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  • Charm 4: Calm Before the Storm

    2014 - 02.16

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    Day 2

    Sezithorum’s estate was far enough north and the days were long enough that when the sun rose, it did not illuminate the south-facing windows at all. It was well past dawn before the sun finally shone into Roji’s small and sparsely-furnished room, constructed from mortared bricks and located at the southwest corner of the house.

    The bed, large enough for two people to sleep comfortably as long as they were friendly, took up most of the space. Dust floated casually through the glaring sunbeams as they crept across the west wall, approaching the dresser that crouched there, opposite the bed. The light furtively slithered among the few personal effects Roji possessed, scattered across the top, and the discarded clothes that were draped on and around it. Finally one intrepid ray reflected off of a small silver belt buckle and illuminated the pair, sprawled beneath the blankets.

    Roji rolled over and embraced Tiska, his charm rousing as he did. She reached down and grabbed his swelling penis, saying, “As much as I’d like to take care of that for you, it’s late, and—“

    “It’s not really that late, it’s just that the sun comes up so crushingly early these days,” Roji grumbled, squeezing her tighter and pulsing his erection at her.

    “Right, the sun’s been up for that long, and so has he, neh?” She let go of Roji’s crotch and tried to push herself up to a sitting position, with only moderate success. Roji’s face nestled in beneath one breast, which he nuzzled, grinning. “We ought to go check on him. If he’s been back at the Codex, he’ll need attention a lot more than you do, neh?” She swatted at the bulge beneath the covers that was still twitching against her leg.

    “Yeah, yeah,” Roji mock-complained as he released her and rolled out of bed.

    Tiska sat up and retrieved her robe from the floor. It lay in her lap as she stared at the wall for a moment. “I’m still really worried about him. There’s something else going on he hasn’t told us about.”

    Roji shrugged into his robe and told it to close. “There’s always stuff going on he doesn’t tell us about. He didn’t say anything about his trip to pick up the Codex, other than, ‘I shall return tonight, or possibly tomorrow.’” Tiska giggled at his impression of their master. “And that mention of him being in the prophecy? What was that about? You think just because he opened up and spilled a few drops last night that he’s going to tell us everything?”

    “All right, fine,” she conceded, standing and donning her own robe. Roji loved the way her breasts bounced as she moved. “But we need to see what we can do to encourage him to do that some more, neh?”

    “Hmm?” he mumbled, still staring at her now-covered chest. He flicked his eyes back up to her face. “Right, yes, get him to talk more. Definitely.”

    She raised an eyebrow and half-glared at him as she turned away. He followed, far enough behind to watch her hips swing.

    When they emerged into the main laboratory, Sezithorum was standing in his customary place, munching a piece of fruit, and writing notes on a piece of parchment. Even from where they were in the doorway, they could see that his robe was bulging again.

    “I’ll take care of it this time, you go get us some breakfast, neh?” Tiska whispered. Roji nodded, and moved quietly along the wall toward the kitchen.

    As Tiska approached him, the wizard put down his quill and the half-eaten lemma, looked up and glanced between them. “Ah, there you are. Here are your parts for the ritual, mine in black, Tiska in green, Roji in red. Practice them. I will complete the circle.” He handed Tiska the parchment, picked up the Codex, and swept past her toward the ritual room.

    Roji had stopped at the stairs down to the kitchen when he started speaking, and had turned to look. Tiska stared at the parchment for a moment, then looked up at his retreating back. “Master?”

    He stopped, turned, and blinked at her. “Yes?”

    “Is your charm overflowing? Do you need me to help you?” she asked hesitantly

    “Ah!” he exclaimed. “Right. No, we must all allow the charm to build, we will need all the charm we can muster to manage this summoning.” As he turned away again, he muttered, “I should have brought Durkentl back… Worthwhile asset… Worthwhile ass…”

    “We’re doing it now? Today? We’re not going to do the regular day of cleansing and meditation?”

    He stopped in the doorway of the ritual room. “We must, unfortunately. There is no longer any time to lose. The succubus’s power augments by the day, and our visitor will need time to adjust as well. There are still so many factors yet to fall into place, all of which may require more time than we plan for. We must not wait any longer than absolutely necessary.”

    Tiska looked back down at the parchment, then turned to Roji, who was still waiting at the top of the stairs. He shrugged and motioned her to follow him down.

    When she arrived in the kitchen, Roji already had the stove lit, and was slicing beelo into a pan. She leaned against the wall and scanned the parchment. “Well, what does it say? We’ve been part of the rituals before, but just for generating more charm, not as speakers.”

