Lost Souls

Timeline: September 25, 2001

Lyla had lost the Dark Man’s trail several days ago and try as she might, she couldn’t pick it up again. It happened from time to time and Ramiel learned that sooner or later, she always picked found it again. But Lyla always fretted over it far more than he did. She had been a bundle of nerves for a couple days. But this morning she was despondent and unmotivated. He knew she was sick of being on the trail.

The hiking was always harder for her than it was for him. She never tripped or stumbled, but she tired more easily. He was always more athletic and knew better how to handle himself in the outdoors. Lyla had long since given up trying and just relied on him to tell her what needed to be done. She was really more of a creature of civilization that was forced to try to track their enemy through the wilds. Every now and then she needed a break from the demands of the outdoors to regenerate her civilized spirit in a town or city.

So, he’d led them off the trail to a highway, and from there hitched to Richmond, Virginia. He hoped she might cheer up then.

They arrived last night and booked a room at the motel. They both slept in, Lyla refusing to get up before noon. But hunger drove them forth into town by early afternoon. Freshly showered, clean, and having fresh clothes to wear (thanks to Ramiel being kind enough to get up and run some laundry in the morning), she was already beginning to return to her chipper self.

Trips to the city were expensive, though, and he saw that Lyla was already on the lookout for an easy mark as they relaxed at an outdoor cafe. Across the street was a pub advertising a live band tonight and already it appeared to have customers moving in and out of it’s green-painted wood doors.

But while Lyla studied various men and women moving about across the street, a closer subject caught Ramiel’s eye. She was blonde and trim, with breasts large enough he wondered if they were real. She was seated alone, reading some book with a red leather cover and sipping a giant mug of coffee. She didn’t wear glasses. She was dressed in a blue tank top and wore a black skirt patterned with something that looked like stylized flowers in white. She wore black, open-toe high heels, but wasn’t wearing panty hose. From what he could see, she really didn’t need them. Her skin was tan and healthy, and her legs looked silky smooth.

Ramiel stood and went over to her table sliding into the empty chair across from her, leaving Lyla to figure out for herself where he had gone. “I was wondering if you might enlighten me as to what you are reading?”

She looked up at him blankly for a moment. She’d been so lost in what she was reading, she’d forgotten her surroundings. Ramiel’s sudden appearance jarred her back to reality however, and she recovered quickly. “Hm?” She looked up at him with cold irritation initially, but as she took in his unique and very handsome countenance, her attitude changed.

“Oh! Just a bit of assigned reading for a class,” she said warmly. Her eyes roved freely and unashamedly up and down his body before she looked up at his face again. Apparently, she liked what she saw. “Would you care to join me?”

Ramiel gave her a smile that would moisten any woman. He flagged the waiter over to them and ordered a drink. He also gave the waiter a note to be taken to Lyla. It read: I might be busy for a while, have fun. I will meet you later at the room. R.

“I am Ramiel, and what name might accompany someone as lovely as yourself?”

“Julia,” she said as she held her hand out.

“My lady Julia, it is an honor.” He takes her hand in his , turning it to exspose her wrist he gently kisses it.

Julia blushed despite herself. Being a regular at the cafe but having not seen Ramiel before, she made a guess. “Are you new in town?”

“You are accurate, I am traveling at the moment and stopped here for a while. Since you are a student here I bet you know all the best places to go. Perhaps I may be able to persuade you to show me around for a while.”

Julia looked back at him in thought. She’d barely met him and knew nothing at all about him. For all she knew, he could be a creep or a criminal. But he was gorgeous. And, she told herself, how will she find out if he’s a nice guy or not if she didn’t try?

“Well,” she said, “I happen to be finished with class for today. I might be talked into something like that.” She smiled coyly.

Ramiel stood, offering his arm to Julia. “You honor me, I am at your command.”

Julia laughed and took his arm.

While Lyla discretely looked on from her table, Ramiel’s note in her hand, Julia and Ramiel left to explore some of the older, more scenic portions of Richmond.

Julia took him on a meandering tour of venerable Richmond. She briefly showed him historic Main Street Station, which had been recently renovated for use as a station for commuter trains once again. Then they moved on to the Carpenter Center, which was home to the Richmond Symphony, Virginia Opera, and Broadway Under the Stars.

They took in Old City Hall, which was a very gothic building that was now operated by the historical society. Only the first floor was accessible for tourists, but Julia knew how to sneak past an old stairway and up to a secluded room. They covertly hooked up there having wild sex all the more exciting for the fear of discovery. Julia proved a very capable lover. She turned out to be a very erotic college girl, into rough sex. In fact, she taught Ramiel some new things he’d never have thought he’d enjoy before. They were there, in the top floor of one of the towers for hours before finally they snuck back out into the early evening.

Julia and Ramiel toured a few more places in Richmond. It gave him time to recover (she seemed interested in hooking up again later, if he was able and willing), and an opportunity to see some of the things that made Richmond famous. the stopped by the Edgar Allen Poe museum in the Old Stone House (oldest building in Richmond). Then they went to monument street, along which famous heroes were immortalized. Among them were Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson. Julia seemed to take special interest in Virginia’s Confederate history.

That brought them to the Museum and White House of the Confederacy. It was here that Jefferson Davis and his family stayed throughout the Civil War, until the fall of Richmond to the Unionist army.

By this time it was evening and it had been some time since either of them had eaten. They enjoyed a pleasant evening at a restaurant, then retired to her small apartment and enjoyed coitus again. Ramiel left her that night smiling, and gave her his cell phone number.

After that, he took a cab back across town to the hotel room he was sharing with Lyla and got showered then went to bed. Lyla was already there when he got back, curled up in her own queen-size bed and apparently asleep.

