A birthday present for Darinost, by Mallory
I was only involved in the editing and planning phases of this, she wrote it… all credit to her. You can let her know how you like it in the comments or on our discord here.
“Heal! Heal! Heal!” Thalia Keldan cried out over and over again. Every time the half-elf intoned that spell a flash of purest light blossomed from her outstretched hands, the heavenly glow channeling through her words and belief to pour divine healing power into what was clearly a corpse.
“Please! Heal! HEAL! Greater Heal! Just move!” She continued to wail through tears, half sobbing as she wasted all of her spell charges on the obviously fruitless venture. Grass and weeds from the field beneath all grew up and curled around the cooling body from the excess of life energy being dumped into the area, but the arrow-ridden and one-armed corpse stayed stubbornly still.
“Alphonse PLEASE! Heal! Just speak to me!” The woman was one of the few still left on this side of the battlefield. At least of those still alive. Countless bodies of knights and mages and even other clerics littered the plains as nothing more than a feast for the cawing carrion-eaters. Far more of the fallen bore the crest of Ezolino, God of Agriculture than those with the mark of Sanyang, Goddess of the Hunt.
A large part of the reason for that overwhelming victory, or crushing defeat, strolled over the bodies and gore as naturally as a panther through their forest.
Anaphiel looked positively radiant in her beauty, like the light of the sun seemed to follow everywhere she stepped. Or maybe she was the source of the gentle glow herself. Fiery red hair poured from her head, only briefly splitting around her sharply pointed ears before tumbling over her shoulders. Even in the stale, rotten air of the battlefield it still seemed to flow like water in a breeze that no one else could feel, trailing down all the way to the impossibly pure, white feathered wings sprouting majestically from her muscled back.
Those feathered appendages required special armor to be forged just to fit her, and it was hardly the only special equipment the angelic warrior needed to operate. An adamantine sword was necessary to keep up with the power of her swings, and nothing but craftsman-worthy javelins were able to accommodate the range at which she could throw them. She even demanded that her symbol, the stag’s horn, be inlaid into the back of her armor, so all her troops could see who was leading them to victory.
But when she delivered scenes of death and destruction on the scale of this bloodied plain, who would deny her anything she needed?
“Heal! Alphonse please, be healed!” The light from Thalia’s hands seemed to dim as the angel stalked towards her, the mere presence of divinity as strong as Sanyang’s greatest messenger causing Ezolino’s powers to retreat in comparison.
The cleric didn’t even look up, too focused on her cut-down lover and the grass now engulfing him to care that the Archangel of the Panther Goddess herself was approaching. It was only when the shadow of the Prophet’s powerful frame obscured the sun from pouring onto her that she finally took notice.
“Please, he’s not well! He needs help! I can’t heal him but—” Whatever she was about to say was cut off by a swift slice of the angel’s improbably still-spotless blade. In one motion the cleric’s head was emancipated from her body, falling to the ground with a dull thud before being joined a moment later by her body slumping over to join her lover. Red blood poured from her and mixed into the river of it already flowing down towards the low points of this former farmland.
No crops would be grown here this year.
The High Priest following the angel winced as he watched. These skirmishes between the worshippers of the two gods were never pretty, but attacking healers like that was always frowned upon. And to do so after the battle was already clearly over and won? He could only hope they never had a chance to enact revenge for it.
But with her at their side they wouldn’t have to worry. Anaphiel had led them to victory after victory without fail, even if he didn’t always like how they came.
Suddenly her pure voice split through the sound of cawing ravens and feasting vultures. “The stragglers are likely to regroup at the base of the river valley. They would be difficult to attack in that fortified position, but avalanches are likely this time of year with the spring thaw. I want them all buried before I’m next summoned.”
The high priest blinked heavily, not sure if he had heard her right. Anaphiel had called for some brutal attacks before, but they had all been just that. Attacks. Never before had she asked for them to strike at a retreating enemy licking their wounds, and never to do anything but engage them in honorable combat. This was…wrong.
“Am I understood?” She prodded more pointedly, forcing the high priest out of his worried reverie.
“Y-y-yes your holiness. But is this…is it what Sanyang would want? The spirit of the hunt includes respecting your prey and—” He never got a chance to finish his plea for mercy towards his enemy.
“I ASKED if I was understood.” Her voice was more solid than the walls of Caldrel, not allowing even the slightest room for doubt.
“You are understood, your holiness.” Answered the high priest in a tone significantly quieter than both her booming voice and his previous statement.
“Good. Then I will let your disloyalty slide this once. If you ever think you know more about Sanyang’s wishes than her first lieutenant in the future, then I would suggest you reassess your confidence. Heavens knows you wouldn’t want to run out of your luck, or my patience.” The only thing left uncertain by now was which were sharper, her words or her weapons.
“Of course, thank you, your holiness. You will not see them on the battlefield again.” He said with a bow. He was a bit unsure of how that would happen, but he knew it to be true.
“I would expect nothing less. May the stars guide your hunt, High Priest Longarrow.” Even with her beautiful voice the traditional goodbye sounded terse, and its message not truly meant.
“And yours as well, Prophet Anaphiel.” There was no angelic bent to hide his disdain. Luckily for him, the approval of one mortal was not of great concern to her. In a flash of blinding heavenly light the angel dematerialized from this plane, leaving behind nothing but a pleasant scent of the forest briefly piercing the stinging coppery tinge of blood in the air, and a hole in the priest’s vision as his eyes adjusted.
He couldn’t see a thing at first, but as his sense of sight returned he almost wished it wouldn’t have. That young cleric’s face and still-open eyes stared back at him, frozen in an expression of grief and disbelief that he knew all too well.
The job of the High Priest was never supposed to be easy of course, but he wished it didn’t have to be THIS difficult. To pursue their enemies after they had already won, run them out like wild animals and slaughter them without so much as a chance to fight back? It was wrong. This wasn’t hunting, it was killing.
