The sound of trebuchets letting loose their boulders, to sail into the city and smash through wall and roof, was scarcely heard. Almost drowned out by the crickets of the fields, uncaring for the corruption of the land. Staring to the north west, where any reinforcing armies would be coming from, the Helot sentry paid no attention to the siege. His only concern was to what may come, what he hoped would come. His cohort had not taken any slaves, their blades not tasted any blood. Instead they had marched away, out of sight, and now were hidden in the edge of the forest, amongst the trees and brush.
If the Elves or one of the human kingdoms came marching down that road, he would be there, with his brothers. To butcher them all.
Then his thoughts were sent into a torrent of chaos and confusion as a foot harshly slammed into the back of his knee. Starting to fall to one knee, a hand clamped hard over his maw and nose, but no warning shout was to come out even if the hand were not there, for the same instant a knife slammed into the side of his neck. Hot blood poured over his armour, before the blade cut outwards. The innards of his neck were severed, and death came for him quickly.
Kira let the body down slowly, balancing it upon her knee to prevent the armour from rattling as she set it down in the grass. The smell of freshly spilled blood filled her nostrils, and she felt a wild thrill running through her mind. A temptation to feast, but, these beings were corrupted, so she shoved that craving down. Not to think on it again.
Drenched in Kazdruk blood, the Wolfkin made her way into the camp, leaving two corpses on the perimeter. Dagger clutched firmly in hand she slunk through the shadows, scouting the tents hidden amongst the trees, counting the enemy, where they were positioned. There was only so much she could do before the bodies were discovered, and she was but one person. She could not take on the entire group herself.
It was only a few moments before she found what she was looking for, and not until she had nearly fallen into it. A small pit dug into the ground, a tarp draped over top and covered in brush and leaves to help conceal it. Their food supplies for however long they planned to be out here. With no visible commander’s tent, she knew that this would be the next best way to strike against them.
Without a sound Kira slipped beneath the tarp, pulling a vial from a pouch on her belt as she moved. She moved to the first crate, scrunching up her face as she pulled it open, the foul odor from within wafting over her. Whatever meat these guys were eating, it was getting much too ripe to be healthy for anything save Kazdruk foot soldiers. Popping the lid off the vial of poison, Kira suddenly froze when she heard footsteps just behind her.
Heart pounding in her chest, she gripped her knife tighter, not daring to move, scarcely daring to breathe as she heard someone moving past the pit she had hidden herself in. The slight rattle of armour told her it was another Helot.
Then he was gone, vanished into the night, but it may be relief for one of the sentries she killed; she was quickly running out of time. Upending the vial, she poured its contents over the meat within the crate, and carefully closed it back up, spending precious moments making it look as if it had not been tampered with.
Then she slid out of the pit on her belly, not daring to release her knife. She began to slide through the darkness again, darting past tents, thankful for the lack of torches but aware any helots not slumbering would be used to seeing in the dark at this point. She could not trust in the shadows entirely.
As she began to slide past a tent, the front flap opened. Snores from within slid out into the night air, but a very wakeful soldier, adjusting the strap of his helmet, slipped outside, his shield on his back, spear firm in hand.
Spinning on her heel she hooked her arm around his neck before he even fully registered her presence. The blade bit hard into the side of his neck, before sliding all the way across, opening it wide. A well placed kick to the knee took away his last moments of freedom, as he spent his dying moments falling to the ground, instinctively trying to break his fall, instead of fighting back.
“Tovk. What’s happening out there?” came a voice from within, much more alert than Kira wanted. Leaving the bleeding helot in the ground, she took off, as fast as she could without making any sound.
“Intruder,” she heard shouted from behind her, but she was already at the perimeter. A sentry was turning to see what the commotion was when Kira burst out from a bush. There was a look of surprise in the Kazdruk soldier’s face, but even so he tried to get his spear down. Kira was simply too fast, too savage, swiping his spear aside, and biting down hard over his throat. Her blade plunged upwards, into his armpit, where no armour protected, and more blood coursed over her hands as her teeth sunk in. Deeper, deeper, tainted blood flooding her mouth, until she yanked her head away with a growl. A chunk of meat tore away, and the Helot grasped at his throat, grasping for his sword, but life fled much too quickly.
A sentry hearing the commotion came storming over, but fell with a crossbow bolt in his eye. Thaden’s shadowy figure slipped into the trees once more.