The next day, Julia called him before lunch. She said that she’d been thinking about him all night. She felt like she should be cautious because she didn’t want to scare him off, but she also know that he might not be in town all that long and she really wanted to see him again.

It came up that she was unfortunately going to be stuck working at the library on an old manuscript until about two in the afternoon. They got to talking about it, and she was delighted to discover that Ramiel really liked old books.

“Well, then you might really like this one!” she had told him. She went on to say that a private collector had loaned the book to the university. In exchange for work on restoring the book and repairing any damage due to wear and tear over the past few centuries, they were given the opportunity to make a copy of the work.

Even more fascinating, the book was alleged to have been the journal of one John Dee, the legendary British mystic that had been so famous in the 16th century as a mathematician, natural philosopher, and student of the occult. According to Julia, Dee had been a great scientist and mathematician who mixed his science with astrology. He believed there to exist a single, mystic and mathematical symbol that was the key to unlocking the secrets of nature. The work she was restoring, photographing, and studying was said to have been a “lost” book written sometime before his death at the end of the 16th century.

When she heard the excited and interested note in Ramiel’s voice, she invited him to join her while she finishes up the current chapter she was working on.

He explained to Lyla he was going out, but received nothing more than a curt “fine”, followed by an admonishing to “take care of himself.” He really didn’t think very much on Lyla’s terse response and in retrospect, perhaps that should have been a warning to him.

Nevertheless he enjoyed himself greatly. Books were always a passion of his, especially old ones. Julia had thought it might be boring to him, but instead they both found a passion for something that neither of them had expected to find in another.

They were wandering the corridors of a museum when he saw Lyla again. She was standing in the shadow of some great dinosaur reconstruction just watching him. When she realized he saw her, she didn’t flinch or move, just smiled and nodded at him.

Ramiel told Julia he would catch up with her in a moment, “I will be right there, go on ahead.” He watched her disappear into the room down the hall, and moved over to Lyla.

“Hello stranger.”

“Fancy meeting you here,” Lyla said with an amused smirk.

“Yes it is, after all it is so rare that you would venture into a museum. What brings you here?”

Lyla tilted her head and nibbled her lip. “Honestly? I was curious who you were spending all your time with all day yesterday and today. Normally you might just go home with someone to fuck but you’re always back in the morning and that’s that. It’s different this time.”

A passing tourist, a mother leading a young daughter looked crossly at Lyla for her language but moved on after Lyla gave her a look right back.

“So who is she?” Lyla asked. She had barely skipped a beat.

Ramiel reached out and played with a strand of her hair. “It is different this time.”

He stared at her, and the lookin his etyes was unlike any Lyla had seen before, he really was falling for this one. “Julia, she restores old books. We have actually been looking at an original John Dee.”

“You have, have you?” Lyla retorted. For a moment she stared at him and there was a hard edge in her eyes as if she was going to challenge him. But then the moment passed and her usual mischievous, sultry smile returned. She traced a finger on his chest. “Actually, I think that’s great. So long as you don’t forget who really cares about you.” She stabbed him with her fingernail to illustrate the point. Again there was something akin to challenge in her eyes.

She hugged him then, with a firm grip. He really didn’t get much chance to hug back when she pushed him away. “Just be careful, okay?” she said more softly.

Her hair held the sweetest of scents, and for a moment he was lost in her, forgetting about Julia. He had wanted Lyla for so long, and sometimes the way she teased him, he thought she knew it. “Go play, I will be fine,” he told her.

He left, but not without looking back.

Later that night, Julia took Ramiel to meet some of her friends. They were friendly folk, and obviously on very familiar terms with Julia. Their banter was often laced with well-meaning innuendo which Julia returned with gusto.

There was George, a college-age young man with a ready smile and mischievous eyes. Jill was a red-haired woman who was a bit on the sturdy side, yet had an obvious animal magnetism that made her the sort of person that was much more attractive in person than in a picture. Both George and Jill dressed in the jeans, sweatshirt or sweater and blouse common among the college crowd. It was also hinted that George and Jill were dating — or at least were entertained by the idea.

Roberta was a bit different and clearly, she enjoyed being different. She tended toward heavy makeup and dressing in block. She had a dry, cynical sense of humor and dark eyes. One might have thought she’d rather hang out in a different sort of crowd, but George and Jill had a very open, accepting sort of attitude, just as much as Julia did. Roberta was certainly a welcome addition to their group.

Then there was Steve. He was an odd one. And, by his rapid, ill-thought out speech and constantly shifting eyes, he seemed to be high on something. The others laughed at his clownishness and silly jokes. Julia seemed to tolerate him with a bit of pity, while Roberta seemed happy enough to make snide comments that clearly went over Steve’s head. There was something between Roberta and Steve, Ramiel could tell, but whether it was attraction or not, it was hard to tell.

They went to a local Denny’s to hang out and talk a while. Subjects varied, but Ramiel seemed to be the most popular subject to talk about over pieces of pie, coffee, and sodas.

“So,” Roberta asked him abruptly. “What brought you to Richmond anyway, Ramiel?” That seemed to get everyone’s attention, and they all looked curiously at him.

“Just passing through actually. I am hiking the trail, and occasionally I come into town to see what I can. I get to meet new people and see new places.”

Julia just smiled; he’d told her that already. But Roberta’s question seemed to ignite George’s curiosity, too. “I’ve often thought about doing that. But seems like a really big time commitment. How long have you been hiking?”

Longer than I thought it would take. “I could make up a number I guess, but it has been months. Time blurrs sometimes. Strange I guess but when you are having fun everything else just fades away.”

George’s eyebrows raised. “That’s a heck of a hike! Are you hiking with a group? How do you get by?”

“We do not need to talk about me do we? There are so many others things that are far more interesting.”

