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Sake

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About Sake

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  1. Sake

    The Bee and Barb

    Nothing could ever be as bad as that time in Cyrodiil. She had gotten into trouble with the Imperial Legion for things that were absolutely not her fault, and with all the fines to pay and counts to stand before and jail to go to, all in one day, she never really had any good opportunities. Add on top of that getting carted around everywhere, with guards that would certainly have been displeased if their transports needed cleaning, and being under constant watch whenever she wasn’t being moved from one place to the next… Update soon (TM). In the meantime, here's some art of our favorite little suthay girl by the great @Jailor Eckman. If you've been following the story you know where that little blurb of narration came from. Khajiit may be innocent of these crimes, but knowing that doesn't seem to be making her situation any better. For legal purposes the image is technically of a catgirl of indeterminate species who just happens to also be named Azhani.
  2. Sake

    Zombieville

    1B. It just makes sense.
  3. Sake

    Zombieville

    Police station sounds like the best bet. Also imagine having a proofreader hanging out in your discord server nearly all hours of the day and not consulting him before you post things.
  4. Sake

    Equal Opportunities and Equality

    So just a disclaimer real quick that whether or not the system in the West is still rigged against women and minorities is an entirely different discussion that I'm not going to get into here because it's not really relevant. 'cause you're right. You don't solve problems with discrimination by just doing more discrimination. Or, at least, discrimination based on factors that aren't fitness for the task at hand, anyways, because that's the only sort of discrimination that actually makes sense. Sometimes the most qualified candidate for a job is a woman. Sometimes it's not. That's okay, because as long as there's nothing inherently preventing women (or men) from getting the job on the basis that they are a woman (or man) then any problem is imaginary. And, honestly, I would find it to be pretty insulting if a business were to assume that they need to actively prevent the opposite sex (or other races, but that's not this discussion) from getting a job for me to have a chance at it. You just end up minimizing people's actual qualifications and making everything about what's in their pants. However, the one point you're wrong on is the very last four words here - you're implying that people are equal, which is, strictly speaking, untrue. But that's not actually a problem - fact is people aren't in reality equal to other people. But that's okay. Some people will have more than others, some are better at some things than others, some are stronger than others. That's all okay, but as long as only the directly-relevant differences matter - and, to use an example relevant to the topic, sex is never a directly-relevant factor because it doesn't actually equate to any skills, personality traits, etc. It can indicate that a person is inherently inclined to be better at one thing or another (because fact is that male and female brains are just straight up different things), but it hasn't actually got anything to do with what they're capable of in reality - then there isn't an equality problem because everyone is already being treated as equally as possible. Nobody deserves anything just because they're a man, or a woman, or anything else. Everyone has to earn their place, and that is what equality is.
  5. Sake

    Zombieville

    Let's go home.
  6. Sake

    Clerical Corruption

    It's not really a "Person A forces Person B to hold it against their will" story then, is it? But yeah I ain't usually into forced holding where everyone involved isn't on board with it. I can enjoy stories like that, but a lot of things need to come together just right for that. Otherwise it's just rapey and that's a big ol' nope from me dog.
  7. Sake

    Storm Area 51

    I'll clear everything up for you, then. There isn't.
  8. Sake

    Request art from me!

    You know what would be great? I've got a khajiit. Adorable little thing. Short, flat, kinda thin. Her fur's all black and she's the breed that walks on their toes. Anyways, her, but she's peeing against a tree, standing. I imagine she'd be totally naked in a situation like this, but nothing would show on her chest anyways and her tail could easily get in the way of the other details, y'know? Could be like a river in the background or something, or just a generic foresty-green thing. If it's something you'd be down for, I'll let you decide how experienced she is with it so you can have a bit of fun with her face and getting her fur wet and the like. Also it's crazy that you don't charge money. Just thought you should know that I am personally offended by not needing to pay cashmoneydollars for this service. Not really though, it's great.
  9. Sake

    Zombieville

    Use the spoon.
  10. Sake

    Jailor's Art Request Thread!

    Yes, usually when something is "a play on" something else, it's not going to be 100% accurate.
  11. Sake

