Chapter 15: Endgame

The walls climbed up around Alassiel, a combination of dark gray-brown cliff facings and patches of steeply sloping green grass peaking out from between the white of snow. A few trees dotted the sides of the gorge, small and thin things unable to get firm footing or to send their roots very deep into the rocky ground.

The place was ripe for an ambush, if one were ever needed, but no elf guarded the pass. No one knew the location of the secret land after all, and everyone thought it an island. Even if someone managed to penetrate the secrets of Caladwen with some spell when wizards had been unable to for thousands of years, no fool would attempt to approach in the dead of winters. No elf could be expected to stand guard here, Alassiel understood, even if one was to be told Caladwen’s secret to do so was nearly as dangerous as attempting to force a way to the pass in the first place.

Caladwen owned this gorge, but it was free for the taking if someone managed to reach it.

The elf hurried on. It was possible Lahk had already made the pass, and could even now be standing above the sheltered crater, staring down at the kingdom of Caladwen. In the distance, Alassiel could hear the constant song of the river that had cut this gorge, flowing underground now, under the left-hand wall as she made her way to the north. The wind blew down from behind her, filling her ears even as it blew her hair before her eyes.

The chilling wind of the barrier mountains swept around her and Alassiel felt strangely comforted by the killing breeze in this seemingly inhospitable and forlorn place. She was home, after a decade. She had returned to ancient Caladwen. The elf felt a sense of freedom away from the clutter and filth of the diseased society Silas had become.

The elf moved past several small openings, natural vents for the volcanic caverns far beneath the mountain that served to heat the ancient crater the elves called home. Down around a bend in the gorge, she came to a wide natural alcove and a larger cave entrance, a place where the river had once cut its way out through the limestone rock and she hurried her pace, making for the entrance through the mountain walls and to the inner sanctum where Lahk must now be waiting.

The elf entered the winding cavern, lit by the refracted sourceless light of reflection from the snow, winding her way through a myriad of spectacular, familiar natural designs. Long ago Alassiel had taken them for running water, cascading down the sides of the tunnel in wide, graceful waterfalls, but knew better now. They were not water, but formations of rock left behind by the old river, limestone solidified into waterfall images still slick from the dripping moisture from rainfall and melting snow in the volcanic heat.

So many shapes assaulted the elf’s sensibilities, filling her again with the wonder these caverns had brought to her when she was but an initiate druid, seeing them for the first time. Images of animals and weapons, of lovers entwined and great forests filled the caverns, painted by the childish imagination of the revenant’s youth. She descended for some time along the main chamber, the primary riverbed of ages past, then moved into the light ahead of her.

She stood upon a vast cliff, looking down at the sheltered forest before her, broken by the spirals of elegant stone architecture that existed in harmony with the natural beauty. Her home, the land of Caladwen. Alassiel felt a moment of keening longing, a burning as a hole in her soul became made clear to her as she stood here alone. How she had missed her home.

As she stood here alone.

Where was Lahk?

A shudder coursed the elf’s spine, one brought on by thoughts and not the chilly wind. Her blood felt suddenly as cold as the snow. She spun, hand going to her sword as a man in black armor stepped out of the shadows of the passage.

She had led them right here.

“Alassiel…” Lahk said, stretching out the syllables one at at time, pulling back his cowl to reveal his face to the elf. “Alassiel Le’lorinel, is that what you are calling yourself now? You do have a sense of humor.”

Forcing down the ice in her veins, the elf stared right back at the high priest, seeing that damn dwarf and wizard staying back in the shadows behind. She didn’t fear the wizard, for Kardas’s Grace would protect her as thoroughly as Sanguinar’s protected his priest, but she had already been ambushed by Cormac once. She took a few steps to the right, putting Lahk firmly between her and his bodyguard.

“I’ve waited years for this,” she said. Alassiel raised her hand to her face, grasping the black leather mask from her eyes and throwing it to the floor between them. “Do you recognize me?”

Lahk laughed, slow and menacing. “Dear Athuum,” he mocked, gesturing to her ruined tattoos as he shrugged his cloak from his shoulders. “Do you think I forget my work?” Slowly he drew both blades form their sheaths before dropping the weapons belt to the ground, now useless to him.

Alassiel drew her own blade and pointed it at the high priest’s throat. “Then there is nothing left to say.”

The priest burst forward, both swords bared as he met the elf, her long blade flashing. Lahk spun at the last instant into a defensive posture, spinning away from Alassiel as she struck. Steel rang on steel and then Lahk was away in the blink of an eye, with blinding speed. But Lahk was away in the blink of an eye, swords out and ready, balanced into a perfect defensive posture. Lahk worked his swords in a flurry of spinning parries, gradually turning them and altering his angle, moving his defensive posture into one more offensive, and forcing the elf’s single blade back.