Julia looked at him with those pale blue eyes and had a small smile on her face. She touched his hand with hers in a familiar way that seemed to indicate she was very interested in his story. But interestingly, it was Roberta who rescued Ramiel.

“Yeah, it has got to be boring as hell tromping through the woods and the hills and mud, trying not to get buggered by southern rednecks who might like a pretty boy,” Roberta remarked.

Jill elbowed her. “Be nice, Roberta!”

Roberta just smiled and looked at Ramiel to see if he’d refute her guess.

Ramiel smiled. “That is not something I really have to concern myself with.”

Julia noticed the sly look betrayed by Roberta’s eyes and glared back at her. She recognized the comment to be Roberta’s way of telling Ramiel she thought he was attractive and, while Ramiel remained oblivious to the subtle exchange, Julia was certainly claiming him in front of the others.

Jill asked, “Julia, will you be bringing your new friend to the party tonight?”

“Well,” Julia responded, “I actually hadn’t gotten a chance to ask.” She looked up at Ramiel. “We have this weekly get-together you see. It’s a LARP thing. Do you do role play at all?” she asked coyly.

“I have done all sorts of things, played many roles. But never in a group before.” Looking into Julia’s eyes, that sly sensuality that was all his own flooded his eyes. He knew that this was not what she was referring to, but rarely did he pass up the chance to play with a woman.

Julia’s face colored as he looked at her and she looked down. Ramiel caught the little smile on her lips before her hair hid her face as she tried to hide her body’s reaction to him.

George missed the private exchange, however. “Great!” he said. “So you know. Anyway, we all dress up for our parts. You can pretty much come as anything you like as long as it fits the general theme. The theme tonight is Gothic Romance. Think of a favorite horror film, or maybe a film noire. Most of us will come dressed for the part because we already know our roles, but we’ve got plenty of costumes too. Dr. Van runs the whole thing and he’ll give you a role to play when you arrive, then you can get into character with a costume.”

Julia looked at him with hopeful eyes. “Will you come? It’s a total rush! Especially at the end of the night when things generally break down into a big party!”

Ramiel thought about it for a moment. This has to be something other than what I am thinking. Okay, think man! Costumes, party, playing — sounds like a Halloween party, but then they said a role to play and someone running it. Oh God she is a gamer. Sigh, oh wait I have seen gamer girls going into a convention before, hehehehe tight leather, pleather , pvc, whips, tits…oh man….

“I’m in.”

Julia and Ramiel broke off from the group to spend a little time browsing some antique bookstores that Julia had discovered since coming to Richmond for college. He learned a bit more about her during that time. She’d grown up on a farm near a rural South Carolina community, and had worked hard in school to get to go to college. She’d always loved old things, especially books. One of her hobbies was collecting books of fairy tales, myths and legends. It was a passion of hers, and it showed in her eyes and her expression when she talked about it.

But she wasn’t just a bookworm. She jogged every day in the early morning and again in the evening and was a regular tennis player. Her activity certainly seemed to serve her body well and explained her fitness. Her accent was only faintly southern, and when Ramiel pointed it out she said that she’d adopted a more northern accent when she came to college but that she sometimes had ‘relapses’ to southern colloquial speech when she goes to visit her parents.

After a light dinner, it was time to head to the party for the evening. It was located in one of the older homes of Richmond, the home of Doctor Van, in fact. He was a professor of philosophy at the college, and apparently one of the most popular professors on campus. From the way Julia spoke of him, half the campus considered him a hero for being one of the best and most interesting teachers there. Then again, by Julia’s own admission she was a little biased since Dr. Van also happened to be her advisor for her major.

Ramiel had been unsure for a better part of the day. He found that around Julia he was different, not at the top of his game; he had been fighting a realization. Before they left for the party he pulled her close to him. “This may be a bit weird, but I wanted you to know that I’ve never met anyone like you before, and I’ve never felt … ” Laughing slightly he let her go and stepped back a few steps. “Never mind, I’m not making sense anymore, but you know what I’m saying right? I am really glad that we ran into each other.”

Julia smiled back at him. “When you first approached me, I thought wow! You were just what I needed. But I didn’t think it would be anything but a one night stand. I didn’t expect you to want to see me again, though I’d hoped so. But now? Now I’m sure we were meant to meet. You’re special Ramiel.” She looked up at him with those bright, blue eyes. “You really are.”

He smiled. It was an honest smile full of emotions he usually kept hidden. Lyla, though not forgotten, was not the foremost thing on his mind. Julia filled his thoughts; all he wanted was to be with her and make her happy. Though he had struggled with the very notion of it he could not overcome the fact that he was falling for this one. Heh, had to happen at some point in my life. I never thought I would go without caring for someone other than Lyla. I mean, I can not keep myself from others when nothing will ever happen with Lyla. I should not feel guilty, I don’t feel guilty, I just feel lo…

“Let’s go.”

Ramiel was able to go back to the hotel to clean up and shave before meeting Julia again and going to the roleplay-party in the evening. Lyla was there at the hotel when he arrived. She was looking pretty as always dressed in a skirts, tall boots and fishnets. Her black skirt was matched with a red blouse. She was leaning toward the mirror above the low, cheap dresser the hotel provided as she applied eye shadow.

A heavier leather jacket, which looked new, was hanging on a chair near her. It was a neat, trim little jacket with nothing flashy on it.

Ramiel stopped and watched Lyla prep herself in the mirror. What he really wanted was standing before him, but the thought of seeing Julia made him happy as well. He knew it was different, and maybe with time she could drown out his dseire for Lyla completley.

He picked up her jacket running his fingers across the smooth leather. “You really are very beautiful.”
She put down the eye shadow and turned to look at him; he could see she’d blushed deeply and was looking at him in a way he hadn’t seen her do before. For a moment she couldn’t say anything at all.