Spitting the flesh trapped between her teeth to the ground, Kira slipped away, and left the camp in chaos, a few more crossbow bolts flashing through the darkness to find the flesh of their enemies.
Pain flared through her fist when she slammed it into the table, but Sarya ignored it.
“No! We cannot sit idle.” She said firmly to the gathered war council. Many stared at her, surprise plain in their eyes.
“My lady, centurion, we do not have the forces to defeat the Kazdruk hordes. We should sit back, await reinforcements,” one of the gathered councillors said, struggling to think of Sarya’s title. She ignored the stumble, her own title wasn’t important; she wouldn’t be in power long enough.
“Truly? Reinforcements? From who? After the massacre that happened in these streets no one is coming to help us. You really think not a single person escaped that? No, we are on our own. Besides, it is just Lillium out there, with her small band. Not the hordes that have been pounding the ocean shores,” Sarya said carefully.
“How can you know this?” Lady Viviane Stark said with narrowed eyes, suspicion clear in her words. Two other Knights of Oan stood just behind her. Hearing her suspicion, their hands drifted downwards towards their swords. Typical over zealous bastards, the lot of them.
“Scouts. Not all of us can rely on mere faith to win the day,” Sarya said, and Viviane narrowed her eyes.
“What is your plan then, to make up for this lack of faith?”
“I never said lack of faith Lady Viviane, I merely said more than. Cut the head off the snake, an old adage that works against the Kazdruk well. Their troops are barbaric, bloodthirsty, eager to rape. We kill Lillium, and we can lure her soldiers to our walls easily enough, where our archers can pick them off,” Sarya said.
“Easier said than done,” the councillor that had spoken up before had to hear his voice again.
“Lillium is a warrior. She will be on the front lines. My plan is rather simple, we march our soldiers out to meet her, focusing on the centre of the line, I push forward, and kill her myself. To give us some breathing room, that’s where the knights come in. If Lillium knows anything of your tactics, she will be ready for a full charge, not flanking attacks. Get them thinking about their flanks, and we have the centre to ourselves,” Sarya said with flashing eyes and a vicious grin.
There were some whispers, and officers began to argue over who would get which spot. But Sarya knew her plan would unfold, and her spatha would taste Lillium’s blood before the sun set on the morrow.
Lady Viviane Stark done by my lovely friend Stark
Lounging amidst violet, satin pillows, Lillium groaned softly, as a slave kneeled between her legs, gently licking at her thighs, tasting the juices that had rolled down the succubus’s flesh through her early dawn tryst. The woman wore a collar around her pretty neck, and bore markings of Morkate on the back of her shoulder, marking her place as a whore.
A very skilled whore, Lillium thought to herself as her claws trailed through the woman’s silky hair. The succubus let out another low groan, her back arching, pushing bared breasts into the air. It was tempting to lay in here awhile longer, perhaps take this woman again. She was proving most enjoyable.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the entrance of her tent flapping open, Lorth walking in, in full battle order. He did not avert his eyes from the naked women before him, but nor did he stare dumbly. Even as Lillium slowly ceased to writhe beneath the whore’s skilled tongue, Lorth smashed a fist to his chest in salute.
“Baroness. The defenders of Driftafay are sallying forth. They mean to fight us with honour,” the captain reported.
With a press of claws until fine ruby droplets formed upon the whore’s scalp, Lillium ceased her pleasure.
“Well, we best not disappoint them shall we. Send a runner to Bazk, and we will sow these fields with corpses.”
Sunlight brushed over the Helot’s face as he made his way quietly through the brush, ducking branches and skirting bushes. They could not see him from the walls, could not warn their allies on the fields of the flank attack to come. The warrior felt his mouth watering for the coming battle and the blood that would be shed.
The crossbow bolt that hissed from the foliage smashed his skull to pieces, and he slumped to the ground without a further sound. Brain spilled from the ruins of his head with chips of bone amidst the gray chunks.
As Kira and Thaden slipped out from the shadows of leaves of the early morning, looking down upon the corpse they just made, Thaden was quick to step forward, pulling his bolt from the mess of gore, flicking the tip in an attempt to remove much of the gunk. Kira let her eyes peer out from the foliage, stepping into thickets and brush, to see the city.
“They’re marching out,” she whispered, looking back to her companion.
Kira nodded, and the two looked down at the corpse by their feet. Doubtlessly a runner from Lillium’s main encampment.
