Cult of Dibella

Marghak was back at the Red Dragon Club. She had another concern that needed their help.

The Guild of Prostitutes has a close relationship with some of the cults of Dibella. While they concentrate on the erotic, not on the sex itself, there are always some who can't help themselves and get carried away. We recruit many of our best women that way.

And there's a smaller number that go in the opposite direction. Those who prefer the preliminaries to the main event, as it were. We cooperate on training, and generally sort out who belongs where early on. It's been a positive arrangement for both sides, and is likely to continue to be so.

However, they don't have the same unified structure as the Guild. The cults are independent of each other, with their own rules and regulations. We have to deal with each one as we find it. Recently, we've encountered a few that want nothing to do with the Guild, and there's something suspiciously consistent about them that makes us think they're connected in some way. Our main fear, of course, is that they're exploiting the young women who join them.

We know the cults need some form of income to survive. If a man wants to pay to watch a woman dance naked, that's not a problem for us. Or he can pay to can rub scented oils over her entire body, or anything short of actual sex. If that's where it ends up, she's a prostitute, and falls under the Guild's rules. And believe me, we've had to define what "actual sex" means to the finest degree.

These new cults don't want us to know what they're doing, and that makes us think it's just unlicensed prostitution. The women may not even be getting paid for their services, if they've got them convinced that it's an act of worship. They could be using drugs or spells to do that.

And then, too, because it's illegal that way, they may also be blackmailing the men. It's hard for us to figure out what their motives really are. They've started to pop up all over Tamriel, in farmhouses, caves, even in houses in some of the cities. It's always a small group, six at the most, and the priestesses are usually Altmer, although the acolytes could be any local race of men or mer.

We've just heard that there's one in a cave not far from Bravil that may be a good candidate for you to investigate. It's isolated enough that you can go there without being noticed, unless they have a spy detailed to watch the place. I doubt they've the manpower for that. And if there is any trouble, it won't be noticed either.

The priestess might be dangerous. They always know a good range of spells, and being Altmer, they'll have the magicka to use them. If the women are their thralls, they could fight on the priestess' side, so watch out for that. None of them will be armored, of course. Barely dressed, if they follow their usual style.

Ideally, we'd like you to seduce the priestess, and find out what she's up to that way. We're assuming the other women are innocent of anything, and any violence is likely to harm them, so we'd prefer to avoid it.

He realised that Marghak was speaking directly to him for that last part. He'd been wanting an investigative assignment, but he hadn't quite imagined this one. All the women he'd been involved with while he was a reporter had initiated things themselves, and he'd only needed to keep his head and steer activities in the right direction. But this time was going to be different. He needed to make sure that the priestess, and not one of her subordinates, was his partner.

He couldn't just use a Charm spell to get past her guard, either. She'd be ready for that. He'd have to do it the old-fashioned way.

Angeline and Diablita accompanied him to the cave, and went off to patrol the area for anyone who might be watching the place. He entered the cave alone.

The passage down into the cavern was long and dimly lit, but it opened up to a large open space, with a collossal statue of Dibella in the center. It was similar to the one in Anvil, but appropriately for one of her erotic cults, with much less drapery.

The priestess and her acolytes also dressed according to that theme. The acolytes wore a few wisps of thin gauze, that completely exposed one breast and barely concealed the other. Another piece of the same thin material was draped around their hips. It wasn't hard to see through it, even in the dim light in the cave.

Where the acolytes' outfits simply revealed, the priestess' displayed. Her breasts were held high by a sinuous golden band that wound around them and ended in a spiral around her nipples. An ornate belt around her waist held up a half-skirt that fell only at the back, and an elaborate collar and shoulder pieces framed, but did not conceal.

Taminwe had warned him that she might try to use illusion magic on him, to command or charm him, so he'd gone in prepared with enchantments on his clothes that would reflect or absorb spells. She didn't need those spells to have the effect she did, although he suspected Illusion was enhancing the display. But it also played in with his plans. He needed to concentrate on her, and she was making that easy.

