Ember was nowhere to be seen when Seo-yun stumbled out of the bathroom. Some of the girls had gone to sleep and the rest were gathered in the lounge area. Many of them were watching the television mounted on the wall, where Vin Emmeck’s smiling face was currently plastered. “In a surprise upset that has left the bookies scrambling, fan favorite Storm Hag has gone from most promising challenger to doggy chew toy,” he was saying. “With me now is her owner. What was your reaction to today’s fabulous match, Mr Christos?”
“What do you think?” growled the heavyset Greek standing next to him. “Do you have any idea how many millions, millions, I invested in that sodden twat? And she goes and fucks it all up!” He spat on the ground.
“Yes, you win some, you lose some,” Emmeck said glibly. “But you know, there’s always next year!”
Christos spat again. “Not for her. I already told the bitch: she is done. I tolerated her attitude before because I thought she might actually be worth something, but I have no use for an uppity slave that can’t even perform. She had better hope those filthy mutts really love pounding her green cunt, because once they get bored of her, she is meat.”
“Well, it’s not the outcome anyone expected,” said Emmeck, back to addressing the camera, “but that’s all part of the excitement! Next we’re going to talk to the esteemed Dr. Olivieira, who has been running computational models to try and forecast the winner, and see how today’s data has affected his results.”
“Do we really have to keep listening to this blabbermouth?” complained the raven woman, who sat on one of the couches with her legs splayed. “It’s bad enough getting ear fucked by him while we’re playing.”
“There’s no remote, hon,” said a light skinned woman in a wolf mask. She sat beside the raven, one hand resting on the woman’s knee. “And no buttons on the thing either.”
“Oh, that the only reason we’re all watching this garbage?” the raven asked, standing. She looked around. “Anyone have a problem with me turning it off? No?” Her elbow crunched into the television, and it flickered and sputtered out. She shrugged as she returned to the couch and gave the wolf a quick kiss. It was slightly awkward thanks to their masks, but they seemed to be used to it by now. “Who needs a remote?”
“That was not wise,” said the dragon, who sat crosslegged in a chair. “They wanted us to watch. They will be unhappy that you have defied them.”
“And I’m unhappy being the cocksleeve for an ugly, abusive piece of shit,” replied the raven. “They’ll deal, Delphyne.”
“You wanna trade?” asked the koala masked woman named Crikey. “I keep telling mine about this great new invention called toothpaste, but the poor sod don’t ever believe me.”
“Mine has the same problem with toilet paper,” said the wolf dryly.
“Yours too?” asked another woman. “Mine makes me spend all night with his dick in my mouth, just in case he wakes up and needs to piss. I don’t think he’d even know what to do with a real toilet by now.”
Betty lifted a hand. “Mine made me dress up as a fake catgirl and come here with a tail up my backside, meow.” She shifted around in her chair, trying unsuccessfully to find a comfortable way to sit. “And end every statement with meow… meow.”
It seemed like every woman there had their own horror stories to tell. Seo-yun sat by herself in a chair apart from the others, forgetting her physical discomfort and her mysterious lack of healing for a time as she listened. These women were just like her! She’d already known that, but the full meaning hadn’t impressed itself on her until now. She’d been enslaved for nearly a year, and even before that she’d been on her own for centuries. She had forgotten what it felt like to not be alone. As she listened to everyone there, she found herself feeling a sense of kinship that had been lost to her since the night her parents died.
She wasn’t the only one suffering. Somewhere down the line, long before she had ever met Levinson, she had started unconsciously thinking that she was special, that the world was being cruel to her and her alone, punishing her for all her sins. She’d let herself believe that everything that happened to her did so because she deserved it. But she wasn’t the only one in pain, and none of these women deserved to be treated the way they were and… her head pounded, and for a moment the pain was so great she almost cried out, but the thought pushed through: and neither did she.
Seo-yun took a deep breath. “…mine make me pretend to be an animal,” she said shyly. All conversation in the room stopped as everyone looked at her.
“Well, how about that,” said the koala happily, “you found your tongue after all!”
The dragon reached out and squeezed Seo-yun’s hand. “Good for you,” she said sincerely.
“Yeah!” encouraged the raven woman, pumping her fist in the air. “That’s what I’ve been saying. Up there they get to fuck with us any damn way they like, but down here, for just a little while: fuck! Them!”
“Thank you,” Seo-yun said, scooting her chair in closer. It still felt so strange to be talking again, and somehow exhausting. Being dizzy and sick to her stomach didn’t help. But for all that, it felt wonderful to get to sit like a real person for a while and listen to a conversation, knowing that she was allowed to join in at any time.
“The crude language is unnecessary, Vorona” said Gossamer, the woman in the butterfly mask. She was seated in her chair like it was a throne, her posture perfect and her head held high. “And your ideas unsound. This is a competition.”
“Only because they say it is!” protested the raven. It sounded like an argument they had already been through several times. “There’s no reason we have to fight amongst ourselves!”
“Do you volunteer yourself for elimination tomorrow then?” she asked archly.
“You know what I mean, Goss,” said Vorona, irritated. “I don’t want to get raped by dogs or chipmunks or whatever the hell they got up their sleeves. And Ember was right: four days from now, probably every damn one of us will be miserable except her. But that doesn’t mean we have to turn on each other. Even if we have to compete, we’re all in this together. As far as I’m concerned, it’s us vs them.”
“I am in agreement,” said Delphyne. “I have the desire to win, and I will do all that I can to achieve it, but I will not hate you the way they want me to. You are all my sisters.” Many of the other women nodded.
“It would be… unbecoming of me to harbor resentment toward any of you,” admitted Gossamer. “Your participation in this merits no disrespect.”
“I don’t want to hate any of you either,” said Seo-yun. “I… I want to help you.” She didn’t realize how true the words were until she said them. All she had ever wanted was to help.
The wolf gave a wry laugh. “I appreciate that, hon, but there’s no helping any of us. Certainly not in a place like the Paradisium.”
“There is no need for ‘the’,” said Gossamer, displaying a flash of irritation that threatened to crack her otherwise perfect poise. “Paradisium means ‘paradise’. One does not say ‘the paradise’.”