    Masterful

    The crowds packing the halls of Medru Dalach dispersed instinctively at Cel’s approach, first-years who didn’t know any better being dragged aside by upperclassmen. Nobody made eye contact with her – they had enough problems already without provoking her one way or another. Of course, it wasn’t like she went around trying to pick fights, but even so, by now people knew better than to disturb her without good reason. It wasn’t all that easy to socialize with her anyways, and while she did have a handful of close friends (hardly any of whom she’d met at the Academy) she’d made it clear that the distractions from her studies were not appreciated. So she walked in silence, with the confidence of someone who’d committed a map of the grounds and halls to memory. This was Cel’s seventh year at Medru Dalach, of course, and while it was quite large it was very intuitively designed; not at all hard to navigate. Most of the difficulty in getting around was that there were so many people, but that had long since stopped applying to Cel. She walked into a room without even looking at the signage to confirm which room it was, and moved directly to take a seat at what would be her desk the entire year. This room was something of a laboratory, large with one wall covered entirely in windows, and filled with a sprinkling of large tables that could easily seat a dozen people each. Shelves full of books and assorted magical and miscellaneous items lined the wall opposite the windows and in the middle of the room was a furnace and a handful of anvils. Cel’s seat was at a desk on the far side of the room from where she’d entered, beneath a large chalkboard with a handful of old paper diagrams stuck to it. She was the first to arrive – well before anyone else would even consider showing up – and as someone had already come in to light all the lanterns in the room she had plenty of time to look over her notes. It may have been her first day back this year, but that didn’t mean she had any excuse to be unprepared. Come to think of it, it was her first day for a lot of things. As with most other members of her Order, she’d normally wear loose-fitting golden robes, but now Cel adjusted the collar of her new white shirt, undoing the top button so it didn’t feel like she was being choked by her own clothes. Her pants weren’t much better – they weren’t too bad, but they were tight and always seemed to be in an uncomfortable position. She really wasn’t used to wearing stuff like that, since beyond her armor which she’d maybe only wear for an hour or two at a time once a month, she’d always worn robes and skirts with nothing under them except the minimum required to maintain decency. But now she had an appearance to maintain, and this was the way to do it – even if it meant she’d have to stuff herself into constricting garments and show off a little more of her modest figure than she would have liked. For an hour the only sound in the room was that of papers being moved as Cel consulted her notes, checking over diagrams to ensure they and the descriptions of them were accurate. The first few students to arrive didn’t even seem to notice her presence as they found seats at the large tables and similarly looked over whatever important documents they had with them. But as the room filled, they started talking to each other, and the few times Cel looked up to survey the room she could see one or two of them pointing in her direction and talking in hushed tones. Whatever they were talking about, though, she didn’t care. It was probably true anyways, and either way she was well aware of all the rumors about her that had been circulating for the past few years. No need to waste her time trying to suppress them when they weren’t doing her any harm. The room had filled well before the bell in the Council tower rang out – these were seventh-year students, and by now they had no excuse to be late to the first class of the year. When it stopped ringing, she stood up and moved out from behind her desk, all eyes now on her and the room dead silent. Cel spread her arms and gave a little bow of her head before breaking the silence. “Well,” she said. “Here we are again, huh?” Then her arms folded and she continued. “I already know all of you and you already know me. And you know that I don’t want to waste any time here. Whatever you’ve heard, you heard right. Especially –“ She tugged lightly at the blue sash she was wearing. “If you’ve heard about this. Now, my status may have changed but my expectations haven’t. You show me respect, do what you’re here to do, we’ll get along fine like always. You make trouble…” Cel gave a little chuckle. “Well, you already know how that would turn out, don’t you? Anyways, all you need to know is that this is not going to be an easy class, but we’re gonna do a lot more practical work than theory, so we’ll have a bit of fun with it. But that’s enough talking. Let’s get right into it, unless someone has questions…?” A single hand went up near the front of the room, and the person to whom it was attached stood up when Cel pointed at her. Cel was familiar with her – they’d had adjacent dorm rooms for the past six years. “Well, uh, excuse me Ce- er, Councillor, but…” The woman was a good eight years older than Cel and was tripping over her own words. “Uh… don’t you think it, eh, it’s a bit… weird… that you took our class specifically?” Cel shook her head before answering. “Of course not. Nobody else – not the other eight, not any of the professors – knows you guys as well as I do. I’m sure it’ll be a little uncomfortable for a little while, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. Who better to teach you than someone who was, hardly four months ago, your peer? I know what’ll work, what won’t, so we won’t have to waste any time figuring it all out. And speaking of wasting time…” The Councillor’s eyes scanned the room for a moment. The woman whose question she’d answered had sat back down and nobody else seemed to have anything to say, so Cel turned around and picked up a piece of chalk. For the next couple of minutes the only sound was of the chalk rubbing against the board, until finally Cel turned around again, now standing in front of a complicated diagram and a few unusual equations. “This should be a good place to start,” she said, pointing with her thumb over her shoulder. “Divine alloy, mystic alloy, whatever name you’ve heard for it. We’re gonna make some. I’ll show you how to do it and then, well, you do it. I’ll need, uh…” Cel looked around for only a moment and pointed at two different people. “You, and you. Get over there.” She waved a hand in the direction of the forges, and the two elves she’d chosen hurried over without a word. Cel herself took a moment to browse the shelves for a handful of different metals before joining her two assistants and laying out the metal bars on an anvil. Cel lit one of the forges and got to work immediately. For ten minutes, she worked with the bars she’d brought, running her hands across them and moving them into and out of the forge, all the while narrating her process. Her assistants added their magic on her orders, and eventually Cel was magically pulling a blob of liquid metal with a peculiar bronze color. “Now, you’re supposed to be able to do this regardless of what sort of magic you’ve got. If you can’t, you did it wrong. But if you did it right, you should be able to…” The metal gradually took on a more corporeal shape as Cel’s hands moved about, eventually settling into the form of a razor-sharp dagger which Cel grabbed out of the air. “… give it whatever shape you want. Once you’re satisfied with its shape,” she said, stuffing the knife into some compartment in her new robes. “You can solidify it, and you’ve got yourself a more or less indestructible whatever-you-made. You can’t reshape it once you’ve locked its form, though. Nobody’s figured out how to do that, so… Well, if you somehow manage to do that I’ll definitely need to know about it.” Then she clapped her hands together once and said, “Now go ahead, sort yourselves out, and get to work. There’s… a good forty minutes left to this class. Should be plenty of time.” Cel spent the rest of the class at her desk, carefully watching over her students to ensure nothing was getting out of hand. It was a bit disorderly, as she’d expected – only one of the groups had no more than the minimum six people, and all the others had an extra mage of one element or another helping out. None of the groups had gotten it quite right, but everyone was talking to each other trying to figure out what went wrong, so as far as Cel was concerned the lesson was working. She took a drink from the waterskin she’d had hanging by her hip, attached to a piece of her robe that served as a belt. It was almost entertaining watching people who just last year were her fellow students now running around following her orders. Councillors didn’t have to teach classes, but Cel was very much enjoying her decision to do so. This was what she’d been working towards for twenty years. She raised her waterskin in a little toast to herself, and took another drink. Having this sort of power was fun, and it was power she’d damn well earned. Though, more importantly, of course, was the responsibility of being part of the joint leadership of the Academy, and Cel certainly wasn’t about to let that get the better of her after everything she’d done to get there. It would be a bit of a learning experience, but then again, what wasn’t? Cel stood up at the exact moment the Council tower bell started ringing. The class, which would have normally been prepared to leave ten minutes ago after becoming so familiar with the Academy’s schedule, seemed to be taken by surprise and rushed to clean up after themselves. They hesitated to leave, though, only hurrying out the door once Cel gave a little dismissive wave of her hand. She stayed behind until the last of them had left, giving the room a quick last survey to ensure it was clean enough for whomever would have it next before she left as well. She took her sweet time in the halls, not having anywhere in particular she needed to be. She’d decided to work her way over to the Council tower, but there wasn’t any pressing need for her to be there just yet. Soon enough Cel was the only one in the halls, the tower bell signaling the start of the next class. Nobody wanted to be late, after all, especially not with her prowling around. And with nowhere to be and no truants to chase down, Cel now had an opportunity to admire the architecture of the place. She’d never really gotten a good look at anything before, always in a hurry to get to one place or another, but now she was looking at every little detail while she wandered along in whatever direction she was headed. For a bunch of five-thousand-year-old buildings, Medru Dalach sure did look nice. A glance out one of the hallway windows gave a view of the marble outer walls of the other buildings, and inside the walls were a beautiful light bluish-gray stone with some intricate designs carved in where they met the dark wooden floor. Bright lanterns hung from the ceiling and were mounted on the walls in places. Cel made her way down a flight of stairs made of the same stone as the walls, down a short hallway and through some large doors leading to a mess hall. It was quiet this time of day, with only a handful of students and possibly even a professor or two hanging around with nothing better to do. None of them gave Cel any more attention than a quick glance in her direction, and she didn’t pay them any heed either, making her way over to a counter set up with various drinks. Having already had breakfast, Cel simply made herself a cup of tea and walked right back out into the halls with it in hand. Her slow walk continued, and she stopped every so often to take a sip or two of her tea, working her way to the Council tower. She eventually got to the plaza that connected all the buildings on campus, taking one last break on a bench near the Academy’s central lodestone, an obelisk taller than some of the buildings around it, to finish off her tea. Once that was done, Cel decided to skip the rest of the walk and a great deal of stairs – primarily the excessive amount of stairs – and simply touched the lodestone, closing her eyes for a moment. There was a brief sensation of wind rushing past her, then Cel found herself standing near a little shrine on one of the tower’s higher levels. Across the room there was a desk, at which was seated a silver-haired elf wearing the same robes as Cel. He was hunched over what seemed to be papers of some kind, only looking up once Cel reached the desk. “Ah, there you are,” he said, standing and offering a handshake which Cel readily accepted. “There’s a lot to show you. Would have done it earlier, of course, but you’ve thrown that off a little by taking a class already.” “Was that not what you were expecting?” “Not particularly,” the other Councillor said. “But it’s not an issue really. Come, I’ll… show you to the proper offices. Just up these stairs here.” He passed through a doorway to a staircase, Cel following close behind, and the two continued to talk on the way. “I must say, Cel,” he said. “You seem to have adjusted quite well to your new station. Many of us never teach classes, never mind that being the first thing we do when we get here. Seems we were right about you.” Cel stopped briefly to give a deep bow of her head. “Why, thank you, Master.” The response was a light chuckle. “Oh, but it seems it’s not so easy for you to drop the formal tone with us, is it, Maestress?” The last word had a teasing emphasis on it. “Old habits, Varassus,” Cel said, mimicking his tone. “How long did it take you to start calling Theryl or Sentagon by their names, hm?” “Sure, fair enough. Though in my defense, they’re forty years older than me, and it’s very hard to act like people so senior to you are your equals. Ah, but, here we are.” Varassus stopped to hold a door open for Cel and followed her into the room. Aside from the space occupied by the stairwell and what seemed to be a handful of closets, the room took up the entirety of this floor of the tower and as such was a massive circle. Some desks were scattered around, organized into strange shapes with many of them piled high with any number of things. One of the desks was occupied, and four more Councillors stood over a small table at which the last two were seated. Varassus went directly to this table, and Cel followed quietly. Cel recognized the two seated Councillors as Esgobion and Teragon. Esgobion had been the sole vote against offering her a Council seat, and Teragon had said only a single word during Cel’s trials – he had a bit of a reputation for saying as little as possible, a trait Cel could sympathize with. The two were playing a game with which Cel was not particularly familiar, and though she’d seen it played at the Academy from time to time she didn’t know its name or its rules. All she knew about it was that a square board was laid out on the table, and had a grid of squares that alternated between light and dark painted onto it. The two Councillors were moving a little army around, one black and one white. Varassus leaned in close to Esgobion, and Cel could hear him quietly say “Ng5,” whatever that meant, to the other elf. Apparently, it didn’t mean anything of value, as in response Esgobion shoved Varassus aside with one hand. “What? Why would I do that? Do you see his queen? Get out of here.” “Bah, you never take my advice.” Varassus turned back to Cel and vaguely gestured out towards the rest of the room. “Well, you can go ahead and find an empty desk or two or ten. Get yourself set up however you like. Not too much work to do just yet, so relax for a bit, then when you’re ready one of us has to show you how to set up the trials.” And with a curt nod, he headed back downstairs, leaving Cel to wander the office on her own. She headed first for the only occupied desk, where a Councillor was busy studying what seemed to be essays of some variety. “How’d you end up stuck with paperwork on the first day, Madrelos?” She was looking over his shoulder has she spoke, and though he seemed to jump a little in his seat he was mostly unphased, only giving a brief glance back at Cel. “Council applicants,” he said with his impatience clear in his voice. “We get a good few during the off-season, and we’ve got to sort through them all, toss the ones we don’t want to bother with, and set up the interviews for the ones we do want.” Then he shrugged. “Pain in the ass, but someone has to do it.” “Couldn’t we just stop taking applications for a while?” Cel folded her arms. “There’s a mile-long list of people who already passed the trials, isn’t there?” Madrelos sighed. “Sure is. Consider yourself lucky you got an invitation and skipped the line. You and Theryl are the only ones here who managed that. The rest of us had to wait a good three years or so.” He dropped his pen and turned around to face Cel properly. “And we were lucky to wait any less than fifteen. There are people on that list who’ve been on it longer than you’ve been alive. But, we close off applications, we’re blinded to new talent. Sure, some people will die waiting to get in, but I’m sure you’re well aware of how high our standards are. It’s one thing to be good enough to get our attention and pass the trials, but if someone better comes along afterwards, we’re taking them first.” Another sigh and he turned around again. “But we’d never know if someone better might come along later if we close applications. Nobody likes sorting through them, but sometimes you strike gold and that’s what makes it worth it. Now, uh, I’d like to get through at least a tenth of this before the day is out.” “Yeah, have fun there.” Cel took only a few steps away from Madrelos and examined the room. Things seemed to be strewn about at random – the desks that had anything on them didn’t have any logical placement in the room, and most seemed to be two or three separate desks all pushed together. The unoccupied desks were almost as bad, relegated to the edges of the room but still positioned without any care. Though the edges of the room also featured some very nice, if unremarkable, windows. It wasn’t so much the windows themselves that were impressive, of course – sure, they were made of flat, clear glass, which even a King would consider a luxury anywhere else, but that was standard at the Academy. And those simple blue curtains pulled out of the way of the sun’s light weren’t anything to write home about either. But that view… Cel grabbed one of the free desks and dragged it over to a nearby window, shoving the desk right up against the wall below the window. Then she found a chair and brought that over, and sat down to watch the outside world. This side of the tower looked out on the bulk of the campus, and at this height any observer would have the perfect angle just far enough above all the buildings to properly admire the size of Medru Dalach. It could be a perfectly functional city if it really wanted to, and from here it was easy to see why. But Cel couldn’t just sit around staring out a window all day – her body had other plans, for one, and while it currently seemed to only be making a suggestion and not a demand, it would be wise to take care of that little problem before it became an actual issue. She’d still have business to take care of afterwards, of course, and it wouldn’t make much sense to add unnecessary distractions. So she got up, calmly smoothed out her robe, and went on a bit of an adventure to see what was in all the side rooms on this floor of the tower. Most of them were storage space, as was expected, but one was exactly what Cel was looking for. It was a small room, with little in it beyond what was necessary – though it was a little ostentatious for just the bare minimum. The Academy, after all, made unique use of running water indoors, thanks to some sort of ingenuous use of magic that allowed fresh water to be carried around through pipes in the walls. A marked improvement over having a bench with a hole in it that led who-knows-where. Cel’s hands found their way under her robe to drop what was there to the ground, then she took her seat. She couldn’t help but think that the whole setup was a bit strange, even if she did know it helped keep things around the Academy a lot cleaner and healthier. There was just something inherently not right about the muted sound of her urine striking water beneath her even if only for a few seconds, and the cold ceramic seat wasn’t exactly comfortable either. But then, comfort wasn’t the primary purpose here, was it? When she finished, Cel stood up and negotiated her clothes into a position where she could return her pants and underwear to where they were meant to be and drop the blue robe to cover them again. A few steps over to another wall and she was standing before a mirror hung over a stone counter – the counter had a bit of a bowl-shape carved into the middle, and a pipe came from the wall and aimed directly at the hole in the center of the recession. Cel turned a knob on the pipe, causing it to issue cold water in a manner not at all dissimilar to what she herself had done seconds before. A moment to wash her hands, turn the water off again, and straighten out her short black hair, then Cel left the little room behind. Then she went straight back to her desk – her own desk, in the Council tower! – and stood by it, leaning a little over it with both hands planted flat on top. More to stop them from shaking than anything else. The feeling struck her almost out of nowhere that this must have been a dream; a dream that she would have wet herself out of by now with her little bathroom trip, but a dream nonetheless. But no, it was real. Surely it was. Wasn’t it? ‘Deep breaths,’ Cel told herself, looking straight at her hands for some anchor in something she could be sure was true. After all, how could everything around her be real? Six years. That was it. How could all this happen in six years? Seven years ago, she was celebrating becoming a proper adult, going off into the world on her own as an absolute nobody. Two years ago, she had respect. She had a name; not a big shot by any means, but she’d made a name for herself. And then… last year. That sixth year. That was it. The year that took this nobody girl from nowhere and ensured the entire world would know her name. Cel brought up one arm and wiped her eyes with her sleeve. She was proud of herself, and she damn well had every right to be. She’d worked hard, not just for the six years she was a student at the Academy, for her entire damn life, all twenty-two years of it. And this was her reward. She hadn’t thought about exactly what that meant before now, and it was all a bit overwhelming. Years’ worth of sweat and blood and now suddenly Cel was one of the nine most powerful people on the planet. The youngest person to ever be one of the nine most powerful people on the planet. Just a few years at Medru Dalach and she’d made history all on her own. ‘But it’s not over yet, is it?’ Cel answered her own question with a little shake of her head. She couldn’t afford to have people start second-guessing her reputation – her life’s work – when it was all she had. ‘No… No, this is where it starts.’ She may have already proven herself, but now she had to fight to keep everything she’d already fought so hard to get. ‘Because, if I don’t-‘ “Cel?” The young Maestress was pulled from her thoughts by a familiar voice off to her side, and she turned her head to find its source. “You alright?” Sentagon spoke calmly, his concern obvious in his tone and the creases of his aged face. Cel nodded and took a deep breath. “Yeah, I’m… I’m fine. Just… Just, uh, haven’t quite totally accepted that, eh… that this is real, y’know?” Sentagon raised an eyebrow, and watched Cel search his eyes for some hint that he knew what she wouldn’t say – but if he did, he wasn’t saying anything about it either. “Yeah, it is a bit overwhelming at first,” he said, offering up a cup of tea he’d carried over – Cel took it with a quiet word of thanks and took a few sips while the elder Councillor continued speaking. “But, here we are. We dedicated our lives to magic, and this is where we ended up. It’s always hard to understand that we really have done it. You just need a little help adjusting.” “Thanks, but, uh… I don’t need help. What I need is to get to work. Soooo,” Cel dragged out the last word before cutting it off with another sip of tea. “If you really want to help, you think you could show me how to get the arena set up?” “Hah, I should have expected as much from you,” Sentagon said, putting a hand on Cel’s nearest shoulder. “Just follow me, I’ll show you everything.” Then he left, and Cel followed, still working on the tea she’d been given. They passed by the board game again – this time it was the unparalleled strategist Renagor who was sat across from Teragon – and went back down the stairs without a word. Cel didn’t mind being left to her thoughts, so long as she could avoid the darkness Sentagon had stopped her from falling into again. She didn’t like that part of herself, but it had a point. Cel’s name was everything to her, and if anything should change to make people think less of her, her life would be ruined. It was a terrifying concept, a dreaded future Cel had worked hard to avoid. That darkness had driven her ambitions, led her to Medru Dalach, to the Council. But it wasn’t welcome – fear was no true motivator. Sentagon was one of a rare few who Cel trusted completely, one of the few she could be her real self around, and perhaps the only person outside of her own kin she could turn to when the darkness resurfaced. The two had stopped in a side-room near Varassus’s desk so Sentagon could make more tea, and while Cel leaned against a wall by the door she considered voicing her concerns and asking for advice. But she couldn’t find the right words, and in any case she really did mean it when she said she wanted to just get right to work – work would help her. It would be something to do, something to focus on. Even better, it would be difficult, and that sort of pressure would keep Cel occupied and happy. Sentagon would teach her how to handle that pressure and ensure she knew what to do, and she would do as he showed her even when he was no longer there to see or care. But for now Sentagon was here with her, ready to teach her the ways of the Council, with cups of tea in hand for the both of them. Cel had already finished the first one she’d been given – it hadn’t been full when she got it, so overall it went by faster, but it was still gone either way – so she took the second with a quiet nod. She wasn’t really thirsty, but this tea was special and reminded her of home. And, well, of course it did, because this tea was from home. Though Cel had been there just last week, and she was by now used to home being halfway across the world, the taste of something made by the priests of the Celestial Order was deeply comforting. Sentagon clearly thought so, too – a brief search of the room while the two spent some time quietly drinking revealed he had a lot more stuff from home stored here. Cel helped herself to some of his bread, absentmindedly working on a slice while her tea gradually disappeared. “Oh, uh, I should probably mention…” Sentagon spoke without the conviction Cel had come to expect from his ancient voice. “We’ll actually be having a brief meeting today, right after lunch. It’s nothing terribly important but if you’d like to get a handle on things around here you’ll want to get yourself ready for that.” “Whah? A meeting?” Cel’s voice was muffled by the bread she was trying to speak around, until she swallowed it, followed up with some tea, and continued. “A meeting on the first day? That never happens.” “Not normally, no, but, eh… Like I said it won’t be anything major, nothing we’d need to get too involved in, so it’s better if we get that out of the way first so it doesn’t keep us from real business later in the year.” “Huh. Well, it’s something, right? Nothing interesting, then?” Cel looked into her cup and finished off the rest of her tea all at once. Sentagon shrugged. “Eh, it rarely is anything interesting. Today it’s just some people looking for funding for their research…” He put a hand on his chin and pointed vaguely as he spoke. “And we’re also meant to see High King…. whatshisname… Ontarius. He’s bringing his sons to… Ah, well, I don’t remember what he said they’re coming along for, but it’s just a routine visit, nothing special.” “Uh…” Cel raised an eyebrow and set down her teacup. “Sorry, I got a bit lost when you said ‘High King’. I’m not quite understanding how a visit from the man on the Bleeding Throne could be called routine.” “Hah, yes, I suppose you wouldn’t be used to things like that yet, would you?” The elder Councillor crossed his arms. “It’s pretty simple. A High King shows up around here about every fifteen years to get up to speed on things we’ve decided in the time since the last visit. They like to adjust their laws to stay in line with our rules, and it’s not rare for leaders to do things like that. Used to see the same thing with the Cysgod Emperors, but they’ve not come in person since Renagor joined the Council. Not much reason to come all the way out here when you’re related to one of the Nine, I suppose.” Cel nodded slowly and quietly. “That… Yeah, that makes sense, I suppose. But, um…” She motioned with her hand towards the door. “Trial caves?” “Right, right. Just come with me, then. We’ll get this wrapped up real quick for you.” Sentagon left the room when he finished, and Cel followed closely. The two went directly to the shrine Cel had teleported to earlier, Varassus paying them no mind as they passed him. Cel stood back for a moment while Sentagon went first, walking directly towards the shrine and sticking his arm out in front of him so his hand brushed against it, never slowing down. He seemed to dissolve into dust and then vanish completely as soon as his hand touched the shrine. Cel waited a bit before approaching more carefully, stopping when she got within arm’s reach of the shrine and only then laying a hand on it. A moment passed where nothing happened, then her vision faded and she could hear the roaring of intense wind, and when her vision returned she was clearly underground. Her surroundings were familiar, though she didn’t remember them as well as she did the rest of the Academy – she’d only been down here once before, for this was not a place to which one came often. Still, it was perfectly recognizable as the trial cavern, or at least its entry hall – the arena itself was beyond a few rooms carved from the underground. In front of Cel was a gate she couldn’t see past, but knew blocked off a little residential area with all the necessities for a single person to spend a few days living in. Past that was the simple preparation area that had little more than a bench and a table in it, and farther still ahead was the great arena, a large empty circle with an observation room somewhere far above. But the gate was sealed, and nothing beyond it was of any use just now. Sentagon spoke from somewhere behind Cel, and she turned to see him sitting cross-legged against a wall. “Figured you’d be down here,” he said. “You’re going to have to get used to teleporting into the box, you know. But for now here’s as good a place as any to explain how this works.” The young Maestress took a seat next to her elder, and looked over at him. “I’m listening.” “Well,” Sentagon started, taking a deep breath. “It’s simple, theoretically. You’re familiar with soulbinding. It’s the same concept, except instead of binding clothes or armor or a weapon, you bind the entire arena so you can call on it again later. Which, unfortunately, means anything you need for any trials you set up you need to bring with you all the way down here, or else set up some teleportation network for them. I’m sure you’ve seen it doesn’t do much to limit our creativity, but it does get rather inconvenient.” Cel nodded. “Right. But if that’s how it works, where did stuff like Attraeon’s lodestone come from, or the obelisk Teragon had for me?” “I’m not entirely sure where Attraeon got the lodestone from. You’d have to track him down and ask him. As for Teragon, though, I’d imagine what he made for you was made from the arena itself. Use the cave’s stone to build whatever you need. And I know what you’re going to ask, yes, you can use earth magic on the arena. Teragon was blocking it during your test for him but that’s not something that happens often and there’s nobody to stop you if you’re here alone anyways.” “Makes sense. And I’d have complete control over what I put in the arena?” Cel shifted around a little bit to get more comfortable while she spoke. “Wiiiithin reason. You can’t, of course, design a trial for someone that they’d never be able to pass. If they fail, it has to be because of their own shortcomings, not the test itself. And you can’t do anything that’s particularly likely to kill the applicant either. What Renagor did for you is basically as far as you can go with putting people in danger, and that was really only acceptable to begin with because you’d have failed and ended the test if you couldn’t pull up some bound armor. If things get too dangerous, we have to intervene and that just doesn’t end well for anyone. So… just don’t be an idiot.” He got a chuckle in response. “Ah, geez, I’ll have to try really hard then.” Sentagon wasn’t laughing. “Please don’t joke about this. You’re a smart woman. You know how serious this is.” “I know, I know, I’m sorry. Now, um, is there anything else I need to know?” “Actually, yes.” Sentagon reached into his robes and procured a small, simple gemstone. “The arena configurations are too complicated to soulbind to yourself. Back in the early days, the Council came up with these things to channel the binding through. These stones will keep track of everything as long as you know how to work the magic that way. It does get a little more complicated, however...” “How much more?” “Do you know how to associate binds with words, or images, or something like that?” Cel shrugged. “Probably. Never had to do it, but I bet I could. That’s how those work?” “In a way. You know hard it is to unbind something. These stones remember a lot of trials and with how many applicants will actually take the trials each year it gets very hard to keep track of them. So the most common thing to do is to associate a particular arena setup with the applicant’s name. Makes it very easy to recall. If we were up in the box I’d show you the test I had for you right now.” “And all I’ve got to do besides that is keep that thing in my pocket?” “That’s… an option.” Sentagon handed the stone to Cel. “Most Councillors have theirs made into jewelry. The magic on the stones doesn’t weaken if the stone is cut, so it’s perfect for rings or amulets. Of course though, neither of us are very comfortable wearing jewelry, are we?” When Cel gave a light shake of her head, he continued. “So I just had mine fitted into my belt. I’d recommend you do the same, or find some other article of clothing you always wear that you can keep it on.” “Okay, yeah, that all makes sense. But there’s gotta be more, right?” Sentagon stood and extended a hand to help Cel up. “Eh, no, that’s about it. There’s just a little bit to explain with the enchantments up in observation but you can figure that out when you’re actually overseeing a trial. Until then you just have to familiarize yourself with the stone and practice binding things to it. You’re already teaching classes, and you’ll see how to handle our meetings soon enough. I’d say you just have to find a way to kill some time before lunch.” “I suppose I’ll get this stone figured out then,” Cel said, rolling the magical gem around in one hand before eventually shaking Sentagon’s hand with the other. “That would be wise. If you need anything, I’ll be in the tower.” Then he disappeared in a cloud of dust, and Cel turned to the arena gate. An hour or two past noon, Cel found herself sitting at an elevated crescent table with the other eight while they all listened to some windbag researcher beg them for a sizeable loan to fund his studies. Something about an explosive powder that he thought could be used to launch projectiles more efficiently than any siege engine. While the concept was rather interesting, Cel couldn’t bring herself to pay attention to his droning explanations about what he would do with their gold. It didn’t sound very practical, especially not when mages could already do far better than what this scientist was describing. And she had more important things to focus on anyways. She’d stayed in the arena until noon learning how to use her new binding stone – which for now was tucked away in a pocket – and all the tea she’d been drinking meant she’d needed to make a detour to relieve herself beforehand, but that was hours ago now. It probably wasn’t helping that she