Chapter 1: Tides of Shadow

In which Lahk is triumphant,
the veil is dying,
And Alassiel finds an unexpected ally

Alassiel had almost forgotten what grass felt like beneath her feet.

It was strange really. She was trekking across the Untamed Lands, filled with a thousand enemies of mortals since the dawn of time, alongside the closest thing to a daughter she had ever had and the lover she has lost a quarter century ago, back towards a war with a monstrous church that had slain all three of them at one point, and she couldn’t stop thinking about how pleasant the blades of grass felt on her bare skin.

It was strange how the mortal mind dealt with situations… but then again, Alassiel wasn’t sure the term “Mortal” could be applied to her any longer.

It was always a question with elves… since they naturally lived eternally until they were killed by disease, accident, or violence, were they mortal beings? They lived much like the others – humans and dwarves did not carry out their lives in a significantly different manner than the elves did, nor did they think in an alien way. The only differences between them were cultural, and relatively slight in the grant scheme of things. Perhaps most importantly, the elves thought of themselves as being mortal, even as their timeless bodies would endure forever.

Of course, the red haired druid was pushed beyond even those boundaries now. She had absorbed the power of her mother Sirae, and been linked with the earth to an extent beyond any other druid in history. She did not know what that made her… was she a goddess now like her mother? Something less, or something more? Alassiel had no idea… there was no precedent for something like this in living memory, and the flood of thoughts her mother had sent her before her death had all but vanished now.

She had always been an elf made in her mother’s image, even if she had never thought of it that way. Lithe and slim, her pale skinned body was painted with dark vine-like tattoos, free of the scars that had covered them for years. Fiery red hair cascaded down past her elfin face, framing a delicate nose and soft lips. Her eyes had always been blue, swimming with golden flecks… a gift from her mother, though she had no idea.

She had become much more now. The blue in her eyes had all but vanished as the flecks of gold began to glow, filling her orbs with a radiant light that seemed to boil from her skull. She had always been beautiful, but now she was more so… more primal, more animal. She had always walked with a dancers grace, but now she moved more like a stalking cat, muscles rippling with perfect precision as they accomplished any task.

The changes beneath the surface had been even more extreme. It made her more a being of sensation than of thought, her senses overwhelmingly strong and always pressing against her mind like a weight on her awareness. He could feel as her companions feet struck the earth, was aware of the tremors through the dirt and plants, and exactly how far they reached. She could feel the worms beneath them, burrowing and eating, fertilizing the earth for the plants. The static in the air as a storm began the slow process of building, the whirling battles of birds for territory and food and mating, the flows of magma in the crush fall below her… all of this she felt as clearly as she did her own hair on her back and shoulders.

The earth was as much a part of her now as one of her own hands… and like a hand, she could use it. Alassiel had asked nature to shield them, to protect them from being noticed, and the earth had complied. The elf could see what they looked like through the eyes of animals in the field around them – shimmering, nearly invisible silhouettes of movement as the light bent around them rather than reflect from them. The ground swallowed their footprints the second they made them, and their scents and sounds vanished hardly further from their bodies than an arm’s length. Even if some hungry dragon came across them and managed to spot their nearly-invisible form, it would have no idea what to make of them.

With every passing minute, Alassiel was growing more used to her new power. At first it had been a terrible weight on her shoulders, even as it also provided her with the strength to hold that weight up. Now, with every passing moment she was learning to ignore the sensations that were not currently useful, to filter through the raw information nature was providing her every second and focus her attention on just what she needed. As she did this the feeling of a crippling mass on her shoulder’s faded, reducing day by day until she no longer felt the weight of the entire world on her…

But the feeling of power, if anything, grew stronger. It almost terrified the scarlet maned elf. She had spent so long of being powerless, first in captivity to Lahk and then a prisoner of her own hunger for retribution, and then finally a slave of the sword Blackwand. Now, the feeling of power wrapped around her like a cloak… with might such as this, she could do nearly whatever she willed. Taking revenge on Lahk would be easy… but did she still want the thing that had driven her so low once already?

With this power, Alassiel could become whatever she wanted to be… but she knew that she had best choose carefully.