    “Actually, for a lot of the other rituals, I do have a single phrase I’m just repeating over and over, to collect and then release the charm. For this one, obviously he’s got the primary part, and I’ve got the secondary, as the charm receptacle, but it looks like he’s condensed all of the rest of the parts and given them to you. You’ve got more lines than I do, but it’s mostly just a few phrases repeated a bunch of times.”

    Roji continued chopping vegetables, and adding spices. “He just said we have to practice it, right? Not memorize it?”

    “Yeah, and a lot of times he’s reading his lines during a ritual. You shouldn’t have much trouble anyway. Here’s one of your lines.” She read off a string of eight syllables that sounded like they contained too many consonants.

    “Yeah, I recognize most of those words. What does ‘pkunk’ mean?”

    “Peace, or tranquility, or something like that.”

    “That makes sense, followed by the negative ‘mfk,’ since we’re trying to summon a warrior.” After another pause, Roji spoke up again. “This is almost done, can you get some eggs?”

    “Sure.” She put the parchment down on the counter and went out into the stable. Roji picked it up with one hand and continued stirring with the other. Yeah, it was just a lot of repetitions of the same few lines.

    What caught his attention was the note, “repeat until release” near the bottom, next to a pair of lines, one for Tiska and one for the master. Then he noticed another similar notation earlier, next to another pair of lines, this time one of them was his own. This was a complicated rite, and called for multiple stages of orgasm, for the various people.

    He began practicing his lines, trying to wrap his mouth around the strange combinations of sounds. “Pretty good, but that ‘thp’ sound isn’t voiced, and the ‘p’ sound at the end really just means a hard, solid cutoff, you close your lips to stop the ‘th’ sound,” Tiska said as she came back in. “Only two eggs today,” she held out two red orbs with faint violet stripes, slightly larger than her fist. “I think the hubbers are annoyed at me for not getting out there and feeding them earlier.”

    “Yothp. Yothp. Yeah, that does sound better. Do you need to go back out and take care of the rest of the animals now? I’ll finish this.”

    “I should, thanks. Just leave mine here, and I’ll get it, neh?”

    Roji cracked the eggs and stirred them into the rest of the sizzling food. He continued practicing his lines until the eggs were cooked, then waved the fire out and scooped the mush into three bowls. He carried one up to the ritual room, where he found the wizard in much the same position Tiska had been in the night before. He whispered a heating incantation to the bowl, and silently left it near the basket of chalk. The master would find it eventually, and he probably wouldn’t notice until then that he was hungry.

    On his way back through the lab area, Roji picked up the remains of the lemma and munched on it. Back down to the kitchen, his own bowl of food, and the parchment.

    By the time he finished eating, he felt pretty comfortable with his part in the ritual, including knowing his cues. He could also feel the effect just practicing was having on his charm. His entire crotch was throbbing, and it was just as well he didn’t have a free hand, or he would have been stroking it. Tiska still wasn’t back, so he heated her bowl as well, and took it and the script out into the stable area.

    She heard him coming and turned, glancing down at his bulge. “Here, eat, and study, I’ll do the rest.” She thanked him and straddled a bench, placing the parchment in front of her so she could read it. Roji looked around, and quickly surveyed what had been done and what still needed attention. Thiri was eating, and her stall had been swept out. The hubbers and the veros had been fed, but their area of the stable was still a mess. The maleroks and deenx still needed to be fed as well.

    Periodically Roji would recognize one of his cues, which reassured him about his own skill, that he wouldn’t screw it up under pressure. At one point, he interrupted her. “Is that how that’s supposed to be pronounced? ‘Sthrak?’ I was saying that ‘sthrok.’”

    She blushed slightly. “That’s how my previous master said it, but that may just have been his accent. And mine too, neh? We should ask about that.” Yes, her and her cute musical accent, “tooooo.”

    By the time they finished with the animals, the sun had climbed high and Roji was dripping sweat. They called their parts back and forth, smoothing out their pronunciations. His erection had subsided with the manual labor of shoveling manure, but it resurged now that he was repeating his part of the ritual again, and he could feel the charm rebounding within him.

    He looked over at Tiska, who was still seated, no longer straddling the bench, but leaning back against the wall behind her, her eyes closed and her legs crossed. As he watched, he could see her thighs clench and press together beneath her robe.

    Her flaring nostrils told him that she could smell him walking toward her. He could smell the musk radiating off of her too. He stopped just out of arm’s reach and panted for a moment. “It’s too bad he told us we have to contain our charm until the ritual.”

