Shackles of Hate. Chapter 22: Waning Perches

The peaked ceiling of the hall loomed well above the sixty soldiers standing in tight formation. Their shields raised, swords resting upon the top rims and pointed towards the large double doors that was the entrance. Occasionally the walls of the Great Hall of Ridgeblade shook, dust and small chunks of stone and marble falling to clatter on the floor. More than once a soldier had to raise their shield to protect themselves.

The clash of steel, and the screams of the dying were muffled by the thick walls and doors of the hall. The final legion of the Goldulan Empire was being slaughtered outside by the invading Kazdruk horde. The Empress Nera stood before the two thrones in this great hall, her personal Praetorian bodyguards standing on either side of her. Both women resplendent in their deep purple cloaks and black armour.

Nera let her eyes sweep along the room, over these last soldiers ready to die in a last stand, over the tiered seats for the senators and politicians that helped advice and govern the empire. None were left now, dead or enslaved, much like her husband. The Emperor Hedrion had been captured and executed a few days ago just outside the city. Beheaded, tied upside down to a tall pole with his head impaled atop it, and carried before the army. The empress had watched the invaders advancing with cold eyes.

There had been very little love in their marriage for many years now, just respect.

Now she stood in her shin length dress of purple silk with slits up to the thighs to keep movement easy. She was clad in her own golden armour, her long hair tied back into a tight braid, laurel wreath nestled above her ears.

Outside, the sounds of battle were turning to loud cries of victory from Kazdruk throats, drowning out the screams Nera knew her people were still letting out. It did not take long before a great crash sounded at the broad doors, the two thick beams holding them closed starting to bend.

“Soldiers of Goldulan. We are the last. Our Empire is fallen. Let us give these invaders something to remember,” Nera called from her position, watching as the next crash against the gates snapped the bottom beam.

The formed soldiers let out a single grunted cheer. They braced themselves for what was to come as Nera glanced to her bodyguards.

“Wash the floors with blood. Morkate watches us three today,” she said.

The two smiled wickedly, showing off their fangs. It was a shame that the days of hiding would come to such an end, Nera thought to herself as she drew her own blade.

When the doors came crashing open, a rush of helot foot soldiers and Kazdruk warriors came pouring in. Warcries on their lips as the smoke of the fires from the city billowed in with them. The legionnaires threw their pilums with deadly efficiency, and dozens of kazdruk fell, but they kept coming, storming over their own dead. Any survivors laid out were soon trampled to death. There was no sympathy, or true comradery. Only a need to slaughter.

The impact of invader upon defender filled the hall with its brutal cacophony. Steel and flesh were rent, and screams of pain and death soon filled the hall. Nera watched it unfold, knowing how it would end. There was only one way it could end.

Helot dead began to pile up before the Goldulan legionnaires, the marble floors getting slick with their spilled blood. But the Kazdruk pushed hard. There were too many pouring in, clambering up onto the senators’ seats. The flanks of the legionnaires had to turn to face these new threats, weakening the formed body.

 Nera scowled, watching the front shatter as two Kazdruk stormed into the legionnaires. One, a female, used a vicious war scythe, pulling shields from hands and slashing into the exposed soldier waiting behind. Spilled guts splattered upon the floor, crushed beneath her hooves as the Goldulans struggled to keep up with her rampage. The Kazdruk used her scythe and dark metal bracers to deflect many of the blows and slashes aimed to her, though Nera noted a few gouges sliced through her flesh.

The other, a hulking brute male with a two handed axe, was pure rage and aggression. His tusked face twisted by hatred as the weapon crashed into the legionnaires. Splitting skulls and breaking shield arms with his wide swipes.

Though others were killing, and pushing towards the inevitable defeat, the legionnaires were able to slay most. Stabbing and slashed through the invaders as they were slowly pushed back. Their numbers dwindling as the endless horde outside continued to push inwards.

Some helots had gotten around, and were charging towards the three before the thrones. Nera watched as her bodyguards dispatched them with ruthless efficiency. One of them hit the ground at Nera’s feet, his head rolling towards the main battle. It was getting difficult to see the floor, hidden beneath corpses and blood.

The first Goldulan to run was from the rear, but even his armour was spattered with gore. Nera caught his eye as he fled towards the rear of the hall, and the doors that would lead through the Palace. It was possible he would find a way to escape, and Nera let him flee.

A few more turned, and ran dropping shields or swords to get themselves lighter, eager to get away from the invaders. Of the original sixty, Nera counted only seven that fled. The remainder stood, and fought.

And died brutally.

“Morkate watches us. Let’s give her an offering,” Nera said, watching the helots and kazdruk warriors charge towards her and the two praetorians.

They fought viciously, letting their true natures show now that there were no witnesses. Dripping blood, Nera stabbed, parried, and slashed through the enemy. One helot turned, fleeing the fanged maws of the three women, only to have the large axe wielding kazdruk grasp him by the neck, and snap it with a single vicious jerk. Nera was pulling her blade from a kazdruk chest, blood pumping over her hands, when the warscythe took the head of the praetorian beside her.

The body stood for a few heart beats. Long enough for Nera to duck a wide swipe from the large axe and disembowel a helot beside her. The praetorians body hit the ground as intestines spilled over Nera’s shoulder. She felt the blood clotting in her hair as she rose to her feet, bringing the sword with her. Slicing open a kazdruk thigh, pour gushed over her face, and she lunged to the right.

The female was waiting for her, grinning.

“Well. You might be worthy after all,” the kazdruk said, her orange eyes glaring at Nera with something close to amusement. There was a dull thud behind her, and Nera knew her other praetorian had fallen victim as well. There were just too many.

