An owl hooted in the distance, somewhere amidst the trees that surrounded the small town of the Cozlak clan, at the foot of the hill holding high Castle Volgras. The castle of their now dead king, his rotting head shoved upon a pike in the Atzgol plains, loomed atop a hill. The clan had been in danger of assimilation of the other Kings and Lords of the coalition for years now, the Kazdruk forces simply beat them to it.
Lillium smiled as she walked down the main street, heels clicking upon the cobblestone. Yannifer skulked behind her, garbed in black leather straps wrapped around her chest, offering peaks of her skin between them. More straps formed a dress of sorts down to her knees, before the heeled leather boots that had been given to her started. The elf glanced towards the abandoned homes now being ransacked by Kazdruk helots.
The hunched, gray skinned demonic soldiers were under Lillium’s command now, one hundred and fifty of them. A gift from her mistress to do her bidding. One of the creatures moved up to her, bright yellow eyes peering out from under a thick hairless brow, boney spikes running down the length of his jaw from behind his short pointed ears. Dark gray hair ran down to his shoulders, unkempt and greasy, and glancing downwards, Lillium noted the erection pushing at the loincloth hanging from his dark steel armour.
“They took much of value. There is little left for pillage,” the helot growled in his deep voice.
Before Lillium could respond, Yannifer grasped the whip that was curled around her waist, and struck the helot harshly across the face, splitting his flesh and making him stumble backwards.
“You will use the proper respect when addressing our mistress,” the Elf snarled, venom dripping from her words as she struck again, sending the helot falling backwards to the ground, arm raised to try and protect his face, only earning lashes across his forearm instead.
Lillium watched without emotion as her soldier was flogged, instead letting her hand slide up over the curve of her slave’s ass as she punished the soldier, fingers moving from leather to skin with the motion. A shiver of delight slid up Yannifer’s spine at her mistress’s touch, and she whipped harder, making the helot scream out in pain. Others were watching from the empty doorways, shaking their heads slowly.
Finally Yannifer ceased, and slowly wrapped her whip around her waist once again, and Lillium smiled. She had told her before they left Thorlgruz that the elf would not feel the pleasure of her mistress without hurting at least one person a day. Yannifer now searched out for any lapse in discipline to punish, to get her reward.
Aeltha eagerly awaited to see how long until inflicting pain became Yannifer’s reward instead of the sex, and had demanded Lillium record the elf’s descent into sadism.
“Take what you will, and set up camp. I need twenty volunteers to come with me to the castle,” Lillium shouted loudly, ignoring the injured helot near her feet who dragged himself away whimpering. On the horizon lightning flashed across the sky and the gathered dark clouds crept forward upon the wind. The rumble of distant thunder rolled over the town and the gathered company of demonic soldiers.
She watched those around her pondering the order, talking quietly amongst themselves. She sensed confusion, and fear; she had never asked for volunteers before. After just a few moments, twenty helots stepped forward, no more and no less, lest they suffer Yannifer’s wrath for disobeying. The mail hanging off their shoulders rattled slightly with their movements, and Lillium looked them over with the barest of smirks.
“Sergeant Lorth. Make sure the company is prepared to march at dawn, you have free reign of whatever remains in this shithole,” Lillium commanded, and turned on her heel, beckoning for her twenty volunteers and Yannifer to follow her.
Pulling their packs back on, and resting their spears over their shoulders, they all marched the sloped road through the town, up towards the castle. Lillium looked over the buildings that they passed by, and felt nothing within her heart. Despite the fact that she had grown up in this town, had been raised with her sister in the house they were just passing, a broken lamp smashed open on the front porch, she felt no stirrings of nostalgia. Her memories held no light or happiness.
A small frown creased her brow as she pondered that for a moment, then shrugged. The past was where it belonged; behind her. She was something else entirely now, her mistress had seen to that, had shown her the lies of the Coalition, and the vile hypocrisy of the Elves.
The march continued on towards the castle, and Lillium saw it as a conqueror, not a returning hero. She felt rain fall over her from the sky, rolling over her skin and glinting on her armour. Her world had truly changed, and she liked the change.
The sound of the iron hammer smashing down upon red hot steel rang through the enclosed back room of the Innisgar blacksmith as Ian worked away at another short sword for the local militia. With the Kazdruk forces encroaching ever closer, they were happy for the extra steel.
