Medora - part III

"If she's not being rational, then we'll just have to fight fire with fire," Uzgash reasoned. "And I don't know anything better than religion. The witches that brought up my mother had one that involved a lot of naked rituals, and weird ceremonies. It was all just an excuse for a communal feel-good session, but the way they did it made it exclusively their own. That reinforced the idea that they were special, and privy to secrets that others didn't have. The drugs they took made it easier for the particpants to believe it all."

"All in all, they were a fairly harmless bunch of excentrics. The good part was that their alchemical skills and magic were sharpened by their ritual practice into something that was actually useful. Not to mention all that dancing keeping them in shape. Mother learned a lot of good stuff from those witches, and I got it all passed down through a filter of cold reason. She could understand what they were doing better than they did, or at least most of them. I'm sure the priestesses had a clue, too; that's why they were in charge."

"But Medora's not a witch," Clark pointed out. "And she's intelligent enough, with this one exception. How do we convert her to witchcraft?"

"We only need to convince her that it's the basis of Nulfaga's curse," Taminwe told him. "That's what Uzgash meant about fighting fire with fire. If we can get Medora believing in witchcraft as the source of her problem, then she'll believe it's the cure as well."

"Was Nulfaga a witch?" Clark asked the obvious question.

"Medora seems to think of her that way," Taminwe replied. "I'm not sure if she actually believes that she was, or she's just using it as a mental dismissal of her adversary's magical ability. We also have to assume that Nulfaga knew something of Medora's mind. After all, they were both telepathic. She could have planted the idea that it was witchcraft, along with the fear, knowing it would make it harder for Medora to do anything. In any case, we can cast her in that light and Medora will accept it. The fact that she seems to count witches' skills as inferior will help our cause."

"So where do we get a witch?" he asked.

"Medora doesn't know me, so I'm going to be your beldam, or witch high priestess," answered Uzgash. "My mother's stories have given me a good idea of what I need to do, and Medora's likely to think of Orcs as witch material, coming from High Rock as she does. And you know I don't mind dancing around naked."

Clark was quite aware of Uzgash's lack of inhibition. As were most of the folk in Falkreath, and quite a few in Bruma, especially if they'd been to Olav's that evening.

"Why do I have to be naked?" Medora asked again.

"Because it's an act of defiance," Uzgash explained. "You're telling everyone that you're equal to anything they can bring against you, without any weapons, without any armor, without anything but yourself. Don't think of it as a show of vulnerability, but of strength!"

Clark looked at Uzgash's naked body, and it wasn't hard to see the strength there. Medora was a bit softer, with smooth, gentle curves that were just as good to look at, only different. She didn't look weaker, so much as a more tempting target.

Uzgash grinned. "The other reason for being naked, of course, is the paint."

She handed Clark a pot of paint. Uzgash and Medora had ground up the plant material and rocks to make these. She'd explained to the sorceress the symbolism of each pigment, making it all up as she went along. Red was for Fire, of course, and blue for Frost, white for Shock. The other colors were associated with health, and strength, and endurance, and... Clark had lost track of it all, but Medora had, too, which was just what Uzgash intended.

"I'm not sure of the exact meaning of each of these symbols," Uzgash was saying, "but they're the ones they used in all the ceremonies. They're intended to attract all the spirits that are needed to collectively raise the available magicka to the right level. The placement of them is equally important, so please hold still while we work."

Medora was finding it quite difficult to remain motionless for them. The soft hair of the brushes tickled her skin in a most arousing way, especially as they were painting there, and even there. Significant locations for the most significant symbols, as Uzgash explained it.

Clark and Uzgash wouldn't be wearing any paint, of course. It was Medora that the ceremony was all about, so she was the one that was decorated. All the magicka would flow to her, and she'd be able to lift Nulfaga's curse using the same witchcraft that had placed it.

"I think she's ready," Uzgash said. "Close your eyes, Medora, while I open the door and check if the moons are at their proper aspect."

Medora was glad that she didn't have to look outside yet. They'd decided that the tall, narrow alley leading to the Club was a good compromise between indoors and out. She'd have walls all round her, so It would seem less threatening, but it was still open to the sky. That was the fear she needed to overcome.

"Yes, it's nice and dark, and I can see both moons." Uzgash's voice sounded different, and Medora realised that it was because it was coming from outside the open door. She kept her eyes tightly closed as Clark guided her out into the alley to join her.

"Point her towards the moons" Uzgash instructed Clark. "Now Medora, raise your right fist, and shake it at the moons."

She had to open her eyes a little, to see where they were. She tried to make it as brief a glimpse as possible, but her knees buckled as she did that. Medora felt Clark's arms around her, holding her steady. She narrowed her eyes to look at the moons, and nothing else. The feeling of panic was still there, but she could handle it, maybe.

"Good, now hold that pose while we wash off the paint. The curse will have been absorbed into the symbols, and it will leave you with them. And it doesn't matter if you close your eyes again now."

Medora relaxed a lttle. She knew she was outside, and naked, but she felt safer with these people, who seemed to know what they were doing. And washing the paint off was quite a pleasant feeling. Well, more than just pleasant. After all, they'd painted some intimate places and Clark's hands were so gentle.

They reminded her of Lysandus, and of happier times at the palace in Daggerfall. She hadn't been living under Nulfaga's curse then, and she'd been able to stroll the palace garden with her King. And because it was a private place, away from Mynisera, it was where they often...

Medora opened her eyes and looked at the moons, lost in the memories of those earlier years. Clark could feel her trembling, but it didn't seem to be fear any more. Uzgash whispered in his ear. "I'll go inside now, and leave you to finish things. I'll leave the door open, in case she feels shut out with it closed."

"That ceremony thing was all a load of hooey, wasn't it?" Medora accused.

"Hey! It worked, didn't it?" Taminwe retorted.

"Well yes, but was it all necessary? I feel totally stupid now, and I must have looked ridiculous in all that gaudy warpaint."

"That's why we washed it off again," Clark quite reasonably countered. "I'm sure you'd agree that part was needed."

Medora glared at him, but it was hard for her to feel any ill will. "The part I really needed came after that, and I'd rather it had been on soft sheets, than up against a wall in an alley."

"You did seem to need it urgently. And you got your soft sheets when we came back inside." Clark had been kept rather busy, as Medora had been saving up her passion for some time.

Taminwe wanted to know why Medora had gone back outside afterwards to gesture at the moons again. "If you'd told me you were still going to be naked, I'd have kept the customers in the bar. Now they're asking if if it will be a regular show!"

"Well, the first time, it was all Uzgash's idea. She was right, being naked does feel empowering. I had to do it on my own, to tell myself that I was in control now, and I could beat that fear alone, if it ever came back. "

"If it does, we'll sell tickets for your next performance," Taminwe laughed.