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Merrie woke up sandwiched between Bass’ powerful chest and Borias’ thighs. It was a warm, comforting pressure with her naked breasts up against Borias’ chest and her legs spread around his hips. Bass had his thick arms around both of them, pinning them all together. His hips were up against Merrie’s buttocks, almost crushing them but also keeping his long cock nestled between her legs. The small bump that would become his knot had lodged itself between her cheeks, a reminder of how hard and long he could get.

It didn’t matter that Borias was half the size of Bass, they were both talented masters and skilled lovers. In another life, she could easily see herself becoming one of their alphas. Unlike her first true master, both men were more than capable of giving her the degradation, abuse, and love she craved.

Sadly, it was Kine who had saved her from Rakin’s wrath. She was thankful for that but he was never able to fully satisfying her submissive nature.

With a smile, she reached out for their thoughts. Flashes of dreams burst from the thriban’s mind, he was still sleeping and nowhere close to waking up. She got images of battles and orgy, it blurred together. The images were detailed and she found herself growing wetter as they projected against her lust.

Borias also slept. His shields were far more powerful than Bass’, but Merrie easily slipped pass them to scan through his dreams. The human mage dreamed of Franome City, the one place he could no longer visit.

Merrie sighed and projected a wave of affection for both, careful not to wake them up. She nestled back against Borias’ neck and closed her eyes.

Sleep didn’t come.

Slowly, she opened her eyes and looked around the cell. She could feel thoughts focused on her, a desire that prevented her from sleeping. After double-checking that both men were still firmly asleep, she gathered the darkness around her and used it to transform her body into shadows.

The two men slumped together. Borias made a muttering noise and then rested his head against Bass’ check.

Merrie smiled to herself. She reformed her body a few meters away from the sleeping men, her pale skin no doubt hidden by the lack of light in the cell. Musty smells swirled around her, coupled with a cool breeze that danced along her ears and tail. She turned into it, following the air currents until she reached the door.

It was cracked open.

A flicker of concern flashed through her thoughts. The door shouldn’t have been open, she was a prisoner. Worried that it was a trap, she considered closing the door and going back to sleep but she couldn’t. She was being drawn. Trembling, she reached up with her severed wrist and pulled it open.

The hallway was dark, with a single candle burning at one end. She sniffed, catching the scent of smoke of recently extinguished torches filling the air. Looking up, she could see where the blackened ends still smoldered. Someone had put them out, someone aware of her vulnerability to light.

Worrying her lip, Merrie peered further out of the cell. Her attention was drawn to one end of the hall where a single man stood at the T-intersection. It was Claston.

Merrie’s tail began to wag, her entire body rocking. It only lasted a few seconds before she took in the serious look on his face and the way he held himself stiffly. With a frown, she crawled out of the cell.

Claston beckoned for her and then pointed down the hallway to his right.

She glanced back at the cell with Bass and Borias.

He shook his head and pointed against down the hallway. The command was silent but clear, she needed to follow Claston.

A little thrill fought with the growing concern inside Merrie. She turned to close the door but her cloak fluttered out of the darkness with a rush. It closed it behind her before wrapping around her body firmly. Merrie sent a pulse of affection toward it, (Good boy.)

The cloak rippled for a moment, squeezing her body in a wave before settling down.

Steeling herself, Merrie crawled down the hallway. She sent a pulse of greeting and affection.

Claston put a finger on his lip to silence her. His movements were curt, sharp. His emotions were shrouded though, a dark mixture of frustration and sadness and a bit of anger swarming through his thoughts.

The prickle of fear rose inside Merrie.

They headed down a hallway and then a second one. The rough stone scraped at her wrists and knees, reminding her she was a cropped bitch following the prince of the country. As they approached the end of the second hallway, she started to feel Loyal Alestri’s magical spells; the combat magic was active and ready, the cacophony of the overlapping spells scraped at Merrie’s senses.

It also told her where they were going, to a large door at the end of the third hallway. She could feel warding magic inscribed on the door and leaking through the stones, the room on the other side was well protected against intrusion. There were also magic to prevent eavesdropping or letting sounds escape.

The urge to activate her own combat spells rose up. It felt like she was being brought into a secretive execution. Despite her fear, she didn’t, she had to trust Claston with her life. Even without the geas, she would have trusted him.

Past the door, he held it open for her to crawl into the dimly lit room.

She was immediately aware of the Loyal’s presence, it was hard to miss the series of combat spells humming in the corner. At the table, there was three chairs. Duke Natis sat in one of them, his face twisted into a scowl. The older man’s staff rested against the edge of the table, flickering with a strange mixture of divine and arcane energies.

Merrie glanced around. There was no one else. She spotted more spells on the inner walls, they were designed to prevent shadow creatures from escaping. It was a trap. With a whine, she looked up at Claston.