    She opened her eyes, which were level with his bulging crotch, and let out a growl. “I was just thinking it’s a good thing he did, because otherwise I’d jump you right now.” She stood and gazed up at him. “As it is, I suspect we’re both headed to wash, which is a bad idea as well, neh? You go first, so you’re not looking at my bum on the way up the stairs. I’ll check on the critters in the house.” She held herself back, still out of reach. He wondered if that was intended to prevent unnecessary temptation, or just so he wouldn’t see the wet mark she had left on the bench.

    “All right, fine. You’re right,” he sighed as he walked past her and up the stairs. As he climbed, he heard Tiska draw a deep breath, and the parchment crinkling. He pictured her chest heaving with that breath.

    The stairs emerged into the main lab, and Roji was about to leave toward the bathroom when Sezithorum emerged from the ritual room. He commonly doffed his robe while crawling around on the floor of the ritual room during preparations, because it got in his way. Sometimes he also had to tie a rag around his penis, to prevent his ooze from dribbling and smearing the lines. Roji had seen it before, and it was always a struggle not to laugh.

    “Do we have any bestra?” he burbled around a mouthful of eggs and vegetables, still shoveling more into the hole in his beard. “Even unripe ones will do.”

    Roji sputtered for a moment, caught off-guard by the question. “I… don’t know. I’ll check,” he replied, turning to go back down the stairs.

    Tiska had followed him into the kitchen, and was breaking up greens to feed to the rebik, Pfarth, and some of the birds. Roji descended and started toward the pantry, then stopped. “Do you know if we’ve…” He trailed off as he noticed the wet spot on the back of Tiska’s robe.

    “If what?” she asked, turning around.

    Roji stifled a laugh. “Nothing, just the big wet spot on your butt.”

    Tiska glared at him briefly, then returned to tearing leaves, more forcefully than was strictly necessary. “As if you don’t have spak tracks all over the inside of your robe.”

    “Umm, right. Anyway, do you know if we’ve got any bestra? He’s asking for them, even if they’re not ripe yet.”

    “Nope, it’s been a dry season, they’re running late. They’re still too small and green now, nobody’s picking them yet. What does he need them for?”

    Roji shrugged. “The ritual, I guess.”

    Tiska turned to face him again, and cocked her head to the side. “That does kind of make sense. The style of the bestra flower is one of the longest in the world, between where the pollen gets deposited and where fertilization occurs, in the ovary. And since we’re trying to transport someone from one world…”

    Roji had cocked his head to the other side, and was just blinking at her. She trailed off self-consciously, and shrugged. “Well, it makes sense to me, neh? Just go shower,” she admonished, picking up the knife from the counter and waving it at him. Roji shook his head silently and scaled the steps again. He heard another deep breath behind him, and he was pretty sure she didn’t intend him to hear her say, “You smell too tasty.”

    Back up in the laboratory, Roji crossed to the doorway of the ritual room and looked in. Sezithorum held a crystal in front of him in his left hand, his head tilted back and his eyes closed, speaking softly to it. Charging the paraphernalia was the last major step before starting the ritual. Roji waited for him to finish, then caught his master’s attention and repeated Tiska’s diagnosis on the current state of the bestra. “Ah, well, we shall have to do without, then.” He raised another crystal and began whispering to it.

    Roji turned away and continued down the hall toward the washroom, which sat on the south side of the house, between his chamber and the master’s. As he opened the door, he spooked several songbirds, which hastily departed in a colorful flurry of wings.

    The room was almost entirely vegetative. Bamboo, specially bred and enchanted to withstand years of weathering, formed the floor and walls. Lining much of the walls was greenery of many shades, with blooms scattered throughout, the plants spilling from pots or growing directly from pockets of dirt between the culms forming the floor.

    Large-diameter bamboo culms, cut in half lengthwise and nested together, formed the roof of the inner portion of the room, and funneled rainwater outward. The covered portion of the room contained a receptacle for water and a seat that, when uncovered, led down through the ceiling of the stable, to a barrel that collected their manure.

    Roji had been familiar with the idea of a two-story method of collecting manure, but before coming to live with Sezithorum, had never seen one himself. Most people he had associated with weren’t affluent enough to have a house with multiple floors, they just had a stool and a bucket.

