Kivas came as a wave of energy. The thirty meter tall giant of chaotic energies barely looked human as it covered the last distance to the prison entries. The ground behind it melted and burst into flames, the energies of the dissolving material streaming up into the body. He was already bloated with the souls and lives that he had killed that the first three guards he killed made no obvious difference.
His backhand swept through the ranks until it slammed against Sprin's spear. The impact drove the butt of the weapon into the hard-packed ground.
Jasil and Zurl teleported next to the glowing hand and attacked it. The weapons shone brilliantly as they cut into the chaos but appeared to do no damage.
When Kivas swung his other hand, all three teleported away.
Merrie whimpered. (Where is he vulnerable?)
(I don't) “know.” There was no fear in Fomasal's thoughts but he was struggling with telepathy. She glanced over to see that the soldiers standing next to him also were standing firm but the further away from the commander, the more frightened the warriors looked.
At a quick question, he projected. (I'm immune to fear, it's a paladin power. Those around me share that invulnerability.)
She wondered if Bass had that same ability but she remembered everyone being frightened when he had first kidnapped her.
(Fallen paladins lose their powers.) There was distaste in Fomasal's thoughts. Then they faded as he charged forward to slash at Kivas' foot. His glowing sword thudded as it hit the rainbow energies that made up the creature's body but it sank in and the commander had to yank it free. “Loyals, find the weak spots!”
Zurl landed back and started to concentrate.
Kivas seemed to notice and swung toward him.
With a gasp, Merrie projected a command through the connection. (Guard Zurl!)
The power rippled along the mental connection, driving by the force of her order. Their bodies lit up with power, the hum and crackle searing the ground before they both disappeared in a crack of air.
Both Loyals appeared with a second crack in front of Zurl, just as Kivas' hand came down. Hammer and spear caught the glowing force.
They held the attack for a moment, the air crackling with power and the ground trembling. The smell of chaos magic was strong in the air, burning the back of her tongue.
Then the two Loyals shoved back and Kivas was staggered back a step.
The inhuman creature howled and brought his fist down on the roof of the prison entrance, cracking stone and sending a shower of rocks and dust cascading down.
“What was that?” asked Fomasal as he headed to guard Zurl from further attacks.
She sent a wave of apology. (I had to respond.)
“No, go ahead.” He waved his hand. “Drop the telepathy, it's distracting me. I need my attention on this fight.”
There was a quiet assessment from the other Loyals and she released the spell. They didn't have to be secret anymore.
“The energy is too fluid and there appears to be no spells being used. It is just chaos driven by emotion.”
Merrie shivered at the memory of seeing the same thing when she projected into Kivas' mind. There was nothing there. It frightened her that any hint of a personality had disappeared after the attack, as if everything, even Rat's mind was nothing more than a mask around something inhumanly terrifying.
Fomasal hefted his sword, the blade glowing brighter. Holy energy radiated from the length and Merrie had to step back from it. He growled and looked over the giant. “I need to get into the fight. Zurl, any physical weakness?”
The ceiling shuddered violently and large rocks came plummeting down to smash into the oath rooms and along one wall. The impact kicked up dust and dirt in a wall that charged toward them.
Zillia spread out to block both Merrie and Fomasal from the blast. The cloak snapped before coming back.
Fomasal looked at Merrie. “What was that?”
He started to ask a question and then shook his head. “Why is he hitting the roof?”
“I believe he is trying to collapse it.”
“Collapse it?” Fomasal frowned. “If that happened, then digging it out would activate the door and seal it shut.” Dread rose up in the paladin's thoughts. “He must have figured something out.”
“Or he knows we are trying to get him close enough to give the door time to activate. If he collapses the roof, we are either smashed if we stay behind or out in the open where he can pick us off.”
Another blow to the ceiling caused the rest of the small oath chambers to be crushed.
Zillia drew Merrie's attention up to where a large boulder the size of a wagon was plummeting toward them.
