Merrie braced herself as she raced around the corner of the house. From Sable's thoughts, she knew that she would be see Bass collapsed on the ground and she dreaded the worst. That didn't stop her from charging toward the large body slumped across the front steps.

For a large thriban, there was a lot of blood pouring out from ragged rents in his armor. It sheeted along his white armor before splattering loudly to the wooden steps and pooling on the ground beneath him. Large rents had been torn out of the armor, revealing blood and pale gray flesh underneath. Bubbles formed along the cuts near his chest, matching the ones that dotted the side of his mouth.

If he was anyone else, Merrie would have been convinced that he was dead but Sable's wail rose and fell as the naked alpha pawed at her master. Blood streaked the naked woman's body, smearing along her breasts and stomach. The blood splattered on her face traced the faint wrinkles, giving her mask-like appearance.

Sable's sorrow slammed into Merrie, staggering her back.

Merrie had to shield herself to clear her thoughts. She mentally bound herself in leather, wrapping it around her body, throat, and face until Sable's cries faded. The sight of Bass' made her sick but she had to protected the others. (Borias! The trap was sprung!)

Borias was already moving. “I can't be getting to the kitchen! Havi!”

Haviston said nothing but he projected a wave of acknowledgement.

Merrie jumped over Sable and Bass, her paws smacked in a puddle of the thriban's blood. The door leading into the house was half-open, she slammed her way into it.

She wasn't surprised to see that the infernal traps were actually spiders once they were released. Each one was only four or five centimeters across with long, spindly legs. However, there were hundreds of them forcing their way through the cracks in the floor and pouring from the kitchen in a swarm of the unnatural red light and flashing legs.

Borias swore violently as he stomped on the floor, smashing one or two spiders with a strike. He had blood soaking his sleeves but she didn't think it was his. When she saw a bloody trail leading into the kitchen, she knew it came from carrying Fir's body back to the room to rest, that is where she would have put the young woman with the great hall still smoldering.

Merrie continued to follow the trail with a quick glance. When she saw the glow of a spider swarm already boiling inside the room, a fresh wave of fear raced through her veins.

Haviston stumbled after her, but he struggled to get around Bass' bulk.

“Merrie! Licker and Fir be in the kitchen! I cannot be getting to them!” Borias' voice cracked with fear and pain. He swore and slapped at the spiders crawling up his legs. His palms smoked when he drew them back and she could see that the blood from the infernal creatures had blackened his trousers. The smell of burnt hair and fabric filled the air.

She snarled and charged forward. As she raced through the dining room, she drew the darkness around her and summoned her cloak. Though she was tired and exhausted, the fear for the two helpless women gave her strength. She leaped on the dining room table and then over Borias' head into the kitchen.

Inside the room, the light from the infernal spiders was blinding. She winced at the brightness and summoned her cloak to wrap around her body. It gave her only a small measure of protection but she hoped it was enough.

She landed heavily in the middle of the swarm, crushing spiders in bursts of infernal energy and burning blood. She dug her paws in and spun around.

Cinthia and Fir were both on a plush chair set in the middle of the room.

Fir was slumped to the side, most of her chest and throat covered in bandages. There were bruises covering her body and bloody cuts. Borias' healing energies still pulsed inside her body, lighting up her skin from the inside as they repaired the damage to her insides.

Cinthia had crawled over Fir's body in an attempt to shield her. The naked bitch had the ends of her knees braced against the leg as she frantically beat at the spiders crawling up.

Merrie stepped forward, crushing more spiders. Tiny bursts of infernal energy exploded along her paws, searing the pads underneath her feet and burning away her black fur. The agony was brief and unexpected; she stopped in stunned agony.

Before she could move away, the spiders swarmed up her legs. The legs seemed to pierce her skin, punching through the thin shell of her form. Agony blossomed from a thousand claws and her vision blurred from the onslaught.

She tried again, but the swarm of spiders swelled up before her. Thousands of burning red eyes stared at her and she could almost sense the malevolent intelligence behind them.

As much as Merrie wanted to reach out for the infernal behind the spiders, there were two helpless women who needed her more. She lunged forward, but the spiders met her in a wall of biting agony. The pain increased long after she drew back. She could feel the agony spreading underneath her skin, soaking through the boiling darkness. It was poison of some sort.

Just as the dread started to hang over her, the burn of the poison faded. She guessed it was dissolved by her shadowy core. It only meant agony for her but neither Fir nor Cinthia wouldn't be as lucky if too many spiders bit them.

Unable to pass through them as a hound, Merrie drew on the darkness around her and let her body melt into darkness.

Renewed agony washed over her. Her body was two dimensional, flowing along the ground but the energy of the spiders baked her. She could easily pass through the legs of the spider with only burns along the edges of her incorporeal form. It felt like someone dragging burning brands along every centimeter of her skin.

She forced herself to move underneath the sea of spiders and toward the chair. It only took her a moment to reach one of the legs and then crawl up. She stopped long enough to send tiny pulses of icy and darkness into the spiders crawling up the side of the chair.

As they fell into the boiling swarm of creatures, Merrie gathered herself underneath Fir's body for a moment to calm herself in the heated darkness between her buttocks. Then she flowed up between Fir's thigh, along her naked vulva, and then up to her breasts. She spread herself across the shivering woman and then let her body swell out of the darkness, sliding into place along Cinthia's body before the bitch realized Merrie was there.

