The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive


The long boat cut effortlessly through the grey ocean, propelled by both its square sail and oars. Alif sat on the long neck of the dragon carved out of the ship’s bow, riding it like a stallion.. It was another glorious day at sea. Southerners would call it cold, but it was the height of the short summer. In a few weeks the storms would return, first with rain, then with snow and sleet. The long boats would still go out raiding, but her father the Thane would make her stay home. She closed her eyes as the prow hit a large wave, throwing cold sea water at her face.


She opened her eyes and turned and looked back at the boat’s raised forecastle platform. She laughed.

“Sandor, my friend, you truly are overdressed.” He stood on the platform in his long healer robes. " I can have someone get you sea breeches and boots.” She swung her left leg over the dragon neck, and jumped to the forecastle , her bare soles flat on the wooden deck and her knees bent like a seasoned sailor.

Sandor ignored her offer. “How do you feel, My Lady?

“I told you, I’m no Lady, not here.”

“All right, How do you feel. Alif?

“ seems more real every time.”

There was a pause, and the Healer said: “You know this is not real?”

“Of could it be?”

* * *

Sandor stood up, careful to avoid the spinning jewel suspended over Alif’s face. He was once again impressed by the young woman. Deep in his Art’s spell, it was remarkable that Alif still had such a level of awareness. She had a remarkable mind and spirit. She truly deserved to be a real queen, not tyrant’s toy or a spy’s puppet. But, that was what fate had in store for her, and there was nothing he could do about it.

“You’re right Alif. It’s just my way to bring some joy to you.”

The girl lay on the rug, her long legs stretched out, her head slightly raised on pillows. Her eyes were closed, but she spoke as if awake.

“And I appreciate it Sandor.....I do. You do so much for me. And you are going to bring me home, real home, I know you will.”

Sandor swallowed, and felt a pain in his chest. “Yes....I will. Of course, everything depends on you doing the things you need to do.”

“I understand, Sandor. And I am doing as you asked. I’ve stopped going to the oil shop so you and I can spend more time on Moon Day. I’m trying harder to fit in as a High Slave. Mistress Aiko says I’m showing promise in my dancing. I’ve been even smiling at that pig Teroshi when he says I’m pretty. It’s just...just....Can’t you tell me when I’m going home?”

“Soon, but there is much more we have to do here.” He returned to his cushions and sat cross legged. Picking up her feet, he began massaging them again. “Alif...time to go deeper now. That’s it, deeper and ever deeper.” The young woman’s face relaxed even more, and her breathing slowed. Her head seemed to sink further into her pillows.

“Alif...what is it you want most?”

“ go home.” Unlike before, her voice had no emotion, and was barely above a whisper.

“And how can that happen?”

“Sandor.....only Sandor.”

“What must you do to go home?”

“All that Sandor asks.”

“And what have I asked of you?”

“To get close to the High Teroshi, gain his trust.”


“To learn his secrets....and when you kill him.”

* * *

Jugal struggled to keep pace with Captain Heer. Kiga, his bookkeeping slave, kept a respectful distance. The Market Teer had been surprised when the guardsman had asked him to join him in a walk around the fountain. He had not objected when Jugal motioned for his slave to join them. They walked around the great fountain, with the Market Teer nervously making conversation, occasionally asking Kiga to supply a fact such as the amount of water used each day. The lethal looking man said nothing until they found themselves in an empty space somewhat hidden from the Temple and market crowd. He stopped and said with a smile:

“I must say......the Teroshi is pleased with how well you and your market take care of his High Slaves each Moon Day.”

The Teer bowed his head as he waddled up to him. “It is our honor to host them, Captain. They do seem to enjoy themselves.”

The Captain frowned. “One thing concerns me, though. Alif, you know.... the tall blonde one, seems to spend much time in a certain healer’s tent.”

Jugal hid his alarm. “Oh yes.....I know this healer...Sandor. His treatment is very popular with the ladies. My wives have seen him, and swear by his skill. He’s been so successful, I’ve moved him into a shop space.”

“So I hear. But here’s the odd thing...I stopped by the Palace Registry for New Merchants and Tradesmen, and they had no record of even an application from this Sandor. I thought all who plied their trade in your jurisdiction had to go through their office, Teer?” As he said this, he drew a dagger from his belt in a manner that the Teer could not see.

