For the coastal city of Meirport, some days are the coming and going of business as usual for the people, while others are the coming of a maddening contagion and dread fog that warps the landscape into a decrepit playground of ghoulish desire for the flesh under ethereal hands that cast the creeping snow. For those who remain, it’s time to run, hide, or face the haunting music.
Now published in ebook formats as part of the Wight Snow series.
The clatter of a crate falling to the bustling cobble street of Meirport marked the tenth hour of a cold autumn’s day, gulls seeming to cackle at the hardships of humans beneath them. Yelling oaths after a hooded figure that fled the scene, a disgruntled store keeper waved his cleaver around threateningly as he ran out into the market street.
The slippery thief had the advantage of a head start into the crowd, yet came to a halt when a horse-drawn carriage almost ran over the lad who dropped to the ground to avoid them. Rearing up, the two drawing horses whinnied in shock at the fool leaping out in front of them to be trampled and run over, but neither’s hoof caught his lowered head. The carriage’s driver, covered in a thick traveling coat and low-drawn hood seemed not to care, simply waiting for the horses to calm, though did bear an impatient frown beneath the shadow of the cowl.
“Hah, gotcha! Last time you vandal my flaming store!” Lunging and grabbing the thief, the shopkeeper grinned as he dragged him back off the road to protests and pleas from the thief that all went ignored. Clapping the reigns, the ornate carriage carried on down the rickety street indifferently, all making room for its passing.
From within, behind the finery of the carriage windows, a lone noble lady stared out at the petty thief being pulled away, before sitting back and letting her gaze swing across the crowd. A colourful rabble, to be certain. Catching the gaze of one looking in on her, the noble lady’s dark eyes paused on the inquisitive woman in the crowd.
A simple girl, rustic brown hair twined into a pair of braids that rested neatly over her shoulders with seemly, innocent blue eyes. The girl was quick to startle and look away from the noble like some timid animal, leaving her to smile at the deference. At least that one knew her place.
The carriage rolled by without event, leaving the girl to rub her cheeks and shake off the shame of having been caught staring. To gape and wonder at the riches of nobility was one thing, but to be noticed doing so… she counted herself lucky to not be taken away like that fool thief.
Glancing to the now unmanned storefront and pursing thinned lips, perhaps it would be better to shop elsewhere today. A sharp, bitter wind washed in off the coast, leaving a bad premonition with her. There were much more pleasant places to be than here. Tightening the shawl around her shoulders and sighing into the autumnal chill, the young woman moved on to another market, further from the coast and closer to home, slipping quickly into a familiar store.
“Hoi, Julia! Come in! And shut the door, it’s cold out there.” Greeted by a much warmer and familiar voice, the young woman named Julia did just that, smiling in return as she entered the simple comforts of the herbal store run by a kind lady with soft black hair bunched to a single tail that looked not years older than Julia herself. Had her mother not known the woman since she was young, Julia would not have believed she was so much older than she seemed, but there was a certain maturity in the beauty-marked woman’s emerald eyes when she smiled that hinted at the truth.
“Hah, it’s always cold out, especially this time of year. It’s good to see you so spirited, Lynne.” Julia put in, smiling as she entered the store to browse the nearest wall of jars of all from oil and salt to distant spices. As a coastal trade city, Meirport came by a vast range of goods – both from as near as their frigid neighbours to the north and as far as exotic lands across the sea.
“Aye, well it so happens I got news of a big shipment off the docks, so I cracked open some good spice for heated wine.” Happily gesturing over behind her through the open door to her kitchen and its burning stove, a kettle whistled with steam atop one of the plates, several empty flasks and jars lined up alongside it.
“Isn’t this a little early for that?” Julia put in incredulously, a brow raised as she picked out a fresh selection of simple herbs and grain tailored to good health. Lynne was missing, leaving the shop front to feel a touch lonesome and silent. It was nice to know she trusted Julia alone, but with the rattling from in the back as her only company, it quickly grew uncomfortable.
“Of course not! Honestly, how long have you lived in the city now, huh? Even a pretty little country girl like you can loosen up a little. Here.” Barging back through the door and placing a pair of warm mugs on the table, Lynne rummaged around behind the counter for a small pouch, tapping out a little black powder into each. Much of the spice dispersed quickly into the heated mug, thicker flakes resting on the surface as a sort of garnish.
“Are you sure?” Taking the cup gratefully, Julia rubbed and warmed her hands on it, breathing in the exotic scent that mingled with all the aged hues around her. This store was a unique sort even amongst the bustle of the portside city that had always brought Julia calm.
Sipping on the heated mull wine brought her an immediate shot of warmth, the sharpness of its taste tempered perfectly by the light, cinnamon seasoning. It invited her to take another, and drink more fully, closing her eyes to let it wash over her tongue and fill her head with the wonderfully relaxing balance. After but one gulp, she felt like she could brave the sea air once more, and sighed contentedly. Maybe it wasn’t so bad to drink in the morning…
“Ah, such an innocent look. It’s good to be young, isn’t it?” It was Lynne’s chuckling that snapped her back to her senses, making Julia quickly put the cup down. Her cheeks flushed from shame above warmth of the drink as she flustered and looked around, trying to find some footing to escape the situation she’d put herself in.
“Ah, uh… I… these.” Julia blurted out awkwardly, pushing the things she had collected to buy forward over the counter, only reinforcing the hearty laughter from her much more mature and composed friend.
“Hah… alright, alright, let’s see, but please, go ahead and drink. Your mother would have my ear if I didn’t look after her little country girl.” Lynne teased, grinning out the corner of her full lips as she worked her counting mechanism and scale behind the counter, occasionally picking up her own mug to sip.
“Tch, I am not…” Julia grumbled, taking up the offer all the same to sip on the wine. It wouldn’t do at all if she got too lightheaded so early in the day, but it was nice. Mouthing numbers and humming to herself as she worked through the set, Lynne placed them all in a small basket along with a pouch of her own.
“There, nine and twenty silver to the ounce, if you please.” Her voice rich with experience and that hint of age her beauty belied, Lynne smiled over the counter as she handed the bewildered Julia the basket.
“Uh, this pouch? And the basket, I…” She began, wondering if a quick one was being pulled on her, even by this friend of the family. As though having heard her concern spoken aloud, Lynne barked a quick laugh and waved the notion away whimsically.
“No no, don’t worry about it. The spice is on me. You gave me something nice to watch this morning, sweetie, so take it. It goes well in any hot drink or boiled water, takes the edge off the sea air, right? Just bring the basket back whenever, I’ll not have you walking around carrying these loose, that’s asking for trouble.” Birched in that no-nonsense manner that reminded her of her mother in younger years, Julia could only smile and concede to the woman’s sensibility, handing over the silvered coins and thanks.
Taking advantage of the new hand basket, Julia continued on through the city’s eastern marketplace, making sure to keep her goods close to her bosom as she shopped, wary of cutpurses and thieves in the crowd. The air was less thick with salt and sea as it was the drum of people and produce, the smell of spice from her own pouch only accentuating the lively feel of the crowd. It made for completing a pleasant morning’s shop.
Content with her errands, the young woman made for home down the bustling roads, away from the clamour and bustle of the commons to one of the richer residential districts. While hardly a noble’s lot, the people were kind and alleys between buildings kept clean of trash and infestation, for the most part. The house itself had belonged to her parents, and while she had protested it for being too large to live alone in, they had put down her complaints, suggesting she should “find someone to live with” and pointing out the alternatives were much too expensive.
Moving through to the kitchen to pack away her small collection of groceries, Julia sighed in resignation once more. They were right, of course, and whilst she had leased the extra rooms out to guests, the house felt rather lonesome alone. Someone else to live with, to warm her bed? No, that was much too indecent a train of thought! Pushing the thought quickly out of her mind, Julia went about her routine, filling the day with the usual chores and entertainment in books and music through the night.
Peaceful days passed with little of note occurring for the simple country turned city girl until four days hence, when Julia fell ill. Merely drowsy and lightheaded at first, she had tried to shake it off and ignore it. By past midday, that had only exasperated the symptoms, leaving her short of breath and sapped for energy.
“Ugh, cod’s truth, what’d I do to deserve coming down with the chills now…” Grumbling to herself from the kitchen where a kettle boiled water on the heating stove, Julia concocted a simple herbal tea, adding some of the special spice Lynne had given her to take the bite off its bitter medicinal taste.