Two weeks ago, Caladwen

“Move!” Shevarn roared, hurrying people through the portal he was just barely keeping open. His ill-fated battle with the high priest and his wizard had drained the Archmage considerably… but he had to keep this portal open or thousands would die. “Hurry! Move it!” he yelled, moving his arms emphatically to try to urge tired legs to keep moving. Elves and soldiers of Sanguinar alike move through the magical gate without discrimination. If there were to be recriminations, they could wait until later…

After they had all survived.

Caladwen was being obliterated before his eyes. Lahk’s ascension had destroyed the druidic bonds that kept the volcano beneath the ancient crater as little more than a provider of heat to the otherwise-frozen peak, and the old fire mountain, now free, was angrily preparing its retribution on the elven capital. The ground trembled beneath Shevarn’s feet, and he knew he had only a few more minutes before the city exploded into fire and death. There would be no escape from the city on foot, or by sea… boiling hot dust would murder every living thing for miles. Anything that did not make it through his portal was going to die.

Shevarn needed to strike a careful balance. If he didn’t keep the portal open long enough, men and elves desperatly seeking escape from the new God of Suffering’s bloody initiation would perish… but he needed to be on the other side of the portal and closing it before the fire erupted, or they would all be just as dead on that side.

A few more minutes, to evacuate thousands more.

Maybe even less.

The Archmage watched through Danith’s old crystal sphere as the demonic army arrived in the dwarven lands. None of the great cities in the deep desert were threatened yet… instead, the army of Incubi in the service of the god Lahk struck the surrounding villages like the fist of a titan, ripping through the defenseless town with fury and fire. The men were put to the sword, and the woman…

He winced as he watched one beautiful dwarven girl, barely into adulthood, get buried beneath a mountain of demonic flesh as incubi and succubi alike collapsed onto her.

He turned away from the sphere, waving his hand to force it to turn blank. He could not bear to watch any longer.

Instead he looked out his window, toward the flickering Veil that shielded the kingdom of Silas… although for how much longer, he could not say. Xiri’s law had said that when order could no longer be maintained in the kingdom, the veil would no longer exist… and in Shevarn’s opinion, they were well past that point. Xiri must be far more optimistic than he, for the Archmage could not see how the world could be put right again. His first clenched and unclenched to the rhythm of his injured apprentice’s pained breathing. Even after more than two weeks, he wasn’t sure if Dorn would survive or not.

Then again, in his mind, it wouldn’t be too long before being alive and being dead wouldn’t be so clearly defined, once the chaos of the untamed land was allowed in once again.

“To Kardas with it,” he hissed aloud, returning to the crystal ball and ensorcelling it into action again. He was furious at the new God of Suffering and his cruel church, and he hated sitting around and doing nothing. Although Lahk had somehow found an entire army of demons to do his will, the forces of his church had to be strained after he had left so many to die in Caladwen. Perhaps he could do some good…

Two weeks ago, Caladwen

“Helen! O’er here!”

The blonde woman turned to see her husband lifting a elf with golden hair from beneath the ruins of the collapsed palace. She was naked and wounded, clearly abused by the animalistic church… Helen felt her rage build up. Rather than dismiss it, she held onto the feeling. A good head of steam was the only solution to the intense panic she would be feeling otherwise, with the ground trembling beneath her.

When she and Heim had been in Maithum Falls when the Archmage had come asking for help in evacuating Caladwen, she had immediately wanted to go. Helen had expected to need to convinced her dwarven husband to go, but to the human’s surprise he had volunteered before she could say a word. Neither of them said a word of why to one another, but they both knew that it was in honor of the first elf they had met… a red haired revenant who had saved them nearly a year ago. What tiny aid they had been to her then had never been enough to satisfy either of the two traders… but now, at last, they could repay the salvation in kind.

But to the blonde woman, all the rational reasons in the world meant little when the ground was heaving. She wanted to run terrified, but instead she tried to hold onto her anger, and use it to keep herself focused. Heim passed the almost comatose elf to her, and she was surprisingly heavy. She wasn’t much taller than Helen herself, but her entire form was corded with muscle that even months in captivity had been unable to erase. Helen was not a tall woman, nor an especially strong one… she stagged beneath the weight of supporting the elf, hobbling over to the wagon one small step at a time.

