Last Edited 4/21/19
Seven Years After the Fall of Ariadna
“Why is it so damned cold!” shouted Jaymes. “Isn’t it supposed to be spring yet?”
The three guards looked up, and Jaymes took them in as he walked up. The nearest was a rough, cruel-looking man with scarred arms, black hair, and a face looked like it seen some punching in the past. Just past him was a younger man. He looked like he had seen a few fights, maybe, but not much in the way of action. Mostly he just looked cold and miserable. The third man – well, not a man. He was barely more than a boy. If he had ever lifted that spear of his in anger, it would have surprised Jaymes.
Jaymes walked the rest of the way over to the sentries, dragging his foot from a nasty limp. It took a minute for him to shuffle the rest of the way to them from the tree line, walking beneath the hanging lantern, danging under the warning bell on the pole.
Initially, the three were suspicious of the newcomer, but the look of the man and the limp put them off that quick enough. He was clearly a mercenary, just like them. Rough, battle wounded. The oldest one was grinning. “Always cold by the water.” He came up, rubbing his hands together.
“Yeah, that it is,” Jaymes said as he pulled out a flask. “Any of you want a mug full?”
“A mug? Forget that!” he said. “More than that. Share it around. No need to be shy, eh, lad?”
“I guess there ain’t,” he said as he passed the flask over. The older man took a swig, passing it over to the middle man, who drank even deeper. The boy came up last and looked Jaymes over, wary.
The old one nudged him with an elbow. “You sure your mother would care for you drinking, boy?”
“Who gives a shit?” he growled, and it was obvious to Jaymes that he was trying to make his young voice sound gruff.
He handed him the flask next. “You’re old enough to hold a weapon, old enough to take a drink, the way I see it.”
“Damn right!” He snatched it out of Jaymes’ hands, but he shuddered violently when he drank from it. “So what happened to your leg, anyway?”
Jaymes slapped his thigh. “Got poked by an arrow in the leg up by bandits, in the woods to the north. Never healed right. Can’t patrol the roads anymore like that, so now I serve here.” He looked out over the sea, where it flapped and sparkled under the moon like a living thing. “Can’t say I’m sad to spend some time in a city for a bit. Easier to guard one of the temples than the caravans.”
“Know how you feel,” said the middle guard.
“Not that easy, though,” the young boy said. “Plenty of temples being hit, recently. We have plenty of guarding to do.”
“Damn you got some fool notions, boy,” the elder said. “Why would they come here? We don’t have any any treasure here… don’t even have a priest anymore.”
“Nope,” said the middle man. “Whoever those killers are, they won’t be coming here.”
“Then why they have us out here watching for ’em?” whined the boy.
The old man rolled his eyes like he’d heard it ten times before and always made the same answer. “Because that’s the task we been given, boy. Still plenty of people might want to cause trouble.”
“And once you got a task, you best do it right,” the middle man said.
“True enough,” said the old man, holding out his hand for the flask, taking another swig. “Things have still got to be done.”
“That they do. Shame,” Jaymes said, shrugging silently. “You three seem decent enough. Wish you’d have picked a different profession.”
“Shame?” The boy looked puzzled. “How d’you mean it’s a…”
And that was when Kaya emerged from the darkness behind the boy and slit his throat. Almost the exact same moment, Lea clamped her hand over the middle man’s mouth, and a blade emerged out of his chest, stained crimson. Jaymes didn’t hesitate – he drew his knife and jumped at the old man, false limp abandoned in a second. He stabbed the man three times between his ribs before kicking him down. He stumbled, eyes wide, bloody drool spilling out of his open mouth. Then he went still.
Three sentries dead, and no one had mad a sound… and more important still, no one hand rung the bell to sound the alarm. These people had generally seemed ok to him, not true believes, just mercenaries… but they had chosen the wrong side. That was war. A lot of people died who didn’t deserve it.
“We’re in,” Kaya said. She extended a fist towards the woods and waved, and eight other soldiers – Five male three female – came out of the woods, marching towards the temple. The guards were right. There was no wealth here. There were no priests to protect. But there was a trio of captives, freshly out of Tabharos and on their way to other temples… and that was what they were here for.
Thirteen more guards – but only 4 of them inside the temple and they were probably asleep. No one had to get injured today. They could get the women and get out. It wasn’t like Jaymes had a problem killing, not for a good cause – but he didn’t like it, either. It was easier with someone else calling the shots. All he had to do was what Kaya said.
Hopefully, she wouldn’t want them to kill all the guards. But then again – this was war.
Kaya, Guardian of Ariadna
“Three cheers to Kaya!” A raucous voice called out, only slurring the S sound a little. “One more successsful raid against the bastards and three more priestesses of Ariadna set free – and how many bodies of our brothers and sisters on the ground?!”
“NONE!” The roar was unanimous in its decree and enthusiasm. Kaya blushed to hear it, her face turning crimson.
“Damn right none!” the first voice yelled again. “At this rate, we’ll keep killing those murderous bassstards until they ain’t none left – and we’ll see who Karn gets to rape and steal for him then, ay!?”
The answering call was only slightly less enthusiastic than before. Kaya could understand why. It was too far in the future for most of her soldier to dream that far ahead. Kaya rose to her feet. “Jaymes, you’re drunk, love. Shut up.”
“You heard the bossss lady!” He said with a grin, swinging his glass in a sweep across the rum. “I better shut my mouth afore she shuts it for me now, shall I? I think I have better things to be doing with it anyway!” He upended the mug to his face, and to the Guardian’s credit, barely any of the ale missed.
Kaya smiled softly and leaned back in her chair, watching as the men clapped each other on the back, the women smiled around – the three priestesses sat together at a table, traumatized but trying to be upbeat, to take some relief in their salvation. Several empty mugs were before each of the three freed captives, and Kaya couldn’t blame them. She wasn’t much of a drinker, though. The band’s young leader had a mostly untouched mug of the stuff in front of her – cheap swill. They managed to steal plenty of money from the church, but they weren’t drinking it – most of it went into repairs to arms and armor, bribes to informants and guards to keep them aware of the temple’s movements and where the priestesses were being moved, food and other supplies for her small army, and to get the priestess to safety, far away from here in the imperial capital where the religious violence hadn’t spread under the watchful eye of the palace guards. Still, she managed to take a few sips. Participate in the party. Get in the spirit of it as best she could.
In truth, her soldiers had plenty to celebrate. This was the 8th raid – and they hadn’t lost a soldier yet. Her two dozen soldiers fought furiously, taking the things that the temple treasured away from them. The soldiers of Karn didn’t understand why they kept fighting, nor why they fought so hard. Of course they didn’t. Karn’s soldiers were mercenaries. They fought because they were paid – and mercenaries didn’t fight hard for gold. Ariadna’s soldiers… there was no one to pay them any longer, so they couldn’t understand why were they still fighting.
