Nirvana. Dubbed as the “haven of purity” and “refuge of men”, this isolated continent had been a newfound staple in the Order’s campaign against their sworn enemy, the self-proclaimed “Monster Overlord”. The land was discovered late in the war by humans, and was quickly seized and populated by the Order in turn.
Because it was separated from the rest of the world by two vast oceans, the foreign world became suitable to fit a variety of roles in the war, but a particular richness in precious ores along with an abundance of fauna and fertile soil made Nirvana primarily a land of resources. Farms of all kinds were raised, dotting every map of the continent, yet that’s not to say that’s all there was. Great cities were built, widely dispersed but united nonetheless. Together, they formed a single, powerful kingdom, their capital being an impregnable fortress known as Tera Morta.
Our story takes place in the outskirts of Argent Sol, one of the continent’s larger cities. The time is late afternoon, the sun lightly obscured by a sheet of stratus, and a gentle breeze is becoming gradually replaced with wild, howling winds. It’s autumn, the city and its lands draped in Mother Nature’s yearly mantle of colors, littered with fallen, polychrome leaves. An atmosphere of liveliness hangs in the air, as it did every year throughout the ages; festivities were being held, banquets were attended, and the people were merry while also, for the most part, at peace…
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to last this season…
C 1 • Fading Hope
A small army, consisting of a thousand of Argent Sol’s finest footmen accompanied by a couple hundred knights with steeds, marched through the streets in perfect formation; the civilians, believing them to be yet another event among the festivities, cheered and praised them as they made their way towards the city’s main gate. Some of the warriors even returned the attention with cheers of their own, flaunting raised weapons or even having their horses prance to give their spectators a better show. Little did the people know however, this extravagant “parade” was actually on its way to face off against an immediately approaching army, one that belonged to none other than the Monster Overlord’s forces.
Monsters. Mamono. Munstroa. Monsutā. Monmusu. There were many, many names for the ones whom man found itself at war against, but in the end they referred to the same thing: inhuman creatures of many forms and feats, but every one sharing the defining traits of human females. Having bodies meant to seduce men with their beauty, and enthrall women with their superior capabilities, these beasts had the means to persuade whole masses of the human population into joining their ranks without so much as lifting a sword… and if that wasn’t enough, they were each more than capable of taking a victim by force if need be, for a common monster was much more powerful than the average man.
Fortunately, mankind did have several advantages of their own, numbers being the most prominent… but such wasn’t really the case in this instance. Lookouts from atop the high walls determined that the invading force had a count rate of approximately ten to twelve thousand strong, and that was simply an estimate at best; scouts had been sent to retrieve the exact number along with any other valuable information, but none ever made it back.
In the end, the knights and their footmen were sent out to meet these invading beasts, the warriors well-aware that they were headed to war… yet not a man knowing of just how disadvantaged they actually were. According to the ruling sovereign (the one who had made the call while being well-informed that he was sending the militia to their doom), he reasoned in secret to an inquiring bishop that “the purpose of the battle was not to win, but to stall only until Tera Morta’s forces came to their aide”.
Of course, the order was given and the army was sent… and this is where our story begins, starting off with our focus centering upon a single member within the marching band of humans.
He is one of the knights, clad in silver-white hardened steel and mounted upon an auburn stallion, a large, powerful and heavily armored Percheron he’d named “Cajole”. The owner of this giant equine was a man of rather short stature himself (quite ironically when compared to his horse), reaching only one and three-quarters meters tall, thus looking somewhat comical no doubt as he sat upon such a massive steed. Don’t let this disproportional setup leave you mistaken, for the man on the horse was everything in strength as his partner boasted in appearance.
This was Johnathan Rayfield, a paladin-class knight from among the Argent Sol vanguard and younger brother to the greatly esteemed Hero, Nathaniel Rayfield. He was renowned to be especially adept as a highly skilled fighter and, like his brother, he too was quite young for his position (still well within his early twenties); nevertheless, he was more than qualified for his rank, priding himself as one of Argent Sol’s “top ten” most capable warriors.
Draped from head to toe in thick overlays of surprisingly lightweight armor, his arsenal was made up of a crossbow, battle axe, a tower shield and a pair of javelins… but most iconic of all was that large and imposing war hammer on his back. His pride and joy, it was an enchanted weapon forged partly with demon realm silver; its magical properties aside, the bits of silver granted the hammer with the ability to deplete (and sometimes nullify) an opponent’s mana supply, a natural bane to magic users.
But that wasn’t to say the war hammer was his only enchanted piece of armament, which it certainly was not. Years’ worth of savings from earnings gathered off bounties and warfare had granted the young paladin many opportunities to invest in specialized gear, and the younger Rayfield brother was very picky about what he wanted. Only the very best (of what he could afford) could please the man, and with time that’s exactly what he acquired.
Every piece of equipment that he carried (excluding his javelins) was enchanted in at least one way… but even that wasn’t enough. Looking down, a squadron of six mages was surrounding his horse, three flanking either side of the beast. It was their combined roles which made things even easier for Johnathan. Four of them were clerics who’s jobs were to heal and further enchant their leader, while the last two warlock-class mages covered him with offensive ranged support.