About halfway there, the elf became aware enough to support some fraction of her own weight and the trip became much easier. “That it…” Helen whispered encouragingly to the wounded elf captive. “One step at a time…” At last, the human lay the battered blonde down in the wagon, along side several others. One of the less injured woman crawled towards her to help, and Helen gratefully passed along the responsibility to her and rushed back to her husband.

“Heim,” she said. “The horses are going insane… if we don’t leave soon, they are going to run off whether we want them to or not. We have to go…”

The dwarf looked around, his face a mask of pain. “Ye’a, I dun think th’ is an’one else lef’ here an’way.” He shook his head sadly. “Fall o’ th’ palace took th’ rest.”

He was just turning to leave when a hand flashed out to grab his ankle. “Wait…” she said, her voice faint from beneath the rubble. “Help… me…”

Helen and Heim traded glances, then they both immediately began to tear at the rubble with frantic urgency. They needed to leave this very instant, or none of them were going to make it out… but they couldn’t leave the injured woman behind either. Far more strength was contained in the man’s short frame that most would give him credit for, and he heaved fallen pieces of the tree palace away like kindling until the woman beneath was finally exposed.

Finally exposed, the woman lay on her back beneath the pinning debris. She was not an elf, but rather a human, with flowing brown hair. She was also very badly injured… it looked like at least one of her arms was broken, and she was bleeding horrifically from two shredded wounds on the back of her shoulders. Heim thought she looked familiar, but that hardly mattered now… he didn’t want to risk dragging an injured victim out from beneath the imprisoning rubble, but they had little choice if they were going to escape. He simply had to pray the woman was not even more hurt than she looked.

Slinging the badly injured brunette over his shoulder, Heim pushed his wife out in front of him as he ran for the wagon, eyeing the portal to safely still open in the distance.

Shevarn was not of a mind to be nice, nor to take a half measure.

Daggerport was burning.

Fury coursed through his veins as he wove spell after spell, tearing apart the lightly defended temple-brothel brick by sinister brick. Daggerport had too long tolerated Sanguinar’s evil, and it was here, not Maithum Falls, that the blight had grown the most fetid, the most rotten. He should have done this years ago, but like a coward it had taken the death or injury of those he directly cared about to goad him into action… and that realization made him every more furious, and the fire yet hotter.

Slaves poured by him as he decimated the building, ripping apart cells as he went. A brown haired girl in her teens. A mousy woman in her twenties. A mother ushering her daughters before her as they fled, all naked and marked by whips… It was this last group that truly triggered something dark in the wizard. He swore that he would tear this church to the ground, not even caring that he was embarking on the same destructive road that had already cost so many of the people he cared for their lives. Evil on the scale of Lahk, on the scale of his father Sanguinar, had to be answered – had to be fought tooth and nail, with everything society possessed, because civilization could no exist in the wake of their kind.

Maybe then, when he had ripped the church down and shattered its power, would Silas be safe, and the Veil restored. Maybe.

Most of Lahk’s army had been in Caladwen, or was still in Maithum Falls. Most of his new force, the demons he had summoned, were even now marching far south of here and into the deserts. There was barely a skeleton garrison here at the oldest of Sanguinar’s brothels, and they had long since given up attempting to oppose the furious Archmage. Their only interest was to escape, to get as far away from the death dealing mage as quickly as possible.

Sometimes, if they weren’t trying to take slaves with them, Shevarn even let them.

One week ago, City of Lumen

Being divine had it’s advantages, Lahk thought.

He was in the city of Lumen, the southernmost metropolis of human civilization in Silas on the very edge of the deserts. His new army had overwhelmed it with barely a whisper of effort, the demonic forces he had stolen for Alissandra serving him with loyalty enforced by his divine might. Lumen had been a broken city before he had even arrived, but now it was a wreck. The men who did not put up a fight against his forces were allowed to cower in this homes, but the women…

Well, he couldn’t be expected to control the lust of Incubi even if he had been inclined to try.

In truth, Lahk didn’t care what happened to them. His current need of whores was minimal at best… now that he finally had the necessary power to crush the last of potential resistance against him, he meant to use it immediately. He would worry about forging a new church for himself out of the remnants of the old after he was the only divinity in Silas.

