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Despite making a choice, Merrie didn’t just charge out. Instead, she settled down and watched the bar and its occupants, in specific Rat.

The short woman was bossy and demanding, she also offered no slack when she gave an order. When she rested, which was rare, there was a scowl etched on her face. Rat was definitely a dominating personality. She demanded obedience in all forms and everyone jumped to obey her. She would have made a good mistress, at least from Merrie’s initial impressions. She wanted to delve deeper into Rat’s thoughts, to use her magic to slither past the shields but didn’t.

Merrie’s pussy grew wetter watching the woman break up a fight with nothing more than a curt word and a threat. When Rat stormed back to the bar, Merrie let her gaze linger on the shorter woman’s ass. It flexed underneath her dark trousers as she crawled onto a bar stool and then to the bar where she could stand in the center of the wooden platform and glare at everyone.

As much as she wanted to, Merrie didn’t much time to tarry. If she didn’t get in Rat’s graces, she would be desperately fleeing the sun in an unknown village.

The crowds had thinned over the last hour. There was only a quarter of the patrons left and two serving girls. All the slender boys had been dragged off to be abused by some of the patrons, though Rat didn’t always allow them to be taken. It was less a matter of the tears that stopped Rat from accepting though; the woman seemed more concerned there was a certain number of servers for the patrons remaining. As they drifted off, one of them was allowed to take a girl or boy that was no longer needed.

The casual cruelty of it was startling. Rat had no compassion for the servers. It caused Merrie hesitation, it felt more like Rakin’s strategy than Kine’s laziness. No… Kine wasn’t that much better of a master, not at first.

Merrie was stalling.

She took a deep breath and crawled out of the darkness and across the square. Part of her wished she had her cloak or magic to shield her but she knew it was better if she came in as she was, a half-naked girl on her knees.

The smell of men washed over her, musk and sweat. Her pussy clenched with anticipation. Up close, she felt very tiny as she came up to the first of the patrons.

“What the fuck is that!?” snapped Rat.

A sudden silence.

One by one, the remaining people turned and stared at her.

Merrie’s heart beat faster, the triple thudding in her chest. A soft whimper escaped her throat as she came to a stop. Her thin shift clung to her body as she knelt in place, reflexively pulling her wrists up in a begging position.

Rat stood on the bar, hands on her hips, as she stared down.

One of the patrons, the thriban named Horge, coughed. “I think it’s a human.”

Other’s spoke up around her.

“She’s got big tits.”

“She’s soft looking,” came a low growl of lust from the other side.

“What in the darkest hell, she’s missing her hands.”

“She’s got dog ears!”

With each revelation, Merrie felt the hope rising up. There was lust in the air, a hunger that was unmistakable. The men wanted to fuck her with only a second glance. Slowly, she raised her eyes up to Rat.

The short woman glared at her. She had green eyes that flashed in the magical globes that hung from the ceiling.

There was a moment, Merrie arched her back slightly.

Rat waved her hand and snarled, “Get that fucking bitch out of here!”

Merrie froze in surprise.

“W-What?” asked one of the patrons, a large man who’s shirt strained over his chest. “Why not? She’s prettier than anything you got.”

Rat turned on him. “Then you get out of my fucking bar too, Agis! One week, no service.”

“What the fuck, Rat? I just said—”

“I don’t want some soft little cunt slave in my place. You assholes are rough on the bitches and she’s going to break the first time one of you get your hands on her throat.”

Merrie whimpered, her pussy growing slick even as her ears folded against her face.

“I know the type! That’s one of those fucking puppy slaves. You can get a dozen of them in Blood County. They’re sweet, soft, and so fucking delicate. She probably sleeps on silk and wants a pedicure—”

“She ain’t got feet.”

Rat snapped her head to glare at the speaker. “— fuck off, Erwin, or you’ll be joining him!” Turning back, she continued yelling at the man named Agis. “Even feeding her for a night is going to cost me more than I’ll ever get for her cunt with you assholes here!”

Rat jumped off the bar and stormed over to Agis. The top of her black-haired head was only a few centimeters over his waist. Her fist came up and she grabbed him by the crotch, her fingernails digging into his trousers.

Agis let out a choked cry and sank to his knees. He had a bushy beard which she grabbed with her other hand.

Rat screamed at him, “And I said get that fucking cunt out of my bar! So take that sweet little pussy that you want so much and don’t come back for a week! And when you do come back with that soft bitch’s blood on your hands, you will pay double for every cunt and drop of alcohol until I say so!”

Stunned, Merrie didn’t know what to do. She worried that Rat wouldn’t like her at first, but it never occurred to her that she would be rejected right off the bat. She stepped back, her knees scraping on the rough ground.

