In which the balance of power changes,
Gods become mortals,
and mortals become Gods
Cerec’s role in Blackwand was to torment the prisoners, to make them suffer. The souls trapped within Blackwand needed to truly suffer for the sword to gain in power.
That doesn’t mean they had to be caused pain. Any mongrel can cause pain… but pain does not always cause suffering. A torture repeated too often would lose its effectiveness and become routine, and when a prisoner is more bored of a torment than she is terrified of it, then she is no longer truly suffering. The Avatar had to constantly think of new experiences for victims to experience, and for the ones who had been here the longest it was the most difficult.
Most prisoners broke completely after only a few years, and there was nothing more Cerec could do to them that would cause significant torment — these broken individuals would be used purely for his pleasure, or to torments other, or to feed into the arena, forcing others to kill them or be killed… potentially a torment in and of itself.
Of course, no one could truly die within the prison… no soul could escape its boundaries, so they would invariably reincarnate here… but while that presented an opportunity, it also presented a problem when a certain prisoner stood too far out of the norm and simply refused to be broken.
Sirae was Cerec’s greatest challenge. He had had the former goddess for a full twenty five years and he had made next to no progress in tormenting her at all. She healed injuries within hours, if not minutes, of receiving them. She was old enough, experienced enough, that she did not fear pain… and without the fear of permanent injury of death, she correctly believed that there was nothing to a painful torture but the pain itself. The despair that would make the pain turn into suffering was completely absent. Humiliation was better, but even that was only a mild suffering for the woman… she had simply lived too long and experienced too much to be easily embarrassed.
But she had weaknesses… no one was untouchable. He had raped her to death a dozen times, always being there to greet her when she came back to life. He had kept her on the edge of orgasm for years, never letting her over the edge. He had transformed into her former husbands and apprentices, striving to convince her that he was truly them, having been imprisoned without Blackwand for hundreds of years, only to rape her as he revealed the lie. He tormented her with burns, by far the most painful and draining injury a mortal body could live through and his favored tool for dealing with the truly powerful entities, like Sirae, that he had to torment.
But by far the greatest crack in her armor was that she was genuinely good, and cared what happened to the people around her.
25 years ago, Caladwen
Hero, they called her.
Lissa didn’t feel like a hero.
Even as the army marched back to Caladwen, leaving the Royal army to try and put the pieces of Maithum Falls and the govement of Silas back together, she heard no shortage of people calling for her to be honored. There was a new Archdruid after centuries, they said. She was the only one powerful enough, the only one brave and compassionate and strong enough to serve her people in the role.
She didn’t feel powerful, brave, compassionate, or strong. She had failed at everything.
Who knew how many thousands of innocents had died along the way, people who had never even touched a sword or a bow, killed by famine or plague? Who knew how many more would suffer without a royal family on the throne… would Silas collapse into another bloody war, this one for the right to rule? If she had managed to save the Royal family, that danger could have been avoided… but she had failed at that too, and so she had failed to protect Silas itself. Her mentor, her queen, her goddess was dead, murdered right before her eyes while she was incapable of rendering assistance. Sirae’s child was then stolen from her, right beneath her nose… and Lissa had no idea how to even begin trying to find it.
And the man who loved her, the man she had failed to give her own heart to in return, was dead.
Lissa felt like a failure.
“Get away from them you bastard!” Sirae roared as Cerec raped her ass, the mammoth cock tearing apart her hole with no pretense of trying to keep her intact. He simply did not care how useless her hole became or how much she bled, because when he returned tomorrow it would be like it never happened. Still, despite the pain tearing her apart, Blackwand’s Avatar knew that she was barely paying attention to him.
Instead her focus was riveted on her subjects… a dozen elves who had died in Blackwand’s cold fire during the War of Ascension, broken toys that he had tormented since then. They lay stretched out on the ground before her, bound tightly by a hundred writhing tendrils unwinding from Cerec’s gray flesh even as they were penetrated by even more of the thick tentacles. All of them she recognized, all of them she had spoken of before. All of them she had loved as her subjects, her soldiers, her worshipers, and her friends…
The agony of being unable to help them was worse than anything Cerec could do to her directly, and they both knew it. No pain that he could deal to her would compare against the anguish of her own failure.
Iltheria was one of her bodyguards, a brave soldier who had met her end alongside the goddess in the final battle… her life had been part of the price to allow Sirae to come to terms with the dark god, to meet Sanguinar in their fatal duel. Golden blond hair was slowly turned black as it was rubbed against the ground and frayed, a tendril of a cock pressing into all three of her holes with such fervor that it seemed that they wanted to meet in the middle of her body, tearing through her. The poor elf’s eyes were rolled back in her head from lack of air as one of the raping tendrils pushed almost down to her stomach, her throat bulging as the long shaft slid obscenely deep into her.
