The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive

Spellthief Stolen

Chapter: Day 2 — The Smell of Lavender

This is a work of fantasy, which involves magic, mind control, and sexual situations. If there’s any legality preventing you from viewing pornography, or you think you would find such a story offensive or inappropriate, please don’t read it.

* * *

The arcanist enjoyed the sight as the spellthief stirred on the bed, each little movement a sign of her body and mind shaking off the enchanted sleep. He smiled, as her toes curled, nostrils crinkled, fingers tested themselves, bending in and then quickly out, seemingly surprised at the sensation. She made a noise, and her body rolled itself over to one side, a hand landing close to her shut eyes. He could see them blink open, groggily, her brow furrowing as the fingers curled in and out again. The arcanist cleared his throat, and her head turned towards the noise, her hand held open in place. “Did you do this?” she spoke, sounding unsure of herself.

He spread his hands in his lap, from the usual seat across the room. “I have done a great many things, little thief. I think you must be a bit clearer.”

She rolled her eyes, as he smirked. “My hands.” She moved one, squeezing and relaxing it. “You worked the salve into them.”

“Yes,” he said, “I did. I hope that you don’t mind.”

She stared towards him for a moment, eyes then turning back to the open palm, far less red than it had been the previous morning. “No,” she murmured, “I don’t.” She sat up, without a word of thanks, he noted, and stretched her legs towards the wall. “I imagine you’ve brought food with you.”

“Indeed,” he nodded, “though I cannot stay long. You may also like to know that you’ve missed breakfast,” he took in her look of confusion with pride, “but the guard will gladly bring more food, should you desire it.”

Her body rocked back, then forwards, launching onto both feet, and catching herself against the wall as she swayed forward. The sleep showed in her movements as he watched her come closer, flopping into the seat across from him and snatching up the fresh loaf of bread from the table.

“Food is not the only thing I bring to you, of course.”

That got her attention, and her head darted upwards. She was able to wait expectantly, for only a moment, before saying, “Well?”

“Perhaps you should have patience, if you desire what I have to offer.”

“Unless it’s my clothes, my focus, or my tools, I’m not interested.” She bit into her bread defiantly.

“Alas,” he chuckled, “it is none of those, but nevertheless I think you may find it appealing.” His hands moved, needing only a moment to find the object of his search. The air in the room shifted for a moment, and pale blue light flashed into place between them. It took form quickly, and then began to stretch its legs.

The spellthief gasped, “Missy!” Her open arms dove forward, wrapping the glowing figure that was now a cat up into her arms, laughing as it meowed and licked at her face. She hugged the familiar close, whispering into its ears, nuzzling against its forehead. She seemed to have forgotten the arcanist was even in the room, until she looked to him from the corner of her eye. “What’s the catch?”

“No catches,” he said, “I only wish to make your visit more comfortable, little thief. I felt as though you might desire more company than I alone can provide.” He watched, as the cat wriggled and stretched in her hold, certainly more corporeal than it had been, when it was found in the kitchens, and more solid still than any familiars he’d heard of. “The two of you seem quite close.”

She smiled for a moment, before smoothing her expression down to a scowl, whenever the cat wasn’t watching her lips. “We’ve been through plenty, and worse than this... I’m grateful, but this doesn’t mean I’m happy with the situation,” she added, “your holding us both is unjust and unfair.”

He kept his smile fixed into her scowl, playing on her nerves. “Would it be more just if I turned you to the authorities, as the law suggests I do? Would it be more fair if I had you executed, as the law gives me all capacity to do?”

“The law isn’t just or fair,” she said, letting go of the familiar which quickly mounted behind her shoulders, “something I’m sure you’ll never understand.“

“Perhaps if I had reason to understand it, a compelling argument, or perhaps a shred of proof, then I would be more inclined to believe you.” He lifted some of her food to his lips, which caused her to bring the rest of the platter into her lap, out of his reach. “You merely believe the law is unjust, so as to justify your stealing what is not yours,” he continued, to her chagrin, “were you in my profession, or perhaps any without a basis in thievery, you would very well think otherwise.”

“No,” she muttered, swallowing more bread, “I wouldn’t. That’s ridiculous. The fact that I can make a living off of it, that, that doesn’t influence how I see it, that’s not the same thing. And it’s not stealing. You just think it is, because you stand to gain everything if the law is just. Knowledge, wealth, power,” she counted on her fingers, “you benefit all of that from the law.”

“I benefit all of that as a consequence of my hard work and scholarship. Far from what you believe, the system is not rigged in any one’s favor,” he allowed himself a small laugh, “but it is decidedly rigged against those who commit crimes.”

