Chapter 30: Recovery
Creedon was not a bad being. He was not ignorant of the differences between good and evil. On the contrary. He was only too aware of that delicate balance.
How the balance had tipped out of his favor. How he had to work to get it back.
The powerful witch stared at the frazzled female village with curiosity. Currently he sat in a tree with the guise of a green bird. It hid him well against the trees. He began to see an order to the chaos. Women in shorter skirts were warriors, women in longer skirts caretakers, and in the sea of browns and blues the one woman clad in white was their ruler. She was called Kyzu, and the mother of the child who revitalized his power. He was grateful, almost to the point of feeling pity for the humans. Almost.
A stern warrior sparred with a brown-headed village girl who progressed at an infantile pace. But she was learning, just barely. He wondered if she would be the replacement for the one he had absorbed. He let out a soft melodic chirp to see if it would break their concentration. They didn't budge. Everyone was so serious all the time. Especially since, well...
Creedon had been in attendance to their farewell ceremony. They dressed her...Paj? In fine robes green robes. The huntresses carried her on a woven net of flowers down to the place where the river opened out into the sea. They placed her and the net onto a two-planked raft, and wearing black markings upon their faces, surrounded her. This same stern warrior swore upon her honor that she would do...damn...Pod...Raj...what was her—Paj! Right, she would do Paj justice.
Her family came forward, a little girl and an old woman and accepted the Chieftess' offering, a single white flower. The Chieftess spoke soft words that his ears could not hear, but brought tears into the eyes of her people. Then they all began to give her flowers. Before long everyone had given the body a flower tribute, and she was surrounded by hundreds of them, every color they could find, until the very air scented the trees with their aroma. Unknown to them Henna was in attendance. She was disguised as a small child. Since he had given her that earring that allowed her to change form, she'd been quite agreeable. No doubt her conquest of the ogre put her role into perspective. She could have anything she wanted, so long as she obeyed. With that message in place she didn't ask.
Didn't as why he wanted to know about the Rovian mourning practices, why after his inquiry he wanted her there at the funeral. She didn't even ask why he wanted her to take a flower of his own, making and drop it at Paj's feet. She wouldn't ask anything for quite some time, and that made him relieved. He could get some work done.
With tears welling in their eyes, they lifted the raft and placed it into the water. A blonde archer and an older one stepped forward with bows in hand, and one arrow with tips wrapped in cloth and green leaves. A village girl brought forth a torch and lit each. Ah, now this part he liked. Each archer showed remarkable skill as their arrows hit not the tiny raft, but the opening into the ocean on either side. Two plumes of thick black smoke rose up into two pillars and Paj's body passed through. Henna hadn't mentioned that.
Later that night in his lair he questioned her about it and she responded rather eloquently. "We call it the door of clouds, a doorway into the heavens. In this way her spirit can walk through and avoid the hardships of ascension, and should she lose her way, she can see the smoke and find her way back home."
"Back home? You mean to her body?"
"No. To the Rovian lands."
Henna looked uncomfortable, but only for a moment. "Well master, we want to arrive to the Maker's Paradise, but it is a difficult journey. Rovians believe it is better to return home to the smoke, to haunt and watch over the land, than lie in the nothingness between worlds."
"Do you believe this Henna?" he asked, very amused.
"I don't know, master," she replied softly. "I think I do."
He stroked her chin and smiled. "Sentimental. I can see you have be lonely in your self-imposed exile. Leaf's anguish was not a full charade, was it?"
"Yes master! I mean no master! I mean...I am content here." She hugged herself, eyes drifting.
"No one respected me in the village. Here with you, with your power, I am more than I have ever been."
"But still," Creedon said. "A girl your age ought to have a friend."
"You are my friend, master."
Creedon laughed. "Is that what you think? Dear girl you need a proper friend." He petted her hair and smiled. "I'll handle everything. Don't worry."
Now Creedon stood watching the huntresses train, wondering when the ogre would arrive. He had so many things to coordinate, so many pieces in his puzzle. Arranging his grand design would take time. He spent a year in the void. His son had been dead for a year, and they replaced him like a ripped cloak. A year was a long time to think though, to plan. It was his plan that had kept the void from ripping him apart thread by thread. Sure he had unraveled, but he'd lost nothing important.
Smiling he began planning for Henna's new friend. Creedon was not a bad guy, not at all.
"I'll kill her. I'll strangle the life out of her until she's blue. Then I'll blow the life back into her and start again."
Zyra stomped off into the forest toward the pool of Nymare. Or, at least where she remembered. The forest was dense, and for the most part all looked the same. She would have used her sense of smell to find her but she was tired. She had not been awake very long since her battle with Caligula, and furthermore she was hungry.
"Mind over body Zyra," she snapped at herself. "You won't be hungry if you're asleep."
And you can sleep when Nymare is dead.
As she passed a tree that looked suspiciously familiar and paused. Was she going in circles? Had Gray Son not pointed her in this direction? She grit her teeth. She was going to wring that centaur's neck! Frustrated she let out a guttural roar.
"How many things do I have to attack before something gets done around here?"
She heard a twig crack behind her and drew her dagger. The figure darted away. From the looks of its wavering shape it was a nymph. Glaring she charged after it.
"Get back here!"
It was going to take her to Nymare's pool whether it wanted to or not. Vine and vines be damned. She ran on and on until she was certain she heard the bastard giggling. Anger fueling her, Zyra let out a Rovian battle-cry. Launching herself into the figure she was surprised to find herself on top of a certain grinning lizard.
"Why ssZyra...if I knew you would missss...me ssso, I wouldn't have left you."
A thought occurred to her.
"You followed me?"
"Sssort of...I did ssome invessstigating...found you ssspeaking with a centaur."
"So you heard everything?"
Scallen sat up and she fell to the side. She glared at him and he laughed. "Ssspare me the inquiries ssZyra. What isss it you wisssh to learn?"
