I rolled around for hours. The memory of Keke’s lips on mine was devouring every rational thought in my head. Sleeping in her cot wasn’t helping one iota.
It even smells like her.
The dread of seeing the sun come up was beginning to set in, and I cursed myself for sniffing the pillow. Once the sun appeared, something else would kick into gear, and sleep would no longer be a possibility. Some second wind would take control at that point and bar my journey into dreamland.
While racking my brain for ways to enter said dreamland, I wondered for one brief moment if there might be some way to relieve myself. Maybe there was something around the house that would make for a decent lubricant. If I could do that, then sleep might just be possible. Suppose I could just get it out of my system. Post-nut clarity was a very real thing.
How can you even think of doing something like that in someone else’s house? Let alone hers?
I pulled the blanket over my head in shame, shutting my eyes tight. My shame aside, knowing my luck, I’d probably find one of Keke’s poisons and burn my dick off in the process. Can’t imagine I’d get another shot at life after that one.
Sleep should never be taken for granted. Like a lot of guys my age, I had a tendency to stay up late. Very late. Never until the sun rose, though.
Well, the sun was up, and so was I. The unfortunate part was that I was in one of those strange modes of operation where I couldn’t tell if I had actually fallen asleep at some point. I wasn’t tired, but I didn’t feel rested either. There was no morning grogginess or heavy-headed feeling. It was as if I just shut my eyes, and then it was morning. These moments always scared me. It meant there was a strong possibility of being overcome by sudden weariness. Today was not a good day to let that happen.
“Hey, Matt! Are you awake?”
A smile crept up on my face. My cheeks grew warm at the sound of Keke’s voice. “Y-yeah! I’m okay!” Moron. She asked if you were awake, not if you were okay. “I mean, yes, I’m awake!”
Strange that she didn’t come right into the room.
Maybe I really did overstep my boundaries.
“Okay! Well, um, I’m going to go do a little shopping! If you need anything, Cannoli’s right next door!”
But it was too late. The front door slammed shut, the sweet Keke eye candy forbidden from my sights. We hadn’t really talked much after the kiss, and I wanted to make sure things were okay between us. Guess I’d have to try again later. I breathed a deep sigh and sat up.
Well, I didn’t need a mirror to know my hair was messy, so perhaps I’d fallen asleep after all and I just so happened to catch that perfect Goldilocks amount of sleep—not too little, not too much. I sure did miss eating one of Keke’s home-cooked meals for breakfast, though.
Hope she’ll be back soon.
An hour passed, and I was beginning to worry. I still hadn’t eaten breakfast, and knowing next to nothing about Nyarlea’s cuisine, not to mention my bottom-of-the-barrel Cooking score, wasn’t helping.
Guess that’s something I’ll need to learn soon too. Can’t depend on them forever.
Wading my way through the common room like I usually did, I rested my hand on the door handle and paused. Cannoli was right next door, so I figured I would drop by and see if she knew what Keke was up to.
I opened the door and stepped outside. As I did, I caught the fleeting images of a handful of cat’s tails ducking for cover in several directions. One around Keke’s house, which I found a little creepy, a couple down the road, and a few around the house across from me.
Is it dangerous to walk around here alone?
I shut the door behind me and began to walk down the short dirt road. Once I came to Cannoli’s door, I gave it a few good knocks and waited. As I did, I tapped my foot against the ground and looked around to see several catgirls were passing glances my way. As flattering as it was, it also left me a bit uneasy. To this point, all of my knowledge had come from the mouths of two catgirls, an iPaw, and several encroached. Who knows what some of them were capable of, especially if they were anything like Espada.
“Ah!” A sudden sharp pain made me spin on my heel. I caught the winking gaze of a short-haired brunette. She licked her lips as she passed me by, a basket of white laundry tucked under her arm.
Did she just pinch my ass?
Time continued to pass without a response. Worried, I knocked again, this time a little harder. The seconds ticked by. I continued to wait, and still, Cannoli never came to the door.
“What the hell,” I muttered.
I wonder if anyone saw where they went.
Considering their awkward relationship, I decided to avoid Granny Nauka. Instead, I searched for Saphira. “Let’s see. Where was that fruit stand again?”
I turned around to the voice behind me to see the one and only Saphira. “Saphira! I’ve been looking for you.”
“Oh, uh, wha-why? I-I mean—” The brunette’s cheeks flushed a violent red and the girl stuck out her arms, waving them around like she was trying to swat a fly. As cute as it was, I didn’t really have time for this.
“Have you seen Keke or Cannoli anywhere?”
“Oh… I-I see.” Saphira stopped waving her arms and bowed at the neck, looking away. “No. I haven’t. Maybe Espada’s seen them.”
“Alright. Thanks!” I clasped her hands together in gratitude, her face turning even redder than before. Before she could get another word out, I was off again.
I came to a skidding halt by Espada’s workshop, the smell, and clanging of hot iron in the air. “Espada!”
