The Lost City: Maiden of Madarua

This sixteen-chapter novel is a work of fan fiction based on the Stranger Things TV series and the Lost City D&D module. I do not profit from it. It’s a story set prior to the events of the television seasons, before the boys met Eleven. If I learn that the Duffer Brothers or Wizards of the Coast do not appreciate fan fiction of their work, or if either of them order a cease-and-desist, I will pull the story down.

                                          The Lost City — Chapter Eight:

                            Maiden of Madarua

 

Mike was out of control and it felt good.

He slammed Jilanka against the altar and tore her shirt, working over her mounds as if he’d never seen the female form. And in a way he hadn’t. Not like this, souped up on drugs that had no business mixing together. Raging he slapped her; and then shredded her tunic completely. Then he threw his face into it, devouring her, running his tongue along breasts he saw as the size of mountains.

God, what world am I in?

He boiled with desires a mind wasn’t made for. Everything about Jilanka was dialed up by five, then twenty, then impossibly more. The shroom combo had pushed sex into the fourth dimension. He roared with libidinous fury and threw her on top of the altar, and she bellowed affirmatives while cursing him. She tore at his pants, promising castration if he didn’t make this good – and he tore hers right off. She was wetter than a swamp after days of rain, and the sight of that put Mike over: he shot over her stomach and fell onto her, devouring, devouring her again…

His head was yanked up and she clobbered him hard. Then she reached for his nethers and soon had him building to another climax. She forced him inside her – and Mike went off the charts, slamming and pounding her in a humping fury. He came but stayed hard; and came again. His thrusts never stopped. He bit into her shoulder, and came again. Her legs had his torso in a vise. She shouted his worthlessness, screamed his praises, and came six, seven, eight times. He yelled and kept yelling – unbelieving this was life – as he fucked the proverbial living shit out of Jilanka Maw for fifteen minutes more.

Pinning this girl on the altar of some unnamed forgotten deity was fitting, considering how unspeakable their union was. They were forbidden lovers in a forbidden room – a temple that had been abandoned ages ago. Tattered tapestries hung from the walls. Days ago there had been evil-looking relics on the altar before Jilanka cleared it for her and Mike’s fuck-fest. A rotten cloth, curved candlesticks, an offering bowl, and a holy symbol looking like a demon – all these had gone crashing to the floor, and were still there now. This was their fourth fuck in the pyramid, in this shunned room where no one would intrude to see blasphemous lovers – Brother and Maiden – hump each other frantically as if possessed by demons themselves.

They were possessed by a near equivalent – a mushroom combination that blew their minds sky high. And without the perils of addiction or prolonged tripping. It was Mike’s first time on the drugs. He’d drunk the kool-aid. He could have gone wild like this for hours more.

When he spent himself again – he was dry ejaculating now, having cum way too many times – he realized she was lying under him motionless, regarding him with amusement. She switched off. He tried to do the same. He moaned into her neck, wanting to pound her more. He didn’t know how to switch off.

“Just tell your mind to stop it, and it will,” she said.

And sure enough, it was easy as that. The world quickened and caught up; his libido went to sleep. He returned to himself and lay in her embrace.

They stayed on the altar like that for a while, he in her arms, as she ran her fingers through his hair. Black shaggy hair that she loved to play with. Hers, like any Cynidicean’s, was snow white.

“Jesus Christ,” he said softly. “Don’t tell me anyone ever had sex like we just did.”

Her fingers massaged his head. “Anyone who’s eaten sex craze has had more and better. We didn’t go for very long. And who is this ‘Jesus Christ’ you keep mentioning? Is he a god in your world?”

“Sort of,” said Mike.

“Gorm’s your god now,” she said.

Your sarcasm is noted. And Gorm is a shit name for swearing. Lucas said things like “Gorm’s bolts”, “Gorm damn you”, and “For Gorm’s sake”, and but Mike couldn’t let go of Jesus when it came to profanity.