Jugal stood there moving his lips, struggling for words. Then, Kiga came to his rescue.

“Master....excuse....It’s my fault.....Remember, you granted Sandor a temporary license, as you are allowed? I forgot to register it at the Palace ...please forgive me...”

Jugal thanked the gods for the quick thinking bookkeeper’s lie. To keep up appearances he tried to sound furious with the slave. “Yes...well,..Kiga....You have earned a beating tonight. Now, Captain.....”

Heer was a blur of motion as he spun around and leaped at Kiga, cutting the slave’s throat. Blood sprayed into the face of the Teer and he bookkeeper fell in a clump. Jugal began to shake and wetness began speeding across the crouch of his black trousers. He stood there frozen as the Captain strode over. He casually wiped the blade on the Teer’s chest. “Well, that explains that mystery. I hope you don’t mind me taking the liberty to discipline him for you.”

Jugal’s lips moved, but no sound came out.

“Tell me, Honored Teer, at least you confirmed he was a healer by checking his Mark? You at least did do that before letting the man treat a High Slave? Or have you let your Teeko pipe totally rot your brain?”

Jugal began to cry. Heer stepped over Kiga’s body and walked back towards the platform.

“No?......well then I suppose it’s time of me to meet this esteemed Healer myself.”

* * *

Sandor snapped his fingers, and after a moment Alif sat up.

“How do you feel?” Sandor handed the girl a cup of water as he asked.

“ always. Like I said, my breathing is so much better. And now I know there’s hope, sometimes....I’m almost happy.

Sandor smile. The grin faded when he heard a familiar voice yell from outside. “Sister....are you in there?”

The voice was Tanna, the tavern wench. He had noticed weeks ago that Alif was being covertly shadowed, usually by one of the liter slaves. He had started stationing his thralls outside the shop as lookouts should the shadower get close enough to eavesdrop on Alif’s “treatments”. He turned towards the door just as the leader of the Royal Guard entered. Alif spoke first.

“ I late?” She stood up quickly, her head bowed down. She spoke slowly, as if the Valayshi words came with difficulty.

The scarred man smiled. “No My Lady...not at all. You’ve been spending so much time with this healer....I am worried about your health.”

“Hard to breath here for Korgirians...Master Healer helps me.”

“Wonderful! A tad unorthodox to treat here instead of with the Royal Healer, but if it works.....I have no issue. My Lady, if you could excuse us....I have a professional matter to discuss with this fine healer.”

Alif nervously looked to Sandor, who slightly nodded his head. Alif found her small purse, paid Sandor his fee, nodded to the two men, and left.

Sandor finally spoke. “ can I help you?”

“The Lady Alif is dear to our Teroshi.......Imagine my concern when I found her trusted healer never presented himself at the palace registry office but instead bribed that fat fool of a Teer for market space.”

Sandor maintained iron control over his face, though inside he was dying. “I’m confused, Captain.....the Teer assured me that paying him sufficed..I am not from your beautiful city and relied upon your official......I have the license here. Regarding your concern, I am sure you know as a member of Healing Guild I can do no harm to the lady Alif, nor have any agenda other than her well being.”

“Of course. We all know how dedicated healers are. So long as they actually are healers. Now, with that thought in mind, I had our Royal Healer consult your Guild’s Book of Enlistment, and he found there was indeed a ‘Sandor’ fitting your description. Remarkable book. It even has drawings of each healer’s Mark.” Heer took out a parchment, with an intricate, circular drawing. “Please do me the service of showing me if this drawing does your Mark justice.”

Sandor, wordlessly untied his tunic and bared his chest. His Mark was only different than the drawing in size and in the vibrancy of its colors. Every Healer had one, done by themselves in excruciating pain. This was the final test in becoming a Master Healer, one that many did not pass or survive. It assured that the healer had sufficient surgical skill and, more importantly, understood suffering. It assured the patient that he or she was in the hands of one only devoted to their health.

Sandor detected a bit of disappointment in the scar faced soldier’s face. He spent a moment comparing Sandor’s mark with the drawing, then felt the raised ridges confirming it was not simply drawn. A combination of scars, tattoos and burns, the Mark covered most of his chest. Heer then looked the healer in the eye. He took a breath, and made his voice cordial, almost apologetic.

“You understand, Master cannot take chances when it comes to the Teroshi’s High Slaves...he treasures them.”