But what could he do? Anaphiel may not technically outrank him, but she was right that she was closer to the Goddess. In terms of experience and lifespan she also massively outpaced him. Perhaps he should just trust her judgement and do as she said. Unless there was some other option.
He wished he didn’t have to do this.
But he knew he did.
The next time that same flash of heavenly light pierced the eyes of mortals it was even more harsh. The huge stained-glass windows let a lot of colored light into The Cathedral of The Huntress, but it was nothing compared to the pure radiance of Anaphiel manifesting herself. It was made even brighter this time by the fact that she wasn’t armored, but instead wearing the traditional garb of Sanyang’s hunters.
The short, olive green tunic didn’t quite make it down to her knees, while the color provided a nice contrast against her lightly tanned skin, that blazing red hair, and the snow-white of her wings. A hunting bow was hung on her back, a long piece of finely hewn yew connected by hemp string, designed for accuracy and range over speed and maneuverability. She still displayed her symbol too, a stag’s horn perched on her left shoulder like a naturally formed pauldron.
It was hard for the gathered mortals not to stare at her in total awe once their sight returned, though for two of them that awe was caused as much by fear as it was by astonishment. Anaphiel herself didn’t share any of those emotions. Overwhelmingly she just seemed bored, completely over whatever function would require her to be in a church rather than on the battlefield.
Her apathy quickly gained a solid strain of annoyance when she saw the two mortals who seemed scared of her though. The angel flapped her wings, ostensibly just to fold them down against herself and out of the way, though those who had known her for any length of time knew that was an expression of annoyance from the angel.
Whatever the true reason, it kicked up a cloud of dust from all of the hard-to-reach places in the grand building, the rush of air showcasing the sheer power that the Archangel of the Huntress held. “High Priest Longarrow.” She began curtly, stepping down from the dais they had summoned her onto. “I trust that you have sufficient reason for calling upon me. I see that we have two guests from the Church of Ezolino, are these farmers here to discuss terms of surrender?”
‘Farmer’ wasn’t inherently an insult, but the way that Anaphiel said it made it seem like the word must be dirtier than the manure they spread on their fields. Longarrow was still unsure about this entire affair, so he took a moment before he was prepared to answer. Clearing his throat, he spoke with as much conviction as he could, “Prophet Anaphiel. It’s…something like that. They are here to discuss terms of peace, that is correct.”
Anaphiel narrowed her piercing green eyes at him until her gaze was sharper than even her long ears, giving him a look that would send chills down anyone’s spine. Especially anyone who had seen her fight. “Terms of surrender and terms of peace are not necessarily one and the same. Which are they here for?”
The High Priest shuffled about on his feet slightly, the withering gaze of the archangel warrior making him feel far smaller than he should. “Terms of peace. We hav—”
“After we routed their forces and buried their survivors under an avalanche? I think not, unless they had reserves that could challenge us. Did they have reserves that came after us?”
“N-n-no Prophet, they were routed but we—”
I thought not. If that had been the case then they would have to have evaded even my scouting, and ones so disconnected from nature would never be capable of that. You didn’t fall into a trap in pursuing them, did you?”
“I-er, no Prophet. We actually—” the High Priest seemed a bit flustered, but Anaphiel either took no note, or just didn’t care, continuing on.
“Good, I always thought you to be at least competent enough for that. Better than your predecessor at least. But you still have not made it clear why we are negotiating with them instead of just demanding what we want. Why I say that we should—”
“You are no longer in a position to speak for this church!” Longarrow shouted, raising his voice to the limit and still only barely outcompeting the angel. She did pause at this remark, seeming genuinely surprised both at his boldness and the content of his words. Anaphiel had no qualms about cutting off the mortal, but it was far more unusual for him to do it to her, and it took about all of the courage he had inside of him to dare interrupt her. He knew if they had done a single thing wrong he was dead, but he had double, triple, quadruple checked it all down to the letter. And he had the mark of the arrow on him, so the blessing of their goddess was with him.
After a brief but terse pause the High Priest cleared his throat and continued. “Prophet Anaphiel, Archangel of Death in service of Sanyang the Huntress. In light of your plainly abhorrent actions on the battlefield and your continued insistence upon tactics that the Goddess herself frowns upon, you are being hereby stripped of your position and divinity within this church.”
His words echoed throughout the perfect acoustics of the grand hall, the only sound anyone dared make. For a long moment things stayed as still, as if they were all frozen in time. Tension stopped the mortals, while disbelief held the angel in place. Finally she shattered the moment with an enraged curse. “You pathetic mortal. You think that you could POSSIBLY do this to me? To ME?” She reached for the bow on her back, pulling it into her left hand in one smooth motion while her right went for her quiver…
And found nothing there. Shocked, the angel looked down only to see that it was as empty as it felt. The relief the High Priest felt from that alone was incredible, and gave him the confidence to continue. “In addition, as a sign of repentance and peace, your body is being handed over to High Priest Gorka Steadyplow and High Priestess Ortensia Sharpscythe of the Church of Ezolino, to do with as they please. With this gesture of friendship we hope to break the cycle of violence that has—”
An inarticulate scream of heavenly rage interrupted him, Anaphiel tossing her fine bow aside and grabbing her hunting knife in its place. The tool was made for utility instead of combat, but considering she planned to gut him like a pig that seemed appropriate. A flap of her powerful wings propelled her forward faster than it seemed like anything should be able to move.
Yet still far slower than she should have been.
“Jeongji!” High Priest Longarrow shouted, the spell taking effect instantly. The angel froze suddenly mid-step, the force of her own former goddess’ power arresting her so suddenly it knocked the wind from her lungs and the knife from her hand.
That shouldn’t be possible! Granted, as the highest mortal member of the church he technically outranked her, but her power dwarfed his. The command he had over her was but a trifling formality, a mere mechanism by which he decided when she would be summoned to battle. By all means she should have been able to shatter his pathetic spell with a fraction of her power!