"You knew about Nymare's pool didn't you?"
"And you never told me."
Scallen tilted his head to the side. "About what? The possssibility of sssomeone...ssspying on you? Or that there are pla...sss...ces where one can look up the valley's happeningsss?"
Zyra stood up and stared down at him. "Telling me my exploits were common knowledge open to anyone would have sufficed."
Scallen slid up, rising inches from her face. His air blew on her forehead. "I thought you would know that by now." He kissed her forehead and she swung out missing him as he hissed in amusement.
"Really sssZyra. I thought you'd learned patience or sssome other virtue while with the witch. It ssseems your fight with Caligula hasss you regressing back into upleasssant patternsss..."
"You dare call me the beast?" Zyra scoffed, shoving past him. "I have better things to do than hear you lecture me. I am an adult, as you well know."
He slid in front of her. "I am aware."
Zyra could feel renewed rage bubbling up into her, and she tried to control it but found it running rampant through her veins. She didn't want to prove him wrong. She wasn't a beast.
"Get out of my way Scallen."
His lips split into a grin. "Or what?"
Her fists clenched. She tried to step past him and he blocked her.
"I need to have a little talk with Nymare."
He didn't answer her, simply kept getting in her way. She could feel a lump in her throat now.
"Scallen...if you don't get out of my way..."
"You'll hurt me?" he teased. "How beastly. Oh wait..."
He leaned in to her ear. "I mean...how human."
She couldn't control her body lurching forward more than she could hide her surprise when Scallen grabbed her arm and shoved her against a tree. His green eyes stared into hers and she squirmed, barking curses at him so foul spittle spewed from the corners of her mouth.
"Let me go!"
Zyra swung her other arm and knowing he would catch it launched her leg toward his groin, but the basilisk was faster. He trapped both her hands in one of his and pushed down her offending leg with little effort.
She dropped herself down, pushed at him, tried to bite, claw, scream, yet without yield Scallen held her. He kept staring into her eyes like he could see some secret inside her until finally he grinned.
He leaned his lean muscular frame against her.
"The ogre'sss power sssstill remains inssside you...Your naturally high aggression hasss been amplified due to hissss mark..."
Zyra's eyes widened. She knew she was angry, but she was always this aggressive. Wasn't she?
"It isss a sside effect of using ssuch raw power..." Scallen said. "Unfortunately, one can take on the attributesss of whoever iss usssed...and...the usssser...can feel the effectss as well."
He observed her, her tussled hair and yellow eyes as she let that new information sink in. "So...Kail knows I used his power."
Scallen nodded. "It is in your best inter...essst, and the interessst of othersss, for you to calm down."
Zyra stopped her struggling and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath.
"Okay, I am calm."
Scallen's hissing laugh filled the air. "As if it was so eassy...you need release."
"I'm releasing," Zyra said letting out another long breath.
"I don't think you have."
She felt the light touch of his fingers move from her knee to the front of her skirt and stiffened.
"What are you doing?"
A low rumble spread from his chest into hers. He was chuckling. She gasped when his hot mouth closed over her earlobe.
"Do you want me to help your release?"
He didn't wait for an answer as he began kissing down her neck, reminding her with carefully calculated caresses that this was not the first time he had touched her. Scallen's hand pressed on her thigh and his thumb rounded the side of her hip. His other hand, squeezed harder. Zyra bit her lip.
"This isn't funny Sca..."
His thumb brushed her core and he nipped her shoulder. She could feel herself preparing to melt, her body easing the tightly wound strings that came from the top of her head to the bottom of her toes.
She cried when Scallen shoved her against the bark, lifting her, wrapping her around him. He ground against her core, his eyes predatory with hunger that was barely controlled. He released her arms and she wrapped them around his shoulders, her body yearning. Zyra remembered lying on the cave floor. She remembered the cold rock digging in her back while Scallen's warm tongue dug between her thighs.
It was Scallen who had pushed her over the edge. Pushed her into mindless desire. Why was he so good at this?
He began to ease her breast bindings off underneath her tunic, and his fervent kisses made her shiver. He stepped in closer and she wrapped her legs around him, when 'they' caught her eye.
The flowers, the path of yellow flowers.
Her anger surged through her like a storm. Even now Nymare and a group of perverts were watching this very dalliance. She was never safe, she would never have such pleasure again. Not without drastic measures.
Zyra wrapped her legs tighter linked her arms behind Scallen's neck. He looked up at her, his eyes dripping with desire and excitement.
She locked her legs and twisted her body to the side, and Scallen landed hard on the ground beneath her. He hissed, his eyes flashing dangerously and she pressed a hand on his throat in warning.
"Do not touch me Scallen. I did not give you permission so don't you ever presume to touch me like that again."
"Touch you?" He cocked his head to the side. "I licked your pusssy ssZyra..."
She pushed harder on his neck. "I mean it."
"I sssucked your sssoaked, quivering foldsss and you begged me not to sstop..."
"Scallen, whether you can see it with your big eyes or figure it out with your small intellect, you are making me very—"
He sat up with ease and pulled her into him viciously. Snarling, he pulled her wrists behind his back and pressed them into the ground, their faces forced nose to nose. He glared violently at her, his fangs glistening with venom.
"You know what I don't like about you ssZyra?"
She pulled at his hands. "Enlighten me," she gritted.
He pulled her closer until every word brushed her lips. "You don't accept help, but you don't know what the fuck you're doing..."
His curse sprayed hot drops of venom her face. She winced and he licked them off chuckling.
"You want to talk to Nymare? You want to tell her to ssstop? Fine, but to assault her for her nature...that, isss not your place..."
"She had no right!"
"According to human ssstandards..." he stated dryly, gripping her wrists in a more uncomfortable manner. "You can hurt her...badly, but that would solve nothing...unlesss, you want to kill her."