As sweat ran down his face and under the thick leather apron draped over his shoulders to fall over his chest. Memories of the town nestled beneath Castle Volgras ran across his mind. The happiness of better times, before the Kazdruk had arisen and landed upon the beaches and started marching outwards, further inland. Corrupting, torturing, killing all along the way, leaving twisted ruins in their wake, and shattered souls.
Letting out a long sigh as he hammered the sword into shape, Ian thought of the battle of the Atzgol plains. Where good King Thorlan and all his army were slaughtered. At least, he hoped they were slaughtered; he found it too painful to consider that they were not dead but instead ravaged and tortured by the demons. It left the clan in shatters, and they had fled their home, leaving Queen Jella behind, who in her grief refused to believe her husband would not return home to her.
And brave Lillium, marching near the head of the army, not far behind the king, sword at her hip, the hunger for battle in her eyes as she rode away to war once more. A veteran of bloodshed, and a lover of great passion. Ian smiled as he thought of her returning from battle, slipping into the blacksmith late in the night when all others were fast asleep. How she slipped from her armour, and pushed him against the wall, taking him inside her, her lips exploring his flesh.
Plunging the red hot steel into the trough of water, steam hissing upwards and coiling around the beams of the ceiling before pouring out through the small high upon the walls into the night air, Ian hung his head low. He had taken Kira, his lover’s sister, and now prayed that Lillium was one of those laying dead upon the battlefield, ones bleaching beneath the sun.
“I am sorry,” he whispered into the still air.
Lifting the sword from the trough, he inspected the blade, watching droplets of water roll down the steel. As he watched the water, he felt fatigue finally settling into his muscles, and he set the sword aside. As he doused the flames of the furnace letting him hear the falling rain that pelted the earth outside, he heard soft footsteps outside, giving him just enough time to turn as the door swung open.
“She’s gone, isn’t she?” asked the slim woman standing in the open doorway, water dripping from the cloak pulled firmly against her shivering form.
“Kira left to ensure our future, Rania,” Ian said gently. He knew why the poor woman could not sleep anymore; her husband Julius had left with the army. She had loved him deeply, and Ian saw the pain in her eyes, and had heard her whispered prayers when she thought no one was listening. The same conflicted prayers that Kira and even Ian himself said into the dark of the night. Was Julius given a quick death, or was he enslaved and tortured?
“That’s what Julius said,” Rania said quietly, lowering her head and turning, slipping back out into the rain, leaving Ian alone with his worries.
“Gods above Kira, be safe,” he said, tilting his head up to speak unto the heavens.
Hiking northwards along a well worn road, Kira hugged her cloak tight around her, more to cut away the wind, for at this point the rain had soaked through the fabric. The grand trade city of Driftafay, the beacon of culture and trade and politics for all the Coalition was still a few days travel, and getting through this forest was the quickest way.
Were time not against her, Kira would have skirted it, for tales of bandits and ghosts were told above a mug of ale in all the surrounding villages, including her own home of Volgras. Her old home anyway. Now here she was, pushing through where she had never dared tread before, knowing there was more truth to those tales than simple fear, looking for a new home.
Her ears twitched, the fur brushing the side of her head, as she heard something rustling in the leaves, and the stretching of a bow. She sniffed at the air, and could smell the rank sweat of men who had been living in the woods for too long with no opportunity to bathe. The hint of well oiled steel and old worn leather. The smell of beer on more than one of her stalker’s breath.
“I know you’re there,” she called out into the woods, and was rewarded with two men stepping out from the bushes onto the road. She could smell three more still hidden, could hear their slight movements.
“And yet you still approach. Alone. Armed true, but there’s only one of you, and two of us,” the man said, toying with a long dagger, his friend idly tapping an axe against the side of his leg.
“Five,” Kira said flatly, and the man rose an eyebrow.
“Impressive. Doesn’t mean your getting out of here without paying us. Flesh, blood, or coin,” he said with a shrug.
“Sorry darling. We’ve got needs as well,” the second man said, lifting his axe, and resting it over his shoulder. A smirk spread across his features as he started making his way forward, thumb resting in the waistband of his pants. The first man, toying with a short sword, stayed where he was. He frowned as he watched his partner move and looked over his shoulder.
“Typical. You’ll be the first to die,” Kira said, sliding her blade from its scabbard and starting to walk forward. The steel glimmered faintly as it moved, and the man’s smile vanished as the woman rushed towards him.
His axe had hardly left his shoulder to get ready to swing when Kira leapt into the air, and jammed her sword forward. The steel point plunged into the man’s chest, piercing his heart and lung, and sending him down to his knees drowning in his own blood.