He could not hold back the smile as he brushed her cheek with his hand. “So very beautiful.” He spoke with a soft very intimate voice as he did so.

“I’ll miss you tonight, be careful out there. I must go do what I have to. ” With the last his voice held just the barest edge of regret. Lyla could see the struggle in his eyes as he walked away from her.

She didn’t trust herself to say anything until he’d finished his preparations and left the room. Then, unable to hold it back anymore, she put her face in her hands and cried. She cried for herself because she knew what she what she wanted more than anything in the world but couldn’t bring herself to take because she was afraid that once Ramiel knew her body, he wouldn’t be interested anymore. She even knew it was an unreasonable fear but she couldn’t help it. She hated it. But she also cried for him because he really believed he loved this other girl. She knew the doom that was in store for him. She wept for him, too, for the fate that was already sealed.

It took her a few minutes to pull herself together. She had to do this right, or Ramiel might die tonight. She knew that with a dread certainty that eventually brushed away tears and personal pain. She knew he was going to need her tonight and that the very best thing she could do now was to be there for him when it was time.

The truth was that she knew too much about too many things. That was her curse; to know what was in the minds and hearts of men and women alike, and to know what they were going to do to their fellow human beings.

She spent a little more time gathering various accessories and getting ready. Then, she sat down on the bed and closed her eyes in meditation. Very soon, she knew, she would have what she needed.

It was a heck of a party.

Ramiel had met Julia and they arrived together. She had a long, leather duster on, concealing her outfit and told him that what she had on underneath was for the LARP and it was a surprise. They left her place and went across campus to a regal-looking, old brick building that was labeled Biology. The doors were locked and chained and there was a sign on it stating that it was closed for renovations, but Julia walked past it to a set of stairs leading down. These were chained off, but they were easy to step over, and she led him down to a door leading to the building’s sub-floor. She knocked on the door and it opened for them. They went in and passed a robed and hooded person who nodded a silent greeting to Julia and he.

They proceeded down a series of long, very dark halls, until Julia found a door and pushed it open. Within they found an area lit by dozes of large, white candles and populated by eight or nine individuals in robes. Many of them were only loosely wearing the robes, however. Ramiel could see that many of the women left tantalizing portions of flesh visible, with a variety of gothic outfits just barely covering for modesty. There were, of course, a several people he already new.

Jill’s curvy body was bedecked with a tight-fitting bodice that made her seem slimmer than Ramiel remembered, and forced her ample breasts up in a soft offering of flesh.

George was near her and now sported silver necklaces bearing a number of runic charms which caught the light and glinted mysteriously from beneath the cloak-like robe. They looked like norse characters, on bits of silver coins. Otherwise he wore a simple black tee and tight blue jeans.

Roberta was easy to pick out. The distinctive young woman was wearing an outfit beneath her robes that appeared to be made entirely of pvc straps held together by little chrome rings. Her nipples were exposed, actually framed by the straps supporting her very round breasts, and her nethers were covered by a strip of pvc that barely hid the treasure beneath.

Steve hung nearby her, dressed slightly less exotically. He wore a fishnet shirt with nothing underneath and a pair of tight leather pants.

There was one other woman whom Ramiel had not met before. She seemed was in a sexy teddy and garters that complemented a g-string. This dark-haired woman held an air of authority among the group, and seemed more mature than the college age crowd present. She had sharp, dark eyes that reminded him immediately of Lyla’s eyes — or his own. She was tanned, healthy and certainly took care of her body. Although she probably had a eight years on the next oldest person in the room, she her body was among the most pleasing to the eye.

Julia pulled the loose tie that pinned her own robe together, and it fell open. Now Ramiel had the opportunity to see what Julia had been waiting to surprise him with. His blonde date had put on what appeared to be a red teddy and garters but on second glance, Ramiel noted they were merely painted on. She wore no underwear at all, and judging by her erect nipples, Julia was not only not embarrassed to be the only almost-naked woman in the room, she was excited by it. Clearly, she had used the time it took him to run to the hotel to get ready to maximum effect.

Ramiel surveyed the room and all teh delicious eye candy. “This might be fun after all, so what do I wear?”

“We have a red robe for you,” she told him with a wink. “What you wear under it is up to you. Come on, I’ll show you to a changing room and while you change, I’ll find us a drink. Dr. Van should be here soon and we can get started!”

He thought about showing off as much as Julia, he wanted to give himself to her and her way of living completelty. it was funny he thought to feel htat after so short a time. Was it all because he was trying to find something to fill the ever deepening hole Lyla was digging? With that his mind was filled with thoughts of her, how she looked, smelled, and he hesitated.

Shaking free from the echoes left in his mind, he removed his shirt and put the robe in place, then rejoined Julia who was waiting for him with a drink.

“So what do I do? Is there a script or something I read from? Or do I make up some stuff?”

Julia was standing by a table that was covered with a heavy, black cloth that had a couple bottles of white wine and some goblets. She had already poured him one and gave it to him, then picked one up for herself.

“I’m not really sure,” Julia stated as she eyed him in his crimson robe. His chest was revealed and she was unable to resist running her fingers across his smooth skin. “Sometimes he has a big deal planned, and sometimes it’s mostly a social thing, an excuse to be ourselves and not worry about the rest of the world.”

The door at the far end of the room opened and a tall man in a hooded robe entered. Golden hair spilled from the hood in waves that ran down to his chest, which was revealed by a wide part in his black robes. He was followed by a couple of very strong-looking men that were naked to the waist, then had loose black trousers covering from waist to ankle. They were barefoot.

The woman Ramiel hadn’t met, the one in the the teddy and garters met with the golden-haired robed man and the spoke together quietly.

“Are they a couple?” Ramiel took Julia’s free hand in his.

Julia was thrown off by the sudden question. “Who?”