Were her friend here, she would have instructed dutifully in the measurements and sent her to bed immediately after. Since she was not, Julia was free to be more generous with the helpings she preferred, washing her face off with cold water and going back to her tasks.
When her condition did not change after some hours, Julia conceded defeat and headed to bed early. Sleep came in fitful, uncomfortable bouts as her temperature rose, the open window doing little to alleviate her condition. Being distanced from the dock and surrounded by the shelter of other houses broke the buffer of any harsher cold winds, even if she would embrace their cooling slice, this time. Leaving to walk the city was out of the question.
Stirring and sighing restlessly like that, it was not until later that night that Julia’s bedrest was truly broken, rattling creaks and a knocking thud waking her once more. Wiping her brow off with the damp cloth and bucket of cold water at the bedside, she wondered what in hells someone could want at this hour, given the moon glowed bright outside her window.
The knocking continued, forcing her from the comfort of bed. Perhaps one of the tenants had returned drunk and mistaken a wall for the door to their room. It would not have been the first time. Throwing a simple cotton housecoat over her shoulders, Julia pulled it tight for warmth as she scowled and shuffled into the hallway to find the source of the insistent knocking.
Strangely, there was no one in the hall, though the sound was now all the more prominent than it would have been if it from the door downstairs. Curiosity and irritation piqued, Julia continued down the hall to the door closest to the stairs that was yet open, illuminating the hallway with the flicker of its oil lamp light. The closer she got, the stranger the noise became, making her skin prickle with a knowing unease. On top of the banging of wood and unsteady creaks was ragged groans and sharp gasps, from more than one person.
Even knowing what it must be, Julia could not bring her feet to stop and turn away until she stood in the open doorway, staring with wide eyes at the shameless couple before her. Laid out on his back with his clothes scattered about the room was the man she knew and had leased the room to. A local trader as often absent or found passed out in a pub alley as returning home, Julia had taken no interest in his antics, but trusted him enough to take the room on good faith.
Atop him was the confirmation of Julia’s trepid fears, and what held her gaze so fast. As bare as the day she was born, a woman Julia did not know sat straddling his waist. Her slender back arced up to leave her looking as though she were prowling over prey, her hands pinning his arms down as she rode him. Even for the innocent country girl there was no room for doubt in what they were deep into the act of, as what all but mesmerised her was that place where one joined to the other.
As well-lit as the room was, Julia could see everything, and stood unable to pull her eyes away from watching how the woman’s hips rolled, rose to almost let his… thing free, before slapping back down, her cheeks jiggling just a little before tensing up with what Julia could only imagine was the pleasure of feeling him rush back inside. Again and again she bounced, sliding up and down on him in a relentless, smacking pace.
Every so often, the woman put an extra jolt of sway into her descent, making the whole bed frame creak and bang into the wall harder than the lighter knocks that came with every swaying bounce. The man under her merely groaned and shook as he was ridden so hard for pleasure, his partner laughing through ragged groans as she rolled and smacked her hips, swallowing him down to the hilt without pause.
Julia stood as breathless as she was speechless. Were city girls always this wild? Was it because Meirport docked trade ships from far and wide? Never mind not being under the covers, they had not even put the flaming light out! Or closed the door! It was unbelievable how shamelessly the woman was dancing on his cock, how deep and at what angles she must be sliding him in without so much as stopping for breath.
The chill running down Julia’s thigh snapped her out of her fixation, biting the finger she had moved between her lips to stay quiet. What in hells was she doing watching them and even touching herself through the thin veil of her nightgown? The wet, dripping tingle between her thighs demanded more attention furiously, leaving her to all but panic at how worked up she’d gotten over something so improper.
Pulling her fingers away from her waist where she had almost reached to flick that switch and quickly wrapping the coat around her, Julia reached for the door to silently pull it shut. Only then did she remember to finally breathe again, the lustful and strained moans of the couple muffled and blocked out by the shut door. With cheeks on fire from shame, Julia shivered and quickly returned to bed.
She’d give him a good talking to in the morning, but depths be damned if she was going to storm in on them in the middle of… that. Returning to her room, Julia all but dunked her head in the water bucket she kept at bedside, scrubbing the sweat and shame off as if it might clean the meaty, pistoning image stuck to her eyes’ memory.
“Honestly, have some care for where you are…” Crawling back into bed with a ragged sigh, Julia closed her eyes and curled up to find rest, haunted by the incessant heat between her legs and faint knocking from down the hall.
Rolling from side to side, Julia’s mind wandered hopelessly to the sights she had witnessed, unwittingly putting herself in the other woman’s place. Julia could only imagine trying to balance herself on him, bouncing and grinding down onto that thing as his hands held her giving thighs firmly in place. Even thoughts of him pushing her down and taking her from behind, pulling on her long braids in a show of dominance flashed through her.
The bedridden young woman’s mind raced with the sordid fantasies, refusing to turn away from such heated and lustful thoughts. Only the wildest dreams would satisfy her body’s hunger as Julia rolled, her gown a wet and ruffled mess as her wandering hands grabbed at her breast and pushed the soft silk in between her legs. Would he push up against the wall, lay her on her side, or something more… she couldn’t even begin to imagine what would feel best.
Despite that lack of knowledge, Julia’s body knew exactly what was happening as her fingers worked vigorously, rewarding her with a breath-taking rush of bliss as her body shook, soaking the gown and fingers buried between her legs with her juices. Slowly coming to her senses, the breathless woman stared up at the ceiling where stars danced with wide eyes, wondering what in hells she’d just done as her body shivered through the pleasure of her climax.
Fatigue followed quickly, forcing her into a peaceful slumber before she could think any further on the dirty fantasy she’d indulged in enough to orgasm. Too tired to even feel shame, Julia’s eyes fluttered and closed on the wave of simple, satisfying pleasure and relief the illicit act had given her. After a dreamless night’s sleep, morning came…
Waking with the full brunt of her guilt and shame, Julia gasped and sat up, pulling away the cover to find she had made as much a mess as she thought, groaning softly and quickly slipping out of the sticky gown that now reeked of indecency. Using the bedside water and towel to wash herself off, she certainly felt more sobered and awake after the chill of rough cloth rubbed between her legs.
She felt healthier too, and resolved to simply put the whole thing behind her. Washed off, Julia picking out fresh clothes for the day, mulling over the fact that storming in to complain about their antics now would very likely make her feel worse than they, and decided to put their share of the ordeal out of mind, too. If he was to make a habit of this, then she might take issue for disturbing the night’s peace. There were inns for that sort of thing near the dock…
With that decided on, Julia still couldn’t help but stop at the door, leaning in and listening for the sound that tickled at her ear as she passed. It was not the incessant banging of the night before, but a softer, drawing sound. As soon as she heard the breathy laugh between those long, slow slurps, the hair on the back of Julia’s neck stood on end, her ears warming with shame.
They were at it now? Again? It was flaming light outside, surely you should only do that sort of thing at night! Storming away from the room and upper floor entirely, Julia shook her head and made her way downstairs. Noticing Lynne’s basket still sat on her kitchen counter, Julia found her excuse to get out and away so she did not have to think about the couple above her head. It had been some days since she last ventured into the city proper, so returning the basket was long overdue.
Happy with her reasoning, Julia donned her heavier overcoat and headed out into the cool, fresh air that would do her good. Not two steps out, Julia froze in shock. Leaving the door to creak shut behind her, she stared incredulously out into a thick wall of fog that blocked the horizon beyond the nearest houses.
“Flaming hells… something stinks.” Happy to know her nose worked at all did not change the matter that a rancid staleness hung in the air. Trying to rub it away, she walked to the cornerstone of the house, peeking down the alley between it and the next to find refuse piled up. So bad was it that little white mushrooms had begun infesting the alleyway, and some startled animal ran deeper into the shelter of the dark on hearing Julia approach.
“Fall ill a day or two and everything goes to pot? No, I am not dealing with this now either, ugh…” Turning away from the mess, Julia made quick steps to be out of the area. The damnable fog hanging over the city blocked out the sun and sky, leaving a dead chill in her for how muted it all felt. It came with the season and living on the coast, Julia supposed, caring little for effects of the weather, but nor did she appreciate the coastal bitterness reaching this far inland.
