Bonus Story: Ebony And Ivory

on January 20, 2008 in Other Tales

Okay, I couldn’t resist another song title. Please note that I’ve updated the donation target from $200 (which was based on how many people were reading me in September) to $250. Please also note that we’re almost already there for next week.

“Are you ready to depart?” Dee asked Steff.

The two of them were getting stares from the people–humans all–who passed them in the halls of the co-ed Warwick Hall. Even though they were indoors and it was night, Dee had put on the cowl of her cloak and pulled it low in front of her face, as a shield against the curious and just plain unfriendly eyes. She longed to be away from the place, but Steff was not yet mobile.

The half-elf was leaning with her face against the wall between two doors, across the hallway from the single room occupied by her former friend Leeza.

“Yeah,” Steff said. Using her arms as much as her legs, she turned herself around. She was breathing hard, and slightly hunched over. “I think so. Oh, sweet fuck that hurt, though… you couldn’t do something?”

“Your injury was superficial, whatever the pain,” Dee said. “And I make it a point not to heal wounds that have been imparted as a matter of honor.”

“She kneed me in the crotch!” Steff said. “How is that honorable?”

“It was a retaliatory strike,” Dee said. She seemed to glide effortlessly down the hallway, as if there was nothing more than vapor beneath her dark cloak. Steff’s more hopping, hobbling gait stood out in sharp contrast.

“Retaliatory strike? It’s not like I attacked her… she volunteered,” Steff said. “Maybe I was a bit careless with the knife and maybe I went too deep, and maybe I wasn’t as quick as I could have been with the whole getting her help… but you just don’t kick a girl in the balls. She should know that.”

“In any event, I believe you can remove her name from the list of potential donors for future feedings,” Dee said.

“Yeah,” Steff said. “Fucking fuck, that hurt!”

“In any event, you’ve now witnessed two separate feats of divine forces intervening at my behest,” Dee said. “Are you ready to admit the truth of the gods of our shared ancestors?”

“Oh, like I haven’t seen my own father do that a hundred times,” Steff said, waving a hand dismissively.

“And yet you doubt?” Dee said.

“I believe that people who believe in the elven gods can tap into that belief in some way,” Steff said. “I see no reason to bring a bunch of moldy old gods that nobody’s heard from in two Ages into it.”

“I think you have abandonment issues,” Dee said.

“I wish I did,” Steff said. “My mom and I would have been better off on our own, and I could have done without spending every other year around a bunch of pointy-eared assholes who laughed behind my back.”

“I was under the impression you were not overly fond of your mother’s people, either,” Dee said.

“I hate humans,” Steff admitted in a huff. “I hate elves. Just assume that I hate everybody, okay? Maybe one percent of everybody is worth anything. The rest can go to any hell they choose.”

“So bitter,” Dee said. “And not yet two decades old. What will the rest of your centuries hold?”

“I’m not bitter,” Steff said. “I’m happy. Just because I hated my childhood doesn’t mean I can’t love my life now. I have fun. I’m learning how to fight, how to zombify shit… and when I graduate I’m going to be the mistress-cum-slave, with an emphasis on ‘cum’, of the heir to… well, it’s basically a big pile of crumbling rocks but it’s an important one.” Steff laughed. “It controls one of the main passes between the frontier provinces and the badlands. It’s going to be so badass, when Viktor takes over the keep. I’m going to goth it out, you know? With zombie guards and shrieking skulls set in the wall to act as alarms…”

“Against what?” Dee asked. “I was under the impression that the ogrish lands have been in a state of relative peace for decades.”

“Yeah,” Steff said. “The tribal lords have pretty much decided they want blue jeans and television more than they want dominion over all lands, and these days there’s more half-ogres than fullbloods, anyway. But… ambiance, you know?”

“You would bind tormented spirits to inanimate flesh in a hideous mockery of life for ‘ambiance’?” Dee asked.

“When you say it, it sounds like a bad thing,” Steff said. “Anyway, ‘relative peace’ or not, it’s still the ogre badlands. Viktor’s going to have to keep up an image, which is going to be hard enough if he keeps up the harpsichord thing.”

“Your lover plays the harpsichord?”

“Yeah, but he’s kind of for shit at it,” Steff said. “And of course, nothing says ‘big honking sissy’ like a harpsichord player, right? But cover the windows with black velvet, blow out two thirds of the torches, put up a few shrieking skulls… and suddenly the big hulking brute hunched over the keyboard gets a little more respect from the vassals.”

“You sound as though you’ve given this a great deal of thought,” Dee said.

“I have,” Steff said. “I went home with him last summer… it was either that or back to Happy Magic Tree Land for one more summer. I loved ogre culture. There’s no pretense, and no pretending… it’s kill or be killed, fuck or be fucked. Elves used to be like that, you know? If you listen to the old poems, they’re not about treaties and trade routes and diplomacy… it’s all about who slew whom in order to fuck whose wife. Now what happens? You live forever unless you get bored enough to ‘move on’.”

Steff moved a finger across her throat as she finished the sentence.

“I wouldn’t know what that’s like,” Dee said. “Seeing as my people’s existence is a constant struggle to survive with the scant resources that exist to support us. If someday my descendants lived in a world where the principal cause of death was ennui, I would consider it to be progress.”