“Not bad,” the elf mocked, skipping backwards as she deflected Blackwand high and turned her retreat to an advance in an instant. “But not good enough.”

A sword drove at Lahk’s head and he picked it off with his offhand upraised sword. Alassiel turned the sword under the priest’s curving blade and came ahead, her left hand reaching down to her belt and producing a dagger, throwing it in the same practiced movement, a brilliant move… but Lahk was better. He quickly realized he would never get a blade down to deflect the toss so instead he turned his body in a savage twist to the right. The dagger struck his armor obliquely and though it pierced the protective layers it left only a shallow cut on his skin instead of impaling him.

Lahk stifled the pain and moved immediately to take advantage of the exposed position the elf’s throw had left her in. He continued the twist to his right, driving his sword in towards the center, pushing across and forcing Alassiel to cross her arms to parry before Blackwand came across with a sweep, driving towards the elf’s now unprotected side.

“Ullie!” Alassiel shouted, the elven for defend, and Blackwand bounced from her sudden gray skin, the rock from the shelf rolling up and into the former druid. The wooden amulet around her neck burned hot but she smiled at the pain. Without eyrn eregdos, Alassiel could only draw on her own body’s energy to power magic, and only slowly… but she had been pouring that energy into this little trinket for the last two years, and it was tightly packed with the life energy. The extreme heat she felt as the amulet burned into her skin was proof of the power within it.

The two combatants backed away from each other for a moment as snowflakes started drifting down between them, the precursors to a new storm. Lahk watched as Alassiel took the flung dagger between her toes and flung it up to her offhand, holding it in a reverse grip across her body. He recognized the basic form of the defense she was using from their fight three years ago, and knew that her skin would be all but invulnerable… but had thought the elf unable to use any of the magic that she had wielded against him then. That amulet changed things, he knew. It was glowing intensely, and was clearly the means the revenant was using to still access her magic despite the damage he had done to her tattoos years ago.

He had to get rid of that amulet.

The two combatants stared into each others eyes, blue and gold meeting dead gray in an intense stare. Neither blinked.

Then they were back into the fight as Alassiel leaped forward, her sword leading. The high priest knocking it high with his offhand, Blackwand driving for the elf’s breast. She accepted the savage thrust as the price of coming to grips with the high priest and the black blade may as well have tried to stab stone. Her dagger flashed in a cut that Lahk only barely dodged, opening a thin line of blood on his neck.

The two fighters separated again. Alassiel was breathing hard but tried not to let Lahk see. That thrust had hurt more than she let on. Not even the steel of Blackwand could pierce her stoneskin, but the force of the blow had driven the air from her lungs regardless. Meanwhile the high priest was beginning to realize that without the threat of a lethal blow he had little way to keep that dagger away from him.

Alassiel came on again, leading with her sword just like the last time. Lahk swept it to the side, but rather than stay in place and retaliate like he would against any normal opponent he instead ducked and kicked out, his foot impacting against the charging revenant’s shin. Her balance fled from her but Lahk had no more time to take advantage of that for Alassiel sword was coming down at him. He flung himself into a diving roll, coming to his feet at the same time as she regained her footing and closed. His swords came up immediately, ringing with parry after parry as Alassiel launched a series of strong attacks his way.

Their weapons rang against each other repeatedly, a blur of motion, a constant sound. Their speeds were a match for each other, but the elf attacked with a savage ferocity, uncaring if she were hit in return for landing a blow. Lahk had little choice but to retreat in a circle until he had an opportunity to break away by running a shoulder into her chest and knocking her back a few steps.

Both fighters breathed hard as they glared at one another, but Lahk realized that the elf was favoring her right leg. Slowly, he smiled. “No tougher underneath your skin, are you, Athuum?”

The words had their desired effect and the elf charged with a howl.

“That!” Sword right, sword left, sword straight ahead, and Lahk scored a hard stab against Alassiel’s chest that would have finished the elf had it not been for the protective spell.

“Is!” She accepted the hit and lashed out with her own strong leg, striking Lahk solidly in his abdomen and and driving him back. She followed.

“Not!” Lahk slashed out with Blackwand, then spun as Alassiel, parrying, went into a circuit to the right as well, both coming together out of their respective spins with a clash of three blades.

“My!” The revenant’s dagger came flying it again, released from her hand but Lahk was prepared this time and moved his arm into the way. It struck pommel first against his armored forearm and while it stun, had little effect.

“Name!” Lahk turned his blade over the elf’s, driving hers down. When the revenant predictably stabbed ahead, the priest had the opening he was waiting for. He dodged right and put his entire body weight into a kick at Alassiel’s right calve.

