Nine Iron Void, Part Two

(A Love Story in the Deeps)


They stayed in Arden for a long while, in their dreams and dalliances. It was a breakthrough for him, but at the same time also a block, of sorts. He'd managed to remember that place, and liked it so much that for a while it just seemed like he didn't want to bother to go from there.

In the meantime, there were some other concerns....

"You'd best move elsewhere," Mistress Yani warned her one day. "I think Namura might have finally heard about your little find, so it may not be safe to stay there. At least, find a safer place to stay."

But where to go? the marilith wondered, on the way back to her...their shelter. This region of the Abyss was where she'd spent just about all her life so far. Moriya had also seemed to have grown comfortable there, after a whole year. Actually a little longer, in fact. He'd wandered out and about sometimes, though never too far and always in her company. Not that there was too much to see, naturally, but moving around like that was refreshing.

Later that cycle, as she lay in his arms, sweaty and tousled, she said, quietly, "Mistress Yani said that we might want to pick up and go somewhere else. Master Namura might be onto you, with his little feud and all."

He tensed slightly; she could feel his muscles shift uneasily. "I...if she thinks so, then...."

"I don't think I want to either, but she usually gives good advice." The marilith turned to kiss him lightly on the lips. "I like it here. But I think I like living more. And having you with me."

He laughed quietly and ran his fingers through her hair. "Isn't it difficult, Mitsune? I mean, putting up with me and my...my brokenness."

She barely winced this time. "A bit, but I think it's worth it. Good, regular sex makes a lot of things more bearable."

There was a quiet snort from him. "I thought it was my winning personality."

"Your winning personality is mostly that of a great horndog."

"Hmph."

She giggled and snuggled up to him. "Not that I'm arguing, of course."

They lay there quietly, for a while, simply reveling in the warmth and closeness. And then....

He started to speak. He spoke a story, told in a cadence that mesmerized her, about a beautiful woman in a land of warriors. She loved one of those warriors, and traveled to find him after he had been called away to battle, only to find him dying in the field, struck down after he himself had slain many enemies. She could not save him, but was granted the gift of hearing his dying words, swearing his love for her, and she swearing the same. And then she returned to her home, where she lit incense for him, prayed, and fell asleep. She would never awaken, but instead her soul left her body to join him in the heavens, where they would be together.

The marilith found herself crying softly into his shoulder as Moriya finished. "How did...where did that come from?" she managed, between quiet sobs. Tears were not particularly familiar to her.

After a moment of hesitation, he answered, voice uneven, "I'm not sure. It just happened. I mean...I think I've heard the story before. The woman and her love. At least, something like it. But...."

She took a deep breath to steady herself. "It was beautiful. Your poem."

He sighed. "I wish I knew more."

"Could you tell more stories like that?"

"I...I think so." He reached up to wipe the tears from her cheeks.

She remembered. "Yani said that you were known as a poet."

"I...suppose so."

She smiled, and listened to more of his poems for the rest of the night.

---

There was not much time. But fortunately, there was not much to pack, either. She spared her former home just one backward glance as the two of them began their journey. Maybe she'd be able to return one day. Then she realized: it was just a ruin. One she'd spent many years in, but it was still just a ruin. There were no more glances after that.

Mistress Yani had sent word that there was something odd that most denizens of the Abyss avoided--a large rock of some kind, only with multiple doors on the surface. There was probably good reason for this. On the other hand, if they might be able to secure it for themselves, maybe it would be a good place to stay. It was also not too far, and the marilith still depended on Yani for trade and information. Plus, for certain definitions of the word, Yani was a friend of sorts.

They moved quickly and quietly; she carried most of the baggage in her six arms, while he kept a lookout for any possible threats, his sword drawn. Fortunately, few took any interest in them, and the trip was uneventful. Not only that, but their arrival at the rock that Yani had pointed out was likewise uneventful. There didn't seem to be anything or anyone there.

"It looks very defensible, though having so many entrances may be somewhat troublesome," Moriya said, after assessing the place. "And I couldn't detect any traps or hostile presences around."

"Let's go inside and take a look around."

It was much the same inside. No one was there, save for a few of the less intelligent types of Abyssal creatures, most of which hid as they explored. Some of it was even furnished, although it seemed that the place hadn't been cleaned in a while.