With this group alone backing him up, Johnathan had fought through countless hoards of monsters within the past few years… but that was before he had been promoted to paladin, and his duty of leading the assault on the front lines switched to that of remaining behind and defending the cities. It had been frustrating for the young knight, to be taken away from the fight. In the Order’s defense however, they had to. By keeping the most valuable and powerful individuals in their ranks away from the outer skirmishes, they drastically reduced the risk of having said individuals exposed to the corruptive influences of monsters and, in turn, losing them to those whorish inhuman women.
But now he was finally being sent back out into the field, and the young Rayfield could hardly wait to get back to the fray. Since the time of his new position, he’d tried to keep his skills sharp by sparring with his peers, but there was only so much he could obtain from trading blows with another human, let alone in sparring matches little more than morning exercises. He had missed the thrill of fighting monsters, even if he did always risk losing and becoming captured. At least in that case, he never had a dull moment… for he wasn’t required to hold back.
But nothing could have prepared him for this battle, enchanted gear and mage support be damned.
Shortly after his forces engaged the enemy, Johnathan had been one of the few to charge ahead despite the overwhelming odds, his shield and axe in hand as his support group remained behind to magically enhance both he and his Percheron, Cajole from afar. The strategy was the usual “plain-and-simple” one: become a unstoppable juggernaut through arcane enhancement and plow through the monster ranks.
Unlike his elder brother, who was a renowned strategist and legendary for his cunning, the paladin hated thinking in the middle of a fight; it was upsetting, and usually took the fun out of the skirmish… but that’s what his enchanted equipment and mage support was for. In Johnathan’s case, he was a master at preparation and utility, his collective armaments usually more than enough to handle any number of situations, and his support was there to give him the edge in anything else he might find himself at a disadvantage against.
But of course, there isn’t an answer to everything, especially in a situation like the present. The smaller army of humans was being not only pushed back but utterly dominated; for example, it usually took took up to two or even three human warriors to match the strength of the average monster, so they’d surely be at a disadvantage if their numbers were equal… but the human military was outnumbered. Not two-to-one, not even outmatched by three… it was nearly ten-to-one. This wasn’t a fight, nor a massacre.
It was outright annihilation.
Johnathan himself was able to hold his own, even managing to take out a few monster warriors from atop his horse, however it wasn’t long before a stray hit knocked him off his burly steed. Specifically, the “hit” came in the form of a rampaging ogre blindsiding him with a head-on charge, the green-skinned minor-giantess literally tackling the armored Percheron to the ground… a feat that should have been impossible, or so the paladin thought as he was flung across the battlefield until he somersaulted to a stop.
A bit dazed, the young knight was on his feet quickly and just in time to parry another incoming lunge with his shield. Sweeping the defensive armament away from his body in a wide arc, he also sidestepped to better deflect the charging ogress; his move struck the woman brutally across the face, sending her careening past him. Unfortunately, she did not fall but stumbled to a halt and shook her head, no doubt clearing it before glaring back at him with an angry leer.
She then gave a wicked smirk, and Johnathan groaned behind his helmet. This one was going to be rough… although, on the bright side he could probably handle her if he became serious. But that wasn’t his style, so instead he rapped his axe against his shield and raised the dual gear up towards the heavens: a signal to his distant mages that he was requesting magical assistance. His monster opponent took the strange pose as an invitation of mock challenge, snickering wildly as she went for a third charge. The paladin could only pity the poor girl, for she had no idea just what was about to happen.
Oddly enough, the only thing to happen was Johnathan enduring the full brunt of the monster’s attack, the air coughed from his lungs while perplexity engulfed his thoughts. Amidst crashing to the dirt with the ogress on top of him, he mentally demanded why his companions hadn’t enhanced him with their spells. Even as the girl now was making an effort to straddle the young knight, he just laid there as his head tried to process what had just occurred.
“Oi, don’ tell me that’s all ya got in there!” The woman above taunted with a big, fanged smirk stretching across her face as she jabbed a finger into his breastplate, revealing an evident giddiness despite her mildly annoyed tone. “Yer suppos’d ta be tough! Down ‘n just one hit? Ya some weaklin’ shit under all dat armor, or what?”
Johnathan was brought back into the moment by her words. While still wheezing from a lack of oxygen, he was otherwise fine… the enchanted suit that formed his armor made sure of that, among other things. Eyes blinked then focused through the slits in his visor, staring hard into the now mildly disappointed leer the green-skinned brute was giving him.
“Wutever, ‘s fun this way too,” she then smugly grinned with newfound enthusiasm, quickly leaning in to pry his helmet off with her mouth while pinning her prey’s arms and weapons down with her giant hands. “I’ll just make ya mah lil bitch, then!”
The ogre woman rose her ass to better reach forward, and Johnathan used the opportunity to knee her in the groin.
