Chapter 3: The High Priest

Last Edited 4/10/19

Tabharos was a grim coastal town, sandwiched between a chain of small mountains and the cold, leaden waters of the ocean. It rose into semi-prominence as a perfect transit and resupply port for many ships traveling north and south as well as merchants using the old Sea Road. When the road came into disrepair, and respectable merchant ships began avoiding this port due to a sudden increase in pirate activity, however, the golden age of Tabharos came to an end.

This didn’t mean that the city became desolate – far from it. Smugglers, pirates, bandits, alchemists dealing in forbidden drugs and poisons, people on the run from the law – everyone could find here a safe haven. Above all else such a place attracted gamblers. Many, many gamblers. And gamblers needed luck. Despite this, the aggressive, masculine, even misogynistic nature of many residents of Tabharos made sure that this town never became very popular with Ariadna’s priestesses. Besides, people gambling here rarely were content in wishing for luck – they preferred to hope everyone else didn’t get it, which is why Karn’s cult grew quickly here.

Even before Jaras left the fighting pits, the main temple of Karn has been moved here among the half-ruined houses, destroyed buildings. Amidst the sea of filth, poverty, and desperation, the temple stood as a monument to the cruel god. A massive structure, all of red and grey stone, towered above every other building, serving as not only the main place of worship but also as barracks, a gambling den where luck could leave someone in an instant, bringing total ruin. With the church enjoying nearly complete autonomy within its wall, it also it served darker purposes…

Right now, the group of captured priestesses was led into it. The road has been long for them and for the most part they had been allowed to travel in a wagon. Every night, a couple of them were chosen for the guards as entertainment. Jaras had chosen one to entertain him, as well – the red-haired one that had defied him earlier. At first, she was strong, feisty – but after a couple of nights of her screams, she began to break, transforming into a sobbing wreck. The high priest of Karn had a knack for breaking women, it seemed. Ariadna, her divine shapes attracting many stares, had also been often chosen by the soldiers and rarely did she fall asleep without cum drizzling from her holes or drying on her skin. She took this abuse in silence, without complaining, trying to focus on hearing moans and sobs from other raped priestesses – her personal torture and hell for letting this to happen.

She didn’t even know their names. As their goddess, she had known every one of them but the feel of their souls, by their minds and their prayers, their hopes, and their dreams. Without that, she found she didn’t know the simplest things about them.

For failing to protect her flock, she deserved what happened to her.

The only relief for the women was that the soldiers wanted their victims to be in the best possible state when they reached Tabharos, they didn’t hurt them – much. They were going to be a show. Now, just before the city gates, they were taken from the wagons, forced to walk through the streets chained under the watchful eyes of the guards. When the entire caravan was marched into the city through a gate that was almost falling apart, through a ring of walls that seemed little more than ash… the ancient city was so decayed with time and neglect that its defenses… not that anyone would ever dare to try to conquer Tabharos lest they face terrible misfortune and Karn’s displeasure. It was the city of the one true god of all Luck, and now, Ariadna was here. She felt his presence hanging over it almost as much as she felt it when he was in her domain – and she hated it the same.

Jaras, High Priest of Karn

Jaras was driving in the front, his remaining priests behind him, with Ariadna, the redheaded priestess – whose name Ariadna didn’t even know – and the other women marched in, followed by soldiers. Crowds had gathered for this triumphant march, and they cheered at Jaras – but as soon as they saw the women, cheering became booing and shouts of praise turned into indecent and degrading slurs hurled against the helpless women.

These women had always relied on Ariadna for strength… but the only strength she could give to them was to be an example. Instead of flinching at the hatred and lecherousness of the crowd as the captive women walked, Ariadna strode with her head held high, her gaze a withering glare as she swept her eyes over the crowd. Not everyone she looked at looked away… but many did. She did her best to ignore the insults and objects thrown at her, tuning out the mockery of the cruel men as they were lead into the fortress temple.