Sandor tied his tunic. “No offense taken, we all have our duties, sir. I take it I may continue with my practice, including Lady Alif?”

“Of course. I will inform the palace registry you have been sufficiently vetted to receive the proper license.” With that, the Captain headed for the exit.

“Thank you, Captain.”

As soon as the soldier had left, Sandor sat heavily on the floor. His hands were shaking, and he did a breathing exercise to calm himself. He had been groomed for decades for this purpose, studying the healing science and then the Art. The finishing touch had been, of course, the Mark. It had taken over three weeks for him to create it. It was three years after that that the Brotherhood found the dead healer for him to replace.

Receiving the Mark had nearly killed him, but it had just proven its value.

* * *

Things were going well for Sandor. He noticed that either Alif was no longer being followed, or her shadowers had grown more adept. Trying with all his skill, he detected no more surveillance on the girl. He had received his official license as the Captain had promised. His reputation in the city had grown, and now he had over a hundred Valayshi women under his influence. Even two other High Slaves, both northerners like Alif, sought aid for their breathing problems.

As Sandor walked through the market place, he had disquieting thoughts, however. Grain and dried meat prices were rising every week, though no word had come through of any blight. Less ships were to be seen in port, as if they had been diverted elsewhere. Most troubling was the word from his prostitutes that foreign mercenaries were increasingly seeking their services. In fact, a rowdy company of sell swords, newly paid, had just gone through the market. A highborn patient married to a rich banker told him in trance of how the Palace was pressuring the Banking Caste for loans. Singly, none of these things were that concerning. Together, they suggested one probable thing.

The Valayshi were going to War again.

Sandor’s best guess was that the Teroshi’s limited patience had finally been exhausted by the rebellious North. He thought the likelihood of conflict was important enough to chance a report to his superiors. Today, he would find out their answer.

Sandor strode into the book shop, and and saw there were few customers looking at the scrolls lining the walls. A Valayshi woman who appeared a well preserved forty years old called out the traditional: “Greetings Honored Customer”. The formality out of the way, she then smiled warmly, and said: “Master Healer, the ankle pain is nearly can I thank you?”

Sandor looked around, making sure there were no other ears close by.

“Well there’s a special book I’m looking for.....’The Ballad of Celamasu’.” He said the title slowly and distinctly.

The shopkeeper blinked twice, and her arms fell loosely to her sides. After a moment, she slowly repeated: “The Ballad of Coramasu.” She then turned and slowly walked behind her counter, and pulled out a lock box. Using a key, she opened it, and removed a small scroll. Locking the box and putting it away, she slowly turned and retuned to him and handed him the scroll.

“I came, and you sold me some poems by Dendi of Irust.”

“You came, and I sold you some poems by Dendi of Irust.” Her voice was flat, and without emotion.

“When you feel the coin in your hand, you will wake, feeling fine.”

She repeated his command. Sandor pressed a copper into her tight hand, and she again blinked twice. She looked disorientated for a moment, then smiled again.

“You do have a taste for sentimental poetry, Master Healer.”

“I’m just an old romantic, my dear.”

The bookseller stepped closer, and touched his right calf with her bare foot.

“You can come here anytime for your romantic needs, Master Healer.”

* * *

Sandor sat in the shade near a tea stand, and read the poem a third time, decoding it from memory, changing the last line of flowery verse to:

“Imperative we learn river shark meal and intent. Use treasure.”

He was shocked. “River Shark” meant the High Teroshi and “Treasure” meant Alif. They wanted him to command her to actively find out the Valyashis’ target, as opposed to the safe, passive listening she had been doing for them. This would put her and all of his efforts molding her into the perfect weapon at risk. He looked up at the sun, and realized he needed to return for his afternoon patients. When the tea seller wasn’t looking, he crumpled and tossed the parchment into the stand’s fire. It immediately flared and disintegrated.

He hated the idea of putting her at risk. But, he knew the message left no room for debate.

One more test, and he would order Alif to do what she could to find out her Master’s plans.

* * *

Several days passed before a new Moon Day. Alif was amongst the first to step out of the liter. The stones were still damp, but warming by the second. She headed for the fountain but was stopped by Captain Heer, still on his horse.

“Another treatment with Sandor, My Lady?” Alif, as always looked at the ground, trying to act the scared maiden for the Captain.