Still, some prizes couldn’t be refused.

“Please… don’t do this…” Narisa begged as she felt his cock nudging its way between her lips. “You don’t have to do this, you don’t…”

“Oh, but I do!” said Lahk, grinning. “I can hardly ignore the kind of challenge to my power you represent, your holiness.”

Narisa was the reason he had bothered with this city in the first place. It was too pitiful to interest him for it’s own sake, but considering that the high priestess of Caer had been ministering here, it had become too valuable of a target to ignore. Even though the God of Justice and Fate rarely involved himself directly inside the Veil, an ascendant power like Lahk could not turn down an opportunity to so reduce his power… not when it would cost him so little.

And it had cost almost nothing. The only resistance he had faced in his attack on the tower had been organized by her and her honor guard, and while they were skilled they had been completely overwhelmed by the demonic forces under his control. Lahk had expected the matter to end there… but he had been pleasant surprised to learn just how beautiful the high priestess was.

Narisa was a brunette woman in her mid fourties, but the years had treated her kindly. She had aged with almost unheard of grace, possessing the kind of beauty that most younger women would now know to envy… and on top of that, it was clear that she had kept her body in perfect condition. She was a warrior of no small repute… but Lahk was certainly no strange to breaking strong women. She was powerful, true… but less so that others he had made his own, and he had little doubt that there would be far stronger to follow her.

The two succubi laughed at the holy woman as Lahk prepared himself to rape the woman while they held her pinned to the bed. In the last weeks, the pair of demons had rarely left his side ever since his general Caleb had appointed them to guard their new god, and to “serve” him as best they could – a duty they relished, since he was an insatiable lover who could keep up with their own appetites – but right now, they were extremely excited to watch the divine force that was the new born god fuck the brain from this heathen whore.

With a vicious buck of his hips, Lahk’s large cock speared between the girls pussy lips and deep into her vaginal canal, striking with tearing force. Narisa was not wet in the slightest, and a normal human would have badly hurt himself pressing into her that hard… but she could clearly see in his eyes that the man atop her was no longer human. A black divinity, an shroud of pure impurity, surrounded him like a cloak that had been woven around his entire existence. He lived for the agony he was causing to others, relished it like a gourmet with his favorite meal. Nothing as simple as being not humanly possible could ease the experience of him wounding the inside of her body, pain shooting through her as he slammed all the way to her cervix in a single, impossible thrust.

“No!” Narisa wailed, tears dropping down her face as the kind priestess bawled like a child, helpless and abused.

Lahk smiled in joy. His new command of his father’s – and his unwilling mother’s – power gave him abilities beyond what he could have imagined. As merely a tiny perk, he could feel how much she hurt, experience all of her anguish as if he was feeling it himself… but unlike the woman below him, it was not a repellent sensation to the Lord of Agony. To Lahk, it was not something he felt in his nerves, a sensation to be avoided… it was more like the scent of well cooked meat. The feeling was something he could take in and let wash over him, energizing himself as the pain of another being became a part of him. He grit his teeth and got to working giving the high priestess a better reason for her tears, plunging in and out of the brunette’s tight hole and ramming against her cervix as he repeatedly drove his cock in to the hilt.

Narisa screamed as tidal waves of pain echoed through her abdomen, cresting as they approached her mind and then receeding in the distance as a new shock of agony approached. For ten minutes Lahk slammed into Narisa’s delicate body, his cock brutally forcing itself deeper and deeper into the supple warrior’s body. The entire time she wailed and cried, pleaded and begged… but the god had no interest in her pitiful supplications for mercy. He continued his brutal rape of the vulnerable woman at the same vicious pace, his beautiful honor guards pleasuring themselves as as they watched. Narisa’s pinned hands gripped the mattress so hard that her fingernails gouged holes in the fabric, and her entire body quaked with the impact of his hips against her. Her legs lay limply to either side of the bed as though paralyzed, driven to shock by the anguish in her lower body.

“Please!” she shouted, singing silent prayers to Caer to rescue her from this. “Please, have mercy!”

