Queen Yavara: Chapter 21
I feel obligated to say that there is disturbing content in this chapter, though you probably guessed that already if you read the last chapter. This one isn’t for the squeamish, but of course, you sick puppies already read about Leveria torture-raping her own mother before having her publicly executed, so maybe the warning’s unnecessary. Leave comments!
The drip of water, the howl of wind. The cold on my naked body.
One breath, then another. That was what Adarian taught me so long ago.
The room was lit by a barred window. It cast a dim ray onto my body, centering my exposed belly with a square of light. I was strapped to a wooden board in my cell, my limbs stretched in a spread-eagle, open and helpless. The binds were unescapable, I knew, for I’d placed many beasts in them myself. Only for them, the worst interrogation practice had been waterboarding, and that would be the best of it for me. If I was lucky. I wasn’t under ranger jurisdiction anymore. I’d been handed off to the royal guard. I felt a sudden surge of panic, and my limbs flexed against the board, my teeth gritting to suppress my shriek of terror. One breath, then another. I brought myself back into my mind, and felt the mania ebb from me, but not the dread. I knew what was going to happen.
I am going to be tortured. I thought rationally, They aren’t going to stop when I scream, or when I spill every secret, or when I beg for death. They aren’t going to stop until there’s nothing left.
My mind raced with the possibilities, each one darker than the last. Was it the pain that terrified me the most, or the mutilation? The mutilation. Each smash of the hammer, each grind of the saw, each cut of the knife would remove more than just flesh and bone. No more playing the violin, no more drawing a bow, no more making love, no more running, no more walking, no more standing, no more tasting, no more seeing. Another wave of panic gripped me, my blood running cold, my heart pounding against my chest until I thought it would explode! One breath, then another. I looked at the ceiling, and saw my reflection in the body-length mirror that was secured to the rafters.
“If you knew this is where you’d end, would you have stayed with her?” I asked myself. My voice echoed with the drip of water, the howl of the wind.
“But this is not where you end, Elena. This is where you begin.” A soft voice answered. My breath caught. I looked up, and there were a pair of blue eyes staring at me from the cell door, rimmed with black liner above ebony lips. The door creaked open, and Queen Leveria Tiadoa walked in. She was encased in leather, her blonde hair in a ponytail, her gloved hand holding a velvet box. She shut the door behind her with a clang, then walked toward me. Click, click, click, went her heels on the stone floor, the rub of leather sounding between her thighs, the tinkling of her hooped earrings. She stopped before me, and set her box down. Her eyes took in every inch of my splayed body, a wild, hungry glint in their sapphire depths.
“Amazing.” She said with a hushed voice. She looked me in the eye, “It is amazing what my sister has done to you. When Adarian told me what you’d become, I pictured a freak show, but the elegance…” Leveria’s heels clicked as she walked around me, “you’re not an abomination, but something new and beautiful. Yavara has transformed you. I wish to do the same.” She stopped on my other side, then reached across me, and opened her velvet box. Little mechanical shelves unhinged and sprouted, displaying a shining cutlery set, the gleaming edges honed to a deadly sliver. “Elena, I know we never saw eye to eye, but I truly want us to start anew.” She brought her lips to my ear, “I’m so glad we have this opportunity.”
“I bet you are.” I hissed, a droplet of sweat rolling down my forehead.
“I see the feeling is not mutual,” Leveria chuckled, “and I got all dressed up just for you.”
“I would have put on something more suitable if I’d known I’d be visited by royalty.”
“You’re fine the way you are.” Leveria smiled as she reached into her box, and pulled out a purple syringe.
“It won’t work on me.” I said, watching her lower the needle to my crotch.
“Oh?” Leveria paused, “and why’s that?”
“I’ve built up an immunity.”
Leveria’s smile turned crooked. “An immunity to pussy? You’ve been busy.” She pushed the needle into my cock, and I seized, swallowing the scream. I felt the pressure of the injection, the sublimation of aphrodisiac in my loins, and my cock engorged with blood, curving backward as it rose. Leveria watched it with fascination, then looked into my eyes, and frowned. She withdrew the needle, and my erection deflated. “That is… disappointing.”
“This never happens to me, I swear!” I croaked.
Leveria narrowed her eyes at me, then broke into a wide grin. “Elena, you’ve grown a sense of humor!”
“Where? Oh god! Doctor, tell me it’s benign!”
Her smile curled wickedly. “It’s a small growth, but it needs to be removed.” She wrapped one gloved hand around my cock, and reached into her box with the other. She pulled out a pair of snippers, and snapped the blades together for effect. Cold terror enveloped me, seizing my limbs in a petrified lock of joints, my ankles and wrists rubbing raw against the shackles. My eyes widened as she stretched my cock with one hand, and opened the blades with the other. I wanted to beg and scream, but the gears of my mind were locked in panic. The curved edges of the snippers were serrated and cruel, the teeth sharpened to jagged points. Their polished reflection showed the full length of my manhood as they came around my base, and opened wider, poised to snap shut. My flesh crawled, my eyes bulged in their sockets, the acrid taste of bile surged in my throat. “This is the worst happy ending ever.” Someone said from somewhere. Wait, I said it.
Leveria paused, and blinked. She looked confused for a second. Then she pitched forward in an explosion of laughter, collapsing atop me, the snippers clattering to the floor. The sound that came from her was high and girlish, almost innocent in its purity. “Oh my god!” She cried as she raised her head, tears streaking down her face.
I knew I was only delaying the inevitable, but I felt the relief nonetheless. In that moment, I was still whole, and despite my terror -perhaps because of it-, I laughed with Leveria. It was manic and shrill, nearly a scream in its pitch. And when it started, I couldn’t stop. I laughed until my belly ached, my chest burned, and my throat went hoarse, and Leveria laughed with me like we were old friends, our voices mingling in their dank air. Then the sound waned, and I took one breath, and then another.
Leveria was watching me, her face flushed with mirth, a warm smile on her black lips. “I enjoy you, Elena.” She said, the echoes of laughter still on her voice, “It’s a rare person who can bring levity to grave situations.” She gave me a guilty look, “I envy the ability. People are always walking on eggshells around me, and sometimes I wish I could just alleviate the tension. My father could always put people at ease, but I…” Leveria sighed, “I only make them more nervous when I try to be nice.”
“You don’t say?”
Leveria laughed again, slapping my thigh playfully. “See? Like that. How do you do it so effortlessly?”
“It can only be done effortlessly.” I said, my mind racing for things to keep Leveria distracted for a few more precious moments.
“Ah, and I’m always such a try-hard.” Leveria shook her head, “I’ve spent so much time with the Noble Court that conversation has become combat for me. Every word is a weapon, and every sentence is an attack! Oh, it’s exhausting!” Leveria looked fondly at me, “You know, I think I was almost as nervous as you were when I came down here.”
