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/ /Author’s Note: This story, Terrible Company, is sprawling sword-and-sorcery fantasy satire with a diverse cast of characters. Over its many chapters, those characters will have interactions (both with each other and others) that cross many of the lines that exist between Lit genres. I have come to believe that breaking the story into those different categories, as best I can, is the best way to expose the most readers to parts of the story they might dig, and that they might then be encouraged to read on.
Each chapter is written as a self-contained episode, and although there are running gags that continue through the series that enrich the experience, they shouldn’t prevent one from starting anywhere in the series (including the final chapter) and enjoying it for what it is.
This chapter features:
Val, the female Orc Warrior/Fighter
Katsa, the female Human Arcanist
Mathilda, the female Dwarf Healer
target=”_blank”Ayen, the male Half-Elf Thief
“And that,” the Half Elf said, panting and grinning smugly, “is how it’s done.”
His lover collapsed into his arms, blushing profusely. “Gods above, that was…”
“I know,” Ayen said.
“The way you… and that thing you did with—”
“I know.” He smirked, and kissed his panting lover’s cheek.
“… Fuck! I never thought that I… that I would…”
The Half Elf continued to trail kisses down his lover’s neck and across the shoulder. “I was very persuasive,” he laughed.
Suddenly, the left side of the door frame exploded in a burst of wood chips and dust. Both of them gasped as the door slammed into the dresser on the far side and bounced back. A balding, heavy-set man in a ruffled shirt glared furiously at them as he stepped into the room.
“YOU!” he shrieked. “First you seduce my daughter! Then my wife! Then my dog! Now I catch you defiling my only son?!” The noble’s face was a particularly unhealthy shade of purple. Veins pulsed like worms just beneath the skin.
The youth in Ayen’s arms jerked upright, covering himself with the blanket. “You seduced Wuffles?! Before me?!”
“Not another word!” the nobleman bellowed, fixing his son with an frigid stare.
“If it makes you feel any better,” Ayen offered, trying to assuage everyone around him, “the dog was your wife’s id—”
The mind, whether it be Elven, Orcish, or in this case, Human, is capable of incredible intellectual feats. An infinitely complex machine, comprised of gears and springs with little bits of squiggly gray matter in between, working in something akin to harmony to churn out thoughts and ideas. Somewhere inside the noble’s head, an overworked and decidedly-underpaid spring finally snapped, having reached its literal and metaphorical breaking point. Gears groaned and shuddered under the strain as all thought ground to a complete and utter halt.
Brandishing his sword and screaming like an enraged potbelly pig, the nobleman charged the bed. Ayen yanked up on the covers and laughed gleefully as the blade caught within the sheets. Then he feinted to his right and spun away as the overweight man lunged across the bed. The Half Elf snatched up his clothes, threw open the window, and blew his young paramour a kiss before leaping to freedom. The noble squealed for his guards, but Ayen was already well away. He landed with a graceful roll and took off butt naked through the gardens, cock proudly waving back and forth as he vaulted hedges.
Ayen streaked around the corner of the servant house and nearly ran head-first into one of the squires leading the lord’s stallion’s out from the stables. He tore the reins from the stunned servant, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, and side-vaulted onto the big brown charger. A crossbow bolt whizzed past his cheek and Ayen gave an exhilarated cheer as he bent low over the horse, whipping its hind quarters with the sleeve of his shirt and making good his escape in a cloud of dust. The first rays of dawn were creeping over the treetops as he tore off into the woods.
Ayen whistled a merry tune as he strolled through the streets of Jonehn. Every day he was alive felt like a blessing, but any that started as wonderfully as that one had was truly a Godsend. He flashed a smile at a comely young woman walking the other direction, earning a lovely blush in return. However, his appetite was pulling him in a slightly different direction just then and he always trusted his gut on important matters. His eyes settled on an apple cart just getting set up on the corner of the street. A few shuffled steps and a momentary pause to gaze at the sun had him passing the cart just as the merchant was escort ataşehir coming around to stop the wheels with a wedge.
Of course, Ayen was too busy staring off down the street to notice someone crouched as low as the merchant was, and they collided. Both men yelled as they careened, their wobbled steps taking them in wide arcs. No one noticed the tip of Ayen’s knife, tucked neatly into his palm, making a thin slice in the hemp sack, but they did notice the spill afterwards as the apples tumbled every which way. The merchant’s flustered cussing drew eyes from every direction, including the eyes of a jeweler displaying his wares not twenty yards further.