The temple was crowded… there were plenty of soldiers and priests of Karn both waiting in the courtyard, laughing and leering at the priestesses as the new captives were marched into sight. Ariadna noted naked women already among the crowd, copper collars around their necks, their eyes looking anywhere but at the new captives as they marched in. Ariadna and her fellow priestesses had to walk through a gauntlet of grasping hands and pinching fingers as they moved between the lustful men… her own tits were slapped, twisted, even punched once, even as her ass was slapped and felt up. One man even managed to push a finger into her pussy for a second before she walked past him, wrenching his finger out of her body. Most of the priestesses were crying now… Ariadna wouldn’t. She had to be strong for them.

Jaras awaited them in the center of the Courtyard, dressed in golden and crimson armor and looking every bit the mirror of her Brother’s foulness to the fallen Goddess. Two collared women knelt at either side of him, eyes downcast, but the High Priest paid no attention to them, focusing instead of the priestesses being marched forward and corralled into ranks facing him by the soldiers. Slowly, the jeering and laughing of the crowd fell silent as Jaras raised one fist… whatever else the man was, he was strong to command the obedience of such an unruly mob of mercenaries and ruffians.

When all was silent, he spoke. “Your goddess,” he said, spitting the last word, “is dead.”

Sobbing and cried accompanied his words. Jaras let them continue for a few moments before he nodded to his men, and those priestesses that were still making noise were struck from the back, driving them to their knees or to completely collapse. “Karn is the only God of Fate and Fortune now… and he is your god now… and you WILL worship your true god.” He looked down to the women at his side, one after the other. “Look at these girls. Once, they were stupid sluts like you, worshiping a false goddess at a shrine in Davosport. But they’ve learned the truth… haven’t you girls.”

“Yes master…” they said in unison. Ariadna could hear no emotion in their voice at all, no conviction but also no lie. It was the dead tone of women completely without hope.

“If you submit, renounce the dead pretender Ariadna, and recognize Karn as your true god, you will be permitted to serve. You will be given to a priest, whose duty it will be to teach you the true gospel of Fate and Fortune, and you will be allowed to begin a new life as a worshiper of the true God.” He held up a copper collar, like those the other slave women in the crowd wore… To Ariadna’s horror, she realized they must all be former priestesses of hers. More people she had failed to protect. “This is the gift to those that embrace the truth and submit to our Father’s wisdom. No more foolishness, no more pain, no more concerns over the false promises of freedom. A life of service to your true god.”

He sneered at the crowd as he tossed the collar into the mud. “And for the rest of you? Personally, I’d just sell you all to a brothel, but the mercy of Karn is boundless. He believes you are faultless for your false worship, deceived by a lying whore of a false goddess, and that you are all to be saved. You are all his, and if you hold to your false idols, we are going to teach you the truth… one way or the other.” He chuckled then turned to the slave on his left. “Leah, how long did you resist before you took your new vows?”

“Two days, your grace,” she said without looking up.

Jaras turned the other way. “And you Jaya?”

“Two weeks, your grace.”

The high priest smiled. “And don’t you wish you had submitted earlier?” Jaya slowly nodded, still not looking up, but her face was flushed with shame. Jaras chuckled again. “Is anyone ready to swear your undying loyalty and servitude to the church of the True God now?” he asked, looking out over the crowd…

There was long, heavy silence. No priestess wanted to be the first one to speak, the first one to betray not only her goddess but also her friends. But the presence of all those guards, priests and of the archpriest himself did make it hard to resist. Worst of all was the pitiful sight of other priestesses who have been hurt and broken and eventually made to forswear their vows.

“Not one of you?” Jaras asked with a wide smile “If you were to ask your friends, they would tell you that it is better to take the vow earlier rather than later. Isn’t that right?”

“Yes, your grace” Jaya and Leah said in unison.

“So, not one of you will show reason and accept the inevitable? Accept the true god?” he asked again.

There was another moment of silence, and then one woman took a step. She was a tiny, petite little thing and was blushing so hard that her face became the color of her hair. She did her best not to look at her colleagues, at the priest – she just looked at her feet. She remembered her from the temple – the blonde priestess had been the one to proclaim that Ariadna had abandoned them to their fate.

“I – I wish to swear my… my… loyalty to Karn… the one… one true god of Fate.” she stuttered.

Ariadna did her best not to shudder at these words. She felt an almost physical pang of pain piercing her heart, her soul. So that is where all those feelings she felt during the march came from. It was from her followers – many, many followers – renouncing their faith in her.