I gave her a flat stare, and she screwed her face up in a grin, then burst into a fit of giggles. “Well,” she said, wiping her eye, “maybe not, but I did have butterflies. I couldn’t…” she grasped at the air like there was something there, “I couldn’t become me. I felt like an actor before, but now…” She smiled warmly, “now I can be myself. Thank you, Elena.”
“I aim to please.”
“As do I.” Leveria’s black lips creased maleficently, and my heart sank. My time was up. She reached down, and grabbed the snippers from the floor. Snipping them in her hands, she circled me, assessing my body. “It would be a shame to remove your source of humor when it gives you such character.” She pondered my penis, then moved her eyes to my left nipple, “Do we start by defeminizing you, or perhaps defacing?” She considered my face with a curious expression, “No… no, that would ruin you too early. Hmph. Well, isn’t this an odd quandary?”
“You could always let me go.”
Leveria giggled and flicked my nipple, apparently quite amused by my ‘joke.’ “I thought I knew what I wanted!” She lamented to the ceiling, her arms outstretched, “Ah, but the best laid plans are flexible ones.” She dropped her arms to her side, and smiled at me. “The game is still the same; I am going to cut a piece off you every day, then I’m going to leave. Once you’ve accustomed yourself to the new reality, I will come back the next day, and do it again.” She crouched so that her face was a few inches from mine, and she stroked my cheek with the back of her hand, “I was going to start with your cock, then your nipples, then your nose, then your ears. When I was done with your face, I was going to remove your eyelids and put your head in clamps so that you had to look at yourself.” She gestured to the mirror above, “I wanted to break you early, you understand. After that, I’d do your fingers and toes, and work my way in.” She pinched my cheek, and wrinkled her nose, “But I didn’t anticipate actually liking you!”
“I’m sorry for spoiling the party.” I said, my mouth void of moisture. I tried to keep my face impassive, but I couldn’t control the film of cold sweat that had formed over my body. Leveria wasn’t going to do me in one day, or even a week; it was going to be months. Months of lying strapped to a table while I watched myself become less with each day. Twenty-three hours of dread and misery followed by one hour of sheer horror and agony. The thought burrowed its way into my mind just as Leveria’s eyes lit up, “I know!” She said with a wide grin, “I’ll let you choose!”
Leveria stood up, proffering the snippers. “What part of Elena Straltaira do you like the least?”
I gaped at her. “My toenails could use a trim.”
Leveria giggled again, her face rosy with mirth. “Be reasonable, Elena. If you don’t make the choice, then I will.”
I gulped, and looked at my body. I never realized before how precious every part of me was, how everything fit perfectly together to complete the puzzle. No matter what I chose, I would forever notice its absence. Leveria clicked her snippers impatiently, and I cleared my throat. “Second toe on the right foot. It curves over one of my other toes; it always bothered me.”
“This one?” Leveria said, gently separating the toe from its companions, “It does kind of bend at a weird angle.”
“It’s a bitch to walk on.”
“Well, just lie back, and let Doctor Leveria Tiadoa assist you with that.” She whispered, her voice edging. She pulled the toe backward, remarkably tender in her movements. One breath, then another. She brought the snippers around the toe, then frowned, shook her head subtly, and changed the angle. One breath, then another. Her hands were shaking, sweat ran from her brow. She wiped her face with her sleeve, and refocused. She seemed unsure. “Forgive me, Elena.” She said, giving me a bashful expression, “This is my first time doing anything like this.”
“Maybe surgery’s not your calling.” I tried to keep the desperation out of my voice, tried to seem like the calming presence.
“You really are a funny one.” Leveria giggled, her posture loosening, her tremulous hands relaxing, “You know, I tortured my mother the same way I did Prestira. Sexual deprivation, humiliation, and pain, but nothing permanent on the flesh. I wanted to break their souls, but you… you, I want to keep as you are for a long time. I hope your spirit is strong enough.” She took a deep breath, then smiled broadly at me. She squeezed the handles. The first thing I felt was a piercing cold, like my foot had been dipped in an ice bath. Then, the pain. The serrated teeth bit into the flesh, the jagged edges sawed through the tendons, rending the taut sinew. I screamed, thrashing in my binds, my vision blurring, my heart galloping in my ears. Leveria rotated the blades, cutting a circular path all the way around, exposing the white bone beneath the layers of red meat, the stringing tendons snapping like lute strings back into my foot. My vocal chords ruptured with my shriek, the iron taste of blood in my mouth. Then I felt the cold against my bone, scraping, biting, sawing deeper, deeper, deeper, oh god! Then, nothing. Just a horrible throb in my foot, and the caress of cool air where I should never have felt it.
“WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR MEDICAL DEGREE?!” I shrieked through my agony, my straightened leg bouncing with the spasms that wracked it, my remaining toes curling near to cracking.
Leveria held my severed toe in her gloved hand. She stared from it, to me. Her sapphire eyes were wild, her cheeks were flushed, her breathing was heavy and tense, her bodice heaving with it. Her hands shook with adrenaline as she dropped the snippers into the box with a metallic clang, then struggled to place my toe into a velvet pouch. She looked at me as though to speak, but her trembling lips couldn’t form the words. She brought her palsying fingers together, and tore her bloody gloves off. Then she knocked her box off the board, and crawled atop me, moving like an animal, her eyes staring from their black rings, hungry, manic. I barely had time to register what was happening before Leveria dipped her head between my legs, and enveloped my flaccid cock in her black lips.
I gasped. Her tongue was a wet pillow that curled along my underside, the tip caressing me like a beckoning finger as her lips sucked generously, their black sheened surfaces moist and pliant against me. My mind seemed to rend with the sudden contrast of sensation, the synapses stuck between agony and pleasure, torture and lust. Leveria watched me intently, her leather clad shoulders hunching as she slurped upon me, squelching noises emanating from her sealed lips. I couldn’t stop myself. I got hard. I got harder than I’d been for Sherok, for Prestira, for Destiny, for Diamond, for Sapphire, for Onyx, for Ruby, for Crystal and for Opal. Harder than I’d ever been for Yavara. My entire body seemed to pull into my loins, the sensation bursting from the thinning skin, the veins pulsing. And oh, she was soft and hot, wet and tight, her vacuumed lips taking me into her swallowing throat, her tender esophagus closing around me, pulling me deeper. There was no malevolence in her eyes, no cruelty, but only a yearning for me. She splayed her delicate fingers about my pelvis, framing my base with her pressing thumbs, and she sucked me like I’d never been sucked before. Her tongue slithered along me with each pass, wrapping me in a serpentine undulation of wetness, massaging the tension as her lips pulled so tightly. The point of her nose turned down with the stretching of her muzzle, her cheeks becoming gaunt to highlight their extravagant structure. And her eyes, those sapphires that seemed to burn like cobalt flame, rimmed with black liner like coal. The throbbing in my foot seemed to vanish. I became aware that I was moaning. Moaning for her, and oh god, I couldn’t stop! I called her name in the throes of ecstasy, my eyes filmed with tears, my mind hinging on every sensation delivered to my paper-thin flesh. I felt one hand slide from my pelvis and trail between my legs, and the fingers there forked to press questioningly against my nethers.
