Yuki hated the music. Even after all this time, it was little but noise to her. How could these humans stand it? Couldn’t they hear at all?
She walked around the balcony, outwardly doing her assigned tasks of making sure the correct people were screwing the correct sluts. Master Mordred – how she hated that she referred to him that way even in her mind, now – enjoyed the fruits of running this place, the connections to high society that it brought him, and the plentiful pussy to abuse, but he had no interest in actually running it. He hadn’t turned this place into a success.
Her ideas. Her training. Her hard work. All of it… she had slaved to make this place a success for that bastard, and he treated her even more like shit than her own people had. When he had dragged her back to his “empire,” it had been nothing. She had built it into something special out of sheer self preservation, and he hated her for that.
She still remembered the day she had met him. It had been 1561 as the Westerners counted the years, in Ryuzoji. She had heard of the strange men and their ships, but she had never seen one until she had headed south, avoiding the wars that were sweeping the land for control of Kyoto. She had been hiding among them in the city of Dejima when she had seen the ancient vampire for the first time; a woman pressed up between him and a tree while he raped her, even while bleeding her out through the holes his fangs had put in her neck.
In the time since, Yuki had wondered how her life might have been different had she just walked away – but no. She had been prideful, and angry, and foolish. She had thought him just a man. It wasn’t until she had pounced on him and was trying to rake her claws deep into his chest that she had realized he wasn’t bleeding, that he had no soul to take. That the void inside him had drank her Witchfire like a dry sponge. And when he took her throat in his hands and lifted her off the ground, she realized that he was far, far stronger than she ever could have ever guessed.
She still remembered after nearly five hundred years the sight of him standing over her and holding her Witchfire, the gift that she had sacrificed everything for, in his bloody, disgusting hands… glaring down at her as he had enslaved her. She had been his slave – his little furry fucktoy – ever since.
She had followed him back to the land called Europe on the Dutch boat in the harbor, seducing sailors below deck so that Master Mordred could feed on them in safety. Then, when the expansion to the New World had begun, he had followed – and she had been forced to follow with him to the original city of sin on this continent, New Orleans… first under French control, then later American.
He had run numerous brothels in Europe – the monster had been especially happy to disguise them as nunneries – but while they had appealed to his sadistic nature, none of them had been especially profitable. Girls grew old too quickly and needed to be replaced, and the process of replacing them was always where the villagers would eventually discover the kind of monster they had in their midst and either force him to massacre them or flee. It was her capture that had inspired him to think grander. If she could be controlled, what other supernatural creatures could be?
Yuki looked over the ledge and sighed, her tails twitching as she traced her eyes over the trees in the center of the club. Dryads had been the first… her idea. They had been plentiful back in those days when the land was still more untamed. Their lives were tied to their trees, so if you took their tree away, they needed to follow. That was troublesome, but Mordred was more than capable of ripping a tree out of the ground by its roots. Yuki herself had been enslaved much the same way – she had little sympathy for the tree-loving sluts. It wasn’t her fault that her master was a monster.
Once he had their trees, the dryads had been forced to live where he told them, do as he told them, or their tree would be destroyed, even if they managed to escape themselves. They were nearly perfect victims – They weren’t human, so they had no relatives looking for them, they lived hundreds of years in young bodies, and they could be blackmailed into perfect obedience. Nearly.
They only had two problems. First, they were rare. In older times, they had been more common, but it had been more than a century now since she’d last heard of a new dryad being discovered in Europe. Most of the new ones they found and bought were from the Canadian wilds or Mexico, and they had only found three new ones in the last hundred years. Second, they were humanoid but undeniably inhuman. She could hide the features that marked her as a nogitsune, masking them behind illusions so habitually that she barely needed to think about it anymore, but a dryad could not hide her own inhuman traits. No one fucking one would ever think they were a normal human girl, and that limited the customer-base Master could build… some of the rich in this country were so bland that they made plain rice seem exciting.
His next idea to solve this had been nymphs. They actually had quite a few of them here, but they tended to work the front of the club, away from its darker true nature. Some customers didn’t want to rape their pussy – they just wanted to get laid. Nymphs were great for that. Beautiful, hypersexual, and eager, it was practically impossible to rape a nymph once she had any alcohol in her… it was basically their purpose in the universe, after all. Still, they weren’t perfect girls for this club. For one, there wasn’t a great way to ensure obedience. Unlike dryads, a nymph could run if she got an opportunity and was given a good reason. Hell, sometimes they would just wander off, the ditzy, stupid things. Second, they lived far longer than humans, but in the scope of Master Mordred’s lifespan – or hers – 50 years of prime youth wasn’t much.
