Chapter Thirteen: Menelrûth

Thousands of Years ago

There were some times that Zegadu hated his skill as a smith.

There was a price to pay for being the greatest steel shaper ever known by his people or any other. He had been the first one to discover how to enchant the dead metal with power beyond the normal, how to feed enough magic into the steel to create a lasting enchantment in someone that was not alive… but the price was high.

Magic could only be attached to life, so a life had to be given up to make it last. Someone had to die for each amazing weapon he created, and even when he only worked with volunteers, beings willing to give up their souls to tie their fate forever to a weapon that would exist forever, the constant death that surrounded his art had taken a toll on the smith. Most days, he wished he had never discovered how to do it, or had never told anyone that he had.

Today, however… today he was glad.

The games were again in full swing, and the twin Avatars were enjoying the sight. It was their only form of competition their natures would allow, to see which of their pets could slay which of the others. They wouldn’t stay dead, of course — no soul could escape Blackwand — but their suffering in the meanwhile gave the Avatars a pleasant diversion from having to cause the pain themselves.

Which is why, when a stupid, pale haired elf stood in front of them and blocked their view, they could hardly believe it.

The female avatar snarled at the oblivious elf before them, the albino’s red eyes fixed on the fights below as a male with a spear slew his succubus foe, turning her to dust on the black sands of the arena. “Do you have a death wish? Move!”

The pale elf slowly turned, her tattoos shining in the shifting hues of the sky as she stared directly at Cerec. “Excuse me, I’m trying to watch,” she said, before spitting in her face and turning back.

The two Avatars looked at each other in complete disbelief.

The crowd had taken notice. Anyone watching from the section near the two Avatars had grown absolutely silent. Then, with a single thunderous leap, the male monster grabbed the weak elf and threw her into the arena, her skin scraping on the coarse grit even as the twin torments jumped down after her. The entire arena had become deathly quiet now, and all the combatants in the ring separated and drew as far away as they could from the Avatars of Blackwand as they entered the sands for the first time.

Moralltach was different.

The moment he started working on the sword, he knew that there was something very, very different about it. The metal all but shaped itself under his will, the normally dead metal seemingly completely compliant and eager to be bent to a useful form by the master smith. The sword was slender, but had far more layers of folded steel within it than the dwarf had ever been able to put into a blade before now, and it was surprisingly heavy. Even as he worked, though, he knew it would be perfectly balanced regardless. The hilt seemed to grow heavier as he worked, hardly needing to use his skills to move the denser metals into the grip and shift the weight of the sword to the grip.

Most amazingly of all, the sword was growing more and more magical all the time, without the need of a life to sacrifice.

Alassiel timidly walked into the vast chamber, empty except for an angel crucified against the far wall. He had suffered worse than any other being the druid had ever seen… his entire form was covered with burns to the point his face was all but featureless, and his fingers crisped until they were little but bones.

Still, as she entered the cavern, her bare footsteps seeming to echo loud through the enormous cave, the angel looked up at her and seemed to smile, his hideous face twisting into the shape that made a mockery of the happy expression. “Hello Alassiel.”

The elf stopped, still clutching the shards of Sirae’s sword in her hands. “You are… Tir?”

The angel nodded solemnly. “And you are the reason I’m still alive.” His smile, as it was, seemed to widen.

“I don’t understand…”

Tir laughed. “I know. Forgive me… what I mean to say,” he spoke with a halting voice, as though the very effort of speaking caused him incredible pain. Alassiel wondered if his insides were as burned as his outer form. “… is that I’ve kept myself alive with the hope that one day, someone would bring that sword back to me.”

He looked up at her. “I was a part of making it long ago, you see…”

Alassiel stepped up to Tir. He smelled rotting, dying… she admired his bravery to continue existing like this and remaining sane. “You can repair it?”

He shook his head and chuckled a little bit. “The sword does not need to be repaired, girl. It needs to be healed.” As Tir closed his eyes, the shards of Moralltach began to glow golden. “And I can’t heal it… but you can.”