“Yes!” I screamed, unable to deny my desires. She pushed two fingers into my slit, and two into my anus, and my holes sucked her in greedily, the tender flesh therein embracing her. She kneaded my feminine parts with trepidation, experienced, but very aware of her inexperience. It didn’t matter. My senses were heightened to a state I’d never known before, and every gentle press of her fingertips sent my insides into a chaos of convulsion. She buried herself to the bottom knuckle, and slowly moved in and out, making me feel her penetration anew each time, my pussy drooling and spurting my gelatinous nectar, my sphincter closing behind her exiting tips just to be opened again, each violation a celebration of sensation, my pelvic floor flexing in spasms of delight. But it was her mouth that captured me, her black lips ringed around my dark throbbing meat, her alabaster flesh ruby with her exhilaration. She began to hum lecherous moans around me, her hips twisting behind her, her leather-clad glutes bulging in their constraints. She worked my shaft to a fervor, her head bobbing up and down, her humming pitch rising, her brows knitting together. Her platinum pony tail flailed behind her as she plunged again, and again, and again, her fingers moving in accordance with her mouth, raping me, but oh, how could I call it such?! For I wasn’t moaning, but crying out, my mouth a smiling oval of sexual awe, tears of ecstasy streaking down my cheeks. Sounds like muffled screeches were emanating from her seal, and I could see in her possessed eyes that she was coming with me, aroused to the point that she could orgasm without even touching herself. With a final plunge of her lips and fingers, I screamed to the ceiling, seeing my reflection above, seeing her black-leathered body feeding from me like a lioness over downed prey. Then the visage blurred in my breaking euphoria, and I arched against the spread of my limbs, and came into Leveria’s mouth. She collapsed atop me, her body trembling, my eroticizing nectar pumping down her constricting gullet. My feminine holes contracted in orgasm, and I sobbed as she sucked me dry, swallowing all that I had to offer.
We lay there in the dark cell, a square of sunlight shining from the basement window, framing Leveria’s face as she slowly withdrew. My cock popped from her mouth, sheened black with her smeared lipstick. She licked me from base to tip, and when she met my apex, her eyes focused. Her demeanor changed. She looked suddenly very uncomfortable, and she awkwardly shifted off me. I was more than uncomfortable. I had been raped in the worst way. For in that moment of climax, I wasn’t terrified, or disgusted, or even ashamed. I was only… but I wouldn’t dare think it. Leveria picked up her box, then turned around. She looked like she would say something, but when her eyes met mine, she averted them quickly. She swallowed, then walked out of the room. The door clanged shut, and I was left alone. The drip of water, the howl of the wind, the horrible throbbing in my foot coming back to me. But all I could think about, was her.
“…of course, we all want a quick end to this war,” Lord Ternias said grandly on the floor of the Noble Court, “but there are those amongst us that have a vested interest in prolonging it. Families with strong military ties stand to profit immensely from a drawn-out effort.”
“Are you implying that the crown seeks to enrich itself, Lord Ternias?” I asked with a wry smile, and gestured to my husband seated beside me, “My husband’s uncle is a general, yes, but his salary is fixed, and the military expenditures are open for all here to see. Have I not been transparent?”
“You have, my queen, and I don’t mean to implicate you,” Ternias said with an amicable smile, “but it’s not embezzlement that has some of us worried.”
“Ah, ‘some of us.’” I chuckled, “The notorious silent majority for which you always seem to speak. What a champion for the downtrodden aristocracy you are, Lord Ternias.”
Ternias inclined his head in a teasing bow. “I am but a humble mouthpiece, my queen, here to speak for those of us too intimidated by your beauty to give voice in this noblest of courts.”
I chuckled at that. Lord Lucas Ternias was always a valued enemy. If I could string him up by his guts, I would in an instant, but I would lament the passing of his wit. Few could match me in the art of politics, and Ternias matched me blow for blow. He was the most powerful noble by far, but he expertly underplayed his hand, never sticking his neck out far enough for me to chop it off. I wished I could’ve married him instead of Eric, for we would’ve made an unstoppable pair. Unfortunately, we were just too much alike, and would’ve assassinated each other on our own wedding night.
“No,” Ternias continued, “the grievance of those concerned is that the military has grown too large, and so has given a disproportionate level of influence to military families. Will these families vote to disband such a force after the war is over? Why would they? It would go against their interest. When the Great Forest is divided, how will a mercantile family be able to hold their claim against a family with five fully-armed regiments?”
“The military is a national entity, and not beholden to noble families.”
“Of course, of course!” Ternias said with a wide smile, “But you see, the army is divided into houses -a necessary structure of a feudal system, of which I will not protest-, but this leads to a sense of… oh, I don’t want to say ‘tribalism,’ but ‘fierce loyalty’ might work. My queen, it is easy for a soldier to claim he is a ‘knight of the Highlands’ when the enemy is amassing in the Great Forest, but when the war is done, and we relax into the pleasant divisions of peace, that same knight might call himself a ‘knight of Shordian House.’ And thus, lies the crux of the problem.”
It wasn’t lost on anyone that Ternias had decided to use my husband’s surname as an example. I eased back in my throne, contemplating the self-satisfied nobleman. The Noble Court was smaller than the palace, but not by much. The hall in which politics took place was a cavernous atrium ornamented in baroque splendor. The noble men and women of the ten major houses sat in the very back, and directed the lesser houses to the forefront like pawns. I could tell just by the posture of those in the front few rows that Ternias had the votes he needed. The tally I’d ascertained the night before was folly; I’d been fed a lie to be made to look the fool. I suspected as much; Lady Catherine Jonias was a poor player of the game. I connected eyes with her across the room, seeing her in the shadows from which she directed her side of the chess board. I watched the realization dawn on her face, and I saw her shrink into her chair. I smirked at her, then at Ternias.
“I agree whole-heartedly.” I proclaimed, watching Ternias’s jaw twitch in its fixed smile, “And effective immediately, I am issuing a decree to nationalize our forces. The Highland army is the Highland army, and must remain as such lest we let avarice drag us into civil war.” My smile broadened, “Will that satisfy ‘some of us,’ Lord Ternias?”
Ternias grimaced. “Should we convene tomorrow when you have a candidate to head the oversight committee?”
“No need to wait.” I said, then gestured across the room, “I nominate Lady Catherine Jonias to head the committee.” I watched her go pale, then turned back to Ternias, “I am sure she will do a wonderful job.”
