Smoke billowed high into the sky as the wails of the villagers pierced the sky, watching what was left of a fire that had engulfed their home. The women cradled their kids close to their chests, tears staining their faces as they cried for everything lost in the devastation: their livelihoods, their homes, and, some, weeping at the loss of the ones they had devoted their lives to. The men of the village were all gone, taken away by the demons to their village deep in the woods, though, not all were taken peacefully. Some men laid on the ground, blood pouring out from freshly cut wounds that tore through their tunics, signs of their attempts to protect their home.
They were simple farmers, these men, they never stood a chance against the monsters that came here, but they tried regardless in defending what they knew and for that, the knight thought, they should be commended. These brave men would surely be welcomed into the hallowed halls above for their courage in the face of insurmountable odds, and he clasped his hands in prayer, bowing his head to the men that littered the ground, offering them wishes of peace, and an easy journey to whatever lies beyond. He beseeched the deceased and the heavens above to grant him a similar resolve for the upcoming days; he would need it to achieve their retribution.
He clenched his fists and raised his head, his prayers finished, to survey the destruction of these humble people’s homes, his blood boiling at the sight of it all. Whatever monster did this would not know peace until they have been hunted down and made to suffer for their deeds, he promised himself that. The sacrifice of these men and the suffering of their widows would not go unpunished, he and his lord’s army would make sure of that.
The clopping of hooves announced the arrival of his lord at last to this small village, having himself been sent out to scout ahead. He made to turn and report to his lord, when he felt a sudden pull on his arm, halting him in place. He turned around to see a young woman, not being must older than 20 herself, holding onto his arm, her eyes bloodshot and filled with tears.
“S-Sir Knight,” She croaked out, sobs ripping from her throat as she spoke. “Y-Yo…please–” She paused, swallowing and took a deep breath to steady herself, “You have to bring my husband back. T-The demons took him away. Please! He’s all I have left…I-I don’t know what I would do without him…I wouldn’t be able to live…”
The knight took the woman’s hand off of his arm, holding it gently within his hands and looking her in her eyes. “Hush, young one.” He said, releasing her with one hand to procure a small handkerchief and dab at her eyes, “Dry those tears, a pretty maid such as yourself shouldn’t be wrecked with grief.”
“M-My husband, Sir Knight–”
“Your husband will be rescued by tomorrow morn, I swear to you on my honor as a knight.” He said, smiling as her before placing the handkerchief in her small hands. “Dry those tears and look forward to your reunion.”
He placed his hand over his heart and stood up tall, “I swear on my honor, the pledge to my lord, and all that is holy above that my lord and I will bring everyone’s husbands and loved ones back to them.” He declared loudly, “You can tell that to all the other womenfolk and young children that I promise you that.”
The woman looked up to him for a few moments, her lip quivering before taking the handkerchief and wiping it across her eyes. “T-thank you, Sir Knight!” She said, energy coming back to her voice as she handed back the handkerchief.
“No, no, you can keep it for now: I plan to return tomorrow and claim it after I bring back your husband.” He said, happy that he could once more see the flames of hope ablaze in her eyes. “Now, if you will excuse me, I must talk to my lord about tomorrow’s plans.”
“Of course, Sir Knight,” She exclaimed, bowing to him quickly before turning and walking away, a certain hop to her step that had been lacking only moments prior.
The knight smiled as he watched her, seeing her stop in front and kneel down in front of a mourning woman, motioning over to him and speaking excitedly to her. He waved to the pair before turning away from them and towards the entrance to the burnt-down town, intent on meeting his lord out in the fields where his army was undoubtedly setting up camp. His spirit was emboldened by the young maid’s pleas, a similar hop to his who steps as he hurried to meet his lord, smiling as the village smoldered behind him thinking tomorrow of the glory and honor he would win on the battlefield.
He crept slowly, furtive like a mouse scrounging for seeds on the forest floor, scurrying to and fro, poking his head in and out of bushes and poking around, a tinge of apprehension in his movement covered up by a beaming smile and a twinkle in his eyes. He crouched low to the ground and ambled through the thick underbrush, cautious to avoid the glares of others out in these dark woods, but–maybe it being his hubris, maybe his own stupidity–he made enough noise that any creature for miles around could hear him, though he remained blissfully unaware of it.
She rested her head on forearm, the silky, spotted fur resting gently against her cheek, tapping the sharp claw on the end of her hand against her temple, the cat-like ears on the top of her head, sprouting out from a mess of short, yellow hair, twitching as he stepped on another stick. Now that she thought about it, watching him rumble through the underbrush, he was more like a very fat rat meandering its way through the forest floor, caution thrown to the wind in its arrogance to satisfy its hunger, not knowing an owl hovered just above, watching in bemusement at its antics. She had to stifle a chuckle at the comparison: it wouldn’t be fun if the prey knew it was being hunted just yet.
She inched forward, following the man who continued to poke his head in and out of the brush, sometimes poking through it with the sword strapped to his side, looking at it disappointingly each time he found nothing. The twinkle and smile on his face was growing more and more somber as he progressed through the woods, each failure to fight any trace of her and her sisters wearing on him, and he began to furrow his brow in annoyance, and his already lumbering movement only doubled like his failures were weighing down on him.
He was growing bored, though she had no clue what he expected to find just blindly wandering through the woods. Had they honestly expected them to present their home so readily? She scoffed quietly to herself at the arrogance of this army. They hadn’t covered their presence at all, her and her sisters hearing the rumbling of hooves and the chinking of chain-mail from the center of their own village, so loud in fact it felt like the army was trying to intimidate her sisters into fleeing by mere presence alone. It was laughable, and it was apparent from their own scouts, her having been one of them, that the men had no clue about these lands, their sensitive ears having picked up the boisterous commands of a regal, middle-aged man on a white horse, pointing and ordering his men to set up camp and bring the remaining villagers to him to help him with a layout of these lands.
The entire spectacle was laughable because it was almost like he had expected the scared women and children to have any clue as to where they resided; they hadn’t even known that her sisters had claimed the woods, how were they suppose to know where they were? She had grown bored watching the men, anticipating a slaughter when her sisters decided to take them out before the next morning, but at least she could maybe get something out of it, having been left back at home on their last raid and not being able to get her own prize as a result. Maybe her sisters knew this, and that was why they had let her go on this scouting party this time around, feeling a bit grateful to them as she saw the exact prize she wanted when the old man had called for one last individual.
