Sake

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About Sake

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  1. Sake

    Pistons, Shafts, and Pressure Valves

    It's hill time.
  2. Sake

    Flowing Creek

    1. Let's just do it.
  3. Sake

    Flowing Creek

    1 and 4.
  4. Sake

    The Lord's Blade

    All my blog posts are mirrors of things that already had forum threads, this is just a more convenient format for keeping them organized.
  5. Sake

    Flowing Creek

    4, 1, blonde, black lace. I mean, considering she literally just demonstrated what happens to people who lie to her, it's probably not a good idea to lie about what we think about this thing. It does, after all, look unpleasant.
  6. Sake

    Flowing Creek

    I was going to make a point about how I actually sometimes write things that aren't wettings, but nobody reads what I write anyways so of course nobody would know that. Not sure what that means but I like it. Also I'm voting 5 anyways because even though I actually think 4 is a better ending here 5 is just fine too.
  7. Sake

    Pistons, Shafts, and Pressure Valves

    This is the style he already uses for his free sketches.
  8. Sake

    Fiona Oceans: Piss Talk

    You can't edit after 24 hours, for reasons. Blogs can't be edited after 24 hours either, just in case you wanted to try that to get around it.
  9. Sake

    Desperate Demon

    Not anymore, anyways, now that Asha's had her way with the place.
  10. Sake

    Desperate Demon

    Has there ever been a more wretched hive of scum and villainy?
  11. Sake

    Flowing Creek

    Cats, being the master race and superior species, are always the priority. Therefore, 1.
  12. Sake