Bone shattered beneath the surface of the stone skin and Alassiel cried out, starting to fall towards her weakened side. Blackwand slid up in a spiraling slash that cut across the revenant’s neck, and it didn’t pierce… but it cut the amulet from her neck. She continued her fall and as she did, Lahk stabbed down with his off hand as the protective enchantment receded.

Pain flared in Alassiel’s gut as the sword stabbed down through the revenant and into the clay of the ledge, pinning her against the ground. She gasped.

Seventy three years ago, Caladwen

“You must always remember Lissa, you are special.”

Lissa had trouble focusing in the voice. The rock was heavy, and she wasn’t being permitted to use any of the little druidic lore she had mastered to either manipulate it or strengthen her own muscles. She was supposed to use just what she had been born with, the body she was supposed to be training to be as much in harmony with the world as her mind. “Being a druid is about more than just power, more than just balance, and more than about service,” She continued.

“You need to be a hero,” She finished. “As a druid, you will always be in the front, preserving balance and protecting life. There is an obligation there for great deeds, and you will be praised for them. You will be a hero. That is the destiny of all druids.

“But you must remember that, even when you are put on a pedestal, you can never forget that a hero is first and foremost a servant. You do not serve for yourself, but others. Separating yourself from the harmony of the world around you, putting yourself above it, serving your own desires over protecting others — that way lies madness.

“I tell you this, Lissa,” She continued, “because I think you have a very special destiny. More than any other druid, when I look at you, I know you are going to be something special. And with that special existence will come temptation to serve yourself over others, but you must remember what I taught you. The obsession of extremes will be anathema to you. You must remain in harmony with the world, always, but also,” she finished, beginning to smile, “you must, more importantly, never fall out of harmony with yourself.”

“Do you understand, Lissa?”

She grunted. “Yes, Goddess.”

Dying wasn’t as painful as she thought it would be.

Cormac stood guard over the wounded elf, but it was a meaningless gesture. She wasn’t going anywhere and she knew it. The wound was mortal. It had cut through the abdominal wall and just missed her diaphragm, probably nicking her liver for good measure. She had seen too many injuries in the war to think that she would survive this one without more magic than she had at her disposal — she would bleed out within the hour.

It was snowing in earnest now, the flakes drifting down to land on her limbs, her chest, her lips. She didn’t have the strength to brush them away, but she was so cold now. So cold…

It didn’t hurt nearly as much she would have believed. She was probably going into shock.

Lahk finally finished crafting his gate with Helios, opening the portals his armies were going to use to invade, and boots tromped on the ground as a constant stream of dark armored soldiers began marching down the tunnels towards the crater.

When the high priest returned to her, Alassiel’s eyes were unfocused and he gained her attention by grinding his boot into her hand. She let out a breathless cry.

He knelt before her. “I missed you, you know, Athuum. We never got to say goodbye.” he smiled. “And we have much to celebrate.” With a cruel smile, he took her own dagger and cut down her leather pants, removing them from the injured elf as he moved between her spread legs. She so badly wanted to strike out at him with her uninjured leg, but all of her strength had fled her.

She shivered as his hands touched her bare skin, running up her legs before touching her bare, scarred cunt. She started weeping silently when she looked down her prone form to the man she had failed to kill, her murderer. Pinned to the ground by the sword as she was, her back was arched and her clothed tits were pulled high on her chest, the fat mounds pillowing out to look even bigger than they were. As Lahk forced her broken leg all the way spread, her wounded pink cunt lips opening to expose her tight, abused hole. Somehow, bleeding to death before him, she felt more naked than she ever had before.

“You’re going to love this, Athuum,” Lahk said as he pulled out his cock, already hard at the sight of the red haired elf spread and helpless before him. “Or is it Alassiel now? Did you miss my cock as much as I missed you?”

His fingers speared her pussy, and the high priest realized for the first time how swollen it was, how much it had scarred in her recovery from a year of rape, and the thought pleased him. He began to push his iron rod of a prick into her pussy. Alassiel felt a terrible drag at the outer lips of her pussy and she clamped her eyes tightly shut, unwilling to see her murderer’s face as he humiliated her one last time.

Lahk drove his cock relentlessly forward, and Alassiel wriggled helplessly, the movement suddenly blazingly painful as the sword was pressed against the edge of the wound, widening it. She couldn’t even struggle without killing herself as the high priest’s huge cock brutally bludgeoned its way inside her savaged tight cunt.