The prince sighed and closed the door, sealing up the wards. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Natis said. “Treason is a serious charge.”

Any hope of leniency faded. Merrie ducked her head. (I’m—)

The Loyal twitched.

(—sorry.)

Claston sank into a chair. “Why won’t you close the portal?”

Merrie looked at the third chair. She wasn’t sure if she should sit in it; she knew the Loyal wouldn’t but she wasn’t sure if the count would arrive. After a few moments, she decided she could vacate if the count showed up. With a soft grunt, she crawled up on the seat of the chair and sat down with her nipples just on the ridge of the table and her tail threaded through the back.

Her effort gave her a moment to gather her thoughts. (I cannot break this promise to the Lord of Shadows.)

“You’ve created the largest shadow land known to history. Thousands, hundreds of thousands will die when those creatures hunt. You’ve killed all of them.”

She ducked her head. (I cannot.)

Natis rolled his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. “Are you sure you didn’t bound with Bass? Promises are his thing.”

Merrie shook her head. (I don’t get power from this promise, but I did promise them a home in exchange to save—)

“You should have let them die!”

(They are my friends!) The shadows in the room began to waver.

The Loyal tapped her spear against the ground as the buzz of her spell filled the air.

A bolt of fear coursed along Merrie, but she didn’t back off. (You know know what it is like trying to pull your body together. I spent a year being burned away and reassembling. A year of agony trying to gather myself long enough to find safety and I couldn’t even do it without your help!)

She planted one of her wrists against the table. (Bass, Borias, Tabitha…,) she hesitated when a strange sense of forgetfulness slammed into her. With a cough, she continued, (… and Cinthia are my friends! They would have protected me.)

“You have Claston.”

(The prince is a prince.) She looked at Claston sadly. (He couldn’t have chosen me, even if he wanted to and everyone knows that. He can’t have a bitch, not when he has a chance at the crown or if he needs to marry for alliances. He has to be proper and noble and accessible. He couldn’t ever be my master.)

Claston ducked his head.

(Any relationship I have with him will, by necessity, be hidden in the shadows. Out here, at the Puppy Mill, I could have been safe. I…. I need Borias, I need all of them. So, no, I couldn’t let them just die.)

Natis sighed. He fingered his staff before saying, “Everyone dies, girl. Even your family.”

The image of the shadow kin sacrificing themselves rose up. A tear burned in her eye. “No,” she said with a rasp, “I can’t lose any more of them. They shouldn’t have to kill themselves to save me. I… I… I can’t lose them again.”

The duke did a double take and then looked at her. “Lose them? Bass never killed himself… who are you talking about?”

Tears ran down her cheeks. She tried to stop them but the emotions were rising in a rush. “The kin. The shadows. They all keep sacrificing themselves to save me. They kill for me, they die for me. Every time, it tears me open. I don’t want to fight. I didn’t want Lemetri to come after Bass, I just wanted him to be safe. I wanted him to have a home, a place he… I… we all can be away from the dying.”

She sobbed. “Dixie died for us. Tamin died. The kin died. Thousands and thousands of creatures swarmed out and died. I don’t want that! I don’t want to have my pack die again!”

Natis stared at her for a moment. Then he set his jaw. “Hundreds of thousands of beings—intelligent beings—of this world will die because you won’t close that portal. You will murder all of them just to save a bunch of adventures and creatures from another world.”

Merrie wiped the tears. Even then, the idea of closing the portal sickened her. (I can’t.)

“You mean you won’t.”

She took a deep breath. (It may be treason, but in my heart, I’m doing the right thing. I have honored the geas that has bound my soul.) Her heart beat faster. (I will not close the portal.)

Claston sighed. “How do we know the geas is still on?”

(It is.) “It’s there.”

Merrie glanced at Natis, uncomfortable that they spoke at the same time, and then back to Claston.

The prince shook his head. “Please, Merrie? For me? Close it. That’s an…”

The air grew electric, a tension rising up.

She sniffed and shook her head. (Please don’t.)

Claston’s eyes shimmered with his own tears. “I’m sorry.”

He took a deep breath before he said, “As crown prince of Franome and by the power of your geas, I order—”

Merrie closed her eyes, cringing at the agony that would come.

“—to close the portal immediately.”

Nothing happened.

Merrie opened one eye and then another. No acid burned the back of her throat, no twisting of her insides slammed into her.

Claston looked confused. “What? What is going on?”

She thought about saying no, but the geas didn’t respond. Curious, she thought about obeying his order and felt a tingle coursing along her spine. It was a moment of discomfort, it could have been imagined or not.

The prince looked at Natis. “Natis?”

Natis frowned. “I don’t understand, the geas won’t let her disobey a direct order.”

