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David, currently able to be in two places at once thanks to the Potion of Shadows, has just consummated his relationship with Ophelia and Delilah, and sold his soul for love. Marriage, in other words. But he’s unsure about the idea of polygamy, and needs further persuading by his new bicorn wife.
Meanwhile, David is also attempting to help the other Monster Army team retrieve the Chalice of Eternity before his former ally and friend Bernice takes it instead. But Aurora, the Queen of Winter is close, and her body still aches from Annabelle’s lead arrow.
Chapter 25: Assault on the Winter Palace
David had never been so cold.
He clutched to the white cloak Ophelia had gifted him, and was quietly grateful for Calypso’s boots. The only ones among his ragtag group not shivering was Yuurazha, who seemed surprisingly at home in the cold, and Persephone who instead seemed to be covered in a light coating of frost.
Though the camp had been covered in snow, up here in the mountains it was much deeper, and impeded their progress mightily. The wind was piercing, and seemed to go through most of their garments. Even Annabelle, who was decked in a fluffy white coat and breeches, shivered with every step.
“My God, how did you two deal with this?!” David snarled.
Alex wiped the snow from her mane as she forged ahead.
“Perseverance, my lord! Tis the warrior’s greatest weapon.”
Annabelle simply nodded, not wanting to get out of her scarf.
The jagged purple mountains in the distance were covered with clouds and mist as snow flew about every which way. David could see rather clearly despite the heavy snow, and was the last in the train behind Persephone, Yuurazha, Annabelle, Alexandra, and Trixie.
Trixie led the company, and wore the same leather bikini and knee-high boots she always did. David was surprised she wasn’t dying of hypothermia, but he supposed a Devil was more resilient than a human. She held in her hand a small brass device that looked a bit like a compass, with a diamond where the glass would be.
“Okay! According to this, the Chalice can’t be too far! Less than a mile to go!
They all gave a small cheer, glad that they had yet to contact the Ice Queen or her subjects.
“This is most fortunate, sir. Lady Delilah will be pleased.”
David shared a look with Yuurazha, who smiled at him while covered in white sparkling snow.
“I’m surprised it only took a few hours. I expected it to take longer.”
Persephone floated overhead, her body sparkling with excess water energy, even as frozen as it was.
“I suspect, master, that it had to do with the fact that her Winter Palace was well known. No need to search too hard for something most people know about.”
As they marched, David heard a distant howling, a wolf of some kind. It seemed an ominous omen, as they continued up the snowy rock-filled landscape. David saw few trees, the ones he did see were mostly dead. He certainly did not see any animals. In what seemed like hours of silent trudging, though in reality was most likely only a few minutes, they came to a steep cliff, hiding a large round field, and in the center, the Ice Queen’s Winter Palace.
It was beyond anything David had ever seen, the size of a small city, and towering over a hundred feet in the air. It was all made of sparkling glittering ice, with opaque and translucent patterns all around it in great swirling and snowflake-shaped etchings. The open field was covered in ice sculptures, carved into the shapes of trees and animals gleaming in the scant sunlight. The whole thing appeared to be made of glittering crystal and diamond. With tall towers and battlements, it seemed not just a measure of the Ice Queen’s opulence, but of her readiness for battle.
Unfortunately, they were not the first ones to arrive. Down below, he saw some of the sculptures move. Lithe women, carved of ice seemed to dart about the palace grounds, skating just above the snow on legs that ended in points.
Alex leaned close to him and cursed.
“These foul creatures are servants of the Ice Queen, my Lord. They are quite talented at battle.”
“If we had Calypso here, she’d put a quick end to them.” Annabelle muttered.
Trixie held up her small device and studied it for a moment before whispering to David.
“There’s still only one signature down there, so that must be the Chalice. These ain’t the same fellas as Alex ‘n ‘em fought. Must be here to guard the treasure.”
David nodded his head, thinking.
“Do we know if the Ice Queen will be coming to her Winter Palace anyway? She might just head over to Vasherton. From what you all told me, it seems likely she’d go straight for a source of people.”
“She will be in the vicinity, My liege. When we get close enough… she’ll detect you.”
David didn’t like the sound of that.
“I suppose I shouldn’t have come then.”
Yuura took hold of his arm rather suddenly, she was gentle, but David was surprised all the same. Especially when the others all jumped in agreeing with her. He nodded along, not really agreeing with them, but eager to get on with it.
“So, what’s our plan? We have to get in and out quickly. That sounds like a job for Yuura to me. Alex, Annabelle, you sound like the perfect combination to distract the glacies. As for Persephone, Trixie, and me though… I’m not sure.”
Trixie put away her magical detection device for a moment, which she was wearing like a necklace, and rubbed her chin in thought. David would never say anything, but the thought it very cute the way her face looked while she was thinking.
“I think we ought to go with Yuura. There’ll be more of ‘em inside ‘n they might be trouble. You and me can take ‘em ‘n slow ‘em down for Yuura.”
Persephone gently floated above him with a smile on her face, seemingly happy with the decision.
“Ok, I’m going to get us down there, then Alex and Annabelle will engage the glacies while the rest of us run towards the Palace doors.”
They all nodded, ready to fight.
David stood at the edge of the cliff, and concentrated. He could feel the faint amount of power Persephone was giving him. He pulled on it, and sent it deep into the snow. He doubted he’d be able to do this if he did not know how to wield magic before he bonded with her. He brought the energy back up to himself, and in a flurry, the snow shot forth from the ground and solidified. David crafted the snow as it came to meet the cliff’s edge, and in a matter of seconds a solid slide was formed to carry all of them down near a hundred feet to the icy gardens below.
The glacies noticed them almost immediately and began charging toward the slide. Spears formed out of crystal-ice within their delicate fingers as they flew. David and the others wasted no time and slid down, Annabelle and Alex choosing to fly instead. Trixie sat in David’s lap, the compass open, ready to lead.
As the glacies gained ground, they threw their spears like javelins. Alex let out a roar of flame, melting the spears before they could get too close. As David’s feet hit the ground, he got into a dead sprint, Trixie holding onto this waist for dear life. Yuura assumed a snake like form, charging through the snow like liquid lightning, and Persephone flew in the air right alongside her master.
The glacies were on them quickly, over a dozen of them. David threw up walls of hardened snow to protect himself and Trixie as spear thrust after spear thrust came close to ending his life. However, as the glacies circled him, he noticed they seemed to attack less and less often.
Alex and Annabelle were not so fortunate. They flew high above the reach of the ice spirits, but they were relentless in their assault. As soon as an ice javelin left their fingers, a new one would form. Annabelle seemed the worst off, Alex being the better flyer, but the cupid was quick, and fired black arrows at each glacies who came close. Few could dodge her return fire, and they fell into the snow when struck.
David worried about them slightly, but remembered being told on the way here that Annabelle’s arrows did not kill. As he approached the gates, David felt the snow beneath him shift. Almost on reflex he squashed what seemed to be tendrils of snow attempting to grab his ankles. However, it proved a distraction, as a blast of bluish-white magic hit him full on. He saw who hit him. A glacies who had been chucking spears at Alex.
He was suddenly overcome with a feeling of isolation, loneliness, of despair. His years of life without a female companion gripped at his mind, and he stopped dead in his tracks. His heart felt burdened, heavy…cold.
A contingent of glacies quickly came to subdue him, but Trixie let go of his chest then and began her own attack. He was surprised by the little Devil’s power. Shots of red lightning came from her fingertips as she kept the enemy at bay. From a creature that looked to be a twelve year-old girl, it seemed a great deal of power.
“David! Are you ok? What happened?!”
“They hit me with something. Its- its as if my soul went cold.”
Trixie grit her teeth and kept hammering, but thankfully, Alex flew overhead and put down a torrent of flame, distracting the glacies. Trixie turned to Yuura, frantic.
“Yuurazha! David got hit with a glacies’ blast!”
David picked himself up, brushing off the experience as it faded.
“It’s fine! Head to the gate!”
They entered the ice-tree garden immediately adjacent to the Palace and found the glacies had largely abandoned their fight with them to attack Alex and Annabelle who fell many of them with black arrows and bellows of flame.