Even so, Julia knew her way through the city streets perfectly fine without needing to see the signs or docks beyond, and carried on through the dull grey contently enough. Along the way a thought nagged at her senses; it was much too quiet. Unable to see the sun, she could not tell exactly what time of day it was, though surely there would be more going about their business now. Julia did pass the odd person padding down the far side of the street, but it still struck as odd.
Perhaps the belligerent fog had left people in too displeased a state to bother. Truth, but rain would drive all without shelter indoors and deter anyone from venturing out, perhaps this was no different. It was unpleasant to walk alone in, and left a slightly moist, chilled sensation on Julia’s skin. Very unpleasant.
Finally reaching Lynne’s spice shop through a more direct route, Julia sighed out in an exasperated relief. Having another soul to speak with and vent her frustrations over warm wine would do her well. The familiar customer bell and immediate waft of spices was a welcome calm for Julia as she entered the store, breathing in deeply as though having finally reached her safe place.
Placing the basket down on the counter, Julia smiled and went about browsing the various spices. For all they had not changed since her last visit, the unique colours, textures and scents brought her a simple calm to look at as she waited for Lynne. The scenery outside the shop window was as bleak as it seemed on the road, barely a person and naught but a lone horse-drawn wagon braved the bleak shade, the distant buildings barely visible at all.
After a long moment of no presence from Lynne, Julia frowned uncomfortably, wondering if something had happened. It was not like her to leave the store unmanned, certainly not if the door was open. A lack of people up and about did not mean someone could not enter and steal as they pleased. Wondering if Lynne had hurt herself in an accident and couldn’t come to the front, Julia excused herself into lifting the section of the counter that folded up to allow passage into the back of the store.
“Lynne? Are you there? Say something!” Tiptoeing through, the building looked much more like her own home beyond that counter. A long hallway leading to a staircase that would go up to Lynne’s living quarters, a rear exit and second closed door, renovated into a stock and utility room stretched out before her. Julia received no response to her calls, though as she neared the end of the hallway, a sound ebbed through the closed stock room door to her straining ears. Lynne must have been handling stock and not heard the bell, of all things…
“Gods, Lynne! Answer me if you’re there, what are you… do…” Shoving the door open on impulse, Julia did find her friend in the store room, but nothing would have prepared her for the sight. That muffled sound now struck Julia’s ears with its full intensity – slapping, slurping, groaning and gulping.
Far from hurt, Lynne sat in the middle of the storeroom on her knees, her clothing either missing or a dishevelled mess. The whole scene was difficult for Julia to take in, yet she could tell that Lynne was in the lap of a man under her, his hands squeezing and mauling her breasts as he worked her neck with kisses. Julia did not need to see it directly to know he was doing Lynne, her hips bare and rolling the same way that woman she had spied on the previous night’s did, and he in turn erratically thrusting up at her from behind.
What truly paralyzed and choked Julia with shock, however, was that there was a second naked man in the room, stood aside Lynne, and this, Julia could see all too clearly. With her messy black ponytail firmly in hand, he was thrusting against her face with a violent force, his slickened shaft pumping back and forth into her gaping mouth.
Julia couldn’t believe her eyes, but as Lynne’s tongue waggled against the underside, drool glistening on her cheeks, it was clear she wanted him there. Lynne’s hands rested on the man’s thighs with no resistance, only for her own stability. With each hard push, Julia could see the side of Lynne’s throat distend to accept him, and she was urging it on?
Julia’s legs felt as if they might buckle out from under her as she stared in abject shock. Lynne’s kind eyes and beautiful smile filled her mind, could this really be the same woman? Those kind eyes stared up at the man who held her head back longingly, her lips wrapped around that masculine girth greedily as she rode the other. It may not be the same gaze she gave Julia, but it was the same eyes, the very same woman.
The three of them were so relentless in the act, completely ignoring Julia’s presence in their mindless lust that the dazed girl didn’t know what to think. Her mind simply drew a numbing blank of white fuzz as she watched her friend be doubled up on so furiously. Urging her legs to move, Julia almost fell as she staggered back a step, autonomously taking a second before finally remembering to breathe.
Julia found herself remembering Lynne’s playful grin once more. Of course… she was beautiful, older, and a city girl! Her business was her own, and nothing for Julia to be interfering in, no matter how mad it seemed. She wasn’t in trouble or hurt, so this was no place for the simpler girl to be. Reeling back another step, finally tearing her eyes from the messy tangle of flesh and sex as the pitch of Lynne’s guttural moans increased, Julia shook her head. Maybe the store was supposed to be shut, perhaps the whole district was closed and she hadn’t been made aware.
That would make sense, no matter how her friend decided to spend the time, she should have checked the shop door was properly locked. As luck had it, a key was hanging by the back door, and so Julia compelled her quivering legs to move, ignoring the wet slapping and carnal moans behind her as she went to the door, checking it as she picked the key off its hook. Even this was left open.
“Gods, Lynne, did you invite them through front or back… no, not my damned business. Lock up and get out…” Growling quietly to herself, Julia closed and locked the door, taking a step back just as a loud slam hit it from the outside. Gasping and almost falling as she jumped back, Julia was brought to meet the twisted grin of a man pressed against the small window in the doorframe.
His eyes seemed diseased somehow. More than a drunken haze, but darkened and glassed, the whites faded to a duller grey. While no doctor, Julia did not need professional opinion to know something was wrong with him. The sound of him scraping and knocking against the door as he licked at the window was more than enough to unnerve her.
Whatever his problem was, she didn’t want to be here any longer. Turning and fleeing down the hall, her presence was still ignored by Lynne and the pair with her as she passed the storeroom. Slamming the door to the front of the shop and resting her head against it, Julia finally sighed out a ragged breath, somehow feeling safer. The back alleyway for these buildings stretched a long distance before coming around to the front, so he could not simply circle around on her.
With the front door locked and key put through the letter box, Lynne would be just as safe with her… company to protect her from whatever lunacy was out in the alley, too. That was all Julia needed to do, and then never speak of this again, either. Letting go of the door and turning, her legs finally gave out, causing her to fumble and fall forward, her face landing in something wonderfully soft. Coming to her senses, she found it was the bosom of another woman she hadn’t seen standing behind the shop counter. Flailing and grabbing for balance, Julia muffled an apology into the woman’s clothing as she pulled away and stood.
“Mnfh, goodness, excuse me! I didn’t see you there and I, ah… if you’re looking for the owner, she’s, uh… not well. I came to lock up for her. I’m sorry.” Julia blustered out, her cheeks burning with embarrassment as she focused on getting her feet back, staring at anything but the silently understanding woman she had collapsed into that now held her very steady. It wasn’t until her back was pushed to the wall that Julia spoke out.
“I, uh… I’m sorry, can I help y–” It all happened in an instant. In the gap between breathes, her next was stolen away before she could make sense of anything. The woman’s tongue was in her mouth, twisting and playing with her own as hungry lips silenced Julia from speaking. Too shocked to act, it was all she could do to leave her lips and tongue to be moulded and teased by the greedy embrace as she stared with wide eyes.
The woman pressing down on her arms forcefully now met her dazzled gaze with a smouldering, hungry glaze that refused to back down. She had that same dark and twisted look in them as the one in the alley – only worse. The whites were all but sheer black around a smoky grey shimmer that pinned her to the wall as surely as the woman’s face against her own stopped her from moving her head away.
Struggle as she might, the woman’s grip on her was unnaturally strong, Julia’s efforts only serving to further and deepen the embrace. The door key slid from Julia’s fingers as she felt her strength and spirit being sapped out of her into those almost lifeless eyes that bored down on her. For another woman to be doing this to her made even less sense, and only addled her already foggy mind further. Had everyone gone mad? Was she going to lose her mind to the pleasure of having her lips stolen and suckled so intimately, too?
One of those vice-like hands moved from pinning her arm to grabbing at Julia’s chest, clenching and ripping the tunic under her coat open. Gasping at the yanking, popping sound combined with the jolt of stimulation to rush through her bared chest as it was grabbed, a sudden rush of panicked strength and the freedom of her arm allowed Julia to fight, shoving the woman aside and fleeing the store.
