13: Feathers and Leathers
The trip to the vault that had been planned by the guild was to last at least a week. A large number of the Grindhouse Guild members had been recruited for the job. Three teams had been assembled. Master Hoko’s team which consisted of warriors, archers, and rogues. Master Raven’s team consisted of the healers and other magicians and finally Master Martin’s Team, the Dark Arts Division.
The five wagons set out from Cormanworth, heading into the reaches north of the city. Bandits were common, not as many in the last couple of months. Most of the troublesome bandits had become afraid of a demon hunting in the woods along the road. Unknown to all but a few select this was Andrea. At first, when she was feral, murdering anyone she found. Then she hunted the lone bandits, giving them terrible nightmares as she fed. The bandits soon moved on to other less scary hunting grounds, not wanting to become the demon’s next meal.
The caravan could keep to the main road for a while before the wagons would have to move onto rougher terrain. Oliver’s team took the rear wagon. Varriss and Clara sat comfortably on rolled blankets in the back of the wagon. Clara kept a watchful eye on the rear of the caravan, looking for any signs of trouble.
Oliver’s mind was not as much on the road ahead but up in the sky. He had an uneasy feeling in his stomach. He could catch glimpses of Andrea and Charmeine as they dove at each other in the clear skies above. The sound of laughter as they passed sent waves of uneasiness through him. He really could not be jealous of these two, could he? She’s a demon, a succubus he just kept telling himself; she has no real feelings for him or Charmeine.
Andrea was up in the air with the half-celestial Charmeine Vestule. The two were on scout duty, though a good portion of the work was mostly playing. She enjoyed chasing his blue-winged figure through the skies. His angelic form provided a near-perfect representation of a divine creature. He said he had Toluene’s bloodline in him. If he only knew she had the bloodline of a god in her too. She would like him for a night, maybe just to be tickled by his feathers, but she was not sure if that was just her dark nature playing out.
Ever since Andrea first met Charmeine back when she first entered Cormworth, she attracted him. Her heart fluttered when she was near him, much like it did when she first met Oliver. He was pleasing to look at; the sharp muscular build was everything that a woman could want. He was confident in his abilities, maybe a bit overconfident. Charmeine had been more open to her advances but still kept a safe wall between himself and her.
Oliver had kept ignoring her, keeping himself distant from her desires. She really liked Charmeine; maybe he liked her too. These emotional games are all too frustrating. Oliver had a special bond with her, but he refused her at the same time. He was the only one who could stop her nightmares. She had hoped that Mr. Morgan would be able to, but no. Mr. Morgan just made them worse; he was a truly evil man. Maybe Charmeine could take Oliver’s place? Andrea was so confused; Katalina had told her that Oliver was a good match for her. Andrea pondered. How could I make Master see that I really cared for him? I am not going to do the things that Heather had done to him. The heart is truly twisted and chaotic; this is something she struggled to understand.
Andrea wanted to take Charmeine, enter his mind, and make him like her. She knew that making him do this was the wrong action to do. Free will was important, and Andrea did not want to strip this from him. This type of behavior is what a succubus would do, warp the victim’s mind for the desired result. She knew this would make the relationship hollow and false. Andrea needed to keep this aspect of Torment, her demonic persona restrained.
Andrea’s mind went back to the games she played with Charmeine; this was much more entertaining. Charmeine and Andrea would dive and chase after each other. Charmeine was a better flier having more practice. He would dive, twist, and turn quicker than Andrea; she was constantly overshooting, missing, and nearly crashing into trees. She had to slow considerably to make the turns. Andrea was not using her natural wings, but the spell she used to create the false leathery wings. The spell was less maneuverable and slower than her normal flight abilities. Andrea might even be able to match Charmeine only if she was using her real wings.
Andrea was only dressed in her light leathers she got for the adventure, not her city wear. These were light leathers she had magically dyed the color with blues and whites to match Charmeines feathery wing colors. The leathers were light enough that she could fly in without the aid of magic. Much like all of her dresses and shirts, the lower back was exposed, so when her demonic red wings extended, the newly formed wings would not rip apart the clothing or armor. Andrea even boldly added the symbol of a Circled Hand on the chest. This annoyed the followers of Bhuul as she was portraying an evil god, the worst of the worst. She kept her staff and Bloodfang along with a leather pouch on her belt. All of her other equipment and gear she left-back with the wagons.
Charmeine, the perfectly tan-skinned half-celestial with the white feather styled hair and crystal blue eyes, was dressed similarly; he had a gold and white color scheme. Prominently displaying the holy vestiges of Toluene, the two angel wings attached to a sword. Charmeine preferred weapon of choice was a long spear that he called ‘Testament.’ It was a gift from the god Toluene himself; all of the family had a weapon in some manner that was built by the gods hand. He also carried a smaller dagger for back up, just in case he lost his primary weapon.
The two leveled with each other in the sky, and Andrea caught up with him. The airflow washing across her body was amazing to Andrea. She liked this feeling. She usually did not get a chance to fly during the daylight hours. She looked across at Charmeine; she swooped below him and flipped around to face him; she had a smile of joy. “This is wonderful! I could fly with you all day. Just this.” Her playful smile returned, “Have you ever thought of sky-dipping?”
Charmeine had to think for a moment; the confusion on his face was evident, “What?”
Andrea circled above him, “You know, flying without your clothes on, like skinny-dipping in a lake or river. Letting the flow of air across your body, feeling every current whipping about.”
He grinned she truly had no shame, “No, Hatchling, that is very improper.”
Andrea chuckled, “Why? You have a perfectly divine body, you should flaunt it with mine.”
Andrea circled underneath him again and looked up; she had a satisfying grin on her face, raised her eyebrows for a moment, then turned her gaze back to the extending forest below.
Charmaine caught up with her shaking his head; he already knew about her advances. She had been practically tempting him since the first day he met her. “Hatchling these are the joys of flight. To soar into the heavens. To see the ground beneath you. To feel the wind across your body. You do get this hatchling?” He had given her a nickname trying to tease her. He spun around her, and Andrea tried to match his orientation and spun out; she went spiraling down in an uncontrolled spin. He heard her cursing as she descended rapidly towards the earth. She was trying to change her spin. Charmeine watched for a moment, then tucked his wings and dove down, his dive now gaining speed on the spiraling girl. He reached out and grabbed hold of her, wrapping himself around her waist in a mid-air tackle. His wings spread in an event to slow their descent.
Charmeine reassuringly yelled, “I got you, Hatchling!”