Yet here she stayed, unable to grab her knife or move a muscle or even fall over. Cautiously the other mortals took a step forward, approaching her like one might approach an explosive whose fuse had failed to take. They had seen her blast through stone walls like they were made of paper, had watched her cut swathes through armored troops like wildfire through a forest.
To see her unable to even speak, her only movement being an expression that twisted with rage, growing crueler and angrier by the second, it was a revelation.
“I can’t hold her forever.” Longarrow said, his voice causing the other Priests to jump in surprise. “But every second she’s in this realm a bit more of her power leaves her. Supposedly 10 minutes is about all the longer it usually takes, and she was blathering for quite a while. But she was powerful, so I’d guess half an hour to be safe.”
“And she’ll be weak then?” Gorka Steadyplow asked. Normally someone in his position wouldn’t trust anything someone from the Church of the Huntress said further than they could through them, but this case was special. Longarrow had come to them himself. Alone, unarmed, and bearing the body of one of their own clerics so they could give her proper burial rites. He had told them about a heinous plan, and how he couldn’t go through with it. He had begged them for peace and forgiveness. It was an unprecedented move in their long history, AND he had offered something they couldn’t refuse.
Something suspended in front of him right now. The large, light-skinned man was the first from either church to dare to take a second step towards her, now just out of arm’s reach from the divinity currently arrested mid-lunge. The combination of her absolutely resplendent features and being totally frozen made her almost seem like a sculpture. A true work of art, something crafted by an impossibly skilled artisan. The only thing that gave away that wasn’t the case were her eyes darting around the room, planning which one of them she’d kill first when she was free.
High Priest Steadyplow on the other hand was a vision of rough-hewn utilitarianism. He was sturdily built, tall and strong. In the winter his skin was light and his hair was dark, but come every spring he spent as much time in the fields as he did at the pulpit, so the sun worked to reverse that. It had also aged his skin a bit more than the rest of his features would have otherwise suggested, giving him a clear appearance of someone who had worked hard in life. His voice was firm and bassy too, perfect for filling a cathedral with his preachings.
“Relatively. Without the goddess behind her she won’t be like…well like a Prophet. But she’s still a trained warrior with a few centuries of experience, and wings strong enough to lift herself and her armor with ease. Don’t take her lightly or you’ll find yourself regretting it.”
“Understood,” came the gruff voice of her former enemy and current owner in acknowledgement. He took another step forward, pulling a belt of thick, well-worn leather free from his pants. “Hold her just another moment.” Steadyplow instructed as he brushed the red locks aside around her ear and away from her shoulder, his fingers gently tracing over her skin.
To him she felt as soft and smooth as the finest silks, her body impossibly supple to the touch. To her, his calloused hands scraped at her far more harshly than the delicate touch should have. She had endured a thousand years of battle, but this was her first time being without Sanyang’s protection. Her first time really feeling things as mortals did. She couldn’t help but feel that this wasn’t right. Were mortals really this sensitive?
Instinctively Anaphiel tried to reinforce herself through magical means, using the immaterial to form a bulwark against the physical. She had done it hundreds of times before, usually as a final line of defense that had caught many would-be assassins by surprise. But the power that she usually had, that her Goddess usually provided, just wasn’t there. Access to that well of immense strength had allowed her to channel incredible holy fury countless times, to become the incarnation of Sanyang’s power in the physical plane.
But now it was gone. More specifically, it had locked her out. Closed a door she hadn’t known could close in her face. Rejected her utterly.
It felt like she had lost a limb. The Angel physically flinched at how lost she felt without it. And Steadyplow wasn’t planning on giving her time to mourn.
Fingers were the first thing she felt. The second would be that sturdy belt wrapping around her neck. Rubbed smooth by years and years of use, to her it still felt rough as sandpaper as it was put in place. Pulled snug, but not quite tight around her. Not latched into place either, leaving it easy enough to loosen. Or to pull taut.
The High Priest of the church she hated so much widened his stance, getting ready for what was about to come. She was a respectable 5’8″, but he was some 6’4″ and much more burly to match. There was no doubt she could have run and fought circles around him, but he was built like an ox. Perfect for what was to come next. “Let her go.”
Longarrow swallowed, still nervous. Consciously he knew that she wasn’t going to be the force of vengeance and rage that he had unleashed before. But she was still…her. Steeling himself he took a breath. He could do this. They could do this. “Gada.”
The holding spell released the moment he uttered the last syllable of that incantation, and suddenly she was moving again. None of her previous momentum had dissipated while she was being held, the supernatural speed resuming for a tiny fraction of a second as if nothing had happened. Then she met the end of that belt.
It yanked tight under the speed of her own movement, with only Steadyplow’s strong body and firm stance keeping him from being dragged along with her. But for all the angel could do, she couldn’t beat physics. Her legs came out from underneath her, her whole body swinging around her neck as her breathing was cut off suddenly and harshly. Had she been any more fragile the shock might have snapped her neck, but instead she was just yanked to a harsh stop, suspended dangling in the air. Not by magic this time, but by the counteracting forces of her own momentum against the Priest’s inertia.
And then she was brought down.
Steadyplow yanked her to the ground, the tight collar around her neck and his strong arms accelerating her towards the ground even faster than gravity alone would have been able to. Anaphiel slammed into the cold stone tiles hard, her soft wings splaying out beneath her body at a painful angle.
She would have cried out at the harsh impact or gasped as the wind was knocked from her, but any noise the angel could have tried to make was thoroughly choked out by the belt around her neck. This was a flood of new sensations for her, and she hated all of them. Her lungs cried out for a breath she couldn’t take, her entire body ached worse than even arduous battle made it before, and her wing felt like it might be broken! It was all wrong too, she knew that she didn’t need air, knew her wings were stronger than that and knew her body was too sturdy to be damaged by such mortal efforts!