But Guardians didn’t fight for coin. The soldiers of Ariadna’s temple were a hereditary order, frequently intermarried with the Masked Priestesses of the Lady of Luck. Every single one of them thought of the church as their family. They fought because they were part of an order that was under attacks – and they fought for revenge. There weren’t many of them left, perhaps – most of them had died when the grand temple fell. Many of the rest had died in the weeks or years after – as a rule, grief-stricken soldiers weren’t very good at blending in or going into hiding. But those that remained, bands like hers…
Kaya smirked. They would keep fighting Karn until they were all buried in the ground – Buried like their slain goddess, murdered by her brother’s treachery. Still, her smirk didn’t fade – it was a black amusement, but it was there. They were still fighting the war that killed their goddess – what greater destiny could she ask for than to die in the same battle that she had thought worth dying for? Just so long as she took as many of Karn’s bastards down with them as possible.
Kaya knew she would die in battle someday, that there wouldn’t be a peaceful death for her. She just hoped that she could see all the priestesses safely hidden away in Raegis first – and maybe feel Jaras’s blood on her face – before she did.
She stood, grabbing the mug. “To Ariadna,” she said, raising the glass – and then slowly turning it to pour the rest of the mug on the floor. “May she be at peace.”
“Peace,” others echoed, standing and pouring out their own drinks. A common ritual – a tiny offering to a dead goddess. There was no sense in praying – no one doubted that she couldn’t hear them any longer. But she was still their patroness – and worthy of their respect.
Camden, Priest of Karn
Camden waited outside, slapping idly at the bug that swarmed around his exposed neck. He hated this city, hated this whole region. Too hot during the day, too cold at night, and during the scant hour or so between them, nothing but bugs bugs bugs. Still, he had to be here – Jaras had assigned him to this task personally – too many soldiers and no few priests were dead already. He wanted the murderers caught, his priestesses recovered. They were priestesses of Karn now, he had said – and under their “protection.”
He snickered. Camden knew that kind of protection the slave-priestesses were under.
Still, it made him a little sad how easy it was. If it had taken him months of investigation foiled leads and brutal work, he would have been a worthy triumph. In the end, there were few places someone could get the supplies to feed and arm a force like this. Just some violence to get the right people to talk. Tell him who those people were. More violence. And after that – he sighed. It was as simple as money.
These people… they thought they were so pure, so good. But Camden, unfortunately, knew the truth of the world – that everyone had a price.
Just their bad luck.
This was the time. Before dawn, early, early morning. Everyone, or nearly everyone, would be sleeping. It was perfect.
Camden rose and began striding forward towards the band’s hideout. He had no intention of actually being the first one in – mercenaries were paid to die, he wasn’t – but it was important that he seemed willing to be. The illusion was important, and Camden knew how to lead men. At the door, he would step aside and let the expendable, paid idiots do their work while he stayed safely out of the way. Karn would be furious if he lost a priest doing something as foolish at this. All across the woods, his soldiers crept out of their hiding spots, heading towards the building from all directions. There would be no escapes if Camden had his way.
The priest tried the door – locked. He had figured. The band might be sloppy in their celebration, and not have had enough men on guard – leaving them vulnerable to a single traitor to slash a throat and defect – but they weren’t stupid. It didn’t matter. Traitor again. He had the key, and that was enough. He opened the door – and the band of Ariadna’s soldiers were defeated, just like that. He grinned and stepped to the side as soldiers filed in.
He waited, listening. He heard nothing. Good. That was the sound of soldiers dying in their sleep. Stabbed, bled, cut. It was several minutes before he heard the first yell — the sound of battle – and not much of them. There wouldn’t be. Still – he grinned and started striding forward. It would be good to keep up the reputation of the Inquisitors of Karn.
Camden strode through the hallways, following the sound of battle. He passed dead bodies laying on beds or drunk on tables. He strode over a few women, as well – tied up. But the fight was four soldiers still fighting. Two men, and two women. They had fought their way into a larger room, forming something of a circle to defend each other – but his eyes were drawn to the girl in the center. A pretty blonde, she held a large sword in both hands. By Taelin, she was beautiful – and he knew that she was the leader. This was the one he absolutely needed to take alive.
He smirked. Then he raised a hand and summoned Karn’s power. He felt it pour into the air, felt it find the soldiers, sink into them – restricting them, freezing them in place. Three of them fought for an instant before slowly going immobile. The fourth – the blonde – slowed down, but tried to keep fighting. She had a strong will to resist – but he kept pushing. Kept crushing her down. She sank down to one knee, still trying to raise her sword – then down to both. Then, finally, she collapsed.
His soldiers rushed in, more than one of them looking on in awe. Camden stopped them. “Wait…” he said quickly. “Leave those men alive. We’ll need them. And get everyone tied before they start waking up.”
The very moment her muscles worked again, Kaya fought furiously. The damned priests and their subjugation magic – she had heard of it before but never seen it. When she fought priests, the goal was always to take them by surprise, kill them before they knew what was happening, or at the very least not to give them time to gather magic to themselves. This bastard must be an especially powerful priest, to subdue so many soldiers at once. She had never heard of one managing to subjugate four at once.
She had strained against the magic, strained against the hold – but her muscles had just trembled in place, unmoving, while dirty mercenaries dragged her hands behind her back, bound them together. She wished that she was wearing her armor, but they had found her sleeping like the others – just wearing panties and a nightshirt. She wished she had armor between her and their grabbing hands, but she would have settled for any clothing at all her legs, protecting her from their filthy eyes as they laughed at her.
She had been unable to do more than watch as she was bound, as the other soldiers who fought with her were bound. It was only after they were done and they started dragging her away that she felt her muscles unfreeze. Kaya immediately began to kick, to scream and spit curses at the soldiers. They just laughed at her as she was pulled through the carnage, over the dead bodies of soldiers she had led. So many dead – enough that she slowly began to grow quiet.
She had led these men – and now they were dead.
They dragged her out of her hideout and into the clearing, where she noticed some other soldiers already stacking up bodies. It was a grim sight to see by moonlight. At least a few were being taken out alive. Lea, Tali, and Cerae were still alive. Lea had fought alongside her, so she had seen the priest subdue her, but she was pleased to see that Tali and Cerae were alive. Her enthusiasm was dampened somewhat when she realized that they only seemed to be keeping the women alive. Of the five women under her command, three of them – four if she included herself she supposed – were the ones they had kept prisoners. The men had been killed.
Or at least most of the men. She swallowed, turning her head. There were only two men that she could see alive – but at least her husband was among them. Jaymes was being dragged along, fighting just as she was. Lea’s husband was the same. She didn’t see Tali’s husband around anywhere.
Their order lived hard lives – made far harder in the wake of Karn’s ascension to the God of Fate, and the overthrow of the temple they were sworn to protect. They married young because even in their hopefully moments most of them were fatalistic enough not to think they had a long time to enjoy the better things in life. Kaya hadn’t held anyone under her command, or herself, back – she had encouraged them to live and love as though the world would end tomorrow.
