Happy Birthday, Mallory… and thanks for the stories
Thank you for reading! Me and my coauthor Darinost are gradually combining forces and blogs, so the joint comment section for our stories is currently located on discord! Come on in and let us know what you thought, we don’t bite.
Roska had barely stepped outside of her home when she was grabbed, right off the threshold.
The beautiful young woman had only just woken up, and had stepped out while stretching to get a bit of cool air when she’d heard something behind her. She had barely turned halfway when a powerful fist hit her in the stomach and folded her over, barely able to breathe. In only a matter of seconds, her attackers bound her, gagged her, and were already carrying her off.
So shocked was she that she barely made a sound or moved as she got her breath back. It was only once she regained her composure and began realizing what had just happened to her in truth did she begin to struggle, straining furiously against the bonds and hands of her captors as the horrified young woman realized where she was headed. Their little village of Golden Harvest was a fairly sleepy place on the outskirts of the country, hours upstream from the capital of Kramas, but even that wasn’t far enough away that what had been happening there didn’t make its way to Roska’s village. They had all heard of the women that were disappearing…
And of the mangled bodies that were turning up in their wake.
Some said that it was a force out in the wilds doing the kidnappings, others said it was a small group of men within the city, but all that anyone knew for sure was that over the last four months so many young girls had disappeared that it was starting to seem unlikely that any small group could accomplish such a task alone. This was no loose mob, or singular killer. It was looking far more likely that it was an organized slaughter, and one either allowed by the powerful lords of the city or that they were completely unable to stop.
Roska fought like hell. She knew it would be better to die here and now than end up being raped and tortured to death, so she had no incentive at all to stay quiet. Instead, she tried to shout through her gag, struggling with all her power. Those carrying her were smart and kept their voices low, barely audible, but she could hear them talking to themselves as they effortlessly kept her under control. She fought and fought and fought as they carried her onward, and made no progress. As time went on, Roska grew tired, and it was beginning to dawn on her that she was lost… that it was over. She began to weep quietly instead.
Then, out of nowhere, the kidnappers stopped.
The two carrying her dropped her, and she landed heavily on the ground. Roska rolled away and got a real look at her kidnappers for the first time, and realized with a start that her abductors were not the powerful and mysterious murderers she had imagined, but teenagers dressed in rags. Not only that, but she recognized one of them… he lived only a few houses away. She would always see the boy walking up and down the river, trying to catch frogs, and by the looks of him he was not only starved but beaten at home by his parents. More than once Roska had been tempted to step in and say something, but that old drunk was scary and no one wanted to cross him. Now he had abducted her and dragged her off to… to…
What had happened, anyway?
Roska looked up, and before them, in the dim light of the early morning, stood a beautiful woman. Once, as a child, Roska had seen a pair of knights in plate armor… she wore armor like that, gleaming metal polished to a mirror shine. Her hair was so red that it was almost like blood, and the pale skin of her face appeared to be glowing slightly, just like her burning blue eyes. She was so radiant that it took Roska a moment to even realize that there was another armored man standing behind her, with curly brown hair and armor of his own – albeit much less impressive a set. Most impressive of all, however, were the alabaster wings spread out behind her, shimmering with golden light in the dawn.
“What are you doing?” asked the redhaired woman. There was no threat behind her tone… despite the circumstance, it was a surprisingly warm voice.
There was something so beautiful and captivating about the woman’s face that it looked otherworldly. Roska was not attracted to women, but this was one she knew she would do anything for. And strangely, though her instincts told her she was likely older than everyone here combined, her face was almost childlike in its purity. An angel, thought Roska, tearing up at the mercy the gods had showed her. They had sent an angel to save her.
“Don’t be afraid,” the angel said, taking a step closer to the teens. “What were you doing?”
Had she been in their shoes, Roska would have run. But something told her they were unable to do so.
“Taking her…” Roska’s neighbor said.
“Taking her where?” the radiant woman asked.
“To… to Kramas,” said the beefiest of the bunch.
“What else? To sell her. Someone’s been taking women.”
The angel held their eyes. She didn’t speak, and the silence stretched for long, long moments. Roska could feel the pressure building, and it wasn’t even directed at her… the boys seemed to wilt under her gentle gaze. “We’ve got nothing to eat, miss…” said one boy at last, pressured into speaking. “Roska here… she’s the most beautiful girl in the village, the prettiest girl for miles around, and everyone knows it for a dozen villages.”
“They’d come for her eventually,” the beefy one said. “She’s doomed, anyway. This way she’ll fetch a pretty penny. Enough to live off for years…”
“And that is a reason to sell her off as a slave? Or worse?” the angel demanded, but her voice was still calm… still surprisingly gentle. “Believe me, they would have killed you long before they paid you a single coin for your trouble.” She met each of their eyes in turn, and each of them looked away before she moved on. “Nevertheless, I understand hunger. I do not blame you. You are young.”
The angelic woman took a pouch and then made them hold out their hands. She poured coins into each of their palms and the teens thanked her and ran.
Roska felt torn between gratitude and contempt for having her kidnappers be rewarded, but quickly the brown haired man stepped forward and began to untie her, helping her come to her feet. “They deserved to die,” said Roska, wiping away her tears.
“No, they didn’t,” said the angel, her tone still the same even, gentle voice of authority. “You are safe now… Roska?”
