The prison entrance was brightly lit and painful to her eyes. It also had dozens of guards standing in front of it, armed with crossbows, pikes, and swords. Their silhouette bodies were a painting of barely contained fear and nervousness.

Behind her, Kivas still pounded after her. Despite his height, his movements took longer to make. She guessed she had less ten minutes before he was at the entrance.

She stopped right at the edge of darkness. Her Bel Dark hound form easily blended with the shadows as she pondered what to do next. Her eyes watered with the effort to look at the wide, low entrance. The magical lanterns were all brilliant and she could smell the alcoholic scent of her body already beginning to darken from their presence. She whimpered and stepped back further.

The ground shook and the acidic smell of chaos magic wafted over her.

Whimpering, she looked back for any familiar face.

It came when Fomasal, the guard commander, stepped forward. He was wearing heavy armor and had a glowing sword. “Stand strong! We can't let him hit the door in a charge!”

Merrie whimpered again and look at Kivas. He was approaching but Fomasal was in the center of attention and in a bright pool of light. She couldn't approach without being attacked or having her body burned. Her eyes scanned along the entrance and then past it to the wide hallways beyond. There were lanterns, she remembered those. Fomasal had darkened them.

(Zillia, do you remember where those lights are?)

(Yes, Mistress.) The cloak had switched back to being a submissive.

(We can't darken the entrance, but maybe one of the hallways? If we can get Fomasal in there, maybe we can talk?)

(Why not project?)

Merrie tensed as she considered it. If the Loyals were alert, they would detect it. She remembered that from before. However, if they were as violent as she recalled, then maybe she could use them attacking her to create the darkness she needed to talk.

(That's very risky.)

The ground shook again, it was getting louder.

Her tail ducked low. (I know. Better options? We need to tell him what is happening.)

(I have none,) projected the cloak.

Two loyals stepped out of the front ranks. They had all of their combat spells activating, the sheer power of the spells warped the air around them as they stood at attention. One of them was Zurl, the loyal who knew that she had a Royal Geas on her. The Loyal would ensure that she couldn't approach Fomasal without attacking, not with them seeing a rainbow giant storming toward them.

Her heart beat faster as she screwed up her courage. She had fought a Loyal before. It was a brutal fight against someone, and that was when she was at full strength.

Energy flowed into her, Zillia was boosting her combat spells. She could feel armor and speed flowing into her black veins. It might give her the edge, then again, it might now.

With a faint shred of hope, Merrie reached for the Shadows but the barrier between the worlds was still too strong. She let out a whine and then shook her head.

“Okay,” she whispered to herself. “Please, Parn, let this be the right thing.”

With growing dread, she let the Bel Dark form peel away until she was nothing more than a naked woman on her knees.

Zillia flowed away into the darkness.

Trembling with fear and anticipation, Merrie crawled toward the light.

She only made it a few steps before both Loyals suddenly jerked.

“Prisoner!” bellowed Zurl. His green armor shone and then he disappeared in an explosion of dust and energy.

Merrie snapped to the side, her body melting into darkness as Zurl's blade punched the ground that she was just there. It was only a microsecond of movement and then the earth exploded from the impact. Harsh energies tore at her side.

She landed and then dodged again as the second Loyal attacked. The hammer slammed into the ground and kicked up a wave of dirt and stone that threw her violently toward the light.

Merrie bore down against the pain and focused on dodging, moving one step faster than the other. She whimpered as she had to twist from one side and then other. Her body blurred as she shifted rapidly from Bel Dark, to shadow, to human, using the transformation process to heal the energies the Loyals did to her but also to move faster than one body could only do.

A third Loyal exploded into view. The spear caught the side of her shoulder. Arcane energies ripped at her flesh, tearing it open in a gout of her shadows. Agony burned as she stumbled and then threw herself as violently as she could as two attacks hit the ground.

In the corner of her vision, she saw Fomasal brandish his weapon. The long sword glowed a brilliant blue as holy energy surrounded him. He set himself for an attack, as if the three Loyals weren't enough.

The hammer caught her side and she was flipped to the side.

She twisted and slammed into the ground, the smooth ends of her ankles digging into the dirt. She was only a few meters away from Fomasal. Without looking at him, she screamed out, “I swear—!”

Zurl's blade came down, cutting the air.

She transformed to shadows to avoid it.

The spear caught her darkened form, pinning it to the ground.

She shifted back to tear it out her wrist. “—loyalty to Franome—!”

Tears burned as she struggled to belt out the words to the Royal Geas. She only hoped one of the Loyals or Fomasal would recognize it. A blade came after her and she shifted into Bel Dark to kicked off and roll to the other side, coming back as human. “—the crown, and—!”

The hammer caught her chest, snapping bone as it picked her up off the ground and threw her deeper into the entrance of the prison. Her body smacked against guards who didn't move fast enough.

Merrie screamed as the air ripped out of her lungs, “—family!”