drank quite a lot while she practiced, and went directly from the arena to lunch without stopping anywhere. At the time she didn’t think it necessary, and though she was aware of her need by the time she’d finished her meal – which she’d paired with just a touch more beer than normal – it didn’t concern her enough to bother standing in any lines. Returning to the tower wasn’t much better of an option at the time considering she’d then have to lurk around doing nothing of value until the meeting started. So now she found herself surrounded by her Council peers, conducting mind-numbing standard business, with a decidedly full bladder. It still wasn’t quite uncomfortable yet, but it was enough to give Cel another reason to want to get out of the meeting as soon as possible. These researchers never seemed to shut up… This one eventually did, though, and when her turn came Cel gave a little wave of her hand and said “No”, though she seemed to be outvoted and not long afterwards the researcher left the room to go find whomever would give him his money. Cel could hear Varassus sorting through papers to her left, and to her right Theryl had stood up for a moment to stretch. She didn’t pay either of them much heed, instead just absentmindedly chewing her fingernails while she waited for someone else to come into the room. Hopefully there wouldn’t be too many more and they’d all get right to the point. “One more for today…” Cel heard Varassus muttering as he looked over his papers. Soon enough everyone else settled down and Cel folded her hands in her lap and tried to make herself look like she wasn’t about to fall asleep. Varassus called for the next person, and Cel watched the door. When it opened, three men walked in, one clearly older than the other two, and all of them dressed up to look important. The eldest wore a long red coat trimmed with white fur, and his brown hair was marked with streaks of gray that matched the color of the silver coronet on his brow. The other two men bore a remarkable resemblance to him, and must have been his sons – they were dressed like their father, only their coats had less fur and were a slightly darker red. Cel watched the three of them settle in before the Council, and briefly looked one of the sons dead in the eye. He turned away with a red face as soon as he noticed she was looking at him. She leaned back as Varassus spoke, no longer paying much attention as he described what the meeting would entail and the High King introduced himself and his sons. Cel settled in with her elbow on the arm of her chair and her hand holding up her head while Varassus rattled off a list of Academy policies that had changed recently. Once again, she was barely paying attention, listening only enough to understand what the First Councillor was saying while waiting for the meeting to end. High King Ontarius would interrupt every so often with questions, and one of the Councillors would waste yet more time answering him. Cel, fortunately, was not expected to actually speak here – questions seemed to be answered by the Councillor with the greatest expertise in the relevant area, and Varassus was as much of an expert enchanter as she was. She could sit back and let him answer any questions that she would otherwise have needed to speak up on, leaving her free to ignore the discussion and look around for something interesting or some other such distraction. This meeting certainly had dragged on for quite a while though, and while Cel was still certain she had everything under control, she knew she definitely needed to leave soon. And not just because she needed to pee, either – that prince kept looking at her, and as amusing as it was to give him a death glare and have him hurry to look elsewhere, she really didn’t like being gawked at like that. Cel didn’t much appreciate being stared at by some royal as if she were an exotic novelty. It was like he’d never seen a woman before. Nor did she appreciate how long and uneventful all this was. Perhaps if it were something entertaining she’d be able to keep her mind off her bladder for a while, but it was the only company she had while time dragged on. If she’d known the meeting would take this long, she’d have gone beforehand just to be safe, but she had made her choice and had to live with it, as annoying as the results were. It wouldn’t be a problem if they’d just wrap up soon… Eventually they did, after who-knows-how-long, just as Cel was starting to believe it to be impossible. Varassus said something that sounded pretty final, and all the Councillors stood up. Cel followed along with them as they worked their way around the table to get down to where the royals were still hanging around. Ontarius greeted the Masters one by one, introducing each of them to his sons, but for one of the Nine he reserved a special greeting. The High King approached Renagor, and gave him an awkward hug – awkward only because Ontarius, who was not by any means a small man, stood at eye-level with the Councillor’s chest. “Renagor,” he said afterwards. “It’s good to see you! I think I may have missed our last family reunion. How’s your nephew?” “Arianwyn is doing well,” was the response. “Or, Tywyll now, I suppose. Even after nine years I still haven’t quite gotten used to calling him that.” Renagor gave a half-hearted chuckle. “He’s doing his best to live up to his father’s name, but, you know, he’s just not the man my brother was. He’s not the Emperor my brother was, but I can at least hope that he’s taking his job as seriously as Tywyll did.” “I’m sure he’ll be great. And you’ve been well yourself, then?” Renagor gave an affirmative answer, then Ontarius turned to look at Cel, who had approached while the two were speaking. “Oh, and is this the new Maestress I’ve heard about?” “Cel of Korohn,” the young Councillor introduced herself, extending a hand. She almost recoiled in surprise when the High King took the hand, bowed, and kissed it as one of his vassals might do to him. “Er, right,” she said when he’d finished, wiping that hand on her robes. “And I take it you are Ontarius Variisar.” “Indeed I am, Maestress,” the High King said, bowing his head. “And these are my sons, Orelion…” This prince performed a similar bow when his father motioned to him. “…and Zacarius.” Zacarius gave a nervous salute – he was the one who kept looking at Cel, and his face was as red as his coat now. Then he quickly straightened up and attempted to put on a formal look. “Right.” Cel paid Zacarius no mind, focusing on Ontarius… and her body’s calls to leave, which had become quite loud. She couldn’t get caught up in a conversation now, and though she’d heard the High King say something to Renagor that had piqued her interest, she reluctantly had to let it go and deal with more immediate concerns. Renagor himself could explain later, anyways. “Good to meet you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I should be going…” Ontarius gave Cel a quick look up and down, hopefully not noticing the very slight fidgeting she was now doing. “Of course, Councillor. I won’t keep you.” He stepped aside, clearing Cel’s path to the door. “Enjoy your day.” Cel gave a little wave as she left, moving directly for the stairs to get back down to the offices. Sure, she could just teleport down to that floor, even directly into the bathroom, but overreliance on magic like that was lazy and irresponsible and possibly even a serious invasion of privacy. Plus, it wasn’t that far down anyways, and the exercise would be good for her. So, a quick jog down the stairs and… Cel was slammed into by some student who nearly tumbled back downstairs, grabbing the railing to keep from falling while Cel found her own footing again. “Are you blind?” The Councillor composed herself and tried to step around the reckless student and get on her way again, the sudden shove of a whole person colliding with her not doing her any favors, but before she could the student’s voice stopped her. “Ah, sorry, Maestress,” she said, quickly, Cel just now noticing that she looked out of breath, her eyes wide and hands trembling as she held onto the railing. “But there’s… uh…” She stood panting, trying to say something, but Cel interrupted her attempts to make sense. “Calm down,” she said, as if it were an order. The other woman – probably no higher than a fourth-year, considering she looked to be around Cel’s age – nodded and tried to force her breathing to slow down enough to speak properly. Cel followed up with another order. “Now, tell me what’s so important.” The student stammered for a bit before she could finally say something coherent. “Um, there, uh… some girls got into a fight in the dorms, and… it got a little out of hand, and…” “Out of hand? Was anyone seriously hurt?” “I don’t know, I didn’t see anything. I was just told to get a Councillor.” Cel nodded. “Right. I’ll go take care of it. Go tell the others what I’m doing, then get yourself a cup of tea or something. You need to relax.” Then she disappeared, magically jumping to the little shrine below the offices, then from there to the plaza lodestone, and then from there straight to the entrance to the women’s dorms. ‘How does this shit happen,’ Cel thought while she ran in the direction a passing student had pointed her towards. ‘On the first fucking day?’ Her full bladder reminded her that it needed attention, but she forced herself to ignore it for now, despite each step jolting the organ and sending even louder signals that it needed to be dealt with. But it had to wait. This was more important. Slowing down when she reached a crowd, Cel pushed her way through, occasionally giving orders for people to move, until she reached the front, where a professor was trying to keep the crowd in check while doing damage control at the same time. Cel couldn’t see much other than a charred door lying in the hallway. “Professor,” she said, sharp and loud enough to get his attention. “What happened here?” He looked at her quizzically for a moment, muttering “Cel? Okay,” before clearing his throat and answering the question. “Well, uh, Councillor, what we have here is… I don’t know exactly what happened, but I am told a relationship… fell apart, let’s say, and one of the girls involved went to cry to someone else about it, so she went to go confront the ex-girlfriend, and then nobody seems to have seen what happened, but, long story short, there’s extensive damage to those two rooms, and we’ve got one in the infirmary burned pretty badly. I have been told that she will be fine.” “Alright,” Cel said. “And everyone involved was… how old?” “All third-years, I believe, Maestress. Young. I think they’re younger than you, even.” Cel nodded. “Okay. Anything else? Where’s the one who… did all this?” She waved in the general direction of the broken door. “Got her under watch in that room there.” Nodding again, Cel headed silently for the door the professor was pointing to. She stopped just before opening it, taking a deep breath and preparing herself – not for what might happen on the other side, but for the additional wait she’d need to force her bladder to endure despite its demands that it be emptied immediately. She closed the door behind her once she entered the room, which as an office for the overseer of this part of the dorms was fitted with a desk, a few chairs, and more than enough bookshelves. The window on the opposite side of the room illuminated from behind two guards in gold-trimmed plate and a very angry-looking woman sitting unbound in a chair. ‘Tying her up wouldn’t stop her magic anyways,’ Cel mused to herself while considering the humor of keeping such a dangerous individual under watch without any restraints. The guards bowed their heads towards Cel as she approached, stopping just outside of arm’s length of the woman in the chair. “So,” she said, crossing her arms and trying to stand still and sound serious despite her pressing need. “What made you think any of that was a good idea?” “I’m not telling you anything, bitch.” Cel shrugged. “Fine. You don’t have to. You can always just accept being banished from campus. Or you can explain what happened here and hope that’ll be enough to get me into a merciful mood.” “Fuck you. You wouldn’t expel me. Do you even know who I am?” The Councillor scoffed and rolled her eyes, discreetly pressing her legs together. “No, and I don’t care. You could be a King, and it wouldn’t change anything. All I know is,” she said, leaning forward slightly. “That someone’s recovering from major burns because… What? Because you couldn’t handle getting rejected by your girlfriend?” “I dumped her, moron. And is it supposed to be my fault that she went crying to her dumb friend about it?” “Uh, yeah, kind of.” “Oh, fuck you. I’m the heir to Elien, it’s my right to keep a harem. She’s the one who thought she was special.” “Right…” Cel’s patience was wearing thin, on two fronts. “Well, if you’d prefer to just keep digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole, be my guest. Your inheritance doesn’t give you the right to assault people and try to blow up a building, and if you think it does, you can fuck right on off out of here. You’re lucky to get away with just an expulsion after what you’ve done, you entitled little-” Cel was cut off by a punch to the gut, leaving her bent forward cradling her stomach. It didn’t hurt that much, but she’d been hit in exactly the right place to cause her underwear to become uncomfortably damp and warm. She groaned, still feeling the impact well after she’d regained enough control to not soak herself. When she straightened up again, the ex-student was in the hands of one of the guards, her own hands forced behind her back. She just glared at Cel and struggled against the grip of the guard. “Uh…” The young Councillor tried to sound tough again. “Ah, right. Put her on the first boat back home, and make sure her mother hears about what happened.” Giving what she thought was a wicked grin but was more likely just a strained, vaguely-angry expression, she added, “I believe attempted murder and assault are grounds for disinheritance in the Elienid Matriarchate, right?” The ex-student’s eyes went wide and she struggled to break free as she was dragged out of the room, screaming at Cel, “You can’t do this to me! I’ll make sure you suffer for this!” “Sure you will,” Cel said, watching the door slam as the guards left. As soon as they did, Cel sighed and crossed her legs, jamming a hand between them. The short skirt of her robe was pressed against the white fabric of her pants, now far tighter and even more uncomfortable than usual and by some miracle still white. “Oh, fuck…” She was running out of time, there was no denying that. If she could come up with a plan, she could still make it, but she had to act fast. Was there anything in the room to help her? No, not even a potted plant. And the dorms didn’t have bathrooms like other parts of the university, since every room already had accommodations. No, wait, it did have bathrooms – bathing rooms, actually, and it was a very well-known secret that baths all over campus were often dyed yellow when lines were too long or a better solution was too far away. Yes, that was the perfect solution. The baths would recycle and clean the water on their own using old but effective technology. There wouldn’t be so much as a hint that Cel had even been there at all. Wait, no, that wasn’t an option either. She’d never make it if she tried to run that far, and she couldn’t keep herself under control and teleport at the same time. There had to be something closer. Something private, if that was at all possible. Something like… her own room! She’d lived on campus as a student, and since she technically hadn’t reached her tenth year at the Academy, she would still own the room she lived in until then. And if Cel’s memory could be trusted in her current state, it was just down the hall, down a flight of stairs, and around a corner. She could make that. She would make that. Giving herself one last squeeze, Cel straightened up and put her hands to her sides, then took a deep breath and walked out of the office. There was still a bit of a crowd trying to figure out what was happening, but she simply commanded “Move,” and a path was cleared for her. Some people tried to talk to her as she passed, but she ignored them. She ignored everything except her plan. She walked slowly but confidently down the hall, careful not to spill anything but certain that she could hold on long enough, shoving people aside who wouldn’t move when she asked them to, and receiving no complaints when people realized that she was a Maestress. Her certainty faded as she got closer to the stairs she needed to take. This hall was a lot longer than she remembered, and her bladder wasn’t letting up on its insistence to be emptied. Very much the opposite, in fact. Not too far from the staircase, Cel stopped and pressed her legs together as discreetly as she could, though it wasn’t enough to stop another leak. And then another. And then she used all that was left of her strength to stop, standing frozen with her hands trembling at her sides and her legs shaking as they refused to separate from each other. Cel felt weak and tired. She refused to believe it was possible, but she legitimately couldn’t do anything anymore. If she so much as took a single step, she’d lose all control. Tears started to appear in her eyes and she hoped nobody was watching. She was out of options. Out of time. She shut her eyes and felt her last ounce of control slip away from her, as her muscles failed her and left nothing stopping her bladder from draining itself into her pants. In a final, hopeless attempt to do anything, she clenched her fists tight, groaning from the effort of doing even that. She didn’t know if it was going to work. She didn’t expect it to work. It shouldn’t have worked. But, somehow, against all odds, her magic had saved her. Her fists maintained a water spell, holding back her urine where her body wouldn’t anymore. It was dangerous. She shouldn’t have done it. She’d regret doing it later. She was probably already hurting herself. But she was dry, almost, and as long as she could keep up the magic she would remain dry. Cel took a tentative step forward, then another, and when she realized her magic was enough to keep her flood at bay while she walked, she started moving as fast as she could to the stairs, then down. She forced herself to not start crying while she walked, trying to suppress all the thoughts about what had very nearly happened to her, and what could still happen if she should drop her magic. She was exhausted and her head was starting to hurt, but she had to dig up just a little bit of energy, enough to last the rest of the way. If she couldn’t… Then she would disgrace herself, literally pissing away twenty years of hard work as her entire reputation fell apart because she wet her pants like a child. She’d already done that once in public. People could excuse that happening once – it happens to everyone, once, after all. And she’d done it again with an unexpected audience of a single person, during the most important tests of her life. But her sole spectator swore to take the secret of what he witnessed to his grave, and he didn’t even really seem to care that it had happened in the first place. But to have it happen in public, as a Maestress on the Council of Nine, after all that… She would be absolutely ruined. She didn’t want to think about it, and tried very hard not to, but she couldn’t help it. It was the only thing that came to her mind over her short walk to her room, because even the thought that she just wanted to get somewhere she could properly take care of her bladder just led back to those thoughts. Cel didn’t know where she was getting the energy from, but she was glad that she’d found some source somewhere to save herself from the greatest shame imaginable. When she finally got to her room, she brought one quivering hand up to grab the door handle, her other hand balling up tighter to compensate and her body pushing against the door itself, causing her to stumble into the room. The Councillor looked around through a haze of tears, recognizing vague shapes that she could identify even in the dark. Her free hand rubbed at her eyes and she took a few weak steps towards the bed, falling forward once she was close enough. Then with one hand, still trembling, she started to probe around under the bed, feeling for what she knew was there somewhere. Her vision clouded again, this time purely because she felt like she was going to pass out if this didn’t end soon. She tried to reassure herself that it would, and actually cracked a smile when the hand under the bed felt the familiar cold metal, dragging the pot out far enough to use it. On her right hand, Cel’s nails pressed into her palm as much as was physically possible and she forced herself to stand up. She was so close. All she needed to do was get her pants off. Her left hand shakily pulled her skirt up to her belly, and she whined a bit as she looked down at what it had previously been covering. Even after all that, her bladder was visibly bulging out, but that wasn’t the worst part. Just a bit lower, the front of her white pants had become translucent, a big wet patch extending a little bit down her thighs and leaving very little up to the imagination. Cel was even pretty sure there was a hint of what was beneath even her smallclothes, but she didn’t have the time or energy to find out for sure. Slowly moving her right hand up to hold her skirt in place, praying that her magic would be able to hold out through the change in position, Cel slid her left hand down to do whatever it could to unbutton her pants so she could finally relieve herself. It was tough, of course, seeing as how she only had one hand to work with and that one hand couldn’t be kept still. She knew she could open a button like this with just one hand, but it definitely wasn’t going to happen if her fingers kept slipping away whenever she tried to get a grip. Cel groaned as she tried everything she could to get her pants open. That was all she had to do. Her insides felt like they were on fire from the artificial pressure put on her bladder. She just had to get her pants open and down and she’d be fine. But why was it so damn impossible? She wished she could do something to at least alleviate the pressure while she struggled with the button, but since she’d technically lost control quite a while ago, there was nothing she could do but release her magic and wet herself. And even in private she couldn’t bring herself to do that. Eventually, her wrestling with her pants was enough to get them unbuttoned, at which point, taking sharp breaths, Cel pushed her pants down to her knees – just as far as she could get them without bending over. Then she got into a clumsy squatting position, hoping she was over the pot, and hooked two fingers around the drenched white fabric of her panties. She didn’t stop to consider that she could already see quite clearly what was under them as they clung uncomfortably to her, instead just holding her breath as she moved the crotch of her smallclothes out of the way and opened her right hand, releasing the magic barrier between her bladder and the outside world. She started breathing again when she heard liquid furiously striking metal below her as her torrent immediately started at full power. Her breaths came deep and through her teeth as she kept her eyes closed and let her right hand drift down to the ground so she could hold her position. There was no doubt in Cel’s mind that she had gone well beyond all rational limits. It didn’t even feel good to finally relieve herself. No, there was just a stinging sensation and a dwindling burn within as her organs settled down from being overworked. She hoped she hadn’t caused any real damage, but even so she knew she’d have to rest for quite a while to make up for how she’d tormented her body. And she definitely couldn’t use her magic like that ever again. It had saved her from destroying her reputation, but at the same time it forced her body to do things it was never meant to, keeping her urine inside well after all her muscles decided it was time for it to come out. Cel opened her eyes after a minute and looked down at herself. Every part of her was shaking and she was honestly surprised that she was able to maintain her position, especially considering it wasn’t even really that good of a squat. She tried to cut her stream off so she could shuffle around to get more comfortable, but her body wasn’t listening to her anymore. Instead she moved slowly, careful to make sure she didn’t accidentally aim outside of the pot she was quickly filling, and eventually worked her way into a position where she didn’t have to hold herself up with one hand. She then brought her now-free right hand up in front of her face. It was trembling of course, and like most of her body drenched in sweat. There was also a hint of blood from where her fingernails had dug into the skin, though surprisingly it didn’t hurt very much. That hand then came down to rest on her thigh and Cel sighed, trying to relax and hoping it would be over soon. It took another minute for her stream to taper off unceremoniously, trailing off into a few final spurts and a couple of drops to indicate that she was finally empty. Cel sighed and stayed in position for a little while longer. Her bladder felt sore, and she knew it would for quite a while. At the very least, she figured, she’d actually emptied herself out completely. Though that wasn’t exactly a good thing – from her limited prior experiences, Cel knew that when she lost control, she usually only got about halfway empty before stopping again and being unable to drain any further for a while. If she’d actually fully emptied her bladder this time, that meant she’d gone even beyond her normal limits and worn out her muscles enough that they just wouldn’t shut her bladder down again until there was nothing left in it. If nothing else, she was lucky she only felt a little sore, and not in any real pain. She’d pushed herself too hard, yes, but not hard enough to break anything. Not that she ever planned to get to that point, but still, it was a little comforting knowing she hadn’t done so yet. Now she was just more tired than anything else. The strain from holding for so long and all the energy she’d used maintaining her magic had completely exhausted her. With a deep breath, Cel released her panties and stood up, kicking off her shoes and getting to work on fully disrobing. She pulled at the little silver clasp on her shoulder, and when it came apart the blue robe over her clothes unraveled into little more than a sheet. She tossed it onto a little side table next to her bed, then bent down to slide her pants the rest of the way down her legs, dragging her panties along with them shortly after. These she simply left on the floor – they’d need to be washed very thoroughly anyways, so it wouldn’t do them much harm. And finally she got to unbuttoning her shirt, starting from the top and working down until her shirt was open, exposing without showing any details the fact that she wasn’t wearing anything beneath it. She probably should have, but for right now she was grateful that she didn’t have anything else to take off. The shirt came off and was laid down next to the blue cloth that went over it, and Cel stood naked while she contemplated the situation. She started to push the chamberpot back under the bed with her foot, but realizing how weak she would be for the foreseeable future, thought better of it and left it easily available. It wouldn’t be able to hold much more, but if she had to relieve herself again she wouldn’t have very much to contribute anyways. Then the Councillor’s attention was drawn to her legs, which were still wet with her urine and still had trails running slowly to her feet. She wanted very much to just pull the moisture away with magic and toss it somewhere it wouldn’t cause problems, but she was entirely out of energy and couldn’t bring herself to do that. But she did have to dry off somehow. Perhaps she had something lying around… Cel walked slowly towards the dresser she had against one wall, her devastated bladder leaking a few drops onto the carpet as she walked, having found a little more to let out. Cel either didn’t notice or didn’t care, and just kept walking until she got to her destination. Then she absentmindedly opened and closed drawers, looking for something helpful while she continued intermittently dripping. She didn’t have a whole lot there, perhaps as a consequence of her traditionally-ascetic lifestyle, so most of the drawers were empty and the ones that weren’t only had a spare set of underwear or two for if she ever needed them. She was too tired to want to bother with finding a proper towel or washcloth, though, so when she found a drawer with a set of old panties she never wore anyways, she grabbed them and gave her legs a good wipe down until she was… well, she wasn’t exactly dry, but she was dry enough. So she balled up another set of wet underwear and headed back to her bed, tossing the spare panties into the same pile as what she’d just changed out of. Then she simply fell into bed and crawled under the sheets. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew she really shouldn’t just disappear into her old room, not as a Councillor who might be needed on important business. But she was too tired to care, and honestly she was already falling asleep. She’d had a long, hard day, and she’d certainly earned a little rest. So Cel got herself as comfortable as she could, pulling the sheets tight around her body and pretending she had someone else there to cuddle. She drifted off to sleep easily enough, and let herself forget about everything that had happened throughout the day. Though perhaps it would have done her well to remember that she hadn’t shut the door... It was closed now, yes, but only because some unseen spectator wanted to cover their tracks.
  12. Thanks to MasterXploder for proofreading and to EtchyFox for expert advice. This is technically an immediate sequel to Clerical Error, though the bulk of the story has no relation to Clerical Error and reading it is not necessary to understand what's going on here. I don’t know how long we spent wrapped up in each other’s arms after I decided to forgive her for that silly joke of hers. I just know that we were quiet and we were happy, laying there all tangled up and covered in fluids as we were. Being in her arms made me feel safe and loved, and I always found it easier to fall asleep with her holding me. In fact, I was just starting to drift off when she gave me a little shake. I blinked a few times and ended up staring into her gorgeous brown eyes, just inches away from my face. She had that mischievous look that she always put on when she thought of something fun for us to do… or when she thought up a joke so terrible she knew I’d have no choice but to love it. “Hmm?” I knew I had a stupid smile on my face, but I couldn’t help it. It was hard not to smile whenever I looked at her. “Come up with a new joke, Azzy?” “No, you’re safe for now, El.” Asrielle ran a hand through my hair and started playing with loose strands while she spoke. “I was just thinking… Remember our first time?” “Mm, our very first time, or the first time we…?” “The first of my little games,” she said, barely above a whisper. “Now that you mention it though, you were such an adorable little thing when we got together for the first time. You got so flustered over just the tiniest stuff. And you are just the cutest when your face gets all red.” She pinched my cheek and added on, “Oh, but it can never compare to how lovely you are right now, can it, kitten?” I just had to let out a little giggle in response to both the compliment and the little chin scratch that came with it. “Y-yeah, honey,” I said when I could speak coherently again. “Of course I remember. Did you really think your kitten could forget something like that?” Four years ago, a year after we started going out, I was at Asrielle’s house, sitting in a chair with my hands tied up behind my back, my thighs tied to each other, and my feet tied to the chair legs. I was wearing that cute red-on-white naval shirt and the pleated black skirt that went so perfectly with it; and with my legs forced shut as they were, my white panties were hidden from the world. It was Azzy’s favorite of all my outfits, so it ended up becoming my favorite too. I had my collar on, and Azzy was holding the leash, standing right behind me with her empty hand on my shoulder. She was looking down at me, trying to seem tough, but I could see the hunger in her eyes. She wanted me real bad, but she couldn’t have me just yet. “Tell me, pup,” she said. “Do you know why I’ve tied you down like this?” I nodded. “Yes, my Lady.” I tried to look anywhere but into the inferno behind her eyes. “Remind me,” she said as she circled around to my front. “I…” I hung my head in shame. “I tried to touch myself without being told to.” I didn’t have to pretend this time – I actually did feel a little bad about it, but the way she looked and the things she was doing… I just couldn’t help it. I had to do something. But for as real as my shame might have been, it was obvious I was trying to use it to hide my excitement. What sorts of wonderful punishments did my Lady have in store for her pup? If my hands hadn’t been bound I would have gotten in trouble again just thinking about what we could do. “Yes, that’s right. Good girl.” She sat down in the chair she’d positioned across from me, just far enough away that the leash was pulled taut. She was wearing her usual blue dress under her lucky white jacket, and with the way she was sitting I could tell those were the only two things she had on. “And why is that bad?” “Uh, because…” I pretended to fight against the ropes, mainly to show off my figure. “Because only my Lady is allowed to touch my special place.” “Very good!” Azzy gave me a bit of applause, but then suddenly looked very disappointed. “Now you know how very sad it makes your Lady when she doesn’t get to help you when you get hot and bothered. It’s my job to make you feel better, pup, and I don’t like it when you try to do my job for me.” She continued, giving the leash little occasional tugs, just enough to force me to lean forwards for a second. “I know how much you need my help right now, darling, and you know I would love to help you. But you’ve been a bad girl, and I can’t do that if you’re not going to be good. However…” She stood up and walked towards me, lifting her dress just enough to tease me. “Perhaps I might be able to forgive you,” she said, hiking up her dress far enough for me to see everything before dropping herself down to sit on my lap, straddling me with her bare legs while she pressed her body up against mine and whispered into my ear. “If you can be a good girl and help your Lady first.” Then she slowly leaned back again, holding her dress up with the hand that also held the leash, and sensually rubbing her lower body and thighs with the other, almost as if it were an invitation. She was obviously struggling to keep her hand out from between her legs. “I’ll untie you if you can promise me that my body will be the only one you touch.” “Um…” For as much as I wanted my hands to be all over Asrielle, another want was brought to my attention when she pressed against me. I broke eye contact with her and looked around nervously. “Uh, wait, I-” Asrielle instantly dropped her dress and the leash and put both of her hands on my shoulders. “Is something wrong, babe?” She was so impossibly sweet. I’d hesitated for just a second and she was already checking up on me. She knew I wasn’t uncomfortable enough to invoke her mother’s name and call everything off, but she didn’t like the thought of me being any less than completely at ease. “N-no, I’m fine, just…” I looked around at anything but Asrielle for a while before finally settling on looking right into her worried eyes. “Um, I’m… really sorry to kill the mood, but… Could you untie me, please? I have to tinkle.” “Oh. Okay, uh… I thought you went before we started.” “I did, it’s just… been a little while...” Asrielle nodded and got off of me. “Yeah, I… suppose it has… Shit, I’m sorry, I didn’t think we’d go on this long. Uh, how bad is it, though? Could you hold it another hour or two?” “Maybe? I’d really rather just go for a wee though. We can continue afterwards, right?” “Yeah…” Azzy seemed conflicted and was clearly deep in thought. “Um…” “Honey?” I shuffled around as much as the ropes would allow. It wasn’t bad, but I wanted to go. “Ah…” She looked at me, then away again. “Ellie, dear?” It was kind of scary seeing my strong, confident Azzy acting nervous like that. “Um… Eheheh… Babe, do you think, maybe, you could please hold it for me? Uh, that, actually, kind of… that would, uh, make me feel… really good, to-to-to-to-to… to see you like that.” “What?” I raised an eyebrow at her, trying to look her in the eye, but she preferred to show me her flushed cheeks instead. “You would like that? If I… held my pee?” Asrielle nodded. “Mhm. O-only if you want to, though! I understand if you don’t, it’s… it’s no big deal or anything, just…” “Azzy,” I said, soft but clear. She looked at me with a strange expression on her face, like she was expecting me to call her disgusting and run off. I could tell she’d lost a good few girlfriends to that request. “It’s okay. If that’s what you want, I’ll… well, I’ll at least try it this one time. For you.” That made her smile. And seeing her smile made me smile. “Thank you, babe,” she said, leaning in for a kiss. I leaned into it as well as I could while tied to a chair, and she broke off after several seconds. “Just try it, that’s all. If you don’t like it, just say the word and I’ll never ask you again, we’ll just go back to normal.” “Well, we don’t have to go back to normal. If there’s anything else you want me to try instead, you can just say so. It’s kinda weird seeing you afraid to ask me for stuff like that. You know I love you too much to judge.” Her response was a giggle and a deep blush. “Yeah, I know…” Then she took a deep breath, and after a moment she turned to look right at me. The fire had returned to her eyes and it seemed like it was burning even hotter than before. “You ready?” I nodded. Without her pressing up against me I didn’t need to pee as badly, but I could still tell I had to go. I was curious to see what she’d want to do with that. “Great.” She pulled up her dress and sat on my lap like before, this time keeping a bit of distance. One hand found the leash she’d dropped and pulled on it to make me lean forward as far as I safely could. “You know, pup,” she said, jumping right back into character. “I think I’ve changed my mind. Letting you touch me would be like a reward for you, and I can’t go around rewarding bad behavior, now can I, girl?” I gave my head a little shake. “No, my Lady.” “Of course not. Now then, you just sit there and think about what you did while I come up with something.” She leaned back and lightened her grip on the leash so I could do the same. She had a hand on her chin and was looking off to the side, pretending that she was trying to think of something. She was obviously waiting for me to say something. I had a feeling I already knew what she wanted my punishment to be, but she wanted me to guide her into saying it. “Actually,” I said, “Would my Lady please untie me so I can go potty while she thinks of a punishment?” I wiggled my butt a little bit for emphasis. “Hmm…” My dear Lady put on a show of thinking about my request, then looked at me with her usual wicked smile. “No, I don’t think so, pup. Not this time. I’ve been too easy on you when you break our rules. If I untie you, you’re just going to misbehave again. So, no. No potty for you. Not until you’ve learned your lesson.” I put on my begging face and spoke with a little whine. “But I need to tinkle! Please let me go, I promise I’ll be good!” I was a little surprised by how natural it felt to say these things. It wasn’t all that different from how we normally played. She shook her head and I could feel her moving, gently rubbing herself against my legs. I felt bad that my hands were tied and there was nothing I could do to help her. “Nope, can’t do it. I do want to let you go. I really do. But I also want you to behave yourself, and with how often you’ve been bad recently, a promise isn’t enough.