Cele, an ancient brunette of an elf, had been the general of the God Queen’s armies until she had perished in Sanguinar’s treacherous attack that began the war, slain in single combat with the dark god in an attempt to delay him and allow her forces to escape… and they had, but now she paid the price for her defiance. Her pussy was stuffed full, but her mouth was left empty — Cerec wanted to hear her screams as he pressed four tendrils together into her ass, twisting as he did. The drill of a cock tore into her, drawing fresh streaks of blood from her abused asshole as the Avatar stretched it far wider than it was ever meant to go. Cele’s agonized screams filled the room, masking many of the other sounds of the gang rape.
Terilielle, unlike the others, was a fresh victim — one of the royal guard who had died defending the throne of Caladwen from Lahk’s invasion. She had only been here for the past six months, rather than years, and still fought viciously against the attacking tentacles as they pinned her down and used her. As she was raped in every hole her enormous tits were twisted and squeezed, pressed together in order to allow another tendril to squeeze painfully between the swollen orbs and bump her chin with every thrust. To Sirae, the women represented a special failure — Terilielle had remained a loyal servant of hers long after her death, and protected Caladwen long after the goddesses own death, and her presence reminded the goddess that her home had now fallen beneath the church’s tyranny after all. The fact that she was here at all tried to convince her, with every muffled moan the poor blonde elf let out, that everything she had sacrificed in the war was for nothing.
These scenes were repeated throughout the room as a dozen elves were violated. All of them had served under her, or known her well. All of them she knew by name. All of them she had failed, and they were suffering because of her.
Her heart filled with rage and sorrow, Sirae began to push her own ass back against Cerec’s cock. She knew that the Avatar would continue raping her subjects forever if she let him — he would never tire, and never cum. The only way to make him stop was for her to milk his true cock with her ass, to serve him and bring him pleasure until he flooded her and the other girls with his seed… and he had to do it before Iltheria suffocated under his brutal throat-fuck.
Being raped was no great torment to the goddess anymore, but being forced to help him rape her? Watching helplessly as he hurt those whe cared about? That still hurt.
With a roar Cerec drove himself deeper into the elven goddess, savoring the feeling of her tight ass on his cock as he blew inside her… and as he did, every one of the tendrils that abused the elf women erupted all over them and inside them, covering them with sticky white paste even as he basted their insides with demonic seed. Laughing he pulled off the elf, playfully slapping her reddened ass as his cum dripped from her hole.
With a single gesture of effort he lifted all of the cum-covered elves into the air and carried them behind him as he strode from the room laughing. “I’m going to put our toys away, my dear…” he growled, his voice bubbling through his cephalid face. “…and then we can find new ways to play…”
Sirae watched with disgust as the foul Avatar left the room, the laugh fading into the distance as he want further down the passage. The instant she could no longer hear him, she turned her head to the darker side of the room, where the torchlight did not quite reach. “He’s gone, you can come out now.”
25 Years ago, Caladwen
It was disturbing to see Elide be so… nice.
Ever since they had returned to Caladwen, the black haired elf had been busy, but she had also been careful to always talk to Lissa, to keep her informed of everything going on in the tiny nation. Even when the general was appointed as the steward of Caladwen in the goddess’s absence, she always found time to dine with the druid, or to sit with her and speak about… nothing of consequence whatsoever.
The newly-minted steward wanted something from her. That much was obvious… Elide had never especially liked the red haired elf, but if she suddenly wanted to spend so much time with her, it was because the ever-practical Elide needed something from her… or needed her to do something.
Even expecting it, when the elf warrior told her that Lissa was going to be offered the rank of Archdruid, she almost screamed.
What the woman said was true. The people were demoralized… having won the war was a small consolation against having lost the god queen they had followed since time immemorial. They needed their heroes now, more than ever… and whether Lissa liked it or not, they considered her a hero — the fact that she didn’t deserve their praise was irrelevant in that fact.
How could Lissa tell them that she did not want to be the Archdruid? That she didn’t want to lead the druid order, or even be a druid any longer? That she had not used her magic or drawn strength from the earth since creating the memorial to Sirae? She couldn’t… because it wasn’t what they needed to hear.
And then, just like he had said she would, she remembered Liam’s words about how she would feel. He had been right… he was always right. And, just like her lover had also said, it was unfair of Lissa to blame the people for not understanding the horror of what she had done, the lives she had taken and the lives she had failed to save, because she had fought specifically to protect them from ever needing to understand.
What could she do? She accepted the position. And if she was crying when she told Elide that she would, and the steward mistook it for joy, then that was her failing.
Alassiel stepped out from behind a black stone pillar, where the shadows cast by the flickering fire had hidden her crouched form completely. “How did you know?” she asked.
Sirae smiled, the expression containing none of the pain the former goddess had to be feeling. “A teacher always knows,” she said, laughing a bit as she did. Then her face fell. “I can’t say I’m happy to see you again, Lissa. Not here. I grieved for you when you fell.”