The cloak snapped out to grab Fomasal tightly as Merrie transformed into her hound form. With magically-enhanced speed, she launched herself out of the tunnel and into the open.
Kivas smashed down with two glowing fists.
She dodged violently, Fomasal's body skipping on the ground and then barreled away from the brilliant giant's body until the light dimmed.
With a growl, she stopped and spun around as Zillia set down the paladin.
“You can shape-shift?”
(Yes.) Merrie watched as Kivas turned around and started to head toward them. She gathered what darkness she could around her, forming tentacles to attack.
Fomasal inhaled sharply. His sword flared as he held it up.
Merrie winced as the shadows became to break apart. She stepped away. (I need darkness to use my magic.)
“What are you?”
(I'm an alpha.)
“I never really understood. You killed… they said you turned Blood County into a shadow land. I also heard you summoned an army.”
Guilt slashed into her. (Yes.)
Then a different emotion stared to rise up, a thrill of anticipation. She frowned, her brow furrowing, it felt like a master was about to give her an order. Curious, she glanced at Fomasal but he was struggling with thoughts and couldn't have the sheer will to command her.
The ground shook and Kivas howled as he approached.
Fomasal lifted his head to look at the fight. “Loyals, block Kivas!”
There was a rapid series of bangs as the Loyals teleported into battle. They slashed and disappeared and reappeared to attack again.
Kivas' voice became a deep, rumble as he stopped approaching Merrie and swung at the attacking Loyals.
Fomasal turned his attention back to Merrie. “Can you do that here? Summon a shadow army?”
Her tail dipped. (The barrier between her and the Shadows is too thick, I can't step sideways.)
Merrie's pussy grew wetter and she felt a tingle. She couldn't tell where it was coming but she could feel the surges of power beginning to rise inside her. (Zillia?) she asked her cloak privately. (What is happening? Are you giving orders?)
“That makes sense, this prison was warded to prevent escape.” Fomasal spoke unaware of the second conversation. “Besides shape-shifting, dimensional magic, and apparently black tentacles the size of horses, what else can you do?”
(Mistress, there is someone coming. I feels like a master.)
(A master?) Merrie squirmed as she grew more excited. (Someone with an alpha?)
She reached out with her mind as she looked around her. Her magic pushed away the gloom until she could see as clear as day.
There was a man approach. He was thin, almost skeletal, and walked with a limp. Despite that, she could feel the determination already radiating from him, a force of will that felt like a rock compared to the raging anger of of the chaos monster behind her.
Her pussy grew even wetter as she reached out, striking against a powerful shield that set off a flood of memories.
He looked down and swallowed hard. “She defeated me. You see, your highness, there is nothing you can do to me that she hasn't done already. Kill me? I'm already dead inside. Torture? For three days she raped me as I raped her. The healers couldn't save my manhood and I will never fuck again. Even if I could get it hard, it would be agony. I have no anger left, I have no hatred. There is nothing inside left to keep living, but I can't even kill myself because I know she won't let me. In the end, I have nothing to fear because she has done what I have done to a thousand others.”
Merrie's heart pounded in her chest as Rakin's memories washed over her.
(Hello, Merrie,) he said a firm, determined thought. (I knew you would scan me.)
She whimpered, stepped away from the dark and backing toward Kivas.
Fomasal frowned and then spun around. “Who is there?”
Like at the sentencing, there was no anger in Rakin's thoughts. He was still broken and dull, but she could feel energy rolling through his body. She had never felt it before, at least not for him, but it was arcane magic; strict, measured, and logic.
(The Justice Geas means I can never get angry again but that doesn't mean I can't learn a new trick. After three hundred years I know how to adapt.)
(What are you doing here?) Spells raced across her mind.
(Asking you to let me die.)
Merrie froze, even her tail stopping moving.
The command came and her buttocks were already pressing against the stone. “Now, sit down and listen.” Rakin's voice was rasping but the memories brought his force of will to crush against her desires.