Now it looked like it might.
Lea was a blonde, like Kaya, but where Kaya’s hair was a pure, pale blonde, Lea had hair like woven gold. She had been enjoying the company of her husband Ren tonight, and she had been even less dressed than Kaya herself – wearing nothing but underwear that barely covered her tits and ass. It left her midriff and her long, slender legs exposed completely exposed. Those bare legs were pale in the moonlight as they kicked at the men dragging her. Lea was short and built solidly with muscle from hours and hours of practicing with her blades each day.
Tali had her dark hair cut short. Unlike the other girls, she was still wearing leather armor, probably because she had passed out still wearing it. Already it had been ripped at by the men, several of the buckles torn – Kaya doubted the armor would be protecting her for much longer. Tali was taller than she was, her long legs dragging on the ground. The woman wasn’t fighting the way Lea and Kaya were – Kaya suspected that she knew her husband was probably dead already.
Cerae was the older of them, not that you could easily tell to look at the beautiful woman. She had been the older sister of a priestess herself, having helped raise the younger woman. She had lost her husband in the fall of the temple before she had managed to sneak out the back when the High Priestess had sacrificed herself, and it was through her knowledge that the group knew much of what had happened that horrible day. Tonight she had worn a rather form-fitting robe – less because of the robes themselves than because they had to stretch to cover the woman’s curvaceous, hourglass figure. Unlike most of the rest of them, Cerae wasn’t much a fighter anymore, but the woman had been a quartermaster in the old temple, and she had been vital to keeping the band fed and in weapons. Now her brown hair fell over her face as she was dragged forward, fighting for every step.
All four of the women were beautiful. Kaya had the largest breasts, though Cerae gave her a run for it. Tali was the tallest of them, Lea the shortest, but all four were a sight to behold and made men pay attention when they walked into a room, armed or otherwise.
Once they were in the center of a ring of soldiers, it didn’t take long for the men to get grabby. They barely had staked Jaymes and Ren to the ground before they had forced Tali, Lea, and Cerae to their knees, grabbing them by the hair or ears and the backs of their heads as they guided the women towards their meat. Kaya expected to join them – but instead, the priest gave an order, and she was taken over to him instead.
She expected that he was planning on raping her himself, but to her surprise, he was already busy with a woman. She thought for a second that it was another of her girls, that yet another was alive – but quickly she recognized her from the only piece of clothing the naked woman was wearing – a golden mask tied around one of her arms like a brand. The woman was on her knees, and she had opened the priest’s pants, burying her head in his groin. The fallen priestess was eagerly taking his dick in her mouth and moving her head back and forth over the hardened shaft of her abuser.
Inara, Former Priestess of Ariadna
The priestess was a beautiful girl, younger than thirty. She had long, swaying black hair and cascaded down her back in a braid, and very pale, lovely skin. Kaya looked on with a horrible fascination. The willing, active sucking noises coming from the priestess were something she had a hard time understanding. True, she knew what had been done to the woman to make her like this, but still the former priestess was-
Her eyes went wide in shock as she thought about it. The priestesses! Where were they! She looked around, and her heart fell as she saw them also having been dragged out of the hideout. They were alive still, and they weren’t being abused, but… her heart sank as she saw them softly sob in their broken hope. They were captives again.
“There’s really not much better than having a trained priestess to tend to your dick,” the Inquisitor bragged to Kaya. “Even one like Inara here, who’s a bit worn out after following me around for the last six years. Her holes might not be as tight as they used to be – but the whore has gotten good at sucking on my cock.” He slapped the black-haired priestess, making her squeal. She didn’t stop sucking on the priest, however – not for a second. “Isn’t that right, whore?” He said, laughing. “I’m Camden – and I presume you are the one named Kaya, correct? A pleasure to meet you at last – I’ve been hunting you for… well, a little while at least.”
“You bastards,” Kaya snarled out. “You priests aren’t even human. You’re the scum of the earth.”
He grinned. “I’m the scum on the earth? Lower than a dirty whore like Inara? That’s not a very nice thing to say – I thought your order was supposed to be the protectors of priestesses.” Camden narrowed his eyes at the blonde girl. “It really didn’t take much time to break her in. She learned her place quickly. She’s lucky – she’ll get to spend the rest of her life worshiping my cock, even if she’s isn’t as good as she should be at worshiping her rightful god. Soon, you’ll wish you were that lucky.”
Across the way, she could see the other women as they were being raped. So far, only their mouths were being used – but that wasn’t going to last. “Oh, don’t worry Kaya – you’re safe from that for now. My dick is in better hands than yours. Your friends don’t seem too keen on theirs, though – they make pretty noises, don’t they?”
“You monster,” she murmured. As she watched, Rem was beaten while a soldier forced him to watch what was happening to his wife. He kept fighting, even if Lea barely was any longer. He was bleeding from the nose and lips now, already battered and bruised, and they showed no sign of stopping hitting him. One by one, her girls ceased their struggles, and the soldiers gleefully began pumping their mouths harder and faster.
Camden might be getting his cock sucked by a priestess, but he was paying no attention to her. His focus was entirely on the celebration of the mercenary soldiers, on their cheering over the tears of the other women as they raped their mouths. Kaya had a hard time looking away from it herself, although she certainly wasn’t taking the enjoyment from it at the priest was.
“Enjoying the sights, slut?”
Eye wide, Kaya turned at the familiar voice, looking over to find a man walking up to her – one of her soldiers. The third male to live through the night. “Draken, what – what are…” She cut off, her words fading away as she realized. “You – You son of BITCH!” Bound as she was, she still tried to lunge at him. Kaya didn’t know what she was planning to do. She just saw red. He had betrayed them. He had gotten her friends killed. She would kill him if she had to bite his throat out.
Draken had always been obsessed with her – Kaya had already known that. He had more than once tried to get her into bed, both before and after she was married. She had always laughed off his advances – but to betray them for such a paltry reason…
Draken stepped back and drove a knee into her stomach as she lunged forward. She would have fallen completely if the large soldier hadn’t grabbed her hair, holding her up and making her scalp burn. Kaya coughed, gagging at the rush of nausea. “Why…” she croaked out. “You – you would really do this just to – get me?”
Both men laughed. “For a skanky whore like you?” Draken sneered at her. “It was for the money you dumb cunt – and because I didn’t want to die, and that was the road you were steering us down. Sure, I’m gonna take my ride on that body before I go – but it’s not like I’m going to get to keep you. Your fate was written when you decided to keep following a dead goddess.” He undid his pants, and his cock sprang into her face. “Now – your friends are getting their share. It’s only fair you get yours. Open up.”
“Fuck you!” She declared. “I would rather die than ever submit to a bastard like you.”
“Told you she’d see it that way,” Camden said, chuckling.
“Fucking bitch needs to learn her place,” Draken snarled.