Knowing she would not survive, Nera lunged. She left herself exposed, but she would bring down the orange eyed bitch before her. Her sword clashed with a bracer, and a helot sword grated along the back of her shoulder, scraping over the armour.

Kicking back she felt her heel strike a knee, then pressed closer as the female kazdruk before her swung her scythe. Getting inside the reach of it, the blade whistling behind her, Nera thrust upwards with her sword, aiming for the bottom of the chin. The kazdruk jerked her head back though. She let out a roar of pain as blade sliced upwards, along her cheek and over her eye.

Nera grinned, before an elbow hit her in the side of the head. Her ears ringing, she stumbled, and felt a hoof hit her in the back. Falling to the blood slick floor, she looked up at the statue behind the thrones. A marble statue of the first Goldulan emperor standing proud with sword in his hand. She closed her eyes, waiting for the killing blow.

“No Gelhoz, I want her to live. To suffer,” the female said, voice thick with pain, and Nera felt her heart sink.

“Very well Velkra. Perhaps Aeltha will enjoy this one,” he said, and something hard hit Nera in the head, sending her into darkness.

 

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Opening her eyes, Nera looked through the darkness. It had been pitch black when the kazdruk first placed her in here. But after so many years it was turning to shades of gray. She smiled, as she always did when she awoke from that dream of memory. Felt the metal strips of the muzzle that had been put on her. Felt the chains on her naked flesh, binding wrists, ankles, and just beneath her breasts to a pole inside a small cage.

Someone would come to feed her soon. It had been a few days. They might even rape her, though she had learned how to take pleasure instead of humiliation from those kazdruk cocks. They thought to break her, but Nera was Empress of Goldulan. She was a patient woman, and unless they killed her, they would rue the day they let her live.

Nera cocked her head then as she felt something she’d not in many long years, and it was only getting stronger. Her lips peeled back into a smile.

Even Yuldasha would learn, that everything could bleed.

 

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Not knowing where Aeltha had stolen herself away, but knowing she had some time to herself, Lillium made her way through the halls of the spire leading downwards in the dark depths of the dungeons. Torches of flickering red flames lit the way for the succubus, ensuring to walk calmly. Purposefully. If she looked as if she belonged, she would be able to get away with almost anything.

Following a nagging sensation in her heart, flooding through her veins, she delved deeper and deeper into the bowels of the Spire. Far lower than any purebred would venture. This low was beneath them; for Aeltha’s failed experiments, and those that would be left to rot. Low enough that the cells were no longer cramped chambers cut off from the world by bars, but thick metal doors instead.

But the feeling, like a guide, beckoned her lower. Into another curving staircase, into another hallway. More stairs led further down. Deeper. But Lillium ignored it, instead looking ahead to a small chamber at the end of the hall. A pair of bored helot guards sat in that chamber, a pair of axes sitting on the table as they drank and rolled dice. The succubus could hear their quiet voices, and laughter. Lillium started towards them, but looking beyond. At yet another thick metal door, chains linked across it, nailed into the wall.

The helots looked up as they heard the clicking of Lillium’s heels coming towards them. Their hands started towards their weapons, but paused as Lillium entered the room alone. The two glanced to each other, the focused on the woman before them. Seemingly ignoring them as she moved towards the door.

“No one is to see the prisoner until it is her time to feed,” one of the helots said, a little unsure of himself. Neither bothered to get up from their seat.

“Then perhaps I should feed her then,” Lillium said, knowing whatever strange pull was guiding her, originated from within the next room. She looked back over her shoulder at the guards. One sighed, the other stood, moving towards the doorway and glancing towards the stairs.

“We will say you were sent by Aeltha should anyone ask, Harbinger,” the still seated helot said, and Lillium smiled. It was almost sweet. The helot looked away, leaving Lillium to start removing the chains crossed over the door. Letting them fall to the ground, kicking up dust as they clanged against the stone.

“You will need this,” the standing helot informed her, walking over and handing her a torch. Her hand grasping the handle, she pulled and stepped through into the darkness. Behind her, the door slammed shut, and there was silence. Lillium lifted her torch, until she saw the glinting of black metal. A cage, vaguely human shaped. Pale skin within, covered in chains.

“Now this is most interesting,” a voice that may have been cultured and suave once before spoke. Now it was hoarse, words unfamiliar on her lips. Lillium started towards her, brows furrowed as she began to make out the naked form that had been muzzled even inside the tight confines of her cage.

“Aeltha plays with things she does not fully understand. I wonder if she believes you a success or another failure,” the caged woman said, and Lillium stopped just before her cage. Looking into her eyes, seeing the points of vampiric fangs behind her lips as she spoke.

“I don’t think she’s decided yet. But it doesn’t much matter. I play her game, and make her believe. Until the day I do not,” Lillium said, and the woman laughed. A harsh sound.

“Do you know who I am then?”

“No. But I know what you are. Your blood flows in my veins. Used to create what I have become,” Lillium said, knowing full well now why she had been guided here.

“Used, but not pure. She’s tainted you, violated my lineage.”

“Improved. Using Kazdruk magic to unwittingly fulfill Morkate’s designs. Succubus and vampire in one flesh,” Lillium said, slowly walking around the cage, letting her fingers run across the flat bars. Black claws tapping on the metal, ringing through the chamber. The woman in the cage laughed again, not bothering to even try and track the succubus.

“And here I thought I had found another enemy to torment me. Instead, the key to vengeance, let me introduce myself.”

Lillium came around the front again, grasping the bars and pressing herself firmly against the cage. Feeling cold metal pressing into her cleavage. Her cheekbones against the hard edges. She listened.