She moaned as the pleasure ripped through her body, the unwilling submission driving an orgasm to flood her veins and ripple away from her a surge of lust and power.
Fomasal staggered back. “What… was that?” Clutching his crotch with one hand and brandishing his sword with the other, he faced Rakin. “Who are you?”
Rakin came into the light where Fomasal could see. “A prisoner, Commander, but one that happens to be an expert on what that bitch can do.”
The former warlord held up his hands to reveal they were blank. His left eye was white, with three deep scars crossing fro his brow, through the eye, and into his cheek. More claw marks were painted across his skin, most of them old but a few were fresh injuries still glistening with drying blood. At the same time, his thoughts were speaking to Merrie. (You have the ability to stop Kivas this time but you need direction.)
“I don't know how you survived Kivas so far, but you are risking your life by coming her. Princess doesn't have anything that can help.”
Merrie ignored Fomasal's words. (Why?)
(Because there is no way I'm leaving this prison alive. Either I can cower in the tunnels fighting off Kivas and the demons from both sides or I can fight and maybe regain a shred of my honor before I go.) There was determining in his thoughts.
He opened up his shields to her, letting her closer to his intimate thoughts. Surprised, she sank into him and found herself into making his choice: he was offering to use his full measure of power knowing that the Justice Geas would liquefy his organs in the process.
Then, a thought leaked into her mind. With a broke jaw, she croaked through her bloody mouth. “How… many… years?”
Dixie's eyes came into sharp focus. They were an intense blue as he stared at her. She could see the thoughts burning in his mind as she asked him to sacrifice his own life to cancer to save them. It was a foolish thing but even if they both died, then Tabitha and Bass and Sable would survive.
Tears ran down her cheeks as she remembered what had happened to Dixie.
(The silfae was one of my greatest opponents. The battle of Blood River was the peak of my power, when I still had a heart to give and the magic to use it.) Rakin glanced at Fomasal. A wave of sadness rose up but it was quickly crushed as he pulled away from his own emotions. (That was the last time I was truly a hero of this country.)
He stared back at her. (Use me like I wanted to use you. Burn my life away to defeat this creature, let me be your master in the short measure of time my body has left.)
She cringed. (How can I trust you?)
(You shouldn't but I know what Kivas will do if he escapes. I know what he will do if he doesn't. There is no way this ends well for anyone.)
Her tail shook between her legs.
(Read my thoughts, my memories, delve into them and look. You have already won, Merrie. I am your prisoner and I swear, by any oath you want, that I only want the chance to die.)
Despite it feeling like a trap, Merrie reached into his mind and started to explore. Memories of his time at the prison washed by: the constant beating from other prisoners, the abuse from the guards, the attacks by the demons as they swarmed up from the dark, and even the pain of learning a new magic when every time any emotion caused him to weep blood. There was years of agony compressed into a single instant.
To her surprise, she was crying again.
Merrie looked for some deception: a lie, a shield that was protecting his true thoughts, even signs of tricking himself but she found nothing. His entire life had been laid out before her and it was the hell he deserved. She lived through his choice to come up from the depths of the tunnel twice, feeling each one as he finally got the courage to brave the outdoor after spending over a year in the dark.
“What is going on?” asked Fomasal, breaking her thoughts.
Merrie looked up as she struggled with her choice. Then, she sighed. (He's going to help me.)
“He's a wizard without powers.”
Rakin stepped up. “No, I have powers and you have the ability to let me use them long enough to make a difference.”
“I can't remove a geas.”
“No, but you're a paladin and you can heal.”
“Then drop your sword and keep me alive for long as you can.” Rakin reached down and grabbed Merrie's collar. With a yank, he pulled it tight to her furry throat.
Instantly, Merrie's body grew slick as she felt power surging through her. The hunger and desire rose up, begging to be used.
“I will…” the Commander's voice trailed off. “Okay.”
“Did you ever bond?”