    The Bee and Barb

    This definitely still exists. And for the record, this story now also exists in blog form, which is pretty much the superior format since a lot of stupid errors earlier on have been corrected there and it's a nice consistent read with no interruptions by author's notes or anything like that. From now on, whenever I post an update to the thread, the prior update will be posted to the blog - this gives me time to make corrections that I need to make but can't because the 24 hour editing window has passed. So this chapter will appear there once the next one is posted here. The link in my signature also now goes to the blog instead of this thread. Lydia and the Dragonborn had gone down to the dining room early the next morning to prepare for the day ahead of them, the Dragonborn still rubbing his eyes; clearly he hadn’t slept very well, but he had a job to do – one more important than saving the world, of course, because he couldn’t be expected to do that if a barmaid were to murder him for letting her business fall apart in her absence. So he just trudged along to take up a position behind the bar and prepare for what was definitely not going to be an enjoyable day. Lydia followed along quietly, looking just as tired as her husband of just twelve hours. Though one of them was obviously more awake than the other. Where Bjorn seemed to ignore everything around him except the bare minimum to walk properly, Lydia had noticed that the two weren’t alone. Nobody was supposed to be in the inn so early, and yet there was a figure seated at a table near the bar, hunched over what looked like a teapot with a cup in hand. Lydia halted for a moment and just stared at the figure, surprised more than anything else, though she quickly recognized the figure as the little Khajiiti lady who’d been living in the inn and working for Keerava. What was her name again? Azhani? That seemed right. Lydia remained stationary as Azhani seemed to notice someone was looking at her; the Khajiit raised her head to look vaguely at the spectator and give something of a wave with the hand her cup was in. Her mouth was slightly open, and Lydia could tell by her movements that she was breathing heavier than normal. Azhani’s tail twitched with what Lydia recognized as annoyance – assuming Khajiit worked the same way as cats, at least, which could very well just be racist – though she didn’t seem to be mad at anything in particular, just sitting there occasionally halting her breathing long enough to drink some of her tea. “Uh, hi,” was what Lydia came up with after a couple of minutes wherein the only sounds were the Khajiit’s breathing and the Dragonborn rearranging bottles in the kitchen. ”You alright?” She stepped a little closer to Azhani’s table, being sure to keep a safe distance in case the answer was a rather violent “no”. The actual response was a shrug, a particularly-deep breath, and a quiet “Could be worse.” Then Azhani’s nose twitched and she sat up a little straighter, looking off in the direction of the kitchen and the promise of imminent breakfast. “All that food isn’t just for him, is it?” Lydia gave a quick snort of laughter as she pulled up a chair at the opposite end of Azhani’s table. “You sure you’re fine?” She folded both arms in front of herself. “You don’t look very… uh… Oh, gods.” Lydia brought her hands to her face with a sigh. “Don’t tell me you’re…” “Yeah.” Azhani shrugged again and spoke slowly. “Pretty bad season this time, but… at least it isn’t every month.” “Sounds fun,” Lydia said with just a grain of sarcasm. “So you’re out of commission, and I guess I could do your job for you. How long do you figure this is going to last? A week? Couple weeks?” Azhani swirled her teacup around as if it were a wine glass. “Eh, worst part is over in two… three days maybe. After that, two weeks? But that part… will be fine.” Redirecting her gaze to the table, she added, quieter, “Would be over sooner if, eh… If I had help, yes?” Lydia raised an eyebrow. “Can’t do that yourself?” “With what? All I have is hands.” The Khajiit raised her free hand and flexed her claws. “And I don’t know about you but… I have been with enough Khajiit to know I’d rather just… deal with it than stick sharp things in there.” “P-point taken.” Lydia’s response was followed by a nervous laugh as that mental image made her press her legs together. “But, uh… w-what was that about Khajiit? I mean, I’ve read the uncensored version of that one book about Barenziah, but I never thought they really had… uh, those.” “Oh yeah, they have them, they’re only sharp going out, and you never get used to it. Glad I do not have to deal… with the Ba… ah?” Azhani jumped a bit in her seat as she looked up and a little to her left, guided by the smell of nearby food. “How… uh… how long have you been there?” “Long enough to learn some things I really didn’t need to know… Even so, I think everyone can appreciate some breakfast.” The Dragonborn set down a tray of various meats and toast, along with a bottle of mead and a few mugs. He gave Lydia a little kiss on the cheek as he pulled up his own seat near her, leaving the ravenous carnivore at the other end of the table to her own devices. “Long day ahead of you, eh?” “Oh, please, like taking care of a bar for a few days is going to be any worse than walking halfway across the province. Country. Whatever.” Lydia made herself a little sandwich while she spoke. “I’ve killed dragons with you, this is nothing.” Bjorn yawned, then carefully grabbed whatever food he could without getting his arm clawed off, settling on a piece of toast. “Oh, you’ll wish we had a dragon to kill once you’ve had a couple hours of this. It’s either going to bore you into Oblivion or you’ll work your ass off for twelve hours only to find out that apparently that’s all for a half-Septim profit at the end of the day.” He looked over at Azhani, who stared back at him, her head tilted as she tried to breathe around a piece of bacon hanging from her mouth. “Though profit margins would probably look a lot better if one of us wasn’t getting everything she wants here for free.” Azhani