I want to take this opportunity to warn you by saying that this chapter contains sex. No, not the “oh crap, I walked in on Dorian shagging” kind of sex scene that was in Mirrorfall, but a real sex scene. It’s not pr0n-y, but it is adult content, so I felt it was worth putting up this little warning.
If it’s not your thing, or if you blush yourself dizzy while reading sex scenes (kind of like I did when writing it), just read the italicized parts in between, and the section at the end, because…well, it’s totally worth it, and you are going to pull an O_O face. ^_^.
Madhe smiled at the young man at the foot of her bed as she slowly disrobed herself and effortlessly climbed into the bed, allowing herself to float over the sheets before settling herself against the pillows. She lifted one slight finger and beckoned to the story thief, who eagerly climbed into the old bed, ancient wood creaking as he approached her.
The bed was old, older than most of the beings in Madchester, and she so wished that it could speak – it was a bed that had held kings, queens, their mistresses and indiscretions of all kinds. It was a bed that held their stories captive, and made not one movement to share them. It was a bed whose wood resonated deeply whenever love was made upon it.
The thief quickly pulled off his loose shirt, his skin shifting in colour several times, his hair growing and retreating with each visage that slipped over his form.
‘My queen,’ he whispered, as he kissed his way up her chest, onto her neck, and finally kissed her waiting mouth. It was pleasurable, but not the kind of pleasure she was seeking from him. He held her head gently, fingers slipping through her curled hair, trying to make contact with her mind.
He kissed her again, and she let down her defenses. There was a moment, then everything around her evaporated, replaced with-
He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, out of boredom, out of habit, as a way to distract himself. He couldn’t put the radio on, and there was no point in accessing any files, or doing any leftover paperwork – there would never be a need to do those things again. Paperwork was something for agents to do, and by night’s end, he wasn’t going to be an agent anymore – he didn’t even know if he’d be alive anymore.
He doubted they would kill him though, Madchester was not one of the violent courts, and as big as the favor he was going to beg of them, he was willing to bet that there was some other use they could find for him, rather than simply taking his life as payment.
In any event, he didn’t want anything more than the tiniest of distractions, he didn’t want to miss any signs that they knew he was coming. He knew that they had to enter a court humble – that was the rule, that was the wording, but the meaning varied wildly, and was so open to interpretation to be farcical. There was one standard element of it – no weapons, it showed fealty, it showed corporation – it was a sign that you meant no harm.
Driving from Bath to Manchester was probably too much, they would have no way of knowing – rather, they probably had no way of knowing, but Madhe’s reach was further than most would guess, so he had decided to drive. At the least, it gave him time to realize the gravity of what he was doing.
His passenger gave a soft cry and turned over, and he heard the familiar sound of the blanket slipping off. A quick thought shifted it from the backseat floor, and back over her – keeping her warm, despite the heater already working heating the car to the point where he’d taken his lab coat off.
At least she was asleep – it was a small mercy, it was the only mercy he’d been granted lately. Sleep was good for her, it was better than staring at the seat, examining the fibers with a broken mind. It was better than screaming, reliving torture with no escape but sedation.
It was better than her crying and telling him how much he hated her.
He pressed a foot to the floor, urging the car on a little faster. The city was still a long way away, and that only got them to Manchester, finding an entrance to Madchester was another story entirely. There were always a few open entrances, but he guessed that their borders were quite a bit more difficult for an agent to cross than, say, an inebriated, wayward fae.
The thief broke away for a moment, his form slipping and sliding so much that she watched a dozen different pairs of eyes stare down at her before he regained control of himself enough to control. One hand still touching her head, the connection to her mind there, he turned his attention to her chest, the diamond-shaped scar on her left breast seeming to fascinate him.
‘There’s more,’ she whispered as he suckled at the flesh, ‘I know you took more from him.’
He lifted his head and looked down at her through a fringe that faded from purple to silver. ‘I can’t give it to you all at once, my queen, it’s hard to do.’
‘Give me more,’ she pleaded. Here, in the ancient bed, in a room that followed her commands with a mere thought, being pleasured by an indentured servant, she felt safe enough to beg. It was an honour for him to be invited to her bed, and he was getting far more out of the experience than she, so there was no need for him to draw out the experience.
‘As you command,’ he said, and again, the world faded to white.
‘Tate?’ a small voice said. ‘It’s dark.’
‘It’s night,’ he said as he spared a look back at her. ‘Try to sleep, love.’
There was a pause. ‘Are we in a car?’
‘We’re going to see some people that might be able to help.’
There was a pause. ‘I need to go back to sleep.’
