Land In Revolt Interludes VII
The whip fashioned from pure divine energy tore through Carter Wilroar’s flesh with a horrible snap. The beleaguered Mage could no longer scream; his voice had left him after the first round of punishment. All he could do now was grit his teeth and cry.
The stolid young Shadowtheist handling the weapon stepped back to let Ralen Mayswire through. The attache to the Council of Elders stood emotionless over the bleeding Mage. “Let us try again,” said Mayswire. “You are expected to purify this Essence. I require you to reverse whatever the Darkbringers did to it. I do not care if this is a simple task or not. Your refusal to attempt it is unacceptable.”
“It’s pointless!” replied Carter in a raspy voice. “What else do I have to say to get it through your thick skulls??!!” He tried to stand in defiance but the pain from the lashings was too great. Carter’s breath was labored so he took a moment before continuing. “For one thing, the power to alter Essence to another type is far beyond my ability. The last Mage who could do it was probably Robitai. But even if I DID have access to that kind of talent, it still wouldn’t work. You said the clerics used a divine artifact. That basically ends the conversation.”
The room was silent aside from Carter’s heavy breathing. Mayswire sneered at the pathetic Mage below him. “You disappoint me, Wilroar,” said Ralen. “If I were a man in your position, I would do what I could to make myself more…useful.”
“TO THE NINE HELLS WITH YOU!” shouted Carter. Fire burned in his eyes as the Essence began to swell up from the hole in the floor of the cave.
In unison, Mayswire conjured some kind of force shield in front of him as the Shadowtheist struck with his divine whip. The blow landed on Carter’s shoulder. It sent him tumbling some ten feet, leaving him curled in a fetal position when his momentum waned. The sorcerer dismissed the protective barrier as he slowly walked towards the defeated Mage. He knelt down next to Carter to examine his condition. The Mage mumbled something incoherent under his breath.
“What was that?” asked Mayswire. “I couldn’t quite make it out…” In a weak response, Carter repeated himself, “I wish…I wish your Golden Saviors had left me for dead.”
Upon hearing this, Ralen’s eyes widened as a thought crossed his mind. Softly, the sorcerer replied, “You may be more useful than for that which I gave you credit. Thank you.”
Mayswire stood and turned back towards the security escort which was comprised of some ten other individuals besides the Shadowtheist. “Take the traitor to his quarters,” he commanded. “Please heal his wounds and make sure he is comfortable. Provide him any food he likes. He must be well-fed and rested. The myriad of upcoming construction projects requires his utmost.” The rabble complied as ordered.
As they dragged away the limp Carter Wilroar, Mayswire was left alone in the cave below the vacant Barge Wright Inn. He stared down into the hole that gave direct access to the Essence Table flowing beneath Valencia. As usual there was a mess to clean and, as usual, it was left to him to figure out how. This particular situation was so complicated it required some additional help.
Luckily, he knew just the men for the job.
* * *
Niven had them eating out of his hands. Which was a far cry better than them EATING his hands. Which, if he didn’t play his cards right, was not a far cry from actually happening.
That bitch Sirene had led him into straight into the lion’s den. Which, in this case, was a den of angry bugbears. Niven should have done a better job of authenticating the maps he liberated from his rival’s campsite. In his excitement of getting the drop on her, he neglected to account for the possibility the whole thing was an elaborate set up. It was, of course, what HE would’ve done. He had to admire Sirene’s forethought in the matter. Niven would make sure he’d tell her as much the next time he saw her – provided there was a next time.
The Bard figured he would need to get through two more poems before he could make his escape with help from a well-worded suggestion spell. Bugbears weren’t the brightest of folk, particularly when distracted with tales of promiscuous fairies. Niven had learned in his travels mating with a nymph was a popular fantasy among them. It pays to know one’s audience.
The tiny dress feel to her knees,
As the naked fairy ducked behind the trees;
But, try as she might, she couldn’t hide,
From Bzor’s “sword” so long and wide!
This last stanza elicited a number of hoots and hollers from the group. Good, thought Niven. They’ll be an extremely easy mark. He decided to switch things up. A poem dealing with current events should serve the turn. Nothing was more current than tales of the Golden Saviors whom he knew personally. This helped in adding flavor to his recitals, whether they be true or not. Niven had a better accounting of the Heroes than most. It gave him an air of authority on the subject.
