Chapter 35: The Night-Gaunt
Deep within the frozen earth, underneath the crystalline palace of the Ice Queen, Annabelle, Alexandra, Yuurazha, Trixie, and Persephone sat within a dungeon contemplating how best to break free. Annabelle, Alexandra, and Trixie sat within a large cell decorated rather too well for a dungeon, with tapestries and wooden furniture adorned along the far wall. Across from the wall with tapestries were the bars which, though made of ice, were enchanted to be much stronger.
Beside them, was Persephone and Yuurazha’s cell, which rather than opening up to bars, was sealed with solid ice along all four walls, though it was clear enough to see through. Yuurazha attempted multiple times to break free of the prison, reshaping her body into various tools to do so. But no matter what the tool, ice-pick, drill, hammer, or a barrage of mace-like protrusions, the ice held firm.
Beside her, Persephone was still frozen.
Trixie flew back and forth within her cell with a small hand scratching her chin in thought, Alexandra attacking the bars in a fury and unleashing a great torrent of fire every few seconds. Annabelle only sat quietly, looking morose.
Trixie looked at Alexandra, irritated as the chimera let loose another barrage at the bars in a futile attempt.
“Will you stop that? All it does is make a lot of noise!”
The chimera looked at the devil with her mismatched eyes and snarled.
“At least I’m doing something! What are you doing?”
“I’m trying to think of a way out of here! But a certain bonehead keeps making a racket!”
Annabelle spoke up, her soft voice cutting through the two’s heated exchange.
“Don’t fight. Save your energies. Alexandra, Trixie is only trying her best to use her greatest strength to help us. Trixie, Alexandra is doing the same. Respect each other. Lady Delilah entrusted us with this mission. We shouldn’t disappoint her.”
Alexandra spat on the floor.
“Forget the mission! That giant prissy jerk is probably hopping David’s bones by now! That overgrown skank!” She punched the bars in front of her, her draconic mismatched blue and green eyes furrowed in fury.
Trixie rolled her eyes.
“Yeah it sucks she got to him first, but its not like she’ll keep him all to herself. Even if she wanted to. You really think Lady Delilah didn’t do the dirty on him on their journey? Use your head, pea-brain! This is why Alex should have stayed in charge. Or maybe Alexis could have come out, but noooo, we get the dumb dragon throwing a hissy fit.”
The chimera roared and threw a fireball at the diminutive devil, who deftly deflected it with a reddish spell in the shape of a circle. Annabelle only sighed, knowing that her efforts to calm them were in vain.
Yuura, meanwhile, was sitting on a bench provided within her cell, staring at the still frozen form of Persephone. She had tried breaking the ice which sealed their prison, and she had tried to find an opening to allow her to slip through with her slime-like body. But the prison they had chosen for her was sealed completely shut, the door invisible once closed, it sealed so well.
They had been smart to separate them as they had. If Alexandra was here, or even Trixie, they might have been able to melt the undine and allow David to escape on his own, his powers returned to him. Yuura couldn’t generate heat, sadly, though she could resist the cold well enough she had never considered that a problem until now.
So she sat, listening to the muffled arguments between Alex and Trixie. Though she supposed the chimera had cycled to one of her other personalities if she was rampaging so hard. Alex was mature enough not to do that.
Yuura had figured out a few hours ago that her rampage wasn’t working. The ice the palace was made of was self-repairing, and strong enough that she was sure it was enchanted in some way. It resisted melting by Alex, and Trixie’s spells weren’t enough to damage it.
She could only think of one way out of this, but she really didn’t want to do it.
She already had over seven different rivals for her master’s heart. She did not want to summon another. Ophelia, Delilah, Arsa, Calypso, Alex, Annabelle, Lakshmi, Persephone, Nona, and Trixie. She had been keeping careful count of how many monsters wanted to claim him, and the number only seemed to grow. That wasn’t uncommon among monsters, but Yuura didn’t want to exacerbate the problem by adding fuel to the fire.
Yet all she could think of was to call on a dear friend from the Underworld. Not Arsa, she wouldn’t be able to respond being so far away. But they were currently within a remote mountain range that Yuura was quite familiar with. She had once lived under a mountain very near here and had many friends from before she joined with Delilah.
But she also knew that no matter who answered her call, they’d want to be with her master as a reward.
She sighed and leaned over to the wall next to her friends’ cell.
“How long have we been in here?”
Though her voice was muffled, her compatriots heard her. Annabelle answered as Alex and Trixie began fighting again.
“It’s been 23 hours. Possibly a full 24 by now, I stopped counting.”
Yuura groaned, not liking that answer at all. If they stayed here, the likelihood that the Chalice would be taken was incredibly high. The chances that the Ice Queen had taken David was even higher. No, it was a certainty. The Ice Queen had been pierced with a cupid’s black arrow. She was undoubtedly as needy and aroused as a common monster, her frozen mana thawed by Annabelle.
Yuura thought it almost poetic that if they had simply left the Ice Queen be, they would have succeeded already and been on their way. They had loosed an arrow at their own foot. She slouched with her face in her hand as she realized that one more woman wouldn’t hurt her chances. She’d just have to hope for the best.
She leaned against the transparent ice separating her from her companions and spoke.
“I have an idea.”
Trixie flew over to her with a skeptical look on her face.
“What’s your idea? Wait for rescue?”
“Don’t be mean!” spat Alex, still upset at the Devil.
“That isn’t the worst idea, you know.” Said Annabelle
Yuura shook her head.
“No, its not to wait. We’ve waited long enough already. I can summon another monster from the Underworld, one who can help us.”
“You can summon other monsters, and you’re just telling us now?!” Trixie screeched, the frustration obvious in her voice.
“It doesn’t work like what you’re thinking. Its more like I’m calling out to them. She’ll come if she’s close enough to hear it. It may not work, and I won’t know who exactly will answer the call.” Yuura fidgeted, uncomfortable. “Also… she’ll undoubtedly want to take part of Master as payment. I was hoping we’d find another way, so we didn’t have to add another one. But… I guess we couldn’t find a way.”
While Annabelle and Alex nodded, sharing her concern, Trixie beamed, unperturbed.
“Well shucks! Don’t worry about that! Delilah’s probably turned Ophelia into a bicorn about now! David’ll have enough love for all of us, heck, he won’t even have a choice. I met bicorns before, and they can be real pushy about letting all their friends in on the fun.”
Yuura was unaware of any such plans.
“That was Lady Delilah’s plan then?”
“Heck yeah! Sharing is caring and all that.”
Alex, Annabelle, and Yuura took the information in, each responding in different ways. Alex was the one to accept it with a smile, commenting that she was going to end up sharing any husband she had anyway, since she had four personalities within her. Annabelle seemed contemplative, before asking if Lakshmi would also be joining. Trixie nodded, a smile on her face. Yuura was sure Arsa would join in. And that thought made her happy. But she did wonder…
“Would anyone here rather take another man down in Vasherton? I imagine its going to get crowded. It might be nice to have one man to yourself rather than share amongst so many.”
None of them spoke a word at Yuura’s suggestion. After a few moments, Annabelle spoke up, curious.
“Do you want someone else, Yuura?”
Yuura shook her head.
“No. The night Arsa and I broke David out of prison, I knew we were destined to be together. He’s my Master. And I’ll be by his side no matter who he chooses, or how many wives he has. But… well, I have to confess I feel as if I’ll get lost in the crowd if this harem grows too large. Which is why I hesitate to bring in even more. I wonder if he’ll have time for me as it is. I have no doubt the Ice Queen is now a part of our circle.”
Alex nodded her head in agreement.
“Yeah, I can see that being a problem. It already has…” she began counting on her fingers. “12? Yeah, 12 if we’re counting queenie. Yikes! That’s… that’s pretty big.”
“Pssh.” Trixie waved her hand in a dismissive gesture, “Ya’ll are worrying too much. It’ll be fine! ‘Sides, if it gets to be a problem we’ll just buy more potion of shadow. That’ll solve it all fine and dandy.”
Yuura wasn’t convinced.
“Maybe.” She muttered. Yuura didn’t mind sharing with Arsa, they had planned on that when they were little. She just never expected to have to share with this many.