Trixie flew forward to the gate, past the crystal-ice trees, and blasted the door with a massive ball of crackling white energy. Though the Palace shook with the force, and small icicles twinkled in the light as they fell from the ramparts, the door remained unmoved.
But it did attract the glacies who had been ignoring them.
Annabelle flew in close and Alex did the same, trying to keep them from reaching David and the others. It proved fruitless. They changed tactics, no longer forming icy spears. Instead they had that same icy-blue energy that had debilitated David forming in their hands. They let loose a barrage towards Yuura, Trixie, David, and Persephone.
David prevented the attack from reaching its targets. With a wave, the snow formed a wall between them, absorbing the blasts. Not two seconds later, however, the wall become naught but a white powder as the glacies burst from the other side.
Only to be stopped by a tsunami of snow from behind.
David, surprised, found Persephone smiling at him, as she continued to fend them off.
“Master, the palace is made of ice! You might be able to open it if I keep them distracted long enough!”
David nodded and turned back towards the gate. Yuura followed him, forming a translucent wall of black slime around him to keep him protected. Trixie fought alongside Persephone, keeping the glacies away.
Knowing he didn’t have a lot of time, David reached out his energy, and concentrated.
Magic worked by forcing your will upon the world. Extending your essence, your mana, your energy into the world and shaping it. Just like with everything else, some things were harder than others, and other things were better accomplished with help. With Persephone’s powers at his command, David had all the help he needed.
With a grunt, David forced a man-sized hole in the ice as it exploded inward in a shower of frost. It was harder than he had expected, the walls of the palace were magical, and reacted against him. He had to concentrate to keep the hole there, the walls were actively trying to repair themselves. No wonder Trixie had trouble.
“Get in, I can’t hold it for long!”
Yuura grabbed Trixie with an outreached tentacle and slithered inside quickly. The glacies’ attack increased in ferocity, trying to skate past the walls and barriers Persephone created. But Annabelle and Alex were so ferocious in their assault, the guards had to turn their attention to them lest they be defeated.
With the glacies distracted, Persephone floated quickly into the opening, and David followed after, allowing the palace to repair itself and close the hole he had made.
The silence inside the Winter Palace was an eerie thing, especially after the clamor of battle outside. Trixie and David were panting for breath, Yuura and Persephone seemed flustered, but otherwise composed.
“Well, we’re in.” said David.
The others smiled and nodded. They could just barely hear Annabelle and Alex on the other side, still fighting off the glacies. David turned towards Trixie, concern on his face
“You think they’ll be okay?”
“They’ll be fine. But we need to hurry. No tellin’ when ol’ queenie will be back. Now let’s see,” Trixie picked up the magic-detecting device again, and opened it. However, a look of confusion crossed her face as she did. “Uh, oh. Didn’t expect that.”
Davie didn’t like the sound of that.
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“Well… The palace must’ve been shielded. Look.”
David glanced over to the device, and saw what she was talking about. No longer was there only one little dot in the palace. Now that they were inside, there were dozens of dots, and David noticed rather quickly that Trixie and himself were not the only spellcasters. One other dot was moving, albeit slowly, in the palace near the opposite end.
“I wonder who that might be.”
Trixie spared a red eye to the device.
“Must be Silas or one of his lackeys.”
David’s face became grim.
“I knew we shouldn’t have waited two days. Let’s get moving. Yuura, you can grow extra eyes, right?”
“Yes, sir. As many as I need.”
“Good, can you make it so you can see in 360 degrees? I don’t want anyone to ambush us.”
“Of course, sir.”
Yuura’s elastic slimy body undulated as she formed more yellow eyes inside her black mass, they rested around her waist, as if they were a belt. David shook his head and smiled, impressed. She was the most monstrous woman he’d met so far, but damn if she wasn’t amazing.
“I can’t help but be impressed, Yuura. No other slime can do that, I bet.”
Her cheeks seemed to darken as she avoided eye-contact.
“N-no sir, as a shoggoth, I can shapeshift far more than any regular slime.”
As David caught his breath he instructed Trixie to lead them through the palace. She didn’t hesitate to follow his orders and began flying a few feet off the ground, nose buried in her magic compass. David followed after her, Persephone floating at his side, and Yuurazha trailing behind, her yellow belt of eyes keeping watch.
The palace was large, and although it was bright inside with the crystal ice letting in a large amount of sunlight, it was still hard to navigate. The entrance hall that they had entered had opened to a large room with multiple stairways, some made of opaque ice and hardened snow with other as clear as crystal. Each one led into a different direction, and while they had originally taken the one that seemed to point to the stationary blips of light on Trixie’s device, they had had to backtrack when it had lead only to a feasting hall.
David thought the whole place quite surreal. Though he knew it was a palace made of ice, he hadn’t thought about what the interior would look like. Besides the walls and ornate pillars, There were entire tables, chairs, statues, , chandeliers, paneled walls, plants, and even etched ‘paintings’ made of ice littering the abode. The Ice Queen lived just as, if not more, lavishly than any king of man.
As they continued their exploration, Trixie updated them frequently on the state of the other intruders in the palace, who seemed to be getting fainter, and had even come close to their own troop a time or two, though Yuura hadn’t seen them.
David was growing frustrated as they ended up in an observatory, a drawing room, and a library, having to retreat every single time. It seemed there was a large central chamber with a dozen magical artifacts hidden off with several rooms adjoining it. But try as they may, they found no secret entrances to get through.
“How long have we been wandering these halls?!” Exclaimed David, frustrated.
Persephone answered, oblivious to the rhetorical nature of the question.
“Well, master, I’m not too good with time, but I think its only been a few minutes.”
“Well, at least there’s that!”
“Oh crap,” Trixie sad in a huff. “There’s a new blip on the screen.”
David was about to ask her what she thought it might be when he felt a chill down his spine. The air seemed to grow slow and frigid, and the light that had sparkled inside the palace grew dim. Yuura, Persephone, and Trixie all seemed to feel it too, as they shivered and hugged themselves, trying to stay warm. David knew that they didn’t feel cold like he did. And so came to a conclusion he didn’t particularly like.
“It’s the Ice Queen isn’t it?”
“Its… possible.” Trixie said reluctantly, “If she’s here, though. Then what happened to Annabelle and Alex?”
As if to answer her question, a section of wall began to bubble and explode in a shower of steam. Yuura rushed to protect the others from the heat, forming a wall out of her slimy elastic body.
Panting heavily, Alex and Annabelle stumbled out of the hole, holding each other up and soaking with sweat. Alex looked especially out of it, having used the last of her strength to melt the wall.
David grew uneasy.
Alex made to say something, but grew limp in Annabelle’s arms. Annabelle shared a worrying look with David.
“We must leave. The glacies had reinforcements.”
“Is the Ice Queen with ‘em?” Trixie said, nervous.
“I-I don’t know. But these were the same ones I struck down before. They were immune to my Lead Arrows.”
“Then its likely she’s with them.” David said, a grimace on his face. “Trixie, where is she right now?”
Trixie fumbled with the device, bringing it back up to her face trying to make sense of the multiple shining lights now in the device. It was much harder now to figure out what was what. There were multiple stationary blips of light, with two moving, both of them coming closer.
Suddenly, with a flash of light, the device shattered, a thousand fragments of light and diamond falling on the ground in a shower of sparks. Trixie, David, Persephone, Yuura, and Annabelle were shocked into silence, as an eerie darkness came over the palace, the twinkling sunlight no longer piercing the ice of the palace walls.
Yuura was thrown off the hole she had been covering and smashed into the opposite wall, ice shattered, and if she had had any bones, David was sure they’d be broken.
Two lines of glacies marched inside, surrounding the group with sharpened icy spears, their faces no longer cool and collected, but burning with fury. They leveled their spears at the group, and one of them ordered them on their knees. David thought briefly of fighting, but then felt a horrid overwhelming amount of despair seep into his bones like a cold wind. He could see it in the others too, something overwhelmingly powerful was exerting a great deal of mana, and he had a sinking feeling he knew what it was.
