Chapter 29: Jadesin

Stephen was not having a good day; not that he had that many since he was roughly lobbed into Relictus. But to wound up on a guilt trip back to his past, where the bedeviled memories he had so carefully locked away were suddenly cracked open for his grieving mind to experience anew? Now that was messed up. However, even after successfully weathering through all that ordeal, as if fate thought she wasn’t bitchy enough, he had to wake back up to the sweet endearment of a behemoth made of stone, sneak away, and then come vis-à-vis with its jealous magma counterpart.

And now he found himself with an annoying prickle in his eyes, with the rest of his body ostensibly unwilling to make the situation any better. The constant flow of ache that washed him over was doing wonders for his growing irritation. His back was settled upon a soft – albeit slightly rugged – texture, with his head nestled on a swollen lump of the same fabric he came to recognize as a makeshift pillow.

More importantly, he couldn’t feel the familiar warmth of his clothes upon his skin.

“Oh boy…”

He quickly tried to shove himself up but the pain reacted just as quick and flagged him down. Stephen’s face crumpled up, his eyelids didn’t seem cooperative enough to open up no matter how much he prodded them to. The only consolation was that someone was kind enough to cover his loin zone with a cloth, but that hardly alleviated his frustration.

Roseline, you there?

His thoughts geared around his trusted aide, but no answer made its way back.

Hey… please, at least tell me you’re fine…

Nothing.

He gulped down his concern and a lump of dry saliva. Roseline’s words replayed in his head; she didn’t seem about to gird up for her ultimate sacrifice or anything, but nothing prevented that tinge of worry to take root in his heart. Especially now that he was so vulnerable, he could really use some of her advice.

Not only that, apparently the one who covered his modesty wasn’t that kind at all, as he had previously assumed. His hands were stretched out with a rope knotting his wrists up onto a hard material, because no matter how much he struggled, they wouldn’t budge out of place.

Maybe he had to blame it on his lack of energy, his body was utterly devoid of strength, and there was nothing more he wanted to do than to fall asleep and compensate for the shortage of vitality.

“Oh, you woke up?”

Stephen’s ears perked up when an unfamiliar yet very feminine voice trickled within. His head wheeled around to the source, however, the abrupt shift of his joint sparked another sting of ache down his neck.

“Don’t move around too much my dear,” his interlocutor continued in a slightly amused tone when a hiss of pain leaked out of his mouth, “You’re still miles away from a full recovery, but it’s nothing so severe that we can’t wrap our heads around. I’ll nurse you back to health as long as we… outline an agreement, shall we say?”

“…” he stayed silent for a couple of breaths, before composing himself and his running thoughts, “Who are you? And where am I?”

“Hmm… your eyes, are they perchance injured?”

“I’m not sure myself… your answer, please?”

There was a bout of silence before the voice concurred with his request, “My name is Jadesin, the leader of a small tribe of lamias, and you’re in our habitat, currently under our care.” she let the information sink in before asking back, “What about you?”

Lamias? He rescheduled his surprise for later, when he had enough energy to do so.

“I’m Stephen… and…” he drawled, “May I ask why the heck am I naked?”

A stifled chuckle was what he got, “Sorry… but we had to strip you off of those rags, they were completely wrecked. It was truly a sorry sight for my eyes, so I took some liberty and undressed you. Hope you don’t mind.”

“… you didn’t rape me, did you?”

The unexpected question caught her off-guard, prompting a peal of laughter to shook her body, “Oh my, hahaha, no no… aside from a teeny-tiny peek, there was no endangerment to your innocence.”

Stephen brushed off that last tidbit of unnecessary knowledge and moved on, “What about the bindings?”

“Precaution.” she coughed away the last vestiges of her humor, “I’m sure you understand why.”

He nodded, “Yes, I do.” he would have done the same was he in her place, maybe worse, but then again, that trail of thought begot another question, “So, you saved me? There was no way for me to survive that attack…”

“I’m not sure what ‘attack’ you’re talking about, but you were like a surprise that fell from the sky, literally. Your body sported harsh burns and several cuts and gashes. We patched them up to the best of our abilities, you should be thankful.”

“I am.” he hastily replied, “So can I take it you have no ill intention towards me?”

“I should be the one asking this, Stephen.”

“You’re not the one who’s bedridden, in a foreign place, with a temporary lack of sight, Jadesin.” he retorted, “I think you can understand where I’m coming from, as of now I’m to your mercy. It is within my rights to be a tad bit vigilant, even if you’re my savior.”

“I guess you’re right,” she hummed in defeat, “Hmm, I think we can do something about your eyes, I believe.”

“It seems you need something of me, or am I wrong?” Stephen cracked through her string of favors and inquired directly, “There’s no way you saved me out of sheer kindness and pity.”

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“Uh huh, you’re not wrong.”

“Then…”

“Then?”

“Just spit it out already. What is it that troubles you so much that you’d need to save someone like me? Let me draw a line here, I’m not gonna jump head-on in dangerous situations for you. I’m grateful to you and your kind for the timely rescue, but do not even assume that I would repay this debt with my life. I just miraculously survived once, I’d rather not tempt my luck.”

“Heeeh, are you not afraid of me killing you should you refuse?” she probed, “You’re bound and injured, what gives you the confidence of walking out of here unscathed, my dear?”

“What makes you think I don’t have anything else up my sleeve, my dear?”