“I am Nera, Empress of the Goldulan Empire.”

Lillium laughed gently, running her tongue across her lips, reaching into the cage, letting her claws tease across skin.

“There is more than vengeance to seek Empress. A new empire. A proper empire,” Lillium said, and slowly pulled away. Stepping from the cage, letting the vampiress watch her.

“A Morkatean Empire,” the Empress said, and Lillium nodded, spreading her hands wide as she bowed low.

“The chains will be broken soon enough Empress. But I must prepare, and it cannot be me; they watch me too closely. But I will find another. Then the bricks can be laid, and the blood can flow.”

Nera let her eyes look upwards as Lillium left. Let herself look up towards where Yuldasha sat believing herself a conqueror of this world.

Lillium nodded to the helots as she moved back towards the staircase to return to Aeltha lest she be missed. She did not listen to the sounds of chains being put back into place as she ascended again. Higher through the spire. Thinking about how the Kazdruk had paved the path for Morkate’s rise from the mists of the past.

About how Aeltha’s arrogance created something that would know no rest without blood. And Lillium would have it.

 

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Though her cloak was finely tailored, and many could guess her to be an Elf woman of some wealth, Lelthina’s identity remained a secret. She knew she was not so skilled at subterfuge as Pharno, and she could never disguise her accent, or her mannerisms that would certainly reveal her status of nobility. Lelthina also had to admit to herself, that despite the need, she could never pretend to be of the lowborn. It went against all her instincts, and ambitions.

Pharno had given her the centre of all these whispers of Morkate. The brothel where it had started amongst the prostitutes, and now she found herself walking down a dark alley towards its hidden entrance. Ivy that had somehow survived two massacres and a siege still hung from second and third story windows, and red lanterns glowed within. But this was still not a place visited by many Elves or nobility.

Still, it was here that Lelthina needed to go. The past few days she had been getting supplies to apothecaries and healers to help with the injured and sick. To mason and carpenter guilds to repair and rebuild. She acted humble, not taking payments for her actions. In her ears though, Pharno whispered as they fucked in her chambers. Telling her that whispers amongst the frightened and angry humans were saying of her generosity and kindness while she rode him. That perhaps one of the Elves might actually care for them. There were of course those that refused to believe it. There was too much bitterness from recent events for Lelthina to appear a saint.

Now though, in a dreary alley, she knocked on the back door of the ‘Rose and Jasmine’. As the door opened, she could smell incense used to overpower the stench of cheap wine and sex. A large man looked down at her, fairly well dressed, but not overly intelligent looking. He didn’t say anything though, and Lelthina walked past him into the brothel.

As soon as the door closed behind her, a beautiful human woman wearing only stockings and a thong moved up to her. Purring, smelling of cheap perfume and cosmetics heavily applied to her face. Her breasts bounced slightly as she moved to the elven noble woman, running a hand along her belly, upwards to her ribs as the whore circled around.

“How might we serve your needs today?” she said in a well practiced sultry tone. Despite herself, Lelthina was impressed. The woman aroused her, and there was a temptation to hand her coin and see her room. But she smiled under her hood and gently took the whore’s hand.

“Not for me,” she said, lifting the hand to her lips and kissing it softly, making the woman before her raise an eyebrow.

She was about to ask to see the Madame of the brothel, another voice spoke out. Older, more cynical.

“I can take care of her Matilda. Please see to our other guests,” the woman who spoke was of middle years. For a human anyway. There was as much gray in her hair as dark brown, and she wore less cosmetics than the other whores. Certainly left her crow’s feet plain to see at the corners of her eyes.

“Madame Belinda. Would you care for some tea my lady?” she asked with a slight bow and a welcoming smile, though there was little respect in her tone. Lelthina smiled. The woman was no stranger to power games it would seem.

“I would love some,” the elven noble responded soon following Belinda up a set of stairs, towards a third level that held her personal chambers and her office. Away from the moans pouring out through closed doors that made Lelthina wonder how much of this was act for these men and women.

Putting a kettle over the crackling fire in her hearth, Belinda gestured to one of a few chairs in the room. Lelthina took the offered seat, smoothing out her skirts and lowering her hood.

“So, why does the lady Lelthina grace my brothel with her presence? We have no damage to our structure, we are not wanting for food any more than the rest of the city, we are in no need of alms, and I know for a fact a woman of your tastes would prefer a much classier establishment than my own for her personal pleasures,” Belinda said, walking with what seemed to be a stiff hip towards another of the chairs before she slowly eased herself in. The friendly smile was gone from her features as well.

“I am the governor of this city, and after the recent atrocities it is my duty to ensure all are well cared for to prevent further troubles,” Lelthina said. In her mind already preparing the next words to worm her way into Belinda’s trust.

“Atrocities you did little to stop,” Belinda retorted, and Lelthina let a small smile cross her face.

“If we’re being so blunt, I’m sure you did very much to stop the ones that occurred before,” Lelthina said, rather enjoying the woman sitting opposite her.

“Bluntness. Yes, I’d quite like to cut the bullshit out. Why are you really here? People like you don’t play nice out of the kindness of your heart.”

“People like us, I think you mean to say. Well then yes, I am securing my position in a city choked with tension and ready to engulf itself in more violence as we face an invasion that can only benefit from inner turmoil. Arrogance is my kind’s sin, and we wear it proudly. But I am not so arrogant as to think we can withstand the coming storms without aid,” Lelthina said, and almost smirked to herself as she remembered her comments to King Tepel before his foolish offensive to the heart of Kazdruk lands.