“Yes,” she said, unsteadily. “And who are you?”
“My name is Diana,” she said, looking into the direction the boys had run. “And I’ve come to stop what’s been happening here.”
Although she hid it well, Diana was frustrated. The land had many faiths, and many temples. Diana’s own order served the god Ajaxe, the Lord of Guardians, God of War, and though it was not the largest faith in the world, it was at least a well-respected one. His paladins were protectors of civilization and order across the world, safeguarding justice and peace where ever they went, always willing to fight for what was right. It was what made hunting down the cult of Syris such an important task for her order.
In comparison with the worship of Ajaxe, it was hard to find a faith less respected than that of Syris. The Goddess of Rape had no open temples in any city, no followers who would willingly profess her creed in public. Her followers were hated, and for good reason… this is what they did. They would grow in an area and begin their predations. It usually started small, too small for anyone to notice… but as Ajaxe taught, fortune favored them. The cult of Syris didn’t know how to do anything but escalate… growing more and more brutal with time, hurting more and more people, killing and raping and torturing until they couldn’t hide their existence anymore… until they shone a light on themselves and drew someone to stop them.
Someone like Diana.
The paladin had done this before… followed the cult to a new area, rooted them out, and purged their filth before moving on, looking for where they had fled to, where their corruption had spread next and leaving broken cities in their wake to heal from their cruelty. Sometimes, throughout the history of the paladin orders, they had managed to stamp it out entirely, creating decades of relative peace and quiet before the cult of the goddess returned. Diana longed for one of those periods, and she swore to herself that this time they would not let the cult escape. This time Syris would be stopped.
Just as her church was an outcast among mortals, the goddess herself was an outcast among the gods… long since cast out by the rest of them. She was opposed in heaven by Ajaxe and the other good gods, just as she was opposed here on Earth by their followers.
Diana had known that dark powers were at work here, but she hadn’t been prepared for just how disgusting they would be… or how difficult it would prove to be to find them so she could make this mess stop once and for all. In the several weeks since she had arrived at Kramas, she had made little progress, and more bodies had been discovered. The locals were unwilling to talk to a paladin, let alone an Aasimar… no amount of serene behavior or gentle authority could remedy that. The place was not known for its lawful and orderly behavior, and they were afraid of what was happening on top of that, so it was not surprising most were unwilling to speak to her… or were too scared to.
In the beginning, she had sent her squire Dillen to scout and see what he could find out. Being a man, and less threatening, he would be able to talk to the local youth and see what they knew. Her young second, however, had returned without much news. “They don’t seem to know anything about what’s causing this at all,” her squire had told her. “They’re just afraid that their mothers, wives, sisters will be taken away, and most are afraid to bring any attention to themselves.”
It was a problem, certainly. She couldn’t get anyone to give her information, and the killers wouldn’t risk exposing themselves to her. After thinking matters over, Diana came to a single conclusion as simple as it was regrettable: She would have to let these cultists take her, somehow, despite the risks. It was the only way to figure out who they were without putting someone else in danger. However, an Aasimar such as herself would be easy to recognize… the city already talked about her now, and she wasn’t exactly an unknown element, nor was she even remotely hard to recognize, so she had to be careful. I’ll have to keep the wings hidden, she thought. Thankfully, most of the women in the city were taking so many precautions, and hiding so much of their bodies, that it would be easy to blend in with them.
Diana bought a loose robe and tried to pin her wings at the back so she could wear it without being recognized. Binding them down flat against her back wasn’t comfortable, but with Dillen’s help she managed… even if it felt like the young squire was in danger of passing out from how much of his blood was going to his blush as he stared at the beautiful paladin’s bare back. She wouldn’t be able to carry her mace with her like this, not without being immediately obvious… instead, she could only tuck a dagger against her thigh and hope that it would be enough. Diana felt naked without her armor as she stepped out into the morning light, but she did not feel afraid… she did her best to appear like she was anyway as she walked down the busy streets of Kramas, one of the many thoroughfares that all led to the great market.
She took care to always move away from any of the men that approached her, keeping out of their way. She hoped it would appear paranoid and fearful… she wanted to let anyone watching her know that she was alone and afraid. Come now, she thought. You’re out there somewhere. She hoped she would get attention sooner rather than later. Diana knew that she was a beautiful woman, even if she took little pride in that fact… six feet tall and with the lithe build of a messenger runner, she had always drawn eyes to her regardless of her more… exotic… attributes from a distant celestial heritage. Even the loose robe could do little to hide her curves, and nothing at all to hide her height, the locks of scarlet hair hanging out, or the soft, flawless skin. Her beauty had rarely meant anything to her in her life, but maybe it could get the wrong – and right – kind of attention for her now. She just hoped the kidnappers were paying attention. It was possible that her enemies were extremely smart, too smart to take the bait like this, but she doubted it. In her experience, most criminals were both stupid and cowardly. A few of them, the ones calling the shots, might be clever enough but most of the rest, the ones doing the actual work of kidnapping, were probably just thugs without any brains or morals, filth that did the bidding of others in hopes of being rewarded with flesh or coin, and those were the people she needed to fool.