“Look,” Trixie said, reading the mood, “We can talk about this later, when we aren’t all locked up and stuff. Do your little summoning so we can get out of here and complete our mission. Then maybe we can talk about cleaning the roster.”
Yuura nodded and backed away from the wall and went back to the middle of her cell. Snow covered the floor, and with a single pointed finger, Yuura began to draw. A large concentric circle soon began to take shape with strange and eldritch runes dotting and intersecting several lines of the circles.
When she was done, she moved to the center, her amorphous body able to glide over the snow without disturbing the drawing she had just completed.
Then, her many eyes began to radiate an eerie light that seemed to make all other light dim. Her tentacles began to undulate in erratic fashion and her form began to quiver. She opened her mouth to let out a scream, before a long slimy purple tongue erupted from her maw. The sight began to terrify her compatriots, who stared wide-eyed in their cell with looks of horror.
Yuurazha’s mouth split open completely and her tongue wrapped around her head before the whole gelatinous mass reformed into her usually beautiful self. Her body twisted around in horrid unnatural shapes, bending her arms in ways not possible for those creatures with bone and flesh. It seemed as if her skin split apart, her black oozing innards wrapping around her body as if they were ropes before melting back into slime.
Her body then began to form into a more human shape, her usual dark mass that trailed behind her waist like a dress forming into two legs, and the stringy film that usually adorned her head spread out into individual strings of slime resembling hair. The ghostly green orbs within her increased their light as she threw her head back and began speaking in a voice so unlike her natural melodious timbre that it seemed another creature entirely was speaking. The other three covered their ears, the sounds she uttered being so strange and unnerving as to disquiet them and fill them with nausea.
Yuura finished the last syllable with a burst of light coming forth from the two orbs that acted as her primary eyes. A gust of wind racked the cell, despite no openings, and swirled the snow into a small flurry, erasing the intricate drawings Yuura had created. As the light faded from her eyes, her form returned to normal, and she gave out a heavy sigh.
Annabelle and Trixie’s eyes were as wide as saucers, not expecting such a terrifying display from the normally meek woman.
“What was that?” Alex asked, incredulous.
“That was a psychic message. We monsters of the Abyss have ancient magics passed down to us for generations. Any other creature of the Abyss within a certain mile radius will hear my message. Hopefully there’s someone out there to hear it, and they decide to help.”
“Well whatever it was, let’s not do it again.” Quipped Trixie.
Yuura laughed softly. Sometimes she forgot how others perceived such things. She wondered if Master would have felt the same?
Annabelle stood up and huddled her white coat closer to her.
“What did you say, Yuura?”
“I said that I was trapped in the Ice Queen’s palace, in her dungeons, and that fire didn’t work. I said that I had others with me, and the ice is magically infused. I… also said that I had a man I could share if anyone helped. I wish I didn’t have to include that, but those of the Underworld won’t usually help anyone without incentive.”
The four of them spoke at length for a while after Yuura’s bizarre ritual, and occasionally Alexandra would relinquish her hold on her body to allow the other three personalities within her room to speak.
However, after a while, all of them began to feel the siren call of sleep, the excitement and fury of the past day finally fading. Even for monsters, with their high levels of energy, tire eventually. So one by one, they fell asleep. Trixie was the first one, followed by Annabelle, and then Alex. Yuura was the last one to sleep, her strange physiology allowing her to stay awake far longer than most other creatures.
The dungeons were silent as the four companions slept, and Persephone remained frozen. The entire palace was largely silent, the staff and queen now occupied in their bed chambers, and the intruder long gone. But where the human had escaped, another had taken her place.
Deep within the earth, in a large cavern barely a mile from the Ice Queen’s palace, lurked a creature black as midnight and as silent as the grave. It crawled along the passage ways, heading steadily towards the surface, beckoned by Yuurazha’s call.
It broke through the surface in the quite of night, tunneling easily through the snow, and came finally into the light of the pale silvery moon. Its skin was a glossy black, smooth and rubbery. Great bat-like like wings and a long whip-like tail adorned it, as well as great twisted horns, all the same texture as its skin. In fact, the creature had but the one texture throughout its body, as if it were all made of one substance. Its claws, on both hand and foot shone with that same smoothness.
Like all monsters, it bore a feminine mystique, its naked body in the shape of a comely woman despite the odd texture of the skin. A waifish waist and flared hips led to two long curvaceous legs that ended in two feet that stood on two clawed toes.
But the most curious thing about her, was her face. Or rather, her lack of one. Where a face ought to be, there was only smooth unblemished skin.
Despite this, the odd creature was very easily able to see the snowy landscape stretched out before it. It looked about, unbothered by the cold, and spotted the Ice Queen’s Palace in the distance, lit by the moon and stars. With an unfurling of wings it lifted off, its glossy black body giving off a bluish-purple sheen as it did so.
Its flight was silent, and against the night sky, it appeared nearly invisible, only the occasional blotting out of a star giving away that something flew overhead.
It entered the castle from one of the tall towers’ windows, again making no noise. Within seconds, it left the room it had entered and flew down the hallway like a shadow cast by the moon. It did not waste any time in navigating the palace, easily able to track down the source of the psychic call. The palace corridors were bereft of sentries, a cacophony of moans behind a closed door giving a clue as to their whereabouts.
It found its way to the dungeons amazingly quickly, half-flying and half running in a curious loping gait. In barely any time at all it stood in front of Yuurazha’s cell, observing the sleeping shoggoth with a tilted head.
It peered over to the cell beside it, spying Alexandra, Trixie, and Annabelle. It paused briefly, as if to contemplate the fact that there were so many different species of monster in one place.
After a few moments, its smooth glossy black skin rippled, and split away, revealing it to be a strange slime-like liquid, covering a pale white flesh underneath. It still covered most of her, but a small seam unraveled over her right arm, where she pulled out a scroll.
With a flick of her wrist, she opened up the scroll, revealing circular patterns of a strange and eldritch design, and writings of an esoteric language along the edges of the symbols. She placed globs of her black goo on the four edges and stuck the scroll onto the icy wall of Yuurazha’s prison.
After a few scant moments, steam began pouring off the scroll as the runes etched on it glowed a vibrant blue. In a flash, the scroll burst into flame and behind it, there was a rectangular hole in the ice. Along the edges a glowing misty blue light curled off the smooth edges of the hole, slowly growing and increasing the size of it. In a few scant minutes, a doorway had been created in Yuurazha’s prison and the silent visitor slipped inside.
The creature spared a glance at the frozen Persephone, before she laid a hand on Yuurazha’s sleeping shoulder.
Yuura woke up with a start, fully alert. However, as she laid her eyes on the curious creature now in her cell, her expression turned to one of joy as she leapt upon the strange woman and hugged her close. The creature in turn returned the embrace.
“Nyx! By the Abyss I didn’t expect you to answer my call!”
The demonic looking creature tilted its horned head, and the slick faceless features melted away as the black slimy goo receded from her head, revealing an expressionless white-blue skinned woman with long lustrous black hair.
“Hello Yuura. Who are your friends?”
“Its been a long time! Arsa and I joined the Overlord’s Army, these are my compatriots.”
“I take it they need rescuing too?”
“Yes. We all do. As well as the man mentioned in my message.”
Nyx nodded once in understanding, removing more scrolls from the black oily substance that coated her body.
“Where did you get those?” asked Yuura
Nyx, the mysterious demonic creature from the Underworld smiled at her old friend.
“I’ve learned many ancient magics. I was surprised to hear your call. Its felt like ages.”
“How many years has it been?”
Nyx didn’t answer, but instead placed a scroll identical to the one she used previous on the wall facing Alexandra, Trixie, and Annabelle. The scroll did its work, creating a doorway in the ice. Nyx walked through before Yuura placed a hand on her shoulder.
Nyx nodded her head and stepped aside, allowing Yuura to pass by.
The shoggoth gently woke her companions with a tap on their shoulders. The three woke slowly and groggily from their slumber, none of them prepared for such a quick rescue.
Trixie yawned cutely as Yuura patted her awake. “Wha-What’s going on?”