“And Gorm doesn’t approve you fucking anyone, especially a Maiden,” she said.

“Hypocrite,” said Mike. “How does Madarua feel about you fucking a Brother?”

“She doesn’t give a filthy shit,” said Jilanka. “It’s her Maidens who have that hangup. The Madaruan Circle allows for sex with followers of any creed. The taboo against Brothers is an oral tradition from recent centuries.”

“Well, excuse the fuck out of me. That’s probably the same for us.”

“Yes and no,” said Jilanka. “It’s true that your clan’s dislike of us is from recent centuries. After Zargon came and the cults started mistrusting each other. But celibacy is holy writ for you guys. It’s always been that way. The Creed of Gorm says that his closest disciples can’t have sex with anyone, whether Maiden or not. Don’t you know your own holy book?”

“Of course I do!”

“And don’t you think what it says is stupid?”

“All religion is stupid,” he said. “I mean… all religions have stupid requirements. We have celibacy. I’m sure you have something just as stupid.”

She ran her tongue over his face. “I’m sure you’re stupid and don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. In fact, I think you’re the stupidest shit alive.” She started rubbing his balls.

“Knock it off.” He pulled her off him. “I have to go.” He sat up and swung his legs over the altar.

She yanked him back into her embrace and kissed him roughly. Then she had him on his back again, and was on top readying for another assault. She had reactivated the drug effect.

“No,” he said, trying to disengage. “Come on, Jilanka, I have -”

She struck his face and began thrusting over him. She didn’t need him erect inside her; this was the sex craze drug. She could have ten orgasms without even touching herself.

Mike had two options at this point. Wait out her rape, or reactivate the drug so that he could match her physically in speed and reflex. But if he did the second he’d be sex-crazed again too – and a most willing partner. Either way, he wasn’t leaving the room right now.

They’re going to come looking for me.

He sighed and switched on.

 

Over a half hour later they were putting their clothes back on. He had destroyed her tunic but she didn’t care. She had spares. She put on her chain mail without a shirt. She was beautiful – tomboyishly in the way that Mike liked.

If any Brother or Maiden saw them like this, their careers serving the old gods would be over at once. The Brothers took their oaths of celibacy seriously, and while the Maidens were under no such vows, they despised the Brothers as a matter of principle – oral tradition or not. Mike and Jilanka’s relationship was a grievous offense on both sides. To say nothing of their drug consumption: that too was forbidden. In the three cults, only the Magi were allowed to use mushrooms.

He had fallen hard for Jilanka. The past five days had been his wildest if not best in the Lost City, and the guilt was eating at him. He’d thought he was happy in the Brotherhood; that he and Lucas were partners for life. They were best friends sworn into the best cult. But his few days with Jilanka had called those assumptions into question. If her accounts of the Maidens could be trusted, they didn’t seem so bad; in some ways perhaps better than the Brothers. Authoritarian but less so; making room for more freedoms. Mike found himself angered by some of the limitations placed on women in this world (except in the flaming libertarian Usamigaran community). He’d been blind to it because it didn’t affect him, but now he saw things through the eyes of his girlfriend.

And to her credit, she didn’t glorify the Maidens. Jilanka Maw was no blind follower. She was loyal to Pandora – Madarua’s Champion – but only up to a point; she ultimately did as she pleased. Her outrageous affair with Brother Mike proved that.

He said good-bye to her and left the abandoned temple, and went down the diagonal corridor to the door that summoned the revolving passage. Jilanka would follow only after he used the passage; they couldn’t chance being seen together. Mike pressed the button on the wall, and the passage moved on its turntable to align with the door. Mike opened it and went inside. The door at the other end led to the Brothers’ temple. Mike was due there in less than hour for military drills. He selected a button from the column of eight, the one that made the passage align with the north-south axis. The grinding noises began as the turntable moved. When the passage stopped he opened the door to the southern corridor that led upstairs to Tier 2. He began hurrying, wanting to get back to Lucas.