This sword was supposed to be powered by the angel Tir, a force of justice in the untamed lands. After hundreds of thousands of years of struggle, however, the old angel had grown… tired. He could no longer bring himself to fight, so he had chosen bravely to lend his power to someone who could. This sword was to be crafted for an angel named Caer, one of the brightest shining lights in the history of the entire race of Celestials.

However, before the eyes of both smith and sacrifice, the sword was growing strong without the need of life at all. Zegadu’s eyes, so sensitive to the flow of magic around his creations, watched with awe as tendrils of golden energy flowed into the blade from the earth itself, sealing the power away in the iron even while he worked and making the sword, somehow, completely alive even as it was shaped into a weapon. The ground beneath the dwarf’s feet was sacrificing a portion of its own power to create Moralltach, an avatar-less sword of living steel that the smith immediately understood would be one of his crown jewels, one of the greatest creations of the smith’s entire existence.

In the end, the sword would not suit Caer. There was only one who could wield a blade like this… and Zegadu’s breath caught in his throat at the idea of presenting it to her.

“Do you think you’re tough, little girl…” Cerec whispered, her breasts pressing into Liriel’s as she lay ontop of her and stared into her eyes. “We’ve obviously been going too easy on you if you were stupid enough to do something like that…” The Avatar pressed her hand against Liriel’s beasts, her sharp fingernails scratching the pale flesh as the albino elf shook beneath her savage embrace. One of her hands was pinned beneath her body, and the other beat helplessly on the coarse black sand beneath her.

The young druid had provoked the attack, as deliberately as she did anything, but now she had to sell it. Liriel did not need to act terrified — she absolutely was terrified of Cerec — but she had to do more than that.

She spat in the woman’s face again.

The slap hurt at least as bad as she thought it would. Cerec’s razor sharp nails slashed across her cheek and the druid could taste blood in her mouth. Her ears were ringing, and she couldn’t hear what the male Avatar was saying, though he was certainly saying something… she could hear the watery voice. The woman on top of the young druid answered, and then the gray monster that was the Cerec’s male form began to shout.

The ringing sound in Liriel’s head ended in time for her to hear the end of whatever he was saying. “…so if you make this whore suffer anytime this week, we will not touch you for one week afterward. Understood?”

The crowd muttered until Cerec stomped his massive foot, sending the sand spraying. The echo shook the arena, and everyone went silent again. “Who volunteers to go first?”

The female Avatar, still pinning Liriel to the ground, pointed to one of the demons in the crowd. “That one…” she hissed.

The albino druid squirmed beneath Cerec’s grip as the demon approached her. He was human sized, with blue skin and an impressive grid of scars covering his entire form — a person could trace his finger from the top of his head down to his toes without ever leaving a scar, and could pick a variety of routes. The silence in the crowd now was ghastly. “Please don’t do this…” Liriel pleaded softly as the creature approached her, a cock already growing out of his body like it was being unsheathed from a hood, like a wild animal. He blew the breath from her as he crushed her body beneath his, dropping on her and completely ignoring her pathetic begging for mercy. “Leave me alone!” She shouted, being sure to start weeping. They would love that… “Let go of me, goddess please!”

Cerec forced her mouth on Liriel’s, biting her lips and forcing her tongue into the druid’s mouth. She stank like a corpse, and it was all the white haired druid could do to not vomit as the demon started rubbing his now exposed cock between her spread legs, but she retched heavily anyway, her legs kicking in the air as she futilely fought against the Avatar’s vast strength pinning her. It gave the demon easy access to her body, and Liriel began to scream as she felt him pressing the head of his cruel cock into her, forcing her open and impaling her like a spike while she was unable to do more than twist and moan and cry.

Her head snapped back and free of the invading tongue, letting out an echoing scream that filled the arena as the cock pushed fully into her, pressing savagely against her cervix with bruising force. Her back arched and her legs snapped straight, unable to do more than tremble while the demon began thrusting his hips and began to fuck the helpless elf, her screams intensifying as he pulled out and drove himself relentlessly back in.

