theodora woke on a cloud of pillows, burdened by lassitude and a strange inner fire. Sprawled beneath a curtain-made canopy, she rubbed her face against bundled cloth carrying the scents of skin and sweat. Low tendrils of smoke, thick and sweet smelling, coiled around the cushions that hugged her body. Reflexively, she sucked in a breath, drawing the curl of its seductive warmth into her lungs until her head spun from the weight of the heat it carried. She shuddered, momentarily thoughtless and heavy.
With a sigh she rolled her head to the side, catching the cadence of hushed voices. Through the open flaps of her half-hidden nest, the Lanius commanded the Kourt. Various women moved to the song of her melodious orders. Shivering bodies were bathed and oiled, flushed and pretty in the gifted copper tub. Others were helped along by their dreaming sisters, shuffled off to sleep beneath the curtains of other nesting spaces. Yet, more were sent beyond the chamber, moving stiffly with bound books and boxes.
Only the Deaconess remained outside the collective dream, holding a woman by the arms she held stretched over her head until that woman stood on just the tips of her toes.
The held woman’s mouth was open, drooling. Her gaze? Empty. theodora shivered from the power of the erotic vision and couldn’t help her melting sigh. Something tugged at her sleepy mind, a flush of craving that left her belly clenching with envy. theodora’s gaze roamed with greed, taking in sloping hips and the quivering place between the woman’s legs. theodora might have recognized the other woman, knowing the deep gasps she released belonged to a Lord-wife, but the name slipped away, when the Lanius stepped up to palm the woman’s breasts.
With methodical patience, the Lanius hands-of-black kneaded the woman’s flushed chest. As the Lanius textured thumbs brushed across the woman’s straining nipples, her moans sifted through theodora’s mind, stirring orange-tinged memories of the Lanius’ touch. With each sensual whine beyond theodora’s makeshift tent she fell further into recollection, drowsy and shivering.
“I have them.”
With some effort, theodora opened her half-lowered lids. Her heart lurched with anticipation. She knew that voice. Intimately.
“You’re late, Moryet. I asked for these a whole moon ago.”
theodora hissed as the tenebraurea collar tightened, aware her clit was still uncomfortably swollen. It pulled what little focus she’d gathered, directing it to the rhythmic pulsing between her open thighs. The nervous thump of her excited heart had awakened the container meant to bind her body. Her sex glistened with pearly fluid, flushed and hungry for a taste of the pleasure she’d been stained with.
She missed Alphonse’s wispy reply due to distraction. Struck by the tenebraurea born haze that sought to contain her thoughts.
When theodora looked up from her twitching clit, dizzy from a swelling wave of arousal, it was to the vision of her vassal. Alphonse approached the Lanius with an armful of books, her face slack and her thin shirt tight against the hardened nipples that tented it. The carnal energy of the space struck Alphonse hard. Her steps faltered as the empty chill of her gaze grew glassy and hot. Unbothered, the Lanius smiled patiently. Her attention was all for the bundle Alphonse carried, even as Alphonse’s breathing quickened with each step. Yet, as the Lanius extended her many arms to take the books Azul stepped in front of her.
The Lanius scowled at Azul’s back, but Azul did not turn to assuage her ire.
Instead, Azul motioned at the lumbering Alphonse and with a shudder Alphonse approached her.
The Lanius huffed, “What is it?”
Alphonse swayed in place, captured by the hold Azul held upon her chin. In silence, Azul examined Alphonse’s dreamy features with a gaze more beast than human. With a whimper Alphonse adjusted her hold on the books and Azul leaned over, inhaling deeply at the sensitive junction between Alphonse’s neck and shoulder.
Alphonse shuddered when Azul straightened and theodora wondered at the tremble that shook Alphonse’s grip.
Without answering the Lanius—who tapped her foot impatiently, Azul tapped lightly at the books the Lanius wanted so much. To Alphonse, she asked, “Where did you get these?”
Alphonse, lost in a dream of obedience, answered. “The Havelock Archives.”
Azul briefly closed her eyes and when they opened, they were human, rolling with storms of grey, “They have a particular smell. Why is that?”
Alphonse frowned; her face cutely strained in memory.
Azul tilted her head, waiting, before she shifted her gaze to theodora.
Beneath the intensity of Azul’s attention, theodora swallowed heat laced fear. The collar jerked in reactive warning, squeezing as a single thought appeared—
She knows why, and i do too.
Alphonse was just being asked to confirm it. To betray theodora’s secret aloud, to make it true that something other was hidden away in her home.
“Ooooh….” Alphonse moaned, “My Lord went hunting a fortnight and some moons ago. She completed her hunt and skinned the felled beast. Its’ pelt was in the archive drying. ‘Tis where the sun shines best in Notos, perfect for preparing a skin. Though, the books dwell there too.” Alphonse smiled as she bit her bottom lip, pleased to surrender information to Ashwyn. “It’s not a bad smell, at least. It’s… good.”
Azul held theodora’s gaze for a moment longer, and theodora groaned from the maintained intensity. Her hazed up brain tingled deliciously, even though Azul smiled unkindly.
While theodora curled her toes, Azul turned her attention back to her company. She motioned for the Lanius to take the offered books that Alphonse still offered proudly.
“Azul?” The Lanius whispered, curious and open.
“Syren,” Azul murmured.
The Lanius nodded, “Go.”
