Morning arrived in Galisemni and the stars evaporated in the sky like dew drops on grass below an alien sun as the nonspecific light of day graced the city’s skyline. The city itself continued to bustle much as it always did, with no particular demarcation between day and night when it came to street traffic and activity except for particular trends in various districts. After all, when a quarter of the city’s residents didn’t actually need to sleep, circadian rhythm wasn’t a set thing. Then again, nothing in the Jewel of the Maelstrom was ever a set thing anyway.
“Oh my dear sweet Ssila’meshnik, I can’t believe I got that wasted at the party last night… last two days… whatever…” Il’setsya winced at the light creeping through the bedroom window and filtering through the purple, pastel drapes that once gracefully hung atop it but now dangled at an awkward angle along with a bra and two pairs of panties, one of which was distinctly not her own.
“We both know that’s not true even in the slightest.” Astrid’azilindria’noxamilla Shimmerwings chuckled from the doorway. She stood there leaning against the wooden frame, dressed in a fuzzy blue terrycloth robe only halfheartedly tied closed with purple hair mussed and fussy, with a pair of antennae drifting lazily from where they drooped down about her forehead. Sprouting from her back and emerging from slits in the robe, her butterfly wings flitted back and forth occasionally, acting less as a way to fly and more as panes of stained glass casting a kaleidoscope of colors about the room as she stood backlit against the window. Clearly she’d had a wild night as well, though she held a decent palliative treatment for that in a pair of steaming coffee mugs, one in each hand.
“You’re an enabler you know.” Il’setsya smiled as her tail twirled and flitted beneath the sheets like a lurking, predatory serpent. “You buy me all sorts of stuff, you fund my absolute worst addictions, and you’ve taught me most of the magic that I know. I’m glad that I tried to pick your pocket years back and everything led to what we’ve got now. Damn I’m lucky, but yeah, you’re a complete enabler.”
“Absolutely.” Astrid blew the xaoling a kiss, leaving a puff of faerie-dragon breath transfixed by and glittering in the morning beams of sunlight streaming through the window. “I also make sure that you have this apartment to use at your leisure. It’s a bit less awkward, less expensive, and less dangerous than suddenly swamping my house with ninety random partiers who don’t know the punch bowl from the cursed artifact, the spellbooks from the party favors, and my familiar from the hors d’oeuvres. Less awkward to bring random partners here rather than to my bed as well.”
Il’setsya grinned as an expression of unrepentant faux guilt passed over her features. “I make sure that I offer you the option to join in when you’re available.”
“I know. That’s part of why I love you.” Astrid walked over to the window, retrieving and handing over the one pair of panties there that belonged to her lover. “You’re apparently incapable of jealously, and frankly, you’re hot and smart. Plus there’s the whole fact that technically you’re still my apprentice, so the benefits are rather awesome.”
Back on the bed, the xaoling flicked her tail and expelled the bed sheet, flinging it through the air and onto a pile on the floor. The oversized, prehensile third-limb snaked up and took the offered bit of underclothes. Holding the silken swatch of fabric up, its owner stretched her arms and legs, completely naked and exposed in the sunlight now streaming across her torso.
Astrid smiled approvingly from behind the rim of her morning coffee as her eyes widened and her previously drooping antennae sprung upright at attention. It was up for debate if the cause was the bitter stimulant at her lips or instead the xaoling before and below her vantage point spreading her legs and giving a gratuitous show.
“I could just stay naked you know.” Il’setsya stuck out her tongue, accepting a mug of coffee offered a moment later. “I dare say you wouldn’t complain.”
“No Crazy-Hooves, I wouldn’t.” Astrid stuck out her tongue, mirrored a moment later by Il’setsya doing the same, albeit with the addition of a pair of fingers. “And we had plenty of that last night, so come on and put some clothes on you lovely little head case.”
“You do realize that in any other company you’d be considered the wild, whimsical, crazy one who lives each moment without consideration for the future or worry about the past. You’re half-faerie dragon. It comes with the territory.”
“Yes, but I live with you.” The other arcanist laughed. “It’s like how an imp is physically composed of the stuff of pure Evil and unyielding Law, but there’s a pit fiend sitting right next to it, so it’s not that tyrannical by comparison.”
“Flatterer…” Il’setsya smirked, blushed, and slipped on her underwear in at least one lazy concession to the notion of getting up and out of bed.
The two not-quite-wizards-or-sorcerers spent the next several minutes chatting, smooching, and sipping their coffee as the sounds of others waking up emerged from the living room over and atop the sounds of a snoring thri-kreen.
“So before we go wake everyone else up, I meant to ask you one thing. Whose are those?” Astrid raised an eyebrow and gestured a manicured hand at the other pair of panties still strung up on the drapery crossbar. “One of those was yours, but I don’t recognize the other one or the bra.”
“Heck if I know.” Il’setsya gave an emphatic shrug. “I don’t remember much of the last two days.”
Astrid stuck out her lower lip, “Neither do I you terrible influence you.”
Both arcanists glanced at the other, grinned and chuckled. Il’setsya raised her eyebrows three times in rapid fashion, putting her hands behind her head and elbows to the side with a look of haughty, arrogant pride. She rolled over to one side as Astrid walked past her, snapping her teeth at the half-faerie dragon’s rear even as her tail reached around and intertwined with the last two feet of Astrid’s.
“So it looks like yet another one for the conquering heroine.” Astrid looked down at her lover, keeping eye contact as she extended a slender draconic claw and added one more vertical hatch mark to the bedpost.
“So it is.” Il’setsya grinned. “I’ll assume that you, or I, or both of us were good. Hopefully they left because they had to go work, rather than regretting it or ending up mazed or sent to another plane.”
“Like that one time with the twin lillends? They ended up on the Plane of Shadow and I had to open a gate that afternoon to get them back to their native plane…”
“I said I was sorry for that…” The xaoling blew an emphatic and uncaring raspberry. “But you have to admit that we both had a blast right up to that point.”
Astrid glanced out the window, shook her head and smiled with a look that bounced back and forth between bewildered and amorous appreciation.
“Anyway,” The half-faerie dragon said, turning back to her lover, “You should probably get dressed and we should start trying to get everyone you dragged here last night up and out. I have to scribe a few dozen scrolls today, and you’ve got whatever it is was you were planning to do without any concept of planning or forethought. Just remember to work on those formulae I sketched out for you to study.”
Finally Il’setsya yawned and hopped up from the bed. Dressed in nothing more than the minuscule article of clothing found hanging from the window, she searched around for something on the night table.
“Here we go!” Il’setsya held up a small and relatively featureless brown leather hat. She furrowed her brow and concentrated, a moment later holding not a hat but a pair of dull silver hair-sticks. Pleased with the object’s transformation she pulled her hair back and pinned the ever rebellious locks into a haphazard semblance of a bun, with a pair of long lengths left free to frame her face. “Tada!”
“Is a hat of disguise seriously all you’re going to wear today?” Astrid gave the virtually naked xaoling an up and down and ever dubious glance.
“Do I technically need anything else?” Il’setsya asked, suddenly no longer next to naked, but dressed in what for other than its instantaneous appearance, seemed like a fresh outfit of the latest in Galisemnian fashion.
“Your clothes are going to be completely illusory.” Astrid inhaled and chuckled with gleeful resignation, “Desna forbid you run into any creature with True Seeing…”
Il’setsya shrugged and walked past her partner, giving her a peck on the cheek as she opened the bedroom door.
“What’s the worst that could happen?”