They screamed and they kicked a lot more than he had, swearing up a storm before trailing off and realizing they were all now Tattoo Artists, or could smith. The last two were held down by the first two, and kicked and screamed just as much as the others.
Briggs just sat there and watched it all, and they glowed under his gaze. He knew they could take it, and they loved proving him right.
My mental /voice woke them all up once they were all Marked, and then I ushered them into the Markdoor. I noted out the list of Requests they could auto-send me to form an Echoroom so they could talk to one another directly by way of my headroom, and they all kind of stared at me with the same look they’d have for a very dangerous person in their midst.
Apparently, my mental voice was even more ferocious than my appearance. Who knew?
“And please don’t use my head for sex-chatting,” I rolled my eyes at them. “The fact I can automate Requests from you doesn’t mean I can’t hear you. I may not be paying attention, but it’ll all be back there in my memory, and I can remember everything said, broadcast, whatever. And I can blithely share it with everyone, or I can cut you back to Only Receiving, which kind of defeats the purpose of this.”
Four hands promptly rose. I slowly arched an eyebrow. They grit their teeth, but the hands only wavered a moment before staying up. “Yeeeeeees?” I asked slowly.
“Grandmaster Sama, I thought one of the great things about telepathy was being able to share the experience with your sexual partners,” piped up a very unrestrained redhead by name of Sofie.
I blinked. Well, definitely not very inhibited. “That’s true. But, you would also be sharing them with me.” That got the look on their faces I wanted. “Now, if you both of you are Marked, you can touch-speak all you care to.” They looked at one another, hands shot out, and I could feel hums around my Mark, but not through it. Their eyes all lit up with smiles. “And yes, that’s going to be nice for silent operations and making out. But you’re not going to be sharing your lovers with me, or I might just share mine with you.
“And that would be bad.”
I think they all twitched in exactly the same way, and they certainly gave me a once over in exactly the same way. Proud and gorgeous, wondering exactly what I could offer a man that they could not.
“I think I might want to leave the room?” Briggs said, starting to rise.
“Down, boy.” I put a finger on his collarbone, and he grunted as he sat back down. “Girls. Ladies. Amazons. You know how the Level system works, right? Advancing Tiers of Mastery, Feats, Skill Ranks. All of it comes with Levels.” They nodded slowly, wondering where I was going with this. “So, let’s talk about untrained sex versus trained sex. Do any of you have Skill Ranks in Seduction, a Feat that allows the same, or Skill Ranks in Courtesan or Prostitute?”
Their expressions all changed. Amazons were NOT seductresses...
“You do know the difference between someone with Ranks and Masteries and Feats and someone who does not have them, right? Now, I’ll be happy to tell you that sexual foreplay is a Charisma check. But actual activity, that’s a Con check.
“Now, of the people gathered here, who has Con scores of 22ish, and who has a Con score of 44?”
Their faces all changed again.
“Who has 10 Ranks in an appropriate Skill, and who has nothing but untrained enthusiasm?”
Even Briggs swallowed at that.
“And who has Five Tiers in the Night Rose School, and a couple Feats relevant to that?” Their mouths were opening and lips going dry. “Who has a Diamond Vajra and can rake their living hair over your soul like a million gossamer strands singing to your spirit?
“And who has a sex drive at least three times as strong as yours?”
They all flinched back in their seats as I shared the Burn with them. Except Briggs. He didn’t need to feel this right now. But he could look at them and just imagine, because they were responding despite themselves.
And I edged the /Doors closed, and they all gasped as I let them go.
“You are little children mewling about in the dark with your perfect bodies. That’s fine, I understand it, go have fun. But dears, you are messing with a professional.” I held up my index finger, black nail almost glowing with polish, and they all stared at it. “I can take this nail, start at your forehead, trace it down your nose and lips and chin and throat and clavicle and aureole and diaphragm and four-pack, and down to your navel.” They all let out breaths at the singsong cadence of my words breaking over them. “And you will beg me to take you to bed tonight, and then, then you will realize that I have Nine. Other. Fingers.” I flipped them up like unsheathing blades. And then I gently shook my head of improbably long hair. “And then, my hair…”
I smiled with the sharpness of a Sword. It wasn’t pretty, far from it. They still all swallowed as they looked at me, and realized they were all so much less than the ugly woman at the head of the table.
“So, no sexting in the back of my head, ladies.” The sharp snap and change of my voice made them all jump, made them realize I was playing them like fiddles, and they couldn’t stop it.
They all got a little more afraid of me. That was good.
“Now, let’s finish up here, lady geniuses. I want schedules of who is getting Marks. All your subordinates are getting Intellect Marks. You pick the Craft or Trade, in addition to Concentration. Arrange them, I need to know ahead of time, you are being endowed with MY knowledge of those skills.” They blinked. “Yes, part of me is now in your heads. Congratulations, you can now concentrate just like me.” They all blushed despite themselves.
“Then,” I cracked my knuckles, “we’re going to get you all started on Runesmithing or making Soul Tats. The need is huge; tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people. You’ve all got the Levels to at least start the Tats and get the Primos soldiers of the area tapping their Souls. You’re Amazons, and you are force magnifiers. Start throwing some plans and numbers and schedules at me.
-I’ll show you all how to use a Visual File while we do it,- I /said to them.
-Well, that was the most utterly dominated they’ve ever been by a woman. They take it from the Powered with a grain of salt, but from a Null? Impressive.- Briggs /told me.
-Hags got no sympathy for Amazons,- I /half-laughed back to him. -We can go over particulars later.-
-Later?- he /asked.
-Tonight. And I’ll make you forget all about the ouchies while doing it, too.-
He /swallowed. -Ah, thought I was keeping my cool pretty well there.-
-Nope. Surprised me, actually. Am I really that appealing to you?- I /wondered aloud.
