205: Party Underground

on April 29, 2008 in Book 8

In Which Mackenzie Drinks A Single Sip Of Alcohol

Our arrival at the party did not go unnoticed. No sooner had we stepped out of the short passage from the lift than there came cries of “Ironholt! Ironholt!” from around the room, probably from Karl’s clanmates. He answered by raising his fist and giving a whoop, and then of course, attention turned to his guests… and that meant all eyes were on me.

My habitual discomfort at being the center of attention, which I’d necessarily made a lot of progress in overcoming, was returning in full force, especially when the applause and scattered shouts and wolf whistles broke out.

“I thought you said this put me off limits,” I said to Karl, through a jaw that was barely mobile.

“It does,” Karl said. “The applause is for Ian. Take a bow, lad.”

Ian did.

Once that formality had been observed, most of the attention passed, though a lot of the human guys in tabards were still staring at me. I guessed they had been the ones shouting and whistling.

I was surprised at the number of human females there, and also by the amount and variety of nudity among them. While over half of them were fully dressed, some of the girls were topless, or at least down to their bras. I saw at least one who was completely naked. I was used to seeing mermaids and nymphs, but the sight of a fully human girl hanging out like that was a little startling.

“What do you think?” Karl asked, gesturing expansively around the room.

I didn’t say anything. Aside from being filled up with dwarves and not, say, bones, the chamber was probably more Steff’s sort of place than mine. There was something distinctly sepulchral about the high vaulted ceiling and the grotesque carved faces. The stones became progressively darker the higher they climbed, and not just because they were further away from the light… greasy soot clung to them. There were spills everywhere, and in point of fact, there were bones… tiny little ribcages and drumsticks.

The big black ravens flying around overhead didn’t help the gloominess or cleanliness either, and they reminded me uncomfortably of the monstrous crows from the cursed farm.

“Awesome,” Ian said.

“You should have seen the place before Ms. Willikins m… asked us to start cleaning up after ourselves,” Karl said. “It used to be a dump. There’s roast boar and fowl.” He gestured to the dark shapes turning over glowing red coals. “And mead and ale, and just about anything else you’d want to drink. Just ask anybody if you want something in particular. Swimming hole and spring rooms are downstairs.” He pointed at one of the side passages leading off from the circular chamber. “If you stay late, guest lodgings are available anywhere that people aren’t standing.”

“Thanks, but I really don’t think we’re going to be here that long,” I said.

My eyes were stinging from the smoke, and the air inside the dwarves’ hall wasn’t really warmer so much as it was more unevenly heated. It was pleasantly warm though smoky near the fires but there was an icy chill rolling out from the center of the room, and the areas in between were… in between.

“Suit yourselves. I have to go greet my clan brothers,” Karl said. “Would you like me to introduce you around?”

“I think we’ll just mingle on our own,” I said quickly. I didn’t really want to “mingle” at all, until I got my bearings a little bit better, and I certainly didn’t want to be led around the room and presented while I was still chained.

Ian led me by the arm down the sloping floor towards the center of the room, away from the heat and towards the source of the horrible cold. There was a fenced off hole in the middle of the room, looking down on an underground lake in which several dwarves frolicked and splashed along with Feejee, unmistakable with her masses of gold jewelry, and another mermaid that I thought was the scarlet-haired Iona.

I’d seen Feejee in her natural state before, but never in motion. There was something eerie and hypnotic about watching the way she and Iona propelled themselves back and forth. The lower chamber was much larger than the opening, so they glided and undulated in and out of view. I watched them pass each other several times, sometimes slipping right past each other and other times rolling over and kind of spiraling around each other.

I wondered how mermaid… merfolk, rather… had sex.

Then I wondered how mermaids did.

I couldn’t really imagine anything more intimate or beautiful than the aquatic ballet that was unfolding beneath me.

I realized I was staring at a pair of nude female beings in the presence of my oh-so-patient boyfriend, but then I tore my gaze away from the sight below and saw that he was as awestruck as I was.

Feejee happened to roll over at the right moment and noticed me looking down. She stopped and waved. I reflexively tried to return the gesture and ended up wrenching myself around in place.

“Come on down!” she yelled.

“Maybe later,” I called back, though I didn’t think that likely. The water had to be freezing, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gone swimming, even without my hands bound with heavy metal weights.

I was also a little iffy about whether or not I could drown. I needed to breathe, as far as I could tell, but I didn’t think I could breathe water. But, I couldn’t be harmed by non-magical means. Where did that leave me?