There was also a locked room at the end of a long, long hallway that they couldn't get into.

"This might be why people avoid this place," he said, frowning. "Whatever's behind this...."

"I don't feel anything behind it," she said, though slightly uneasily. "What about you?"

He shook his head. "It's not trapped, just locked very securely, as far as I can tell."

They left the locked room alone for now, and secured the place as best they could with their limited resources. But Moriya was a swordsman and tactician as well as a poet, just as Yani had described, and managed to do so quite well. They found a bed to lie down on and eventually went to sleep.

But, of course, it would not be as simple as that.

They dreamed together, as had become habit for the two of them. As they walked through the great forest, a balding man with a long white beard stepped out from behind a tree and glowered at them.

"Er...hello?" Moriya said. The marilith frowned, realizing this was another mind and not merely another construct of the dream. And something about him told her--be careful around this one.

"And what brings you to my Rock?" the old man asked, without preamble.

"We're looking for a safe place to live," she answered quickly. "Someone might be after Moriya."

"This place has been empty for thousands of years now, and I don't see any reason why that should have to change."

Moriya looked annoyed. "It's not being used for anything else, is it?"

"Doesn't mean it gives you the right to barge in and take it over!"

The two men glared at each other angrily for a few moments, before the marilith decided to try to step in.

"Please," she said as placatingly as she could, "understand our situation. I'm trying to help Moriya. He's...not well, in mind and spirit. I wouldn't come here with him unless I had good reason. And the reason is, well, there might be someone looking for him. And not in a friendly way. Um. Yes."

She squirmed under the old man's intense gaze, while Moriya went to her side protectively. Abruptly, the old man said, "You're a marilith."

"...yes?"

"I wasn't aware mariliths were interested in charity cases."

"He is not a--Moriya is...I mean...."

"She is the one I love," Moriya said quietly, and her heart skipped a beat. "And the one who loves me, and has cared for me. Even though I was broken. Still am broken. What she is doesn't matter to me. What she means to me is everything."

The piercing look switched targets, but unlike her, Moriya did not flinch. A few more tense moments passed. "I see," the old man murmured. "You're quite a mess."

She bristled, and opened her mouth to interrupt, but was beaten to the reply. "I guess I am. But she's put up with me despite it."

The old man leaned back thoughtfully, stroking his long white beard. "I'll admit, you two are rather unlike the others who have tried to come here and take it as their own. For one, you didn't run away as soon as you saw me in this dream."

"Why would they run?" Moriya asked.

"Because they never saw me as an old man with a long white beard, they saw an angry god come to drive them out."

"What?" She stared in confusion.

"You apparently were not drawn here in search of power, or secret lore, or treasures. There's an old working on this place, you know, to drive off people like that. Important things are stored here, but they aren't for the likes of them."

"I...see." Moriya relaxed slightly, and she felt him place an arm around her waist in this mindscape. She leaned against him gratefully.

"So...what is this place, then?"

The old man chuckled a bit, and a crafty look settled on his face. "For you, it is a place to stay and help your man recover in relative safety. That's really all you need to know, isn't it?"

"Well...yes. I suppose it is."

"In due time, I may let you see what is hidden here. For now...I will allow you two to stay." He paused for a moment, seemed to consider things that were not there. "I see you have taken steps to secure the place. Not entirely necessary, but I like to see people looking out for themselves."

"Thank you," she said, in unison with Moriya. They glanced at each other and smiled, before turning back to the man who was now their host. "What should we call you?"

He waved a hand negligently. "My name is...not important. Just call me the Wizard, if you must. And you two?"

"I am Moriya. And she is Mitsune."

She stared down at where her feet would be if she had feet currently.

"Moriya and...hmmm."

"No, 'Mitsune', not 'hmm'."

She laughed weakly and looked over at Moriya, who grinned back at her, then back to the Wizard, who was giving her that disconcerting gaze again. She shook her head at him, realizing that somehow, he knew. It's okay, she tried to communicate to him. I don't mind.

Ah, but you do, she read in the old man's eyes.

Moriya frowned at this point. "Something the matter?"

The Wizard turned away abruptly. "I'll leave you two to your rest. It's been a while since I've had decent company, but I'll not wear out my welcome." He paused cocking his head. "Odd to say that, I'm the one letting you into my house. But nevertheless. Sleep well, and I will talk to you two again sometime." With that, he vanished behind the tree from which he'd appeared from originally.