Looking back in as the door swung shut, she could see the woman stand indifferently behind the counter. Her skin was a pale, ashen hue, long brown hair matted as though damp. Rather than give chase, she simply stood there, licking a finger with her distended tongue as though savouring the feel and taste of her skin. Lazily, her head rolled back to spot Julia out the corner of her clouded eye. Whatever was wrong with her, it wasn’t natural at all, and Julia wanted to be nowhere near it.
“Ahaha!” As though to lay one shock atop the other, a deep, bellowing laughter rolled down the street to her, followed by a rattling of chains scraping across cobble. In the thick of the fog, the silhouette of a heavy-set butcher stood, waving a disturbing cleaver overhead.
“Time to oil!” He exclaimed, lumbering into an unsteady jog. Julia didn’t care what in all hell that was supposed to mean, but she ran as fast as she could down the street. Everyone had gone mad! She needed to get away from it, or at least hide until the fog passed. Running near blind down streets Julia barely recognised, passing shadows of people she couldn’t trust to be any saner than the last, she finally found an alley entrance to cut through.
Bolting down it, Julia stomped and slid unsteadily on little fungal growths until, combined with the poor maintenance of the alley leaving slick patches of mud, she slipped and fell, scraping her knee on the jagged cobbles. With heart pounding too hard to feel the pain, Julia dragged herself up and behind a corner, hiding with the refuse and spotty white mushrooms that littered the dark. The scent made her heavy breathing all the more laboured, but only escaping mattered right now.
“Hmnn… meat…” Chains dragging down the cobbled street, she could yet hear the deranged butcher searching, hoping he would give up or find something else to catch his interest. A disturbing, low and guttural laughter echoed down the alleyway as Julia curled up as small as possible, waiting for it all to stop.
“Blach… fresh…” The butcher growled, turning away from the fetid alley. “Freeesh!” As though roaring some battle cry, the crazed man left, chasing the sound of a squealing pig. Waiting a long while before even daring to imagine the coast clear, Julia pulled herself up on unsteady legs, trying to get her bearing from the back of the alley.
Sure enough, the building she had hidden behind was an abattoir that handled both farm and fish. Apparently some of its live stock had managed to escape into the streets under all the madness. The sudden urge to wretch against the stench drove Julia quickly down the rest of the alley and out onto a familiar street near the big market square.
Just as she wondered what she was going to do – whether the docks would give her safety and passage away from the madness, or if she should just flee the city walls to the countryside where she belonged – something caught Julia’s ear. A soft, melancholic violin was being played by someone, the tune relaxing the tension in her shoulders and lulling her to seek it out. No one capable of composing such a melody could be so violent and insane, after all.
Quite to the contrary, as she entered the large market square to find the veil of fog dissipate, Julia found a tranquil, ethereal beauty of a lady was the source. Stood at the top of the dried out fountain in the centre of the square, she easily drew Julia’s eye to bask in all her noble majesty. The curve-hugging dark purple of her silk dress that only rose as high as her bosom, scandalously leaving her shoulders bare said she was not a local, but very wealthy.
Even in the lack of proper sunlight, Julia could almost see reflections glisten off the lady’s tall heels, the shoes elevating her to seemingly float above the city she serenaded. Around her daringly bared neck, a beautiful amethyst crystal rested in an oval cage, nestled snuggly on an ample bosom, hugged together and raised to support the violin she played with closed eyes and a soft, enchanting smile about her lips.
Beyond it all, it was the noble lady’s skin itself that truly mesmerized Julia. From head to toe, the lady was as pure white as the soft flakes that fell around her to the carpeted garden of blossoms the square had become. With silver-blonde hair near as pale and faint, it was almost as if she would flicker and fade away if Julia took her eyes from the ethereal woman.
“Don’t go near it!” A voice was warning her, but all Julia could hear was the sweet music that washed all her fears and pains away. She wanted to go to the noble, to join the crowd beneath her feet in that field of white. The noble’s eyes opened as she continued to play, stunning blood-red rubies catching Julia’s gaze. Despite the distance, it felt as though she were already at the ethereal noble’s feet, judged by those brilliant eyes.
“Stop!” Those eyes had given Julia pause, stealing her breathe for a long moment. She had never seen the lady before, but she could remember that look and the feeling that came with it in the noble she had crossed eyes with in this very market. Fear creeped back into her senses, breaking the sweet serenade’s grasp on her, mere feet from the edge of the snowbound garden. This was a bad place.
Blinking and glancing down for a better look at what was causing this magical illusion of snow in autumn, Julia found the square was infested with those soft, white mushrooms. Were those flakes falling from above then… spores? Was the ghostly lady somehow responsible for all the madness in the city? Almost falling, Julia took a step back, and then another as the sound of the song changed, quickening.
Those intimidating red eyes never left her as the song drew sharp, racing notes. As though reacting to the song, the crowd beneath her all at once shifted. Ceasing their worship and righting their posture, the group all shuffled into a rigid formation, spinning on the spot with a disturbing unity. Every single clouded eye now bored down on her. The puppeteer’s melody changed from short and sharp to a long, wailing draw of the bow, fingers quivering along the neck as a dread chill filled Julia.
She may not understand why, but she knew it was time to run.
Deeper into the city, faster, farther from her home, Julia could hear the mob behind her as she ran until her legs refused to keep the pace. Slowing and checking her surroundings, Julia found those mushrooms peppered more and more places beyond the dark of alleyways. Lost in wondering just how far this madness had spread as she walked quickly down the street, the hands grabbing and pulling her into an alleyway took her completely off guard, leaving her to scream into a smothering hand.
“Quiet! I’m not going to h-owh, damn it, woman!” Flailing in panic, Julia had sunk her teeth into the hand to get free, not at all hearing the voice until she’d staggered a good few steps away, whirling to face her latest attacker – a man. He looked… normal, for lack of better word in all the madness, if pained over the bite mark on his fingers.
“Gods, you almost had me thinking you were one of them… come on, there’s no time!” True enough, while Julia had a lead on the fumbling mob, they seemed to have an unyielding stamina, and were closing. They would not be far, and this alley was no safer than the street beyond. Following him down it into a side-door, Julia was glad to see the metal deadlock slam behind her as he closed the door, offering them a respite and shelter.
“Sorry I grabbed you like that, I saw you heading this way from in the market and took a chance. Matthias.” A nice enough seeming man, with unkempt dark brown hair and an unshaven shadow about his rigid face. For all he seemed alright, Julia focused intently on his dark blue eyes and the rest of him a touch more than would seem normal before relaxing and nodding.
“I’m Julia, I… I don’t understand what’s going on, but thank you.” Wrapping her coat around her firmly, as much to hide her broken tunic as for comfort, Julia forced as much of a smile as she could, unsure if she truly felt safe or happy. She could still feel the piercing chill of that ethereal lady’s eyes on her, as though she truly had reached out and sunk ghostly claws into her, but surely here was safe.
“Aye, well… this way, it’d be easier to just show you.” Raking a hand through his already messy hair, Matthias gestured past Julia, walking easily through the abandoned building. Here the windows were already barred over, allowing the little bit of light to filter in. It was enough to navigate the dusty, deserted rooms, if not tell for certain where she was as they climbed a ladder in the back of the next room.
“This is… the clock tower? We’re in the city hall?” Before long, their surroundings changed to a somehow more comforting autonomy of clockwork and gears. There would be no surprises here, but there was only one place in the city that stood quite so high with its marvels of engineering. A place well protected.
“That’s right. When all hell started breaking out, I was up cleaning with some others, barricaded the damn place off until they left. Don’t seem too aggressive.” Matthias explained, a hunted drag to his words.
“I see… you were able to defend yourself? Where are the others?” Full of questions as much for a way to distract herself from her own fears as to have any answers, Julia followed up the rest of the way into the attic lot of the tower where maintenance would be performed. Matthias’ response came after an uncomfortable silence that put Julia’s heckles up.
“They… they left, but aye, tools for reach and maintenance on the gears works as well on… people, with only one entrance.” Something in his voice sounded reluctant to use the word, but Julia didn’t wish to press it further. She hadn’t seen any blood on the way up, and if they were truly so passive, surely it wouldn’t have had to come to such things.
Unbolting another door and knocking it open, Matthias invited Julia out onto a threshold of hell. Stepping out onto the clock-tower balcony, Julia was torn between never having admired such an expansive view of the city and the view being of such a twisted and deadened landscape. Stepping out aside her, Matthias pointed over to the empty docks.