I had a theory that I’d pass out but not actually die. I wasn’t in a big huge hurry to test it.

“You don’t want to go down and say hello?” Ian asked.

“There’s naked dwarves down there, too,” I pointed out.

“I just meant… she’s your friend.”

“Kind of,” I said. “She hangs out with some real bitches.”

“You want something to drink?” Ian asked.

“Maybe later,” I said.

“Oh.”

“It’s okay if you get something,” I said.

“Maybe in a bit.”

“Hey,” Ian said, tugging on my elbow. “Look… cuffs.”

I turned and saw him pointing across the gap at another girl. She had her shirt pulled off, though it was stuck down over the ends of her arms. She had a knot of boys around her. We probably wouldn’t have been able to see her at all except she was backed up against the gap.

“Don’t point,” I said.

“It’s not like she’s facing us,” Ian said.

“It’s rude, anyway,” I said. “Anyway, it doesn’t look like the chains are working.”

“They look pretty secure to me,” Ian said.

“I mean, at keeping the guys off her,” I said. One of them had a bottle of beer and was “feeding” the girl sips, but was holding the bottle up high and making her stretch up for it, tipping the neck down to meet her lips. This resulted in most of it going down the front of her. “Can you believe those guys? Can you believe her?”

“She’s gonna get her teeth knocked out if they’re not careful,” Ian said.

“I’m so glad you’re not a frat boy,” I said.

“Yeah, well,” he said. “I wouldn’t even think about pledging my first year.”

I looked at him to see if he was joking. It didn’t look like it.

“What, you mean, you’d think about pledging ever?” I asked.

He gave me a dirty look.

“What?” I asked.

“Tolerance isn’t just for lesbians and kobolds, you know,” he said.

“Oh, please,” I said. “Frat guys aren’t an oppressed minority.”

“No, but that doesn’t mean you can act like they’re all idiots,” Ian said. “Look, one of the reasons you go to college is to meet new people and make friends, right?”

“I have friends,” I said.

“People on your floor,” Ian said. “It’s hard to meet ‘new people’ like that after about a week. Anyway, what about networking?”

“Oh, right,” I said. “Like your dad, the Crimson Tonguer.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my dad.”

“I didn’t say there was!” I said.

“You know, why don’t you just wait here for a minute?” he said.

“Why, where are you going?” I asked.

“I’m going to go talk to the Badgers,” he said. “Unless you’d like to come along?”

“No, but…”

“Wait here, then.”

“Wait!” I said, but he didn’t, and I didn’t feel like shouting after him across a crowded room. Not while I was chained up.

“Hey there, Mack,” Hazel said at my side.

Her sudden appearance startled me.

I started to lose my balance, and wrenched myself to the side so that I’d hit the floor instead of going over the edge.

“Whoops,” Hazel said. “Didn’t mean to sneak up like that.”

“It’s okay,” I said. “Help me up, okay?”

“Yeah, that’s going to work really well,” Hazel said. She gave an ear-splitting whistle. Andreas hurried over. “Give Mack a hand, won’t you?” she said.

“Yes, dear,” he said, and helped pull me up. Given that I couldn’t use my arms and was taller than he was, it was kind of like being molded into the shape of somebody standing up.

“Why don’t you go get us some of that chicken,” Hazel said. “Breasts or thighs, Mack?”

“Uh, breast,” I said.

“I’ll be right back, ladies,” Andreas said.

“Karl said something about dwarven relationships being power struggles,” I said as Andreas hurried towards one of the roasting pits.

“Oh, yeah, we did that bit,” Hazel said. “Turns out I won.” She gave me an appraising grin. “Guess I don’t have to ask where you came in with Ian.”

“This was my choice,” I said.

“Naturally,” Hazel said. “You ready to take them off?”

“I told Ian it was up to him,” I said.

“Well, we can either have Andy move your arms around to the front or I can feed you from a stepladder,” Hazel said.

“When you say ‘move my arms around to the front’…” I said, remembering Karl’s words about dislocated joints.

“I mean, undo them for a sec,” she said.

Andreas returned, chicken in hand. Literally.

Hazel glared at him.

“What?” he asked.

“Plates,” she said.

“Oh, right,” he said, and headed off again.

“I’m slowly civilizing them,” she said. “Slowly.”