“They’re only crimes because those with all the power keep saying that they are,” she rolled her eyes, unfazed, as if she were explaining to a child, “people with power can claim that whatever they want is righteous. They make the rules. The rest of us are forced to sit and take it, while you and yours reap the benefits.“

“These rules you so despise are not new,” he started, as she continued deeper into her meal, “and not some tool of oppression against helpless thieves everywhere. The laws simply secure—”

“Fuck the laws,” she chimed in, forcing him to grit his teeth, “they’re outdated, outmoded, and the only things they secure are the seats you tyrannical magicmongers have kept your right fat asses in for the whole of this kingdom’s lifetime.”

“Perhaps you would enjoy a residence in Sel’het to the far east,” he mused, “they have no such codes or rules there. Of course, the most dangerous spells and uncontrolled calamities are loosed weekly, as one Sel’haiat seeks to assert themselves over another’s domain, with all the more peaceful and, I’m sure, freedom-loving residents caught in the crossfire.”

“You’re over-exaggerating,” she shrugged, finishing her loaf.

“I assure you that I am not, and I would scarcely wish such a fate on Damea, the rest of Ephaos besides. Your brand of anarchism would lead to ruin within days, thief.”

“It wouldn’t be like that!” she hissed, “We have laws—proper ones, mind you, I’m not an anarchist—a government, gods know how many armies, and skilled sorcerers at their backs. Freedom of knowledge changes none of that.”

“Oh, no, it changes none of those, but it does empower those who disobey the law, the ones far worse and far less idealistic than yourself.” He watched her open her mouth to speak, but cut her off, “You’re going to claim you only work for honest parties, with wonderful and utopian interests at heart for all of our fair citizens. Not including myself and those of my profession. But even with that aside, your campaign for the free and uninhibited distribution of knowledge aids only few, and endangers far more.

“Say you succeed in your mission and you steal—ah, sorry—you liberate my climatological spells, and they’re distributed openly. Does the commoner benefit? Only those of a certain education, and a certain magical talent will gain from having these spells at their disposal.“

“The farmers benefit,” she turned her head back towards him, scowling. “Because they’ll be able to grow crops, with the help of those sorcerers skilled enough. Everyone benefits, except you, because you don’t get to make a tidy sum anymore.”

He shook his head. So damnably adamant, this one. “Think back to our last conversation. Two of these mages are paid to aid two competing farmers. Chaos ensues, the magical veil is rent, destruction spreads like wildfire.”

“Gods, do you only think of the worst cases possible?” she groaned, the cat on her shoulders nudging against her ear.

“I think realistically, little thief, while your head is a world of ideals. Men and mages are not perfect. These sorcerers would compete to earn the most coin from any parties, concern for others and safety be damned. There could be none of the careful planning and collaboration such spells require.”

“So there’s no one but you that’s worthy enough to cast your spells?” She glared sharply at him. “I could take those papers right now, fill the sky with clouds enough to block out the sun over your stupid little tower.“

He felt his temper bubbling in his chest, but he put a happy expression on his face, much to her obvious infuriation. “You could, if you had a focus, and if you were not my prisoner, thief. You won’t be casting any spells in these few days, that much is certain. And you are unaware of the intricacies laced through my work that—”

“Why shouldn’t I be?!”

He blinked. “Begging your pardon?”

“Why shouldn’t I be aware? What’s stopping me, or anyone, from learning? That’s the point of all this, you, you can’t just argue that it won’t be safe because they haven’t learned, when you refuse to give anyone an outlet to learn, and to understand what’s unsafe and what is safe!” She was breathing heavily, her eyes dark pits of malice, stammering as her lips kept going, “F-fire spells, any kind of elements, they can all be used for the destruction you mean, but they’re wonderful things! Where would we be without it, and, what in the hells gives you a right to stop people?”

He shook his head, still smiling, even as his gaze toward her hardened. “I do not stop anyone from learning,” he spoke, more than just sternness in his words and eyes, “if they desire to work spells such as mine, those interested can put forth the same years of research as I, all of the trials, all of the experiments, failed and successful, all of the hardships. Anyone who does will understand the importance of my work, of not letting it fall into the hands of those driven by evil, greed, and especially incompetence.”

She had seemed to shrink in her chair as he spoke, and her familiar’s steady purr had quieted, but he continued, “Any spell which can be cast with good intent can be cast with evil intent, just as well. It is not purely the incompetence of hedge mages,” he watched her physically recoil at the words, “that I would be contending with, should I allow you to do as you wish. All would be put at risk from those who do not understand that which they meddle in, and those who very much understand. That is where the true danger lies, thief. There is no victory in liberating these works, only ruin.“

Her face twisted in rage, flushed red with anger. Her lips opened to move, but again, he silenced her with his own words. “Perhaps you can dwell on these thoughts until our next meeting, for I have work to attend to. Spells to be casting.”

