Trouble With Horns - Chapter 20
20: Scorching Lips
They bound my hands and feet, and from what I could tell, they carried me into Tieille City through a side gate or something. I wasn’t sure, all I knew was that the sounds and smells of the city eventually enveloped me for a few minutes before they were muted by our passage into a building. I was placed down onto cold stone and left there, my captors mentioning something about a meeting they had to rush off to.
I was left paralyzed and blindfolded on the floor, and my fear of the unknown and what they would do to me grew into a sort of anxious boredom. That was, until Millie messaged me.
Alchemilla: Tami!! ARE YOU OKAY? You didn’t respawn with me! Are you still alive? Did you make it away? What’s happening?
Using the messaging system without hands was a nightmare. You had to think every letter individually to write. Lucky for me, I had time...
Tamipesagniyah: They captured me. Are you okay? I’m so sorry!
Alchemilla: Oh yeah. The dream was really nice this time.
Tamipesagniyah: The dream? What?
Alchemilla: You know, the death dream.
Tamipesagniyah: I don’t sorry…
Alchemilla: Wow you should have definitely been told about that. The death dream is this weird place you go to after you die and while you wait for your respawn timer. It’s designed by the Cora AI in charge of the mental health and wellbeing of the players. Anyway, the dream helps you deal with the trauma and stuff. This is how Cora got through the mental health restrictions on Full Immersion games while still being a kinda brutal world.
Tamipesagniyah: Oh… wow that’s really smart!
Alchemilla: Yeah. I’ve actually killed myself once or twice with poison just to hang out there. I got told off those times by some middle aged lady NPC, but it was still nice. I like it when the NPC pretends to be a caring parent the most.
Tamipesagniyah: That’s kinda… hmm.
Alchemilla: Yeah! Oh wait, so what’s going on? Where are you?
Tamipesagniyah: I think I’m in Tieille? I’m not sure though. They put a bag over my head, but I could hear the city as we got closer.
Alchemilla: I'll come save you!
Tamipesagniyah: You're ages away Millie. Try investigating the Red Pins in the Port Town instead.
Alchemilla: o7 Yes ma'am!
Tamipesagniyah: You're a cute dork
Alchemilla: Nerd, I'm a nerd.
Tamipesagniyah: ok then... Good luck. I can hear them coming now, and I think my paralysis is wearing off. Later nerd!
Alchemilla: Good luck!!!
I closed the message screen and tried my best to pretend I still couldn't move under my own power. Feeling was coming back across most of my body now, and figured it was probably only a matter of time before I was back to full functionality again. If only I wasn't tied up as well, I could fight them, either forcing them to kill me or forcing my way out.
The footsteps I'd heard during my conversation with Millie stopped at what I assumed was the door to my cell or room, and I heard the jangling of keys as someone prepared to open the door. They slid the keys into the lock and turned, pushing the door open as they went. They didn’t speak, simply moving over and hoisting me up. One person on either side carried me under the shoulders while my legs trailed behind.
I was dragged through a corridor or two before they opened another door and dragged me inside. I was seated roughly on a wooden chair of some description, my hands still bound behind me. My legs were carelessly untied and then retied to the chair I was sitting on. Finally, finally, my hood was taken off, and I could see where I was.
The room I was in was fairly boring, the walls were stone that had once had a layer of lime applied to them, although it was shattered and flaking now. I was sitting on a rickety old wooden chair, while four beefy looking Red Pin guards stared me down from across the room. It was kinda awkward if I’m honest. I wasn’t the biggest gal after all, so having four of them felt like overkill.
We all stood or sat in that room for what felt like an hour or more, and I did my best to make witty small talk, although the grunts in front of me didn’t seem capable of more than, well… grunting. I didn’t mind, my sense of touch was almost fully back, and so was my ability to move. As time wore on, they began to get restless, glancing between one another and the door.
To my incredible surprise, one of them spoke up, proving that they were intelligent enough for actual speech. “Isn’t the Magus supposed to be here by now?”
“Yeah. He’s late, what do you think is keeping him?” another grunt murmured.
While they worried about their boss not turning up on time, I noticed something rather interesting. They’d bound me with rope. Normal rope. Flammable rope.
“Hey boys,” I chirped happily, idly relishing the sound of my teasing feminine voice. “You haven’t spent much time around my type of Darkling have you?”