Chapter 26: Aurora Arrives
From the hole emerged a tall imposing figure, crowned with a jagged crystal diadem, staff in hand. She had pale blue skin and darker blue hair. She towered over her minions and everyone else in the room, at least seven feet tall. Her dress was low cut, a royal blue velvet, studded with diamonds and cuffed with large sparkling crystal. The dress was worn loose, Her cleavage on display, and a good portion of her legs. She wore simple blue slippers on her feet, adorned with crystal. In her right hand she held a polished wooden staff painted blue, atop it was a large crystal snowflake, and on the bottom was a sharpened diamond cap.
“I did not think I would see you two again so soon, though I am most delighted that I have. I let you go before, yet now I find you breaking into my favorite home. I believe justice is called for. Tell me, where is the basilisk?”
Annabelle spoke, voice trembling.
“She’s not here.”
“No? Very well, I shall find her eventually. After I deal with you two and get to Vasherton.”
As the Ice Queen spoke, one of her minions seemed to just then notice David among the group, causing her eyes to go wide, and her mouth to become agape.
The Ice Queen turned to her, not happy to have been interrupted.
“What is it? Can you not see I am occupied?”
The glacies pointed a slender finger at David, a strange tilt in her voice.
The Ice Queen only glanced in David’s direction before returning her sight to Annabelle. But then she did a double take, surprise plain on her face. She cocked her head and became pensive. David didn’t like the way she was looking at him. Or the way her minions were looking at him, for that matter. It was far more intense than it had been just moments prior, as if they were sizing him up, evaluating him for something.
Then, one by one, the glacies began to smile. Wide grins began to spread among them. David shivered, feeling like a mouse among a litter of cats. His feelings only worsened when he spotted the Ice Queen towering over him, a broader smile than all the rest on her face.
“Well, well. It seems perhaps you will not feel the full brunt of my wrath. After all, you have brought me quite the tribute.”
With a sudden fury that surprised everyone, Persephone dashed in front of David, arms outstretched in a protective fashion, a fierce look on her face.
“I won’t let you have him!”
The Ice Queen’s smile vanished, and a look of contempt came upon her.
“And who are you? His pet? I can clearly sense his energy, he’s bonded with no one.”
“He’s bonded to me!”
Persephone seemed quite adamant in her assertion, a blush on her face. David felt an odd sensation, a mixture of admiration for her bravery, and shame he didn’t really understand her.
The Ice Queen rolled her eyes and waved a hand. From her palm a gust of wind struck out and hit Persephone square in her stomach, bowling her over. The others cried out in alarm as Persephone began to frost over, freezing. David rushed to her side, grabbing her before she hit the floor. She was freezing to the touch, her watery body now slowly turning to ice. David held her, horrified as she looked into his eyes.
In only a matter of seconds she was immobile, completely frozen.
“Take him to my chambers, the others, I want in the dungeon. There are also two other intruders here. I will take care of them. The rest of you I want to head to Vasherton.”
“But your majesty, could we not… um, share in the bounty?”
The Queen sent a cold glare at the glacies who had suggested it and let out a sneer.
“I do not share. Now go, carry out my commands. I will await your return here.”
The glacies saluted and proceeded to carry out her orders, grabbing Trixie, Annabelle, Alex, and Yuura by the arms, ready to guide them to the dungeons. But as they went to take Persephone away, David attempted to fight back. He attempted to use his newfound elemental powers, but they did not come to him. Persephone was out, and he knew they hadn’t formed a proper bond. He’d heard it a dozen times from others commenting on it. Now he wished he had. The glacies easily overpowered him and led him away.
This was not going according to plan.
Bernice was not amused.
She had traveled with Rupert, a man she hardly knew, to the far reaches of the mountains outside of Vasherton, a city she had just arrived at, to fix a mess that wasn’t her fault. Rupert was none too pleased to be here either, as he reminded her constantly.
“This is all that wizard’s fault, damn it. Everything was going fine before he showed up!”
That was another reason for her foul mood. How could David have betrayed them? He knew what the monsters were like, he’d fought them! She didn’t want to believe it, but she had seen it in his eyes. He had done something, hidden something. She had seen the shame.
“Rupert, we don’t have forever, do you know the way or not?”
Rupert told her to hush while he fiddled with an old map of the Palace. He neglected to tell her where he had found such a thing.
Rupert was a balding man with a bulbous nose, whose face was red even in fair weather. In the icy chambers of the Ice Queen’s palace his complexion had worsened. They had been able to teleport right inside the ice gardens and sneak in unopposed. That was thanks entirely to Rupert, bundled up in his brown furs. He had come to the Winter Palace before all this mess and had placed a teleportation disk in the gardens before coming back to Vasherton.
Imagine their surprise when the glacies were in a heated battle with a chimera and an angel when they emerged. It was clear that the Monster Army was here to take the chalice. Which meant they didn’t have a lot of time.
Bernice was itching for a fight, but Rupert firmly wanted to remain unnoticed. He didn’t think much of her, and sadly Bernice understood.
“Wait,” Rupert said, “Do you hear that?”
Bernice strained her ears, and she could indeed hear what sounded like a scuffle. Then she heard a loud blast of some kind. The Monster Army was here in the Palace then, they need to hurry.
“Are you telling me you were able to sneak under the shadow of the Ice Queen’s Winter Palace, and inexplicably find a map of the place, but you still can’t find the treasure room?!”
“Shut it! I’m doing my best here! It doesn’t make any sense, it shows the treasure room right in the damn middle of the Palace but not any doors! Its hidden, or something. Just keep looking.”
“We don’t have time to keep looking! This place is going to be swarming with enemies.”
Almost as soon as she had said it, they heard the sound of footsteps coming to their direction. They were in a large hallway, one end ending in stairs that curved around past the wall and up into another hallway, from the sounds, a large group was coming down that hallway, and would soon reach the stairs.
Rupert cursed and looked about trying to find a way out. Bernice joined him, and sadly, the hallways was too long to get out before the monsters would arrive. The hallway was long and straight with grand chandeliers overhead and large crystal vases on either side. Every once in a while, an opaque white pedestal stood where a vase would be, with glass sculptures of the Ice Queen herself.
Bernice grabbed Rupert by the arm and dragged him behind one of the pedestals, it wasn’t the greatest of hiding spots, but it was better than being in the open.
“Are you nuts?! This is never going to work!”
“Do you have a better idea, old man?”
Rupert grumbled a retort, stating he wasn’t that old before he crouched, indignant. It was just in time as two long lines of glacies, spears in hand, marched through with pointed shards where feet out to be, floating above the ice. Miraculously, they did not turn their heads, and Rupert and Bernice remained hidden.
Bernice thanked God for their luck as the troop of monsters went past. She ducked her head, and waited, the balding Rupert by her side not daring to take a breath. But then, at the tail-end of the procession, she saw something that caused her heart to jump into her throat.
David was a prisoner to the glacies, bound in icy chains. Behind him were other monsters, a slime, a demon, an angel, a freaking chimera, and the undine he had stolen. A storm of emotions gripped her stomach. Worry, anger, betrayal, and confusion wracked her mind. Rupert placed a hand on her shoulder, and put a finger to his lips. She knew she should keep still for the greater good. But right now she wanted nothing more to step out from her hiding spot and demand answers. Demand answers, or kill him. She couldn’t quite make up her mind on that just yet.
They passed out from the hall and as soon as they had come they were gone. Rupert and Bernice kept still long after they had passed, however. Neither wanted to risk a fight between that many monsters.
Finally Rupert indicated it was time to go, and left their hiding spot. But no sooner had he done so, than did Bernice feel a horrible cold penetrate her soul.
She turned towards the stairs, her face white as a sheet as a shadow descended the she steps. They quickly hid once more, but neither of them felt any safer. She began to shiver and was unsurprised to see her breath escaping her lips as she heard the monster descend the stairway.
Turning the corridor was the creature they had been trying to avoid at all costs, the Ice Queen, beautiful and radiant. Her face was impassive, staring ahead, as she strolled along on blue slippers and staff in hand. Even without heels she stood at seven feet tall, dwarfing both Bernice and Rupert. Bernice could feel her oppressive presence, the Ice Queen’s cold mana seeping into her bone. Rupert felt much the same, shivering despite his warm furs.
Suddenly, Bernice’s vase shattered.
She and Rupert were revealed, and above them was the icy glare of the Ice Queen.
“Ah, there you are. Let’s make this quick, shall we? I have business in my bedchamber.”