Diana turned the last corner to make it to the market when suddenly a hand gripped her arm through an open window. She could have sworn it was closed a moment ago, but the street here was so tight that anyone reaching through the window could’ve grabbed somebody passing by. “Move and I’ll rip your tongue out,” a coarse male voice growled from the darkness.
Diana obeyed and made no move to run, trying to tremble a little bit. It seemed laughably fake to her, but apparently it didn’t to them because a moment later the door opened and two other thugs came out. “Don’t make this harder than it has to be,” one grunted. “Not if you don’t want to have the skin ripped off while you’re still breathing, cunt.”
Diana said nothing yet again and kept pretending to cower as they half pulled and half shoved her in through the door, closing it behind her. The room was dilapidated and wrecked on the inside, but it was the hole in the middle that got her attention… the ripped-out guts of the floor that led down into the catacombs beneath the city. She was dragged down the hole and through a recently improvised tunnel before reaching a stone masoned tunnel, and followed it to a room filled with armed men. It stank in here, and they leered at her. That wasn’t a problem… she felt like she could have taken them all if she had to. The problem was that she saw no other women.
One of the men lifted her hood and pushed it back, brushing a lock of her hair out of her face with his dirty hands. “This one’s reaaal pretty,” he drawled.
One of the others cleaning his teeth with a toothpick grinned. “They’re going to have fun with you, girlie.”
Diana didn’t respond… she was just trying to keep herself from glowing as she grew angrier and angrier. It made her look all the more radiant, but there was only so much her Aasimar nature could take over before it became noticeable. Luckily, they did not immediately begin disrobing her to take a look at her body. That told her plenty. Such men as these definitely would have had their way with any girl at their disposal, so the fact that they showed such restraint made her think that the people in charge of them must be keeping them on a short leash. Unfortunately, it also meant that none of these people were the ones in charge… she would need to wait to be taken to them.
Convinced that she was no threat, they simply forced her into a corner and resumed their card game, and Diana hunkered down to look like she was cowering and remained silent. She couldn’t help, however, but note the holy symbol one of them wore around his neck, and she needed to keep from growling audibly… and from smiling. It was the holy symbol of Syris.
She had found them.
As the day wore on, more of the men came and went… and as they did, they brought additional girls. Some of them looked terrified of what was happening, but others were drugged up and barely aware of their surroundings. One after the other, they came, dragged down into the catacombs and away from help. I will save you all, Diana promised.
She wasn’t sure exactly how long it had been, but Diana could see the change in the men. There were nearly a dozen girls here now as she watched them shift around and prepare, obviously getting ready to move out. It’s time. It was just as they told the girls to rise, however, that the door to their chamber opened again and one more man came in carrying a woman over his shoulder. He dumped her on the filthy floor, and Diana froze. As the woman’s panicked and confused face came up to look around, Diana could not help but recognize Roska’s features.
And unfortunately, the girl could not help but recognize her, either. “You! Paladin!” she screamed. “Do something!”
Diana set her jaw. She had been was hoping she could use the opportunity to be taken all the way to the lair of the people in charge… But it seemed like that wasn’t going to happen. The men were turning their attention towards her now, suspicious where they hadn’t been before. “What is she talking about?” one asked.
“Is… is her skin… why’s her skin so… bright like that?” another said. “Take that robe off of her!”
Diana didn’t wait for them to move towards her… she dropped the robe herself. She pulled loose the strap holding her wings together and unfurled them, letting herself glow with her inner light as she ripped the knife free of its binding on her leg. “I would advise against trying anything,” she warned. “None of you must be harmed, so long as you submit to justice and help me unravel this evil.”
All the women in the room got behind her, sheltering behind the paladin for protection as the armed thugs laughed at her. Most of them were armed with wooden clubs rather than proper weapons, or with blackjacks, but they pulled them from their belts. “You think we’re scared of you, little cunt?” The one that stepped up was the smallest among them, with a pointed beard and beady blue eyes. “The goddess protects us, bitch. Who do you serve?”
A dark-skinned one with a huge belly slapped his club against his palm and looked past her to the other women. “Where do you whores think you’re going? You better step up. I’m going to count to five. If any one of you doesn’t come right here by then, I swear I’m going to break every bone in your body while you’re still breathing.”
Diana could hear the gasps from the women behind her. “Do not fear!” she told them. “You will be fine. You’re going home.”
“They ain’t going nowhere!” The fat one rushed Diana with his club. Fast and strong, overpowering… and sloppy. He was aware of the dagger, but much less aware of her left hand… she stepped inside his swing, grabbing his wrist and adjusting his swing a few inches to the left, guiding it down against his calf. It broke with a sickening crack, making him scream with a pitifully high pitch as he tottered backwards to the ground, his broken bone protruding from his leg and flowing with blood as he collapsed.
The others showed some fear now, reluctant to approach. “Do not make me fight you,” threatened Diana calmly. “Surrender.”
The remaining men whispered to one another. “Fuck you, slut!” one of them yelled, and then all of them ran for the door. Diana couldn’t really follow them… she was still outnumbered seven to one, and she had the women to protect. They took off, leaving the crippled man crying and bleeding on the floor.
“Cowards,” Diana muttered as she turned to the women. “You’re safe now. You should always fight back if you’re cornered in that way. Don’t let them take you somewhere else.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?” one of them asked.
“Yes… but far more dangerous not to. Worse things will come to you if you don’t, every time.”