Then, in time with the vicious rape, the male Avatar began to whip her breasts. Cerec had unwound one of his twisted arms into a dozen thin, lashing tendrils, and he brought the scaled things down on her tits with every move of the demon’s, drawing angry red welts across her soft breasts and drawing new sounds of anguish from the defiant girl. “Let me taste your sorrow, slut…” the other Avatar whispered to her before again sealing her lips over Liriel’s allowing the pale druid to scream directly into her mouth to the cruel monster’s great satisfaction.

Liriel could not stop sobbing with each new invasion of her body, with each cruel lash of her already sore breasts. The shame of being used in front of the entire audience was a new torture for the young elf, and both Avatars basked in the pitiful sensation, feeling her pain with each new thrust into her depths as the demon began to increase his pace, and the thought of this foul demon filling her with foul seed in full view of everyone was almost too much to bear… but she new she had no choice.

Much of the crowd was cheering now. For the most part, only the beings that were already the most violent came to watch the games, and they thrilled at the sight of Liriel’s punishment, smiling in fond thoughts of winning a week’s freedom from the twin Avatars as long as they hurt her as badly as the demon was doing now — a pleasant act in and of itself. The roar of the mob made it hard for the druid to even hear her own moans of pain, growing more frequent and louder as the demon came closer to finish in her, driving into Liriel harder and faster, the sounds of his pleasure echoing in her ear as his cock began to swell inside her hole.

Liriel screamed into Cerec’s mouth as she felt the huge dick throb and spew blisteringly hot cum deep inside her, coating her insides completely as the demon drained his balls and collapsed on top of the sobbing girl. She was forced to lay there beneath him for long seconds, tears rolling down to soak her hair and fall into the hard, scratching sand. It was a bitter consolation that lying atop her like the demon was, Cerec could no longer whip her. She stiffened even as his cock softened, falling out of her as it lost its length and girth and leaving his cum to leak from her abused cunt, running down her crotch and towards her asshole.

“Leave…” the female Avatar whispered, and the mere thought of provoking Cerec’s displeasure sent the hardened beast fleeing from the arena at incredible speeds even as the woman gestured for another to approach. “I want this one to fuck those raw tits while you whip her pussy, brother…”

The male Avatar laughed, the sound bubbling up like from a vast distance beneath the waves, and he shifted his position even as a new elf approached, a male with black hair and a missing eye, and to her horror Liriel realized she knew him although they had never met. It was Elrek, a traitor from out of elvish history who had attempted to lead a coup against Sirae for control of Caladwen, a rapist and a murderer, a monster out of the darkest memories of her people a thousand years ago. She had no idea how the cruel elf had run afoul of Sanguinar and Blackwand, but he obviously had.

He straddled her chest, throwing a leg over her as he met her wide red eyes and smiled sadistically. “You know me, don’t you… are you old enough to have met me?” he slapped her, the calloused surface of his palm brutal on her flesh. “You can never tell with whores like you… you get fucked out so fast it’s hard to tell your age right.” As he wrapped his hands around her large, welted tits and began to squeeze, Cerec planted the first whip stroke on her pussy… not as hard as she had expected, but still painful. She moaned.

Elrek began to slap his cock against her hard nipples, poking his cock against the soft, inflamed flesh of her large breasts, making her welts burn even as the whipping slowly grew stronger, hurting her more with every stroke. Then the dark haired elf began to crush her tits in his hands and the druid screamed while both Avatar’s laughed. Elrek’s cock slid between Liriel’s breasts as she smashed them together as tightly as he could, allowing him to slide his tool between her whipped globes, making a new hole to rape between the silky, abused skin.

The whipping had grown ruinous now, and the combined pain caused the druid to scream almost continuously, the feeling of her cunt being flayed joining with the crushing feeling in her tits, like Elrek was trying to pop then as he pushed the perfect tits around his cock and fucked his way between them as fast as he could until the friction made her welts burn even worse than her pussy did.

