The Red Hand

A little extracurricular gestalt research...

«I need you to leave. Now.»

Althea’s commanding voice violently pulled Hasdrubal from his slumber. Taken aback, Hasdrubal gathered his thoughts quickly. He found himself shirtless lying on the bed of his mentor lavish quarters, his entire body feeling sore. Althea was a demanding woman…

Althea was standing some distance from the bed having resumed to her ‘normal’ form of a graceful mature human woman, wearing an ornate white dress and an ermine cape. A pleasant form in its own right, but only one of countless others…

«Yes, Mistress.»

Hasdrubal straighten himself, catching in the corner of his eyes a necklace lying on the bed. Resting over the silk sheets was a star-shaped pendant whose chain had snapped. Hasdrubal immediately recognized her mentor arcane bond and realized he must had passed out on it.

With mischievous smile on the lips, Hasdrubal rose to his feet, scooped up the pendant and lobbed it back at its owner in one motion. Althea raised her left hand to catch the projectile, her dark blue eyes, having not left Hasdrubal, narrowed slightly. She resumed her pose, pendant still in hand, her cold expression hinting this was as far as she would allow him to tread. Hasdrubal returned to a more neutral mien as he continued dressing up, his eyes preserving a hint of defiance.

Althea preferred companions with strong character… but only up to a point. Dosed insubordination might keep her interest piqued but too much would incur her wrath and a lost of favour. She was not so forgiving of indiscretion however. Murmurs were that those could not hold their tongues vanished with nary a trace. Maintaining her interest was a precarious a game that required precautious maneuvering…

Althea had made clear that is was a purely recreational arrangement. She had promised no favors and Hasdrubal neither sought or expected any. In fact, in terms of career advancement, it might even have been detrimental, as he soon started to suspect she might be slightly tougher on him because of it. Perhaps it was to prove to Hasdrubal, and possibly herself, that her judgement in academic matter was not compromised in the slightest by these extracurricular activities…

Having finished dressing up, Hasdrubal bowed to his mistress and made for the exit.

As he approached the door, she interrupted him. «Hasdrubal» said Althea in a condescending tone. Hasdrubal turned to face her.

«Yes, Mistress.»

«I have reviewed the spell you submitted for examination. It is flawed but it did show… promise.»

Hasdrubal gave a final bow to his mentor and exited her quarters, swelling with pride.

An admission of adequacy from Althea Guezult was worth more than ten thousand flatteries from mentors of lesser station…

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