“Yuura’s friend is here” Annabelle said, stretching her arms.
The little devil shot a cock-eyed stare at the odd new inhabitant.
“You look a little like a demon.”
Nyx did not respond to Trixie, simply standing there.
Trixie stretched languidly as she flew up to Nyx’s face, scratching her chin.
“So what’s your name?”
Yuura smiled behind them as Alex woke up with a pat to her head.
“She doesn’t talk much, Trixie. She’s a bit like Annabelle in a way.”
Trixie gave a pout, and crossed her arms.
“Great, that’s just what we need, another tall and silent type. Well c’mon then, let’s get Persephone and go. Don’t know how long we’ve been here, gotta go get David and save the day.”
As Trixie flew past Nyx, and into the other chamber, she answered the little devil’s question.
“I am Nyx. I am a night-gaunt.”
“Pray tell, what manner of monster be a night-gaunt?” asked Alexandra as she brushed her hair with her paw.
Alexandra had woken up with Alex’s lion personality, apparently the only one willing to get up so early.
Annabelle was woken by Yuura as Alexandra, Trixie, and Nyx the night-gaunt made their way out of the chamber to collect the frozen Persephone.
“A night-gaunt is what I am.” Replied Nyx.
Alex picked up Persephone as the others gave Nyx a curious look before turning to Yuura.
“Sorry, everyone, that’s just how she is. She’s really endearing once you get to know her.”
“I’m sure she is. I’d love to get to know her, but we’ve already wasted too much time. Now, Nyx, did you see any guards when you came here?”
She shook her head.
“No. The palace is bare. I could hear the inhabitants inside a single room. I believe they were fornicating.”
The look in the eyes of the girls was as cold as the air that their breath hung within.
“Dids’t thou perchance spy the man they took into their bed?” asked Alex, a look of concern on her face.
All of the girls shared a look before hurrying their pace. They left the dungeon behind, their new follower in tow, silent as the night. Trixie narrowed her eyes. For once seemingly taking the threat of having David poached seriously.
“I thought you didn’t mind sharing, Trixie?” Yuura asked, curious.
“Yeah! Sharing with you! My friends! Not some nobodies I’ve never met!” Trixie spared a glance at Nyx.
She shook her head.
“Alright, Nyx, where did you hear the noises?”
“Up a tower, I can show you.”
“Alright, thanks. Now not all of us can go rescue David. Some of us are going to have to go find the Chalice. Alex, Annabelle, that might be best for you two to handle. The Ice Queen might hold a grudge.”
“I appreciate thine concern, Trixie. But Annabelle and I have the most experience with fighting the Ice Queen. T’would be best for us to accompany thee.”
“Yeah, but you only won once.”
“Thee have not won at all.”
Trixie gave a pout, but didn’t dispute it.
“Fine. Annabelle, Alex, and Nyx will go up the tower. Yuura and I will go find the Chalice.”
“What should we do with Persephone?” Yuura asked, the frozen undine still in Alex’s claws.
Trixie scrunched her brow in thought.
“Alex, ya think you can melt her? She’s made o’ water. So it should work, right?”
Alex didn’t respond for a while, apparently thinking it over. As the group finally left the entirety of the dungeon and entered into a large room, Alex put Persephone down and stood back.
“Stand back, my friends. I’m going to attempt to free Persephone.”
They all complied, making a wide berth to allow the chimera room to work. Trixie spread them out, in case their were glacies roaming the halls.
In a flash, fire engulfed their frozen friend and the entire room behind. The glittering walls and high-vaulted ceiling seemed to melt slightly as Alex opened her maw wide, pelting the undine with red-hot flame.
Nyx, the silent new accomplice, looked on in awe of the power on display.
“Yuura, why did you call me? Couldn’t she have freed you?”
“The Palace is enchanted, the ice resists fire.”
Nyx nodded, returning to silence as the flickering torrent of flame reflected off the ice, giving a glittering golden light show as Alex’s roar grew ever fiercer. The seemingly melting ice of the room reformed as Nyx looked closely. As no matter how much it seemed to melt, it never grew smaller.
Nyx turned her coal-black eyes to Yuura, a look of sadness in them.
“I missed you Yuura. I missed Arsa too.”
Yuura turned to Nyx with a look of slight surprise. Her taciturn friend usually didn’t say such things.
“We missed you too, Nyx.”
“I was alone… you left me.”
“No! No. Nyx, we didn’t…”
“I didn’t know why you had left. You had not said anything.”
Yuura’s heart grew heavy.
“Nyx, we hadn’t meant to-”
Nyx held up a hand.
“I understand. You thought the Overlord’s Army was a way to accomplish procreation. I too have come to that conclusion.”
Yuura avoided the night-gaunt’s eyes.
“I’m sorry, Nyx.”
“Do not be. We will talk after we are away from this place.”
Yuura wanted to press the issue, but knew better. Nyx was not the talkative sort, and trying to force her to speak was like squeezing water from a stone. She stood in silence as Alex’s fire slowly began to diminish. The Palace hadn’t changed, completely unaffected by the furious onslaught. Yuura had expected that, what she hadn’t expected was for Persephone to be standing unfrozen, her watery form boiling and giving off steam.
“I… didn’t expect that to work.” Yuura admitted.
Persephone stood unfrozen, in awe of her own form, seeing the boiling water of her body cool rapidly due to the frigid air. As she lifted her eyes to the others, Trixie gave a whoop of victory. Alex was quite pleased as well, taking a self-satisfied stance with her arms folded in front of her. Annabelle looked about the hallways, however, as if expecting a swarm of glacies to come in at any minute.
Of all the people gathered, it was Nyx to speak to Persephone first.
“Welcome back, undine.”
Persephone looked at her in a bit of shock.
“Uh, thank you… I don’t know your name.”
“I am Nyx.”
As her body finally cooled, she looked about it in a bit of shock. She met the eyes of each of her compatriots. Glancing about, she noticed David was gone and quickly her face switched from confusion to determination.
“What’s going on? What happened?”
Alex stood forward to explain.
“You were frozen by the Ice Queen. We were captured. David’s been taken. We just now got out of the Ice Queen’s dungeons thanks to Nyx here,” She pointed a claw at the newcomer. “She’s Yuura’s friend, from the Underworld. Now we’re planning out our next move. We still need to find the Chalice.”
Persephone’s eyes narrowed, and she balled her hands into fists.
“I’m going after Master.”
“Now wait one minute! Not everyone can go after David!” Trixie said, exasperated. “We’re here for the Chalice! The Chalice! You’ll come with me and Yuura! We’re gonna go-”
Trixie was cut off as a woman ran into the hallway.
The assorted crowd snapped their heads to the newcomer, and were surprised at what they found. A blonde woman of average height, blue eyes, and dressed in white and blue. In her right hand was a black sword, and her left was a silver cup.
The woman cursed. “Oh fuck.”
Chapter 36: Bernice vs Everyone
Annabelle and Nyx were the first one’s to realize what the woman held. It was no simple cup. It was the Chalice of Eternity.
They both crouched down and spread their wings wide, ready to spring on the newcomer. She in turn, readied her blade. That is… until she took another look at the group, and dashed across the room into another hallway.
Annabelle and Nyx leapt after her, wings carrying them aloft. Alex and Trixie weren’t too far behind. Persephone and Yuura were in the lurch, and quickly being left behind. Both of them slightly perplexed by what was going on. Nevertheless, they dashed forward as fast as they could.
David would have to wait.
Trixie was the first to ask the obvious.
“Who is that?!”
Annabelle spoke quickly, her eyes on the human who was surprisingly fast.
“I’ve no clue, but they have the Chalice.”
The human spared a glance behind her, and noticed that the six monsters were nearly upon her. With a sudden motion that caught Annabelle by surprise, the human sliced at the walls with her black sword and the icy walls fell with ease. The narrow passage was blocked.
Without even being told, Nyx removed small parchments of paper from the black goo that covered her body and began placing them on the rubble.
Yuura, on the other hand, wasted no time and slid in-between the cracks of the rubble, continuing the pursuit. She could hear her compatriots yelling at her, saying something, but she ignored them. She needed to get that Chalice.