Lahk didn’t show any mercy. He resumed his vicious pounding into the girl, her struggling actually helping his drag his cock back and forth inside her and allowing him to plow into even deeper recesses of her abused hole. The shaft rasped through her tunnel like a tree branch, unyielding and covered with coarse bark as it burned her up inside, like a limb dragged across a rug.

“Stop, you monster! You bastard!” Narisa wailed. The priestess was ashamed of how weak she sounded, but nothing in her life had prepared her for anything like this – her crotch felt as if it had been doused in oil and lit on fire.

Lahk, moving with the practiced precision of a veteran, fully availed himself of every pleasure the abused whore could offer him, wrapping his hands around her large breasts as he rammed into her. Occasionally he would lean down and bite one of her hard nipples, grinding the delicate flesh between his teeth and savoring the way her entire body would ripple as he did it, absorbing the pain. He could feel her shudders in his very soul as they fed him, made him feel more alive than at any other time in his life.

The fucking continued this way for what felt like an eternity. Since his ascension, Lahk had been able to completely control his own body… including how long it took him to reach climax, and how much his body would produce. Even his former stamina as a scion of divinity paled in comparison next to the sexual feats he was capable of now… utterly inexhaustible, and completely insatiable. He allowed the rape to continue for a further twenty minutes before the reactions of the woman were no longer as precious, as nourishing to him… then he finally allowed his balls to roil.

Lahk began to laugh at her, the low, sinister amusement boring into her as he came. Narisa shrieked as the god’s boiling seed shot deep into her ravaged cunt. He produced far more now than a normal man, as he willed it, and he looked down and enjoyed the sight as her body began to overflow around his plugging shaft and soak the bed in her own quarters.

Narisa lay on the bed, staring up at the familiar ceiling of her own room in Lumen as she allowed the pain flood though her body. Her nipples felt like they’d been chewed off and her pussy felt as if it had been ripped the pieces before a mage had unleashed a stream of hellfire into her. Her body was covered in a fine sheen of sweat, her round orbs quaking in time with her sobs, and her cunt twitching as cum ran from her hole. Her nipples were now dark red and swollen. The view of the priestesses suffering was almost as nourishing to the new god as causing that pain himself, and if his cock had lost of its hardness the sight would have brought him instantly back to full arousal… but of course, Lahk had never lost that state.

“Please… no more.” Narisa begged as Lahk rose up over her.

“Poor little priestess, does your weak little body hurt?” Lahk said mockingly, staring into her wide, brown eyes as they filled again with tears. “Don’t you understand the honor I’m giving you, to service a god with real power?” He laughed, reaching down to crush her nipple between his thumb and index finger. “If Caer could protect you, he would have done it… your service to him has brought you no salvation…” Lahk smiled, admiring her firm, tight body. “Maybe your service to me will bring you better… but first I need to try the rest of you.”

“No! Caer, no!” Narisa screamed as Lahk gestured, and the two demonic women flipped her over onto her stomach. Lahk spread the priestesses firm asscheeks open and aimed his cock head at the little brown pucker. “I swear you will pay for this! Come to your senses, don’t do this! NO!”

Narisa’s pleadings turned into wails of anguish as Lahk ripped past her clenched opening and plunged deep into her ass. For a few moments the god just lay there, enjoying the feeling of the high priestess’s anus clamping down around his cock before throwing his body forward with divine strength, determined to slam the entirely of himself into her virgin ass as thoroughly as he had her cunt earlier. Narisa shrieked as Lahk began rutting into her, lifting himself off of the woman’s body until just the head of his cock was still inside, and then he would let himself fall onto her, letting gravity combine with his own muscles to bury his cock into her guts as hard as was possible.

“No! Nononononononono!” She screamed as his body slammed into hers, her pleas devolving into repeated whimpers as she was brutalized. Each painful body slam made Lahk’s cock pound into a previously untouched area inside Narisa’s bowels and made her body cramp in dire protests. She shrieked and cried until she didn’t have the strength to anymore, her legs twitching as her body quaked. Lahk began to beat the priestesses ass as he fucked her, slapping it like a cook would tenderize cheap meat.