The grip tightened. “A pity but I'm glad you didn't lose another master. This would have been easier if I could have made you mine.”
Spells burst across her mind, written in calligraphy and crystal. It swirled as she brought patterns of domination, telepathy, and parts of the connection that bound her to the collar. She was going to create a bond, though temporary, between five the most powerful beings she knew. Blood dripped from her nose as her body grew darker from the power gathering inside her. Around her, the plants wilted and crumbled to dust.
Her heart beat faster. (Zillia?)
(Do it, Mistress.)
(This will hurt when he dies.)
(I will save you but this must be done.)
Darkness pouring into her, fueled by the unbreakable collar almost choking her and the need to save the country. She had a promise to keep, an oath. The power surged powerfully inside her, gathering faster than she expected despite the lack of connection to the shadows.
Calligraphy and crystalline logic flowed across her mind as she forged a new bond. The spectral lead burst from her heart and covered the short distance, umping from her body to collar to Rakin.
His grip stiffened as she pierced his shields and plunged into his very soul.
There was a brief moment of terrified vulnerability and then Rakin's life exploded across her mind. Centuries of war, battle, and magic hammered against her thoughts. His personality, even broke by his prison, was nothing compared to anything else she had happened. He was a master, he was in charge, he would dominate everything he saw in his life.
Then anger burst inside her. Her lip peeled back as she felt it grip her heart as she stared directly at the chaos creature wrecking havoc to the last standing Loyal. There were two smoking craters where Sprin and Zurl had fought, now only crackling energy marked their deaths.
A low growl shook the air as the shadows poured into her, filing her body with power. It mixed with the anger and rage, twisting violently as she felt her skin hardening. Her black paws turned into red claws that dug into the air. She felt muscles tearing and reforming as Rakin's anger warped her body.
Blood poured down Rakin's leg. More of it was pouring out of his ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. It frothed as he shook violently. It stack of withered organs and foul blood.
Fomasal gasped and dropped his sword to rush over. His hands burst into golden-green glow as he planted them on Rakin's chest.
More memories blasted through her mind, ripping apart her consciousness and shredding her thoughts. Her sense of identify crumbled under the onslaught, cracking under the force of a man who would have been the perfect master.
Then Zillia came to life, the cloak's personality shifting into her mistress. The black mental shields wrapped around Merrie's core, shielding it against the howling anger that represented Rakin's true power.
The force of wills tore through Merrie's mind. Her despair and loss from Kine rose up but it was nothing compared to what was going on.
Tear ran down her cheeks as the ground underneath her withered and crumbled, the power of her dark energies withering everything around her except for her… and now her master.
Rakin let out his breath in a gurgling sigh. (I would have been a god.)
There was no way to keep his mind out of hers, they were bonded.
He looked up through his bloody vision. (I would have become him. I cannot allow that.)
Merrie's pussy was slick and dripping. (We—) She found that she couldn't even think of “I” with his memories intertwined with hers. (—must stop him.)
Rakin groaned and more blood poured out of his mouth. He coughed. (Bring me darkness, Bitch.)
She reached out for the darkness but the barrier between worlds was too strong.
He wouldn't accept that. Tightening his grip, he twisted her collar hard until she couldn't breathe. “Bring the darkness!” he snapped. “Bring me shadows!”
Her body ignited into desire and flames, the heat coursing along her skin as shadow and fire twisted together. With a howl, she snapped out her tail and spread her wings as she dug into the barrier, reaching out for the darkness the laid behind.
Wings? Tail? She glanced down to see that her paws had turned into blackened claws and her fur was now scales.
Then the order was too much to bear. She mentally clawed at the banner, her actions fueled by an endless rage that radiating from her master. She snarled loudly as she reared up with both claws and brought them down.
Reality itself tore up to reveal the inky blackness of the Shadows. icy cold power surged over her, flooding her senses and blending with the heated rage that boiled inside her. Each of the two powers magnified each other, turning her core into a maelstrom of hatred and will.