“GRUAAAH!” Howling in pain, she was then quickly shoved off. The young paladin was back on his feet a moment later, and would have moved in to finish the downed minor-giantess if he had not been so concerned about (and reasonably pissed off at) his mages. But then, upon looking back to where he last saw his group, the answers came flowing in the form of his worst possible fears.
The line had been overrun behind him, as had his allies; his mages specifically were currently involved in carnal relations with the enemy forces. Every man (and woman) from his squad had been stripped of their robes and were on the ground, each forcibly and mercilessly raped by several monsters at once.
The one bastard from among them who actually seemed to be enjoying himself had three of the creatures pleasuring him. The traitorous swine.
Johnathan then reached a significant, horrible realization, and that’s when he took another moment to examine his entire surroundings. All around, men and women, knights and wizards, the old and the young… all of them. Everywhere he could see around him, those that were human were being beaten down and mounted if they weren’t already drowning in the throes of passion. In nearly every case, more than a single monster joined forces with one of her sister comrades to dominate their new, helpless human lover.
“Retreat!” The paladin bellowed as loud as he could over the chaos, and waved to those still standing to hurry back to the city gate before he himself made a turn to run.
“FORGET ABOUT ME, FUCKER!?”
The ogress was back up. Johnathan had nearly forgotten about how resilient those of her species could be and too slowly reacted; his shield was seized by powerful hands, then, violently ripped away from him. The paladin was yanked nearly off balance from the move and stumbled after it, but managed to catch himself before he fell. Immediately afterward, a shadow loomed over him and a split-second glance upward showed his enemy, towering above and with his shield raised high overhead.
“THIS’S FOR MAH CUNT, ASSHOLE!!”
Panic ensued, but years’ of training and Johnathan’s instincts as a warrior saved him. His shield came crashing down upon him, but all it struck was the ground when the knight dove away in evasion; an explosion of dirt erupted from the point of impact, forming a cloud of debris between them. Johnathan coughed from the dust and stood back, watching until it cleared and his opponent was visible once again. When he finally did see her, frustration boiled within him as the ogress now had his shield held in front of her, idly examining the steel and insignia with keen interest.
“Hey!” The knight berated her, pointing at her with his axe. “The hell are you doing? That’s not yours, so don’t even think about it!”
His enemy just looked at him with a fixed stare. “Nah, I think I’m gonna keep it,” the green-skinned woman smirked. She then began dangling the oversized shield towards the paladin with only one hand—an impressive display of strength that even he had to admit—and goaded him. “Ya want this, lil’ bitch? Come an’ get it~!”
With a nerve struck, Johnathan took a step towards her before realizing something and stopping. That’s when he took another look at his surroundings and wallowed in despair. They were everywhere… monsters of varying sizes and shapes, and they all had begun forming a wall around him. He was surrounded and completely cut-off from the rest of the battle. By choosing to deal with this ogress, he had involuntarily sacrificed his one chance of retreat.
Of course, this was not the first time he had been in such a situation, but all those other times he had been augmented by his spellcasters… which he certainly was not this time around. There was also no possibility to receive any outside magical support, since his squad had already fallen prey to the monster horde. As the encircling mob crept in from every direction, Johnathan felt the weight of a hundred starving eyes overwhelm him, each pair belonging to an individual intent on taking him for their own.
It was now over for the knight… or so he thought.
To his astonishment, the incoming monsters halted all at once upon the ogress’s outcry. From among them he spied faces twisted in contempt and forlorn, but otherwise many others beheld a demeanor of excitement and lively anticipation; while not a one made a move for him specifically, the ogling audience did fan out. Creating a circular formation that enclosed the two warriors, Johnathan finally realized what was happening: it was an arena, and his opponent had issued a one-on-one duel between herself and the knight. Either she was still holding a grudge from his earlier cunt-punt, or she really wanted him for her personal use.
Or, gods forbid, both…
She grinned at the onlooking crowd, growing ecstatic as she then turned her attention back to her human adversary. “I still haven’ paid ya back fer that ‘love tap’ ya gave me, boi,” pearly white teeth glistened within her fanged sneer, “but don’ worry. If ya give me a good time, I might go easy on ya later when I start wreckin’ yer sorry pelvis!”
It was definitely both.
“Funny,” Johnathan smirked beneath his helmet, “because if I remember correctly, you have a bit of trouble staying on top.”
The ogre went silent as her face contorted into an angry scowl at the remark, and a crack of thunder resounded through the atmosphere with an approaching storm… odd, considering he didn’t see any storm clouds; regardless, the atmosphere of it all was as comical as it was intimidating for the young paladin.
“…Yer fucked.” She sneered.
Johnathan became keenly aware that now was the time to finally get serious.
With axe in hand, the paladin was the first to make a move, dashing headlong towards his larger opponent as his free hand reached for a javelin and readied it at his waist. The ogress waited for his approach, using the shield in a single-handed, inward sweep; Johnathan ducked as an overhead blast of wind indicated the blow’s passage, and he took the opportunity to take one of his javelins in his free hand and plunge it into the ogress’s side.