“Eat shit and choke on it,” she swore, “you vile, ruthless, arrogant, wretched hellsborn son of a—”

The last sound was a pop in his ears, as his body reappeared in his study. He exhaled. “An annoying brat. Why do I go through the trouble...?” His thoughts drifted, to the events of the previous night, and the frustration that had been kindling inside him began to fade to a different sort of heat. It seemed there were some reasons to go through the trouble, anyway.

* * *

Missy was enough of a comfort for her to calm down. Not a quick calm, but a calm nonetheless. The bundle of warmth purring happily in her lap proved irresistible to her hands; they were drawn to the ghostly fur, soothing away her worries with each gentle stroke. Somehow, in this place, the semicorporeal familiar seemed more solid to her, more real.

The spellthief sighed. Six more days of this. She had to get out of here, before it could get worse. But there was no way, not without magic. And she had no magic. The cat in her lap was magic, yes, but without a focus, there was no way. Except...

She shuddered, as old, old memories washed up in her mind, unsure if they were real or just pleasanter fabrications she’d created, to block the horror from her mind. One didn’t always need a proper focus to cast a spell. She’d seen it done, hells, she’d done it herself. But that was only once, and lifetimes ago. It was... an unpredictable practice. Even more than usual, with magic. Spells needed foci to tame raw power; she’d heard horror stories of casting with damaged ones. Whole bodies used as conduits for raw lightning. Self-combustion. Explosions. Many explosions. But tapping into that energy alone, unaided, is still possible, for one of magical talent. She figured the risk would be about the same, if the idea brewing in her thoughts worked.

If it worked. But her people, Drex, Karsa and the rest, they needed her. She needed them. And she didn’t want to stick around and see what this arcanist had in store, come the seventh day. His talk of danger and risk still rang in her ears, and she knew: there was no way he’d let her leave with what she’d come for.

She needed magic, and probably a focus. That much she knew. Everything she’d been taught as a child started to come back in halting sentences, while she struggled to remember the words of stuffy teachers and boring books. Foci were made from gems. Well, they didn’t have to be gems. But they were always gems. Apparently, humans had been blessed by the gods, given the gift of magic to rule over animals and other things on the earth. That sounded right. Some were stronger in the gift than others, and they became sorcerers, but anyone could interact in some way with magic. To reach into the magical world and use it, sorcerers made themselves foci—or, these days, they’d just hire a focalist to do it.

Or just grab a shiny-looking rock off the ground. Certain things could conduct magic more strongly than others, sapphires, rubies and diamonds, volcanic obsidian, gold and silver, even ruddy copper. Magic shone differently through each of these, amplifying certain kinds of energy while minimizing others—Karsa wore bangles of wire, used them to summon lightning with frightening efficiency. She’d even heard of foci made from human bone, for use in bending and tearing flesh and blood, or even for raising corpses to serve the needs of the sorcerer. She shuddered, and hoped it was just a myth. Though if anyone knew, it would’ve been the arcanist.

Sorcerers used the elements of nature to bend the world of magic to their will, or, something like that, anyway. It was all the will of the gods, apparently, though she wasn’t really one for the gods in general, and Damean ones less so. The spellthief’s own focus, her amulet with its sapphire eye, was crafted, originally, as a surveyor’s tool, but a few adjustments to its enchantments had made its powers more suited to searching for traps than measuring minute differences in elevation. But now it was gone, and she would need a new one. Or something close enough. She didn’t really feel like exploding.

Without any shiny ornaments to nick or stones to pluck up, she picked the simplest thing—a candle, out of its holder. It was long, purple, with a small black wick, and it smelled of lavender. It didn’t feel magical, because it wasn’t. She was going to try and make it so. Of course, the spellthief lacked any basic ability in making enchantments, so that was right out, not to mention the lack of an actual focus to cast the magic into it with, or anything to draw a circle of runes with, or any idea what symbols and shapes and ancient, powerful things to draw to form the spells that’d focus magical energy. She sighed, already dejected, flopping into the seat while Missy slept on the bed sheets. Meditating would be a good start, as poorly as it’d gone the day before. She closed her eyes, and began to breathe slow and deep. Tried to put the negative thoughts out of her mind, tried not to worry that what she was doing was ridiculous and couldn’t possibly work, and just focused on the candle, held in both her hands, and the darkness she could see behind her eyes. The strange patterns, moving afterimages of vision. It was easy to focus the eyes on these, while the mind was elsewhere.

