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Casting Off Convention (Pt. 2 of 2)

Already flying in the face of a societal norm, Christi discovers another she wants to cast off.
Christi and Rochelle both rose early, feeling quite refreshed from the unbroken sleep. They aided the men who were chosen to cook, and the smell of breakfast soon roused the camp.

The company set out once more, moving at a slightly quicker pace this time. Well rested now, the former captives were better able to keep up. Rochelle told stories about her time as a mercenary, making the morning pass swiftly for Christi, the sisters, and Cordain, who all moved closer so that they could hear as they traveled.

This spread to nearly the entire company sitting around listening to Rochelle when they stopped for lunch. Even Raptor and his experienced lieutenants seemed to hang on her every word. Rochelle had led an adventurous life, and she was young enough that she had many more years to accumulate new tales of valor and sacrifice.

As with the first day, the trek proved to be a simple march. They encountered only a few merchants traveling in the opposite direction, and a farmstead here and there along the way. Cordain suggested that they leave the road, which turned toward a town and would take them far out of their way. Instead, he favored a cross-country route that would bring them to their destination several hours earlier.

Raptor agreed after Cordain assured him that the waist-high grass covering the gently rolling hills hid no obstacles that would impede the wagon or their march. What truly won the Captain over was the news that by turning away from the road, they would pass near the home of an acquaintance of Cordain's. His friend could provide them with the means to cook a full meal at around the time they would normally stop to make camp for the evening.

Christi was surprised by how smooth the path was, considering that they were marching across open territory. Cordain explained that it was a property of the climate and the tall grasses, the roots of which held the earth tightly packed.

The company briefly stopped near a stream to have the noon meal. Christi and Rochelle sat, leaning against the wheels of Cordain's wagon, where they were shielded from the sun as they ate.

Christi dropped the final bite of jerky she held as she started feeling drowsy. Shaking her head and fighting against the unexplained phenomenon, Christi looked over to see Rochelle's eyes flutter and close. Her eyelids felt as if they were weighed down by iron. Christi did her best to look around to discover if anyone else was afflicted with the same lethargy. As she slumped down into the tall grass, still fighting to keep her eyes open, she saw other members of the company collapsing as well.

Christi clenched her teeth and bent every ounce of her will to keeping her eyes open. At first, she thought that she would lose the battle, and then the pressure vanished. She started to get up, but an unfamiliar voice on the other side of the wagon gave her pause.

"You were right. He's shaking it off, and so are they."

The voice was low and gruff, almost growling. Turning slowly, taking care not to rustle the grass, Christi peered beneath the wagon and saw two sets of legs through the thick vegetation, as well as the slowly rousing forms of Corrine and Celeste.

"Of course I'm right. I know them, and the family resistance to magic. This will be a lot more fun because they'll be awake to enjoy it."

The second voice was high-pitched, and the speaker had a drawl that he was trying to suppress, which nevertheless revealed him to be from a rural area. Christi edged underneath the wagon, creeping toward the two men.

"You can get up. I know you're awake," the man with the drawl announced.

The sound of grass rustling greeted Christi's ears as she continued to slowly move forward, pushing the grass aside and inching toward the other side of the wagon where the two men stood.

"Sit up, and don't try to run," the other newcomer warned as he jerked at Corrine's blouse.

The two women warily sat up, a sword pointed at them to accentuate the warning the man had growled. Christi silently cursed, wondering what she could possibly do against two men who obviously planned to use the sisters as insurance against attack.

Cordain's voice was full of seething anger when he spoke. "No magic of yours could have put all these men to sleep, Aruld. So, have you been stealing from wizards in their sleep?"

The man with the high-pitched voice must have been Aruld, because he responded, "I killed him and took what I wanted. The sleep globe, the orc charm, and this here wand," he said, producing the magic item from where he had concealed it in the waist of his pants.

As Christi continued to crawl forward, she saw the wand the man spoke of now aimed at Celeste, who looked up and scowled at the man who held it.

"A cowardly strike from concealment – in the back, no doubt," Cordain spat back at the man.

"I do what I have to do," Aruld confirmed. "Now, you're going to stand there nice and still, or I'll burn your whore sisters but good. I planned to use the orcs to kill them and get my revenge that way, but you messed that up. Now I think I'll hold them for ransom."

Christi heard the hiss of a sword leaving its scabbard. She was close enough that she could have reached out and grabbed either of the men, but with the sword and wand both pointed at the women they held as hostages, she couldn't risk any rash action.

Aruld threatened, "Don't move Cordain!" He pressed the tip of the wand hard against Celeste's breast as he screamed the order.

The sound of Cordain's sword sliding back into the scabbard preceded Aruld speaking again. "Smart choice," he laughed. Then he ordered the other man, "Now, go get his sword and tie him up. Make sure he can watch us leave with the whores."

The sword tip that had hovered dangerously close to Corrine moved out of Christi's vision as the larger man with the deep voice moved through the grass. Christi counted her heartbeats as the man moved, and then seized the only opportunity she could think of. Snapping out her hand, she grabbed the wand and jerked it out of Aruld's grip.