“You wouldn’t be in this condition otherwise, stop bluffing.” she giggled.

Stephen smiled, “Kinda hard to shorten the gap between me and an Earth Golem with only a couple of skills, don’t you think?”

Jadesin froze as her eyes hardened up, “I call b*******.”

His smile widened in response.

“Stop joking, Stephen. This is getting on my nerves.” her voice took on a dangerous undertone, “Even if you have a life-saving skill as you said, it would still be nigh impossible for you to perform it considering your state.”

“Then…” he licked his dry lips, “Why don’t you probe me.”

“…”

Jadesin scowled, a twinge of anger flaring through her heart. There was a seed of doubt and hesitation that was ever so slowly blooming, and she just couldn’t cut it off without further proof. She wouldn’t act unless she was wholly sure that no harm would befall upon her tribe. What started as an innocent teasing now smelled like gunpowder.

She never meant to start an altercation with him, but it was her duty to establish her authority and make him understand who had the stronger grip in their conversation. Probably not a good idea, overall. However, she couldn’t just give him too much leeway and show herself up as weak.

Now the suspicion of his words was gnawing at her.

To survive against an Earth Golem as a rank 3… that wasn’t something she could ever claim to do, not even if the entirety of her tribe grouped up and sieged it.

He might have been bluffing, or he might have been not.

In the end, she was the one whose decision would lead to one of the two possible outcomes. Either his death only, or hers alongside that of many other lamias. She had way too much to lose. Nonetheless, she was not afraid, not yet. Jadesin knew Stephen wouldn’t resort to such means unless he was pushed too far.

Probably sensing the tense silence that ensued, Stephen spoke up, “Look… you don’t seem to harbor any hostility towards me, I can sort of understand the troubles you might be swimming in as the matriarch of a tribe. I would do the same, but let’s break this deadlock civilly.”

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Jadesin heaved a deep sigh, “I’m glad you’re willing to negotiate, at least.”

“I’m too tired to dish out hidden threats. What about speaking about this again under better circumstances?”

“Yes, I’m sure you need your rest, but before that…” she tousled with chock of her hair, “… it wouldn’t do for you to not even know your… future partner in crime’s appearance.”

“Future partner in crime?” Stephen chuckled.

Jadesin smiled as she hustled closer. Her presence encroached in, and Stephen couldn’t help but take a whiff of the sudden fragrance that tickled his nose; she smelled of chlorine and roses, a weird combination that unwinded his mind.

Her hand draped gently over his eyes; his eyelids squeezing in reaction at the sudden cold sensation, that was overruled quickly by the soft and smooth touch of her appendage. Stephen’s stiff shoulders loosened up, and not long after a greenish light shone through the chinks of her fingers, prodding away the burning pain that had been plaguing his optical organs since he had roused up.

“Done.” Jadesin pulled back, eyeing him up and down, “How are you feeling?”

With his pain finally lessened to negligible levels, he slowly fluttered his eyes open, “Wheew, I can see now… thank– wow…” he blinked rapidly as surveyed Jadesin’s looks.

She had the darkest hair he could think of, like tresses taken from the midnight sky, and she had it bundled up in a high ponytail with two long chocks crashing over the sides of her devastatingly beautiful face. Her complexion had a shining hue as if lights were dancing through her skin, and the way she rose her beetle’s leg-like eyebrows in amusement just enhanced her seductive charm.

Her strawberry lips stretched apart, allowing her white teeth to peek out of the velvety membranes. Stephen’s mouth hung open when he stared into her eyes; they were of a pitch-black colour that threatened to ensnare his attention within that abyss. There was literally no white in them, even her scleras blended seamlessly in the same shade of her irises.

It was almost like he was gazing at empty sockets.

“Is there a problem?”

“Mm-mm.” Stephen shook his head as his eyes traveled south, over her swan-like neck and down to her midriff, where a collage of leaves acted as a sports bra and held up the massive mounds of flesh within.

“Are you sure?”

“Uh huh…”

Her abdomen was flat with no surplus of flab, and nor was it too skinny; a perfect contrast with her proud assets that stood in attention every time his eyesight ‘accidentally’ fell upon them. And even more downward was a perfectly curvaceous waistline that delimited her wide hips… that was swallowed by a scaly and black serpentine tail that coiled around her.

“Wait what?” he blurted out, “Oh right… you’re a lamia…”

She chortled, “Why, what did you think I was?”

“With the way you look, I’d easily pass you off as a succubus.”

Her smile grew in size, “Not many people would find us that pleasant to look at, despite how beautiful our upper body is.”

Stephen couldn’t refute her words even if he wanted to. Her lower-half was indeed a horrendous view to stare at, it seemed as if a huge snake was gobbling her up but couldn’t get past her waist and stopped there. However…

“I actually think it adds to your charm… treat it like the prattle of a half-unconscious and ignorant young man, but it sure as hell gives you a more dangerous edge, like a dichotomy between good and evil battling it out for dominance on your body. It really scares, but at the same time, you can’t help but be drawn to it.” he shrugged, “Or maybe it’s just one of the many fetishes I have yet to unearth suddenly acting up.”

“…” Jadesin didn’t speak, her eyes laser-focused on him as a giggle leaked out of her mouth, “Hahahaha.” her burst of laughter was infectious for he found himself sharing her amusement as well.

“Way to go, Stephen…”

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