“Most fled two days ago when it was clear something unnatural was afoot. Place was a damn mess, people falling or shoved into the sea for others to get on a ship. There’s still movement down there, but damned if I know who or what for.” Matthias explained, shaking his head. He was right, for all the docks were empty of ships, Julia could vaguely see a sort of carriage being drawn along the pier, but what for?
“Up there, on the hill.” Matthias pointed, gesturing to what may be the thickest cloud of malignant fog, clinging to a lone mansion. “It probably started there, at the Mahtanel Trade Prince’s mansion. Word is the people who went there for answers from him never came back, and I’ve seen those damned wagons travelling in the direction.” Assured of his judgement, it was clear the man had spent his time scouting and trying to piece together things the days he’d remained here. Julia supposed there would be little else to do, especially alone.
“Wagons? You sound as if you know a lot…” Looking across the cityscape left Julia with little hope of everything merely passing over, but from here, she couldn’t help but feel a little emboldened hope, too. Understanding the situation and standing over it brought power. Matthias’ laughter was devoid of humour.
“I wish I didn’t. They capture people not reduced to flaming ghouls in those wagons that patrol the city. Gods know what for, but when half the city’s people do nothing but fuck anything they can get their hands on, there’s not much left to put up a fight against them taking as they please.” Putting his crass language aside, the comment put a dread chill in Julia’s stomach as she turned away from the city to him. He did know more than her on the matter.
“They fuck… you mean they’re… sex? With anything?” She needed to be sure she wasn’t misunderstanding this as a matter of seafarer slang, for the implications it could hold were a dire thought. Matthias groaned and nodded, barking another laugh.
“Aye, well, any-one, unless you consider grinding a table or spoiled fruit actual sex, they’ll take anyone on. Wondering why I’m not out there making the best of it, eh? Hell, it might sound a dream to some, but far from. They don’t stop, for one. Screams chill the blood as sure as if it were murder when they go at it long enough to drain all the pleasure out.” Shivering against more than the cold, Matthias pushed away from the balcony, fleeing the dread scenery to return inside where a little more warmth and shelter from the dire tide remained.
“It’s unnatural… they’re not walking dead, not killing, but don’t own their mind, either. Ghouls is all I can think to call it, to who and what in all the hells we did to deserve their ire, I wouldn’t know, but all we can do now is wait for help.” Bolting the balcony door behind Julia as she slipped inside, Matthias sounded resigned to waiting for his fate to be decided for him.
She couldn’t imagine how hard the situation had been on him. She had barely been able to swallow what she’d seen and run from. Especially with this new information, tracking back as far back as what the woman in her house may be caused her skin to crawl, but this was no time to just wait for the end.
Thoughts of Lynne who’d always looked after her flashed through Julia’s mind. If this was what had happened to her, she needed help, and to escape the city as soon as possible. If she wasn’t dead, but locked in some insane carnal haze, she could be saved. That was all that mattered.
“Help? I don’t know… you say this has gone on for days? I hadn’t heard a thing from my home on Streiln street, but it had already spread there. I think it’s creeping and smothering like that damned fog before any call for help can get out. No one will know until it’s too late.” Hugging herself for comfort and to pull her coat shut again, Julia could see the news from her perspective was not exactly welcomed, but she did not like it either.
“But… the boats, the trade routes! Someone will notice, we can’t…” Losing his grip on hope, Matthias was fumbling for answers and better footholds to a situation without hope. Turning away, Julia looked around the attic for something she could defend herself with.
“You can hide if you wish, but are you really okay with that? How long… how long before food stores run out, before it creeps far enough to take your mind anyway? You have weapons… are you really okay just living like this?” Picking up a hook-ended pole from the wall, Julia looked back to Matthias with a sincere look of concern and pity. Where did she get the courage to say and think such things? He didn’t understand it.
“If you go down, you won’t escape them…” All but pleading her, Julia’s words had stabbed deep into Matthias, as though he was being visited by the ghosts of memories he did not wish to see again. Adam and Karla had said the same, said they had each other’s backs and would find a way, but even from the watch of the clock tower, he’d seen them forced to separate down different streets, Adam hunted down by a figure that held more guile and cunning than most ghouls that wandered the city within the hour. It was hopeless.
“Neither will you if you don’t… I’m grateful for your aid, Matthias, but there’s someone I need to see. I wasn’t raised in the city, I don’t really feel like I belong here… but she always looked out for me, always teased me that I only came to her spice shop to hide from the all the people. I don’t think I’d be able to face her if I just run and hide again. Your choice is your own, and this is mine. Goodbye.” With those simple, fleeting words spoken, she was gone, and Matthias stood alone once more. He couldn’t understand it – the pain and fear in her eyes was real, she’d taken everything he said to heart, but still chose the hopeless chance in a heartbeat.
Scrubbing hands through his hair, Matthias paced and swore every sailor’s curse he knew in frustration. Was it so wrong to want to take the safe option and wait for help? Was he supposed to throw his life to whatever damnation the force overtaking the city stood for, just for sake of some posture? No, there had to be another way…
Storming over to the area he’d made into a living quarter, Matthias dug out the bottle of hard liquor, uncorking it and downing what remained of the amber spirit before throwing the empty bottle across the attic. Enflamed with the liquid courage of the drink, Matthias sorted through his things, digging out the tools he’d wielded as clubs and daggers.
With them in hand, Matthias took up his coat and cowl, heading out onto the balcony. He knew of Streiln street, and chances were this spice shop was the one run by the attractive lady in the eastern market. It was growing more difficult to make anything out from the tower through the pallid malaise robbing the streets of all life and colour, but surely enough, Matthias caught sight of the emboldened woman rushing down side streets and alleyways with stave in hand towards that district.
It was mad, but damned if the whole city hadn’t gone to madness already, so perhaps he would believe in taking hold of his fate. Perhaps she had appeared before him to give him that push, and his only true hope of salvation was to flee the unholy grasp with her. The central market bridging docks to upper market was now empty, the strange woman in the dress and all the ghouls she commanded long gone. Julia steered clear of it, but was headed for the northern market.
Emboldened by her spirit, be it courage or insanity, Matthias followed suit, heading down and running through the secluded streets. Perhaps he might even act the dashing hero and earn their appreciation. All they needed do was escape the city, if they could avoid conflicts and bring salvation before any fleeing ship made contact and brought aid, his name would be honoured across the land. Even if he worked all his life, he would not garner the wealth and fame heroism would attract in that one act.
Of course, the fates would not be so kind. Hidden down an alley that looked into the eastern market’s spice store, Matthias saw no broach for heroism. Julia had reached the shop ahead of him, but now sat limply on her knees, head slumped down on the hard cobbles like a puppet with its strings cut. Before her stood the ethereal beauty in the purple dress, silver-blonde hair covering her back in a silken drape as she stood before the girl.
Others moved around the scene, to and from the high-walled wagon, throwing in supplies from the abandoned marketplace as often as anything else. The familiar shop owner came to sit behind Julia, cuddling into her back and licking at her ear, but there was no reaction. Matthias saw no opening to charge in, and wasn’t fool enough to attack a group of several on a normal day, never mind ones so warped and unnatural.
Speaking to those around her, the noble lady raised her hand, crooking fingers to the deflated Julia. From beyond the tip of those fingers, a second ethereal hand twice the size waved, and Julia rose as though those cut strings were yanked up, moving her into the wagon with the shop owner close behind.
“What is this sorcery…” Matthias breathed out. It was already eerily unnatural how pale the noble was, but to see that unholy magic extending from her fingertips to control the girl sealed it. Turning to walk back to the front of the wagon, the spectral noble paused, tilting her head to the side as her unholy red eyes pinned Matthias from across the market. A cold chill embraced and caressed him as a quiet smile curled the noble’s lips.
“Hmm? Would you like to know more?” Paralyzed in fear by that stare, even with the whole market between them, he could barely react to the voice closing in behind him. Barely managing to turn his head, Matthias caught glimpse of the ashen-skinned woman with crazed ambers in blacken voids for eyes grinning maniacally, metal pipe raised overhead.
It seemed he would not be renowned for dashing, heroic acts. Darkness came instantly as the thin pipe swung down, gaps whistling a tune on the quick wind.
“What about this one, Mistress?”
“Hm? I don’t want it… did not one of your ghouls capture him?”
“Yes. He seems to have resisted the contagion.”
