The buildings here, while still made of the same black metal, were more run down and a lot of them were in complete disrepair. Dark elves over here wore used and tattered clothing and a couple of them weren’t wearing anything at all.
We actually passed a group of them fucking out in the open to which Tits asked loudly, “This place is amazing, can’t we stay?”
“Don’t mind them,” Chane said to us as we walked, “we are just a more passionate people than you surface dwellers. I’ve always had trouble understanding why you bottle up your passions, but your ways are not ours.”
As she said this a couple male dark elves approached brandishing daggers and my heart dropped. We were about to be attacked in the middle of the street and I don’t think anyone was going to do anything about it.
<Look at these light skins, I think I want to carve my name in that treefucker’s face,> The one on the left said looking at Elaria.
<You have the elf, I want the human woman,> his companion said licking his lips.
I was about to tell everyone to get ready for a fight when Chane spoke up, <I have plans for these ones, and you would do well to stay out of my way.>
She glared at the two armed figures in front of us and raised her staff in a threatening manner.
<I will make these surface dwellers suffer!> the dark elf on the right said to her, <you will hand them over or we will take them from you.>
<Oh don’t worry, they will suffer,> Chane said smiling at them. <What I have in mind is far worse than was some petty street elves could do to them.>
A small lightning bolt that came from her staff struck the stone right in front of the dark elf and he backed away cautiously.
<You should have just said so mistress,> he said motioning for our group to pass.
The two drow stepped aside and we walked past led by Chane. I contemplated what she had said. I don’t know if she was just bluffing or if she meant it, either way, I had to tell the others about it because we could very well be walking into a trap.
Opening my party chat I quickly messaged the other three letting them know what Chane had just said to the other dark elves about us. I may not be able to do a lot right now, but thanks to the mechanics of this world I could simply think a message and send it to my group. This world really had its advantages sometimes.
Rondo: How do you want to play this?
Ryland: Well I don’t know if she was just saying that to try to dissuade them from attacking us, or if she actually meant it.
Elaria: You can never trust a dark elf, I say we kill her before she leads us into a trap.
Eldertits: I don’t know if you can look at this objectively Elaria. Either way, we still need the antidote for Ryland or he is going to die soon and then respawn god knows where. I say we continue along with her treating Ryland but keep our weapons close to her in case she tries anything.
Rondo: That works for me, I’ll get ready to summon my daggers and creep up close to her. Elaria you do the same, I’ll drop the rope if we need to fight her.
After the encounter with the two dark elves, we had a relatively quiet trip the rest of the way to Chane’s shop, which was on the very outskirts of town and built into the rock wall. She entered first followed by Rondo and Elaria who had moved up to be at close range in case she tried anything.
The inside of the shop looked very much like what I imagined an apothecary's shop would look like. Shelves lining the walls were full of various glass containers with all sorts of liquids and different ingredients in them.
“Through here,” Chane said walking through the main room and exiting through a door at the back of the shop.
Rondo: Should we follow her?
Eldertits: Yes, keep close to her, hurry.
Elaria and Rondo went through the doorway and Eldertits and I followed. The room back here was exceptionally dark which made it difficult for me to see anything. It wasn’t very large and most of it seemed to be taken up by a large table.
“Ryland please lay down on the table,” Chane said and motioned at it. “Could you also unequip your pants so I can get a better look at where you were bitten?”
“I like where this is going,” Eldertits said leading me over to the table and laying me on top of it.
I did as I was told and unequipped my pants which left me completely naked from the waist down. I was suddenly glad the room was very dark. If my friends were going to look at me naked all they would be able to see were rough outlines of what I looked like.
The table itself seemed to just be a flat metallic table though above and below where I lay on the table were some sort of cylindrical objects. I couldn’t make out exactly what they were or what their purpose was for.
“Any chance we can turn on a light?” Eldertits asked. “You know so we can all get a better look at this.”
“I’m afraid not, the light will make it harder for me to see during my examination of the area,” Chane responded flatly and began touching my leg near where the fish had bitten me.
“I think we’d all like to examine the area,” Eldertits responded laughing.
Chane must have picked up on her meaning because she simply chose to ignore this remark and continued prodding my leg.
“Ouch,” I yelped and jerked back.