swallowed her bacon, and her tail’s thrashing grew faster as her ears flattened against her head. She spoke between deep breaths. “At least… when I take something… there’s still… something left.” “Hah, true, and we both know what’d happen if you decided to take too much, right?” Bjorn continued quickly, ignoring Azhani digging her claws into the table. “Speaking of which, all that tea can’t be good for you, can it?” The little Khajiit looked surprised to hear the genuine concern in the Dragonborn’s voice. “Perhaps not… But it helps me when I’m… like this. Keeps me, ah… calm, and awake. Doesn’t help the pain, and I’m still… hot, but… it is the reason I am… still wearing pants and not currently, ah, jumping at the, eh… nearest male.” When Azhani noticed the strange looks she was getting from across the table, she added, “Um, not that… that means, uh… anyone in… in particular…” Then she turned her attention back to the plate in front of her, trying not to look at anything else. “Uh, alright, sure, if you say so. Just… don’t make it my problem.” Turning back to Lydia, the Dragonborn said, “As for you, you may be confident now, but we’ll see what sort of trouble you end up in later, won’t we?” “Wow, never would have guessed that that’s what this is about.” Lydia rolled her eyes and folded her arms with a smirk on her face. “You ought to know me better than to underestimate me like that. But don’t worry, I’ll be sure to put on a bit of a show for you if you really want one.” “Well, I’ll never turn down some good theater… but I have a feeling it’ll be more than just theatrics by the end of the day.” “We’ll see.” Lydia stood up and finished off what was left of her mead. “Should probably get started then, hm?” As the two Nords left the table, Azhani stood up as well. “I suppose I should just… head back to bed then, yes? Not a very good idea, I think, to… sit around in a bar right now. So, um… don’t, uh, don’t tell anyone I’m here if… if anyone comes looking, hm?” “Sure.” Bjorn nodded on his way over to the bar. “You want food or something brought up to you or…?” “No, I’ll be fine.” She gave a weak wave, then stopped on her way to the stairs and turned back around. “Or, no, uh… just bring up some tea every few hours, yes? But… leave it at the door, though.” “You got it.” To nobody’s surprise, the inn was fairly quiet for the first few hours after sunrise – the occasional regular had come in for breakfast, but that was about it. Lydia had gone up in the late morning to deliver Azhani’s tea, just to have something to do, and at her husband’s request had dropped off some of his old spellbooks as well. The Khajiit didn’t seem too enthusiastic about that during their brief conversation through the door, but expressed her sincere gratitude for the additional gift nonetheless. When Lydia returned downstairs, she again found something to do just to keep herself busy – she’d grabbed a broom and was wandering around aimlessly, pushing around some dirt from overnight while the Dragonborn wiped down the bar and the kitchen counters. “So,” Lydia called out after a few minutes of near-silence. “This is it, huh?” “What, already sick of it?” “Not as such, but I can definitely see what you were talking about earlier.” She shrugged and moved over to lean on the bar. “And I would definitely prefer to be back in action, you know?” Bjorn sighed but didn’t stop working. “Yeah, me too. You’ve seen for yourself I’m just about well enough for it by now, so in a week or two when the Argonians get back, we’ve got our armor, and I’ve got that package from Whiterun, we’ll be on our way. Don’t you worry about that.” “Oh, hey, I’ve actually been meaning to ask you about that package. It’s not the real thing, is it?” There was a brief pause while Bjorn stopped what he was doing and turned to look at Lydia with an intense gaze. “Absolutely authentic. Obviously, I took a pretty serious beating last time I fought Alduin. So I started thinking, if I’m going to do it again, I need every advantage I can get. Then it occurred to me… he’s not a dragon, he’s a god. And against a god, what advantage could be greater than one of Kagrenac’s Tools?” Lydia had taken a seat while the Dragonborn was talking. “Well, with scars like that I sure hope your plan works out. But-“ She leaned forward in her seat. “We’re going to Whiterun anyways, why not just stop and pick it up while we’re there?” “Experimentation, dear.” Bjorn walked out of the kitchen and laid a hand on the bar. “We both know the potential of that thing, and I’ve seen a bit of what it can do. But it’s weaker than the legends say it should be; it’s lost a lot of the magic it used to have. I want to know… is what’s left of it going to do anything to a dragon?” He sighed and shook is head. “I barely hurt Alduin at all last time, so it had better fucking be enough, but it was never meant to be used alone. Without Sunder and Wraithguard, I don’t know if it’ll live up to its reputation. I’d kill for something like Dawnbreaker, or Chrysamere, or Volendrung, anything. At least those I know work perfectly fine on their own.” “So basically you’re going to find yourself a dragon and poke it with a really, really, really old magical crystal-knife, and hope it does something?” Sure, there was a more professional way to phrase the question, but someone had to do something to lighten the mood. The little joke had worked, apparently, because the Dragonborn chuckled a bit before responding. “Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Still going on ahead even if it’s just as good as a regular dagger, of course, but I’d like to try it, at least.” “Well,” Lydia said, standing up again. “Never thought I’d say this, but let’s hope we get attacked by a dragon, then.” “Hah, yeah. Let’s pray for it.” Bjorn stepped back towards the kitchen, but stopped halfway there. “Hey, you want anything to drink? I could put on some coffee or more tea or something.” Lydia put a hand on her hip and raised an eyebrow, a little smirk on her face. “Well, you sure would like that, wouldn’t you?” “Hey, I’m only suggesting it ‘cause it’ll help you stay awake.” “Oh, yeah, of course. I’m