There was a roar of rage—more so than actual pain, Johnathan noted—as his strike connected. Keeping the head of his javelin embedded in flesh, he wrenched the base of its pole upwards, holding it against the monster’s shield arm to lock it in place while he drew back his axe for a second attack. Unsurprisingly, and much to the young knight’s dismay, his opponent was much stronger than he and, as a result, was able to effortlessly shove him off before he could do so.
Johnathan was able to keep his footing as he was thrown, but now one of his javelin’s was in the enemy’s hands… which the ogress was more than diligent to take advantage of. Uttering a mere grunt as she plucked the weapon from her side, she then wasted little time before taking aim and spearing it back towards its true owner. The paladin was quick to lean away in a dodge while simultaneously slashing upwards at the incoming projectile, knocking it out of the way… but he was too slow for what came next.
His gut exploded with pain and pressure as a sheet of enchanted metal knocked the experienced knight clean off his feet: the ogress had also thrown his shield at him, the hit connecting with dire severity. Johnathan rolled to a stop, his senses numbed despite his armor’s magical properties absorbing a good deal of the damage. Fortunately he kept from nearly blacking out, shaky limbs scrambling to get him back on his feet while holding the dented steel of his lower breastplate.
A howl of mock laughter erupted from his adversary as she watched his stance crumble to a bowed knee. “Serves ya right, asswipe,” she snarled amidst grinning teeth, now striding towards the broken human. “But I ain’t done wit’ ya yet…”
With an oversized hand she reached down and grabbed him by the helmet, unceremoniously yanking it off his head. “Now let’s see wut ya look like under… hah?”
Apparently she wasn’t ready for the youthful, unmarred face of a young man beneath that helmet. A head of mid-length hair framed a youthful complexion befitting of an older teenager, brilliant eyes staring daggers at the surprised monster.
“Wut?” She pondered aloud, a bit more than a few shared murmurs from amongst the surrounding crowd of onlookers as they too witnessed his features. “Yer just a kid? No wonder ya weak as fuck.”
Johnathan groaned in minor annoyance. He always had been proud of his younger appearance, despite looking a bit childish… but he was not too thrilled about having his enemy judge him based off that. As she spoke down at him, he reached a little further along his armor with the hand on his chest…
“Why don’t you say that closer to my face,” he challenged her, his tone dripping with venom. “I can’t hear you from up there.”
Taking the bait, the giant monster grew a malicious grin and lowered herself into a mild squat, stooping down upon the young knight until her nose was almost touching his.
“I said yer weak as fu-”
A violent crack resounded throughout the arena as the ogress was abruptly smacked in the jaw, the war hammer doing it’s job as the oversized brute of a woman was sent recoiling… but did not fall. Johnathan hadn’t expected her to, and as such was ready with another assault before she could even recover. The paladin full-on tackled her, successfully forcing the monster onto her back; she was quick to retaliate however, and threw an awkward punch in a blind fury. She was enraged, her face contorted into a look of unbridled anger as a throaty roar erupted from her mouth.
The hit dented another fraction of armor as it connected, but the human’s next attack was already coming down in the form of a two-handed hammer, the axe apparently discarded somewhere. Another violent sound made itself known as one of the monster’s horns snapped under the pressure, a deafening silence following the crashing noise of metal striking the bone of an ogre’s skull. Johnathan took the initiative to raise his war hammer to ready another hit, but stopped upon realizing that his adversary was out cold.
A moment passed as the surrounding troops of enemy lines stared on, evidently baffled while Johnathan rose to his feet and began rearming himself, his helmet the final piece to reacquire. He was exhausted, but forced himself to keep from revealing it to those around him. Now with the ogress out of commission, who knows what these monsters would do if they sensed he was weak, as drastically battered as he was.
“So, who’s fucking next?” He shouted to the masses, hoping to intimidate them.
What the paladin did not expect was a brief delay before the crowd suddenly erupted in a roar of thrill and excitement; more worrisome than that was the sight of monsters filled with not fear, but anticipation. Many warrior-class species of monster were quick to brandish their weapons at him, with lizardmen and salamanders exclusively being held back from outright dashing towards him by their comrades. His plan had obviously backfired, but why weren’t they all charging him at once?
Was the ogre’s “honor challenge” still valid, even after she fell? Did that in turn mean he was destined to keep fighting one-on-one matches until he cleared the entire hoard??? There was no way he could accomplish such a task, not as he was now… he’d surely fall from fatigue, and that’s when the opponent he’d be facing at the time would overcome him. This wasn’t a challenge of honor, but a tournament for monsters to see who could take home the last unclaimed human on the battlefield.
It was immensely demoralizing, but Johnathan still had enough pride to make these monsters earn their keep if they planned to make certain he was captured. Readying his shield and battle axe, he rapped the weapons together in a true gesture of challenge as the next opponent seemed already decided… or so he thought. At first, concern overwhelmed him as a whirlwind abruptly swirled into existence beside him, along with a trio of green-clad beastman.
They sported weasel-like ears and tails, and were each of differing heights and age yet shared a familial resemblance, as if related by blood. The pair of scythes attached to every one’s arms fueled Johnathan’s worries, and fearing he’d be fighting now three at once assumed a renewed battle stance… but he became confused slightly when the trio simply bowed towards him before ignoring him completely, focusing their combined attention upon the ogre woman on the ground.