“Then take him and learn. Reward her, if you wish.”
“You are too generous, Mistress…”
The throbbing pain in Matthias’ head made hearing the muffled conversation above him as he drifted in and out of consciousness difficult, but even holding to consciousness was too much, the queasy dizziness throwing him back into darkness.
Untold time passed before his mind dragged him back to the world of the living to face his fate, groggily squinting and opening his eyes to a strange warmth and the faint sound of messy slurping.
“Don’t move.” A soft but cold woman’s voice snapping a command was the first thing beyond that noise to greet him. “If you struggle, this will destroy your ear drum and probably damage your brain, or the spikes behind your head will pierce your neck and break your spine, so be a good boy and lay still.” Brooked in a no-nonsense tone that said the woman didn’t much care, only that it would happen. Matthias lay still to gather his whirling senses.
“I didn’t feel like moving anyway…” He groaned out, blinking and trying to clear his throat without shaking. That sloppy noise continued on unabated, and it seemed his wrists were bound in metal. Struggling would have been useless anyway.
“Good…” No more than placidly content with the lack of resistance, the woman behind his head left the conversation to drop dead from there. Pulling on his earlobe and pressing down on his head, she seemed to be doing something, but he couldn’t well understand what. True to her threat, a thin metal rod was poking and scraping around in his ear, but it didn’t feel unpleasant. As his numb body began to wake, the act was rather soothing, even.
“What are you doing?” For all he may not struggle, Matthias wanted to understand his fate. Clucking her tongue softly, the woman pulled her rod away, tapping it against a metal palette before pressing her hand firmly into the side of his head and carefully dropping a liquid into the ear that trickled down and fizzled loudly.
“Fixing your frail human body. You’re no use to me deaf.” She explained, holding his head still to watch the droplet solution crackle and do its work. “Good.” Murmuring softly, she patted the side of his head and moved away, leaving him to the strange tingle filling his ear. Even without her hand, he knew better than to move his head, and simply lay still.
“Hm… you’re in pretty good health, what was your trade?” Rather than simply look or touch with her hands, the woman posed the question as she walked onto his chest, his broad muscle easily supporting her light weight. Barely able to see from the angle, he could at least feel her pacing back and forth on shoeless feet, digging the ball of her foot into his collar and humming thoughtfully.
“Nnh… what are you going to do with me?” Answering her question with another was not what she wanted, leaving the woman standing on his chest to tut softly and raise a foot to grind into his cheek.
“Tch tch, I’m going to do what I want, including have you answer questions. If you refuse, this becomes unpleasant for both of us. It won’t kill you to co-operate, now speak.” Waggling her toes invitingly before pulling the stocking-clad foot back to standing lightly on his chest, the woman waited with an indifferent patience, her tone never changing from that inquisitive and commanding chill.
“Ugh, I’m a mason…” Matthias conceded, his work having granted him the now lost window of freedom from the panic and madness that had gripped the city below the clock tower.
“Hm… so you were a mason, you certainly built yourself like a brick.” Turning and pacing across him again, was it a hint of humour to enter her voice? No, it couldn’t have been. That aside, the emphasis she did place on her words struck of reminding him that that life was over now, leaving Matthias to scowl against the smooth, black stone floor he was locked down to.
“Hm, is your body still numb? Or are you just doing a poor job…” Dully feeling the woman walk down to his stomach and move one of her feet off him, that odd slurping suddenly squelched down to a gagging sputter.
“I’m not moving until you make him feel something…” No longer even talking to Matthias, it seemed she was holding most of her weight on smoothing or someone else, and gagging them in the process. Whether he should feel something because of it all, he didn’t know. After a long moment of those guttural, wordless sounds, feeling beneath his waist did begin to return. Something warm and soft was wrapping every inch of his gorged cock with twitching spasms.
“Mnn… what in hells…” Matthias breathed out, his hips reflexively bucking and shaking as nerves lit up, forcing different sounds from whomever was being held down on him. The woman atop him gave a quick sigh of a laugh, shoving whoever it was off him before turning to walk back up and off his chest, planting her black silk-clad feet in front of his face.
“She is enjoying her treat, perhaps a treat would make you more amicable, too?” Each of those toes laid out before him wiggled in an inquisitive wave as the ghoul at his crotch coughed and groaned to clear her throat before setting her attention right back on him as though nothing had happened. His shaft was painfully erect and her hands gripping the base like a vice did little to alleviate the feeling, no matter how slow and intently her tongue painted him from hilt to tip in her warm saliva and ragged breath.
“Well, if you don’t intend to speak …” Done with her question going ignored in favour of the ghoul’s service, the woman before him moved one of those feet, lifting it to brush her toes against his lips and nose. For a wonder, the scent to touch his nose was pleasant, giving Matthias to tepidly breathe it in as he stared at the soft silk with little other choice than to accept it.
The soft, chuckling hum from above him as she slid the sole of her foot across his lips and nose, even blinding him with it was somehow even soothing. Something about the whole thing felt wrong, that he shouldn’t accept this treatment so placidly, but there was no choice in the matter at any rate – struggling would see a far worse fate.
“So you really do like this sort of thing, interesting…” That same cold voice was neither goading or accusing, as though she were merely cataloguing information on his habits, her ghoulish companion wordlessly slurping and whipping her tongue around the head of his cock, paying them no attention as her wet lips gripped and sucked on her treat furiously. He wouldn’t last at all if she kept that up.
“Mnngh, gods… no…” Matthias breathed out in the least convincing voice he could have managed. Sighing a quick laugh, the woman standing over him clucked her tongue again, tracing a pattern from his brow to cheek and down to his lips, pushing them apart to force her toes forward.
“I won’t get be able to get results if you aren’t honest with me, now.” She explained, plugging his mouth with the tip of her foot. The taste of her foot as his tongue slid across the silken sole was sweet, and the alternative to accepting was much more painful, but Matthias couldn’t help but feel as though she were expressly looking to humiliate him as her toes slid and wriggled deeper.
“Hm… I’m sure there’s a joke to be made here, but I can’t think of one, what do you think?” Raking her toes back across his tongue very deliberately and slowly, the woman popped her foot free from his mouth to wipe off against his face as he sputtered, coughed and shook against the agonising pleasure his crotch was being subjected to. Waiting for a response, she turned to her ghoul companion, who’d managed to lock herself into a frenzy of pumping his shaft all the way down her throat, creating a constant slew of messy and obscene noises.
“You really do make a lot of noise sometime, quiet down for a moment.” Rather than suffer pulling off the shaft, the ghoul obeyed by burying it down her throat, planting her face in Matthias’ crotch and staying there, tiny gulping convulsions ribbing and squeezing on his cock, but silent she became.
“Thank you… now, if you’re not going to be as forthcoming…” Somehow, a darker chill had entered her words, the other foot lifting to press against his face. While just as soft and sweetly scented, the pressure and force it was applying was nowhere near as endearing. She was pushing to turn his head and roll it onto the torturous spikes behind him, filling him with a strange sense of dread and arousal at once. Struggling and jutting his hips against the tightly squeezing ghoul at his crotch felt good, but the dread of being pushed against some jagged edges certainly did not.
“Nnh, no… wait…” Matthias pleaded, her heel pressing against his mouth to quiet him as she pushed, smothering his face with the underside of her foot.
“I am done waiting, and very busy.” It seemed her callously indifferent tone would haunt him through his last moments, the force of her foot too much for him to resist, no matter how much he buried his face into the soft curve and let her smother him. Resistance finally broke, his head snapping upright with a muffled grunt, his whole body tensing in fearful anticipation of that gruesome end.
The guttural, throaty slurping gingerly resuming was the only sound to breach the silence. Nothing… nothing had happened to him, there wasn’t anything there? Removing her foot from his fear-stricken face, Matthias heard the woman truly laugh for the first time as she knelt down to sit on his bare chest, curling her legs up to lay across his collar.
“You are an honest one, believing everything you’re told like that. Well… it was true that if you had jerked your head up you’d impale your brain, on this.” Reaching over to the tray, the strange woman twirled a pristine metal rod, moulded to a small spade caked in blood at its end. A swift motion would have slid that straight down his ear canal.