‘Just a little longer, just a little longer…’ Liriel tried to reassure herself, hoping against hope that it was true as she wept. ‘Alassiel has taken so much worse, suffered so much more. This is nothing, this is nothing, this is nothing, this is nothing…’

Elrek roared as he came, his cock spraying the bottom of her chin and her face with the disgusting slime as it slid downward towards her eyes and forced them shut. He had time to groan in pleasure before the whipping of her pussy stopped and Cerec had lifted him up and pushed him away, sending him staggering back towards the edge of the ring where the fighters from the Arena still waited.

“Who’s next?” the female Avatar’s cruel voice asked.

With trembling hands, Zegadu handed the sword to the elven queen, the first god of this twisted land.

As soon as her fingers wrapped around the wooden hilt, the entire blade glowed the same gold as Sirae’s eyes, the hilt seeming instantly to conform itself to her hand, and as the goddess spun the sword through a quick routine the smith could see that already it behaved not as a weapon at all, but a natural extension of her body. She could feel where it was in space, the same way Zegadu knew where one of his hands was without needing to see it.

Never in his life had he been so proud of his art as in this second. A thing of timeless beauty, created without the need for death at all.

Later, Zegadu would realize that this second, this moment of achievement, is when he became a god himself… the second such being in the history of the world.

Sirae had lied to Alassiel.

She wasn’t proud that she had, but it had needed to be done. Sirae would never leave Blackwand… her bonds to this land were too tight, the prison walls too secure, and the goddesses presence too large to slip out through a crack the way Alassiel could… assuming such a crack could even be found or made. No, she would die in this prison.

Sirae felt peace with that fact. She had already lived longer than, to her knowledge, any other being still alive on the face of the earth. Perhaps some of the demonic warlords had existed longer, and the god Caer was close, but other than them, there was no competition. She had lived, loved, lost, bled, bred, believed, kissed, killed, and if it was finally time for her long life to end, that was no tragedy to the elf woman. She would be content to return to the earth and join with her long time friend.

But the manner of death was important. Sirae was not prideful, exactly, but she would not die for a pointless reason. If she met her end, she wanted it to be in the service to something she believed in, a scream of defiance on her lips or the protection of one she loved in her hands.

Her only regret now was that she had never told that loved one who she was, a secret she had carried with her for so long.

“We are all equal before the goddess.” That was one of the primary beliefs of the elven people, one that she had encouraged for thousands and thousands of years. Lissa, however, she had taught a different lesson. “We are all equal before the earth,” she had told the young initiate druid, and she meant it. She had been placed above her brother and sister elves by virtue of her age and experience and power, but never by her own will. She saw no difference between herself and them, not in any important way… and she wanted to make sure Lissa didn’t either.

Even if she was the daughter of their goddess.

Lineage was not important to the elves… since there was no status conferred by birth, Sirae had always encouraged this. However, the temptation was always there. So many of her previous children had been brave, kind hearted people… but if they weren’t tempted to put themselves above others, the others had always been all to happy to thrust her children over them. It wasn’t a burden she had wanted for her child… so she had hidden her. And she had lied.

She had let Lissa think her mother was dead, and Sirae would never forgive herself for that…

…but it worked. Every honor her daughter had been given, she had deserved, and the druid had known she had earned it. She took to her mentor’s, her mother’s, training better than any apprentice the goddess had ever had, and she truly believed what the goddess had wanted to teach her — that there was no significant differences inherent between her and anyone else.

Even while her daughter hurt inside because of the deaths she had caused in the war, Sirae was proud of her. She was even prouder when, over the objections of others, she chose a human as a lover without even considering his race, or that he was different from her… in fact, the only time the goddess had ever heard the druid call him a human was when she was concerned about his lifespan, not his culture or family or rank.

She was so proud of Lissa, and wished that she had more to offer her daughter.

So much of her power was gone. She could feel it sitting back within the Veil, unable to follow her into the untamed lands and into the prison in which she was now held. It waited within Caladwen, waiting to be claimed by her son, the son that Sanguinar’s minions had twisted into something unrecognizable after her death… the still living son that she mourned the death of, for though he still drew breath the church had slain him when he was but a helpless child, shaping him into a cruel weapon of vengeance for his dead father.

