Part 1: The Premise, The Alchemist's Illusions

Chapter 6: Damp

Linza had awoken to realize that the terms of her employment were in total disarray. More than a few pages had become wrinkled and smudged by sweat and other secretions. One was torn where it had been caught under an elbow and most were at least slightly crumpled.

Linza had carefully reassembled the sheaf. The most crucial piece, the piece that she was to sign, was nowhere to be found.

After much frantic searching, they had realized that it was plastered to Wyn’s ass and more than a little bit smudged.

Finally, the sheaf was whole again, but looked as blissily bedraggled as Linza and Wyn themselves felt. As Linza washed, Wyn offered that she borrow one of Wyn’s dresses so that she didn’t have to wear the same outfit twice.

Linza weighed the relative embarrassment of showing up in the same clothes as yesterday versus Wyn’s flamboyant fashion sense. The woman did not own a single article of clothing with anything less than four colors. Linza’s coworkers barely noticed her and she liked it that way, so she opted to re-dress in her clothes from the previous day and then she hurried to catch the trolley to work.

She was grateful, for the first time, that her day job was so monotonous.

As she weighed, she pondered. As she scrubbed, she fantasized.

She was glad that nobody came to ask her to proof an equation, because she would have struggled with even the most simple algebra. Her mind was as hazy as if she’d spent the whole day smoking herb.

By lunch, her sex was throbbing insistently.

By the time her work day ended, her panties were soaked through.

She hoped to finally sign her terms of employment and drop them off at the pleasure house on her way home. However, she found that the sheaf had not fared well in her bag all day. Several of the pages were stuck together with dampness and the crucial signature page was still too wet to take fresh ink.

Linza sighed, packing her bag back up. She’d have to head home after all, and drop them off the following night.

As she stepped aboard the trolley, she wondered if any of the other passengers caught the conspicuous scent of sweat from her bag.

The main way around the city was by trolley, and the cobblestone streets were criss-crossed with tracks. A decade prior there had been a massive project — largely sponsored by JSMI — to convert the trolleys from horse-drawn to electric. There was now a network of cables running over the trolley lines, the electricity supplied by massive steam engines and generators in the warehouse district.

In the richer parts of town there were still plenty of carriages. Here there were only a couple. Most of the horses out and about were community watch. One of Linza’s favorite games as she rode the trolley home was to try and spot all of them. They were old and steady folks who rode old and steady horses, gently touring the neighborhood streets from their vantage points. They were always happy to offer directions or advice to residents and visitors alike, and they helped keep mischief at a minimum by dutifully reporting back to children’s parents if they’d been misbehaving.

As the trolley rattled on, there were fewer and fewer carriages and the buildings cramped in tighter, pressing themselves into smaller and smaller spaces. Finally, the trolley trundled up to her stop.

Linza waved at a little grey woman on her little grey horse, Ezra and Carrots respectively, but she ducked inside before Ezra could come over to chat. Linza was fond of her, especially since Linza had no other family nearby, but she wasn’t quite in the mood for a chat.

Her apartment was small but cozy, up on the sixth floor of a building with no mechanical lift. As convenient as a lift would have been, it would have meant that she’d pay ten percent more in rent. So, as it were, she tried to appreciate the exercise.

There were really only two rooms in the apartment. There was her bedroom and then the everything else room. The washroom was as small as it could possibly be, but at least she had her own. She’d had to share a communal washroom with other students all four years as JSMI. Being able to go barefoot in the shower and not having to carry her soap back and forth every day were small luxuries that she did not take for granted.

In the main room, there was a tiny stove, sink, and counter in one corner. Next to that was her desk which doubled as her dining table, and in the opposite corner was a hand-me-down wing back chair from Wyn and a large bookcase that was full and overflowing. On the wall next to it was a row of tiny shelves which hosted a menagerie of little stone figurines. There were snakes and horses and dragons and boats and landscapes and more, in veined marble and mottled granite, all polished to a shine. 

