A stone-throw away from dark mountains scratching at the night skies with white tipped fingers, and half nestled in their wooded and green skirts, lies the town of Eloh. It’s an important town if you ask some. Less so if you ask others, especially those who can’t fathom a thing in the North to have much value at all. Though it’s important enough to have grown a thick wall, a keep, and a castle. The latter of which sits wedged right into the steep slopes of a mountain, up high enough to overlook Eloh like a hawk mother keeping a watchful eye on its nest.
It looks out far, that castle. Looks out over the tall temple amidst shingled roofs in the north-most half, and the imposing keep right at the centre, like a heart hewn out of dark rock. And it gazes further on still, over the thatched roofs in the south, where the ground evens out and Eloh spreads into the flat Plains of Illikon.
Day or night, the castle watches. Even as its town slumbers.
Well. Slumbers for the most part.
Sleeping was, if you asked Sadja, a thing best done when you’d run out of better things to do.
Like standing here, in that half-open window, looking up across Eloh and at the beads of light winking back down from the Marks’ castle. Fair, it wasn’t particularly exciting, but the view was nice. Certainly beat the dark forest of the Shadowvale, for one. Those forests with all their long-limbed, dead trees and all those— those— shadows. They were everywhere, really. The shadows. Almost like it was in the name, yeah?
She puffed out her cheeks. Leaned into the window, hands on the sill, and peered down at the cobbled streets. There was a torch walking by underneath. Well, technically it wasn’t walking, but bobbing about listlessly as it got carried by a watchman. A, she wagered, bored and tired watchman, who might have his night made if she called down to him and he could get an eyeful of wood elf tits?
Since all she had on her right now was the night air nipping at her entirely and absolutely bare skin. Which meant she was naked, for those maybe not paying attention, with nothing but the touch of her braid on her back. That, and a lingering shroud of sweet vanilla and cinnamon, a scent she could get used to. Very used to. Never-leave-behind sort of used to, because who in their right mind would willingly trade that for whatever it was shadows smelled of?
Dirt. That’s what they smelled of, by the by. Dirt and mud and rotting bark and old, stale things that whispered forgotten secrets—
“Arrowbait… that’s cute. They really call you that?”
Sadja cocked her head, and, with the watchman already forgotten, turned around.
Lucilia, still tucked into the silken sheets of the wide bed in her entirely too wide room full of entirely too many things, looked back at her with a puzzled, arched brow.
“Uh huh,” Sadja clarified. “They call me that. And sometimes they call me back to bed, too.”
“ Why? Because I’m fun in it,” she said, covering the distance to said bed with a few light steps and folding forward to press her palms against the entirely too soft mattress that was also entirely too bouncy. Or just bouncy enough. “Haven’t you noticed?”
Lucilia, once again, looked momentarily like someone had stolen her nut. As if she was a small squirrel that’d lost something important, rather than an entirely too tall Imperial woman with entirely too large breasts.
Not that Sadja minded any.
She might have thought, maybe once (or twice, or three times, or maybe she was thinking it right now too), that it wasn’t fair how she got to have these massive tits, while Sadja had got stuck with— well— this. This lack of volume. But she’d got over it, okay?
Lucilia— Squirrila? — found her nut again and threw her a slow, red-lipped smile. She had colour on them. On her lips. It tasted of a fruit Sadja’d never heard of before until she’d got some on the tip of her tongue.
“Oh, I noticed,” Lucilia, Squirrila, said, “but why do they call you that. Arrowbait.”
“Because I’m a hoot . ”
“Aren’t you wood elves all supposed to be—“ Squirrila gestured vaguely, while Sadja flopped down on the bed to stick her nose under the covers. Then her head and her shoulders and the rest of her, until she was all wrapped up in the soft, warm fabric that smelled of all manners of things that weren’t dirt.
Back out on the other end, she turned onto her back, sinking into a pillow that liked to poke at her with its down feather stuffing. Much better than rough, scratchy linen that sometimes felt like they’d got soaked in shadows for all the good it did trying to beat the gloom out of them. And all the while, Squirrila looked on as if she was waiting to have her sentence finished. Probably was worried she’d offend this particular wood elf and get herself cursed or some-such nonsense.
Maybe got her tits shrunk for the offence?