Christi heard him scream in stunned disbelief, "What?"

Cordain's sword hissed free once more as he loosed a battle cry. Christi dropped the wand, pulled one of her daggers and stabbed it into Aruld's leg – or tried to. He moved at the last moment and the blade only scratched his flesh, but the distraction was enough for Corrine and Celeste to scramble under the wagon away from him. The sound of Cordain's blade striking the other man's sword rang out at the same time.

Christi quickly turned and crawled out from under the wagon to make room for the sisters. She then stood and drew her sword. Aruld turned toward her, narrowing his eyes and snarling, "You bitch!"

Christi stalked around the wagon as Cordain battled with the larger man, not far away. Aruld drew his sword and said, "Throw it down, wench, or you die."

Cordain and his opponent stood close together, their blades locked. Cordain shoved hard, forcing the man back and yelled, "Beware, he is well trained!"

Christi heeded the warning, but she had little choice other than to engage the man. The sisters were still too close – still in danger – and she couldn't allow Aruld to join his comrade, gaining an advantage over Cordain.

Christi taunted, "Why don't you try having some fun with me, rube?"

The verbal barb, aimed at his attempt to disguise his heritage, drew blood. Aruld raised his blade and stalked with murderous purpose toward Christi.

Balanced on the balls of her feet, with her sword at the ready, Christi waited for the man to reach her. He didn't waste time on more words, instead launching an attack as soon as he was within range. Christi easily deflected the slash aimed for her throat, pushing the blade up high in the process.

Aruld recovered quickly, whipping his sword into an overhand strike. Christi must have surprised him with her speed, because when she spun out of the way of his strike, he was slightly off balance. Christi took the opportunity to stab at his chest from the side, but he turned and planted his feet quickly, deflecting her strike wide with his blade.

Christi followed the momentum of the deflection, spinning again and feigning a strike toward his back, then stepped away almost instantly. He was not fooled by the feint and set to attack again, pointing his weapon toward her and circling around her in perfect balance.

Again, Christi taunted him, "Trying to find water, farm boy? You're supposed to use a forked stick."

Aruld snarled, "Stupid woman," as he continued to await an opportunity to strike.

Christi remained facing him, keeping her balance and ready to defend or move, as necessary. "Have a problem with women? Maybe you prefer sheep," she said with a smile and a chuckle.

Growling, he stepped forward and launched a vicious slash at her neck. Rather than parry the attack and counter with her weapon, Christi instead ducked under the stroke and kicked him hard in his right shin, rolling backward almost as soon as her foot connected. She then popped back up with her sword at the ready.

The kick did some damage, because Aruld favored the leg as he sought another opening to attack. "You fight without honor."

"I fight to win," Christi retorted, moving in and stabbing at his chest. He parried the blow, but flinched when Christi feigned another kick. The momentary reaction to the false attack gave Christi an opening that nearly penetrated his guard. Only the skill Cordain had mentioned prevented the man from taking a deep wound to his off shoulder.

A gurgling cry sounded as the other fighter facing Cordain slumped to the ground. Christi remained at the ready, seeking an opening and prepared for any incoming attack.

"Drop your weapon, Aruld," Cordain ordered as he approached, his blade dripping blood. "You are now outnumbered, and your purloined magic will not long prevent the odds from increasing against you."

"Those odds have already taken another turn in our favor," Celeste announced from beneath the wagon. She was pointing the wand at Aruld, and the sparkle of power on the tip of the wand revealed that she had discovered how to use it.

"As usual, you win because of your wealth, stolen from hard-working folk," Aruld accused, dropping his weapon to the ground.

"I find that criticism difficult to take to heart, when it was only stolen magic that gave you any hope of succeeding in your dark scheme," Cordain replied while kicking the discarded sword out of Aruld's reach.

Cordain's prediction that the magic Aruld had used to put the rest of the company to sleep would not last long proved true when a few groans revealed that others had awakened. The sisters crawled out from beneath the wagon, and Celeste cast a spell that bound their attacker in bands of ruddy-colored energy.

Cordain pointed at the man he had killed and asked, "Does this man have kin to whom we might return his body?"

"As if you would go to the trouble," Aruld sneered.

"I certainly will, if you will but tell me how to contact his kin. No man deserves an unmarked grave in a lonely field, regardless of his ill-considered choices in life."

Aruld actually looked stunned by this revelation, but his face regained the hard cast of anger and he responded, "He had no kin. I was the only friend he had in the world."

"A pity he did not meet you before your heart turned dark then, for once you were a man of honor."

Aruld turned his head away, the anger in his face masking whatever thoughts might be running through his mind.

Celeste turned to Christi and said, "Thank you, Christi. We once again owe you our lives."

"I was so frightened. I couldn't think. Thank you, Christi," Corrine agreed.

The sound of people awakening became more frequent, and a few of the men rose unsteadily to their feet as Cordain retrieved some rope from the wagon to tie up Aruld.