Cinthia gasped as she stared directly into Merrie's eyes. The alpha saw hope shimmering in the young woman's eyes.

Giving her an comforting smile, Merrie glanced around. She could step across into the Shadows but she knew that the other dimension would hasten both Fir's and Cinthia's death. Fir was already unconsciousness with her injuries, even seconds in the shadow realm could kill her.

“I'm scared,” whispered Cinthia. There were tears in her eyes.

Merrie nodded and braced herself, her naked thigh sliding against Cinthia's. She looked around, trying to find some way of dragging the two girls to safety.

In the other room, Haviston and Borias held back the swarm of spiders with magic. Haviston's crystalline spells contrasted with the flowing discs of power that formed in front of Borias. The swirling arcane energies blinded Merrie and she had to look away.

As she thought furiously, she used the shadows around her to form tendrils that pierced and tore apart the spiders that continued to crawl up all sides of the chair in an endless march.

Cinthia cried out sharply.

Merrie looked at her in concern just as the younger woman shook one of the spiders from her arm. The short, stubby appendage ended smoothly at her elbow but the spider bite was already swelling into a knot of red.

(Borias,) Merrie said frantically, (these are poisonous. Cinthia just got bit!)

Fear rose inside him. He called out over the rustle of the spiders. “Be getting her outside any way!”

Turning his head slightly, he yelled louder. “Where be you, Tabby!?”

No answer came but there was fear and pain radiating from outside. It felt like Dixie but there was no coherency in his mind.

Fear growing, Merrie reached out for him and found his mind. Shoving past his shields, she let her senses with merge with his.

A massive spider had crawled out of the great hall. It's body shimmered with tiny points of light and its edges flickered with the have of a thousand tiny legs. The spiders had bound themselves together into a giant form.

Dixie could barely focus on it as he cried out in agony. There were spiders still crawling on his muzzle from where he tore out the leg of the combined spider but a few of them had gone down his throat. He wasn't expecting them to keep moving but now they were tearing and biting his throat and stomach.

Everything burned as the poison surged through his veins. He tried to transform to heal but the spiders were pinning his form, a sickening twist of magic that prevented his shape-shifting while they were attacking him from in the inside.

Despite the agony and fear, it was his mistress suffering that made it impossible to think. She was only a few meters away, on her back and screaming out in agony. She had been in her larger form when she bit down and there were dozens of the infernal creatures tearing her from the inside.

Merrie ripped out of his mind with a gasp. “Fuck,” she whispered hoarsely.

Cinthia slumped against her, her eyes glazed and her body cold but slick with sweat. The spots where their bodies touched were beginning to frost over, the hoarfrost sparkling along Cinthia's naked skin.

(Sable!) Merrie reached out for the other alpha.

When she only got a wall of fear and terror, Merrie pulled back and slammed her way through Sable's mental shields and forced herself into the older bitch's mind. A storm of despair and agony crashed back, Sable's entire world had been focused on keeping Bass alive as he struggled with his mortal injuries.

(Sable, we need your help!)

No words came, only the storm of emotions.

(You must fight. Without you, we're all dead. Including your master!) Merrie's frantic thoughts pummeled Sable.

(If I leave him—)

A few spiders caught Merrie as she focused on her thought. The burning poison raced through her veins even as she crushed them out of existence.

Merrie withdrew long enough to let her mind assume the mantle of a mistress. She crafted a domination spell and then threw it through the mental connection she had with Sable. (Fight, you damn bitch!)

Sable's sorrow snapped in an instant, followed by intense wave of lust. The order had woken up the part of her that all alpha's craved, the command that could not be resisted. It gathered through the alpha and filled her completely.

Through the window, a pure white light rapidly grew brighter. It speared through the glass and lit up the room.

Merrie tried to duck away from it but it caught her body, burning away the thin veneer of her flesh. The black mist of her body evaporated in the light and Merrie almost lost consciousness in the blinding glare of Sable's power.

Sobbing against the pain, Merrie gathered every shred of darkness left in the room. The hard-edged lines of darkness poured together into a shield of utter darkness between her and the glowing alpha. The spiders near the base withered and crumbled away from the enervating power of Shadows.

At the same time, she could feel Sable's power eroding at her darkness. It was only a temporary measure.

Merrie focused on the spiders being killed by the darkness. An idea grew and she sent out a quick projects. (Borias, Haviston, the girls are coming, be ready to catch them.)

(I can only see a wall of darkness. I cannot see them coming, Merrie.) Haviston's monotone thoughts somehow gave the impression of his exhaustion and concern.

Controlling her tendrils, she stopped crushing the spiders and wrapped them around both Fir and Cinthia. (They are coming in three, two, one!)

With a surge of power, she threw both of them through the screen of darkness. Their bodies sailed over the spiders who tried to jump after her, but they passed through the darkness just as it was burned away by Sable's light.

The full brunt of Sable's holy energy caught Merrie in the chest. She screamed as every millimeter of her body ignited into flames. Blind and in agony, she fell to the ground. Black mist trailed behind her before being burned away.

Merrie wondered if the spiders or the light would kill her first.