“Seems our plans have moved up some,” the wolfkin whispered. Without further hesitation, the two stole back into the shadows, to strike at the camp they had poisoned in the night.
The morning sun was climbing higher into the sky, its heat beating down upon the soldiers marching away from the safety of their walls. Sweat ran down the backs of their necks and their faces beneath the steel brims of their helmets. Dampening tunics stuck to their backs beneath their chainmail hauberks, and their skin was starting to itch.
Not one of them whined, too concerned with what lay ahead of them, beyond the rims of their rounded shields and the points of their spears. The lines of Helot soldiers, utterly inhuman beneath their dark steel plates, wicked swords in one hand, square shields with jagged bottoms and right rims in the other. In the centre of that beastly line stood the contrast. The agonizingly beautiful succubus, raven hair fluttering about her face; the woman they were here to kill.
Sarya gripped her spatha tight, her own Gondulin shield strapped firmly. The red painted steel, with its black dragon standing proud amidst the more ramshackle equipment of those she led. It felt good to be back on a battlefield, though strange that it was not her disciplined soldiers beside her.
Off to the side, hooves thundered as the heavily armoured Knights of Oan moved into a flanking position, white banners streaming from their lances held upright. Lillium glanced towards them, but did nothing.
“She has another force in reserve… she was ready to flank herself,” Sarya muttered, feeling her gut clench. Biting her lip she glanced towards the knights. If it was true they could well be massacred, but if they pulled back now, Lillium would continue to pound Driftafay into ruin.
Lifting up her sword, Sarya quickly let it drop, pointing the tip of her blade towards the enemy line, letting out a loud shout that ripped from her throat as she did. The answering call was deafening. Spears lowered, and nearly a thousand soldiers ran forward. To the side, lances lowered and spurs pressed harshly into the armoured flanks of warhorses. Dust burst upwards into the air, as the forces of Driftafay charged forward the final gap towards their enemies, shouts swirling amongst each other in a cacophony of fury.
The two lines of infantry met in a crash of steel and blood. Many shouts turned to screams, and Helots roared out their bloodlust as combat finally came upon them. Driftafay soldiers pushed the thrust their spears, spilling the dark blood of their enemies, even as the Kazdruk foot soldiers lashed back, opening flesh and spraying crimson in great arcs from their blades. In the thick of it, two women moved with confidence and surety that only experience brings.
Sarya stayed at the head of her formation, not getting ahead of those around her, lashing out with shield and spatha with deadly purpose. Seconds dragged out into minutes as the two small armies fought, and Sarya could already feel the blood running over the hilt of her blade, streaming down her hands to the bracers tied firmly to her forearms. She could see Lillium, dancing with beautiful yet deadly grace, blood trailing behind her sword, spattering on her dark steel and pale flesh.
To the side, Helots screamed out in frustration as the Knight’s of Oan crashed into their lines, impaling the Kazdruk warriors upon their long lances, before riding off again, some with broken lances, making them unsheathe their swords.
“Lillium!” Sarya shouted above the din of combat, smashing the bottom edge of her shield into a Helot’s neck. The creature scarcely had time to choke before the spatha lunged forward, slipping under its arm and into the small hollow beneath, directly through to heart and lungs. Blood frothed at its mouth for a split moment before it collapsed at her feet.
The succubus turned to stare at Sarya, holding a soldier by his neck. The man squirmed as Lillium’s thumb pressed into the front of his throat, blood bubbling around the claw that sank into his flesh. When he dropped dead, Sarya did not spare him a glance. He was gone, there were others still living she could save.
“You’re mine bitch,” the centurion roared, finally breaking free of the line, a soldier quickly taking her place as she pushed along the clashing warriors around her, shield and sword never still as she moved to meet the succubus.
Lillium grinned, tongue rolling across her lips, smearing blood across them, even as it ran down all over her form. Even from here, Sarya saw the fangs hiding behind those perfect lips. There was a brief flutter of fear within her gut as she recognized something no one else had said about the succubus.
Lillium dragged her line of death towards Sarya, that confident grin never faltering as she moved to meet the centurion.
Amidst corpses and severed limbs, the two commanders finally clashed, their swords ringing against one another as conqueror found defender.
Sweat rolled under her helmet, yet Viviane ignored it as she charged with her brothers into the Helots a second time. She heard bones and steel crunching beneath hooves, even as she felt the point of her lance slam into one of the Helot’s chests, punching through the breastplate and impaling it upon the long staff.