By the time the captive was bound, most of the camp had awakened. Cordain then walked over to Christi and stood looking at her for a moment before declaring, "I owe you a great debt – one which I am unsure is within my ability to repay."

Raptor came over, still trying to blink the sleep out of his eyes, and asked, "What happened?"

"I will be glad to tell you the tale, good Captain, as soon as we have attended to these," Cordain said, gesturing to Aruld and the dead man. "It is a tale of valor that all should hear."

Color rose in Christi's face, something that happened very rarely to her.

"Fair enough," Raptor said with a nod, and then shouted to the rest of the company, "You dogs get the rest of the men up and moving, and somebody break out the shovels."

****

Cordain had a flair for language, as did his sisters, and Christi's embarrassment continued, though a great swell of pride accompanied it as the story unfolded for the company.

The men, even those who had so callously muttered about women in the company, showed a high level of respect to Christi from that point forward. Most everyone took the time to congratulate her personally as the group marched onward, including Raptor and Rochelle.

Having a full meal – and the added treat of beer – once the company reached the home of Cordain's acquaintance raised their spirits even more. Christi, Rochelle, and the three siblings sat near the large tent, talking for a few minutes more before going to bed down for the night.

"Your resistance to magic is quite phenomenal for one not versed in the Art," Cordain remarked. "Have you ever considered studying the Mystic Arts?"

Christi drank the final swallow from her cup of beer and shook her head. "No. All I've ever known is practice with my sword and daggers. I'm not exactly the type to learn magic."

Cordain smiled at her. "One may combine the blade with the Art, as I do," he argued.

"Not exactly something I'm liable to stumble into," Christi responded with a shrug.

"I will copy some of the easier spells for you when we have reached our home," Celeste revealed. "You can at least see if you have some aptitude, if you will not stay and try to learn from me."

"I'll look. Some magic tricks could come in handy in a fight," Christi admitted.

Rochelle yawned and stretched. "Okay, I've been up forever – not counting our magical nap – and I'm going to bed."

"As should we all," Cordain stated.

"One more day on the road, and then it's time to celebrate," Rochelle said as she opened the tent flap and walked inside.

Christi yawned, exhausted from the march and the fight with Aruld, who was at the moment being transported to a magistrate to be punished for his crimes. Christi echoed the other warrior-woman, "One more day. I'm off to bed too."

Cordain nodded his head respectfully and went to his own small tent as the women bedded down for the night.

Christi awoke deep in the night, her breathing quick, and her face flushed, having had a vivid sexual dream about Celeste. The ache between her legs was so strong that she had to assuage it with her fingers beneath the blankets.

As her eyes opened, her body still trembling in orgasmic release, Christi thought she saw Rochelle's eyes open. Closing hers to a narrow slit, she looked at Rochelle again. After a few moments, she decided it had been her imagination.

With a final shudder, she pulled her hand from between her legs and drifted back off to sleep.

Rochelle licked her lips and took in a deep breath, savoring the hint of Christi's arousal in the air.

****

"I will be so glad to see home again," Corrine remarked as they ate the noon meal the next day.

Celeste added, "As will I. I have learned a lesson about depending upon my magic to carry me through the dangers presented by traveling alone."

Rochelle asked, "So, what's this Dalesholme like? Any decent inns and taverns? I'm looking to celebrate a bit before we hit the road again to join up with the rest of the Hawks. I'm ready for some comfort."

Cordain laughed and replied, "You will find that the taverns provide a great deal of pleasurable diversion. The city is accustomed to mercenary visitors, and some even make their home there, when they choose to settle for a time. As to your accommodations during your stay, I hope that the two of you will guest with us."

"Isn't that going to breed some bad blood with the rest of the company?" Christi speculated.

Rochelle blew a raspberry. "Nah – we won't be there long, and they'll all be so drunk the first day that they won't even remember it. You've certainly earned your right to enjoy a bit of special treatment, Christi."

Christi shrugged and asserted, "I was just doing the job we're being paid to do."

Rochelle clapped her friend on the shoulder and said, "The point is – you did it damn well."

"I agree," affirmed Cordain. "I will ensure that no large fanfare accompanies your stay, despite the likelihood that our mother might wish otherwise. I plan to provide the accommodations for the rest of the company at the finest hostel in the city, and they will thus retain the coin they would have otherwise spent on lodging for their entertainment."

Rochelle laughed and grabbed Christi's shoulder, exclaiming, "So quit worrying, and enjoy your reward for a job well done."

Celeste suggested to Cordain, "They should have the guest rooms in the East wing, near the stairs." She the turned to Christi and Rochelle and said, "The rooms are adjoined by a bath – a warm one."

"This is getting better every minute," Rochelle remarked.

Raptor shouted out, "Get your boots on, and get ready to march! I'm ready to collect my pay, and find a place to rest my carcass where there's a bunk between me and the ground!"

Rochelle stood, shouldered her pack, and asked Cordain, "How much longer?"

"Three – perhaps four hours," he replied, "We should begin seeing the farms that surround the city within a few minutes."

Rochelle took a deep breath and said, "I can almost smell the beer already."

