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Ryel managed to stumble down the stepped streets, half in a haze, in the pouring rain, and find the justly famous Royal Baharna Hotel. She mumbled her way through check-in, found her way to the second floor, took off all her clothes and, with just the briefest thought of the lost lamented jerk Glosvar (hope he’s happy with his Lothlorien princess), fell on the big bed and into slumber.

She woke up in the late afternoon, rose, still naked, peeked out the window to make sure there was a climbable tree a credible distance from it, made sure the window was open just a crack, and then went and began filling up the tub. Oh yes, Baharna had bathtubs: and this one, round and silvery, was a masterpiece. She avoided the mirror, in which she had a sneaking suspicion she would see something that reminded her of Glosvar, that jerk. For instance, her nipples, which were large considering her quite small breast size: Glosvar had praised them and lavished much attention on them. As he probably had with half a dozen of her friends, actually. That jerk.

A minute later Ryel was in the tub and the soapy water was rising, covering her body and her memories with cleansing suds. She ducked under and scrubbed out her hair, and then she scrubbed the rest of her thoroughly: that Abyss, it was just a dirty mess down there. The water got disgusting disconcertingly fast: so she drained the tub, rinsed herself off, and then filled the tub again.

Ryel lay in that masterpiece of a bathtub and closed her eyes. In a few minutes, she seemed sound asleep.

There was a very, very slight sound from the window in the bedroom. It was a lot fainter than the lapping of the water in the tub. Ryel suppressed a smile.

Hands were on her shoulders, male hands, firm and gentle. They worked her shoulders until she leaned forward a bit, her eyes still closed, and then they began working her upper back too. Ahh, those thumbs, those dancing fingers, kneading out her muscles, loosening her tensions. She was softly sighing.

The hands moved down her back, down her sides, and then the left one continued up and down her side while the right hand stole around her arm, landed on her belly, then glided up to fondle the underside of her right breast. She sighed and smiled, and leaned back, and as she found lips kissing her neck, the other hand cupped her left breast. He was expertly fondling her, and finally with a laugh she got his face to kiss her. He smelled clean and he had shaven within the past hour.

“You better be Thaeron,” said Ryel. She opened her eyes. She looked down at his hands. His left hand descended to hold her side and his right hand disappeared for a moment behind him. Then it was there again, in front of her face, holding a bronze-ish piece of tubing in the shape of a common letter F, with a curious small side cylinder, of solid silvery metal. The hand turned it left and right, letting Ryel get a good look at it. Naturally she reached for it, and naturally it was snatched away.

She turned and rose to her knees, the water at her waist. And there he was, his shirt and boots off but still in his thief pants. He held the bronze-ish piece back and up in the air. “No, no,” he said, standing up, “this is just to show that I earned my prize. I hope you don’t think I trust you.”

Ryel stood too, still in the bath. She grabbed him by the belt. “I don’t trust you either,” she said, pulling it loose, then deftly unbuttoning his thief pants. “But frankly, it’s all about the tubing,” she said huskily, pushing those loose pants down. “Mmm, no underwear. Thanks.”

“Ryel, ah,” said Thaeron, as Ryel stepped out of the tub, dripping all over him.

“Oh look,” she said, “I got you all wet. Well, fair is fair.”

“I thought,” Thaeron said as Ryel finished undressing him and paused before rising to bestow a few wet kisses below the waist, “that as I won the bet—!”

“You would get to choose the positions,” said Ryel, not yet rising nor stopping what she was doing. After a moment she looked up at him and said, “You were wrong.”

“Oh demon gods of bliss,” he muttered, or something to that effect.

Ryel rose and took him in a kiss, and then bore him back against the wall. Necking seemed like the thing to do for some minutes. Presently Ryel found herself pretty much doing things to Thaeron that were simply more comfortable in bed, and she dragged him out and threw him down on top of the sheets. She climbed on near his feet and knelt looking at him in the late twilight.

“What are you doing?” he asked, smiling.

“One cannot help pause to admire a work of art,” she said. “Before one mounts it and takes everything it has.”

“By the Gods, Ryel. Oh my.” He was lying on his back on the rug.

“Mmm, Thaeron,” said Ryel, lying on her stomach next to him, her legs stretched out.

“Aren’t you glad you lost?” he said.

“Sure,” she said. She rose up to her knees. “Glass of wine?”

“Sure.”

A minute later, they were sitting on the floor, passing the bottle and also Thaeron’s tiny smoking pipe.

“So,” said Thaeron, “where do I rank?”

“So,” said Ryel, “just curious. What did you do to get the piece?”

“Ah, well, I am not going to tell you that, but then you don’t have to tell me what you tried; it wouldn’t help me to know that, because whatever it was, it didn’t work. But you should still tell me where I rank. It’s your chance to insult me, right?”

Ryel got up on her knees. She threw one leg across Thaeron’s stretched-out legs. “You’re good,” said Ryel. She bent forward and tickled his chin. “You might be great. I don’t know. You’ll have to prove it to me.”

“You’re quite good, too, Ryel. Among Elves—!” He stopped. “Oh by the gods, Ryel.”

“Just resurrecting the dead,” said Ryel. “You knew Elves could do that.” She moved up and took several kisses, then stood up and offered him her hands. She pulled him up. They embraced, kissing passionately, almost as if they were fully clothed. Then she held him at arm’s length and looked into his green eyes. “Are you ready to prove it?”

“Evidently,” he said. They both looked down: he was right.

“Then,” said Ryel, but instead of saying more, she pushed him down on the bed again and climbed on top of him. He raised his hands to fondle her really very nice little tits, but she took them and pushed them back over his head. “Here’s how you prove it,” she said. She held down his left hand and used both her hands to tie his wrist securely to a post right behind his head. He laughed, but not nervously; the most his right hand did was threaten to be naughty. She let his hand be a little naughty, and then she pushed it down and tied it to the same post. “Now hush,” she said, and there followed the best nine minutes of Thaeron’s life, awake or in dream.

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