“Yeah!” said Crikey. “That’s what’s gonna bring those jerks upstairs to their knees: correcting their grammar!” No mask in the world could hide Gossamer’s glare.
“What… what is the Paradisium?” Seo-yun asked.
“Slave trade ground zero!” said Vorona, spreading out her wings. “Number one nonhuman supermarket for every rich evil bastard in the world! Almost everybody gets people like us through the Paradisium.”
“They do business with certain special clients all year around, but they are open to the general public only once each year,” said Delphyne at a much quieter volume. “During what they call the Paradisium Game. You saw all the slaves out on the floor when you came in?” Seo-yun nodded. “Some belong to guests and are just there to be shown off, but most are for sale by the Paradisium. People come here every year to watch the show, enjoy the free samples, and purchase the ones they are fond of. There is nothing they love more than variety, you see. Why keep the same slave for ten years when you can get a new one each year and enjoy ten in that same span of time?”
“It’s also where they throw away slaves, meow,” said Betty, her eyes down.
“The ones with the tattoos?” Seo-yun asked, remembering the tortured slaves she’d seen.
“Exactly,” said Vorona.. “Your master gets pissed with you, bored with you, whatever, and they don’t want to bother looking for a buyer, they hand you over to the Paradisium instead for some cash. You get tattooed, and then you’re open game.”
“Once you’re marked as meat, you’re already dead,” confirmed the koala. “Ain’t nothing left but to find out how it happens! Anyone can do anything they like to ya, even killing.”
“Especially killing,” said Delphyne darkly. “There are many who come here only for those they call meat. Men and women who are not satisfied with merely owning and violating another life.”
“Pigs,” Gossamer agreed. “Disgusting animals.” The butterfly woman gave a little shudder that was perfect in its execution, and Seo-yun couldn’t help staring at the way it made her breasts bounce.
“But how can they just do that?” the fox asked. “I mean, I can’t imagine hiding a place so big, or keeping all this trafficking a secret. How can they openly operate something so barbaric without the whole world finding out?”
“That’s an easy one,” said Moonshine. “Because pretty much all of the rich and powerful are its customers. There’s some that ain’t, but the place has enough friends in high places that trying to expose it or take direct action’d be suicide. You’d have fire and brimstone raining down on your head from a thousand different directions. And besides…” She shrugged. “At the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of nonhumans getting hurt. Most humans don’t even know we exist, and among those that do, there aren’t a lot willing to go up against something as huge as the Paradisium just to save folks like us.”
“That can’t be true,” insisted Seo-yun weakly. “That so many people would support it. Only the truly despicable could feel welcome in a place like this. I know that there are awful people out there, but surely there can’t be that many. ” She’d always believed that most people were inherently good. There were monsters like Levinson around, but they were rare exceptions, not the rule.
“Here’s the thing,” said Crikey. “Let’s say you’ve got some money and prestige, but you’re also a half decent bloke, the sort of guy who’d never dream of doing the kinda shit that goes on around here. But if you snub the Paradisium, act like you’re too good for it, well, you’ll end up a social pariah with no hope of getting ahead in life. Can’t do a whole lot of good works like that. So instead you tolerate it, you know? You look the other way, and it gets easier every time you do. And eventually you start doing more than just looking. Maybe you fuck a cute slave girl once or twice after her owner insists you give her a try. Maybe you rent one for a night just to understand what it’s like. Bit by bit you let this place corrupt you, and before long, the Paradisium has transformed you into a right proper bastard just like the rest of ’em. Then you turn around and give it the wealth and legitimacy it needs to expand its influence even further, become even more indispensable. It’s all one great big circle, ya see?”
“It is through such methods that the Paradisium has risen in prominence with each passing generation,” added Delphyne. “Even without its many allies, it possesses the financial and military resources of a small nation by now.” She shook her head wearily. “So much power, and all of it turned to such horrible practices. It is a blight that turns the world darker every day.”
Seo-yun let herself recede from the conversation again. She didn’t want to believe what they were saying, that something so terrible could thrive in this manner without anyone doing anything about it. But she couldn’t deny their words. She suddenly felt keenly aware of how far they were from the surface, and of the massive weight looming above their heads. It was as though the Paradisium was pressing down on them, slowly crushing them all to death.
While she was brooding, the conversation had shifted to other topics. “The hell do you mean you’re not a slave, Qarinah?” Vorona asked incredulously.
The dark haired woman in the lion mask shrugged lazily. “I volunteered to be here. Is that really so hard to believe?”
“Wha-Yeah! It really is! It’s crazy!” Vorona turned to the wolf. “Tell her that it’s crazy, Moonshine!”
The wolf looked at Qarinah. “Succubus, right?” The lion nodded. “Makes sense to me, hon,” she told Vorona. “They’re kind of the poster child for ‘can’t rape the willing’.”
“Think of it this way,” Qarinah said, leaning forward. “Because I was out there having a nice time with one of the pups today, he wasn’t bothering the rest of you, right? And I have zero interest in winning, so that’s one less contestant you have to worry about.”
Vorona scratched her head. “But… you seriously enjoy being raped?”
Qarinah shook her head. “That’s what I’m trying to say, Vorona, it’s not rape for me. Look, I know none of you want to be here, and I wish you weren’t either. No one cares about consent more than a succubus. But your experience here and mine are very different. It’s like…” She thought for a moment. “Think of this place as a buffet.”
“A penis buffet?” asked the koala with a grin.
“Exactly, Crikey,” agreed the succubus. “A buffet full of thick, juicy slabs of meat. And you are all vegetarians, being force fed this awful meat. But me?” She leaned back and spread her hands. “I’m a hungry carnivore.”
“Well, now I’m hungry,” said Crikey, scratching her stomach. “A little horny too.”
“The man who violates me quite often force feeds me his meat,” said Gossamer quietly. “I have at times imagined what it would be like to make an actual meal of it.”
“I found it gamey and tough, with a gross aftertaste,” said the pink haired woman with wings and an eagle mask. She smiled, showing sharp teeth. “But very satisfying to chew.” There were general noises of acclamation for this.