Christi laughed as she shouldered her own pack, and the company prepared to move out.

****

Everyone in the company had a spring in his or her step as they approached the city of Dalesholme a few hours later. The city was fair-sized, walled, and a steady stream of traffic moved in and out as the company marched toward the gates. A few of the men who had visited the city before spoke about the lively nature of the taverns, as well as the beauty of the women of negotiable virtue.

Cordain sent a young man he met near the gate running to the keep that was his ancestral home. He then directed the company to the hostel where they would bed down for free during their stay.

Along the way, friendly townsfolk and other mercenaries greeted them, and many who knew Cordain and the sisters moved to express their joy regarding the siblings’ safe return. The town bustled with a busy marketplace and merchant shops scattered on nearly every street.

The young man returned with a smiling servant just as the group reached the hostel. Raptor received the coin owed for the rescue and the march, and distributed it with praise for each mercenary’s efforts. Cordain then distributed the bonuses, which amounted to double the coin promised for the work. His final announcement, that he would pay for their stay at the hostel, drew a loud cheer from the company. The men quickly stowed their gear and hurried toward the taverns.

Cordain led his siblings, Christi, and Rochelle to the keep, where he showed the two mercenaries to their rooms. The chambers were lavish for guest rooms, and the bath that lay between them was large enough for more than one person to share. Cordain said he would have it filled immediately, and would ensure it remained warm until they chose to use it.

Rochelle clapped her hands as she tossed her pack down at the foot of her bed. "Okay, I'm ready to go celebrate. Let's go join the rest of the company at the tavern."

Celeste said, "I will bring copies of a few easy spells for you in the morning, Christi."

"Not too early. I may not be in the best shape first thing in the morning," Christi remarked with a laugh as she sat down her own pack.

"In the afternoon, then," Celeste responded with a laugh of her own.

"I can have hot water brought for the basins, if you wish to wash before going back into the city," Cordain offered.

Rochelle shrugged and said, "I'm not worried about it. The place where everyone is going sounds like it's a sellsword watering hole, and we probably won't stand out with the grit of the road on us. After a couple of beers, I won't care anyway."

Christi gestured with her thumb and said, "I'm with her. I'm ready for a few drinks."

"The guards at the gates have been ordered to give you admittance at any hour. Go and enjoy the fruits of your labors," Cordain said with a nod of his head.

The two warrior-women did exactly that, without delay.

****

Although they had been close to stumbling when they left the tavern, the walk in the night air back to the keep had sobered Christi and Rochelle enough that they were able to walk straight and steady by the time they arrived. They were both still feeling very good, however.

As promised, the guards admitted them without hesitation, and they reached their rooms shortly thereafter. Christi ran her fingers through her hair and wrinkled her nose. "I'm definitely ready for a bath now. You'd think that a man would figure out that when he can't manage to hold onto a beer without spilling it on someone, he doesn't need any more."

"Same here," Rochelle responded and walked over to open the door that adjoined their rooms. After opening the door and looking inside, she turned back to Christi and said, "Cordain kept his promise. The tub is full, it's steaming, and there are towels and soap left in there for us."

Christi asked, "You want to go first?"

Rochelle jerked her head toward the open door. "The tub is big enough. We should just share. That way one of us won't be stuck waiting."

Thoughts and emotions immediately went to war in Christi's head and heart. Before she even realized what she was saying, she responded, "Sure," the alcohol in her system overcoming her hesitation.

Rochelle smiled and walked into the bath, and Christi followed. Christi had to fight hard to keep her eyes off Rochelle as the other woman undressed. She was concentrating so hard on keeping her eyes away from Rochelle's body, that she didn't notice Rochelle was doing little to hide her admiration of Christi's nude form.

The two women slipped into the bath and started to wash. Christi felt tingles running through her body every time Rochelle brushed up against her, and it seemed as if the other woman was constantly doing so as she washed and shaved her legs.

While Rochelle shaved her mound, Christi at last acknowledged something that she had truly known for a long time. She was attracted to other women. It was a purely sexual attraction, but it was undeniable. Christi actually felt relieved once she admitted the truth to herself, and the feelings weren't quite as disturbing as they had been. The thing that was disturbing her now was that she doubted she would ever be able to explore those feelings, because there was little chance she would summon up the courage to discuss the subject with another woman.

Rochelle finished shaving and ran two fingers over her full outer labia, now smooth once again. When she raised her eyes, she saw Christi looking at her. Christi's eyes were focused on her freshly shaven sex, but the woman almost appeared to be looking through her, deep in thought, as opposed to at her.

Rochelle offered the scissors and razor to Christi. "Want to trim up a bit? I kind of get the impression you're a bit embarrassed about how untamed your hair is down there."

Christi's eyes snapped back into focus, and she quickly turned her head so that she wasn't gazing at the other woman's pussy. Thinking it would perhaps cover her stare, and actually wanting to trim back the wild, bushy patch between her legs, Christi said, "Yes, it does bother me a bit." She then took the scissors and razor, rising up to her knees and sitting the razor down on the edge of the tub.

