Chapter Twelve: Redemption

Serena walked down the hallway of carved, fitted stone, and the wideness and elegance of the corridor couldn’t,even for a moment, make it feel anything but claustrophobic. The last thing she wanted was to be doing was this, walking toward the room in this the great temple that had been reserved for the king, once upon a time… before the girl had even been born in fact… but she had no choice in the matter. Lahk was back in the temple he ruled, first as the High Priest and now as the deity himself, and he wanted her to come… avoiding him would only make it worse that it was already going to be.

After years, Serena was very practiced at not making things any worse than they needed to be.

Once upon a time, she had hated Lahk. Vaguely, Serena remembered that… she could remember threatening him, swearing to herself each night that she would stab the usurping High Priest, murder him like he murdered her father. What happened to that girl she wished she knew. She couldn’t barely remember a time when her hatred and disgust for Lahk had not been drowned so deeply beneath her fear that they couldn’t even be found anymore.

She was the oldest girl here… not in years since birth, of course. Her twenty five years still kept her far below the lines of the eldest here. Not the eldest, but the oldest, the first. Lahk’s first conquest, taken on the day he had stolen control of this temple. Here, the slaves who were lucky enough to escape the eternal use of the brothels counted time not in how long had passed since birth, but since slavery… time vanishing in a haze of torment and humiliation the only experience that mattered anymore. Among those who stilled lived, she was the oldest by more than two years. Oh, perhaps there were a few in the brothel itself that were even older, but that was unlikely… before Lahk, there had been rape and torment aplenty, but nothing nearly so systematic, so thorough in the destruction of femininity for the glorification of Sanguinar… and now, for himself. They wouldn’t really have counted anyway, even if they were. The slaves down their, not knowing how time passed, all but comatose under their constant rape and breeding for the wealth of the church, they were the lucky ones. Serene remembered everything, no matter how much she wished she could forget.

Her ornate boots clicked on the stone floor as she stepped off the carpet while rounding the corner, the elegant shoes making her along long legs seem longer. She was a catch, to be sure, but Serena had never once thought of herself that way. Her blonde hair was braided into beautiful, elegant patterns that several of the attendants had done in preparation for Lahk’s summons, blending seamlessly into her silk dress to make her look every inch the noblewoman who would have once prowled these hallways during the days of the old kingdom.

Days had passed after Lahk had arrived in the capital, and Serena had, hauntingly, foolishly, allowed herself to hope that this time, she wouldn’t be summoned. That Lahk wouldn’t call for her… but of course he had. He always did, every time he returned… called her to come to his bed again and suffer whatever indignities he wanted with her perfectly maintained body.

She was his wife, after all.

Serena gave a harsh, hateful chuckle as the thought came bitterly into her head. The bastard High Priest had wed her the day after he had murdered his predecessor, her father all those years ago. Not that it meant anything to the rapist. All it meant was that she was a prize he would never let go of, a trophy of his rise to the top of the church. Still, at least it gave her some measure of protection here. Not much – although the soldiers and priests would never touch her against orders, terrified of what Lahk’s retribution might be, he always left her with some abuse to be suffered in his absence. It just meant she wasn’t raped quite as often as many of the others here, although her uses were correspondingly more horrible.

It didn’t matter much. No girl here would dream of trading places with her, even if they could. Lahk’s infrequent visits were the things of nightmares for them all, and for Serena they were worse still… and not a person in the church didn’t know it.

When she entered the room, however, Serena let out as least a tiny sigh of relief. He wasn’t alone… there was another woman here, the one he had brought with him. She felt terrible for being relieved that he had another slave to hurt, but those were just the facts of her life now – she was going to suffer, one way or the other, as would every other woman in his clutches. If today it was another woman’s turn to be raped and humiliated, then it was her turn. Tomorrow it would likely be hers, and no one would be there to save her.

The girl was a beautiful, firm bodied blonde woman with large breasts, apparently somewhere in her twenties, but she was bound so much more thoroughly than nearly any victim Lahk had ever taken to bed, held in place by magically reinforced bonds. Clearly she was important, someone beyond the normal class of victim, but it didn’t stop Lahk from having his way with her however he chose anyway. The beautiful woman was pushed backwards against the bed on her back, Lahk straddling her chest as his weight kept her pinned down on the bed. Out of reach of her still-kicking legs, he laughed at the blazing fury in her ice blue eyes while his cock slid between her tits, his hands squeezed around the firm orbs hard enough for his nails to be drawing tiny points of blood from the woman as he slowly fucked her ample cleavage while her constant thrashing and squirming about excited him.

