Nessera blinked her big watery eyes several times while she processed what she had just heard. After a moment it seemed as if a mask fell from her face. The watery doe eyes were gone, replaced by sharp and intelligent look that calculated everything. The soft face took on a much sharper feel, and the mouth went from a half open breathy look to a slight serious line. She also changed her whole way of holding herself. Previously she had sat in a way that best put her assets on display, but now she was just lounging like a cat ready to pounce.
“Well, I certainly seem to have made a fool of myself. You certainly had your fun.” Nessera’s voice had a little bite to it.
Dee was amused by the change. “Me? Not so much. Her?” Dee thumbed towards the still loud laughter of Commander Luthana. “Most certainly. Also don’t you dare get snippy with me at this point. Whether or not you got laughed at has no bearing on what you did.”
Dee had noticed Nessera’s attempt to shift some blame around in hopes of reducing whatever her punishment might be. As a result she needed to establish her dominant position in controlling the discussion.
“So what is to become of me then?” Nessera asked quickly giving up her futile attempt.
“That is a good question. I’m pretty sure this whole thing is also an evaluation for me, so your punishment is most likely up to me as well. Especially since I’m also the one who you claimed to be the father of the non-existent child.” Dee pursed her lips in thought.
Suddenly a hunch and some ideas came to her. She hid her hands from any observers and made a few particular signals with her fingers. Those that had dealings with the underworld of the Pantheon were aware of the signals. Signals like these allowed the criminals to do their business in plain sight of those that wanted to catch them. Even their customers were only aware of the most basic signals. Dee showing these signs to Nessera was a sort of test.
Unknown to Dee her signals also carried another meaning. The criminals and shady people of Pantheon used similar signals to each other, but they used them in very different ways. A cutpurse’s signals could be understood by an information broker or a bookie, but their signals were not the same. One could think of the differences almost like having a regional dialect when speaking. Dee was aware of these differences and knew they could help to identify the nature of the one signaling and knew her signals scared the lesser criminals. No one had bothered to explain the exact reason to her and it wasn’t something you could just ask about. It worked and that was enough for Dee for now.
What Dee wasn’t aware of was just how domineering her signals were. She had been taught by Lord Malik at the specific instruction of the leader of Zabaniya. The leader of Zabaniya had those particular signals taught to her with her future in mind as a potential sharpest weapon of the assassins. The Zabaniya’s signals were already extremely domineering as they were the best assassins around, and the signals taught to Dee were even more so. Of course the signals didn’t specify her exact position, as advertising that to every criminal was foolish. However, she did give the signals of someone holding the lives of everyone in her hands.
While Dee was unaware of the exact emphasis behind her signals, Nessera was not. She wasn’t a stranger to making deals with various people of ill repute. Such people were often in the need of the talents of a mage, especially one that could influence the minds of people. She was quite used to the extra income she gained from such work, which is why she now had trouble keeping up her lavish lifestyle due to her work being scarce. So she recognized the authority behind Dee’s signals and her eyes widened in shock.
What was one of the dealers of death doing among the templar? She didn’t doubt for a second that Dee was what the signals claimed her to be. There was an air of death around the girl that she had not noted before. What she had noted was the cat like grace the girl moved with while she entered the room, as well as several hidden weapons around her person. And the girl was strong! She had not really paid attention to it as there were lots of strong people in the Radiant Sun headquarters, but one so young? No wonder the girl was ranked first among the recruits. And she had tried to scam the order using the girl’s name?
Nessera gave a small shudder while giving the acquiescing signals that indicated her agreement and submission. At worst she had thought she would get a slap on the wrist for this, not get her head chopped of by an assassin. Better to submit than end up dead in a ditch somewhere.
Dee on the other hand was quite satisfied. She needed information. The succubus had the smell of a demon that had seen the hells in person. Despite her appearance, succubi stayed eternally young after all, she was also old enough to have lived before the start of the Holy Purge. That didn’t make the succubus old exactly, just a fair bit older than Dee herself. Even if the woman turned out to be useless when it came to matters of Pantheon, at least she could provide information of the hells and the purge and by extension the angels. Her revenge might still be far away but that didn’t mean she couldn’t start gathering information already. And who knows? A succubus underling might turn out to be useful.