She put her attention towards where her focus should have been, a presence around her thoughts, that space now vacant. She would have to feel it again, the subtle sense of detaching from the world around her, of reaching out and feeling more than that. The spellthief tried to remember how it felt, the way it made her skin excited and sensitive, the way she could feel magic running around her, inside her, through her. Like being submerged in the current of a river. Floating with it, but able to rise and fall through it, and then to make it conform as she wished, to turn the tide of power to whatever use she saw fit. Through closed eyes, she pictured the candle in her hands, its length, its shade and hue, its feel in her grip, the smell it was giving off even now. The wick would light, a simple, easy flame, dazzling before her eyes in the stagnant light of the room. Her lips pursed, as her fingers moved towards the tip, pointer and thumb in a pincer around the end. She imagined how it would feel, the heat that would grow in the tips of her fingers, running through each crease of flesh and radiating out, just a little spark was all she needed to set the candle alight. One little spark, small and brilliant, and the candle would be lit. She wanted it to light. No, needed it to light. All of her want poured into the image, the heat in her hand, the smell of the candle, the sound of the spark, the bright flash, the warm glow, the focus she would feel, knew she could feel, the magic all around her, the way the—

A knock sounded on the door. Everything toppled over, and she lurched in her seat as reality reasserted itself. “Miss?” A voice said outside.

“What?!” The spellthief snarled, her voice cutting as she stared, half trying to will the door to ash.

“... your meal is here, should you like it, miss.” A scraping sound, and the flap at the base opened, with the small plate gingerly pushed through. She held her breath as it swung shut again, and silence returned.

She exhaled. Shit. She wasn’t hungry, but ate and drank anyway, and after a short rest she was sitting again, legs crossed, hands grasping the candle firmly. Deep breath. Her eyes shut, she began to focus... and now a meowing in her ear. She groaned, whipping her head towards the noise. Missy was nudging the base of the spellthief’s chair with her face, and looking up expectantly. “What?”

The cat meowed, again.

“I don’t have time to play, Missy, this is important. So unless you can help, shut your trap, alright?”

At this, Missy briskly turned away, and stepped out through the bed.

“Hey—” She started, staring at the blue flecks of light where the cat had vanished, “I didn’t mean...” The spellthief sighed. Missy would be back eventually. It was better to be alone for this, anyway.

She put her fingers above the wick again, let her eyes close, let her lungs take on the slow, steady, calming rhythm. She saw the candle in her mind, saw the light of its flame dancing. Felt its heat in her fingers. Felt the presence, the otherness flooding her mind. Felt it surging through her body, tickling her nerves, flushing her cheeks. The same way the arcanist’s magic made her shiver, wriggling already just at the thought of it. The chill as it passed through her, the warmth it left behind. The heat. She felt her legs shifting, her tongue wetting her dry lips. Focus. She saw the flame, watched it dance, felt its heat, felt its power and presence, smelled it, tasted it on her tongue, on her lips, wet, breathing the cool air, each quiver another taste of pleasure. Pleasure. It would feel so good, to see the flame. So very, very good. She could imagine it now, the joy in her smile, the flutter in her chest, the heat of it casting onto her body, shining into her mind like—

“Miss?” More knocking.

“Gods-damned,” she groaned, eyes tearing themselves open towards the infernal door, ”what!

There was a pause. “The watch is changing, and I’ll be leaving my post. Is there anything you need?”

“I need you to choke, bootlick!“

Another pause, longer. “... Do let me know, miss.” Another noise in the hallway, and silence returned. Another groan, as the spellthief inhaled, and tightened her fist around the candle. Damned prattling rats, it was like they were trying to break her concentration. Perhaps they were, she thought. No matter. Even if they were, it wouldn’t stop her now. She couldn’t let it get to her.

Her breathing steadied. Her eyes closed. Deep, even breaths. She shook with the returning relaxation, her body settling under its weight, sinking into the seat below her.