Bernice wasted no time in her swing, unleashing her sword and delivering a heavy uppercut. The Ice Queen blocked it with her staff and effortlessly batted it away.
“Ah, so you wish to resist. Very well then.”
Rupert quickly backed away, and chanted some magical spell which Bernice felt the power of immediately. Rupert was not well versed in battle-oriented magic, but instead new many spells that increased the health and vitality of the body. In this case, Bernice felt her head clear, and her vision sharpen, a clarity of thought coming to her. She rolled out of the way of a lazy swing of the Ice Queen’s staff and made another swing, which the Ice Queen blocked once again.
“Who are you two, I wonder? Members of the Church? Now why would you be here?”
Bernice did not answer, and instead unleashed a flurry of blows in quick succession, which actually managed to get the Ice Queen to back up, though her face was still impassive. Her eyes lazily drifted to Rupert. A slight smile adorned her face.
“I see the fat one is male, My soldiers will have fun with him.”
Bernice let out a bellow as she felt Rupert cast another spell on her, making her faster, increasing her reflexes. The Ice Queen matched her fury, however, and still did not seem overly concerned. With a flash the Ice Queen sent out a long slender leg and kicked Bernice square in the chest, causing her to fly backward into one of the vases and shatter it.
Rupert quickly ran to her side and got herout to her feet, but her ribs felt like fire, she grimaced and held her quickly bruising torso. However, Rupert’s hands glowed a bright yellow light before laying hands upon her midsection, causing the pain to vanish. She didn’t have time to wonder if the injuries were healed or just the pain, because the Ice Queen was starting to fight seriously.
Both she and Rupert dodged out of the way as the Ice Queen brought the snowflake-ornamented end of her staff down with a crash. It slammed down into the ice, causing a spider-web of cracks.
Bernice wasted no time in retaliating, slashing the Ice Queen’s torso with her blade. She yelled out in pain as the blade bit deeply into her side, bright red blood now splattering the ice. But the Ice Queen did not show any signs of anger, only a slight frustration as a cold wind seeped from inside of her body, causing the wound to freeze shut. She turned to Bernice, a curious look in her eyes. She swept her staff quickly along the floor and tripped up Bernice and Rupert.
With a wave of her hand she shot out blast of cold wind that swept over the both of them, encasing them in ice. She shook the ice off her torso revealing the cut had already healed, and stalked closer to the two.
“I should have just done that in the first place.”
But they didn’t stay frozen.
The Ice Queen’s eyes grew wide as the two burst out of their icy cocoons, shivering and gasping for breath.
Bernice and Rupert shared a glance at each other, and then at their rings. Small silver rings with emerald gems inlaid within them.
“I see,” Said the Ice Queen, her calm returning. “You two are from Vasherton. I recognize those rings. Back when I fought a Lord Vasher. You must be here for some important reason then if he let you two into his private Artifact collection.”
Then, a sudden realization hit her.
“So that’s what you’re here, for my Chalice.”
Bernice didn’t give her a chance to speculate further, roaring in fury and delivering a succession of blows. She knew she likely didn’t stand a chance, but that didn’t mean she was going to cower and hide. Rupert’s spells seemed to strengthen as she heard him chant behind her, lending her strength and speed in equal amounts. The Ice Queen no longer batted her blade away with ease, but actually seemed to be exerting some effort in keeping her onslaught at bay.
She stepped into an upper slash and was surprised when the Ice Queen ducked underneath it.
She was suddenly picked up over the Ice Queen’s shoulder and flipped backward onto the ice. She landed hard, feeling her backside bruise.
She didn’t have time to dwell on that as she heard a garbled cry from Rupert. She turned quickly on her heel and found the Ice Queen holding Rupert by the neck and hand, attempting to remove his ring. She rushed forward to his rescue, but was blocked by another rush of cold wind emitted from the Ice Queen’s palm.
She was frozen for only a second, but that was all it took.
She broke free from her icy prison as she did the last time, but was too late to save Rupert who lay as a frozen statue at the feet of their enemy, his ring pulled free from his hand and now in the clutches of the Ice Queen.
Bernice gave pause.
“You know,” said the Ice Queen, “You two are actually doing quite well. I haven’t had this much trouble in a long time. It was smart to wear these rings. However, it hardly outweighs the folly of trying to steal from me.”
“We don’t have much choice.”
The Ice Queen quirked her eyebrow at that.
But Bernice remained quiet. She had heard that the Icy Kingdoms of the Ice Queens did not bow to the Overlord, but that didn’t mean they were friends of man.
“Very well, remain silent. It makes little difference. You two were hardly going to find the chalice anyway. Humans can’t get to the treasury. I saw to that many years ago after too many of your kind came to steal away my things.”
Bernice didn’t wait for the monster to finish, instead she slid into a stance she’d practiced since her youth. As usual it was her against the world. As it always was. Her mother wouldn’t save her, the church wouldn’t save her. She couldn’t rely on Rupert; she couldn’t rely on David. She could rely on one person, and only one person. Herself. Just like always.
She slid into a series of katas.
And then she attacked.
The Ice Queen fumbled back at the speed and fury of Bernice’s blade, unable to keep up with the unusual patterns of her attack. A swipe to the left, with the blade pointed down. A swipe to the right, blade vertical. A slash across the midsection and three steps back, blade twirling over-head. The moves flowed into one another, but were hard to read. The Ice Queen was strong, true, but she was not a soldier. She was random in her attacks, all of them improvised. That could benefit you if you could overwhelm. But Bernice had been trained to deal with overwhelmed.
The staff of the ice spirit swung wide, leaving the monster’s torso bare. Bernice slashed at her quickly, her reflexes still enhanced by the spells Rupert had cast. She struck and a long red line appeared in the creature’s flesh. Bernice quickly retreated as the staff swung back, with force. A statue of the Ice Queen shattered as the staff hit it. But the Queen did not slow in her assault. Bernice kept stepping back and to the side.
It was dangerous, trying to distance herself from someone with such an advantage in reach, but she couldn’t get close for fear of being deprived of her ring like Rupert had been. There! She was open again! Bernice shot forth and stabbed her once more in the torso, just left of her navel. The Ice Queen made no sign of even feeling it, as she made to grab Bernice. But Bernice was also fast thanks to those spells, and slipped past the Queen’s grip, slashing against the creature’s thighs and cutting her magnificent gown. At this the Ice Queen finally started to break, and dropped her staff completely, her palms at her side trailing wisps of twinkling white vapor.
The Ice Queen let out a gust of cold wind to sweep over Bernice, who rolled to the side and behind a vase to avoid it. She wouldn’t be immobilized long, but even a few seconds could spell defeat. She rushed out from the vase as the Ice Queen’s staff pierced it like a javelin, shattering it. Bernice spared a glance at the Ice Queen now, who had lost her cool composure, Her face was curled up in a snarl, and steam escaped her wounds, ice encasing them as they healed.
Gust after gust of wind shot past as she ran along the hallway, using the vases and statues to block the freezing blasts, trying to think of a plan.
She couldn’t get close, her ring would be taken. She couldn’t stay far away, eventually the Ice Queen would immobilize her and then take the ring. As sweat dripped down her forehead, she began to wish she wasn’t wearing such bulky clothes. Then an idea struck her.
Aurora was angry. More angry than she could remember being in a long time. Attacked at her home a little over a week ago, struck with some strange black arrow. It had awoken her to something… buried in the frozen depths of her heart. Desire, desire for… unseemly things. She had shown mercy then. A mistake. They had come to rob her second home, steal from her while she disgraced herself with base urges. And then, another pair of thieves!
How dare they?! How dare they try to steal from her? The Queen of Winter?! She expected them to fall prostrate, declaring how wrong they had been, begging for leniency. She had finally found someone to indulge her new desires with. She was in a good mood. She might have let them go.
But then they had assaulted her, drawn her blood. The tiny woman was frustratingly difficult to hit, and her magic was hard to draw in, so hot was her lust. She hated it. She hated this whole situation. Her desires had only grown since her heart was pierced, though she put on a graceful countenance regardless. Fighting was just irritating, distracting her from the prize she had already claimed. It was waiting in her bedchamber! And yet this girl. This frustratingly competent girl…
She had made her bleed.