sure there aren’t any side effects that you’d be interested in.” The sarcasm in her voice was excruciatingly obvious. “But, actually, yeah, I could do with some coffee. And since you wanted a show anyway…” Come lunchtime, the inn had become as busy as could be expected, and as usual populated almost exclusively by the handful of loyal customers that kept the place afloat. The coffee had started to catch up with Lydia, resulting in a tolerable feeling of fullness as she worked on finishing a generous helping of beer the Dragonborn had given her to go along with a meal. It was more than she’d normally drink at once, and she knew damn well why he’d seen fit to give her that much. Even so, she was content to finish it and was in no rush to do so – and Bjorn certainly wouldn’t be keen on moving things along too quickly either if it was a show he was after. Even now, he was looking over at her every so often while he told some other patron his war stories, though at the moment she was refusing to give him what he wanted. Instead, she was just sitting there, spun around in her seat so that she was leaning back against the bar while she listened to the Dragonborn’s stories and waited for something to do. The current tale was something about the College of Winterhold and something related to Magnus. Lydia hadn’t been there for it so she found it interesting, if a bit predictable considering what she’d seen of her husband. Her beer had run out by the time the dragon priest had entered Bjorn’s story, which meant that was a good enough time to get back to work. So she stood up, slid her mug across the counter to Bjorn so he could deal with it, and stretched. She couldn’t help but notice that he was watching, especially when she froze for a moment during her stretch as she disturbed something she shouldn’t have – but to his visible dismay she regained full control in an instant. He was keeping an eye on her as she walked around to his side of the bar, speaking quietly to him as she passed: “Putting on some more tea.” Then, sure enough, she went straight for the kitchen and the set of tea-making equipment that had been set aside that morning – normally an extra cheaper set, but considering Azhani’s request, they’d decided it would be better to have the second one available at all times. The Dragonborn did have to turn his attention back to the patrons to whom he was describing in excruciating detail the appearance of the Staff of Magnus once Lydia had passed him, so unfortunately could not see that she was standing a little stiffer than usual while she worked. And for her part, she was already starting to question why she’d figured a large beer was good idea when she still had hours to go. Filling the kettle and having to watch as it boiled wasn’t doing her much good, either. But still she remained strong, showing no signs of her state other than the subtle change in her posture of which only Bjorn would have been able to correctly identify the cause. Lydia was able to relax somewhat once everything had been properly prepared and loaded onto a tray, so she now stood more naturally, the only hint of her state being the slightest of distensions in her abdomen, concealed by her apron such that even Bjorn didn’t notice it when she walked by. Or, if he did, he made no indication of it – he just looked her in the eyes for a moment and subtly laid a hand on her rear, letting her walk off afterwards with no comment. Not like he needed to say anything anyways, considering her current problem was that she needed to climb stairs, a feat which he surely would have been more than content to watch in silence. Despite her outward confidence, Lydia did feel the need to stop just before the stairs and take a deep breath, shortly thereafter moving as quickly as the ever-growing weight between her legs would allow. Each step momentarily added more pressure, not enough to be critical, but enough to be quite uncomfortable and a rather ominous reminder that she’d have to make that trip several more times before the day was out. This time, she reached the top of the stairs without spilling a drop of either of the liquids she was carrying, though that certainly wouldn’t be true the next time. Best not to dwell on that for now though – Lydia moved directly for Azhani’s room once she’d finished her climb, just to be done with this errand as fast as possible. Knocking on the door, she said simply, “Tea’s here,” and was met with what sounded like a surprised response. “Wha- oh. Lydia? D-don’t, uh, don’t leave yet…” This was followed by the barely-audible sound of light feet on wood, and after a moment the door opened just wide enough that Azhani could see what was on the other side, and Lydia could only see a pair of eyes. “I need a favor. You can, uh… come in for… for a minute, if you want, or…” Lydia shrugged after a moment of thought. “Sure, why not?” Then the door swung open enough to walk through, and was closed again once Lydia had entered. She left the new tray of tea on the bedside table, and picked up the old one, turning around with it in hand. “So, what is it y- oh… uh, okay then.” Azhani was standing by the door wearing only her fur, with her twitching tail maneuvered to cover her most-sensitive parts, though she made no effort to cover the signs on her chest of her involuntary arousal. Her hair was loose and disheveled and the room itself was no better off, with the bed looking like it’d been ripped to shreds and clothes strewn about at random. Lydia carried on as if this were normal. “Uh, yeah, what do you need?” “Well, two things,” Azhani started, crouching down near the bed to drag a metal pot from beneath it and put a cover over it. She stood up with it in hand and extended her arms towards Lydia as if offering for her to take it. “Uh, I need this cleaned. Would, uh… prefer it back sooner than… than later, yes?” Lydia gave a quiet nod, holding out the tray so Azhani could leave her pot on it. Her bladder protested at the thought of what was in the pot, but remained firmly under control. “And I’d like these washed… if you don’t mind,” the Khajiit said as she picked a set of ragged