She could not offer her daughter her own power, or the salvation it might represent… but there was another thing she could give her.

The earth, long ago, had chosen her to be the first druid. There had been no knowledge of how to draw on the earth for strength, or even a conception that it could be done… but nature had shown her how. It had taken nearly a thousand years for her to form the bonds to the planet that had turned her into the first goddess, the living avatar of nature’s power and its eternal protector. The source of power that had chosen to make her a diety was still there, still beneath her feet, strong as ever.

Sending prayers that Sirae hoped were escaping the bonds of Blackwand and reaching the earth, she began to feed her own life energy into the healing sword, filling it with the same bonds she had made with the earth long ago even as she felt her own life begin to ebb away as she fed every ounce of power she still possessed into the reconstruction of it’s force, empowering it with her own living essence.

She would not let her daughter spend another minute in this damned sword.

“And behold, what once was dead is born again.”

Alassiel looked with awe upon the sword, hovering in the air between her and Tir, glowing a soft golden in the dim black cavern. The blade was not the slender dueling sword she remembered, but both longer and thicker — a bastard sword, as easily wieldable in a single hand as both. It’s hilt and crosspiece had likewise grown, taking on a shape that reminded Alassiel of a bird of prey flying through the air, a predator both deadly and graceful. The bottom of the blade was flanged, carrying strong ridges of steel designed to catch and break another sword, or to lock this weapon firmly with another in an exchange.

“This is not Moralltach…” Alassiel said, her voice awed.

Tir shook his head softly, sadly. “No, it is not.” He looked on the glowing blade with an expression of both triumph… and sadness. “The sword adapts itself to its wielder.”

Alassiel looked at him, confused. The room seemed suddenly to grow the tiniest bit colder, the warm glow of the reforged sword fading just slightly. In the silence that followed Tir’s words, the only sound she could hear was the wind whistling through the maze of tunnels and caves. “It didn’t look like this for Sirae before-”

“Sirae is no longer the swords rightful owner,” the angel interrupted. In the shifting sky above them, swift moving clouds began to gather, growling dire threats to anyone who knew how to listen.

“Then who is?” Alassiel asked, startled.

“Take the sword,” Tir said, “and find out.”

Alassiel gripped the sword.

It was surprisingly light for a blade so large, and was clearly made of no metal she recognized. The grip shifted under her hand, the wooden covering on the handle conforming itself to the grip of the two hands she grasped the bastard sword with. The golden glow intensified the moment she touched it, turning into an almost blinding light-

No, that wasn’t right. The blinding light was coming from above her.

Alassiel looked up just in time to see a shaft of bright power unlike any she had ever seen before flick from the sky down towards the gorge of Blackwand’s prison. It struck against an invisible barrier some hundred feet above her head and flared brilliantly, an impossibly bright light shining through the black rock stockade and washing out every color from the chaotic sky. The beam of coherent electricity stood firmly in place, lancing continually towards the protective shell over the caves, a lightning strike that lasted for minutes. It was too powerful, too brilliantly pure of a light to look at, but too beautiful for Alassiel to look away from even as she felt her retinas begin to burn… and then a spiderweb of cracks appeared in the air, stress fractures along a surface that the elf could not see.

And then in between one instant and the next it shattered. Newly visible pieces of the powerful ward that turned this set of caves into a prison flew through the sky like so many shards of glass, destroyed entirely by the vast power that was even now entering the caves and flowing right towards the sword in Alassiel’s hands.

Power flowed into her when the lightning stroke fell, a jolt that entered every part of her body like the first beat of adrenaline in a fight. Heat, not burning but warm and comforting flowed through her body like molten metal, sinking into the cracks in her body and then cooling into a comfortable, strong shape. She could feel her scars vanishing as the energy stimulated her body, melting the scar tissue even as it encouraged her body to grow new skin, new muscle and tissue and veins. The blissful warmth traveled down the length of her entire body, from her outstretched arms holding the sword down to her lower body, and the continual pain the elf had felt since her time with Lahk simply melted away, replaced with a comforting sense of tranquility.