“Yes… she does.” Laughing, Camden grabbed onto Inara’s hair and pulled, yanking her mouth all the way down on his length. The girl began fighting at once, her weak fists ineffective against the thick muscles of Camden’s arms and legs. She made the most horrible retching sounds as she was pulled down that made Kaya’s heart break. “Are you paying attention, Kaya? Now, this little slut has only a little while to live before she suffocates.” The priest reached up to the struggling priestess and pinched her nose shut.
“Bite him!” Kaya protested, horrified.
“Oh, she knows so much better than that by now,” Camden assured her, smiling as, true to his word, Inara fought but didn’t bite. “She knows that there are fates worse than death. Now it’s up to you. Suck – or condemn this little whore-priestess to death on the end of my cock.” He shrugged. “I’ll get off with her mouth dead or alive, and I can always take one of those priestesses to tried to rescue to replace her.”
Kaya’s eyes teared up. “You fucking monster.” She wanted to fight, to deny him, to throw it in his face that she wouldn’t be the one killing Inara, that he would be. That his being a monster didn’t make Kaya one as well. All of that was tempting to scream at him – but in the end, it was a lie. Kaya had only been twelve when she had taken her oath, fourteen years ago. She had sworn to Ariadna that she would serve and protect the priestesses of her faith, that she would defend their holy sites, and that she would never by action or inaction allow a priestess to be harmed. She had sworn that oath – and while Ariadna was dead, that much of her lived on. If Kaya and her Guardians reneged on their oaths, if they gave up their promise they had made – then Ariadna was truly dead.
Kaya shot one more look of hatred at Draken, promising his death with her eyes. Then, tears flowing freely, she opened her mouth. Draken jammed his huge prick right down her throat without a second of hesitation, and most of her concerns other than the shaft choking her vanished as he shoved himself all the way in. She had sucked her husband’s member before but never taken him into her throat. Having ten inches of cock buried in her throat changed her immediate concerns quickly. In moments, the blonde warrior was squealing and struggling, her shoulder shaking as her arms fought to get free of her bonds, choking on Draken’s dick as he just laughed and pulls her head all the deeper against his body. The traitor groaned in appreciation as inch after inch of his dick sank deeper into her tight, unused gullet.
A few moments later, Draken chuckled, then began to truly rail the poor guardian’s throat, slamming into the blonde’s mouth with vigor. His cock felt enormous in her mouth as he plundered her poor face like it was whore’s cunt. “Gagkh! Gagkh! Gagkh!” Kaya gagged over and over as he slammed in and out and in again, feeling like she was going to vomit.
“Yeah – that’s what I’ve been waiting for,” Draken groaned out. “I’ve been thinking about fucking your tight little throat for more than a year now. Fuck you; you little tease – take it!” He pounded Kaya’s throat for a good little while, enjoying the sounds of her choking and sobbing on his dick – but he had other plans for her. The blonde would scream and rage more if her mouth wasn’t so occupied, and by this point, her spit had more than lubed up his dick for what he had in mind next.
“That’s a good whore,” Camden growled an Inara. He had started letting the priestess breathe again, and she had gone right back into sucking him obediently
With a vicious grin on his face, Draken pulled out of the betrayed leader’s throat just as savagely as he thrust in. While she coughed and hacked, Draken let go of her hair and shoved her backward with a pushing kick, knocking her onto her back. It took the short-of-breath blonde a second to realize what was happening, even as Draken shoved her legs apart and settled his weight between them. One big, thick-fingered hand grabbed the panties she was wearing and outright tore it away from her.
“W-What – No! No! G-Get off of me, you bastard! NOOOOO!” Kaya screamed as Draken slammed his spit-slick cock deep into the blonde’s dry cunt. Almost immediately after, her words devolved into screaming and shrieking almost immediately as she felt her pussy being ripped open by the invading cock. Grinning ferally, Draken grabbed hold of the beautiful woman’s legs and squeezing down on her thighs, using the leverage to rocket forward into her tight, clenching pussy with all of his strength.
“Get off me! Get off! Get off!” Kaya screamed in fury, desperately hoping he could fight him off and knowing that she couldn’t, that she was helpless. She was strong and fit and a trained guardian – and she was helpless as she was raped in the dirt. She sobbed as she was taken. Draken couldn’t have cared less for her self loathing – plowing the bitch into the ground felt pretty fucking good after waiting all this time for it. The traitor luxuriated in the sensation, quite enjoying the expression of hatred and agony on the damn whores face as he pounded into her tight little cunt with all his might. Tears streaked down her beautiful cheeks, but eventually, the screaming and shrieking died down again as her broken sobs became more than she could yell through. “P-Please… please… no more…”
“Such a whiny little slut,” Draken mocked. Snorting derisively, he smacked the blonde he was raping across her face, causing her to fall silent with a shocked gasp. A second later he grabbed her by her chin, his fingers digging into her cheeks as he forces her to look up at him with those delirious, teary eyes of hers. “I’m glad I’m going to be one of the last men to fuck you before the end.” Draken grinned evilly at the fear in her eyes, making her gasp with powerful, deep thrusts as he pushed in and out of her stretched cunt. Kaya squirmed and struggled ineffectually beneath him, fighting against her rapist. “Hey, Inquisitor… have her husband brought up here. He should see this.”
Camden shrugged. “Sure, why not. He the big one?”
“Yeah – names Jaymes,” he groaned. “Damn this whore’s pussy is tight.”
“NO!” she howled. “Don’t… don’t let him see me like this!”
A few moments later, Jaymes was dragged over, struggling. “Draken!” he yelled. “Get get off her you son of a bitch! You treacherous filth!” He fought hard, struggling against the men holding him and the bonds, trying to reach Kaya while she wept. He was pushed down to the ground, forced to watch while Draken raped his wife in front of him.
“Oh god,” Kaya moaned, hating herself for it but screaming out pleas anyway. “J-Jaymes! Jaymes, save me! P-Please, make him s-stop!” Her face was aflame with embarrassment and shame, and her eyes filled with tears. She knew he couldn’t help her – but he begged for the help anyway. With a grunt, Draken gave the guardian an especially vicious thrust, causing her to cry out and sob anew as she stopped begging. Jaymes saw it all, hating even second. Draken laughed uproariously, thrilling in his victory over his hated cocktease of a leader and her husband. He pulled his hands back to grab at the warrior’s ankles. A moment later, he had pinned the poor raped blonde’s legs up and pressed them behind her ears as he began to plow her with all the force in his body, bringing back her screaming and shrieking as a new wave of pain poured back over her.
Ready and eager, Draken began to give Kaya the pounding of her life. With her ankles pressed back near her ears, he’s able to bury every last inch of his monstrous cock inside of her. His dick slams into her cunt again and again, her inner walls tightening and clenching around his dick, either in an effort to hold him in or to push him out, but never quite succeeding one way or the other. The pace of the rape was entirely up to him – his cock went in and came out of the bitch’s cunt exactly how he wanted it to. By the time his cock started shaking inside of her, heaving as he dumped a massive load of seed right into her womb, she was shaking and spasming, shaking like a rag doll each time he thrust up into her body.