Moonshine snuggled closer to Vorona, putting her head under the woman’s shoulder and closing her eyes. The raven shifted her arm to help the wolf get comfortable, her fingers stroking the back of the woman’s neck. “And what’s the story with you two lovebirds?” asked Qarinah, smiling fondly at them. “Did you already know each other?”
“Oh sure!” said Vorona, grinning behind her mask. “We’ve known each other for, what, five whole hours now?”
“Mmm hmmm,” Moonshine agreed sleepily, nestling her head closer. “Practically an old married couple.”
“There are two minutes before lights out,” announced the receiver. “All contestants not in bed at lights out will be disqualified.”
“Guess that’s our cue!” said the koala cheerfully. “Time for a good night’s sleep, and then another fun day finding out who gets gang raped!”
The wolf gave Vorona another kiss before she stood up and stretched. “Well, if I end up getting mounted by one of those dogs,” she said, “at least it’ll be the least ugly thing that’s ever fucked me.” She gave her partner a lingering look. “Unless someone plans to do something about that…” Her ass swayed from side to side as she entered the sleeping area, and the raven quickly followed.
Seo-yun was the last to go. She surveyed the now empty room, so full of people just moments ago. How many would be left after tomorrow, she wondered. She remembered Ember’s threat and shivered. Would she even be alive to find out?
“You sure you wanna do this, Vee?” Moonshine whispered. “I was only teasing back there, I wasn’t trying to push or nothing.” Her voice was hesitant, but it wasn’t fear making her entire body quiver at the raven’s touch.
Vorona snuggled closer to the woman she was spooning. “I’m game if you are,” she whispered back, her hands running over the wolf’s contours. It wasn’t her first time making love to another woman, far from it, but it was the first time it wasn’t coerced. It was a brand new experience to be allowed to go at her own pace and follow her instincts without the looming threat of pain, whether as a punishment for poor performance or just an outlet for sadism. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, Moon,” she breathed into her partner’s ear. “But whatever you do want to do…” she nibbled that same ear, and was rewarded by the brunette squirming wonderfully in her arms, “consider me down for it.”
There wasn’t any kind of privacy in the sleeping area. No sheets, blankets, or pillows either, just a bunch of bare cots spread out at equal intervals. But it was also pitch black in the windowless subterranean room, and many of the exhausted contestants had already fallen asleep, filling the place with various levels of snoring. If anyone looked hard or listened closely, they’d have no trouble spying on the two women, but modesty was a luxury that neither of them were familiar with. It was enough that they could forget about the other women all around them and pretend they were in their own little world.
Moonshine cradled one of Vorona’s hands in her own, arresting its movements. “I was raised to never go all the way on a first date,” she said as she pulled it towards her groin, parting her legs slightly to help her gain access. “But I reckon I can make an exception, just this once.” She was already wet and easily accepted Vorona’s fingers. The raven gently pumped them in and out, exploring her partner’s depths.
While her hand got busy, her mouth was exploring Moonshine’s neck, tasting the salt of her skin. The wolf writhed in response, a soft moan escaping from her lips. This in turn made her callused back pleasantly scrub Vorona’s front, and her warm backside press appealingly against the raven’s own sex. The dark haired woman found herself unable to hold still either, and for a time they both made quiet sounds as they enjoyed the intimate embrace.
It was Moonshine who moved first, turning around and pushing Vorona onto her back. The wolf rose to all fours and kissed the woman’s chest and stomach as she shimmied backwards, her lips on a slow, meandering journey towards Vorona’s slit. When they finally reached their destination, the raven found herself gasping, her hands balled up into fists at her sides as warm hungry tingles ran through her. It wasn’t the brunette’s skill that made her react that way; her tongue was clumsy enough that Vorona was certain that this was the first time she’d ever tried to pleasure a woman. But she was passionate and enthusiastic in a way that Vorona had never experienced. She’d had sex nearly every day for the last seven years, usually multiple times, but this was the first time she’d been with someone who was trying to make her feel good. The raven could feel the woman’s eagerness to bring her pleasure, and that was more effective than any mechanical technique.
Vorona came hard with Moonshine’s hands gripping her thighs and tongue lapping her pussy, her own hands buried in the woman’s hair. The orgasm made her shake so badly that she nearly fell off the cot, and she let out a cry that no one still awake could have missed or misinterpreted. When it was over, the wolf raised her head and licked her lips. “You were delicious,” she whispered with a smile, and the words sent a spasm of desire through the winged woman’s body.
Tomorrow was quickly approaching, and Vorona had no guarantee that they’d both still be around when the next night came. Rather, given the kind of life she’d lived until now, it seemed impossible that fate could be so generous. But for now, for this brief time they had together, she refused to waste time worrying about it. She pushed all the dark thoughts out of her head and twisted around on the cot, eager to taste that soft wetness her fingers had touched and begin returning the favor.
“Yesterday, our pretty performers got to do some spelunking,” said Emmeck, “but it’s no more cave crawling for these beautiful babes! Welcome to round two!”
For the first few seconds, Seo-yun thought the elevator had actually taken them outside. She felt the soft, thick grass on her feet as she stepped out, and the warm dirt beneath. In front of them stretched a lush forest, the canopy even denser than home, and it hummed with the sounds and scents of life as the sun shone overhead from a clear blue sky. But everything was just a little too perfect. It didn’t have the natural, beautiful chaos of a real forest, but the sterile order of trees and plants placed in carefully planned spots. She squinted at the sun and saw it was no ball of fire, just a bright spotlight, and when she knelt and reached a hand into the dirt, she felt the solid cement a few inches down. The knowledge that she was still deep underground despite the verdant scenery made her feel even more claustrophobic than the cave system had.
“You gorgeous girls will have a lot of work to do if you want to catch up to Ember,” Emmeck said, “but none of you are down and out yet! Instead of last round’s blue ribbons, hidden deep within our wild jungle, inside ancient temples to long forgotten gods, are red ribbons worth a whopping five points! Find a few of those beauties, and you’ll be on your way to become the new champion of Paradisium! But beeeee careful!” he teased. “Because you’re not alone out there, and with great reward…” His voice became melodramatically low and ominous. “…comes great risk…”
Most of the arena was obscured by the forest around them, but Seo-yun could see enough to tell that it was far larger than even the reception hall had been, at least a mile on each side. The elevator shaft sat at what was presumably the middle of the field, with a large lump attached to its back that had to be the next rest area once the round was over. The shaft was a great black pillar that stretched all the way up to the fake sky, its presence making the falseness of their surroundings even more blatant.