    The fancier houses, like the one his parents lived in, did have a special closet with a box enclosing the bucket. The box was then accessible from outside the house, rather than inside, which made changing the bucket both more of a hassle, in having to leave the house to change the bucket, and less, in that it no longer had to travel through the house. The deciding factor was that keeping a cover on the hole in the seat helped to keep the smell and the bugs out.

    The basin for holding water was nothing new either. It was how the water got there that was so special. There was a series of reed-like tubes that brought the water from a cistern to the ceramic depression, and another set that drained it away to be used for irrigating the crops. That kind of arrangement was only possible with the application of charm, to put pressure on the water to get it to flow uphill, and to keep it from leaking out at the joints between the segments of tubing.

    What was even more wondrous was that it wasn’t just a stream of cold water. With a twist of a knob, he could change the temperature of the water. And the same was true on the rain deck, the outer part of the room.

    The southern wall of the room consisted only of a curtain of seashells, small vertebrae, and glass beads on strings. Beyond the curtain, the room debouched onto an open platform surrounded by a bamboo bench with a railing behind it. The deck extended to the left, and had another similar curtain leading into the master’s washroom on the opposite side of the wall. Arrayed along the edge of the roof were four spouts that also spewed water, and were controlled by a bank of knobs on the wall between the two curtains.

    Roji shrugged out of his robe and dropped it on the floor. He pushed past the curtain and turned on two of the nozzles. Normally, he preferred hot showers, but right now, he really needed to cool off, in various respects. He let the chilly water play down his face and chest, tracing rivulets across his firm abdomen and down his thin legs. He wasn’t scrawny, there was definitely meat on his bones. The problem was that his bones were so visible.

    He turned around and let the water spray the back of his head and run down his back. He looked out across the plains to the south. Huge tracts of land, planted with grain that rippled in the breeze. The zephyr blew across his skin as well, chilling him. His erection had now subsided completely, and it felt good to finally have the pressure off. The cold was causing his testicles to crawl back up inside his body, however, which wasn’t so comfortable. It was also reminding him that he hadn’t emptied his bladder yet this morning. He aimed for the drain and relaxed, sighing as even more pressure flowed out of his loins.

    He was still rinsing salt off of his body and out of his hair when he heard another nozzle come on. He looked over and saw Tiska, testing the temperature on her own stream of water. She carefully avoided looking at him as she removed her robe and draped it over the railing. The wet spot on the back had faded and shrunk, but it was still present.

    Roji watched as she stepped into the spray. Droplets bounced off the curve of her shoulders and slid past her shoulder blades. They crawled along the small of her back, detoured around the arc of her hip, and disappeared into the cleft between the globes of her rump. Roji ached to trace the same paths with his fingers, and then with his tongue. He felt his groin heating up again, despite the chill in the water.

    Tiska heard the other water nozzles shut off, and heard Roji’s whistling approaching behind her. “I Wish You Could See Her Beauty.” Was that intentional? Probably not. He probably still didn’t realize he was doing it. She ignored him, scrubbing at the accumulated dried sweat and dirt coating her body, studiously keeping her back to him. She wanted him. She couldn’t acknowledge him.

    Warm water might have been a mistake. The heat on her chest drew more blood flow, making her nipples more sensitive, and her hands rubbing over them made them stand up. She wanted his hands making her nipples stand up.

    He softly touched her ears with his fingertips, dragging them along the rim, then fluttering her earlobes as each finger flicked past. Involuntarily, Tiska’s back stiffened and she stood up straighter. Both arms drifted down to rest at her sides, and her head tilted sideways. Roji’s fingertips descended her neck, his touch blending with the droplets that streamed over her skin along ever-changing tracks.

    He stepped in closer again, and she felt a cold mass press against the small of her back. Within heartbeats it became hot, hotter than the water, hotter than her own flesh, and a roaring bulge nestled itself between the twin moons of her rear. Water ran down his chest, the rivulets converging on his spigot. The stream tickled as it flowed past her puckered orifice, then along her curtains, stroking them as it drained away. Increased sensitivity from the warm water and the extra blood flow that it encouraged made her even more aware of the teasing contact. She wanted to feel him brushing against her lips, his caresses engorging them.

    A shiver ran from her hips up her spine, ending in a shoulder shudder and a shake of her head. Roji’s fingers continued down across the curve of her shoulders, and down the outside of her arms. She drew in a breath sharply and bent forward, rocking up on the balls of her feet. She grasped the side rail of the deck for balance and ground herself backward against him. Her knees bent outward, spreading her thighs, just enough. She gasped when his shaft slipped forward – finally! – and brushed against her pulsating vulva.