The priestess, Alinwe, was suspicious of this stranger who'd turned up in her cave unannounced, but was also prepared to take advantage of whatever the gods delivered. She asked him who'd referred him to their remote location; surely he'd not found it by accident? If he'd been sent by her masters, that would become obvious in how he replied. If not, she might get some idea what she could gain from this encounter.

He replied that he'd heard rumors of the cult's existence in Bravil, and had just been curious. "Who could resist the idea of a cave full of near-naked women with love on their minds?"

She laughed, and called the acolytes to her. "I hope we're everything you expected," she said. The girls all looked back at him adoringly, as if he was the best thing they'd ever seen. Just a little too adoringly, or he might have believed them.

Alinwe suggested he choose one of the girls, and let her show him the joys of Dibella. They all eagerly stepped forward to be selected, but he held up a hand to stop them. "I couldn't pick any one of these over the others. And I doubt that I could please them all. No, if there's any choice to be made, I'd have to pick you, Alinwe. After all, Dibella has placed you above them; who am I to disagree with that choice?"

"Oh, I like a bold one!" Alinwe's broad smile looked amost genuine, and perhaps her words had some truth to them. "But you're going to have to deserve that. Perform a service for Dibella, and then I'll perform for you."

She wanted him to retrieve the silver phallus that they used in their initiation rites. Goblins from Fort Irony, on the other side of Bravil, had stolen it, and it was presumed to have been taken there. "Hurry back," she exhorted.

He left the cave to confer with Angeline and Diablita. They'd go check out the fort, while he went back into the cave to scout around. He could use his invisibility spell, if he was careful, and if Alinwe wasn't using life detection. He thought that unlikely, as she was probably using all her magicka controlling the girls.

He started his search in the darker corners of the cavern, and soon found a passage that led to the sleeping quarters. Simple pallets and bedrolls for the acolytes, and a smaller room with a single bed was presumably where Alinwe slept. There was a chest by the bed, but the lock was beyond his picking abilities.

He renewed his invisibility spell and went back to the main cavern. Near the opposite corner he noticed a rope hanging down from the roof of the cave. He looked around, and saw that he was concealed from view here, and could safely pull the rope without giving himself away. He did so, and a large rock slid down, revealing a small side-cave. In it, another woman was chained naked to the wall.

The Breton's name was Mariette, and she told him that Alinwe's spells had failed to enthral her the way they had the others. Her natural resistance to magic was enhanced by her enchanted sandals, surprisingly the only piece of her clothing they hadn't taken away. She knew all about the setup here. Whoever was controlling Alinwe would send agents to be rewarded by the women, or else they'd be providing them to locals who could be blackmailed afterwards. "You can't use alcohol, drugs or spells to make a woman want you, or it's rape," she reminded him. She must have seen the look on his face, because she continued "Oh, we all use Charm or a few drinks to break the ice, but there's big difference between that and what I'm talking about."

"That phallus she sent you off to to find is locked up in her room. It's supposed to be available to any acolyte who wants to prove herself, but Alinwe keeps it as her personal toy."

By this time, he'd managed to unlock the shackles that held Mariette to the wall. She was weak from her ordeal, and collapsed to the floor, but not before warning him to look behind him.

At the doorway, where the rock had been, was a flame atronach! Alinwe and the acolytes had all summoned daedra, and were running angrily towards him. The priestess had noticed the rock wasn't in its place, and she'd raised the alarm.

He ducked out of the small cave into the wider spaces of the main one, to lead them away from the vulnerable Mariette. He knew enough about summoning spells to realise that it was pointless to try and take on the summoned creatures. They were all scamps and flame atronachs, anyway, and he just had to keep moving out of the way of the slow fireballs. He needed to concentrate on the casters, in particular Alinwe, who was the mastermind of all this.

She flung a shock spell at him as he approached, only to writhe in agony as it reflected from him. He'd prepared for illusion, but it worked just as well against destruction! Her own power was her undoing. Without any armor, she was particularly vulnerable, and her race and birthsign both traded extra magicka for weakness to its effects.

