The caravan, if it could be called a caravan, lumbered along slowly from an unnamed beach on the coast of DelHelshan, just west of the plains of Atzgol. A small squad of helots, armoured and carrying spears marched on either end of a wagon filled with grim faced slaves who had all but forgotten what freedom tasted like. Beneath the arching bows of forest trees they clambered along towards Innisgar.
At the head of the column, a pair of Kazdruk demonesses lead the march, cloven feet kicking up the dust of what would be an insult to roads to call it such. The tallest rippled with muscle, leather garments scarcely hiding her flesh, or the heavy cock swinging between her legs. She turned her head to glance towards her companion, heavy black braids of hair swinging with the movement.
“The corruption is slow spreading up here,” she muttered, and the other grunted, walking to a tree and plucking a leaf from a branch with delicate fingers curled with sorceress tattoos. Her soft hair swayed about her shoulders in the breeze, drifting down to the skirts she wore that fluttered around her lean legs.
“No, there is something wrong with the taint here Karthelza,” the sorceress muttered, tongue flicking across the plant before her.
“Vibrant, full of life, yet dark. Someone is slowly pulsing against the Kazdruk,” she continued, dropping the leaf and turning to the warrior, who was slowly running a thumb along the blade of a long hafted axe.
Karthelza’s nostrils suddenly flared, an unfamiliar scent catching on the breeze. She held her axe high, the troop of helots ceasing their march. Without the creaking wheels of the slave wagon or the stomping feet of marching soldiers, an uneasy silence settled over the forest. The rustling of leaves on the breeze was the only sound to break the eerie quiet. No birds sang, no insects chirped. Everything felt wrong.
The first volley of arrows burst out from the foliage. Black shafts tipped with wicked barbed heads, and fletched with raven feathers. They whistled out the shadows, striking through armour and sinking deep into flesh.
“Ambush!” Karthelza yelled out, snapping her soldiers from their surprise. She glanced to the sorceress, expecting her to be incanting a spell, but found a half dozen arrows buried in her. Two in her throat, three scattered across her torso, and one through her eye, deep enough that it had punched out the back of her skull dripping chunky blood. The sorceress wavered a moment, blood spilling from her lips, and slumped to the ground. The second volley tore into the caravan.
The black shafted arrows punched into Helots as they scrambled into some kind of defensive formation. They fell to the ground, abandoned by their comrades who finally got their shields up. Inside the cage, slaves screamed, or sobbed, and some pressed themselves against the bars to meet a quick end. The others used the bodies of dead friends, family, and new acquaintances of the shackle as barricades against the onslaught.
“Filthy humans. Kneel, and I may show a quick death,” Karthelza yelled to the forest, snapping the shaft of an arrow buried in her calf. She ignored the burning pain and the thin trail of blood running down to her hoof.
She moved towards the defensive line, staying behind the shields of her helots. She had heard the rumours of a gang of humans ambushing and raiding Kazdruk war parties, but Karthelza could not believe that Lillium was letting them range so close to her lands. The succubus was weak.
For a moment there was silence again save for the groans of some wounded slaves and helots. Karthelza looked to the trees, over her shoulders. Her hand shot out, grasping the head of a wounded female slave and snapped her neck. Her pitiful moans stilled instantly, and the others all scrambled to stifle the others.
The demoness heard it then; the soft scrape of steel sliding from leather scabbards. They were going to charge. A grin curled her lips, her cock growing thick and upright between her legs.
The sudden warcry startled the helots as the enemy burst out from the foliage, and made Karthelza blink. Helots were storming towards them, in a tight formation of overlapping shields. Karthelza saw her own line looking amongst each other, confused. It was enough for the traitors as the two shield walls crashed into each other.
Steel scraped against steel, and warcries turned to bellows of agony. Blades hammered at armour and slid into flesh. Shield cracked bone and rang out in a sudden cacophony of violence. Karthelza let out a roar of anger and leapt bodily over the line of her own troops. Her heavy two handed axe swung amongst them all; she could trust no one. Bodies were broken, armour snapped, limbs severed around her. Blood sprayed her exposed skin, and then she was swinging at nothing.
As suddenly as it began it was over. Karthelza’s own troops had backed away, forming another shield wall on the other side of the carriage cage, and the traitors were keeping a careful distance. Oddly enough, Karthelza did not see fear in the eyes of those staring at her from within their helmets.
One last one emerged from the forest, a black sash across his chest, a scar marring his forehead. Karthelza’s shield wall slowly dissolved into kneeling helots at the sight of this one warrior. Or was it the sash. The Kazdruk snarled with a grin, turning to face him, her cock throbbing.
“Perhaps you are a worthy opponent then. But I doubt it, helot scum.”
His blade came free, and he stepped into a circle formed of shields by the helots on both sides of the battle, penning both within.
“I am Lorth, and I will be the one to beat you… but fear not, for I will not kill you,” he said, gruesome mouth twisted in a mockery of a grin.