“Ma’am?” Alphonse said, flushed and submissive.
Azul began to usher Alphonse toward the exit of the Open, “Could you take me to Havelock estate?”
Alphonse’s expression, gleaming and reflective, still held the brilliance of a prideful woman, “Y-yes! I’d be honored to show you my Lord’s home.”
The pride that thickened Alphonse’s voice was enough to tighten theodora’s throat. Had she not been contained and softened she might have found Alphonse enthusiasm embarrassing.
Or maybe theodora felt possessive. Alphonse never reacted that way for her.
As it was, her stomach warmed, filling her chest with a greater desire. Hearing Alphonse proudly offer the Ashwyn beast a tour of her estate with such simpering eagerness had made theodora feel melty.
Wasn’t she meant to do something? To push beyond the heavy heat… and keep Alphonse safe?
theodora whimpered as Azul started to lead Alphonse away, only for them to pause at the entrance of the Open.
“Good Sunrise, women of Ashwyn!”
Junior swaggered into the repurposed Open, exuberant and dressed ridiculously garish. His gaze combed the Ashwyn women with open thirst, drifting only when a naked worker hobbled past him.
From the dark halls behind Junior, Hel approached, sneering and frazzled. Junior was unbothered by her presence, eager and flushed in the face of Hel’s snarl. He smiled with a hint of teeth, even when Hel gripped his shoulder with a heavy hand. His expression only faltered when he saw Alphonse.
With a scowl Junior hissed, “Should you be here, Moryet? With your precious Lord missing?”
The tips of Alphonse’s ears grew red, as the glazed sheen of her eyes dimmed in power. With furrowed brows Alphonse opened her mouth, but Junior waved her off with a click of dismissal.
He hadn’t deemed her answer important.
Alphonse jerked, but was held in place by Azul’s grip. Alphonse trembled under the weight of Azul’s hand on her shoulder, but snapped her mouth shut with an audible click.
Azul spoke for the both of them, “Missing Lord?”
Junior glared at the hand Azul had on Alphonse’s shoulder. “Yes! There’s a missing Lord. It’s Moryet’s! She did not attend to her purpose as ordered.”
theodora jerked on her cushions, drawn from the sunset warmth of mindlessness. Yet to be noticed in her private corner, theodora stirred, pushed by sleepy arrogance. How dare he—
The collar tightened and her pussy spasmed, oozing her pride from between her legs. Her head fell back with a strained moan, soft beneath the Kourt’s trance-laced ambiance. It took some time for her focus to recenter on the gesticulating Junior. She’d been too lost to the way her thighs clenched together, involuntarily trying to ease the pent-up pressure.
Panting, theodora struggled to remember she should listen.
“A shame,” Azul said, “I hope you find them.”
“A-are you busy, Madam?”
Azul gave Junior an odd smile, something wild. Malicious. Yet, her words were still said with polite airs. “I am.”
Azul herded a stiff-legged Alphonse past him, pausing only to brush her knuckles lightly against Hel’s skin.
Hel smiled drunkenly and shivered from the action.
“But Madam, with her?” Junior tried to twist around and follow, but Hel stepped into his path.
The Lanius rolled her eyes at his back, each hand balancing an open Havelock grimoire. “Hel, back to the door.”
Hel sneered, unhappy, yet turned to do so even as Junior grinned at her retreating form, ready to follow the long-gone Azul and Alphonse.
“Heir Duluth, how can I help you?”
Junior turned back to the Lanius, eyes glassy with desperation—and a fair share of something glinty and dangerous—unable to comprehend the monstrous beauty that the Lanius was. Unable to resist her attention, he stumbled over himself to preen before her.
The sleepy clit-focused portion of theodora felt special that she had been honored with the Lanius’ truth.
i am a lord without a King, being tempted by Her creature.
“Ah, that’s right! I’ve come with unfortunate news!” Junior’s smile curled a bit too far at the ends, unfortunate news indeed. “Lord Havelock did not provide the horses needed to search the Wodd.”
He stood there for a moment, expectant.
The Lanius stared at him, “Huh?”
He chewed on his bottom lip, “T-the Lord you were with the other day. The one who stood with you for the ringing of your Bell—”
“—Havelock, yes. I know who she is.”
Junior cleared his throat, “Well, she didn’t greet the Board in the Wodd this morning. She’s the Lord who’s missing. When I checked on her estate, the cook said she wasn’t there! She isn’t anywhere in fact!”
The Lanius raised a brow.
“R-right, well,” Junior faltered, “Father is very displeased with her behavior. She has shown disrespect with her deliberate absence. She could even be flogged for her insolence!”
theodora closed her eyes, taken by a sudden chill. Against the seduction of the collar something brittle hummed through her chest. Memories of the Market came unbidden, building the familiar shape of the Commander—proud, stone faced, and tied to a post. It had been a crisp Flora morning on the dawn they’d taken the Commander from her bedding, still dressed in her simple sleeping shift. While theodora had stared at the frost licking her boots, the Board had hovered, emotionless before tradition, while the sound of hit flesh lit the air like crackling gunpowder. Only Junior had looked on in satisfaction as Duluth whipped the Commander.
What had been her offense?
theodora could not recall what Charlotte had been flogged for or if it had even mattered.
Duluth’s performance had done little else than expose them to a theater for sadism.
When the Board left with the Duke’s departure it was theodora alone who had held the Commander. Charlotte hadn’t cried at all, but theodora had, for both of them, not certain of why.