These mysterious monsters must have been medics, the paladin deduced as the youngest of the “sisters” began to treat the ogress’s wounds with medicine and bandages while her elders hoisted the much larger brute and began to carry her away. Johnathan watched silently as the threesome vanished into the wall of monsters with his earlier opponent, hoping they didn’t bring her out of that mild coma anytime soon. The crowd regained his attention with their incessant howling and cheering, once again reminding the young knight that he was still in trouble.
Just who… or what, was gonna fight him next?
It was then a light, girlish chuckle caught his attention, it’s pitch discernible even amidst the audibly riotous monsters; the horde in turn began to quiet, all but the distinct giggling. It alone became the single remaining noise amidst the masses, and Johnathan turned his head towards the source. There, sitting perched upon the shoulders of an enormous minotaur was a little girl, legs kicking excitedly—every kick bounced against the woman’s gargantuan bust as she ogled him.
“Oga! Move closer,” the youngling urged, giving the minotaur a gentle slap on one of her horns and eliciting a look of bridled frustration from the brute as she obeyed. “I wanna get a better look at him!”
The duo were both silent as they made a leisurely approach, the child on top gazing intently at the paladin in front of her while her mount wordlessly did as she was told. “Oga” halted a single stride’s distance away, her sheer size towering over Johnathan. She was much, much taller than he, intimidating the young knight with a height which exceeded three meters (nearly eleven feet tall) that just about doubled his drastically shorter stature.
As the behemoth of a woman leered down at him with relative disinterest, the tiny girl sitting on her raised an arm and waved it enthusiastically at the paladin.
“Hi, ‘nii-chan’!” She called down to him, a wide, toothy grin plastered on her face all the while. He was unfamiliar with the term she used to address him, and so promptly ignored it. “You’re pretty strong, huh? Didn’t think anyone around here could best the captain like that…” her face then took on a vile, uncomfortably lewd expression as she went on. “Shame you didn’t knock her up after knocking her out, if you know what I mean~.”
‘Was he being taunted by some goblin now?’ Johnathan thought to himself, letting out an annoyed sigh. ‘What even is she anyway?’
By what he could see from behind the minotaur’s giant head and horns, he was only able to recognize a lithe, immature body of a relatively human girl, clad in a pair of metal pauldrons—these in particular had iron goat skulls mounted upon them—and steel chausses which reached only below the knees; no vambraces or other signs of armor could be seen, her arms, lower legs and feet left entirely bare. A mildly tanned, olive complexion nicely contrasted the silvery sheen of her armor, as well as the girl’s extremely long, jet-black hair and (most notably) her vibrant, golden eyes.
“Hm~? What, no retort?” She inquired after a lack of response from Johnathan. “I wasn’t expecting you to be the strong, silent type, what with that ‘invitation’ you gave after pounding the captain into submission and all.”
The Paladin decided to humor this imp-like pervert with idle chat; she was important, that much was obvious to the knight. If such were not the case, the other monsters would not be so well-behaved and quiet in her presence. “So, you must be of high rank?”
“Only when I decide to join the fun, cutie,” she winked in response, tongue poking out in tandem… perhaps to magnify the charm of the simple act, Johnathan guessed. He was left a bit confused over her choice of phrasing, but refused to dwell on it. Not lowering his guard, he inquired further.
“Then this minotaur… Oga was it?” The knight pressed on, earning a cocked eyebrow from the monster in question while eliciting a delighted giggle from the girl.
“Oh my!” The latter announced teasingly as she placed a hand on her cheek. “Addressing a girl by her first name after only just meeting! And you haven’t even given her yours yet… such a naughty boy, aren’t you?”
Johnathan promptly ignored the accusation and continued. “Are you choosing her to be my next opponent?”
“Hrmm…” the dark-haired loli pondered over-expressively, stroking her chin between her index finger and thumb in mock thought. “Normally that’d be the case, seeing as she’s this joint’s commander and all… but~, I think she makes for a much better mount, wouldn’t you say?”
She lurched a few times in a hopping motion, emphasizing her point and causing the minotaur to silently fume with a contorted face of pure resentment. “She’s just so big and tall… and look! Her overly huge milk bags are actually good for something!” The girl suddenly began to bounce her feet against the bull-woman’s mammaries. “Foot rests!”
The knight was left genuinely surprised that Oga hadn’t by now reached up and strangled the brat. This unknown species of monster must have had a reasonably strong presence of authority if it was enough to keep a minotaur’s rage in check.
“If not her,” Johnathan began, obviously referencing the larger of the two, “then who is it you want me to fight? I have a feeling you all want this tournament of sorts to continue, and I know you’re not planning on letting me go…”
“Who indeed!” Grinned the inhuman child, hands grabbing hold of the minotaur’s horns as her golden stare gave the surrounding horde a once over. It was hardly an inspection, hinting that she already had a decision in mind. “Well, let’s see~. We could have one of those eager-looking lizardmen give you a round, but I doubt any of them could beat you… and we all know what happens when a lizard gets dominated in a fight, don’t we?”