Andreas returned, this time with two small platters that were actually octagonal slabs of stone. He handed them to Hazel while he, at her direction, shuffled my bonds around so that I had my hands in front of me. He also increased the slack between them somehow, so I could hold the plate in one hand and lift the chicken with the other… though the plate did kind of follow the meat up.

“What can I get you to drink?” Andreas asked me. Hazel already had a bottle of beer with what looked like dwarvish writing on the label.

“What do you have without alcohol?” I asked.

“We have spring water,” Andreas said. “Oh, and human beer.”

“Non-alcoholic?” I asked.

“Mostly,” he said. “Almost ninety-five percent non-alcoholic.”

I sighed. I didn’t want to insult him.

“Hold on, Mack,” Hazel said, handing her plate and drink to Andy. “I’ll dig up something you might like, and if you don’t, I’ll break out my private stash of pop.”

I thought about asking her if we could skip the try-and-see part and go straight to the soda, but that seemed rude since apparently it wasn’t for public consumption. Anyway, I didn’t like alcohol but I wasn’t so naive as to think that life really was like after school specials. If I took a sip, I wouldn’t be raped after overdosing on herbs in the middle of a carriage crash while being teen pregnant.

“So… how are you getting along with Hazel?” I asked Andreas while she went over to a big wooden tub full of bottles with a little bit of ice.

“Beautifully,” he said. “She’s like a dream.”

“Doesn’t she kind of… bull rush over you?” I asked. “A little bit?”

“Maybe a little, but have you seen the way she eats?” he said. “It’s… it’s… erotic.”

His eyes were on Hazel rooting around in the tub as he said this. I’d never noticed anything about the way Hazel ate, except that it was frequent. I guessed dwarves—or at least Andreas—liked girls who could pack it away.

Hazel found what she was looking for, but detoured over to one of the cooking pits and loaded up a plate with some meat from the pig and a pile of what turned out to be little red potatoes, and a couple onions and tomatoes with grill marks on them.

“Vegetables,” she said as she came back, shaking her head. “There were heart attacks when I brought these down. Now all the lads are eating them.” She handed the bottle to Andreas, then picked up a big white onion and took a bite out of it.

“How can you eat that plain like that?” I asked.

“It’s sweet,” she said. “Sweeter still, after it’s been cooked for a while, but you can eat them raw like apples. You want to try?”

“No, thanks,” I said.

Andreas twisted the top off bottle and handed it to me. I had to set my plate down on the ledge before I took it. It was in amber colored glass, with the label reading “Honey Lager” in Pax.

“That’s sweet, too,” Hazel said. “Go on. Give it a sip.”

I raised the bottle to my lips. My impression of beer was a kind of sour, bitter bready taste… but this was smooth, and a little bit sweet.

“What do you think?” Hazel asked.

“It’s… good,” I said. I wasn’t about to start chugging it down, but I really couldn’t criticize the taste.

“See, a lot of people say they don’t like beer,” Hazel said. “I say they just haven’t met the right one.”

“If you like sweet things, you should just try the mead,” Andreas said.

“That’s wine with honey, right?” I asked.

“It’s wine from honey,” he said.

“You can make wine from honey?” I said.

He nodded.

“We’d been making wine that way for millennia before the sissy fruit swill came along,” he said proudly.

“I’d give the mead a pass until you’ve got a feel for the stuff,” Hazel said. “The real dwarven stuff will sneak up on you, tie a boulder to your ankles and another one to your neck, then flip a coin to see which one of them it should push off the cliff.”

Andreas beamed and bowed at what he obviously considered to be high praise.

“So, um… on the subject of being tied up, is the whole chains thing a common sight around here?” I asked. I could see a few other girls here and there, with their hands bound either in front of or behind them. I felt self-conscious about the whole thing, but I had to admit catching a glimpse of another girl with her arms bound, especially the more bare ones… well, again, it would have been better if it was just Ian, but I was still turned on a little to imagine what I must look like.

“It’s mostly unattached ladies we invite,” Andreas said. “It’s only when we do these mixers that we get a lot of the other type… and of course, we don’t force anybody to observe our customs, but some people get a kick out of it, at least for a little while.”

“So, have you been downstairs?” Hazel asked. She’d sat down on the wall and was working her way through her two plates in an astonishing display of ambidexterity. She didn’t exactly stop eating to talk, but she managed to coordinate everything so that she wasn’t actually opening her mouth with food in it. “It’s quite a set-up, if you’re not a prude… and I guess we all know you’re not a prude.”