Ternias bowed, and tipped his metaphorical cap. Well played, my queen. The gesture seemed to say.
The court adjourned soon after, and I beckoned Eric to go frolic with the nobles and smooth the edges of the day’s battle. Lady Jonias couldn’t leave fast enough, and Ternias made a point of lingering. I turned to leave out the door behind the throne, when a familiar face stopped me.
“My queen?” Lady Lydia Straltaira said, standing before the twin thrones. She was the last person I wanted to see, but she was a force in the Noble Court I couldn’t ignore.
“Yes?” I inquired.
“I would like to speak privately with you, if I could.” She said. I inclined my head to the door only royalty could use, and she walked up the steps, and followed me through the exit. The next room was a modest parlor, one that I would use to prepare myself in the mirror before going to battle. I gestured for Lady Straltaira to sit, but I remained standing.
“What is it you wish to speak of, my lady?” I asked, folding my arms before my chest.
She studied me, noting without fail the position I’d put her in. She was no fool. She eased into the chair, accepting her role. “Are the rumors about my daughter true?”
“What rumors are these?”
“I’d prefer not to play your games outside of the court, Your Highness.” She replied with just the right amount of respect and contempt.
My lip curled. “There are many rumors regarding Elena. Which one do you speak of?”
She narrowed her eyes. “Is it true that she’s a traitor, or is it true that she is dead?”
I pondered her for a moment, my hand resting on my chin. I could still smell her daughter on my fingers, and savored immensely the scent lingering in my nostrils. Elena was my secret, something precious, something to be kept hidden in the darkest corner of my life. Secrets spilled like water from a sieve in the Noble Court. Lydia Straltaira was an old-guard conservative, a staunch ally of the throne, and a well-versed player in the court. Admitting Elena was a traitor to her would be like announcing it on the floor of the court, for she would not trust me to keep the secret, nor would she dare continue to operate as a stateswoman when such a volatile truth could blow up in her face at any time. She would resign, and with no heirs to claim the Straltaira seat, I would have to fight Lord Ternias to replace it with a sycophant. Still, news of Elena’s death might break the stone woman, and that would ultimately lead to the same outcome. I bit my lip, and made my decision.
“You know that my father sent Elena on a mission to find my sister before we learned of Yavara’s treachery.” I said, “Well, Elena found her.”
“I surmised that much. Is she a traitor, or a corpse?”
“Your daughter is a staunch patriot.” I said with hushed gravity, splaying my hands, “After my coronation, I received an encrypted letter from her. She’d contacted Yavara, and had infiltrated her inner-circle.”
Her jaw clicked open. “Elena is a spy?!”
I glanced nervously at the door, then put my finger over my lips. “She is operating in the deepest cover. You must understand, my lady, this is all I can tell you.”
“Is it true that she’s changed?” Lady Straltaira pressed with urgency, “Is she like… like her?!”
I sighed, and gave her a pitiable expression. “Your daughter has made great sacrifices for her country, and we will honor them when it is time for her to come home. What has been done to her is horrible, but she is, and will ever be, the best of us.”
“You’re saying that my daughter is a dark-elf?” Lady Straltaira said quietly.
I nodded solemnly, watching her expression turn to stone. It was what I expected. The lie would keep her from resigning her family’s seat, but the truth would all but kill Elena in her eyes. I could’ve said Elena was the Holy Mother reborn, but as long as Elena was dark, she was as good as dead to Lydia Straltaira. It was just as well; the steadfast traditionalist had all but disavowed her only daughter when she joined the rangers and effectively ended the line of Straltaira. This just allowed her to put the final nail in the coffin, and to add the word ‘hero’ on the gravestone. I stood up, and turned to leave.
“Wait!” Lady Straltaira said. I turned around to see her proffering a necklace. “Give this to her, if you can. Tell her… tell her I’m proud.”
I took the pearl necklace, trying to hide my surprise. There were tears brimming in Lydia’s eyes. I clasped the necklace, and offered her a promising smile. “If I can, I will, Lady Straltaira.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.” She said quietly, “You are an honorable woman.” Then she wiped her eyes, and left with her head held high.
I was standing before the mirror again, naked in my wardrobe. The leather one-piece was discarded on the ground. It didn’t feel right today. I needed something… sluttier. But it still had to be domineering, just not overbearing. Did I have a more revealing one-piece? No, and I didn’t feel like cutting up this one. God, why was it so hard? Yesterday was so easy!
“Leveria?” A deep voice called, “Sweetie, are you in there?”
It was Dad. I smiled, and strode to the closet door. I stopped.
“Leveria?” He called again. It was that time of the week. Eric was on the other side of town, the guards were between shifts, and the servants were busy with the lower levels. So why didn’t I go to him?
“Leveria?” He called a third time. His voice sounded old. It wasn’t that he was aged, which he was, but that he sounded… old. That sound of frailty when one surrenders to the ravages of time. The sound of defeat, of powerlessness. I stood before my closet door, my fingertips lightly touching the panel before me, but I didn’t open the door. I heard him shuffle away, and I felt relief. Next week. I’m just too busy today. He’ll understand. I frowned, Why does it feel like cheating?
I turned back to my clothes, and struggled once again to find the right outfit. None of them were ‘me’ today. Why was I so indecisive? Why couldn’t I just be me? But I knew the answer, though I’d been skirting it. I looked in the mirror, stared at my naked perfection, my alabaster flesh canvased over statuesque grace, and I said it. “It’s because you’re not dressing for you, Leveria. Why the fuck are you dressing for her?!”
I growled and spun away, frustrated nearly to the point of tears. This was all wrong! I should’ve been in complete control of myself, but my mind was ravaged with thoughts of her. She was nothing! She was a plaything, just the outlet to practice my darkest desires. Those desires had been but dreams until yesterday, when she made them a reality for me. It had awoken something in me. To hear the shrill mania in her voice, to see the twisting of her face, to feel her body reacting to every millimeter of blade moving through her flesh. I had never known a thrill so great. But then I knew a greater thrill. It was the sight of her staring back at me as I held her toe in my hand. The defiance, the will, the inexorable challenge in her blue eyes. I had supreme power over her, I’d inflicted horrific pain upon her, I’d mutilated her, but she hadn’t yielded an inch for me. Then… then I couldn’t stop myself. I felt an arousal like I’d never known before, and seeing her pain, her suffering… I wanted her to feel… good. No, that wasn’t it. I wanted her to feel me. And so I gave her everything I could when I tasted her, sucking with infinite compassion, adoring her, yielding to every request of her body. And I came. I came without touching myself, and the orgasm turned by body to jelly and my mind to mush, and I was nothing but the singular focus of her. And what kept me up all of last night wasn’t the aftershocks of adrenaline, or the excitement for tomorrow’s torture, or even a twisted sense of guilt. No, what kept me up all last night, was the idea that if Elena could make me come like that without even touching me, then what could she do if she was inside me? It terrified me. It thrilled me.