She pictured the candle in the dark of her thoughts, ablaze, shining light into the empty and quiet plane she had shaped her mind into. Yearning to feel its presence, its warmth, its calm, its heat. Her body shivered, but she was too focused now to notice. She needed to feel its hotness, in her fingers, in her blood, in her bones, in her skin and in her mind. The heat of magic. She could see it, imagine it, feel it creeping over her, washing over her like waves. Lapping at her body and mind. Hairs rising all over and everywhere, gooseflesh on her middle, her arms, her legs, all over her chest, her skin so sensitive in the tide, nipples growing harder, the warmth and wetness centering between her legs, filling her core, each pulse of heat pounding, thrumming with her want, her need, her aches of longing. The magic conforming to her will, obeying her desire, filling her need. Or would it be the other way around? Her body a vessel, a tool for the magic, her mind open to its splendor. A mere conduit. Held in place by it, awareness transfixed on the waves, on the tides, on the churning power that was all around her. Succumbing to it. Giving herself over to it. She didn’t need to control it. She only needed it to control her, to flow through her, to fill her with power and pleasure, to see the sparks, to light the flame, to feel the heat, to sate the need, burning and hot, begging to be fulfilled, begging for the magic to seize her body, fill her thoughts, touch her mind, caress her skin, tease her curves, whisper in her ear, flood her senses with life, deep inside her core. She yearned for it, her thoughts were already empty, how much more did she need? Her body bare, her senses open, all willing to be taken into the throes of the spell, to be touched by the magic, to feel its heat again, to feel—

Three sharp knocks. She very nearly hurled the candle into a wall.

“Miss?” A different voice, even more annoying than the last.

“Vile hellspawn, shut up!

The voice grumbled something, but it became silent. The only sounds the spellthief could hear was her breath, hot and heavy, steaming with rage. The heartbeat pounding against her skull. How dare they. She felt so close. She knew she could do this, it was right there, she was...

A prickling at her senses stirred her focus away from anger. Her hand had drifted from the tip of the candle—her fingers were on her breast. She gasped, startled, the hand recoiling for a moment, before gently settling onto it again. Her legs pressed themselves together, her teeth dug into her lower lip. Oh, gods. She couldn’t remember how she’d gotten to be so damned horny. It wasn’t like she meditated often, but she didn’t think wetness was a normal side effect. It’d been too long, she realized, her fingers still groping lazily. Trapped in this cursed tower, she hadn’t thought for a moment about her body, her needs. A fingertip brushed against her nipple, made her sigh, almost moaning. Perhaps something quick. Just to stave it off. Can’t be good for one’s concentration, being so very hot, and so very naked. It’s not like anyone would know. She was a spellthief, a smirk flickered on her lips, she knew how to be quiet. But...

Her eyes wandered around her room. Around her cell. She shook her head. There was no way she’d get off in a prison. No way. It would be impossible. The atmosphere, the guards, that damned arcanist... though, maybe the atmosphere wasn’t so terrible. The room had been feeling less like a cell and more like, well, a room, all day long. The lights, they were stagnant, but not oppressive. The bed was softer than anything, and her chair was quite comfortable. She’d settled into it nicely, after all, even while squirming. And the guards, well, wasn’t there always some fun in the risk? Getting into it while others were just outside the door, maybe even while they were in the room? Not like she hadn’t done that before. And the arcanist... there was always the danger of him appearing, unannounced. But then what? What would he say, or do? He didn’t seem like the type to fluster. No, he seemed like the type to watch. She shuddered. The idea of him watching was... repulsive, absolutely repulsive. So too was the idea of his arms coming around her, touching, exploring, teasing her body, his breath hot in her ear, words low and deep, piercing, holding her tongue, holding her still. Magic holding her still. Surrounding her body, overwhelming her thoughts with pleasure, with want, with need, with... her eyes opened.

The candle was on the floor. Her right hand between her legs, her left still roving across her chest. No. Can’t do this now. With a reluctant breath, she forced her hands to her sides, then picked the candle up again. This was more important than nonsense fantasies, spurred on by weeks without a good fuck. The spellthief sighed, steadied her hands, closed her eyes, and steadied her mind. She pictured the flame. Pictured it dancing, the scent, the fluttering of warmth, the taste of smoke, the sound of embers...

* * *

The arcanist cleared his throat, and watched the spellthief jump back in her chair with a cry, so quickly clutching the candle in her fist to her bare chest that he might’ve thought it was some weapon. He’d been there long enough, and was amused to finally see her reaction. She got a hold on herself, and gulped. “I’m sorry?” she asked, her voice a higher pitch than usual, colored by the flush rising through her neck.

He smiled at her from the other seat. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said, “you seemed quite deep in thought.” He held her eyes calmly, watching as her lips quivered, her body in a state of agitation.

“How long have you been...?”

“Long enough,” he shook his head, “it’s nearly time for your dinner. May I ask, what have you been doing with that candle?”

He watched shock, confusion, and worry all shift through her expression, before she even said a word. “N-nothing at all,” she answered, more than unconvincingly.

He smiled at her. His hand made the gesture. “What have you been doing with that candle?”

He watched her blink, waited for her mind to settle in place to provide a better answer. “I was... smelling it,” she said, “it’s lavender.”