She couldn’t help but feel some disappointment at her priestess surrendering so easily. She knew it was almost selfish of her, but couldn’t stop feeling that. She also couldn’t help but wonder what that woman was thinking. Was she so deathly afraid of the pain she would feel? Was she feeling bad because of her choice? Beneath the feeling of disappointment, however, Ariadna had to admit she felt a bit of relief. It was as selfish of a feeling as her disappointment – the woman leaving her faith behind meant that Ariadna was not going to be responsible for the woman suffering any further punishment or pain.

An endless heartbeat later, another woman spoke. “I wish to swear my loyalty to Karn, the one true god of Fate,” she said, her voice not breaking down for a second. She was a tall, dark-skinned woman, taller than some men, with large breasts and long, strong legs. Ariadna could see on the woman’s face that she was ashamed of her choice – but otherwise determined to go through with it.

And then another woman stepped forward and another – five in total.

“Treasonous whores!” one of the priestesses next to Ariadna whispered in an angry voice.

“Don’t be too harsh on them…” the goddess started to say, but soon she and the other woman screamed in pain as lashes fell on their backs.

“No talking!” one of the guards shouted.

“Yes, no talking,” Jaras agreed. “Don’t disturb the ceremony. The new converts need to get their priests. Bring them forward,” he ordered, and a rush of his soldiers took the women from behind – two per priestess – and half escorted half dragged the five women up in front of the others, pushing them onto their knees before the high priest. “So… five of you,” he said, running his eyes over the naked bodies of the priestesses. They were lovely, to be sure – young and beautiful and naked in the sun as the knelt in the mud. Jaras was staring down at them, examining their bodies one at a time – running his hands through their hair and over their tits and across their cheeks.

“You five have been wise enough to accept the truth… that your false goddess was a lying whore, a deceitful, thieving bitch no better than a doxie on the docks of Tabharos. You are wise… or you are clever.” He slapped one of them. “Perhaps you are lying whores like your false goddess, yes? Perhaps you are just hoping to avoid your righteous punishment. Isn’t that true!”

“NO!” The dark skinned girl said. “Ariadna is a slut! A false goddess!”

Jaras moved his hand to her tit, grabbing her nipple and twisting it. “Say it again, cunt.”

She screamed. “Ariadna is a whore! A cunt fit only to be fucked by the one true god, to be purified by his holiness!” Amid the other priestesses, Ariadna flinched where she stood, shrinking before the cruel words – words that rang with a certain degree of blasphemous truth, a recognition that she had been raped by her brother and destroyed. It hurt to hear the words, burned like fire.

Laughing, the high priest let go of her tit, letting her moan as he walked away from her to the next girl. “I like that. I like that,” he chuckled. “Say it again. Everyone.” He paused. “EVERYONE!” he yelled.

“Ariadna is a whore!” the five priestesses said again. Many of them were uncomfortable, uncertain… more than one voice broke during the words.

“Pathetic. Louder!” Jaras demanded.

“Ariadna is a whore!” This time, the five priestesses were more certain this time, and definitely louder.

Jaras, however, was not satisfied. He drove his foot into the stomach of the tiny blonde woman who had spoken first, making her cough and gasp. “LOUDER!” he shouted.

“ARIADNA IS A WHORE!” All five priestesses, even the one choking for breath, said the words as loudly as they could. So did Jaya and Leah kneeling behind Jaras. So did most of the broken, collared slaves among the priests. And so did the beautiful red-haired priestess that Jaras had raped most of the way to this city, the priestess crying out the words amidst her fellows.

The high priest laughed, gesturing for two of his guards to bring her forward as well. “I believe you,” he said with a smile. “So it will be six of you. Good.” He raised his voice slightly. “I have six souls in search of enlightenment. Do I have six who will teach them the ways of the one true god?”

It seemed to Ariadna that the words were a ritual… he wasn’t actually asking. There was no hesitation, no pause… six priests and only six priests stood forward immediately, no doubt chosen in order ahead of time, to walk in front of the six kneeling women. They faced the kneeling priestesses, and the crowd of captives behind them, as they stood tall above their new “wards.”