-Well, yeah. Shocked the heck out of me, too. I’m picturing your teeth biting me all over right now and it’s making it really hard to control myself.-
-Oh, my, no no no. You have to EARN the teeth. That’s like, in hour six or so.-
-Valus save me. Am I going to make it that long?-
-A big strong Source like you, subbing Str for Con checks? How many Ranks do you have in Amatory Arts?-
-Uhh, for some reason it just wasn’t a priority…-
-Then let’s just say, not a chance.-
-Well.- He /swallowed again. -That Null of yours is so awesome. It feels like cool water pouring all over my Source. I want to put my hands on it and feel it running over my fingers…-
-Yeah? That Source field of yours is extremely ticklish.-
-Is that so?- He seemed to take some heart from that. -Ticklish, eh? So I’m like a big fuzzy bear?-
-A big, very warm, and fuzzy bear. Ahhhh, I’m definitely going to enjoy this. So are you, what you remember of it. I’ll make sure you can still walk tomorrow...-
-Gods in Heaven. I think I’ll go pray to Nuava even if She can’t hear me.- He was definitely looking forwards to this. -Uh, any pushback from the girls?-
-Pretty much all of them want me to take them to bed.- He nearly choked. -What? Do you really want to know what my modifier is for those kind of checks?-
There was a long pause. -I don’t think you’d tell me,- he /conjectured.
I smiled. -Smart man. And their instincts of being repelled by me went away as soon as a part of me got installed into their heads, at least on the telepathic level. I told them to just wear a blindfold, and we’d get along fine.-
-Um. Is that... dangerous? I mean, personality altering? Mind control?-
-If they were children, yes. As 18 Stat-across-the-line geniuses, no. Likewise, your Stat line and Skills should utterly dominate whatever I give you, and you’re a Source, anyways. Mindbending you should basically be impossible.
-Now, the animals I’ve been Marking do think a lot like me, which should be no surprise at all, except for the fact they’ve got an Int of 6, and the reason they’re sentient at all is because of me. I’m working on Awakening Circles for dogs, horses, bulls, cats, birds, and Other Miscellaneous Critters. I’m using a 3/day model, shrink the Valence by species restriction, raise it back to V by shortening the time to 8 hours.-
-And getting three of each per day, without overly stressing the Powered. Ah, I love Runecrafting. I think I should be able to help with those.-
-Don’t bother, stick with what you are doing. I know you can actually Smith faster than I can and haven’t bothered to tell anyone. Get your ladies properly Equipped. Once I Mark them you’ll have hundreds more Runesmiths to help you out on making Gear for them and the other Primos.-
-We’re going to be going through gold like water,- he /mused.
-A good thing the Eternal Helm is pulling a thousand goldweight and more out of the mines every day in the Charlands, eh?-
-Which sounds impressive until you realize we could use up a hundred times that without batting an eye... and all mines run out eventually,- he /pointed out soberly.
-Especially when you’re using Elementals to do the mining and not wasting time and energy on blind tunnels,- I /agreed.
-Do you have preliminary ideas on what you would like to do about erhiar? I can talk about some of the training programs the Amazons have worked out…-
-Sure, I’ll take them. The important thing is where the volunteers come from. Amazons are divinely powered, but they are not direct divine servants. Erhiar have a Pact and direct connections, more like Warlock/Favored. So, regardless of anything else, they will be associated with their respective churches based on that direct connection. They are the Choosers of the Slain, after all... they’ve got distinct responsibilities within the structure of the Churches.-
-I hadn’t heard about this. How are they different from Amazons?-
-Erhiar are a combination of Shield Maiden and escorts for the soul. They have the ability to see those that are near death. Thus, they can intervene to save them... part one of Choosing the Slain. Part Two is to safeguard the souls who die about them, much like an Angel of Death. Erhiar can succor the dead and prevent them from being trapped or conscripted by outside forces, and have obligations to set free the souls of the dead.-
-So they have massive motivations to go after the people slain by the Marches whose souls are enslaved by them,- Briggs /nodded.
-Yes. Erhiar guard the souls of the living and the dead, and have the tools to make it happen. This is a religious Tradition, so I’m going to go through the Churches to make it happen.-
-Why would the Churches need you?- he /asked calmly. -Once they realize there are erhiar Pacts open, they could go get them themselves, couldn’t they?-
-Sure... if the god agrees to it. Which means the Steel can snaffle up all them new Pacts. Does that seem like a Good thing to do to you?-
-Greedy, rather, especially without the massive need that I had at the time I did it with the girls,- he /agreed. -Okay, you’re going to go to the Churches, get divine approval for some sort of training program, and recommendations from the scattered Priests?-
-The gods know who they want. If they send them to me via their faithful, I’ll see to it they are trained and equipped properly... and Level up quickly.-
-Honorably done. I would like to see if it works. Even if the Steel loses out on all those Pacts, that would be fine as long as we are doing the right thing.-
-I kinda doubt we’ll be punished for it. There’ll be good Karma on the back end.-
-And ain’t nothing wrong with that,- he /agreed. -So, when should I report for all the pain?-
I smiled despite myself. -My Down Time starts at midnight.-
-I’ll get things arranged. Going to have to disappoint some of the girls, I reckon.- He didn’t /sound too sorry at all.
-Me, too.- He /choked as I /said that, and I laughed and let him off.
Tonight was going to be so fun!
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- Auburn, Michigan
Bio: Editor of online webnovels, mostly at Webnovel and Wuxiaworld. Also edit Ebooks. Long time video gamer, former MMO player, lifelong [email protected] fan and RPG guy, fan of both science fiction and fantasy. Don't ask me to choose between Trek and Wars, I love all the Stars.