Sealed with a Kiss
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The fate of the elven civilization hangs in the balance, and half-elf, half-human Tristan is determined to save his people from the clutches of the tyrant Duke Gamble. But when he's paired with the beautiful and spirited elven leader, Cecelia, their journey becomes even more challenging. As they face danger at every turn, Cecelia's playful teasing begins to distract Tristan from their mission. But when their flirtations cause them to miss a critical opportunity, the stakes become even higher. Can they set aside their playful antics and focus on the task at hand, or will their attraction to each other cost them everything? Join Tristan and Cecelia on an epic adventure that will leave you breathless. This is a high-stakes fantasy romance that you won't be able to put down!
They arrive at the capital city Reaga via the travel ring. Cecelia detested relying on other mages for magical travel, or if she wanted to be honest, she just hated relying on others, period. Allowing the irritation, she felt emote enough to be felt by those around her, visible even in her full adventuring garb that consisting of sweeping Enchanter’s robes of white fabric layered with enchantments. The collar swept up, flaring around her face which was further concealed by the Lemusian scarf of such a purplish blue it was nearly black. She had tight sleeves over her gloved hands and a massive, pointed hat. The overall effect wasn’t necessarily intimidating (at least not until she started casting) but worked to knock others off balance, especially since the hat helped boost her height to well over seven feet. The sleek black cat draped over her shoulders could be mistaken for fur throw, except for the alert green eyes and flicking barbed tail.
Tristan looked far more approachable. Nearly as gaunt looking like his companion, and if not standing next to her, impressively tall, but almost enchantingly handsome. Long silver hair was loose around his face, the fine bone structure of his face peeking through and accentuated by the lightly pointed ears that had the casual observer guess him for an exceptionally pale Half Elf. Dark lensed glasses concealed eyes that were solid color, pitch black, that had others guessing he was a Succubus, the disparate race that had a demonic heritage to unusual physical effect. His clothing was also appealing, perfectly tailored embroidered jacket in silver and black, fitted trousers tucked into glossy leather boots that, upon close inspection, had delicate filigree tooled onto the surface. The both of them together were a study in contrasts of push and pull. And Cecelia was all push, with her constant lithe spell causing subtle effects like shadows extending from her to make people near her subconsciously step back.
Stepping out in tune from years of traveling together, they case the room without appearing to do so and move in tandem to the processing office. They drop countless bribes to bypass registration. The clerk seemed none too interested in antagonizing them, especially since they seemed to fit in with the general populace. The clerk looked like they had already forgotten about them after tucking away the small pouch of gold that was tossed their way. After all, these people were certainly no Knights who were looking to cause trouble.
Once outside, Cecelia paused, tipping her head back to examine the buildings towering around them. They were all sharp angles, steep roofs with textured patterns that gave the overall impression of looming coldness. As much as she loved her childhood home of a small cottage in the woods, she couldn’t help but grimly approve of the overall aesthetic. It harmonized a disturbing amount with her look. Something to think about, considering this city openly dealt with Imps.
“This place reeks of sulphur.”
“Oh, as if they’re summoning demons on the streets. It’s your imagination. Or more likely, it is sulfur. We are in a building of magic users. It’s a common enough component”
“You simply must crush my spirits; how can you live with yourself when you treat me so cruelly?”
Tristan waited patiently for a moment, then tapped her arm. She nodded, and they both started walking swiftly, making a few turns down some alleys. Without breaking stride, they uncapped and drank their potions of invisibility. It was no guarantee that they weren’t being followed. After all, Cecelia had instilled in herself the ability to see invisible well over a decade before. But there were a few other tricks they had, and the next one was for them to approach a dead end and, taking Cecelia’s hands, Tristan flew them straight over, landing almost soundlessly in the next alley. A few more times of this and the potions have worn off.
Tristan started slowing his pace, looking for something. After a bit he nods, walks up to the back-alley door of a small shop that seemed to sell one of everything, and reached into an alcove after shoving aside a small crate that concealed it. He pulls out a couple of small packages, along with a note. Scanning it quickly, he looks at the packages, lip quirking. He passes along the package titled “Mudling” as well as the note that says “Silver Drake Inn, Mossgrove.” “T.”
“Smells like Tara!”
“Yes, I gathered it was her from the T.”
“Cruel! You go a few days without rolling around with Tristan and you turn mean!”. Cecelia turns her head slightly towards her familiar, meeting her eye. “Meaner, then.” She amended. They both snort and Tristan raises a brow but doesn’t ask. Tristan’s long used to being outside the constant conversations going on between them, although it seems he notices it more now than he used to. He wonders if it’s because he’s paying more attention to her, or if she’s more open about it. He watches as she tips her head in thought.