How could they let that happen when the power of words should be enough to rule them?
“Would you like to watch it?”
Theodora opened her eyes at the sound of Junior’s offer, roused by the curdled unease knocking under her skin. Beneath the fading memory-sounds of Charlotte’s whip-torn flesh, Junior’s tone raised thought provoking alarm. Theodora strained her hearing, instinctually cautious...
Before the sweet aches of collar-pain licked up her spine. Her hands surged to ease the heated place between her legs. The collar pulsed to the beat of her heart, strumming unspoken commands along her nerves.
Her head was meant to be empty. How dare she think again.
Theodora sucked in a fearful breath. Let me have this, she thought urgently, trying to soothe her tormented clit by cupping her sex and pressing firmly. She needed so badly to (cum) listen.
The metal tormented her at a faster pace, pushing her higher through the stages of excitement with each punishing squeeze of her tender clit. She needed to calm the rapid rhythm of her heart… but even looking at Junior made something wild scream inside her. Something her collar was meant to tame.
Junior stepped closer to the befuddled Lanuis, who looked more interested in her books than him. “I’m going to ask Father if I can do it,” he cooed, “Discipline is so important! It keeps the dogs in their place and the way Havelock has been strutting around here lately, as if she were some sort of king—”
A voice interrupted Junior’s tangent, liquid and smooth despite its sharpness. “Lord Havelock injured herself this morning. Out in the Wodd. Searching alone.”
The Open was a chamber designed for a hoarder, placing nobles in multilayered rows of banner marked booths. During Kourt, Duluth often stood at its decorated center, refusing to sit as if he were humble. Yet even Theodora knew each booth was carefully positioned. Forced, no matter the angle, to face the symbol of his ownership. Duluth always joked about his throne-that-wasn’t, even as he stood before it. Framed by its decadence.
At the back of the chamber was an alcove of privilege tucked behind the privacy of weighted crest marked curtains, tall and glittering—important. Expensive. Theodora had once thought them magnificent, the way they always drew her gaze whenever Duluth was impassioned.
Now, those curtains were held up by Artorius. All that weight and importance bundled over her muscular shoulders.
Junior peered over the Lanius shoulders, gaze helplessly drawn to the sight despite—or because of—Artorius’ interruption. While it was unusual to see someone else back there, for the space had been set aside for Duluth alone, for one person to lift the heavy curtains on their own...
There were many reasons Duluth had kept lessers posted at the alcove entrance. Providing a sense of security had just been one of them.
A pipe carved through with gold and silver hung from the edge of Artorius’ ruby painted lips. It spilled wisps of smoke like falling water, blanketing more of the chamber in its warmth. Those tendrils of fog made Artorius look ethereal, standing before them in the furs of the Board. Beneath the draping that swept over her breasts and shoulders, she was nude and hauntingly beautiful.
Theodora found it difficult to look anywhere else. Why would she want to? She was drawn to the power within Artorius’ shapely body, and the scars that told stories across the sensual dip of her hips. While Junior gaped at the smooth softness of Artorius’ lower lips, Theodora stared at the marking on Artorius’ neck, where the raised skin glowed like the Wodd-tree’s webbing.
Then, she flicked her gaze up and met Artorius’ own.
For an indescribable instant, Theodora was nothing. Empty. Waiting. Just clit and pussy. Gold curled through Artorius’ vision, serpentine as it poured through Theodora, the way pipe-smoke escaped her parted lips. There wasn’t enough of her to keep the brilliance out. Her mind and body had already collapsed, low on what little will she had left.
Soon, that too, would be soothed and snuffed. Bound by the thrill that pulsed behind her contained clit. Had she already not been so sprawled and open on her taken pillows, she would have spread her lower lips for Artorius.
But Junior spoke and the spell was broken. Theodora quivered with the agony of longing and chewed on her tongue to keep from crying out.
“B-but,” Junior stuttered, “th-that can’t possibly be true, Madam Stranger!” He swallowed and smacked his lips with a hunger that made Theodora’s skin crawl, “Who told you that? Was it Moryet?”
“Does it matter?” The Lanius huffed, unimpressed.
“Of course!” Junior spat. “She lies, you know. She’ll do anything to get her way, I’ve heard it! She’s from Springhammer after all.”
With a slow exhale Artorius’ shifted her attention. Theodora mourned the loss of Artorius’ gaze, though she could not understand why. Not enough self rattled in her head and her clit was so swollen and distracting.
“Springhammer is a friend to Ashwyn,” the Lanius mumbled, as Artorius approached them.
Junior’s gaze was rooted to Artorius rising chest as she dragged on her pipe. With smacking lips, he eventually groaned, “Springhammer breeds filth and thieves.”
“That’s dramatic,” the Lanius drawled.
“Tis not!” Junior snapped, “You’ve been tricked, Madam. Their hospitality was only meant to lower your guard.”
Theodora squinted, roused further by the brittle thing in her chest. Wishing that it would snap as Junior flapped his lips to the song of Potterian prejudice. A flash of anger made her sharply inhale, the sudden tightening of her collar turned that inhale into a rasp.
For a time thereafter, pain became all that she knew.