He heard footsteps ahead around the corner, and felt a flash of guilt. Are her juices still on me? Do they smell? The figure turned the corner.

It was Lucas.

He stopped when he saw Mike and stared. Mike went red, feeling another wave of guilt.

“Where the hell have you been?” demanded Lucas.

“Nowhere,” said Mike feebly. “I just wanted a walk.”

“Well you’re walking the wrong way,” said Lucas. “We’re due in the temple. Now.”

“What?” That wasn’t right. Their exercises didn’t start for an hour. His fuck-fest had gone on for too long, but not that long. The slow-time drug affected one’s perception of time, but he and Jilanka had gauged their activity with that in mind. Mike knew what time it was.

“You heard me,” said Lucas. “Kanadius has some big announcement. It’s a mandatory meeting. Everyone’s down here already. I’ve been looking all over for you upstairs, even outside. Let’s go.”

He followed Lucas back to the revolving passage. They could hear rotating noises and the door wouldn’t open; the passage was in use. Jilanka. She was returning to the Maiden barracks. Mike’s heart raced. She and I are going to get caught someday.

The grinding stopped, and Lucas pressed the door button again. When it lined up, they opened the door and went inside, selecting the northwest-southeast axis – exactly where Mike had just come from. The passage shifted and stopped, and Mike looked at the northwest door. We were just fucking down there. On the altar of a demon. I’m still on the drugs now. What has my life become? He and Lucas left through the southeast door.

They walked down the corridor to their temple. All the Brothers were there, glaring over their shoulders at Mike as he came in after Lucas. They turned back to Kanadius, who stood in front of the altar. Mike prayed the drugs wouldn’t reactivate during this meeting. What would happen if they did? Would he start masturbating on the floor, or try raping one of his fellow Brothers? Jilanka’s voice came back to him: Once you have the technique, it’s easy. On and off as you please. The drugs obey.

“Nice of you to join us, Mike,” said Kanadius. The Grand Master was plainly furious.

“I’m sorry, sir,” said Mike, standing rigidly at attention.

Kanadius began. “I have big news for all of us. Momentous news. I spent a late night yesterday over in the Magi sector. We all have a low opinion of the Magi. They’re lawless sorcerers who care little for the welfare of others. But they do serve the old ways, and they hate Zargonites as much as we do. Auriga invited me to hear a proposal. They’re sending a group of Magi to the Isle of Death. And they want some of us to join them.”

Mike saw the shock on the Brothers’ faces. No one went to the Isle. No one came back when they did.

“The Magi have become aware of something hidden on the Isle – or which may be hidden there. It could be a false lead. But it’s something that has been long desired by the old cults: the Eye and Hand of Gaius.”

There was muttering now; reactions of awe and disbelief. Mike couldn’t remember anything in his gaming module about an eye or a hand. He looked over at Lucas, who shook his head.

“The Eye and the Hand are supposedly resting at Vark’s Ring – the archways that some say have strange powers. I think you all know what this means. Except Lucas and Mike. Gaius was the twelfth Cynidicean king who reigned over 1300 years ago; he was mighty and powerful, a lot like the Nithian god-kings of old. Before he died he preserved his left eye and right hand and gave them incredible powers – powers that well could turn the tide of our war against the Zargonites. Or at least help us a great deal. They’re also cursed, but no one knows exactly how. The Magi are proposing that the Eye go to them, and the Hand to the Brothers. The Hand is supposed to make a warrior nearly undefeatable. The Eye is designed for a mage’s use.”

The room erupted in fury. The proposal was outrageous. The news was either too good to be true, or too perilous if it was true. A lich was a lich and couldn’t be trusted. The Brothers began hotly objecting.

“Shut up!” yelled Kanadius.

The room quieted at once.

