Sulpa sighed. She gestured to the far side of the table.
"Come, sit down. There are some things you should know."
Well, this has deviated from the plan somewhat, Ken thought. As Sulpa was not actively trying to fang him in the throat, he supposed he should hear her out.
He got back to his feet and took a place on the far side of the table. He still kept hold of his sword.
"Celestrico is a trickster," Sulpa said. "This is one of her games. I'm sorry you've been dragged into it."
"So I'm not the brave hero chosen by destiny to rid the world of the demon queen?" Ken said.
To her credit Sulpa did try very hard not to laugh.
"Do you feel like a mighty warrior capable of taking on the forces of darkness single-handed?" Sulpa asked.
Ken looked at the sword in his hand, the one he wasn't really sure he knew how to wield correctly.
"I thought it sounded really silly," he said. "But my head is so screwed up—I've lost my memory—I didn't have anything else to go on."
"That's Celestrico," Sulpa said. "It's part of her game. She finds a lone traveller, ensorcells them to cloud their memories and then convinces them they're on a vital and holy quest."
And probably screws around with their perception as well, Ken thought. Just because he could see horns on Sulpa's head and bat wings sprouting from her back didn't mean they were there. Maybe Celestrico had done that as well—hypnotized him into seeing a demon when all that was there was a harmless young woman.
It unnerved him. He'd thought hypnotism was just a stage trick. For someone to reach into his head like this and scramble his brain made him feel all skeevy. Like returning home to find someone had been through all his private belongings. No, worse than that. This was his head, his thoughts—it didn't get any more personal.
"How do I reverse it?" has asked.
Seeing horns on every pretty girl he looked at wasn't going to be conducive to a healthy sex life.
"You'll be okay," Sulpa said. "Your memory will come back in a day or so. It did for the others."
That was a relief. He still felt dirty. Used. He doubted that feeling would go away anytime soon.
"Why does she do it?" he asked.
Sulpa shrugged. "Fun. It amuses her. She's always had a mischievous side."
Ken looked at his sword. It was hard, metallic and pointy. If he impaled someone with it they'd end up very dead. Haha, let's all laugh at the innocent person twitching in agony on the end of a sword while they bleed out.
"Mischievous? I'd go with sociopathic," he said. "You're taking it way better than I would if I knew some lunatic was brain-washing hapless men and sending them on crazy quests to kill me."
"All of us around here are familiar with Celestrico's games," Sulpa said. "They're not that dangerous. She doesn't risk playing with powerful warriors. Simple travellers and merchants are her usual playthings. Men—and sometimes women—who aren't skilled in the combat arts."
"Yeah, but neither are dancers. And you're unarmed," Ken pointed out. He couldn't believe how blasé she was about the whole thing. "What if I hadn't listened and attacked you? You could be injured or even dead by now."
"I can look after myself." The corner of Sulpa's lips turned up in a mysterious smile. "If anything, it's you who should be more worried about death and injury. There are others Celestrico could have sent you after, others that take a much dimmer view of would-be assassins."
Oh... shit, yeah. Ken imagined what might have happened had his target been a local crime lord or dignitary—someone with bodyguards—and quickly pushed the image aside. It was not pretty picture.
"You're lucky Celestrico chose me as your target," Sulpa said. "The ones I've been forced to subdue enjoyed being subdued by me so much some of them returned as regular clients."
There was a dirty twinkle in her dark eyes and her smile was less than innocent.
Ken was still thinking of how much worse it could have been. He wondered how much of his perception was fucked up. How much of what he saw was real? Was it a sword in his hand, or just a stick? That might explain why she was so unconcerned by his appearance. He thought he was in a brothel. What if it was really someone's front living room?
"Ugh. Sorry about this," Ken said. "I'm feeling totally headfucked at the moment."
"That is Celestrico's intention," Sulpa said.
"What now?" Ken asked.
"You should rest here awhile and let your head clear. Mmm..."
Sulpa placed a finger against her lips and stared thoughtfully into space. The movement brought Ken's attention to her plump, sensual lips. They glistened moistly in the low, intimate light.
"I do have a suggestion for how we can occupy that time."
She turned her dark eyes on Ken. They smouldered like sultry magnets.
"Why don't we go upstairs and fuck?"
Uh oh. Danger danger,