“That hurts?” she asked me.
“Yeah, that hurts,” I replied irritated. “Let me dig my hand in a wound of yours and you see how it feels.”
“Well this is not good, the infection from the bite has spread,” Chane stated. “I’ll be right back I’m going to go retrieve an ointment.”
She left the room for a minute and came back a moment later carrying a jar of something and set it down on the table next to me.
“I’m afraid this is going to really hurt so I’m going to have to strap you down to keep you from jerking around while I apply this,” Chane said speaking to me.
“Wait, what?” I responded stupidly.
“I need to tie you down or you could hurt yourself,” she said flatly in response.
“Oh this is getting kinky,” Eldertits said from somewhere behind my head.
Chane grabbed my arms and pulled them above my heads and looped a rope around each of my wrists. Moving to my ankles she did the same thing with them and then proceeded to pull them tightly. It stretched my body in opposite directions but didn’t reach a point where it was painful.
“There is that good?” Chane asked. “Are you comfortable?”
“I don’t know if comfortable is the right word, but I’m okay,” I replied feeling nervous for what was about to happen.
“As I said this is going to hurt a lot,” Chane said removing the lid from the jar she had carried in.
Pain seared out from my leg as soon as her hand with the ointment touched my leg and I screamed. My body instinctively tried to pull away but I couldn’t because of the ropes holding me in place. This made me try to thrash even more but her ropes held steady.
“That’s it, let it out,” Chane said almost in a tone of delight. “Let it all out.”
I did let it all out. My leg felt like it was on fire and burning from the inside out. I tried to see what my leg looked like but I couldn’t make anything out between the darkness and the water building up in my eyes.
“That’s it,” she said louder, “that’s exactly what we need.”
Her grey eyes suddenly began glowing and the ropes that had been tied to me began to tighten and it started feeling like my body was being pulled apart. If I wasn’t screaming already I would have screamed at this point as a whole new wave of agony began in my midsection.
“What are you doing?” I managed to gasp between screams, “Stop tightening the ropes!”
“Exactly what needs to be done,” Chane responded calmly.
“Stop what you’re doing right now!” Rondo said putting the blade of two daggers to her throat.
“Oh does this human want to play too?” Chane asked her voice becoming crazier with each word she said.
“Fuck!” I screamed, “Stop this damn thing please.”
There was suddenly a sound like all the air being sucked out and then a boom and Rondo was flung backward into the darkness where I could no longer see him. It sounded like he had hit the wall in a crash.
“Oh, that’s it, lady!” Eldertits yelled and lept forward attempting to slash the dark elf with her axe.
She stopped in midair and was also blown backward in the same fashion that Rondo had been a moment before. Shit, no one was going to get me out of this thing now. I tried to rip the rope with my arms in my desperation and then remembered that I was fire wielding sorcerer.
Casting ignite in both hands I lit the rope around my wrists on fire and after they burned for a moment I was able to rip my arms free of them. The feeling of my body being torn apart ceased and I ended up being pulled downwards by the ropes still attached to my legs.
“Oh, he’s still got a little fight left in him,” Chane cackled. “That will make this even more fun.”
She pulled out a serrated knife and grinned wickedly. Oh shit no, I thought trying to rip my legs free of the ropes they were tied too. There was no way I was going to get out of the way before she stabbed me with that. Thinking it through quickly I came to a decision, one that I would probably regret.
I began charging a spell in my left fist as she jabbed the blade straight into my stomach. Fuck! It felt like my stomach was being ripped open and in a very real way it was. I screamed something incomprehensible and then gritted my teeth. She went to pull the blade out, which would cause further damage as the teeth sawed their way out, and I grabbed her wrist with my right hand and held it there.
Staring into her softly glowing eyes I could see that she was loving every minute of my suffering. It was practically sexually pleasurable to her judging by the way her bottom lip quivered. I hated this woman.
I jerked her arm and pulled her closer towards me, which seemed to catch her by surprise and then in one swift motion I punched her in the face unleashing my fist of the phoenix flame. She flew backward jerking the knife painfully out of my stomach. It’s jagged edges ripped open new wounds and I screamed watching her fall into the darkness.