"I wasn't going to! I have never been a murderer. You of all people should know that!"
Scallen rolled his eyes. "You don't know your own ssstrength. You do not know what you are capable of normally...sss...and now, you have pure ogre adrenaline and rage rushing through you every time you feel. "
Zyra felt the anger. No, this was not her rage. She hated him for being right. As though sensing her epiphany, Scallen released one of her wrists and guided it to the front of her skirt. He turned his head to rest his warm mouth in the crook of her neck.
"What would be the harm?" he rasped, "If I pulled assside your ssskirt...and fucked you here and now?"
Zyra stiffened. "I would be the harm. The moment I could reach my knife I'd stab you."
"...ssay I could live with that?"
"Let. Me. Go."
"Give me a reassson."
"I'll never trust you again."
He pulled back from her neck, his face twisted in an indescribable emotion. Was that hurt? Longing? Fury? Resentment? She didn't know. He stood up and she fell to the side as he walked off.
"Release it...or I will, ssZyra..."
By the time she'd sat up he disappeared.
She didn't want his help, but she needed it. She could always turn to Medean, but she'd felt...estranged from the witches as of late. She knew Medean's loyalties lie with her, but she knew it was his duty. Did he truly want to touch her? Would he want to even if she didn't need to?
No, that was unimportant. She knew it was an issue of trust. She trusted Scallen so long as he was a sexless platonic ally. The Scallen who bit her with his aphrodisiac, who had made her shake with abandon long before her beloved ogre had to be a fantasy. He was not real, because if he was, he scared her, and he knew that.
Frustrated she plopped onto the ground.She knew an orgasm would make her feel light, airy, calm, but she could feel his eyes somewhere, beyond consciousness, instinctively leering.
"Turn around." She bent her knees.
A "No." rattled through the leaves from every direction.
She closed her eyes and called him every foul name she could think of in her mind.
"I won't do it unless you go. So if you want to prove you're justified in this, leave."
The feeling lingered for a few moments longer until the eyes left. Zyra took a deep breath.
High in the trees Scallen watched her rub feverishly at her body on the forest floor, a writhing ball of nerves arching to the promises of an unseen lover. He could feel his members coming out before he could will them back in. They pointed to her. Scallen did not stroke himself, instead he stared down at her every move, memorizing her technique, savoring her temporarily downed guard.
Zyra would come, when she was ready.
She pinched her nipples and rubbed her clit until in minutes she bent like a snapped twig and collapsed to the ground. When she opened her eyes she knew they were green again. Not that she had noticed they changed until Scallen told her.
It made her ill. She didn't know herself like she used to anymore.
Above her Scallen touched himself. The smell of her sex in the air incised him. Desire for another taste, another look into the ever changing, ever and elusive Zyra of the Rovians. He stroked them both quickly, for one could not die down without the other, and he made short work of himself. They retracted within him, and he wiped his juice upon the tree bark. He slid down to the ground and was surprised to find that Zyra had gone. She was headed to Nymare without him.
Fine, let her flee.
Scallen would have disappeared into his tunnels had a blue wrist not crawled around his waist.
The nymph didn't speak, giggling as she wrapped her nubile body around him. He smirked.
"Do you have sssomething you want?"
"I know where the boy is..." she strode in front of him and wrapped a leg around his waist.
"Ahh...and where isss he?"
"I want payment."
"Yes. A kiss."
The basilisk could smell Zyra's scent grow weaker and weaker. The nymph pressed herself against him with a grin. Oh well, he supposed it couldn't be helped. He was the best kisser in the valley.
Wordlessly he lifted her up onto his shoulders, and put her back against the tree.
"You'd better tell me before I ssstart..." he hissed.
The nymph nodded. "He's at the border being held by Talia. She said to thank you for the treat."
Scallen chuckled. Mourabet would find River sneaking out much more now.
She walked a hand down his chest. "Now that I've told you, can I have my treat? I want you to kiss me, friend Scallen."
He chuckled, gripping her thighs, and let his tongue slip out and brush her folds. She shouted. Already wet, and not due to her aquatic element. She'd been watching the both of them.
"Hold ssstill if you can..." He smiled. "Hold on if you can't..."
Then he began. The nymph tossed and turned like a maelstrom, his arms holding her up and into place. She phased into the tree once or twice but Scallen's onslaught was merciless. Over and over she thanked him, screamed for him, begged him to stop and never stop, until the wetness between her thighs dribbled down his chin. With a feral shriek the nymph convulsed, coming one last time, and slumped lifelessly to the side.
Scallen gently lowered the unconscious woman to the ground. Instinctively she phased into the tree until he had nothing but a wet chest to validate her existence. He licked his lips. It was clear that he wanted her. Clearer that she was holding herself back.
Oh well. Eventually, when she was tired of running, Zyra would come.
"Alright, I'm ready. Thrill me."
Kyzu sat on a log that had been cut down into a seat. She crossed her legs, her white robes barely above the ground. She didn't expect Ginger to impress her. The village girl spent considerable time with Zyra ever since they were young, and her dislike for Kyzu was no secret. It embarrassed her that she had more power to aid Zyra, than she, the Chieftess. In her dark heart she wanted Ginger to fail, but in her most secret heart, she feared such an event. Zyra needed to come back. She would know what to do, and this time Kyzu would help her.
Ginger readied her stance as Enui stood before her. She pulled a spear from her back and twirled it effortlessly, all but smirking. Gharla stood to the side watching them warily.
"I won't go easy on you."
Ginger tilted her knife and the sun bounced against its rays.
"I don't expect you to."
Enui charged. Ginger barely jumped to the side as the spearwoman passed her like an angry boar. The spear slashed at her face and she ducked her eyes wide.
"Enui! This is a spar! Are you trying to kill me?"
Enui's eyes narrowed mercilessly. She threw her body into a forward flip, pushing the spear into the ground and Ginger took a foot to the head.