“ She gave the leash a gentle tug. “You do want to be good for your Lady, don’t you, pup?” When I gave a little nod, she said, “And you’re a big girl, aren’t you?” She smiled when I nodded again. “Well, a big girl doesn’t have any trouble holding it in for as long as she needs, right? And if you want to be good, you need to hold it in for as long as it takes me to decide you’ve earned the privilege of going to the bathroom again.” “How long is that?” Asrielle giggled. “Oh, as long as I want it to be. But if you’re really a big girl who can be good and hold it in until her Lady gives her permission, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, does it? You can wait however long you need to.” “But what if I have an accident?” She pulled a little harder on the leash this time, for just a second. My collar felt too tight around my neck for a moment, then returned to its normal comfortable fit. “You’re not going to have an accident. Not even just a little leak. Do you know why?” It really did sound like what she’d say to me during our normal games – except this time, instead of telling me I’m not going to get myself off, not even just a little touch, it was about piddle. So, naturally, my answer had to be the same as it normally would be. “Um… because I’m not allowed to?” “That’s right.” She tousled my hair with one hand, the other still holding the leash, ready to pull on it if she needed to. “You’re not going to let out even a single drop of pee-pee until I say so. You’re going to hold it all in and keep those pretty panties perfectly stainless white, because you don’t have my permission to have an accident. Understand?” I always appreciated Azzy asking if I understood things. That was her way of asking if I had any objections without breaking character. She cared so much about me being safe and having fun that if she ever wanted me to do anything even a little extreme, she’d ask if I understood and let me tone it down if I needed to, even if she wouldn’t enjoy it as much anymore. And since I’d never played like this before, I had to take a minute to make sure I could tell her I understood. I could already feel the need to tinkle, but it wasn’t uncomfortable yet. I knew it would get uncomfortable, but not until I got to the point of desperately needing to go. And I knew I could get hurt if I held it in too long, but I also knew that Asrielle would never let me get hurt like that. Worst-case scenario, I might get a little uncomfortable, but it was also uncomfortable having my leash pulled a little too tight or getting spanked because I’d been naughty. And I liked it when Azzy did those things. There was such a thing as good pain, and I could handle a bit of that. And I always knew what to say if I started feeling bad pain, and I could trust that Azzy would do her best to make me feel better if I did need to say it. I noticed that she was giving me a worried look – the fire was still there, but right now it was hidden behind a layer of obvious concern. After all, I didn’t answer right away, though even if I did she would have asked if I were sure, and she wanted to be certain that I wasn’t hesitating because she’d gone too far. It was a justified fear. This was a big request, after all – promise her that I wouldn’t tinkle even a little bit in my panties? I wasn’t sure if I could do that. But I definitely wanted to try, both for her sake and because I was starting to get a little curious about this stuff myself. How long would she make me wait? How long could I wait before I had no choice but to make a puddle in my chair? Those weren’t questions I’d ever considered before. If nothing else, now that I was asking the questions, I needed the answers. “I understand, my Lady,” I said. She raised an eyebrow, asking without words if I was sure. I nodded in response and some of the worry on her face faded away. “Okay, pup,” she said, something about her voice indicating she didn’t quite believe that I really wanted to do this. “If you understand, explain to me what you’re going to do now.” “Well, I’m going to hold my piddle.” I looked at her and she nodded, encouraging me to keep going. “I’m going to prove that I’m a good puppy by holding in all of my pee-pee until my Lady allows me to use the potty.” “And when will your Lady allow you to do that?” “Whenever she thinks her pup has learned her lesson.” “And what is that lesson?” “Um…” I actually wasn’t entirely sure. I knew why I was tied up and why I couldn’t make water, but I didn’t know how she wanted me to phrase what I was supposed to learn from this game. “Uh… the lesson is… that a good pup always obeys her Lady? A good pup does as her Lady says and never tries to do things her Lady told her not to?” “Hmm, maybe. Are you sure there’s not a more important lesson?” Azzy gave the leash a few playful tugs. More important? “Uh…” What could she possibly mean by that? Unless? “Oh! I know! Th-the lesson is that a good pup makes her Lady happy!” “Oh, good girl! Smart puppy!” Asrielle leaned over and scratched behind my ear as if I really were her dog. Of course that was the answer. Azzy didn’t just want me to mindlessly obey her every command, that wasn’t fun for either of us. Sure, her character of my Lady didn’t like it when I disobeyed, but in reality Asrielle loved watching me do things she clearly told me not to do. So that was the answer she was looking for – the one that applied equally to both her character and to her actual desires. “Now, does my pup know what would make her Lady happy right now?” “My Lady would be very happy if I waited to piddle for as long as I can!” I was actually getting legitimately excited, bouncing in my seat as much as I could while tied down and with my kind, beautiful, perfect beloved Lady Asrielle on my lap. “And how long can my darling puppy wait?” She sounded excited, too. She was loving that I was playing along like this. “Until my Lady says I can go!” “Excellent!” Asrielle reached under the bottom of my shirt and laid a hand on my tummy. “Now, I know it’s been a few hours since my dearest last went pee-pee. How badly does puppy need to go now?” I felt the hand under my shirt gently rubbing my belly, occasionally straying near the waistband of my skirt. I definitely needed to pee, but I needed her hand in my special place even more. I so desperately wanted her to go there, but she never did. She only teased and waited for me to assess my need for the bathroom. “Well,” I said. “I can feel that I need the toilet. I’m not desperate yet, but the feeling isn’t going away. It’s just a sort of dull pressure that’s always there and it’s hard to ignore. If I was allowed to, I would go potty now unless I was busy with something important.” “Wow,” she said, still rubbing my tummy. “I was just expecting a few words.” That made me blush. I didn’t think she’d see it as anything special. To me it was just like when she asked me to describe how much I wanted her to touch me. “I thought my Lady would appreciate a little more detail,” I said. “She certainly does.” Asrielle was still rubbing herself on my legs, but now she slowed down. “Hmm… Your Lady could do with something to drink. Are you thirsty, pup? Want me to bring you some water?” Now that she mentioned it, my throat was kind of dry from all the talking and begging I’d been doing… and after hours of drooling over Azzy in general. Probably mostly just that, actually. Of course I knew she had other motives behind wanting me to drink something, but I didn’t mind if it’d help her have fun. “Yes please, my Lady.” “Okay.” She worked her way off of me, leaving a slick feeling on my legs right around where she’d been. “You wait here, then, pup,” she said with a giggle. I always hated her sense of humor, but it was that cute sort of hate you feel when something’s so bad that it’s good, so I didn’t have a choice but to crack a smile too. She gave a little wave and walked off, and I had my eyes stuck to her for as long as possible. When she finally disappeared behind a wall, I sighed and looked down at myself. Just me and my thoughts now, until she got back. I shifted around a bit to get more comfortable in the chair and hopefully convince some of that pressure to go away. But it didn’t go away. I’d just have to accept that I needed to use the potty and there wasn’t anything I could do to need it any less. In fact, it’d just keep getting worse. I’d just sit here tied up until I was ready to burst, and then maybe I’d be allowed to go to the bathroom. Maybe I’d just be told to have an accident on purpose. Maybe I’d be untied, but wouldn’t be able to wait until I got to the toilet. I wasn’t too keen on experiencing needing to go that badly, but if that was what Asrielle liked, I could put up with it long enough to find out how she wanted it to end. That was the least I could do. If I ended up not liking this, we wouldn’t do it again, so I’d feel bad if the only time I did something she liked so much turned out to be disappointing for her. She’d understand if I wanted to quit, of course, but I wanted her to enjoy this as much as possible, so I resolved to hold on for as long as I could. I’d tap out if it started to hurt, but no earlier than that. That way, I’d keep myself out of trouble and she’d get to enjoy as much of the show as possible. I was kinda hoping she’d be merciful, though. We hadn’t been together in quite a while, so we were both craving each other’s touch. And it seemed like every little thing I was doing was just getting Azzy more and more worked up without any real release. Surely it wouldn’t be long until she couldn’t take it anymore, and she’d order me to go tinkle and come right to bed, where she’d rip off my clothes and we’d finally satisfy each other. I knew this was supposed to be a punishment, but I was confident she’d decide that I’d learned my lesson just as soon as she got too hot to tolerate. Before long she returned with a large jug in one hand and a little wooden bowl in the other. She set both down on the chair across from me, then pushed the chair close enough that even with my bound legs I could almost kick it. Then she picked up the jug and bowl again and took a seat. “Here you go, dear,” she said, filling the bowl with water from the jug. “Drink it all, please.” She set the jug down and brought the bowl up to my mouth, holding it with two hands. When I nodded to indicate I was ready, she tipped the bowl a little and let me drink for a few seconds, before moving it away again and waiting for me to be ready for more. We continued like that until the bowl was empty, and Azzy pulled a little piece of cloth from one of her jacket pockets and used it to wipe up any excess water from my face before sitting down again and filling the bowl for herself. She drank much faster than I did and even refilled the bowl when it got empty, only stopping once she’d finished her third bowlful of water in the time it took me to have just the one. “Would you like some more, darling?” She shook the jug to confirm that there was still enough left if either of us got thirsty again. “No, my Lady.” My response prompted her to set the jug and bowl down next to her chair, then she got up and knelt next to mine. I watched curiously as she carefully untied the rope binding my legs to each other, setting it aside and walking over to a nearby shelf to look for something else. I moved my legs as much as I could in the meantime, happy to be able to just do that and even happier for the chance to flash my panties to Azzy if she happened to look over. I had my legs open when she turned to me again, with two smaller ropes in her hand this time. She smiled when she saw the view I was giving her and the look I had on my face. I really needed to go to the bathroom, and I wanted to close my legs to help me hold it in, but the opportunity for a tease was too good to pass up. As it turns out, she actually did want my legs open, but for a different reason. She wrapped each rope around one of my thighs near the knee and with some clever knotwork tied my legs up so that they were forced open. I tried to bring my legs back together like they had been but the new bindings meant I could do little more than just shake them. “That should do it,” she said, sitting down again and crossing her arms. “I can’t have you trying to squeeze your legs together to try to hold it when it gets bad. And I really can’t have your panties out of my sight. I need to make sure you won’t try to cheat by piddling a little and just keeping your legs in the way until it dries so I never see it.” She’d certainly thought this through. Her planning was admirable considering this was all spur-of-the-moment, but I was still nervous anyways. That water was already starting to work its way down. I was going to be desperate very soon, and if I couldn’t use my hands or my legs to help hold it, I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to last. “Something wrong?” Azzy had noticed the concerned look on my face. “Um, not really, it’s just that I’m starting to really, really need the toilet. And I want to keep my legs together so I can hold it better but now I can’t.” “But other than that, you’re okay?” I nodded, and she visibly relaxed. “Good. Then perhaps puppy could explain to her Lady how she’s feeling now?” “Uh…” I tried to move around as much as I could while I thought of a way to explain what I was feeling. “I need to go, like, now. I feel, I dunno… full, I guess, but that’s probably just because of the water. And that pressure from before is getting worse, it’s always there and I can feel it more now. Um, it’s still not, like, really bad or anything, but I think it will be soon.” “Didn’t take long to get there, did it?” “Well, my legs aren’t stuck together anymore. If they were I’d feel better.” One leg started jiggling half-involuntarily. Asrielle just nodded. “And that’s why I’ve tied them up like that instead. I want you to tell me what you’re really feeling, so you can’t get anything in the way that’ll make you feel it less.” “Oh, I’m definitely really feeling like I need to go to the bathroom.” “Well, how about I help take your mind off it, hm?” She stood up and moved around to my side, picking up the leash and giving it a little upwards tug. In response, I turned my head to look up at her. She reached out with one hand, first to brush my hair to the side, then gliding down to stroke my cheek on her way down to my chin, which she held to keep me looking wherever she wanted. She made me look to my left, in the direction of her bedroom. “You see? That’s where you’ll get to go if you can be a good girl for your Lady.” Then she made me look up at her again. “Wouldn’t that be fun, pup?” “Yes, my Lady.” I had a hint of lustful enthusiasm in my voice. “Of course it would. But that’s a reward for good pups only, right? And you’ve been very bad lately, darling.” “I’m trying to be good!” Some of the indignation in my voice was real. “I know you are, pup. I know you want to show your Lady how good you can be.” She came around to my front, leaning in and bringing the hand on our leash over to grab at my collar. “So I think I ought to give you a little encouragement,” she whispered. “Just a little taste of how your Lady treats a well-behaved pup.” Then she put a hand on either side of my head and went in for a kiss. I leaned into it and we stayed like that for quite a while, her hands eventually straying down to follow the contours of my body all the way to my thighs, where she teased me by running her hands along them under my skirt, getting so very close to what we both wanted her to touch, but never actually getting there. She broke off eventually, prompting me to give a pitiful whine. I didn’t want it to end! But she pulled away anyways, picking up the leash she’d dropped at some point while she was teasing me. She circled around to stand behind me, my collar turning around as the leash moved. That was always a weird feeling. Not bad by any means, but it was just strange to feel the comforting leather embrace of my collar shift and rotate like that. I turned as much as I could to try to look at what Azzy was doing. She got on her knees, and when she noticed I was trying to watch her a hand gently guided me to look forward again. Then there was a little tug on the leash and I was forced to lean back as far as I could. Almost immediately afterwards, I felt both of Asrielle’s hands end up on my chest. She didn’t even bother trying to get my shirt off or at least reach under it or something. Just went straight for the goods. I never understood what was supposed to be so special about them – hers looked and felt nice but they didn’t really do anything for me – but Azzy sure seemed to be having fun and it’s not like I could pretend what she was doing didn’t feel good. “You like that?” She’d heard my little moan and laughed a bit while she continued her work through my shirt. We both seemed to be glad that I hadn’t worn anything underneath, since having only the one thin layer of cloth to work through meant she could do a lot more to me. “Can’t let you enjoy it too much, though. Not yet.” As soon as she said that, her hands stopped moving, but she left them cupping my breasts for a little while. I whined and squirmed as much as I could to try to get her to continue. Instead, she brought a hand up to my neck and pulled lightly on my collar to get me to stop moving. I gave an annoyed huff when I settled down, and she pulled again. “Don’t you get greedy, girl.” I just nodded as an apology, then she leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. Her hands wandered down from where she was keeping them until they reached the bottom of my shirt. She lifted the shirt up out of the way just a little bit, enough for her to leave both hands on my tummy. “My Lady?” I looked up at her, since she was leaning right over me so she would be in a good position. With the excitement dying down, I was starting to feel the need to tinkle much more clearly now, and it was really getting bad. That water was working quickly, and her hands being where they were was bad news. Her hands started rubbing gently, moving in little circles. “Just checking on my pup,” she said. “Did I help take your mind off this? Has puppy forgotten how badly she wanted to go?” When I nodded and shifted around a little, she continued. “Well, it’s time to remember. I want you to describe how you’re feeling now, and then I think it might be time for another drink, okay?" “Okay.” I wiggled some and tried not to accidentally press myself into her hands in the process. “Um… Oh, geez, it’s… it’s bad. I need to actually try to hold it, and without being able to use my hands or legs… Uh, it’s not easy. It doesn’t hurt or anything but, like, it’s really uncomfortable. I might be able to still wait for a while but, I mean, my piddle wants out now.” Asrielle’s hands stopped for a moment and there was surprise clear in her voice, enough to make her break character. “That bad already? Dude, it’s been like ten minutes since I asked you last. Do you have a damn squirrel’s bladder or something? I mean, come on, man, I could do better than that when I was seventeen.” “Well I’m not used to this! I’ve only held it this long once before. I usually go potty long before it gets this bad, so I don’t have a lot of practice holding it!” Then I made the best pouty face I could without my arms available to be crossed over my chest for emphasis. “Besides, this is your kink, so I bet you’ve been doing it since you were a kid.” “Once before, you say?” I couldn’t quite see her face, but I could tell from the tone of her voice that she lit up hearing that, and ignored everything else I said afterwards. “I think it’s story time, don’t you? Your Lady is going to get you some more water, and then you can tell her all about that.” Thankfully, she removed her hands from my tummy and walked over to the other chair, taking a seat before picking up the jug and bowl she’d left there. I had to shut my eyes and grit my teeth while she filled the bowl again. That noise should have been coming from me, and if I had to look at it too it wouldn’t be long before it did. “That’s not really something I want to think about right now,” I said once she’d decided the bowl was full enough. “No? Fine, but at least drink some of this, alright?” “Well, I don’t really want to do that either, but…” “But?” “But I’m thirsty.” She chuckled and held the bowl up to my face again. “Hm?” She waited for me to nod before having me drink the same way as before, repeating the same cycle until the bowl was empty. “Haa…” I wiggled as much as I could, knowing I’d regret drinking more at this point. “Can I go now?” She raised an eyebrow at me. “Did you say something, pup?” I sighed. Forgot to get back in character. “May I go potty now, my Lady?” I didn’t stop moving – if anything I exaggerated the motions I was already making. “Hmm…” She put a hand on her chin. “Perhaps. If you tell me that story, I’ll consider untying you so you can go.” “Consider? You mean you might not do it? I really need to go though…” “What’s the matter? I thought you were a big girl. Big girls don’t have problems with being told they can’t go yet.” Azzy leaned forward and grabbed the leash again. “Yeah, but…” I tried to keep moving while I thought up something to say. Did I actually want to use the toilet right then? Sure, I needed to, and very badly at that, but was it what I wanted? Azzy would let me go if I told her to, so if I wanted to go, I could. And if I wanted to wait longer, she’d keep me tied up until one of us decided I’d had enough. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to stop just yet, but all the piddle trying to come out was messing with my head. “Uh…” I was rubbing up against the seat of my chair as well as I could manage. Felt like it was right about to come out. “But…” I tensed up to try to keep everything in, but I felt a splash of warmth in my panties anyways. More was going to come very soon. “But puppy has to go pee-pee,” I finally whined. “I can see that. Didn’t I tell you not to leak even one drop?” She gave the leash a little pull. “I’ll be nice and excuse that one, but you’re going to be in serious trouble if it happens again, girl, you understand?” “W-what kind of trouble?” It felt like it was already going to happen again. “You’ll find out if you can’t be good and follow simple instructions.” She looked me right in the eye and spoke with a much more serious tone. “Do you understand that?” There was that worry on her face again, like she thought she was starting to go too far. “Y-yeah, I understand, my Lady, but…” I groaned and just barely stopped myself from leaking again. “But I don’t know how long I can wait if you don’t let me go!” “You can wait until I tell you it’s potty time. And right now, it’s story time. And you’ve got a wonderful story to tell me, don’t you?” I got the feeling that this was the last choice she’d invite me to make. She wanted to know one last thing from me before it was too late: could she make me have an accident? If I told her the story, she’d let me go before that happened. If I didn’t, I’d be tied up until my chair became a toilet. Or I could just back out entirely. “Will you let me go potty afterwards?” “Afraid that you’ll disobey your Lady and make a puddle if I don’t?” “Yes! Please, I feel like I’m going to burst.” “Oh, fine, you can go after you tell me your story. But I have to come with you to make sure you don’t do anything you’re not allowed to.” I bounced a little in my seat, both to maybe help hold on a little longer and also because I was just happy she said yes. “Thank you, my Lady!” Then I took a deep breath and made sure everything was locked down as tight as possible. “Okay, uh…” I hoped my wiggling would be enough to let me wait until I was done with the story. “Well, this was… like two years ago, I’d just got my job at the temple. And now that I was an adult and… ugh… and a proper apprentice for Mystic Adrian, um… I, you know, I wanted to prove I could do… proper adult things. So, uh, once I… finished the basic training, I just wanted to be the best apprentice I could. You know, like, always ready to help with things and… aahn… And, well, you know.” It was hard to focus on putting a story together and not flooding my panties. I was surprised I hadn’t leaked again. “So, anyways, this one day… Like, I get up and go potty and get dressed like normal, and I go to work, and… and it’s nothing really special, right? But Adrian needed some help with potions…” Asrielle giggled. “I see where this is going.” “Oh my gosh, don’t interrupt, I need to pay attention so I don’t tinkle.” “Sorry.” Another breath and a quick intense wiggle. “Okay, so, potions, right? I was helping him make potions, and sorting out ingredients and all… Um, and you know how we always make those big… I dunno, big tubs instead of just a couple bottles at a time… Err… So, with all the, like, alchemy stuff going on, it gets… Really hot. But we also had a lot of water, so… Uh, I normally get to take a few breaks before lunchtime, but, like… I had to stay and help out, right, and… The water and all the… dripping from the brewing stuff… I kinda had to go an hour into the shift, but it wasn’t bad and I had to stay anyways… Ugh, remembering this just makes me want to go even worse… Uh, but, um, an hour later, I was starting to need the potty pretty bad. But I wasn’t supposed to leave until lunch, and… like, that was still a couple of hours. I was sure I could… uh, I could wait, but… I knew it’d be tough. I was, like, fidgeting and potty dancing whenever Adrian wasn’t looking.” “Why didn’t you just tell him you had to go?” “Stop interrupting! And I dunno, I… I think he would have… would have let me go if he saw I needed it bad but… I didn’t want him to think I was, like, some kid who can’t even wait until noon. Or maybe I just didn’t want to, uh, think about myself that way. I was… I was an adult. Adults can hold it for a few hours. But, uh… I was really starting to feel like a kid like an hour away from lunch. I’d… grab myself whenever I wasn’t being watched and, like… you know, knot up my legs and everything… I didn’t think I’d make it, but I didn’t really want to admit that either… Uh, somehow I held it in for… a little while longer but then… then I… Uh… A-ah!? N-no… Nnnngh…” I shut my eyes tight and fought for control as I felt myself leak, getting a tentative hold back after a second-long stream of piddle came out and made a little puddle under my butt. “My, that was quite the leak. Better wrap up the story quick before that happens again, dear.” “R-right… So, uh... Uh… I leaked and, like… Actually it was… pretty much just like what happened just now… Um, anyways, uh, I panicked and, like… grabbed the first big bottle I saw and ran off to hide behind some barrels… Uh, I kept myself mostly dry but, like, I can’t aim when I’m freaking out like that so, uh… Okay, I’m seriously about to have an accident here, you heard the story, let me go.” Asrielle nodded and got up, first heading behind me to free my hands. “Can’t aim?” “Y-yeah, a little got in the bottle but… most of it didn’t… I tipped over a barrel to pretend it spilled… Oh gosh, hurry up, I can’t hold it.” Both hands flew between my legs as soon as they were free, and Azzy came around to undo my legs next. “I’m going as fast as I can, babe. You’ll be free soon, you can make it.” “Ohhh…” I felt a little blast of warmth against my hands. I was running out of time. “Just two more,” Azzy said once my legs were free to the point where I could bring my thighs together again. “Don’t you worry about anything. You’ll be fine.” “I’m gonna pee…” I pressed up against myself as much as I could with my fingers and just looked down at my legs. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. “You’re all untied, babe. You can stand up.” I nodded and forced one hand out from between my legs, which Azzy grabbed and pulled on to help me stand. I stumbled immediately, but Asrielle seemed prepared for that and caught me before I could fall. “Azzy…” Tears filled my eyes as I mumbled at her. “It’s too late…” “No, it’s not. You’re so close. Just hold on one more minute and you’ll be in the bathroom.” I felt her pull me in that direction, and I awkwardly walked with her. I kept tripping over my own feet which were still trying to wake up, leaking a little more each time. “Almost there, darling.” I wanted to believe her. Just a few more steps… A few more steps and… And then it was over. I slid out of her grip and to my knees as I lost control, a steady and unstoppable stream filling my panties then spilling out onto the floor. I started crying, and felt Asrielle’s arms wrapped around me while I had my accident. I was just barely aware of the little pattering sound coming from underneath me, and the feeling of wetness on both sides of my legs. Apparently, I had fallen into a position where I was sitting with them folded under me, so most of my pee ended up running through what little I was wearing, making it feel like it was sticking to me, onto my legs and feet and only then rolling off down to the wood below. The sensation of warm water trickling down even a little bit of my skin was weird and uncomfortable, and it was even more uncomfortable to consider that it was piddle, not water. “Shh… It’s okay.” Asrielle’s voice was just a whisper. I just kept peeing and crying for a while, wanting it to be over and hoping that any moment now I’d wake up in Azzy’s arms and tell her about the bad dream I’d had. But that was never going to happen, was it? After all, if this were a dream, I wouldn’t smell like a toilet. Even when I finally ran empty, I still wasn’t done getting things wet. I kept crying for who-knows-how-long while Asrielle held onto me and said things she thought would make me feel better. When that finally stopped too, I was left sniffling and opened my eyes to see that we were just outside arm’s reach of the bathroom door. That just made me whine and bury my head in Azzy’s shoulder. Her bare shoulder. She’d taken off her jacket, no doubt to keep it from getting wet while she sat in my puddle. “You did well,” she said, running her fingers through my hair. “You did very well, even if you didn’t make it.” I brought my head up to look at her and say, “But I ruined your favorite outfit.” She just smiled. “It’s nothing a little wash can’t fix.” “And I got your floor and your chair wet.” “I can clean them.” I stared at her for a second and sniffled, still trying to justify my crying. “I had an accident.” “You did.” “You told me not to.” “I did.” I sniffled again. “Are-aren’t you mad?” “No, of course not, baby.” She held me closer and tighter. “It was just a game. No different than any of our other games. I never actually got mad at you about any of those, did I?” I just shook my head. “Then why would I be mad now?” I shrugged. “B-because I’m too old to wet myself?” I almost wanted her to hate me for what I’d just done. Deep down I knew there was no reason to feel bad about it, but I was crying anyways, and I wouldn’t have much of a reason to do that if she wasn’t angry. “No such thing, dear. It happens to everyone. I’m not going to stop loving you because you peed on my floor. And, I mean, I don’t really want to bring it up when you’re clearly upset, but… if anything, it’d just make me love you more.” “So, what, am I going to have to… have to do this for you now?” “Only if you want to. I can’t enjoy it if you’re not having fun. That’s why I’m sitting here in your puddle to help you feel better.” I nodded. “I guess it was kinda fun…” “Good. That’s good, sweetie. Your happiness always comes first. Always.” “I know…” “Then tell me, dear, is there anything I can do for you now?” I shrugged. “I just want to take a bath and go to bed.” “Good. You’ll feel much better once you’re clean and rested. I’ll take care of your clothes in the meantime. Unless you wanted me to come with you…?” “Not in the mood anymore.” “That’s fine.” She paused for a second to think. “Ooh, how about I get you some chocolate? You can drink it while you’re in the bath.” “Yes, please.” “Great. I’m going to get up now. You get undressed and I’ll take care of everything for you.” She let go of me and stood up. I heard the sound of her feet splashing around in my puddle while she oriented herself. “Oh, Azzy?” I looked up at her right as she started to walk away, causing her to turn around again and hum at me with a smile on her face. “Um, if you want to do this again, I’m fine with it. But nothing spontaneous. No surprises.” She nodded. “Of course, dear. I’ll come up with some ideas and we’ll go from there, okay?” “Yeah.” I watched as she skipped away to draw up a bath and, more importantly, fetch a nice hot cup of chocolate. I had to admit I was actually pleasantly surprised by the whole ordeal. I thought it would have been a lot worse, but if all I had to do was wait around for a while and then pee – which I’m sure would have felt really good if I weren’t preoccupied with being upset about wetting myself – and I could get treats out of it… Perhaps I could be persuaded to play along. “Hey, Ellie, you awake?” “Huh? Yeah. Just… got a little lost in thought, is all.” Asrielle giggled. “What, remembering our first pee game, hm? That would explain why you’ve been touching yourself this whole time.” There’s no way I didn’t go completely red. “I didn’t-” “Ah, no, don’t you dare try to apologize for that.” She gave me a quick kiss and spoke again. “I love it knowing you’re getting off thinking about our games. I’m just a little insulted that I’m right here and you didn’t even bother asking for another round.” She didn’t sound very offended. “Well, do you want to go again?” “Of course I do. But should I? I don’t know. Wouldn’t want to reward naughty behavior like that…” “What if we go again now and you punish me later by taking away my potty privileges for a whole day?” “Ooh, now you’re speaking my language. Alright, it’s a deal, but you’ve gotta tell me one thing first,” she said, pulling back the sheets and sliding to sit on the edge of the bed near my legs. “What’s that?” “What in the world happened to the innocent little priestess I fell in love with?” “You corrupted her.”