“When I want your worthless knee-jerk reactions, I’ll ask for them! We are accepting this joint mission. I thought very hard about it last night, and that was – is – my decision. If any of you object, then feel free to leave this pyramid and walk your spinelessness out into the desert. Right now. Anyone?”

No one spoke.

The Grand Master went on: “I saw the impossible happen three months ago, as did you all. What seems ungodly and evil is not always so.” He looked at Lucas and pointed. “Gorm’s Chosen stands among us. We’re unable to agree on what that means, but we agree that Lucas Sinclair is privileged in Gorm’s eyes and made for holy purpose. If a zoombie can offer the Brotherhood salvation, then who is to say a lich cannot? The legends surrounding the Eye and Hand are murky and conflicted. What matters is our eternal war against Zargon. Worn by a Brother, the Hand of Gaius could wreak devastation on the Zargonites.”

He paused to let it all sink in. There was some murmuring, mostly of approval. Mike’s mind was reeling. He was clueless about these artifacts. He wondered about Will and how much he knew about this joint mission. Auriga must have briefed the Magi by now.

Kanadius fixed his audience with a glare. “So I ask you, Brothers: Are we as one?”

Twelve Brothers, including Mike and Lucas, thundered: “Yes, sir!”

Will we aid the Magi in their quest?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Will we hold the Magi to their word, and to their end of the deal?”

“Yes, sir!”

“And if we obtain it, will we use the Hand with the grace and humility becoming us, not for power’s sake, but to crush the Zargonites and return Cynidicea to the ways of the old gods?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes, sir!”

“Very good!” said the Grand Master. “You inspire me, Brothers. The mission to the Isle departs early tomorrow morning. Training exercises are cancelled today. I need five volunteers for the mission. There will be five Magi as well. Lucas, you and Mike are volunteering. So I need three more. Before any of you volunteer, are there questions?”

A warrior named Dracut immediately raised his hand.

“What?’ snapped Kanadius.

“Who is in charge of the mission, sir?” asked Dracut.

“We agreed on a joint leadership,” said Kanadius. “Auriga will command his people, and Lucas will command the Brothers. All decisions will have to be agreed upon by Auriga and Lucas.”

Lucas cleared his throat. “Sir?”

“What?”

“I’m humbled by your choice of me, but I think it’s appropriate that you lead the Brothers. You’re our leader. Like Auriga leads the Magi.”

“And as your leader,” said Kanadius, “I delegate as I please. Do you agree with that?”

“Yes, sir, of course, but -”

“You are Gorm’s Chosen. The Isle of Death is plagued with your kind. For a mission like this, surely, you are the one to lead us.”

Mike almost laughed out loud. Lucas was no undead and he never had been. The Brotherhood’s resurrection-phobia was superstitious crap.

Lucas inclined his head. “As you wish, sir.”

“I do wish. And you, Mike, will back your friend in every way and guard him with your life.”

“Of course, sir,” said Mike.

Another hand shot up. A Brother named Djibor.

“What?”

“Sir, the Isle is crawling with undead and no one ever returns. We’re not cowards. But neither are we suicidal.”

“There will be a Usamigaran priest on the Magi team: Demetrius Rhone. Many of you know this priest was killed by his Zargonite brother well over a year ago, and he returned to life three months ago in the body of an alien – Lucas and Mike’s friend. Demetrius has a powerful medallion that can keep undead at bay, though it only works in a fifteen-foot radius. Still, he’s a powerful priest, and he can turn undead and use other prayers. We will also be sending one of our own priests from the Gormish stronghold: Atsu Horjei. Atsu is a high priest and will be very useful against any undead. So the team will consist of a total of five Magi, five Brothers, and two very powerful priests.”

Djibor nodded and bowed.

“And remember The Creed, Brothers. Dying on a holy quest guarantees your salvation. But as Brother Djibor points out, these are undead. Avoid being touched by the Isle’s inhabitants at all costs. If you’re lucky, you die for good. Only Brother Lucas has been otherwise blessed in this regard.”