Espada didn’t stop hammering. She continued to work the metal with the hands of someone who’d done it thousands of times. Dipping the chunk of red-hot metal into a vat of oil, it set on fire and sputtered out over the next few seconds as I tried to call out to her again. When the last flames were doused, she finally turned around.
“What do you want?” Espada pulled the goggles up over her head. An outline of clean skin stuck out among her soot-ridden cheeks. It reminded me of a bikini line. Just on her face.
“Keke and Cannoli. Have you seen them anywhere?”
“They’re not with you? Thought they were attached to your hip,” she laughed.
“I’m serious, Espada! I haven’t seen them all morning. It’s been almost two hours now, and they didn’t tell me where they were going. Please, if you know anything at all—”
“They got along fine without you before you came, you know.” Her eyes narrowed. “They can take care of themselves.”
Still, though. I couldn’t seem to ditch this weird feeling that something was wrong. “I know. It’s just that we’ve been taking on harder roaches lately, and I don’t want… Well,” I trailed.
“You don’t want them to try anything stupid,” she finished for me.
Well, well. Espada knows more than the forge after all. “Yeah.”
“Hmm.” Espada put a thumb to her chin and pondered. “I think I saw Keke heading over to Ravyn’s place.”
“A crazy witch. Not the kind of gal you’d want to tango with. But since you’re insistent, follow this dirt path,” she said, leaning over her counter and pointing north, “make a left at the fork, keep taking the road until you reach a descending staircase. It can be a little scary, but you’ll know you’re at the right place if you’re at the cliff’s edge.”
“Cliff’s… edge?” A lump built in my throat. Me and heights weren’t on the best terms.
“Yeah, bitch lives on the side of a cliff. Best of luck!”
I gave Espada my thanks and did exactly as she suggested, whispering the directions to myself as I followed them. The marketplace disappeared behind me, and I weaved through a sparse thicket. I’d started to wonder if I didn’t remember Espada’s directions correctly, but then I found it.
The stone staircase looked as if it had been carved out of the cliff’s face years ago. There was no railing, and there were only a few steps between the wall and dropping hundreds of feet down to my death. The stairs were chipped and scratched, some missing chunks of half or more of the damn step. A strong gust of wind blew past, and my footing staggered. I caught myself against the cliff and gasped for air, resting my head in my palm. For a moment, I got cold feet.
Okay. I can do this for Keke and Cannoli. I have to go down there.
I reasoned with myself that it would never have been built that way if it was so easy for people to fall to their death. I half-believed it, but I had to reassure my fears with something. I inched down the steps with great care. To my surprise, the steps felt perfectly intact. Even the ones that seemed on their last leg held firm, supporting me as surely as the last.
Maybe she really is the real deal. A real witch.
At the end of my descent was a wooden door located on the cliff’s side. I gave it a few knocks and waited. “Ravyn?” I called. I knocked again.
The door clicked and creaked open slowly. Pale, thin fingers curled around the edge of the polished wood, one by one. Through the crack was a mat of red hair, half-concealing a single violet eye.
“Ugh, what is it?” Her voice was raspy, and there was this strange, pungent smell of… something.
“M-my name is Matt!” I said, standing at attention like I was at some damn boot camp. “I’m looking for Keke and Cannoli. Do you know where they are?”
“Keh.” The door swung open, and an otherworldly gust whisked me inside. I spun around several times, nearly falling on my ass. The door slammed shut and, at the snap of Ravyn’s fingers, a slew of candles sparked to life.
Surrounding me were several candelabras, their flames dancing in the darkness. As each one lit, Ravyn’s figure gained more and more definition. Sleep-deprived eyes pierced through me with wicked curiosity. Thick red hair cascaded around her shoulders and stopped just above her ankles. She wore a lacy black top that cupped and accentuated her chest, matching black panties, and a garter belt clamped to flowery thigh highs. Her red ears flickered toward me curiously, and her tail swayed back and forth behind her. This month’s Victoria’s Secret catgirl goes to...
“Oh, you are delicious,” she mused, a finger lingering at the corner of her mouth. She walked toward me in a clumsy yet sexy girl-next-door sort of way. Ravyn took her finger away from her mouth and brought it to the bridge of my nose.
I couldn’t move. Or maybe I didn’t want to.
Ravyn brought her finger down, past the tip of my nose. She brushed my lips, traced my chin, and stopped at the collar of my shirt. It could’ve been my imagination, but her gaze continued to travel, down and down, until stopping around my waistline. She paused for a time, then looked back up at me. “Why don’t you just stay here? I’m sure I could give you all the entertainment you could ever want.”
I swallowed. “I see.”
“Tempted are we?”
Just a bit. My gaze traveled to her curves, her bust. None of the girls I’d seen so far had quite the chest she had. Her garter belt and knee-high socks gave me a framed view of her absolute territory, and—I have to admit—my hormones paralyzed me.
“Ravyn,” I choked.
“Yes, my darling?” she crooned.
This is dangerous. Don’t fall, Matt. Don’t. Keke and Cannoli need your help. Right now. But… “Maybe I could spend some time here for a bit.”