The other women immediately began dispersing in all directions, and this time Seo-yun didn’t lag behind, choosing a direction of her own and setting off as quickly as her legs would take her. “The master and mistress have agreed that I should guide you again today,” said Celeste through the receiver. “They were unhappy about your disobedience, and have spoken of a need to severely correct your behavior upon our return home, but they were also pleased at your unexpected recovery into round two. Should you do well again today, I believe they may come to the conclusion that your actions merit a more limited punishment.”
That was something, but not much. As Seo-yun raced through the undergrowth, she felt the sting of branches and thorns against her bare skin. Normally she would have healed such minor wounds before she even felt them, but without her healing, she could appreciate every ache. It was a harsh reminder of how much she’d always taken her ability for granted, and how unfortunate she was without it. She wondered if she should have taken that naga’s advice after all and stayed in the rest area with her, but it was too late for that now. The elevator doors had already closed behind them, and last night had shown all too well that forcing them open wasn’t an option.
She’d chosen this direction for one reason: it wasn’t the way Ember was going. She had no reason to doubt the woman’s threat, and no hope of surviving it. Even without her loss of healing, her dizziness and discomfort had only increased overnight. Her forehead now burned with a fever, and exhaustion had turned her movement into almost as much a stagger as a sprint. If she was like this now, she’d probably go down before the day was over, with or without a homicidal woman’s help.
“If you remain on your current trajectory, the map shows a building containing a ribbon 46 meters ahead,” Celeste told her. “There is no indication of any guards or dangers. I must therefore advise extreme caution.”
Right. Seo-yun pushed aside her fears about the future. The present was what mattered. And in the present she was alive and feeling more like herself than she had in centuries. She wasn’t going to give that up without a fight.
Gossamer walked through the dense artificial jungle as easily as a paved road, bushes and trees shifting to allow the summer fae passage. Though her eyes saw nothing ahead of her but more foliage, her senses told her that there was a void in the forest just a few meters ahead. A moment later, she confirmed it with her eyes: a small structure camouflaged in forest colors. To anyone else it would have been all but invisible unless they ran into it. For her, there might as well have been a neon sign pointing the way.
It had been more than three centuries since she’d last been in audience at the summer court, but such time was a trifle. She was still of the nobility, only a few steps below Titania herself. Even if the humans did not afford her status the proper respect, it was an immutable truth. That was the one thing she had overlooked centuries ago: the foolish ignorance of mortals. When she had made her bargain with Emrys, agreeing to serve his lineage for seven by seven by seven years, she had done so on the belief that she would be treated with the proper reverence. Emrys had, to be certain. When he’d taken her to his bed, it had never been without her consent, and their lovemaking had been as much an act of worship as anything else. So in turn had his son Taliesin treated her, and his grandson Aiden.
The door to the hidden structure opened easily at her touch, revealing a dark room in which no light shone. Only dark until she stepped in, however. She brought with her the warmth and light of summer, and the interior became as bright as a meadow at midday. The walls were covered in twisting hieroglyphs meant to call to mind cultures long extinct. Gossamer’s eyebrow arched in disdain as the sight of them; she had already been old when those ancient civilizations were born, and she recognized the symbols as meaningless gibberish. But hieroglyphics were not the reason she’d come here. She looked about the room, searching for the ribbon that must surely be within.
As generations passed, Emrys’s descendants’ respect for her had waned. It was his great grandson Aodhan who was first to rape her, after years of her rejecting his courtship. Even he had known that she was special, a being of unrivaled beauty and grace. The first time he took her, he called himself the luckiest of all men, and rejoiced at his fortune. He defiled her for years thereafter, but always he recognized her as his greatest prize. That was eight generations ago.
The room was empty, or so it seemed. She could still sense the shape of the structure, and it did not match the room’s size. There was a space behind the easternmost wall. Her eyes roved over the stone. In darkness, the hidden switches would have been difficult for a mortal to locate, their contours concealed around and within the flowing hieroglyphics. In the light and her perfect vision, it was less than a child’s puzzle. She pressed the switches in turn, and was rewarded by a grinding of stone upon stone. A section of the wall parted at the middle to create an square open window. Behind it was the hidden room, where the ribbon she sought rested on an altar. She felt contempt stir her heart at the sight of it. That the fortunes and lives of so many women depended on such cheap, tawdry things was no accident. By making them fight so seriously over something so pathetic, the Paradisium belittled all of their struggles, made them a farce to be laughed at.
Bryan was Gossamer’s present owner, and he had never even heard of Emrys. In his eyes, she was a simple slave, not a servant, and he neither knew nor cared how she had joined with his family. There was no question of consent or respect for her. He simply took what he wanted, performing every base act that came to his filthy mind, with no appreciation of what an honor it was merely to be in her presence. Pearls before swine. The golden haired fae endured his touch, and his filth, and his disrespect, with the stoicism of eternity. He would rut with her, marring her beautiful skin with his sweaty, dirty hands, trespassing in the sacred spot between her legs with his paltry nubbin of flesh, and she would simply wait until he was done, betraying no reaction whatsoever.
For the first few years, this had infuriated him, and he had profaned her body with whips and fire and even cold iron, seeking to make her scream or beg or cry. She did none of those things, and eventually he had given up and accepted that she would never be more than a still and silent statue while he raped her. But her lack of response did not mean that his insults had been ignored. On the contrary, Gossamer remembered every last one, every unwanted touch and crude word and disgusting violation. She remembered those of his father as well, and grandfather, all the way back to Aodhan. Seven by seven by seven years she had promised Emrys, and not a moment more. If Bryan had ever asked her about the expiration of her agreement, she would have been compelled to tell him, but he had not, so she had not. Humans were pathetically short lived creatures, but he would live long enough to see her contract expire; she would make sure of it. Just one more decade, and it would be time for him to learn why the fae should always be treated with the utmost respect.
