Portias World


With a ‘pop' she found herself back in her bottle. As bare as it was this was home, no furnishing, no amenity, no door just the spherical glass of its structure. Despite this she never felt in want of anything during her tenancy, not hunger, call of nature or cold. Although she was certainly physically in the globe, her existence therein seemed on a different plane of reality, hours seemed like mere seconds although she knew her incarceration often lasted weeks. The view through the glass was distorted; she could make out vague shapes but no detail. With little else to do she usually slept, this visit ‘home' was no different.

Portia didn't know how she had come to her current situation, or for that matter how long she had been in it. Nothing more than odd glimpses of a previous existence ever troubled her and, if she was perfectly truthful, it didn't concern her one bit.

Her keeper was Tioga and you don't have to be too bright to realise that Tioga was a mage, indeed a mage of some standing. Now his eminence was something of fetishist, a fetish of uncommon ilk. It ran that he liked possessing things and being a mage of no small water, was able to procure most of his desires. The only problem was that he had tended to the agoraphobic and this was pretty much confirmed by the rather small Tower of Gouron that he called home. With space at a premium in this mountain top lair most of his collection was stored in miniature, you name it, exotic foods, animals, even the library and yes, the servants.

Now Tioga was not one of your hellfire, zap this, zap that mages, no, on the contrary his work tended to be of a more, if you like, humanitarian nature. As he was largely confined to the Gouron he needed agents to do his bidding and amongst the glassware on his shelves were several such agents of which Portia was perhaps his favourite. The girl had developed a sense of what was needed and slipped easily into any role he required of her. He had of course cast an assortment of spells on her but she seemed to have her own magic as well.

Tioga pulled a globe from the shelf and placed it on his worktable. He sat, and leaning on both elbows, chin in hands, studied in somewhat voyeuristic manner, the contents. Apparently floating but asleep was a tiny woman no more than 10 centimetres tall or long or whatever. Her long golden tresses floated about her as she gently rotated revealing more of the figure. Naked, she appeared not much different to when he had first acquired her, still pert breasts, athletic body and, he knew, a sharp mind. Sorcery put the woman inside the orb and sorcery would remove her, so it was that after another couple of minutes Tioga uttered the incantation and before the mage stood Portia.

The girl blinked awake and despite her nakedness awaited his command. On a scale of one to one it was clear that she was not entirely naked but rather she wore enough body jewellery to sink the proverbial ship of war! Nose rings, bangles, nipple decorations, anklets, earrings and most striking, a necklet of bright yellow gold were amongst her various body adornments.

Another word from her master and she was clothed in the latest style at court, a floor length gown of fitted bodice, drop waist and puffball sleeves, all of which did little more than highlight her beauty.

“Portia my dear girl, I've a job for you”

“Of course master,” she glanced at her attire, “at court I presume?”

“Indeed court it is. An assassination I'm afraid.”

“Oh do tell, I so lurv a good assassination.”

Sorry didn't I mention that bit, that's what Portia was very good at, killing people.

“You must be discreet with this.”

“Yes Lord, I promise. Now spill the beans, who gets it?”

“The Duke of Dronfield is your man, no fancy stuff, just quick and quiet.”

“Ooooh! Spoil sport, you know how I love to put on a show.” She pouted, he could never resist that as well she knew.

“Alright then but discreet, please? And it must be before Tangemot.”

“But that's only a week away.”

“I know, its all a bit last minute, someone calling in a debt, you know the sort of thing.”

“You'll have to speed my arrival then.”

“Of course, you have a single turn of the sands.”

Before Tioga had finished his sentence, his assassin was out of the door. Although the girl had often done similar work for him, he still doubted the wisdom of this particular job. What he had told her of a debt to be repaid was only half the truth, when Grofhan had asked for his help it seemed his friend was not entirely himself. After all, he was no stranger to death himself and would normally have little compunction in calling the Duke out himself. To resort to using this kind of subterfuge must mean more was afoot than met the eye, and talking of eyes, where was that spare Eye for the girl to take?

A mere couple of hours later Portia arrived in Waverney, capital of the state and home to the court and person of King Andrea The Fourth. She had of course been to the city on several previous occasions; her mount picked its way easily toward ‘The Speckled Hen', a halfway respectable hostelry not too distant from Waverney Castle and indeed, her quarry Dronfield.

At court she was know as Lady Portia of Gouron and in the pursuit of this appearance of grandeur, her appearance was much different to her earlier visage. Gone were the bangles, the nose rings and flowing locks, indeed her appearance now was verging on demure. Her tresses were braided and held in bejewelled netting and of her adornments only her neckband remained on view, and as that was magically fastened about her neck, there was not much to do about that.

It being late of evening, court would have to wait till the morrow, tonight was for planning and preparation, after all an assassin was only as good as her last job – and Portia was very good!

The new day dawned bright and clear and Portia was among the earliest risers. She was well known at court as a flirt, lively and not one to suffer fools gladly and she was in no need of an excuse to gain access to the castle and the courts within. The day was spent as so many days at court are, idle chatter with the ladies of the court, more lively conversation with the courtiers, attending the sessions and drinking tea with the women after, during and between. She kept an eye open for her quarry throughout, a trusted advisor, he could usually be found in the company of the King or in the shadows nearby, out of sight but influencing the regent nonetheless.

Now an assassin would usually take the easy option, kill the quarry in their night chamber; effective but our girl Portia preferred more subtle methods. Seduction and poison both featured in her arsenal although she was not averse to using more direct means if required.