At first Narisa barely even registered the slaps though the haze of pain, the crushing anguish in her guts combining with the brutal treatment of her pussy to block out further stimulae to her mind… but as Lahk hit her again and again, the damage began to mount and the outside of her ass began to hurt as badly as the interior. The new god didn’t stop his assault until she was bawling incoherently, unable to string a plea together any longer but forced only to babble while she was raped, and her tanned skin had been turned a deep crimson under his hand. Only then did Lahk return his full attention to raping Narisa’s ass.

He leaned forward and grabbed Narisa’s tits as if he were planning to small them to pulp them, using them as handles to pull the priested back onto his invading shaft. His entire body was using its incredible strength to rape her as hard as possible, doing his best to destroy her with his brutal abuse. The renewed violence managed to drag new screams from the tormented woman, a gurgled wail echoing in the tiny room. By the time Lahk was ready was to cum again, Narisa was a blubbering wreck of flesh. Her entire body hurt abysmally, and she wished that she could just die and be sung to rest, freed from this hellish reality the Lord of Suffering had created for her.

With a contemptuous tug of her brown hair, Lahk allowed himself to fill her once more with his cum. The hot slime poured into her bowels, flooding her completely and giving her the strength to wail one more time. As soon as his cock was satisfied, he released the priestess’s and flung her away like a diseased animal.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, my lord.”

Lahk turned to face the door, and found a raven haired elf kneeling in the entrance. She wore a full suit of mail that covered her entire beautiful body… not that he needed to imagine what his high priestess looked like nude. He had made the proud elf into his servant over the course of many months of hard work… not that he hadn’t enjoyed the process of raping the spirit out of her and replacing it with something darker.

“You have returned so soon, Uthielle,” Lahk said, his voice pensive but with an undertone of menace that the elven high priestess was very sensitive to. “I hope for your sake you bring good news.”

If she felt fear, it did not cross her face and Lahk gained no nourishment from it. “My life in payment if you are not satisfied, my lord.”

As she spoke the words, Caleb entered the room behind her. Chiseled and handsome, the man wore only a pair of shorts and a vest that left him all but naked from the waist up. He looked like a woman’s idea of the perfect mate… except for a hard, hungry look in his eyes. A pair of bat-like wings, larger and stronger than those possessed by the succubi on the bed, rested flat against his back.

A twisted set of binding tattoos swirled around his left eye – an arcane imprisonment that Lahk had forced on the Incubus shortly after his creation. The new god had formed Caleb directly from Alissandra’s power, and he was strong… too strong for Lahk to risk him being disobedient. The demon was all but a reflection of the Lord of Suffering himself, almost like a child to him… but he certainly did not trust the monster.

The incubus was dragging a man behind him, and threw him to the floor as Uthielle rose to her feet. Lahk smiled, and look back to his bodyguards. “Keep our friend entertained, if you would.” The two succubi smiled down as the priestess, who whimpered again before Lahk turn back to the door and stepped towards the prone figure.

“Helios, Helios… what am I going to do with you…”

The robed figure looked up from the ground, his normally arrogant face a mask of terror. Perhaps better than anyone in the room, the wizard was able to feel the power radiating off of Lahk like heat from an oven. He had known Lahk’s evil and power, and had thought his own a match for it… only the sliver of his soul Lahk had worn around his neck had made him the mage’s superior. It was only now that he was realizing how wrong he had been about the god spawned monster before him.

Uthielle took that vibrant pendant from around her own neck and returned it to her god. With a practiced gesture, Lahk accepted it and slung the soulshard around his throat, stroking it absently while the elf spoke. “He was in the Daggerport Brothel, ruling there in your name.”

Lahk made a disappointed ‘tsk’ noise. “Oh, wizard. First, you abandon me to die… then you try to claim a piece of what is mine?” His boot lashed out and struck the kneeling man in his gut. Helios was a fairly frail man, and it was more than possible that the strike had broken a bone or two despite Lahk’s lack of serious effort… not that the god cared. Absently, he turned to watch his demonic handmaidens sticking their fingers into each of the tortured priestesses holes in turn, then bringing their hands to her mouth and feeding her the divine cum that had been marinating her.

“Can you give me a single reason that you are still useful enough to be kept alive?”