“Nah, why would we associate with filth like you?” one of them growled.
“Well, I was just thinking that you’ve kinda fucked up,” I grinned, my eyes twinkling with the promise of violence.
“How?” one of them asked, drawing his shortsword.
All at once, I set my hands and feet on fire, the hottest fire I could possibly manage, draining a ton of Mana in the process. I wanted those ropes to be nothing but ash in seconds… and oh how it worked. I rose from the blackened and charred chair, my hands and feet now just quietly aflame and laughed.
“My subrace of Darkling is immune to fire, and you tied me down with flammable shit,” I said, raising my flaming fists to show them, allowing the last remnants of their rope to fall to the ground.
I knew I should have probably conserved more of my stamina, who knew how much fighting I’d need to do to get out of here, but I wanted to hit something really really hard right about then. I charged my speed boost, draining almost half my bar for a single activation, and aimed myself at the guy who was just a little bit slow drawing his sword. Millie could do a meat carpet, sure… but I could do blood mist.
I launched, my fist primed for an explosive impact, and as soon as I launched, it was over. I had just punched a dude clean in half, the force of the blow staggering both me and the poor guy’s friends. I didn’t quite get the mist I’d wanted, but there were pieces of the guy on pretty much every surface but me.
Hurray for the shaped charge that was my fist! Actually, there was some blood on my feet. Mostly from the blood pooling on the ground. The way it was squelching between my toes was less than appealing. They were nice toes though. Cute! Maybe I should paint my nails that colour when I was out of the pod.
Alright, bad Tami, let’s not go full Millie here, stop glorying in the awful destruction you’d just caused and kill the rest of them. Without so much theatre this time? ...No, definitely theatre, I was a gymnast after all. Competitive gymnastics was all about the flourish!
Before the rest of them could get their poor traumatised brains into gear, I reached down and drew the sword the guy had been trying to get out of its scabbard, and casually flicked it at the next guy. He was unfortunately fast enough to clumsily block it, but I didn’t mind. The main objective had been to distract just long enough for a paralyzing kick to reach his knee.
Once the knee was paralyzed, it was fairly easy to pivot sideways, causing him to move too, trying to keep me in front of him. With his knee paralyzed, he tripped and fell rather than moving as he’d expected, and my heel was there to crush his nuts, to send the sword skittering out of his hand as he reflexively let go, and then his windpipe. Two down, two to go. Maybe they’d been right to post that many guards after all?
The third guy had been moving while I was killing his friend, making a brutal chop towards me, his sword on a collision course with my hip. It was kind of a large target, so I didn’t blame him. I was just barely able to twist myself out of the path of his blade, in no small part thanks to the flexibility of my wonderfully feminine body. I’d missed this so much during that week out of the pod. I hoped my shaping included the flexibility… pleeaase?
The next blow came not from the third guy, but from the fourth guy, who was stabbing right into the path I was taking to dodge the last blow. Crap! In the split second of thinking time I had before I was skewered through the stomach, I remembered my momentum transfer abilities. Wow, why hadn’t I thought of this application before?
I grasped all the momentum that was currently carrying me towards his blade with my mind, and I pointed it backwards. All of a sudden, I was falling backwards into a cartwheel rather than being stabbed, coming to a stop a few meters away from them. Phew! That was close! Enough with the cocky act Tami, we’re getting rid of that thing after all. Damn, it was times like these that I really wished I had any sort or ranged capabilities— Waaaiit… there was a chair next to me.
“Oi dickheads,” I said, picking the chair up. “Catch!”
I threw the chair, then darted forward, following it into the fray with a low sweeping kick that took the legs out from one of my guards. The chair hit the second dude in the chest, sending him staggering backwards with a cry of surprise.
Catching the chair before it could hit the cold stone of the floor, I then swung it viciously at the upright guy’s face, then turned and beat his prone friend with the poor abused piece of furniture in a similar manner, breaking his nose and sending blood everywhere.
The upright guy had blocked my strike at his face with a raised forearm, and in frustrated response, I charged a speed boost and rammed the legs of the piece of furniture into his chest, impaling him in the process. More grossness, I really needed to find a way to fight people without sending blood everywhere. Things were getting a bit too visceral for this innocent little city girl.