She reeled back, her head spinning painfully. Enui threw a punch and Ginger lifted her arms to block.
She rolled to the side and stood up, realizing that Enui was going to hurt her if she had to.
"Focus," Rair snapped. "You can do this Ginger. Use your skills."
"What skills?" Gharla said sighing. "I thought you said she progressed Rair. She's as graceful as a stump."
"Focus Ginger," Rair said, ignoring her fellow huntresses. "You know what to do. Use your skills."
Ginger stared wide-eyed as she blocked Enui's large horrible spear with her knife. For an unarmed opponent she would have been fine, but it was like a stick battling a tree. The jarring sensation made her bones ache, but she dodged again. Focus Ginger.
She tried to think about what Rair had taught her. She regained her stance. It had to be muscle memory after all the torture she had gone through. Arms up and look for your opening.
"I'm tired of this charade," Kyzu said annoyed. "If this were a real opponent you would be dead. Enui, end this."
The curly-haired hellion shifted her grip and charged her again. Ginger knew she could not block this blow.
"Use your skills!"
Her skills? Right. The only thing she was good at was...
Ginger dropped down to her knees. Unable to stop, Enui's legs crashed into her body and she tripped over her and onto the ground.
Ginger quickly straddled her and pressed her knife at her throat. "How's that for skills?"
Enui scoffed, but despite herself was mildly impressed. Maybe there was more to this village girl than she realized. She jerked her hips to unseat her, but Ginger didn't budge. She licked her lips and Enui's body felt a familiar tingle. Nymph blood was surely inside her.
"I'm impressed," Kyzu said plainly. "You know the plant life of this forest better than most so I suppose food will be no issue should you need it." She turned to Rair. "Can your pupil pitch a sleeping net?"
Rair gave her a small smile. "Ginger?"
Ginger's muscles clenched. "But I just—"
"In the tree village girl."
The Nightlock felt himself in a perpetual haze. Often he was sleeping, his body trying hard to knit against evil magic. Underneath him was a permanent red stain that would no doubt remain after he was gone. Perhaps some wizard would find in a thousand years a bloodstone. Disturbingly enough the thought comforted him. Bloodstones were powerful. Surely to be powerful in death was more worthy than a life of powerlessness.
"Is that what you tell yourself Illaria?"
He snapped his head to the sound of his true name.
In front of him he could see a figure that had long departed this world. Before him was his exiled lover, the one whom had once been a beautiful dark elf, the one who would ever hold his heart.
"Gwain." The Nightlock chuckled to himself. "I must be close to death's door."
The dark elf shrugged, his violet skin filling the Nightlock with yearning. And sadness.
Gwain knelt beside him and stroked his face. He could almost feel his cool touch.
"You should not be here beloved."
"Dislike my accommodations?" he coughed. "They are temporary, you need not injure your noble eyes."
"No," Gwain said sadly. "You should not be here...with me."
"I want to be with you."
The Nightlock shook as he stood onto his legs, his body feeling frailer with every pump his heart made, pushing the blood through his body just quick enough to save him.
"If I was with you..." he panted, "We could be together again, whole in body and soul. I could abandon this hideous body. I could...be yours again...Gwain—"
A terrible pain wracked him and he fell to his side. Gwain reached for him and this time he felt nothing. He was going to make it.
"It is not your time beloved," Gwain said, tears gathering in his strange maroon eyes. "You have much work to do, much indeed. You will find those who love you as I loved you. You will find hope—"
"I will not. I have lost hope. No one gives me hope."
The image of the little girl flickered in his head for just a moment. From his partner's reaction he saw it.
"Interesting. You never lied to me in life."
The Nightlock grinned. "There is a time for everything it seems."
"I will be watching over you Illaria." Gwain kissed his head, and he appreciated the sentiment. The man he loved, the man exiled and turned into a Rovian creature. The man he had followed to hell and back. The only one he ever could.
"Promise me you will wait for me," Gwain said standing. "If I see you a minute before your time I will kill you deader than I am."
The Nightlock snorted. "Do not worry beloved. You have reminded me of what is important."
Gwain smiled to him and faded away like mist. The Nightlock closed his eyes.
"What were you?"
He opened an eye to see his caregiver. The basilisk had been his companion and protector since he returned to this wretched place. He was stretched on his side, watching him with curiosity, his large green eyes hypnotizing, a gaze that drew in weak, needy, prey.
What a gorgeous creature. He could almost hear Gwain cough to get his attention and point toward the basilisk's lack of...anatomy. He missed him.
"I was in love with an exile," he said bitterly.
"And you followed him."
"Until the bitter end."
The basilisk came forward with a moist cloth and put it on his temple. His feverish body cooled. Maybe he could get used to magic again, it did have its uses.
Then the basilisk looked into his eyes, no...deeper, he felt him search inside him, and for no reason allowed him. To his surprise he grinned.
"You have ssstrange tassste...it never bothered you?"
Illaria let out a loud laugh. "Of course it did. But you knew that didn't you noble one?"
Scallen smirked. "He wasss gone before hisss body died...Gwain became the beassst...and you remained hisss...?"
Illaria thought of the last time his love recognized him as him, and not as a Beta to be mounted. The snake was right. Though it had little impact on his decisions.
"Revenge will get you nowhere..."
"You need me for the girl don't you?" The Nightlock took a deep breath. It hurt less now.
"You wouldn't care for me otherwise. Revenge is why I shall. Without it, I will be useless to her."
"You are usselesss..." Scallen stood and walked away from him, his hissing laughter dancing on the wind after his departure. "...for now."
Illaria rolled his eyes. So dramatic, he must be old. He closed his eyes and dreamed Gwain was beside him. They made love on a bed of roses, each blood red petal falling from a slit in Creedon's neck.
You are mine CoCree.
He jerked awake.