clothes out of the debris around the room. “Not… terribly important, but… I usually wash them every day… when I’m like this, so that, uh… so they smell… normal.” Then they were handed over to Lydia, who just let them be draped over one of her arms, save for a more delicate article that went into the pocket on Lydia’s apron. “They don’t smell that bad,” she said. “Could just air them out and they’d be fine.” “No, trust me.” Azhani’s deep breathing seemed to quicken a bit and she was using both hands to emphatically gesture in Lydia’s direction. “If you were a Khajiit, you’d know. Eh… th-they need to be washed. Every day, until… uh, until this is over.” “Oh, yeah, right. Sure, I can do that.” Lydia subtly pressed her legs together as she stood. “I guess that’s why you’re holed up in here, isn’t it?” “Yes. I would like to be… able to go out for some air, but…” There was the sound of tea being poured in the background while Azhani spoke, causing Lydia to stand a little stiffer. “I would also like… to not have everyone… think I’m a slut. So I stay here.” “Fair enough. Is that it?” Azhani, who had moved to sit on the bed with her tail draped over her legs, just nodded and took a sip of her tea, then watched and Lydia left the room without another word and fumbled with the tray to close the door behind herself. The trek down the hall and back downstairs was far more tolerable this time than going up, but Lydia couldn’t help worrying about the prospect of having to repeat that journey even once. For now, it was just a matter of walking like a normal person long enough to ditch the now-spent tea set and get outside to deal with everything else Azhani wanted. She turned some heads during her walk, but most of them seemed to be more interested in the clattering of everything on the tray than Lydia herself; they’d look in her direction momentarily then get right back to what they were doing. Except the Dragonborn, of course, who had his eyes glued to her from the moment she entered his sight, no doubt trying to find in her something of special interest. He didn’t otherwise acknowledge her until she tried to get behind the counter, only to be met with a hand blocking her way. “How’re you holding up so far?” Bjorn spoke in a whisper, barely audible over the sounds of patrons enjoying their lunch break. “Don’t worry, you’ll get your show, but it’s not going to be that easy,” was the equally-silent response. “And hands off while I’m working, huh?” The rebuke was loud enough that those seated at the bar could have heard it if they cared, and it prompted the Dragonborn to withdraw a hand that had found its way to Lydia’s thigh. With no further obstruction, Lydia headed into the kitchen, setting down her tray and grabbing a brush and something that she was pretty sure was at least somewhat related to soap. Then she shuffled everything around to carry it more comfortably and picked up the pot whose contents she didn’t want to think about right now. Especially not with a constant pressure reminding her that her day wasn’t even half over yet. He’d be getting a show, alright. For now, though, Lydia went outside, forcing herself to walk straight and keep upright, headed for the nearest canal. But that was the easy part. Now she had to negotiate herself into sitting down in such a way that she could still do what she needed and not add any undue pressure. She worked slowly, eventually ending up on her knees with one foot strategically positioned to provide assistance if necessary. Lydia took a deep breath and looked around to make sure she didn’t have too much of an audience, then quickly got to work. First she took Azhani’s panties out and quickly looked them over – there was a still-damp patch caused by what was certainly not urine, but no other damage – then carefully leaned forwards to get them into the water and use her soap-like substance on them. She worked quickly but efficiently, retrieving them after a short while in a state that was probably the cleanest they had been in a decade. Then they were wrung out and set aside and Lydia took a moment to breathe deeply, glad that her body was no longer compressing itself where it shouldn’t have been and preparing herself to do it again. But then it was right back to business, giving the ragged shirt and pants the same treatment – though what they really needed was a needle and thread – before all the clothes ended up in a neat pile just slightly off to Lydia’s side. Then her gaze turned to the little iron pot. Then back to the canal, then the pot again, and back and forth like that for a while before settling on the canal again. Lydia dipped a hand in to confirm that the current would be satisfactory, then resigned herself to the necessity of the task at hand. She refused to look at and tried not to listen to what she was doing as the picked up the pot, put the lid aside, and dumped the contents into the canal – everyone threw their trash into these things anyways – and waited for a couple of minutes once it was emptied. She’d ground herself into the foot she was sitting on in the meantime. Another sigh was followed by Lydia reluctantly picking up the pot, brush, and probably-soap, giving the inside of the pot a decent lining of fatty cleaning-substance, then submerging the pot and vigorously assaulting it with the brush. She’d noticed about halfway through that a spot of unwanted warmth had appeared, coincidentally right around the part of her that her foot was pressing into, but forced herself to ignore it for the time being. Just clean the damn thing. Once she had finished, Lydia hastily organized everything she’d brought and stood up quickly – perhaps a little too much so, as she felt a little more warmth where she really didn’t want it, but still she pressed on, forcing herself to continue looking normal for just a bit longer. She hurried back into the bar, glancing at Bjorn just long enough to notice the dumb little smirk on his face, still keeping things together, if just barely so. This time she didn’t stop to consider the stairs, heading directly to the top at the expense of what little dry space was left in her underwear. Lydia