“Ah, slut. You’re finally here. How good of you to join us,” he said as he continued fucking her breasts. Lahk didn’t even look up to take a look at her as she entered, shutting the door quietly behind her. “Don’t mind me, I’m just warming up on this whore. You won’t be getting any of my seed today my wife, its all reserved for this bitch down here, but I still have uses for you.” At Lahk’s words, the blonde woman beneath him threw her head from side to side, a series of furious, hateful growls escaping her throat, spittle flying from between her gag-stretched lips, but Serena could easily see it was hopeless. No matter how hard she struggled, she was completely overmatched by their positioning and her bonds – she could no more dislodge Lahk from on top of her than Serena could free herself from his tyranny.

For his part, Lahk was clearly in paradise, titfucking the resisting woman. She knew all to well how he loved the sensation of his cock sliding between a pair of wonderful melons, feeling a woman’s soft skin rubbing against his cock. “I bet you never thought it would be like this, did you you fucking demon cunt. Never thought a goddess like you could be brought so low, used like a street whore,” he mocked as he increased his pace, his thick cock creating a shiny layer of precum in the valley between her breasts. “This is your life now, Kardas. Your body exists to get me hard so I can spill another load of cum in your fucking womb and put a bastard in you.”

Serena swallowed heavily. So the rumors were true then… the new slave of their master was Kardas herself, Goddess of Vengeance and Demon Queen of the Abyss. If even a goddess could fall to him, what chance did any of the rest of them have? Serena felt the last of her hope slipping away, what little she still possessed. She already knew the answer – none.

Lahk reached out to slap her just to enjoy the hate in her eyes. Already he was pumping quickly between her tits, turned on, her struggles arousing him beyond all reason, and the hate-fill disbelief in her eyes when he mocked her with her future was the greatest thing he had ever witnessed. “From now on, not a day will go by without you having at least your holes filled with hard, thick cock…” he grunted, humping her tits frantically now. “Your cunt will get every load I have until you’re with child, then I can finally take my pleasures with your other holes. I wonder how tight your ass will be while you’re giving birth to my child.” Precum leaked steadily from his cock now, pooling at her throat, glistening on her body as Serena watched, eyes downcast in her newly re-inflamed despair.

Lahk was close now, so his hand around her collared throat he rose off of her, slapped her fat tits once, then in the same movement plunged his length deep into her cunt. It only took him a half dozen hard thrusts before he was coming in her, filling her womb yet again. The snarls of outrage that came from the Demon Goddess were music to his ears as he stiffened in ecstasy.

Serena was looking away without a memory of making a decision to do it. This woman represented the death of all hope for her and those like her, the final proof that Lahk was the master of every woman in the world now. There was no one able to stop him from doing what he pleased to her for the rest of her life if he could do this to a demon queen without consequence. She would serve him with her body and her pain until she was too old or too ugly to please him anymore, then she would be discarded… either killed or in for an even worse fate.

“Whore!” Lahk snarled, and Serena stiffened, sure she was the one being spoken to. “Get me a whip, then get over here… Don’t think you’re being neglected.” The malice in his command was so thick it was almost palpable, but still Serena almost jumped into action to obey. Showing him reluctance or fear, or god forbid disobeying or pleading, never ended well. Not ever.

The blonde slave was thrown suddenly from her feet as the group leaped up at her, heaving her up as the stones themselves buckled. All around her things were crashing from the wall, from shelves, to smash against the ground. Paintings fell and ripped, jars filled with incense or ashes or flowers fell and shattered, and books toppled into ragged piles. All Serena could think, as she collapsed to the ground, was that this surely must be the end of the world, and that she hoped Lahk wouldn’t be waiting for her in the next one.

Thousands of years ago

Eternal rivals. That was Kardas and Caer had become. In little more than a century, Kardas had risen up from nothing to become the youngest Demon Lord, to lead the armies of the hells against the celestial forces on the eternal battlefield of Acherus. There seemed to limit to how high she could climb, an unstoppable force of destruction… until she met Caer.