The man hadn’t been anything special, nothing to deviate him from any other in the camp–average height and build, messy brown hair, strapped in the same chain-mail as the rest–but the words that the leader had spoken of him, that was what piqued her interest. The best knight in the lands, the old man had proclaimed, slayer of many, liberator of villages from demons. Her ears had picked up at those lofty accomplishments, and she longed for that particular individual to claim as her own–some of her sisters maybe fine with any man they could get, but she wanted someone special; someone to break, not like the men from the village who succumbed so easily.
This particular gift has practically fallen into her lap as well when she heard the old man told him what he was to do: a scouting mission. To isolate himself so easily for her, it was like the gods themselves were smiling down on her, repaying her for her patience, and she jumped right away when her sisters were discussing who would handle him. Knowing smirks on their faces, they snickered at her vehement request, but they didn’t refuse her and now she stalked after the arrogant rat, watching as he poked his blade once more into the underbrush, ignorant to the noise he was making.
Frustration and annoyance was beginning to become more pronounced on his face, his brow furrowing and a tinge of anger filtering into his eyes, his already awkward movement intensifying as he pushed his way through the underbrush. Any pretense of stealth was thrown to the wind, with him beginning to sound like a large bear plowing its way through the forest, letting out curses under his breath that she couldn’t pick up. She smirked, enjoying the sight of defeat on the man, and she watched as he threw his arms up and began to head back from where he had come from, clear in his intent to just go back to camp and wait until the morning.
She sighed, she supposed she couldn’t just let him head back, not knowing what her sisters would do to him if he just wandered back into camp while they were there, so, adopting his strategy, she abandoned her stalking and decided to make her presence known. Hiding behind a thick tree, she took the sword she had leaned against it and rustled the bushes just besides it, violently shaking them before she peeked out from her cover. The knight stiffened up at the noise, twisting his head back and forth quickly, his sword raised out in front of him. She had to stifle a chuckle as he began to call out for whatever made the noise to come out, but it was replaced by bemusement as he began to back himself towards her hiding spot.
Had he really not known where the rustling had come from? This was suppose to be the best knight in the army the old man had assembled, and if he truly was the best, her sisters were going to barely break a sweat. She shook her head: that was what arrogance got you, she suppose, licking her lips as the man now was only a few feet from her, still edging his way towards her hiding spot until he was close enough that she could touch him. She leaned forward, her mouth only inches away from his ear, a playful expression on her face.
She burst out into laughter as the man jumped out of his skin, almost tumbling down onto his back but he just managed to catch himself and turned around to face her awkwardly, his sword held out in front of him. His eyes went wide as he looked her up and down, his chest pumping up and down rapidly trying to catch his breath. A smug smile etched across her face whilst his eyes studied her, lingering a bit longer than he probably realized on her breasts, causing her tail to wave happily behind her.
He truly seemed mesmerized by her, refusing to say anything but stare lecherously at her body, something she could hardly fault him for, for what man could really resist her? It wasn’t like her or her sisters tried to hide their body from prying eyes, with only a small, silky loincloth covering their privates, and small straps with bits of short white fur sewn into them that came down to connect to the loincloth covering their breasts. There was no shame in hiding their beauty from those they covet, nor the familiar comfort of her sisters; plus, the less cumbersome clothing allowed them to be more nimble in a fight than thick armor she had seen men wear. Honestly, it wasn’t like the armor did much in protection anyway.
However, though she liked the feeling of his eyes on her, she did realize that nothing would happen if they simply remained idle in this small clearing in the woods. So, with a confident wave of her tail, she began to move towards the man, stepping away from the cover of the tree. This action broke the man from his stupor and he stood himself up rigidly, like he was trying to make himself appear bigger than he really was, causing a small chuckle to escape from her lips; he really was acting like cornered prey, the image getting her heart pumping as she slowly approached.
“Halt!” The man shouted, finally appearing to find his voice as he waved his sword out in front of him.
She heeded his command, though not because she actually had to; if she wanted to, the way he was positioned and the way he was flailing his sword around, she could easily lunge forward and pin him down before he had a chance to strike, but she’d rather be more entertained than a quick hunt. There was no joy in that, and she wanted to truly test the man, even though it appears that what his lord was saying was more pompous showboating than actual skill if the way he was carrying himself right now was any indication. But she wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, and at least a fair fighting chance so she held herself still, cocking her head to the side.
“Oh, do calm down, Sir Knight,” She said, smirking when she saw his eyes narrow at her. She pointed at his blade, “You could poke your eyes out if you wave it around like that.”
He bared his teeth at her and his eyes narrowed only further, a small kindling of anger smoldering within them–good, angry prey are more prone to mistakes. “You’ll do your best to stay your mocking tongue, demon!”
She leaned her head forward, pantomiming offense as she placed her paw-like hand over her chest. “Demon? Me?” She said, a playful twinkle in her eyes. “Do they not teach you manners where you’re from?”
An idea sprung to her mind and she began to massage her chest, rubbing her breasts back and forth before smushing them close together and releasing them, letting them jiggle back to place all while staring seductively at the man. Again, the man’s eyes couldn’t help but wander to her display, and she felt a deep satisfaction as she saw his face grow red, unable to remove them from her.
“If you want, Sir knight…” She began, the words coming out quietly as her hands went down to her loincloth and began to pull slightly up on it, causing the man to visually gulp as he tried his best to tear his eyes away from her display. She licked her lips, “I can show you how woman I really am.”
“I told you to be quiet, demon!” He shouted, shutting his eyes and shaking his head vigorously.
“You tinheads are always so uptight,” She pouted, shutting her eyes before opening them with a smile stretching across her face. “I suppose that does make it more fun for us though.”
The rat furrowed his brow at her, “How long have you been following me?” He asked, finally asking the more pertinent questions.
“Hmmm, since you first entered.”
She tilted her head like it was the dumbest thing she’s heard all day, “Wouldn’t you want to know what some stranger was doing entering your home?”
“Of course!” She exclaimed, her tail waving excitedly as she threw her arms opens. “These are Ocelomeh lands now! My sisters and I claimed these lands as our own…but, shouldn’t you already know this?”
“What do you mean?”
She scoffed, rolling her eyes. “You mean to tell me you didn’t know? You and your lord’s men know nothing of us? My, my, such an arrogant lot.”