Christi had difficulty manipulating the scissors. The angle was strange to her, and she constantly felt as if she was holding the dainty clippers in the wrong hand.

Rochelle rose up and asked, "Do you want me to do it for you? You'll get used to it in time, but there's a lot of work to do down there, and I can do it easier."

Christi felt wetness gathering between her legs that had nothing to do with the water in the tub. Her tongue felt like a lead weight in her mouth, so she nodded in response to the question.

Rochelle put her hands on Christi's abdomen, pushing a little. "Lean back and put your hands on the edge of the tub behind you."

Christi followed the instructions, which served to thrust her crotch forward toward the other woman. Rochelle put her hands on Christi's knees, and then slowly moved her hands forward toward the dark tangle of hair. Once Rochelle's hands reached Christi's thighs, she pushed them apart with gentle pressure.

Christi parted her thighs, her heart beating fast in her chest. She fought hard not to shudder from Rochelle's touch, and hoped that the other woman wouldn't notice how wet she was getting.

Rochelle did notice, and she had to fight just as hard to not let her arousal show.

Working with practiced efficiency, Rochelle snipped the long hair surrounding Christi's sex, steadily revealing her folds. She breathed in the scent of Christi's arousal, letting her fingers stray – in what appeared to be an innocent manner – to the other woman’s hood.

Christi's breathing quickened, and she could not help but watch with rapt attention as Rochelle revealed her nether lips. Her nipples were turgid points, and her clit throbbed, begging for attention. She wanted nothing more than for Rochelle to put down the scissors and slide a finger or tongue between her folds. Rochelle smiled as she labored, and Christi thought the other woman's nipples looked hard as well. Christi curiously wondered, Is she getting hot from touching me?

Rochelle snapped the scissors one last time and put them down on the edge of the tub. She then cupped her hands and dipped them in the water, pouring it over Christi's mound to wash away any loose hair. Once she had done this three times, Rochelle ran her fingers over the tips of Christi's now close-cropped hairs and asked, "Do you like it?"

Christi couldn’t suppress the shudder that ran through her body from that touch, and the suggestive tone in Rochelle's voice. Nodding her head, Christi replied, "Yes," with hints of the need she felt present in her tone, despite all attempts to keep her voice normal and neutral.

Rochelle asked, "Would you like me to shave you?" She continued to let her fingers move up and down over the short hairs, sending a shiver running through Christi's body. "It's certainly cooler out in the heat, and I know it makes me feel cleaner. I think you'd look good with just a little triangle pointing down, like a signpost."

"Yes, do it," Christi replied, her voice husky as her desire built toward a fever pitch.

A crooked grin decorated Rochelle's face as she reached for the razor. She picked up another handful of water to wet the hair between Christi's legs, and then began to shave her, starting with the hair on her outer lips.

Christi's breathing steadily deepened as Rochelle pulled the razor, shearing away the hair and leaving soft, bare skin behind. Rochelle's fingers tugged at her lips, moving them to reach hairs in the creases, and sending shockwaves of pleasure up Christi's spine with every touch. Though too absorbed in watching the other woman between her legs to notice, she was wet to the point of dripping.

Rochelle certainly noticed, the heady scent making her mouth water as she finished shaving away the hair surrounding Christi's sex. Turning her attention to the remaining patch above, she sculpted the hair into a triangle, as she had mentioned earlier.

With a final stroke of the razor, and a last splash of water, Rochelle finished. Putting the razor down, she cupped Christi's sex in her hand and ran it upward over the smooth flesh. "Does it feel good?"

The suggestion in Rochelle's voice this time was completely unmasked, as was the desire in her eyes. The two women's eyes locked, silently communicating their desires.

Christi sucked in a sharp, noisy breath, unable to prevent the sound from escaping her, or to keep her body from trembling under Rochelle's touch. She gasped out, "Gods, yes."

A crooked, knowing smile spread across Rochelle's face. She let out a moan and put her hands on the edge of the tub, leaning over Christi – their eyes still locked. Letting her breasts brush against Christi's as she moved forward, Rochelle kissed her.

With her weight supported by her hands behind her, Christi could barely move as she quivered and returned the kiss. Rochelle's tongue snaked out and tickled Christi's gums, and then their tongues intertwined.

Christi moaned when Rochelle rose up from the kiss, looking into her eyes again. Christi's pussy ached to be touched, and there was a sensation of warmth running throughout her body, manifested in a flush of color in her face and chest.

Rochelle reached behind Christi and wrapped her arms around her, guiding her up into another kiss as they knelt in the quickly cooling water. When they broke from the kiss, Rochelle said, "I knew you wanted me. I saw you looking at me. Celeste, and Corrine, too. You don't understand those feelings, do you?"

Christi licked her lips and replied, "I think I do now."

Rochelle let out a sharp moan that bordered on a purr. Reaching down to caress Christi's bottom for a moment, she then stood up and stepped out of the tub, grasping Christi's hand as she did so. Christi allowed Rochelle to guide her, standing and stepping out as well.