Then, a single thought occurred, and it was ‘ten’. ‘Nine’ was the second. By ‘eight’ she remembered that words had meaning, and when her mind remembered ‘seven’ she was shaking. Six echoed in the cavern of her scrambled thoughtless head while she was sinking and sinking and—
The pulsating contractions of the collar eased. She hadn’t reached five. She’d barely understood she’d been counting. Melting.
Gingerly, she began to gather her self, as buzzing tones slipped around her.
“Springhammer is filled with a licentious sort. They take and hoard things. They steal them from others. Father told me so! He used to visit there as a child, back before we built our walls.”
“At least they were efficient,” the Lanius mumbled.
Artorius gave the Lanius a look.
Junior continued on, “Saltpotter is noble and just and Havelock has allowed herself to be corrupted by Hammerian ideals. Moryet isn’t even a noble, you know! Not really. She wasn’t born here. Her and those like her are just vassal-meat, leaching off the pockets of the hardworking gentry.”
He might have said more, were it not for the Lanius impatient snarl, “Enough about Springhammer!”
Artorius’ chuckle was laced with pipe-smoke.
Junior swallowed audibly, “I apologize Madam Stranger, I just want the lot of you to be safe.”
“And we are,” Artorius said with a husky pull, “very safe, thanks to you, Heir Duluth.”
Theodora shivered from the look on Junior face and the crawling flush that darkened his skin. He swallowed a bit more, lost as Artorius blew smoke against his face. It curled and pooled around his body before it swept down to the Open floor. Light and bouncy. There was… so much more in the space than before.
Theodora felt the thickness of pipe-smoke brush against her tongue, a tainted slick sweetness she inhaled through parted lips. She swallowed the weight of it with fluttering eyes and felt it spark renewed heat behind her chest. Her head flared in sudden tones of gold and lightning, held in the embrace of a building haze. How long had she been breathing deeply? Since the urging of her collar had become light and teasing? She was dripping, her skin, tight and humming.
Junior stuttered, but his words were warped, “Y-you are quite welcome! Now you know why you shouldn’t listen to Moryet. Havelock couldn’t have possibly been injured, that was just a cover for her ill-begotten behavior.”
Artorius responded to Junior with a simple ‘she is’, but to Theodora that voice had come through a funnel. Small and strangely metal. She moaned, stirred by a buzzing in her palms, momentarily distracted from whatever Artorius was supposed to be confirming.
The Lanius voice floated near Theodora’s ears, explaining something she could barely hear.
Theodora deeply inhaled again, only to forget that she hadn’t meant to. The tight space behind her chest ignited, and ticklish heat swept through her like liquid warmth. Pressure built behind her eyes, leaving room for little else but haze and gold. She flexed her fingers against the strengthening buzz within her palms and couldn’t feel them. Her hands were numb.
And tendrils of smoke were coiled around her fingers.
She exhaled with a trembling breath and more tendrils of smoke spilled out from within her. They crossed over her body, barely felt and yet wet, curious like tongues, almost tangible. They swept across her nipples and the unusual weight of it made them harden and tingle, sweetly calling to be touched. They slithered further across her twitching belly and Theodora’s vision blurred. Amongst the smoke was something writhing and ghostly, thin and taunt serpents like wires of gold.
They tightened their strange ether presence around her hands and moved them against Theodora’s will. She could do little else but watch as they traced curious patterns along the slickness of her inner thighs.
Theodora tried to hold her breath, but her hands were firm, and the smoke was heavy. An itchy prickling started under her nose and she inhaled deeply again, filling her lungs with more smoke than she’d intended. A pulse of gold flared against the pressure in her head she giggled at the pleasant hiss of warmth it left behind. The itchiness eased when she exhaled, and the wriggling snakes moved her hands to other places.
This isn’t real. It can’t be real.
But the gentle squeeze and lazy pull she gave her breasts was. She gasped from the sudden sensation of heat spiraling from the massaged weight of her chest, wishing to understand the odd duality that pulsed a feverish thrill throughout her mind. Despite the odd numbness of her hands, it felt as if she were touching someone other than herself. Excitement beat a hungry song within her belly as her attention splintered. The sense of touching hot plump flesh was both familiar and not. Yet, the sense of having her breasts kneaded with patient expertise didn’t register as being by her own hands. She was… soaring, infused with a newfound ache. To touch and be touched as her nipples cried out sweetly for more and her hands continued to hum with a greedy need. The snakes along her fingers hissed, warped and hazy.
She inhaled again and felt otherness pour, slick and oozing, along the golden lightning in her head.
Something, or someone else is inside me, stirring this pressure.
She was somehow both the assaulted and the assaulter, possessed by a second eager version of herself drowning in the pleasure of touching submissive skin.
She was so damn high.
She giggled again, then moaned at the sound, flushed and embarrassed. She was meant to be listening, but she kept forgetting why—
Theodora inhaled and tried to watch those beyond her smoke-filled tent.
Junior dabbed at his brow with a handkerchief, looking uncomfortably warm. There’d been no snakes of gold for him. No sparks of heat. No flashes of lightning.
Theodora groaned, then gasped as she stroked the swollen tips of her nipples. She couldn’t keep track of her curious hands, couldn’t stop them as they plucked and flicked and rubbed, testing and teasing her with slow exploration.
Ooh… yes. Why should she worry? Weren’t they her hands? Stolen and somehow knowing she’d ache for them?
“The Doctor told us,” Artorius said, her words much clearer than Junior’s slurred mutters, “She’ll be released this evening.”