The pain was terrible, and magnified by her humiliation was worse than anything the revenant could have ever imaged. It felt like he was ripping her apart. Alassiel tried to buck her hips away from the horrible penetration, but her range of motion was pitifully small without ripping her gut open, and all she could do was sway her ass back and forth over the bed. She was caught tight, and there was nothing that she was going to be able to do to stop the man she hated with all her soul from fucking his big cock all the way inside her, impaling her again.

“Tight!” Lahk hissed, slitting his eyes as he drove his cock forward. He grabbed the sexy elf by her hips and held her steady while he drove his fat prick into her. “Your cunt’s tighter than ever you little whore!” He bore his weight down on his cock, driving it deeper inside her. It was easy going now that his big cock-head had bulled its way past her cunt lips, even as dry as the elf was, because now he could push properly without worrying about falling out.

Suddenly he pulled back, and then a moment later he slammed his cock home. Alassiel screamed as the cock drove viciously into her the entire way, pushing her entire body forward and slicing her open a little more on the inside. She could barely even feel the brutalizing cock in her through the white cloud of agony in her gut. Her ass became as hard as marble, her thighs tensed to slabs of granite, and the muscles in her flat, wounded stomach trembled as her entire body tensed against the agony, trying desperately not to move.

It was impossible. He lunged at her again, bumping his crotch against the tender pink slit of her cunt, and he as he did she slid forward microscopically again and began new wails. Her cunt spasmed around him with each new blazing stab of anguish, ripping her body apart from the inside thousandths of an inch at a time. Lahk grinned and pulled his cock back until only the fat head was still inside his victims tightly grasping cunt. He slammed it back inside, and shuddered at the new grasping sensations. He would not last long in this tight cunt at this rate.

The high priest began to rape Alassiel in earnest, building into a destructive rhythm as he tore new cries from her with every thrust. Whenever her cries began to fade he fucked her harder, forcing her to shudder slightly further in the direction of the thrust and finding new skin for the impaling sword to cut. Alassiel was in pure torment, not even feeling the actual fucking anymore but the humiliation of being sent to Caer like this burned at her soul. She was being raped to death.

Alassiel could only look up at Lahk with pleading blue eyes, the gold flecks shining as the dying elf silently begged him for mercy that she knew would never come. He dug his strong fingers into her bobbing hips and held them above the ground while he shoved his cock into her savaged cunt, pushing her even further along the ground. Lahk plunged tip to root with every savage thrust, and once he’d bottomed out inside her pussy, he squirmed his ass around to make sure he’d stretched her swollen pussy as far as he could.

It was a hideous, cruel, monstrous rape as Lahk brutally used the dying elf as she lay in the snow, heartlessly fucking the spread revenant while her scarlet hair flowed around her head like blood. Alassiel’s ravaged cunt lips fluttered around the wrist-thick stalk of his prick with each thrust, her pained spasms milking him with each blow.

Alassiel’s face was paling, and sweat poured from her as Lahk took Blackwand and pressed its flat against her throat, cutting off her air as he savagely pressed down on her. Her choking spasms made her squeeze him even tighter and he gasped at the same time she did. He knelt between her spread thighs and pumped his cock with mighty thrusts of his powerful hips in and out of her pussy, now starting to bleed slightly from the dry rape. It felt unbelievably good to slam his cock home all the way in to his fat hanging ball-sacs, wounding her further and making Alassiel grunt and spasm and bite her lips as his knees dug into the moist clay

Alassiel was growing delirious from the painful mix of sensations flooding through her body; the lethal wound in her abdomen, the rape of her injured pussy, the primal struggle to breath around the choking sword pressing on her throat.

A new pain struck her then, a burning sensation in her neck, and she knew that Blackwand must have been pressed hard enough against her neck that it had cut her flesh. The blue glow grew stronger as she began to feel agony spread through her body. Then with no warning it intensified to a feeling unlike any she had ever experienced. The pain completely overwhelmed every part of her, stealing her voice and her breath. It erased the pain of the sword, of her rape, of her need to breathe. A burning from within that seemed to sear her soul more than her flesh, consuming every other sensation in a single blaze of unbelievable heat.

Blue flames licked up, and she could see them coming from the open wound of her stomach to set her clothing on fire, then spread until her entire form was ablaze, her hair forming a blue halo of fire about her head and all but stealing her vision. All she could see was Lahk above her, smiling, the flames harmless to him as he enjoyed the last ride of her life. The pain didn’t grow stronger — or perhaps it did, and her nerves were already stressed beyond their tolerance so she could no longer feel anything. The agony slowly faded to an icy cold that consumed every part of her being, and she shivered.

She never felt Lahk finish in her, but she knew he had, his expression of joy in the purest evil plain as he stared down into her defeated face, gloating, before the fire consumed her vision.

Then Alassiel, mercifully, felt nothing more.

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