You open the hotel closet and enter the spacious area, looking at the extra towels and blankets. Ever since you got to your hotel room you had the feeling someone was watching you. The closet seems empty, though. Maybe you’re just paranoid.
You spin around as the closet shuts, trapping you in darkness, and someone slides up and holds you in their arms with nowhere for you to back up to. They’re short but have a tight grip, tighter as a scaly tail hugs around your legs as well. The person shushes you.
“It’s best if you stay quiet,” she says. “We do not want people to learn of our little tryst; it can look poorly on royalty. You came up here to see me, after all?”
As your eyes adjust you see she’s a lamia in an elegant violet kimono, her hair coifed and curled in a complex style.
You begin to answer in the negative–you don’t know who she is–but your attention is arrested by her eyes, swirling with deep, sparkling azure and violet rings. You’re fascinated by the enchanting colors, but you remember you don’t know who she is.
“Sorry,” you slowly say, trying to realign your thoughts, “who are–”
She leans close and kisses you on the lips. You reflexively pull back but are backed against the wall, her rising tail around your legs leaving you unable to move.
When she ends the kiss the world is spinning.
Her eyes flow with magical color, pulling you to her. What were you doing…?
“There are many more kisses available,” she says, caressing a hand around your cheek. “Your royal queen Anne treats her lovers well.”
“Queen Anne?” you mutter. What queen? Something sounds wrong.
Anne grins, nodding her head. You follow; it feels nice to nod, to say yes to your queen. Your thoughts feel like they’re floating away in bubbles until a knock pops the bubbles and taps you awake, a little.
“Er, excuse me?” a muffled voice speaks outside. “Sorry, it’s the maid.”
“Is everything okay in there?” she asks.
You realize not everything is okay–this lamia seems to be doing something to you. You can’t move your legs and her tail is coiling higher, pinning your arms down.
You might need help.
“Umgh,” you say, still following Anne’s swaying stare.
You mutter, “C-Can you hel–” Anne leans close and kisses you again, melting away your train of thought as she slides her arms behind you and slips her hands under your shirt to rub your back, her tail sneaking under your shirt from below to slither scales over you.
When she releases the world spins even more, flashing violet and azure and growing dark and murky. You can’t remember what you were saying. Anne half-turns to the door, still keeping her eyes on you.
“Thank you, everything is fine,” Anne says to the maid. “Please do not enter.”
Anne leans closer to you and whispers, “That was a little too close, dear.” She holds your chin in her hand. “You don’t wish to let anyone catch you allowing yourself to be hypnotized by me, do you? The spell may not stick were such a thing to transpire.”
Your world is spinning, spinning around Anne. You’d fall over were she not so helpfully keeping you stable, her tail sliding around your chest, heavily rooting you in place with the thick coils below.
Queen… your beautiful queen Anne… so lovely, so gentle…
A desire to obey your queen wells up in you… Scattered slightly again by another knock.
“Sorry, I just want to make sure everything’s okay,” the maid says.
Your remaining conscious mind feels the hypnotic walls closing in. There’s only one way out.
“W– Miss, he–”
Anne kisses you again, sending a shock of bliss through you as your eyes droop, the world melting away until there is only your queen, Anne. You give a lazy smile and she pulls away.
“Certainly,” she says to the maid. “Everything is perfect here. You may go.”
She returns her attention to you. “That was a close one.” She taps you on the nose. “You’re very naughty, trying to escape your queen. If you’re going to be naughty, you need to stay with your queen so I can direct it.”
“Yes, my queen,” you speak, like words from a fog.
Anne slides the end of her tail around your neck and rubs and squeezes your body, scritching her hand through your hair.
“Good pet. Your queen is pleased.”
No longer with a concept of time, you could never say how long she kissed and snuggled you in that closet…
“So it’s a deal, then?”
“Indeed, ambassador,” the lady said. “Whatever you need, I will be happy to oblige.”
“Excellent,” the ambassador said. “I’ll have my people send you instructions on where to send the funds so they can’t be traced back to you.”
Lady Annabelle nodded. You had to keep these activities secret, after all.
“I’m so happy you’ve agreed to help our plight,” the ambassador said. “Soon we’ll have enough supplies and weapons in the rioters’ hands to turn the entire region upside-down.”
If you asked Lady Annabelle why she was helping she would mutter something about it being the right thing to do, or perhaps wishing to see proper comeuppance delivered. Really, she wasn’t sure what she was funding exactly. She blinked, face clouded. What was she doing, exactly?
“My lady? Are you quite all right?”
She turned to her loyal butler Daniel, always by her side.
“Oh, yes, I’m fine.” She looked back at the ambassador. “Some days I’m afraid I don’t remember where I left my head.”
“I find that hard to believe, my dear,” the ambassador said.
“Tales of your meteoric rise to fortune suggest you have the upmost skill and wisdom in markets. It’s hardly believable how far you’ve come in such a short time.”
“It felt that way to me at first, too,” Lady Annabelle said. “Now I can hardly believe anything else.”
She smiled. She had a thought she’d forgotten, though she felt she’d never had it before.
“Why not a toast to celebrate our new partnership?” Lady Annabelle said. “I’ll have Daniel bring my finest wine.”
“Sounds delectable, my dear,” the ambassador said.
Daniel bowed to the two.
“It is my pleasure to serve. I’ll be back momentarily with your drinks.” He left the room, opening the door for but a second, keeping the meeting as behind closed doors as possible.
In a moment he returned with two wine glasses for the new partners.
“Ah, 1929,” the ambassador said with a glance at the bottle. “A fine year. Not for the people, perhaps, but for the wine, was splendid. To our goals being fulfilled.”
They took a drink of their wine. The ambassador coughed.
“A strange aftertaste, though. A bit–”
The ambassador gagged and with a choking gasp fell to the floor. The poison had worked quick. Wait, poison? What poison?
Annabelle looked at her butler, her memory of the ambassador falling away. The room grew dark, the only light her butler’s shining eyes.
His grin looked inhuman, teeth too sharp and long, yet somehow still handsome. His slick hair was so straight it could have been horns.
He approached Annabelle and gripped her chin in fingers suddenly too sharp and blackened, charred yet cold like diamond.
“Good work, my lady.”
Annabelle’s entire face seemed to sink. “Thank… you Dan…iel…”
She was Lady Annabelle, a rich woman who through skill and luck had become one of the richest people in the world.
In another world she might have been Amy, a nobody. But Amy didn’t exist. Annabelle existed.
And yet Annabelle didn’t really exist. Nobody existed.
Only Daniel existed.
The demon grinned, holding her closer. “You’ve taken a bit of a spell, I’m afraid, my lady. Your meeting with the ambassador had to be cut short. I saw him out gracefully.”
“I… understand, Daniel.”
“Now you need to sleep your weariness off. You need to sleep. You will sleep.”
The demon let her go and she slumped into her chair. Even a doctor might have thought she was comatose.
She was a good pawn. Asked to be rich. Never asked to get to enjoy being rich.
The demon hoisted the ambassador’s corpse onto its feet and filled it with some of his consciousness. Now the corpse stood as if perfectly alive.
“Thank you for the delicious poison,” the ambassador said, the demon speaking through his corpse. “I must be off, now.”
“I’ve got to get those weapons to the rioters, then I’m off to meet their leader and then die of poisoning.”
The demon chuckled, sending the puppet on its way. When the ambassador is finally found dead, the blame would be placed on the revolutionaries.
There would be no revolution. There never was going to be. But this would be a much cleaner method than the ambassador planned… and the weapons would never be used, in pristine condition for the country’s military to use instead.
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