Karthelza cackled, and dove inwards, battleaxe swinging down toward’s Lorth’s chest. The helot jumped backwards, and suddenly two white hot points of pain flared in the back of Karthelza’s calves. Looking down she saw the point of a spear driving out through each of her shins and into the blood soaked dirt.
She twisted to face these two who would dare interrupt her glory, but they only twisted the poles of their weapons, forcing the demoness to her knees and causing more pain from the tearing metal of their spears.
All feeling fled the flesh beneath her calves, blood pouring out from torn muscle and shattered bone.
With a loud roar of anger, she tried to lunge for Lorth, only to have more spears come forth, ramming into her arms, severing tendons and cracking bone. She screamed in true agony, before a rope was pulled around her throat. She felt a boot against her back and pull. The rough rope scraped the flesh of her neck raw and cutting off the flow of air to her lungs.
She tried to struggle, but beneath those twisting spears she could not summon the strength. Her lungs began to burn, and darkness welled in from the edge of her vision. She glared at Lorth, who grinned.
“This is the Kazdruk way. You taught me this,” he said, before even he faded from view.
Banners fluttered on the horizon, as the distant columns of marching troops slowly came into view. As night began to descend upon the land, the glow of their camp fires could be seen from the walls of Driftafay.
Before the soldiers standing watch on the wall, a true army was being arrayed before them. Not the small raiding band of Lillium’s helots. A fully equipped and financed army, unafraid to stand in the open, their armour and spears would gleam in the morning light as they came ever closer.
Sarya swore as she looked out from her balcony in the Evermar palace; the Elves had come. Much sooner than she had been hoping. She wasn’t sure she could win this fight, or even survive it. She turned, moving into her chambers, glancing once to the naked form of Isilda, sheets draped over her legs.
The whore let out a soft groan, as her eyes slowly opened, watching Sarya dress herself.
“What’s happening?” she asked, just as the Centurion pulled on her armour, propping herself on one hand, not bothering to conceal herself.
Sarya looked over at her again, and sighed.
“The Elves have come,” she said, tightening the straps of her lorica, that ancient symbol of Goldulin might, feeling the steel snug against her body. Standing, her leg began to throb with the dull ache from her wound. She grimaced, and Isilda tried to ignore it.
“You’ll beat them,” the whore said, crawling across the bed, sheets dragging off her legs as she lay near the end of the plush mattress, nipples just out of sight as her legs bent at the knee, crossing one over the other.
Slipping her belt over her hips, Sarya looked over at Isilda, one hand upon her scabbard.
“Not this time,” she said, as she pushed her spatha into its sheath, the hilt clacking against the metal rim.
Isilda rose from the bed smoothly, sheets trailing across the floor as she moved towards her lover, and in her own mind, owner. A sign of her grace, and the coin she cost. Pressing herself gently to the centurion, gasping as bare flesh pressed against cool steel, palm over Sarya’s unseen breast, Isilda kissed her lips softly. Rough hands slid over the whore’s hips, up her sides, as Sarya returned the kiss.
They broke it quietly, eyes closed.
“Then let’s run. Take me away from here. Make me your whore, and let’s live.”
Sarya shook her head sadly.
“And where would we run Isilda? North, to the Elves? South, to the Kazdruk? West? The nobles would turn us in to placate this collar of an alliance.”
She slowly pulled away from Isilda’s embrace, after kissing the top of her head. She started moving towards the doorway, the sight of a dead woman walking to her last stand. Before history painted her as nothing more than a crazed psychopath.
“To Volgras then.” Sarya stopped dead at the doorway, hand clutching at the frame, fingers digging into the wood as she slowly looked over her shoulder. Wrath burned in her eyes as she stared at Isilda.
“If you’re so determined to make a last stand and die with your sword in your hand. You might as well do it against Lillium. I may become a slave to her, but at least I’d be alive. I’m not so sure the Elves would be as kind to the whore of the woman who butchered a city full of them,” Isilda said firmly, staring at the Centurion as her fingers slowly released their grip on the door frame.
For a few moments there was only silence between them, as Sarya contemplated Isilda’s words. The thought of finally ending Lillium, of being reunited with her empress in the afterlife, of being free of the Elves. That’s what made up her mind.
“Pack light. Wear something good for travelling. We’ll leave tonight, at the latest,” Sarya said, finally turning and walking out the door. Hoping she would have today at least. If not, it would be a mad dash to escape.
When the door shut behind the centurion, Isilda felt her lips curl in a smile.
“Morkate hear me. I offer you this warrior to remold in your image. That she may strike down your enemies,” she said to the empty room.
“Tomorrow night then,” Kira said from beside the campfire, her eyes going to Viviane, and then to Thaden. Both nodded slowly as they looked down at the crude drawing of Volgras in the earth. Sticks and leaves marked locations for the refugee guerrillas that Kira had taken under her wing. Many of them had even shed Kazdruk blood at this point.
Yet Viviane remembered entering this hidden camp, shrouded by the thick trees of the forest. Hastily erected tents, dirty faces, hungry eyes. Some were already showing signs of malnourishment. The hunters could not keep up with the demands of the growing number that were brought to this place. And the Kazdruk war bands were ever at their heels. Having Lillium in Volgras, so deep into Coalition territory, made things ever more difficult for these downtrodden people.