Rochelle moved to pull down a towel hanging from a peg on the wall while looking back over her shoulder at Christi. Christi, in turn, watched the play of Rochelle's muscles in her back and buttocks as the woman sensually strutted the couple of steps toward the towel.

Christi stroked her hands over Rochelle's body as the woman blotted her dry. The feeling was so much different from that of touching a man. Rochelle's skin was smooth, and not covered in hair like the men Christi had bedded. Quiet sounds of pleasure emerged from her whenever the towel passed over a sensitive part of her body, and it was not only her most private parts that caused those sensations. Every inch of Christi's body felt alive with energy. Even the most innocent touch to her abdomen, her back, or any number of other places carried a sensual power that made Christi gasp.

The same erotic pulses of pleasure shot through her when Rochelle handed her the towel to return the favor. Christi was fascinated by Rochelle's response to her touches. The woman obviously had a swell of pleasure building within her, but it didn't carry with it the urgency and animal need she saw in men when she had teased them in similar ways.

Once they were both dry, Rochelle took the towel, tossed it toward the peg on the wall, and then took Christi's hand in hers. Pulling Christi toward the guest room given to her, Rochelle walked backwards, keeping her eyes on Christi's body as they moved toward the bed in the room.

When Rochelle's legs touched the bed, she pulled Christi into another kiss. Rochelle stroked Christi's neck and cheek as their tongues embraced, and Christi's hands moved to trace the lines of Rochelle's back. Their breasts just touched each other, the taller Rochelle's nipples grazing the upper globes of Christi's breasts, while Christi's pebble-hard buds rubbed against the bottom of Rochelle's firm globes.

After a few strong pecks, their lips parted and Rochelle slipped her hands down to Christi's buttocks, kneading them, and turned to reverse their position, so that Christi was up against the bed. Moving her hands up to Christi's hips, she pressed downward, silently instructing Christi to sit.

Christi sat down on the bed, anticipation burning inside her like a bonfire. Rochelle glided her hands over Christi's hips, then her abdomen, and finally brought them to rest on her shoulders. A push told her to lie down, and the flame of desire within her flared even higher.

Rochelle climbed onto the bed with slow, cat-like movements, and continued to guide Christi with touches and nudges until they were both lengthwise on the bed with Rochelle up on her knees.

Rochelle fell onto her hands and kissed her with hungry passion. Christi traced the lines of Rochelle's curves with her fingertips as they kissed, marveling still at the smoothness of the woman's skin.

Rochelle moved to kiss Christi's neck, first on one side, and then the other. Christi trembled and moaned beneath her, her hips lifting of their own accord. Rochelle's next kiss was on her right shoulder, and three more kisses followed down her arm. Rochelle then dragged the tip of her tongue down Christi's arm, stopping to kiss the crease opposite the elbow, and then the elbow as well.

Christi panted for breath, her eyelids fluttering as Rochelle's kisses tantalized her. Rochelle hadn't even touched her breasts, let alone her sex, and yet she could feel the first tingles of an orgasm growing inside her. "That feels so good," she whispered, reaching down to run her fingers through Rochelle's short hair.

"Mmm hmm," Rochelle moaned back, kissing across Christi's tummy, and then journeying up her arm with soft kisses, back to Christi's shoulder and neck again.

Rochelle scooted her knees back, and then rose up on them again, bringing her head over Christi's tummy once more. Again, Rochelle planted kisses over the taut flesh, and then upon Christi's left hip. The next kiss was in the crease of her leg – so close to her aching sex – and caused Christi's hips to rise up off the bed again.

Looking up into Christi's eyes and smiling mischievously, Rochelle crawled over Christi's body. Their lips and tongues met in passionate embrace. When Rochelle pulled away, she kissed her way down Christi's neck, and then placed kisses on the swell of each breast.

Christi gasped, the sound turning into a moan as Rochelle continued to kiss her breasts, and then to slide the tip of her tongue over the firm globes. Rochelle's teasing tongue drew near to, but never quite touched, the erect buds that were screaming for attention.

She let out a long, warbling sigh of pleasure when Rochelle finally did swirl her tongue over Christi's right nipple, and then locked her lips over it a moment later. Reaching down, Christi ran her fingers through Rochelle's hair and over the woman's muscled back. Her eyes met Rochelle's, which were filled with both mischief and desire, and Christi watched with fascination as another woman suckled her breast.

The sensations caused by Rochelle's slow, teasing foreplay were powerful and deeply arousing. While Christi ached to be touched, the need was just below the point of being torturous, and only increased the pleasure she was feeling. It was so different from the men Christi had been with. Even the most attentive of them left her feeling like they rushed, compared to Rochelle.

Just as Christi was reaching the point where she would have to be touched or go mad, Rochelle sucked the nipple between her lips hard, pulling upward and releasing it with a smile. She rose up onto her knees and grazed her hands over Christi's hips and legs. When her hands reached Christi's knees, she squeezed them once, and then traced circles on them with her fingertips. Licking her lips, Rochelle curled her fingers in behind Christi's knees, pulling them upward and out.