“Why?” I hissed, marching through my closet, “Why?!” Then I stopped, and turned around. Parting the rows of hanging dresses, I found it. It was perfect.
The guard had kept me strapped to the board before he unceremoniously dumped me in the tub of cold soapy water. I wondered if I would be lucky enough for the idiot to drown me, as he certainly seemed to be trying to, but he flipped me over before I passed out. Then he propped me against the wall like a leaning ladder.
“Piss and shit.” He said, and they were the first words he’d said to me.
“Those the name of your kids?” I sneered.
He pointed at the bucket. “Piss and shit.”
“I’m strapped to a fucking board, you moron.”
The guard puzzled over that one, then picked me up, and placed me into the bucket. “Piss and shit.”
I stared at him. “Like this? With my cheeks squeezed tight enough to press steel?”
He just stared back. Well, I’d already pissed on myself twice during the night, so this wouldn’t be anything new. As for shitting, it was either do it now and let it roll, or sit in it until I got sepsis. So, I looked Sir Piss and Shit in the eye, unloaded two days’ worth of backlog onto the board, and let it slide into the bucket. Needless to say, I was dunked into the cold water again.
Two hours later, Leveria was back with her velvet box, and not a whole lot else. The leather one-piece she’d worn yesterday was gone, replaced with an outfit that could only be described as ‘slutty nurse.’ Her white fishnet stockings clung to her thick thighs, ending in garters that ran the length of her tantalizing glutes, the bottoms of which were exposed beneath a white skirt. She wore a white ‘apron’ that acted more as a top, ending just above her midriff to show off the silken flat of her belly.
“Do you like it?” She tittered, twirling on high heels, “I couldn’t find a doctor’s outfit, but it’s in the same ballpark.”
I wished I could’ve told Leveria I hated it, but my cock betrayed me. “Well Doctor,” I gritted, “it appears I have a blood pressure problem.”
“I see that.” Leveria smiled, staring at my meat, “I happen to have just the remedy.” She popped open her box, and ran her fingers through her tools. I watched her finger traverse a cleaver, a saw, a pair of rippers, a reamer, and a scalpel. She finally rested her hand on the scalpel, and smiled companionably to me. “Seems apropos, doesn’t it?”
“When you say you ‘had the remedy,’ I thought we were dealing in euphemisms.”
“No, just double-entendre.” Leveria inspected the edge of the scalpel, “Every good doctor knows that the best way to deal with blood pressure, is bloodletting.” She turned to me with that excited sparkle in her sapphire eyes, “Have you thought about what body part you like the second least?”
“My heart’s been giving me some problems lately.”
Leveria pouted her lips. “Have I broken it already? Come now, Elena. If you don’t pick, then I will.” She tapped the scalpel on my left nipple, and smiled patiently.
I took a deep breath, then another. “Alright. Cut off my penis.”
Leveria’s smile froze. “What?”
“Cut it off.” I gestured with my eyes.
Leveria’s smile faded. She showed me the scalpel, how thin it was, how short the blade was. “You want me to cut that off, with this?”
Terror boiled in my chest, turning my belly over, but I didn’t falter. “That’s my choice. Are you backing out of our deal?”
Leveria narrowed her eyes. “I’ll make you eat it, Elena.”
“You sure seemed to think it was delicious.”
Leveria barked a laugh. “Perhaps I should fuck you with it, would you think that was funny?”
“Morbidly, maybe.” I muttered, “It would be a poetic end to my life.”
“You’re life’s not over!” Leveria snarled, “Haven’t I made that clear? You’re going to be here for a long, long time!”
“This isn’t life.” I smiled at her, “I died on that hill with Prestira.”
Leveria stared at me for a moment, then broke into a wide grin. “You’re very good at this, Elena. Fine, you’ve made your choice. You want to be circumcised.”
“That wasn’t the-”
“You got to choose what part came off. You did not get to choose how it came off.” Leveria leveled the scalpel against my foreskin, “Since I’m the medical professional here, I’ll be choosing the best method. We will peel this banana until I can’t slice it thin enough, then we’ll cut it off.” She smirked over her shoulder at me, “Of course, I always let my patients consider a second opinion.”
I closed my eyes, and took one breath, then another. “Do it.” I whispered.
I held the blade against Elena’s tip, the edge pressing gently into her flesh. My hand was shaking again, but it wasn’t from excitement like yesterday. Why couldn’t I do it?! Why did it make a bit of fucking difference?! She’d challenged me when she had everything to lose, and I couldn’t call her bluff. But she’d called mine. She had her eyes closed, her lips parted to yield anticipatory breaths in pairs of two. One shallow, then one deep, the exhalation of air through her nostrils seeming to decompress the tension within her. I looked at my palsying hand, and took one shallow breath, then one deep. Letting both breaths out in succession, I felt the anxiety ebb from me. I was in control.
“I think I’m going to make a new rule to our little game.” I said, withdrawing the knife, “If I’m letting you choose which parts to remove, then I get to choose which parts to keep. It only seems fair.”
Elena opened her eyes, their azure orbs sparkling teasingly. “If it’s a game we’re playing, I believe I just scored a point.”
“Yes, I suppose you did.” I twirled the scalpel in my fingers, “Now pick a part to replace it, and do it quick! Five, four, three, two-”
“My toe!” Elena yelled, her voice cracking.
“Not very specific, Elena.” I smiled, walking around her, “I guess you’re leaving it to me to choose which one, hmm?”
I grabbed her unmarred foot and watched the terror rise in her eyes. Yes, that was it. That was what I needed to see. That was honest. “This little piggy went to the market,” I tickled her big toe with the blade, “this little piggy stayed home,” I passed over the second toe, “this little piggy had roast beef,” Elena flexed her toes reflectively as I grazed the knuckles, “this little piggy had none,” I placed the scalpel between her pinky toe and the one beside it, and angled the blade against the smaller of the two, “and this little piggy went wee-wee-wee all the way home.” I whispered, my heart rising in my throat, my nerves electrified with the thrill. Elena gritted her teeth, taking pairs of frantic breaths, her body writhing in its constraints. I pulled the pinky toe apart from its neighbor, and began to cut.
Elena’s screams were a symphony, a crescendo of agony that I directed with the minute motions of my wrist. Such power, such control to exact such a pure note from this instrument. I felt the desire bubbling between my legs, the aching need in my nethers growing as Elena’s screams broke, as flesh became sinew became tendon became bone. I quickly extracted the clippers, not wanting to break the flow of the dance, and I clamped them around the gouged circle I’d made at the base of Elena’s pinky, and squeezed. Crack, pop, screech. The succession of sounds was the finale of the song. My body was quivering with adrenaline, every sense heightened to its extreme. I quickly stowed Yavara’s newest present, then pushed the box off the board with a metallic clatter, and climbed atop.