Yuura’s amorphous form shifted and flowed through several piles of rubble. Apparently the human was slicing at the walls every few feet to slow them down. It was no problem for the Shoggoth, but hopefully it slowed the human down enough for Yuura to catch her.
As Yuura’s elastic body burst out of another pile of crystalline rubble, she caught sight of the blonde-haired woman entering another large room of the Palace. Yuura shot out a long tentacle to grab at her, but as her tendril closed around the woman’s waist, she cut Yuura’s tentacle cleanly off. Yuura was ready for the attempt, but shocked that it worked. What kind of sword was that?
The woman barreled forward, not even missing a beat.
Bernice was panicking as she went down another corridor, not knowing nor caring where she went. Things had been going well up until a few moments ago. The entire Palace seemed to be clear, no guards at all save the ones she’d defeated.
Then she ran into a chimera, a devil, some sort of slime, some strange demon-looking thing, the undine David had stolen, plus an angel. Why on earth was an Angel helping the Monster Army?
“Angels are monsters too you know”
“Shut up! That’s not true.”
Bernice swung her blade into another wall, carving a hole into it to get away from the slime that was following her.
“Maybe not all of them. But that one is. Why else does it hunt you?”
Bernice jumped through and sliced the pillars she found inside to block the entrance as she continued her mad dash.
“Swords aren’t supposed to talk!” she said angrily.
“I’m no ordinary sword.”
On that, Bernice agreed.
Bernice knew her only real hope was to get out of the Ice Palace and back to the disk that had brought her here. She had been steadily retracing her steps before, but now she was completely lost. The mad dash she had made to get out of harm’s way had led her away from anything familiar.
She walked briskly along, in one room and out the other, the place was like a maze. As she turned a corner, she came into yet another hallway, this one with a high ceiling. She had a suspicion this might be the right way, and picked up her pace.
From the ceiling fell a large shadow in front of her, blocking her way. She held her blade in a defensive stance, ready for the thing to strike.
“What the hell are you?”
The creature’s head, which was smooth, and lacking a face before, quickly changed shape. The smooth black surface stretched back, revealing it to be a thick slime-like substance. Behind the goo was a comely bluish-white face.
“I am Nyx”
“I didn’t ask for your name.”
The creature paused for a moment. Then it nodded.
“I am a night-gaunt.”
Bernice growled in confusion, not sure why the thing hadn’t just attacked.
“What’s a night-gaunt?!”
“A night-gaunt is what I am”
Bernice decided not to bother with conversation with the… night-gaunt.
Instead she slid forward into a kata. Like before, the sword seemed to guide her actions, making her faster and stronger. The monster before her moved with liquid-like grace, flowing away from all of her attacks and striking with its claws with surprising speed.
Bernice pressed the advantage, moving down the hallway. She knew she had no time to waste, every second she was kept here was another second the other monsters could catch up with her. She swept her blade upwards in an attempt to pierce the night-gaunt’s wings, but it seemed to seemed to know what she was thinking, and ducked low, reaching for the chalice as it did. Bernice followed up with a downward strike however, almost without thinking, and… were her blade a normal one, would have dealt a fatal blow.
But this was no ordinary blade.
The night-gaunt let out no scream or grunt, but fell all the same, a glowing red gaseous energy leaving its wound. The energy was quickly absorbed by the blade.
“Oh… that’s… delicious.”
Bernice looked on in horror as the sword began to… grow. Where it had grabbed onto her before, it now began growing plates over its tendrils, encasing her hand in a metallic black gauntlet ending at her wrist. The blade also changed, a slight wave of the blade flared out in the middle, giving it a wicked appearance.
“What the devil is this?” Bernice exclaimed.
Her sword did not answer her, it merely glowed a deep red for a moment, before leaving her with a hand encased in black metal. She snarled, and tried to get the thing off, but to no avail. And quickly she had to drop the matter, as the night-gaunt leapt from its position to once more grab at the Chalice.
She was faster than the creature and leapt past it, slashing her blade reflexively against the monster. It bit into the night-gaunt again, this time causing the creature to let out a little moan. However, Bernice immediately regretted striking the beast as another red ribbon of energy was sucked out of the monster and into her cursed blade.
Once more, it incrementally grew up her arm, slightly past the wrist.
“That’s not good.” Bernice groaned.
The night-gaunt once more got to her feet, though this time, far slower. Bernice used the opportunity kick the monster down and ran past it. Turn after turn she ran, getting further and further away. But suddenly and without warning the wall next to her shattered into icy crystal and powdered snow.
She was knocked clean through the other wall into an empty bedroom, and as she stood up she saw the crouched and growling form of the chimera, fire leaping from her maw and tail.
“You shan’t escape!”
Bernice took one look at the creature, and decided that was exactly what she was going to do. She turned on her heel to strike the far wall, only to be greeted by a small purple portal of light, where the diminutive devil emerged, grinning like mad.
“Nope! Not getting outa this one!”
Bernice snarled and turned back to the chimera, only now the beast was accompanied by the angel and the undine. Bernice felt her heart jump to her throat. How was she supposed to get out of this?! She moved to the side of the bedroom to get the devil in her line of sight. She was backed into a corner, nowhere to go, one hand occupied, and if she cut any of them, the sword would slowly consume her.
Why do I get the feeling that God hates me?
Bernice slid into a comfortable position and waited for her opponents to strike.
She didn’t have to wait long as the devil traced a red light in the air, creating a sigil. From the rune, an explosion of red lightning struck at her. Bernice, somehow, was able to move her blade to intercept the blast. Bernice was in awe of her own might as her black blade glowed red as it intercepted every blast of lightning, drawing it in like a sponge. From her other side, the chimera gave a roar, and a cascade of fire rocketed toward her. Without even thinking, she swung her blade at the flame, amazing all present, including herself.
The lightning redirected toward the fire, and her blade shone with a powerful red light. Bernice was both frightened and elated at what she was doing. She had no idea how, but the lightning was stopping the fire from proceeding. However, she glumly noted that her gauntlet was creeping slightly over her wrist.
There was no time to think much on it as the chimera ceased its attack, growled in frustration, and leapt at her with claws extended. It was completely different from the night-gaunt’s attack, full of fury and rage. Yet despite that, When Bernice struck at the beast, it was able to deflect her sword with her claws, keeping her from cutting the creature’s flesh. Bernice was actually sort of relieved at that. She knew that actually piercing the beast would only speed up the rate of the blade’s growth.
Yet, she couldn’t hold back. The fury of the chimera was unwavering, claw strike after claw strike, snake bite after snake bite, goring head-butt after goring head-butt came after her. The monster may have appeared a dainty womanly version of its original self, but within it was still the furious being of battle from so many bygone eras.
The devil flying above the room panicked as it flew this way and that trying to get out of the way of Bernice’s sword and the chimera’s claws as the two fought viciously within the small bedroom. The furniture, made of ice like everything else, was shattered and sprayed across the floor in shards as Bernice’s blade slammed into everything as it was batted away by the chimera. Despite Bernice’s desperate situation, not a single claw scratched her.
Bernice surprised herself with her calm, neatly stepping over broken ice and blocking the monster’s attacks with one-handed parries. Occasionally the devil would fire off a spell when it thought Bernice wasn’t paying attention, but Bernice found herself amazingly aware of her surroundings. She swatted down every spell coming her way with her black blade. Unfortunately, with every spell swatted down her blade gave off that familiar red glow, and grew just a little bit more up her arm.
As she batted away a golden beam from the devil, she screamed as the chimera’s snake-like tail bit down hard on her shoulder. She twisted in a fury, slicing the tail cleanly with her sword. But, rather than cutting off the tail, a long trail of red energy left the tail and filled the cursed sword. The chimera’s tail let go of her shoulder and fell limply behind the monster.
Bernice, rather than just see the energy, felt it. Like lightning flowing through her blood. She shot forward with an animalistic roar, slashing wildly at the chimera. The chimera was unprepared for the sudden burst of fury, and was struck in multiple places, blood-red energy streaming out of several cuts and into Bernice’s black blade.