Men were still looking at her but the lust took on a different tone, a quality of danger and anger. She wasn’t a whore to them anymore, not even a potential one, but something else.

She whimpered and backed away. As she worked her way out of the brighter light of the bar, she reached for the darkness before stopping.

A few of the closer ones stepped after her. One of them rubbed his crotch as he smiled at her. “She’s a free cunt for the night?”

“Yeah, rape the hell out of that fuck toy. I don’t want her and she’s only going to last the night anyways. Just don’t leave her corpse in front of my bar or no one drinks tomorrow.”

Rat started back, but then stopped. She looked over Merrie.

There was a moment of hope.

“First person who brings me that collar around her neck gets a free night on the house. Anything you want on the menu, except for me.”

Merrie blanched.

The men stepped forward, the lust rising into an almost palatable aura of danger. One of them chuckled and wiped the drool from his fanged teeth. Another clenched his hand. In the front, Agis stared at her with a mixture of anger and need in his eyes.

Merrie had made a mistake.

The need to flee rose up, choking and powerful. It didn’t matter that they couldn’t remove the collar or truly kill her, it was the thought of her raped body being left out in the sun to burn away. She had to escape, the only way was magic.

Calligraphy burned across her mind as she pulled on the darkness. She felt it responding, pushing past the barriers of light as the edges of the shadows around her grew sharp-edged and solid.

No, she couldn’t. She had to survive without magic. Parn would want that.

The spell fizzled. She turned to crawl away.

The first hand caught her tail, the powerful grip clamping down and grinding bones against each other.

She let out a cry but then there were more hands on her, pawing and ripping at her clothes. The thin fabric, almost lovingly placed on her by Fomasal, shredded in a second as too many hands mauled at her breasts and jammed up between her legs.

Merrie had no control as they shoved into her wet pussy and into the tight ring of her sphincter. There was only a little moisture from her cunt but it was enough to take a thick finger to the second digit. She moaned against her will.

“So fucking soft,” growled one man as he squeezed her breasts. “None of Rat’s cunts are this pretty.”

“You keep groping, I want to spit this bitch.” It was a man trying to shove himself between her legs. His ridge thumped against her pussy and it sent a bolt of lust coursing through her veins.

Merrie squirmed, both trying to get away and to line up her pussy to the cock about to rape her. She knew it was only turning them on since there was no chance she would escape. There was easily ten guys mauling her then. It was getting her wetter as her helplessness flooded across her thoughts.

“Like hell I’m going to wait—” There was a sound of a fist colliding with a face.

A hand ripped out of her pussy, rough fingernails scraping against her delicate walls. There was an inarticulate roar of rage and then more hitting.

The hands mauling her broke apart, scratching and scraping her as a melee broke out over her. She saw a flash of limbs as powerful men slammed into each other, each one giving no quarter as they pounded fists and feet into their opponent’s body.

More than few caught her. She took one kick to the ribs. It was with an armored boot and she felt a rib cracking from the impact. A second later, someone slammed their foot on her pelvis as they punched their opponent.

Merrie let out a cry. She tried to crawl away but with her body so close to the ground, she couldn’t see the edge of the fight between the moving feet and splattering blood. She tried to dig her wrists into the ground but it was already slick.

A body fell down in front of her. The man was clawing at his throat as blood sprayed everywhere from his throat. It splashed against her face and bared breasts, the coppery taste coated the back of her throat.

She cringed and rolled away from it.

Someone’s boot stomped down, crushing her breast into the ground. The rough edge of the boot caught her nipple and she let out a yelp of pain before it was gone.

Merrie managed to get on her knees. Through the moving feet, she spotted Rat. The woman was sitting on the edge of a chair, watching the fight with a wide grin on her face. She looked… smug as her eyes took in the sight of men brutalizing each other for a chance at raping her.

Before Merrie could do anything, someone grabbed her tail and yanked. Pain ripped up her spine as she was dragged through the ground. She tried to stop it, to dig the smooth ends of her wrists into the sticky ground but it wasn’t enough.

Her pussy clenched with need as she was pulled out of the fight. A hand fumbled through her sweat- and blood-soaked hair before fingers caught her collar.

Merrie’s pussy exploded with an orgasm even as fear surged through her veins. She tried to get her wrist underneath it but the metal was drawn tight against her throat. As her weight bore into it, the icy metal dug into her skin and cut off her breathe.

“I want this fucking collar, bitch!” It was Agis. He twisted one way and then the other in a brute-force attempt to snap it from her neck. He jerked it back, digging it further into Merrie’s throat.

Merrie’s eyes bulged out as she pawed helplessly at her throat. She was completely off the ground, her entire weight supported by the unbreakable metal around her neck.

The taste of sake rose in her throat. There were a hundred different ways she could free herself. The easiest would be just to melt into shadows.