“The man with golden hair, and the lady in garters, over there. I was wondering if they were a couple or has the game started already.”

“Oh!” Julia looked away toward the newcomers and the one in garters. “I’m so sorry! I guess I find you very nicely distracting,” she said with a grin. “I’ve been so rude. Come on, I’ll introduce you to them. And no, they aren’t a couple. Well, maybe they are — I wouldn’t know that for sure but if they are a couple they seem to have an open relationship. No, she actually has been doing this with Van for a long time so she assists him with things.”

She took him by the hand and brought him over toward Van, the woman and the strangely-clad men. The doctor and the woman finished their conversation and turned toward them. “Hello Julia,” he said with a pleasant smile. Up close, Ramiel could see into the doctor’s hood. He was a handsome, nordic-looking fellow with clear blue eyes and a high cheekbones.

“Doctor Van? This is Ramiel Dragos, the one I told you I would bring tonight?”

He nodded and held out his hand to greet him. “Pleased to meet you Mr. Dragos. I’m glad you could join us tonight.”

Ramile took his hand in greeting. “As am I.”

Julia introduced the woman. “And this is Lilly Montclair.”

Lilly smiled and offered offered Ramiel her hand, palm down. “Charmed.”

Taking her hand in his he gently kissed the back. “Likewise.”

Lilly gave Ramiel a wink and a wider smile as she teased Julia. “You certainly know how to the handsome ones, Julia.”

Julia blushed like a schoolgirl.

“Thank you for the compliment. So what is my role for the night?”

“Quite simple,” said Dr. Van. “But tell me, how do you like the wine?”

“It is very nice, what kind is it?” He looked at the pale liquid in his goblet. The taste had been very sweet, and he realized that it was some kind of dessert wine, perhaps even an expensive ice wine.
“The kind that is drugged,” Dr. Van told him with a smile.

The suprise covered his face; he thought it was a joke. He turned to look at Julia and knew that it was not as the drugs took control and he began to pass out.

“This is a fucked up ga………” Thud, he fell unconscious before hitting the floor.

When he woke up he noticed two things. First, he was cold. Second, he seemed to be strapped down to something. The reason he was cold seemed to be because the robe he had chosen was no longer on him. He still had his pants on, but the skin of his back was chilled by a hard, perhaps stone surface. Looking around, he noticed each wrist had a leather collar with some kind of lock on it that was in turn held by a thick leather strap that disappeared somewhere off the edge of the table. Since his arms were being held apart, he couldn’t turn over to see. All he could do was turn his head from side to side. Wiggling toes showed him someone had removed his shoes and sock and that his ankles had similar restraints.

The woman named Lilly Montclair, still in the same garb he’d seen her in before, was standing over him with a cold smile upon your face. “You’re awake,” she observed. “Then let me be the first to thank you for your contribution.”

She bent over him and ran her fingers down his chest with appreciation. “You are perfect. Strong, virile, young — you are the perfect consort for our goddess, Ishtar. Julia did an outstanding job when she chose you. Of course, she always does. And now you’ll receive the greatest git of all when you become the Consort of the Goddess.”

“Far be it for me to turn down fucking a Goddess, but this game is over.” He wriggled his wrists to test the trestraints, but they were tight and secure. Maybe this is not a game, stupid.

“Oh my dear, I’m afraid that you have little say in that. This is no game. But honestly, you should be pleased. Very few men have had the privilege of becoming a consort to a god,” she told him.

“So who get’s to be the goddess? Julia, you?” He was calm, not angered as he should be. He should have seen it from the start. Oh man Lyla would never let him hear the end of this.

“Where is Julia? I would like to speak to her.”

“She is preparing for the ceremony with the others,” Lilly told him. “The atmosphere must be just right to attract the attention of the goddess of fertility and war. But with your sacrifice will come her divine attention and favor. If we are successful, she may one day chose to work directly through one of her most faithful devotees.” She looked positively radiant at the notion. Clearly, she thought herself to be a prime candidate to be the vessel for Ishtar herself.

“I must return to the ceremony before Dr. Van worries and sends someone to look in on us,” continued Lilly. “I really simply came to see if you had any last requests.”

“I might have one, but what are you willing to do for me?”

She had an impish light to her smile. “Depends on the request,” she shrugged. The gesture and that smile reminded her of Lyla.

“I assume by sacrifice you mean me. I want you to fuck me. Start by blowing me while I watch, and then fuck me. If you are not willing get Julia.”

Lilly laughed at him at first, then saw he was serious. “I suppose you are thinking that you are fucked, so now you want to get off, too, is that it?” she asked rhetorically. She stared at him thoughtfully.

It was her greatest ambition to be the one that Ishtar chose and here was an opportunity to stand in for her own Goddess on the physical world. It would have to be done carefully, with the respect that the divine Consort deserved. And would Dr. Van approve? He was the leader of the cult here and it was through his guidance that all of them had prospered academically, financially, and socially. She didn’t want to go against his will, but she knew that Van would want it done ritually and in front of the rest of the cult if at all.

Despite appearances, she wasn’t ready to do that. For her, this would be a special occasion, the very first thing she’d ever done as a member of the Cult of Ishtar. And sometimes, it was easier to do a thing and apologize later, if necessary. Who was she to deny the last wish of Ishtar’s own Consort?

She nodded to Ramiel. “Sex is also a celebration of our goddess. Ishtar would approve, if this is your desire. I’ll do this for you, but you must be quiet. If we are interrupted, they won’t let us finish.” There was something in her eyes when she looked at him. It wasn’t pity. It was more like envy, desire, and perhaps just a bit of sadness.