Slash after slash, cut after cut filled Bernice with fire and power. She felt as if all her anger and rage was empowering her, making her faster and stronger. She could feel the fire in her blood as she lost all form in her movements and just flailed wildly. The chimera fell back through the hole of the room and the undine took her place as if it were a practiced motion. She was breathing heavily, and looked nearly dead on her feet. Bernice wanted to continue the assault, but as she attempted to get past the undine her wrists and ankles were restrained with a sudden jolt.
Startled, Bernice looked at her arms and legs to see that ice shackles had been conjured on her wrists and ankles. The undine held up a hand and more ice began encasing her. Before Bernice could react, the chalice was plucked from her hands by the devil that flew overhead.
“Whoo! I got it! I got it!”
Bernice blinked in surprise at the quick turn around and thrashed against her bindings.
The chimera limped down the hallway as the others followed the devil who flew away at a modest pace. The undine glared at her as she was the last to retreat down the hall. The chimera gave a groan.
“She was tougher than I thought a human could be.”
“Yeah, she cut you up pretty good.”
Bernice tuned out the chatter of her enemies as she struggled against her bonds. She felt fire in her veins, lightning in her soul, but it didn’t seem to be enough to get her out of her icy shackles.
She could hear the sword’s words inside her mind. It felt different than earlier, though. It seemed deeper in timbre.
What do you want?
I can help you. Give you more power. If you promise to feed me.
Feed you what? My soul?
No, no. nothing so dry. I want more energy. I need you to cut those monsters more. I want to grow. I can feel myself awaken more and more with every successful hit.
Bernice looked glumly at the gauntlet her blade was attached to, and noted that the sword was now almost to her elbow. This was dangerous, she knew. If it continued to grow, it would consume her, destroy her. But if she did nothing… she had to win. She needed to. If she failed, the world was doomed. She had been trusted to this mission, and she refused to fail. She refused.
“Fine. Give me your power and I’ll feed you so much you’ll want to puke.”
Excellent choice my wielder. Excellent choice.
Bernice had thought she was pulsing with energy before, but with a scream she knew she had only been given the smallest taste of the cursed blade’s power. Molten iron seemed to fill her veins as the gauntlet covering her right arm became more crooked, pointed, and wicked-looking. The weapon no longer looked like a typical broadsword painted black, but seemed to grow iron veins all along the blade. A large burning red eye opened at the cross guard, a slit pupil pulsing with fiery red energy turned the icy blue room into a glowing red landscape the likes of which Bernice had never seen.
NOW LET US FEAST
Bernice broke her bonds with ease, steam pouring off her body as she adjusted to the new feeling. It had hurt briefly, but now, she could feel only a powerful euphoria. An exhilaration beyond imagining.
She smiled wide as her blonde hair whipped about her like a whirlwind, barreling out of the room and into the hallway and approaching the unsuspecting monsters. Before any of them even realized she was there, she flipped over the undine and snatched the chalice from the devil mid-flight, and landed on her feet in front of the group. Before any of them could even say a word she slashed at the wall next to her in two strikes and with a powerful kick collapsed the wall and fled inside it, starting the chase over again.
“W-what the hell was that?!” Bernice heard the devil speak behind her as she continued her mad dash within the palace.
In only a few moments the chimera, undine, angel, and devil were chasing after her again, only this time they seemed all the more frantic. Fireballs were flying at her every few seconds, spikes of ice attempted to block her way, but they were cut down speedily. Every few moments a beam of light from a spell would rocket past, too slow to keep up with her.
She could feel her heart racing, she was almost there, she could feel it!
With a roar she cut through one more wall and was greeted with a large foyer with a high ceiling. Two massive crystalline doors were about a hundred feet away from her, the room was clean and clear of all obstacles. On the side of the room opposite the doors were two massive spiraling staircases, one of them ending right beside her. The ceiling was high-vaulted, and reminded her of the ceilings of some churches she’d been in, though this one seemed to be made of sparkling crystal.
It was somewhat dark. The light filtering into the palace was that of the moon rather than the sun, lighting the room with a scattering of silver light. Bernice’s sword glowed like a red-hot coal, giving her countenance a hellish glow.
Seeing the way was clear, she sprinted forward, only to stop in her tracks as a familiar shadow flew down from the ceiling in front of the doorway.
The night-gaunt had her face covered by that shiny black substance, appearing faceless. Bernice brought her blade up, ready to cut down the monster and be on her way.
But the night-gaunt was not alone. A large dark-purple mass of goo plopped next to her from the ceiling. The slime. It reformed in a matter of seconds into the shape of a comely woman with eight long slimy tentacles. At the edge of each tentacle a sword was formed. Bernice had never heard of a slime with the ability to transform itself. But she also had never heard of a night-gaunt, so she was hardly surprised.
She lifted her sword up to the two in a challenging gesture and sprinted forward.
She was instantly bowled over head over heels by a fireball in her back.
She groaned as she got to her feet, glancing behind herself. The other monsters had caught up to her, and were now pouring out of the hole she had cut in the wall. Bernice grit her teeth as she looked about, realizing that she was going to have to fight all of the monsters if she wanted out. She also noticed, with annoyance, her clothing was in tatters, barely holding on to her.
I said it is time to feast. Why would you run?
“Because I’m outnumbered, and I’m outmatched.”
With me by your side, you are never outmatched
Bernice found the large red flaming eye at the cross-guard of her sword looking up at her, and suddenly she realized that the euphoria she was filling was coming at a cost. But what was she supposed to do? She had to get out first, then she could worry about this sword. Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the blade with renewed focus.
The devil flew up above the others, folding her arms across her chest and sneering down at her.
“Alright, human. Give it up! You’re surrounded! Ain’t no way you’re gonna beat all of us! Cursed Sword or no!”
Bernice gripped the Chalice even harder.
“Like hell I’m giving up!”
With a surprising speed, Bernice jumped up to the devil’s height, surprising all present. With an overhead swing, the devil was sliced clean through, an enormous amount of energy emptied from her small body and into the blade. Bernice could feel the sword thrumming in her hand as long black tendrils grew outward from her gauntlet gripping her flesh, and her gauntlet crept up past her elbow.
Before the devil could hit the ground, the angel caught her midair.
Bernice was still in moderate disbelief that an angel was even in the same company as a devil, so see it actually care for it was somewhat disgusting to her.
“You were supposed to be on the side of good! A servant of the gods! Why are you helping that thing?!”
The angel didn’t respond, merely glared at her and flew even higher with the tuckered-out devil in her arms. The chimera spoke from behind her.
“Worry not, my friends! That sword works like Realm-Silver. Trixie shall be fine. Focus on the task at hand. Our victory is near!”
And in a second, Bernice was in the middle of a whirlwind. The night-gaunt and the slime covered the distance in near a second, claws and swords outstretched. Bernice was quick to react, flipping away from the assault in a motion so smooth she surprised herself. But this only delivered her to the assailant at her back, the chimera, who slammed into her with full force. Bernice was quick to recover, landing on her feet, but as soon as she landed, her feet were encased in ice.
With Bernice immobilized, the undine lunged for the Chalice. The attempt was unsuccessful, though, as she sliced the water elemental and broke free of the ice in one strike.
As she jumped out of the reach of the monsters, she realized that she was barefooted, her shoes still encased in the ice. She had no time to think on it, however as eight long purple tentacles came shooting forward at her. She ducked and weaved with supernatural speed, slicing at the swords formed at the edge of each tendril. The strange slime left her flesh unmarred, though every once in a while a translucent purple blade would cut a bit of her clothing.
As she somersaulted out of the flailing attack she was accosted by the chimera and the night-gaunt, both of them reaching out with their claws. She batted away the night-gaunt’s attack, but the chimera once again sunk the teeth of its snake-like tail in her midsection. She gave out a howl of pain before stabbing the chimera and forcing the beast to retreat. As the monster did so, Bernice’s blouse was torn open, revealing her stomach.