Tira, the big-eyed serving girl at the Bronzed Boar, gave Ayen a sly wink as he sauntered in a few minutes later. “So what kind of trouble have you been getting into?” she asked, as she met him at his favorite table. “Or should I ask who did you get yourself into?”
“I’m insulted!” he said, pressing his hands to his chest in feigned shock. “You know there’s only room in my heart for you.” He hooked his thumb inside his vest and, as he pulled it away, withdrew a silver chain adorned with a heart-shaped locket. “Why, not ten minutes ago, I was talking to a jeweler, up from Hegard, about you, and he was so moved by my description of the depths of your eyes he parted with this lovely piece for a song. Practically nothing. Said he couldn’t imagine it going to anyone less lovely than yourself, sight unseen!”
Tira gasped softly as she cupped her hand beneath the necklace. “It’s beautiful,” she whispered. The chain pooled in her palm as Ayen deftly slipped his hand around her waist, and she gave him a knowing look as she leaned into him. “It’s almost as beautiful as that silver tongue of yours.”
He ran his hand up the back of her neck, collecting her long dark hair and raising it out of the way. “I am both shocked and appalled that you think my motives might be anything less than pure.”
Tira smirked as she reached back, clasped the chain around her neck, and tucked it under a blouse that did a fair job of hiding her ample bosom. “I put in the order for your lunch when you walked in the door, but it will be a few minutes.” She turned and stepped closer to him, her voice husky and low. “Maybe you could show me that trick with the cards again?”
“It’d be my pleasure!” Ayen dropped into the bench seat of his favorite booth with a wide smile, and reached into the inner pocket of his vest to produce a deck of well-worn cards. Tira turned to face the room momentarily before flipping the back of her skirt up and sitting down on Ayen’s lap. The Half Elf was only mildly surprised to feel her bare thighs.
“Slip it in,” she whispered, with a nervous glance around the room. “Just for a few minutes.” She braced herself against the table and lifted herself slightly. Ayen’s quick hands were good for many things, he’d found, but none more so than being able to unbutton his pants and withdraw his considerable length in the blink of an eye. He slouched a little for a better angle, and pushed the eager head up against her moist lips. Tira bit her lip, stifling a small moan with one eye pinched shut, as he fed inch after inch into her greedy hole. “Fuck yes…” Her eyes fluttered slowly as she finally sat back down.
“Now,” Ayen said, reaching around her waist as he peeked over her shoulder. “Th-uuuuu… the trick.”
“Mmmmm, yes,” Tira purred.
Ayen spread the cards out in a line, face down, and bit into the shoulder of the serving girl squirming in his lap. “Behave or we’ll get caught,” he hissed.
“Almost getting caught is the fun part,” she whispered back, wiggling her hips again. “Look at them all.”
He laughed softly as his hands danced over the cards, trying to decide which particular trick to show her. “Ooo-oooo-oookay,” he said, stumbling over his words during a particularly slow grind. “Pi-hnnnnngh… pick aa-aaaany card.”
“This one,” Tira said, selecting a card at random. “Mmmm, full…” She smiled warmly at the face of the Rabbit Prince, with his broken sword. “Now what?”
“Put it back in the deck,” he said. He reached his hand around her waist, and pulled her in tight to him. Tira winced and gasped, feeling the hardened tip press against her cervix. “Good, good.” He collected the cards and split the deck twice, with Tira rolling her hips in a tight circle all the while. He licked his lips as he split the deck once more, and flipped over the top card. He blinked, staring down at the well-prepared centaur of The Wanderer card.
Tira grinned as she looked back over her shoulder. “Is your mind someplace else, perhaps?”
“I think it’s that wonderful cunt of yours,” he growled into her neck. “Has my wits in a fog!”
“Tira!” a deep voice kadıköy escort boomed from across the room. The serving girl giggled, as she smoothly spun on his lap and stood. She stayed in front of him for a moment, bending forward to straighten her dress before scurrying back toward the kitchen. By then, Ayen had already tucked himself down into his pant leg, and was grinning like he’d stolen an entire city’s worth of cream. “You have other tables to tend to.” Moiren, the stern matron of the Bronzed Boar, dismissed the blushing girl with a nod of her head, and fixed her sour glare on Ayen.