"What an odd man." Moriya snorted softly. "'Wizard' indeed."

"Some people, you gain power over them if you know their names," she returned softly, nestling her head against his shoulder.

"Well, it's just a courtesy, I think, to give others your name when they give theirs to you. Though I suppose I understand about the power thing." He sighed. Then frowned again. "What's wrong, Mitsune?"

"Nothing. Just thinking."

"All right."

They woke later, feeling quite refreshed, and began the task of making this place their new home.

---

Sex in a tree is easier with six arms.

She used two hands to get a secure grip on the wide branch that she was on, also using her strong tail to wind around it and anchor her there. This sort of thing was important, even in dreams. Two more held onto his thighs, stroking them occasionally, as he sat on the branch, back against the trunk. A fifth hand held his manhood in place while she sucked and licked it, while the sixth was currently pleasuring herself, dipping into her otherwise human-looking sex, located beneath a set of her scales that slid aside for access.

Moriya's only two hands were occupied with running through her short blond hair, guiding her head as she bobbed up and down over his groin, as he moaned happily. She thought, almost grumpily, that it would be nice if he had a couple more arms. Her nipples could use his expert touch right about now.

Her tongue swirled over his head, which she could feel starting to swell just a bit more, while she caressed his balls lightly with her fingers. Sure enough, he soon gave a hoarse shout and spilled his seed into her mouth, which she swallowed quickly.

As he panted for breath, she smiled at him and slithered up against his chest, pulling her hand away from her womanhood, damp with her fluids. Moriya smiled back, took that hand and started to lick it clean, while she nuzzled his neck and rubbed her breasts against his torso, getting ready for the next round. But then he slowed, and stared at her hand--her hands, rather, with a look of confusion.

"Moriya? What's wrong?" she asked, pausing in her movements.

"You're a marilith," he said.

There was silence.

"Well...yes," she said, slowly, once she'd stopped boggling at him. "I am a marilith."

"Have you...always been one, Mitsune?"

Ah. Hm. "Mmm...what do you think?" she said, cautiously.

He frowned at her, and there was something in his eyes that she didn't really like. "I...I think a marilith did something to me, once."

"Something bad?"

"Yes. And she...did something bad to someone else. Someone important to me."

She nodded wordlessly, her unease growing slightly. This was a possible complication she hadn't foreseen. Especially since, like that first meeting with the Wizard, he had never seemed to mind or even really register her being a marilith--not during sex, nor in everyday life. Such as it was down here.

"She tricked me...tricked him, too...she was the same one, came to make all our lives miserable--"

"Ow, Moriya! You're hurting me!" His hands, now gripping her arms, tightened convulsively.

"Why couldn't she leave him alone?" he shouted suddenly. "She's cursed him to years of loneliness! She trampled on my heart, just to...to do what? To make us suffer?"

She was stronger than him, and could probably break free, but not while up a tall tree in Arden. Even in a dream. "I don't know, Moriya! I don't know! But it wasn't me! Believe me, please." Instead, she tried to pull him into an embrace, ignoring where his nails bit into her flesh.

But he wasn't so easily calmed. "What are you--get off me, damn you! You're not going to trick me again! You're not going to do that to my father again, you bitch--"

She slapped him. Hard. Probably a little harder than she intended initially. But what he said hurt, and though she was not the type to start getting all teary or anything at this, it still pained her to be accused like that by the man she cared about.

"Don't you say that, Moriya, don't you dare," she said, in a low voice, as he stared back at her in vague bewilderment. Her handprint was clearly visible on his cheek. "I am not that marilith, whoever it was. I have spent the last...the last couple of years, now, trying to help you. I would never hurt you or your... your father. Do you understand me?"

He continued staring at her for a while, turmoil churning in his eyes. Then he nodded slowly. "I...okay. But...then--"

She set aside the stick, now offered the carrot. His grip on her had slackened, and she moved up against him again, sliding her arms around him. "Besides," she now continued more gently, "surely, that other marilith didn't make you feel this good?" Her mouth met his in a deep kiss, as her free hands started to roam over his chest and his back and stroked his penis again.

"Actually," Moriya said a bit breathlessly once they'd broken apart, "I think she did kiss me. But she didn't get a chance to touch me like you're doing now. And I didn't touch her either, like this."