Another hand went up. Mike winced. It was Azariah, one of the fanatics.

“What?” said Kanadius.

“Sir!” Azariah stepped forward boldly. “It is my contention that sharing command in this venture is an affront to our deity. Lucas Sinclair is Gorm come again. That he should defer in any way to the snake Auriga is an unbearable offense. Sir.”

The other two fanatics, Moser and Hyme, nodded approvingly. Everyone else was shocked and held their breath.

Kanadius looked at Azariah and then marched straight up to him. He swung his fist and Azariah went sprawling. A tooth clattered on the floor, and the warrior spat blood.

Mike’s heart raced. The man is in his sixties and he’s a fucking bull.

Kanadius looked down at the warrior. “Question my judgment again with that kind of contempt, and the desert will be your reward. Do you hear me?”

On the floor Azariah nodded, holding his bleeding mouth.

“On your feet,” said the Grand Master.

The warrior stood – and Kanadius slugged him again. Just as hard. There were gasps as Azariah collapsed with a broken nose.

Next to Mike, Lucas was keeping cool, but barely. He didn’t like being the cause of this.

“Now you can get up,” said Kanadius. “And look smart.”

Azariah stood proudly, and shouted, spitting blood: “Yes, sir!”

“Mind yourself, Azariah,” warned the Grand Master. “And remember me kindly in your prayers.”

“Yes, sir!” said the fanatic.

“Anyone else?” asked Kanadius.

Mike was rankled by something. He raised his hand.

“What?”

“Sir, what about the Maidens?”

Kanadius was nonplussed. “What about them?”

“Why are the Magi willing to team up with us, but not them? They represent the old gods as much as we do.”

“Gaius left two artifacts from his body, not three,” said Kanadius.

“Right, but why us and not them?” asked Mike. “The Maidens are warriors like us. They could use the Hand.”

The Grand Master laughed uproariously. A few Brothers laughed as well.

Mike frowned. “Did I say something funny?”

He heard Lucas hiss through his teeth. You better watch yourself. You could lose a mouthful and be sent into the desert.

“Yes, Mike, you said something very funny. Your alien otherness excuses you, perhaps. Women are not true warriors. They can aspire to be second-class fighters at best. That’s what the Maidens are.”

That rubbed Mike the wrong way. For the first time since Kanadius tried to have Lucas executed, he found himself furious with the Grand Master.

Kanadius went on: “As you hopefully know from your readings of The Creed, a woman’s proper place is in the home – where she can wage war on dirt and house pests, and the pots and pans she’s liable to burn.”

Now everyone except Mike was laughing – even Lucas.

“It seems to me,” said Mike recklessly, “that the Maidens have a history of kicking some serious ass. Yes, I read The Creed, but I read the history books you give us too.”

The room went silent. Kanadius stared at Mike for a long time.

Dig yourself out. Right now.

Mike cleared his throat. “What I really mean, sir, is… yes, we know women are inferior” – he choked on the lie – “but the Magi don’t believe that. As I understand it, they hate the Brothers and the Maidens for their authoritarianism, but to them the Maidens are the lesser evil. Why aren’t they offering them the Hand of Gaius?”

Kanadius seemed to relax. “I see your question. The Magi are pragmatic above all. They claim to be egalitarian, but when push comes to shove, fantasies about feminine strength are suicidal. Do you really think they would entrust their safety to a bunch of women? The fact that they chose to ally with us just proves how hollow their rhetoric is about the equality of the sexes.”

Mike doubted that was the right explanation, but he knew when to clam up. He bowed his head.

Another hand went up.

“What is it?” barked Kanadius.

A warrior named Gore spoke: “Sir, who will become the Hand’s owner? Who among us will wield the Hand to our greatest victories?”