He flipped the indicator and pulled over to the side of the road – he stepped out of the car and opened the back door. Eda had sat and had wrapped the blankets around herself. He was glad of the little light, glad to he didn’t have to look at her injuries, all of the scars, her bound eye, the pieces missing from her-
‘Where,’ she asked, her head lolling from side to side, ‘are we?’
‘It doesn’t matter.’ He opened a small black case and pulled out the strong sedative. ‘Nightmares?’
‘Memories,’ she corrected, her tone suddenly harsh. ‘Memories of what they did to me.’ She stared deeply into his eyes as he gave her the shot, her once beautiful red hair lank against her head. ‘I want to kiss you,’ she admitted, ‘and forgive you, but I hate you too much.’
‘I’m not asking for your forgiveness, Eda,’ he said as he closed the case, ‘I don’t deserve it.’
She went to reply, but the light faded from her eyes and she slumped. He gently caught her and laid her back down on the seat. For a moment, he laid with her, wishing that things were how they had been before she’d been taken by Solstice.
He gave her a kiss on the forehead, then climbed back into the driver’s seat and drove on through the night.
He was thrusting in her now, but the intimacy of having him inside of her was nothing in comparison to sharing the memory, of being truly inside him, experiencing the stolen memory – first-hand and second-hand at the same time. ‘I…’ she said, ‘sleep with your kind for one reason,’ she said as he moved in her.
‘Please my queen,’ he said, staring at her with tortoiseshell eyes, ‘I can pleasure you in more than one way.’ He pulled out and knelt beside her on the bed, his thin legs shivering in the chill. ‘What can I do for you?’
She pulled him to her, resting his head on her bosom. One of his hands lay limp beside her torso, the other idly stroked her stomach. ‘I need this to be over quickly,’ she said, ‘there is Court tonight.’
He nodded, a slight sadness in his yellow eyes. ‘As you wish, my queen. Anything you wish.’ His fingers brushed through her curls, and she felt the memory wash over her as his fingers explored her.
He pulled the car to a stop at the entrance to a park. Entrances to Madchester were all over, appearing and disappearing at will – Madhe’s will – they were in ordinary homes, holes in the wall, a jump through a broken brick wall, or down in a basement. One element stayed consistent though – there were always open entrances in parks.
No one knew why – it could have been that the fae liked to roam green areas at night, and it was easier to be seen by humans in open areas, easier to pull in their kindred, or lure away children.
Though he loathed to leave Eda behind, he pressed the button on the key to lock the car and walked into the park. There were a few lights, but he chose not to rely on them – he was an agent, he didn’t need to rely on them.
They did, however, cast useful shadows though, and attract a certain kind of person.
A Cera stood beneath the light, staring up at it as though it were a tiny fluorescent god.
He didn’t fear the Cera – they were peaceful by nature – peaceful to a fault. ‘Hello,’ he said as he approached the creature.
The Cera continued to stare at the light, at least, until he required it to dim. A second thought brought about a neon globe, gently rotating, an array of colours shining off into the night and pulling the creature from its quiet state.
‘That’s…man…that’sa tiny world right there…so beautiful…’
‘I need to find Madchester.’
The Cera shook a hand at the globe as the United Kingdom rotated past. ‘It’s there…where we are.’
‘I need to find an entrance.’
‘Oooh…sure…it’s over there,’ he said, shaking the same hand in the the direction of the slight rise in the park. The nominal hill was marked by nothing more than a trash can. He sniffed the air – there was a definite smell of fae in the air, not just the Cera, but a great number. He, however, chose to ignore the scent of hotdogs.
It was an entrance, he was sure of it. He left the Cera and the slowly turning globe, and walked quickly back to the car and its drugged occupant.
He lifted Eda from the car and carried her up the hill – it was easier than when he’d carried her over the the threshold of the room she’d rented for them to stay at when they’d wanted to be away from the Agency. It had been in Paris, cost a few hundred pounds a night, and was scarcely used one day a week, but it had been theirs. It had been a play at normality, and one they’d both treasured.
When they reached the top of the hill, a staircase into the ground had appeared. An entrance to Madchester. It was why he was there, but all the same, it frightened him. What he was doing wasn’t “duty first” – at least not duty to the Agency, it wasn’t obeying the rules and was forgoing his loyalty to the Agency for his loyalty to his lover.
He held onto Eda tightly and descended the staircase.
Waves of pleasure wracked her body as she arched against his fingers. She gripped the ripped silken sheet and groaned as the orgasm passed. She lay back, her breath as careful and measured as it had been the entire time – she had no need to gasp, no need to scream. Sex wasn’t about the noise, it was about the sensation.
