“We are looking for your answers, are we not?  You have chosen at every fork in the road, have you not?  So we would only be here if we needed to be, right?” Odella had asked questions but expected no answers as such she had never once paused.  “Now do as I said and watch with open eyes and mouth closed we will talk later.”

Llana looked out of their booth with unfocused eyes.  She told herself it was like dipping her toe in a tub to avoid plunging into either scalding or icy waters, but really she was stalling.  Everything made so much more sense now.  Of course there were people about their business in the dead of night at a place like Candlelight, by the light of day someone might recognize them or call them on their various appetites.  The thought of all the people who refused to meet her eyes earlier became as frightening as those who had stared.  Without meaning to Llana shivered with a chill which ran from the sensitive skin at the nape of her neck down her spine.  Her eyes immediately refocused.

The room they were in at the surface was like any other tavern with darkness lending privacy to the booths and candles on the small round tables throwing the patrons faces into eery relief.  However, that was where her frame of reference stopped.  The men and women who moved between the tables where dressed, a term she was using rather loosely in this instance, in various non-clothing items.  A deep blush stole across her cheeks as a woman clad only in shear scarves and tiny bells walked past blowing Llana a kiss and winking her kohl lined eye in the girl’s direction.  Stranger still was the scene unfolding upon the stage which was built to resemble an elevated three ring circus.  Contortionists undulated in rhythm to the pulsating music sliding from one suggestive pose to the next, but it was dead center that held most everyone’s attention.  There a blindfolded woman was tethered to a hoop suspended from the ceiling. 

She waited with her head hanging down her body absolutely still.

Llana turned and looked at Odella, “Are we…” but she was cut off by the sound of a gong ringing through the grimy dimness effectively ending all other sound.  Odella gestured impatiently toward the stage.  Again Llana looked at the center ring which now contained a man dressed all in crimson and the woman who now held her head tilted up, awaiting something, her body straining toward the man.  He ran his finger down her jaw line cupping her chin in the palm of his left hand.  She quivered at his touch drawn up taunt against her restraints.  As the man in red lifted his right arm Llana noticed with a gasp that he held, what appeared to be, a short riding crop. 

Wishing she was a stronger person Llana found herself watching with unblinking eyes just like the rest of the room.  The man made quite a show of tracing the braided leather over every inch of exposed skin till the poor blindfolded girl vibrated with anticipation.  Then in such a swift measured motion, that Llana nearly missed, the red man struck the woman across her curvaceous backside. 

Llana’s hands moved of their own accord to her mouth in an attempt to contain her fear for the tethered woman, but to her surprise the girl with the blindfold did not scream in anguish.  She moaned with pleasure.  A sound which flooded Llana with heat. 

Odella touched Llana’s arm nodding over to the same man covered in leather straps with sly eyes she had spoken to earlier, “It’s time to continue on, I hope you learned something.”

Llana’s only response was open mouthed silence, but she followed Odella all the same.  The three of them passed within inches of the stage, so close that she could see the fiery passion in the red man’s eyes.  Worried questions ran through Llana’s mind so quickly she could not even attempt any answers, but there was one circling her like a vulture which she could not shake.  What deeply secret part of her required answers from Candlelight?

For additional parts of this story click here.

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