“You bastard!” Jayne yelled, tears rolling down his face as he looked on.
Kaya wept, turning her head as Draken pulled out of her. Down below, the gangrape had gotten out of hand. From here, she could hear the sound of their quiet sobs as they were bent over, their assholes and pussies filled, choking on cum. Draken looked down at her from above, smirking. “Ok. I’m done with the bitch. Anyone else who wants her can have her now.”
Camden scratched his chin as he looked out over the clearing ground, smiling to himself. The sun was starting to rise over the clearing finally, dew glistening on the leaves and the grass as the weak rays of light fell onto the assembled men and the building. The noises of the forest in the morning could be loud, but the noise was nothing compared to the sounds made by his soldiers. They could often get noisy, as soldiers did – but now that they had reluctant guests to entertain, they were far louder.
Camden smiled to look on the scene – even though he’d been watching for hours, the pleasure of watching hadn’t diminished the glee it brought him. Even though he was quite aware of what has been going on, and fully familiar with the sight that would greet him, the effect the scene before his eyes had on him hadn’t diminish in its impact as he watched the girls in the clearing be raped over and over. Kaya, specifically. The blonde was the prettiest of the four, so even if she weren’t the leader, he would have loved seeing her naked, on her hands and knees, pouty red lips wrapped around an engorged cock of one of his soldiers while another fucked her tight pussy from behind. He took in the image of her bare, sweat-drenched flesh writhing while two stiff poles stuffed her from both ends – watching her generous breasts heave as they swayed beneath her.
Camden eased himself down on the fallen log he was using as his chair. His eyes never left the spectacle before him, taking in every moment as his men continued their degradation of the murderous Ariadna rebel. All their anger and frustrations at worry that they might be the next soldiers to be killed in one of her raids. The death of soldiers they knew – he had encouraged them to take it all out of the four whores in the clearing. Naked and sweating and covered with cum, the women continued to diligently suck the cock of one of her former soldiers while another thrust his pole between her parted thighs into her cum-soaked sex. None of the girls were bound anymore – they had done away with weapons, and the women were too weak to resist any longer anyway. The man behind her had his hands tightly held around her slim waist. In time with each powerful thrust of his groin, he would pull her hips back hard. The bare juicy globes of her upraised ass slammed against him each time he plowed her pussy. The meaty slap of sweat-slick flesh against sweat slick flesh mingled with the sounds of wet slurping and sucking that echoed through the chamber as the defiled guardian gave head and took the pounding from behind by troops she had spent the last months making fear for their lives.
Camden sat back and watched. These mercenaries – they were idiots for the most part. Many of these were long term mercenaries, having been hired by the church a decade or more before when it had begun expanding. It meant that they had been soldiers of Karn for a considerable time, but their links to the priesthood were faint. Despite that, they were eagerly raping the hell out of these women. Not a single one had even hesitated. He looked down at Inara where she knelt between his legs, trying to suck a fourth load of out of him while he watched the show, and found that he felt no pity for her at all – not for what he was making her do now, not for what he had made her do in the past.
He was an introspective soul. These were hard men, but still, it was odd that no one had refused to partake. He had seen mercenaries refuse before, but they were always freshly hired. If they had been in the church for even a few months, he had never seen one refuse to rape one of the priestesses. And that was odd to Camden… He remembered a time it had not been so. Seven years ago, he never would have abused a woman like this. Now, he thought nothing of it – and he wasn’t the only one.
But it wasn’t women in general. He had seen other pretty women in the last seven years, appreciated them – some of them exceedingly lovely, and vulnerable, and in his power. He could have taken them. He could have done it and gotten away with it, easily – even if his position as an Inquisitor wouldn’t have inspired the church to shield him from consequences. But he had never raped any of them.
And it wasn’t just him, either. He had witnessed that oddity in other priests, in other mercenaries serving the church. Their complete moral bankruptcy when it came to sexual violence seemed to extend only so far as the nearest worshiper of Ariadna. He knew the gospel – that she had been slain, that her church was rightfully the property of Karn now, that her worship was to be folded into his – but he knew how much of that was just an excuse, as well. It wasn’t like he was making Inara into a good, worshipful priestess. He was using her like a fucktoy and punishing her for her patron goddess. How strange that none of the other priests seemed to notice.
Or maybe not. What was also strange was that even understanding the oddity of it didn’t change it in the slightest. Camden still felt no mercy for these whores, no desire to help them, not even the slight mercy of changing his plans and enslaving them instead. Though he knew that he shouldn’t want it, he did, and that was enough.
Camden was sure that Karn had raped Ariadna before she had died.
It was the only thing that had made sense. The lust and actions of their god had transferred down to his worshipers and given them free rein to abuse Ariadna’s priestesses and soldiers – more than that, encouraging them. He had brought that idea up to Inara before – she had wept for two straight days after he’d suggested it.
Suddenly the soldier fucking Kaya’s mouth groaned and roughly jerked her head towards his naked crotch shoving his twitching cock deeper into her gasping throat. Her mouth was stretched wide around the man’s bloated member, bruised, swollen lips pressed against his unkempt crotch. His head was thrown back, eyes closed as he enjoyed the feel of the bitch’s tongue licking along his shaft. The blowjob from blonde rebel had him coming, his twitching member spurting his seed against the walls of her mouth and down against the back of her throat.
Kaya visibly gagged, and instinctively tried to pull her head back, but the soldier had a firm grip. With his hands curled around locks of her thick blonde hair, he hissed “Oh yes – oh hell yes – swallow it – swallow it all you bitch, or I’ll drown you with it.” He thrust out his groin even more as his cock came in spasms.
Camden could see there was some fight left in the captive rebel leader as she struggled – albeit weakly – to clear her mouth of the cumming shaft. Nostrils flaring, her tits heaving as her lungs pumped like bellows she dug her palms into the grass of the clearing, trying to push herself away from the man plying her mouth only to impale herself onto the pole pumping her slit. To the delight of the soldier mounting her from behind, she was grinding her lush ass mounds against his crotch like a well-paid whore. “Whore is fucking me back!” the soldier exclaimed to the raucous laughter of his onlooking comrades. The man obliged her eagerness by picking up the tempo of his thrusts between her parted legs.
Trapped, and exhausted, Kaya was forced to give up her struggles. With fresh tears trailing down her cheeks the degraded woman swallowed the seed in her mouth before she choked on it. “MMMMmmmm!” The groan came from beside him. He looked over at where Jaymes was tied up beside him, gagged, watching his wife’s ongoing gangrape.