She forced her desire back down and scowled. She wanted this to end quickly, but acting rashly would only cause her more pain. She couldn’t heal herself forever. Eventually she’d run out of mana.
“No more of this! It ends now!”
She stretched her hands out upward, palms facing the sky.
The cold winds at her command began to swirl about her palms, faster and faster, colder and colder. A great vortex began to unfurl, and the air within her Palace began to drop. Snow began to materialize out of the air and her hair was whipped back and forth as the winds rampaged. She was distracted, deep down, by that longing and pain the black arrow had left in her heart, and it distracted her from her wrath. But she pushed a considerable amount of her being into the blizzard regardless.
It wouldn’t matter if she couldn’t hit the girl. She would-
She saw a flurry of furs dash out from behind a vase, and immediately brought down her wrath. In an instant her blizzard flashed forward in a great rush of blue light and raging winds. It slammed into the girl and pushed her into the wall behind. The entire wall froze in a great wave of sparkling ice-crystal, the hallway became filled with jagged ice splayed out in every direction, in the shape of a great wave.
But just as Aurora was about to celebrate victory, she saw a flash of steel, and then felt the bite of it sliding deep into her belly. She felt herself dropping to her knees, but it seemed to happen to someone else.
She shifted her eyes to the bundle caught in the clutches of her icy prison and saw it only to be a bundle of furs. The girl, she saw now, had thrown her cloak out to distract her. And when Aurora had let her guard down, the girl had thrown her blade.
It was impressive, she thought. To deal such a blow by throwing your weapon. Such a thing was dangerous of course, leaving you unarmed. But through her blurry vision she saw the human escape, dashing up the stairs. Ah, so that was it. This was a distraction then.
Aurora felt like closing her eyes, she was starting to get sleepy. She saw a pool of red at her feet, stark against the ice. What a nasty color, red was. She preferred the purity of white, the serenity of blue. She concentrated, trying to focus. She grasped the blade, knowing that she needed to remove it to heal… but at the same time if she didn’t have enough mana to heal, she would bleed out even faster with the weapon removed.
Mana was a curious thing. It was the power behind all things. The essence of life. And as such it was found in the cast-offs of life, tears, sweat, semen… and blood. As her lifeblood slipped away so too did her mana. She grunted and tugged on the blade. She screamed. It hurt so much, more than anything she had ever felt. Everything but… that loneliness, the heartache that even now was festering inside. Thinking of dying, without that loneliness being quenched, it hurt far more than that blade in her gut.
She screamed once more as she pulled the blade free, fully, and tossed it clattering onto the ice. Heaving, she concentrated, and forced her mana to flow towards her wound. She could feel the blood leaving her, and she grew dizzy, but slowly, the steam began to form and leak out of her wounds. It was working. She just needed an extra push.
From the corner of her eyes, she saw one of her subjects, Krysta, entering the hallway. She shouted something, but Aurora ignored her. She focused on her wounds, pouring her mana into them and was rewarded with a cool feeling and the sight of ice forming over the gaping hole. She smiled, tired.
I will survive
She stood on shaking knees as her servant lent her aid. Aurora still wasn’t paying attention to what she was saying. But she knew she had orders to give.
“Track down that last human. She won’t be much trouble without a weapon and those spells enhancing her will wear off soon. Speaking of which,” She pointed to the still-frozen fat-man. “That is for you and your sisters. You may all share him if you wish, or one of you may claim him and the rest go on to Vasherton. I care not which you choose.”
Krysta bowed and thanked her, gracious for the opportunity to end her pain. Aurora knew all too well how it distracted from the world. At times you could only focus on the ache inside. It was curious. She had thought the ache would be constant and biting, as it was when the arrow had first struck her heart. But that was not how it acted. At times it would abate, at other times surge, nothing but thoughts of debauchery and desire, misery and despair. It would never leave entirely, but it did weaken at times.
Right now the urge was overwhelming, the ache deep and shaking. The need to… love.
“Krysta,” Aurora said as she leaned on her loyal servant. “Please help me to my bedchamber before you gather your sisters.
“I want to enjoy my prize.”
Chapter 27: David’s Doubts
The heat of the sun returned with full force as night abated. Delilah had warned them when they had settled down into camp that they’d wake up needing to have their “temperature regulation spells” re-applied. As David awoke, he was drenched with sweat, though thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it could be. He had returned to the camp with Delilah and Ophelia in tow, almost immediately, the others had started giving glances at them with a knowing look in their eyes. No one said anything, however. Not even when Delilah had said she and Ophelia were sharing a tent with him.
He went to sleep naked, curled up with his two new lovers, embracing Ophelia after another bout of love-making. He didn’t know how he had lived all these years without knowing a woman. It was beyond bliss. Ophelia was so sweet and soft, warm and caring. He couldn’t believe he had worried about accepting her advances.
Although, as he turned to the side, to his other lover still holding on tight to him he knew why. Though her face was angelic in its beauty, the blue skin and curled ram horns betrayed her as the demon she was. She had been scheming for this since they had met. He had yet to officially take her maidenhood, a fact he found as ludicrous as two women seducing him of all people. But they had engaged in a variety of sexual activities to the point where he thought calling her a virgin was… stretching the truth to the point of ridiculousness.
He laid a hand on her cheek, regardless, very happy to have her by his side. He knew he now truly was the traitor Silas accused him of being, but he couldn’t bring himself to feel any guilt. He hadn’t meant for this to happen…but now that it had… well, why not? It was hardly his fault. He hadn’t stolen the blade, he hadn’t betrayed them. Yet he had been arrested at the drop of a hat.
He shook his head and focused on the beauty laying her body next to him. Like himself, she was naked, her large voluptuous breasts were pressed against him, soft and warm. Her arm was draped over him, and his arm rested over her thighs and under her stomach in the remnants of an embrace they had shared last night.
She opened her eyes with a smile, as if she had been awake the entire time, and was merely pretending to slumber. Her golden eyes flit over his naked body as she licked her lips and pulled him in closer. He smiled, and pressed her close in turn, entwining their bodies together.
“Morning, Love. Hot one today, I can already feel your body sweating.”
“Yeah, I guess your spells have a time limit, huh?”
She kissed him on his lips, gently, without the ferocity of the night before. He felt a tingle spread from his lips to the rest of his body, absolving him of the oppressive heat in an instant. She gave him a little nibble on his bottom lip before parting.
David couldn’t help but smile. This was utterly insane, of course. But it felt right. It had been a long time since anything had ever felt this right. He cupped the bottom of one of Delilah’s breasts and gently began to play with it. Just being able to casually touch such a beautiful woman was still novel to him. Just being able to play with her, it was amazing! Did other men get to do this sort of thing?
From his side, he felt Ophelia lock her two front legs around his waist and her arms hug him close to her breasts. Her face nestled in the crook of his neck as she slowly began to hump him. He smiled and used his free hand to rub one of her knees. This was paradise.
However, he knew they needed to get going.
“As much as I’d like a repeat before we get up, I think we need to get going. We don’t know when Silas will reach the ruins. Or even if he’s already there.”
Delilah and Ophelia gave a heavy sigh, annoyed with him.
“You’re right of course, Love. But you wouldn’t deny your lovers breakfast now would you?”
“And what is it that you two want to eat?” David replied coyly.
Ophelia snickered and kissed the back of his neck.
“Well… I know what I want~”
David felt Ophelia’s hands wander to his crotch, gently patting and rubbing his cock. He took a sharp intake of breath at the pleasant sensation, a blush still coming to his cheeks and his ears reddening. He smiled lazily as his member became fully erect with her soft ministrations. His little buddy knew what was about to happen and was just as excited as he was.
Delilah’s tail wrapped around his shin as her legs intertwined with David underneath Ophelia’s forelegs. David wanted to shift and embrace Ophelia, but she had a firm grip around him as the big spoon and had a gentle rhythm as she pumped his cock to raging erection. He settled for his continued groping of Delilah’s breasts, placing a blue nipple in-between his thumb and forefinger, and gently rubbing it. She cooed in appreciation. He continued rubbing and pinching, encouraged by her cries of delight. As his hands played with the soft flesh, he got an idea.
