Mel rapped on the door again. She could barely feel the metal on her freezing hand, but it made a clearly audible clank. "Can't they hear us? I don't see a knocker or a doorbell, this must be what people do."
"Maybe they're not awake yet?" said Sandy. "I think it's still the middle of the afternoon."
"Matrissin and the Master of the Stair didn't say anything about waiting until a decent hour." Maybe the Master of the Stair sent them on a wild goose chase because he was offended they had stared at him so much? She still blushed thinking about it, but he hadn't seemed like that. "Did you see anyplace we could wait for sunset?"
"No, everything was closed, or so dark only monsters can tell it's open." Sandy glared at the door. "Why don't they have a sign with hours? Or at least someplace people can sit down without getting frostbite?!" She kicked the door, but apparently that didn't relieve her frustration, so she would up and kicked it again, hard.
The metallic BOOOM filled the alley, reverberating like a Japanese temple bell, and the door shifted in its frame. Mel flinched automatically at the loudness. "Sandy, they aren't going to help us if we knock down their building!"
Sandy put her chin up. "They're already not helping us! Hey, is that a light?"
Sure enough, one of the windows only a couple of stories above them glowed the same dim orange as the paper lanterns for a few moments before the light moved away.
The door swung open so fast it almost hit Mel, but she sprang out of the way. The firelight from inside silhouetted a willowy female form leaning forward aggressively.
"Sorry!" yelped Sandy. "I— You weren't answering!"
Mel's eyes slowly adjusted to the light. The woman in the doorway was dressed in a tight-fitting white leather dress with buckles from bust to waist, but her black hair was short and punky. She glared at the girls with heavily made-up blood-red eyes in a bloodless face, but didn't say anything.
"Hi?" offered Mel. "We're looking for Ambrose Shield-Giver. Is he here?"
The doorwoman looked them up and down, not as thoroughly as the Master of the Stair but much less impressed with what she saw. One heavy black eyebrow went up, which made Mel envious under her embarrassment, but still no words.
Sandy dragged the papers out of her hip pocket and sorted through them. "Could you deliver this to him?" She held out the envelope that Matrissin had sealed with a Chinese-style stamp in what looked like melted caramel.
A spidery hand with scarlet nails three inches long nabbed the letter while the other pulled the door closed, but Sandy's reflexes were good despite the cold, or maybe because of it, and she caught the edge. "We'll wait inside for a reply."
In a world with magic, Mel didn't understand how that look didn't melt the flesh from Sandy's bones. Instead of trying to resist Sandy's superstrength, though, the doorwoman just put her nose up and stalked off into the building, hips switching. The girls slipped inside and let the iron door swing shut, gently.
The waiting room or foyer or whatever wasn't much bigger than a closet, but there was a row of candles with flames taller than Mel's hand on a shelf across the back, so it was ridiculously warm and bright compared to outside. The bench was plain wood, unpadded, but Mel didn't even care. She sank down into the corner, pulled her legs up, and basked in the heat. After a minute, Sandy leaned against her.
Mel hadn't slept well on a blanket in a desert made of sugar, so she was starting to fall asleep in the warmth when Sandy suddenly sat up with a squeaked, "OMG!"
Mel shot awake. "What? What's the matter?" No one else was in the room with them, not even hanging from the ceiling, but Sandy was pointing at the door with the other hand over her mouth.
"Look at the door!"
The door looked pretty much the same on the inside, but without the keyhole: dark grey iron with bands of decorative knotwork around the edge and in stripes across. No, that wasn't just knotwork, but worn-down carvings of some kind, figures of people and animals. She leaned forward, peering, until she could make out a snake coiled around a voluptuous woman. It looped between her legs, and there was something sticking— she flushed, because that was definitely a snake having sex with a woman! And the woman's hands were busy in the crotch of a muscular man with a bull's head barely visible under the lower body of a merman, who— "It's an orgy!"
Sandy was bright pink, but that wasn't stopping her from peering at the carvings with great interest. "There's two girls, there's two guys, no three guys, there's a girl and... a goat? Eww, or maybe it's a devil. And there's a boy and a tiger, and a flying octopus and everyone, oh this part's not as worn down, and she's hot!"
Mel's face felt like it was going to ignite, but the carvings were, well, sexy, and Sandy bending over in tight jeans and describing them in that tone wasn't hurting the mood at all. There were way more animals involved than anything she'd seen on the Internet, but it looked like everyone was having fun. Even the angel Sandy had pointed out, who had a gang of long-tongued, vaguely reptilian succubi crawling up her legs and hips, had the most amazing expression of pleasure on her face. Mel couldn't imagine what would feel good enough to make someone look like that, but she kind of wanted to find out.
On the other hand, "Sandy, you realize the person we've come to ask a favor of is in a building where the door is literally made out of porn. When Matrissin said it was a club, I thought she meant the kind with old white guys drinking brandy and smoking cigars while plotting against poor people, but maybe I was wrong."
Sandy shrugged, which somehow made her round butt wiggle, and looked back at her. "We still have superpowers, if they make us an offer we don't like. And the Master of the Stair was wearing pants made out of porn, but he didn't hit on us. Maybe it's just how things are here."
Mel wrinkled her nose. "Or maybe they'll want us to sleep with crazy old wizards to get our bed fixed."
"Then we promise to double-team them after it's fixed, and run away with the bed as soon as it's done. But what if they're young hot wizards? Anyway, if it's the Dreamlands, what's the problem? Everyone has sex dreams, right?"
Mel's blush was nearing maximum. "Sure, I guess?" She'd had dreams about sex, anyway, even if they were so vague she hadn't really felt anything. But sleeping with someone to get them to do something still seemed wrong, even something important like— had she said our bed? She needed it to get home too, but that wasn't what that sounded like! "Augh, I can't think straight with all this porn," she muttered, and turned away from the door.
Scary White Leather Vampire was standing right there, glaring at them.
|<-- 6: The Pâtissière's Nightmare 2||Contents||8: The Pâtissière's Nightmare 4 -->|
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