A twinge of satisfaction ran up her spine as she saw the color train from the man’s face, and a small chuckle escaped her lips. Their foolishness has led them to be trapped in a cage like a bunch of mice, baited in by a belief in finding glory on the battlefield against these “demons.” And now, due do their stupidity and arrogance, these little mice were going to be slaughtered by a bigger, more powerful predator. She figured by now her sisters had the camp surrounded, ready to descend on the trapped mice at a moments notice, if they hadn’t already. And she had the biggest rat of all to herself, her fingers and tail twitching in anticipation at the completion of her own hunt.
“I-I have no idea what you’re talking about…” The rat said, avoiding her glare as he spoke. “I’m just a lone traveler walking through these woods.”
“Hm?” She smirked, “So you wouldn’t mind if my sisters attacked their camp then? They’re on their way there now and it would be a terrible shame if nobody came to warn them.”
His breath caught and his eyes flung open as the last of her words left her mouth, punctuated with a smug smile watching the fear enter his eyes, his limbs rooted to the ground at the news. The moment of hesitation broke as quickly as it had begun, with the man sprinting forward, his limbs suddenly unglued from the ground. Letting out a yell, he raised his sword high in the air causing a small chuckle to escape her lips: it appears her rat had some fight in him.
Reaching her hand behind the tree she had been hiding behind, she gripped onto the wooden handle of her own sword, smiling smugly at the knight as the distance closed between them. She must’ve struck the image of a defenseless woman well if the man was throwing caution to the wind and running at her like a squire experiencing his first taste of combat. He must have thought that, despite the sharp claws on her hands and feet, that he still out-ranged her with his blade, and it wasn’t like her claws could stop steel, a seemingly wise decision for someone who knew little of combat, but especially unwise for someone who knew little of her people. And, as the man stopped in front of her, all his strength thrown into his cleave, she brought her own to bear.
Her limbs moved in a blur, and before the man could even realize what had happened, his momentum from the swing caused his to stumble on his feet as his blade met not her flesh, but sharp stone of her own sword. His eyes went wide, but she pressed her advantage quickly, flinging his sword off of her own causing him to stumble backwards, before raising her foot high and kicking him in the chest, feeling her claws dig deep into his thin leather armor. He let out a yelp as the breath was ripped from his chest, and he landed with an unceremoniously flopped onto the forest’s floor, his blade lying by his side.
“Little boys shouldn’t run with sharp objects,” She said, placing her own weapon in front of her, digging the sharp stone tip into the ground while resting both her hands on the hilt. She leaned forward, “You may accidentally cut your eyes out.”
He panted heavily, his eyes locked with hers before tearing them away and looking down at his armor, his breath catching in his throat once he saw the new additions to his thin armor. Three long slash marks ripped down the center of his chest-plate exposing the tunic underneath, and she knew that if she had wanted to, she could’ve dug even deeper into the leather, enough to draw blood. It seemed even the man understood this, watching as a primal panic took root within his eyes, sweat breaking down his forehead. His eyes removed themselves from his chest and moved towards her blade, widening as his eyes trailed alongside the odd weapon, one he surely has never seen.
The blade was as big as the knight’s own, but instead of steel it was made from gray stone, sharpened up to the tip of it with a wooden hilt at the bottom for gripping.. However, the most jarring addition to her weapon were the large black stones that jutted out sides of it that made it resemble more a saw than an actual blade. This was the intended function as stone wasn’t sharp like man’s steel, so they had added the sharp black stone to their weapons to help them in battle. This blade had cut and sawed through the bodies of many foes and prey, though this time she had no desire to use it to silence this man.
Fear continued to flow into his eyes, and though it brought her some glee to see her little rat in awe and fear of her, a nagging desire gnawed at her mind. She had been expecting a fight–a challenge at least, but the man had been disappointing, letting himself appear like a fool to her. She has longed for this day for months now, and she didn’t want it to end so quickly because the one she has chosen was not what he was been talked up as being.
“Hmm? Did the little knight lose his tongue?” She said, a bitter tone entering her voice as one of her eyebrows angled upwards. She paced back and forth, “Come on, come on! Where’s all that bravado from this morning? All the chest-thumping? Aren’t you suppose to be the best knight of these lands?”
He panted heavily, his eyes finally meeting hers again as he spoke up, his voice tinged with the unmistakable whine of fear, her heart picking up at it. “”H-How long have you been watching us?”
She laughed, her head coming forward to stare down at the ground in disbelief, her pacing stopping. “Since the first time any of you had stepped near our home…” A thought sprung to mind; something to get him back on his feet and fighting her. “We saw you make all those empty promises to that girl–Oh! How heartbroken she’ll be when she realizes that…though I don’t think she’ll have much time to be sad over it…”
“W-What do you mean?”
She smirked, “You know what I mean, Sir Knight,” She said mockingly, watching as a tint of anger began to smolder in his eyes, his hand reaching out for his sword once more. Good, she just had to push him a little bit further.
She sighed, “Though, I do not know why you care so much for those villagers…” She tapped her knuckles against her cheek before straightening up suddenly, “Ah! I get it! You don’t care for them! You don’t do this because you want to help them; you do this for yourself!”
The man glowered at her, “Quiet!”
“I get it, truly I do: to be etched in the history books; be praised for banishing the demons that plague the land. Hear your name sung in the halls of lords and kings aplenty throughout the land–”
“No! No, not at all!”
“Oh, do not deny it, little knight,” She chuckled. “Aren’t one of those virtues you suppose to extol honesty. If you’re not honest with yourself, how can you be honest with others?”
“And we’re right back to the name-calling again?” She said, watching his knuckles whitten with a smirk on her face. “Well, if it makes you feel any better: I volunteered to watch you for selfish reasons as well.”
“I said quiet!”
She chuckled, “Make me.”
His anger finally snapped from her mocking, jumping to his feet and charging her, his sword once more whipped far to the side. He swung, intending to cleave her in half once more, but, her blood pumping in excitement, she jumped nimbly out of range, pulling her sword out of the ground as she landed gracefully a few feet away from the man. The man’s swing struck nothing but air, and he glared at her, his nostrils flaring up and his teeth gritted. Her own breathing began to pick up at the sight, with the exhilaration of battle and conquest beginning to take over her mind.
“There we are!” She called, hopping from foot to foot; her blade dancing in her hands, “There’s the greatest warrior of these lands! Are you going to keep letting this ‘demon’ mock you? Come at me!”