Christi's clit throbbed in time with her heartbeat as she parted her legs. The anticipation of Rochelle giving release to her aching need sent a chill through her, causing her skin to break out in gooseflesh.

Rochelle slowly lowered her head toward Christi's pussy while looking into her eyes. The heady scent of arousal sent a tremor through her body, nearly overcoming her desire to fan the other woman's fires gradually.

Rochelle leaned down tantalizingly close to Christi's nether lips, and then turned to kiss her thighs instead, first the right, and then the left. Two more kisses followed, at the crease where Christi's legs met her hips.

"Oh, please," Christi huskily gasped, the urgent throb of her clit becoming too much to bear.

A sharp sound of pleasure erupted from Christi when Rochelle complied with that request by kissing her folds. Christi threw her head back as she yelped, and then sucked in a gasping breath when Rochelle's tongue wiggled between her labia, seeking the warm, wet recesses between them.

Christi was lost in a fog of pleasure as Rochelle's lips and tongue danced over her folds. She writhed, gasping and moaning, as bliss overcame her. Her toes curled and her fingers gripped the bedclothes as Rochelle held her at the peak of pleasure for what felt like an eternity.

Rochelle moaned into Christi's folds when the woman stiffened for a moment, and then erupted in a primal scream of release. Christi's body trembled, and Rochelle continued to softly lap her as the shocks of orgasmic release wracked the body beneath her. The bittersweet flow of Christi's juices washed over Rochelle's tongue and the sharp perfume of arousal filled her lungs.

With a final kiss on Christi's hood, Rochelle moved to lie down on her side next to the still quivering woman, caressing Christi's tummy as her orgasm slowly subsided.

"Oh gods, that was good," Christi gasped out, when she was at last able to catch her breath.

Rochelle sat up and leaned over Christi, licking her lips and saying, "Yes, it was," before pressing her lips to Christi's in a hungry kiss. Christi moaned, tasting her own juices on Rochelle's lips and tongue.

When their lips parted, Rochelle whispered, "You taste good, don't you?"

"Mmm hmm," Christi moaned back in response.

Rochelle leaned down once more and suckled Christi's earlobe. She then sultrily whispered, "Taste me."

Christi reached over and grasped Rochelle's tight ass, pulling the other woman toward her. Rochelle released a quick, grunting moan, and then rose up to swing her right leg over Christi's body. She knelt back down with her sex just out of reach of Christi's tongue. Looking down to enjoy the anticipation in Christi's face for a moment, Rochelle rubbed her nipples and grinned. Christi snaked out her tongue and wiggled the tip, gripping Rochelle's hips and trying to pull the other woman toward her.

Rochelle moved first one knee, and then the other forward until she centered her nether lips over Christi's mouth. Christi's tongue tip was already dancing over Rochelle's folds when the first knee settled into place.

Shivering from the feather-light touch, Rochelle lowered her pussy to Christi's eager mouth. The muffled moan of delight and the look of surprised pleasure in Christi's eyes when she got her first taste of another woman brought a smile to Rochelle's face. The feeling of Christi's tongue sliding inside her, seeking the bittersweet wetness within, caused a warm wave of pleasure to rise up through Rochelle's body.

Once again, Christi was lost in a haze of pleasure. The taste and scent of Rochelle's hot sex in her face was intoxicating, and she couldn't lap and probe fast enough with her tongue to satisfy the growing desire for more.

Some small part of Christi's mind was attentive to what her tongue was doing. She used what Rochelle had done for her as well as knowledge of her own body to build Rochelle's pleasure. The muffled sounds of delight Christi heard from between Rochelle's thighs and the constant flow of wetness washing over her tongue let Christi know she was stoking a fire in Rochelle's loins.

Rochelle started to rock her hips and grind her pussy on Christi's face as she drew near the point of no return. Though doing this for the first time, Christi was a natural – and certainly eager to please. Looking down into Christi's eyes, Rochelle panted and gasped for breath. A final gasp transformed into a scream as Rochelle came.

Christi's eyes opened wide as she felt Rochelle clamping down on her tongue. The flow of nectar increased, becoming thicker and tangier as the woman cried out in orgasm. Christi drank up every drop she could catch, but her face was still a sticky mess when Rochelle leaned forward against the headboard to gasp for breath a few minutes later.

When Rochelle caught her breath, she slid down until she could kiss Christi and lap her own juices from the other woman's face. With a final lick of Christi's sticky chin, she shivered and let out a sensual growl. "Damn, that felt good. Did you like making me leak all over you?"

Christi licked her lips and smiled, moaning, "Mmm hmm."

Rochelle moved, mirroring Christi's smile, until their labia pressed together. When Rochelle started to rock her hips, rubbing their nether lips together with hot friction, both of them instantly spiked back to the intense level of arousal they had experienced before their first touch.

They were both utterly exhausted when they collapsed together on the damp bedclothes, late in the night.

****

The company celebrated their success, knowing they would soon merge with the rest of the Hawks. Christi and Rochelle enjoyed fine meals – and better wine – throughout the day, and decided to stay in the keep until later in the evening.