“Have to admire your whore of a wife, don’t ya?” he asked, grinning as he put his hands on the dark hair. “Still putting up a struggle instead of willingly swallowing. Wonder why she bothers to pretend. Not like she hasn’t swallowed a few horses worth by now, hasn’t she?” He paused. “I’m fine with it. Better when they have some spirit left.”
They both watched as the man who had cum in her mouth pulled out, and using her light hair like a blonde rag to wipe clean his softening cock. Her vacated mouth was parted, drying fluid trailed down the corners. Kaya had her eyes squeezed tightly, and her face was set in a grimace as she suffered the assault on her pussy from the man behind her. Then he stepped away.
She was jerked back and forth as the soldier from behind slammed his groin against her upraised rump at a feverish pace. With the man in front of her gone, he had cut loose. The mass of damp hair that clung to her back shook with each bone-jarring impact as the trooper stabbed his rod between her parted thighs. With a growl the soldier rammed his tool forcefully into her one last time and held it there, his hands locked around her hips. Still on her hands and knees, the beautiful woman shook as her tight sheath received a fresh blast of warm spunk from the embedded cock.
As soon as he let go of her, Kaya collapsed forward onto the ground in a heal, the pale skin of her ass pointed up, still in the light grasp of the man impaling her. As he withdrew his softening prick which came away with an audible plop, a torrent of warm viscous spunk from Kaya’s gaping riven cunt lips splattered onto the grass and pooling below her splayed thighs.
His eyes traced over the other blonde, the one called Lea, as she was brutalized. The girl had stopped fighting entirely, hanging limp – and whenever she didn’t have a man burying his cock in her mouth, her eyes traced over to the corpse of her husband. They had questioned her and her husband brutally, taking turns using their pain to blackmail the other – in the end, they had gotten everything they needed from them before the man had bled out. Lea had screamed for an hour until her throat was too raw to make a sound, and for another hour after that, she had screamed silently. Now she just looked dead inside as she was raped – but Camden knew where most of their funding had come from now. That was what he had been after – and he had hoped he wouldn’t have to brutalize Kaya for it. He preferred her to be as intact as possible for what was to come.
From the crowd of men not currently occupied with one of the other three girls, two more of his men stepped up to take up positions on either side of the prone, naked soldier. The mercenary behind her bent over and slapped her ass as the other man grabbed her by the hair and lifted her head. “How many does that make, Jaymes – thirty? Forty? I lost count – but I doubt you have.” He sighed, looking up at the lightening sky. “Don’t worry. It’s almost over. It’s almost over now…”
Kaya felt like her body had been torn apart as she hung helplessly between two of the soldiers while Camden rattled off her death warrant.
“These five soldiers, being members of a criminal organization and guilty of the murder of eighty-seven members of the Church of Karn,” he cited, standing straight as he looked down at the kneeling captives, “Are hereby condemned to die. By the authority vested in me by High Priest Jaras and the Codex Encelius, signed by his Majesty Durant Relim IV, I will carry out this sentence today, by means of my choosing.” He nodded to the soldiers. “Bind them. They march for the city.”
Kaya tried not to hear it, moaned softly to block it out, but it didn’t help. The men grabbed her arms, dragging her to her feet. She was so lost in residual pain of her rape that she hardly noticed when the ropes were slipped around her ankles, loosely – loose enough for her to walk, not enough for her to run, even if she had enough strength to try to escape. They shoved her forward, and she wanted nothing so much as to just sink to the ground – but then one of the soldiers behind her began whipping her. The pain was incredible, literally taking away her breath between her screams. She stumbled forward a pair of steps to get away from the whip before stopping. A few seconds later, she was whipped again, screaming. She understood the threat clearly enough. She walked, and if she stopped, she was going to be whipped. The screams of the other girls behind her showed that they were coming to the same conclusion.
Kaya stumbled forward, choking and sobbing, her head drooping with exhaustion as spit dripped from her mouth. They whipped her every few seconds. When she looked down at herself, her skin seemed stained crimson with scratches, welts, and bleeding sores. When she reached the edge of the clearing, she noticed for the first time that not all the soldiers had been busy raping her and her friends – some of them had been cutting down trees.
Another soldier approached with a heavy wooden beam almost as long as Kaya was tall. He laid it across two wooden blocks to keep it about a hand’s width off the ground. One end of a rough-hewn wooden plank was placed in the middle of the beam, the other end resting on the grass. The soldiers grabbed her arms and ankles and toppled her back on to the plank, stretched out her arms along the beam and immediately began to lash them in place with narrow leather straps at the hands, wrists, forearms, upper arms and shoulders. She cried and whimpered as splinters from the plank stabbed into her bruised and lacerated back. They paid her no heed.
“She’s ready now, boys!” the soldier tightening her straps said jauntily before he dismounted, making sure to push down on her as he did so to give her one last painful grind against the plank.
Kaya could hear the first whacks of the whips and the screams of their targets coming from the barn behind her as the soldiers lifted the beam and her along with it. At least she wasn’t being whipped. For the moment, except for that and where the beam ground into the wounds on her upper back, the level of pain had become manageable. But she knew it would soon get much worse.
One of the soldiers looped a chain around her neck and then began to drag her forward. Kaya trudged forward, occasionally whipped when she stagged, through the woods and onward to one of the road. The naked girl picked her way around the sharpest rocks on the ground, but she couldn’t avoid all of them, straining under the burden of the heavy beam and her churning emotions. They were going to kill them. They were going to kill them all, now that they were finished with them. Her thoughts were cut off by a sudden jerking of the chain around her neck. “Come on, bitch!” The voice was churlish now. “You don’t want to keep everyone waiting. They’re looking forward to a good show…”
She stumbled forward, her knees trembling under the weight of the beam, staggering as she walked. She had never imagined such humiliation, such a feeling of shame. She had failed, failed, failed…
Slowly the others passed her while her own captors took it more slowly. She was force-matched for an hour without rest before they reached the outside of the city – and that was when she found the first cross erected beside the road. She nearly fainted at the sight. Kaya had never seen an actual crucifixion before – and she recognized the girl on the cross. The woman was strung up from nails driven through her wrists, the blood dribbling down his arms. Her legs were tucked up under her as though she were crouching, her knees pointing to his left. A single large spike had been driven through her heels. Her head lolled, and her mouth hung open. She seemed to be struggling for breath.
It was Ela. She was one of their contacts in the city – a lady in waiting of a noblewoman named Amellisan, of Vasali. She had spoken with the woman a hundred times, worked with her to get supplies and funding. And now she was being executed for it. They had already found the woman – her fate had been sealed, probably even before they had begun drinking the night before.
A searing pain across her back followed the crack of a bullwhip. “Get moving you stupid cow! This piece of shit has her own problems. Worry about yours.” Her legs trembling, Kaya forced herself to keep walking, too weak now to avoid the rocks bloodying her feet.