“Progress,” Steff said, shaking her head. “Progress is going somewhere a thousand miles from everything you’ve known and carving something out for yourself. That’s progress.”

They reached the doors that led out into the open air. Dee stopped once they were outside. She pulled back her hood and stood, looking up into the night sky.

“How high do you think it is?” she asked.

“What?” Steff asked.

“The ceiling.”

“You mean the sky?”

“Yes,” Dee said. “The dome over the world. How large is it?”

“I don’t think there is one,” Steff said. “Not like you’re talking about.”

“But you see it,” Dee said. “Don’t you?”

“I see a lot of blackness and some pretty, pretty lights,” Steff said. “I don’t see a ceiling.”

“But there must be one,” Dee said.

“Why?”

“Because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate,” Dee said.

“I don’t think there is one,” Steff said. “I think it just goes on forever.”

What goes on forever?” Dee asked.

“The world,” Steff said. “I think you could go up forever and never find an end.”

Dee shivered and gathered her cloak more tightly about her.

“That is the single most unsettling thing I have ever heard,” she said. She looked down at the lighted path as they started forward again, the night sky suddenly holding much less allure for her.

“Do you wanna go fuck in the fountain?”

“And that may be a close second.”

“I’m not talking about anything kinky, like the vag,” Steff said. “Butt, mouth… your pick.”

“You use the highest terms conceived by mortals to speak of the very lowest forms of pleasure the gods have provided for us,” Dee said.

“I haven’t heard a no,” Steff said.

“I will walk with you to the fountain,” Dee said. “Because I enjoy being out of doors more during the night, and because I am in no hurry to return to my own chamber, given what I imagine will soon be happening in the adjacent one.”

“And lucky me, I’m not invited to the party. So… have you ever fucked?” Steff asked as they headed down the path towards the fountain. “I mean, do you?”

“I fail to see how that is any of your business,” Dee said.

“I’m making conversation,” Steff said. “I want to know all about you.”

“And to you, that means my sexual habits,” Dee said.

“Your love life, then,” Steff said. “Anybody special?”

“I had three lovers when I made my decision to supplement my temple training with a surface education,” Dee said. “One of them broke with me over that very decision. I have little hope that the other two will wait for me, but I would consider myself bound to them even in the unlikely event that suitable lovers of their genders appeared.”

“You mean you’re going to go four years without sex?” Steff asked. “Honestly?”

“That’s an incalculably small percentage of my potential lifespan,” Dee said.

“But you said yourself that it’s a struggle for survival down there,” Steff said. “You could die before you get laid again. We could be killed by monsters tonight.”

“I find that unlikely,” Dee said. “We are both reasonably puissant, and we are sticking to the paths in the center of the campus.”

“But you don’t know!” Steff said. “A human could have a heart attack and fall on you any day.”

Dee’s lips twitched.

“Oh my fucking imaginary gods,” Steff said. “Did you just crack a smile?”

“I did not.”

“You almost did,” Steff said. “And at the lamest joke ever.”

“It was a lame attempt at humor, indeed,” Dee agreed.

“But you still smiled.”

“We have established that I did not,” Dee said. “It would appear that you would be out of luck: the fountain is already in use.”

“What the hell?” Steff asked, her eyes picking out what Dee had seen a moment earlier: a ghostly white figure gliding around from behind the dragon statue in the middle of the fountain.

“I believe it is our resident aristocrat,” Dee said.

Steff ran ahead to the fountain, where an immense white swan swam in a graceful circle.

“You’re, um… Leda, right?” Steff asked. “You know there’s a swimming pool in the exercise center?”

The swan shimmered silver, and her body seemed to grow upwards into her long neck. Her head expanded as her beak receded into her face, and her legs filled out while her wings became arms.

In moments, the familiar–or rather, reclusive and rarely-seen–form of Leda stood… nude, in water up to her calves.

“People in dorm do not know that I am princess,” she said, arching her long, slender neck and crossing her arms in front of her demurely pert breasts. “They do not care who I am. Here at night, I am princess of fountain, and I do not care what people think. I do not care what you think.”

“I think you’re beautiful,” Steff said, gaping in open wonder at the ethereal beauty of the proud swan maiden in her human aspect, illuminated by moonlight.

“Thank you,” Leda said, peering intently at Steff. “You are elf boy?”

“Um, sort of,” Steff said. “On some levels, maybe.”

“You make love to princess ever, elf?”

“I… I…” Steff stammered, speechless.

“I believe I have now, as the saying goes, seen everything,” Dee said. “I think I will visit the library. Do try to not get yourself expelled.”


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6 Responses to “Bonus Story: Ebony And Ivory”

  1. BMeph says:

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

    …and, Steff 1-Ups the Princess!

    Current score: 2
    • Jechtael says:

      “1-Ups the princess”: By which you mean, gives the princess her mushroom?

      Current score: 3
  2. pedestrian says:

    Steff is hardly trying to get expelled, she’s making it a whole new career path!

    Current score: 0
  3. Hoopla says:

    Steff you incredibly lucky half-elf you.

    Current score: 0
  4. C says:

    I will only say that this made me chuckle, in a giggly sort of way.
    I am glad no one heard me.

    Current score: 0
  5. MentalBlank says:

    I love Dee’s character. Her defining loyalty to those she loves, whether it be those in her past (and possibly future), or those whom she has currently befriended. Considerate, polite and devoted.

    Current score: 5