“Honesty. Unexpected, but you have my attention,” Belinda said, smiling now. She glanced over her shoulder as the kettle on the fire began to whistle. The sound shrill, beckoning the brothel’s Madame over.

“I have come to ask of Morkate, the Goddess that rumour says is worshipped by your girls. Some digging seems to tell that the infamous Lillium is rather important in this growing cult,” the elven governess said, sitting almost rigidly upright in her chair. Perfect posture as she watched Belinda pouring two cups of a soft scented tea and bringing them over.

The matron sat and smiled, pushing one of the cups over to Lelthina.

“You know us to be the enemy, but can’t strike without the others rising up again. In the end my mistress wins,” it was remarkable how easily Belinda revealed herself to the governess, but Lelthina knew the woman was right. Both knew the matron was safe for the moment. So she sipped at the tea prepared by her enemy.

“A smart plan on her part. She’s been underestimated too often. But in the end, she is no avatar of a God. Just Kazdruk corruption. Surely you know this,” Lelthina was surprised with how much she enjoyed the tea.

“I’ve never met her, and I have my doubts to the tales. But still, in my own way I serve her. She brings hope where there was none before.”

Lelthina drummed her carefully manicured nails along the clay cup, staring into the Madame’s eyes. Pondering.

“Hope, though she works for the Kazdruk? Spreads their corruption and conquers our lands,” Lelthina asked, raising a single eyebrow. Studying the woman’s expression.

“Does she though?” that comment made Lelthina’s thoughts swirl with possibilities. Three little words that could potentially change everything about the war. Perhaps not on the battlefield, but certainly in her own sphere of speciality. She slowly raised the cup to her lips and sipped at the tea again.

“Perhaps then, I should speak with her. If, it can be arranged,” Lelthina said. She was not one for risk, but perhaps simply letting Belinda believe it might be enough.

“Why should I do that?”

“Because I can offer her revenge. I can give her Telva Winterstone. I can get your people vengeance, and I… can get stability,” Lelthina said, knowing she was as safe with her words as the woman across from her. Belinda rose an eyebrow this time. Watching and waiting for more.

“Power you mean.”

“Power breeds stability. And stability, breeds yet more power,” Lelthina rose, the madame with her.

“Think on this Madame. We will have cause to talk over the coming days.”

 

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Leading the way through the twisting and turning corridors of the Spire, Velkra didn’t bother to look at the two Kazdruk warriors flanking her, or the pair of Elven slaves they pushed before them. The toned beauties shaped for battle were gagged, their hands manacled behind their backs, prodded forward by the two Kazdruk that accompanied their Talon Commander.

It let Velkra think, to gather her wits. Going before Aeltha, she would need most of them. The sorceress had asked for a pair of slaves that had not yet been utterly broken, soldiers specifically. There were certainly still many left from the doomed assault on the spire. An assault that had nonetheless completed its goal of saving Queen Aria. How they had managed it, Velkra wasn’t sure, but she had a feeling that the Elves had been allowed to rescue her.

The Sorceress was cunning; too cunning for Velkra’s tastes. She was plotting something, and Velkra wasn’t sure what. Worse, she knew there would be consequences for her Talon because of it. The thought made her anxious.

“Why are we delivering slaves now? Should we not be preparing to go to the front, as you promised?” the young female warrior to Velkra’s right said suddenly, cutting into the Talon Commander’s thoughts. The older male to her left, a veteran from the previous world conquest just grunted. An acknowledgement of its own to the posed question.

“Because despite what Gelhoz has fed you, our Talon is not in high standing with anyone. Many believe us not fit for the front lines, and so they keep us here in the spire in case the Elves launch another suicidal assault. With allies and patronage from someone as powerful as Aeltha, we’ll get new gear, and pushed towards the front much easier,” she glanced at them both, watching them nod in some understanding, though she doubted either truly grasped how important politics could be. But that was why she had taken the mantle of Talon Commander.

“Plus, it’ll give us more freedom to operate as we wish. Meaning more glory, and more slaves,” Velkra continued, watching the young Kazdruk woman’s lips curl into a vicious grin. The veteran beside her just grunted.

Eyeing him a moment, Velkra tried to get a bearing on him, but eventually settled on the fact that he was likely contented.

They finally reached the door to Aeltha’s labs and chambers in the Spire. The sorceress had been whining more lately about missing her more elaborate set up in the captured cathedral of Thorlgruz, but Yuldasha was keeping her here to continue preparations for the invasion of the West. The date for that was creeping ever closer, and Velkra was hoping to be one of the first to step through the portal.

Velkra didn’t wait, pushing the door, and her luck, open and stepping inside. Aeltha was inside, smirking, waiting. Her two elven whore twins standing on either side of her, though the horns on their head showed them less then Elf now. The slight red tint to their skin, the alluring curl of dark lips.

Both had their hands on Aeltha’s cock, stroking her slowly, even as precum dribbled down her shaft.

“Velkra, I’ve been expecting you. Come in… have your subordinates strap those two down to the tables,” she said, her hand gesturing to two tables covered with leather straps and buckles.

The young one’s eyes went wide, a hint of rage. The veteran just grunted and dragged his charge to the table. It was enough to calm the other as they quickly bound them down, hands now at their sides, gags stopping them from screaming out. Even as they writhed, not knowing what was to come of them.

When the last buckle was in place, Aeltha waved towards the door.

“You two may go. I wish to speak to your Commander,” Aeltha said.

The two warriors glanced to Velkra with a frown, but at her nod they both left. The exchange left a smirk on Aeltha’s features as the door closed behind them.