“I’m not one for swimming,” I said.

“I meant the hot springs and the steam rooms,” Hazel said.

“Steam rooms?” I repeated. I remembered how, at Amaranth’s prompting, I’d used some improvised magic to turn the showers into a steam room. The idea of getting the same experience without the magical effort was extremely appealing, especially considering how drafty the hall was.

“Yeah,” Hazel said. “These mad dwarves steam themselves up like clams and then jump into that icy water so they get cooled off and do the whole thing over again.”

I looked at Andreas for confirmation of this insane-sounding story.

“It’s true,” he said. “On a proper mountain, we’d run out into the snow, but we make do.”

“But, that’s not required, is it?” I said. “The jumping into the water part?”

“No,” he said. “It’s just something we do to get the blood flowing, you know? And to keep from looking like one of the piggies.”

“So, you think you might check it out?” Hazel asked.

“Can I take my stuff in there?” I asked, holding up the bottle and gesturing at the plate I’d set down.

“If you like,” he asked, seeming amused by the question. “Your drink won’t stay cold in there.”

“I’ll drink it fast,” I said.

“You probably want Andy to undo your bonds, then,” Hazel said.

“Why?” I asked. “Aren’t they rustproofed, or whatever?”

“Well, yes,” Andreas said. “But you’ll be wanting to get your shirt off.”

“Why would I be wanting that?” I asked.

“You ever wear clothes in a steam bath?” Hazel asked. “It’s not pleasant.”

“Yeah, um… I’m not taking off my clothes,” I said.

“We do have towels for the modest,” Andreas said.

I started to ask if they were clean, but I decided against it. That would be rude. If the towels were too small or otherwise sketchy-looking, I could always check them out now and try to wrangle an invite back later, when I had a swimming suit or bathrobe or something.

“I think I’ll just go down and take a look, at least,” I said.

“Would you like me to undo your irons?” Andreas asked.

“Yeah,” I said, holding out my hands. I looked around. I couldn’t see Ian. “And tell Ian where I went, okay?”


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6 Responses to “205: Party Underground”

  1. pedestrian says:

    There goes Mackenzie,again, when she isn’t outright breaking the Subs rules, she sorely tries them to the limit. Though come to think of it, Our Mack tends to be the one to come out the with the sore end.

    That clever little minx.

    Never mind, forget I said anything.

    Current score: 2
    • Arkeus says:

      To be fair, she is with people who are utterly walking all over the rules for their conveniences, or don’t even know them at all like Ian. Has to do with them all being new at this and utterly childish.

      Current score: 2
  2. Arakano says:

    Yeah, sorry, but a Dom leaving his sub alone at a public event while she is in bondage, for the first time too? I do not really see the failure on her part, here.
    But somehow, many people (especially those outside the scene) tend to associate guilt always with the subs…

    Current score: 10
    • Athena says:

      Ian isn’t one of the people who can free her anyway, or I might be more inclined to completely agree. Certainly if he were the only one who could I would definitely agree.

      As it stands, they’re getting a feel for it and he’s certainly the more dominant, but he isn’t her Dom. I’m more inclined to think there’s no real fault, here. Mack left it to Ian to decide because he was enjoying it and she enjoyed that; in his absence, she needed to be able to decide herself and her reason for holding off was, at best, a little moot anyway.

      Easiest resolution if Ian still wants them on her is put them on again when he gets back and is once more in a position to enjoy it. If he tries to get pissy that she took them off after he took off, then he’s in the wrong, but other than that I see no pressing issue.

      Current score: 3
  3. Mickey says:

    Typo warning: “Andreas twisted the top off bottle and handed it to me.” — should be “…twisted the top off of the bottle…”

    I love how different the various races’ and cultures’ senses of “erotic” are. You’ve built a wonderfully complex and intricate world. Dee’s goddess must be so pleased. 🙂

    Current score: 0
  4. Cadnawes says:

    @ Arakano… I know plenty of people IN the scene who feel that way. But I think being the dominant gives you the responsibility of faultless behavior; while ironically not ensuring that you can be faultless. You’ve got to try; the safety of others depends on it.

    But as far as I’m concerned, you leave your bonded sub alone at a party you forfeit the right to make decisions for them. Hell, you leave your date of any kind alone at a party and you don’t get to be mad if they’re not where you left them. A party is for having fun at and its just plain rude making that difficult for the person you brought.

    Current score: 9