Sharp agony tore through her chest and she saw blackened bone sticking out of her pale flesh. She rolled to her side and then forced herself to jump as one of the Loyals teleported next to her and crushed the pillar and one of the magical lights.

Zurl's attack caught the side of her face, sliding a burning wound that scraped her cheek bones before the arcane flames began to burn away her face.

Blinded in agony, she threw herself back away from the others. Black blood burned her lips as she continued to scream out. “I will protected it—!”

Two more blasts nearly caught her.

She shifted into shadows and back to human. “—my will—!”

In the corner of her eyes, she saw one of the magical lanterns darken and crack. Zillia shot across the space, the edges of the cloak smoking from the light damage.

Merrie sobbed as she stumbled and then had to dodge a rapid fire attacks. Each one got closer as the three Loyals hammered at her, destroying the ground and walls almost as much as hurting her. With each shattered light, the blinding agony faded slightly.

“—my pride, my power,—”

All three Loyals teleported around her, their weapons already swinging. The energies of their killing attacks tore at her skin, peeling it back to reveal the shifting darkness.

She had failed. With a cry, she belted out the next phrase of the Royal Geas. “—and my life!”

Oath magic burst from inside her, driving by her final words. She felt it shine brilliantly, as if she was fulfilling in an inescapable geas.

Nothing happened.

Trembling, she looked up to see three Loyals frozen in place, their armor glowing brightly but their weapons no longer buzzing with killing magic. The massive hammer head was the closest, only millimeters away from crushing her skull. It was larger than her head and completely terrifying in how close she got to being killed again.

Zurl responded first, pulling back his weapon. “Loyal Zurl demands the prisoner be taken to one of the oath rooms for interrogation.”

“An oath room?” asked the Loyal with the hammer. It was a woman's voice, barely. “Why there?”

Zurl's head inclined slightly.

Merrie felt the Royal Geas inside all three of them. It was part of their very being. With a flash of insight, she reached out with her own power and touched each of the geasa.

The response was immediate. The oath magic grew brighter as it intruded into their thoughts, demanding their obedience.

As one, the three Loyals straightened and stepped back. “The commander must interrogate the prisoner,” said the one with the spear. His voice was youngish, almost a boy.

Merrie felt an indescribable joy rush through her. She felt like she was a mistress in that moment, giving an absolute command. Her pussy grew slick with desire.

“Commander Fomasal,” said Zurl as he turned to face the approaching commander.

Fomasal still had his glowing blade out. He looked tired and exhaustion, as if life had drained out of him. He opened his mouth to respond to Zurl, but then glanced at Merrie.

She pushed herself up to her knees and wagged her tail.

He did a second look. “Princess?”

She barked.

Stunned, he looked at Zurl and then back at her.

“The prisoner must be interrogated. She had information about the disturbance in the prisoner's village.”

There was no way Zurl would have known about it, but it was a plausible lie for the other guards who were gathering around.

Fomasal started to say something and then he closed his mouth with a snap. Snapping around, he looked over the curious guards watching. “To your posts!”

As they started to head back, he turned around. “Let's get you somewhere dark where we—”

The ground shook violently and a wave of chaos magic slammed against the entrance.

Some of the guards cried out. “Attacker!”

Merrie whined for a moment and then up at the lights. She needed to talk to Fomasal but they weren't time to explain it. After a heartbeat of decision, she reached out to boost the Royal Geas even as she projected with her mind. (It is Kivas and he's coming for me. He will kill anyone who comes close to him.)

Before anyone could respond, she gathered up all the memories of Kivas and projected into the minds of the surrounding four warriors. It was a dense packet of information and probably more detailed than anything they had experienced in their lives, including the sex, bondage, and her various deaths. There was no way to explain it without sending anything.

All three Loyals gripped their weapons tightly, energies rolling over the killing blades and hammer even as their Royal Geas prevented them from attacking.

When she finished, Fomasal let out a moan of discomfort and staggered back. “Loyals, make it dark.”

A rapid series of explosions burst down the hall as hammer, sword, and spear destroyed every source of light in a matter of seconds. The air beat against her ears, the pressure causing little pops from the rapid fire teleportation.

As the darkness plunge around her, she let out a soft sob of relief.

Zillia zoomed over to her and wrapped around her body, covering her pussy and ass and squeezing down tightly to remind her that she wasn't alone. A wave of relief flooded over her.

“You,” Fomasal started. (You still have your telepathy? Shadow powers? Psionics?)

There was no way anyone could overheard the conversation in their heads. Merrie flattened her ears against her head and nodded. (Yes.)

(The geas? Justice or Royal? Does any of that have an effect on you?)

It took her only a moment to know she had to tell the truth. (They are there. I can feel them when they tell me what to do. I obey because it is the right thing to do.)

(But,) “you don't have to obey” (do you?) He looked bothered but also confused.