“No...No Captain...I thought I would go....” she struggled for the right word “to temple.” Sandor had suggested that they occasionally meet elsewhere, and the temple seemed reasonably safe.

“Oh you should, Lady truly is a wonder.” He rode off, and dismounted, handing the reigns to a soldier.

Alif took this as her dismissal, and hurried to wash her feet in the temple fountain.

The Captain was speaking to the Jugal, who, like Alif, kept his eyes to the ground, when Heer noticed that Tallenda was approaching. “This will be interesting”, he thought to himself as he met the First Slave halfway.

Her voice was imperious. “You are having her followed?”

“Who, My Lady?” Heer kept his voice even and pleasant.

“Alif, you dolt...I know you suspect her and this Healer.”

Heer was annoyed. Tallenda used her position as First Slave to know too much. But he hid his anger. Perhaps she could accomplish what he could not.

“My Lady.......I can assure you his credentials are impeccable, as has been the Lady Alif’s behavior. Furthermore, this Healer has treated many of the most important women in Valaysha. They have influence, and my superiors have ordered me to leave him alone. As for the Lady Alif....the High Teroshi is quite pleased with her and sensitive to any seeming insult to her. My hands are tied.”

Tallenda noticed he had emphasized the words “my hands.”

His black eyes locked with hers, and he quietly said. “Of course.....I cannot stop other true patriots....who love the Teroshi as I do, if they act on their own.”

Tallenda smiled. “And how would such a patriot act, Captain?”

The Captain moved closer, and spoke just above a whisper. “The lady Alif has taken interest in the gods of commerce. How joyful she has suddenly seen the absurdity of her norther tree and rock worship.”


“She often goes to temple now...doubtless thankful for the Healer’s cure.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“You know the great statute ‘Onker Selling Grace to the Maiden’ near the east wall?”

“Of course.”

“What I wager you did not know...what very few outside the priesthood know, there is a hidden staircase behind the statute that the priests use to ascend a hidden balcony. From there they listen, unbeknownst to the worshipers below. Many a heresy, and more importantly, business deals have been revealed to the priests over the centuries. You can imagine how its aided their investments. If one were able to reach this staircase without the priests catching them, that person could see and hear many things of value.” He stepped back and smiled again. “Oh I do prattle on.....enjoy your market day, My Lady.” He strolled back toward’s the Teer’s platform.

Tallenda thought about sending her slave on the task, but decided to go herself. Her hatred for the northern usurper was such she was willing to risk almost anything. She looked and saw that Alif was entering the temple. She ran after her. Entering the temple she felt the smooth marble, much like the Palace, cool her bare soles. Looking around the great building, she saw her quarry heading for a private prayer alcove. She was about to follow, when a sharp sting erupted on her shoulder. Enraged, she turned and saw an ancient priest, holding a crop. He was pointing it to her feet and lower legs, both covered with dust from the trip and crossing the temple plaza. She had forgotten to wash herself in the fountain. She wanted to kill the old fool, but knew in here, the priests’ rule was law. Muttering an apology she went back out and quickly washed her feet, then reentered. There was chanting in the air, and she was glad to see the old fool was now occupied with some arcane ritual. She headed to the Eastern wall. There sat the massive statute of Onker, in the form of a fat merchant with dragon wings. A stone Maiden, identical to the one in the fountain and nearly as tall as Onker, was handing a sack of coins to the commerce god. Looking around, she saw no one was about, and she proceeded to sneak behind the statute. She saw no staircase.

Frustrated, she was about to leave when she looked closer at Onker’s wings. Cleverly carved indentations provided what appeared to be footholds. Tallenda took a deep breath, and began her assent up the wings’ gentle slope. Her bare toes found easy purchase and she quickly ascended. Upon reaching the top, she saw there was indeed a balcony hidden from the ground level. She stepped up, and cautiously looked around. The balcony was shrouded in darkness, but seemed to encircle the entire temple. She tiptoed until she ws above the prayer alcoves. Cautiously peering over the side, she found that the acoustics of the temple were such that she could clearly hear the prayers, and conversations of those below.

It took several minutes before she heard her enemy, laughing.

“ what if you’re’s not my fault you haven’t eaten lunch.”

“I am only saying, My Lady, that a Jura fruit would taste wonderful. There’s a stand near here.”

“Go get yourself one for all I care.”