Ramiel smiled his special smile, the one he knew always worked on women. “I don’t think I am fucked. But I cannot deny the beauty that stands before me. Besides you should make sure I am worthy of your goddess right.”
The woman was shrewd. She drew back slightly at Ramiel’s bald attempt to manipulate her and frowned. “I’ll take care of you and I’ll make sure you are well prepared to meet the goddess,” she told him. “But don’t treat me like a fool. You’re still the one strapped to a table and I still have the power to make what’s left of your life either very miserable if I want to.” She looked at him with a hard expression. He couldn’t tell if she was bluffing or not.

She reached over and deftly released his buckled. With a sharp yank, she pulled it off his body. The sudden wrench on his hips hurt a little and Lilly laughed to see him wince, then hit him in the stomach with the tongue of the belt. It stung and made him jump in his restraints. He saw her eyes greedily take in every movement he made with his body.

She then unbuttoned him, yanked his pants down to his knees and took his member in her hands first, kneading him and massaging him. Then he was in her mouth and growing hard as she began her work.

Lyla had prepared well for her evening. Having been watching Ramiel carefully ever since she’d discovered that Julia was up to no good, she had a good idea where she needed to go to find them before the left for their “party” later. Dressed in flat black jeans and a loose-fitting dark blue blouse, she knew she’d be hard to spot in the dark.

She was familiar with the night and familiar with moving quietly. Whenever Ramiel and she needed money, there was a good reason she always seemed to have plenty of cash for them both, despite having no job and having a drifter lifestyle. Lyla was very adept at finding money and valuables, and at entering places thought to be locked. Her training had begun before they’d ever left home, with the people she hung out with in high school and continued after Ramiel and she had gone out into the wide world to take up the trail of the Dark Man. Stealing for food and cash was something she had no hesitance in doing. Nor was she above exchanging sex for money, though she did that carefully. She wanted to avoid being labeled a hooker so that she wouldn’t attract more attention than she could deal with, especially from other criminals. That meant she needed to use every skill she had to be subtle and choose her victims — or clients — very carefully.

Of course being a mind reader helped that a great deal. She chose men (and in a few cases, women) who had the money she needed, and who could not afford to make an issue of the matter if she made off with more than they expected to lose by sleeping with her. Politicians, married men, lawyers, all of these people were good targets as far as Lyla was concerned. But this meant that she had to blur the lines between what was illegal and what was consenting sex between to adults. They got what they wanted; what material things she wanted in return wasn’t unreasonable. No matter that she usually had to steal away in the dark of night with whatever cash or valuable objects like the thief she really was. After all, she was always careful to take only what she needed so as not to anger her victims enough to pursue her.

Sooner or later she knew it was likely her schemes were going to backfire and she’d have a serious problem on her hands. But so far, her skills had always been up to the task. Stealth, larceny, and knowing what people wanted and how far they were willing to go to get them gave her a large edge. Tonight wasn’t so different.

So she was able to follow Julia and Ramiel to the big building on campus that was marked as “closed for remodeling” without too much trouble. Julia hadn’t spotted her despite several backward glances when Ramiel wasn’t looking and that left Lyla free to find her own way into the building.

Her handy set of lock picks, acquired from a contact she’d made a while back at a pawn shop, proved their usefulness as always. While some modern buildings were more and more often equipped with electronic security, nobody bothered to do anything more than lock up old buildings like this. Lyla found a side door with a lock she could pick and was able to slip inside without much trouble at all.

After slipping silent down the first hallway, she saw a burly, bare-chested fellow with folded arms standing in front of a closed door. She ducked into a doorway and found herself in a darkened classroom filled with old lab tables. After spotting a stool against the wall, she went to it and sat down. The wall supported her back as she closed her eyes and concentrated.

Ramiel, where are you? she thought to herself. Please don’t be in the room that muscle-man is guarding.

It took her only a moment and suddenly a vision of of swam into view before her mind’s eye. Damn! she thought as she witnessed part of the conversation between Lilly and the bound Ramiel. I hate it when I’m right. They really are planning to sacrifice him to some long-forgotten god.

It wasn’t hard for her to change her perspective in the room, just as if she was there and walking around. She needed to find out where that was. In a moment she caught a room number in view, just outside the door. It was a lucky break — no one seemed to be guarding the room. All she’d have to deal with when she got there was that Lilly character.

Focusing her mind again on the scene between Ramiel and Lilly, Lyla saw with some surprise that somehow things had progressed to the point where the woman was up on the table straddling him while actually giving him a blow job.That’s my Ramiel, she thought with a sigh. Always thinking below the belt.

But she thought better of rushing in before Lilly was done. With him in her mouth, Lyla didn’t trust the woman not to severely injure Ramiel if she was surprised. She had to wait until she was done. Watching her do that to him wasn’t easy though it wasn’t first time she used her powers of clairvoyance to watch him like a Peeping Tom. While she knew he often had sex, she didn’t like to think about him having sex with other people. When she saw him like that, part of her wanted to be the one making him feel that way, not that evil, murderous bitch. Another part of her was disgusted with herself for being unable to look away while Lilly worked him into a frenzy while playing with herself.

Lilly seemed to be short on time. She kept looking up at the door, as if she expected to be walked in on any minute. She didn’t finish him with her mouth but instead released him with a final, strong sucking and a lick that made him moan. Lilly pushed her little g-string out of the way and raised her hips. She came down on his large member with a thrilled little sigh and began bumping and grinding on him on that hard, cold table.

That was all Lyla could take. It was time for Ramiel to get “rescued”, she decided. Lyla snapped out of her trance and looked around to get her bearings. Finding she was still alone, she slipped out of the classroom and down one hall after another as she zeroed in on the room that held her Ramiel and the messed-up whorish cunt that was with him.