Roska hugged her with tears in her eyes. “This is the second time you’ve saved me.”
Diana was frustrated her attempt to find the murderers had been foiled, but she couldn’t blame the other woman for that… at least she had learned something useful. Now she knew who her enemy was. Instead of being angry, the paladin smiled and wiped away the woman’s tears. “This nightmare will be over soon.”
By now the cult of Syris knew who she was and where she was, and Diana thought they might come for her at any moment – the local temple of Romira, the God of Justice, had agreed to give her board and serve as a base of operations for her and Dillen. Word had spread through the capital about how she had saved the most recent crop of women that the cultists had kidnapped, and now some refused to leave the area around the temple, thinking her proximity would be enough to keep them safe. After four days, though, there was no attack… And there were no more kidnappings.
The locals celebrated it, but Diana only wished that she could join in their cheer. While it was good no one was dying, she dreaded what the cult’s sudden silence meant. They will relocate elsewhere and start anew. It might take months until those people realize what is happening and somebody like me comes to investigate.
Then, during the night, she was woken by her squire who grabbed her arm and shook her, telling her that there had been an emergency. Diana did not need to ask what it was, she simply clutched her weapon tightly and went after her. Downstairs in a chamber of the temple, Roska was getting treatment from a few of the priests and priestesses of the temple. Her body had been whipped mercilessly and was covered in welts, and there were several teeth missing from her mouth.
As soon as she saw Diana, she smiled with her broken visage. “I fought, like you said. I escaped.” And then she began to weep.
It was wrong to push a hurting person beyond what they could handle, but Diana needed to know more. As soon as she had stopped crying enough that she could speak, the paladin questioned her for what information she could give. “Do you know where they are? How many of them are there?”
Roska dried her eyes, blowing her leaking nose into a cloth. “Not too many. There’s only a few of them that seem like they’re really in charge, just a group of filthy old men, but they hire these big thugs to help them.”
Diana was not afraid of common thugs. So long as there were no greater threats, that could be handled. “Can you take me to them? To where you escaped from, before they flee? I know it’s difficult…”
Roska trembled, cowering… but she looked into Diana’s gentle expression and tried to calm herself. She seemed deeply uncomfortable, but she was trying to be brave anyway, Diana thought. “I can try,” she whispered. “I’ll… I’ll try.”
Despite her wounds, they set out within the next half hour. Dillen had been left behind to take care of those that still came to the city and to send word back to her order of what transpired if she failed to return. And to rescue us if all goes wrong, she thought grimly. Diana’s zeal was ever-present as she followed the escaped victim, but the righteous fury inside of her burned now that she glanced at Roska and saw what had been done to her. What cowardly man would beat a young girl like this until she lost her teeth? What kind of animal would choose to serve a monster like Syris and do this kind of thing? There would be no more talking with these monsters… Not until every single one of them was in prison or in the ground.
Roska led her to the river where it left town, following along it to the south until she reached a small island at a thick point. Using it as a landmark, Roska turned away from it and started east. “Here,” she said, voice weak as she tried to speak. Once they were away from the turbulent waters, she began to tremble. “It’s close now. A cave just up ahead… it connects into the catacombs beneath the city.”
Diana could see the fear in her eyes. “You may return if you wish. I will take it from here.”
Roska shook her head. “No!” she forced out. “You’ve… you helped me. I have to help you. I’ll take you.”
They climbed up to the damp opening of the cave and Diana could see two guards by the entrance, both of them wearing chainmail. “There are other girls inside,” Roska said.
Diana hesitated. This was a bad entrance to a hideout – the cave entrance did not seem particularly well-hidden, and she didn’t understand why it would be connected to catacombs. An escape in case of cave in when it was being first built, perhaps? Maybe obscurity could be the best disguise for the cult. Diana was cautious, but the truth was that every second lost was more pain for the victims… she had to go. “Stay here,” she said as she stood up and walked towards it, mace in hand.
The guards were unaware enough that she made it halfway across the clearing before one of them noticed her. “You there!” said the first of them. “Stop!”
“Get out of my way,” she threatened as she walked, her judging gaze cool as a hint of a growl crept into her normally serene voice. She didn’t hesitate, and Diana had almost reached the entrance of the cave when she heard the sounds coming from within and stopped. The two guards both looked within, gulped, then ran away.
An uneasy feeling came over Diana and she checked back on Roska. The girl was standing there, looking at her from the edge of the clearing. “Run back to town!” said Diana, and she gripped onto the holy symbol around her neck, mouthing the words to a prayer and summoning a shield of faith around her as she settled her shield and mace into position, her weapons now glowing with magical potency. “Something is coming!”
Out of the darkness emerged three nightmares.
Three tall, demonic-looking monsters at least seven feet tall stepped out of the entrance. Their skin, she saw, wasn’t merely crimson… it was bloodsoaked, seeping the fluid like sweat from its pores. Their faces were gaping pits, strange, hollow-looking holes where their features should have been. They were no mere beasts, however – all three of them wore full plate armor, tarnished but thick and solid looking. They didn’t hesitate, either – There was barely any time to think as they rushed her, swinging their massive swords her way.