Elena was still thrashing in the throes of agony, every part of her tense but the part I needed to be. She screamed as a spasm shot up her leg, sending the limb into a cramping convulsion against the board. I placed a calming hand on her thigh, feeling the tension beneath her flesh, the rigid muscle bellies corded and contracting. I massaged it gently, kneading my fingers into the tissue until the limb was loose and still on the board. Elena’s screams waned and sputtered, then died. I let go of her leg, and brought my hand to her crotch. Her chin collapsed into her neck, and she looked at me. I stopped. Such power I had over her to cause such pain, then ease it with just a touch, but so powerless was I to that azure hatred in her eyes; that implacable, unyielding stare. I slowly unwound my hand from her cock, and let it rest flaccidly on her pelvis.
“Can I?” I asked softly.
“You don’t have to ask me.” Elena rasped.
“But I do.” I whispered, straddling wider, letting my skirt tighten around my thighs until it sprung to my hips.
Elena stared at my trimmed and ready nethers. “If I say ‘no,’ you’ll just do it anyway.”
“Answer the question.” I said, my voice edging with my desperation.
She filled her eyes with me, every curve and supple crease, every exposure of lewd flesh. Then she looked me in the eye. “No.” She whispered.
I smiled coyly, and began undulating above her, displaying the wide berth of my hips, the silken expanse of my belly, the bottoms of my breasts that peeked from the frilled skirt of my apron. Though the craving between my legs was unbearable, the need for her to want me was worse; I couldn’t just rape her. No, I had always made my victims love me; Father, Mother, and Prestira. I pressed my slit onto her cock, shuddering as I felt her skin grow tight and warm between my tender lips. I slid back and forth along her, smearing her underside with my lust, parting my petals around her so that she could feel how soft I was, how hot and wet I was for her. She throbbed between my coating labia, her cock pulsing with her steadying heart, but she did not sound her desire. I couldn’t stop myself from sounding mine. I whimpered with each pass, my lower lip quivering, my eyes drooping with need. “Elena,” I whispered, leaning over her, my hair curtaining her face, “let me make love to you.”
“No.” Elena whispered back.
“I can feel how bad you want this!” I hissed.
“But I don’t need it, Leveria.” Elena’s eyes glimmered with hatred, “You can take it from me, but I won’t give it to you.”
“Please!” I moaned.
“No. There are some things you can’t cut out of me. I will never want you.”
I couldn’t stop myself. I groaned in defeat as I opened my legs, grabbed her cock, and eased myself down. My nerves were electrified with adrenaline, the tiny hairs on my flesh standing on edge as goosebumps prickled me from head to toe. Oh god, how good she felt inside me! Her cock split me open, thickly pressing against my tender walls, pushing through my fleshy resistances until I was opened all the way. I gasped, my breath unyielding, my body teeming with the pleasure of such perfect fulfillment. I simply stayed static for a moment, dumbstruck by the sensations that coursed through me, staring with mouth agape at the woman who was doing it to me.
She was sneering at me, a look of triumph on her face. It would’ve incensed me, but I couldn’t summon the rage. I’d already lost. And that knowledge, that very idea that I’d been bested, turned me on even more. I leaned forward, pressed my hands to the flat of her pelvis, and began to rock my hips. Back and forth, back and forth; I stirred myself around her rod, every rotation ruining me, making me hiss and whine, making my shoulders pinch together. My breasts spilled from my hemmed apron, and I pressed them between my arms, the nipple outturning with the succulent squeeze. I watched Elena as her cheeks flushed, as her sneer slackened, and her brow knitted. Oh, how I wanted to hear her pleasure! How I wanted to please her, this woman who could please me so! I locked my knees against the board, spreading myself wide, opening everything for her. My sheath tightened around her, pulling with vaginal suction to take her deeper into my loving nethers. I sobbed with the influx of sensation, awash in it beyond my faculties. Elena’s chin tilted back, and she moaned, high and true. My heart ignited. Then, she began to thrust.
She started slowly at first, trepid and unsure. I dared not speak, dared not goad her, dared not risk her retreating into herself. I only moved with her, grinding slowly with the methodical movements of her hips, staring into her eyes with a face full of submission. For you, Elena. It’s all for you. Her movements became surer, her defenses falling as she gave into me, surrendering as I had done to a feeling I could not deny. Her ass came off the board to deliver a single powerful thrust into me, and I cried out, my eyes filming ecstatically, my lips gaping. She drove again, and I blubbered out a plea for more. She gave it to me. Again, and again, and again. Each one harder than the last, driving into me, plunging her cock through my tight heat, desecrating me with each ruinous spearing of my loins. Oh, GOD!
I squatted statically atop her, planting my heels beside her hips to let her plunder me without resistance. She gritted her teeth and jackhammered into me, the whole board shaking with the force of her thrusts. My head tilted back, and a stream of pleasured cries flowed from my lips, their intensity rising and falling with the frenetic cadence of Elena’s thrusts. Elena grunted and gasped feminine tones as she strained to maintain her pace. Her muscled torso flexed into shadows, her bronze breasts jiggled in a blur from her chest, her platinum hair dangled over the edge of her wooden bed, and her blue eyes stared heatedly into my own; possession, hatred, desire.
“Don’t stop!” I screamed. My body shook violently, my breasts bouncing wildly to the chaotic rhythm of our lust, my ass clapping feverishly behind me, wafting the pungent scent of our sex into the air. A spasm arced through me, and I collapsed onto the woman, my face pressing between her pillowing breasts, a juxtaposition to the hard abdomen that pushed against my soft belly. I took a nipple into my mouth and sucked sensually, smiling when I heard the beautiful sound of her moans. She retaliated by smashing her crotch into my pubis, the impacts reverberating deep into my body, tendrils of felicity dancing to the tips of my toes. Her nipple fell from my mouth so that I could yield sob after pathetic sob, my muscles becoming gelatinous with ecstasy, my strength failing. I was powerless. All I could do was rest my face on her breast, and watch as she destroyed me with every drive, stripping my resolve, my pride, my very mind! The spasms rose to an uncontrollable frenzy, their charged contractions crippling me, turning me into a ragdoll that could only scream, and scream, and scream. The pressure expanded and burned outward, the searing pleasure ballooning from my speared depths and racing through my body. Elena’s motions became labored and heavy, her breaths became pants, her moans became cries. Her cock bulged in my tender sheath, sounding the warning of her imminent release, engorging with pressure. She burst inside me with a scream, and another bout of spasms churned through my belly, punishing me ceaselessly with pleasure too great to take. I shrieked with mindless carnality, my conscious mind naught but the raging, merciless ecstasy that enslaved me. The wave crested within me, and steadied for a tortuous moment, holding me high on the edge. Then it crashed, and I was left incapacitated with relief, drooling on Elena’s heaving breasts.