Tallenda noticed that Alif was speaking fluent Valayshi, and that she and the healer spoke like old friends. Perhaps she could catch them in a romantic act.

“What if I want you to go get one for me?” said the healer.

Tallenda was shocked. No healer, no matter how familiar to the patient, had the right to speak to a High Slave in this manner. They served only the Teroshi, and his honored guests in this manner. Alif did not sound pleased, either.

“You forget yourself, Healer. I am the daughter of the Thane of Korgia, and you.........”

“Pretty Alif must listen to the Shadow Hawk.” There was a brief pause.

“Yes, Master Healer.” Her voice was blank and devoid of any expression.

Tallenda was confused, and leaned further out . She saw Sandor Wave his hand in front of Alif’s face. The northern girl stood motionless, her hands hanging at her sides. The healer seemed to think for a moment, and said.

“Alif...please go to the fruit stand between the meat district and the fruit sellers. Cross the fountain plaza, the warmth of the stones will feel wonderful, and relax you further. Buy one Jura, and return to the temple. Don’t forget to wash you feet before re-entering. Once you are inside, put the fruit in the priests’ food offering basket. If anyone asks what you’re doing, act natural and tell them you wanted to give food to the priests. Once you have made the offering, return to this prayer alcove.

“Yes, Master Healer.” Tallenda was astonished to see the blonde woman turn and leave. She scampered back to the wings, and climbed down. She walked quickly to the exit, but was momentarily blinded by the sun’s glare ouside. When her vision cleared, she looked desperately around. She then saw Alif walking purposefully across the hot stones of the fountain plaza. These cobblestones had been first doused when the fountain was briefly opened, and were therefore the first to dry and re-heat. Additionaly, there was no shade here from the morning sun. Most women avoided this expanse as it grew very hot, even though all of them had been barefoot from birth. But there was Alif, striding as if it were meadow grass.

Sticking to more shaded cobblestones, Tallenda, headed for the location commanded by Sandor. When she arrived nearby, she saw Alif purchasing the fruit. She waited a moment, then intercepted her. Alif walked by her, her eyes wide and unfocused. Tallenda thought the blonde had been smoking Teeko. She roughly grabbed her arm. Alif came to stop and continued to look ahead, her eyes slowly blinking.

“What are you doing?” demanded the First Slave.

Alif blinked twice, then slowly turned to face Tallenda.

“Buying fruit for the priests, My Lady. Excuse me.” Her voice seemed empty of any feeling. Alif gently pulled herself free, and walked back towards the plaza, her pace never changing.

Tallenda rushed back to the temple using the longer, cooler route. She remembered this time to wash her feet. By the time she was back in the balcony, Alif had been back with Sandor for some time. She was frustrated to hear that the two of them had switched to the ugly, guttural, tongue of the northerners, a language Tallenda did not understand. She looked over the balcony. They were both sitting on the temple’s marble floor, with Sandor massaging Alif’s feet as he spoke.

Sometime later, Tallenda stepped out of the temple. Walking around the fountain, she came face to face with Captain Heer.

“Was the healer there, My Lady?”

Tallenda thought for a second. She did not become First Slave by letting others take credit for her work. She decided she would take sole credit for revealing the northern bitch.

“I did not see him, Captain.”

He looked perplexed. “Well, what was she up to in there.”

“I can’t be sure...but it looked like it was praying. Do your own work, Captain.” She brushed past the soldier, looking for her personal slave who had been left by the liter.

* * *

Later, Alif relaxed as the swaying of the liter once again made her drowsy. As they passed through the Comet Gate, she was wakened by someone lifting her left foot. Alif opened her eyes and saw Tallenda examining her sole.

“How is it possible, not a blister from the heat?” the First Slave murmured.

“Sorry...don’t understand, First Slave...why blisters?”

Tallenda ignored this, instead asking:

“I didn’t know you liked Jura Fruits, Alif. They’re sweet to the tongue are they not?”

“First Slave..please...... I don’t understand.”

“I thought I saw you buying one at a stand.”

The blonde looked genuinely confused. “No First Slave...I spent the day in temple.”

“My mistake, then.” Tallenda dropped her foot and turned her attention elsewhere.

Alif frowned. The thought of Jura fruit somehow bothered her, but she could not think why.