And she felt it when that power touched the seed that had been, for the last several months, growing by her heart. It erupted into growth, roots unfurling as they flowed beneath her skin, connecting themselves to muscle, bone, and skin. Eyrn eregdos grew with unbelievable speed, filling the network her old companion had left in her within moments, and then continuing to grow, forging new pathways and strengthening the old ones, all of them reaching back to the druid’s heart like tributaries towards the sea.

With the renewed connection to the earth came awareness, like opening your eyes after having forgotten that they existed for years. She could feel the air around her, the ground beneath her feet, the water below the surface, with a clarity that no other sense could match. Even during her years as a druid, her senses had never been this clear, this vivid — it seemed to Alassiel as if this time, her connection to the earth was absolute. As clearly as the elf could feel the hairs on her body standing straight, she could feel the beings inside Blackwand as they treaded on the planet’s surface, starting towards the beam of lightning that still flowed down into her. She could even feel all the way back to within the Veil, where that massive living monument still stood in memoriam of her… mother.

Memories came to her next, memories of things she had never done, experiences she had never had, a life she had never lived. She felt the goddess as she had felt herself, thought as she had thought. Tens of thousands of years of life, of which Alassiel could barely make out a fraction of… but her mother’s thoughts of her were clear as the sun in the sky. Her love for her, her pride, her fierce determination to give the fire haired elf her freedom from this place… the goddesses final thoughts were an open book to Alassiel, and she softly began to weep as the old wound of her mother’s death reopened… or at least what she had thought back in her childhood was her mother’s death.

When at last the lightning ended, Alassiel stood straight in the center of the cavern, Tir still before her… yet she was not the same elf anymore. Steam rose from her skin where the frightening power had played over her, literally boiling the sweat off of her, she was breathing hard, and her hair had been tossed by the tempest of energy… but she was healed.

She was healed.

“So rests Moralltach,” Tir said slowly, “The Strength of the Earth.”

Alassiel held the marvelous sword up before her face. The golden glow was gone now, except what reflected from her own eyes. Instead, blue-white electricity, the remains of the savage stroke of nature’s power, danced over the surface in continuous arcs. It was hypnotic, and Alassiel had a hard time tearing her eyes away from it even to look at the storm above her head, growing more intense with every passing moment.

“So is born Menelrûth, the Fury of the Sky.” Tir bowed his head. “Long live the Goddess of the Earth.”

The seventh rapist had just finished with Liriel, flooding her tight elven ass with demonic seed, when the blast of power struck. Both of the Avatar’s heads shot up as the lance of lightning, impossibly, broke through the shielding wards of Blackwand and entered their prison.

Then they looked at one another. “Sirae,” Cerec said at once, both aspects in unison.

Beneath them, Liriel started to laugh. Even as she choked in gasping breaths, writhing in the pain of thousands of whip welts, she could not contain the ragged sound of amusement. Nor could she conceal the shine in her eyes. “Tricked you!” she managed to say, smiling.

Wordlessly the two Avatars whirled to leave, to stop the elven goddess before she could do irreparable harm to the dark blade from within. The male avatar, his form shifting into grasping tendrils even has he leaped, latched onto the edge of the arena and flung himself headlong into the air towards the place where Sirae was imprisoned. The female avatar moved to follow him, vast bat-like wings beginning to erupt from her back… when suddenly her feet were swept out from under her.

Sheer surprise made the move possible — the last thing Cerec had been expecting was to be attacked at that instant. As she collapsed to the shifting sand of the arena she flung herself to the side and slashed out a clawed hand, meaning to gut a pursuer… but her attacker had not followed.

Before her stood one of the combatants who had fought in the arena today, a volunteer. His short mane of brown hair was blown by the strong wing now rushing through the caverns in the wake of the coming storm, and as the first drops of rain began to soak the ground he whirled his spear through the air to point directly at the slowly rising Avatar.

Liam stepped directly between her and the wounded Liriel, then cocked his head arrogantly and smirked.

“Not so fast.”

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