Again though, for all that she knew to be true, none of it was helping her now. The fingers and belt wrapping around her earlier had felt supernaturally rough and harsh, but now she realized just how much of the mortal spectrum of experiences she had really been missing out on. In battles with other powerful beings she had been tossed through castle walls with only minor inconvenience, but now even one mere attack had her writhing in pain. Maybe the worst of all though was her struggle to breathe.
When in the good graces of her former patron goddess, Anaphiel had possessed no need for breathing. Now that the blessing was revoked though, it felt like the most important thing in the world. Her lungs burned, her body felt weak, her mind could think of nothing but to get that air into her body. Even with the other pains of her wing and her ribs, the overriding force in her mind was a desperate cry for the relief of even ONE breath! When she squirmed it was for that purpose, and when her fingers reached to futilely scratch at the thick leather they possessed none of the strength or skill they should have.
The beautiful angel already looked like a fraction of her former self. Her mouth was open wide in obscene, fevered attempts to take in any amount of air, none of which got her so much as a speck of oxygen. Stars flitted around her field of vision as she lay there, the grandiose paintings on the ceiling fading into the background until the bearded face of Steadyplow moved directly in front of her to obscure them completely.
A spark of rage briefly popped into existence. This was the bastard commander she had already defeated! He should be groveling at her feet, not holding her down by this blasted length of old animal skin!
That spark would have taken into a flame of vengeance, but no fire can burn without oxygen. The brief look of rage that crossed her face quickly gave way to a more generally distressed expression, a need for self-preservation outweighing a want for violence for possibly the first time in her long life.
The High Priest just watched. His dull brown eyes bored into her as he held the belt tight, waiting. A single breath now might still make her stronger than him, but her power was going to fade quickly. His wasn’t going anywhere.
A cruel smile twisted his face, the sheer perfection of this moment hard to match. For years this angelic bitch had hunted down his forces, pushed back his territory, made his life hard in any way she could. And now she was wrapped up in his belt, unable to do so much as beg.
The corners of her lips started turning blue before he realized there was an actual risk of going too far. The fact that she wasn’t invincible seemed as foreign to him as it had been to her, but he had other uses planned for her. Wasting her now would be a tragedy.
“Ortensia. Grab her wings and pin them down with your knees.” The High Priestess took a moment to process his words. The entire scene seemed like it shouldn’t be possible. A mortal against a prophet only ended one way, yet what they saw in front of their eyes defied all logic.
It only lasted a moment though. She hadn’t gotten to be the High Priestess by being disobedient. “Yes Sir!” Came her melodic voice in response as she ran forward to kneel down on the feathered appendages, pressing her weight onto those hollow bones with her hips perched just over the top of Anaphiel’s head. The angel’s sharp ears tickled the inside of her pale thighs and that antler on her shoulder was scratchy if she got too close, but Ortensia didn’t budge.
High Priestess Sharpscythe wasn’t anywhere near as big as her companion, or indeed even as tall as the Prophet, but she did also bear the makings of a life spent working. Her skin was a shade darker than the Angel’s and not as sun-distressed, though it was her hands that truly showed how she labored. Her thumb was flattened from work milling, and countless tiny scratches and scars marked every other finger and surface of those digits. Her sheer black hair was kept tied tightly in a way that would keep it out of machinery, and her eyes were understated pools of grey that saw more than they let on.
Normally Anaphiel would have been able to easily throw her off, but normally those feathered appendages weren’t only as strong as the muscles connected to them. Muscles that were disadvantaged by being stuck against the ground and as starved for air as the rest of her, not to mention the pain whenever she tried to move them!
“You’ve got her?” The Priest’s deep voice was strong from years of preaching, but even it was starting to fade away for the angel. Anaphiel’s lips were nearly completely blue, and her fingers barely had the strength to even scratch against the old leather belt anymore no matter how desperate she was.
Her only hope was the gentle voice of the High Priestess. The angel would have killed her the last time she was summoned if there had been half a chance to do so, but now that same mortal held the keys to her life. “Yes, I’ve got her.” Ortensia answered, and in spite of herself Anaphiel wished she could beg.
She would have begged. In this moment with her body so desperate and her so close to an edge she had never had to contend with before, there was none of the warrior she normally was left inside her. Ortensia, Steadyplow, Longarrow, none of them had ever even considered the warrior would have begged for ANYTHING. Likely because she wouldn’t have. Fully powered, fully blessed, nothing could have pressed at her will this strongly. But right now, weakened and experiencing a true fear of death for the first time, if she could have the angel would have begged. She would have done it so ravenously that it would seem like she had been born for it, made even Thalia’s cries seem flat.
A fraction of a moment passed with Anaphiel pleading in her mind before Steadyplow released some of the pressure on the belt. Not all of it, but just enough for Anaphiel to take a deep, rasping gasp of air. She had always hated the dusty insides of these mortal churches, but right now it felt like the best breath she had ever taken. Her mind still spun, her lungs still burned, but she was alive, and that was all that mattered.
If she was alive she could fight.
“Get OFF of me you stupid, insolent—” Her angry words were cut off again by Gorka yanking the belt back to full tightness, forcing Anaphiel to realize that she hadn’t even fully filled her lungs yet. Instantly the rekindled fire in her eyes gave way to the same pleading look, the Angel wishing she had gotten a finger or two under the edge of the tight belt when she had the chance. Or at least been a little less disrespectful. Now it was already too late and she was back under the control of these damned mortals!
“Ezo above she doesn’t let up does she?” Ortensia sighed, adjusting herself so her knees pressed even more harshly into the angel’s wings. Anaphiel let out a squeak of pain at that, one of the only sounds she could make through the Priest’s leather restraint.
Gorka chuckled at that pain response, grabbing one of the Angel’s hands and pulling it away from her neck. No getting out that easily. “She’s used to being the biggest, baddest bitch around. It’ll take time for her to adjust. But, much as I wish otherwise, the Church of Ezolino the Farmer would like to extend an offer of mercy.”