Ears picking up the twang of a bowstring, Kira rolled to the side, leaving her sword buried in the man’s chest, but grasping his axe as she moved across the ground. The arrow landed in the dirt where she had been just a second before, quivering in the earth.
Rising to her feet, Kira swung the axe over her head and let her fingers uncurl from the shaft, sending it flying into the trees from where she had heard the sound, from where she could smell the sweat of a man. A wet crunch sounded from behind the branches, and a body fell from its concealment, smashing hard into the ground, spraying blood across the ground.
Moving quickly to her first kill Kira pulled the sword free, but paused when she started to hear applause. Turning her head, she saw the first man clapping his hands together, sword sheathed at his hip. With her eyes darting to where she knew the others were hiding, Kira pointed her sword at the bandit.
“Oh there’s no need for that I think. You’ve impressed me, once again. And though one of us will kill you, I just don’t feel like risking my life on the change I’m wrong. So, take what you will from his body, and we’ll take you through the forest. It’ll keep the rest of the boys from jumping down on you,” the man said.
Kira stared hard at the man, wondering what angle he was trying to pull. She sniffed the ear, and smirked. Fear, oh this man was terrified of her.
“Deal,” she said with a grin.
Queen Jella’s handmaidens screamed in terror as her guards were butchered by the Helot soldiers charging into the throne room. They reeled against the back wall, trying to keep themselves as small and hidden as possible, while their lady, the queen herself, sat without flinching upon her throne while black steel hacked through armour and into flesh and bone.
As the guards fell to the ground, blood pooling around their bodies, the Helots all grinned at the queen’s beauty, wanting to tear silk from flesh, and plunge themselves within her.
“Hold!” Lillium shouted as she entered the room.
The Helots grunted their displeasure at the order, but pulled back and formed two lines leading towards the throne. Even the handmaidens had stopped screaming, though Lillium could still hear their whimpers as she stepped over a corpse, her heeled boot tracking blood with her movements down towards the queen.
Jella’s face turned from stoic determination to shock when she saw the succubus strolling towards her. Lillium smirked, then glanced at the two hand maidens.
“I have no need of them. Do what you will. This castle is yours to loot,” she told her troops, who all snorted and grinned, tusk like teeth poking out into the air as they scrambled forward.
The two women screamed again as they were dragged from the room, long shreds of their clothing torn away and left in their wake. Lillium’s eyes moved from the doorway where the last of the Helots had vanished, and glanced back to where Yannifer stood with crossed arms.
“Lil… Lillium? What-,” Jella tried to speak, but the succubus quickly backhanded her, the edge of her gauntlet splitting her cheek open and spattering blood across the arm rest of the throne. Now the queen recoiled, pulling back against the throne, staring upwards in fear.
“I once thought you a strong and noble queen. But you are meek, and cowardly, like all other royals. Letting Elves track all over us, feeding us to what you said were our enemies. But, the demons are not, as your hand maidens will soon discover,” Lillium growled, and licked her lips, and Yannifer chuckled softly while her mistress slowly pulled her blade free.
“Lillium, what happened to you… what you doing?” Jella whimpered as the sword raised up above her.
The succubus grinned. “Revenge,” was all she said, before the sword came down onto the neck of Lillium’s former queen. Skin easily split open before its descent, and blood sprayed outwards until steel sliced through muscle and crashed through spine, and came out the other side.
Jella’s head rolled off her shoulders, smearing sticky crimson down her beautiful blue gown, and off the edge of the throne. It bounced once off the stone floor with a wet smack before coming to a stop against Lillium’s boot. Reaching down, the succubus grasped the severed head by long silken hair, stuck together in strands by her own blood.
As she lifted, the small crown of her position fell from Jella’s head and rattled on the floor. Lillium turned and began to stalk towards a set of double doors that would open to a balcony overlooking the village below. She vaguely remembered standing out there before with the queen, telling her how she would keep her husband safe.
Before she learned what a coward and traitor to humanity he had truly been.
“Carve out her heart Yannifer. I would feast well tonight,” Lillium said over her shoulder before she pushed the large doors open.
Rain coursed down over her form, running over her skin, under her armour. A bolt of lightning flashed across the sky as the succubus moved to the edge of the balcony, where long spikes poked upwards from the stone, from times long past when the kings had planted the heads of their enemies here. Jella and Thorlan had been thinking of removing them, to dispel the history of such barbarity.
Jamming Jella’s head down upon one of the spikes, Lillium grinned, and looked down over her old home, from the balcony her new home. Castle Volgras was due for some redecoration.