The rat obliged her and charged once more at her, though this time more under control and without the element of surprise with her weapon now laid bare. Her smile grew wider as he brought his blade up from his side, swinging tight and under control, intent on the foolish notion that he could dislodge her from her spot without much effort. She brought her blade to front and parried the blow easily, not even budging a bit as the man, eyes narrowed, brought his sword back to his front and began to cut and stab at her relentlessly. The strikes were amateurish at best, and she found it easy to parry each blow without much effort, watching the anger blaze in his eyes each time she did it so effortlessly.
“Come on, little knight,” She cooed, blocking another one of his blows. “How are you suppose to shut me up with strikes like that?”
Her comment only made his ire grow and his strikes grew stronger in his anger. Good, angry prey make bad decisions, and she began to back up slightly under the onslaught of blows, a plan forming in her head. The man seemed emboldened once he noticed her being pushed back, and his strikes came quicker and under less control and she relented under them. And, letting out a yell, he made once more for a great cleave from her side, a large grin splitting her face once she saw the foolish rat winding up for it. She let her blade fall limply to her side, and a glint of victory entered the man’s eyes as she dropped it.
The blade came quick and precise, intent on bisecting her with the strength behind it, but before it could even draw close to her, the blade met something solid. The sudden stop sent reverberations through the man’s arms, and he dropped the blade on instinct, gripping his wrist in anguish. Before he could realize his mistake as the blade clattered harmlessly to the forest floor, she was on him.
She struck out with her leg, taking his own out from underneath him as he plummeted to the floor, the breath forced violently out of him. She kicked the sword away from him, not caring where it was sent to as she stood triumphantly over the rat who remained supine, sucking in air. It had been admittedly a disappointment to beat the man so easily and in such a way as tricking him in his anger to position himself near the tree, but she laughed at him nonetheless once he noticed his predicament and started to try and scurry away like a little rat. This was the greatest knight of these lands? He was nothing more than a little boy playing the role, but she supposed a win was a win; and a prize was a prize, no matter how earned–easy or naught.
She stabbed her sword into the ground and stepped over the knight who tried to squirm away, his heavy breathing and the pounding of his heart audible to her sensitive ears. Her own heart picked up as she began to smell the fear on him, exuding off of him in clouds that intoxicated her, and it took all of her being to not take him right then and there. She swallowed down her urges, and set out to stop him from crawling away so undignified; she wouldn’t want her sisters to think she had just grabbed some random fool in these woods.
She grabbed his ankles roughly, eliciting a strangled gasp from him, beginning to pull her towards him with little effort on her part, and despite his attempts to dig his hands into the ground and pull away, flailing his legs about to try and kick her off, she easily managed positioned him just below herself. Before he could do anything else, she dropped herself violently down on his waist, feeling him reflexively sit up part way before she shoved him down to the ground again.
“S-So,” She began, uncharacteristically panting as she felt him just below her, her heart pounding in her ears. She swallowed before continuing, “You were the best your lord had to offer? Pathetic.”
She chuckled and leaned down close to his face, her body rubbing against his, causing him to squirm more under her weight, his body unintentionally grinding between her legs, sending sparks up her spine, but she maintained her cool for now. She needed to first bring him back to the village and flaunt him to her sisters; he may not have been the best fight, but her sisters wouldn’t know that, and she would love to feel their envy as she regaled them with tales of the battle, even if it was fake. It wasn’t like he was going to say that he had foolishly lodged his sword into a tree himself, his pride would never let him. But, despite that, there was no reason she couldn’t have a little taste of him.
The words were cut off as she rammed her mouth onto his, causing his body to arch up again, sending furious sparks up her back as her tongue prodded his mouth. She felt his hands pushed against her body, but she held strong and pulled his face closer with her own hands, her tongue intertwining with his own in a dance. Her head became cloudy as their lips remained locked, and thoughts of taking him now pestered her mind once more, threatening to break her resolve.
But, despite the cloudiness, her battle-tested mind still picked up on one peculiarity: his hands had suddenly stopped fighting against her. It wasn’t like they had given up, however, for she could feel his one arm–his sword arm–fumbling at his side as if reaching for something just out of reach. It took only a moment for her to realize what the man was trying to do, and if she could, she would smile; it appears her rat wasn’t done fighting just yet.
She waited a few moments until she felt the arm snap onto what it was reaching for before pulling away from him, a thin trail of saliva connecting them. Reacting quickly, she removed her hand from his head and snapping it onto the offending wrist, squeezing it tight, a small cry escaping his lips.
“Tsk, tsk,” She smirked down at him, before raising his arm high and twisting it violently. A loud cry of pain echoed in the clearing, accompanied by a faint thump as a knife tumbled to the ground. “It appears my toy still doesn’t know his place.”
“I-I’m not your damned toy, you bitch!”
“And now you have such a foul mouth on you too!” She said, grabbing his mouth forcefully and turning it towards her. “You shouldn’t talk to your better than way.”
She recoiled as she felt something wet hit her face. Letting him go, she ran her hand down her face, clearing away the spit and with it, the sly playfulness. This rat still had some fight left in him, and she couldn’t ignore his behavior towards her which needed to be corrected, but it wasn’t anger that flooded her mind at his misbehavior. No, it was excitement; this was she wanted, someone to break in; someone who didn’t just give up like the men from the village had done so easily.
And it was with great elation that she increased the pressure on the offending wrist that had tried to grab the knife, watching as he tried to use his other hand to pry it free before she took it and pinned it to the ground with her free hand. She leaned down face to face with him, noting the tinge of fear that she could see within his eyes, surrounded by a glow of rebellion and hatred. Good, he wasn’t completely an idiot, he at least had some fear of her.
Regardless of this, however, the rat still had to be taught a proper lesson as any other misbehaving pet would have to be taught, and thus she raised the offending limb high and gripped it in both hands. He looked at her in bemusement at the action, which she responded with a sly grin, before she tightened her grasp on it, eliciting a short cry from the trapped rat as he began to paw feebly at her hands. His struggle was cute in a way, but it wouldn’t change the end result as she gripped his arm firmly, giving the man one last smile, and snapped her hands in opposite direction.
A sickening snap echoed in the air, soon followed by the shrill screams of the rat clutching his misshapen arm. She pushed off him, taking added care to put pressure on the shoulder of his broken limb, compelling a new chorus of screams to fill the air as she stood up to admire him writhing in pain. Her heart pumped at the sight, watching tears streamed down his face, and listening to the loud sobs which tore from his throat. This is what it felt to put someone in their place, she thought, her breaths starting to come out in quick, hot pants; she had only seen it from afar for so long, but to do it was so much different than seeing it.