But for now, this game. Bryan had entered her in it more as a whim than anything else. He wasn’t even watching. He’d simply wanted her out of the way while he enjoyed the women of the Paradisium. But that was no reason not to try her best. It would be disrespectful to the competition not to, and rude to her hosts. There were many good reasons . But because she was fae, and could not lie even to herself, she knew that most of all, it was because if she did happen to win, perhaps someone would finally look at her with a little respect again.
Gossamer reached through the square window to retrieve the ribbon, but it was just a bit too far away. She leaned in further and further until she was completely bent over, and still her fingers only brushed it. She scrambled up slightly, pushing more of her body through the opening and resting her stomach on the windowsill in an undignified fashion, and at last her fingers closed around the red ribbon. The moment she made contact, stone ground against stone again, and before she could react, the window in the wall closed back up around her. Gossamer found herself pinned by the stone in a roughly horizontal position, her upper body hanging in the hidden room while her legs kicked uselessly in the air behind her.
She heard movement behind and in front. A back door to the hidden room opened, and several small green creatures filed in. The fae woman heaved a mental sigh. Goblins. She should have known this place would employ creatures like them. Filthy, foul minded minions of winter and the Unseelie Court, which existed in eternal opposition to her own kind. She tried again to pull herself free, but she was held fast, so she simply went still, resigning herself to the rape about to happen. Even if she failed to escape, and was condemned to spend the rest of the game in this room, it would only be three days, less than the blink of an eye to a long lived creature like her. She would endure, just as she had already endured her owners for centuries.
One of the goblins hopped up onto the altar and stroked her golden hair. She couldn’t help seeing that it was naked, and while its cock was nowhere near the hideous monstrosities the hounds had yesterday, it was still disproportional to its height, with a length and girth that any mortal male would have been proud of. “Mmmm,” it purred as it ran its filthy hands through her shining hair. “A summer pet. We love summer pets.” If her lack of reaction bothered the creature, it didn’t show it. “Are you an obedient pet already?” it asked. “Hmm? No no no, untamed! Our lucky day, and yours. Get the medicine, and prepare a full dose for the pet. Waste no time teaching the poor thing how to play.”
A pair of goblins each pinched one of the fae’s nipples, and she felt a brief but sharp pain as they stabbed her with syringes, injecting some unknown substance into her breasts. Then someone behind her, no doubt more of the wretched things, began rubbing her clitoris. Gossamer tried without success to kick at him with her legs, and after a few minutes of stimulation a third syringe stabbed her now exposed clitoris. The pain this time was far more intense, as bad as anything Bryan had ever done to her, and the only thing that stopped her from screaming was her dignity as fae nobility. She wouldn’t give these creatures the satisfaction.
It didn’t take long to feel the effects of the injections. Her nipples began to feel raw and swollen, so sensitive that even the the gentle rise and fall of her chest as she breathed brought with it intense sensation. She tried to ignore it, tried to be stoic like before, but she’d always been resisting pain, not pleasure. Bryan and the rest had never shown any interest in pleasing her, only in their own satisfaction and her discomfort. This was new and unfamiliar, and it took everything she had not to cry out. Her breath grew more ragged, which in turn increased the stimulation, and soon she was biting her lip to keep from screaming in ecstasy. She was summer fae. She was nobility. She was perfection made flesh.
A small whimper escaped her shut lips when she felt her clitoris beginning to respond to the final injection. She resisted the building storm of sensation with every ounce of effort left in her. She wasn’t going to cum. She was not going to cum. She… she came, harder than anything Emrys or his kin had ever done to her, harder than anything she’d experienced in her long millennia of life. She thrashed and twisted in the throes of it, and her full lips parted to let out a sweet perfect pitched moan of pleasure. And then she came again, even harder, as her gyrations stimulated her further. And again. And again. And again.
Gossamer had already lost track of how many orgasms she’d had when one of the goblins lightly flicked her right nipple with his finger. It was like a rocket bursting in her brain, and she convulsed in the strongest orgasm yet, screaming out loud. He flicked her nipple several more times, each time garnering the same reaction. Another goblin latched his mouth onto her left nipple, and she thought that she was going to die from the sheer blinding pleasure of it. Her body was already exhausted and worn out from cumming, but it wanted more. It craved more, and she found herself pushing against the goblin’s mouth, encouraging him to suck harder and fill her mind with pure bliss.
When she felt the first whisper of breath against her clit she started begging, not even knowing whether she was begging the goblin responsible to stop or continue. He wasn’t listening anyway. His tongue lapped against her, and in the wave of pleasure that followed she felt something inside of her soul break. She wanted more of this. She needed it. Nothing in the world mattered more than what they were doing to her body right now.
And then they stopped.
Gossamer groaned in frustration. She still felt pleasure from the frantic motions of her body, and an hour ago, this would’ve been more pleasure than she could imagine, but now it was just a pale shadow of what she needed. She moaned, too out of it to use words.
The first goblin, still standing on the altar, stroked her golden, sweat soaked hair again. “I know,” it said. “I know. Good pet. Now we train you.” He produced a bullet vibrator and showed it to her. “Pussy.” He tossed it to one of the others, who taped it onto her left nipple, the pressure of it even when off making her quiver in ecstasy. He showed her another. “Ass.” That one was taped to her right nipple. “Mouth.” The third he tossed behind her, where an unseen goblin taped it against her clitoris.
The goblin grabbed her ears and rubbed his cock against her lips. The wave of bliss she was still riding didn’t stop her from shuddering in revulsion. His phallus was covered in slime, and it stank of sweat and piss and cum and goblin. That last smell was the worst, a sickly sweet stench that almost made her throw up. There was nothing in the world that would make her want a thing like that in her mouth, but she had no choice right now. The goblin tugged her jaw down and slid himself into her.
As he did, he showed her a remote he was holding, and pressed a button on it. The vibrator on her clitoris began buzzing, and it brought an orgasm that dwarfed all the ones that came before it, one that seemed to swallow her entire soul as it ravished her body, and as the vibrator kept going it went on and on and on… until he pulled out of her mouth and turned it off. Gossamer slumped, limp and lifeless in its wake. “More?” he asked, rubbing his dick against her lips again.
