Staggering out of the parlor, master Jorn forgot everything about reporting on what he had learned from the drug of their competitor. The humiliation of the the whole affair made him dry-heave, which only made his face turn even more red.
The temerity of the woman, to treat him like a common servant… him! There was no way he could let this stand. Ignoring his initial purpose, master Jorn decided it was time he taught the bitch a lesson.
He threw the door open to his laboratory, and was greeted by the sight of something small and white scurrying through his glassware. With a fury, master Jorn raised his hand and drew a magical circle around the offending critter, intending on having it implode on itself.
While his magic was weak, only allowing him to practice the lesser, mystical art of alchemy, he was more than capable of dealing with the filth that might invade his sanctuary. Adding his anger into the mix, he forcefully drew the power out of his inner circuits.
With a roar, he finished the circle, just as the critter turned and looked back at him. The little white rat had eyes of pure crimson, with an expression inhumanly close to mockery on its bestial face.
“You little!” Jorn roared, collapsing the circle. The rat did not even flinch. Instead, its form warped; spikes growing out its back, and plates of armor covering it in an instant. Eyes widening, Jorn recognized the change to late to stop his magic.
“Niling!” He screeched, as the circle shrunk until it touched the body of the rat, whereupon it violently exploded outward, throwing master Jorn back into the wall.
His sight blurry, Jorn could barely make out the little white critter disappearing into the ceiling, through a hole aside a wooden beam. Ears still ringing from the blast, master Jorn shook his head into a semblance of order, and tried to gain his feet.
What the hells is a niling doing here? Although battered, his mind was attempting to make sense of what he had just seen. World’s End is too far away from here for it to have escaped. Did someone bring it?
Unsteadily, Jorn stood up and looked around at the damage. His laboratory was in ruins, with most of his stash spread across the dirt floor. His prized mixture was now decorating the wall, its slimy texture slowly sliding down.
He picked through the items that had survived and was happy to find that some of his more expensive wares had not been completely destroyed. Picking up one item of particular interest, Jorn smiled to himself.
Of all the remedies to survive, master Jorn found it ironic that the one item that Mina had refused to sell in her Purple Palace had come out completely unscathed. With his laboratory now in shambles, and the mistress of the Dun family infuriated at him, he thought it appropriate to use this particular drug to remedy the situation.
He could think on the issue of a niling later — that was not something he could deal with in any case — the more important thing was righting the terrible wrong done to him. Snickering, he tucked the tincture into his inner pocket.
Still grinning, he withdrew the flask with the only remaining portion of his personal mixture and took one last swig. He was going to need it, after all. There was a long night ahead of him.
Lady Mina sighed, as she sat down in her favorite chair, letting the exhaustion of the day pull her further into the soft pillows at her back. Dealing with Jorn was exhausting, and she was beginning to regret her decision to take him in.
Adding to that what— No, no… Don’t think about that, she thought, shaking her head. The day had been eventful, enough that she wanted nothing more than forget about the whole thing. At times like these, she regretted she ever had taken the position as head of the Dun family.
She had fought tooth and nail to keep the position, after she had forcefully taken it from her father, however, she always felt as if there was something missing. Something more important than being the mistress of a whorehouse in the middle of nowhere, something meaningful, which did not merely include spreading your legs to the men who paid the most, but which served a purpose higher than mundane concerns.
As a young girl, she had dreamed of taking the cloth and travel around the land, providing benediction and succor to the unfortunate and the weak. That was so long ago that the thought of her own foolishness made her smile.
“Mistress,” a voice called from the doorway, where a young serving girl stood with a serving tray with a single glass nestled upon it, “You called for wine…?”
“I did?” Lady Mina looked up, eyes drooping from fatigue, “Yes, of course, put it here, dear.”
She shook off sleep, knowing she could not afford to rest just yet. The girl walked to the table beside lady Mina and placed the glass on it, bowing as she back away. Waving her hand at the girl, lady Mina said, “Make sure I am not disturbed for the rest of the evening — not even by master Jorn, understood?”
“Yes, Mistress,” the girl said, curtsying before she left the room. She was alone again. All alone.
Sighing, she took the glass and put it at her lips, sipping at the liquid within. It was her favorite red, laced with a bit of honey for sweetness. She took another sip, then put down the glass and leaned back in her chair — allowing herself to let go of all her worries.
The wine helped, and she was glad she had asked for it, although she could not entirely remember when she had done so. She usually took a glass about this hour, though, so maybe the girl simply remembered.
Yes, that must be it, she thought, pleased at the proactive work of the servant. She would have to keep an eye out for that one in the future, perhaps she could become a leader in the fam—
With a start, she opened her eyes and looked up at the ceiling. She could not move. Her body felt like stone, sinking deeper into the ocean of pillows surrounding her. Every instinct told her to scream, but her mouth was unresponsive, instead it hung slack to the side. The only thing she could control were her eyes.
Those she widened even further, when the door to her room opened and a figure slipped inside. Though it was dark, and only a lamp on the table cast a meager light around her, she recognized the shape that approached.
She recognized it as the shape that had haunted her living nightmare, back when she had barely become a woman. She recognized it as every man who had tried to bed her, only to be rebuffed by her. She recognized it as the vilest human being she knew.
“Ahh… Lady Mina, have you been expecting me?” Said a drolling voice, slithering with barely veiled desire, “No? Well, I think it is about time we take our relationship to the next level. Shake your head if you disagree.”
She tried to shake it. She tried with every inch of her being to mover her head just the slightest bit.
“Of course you agree, I understand. It must have been hard, spending all those nights on your own… it must have been so lonely.” The shadow stepped into the light, revealing master Jorn’s face split with a gleeful smile.
“Worry not, my dear. From now on, you will no longer be alone. You will be mine… all mine.”
He reached out a hand and stroked her cheek, ever so softly, belying the sadistic gleam in his eye. The touch followed the line of her jaw down her neck, closing in on her bosom. His fingers played with the hem of her deep-cut dress.
She wanted to scream as he leaned in close, exposing her nose to the rank stench of his unclean clothes and unwashed body. “I’m going to enjoy this,” he whispered, then took hold of her dress and ripped it apart.
Unable to offer the least bit of resistance, all she could to was eye the man with all the hatred she could muster. Master Jorn responded with a vicious smile, as he drew back to admire the prize before him.
Seeing the futility, lady Mina instead closed her eyes, hiding the tears threatening to expose how afraid she was. She had been warned about this, and yet she had not listened.
“I don’t know why it took me so long,” he said cupping her exposed breast with his hand, “It would have been so much easi—” Master Jorn’s stopped mid-sentence, his voice cut off with no apparent reason.
Lady Mina opened her eyes again, and looked straight into the surprised face of master Jorn, holding onto his throat using both hands, as if his life depended on it.
Eyes bulging outward, and face turning a dangerous shade of purple, she saw the light in his eyes slowly dwindle, until it finally went out, and the man collapsed onto the ground, body convulsing.
“Finally,” another voice, one recently familiar to her, said, “I was beginning to think I’d have to sit through that entire, vile display of procreation.”
From behind the man, another figure emerged, a smaller one with a nondescript face hidden within a cowl. On its shoulder, a white rat peeked out hissing when it looked down on the still-convulsing body on the ground.
Sickly yellow eyes looked at her from within that darkness, and a set of silvery teeth flashed when the figure grinned. “See, lady Mina, what did I tell you?”