“I, uh. You think I could- I mean-” He wanted to suck on her nipple, but wasn’t sure if that was weird. Delilah, though seemed to read his mind and nodded placing a clawed hand behind his head and pulling him into her. He latched on and licked her tentatively, still rather new to the act of love-making. Delilah reassured him
“Love, that contract wasn’t one-sided. You can do anything you want to me. I don’t mind at all!”
David continued to fondle, kiss, and lick at Delilah’s breasts as Ophelia now used both hands to fondle his genitals. One to knead his sack, a gentle motion with just a slight bit of pressure, and one to rub the head of his member in fast circular motions. He’d never felt anything quit like it, and he could feel pressure start to build as his hips began to hump closer to Delilah in eager anticipation of release.
Both girls noticed the change and shared a look between each other. Ophelia ceased her ministrations, and Delilah gently pushed David onto his back, rather than his side. He laid flat on his back now, with Delilah and Ophelia on either side of him. He was still in a bit of a daze as they meandered down to his shaft with lust in their eyes.
David felt hot despite the spell keeping him cool, the sticky sensation of bare bodies lying atop each other, the steady grinding of their sexes on his bare skin as they grabbed at his legs and their wet tongues lathered his manhood. His breath came in short ragged bursts as he drowned in the sensations they gave him, kissing his member… and each other, with quick bursts of passion. His hands found their way to their horns and he grabbed on tight, delighting in their smooth coolness.
Suddenly his breath escaped him, his grip on their horns, one straight and spiraled, the other curved and jagged, tightened. A pair of lips sucked on his shaft, soft tongue licking at his sensitive skin, and the other enveloped the head of his cock, hot breath a sensational contrast to the cool air. His thick cum sprayed forth in great ropes, wave after wave of white pearlescent seed escaping his cock, dribbling out of Ophelia’s mouth as she suckled and dripping onto Delilah’s face as it came down the shaft.
He never came this much before, not even close. But whether by magic or arousal, he seemed to be an endless fountain of white cum in their embrace. Even when Ophelia’s mouth departed his manhood it shot forth three more jets of hot cum right on her face. She giggled as Delilah wrapped her arms around her and began sucking up the seed into her own mouth.
This wasn’t quite what David had imagined how he’d end up. He imagined married life in the past, of course. Dreamed about it. This was beyond his wildest fantasies, straight out of an adolescent wet dream. And strangely, he didn’t really mind.
Delilah and Ophelia embraced each other one last time, entwining tongues before they looked to him with large puppy-dog eyes. David briefly realized they wanted something.
“While I do like kissing Delilah, I much prefer kissing you, David.”
David smiled and joined his two lovers. It was a three-way hug where both rested their heads on his shoulders. He liked that. He was too short for them to do it standing up. He normally didn’t mind that kind of thing, but being down here on the floor, he realized that he may have been missing out. Of course, being eye-level with their beautiful bosoms was a pretty good trade-off.
He was still new to kissing, but it wasn’t about skill, it was about showing affection. It was about love. He delighted in the feel of Ophelia, in her embrace, in the silken caresses of her hair as it brushed against his face. He delighted simply in her. And she delighted in him.
The three continued in their three-way embrace for a few minutes more before getting dressed and ready for the day. As David left his tent he saw Nona just outside, sitting with her knees underneath her and a longing sadness on her face. He felt pained at seeing her in distress, and went to see what was wrong.
The others, Lakshmi, Calypso, and Arsa were already up and taking down their tents. They looked at David briefly, all with rather blank expressions before returning to work. David had expected something like this. He may have somehow inexplicitly attracted two women at the same time, but he knew the others had fancied him. Chances are they’d take it hard. He realized it would have been far wiser to have waited. But then, Delilah and Ophelia hadn’t exactly asked him the best time to seduce him.
He knelt down next to Nona.
“Hey, what’s wrong? You okay?”
Nona lifted her large green eyes to David with a sullen look, and he noticed her earthen skin had dried a bit, and started to crack. He hoped that was due to the sun, and not due to any emotional turmoil. Which he wasn’t so sure wasn’t the case. Their eyes met for only a moment before she averted them bashfully, though she said nothing.
David placed a hand gently on her shoulder, and after a few moments, she spoke.
“I- Well. Hmm. Master, I am sad.”
She said it almost like she was ashamed, and David had a good guess what she meant. He could hardly believe she was the small little sphere that had helped him escape Silas in what seemed a lifetime ago.
“What are you sad about?” David asked, though he suspected he knew the reason.
Nona didn’t respond right away, instead flitting her eyes to Delilah and Ophelia, who had just exited the tent. Delilah wore a new outfit, this one a white blouse loose fitting in the chest with a deep neckline that barely covered her cleavage, and long tan-colored trousers with brown leather thigh-high high-heeled boots. Ophelia wore the same black armor, sans helmet, including her staff, strapped to her side. It actually was rather attractive, hugging her far more tightly than human armor. He wondered if it was actually practical or entirely ornamental.
David let his eyes drift back to the girly little gnome kneeling in front of him, who seemed to stare at the two longingly. Just as he was about to ask her one more time how she was feeling, she spoke up. She spoke softly, almost a whisper.
“I wanted to mate with you too.”
There it was. David sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck, not really knowing how to handle the situation. He had done a lot of things, but sex and relationships were pretty new to him. Monster girls were pretty new to him too, which was why it utterly shocked him when Delilah came up behind him with a smile on her face and said,
“Oh don’t worry about that, dear! You will! Probably in a couple of minutes.”
David’s jaw dropped.
Nona didn’t register what had happened at first, but then began to beam as Delilah’s words began to register. Delilah squatted down next to them as the tent behind them was sucked up into a scroll by Ophelia, who smiled as she wrapped twine around the scroll. David just stared dumbfounded at his demon lover, not fully registering what was happening.
“Ophelia and I aren’t selfish, Dear. We’ll be letting everyone have a turn with Hubby. You especially! We need to get across that canyon, and for that we need a proper bond with our cute little Elementalist and his lovely little gnome~.”
“Now wait a minute!”
Delilah and Nona looked at him with cocked heads and confused looks.
“What do you mean you’ll be letting everyone have a turn? I thought…” Had he misread this entire situation? He had thought he was something special to Ophelia and Delilah. Was he actually just a feeding bag for the troops? Had he been duped so completely and utterly? “Am I just a-a… toy for all of you!?” David spoke with a tinge of anger but was mostly hurt and confused.
“What?! No, Love! Not at all! I thought you would want a lot of beautiful wives! And these are the best women I know! Where is this coming from? Love, I promised you all the carnal pleasure I could give, I’m only keeping my end of the bargain!”
David could only vaguely remember the contract from the night before. His head had been swimming with lust and confusion.
“I should have asked this before, but… what am I to you? Ophelia, what am I to you?”
They answered in unison, with a pained expression on their faces.
“You’re our husband.”
“I’m… married, to you? To both of you?”
Now it was Delilah and Ophelia’s turn to look confused. They shared a look of concern with each other before nodding their heads. The other girls looked rather uncomfortable, but had nowhere else to be, so shuffled aimlessly as an awkward silence built up.
David’s ears turned red, embarrassed, but not really knowing why. He felt… happy? That they had called him husband, it made him feel desired, wanted, intimate. But they had just had sex right? That was all? No, he reminded himself, Delilah had presented a contract to him, eternal carnal pleasure… for his heart, mind, and soul. Gods damn it! Had Silas been right? Had he betrayed everything for the pleasures of the flesh?! He began to worry that he had acted in haste and anger, his thoughts turning to the past couple weeks.
His mind cleared as he felt Ophelia embrace him, placing his head between her breasts.
“David, do you remember the conversations we had in the forest when we first met?”
“What does this have to do with anything?”
Ophelia only smiled.
“When you were talking about your brother, and how you were never jealous of him, but how you wished you had known women like he did? How many women did he know, exactly?”
“Is it? You don’t think he loved those women?”
David wanted to break her embrace and storm off, sit down and think for himself. Things were changing fast, and he was getting turned around and confused because of it. He had shared that Devon had loved a string of different women, and he was often not the reason the relationships went sour. David was there for him every time, and while he was never jealous of his brother, he did… envy him somewhat. He didn’t hate his brother, but he would have liked to know how he overcame the stigma of being a wizard. How he charmed people so easily, took charge of a situation. But at the same time, he remembered many lonely nights where his brother would take on a different demeanor, a quiet somber atmosphere would come upon all four of them. Because while his brother could brighten a room with his cheer, he could also suck the life out of it with his gloom.