moved quickly to Azhani’s room, gave a simple knock, and when the door opened she simply thrust everything in her hands over to the still-bare Khajiit and left before either could say anything. The trip back downstairs had surely left a mark on Lydia’s pants, though she didn’t dare check and didn’t much care anyways since the apron she’d been wearing would cover it for now. And against all logic and reason, she headed for the bar, leaning against it near an empty seat with her legs firmly crossed. Sure enough, the Dragonborn came over, taking a moment to silently observe her with his arms crossed and that grin still plastered on his face. Eventually, he spoke: “Well, now we’re at the fun part,” he said. “Isn’t that great?” “Perfect,” was the growled response that only elicited a laugh from across the bar. “Hey, if I wanted to hear a Khajiit get mad at me, I’d go talk to Azhani.” He chuckled again and Lydia’s face turned red. “Anyways,” Bjorn continued, “how about some of this, huh? Gotta stay hydrated.” He’d procured a bottle of beer from under the counter and was giving it a little shake. Lydia narrowed her eyes at him, knowing perfectly well what he was really trying to get at. But she hardly had a choice, since she actually was rather thirsty and couldn’t exactly ignore that. So one hand disappeared beneath her apron and the other was held up above the bar with her thumb and forefinger positioned to indicate she wouldn’t be drinking much. So Bjorn pulled out two mugs, filled one a quarter of the way, and poured the rest of the beer into the other one. Lydia grabbed the less-filled one and Bjorn raised the other in a sort of toast before immediately downing half of it. “I’m liking the show so far,” he said. “Not much longer until it gets really good, huh?” “For you, perhaps.” Lydia drank slowly, taking unusually-small sips. The hand under her apron strengthened its grip. “Well, you’re playing along just fine. You’ve had lots of opportunities to sort yourself out so far, and you ignored ‘em. Very nice.” “How do you know that? Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I’m just pretending.” “You’re sweating.” “I’ve been running up and down stairs all day.” “You’ve won plenty of fights without breaking a sweat, what’s a few stairs?” “Well, then it’s warm in here and these aren’t thin clothes.” “It’s about the same temperature in here it was this morning, and you were fine then.” “Alright. What if it’s a bad time for me and I’m just acting to get you off my back?” “Unless something changed in the last few hours, you’re doing just fine. And, uh, you’d have to be about two weeks early for that to be true anyways.” Lydia stared at the Dragonborn with a concerned look. “Okay, I’m a bit worried that you already know that, to be completely honest.” “I’ll pretend I don’t, then.” The response was followed by him finishing the rest of his beer. “But I definitely know how to tell when someone’s acting, and you’re not.” “Can you really be sure I haven’t just learned what you’re looking for?” She bent ever so slightly at the knees. “Yes, because there’s quite a bit you’d never be able to do intentionally. Not convincingly, anyways.” Bjorn put a hand to his chin for a moment, then brought it away to point at various parts of Lydia. “That look in your eyes, the way you’re breathing, what that arm’s doing, that thing your feet are doing. And you can’t fake a bulge like that. In fact,” he said, his eyes scanning her whole body, “you’re hiding it well, but you’re already wet.” Lydia looked at him with an eyebrow raised while her legs tied themselves together even tighter. “Is that so,” she said, leaning forward and directing her gaze a bit downwards. “Or is that just what he wants you to think?” “Oh come now,” the Dragonborn responded, adjusting his position. “You know it’s true, what do you really have to gain from pretending otherwise?” “Fine, fine, you’re right.” Lydia wiggled around a bit. “But it’s not over yet.” “Of course it isn’t. But tell you what, I’ll be merciful. I’ll deal with Azhani, and you can take care of whoever’s got a table. That sound good to you?” The response was a quiet groan. “You don’t think I actually believe that’d be easier, do you? But fine, sure, whatever. Enjoy the view.” Then she wrenched her hand out from between her legs and walked off awkwardly towards the dining room proper. Lydia managed to survive an hour of clearing tables and taking orders without any major complications – aside from most definitely not having proper posture and moving far more slowly and carefully than could be considered normal. Bjorn had decided to deal with the cooking himself, so Lydia spent a good deal of time leaning forward against the bar with her legs crossed, relaying crudely-scrawled orders and giving a clear view down her shirt. Then it was just a matter of tossing stuff onto a tray and brining it where it was meant to go – being careful, of course, to not drop or spill anything. The ever-constant, ever-growing pressure wasn’t helping. Lydia had to either subject herself to bending forward somewhat or doing a bit of an awkward curtsy to be able to put the trays down, which almost certainly would have announced to everyone that something was wrong. So she took the momentary increase in pressure, still trying to look normal. Fortunately, the lunch rush – or whatever could be called a rush by the Bee and Barb’s standards – was starting to die down, but it was alone in this. Lydia’s legs were sealed together whenever she was standing still, one of them constantly shaking or a foot incessantly tapping while she devoted all her energy to not using her hands while people were still around. By some miracle, that wet patch of hers had been cold for quite some time, despite her body’s best attempts to change that. She could only hope that it was just Bjorn and nobody else that knew about her internal war, though she’d been attracting strange looks for a while now. These customers had to know something was wrong, even if they’d not said anything. And if she thought people were looking at her before, they’d certainly be staring now. There she was, with