Tara Geonette leaned her head back against the wall and pulled in a deep breath.
She’d been six years old when she first realized the pain of others gave her pleasure. Back then, it felt like joy, that moment of happiness one might get from receiving a new toy.
As she’d gotten older, the pleasure it elicited had shifted. An adult body and mind changed things.
As had her understanding of what happiness was.
Lysona’s screaming shifted to guttural outbursts of pain, lower in volume, but richer in intensity.
Bedore was louder now, and happy. He was getting what he wanted. The potion he’d drank encouraged it. Liquid berserker, Tara had thought to call it. It heightened his fertility, of course, as he did need to get Lysona pregnant. Tara’s goal with the potion had been amplifying his violent tendencies, though. Otherwise, she’d have let Lysona give him one of her potions.
Silly of the woman not to question why Tara had handled his potion for their planned night together.
Pain was needed for so many of the spells and rituals for the order’s future. For her future. How perfect then, it brought her pleasure, too.
Standing outside of Lysona’s room, next to the door, was more satisfying than she thought it’d be. She hadn’t decided if it was hearing Lysona suffer or knowing Bedore was about to get his reckoning that made tonight memorable.
They both deserved what they were getting, Tara decided.
Bedore for not being satisfied with what Tara had given him. For not knowing his place. For how his assault of Maline made Tara’s leadership look.
Lysona? For not being a man. For requiring Tara to sacrifice her own interests.
Tara closed her eyes and breathed deep again. She sometimes wondered if the pain of others helped her magic. Perhaps it was a key reason she was so good at it. Something to ponder.
She ran through her plan. She lifted her left hand and brought the first spell up and watched the first tendrils of it float in her hand. The orange glow brought a smile to her face.
She lifted her right hand and formed the second spell. The green glow brought a larger smile to her face. This would be glorious.
She cancelled both spells. She stepped to the door and put her ear to it. She needed to time this right.
Her moment came within minutes. She heard the familiar sounds of Bedore’s climax. He’d finished.
She gave it another minute, then pulled open the door and rushed into Lysona’s room.
She hit Bedore with a telekinesis spell. Most mages could only use telekinesis to move objects. Elevating one’s skill to move living things had taken longer than she thought to learn. This moment made the effort worth it.
Bedore flew off Lysona and landed on the stone floor, sliding close to the window. Tara hit him with a paralyze spell, the other spell she’d been prepared with. His naked body froze in a position she had to restrain herself from laughing at. His knees were splayed out, one arm was raised above his head; the other stuck under his back. For all his chiseled beauty, he look pathetic right now.
The real reward was the frozen look on his face. He could still breath, paralyze spells did not seem to ever stop breathing, and move his eyes. The rest of his face had frozen in surprise and confusion. His eyes shifted to look at her. The fear in his eyes contrasting with the rest of his face was intoxicating. This part of the plan had worked perfectly.
Tara turned away from Bedore. She needed to take care of Lysona. She was bleeding more than Tara had anticipated. She let the shock show on her face. Bedore had always liked to bite, but Tara had not thought the potion would drive him to do so much, in so many places.
The bruising and injuries to Maline paled compared to what Bedore had done to Lysona. No wonder Tara had felt so enraptured outside the room. The pain, physical and mental, emanating from Lysona far exceeded what fire torture gave her in pleasure.
She couldn’t relish it, though. She shifted her shocked face into a look of compassion.
Lysona had backed up on the bed and was crying and screaming. A combination of rage and terror. Sobs and shrieks.
“I’m here. He can’t hurt you anymore,” Tara said. She kept her voice calm, patient, like with the children. Like she had with Maline the day after.
She climbed onto the bed and crawled towards Lysona.
“Don’t…stop…I…” Lysona was pressed against the headboard, as if trying to press herself into it. She’d curled up into the fetal position.
“Shhhh,” Tara soothed. “Let me help you.”
Lysona’s eyes tore into Tara’s. She couldn’t discern all the emotions pouring out of them. Shock? Fear? Confusion? Anger?
“I won’t let him hurt you ever again,” Tara said. She hoped she sounded strong, yet caring. She was next to Lysona now, on her knees. She reached out her hand. An offering. It seemed best to let Lysona initiate any physical contact.
Lysona’s eyes shifted. Tara recognized the pleading look in them. The look of someone desperate to escape the pain and suffering overwhelming them.
“Heal me,” she whispered.
Tara nodded. She looked around Lysona’s room, for the healing potions she knew the woman kept nearby.
Lysona grabbed her outstretched hand. “Heal me,” she said. Her eyes dug.
“I…I can’t,” Tara said. She felt her face flush. She’d still not been able to cast Heal Other on anyone. The one spell that alluded her. She fought back a flash of anger. Lysona wouldn’t know this was Tara’s weakness, her one fault.
She squeezed Lysona’s hand and gave her imploring eyes. “Trust me.”
With her other hand she pulled the two healing potions she’d spotted off a nearby bookcase and drew them to her. They were minor potions. Not enough. Lysona’s nose was broken, and the swelling in her face indicated more damage. Then, there were the deep bite marks and torn skin.