You will always be mine.
"I'll kill you..."
His laughter filled his mind and he screamed into the sky.
Why do you want to find her so badly?
Zyra's mind echoed this question over and over.
Okay, so that's a lie. Even I know that's a lie.
Great. Then what isn't?
I want to find River.
Is that all?
She jumped over a root. Okay...it was the pool. Its allure was undeniable. She could see anything she wanted? In and out of the valley?
Zyra took a deep breath and stepped over a vine in her path. The yellow flowers were becoming harder to spot. She had to be close. Was she going to rough Nymare up for her perversions? Yes. But what then? If she could access the pool, what would she do?
What would she want to see?
"There you are!"
Zyra turned to see a disgruntled boar of an ogress charging for her. Her red hair was matted and filled with twigs. In fact, she was headed straight for the vine Zyra had stepped over.
"Don't you threaten me you pimifutta"!
Zyra opened her mouth to retort but crossed her arms instead and watched in delight as Mourabet face planted right into the dirt. Hard. She laid there face down, no doubt embarrassed.
"You deserved that," Zyra said. "You know you did."
Mourabet didn't respond. In fact, she wasn't moving.
"Shizu!" Zyra scrambled down and turned her over. Knocked out cold. The little idiot exhausted herself by wandering through the forest, insulted her, and then decided to pass out.
"Well, not my problem."
Zyra stood up and went back to the yellow flowers. Now, where was she...oh right, the deep meaning behind—
An image of Mourabet waking up surrounded by centaurs entered her mind. She paused. Mourabet would deserve it. Shoot, it might make her happier to have someone dote on her, who could stand her nagging. Maker knows River had probably run off to meet some girl she didn't approve of.
She took a step.
There were nymphs too. She wasn't sure Mourabet would like that either, waking up naked and forced to enjoy their...culture.
Zyra walked back to her, the short ogress' ample breasts rising and falling with each breath. Mourabet was too pretty to be left in a forest unguarded. She was still a woman, and Zyra knew she could not allow her to come to harm.
Zyra sat Mourabet up and tried to wake her by tapping her on her face. Nothing. She slapped her. Still nothing. At least she had gotten that out of her system.
Silently she rolled her up and onto her back. It took her a moment to steady herself. Mourabet was heavier than she looked. Mustering up her strength she continued on toward Nymare's pool.
Now...what did she really want?
She was confused.
She was more confused than she had ever been in her long life. Sure, she wasn't yet ten, but she was almost there, and mature for her age. Having lived almost a decade of life, Nima was sure she understood the world around her. Her mommy and auntie took care of her. She liked flowers. The huntresses protected the village. She was safe.
Since that time she'd become sick nothing was the same. She braided Ginger's unruly hair as the huntresses quizzed her on what to do in various survival situations, and Nima couldn't help but wonder.
Why could she talk?
She prayed to the Maker many times, and he finally granted those prayers. But why now?
She must have something important to say. She didn't know what, but she knew it had to be said. That it was there deep inside her. Something about Paj...about flowers.
"Ow! Not so hard Nima!"
"Sorry!" She loosened the braid and Enui teased Ginger for being sensitive to pain.
"So this is all another part of training?Enlisting a child to torment me. You big-breasted beast!"
"Don't think I won't hurt you just because you're going on a mission!"
"Enui, Ginger, stop it! We are adults, remember?"
Nima shook her head. They were all so silly sometimes. She looked to her mother who observed the scene with a detached grace, something she had once thought boring, but was becoming more and more admirable. Nima wished she had more friends.
"Almost done there squirt?"
Nima nodded and Ginger pulled her into her lap and started tickling her.
"You talk to me you hear! I want to hear a yes out of you dearest."
Nima held her stomach in glee when Ginger stopped, there was one last braid to be done.
"Mind your manners young lady."
Nima laughed. "Yes Ginger."
Nima wanted to be graceful, but she liked rolling around and getting dirty. She liked picking onions by the river like Zyra had taught her. She liked being able to beat up the boy who tugged her hair. Nima glanced at her mother and saw her delicate hands. No, she would not be her mother. She thought of her auntie getting in the faces of men with feral black paint of her face and shooting with such accuracy that she brought silence like rain. She would not be her auntie either.
Ginger ran her hands down her head and grinned.
Nima pulled back and looked over Ginger. She had been given huntress robes. They were snug in some places but she looked well. There was a nice knife on her hip. With the provisions on her shoulders and a cloak on her back, she looked rather official. Well, other than the blue embroidery she placed on the edges. But Ginger had already been yelled at for such unnecessary adornments.
Ginger tapped her nose and smiled. "I look good don't I kid?"
Nima nodded. "You look beautiful!"
"Why thank you," Ginger said dramatically. "I pride myself on looking great in anything. Do make sure to remember Nima that your body is your temple..." She lifted her up and gestured to the huntresses. "And people are peasants."
Nima chuckled and Kyzu stood unamused. "Would you mind not filling my child's mind with drivel?"
"You can share your love or be selfish with it, but everyone should worship you!" She lifted Nima high above her head and onto her shoulders. Nima shrieked as she turned her towards Rair.
Nima's eyes widened when Rair took a knee.
A chill ran through her tiny body as she saw how the huntress paid her respect. She'd never been bowed so deeply to.
"Humility!" Gharla said. She hurriedly lifted Rair to her feet. "That, is what maketh the woman."
She snatched Nima from Ginger. "Tell Rair thank you."
Nima smiled. "Thank you Rair. Your gift honors me."
Rair stood and Kyzu nodded approvingly. "Come my sweetling, let me teach you something."
"We've got to get moving." Gharla put her down and Ginger smiled at her.
"You're leaving so soon?"
"I'll be back even sooner," Ginger said smiling. She kissed her and Nima wrapped her arms around her neck. She pressed her face tight against her.
"Who will I play with?"