Diana dodged the first swing, letting it hit the ground beside her with a massive thud. Roska was still standing, staring at them, her face twisted in horror. “Run!” Diana commanded. “Run away!” She lifted her shield but she didn’t try to block the sword swing from another of these monsters directly… she suspected it might outright break her arm. Instead she tilted the shield, letting it slide off to the ground as she swung back. Her mace connected with the breastplate of one of the monsters, hitting it with such fury that it cracked. Diana quickly followed it with another blow that shocked the demon and sent him slipping back. She watched him shift backwards, amazed at the force that broke his armor.
A human would have run. Instead, this creature charged her with a savage look. Diana channeled every bit of power she had as she slid out of the way of the sword, her mace glowing brilliantly as she swung and smote him in the back of his skull as he staggered past. The blow sent him toppling to his knees, dead before his head connected to the ground. Before the two remaining ones could process the change she darted forward, her wings beating to drive her into a leap over the second one’s surprised attack and smashing down her mace into him as well. The monster erupted into a fountain of blood as he collapsed, like what was leaking from his skin had been pressurized.
Then it was just her and the third, the biggest of the three.
He and Diana circled around one another, ready to attack. The monster seemed tense with two of his companions already taken down by the glowing paladin, looking for an opening… or waiting for a weakness. “Diana!” came her cry from behind. Roska!
The paladin didn’t dare turn completely away from the monster, but she did rotate her body… and was suddenly struck in the face by an unbearable liquid. It blinded her and burned as it went up her nostrils. Diana cried out and demonic monster struck her on the head with his fist. The blow sent the blinded paladin to her knees, her stomach twisting with nausea as she fell. Her mace fell from limp, stunned fingers, and through her hazy vision Diana saw it as Roska grabbed the mace and stepped back.
Diana coughed and tried to open her eyes. “Roska?”
“Good little slut,” a man’s voice said. His voice was smooth, powerful, dark and dangerous… the kind of voice that made her skin crawl. She could hear darkness crawling off of him. “Your friend has betrayed you, Paladin. How unfortunate.”
“You s-said I can go,” Diana heard Roska say.
“And I am a man of my word. Tyrus, give the whore her payment. We have what we want.”
There was a rattle of coins… followed by the sound of a heavy slap. Roska yelped and her footsteps moved into the distance. “Off you go, whore! Get yourself some new teeth with those coins! You’re barely fuckable as it is!”
There was much laughter around her now, but then that dark voice got nearer. A hand went under Diana’s face and lifted it up. Though he was probably looking right at her, she could just barely see a faint outline and shadows through nearly blind eyes. “What good fun we shall have together, my sweet Aasimar. My finest attentions are waiting for you.”
Diana felt sick. Betrayal. That was one thing she was not expecting from the girl whose life she’d saved… But who knew in what ways these bastards broke her? What they had done to her?
As her sight slowly returned, Diana spotted the mace a little distance away from her. The man with the dark voice turned out to be a muscular elf man with dark hair, looming over her. A few other men were gathered around, and the remaining bloody demon. “Let’s get her inside,” said the man.
There was a small dagger tucked at her back, beneath the wings… her only backup weapon. As the monster lifted her by the wings, she pulled out the dagger and pivoted in place, trying to put the blade deep into the hollow socket where his face should be. However, dangling from her wings she had little in the way of leverage, and it gave him just enough time to flinch backward, barely enough that the dagger cut across the side of his head but didn’t sink in. The demon’s huge hand caught her gauntleted fist and pushed it back till Diana heard and felt her wrist break.
The paladin screamed despite herself, blinking away the incoming tears of pain.
“What did you think that would accomplish?” asked the elf with a titter in his vile voice. He seemed to glow with evil to her, looming over her like a black sun of death and destruction as she saw the demon draw back his huge fist. Furious, the monster rammed his fist into her face, and Diana’s world went dark.
They have me, was Diana’s first thought as she woke from her enforced slumber. She realized that she must have passed out, though it was difficult to say where they’d taken her. The chamber around her was dark and gloomy, with a single flickering torch lighting in the far corner. Was she in that cave Roska led her to? Or somewhere else? She supposed it didn’t matter. I’m here now, she thought, trying to be optimistic about it. She had found the cult… and her squire had known where they were going. She had to have faith in her abilities and her friends. All she needed to do was find her way out and release the other women trapped in this hell.
Of course, her weapons and armor had been stripped away while she slept, leaving her in just the tattered scraps of her arming clothing that covered exactly nothing of her nakedness, and no shoes or steel. That would be a problem.
Her wrist throbbed in time with every heartbeat, a distracting chorus of agony as she tried to claw her way back to full consciousness. By the time her mind was collected enough to even begin to formulate a plan of action, however, she felt an oppressive, dark aura approach her, even if she couldn’t see anything. A moment later, the door to her cell opened, and the elf from earlier stepped inside her cell with her. The man was almost as big as the huge bloody demons she fought, and despite his muscles and bulk he looked… sickly, somehow. He may have been pale once, but now his skin was deeply tan and dried, almost like a lizard’s, with bushy brows and a thick head of hair. His arms were massive, and tattooed with marks Diana did not recognize.
This man was evil. True evil… not the desperation and callousness of the poor teenagers, or the petty cruelty and greed of the thugs, but deep chosen darkness over decades and decades of inflicting pain and suffering.
The bare-chested man carried a chain slung around his shoulders, and he threw it before her with a loud rattle. “Put it on,” he commanded.