“You do well for yourself, that they would look for your permission, before following my commands. Come closer,” Aeltha said, beckoning. She kept her finger curling until Velkra could feel the head of the sorceress’s cock against her navel. Felt pre cum dribbling over her abs and knuckles of the corrupted elves dragging along the ridges of muscle.

“But, so long as you know who is in power here,” Aeltha said then, grinning. The two elven whores stopped jerking her off, instead moving around Velkra to slowly peel off her top. To let their tongues and their hands wander her flesh.

“You are,” Velkra said without any hesitation. She could play the game, especially without her Talon to witness it. Aeltha surely knew this. To keep Velkra in line, make the Talon believe she had power… then take that power when they weren’t looking.

“You are… what?”

“You are mistress,” Velkra said, again without hesitation, feeling the elves lowering her to her knees until Aeltha’s cock was running between her now bared breasts. Upwards along her neck to her lips.

Knowing what was expected of her, Velkra dipped her head, taking the cock into her mouth. Moaning softly, Aeltha leaned back, stroking the warrior’s hair, then slowly began to push. Velkra couldn’t bring herself to resist, knowing what it would cost her in the long run. Tasted the bitter drags of pre cum along her tongue as that thick shaft pushed in deeper. Gliding along her tongue filling her mouth until the head was easing into her throat.

The warrior wanted to go faster, to get this over with, but Aeltha’s hands curled in her hair. Controlling the warrior’s speed easily. Making it a slow drag of lips along shaft. From base to tip as Velkra struggled to keep her humiliation buried.

“So long as you know your place Velkra. Not everyone does in this spire anymore. But your loyalty and servitude will go rewarded Velkra,” Aeltha purred, savouring the slow rise and fall while the corrupted Elves watched and giggled.

“And for it… you’ll be getting an attachment of new troops. Fresh from my labs to be shock troops for your Talon. On the eastern front,” Aeltha said, starting to force Velkra to go faster along her shaft, until she was almost throbbing. Then she slowed, never letting the warrior’s mouth to be less than full with cock.

At Aeltha’s last words, Velkra’s eyes snapped up. She didn’t let herself stop, even let her tongue gentle caress the flesh sliding beyond her lips.

“Not what you wanted is it? You wanted to be going West, with the invasion. Earn glory by rampaging and raping across virgin lands,” Aeltha almost chuckled by the sound came out more moan like than anything.

“I wonder what your Talon would think of it? How much did you promise them I wonder?” the sorceress flicked her gaze to the elves. They moved forward again, soft hands sliding through Velkra’s white locks, and began to force the Kazdruk warrior to go faster again. The head of Aeltha’s cock pushing firmly into her throat once more.

What kind of game was Aeltha playing? Velkra wasn’t entirely sure anymore, but she was thankful she had to foresight not to tell them anything of her plans, except that they were going to the front. She had never specified which front.

Another look from the sorceress to her whores, and the elves pulled Velkra’s head back sharply. The warrior gulped in breath, strings of saliva hanging between her lips and Aeltha’s cock as the sorceress came. Ropes of cum shot across Velkra’s face and neck, the hot sticky spunk slowly rolling down her skin, over the swells of her breasts.

“You can clean up when you leave, not before,” Aeltha said, only then rising, her elven whores wordlessly kneeling to run their tongues over her length, cleaning her off.

Taking some effort to control her expression, Velkra said nothing. She glanced back at the two slaves she had brought here. They both stared in horror at the scene that had just played out; their fate would likely be worse.

Fingers settling on her shoulders, Velkra looked back to the sorceress, trying to ignore the arrogant grin upon her features.

“These two will be important to me,” Aeltha started, speaking loud enough for the bound elves to hear her. The already corrupted ones giggled softly. “You see, they will be handlers. Bent to the will of the Kazdruk, and dominant over my new ferals,” Aeltha said, running her hands down Velkra’s arms.

“Ferals?”

“That, would be easier to show you,” Aeltha said, walking away towards her magical orb settled carefully on its pedestal. Velkra frowned a moment, before following after, already seeing images twist and turn inside the sorceress’s orb of sight.

“Behold. The first of my ferals. Savage, uncompromising, unfeeling,” Aeltha said, as Velkra looked down upon Neicul in chains, thrashing against his bonds, snarling and spitting in endless rage. His hard cock, sticking out from his pants, waving with his erratic movements, slapping against his thighs. The Talon Commander looked on with curiosity and furrowed brows.

“And these will be your shock troops Velkra. With them I think you can smash through the defences of the east.”

Velkra once more kept a neutral expression on her features. Watching Yuldasha’s brother in chains, his mind melted beyond cognitive patterns. This was Aeltha’s game? She played with dangerous pieces, and this uncontrolled savagery would not fit with her tactics.

“Of course,” she said anyway, pausing before adding: “Mistress”

 

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Hidden from sight by branches and dark leaves, Kira sat high in a tree looking over the village of Volgras. She had come by herself, telling the others she was stealthier and would be able to move about more easily to gather whatever information they could. After the raid on the town that had cost too many lives, there hadn’t been any argument.

Of course, Kira doubted they would have been so obedient in letting her go if they knew the thoughts that had refused to stop in her head. Running across her mind’s eye whenever she had a moment to herself.

Fingers running along her cheek, she felt the scars from her sister’s claws, and shivered. Biting her lower lip she thought of Lillium again. Her sultry, seductive sister. Succubus, vampire, baron of the Kazdruk, and now the source of all Kira’s fantasies. Deep dark desires that bubbled to the fore of her imagination with intense arousal.

So she had come, guided by arousal and fantasy, to find out what her sister had been talking about the night they fought. Forging new clans, the perseverance of humanity. Lillium was not a foolish woman. Corrupted, evil even, but not foolish. She would not have lived so long if she was.