The guy on the ground staggered to his feet, trying to wipe the blood from his broken nose out from where it had pooled in his eyes. He didn’t get time. A quick, hard jab to his temple and he was dead.
I stood there, panting amongst the carnage and tried to hold my stomach together. There wasn’t a whole lot in it, but it really wanted to vomit whatever was in there out onto the blood covered stone floor. Fighting and killing NPCs that looked like humans, even if I knew they were just code, was definitely making me feel queasy. I needed to get the blood off myself at least, try and feel a bit more human again.
Grabbing a reasonably clean coat off the last guy to die, I wiped myself off as best I could. There was blood covering a huge portion of the room, and although I had avoided the initial explosion of the stuff, I had gotten it everywhere in the fight afterwards.
Using a combination of my flame and the coat, I got myself somewhat clean, feeling myself calm down in the process. I hadn’t realised just how anxious and scared I was about being captured until I felt some of the stress ease. I always hated it when a character in a book or movie was captured too, sometimes feeling so terrible about it that I had to skip the whole sequence. There was something about that loss of autonomy that made me shiver.
Sure, I was technically being held hostage right now in my pod, but it was different when you were being carted around like a carcass and stared down by four huge scary men.
It was about this time that I realised that I’d been hearing the sounds of fighting coming from outside the room for a while now. The commotion had gotten closer during my own scuffle with my guards, and now there was a lull as someone stomped down the hallway outside. They reached the door to the room I was currently in and stopped.
I tensed, ready for another fight. Who was this now? Was it the boss guy?
When the door opened, a vision of fire and fury stepped through, her sword raised high and ready to strike. Just like that first time I’d seen her, I was hit by just how damn beautiful she was. Her hair was fully aflame, scorching the ceiling with its brilliance, and her eyes were white-orange coals with a black center that pierced everything they set their gaze on. I felt my heart do little backflips, and maybe a cartwheel or two as I realised who she was.
“Rora!” I squealed, making an excited noise that was so wholly at odds with the carnage I had just committed.
I jumped at her, throwing my arms around her shoulders and cuddling in tight. I didn’t care where we were or what was going to happen next, I’d missed this woman so fucking much.
“H-hey,” she stammered, clearly taken aback by my excitement. “Careful of the sword!”
I couldn’t help myself, I pulled back a little, but only to plant a short kiss on her piping hot lips. They were as soft as I remembered from the times I’d gotten to kiss her, and I realised that damn… I was in deep here.
“I am so, so, so happy to see you,” I panted, somehow having run out of breath during the hug.
“Um, me too,” she smiled, looking to the side in embarrassment. “I did kinda slaughter like twenty people to get into this building to find you.”
“That is so hot,” I laughed happily.
“Yup, I’m on fire,” she stated in a failing deadpan, the corners of her lips turning up again.
Laughing, my cheeks hurting with the force of my smile, I couldn’t help but protest her pun, “Laaame!”
“Fuck, I missed that goofy grin of yours,” she sighed, nudging my nose lightly with her own.
“You missed me?” I asked, feeling a flutter in my chest.
She’d missed me? I’d hoped of course… but we’d never really mentioned the growing feelings between us before we logged out last time.
“Yeah… I mean... You’re really fun… and stuff,” she said, her cheeks turning pink with a wholly different kind of heat. Then she noticed the room. "Wow… did you do this?"
"Um, yeah… I got carried away, and now there's bits of person on the ceiling and it's kinda starting to smell," I grimaced, moving my face back to her neck to take in her scent, rather than that of the room.
“Right, let’s get out of here,” she said, pulling back and taking a peek out of the room.
I missed the heat of her body almost immediately, and had to fight an almost dizzying desire to rush over and pull her back into another hug. Wow, my emotions were all over the place right now. Come on, pull it together Tami, we can figure out your emotions and feelings later.
I shook myself and nodded, “Okay, but I’m running low on stamina. I did something dumb and used up half my stamina in one blow.”
“You have an attack that uses that much stamina?” Rora asked incredulously, turning back to stare at me.
“Uh, yeah. The big powerful punch one, I can charge it up to do more damage but use more stamina,” I said, hoping what I’d done wasn’t stupid and I wasn’t making a fool of myself.
“Wow…” she murmured, her breathing hitching with excitement. “I should make one like that too… Hold on.”