Diana stood her ground, unafraid. “What are these?”
“Your new clothing,” he stated matter-of-factly. “The only thing you’ll ever wear from now on.” He gestured at the cuffs on the chains. “Put it on.”
Diana shook her head. “I will not. I am not the sort of person you will break or intimidate.” She glared at him, eyes burning with inner light. “If you wish to harm me, I’m going to make you work for it… and I do not know why you would choose to do such a thing. Is your goddess worth all this pain?”
The man shrugged as he hooked a foot beneath the chain, kicking it back up to his hands. “Why not? It’s not me that’s hurting.”
Diana seriously considered trying to attack him, but he seemed more than merely competent and had most of a foot and maybe a hundred pounds on her, not to mention only one of them had a broken wrist. It was very unlikely she would be able to beat him here and now… It would be better to try and reason with him, and look for a better opportunity. “If you let the other women go, then I will do as you say,” she told him. “Are they here? How many of them are there?”
“If I were you, I’d be more worried about myself right now,” he said as he reached out, grabbed her arms, and used them to shove her against the wall. Pinned there, he began to clamp the cuffs around her, and only after she was secure in the chains did he take a moment to admire her stunning body: from the creamy white skin to the perfectly round and perky breasts, dotted by candy-pink nipples. He took a moment to wrap the next length of chain around her wings, binding them to one another before he shoved her towards the door. “Move.”
“What reason is there for you to hold the others if you have an Aasimar and a paladin as a captive? Surely no other woman can com-”
The punch of the back of her head was powerful enough it nearly sent her to her knees. As it was, she staggered until she was leaning against the wall of the hallways. “A butcher doesn’t negotiate with the cow,” he said, “I don’t negotiate with whores. Silence… you’re not going to make me do anything. Now move.” He gave her a kick on the ass for good measure, then pulled on the chain as if she were a dog. Despite his order, the man stepped to the front and dragged her along, making the chains rattle over the stone floor as he pulled her forward.
The air was chilly as she was walked through an underground stone corridor, probably in the deep catacombs. As Diana was rushed through the corridor, she could see dozens of other doors and other pathways leading to corridors that stretched in other directions, passing them one after the other. From many of them, however, she could hear horrible sounds… Impacts. Grunts. Screams. Sobbing.
“What’s going on here is known,” she warned him. “I have written back. Sooner or later, my order will come for you. What will you do then?”
The man ignored her and advanced. He pulled her up a set of stairs and then reached an upstairs area and went through another set of corridors. Now Diana could hear tortured howls coming from the distance that made her skin crawl. What are they doing to them?
The man knocked on a door and it opened from within. A small goblin peered up, but the man kicked him as he made his way in. “Get out of the damned way! I told you to start that fire, why is it still off?” He went over to the center of the chamber and tossed the chain through a metal hook on the ceiling. He pulled on it till Diana was lifted off the ground and dangling in the air, her arms trapped. Her broken wrist hurt so much that she wanted to scream.
The goblin closed the door and then stared at her. As the elf torturer made a fire and stoked the flames in the corner of the room, Diana could see the countless torture instruments on the wall. One corner belonged to the goblin and it held a tanning rack that had stretched skin. Pale skin she did not want to guess the origin of.
The elf continued working by the fire, which Diana recognized as a forge. What caught her attention, however, was the pile of her armor and the hilt of her mace, the head and shaft missing. It took her a minute to realize that half of the armor was gone… and to realize where the rest of it had gone. She looked up at the chains holding her, and the elf laughed. “Do you appreciate my work?” he asked, wryly amused as he continued to stoke the flames. “I thought it appropriate that your old clothing would make the new ones, the last set you’ll ever wear.” The large man turned back to her with a small smile. My name is Oran,” he told her. “And you are my responsibility.”
While she looked into the scorching flames, Oran picked a branding iron off the wall. “I’ve never had an Aasimar to play with before,” he said as he shoved it into the white hot coals, “but I have had more than one paladin. Making your kind break is always delicious.”
Was he trying to scare her? “You won’t get what you want out of me.”
“Yes, I will,” he said emotionlessly. “I always do. That’s why she gave you to me.”
Despite herself, Diana’s eyes widened. “Syris. The Goddess of Rape. You’ve spoken to her?” That just… didn’t happen. Direct communion with a deity almost never was possible, and certainly not by such an exiled monster as Syris.
Oran pulled out the glowing branding iron. “At times. She is proud of my work. She’ll be speaking to you through me, if you are ready to begin?”
As he came towards her, Diana gasped for the first time and instinctively tried to move away. “What you’re doing is foolish! This will accomplish nothing!” There were goosebumps going across her body but Diana knew it was important to keep her composure. I can’t let him win.
“This will hurt,” he told her.
Diana could feel the heat of the branding iron before it touched her skin and gritted her teeth hard to resist. But the moment the hot iron connected with her ass cheek she shrieked. The paladin could hear her skin sizzling as the iron seared through the lovely and untouched Aasimar flesh. The heat was only on a small part of her body, but the pain was shooting everywhere, making her toes curl and her skin crawl as she jerked in pain.
Oran pulled it back and admired the mark left on her ass. She could feel the air searing against her new brand as he blew on it for fun. “Could’ve been a little hotter. If only this dumb goblin had done his job properly. How about you, paladin? How was that?”