  13. “Dancing through savannah grass, on light feet we glide… Hey, hey, Baandari boy, tap your heels in stride… Hey, hey, Baandari girl, swing your tail beside…” The cold, early-morning air was filled with the sound of singing, not quite in tune or time, coming from a little black Khajiit whose tail swung around contentedly while she wiped down tables in advance of the regulars appearing for breakfast. She tried to be quiet, as the sun had barely risen yet, but being alone meant she didn’t have quite as much control over her voice as she thought. “Val vijah va rhook, Baandari… Carrying our world in packs… Val vij- Ah?” She looked up in surprise as a large man cleared his throat, standing at the opposite end of the table she was working on. “So you sing, do you? That’s a new one.” The Dragonborn spun the nearest chair around and sat on it, leaning forward onto its back. “What’s got you all happy all of a sudden?” Azhani shrugged. “Well, being bedridden for four days because my body wants me dead for… well, you know why. Anyways, gave me time to think. And, you know, I realized,” she said, moving on to a nearby table. The Dragonborn just turned his head to look at her. “My life now is the best it’s ever been. I have a home, and money that I earned, and my own things, and good people, and I can do what I want. Only way it could be better is if I had family, but, eh…” She shook her head. “But nothing’s ever perfect, right?” Azhani forced a bit of a smile and focused on her work. Then there was silence for a time, broken eventually by the Dragonborn, who had a hand on the back of his head. “Well, uh… I’m not gonna go there if you don’t want me to, but… Eh, you know, there’s always someone here if you… y’know, if you need it. And, man, I really hope I didn’t kill your good mood or anything. Eheh.” Azhani glanced over at him for a moment but just kept working. “No, no, it’s fine. Really. Just…” She sighed. “You know, I haven’t seen my sister in ten years. I don’t know where she is, if she’s even alive. I love her and I miss her but… I have had a lot of time to accept that I probably won’t see her again. I think about her a lot and it would be great if she were here, but I know she is not and I just hope that wherever she is, she is where she wants to be.” She looked over at Bjorn again, and saw him looking back with a raised eyebrow. “Oh, don’t look at me like that! Really, I am fine. My sister and I have different lives now. That’s how it is. Nothing can change that. And you know, I don’t think I would want to change it anyway. I really do mean it when I say my life has never been better. It can always be better, yes, but it is best, I think, to appreciate what I have now.” Bjorn nodded. “Y’know, I’m actually kinda impressed. Takes some people fifty years to figure that out. But, really, it’s good that things seem to be working out for you.” He stood up long enough to spin the chair around and sit down properly, leaning forward with an elbow on the table and his head in his hand. “On that note, that song you were singing… what’s that about, then? Something about the Baandari?” “Mhrr?” Azhani turned her head and made a trilled, inquisitive sound. Then her ears perked up and her eyes lit up suddenly. “Oh! Right, that. Yes, it’s an old traditional song, for festivals and things like that. And, yes, it’s about the Baandari. I think it might even come from them, but I don’t know for sure. It’s been around more than a thousand years, so…” “Lucky you with your ancient cultural heritage. The oldest songs people still sing back home are about the Hero of Kvatch. Granted, he’s kind of a big deal in Bruma, considering he single-handedly saved the city and all, but, still, that’s only two hundred years old.” The Dragonborn leaned back and folded his arms. “And don’t expect me to give you any examples. I can’t sing worth shit.” “Yes, you know, it’s strange but I can’t seem to picture a dragon singing. Wonder why that could be, hm?” “It’s a fuckin’ mystery.” Bjorn glanced past Azhani, looking down the hall out a window. “But, y’know what, I’m gonna go wake up Lydia and get started on breakfast. That sound good?” He looked over at Azhani, who was simply nodding fervently with wide eyes. “Alright then.” Only a few minutes later, Lydia was sat watching Azhani tear into raw meat across the table, and the Dragonborn was in the kitchen cooking some up properly for himself and his wife. Somewhere along the way a pot of tea had been put on as well, and Azhani had taken it all for herself to fight off the lingering effects of her present situation. “So,” Lydia started, clearly unsure of how to start a conversation with a human-sized carnivorous feline in the middle of meal. “Seems like you’re… doing better.” The little Khajiit just made a vaguely affirmative noise through a mouthful of meat, only responding properly when she’d swallowed and taken a swig of tea. “Like I told you,” she said. “No more pain, but it’s not completely over yet. It is easier to deal with now, though. All I have to do now is keep my legs closed, which is… well, not exactly what I would call a challenge.” Her tail twitched playfully while she had some more tea and picked her food back up. Lydia, meanwhile, just raised an eyebrow. “You make it sound like it’s real easy to just… ignore your body trying to force you to do something.” Azhani shrugged and refrained from taking another bite. “Well, just… doing it, would be the easy way out, I suppose. That’s how I managed it when I was younger. But I have found ways to deal with it, and it is not easy and not fun at all but it’s a better life than being a whore.” Then she moved to continue eating, but pulled back at the last minute. “Though, I suppose I made some good money… They pay a lot for that in the Imperial City, you know. Made more than I do here, that’s for sure…” "You sound like you’re quite proud of that.” “Eh, were you… expecting me to be ashamed?” Azhani spoke slowly. “Am I supposed to regret what I did? Sorry, but I am not, and I do not. I did what I had to do. Sure, some things I am not… particularly proud of, but at least I am alive because of it.” She took a quick bite and spoke again. “That is more than can be said of some people who have met you, yes?” Lydia nodded and looked away. “That… that’s fair. Didn’t mean to… come off as condescending, or anything, but-“ “Don’t lie to me,” Azhani interrupted. “You meant it. You probably even meant to say something much worse. But you know what, I don’t care. Think what you want about who I used to be. What I used to do. After so many years, I can finally say that is not me anymore. Criticize my old life all you like! I didn’t like it either, but you know what? It was the only life I could have, so don’t act like I’m meant to feel bad about it, or that I’m any less than you now because of it.” “Gods, since when have you been a fucking Greybeard, huh?” This time the voice belonged to the Dragonborn, who dropped a plate of cooked meat and toast on the table before taking a seat next to Lydia. “Seriously, you’ve been talking like a sage all fucking morning. Never thought you had that sort of wisdom in you.” “Heh. I told you, I had a lot of time to think about things.” After another sip of tea and a refill of her cup, Azhani continued. “And, anyways, it’s not wrong, yes? Get tossed into the world like I did, you have to learn quick how things really work. Learn to work with what you have and deal with problems.” She shrugged. “But, uh, now I would like to change the subject please, before I remember things I have been trying to forget.” Bjorn gave her a concerned look but didn’t press the issue, instead speaking quickly. “Right, right, of course. Well, then, how about you finish off that song, hm?” Azhani put down the piece of meat she’d just picked up, and looked off to the side. “Eh…” Were she not covered in fur, her face would surely be red. “Well, I would, probably, but, ehm… It’s more something that just happens, you know? I couldn’t do it now that you’re here and I’m thinking about it." “What a shame,” the Dragonborn said. “Work on that voice of yours and you could get a decent job as a bard someday.” Then he stood up and started towards the bar, Azhani waving her teapot at him and getting a nod in response. He set the kettle to boil and spoke across the room while he waited. “Y’know there’s a bards’ college up in Solitude. Couldn’t hurt to check it out, if you ever end up there.” “I-I don’t know, maybe, b-but, like I said-“ Azhani started to speak but was cut off by the door opening, everyone turning to look. Two Argonians entered, visibly weary from some sort of long journey. One of them had a wrapped package in her hand. She looked around for a bit before taking a seat at the bar and dropping the package on the counter. “Gods, I missed this dump,” Keerava said. “And, hey, we met some kid at the gate who said he brought this for you. Don’t know what it is, but it’s wrapped up tight.” She wiggled around a bit while Talen walked over to Azhani and Lydia to grab a piece of toast. “Aha, perfect,” the Dragonborn said, taking the package and sliding it under the counter. “I’ll get to it later. For now though, how was that trip of yours?” “Eh, the trip itself was nothing special, but once we got where we were going, mmm…” Keerava had put on a little grin, watching Bjorn as he went back into the kitchen. “I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say Talen knows his way around a rope and leave it at that.” She sighed and leaned into the counter, her butt wiggling a bit to accommodate the new position. “Fuck, though, it’s a long trip. It was worth it, but I am just so tired right now. I think the only reason I’m even awake at all is because I have to piss.” The Dragonborn looked over at her with a raised eyebrow, walked over to grab a small cup from under the counter, then walked back to fill it with the tea that had just finished. “Well, in that case,” he said, “This should help, right?” Keerava sat back up to laugh as the cup ended up on the bar in front of her. “Oh, definitely,” she said, grabbing the cup and plotting how to approach it while it was still so hot. In the meantime, she spun around and watched Bjorn bring the rest of the tea to everyone else. “Anyways, I see you haven’t burned down my business while I was away.” “As tempting as it was, yes, I kept it just how you left it.” “Pfft, so you’re telling me the place is still shit.” Keerava took a swig of tea and leaned back against the counter. “Don’t know what I expected. Is it any better around here without the war on, at least?” Bjorn shrugged, now seated next to Lydia. “Didn’t seem much different. Still… functional, I suppose, but nothing much beyond the regulars.” “And by functional,” Talen added, “You mean we just barely broke even, right? It’s a magical week when we can actually turn a profit.” “The real magic, beeko,” Keerava said, “is making more than a septim in profit.” She laid a hand on her abdomen and took another sip of tea. “Ah, but that’s just how it always is, isn’t it? I’ll have plenty of time to bitch about it later. For now, let’s hear about what went on here while we were gone.” “Well, unless you want to hear some special stories, you really didn’t miss much. You know how it goes around here.” The Dragonborn took a bite of meat and spoke around it. “Jus’ normal bus’ness.” Lydia grabbed the meat from him and shot him a playful but dirty look. “Yeah, all normal. He spent almost all our money on some fancy black armor – as one does, of course – gave a kid a lot of gold to go fetch some dwarven butter knife – as one does – and, uh, oh yeah, we got married. Remember that? You know, not a big deal or anything, but now I’m stuck with your Cyrodiilic ass until I die.” “Bold of you to assume you’d need to wait that long,” Bjorn said with a silly grin. “Just until Alduin eats me. So, you know, just give it a month or so and you’ll be on your own again, sweets.” “Assuming I even allow him to do that, of course. I may be stuck with you but that just means you’re stuck with me, too, and I’d never let you get away that easily.” Keerava smiled as she downed the rest of her tea, which any normal person would have taken twice as long to finish. “So you two got together, did you? Good for you. That just leaves Azhani all on her own then, doesn’t it?” Azhani perked up at the mention of her name and quickly looked around at everyone, obviously not expecting to be involved in a conversation. “Eheh, yeah,” she muttered, “Ah, well, that’s life, yes? I’m sure I could find someone if I tried, but for now I am fine as I am.” “Of course you could,” Bjorn added with a light chuckle. “Lots of people out there who would be more than happy to get a bit o-“ “Oh, no, no, stop! Stop right there! I know where you’re going with this!” Azhani suddenly stood up and pointed at him while her tail jerked around behind her. “You think you’re clever making that joke, do you?” She leaned forward with her hands planted on the table. “You think you’re the first one to come up with that? A thousand times I have had to listen to men who think they’re being smart make jokes about pussy. Yeah I get it, I am a woman and I look like a cat. But just because I get it doesn’t make it funny.” Then she sat back down and sighed. “Ahh, but you know what is funny? The only people who think that joke is clever are Imperials. You, Dragonborn, oh Bright Moons, you are not a Nord. Yes, you might think you are, you even look like one. But truth is, «my friend», you are an Imperial. There is no denying that.” With that, Azhani took a sip of tea and started purring, leaving her tail to sway contentedly. Bjorn threw his hands up in response. “Well,” he said, “Shit, that’s some impressive fervor, whiskers. You’re always so quiet.” “Don’t call me that. But, eh, yeah, I just… really hate that joke, you know?” Azhani leaned back as far as her chair would allow. “And, I mean, I can enjoy some crude humor from time to time, but at least be creative about it, yeah?” “Fair enough.” Keerava let out a little snort of laughter, her hands now resting innocently on her thighs. “Well, good to see everyone’s getting along.” Her hands moved to the counter, and she pushed herself up to her feet, taking a moment to get herself standing upright. “Anyways, I just got back from a very long trip, so if you don’t mind watching the place for a bit longer, I’m going to go lie down for a few hours. You’re coming too, Talen, before you fall asleep trying to make soup or something.” “Yeah, no problem,” the Dragonborn said. “I just have to check in with the armorer first, but I’ll keep things running.” “Thanks. I’m really gonna have to… figure out some way to repay you for all this…” Keerava woke up – fully clothed, as she hadn’t expected to actually get any sleep – perhaps an hour or two past noon, groaning as sunlight filled the room and she rubbed at her eyes. She didn’t feel much better, but at least her exhaustion was a less-immediate issue now. She rolled out of bed and stretched, giving off a quiet moan as a comfortably heavy weight in her abdomen become apparent. She looked down and lifted her shirt to get a proper look at the cause of the sensation, admiring the view of her scaled belly pressing against the waistband of her pants. The Argonian tried to recall the last time she’d relieved herself – must have been the previous night, about twelve hours ago, when she and Talen had settled in to get some rest before the last and longest leg of their journey back to Riften. She remembered it as a very pleasant experience, slipping a hand into her pants as she forced herself to remember when her bladder had been emptied before then. It had been in the morning, definitely, but it couldn’t have been that same morning, for she had been genuinely concerned that she might not be dry when they stopped to make camp – which she of course hadn’t been, and while that had been due to her full bladder, it would have been a lie to say it was solely because that organ’s contents leaking out. “Mmmn…” In any case, she knew from years of experience that she couldn’t have been that worried about wetting herself if she’d only been waiting from morning to night – so before last night, she must have been waiting a full day and a half to release her waters. Keerava knew that to be her limit, barring extraordinary circumstances, which certainly explained why she could remember being proud of the torrent she’d unleashed and worried she’d unleash it onto herself. She could have picked a better place to do it, but it was still impressive – they’d rented the cheapest horses they could find, and last night Keerava remembered dismounting, undressing, and squatting right next to the horse she’d been riding. Even at the time she was somewhat disappointed she couldn’t wait even a few seconds to get somewhere else, but faced with the orgasmic sensation of relief and now remembering that same feeling, she could only be impressed with her accomplishment. Of course, not all of her was impressed with that memory – her bladder was desperate to replicate the events of the previous night, and with the feeling of relief fresh in Keerava’s mind again it very angrily reminded her of its existence. The hand in her pants pressed hard against herself while her thighs came together and her knees bent slightly, but a moment later she straightened up and pulled her hand out again like nothing had happened. She used her bedsheets to wipe her hand clean, and noticed just then that the bed was empty. Normally, that wouldn’t be unusual, but Talen-jei had come with her, and now he was gone. He must have woken up earlier and gone downstairs already. So Keerava stretched again, made sure her clothes were in order, and without a second thought left to join her new mate. Her bladder pleaded with her to relieve herself while she had the chance, but she didn’t listen, and it stopped protesting when it became clear she wouldn’t be giving it what it wanted. Not for a very long time yet. Instead, she got downstairs and headed over to take her usual position at the bar, looking around to see what was going on. Azhani was off in some far corner waiting on a table, and the handful of regulars – plus Lydia – were at the bar which was currently being worked by the Dragonborn. Talen was in the kitchen behind him, and glanced over at Keerava only momentarily as she walked over. Bjorn paid her more attention, looking her over and letting his trained gaze linger on her small bulge. “So,” he said, forcing himself to look her in the eye, “You taking over here?” “Yes I am.” Keerava bent down to get an apron from under the counter, pressing her legs together slightly as she did but bringing them apart again when she stood up straight. ”Great. It’s about time I got some lunch anyways.” Bjorn gave his typical two-fingered salute and started to walk off, adding a quiet “Good luck” as he passed by Keerava on his way to a table. Keerava noticed Lydia jumped a bit in her seat as the Dragonborn passed her, spinning around and grabbing his arm with a furious look on her face. He looked down at her with a half-smile. “Surprised?” Lydia sighed and released her vice grip on Bjorn’s arm, instead bringing that hand up to her face. “You’re really lucky I don’t have a knife on hand right now, you know that? A lady gets her ass grabbed without warning in a town like this… Doesn’t normally end well.” “With you, I’ll take that chance.” He reached out towards her, but Lydia blocked his arm with her own. “Save it for tonight,” she said, turning back to her drink. “If you say so.” Bjorn then walked off to a table in the dining room and sat down, waiting for Azhani to come to him. Keerava watched him at the edge of her view, topping off Lydia’s drink. “You two seem to have hit it off pretty quickly,” she said. “Didn’t really seem like you had anything going on between you before now.” Lydia shrugged and drank deep before responding. “Eh, well, he seems to have been fairly attached to me since we met. I didn’t think much of him at first, to tell you the truth.” She drank again before continuing. “It was pretty much just a business relationship, since I was just… assigned to him by Jarl Balgruuf, but, you know, we ended up going everywhere together.” Another sip. “I suppose I warmed up to him – I must have, considering it got to a point where I’d willingly go along with his, eh, games – but being his servant kinda complicated things. You’re right, we were never very close before we got married, but I suppose I must have felt something for him since I kept doing a whole bunch of shit that wasn’t in my job description.” She took another drink. “Heh, I mean, I agreed to marry him. I didn’t have to do that. And now that we’re married, might as well make the most of it, right?” “That’s one way to look at it, I suppose. And just, don’t take any of this the wrong way or anything, it’s nice that you two are happy together, but… It’s not quite what I was expecting.” Lydia stared across the bar with a puzzled look on her face. “What were you expecting?” “Honestly?” Keerava leaned in and spoke quietly. “He seemed quite interested in Azhani. I thought he’d end up fucking her.” Lydia laughed as Keerava pulled away. “Oh, no, he’s – well, according to him anyways – he’s only interested in her because of the situations she keeps getting into. Otherwise, too much fur and too many tits, he says.” “Too many…? What does that mean? She’s just barely got the two. I mean, these don’t even do anything and they’re bigger than hers.” “Eh, I think he was just trying to make a cat joke. You know how they’ve got teats going all the way down? He probably just assumed she’d work the same way.” She took another sip. “That, or he’s seen her with her shirt off, but all that fur would cover them up anyways, so… Probably just a guess.” Keerava looked back towards Talen, then back to Lydia, absentmindedly doling out refills and taking money while she talked. “You know, if you hadn’t mentioned it, I wouldn’t have cared about it, but now I’m wondering if he was right.” “Why not just ask her, then?” As if on cue, the little Khajiit walked into the kitchen to relay the Dragonborn’s order directly to Talen. Keerava glanced back and noticed that she was standing with her legs pressed together, her weight awkwardly shifting from one foot to the other. “Eh, it’s not that big of a deal.” She watched as Azhani came out from behind the counter and glanced into the dining room, ensuring nothing else needed to be done, before disappearing from view up the stairs. Keerava could feel her bladder protest, knowing that she remained behind the bar pouring drinks while Azhani had gone to do what Keerava refused to. “You alright?” “Hm?” Keerava noticed Lydia was looking at her with a hint of concern in her eyes. “Oh, yeah, just fine. Zoned out for a bit there, I guess.” It was the truth, mostly. Of course she wouldn’t mention why she’d been lost in her mind, but she could at least admit that she was. “Sure, okay.” Lydia didn’t sound convinced at all, but gave her mug a little shake anyways. “How about you top me off, then?” She reached into one of her pockets and tossed a coin onto the counter. Keerava nodded and pulled a bottle from under the counter, ripping its cork out with her teeth while she took Lydia’s mug in her other hand and slowly refilled it, savoring every torturous second of liquid pouring from the bottle. Eventually, the cup ended up back in Lydia’s hands and, after quickly checking on everyone else at the bar, Keerava turned around and headed into the kitchen, returning to the counter with a piece of fish in her mouth and more in hand. She took a seat and said very little, focusing instead on her lunch and refilling drinks. Whenever anyone did talk to her and expect a response, she kept it to a single line or two. Not because she needed to focus, of course – because she wanted to. Obviously, whatever she wanted was always more important than such silly things as basic biological needs, especially since in her experience it’d be a few hours before anything became a real need. Oh, sure, her bladder was full – deliciously so – but since when did that count as a need? So she sat quietly, wiggling around a little bit but otherwise acting as if nothing were any different than normal. Probably because this was normal. Keerava had such a long history of doing this sort of thing that by now her regulars paid her no attention – they knew she hardly ever moved from behind the counter, and therefore hardly ever had any time to herself. They knew what to expect from her, and none of them cared. No, they just let her shuffle around while they talked to each other and only paid her any mind when they needed more drinks. And she didn’t pay much attention to them, either, for now that Azhani had returned to her line of sight – visibly relieved, of course – her attention was on the Khajiit. A very busy little lady, that one was, especially considering the fact that the place was just about always mostly empty, and she’d often stop at the bar for a quick drink. The next time Azhani came near, this time headed to the kitchen instead of the bar, Keerava stopped her on her way out. “Hey, come here a minute,” she said, prompting the Khajiit to set down the tray she’d picked up and walk up to her employer looking a little nervous. “Y-yes? Did… did I do something wrong?" Keerava chuckled in response. “No, no, you’re doing great. I was just thinking, though, you could do with some more time downstairs. I’ll have to bring you down there again soon.” “Ehrr… okay, I guess.” Azhani scratched her head. “I-if you say so. Just… I don’t know, let me know whenever you want, yes?” “Of course. I’ll wake you up. Probably not tomorrow, but soon. Just so you can be ready for it. Now get back to work, hm?” Azhani nodded quickly, picked her tray back up, and hurried off. Keerava watched her leave, then turned her attention back to herself. Her own enjoyment had reminded her that Azhani wasn’t quite as trained as she was – she’d brought the Khajiit down for a training session once but the little lady still seemed to have everything fairly in proportion with her small frame, including her bladder. Another round of intense training couldn’t hurt. And, if Keerava was being honest with herself, she’d not properly seen Azhani get herself into trouble for quite a while, so she was definitely looking forward to the chance to get a close-up show. For now, she was content to enjoy her own personal show. Her bladder, full as it was, bulged out slightly and was just getting to the point where pressing on it would yield fantastic sensations. Sensations Keerava couldn’t get watching other people, though knowing they’d be experiencing them was more than enough for her to sympathize and enjoy it anyways. But why settle for that when she could get the real thing? Keerava pressed her legs together as she pulled a few bottles from under the counter – it was time to refill some drinks, and more importantly she was feeling quite thirsty herself. All the better for her, really. One bottle was set aside, and the others ended up empty as their contents found their way into patrons’ mugs, then it was time for the fun to begin. That last bottle was bigger than the others by a significant margin, which also meant it cost more as well and was too expensive to waste. So it was that bottles like this would be saved for special occasions, and this occasion seemed special enough, so Keerava again ripped it open with her teeth, and spat the cork out to the ground. Then she drank up. The bottle was drained over the next three hours, first in large swigs then slowing down to occasional sips. If Argonians could get drunk on human liquor, Keerava could have used that as her excuse, but even she had to admit that as the bottle emptied, her bladder filled even more. By the time she’d finished her drink, she was struggling to sit still. And that was before enough time had passed for the alcohol’s effects on her bladder to fully kick in. The Dragonborn had moved back to the bar in that time, too, following Azhani while she carried a tray laden with his empty dishes. Now he was seated next to Lydia, neither of them buying anything, instead discussing their coming adventures. Normally she’d kick them out to make room for paying customers, but lunchtime was over by now so there weren’t really any paying customers to make room for. Well, that, and she knew Bjorn would be looking over at her every so often, enjoying the show she was putting on. Even Talen would look her way now and then, though she knew that was only because she’d started getting cheeky, leaning forward onto the bar with her pants pulled down just enough that she could lift her tail and flash him a nice view of the scales down there. Keerava had a plan for how this would end, and she needed Talen to be in the right mood for it. Hopefully he’d get the hint. Her bladder was definitely mad at her now, for refusing so many times to empty it when she had the chance. She was bouncing in her seat and her breathing was getting heavier, her legs pressed tight together while she waited for just the right moment to end her game. She could go on for quite some time yet, she knew, but given the events of the night before it was probably best to call it off earlier and rest instead of getting to her limit again. At the same time, though, Keerava wasn’t a fan of intentionally relieving herself before her bladder had a chance to get nice and hard – firm now, but still soft enough that it couldn’t be totally full yet – and certainly wasn’t terribly willing to sacrifice the pleasant heat down there that came from holding back so much urine either. The pressure was too good to give up. She was certain she could feel her bladder stretching out, its contents pressing down on the sealed exit, giving her the feeling that all that restrained liquid could break free at any moment while she wiggled around to keep that from happening. Of course, if she really wanted to stop that from happening, there was always more she could do to make sure she stayed locked up, and normally she would be doing those things by now, but it was nice to enjoy the sensations caused by the ever-present risk of leaking. One hand had found its way down to the bulge in Keerava’s abdomen, rubbing it lightly enough to enjoy the shape of it without pressing down, as tempting as that was. Her breath was deep and slow, everything well under control for now. Azhani walked past looking a little uncomfortable, and Keerava smiled at the sight, her breath accelerating a bit as she pressed on her bladder ever so slightly once Azhani was out of sight, gradually increasing the pressure for a minute. She only let up when it felt as though she was on the absolute edge of losing control, standing up and crossing her legs while she planted both hands on the bar. “Hey,” she said to the Dragonborn, “Do me a favor and take over, will you?” Bjorn put on a smile that said he knew far too much. “Heh, sure, no problem.” He walked casually around to take Keerava’s place, and she nodded and headed back into the kitchen. Talen gave her a curious look, which turned into surprise and then joy as she grabbed his arm and spoke quietly: “Bed. Now.” Then she dragged him off in the direction of the stairs, and he followed along without objection. The walk upstairs was pleasantly torturous, and Keerava’s breathing was becoming labored as she walked quickly towards the room they’d be using. She barged in and nearly threw Talen at the bed, stopping to collect herself for a moment. Keerava forced herself to relax, taking deep breaths and standing as normally as she could, until she decided she was calm enough to go ahead with her plan. She stripped down to her scales, some of which glistened with moisture that she was certain hadn’t come from her bladder. Her clothes were tossed haphazardly aside and soon enough she found herself looking at her mate, who was standing by the bed wearing just as much as she was now. He started to speak. “So, what exactly-“ But she cut him off, holding up one finger and walking quietly to the bed, sitting down on it facing towards him. Keerava got as close to the edge as she could, then leaned back and spread her legs, running a hand invitingly over her lower body. Talen didn’t need to be told twice – or once, even – and instantly got to his knees and buried his face between her legs, working his magic with his tongue. Slowly at first, almost just teasing, going exactly where he needed to be to get Keerava heated up and wanting more. She leaned back further and closed her eyes as he got more aggressive, her breathing turning into panting as the internal stimulation from her bladder’s fullness only got more pleasurable while Talen worked to stimulate her from the outside. It was nearly overwhelming. Nearly, but she was still in control, if only barely so. Both feelings only got more intense as time went on, and Keerava found herself letting out shaky moans as every second brought her closer to the edge. More than one edge, really. Talen didn’t seem to be letting up – not that she wanted him to anyways, but if he kept doing what he was doing, he’d surely end up with a face covered in Argonian piss. He seemed to know the risks, and didn’t seem to care. Neither of them did. Keerava was enjoying herself too much, and Talen enjoyed too much that he was part of that. She’d started grabbing at the sheets, holding as tightly as she could, all the while giving off long, quivering moans of pleasure and pain and pleasure from pain. Her bladder demanded release, and it wasn’t playing nice, but she still had her own priorities and was dead set on delaying its satisfaction until she could get her own. Her breathing got quicker, each breath now a short, high-pitched ecstatic cry that she hoped nobody else would be able to hear. She was sure she’d ripped a hole in her sheets just by grabbing at them as she was. Keerava felt muscles all over her body tense, and by now there was no doubt that one way or another, the end was inevitable. Her pleasure would overwhelm her and her bladder would burst, and that would be it. She bolted upright and moved herself away from Talen at the last second. As much as she wanted to, she couldn’t let it end like that. Some final sensible part of herself told her that, if nothing else, she really didn’t want to be left cleaning all that up later. “Move,” she said quickly, sliding off the bed and pushing Talen out of the way at the same time. She fell into a squatting position almost immediately, and heard the first few drops hit the floor as she reached under the bed, pulling out her oversized pot and sliding it under herself just in time to lose all control. Keerava felt herself melt as the pleasure overwhelmed her and her urine ran free into the metal container below. She didn’t know what was going on around her, or what exactly she was doing, but it didn’t matter. It felt too good for anything else to be important. Her senses came back to her slowly. First she felt herself trembling, then heard every moaned breath she took, then at last she could look down and see the torrent she was unleashing – however long it had been, it hadn’t let up one bit since she’d started. There was a reason this pot was bigger than all the others, and this was it. She reached out weakly to Talen, vaguely feeling her hand on his shoulder, and tried to say something, but the only sounds she could make were a garbled mess of moans and grunts, with possibly some incomprehensible Jel syllables thrown in for good measure. What was she even trying to say, anyways? Did it even matter? Talen seemed to get the point, whatever the point was, and he moved in close and wrapped himself around Keerava, keeping her vaguely upright while she continued relieving herself. It took some time for her stream to weaken even a bit – how much time, nobody knew, for nobody was keeping track – and at this point Keerava let out a deep sigh and pulled herself together again. Her breathing returned to normal, and the waterfall between her legs had become what a normal person would consider a heavy stream, dying down eventually to a trickle that Keerava cut off on her own – she knew that if she let it continue it’d take even longer for it to stop completely, and holding in the tiniest bit of leftover pee wouldn’t be the end of the world. She lifted an arm, indicating for Talen to help her stand, and she rose unsteadily to her feet. One foot casually slid the pot back under the bed then, still in his arms, Keerava looked Talen right in the eye and shoved him down onto the bed, climbing on top of him to return the favor.
  14. Sake