“As of this moment, you six are initiates of the Worship of Karn, the God of Fate. These men,” Jaras said, “Will be your instructors and masters on your path. They have been chosen by Karn himself to be effigies of his divine might and wisdom, his personal representative in your training. To you, they are your god for now… you are to treat them as though Karn himself were standing before you.” He smirked as the six priests undid their pants, pulling them down to reveal six hard cocks to the eyes of the disgraced former priestesses. “Show them your devotion.”

From back in the crowd, Ariadna couldn’t see if any of the six resisted, or even hesitated. A few moments later, however, the gagging noises were impossible to miss as the men thrust their cocks deep into the women’s throats. Several of the women around Ariadna were crying now, trying to stifle their sobs lest they be whipped again, watching while the men forced their former sisters to deepthroat their cocks.

One by one, the men came. When it was time, they pulled out of the girl, jerking their cocks in one hand until they sprayed all over the woman’s face. Ariadna couldn’t see it, but she could easily imagine it, could practically feel the slimy cum on her own skin. Then next man came on his new initiate – his new whore, Ariadna though ruefully – and then the next man and the next until all six women had their faces plastered. Then their new owners brought them to their feet, turning them around so they could see their sisters, and the others could see the women’s disgrace, before fastening a new copper collar around their necks.

“These six,” Jaras said slowly, “were the wise ones. Soon, they will be given food, a bath, and a bed. They will spend their days being instructed in the faith by their kind teachers. Meanwhile, you stupid sluts, servants of a slut goddess, will be being punished.” He looked away from them. “Take them to the stakes.” The crowd parted a bit as the soldiers grabbed Ariadna and the other priestesses, dragging them off into the crowd until they could see a sea of posts in the ground with shackles attached to them. Ariadna was lead between two of them, her wrists brought up and chained on either side. Then her ankles were likewise shackled until she was stretched in the shape of an X between the wooden posts, and all around her, the other women were suffering the same.

Over the crowd, Ariadna could see the cum-splatted faces of the six priestesses, their “mentors” holding them from behind. They were making them watch, Ariadna knew… they wanted them to see what they had avoided by giving in. An incentive not to relapse, she supposed. Then the first scream down the line distracted her. The goddess couldn’t see what had caused it, but a few seconds later she felt the kiss of a whip on her back and screamed herself. She didn’t even have time to finish her scream before a second slash crossed her back, drawing another burning line across her perfect skin, then her tormentors started to rain punishment down on her, torturing her faster than she could cry out.

Vaguely, through the pain, Ariadna began to grow aware that men were gathering in front of her and the other priestesses, milling around as they stared at them, but they were only being whipped from one side, behind them… and the reason became obvious as the men started to undo their pants as they walked up, pressing up against Ariadna from the front even as the whips crashed in behind her yet again…

The first soldier who approached Ariadna – a towering scarred brute with a surprisingly clever face and uniform showing that he was an officer in her Jaras’ army – didn’t even undress. Besides, why would he? It was enough to just undo his pants and pull out his thick, engorged cock – anything more would take away from the time he could use to fuck her.

“Aieee!” Ariadna screamed as more lashes fell on her back, her body yanking forward, towards the soldier, unwillingly giving him a most indecent show, presenting her body.

His large, strong hands grabbed her full breasts and squeezed them hard.

“Nooo!” the goddess moaned at his new source of pain as the soldier began hungrily kneading and mauling her breasts.

His body was next to hers, his cock touching her pussy lips almost in a teasing way. Each time the whip fell on her back, Ariadna body bucked forward, almost humping the men in front of him, her screams, agony, and body moving against him arousing him even further.

She knew it wouldn’t take him long to begin to fuck her and she was right. The sounds of flesh smacking flesh coming from everywhere around her, coming to her even over the screams of whipped priestesses – and through her own screams – told her that other soldiers already started abusing their victims. The fact that no one hurried her abuser to get on with the rape showed her how respected – and feared he was. Soon however he let go of one of her breasts, using his hand to place the head of his cock at the entrance of her pussy.

“Noo!” she began to whisper, against better judgment “Noooooo!” he plea was transformed into a long wail as the whip fell on her ass.

