Round 11 - DNash
"Considering the state of these two ladies," said Challenger, clearing his throat uncomfortably, "my guess is she and Veronica are in disguise."
It made sense. Roxton nodded. Holding up the empty gun belt, he said, "At least we know they’re not completely unarmed."
"Small blessings, John?"
"Right." The hunter returned the belt to the pack and rose. "Well, if they’re not here and they’re not back at the meeting place, they still have to be somewhere. There must be another way out of this cave." He looked around the area, trying to spot some sign of the women’s exit. "Challenger, the torch!" he said suddenly, gesturing for the older man to bring it closer.
Challenger held the torch over the patch of ground where Roxton pointed. "Footprints."
"And that set is definitely Veronica’s. Come on."
Veronica peered in through the window of yet another building. This one, too, was empty. She could make out a bed, table, and other simple furnishings, but no people. This isn’t good, she thought. If the buildings are empty, they must be gathering for the ‘festivities’, which means we have to find Ardo and Malone—and fast.
She heard a noise then, diminished by distance but recognizable. Cautiously, not trusting the village to be as empty as it appeared, she made her way toward the sound. As she approached, it became clearer. Veronica paused in the shadow of a building and peeked around the corner.
Damn. I was right.
Marguerite was pleasantly surprised with the ease with which she was able to get Kai across the village and out of sight. Then a thought occurred to her. If no one was here, where were they all? She found her concern for Malone increasing. What are you worried about? she asked herself impatiently. You know what happened last time we dealt with these women. He’s probably having the time of his life.
Come on, Ned, the reporter chided himself. She’s no genius. You should be able to out-think her. But he was hardly at his best. The tension caused by trying to keep Phoebe at bay was starting to wear on him; his head ached. Much of the pain was residual from being knocked out in the storm, but the constant battle of wits wasn’t helping. And there was an itch on his left thigh that was driving him crazy. He dared not ask Phoebe to scratch it for him.
"I’m really not feeling up to it," insisted Malone again, wearily. He feared his protests were carrying less and less weight with the lustful Amazon. She’d been reasonably patient with his protests up to this point, but her patience was obviously wearing thin.
"You were up to it earlier, and you weren’t even awake!" Phoebe argued. She knelt next to him on the large bed, ran her fingers teasingly along his exposed collarbone.
"Yeah Let’s not mention that to anyone, all right?" Wouldn’t that be just my luck? he thought. Veronica would never forgive me for it, and Marguerite would never let me forget it. In his heart he knew it wasn’t entirely true. Veronica would eventually forgive him for the encounter—after all, it hadn’t been his choice. Marguerite, on the other hand I have got to get out of here.
"Listen," he tried again. "I’m getting kind of stiff." When Phoebe’s eyes brightened, he realized he’d made a poor choice of words. "I mean my back is getting stiff," he quickly added. "And my arms are falling asleep. I don’t suppose you could untie me?" He gave her his best hopeful puppy-dog look.
The Amazon frowned. "It’s against the rules. Selena would be furious."
"We don’t have to tell Selena. You could just untie me for a little while. I could walk around the room, stretch my legs " Put some clothes on. " and no one would be the wiser."
"Hmm. I don’t know "
Please, please, the reporter pleaded silently.
But the decision was taken from Phoebe as there came a knock on the door. Without waiting for a response, Hestia entered the room. Her eyes widened in surprise and then narrowed in anger at the scene.
"Phoebe, you were supposed to call me when he woke up!" she admonished.
Phoebe shrugged. "I was busy when he woke up," she answered. Then she gave the red-haired young healer a condescending look. "And you said he wouldn’t be good for anything."
Great, thought Malone. So much for not telling anyone.
Hestia sat on the bed, and Malone found himself caught between the two women. You know, under other circumstances his libido began. He beat it vehemently back.
The healer leaned over him, reaching out a gentle hand to check the bump on his head.
"Ow!" exclaimed Ned involuntarily, trying unsuccessfully to move away. Any last amorous thoughts were instantly quashed by the sudden pain.
Hestia gave him a concerned look but didn’t respond. She turned to Phoebe. "Fetch me a candle."
The young woman harrumphed but complied.
"A lit candle," amended the healer.
Phoebe lit the candle and handed it over.
Careful not to drip wax on her patient, Hestia held the candle close to Malone’s face, checking the reaction of his eyes to the light. "Better," she pronounced. She placed the candle on a small, low table and stood. Looking pointedly at Phoebe, she said, "The festivities are about to begin. If you want to keep this one " She gave a nod of her head to indicate the supine form of Malone. " you’d best get ready for combat."
Phoebe had enough sense to glance at her thin robe and look sheepish. "I’ll change now. But I’m keeping this one no matter what happens," she added defiantly.
The red-head snorted derisively. "I’m sure Selena will have something to say about that. You better come soon." She turned and left without further comment.
Reluctant to draw attention to himself but curious nonetheless, Malone spoke up. "Um, ‘festivities’? Are these the same ‘festivities’ you were having last time we met?"
"Uh-huh." Phoebe dropped her robe to the ground without preamble.
Malone immediately looked away. "But there aren’t any cannibal tribes near here are there?"
It was small comfort to the reporter. "So, what do you do with the men once you’re done with them?"
"That’s a surprise."
Again Malone was forced to turn his head as the naked Amazon moved about the room collecting clothing and weapons. "A surprise?" he said, worried.
He gave up trying to avoid looking at her and instead closed his eyes. Suddenly he felt that much more vulnerable. "A good surprise?" He couldn’t think what would constitute a ‘good surprise’ other than being freed, and he sincerely doubted that was what the Amazons had planned.
He felt movement nearby and opened one eye a fraction, then clamped it shut.
"Maybe," purred Phoebe close to his ear. She nibbled his earlobe playfully, and against his will Malone found himself aroused.
Damn it! he cursed inwardly and pulled up every unpleasant image he could find to counteract the Amazon’s effects on him.
"Mmm," the woman moaned, reluctantly releasing his ear. She sighed mournfully and sat back. "I have to go," she said apologetically and climbed off the bed.
Malone could hear more movement, and he assumed she was finally dressing, but he didn’t dare look. Without warning, Phoebe planted a kiss on his unsuspecting mouth.
"You be a good boy and stay awake while I’m gone. I’ll be back soon."
Several minutes of silence passed before Malone opened his eyes once more. He was alone. Ned sighed in relief. Now, he thought, how do I get out of these restraints?
He gave an experimental tug on one, but it was quite secure. All the twisting and turning he could do with his wrists wasn’t going to free him. He was hit with a strong feeling of ambivalence. He desperately hoped one of his friends was coming to rescue him, but he really didn’t want to be found like this.
"Damn," he muttered to the empty room. "And my leg still itches!"