She does not speak much, verbally anyway. Body language seems to be her favored idiom. But tonight, your first night in Throdenoth, is different. As you relax in Zook’s camp, pitched in an empty lot in the town’s mercenary quarter, your eyes are inevitably drawn to her. Isa lounges before the fire like cat, her supple body wrapped in a long cloak of gray felt lined with otter fur. The firelight plays across her features as she casts back her cowl allowing her jet black hair to cascade freely. She regards you with black eyes set beneath her long and dusky lashes.
“Since I seem to be an object of fascination for some of you, perhaps I should tell you a bit about myself.”
She pauses to lift a wineskin to her lips. Her head tilts back and she enjoys several long and delicious swallows of the well spiced and potent drink. Finished, she licks her lips with the tip of her sensuous tongue.
“I was born in the City of Darang Geb, a large metropolis that lies on the eastern edge of Lake Ostryd [editor’s note: Lake Ostryd serves as Blixt’s southern border. It is approximately the same size as Lake Ontario in our world]. The city is a grim and dark place, ruled by the Church of Hextor whose red robed priests hold the entire populace in a grip of fear and dread. It is a large city, home to some twenty thousand souls, mostly human, and its sphere of hegemony extends for almost two hundred miles across the surrounding plains. From their citadels of stone the high priests also seek to extend their influence into other lands as well, some quite distant. If you have ever encountered a priest or disciple of Hextor anywhere in your travels, it is likely that he was connected in some way to Darang Geb. Most of the luxury goods that can be found in Blixt pass through my home city and the priests have grown quite wealthy as a result.
I remember little of my early child hood. I have no idea who my father is. My mother sold used clothes and picked rags by the wharfs of the city. What little money she earned was spent to purchase the juice of the purple lotus, a drug which she consumed in copious amounts as she sought some measure of escape into the world narcotic dreams and hallucinations. She was, to say the least, a very poor provider for me, her only child, and so most of my early years were spent on my own, wandering the streets and slums of the city, learning tricks of survival from the many urchins who were growing up under similar circumstances. One had to be careful as the agents of the Holy Church would often visit the slums to snatch a young girl or two, victims destined to be sacrificed on the altar of the Many Handed One.
As I entered into early adolescence and began to ripen sexually, I noticed that I was increasingly becoming the object of the lust of others. My bitch of a mother noticed it as well, because when I was twelve, she sold me to a brothel, a house of pleasure where I was to be trained in the many ways of giving delight to men. I have no wish to recount in detail the horrors that were visited upon me in that so called house of delights. I tried to escape on three separate occasions, but failed each time and was whipped severely. Like all of the girls there, I was routinely subjected to a regimen of beatings, druggings, and rapings, all designed to break my spirit and reduce me to a state of utter subjugation. The sexual tastes of the men of my city tended strongly towards the cruel and sadistic, but then how unique are they really? Somehow, I endured. In that house I learned to dance and to perform, skills that would serve me well in later years. It was also there that I learned that my body and sex worked like a magnet to which men were inevitably drawn like handfuls of cheap metal. I learned that even in my abject state, I could exploit this ability.
In no short time, I became one of the most popular girls in the house and had many regular “customers” if one can call them that. In addition to the regular townsfolk who made up the majority of the brothel’s clientele, I entertained traders and merchants from lands as far away as Narul, Thrang, and Mahrburg. Even members of Darang Geb’s ruling elite would occasionally frequent our water front house of pleasure intent on slaking their bestial longings and inflicting their cruel perversions upon their city’s less fortunate classes. The worst of all was when once an Outsider, a being from some hellish other dimension or plane, came to visit me. Such abominations are rare, but not unknown in Darang Geb as the priests are known to summon them for a variety of fell purposes. I did not realize that night that my service had been purchased by a devil, as he came to me in human guise. It was only when we were locked in the heat of deepest passion that he revealed his true form to me and . . . "
Isa trails off, her gaze drops, and for just a moment, her haughty demeanor seems to drain away. But she quickly regains her composure and resumes.
"One individual, a merchant sea captain who owned a galley that regularly plied the waters between the Darang Geb and Versvesh [editor’s note: Versvesh is a Blixtian port town on Lake Ostryd], developed a particular obsession with me. Whenever he was in port, he would always make of point patronizing me, often renting me for an entire evening as opposed to the more customary hour. He was a fat and sweating pig of a man whose sexual appetites ran well into the realm of what most would consider exotic, but by this point in my young life, very little could surprise me in that area. But, in him, I began to sense that I would find the means of my escape. I thus took pains to carefully stoke and tend the fires of his lust, all the while biding my time. I convinced him to believe that I was delighted to be nothing but his subservient private slut who actually reveled in the innumerable sexual degradations that he heaped upon me. The fool believed me, as so many do. Eventually, in the Month of the Red Moon when the streets of Darang Geb run red with the blood of sacrifice, he bought me from the brothel owner and took me with him aboard his ship. There I served him, in the manner to which he had become accustomed, as his personal cabin girl, helping to add some spice to what is otherwise a long and tedious voyage.
I did not serve him for long, however. In fact, I only served him for one voyage—though I could hardly call it a “maiden” voyage—to Versvesh. Our first night in that port, I laced his dinner with a generous dose of purple lotus juice. I had used my very nimble fingers to appropriate this dosage from another customer back in Darang Geb and had carefully kept it hidden and secreted about my person for weeks as I waited for the right opportunity to use it. That night, I made my way quietly over the side of the ship while the good captain slept, wrapped in a near paralysis of drug induced fantasia. He slumbered so deeply, in fact, that he barely stirred when I used the broken shell of a fresh water oyster to neatly remove his testicles before making my departure. Farewell my captain.
In Versvesh, I survived by my wits, blending in with the substantial underworld population of the town. In that world of thieves, actors, harlots, scoundrels and the like I refined my skills as a performer. It was not a bad life. I found that my dancing abilities had such a powerful effect on men that I could often twist them to do my bidding and lavish me with coins and gifts. But competition was fierce in a town like Versvesh and sheep can only be shorn so many times before they begin to get wise. Eventually I met Zook. He convinced me to join him and travel the countryside with this traveling show. I soon learned that, while city folk were easily swayed by the sight of my charms, the country bumpkins in the provinces were utterly spell bound. How pathetic are these fools. Three twitches of my ass and they’ll drop a week’s wages at my feet."
As if for emphasis, Isa extends her legs and rests her feet before the fire. She wears knee high boots crafted of oiled doe skin, the exotic leather molded snugly to the curves of her calves.
"But no one will ever own me again. Those who try,” she says raising her cloak to reveal a dirk strapped to her creamy yet well muscled thigh, “learn the hard way. More than a few of these provincial clods have made that mistake and lost parts of their anatomies that I’m sure they wish they had back. Don't get me wrong though. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy the attentions of a lusty lad between the sheets as much as the next girl does." She pauses to indulge in a throaty chuckle and adds, "But I'm really only interested in warriors who really know how to wield thier longswords.
"So now you know a little bit about me. You will find that, if treated well, I can be a good friend in a scrape. Just don't ever fuck with me.”
With that, Isa falls silent and takes another pull at the wineskin. She stares off in private reverie, watching the lights of Throdenoth glittering on the steep hill slope that rises above the camp. The late October air is cool and carries the barest hint of future snows.