“Now boys,” said the Bard, “I’m sure you know all about the Golden Saviors; Mage Hunters and adventurers extraordinaire. But I bet you DIDN’T know they’re personal friends of mine. It’s because yours truly saved them from certain death in the belly of a den of cultists. They wouldn’t be where they are today if not for-”
Niven was cut off by the hulking bugbear who barged through the tent flaps. The new arrival made his way directly to the Bard in a threatening manner. Niven cowered as the bugbear loomed over him. “Fools!” growled the beastly humanoid, “In another few moments you’d all be doing this dandy’s laundry. Isn’t that right, Bard?”
“I’m not sure what you mean;” replied Niven, “my traveling garments are very clea-”
The bugbear backhanded Niven before he could finish the sentence. “No more rhymes!” he ordered. “I know what your kind can do. You tell tales, make men do strange things. I don’t want to hear your poems, Bard, but I do want to know about the Golden Saviors. You know them?”
“Y-yes, I do,” replied Niven as he wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth. “We’re like brothers. I trained some of them just to give you an idea of whom you’re deal-”
“Good,” interrupted the bugbear. “That means you can help me find them. The Holy Man and I have unfinished business…”
“Well,” answered Niven, “I’m not certain where they are at the moment of course. They’re very busy men, what with saving the world and all. If you let me go, I’ll certainly ask around and-”
“You’re going to help me find them or I will kill you with my bare hands,” said the bugbear. “Understand?”
Niven slowly lowered his gaze to the hands that could end his life. His eyes widened once he made the connection. With a gulp he replied, “Understood.”
The bugbear sneered and turned back towards his men. They scrambled as they snapped out of the Bard’s thrall. He ordered them to make ready for a journey, spoke of battle and the taste of sweet revenge. He gestured with his hands as he did so. Hands that shook uncontrollably the entire time.
* * *
The two succubi lay there, basking in the afterglow of their intense lovemaking. The smell of roses and sulfur permeated the air. They gazed deeply into one another’s eyes. If it was possible for a demon to experience love, these two would not deny the feeling. Whatever it was they felt, the connection between them was undeniable. They were each other’s world; loyalty to the Lords be damned. Literally.
At their feet lay the crumbling husk of what used to be a man. With his life essence drained, the shell of what remained slowly withered away. “He was…delicious,” purred one of them.
“Yes,” responded her lover. “He was a welcome change from all the wizards. Young and virile. We’ll be savoring him for hours.”
“Just as well, dearest,” said the first demon. “There is much work to do. We cannot put if off any longer.”
“Oh, must we?” said her lover playfully. “You need to relax more, my sweet. I can help you with that…” As she spoke, she extended her serpent-like tongue across the sensitive areas of the other’s body. She moaned in response, taking in the sensation.
“S-stop, we… we’ll have to answer for any delays…” said the first demon in weak protest. Her lover ignored the plea and continued to enjoy herself.
With great restraint, the first demon grasped her lover’s shoulders and halted her progress. “I. Said. NO.” The fires of the Nine Hells burned in her eyes. “I am not some mortal whom you would seduce. You will obey when I command you.”
Her lover smirked from in between her legs. “Of course. Whatever you command… Master.” The last word was dripping with sarcasm. She rested her head on the first demon’s lap. “I’ve already taken care of the would-be saviors of the world, for your information. So, I assure you, I am doing plenty for the cause.”
“That so?” questioned the first demon. “And how exactly did you ‘take care’ of them?”
“I sent Means with them,” answered her lover matter-of-factly. “I took advantage of an opportunity that presented itself and capitalized elegantly. They’ll be dead before they realize what’s happened. Such is the trusting nature of fools and heroes.”
The first demon considered the information. “Hmm,” she said. “Well, I suppose that works out nicely then. I would even argue it’s freed up some extra time for us. Wouldn’t you?” She gently tilted her lover’s head back towards her eager thighs.
Her lover took the direction with glee. As she closed her eyes and unleashed her tongue once more she sweetly replied, “As you command, Master.”