“Well seeing as there has been no real damage done even to my reputation, we don’t need to be too harsh with the punishment. However, it would set a bad example if we didn’t punish you at all for trying to dupe the order. Let’s fit the punishment to the crime. I think a real proper spanking should do it.” Dee grinned while she voiced her thoughts.
She noted the slight flaring of Nessera’s nostril as she said the word spanking. It seems her hunch had been correct. Figures a succubus would enjoy a punishment like that. Dee exited the room briefly to discuss the punishment with the commander, who happened to find the punishment just as amusing as the situation in general. Getting her approval was rather easy. She had to observe the punishment though to make sure Dee had the required nature to administer such punishments. Luthana wasn’t really worried about Dee in particular, but some people got squeamish when it came to punishing pretty girls. A cold blooded killer on the battlefield might be unable to do it when it came time to punish a pretty girl, which led to holding back. Inflicting harm on a person who isn’t able to resist is quite different from fighting for your life after all.
They decided the punishment didn’t need to be public though, considering the circumstances. Thus Dee returned to the room to administer said punishment. “Well then, we can get to it immediately. Robe off and hold on to the table. You are free to scream as the only people close enough to hear are me and the commander making sure the punishment is carried out properly.”
It didn’t come as a surprise that the undergarments worn by a succubus were rather skimpy. Normally mages wore something besides their undies under the robes as well, but not this mage of course. Her bra barely covered anything and the panties were non-existent. It was the first time Dee actually saw anything quite like this, as luxurious underwear like this was fairly rare unless one worked in a business that called for such things. Nessera herself was glad that she’d left her usual garter getup home this time. She had been portraying the role of grieving girlfriend after all.
Dee had to give a slight sigh of admiration as the succubus bent over the table. It was certainly true that succubi could charm even members of their own sex and their bodies were built for it. She was starting to understand why people seemed so fond of looking at her own rear as it was quite similar to the one presented to her for punishment, minus the slight fur of course.
The whole room echoed as Dee’s hand slapped on the soft flesh. ‘There’s another difference. She’s a lot softer. Hasn’t been training relentlessly, unlike some other people. Feels kinda nice though.’ Dee wasn’t entirely sure where the last thought had come from. The second slap sounded in the room. She was taking her time with each hit.
The third slap elicited a gasp from Nessera. The succubus might have tried to hide her enjoyment but no one would confuse that gasp to one made from pain. Dee decided she needed put a bit more force behind her strikes. The result wasn’t quite what she hoped it would be. The next strike caused Nessera to buck her back in a wave-like motion. That inadvertently caused Dee’s hand to move on the soft flesh in an almost caressing fashion, which they both quite enjoyed.
Dee noted an interesting smell wafting in the room that she didn’t recognize. Not consciously at least, but it did spur her unconsciously to increase her aggression. Her next strike drew a little bit of blood as her claw nicked the soft flesh. Nessera on the other hand couldn’t stop from giving a moan that was clearly full of pleasure. She found pleasure not just in the pain but from the dominance of the one punishing her. That happened to be one her biggest triggers, which was now hit by Dee’s actions as well as her power over her. She also remembered that slight unexplained instinct of submission that had hit her as soon as she saw the girl.
The next twenty minutes held one of the most severe spankings ever given inside the order facility, and was also one of the least punishing punishments ever given. Nessera was panting on the floor, blood trickling from numerous very superficial wounds, but feeling extremely satisfied. That had been one of the best spankings she’d ever received. Too bad there was no escalation of festivities following right after.
As Dee exited the room she found Commander Luthana having a coughing fit from laughing too much. “You seem to be enjoying yourself.”
That brought another fit of giggles as the commander replied. “You’re one to speak! That can’t be called a real punishment, that was…I’m not even sure I can call it foreplay anymore. You two certainly enjoyed yourselves, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of the punishment. The whole hallway stinks of sex!”
‘Ah, so that’s what the smell was.’ Dee thought to herself. She noted that her hand was moist down to her forearm and not from blood, although her claws did have a bit of that as well. The commander was right. She HAD enjoyed herself, and quite a bit at that. She idly wondered what part of the whole process had been the most enjoyable. The feel of the soft flesh was certainly nice. Dee also had to admit that the position of dominance and the process of causing pain and pleasure at the same time had also been major factors.