I watched her sift through menus that were invisible to me for a moment, then decided to swap places with her so we still had someone keeping an eye out. In a few moments, she was done, a delighted grin on her face.
“Oh geez, I really can’t wait to use this. Let’s find some people to fight,” she said excitedly.
“Yeah!” I grinned back, then stepped wholly out of the room. “Which way?”
“Right. That’s the way I came in, so we should expect their reinforcements to be coming in from that direction too,” she told me, stepping past to lead the way, handing me a stamina potion in the process.
I took it gratefully and downed it, feeling my stamina begin to replenish itself with a sigh. She was too good to me.
Going back across Rora’s path of destruction, I couldn’t help feeling a lightness in my chest as I realised that she had been coming in here... for me. How did she know I was here though?
“Rora, how did you know I was in here?” I asked.
“I was following a low ranking noble who seems to be at the heart of all this, and he met up with a creepy dude wearing a lot of stealth armour and a red pin. He mentioned that he’d captured a rare species of darkling, one with wings. I knew it must be you, because you’re literally the only one of your kind I’ve seen so far… I couldn’t let you just sit here,” she said, smiling but unable to make eye contact.
She was acting really bashful since we’d met up again just now, it was cute, but I was suddenly worried that something was different between us now.
“Thanks,” I said sincerely. I wouldn’t have made it all the way out of this place, that was for sure. I’d used up almost everything killing just the fools guarding me directly.
“No problem… I really wanted… well yeah,” she said, looking embarrassed again, then turned her eyes up as we heard sounds coming from ahead. “Time to fight!”
The first guy to come around the corner at the end of the cramped corridor we were heading down didn’t even get to live long enough to regret his actions. Rora teleported forward, her sword firing a blast of fire to aid a strike that took his head clean off and cauterising the wound in one blow.
I was moments behind her, slipping past her so close that my boobs brushed along her arm. I grabbed the next guy, throwing him into Rora’s path, where she wrapped him in flaming vines that filled the space with the smell of burning flesh.
I didn’t realise it, but the third guy in line had been about to skewer me with his sword, but she was there to save me. She pulled me close, her front feeling warm and soft against my back as she blocked several blows while she held me to her chest. When I saw an opening, my foot flashed up, crashing into the valuables between his legs with the boom of an explosive discharge.
Feeling inappropriately flirty given the situation, I leaned my head back onto her shoulder and kissed the curve of her jaw in the same moment that my foot flashed forward again, kicking the unfortunate guy into his friends.
“Tami!” she breathed in surprise. “You’re going to get us killed if you distract me like that.”
“Mmmm but it feels good?” I chuckled low.
With a laugh, she pushed me away from her and said, “Kill now, kiss later you little shit.”
“Yes mistress,” I winked, performing a spinning kick to drive my heel into a Red Pin’s head. The top one, not the bottom one. I’d already destroyed that one.
We fought our way down the hallway, working together in the tight quarters to kill our way out of this place. I made sure to take every single opportunity I could find to flirt, touch or tease Rora, and I was having to fight a wave of giggles at her increasingly flustered reactions. This was so fun.
When we were out of enemies in this particular corridor, I was about to move onwards when I found myself pinned to the wall by the taller girl, her fingers working their way into my hair and her lips warm and urgent on mine. She kissed me hard and raw, obviously no longer content to wait until we’d escaped. I chuckled into the kiss and lapped teasingly at her lower lip with my tongue, then bit down gently, loving how soft and hot her lips were. They would have quite literally burned a normal human.
When she released me, we were both panting, her eyes pinning me to the wall with the intensity of her desire, and me leaning drunkenly against the wall with a huge, satisfied grin on my face.
“You are such a fucking tease,” she growled, her eyes raking up and down my body, almost leaving scorch marks in their wake.
I couldn’t find any words at that particular moment, but I didn’t need to. I grinned cheekily at her and nodded down the next hallway like I was propositioning her to come back to my place for a “cup of coffee”.
“Right, let’s get out of here,” she nodded, visibly trying to reel herself back in. This whole feminine charm thing was really fucking fun. I needed to tease her more as we made our escape.
Her hand found mine as she stepped past, and she all but dragged me down the hallway. We had a lot of people to kill before we were safe and free, but I was oh so looking forward to it now.
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