Everything she was, he was her opposite. Strong where she was weak, fast where she was slow, kind where she was vicious and soft where she was hard. They opposed each other everywhere. For each plan Caer put into effect, Kardas was there to poison it. Each scheme Kardas could try to force would be foiled in turn by Caer. For the demoness it was beyond frustrating… it was insulting. She, the demon queen who had risen to the mastery of her domain through being the most cunning, devious leader her kind had known in thousands of years, and she was being predicted and controlled… by a damned goody goody, moralistic celestial.

Oh how she longed to destroy him utterly… Even with the creation of the Veil, every action she had taken was a slight against him, a prick against his pride or intentions, a way to get beneath his skin. Kardas would have taken equal pleasure in his death or his fall, and the idea of the mighty celestial kneeling at her feet had appeal, but seeing him in a pool of his own spreading blood would have sufficed.

No one could hate like the Lady of Hatred.

Lahk gripped his fists, his power radiating down into the black stone of the fortress monastery he had made of the former palace. He was no wizard, his application of his power could only be blunt… but it stopped him from being thrown from his feet. Good. He probably would have needed to kill both Serena and Kardas for seeing that if it had happened, regardless of if he was done with them yet… some things couldn’t be tolerated. After several seconds, the trembling growled to a stop. Lahk waited several moments longer to be make the ground wouldn’t buck again before he straightened his stance and walked to the window.

The walls had fallen.

Lahk frowned in annoyance. That was a problem. Maithum Falls was a fortress, born to withstand the chaos of the Untamed Lands long before the Veil, and its defenses hadn’t slackened a bit since that time. In fact, under Lahk’s guidance, the city had become nearly impregnable, a perfect fortress for the High Priest. With a horde of furious demons to fight the battle, those walls should have held against the cobbled-together army arrayed against him for months, if they didn’t grind the enemy to dust first.

Instead, he could see only dust from where the walls had once stood. They hadn’t been stormed… they had been shattered. As far as he could tell, the walls simply weren’t there anymore. From the sounds of battle the demons fought on, but he couldn’t see it. The dust was slowly clearing, but the chaos on the ground was unbelievable… a mass of carnage and destruction. The walls had crushed scores of demons beneath them. It hadn’t killed them, of course… they were still down there, struggling free, slowly bleeding the smoking ash that served their kind as blood and power. They would make it out and rejoin the fight eventually, or at least some of them would. Lahk paid them no mind… his eyes were for the center of the battle.

It was hard to make out much of the chaos, but he could hardly miss the hurricane of destruction passing through the core of the fight. Lighting swirled through the air and struck the ground like hammerblows. A single warrior strode through the chaos, a sword as bright as the sun at dawn held in her hands as she struck down anything that got too close, making a straight line towards his fortress.

A warrior with red hair.

For a second, just one single second, Lahk felt his blood chill. A brief surge of fear, in the instant before burning rage subsumed it, swallowed it whole as his wide eyes narrowed to slits. “Impossible…” he growled. In that moment, Serena, the fortress, even Kardas herself was completely forgotten by the God of Suffering. It only took a whisper of power to cause his wings to erupt from his back once again, then he was at the side of the room, dressing himself, Blackwand clutched in his hand.

“You should just stop fighting it,” Kardas whispered into Caer’s ear. His shoulder’s stiffened at the sound, and he made to rise as his face snapped towards him. Kardas grinned at him. She so enjoyed the way the celestial jumped. It told her he hadn’t know she was there. It was like she could have stabbed him through the back with a blade or done all sorts of cruel, perverted things to him before he could even know to defend himself… the demon queen loved the thought.

To her annoyance, however, he calmed almost instantly before turning back to his work. The crafting of the Veil required an incredible amount of work, and it had kept the two of them in the presence of one another far longer than either of them would have preferred… or at least that’s what Kardas thought she would feel. Instead, to her delight, milking the God of Justice for every shred of reaction she could get from him was incredibly satisfying to the demoness. Unfortunately, it had been growing harder as of late, and her impatience was starting to show… she needed to go further each time to get a satisfying reaction from him. “You could just… do it. No one would know who matters.”

Caer didn’t even look up this time. “Do what, Kardas?” he asked without inflection. His reaction puzzled her… he seemed more resigned to the conversation than annoyed by it.