“Mossgrove is one of the districts, yes?” He nods in agreement.
“I know it and have seen that inn before.” He smiles and continues. “I’m thinkin’ even you will be thrilled.” Tristan shouldn’t be able to see Cecelia’s skeptical expression of how covered up she is, but years of traveling together along with her way of moving makes it clear as day. His mouth forms into a full grin at that, exposing his fangs fully. “Just wait and see.”
He leads them onto the primary thoroughfare and hails a carriage in a short time. Or perhaps not, with the both of them being so visible, and he at least looking quite fine in his clean-cut garments. With a charming smile, he opens the carriage door and offers his hand. She pauses a moment, then rests her hand on his as he helps her step up into the carriage. Being the height she is, stepping up isn’t something she would give thought to, but he seems to be in an oddly formal mood. Maybe it’s being back in the capital city of Tosmond. She knew he had lived here along with Tara, doing what they could to foment unrest in the demonic influenced system that currently ran the city.
She looked out the window as they traveled, marking their route and picking out buildings so she would have an anchor for teleportation that didn’t involve being trapped in a building. She kept part of her attention on Tristan and on Mithrila’s running commentary as she sniffed the entire carriage, including stepping over Tristan to get a better look out his window. He absentmindedly ran his hand over Mithrila’s back in long strokes.
“Ugh, but he’s so good at it!”
“I know. It’s distracting me.” Her familiar response was to make herself more comfortable in his lap. The Dhampir continued to pet the lounging beast, who had started up purring. His hand was firm over her fur and muscles, digging in deliciously to the areas with denser fur. Blinking, Cecelia snapped her attention back to her surroundings and tried to block out the wonderful sensations.
“You need to practice with distancing yourself.” She clenches her jaw in response.
* * *
It’s not too much longer before they pull up to the curb and disembark, much to her relief. Mithrila leaps onto her shoulder as she steps down from the carriage, accepting Tristan’s hand again as she does so.
“You’re a bitch at times, you know that?” She feels Mithrila’s claws knead her shoulder contentedly as Tristan pays the driver.
“You’re thinking female dogs. Female cats are Queens.” Blinking smugly at Cecelia’s wash of amusement, they both take in the building they’re standing in front of.
It is impressive, as it turns out. There are multiple entrances of varying sizes, and the entire facade is a riotous blend of various hardwoods and brass. Over the entrances is a sculpture of a dragon made from brass tubing, studded with rivets. The style reminds her of something, and she analyzes it.
“It’s like an alchemy still.” She feels Tristan move up near her by the slight chill in the air.
“The manager is a Gnome.”
“Ah.” That explained it, in that with Gnomes, you could never know what to expect from one to the next, except that they threw themselves wholeheartedly into what they decided to do. Intrigued, Cecelia follows Tristan in through the tallest set of doors and strides into one of the more bizarrely laid out common rooms she’s seen. After just a moment, she can see the sense of it, though. There are multiple levels catering to the diverse clientele’s heights. She notices there’s even a truly tiny pair of booths ensconced at a height in one wall, presumably for folk that would be that size. She wondered how often pixies came to a city that was infamous for enslaving those who couldn’t defend themselves. A sharply dressed Gnome was wiping down glasses, preparing for the evening dinner crowd. He bustles over to one of three podiums and clambers up the small set of steps behind it so he’s at the same level as them.
“Ingenious.” He beams at Cecelia’s statement.
“Isn’t it? The doors are a simple sorting device, too. I can tell just by which entrance is used what kind of clientele I need to prepare for! Although, ah, you two are unusual even for the type I get in here, and I attract only the most eclectic personages! I am so thrilled to get an Elf and a Dhampir in! The last Elf I served was oh, fifteen years ago, and I never had a Dhampir stay overnight. Oh, Mister Golfen at your service! Alas, I just had a party of Half-Orcs take most of my sized extra-large rooms, and all I have left is my deluxe suite, appropriately sized for ah, the taller sorts such as yourselves. I hope it’s not an issue that there’s only one bed, but from what I remember Elves don’t really sleep, and there’s a lounging couch that should do the trick!” Cecelia, Tristan, and Mithrila stared at the Gnome a beat.
“No, that should do us fine.” Tristan was mentally reeling at the casual stripping of their identities. He looks at Cecelia helplessly, then back at the beaming Gnome.
“My, isn’t he the most adorable kitten when he’s off balance?” Only years of experience with Mithrila kept her from snort-laughing in response, but she closed her eyes tightly. “Hmm, one bed? Well then. I wonder where you two will sleep, since I call dibs.”