“Soon you will regret not offering to serve Karn,” he whispered into her ear before licking it – and then pushed his cock forward and upwards, ramming it into her dry, unprepared hole.

“Aieee!” she screamed loud, disgusted with how pathetically weak she – once a goddess – became.

The pain of her whipped back and raped pussy joined into one agony, an agony that transformed her into a writhing, shivering, screaming wreck just as surely as it would do a mere mortal. Perhaps even more so – she had only the events of the last few days to learn of suffering, while mortals had their whole lives to learn how to deal with pain. Ariadna was beginning to learn, however – the priests and soldiers of Karn were willing and able teachers.

The soldier in front of her savored the feeling of her tight cunt gripping his cock – especially when she clenched around him when lashes kept falling on her back. Quickly that ceased to be enough. His strong hands let go of her abused breasts and grabbed her hips, his fingers digging into her flesh, though the pain from that was almost nonexistent to everything else she was feeling.

“I’m glad I got to fuck you,” he said to which Ariadna reacted only with another moan.

With quick, short, furious thrusts he began to fuck her, each push driving his thick meat deeper into her, ripping another soft cry out of her lips. At the same time, the whipping of her back continued. Each lash made her unwilling body buck against the man in front of her, rubbing her sore breasts against the rough shirt on his chest, her pussy clenching on his dick and moving on him as if she was a whore in heat, fucking him.

His moans – so different to her cries but accompanying them – showed her how great it felt for him to fuck her hurting body.

The whip rained down on her back like he was trying to flay her with it… her head whipped from side to side in agony, her pale hair tossed from side to side like a dancer’s shawl as she was rocked between her filthy rapist and the pain stretching across her back and ass. She couldn’t really see her priestesses, not in any detail… she could see them being whipped, being raped, but not what state they were in… by all that was holy, they were going to kill them! She was tougher than then, and it was killing her!

“Stop!” she screamed. “Leave them alone. Leave th…” her cries cut off suddenly as the man in her pussy squeezed his hand down on her throat.

“Shut up, slut… you’re hurting my ears. The only way a bitch like you should hurt a man is by squeezing my cock too hard.” He grunted as he slammed deep into her especially hard, lifting her feet off the ground for a second with the force of his thrust before she sagged back down onto his strong body. The whip crashed across the small of her back, but Ariadna had no breath left to scream with.

Then, her eyes wide, she noticed Jaras staring at her with narrowed eyes from his raised platform.

Her blood went cold as she looked away from the high priest. He knew… or he suspected. Something. Her outburst hadn’t gone unnoticed… Jaras was already looking for the High Priestess he suspected still lived, and she could not afford to fall under suspicion. If she did, the high priest might discover the far more damning truth. The moment the hand relaxed on her throat, she drew a deep breath and screamed. “Mercy! Goddess, mercy!” she wailed and cried pathetically as she was raped like a whore. “Please, don’t forsake us!” she screamed.

The man fucking her didn’t last much longer before he filled her cunt with his jizz. She could feel the vile heat pouring into her, and it made her want to gag… doubly so when she noticed that another man was waiting for his turn to fuck her. At least there was tiny mercy that for a minute the whip paused in its work while her man lashing her also swapped out, but her respite didn’t last long before she was being fucked and tortured yet again. Only when her second rapist was finishing with her did Ariadna dare to steal a glance towards the High Priest.

Jaras wasn’t looking at her anymore – he was scanning the others, watching their punishment for refusing him one by one. Looking for the Archpriestess of a fallen Goddess. She had fooled him, for now – and it had only cost her one more of the ragged scraps of her pride and dignity.

Then she had a third rapist pushing his way into her, and she had no more time to think about Jaras, or do anything but bathe in misery and pain.

The gang rape went on until the sun began to set. Ariadna had long since lost count of her rapists. After a time, the whipping had become less frequent, less enthusiastic, but that was made up for by how sore her hole had become… even the breeze she felt between rapes was agony on her tender slit now. Many of her priestesses had been fucked unconscious, and she could do little but hope that they were only unconscious and not dead. Jaras had grown tired of the show and retired some time ago, taking the two former priestesses that were his whores now with him. They had renounced her… she could no longer feel them at all. Still, she could imagine everything that monster was doing to them, and her soul ached in sympathy for the two women.