Ramiel was moments from ecstasy. Lilly was straining to keep silent herself — she apparently wasn’t used to quiet sex. She slid down his member forcefully each time sending a shock of pain as the unyielding surface below resisted the force put on his pelvis as well as pleasure rocketing through him. But then, if they were just going to kill him soon, it wasn’t as if he needed to worry about bruises or soreness tomorrow.

Whump!!

Lilly’s body jerked and her eyes glazed. Her mouth fell open in but the shock was so sudden and so forceful, she didn’t even have time to scream before something hit her again. Struck senseless, her eyes rolled up in her head and she fell face down on top of him. Someone just out of view gave her body a shove and it slid off him, then hit the floor with a loud smack. He just knew that was going to hurt when she woke up. It sounded like something broke.

A face loomed directly above him and when he was able to focus, he realized it was Lyla. She set her telescoping baton on the table next to him and produced a knife. As she cut the bonds at his wrists she stated, “Dammit, Ramiel, quite screwing around!” she scolded him in a harsh voice. She really sounded angry with him this time.

One of his hands came free and she switched to work on his other wrist. “We’ve got work to do here, you big idiot! If you hadn’t figured it out, there’s a crazy cult in the next room who are killing people in a mad scheme to summon some kind of demon.”

His next hand suddenly came free and Lyla slammed the knife point first into the table so it would stick. “Here. I brought your guns.” She slammed them on his chest hard enough to show she was mad and didn’t care if it left a bruise. “Cut yourself free and get yourself together. I’m going listen at that door. Your little whore seemed worried someone was going to show up in here soon.”

Making quick work of the restraints around his ankles he slid off the table, pulling his pants into place as he did. Though it would take a couple minutes for them to fit comfortably.

“How do you know what the plans are? Have you been following me all night? Whore? I didn’t pay her. And besides, if that’s the best she can do, she’d make a lousy whore.”

Lyla barely raised an eyebrow. “That’s a lot of questions to ask someone who just saved your ass.” She was still upset with him, and wasn’t about to let him change the subject.

“And you have a job to do. I saved you soon enough to give you a choice of getting out of here, or putting an end to this madness.” She jabbed him in the sternum with the sharp fingernail of her forefinger as she often did when she was angry with him. “You might have been too damn busy staring at your little miss Julia’s tits and ass to realize what you were getting yourself into but lucky for you I was looking out for you and figured her out pretty quick.

“So yes, I knew you were being suckered into crazy cult, and I let you fall because that was the only way we were going to get you in here to do something about it. So what are you going to do now?”

The expression held the pain of realizing that a love you felt is over. Ramiel slid the holster into place over his bare skin, “You know I was not lost in her body Lyla.”

Lyla held his gaze. Whether it was true or not, she wasn’t going to listen to it. That would hurt too much.

Lilly was still unconsious on the floor, he stared at her pondering what was to be her fate. He could walk out of here now, leaving them to continue their rituals, tricking who knows how many others. He could become the hand of justice and kill all of them, but what had they done really, besides attempt to kill him. Had they killed others in the past? Or was this the first step to becoming something worse than a religion. “Call the cops Lyla, and let’s go. Leave a tip that if there have been any missing person’s recently they might want to look into this group.”

As they turned to leave, they noticed one of Dr. Van’s men, the bare-chested ones that seemed to be built like weight lifters was standing in the doorway gawking at them. About the time they noticed each other, the man noticed Lilly lying on the floor. “You! Sonofabitch!! You’re gonna pay for that. Doctor! Doctor the sacrifice is trying to escape! And we have an intruder!”

Ramiel sighed, turned cold eyes to the man. “That was stupid.” Years of working with guns gave Ramile an edge, he could draw them quickly and easily. By the time he had finished his sentence he had drawn one of his pistols and aimed. He fired at the upper thigh, right where the artery is, but he must have been having an off day. The guard’s leg was only grazed.

He stared in shock for a moment while the fact that Ramiel was armed registered in his brain. Then with an inarticulate bellow, he charged at Ramiel and Lyla with hope that he might be able to wrestle one of the weapons away from Ramiel.

Lyla was ready for him, though. She stepped neatly between the charging guard and Ramiel with baton in hand and gave him a sharp crack across the face. It got his attention enough that he tried to punch in the head, but she blocked most of it.

Another bit of movement caught Ramiel’s attention. At the doorway stood Dr. Van. He smiled at Ramiel and uttered a strange word. It resonated like it carried some kind of supernatural power and Ramiel thought he saw light shimmer about Van briefly.

“You intrigue me, my friend,” said Van. “You are about to receive the greatest gift a man could conceive of. Yet you respond with such violence. You’ve struck Lilly who obviously was trying to make your stay here more pleasant. And now you’ve brought a friend and weapons here? Why?”

At the sound of Van’s voice, the guard backed off, nursing the flesh wound he received from Ramiel. Lyla held back, too, curious to see what was going to happen next.

“First, I did nothing to Lilly, I was strapped down remember. As for the violence, well maybe I am in a bad mood now. Secondly, being sacrificed to an nearly forgotten God is not the greatest gift I can think of. You perhaps, or maybe not, since you were going to offer me up instead of yourself.”

Ramiel slid his gun back into the holster. He knew enough about the occult to guess the flash of light was a shield or something else to mess with his guns.

“So what do you say, let us forget this entire charade, and my friend and I will leave. No harm no foul right.”

Another guard appeared in the doorway behind Van.

“Let’s not,” Van said. He raised two fingers of his left hand and made as if to shove Ramiel, though he was a good twenty feet across the room.

Suddenly an invisible force struck Ramiel hard, but he didn’t hesitate to close the distance. As he engaged the good doctor, he fired at the second bodyguard, hoping to take him out of the fight first. It was just a flesh wound, but it made the guy seriously think twice about engaging an armed man.