Junior’s voice came, unfocused, unimportant. Theodora inhaled instead of paying attention as one hand swept lower, toward her drooling pussy. A twisted thrill shook her body as impressions rose within her dual mind; fear, and caution, along with longing and desire. She was at once both dominant and submissive, tormenting her breast with merciless kneading while she stroked her lower lips.
“This evening? The revel is this evening. Father won’t be pleased about that, but I’ll convince him to allow the Board to search all day if I must—”
“—unneeded,” the Lanius interrupted.
“Nonsense,” Junior said, panting just a bit—or was that Theodora? There was so much more smoke inside her than out. “Havelock will only suffer a fine instead of a flogging. It’s unfortunate to push back such an important tradition, but we would do anything for you Madam Stranger.”
Artorius gave Junior a thin-lipped smile, “I’m sure.”
A swell of pleasure curled from behind her clit and Theodora squirmed against the cushions. Her exploring hand had cupped her while she’d been so focused, squeezing the entirety of her swollen sex. The metal of her collar began to shiver, as her hand massaged her with a firm and knowing touch. Her fingers flexed and curled of their own volition, as the smoke pressed against her, alive and waiting.
She huffed with a whimper as the pleasure licked through her, pushing at her thoughts—there was no need to listen to Junior, her head was fuzzy, her body hungry. It’s not important, not more important than this.
“Have Moryet ready the horses instead, search the Wodd now and we’ll join you for your precious revel later.”
The Lanius words swept across Theodora’s mind, but when she tried to absorb them, she… forgot them.
Danger pressed against the haze and left just as quickly as her instincts raised it. Everything was becoming so slow and wet, despite the anxious twist of her hips. The snake-laced smoke would not release her. She tried and failed to stop the motions of her hands and found her mind was spiraling higher. Would she ever come down? Maybe if she… if she stopped?
Artorius exhaled smoke in an annoyed sigh, bathing Junior in its fog. Thoughtless and greedy, Theodora inhaled. Breathing in her own smoke, when Junior shivered and coughed for the exhale Artorius had gifted him.
O-oh…! She’d forgotten she wasn’t supposed to do that.
Theodora trembled as the gold flashed in her head, replacing the clutter within it with other, wetter, things. She was dizzy with arousal, head full, unable to… think. It was so hard when her mind was higher than the weight of her thoughts. Wh-what had she been thinking about?
The hand on her chest pressed and kneaded and filled her body with sweet urgency. She wanted to touch and be touched instead of thinking. The swelling ache of her body drew her back to her torment. The duality of sensation was sweet and seductive, a languid agony that ate away at her anxiety and focus. Her hips began to roll with sensual motion, encouraged by the hands still beyond her control.
Who did they belong to? Theodora wasn’t… sure.
Her eyes slipped shut and Theodora inhaled deeply.
Please, she begged, but unsure what for. She’d forgotten again.
She would have laughed if she hadn’t moaned instead, jolted by the sudden sensation of her nipple being twisted. She gasped from the shock of it and drowned in the surge of smoke that slipped within her. It was alive and no longer patiently waiting.
She writhed as her stolen hands grew bolder, feeding a growing cloud of insidious pleasure.
Her clit throbbed with agitation, needing more, contained and teased by her pulsating collar. She wanted, needed, release with painful certainty. The metal was there to remind her with each seductive squeeze. Yet, her hands were taking her time, the pipe-smoke had made her slow and so needy—
Artorius did this to her, her mind whispered sweetly, did that mean Theodora’s hands belonged to her?
Her heart beat faster at the thought, and soon that too faded beneath more cloying needs. Her hand left her chest to join the one between her legs, spreading her slick lower lips until she was exposed to the Open. If anyone were to look in her direction, no matter how out of the way and hidden, they would see her, all of her, dazed and slipping.
Bewildering excitement filled her.
It wouldn’t be so bad, a gold-tinged thought insisted, I’m safe here, with the Ashwyn women. They could watch if they… wanted.
But the other women were too busy moving, lost in their haze, panting and drooling—she was panting and drooling too.
Ohh… yes... who? Theodora kept forgetting.
Then, a finger stroked along her clit and remembering hardly mattered.
Theodora didn’t realize how badly she’d needed to be touched. Awareness had brought with it an anxious discovery. For every moment she spent holding tight to her self, a thought—no an imperative—repeated the same lulling song. One that grew louder with each breath, pulling from her depths a learned and wicked craving for pleasure. She raised her hips, as if that would increase the touch of her traitorous hands and felt her fingers slide lower through her wetness before they stroked along her weeping slit.
She panted as her core clenched in sudden urgency, spilling a sweeping desire from her twitching inner wall. The conversation (she’d forgotten) beyond her did not exist here, within the comfort of the haze ruled by serpents and gold. Her lust twisted mind pressed with undeniable urging; indulge in this body, make it ache, make it cum. No one would stop her, no one could.
She was a good girl, a good noble, spread and open and ready for a King. The metal around her clit had already given her a taste of it, pulsating in time to her racing heart. Let those who were awake worry about the damn horses and the Wodd. Her mind wanted to be empty—yes, yesss. It felt so right, so true.
“Will you give me a reward if I find your missing companion?”
Theodora made a soft helpless sound as two fingers slipped within her needy sex, stroking along tight inner folds. Her other hand rubbed along her swollen and tormented clit as the collar beat submission through her, sinking her mind into the haze that held it—yes, I need this…
I can’t stop it.