a tray in her hands, shuffling across the floor to bring it to whoever’d asked for it, when she stopped suddenly and bent slightly at the knees. The warmth had returned in force, and this time Lydia could feel it trailing down the inside of one leg. So, having failed to come up with any better ideas in the quarter of a second it took for that event to register in her mind, she dropped into a sort of kneeling position, the dishes she was carrying clattering as she did so. Lydia set the tray down on the floor in front of her, quickly deciding to push some silverware off of it as well, then – hopefully subtly – shoved one hand beneath her apron and into her pants, squeezing herself hard enough to stop the stream. After a moment, she lightened her grip, only to be met with a quick burst of warmth, though nothing more. So she withdrew her hand and wiped it off on her apron, using the other to collect what she’d dropped in an effort to look like that had been what happened there. It seemed to work well enough, as when everything was organized again and she stood back up, most people who she was certain had turned to look at her were either no longer doing so, or were some of the handful of people looking at her with concern. These people turned away once Lydia made eye contact with them, though, and she moved as quickly as she could to deliver the damn food. The tray was practically dropped on the table, and Lydia hurriedly wiped down all the silverware with a clean cloth she’d pulled out of one of her pockets to reassure the customers that it was fine to use – which they were apparently satisfied with, so she immediately went back to the bar. She laid two hands on it and simply stood there doing a little march until Bjorn came over to her. “Just about done, huh?” His question was met with no verbal response, only a glare that would have looked more threatening if Lydia weren’t clearly on the verge of tears. “I mean, look at you, you can hardly walk anymore. There’s no way you’re getting upstairs or anything at this point, so I’d be more than happy to help you here.” “Not… yet…” Lydia spoke through her teeth. “Suit yourself. I’m not about to pretend I don’t like this, but just don’t push yourself too hard, okay? Neither of us are going to like it if you get hurt." “I know what I’m doing.” With that, Lydia forced herself to stand as upright as possible and walk back to the dining room to clean up. Her legs got themselves twisted in some convoluted knot and she’d bounce every time she stood still to get something off a table, but still she kept fighting until one table had a mass of dishes piled on top of it. The warmth had expanded in the time it took to do that, but only slightly. Lydia was still in control, for now. Perhaps in retrospect it hadn’t been such a great idea to make one stack of everything she had to carry back to the kitchen. She didn’t intend to use her hands anyways, but once she picked that up to bring it back, she wouldn’t even have the option. The occasional leaks had stopped though, so if she was fast enough… Lydia took a deep breath and grabbed the dish-tower, stumbling a bit as it tried to demolish itself, but soon enough that too was under control. So she turned around and, with her legs as close together as physically possible, she slowly worked her way back to the kitchen. The handful of people that were still around were definitely giving her weird looks, but Lydia didn’t much care. She was already trying to focus on walking and not becoming even more wet, so her attention was divided enough. She managed to get behind the bar without much of an issue, and though the Dragonborn gave her a concerned look he quickly turned back to the group sitting across from him without saying anything. But with her next step, Lydia froze. A massive jet of warmth had added itself to the wetness down her legs, and she could swear she heard some hit the floor. She knew the rest of the flood wasn’t far behind, and rushed to the nearest kitchen counter. The dishes were slammed onto the countertop and Lydia moved just as quickly to the Dragonborn, grabbing him by the shoulder and turning him around to face her with far more force than either of them expected. “Do something,” she hissed. Bjorn just nodded in response, subtly indicating with one hand for her to get down. So she sat on the floor, back against the bar, hoping nobody would notice or pay her much mind. And while she waited for something to happen, she wiggled her way out of her pants, pulling them down just far enough that her apron would cover what was exposed, and then shoved both hands between her legs. Bjorn, meanwhile, was in the middle of distracting everyone. “Hey, who wants a free round of beer, huh?” He held his arms out at his sides and yelled loud enough for the whole place to hear. And, of course, everyone came running over to him. The Dragonborn cautiously looked over at Lydia, who was glaring up at him with a look that demanded to know what he thought he was doing. But then she broke eye contact suddenly when she felt her hands get wet. When a decent crowd gathered at the bar, Bjorn turned around, heading quickly to the kitchen to collect an armful of mugs, including a few particularly-tall ones. He seemed to trip on his way back, causing one of the taller mugs to fall to the floor while he juggled and ultimately lost a second normal one. The shorter mug had coincidentally been tossed to land near where Lydia was sitting, and with the Dragonborn’s next step the taller one was kicked over in that direction as well. Lydia grabbed the tall one with one hand, adjusting herself so it was underneath her, though her other hand hadn’t been removed just yet. Bjorn had haphazardly dropped the rest of the mugs on the counter, letting everyone there grab one for themselves while he pulled a few bottles out from below. They were each opened in quick succession and he wasted no time in giving everyone a generous helping. Lydia, of course, both understood this to be her opportunity and was out of time anyways. One last jet of her waters had been released into her hand, and continued to trickle