After all, they hadn’t betrayed her… she had betrayed them. They had looked to her for guidance and protection… and she had given them only a fate of rape and slavery and suffering at the hands of her brother’s church in payment for their trust and faith. She deserved every “betrayal” she got.

She was brought out of her reverie by the splash of ice cold water on her skin, shaking her into a tormented scream. She could hear the mocking laughter of the soldiers who had thrown it, but they didn’t wait around until she stopped sputtering… they had already moved onto the next priestess, dousing her as well. A few at a time, a dozen soldier or so made their way through the staked out priestesses, soaking them all before walking off, still laughing to themselves.

When night fell on the port city, it fell hard. The temperature started dropping far faster than Ariadna had expected, and soon even her body was shuddering – it felt like she was coated in ice. Her wet hair felt almost like tiny knives across her back, and from the tormented moaning of the other girls, she knew she wasn’t alone. They were all but completely helpless and unaware like this, too locked in their own half-conscious misery of hypothermia to pay any attention to the world… but not Ariadna.

She felt weak. Her exhaustion was draining, and the pain made it hard to focus. Pain, in general, was something that was going to take the former a long time to adjust to… she had thought it hurt when her brother had raped her, but the pain he had inflicted on her immortal body had been less than the mere aches and pains of simply living in even a young mortal body like hers. She had thought she had known pain… she had never had an idea of how her followers suffered compared to her. The thought filled her with determination.

She still had magic. That meant her brother hadn’t taken everything from her, nor had Taelin stripped everything. She was tired, she was weak, she was in pain… but her followers suffered worse, and none of them still had a spark of divinity left somewhere inside of them. If they were able to survive through the pain, she would do that and more… it was the least she owed them. First, she would get free of her bonds. Then she would free all of her followers. It wouldn’t be easy. She would need to burn this place to the ground, and she would need to kill Jaras before he knew what was happening. If he had a chance to react, her brother could feed enough power through their connection to easily overwhelm what paltry might she still had, but if she was quick enough, she could do it. She would kill them all, and…

And then what? How many of her priestesses would die, cut down by soldiers trying to escape? How many more would she kill herself in the blaze, if she could even conjure another one? She couldn’t – she refused – be responsible for the deaths of more people who had put their faith in her.

Jaras said he was doing this to punish them for not serving her brother, but she knew it was more than that. He wanted them alive and intact. Jaras wouldn’t risk their lives with this kind of torment unless he needed to. He was looking for the High Priestess, the poor, kind-hearted dead woman that Ariadna had been closer to than any of her other followers, the priestess he believed still lived. The only way that Ariadna had to protect them was to make Jaras certain that none of the other captives was the High Priestess.

And the only way he would be sure of that was if she made it clear to him that she was, but if she did that, and Jaras brought her before her brother’s altar, Ariadna felt sure the bastard would know her, mortal shell or not. So…

So she had to disappear. Now. And in a way that left no doubt that she was the one he wanted. She would be hunted – but her priestesses would be safe.

Safer, anyway.

She knew, though, that if she was going to act, she had to act now. Recalling the fiery rage, she felt before she reached to that part of her again – but this time she was careful not to let go, not to get lost in the hatred and urge to kill and hurt.

It was easier than she thought.

Sure, she wanted revenge, payback and the power to protect her people by hurting her brother’s followers – but it was not the only feeling in her soul. In fact, it was far from the strongest one. When she promised herself that she would do whatever it take to keep her priestesses alive, with that oath there came a sense of calm and serenity that she didn’t know since her fall.

She used it first to burn through the bonds holding her, making her fall to her knees. The posts that once held her were next, in an instant transforming into blazing torches. Meanwhile, Ariadna fell to the ground, for the moment at least ignoring the screams of the soldiers who saw the blaze.

She didn’t have to pretend being exhausted, hurting and almost broken – but she knew that she did have the strength to fight – if for a moment more at least. She didn’t move when the soldiers surrounded her body. From their voices and the shadows they were casting, she could count three of them.

“What the hell – how did the bitch do this?!” one said.

“Are you mad? It wasn’t her.” another said.

“Stop talking! Kill those fires!”