“Never mind that now,” said Kanadius. “Let’s actually obtain the Hand before we decide who is going to wield it. Remember, this may be a wild goose chase. The Magi aren’t even sure the Eye and Hand are really on the Isle. It could be a trap we’re walking into.”

Mike wanted to know how the Hand was used. Was it a glove-like cover that went over someone’s hand? And what about the Eye? Was it like a gem of seeing, that someone looked through – strapped over the user’s eye?

“More questions?” No hands went up. “No? Good. Now we need our three volunteers besides Lucas and Mike. Raise your hand if you want to be considered for the mission.”

All ten hands shot up.

Kanadius smiled. “My Brothers, you are worthy of your shoulder marks – each and every one of you. May Gorm’s lightning bless you all. Stand forward when I call your name.”

Mike knew what the Grand Master was going to do.

“Dracut!”

“Sir!”

The warrior who had first spoken stepped forward. Dracut was one of the four moderates, as Mike called the faction who believed Lucas to be a prophetic role model.

“Coval!”

“Sir!”

This was one of the three militants, who claimed that Lucas was indeed a prophetic role model, but that he was also destined to lead the Brothers as the next Grand Master.

“Azariah!”

“Sir!”

That surprised Mike. He thought Kanadius would choose either Moser or Hyme from the fanatics – those who believed that Lucas was actually Gorm himself – instead of the one who had just given him lip.

But on whole Kanadius had done as Mike predicted. He’d chosen a warrior from each of the three factions that disputed Lucas’s role. Very shrewd. He was a hardass but he didn’t play favorites.

Everyone seemed pleased as Kanadius adjourned the meeting. “The five of you will rise early tomorrow morning and depart to the city. The others will be busy today, preparing food and travel stuff for the five volunteers. You will meet the Magi down at the lake. Our priest Atsu will be there already. Auriga and Demetrius are leasing a boat, which should be ready by the time you arrive. If any of you need to see me today for any reason, I’ll be in my chamber. May Gorm bless you all.”

The Brothers drew their swords and cried a salute as Kanadius left the room. When he was gone they began nattering about the mission.

“Pushing your luck,” said Lucas quietly.

Mike didn’t need recriminations now, especially not from his best friend. “It isn’t right,” he said.

“What isn’t?” asked Lucas, exasperated.

“That the Maidens are being left out.”

“Seriously, Mike?”

“All the cults are important, Lucas. Not just the Brothers.”

“That’s sure not how you felt as a dungeon master. We chose right. And Kanadius is right. The Magi know they need the Brothers if they want to get rid of Zargon.”

Kanadius is wrong. Whatever reason the Magi had to ally with the Brothers, Mike was sure it had nothing to do a grudging acknowledgment of Brotherhood superiority.

“Anyway,” said Lucas, “you want to stay and spar?”

“Hell, yeah,” said Mike, “Whup your ass.”

In sword matches, it was usually the other way around: Mike was good, but Lucas beat him three times out of four.

The Brothers began leaving the temple. Azariah, Moser, and Hyme bowed to Lucas on their way out. As soon as Mike and Lucas had the room to themselves, they went at each other hard. Their blades clashed and their blood sang. On this they agreed: sword fighting was an art, and worth living for.

It was a close match, but Lucas won.

 

That night they were on the altar again. Tasting forbidden flesh, riding forbidden highs. Seen by no one, save a forbidden deity who had faded from the collective memory. There was power in obscurity, and Mike wondered if he and Jilanka were better off kneeling here and telling Gorm and Madarua to go to hell.

“I wish you could meet them,” she said.

They’d switched off after an excessive marathon of unbridled sex, and now lay naked in each others arms.

“Me too,” he said, opening his eyes. He’d started to drift. “They’d hate me though.”

Jilanka ran her tongue over his cheek. “You’d be surprised. I think they’d see you for what you are. Certainly Pandora would.”

