Winky had just finished organizing the Dark Lord’s room when he entered. She did not shrink or cower in fear. After being his servant for a couple of months, she no longer feared him. In fact at times the Dark Lord was affectionate towards her, buying her beautiful new clothes, and flowers to keep in her bedroom.
“Oh Winky, you always make my room so welcoming after a long time away.” Winky blushed at the compliment, and even more so when he took her hand in his. She enjoyed feeling his touch. It made her blood race, and her chest tighten. Winky wasn’t sure what the feeling meant, but she liked it. Though she had a sneaking suspicion that she had felt something like that before, but she couldn’t remember ever knowing anyone except for the Dark Lord and Dobey. “My dearest Winky, I fear you have touched my heart. I wish to be more to you than just your master.”
Winky felt her face heat up. “My Lord, I’m afraid I do not understand.”
“Have dinner with me tonight,” The Dark Lord said. “There is a new outfit lying on your bed in your room. Be ready by seven. I will have Dobey come fetch you.”
“I will do as you ask,” Winky replied with a smile and a curtsy. The Dark Lord then dismissed her to her room; he was not going to need her the rest of the day. She had curtsied again before walking out. The Dark Lord smiled. Everything was still going to plan, and by dinner the next night, he was sure she would easily be bedded.
Winky went into her room all aglow. She didn’t understand the feelings she had just experienced, but the Dark Lord was pleased with her work. This was the first time he’d asked her to eat with him, instead of just bringing him his food. Her hand covered her mouth when she saw the dress lying on her bed. It was the most beautiful dress she had seen; white with lace. “Tahlmus’ eyes were so big when he saw me in this,” the thought crossed her mind as she touched the dress. Startled she moved her hand away. “I don’t know a Tahlmus,” she thought as she stared down at the dress. She touched the dress again, no thoughts. Smiling, Winky went to bathe. If she was going to be in a white dress, she didn’t want to be full of dust and dirt.
The dress fit like a dream. She blushed when Dobey complimented her. She wasn’t used to being called beautiful. Dobey led her to the dining hall where the Dark Lord waited. He stood as she entered, taking her hand and kissing it before complimenting Winky on her dress. The Dark Lord then pulled the chair out for her to sit in. It was all so romantic, but a very small part of Winky felt like this sort of thing had been done before. She pushed the inkling aside though because she had only ever worked for the Dark Lord and he had never done this before.
The evening went well. The food was delicious, and the Dark Lord was pleasant company. He seemed to be a very different man than when he was ordering her to clean. At the end of the evening, he walked her to her room. Speaking kindly to her the whole way; inviting her out to view the city with him the next morning, which she accepted. Before he left her, he kissed her hand again, opening the door for her to go into her room. She blushed as she entered, saying goodbye before closing the door. Her heart fluttered as she got ready for bed thinking of everything she’d get to see. She fell asleep dreaming of the day to come. Little did she know that day would not happen.
Tahlmus started to wake up as he felt his body being moved. Opening his eyes he noticed Coral on his right, Fleur was on his left and Laguna was clasping the cuffs around his wrist. Celestial was standing a few feet away tossing the key from hand to hand. Tahlmus groaned. “I just got out of these things,” he muttered as the women walked back to stand by Celestial.
“Are you questioning me?” Celestial asked. “Do you want to quit?
Tahlmus locked eyes with Laguna, then Fleur, then finally Coral. Each set of eyes, while different reminded him of Winky and how she used to look at him. He closed his eyes, and grit his teeth, pushing aside the aches and pains in all of his limbs. “No Celestial, I am not questioning you, and I will not quit.”
“Then take this key from me,” she said, holding the key between her thumb and finger. Grunting in effort Tahlmus focused his magic on getting the key. He focused like he hadn’t focused before, ignoring the pain of his burning flesh. Try as he may, though the key only wiggled back and forth between her fingers. He tried to focus more magic into the spell. A low scream escaped his lips as the pain from the burning flesh became too great to tolerate. At the end of the scream, his magic stopped flowing, and the key was still in Celestial’s hand.
Celestial nodded her head at Coral, who walked up and fully healed his wrists, before returning to her spot. Celestial taunted him with the key waving it about, and tossing it up in the air. As she got ready to toss it for the fifth time, Tahlmus put the rest of his strength into trying to get the key. Between the pain of his flesh burning, and the lack of energy from not having eaten anything since he couldn’t remember when Tahlmus passed out.