David shook his head and tried to break Ophelia’s embrace, but she held him firm. The other girls were surrounding them now, strange looks on their face.
Ophelia smiled and continued.
“I was the first woman you ever loved, and I’m happy about that. I love you, and I’m so happy you chose me as your first. You were my first man, and you will forever be my one and only.”
David looked around himself, to the others. Calypso and Lakshmi were smiling coyly, but Arsa seemed rather intrigued at what was happening, a slender finger twirling one of her head-tentacles.
“What does this have to do with anything?”
“A lot of men love several different women throughout their lives, and many women do the same. It’s a horrible thing that leaves a lot of people scarred and broken.” She paused a bit, and David was able to break the silence.
“I know… I’ve seen it happen. But that’s why I don’t want to do that. Its why I thought we were-” He looked at Delilah, the situation finally hitting home without two lovely women pressing into him, overwhelming his baser instincts. “Its why I thought we were exclusive, more or less…”
David trailed off, what did he even know about monsters anymore? Back in his day Delilah would have used that contract she had him sign to condemn him to hell. And he’d fallen for it! He looked into the cerulean eyes of Lakshmi, the viridian eyes of Nona, the violet eyes of Arsa…
“by the Gods, what have I done? I’ve become exactly what Silas thought I’d become. I’ve become what Bernice thought I’d become.”
Without hesitation, Ophelia hugged him tighter.
“No! No! not at all! You meant every word you said to them! I know it! You shared so little with me in the forest because you didn’t want to betray them! That was my fault! You’re a good man! And I want you to be rewarded for that! Its not going to be like with others. Haven’t you ever dreamed, on a lonely night, what it would be like? If you had multiple women, all at the same time? Even better, if they actually liked you, and stayed with you? I know you’ll like it! Think of the fun you had with me and Delilah!”
“And is this you speaking? Or her? She changed you, Ophelia! Don’t you remember Sarash? You didn’t offer me to her, you protected me!”
“That was different! She didn’t love you!”
“And they do?!”
David was greeted to gasps and shocked faces from all present. Although he wanted to believe they’d understand, they looked hurt. More than hurt, they looked devastated, as if he’d betrayed them in the most devastating way possible. He felt shame looking at their faces, but… well he was right wasn’t he? Arsa had saved him from Silas’s clutches, and while he was grateful for that, they’ hardly known each other for three days. The same could be said of Nona, of Calypso, and of Lakshmi. Especially Lakshmi! Of all of them, he knew the Apsara the least.
Looking into her eyes, welling with tears, though, he felt like the monster.
He ducked his head and finally broke the embrace with Ophelia. He walked off into the desert, to think for himself. He needed some space. No one followed after him, A fact which both relieved him and perturbed him for reason s he didn’t want to think about. He crested a hill and sat down in the dirt and hot stones, looking off into the distance.
Time passed, and the sun climbed high in the sky. He did not feel the heat however, thanks to Delilah’s spell. He began thinking of other things other than his newly self-declared wives attempting to get him in bed with other women. He needed to keep his mind focused on the present. How were they going to get across the canyon? Delilah wanted him to strengthen his connection with Nona. Through sex, of course. Because in this crazy new world, that seemed to drive the entire world. But surely there was another way?
Perhaps he could create a platform out of the earth and ferry them across one at a time? Like the ice disk he had used to fight Silas. That of course just brought other thoughts into his head. Silas had warned him of the demographic collapse of the world that would result should the monsters win. But his solution, reverting the monsters back into the beasts David had once fought… it was worse. As strange as the situation he found himself in was, reverting these lovely creatures into blood-thirsty beasts was unthinkable.
He heard someone approach from behind him. They were walking on two feet, so that meant it could only be two people, Lakshmi or Delilah.
The lovely water-nymph was the one who’d come to see him. She was graceful in her steps, even on the loose sands and stone. He didn’t greet her as she approached, and instead became painfully aware of the conversation he was trying to avoid.
She sat down next to him, her knees up to her chest, which was difficult to do given the enormity of her breasts. She did not greet him either, and instead stayed silent. David shifted his weight, uncomfortable.
Finally, after a few moments, Lakshmi spoke.
“You know, we still need to get past the canyon.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve been thinking about it.”
Lakshmi sighed deeply, hugging her knees even tighter.
“You don’t have to… mate, with all of us. But, you’re already bonded to Nona. And she’s accepted you as her Master. To reject her now… she would have no one.”
David let out a breath he was holding. He really didn’t want to talk about this right now. But, well she was pushing it. He looked over to her, dusky skin the color of dark sand, she had a gentle face, and as she looked at him balefully, with large sparkling green eyes, he felt even worse. But, he cursed himself, he did feel a bit of arousal as well. She hadn’t changed clothes, she wore the same thing she wore the first time he’d met her in the snow.
Her outfit was a sheer white silk that only barely covered her nipples, allowing ample view of her breasts. It clasped to a golden collar which emphasized her neck, which seemed almost as sensual as the conventional places a man would look. Her legs were smooth and clear of any blemish or discoloration, and drew attention to her bare feet, which seemed completely at ease even on the hot desert sands. Her hair flowed like water down her back, shimmering in the hot sun. Every inch of her stood out to David, which made him even more flustered, and frustrated. He had just given himself to Ophelia and Delilah, he shouldn’t think such thoughts.
Even if the women he’d given himself to thought like that.
He ended up even more frustrated as he took in her beauty, forcefully reminding himself that he barely knew her.
“Why do you hate me?”
David was completely taken aback by the statement. Hate her? Where had she gotten that ludicrous idea? Just because he didn’t love her? He shook his head in fierce denial.
“I don’t hate you, Lakshmi! That’s not what I said!”
“I love you.” Lakshmi said, sweetly, almost coyly.
David rolled his eyes. This was just a clumsy attempt to guilt him, wasn’t it?
“No you don’t.”
“I do! I want to, So I am!”
“That’s not how love works! Love is-it’s-” He stopped for a moment, trying to think. This was more than he had expected to deal with. “Love is earned! Its built over time, shared experiences, stuff like that.”
“That’s how it’s built, sure, but not how it starts. It starts by someone wanting to love someone else. And I want to love you. We all do. What’s wrong with that?”
“I’ve never seen a love like that last.”
“You’ve never loved a servant of Eros either.”
David fell silent. Sometimes he forgot they weren’t human. It was easy, with the way they talked. It also helped that he liked to talk to them without actually looking at them.
Lakshmi placed a soft delicate hand on top of David’s. He let it stay.
“Why is it so hard to believe that we love you?”
“Because if it was that easy… if it was that easy, the whole time…”
Suddenly she understood. He had watched from the sidelines for years, made it into his mid twenties never knowing a woman’s touch, her intimate smile, her warm embrace. She had no doubt he’d tried to make some connection, some overture of romance to a woman in all that time. Most likely he had tried several times. And he had failed. She felt a well of sadness and pity for him and knew that she couldn’t show it. He would scorn that pity. His pride hurt, his confidence dashed. He’d been pushed into this, and although she was sure he derived a great deal of pleasure from it… he’d been taught his whole life by the Order that matrimony was between one man and one woman. Devout or no, that was not a sentiment easily broken. It was a miracle Delilah had been able to coax him into her bed with Ophelia.
Well, a miracle or a great deal of Demon magic.
“What did I even do, anyway? What did I do that now, four- no- six women want me as their husband? That they’re just willing to be mine, and I theirs with no thought to the future, or if it’ll work out with each other, or if any of them get jealous? What did I do? I haven’t done anything! I’ve been dragged along one side of the map and up the other ever since I woke up! Arsa and Nona rescued me, but they act like I saved them somehow, fawning over me.”
Lakshmi nodded, hugging herself, wishing she knew some way to comfort him. She did, of course, but it not the kind of comfort he needed right now.
Suddenly from behind them, the long bright red coils of Calypso scraped over the desert sands near silently, catching both unawares. Calypso’s long red length undulated up to David’s side, a passive look on her face as she stared out into the horizon with covered eyes. She just stood there for bit, sharing in the experience with him. Finally, after a few moments, she spoke.