But her sword was increasing her stamina, and she could barely even feel the cold as primal power coursed through her veins. Her entire arm was now covered with curved, pointed black metal. The sword was as large as Bernice herself, yet she still wielded it with ease. Between the cracks of metal, pulsing red energy could be seen, like rivers of lava. Her clothes were in tatters, her feet bare, and the midsection of her blouse completely gone.
Yet Bernice wasn’t breathing heavily, or even seemed overly concerned. She was smiling.
She held her blade in front of her in a kata, and readied herself.
“I’m going to cut you all down and escape this place! I’ve come too far to fail.”
“As have we.” The chimera replied.
The undine was the first to make a move, a large spike of ice emerging from the floor to catch Bernice, but Bernice sidestepped it and cut it in half with a lackadaisical swing. Two more spikes jutted from the ice, and once more Bernice weaved her way out of their path. Four more came next, though this time Bernice jumped up on top of the one and used it to flip forward towards the undine, her sword outstretched. The move surprised the elemental, who barely managed to steer clear of the sword.
Bernice made to continue her assault on the undine, but she was grabbed from behind, two black arms holding her in a headlock. She grunted as she struggled to get free, but in a heartbeat she was nearly 30 feet in the air, and she realized she had been grabbed by the night-gaunt. She swung her sword wildly at the creature to get free, but it was in vain. From her left, the chimera came out from underneath them, and snatched the Chalice from her hands. The chimera gave her a smirk as she flew even higher where Bernice spotted the angel still cradling the devil high up near the ceiling.
With fury in her eyes she flipped the sword in her hand into a reverse-grip, her corruption so great the sword allowing a momentary release from for her and dug into the night-gaunt’s back. No howl of grunt befell the black creature as it began to fall, but as it did, Bernice struggled free of her grip and jumped off of the body to get to the chimera.
Her maneuver was unforeseen, and so she struck true, her blade slicing the chimera from shoulder to groin. The angel let out a gasp, but the chimera herself was silent, her eyes closed as she fell with Bernice to the floor below. Burning red energy once more was sucked up by the sword, now like a bright flame giving light to the entire room, bathing it in a fiery radiance.
Bernice caught the falling silver cup in mid-fall, a smile on her face.
As the floor came hurtling towards her she held twisted about to her right-side, which was now a form-fitting black armored mass of twisted metal and red luster. From her side she saw the angel in a free-fall, determination on her face as she reached out with the hand that was not cradling the devil to catch the chimera before she hit the floor.
As the angel caught the chimera, and unfurled her wings to slow their descent, Bernice snarled and prepared for impact.
A resounded CRACK reverberated within the palace walls as Bernice hit the ice, a great-spiderweb of cracks and fissures surrounding her as she lay on her right side in a curled up fetal position. Her clothes on that side were now complete torn, and as she stood up on weak knees, the last of her clothes fell off of her.
Rather than being naked, however, the twisted black metal had extended over under her clothes and caressed her breasts and covered her decency with curled fanciful forms. Though the thought was far from her mind, Bernice looked much like a monster herself, her once blue eyes now a blazing crimson, her form seductively deadly, and her face wearing a manically delightful expression.
Before she could recover fully, she was encased in ice from her feet up to her neck.
For the first time in the fight, she looked frightened.
“W-what?” How did-”
The back of her head was slapped by the undine.
Bernice furiously thrashed against the ice, and not in vain. As she struggled, the ice began to crack, and it became obvious that very soon she would break free.
“Yuura, Get the Chalice before she gets out!”
The undine had called out to the slime who had appeared seemingly from nowhere. A small slimy tentacle slipped into the cracks already forming in the ice, and wrapped around the Chalice. Bernice did her best to hold onto it, but failed to keep it. In a flash the Chalice was out of the ice, and in the hands of the dark slime-woman.
The slime smiled cheekily at Bernice and slithered off to the same hole that they had all emerged from moments ago. The angel, holding the devil in her arms and the chimera draped over her back, followed. Behind her was the undine, who was carrying the night-gaunt on her back.
Bernice raged against the ice, furious. She had been so close! She had defeated half of them already, she just needed to try harder! All of humanity was depending on her! She screamed in fury as the ice began to chip and break under the strain of keeping her captive. The monsters in response hurried their pace.
With a mighty heave, she broke the ice.
The ice exploded into a sparkling mist, reflecting the crimson light coming off of her in waves. In less than a second she crouched low like a pouncing lion and dashed forward in a crazed sprint. None of them were ready for her as she sliced the night-gaunt and undine with a diagonal bisection and moved on to the angel. She turned and gave a yelp as Bernice sliced through her and the two other monsters she carried. She kicked them out of her way as she narrowed in on the slime.
The Slime turned around just as Bernice lunged at her. With surprise in her eyes, the dark purple creature was able to dodge the attack by contorting her body in an O shape, letting Bernice pass through her without touching. The slime deftly jumped out of the reach of Bernice’s sword as she whirled her blade around her a full 360 degrees.
Bernice now stood between the enemy and the hole in the wall. The other monsters lay unconscious on the floor, their energy sucked out of them. The Slime looked at her with an unreadable expression, her lime green eyes taking in the fact that she was the last one standing.
“You are an impressive warrior.” The slime said, “What is your name?”
For a moment, Bernice wasn’t going to say anything, but for some reason she felt compelled to speak. It was if this was one final duel for victory. It seemed right to exchange names.
“I am Bernice Von Vanderhousen, daughter of Beatrice Vaughn Vanderhousen. And whom might you be?”
“I am Yuurazha. Though my friends call me Yuura. I’m a shoggoth.”
“I haven’t heard of that. Thought you were a slime.”
“I am. I’m just a special kind of slime. Tell me, your name… are you David’s friend?”
“No. I’m not.”
“Were you, once?”
Bernice brought her sword up into a two-handed stance. Her red eyes aflame with fury.
“I was. Before you and your kind raped him and brainwashed him. Just like you do with all our men. You and your kind are a blight, and once I defeat you, and take that Chalice, we’ll begin to heal the world from all the evil you’ve caused.”
The shoggoth wasn’t surprised by the venom. She placed the Chalice inside of her gooey body, suspending it in her torso. Then she undulated and wriggled as she changed her form. A countless number of long whip-like tentacles expanded out of her body, and lime green orbs adorned each and every one of them like a string of lights dully glowing.
“Actually, neither myself nor anyone here have taken David to bed. However I did help him escape your clutches when you threw him in a dungeon. In truth he hadn’t betrayed you. A friend of his had taken your precious spear. But our leader, in her wisdom, knew he would be blamed. I was sent to save him from you.”
She narrowed her eyes and for the first time since Yuura had emerged from the underworld, she became angry.
“And save him from you I shall.”
Bernice and Yuura flew at each other with murderous intent and weapons flying. Bernice was like the wind, flying through every whip and lash Yuura struck with. In the same measure, Bernice thrust, swung and twirled her blade in every which way to land a blow on her opponent. Yuura, with her elastic body, shifted and morphed with every swing, avoiding all of them as she gave counter blows.
Bernice did her best to keep up with the assault, but strike after strike landed. As she would duck under one tentacle, another one would be waiting to slam against her midsection. As she would jump over one, another would crash against her back. As she dodged a tendril, thee more would lash out and whip her legs.
There were too many appendages, and soon Bernice fell to the floor gasping for breath, several red marks all over her body. She didn’t stay on the floor very long. With a grunt, she lunged at the shoggoth with renewed fury. The fight played out much like it had last time, with an impressive display that Yuura nonetheless dodged and countered with eldritch grace. Bernice fell on her back as a tendril knocked her off of her feet.
Again, Bernice got up, flipping onto her feet and dashing forward. This time she bit into the icy floor with her sword and swept upwards, powdery winter mix flying up into Yuura’s face. With a grin, Bernice made to slice her. But she had forgotten that Yuura had covered her entire form with lime green eyes, and once more Bernice was knocked back, her attack ineffective.
This time, Yuura wrapped her slimy tentacles around Bernice’s wrists and ankles, hoisting her up off the floor and suspending her in midair. Bernice struggled against her captor, trying to angle her sword to cut Yuura and free herself. It was in vain, however, as the shoggoth kept her firmly in place.