“Kekekeke! Pffft! Hahahahaha!” The sensual mood, her body in the candlelight, all of it was turned upside down at the sound of her laughter.
What the hell just happened?
“Oh man, I had you good!” Ravyn stepped backward, slapping her hand against her knee and doubling over. “Wow, are you easy! Play a little hard to get! What a loser! Hahahahaha!”
Kill me. I could feel the blood rushing from my crotch to my face. Fucking kill me.
“Squaawk! Wow, you are easy! Wow, you are easy! Squaawk!”
I clapped my hands to my ears and turned to the hellkite behind me. I recognized that infernal sound. Awful childhood memories came swimming to the surface of the pet parrot my mom raised from an egg. This one was purple and blue, not like the red and green macaw my mom had. It didn’t matter, though. All parrots were the same—evil little finger-eating rats with wings.
“Tempted are we! Tempted are we! Squaawk!”
“I. Hate. Parrots.”
“Oh, but he loves you. He loves everyone, don’t you, Ball?” Ravyn approached the parrot with a cookie she pulled out of God knows where and the parrot snatched it away, spilling crumbs all over the floor as it devoured the sugary treat. “He loves everyone.”
“‘Ball?’ That’s a weird name for a parrot.” Though mom named ours ‘Ferdinand.’
“Short for Ball Gag.”
I coughed. “You named your bird ‘Ball Gag’?”
She nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, Bally’s a great bird. He does anything I tell him to. Don’t you, boy? Oh yes, you do!” she said as she rubbed her cheek against his.
I cleared my throat. “Look. About—”
“Your girlfriends. Yeah, yeah, I know.” Ravyn continued to fawn over her parrot, and once again my attention drifted.
Despite the drastic change in mood, it did little to distract me from how goddamn delicious her body was. Now that I was closer, I noticed that the top of her black lingerie was semi-transparent. Holy shit.
“Hey, boy! I’m talking to you! Tits are down there! Face is up here!” She snapped her fingers in my face.
“Squaawk! Tits up here!”
I frowned. I’d cook Ball Gag for dinner if it came to it. Cooking skill be damned. “Are you going to help me find them or not?”
“Hmmm, yeah, I guess I’ll help you out. You’re the only man around here anyway, so I guess you’ll need some useful protection. Not that you’ll need it later if you catch my drift.” Ravyn nudged me in the ribs with her elbow, a lecherous smile on her face.
A pile of books, one of the candelabras, and a chair toppled over in the back of the room with a loud crash. Ravyn and my attention snapped to a dark-skinned, white-haired catgirl on her knees amongst the wreckage, holding a sheet around her chest.
My jaw dropped and I stared. What the hell else was I supposed to do?
“I didn’t realize you were up,” the newcomer said, rubbing an eye with her free hand. Her gaze lazily drifted to me and she yawned. “Who’s that?”
Ravyn’s smile disappeared. “Get dressed and go home, Phaedra!”
“Go home, Phaedra! Squaawk!”
Phaedra shuffled to her feet and snuffed out the candles with one bare foot. “Mmm, I think I’ll go back to sleep.” She waved a tired hand. “Nice meeting you.”
We watched her amble her way back to whatever room she came from.
My frustration of missing Keke and Cannoli toppled my confusion at Phaedra’s entrance. My sexual desires aside, I was growing impatient, and her personality was taking away the draw of her body with every word out of her mouth. “Please, Ravyn. Help me find Keke and Cannoli. I care about them. I don’t want them to get hurt.”
Ravyn folded her arms and her gaze drifted to the hem of Phaedra’s sheet as it disappeared behind a doorframe. “Hmm. Okay. This is getting a little too heavy for me. So if you relax, I’ll help you out. Give me a few minutes to gear up and we’ll go.”
Ravyn took her sweet time, but she was true to her word. A few minutes later, she was dressed how I imagined most witches would look—except each piece of her outfit had some sort of sexy twist. Ravyn ditched the lacy top for a dark corset and mini-skirt, but her garter belt was still intact. The corset and skirt were accented by long, belled sleeves, knee-high boots, and topped off with a pointed witch’s hat. The whole get-up was black and red. Ball perched on her shoulder, and she passed him another cookie.
“You look like a witch out of a lingerie catalogue,” I said.
Ravyn frowned. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“I’m sure you do. You can fight, right?”
“Why don’t you check your iPaw?”
Well-versed in the world, are we? “Appear, iPaw.” I made it to the party screen and what I saw made my jaw drop.
“What doesn’t surprise you?” She scoffed.
Ravyn had been added to my party alongside Keke and Cannoli. That wasn’t the strange part, though.
Sorcerer Class: 5
Health Points: 45/45
Myana Points: 101/101
Not only did she have more [Myana Points] than me—unsurprising considering her class—but she had more [Health Points] than me, too. “[Sorcerer]. Level 10,” I mumbled the words as I looked up at Ravyn. “What the hell are you doing on Ni island?”
Matt has befriended: Ravyn!