She reached in and summoned the creatures of the dark. They responded, sluggishly at first but then faster as the promise of light and chaos drew them. A swarm of creatures, small and large, burst out of the opening.
An explosion shook the ground. Merrie looked up to see a cloud of arcane energies bursting out from underneath Kivas' fist. The snapped-off head of the hammer flew into the air before it exploded into the giant's face.
The resulting explosion blew off his head.
With a howl coming from everywhere and nowhere, Kivas' body twisted and melted, shifting until it was nothing more than countless rainbow tentacles flailing out in all directions. He began to thrash the ground, beating it with no sense of rhythm as he smashed everything.
Pain burst across her senses as she felt her organs twisting in agony.
“Keep healing, paladin!” gurgled Rakin.
Fomasal scrambled back to his feet and slapped his hands on Rakin. Healing energy poured into him and forestalled the horrible damage the geas was doing.
With a flash, Merrie realized she could dissolve the geas.
(Don't,) came his order.
Surprised, Merrie froze.
(I don't deserve it. Now, boost!) The order came with arcane energies flooding into her.
She gasped with pleasure as she took it and magnified it, pushing it back. To her surprise, he reflected it back to her and she boosted it again and again, increasing the power until the air around them wavered from the force.
He finally cast the spell. It wasn't as much as drawing a pattern but forcing it out through the sheer force of his will. It slammed into her body, a suite of combat spells that made her own seem weak. She felt herself growing stronger and faster. Her claws and teeth glowed with dark embers as she felt arcane energies gather; she could almost bite through the worlds.
More enhancement magic gathered on her wings. She looked up to see that Zillia had melted into her new form, forming dragon-like wings that spread out in both directions. The energy of the spells glittered on the knife-edges that lead each bone.
She was already launching herself into the air. There was no sense of acceleration. One moment she was on the ground, the next she was charging toward the center mass of the thrashing tentacle monster.
(Cut him open and use the shadows to pack the wounds.) Rakin's order came with one of her own memories:
Spying an opportunity, Merrie shot forward, not for the arm, but the cut Bass opened into Gillette's thigh. Her body flowed into the gap and she set off her own spell. Veins and bones corroded into darkness, peeling back as the Shadows tore into his body.
She understood instantly and rocketed forward. Behind her, the wake of her passing turned into a black mass of boiling darkness.
Merrie hit Kivas' tentacle and sliced through it. His energy tore at her body, digging long gout into her flesh, but she had her master's order to push her through.
Darkness flooded into the gap of her passing. The rainbow light diminished as the shadows withered it, the two chaotic forces warring.
Merrie's momentum brought her high into the air. She spotted a mass above her and snapped out her wing to bring her in a wide loop only meters away from the canopy of energy-sucking trees that had formed over the entire valley.
Her wings cut through the vines that reached out for her before she rocketed back down, beating her wings as she lanced Kivas again.
Below, energies were gathering. She felt them rolling through the connection. With anticipation growing, she boosted it and sent it back.
(Use all the energy in your collar to maintain those shadows in his wounds. You need to drain the collar completely and also break apart his form.) Rakin's thoughts were precise and ordered, a stark difference to his emotions.
Casting a quick spell, she flew past the rent between worlds. Zillia tore from her body and fluttered down, a pair of dragon wings that landed against the opening.
Merrie hit the ground hard, her claws digging in and she spun around and charged again. She moved even faster along the ground as she blew past Rakin and Fomasal with a snap. Her teeth opened up as she tore out a hunk of the creature's tentacle.
More shadows poured into the wounds, sucking away the brilliant energy before the chaos tore it apart. Kivas was stronger but the darkness did far more damage than the Loyals could ever have inflicted.
She came around and attacked again and again. Each time, she felt the shadows fading faster along with the energy of the collar. The spells and wards that kept the barrier were too strong, it would seal the opening.
For a moment, she considered fleeing into the darkness but Rakin stopped her. (I need you here.)