It felt so good.
“I can’t believe you made me do that!” She exclaimed, trying her best to compose herself as her body shook excitedly.
The man’s only response was small whimpers, tears still brimming in his eyes as he clutched his arm to his chest, his whole body seeming to shake in agony. He glanced up at her, the rebellion and anger in his eyes now was fainter, replaced by pain and fear. She knelt down next to him, smiling as she noticed him flinch.
“You have to be more careful, my little rat,” She cooed gently. “We don’t want to have another accident like that.”
“You did this to me, you bit–” A loud scream ripped from his throat, killing the words that longed to come out.
She released her hand that clamped around his arm, watching as he brought it back to his chest, an innocent smile on her face as a fresh wave of tears brimmed in his eyes. His eyes were red and puffy, ugly sobs spewing out from his mouth, cradling his arm that was bent unnaturally, throbbing as it started to swell up, a hot red color pulsating up and down his arm. It was an ugly sight to behold so close, but she couldn’t help but feel her desire start to grow for her pet; to take him then and there in his sorry state–he just didn’t know how cute he looked in his agony and it was driving her crazy!
Licking her lips, she thought about abandoning tradition and give until her urges; after all, she had been so patient and willing to sacrifice her desires for the tribe, watching with the unpleasant prickling of the heart as her sisters got their husbands. It had hurt, all those nights spent alone with the desire ravaging her body, thinking with hatred in her heart of how her sisters could enjoy their nights with the body of another nestled next to them, their lust sated. Why couldn’t she enjoy the prize she had wanted so long for now? Her sisters certainly didn’t show much sympathy for her plight when she was ordered to stay and watch their home.
However, like all the mornings that came after, the unmistakable pangs of shame prickled her heart, cooling her fury and lust. Her sisters had waited as long as she had, and she knew that they had no avarice in their hearts when they had told her to stay behind and guard the village, depriving her of her chance. If anything, she had been given the most important role of all in defending their home, but the bitterness in her heart would blind her to this fact. The safety of their home, even if it was hidden well, came paramount over trifling concerns of acquiring a mate. They had longed for the comfort of a place to call their own and they weren’t going to let their base desires cloud their judgment in preserving it.
To think she had been so close to abandoning tradition left a sick feeling in her gut at her selfishness. All her sisters had waited to consummate the relationship until their chosen partner had been introduced to the village proper, and they must have felt the same desire she continued to feel throughout the whole process, but they held steadfast to the tradition and so would she. After all, what would they be if they simply abandoned tradition to their urges? They would be no better than animals.
Sighing, she swallowed down her wishes and decided it would be better to expedite the process, kneeling down once more next to her rat. His incessant sobbing has long since ceased, replaced by small shivers of pain that rippled through his body, and now his eyes turned to her as she knelt next to him. He made no attempt to try and pull himself away and appeared resigned to his fate as he closed his eyes. She smirked, he had no clue what her true intentions were, she thought, hooking her arms under his armpits and circling them around his back, her back stiffening up straight.
In one swift motion, she pushed herself back to her feet, picking the man off the ground with ease and plopping him on her shoulder. He scrunched up on her shoulder, a small shout of pain escaping from his lips as he squirmed on her shoulder. She took little heed of the man’s small complaints, bounding off into the woods once her prize was secured on her shoulder.
She felt the man begin to hit her back with his good arm, his cries filling the night sky, commands to release him that fell on deaf ears as her feet leaped nimbly through the thick underbrush. Soon, the feeble pounding ceased against her back, and she turned her head slightly to see her little rat holding his broken arm close, his eyes shut tight. A small cry escaped his lips as she took a particularly large leap, and it brought her no small joy to hear it, but she began to slow down for her charge, not for any form of sympathy for her foul-mouthed rat, but because she was close to their home. She hoped he would at least appreciate the small spot of relief for tonight was going to be long for him.
Slowing to a walk, she approached the small entrance-way to the village, hidden carefully by the thick underbrush and vegetation that surrounded the hidden pathway. She smirked as the memory of her rat passing by this very spot during his brief rambling in the woods. If only he had peered a little closer, he would have seen the well-treaded dirt path to her village, not that it would have led to anything since she would have swooped on him once he discovered it.
She suppose people would call them cowardly for going so far to hide their village, but it was their home after all. They had spent so much time clearing away the trees to create the clearing that they used for their huts, and they’d be damned to simply allow others to uproot them. They had wandered so long through so many lands, and now they just wanted to be able to settle down somewhere and be able to create a home of their own; to start families of their own.
To her, there was no reason to prevent them from seeking these goals; after all, they had wandered, fought, and prevailed against every obstacle in their way, and thus proved that they were the strongest wherever they went. They had the right to settle down in these lands and seek husbands of their own, especially when these men were so weak to begin with. If anything, the men of these lands needed them to ensure that they remained protected from the cruelty of the world, and what better place to stay safe than in the village they had so lovingly created for them and their husbands.
Her kind wasn’t cruel to their husbands, memories of the way her mother and father had been with one another came back to her as she pushed her way through the brush and onto the pathway. She remembered the loving embrace they would share when her mom would come home, the excitement on his face when she entered, and such memories brought a smile to her face. She looked to her rat and hoped that one day they could share the same love between them.
There was an undeniable longing in her heart for him, though she wasn’t sure if it was love or lust just yet, but she knew that at least she felt some desire for him, and once he learned his place, she knew that he would also begin to desire and love her as much as her father had for her mother However, first, he would have to be taught his place, rolling her eyes at his persistent petulant display of cursing and kicking, his bravery once more restored since she started walking. They weren’t cruel to their husbands, but only after they had learned to accept their place, and it was plain that hers has yet to learn his; she smirked, all in due time of course.
She pushed through the underbrush, being careful to avoid hitting her rat on any of the many branches that jutted out amongst the pathway, though he seemed more inclined to try and bang his limbs against them with all of his flailing. Nevertheless, she continued down the small dirt road, humming to herself to try and drown out the incessant whining that wailed only a few inches from her very sensitive ears. She would have to punish him later for this, but for now, she let him go unimpeded as they neared the village, her eyes snapping to the small wooden shield carved in the shape of a face that was pinned to a tree, large pointed canines protruding from it’s open mouth; the sign that the village was just up ahead.