Helios was trying to catch his breath, but nevertheless managed to choke out the words his life depended on. “The war on the dwarves. Send me to the front lines there… let me prove my alliegence, my lord…” For once, the wizard was completely in earnest. He had never been afraid of death, and still was not… but he was entirely certain that the god who now walked before him was capable of so much worse. Shivers of unbelievable agony ran through his body each time Lahk stroked the stone on his necklace, even without the god putting any effort or thought into the gesture. If he willed it, Helios could be made to suffer for eternity, or be completely obliterated with nothing left for Caer to damn.

“You? A common soldier of a church…” Lahk chuckled, amused by the idea of Helios debasing himself so. “Perhaps you will be given one more chance.” The god turned to Caleb. “Was my high priestess a good girl?”

Uthielle shuddered as she felt Lahk’s gaze flick over her, averting her eyes and staring at the ground rather than meet her lord’s eyes. “Yes,” Caleb answered, disappointment in his voice. “She’s perfectly tamed and boring. Not much sport, even if you trained her very well my lord.”

Lahk snickered, and the elf sent a small prayer to him that he would be pleased by this, rather than disappointed. “Perhaps you would like to amuse yourself with the angel’s priestess here? I need to have a… discussion… with my wizard here.”

Caleb looked in open lust towards the bed, where the twin succubi were taking full pleasure in their use of the defeated warrior. “I would be pleased to.”

Lahk picked up Helios, dragging him to his feet by the hem of his robe. “Come, my pet,” he said, and Uthielle followed him from the room as Caleb approached the defeated high priestess…

“Are you sure confronting Lahk is a good idea?”

Liam’s voice was the first sign he was awake. She had been awake for a long time now, staring off at the distant form of the Veil as it showed against the dawn. She had thought him sleeping behind her still, but it seemed not.

He walked into her vision, stepping alongside her and turning his gaze in the same direction. Through her peripheral vision she admired his form, his face. The handsome man was a prince… at least technically. Now that the Royal House of Silas had fallen, it was possible he was no longer an heir to anything, anymore than she was with the destruction of Caladwen. Still, the way his dark hair waved in the wind, the way the stubble on his face spoke of too long without a shave, too long spent traveling, remind her of better times, of happier time before she had ever heard the name Lahk.

Alassiel didn’t have a good answer to Liam’s question immediately, so she didn’t answer. The prince didn’t mind… he was patient enough to wait. He loved acting as her conscience, and he was fiendishly good at it… able to make her think through anything, even something as obvious as her drive to confront a murdering monster of a rapist.

But was it really that obvious? That was the real question he was asking, she was sure of it… and it wasn’t because Liam didn’t want badly to put the newly forged god into the ground. Everything he did resonated with a barely restrained anger, a burning passion for violent retribution against the sadist that was only held back by years of careful discipline. What he was asking, really, was if she was prepared to walk down the road of vengeance yet again.

She turned her gaze back to where her apprentice still slept. Pale white hair covered equally pale skin, hiding the albino elf’s face from view, but still the dark marks of eyrn eregdos, so similar to her own, were plainly visible to the goddess. She had suffered as nearly as badly as Alassiel herself had, but she had come out strong… just like the new elven goddess had herself, like iron forged in a crucible of flame. She deserved to have her suffering repaid as much as anyone…

But the answer was no. She did not want to walk that road again… she had realized that when she hadn’t slain Cerec. Alassiel no longer had any desire for revenge against Lahk or anyone else, much to her own surprise. Of course, she hadn’t exactly helped Cerec either, but that was not her responsibility. If she suffered the consequences of her own actions, the guilt for that did not rest on the druid’s shoulders. What Alassiel did feel was anger… the kind of burning, raging fire that turns a blaze into a city engulfing inferno.

And it felt clean. There was too much invested in a desire for vengeance… too much pain and mixed motives. There was guilt, rage, fear, disappointment, and much more mixed up in the complex though process. Right now, though… the only thing she felt was fury, and a desire to prevent Lahk from hurting anyone else. She could scarcely believe it, but what he had done to her no longer felt as important to her as what he was doing to others, and would continue to do unless someone stopped him.

And she was the only one who could.

She met Liam’s eyes, and the prince smiled as he read her gaze like words were written in the golden glow. “Good.” He said, turning back to the horizon and picking up his spear from the ground. “Just wanted to make sure.”

One thought on “Chapter 1: Tides of Shadow

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