“You might want to head to a shower before you go anywhere else. Everyone who comes within five mel of you will notice the smell. I’ll deal with her.” The commander urged with another chuckle.
Dee had just come out of the showers and was changing clothes as a messenger came to get her. The message was to report at the designated place with ‘every item she didn’t want to lose’. That was odd enough but the designated place was a café outside the headquarters and fairly close to the teleportation gates. That was highly suspicious.
The packing part was easy as Dee already kept all her possessions inside Croestia’s storage space. This was messing up her plans though, as she had been planning on having a discussion with the succubus later on, and now it seemed she was going somewhere far away for a fairly long time. Why else would she be ordered to take along her important items? Obviously she wasn’t going to be coming back for a while.
She’d had a long day already but it seemed to be getting longer. She hadn’t had much time to rest during her little game of cat and mouse with the elven army, so even her formidable stamina was running low. She had actually been looking forward to having a proper rest after reporting in, but now it seemed that wasn’t in the cards just yet.
Dee’s eye twitched a little as she noted Nessera’s figure sitting gingerly at a table of the café where she was supposed to report to. It was fairly obvious though that she wasn’t the one who asked Dee to come there, and neither was Commander Luthana who was also sitting at the same table wearing a serious expression. What really drew the eye was the third person sitting at the table.
The man drew the eye of everyone in the surroundings, yet at the same time everyone was trying to avoid looking at him. Dee would describe him as extremely handsome in the pretty boy kind of way that was often seen in elves and other similar races. His features were sharp, unblemished and perfectly symmetrical, and his golden blond hair was at medium length with its wavy form pulled back in a fairly clean and simple style. The pair of fairly impressive antlers reminiscent of the serpentine dragons on his head made it obvious that this was no elf. His attractiveness was obvious and was the reason he drew looks from those around him.
What made people avert their eyes was the obvious aura of power that radiated from him. Dee had very little experience dealing with immortals, but just the aura of this person made it obvious she was seeing one right now. Another thing that confused Dee was that she couldn’t see the flow of power inside the man. She was so used to her ability that she was a little lost without it. She was more used to recognizing people’s races by that power rather than their appearance, since the appearance could lie. As such she had no idea what race this man was a part of.
The man gestured for Dee to take the seat opposite him. Luthana and Nessera where on her sides around the small round table, and a drink and a pastry had already been ordered and placed in front of her seat. Dee noted idly that both where among her favorites, hot chocolate and a pastry filled with chieberries. She wasn’t sure she was all that happy that someone knew her tastes so well.
The man made another gesture to urge Commander Luthana to speak. “Recruit Haydee, your training period within the headquarters has come to an end. As the first ranked recruit normally at this point we’d allow you to pick your assignment and perhaps even present you with those willing to take you under their wing. However that has already been decided for you. From what I hear you had already expressed your agreement with the plan before the tests, so this shouldn’t be too much of a shock. Effective immediately you are assigned to the scout unit of the order, specifically under the tutelage of the Blade Razark di Ashiesha.” Luthana then looked at the man sitting next to her.
The man looked at Dee. “Your tutelage starts immediately. Normally there should’ve been another mission for you to perform before I took you in, but the circumstances won’t allow it. You see, the location where we will start your…education is a little special and access to the place is limited. I’m aware you were planning on acquiring certain information from this lady over here.” The man gestured towards Nessera. “So we will be taking her along. We wouldn’t want you distracted and she has graciously agreed to our terms.”
Dee noted that the succubus gave a small shiver, not from pleasure this time, and knew she had not actually been given a choice. She was still getting something out of this as she didn’t seem completely unwilling.
“I’m ready to go then.” Dee replied. “Where are we going?” Dee asked as they got up and started moving towards the portals.
“Time for the first lesson I suppose. Your abilities of detection are wonderful, however your range is woefully inadequate. Me and my subordinates have taken turns to keep an eye on you for months, long before your visit home to see your…shall we say stepsister. In this time we have noted several problems. The problems are mostly the result of your previous training that was, from what I hear, rather brutally beaten into you. That has formed your character and behavior so far. There are many good things about both, especially your stealth abilities, but there are several bad things as well. These bad habits and behaviors need to be unlearned.” The man’s voice was firm but almost gentle. It also had hints of a life lived with hardship.