“It isn’t about what you did, or what you’ll do. You don’t have to earn love. Its given. Maybe its given a little more freely among monsters, but that doesn’t make it any less precious. I know you feel like you don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, like you’re just being swept along by the plans of other greater forces… That’s how I felt the first time Delilah came into my life. I dreaded it at first, that strange loss of a freedom I didn’t know I had. But, really, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I met my best friends in her company, and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.”
She turned to him, a smile on her face.
“I know we haven’t had any adventures together, but joining together isn’t the end of a journey, it’s the beginning of one. And I can sense so much goodness in you, David. You’re a good person. I can practically taste it, deep inside, within your very essence. Time will only show what I know is already there. Lakshmi can sense it too. We all can.”
“You can ‘sense’ my goodness, huh?” David was skeptical.
“It’s a skill all monsters have. We can sense the personality of a person through their essence, the aura their mana gives off. All monster-kind can smell it, to various degrees. We can tell with just a glance oftentimes what kind of person a man is. It’s the same way we knew you were untouched before. How we knew Delilah had taken you and Ophelia last night. Every action you take colors your essence a new shade, and we can ‘smell’ it. You’re a good person, as I’ve said. The fact you’re even hesitating to take so many lovely ladies out of moral concern I think should show you that!”
David had fallen into the trap of thinking he was a good person before. It never ended well.
“I’m… not a good person. I’m an opportunistic one. I see an opportunity and I take it, that’s what I do. Back before I met you, or Silas, or Bernice, or any of this, I was a mercenary. I took gold and silver in exchange for kidnappings, intimidation, bullying and harassing others. Sure, I’d occasionally rescue someone, or deal with a couple bandits, maybe even slay a couple of monsters. The old-school kind, not, uh, the kind you’re familiar with.
“But I didn’t do it out of charity, I tried to pretend I was doing that with Silas, but that fell apart. I fell into Delilah’s camp almost by circumstance, not because I wanted to help the monster cause. I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you’re sensing.”
“You’re so wrong, I’m almost mad at you.”
The three turned to Arsanggha who had come sliding across the stones of the desert on her tangle of tentacles. She pointed a finger at David’s chest, an angry look in her eyes.
“You are very frustrating, sweetheart. Very negative. You’re completely wrong about yourself and I’m not going to let you mope around. Its just not healthy.”
David gently removed her finger.
“I appreciate your concern, but-”
“No, you be quiet. I’ve got something to say. You’re just going to stay there and listen.”
David fell silent, curious as to what the mind-flayer had to say. Lakshmi swung around too, curious as to what she would try that Calypso and Lakshmi hadn’t. The purple girl pointed her slender finger at David once more, mildly annoyed.
“You remember when Yuura and I saved you from that dungeon? We took you upstairs to find the treasure room because John promised a way for you to use magic again.”
Arsa shushed him, apparently not actually wanting a response.
“You had the opportunity to take a lot of choice loot. No one would have stopped you, and no one would have cared. I wouldn’t have, and Yuura wouldn’t have. But you didn’t do that. You only took what you needed, and that was it. You left everything else.”
“Shush! I’m not done!”
“Later, when you beat Silas, with a little bit of my help, you left him alive. You could have ended him right there. It was the perfect opportunity. But you left him alive. You didn’t even think about killing him. Once he was knocked out, you just left him, perfectly healthy. Even though he had turned on you in an instant and ordered you tortured.”
She paused, Expecting David to interrupt. When he didn’t, she continued.
“Now you have the opportunity to have sex with six sexy women at the same time, and you’re not taking it. Not because you don’t find them attractive, because I know that’s not true,” She flit her eyes at David’s crotch for a split second ,a smirk on her face. “But because of moral concerns. Silly moral concerns that don’t apply to us Mamono, but moral concerns nevertheless. In conclusion, Though I may not have known you for years and years, I have been paying attention. You are a good person. And I happen to love you. So deal with it.”
David had to take a pause to realize he was surrounded with expectant faces, purple, white, and bronzed. He began imagining them entangled with him, naked and sweating like Ophelia and Delilah were. Flushed faces kissing at his neck and lips. Warm, soft embraces as they rubbed themselves over him, waiting at a turn on his erect manhood. His face flushed as he tried to get rid of the raunchy thoughts, but the more he tried, the more they came. The modest plum dress of Calypso did nothing to hide her bosom and Lakshmi’s were practically falling out of her clothes. Arsa wore no clothes at all, and he could trace the taught sculpted stomachs of all three of them with his eyes. Why was he hesitating? They were all so beautiful.
He caught sight of Arsa smiling devilishly as he tried to fight off his thoughts, and he realized they weren’t his own.
“Are you putting thoughts into my head?!”
“Maaaaybe~ What kind of thoughts? You know, sometimes, I can’t quite control it~”
David gave a bit of a chuckle, “You dirty liar.”
Someone tugged at his sleeve. He knew who it was before he even looked down, those large earthen claws belonging only to one person he knew.
Nona was popping out of the ground, looking drier and browner than her usual dark self, as if she were being baked by the sun, even with Delilah’s spell. Her eyes, though, they still sparkled like glittering emeralds as she looked up at him with a bit of a pout.
“Master, I love you. I want to…” she seemed to search for the word. “mate?” She nodded to herself, seemingly happy with her word choice. “and I- I’m not gonna take-take…”
“Not going to take ‘no’ for an answer?”
David couldn’t help but smile. She was adorable, it was hard to believe she had ever been that small ball of mud and earth. He caught sight of Ophelia and Delilah standing next to each other on top of the hill. Looking down on him and the others. Delilah looked worried, a bit ashamed. He’d never seen her without a smirk. Ophelia on the other hand had a wide grin, and was doing nothing to hide it. When the two saw him looking at them, they shared a look and came down. Ophelia, trotting, and Delilah on the wing.
When they arrived, David realized the entire group had come to check up on him. He felt selfish for causing it, but a small part of him also kind of liked it. It liked the fact that they thought he was worth chasing after.
“So, Love… Are you feeling better?” Delilah asked, her head ducked, deprived of her usual confidence.
“Yeah. Sorry I flew off the handle.”
“Delilah was worried. But I knew they’d convince you.” Ophelia said, a smug look on her face.
“You told them to come talk to me?”
“They all wanted to chase after you right away. I convinced them to give you some space and go one at a time. You’re a smart man, and you listen. I knew you’d listen to them if they had time to speak to you one on one.”
David looked at them, a bicorn, a demon, a gnome, a mindflayer, an apsara, and a basilisk. He thought back to that night with John, when he asked him how he had managed to have more than one wife.
“Did you love one more than the other?” David asked.
“At first. Yes. But in time I loved them both equally.”
“Why did you involve the other if you didn’t love them equally from the start?”
“Because she loved me.”
“And it was that simple?”
“For me. No. But for them? For monsters? It seems to be.”
David smiled, he wasn’t sure he loved them all in the same way. But he did care about them. And they did need to get past that canyon.
“Alright. Alright I accept. I’m not sure what I’m accepting, but… I’m willing to make this work. Its insane, but, damn. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little excited for it. But, we have a priority. We need to get to those ruins. So, I guess that means… Nona,” David smiled at the gnome who finally left the ground, and stood on two very curvaceous legs, hugging his arm and looking at him with a simple content smile. “Let’s make our bond official.”
Her face lit up at his words, and she started to bounce up and down. The others smiled wide too, apparently happy that he’d finally come around. Delilah and Ophelia were both taller than him, but Nona was actually much shorter, he thought she might be only around 5’0 or 5’2. Her breasts, like most other Mamono were large and supple, though they didn’t have any nipples, and her groin was bare of any sex. She looked like smoothed clay. Which David found rather strange, as she felt rather soft and warm.
He found the others looking at him with a hungry look in their eyes, well, except Calypso, who still wore her mask.
“I’d like some privacy, ok? I want this to be special for Nona.”
“If that’s the case, Love…” Delilah swirled her hand in the air and produced a sparkling red and black energy. She flung it out ahead of her and it hung in the air as if it were paint hitting an invisible object. As the magical energy dripped down It formed a large black tent, with the symbol of the red eye adorning it.
“Have fun you two!”