Having such a short time to play with, the seduction part of the plan needed to move along swiftly. Dronfield himself was an unwilling aid; after all, his reputation among the ladies at court was hard earnt. By the time ‘Lady Portia' returned to the ‘Speckled Hen', her victim was showing clear interest in the lady. She needed to stay her hand; a hasty move could easily wreck her game.

Of course, with time at such a premium, she would succumb tomorrow to his wiles. The hours of darkness saw a dark shape crossing the rooves of Waverney, a shadow unseen by the townsfolk and men of the watch alike.

Dawn brought a much greyer day than the last; the pattern of Portia's day however was much the same. Only one real difference was apparent, Dronfield was close to succeeding in seducing a certain Lady of Gouron. Indeed, before the King retired for the evening, they were seen leaving in each other's company, knowing looks were exchanged about the hall.

The rumours that Portia had heard were true, Dronfield was certainly a careful and accomplished lover, she could almost regret his fate as he entered her for the seventh time. He was considerate in his art and took care to ensure his partner's enjoyment was equal to his own. It was well into the night before they slept, he with a smile of pleasure, she with one of satisfaction.

A third day at court could be trying for one such as Portia, but the job was yet to be completed. However, right on cue, soon after luncheon, Dronfield was taken ill with suspected food poisoning. He was soon confined to his chamber where the ladies of court, Portia included, vied to attend him. Despite their ministrations, the malaise steadily got worse and after one particularly bad bout of vomiting, the poor man passed to another place. Job complete, an apparent blameless death and the Lady Portia, his so recent lover, chief amongst the mourners.

The King himself tried to convince her to remain when she announced her departure next day. She claimed to be too distraught to stay at court but promised to return for the funeral. Quite an actress our Portia!

By luncheon she was back in Tioga's study despite it being a week distant from Waverney. Of course the old mage had from time to time used his eye to keep tabs on her progress but still she amazed him, he had no idea as to how she had engineered Dronfield's demise.

“So it is done.”

“Indeed sire, within the timescale and discrete too.”

I'm much intrigued, it had to be poison of course.”

“Of course.”

“But how did you administer it, I saw you eat from the same plate, drink from the same cup, surely an injection would have been noticed when he was examined by the physics?”

“Indeed it would sire, the physicians were most fastidious with the Kings closest advisor and yes we both used the same plate and cup, untainted as they were.”

“Well don't keep me in suspense girl, how was it done?” he relished her inventiveness and the thrills her exploits garnered in his loins.

She made herself more comfortable so delaying the telling purposely.

“I have to say I exceeded my self this time. That first night in the city I took myself to the Shambles and therein acquired a pigs bladder from the offal. By the Gods it stank, but I found that which I required and used brandy to clear it of infection and bad humour. I prepared a solution of hemlocks and carefully coated the inside of the bladder.

This I then wrapped and took with me, hidden in my skirts, to court next day. When we departed for his chambers I claimed that I needed to make water and so was able to leave him shortly. I retrieved the bladder and carefully placed it within me and used gum Arabic to fix the opening so that he would not notice. I have to admit it gave an added sense of danger having that poison inside of me. Anyway you can no doubt predict the rest, when he sexed me he was most thorough and he coated his member with poison well. The bladder along with some other suitable materials I burnt as moon time next morning, the rest is history.”

“Very inventive my girl, I am pleased. You would like some time unbottle I think?”

“If it pleases you sire.”

“So be it, when will you depart?”

The morrow, I need to make preparations before I depart.”

By mid morning the tower was gone from sight. No one would recognise her as the Lady Portia today. She wore thigh length soft boots over soft leather trews laced at each side. The rest of her costume was more memorable for what was missing than what was worn! A mail shirt cut to reveal her breasts and more particularly her pierced nipples complemented by a woollen girdle from which her dagger hung, at her shoulder a wool cape, her long sword across her back. Her hair was now braided in a single rope that reached her waist and a platinum circlet kept stray hair from her face. The bangles were back joining the hoop in her right nostril and stud below her lower lip.

All was not quite as it seemed tho. The provocative but useless mail shirt offered a lot more protection than a full suit would have, Tioga had long ago spelled it with a protective ward. In fact the provocation of her pierced teats were essential to hold the garment in place, the platinum rings were inserted after fitting the mail and prevented its removal, the rings were spelled too having no visible join. The pendant drops at each lobe were a bit special too, although plain and unimpressive to view they gave the wearer the gift of Babel, most useful to an adventurer!

Whenever Tioga was pleased with her, she would go abroad, to meet with her friends, go carousing in a distant town, maybe sell her sword. However, these excursions were but short interludes and sooner rather than late she would return to her orb and Tioga's shelving.

This day, for whatever reason, seemed different and as her mount walked the trail she sat dissecting her life, her existence. What would happen if her master were to pass from this reality while she was corked, would she remain there for eternity? Or would his spells fail, releasing all of his collection?

If she was thusly freed what would she about? Take to the road? Join the ladies at court or maybe stay in Gouron? Hadn't Tioga said she had some small talent herself, was she really a sorceress? Perhaps she would go home, wherever that may be. She couldn't recall a past without Tioga and the bottle although deep down there must have been one. Perhaps if Tioga passed over those memories would return, she didn't even know how old she was, she guessed twenty summers but that was just another unanswered question. She couldn't even recall how long she had been doing Tioga's bidding.

The horse tugging at the reins brought her back to the here and now, she needed to choose a path at the fork. She debated a moment then took the right fork. Her train of thought was gone and instead she took to humming a tune whose scandalous lyrics would certainly shock the ladies of Waverney or indeed quite possibly old Tioga himself!

To be continued.

Maddy Bell ©1995

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