A shadowed silhouette rose in front of her, standing between the melee and Agis. It was Horge. The thriban snarled as he came lower. His hands were dripping blood as he spread them out almost into claws. “Let him go,” he said in a low rumble.

“Back off, I got this bitch! Her collar is mine!”

“I don’t want the collar, Agis. I just want her.”

Agis continued to yank on the collar. “Yeah, right. You’d rip her in half. Fucking thriban!”

Merrie felt her skin ripping as he twisted it one way and the other. Her need to breathe was getting more desperate, the burn in her lungs making it difficult to concentrate.

“Give me the cunt, boy.”

“You can have it after I pop her head off.” Agis jerked again, twisting hard until the metal ground against the side of her head.

“I don’t want to fuck a corpse.”

“She’ll still be twitching and hot, good enough for you fucking grays—”

There was a blur of movement. Horge’s fist slammed into Agis’ face. There was a muted crunch of bone.

Agis was thrown back, his grip on Merrie’s collar yanking her back by her throat. Her limbs flailed behind her as she was torn from the ground and helpless to do anything as they flew a short distance back.

The flight ended with a muted crunch of shattering bone as both of them slammed into a handmade brick wall. The entire structure groaned as the bricks scraped against each other, shifting off their base.

Merrie’s naked form slammed against Agis’ chest. She bounced off and slammed into the ground. The impact crushed her breasts against the ground and her leg twisted with a flash of pain.

Behind her, both Agis and part of the wall collapsed. Bricks landed on the warrior’s body with muted thuds, punctuated by groans of pain and the shudder of a man who had bones broken in his spine.

Merrie tried to push herself up. The smooth end of her wrist dug into the ground as she tried to find purchase. It took her a moment before she could lever herself off and relieve the pressure on her abused breasts.

One of the bricks slammed into her shoulder, the sharp edge cutting into her skin before rolling off. Her arm slipped and she smacked the ground again. She moaned and tried to regain her wrists and knees.

The ground shook underneath her, a steady thudding of someone heavy approaching. She looked up to see Horge storm up. He was silhouetted by the light from the well, his massive thriban shape looming as some beast coming out from the Shadows.

Merrie froze as she stared at him, an intense longing slamming into her as she remembered the embrace of darkness and the feel of sliding into the Shadows. The longing turned into desire as she remembered the shadow children surrounding her, the icy caress of the Lord of Darkness, and even the feel of the darkness against her bare skin.

Then his hand stretched out and blotted out her vision.

She almost pushed herself into his grip.

Powerful fingers wrapped around her face. He was large, the equal to Bass at least. There was strength in each digit as he clamped down on her head and pulled her up.

“Come here, you little cunt.”

Merrie froze, lost in a flash of lust. She moaned and twisted back and forth as she was completely lifted from the ground and her entire weight focused on her neck.

He shook her twice, each time her body snapped around as if he was trying to break her neck. “Now, be quite, Bitch. I have no intent on sharing you.”

Horge gave her another shake, not bone-rattling but still proving his claim on her. Then he released her face.

She slumped down, slamming the side of her body against his muscular thigh. It felt like hitting the wall before she sank down into the dusty ground.

He reached down and grabbed her from behind. His fingers didn’t fit inside her collar but he managed to wrap his hand entirely around her throat. Rough fingertips scraped against her skin as he picked her up again.

The pressure crushed her throat, cutting off her breath almost instantly. It wasn’t the sharp pain of the collar digging in, just the thick suffocating presence that prevented even a whimper from escaping her throat.

Eyes bulging and the need to breathe rising, Merrie reached down with her footless limbs. Dribbles of her excitement coated her thighs as she felt asphyxiation darkening her vision. A tiny orgasm shuddered through her as she dangled back and forth.

When the smooth end of her ankle brushed ground, she felt a small flash of hope. Stretching, she managed to get the limb underneath her and lifted to relieve the pressure.

Horge relaxed just slightly, letting a few sips of air into her abused throat.

The relief was almost orgasmic.

“Stay down and quiet,” Horge said in a low tone and a warning squeeze. He was looking at the melee in front of them. There were knives flashing in the light above the well and more than a few sprays of blood. Through the stars crossing her vision, she saw at least five men were on the ground clutching their organs or bleeding out.

Merrie managed to hold herself still. She was on the edge of choking but managed to get air into her lungs. Her entire body shook with adrenaline and more than a little lust.

Horge muttered to himself and then took a step back. He moved smoothly from in front of the ruined building into the lane next to it. Backing up, he continued until he was enveloped in shadows.

Merrie felt the darkness on her skin. He was a thief or an assassin of some sort. She remembered from Kine’s memories how to move without drawing attention, the smoothness of his actions and the way he clung to the side of the wall until the brawl was out of sight confirmed it.