“Moiren, my dear!” Ayen flashed the innkeeper a smile full of charm. “You are a sight for sore e—”
“Save it,” Moiren barked, and the wide woman folded her arms across her chest. “I’m no doe-eyed girl for you to woo. You weren’t planning on paying for that food with honeyed words were you?”
Ayen gasped in mock pain as he stood and withdrew the purse of the apple merchant he’d run into earlier in the day. “I think this should cover lunch, aaaand the next few… days?” he said, marveling at the quantity of silver mixed in with the copper.
Moiren grimaced as she pushed the coins back and forth on her palm. “It will at that,” she allowed. “Doesn’t mean I won’t still count the utensils at the end of the day.”
Ayen smiled brightly as she turned, and stuck his tongue out at her back as she stormed back into her kitchen. He just had time to sit back down before Tira came by again.
“Your duck will be done in a bit,” she lilted, as she swayed past his table with two mugs in each hand. “Maybe later, I could help you finish that trick?”
“You give the best help in a hundred leagues,” he mumbled, leaning slightly out into the aisle to admire her backside. He smiled to himself as he sat back upright in his chair. It was turning out to be quite a day. Ayen closed his eyes and let his senses broaden. He could smell his duck cooking in the back, and the lingering bitter of the ale that had wafted past his table. The nervous sweat of the man in the corner, and the the acids from the tannery he worked at and was going to rob. The last was purely speculation on Ayen’s part, but he knew the look of a man about to commit his first real crime. It was a sort of nervousness forcibly-hardening into resolve, and not necessarily by choice.
More and more, though, Ayen’s attention was drawn to the three women seated a few tables behind him. Tira brought by his meal and he ate in silence, listening to them hash out a cloak and dagger plan. After checking his teeth with a knife blade, he stood and strode over to the table of conspirators.
“Excuse me,” he said, donning a gracious smile, “but I couldn’t help overhearing.”
“Keep walking,” the Orc said soberly, “or I’ll put a dagger through your skull.”
“I have no doubt you could,” he said honestly, and continued in a softer tone. “There’s a reason the guards will be increased once your objective is on the move. Going after a stronghold is generally suicide with so few of you.”
“Piss off,” the Dwarf growled. “Now.”
“What do you know about it?” asked the Human, a thin woman with short wisps of blonde hair.
“May I?” Ayen intoned, after he’d already sat down at the fourth chair of their table. The Dwarf looked furious, but the Orc seemed to be hesitantly deferring to the Human. He smiled as he turned to the Human. “Five guards on the defensive are worth a dozen on the move. They have the layout, they have strategy, and they have defensible positions. If they’re worth half what they’re paid, anyway.”
“Not seeing the angle here,” the big Orc grumbled, leaning back slightly in her chair.
“Oh no?” the Dwarf said, practically shouting. “Give it momen’.”
“Now, if I heard right, you lovely ladies have been hired to re-acquire an asset for its rightful owner. A noble endeavor,” he added, nodding solemnly. “But if this asset is valuable enough to be defended by the numbers you three were sketching out, it’s likely to be in a strongbox during transit.”
“I think we can handle a strongbox.” The Orc looked confident.
“Go on,” the Human said, and the other two looked at her incredulously.
“It’s not just about handling it. It’s about being prepared for all eventualities. I’ve heard of strongboxes made entirely of steel, and on the other end of the spectrum, strongboxes made of wax paper and reeds with enough arcana scripted around the sides to make the most hardened criminal pass it by.” The Human set her chin on her steepled fingers, and Ayen breathed a quiet sigh of relief. Getting the first one on his side was always the lion’s share. “From what I can see, you’ve got two bruisers and an Arcanist. Am I wrong?”
“Ah’m a Divinist,” the Dwarf replied smugly.
“Oh, maltepe escort bayan I had no idea.” Ayen put on his very best straight face as he slapped down a small hip flask, with a leather casing adorned with religious iconography, that until a minute ago had been tucked neatly into the Dwarf’s pocket. The short, dark haired woman sputtered indignantly. “What you need to compliment your outfit is a bit of subtlety.”