“I know,” he nodded, “but what makes it so very interesting to you?”

“My mother.”

This surprised the arcanist, somewhat. She was probably lying, as thieves were more than wont to do when backed into a corner, but it could prove interesting even still. “Your mother?”

“Yes,” she breathed, “she... she loves the smell of lavender.” He watched her eyes as she went on, gaze never straying. “She always wore its perfume. And I...” Her body shifted inwards, hunching, arms and legs moving in, a physical expression of her shyness, “I suppose it made me feel at home.”

It was a convincing act, if it was an act. And if it wasn’t an act, who would he be to deny her this? “Of course,” he sat back, “we all have our small comforts. I can have more of them brought, if you like. So that you need not nuzzle just the one.”

She matched his smile, after a moment. A small, kind expression. Pretty, even, between her rosy cheeks. “That would be nice.”

“Then it will be done, little thief, along with anything else,” he paused, letting her lips begin to move before he finished, “within reason, of course.”

“Sure,” she spoke gruffly, and the cute look was gone. Of course she wouldn’t thank him. Thieves had no such manners.

He still smiled, and his hand moved—spreading to reveal the platter on the table between them. She didn’t seem to know whether it had been there all along, out of sight, or if he’d made it appear with the wave of his arm. The result was the same, either way. The thief’s arms jolted out and snatched up the platter, digging into it as he watched. She only stopped to breathe, and to drink, and he remained silent until her vigor seemed to slow. “Hungry, are we?” he asked, smiling, even as she gave him a glare.

“I’m a sorceress,” she said, “I’m hungry when I’m casting, and I’m always casting. You should know, you cast enough not to get too fat.” She smirked.

“I do know,” the arcanist ignored the jab easily, “however, you have not been casting for some days now, little thief.” He watched her expression freeze, then smooth itself out. “So I wonder where this ravenous appetite comes from.”

“Nowhere.” She shrugged easily. “It’s just food.”

He called on the magic before she had even finished speaking, making the subtle gesture. “So I wonder where this ravenous appetite comes from.”

Her eyes blinked. “I eat when stressed,” she answered, too quickly, adding, “not that this is stress. I’ve had worse.“

He nodded, gesturing again as she blinked even slower. “So I wonder where this ravenous appetite comes from.”

“What are you implying?” she questioned back, this time.

His eyebrow rose. “Do I seem to be implying something, little thief?”

“Yes,” she said, “you do.”

“And what would that be?”

“Probably that I’m somehow casting spells under your nose, despite not having a focus, and despite your constant watch, and despite,” she gestured this time, indicating up and down her bare torso’s flesh, “my lacking anything magical.”

He took in the sight as her hand illustrated, and took his time before he gestured again. “And what would that be?”

The thief blinked, and spoke, “That... there’s some reason for my hunger.”

“It isn’t merely that you enjoy the food, nor has the food been tainted or enchanted in any manner to encourage your appetite. You would know better than I, of course, it is your stomach,” he said.

She shook her head. “I’m just hungry, is that a crime? Going to throw me in another cell for it?”

“No,” he laughed, “it is not, and I do not plan to, unless you would prefer different accommodations.”

“Got a room with a view?” The thief grinned.

“So that you can descend the wall, just the way you came? No, little thief, I think not. Although I must admit, you have made me curious.”

“I’d rather make you vomit than be curious,” she scoffed.

He ignored it, continuing on. “To scale the wall should be impossible. There are no handholds, no terraces or nooks to rest in, no balconies on which to anchor a hook or rope. And yet, here you are, and what’s more, there was no rope or tools for climbing among your effects, nor any hidden away in the belfry or garden.”

She sat back, putting the platter on the table between them. Her arms crossed over her stomach. “Your point?”

“My point is that what you did have was quite a collection of chemicals, ingredients, and components. More than just powdered sendran mushrooms. Do you fancy yourself an alchemist?”

“They’re just tools,” she said, “means to different ends. Sometimes I need to disappear. Sometimes something else needs to disappear. Sometimes I need to make an escape.”

“That would be your flasks, yes?” he smiled, “I took the liberty of examining them. Simple of course, rudimentary, but I imagine they make quite effective mixtures.”

“I told you not to touch my things,” the thief growled.

“You did. And I haven’t taken a drop nor grain of any of your supply. It will all be returned to you in time.”

She seemed to relax, but kept the sneer on her face. The arcanist held her gaze, until she looked like she’d been forced to speak. “What?” she asked him, irritated.

“My curiosity still remains. By what method did you scale the wall?”

“Like I’d tell you.”

A gesture. “By what method did you scale the wall?”

She blinked. “That’s none of your gods-damned business.”