The fingers withdrew. ‘I trust you are pleased, my lady,’ he asked, his appearance stable for a moment.
‘Your turn,’ she breathed.
He rose, filling her field of vision. ‘Yes, my Queen.’
She touched a hand to his face. ‘Be the one whose memory this is.’
He gave a nod, and his appearance shifted again. He dipped his head and kissed her again.
Torches and gas lamps lit the way, punctuated with disco balls and LED displays. He’d prepared himself for this on the drive, and in the preceding days while making his decision.
All manner of fae scrambled through the darkness, following him, guiding him and giggling at him, but not – he noted – impeding his path. It was though they had been expecting him. He’d given no notice, no hint that he’d been planning to run, no sign that he’d been perusing Madchester for anything other than professional reasons.
Two courtiers flanked silently him – and he walked into a large room. Large windows showed nothing but brick beyond, there was a chandelier of broken crystal above them, and stained white tiles beneath them.
‘I hope you have come humble,’ said a resonating voice.
The Queen walked out, wearing a green miniskirt and an expensive blouse. She wore a tiara, and it slanted over her forehead, smearing the pastel makeup. Birds had been drawn on her cheeks and feathers tied to a leather chain spiraled down both of her arms.
‘I know who you are. Have you come humble?’
He bowed as best as he could while holding Eda. ‘I am not armed, and no one knows where I am.’
‘Well enough,’ she said as she took her throne. She swung her long legs over the side and stared at him with eyes much older than his own. ‘So what brings an agent here?’
‘I need your help.’
He was inside of her again, giving her everything he had – or more, snatches of unconnected memories flowed into her mind along with foreign sensations. He pushed down on her shoulders and drove himself in deeper.
‘Slow down,’ she said, ‘this isn’t a race. Not this moment.’
He sucked in a deep breath. ‘Yes, my queen.’
Madhe had emptied the Court, and he was alone with her. Eda was asleep to the side, on a daybed a few of her courtiers had brought in for her comfort.
‘You do know this will change things.’
‘I know how the thieves work, I am not an idiot, ma’am.’
‘And you can handle the responsibility?’
‘If I’m still living, I will find a way to deal with it.’
She poured him some blue wine, white sparkles swam in it as he lifted the glass. ‘How did it happen?’ she asked as she sipped at her own.
He looked down at his scrawny body. ‘I’m…a technical agent, she’s a field recruit. I took an assignment – it’s my prerogative to do so if I wish, so long as the risk factor was less than five, which it was. Which we thought it was,’ he said as he looked away. ‘They dropped a blackout bomb, I panicked. They shot me. I had a chest full of buckshot. I’d never been shot before. I ran. I had to. I couldn’t repair myself, the damage was too bad.’
‘You left her.’
‘If I could change that, I would.’
‘You can if you want, you don’t have to go to the lengths you are proposing.’
‘By the time it cleared, they’d taken her. By…the time we’d gotten her back, s-sh-she…’ He took a gulp of the blue wine. ‘They had tortured her, Queen Madhe. Everything. Anything. For information, for pleasure. They’d broken her. Destroyed her. She’s been sedated ever since. We can’t repair some of the physical damage, let alone begin to touch her mind.’
‘I see. But why not just prevent yourself from going on that mission? That would change everything. You don’t have to prevent yourself from recruiting her. Why…why would you that?’
‘I destroyed her life. I want to erase that. I don’t want to take the chance of hurting her again. You can do whatever you wish to me, I just want her to get a second chance.’
‘She may make the same decisions.’
‘A second chance, far, far away from here, and a new name.’
‘Indentured till the end of time if that’s what you want. I have no loyalty to the Agency, only to her. This is the duty I must do. No other means as much to me.’
‘No second chance is a guarantee.’
He looked to Eda. ‘It is better than this.’
She nodded. ‘I will have to take your memory as well – I cannot chance you ruining this for her, not even out of love.’
He bit his lip. ‘I accept, provided you grant me the time to say goodbye.’
‘Of course, I am mad, not monster.’
‘And of me?’
‘I can always use another goblin.’
The thief collapsed onto her, his energy expended. Unceremoniously, he rolled off of her and curled up beside her, facing away. She ran a kind hand through his hair and smiled.
There was a knock at her door. ‘Come,’ she said with a grin. The heavy door was pushed open.
‘You wanted to see me, Madhe?’ Tian said, noticeably keeping his eyes off her naked form.
She shook her head. ‘It’s nothing Tian, just come to Court tonight.’
‘I always do, my Queen,’ he said, confusion apparent in his voice. ‘If you’ll excuse me.’
He pulled the door closed and she smiled. ‘See you at Court, Agent Tate.’