She squealed happily as he pinched her nipples, rolling them lightly between his fingers, soon replaced by his mouth. A sigh of pleasure escaped her lips, as she now leaned against the trunk, supporting herself with her arms, and he parted her scales to touch her folds, which were once more growing wet. He was really good at this, just his hands alone. She was familiar with her own body, and had touched herself whenever she had felt the urge with no lovers conveniently nearby over the years, but it seemed like he knew her body even better in just the relatively short while that they'd been together.

Now his tongue was wriggling into her slit, making her gasp and shiver. "How the hell...ah! How do you know how to...to do that to me so damn well?" She dimly realized now that she had two of her her hands running through his hair now, like he'd done to her earlier.

"There's few things I want to do more than to make you feel good," he murmured, grinning. His cool breath blowing over her sensitive lips sent more jolts through her body. And then his gentle nibbles on the bud of flesh just above them sent her over the edge, as she came with a cry. She felt her hips buck against his face, now moistened with her juices, and her hands clenched in his hair. Though she managed not to yank too hard.

Once she regained her senses, she found him kissing her ear, and his stiffened root pressed against her side. "Insatiable," she said, with a quiet grin.

"You know me," he answered. "But you know...."

"What?"

"You created Arden when we made love that one time. And I think I'm beginning to remember something else...."

"Then open your mind to me."

He kissed her, as she maneuvered herself against the trunk of the tree carefully. Again, she grabbed hold of the tree with two arms, raising herself up slightly, while he straddled a portion of her tail, in front of her entrance. She embraced him with her other arms, as he scooted forward and, with deliberate slowness, pierced her body.

As he entered her, she felt a wave of memories, many of them fragmented but nevertheless recognizable. She patched them up as much as she could, and with him, wove the elements into the shared dream. Gold. And then red. Blue, green, white, gray.

She felt his hands squeeze her breasts as they rocked back and forth against each other, cupped his firm rear in response while running her fingers up and down his sides. He was actually a little ticklish, and that sensation made things just a bit more intense for him during lovemaking. As expected, he shuddered a little. She grinned and gazed into his eyes.

Then he lunged forward again, his shaft filling her passage snugly. She whimpered, and her head dipped down to loll against his shoulder. More images formed. Bricks, stone, lumber stacked on top of each other, bound by mortar and vines and ice.

Her vision was fuzzed, but she could see walls rising up far below them. She turned to nip lightly at Moriya's shoulder, then kissed her way up his neck, as he continued thrusting. She squeezed gently, giving him a little more resistance to work through, and he grinned. Slowly, she tightened her hold on the branches above, shifted her grip, and pulled herself higher. He carefully swung his legs back, planting his feet on the branch, and rose as well, staying connected to her, until he was now standing up, pinning her against the trunk. She looped one pair of arms around his waist, to make sure he wouldn't fall, while the tip of her tail lashed around a portion of the branch.

A symbol, planted in the ground. Lines of power running about. His manhood, plunging deep into her core. Five doors, one on each wall of a large building. Her lips crushed against his. Breath burning in her lungs, as her body started to tremble. Vast sky, forest, sea, field of flames, plain of rock. His voice, tight with passion, murmuring in her ear.

She felt him orgasm inside her with one last thrust, and moaned as her own body followed him, twitching involuntarily with release. They held in their standing position for those few precious seconds, and then together sagged back down on the branch, which seemed much wider now. This was fortunate, as her hold on the tree had become a lot weaker.

He remained buried in her warmth, head nestled against hers, catching his breath. She blinked several times, clearing her vision.

"Moriya...why is this tree gold?" she asked.

"The Golden Oak...it was the thing that controlled the shadow."

"This shadow...."

He leaned back and smiled at her. "I think...this is home. My first home. A place called the Keep."

She reached up to touch his face. "And how did you remember it?"

He looked troubled for a moment. "It's my...my father's place," he said, softly. "I was reminded of him, just a tiny bit, when...." He sighed, a bit shamefaced. "Earlier, when I was...confused."

She kissed him, to say that she forgave him. "It's a step, honey. A good one."

"But I still can't remember him. Or anyone else. Just you and me. And places."

They sat there, lost in their musings, allowing their minds to rest as their bodies continued to sleep.

End part two.