A gesture, again. “By what method did you scale the wall?”

Another blink, longer, but scowling just as hard. “I flew inside on the back of a fucking sparrow. We’re good friends. Share tea on the weekends.”

Another gesture, his voice edged with a beginning of frustration. “By what method did you scale the wall?”

She blinked even longer, her expression melting as they closed, eyes rolling and fluttering beneath as the lids came up again. “I... n-no, I won’t tell you.”

So be it, he muttered in his mind, one more thing to drag out of you before I wipe those thoughts. The thought of it eased his tension and gave him a momentary tingle of arousal. This thief was quite fetching, and he found his imagination wandering between images of her furious, elated masturbation and the crystalline picture of her body strapped to the chair, eyes gone glassy and lips wet with drool as they answered his every question, repeated his every command deep into her mind. Open to his will, her wants and desires free for him to shape and morph... He shook himself from the reverie, finding even her slow-forming frown a touch attractive now. “No matter,” he waved a hand, “it is only important in that it has connected me with such an interesting guest.“

“Drop dead,” she said flatly.

“And a violent one,” the arcanist smirked. “Perhaps you’ll tell me. Perhaps not. And perhaps I’ll discover it on my own, even still.”

“I won’t, and you won’t.”

“So sure of yourself? The mind can be easily changed, little thief, and not only by sorcery.”

He watched her momentary squirming, her fingers tightening their grips on her forearms as redness crawled up her throat. “Others’ might, but not mine. You’re not half the charmer you seem to think you are.”

“Oh, how you wound me,” he chuckled, “and here I’d been pinning my hopes on winning you over with my dashing looks.” He noted the way her eyes took a glance down his figure before continuing. “Perhaps I might, yet.”

“Drop dead,” she repeated, turning her head to the side and away.

“Not tonight, I don’t think. But I do require my rest.” He stood, watched her head swivel towards him. “I’ll have the candles brought in the morning. Is there anything else that you need?”

She stayed silent, unmoving.

“Then I’ll take my leave. Do have a good evening, little thief.” He took a small bow, and vanished.

At the same instant, he materialized in his study, letting out both a pent-up yawn and a stretch above his head. Hands quickly removed the heavy coat from his arms, and he settled into the wooden seat at his desk, looking over the many pages arrayed with some disdain. The thoughts of glowing and glassy eyes, whimpered and whispered mantras were at the fore of his mind, and he let his attention drift instead to the bundle at the desk’s corner. More attractive than work. The blue cloak had been emptied already, and he set it aside on a shelf. The shirt was plain, soft cotton, unenchanted. He smiled and set it aside with the trousers, then lifted the leather net with both hands and a raised eyebrow. Almost every one of the silver studs holding the leather bands was graven with a rune, a spell for strength and taking the weight. His lips moved, sorcery in the air, and the mass drifted away from his hands, held aloft by the spell and turning as he twisted it this way and that. Flexible. Clever.

He smirked, as he watched the web wrap together, closing around an invisible form, the thief’s form, buttons and straps locking together as he paced around it. It could only fit her. Ingeniously designed, padded just enough to keep it from bruising her torso. His hand traced up its side, testing the magic beneath his fingers as they grazed along each strap and band, a slight shiver coming up his spine as he pictured the thief there, nude, beautiful and bound in a layered maze of leather.

She was clever. That much was certain. Clever, and perhaps useful. He waved the netting away, instructing it with words and movements to fold itself up again and set itself on the pile as he sat. Only the focus was left, now. He raised it by the chain, letting it dangle before his eyes, his face reflecting back in the polished, slightly warping metal sheen. Small, minute lines looped around the sphere, circles of deep enchantments moving in towards its core. He held it up higher, leaning in to admire the craft around its lens, the rough but careful cut of the gem inside. He set it down, found his quill, and began to sketch, manipulating it now and again as he mapped its magical flow, discerned its purpose. He could not use it, no mage could use a focus built for another, but that would not stop him from learning from it. And he knew one who could use it quite effectively.

* * *

The spellthief paced around the room, and then again, and then again, stopping only to brush her hand across Missy’s illusory fur. The cat had returned after the arcanist vanished, but she was no help in matters of planning. She still needed a focus, and she gazed warily down at the lavender candle clutched in her hand, worried that she was only being foolish. No, she answered herself, all I need is a spark. One spark, one hint of the magical cascade she could open herself to, and she’d be free. Or, closer to it. Maybe.

Eventually she sat down, legs crossed into meditative posture, hands positioned around and above the candle, eyes shut and focused intently. The magic would descend and bloom, she would direct it. The flame would light, and she would... she would escape, then. There would be a guard outside. The door only opened from there, and the easiest thing would be to switch places with him. She rolled her shoulders, cracked her neck.