“Drink these first,” Tara said. Lysona dropped Tara’s hand and drank them. Tara reached into her robe’s pockets and pulled out several strong healing potions. She’d hoped not to need them, to use whatever Lysona kept with her. Good she’d planned ahead and brought them, anyway.
While Lysona drank two of the strong healing potions, Tara reached out and pulled towards her a mage robe lying in the chair next to the bed.
“Put this on,” she said, keeping her tone gentle. Lysona nodded and slowly dressed, as if moving her arms was too painful of a motion to rush.
The healing potions were working, though. Her nose had repaired itself, the swelling in her face disappeared. The bite marks had faded; most no longer visible. Dried blood dotted her body, revealing the locations of injuries no longer there.
“Come with me,” Tara said when Lysona had dressed. “Stay in my room tonight. Stay with me.”
Lysona’s mouth dropped open.
“I will keep you safe,” Tara said.
“You’re with me now,” Tara whispered. “Forever.”
Lysona seemed stunned silent.
“Come on.” Tara put her arm around Lysona and guided her off the bed. Lysona stiffened, then shook, at the sight of Bedore, still paralyzed on the floor.
“Is he dead?” Her voice sounded dead.
“Not yet,” Tara said. “Soon.”
She kept her left arm around Lysona’s shoulders as they made their way to Tara’s room. Without saying anything, she cast a calm spell on her with her right hand. A few more mild ones, and perhaps she could get her to sleep tonight.
They didn’t pass anyone on the way to Tara’s room. She’d given everyone the night off from the usual patrols of the tower, to make sure no one else came to Lysona’s rescue.
When they got to the room, Tara guided her to the washing area. A private area where one could actually bathe had been a luxury she’d allowed herself, Lysona, and Bedore to have in their living quarters. The rest of the order used the community bathing room they’d set up in the main house.
Tara’s bath was a large round tub, sitting on a raised stone platform in a small room off from the bedroom. Constructed of wood slats and steel rings, the tub looked like a large wooden bucket, without the handles. Water was already inside the tub, as she’d had Elayne Moorford fill it earlier in the day.
Two metal pails sat by the tub, filled with water. Tara fired a mild flame spell at the pails, quickly heating up the water.
She poured both in the tub, warming the bath.
“Get in. I’ll wash the blood off you,” she said.
Lysona swayed for a moment. Her eyes had a dull, unfocused look. The calm spell had hit her harder than Tara thought it would.
“Let me help,” Tara said. She slid the mage robes off Lysona, then guided her up the small stone steps that made climbing into the tub easy. Tara knelt on the steps while Lysona sat in the tub.
She used the cotton cloth and goat’s milk soap she kept by the tub to gently wash the dried blood off her. She kept her hands away from any sensitive areas. Now was not the time to touch the woman that way.
Tara thought about her children as she bathed Lysona, then washed her hair. She kept her touch soft, delicate, like she’d bathed them as babies. She allowed her fingers to be a little sensual while washing Lysona’s hair. Something to make it appear she cared.
She hit Lysona with another calm spell. Anything to make her more pliable, to feel bonded to Tara. This moment of vulnerability was the time to pull her completely into her sphere and ensure her utter loyalty and trust moving forward.
Lysona seemed to awaken some. She took care of washing her sensitive places.
“My queen,” she finally said. “I’m so sorry.”
“I’m the one who’s sorry,” Tara said. “Let’s get you dried off and into bed.”
She tucked Lysona into her bed. How strange to have a woman where Bedore had once been.
“Drink this.” Tara sat on the edge of the bed and handed her a potion. “It’s like the one you gave Maline. No nightmares.” Lysona greedily drank it and was asleep within a few minutes.
Tara relaxed her face, letting go of the mask of compassion. She checked on the children, quietly looking in on them as she left her room. Part of the lab had been converted to their bedroom. She could keep them close, without having them in her living space as she had when they were babies. It felt good to be past the part of tending to their every need.
Tara made her way back to Lysona’s room. With no one else in the tower, her heels clicking sharply on the stone felt amplified. An announcement of her approach.
Bedore was still paralyzed on the floor. Naked, vulnerable.
Tara let a smile cross her lips as she looked at him. His eyes shifted to her. Rage poured out from them.
His mouth twitched and a groan escaped. The spell was wearing off.
Tara hit him with another paralyze spell, this one less powerful. Enough to enforce the current one while she moved him.
“Ready for your new room?” She grinned at him.
She cast telekinesis on him and used it to drag him behind her, across the stone floor. They made their way down the stairs that led to the basement of the tower. She made sure every step of the stairs caught him. His breathing shifted as he landed roughly, the closest he could get to expressing pain.
The basement consisted of a long hallway, lit by magic torches. Torches she’d treated to only light up when they sensed a presence. They lit, then extinguished, as she and Bedore passed them.
The hall turned sharply to the right and ended at double stone doors. The doors were stunning, Tara thought. She’d had members carve the order’s symbol into them. Impressive to see the symbol so large.
Inside, the room was mostly stone flooring and a blend of stone and cave walls on the side. The back of the room opened into a partially excavated cavern. One lone zombie was digging it out.
“Perfect place, I think,” Tara said. She turned to look at Bedore. Fear had come back into his eyes.
Tara knelt down beside him and brought her lips to his ear.
“So much privacy,” she whispered. “We still have much to do together.”