“Uh, what sort of things and unlearned how?” Dee asked warily.
“The biggest problem you have is that you hold yourself back in many ways to hide your abilities. This can be good in places since you shouldn’t advertise your abilities to everyone, but it has also limited and stunted your growth. You’ve taken the secrecy to such extremes that now it’s doing more harm than good. You haven’t properly trained and aren’t properly utilizing many of your strengths just because you want to keep those abilities a secret in battle.
“For example, you’re not using your second pair of arms properly because you’d rather use them to surprise your opponent. You’re throwing away something that would be an advantage in ninety-nine fights out of a hundred in order to gain a surprise win in one battle our of hundred. You’ll most likely crush your enemy in that one fight, but even in that one fight those arms would be an advantage even if they were not a surprise, just a slightly smaller advantage. That is not worth throwing away the advantage in all the other fights.” The man explained.
They stepped through the portal at the same time Razark finished his explanation. The first thing Dee noticed about the new location was the thin air she was breathing in. They were at a very high altitude. Extremely high considering even she was affected. Her lungs had been modified by the assassins after all. This was the first time she had such trouble with her breathing. Nessera had already slumped on the ground gasping for breath. The man seemed wholly unaffected which didn’t surprise Dee at all for some reason.
Second thing Dee noticed was that they were fairly close to the edge of something that looked like a cliff. She moved slightly closer to the edge and noticed the clouds far below of their current position. ‘Well I guess that proves the altitude thing.’ She thought while noting a set of seemingly endless stone stairs disappearing into the mist of the cloud cover. She turned and looked around her in more detail, and noted that the mountain they were standing on had a weird curvature to it. They seemed to be near the top of the mountain but the mountain itself carried on endlessly in both directions. This was a big mountain, bigger than anything she had seen so far, with the possible exception of the walls separating the circles within the two cities.
Once the succubus had managed enough air in her lungs to move, the trio went up the stone stairs towards the peak of the mountain. Once they reached the top understanding finally dawned on Dee. They weren’t really on the top of a mountain, instead they were at the edge of the caldera of an enormous dormant volcano. The reason the walls earlier seemed endless was because the edge of the volcano disappeared over the horizon in both directions showing just how enormous the caldera and the volcano itself were.
The caldera itself showed that his particular volcano had not erupted in ages, as there was endless greenery growing within, and there were even signs of animals here and there as well as several lakes. There were also several tilled fields that apparently supplied the temple that was near the trio on the inner edge of the caldera. The temples seemed fairly simple and austere with little to no decorations, but there were several stone stages and what could only be described as training grounds nearby. The training grounds seemed to have several individuals moving through forms in unison. The temple itself was made of several pagodas surrounding a central shrine with several stone lanterns lining the paths.
The next thing Dee noted was the sky. It was already getting dark, which by itself hinted that they were not in Day city anymore. The suns didn’t really set during the summer of the Day city. This was reinforced by the location of the suns visible near the horizon. However, this didn’t seem to be in the Night city either as several suns were still visible simultaneously. Were they in the great wilderness between the cities? That seemed strange.
Suddenly something occurred to Dee. “I noticed that you didn’t answer my second question. How would you go about making me unlearn the things you mentioned?” Something like what the man had talked about was already ingrained in Dee.
The man gave a slight smile. “Took you long enough to notice. Something that has taken time and severe beatings to learn can only be unlearned the same way. Here you will be broken down until you can be rebuilt with the bad habits gone, or at least modified. Oh, just in case you were planning on escaping, there’s a reason why we had to come here right now. This place is protected by extremely powerful wards, and they only open once a year. There’s no way to use the portals to come here during this time, and I would not recommend trying to run either. You probably already noticed that we are surrounded by the great wilderness. And that’s assuming you would get down the mountain in the first place. The only people who can leave are immortals and those with special means.”
Dee had a bad feeling about this.
The man continued. “I don’t have the time to dedicate for making sure you unlearn all the bad habits you need to unlearn, and that task will be rather repetitive anyway, so I brought you to someone I know will do it for me. Someone who absolutely hates such untapped potential going to waste. The person who trained me in fact. He loves training people with great potential, and he’ll simply adore you. I doubt the feeling will be mutual. You’ll also get to meet one of your old friends as well.”
Dee had a very bad feeling about this.