Merrie sheepishly nodded. (I do as long as it doesn't violate my oaths. The Royal Geas is part of that, I will not harm Franome, the crown, or the royal family. I meant that, though there is no magic that forces me anymore.)

Fomasal's gaze hardened. (Does that mean you willingly came here because you were convicted? You went into that prison knowing that if you choose to not use your magic, you could die?)

(Yes.) It was the truth, though she didn't want to mention her promise to Parn. (And no. I can't really die as long as I have my collar. Well,) her tail wagged slowly, (I don't stay dead and it hurts a lot. It's happened a couple of times since I got here.)

She projected a brief wave of memories, of being raped, decapitated, and killed.

Fomasal looked sick for a moment and then shook his head. (That's what my investigation found too, Merrie Golddotter. Despite what is happening, my gut and the geas says you have Franome's best interest in hand. I suspect the judges at your conviction were aware of the geas but none of them survived the explosion.)

He looked back toward the opening where the rainbow colored light was beginning to flicker along the ground. (And Borias? My cousin?)

(He was pardoned by the prince and has taken the oath also.)

Surprise filled Fomasal. (My cousin now comes through the white door? How… no, I need to know later. Kivas must be stopped first.) Duty rose up, driving his thoughts. (Bring the Loyals into this conversation.)

(I'm already here and have witnessed the prisoner's discussion,) came Zurl's voice across the connection. Even in the connection, his voice was mechanical. The other two Loyals, Jasil and Sprin, responded with varying degrees of discomfort. Jasil wielded the hammer and Sprin's weapon was his spear. It was obvious they didn't like her telepathy or the fact that their Royal Geas was commanding them to allow it.

Merrie's tail wagged faster.

A dread filled Fomasal as he regarded the approaching glow. (The last time Kivas did this, almost everyone on this side of the door died trying to keep him contained. It can stop almost anyone from escaping it, but he has gotten so powerful the last time he almost broke free. It only happens every few centuries, so it became a problem to “solve later” but it looks like we are too late.)

There was no question what Kivas would do if he escaped. All three of the Loyals and Fomasal already knew that they were going to die in the coming fight.

Merrie's tail dropped. It didn't look good for any of them. (How do we stop him?)

Fomasal frowned as he thought for a moment. (The door will respond to his presence and start to absorb his powers, but it needs time. We have to let him get into the tunnels and hold him here until it can activate. Once there—and we're all dead—he will beat against it until his energies are drained by the door and he'll retreat back to the prison for another century or so.)

(And the other soldiers?) asked one of the Loyals.

(I'm sorry, they can't know this is our deaths. They made the oath, they were aware of the risks but even letting one of them through could risk the door not responding in time. The red door must remain shut to Kivas.)

The Loyals stamped their feet.

Merrie whined soft but she understood. She had seen the destruction Kivas had done. She couldn't let him escape, even if it was her collar that had started the attack.

Fomasal surprised her by pressing his armored hand against her cheek. (It isn't your fault. I should have questioned your conviction faster. I knew you had an artifact when you went in. I knew the risks but I thought it was safe.) There was a haunted look. (If… for some reason we survive, there is something that has to be done. I believe something terrible has happened and your conviction was intentional. You were meant to break Kivas free, I can't see it as anything besides that know what I know now.)

Stunned, Merrie stared at him. (What?)

(I… my… my geas does not help me with this. I think one of the Royal Family has been compromised, somehow. I don't know how, I don't know for what reason. I can't do anything besides my oaths, so I think it is pure luck that I happen to encounter someone who is willing to protect the country at the risk of their own lives but doesn't have to follow the unflinching rules of the geas itself.)

Fomasal knelt in front of her. “Merrie Golddotter, I need you to make a promise,” he whispered. “If you survive, you must honor this promise. Even if it is the prince, you must save this country.”

With a rush, her heart suddenly blossomed with an intense clarity. She had finally seen the reason for Parn's hidden moves. She had to make a promise no other being could make. “I promise,” she said resting the stub of her arm on his.

Fomasal's eyes glittered with his tears. (Can you read my mind?)

She nodded.

(Take this, just in case.) And then a rush of memories. It was rough and haphazard, a man who wasn't used to telepathy trying to explain a conspiracy in a rush.

Merrie reached in and pulled it out, copying his memories and thoughts, tracing through the observations and gut feelings. There were countless ones, but she shoved them into a packet as she traced through the flashing images and thoughts.

Fomasal stiffened.

As soon as it felt like she had everything, she shoved it into a knot of a package and then buried it deep inside her mind. She had to survive, there was no question about it now.

Fomasal staggered to his feet. He wiped the tears from his eyes and then strode toward the entrance of the prison. “Prepare men, for the fight of our lives!”

The three Loyals marched after him. They had heard everything but none of them said a word.

Merrie watched them with a new conviction. Then, she summoned the energies around her transform into the Bel Dark hound. Mind working furiously, she and Zillia padded after the warriors into a battle that she had to survive.