“It is over, Bernice. Not only have you lost this fight. You’ve lost your humanity. Look at you, you’re consumed by that sword. You may feel rage and battle lust now, but I assure you that won’t last.”
“No need to shout.”
Bernice frantically wracked her mind for a solution to her predicament. She could see the Chalice in the shoggoth’s chest. It was right there! She just needed to be slightly stronger. Just a smidgen. Why was this so difficult? She tried to reach out to the blade, to see if it had any advice or a last well of strength to give. But the sword was silent. All she could hear within her mind was a deep humming sound. A background noise. Yet, as she listened to it, she seemed to calm down. A sudden realization came to her then. The sword was hers, a tool. It was an extension of her will. Like so many philosophical swordsmen spouted, her blade and she were one. Only for her, it was far more literal. With half her body covered in that cursed black metal, she realized that she could feel it. Not feel it on her skin, but rather, could feel it as if it were her skin. An idea came to her, and without thinking too hard about it, she executed it.
With a shout she flexed her body and several small blades extended from the twisted black metal clinging to the right side of her body. They pierced Yuurazha’s tentacles, extracting more energy, and causing her to retract her hold on Bernice reflexively.
It all happened in less than a second. One moment Bernice was being held aloft by Yuura. The next Bernice was dropped and in a flash she jumped straight inside of the shoggoth’s gooey torso.
She burst out of the shocked monster’s body, dark purple slime exploding outward as she emerged with the Chalice in hand.
Yuura turned her head back to lock eyes with Bernice, who wore a grin so wide it looked unnatural. For a moment, Yuura turned, ready to continue the fight, but in the next moment, she fell over, dark red light escaping her and entering Bernice’s blade.
“It seems you were right, shoggoth, it is over.”
Bernice looked upon her opponents with an overwhelming amount of pride and accomplishment. All six of her enemies, very powerful monsters, lay on the ground defeated. Her smile was plastered on her face, as she meandered toward the two tall crystalline doors, ready to leave the palace she had been trapped in for over two days.
Bernice laid a single hand on the doors and pushed them open. The moonlight entered the room in full force, basking her in silver light. She was ready to leave, but no sooner had she done so than her entire body was bombarded by an ice-cold wind. Her body, from the neck down was frozen solid in a large mass of ice.
She attempted to break free the same as she had before. But this ice seemed… more solid. More powerful.
“Excellent shot, my King.”
Bernice’s eyes shot wide as she recognized the voice as belonging to the Ice Queen. She shot her gaze to the source, and found the Ice Queen striding down the steps of the stairs on the opposite side of the room. She wore a white furred robe, no crown on her head. By her side, was a short man in a white furred cape wielding the Ice Queen’s staff. Bernice instantly recognized him.
It was David.
Chapter 37: Everyone Loses
David walked side by side with Aurora. He wasn’t sure what to call her… his friend…his lover? Nothing quite seemed right. She and he had come to an understanding, largely through some very satisfying sex. Sex that was brought about by her tying him down and raping him.
He wanted to be mad, or angry, or frustrated. But he was actually rather satisfied. It helped that she had finally agreed to let his friends go free. Though she insisted that she would still punish Annabelle and Alexandra. How she would do that, she refused to say, though she claimed they wouldn’t be harmed.
As he walked beside her, he found himself quite fascinated by her staff, which she had allowed him to hold when he asked. The workmanship was exquisite, and had apparently been passed down to her by her mother.
It didn’t go unnoticed by him that she had chosen an outfit similar to his when they left her room. Nor did it escape his notice that the palace was largely empty. He had asked her about it, and she reminded him that he was not the only intruder to invade her home. Her guards were entertaining themselves with another man, who she believed was from Vasherton.
That reminded him of the other thing she had told him, of a woman wandering her halls. A woman he was certain was Bernice.
He was now far less certain as he walked down the stairs. The woman he had stopped from escaping with the Chalice was clad in some strange skimpy black armor. Bernice wasn’t someone who’d wear armor that revealing. Although… the woman was about the same height and build, and was blonde.
He passed the staff back to Aurora when he saw Annabelle, Trixie, Alexandra, Yuura, Persephone, and an unknown monster laying on the floor. He felt a pit in his stomach as he ran to them, terrified that they may be dead.
Yuura was the closest, and though he knew she was the most resilient, he held her all the same. She wasn’t the sort of creature to have a pulse, but when he picked her up, she opened her eyes just a crack, and muttered something he didn’t hear.
“Yuura! Yuura, are you ok? Say something. Please.”
His voice seemed to stir her to her senses as she came to, her hand wiping her brow as her eyes flit open.
“Its me. Are you alright? How’d this happen?”
She smiled at him and wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him close.
“Sir! Sir you’re safe. Thank Eros.”
“Thank Aurora, actually. She let me go. I was actually just on my way to get all of you out of the dungeons. What happened? Are the others ok?”
She let go of him and seemed to be enjoying being held by him.
“Everyone’s fine. She used a magical blade. It only took our energy. I’m just sleepy.”
David let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding.
Yuura smiled up at him, though the smiled left her face when Aurora came into her view, standing over the two with arms crossed.
“Well, it seems my husband worried for nothing. You lot are rather resourceful. Although how you escaped baffles me. My dungeons are not easy to escape. How perchance did you manage it?”
Yuura’s face seemed to grow pensive when Aurora used the word ‘husband’, though she did notice David’s face seemed to also be confused, though with how red it had turned, she realized that Trixie was right. They had most certainly had sex.
She decided to put that aside, and accept the turn of events. As Trixie said, Aurora would be sharing, whether she liked it or not.
“Well, Aurora was it? I called on a friend of mine.”
Yuura pointed to Nyx, who was laying on the floor next to Persephone. David cocked his head in confusion at the site, but Aurora remained impassive.
“What is she? Some kind of demon?” David asked.
“Go ask her, sir. She’ll be happy to talk to you.”
“You’ll be okay?”
Yuura smiled and hugged him.
“I’ll be fine. Go check on the others.”
David stood up, still looking down on Yuura with concern, but she shooed him away with a wave and a smile, and he reluctantly went to go meet up with the newest member of their group. Aurora, however stayed behind, looking down on the shoggoth with an impassive face.
“You care for him.”
Yuura did not respond, and instead lifted herself up, and dusted herself off.
“Yes, I do.”
Aurora smirked as she looked down at Yuura, arms crossed.
“It must hurt then, that he is mine. All because you and your friends tried to steal from me.”
“We weren’t trying to-”
“He told me about the Chalice. You realize I would have helped you if you had asked. I don’t want monsters to start eating people again. But instead you embroil me in your ridiculous schemes. Well now the man you fancy is mine, and you’ll have to deal with that.”
“I’m sorry about that. In retrospect you’re right. We should have just sought an audience. That wasn’t my decision. But as for you claiming David is yours…”
“You know I ought to thank you. If it weren’t for you, I would have never met him, nor craved him.” Aurora placed a finger on her chin, tilting her head. “When I was young I never understood why my mother was so happy all the time. I never felt much of anything. I never felt sad, or angry, or really even happy. But I think I understand now. It feels as if I’m floating. As if my heart is… light as a feather.”
Yuura continued to smile, letting Aurora talk. She decided not to bother telling Aurora about the doppelganger potion… or the fact that David most likely had laid with Ophelia at the very least. The Ice Queen would find out on her own.
David looked out over to his friends as they laid on the floor, looking for any obvious sign of injury. But like Yuura had assured him, there was no blood or signs of wounds. David had seen his share of injuries in the past, and he didn’t even see signs of bruising. He woke them all up gently, and was greeted by hugs each and every time, even bashful Annabelle. As the other girls behind him began to realize what had happened, Annabelle and Alex did their best to avoid Aurora as Yuura kept her busy.
The glossy black demon woman, Yuura’s friend, was curled up, wings and tail wrapped about her on the floor. He didn’t quite know what to make of her. He knelt down and tapped her on the shoulder and after a few moments she began to stir. He furrowed his brow as she sat up, and revealed a completely featureless face. Her skin was smooth and rubbery-looking.