I was in a fugue state of bliss, savoring the sensations that simmered through me. I was rarely at a loss for words, but this was the second time in two days Elena had left me speechless. I wasn’t thinking straight; hell, I wasn’t thinking at all. I knew Elena was a dangerous woman, I knew she was a trained killer, and I knew most of all that she was a caged animal. But I didn’t see those things when I looked on her face. Her lips were parted to yield her decelerating breaths, her brows were knitted in confusion, but her eyes were brimming with yearning, staring a hole into my sockets. I rose from her breast, breathing along her collar, her neck, her chin. I rested my fingers on her jaw, summoning her mouth to open. Yes, there were teeth there, but I only saw the lush moisture of her lips, and the shadowed ruby length of her tongue behind them. I looked back into her eyes, watching them close with readiness, the slits of azure beckoning me. I pressed my lips to hers, I opened my mouth, and I tasted her kiss.
It was like nothing I’d known before. She made love to my mouth with hers, her tongue slithering in a serpentine dance, her lips pulling me ever into her, devouring me with need and compassion alike. I was lost in it, left to mindlessly follow her lead as she guided me through the annals of her lust, her flavor drenching my palate, melting me. As she lured me back into her mouth, and I felt her lips crease into a grin, I realized my error. But it was too late. Before I even had a chance to know terror, Elena’s teeth locked onto my tongue, piercing the flesh, trapping me against her face. I shrieked and tried to wrench away, but she held me fast in her grinning mouth, her eyes wild, her lips red with my blood. I frantically reached for my box, but it was on the floor, the tortuous instruments scattered. Elena bit harder, her teeth slicing through fibers and tendons, sending the taut sinew snapping into my mouth. I screeched, spraying her face with crimson. The metal clang of the guard fumbling with the keys could barely be heard over the relentless drumming in my ears, my heart galloping in my chest, but every beat an eternity of pain, my vision scorched with the sight of her manic grin, the strings of connective tissue rending, the supple flesh of my tongue growing lax as the tension gave under sinking teeth. The door clanged open, and Elena’s teeth came together. My head flung back, my teeth clicked, my mouth filled with the taste of iron. It tasted wrong. When I tried to run my tongue against my gums, I could not. Elena grinned at me, an inch of bloody pink flesh twitching between her clenched teeth. Then her cheek was flattened against her jaw, and her face crumpled beneath a golden gauntleted fist. My tongue arced across the room in a bloody spray, then flopped onto the cold cobblestones. I stared at it disbelievingly, not even recognizing it. This part of me that had tasted and loved, this thing that had been my greatest tool and weapon, was now just meat on the floor. My stomach knotted, my mouth filled with bile, my head throbbed. I collapsed into the arms of my guard, the world spinning, my vision blurring, an auditory assault of tinnitus screaming in my ears. As I was carried out of the room with my head dangling back, I saw her inverted portrait. Her jaw was swollen, and blood smeared her teeth, but her grin still shown; crooked and terrible, her laugh cackling from the black void of her mouth. The last thing I saw before consciousness left me, was those bulging eyes of hers, bloodshot and manic, the pupils constricted to dots. There was no sanity behind those lenses. It terrified me. It thrilled me.
“…now, try again.” Glendian instructed.
“Tip-toes, click-clack, lollipop, snick-snack.” I recited.
“Uh-huh.” The old wizard made a note in his book, “Now say ‘purple.’”
“Poiple.” I frowned, moving my tongue in my mouth, “Poor-pull.” I flexed it again, “Purr-pull. Purple.”
“Roll an ‘r.’”
I sprayed the mirror with red spit, wiped my mouth, then tried again. After the fifth time, I rolled the consonant to perfection.
“It should only take a few hours for the numbing effects to be gone.” Glendian sighed, “Unfortunately for us all.”
“And I almost thanked you.” I smirked at him.
“If you’re going to thank anyone, thank Sir Fraldias.” Glendian grumbled, rolling up bloody cloths, “If he hadn’t procured your severed tongue before the rats got it, I would’ve had to make you a new one, and I’m no Zander Fredeon. We would’ve had a mute queen for several blissful weeks.”
“I’ll make sure to reward him.” I eyed the bald little man, “And you as well, Headmaster.”
“Your employment is punishment enough. Please don’t torment me with your rewards.”
I snorted. “Have I been so terrible to you? Do I not allow you to indulge unrestrictedly in your proclivities? You no longer have to sneak boys into your chambers, but can have them summoned to you without fear. Am I not a benevolent queen?”
Glendian looked from me, to the velvet box in the corner, two of the instruments crusted with Elena’s blood, her toes showing from the velvet pouch. “Your virtuosity knows no bounds, Your Highness.” He said dryly.
My jaw throbbed from where Sir Piss and Shit had knocked out my molar, but my attention was wholly divested to the pulsing pain in my feet. A massive contusion had formed along the bridge of my right foot from the first amputation, and I could see the swelling forming around the second amputation on the left foot. Still, I could taste Leveria’s blood in my mouth, and that was something. I suspected I’d just ended the game we were playing, and with it, the charade of congeniality. There would be no more getting to choose my parts; she would do horrific things to me tomorrow.
I heard a scratching sound at the window. I looked up to see April, the resident fox of Castle Thorum, squeezing her body between the bars. She shimmied through my barricaded window and hopped on my board, then proceeded to slobber my face. I thrashed my head, trying to escape the relentless affection of the creature. She jumped off me, scampered up a barrel and a crate, then peered through the barred window of my cell door. She looked both ways, turned to me, and promptly transformed into a beautiful naked woman.
“Hi Elena.” April smiled. One fox ear pointed upright, the other drooped slightly, and her bushy orange tail wagged slowly behind her.
I gaped at her, unsure if I’d lost my mind. “A kitsune?” I muttered.
“I am.” April stepped toward me, her eyes wandering to my mutilated feet.
The gears in my head began to turn, and I felt a dangerous surge of hope swelling in my chest. “April,” I said quietly, “I don’t think I can run very fast, but if we go deep in the catacombs, there’s a chance-”
“Elena,” April put a calming hand on my thigh, “I have not come to rescue you.”
“What?” I felt the hope begin to drain from me, the realization dawning. Of course. “You’re an assassin.”
April inclined her head thoughtfully. “You know, I suppose I am.” She smiled at the idea, “If I were so inclined, I suspect I would make an excellent contract killer. What do you suppose my moniker would be? The infamous ‘Whiskered Widow-maker?’ Or perhaps the deadly ‘Red-tailed Revenger?’ Ah, but I’m no killer, Elena. I hunt rodents, not men.”
“But you’re here to kill me.”
“I am here to offer you death.” April said, producing a small capsule, “Just one is all it takes. A dreamless slumber, then darkness. It is peaceful.”