“An’ there it is,” the Dwarf snarled, snatching back her flask. “‘E wants in, an’ ‘e wants a cut.”
“Mathilda,” the Human said patiently.
“Ah’ve known dozens like ya,” Mathilda rasped. “Thieves an’ scoundrels who’ll turn their back on ya quicker than you can say ‘Highest Bidder’.”
“Shuddup, shortstack,” the Orc added. Her massive arms were still crossed over her chest forbiddingly, but there was a tilt to her eyebrows that said she was willing to hear a bit more before she made her decision. Ayen did a joyous backflip, inwardly.
Mathilda turned coldly toward the Orc. “You may ‘ave that one quakin’ in ‘er boots,” she said, pointing at the Human, “but you an’ Ah both know if it came ta blows, ya’d be limpin’ away at best.”
“It’s two to one, Mathilda,” the Human said calmly. “We outnumber you, and we want to hear him out. You’re not bound to stick around by any means, but we will hear him out.”
Mathilda huffed and sat back in her chair. “Ah’m no’ goin’ anywhere, an’ ya know it.”
“Alright then,” the human said, turning to address Ayen directly. “I’m Katsa, and this is Val.” The big Orc merely nodded.
When Ayen awoke in his room several hours later, he smiled. His day was turning out to be most memorable indeed. After warming them over with a few rounds and some insightful comments, he’d managed to talk them into an alternate version of their plan. He then recused himself to ‘talk to a few contacts and gather some supplies,’ but the truth of it was that Ayen was merely tired and wanted a nap.
He had a vivid dream in which the nobleman’s wife and son played an interminable game of leapfrog for the right to bed him next. An anthropomorphic ostrich, obviously the nobleman, squawked at him from the other side of a fence about the nuances of the taxable goods law he was going to enforce as soon as he figured out how to work the damnable gate. And hold a pen. After that, it got a little hazy, but Ayen was sure there was wolf cock in it somewhere. Any dream that featured wolf cock, whether or not he was the wolf, was a good one.
Refreshed, Ayen threw open his window and looked out. Jonehn was not counted among the great cities, but it was sprawling. His third floor room looked out over mostly rooftops nearly to the horizon. The setting sun was on the far side of the building, and he thought he might have two hours before he needed to be where he needed to be. That got his mind turning on what the best way to kill two hours might be.
“She’ll catch us,” Tira whispered, from the corner of the tavern Ayen had whisked her to.
“Weren’t you saying, just this morning, that that was is the fun part?” Ayen leaned in, running his tongue along the side of her neck. “Look how busy it is.” The evening crowd was full swing. A singer swayed atop a long table against the far wall, backed by two musicians, playing a flute and a lyre respectively. He nipped at her shoulder. “We could do it right here, and no one in this room would know.”
Tira bit her lip and moaned as he cupped her breast through her blouse, and then slapped at his wrist. “Fine,” she hissed in exasperation, dragging him toward and up the nearest flight of stairs. “You know the matron will tan my hide if she catches us,” she said. She slammed the door to his room behind him.
“Uh-huh,” Ayen mumbled amid kisses down the knape of her neck, as deft hands unlaced her corset.
“And I really mmmf… really have a lot of chores to do this evening.”
“I have a couple chores for you right here,” he grinned, admiring her supple curves free from the corset’s bindings.
“I mean with the tavern, you knave! You know she’ll be furious.”
Ayen cupped the girl’s chin and smiled devilishly. “Probably beside herself with rage.”
“Out for blood.” he murmured, planting a tender kiss on her lips.
“I’ll just have to invite her to join in next time, and soothe her anger with my magical cock.”
The girl giggled in shock. “That cow?! You wouldn’t!”
“I have placated many a beast with my roguish charms.”
Tira snorted, unlacing his breeches and shoving him backwards. “Goddess knows she could use it.” She licked her lips as she crawled onto the bed beside him. “I was thinking about this all day,” she whispered. “Couldn’t stop sneaking off to corners, or pausing in the larder to touch myself.”
“You really do like to toe the line, don’t you?”
“More and more.” She giggled as she grasped the middle of his cock, and rubbed the head against her outstretched tongue. “Especially since you fingered me in the Baker’s shop.”
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