I’m so hot.
“Hello, Lord Havelock.”
Theodora jerked with a surge of clarity, only to rasp when she felt the humid weight of more smoke. Artorius stood before her, balanced and crouched on the balls of her feet. Something cold rippled through her body, a instant flash of instinctual panic that fought with orgasmic heat—
But her hands did not stop moving.
Artorius licked her lips and leaned closer, dragging on the end of her pipe. With a sharp cry, Theodora arched and the tendrils around her hands tightened abruptly. When Artorius exhaled, Theodora inhaled, and felt her lungs nearly fill to bursting.
“Ah, that’s good.” Artorius rumbled. Theodora squirmed, embarrassed and still… close.
I’m safe with the Ashwyn women, her mind purred, and I must cum.
Theodora tried to close her legs against the firm seeking strokes of her smoke-controlled hands. Artorius smirked at the effort.
“It’s alright, Lord Havelock. I don’t want to interrupt.”
Artorius gripped Theodora’s thighs and slowly pulled her legs apart. Theodora clenched but couldn’t… stop her. She was so strong, and powerful. “Lower these legs, Lord Havelock. Show me your collar.”
Theodora hissed in a manic breath, caught in the smoky heat of her betraying mind. She squirmed from the intensity of perverse excitement, wanting to show off to this dominant woman. Her legs trembled as Artorius continued to open them, until her throbbing clit was under Artorius’ scrutiny.
Theodora’s hands slowed and her body painfully spasmed. She’d been so close before Artorius arrived. Just a little more and she would have been empty.
Artorius chuckled above her and blew a cloud of smoke against her messy pussy.
“Ohh gods…” Theodora huffed as the tenebraurea collar tugged cruelly, proud to show off her clit.
“Is something the matter, Lord Havelock?” Artorius breathed smoke against her slit and Theodora swore she felt the curl of ethereal fingers.
Theodora found no words within her head, but Artorius had never expected her to answer.
“Are you going to play with her all morning?” The Lanius said.
Artorius snorted, “What are we rushing for?”
“That worthless boy wasted quite a bit of our time. Why did you promise him a reward anyway?”
Artorius ignored the Lanius grumbling in favor of stroking along the throbbing length of Theodora’s clit.
Theodora was so wound up and tight that she’d almost cum from that.
“He won’t find it, you know.”
Artorius furrowed her brows, “Find what?”
“The pelt. Azul seemed certain she knew where it was.”
Something in Artorius stilled and stiffened, filling a spot in Theodora’s mind with a suckling quiet. Theodora blinked once, then twice, and struggled not to forget Artorius was there, pulled by the haze that pulsed behind her eyes. It was only once Artorius resumed her teasing strokes that Theodora remembered she had an audience again.
“Did they kill her?” Artorius whispered, with a gaze that demanded entrance into Theodora’s head.
Though Theodora could not see the Lanius beyond Artorius’ body, she imagined her shrug, “They? No. She killed her. Lord Havelock.”
Terror spread cold fingers through Theodora’s chest, stealing her breath and squeezing her heart. She couldn’t breathe beneath Artorius’ look, not as her head rattled with confirmed facts. Azul and the beast had been one in the same, an idea she’d known but had tried to avoid. Which meant… which meant!
“No,” Theodora croaked, torn by her need and grotesque horror. “No, no, no!”
If Azul and the beast were one in the same, it was true then that she’d murdered something. Someone, that was not animal nor man, but greater than both with sentient thought. The collar sought to contain the mania that knock knock knocked at the back of her skull, but even the sweet agony that strummed through her nerves did little to calm her mind’s wild racing.
The haze churned like thunder, the pressure increased, her hips bucked—seeking both oblivion and escape.
But Artorius dragged on her pipe with her plump cherry lips then exhaled the low invasive cloud right on Theodora’s face—
And Theodora inhaled and softened, still whimpering.
“Did you assess her?”
Artorius nodded with a crooked smile, though her gaze still glowed with an inner intensity. “Alright then.”
Artorius slipped further into the makeshift canopy, closing the open flap with her shoulder as she did. The gentle ambience of the working women, and even the Lanius’ grumbling was silenced abruptly. It was… tight in the pseudo-darkness, even with Artorius’ body nestled between Theodora’s legs. She took up so much space, lighting both their sweat covered bodies by the flare of her pipe and as Artorius’ gaze trailed down across Theodora’s goose bumped flesh, she felt ignited.
With a soft sound of curiosity, Artorius shifted until the smoothness her mons rested against Theodora’s tender clit. Artorius’ body practically burned where it touched her own, and Theodora’s mewl was loud in the intimacy of their space.
Artorius laughed, melodious and hypnotic, before she began to roll her hips. A sticky sort of pleasure pulsed through Theodora’s clit as Artorius nudged and rolled and rocked them together. Each sensual rub soothed the tightness of Theodora’s chest, coaxing wet heat to return to her belly. The erotic vision of Artorius’ dance aroused some struggling part of her mind. Just seeing Artorius against her was too much, something heady within her was rising.
“Hm, I see…” Artorius drawled, the marking on her neck luminescent and eerie. “I had a feeling that it was you, Lord Havelock. Your little Board nearly confirmed as much. You took to the Wodds and came back with something. Something you skinned and hid, didn’t you?”
Theodora gasped as Artorius bucked once against her body, pressing against Theodora’s clit with her own.