Alassiel winced at the name, but said nothing about it. If anyone had the right to call her what she wished, it was her former mentor, and her goddess. “You knew I was here then?”
The fallen goddess nodded solemnly. “Cerec told me immediately. It was the first thing he’d done to me in two decades that truly hurt.”
Silence reigned between them for long seconds before Sirae spoke again. “We don’t have much time. I don’t know what kind of distraction you caused, but Cerec will deal with it and return very soon. I need you to do something for me.
The answer from Alassiel was instant. “Anything.”
Sirae nodded her head towards the far wall. It was a grisly trophy case, Alassiel saw instantly… souvenirs of Cerec’s abuse of the ancient elven queen. There were locks of her hair shorn off, and former piercings, like the ones the goddess bore now, and an ear that had been torn off and long since regrown and…
Alassiel gasped. Resting in one corner of the case, the oldest section containing the trophies from the longest ago, rested the hilt and battered remains of the shattered Moralltach.
Seventeen years ago, Caladwen
It took time, but eventually Lissa truly understood what the goddess had meant when she said fear of loss had never stopped her from living. She would never stop missing her mentor, and never stop loving her slain prince. She would never stop feeling guilty for having killed so many men, or for surviving when so many others she cared about had not.
But she had, with help, finally found a way to move on with her life.
Lissa smiled at the young initiate as she lost concentration of her spell and the globe of water collapsed on top of her white hair, gluing it to her scalp until she looked like a drowned, albino rat. She held up one tattooed hand to hide the smile behind — after all, she had to look dignified for her student.
“Interrupting me is not helpful,” Liriel said, a little petulant.
“Apologies, Liriel,” Lissa said, no longer able to disguise the smile but not especially concerned. It was amusing, like watching children play. Her mirth was not mean hearted, and she was sure her apprentice knew that… and she really did look silly all wet. “I’m sure all your foes will be so understanding.”
The young druid trainee sighed and began to dry her naked form with a towel. Lissa pointedly looked away. She knew of Liriel preference for women, and that she had once had something of a crush on her powerful mentor. The Archdruid had worked very hard to break her of the idea. Lissa was her mentor, and Liriel was barely an adolescent as far as elves were concerned, and Lissa own appetites ran in another direction, and it was simply never going to happen… so there was no point in doing anything to inflame those desires once more.
And if Lissa was being honest with herself, it was too soon for her to even consider another relationship. She was not sure enough time would have ever passed.
While avoiding looking at her apprentice, she decided to escape her thoughts by doing her job and teaching. “Your problem is you’re relying too much on your own internal energy. It’s far too slow, and takes your focus away from where it’s needed. You need to draw the power from the earth —” she poked at the piece of the small black web of tattoos just starting to appear on the initiates naked body, then gesturing to the tangle of tendrils on her own bare leg, flowing down to her right heel. “That’s what these are for.”
The initiate rolled her eyes.
“Now that you’re awake,” the Archdruid chuckled slightly, “Shall we complete another inch of eyrn eregdos?”
Still amused, still smiling, Lissa knelt down next to her apprentice and held her hands over her apprentices heart, where she had implanted a sacred seed the day she had chosen the albino elf as an apprentice… her first personal apprentice. In her role as Archdruid, the fire maned elf had striven to teach every druid everything she knew about bargaining with the elements, about controlling power and using it the way she did… but Lissa had quickly begun to realize so much of her own methods were instinctual, and all but impossible to teach. Worse, they relied on a thought process that was different than that of most other druids, instilled in her by the very different training she had received under Sirae’s tutelage… which Lissa was for the first time realizing was not standard practice for training a new initiate.
Lissa struggled to teach her contemporaries, but was dismayed to learn that even with the most enthusiastic of her students, she spent more time forcing them to unlearn the habits of decades or centuries than she did teaching them new techniques… and as respected as the Archdruid’s capabilities were, very few druids were willing to throw out everything they had learned and practiced for a fresh start. Slowly, it became clear to the ginger elf that she needed to start fresh to truly share her methods and, more importantly, her philosophy.
And so, when she found a struggling young albino elf five years ago who had a bright mind, a talent for magic, and eyes full of compassion, Lissa knew she had finally found the perfect elf to give the seed that the statue of Sirae had given her at the end of the war.
“I want you to reforge it,” Sirae said.
Alassiel could hardly hear her as she gripped the hilt of the mighty sword, shattered by Sanguinar’s power. Still holding the remains of the weapon, she turned to face her goddess. Her hands were trembling. “With this, can you…”
“Escape?” Sirae finished for her when the elf’s voice trailed off. Slowly, with a growing smile, she nodded.
The former archduid had not heard news this good in decades… possibly ever.
“Gather it up quickly, Lissa. Cerec will return soon.” Sirae urged, and Alassiel turned and sped to her task of collecting the shattered shards of Moralltach.
“How can it be reforged?” she asked as she worked.
The fallen goddess smiled. “I know someone who can help.”