Diana focused on getting her breathing back in order and ignored him, her eyes scowling in hatred.
Displeased, he gave her a smack on the ass that connected with the spot he’d just burned. “How was that?!” he boomed.
Diana gritted her teeth and kept her resolve. “You will not break me,” she told herself, and to him as well.
“Damn,” said Oran with a laugh, giving her ass another spank that she just barely stopped from screaming. “It’s still so hot. Almost burns my hand.” He stepped to the front and looked her in the eyes. Her succulent white breasts were heaving up and down while rivulets of sweat poured down her tense face. “I always want to remember and treasure these initial moments,” he told her. “Before long, they will be a distant memory. You’re going to love me in a few days.”
“You will face punishment sooner or later,” Diana panted.
Oran grabbed her by the waist and took a step closer, grinding her soft tits against his barrel chest as his fingers squeezed her ass and caressed the sensitive fresh brand. “Is that so?” he asked. Diana grunted away her misery, but each time his finger stroked her fresh burn it sent needles into every nerve. “What I’m doing to you is nothing compared to what we’re going to do to you,” the elf whispered into her ear. “I hope you know that. The more you resist, the worse it will be. The weaker ones have the easiest way out. Take my advice and just break, give us our fun. These first few days will seem hard. But you can’t actually imagine what She wants done to you. I’m the closest thing you have to a friend, now.”
He was close enough that she could try something to take him out. Her right wrist still hurt too much to use but the left one was fine. And he had her raised in his grip which loosened the chains. Diana tried to position them so that she could wrap around his neck and try to choke him. Oran smelled her tight body and moved his lips up to her ear. “Do you think I don’t know what you’re doing, silly bitch?”
Abruptly her tormentor slammed his fist into her stomach with so much force that it took the air out of her. He followed it with another punch, then a slap across her tits. “Don’t get smart. There’s no hope for you here, Aasimar whore! I told you to give up… but predictably, it seems you’re too stubborn for that.” He drove a knee up between her legs, and Diana’s world went white with pain as his knee smashed against her pussy, making her scream nearly silent as she gurgled in agony.
While she was all but disabled from her beating, he went behind her and she could hear him unbuckling his belt. The next moment, his palm slapped her branded cheek, again and again until she gritted her teeth from the pain yet again. It was only then that she she felt the tip of his dick against her pussy.
Diana tensed, and he laughed. “I could just smell it on you…” he said with a small moan. “This is definitely a virgin pussy, isn’t it? Paladins tend to be that way…”
Diana did not give him the satisfaction of confirming, but a moment later he pushed against her, and the tightness of her pussy as he shoved his fat dick inside was all the confirmation he could’ve needed. He grabbed her scarlet hair and pulled it as he slammed his cock inside of her, and she felt as her insides battled back only to lose. “Aaah!” gasped Diana.
Oran chuckled grimly. “You think that hurts, paladin? This is nothing. This is just stretching you out as a favor.”
Diana had never been with a man but she knew what it entailed… and more to the point, she knew that the way Oran took her was unnatural. He made use of her pussy without any regard for her person, ramming it through again and again despite her tightness. He didn’t make love to her… he fucked her like an object, chewing her up like a piece of meat left out for the rats. Even worse, however, was the darkness in him. She had felt it surging around him ever since she had first heard the man’s voice, the sense of cruelty and violence he kept wrapped around him like a cloak, but now that he was inside her it was so much worse. She could feel the evil radiating off him and it felt like spikes on his cock, scraping against her insides, ripping at her soul as his dick did the same to her body.
Her elf rapist leaned over her and whispered in her ear: “You’re going to take so much worse than this, little holy slut. You have no idea.”
Diana said nothing, struggling to keep from just screaming. Oran grabbed onto the necklace around her neck, grabbing it by the holy symbol. “Where is Ajaxe now, whore?” he asked, and then he tugged, using her necklace like a garrote as he pulled on it like handles, using it to fuck her even harder. He’s taken my virginity, she thought with horror. He’s ruined me… The pain in her lungs, in her throat, in her wrist, in her brand, and most of all inside her cunt was almost unbearable, but this was a kind of hollowing humiliation that could match no injury she had ever received, in battle or otherwise. He had taken something from her… and added some piece of himself in its place into her life. This man would be with her forever.
His dick was reshaping her insides as he yanked tighter, closing her throat with her necklace. “Tight little fucking whore,” he grunted, stealing her breath even as he stole every bit of purity he could find inside of her, his other hand closing on one of her belted-together wings and tugging on it as he choked her. “Fucking… little… whore!”
The necklace snapped on the final thrust, Ajaxe’s holy symbol clattering to the ground in time with Oran exploding inside of her. Diana let out an involuntary wail as she felt his hot seed splash against her insides, and even if she scrubbed herself with sandpaper for a month she knew that she would never feel clean ever again after this… this rapist, this murderer, had profaned her so utterly. She barely even noticed herself sucking in breath, staring down at the silver holy symbol with dull eyes before Oran kicked it away, setting it skittering across the floor and out of sight.