“Damn! We have to sound an alarm!”

“Are you nuts?! They will flay us alive! We have to clean this up fast!”

“And she can’t die, or we’re done as well!” one soldier said.

He reached, grabbing Ariadna by her arm and lifting her with a strong pull. As soon as she was on her feet, she attacked. She stabbed the man’s throat with her fingers. She didn’t even look as he fell back, gasping for air. The soldier behind her was next. Ariadna hit him with her elbow, shoving his nose and the front of his skull into his brain, killing him instantly. It hurt her as well, but she didn’t care. There was one last soldier to deal with. If he reached for his blade, he might have won, but he tried to subdue her.

He didn’t expect her being stronger than him. At first, he was surprised that she broke through his grip. Then he wanted to cry for help, but it was too late – her hands held him tightly by his throat. Slowly she forced him to the ground, not stopping strangling him for one heartbeat.

It was worse then the previous deaths she dealt – quick blows that with her superhuman strength carried instant death. Now she slowly, clumsily drained the life of this man. He was panicking now, tears running down his face as his hands were hitting and grabbing her arms, breasts, and neck in desperate attempts to save his life.

And then the light disappeared from his eyes, and he was dead.

Ariadna got up. She had to get away – but she saw the priestesses looking at her with a new feeling – hope. Finally, they had hope that escape was possible and a reprieve from this hell was possible. And to have them survive, she had to let them down. “Please…” one, a short, petite woman with shoulder-length wavy hair and most sharply green eyes Ariadna ever saw said “Please…”

“I’m sorry,” the goddess said. “I will come back for you…” she promised before she turned and ran away.

She wondered for a second if her “betrayal” would cause the priestesses to call the guards – but even though she betrayed them – yet again – they remained faithful towards one of their comrades. It made it even worse as she turned her back on them. It might be what she had to do… it might be for their own good… but Ariadna still hated herself.

Ariadna ran to the edge of the courtyard, fearing that others would catch sight of the commotion within their walls soon enough. The guards were mostly sleeping, and the nearby ones were already dead, but the fallen goddess needed to get the hell out of here before an alarm was raised. The gates were out of the question – even now, within their stronghold and after their celebratory holiday of gangrape and brutality, Ariadna felt sure that the gates would still be too heavily guarded.

Instead, the pale-haired woman ran her hands over the stone. It was old, cracked in many places, but still too high and too sheer to climb… for mortal hands, anyway. Ariadna pushed her fingers against the crack and shoved. The stone beneath her fingers crumbled. It hurt… but she accepted that as the cost of her betrayal and didn’t stop. She pushed harder… and her finger spread the crack just wide enough to grip onto. Her body wasn’t all that much stronger than a mortal’s now, but she was more durable, less yielding. She was tougher than the old stone, and it showed.

One hand over the next, Ariadna climbed over the fortress wall… the dark of a nearly moonless night concealing her. She heard no sound from within the fortress… but she felt the eyes of more than one priestess on her. No doubt the few of them that could see her wondered how she was doing this, but as long as they didn’t know the answer, they would be safe, for the moment. Then she stood at the top of the wall, looking down on the city and the bay below.

A snore from the top of the wall stiffened her back as she whipped her head around, spotting the guard sleeping at his post, a spear resting against his shoulder. Arianda took the spear and grabbed him by the throat, lifting him easily over her head as he woke with a start, kicking and choking. “Listen to me, you sack of shit,” she growled. “I have a message for Jaras. Let him know that the High Priestess will always oppose him, and his master. Let him know that he had me in his grip, and he failed to hold me. And let him know that the church of Ariadna will never die so long as I live. Tell him that… when you wake up.” She grinned. “I’ll take your cloak,” he said as she threw him against the ground, unconscious from lack of oxygen. The cloak he wore over his armor came off easily enough… it smelled like sweat and semen, but at least she wasn’t naked any longer. Ariadna turned back to the bay, looking down at the waves crashing down on the shore of Tabharos.

Ariadna turned and gazed down on her captive priestesses one last time. “I will be back for you all,” she whispered a promise. “I swear I will.” Then she stepped forward off the edge, disappearing into the darkness and the chill waters of the bay.

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