The golden haired woman didn’t hesitate. She swallowed him up, and purred happily as the vibrator turned back on. She dimly felt another goblin climb onto her back and straddle her ass, wedging his cock against her anus. Before she could even begin to feel disgust at what he wanted, the vibrator on her right nipple activated and she was lost to a universe of pleasure. She didn’t even feel the third goblin stuff his dick into her pussy, only the last vibrator turning on, the three of them crushing her soul into happy powder.
The one in her ass came first, and Gossamer moaned in frustration as it pulled out of her and turned her vibrator off. She thrust out her ass, demanding more, and squealed in pleasure when a new goblin began to sodomize her and her vibrator returned to life. So it went every time. There seemed to be no shortage of goblin cock, every new vacancy in her body being immediately filled. She welcomed each and every one, bucking against them, encouraging them. They were the source of her pleasure, and nothing else mattered but that pleasure.
“Is this the day you fall, meat?” Master Sindak asked, amusement dripping from the efreet’s words. “The day everyone finds out what you are?”
Ember tried to ignore her owner’s words through the receiver. She’d become very good at ignoring things over the years. Like how much it hurt to burn her hair like this. She’d soaked it in flammable oils before the competition, a homemade version of Greek fire that would ignite from the slightest spark. The heat was trying to cook her scalp and boil her brain inside her skull, her master’s protection the only thing stopping it, but she barely even noticed it anymore. The pain was a necessary part of being Ember, and being Ember was more important than anything else.
“That’s my favorite part of all this, you know,” Master Sindak said. There was a time when she’d thought of him as ‘asshole’ or ‘bastard’ or ‘that motherfucker I’m going to kill one day’, but those days were long past. Even now, far away from him and in the privacy of her own thoughts, she didn’t dare think his name without adding the title. “The an-tici-pation. One mistake, one wrong step, and everyone finds out their beloved phoenix is a tattooed, mutilated piece of human meat!” He laughed. “Last night I made sure I have all your videos prepared. Those beautiful works of art you create for me every morning, where you beg and whimper and degrade yourself. The minute you’re eliminated, I’ll send them allllll out so your fans can finally see what you’re like the other 360 days of the year. And I’ve got a list of people a mile long that I just know will want to hatefuck you to death.” She didn’t doubt him for a minute. He’d been waiting for her to slip up for years now.
Four years ago, she’d first come to the Paradisium under the name Sparrow. At that point, he’d already spent the better part of a year breaking her down, crushing her spirit until she was little more than an empty husk that neither knew nor cared about anything outside of keeping his cock happy. Her entry in the game had been nothing more than a cruel joke of his, a chance to watch the used up slave that he’d grown bored of flail about and be humiliated. He hadn’t even expected her to survive the experience.
But she’d done more than just survive. Being in the Paradisium Game had returned some spark of life to her that even she’d thought was long extinguished, and she’d made it through the first three rounds by the skin of her teeth. There were only three other girls left at that point, and the knives were out. As the only plain human, she’d known that the others saw her as the weakest link and would target her to gain her points for themselves. She’d needed an edge, something to throw them off balance and scare them. And she’d found it in Ember. Her immunity to fire had been the single ace she’d had up her sleeve. She’d been desperate at the time, and set her entire body on fire for the deception. It had been one of the most agonizing experiences of her life, but it had worked. Everyone assumed that she’d been hiding her true phoenix nature to make people underestimate her. The last two rounds had been painful and bloody, but she’d clawed her way to victory in the end.
Master Sindak had not been happy. He didn’t want her getting any ideas about her place in life, so his first act after she won was to mark her as meat. He’d spent the year abusing her harder than ever, telling her repeatedly that the next time the Paradisium opened, the game would be her public execution. She wouldn’t be so lucky a second time, he’d promised.
But it hadn’t been luck. She’d won a second time, and a third, and a fourth. At some point, his attitude about it had changed from resentment to excitement. It had become a sort of game to him. The tattoos, the rings, the videos… all of it was designed to maximize how far she would fall when she lost. Her mask would crumble and she would no longer be Ember, just worthless meat that had managed to fool people for a little while.
Ember could hear everyone else running through the jungle, racing to find ribbons and beat her. They all had handlers guiding them straight to where they needed to go. She had the one person who wanted to see her lose more than anyone. All the others had supernatural strength, or enhanced senses, or even freaking magic powers to give them advantages, while she was just an ordinary human whose head really fucking hurt. By any rational measure, this should be hopeless. But she had two things going for her that everyone else didn’t:
She was the most goddamn stubborn bitch in the world.
And she wasn’t going to lose.
So she ran. The direction didn’t matter. The map didn’t matter. She just had to keep moving, and find a way to make it work.
Ember caught a flash of color between the trees and angled towards it. What she found was an ornate treasure chest sitting on a flat, circular stone embedded in the earth. Surrounding the stone were seven concentric stone circles, each painted a different color of the rainbow, starting with red at the outer layer, and emblazoned with a number in silver: 450, 590, 445, 620, 380, 570, 495. Some kind of puzzle then, where you needed to step on certain rings, or in the right order, to unlock the chest.
She had no idea what the solution was supposed to be and she didn’t care. Ember had seen enough traps in the Paradisium over the years to understand how the people who made them thought. They were designed to make contestants feel clever as they walked right into their jaws. The numbers and the colors on the circles didn’t matter. The point was to convince people that the stones were meant to be stepped on. Every damn one of those rings would be trapped.
She backed up and took a running leap, clearing all seven rings and landing next to the chest. She ignored the lock on the thing. It was probably filled with poison gas or something equally debilitating. Ember flipped the container over instead, and sure enough, there was a red ribbon taped to the underside. One down.
“She’s done it again, folks!” cheered Emmeck. “Ember widens the lead as she becomes the first to pick up a ribbon. Can! Anyone! Stop her?!”
Not if she could help it. She jumped over the rings and took off again in a sprint. She just had to keep moving. Had to keep winning. Whatever it took.