    The Bee and Barb

    Here we go, lads. The end is upon us! Keerava awoke, but refused to open her eyes. Her bed was too warm and soft for her to get up right now, so instead she snuggled in closer to Talen, pressing her back against his chest and weaving her tail around his legs. This was absolutely perfect. Everything she could ever want was right there in bed with her, so she could forget about everything else – her business, her debts, her dreams, her name, what year it was, what country she was in, everything. So Keerava gave a contented sigh and tried to let Talen’s warmth lull her back to sleep. Of course, that’s right about when she finally figured out why she was awake in the first place and noticed the midnight light of the moons filling the room. She groaned quietly as her mind woke up enough to work out that she couldn’t stay in bed for much longer. She had to pee, and it had to be soon. On any other night, she’d just force herself to go back to sleep, or get up and get down to the kitchen to start working. Not this time, though. This time, if she could relax enough to fall asleep, she’d also relax enough to wet herself – and in the absence of any clothes, the contents of her bladder would end up on her scales and sheets. And, sure, the sheets would need a good wash anyways after last night, but still. Those stains would be enough of a problem to deal with on their own, so Keerava really didn’t want to add any yellow ones to the mix. So, reluctantly, she moved to get out of bed, but much to her annoyance Talen simply pulled her in closer when she tried to get out from under his arm. She tried again, and again she was dragged back. Under better circumstances, Keerava might have found that cute, but right now it was just getting in her way. Keerava nudged Talen with her elbow and spoke softly to him. “Hey, let me up.” Despite the low volume, the urgency was clear in her voice. Unfortunately the response was just some incoherent mumbling while Talen’s hand moved south, guaranteeing that if Keerava tried to get up again Talen would press against the one part of her that really did not need pressing at the moment. She wiggled around a bit and started to make another attempt at escaping his grasp, but when he started pulling her back she resigned immediately to keep the pressure on her bladder from getting any worse. ‘Well, this is fucked,’ she thought, before following up verbally. “Talen, let go of me, I gotta pee.” She nudged him again but again nothing useful happened, and she was left wiggling while she tried to come up with a plan. First plan. Just lift his damn arm. With her left hand, Keerava grabbed Talen’s wrist and tried to pull the arm up, but even in his sleep Talen was determined to keep that limb where it was, and with the both of them lying on their sides Keerava couldn’t exactly use her other hand to help. “Ugh, come on,” she muttered. “I really need to get up now.” No response. Next plan, then. Turn around. It was a bit awkward to move with Talen’s arm pressing down on her, but she managed to wiggle herself into a position where they were now facing each other. Now what? Keerava did the first thing she could think of – with her right hand, which was now on top, she pressed against Talen’s chest and tried to push herself away. But again he simply pushed her back towards him, this time crushing Keerava’s bladder against his body. She felt but refused to think about the warm little droplets she could feel moistening the scales along her inner thighs. “Wake the fuck up before I piss on us,” she said as soon as she was sure she was in full control of herself. Her hand found its way to his shoulder, and gave him a light shake. When that only elicited a mumble, she shook harder, and this time got a groan out of him. “Hrhuuh? ‘sit moring?” Talen yawned and looked at Keerava with half-open eyes, the hand he had draped over her moving down to stroke her tail and perhaps even sneak a feel of what was under it. “No, it’s the middle of the night. I really have to take a leak and you weren’t letting me get up.” She didn’t wait for a response before pushing off against his chest again, this time getting far enough away to gracelessly roll out of bed and nearly crash onto the floor. She hastily dragged her oversized pot out from under the bed and got herself into a squatting position, absolutely ready to relieve herself. “Ah, fuck.” There was one problem, though. Talen sat up just enough to see the back of Keerava’s head. “Wha’sup?” ”Fucking…” Keerava had looked down just before she let herself loose, to make sure she was positioned properly, only to find that the pot was still full to the brim from her explosion just a few hours earlier. “Nobody emptied the damn thing. Fuck.” A few drops fell into the pot while Keerava reluctantly moved to an almost-standing position, sliding a hand between her legs and keeping her legs bent at the knees while she desperately tried to come up with an alternative solution. Talen watched quietly as she took a few steps forward, away from him. He truly didn’t care for her games, but he had to admit that the way she moved when she got like this, the way her hips swayed and her tail twitched and what her body did when she bounced, made her look incredibly beautiful, especially from behind. He was considering offering another round of fun, knowing how much she loved doing that with a full bladder and perhaps even a length of rope, but she turned around and spoke to him before he could make the suggestion. “Well what in Oblivion do I do now?” Keerava groaned and bent forwards, trying to keep her bladder, exhausted as it was from being pushed to its limit far too often recently, in check for long enough to find a solution. Her eyes were wide open and frantically searching the room for anything that might be commandeered to help her situation. “You could dump the thing out the window,” Talen said as he stared at his mate’s shifting, perfect legs. She responded with a groan. “Ugh, yeah, if I bend over to do that I’m fucking done.” The next sound out of her was something of a growl as she tensed up, crossed her legs, and gripped firmly between them with both hands. A second later she groaned again to cover up a short-lived splattering sound by her feet. “Gah, you may be onto something there though. As if I have time to come up with anything else...” Keerava glanced over at the window just barely out of reach to her right. Thankfully it had been left open all night, and for as shoddy as the inn’s construction was it seemed like the windowsill would be able to support a significant amount of weight if it needed to. She took a deep breath before hobbling over to the window, bringing one hand out from between her legs as she stumbled forwards and ended up leaning on the windowsill. She pushed herself off to stand up as straight as she could, carefully turning around and then using her free hand to grab the window behind her. One last firm squeeze of her crotch and that hand moved to do the same. She lifted her tail to get it out of the way, one foot went up to press against the wall, and she started to pull herself up. Her face was contorted, eyes closed and teeth showing, as a consequence of the strain of both dragging herself up a wall and trying to hold her urine, even as her stream started just as her feet left the ground. It built up to a proper torrent too quickly for Keerava to get in position, so it was already raining in the room well while she worked at getting herself onto the window. She sighed as she finally made it the rest of the way and dropped herself to sit on the windowsill, wiggling around a bit to get whatever she had left out the window instead of making a puddle below her. Her grip tightened but the rest of her body relaxed, her stream picking up intensity thanks to her no longer making any effort to stop it, and her tail dropping down so it could hang freely and get splashed from offshoots of the waterfall. Keerava started panting, her breath slowing as her stream did, until she was taking deep breaths with her mouth hanging open while the last of her bladder’s contents were expelled as little more than a mere trickle. When that stopped and was replaced with the occasional single drop, she opened her eyes and leaned back a little to look beneath her. In the moonlight she could make out a little shimmer outlining her puddle on the ground and perhaps a few streams where it fell into cracks in the street, but even from merely the second story of the building it was hard to see anything else. She knew she wouldn’t be able to assess any damage to her wall without falling out the window herself, so she hopped down into a similarly-sized puddle. “I don’t imagine you’re coming back to bed, then?” Talen spoke with a hint of humor in his voice. “Eh…” Keerava gave herself a quick visual inspection, though she already knew what had happened to her own body from the feel of wetness all over her lower half. Her tail was dripping and there were little trails of her waters running down her legs, especially on the back side where the moisture outlined where she’d sat in her own puddle. “Doesn’t look like it. Just get me a rag for my feet and something to soak up this with. I’m going to go see about taking a bath.” Hours later, well after sunrise, Keerava was perfectly clean and dry, wearing one of her usual simple dresses. She had her head resting on the bar with her arms serving as pillows while she tried to get a little more sleep while she had the chance. Talen was idling around in the kitchen behind her and across from her Azhani sat gnawing on a piece of raw bacon. Otherwise there was no indication of life anywhere in the building. Everything was quiet. Rather odd, considering the fact that the inn happened to be the current residence of a very large man known specifically for his ability to yell at things to make them go away. Somehow, he was nowhere to be seen. It had been decided when he failed to show up for his usual breakfast just after dawn that he must have left especially early on some important errands, so nobody paid his absence much mind. The much more real concern was the absence of people who weren’t him. Even if it was usually quiet, especially in the mornings, there was always someone there for a little breakfast so a little bit of coin could always be expected to come in before lunchtime, but not this time. So, despite wanting to get some more rest, Keerava was being especially attentive while her head was down. Any hint of that door opening most likely meant she’d be getting paid, and she had to stay awake for that. So she waited and listened. Eventually, she heard something that caught her attention, nearly jumping into an upright seated position at the muffled sound of jingling mail and heavy metal footsteps just outside. She watched the door, the optimistic look on her face being replaced by confusion and curiosity as two figures in menacing black armor entered. Sure, Keerava recognized their faces, but that armor… Her confused gaze ended up on a pouch that the Dragonborn dropped onto the bar without a word as soon as he was close enough. “What’s this supposed to be?” She picked up the pouch and gave it a gentle shake. It sounded like money, and a good deal of it. “It’s everything I owe you,” Bjorn said, his face and voice much more serious than usual. He had his right hand on the counter and his left loosely gripping the pommel of the sword on his belt. “And a little more, as thanks for everything over the past few months. I’m going to be heading off to Whiterun today. I’m going to go finish this. And I don’t know if I’ll be coming back, so I don’t want any loose ends like debts hanging around if I don’t.” “Oh, wow,” Keerava said with a bit of a gasp as she looked into the pouch. “That explains the armor, I suppose. What is that, ebony?” Not expecting an answer, she looked off to the side for a moment, right at Talen who had decided to come over and look over her shoulder at the money. When she looked back, she gave a little chuckle. “Shit, I never thought I’d have this much gold in my hand at once. This is… Talen, do you know what we could do with this? We can actually get out from under Black-briar’s boot here.” She couldn’t remember the last time she felt genuinely excited like this. And while the two Argonians talked with each other about all the great things they could do with the coin, Azhani looked over at the Dragonborn and gave his arm a little tug to get his attention. When he looked over at her, she said, “You said you’re going to Whiterun?” “Yeah, why? You don’t want to come along, do you?” “Ehh…” Azhani looked around for a moment, searching for nothing but her own thoughts. “Maybe? I, uh… Well, I’d like to at least head in that direction. Um, now that I actually have somewhere to live, I’ve been thinking, and there are some things I need that I can only get from the Baandari. The most reliable Baandari caravan I know of around here is the one that goes to Whiterun, so I just want to go catch up with them and come right back.” Then she shrugged. “I would just ask for you to buy what I need, but honestly I don’t trust you to be able to negotiate with them like I can. Or even understand exactly what I need.” Bjorn raised an eyebrow. “And what exactly do you need?” Azhani waved a hand almost dismissively. “Ah, nothing much. Mostly I’m concerned about sugar. It would be great if I could get a few other things from them too, but I can get those anywhere if I need to. Sugar, though, that I can’t trust if it doesn’t come from a Khajiit, and I don’t think you could recognize good sugar anyways.” “Meaning… moon sugar?” The hand Bjorn had on the counter went to his chin. “Well, yeah, what else would it mean?” Lydia suddenly interjected from just behind her husband. “Moon sugar? Really? You don’t seem like the type that would be into drugs.” “Okay, see, that’s why I don’t trust you guys to buy it for me.” Azhani gestured intensely with both hands in their direction. “To you it is a drug, yes, but to me… In my religion it is the most sacred thing in the world. I need it, and I need to make sure I’m getting the right sort of sugar, because for as long as I haven’t had a home I haven’t been able to properly observe holidays, and now that this is my home, I would like to get back to that.” She glanced off to the side for a moment. “And, yeah, it tastes really good but that’s beside the point. I cannot cook to save my life anyways so I’d just ruin it if I tried to use it in food. It’s purely religious.” “Sorry, what’s all this about moon sugar?” Keerava leaned in, finally able to pull herself away from the shiny things in the bag she’d been given. “We’re not talking skooma, are we? I can’t have you stinking up the place with that garbage. Not my business what you’re into, but, you know, not in here.” Azhani looked as if she had been personally insulted. “Skooma? No, never! That would be blasphemy!” She shook her head lightly. “No, just sugar. I might have to burn a little bit of it sometimes, maybe even smoke some, but that’s completely different from that mutilated horseshit those zombies in the sewers are on. That shit is like tar, but good sugar is… well, it’s sugar. It burns hot, there’s not a lot of smoke, and it makes the place smell sweet.” “Eh… Yeah, okay. I’m a bit too used to people around here being on the hardcore stuff, just kinda assumed that’s what we were talking about, sorry. Moon sugar, though, I wouldn’t get in trouble for letting you have that here, so it’s all good. Just keep it to your room for me.” “Oh, of course. Yeah, no problem. And, uh, you’re okay with me going off for a while, yes?” Keerava threw her hands up. “Pfft, yeah, you go do whatever you want. Talen and I can always handle things here on our own. We’ve been doing it for years before you got here, after all.” Azhani nodded and looked up at the Dragonborn again. “So, what do you say? You’d just have to get me there, or in the general direction of there, and I’ll find my own way back. Just figure, you know, why go separately when you’re already heading that way?” “Eh, why not,” came the response. “If you’re sure it’s a good idea, then I’ve got no objections.” “Yeahhh…” Azhani drew that word out as long as she could before needing to breathe again, then inhaled almost with a hiss. “Probably not the best idea to go to Whiterun, all things considered, but... I don’t really need to go into town unless the caravan’s not got there yet. And then I’d probably just lay low at an inn or something if I can find one that won’t kick me out for having a tail.” Then she shrugged and started picking at scraps of meat on the plate in front of her. “Uh-huh… I’m going to just assume that’s not a conversation I want to get myself wrapped up in, so… How about some breakfast, then? Don’t want to head out without something to eat, after all.” Bjorn took a seat and leaned onto the counter while Lydia sat down at his side. “And, uh, I’m gonna need that thing I left here.” Keerava nodded. “You got it.” She turned around and called for Talen to start cooking something, then turned back and reached under the counter to procure the wrapped-up package the Dragonborn was keeping there. “And there’s that, too.” “Excellent.” The Dragonborn first took off his gauntlets and set them onto the counter next to the package, did the same with the gloves beneath, and with his bare hands he started fiddling with the strings holding the package together as delicately as he could. In time he had removed several layers of cloth and exposed a small but thick wooden box with a hefty latch on it. Azhani watched with a sort of bored curiosity as the box was opened even more carefully. She recoiled upon seeing what was inside, her eyes going as wide as possible while she audibly gasped. “That cannot be…” She reached out for a moment to touch the thing, before grabbing that hand with her other, suddenly remembering why that wasn’t a good idea. The books she’d read about the Nerevarine couldn’t seem to agree on what his face looked like, but damned if they didn’t all go into excruciating detail regarding his two most famous weapons. One of which was right there in front of her. Keerava seemed surprised, too. “That is what’s been sitting under my bar since yesterday?” “Yup. Genuine Keening,” the Dragonborn said, sounding almost disinterested as he carefully picked the thing up – getting a few surprised noises from Azhani as she looked on in awe at his hands not melting as she’d read they were supposed to – and slid it into a small scabbard just under his sword. “I didn’t say anything about it ‘cause it’s easier to keep it safe if nobody knows what it is.” Azhani shook herself from her little trance and tipped her head to the side. “Wait, are you sure that’s real? I don’t think you’re supposed to be able to hold the real thing like that.” “Oh yeah, it’s real. I guess it’s just lost a lot of its power, so it won’t do too much to me if I carry it around. I wouldn’t advise touching it, though, just to be safe. It doesn’t hurt me but I don’t know what’d happen to someone else.” “And where’s the rest of the set, then?” Keerava asked while Talen walked up with a tray of food, stopping for a moment to register that he wasn’t imagining the legendary artifact on the belt of the guy sitting across the bar. “Supposed to be a hammer and a glove.” Bjorn shrugged. “Beats me. I’m still not even entirely sure where this was dug up, so fuck if I know what’s going on with the other two.” Then he shoved a piece of meat into his mouth, and only spoke again once it was no longer in the way. “So,” he said, looking over at Azhani. “If you’re coming along, you should probably go get everything you need together. I’d like to leave sooner rather than later, and, you know, if I don’t have to wait for you…” “Yeah, I get it. I don’t have a whole lot…” Azhani trailed off into a bit of a laugh at her own expense. “Ah, but, yes, I’ll get some clothes together, I suppose.” She stood up and stumbled, trying to remember how her legs worked after being seated essentially since she woke up. She sorted herself out by leaning onto the bar for a moment, before pushing off and slowly heading upstairs. Azhani left the door cracked open when she got to her room, ignoring the little stash of different clothes she had lying in a corner and instead heading for the window. She threw it open and leaned forward against the windowsill, her head sticking out with eyes closed and mouth slightly open. A cool morning breeze ruffled her fur while her ears flicked reflexively in response to the little bit of wind. Her eyes opened when the air settled down, and she casually looked out over what she could see of the town. A few people were roaming about on whatever business they had, and in the distance she could hear the chatter of the marketplace while the locals surrendered what little coin they could spare to the merchants selling those baubles of theirs. It almost reminded her of her time with the caravans – whenever those pedlars weren’t moving, they were camped out trying to talk some poor sap into spending his last two septims on an “exotic luxury item” that was really just some household trash brought up from Anequina or Pellitine. No wonder people in Skyrim didn’t like Khajiit, if that was all they’d ever seen of them. And no wonder the pedlars stayed out of the homeland – the Baandari were supposed to be an honorable organization, and going back home with a reputation for scamming honest people out of hard-earned money would… Well, nobody ever filled Azhani in on what would happen then, but she assumed it wouldn’t be particularly fun. At least there were still a few honest people around, and Azhani knew the pedlars running the caravan to Whiterun were among them. They couldn’t afford not to be, after all. Trying to run a scam on Skyrim’s center of trade wouldn’t just be a stain on their honor – they’d go completely broke too! She was confident they’d have what she needed, and that her experience with them would let her whittle them down to a good price for it without them trying to pull tricks on her. A sparkle in the corner of her view dragged Azhani’s attention from her thoughts. She looked towards the source, leaning forward just a bit to get a better view. She scanned the area quickly, and her gaze settled on a part of the road adjacent to the inn, just a few rooms down. A puddle there seemed to have caught the morning light in just the right way to shine a bit. But… why was there a puddle there to begin with? It hadn’t rained in ages. Then again, this place did serve alcohol. It was probably just some drunk heading home last night, stopping for a piss on the way. It was a bit disgusting, but who was Azhani to judge when she’d done the same herself on countless occasions? And while sober, no less! Come to think of it, if she was going to be heading out of town, she’d probably want to make sure to drain herself before doing so became inconvenient. So she pulled herself back into the room, leaving the window open so she could still get hints of the nice breeze, then strolled across to the other side of the room to shut and lock the door to make sure nobody would interrupt. From there it was trivial. As she’d done so many times before, Azhani walked over to the bed, pulled her pot out from under it, stripped, squatted over the pot, and relaxed. The result was a pitiful little trickle that barely lasted a few seconds, but that was a pleasant change of pace from nearly wetting herself just about every other day. She gave herself a little shake to dry off once she was done, then just redressed and put together what little stuff she would need for the journey: her coin purse, and a few sets of clothes. That still felt weird just to think about – that she had money and a variety of clothing. For so long she’d have been lucky to have one septim and a shirt. Usually it ended up being a choice between one or the other, and she’d almost always pick the septim. But that was a different time, and as far as Azhani was concerned a different person. That just wasn’t her anymore – it might have been once, but now she was making a good, honest living, and it was hard to adjust to a safe, stationary life after all that time. Perhaps going on this trip would do her a bit of good in that regard. It’d get her out and about like she used to be, except this time the people she’d be travelling with weren’t expecting her to give them any favors in exchange for the protection. Azhani shook her head and grabbed all the stuff she’d packed for her trip. No use thinking about the past, though. Nothing she could do to change any of that. So she headed for the door, unlocked it and swung it open, and was just about to step out of the room when she remembered something else she usually wouldn’t have had – her shoes, and even then she only remembered them because she noticed that her feet were bare and needed to be wrapped if she wanted to go on a long trip. Then she remembered she had a pair of shoes stowed away somewhere, which would be much better than a little cloth. She set down the bag she was bringing with her and set about trying to figure out where she’d left them. She hadn’t worn them since the day she got them, partly because they were never necessary, and partly because of what had happened to them that day that caused her to go out and wash them the next. But other than that, they were damn fine shoes. Fortunately, they were in the first place she checked – tucked away into a corner of the room near the bed. Out of the way, but easily accessible. Azhani retrieved them and spent a minute sitting on the bed getting them on and lacing them up. Now she was ready. Azhani actually turned out to be the first to get herself ready. Somehow, she’d had time to stare out a window, relieve herself, and lazily collect her clothing and money all before the two experienced adventurers got their things together. She was waiting for them just outside the inn’s front door, and when they came out they were as surprised as she was that she’d been so quick. The Dragonborn, however, didn’t seem to care much beyond the initial confusion, and simply headed off in the direction of the south gate, a little wave of his hand indicating that his wife and Azhani should follow. “Wouldn’t the north gate be faster?” Azhani was just barely keeping pace with Bjorn, and he slowed down a bit to answer her question. “It would be, but if we leave town from the south, the entire route to Whiterun is along a river, which is convenient for us because it means we don’t have to carry lots of supplies. Just some food and enough drink to get us to our first camp.” “Oh, that makes sense. No cart this time, then?” “Nope. Just horses. I actually only have the two so you’re gonna have to share Lydia’s if you don’t mind.” “And if you do mind, you can walk the whole way,” Lydia added with a pinch of sarcasm. The tip of Azhani’s tail twitched. “Well, I could do with some exercise…” “Shit, you really think so?” The Dragonborn looked at Azhani with a raised eyebrow. “Man, if anything, you need to sit around doing nothing more. Get some meat on those bones, lady.” “Smaller frame is better for sneaking,” Azhani muttered. “Yeah and it means a light breeze will knock you on your ass.” Bjorn chuckled. “You think anything’s gonna knock someone built like me down?” He made a fist and knocked on his chestplate to prove his point. Azhani rolled her eyes. “I saw you almost get knocked off a mountain by a dragon.” “Hey, Alduin doesn’t count. And I stayed on the mountain, right? Totally doesn’t count.” Lydia slapped him on the back near his shoulder. “And I suppose that scar across your chest doesn’t count either? I hear you were coughing up blood. Quit acting so tough, your dumb ass nearly died.” “Love you too, hon.” Bjorn laughed and was promptly rewarded with a little shove that caused him to stumble. Azhani slowed down to her usual walking speed, letting the other two carry on their play-fight in peace as they kept on ahead of her. Her tail calmly swished around behind her as she watched them. The sight reminded her of how her and her sister used to tease each other when they were kids, and she actually pulled off as much of a smile as her anatomy would allow. Sure, the memories of her sister whom she’d accepted she’d never see again hurt, but for some reason seeing the Dragonborn and his wife enjoying themselves – and each other – made her feel good. Things were really looking up for her. When was the last time anyone else’s happiness made her feel happy too, and not jealous of their good fortune? When was the last time she’d even been in the company of anyone who wasn’t just looking out for themselves? Azhani couldn’t remember, but she was glad that these things were happening now. She had a good life, a good home, a good job, and she knew good people. And perhaps with a little bit of luck she’d even get to go on a good adventure or two. Just like old times.
  15. Sake