Meanwhile, Lyla leapt at her foe, hoping to bring him down so she could fight by Ramiel’s side. She hit him again and there was a crunch as some ribs snapped. She slipped past the falling guard and raced to Ramiel’s side to support him.

Van tried a shaky swing at Ramiel, but his inexperience clearly showed. Ramiel deftly ducked under his swing. Van then wasted no time retreating behind a student desk. He needed space to work his magic. Clearly, he’d expected Ramiel to stay at a comfortable range and use his guns while Van attempted to overcome him with magic.

Meanwhile the second guard, now nursing the wound from Ramiel, decided he’d better knock down the gorgeous but dangerous young woman wielding the baton. He swung at her but she managed to block him, taking only a bruise on her forearm.

Ramiel easily hopped over the desk in his way to land a punch aimed at Van’s face. But, the mage was lucky this time; he stumbled at just the right moment and instead of being knocked flat, he received a ringing blow to the side of his head.

Lyla continued to pummel her opponent with her baton; he decided to get control of the situation by grabbing her, but she was too quick for him to get hold of.

Van was under pressure. He backed up again, know he couldn’t out run or out maneuver Ramiel, and instead called for help. In desperation, he attempted another invisible attack upon Ramiel but nothing happened. Ramiel pressed his attack, this time aiming for a knee. Van moved as fast as he possibly could, but there was little hope to avoid the hammer-like blow. He yowled in pain and yelled for help again.

Lyla’s battle with her foe seemed to be making progress when she managed to bounce her baton off the man’s kidney. However, the guard was a pretty decent bouncer. He grimaced through the pain, knocked her hand out of the way and grabbed her.

Ramiel’s fight with Van continued, with Van desperately trying not to get pummeled and Ramiel continuing to press him.

Julia appeared at the door and paused staring in surprise. Others were there too, now, but couldn’t get past Julia, the guard, and Lyla to help Dr. Van.

Lyla struggled fiercely, but couldn’t break the guard’s grip on her. He struggled with her to get her to drop her baton, but wasn’t having much luck.

Finally, Ramiel landed a punch to Van’s throat. However, chance made the blow a glancing one. It occurred to Ramiel now that no one could possibly be this lucky — somehow, the mage had done something to make himself more difficult to hit and it was slowing him down to the point that it was shear luck he was landing anything at all.

Realizing that attempting to bring Van down in hand to hand was going to take too long, he backpedalled fast and drew his guns again. He fired once at Van, causing him yet another minor wound and with his other hand, he fired into the door frame over Julia’s head.

Looking at Julia, the anger, sorrow and hurt showed in his eyes. “Don’t make me.” The coldness of his words told her he was not joking.

Julia and those behind her dove out of sight.

Lyla’s fight with the guard continued. Again she tried to escape but she was definitely weakening. The man was far too strong and Lyla never did seem to know what to do when it came to close-in fighting. He struggled to control her but still wasn’t able to get the baton out of her grasp.

But Van hadn’t forgotten the ongoing battle with Ramiel. Relying on his magic to do his fighting for him, however, didn’t seem to be working. Air swirled around him and a desk overturned, but he was not harmed. Van was growing frustrated, and every use of his powers drained him further.

Then Ramiel trained his guns upon Lyla’s attacker, blasting away at the man’s legs, right past Lyla. He toppled as twin gouts of blood surged from his thighs, passing out from the shock. Lyla looked stunned for a moment, then made her way clear of the doorway.

Van’s magic, while it had been weakening, finally magic to do some good, pounding Ramiel hard. As his vision swam before his eyes, he realized that this was it, this moment was the very last moment he could continue to take this kind of punishment. He had to either take Van down, or fall.

In a sudden change of tactics, Ramiel reversed his grip on his guns and began pummeling the mage with the butts of his weapons. Van threw up his hands to defend, only to receive crushing blows across his forearms. No attempt at retaliation met with success. This time, Ramiel had the upper hand and he didn’t stop until Van was out cold.

Lyla had blocked the doorway with her body. Battered and bruised, she stood her ground and brandished her baton menacingly, daring any of the other cultists to come within reach, but none of them were fighters, nor did they have the courage to face down a man armed with a pair of pistols while they had no weapons at all.

With the guards down and unconscious, Dr. Van out of the fight, and of course Lilly still out cold, there was none to lead the cult. No one had come here expecting a fight. There was only dead silence as Julia and the rest glumly backed away from the armed siblings.

Ramiel kicked Van in the knee, intent on breaking it so he could not follow them once he woke up. He then holstered one gun, keeping the other in hand, and touched Lyla on the shoulder.

“We are leaving now, ” He spoke to the crowd of other cultists, “You might want to get them to a doctor. You also might want to think about what dumbasses you are for letting someone lead you in a ceremony of human sacrifice.”

With that he moved toward the exit. The cultists and Julia packed away, fear on their faces, while Lyla and Ramiel made their way out of the classroom and down the hall.

Lyla paused as they made their exit. “I want you to understand. Every one of you. If we every hear of you idiots trying this again, we’re going to come back and kill every last one of you.”

They considered Lyla and Ramiel with both fear and hate, but no one made a move until Ramiel and she were near the exit of the building. Then a couple of them rushed into the classroom to see to Van and Lilly.

Back at the hotel room, Lyla and Ramiel were packing and preparing to move out. Lyla didn’t say a word about Julia or her betrayal. While he was lost in his own thoughts, she watched him carefully. She knew this whole thing must have come as a shock, and it must have angered and depressed him.

They checked out that night and as they walked out of the hotel, Lyla said, “Listen. I know we should probably leave town right now but what do you say we stop on the edge of town for a couple of drinks? We could both use one right now.”

Without looking at her or saying a word he held up a large bottle of scotch, then packed it in a special pack in his backpack. “I want out of here now, we can drink when we stop.”

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