With a loud crack, the lance snapped in two, leaving Viviane with a much shorter weapon tipped with ragged splinters. Beside her, Sir Bran was dragged from his saddle by a wicked scythe. The steel scraped against his armour but did not penetrate. Not that it helped him when he landed on the ground.
Whirling away from the clashing mass, Viviane glanced over her shoulder, and wished she hadn’t. A heavy axe was brought down on Sir Bran’s face, crushing bone hidden behind his helmet, blood spurting out his visor.
Gritting her teeth, Viviane tossed her ruined lance away, and reached down to draw her sword. She could not hear the rasp of steel against leather as it came free, but the familiar weight in her fist was comforting. An old friend in the fight against evil.
The remaining knights turned again a short distance from the battle. Viviane found herself at the head of the wedge, and holding her blade forward, pointing the tip at the enemy, she let her voice raise in a shout with those she rode with.
She didn’t truly see the dark shapes that flickered outwards, but she certainly recognized the crossbow bolts as three knights fell from their horses riddled with them. They dragged their horses to the ground under their heavy weight, and another knight stumbled as his horse’s hooves caught upon the writhing beasts struggling to rise. Sir Joran was flung into the Helots waiting for them this time with a scream. Blades and heavy feet descended upon him, and it did not take too long for them to find a weak spot to silence his shouts of righteous fury.
Viviane’s though still rang loudly. Her blade took half the skull from a Helot as she rammed through their throng. Already she was starting to pull back. There were too many to stay and fight. The knights were far too outnumbered. Another fell as they retreated, his mount’s head lopped off with a vicious strike from a two handed sword that left only a bleeding stump and the glimmer of spine in its wake. The next strike took his own head.
Now, at a safe distance again, Viviane looked upon her surviving brothers. There were only the three of them left; herself, Sir Morris, and Sir Duncan. Morris was clutching at his side, blood seeping through gauntleted fingers. A crossbow bolt had found its mark on him as well. When he saw her looking he merely nodded.
“I’ll live,” were the only words to slip out. Viviane nodded and looked back at the battle.
Sarya, and the succubus were fighting, each of them perfect in their forms. Sword met shield, spatha met bracer, parries and dodges for both blood soaked fighters. A ring had started to form around them, none of the other fighters wanting to incur the wrath of the champion of their enemy. The battle though continued to rage around them. Blood soaked the grass, and corpses littered the ground, forcing those on either side to step over friends and comrades that they may add the next enemy to the pile.
Human wounded writhed in pain on the ground, clutching at the stump where an arm or leg may have been, or at their torn throats, trying in vain to keep that precious blood within them, or a handful even clutching at their guts, trying to prevent them from spilling out any further.
The Helots though fought on despite their wounds. Viviane saw one swinging wildly without a weapon, the hand that had gripped it taken off below the elbow. Its demonic ichor spewing from severed flesh it punched and thrashed until spears stabbed it in the chest.
Viviane turned again to look at her own comrades, to prepare them for one last charge into the fray, to buy some time for Sarya, when she saw the charging band of Helots. Hundreds of them sprinting across the field. Spears and swords glinted in the sunlight.
“We cannot win this. A sacrifice in this battle will be in vain.” Sir Morris said glumly, looking towards the charging foe. Viviane looked back to the battle, then to the flanking Kazdruk warriors.
“Go. Back to the city, I’ll warn Sarya, we need to pull back now, before they get here,” she said.
With short nods the other two knights turned their horses towards Driftafay, while Viviane rode hard back to the battle.
Watching them run towards the clash on the fields, Kira clutched her fists. There hadn’t been enough time to stop the Helots, and she and Thadon were not enough to stop them. They had needed more soldiers, and the refugees waiting in the thick of the woods were in no condition to fight.
After killing the runner, she and Thadon had returned to the camp. Darting in to kill two sentries, she quickly had ran back into the woods, leading a chase while she and her companion picked off the enemy with sword, claw, fang, and crossbow. A trail of corpses was strung beneath the canopy now, but even after a few dozen lay dead on the forest floor, their blood feeding the land they had sought to ravage, a runner Kira had missed came running back to the encampment.
After that, they forgot all about the wolfkin, quickly packing up and charging off towards the battle.
Now Kira watched, her claws digging into a nearby tree as they charged the soldiers of Driftafay to sway the tide of battle.