    female Masterful

    This is a loose sequel to Trials of the Nine. Reading that shouldn't be necessary to enjoy this, but it will provide some context. The crowds packing the halls of Medru Dalach dispersed instinctively at Cel’s approach, first-years who didn’t know any better being dragged aside by upperclassmen. Nobody made eye contact with her – they had enough problems already without provoking her one way or another. Of course, it wasn’t like she went around trying to pick fights, but even so, by now people knew better than to disturb her without good reason. It wasn’t all that easy to socialize with her anyways, and while she did have a handful of close friends (hardly any of whom she’d met at the Academy) she’d made it clear that the distractions from her studies were not appreciated. So she walked in silence, with the confidence of someone who’d committed a map of the grounds and halls to memory. This was Cel’s seventh year at Medru Dalach, of course, and while it was quite large it was very intuitively designed; not at all hard to navigate. Most of the difficulty in getting around was that there were so many people, but that had long since stopped applying to Cel. She walked into a room without even looking at the signage to confirm which room it was, and moved directly to take a seat at what would be her desk the entire year. This room was something of a laboratory, large with one wall covered entirely in windows, and filled with a sprinkling of large tables that could easily seat a dozen people each. Shelves full of books and assorted magical and miscellaneous items lined the wall opposite the windows and in the middle of the room was a furnace and a handful of anvils. Cel’s seat was at a desk on the far side of the room from where she’d entered, beneath a large chalkboard with a handful of old paper diagrams stuck to it. She was the first to arrive – well before anyone else would even consider showing up – and as someone had already come in to light all the lanterns in the room she had plenty of time to look over her notes. It may have been her first day back this year, but that didn’t mean she had any excuse to be unprepared. Come to think of it, it was her first day for a lot of things. As with most other members of her Order, she’d normally wear loose-fitting golden robes, but now Cel adjusted the collar of her new white shirt, undoing the top button so it didn’t feel like she was being choked by her own clothes. Her pants weren’t much better – they weren’t too bad, but they were tight and always seemed to be in an uncomfortable position. She really wasn’t used to wearing stuff like that, since beyond her armor which she’d maybe only wear for an hour or two at a time once a month, she’d always worn robes and skirts with nothing under them except the minimum required to maintain decency. But now she had an appearance to maintain, and this was the way to do it – even if it meant she’d have to stuff herself into constricting garments and show off a little more of her modest figure than she would have liked. For an hour the only sound in the room was that of papers being moved as Cel consulted her notes, checking over diagrams to ensure they and the descriptions of them were accurate. The first few students to arrive didn’t even seem to notice her presence as they found seats at the large tables and similarly looked over whatever important documents they had with them. But as the room filled, they started talking to each other, and the few times Cel looked up to survey the room she could see one or two of them pointing in her direction and talking in hushed tones. Whatever they were talking about, though, she didn’t care. It was probably true anyways, and either way she was well aware of all the rumors about her that had been circulating for the past few years. No need to waste her time trying to suppress them when they weren’t doing her any harm. The room had filled well before the bell in the Council tower rang out – these were seventh-year students, and by now they had no excuse to be late to the first class of the year. When it stopped ringing, she stood up and moved out from behind her desk, all eyes now on her and the room dead silent. Cel spread her arms and gave a little bow of her head before breaking the silence. “Well,” she said. “Here we are again, huh?” Then her arms folded and she continued. “I already know all of you and you already know me. And you know that I don’t want to waste any time here. Whatever you’ve heard, you heard right. Especially –“ She tugged lightly at the blue sash she was wearing. “If you’ve heard about this. Now, my status may have changed but my expectations haven’t. You show me respect, do what you’re here to do, we’ll get along fine like always. You make trouble…” Cel gave a little chuckle. “Well, you already know how that would turn out, don’t you? Anyways, all you need to know is that this is not going to be an easy class, but we’re gonna do a lot more practical work than theory, so we’ll have a bit of fun with it. But that’s enough talking. Let’s get right into it, unless someone has questions…?” A single hand went up near the front of the room, and the person to whom it was attached stood up when Cel pointed at her. Cel was familiar with her – they’d had adjacent dorm rooms for the past six years. “Well, uh, excuse me Ce- er, Councillor, but…” The woman was a good eight years older than Cel and was tripping over her own words. “Uh… don’t you think it, eh, it’s a bit… weird… that you took our class specifically?” Cel shook her head before answering. “Of course not. Nobody else – not the other eight, not any of the professors – knows you guys as well as I do. I’m sure it’ll be a little uncomfortable for a little while, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. Who better to teach you than someone who was, hardly four months ago, your peer? I know what’ll work, what won’t, so we won’t have to waste any time figuring it all out. And speaking of wasting time…” The Councillor’s eyes scanned the room for a moment. The woman whose question she’d answered had sat back down and nobody else seemed to have anything to say, so Cel turned around and picked up a piece of chalk. For the next couple of minutes the only sound was of the chalk rubbing against the board, until finally Cel turned around again, now standing in front of a complicated diagram and a few unusual equations. “This should be a good place to start,” she said, pointing with her thumb over her shoulder. “Divine alloy, mystic alloy, whatever name you’ve heard for it. We’re gonna make some. I’ll show you how to do it and then, well, you do it. I’ll need, uh…” Cel looked around for only a moment and pointed at two different people. “You, and you. Get over there.” She waved a hand in the direction of the forges, and the two elves she’d chosen hurried over without a word. Cel herself took a moment to browse the shelves for a handful of different metals before joining her two assistants and laying out the metal bars on an anvil. Cel lit one of the forges and got to work immediately. For ten minutes, she worked with the bars she’d brought, running her hands across them and moving them into and out of the forge, all the while narrating her process. Her assistants added their magic on her orders, and eventually Cel was magically pulling a blob of liquid metal with a peculiar bronze color. “Now, you’re supposed to be able to do this regardless of what sort of magic you’ve got. If you can’t, you did it wrong. But if you did it right, you should be able to…” The metal gradually took on a more corporeal shape as Cel’s hands moved about, eventually settling into the form of a razor-sharp dagger which Cel grabbed out of the air. “… give it whatever shape you want. Once you’re satisfied with its shape,” she said, stuffing the knife into some compartment in her new robes. “You can solidify it, and you’ve got yourself a more or less indestructible whatever-you-made. You can’t reshape it once you’ve locked its form, though. Nobody’s figured out how to do that, so… Well, if you somehow manage to do that I’ll definitely need to know about it.” Then she clapped her hands together once and said, “Now go ahead, sort yourselves out, and get to work. There’s… a good forty minutes left to this class. Should be plenty of time.” Cel spent the rest of the class at her desk, carefully watching over her students to ensure nothing was getting out of hand. It was a bit disorderly, as she’d expected – only one of the groups had no more than the minimum six people, and all the others had an extra mage of one element or another helping out. None of the groups had gotten it quite right, but everyone was talking to each other trying to figure out what went wrong, so as far as Cel was concerned the lesson was working. She took a drink from the waterskin she’d had hanging by her hip, attached to a piece of her robe that served as a belt. It was almost entertaining watching people who just last year were her fellow students now running around following her orders. Councillors didn’t have to teach classes, but Cel was very much enjoying her decision to do so. This was what she’d been working towards for twenty years. She raised her waterskin in a little toast to herself, and took another drink. Having this sort of power was fun, and it was power she’d damn well earned. Though, more importantly, of course, was the responsibility of being part of the joint leadership of the Academy, and Cel certainly wasn’t about to let that get the better of her after everything she’d done to get there. It would be a bit of a learning experience, but then again, what wasn’t? Cel stood up at the exact moment the Council tower bell started ringing. The class, which would have normally been prepared to leave ten minutes ago after becoming so familiar with the Academy’s schedule, seemed to be taken by surprise and rushed to clean up after themselves. They hesitated to leave, though, only hurrying out the door once Cel gave a little dismissive wave of her hand. She stayed behind until the last of them had left, giving the room a quick last survey to ensure it was clean enough for whomever would have it next before she left as well. She took her sweet time in the halls, not having anywhere in particular she needed to be. She’d decided to work her way over to the Council tower, but there wasn’t any pressing need for her to be there just yet. Soon enough Cel was the only one in the halls, the tower bell signaling the start of the next class. Nobody wanted to be late, after all, especially not with her prowling around. And with nowhere to be and no truants to chase down, Cel now had an opportunity to admire the architecture of the place. She’d never really gotten a good look at anything before, always in a hurry to get to one place or another, but now she was looking at every little detail while she wandered along in whatever direction she was headed. For a bunch of five-thousand-year-old buildings, Medru Dalach sure did look nice. A glance out one of the hallway windows gave a view of the marble outer walls of the other buildings, and inside the walls were a beautiful light bluish-gray stone with some intricate designs carved in where they met the dark wooden floor. Bright lanterns hung from the ceiling and were mounted on the walls in places. Cel made her way down a flight of stairs made of the same stone as the walls, down a short hallway and through some large doors leading to a mess hall. It was quiet this time of day, with only a handful of students and possibly even a professor or two hanging around with nothing better to do. None of them gave Cel any more attention than a quick glance in her direction, and she didn’t pay them any heed either, making her way over to a counter set up with various drinks. Having already had breakfast, Cel simply made herself a cup of tea and walked right back out into the halls with it in hand. Her slow walk continued, and she stopped every so often to take a sip or two of her tea, working her way to the Council tower. She eventually got to the plaza that connected all the buildings on campus, taking one last break on a bench near the Academy’s central lodestone, an obelisk taller than some of the buildings around it, to finish off her tea. Once that was done, Cel decided to skip the rest of the walk and a great deal of stairs – primarily the excessive amount of stairs – and simply touched the lodestone, closing her eyes for a moment. There was a brief sensation of wind rushing past her, then Cel found herself standing near a little shrine on one of the tower’s higher levels. Across the room there was a desk, at which was seated a silver-haired elf wearing the same robes as Cel. He was hunched over what seemed to be papers of some kind, only looking up once Cel reached the desk. “Ah, there you are,” he said, standing and offering a handshake which Cel readily accepted. “There’s a lot to show you. Would have done it earlier, of course, but you’ve thrown that off a little by taking a class already.” “Was that not what you were expecting?” “Not particularly,” the other Councillor said. “But it’s not an issue really. Come, I’ll… show you to the proper offices. Just up these stairs here.” He passed through a doorway to a staircase, Cel following close behind, and the two continued to talk on the way. “I must say, Cel,” he said. “You seem to have adjusted quite well to your new station. Many of us never teach classes, never mind that being the first thing we do when we get here. Seems we were right about you.” Cel stopped briefly to give a deep bow of her head. “Why, thank you, Master.” The response was a light chuckle. “Oh, but it seems it’s not so easy for you to drop the formal tone with us, is it, Maestress?” The last word had a teasing emphasis on it. “Old habits, Varassus,” Cel said, mimicking his tone. “How long did it take you to start calling Theryl or Sentagon by their names, hm?” “Sure, fair enough. Though in my defense, they’re forty years older than me, and it’s very hard to act like people so senior to you are your equals. Ah, but, here we are.” Varassus stopped to hold a door open for Cel and followed her into the room. Aside from the space occupied by the stairwell and what seemed to be a handful of closets, the room took up the entirety of this floor of the tower and as such was a massive circle. Some desks were scattered around, organized into strange shapes with many of them piled high with any number of things. One of the desks was occupied, and four more Councillors stood over a small table at which the last two were seated. Varassus went directly to this table, and Cel followed quietly. Cel recognized the two seated Councillors as Esgobion and Teragon. Esgobion had been the sole vote against offering her a Council seat, and Teragon had said only a single word during Cel’s trials – he had a bit of a reputation for saying as little as possible, a trait Cel could sympathize with. The two were playing a game with which Cel was not particularly familiar, and though she’d seen it played at the Academy from time to time she didn’t know its name or its rules. All she knew about it was that a square board was laid out on the table, and had a grid of squares that alternated between light and dark painted onto it. The two Councillors were moving a little army around, one black and one white. Varassus leaned in close to Esgobion, and Cel could hear him quietly say “Ng5,” whatever that meant, to the other elf. Apparently, it didn’t mean anything of value, as in response Esgobion shoved Varassus aside with one hand. “What? Why would I do that? Do you see his queen? Get out of here.” “Bah, you never take my advice.” Varassus turned back to Cel and vaguely gestured out towards the rest of the room. “Well, you can go ahead and find an empty desk or two or ten. Get yourself set up however you like. Not too much work to do just yet, so relax for a bit, then when you’re ready one of us has to show you how to set up the trials.” And with a curt nod, he headed back downstairs, leaving Cel to wander the office on her own. She headed first for the only occupied desk, where a Councillor was busy studying what seemed to be essays of some variety. “How’d you end up stuck with paperwork on the first day, Madrelos?” She was looking over his shoulder has she spoke, and though he seemed to jump a little in his seat he was mostly unphased, only giving a brief glance back at Cel. “Council applicants,” he said with his impatience clear in his voice. “We get a good few during the off-season, and we’ve got to sort through them all, toss the ones we don’t want to bother with, and set up the interviews for the ones we do want.” Then he shrugged. “Pain in the ass, but someone has to do it.” “Couldn’t we just stop taking applications for a while?” Cel folded her arms. “There’s a mile-long list of people who already passed the trials, isn’t there?” Madrelos sighed. “Sure is. Consider yourself lucky you got an invitation and skipped the line. You and Theryl are the only ones here who managed that. The rest of us had to wait a good three years or so.” He dropped his pen and turned around to face Cel properly. “And we were lucky to wait any less than fifteen. There are people on that list who’ve been on it longer than you’ve been alive. But, we close off applications, we’re blinded to new talent. Sure, some people will die waiting to get in, but I’m sure you’re well aware of how high our standards are. It’s one thing to be good enough to get our attention and pass the trials, but if someone better comes along afterwards, we’re taking them first.” Another sigh and he turned around again. “But we’d never know if someone better might come along later if we close applications. Nobody likes sorting through them, but sometimes you strike gold and that’s what makes it worth it. Now, uh, I’d like to get through at least a tenth of this before the day is out.” “Yeah, have fun there.” Cel took only a few steps away from Madrelos and examined the room. Things seemed to be strewn about at random – the desks that had anything on them didn’t have any logical placement in the room, and most seemed to be two or three separate desks all pushed together. The unoccupied desks were almost as bad, relegated to the edges of the room but still positioned without any care. Though the edges of the room also featured some very nice, if unremarkable, windows. It wasn’t so much the windows themselves that were impressive, of course – sure, they were made of flat, clear glass, which even a King would consider a luxury anywhere else, but that was standard at the Academy. And those simple blue curtains pulled out of the way of the sun’s light weren’t anything to write home about either. But that view… Cel grabbed one of the free desks and dragged it over to a nearby window, shoving the desk right up against the wall below the window. Then she found a chair and brought that over, and sat down to watch the outside world. This side of the tower looked out on the bulk of the campus, and at this height any observer would have the perfect angle just far enough above all the buildings to properly admire the size of Medru Dalach. It could be a perfectly functional city if it really wanted to, and from here it was easy to see why. But Cel couldn’t just sit around staring out a window all day – her body had other plans, for one, and while it currently seemed to only be making a suggestion and not a demand, it would be wise to take care of that little problem before it became an actual issue. She’d still have business to take care of afterwards, of course, and it wouldn’t make much sense to add unnecessary distractions. So she got up, calmly smoothed out her robe, and went on a bit of an adventure to see what was in all the side rooms on this floor of the tower. Most of them were storage space, as was expected, but one was exactly what Cel was looking for. It was a small room, with little in it beyond what was necessary – though it was a little ostentatious for just the bare minimum. The Academy, after all, made unique use of running water indoors, thanks to some sort of ingenuous use of magic that allowed fresh water to be carried around through pipes in the walls. A marked improvement over having a bench with a hole in it that led who-knows-where. Cel’s hands found their way under her robe to drop what was there to the ground, then she took her seat. She couldn’t help but think that the whole setup was a bit strange, even if she did know it helped keep things around the Academy a lot cleaner and healthier. There was just something inherently not right about the muted sound of her urine striking water beneath her even if only for a few seconds, and the cold ceramic seat wasn’t exactly comfortable either. But then, comfort wasn’t the primary purpose here, was it? When she finished, Cel stood up and negotiated her clothes into a position where she could return her pants and underwear to where they were meant to be and drop the blue robe to cover them again. A few steps over to another wall and she was standing before a mirror hung over a stone counter – the counter had a bit of a bowl-shape carved into the middle, and a pipe came from the wall and aimed directly at the hole in the center of the recession. Cel turned a knob on the pipe, causing it to issue cold water in a manner not at all dissimilar to what she herself had done seconds before. A moment to wash her hands, turn the water off again, and straighten out her short black hair, then Cel left the little room behind. Then she went straight back to her desk – her own desk, in the Council tower! – and stood by it, leaning a little over it with both hands planted flat on top. More to stop them from shaking than anything else. The feeling struck her almost out of nowhere that this must have been a dream; a dream that she would have wet herself out of by now with her little bathroom trip, but a dream nonetheless. But no, it was real. Surely it was. Wasn’t it? ‘Deep breaths,’ Cel told herself, looking straight at her hands for some anchor in something she could be sure was true. After all, how could everything around her be real? Six years. That was it. How could all this happen in six years? Seven years ago, she was celebrating becoming a proper adult, going off into the world on her own as an absolute nobody. Two years ago, she had respect. She had a name; not a big shot by any means, but she’d made a name for herself. And then… last year. That sixth year. That was it. The year that took this nobody girl from nowhere and ensured the entire world would know her name. Cel brought up one arm and wiped her eyes with her sleeve. She was proud of herself, and she damn well had every right to be. She’d worked hard, not just for the six years she was a student at the Academy, for her entire damn life, all twenty-two years of it. And this was her reward. She hadn’t thought about exactly what that meant before now, and it was all a bit overwhelming. Years’ worth of sweat and blood and now suddenly Cel was one of the nine most powerful people on the planet. The youngest person to ever be one of the nine most powerful people on the planet. Just a few years at Medru Dalach and she’d made history all on her own. ‘But it’s not over yet, is it?’ Cel answered her own question with a little shake of her head. She couldn’t afford to have people start second-guessing her reputation – her life’s work – when it was all she had. ‘No… No, this is where it starts.’ She may have already proven herself, but now she had to fight to keep everything she’d already fought so hard to get. ‘Because, if I don’t-‘ “Cel?” The young Maestress was pulled from her thoughts by a familiar voice off to her side, and she turned her head to find its source. “You alright?” Sentagon spoke calmly, his concern obvious in his tone and the creases of his aged face. Cel nodded and took a deep breath. “Yeah, I’m… I’m fine. Just… Just, uh, haven’t quite totally accepted that, eh… that this is real, y’know?” Sentagon raised an eyebrow, and watched Cel search his eyes for some hint that he knew what she wouldn’t say – but if he did, he wasn’t saying anything about it either. “Yeah, it is a bit overwhelming at first,” he said, offering up a cup of tea he’d carried over – Cel took it with a quiet word of thanks and took a few sips while the elder Councillor continued speaking. “But, here we are. We dedicated our lives to magic, and this is where we ended up. It’s always hard to understand that we really have done it. You just need a little help adjusting.” “Thanks, but, uh… I don’t need help. What I need is to get to work. Soooo,” Cel dragged out the last word before cutting it off with another sip of tea. “If you really want to help, you think you could show me how to get the arena set up?” “Hah, I should have expected as much from you,” Sentagon said, putting a hand on Cel’s nearest shoulder. “Just follow me, I’ll show you everything.” Then he left, and Cel followed, still working on the tea she’d been given. They passed by the board game again – this time it was the unparalleled strategist Renagor who was sat across from Teragon – and went back down the stairs without a word. Cel didn’t mind being left to her thoughts, so long as she could avoid the darkness Sentagon had stopped her from falling into again. She didn’t like that part of herself, but it had a point. Cel’s name was everything to her, and if anything should change to make people think less of her, her life would be ruined. It was a terrifying concept, a dreaded future Cel had worked hard to avoid. That darkness had driven her ambitions, led her to Medru Dalach, to the Council. But it wasn’t welcome – fear was no true motivator. Sentagon was one of a rare few who Cel trusted completely, one of the few she could be her real self around, and perhaps the only person outside of her own kin she could turn to when the darkness resurfaced. The two had stopped in a side-room near Varassus’s desk so Sentagon could make more tea, and while Cel leaned against a wall by the door she considered voicing her concerns and asking for advice. But she couldn’t find the right words, and in any case she really did mean it when she said she wanted to just get right to work – work would help her. It would be something to do, something to focus on. Even better, it would be difficult, and that sort of pressure would keep Cel occupied and happy. Sentagon would teach her how to handle that pressure and ensure she knew what to do, and she would do as he showed her even when he was no longer there to see or care. But for now Sentagon was here with her, ready to teach her the ways of the Council, with cups of tea in hand for the both of them. Cel had already finished the first one she’d been given – it hadn’t been full when she got it, so overall it went by faster, but it was still gone either way – so she took the second with a quiet nod. She wasn’t really thirsty, but this tea was special and reminded her of home. And, well, of course it did, because this tea was from home. Though Cel had been there just last week, and she was by now used to home being halfway across the world, the taste of something made by the priests of the Celestial Order was deeply comforting. Sentagon clearly thought so, too – a brief search of the room while the two spent some time quietly drinking revealed he had a lot more stuff from home stored here. Cel helped herself to some of his bread, absentmindedly working on a slice while her tea gradually disappeared. “Oh, uh, I should probably mention…” Sentagon spoke without the conviction Cel had come to expect from his ancient voice. “We’ll actually be having a brief meeting today, right after lunch. It’s nothing terribly important but if you’d like to get a handle on things around here you’ll want to get yourself ready for that.” “Whah? A meeting?” Cel’s voice was muffled by the bread she was trying to speak around, until she swallowed it, followed up with some tea, and continued. “A meeting on the first day? That never happens.” “Not normally, no, but, eh… Like I said it won’t be anything major, nothing we’d need to get too involved in, so it’s better if we get that out of the way first so it doesn’t keep us from real business later in the year.” “Huh. Well, it’s something, right? Nothing interesting, then?” Cel looked into her cup and finished off the rest of her tea all at once. Sentagon shrugged. “Eh, it rarely is anything interesting. Today it’s just some people looking for funding for their research…” He put a hand on his chin and pointed vaguely as he spoke. “And we’re also meant to see High King…. whatshisname… Ontarius. He’s bringing his sons to… Ah, well, I don’t remember what he said they’re coming along for, but it’s just a routine visit, nothing special.” “Uh…” Cel raised an eyebrow and set down her teacup. “Sorry, I got a bit lost when you said ‘High King’. I’m not quite understanding how a visit from the man on the Bleeding Throne could be called routine.” “Hah, yes, I suppose you wouldn’t be used to things like that yet, would you?” The elder Councillor crossed his arms. “It’s pretty simple. A High King shows up around here about every fifteen years to get up to speed on things we’ve decided in the time since the last visit. They like to adjust their laws to stay in line with our rules, and it’s not rare for leaders to do things like that. Used to see the same thing with the Cysgod Emperors, but they’ve not come in person since Renagor joined the Council. Not much reason to come all the way out here when you’re related to one of the Nine, I suppose.” Cel nodded slowly and quietly. “That… Yeah, that makes sense, I suppose. But, um…” She motioned with her hand towards the door. “Trial caves?” “Right, right. Just come with me, then. We’ll get this wrapped up real quick for you.” Sentagon left the room when he finished, and Cel followed closely. The two went directly to the shrine Cel had teleported to earlier, Varassus paying them no mind as they passed him. Cel stood back for a moment while Sentagon went first, walking directly towards the shrine and sticking his arm out in front of him so his hand brushed against it, never slowing down. He seemed to dissolve into dust and then vanish completely as soon as his hand touched the shrine. Cel waited a bit before approaching more carefully, stopping when she got within arm’s reach of the shrine and only then laying a hand on it. A moment passed where nothing happened, then her vision faded and she could hear the roaring of intense wind, and when her vision returned she was clearly underground. Her surroundings were familiar, though she didn’t remember them as well as she did the rest of the Academy – she’d only been down here once before, for this was not a place to which one came often. Still, it was perfectly recognizable as the trial cavern, or at least its entry hall – the arena itself was beyond a few rooms carved from the underground. In front of Cel was a gate she couldn’t see past, but knew blocked off a little residential area with all the necessities for a single person to spend a few days living in. Past that was the simple preparation area that had little more than a bench and a table in it, and farther still ahead was the great arena, a large empty circle with an observation room somewhere far above. But the gate was sealed, and nothing beyond it was of any use just now. Sentagon spoke from somewhere behind Cel, and she turned to see him sitting cross-legged against a wall. “Figured you’d be down here,” he said. “You’re going to have to get used to teleporting into the box, you know. But for now here’s as good a place as any to explain how this works.” The young Maestress took a seat next to her elder, and looked over at him. “I’m listening.” “Well,” Sentagon started, taking a deep breath. “It’s simple, theoretically. You’re familiar with soulbinding. It’s the same concept, except instead of binding clothes or armor or a weapon, you bind the entire arena so you can call on it again later. Which, unfortunately, means anything you need for any trials you set up you need to bring with you all the way down here, or else set up some teleportation network for them. I’m sure you’ve seen it doesn’t do much to limit our creativity, but it does get rather inconvenient.” Cel nodded. “Right. But if that’s how it works, where did stuff like Attraeon’s lodestone come from, or the obelisk Teragon had for me?” “I’m not entirely sure where Attraeon got the lodestone from. You’d have to track him down and ask him. As for Teragon, though, I’d imagine what he made for you was made from the arena itself. Use the cave’s stone to build whatever you need. And I know what you’re going to ask, yes, you can use earth magic on the arena. Teragon was blocking it during your test for him but that’s not something that happens often and there’s nobody to stop you if you’re here alone anyways.” “Makes sense. And I’d have complete control over what I put in the arena?” Cel shifted around a little bit to get more comfortable while she spoke. “Wiiiithin reason. You can’t, of course, design a trial for someone that they’d never be able to pass. If they fail, it has to be because of their own shortcomings, not the test itself. And you can’t do anything that’s particularly likely to kill the applicant either. What Renagor did for you is basically as far as you can go with putting people in danger, and that was really only acceptable to begin with because you’d have failed and ended the test if you couldn’t pull up some bound armor. If things get too dangerous, we have to intervene and that just doesn’t end well for anyone. So… just don’t be an