“Is that really the best Zander could do?” I mumbled.
“Zander? Zander Fredeon?” April smiled broadly, “You think I work for that madman?”
“Who else? You’ve been here for ten years, and you’ve managed to avoid detection.”
April opened her mouth, then paused. “Considering your predicament, I fear that I cannot tell you. It’s not that I don’t trust you, Elena, it’s just… people betray themselves under stress.”
I looked at her, and felt a grin creep across my face. “It’s Adarian, isn’t it?”
April bit her lip, her ears and tail drooping.
“He’s your lover?” I chuckled, “That fucking hypocrite.”
“You know he’s a good man.” April answered quietly.
“When it’s easy for him, perhaps.”
“He is taking a great risk to give you this mercy.”
I looked coldly at her. “This mercy? He brought me here.”
“You’re a traitor.”
“You’re a traitor, April.”
She tilted her chin. “Not all beasts must bow to the Dark Queen.”
“You’re an enemy of the Highlands by virtue of your birth.” I said, keeping my stare level, “If you’re discovered, do you think they’ll make an exception for you because you’re Adarian’s squeeze? They’ll call him a traitor, and you a spy, and you’ll both end up where I am.”
“Maybe, Elena.” April said softly, “We know the risks of our love. Can you fault me for loving a man that I should not? You of all people?”
I shook my head and snorted, “I guess not. You know, there was a betting pool in the mess hall; the first man that could prove Adarian was gay would win the other’s tobacco rations. I could’ve bet against the spread and never had to pay for pipe leaf again.”
“There was a similar pool for you.”
“Was there?” I raised my brows.
“You had wandering eyes.” April smiled, “You still do, apparently.”
“Too bad no women ever came to test me.” I sighed, “Not like I would’ve known what the hell to do if one had. I just… I just did everything too late.”
“You’re a young woman.”
“Not anymore.” I laughed bitterly, “It seems I’m an old woman at eighteen.”
“I am sorry.”
“Don’t be.” I muttered.
April put her hand on my shoulder, and placed the capsule against my lips. “Will you take it?”
“If I don’t, will you kill me anyway?”
She bit her lip again, her brow knitting. “I don’t want to, Elena, but I have to protect him. I know you are strong, but even the strongest will say anything to make it stop.”
I gingerly took the capsule between my teeth, rolled it down my tongue, and swallowed. I opened my mouth wide to show April that the pill was gone. Her expression fell in sorrow, her ears and tail drooping. “Thank you.” She whispered.
“No, thank you.” I whispered back.
“Should I stay with you?”
I shook my head. “I’d rather be alone.”
April nodded, then leaned in, and kissed my forehead. “I wish we could’ve known each other, Elena. Maybe we will in the next life.”
“Goodbye.” I muttered.
She transformed, the scurried up the wall, and through the bars. She looked back at me from my one square of light, then she was gone. I sighed, and tongued the capsule that rested in my molar’s socket. If only April had given it to me before Leveria kissed me. Shit, if only I’d just gone along with Leveria’s sloppy power-trip, maybe I’d get another chance. I closed my eyes, and took one breath, then another. I wished I could’ve said it was worth it. I wished I could’ve said it was one last act of defiance in the face of doom, but it wasn’t. It was hatred, but not for her; for me. For when Leveria had pressed her lips to mine, I hadn’t opened my mouth to lure her to my teeth. I’d opened my mouth because I wanted to taste her kiss more than anything. And it was the best I’d ever known. It was an oasis of tenderness in the dessert of agony and ecstasy, it was a melodic voice in the discordance of screams and moans, it was an island for my drowning soul. And when I realized how wonderful it was, I felt a surge of wrath so great, it drove me insane. And in my insanity, I found something I hated, but something I could not deny. Oh no, I’d always been very honest with myself. Did Leveria feel how hard I got inside her when my teeth came together through her tongue? I think she did. For when she was carried away, and consciousness was ebbing from her, she smiled back at me. And I smiled at her.
Yavara, I thought, if you can hear this somehow, I want you to know, you were worth it. You were worth all of this.
I took one breath, then another. Tomorrow would be my last day on this earth. If I couldn’t take Leveria with me, I’d at least kill what she was turning me into. What I was turning myself into.
“I count seventy-five. How many can you destroy before the rest start shooting?” Rose asked me as we peered through the trees. I scanned the ballista that lined the ramparts of Castle Thorum. I remembered watching the famous Thorum Guard put on a demonstration for my seventh birthday. The rangers had loaded, fired and reloaded all in the space of twenty seconds. With each firing in succession, it created a constant stream of nine-foot-long projectile flying with enough force to split a tree upon impact. I didn’t know if I could stop one coming right for me, but I didn’t have a choice; Elena was in there.
“Maybe ten if I really push it. It’s not the ballista I’m worried about; it’s the archers. I don’t think I can partition my mind enough to block all those arrows.” I answered.
“If you could breach the wall, or even the gate…”
“That gate’s spellbound, and the walls are too thick. If Alkandi couldn’t do it, then I can’t. Not yet, anyway.”
“Ok.” Rose nodded grimly. “So we’ll have to scale it.”
“Yes.” I replied. I looked at Rose, her face set in a hard mask. “Do you think you can do it?”
“What? Scale the wall?”
Rose thought for a moment. “When we see a wounded deer, it is in our instincts to heal it, but when we see a wolfpack running down a faun, we do not interfere. The Mother taught us that all life is sacred, and to kill is to destroy something of yourself, but we still know the savagery of the wolf, especially the hungry one.” Rose glanced at her torso, the ribs showing, “The Mother’s sap is poison, and we dare not drink from it. If we are to survive, then we must free her master.” She looked back up at me, “But we are not like you, Queen Yavara, who can kill without thought. Many of us will hesitate to deliver the killing blow, and so many of us will die tomorrow. A day’s training does not make a soldier.”
But seeing your dead sisters will. I thought. It was a truth she wasn’t ready to accept, but she would know it soon. The nymphs were pacifists, shepherds of the forest, caretakers of the woodlands, and I was going to corrupt them as assuredly as Arbor would with her sap. Only I wouldn’t turn them into lecherous demonesses, but jaded killers. Castle Thorum was built to withstand armies numbering in the tens of thousands, but not once did any of the architects or engineers consider an assault by a couple hundred nymphs. I was counting on it.
“It’s a trap.” I muttered, “They know I’ll come for her. They’re waiting for me.”
Rose nodded. “Do you want to reconsider?”
“Another day without food and you’ll be useless to me.” I said, looking at the evening sky, “The rangers prepare for night and morning attacks. At high noon tomorrow, we begin. Prepare yourself and your sisters in whatever way you need.”
Rose nodded, and left without a word. I gazed at the high walls of Castle Thorum, their white stones bathed in the pink glow of the setting sun. I was going to break my promise to Elena. I was going to attack the Highlands.