She hit the wall a moment later and slid down it towards the ground. Elaria who had been standing near where she hit holding her bow drew an arrow and blasted it into the dark elf at practically point blank range. This caused Chane to convulse but she wasn’t quite dead yet.
I ignited the final rope holding me to the table and ripped myself free. I could feel the blood pouring out of the wound on the front of me so I paused for a moment and cast cure on myself which immediately relieved some of the pain coming from my abdomen. Thank you video game magic!
Pushing myself gingerly off of the table I limped and wheezed my way over to where the dark elf sat slumped against the wall. By this point, Eldertits and Rondo had recovered and also had their weapons leveled at her.
Reaching down I grabbed a fist full of her hair and jerked her head back so she could look at me and snarled, “Where is the cure? If you give me the cure I might let you live!”
She looked and quivering in apparent pleasure said, “I haven’t been hit like that in a long time, it felt so good.”
I opened my mouth and then shut it when I couldn’t come up with a response. Out of all the reactions I had readied myself for this had not been on the list. I stopped and thought for a moment. So this Awful, bizarre woman not only got off on the pain of others but seemed to enjoy feeling it herself. Sometimes this game was too fucked up.
“Where is it?” I barked at her. “Or I’ll do it again.”
I began charging my fist again and in the faint glow coming from my hand, I could see her shiver and then smile.
“You certainly know how to treat a woman,” She said smiling up at me.
This lady wasn’t right in the head, maybe when I hit her it knocked her senseless. That was actually the first time in my entire life both in the real world and in this game that I’ve hit a woman and this wasn’t what I was expecting to happen when I did.
“Would you please just tell me where the cure is,” I sighed exasperatedly.
“You’ll have to take me to the other room,” she replied.
Irritated I dragged her by her hair across the floor and through the door to the main part of the shop. The other three followed, never letting the points of their weapons stray far from her. Once we had entered the main part of the shop light trickled in and I could finally see halfway decent again.
Eldertits suddenly started laughing wildly and slapped Rondo on the back who looked at me holding Chane by the hair and then he started laughing too.
“What the hell is wrong with you two now?” I asked still feeling irritated.
“You look like,” Eldertits started, wiping away tears, “you’re about to force yourself down her throat.”
I looked down and saw that I was completely naked from the waist down and was holding her head not but a couple inches from my groin. I turned a shade so red at that moment that I would have probably given enough light for all of Maleuhur.
“Yes please, force yourself down my throat,” Chane said trying to edge closer to me. “Choke me until I can’t take it anymore.”
Mortified I shoved her away from me and quickly covered my privates. At this Tits and Rondo completely lost it and tumbled to the ground in their uncontrollable laughter. I quickly accessed my equipment and reequipped my pants.
Looking over I saw that I had flung Chane into shelf headfirst and she was now sporting a bloody lip. She sucked at it and looked up at me fondly. That look in her eyes sent shivers down my spine.
“Can you please just get me the cure?” I asked her loudly over the sound of my friends' laughter.
“Just for you,” she said getting to her feet and walking over to one of the shelves.
Getting up onto her tippy toes she reached up to the top shelf and grabbed a small vial of dark yellow liquid. If I didn’t already know this world didn’t have urine it, I would have thought it was that. She then walked over and handed it to me.
“Drink this,” she said.
“Drink it, that’s it?” I asked. “What was all that about strapping me to a table for.”
“That,” she said smiling, “made this a lot more enjoyable for all of us.”
I glared down at her and wanted to punch her in that smiling face again so badly but resisted. She’d probably like it anyway. I unstoppered the vial and poured it down my throat. It actually tasted a bit like urine too.
A few seconds passed and I immediately noticed the feeling of strength returning to my body and the nausea, that had been following me around for days, leaving. The icon indicating my condition vanished and I smiled. This crazy bitch had actually given me the cure.
“Thank you,” I said and asked, “What do I owe you for the cure?”
“Oh that is on the house,” She said looking at me, “but maybe you’ll come back over for playtime again as a thanks.”
I involuntarily shuddered in response. There was no way in hell I was ever going to come back to have playtime with Chane in her little shop of horrors.
“Maybe sometime,” I said and then added, “We should get going, Rondo grab Elaria.”
Rondo grabbed the rope around Elaria neck and without another word the four of us walked out of the shop and into the street.