Lamia’s head slapped against the wall at a quick but steady rhythm. The naga, human from the waist up and snake from the waist down, groaned quietly with each blow, her brown hair wet with blood. When this had first begun, she’d been terrified that she was about die. By now, she had far worse fears on her mind.
She’d thought she was being so clever when she hid in the rest area that morning instead of joining everyone else on the elevator. She’d known it meant losing, but she didn’t care about the stupid contest. After watching what had happened to the losers of round one, and hearing Ember’s prediction that each subsequent round would get worse, she’d made the only rational decision available: self-preservation. Losing inside the rest area would mean getting to spend the rest of the game within its relative safety. Her owner wouldn’t be too pleased by her performance – and indeed, when the round started the first thing he did was scream at her for several minutes straight – but he’d never been a particularly creative or bloodthirsty man. No punishment he’d devise for her could be as bad as becoming one of the Game’s victims, and he was far too fond of her pussy to make her meat.
And at first it had worked perfectly. The moment the round began, her mask activated and injected her with the paralysis inducing agent she’d seen the other losers receive. She’d been resting on one of the couches in the main area, which were far softer than the pathetic cots they’d considered beds. When her body stopped responding she’d just relaxed and waited for it to wear off in a few minutes.
Except that it hadn’t. She was being paralyzed, but her snake mask hadn’t crumbled like the others, and was still supplying a regular dose of the agent. She’d realized her mistake after further consideration. Being “out of bounds” had triggered the paralysis, but she was still technically a contestant for round 2. She wouldn’t be officially eliminated until the day was over, and until then, her mask would continue paralyzing her. The thought of spending hours like this was an unpleasant one, but not severely so. It would end eventually and everything would continue as planned.
And then the doors had opened.
It had taken less than five minutes for one of the dogs to sniff out her presence. It had stalked into the rest area, clamped its jaws around her torso, and hauled her right off the couch while she made small gasping noises that were supposed to be screams. She’d begun hyperventilating when she felt its cock started probing her crotch. It had found her pussy easily enough, but the grapefruit-sized head had been too big to fit in. It was the same quirk of her anatomy that had made her a favored target of her owner: like all nagas, her legs extended only a short distance before fusing into a long slender snake tail, leaving her thighs pressed together and her slit tight. It was a common dirty joke among her people to call a man a ‘snake charmer’ in praise of his sexual conquests, because the average naga woman needed to be sopping wet before even an undersized penis could squeeze into her. To make things even worse, the paralysis had not made her muscles relax, it had tightened them, which she was certain was a cruel and deliberate prank from the Paradisium. Even the most patient and gentle snake charmer wouldn’t be able to fit inside Lamia in this state.
The giant dog didn’t know or care about any of that, though. It just wanted inside of her, and it grew increasingly agitated with every moment of failure, until she was scared it might lose its temper completely and kill her. Its powerful, clumsy attempts pushed her body around, sweeping her across the floor to crash into the chairs and couches that people had been talking and laughing in not long ago. And then the beast had either figured out a solution or simply gotten lucky. It had pushed her up against one of the walls head first, trapping her between the wall and its cock with no escape.
Its frenzied thrusts had made its intentions clear. It would either force its way into her, or smash her body to pieces trying. She was increasingly less certain that she’d been better off with the first option. Something in her pelvis had snapped, and on the dog’s next thrust its massive head had forced her pussy to stretch unnaturally wide. Her paralysis spared her the sight when it finally wedged itself into her body, but none of the sensation. She’d screamed and screamed in those little gasps as its cock had steadily demolished her tight insides to gain access.
Even with all its enthusiasm, it had taken nearly half an hour for the beast’s hammering thrusts to reach her cervix. Another ten minutes after that and she was howling silently as her swollen womb was stuffed with its cock head. She’d been in unimaginable amounts of pain, and convinced that things couldn’t possibly get worse. She’d been wrong. Forcing her against the wall had helped the dog get inside her, but it did nothing to help it get back out. Her narrow canal was stretched as taut as a rubber band around it, clamped so tightly that it had to be almost as painful for the creature as it was pleasant. Her pussy, she’d realized with a jolt of nausea, had been transformed into little more than a condom, and a too small one at that.
That had been more than an hour ago, and the beast still hadn’t given up. Crouched over her tail, the monster dog kept furiously trying to fuck her, its trapped cock causing it to push her body back and forth across the floor instead of pumping in and out, smacking her against the wall over and over in failed attempts to dislodge itself. It had made progress over time, but not in a way that either of them wanted. Nagas were a sturdy, resilient people. “We bend, but never break,” her mother often used to say. It was her insides that had bent this time. When the dog had first penetrated her womb, more than a third of its cock was still outside of her. Now its hairy balls rubbed against her pussy lips. Even the knot at the base of its cock had been forced into her by its persistence. Her entire pussy had molded itself around its shaft, and she doubted it would ever fully recover.
It wasn’t just her current hell that made her miserable. Her entire life, awful as it was, had now been thrown into jeopardy. When her owner discovered that his favorite hole had been ruined, he was going to want to cut his losses and make her meat. Her only chance to avoid that would be to convince him she was worth keeping around. The days of laying back and trying to think of home, letting her natural tightness justify keeping her around despite her lack of enthusiasm, were over. She’d already decided that when she saw her owner again, the very first thing she needed to do was crawl to him and suck his cock without asking. If she could impress him with her eagerness and skill, make it clear that she was willing to do anything to make up for her loss, then maybe, just maybe, she wouldn’t get tortured to death.
Her head continued slapping against the wall. Lamia was feeling more than a little woozy from the near concussions, and it took her a moment to realize more dogs had entered. Their tongues lolled out at the sight of her, and even though they were just animals, she could feel their amusement at their packmate’s plight. It growled back at them, not sharing in their merriment.
One of the newcomers’ teeth closed around her neck, and Lamia braced herself for the end, but they didn’t break the skin. The hold was still extremely painful though, its jaw muscles strong enough to close off her airway. A slower death than having her throat ripped out, but just as certain. Delirious by now and half convinced that this was all just some horrible nightmare, she didn’t grasp the purpose of the bite until another set of jaws closed around her tail in the same fashion. Holding her still.