Anaphiel’s eyes widened slightly. Mercy? From them? She didn’t want it, she didn’t need it! To accept would be to admit she was defeated, that she needed them. Even in her air-starved state she still glared back, making her answer obvious before the question could even be asked.
“In spite of your actions, we will allow you to live comfortably in our care. IF you will submit. All you have to do is nod, and you’ll avoid a far worse fate.”
What was on Anaphiel’s mind wasn’t so much that they were offering an out. It was what they were considering better. ‘Comfort’ didn’t seem like much, but once it was gone it was sorely missed. Like air.
Anaphiel vehemently shook her head. She couldn’t move much when restrained like this, but every inch of freedom she did have was used to deny that offer. She didn’t need them. When she got out she WOULD kill them, and if she accepted any kindness it would just make that harder.
Gorka wasn’t surprised at her answer in the slightest. Anaphiel had never been the type to take that sort of offer, but he still did have to offer. It was only right. That said, he had a distinct feeling he would be glad at her rash decision.
“Fine then. It’s time to show you the other way that one can be a bitch.”
Even in her oxygen-deprived haze Anaphiel picked up on that statement. Her eyes widened and her ears twitched, tracing little shapes on Ortensia’s thighs as they did. The angel’s confusion quickly gave way to another whine as her twisted wing was ground against the stone floor, but it was noticed before it disappeared.
High Priestess Sharpscythe was the one to answer her unspoken question. “Isn’t it obvious? You’ve killed Ezolino’s last three archangels, AND four other angels. Now you’re going to provide us with their replacements, Prophet.” She sneered that last word, knowing just as well as the choking angelic bitch that the title no longer applied to her.
Instantly Anaphiel’s heart dropped. This had been bad enough, but now she had a fear for the long-term future as well as the immediate danger she was in. Fuck, she needed to take another breath; but what was the point? Even if she survived this she was still going to be trapped with them until however long it took her to break free. Because she was going to break free, right?
Her lungs absolutely ached, but the angel knew what she needed to do. She couldn’t win this on strength alone anymore, she needed a leg up somehow. As much as she hated it, she needed to trick them.
Anaphiel slumped down, closing her eyes and forcing herself to relax every muscle in her body. She had to ignore her lung’s aching cries for breath, to pretend she was just as stoic and untouchable as she was when still under the goddess’ protection. All of this pain was new to her, but she had to let it go, if only for a moment.
“Ah shit,” cursed Gorka, releasing the pressure on the belt. “Ortensia, get off of her.” It was working! Anaphiel did her best to not show her excitement, or yelp in pain when the priestess accidentally plucked a feather as she stood up, and somehow the angel managed. The relief of a fresh breath helped greatly, making her whole body feel alive and awake again. And most importantly she could feel some of her power was still there.
A sharp slap across her face made the angel jump. Fuck, how did a slap feel worse than a ballista bolt? “Wake up bitch,” Ortensia sneered. “Sleep is for the dead, and you’re not allowed to die yet.”
Anaphiel wanted to tear her limb from limb for that indignity, but that would have to wait. For now she needed to keep up the act. “Where…am I?” She asked through a painfully raspy throat. That part needed no exaggeration.
“At the first lesson of your new life.” Steadyplow answered, the reply making Sharpscythe chuckle.
Anaphiel reached for the belt around her neck slowly, trying her best to seem confused. Like she really had just awoken from unconsciousness. Much as she wanted to, she didn’t grab it or pull it away. That would be too obvious.
No, she just braced herself in preparation. She put her other hand palm-down on the ground, tensing it slightly. And…now!
All at once Anaphiel pushed off from the ground with a powerful flap of her good wing on the right and her arm on the left. Her right hand dug at the belt, yanking it loose enough to breathe through as she darted for freedom, desperately flapping and scrambling to her feet in the opposite direction of that bastard priest. She couldn’t feel much of her old power, but there was still some, hopefully enough. She was on her feet now, she just had to get away!
A piercing pain from her bad wing stopped the angel in her tracks. Anaphiel screamed shrilly, the sharp sound filling the church hall as High Priestess Ortensia Sharpscythe caught a handful of feathers. The angel’s already bad wing twisted at an awful angle as the Prophet and the Priestess played tug of war with it for her last hope at freedom.
Anaphiel was stronger, even without the goddess’ power, and she had hundreds of years of battlefield experience. But none of that had included how to handle pain, and the damaged wing’s weakness was ruthlessly exploited by the Priestess. She held firm, pulling the angel from a sprint, to a frenzied limp, to ultimately forcing her to stumble and fall face down onto a waist-high ritual table.
The wing twitched, flopping like a fish out of water in a frenzied attempt to break free from the grasp of the mortal, but every time it did a shock of pain was sent into the poor angel. “LET GO, -AH!- please!” Anaphiel begged, trying to pull herself up and away from the cold granite of the altar. Sharpscythe grabbed another handful of feathers, securing her grip just before her compatriot stepped up behind the disgraced Prophet.
Gruff hands, calloused from years of pushing a plow and beating a pulpit dug into her bright red hair, fingers interlacing with the lightly curled locks before gripping tight. Anaphiel’s back arched in an instinctive attempt to lessen the pressure on her head. The pain of her wing was still causing the most yelps and movement, but it was a close race now. “You’re not getting away that easy bitch.” He cursed, spitting on her back.
Anaphiel whimpered, still unused to these mortal feelings. How was everything so sharp, so PAINFUL? They weren’t exactly being gentle either, but she felt like the whiniest, most pathetic child with the noises she was making. Then she felt his hand on the nape of her neck, taking a hold of her tunic and she realized this was only the start.
In one swift motion High Priest Gorka Steadyplow tore the tunic from her body. The pins used to hold it in position were no match for his strength, a sickening tearing and the clatter of the stag’s horn from her shoulder hitting the floor being the last sounds Anaphiel heard before a wave of cool air bit into her skin. Fuck, even the temperature was harsher now! She had fought in frozen battlefields without feeling so much as a chill before, but now even indoors on a fall day sent goosebumps all along the perfect tawny skin of her back.