“Worthless scrap of metal,” he mocked, releasing the chain and letting the paladin collapse to the floor like a sack of bricks, falling unsteadily. “Well then… I think it’s about time we got started, don’t you?” Oran walked over to the door, opened it… and one by one, men began to file into the room, staring at the naked, bound paladin with hungry, lustful eyes that reeked of their evil, and Diana was helpless to do anything about what was coming…
5 thoughts on “The Sum of Her Scars – Chapter 1”
Oh, now this is just a perfect present! A poor paladin knight with beautiful wings/handlebars, an equally villainous opponent, what more could I ask for? Probably nothing that’s not coming in the next chapter!
Thank you very much for this lovely gift!
I hope it’s alright that I’m here.
I spent a lot of time agonizing over whether or not to read this story, and there’s a part of me that feels very embarrassed to be doing this, because it indicates that I’m extremely predictable.
I have now muted the “live reading reaction” thread on the Discord, as that definitely had an impact on why I’m here (we’ll circle back to that later), but at the same time that thread’s buzzed about other stuff, including Darinost’s snuff fic, and I never felt like I would want to read that, so it’s also not unlikely that this has to do with the fact that I know the protagonist here would be someone I would like and root for, so there was always a chance I’d read it.
Ironically, though, the discussion thread also provided both my biggest reason to avoid and my biggest reason to read: the bad ending is canon now. Saying anything about this feels terribly unfair–it was written with a very specific target audience, and the fact that it stars a character I’d like is coincidental–but the fact that the bad ending is near-universally agreed to be canon does affect the reading experience. I don’t know how to explain this, other than to ask if you’ve ever had the experience of watching a movie, liking the ending, and then finding out that the director actually really didn’t want that happy ending, and it was the result of focus groups or studio interference or something? I know it’s not a perfect comparison, admittedly, because this is entirely your creation, and while you have a target audience there is no studio. Still, I worried about liking the good ending more and then being “wrong” for that.
*looks over at some of the movies on my shelf*
Admittedly not the first time I’ve liked The Wrong Thing, so these are well-traveled roads.
The strange thing is, that was also the biggest draw to read this. Pretty much everyone said the bad ending was better, but almost no one actually said why. Was it possible that I could offer constructive feedback? That I could see what had gone wrong with the good ending? What if it was even something a simple edit could fix? I won’t speculate any more right now, but the idea that I could contribute something useful was a draw.
Again, I hope it’s ok that I’m here. It was difficult not talking about this, and I couldn’t very well speak without reading it, which added to the above. Thank you for being as nice as you all are.
Also to note that until the endings, this will be less of a “composed review” scenario and more “reacting as I go”. When I analyze the endings, there will be a delay so I can try and really think things through and properly phrase my thoughts about the writing.
So first, our establishing character moment for Diana is great, and yes, she is immediately the kind of character I like. Not only is she pretty much tailor made to be one of my ultimate fantasy women (though admittedly we seem to just share fantasy imagery), but her moral code means does things I want to like as well, such as empathizing with the kidnappers and trying to send them away without harming them. Depending on how the story goes, of course, that may be seen as naivete rather than trying to see the good in others. There does seem to be a bit of naivete in there as well, as an example her plan involving being kidnapped to discover the cult’s location. I may admittedly be reacting super negatively because of the kind of story this is, though, rather than because of the plan itself. It’s easy to read into this that she is either naive or arrogant and therefore “has it coming”, which is for sure in line with, uh…certain people’s preferences.
Reaction 1: So I know this was written for Mallory, but I appreciate that you apparently put me in the story too.
Reaction 2: God fucking damn it… Ok, ok, I don’t know this is a pattern yet, but I’ll keep watching for it in stories now, and while I’m pretty damn sure what’s going to happen here, if this happens a third time I’ll have to discuss it.
Man, Roska is like the unluckiest woman in the world here.
Swear to God, Roska, if…ok who are we kidding? When Diana’s wings get violently amputated, if it’s your fucking fault…
Ok, that went a lot better than I’d anticipated. In total seriousness, I’d figured she was going to be captured right there and then. I know it’s only a delay, but even so, I think it is important to see what Diana is capable of. We don’t get to see her at her fullest, wearing her armor and equipped with her favored weapons, but the fact that she accomplished that while unarmored and equipped with nothing more than a dagger does speak well of her.
Also, I just realized that in spite of how good a look it is, I actually don’t know if there are many angels that glow. I don’t think I’ve ever done it, and I can’t remember if any of yours do either. Camiel’s wings glowed, but that was about it.
I actually really like this too, and in these stories it’s very true. Any woman who gets grabbed by a man is going to end up raped, a sex slave or possibly dead, so frankly you might as well fight.
…She’s working for the cult. No one is that unlucky.
Confirmed shortly thereafter, of course.
Next is the part of the story where I don’t have much in the way of reaction. The idea of a buff, muscular elf is rather interesting, though. Stereotypically they tend to be agile and graceful but not as outright strong as humans, so seeing one who’s huge and all muscle is pretty novel.
What follows is about what I expected, though fortunately not as bad as I’d anticipated. I’d parse some of what Diana thinks here, but a lot of that is hyperbole common in these stories and more reflective of her immediate reaction than any level of objective reality. There are still two more chapters before I can try and analyze the endings, so I’ll see how that goes.
Did you do the drawing as well?
No, I wish. I’ve become a decent artist but nowhere near that good. I just took that pic from a Google search.