The thing lowered down slowly, a weightless black shape. Only when she came into the light could Titian see that she was holding her face, blushing...
Perhaps he should not act so fearful next time.
"You are such a good male, Titian." She smiled, picking up the potion carefully, and holding it to her chest. "I owe you more than just protection for this. Really. Please do not be too intimidated to ask me a favour, darling..."
"Just not tonight."
And then she was gone.
Abigail was awoken to the smell of wine and perfume. And a full-bodied Drow, laying upon the sheets next to her.
Is This Real Life?
It took a few moments for Abigail to fully accept that she wasn't having one of her more pleasant recurring dreams.
Abby was, by Drow standards, clumsy, inflexible, awkward, and a generally terrible lay. She didn't even know the Congress of Eight Spiders, for Lolth's sake!
Of course, she also was madly, deeply, and totally in love with Mishkala. And Mishkala for her.
And that made it wonderful.
And for the first time in a long time, Mishkala felt beautiful.
Abigail held Mishkala, kissing and caressing her even after the potion had worn off. She didn't say anything, neither did she need to.
Shortly after Mishkala had fallen asleep, Titian was woken by a knocking on his door. Most people in Umbralume learned to sleep lightly, or sleep forever. "Titian? It's Abby. May I, may I come in?"
Titian slept in his clothes, even his shoes. The only part of his usual attire left out was his apron. He got up and scooted out of bed, then answered Abigail's call. "Uh- er- Sure. Is there a problem?" Luckily, he had a bomb kept in his Glove of Storing, just in case Abby actually turned out to be a monster or something.
Abigail embraced Titian the moment he let her in, tears of joy streaming down her pretty face as she held him tightly. "Gods, thank you, Titian, thank you." She held him tight and close. "What you did for my Mishka, I can't, I can't thank you enough." She sniffled, smiling at him. "I know she can be... difficult. Especially since you are a man, but I know she, and me, I, that is, we're thankful. She'll probably never say it, but she is. And I am. I mean, it wasn't just the sex. You have no idea what it means to her, to me too, that she could feel beautiful again. Even if for so short and precious a time." She kissed him on the forehead, smiling. "You are always welcome here, Titian. Always."
Getting hugged freaked Titian out just a little bit less than getting attacked by undead. His whole body tensed up, but at least he didn't try to break free. "Please, don't thank me too much.. I- The main reason I did it was for research..." (And to give Mishka a good reason not to eat him, but he didn't say that out loud.) "I... I am happy that it did some good though.. of course.."
Abigail just laughed, kissed Titian on the forehead again and was off, back to her laboratories for her work.
For several more days she continued her frenzied work schedule, although now she took the time to make sure she at least cooked something up for Titian to eat, but otherwise spent most of her time working until she passed out.
When her work was finally finished, Mishkala was the first to know. The announcement came in the middle of True Night, while Mishkala was asleep, and Abigail had been working for going on 48 hours straight.
"Mishky, Mishky, wake up! It's done! I finished it! It works! I think! Come look! Come on! Wake up!" Abigail always got like this whenever she had a breakthrough. Full of enough life and energy that she could probably repel the Undead. Of course, her cheeriness and excitability was made a little more grim by the fact her apron, gloves, and most of her was covered in gore and bits of strange alchemical substances.
Down in the lab, Mishkala saw Abigail's newest creation. It was a relatively slender and Human-proportioned thing, as were most of Abigail's Flesh Golems, with a featureless face lined with six Human eyes of different colors, and a larger central one of clear non-Human origin. The hands were slender and whole, clearly not from the same corpses as the arms and probably from a woman or young teenager, and each hand had a eye in the palm.
"Lookit! Lookit!" Abby said excitedly before presenting the Flesh Golem with a glass full of water and an empty one. "Pour!"
And it did. Without crushing the glass or making a mess or anything. Abby clapped excitedly, laughing and overflowing with pride. She hugged Mishkala tightly, kissed her deeply, and promptly fell asleep in her arms.
Two days later, after Abigail had properly resumed a normal sleep and eating schedule, she met with Lucia and Titian again, once more over breakfast. This time she had the Flesh Golem pour, beaming with pride every time it did so successfully.
"Morning." She smiled. "I apologize for my recent absence. But look! It pours! Without crushing the glass, or making a mess, or freaking out, or anything!" She gave a flourish from her chair towards the corpse-thing. "Anyway. I have more work for you, but, I'm not going to lie. It's dangerous. If you don't want to do it, I understand. If you are, I promise I'll pay you all really well. And, you know, you'll be helping me and my research. Progress!" She gave a little laugh. "Oh, man, sorry. The high from the recent breakthrough still hasn't quite worn off."
Mishkala forced a bandy grin whilst glaring at the 'new friend' performing it's party piece again, only doing only so good of a job of hiding her massive feeling of intimidation. She was really pleased that Abby was still super happy and all, but seriously, that thing was terrifying...
"He's... Really quite handsome, isn't he?" The drider put more effort into backing up Abby's enthusiasm regardless, and even held her hands in a swooning-like fashion when she looked back over to the stitcher. "So smart and calm, too. Really something!"
After another glance, her body suddenly writhed with an unearthly chill, and she sought to warm it with her arms. The expression changed to one of realisation, but of what, it was hard to say.
"He... He should get a butler outfit or something... It's only right..."
She laid her head on Abby's shoulder, and warmed herself there instead, thereafter.
The mission needed no agreement.
Titian just sat in his chair staring at the flesh golem, not drinking the tea, and trying not to scream.
Lucia hadn't really warmed up to Abby's golems, and did not drink the tea.
"I can't accept a job if I don't know what it involves."
"I don't think my father or his servants left behind any clothes in its size, love." Mishkala laughed. "I mean, you should have seen my father. Ox of a man! And so kind! But yeah. I don't think I have anything."
Then she turned her attention to Lucia and gave a nervous laugh.
"Well... um..." Abigail blushed a bit, looked sort of nervous. "I kind of, well, um..." Finally she blurted it out kind of fast. "I want you to go to the old Arkill Estate, near Arthdref."
Even Lucia knew about Arthdref. It had only been a few months, after all, since it happened. It was one of the larger towns in Walpole, and certainly the largest in Prenardal. In less than two weeks the town was laid to waste by a particularly potent and virulent Zombie plague, much worse than the one that was common in other parts of Umbralume.
"The... the plague. It came from there. From the estate. I think. I, I don't know. But, what I do know is that it wasn't just the home of a reclusive aristocrat. The place was home to some of the best and brightest Stitchers and, um... well, Necromancers too. The estate still stands - it didn't burn down or anything. I'd like you to, well, go there. Go there and see if you can't find their lab and get me their research notes. I mean... I know, it's horrible. It's really horrible, what happened. It makes my skin crawl just thinking abot." Ever compasionate, Abigail really did seem on the verge of tears even just talking about. "But just think, just think all the good I could do with the research. I mean... maybe? Or maybe not. But then you'll be making sure no one can ever use it to hurt people, at least." Abigail shrugged. "I'll pay you really well. You're all smart, and talented, and I have faith in you. I know you can do this. I mean, it's not like you're going into Arthdref itself or anything, right?" Abby gave a nervous little laugh.