So that was why their comrades had been quick to keep any of them from entering the arena, Johnathan realized. Otherwise, he gave no answer, simply waiting patiently as the girl went on.
“A living armor might be a good match, now that I think of it,” she surmised before leaning forward to look downward at the minotaur, now addressing her. “Hey, Oga! You got any of those? Y’know, those walking knights with nothing inside or something? You got one of those, right? What about a cursed sword?”
There was a quiet, drawn out sigh before her answer came in the form of an brief “no”.
“Boo…! You’re no fun, Oga,” she whined her complaint while taking a fist and gently grinding it atop her mount’s head, effectively giving her a noogie.
“Pleased to be of service,” the monstrous woman replied angrily through grit teeth. Seriously, how the hell was she still in control of herself?
Johnathan decided it was time that the imp-like child came clean. “Just tell me who I’m fighting already. This is a waste of time.”
The smile on the girl’s face drooped into a frowning pout at his words. “So many party poopers today,” she muttered, purposely loud enough for the human to hear. “Fine, I’ll tell you who you’re gonna fight. Oga! Fetch me a sword or something…”
“Wait,” the paladin announced suddenly. “I’m… my opponent is you?”
“Duh,” the long-haired loli replied over her shoulder as Oga turned around and lumbered back towards the direction they had initially come from, and approached a suddenly nervous orc who was wielding a mid-sized arming sword. Following an outstretched hand and the order of “give me your weapon” by Oga, the smaller monster fearfully yet grudgingly surrendered the blade, which was taken by the towering minotaur who then raised it up to the girl on her shoulders. The latter took the sword in her hands, appraising it briefly.
“Eh. Good enough.”
The duo turned back towards the waiting knight, but instead of approaching him Oga stooped down instead, taking a knee before the girl riding her jumped down to the ground.
“I don’t…” Johnathan hesitated, almost failing to come up with the right words. “You’re only just a child.”
“Aww, what’s the matter? Afraid to hit a little girl~?” She goaded the knight as she gave her weapon a few experimental, pitifully displayed swings. Her tone suddenly darkened as she then added, “I am much older than I look by the way… boy.”
The look she gave him with that last sentence sent an unexpected chill down the young knight’s spine, and Johnathan considered that she might be a bit more than what appearances suggested.
“Then I guess that means I don’t have to hold anything back,” he told her, readying a new battle stance.
“Oh, please be gentle with me,” she replied with a suggestive wink, raising the sword to her mouth and dragging her tongue along the flat of the blade, “it’s my first time.”
And with that she began to dart forward, sword raised comically above her head and giggling all the while. Johnathan couldn’t recognize her as anything but a little kid with this approach, but he was determined to see past this deceptive front of hers. She was influential over the entire horde, and not even a minotaur seemed to dare appose her direct prodding and agitating. Was she one of the accursed cultists? A witch, maybe? It would certainly explain her immature body if her claim of age was actually true, for that category of occult monsters usually appeared to be cursed to a child-like form.
However, if she was a witch then why was she running towards him with nothing but a sword…?
“En garde!” The boisterous pipsqueak hollered as she swung her blade at him in a downward angle.
Johnathan still couldn’t look over the fact that he was fighting a child, but instinct kicked in when her seemingly harmless attack came for him and he naturally evaded with a sidestep and parry, striking the potential hit away with his shield. The paladin was caught completely off his guard when an explosion of dirt and dust occurred when the sword struck the ground, the debris enveloping him.
Shell-shocked from the event, the young knight leapt backward into an evasive roll; standing to his feet while sharp, panicked eyes stared deeply into the abyss of dust clouds, he wondered desperately what in this world of monsters and magic had just happened. Eventually the dust settled, and standing in the midst of the previous chaos was the little girl, giggling up a fit as the tip of her arming sword was submerged in a small crater.
“Oopsie~,” she laughed aloud, eyeing the knight with a look of feigned innocence, “I might’ve gotten a bit too carried away there. You’re not hurt, are you?”
As expected, she wasn’t a pushover after all.
“I’m fine,” Johnathan grunted, replying mainly on reflex as he repositioned himself.
“Oh hoh~,” the girl cocked an eyebrow at him, appraising him with her golden stare. “You still wanna play with me, huh?”
Confirming her suspicion with the strike of a reformed battle pose, shield raised close and axe lagging behind, he couldn’t help but ask, “what’s your species?”
The childish omen seemed quite talkative, perhaps she’d be willing to answer a question or two. It’d help to know your enemy in any fight, after all.
“Wouldn’t you like to know~?” She grinned wildly, ripping the edge of her blade from its resting place before twirling the weapon in her hand; her lack of making an obvious, suggestive comeback briefly surprised the knight. “I’d tell you, but then you wouldn’t wanna play anymore… and then I’ll be bored again.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” The young man pondered aloud, more to himself than her.
“Well, if you rea~lly wanna know…” she hinted, dragging her tongue across the exposed teeth of her fanged smirk, “you’ll just have to… dominate me.”