It really was perfect too. Gorka had an incredible view right now of the soft tan lines where her arms and neck met her usually-covered back, and even the little circles around her wings where the sun poked in through looser clothing. All of those colors were stretched over a taught canvas that revealed plenty of the warrior’s musculature beneath. She wasn’t built like a northern berserker or a strongman, but it was clear that she could swing a sword or lift off in graceful flight with this kind of toned physique. Despite her age it didn’t show any sign of wear or sagging or even scars. Every part of her was clearly far too perfect to be from a mortal being.
“Gorka,” Ortensia called, snapping him out of his reverie. He really had gotten lost in his staring for a moment.
“Yes yes. Just admiring the prize. She looks much better without armor on. Head around the table, get ready to pin her wings down.” Steadyplow instructed. The Priestess nodded, keeping her hold on that injured wing as she moved around the altar, not caring how the wing twisted and Anaphiel whined as she did.
“Aren’t we going to tie her up and take her with us?” Ortensia asked.
“We were going to. But then she tried to get away. Now I think she needs a lesson. Do you mind if we do it here?” Gorka asked his hosts, who had been watching with a mixture of apprehension and curiosity.
“By all means, go ahead,” High Priest Longarrow replied. “She is a gift after all.”
A gift. A thing to be given away. An indignity even most slaves would never be forced to suffer. In spite of her incredible heritage and immense prestige she couldn’t even have the small blessing of a number assigned to her worth. Instead she was just a boon granted to her greatest enemy.
Anaphiel sneered, ignoring the pain in her wing to hiss out, “You wouldn’t DARE despoil me with your -ah!-” The angel didn’t need to speak, so cutting off her words by flipping her over onto her back was a benefit to all involved. She yelped as the ceremonial items that had been placed there dug into her back, their sharp prodding temporarily distracting her from her humiliation.
They were all items that should have been symbols of her power. Things that should have been able to give her a second wind in any battle through their mere presence. And now they were just sources of further pain. A stag’s antler, her personal symbol and used to summon her both to battles in the past and here now, was digging into her back. A broad-headed hunting arrow, widely used among Sanyang’s worshippers, was piercing the skin over her shoulder blade. A moon totem, common among the Huntress’ worshippers, was pressing against her lower spine harshly enough to draw blood.
All of them were potent ways to channel her Goddess, all of them immensely important to her. And absolutely none of them gave her even an ounce of strength. She couldn’t even pull her wings away!
The High Priest glared down at her, his expression only slightly tinged with the satisfaction of getting to take in her immaculate body. He loosened his grip on her hair as the High Priestess took a hold of her wings by the thickest bone at the root. Her fingers were unusually strong, or at least to Anaphiel it felt like they were. But she was the only one who was distracted by that.
Everyone else was staring at her exposed chest. She really was beautiful, from the breasts that seemed just a little too perky for their above-average size, down to the toned belly that spoke of her physical conditioning, to the slit between her legs marked by a small patch of her red hair above it trimmed into a neat little keystone shape.
Gorka’s eyes drank in the angel’s body as greedily as she had taken in air after he choked her. Inhaling those breasts and their wide nipples, sucking in the subtle curves of her hips, but most of all gulping in the sight of her cunt and all its decorations.
His left hand reached up to grab her neck, but his right untangled from her hair to go straight for that pussy of hers. Without any clothes to preserve her dignity or protect her from his intrusion she could do nothing but close her legs tight, desperate to keep away his probing fingers. Anaphiel clasped her knees together and reached frantically to try to push his other hand away from her throat, looking more like a desperate child than the warrior she was supposed to be.
“Quit your resisting,” Gorka snarled, pressing past her batting hands to take a firm hold of her neck. He pushed the loose belt up and out of the way to take a more direct approach this time, pressing his thumb right on her carotid artery.
Anaphiel’s eyes went wide in response, the angel shaking her head rapidly. It did nothing to dislodge his hand, and already she could feel herself growing weaker again. Maybe she was just imagining it, but she didn’t even have time to worry about it before his legs were forcing hers apart too.
Steadyplow jammed his knees between hers and pushed, his larger size and better position coming in handy. Had Anaphiel been able to take a breath or didn’t have an injured wing or even been free of those ceremonial objects poking into her back she might have stood a chance, but none of those hypotheticals were reality. There would be no luck coming her way, no blessings as the High Priest forced himself closer to her hips.
“Well I was going to finger you a bit. Ready the fields for my seed, so to speak. But I guess I should have known you would want to fight. It’s all you ever could do after all.” He said with a scowl, moving the hand that had been intended to toy with her to undo his trousers instead. Already belt-less they fell away easily, exposing the hairy legs and thick shaft of her new oppressor in their fullest.
His tool wasn’t the longest on this side of heaven, but like him it was built ruggedly. Wide. Hard. A good solid head on a strong body. Like him for most of the year, it was also half-buried in a rough tangle. And like him it was going to put this angelic bitch in her place.
“No! No! Please!” Anaphiel rasped out through the hand gripping her throat. She thrashed as much as she could, but every movement just seemed to make it worse. Her body didn’t have the oxygen to recover, and it further agitated her injuries, and worst of all Gorka certainly seemed to like how her breasts bounced around. She slapped at his arm weakly, but his advance was inexorable.
To some it felt like it had taken forever, to others it was no time at all, but it was easy to tell when his cock first touched her by the way she instantly froze. They stayed there for a second, mere moments away from making history. Anaphiel made one last silent plea with her eyes, and Gorka just shook his head. “This war ends now.”
With a great heave he shoved himself inside the disgraced angel. Anaphiel screamed, and even with her partially obstructed throat it was far louder than she had been before. Her powerful warrior’s body thrashed around on the table, but Ortensia’s grip on her wings and Gorka’s on her neck ensured all that did was wedge him inside deeper as he let out a gasp of pleasure.