    “Yes,” she moaned. “But no.” She stepped away, turned, and sat on the bench, crossing her thighs and glaring at him through the spray of water. “As much as I want to help you with that – and you me – we’re not allowed to right now, and for good reason, neh? From the looks of it, this summoning is going to be complicated enough as it is, we don’t want to run into problems with running short of charm too, neh?”

    Tiska had sat down because the bench was in the way, and it was the farthest she could get from Roji without moving past him. She had crossed her legs in an attempt to close herself off from him, but the whole thing now seemed like a bad idea. Her eyes were level with his crotch again, and she was having a very difficult time keeping her gaze on his face. Her distended lips were rubbing against the seat and getting squeezed between her thighs, and she had to fight to keep her breathing steady.

    Even her arms, which she folded across her chest to shield her breasts from view, were causing her nipples to tingle and stand up even more. With every breath, they rubbed against her arms, drawing further attention, as well as blood flow to them.

    To her relief, Roji hung his head and stepped back. He muttered a quick drying incantation and left without another word to her. She sighed and slumped against the railing. It had taken an incredible act of will to pull herself away from him, and she didn’t know if she could have kept putting him off if he’d kept trying.

    She stood and returned to the water to finish rinsing off, but she couldn’t even do that without an endless series of tingles. Rubbing at a spot of dirt on the back of her knee sent jolts down to her toes and up to her clitoris. Scrubbing at the underside of her chin sent waves of lightning up to both ears and down her spine.

    At one point she caught herself with one hand gently pulling on a nipple, the other splaying her curtains and rubbing the nub between them. She forced her hands to her sides, and planted her feet flat on the floor. Drawing another deep breath, she turned the water off and stood there dripping for a moment.

    She couldn’t stay there, however. The breeze was caressing her just as sensuously as Roji had, eddies wafting across her chest and tonguing her ears, the evaporation of the water sending more chills down her back and keeping her nipples painfully erect. She hurriedly waved the water away and grabbed her robe.

    She slipped it on as she pushed back into the house, through the curtain of beads. There was an enchantment on them, similar to that on the doorway of the ritual room, that would keep the heat of the house in the inner part of the room, and prevent it from leaking out in the winter. The water outside could be made plenty hot enough to keep a person warm while bathing, even in the depths of winter, but the internal heat needed to be kept there. She only wished that the curtain could keep her own heat outside, and let her return to her normal cool self as she reentered the house. She closed her eyes again and took one more breath before opening the door.

    As she emerged, Roji was coming out of his room, the bulge at his crotch reduced, but still present. He smiled weakly at her. “I know I can’t come, but I could do something for you, if you want.”

    Her smile was warm but strained. “That’s sweet. And as tempting as that is, you’ll need to last as long as possible for the ritual, so no, I can’t let you anywhere near my methel between now and then. Have you asked about those pronunciations yet?”

    The brazier popped as the oil heated. Corking the bottle, Sezithorum turned and surveyed the room. All crystals were charged and placed, as well as the gong and seashell. The braziers were lit, and loaded with the appropriate oils and herbs.

    He pulled the rag from his aching staff and wiped the ooze from the tip again. He would be glad to be rid of that mildewed book. It needed to be locked away, where none could be influenced by it – and not just for safety. Its stimulatory effect was too pronounced, and could get the weak-willed into serious trouble.

    Looking up, he saw his apprentices in the doorway. “Are you ready?” he called to them.

    “Yes, master, though there are a couple—”

    “Let me hear you recite your lines,” he ordered, sweeping between them back out into the lab. They proceeded to do a dry run of the ritual – although “dry” was hardly the word when all participants are actively secreting fluids.

    Sezithorum clarified that yes, in fact, “sthrok” was the correct pronunciation, but that “sthrak” was an acceptable variant, accounting for individual accent. Not that anyone in this day and age could truly pronounce the words correctly. “It will not matter, however, as long as you are confident and clear in your thoughts. Roji, have you learned to use the copy parchment yet? You two must each have a copy to which to refer.”

    “I believe so.”

    “Tiska, check him. Then we will begin.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    Sezithorum crossed to the sitting room and motioned to a large pillow on a low wooden frame. It lifted to about knee height, and at his behest floated toward the ritual room. He gently settled it to the ground in the southwest quadrant, careful not to disturb the chalk lines. The lines would inevitably get scuffed as events proceeded, but by that point it would no longer matter.

    He collected and removed all unnecessary leftover accessories, then took one last look around. “Thus do I return to active duty,” he mumbled sorrowfully.

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