She pushed her way through the thinner underbrush next to the shield, stepping out into their home. She looked around and saw only a few of her sisters were milling around or lazing around near their huts; the war party having not returned yet it appeared. Her entrance did little to draw their attention, but many turned their heads anyway, their attention drawn to the whining and kicking of the rat atop her shoulder; however, she felt a little embarrassment for the man’s petulant display. His whining would only serve to lend credence to her tale that her rat was a fighter, and she silently thanked him for being so stupid.
Her few sisters began to approach, tails twirling and knowing smirks plastered on their faces as they circled around her and her catch, admiring his features and bending down to look into his eyes. She felt no jealousy at their admiring looks on her pet, this was standard and each sister often took turns to see the new member of their village; it was to ensure that each of them knew who he belonged to, and to allow them to inform her if her pet stepped out of line while she was gone. She had done it herself multiple times in the past few days with her sisters who had gotten new husbands recently, and it was against tradition anyway for a sister to try and take the husband of another. This was, for all intents and purposes, simply served as a welcoming ceremony for the newcomer, and congratulations to her for claiming one at last.
She could feel her pet stiffen under their glares, his petulant behavior ceasing as they gathered around to look at him. Some began to grow closer and start to run their hands against his side, causing him to squirm in her grasp once more, eliciting a chorus of giggles from the assembled warrioresses, who immediately went back to touching and rubbing him.
“Sister,” one voice rang out from the small crowd, “put him down so we can get a better view of him!”
Nodding her head, she thought of tossing him off her shoulders, but decided to simply place him gently on the ground after thinking about his already broken arm; she could grant him this one small mercy. With him placed on the ground, broken arm clutched to his chest, the knight was swiftly set upon by the crowd. They took turns sniffing at him, gathering his scent to remind themselves of who he was and who he belonged to, before poking and prodding him, some grumbling that he was more well-built than their husbands, causing her to beam and puff her chest up in pride; she did pick a good candidate, didn’t she? He may have been a pushover in their battle, but he had an undeniable toned body and was strong–for a human anyway. She would even admit that he was handsome, though that ego that she had seen of his when he was in his camp was less than attractive. However, she knew she could fix that out of him, just give her a bit of time and he would be wrapped around her finger, worshiping her and only her.
“Get away! Back, demons!” Her pet shouted, kicking with his legs at her sisters gathered around him, causing her to chuckle at his childish display as her sister’s voices rang out through the village clearing.
“Ohhh, he does have a mouth on him, doesn’t he?”
“Look at his arm, looks like our sister already had to teach him a lesson, and yet he keeps spitting vile words at us.”
“I do hope you intend to teach him some proper respect?”
She snickered and stepped forward, her sisters clearing out of her way as she stood in front of her pet, who scowled at her, but didn’t say anything, “Don’t worry, sisters, I intend to teach him some manners.” She looked down at him and smirked, “He just has a lot of fight in him.”
The man spat at the ground, just narrowly missing her feet, earning a collective gasp and murmuring through the crowd, but his master merely responded with an amused smirk. “Taunt all you want, demon, but when my lord’s army gets here, we’ll see who will be laughing.”
The clearing was quiet for a moment as each of the sisters turned to look to each other, bemused expressions plastered across theirs faces, his words working its way slowly through their heads. Meanwhile, she watched him look around the clearing with defiance in his eyes, confident that his words had taken a hold amongst the crowd, working fear through them at the thought of such an army plowing through the underbrush and rescuing him. He turned his nose upward, some scant amount of confidence returning to his posture as he straightened himself back up, eyeing down her sisters like he was daring any to make eye contact with him.
His bravado died quickly once the clearing erupted with, not begging or cries of lamentation like he must have been expecting, but the overwhelming mocking of laughter. Each laugh cut him down, and he began to sink lower and lower into the ground as if he was trying to hide himself by sinking into it.
“You still think he’s coming?” One voice jeered through the laughter.
“O-Of course!” He shouted, trying to make himself heard over the jeering and laughter.
“You think he can win?” Another voice called out.
“My lord’s army could never lose to a bunch of savages like you!”
She knelt down next to him, her head tilted with a large grin on her face. “Is that what you thought when you faced me too?”
Her rat went quiet, turning his gaze away from hers and to the dirt floor, leading to more jeers and taunts. She saw his mouth mumble something, but she didn’t pick it up over her sister’s mocking him. She found it amusing that he still had some hope left in him, faith in his lord to best their raiding party and come and save him and the former villagers of the human town. She couldn’t wait to see such hope leave his eyes, and she knew the time was close by, the ears on the top of her head twitching a bit as they picked up the faint sound of drumming and cheering.
Her sisters sensed it as well as they stopped their taunts and turned their heads towards the pathway, large grins spreading across their faces as the procession got louder and louder until the drumming felt like it was on top of them. The small crowd began to disperse, instead moving to gather around the entrance of the village, their tails waving excitedly as the drumming and cheering grew steadily louder until it was deafening. Normally, such exuberance wasn’t allowed in their village since it would give it away to any nearby travelers, but today was more special and such norms were quickly forgotten in the excitement. They couldn’t help it anyway: their blood got too excited at victory that they couldn’t simply contain it.
She turned her head to look down at the rat, his brow furrowed as he watched the strange events unfold. She chuckled, it must have hurt him to be so easily forgotten by her sisters, having probably enjoyed the attention he was getting even with his angry retorts; another blow to his ego amongst many already inflicted on him today. However, she hadn’t forgotten about him as their victory today, though exciting, didn’t mean as much to her today as the prize she had gotten in turn, and she made towards the man who still remained lying on the ground. She needed him to see clearly what was going to come through that brush.
Hooking her arms under his, she lifted him to his feet, ignoring his small protests before putting a finger to his lips to silence him, her claw tapping on his nose. “Watch,” She uttered, pointing towards the entrance.
He opened his mouth to protest, but whatever whining he had intended to make was cut short before it could even be said, his head snapping towards the entrance as the brush began to rustle violently. The clearing erupted into a cacophony of cheering and pounding of feet as more and more of her sisters suddenly tore through the brush and into the clearing, whooping and hollering with their weapons raised high, a certain bloodlust still radiating in their eyes. Soon, the clearing was filled with the dancing of her sisters, who spun and twisted merrily around with one another, welcoming one another back like family does after being separated for so long. Despite their clear superiority in battle, they were not fools to think that they were invincible in a fight, many of their sisters having been cut down in prior battles in their younger days of wandering, and it was always, even in their confidence, met with bated breath to see if all their sisters would return from battle.