“Guess,” Sadja said and tickled at Squirrila’s plump, well-fed side. Imperials liked to eat, she’d figured that out quick. “Guess why they call me that.”
Hehe. Squirrila. The more often she tried it on, the better it fit. Perfect really, and Sadja wondered what Lucilia would have to say about it. Probably not much. Probably she’d blush and drop that proverbial nut again. She did that all too frequently, and every time the nut bounced, she looked so confused and out at sea, Sadja almost felt guilty.
Almost. The faintest idea of guilt. Probably as much as a farmer felt for working an ox in front of a plough for a little too long. Though, much like the ox, who got fed and watered after (or so Sadja really hoped), Squirrila got something out of this arrangement too.
“You like getting shot at?” Squirrila guessed after thinking on it real hard for a while. “Is that it?”
A shrug. “Don’t mind it.”
“Who doesn't mind getting shot at? That’s insane.”
Another shrug, and a challenging little smirk to go with it, right along with another tickle.
“Is that it? You’re— you’re—“
Oh poor little Squirrila.
“Barmy. Positively unhinged. All manners of mad .” With that, Sadja pounced the unsuspecting thing, all gracing teeth and a delighted tangle of limbs that ended only once she was down there, hugging the Imperial’s wide hips, the blanket awkwardly wrapped around them.
“You’re fucking with me,” innocent Squirrila said.
Sadja promptly snorted and arched a brow at her, because really then?
Squirrila, in turn, swatted her gently over the head and then proceeded to flush a pretty red on those sharp Imperial cheekbones of hers. By Freyja’s lovely ankles, Imperials really were pretty.
“You know what I mean. You’re teasing. ”
Another arched brow, another blush.
“Mh. I am, and I’m not. You should believe me though, yeah? Like me to prove it?”
“Just how nutty I am.”
“And how do you suggest you’ll do that? Steal one of the Marks’ slippers from their bedroom while they sleep? Because that’d be insane. ”
Sadja stared. “Maybe.”
Squirrila gave a short, polite kind of laugh. “No. Don’t do that. You’d not make it within eyesight of the castle before they catch you.”
“No— no— no, that’s a terrible idea.”
“Then give me a better one. What about their keep? They’ve got a whole lot of useless old shite stashed in there, there’s got to be something you want. A dusty painting? Or a waggon wheel from when you Imperials came up here to be all important. You’ll believe me then.”
“Hey, it’s a nice keep. And they have a lot more in there than old shite . And none of it is dusty.”
“Mhmm, ‘cause you’re so good at dusting.” Sadja propped herself up on her elbows a little and wiggled a finger over the light, curly hair peeking out from under the blanket barely covering Squirrila from the hip down.
“I am.” A pause, and Sadja had to fight back a triumphant grin.
Since just like that, Lucilia something-something-or-the-other, curator of pretty baubles and treasures at the Marks keep of all things worth keeping, had gone and scooped up the carefully laid out bait like it was the nicest of all nuts off the best of all trees.
Good, because Sadja had worked hard on that nut. For days and nights she’d worked it. Carefully.
“Alright,” Squirrila said, nut good at whisked away, “maybe not any slippers and no wagon wheels. But what about an arrowhead?”
“Poetic. Though who’d miss an arrowhead of all things?”
Squirrila’s eyes widened. “Hells, no! You’re not supposed to keep it. I’ll put it back before they know it’s gone.”
Sadja pouted. “Oh.” Sure. Of course. “Well, okay.”
“But you shouldn’t.” Squirrila’s slender brows (because she trimmed them, who did that?) arched prettily and her lips pulled up in a smile. “You really shouldn’t. Forget I said anything at all because there’s no way you get up that tower.”
With a wink, Sadja pulled herself forward, up over Lucilia’s barely covered hips, and up and up and up until her nose bumped against the curve of her neck. Tasting just once, a teasing flick of her tongue that came away with a touch of sweet vanilla, she grinned into all that soft and warm skin.
“I’m good at climbing. Real good.”
“But what if you fall? I’d hate to see you break any bones.”
Scoffing, Sadja hitched up higher still, until her teeth found a prettily jewelled earlobe to nip at, which all but dragged a soft moan from this good and proper Imperial chest.
“I fall even better.”