They came to the second cross. The woman wasn’t even someone who had known anything – she had just been a servant of Ela’s. The sight of Talia, her naked form a mass of welts and blood, her wrists nailed into the beam, was bad enough. But they had managed to degrade her even further. They had nailed her heels together so that her knees were pointing in opposite directions, spreading her sex wide open for all to see. Her bare cunt was still leaking cum from having been raped earlier – Kaya wept for the woman.
But she couldn’t stop. The man with the bullwhip was right behind her, warning her to keep walking with painful flicks of the whip. The death march went on and on, past several more crosses. More servants. A stable-master who had sold them goods. A baker. A shipwright. Cross after cross, past terrible suffering until she began to pass the hanging forms of her own soldiers. Jaymes hung first. Her eyes were wide as she looked at him. She wanted to head to her husband, to beg for him to be released – but he wasn’t even looking at her. His eyes were empty, unseeing as he stared at the ground. Then she passed Lea where she hung from a cross as well. Her legs were spread just the way Talia had been. Next was Tali, who had been staked up backward, her ass out. One of the soldiers was raping her there, right on the cross. Finally, she passed Cerae. They had hung the curvaceous woman up upside down, her face at crotch level. Her face had already grown red with the blood rushing to the head below, where Kaya still could see her skin beneath the cum. No one was raping her at the moment – but she was obviously just between people eager to use her.
She was pulled past them, one by one, until her eyes were too full of tears to see anyone any longer. Finally, they reached a place where there was only an empty hole and a long, roughly hewn tree trunk lying beside it. The effort to hack the bark off the tree had been half-hearted at best, so the surface was rough and splintery. A notch had been cut into it near one end. Kaya knew what would be going into that notch.
The leather straps holding her arms to the beam were removed, and the beam was lifted away from her. The relief was immense, and she even had a few moments to kneed her sore shoulders as they nailed the beam into the notch. When the soldiers were satisfied it was secure, they grabbed her by the arms and removed the neck chain. Gripping her firmly, they forced her to straddle the tree and quickly laid her down on its crude surface where the many splinters and patches of bark dug into the wounds on her back. She cried from the pain as they stretched out her arms on the beam once more and held them down.
Then Camden walked up to her – and she could see the hammer and spikes in her hand. “No…” she rasped – but her voice was weak. She was too thirsty. So pathetic. “Please – don’t… Goddess… please…”
He just smiled at her.
She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth, trying to steel herself to what was coming. She felt the point of the nail in her right wrist, then the terrible pain as it was hammered through the wrist and into the beam. A tearing sensation as she was stabbed through, tearing muscle and ligaments. She wanted to scream, but her throat was too try, too sore. After bending the nail over to make sure she could not pull her self off it, the soldier moved to her left wrist and did the same. Kaya could do little but gasp.
“Shhh…” Camden said, putting a finger down across her lips. “Ariadna can’t hear you, little one.” The two soldiers who had held down her arms now grabbed her legs, spread them apart and pulled her body down the splintery pole as far as her nailed hands would allow. They placed the right heel over the left heel about three hands below the curve of her swollen cunt nail so that her legs were bent and the knees spread wide apart. Camden then raised his hammer, and once again slammed it down, once, twice, three times, driving the point of another long nail through both her heels into the post. It was a small mercy that it barely hurt – her feet were so cut up from rocks and the road that they had long since grown numb. Still, the seasoned warrior knew that that level of numbness was a very bad sign.
Then Camden lay his weight down on top of her. “I’ll be your last, sweet thing,” he said as he dug his cock out from his pants. “You’ll be seeing Ariadna soon enough – I’ll make sure you fit in with the whore.” And he pushed into her. The rape was just one of many, but her pussy was so raw that it hurt regardless. The real pain, though – that came from the way her body jerked as he fucked her. The bark ripped into her back. The body was jostled on the nails. And the priest just… kept… smiling. Kaya had to look away, turning her head, tears filling her eyes – but as she did, she found herself looking at Cerae choking on a dick, hung on her own cross. No matter where she looked, she couldn’t escape her fate.
The fate she had led them to.
She didn’t feel it when Camden finished – one more load of cum in her was hardly noticeable, even after the long march had let much of their seed pour down her legs. Then he was off of her, looking down. “One final thing for you,” he said. “It’s important anyone who walks by knows you were the one in charge. To see how you suffered for your crimes against the church.” He grabbed a painted sign from the side and showed it to her. It was plain, adorned only with two small holes, painted with three words in scarlet paint.
Camden went to his belt and produced a thick needle strung with a heavy cord. The priest sat down on her midsection, making her injured back once again grind into the bark as, like a lover, he began to gently squeeze and caress her left nipple, making it stiffed against Kaya’s will. Then, pinching hard, Camden pulled the nipple up taut and slowly drove the point of the needle through its tenderest part. Kaya was too exhausted to scream – that seemed to annoy Camden, so he pushed it back in and out several times as if fucking the hole he had made in her with it. At last, he drew the cord through the hole he’d created and repeated the same painful procedure on the right nipple. With the cord drawn through both nipples, he finished the job by threading the ends through the holes in the sign and tying it off.
“She’s ready to die now,” he mocked and then stood up.
The soldiers holding her legs then lifted her and the cross up, pulling her vertical and dropping her into the hole. At the same moment, the sign swung away from her belly and pain stabbed her nipples from the pull of the cord. Grinning up at the suffering slut, the soldiers packed the dirt in around the pole to firm it up, make sure it would stay in place. And now the pain was excruciating, her numbness far insufficient to protect her from the way being hung like this put all her wounds to the test.
With her knees splayed wide, Kaya ravaged holes were on grotesque display as she suffered pain like she had never believed possible. It blazed through her body. If she had been hanging entirely from her wrists, she might have torn brutally free – but just enough of her weight was supposed by her nailed ankles to keep her from doing so. Very soon Kaya began to find it hard to exhale because of the way her body pulled on her arms. She seemed to be suffocating. For a few moments she thought that would be a good way to end all this: just let herself suffocate. But her body would not allow it. Involuntarily, her body reacted to shortness of breath by pulling on her wrists and pushing on her ankles. The agony produced by that maneuver was beyond belief, but she couldn’t choose not to do it – it was like having Karn himself in her mind, dictating her actions as her body took brutal actions to survive.
Executions of this sort had been banned for a century, for exactly that reason, Kaya knew. Emperor Justicar had outlawed the practice when he had assumed the throne – but she wasn’t under imperial law. She was being executed under church law, and the Church of Karn could execute her in whatever way it chose – even a way crafted perfectly to maximize pain and prolong the agony. The nails and the wood both worked to minimize blood loss, the constant need for movement minimized shock. Kaya was about to suffer one of the cruelest form of death ever invented by man – and her friends and her husband were about to suffer it with her.
It was just the beginning.
The soldiers amusing themselves with Tali and Cerae eventually grew tired of it. They had been raping the captive soldiers for hours already – how much novelty could raping one on a cross bring? Soon, they were all gone, leaving the five surviving Guardians of Ariadna to die slow deaths for their crimes. The very last thing she saw of them was the three priestesses they had rescued being dragged behind them, taken back to the fate she had tried so hard to rescue them from… to no avail.