Ginger hugged her tighter. "Anyone you want to kid."
Kyzu stood, looking on at the relationship her sister and her friend had cultivated with her child. Now that they were gone maybe they could finally be closer. She was busy running a village, it wasn't her fault Nima wanted to run around instead of sit and embroider beside her.
"We will return after she is taken half-way to the border," Gharla said firmly. "We dare not journey far. While we are gone Imjah will keep the perimeter. Please stay close to your tent my Chieftess. We will be back soon."
"Let her go now Nima," Kyzu commanded.
The two were locked in tight embraces. Nima didn't budge, nor did Ginger.
"Nima...let her go."
"Just a second," she said squeezing. She pulled back just enough to look into Ginger's eyes.
"Bring back Auntie Zyra. Please."
Ginger kissed her forehead. "You got it."
"Don't make promises you can't keep," Kyzu snapped. She walked to her daughter and roughly scooped her up. Nima reached for Ginger again and she took a few steps back. "You may leave now."
"Yes Chieftess." Ginger bowed, aware of Kyzu's jealousy. She gave her a pointed look. "Take good care of her."
Kyzu's eyes widened in mortification. "Of course I will!"
Ginger nodded, and followed the huntresses into the woods. She was about to demand she come back to pay for her disrespect when Nima wriggled in her arms.
"Wait! I have to give you something!" Kyzu's arms shook as Nima squirmed to her shock she started to run after her. She grabbed her daughter, her eyes wide.
"Nima! Stop this nonsense!"
"But it's good luck!"
"Then give it to me and I'll give it to her when she comes back."
"No! It'll be too late then!"
"Nima give it to me."
"Mommy it's not for you!"
"She's getting away!"
"Give it to me!"
Kyzu snatched it from her and saw it was a four-leaf. To her utter shock Nima pulled away from her crying and ran into the village.
"Nima wait! Nima!"
Her daughter didn't stop. Kyzu's heart hurt.
No, this wasn't Ginger's fault. Or Zyra's. This was her own. She hadn't been the best mother. She would to change that. She looked at the flower and crushed it in her palm. She rubbed it on her forehead and bit the fourth leaf of the grass and ate. She needed more luck than Ginger by far.
Nima ran and ran until she slipped onto the dirt floor, her white dress staining horribly. She sat on her knees and clutching the ground she cried. It wasn't fair. Why did they have to leave her here?
As she bawled she was surprised when a hand landed on her shoulder. Looking up she saw it was a red-headed girl who would often stare at her but never speak.
"Whatcha crying for huh?"
Nima rubbed her face. "You wouldn't understand."
The girl crossed her arms. "Why not?"
"Cause you just can't okay?"
"Not okay." She put a hand out to her. "How old are you?"
"Well I'm 9 so that means you gotta listen to me cause I'm your elder."
"My name is Flameflower, but everyone calls me Flower. And you're Nima, the future Chieftess."
Nima wiped her face with her dress and stood up.
"Yeah? So what?"
"So..." Flower said as though it was obvious. "You can't just be out here by yourself. Especially after...well, you know. My sister Paj—"
"Your sister is...was, Paj?"
Flower nodded. "Uh yeah, and she's still my sister you know. Firetoucher's cousin. Can't you tell?" She pointed to her bright red hair.
Nima nodded. "Paj didn't talk to me much, but when she did she was always nice to me..."
Flower stared at the ground twisting her foot in the dirt. "My mother says I'm not allowed to talk to you."
"Cause I could get in trouble."
"Promise you won't tell on me?"
Nima wiped her eyes. "I promise."
Flower looked around for prying eyes and gestured for Nima to come closer. "Can I ask you a question?"
This seemed like a secret. Nima had never shared secrets before. "What is it?"
"You can't tell anyone. Not even your mother."
Nima hesitated, but nodded. "Come on, what is it?"
"You were the last to see my sister alive," Flower said stiffly. "There's a village girl that said she saw you riding on the back of a Nightlock, but when you ran in the village you were on foot. You said you don't remember anything that happened, but is it true? Do you really not remember what happened to my sister?"
Nima looked at the seriousness in the girl's eyes and felt bad. "No. When I try to remember, it hurts."
Flower reached up and put her hands on Nima's head. "Does it hurt when I touch it?"
"Then it's not real." Flower pointed to herself. "My cousin Firetoucher told me that there are two types of pain. Inside pain and outside pain. Outside pain needs medicine, but inside pain is fought inside. You have to make it stop hurting."
Flower was silent for a while then shook her head. "I don't know. Only Paj and Firetoucher knew."
"Firetoucher is missing too," Nima said sadly. "My auntie hasn't come back to the village either."
"My cousin isn't missing. She's taking her baby to the place—"
Flower gasped and plugged her mouth. Her eyes were wide with panic.
Flower grabbed Nima's mouth and crouched into her. "No matter what you can't say anything. You promised! Do you swear! Swear on your death arrows?"
Nima nodded. The nine-year old released her and began to whisper. "Firetoucher is going to where they say Zyra is. She's going to ask her to hide her and the baby from that big fat Ursie loser Hanto!"
"Really?" Nima was glad to hear that. She thought the baby was really cute for a boy. Though if she ever saw Firetoucher again that meant she'd been caught and the boy would be taken away.
"She said when her baby was safe she'd come back for me, and we'd both live together."
"What about your mother?"
"What about my mother?" Flower said frowning. "All she does in gossip and try to have more kids when she totally can't anymore. My sister took care of me. Like the lead huntress took care a' you. I noticed. Now that she's gone..." Flower's eyes misted over, but she sniffled up her tears.
Nima gave her a hug and Flower let herself cry. She patted her back, and felt awful that she couldn't offer the girl more.
"Do you miss her?"
The question was directed to Nima.
"Yes. A lot." Nima let out a few tears of her own.
"Me too," Flower sniffed. "My sister I mean."
