((Continued from: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1450&start=60))
Uluki and Rollick exchanged a look when Aorle suggested they take time as a family. On the one hand, that would obviously be a good thing to do at this juncture. Dash still looked extremely angry and would need some time to calm down before she could socialize politely with the refugees, Kira was clearly somewhat distressed, and Kaydee, who while not really part of the family now seemed almost like she was, had been acting a little bit distracted and off all day, though she was as polite and pleasant as ever. Clearly some time was needed for regrouping.
On the other hand, that meant that for the first part of the morning Uluki and Rollick would not be directly supervising the refugees, and they were reluctant to rely on the fairy-haters’ trust of someone they barely knew— even someone who was as obviously trustworthy as Aorle— to keep them from running to the Guard to report that a fairy at the compound was bewitching people. After all, Uluki should have been trustworthy too. Before they adjourned to their room, Uluki had a quiet conversation with Jenny while Rollick talked to the warriors who would supervise the digging, both warning of the possibility of defection. Rollick then offered to let Delphina see the log book as promised, but she seemed reluctant to come to their room; not wanting to turn it into a big issue after all that had already transpired that morning, in spite of his irritation Rollick said he would bring it to her instead. That done, the family went upstairs.
Rollick knocked on the door of Delphina’s room, and entered when she called, “Come in!”
“I brought the log book, if you’re sure you want to read it. It’s quite… oh gods! You’re unclothed!”
The last part didn’t really need pointing out, as Delphina was surely aware she hadn’t a stitch on her, but Rollick was too surprised and shocked to make a more intelligent comment on the subject. He looked away instantly, at the walls, at the floor, at anything but the expanse of smooth, pale skin bared before him.
How had this happened? She must have been changing her clothes, and he had blundered in on her. At any moment she would start screaming at him to get out, start throwing things at him…
But even in the midst of his embarrassment and unpleasant surprise, Rollick was fairly sure he had knocked, and waited to be invited in. He didn’t think he had barged into the room, even unintentionally. But if that was the case, why was he faced with a naked woman who assuredly wasn’t his wife?
She moved toward him, and he backed away, but she continued to advance. He was against the door, fumbling behind him for the knob, when he realized the door opened inward and now had his weight against it. In his discomfiture he had treated her like an enemy in combat who he couldn’t turn his back on, but had still let her chase him into a corner. Stupid, he was stupid! How could he be so calm on the battlefield and yet so easily thrown off his stride by strange women?
“It’s alright, Rollick,” Delphina purred, leaning toward him. “It’s just you and me here. No one will ever find out about this.”
In spite of the painfully awkward situation and his strong desire to just disappear or melt into the floorboards, Rollick couldn’t help but notice how pro-forma Delphina’s seduction routine seemed. She wasn’t attracted to Rollick in the slightest; she was just going through the motions with him as she had countless times with her clients when she was a prostitute. This rehearsed little scene was far from erotic, and just seemed rather sad and pathetic.
“Madam, I don’t know what you hope to gain from this, but your behaviour is highly improper.” He grasped her by the shoulders and propelled her backwards, firmly but still taking care not to do damage to her. “I am a happily married man, and I don’t think any of the other warriors would be pleased to be taken by surprise by such a display.” Though Rollick couldn’t vouch for the personal tastes of the Lightswords, shock and embarrassment weren’t typically things that put a man in the mood. “You no longer have any need to earn your coin in such a manner.”
Delphina scowled at him as though wounded. “I wasn’t ‘earning my coin,’ as you so delicately put it. I ain’t a whore no more.”
“I would never accuse you of such a thing, but surely you can see how your actions might be misinterpreted?” Rollick couldn’t believe how calmly the words were coming out of his mouth. It was surreal. “Exposing oneself to a stranger is not entirely befitting of a lady, and generally will not be well received.”
“I wouldn’t do it to the other men. I know it’s shocking. It’s just, I had to seduce you to break the fairy’s spell. Once you slept with me, her hold on you would be broken. So I had to. One of us had to, at least, and I said I’d do it because I’m the prettiest.” She brushed her fingers over her chest and downward; Rollick’s face went red and he wrenched open the door, prepared to flee.
Uluki was standing in the hall, her mouth open. A few pages from the log book were clutched in her hand— they had separated from the old, cracked binding, and fallen out as Rollick carried the book— and she had come to drop them off. Seeing Rollick dashing out of the room pursued by a naked woman, an unreadable expression crossed Uluki’s face, and she disappeared around the corner.
“Uluki, come back! Oh gods… you stay there!” he instructed Delphina. “And put some clothes on. As castellan, I order you to get dressed!” It struck Rollick as strange and ironic that the first time he had pulled rank was with a civilian, and on a matter about which he had no idea of the protocol. Was it within his powers to order a non-soldier to wear clothes? If not, at least Delphina probably wouldn’t be aware he was overstepping.
Uluki was just down the hall, sitting on the floor with her arms wrapped around herself, her body shaking. He could see moisture on her cheeks.
“Uluki, it wasn’t what it looked like. Please, I’m sorry…”
She looked up at him, and he realized that she wasn’t sobbing as he’d initially thought. She was laughing. Hard. So hard tears were coming out. “You should have seen your face!” she chortled. “You looked like you were trying to swallow a lemon. And Delphina… my goodness. You can tell she’s never had a baby! Did you see her…?”
“Yes, I did,” Rollick said quickly, not waiting to hear which particular physical feature Uluki was commenting on. He’d seen far more of Delphina than he’d cared to, in fact. “And it wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience. Are you really alright, dear one? I was afraid when you saw, you’d think… you’d think I wasn’t any more faithful than…”
Uluki smiled sympathetically and patted the floor beside her, encouraging him to sit down. When he did so, she took his hand. “Rollick, there are places in me that used to hurt, that don’t any more because of you. I know I can trust you. I have no fears about your fidelity. You make me feel safe, not scared. I’m alright now, because you showed me I can be. So when I saw her without clothes, and you with your lemon-face…”
“It was not a lemon-face. It was much more dignified than a lemon-face.” Rollick was relaxing a bit, able to share her joke now that he realized she wasn’t sad or angry.
“…You with you with your very-lemon-like-face, I knew you weren’t betraying me. Because you don’t do that. And you have to admit, it was really funny.”
“Somewhat funny, perhaps. Mildly amusing.”
“Really funny!” she insisted, smiling at him.
“Alright, fine. Have it your way, Duskling. It was really funny.” He smiled too and wrapped his arms around her. She snuggled against him, still chuckling.