With a whimper, Merrie looked around. Something was building inside her, a pressure against her thoughts. It rapidly filled her and her whine increased.

“Merrie?”

She started to take a deep breath but then spoke before she realized she was saying anything. “No.”

Claston jerked. “What?”

“No.” She felt sick to her stomach. (No, I will not close the portal.)

The prince stood up. “I order you—”

(Do not obey the prince,) came an powerful command from the collar. It spoke in her thoughts, resonated with her own words, but the overwhelming pressure was not her own. It was a command from her mistress, to be absolutely obeyed. The power of it surged through Merrie’s veins, flooding her with energy as an orgasm ripped across her body.

"—to destroy that portal!” The prince leaned over the table toward her.

Shuddering with the intensity of pleasure that wracked her body, she could only stare mutely. Her insides were twisting, her pussy on fire and her cunt drooling with excitement. The smell drifted up from beneath her body, scenting the air with her lust. She opened her mouth to speak.

Claston’s face purpled. “I am the prince! Obey me!”

Merrie gulped and shook her head. Even if she wanted to obeyed him, her mistress to commanded her. (No.)

“You must.”

(I serve Franome but I will not close that portal!)

The table between the prince and Merrie exploded. There was a flash of green as the Loyal appeared in the wreckage. Shards of wood flew in all directions, scraping Merrie’s face and body.

The explosion knocked her back off the chair. She started to flail, but then used the power humming inside her to dissolve into darkness and reform a few meters away. With a snarl, she wrapped the darkness around her and activated her combat spells.

Claston regained his feet. “Loyal!”

“Yes, my prince.”

“Command her.”

“Loyal Alestri says—”

Merrie lunged for the Loyal.

"—sit!”

The order crashed into Merrie, driving her into the ground with the force of a maul. Before she could regain her wits, she was sitting on her naked buttocks on the ground. Icy tears ran down her cheeks, splashing on her bare breasts.

Claston stormed around the Loyal. His face was a mask of rage and sorrow. “Last chance, destroy that portal.”

Merrie trembled as she fought against the command echoing inside her head. “N-No. I will not.”

“Damn it, Merrie. Thousands will die! You have to obey!” Tears ran down his face as he shook his head. “You have to!”

She sniffed and shook her head. (I—)

The Loyal surged forward, the tip of her spear appearing underneath Merrie’s throat. It sliced into the skin, cutting a shallow line from collar to her chin. Instantly, icy blood welled up along the cut.

Merrie jerked from the pain but felt a surge of pleasure racing through her. She was helpless and her body responded with energy. "—will not destroy that portal. I made a pact—” That felt like the right word. "—with the Lord of Shadows that does not violate my other oath. The shadow land will remain as long as I can give my kin the home they asked for.”

“Damn it!” Claston stormed away. “Natis, do it.”

Natis stood up from his chair, untouched by the explosion that had destroyed the table. He picked up his staff and walked over. As he did, energy swirled around him. It was a compulsion spell but one that burned with brilliance from the energy pouring into it from the staff.

Merrie whimpered, fear rising up against her frustration, rage, and sorrow.

“Merrie, you remain charged with treason against Franome, the Royal Family, and the people therein. By the power granted to me by Her Royal Highness, Queen Vikia Pador, I command you to present yourself at the front door of Royal Courts in Franome City in three days at fo… first bell.”

The spell slammed into her. It was a powerful suggestion but she could feel her submissive nature mutating. It twisted and empowered, growing to consume her thoughts with an overwhelming desire to present herself. There was nothing, no force short of her death, that would stop her from being exactly where Natis commanded her.

Reflexively, her timekeeping spell activated and gave her the exact number of seconds before she had to submit herself for treason.

The urge to race to Franome City rose up, powerful and choking. Her body blurred with the desire to lash out at the words and head directly there. She fought it. “I-I have to say goodbye.”

Natis shook his head.

“At least tell Bass… Borias… Tabitha…” Every name was an agony to pull out. She felt herself dissolving into darkness as the compulsion fueled her magic. “Cinthia…”

There was one more. She knew there was another name but she had forgotten it. She strained against the spell, tasting her black blood on her tongue as she fought with tears and magic. She didn’t know why, but the last name was important.

Her thoughts slid away and she almost dissolved instantly.

With a start, Merrie realized they had forgotten someone. “Fir! What happened to Fir!?”

She only had a chance to see a surprised look on both Claston and Natis’ face before her willpower crumbled and the compulsion forced her to dissolve into darkness. The overwhelming urge to rush to Franome City slammed into her and she flowed for the door.

The wards resisted her but she couldn’t stop.

When she couldn’t get through the wards, she gathered up her orgasmic power and ripped into the Shadows. The thin barrier of the shadow land made it easy to create a small portal. She surged into it, drinking into the darkness and boiling creatures before racing toward Franome City.