Lamia’s entire body convulsed as the dog pulled back, ripping its cock free from her pussy’s deathgrip. For just a moment she felt empty, like she’d been hollowed out, and then it slammed back into her. Its balls slapped against her as it buried itself in her completely, and then it was back out, and back in, and back out again. The beast reared its head back and let out a roar of triumph as it finally managed to pound the naga like it had wanted all this time. Lamia could only twitch in place and choke, not even allowed oxygen as her once tight slit was transformed into a gaping fucktunnel.
When she passed out, its thick cum had just begun blasting off inside her. She had no idea how long she was out, but its load was still pouring into her when she woke, the jaws around her throat loosening just enough to allow her a trickle of air. She sucked it in gratefully, but wasn’t surprised when the grip tightened once more after just a few seconds. She would only breathe when they wanted her to breathe.
She passed out once more before its thick knot popped out of her like a cork from a champagne bottle. Lamia could feel its seed sloshing around inside of her. She’d seen some of the dogs’ other victims, both in person and on the television before the raven woman had smashed it. She’d witnessed the massive amounts of cum the creatures produced, enough that a single load would quickly overflow from the women and drench them in it. But not for her. Every last drop of it remained inside of her; she was so stretched that there was room for all of it. That more than anything else made it hit home just how thoroughly she’d been raped, and the naga whimpered. She’d never felt more violated, and she knew she would never be the same again.
Then the next dog took a turn.
Seo-yun thumped her fist against the wall in frustration. What was she supposed to be doing here?
The temple Celeste had led her to had turned out to be a disappointment. It was about five meters on each side and covered with swirls of paint and strange carvings, but she’d walked around the entire thing four different times without seeing anything that resembled an entrance. It was tempting to just give up and go looking for another ribbon, but for all she knew, the next one would be no easier to retrieve. This was a puzzle, and puzzles were made to be solved. She just had to figure out how, and fast.
She nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard rustling just a few feet behind her. How did something get that close to her without her smelling it?! She whirled to see who or what it was, and groaned inwardly. It wasn’t the person she least wanted to see right now, but it was the runner up.
“Get lost, freak,” snapped Snowflake as she approached the building. The selkie in the otter mask pointed to the side. “Go bark somewhere else.” A red ribbon already dangled from her arm.
Seo-yun shrank at the woman’s harsh tone. She was angry, and anger always meant punishment. Seo-yun had somehow managed to stand up to Ember last night, but she felt none of that same strength right now, just raw terror and the urge to fall to her knees. She began to step back, putting distance between the two of them, and her shoulders bumped into the wall behind her. She twisted her head, looking from side to side for a different escape route. Perhaps if she fled fast enough, the selkie wouldn’t hurt her too badly. It was no use hoping that the woman wouldn’t hurt her at all. That never happened. Before she ran away, should she crawl over and kiss the woman’s feet to apologize for her disrespect? Or would her failure to immediately obey only anger Snowflake more? Her legs trembled, unsure of the right action to minimize the selkie’s wrath.
No. She didn’t have to be that person here, she reminded herself. Snowflake wasn’t her owner, she was just a bully. Despite that mental reassurance, forcing herself to stand still in front of the selkie, neither kneeling nor fleeing, was one of the hardest things she’d ever done.
Snowflake’s steps towards her became slow and deliberate, her body language radiating fury. “You deaf too, freak? Somebody chop your ears off while they did your tails?” Seo-yun felt a flash of remembered pain, and unconsciously raised a hand to her left ear. Levinson had indeed chopped one of her ears off, though he’d put it back in time to heal. The callous way he’d cut a piece of her off as an experiment had made her even more terrified of the man than she’d thought possible.
In a way, remembering the cruel torturer made the fox feel a little better. Snowflake had been nothing but hostile to her, but her behavior was nothing compared to that psychopath. Why did she have to be afraid of this otter brat? “No,” she said, quiet but resolute.
Snowflake laughed, the sound as ugly as the last time Seo-yun had heard it. “So the freak learned how to talk overnight. Nice trick. You already know how to beg too?” Her eyes glinted within her mask. “Or do I have to teach you that one?”
The otter was almost in arms reach now, and she looked ready for violence. Seo-yun knew that selkies were associated with water, but she didn’t know anything about their other capabilities. What she did know was that she was in no condition to fight anyone, supernatural abilities or not. She stepped to the side, maintaining distance from the woman while keeping her back to the wall, and swallowed. “I am… not a freak.”
“Yeah? Well what do you think you are then?” asked the blue eyed otter. She matched Seo-yun’s pace, walking with the casual confidence of a hunter who’d already cornered her prey, and could now take her time with it. Both women knew that the selkie could easily close the distance between them whenever she chose. “Because you sure as hell aren’t a fox.”
Something in the wall shifted as Seo-yun’s sliding shoulders pressed against it, and the two women froze as a a large section of the wall between them retracted into the ground. For a moment they just stared at the revealed entrance, and then Snowflake broke the spell first by dashing inside. Seo-yun followed a half-second behind her, cursing her slow reaction.
“I do not advise this course of action,” warned Celeste, but Seo-yun ignored her as she sprinted forward. The building’s single room was filled with dust and almost entirely empty. It had a floor made of two large stone tiles placed side to side, a thin crack between them, and in the center of the room, a red ribbon dangled at the end of a rope. Both women ran towards it, but Snowflake had the lead and more energy. Seo-yun reached a hand out toward the ribbon, already knowing it was too late. Just another failure for the useless ex-gumiho.
Seo-yun’s hand didn’t reach the ribbon, but it did come into contact with something else and she instinctively grabbed hold. She couldn’t see anything there, but she could feel it, soft and warm and furry. It felt familiar, and even though it was invisible, she knew immediately what it was. How could she ever fail to recognize a fox tail?
“Let go of me, freak!” hissed Snowflake as she ripped the ribbon from off the rope. Something up above shifted as the rope was pulled down, and then there was a rumbling from beneath them and the crack between the two floor tiles began quickly widening. The trap door swung open, and both foxes plummeted.