“Ezo above that feels good.” The Priest groaned out, even if it was washed away by the noises of pain that the angel was making. He wasn’t an inexperienced man himself, he knew that a bit more lube would have felt better for both parties involved. But the real joy here wasn’t in the best feeling fuck.
It was in watching her writhe.
With one more push he buried the last inch inside of her, all of the fallen prophet’s best efforts unable to even keep him from doing that. She could feel his pubic hair now, scratchy and harsh all over the most sensitive part of her body. It felt worse than barbed wire had before she lost her blessing, but it was nothing compared to the skin-tearing, far-too-deep, full-beyond-bursting horror that was his cock inside of her.
“Get…out!” She cried, her screams finally settled down enough to form legible words. Her entire world was lost in agony and humiliation. Her worst enemy was fucking her, her priests were watching it happen, her title had been stripped, and she was so damned weak! Centuries of training and now she was still helpless!
In her mind she begged far more coherently, both to him and her goddess. She could still feel the holy symbols beneath her, she was even in the Huntress’ temple! There had to be some spark of mercy for her somewhere in the cosmos, something she could use to get out of this.
And then a miracle happened. High Priest Gorka DID pull back. His thick cock felt like it was going to pull out her insides as it did, and she was forced to reach down to the ceremonial altar, holding it in a white-knuckled grip for support, but he was giving her the relief she desired. In her air-starved mind, still swimming in the rush of mortal feelings for the first time, she had a brief glimmer of hope.
He pulled back more and more until barely his tip was still inside of her, and Anaphiel felt more right than she had since this ordeal started. Her body finally got to relax for once!
Just in time for Gorka to slam back inside. The bit of relaxation had done her well, but it was nowhere near enough. Again she wailed in agony, and again it did nothing for her. The Priest tightened his grip on her neck, cutting out any further screams as he pulled back and pushed in again, starting to rut her without any concern for her well-being. She was his now.
And she had a use to fulfil.
“You really do feel…divine.” Steadyplow groaned as he fucked her, truly enjoying himself. To him she was warm, she was silky smooth on the inside, and she was tight as all hell. It was clear she didn’t want it, but her body’s fighting only made it feel better. The way her inner walls contracted against his sensitive tip, how her squirming pressed her body back against him roughly in time with his thrusts, it was all working together and threatening to make him cum far sooner than he wanted.
“Nooo…” Anaphiel groaned, or at least attempted to. All that really came from her was a strangled whine. And unfortunately for her, High Priestess Sharpscythe had endured about enough of her whining.
“Fucking hell you just don’t stop, do you?” Grumbled Ortensia, twisting the angel’s injured wing slightly as she did. That brought another series of whimpers to the former warrior’s lips, again only serving to further annoy her tormentor. “Your wing isn’t even broken, it’s just dislocated! Stop whining! Or actually…”
To someone who basically couldn’t be hurt before today the difference seemed rather meaningless. Either way she was badly hurt, both there and where the Priest was fucking her. She should at least be allowed to cry out over the agony of being used in a way entirely unbecoming someone of her stature! It was the least they could do.
“Ungf. finding a better use for her mouth?” High Priest Gorka muttered between thrusts, seeming to barely have time for anything else. As bad as it was, his words did spur Anaphiel to look back, or up as it were. Just in time for Ortensia to shove her now-exposed cunt onto the Angel’s mouth.
In all honesty, Anaphiel barely had the energy to fight this indignity. For all the real injuries and rough fucking she had already endured, this humiliation was just that, a humiliation. The redheaded former Prophet could feel the warmth of the Priestess’ slit as it rubbed against her mouth, and all she could see was the rich skin of Ortensia’s thighs, but at least it wasn’t breaking her wing or hollowing her out. The angel’s ears were flattened against her head by those thighs too, but she hardly had the energy to care about that.
“Tongue out bitch.” The High Priestess hissed, twisting that wing a little to accentuate her point. “And if I feel you try to bite I’ll ensure you know just how much worse a break would be.”
Anaphiel didn’t want to give her new owners the pleasure they were stealing from her, but the thought that this could get even worse poisoned any thoughts of resistance in her mind before they could even dare to bubble up. With a strangled noise of discomfort she stuck her tongue out, tasting the saltiness tanged with a tiny bit of bitterness that was the flavor of the High Priestess’ cunt.
“There’s a good winged whore.” Ortensia praised. It was hard to believe that being called a whore could be a step up from anything for her, but the fact that it came without a threat was enough for Anaphiel. She didn’t have any technique or skill in this task, but the High Priestess’ grinding against her face would be enough to satisfy her for now. The additional movements from when she cringed in pain or was pushed back by Gorka’s thrusts added just enough spice to keep things interesting and the Priestess satisfied.
Just like with the High Priest opposite her, it wasn’t REALLY about how good it was. It was about taking a savage, primal form of justice out on this knife-eared warrior who had caused their people so much harm. Gorka groaned in pleasure as he plowed her fields, unconsciously tightening his grip on her neck.
“I don’t think I can last much longer.” He breathed out, not slowing in the slightest even with that warning. “At least, not unless I’m going to plant my seed.” Seeing her under his control, watching Ortensia have her way with the angel, it was a sight he couldn’t have imagined in even his wildest dreams. And now it was something he could repeat every day for the rest of his life.
“You don’t have to.” Ortensia answered as she let out a soft noise of pleasure herself. “She’s not going anywhere.” To them it was just dirty talk. Words inspired by raw desire and carnal bliss. But to her, it was her sentencing. A reminder of a fate she couldn’t ever escape.
Gorka picked up the pace of his plowing, now positively plunging in and out of her. The Angel’s body had finally caught up and produced a bit of natural lubrication, much as she still hated this. It should have given her a slight reprieve, but all it really meant was that the High Priest could get rougher in his treatment of his immortal slave. Truly pounding her into the cold stone of the altar she had been summoned from, every harsh bash pushing those religious symbols and especially that stag’s antler further into her back, reminding her of what she had lost.