She won’t get off this. In the five days they’d known each other, not one passed by without her insisting he didn’t belong in the Brotherhood. Maybe this room really was for him. “I love the Brotherhood,” he said. “I just wish they’d accept the Maidens – and same for you guys.”

“We’re not guys,” she said, “and the Brothers will never accept anything outside their narrow Creed.”

“Your Circle has just as many problems as our Creed.”

“Mike, we reject the chauvinism of the Brothers, the deceptions of the Magi, and the evil of the Zargonites. How can you have a problem with that? We want a society with law and order, but one that gives strength to women.”

“You mean only women,” said Mike. “I’m not wild about the Magi, but at least they stand for true equality. There are men and women in the Magi. You Maidens prohibit men from becoming full members of your community.”

“That’s a temporary state,” she said, “but a necessary one, in order to balance the Brotherhood. Especially since they have the most influence.”

“Your ‘temporary state’ had lasted for centuries,” said Mike.

“Tell that to Kanadius,” she retorted.

“So your dream for a restored Cynidicea includes men as full members?” he pressed.

“Our dream for the restored kingdom is that all Cynidiceans can do what they want with their lives.”

That wasn’t exactly a yes. “Including drugs?” he asked. “You’re as much a heretic as I am.”

“Of course,” she said. “I’m not saying the Maidens are perfect. I believe my sisters can be moved to accept mushrooms once they realize addiction can be avoided.”

“Dream on,” said Mike. “The fact is that only the Usamigarans are okay with mushrooms, and only they practice true equality.” We should both be Magi, like Will.

“The Usamigarans are anarchists,” said Jilanka. “Their history is saturated in dirty back-handed opportunism with little regard for compassion. Is that the kind of society you want?”

“No,” said Mike. “I’m just -”

“Run by mages and thieves and assassins?”

“No, but -”

“You need warriors in charge to have justice,” said Jilanka.

“I agree with that!” said Mike. “I’m just playing devil’s advocate, because you make the Maidens seem much better than they are.”

“No,” she said. “It’s that I make the Brothers seem as bad as they really are. They’re bigoted against women, and even worse against homos. Their law codes are inflexible – sometimes more tyrannical than just. They are ultimately what male warriors can only be: deficient and unenlightened warriors.”

“Jesus, you’re so full of shit,” said Mike.

“You know I’m right.”

The truth was that he didn’t know what to believe anymore. His past five days with this girl had upended his rosy view of the Brotherhood. Practically, for one: he liked fucking her, especially on drugs. But also philosophically: now that he had a girlfriend, The Creed‘s bigoted teachings were more than just intellectual exercises; they affected someone he loved.

Loved?

It was the first time he allowed himself to think he was actually in love with Jilanka. She had raped him (more than once), and that was hardly the foundation of a healthy relationship. But he was in love with her. His first time in love. He’d skipped from twelve years old to twenty-two and never known the heartbreaks of teen affairs. Romance was uncharted waters. He was clueless how to navigate it.

All things considered, he was probably in for disaster.

“I suppose you’re always right,” he said, deadpan.

Damn right,” she said, disengaging from his embrace. She repositioned herself to straddle him. She had switched the drug effect back on.

“Wait a minute,” he gasped.

She paused over him. “What?”

He came so close at that moment to telling her about the mission to the Isle the next morning. About the Eye and Hand of Gaius. Then he thought of something else. No, he scolded himself, appalled by his perfidious idea. Then: yes, knowing it was right.

“Quit stalling,” she said.

“Not stalling,” he said. “Just switching on.” Which he did. This was his second time taking the sex craze/slow-time drug combo. And for tomorrow’s mission, he had quite a different combo planned. He had arranged it that afternoon with Demetrius.

He thought of that combo – of the dead speaking and life disembodied – as Jilanka abused him and bruised him, and he cried and came and then again before working her over just the same.

 

 

Next Chapter: The Isle

(Previous Chapter: The Spider of Usamigaras)

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