The girls revived him. Fleur healed his wrists, Laguna gave him water to drink, and Coral had a bowl, of what Tahlmus had no idea, but he ate every spoonful she gave him. Celestial gave him a few minutes after the last bite to let his body digest the food, before once again taunting him with the key. Again Tahlmus waited until she was preparing to toss it in the air, to focus all of his magic into the spell. The pain was intense, but he didn’t pass out, and the key landed on the ground almost a foot in front of Celestial. They continued through the night. Come dawn, Celestial let Tahlmus out of the cuffs. He had very little strength, so she led him to a bed that was off in the corner.
“Thank you,” Tahlmus said as he sat on the bed and saw the food Fleur set next to him. Celestial told the girls to leave then turned to Tahlmus.
“Eat up and listen.” Tahlmus took the bowl, and started eating while looking at Celestial who started to tell him about the Vampire Mermaids, and the reason they had magic. She had been born a normal human female in Tevinter. Around age five she showed signs of magic. At that time a man showed up, told her parents he could teach her magic. Her parents readily agreed. While she did learn magic, the man spent a lot of time experimenting on her. One day, she escaped running to the waters surrounding Tevinter. She as going to find a boat and sail away, but as soon as she touched the water, her legs turned to fins.
A few hours later as the sun went to sleep, the fins disappeared, her legs reappeared, fangs grew in her mouth, and she had a thirst for blood. She quickly learned how to turn others to be like her, and knew only to drink the blood of humans. Something about elven blood was poisonous to a vampire, even a vampire mermaid.
Tahlmus’ mouth was a complete circle as Celestial finished the explanation. It explained how they were able to heal, and of course the whole being mermaids one minute and the next having legs and fangs. “The man who did the experiments, is the Dark Lord who now rules the Tevinter Imperium,” Celestial stated.
“And has Winky,” Tahlmus said.
Celestial’s eyes clouded over. “Yes, your precious Winky. The only female elf that can provide the Dark Lord with a child that he can use to destroy us, Sirens.”
Tahlmus started to go pale as her words started to sink in. “That… can’t… happen.” Tahlmus couldn’t imagine Winky having anyone else’s’ kid besides his own. He closed his eyes running his hands slowly through his hair. “We need to get her before that happens.”
“Then you need to get better. It’s taking you too long to get out of those cuffs, and no doubt they will have more than just cuffs for you. Their armor is made from it; their weapons.” Tahlmus felt deflated. If the pain he felt now was only from the cuffs, how would he handle more than just the cuffs, and more than just once. “I must go,” Celestial said. Before Tahlmus could say anything, she was gone.
Over the next couple of months, Tahlmus put everything he had into the nightly lessons. During the day he would study the metal cuffs, trying to determine if there was a better way to deal with them. Every couple of days, Davey the ghost pirate would show up with his moose, giving status reports of what was going on in Tevinter. Tahlmus also spent a lot of time looking in on Winky. She seemed almost happy, which worried him. If the Dark Lord had experimented on Celestial, he could be using magic on Winky to make her more suitable to his liking.
One day short of two months since Celestial had, had the discussion with Tahlmus, frustrations came to a boil. “You weak, pathetic excuse for a mage,” Celestial started shouting at him. “I should have known better than to help a poor pathetic fool. You will never be able to save your precious Winky,” she finished getting right up in Tahlmus’ face.
Tahlmus felt his anger rising, slowly losing control over his magic. His muscles tightened. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. As this happened the cuffs broke. With the metal no longer hindering his magic, Tahlmus started radiating electricity. “I will save Winky,” Tahlmus stated as Fleur, Coral, and Laguna all tried to get metal objects near him. Every time they got close the metal shattered.
Wild fanged grins appeared on all their faces, including Celestial’s. Tahlmus had finally figured it out. Anger and letting his magic lose control was how he would get past the metal that hindered magic use. Since they didn’t have any other cuffs made of that metal, Celestial had to trust that Tahlmus could reproduce the result. They spent the rest of the early morning hours before dawn with the rest of the Sirens, discussing plans for the coming evening.
Tahlmus took a nap after the Sirens turned back to mermaids and swam away. He had to make sure he had plenty of strength for the night to come. The Sirens and Winky would be depending on him.
Read about how it all ends in, Tahlmus, Winky, and the Vampire Mermaids: Pt. 5