She didn’t like being puzzled… she moved on. “No one would know if you killed me, right here. If you told Xiri I attacked you, and you had to defend yourself, he’d probably believe you and you know it. What would happen?” Normally, she would have stopped here, but her mouth kept moving, some of her exasperation with how hard it had been to get a rise of out of him recently leaking into her words. “I’m annoying you? You could make me shut up and leave you alone. Hit me. Yell at me… or at least relieve some of the stress. You haven’t even realized I’m naked yet, have you?” She wasn’t sure of the snort of a chuckle Caer let out was an admittance that he had not or not, and she found that it annoyed her more than she thought it would. “You don’t always have to be so damned good! It’s boring. You could take me at will. There’s no real difference between your realm and mine, and you know it… war is war. Death is death. Were our roles reversed, or if you were beside me in the hells, you could fit just as well… eternity knows that enough of your people have come to see it over the years. Why in all the hells there ever were can’t you?”

Caer finally put his work down, abandoning the runestood to turn his head back towards her… even if only slightly. “I can’t give you what you seek.”

The sudden, flat denial drew Kardas up short, especially since she wasn’t entirely sure what he was denying. “What?”

“The reason I interest you so,” he said in the same flat voice, “is because there is no one like me in the hells. It’s because I won’t turn on your the second you are alone, or show weakness. It’s because I don’t want to hurt you for the slightest provocation, no matter how much I will always oppose you. If I were the man you asked me to be, I wouldn’t interest you. I will never be able to give you what you seek.” He turned back to his work slowly, as if the words had never left his mouth.

Fury burned in the demoness as she stood behind him, naked and seething with her fists clenched tightly enough she drew blood from her palms. “Insufferable fool,” she snarled before turning to storm off, her hair cascading behind her as she whirled. “When at last the Veil is finished, I will be well rid of you.”

Serena remained quiet and motionless on the floor in the corner of the room as Lahk disappeared out the window, vast black wings erupted from his back. He left the room without a sound, and she didn’t make one either… didn’t even dream of moving until the evil man was gone… and then after he was she sat there for a minute just to make sure he wasn’t going to suddenly come back. Finally convinced she had escaped notice, Serena rose to her feet and bolted for the door, leaving the struggling goddess to writhe on the bed. If she was lucky, she could escape Lahk’s notice for at least a little bit longer. It never crossed her mind that there was any danger to him, or that there was the slightest chance he wouldn’t return for her… he was such a constant menace in her life since she was too young to dream otherwise that she couldn’t even consider it.

As she opened the door, however, she noticed she wasn’t alone in the hallway. There were two women walking down it toward her. In the temple, that wasn’t especially uncommon… this place was so deeply in the church’s control that they didn’t need to fear their rape victims escaping, and most of them were too broken to think about trying anyway. These two, weren’t slaves. They were armed… and an angel walked behind them, his wings glowing in the dark light. Intruders.

Serene turned and fled, her feet pounding against the carpet, expecting to die at any moment, but the two women didn’t follow her.

When the door creaked open again, Kardus turned furious eyes towards it, expecting more of Lahk’s foul followers, but instead it was two women, women she never seen before enter the room. Then Caer entered right behind them and her snarl became vicious. The naked, bound demon thrashed on the bed, straining against her bonds in fury, but to no avail… she was exposed to them and helpless to do anything about it.

One of the woman was touching her, the dark haired one. Her fingers ran over Kardas’ hot, bare skin, tracing the edges of the inscribed metal bands that held her in place. “Do you know what these are?” the other girl asked her, a white haired elf. Her tattoos revealed her as a druid, but she was completely unfamiliar to the goddess, unlike the other one, who the demoness was becoming increasingly suspicious she recognized…

“Yes,” she answered, and her voice was all it took for Kardas to recognize the human woman. Alissandra… one of her Erinyes. Masquerading as a mortal to free her, perhaps… but even as the thought occurred to her, Kardas knew it wasn’t right. She would be able to sense the power the woman had, even bound like this, even through her disguise. It wasn’t there. “This is fel magic,” Alissandra continued. “I don’t recognize the way he’s channeling it, but the enchantment itself is simply enough. It turns her strength against herself, countering her magic with itself until she’s too exhausted to fight back.” There was a weary resignation in her voice as she continued. “They’re widely in use in hell… but simply enough to break. Caer, mark here, here, and here,” she said, tracing her finger across three places on her collar.