A soft smile touched on her face, watching all of her sisters dance and talk excitedly to one another in their home. She chuckled to herself, it was still such a strange thought to consider this place their home, but it made her heart soar to see all of her sisters coming back victoriously in defense of it. All those years of nomadic wandering was a thing of the past, this was the place where they were going to live and prosper, grow old together with their daughters and loving husbands. She turned her head to her pet who watched the procession, his eyes narrowing at the sight.
“What is going on?” He asked more to himself than anyone else, but her ears picked up on his words regardless.
“We’re welcoming back our sisters who went out to fight this night.” She replied, crossing her arms. She smirked, “It appears we won.”
He turned towards her and made to open his mouth, but she quickly shushed him once more by putting her finger to his lips, shaking her head and indicating towards the entrance-way, which once more rustled. The clearing had grown conspicuously silent as all turned to stare at it, large grins plastered across all of their faces except one, who looked ahead in confusion, his heart racing being picked up by her ears. Suddenly, the bushes tore open to reveal the last of her sisters racing in, her hands gripped firmly around a long pike which she pushed up and down, the clearing descending once more into madness.
The crowd gathered around her and hooted and hollered, many dancing and jumping around in their exhilaration. They all pointed and jeered at what rested on the tip of the pike, cheering loudly each time their sister raised it high in the air, all except one voice. She turned her head towards her pet who watched the spectacle in horror, the color draining from his face.
She leaned in close to him until her mouth stood next to his ear, “Someone you know, I’m guessing?” She whispered.
Her pet didn’t respond, simply collapsing to his knees at the sight before him, the once fervent hope and rebellion in his eyes extinguished in only moments. Smiling, she turned back to the pike, her voice joining her sisters in their jubilation, drowning out the strangled sobbing of a once proud man.
The chanting and hollering could be heard from miles around, the tribe so content in their victory that they feared little of being discovered. And why shouldn’t they? They had wiped his lord’s army, massacred them as many slept, or so the war party had regaled them with once the initial pandemonium had subsided. He wished he could deny their words, to believe that they were making up lies to fracture his hope, but he knew that they weren’t lying and such thinking would only be escaping the reality of his fate. He had seen the pike in all it’s horrific glory, the image sending shudders through his battered body.
There was no hope for him now, he thought as he stared listlessly into the fire in the center of the hut she had brought him to, having plop him down here before going to the feast that her village started once the war party came back reporting their success. The hut wasn’t spacious, with there only being two rooms that he could see, the one he was in now he figured to be the living area, with a small fire-pit in the center he assumed was used for cooking. Other than the pit, however, there wasn’t much else in the room, with only a few pelts littered on the ground–one he was sitting on himself–that surrounded the firepit. The other room he imagined was most likely the bedroom, but he didn’t stand up to confirm his suspicions, instead he continued to look lifelessly into the fire; his energy and willpower completely sapped from him.
He didn’t know why she kept him alive. Was it to mock him? Mock his failure in being unable to protect his lord. He had pledged his loyalty to his lord so many moons ago; pledged himself to forever protect and serve him until his dying breath. But, in the end, he wound up being the failure just like his father; the man he had always hoped to surpass.
He thought back to his reasoning for becoming a knight, all of his hopes and desires laid in that one dream. His mother died when he was young of a fever, and his father steadily fell apart when she passed, becoming the joke of the town as he descended into drink. His association with his father followed him wherever he went in the village, earning him scorn and laughter from anyone who realized their relationship.
He wanted to be more than his father, but, most importantly, he wanted to be respected. He only saw the people who so endlessly mocked him revere the ones in power: the wealthy, the nobles, and the knights. He remembered many nights of wonder watching the knights into their armor ride through his village, the awe and respect the villagers gave to them; it had inspired him. He could never hope to acquire any form of wealth, and he wasn’t a noble-born son, but he was strong and he began to teach himself how to use a sword, intent on swearing himself to a nearby lord, but he was always mocked and thrown away any time he had tried. But then one day he saw a notice on the board in the marketplace–there was to be a tournament held in his village, one that all the nearby nobles and lords were attending. He saw his chance–his last chance admittedly–and he took it, entering himself into it without a second thought.
It had been a struggle, working his way through noble sons and other men who have trained far longer than he had, but he persevered and kept marching through the ranks until he had won, broken and battered from his toil, but with the respect he had long sought. The people who had longed mocked him soon changed their tune and began to cheer him, asking him for help, and that long connection to his father was forgotten. For once, he felt like he belonged somewhere and people cared for him. However, he soon learned that their affection was conditional, they only cared the more he was able to help them and earn these accolades.
He had to keep pushing himself further and further to get the recognition he craved, but it was never enough even when he finally pledged himself to his lord. The dark whispers of his past always kept echoing in his head, and he never wanted to go back to all those mocking jeers and taunts that haunted him in his early days. He didn’t want to admit it when she had taunted him earlier, but she was right: he wanted the glory; he wanted his name to live on in the books of legends sung to kids, but all that glory has blinded him, and look where it got him: his arm mangled and trapped in the village of monsters.
Only now could he realize all that praise was a result of his actions, not a mark of his character. No one truly cared for him despite his accolades, they all just used him or wanted him to do things for them. He was still alone in this world without another person that truly cared for and loved him. In the end, the villagers that mocked him in his childhood were right: he was a failure.
Movement rustled from the corner of his eyes, snapping him from the reflection of his past. His eyes shifted up from the fire as a figured moved in through the opening in the hut, she seemed to be done with the festivities. He let out a heavy breath, watching her out of the corner of his vision as she deposited her blade at the entrance to the hut, before making her way over to him, sitting down on the pelt to his left, crossing her cat-like legs over each other and stretching her arms high above her head. She faced him, her eyes piercing him even as he continued to stare into the fire.
He did as she said, ignoring the small ache in his arm and the stiffness in his body, turning to face her, his eyes locking onto her amber orbs. He couldn’t describe the emotion in them, it wasn’t the sly playfulness from earlier, nor the furious bloodlust from their fight; it was soft, and he could feel himself melting into them, his mind only snapping to attention once he felt the fur of her hand on his fractured arm.
He instinctively flinched, but she shook her head. “Hold still,” She said gently, running her hand up and down his arm like a jeweler inspecting a fine stone.
He knew not why he listened to her command, but he heeded her words and tried to remain as still as possible for her. She ran her hand up and down his arm a couple times before she finally seemed to find what she was looking for, nodding her head. He watched her bring her other hand onto his limb, causing his heart to pick up as a familiar feeling of fear began to course through his body once more.