Some of the little stone figures looked as if they’d been whittled from wood — because they had been. Alchemy was the domain of transmutations of all kinds. With just time and focus, Linza could transmute wood, stone, iron, copper, or silver temporarily to another of those materials. One of her favorite hobbies was to get chunks of scrap marble and granite from the stone cutters that prepared it for use in establishments like JSMI, turn them into wood, and then make little figurines.

The level of quality of the figurines on the shelf was quite broad. She’d kept some of her earlier ones which were quite sloppy, partly because they would make poor gifts and partly to remind her how far she’d come.

If she spent an evening at home, usually she’d curl up in the wingback chair and read a book or work on a figurine. 

This night, she started by drawing her laundry line across from its reel by the stove over to the wall with the window. She carefully peeled apart the pages and clipped them up to dry.

Then, she sat at her desk.

Linza dug a fresh notebook out of the bottom of her desk drawer, pressed it open in front of her, and touched her quill to the blank page.

She wrote and wrote and wrote of everything she had imagined that day. When she finally put the quill down, caving to the cramp in her hand and not any end to her flow of ideas, the chair underneath her was notably damp.

Linza checked the clock. It was several hours past midnight! She should have already been long asleep. She hadn’t eaten dinner!

But, there was only one desire in her mind.

She pulled her skirt up and pressed her hand up under the damp cloth of her panties and into the heat of her folds.

It felt so good. Her inner labia were so soft, so swollen. She had really outdone herself this time.

A full day’s worth of arousal quivered underneath her fingers.

She worked herself in circles, collapsing against the desk with a gasp and propping her head with her hand.

Even her mouth watered, though at nothing in particular.

She was tempted to summon a phantasm for herself, but she was unsure of how long it would last. She hadn’t quite gotten a full night’s sleep the day prior, so her capacity for the larger magics may have been exhausted anyway.

Had Linza been anything less than a panting, lust-drunk puddle, she could have easily determined her remaining magical capacity.

As it was, she figured it was best to stick with a cantrip. They were small magic, manipulations of latent energy. They required much more practice to learn than other incantations, but they did not require any of the caster’s own energies as catalyst.

Linza knew exactly what she wanted. Her trembling hand worked through the signs that were as second-nature as writing and the crystal at her throat vibrated again.

The sound of Wyn’s orgasmic scream, shaped from Linza’s memory, filled the little room. It repeated, over and over and over again, interspersed with panting moans. As long as Linza could raise a hand every minute or so to trace the gestures again, the sound would never end.

This was one of the reasons that Linza had paid such fierce attention to their climax together. This memory was fresh and sharp and real.

Linza’s body trembled like a string on a lute between her elbow pressed against the table and the seat in the chair.

And then, in ecstatic crescendo, she sang.

This climax was, somehow, even more incredible than her one the previous night. Slow. Languid. Lingering. Her muscles squeezed, like gentle hands rhythmically wringing out every last drop of pleasure. She had soaked herself in arousal the whole day and there was very, very much to release.

Finally, Linza’s head sank flat on the desk, the wood warm against her cheek.

Her hand had stilled, but was pressed against her mound to capture those last lingering whispers of pleasure. She loved the way her skin felt against her skin in the afterglow.

She fell asleep there, against the desk, for a few minutes. Then she stirred and heaved herself with a sigh into her bed, not even bothering to undress.

Gods, that was the best fuck she’d had in ages.

Nobody knew Linza quite like she knew herself. It was one of the reasons that she and Wyn were friends and not lovers. In one of Wyn’s most profound generosities, it was her cajoling that had finally prompted Linza to learn how to treat herself. And it was Linza learning how to treat herself, and finding that she generally preferred to be alone in her pleasure, that had ended the ‘relationship’ part of their relationship.

That she and Wyn could ‘see’ each other, as the madame had described, was why they were still dear friends.

And Linza was quite content with that.

That wasn’t to say that she wasn’t a romantic. Sure, she fantasized about rose petals and passionate sex, whispered conversations and sweet nothings.

But the great part about fantasizing was that it didn’t come with any of the messiness of real-life romance.

To Linza, it just didn’t seem worth all the fuss.


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