* * *

A few nights later, the High Slaves were summoned to a banquet in the High Teroshi’s private chambers. Food and wine was set out for them to serve to the ruler and his guests, who were all in the connecting map room, an area forbidden to the girls. Alif picked up a wine pitcher and prepared to serve. After the meal, she would be expected to dance and provide other entertainments.

She stood there with her sisters for some time, until finally the large frame and bald head of the High Teroshi emerged through the thick curtain of the Map Room. He was a giant of a man with a long, curly sideburns. He wore a military uniform rather than his royal robes. He was soon followed by several generals and mercenary bosses. The banquet began.

A few hours later, the Teroshi and the military dignitaries were in various stages of drunken stupor. The ruler had grabbed the occasional High Slave, even kissing a few. But he always treated Alif with dignity and respect, and was fulsome in his praise of her dancing. After a while, he seemed to be looking for someone.

“Where is that sot, General Sek....Where is he?” demanded the Teroshi.

Tallenda, still smoldering over the attention given to Alif, hissed to the northern girl:

“You heard the Teroshi...go look for him. ”

Alif stepped out into the corridor. She heard a male voice curse, and followed it around a corner toward a privy. There, in all of his glory, was General Sek, on the floor, slumped against the wall, his uniform trousers partially undone. Alif approached and saw the man was dead asleep. She noted with alarm that his arm was on a lit brazier stand. Not far away from the flame, hung a banner that stretched to the corridor floor. She thought there was real danger the fool could start a fire.

Alif stepped closer to move his hand off of the brazier. Suddenly, she became aware of the cool marble beneath her bare soles. She felt invisible fingers massaging them. Alif stopped, and closed her eyes. When they opened, she had a slight smile. Sandor. She had to do this for Sandor so he could get her home.

She looked over at the banner, and mentally measured its distance to the brazier. She made sure sure the general was still asleep, then looked around. Without further thought, she pushed his hand so that it toppled the brazier over with a loud clang. As she expected, the banner caught fire, and she ran back to the Teroshi’s private dining chambers.

“Fire...Fire.....he’s started a fire.", she screamed. They looked at her in confusion, and Tallenda walked up to her and yelled. “In Vaylashi...fool...” At the same time, a northern mercenary said: “She’s saying someone’s started a fire.”

The Royal Guard quickly ushered the Teroshi further into his private quarters, while others ran to the now visible smoke. The soldier guarding the Map Room went to help. Even the drunken officers walked out to see for themselves what had happened. The High Slaves milled about the corridor, some heading back to their quarters.

In the confusion, Alif remained in the dining chamber and crossed over to the Map Room. She crossed over to the entrance and went through the draped portal. She saw that a table dominated the center of the chamber and had been carved into a relief map of a large, mountainous island. She stared at it, committing the image to the deepest recesses of her mind. She then carefully stuck her head out of the curtain and saw the dining chamber was still empty.

In the corridor, Tallenda was telling the High Slaves to calm down, when she realized Alif was not present. She was about to look for her when she saw the blonde girl stepping out of the dining chamber. As she watched, Alif shook her head, and looked around as if suddenly confused. After a moment, she joined her sisters in the corridor. When she saw Tallenda staring at her, she cast her eyes to the floor. as usual.

“All right ladies, let us retire. I’m sure the party is over.” said the First Slave as she headed back to their quarters. The women soon followed, with Alif lagging in the rear. One of the northern girls asked her in Kogirian what she saw. Almost automatically, she responded:

“General Sek accidentally pushed over a brazier stand.” As she said the words, the memory of finding the drunken officer and the fallen stand solidified in her mind. “The banner was already aflame when I arrived.”

“Couldn’t happen to a nicer pig.” whispered the other girl. “He has wandering hands when he thinks the Teroshi is not looking.”

* * *

Mura, the Royal Healer, looked closely at the specimen in the small jar and wrote notes on a parchment. He was startled by a discrete throat clearing behind him.

“First Slave, how are you, My Lady?”

Tallenda smiled her warmest smile at him. “Master Healer..I am in dire need of your services.” She sauntered into the chamber, and lay on Mura’s treatment couch in a sensual pose.

“My Lady honors me. I am glad to see some have the wits not to seek healing in the Market Place.” His voice had never sounded older and frailer to her.