(Mistress, I'm almost out of power.)
(Zillia,) Rakin's thoughts interrupted her. (Drain yourself completely, I have another task for you.)
Merrie stumbled but the rage pushed her. She had an opponent still and he was still attacking.
Kivas' body swirled and lashed out but most of the tentacles had been torn apart. Only stubs of energy remained where the shadows had prevented him from recovering. He was still a deadly force.
Zillia let out a weak wave.
(Merrie, give me a private connection to your cloak.)
She didn't want to obey but couldn't help it as she split herself away, creating a conduit that she couldn't hear.
Rakin dropped to his knees.
She turned and raced toward him with anticipation of the command.
Rakin coughed and something wet landed on his chest. It looked like his stomach, but it was melting from the inside. His eyes were completely red with blood pouring down from every orifice. (Good girl,) he sent.
There was a sick thrill at the words she longed to hear.
Fomasal groaned and staggered back. His hands were shaking. “I-I have no more healing left.”
Rakin tried to say something but only bubbles came out. (Merrie, rip out his throat.)
He snarled at her and the anger surged through the connection. (Rip out his throat, Bitch!)
Sobbing, she felt the force of his blow slam into her. Her body was already moving even as tears ran down her cheeks. With a single step, she vaulted over Rakin.
Fomasal's eyes widened in a look of betrayal and sadness.
Her magically enhanced teeth crunched through the bones of his spine as she swallowed tore his head off. Hot blood sprayed against her throat as she cracked the skull and then crushed it in her teeth.
Tears poured down her cheeks as she staggered back. Her scales were burned and singled, every part of her body smoked from the chaos magic. (Why? Why did you murder him? We were going to win! Why?)
(I had to.) Rakin looked at her. One of his eyes collapsed in on itself and slid out of the socket. (I looked through his memories at your promise. He is right, but it goes beyond the Royal Family. There are gods involved, gods who work through paladins like him. They can't know what you are about to do any more than they can know you survived this.)
She froze, her body shaking as she fought the urge to attack him.
(Use your collar and absorb Kivas.)
She stared at the thrashing creature.
(You need his energy to activate the door's wards. The more you channel Kivas' power into the door, the longer it will remain shut. If you use the full abilities of the collar, you can lock that door for a thousand years.) Pain lanced through their connection. Her own organs began to twist as she felt the geas reaching through to attack her. With a surge of divine power, the Justice Geas unraveled and ripped apart, leaving both of them free of its touch.
It was too late for Rakin though, his body was already beyond repair.
He smiled before his teeth fell out. (Good. They say the removal of the Justice Geas is the sign of being pardoned. If the Goddess of Oaths removed it, then I'll say that counts as the ultimate pardon.)
Parn whispered, “You will not talk of him after this meeting.”
Reality shifted with the goddess' words.
Galladin nodded. Not that he had a choice.
“Neither will Talus or Madock or the gods of death,” said the goddess of oaths.
The others cringed but made agreeing noises or gestures.
Merrie wondered why she wasn't included.
Rakin groaned and clutched his stomach. Pain radiated through his thoughts, but he used his anger to push past it, driving forward even as his death approached. (After the door is sealed, take whatever is left of Kivas and bring it down into the tunnels. He is what the demons want, they are creatures of chaos and can feed on him like the shadows feed on divine light. Make the same deal and turn them into the prison guards of Abbinkey.)
He landed face-first in a pile of his own blood and spewed out organs. (That will save your country, Merrie, and fulfill your promise.)
His approaching death sapped at her strength. She sobbed as she felt herself being tugged along with it. Tears ran down her cheeks as she transformed back into a human form. She reached over to stroke his bloody shoulder. “Rakin….”
His thoughts were weak. (One last thing, I taught your mistress some new tricks too. You never learned how to be a real master when you created Zillia. I just taught her how to properly use you, as a proper alpha should be used.)
His body collapsed in on itself.
(Be the hero I used to be…)
(… my bitch.)