idiot.” He got a chuckle in response. “Ah, geez, I’ll have to try really hard then.” Sentagon wasn’t laughing. “Please don’t joke about this. You’re a smart woman. You know how serious this is.” “I know, I know, I’m sorry. Now, um, is there anything else I need to know?” “Actually, yes.” Sentagon reached into his robes and procured a small, simple gemstone. “The arena configurations are too complicated to soulbind to yourself. Back in the early days, the Council came up with these things to channel the binding through. These stones will keep track of everything as long as you know how to work the magic that way. It does get a little more complicated, however...” “How much more?” “Do you know how to associate binds with words, or images, or something like that?” Cel shrugged. “Probably. Never had to do it, but I bet I could. That’s how those work?” “In a way. You know hard it is to unbind something. These stones remember a lot of trials and with how many applicants will actually take the trials each year it gets very hard to keep track of them. So the most common thing to do is to associate a particular arena setup with the applicant’s name. Makes it very easy to recall. If we were up in the box I’d show you the test I had for you right now.” “And all I’ve got to do besides that is keep that thing in my pocket?” “That’s… an option.” Sentagon handed the stone to Cel. “Most Councillors have theirs made into jewelry. The magic on the stones doesn’t weaken if the stone is cut, so it’s perfect for rings or amulets. Of course though, neither of us are very comfortable wearing jewelry, are we?” When Cel gave a light shake of her head, he continued. “So I just had mine fitted into my belt. I’d recommend you do the same, or find some other article of clothing you always wear that you can keep it on.” “Okay, yeah, that all makes sense. But there’s gotta be more, right?” Sentagon stood and extended a hand to help Cel up. “Eh, no, that’s about it. There’s just a little bit to explain with the enchantments up in observation but you can figure that out when you’re actually overseeing a trial. Until then you just have to familiarize yourself with the stone and practice binding things to it. You’re already teaching classes, and you’ll see how to handle our meetings soon enough. I’d say you just have to find a way to kill some time before lunch.” “I suppose I’ll get this stone figured out then,” Cel said, rolling the magical gem around in one hand before eventually shaking Sentagon’s hand with the other. “That would be wise. If you need anything, I’ll be in the tower.” Then he disappeared in a cloud of dust, and Cel turned to the arena gate. An hour or two past noon, Cel found herself sitting at an elevated crescent table with the other eight while they all listened to some windbag researcher beg them for a sizeable loan to fund his studies. Something about an explosive powder that he thought could be used to launch projectiles more efficiently than any siege engine. While the concept was rather interesting, Cel couldn’t bring herself to pay attention to his droning explanations about what he would do with their gold. It didn’t sound very practical, especially not when mages could already do far better than what this scientist was describing. And she had more important things to focus on anyways. She’d stayed in the arena until noon learning how to use her new binding stone – which for now was tucked away in a pocket – and all the tea she’d been drinking meant she’d needed to make a detour to relieve herself beforehand, but that was hours ago now. It probably wasn’t helping that she drank quite a lot while she practiced, and went directly from the arena to lunch without stopping anywhere. At the time she didn’t think it necessary, and though she was aware of her need by the time she’d finished her meal – which she’d paired with just a touch more beer than normal – it didn’t concern her enough to bother standing in any lines. Returning to the tower wasn’t much better of an option at the time considering she’d then have to lurk around doing nothing of value until the meeting started. So now she found herself surrounded by her Council peers, conducting mind-numbing standard business, with a decidedly full bladder. It still wasn’t quite uncomfortable yet, but it was enough to give Cel another reason to want to get out of the meeting as soon as possible. These researchers never seemed to shut up… This one eventually did, though, and when her turn came Cel gave a little wave of her hand and said “No”, though she seemed to be outvoted and not long afterwards the researcher left the room to go find whomever would give him his money. Cel could hear Varassus sorting through papers to her left, and to her right Theryl had stood up for a moment to stretch. She didn’t pay either of them much heed, instead just absentmindedly chewing her fingernails while she waited for someone else to come into the room. Hopefully there wouldn’t be too many more and they’d all get right to the point. “One more for today…” Cel heard Varassus muttering as he looked over his papers. Soon enough everyone else settled down and Cel folded her hands in her lap and tried to make herself look like she wasn’t about to fall asleep. Varassus called for the next person, and Cel watched the door. When it opened, three men walked in, one clearly older than the other two, and all of them dressed up to look important. The eldest wore a long red coat trimmed with white fur, and his brown hair was marked with streaks of gray that matched the color of the silver coronet on his brow. The other two men bore a remarkable resemblance to him, and must have been his sons – they were dressed like their father, only their coats had less fur and were a slightly darker red. Cel watched the three of them settle in before the Council, and briefly looked one of the sons dead in the eye. He turned away with a red face as soon as he noticed she was looking at him. She leaned back as Varassus spoke, no longer paying much attention as he described what the meeting would entail and the High King introduced himself and his sons. Cel settled in with her elbow on the arm of her chair and her hand holding up her head while Varassus rattled off a list of Academy policies that had changed recently. Once again, she was barely paying attention, listening only enough to understand what the First Councillor was saying while waiting for the meeting to end. High King Ontarius would interrupt every so often with questions, and one of the Councillors would waste yet more time answering him. Cel, fortunately, was not expected to actually speak here – questions seemed to be answered by the Councillor with the greatest expertise in the relevant area, and Varassus was as much of an expert enchanter as she was. She could sit back and let him answer any questions that she would otherwise have needed to speak up on, leaving her free to ignore the discussion and look around for something interesting or some other such distraction. This meeting certainly had dragged on for quite a while though, and while Cel was still certain she had everything under control, she knew she definitely needed to leave soon. And not just because she needed to pee, either – that prince kept looking at her, and as amusing as it was to give him a death glare and have him hurry to look elsewhere, she really didn’t like being gawked at like that. Cel didn’t much appreciate being stared at by some royal as if she were an exotic novelty. It was like he’d never seen a woman before. Nor did she appreciate how long and uneventful all this was. Perhaps if it were something entertaining she’d be able to keep her mind off her bladder for a while, but it was the only company she had while time dragged on. If she’d known the meeting would take this long, she’d have gone beforehand just to be safe, but she had made her choice and had to live with it, as annoying as the results were. It wouldn’t be a problem if they’d just wrap up soon… Eventually they did, after who-knows-how-long, just as Cel was starting to believe it to be impossible. Varassus said something that sounded pretty final, and all the Councillors stood up. Cel followed along with them as they worked their way around the table to get down to where the royals were still hanging around. Ontarius greeted the Masters one by one, introducing each of them to his sons, but for one of the Nine he reserved a special greeting. The High King approached Renagor, and gave him an awkward hug – awkward only because Ontarius, who was not by any means a small man, stood at eye-level with the Councillor’s chest. “Renagor,” he said afterwards. “It’s good to see you! I think I may have missed our last family reunion. How’s your nephew?” “Arianwyn is doing well,” was the response. “Or, Tywyll now, I suppose. Even after nine years I still haven’t quite gotten used to calling him that.” Renagor gave a half-hearted chuckle. “He’s doing his best to live up to his father’s name, but, you know, he’s just not the man my brother was. He’s not the Emperor my brother was, but I can at least hope that he’s taking his job as seriously as Tywyll did.” “I’m sure he’ll be great. And you’ve been well yourself, then?” Renagor gave an affirmative answer, then Ontarius turned to look at Cel, who had approached while the two were speaking. “Oh, and is this the new Maestress I’ve heard about?” “Cel of Korohn,” the young Councillor introduced herself, extending a hand. She almost recoiled in surprise when the High King took the hand, bowed, and kissed it as one of his vassals might do to him. “Er, right,” she said when he’d finished, wiping that hand on her robes. “And I take it you are Ontarius Variisar.” “Indeed I am, Maestress,” the High King said, bowing his head. “And these are my sons, Orelion…” This prince performed a similar bow when his father motioned to him. “…and Zacarius.” Zacarius gave a nervous salute – he was the one who kept looking at Cel, and his face was as red as his coat now. Then he quickly straightened up and attempted to put on a formal look. “Right.” Cel paid Zacarius no mind, focusing on Ontarius… and her body’s calls to leave, which had become quite loud. She couldn’t get caught up in a conversation now, and though she’d heard the High King say something to Renagor that had piqued her interest, she reluctantly had to let it go and deal with more immediate concerns. Renagor himself could explain later, anyways. “Good to meet you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I should be going…” Ontarius gave Cel a quick look up and down, hopefully not noticing the very slight fidgeting she was now doing. “Of course, Councillor. I won’t keep you.” He stepped aside, clearing Cel’s path to the door. “Enjoy your day.” Cel gave a little wave as she left, moving directly for the stairs to get back down to the offices. Sure, she could just teleport down to that floor, even directly into the bathroom, but overreliance on magic like that was lazy and irresponsible and possibly even a serious invasion of privacy. Plus, it wasn’t that far down anyways, and the exercise would be good for her. So, a quick jog down the stairs and… Cel was slammed into by some student who nearly tumbled back downstairs, grabbing the railing to keep from falling while Cel found her own footing again. “Are you blind?” The Councillor composed herself and tried to step around the reckless student and get on her way again, the sudden shove of a whole person colliding with her not doing her any favors, but before she could the student’s voice stopped her. “Ah, sorry, Maestress,” she said, quickly, Cel just now noticing that she looked out of breath, her eyes wide and hands trembling as she held onto the railing. “But there’s… uh…” She stood panting, trying to say something, but Cel interrupted her attempts to make sense. “Calm down,” she said, as if it were an order. The other woman – probably no higher than a fourth-year, considering she looked to be around Cel’s age – nodded and tried to force her breathing to slow down enough to speak properly. Cel followed up with another order. “Now, tell me what’s so important.” The student stammered for a bit before she could finally say something coherent. “Um, there, uh… some girls got into a fight in the dorms, and… it got a little out of hand, and…” “Out of hand? Was anyone seriously hurt?” “I don’t know, I didn’t see anything. I was just told to get a Councillor.” Cel nodded. “Right. I’ll go take care of it. Go tell the others what I’m doing, then get yourself a cup of tea or something. You need to relax.” Then she disappeared, magically jumping to the little shrine below the offices, then from there to the plaza lodestone, and then from there straight to the entrance to the women’s dorms. ‘How does this shit happen,’ Cel thought while she ran in the direction a passing student had pointed her towards. ‘On the first fucking day?’ Her full bladder reminded her that it needed attention, but she forced herself to ignore it for now, despite each step jolting the organ and sending even louder signals that it needed to be dealt with. But it had to wait. This was more important. Slowing down when she reached a crowd, Cel pushed her way through, occasionally giving orders for people to move, until she reached the front, where a professor was trying to keep the crowd in check while doing damage control at the same time. Cel couldn’t see much other than a charred door lying in the hallway. “Professor,” she said, sharp and loud enough to get his attention. “What happened here?” He looked at her quizzically for a moment, muttering “Cel? Okay,” before clearing his throat and answering the question. “Well, uh, Councillor, what we have here is… I don’t know exactly what happened, but I am told a relationship… fell apart, let’s say, and one of the girls involved went to cry to someone else about it, so she went to go confront the ex-girlfriend, and then nobody seems to have seen what happened, but, long story short, there’s extensive damage to those two rooms, and we’ve got one in the infirmary burned pretty badly. I have been told that she will be fine.” “Alright,” Cel said. “And everyone involved was… how old?” “All third-years, I believe, Maestress. Young. I think they’re younger than you, even.” Cel nodded. “Okay. Anything else? Where’s the one who… did all this?” She waved in the general direction of the broken door. “Got her under watch in that room there.” Nodding again, Cel headed silently for the door the professor was pointing to. She stopped just before opening it, taking a deep breath and preparing herself – not for what might happen on the other side, but for the additional wait she’d need to force her bladder to endure despite its demands that it be emptied immediately. She closed the door behind her once she entered the room, which as an office for the overseer of this part of the dorms was fitted with a desk, a few chairs, and more than enough bookshelves. The window on the opposite side of the room illuminated from behind two guards in gold-trimmed plate and a very angry-looking woman sitting unbound in a chair. ‘Tying her up wouldn’t stop her magic anyways,’ Cel mused to herself while considering the humor of keeping such a dangerous individual under watch without any restraints. The guards bowed their heads towards Cel as she approached, stopping just outside of arm’s length of the woman in the chair. “So,” she said, crossing her arms and trying to stand still and sound serious despite her pressing need. “What made you think any of that was a good idea?” “I’m not telling you anything, bitch.” Cel shrugged. “Fine. You don’t have to. You can always just accept being banished from campus. Or you can explain what happened here and hope that’ll be enough to get me into a merciful mood.” “Fuck you. You wouldn’t expel me. Do you even know who I am?” The Councillor scoffed and rolled her eyes, discreetly pressing her legs together. “No, and I don’t care. You could be a King, and it wouldn’t change anything. All I know is,” she said, leaning forward slightly. “That someone’s recovering from major burns because… What? Because you couldn’t handle getting rejected by your girlfriend?” “I dumped her, moron. And is it supposed to be my fault that she went crying to her dumb friend about it?” “Uh, yeah, kind of.” “Oh, fuck you. I’m the heir to Elien, it’s my right to keep a harem. She’s the one who thought she was special.” “Right…” Cel’s patience was wearing thin, on two fronts. “Well, if you’d prefer to just keep digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole, be my guest. Your inheritance doesn’t give you the right to assault people and try to blow up a building, and if you think it does, you can fuck right on off out of here. You’re lucky to get away with just an expulsion after what you’ve done, you entitled little-” Cel was cut off by a punch to the gut, leaving her bent forward cradling her stomach. It didn’t hurt that much, but she’d been hit in exactly the right place to cause her underwear to become uncomfortably damp and warm. She groaned, still feeling the impact well after she’d regained enough control to not soak herself. When she straightened up again, the ex-student was in the hands of one of the guards, her own hands forced behind her back. She just glared at Cel and struggled against the grip of the guard. “Uh…” The young Councillor tried to sound tough again. “Ah, right. Put her on the first boat back home, and make sure her mother hears about what happened.” Giving what she thought was a wicked grin but was more likely just a strained, vaguely-angry expression, she added, “I believe attempted murder and assault are grounds for disinheritance in the Elienid Matriarchate, right?” The ex-student’s eyes went wide and she struggled to break free as she was dragged out of the room, screaming at Cel, “You can’t do this to me! I’ll make sure you suffer for this!” “Sure you will,” Cel said, watching the door slam as the guards left. As soon as they did, Cel sighed and crossed her legs, jamming a hand between them. The short skirt of her robe was pressed against the white fabric of her pants, now far tighter and even more uncomfortable than usual and by some miracle still white. “Oh, fuck…” She was running out of time, there was no denying that. If she could come up with a plan, she could still make it, but she had to act fast. Was there anything in the room to help her? No, not even a potted plant. And the dorms didn’t have bathrooms like other parts of the university, since every room already had accommodations. No, wait, it did have bathrooms – bathing rooms, actually, and it was a very well-known secret that baths all over campus were often dyed yellow when lines were too long or a better solution was too far away. Yes, that was the perfect solution. The baths would recycle and clean the water on their own using old but effective technology. There wouldn’t be so much as a hint that Cel had even been there at all. Wait, no, that wasn’t an option either. She’d never make it if she tried to run that far, and she couldn’t keep herself under control and teleport at the same time. There had to be something closer. Something private, if that was at all possible. Something like… her own room! She’d lived on campus as a student, and since she technically hadn’t reached her tenth year at the Academy, she would still own the room she lived in until then. And if Cel’s memory could be trusted in her current state, it was just down the hall, down a flight of stairs, and around a corner. She could make that. She would make that. Giving herself one last squeeze, Cel straightened up and put her hands to her sides, then took a deep breath and walked out of the office. There was still a bit of a crowd trying to figure out what was happening, but she simply commanded “Move,” and a path was cleared for her. Some people tried to talk to her as she passed, but she ignored them. She ignored everything except her plan. She walked slowly but confidently down the hall, careful not to spill anything but certain that she could hold on long enough, shoving people aside who wouldn’t move when she asked them to, and receiving no complaints when people realized that she was a Maestress. Her certainty faded as she got closer to the stairs she needed to take. This hall was a lot longer than she remembered, and her bladder wasn’t letting up on its insistence to be emptied. Very much the opposite, in fact. Not too far from the staircase, Cel stopped and pressed her legs together as discreetly as she could, though it wasn’t enough to stop another leak. And then another. And then she used all that was left of her strength to stop, standing frozen with her hands trembling at her sides and her legs shaking as they refused to separate from each other. Cel felt weak and tired. She refused to believe it was possible, but she legitimately couldn’t do anything anymore. If she so much as took a single step, she’d lose all control. Tears started to appear in her eyes and she hoped nobody was watching. She was out of options. Out of time. She shut her eyes and felt her last ounce of control slip away from her, as her muscles failed her and left nothing stopping her bladder from draining itself into her pants. In a final, hopeless attempt to do anything, she clenched her fists tight, groaning from the effort of doing even that. She didn’t know if it was going to work. She didn’t expect it to work. It shouldn’t have worked. But, somehow, against all odds, her magic had saved her. Her fists maintained a water spell, holding back her urine where her body wouldn’t anymore. It was dangerous. She shouldn’t have done it. She’d regret doing it later. She was probably already hurting herself. But she was dry, almost, and as long as she could keep up the magic she would remain dry. Cel took a tentative step forward, then another, and when she realized her magic was enough to keep her flood at bay while she walked, she started moving as fast as she could to the stairs, then down. She forced herself to not start crying while she walked, trying to suppress all the thoughts about what had very nearly happened to her, and what could still happen if she should drop her magic. She was exhausted and her head was starting to hurt, but she had to dig up just a little bit of energy, enough to last the rest of the way. If she couldn’t… Then she would disgrace herself, literally pissing away twenty years of hard work as her entire reputation fell apart because she wet her pants like a child. She’d already done that once in public. People could excuse that happening once – it happens to everyone, once, after all. And she’d done it again with an unexpected audience of a single person, during the most important tests of her life. But her sole spectator swore to take the secret of what he witnessed to his grave, and he didn’t even really seem to care that it had happened in the first place. But to have it happen in public, as a Maestress on the Council of Nine, after all that… She would be absolutely ruined. She didn’t want to think about it, and tried very hard not to, but she couldn’t help it. It was the only thing that came to her mind over her short walk to her room, because even the thought that she just wanted to get somewhere she could properly take care of her bladder just led back to those thoughts. Cel didn’t know where she was getting the energy from, but she was glad that she’d found some source somewhere to save herself from the greatest shame imaginable. When she finally got to her room, she brought one quivering hand up to grab the door handle, her other hand balling up tighter to compensate and her body pushing against the door itself, causing her to stumble into the room. The Councillor looked around through a haze of tears, recognizing vague shapes that she could identify even in the dark. Her free hand rubbed at her eyes and she took a few weak steps towards the bed, falling forward once she was close enough. Then with one hand, still trembling, she started to probe around under the bed, feeling for what she knew was there somewhere. Her vision clouded again, this time purely because she felt like she was going to pass out if this didn’t end soon. She tried to reassure herself that it would, and actually cracked a smile when the hand under the bed felt the familiar cold metal, dragging the pot out far enough to use it. On her right hand, Cel’s nails pressed into her palm as much as was physically possible and she forced herself to stand up. She was so close. All she needed to do was get her pants off. Her left hand shakily pulled her skirt up to her belly, and she whined a bit as she looked down at what it had previously been covering. Even after all that, her bladder was visibly bulging out, but that wasn’t the worst part. Just a bit lower, the front of her white pants had become translucent, a big wet patch extending a little bit down her thighs and leaving very little up to the imagination. Cel was even pretty sure there was a hint of what was beneath even her smallclothes, but she didn’t have the time or energy to find out for sure. Slowly moving her right hand up to hold her skirt in place, praying that her magic would be able to hold out through the change in position, Cel slid her left hand down to do whatever it could to unbutton her pants so she could finally relieve herself. It was tough, of course, seeing as how she only had one hand to work with and that one hand couldn’t be kept still. She knew she could open a button like this with just one hand, but it definitely wasn’t going to happen if her fingers kept slipping away whenever she tried to get a grip. Cel groaned as she tried everything she could to get her pants open. That was all she had to do. Her insides felt like they were on fire from the artificial pressure put on her bladder. She just had to get her pants open and down and she’d be fine. But why was it so damn impossible? She wished she could do something to at least alleviate the pressure while she struggled with the button, but since she’d technically lost control quite a while ago, there was nothing she could do but release her magic and wet herself. And even in private she couldn’t bring herself to do that. Eventually, her wrestling with her pants was enough to get them unbuttoned, at which point, taking sharp breaths, Cel pushed her pants down to her knees – just as far as she could get them without bending over. Then she got into a clumsy squatting position, hoping she was over the pot, and hooked two fingers around the drenched white fabric of her panties. She didn’t stop to consider that she could already see quite clearly what was under them as they clung uncomfortably to her, instead just holding her breath as she moved the crotch of her smallclothes out of the way and opened her right hand, releasing the magic barrier between her bladder and the outside world. She started breathing again when she heard liquid furiously striking metal below her as her torrent immediately started at full power. Her breaths came deep and through her teeth as she kept her eyes closed and let her right hand drift down to the ground so she could hold her position. There was no doubt in Cel’s mind that she had gone well beyond all rational limits. It didn’t even feel good to finally relieve herself. No, there was just a stinging sensation and a dwindling burn within as her organs settled down from being overworked. She hoped she hadn’t caused any real damage, but even so she knew she’d have to rest for quite a while to make up for how she’d tormented her body. And she definitely couldn’t use her magic like that ever again. It had saved her from destroying her reputation, but at the same time it forced her body to do things it was never meant to, keeping her urine inside well after all her muscles decided it was time for it to come out. Cel opened her eyes after a minute and looked down at herself. Every part of her was shaking and she was honestly surprised that she was able to maintain her position, especially considering it wasn’t even really that good of a squat. She tried to cut her stream off so she could shuffle around to get more comfortable, but her body wasn’t listening to her anymore. Instead she moved slowly, careful to make sure she didn’t accidentally aim outside of the pot she was quickly filling, and eventually worked her way into a position where she didn’t have to hold herself up with one hand. She then brought her now-free right hand up in front of her face. It was trembling of course, and like most of her body drenched in sweat. There was also a hint of blood from where her fingernails had dug into the skin, though surprisingly it didn’t hurt very much. That hand then came down to rest on her thigh and Cel sighed, trying to relax and hoping it would be over soon. It took another minute for her stream to taper off unceremoniously, trailing off into a few final spurts and a couple of drops to indicate that she was finally empty. Cel sighed and stayed in position for a little while longer. Her bladder felt sore, and she knew it would for quite a while. At the very least, she figured, she’d actually emptied herself out completely. Though that wasn’t exactly a good thing – from her limited prior experiences, Cel knew that when she lost control, she usually only got about halfway empty before stopping again and being unable to drain any further for a while. If she’d actually fully emptied her bladder this time, that meant she’d gone even beyond her normal limits and worn out her muscles enough that they just wouldn’t shut her bladder down again until there was nothing left in it. If nothing else, she was lucky she only felt a little sore, and not in any real pain. She’d pushed herself too hard, yes, but not hard enough to break anything. Not that she ever planned to get to that point, but still, it was a little comforting knowing she hadn’t done so yet. Now she was just more tired than anything else. The strain from holding for so long and all the energy she’d used maintaining her magic had completely exhausted her. With a deep breath, Cel released her panties and stood up, kicking off her shoes and getting to work on fully disrobing. She pulled at the little silver clasp on her shoulder, and when it came apart the blue robe over her clothes unraveled into little more than a sheet. She tossed it onto a little side table next to her bed, then bent down to slide her pants the rest of the way down her legs, dragging her panties along with them shortly after. These she simply left on the floor – they’d need to be washed very thoroughly anyways, so it wouldn’t do them much harm. And finally she got to unbuttoning her shirt, starting from the top and working down until her shirt was open, exposing without showing any details the fact that she wasn’t wearing anything beneath it. She probably should have, but for right now she was grateful that she didn’t have anything else to take off. The shirt came off and was laid down next to the blue cloth that went over it, and Cel stood naked while she contemplated the situation. She started to push the chamberpot back under the bed with her foot, but realizing how weak she would be for the foreseeable future, thought better of it and left it easily available. It wouldn’t be able to hold much more, but if she had to relieve herself again she wouldn’t have very much to contribute anyways. Then the Councillor’s attention was drawn to her legs, which were still wet with her urine and still had trails running slowly to her feet. She wanted very much to just pull the moisture away with magic and toss it somewhere it wouldn’t cause problems, but she was entirely out of energy and couldn’t bring herself to do that. But she did have to dry off somehow. Perhaps she had something lying around… Cel walked slowly towards the dresser she had against one wall, her devastated bladder leaking a few drops onto the carpet as she walked, having found a little more to let out. Cel either didn’t notice or didn’t care, and just kept walking until she got to her destination. Then she absentmindedly opened and closed drawers, looking for something helpful while she continued intermittently dripping. She didn’t have a whole lot there, perhaps as a consequence of her traditionally-ascetic lifestyle, so most of the drawers were empty and the ones that weren’t only had a spare set of underwear or two for if she ever needed them. She was too tired to want to bother with finding a proper towel or washcloth, though, so when she found a drawer with a set of old panties she never wore anyways, she grabbed them and gave her legs a good wipe down until she was… well, she wasn’t exactly dry, but she was dry enough. So she balled up another set of wet underwear and headed back to her bed, tossing the spare panties into the same pile as what she’d just changed out of. Then she simply fell into bed and crawled under the sheets. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew she really shouldn’t just disappear into her old room, not as a Councillor who might be needed on important business. But she was too tired to care, and honestly she was already falling asleep. She’d had a long, hard day, and she’d certainly earned a little rest. So Cel got herself as comfortable as she could, pulling the sheets tight around her body and pretending she had someone else there to cuddle. She drifted off to sleep easily enough, and let herself forget about everything that had happened throughout the day. Though perhaps it would have done her well to remember that she hadn’t shut the door... It was closed now, yes, but only because some unseen spectator wanted to cover their tracks.