They cried until their tears dried up, then stood in silence, twisting and looking at each other.
Flower screwed up her mouth. "So...what do we do now?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, we hugged and stuff. So we're friends right?"
Nima's lips quivered with hope. "Want...want to gather onions by the river?"
Flower wrinkled her nose. "What for?"
"Don't onions make your breath stinky?"
"If we get them, will we eat em?"
Flower took her hand, and she and Nima raced toward the river.
"Yes my lord?"
"How close is the ogre?"
"About a day's march my lord."
Creedon smiled as Henna stumbled over the new title. Yes, he was indeed a lord. It was a stepping stone to becoming King he'd said, to ruling over his oppressors, to becoming their god.
The dark beauty looked at him, her eyes wide as a doe.
"If I were a god, do you suppose I'd be a kind god, or a vengeful god?"
Henna looked at his unreadable face, trying her best to anticipate his desired response. She could find nothing.
"I suppose...it would depend on the person."
Creedon laughed joyously. "Oh you are a funny one! You company is most welcome."
Henna blushed, her master's smile highlighting his young attractive features. It was his eyes that showed how old he was, how long he had taken breath upon the earth.
"Henna my dear, what a pretty color you've turned." Creedon strode up to her, clasping her face gently. "Well, well, have I brought you discomfort dear one?"
"No my lord."
Creedon smiled. "Good. I would hate to know that you would lie unblushingly with a beast, and would shy from your master's touch...I am your master, aren't I?"
Henna tried her best to ignore the sinister glimmer in his eyes and nodded.
Creedon went to his things and unfurled a piece of paper. Henna looked on with wonder and he remembered that his kind had banned all form of writing as a way of punishment. It was funny, without it the humans would never advance, and here he was parading the precious object like a walking stick. He'd made it from one of the Rovian trees. It was primitive, but strong enough for him to use. Breathing deeply he closed his eyes and envisioned the Rovian lands.
He bit a finger, the blood beading up, and pressed it into the fibers. He could feel Henna's eyes drinking him in and sighed. He hoped she didn't ask any question. His blood began to spread among the paper, and he opened his eyes to see red lines pouring in. Perfect. When the red lines settled he had himself a very nice map, the only map, of the Rovian lands. This was to be his base of operations after all. He wanted the home front advantage, and he would have it. But first, a little help.
"I need you to fetch me something Henna."
Henna closed her gaping mouth and nodded. "Yes my lord."
He noted she hadn't bowed. Scared to look away lest he bleed her next? The fool.
"Tell me, if we had to choose someone from your village for our cause, who would you choose?"
The human girl gave him a rare look of displeasure, but masked it swiftly.
"The Rovians are not worthy of your love my lord. I know none who would defect to our cause, nor be useful to—"
"I didn't ask for your objections Henna, only your opinions."
In a show of defiance the girl stiffened her lip and shook her head. "I would choose no one my lord."
Creedon laughed. So this is what his kindness had brought him. She was spoiled.
"No one? Is that your answer?"
"Yes, my lord."
Creedon walked up to her and took her chin, his smile pressed into his face.
"You live to please me, don't you Henna? For your glorious revenge."
Before Henna could nod again, he pulled her in so fast she shrieked. The witch's cool hand trailed from her face, down to the side of her body, and she froze when she felt him traced the curves of her backside.
"You know Henna, I've gathered much energy whilst being here, but transforming you taxes me so. Wouldn't it be logical for you to give some of that energy back?"
He could feel her shaking, see the wheels in her eyes turning, trying to find a way out. "My lord, ...wouldn't that expend energy? I..."
"You don't know what I'm thinking."
His eyes turned deadly and Henna recoiled, feeling her dread grow.
"All I want from you is to...well..." He tossed his hair back and with his free hand unloosened his robe. "I suppose I could show you."
Before she could scream, Henna was against the cave wall, her arms above her head and her legs spread without his direct touch. He looked her over, his hands folded. Then he gently tugged her clothes and they came off without resistance, whole, and fell to the floor.
This terrified her. She tried to scream, to cry out, but the more she tried to protest, the more her words were swallowed.
He kissed her and a cool energy spread through her. She felt her body melting with just the touch of Creedon's lips.
Was this his power?
A warmth suddenly curled inside her, circling her nipples, stroking her wettening lips. The change in sensations, the heat and frost. He pulled back, and she felt intoxicated.
Creedon cracked his knuckles and inserted one finger inside of her. She shrieked as he immediately located her pleasure spot, and began to stroke at it undeterred by her struggling.
"Oh! Maker, st-sto..."
"Come now Henna. I haven't touched a woman in years...well, not the way I'll touch you. I'm out of practice no doubt...but if you protest so you'll certainly hurt my feelings."
Creedon dug two more fingers inside. Henna convulsed and he chuckled, kissing her again to slip his tongue into her mouth and push her over the edge. She shuddered silently, and spilled over his hand. Her eyes rolled in the back of her head.
"So much Henna. Didn't your ogre pet fuck you?"
He pulled his soaked fingers out, his hand slick. Slowly, carefully, he put a hand beside her head and pressed his face against her ear.
"Do you know why I'm doing this Henna?"
Henna shook her head, tears collecting at the corners of her eyes.
"No, Master I—"
"Yes. Yes, you do."
Creedon reached to the front of his robes and for the first time she saw him disrobe. He was a vision, every inch of his frame lithe muscle carved from alabaster. His body made her salivate, something she tried to ignore because her fear of him was greater. He was too beautiful, too cruel. When she closed her eyes, his fine chiseled chest laid in wait behind her eyelids.
"Not a bad image to be burned in your eyelids huh my dear? Oh yes, I can see. I miss, nothing."
He rolled her hard nipples between his fingers.