As the hours dragged by, Kaya’s agony didn’t fade – it only increased with each passing second, to the point where even her guilt for her friends couldn’t outstrip it. To her undying shame, she would have left her husband there on the cross if only she could get down – in her suffering, tortured brain, she cared nothing anymore for anyone’s suffering but her own.
The morning wore on, the sun rising higher and hotter, burning her. She was so thirsty. She hoped that she would die of thirst before the birds came for her. In her hopeless waiting for death, it was the only thing she could hope for still. And, whispering with dry, chapped lips, she began to pray to Ariadna for death.
Kaya wasn’t sure how long she had hung there, whispering prayers for death to a dead goddess, drifting in and out of nightmares, deep in delirium. Her dreams were no better than her reality. In her dreams, she was executed a hundred times, raped a thousand times. She had to watch her husband drown, burn, be beheaded, be suffocated, be whipped to death before the same or worse happened to her. Her fevered nightmares swam through her mind like a river of blood, filled her soul like a block of ice and frozen her solid, even as the sun burned her.
Someone had come by one or twice to give them water – she hated that she had taken it. It was just to make her live longer, and she knew it, but she was so thirsty – and it had still done nothing to quench her thirst, to make her throat less dry. She had long since lost track of time, but she felt it had been a long time since someone had come by with water. Six hours? Twelve? A day? Maybe even two? It felt like she had been on the cross for a year – up and down, pulling herself up, sagging down as her strength gave out, always struggling to breathe.
In time, the heat from the sun faded, and all that was left was the cold of the night. Not for the first time. The heat had been bad – the cold was even worse. At least she was too fevered to feel it any longer – Kaya doubted she had much time left. The heat was growing from within her, the burning of fever in her wounds. That heat filled her – but it wasn’t a bad heat. It was almost comforting. Like the love that she felt in Jaymes’ arms. She was dying. It was the only explanation. Life was nothing but pain for her now, but if this was dying, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad…
She woke with a start, struggling against hands holding her.
“Shhh love,” Jaymes said. His face was covered in dry blood and dirt, but it was him looking down at her – unquestionably him. “You’re safe now. Please don’t move – the lady says you can’t move. That you’ll hurt yourself if you do. Please just be still now love. You’re safe…”
Safe felt like an impossible lie. Where was safe? What was safe? How could anywhere be safe after she had watched some many friends and companions die, after she had been put to death in such a cruel way? Not even heaven could be safe without Ariadna there to protect her…
Slowly though, Kaya began to realize that she wasn’t dead. She still ached everywhere – the bitter agony of her wounds had been cleansed away like someone had filled her with ice enough to numb every sore, but the muscle-and-bone deep exhaustion and soreness lingered. She could feel the grass and a few rocks beneath her back, could smell dirt and shit and sweat and cum, things she hoped weren’t waiting for her in the afterlife. She was, impossibly, alive. And so was Jaymes.
Jaymes… he looked filthy, bloodstained, but he didn’t look hurt. The deep cuts on his face and shoulders, the places where Kaya had seen the whips flay away skin – the wounds were gone. He was whole. He was alive, and he was alive, and he was alive and…
She turned her head… and if had water enough in her to cry, she would have.
Lea sat on the ground against a tree, wrapped in a cloak. Her head was down, obviously out cold, but her golden hair was unmistakable, as was Cerea leaning against her. The two women were holding each other up as they slept the sleep of the exhausted – and the painless. Tali was on the ground, her dark hair spilling around her at the base of the cross she had been mounted on – and a woman was straddling her, hands together on her sternum. The woman was wearing a black cloak and black clothing beneath it, almost invisible in the night if it wasn’t for her pale blonde hair shining in the light of the moon. She wasn’t sure what the woman was doing, but her hands seemed to glow…
A priestess. Some few very, very exceptional priests and priestesses had the gifts from their goddess to heal the sick and the injured – Kaya had never seen it. Not even in the Grand Temple. She had thought the tales were imagined, stories for the gullible…- but the holes in her wrists and ankles were gone.
Then the woman stood up and almost staggered from obvious exhaustion – and as she did she turned just far enough towards Kaya for her to see the golden mask she wore on her face. A priestess… of Ariadna? She had prayed for death – and another worshiper of her goddess had arrived to deliver her life, instead.
“She came just after midnight,” Jaymes said softly. “Says her name is Ari. She started with me, bringing me down off the cross so I could help her gets the others down.” He swallowed, flexing his hands instinctively. Kaya’s wounds might have vanished, but they still burned – she could imagine how painful it would have been for Jaymes to lift the weight, to walk, to carry her with his own wounds – but her husband had done it. Of course he had – he wouldn’t dream of doing any less. “She’s been healing you all since the moon was barely up. Now it’s about to set, and she still hasn’t rested.”
Slowly, the priestess walked over. “I don’t have time,” she said softly, her voice musical even in a whisper. It was the most beautiful sound Kaya had ever heard, she thought. “That Inquisitor is still on the prowl. He left town in a rush yesterday morning.” She looked down at Kaya. “I’m hoping you can tell me where he’s going.”
For a single, mad moment, Kaya wondered if this all was a trick. Just one more way to break her, to make her give away the details of her supporters – after all, the only priestesses of her faith that should have any power were one who had given herself entirely to Karn. But as she looked at the woman, she felt ashamed for having any doubt. This was a priestess of Ariadna, she was sure of it… one the priestesses she had sworn to serve and protect. There was there was little enough she could give that they hadn’t already beaten out of Lea and her husband. “Lady Amellisan,” she said softly. “They are going after Lady Amellisan, in Vasali.”
The priestess nodded somberly. “Then that’s where I must go next,” she said. Slowly, Ari bent down and grabbed her mask, lifting it up far enough to expose soft, full lips which she pressed against Kaya’s forehead, the purity of that kiss against the filth of her skin making the fallen warrior want to cry all over again. “Rest and recover,” she said. “When the sun rises, you have to go, or they may find you again. Head to Raegis… you should be safe in the Imperial capital. You deserve the sanctuary you’ve made for others.”
And then, walking with an exhausted gait, the priestess rose and began to walk down the road.
Kaya turned her head to watch her go until she could turn her head no further. Above her, her husband kept watching. “Goddess bless you, Ari,” he whispered.
Kaya flexed her hands, feeling the pain of the impaling wound even as the wounds themselves were gone without a scar. Her brain was moving in exhausted loops that made no sense – but she still stared at her fighting arm, impossibly made whole once again. “I think she already did,” Kaya said softly.
It didn’t make sense.
It didn’t make sense.
It didn’t have to.
The blonde Guardian of Ariadna closed her eyes and relaxed against her husband, and seconds later she fell into a deep, and mercifully dreamless, sleep.