* * *
A human girl led them to the wing where the suite was and showed them how to use the complex key to gain entry. It would be a rare rogue indeed that could pick these locks. The girl hands the key over, curtseys, and informs them that supper is served from sixth bell to nine. Thanking her, they enter the room, where Cecelia incants several spells of concealment while Tristan locks the door and inspects the rooms.
The sitting room is well furnished, and Tristan’s eye lingers on the reclining couch, glancing at Cecelia as he thinks of a few uses for it aside from resting. Snorting lightly at his thoughts, he firmly turns away from it and continues his search. He didn’t expect to find anything nefarious, but you didn’t survive long as an adventurer by not inspecting everything with a level that your average person would call paranoid. Mithrila padded along with him, leaping up onto shelves and sniffing everything in reach. He kept a weather eye on her as he flipped cushions, opened drawers, and looked under the fine wooden table that was large enough to seat a small group. Neither of them found anything out of the ordinary, aside from a rather nice chest that was magically chilled, containing drinks and various snacks. He moved on to what he guessed was the bedroom and was beaten there by Mithrila, who somehow was resting in the middle of the bed, even though he had seen her in the other room not a moment before.
“Oh, I see how it is! I’m relegated to usin’ my bedroll instead of sleepin’ on this fine bed?” Pink maw exposing white fangs greets him as Mithrila stretches luxuriously and yawns, then rolls over to expose her belly. “Ah well, if that’s what you’re offering in return, how can I say no?”. He leans forward and buries his fingers into the silky fur to thunderous purring. He hears a curse in the other room. “You alright in there?”
“Yes!” The declaration is followed by some muttering that Tristan can’t quite pick out, and when he peers through the door, he sees her lifting the package she had dropped. Unusual for the normally precise Enchanter, but he supposed everyone has a moment now and then. He turns back to see Mithrila diving under the bed, likely to inspect the underside of the mattress. Stepping over to the bed, Tristan slides his hand over the sheets. A rather fine silk, as it turns out. He gets a vision of Cecelia, sprawled out on the smooth surface, hair fanned out underneath him.
He really needs to stop this, he...Needed to come to terms that there was no way he could walk away. Even if she was just... Learning about the needs of her body and he was convenient, he wanted to... not be used, that was too ugly, but serving her if she would have him. Maybe she would tire of him eventually, but... Not soon, he didn’t think. Heart thudding, he spins away from the bed and walks into the privy and stops in his tracks. It’s something more like two separate rooms, one small one for performing necessaries in a water closet, and another much bigger room, almost as large as the bedroom but fully tiled. He can feel that the room is warmer, likely due to hot water in the brass piping everywhere, exuding heat. There are drains in the floor surrounding what looks like an extremely shallow but massive metal tub. When he steps closer, he sees that it’s not shallow, but is recessed into the floor, with either end sloping up to support a body above the water and deep enough once full to float in. He’s staring at the tub when Cecelia enters the room.
“Very well, I’m impressed!” Her voice is warm as she reaches past him and pulls a chain with a large red glass finial on it. He notices the others hanging there then, a clear one and an icy blue. Water streams out of multiple holes in a metal panel in the ceiling, dumping straight into the tub. There’s a hole in the center that the water drains out of. Another tug, and the hot water stops. “Wonderful! I’ll have to see if we can convince Mister Golfen to leave this hellhole of a city and open up shop, well, literally anywhere else.”
“Ah, I very much doubt that will happen soon. He’s a key member of the underground movement. He helps slaves out of this city.” He follows her back into the main room and takes a seat on the couch, reaching for the package titled “Scalpel”. He scans a few notes in it and nods.
“Tarabellum says to give her a message tomorrow morning. She’ll meet us at nine bells at a location we can decide on then.” Nodding, Cecelia hops up on the table, opening a booklet that must have been in her package. Settled in, they both read in companionable silence.
They were both reading, or rather, Cecelia was reading, and he kept getting distracted from the reports Tara had sent him on the infiltration she was working on in Aiven high society. He should be committing it to memory, but…his eyes drift to the table that Cecelia’s laying on, face up and holding a booklet over her face as one long leg swings back and forth over the edge of the table. Her foot is bare, toes pointed down and the half of her robe that is draped over her keeps fluttering as she moves, exposing flashes of calf and every now and again a tantalizing bit of knee and thigh. Tristan blinks hard. What has gotten into him? He had suppressed his body for years, for decades, for nearly a century! And now here he is, needing to adjust himself because he can’t stop ogling the young Elven woman that’s reading in the same room as him. Tristan’s constantly…hungry. It worries him that with the return of lust will come a darker impulse. So far that hasn’t been the case, and
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