Chaotic energies tore at her throat. Zillia fluttered violently as her back, the sharp edges of Rakin's transformation still giving the cloak a dragon-like appearance. Merrie groaned as she staggered up to the red door.

Attacking the weakened Kivas without Rakin's power was painful. The creature had thrashing violently but the blows only burned her skin and peeled past the layers of her flesh. She survived but her injuries would throb until the healing energies of the collar sealed up the rents in her pale flesh.

It took all of her mental effort to keep the energy in the collar. It wanted to escape, to slither out and plunge into her mind. She already had too much there, Rakin's anger echoed through her thoughts but it was already blurring the lines of shadow and psionic magic. Coupled with the powers of Parn, she felt like she was becoming some sort of gestalt power, a combination that frightened even her.

(It is scary, Mistress.) Zillia sent out a wave of comfort.

Merrie smiled and rubbed her cheek against her cloak's scaly appearance. It had remained in that form after Rakin's death and Merrie didn't have the heart to transform Zillia back into shadows.

She stopped in front of the great red door. Her naked, human body shivered from the cold air around her. She had to crawl through the rubble to get there, but no one stopped her. She was sure she was the only living being on this side of the door.

Trembling, she reached up and pressed the smooth end of her wrist against the surface. It was warmer than she expected.

Runes blossomed around the touch, forming into nodes with names on them: Borias, Haviston, and Rendi. There was a thick line between Rendi and her son with a faint line reaching up and then down to connect Rendi to her nephew, Haviston. Both Borias' and Haviston's circles were red, Rendi's was white. Two criminals and one guard.

“A family tree,” she whispered.

She sniffed at the memories. Rendi was assassinated because of what she had done. She was one of the people who had created her collar, despite it being the one thing that she hated most. Her god still hated Merrie for that.

After a few moments, she tore her thoughts away. She had to seal the door. Unsure, she let a trickle of Kivas' power seep out of the collar and up through her arm.

The door grew more solid.

A node appeared, a large red one labeled simply “Kivas.”

As she poured more energy into the door and it grew more solid, more shapes appeared, names and connections. She saw Kivas blossom into dozens of children who turned into dozens more. Soon there were thousands of names in a tapestry of red and white. She saw family connections and marriages, children and cousins.

(Zillia, memorize this.)

(Yes, Mistress.)

More chaotic power poured into the door and it absorbed it. There was no sense that the artifact had any limit, only that it grew more and more solid somehow with every iota of power that poured out of her.

More of the family showed up, generation after generation. Soon there were hundreds of thousand of names covering the surface as she saw everywhere the Kivas blood had flown. All the family and lives that were tied into the prison, who had chaotic magic in their blood.

She almost lifted her hand but couldn't. She had to drain her collar. The artifact had nearly endless store of power but it was still weaker than Kivas. It took an hour to feed the power into the door as it became of an impenetrable wall designed to keep some horrible creature inside, a monster so insane that not even the gods could kill it.

When the door could take no more energy, Merrie slowly lifted her wrist. The world was silent around her, a cool breeze of winter tickling the back of her tail.

The door wouldn't open for at least a thousand years, powered by the energy inside it. By then, maybe they would find a way of stopping Kivas forever.

She doubted it. There was still so much energy inside her collar, boiling and shifting.

Turning around, she crawled out of the ruins of the prison.

The only physical remains of Kivas with a glowing heart on the ground. The small, insignificant organ still beat as tendrils of rainbow energies flailed out in all directions.

It looked so weak. She could just crush it and destroy it.

No, that was the problem. Kivas couldn't be killed. Smearing his heart across the ground would just let the fragments recover later, when they were long forgotten. As long as the world existed, there would also be something the creature could use to pull himself together.


The scaled cloak slipped off Merrie's back and wrapped around the heart. The energy crawled along the surface and Merrie shuddered at the sensations. It felt like a thousand worms crawling across Zillia's surface and Merrie felt the quivering energy as if it was on her own skin.