Ever since the start, this girl’s suggestive looks and all-around lewdness had been grating. Sure, the knight was no stranger to such catcalling as he’d received as such from near every monster he’d faced… but this particular case had left him cringing. Of course, her teasing hadn’t been too provocative (in comparison to most others), but it was all coming from what appeared to be a human child. To witness this level of eroticism from such a source was greatly unsettling, and her antics were beginning to become unbearable.
Another rumble of thunder echoed from the distant sky, reminding the young man of the supposedly arriving storm. It sounded as if the thunder was booming from directly over them, but still there had yet to be any sort of billowing clouds. Oddities aside, he knew he’d have to make this quick else risk getting caught in the possible rain; he was not fearful of it, but he was deterred about fighting on unstable, muddy terrain within an environment that would obscure his vision.
His monster adversaries would not have as much of a disadvantage when it came to such natural hazards. Some even thrived in them.
“Tell ya what, big brother,” the girl called out to the knight, who involuntary shuddered at being labeled such a thing; he knew the term was used in a sexual nature among the younger monster groups, especially to those of the Sabbath and their witch cults…
Wait, the Sabbath?
“If you can land one hit on me,” she continued as his brain dug desperately to recall something of significant importance, “then I’ll tell you what I am! Just o~ne little hit! What do you say?”
The mystery was already being unraveled. Johnathan had done little research on the Sabbath, but he knew of a handful of races which exclusively participated in it. Witches and their familiars—be they human or the actual monster species—primarily made up the vast majority of their members, but there was a single race who stood at the top and led the rest: baphomet. He knew them to be a terribly feared monster, boasting incredible feats in both the physical and arcane arts, but apart from that they were more a mystery than anything to the paladin.
Was that what he was fighting now? A leader of that occult gathering?
“You’re a baphomet, aren’t you?”
Voicing his mind very clearly proved his prediction to be spot-on, as his opponent suddenly lost the smile on their face, their jaw dropping agape while gold eyes stared at the knight, an incredulous air about her.
“WHAAAAT!?” She exclaimed, her calm demeanor broken. “How’d you alread- …Oh?”
The girl cut her own demand short as Johnathan rushed forward, cutting the distance between them in seconds; reengaging her, he made to shove forward with a shield bash, but just missed the hit when she dodged backwards at the last second.
“And yet you still wish to fight?” She announced in evident disbelief, the childish act now absent from her tone. A second strike — a vertically diagonal slash from his battle axe — homed in on her. A giddy, fanged smirk stretched across her face when she avoided it, the axehead cut through the now empty space to her right. “How promising~.”
She didn’t blink when Johnathan spun with the missed swing, rotating his body with his newly raised shield in tow, ready crash it down upon the baphomet… but he was startled when she effortlessly deflected it with a deceptively leisure slap that forced the paladin spinning further. Once more trying to use his momentum to his advantage, he reached out with his axe hand as it came upon the girl, but Johnathan was again surprised when he was grabbed by the wrist and witnessed his entire world flip upside down.
The baphomet had twisted around and thrown him over her shoulder!
Landing hard on his back, even his armor couldn’t absorb the full impact; his lungs nearly caved in, and he wheezed a cough before he noticed a child’s naked foot hovering over his face. A cloud of dust erupted where his head had been a mere second earlier, the knight successful in evading with a roll that brought him back to his feet. Still lightly dazed from being thrown, he almost failed to block the girl’s blade — she had been quick with a follow-up attack.
The iron of that crudely forged blade creaked against the enchanted, hardened steel of his shield as Johnathan found himself being pushed back.
“It isn’t every day that I am confronted by a man of such valor, who does not falter from the mere reveal of my inhuman nature,” the girl praised, her increasingly cheery tone exposing her growing excitement; she was effortlessly shoving him along, the stark contrast in their differing size and weight doing nothing to tip the odds in the paladin’s favor.
“Truly a rare specimen… I like you. After you fall, I may just keep you for myself.”
“Who says I’m gonna fall!?” Johnathan growled, throwing his shield to the side—taking the baphomet’s weapon with it—and delivering a kick to her gut.
Despair threatened to creep into his demeanor when he realized she had once more thwarted his attack, using her free hand to hold the suspended foot in her palm.
“So you’re telling me,” the little raven-haired monster knowingly inquired, a hint of genuine perplexity in her words, “that you honestly think you have a chance? … Do you not know what a baphomet is, boy?”
She then snatched his ankle into her hand, proceeding to yank it—and in turn the rest of the off-balanced knight—towards her. Johnathan tried to react, but his smaller opponent moved too fast with a follow-up; the inhuman child ducked in towards him, throwing a single punch… and with an explosion of rent metal and imploding magic, the young man found himself soaring backwards. His back hit the wall of monsters, violently knocking into and through a few members of the mob.
Abruptly stunned by the event, he merely allowed things to progress as the frantic horde around him tried desperately to gather their wounded and reorganize itself, a pair of individuals taking the time to return him to the arena; one was an angry amazoness that handled him roughly, while his second escort was a rather timid beastman—the shortest member belonging to the sisterly trio from earlier—who was worriedly checking him over as she helped walk him along.