She looked down at the waters, at the balconies – of the eighty-seven girls currently on shift, all but four were selkies. That had been her brilliant thought. He had been telling a business partner a legend from the land where he had become what he was while she sucked on his cock – a legend of men pulling women from the seas and stealing their skins to force them to marry. Fae women who lived immortal lives, who had to obey whoever had their skins – the perfect victims. Later that evening, she had proposed a plan… and it had worked brilliantly. They were common enough that hunters around the UK and the Nordic countries found them ten or so a year, gorgeous, trainable, nearly immortal, and obedient. The perfect little whores for his club.
She felt no guilt for it. It wasn’t her fault. She wasn’t enslaving them… the monster was. She was just training them how to fit into their new lives… how to be the very best whores on the planet, putting centuries of practice at dominating sweet, tender young things to use. He did it. Not her.
And then… he had found Merielle.
Yuki pushed herself away from the balcony, pretending to watch the crowds, keeping an eye on operations. That was her job, after all – to make sure the club ran smoothly, that all the memberships got paid, that the slaves were purchased, brought in, and kept in line. That they were trained up to the insane standards required by the patrons… standards that kept them from becoming meat or being tossed out like garbage. That was her job. Tonight, though, her thoughts were elsewhere.
Membership here, just to be able to step foot into the club at all, cost a million dollars a year – there was no pretense that this wasn’t a club for the super-rich. That membership fee got you a sampling of one of the girls but mostly it just got you let in the door… the ability to hire one of Master’s… one of her… girls for the night. The price depended on the service, of course… and if you could pay extra, you could get perks like being the first to break in one of the new girls. If you couldn’t afford it, you could pay to fuck one of the nymphs and dream of a day that you would be allowed through the back doors into the club proper, where any dark dream could come true. Even after seven hundred years of life – most of it spent with men and women wanting to fuck her – it still never ceased to amaze Yuki how these people could find value in this at the price Master Mordred asked.
She looked up, seeking the sight of what she was waiting for – and smiled. Master Mordred was taking his meeting with two of his Children. Anastasia had arrived earlier today to meet with her sire, as they did only once or twice a year, and their meeting usually lasted hours – time in which he wouldn’t be paying attention to her. Without saying a word to anyone, Yuki turned and strode for one of the doors out of the club, disappearing down a hallway, finding a staircase up and taking it, then another, then another until she stood before Mordred’s door.
She pushed at it – locked of course. She could have just pushed the door open, tearing it from the wall and knocking it down with little effort, but to do so would mean her death. Instead, she reached into the cup of her corset and pulled out a key.
Yuki had barely dared to breathe the last twenty four hours, certain that she had been a moron… that she was just seconds away from wishing that she was dead. She had asked the dumb selkie to do something for her last night, had needed to hope she was competent enough to manage it… and she had. Merielle had come to her room early this morning, her makeup smeared and her eyes red from crying, but she had also held the key in her delicate hands.
Yuki had never seen anything so beautiful in her entire life. The stupid little whore had done it!
The key looked old, but it was nothing of the sort – it was a sophisticated electronic key with its circuits on the inside, all but impossible to fake. She would know. Master Mordred had had her order the system installed herself… she knew how the security system worked, how it would destroy her Witchfire in the event of any unapproved access. Just one more layer of mockery, one more way to know how impossibly far away her freedom from her Master was.
She pushed the key into the lock and took a deep breath. If she was wrong, her Witchfire was about to be destroyed and she was dead. If Master wasn’t as arrogant as he appeared, she was dead. If he had discovered the key was missing, she was dead.
But what was death after five hundred years of cruel, humiliating, degrading slavery? What the fuck was so worthwhile about her life that it was worth preserving?
Yuki turned the key.
No alarms went off. No sounds filled the hallway or the room. The nogitsune didn’t abruptly drop dead. Yuki let of a breath she’d been unconsciously holding as she heard the lock click. Then she opened the door and walked in, tails gliding it behind her just before she closed the door.