Seduction would be the way. She was already naked. Invite the guard in on some pretext. The chamber pot refusing to self-void. The light globes flickering. She could catch him off guard, run out and lock him in—but perhaps it would be a her, instead. Might be more fun to take it slow that way. Complain about the bed or restlessness. An ache that needs to be seen to. Spreading her legs, beckoning them to come and take a closer look. Shivers moved through her. No, it would likely be a man, and even though she’d taken her kendarine, she hardly wanted it to be necessary. Unless it were that arcanist, some part of her mused, standing in the doorway, taking the invitation, coming close enough to—

“Stop,” she said out loud, “focus...” The magic would come. The flame would light. She would escape. And the arcanist would be waiting. She’d have to wait until the bell had sounded, wait for him to be gone from the tower. If she didn’t, he could appear from nowhere, no matter how quiet her steps, how careful her movements. Condensing out of anywhere like he so often did. Eyes shining with power, he would unleash it upon her, doing more this time than just holding her still, she reckoned. No, her body would be made stiff again, but her mind would be taken, too. He wouldn’t hesitate to stall her thoughts to nothing, to take control of her insensate and mindless muscles. She would listen to his words, feel the commands in his magic, and obey. Her body would dance for him, perhaps even literally. She would be the one beckoned to, invited closer to the bed, close enough to—

“Shit,” she breathed, eyes momentarily opening, trying to steady herself. It’d been too long, yes, but it hadn’t been that long. She wasn’t so hungry for it that she’d stoop to dreaming of him. But she couldn’t deny it—if he were anyone else, anywhere else, she wouldn’t hesitate a moment. A stranger in a public house. Handsome-faced, well-built, energy flowing through him like he was a damned waterfall. So much magic contained behind his words, behind his smile and stare and chuckle, just the sensation of his hand on her shoulder sending aching vibrations down to her core.

She felt her body shivering, tried to focus on the flame instead of the scene in her thoughts. The candle lit, burning and bright on a bedroom table. His eyes glinting behind it, lips flickering in the dim light, whispering words dripping with power, making her ears drunk on the sound of them. The flame danced this way and that, her eyes and mind focused on it entirely as his hands knead into her bare shoulders, a soft moan escaping her lips. The flame was all she needed to focus on, not the touch on her cheek, not the tingling above her collarbone, not the tightness in her chest and the wetness between her legs. She focused, and focused even more, reaching within her own mind to grasp hold of anything, finding only silence and darkness and emptiness, as his hands find her breasts, his words spoken straight into her mind—’Focus, little thief,’ he’d whisper, ‘only on the flame, only on the magic.’ And she would, her mind and body held captive by it as his hands would roam, touch, tease excite and please. Words in her ear, then between, then out of the other ear, her mind hollowed like the inside of a drum, meant only to amplify the sound of the words that beat against it. A steady, rhythmic thing, in and out with the flicker of the flame, the hotness of her breath, feeling her body lifted, shifted, strong hands holding her hips, her eyes and mind entranced and fueling the flame, her body only responding with cries of pleasure as he takes her, moves inside her, sounds of words and magic touching and holding her body, bringing her towards—

The spellthief gasped for air, eyes opening wide, head turning left and right wildly as the lights blurred and streaked in her vision. The room steadied, even as her head still spun. She was alone. She looked down. The candle was unlit. She cursed, tossed it to the table, and looked down further. Her fingers were inside her, and a slight touch nearly made her moan—she held her lips shut with the free hand, breathing hard from her nose. She looked to the bed, fingers still gently grazing.

He’s gone for the night. He won’t return until morning.

She stood, slowly, removing her slick fingers just long enough to cross the room and drop into the bed. She replaced them, shuddered, and slinked towards the center of the sheets. Tiredness began to mix with the arousal almost immediately, turning her fantasies dreamlike. Held on the bed, feeling his hands and lips and tongue licking, kissing, touching her everywhere. Feeling herself pressed to the wall, the floor, strong arms and stronger spells binding her in place. Words in her ears, words in her mind. Feeling herself giving over to him, as her body was giving over to sleep. Her movements slowed, with the rhythm of her lungs, thoughts slowing as the bed’s spell began to wrap around her. A little, noisy part of her protested, that she shouldn’t be thinking this, that it was wrong to do this. But she was thinking it, and she was doing it. And it felt good. A fantasy could, should feel good. And that’s all it was. Nothing more, she reminded herself, as dreams and darkness overpowered thoughts, nothing more.

* * *