So how was it she thought serving the Kazdruk would save her people? Living in chains was not salvation… even if it made her shiver in need.

Watching the village she saw mostly Helots patrolling the village. They seemed relaxed, but those towards the edge, those in the towers, seemed vigilant. They were learning from the raid as well. Listening, she could hear the hammer on steel sound of the blacksmith. She knew not who ran the shop now, but had a twinge of sorrow for Lukas who had once run the place. Dead now, in Innisgar. Like so many others.

Kira shook her head, trying to bring back the hate she had felt before, and failed. How could she be their saviour, if she lusted after the enemy?

Focusing back on the village she took note of the humans. Most were obviously slaves, with collars around their necks, and manacles bound to wrists and ankles. There were no chains on them, at the moment, but not one of them wore anything except a plain brown loincloth. Even from here they looked tired, and bruised from whatever work they were forced to do.

Others though, were not so unfortunate. She saw people wandering in clothing, without collars. They laughed, and talked with each other as they went about their days as if they were not living in a Kazdruk occupied village. Kira frowned at the sight. There were not many, but how many more would flock here to join the enemy if there was a chance to get away from the terror of living on the other side.

A figure walking down the road from the castle drew Kira’s eyes. She squinted, staring as her fingers idly continued to brush across the scars on her cheek. It was a human woman, topless, wearing a long pleated skirt of black with violet runes in vertical strips. There were tattoos on her bared skin, running up her sides and down her arms. A free woman, but more, one that commanded respect judging by the way the helots and other free folk bowed to her as she walked past. Behind her, crawling with a leash around her neck was a more familiar figure.

“Vivienne,” Kira breathed, eyes going wide as she watched the once proud and noble knight crawling obediently behind the tattooed woman. There was far too much slack in that leash to be anything but obedient.

The pair of them moved towards the building that had once been a church. But, whatever sacrilege had been done to it, it was now a temple to something darker. Making a guess, Kira thought the woman now pulling Vivienne into the temple was a priestess. She had to find out more, see what secrets Lillium was hiding in the village itself.

Dropping silently from her tree, she looked around. The border of the village was luckily too large to have every entrance watched by sentries. She looked out from the shadows towards one of the guard towers and waited until the helot within turned to look in another direction. As soon as eyes were off her path, Kira darted forward. Moving more like beast than human, staying low and in the shadows.

At the back of the temple, she looked upwards. Taking note of the brick walls and the gaps between each block. It was an old building after all. Her eyes slid over, away from the stained glass windows that now showed scenes of blood and lust, and found a plain window. Propped open. The wolfkin smirked, and kicked off her boots.

Moving beneath it, Kira dug her strong nails into the gaps between the bricks, and started to hoist herself upwards. Feet and hands working in concert to help her scale the wall, until she was pushing her head carefully into the opened window.

Inside looked to be some kind of office, or study. It was empty, and had a single door which likely lead to the main chamber of the temple. Slipping in through the window frame, Kira glanced at the desk. The papers and ink pot. The stacks of books and a small row of quills. She was about to take a closer look when she heard moans from the next room.

Turning her back to the bookshelves and desk, Kira made her way to the door and quietly opened it. Just a crack, looking into the main chamber. An open space now that the pews had been removed. Stains of cum on the floor, and fluttering tapestries hanging from the ceiling. Once the scriptures of Oan had been there, now there were runes and images of lust and blood. Just like the window. Sacrifices, vampires, orgies. Kira stared in horror… and a hint of curiosity that throbbed in her loins.

“Damn you sister. What have you done to me?” Kira whispered quietly, letting her eyes fall to the altar. A block of black stone, large enough for someone to lay across. Except Vivienne was on her hands and knees, her face against the stone. Her ass pushed up into the air as the woman, the priestess, standing behind her fucked her with a strap-on.

Vivienne moaned, not caring about the tight hold of the leash. Pulling that collar tight against her throat. She seemed to only care about thrusting her hips back against the Priestess who fucked her from behind. Juices streaming down the defiled knight’s thighs to patter against the stone. Their moans helping to further defile this once holy place as they flowed like a perverse two woman choir.

Kira thought about rushing in, but the look on Vivienne’s face stopped that. She was lost in lust, her tongue rolling out the side of her mouth as her tits ground against the altar. Had Lillium done this to her? Corrupted her, broke her?

She wasn’t surprised to find her fingers had made their way between her legs. Pushing the leather of her breeches against the hot patch waiting beneath. Feeling the cotton of her panties grinding against the lips of her cunt as she watched this former paragon of virtue let herself be so utterly violated. Biting her lip, she stopped herself from moaning. Just barely, but she stopped it, and watched the scene play out. Watched Vivienne’s form shake when orgasm took hold of her. Listened to those pristine moans of pleasure as her juices of lust dribbled all over the altar.

The Priestess smiled, giving Vivienne’s ass a firm squeeze.

“You are quite the loyal whore to our Harbinger,” the priestess purred, laying the leash upon the altar across Vivienne’s knuckles. The violated knight didn’t move, as if even the touch of the leash was enough to keep her in place.

“Thank you High Priestess,” Viv said, a moan in her voice, rewarded with a harsh slap to her ass.

“Await me here. I shall return momentarily,” the woman said, and turned on her heel, moving towards a door at the far side of the church.

When the door was closed behind those swaying hips, Kira did a quick scan of the rest of the temple. No one else was there. She quietly left the office, and moved towards Vivienne, a finger to her lips.

“You have returned to embrace the Mistress?” Vivienne said, her eyes alight with wonder as she spotted Kira coming towards her.