"Where were we...? Oh, I was explaining why. Well, I like pleasure that's no lie, but more importantly, I need your loyalty Henna. You are a cute girl, and your search for revenge...I empathize, but I need more Henna. I need your body, heart, and soul."
He pressed his member against her opening and Henna cried out for mercy, her soft bottom scraping the cool cave walls as she tried to escape, the pain heightening her senses.
"We both know your soul needs searching for, and your heart belongs to the ogre, or whatever fantasy you've conjured up. Perhaps it belongs to Zyra."
"Quiet, she's a looker."
"Mercy my lord! Mer—"
"Enough whimpering." Creedon released her breasts and spread her pulsing lips to his throbbing member. "We both know what you mean by mercy." Creedon grinned, his body humming. It had been too long indeed. "So as I was saying before you rudely interrupted me! I'll settle for your body then."
He lifted her legs and began to sink inside her, inch by painful inch. Creedon was thick. Too thick, she felt him filling her more than any man she'd ever allowed inside her. It hurt so good.
"Master!...Master!" Henna shook her head but could only sob tears of frustration towards the uncontrolled pleasure he gave her.
"Your body does most of the work anyway," Creedon grunted. "I don't care what you think. I don't care what you feel. All I want, is for you to understand something very clear."
Creedon lifted her legs up in his arms. "When I say give me a name, I want a name."
He tilted her and began to fuck her. Her body surrendered to the rough onslaught, knowing resistance could only bring pain. He was killing her. He was giving her life. He was pulsating inside her, getting deeper as she howled, her back arching forward allowing him to suck her pebbled nipples with abandon. Shocked, she came again, immediately trying to escape the intensity of his friction against her aching pussy, but he would not yield. Creedon kept going to the point of discomfort, and continued until her pain was pleasure again and again until her pleasure was pain.
So the cycle went on, as Creedon spoke to her pleasantly, repeating, "When I say give me a name, I want a name," and making her cum endlessly, fucking her senselessly.
When she could do nothing but take it, he spoke very slowly to her, very softly so she would hear. His hips were wet with her juices.
"If you ever, want to feel this pleasure again, you will have to come to me. Your body is ruined for all other men. No one knows you like I do. No one can make you feel this way but me. If you ever want to feel such delights again, you will obey me without question, or I will toss you back to the Rovians and to your dull useless life so you can live out your days in self-hatred and pity. Is that clear?"
Henna opened her eyes, her body exhausted and yet...awakened. Nothing could make her feel such bliss. Not meditation or training, nor sex or sleep. This was the source of good. Creedon was good and evil.
Creedon was her god.
"Yes my lord."
"Yes what, Henna?"
"Yes, I will obey you without question. I am yours to use as you see fit."
"I wasn't asking you that, clever girl."
Creedon freed her from the wall and she fell bonelessly into his arms. He placed her gently on his bed, and flipped her over to her stomach. Her pussy sung."
"Yes to what, Henna? Tell me what you've learned."
"Yes more, my lord. Please give me more."
Creedon smiled. Studying nymphs in academy had been a great asset. Their ability to tap into the most primal of instincts was always a gift.
"More what, Henna?"
She whined and spread her legs. "More of you. Inside me. I'll do anything..."
Creedon stroked her hair and gave her a soft kiss. "What a sweet girl."
Then he lifted her onto her knees and violated her. Henna clasped his furs and ascended into a blur of ecstasy that ended with a scream in the darkness.
When she awoke she was in her sleeping furs, and Creedon was fixing the sleeves of his robe. She leaned up, her body humming with a peace she had never know.
He looked to her and slowly gave her a slow smile. "How do you feel?"
Henna smiled. "Master..."
"Call me Creedon. For now."
Henna's eyes glistened in afterglow, and her lips trembled with excitement. "I feel...reborn, Creedon."
He chuckled. "Good. I'm glad you enjoyed that. I was worried for a moment you weren't."
Creedon ran a hand through his fair hair and looked at the crystal in the center of his cave. It hummed with power, but not enough. Not enough for his plans. Not enough for everything.
"I need you to do something for me Henna." The crystal hummed and glowed a brighter green as the face of the huntress he had killed became visible.
Henna grabbed her clothes. "Anything."
He spread his fingers and the image floated into his hand. As the image wavered between her life and death, Creedon beckoned Henna forward and pressed the image against her forehead. Her eyes glowed as information magically zipped through her mind.
"You remember Paj, don't you? She helped me out and for that I am grateful. In fact, I am so grateful, I want you to bring her back. Things have been so lonely since CoCree went on his special mission."
"What do you mean bring her back?"
"Look into your mind."
Henna saw images zipping by of the two arrows from Paj's funeral.
"Retrieve them for me. Bring those here."
Henna's pleasure curbed as she thought of what that would mean. Desecrating the remains of her fellow huntress. Possibly cursing her own soul in the process. When this was over, who would she have left to light the arrows, to guide her out of the In-between?
"Bring those, and I will reward you. Fail..." He walked to her and whispered in her ear. "...and I will never touch you again."
The fear was greater than death. She realized now, Creedon had brought the In-between to the land of the living. Without him, she would already be trapped there. He was her arrow.
"I will Creedon."
She pulled on her clothes and began tugging her boots when Creedon stilled her. He kissed lightly on her lips. Even that light touch made her body remember how good he had made her feel. Creedon always kept his word. He had given her Kail, and she would have him when this was over. But maybe as a slave. The ogre was but a trifle. She could have anyone, Hanto, Rell, even Kyzu on her knees suckling at her core. Maybe Creedon was evil, but all she had to do was obey. How could anyone resist?
"I will Creedon..." she cooed. She kissed him back and he grinned.
"Good girl. Now call me Master."
This is the 30th chapter, aka our 30th anniversary. Give me something nice won't you ^_^
This was a sexy chapter to pump out, hope you all liked it! Things are about to get complicated!
The comment hungry,
Jul 17, 2018 in romance