“Don’t move. It’s going to hurt, but I need you to stay still, my little rat.”
All the struggle left his body at her words, though he had no clue why. Was it the way she said it so softly? Was it the emotion in her eyes and voice that he couldn’t describe? It was odd, but he felt relaxed and safe around her, almost like she was going to protect and help him, despite her actions earlier that seemed to indicate the contrary. Whatever it was, he let her grip his arm once more, swallowing nervously, but not struggling to back away from her again.
She nodded her head at him before looking down at his arm, her hands pressing against the reddened skin, causing him to jump slightly at the feeling. Suddenly, his whole body tensed up as terrible pain flooded through his arm once more, bringing tears to his eyes. Nevertheless, he tried still to not move as she manipulated his limb.
After what felt like an eternity, she rested his arm on the bare skin of her lap, reaching behind her to grab something. She turned around, holding now two thick stick and some straps of leather, and a sudden realization hit him as he continued to watch her put both of the sticks on each side of his arm.
”Keep your arm still, rat.”
Dumbstruck, but nodding his head, he used his hand to clamp both of the sticks on his broken limb and raised it off of her lap. Smiling at him, she took the leather straps and began to tie the sticks tight against his arm, causing him to flinch at the feeling, but he held on until she finished tying both ends of the splint before taking his arm to his chest. She stood up to her feet once he was done and walked off into the other room without a word, his eyes trailing her the whole way as she walked into the darkened room.
She came out as quickly as she had left, a new item in hand as she sat down next to him again. It was a sling made of animal pelt, which she covered his arm in before slinging it around his good shoulder with a leather strap. Tying it tight, she brought his arm up tight against his chest, immobilizing it in place before sitting back down across from him, the same gentle look in her eyes as she admired her handiwork.
Stunned, the man could only utter one word, “W-Why?”
She cocked her head, “What do you mean?” She said, saying it like it was the stupidest question she has ever heard. “Your arm was broken, so I mended it. Now, what do you say to someone who has helped you?”
She smiled, “You’re welcome, now come, you must be exhausted after today. Let us rest in our room.”
He stared open-mouthed at this woman. After everything that had happened, she was just going to bring him to her room? To sleep? He didn’t understand her. She had broken his arm, but then make a splint and sling for him. He should hate her for everything she has done, but he found himself not resistant to the idea of laying with her. That look in her eyes, and a softness in her voice that tickled his ear, it made it so enticing.
Before he knew it, he found himself rising to his feet, his hand in hers as she brought him to their room. There he saw a bed made of pelts and blankets strewn atop each other, her hand taking him towards him where she motioned for him to lay down, which he did without question. The bed wasn’t the most comfortable he has laid in before, but it felt great to feel his body laying down after a harsh day, and he even felt the warmth of another next to him as she settled into it. Their eyes locked onto each other, a small smile on her face as she looked into his, his breath tightening in his chest.
It felt so peaceful. However, as he began to feel his eyes shut, a sudden nagging thought sprang to head, causing him to sit up quickly, hissing in pain at the sudden movement. Her eyes went wide at the sudden movement and she sat up too, looking into his eyes that were now filled with panic.
“What’s wrong, my rat?” She asked, a tenderness to her voice that he hasn’t heard before.
“T-This isn’t right…” He said, his body shaking. “Why haven’t you killed me?”
“Kill you?” She said, shaking her head. “Why would I do that?”
“Enemies?” She said before bursting out into laughter, “Is that what you think we are still?”
“Of course!” He said, “My lor–”
He went quiet, the image on the pike once more flooding into his head, all the fight leaving his body. He was dead, his purpose for living–his oath–he had failed him. His shoulders slumped and he faced down towards the ground, his good hand trembling at the thought. He should be the one dead, not him, he had made that promise many moons ago to him that he would always serve and protect him. But what good was his word? None better than his father’s own.
“What’s wrong?” He heard her call out, a softness to her tone that he couldn’t put his finger on, but he didn’t dwell on it as the emotions finally ripped out of him.
His body shook, and the all to recent familiarity of tears began to form in his eyes. “I-I should be dead,” He said, his hand coming up to his head to clutch it as sobs wrecked his voice.
He shook and shook like tremors running through his body, his sobbing echoing in the bedroom. All his effort, all his attempts, all in vain. He was nothing, just like his father, and no amount of running could ever escape that. In the end, no amount of searching could ever fill the hole he felt in his chest. All the acclaim, the praise, it was never enough to fill it, and looking on it now–another sob tearing from his throat–he never did know what he wanted.
Suddenly, he felt a sudden warmth pressed against his body and something wrapped around his back, quieting another sob that threaten to come. Shocked, he looked up to see the one who had so haunted him, hugging him close, causing his heart to flutter at the sight and the tear to quell. This demon was holding him close like one would hold someone they love close, and he didn’t understand it. She had done nothing but torment him today, but here she was comforting him.
“Don’t you ever say that again,” She said at last, releasing her hold on him, but held him close to her still. She stared into his eyes, “You’re mine and I don’t want you to say that.”
He swallowed nervously. Hers? What did she mean? He felt like he should be scared by that notion of a demon claiming him, but, oddly enough, he felt happy. However, he shook that feeling away; he knew he didn’t deserve it.
“B-But my lord…he’s–”
“Gone,” She said, wrapping her hands around his head and bumping their foreheads together, gazing deep into his eyes. “Do you understand?”
“I have no purpose then.”
“No, you still do.” She rubbed her soft hands against the back of his scalp, her claws digging gently into it. “All those other people you served or help or used you for your skills, but me…I’ll cherish you and love you…you’re my chosen after all.”
His eyes went wide at her words, and his heart fluttered at her words. His hand went to his chest, feeling the hole that had lived in his chest slowly closing as the smooth stroking of her hands against his head calmed his addled mind. She smiled at him and the serene look in her eyes finally made sense to him at last.
“Always, my mouse.” She said lovingly, her words tickling his ears and his heart picking up. “Pledge yourself to me forever.”
He felt her bring him closer, until he felt like he was almost on her lap, before she closed her eyes and pursed her lips, closing the already narrow gap between them. He followed her example, his mind and heart made up. This pledge was going to be different from all the people he had sworn an oath to. He had found at last what his heart truly desired, and though he felt a prickling of doubt in the back of his mind, he leaned his head closer to hers, his eyes closed.
This time, he accepted.