“No Viv. I’m here to get you out. To get you to freedom,” Kira said, reaching towards the collar, but pausing when Vivienne grasped her wrist. The wolfkin snapped her gave from Vivienne’s neck to her eyes.

“Why do you spurn her? She is your own sister. You should kneel, as I have. There is nothing better in this life than to kneel before her. Worship her. Serve her so utterly,” the knight… no, the whore Kira was realizing… spouted. Complete dogma, utterly broken.

Yanking her arm away from the whore zealot, she watched as Vivienne reached out, brushing fingers across the scars on her cheek. Kira’s eyes fluttered.

“You feel her, in your heart and your loins. Come… join me Kira. Give it all away, it only burdens you,” Vivienne purred, leaning forward more until she was able to run her tongue over Kira’s lips.

A shudder coursed up the wolfkin’s spine, and she let her lips part. Her own tongue dance softly with Vivienne’s for a bit before she let her wits return. She shuffled back, stared at Viv. Realized how far she had fallen.

The whore smirked, sliding her hand back under the leash.

“I do not want to go back,” Vivienne said, and there was a hot throb in Kira’s loins as she started backing towards the door.

“But soon, Mistress will return. Your sister will have you at her feet soon Kira. Then you will understand,” Vivienne said, then lifted her head and screamed out.

“Intruder!”

Kira turned and ran back into the office, not bothering to check if anyone had actually emerged to find her. Scrambling out the window she paused for only a heartbeat to grab her boots before she plunged back into the forest. Away from here.

Away from the horrible truth of what Vivienne had said.

For Kira already understood.

 

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Aela emerged from the side room holding a needle and a small jar of black ink. She smiled as she watched the door to her office slam shut. The wolfkin was an issue, but perhaps the Harbinger’s influence was already too strong in her soul to be a true concern. What little information she gathered here today would soon be outdated before she could use it.

“You did well. The Harbinger will surely reward you for your service,” Aela told the whore that had been a knight. Moving behind her again and dipping the tip of her needle into the jar of ink.

“Thank you High Priestess. I live to serve. I am the whore of the Harbinger. Suited to pleasure her needs,” Vivienne said. Her new doctrine, that she spoke of with lust thick in her tone.

Smiling, Aela pressed the needle to Vivienne’s lower back, just above her ass. Everything was going according to plan.

“Then bare her mark with Pride,” she said, and pushed the needle into skin.

 

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Running her fingers through the mane of her mare Orchid, Layli whispered soft words into its ear. She could all but feel her excitement, the pounding heart within its mighty breast. Clad in leather trousers with a long tunic of scale mail, Layli and  Orchid were eager for the coming battle.

Turning her head she looked at the other Scytar warriors, all mounted as they waited behind the ridge for the call to charge. The winds buffeted them, but the nomads were used to much worse in their homeland of the Hyroja Desert. So they sat patiently, ready to shed the blood of the foe.

The Shaman of this War Host rode along the front as all waited for the scouts to return. The man was aging, his hair silver and white with a thick beard along his jaw, but still he rippled with muscle. Clad only in hide trousers, his chest and back tattooed with animals and runes, he looked over the eager warriors. A rod in one hand, he shook it, asking the Gods of the sky, and the spirits of the land, to step back and let the warriors of the Scytar claim this victory for them.

“Flesh to blood, bone to dust,” he said then, turning towards the ridge. The necklace of claws around his neck rattling with the motion. The chant began to carry amongst the warriors, rising in volume.

The Serok, the commander of this War Host, was quiet in the front, watching as a pair of scouts ran down the hill towards him. The time was almost upon them, the chant of the warriors getting louder and louder.

Layli broke away, guiding Orchid over towards the Shaman. As shawrapaht, her duty was to him first, and now that he had finished his rituals she was free to speak with him.

“Behdin, will you be joining the fray?” she asked of him, leaning in that he could hear her words. The aging man laughed gently, shaking his head.

“No. I will return to the camp when the charge lances ahead. But you must be with them my shawrapaht. Cleave and spill blood in memories of my younger days,” he said patting her shoulder firmly. Layli smirked, and nodded, reaching over her shoulder to feel the fletching of her arrows, counting them silently.

“Flesh to blood Layli,” Behdin told her, glancing over at the Serok and turning his own horse away.

“Bone to dust,” she replied, pulling her bow from within the large wide sheath along Orchid’s saddle.

Easing back into the lines, she watched as the Serok lifted his spear up into the air, ribbons of red and orange fluttering from just beneath the bladed head. The chanting of the War Host was at a fever pitch now, doubtlessly heard from Thorlgruz. Hundreds of battle ready Scytar, eager to shed blood and deal death.

The spear dropped down, point forward, and as one the mighty host urged their mounts forward, rising up the ridge and soon cresting over the top. Dust kicked up from the hooves filled the air as they descended on the other side, rushing towards the cathedral of Thorlgruz and the ramshackle slave village that surrounded it.

Riding just behind the lancers that made up the front of the charge, Layli could see the panicked Kazdruk forces. Helots scrambling to make a pike line just in front of the village, the tall and powerful purebred Kazdruk warriors attempting to get their forces into some kind of defence. More were slowly coming out from slave shacks and the cathedral itself, but they were not expecting this attack.

Layli had her bow held in front of her, an arrow notched. Pulling the string back, she aimed down the shaft, and curled her lips in a grin; battle was upon them.

One hundred horse lengths away, the archers unleashed their first salvo. The arrows whistled between the lancers. There was a wild cheer of bloody glee as dozens of helots and even a Kazdruk warrior fell. Their bodies pin cushioned with arrows. The fools didn’t have any shields up front yet.