Zillia curled over to form a bag around the heart but the edges of the black cloth refused to fold over. The twisting energies that rose from the heart prevented the cloak from wrapping around it.

Annoyance bubbled in Merrie's thousands. She snarled and commanded Zillia to try again.

The cloak obeyed. The fabric rippled with the effort but it was as if there was a twisting, boiling field that surrounded the heart.

Motes of rainbow energies rose from the surface of the bloody heart. They lifted like embers off a fire. As she watched, more motes of energy coalesced along the surface. They gathered brightly before jumping off and into the air.

Merrie gasped. (Catch it!)

The black cloak billowed over the ember but the bright lights seeped through the material. There was a flash of pain through the connection. (I think this is pure chaos, mistress. I can't contain. it.)

Surprised, Merrie had to try herself. She reached out with her power and her arm. The smooth end of her wrist waved through the motes. Unlike Zillia, the multicolored energies chased after her arm. She could feel each one against her skin, a tingling energy that seemed to dance along the hairs of her arm and cause her bones to vibrate.

Frustration, anger, and amusement bubbled through her thoughts as she drew her arm from one side and the other. The energy followed after it, leaving trails of sparkling light behind.

(What is this?)

Zillia fluttered. (Chaos. Whatever was inside Kivas, whatever fueled his rage, anger, and shifting nature.)

The motes started to drift away from her body. She waved her hand and they drew toward her for only a few seconds before sailing away. She noticed all of the motes were heading in the same direction, toward town.

(If that is Kivas, or parts of Kivas, there is nothing nothing that is going to happen. Where do you think they are heading?)

Merrie shook her head. She brought up the memories of the prison valley. (Somewhere in the village. But nowhere good.)

She tried to use her arm to pull the motes back. She glanced down to see that the heart appeared to be dissolving into flickering energies. Concern flooded her thoughts. The energy was getting more insistent on returning to the village and it looked like they were floating faster.

Merrie shook her head. She had to stop it. Reaching up, she reached out for the energy and tried to absorb it.

The motes froze and then began to crawl toward her.

She tensed. Was she about to do something stupid?


(Better in my collar than returning home.) She pulled on the power and channeled it into her collar. (I could hold Kivas.)

(Enough to get him to the door. The Red Door can't take any more of his energies.)

The energies began to stream into her body, tickling along her nerves and skin before sucking into the collar. She already knew the answer. (Rakin knew this was going to happen. He told us to take Kivas to the demons. There is only way to do that.)

Zillia's concerned match her own as they both watched the heart dissolved into light and pour into her collar.

When the last of the heart had seemed into her collar, she could still feel it dancing along her senses. Her throat tingled and quivered for a moment before the energy quieted. The energy flared up for a moment and then quieted into the faintest of touches.

Merrie took a deep breath and held herself still.

When nothing flared up or tickled her, she sat down on her rear. Her tail shifted to one side.

Still nothing happened.

Zillia quivered and then rippled closer, inching toward Merrie.

Merrie shifted her tail over.

When the chaotic energies seemed to subside into her collar, she let out another long breath. (Seems to be holding.)

(Were you worried?)

(Kivas just destroyed the entire valley, took on paladins, and killed almost everyone we've encountered. Give how chaotic he is, I half expected his magic to burn out or—)

She remembered when she had bonded herself to her collar. The column of pitch energies that almost destroyed the World Tree over Franome City. Her ears perked up.

(Where should we go, mistress?)

(To the village.)

She transformed into her hound form, her body hesitating as she had to choose between Bel Dark and the dragon shape. After a heartbeat, she choose the Bel Dark. As soon as her black paws touched the ground, she summoned Zillia to wrap around her body.

The cloak cradled her body, holding tight along her body from pussy to throat.

Merrie let out a growl and then trotted toward the village.

She had demons to find.