Lillium’s sword flicked across Sarya’s bicep, parting the flesh and drawing a line of deep crimson, but the Centurion ignored the pain, the injured shield arm flicking the succubus’s blade out wide, and coming in low with a slash. Lillium’s bracer deflected easily, but it made the opening Sarya was hoping for.
A quick lash of her helmeted head crashed into Lillium’s face. She felt the cartilage snap, and felt a gush of blood over her face. The succubus surprised her though with a soft moan. So the bitch was a masochist.
With her own blood smeared over her lower face, Lillium kicked out. The sharp heel of her boot scratched Sarya’s armour, while the flat base pushed her back, making her stumble slightly. She quickly regained her bearings, blocking a vicious overhead chop with her shield before slashing at the pale exposed midsection before her.
She scored a deep hit, earning another groan that sent tingles down her spine despite herself. Worse though, was watching the skin reknit, healing before any true damage sunk in. Sarya let out a roar of anger and frustration, coming in with a whirlwind of blade strikes. Lillium blocked each one perfectly, her movements with the sword as close to perfect as Sarya had even seen.
She finished her wild attack with a shield bash, but Lillium stepped to the side, and pulled hard on the rim, sending Sarya past her. The centurion immediately rolled forward, knowing what was following, but felt the bite of Kazdruk steel in her thigh regardless. She howled in pain, but pushed it back into her mind as she rose once more to her feet to face her enemy.
“Helot reinforcements. We need to retreat!” Viviane’s call rang through the din of battle.
“Hold your ground! Hold!” Sarya yelled, moving fast despite the slight limp in each step. The flanking party, later than she expected, but still here. And Lillium still lived. This had to end fast.
The two warriors met again, swords crashing against one another as each tried to find the killing blow, but each finding the other a match. Around her, Driftafay troops were wavering, caught between utter fear, and the need to see this done. Some were already running, fleeing back to the city to let their comrades be cut down. Sarya couldn’t pay them any heed though.
The succubus’s sword arcing down towards her shoulder, Sarya gritted her teeth, and slammed the lower rim of her shield at an angle. The blade rocked against the plates over her shoulder, sending a dull pain throbbing into her flesh, but the succubus let out a shout of surprise as she lost her balance. A sickening crunch sounding from her knee that did not earn a groan.
Resisting the urge to say something witty, Sarya followed through with a vicious stab. The point of her sword split open the soft tender flesh of Lillium’s partially exposed breast, scraping against the edge of the steel cupping her breast. Blood gushed outwards from the wound as the spatha’s tip broke through the protective ribs hiding behind such succulent flesh.
Lillium’s red eyes went wide, as she looked down at the sword lodged in her heart. She coughed, blood spattered over Sarya’s helmet. It wasn’t enough though, Sarya knew it. She’d killed a few vampires in her time. With a kick to Lillium’s gut, she dislodged her sword, blood spraying from the wound. The vampiric succubus fell to the ground, gasping in agony, her strength fleeing.
One more strike, and it would be over.
Then arms grabbed her, pulling her back to her lines.
“No, no!” she yelled as Helots ran to save their baroness. The soldiers of Driftafay dragged Sarya away from the conflict, while Helots carried their commander off the field.
“They’re retreating, we’ve won. You got her,” someone shouted in Sarya’s ear.
But Lillium still lived, and the fact that the Helots’ bloodlust had been calmed by her fall rather than stoked, made her fear the woman’s power all the more. She stared at the backs of the retreating Helots, Lillium carried like a goddess off the field of battle, while she was dragged.
“This is far from over.”
Standing atop the walls and watching the battle, Isilda’s hands hadn’t left her mouth, scrunched up with nervousness as she watched hundreds upon hundreds of men die. Their screams were distant, the ring of steel carrying on the wind, and she couldn’t see Sarya. Her stomach clenched, and she wasn’t able to eat, or drink.
Another whore stood beside her, gently rubbing her arm, humming softly to try and soothe her.
She didn’t know how long she had been standing there, amongst countless others from the city watching as their fate was decided. When it was finally ended, both armies simply, walking away from the other, Isilda didn’t know what to think. It was strange to see them simply break away, leaving a line of corpses that looked like a dark smear on the grass at this distance.
“She’s coming back dear. Come on, the new girl wants to tell us something back at the brothel. Let’s get you cleaned up for when Sarya comes calling,” her friend said, and Isilda offered a weak smile.
Sarya would be by soon, she would. And maybe listening to this girl, one of the refugees from outside the city, would help her calm down.