“Tomorrow night. Lillium falls,” Viviane said, but Kira only frowned. The knight decided to ignore the expression.
“Just stick with the plan Viviane. It’s our best chance for success,” Kira said, getting to her feet, brushing dirt from her rump, and picking a stray twig from the fur of her tail.
“Get some sleep. We start moving at dawn. Trust me, it will be a long walk.” the Wolfkin said, before turning and moving to her tent.
Thaden tossed the knights still sitting around the fire a smirk, before following after the woman. Vivianne blushed when a few minutes later she heard the sounds of passionate love making, and forced her eyes to the camp fire.
“They need our help,” Duncan said, trying to make conversation to distract himself from the sounds of sex coming softly but steadily from the closed flaps of the tent.
“And we theirs,” Morris pitched in, the metal of his armour creaking as he shifted in place.
Viviane stood, and turned her back to the fire, looking out over the camp. The dotted campfires spilled little light beneath the canopy of the forest, illuminating few figures, and the fronts of some tents. Glowing red coals were nearly enveloped by nightfall, as people slid into their temporary homes to rest their heads for the evening. It left Viviane with only the memories of what she saw when she first arrived here.
The seemingly chaotic array of improvised tents, made from whatever these people had been able to scavenge or had carried with them when fleeing the Kazdruk. Linens, clothes, Sticks and leaves. Those who could fight stood guard as best they could, but the fear that the invaders would catch up with them kept the mood from rising much further than nervous contentment. Never mind all those that had to be left behind.
Viviane sighed, as she looked through the night. Kira’s love making had ended, and somewhere she could hear someone weeping. Her fingers tightened around the hilt of her blade until the knuckles had turned white.
“It doesn’t matter who’s helping who. We’re all in this together. Damn Sarya and her short sightedness. It’s only helping Lillium,” Viviane said bitterly.
“You know killing Lillium will not bring these people home right?” Morris said softly, tossing a stick onto the fire.
Shoulders slumping, fingers relaxing, Viviane looked back towards her comrade.
“No. But it is a start.”
White hot pain flared through her, making her utterly aware of each limb as consciousness slowly returned to her. Karthelza let out a roar of agony and anger, and felt a fist strike her in the back, directly in the spine. Pain flowed up her back, torn feet dragging uselessly along stone floors as two helots pulled her along behind them.
As her vision continued to swim, blurry images of hallways and tapestries passing her by, Karthelza struggled to gain some traction. The torn flesh of her calves and forearms prevented her from doing anything except slumping in the grip of her captors. Of these, traitors.
Pain flared through her knees as she was dropped at the foot of a bed. Grunting, she blinked a few times, everything slowly becoming clear once again. Laying on her back, wings carefully folded along the edges of the bed, was Lillium. Karthelza snorted.
Until a palm struck her cheek hard. Turning her head, a snarl on her face, Karthelza turned to take in the topless figure of Aela, runes painted across her breasts and face with glimmering blood. Crimson skirts flowed around her thighs. She returned the hateful glare.
“You dare strike me? You pitiful worm,” the Kazdruk warrior said, spitting on the floor, before the crack of a whip sounded behind her, the leather soon coiled around her head, yanking her back. Aela held up a glimmering knife, as Helots rammed their spears back into Karthelza’s wrists, pinning her to the floor.
She did not yell out this time. She would not give them the satisfaction. Instead, only let hate pour upon them all. Yuldasha would punish them this transgression.
Mia and Rania stepped forward, thin crimson black loin clothes hanging from their hips, their own bodies marked just as Aela’s was. They whispered softly, too quiet for Karthelza to make out anything. They held bowls, filled with oils that they began to gently rub across Karthelza’s skin.
“You have been chosen as sacrifice Kazdruk. To let our Harbinger arise once more,” Aela said, and when Karthelza tried to speak, the whip around her throat tightened. Yannifer was behind her, pulling firmly upon the long leash.
“Your blood will give rise to Morkate’s champion. With your death we will rise,” Aela said. Rania and Mia pulled back. The helots twisted their spears, and began to pull the demoness up onto the bed. The coiled whip prevented her from doing anything to the seemingly dead body beneath her.
Now hovering above the succubus beneath her, Karthelza stared down at this champion of Aeltha’s. Did the sorceress know how powerful this bitch’s will had become?
A sudden sensation across her throat, and the Kazdruk’s eyes widened in sudden realization as her blood began to pour from her neck. It spattered over the vampiric creature, seeping into her wound, into her parted lips.
“Rise Harbinger, our mistress and saviour,” Aela cried out, as she cut again.
All watched as Lillium’s heart began to pound, muscles reknitting themselves as bone stretched out between the snapped ribs, and fresh flesh soon closed over the Harbinger’s chest.
What have you created Aeltha? Karthelza thought to herself.
Her final sight before death claimed her firmly within its dark clutches, was Lillium’s glowing red eyes snapping open.