When Alinwe died, her spells died with her. Her own summoned atronach was dispelled, and the girls were released from her control. In moments, all the daedra were gone, and the acolytes were staring horrified at each other, and wondering what they'd been doing.

Their reactions to their lack of clothing differed considerably. The Imperial, Caudillia, was trying to cover everything with her hands, and finding she had too much to succeed. The Redguard, Tamara, glared at him with her hands on her hips, looking more angry than embarassed. Horwen, the Bosmer, was trying to sink into the shadows, and pretend she wasn't there.

Urana, the Dunmer, was completely relaxed. So she was almost naked, and had the attention of a good-looking man. What was wrong with that? She smiled at him, hopefully.

He was still staring at Alinwe. Even though she was dead, she was still magnificent. It was unfortunate that she'd had to die. Perhaps he was projecting Taminwe's skills on her, and she wasn't as good as she looked, but she definitely would have been interesting! He found himself almost sympathetic to Falanu, now.

A faltering voice at his side told him otherwise. Mariette had staggered down from her prison to join them. "There's illusion and fortify magicka enchanted on that outfit," she told him. "Help me put it on, and I'll show you what I mean."

With the priestess' garb in place, Mariette looked larger than life. Her breasts looked larger, her hips flared wider, and she looked a lot taller. "The height's mostly the high heels, but the rest is illusion magic." Mariette took the opportunity of her newly fortified magicka to cast another healing spell on herself, and her voice lost its quaver, and became more authoritative.

He looked back at the corpse on the floor. Alinwe did look a lot more ordinary without the help of her outfit.

Mariette handed him a key that she'd taken from a pocket in the belt. "This will probably fit the chest in Alinwe's room. Can you go see if the phallus is in there?"

He found himself hoping that the same reward was still on offer for its return.

It was indeed in the chest, along with a number of clothing items that he assumed were what the acolytes had arrived wearing. He left those behind. He preferred their current attire.

The silver phallus was significantly larger than life-sized, and had a flat base, so it could stand on its own. Mariette took it from him, and placed it on the middle of a platform behind the statue, where a row of stone chairs faced towards it. "I think you can imagine what the initiation rite involves," she said with a wink. "Part of the test comes from having everyone else watching. She needs to concentrate on the joys of Dibella, and shut out the rest of the world, or she'll fail."

Urana was eager to try, and particularly wanted him to watch. Mariette told her to save it for when they had a paying audience. She'd taken charge now, and she had to run things properly. They'd need all the income they could get, and erotic displays were a good source of gold.

"I'll need a talk with each of you later, to make sure you really belong here. I know Alinwe was holding you against your will, but you all came here freely in the first place. Probably all for different reasons, even if they did have something in common."

They weren't really listening to her. They were all staring at the phallus. Caudillia with a mixture of fear and fascination. She couldn't get over the size of that thing. Was it really possible? Could she do it? The thought of being watched was especially scary, but exciting at the same time.

Tamara's expression was more one of defiance. Yes it looked impossible, but she'd do it.

Horwen was demurely looking down, but her eyes kept being drawn back to it. If they could do it, so could she. But she'd want to practice with something more normal first, and work up to it.

Mariette took his arm and led him towards the sleeping quarters. She needed to thank him for rescuing her, and the girls needed some time to play without her watching over them. He briefly thought of Angeline and Diablita, who were probably fighting goblins right now, but Mariette soon got his attention back.

Taminwe and Marghak weren't as pleased with the outcome as he'd been. Their hope was that the priestess would reveal something about those higher up the chain of command. "Are sure that Breton didn't have any clue to who was behind Alinwe?"

But Mariette had been chained up most of the time she was there. The little she knew came from Alinwe's attempts to make her do things she didn't want to. Once the Altmer realised her spells were ineffective, the Breton's chance to learn more had evaporated. "She'll send word if they try and contact Alinwe, so we still have a possibility that this will pick up where it left off."

They could only wait and hope.