“But honestly, I’d forgotten just how fragile mortal shells were. Just one concussive swing and you’re bleeding out the ears, such a nuisance…” Placing the tool back down on the tray, she reached down to push his head from side to side. Glancing into his ears, forcing his eyelids up and even pulling on his chin to check his mouth. She seemed to be giving him another quick check up for injury. Throughout it all, Matthias was too stunned by who, or rather what exactly sat on his chest as lightly as a small animal to resist it.
“What… are you?” He managed, laying perfectly still out of a newfound and much more warranted fear. Her smile – slow, broad and knowing as she traced a finger down his jaw to rest on his chin, pushing his mouth shut – was more unsettling than anything he’d known. Under a head of dull white hair and a strange, near lilac skin, she looked down at him through bold, violet eyes framed in solid rings of black. Soft grey clouds seemed to pass through the whites of those eyes that rested in a timeless face, its smile unmoving.
“Well now, aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves on introductions? One usually asks for name before such personal points, or am I out of touch to human etiquette… Anna? What do you think?” Twisting around to ask the ghoul ravenously enjoying his body, the only response to come was that rhythmic squelching and pleased moans as her tongue lapped up the side, savouring every inch of his girth inside her tight lips.
“Yes, that’s what I thought… well, to keep it short, I am a lich, or homunculus, if you wish to split hairs over this body, but don’t misunderstand, it has… existed for many years more than yours. You may call me Eliza Doreth, at least until I decide otherwise.” A lich… he had heard of them, minions to mythical, greater undead such as vampires that should not even exist, they offered their soul to binding, attaining a perverse sort of immortality through escaping the flesh entirely.
“Gods… why, what do you want with me…?” Mere unholy trickery and magic did not compare to the presence of true undead laying claim to the city and his fate in turn. Eliza’s smile shifted as she rose to stand a solid four feet above him, draped in an elegant black gown lined with frills of black lace.
“Information,” she called it, undoing the top button of her gown. “Not many resisted the first strain of contagion in the city. Not many that did not just make an escape by the docks, but that isn’t important. Now that we have you, you’re going to aid me in understanding where it failed, and perfecting its design.” A button with each declaration saw Eliza punctuate the statement with the dress sliding off her perfect, unblemished purpled skin.
Kicking the discarded gown aside, Eliza stood tall on Matthias’ chest, showing off a pair of firm little breasts with near-black areola, an intimate lace garter hugging her softly curved hourglass hip. Its straps held her sheer stockings up, though she wore nothing beneath it, leaving her soft plum of a sex exposed to the air, and Matthias’ fixated eyes. Giving a quick laugh, Eliza moved a hand to stroke at the hairless curve of supple skin.
“Oh, this has your attention… Anna, finish.” Turning to face her companion and leave Matthias to the tight curve of her behind, Eliza snapped her order to be done, queueing a slight pause in the ghoul that had ebbed and swayed between overwhelming frenzy to licks and kisses he could barely feel, edging him on without taking his attention from her mistress all too often.
With the Lich’s command, Anna was free to go wild on the prize and treat she had attentively kept so insufferably hard, immediately plunging Matthias’ shaft down her throat with a hungry groan. There was no reflexive gagging or resistance now, though the passage somehow clenched harder than ever before, her lips softening to flex and squeeze on every inch they rubbed with breath-taking pleasure.
Compared to this, the ghoul had previously been doing naught but gently stoking his throbbing girth. Now, it was all Matthias could do to shake, groan and struggle against the bondage holding his arms and legs out to either side on short chains. Staring up at him from between her Mistress’ steady legs with voracious amber eyes, Anna even took a hand to squeezing and rolling his balls, urging with everything she had to yank the climax from his body by force in seconds.
The explosive force of it was beyond reason, as unnatural as the company he was held under as his hips shuddered and bucked violently into her accepting maw. Fighting back against it and holding him down, Anna drained every last drop of his shattering orgasm. Only giving a single whimper whence it ran dry, the ghoul left with to one final slurp from the base to tip as she popped off him obediently.
Pushing back to sit on her knees with a stupid look of satisfaction plastered over her grinning face, Anna finished her treat and waited patiently for further orders. Chuckling and walking down Matthias’ chest and stomach, Eliza smiled down at her obedient pet, stroking Anna’s messy hair rewardingly.
“Good girl… now, raise the leg bars for me to half, and collect the ring pieces from the table.” Giving out the instructions to her assistant, Eliza walked back up Matthias’ chest and even off him, straddling his head with those slender feet. Looking down at him from above the swell of her breasts, the lich moved a single finger to run circles around the hood of her mounds, knowing it was about all he could see.
“You’re ready to be a good research subject now, right? If you don’t play along, it could get much worse.” It was all he could do to nod, even without knowing the exact details, he had no wish to anger or disappoint a being that held so much power over his life, now. Eliza’s smile was quick and soft as she turned her back to him again, lowering herself down to drop her supple hips squarely on his face. Tucking her legs under his bound arms, the lich hummed sweetly as she shifted and grinded her folds down against his chin and lips, her behind pressing into his face to smother the rest of his senses with the unnatural chill of her body.
“Good… work your tongue, and my work may go faster.” Eliza instructed, reaching back to pat his head in prompt. Wondering just what this sweetly-scented ‘homunculus’ tasted like, Matthias obeyed, slowly and carefully prodding his tongue out to run across her folds. While cold, it was not unpleasantly so, and even warmed against his attention quickly, her lips engorging and softening slightly to meet him.
“Yes… put them on the tray, there. All of them.” Eliza instructed, her hips twitching just a little as Matthias gently kissed and pulled on those mounds smothering his lip, tickling and sliding his tongue along the slit that started to slicken with a fine juice. He hadn’t known what to expect, but was glad her body was not made of dust, cobweb and spiders, somehow. It also reacted as naturally as it looked, beyond the strange, violet pigment. He could even come to enjoy the gentle taste beading from her.
Largely ignoring his efforts beyond reflexive twitches and shifts, Eliza sat comfortably atop his face as she focused her interests on his thoroughly drained cock – touching, tweaking, pulling, measuring and examining every angle of it and the sac that now hung above it, with how the raised chains curved his body up to present her study material at a convenient eyelevel.
“Hmm… salve.” Eliza ordered, outstretching a hand for her assistant to hand her a small pot of white cream. Leaving Anna to hold it, the lich dipped her fingers in, scooping out a good amount to rub into Matthias’ taint just below the balls, before painting a circle around the base of his shaft.
“Ring.” Wiping her fingers off on the raised leg before her, Eliza extended her hand again, wiggling her fingers expectantly until Anna wordlessly placed a thin metal band in her hand. Taking the piece, Eliza paused with a slight flinch as she felt the man’s tongue nudging between her mounds, giving her a burst of welcomed pleasure. Their work with the city had left her so little time to enjoy the flesh personally. This chance offered by her Mistress was a blessing.
“Keep going…” Eliza murmured, shaking her hips from left to right to let him know she meant the words for his muffled ears as she hooked the ring around his sac, letting it slide into the numbing cream as his softened cock was threaded through in kind. Unaware of what she was doing at all, barely able to even feel his crotch that she was so interested in, Matthias focused his energy into softly pushing his tongue deeper, curling and exploring the offered mounds carefully, given their petite tightness.
“Hnn… covers.” Eliza sighed out, a touch of flustered unevenness entering her voice as she glanced to her aide, taking two half-circle rings from her. Each held a tiny amethyst at its crescent, the ends of the curved bars cut to the look of a puzzle. On the inside of each half-circle lay a small needle, linked to each gemstone. The sharp points would barely prick the skin when put in place, but would serve as conduits all the same. With his crotch numbed to pain, Matthias felt nothing as the first half was slid in beneath his balls, clicking onto and shaping the base ring.
With it in place, Eliza simply slid the second half in over the top of his shaft, the intricate locks twisting and locking seamlessly as the pair sunk in, gripping tightly around the base and squeezing gently on his girth. Done fixing her adornment, Eliza smiled contently at her work, letting herself enjoy the feel of his tongue wriggling and roaming into her warming depths a moment longer. He was good at this, and with a little training, could become a treasured toy and subject of research for the lich.
“Mmnh… lower him, Anna.” Quickly obeying what would be her Mistress’ last order for the time being, Eliza’s ghoul assistant made quick work of lowering the chain-bound bars to floor level, bringing Matthias back to laying chained flat to the floor. Reluctantly climbing off his face, her sex suitably warmed and wetted from his attention, Eliza pushed herself up to stand, walking across his chest once more before nudging and prodding his flaccid cock with her toes.