Celeste brought Christi several spell scrolls she could attempt to learn, and tried to persuade her to remain and study. Likewise, Cordain did his best to convince both women to remain in his employ as his sisters' personal guards.

Both Christi and Rochelle shared the opinion that they weren't ready to be tied down to one place just yet. They craved adventure, and they could best fulfill that need with the Hawks.

Disappointed, but understanding the free nature of the two mercenary women, Cordain instead presented them each with a gift, the first of two he planned to give them as reward for their aid in bringing his siblings home safely. Each woman received a dagger that would magically return to them if thrown or dropped. The weapons could also summon a bright light similar to that the company had utilized in the caves.

The second gift would require some time, and thus would have to be delivered to them. Cordain planned to commission perfectly fitted armor for both of them, magically enhanced to steal the force of blows, and to resist normal wear so that the armor would serve them well for many years to come. Knowing the end result made the long session of standing to have every nook and cranny of their bodies measured worth the time and discomfort.

That evening, they joined the rest of the new Hawks in the tavern, but didn't stay quite as long as they had the night before – or get nearly as drunk. They had other things on their mind, and those arousing thoughts had them returning to Cordain's keep long before the festivities in the tavern started to wind down for the night.

Christi took the initiative this time, pulling Rochelle into a kiss before the door to her room had even closed, much to Rochelle's delight. Christi proved to have quickly learned Rochelle's technique the previous evening. Utilizing those newfound insights, she drove Rochelle to mind-numbing orgasms, before receiving the same pleasure from Rochelle. They didn't collapse into spent slumber until a few hours before sunrise.

Raptor had warned everyone that they would move out to join the rest of the Hawks a couple of hours after midday. He reminded the company that they needed to be fit to march by then. Christi and Rochelle were both a little worn out, and many of the men were still hung over, but they kept up gamely with the pace Raptor set.

The first night of sleep broken by watch duties went hard on both Christi and Rochelle, but they were seasoned campaigners, despite their young age. Both women stayed awake and alert during their turn on guard. The broken sleep was more than they had managed to enjoy on their last night in Cordain's keep, however. When the order to march came the next morning, they were both feeling quite a bit better.

At midday, they topped a rise and saw their new home on the horizon – or the closest thing a sellsword had to one. Built next to a small village that helped supply the company in exchange for the protective presence, the walled complex that was the home of the Hawks was an impressive sight, even in the distance.

Christi could see men dueling in the practice yard, as well as others exercising. Buildings surrounded the yard, and most were obviously the barracks where the soldiers bunked down. Men patrolled the walls, and stood at posts atop the buildings. Some of the men were shouting down to others, although Christi could not hear their words across the distance.

As the marching company drew closer, the scent of pork frying put an extra spring in their step. Rochelle remarked, "Smells like we're coming in at just the right time."

When the recruits marched through the gates of the complex, they saw their new comrades-in-arms formed up waiting for them. One man, who must be a ranking member of the company, stepped forward and called out, "Welcome home, Raptor. Guess all is well, eh?"

Raptor walked up to the man and clapped him on the shoulder. "Home safe. Job well done – and in time to eat. Aye, all is well."

Raptor gestured to a man in robes that stood with the rest of the Hawks, before turning to the fresh recruits and pointing toward a building with smoke rising from the chimney. "That's the mess hall. You can grab some chow and start getting to know everybody. You'll learn who ranks quick enough, and they've got that rank because they earned it. They'll pull your ass out of more than one fire. I'll guarantee you that. Now, go eat. Christi, Rochelle, come over here before you hit the mess."

The man in robes had reached Raptor's side by the time he finished speaking, and he nodded a greeting as the two women approached.

Raptor gestured at the robed man and said, "This is Glenwell, and he's our best wizard. We've got a couple of others, but he's the one we depend on in a pinch. Rochelle, I know your reputation, and Christi, you've damn sure proved your worth. Glen needs protection while he works his magic, and I want you two to be a part of that. You'll still see your share of swinging your swords, but when we need magic, you'll be making sure he has time to use it."

Turning to Glenwell, Raptor continued, "Christi was up and fighting while the rest of us were snoozing through some kind of magical sleep. Damn sure, she'll be nice to have around if somebody is hurling magic back at you. I know you've heard the tales about Rochelle, although she's got some I'm sure you haven't heard, too. They fight well together, too."

Glenwell smiled and said, "I will be pleased to have you by my side."

As best Christi could guess, Rochelle had no interest in men, but such was not the case with her. Glenwell had a handsome face, and it made Christi wonder what might be beneath the robe he wore.

"Well then, go get some chow," Raptor told them, and made a shooing gesture toward the mess hall.

As they approached the building, Rochelle nudged Christi with her shoulder. "Looks like you won't be going home any time soon – for lack of coin anyhow. Guess you taught them a thing or two about a woman's ability to fight."

"I learned a thing or two about women too," Christi said, twitching her eyebrows.

Rochelle leaned in close and purred, "I've got more to teach you, when we find the time."

Christi licked her lips and responded, "I can't wait."

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