“Don’t worry about answering, I can assume.” Artorius pressed harder and slowed her rocking.
The firm, unrelenting grinding was splinting her mind, pushing her rapidly back toward surrender. She’d been so close before, so obedient to the haze and her collar. Even now, her body sung; she must cum.
Theodora’s hips were under Artorius’ control, she couldn’t stop them. Did she even want to?
With hooked fingers Artorius scratched Theodora’s belly and Theodora moaned into the darkness. Her skin prickled with the taste of yearning, and Theodora whined at the strength of how badly she wanted Artorius to scratch her belly again. With a tilted head, Artorius made a sound of wonder.
“You’re already bound to the pelt, I’m a bit surprised.” Artorius flicked a ridged tongue against Theodora’s nipple, sending a spike of lightning hot sensation directly into the slosh that was becoming her melting mind. She keened as Artorius did the same to the other breast, until her chest was buzzing with a desire for more.
The fact that Artorius denied her left Theodora feeling small and weak.
“Then again, you are a Havelock. Hunting is what your bloodline was good for. Hunting is what you will be good for.”
Artorius’ motions quickened slowly, carving the taste of domination into Theodora’s exhausted body. By the time Artorius was steady and bucking, Theodora realized her body was tense and preparing. The metal around her clit pulsed in time to the rocking, squeezing in a warning familiar pattern.
Just like before.
Artorius panted in between soft laughter, their tented canopy filled with the presence of her twisted smoke, and scent of Theodora’s surrender. “I’m going to milk you of everything, Havelock. I’m taking your bloodline along with your thoughts.
And I’ll bind all that up in a present to my King.”
Theodora moaned, wild and driven, seeking the absolution that relief would bring—
Before it stopped.
Theodora’s pussy clenched with agony, the collar continued its punishing throb and her clit danced beneath its motion. Despair made a powerful cocktail with a feral frustration that knotted her belly painfully. She cried out at the sudden lack of stimulus, feeling the addictive edge of thoughtlessness teeter before her. She scarcely noticed when her hips were lifted and she was suddenly turned over.
Then, something clicked in the darkness, the sound of a chain as it sat heavy around her neck, followed by the smooth tick tock of oiled gears and moving hands. Though it took some time for Theodora’s mind to make it out, she saw Artorius hover above her, her two-pupiled gaze reflected on the face of a squirming tenebraurea built clock.
Her confusion was secondary to the thump of her arousal, oh gods how it made her head spin…
“Are you there, Havelock?” Artorius whispered. Theodora only answered with a groan as she felt Artorius pull her back by the thighs, until her hips met the other’s chest. “I need you to hold onto that clockwork for me. It’s one of the originals, directly from Ashwyn.”
“What…” Theodora croaked… grappled onto her belly, arched and wet, like a dog preparing for a rut. Artorius’ legs wrapped across Theodora’s back, and planted against the back of her head. If Theodora tried to pull herself up, those feet would push her back down, forcing her to keep her head low, and her arse presented to Artorius’ waiting mouth.
The pipe was gone.
Hot breath blew across Theodora’s drooling pussy. She squeaked from the sensation, too hot and needy to be embarrassed by her dripping.
The way Artorius said her name made her—nngh…—feel instantly devolved. She was no longer Lord or an owner of vassals. No longer a proud arrogant member of the Board. She was just a softly uttered name, a bloodline, waiting and wanting, for a King to take her.
The collar pulsed its approval and theodora quivered.
theodora felt hands spread her arse cheeks apart and moaned at the words Artorius whispered against her skin, “Who am I?”
Something pulsed within her head and golden snakes coiled about her wrists, “T-the Dominae.”
A hand lightly stroked along the flushed skin of her bottom, “Good girl.”
theodora smiled, slow and airy.
“I am a Dominae of Ashwyn, and I belong to Ashwyn’s King. I am a slave to my King, my Mistress, but sometimes,” Artorius (the Dominae) husked against her throbbing clit, “those who obey my King are slaves to me.”
theodora panted as her hips bucked against her will.
“Who are you?”
theodora trembled, “i am… um…”
Though Artorius no longer held her pipe between her lips, theodora still felt the urge to inhale. There was no reason not too, the smoke still lingered, heavy and humid within the tented canopy.
“Oh, have you forgotten?”
Fingers spread theodora’s lower lips apart and theodora forgot quite a bit more. She blinked, “i am theodora. Um, a havelock.”
“You sound a bit empty. Airheaded? Drugged. High.”
theodora moaned and bounced her hips to the sound of Artorius’ laughter.
“No… I know who you are. That was mean of me. Tell me, theodora. What are you?”
The words came unbidden, she knew them with every part of her being, had been trained to accept them since her birth—
“i am a… a lord.”
“i have no King.”
“i,” theodora gasped, as fresh heat blossomed behind her aching sex, grasping her womb and making everything pulse, “i need a King.’
S-she had a Lord Duke, but he was not her King. He wasn’t anyone’s King. He had barely been their Duke.
“That’s not true.”
“You have a collar, don’t you, theodora? Who collared you?”
“O-oh! Um…” theodora thought of the Lanius, before Artorius… no, the Dominae’s mantra rocked through her mind. She bit her bottom lip to swallow her moan, “...you.”
The King’s slaves were the Dominae’s slaves.