“How do you feel? Any discomfort?” Turning back to face him as her foot nudged and rubbed, the lich looked down to her subject for an answer, receiving a nonplussed shake of the head from her captive man.
“No, I… I’m fine.” Matthias spoke, savouring the sweet scent of her that still plastered his cheeks and face, the memory of her soft behind still covering much of his face. With that unnervingly quiet little smile, Eliza crooked her fingers, a subtle light flashing across her eyes. Suddenly, a rush of blood, energy and desire flooded his cock, inflating it back to an erect state immediately as he groaned and panted in shock.
“Wh… aagh, what was that…?” He breathed out, staring up at her knowing smirk with wide, bewildered eyes. Everything about his crotch throbbed with a need to be sated as though he hadn’t just been drawn to edge and sucked dry by the voracious ghoul. Eliza only chuckled softly, running her toes from the ring-bound base to tip, sliding her silken sole over the rock-hard cleft that refused to back down against her pressure.
“Nothing compared to what my Mistress is capable of, but enough control over you for my needs…” Eliza explained, stepping off him and turning to lower herself down. Straddling his waist and sitting with his rigid cock slapped against her stomach, the tip reached and passed her belly button as she softly fingered it. Pausing to admire her work and gently run her gentle fingers up and down the impressive girth, the difference in size was enough to give even the lich a moment’s pause.
“This thing now belongs to me. It obeys my commands, and so you are going to… fulfil those needs, right now.” Eliza explained, raising her hips until she was high enough to guide the tip between her legs. As warmed up as she was, the difference in size truly was something she’d have to squeeze and nudge down on a little at a time. Just twisting, wriggling and pushing the tip in gave Eliza little sparks of carnal pleasure as her body was woken and stretched out around the size of it.
“Mm, how does it feel… knowing you’re going to aid in development and serve me… Mmn, you’re nothing more than my lab rat now…” Eliza cooed, talking to fill the silence of her awkward descent with an air of confidence as she grinned down at him. It felt so very filling already, enough that she would savour every little nudge as she drove him deeper, giving off little gasps with each push. Her research would be thorough, that was for certain. What the lich did not expect to factor into her study however, was the maniacally grinning Anna behind her.
“Miiistress…” Silently moving her hands to stroke and rest on Eliza’s thighs, the ghoul squeezed on the petite lich’s body and lunged, shoving all her weight down on her Mistress, forcing Eliza to slam straight to hilt on Matthias’ shaft. The violent plunge knocked the wind out of her with a single, strangled squeak as she quivered and spasmed around him. Eliza’s eyes beaded in shock as she stared into nothingness, the burst of stimulation for how deep inside his cock hit all but numbed her shaking body.
“Haagh… y-you little…” She growled out through a ragged breath. There was no danger of damaging the lich’s body, but the sudden shock of it had been completely unexpected. Anna simply giggled playfully, hugging her hands around to roll and rub at her Mistress’ button.
“Mmh, if Mistress wants to enjoy herself, she shouldn’t hold back, that’s all…” Anna explained, teasing and spurring her Mistress on into a soft moan before pulling her hands away, leaving the lich to her so-called research with an eager grin for the show she’d get to watch.
“Mmnn… yes, it’s been much too long… come on, you can move your hips too, show me what you’re made of.” Eliza demanded as she fixed her dominant gaze back on Matthias, his body too flooded with the renewed need to fuck to even consider disobeying the invitation to buck and shift his hips, knocking and stirring up that impossibly tight pocket that had been slammed down around him.
Somehow as tight as the ghoul’s throat, the throbbing pulse of it was an entirely different sensation to the other’s rough suction, one that teased and caressed him from all sides. For Eliza, it was a blissful fullness that sent pangs of life and fire through her body, urging her in turn to grind and roll her hips, causing it to all but stir her inside. Indulging in the dizzying sensation, Eliza leant back to rest a hand on Matthias’ bound thigh, the other filling with a breast to squeeze. The new angle furthered the little pangs of pleasure as the man finally started to quiver and buck up into her impossibly tight folds.
“Nhaah-ha, yes, good… look at you, thought you’d save someone, and now you’re just bucking your hips like a wild beast! Haah, good… if you ever want release, you’re going to satisfy me, first, think you can do that…?” Eliza murmured, her voice breaking with warmth and lust from the calculated composure she wanted to keep. Even without her forewarning, he was already lunging his hips up, bucking and punching the tip of his monstrous cock against her stomach to satiate his own maddening hunger. The threat had been real however, for so long as Eliza willed it, the enchanted band her slickened mounds repeatedly smacked into with each thrilling bounce would not allow him to do anything she did not permit, including orgasm, granting her complete possession over his cock.
Watching from the side lines, Anna sighed happily to see her Mistress so lost in pleasure, grinning and giving off a guttural moan as the ashen ghoul sat back and played with herself in kind, licking her lips as her eyes focused on where the two joined and how his juicy girth constantly spread their Mistress out around it with each hard thrust.
For all her threatening talk and demands, Eliza was not going to be able to hold on with the rough bucking he was treating her to for much longer. For all she only drew close, it seemed his erratic and desperate bucking was due to his own overwhelming need already having long since reached that point of no return to be stopped dead in its tracks by the possessing ring he now wore. Laughing at the desperation in him, Eliza threw her other hand back, grabbing his knees for support and leaning back far enough that his wild trusts distended a poking bulge in her trim stomach.
“Mnnh, not yet… harder! Finish me if you want release!” Eliza all but growled in breathless moans, her breasts bouncing freely with each rapid thrust that shook her whole body in bliss. Nearing the very peak, the lich could feel a white fuzz building in her mind, little stars dancing in her hazy eyes as she glared down at him demandingly. Somewhere in the carnal storm, she realised this was that sweet taste of what life offered to all so easily.
The blockade on his own orgasm came free, and the lightweight Eliza was almost thrown off him with how hard the man under her bolted up, screaming out a tortured moan as his cum rushed out into the lich’s softly kneading depths as fast as he could will it, leaving him to shudder and buck for a long minute as he simply continued to pump and fill her.
Staring blankly up at the stone ceiling of the dungeon with a dreamy glaze to her eyes, Eliza only twitched and mewled softly every so often as another wracking shudder took her. She couldn’t recall the last time she’d felt so alive. He truly was going to be a valuable test subject for her, having already given her more than a womb full of research and revelations to mull over.
None of that mattered in the moment though as Eliza limply let go of her tensed muscles, collapsing to the floor in a satisfied heap. The man’s cock popped free easily as she slumped off him, leaving her dark folds gaping and bruised with his shape, slowly seeping that pure white that filled her so deeply.
“Nnh… Anna… take him to the pen, done for tonight…” Eliza murmured lazily, lidding her eyes and sighing in contentment as Matthias gasped for breath in exhausted relief.
As the only one with any energy in her, Anna was quick to hop up, grinning down at how silly he looked while she undid the shackles at his wrists and ankles. Even if there was a way to remove the ring about his twitching shaft, it was none of her concern to be touching, and so the ghoul simply helped the man up, guiding him through the dimly lit chamber to his ‘pen’, a cell alcoved into the wall of the chamber. Dropping him inside, Anna closing and locking the barred door behind him.
Gathering his senses and what little strength he had in him, Matthias pulled himself up by the bars, squinting into the dark to get his first proper look around the dungeon. Across the room, the ghoul that had found him was kneeling aside the lich, stroking her hair soothingly and grinning in that unnerving way she did. Tables littered with books, flasks and things he was most likely better off not knowing dotted the room beyond the shackled slab of stone and metal beams in the centre of it all where he’d been kept.
Matthias’ head spun with the reality of it all, making him grip the imprisoning bars to steady himself from falling. Before the situation could sink in any further, he was made aware of a shuffling behind him in the cell. Turning to face it, a pair of familiar faces edged into the poor lighting; the black-haired spice shop owner, and Karla aside her.
Both were near as ashen as the ghoul outside the pen, that lustfully hungering gleam present in their corrupted eyes. Julia’s absence among them did nothing to lighten the situation. Strange that he would think of her in this moment, his back pressed up against the stone wall as the pair closed in on him intently.
There was certainly no heroism to be found here, but high chance of madness.