Obviously hiding her efforts from the growling amazon woman, the girl seemed to be sneaking a few dabs of some kind of ointment into a few of the wounds on his newly exposed chest. Undoubtedly, the substance was medical in nature, and as such the paladin would have been appreciative that this particular member of the enemy forces was willing to help, but his mind was on something else.
His breastplate had been totally fractured from the baphomet’s assault; the armor segment was hardly in one piece after just one direct hit, a fact which had shaken Johnathan more than the initial blow. He was dealing with something possibly dragon level if it was able to shatter through the reinforced combination of both hardened steel and high-tier protection enchantments…
Was this what made baphomets so terrifying? This absurdly monumental strength?
“Just so you know, big brother,” the distant being of whom he faced called out to him, “that was just a love tap.”
The knight’s inhuman cohorts planted him back on his feet in the arena, the amazonian monster nearly shoving him along while the much smaller beastgirl tentatively let him be—although before doing so, she resupplied him with the equipment he’d dropped during his collision with the crowd—before offering him a hasty bow and joining up with the former mini-giantess as she made her way back into the crowd.
Johnathan just stood in place, trying to ignore the throbbing, aching pain all throughout his body as he attempted to weigh his options. He had been bleeding from several wounds, but nothing was too severe… perhaps a purposeful mercy on the baphomet’s part. That punch should have caved in on his chest before any sort of rupture would have been able to occur, yet even as he examined himself he could plainly see that his hardly intact armor had its fractured, metal plating flayed outwards… in the clearly opposite direction from how it should have imploded.
It was like the explosion happened from within, the overall force bursting out from underneath. Was it the result of a trick? Magic? There had been absolutely no sign of a spell being cast, so what could it have been? If it was indeed a spell, then could she bypass the incantation process? Should that be the case, then even if this monster was restricted to using low level spells…
“Are you just gonna stand there all day?” The baphomet girl complained from the center of the arena. “You shouldn’t keep a girl waiting, especially after you’ve gotten her all hot and bothered! C’mon~! I’m practically dripping with anticipation over here!”
She was truly terrifying, this girl… and increasingly nauseating, above all else.
“D-do you have to be so—” The paladin started, cutting himself off to endure a sudden, sharp pain in his lungs before he finished his inquiring rebuked of her. “V-vulgar!?”
A number of monsters from among the surrounding mob erupted into riotous hoots and hollers, some giggling and catcalling. His opponent herself laughed along with them.
“So long as you give me reason to be, cutie~!”
“I’ve done no such thing this entire time!” He argued, exasperated.
“Oh, I’m afraid your mere existence itself is giving me more than enough reason~…” the inhuman child told him confidently. “I mean, just look at you, exuding all of that lovely, delicious manliness… keep that bravado of yours up, and I just might faint if I don’t soak myself in excitement first~!”
Johnathan blanched with illness beneath his helmet. No woman should be saying such things, but to hear it all come from a mere child’s lips was sickening. Of course, she wasn’t a child, certainly no human woman… but it was difficult to ignore that underdeveloped form of hers was not her true form. It couldn’t have been, not if she was a baphomet. Older memories had resurfaced since he’d discovered the monster girl’s species, and with those memories came certain details he recalled regarding the baphomet’s physical form.
“Don’t you… have a true form or something you can change into?” He questioned breathlessly, only to groan with irritation in response to the answer he received.
The girl gave him a surprised look, if only to then cover herself with her hands in a show of feigned embarrassment.
“O-oh my! Do you really want me to expose myself like that!? How shameless! Pervert!”
He winced as another round of sharp pain shot through his chest, and the paladin became worried about the potential of an internal injury. Every other intake of breath was starting to hurt more considerably, and he gave a mental prayer for there not to be any ruptured organs or inner bleeding.
While he had a feeling he wasn’t about to escape his fate as yet another captured soldier on the battlefield, dying wasn’t exactly how he wanted to go… not if he could help it.
“Hey… you okay over there?” The little girl asked aloud, blinking a bit in evident confusion. “You’re looking a little… out of it.”
“I-I’m fine, bitch…” Johnathan snapped, himself surprised by the amount of venom she spat at her. It probably had to do with the pain. “I mean… let’s just get on with this…!”
He raised his axe, but it wavered… quite noticeably.
“No,” the baphomet replied, her voice adopting a strangely serious tone. “You’re not fine. You’re faltering… and running on adrenaline, aren’t you?”
“Wha— Shut up already!” Johnathan berated her. “I don’t need you to tell me what I’m… Fuck it!”
The young knight made a dash for her, nearly stumbling on his way… but he failed to make a few meters before his opponent abruptly vanished, followed by the sensation of a cool, sharp edge of ethereal steel running along the base of his throat.
“Just go to sleep for now, cutie. I’ll have somebody patch you up later… then we can have some more fun~.”
And with a single swipe of the scythe’s blade at his neck, the paladin’s world faded into nothingness…