Seventy five horse lengths came the second salvo, and a third at fifty. A rain of arrows that didn’t slow the thundering charge of hooves rushing towards the enemy. Over one hundred dead from the onslaught. Sheathing her bow, Layli pulled free her sword. The enemy was so close now, she could see the panic in their eyes. See the concern in the Kazdruk as they tried to get their forces to close ranks.

The lancers hit with the crunch of steel lances punching through armour. Of hooves hammering flesh and bone. Screams of helots and wild Scytar war cries fill the air as the lancers punch through the lines. Layli and other sword wielders just behind, slashing downwards at survivors. The curved tips of their blades cutting limbs and necks.

Layli let out a cry of blood fuelled ecstasy as she took a helot’s head from its shoulders, and continued on. Blood sprayed up her arm as she tilted to the other side in the saddle. Her blade took a helot’s arm at the elbow before it could thrust a spear at the third line.

The helots broke, running into the town and Cathedral. Those few that stayed were easily run down. Layli stopped her own charge, taking a quick account of the battlefield. Taking note of a Kazdruk on his back, a broken lance punched through his chest, blood pouring from his mouth.

“Into the town!” someone cried, turning their horses to rush down narrow streets, cleaving at retreating helots and sending them sprawling to the dust. Slaves watched on, some pulling themselves from their stupor to grasp weapons from the fallen. The streets and shacks soon turning into a charnel house as slave, Scytar, and Kazdruk all fought desperately. Doors kicked open to get at Helots trying to regroup. Kazdruk purebreds gouging their way through packs of slaves.

“Layli. Take the archers, and get into the cathedral,” the face of the Serok before her startled the shawrapaht, but she nodded. Turning her horse she gathered one hundred archers, each of them armed with a blade as well.

“The front door is likely guarded well, we need to find back entrances. We split into two groups, circle around, and breach where we can. Meet inside,” Layli said, trying to ignore the screams of battle and concentrate on her own task.

“Flesh to blood,” was the response she earned, and Layli nodded to them.

All one hundred rode towards the stone walls of the cathedral. Outside the main door, eight guards were pounding on the doors to be let in. The helots screaming out, before turning and snarling at the enemy. A hail of arrows killed each of them. The one hundred riders then dismounted, and broke into two groups, flowing around the cathedral.

With forty nine at her back, most with bows still in hand, they moved along the high ground Thorlgruz itself sat upon. They moved quickly, not concerned with quiet as battle raged.

Warm chunks splashed across the back of Layli’s head. Chips of skull and bits of brain getting caught in her hair. The man behind her had taken a crossbow bolt to the side of the head. A few archers quickly loosed arrows towards where the bolt had come from, and someone pushed the Scytar warrior’s body to the side.

Soon they found a door. A small one, not much larger than a person’s width or height.

“Axes,” Layli said, sword in hand as shards of glass rained down from above.

She turned her face away and raised an arm. Felt the shards clattering against her bracer as a large woman with an axe came forward. Archers along the walls were shooting upwards, as Helots stuck out to launch bolts and throw rocks down upon the enemy.

Shards of wood flew outwards from the door as the axe bit into it. The slight barrier shaking in its frame. The woman let out a mighty roar, and swung the axe again. And again. The door eventually smashing off the hinges and falling to pieces inwards. The follow through of the axe caught a helot by surprise. Burrowing between his ribs and killing him near instantly.

Eight more archers were lost on the ridge to the helots, their corpses left where they had fallen. Layli would sing at their pyres later, for now she pushed in behind the axe woman and into the halls of Thorlgruz.  The sounds of battle echoed off the stone, and Layli knew the others had gotten through to the other side.

Fighting through the side chambers and into the main area of prayer, Layli watched with a twitch as a barrage of crossbows took out twelve of her archers. But it took too long for the helots to reload and the Scytar were upon them. Jumping over broken pews and firing their bows up into the balconies that overlooked them, the Scytar warriors screamed and slaughtered any in their path. Kazdruk and helot alike.

Blood flowed over the carefully laid stones of the floor. Dripping down into the cracks and gaps caused by such mistreatment from the Kazdruk since this place had fallen years before.

Layli spotted one of the large red skinned invaders though, rushing through a back door. Quietly, she followed, letting the sounds of battle fade as she made her way through back corridors and past various rooms. She followed the sound of hooves clattering on stone floors, and ignored the looks of weary slaves looking outwards at her without any true emotion.

Up flights and stairs, Layli followed quiet as shadow, her blade in hand. From an open door ahead she heard voices. Wishing now she’d brought backup, she steeled herself for a fight and continued forward, keeping low as she went through the door.

There was no one in the room asides the tall Kazdruk warrior, a large mace held at her side. She was bent over a pedestal, but Layli could not see what was upon it.

“Thorlgruz is fallen Aeltha,” the Kazdruk was saying with some anger to her voice.

“It better not fall. That is the seat of my experiments. You will get back to the fight and push back th-” whatever else this, Aeltha was going to say, she caught her tongue when the Kazdruk warrior’s head was taken from her shoulders.

The severed head hit the floor with a loud thunk, before the body slowly fell to the side. Blood splashed across the floor from the stump of her neck and twitched once in death.

Standing before a strange orb, Layli looked at yet another demon. Her red eyes glared with hatred at the shawrapaht. Layli wiped her sword clean and sheathed it before bending to pick up the fallen mace with both hands.

“I will flay your skin from your bones, and make you live forever in anguish,” Aeltha said. Layli shrugged.

“Come find me first,” she said, and smashed the orb with the mace.

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