“How may I be of it your blood cycle again?” Mura tried his best to not stare at the woman’s long legs, and nearly exposed breasts. She was, as always, breathtaking

“No...your excellent skill completely solved that issue.", she lied. " I have in mind another kind of service.” She lifted her leg until the transparent silk fell away, and playfully rubbed his chest with her toes. “Today, I do not need your skill, but your great knowledge. I have a scientific question for you.”

Mura blushed, both from the physical sensation and from the flattery. “Ask away, My Lady.”

Tallenda withdrew her leg and sat up. “Mura, old friend, you know how I delight in entertaining our great Teroshi with stories.”

“You perform them so well, My Lady. Your acting, the way you do each voice, it is as if a troupe of actors are performing an epic play.”

“You are too kind, Master Healer. Well, I’m always looking for more tales to tell. You know I spend hours in bookseller shops and in the Royal Library hunting for something the High Teroshi has not yet heard. The other day I came upon the strangest had an...aspect I did not understand.”

“Go on, My Lady.”

“I found this play where there was a kind of wizard who cast a spell on a woman...a proud, highborn woman, and made her his slave, even though he was quite beneath her caste. She was utterly powerless to disobey. One moment, she acted normal...the next she was like a sleepwalker, utterly obedient.”

Mura smiled. He loved opportunities to show off his education and knowledge. “You’re speaking of a technique from the East. I don’t remember the barbarian word, but I believe it translates to the ‘Art’. It provides the man a way to influence the mind of the gentler sex, and even enslave weak willed woman like your heroine.”

“You’ve seen this ‘Art’ yourself, Master Healer?”

“I remember a demonstration at the Guild many years ago. We hosted a scholar from the East. He demonstrated this ‘Art’ on a serving wench. He had her do all sorts of amusing things, then capped it off by making her walk across a bed of lit coals. I examined the girl’s feet, there was no signs of burning. Later he woke her, and she had no memory of the night’s activities.”

Tallenda remembered Alif’s unharmed soles and her seeming lack of memory of crossing the plaza to buy fruit.

“How does this Art work? How would a woman protect herself from such a wizard?”

Mura had exhausted all of his limited memory and knowledge about the Art. But he was enjoying Tallenda’s attention and wanted to further impress her. He began making things up.

“The eyes, My Lady....the key lies in the eyes.”

“Who’s eyes?”

“Both the wizard and the targeted girl. You know the eyes are the portal to the soul. It is known that wizards that have this power have been partially possessed by fire demons. The wizard manifests the demon in his eyes as burning red orbs. He then tricks the poor girl into gazing into his eyes, and she is soon captivated, like a moth to the flame. The fire demon burns away the girl’s soul, and she becomes the familiar of the wizard.”

“So if I....I mean a girl can avoid the wizard’s gaze, she can avoid his spell.”

“Exactly, My Lady.”

Tallenda slinked off the couch and embraced the old healer. She kissed his cheek.

“One again your great knowledge has aided me, sir.”

“My pleasure my dear.”

* * *

The next Moon Day, Alif sat crossed legged in the back of a crowd watching a puppet show. No one paid much mind to her as she drew on a parchment. Before the show was over, she unfurled her long legs and stood. Without really thinking about her destination, she crossed the market place, stopping occasionally to look at various stalls. She drifted along almost as if her feet were in control until she found herself in a book shop.

“Greetings Honored Customer!...How may I help you. My Lady?” The shopkeeper was a middle-aged woman in a long dress.

Alif looked directly at her and slowly said: “I have a copy of the Ballad of Ceramasu to sell to your shop.”

The shop woman blinked twice, then slowly padded over to Alif. The High Slave handed her the drawing, and the older woman neatly folded, and placed it in a lock box. Alif then began studying books, and the bookseller seem to rouse herself, and went back to her chores.

* * *

Hours later, Sandor looked at Alif’s drawing. It was not Korgia all. It was the subcontinent of Lemnar. Deep within the mountains of this giant Island sat the Citadel, home of the Brotherhood. Even the Citadel’s approximate location was marked as an X. There were even rudimentary details of some of the fortified passes leading to the Fortress. Some how the Tersohi had found their base, and was going to do what no ruler had been able to do in centuries, attack the Brotherhood where it lived.

The battle would not be a foregone conclusion, as the Brotherhood was filled with skilled warriors behind formidable defenses. But the fact they had been found meant in the most important sense, the Brotherhood was already defeated.

He had to report this right away.