“You’re… ung, fuck… you’re right.” Gorka grunted in reply to Ortensia. He didn’t care about the inner turmoil he was putting the Angel through. Nor would he have stopped if he did. It was just too much fun to force her into his Priestess’ cunt time and time again. “After all, we’ve got 7 Prophets to make. Might as well get -nrg- get started.” His words were obviously as much to rile her up as they were to actually announce any sort of plan, but they worked.
Anaphiel whined, not wanting to believe it could be true, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t be.
She should have learned her lesson about hoping by now.
“Oh fuck!” Steadyplow growled out in his distinctive low preacher’s voice. Again his grip on the Angel’s neck tightened as he thrust and ground up against her silky folds with a renewed desperation. This time he grabbed harshly enough to cut her oxygen off entirely, the sensation not quite enough to distract her from his fucking, or her tongue being jammed against Ortensia’s tight folds. The lack of air was getting to be an unfortunately familiar feeling, but it was about to be joined by a new one.
The Priest’s humping gained in speed, but reduced in length. He was keeping himself nearly completely buried inside, grinding and forcing his way in and out of those final few inches over and over again. Just when Anaphiel could have sworn he was only doing this to push her further into the cunt riding her face though, he shoved himself in further and harder than ever before.
Instantly a flood followed. Gorka groaned in delight, relief absolutely palpable in his voice as his balls emptied inside of the disgraced divinity. Hot, virile cum poured into the fallen warrior, the first of many to follow. Anaphiel cried in dismay through the grip on her throat, thrashing and trying to pull away, but it worked about as well now as it had any other time she had tried it.
No, she wasn’t going anywhere. Where was there to go? Towards the Priestess only revealed that she was losing herself to that edge of pleasure as well, the sight of her High Priest defiling their greatest enemy by fertilizing her simply too incredible to let pass by. The bright red hair, her perfect wings, those stupid sharp ears, all of it was theirs now. To use, to abuse, to breed for the rest of her pathetic immortal life!
There would be no escape for her, nor sounds of pleasure like those that her new owners were making in unison. Hot cum flooding deep inside of her on one end and covering her face on the other was all she would get. One staining her in a way that would be immediately and publicly obvious, and one that wouldn’t show for a few months. Both accomplishing the same thing in their own unique ways. Marking her as owned.
Both of her captors seemed to be lost in pleasure for an unusually long time. It wasn’t enough for them to just cum and go, no. They were here to savor their victory. To keep the angel in suspense on whether her breathing privileges would be reinstated this time. Letting stars creep into her vision as her body started to cry out for air.
Then waiting a little longer.
Finally they both pulled back, Ortensia fractionally sooner than Gorka. The High Priest’s hold on her neck was the last to go, but this time when he released it she didn’t regain her fight as she took in a breath. Anaphiel thought about it. She considered it. But she just felt so weak. Her good wing twitched by instinct, but it was no escape attempt.
Not even close.
“I think…” High Priest Steadyplow started, his usually strong voice faltering a bit in an uncharacteristic manner. He really had put his all into fucking her. “That this peace will be long and fruitful.” There was a grin on his face strong enough that it might as well have been carved out of stone. Ortensia had about the same as she nodded in agreement.
Anaphiel turned her head to look over at her own people. They seemed a bit more dour, but none of them were regretful. She also spotted that quite a few of them were looking rather turned on as well, though they tried to hide it, unlike her new captors.
Finally though, her eyes met High Priest Longarrow. He met her gaze with a level of solidity and confidence he usually didn’t have around her before taking a step up onto that dais. In his hands was a piece of polished, glinting metal. Or rather two pieces. Two halves of a circle.
He strode forward, extending them towards his fellow High Priest. “A collar.” Longarrow stated simply. “Made from the metal of her sword. Once in place it will be quite permanent, and just a bit too tight. Adamantium is a bit strong for her as she is now.” A small chuckle went through the room at that, the reminder of her weakness hurting almost as much as the wing had. “But I thought it was a nice symbol. Swords into plowshares and all.”
Gorka reached out appreciatively, grabbing the two halves and inspecting them briefly before nodding. He was about to say something in response when Anaphiel suddenly spoke. Her words carried as much venom as she could muster while semen was dripping from her thighs and ejaculate rolled down her face, but they weren’t aimed at her old enemy this time.
“Traitor.” The angel hissed. She didn’t want to admit that raspy voice was as much from her throat hurting as it was from her anger. “How fucking could you. Giving in to their demands like—”
For the second time today High Priest Longarrow cut her off. “It was MY idea. I wanted a peace that would last longer than it took to lick our wounds. I wanted something to STOP the cycle of violence and anger. Something to ensure no one has to lose a son or daughter again. And we couldn’t let go of violence and anger without letting go of YOU first.”
Every one of his words drilled down to her core. How could they not want her, HER?!? “I’ve won you more battles than you can—”
“We don’t want to win battles! We want there to be an end to the war!” He shouted. “Fucking collar her and take her away already. I don’t want to see her again.” Her former ally said as he turned to walk away.
“Don’t have to tell me twice.” Gorka said as he turned back towards her, still in obviously much higher spirits than his counterpart. Anaphiel whimpered as he reached towards her neck with that silver metal in hand. She squirmed and tried to pull herself away from him, but her actions were more slave than warrior already.
“Please, no,” the angel pleaded. Maybe in the future she would regret that those were her last words while she was still free. She would have a LONG time to think about it. But in all likelihood, her time thinking about her pride was long gone.
Ortensia grabbed that red hair harshly, yanking her still and drawing a yelp from the former Prophet’s lips. Her eyes were wide with fear, but despite that the metal drew ever closer until finally the cold tool met her soft tan skin. Steadyplow brushed those curled hairs out of the way again, just as he had the first time he touched her. Then he slid the other half of the collar in place, lining the two halves up.
He pushed forward. The collar clicked into place loudly, finally.
And just beneath her she felt the stag’s horn that had been pressing into her back snap.