through her fingers. As soon as the hand was removed, she gave in entirely, biting down on a dry part of her free arm so as to not make more noise than she already was. So for a little while Lydia took long, slow breaths with her eyes closed, only opening them in a panic once she realized she could feel liquid running down the sides of her mug. Trying to force herself to stop, she only found that she couldn’t, so picked up the other mug she had with her free hand, quickly swapping the two – though this of course didn’t last very long either, and once it overflowed too Lydia resigned herself to moving into a bit of a low squat. There would be a pretty sizable puddle on the floor either way, and this way no further dishes would be ruined. The only problem was that her auditory cover had gone by the time the first mug filled, as the Dragonborn had run out of drinks to fill. Lydia could vaguely hear him hastily composing some story or another, likely in an attempt to talk over her stream and still-expanding lake on the floor once he’d noticed that he could hear it. She looked up at him in time to see him shoot her another glance and sneak his hand under the counter, procuring a rag and tossing it in her general direction. She looked at it for a moment, then picked it up and set it on her lap to keep it from getting wet earlier than intended. By then, her stream had slowed considerably and she failed to suppress a sigh as it turned to a trickle and eventually stopped. Another few deep breaths to collect herself, and she looked up at Bjorn again – the crowd seemed to be under control, so she let herself rise just enough to properly move over and remove the pants she’d destroyed, still trying to remain below the bar so as to not be seen. Lydia had to admit, it was a fairly impressive puddle. Some of it was being lost between the poorly-constructed floorboards, but even so it was expansive enough that the Dragonborn had moved over a little from his original position to keep his shoes clean. She looked at the rag in her hand and decided it was definitely not going to be enough, so she shoved it through the string of her apron, letting it hang from the back and hopefully hide the fact that she was half-naked. Then she stood up entirely and grabbed a bottle of cheap something-or-other from under the bar, casually dropping it to the ground and watching it break. And when everyone looked over at her, she simply started to back into the kitchen, saying, “I’ll take care of that.” She came back with a mop and a broom, first sweeping all the glass shards into a neat pile, then getting to work on the puddle that was clearly too big to have been made by only what was in that bottle – though nobody had questioned her on it. The Dragonborn had walked off just before she started cleaning, then came back a few minutes later and quietly laid a clean pair of pants on a counter in the kitchen. He then moved much less discreetly over to Lydia, wrapping his arms tightly around her from behind and leaning in to whisper to her: “Still plenty of time left ‘til nightfall, you know.”
  13. Well, yeah, books with chapters tend to identify what each chapter is, but the general rule when you're posting a story in a forum thread is that each post ought to be considered its own chapter. That, and no serious novel will interrupt the text to tell you that a chapter is over - you can see that for yourself because the chapter physically stops. Best way to replicate that on forums? End the post and come back to the thread later with a new post for a new chapter, or if one post includes several small chapters, have some unobtrusive physical indicator like a line or large gap so that you have an indication that there's meant to be a significant break there. That way you're not pulled out of the story by being told outright that it's a break.
  14. Please don't do this. It's incredibly jarring to be ripped out of a story because you felt the need to tell us where a chapter begins and ends. If you absolutely must clearly divide parts of the story, use lines of some sort. Word automatically converts "---" into a very useful dividing line, for instance. If you absolutely must have author's notes, like you've done here, then you would want to find some way to clearly mark where the story starts and ends. But you absolutely don't have to nor do you want to do it in the middle of the story.
  15. Criticism doesn't require permission... ... nor does it mean the critic is automatically trying to imply the work is terrible. Surprisingly, people other than professionals are capable of improving. And indeed, the relative lack of content of this particular type - especially good content - means constructive criticism is even more valuable than it otherwise would be. It means good content stands out more than average or mediocre content and ultimately gets more attention. The story posted in this thread is decidedly average. And that's fine, because advice on how to improve was already provided. And that's great, but ultimately it doesn't accomplish anything. It's not really helpful. Sure, it might end up in more content being produced, but that's not necessarily a good thing unless quality actively improves over time. Quality over quantity, every time. More than that, though, if the writer has an issue with people giving criticism, they can come out themselves and explain why they don't like the criticism that's being given. They don't need you running around being their white knight. Because you know what? If you're gonna put something out for other people to see, you already know it's going to be criticized whether you want it to be or not, and what makes your work art is the ability to take that criticism and improve. And if you're not going to do that, then it's really not worth anyone else's time to bother with what you put out if it's never going to get any better, which ultimately just wastes your time too because you're putting stuff out nobody has an interest in. Anybody who actually has an interest in writing and actually wants to share more will take and use constructive criticism. That's how art works.