The angel traced his finger across the intricate pattern Lahk had carved into her collar, disrupting them, and with each swipe of her finger Kardas could feel more of her power surge back into her. With the third, the binding unravelled completely, and the metal around her was just metal again. The bands screeched and torn as she flexed, ripping off her limbs to go flying across the room. Kardus all but leaped from the bed, her free hands tearing furiously at the few bands of metal that still restrained her. She ripped the gag from her mouth. “I’ll kill him,” she snarled. “Where did he go? I’ll use use his guts as floss.”

Caer stood between her and the window. “No, you won’t. You’re too weakened… you’ll just get in the way.”

As much as Kardas hated to admit it, it was true. How long she had had her power turned against itself had drained her, as had her torture and captivity. That didn’t stop her from being furious and indignant about it, however. “Oh, so you’re going to stop me Caer?” she hissed, laying back down on the bed. She spread her legs inviting. “Is it time for you to take your turn, noble one?” Her fingers held open her sore cunt, letting some of Lahk’s seed leak out of her. “Are you going to rape me now too? Am I yours now, mighty angel?”

“Stop it,” Caer said, his voice as flat and emotionless as it had been when he had last grown tired of her games, thousands of years ago. The memory in that voice silenced her for one of the first times in her life. “There is nothing you can do about Lahk. Leave him to others. Turn your attention to your follower, the one who saved you.”

Kardas, the Goddess of Vengeance, Lady of Retribution, slowly forced herself to swallow her bloodlust and rage towards her captor. It hurt to choke it down, but she managed to… at least for a few minutes more. Deep breaths followed. “Of course,” she said as last, turning her eyes on the human girl who it seemed Alissandra had become. “It seems I owe you a debt, Alissandra. Speak your payment, that I might be rid of it. I assume you would like to be returned to your true form?”

“No.” Alissandra stopped her. “I wish to be released from your service.”

“What!” Kardas spat. Her eyes flashed to Caer. “You… this is you, isn’t it?! What have you promised her, angel?”

Caer shook his head. “I have nothing to do with it… I promised her nothing.”

“Fine!” Kardas all be shouted. “You wish to be free? Then go, I’ll not stop you… but don’t you ever come back. Be gone with you!”

The Demon Queen wished that she would object, that she would say something… that she would insist that they would, or that she didn’t need her. Instead, Alissandra just turned and walked out of the room, followed quickly by the pale elf. Caer looked at her for a few more seconds before he too left, and Kardas was alone.

No one could hate like the Lady of Hatred… and more than anything else… what made her hate Caer was that he had been right.

For her entire life, Kardas had been watching her own back, because no one was ever going to do it for her. She trusted no one, because no one trusted her… trust was just a sure way to get a knife in the back the second you turned. She had slaves and toys, occasionally even a bed mate who was something close to an equal, but never a lover… no one she could ever put her faith in. She never had a friend. Never a confidant. Never anyone to trust. Never a family.

With the gods, it had been different. No one there was going to stab her in the back, or steal what she had worked for. Here, they were working together toward a common goal, the ambitious project of creating the Veil. Here, they had almost been a family.

She hadn’t realized how much she needed it until it was gone, the Veil complete, Silas born and left to itself. The only people she could trust at all had gone far away, scattered. She had no one left.

It just made her hate it all the more.

That was her nature.

Alissandra sat against the wall in the hallway, her head in her hands as Liriel stood nearby. She kept waiting for the tears to come, but they wouldn’t. She had just turned her back on a thousand years of her life. She should miss it. She should have regrets. She should be able to weep for its loss. That fact that she didn’t was almost more concerning to her than if she would just break down and get it over with.

She felt Liriel slump down against the wall to sit beside her, feeling the elf’s warm skin against her bare arm. “That’s what you needed?” she asked as she traced her hand along the former demon’s arms, moving it down to her knee and resting on it.

Alissandra was quiet for a while before she answered. “Yeah… I think so.”

“Do you regret it?”

She shook her head. “No. No, I don’t think I do.”

Footsteps in the hallway announced Caer’s approach to the two women. “That was bravely done,” he said as he came to a stop, standing a few feet away from them as he gazed down. Somehow, standing over them like this, the God of Justice didn’t seem so much like a judge… more like a tired father. “I hope you know your choices still follow you. You choose you leave. Even if you asked, I can’t restore you to the Celestial Host.”

Alissandra nodded her head again, a small, strange smile on her face. “I never was a good angel anyway,” she said, a small laugh in her voice. “Maybe I’ll be a better human.”

One thought on “Chapter Twelve: Redemption

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