The vault was somewhere in here – it wouldn’t be hard to find. Once Master could have hidden what was precious to him anywhere, but now he had so many of the things to protect that it had to be huge. Yuki had been the one to hire those contractors as well, so she knew that they had installed the vault in his chambers…
She stopped before one of the doors. There was nothing obviously different about it, but she could feel it – the door seemed to pound like the beating of a heart in her mind. Both ears were pointed towards it, and Yuki took a deep breath as she lay her hands flat on the door. It was steel she knew, hidden inside that wood. She had purchased the biometric scanner herself – Only Mordred’s eyes would open this door.
It didn’t matter. She was close enough.
For centuries, Master had carried it on him at all times – kept where she would never be able to get it before he could destroy it, where it was close to the void inside of him – but he had grown secure and arrogant in time. She hadn’t sensed it on him for years before her recent trip to the Paradisium, and then when she had returned from Ireland it had been gone again. Yuki felt confident it lay inside the vault, rigged to blow if someone broke into his room without the key. That had been secure enough for him since he let no one else inside – until he had met Merielle.
The beautiful redhead had driven her Master to all kinds of stupidity. Yuki was fairly sure it was because she reminded him of the girl who had gotten him turned into a vampire in the first place, the source of his curse. Maybe it was symbolic vengeance, or maybe he was reliving the old days… the nogitsune didn’t know, and she didn’t care. All she cared about was escaping Master Mordred once and for all.
Pressing her hands against the vault door, she reached through it with her mind. Her magic was weak, pathetically weak, but the strength was there – just on the other side of the door. ‘Come,’ she beckoned silently, eyes closed and pleading. ‘Come. Come on… Come on…’
Her head began to ache from the effort and intense concentration. Yuki wasn’t sure how long she stood there in the room, knowing that she would be killed or much, much worse of the Master returned and found her here. It didn’t matter. ‘Come. Come,’ she whispered into the vaults of her mind, begging. She felt the warmth on her skin, unsure if it was real or imagined, a sign of effort or one of flame. She kept pushing. In her mind, she could see it – a tiny spark of blue fire moving through the darkness like a lynched faerie suspended by fishing line, pressing against the side of the bottle he kept it in until it tumbled from the shelf and shattered, floating slowly towards the door guided by her iron will and desperation.
She felt it now – the door was growing hot beneath her hands. That wasn’t her imagination. Her heart leaped into her throat, and she pressed harder, feeling the heat grow until she saw a faint blue glow through the door. Hurry, hurry, hurry… Master Mordred wouldn’t be away forever. The wood over the door began to smoke and then burn away as the metal beneath it turned crimson with the heat – and then a tiny, blue flame pressed through it, coming through the door to rest between her hands.
Yuki gasped, tears running down her cheeks as she closed her hands around it, cupping the precious wisp of flame that she had sacrificed her honor and dignity and sanity for nearly seven hundred years ago. She couldn’t help herself as she started to sob, centuries of depravity and suffering and humiliation crashing over her all at once as her precious power, all that was left of her heritage, warmed her hands. When she opened her eyes again, the ball of fire was gone… but her eyes glowed with inner fire for a moment.
She had her soul back again.
More specks of lights came into existence, floating around her like tiny blue stars. Called foxfire by English-speakers, nogitsune magic worked a little differently than kitsune foxfire did. It was an external force… to work their magic on others and their surroundings, they had to keep part of their soul outside their bodies as a conduit to the world. It gave them power… but it came with a cost. It left their soul vulnerable to being destroyed if someone stole it from them. Someone like Mordred.
She sneered, revealing sharp canines of her own. Heat blazed along her fingertips, and she longed to use it to turn that bastard to ashes… but Mordred had defeated her once before and easily. The monster had only grown in power since then, while she had spent centuries forbidden from practice, doing nothing but suffering. She would not be a slave again, so instead of heading downstairs to get herself killed or captured trying to destroy him, she reached into her magic and unleashed it. She closed her eyes, and when the shapeshifter opened them once more Mordred’s eye looked out of her head… the illusion perfect. The door made a beep and then opened.
The vault was filled with smoke from where her fire had burned a way through, but nothing important had burned… just money. A fortune, true, but he had far more. The truly precious things, the seal skins, were all in tightly closed bags to preserve them against the passage of time. Each one was carefully labeled with the names and pictures of the selkie that they were being used to imprison.
Yuki raised one hand, and blue flame kindled to life in her open palm. The bags were sealed but far from fireproof. With one act, she could deprive him nearly all he had built in the last centuries, take away everything that asshole treasured… completely strip away all his control. All she needed to do was light the flame, and his means of blackmailing all his whores would go up in smoke…
And vengeance would be hers.