“Uh. Hi. Yuura said that you were a friend of hers? I’m David. I wanted to thank you for getting my friends out of that dungeon.”
She crooned a strange hum and crawled onto all fours. As she cocked her head to the side, David began to wonder if she was more monster than the others he had met so far.
Then, to his surprise, the slick featureless face receded as if it were a slime revealing a heart-faced beauty with bluish skin, dark eyes, and long black hair. Despite the normal face, however, she was still expressionless as she stared at David with unblinking eyes.
“Are you Yuura’s master?”
“Oh. Well, I like to think of myself as her friend. If anyone’s her master, I’d guess it would be Delilah.”
“Hm. Yes. I see.”
She stood up over David and extended a hand.
“I am Nyx. Yuura has promised to share you with me. I look forward to intimacy.”
David scrunched his brow and frowned. That was not the words he expected to come out of her mouth. He decided to stand up, ignoring her hand.
“I…ok. That sounds fun. Looking forward to it.”
David didn’t really see that happening. But he wasn’t really sure what else to say. He shook her hand and she took the opportunity to pull him into a hug rather forcefully. He reluctantly returned it, not wanting to offend the odd creature, Nyx.
Suddenly David heard a scream.
Everyone present turned their eyes towards the frozen captive who was screaming heavily as she strained every muscle to break out of the ice that held her in place. David walked slowly towards the woman, curious as to what kind of woman the Order had sent.
But as he got closer, he realized that his original suspicions were true.
It was Bernice.
A cold pit seemed to form in his stomach as he approached the struggling thrashing screaming woman. Memories of him laying on the ground, looking up at her disappointed face came back to him in full force. In a few short steps he stood in front of her, and she ceased her struggling.
Her face went through several different emotions in quick succession. He saw surprise, regret, fear, and then finally anger.
“Bernice. You look… different.”
David didn’t know what exactly had happened to her, but he was sure that she was once more in the process of monsterizing. Though obviously it hadn’t affected her personality in the same way. Not if that scowl on her face meant anything.
“I was almost free. I was about to save all of humanity… and you betray us all a second time.”
David could feel the anger in her voice, but as she continued to speak, he could only see pain in her eyes.
“Bernice… I’m sorry. But I can’t let you do this. I know firsthand what monsters were like before. Trust me, you don’t want the world to return to the way it was.”
“Humanity is about to become extinct, David! All because you betrayed us! For what? Sex?”
“That’s not what happened. That’s not what’s happening! You’ve been misled, Bernice. Even I didn’t really understand until recently.”
“Just… shut up. Do what you’re going to do.” Bernice turned her head as much as she could, trying to break eye-contact with David. But he walked to the side, keeping his eyes on her.
From behind them, Aurora spoke up.
“Is that my Cursed Sword? That was a priceless artifact, you know.”
“Aurora, please not now.”
“My king, whatever relationship you have with her, please remember that she is a thief. I have a right to exact justice.”
Bernice looked at him with unhidden disgust.
“King? So you and that giant?”
“I think she’s more of an elemental who happens to be rather tall. Actually most all of the monster girls I’ve met are rather tall. But its not what you think.”
“So you didn’t have sex with her?”
David rubbed the back of his neck bashfully.
She remained silent, but the look she gave him spoke volumes.
“I didn’t plan on it, Bernice.”
Aurora stalked up behind David with a haughty expression, and leered down at the two with a smirk and crossed arms.
“Tis true, little thief. I took him as compensation for damages. Perhaps I should take you as compensation as well. That sword that’s now melded to you is irreplaceable.”
“Aurora, I don’t really think this is the time.”
“Please Dear, This is my home, and my property. She should make it right.”
Bernice cast her eyes downward as a look of defeat finally came over her. David wanted to say more, but nothing came to his mind.
Then, quite suddenly and without warning, the side of the ice prison exploded into icy chips. David and the others were slow to react. Though David saw a silver glint fly into the air and past the open crystalline doors. Aurora laid a hand on the top of Bernice’s head to keep her from escaping and the other girls gathered like moths to the flame. But David seemed to be the only one to realize Bernice was not the one responsible for the ruckus. Out in the darkness, standing in the snow was a hooded figure who snatched the Chalice from the air.
The others still didn’t seem to catch it, until they realized Bernice wasn’t moving. Out in the snow, the figure slipped the Chalice under its cloak, where David noticed a large hourglass with golden cobras as handles.
Bernice screamed out at the figure.
“SILAS! Help me!”
David’s eyes bulged out of his skull as the hooded figure became clearer.
The hood came down, and the old elf looked at David and Bernice with undisguised contempt.
“Oh Bernice. I leave you alone for a few days, and you’ve already become a monster. How very… typical.”
Bernice struggled as Aurora and the others slowly realized what was going on.
Silas said nothing, simply observing the crowd. His eyes fell on David, and his countenance changed.
“How did you…?”
Silas didn’t finish his sentence. With a single motion, David thrust both of his arms behind him and shot out in a flash of ice and snow. David crossed nearly a 100 feet in barely a second as Silas stared him down, unmoving.
With a smirk, Silas chuckled and in a flash of green smoke and light vanished as quickly as he came.
David landed not a second afterward, the horrible realization of what had just happened hitting him hard.
“NO. NO, DAMN IT!” He felt a rush of anger and screamed in frustration into the empty night sky. Behind him Bernice began to break down in tears, as it dawned on her that she had been left behind at the mercy of monsters.
Chapter 38: Silas Escapes
Silas arrived to a scene he had encountered many times before. A city ransacked by an invading monster army was unlike any other kind of destruction one could find. There were no bodies, no blood, no gore. The monstrous women of today weren’t interested in killing.
In the horizon he saw the once proud walls of Vasherton with five massive breaches. The buildings beyond them were in various states. Some were pristine, others were leveled to the ground. As Silas moved along the fields outside Vasherton, he noticed that the farmers outside the city had not been spared. He could see nearly every hut had its door smashed in, those that didn’t often had holes punctured in the sides.
One thing he noticed however, that he thought very peculiar, was the lack of snow. The Ice Queen was close enough that the entire place ought to be in the dead of winter, but there was not a single flake of snow. Silas only took a second to realize that David must have fornicated with the creature. In which case, he remembered reading that an Ice Queen’s heart could be thawed, and in so doing, rid the surrounding area of winter. He shook his head, both disappointed and frustrated by the events of the past several weeks.
He cast a simple invisibility spell, followed by a silencing spell and a smelling-nullification spell. He had been in this situation before, and avoiding monsters was difficult, but not impossible. He had a ship waiting for him in the harbor, and he needed to get to it. He was sure that Rupert had fallen alongside Bernice, and that city had most definitely fallen. He needed to meet his clients in Olgrad.
Delilah might have taken the Heaven’s Gold Spear, but he had two out of the three, and there were other myths out there about weapons made of Heaven’s Gold. He was closer now than ever to restoring the balance of the world.
The streets of Vasherton were as he has suspected. Young men, old men, soldiers, peasants, nobles, and more with their arms wrapped around their violators, lips locked together. It was a carnal sight, with everyone in various stages of undress. Harpies, centaur, ghosts, foreign beasts such as kitsune and raiju, all of them and more could be seen. He must have come right in the wake of conquest, as this part usually only lasted about a day before the monsters rebuilt their conquered territory.
As he passed by the Vasherton castle, he observed that the castle doors had been ripped off and thrown on the street. The foyer was now occupied by several large ogres fornicating with palace guards. Silas kept his head down and proceeded with caution.
Silas arrived at the docks without incident, not even an entire pack of werewolves he had crossed had been able to detect him. As he suspected the sailors were off their boats and instead on the docks. Most of them making obscene noises with their pants around their ankles as mermaids and mersharks attended to them in lurid display. Silas let out a groan, knowing his silencing spell would keep him safe.
Humanity was most certainly doomed without him.
He took a small ship at the edge of the dock, and not so carefully cut the ropes tying it to the dock with a quick spell. Time was of the essence, and he was more likely to be caught if he fumbled with the knots. Before anyone knew what was happening, a small schooner had been undocked and was sailing away. It vanished from sight, the occupied members of the docks too engrossed in their love-making to care.