Then, the Lanius was… sometimes a—
Ever so lightly, painfully lightly, lips pressed against her angry clit and theodora’s toes curled with delight. She’d gotten it right!
“A collar means you’re owned, doesn’t it?”
theodora struggled for a brief moment.
“Basil wears a collar.”
Yes! “Basil… wears a collar.”
“Who owns Basil?”
theodora hissed, “...me.”
The Dominae’s lips brushed again and again across theodora’s clit, shocking her body with poisonous pleasure. “Good girl.
And you wear a collar. A collar I put there. Who owns you, theodora?”
Something squirmed through her belly, hot and eager, “You.”
“And who owns me, little theodora?”
“The King of Ashwyn.”
Pleasure twisted through her pussy, a light spasm of understanding, that ebbed and flowed like a licking tide. So good.
“What are you, theodora?”
“i am a lord,” a squirming hot tongue flicked her clit, each wicked ridge nudging against the swollen flesh. “i have been collared by a King.”
She forgot to say anything more when the Dominae’s lips wrapped around her clit, lashing it with her abnormal thick tongue. The inside of her mouth was impossibly hot, tempting the flames of theodora’s arousal higher than she thought possible. When the Dominae released her tormented clit, she pushed her tongue lower and against theodora’s slit.
She entered her, caressing her deepest parts with each twitching ridge of her impossibly long tongue, filling her body in a way it had never been filled before. theodora rutted mindlessly, lost yet controlled in the tight unrelenting grip of the woman who held her. This time she could not escape, this time she would be emptied, without even smoke left to fill her.
Her will—already so weak and open—withered before the assaulting pleasure that built to agonizing heights. The Dominae’s tongue was both soft and hard. Flexible, unrelenting, and inhuman. It tugged at her greedy inner walls with flexing knolls, gripping and massaging while tearing her mind apart. With each caress and pump it stole something from her. Something important. Something, something…
She forgot what it was supposed to be.
She forgot, and trembled, and clenched, and came.
And the Dominae did not stop.
Words failed theodora as she was swept away quickly, as she found her clit suckled, her pussy fucked, and her brain milked of everything it was meant to retain. Without her traditions, and mannerisms, and Duluth spun morals she was… vulnerable, submissive, and without control. If she kept forgetting those things, what would she be filled with instead?
The Dominae sought to fill her with pleasure, she demanded it in the lashing thrust of her phallic tongue and the way she forced theodora’s body to sway, a slave to the mouth that commanded her to cum—which she did. Again.
The Dominae didn’t stop.
And theodora forgot why she might have needed her to.
* * *
The Dominae left the flap partly up to theodora’s makeshift canopy. Gentle sounds swept over her from beyond it while her body tingled pleasantly, submerged in a blanket of limb weakening warmth and quivering tremors that rocked even her womb, but why for she couldn’t remember…
Whatever she’d forgotten, it didn’t matter.
She rolled her head against a nearby cushion and smelled the tempting scent of sweat and smoke. theodora shivered, her sex clenched, and a small exquisite wave of pleasure swelled between her legs. She rolled her hips and moaned into the quiet of her tent.
It passed and her body settled, as she breathed to the beat of the ticking weight against her chest. She fingered the chain out of a strange desire but didn’t dare touch the face of the clock. It wasn’t for her, this gift.
She closed her eyes to the ambiance of voices.
“What are you going to do about your suitor?”
In the lull of sound, theodora opened her eyes and gazed at the humanoid silhouette on the wall of her tent.
A four-armed shadow shrugged, reacting to the Dominae’s bewildered voice.
“Junior?” The Lanius shaped shadow tapped a foot on the ground, “Isn’t he your suitor? He’s practically courting you at this point and you did promise to reward him when he found the pelt.”
“Lanius,” The Dominae said in a tone that had theodora’s heart racing.
The collar gave theodora a squeeze and lassitude set in. Her eyes fluttered closed, then opened sluggishly.
“Am I wrong?”
The Dominae’s feet came into view of the flap, each toe painted a shadow of tenebraurea black. The Lanius’ shadow shivered.
“Don’t be like that. I didn’t mean… do not look at me like that. I’m just trying to help you. You do know that boy has no value, right? While you are a talented Dominae, not even you could convince Her of that.”
theodora held her breath as the Dominae curled her toes, and for a tense moment there was nothing but silence.
Then the Dominae spoke in a gentle voice, one that tugged at even theodora’s fatigued body, “Atmosk.”
The Lanius shadow stiffened and swayed. It whispered, “A-artie?”
“Atmosk,” Artorius continued, words sibilant and rolling in their purr, “come to me.”
The Lanius shadow shook her head and if theodora could think she would have thought the other woman afraid.
She should be.
Artorius made a motion with her hand, a slight flick of wrist up and down, before she pointed at a spot before her feet, “To me, atmosk.”
theodora moaned within the tent, but it was soft beneath the Lanius louder cry of pleasure.
Then the Lanius (or was it atmosk?) was in front of the tent before the Dominae’s spreading feet. The Lanius’ knees buckled as she fell onto them. Her face peacefully empty, her sneer and steely gaze gone. It was bovine eyes that looked at the Dominae with yearning, while her pale skin flushed and interesting wine red.
“That’s a good girl, atmosk. You still remember how to obey so prettily. Stick out that tongue for me, yes that’s it. Can’t have you thinking you can use it to be so cheeky with me, little brat. Can’t have you thinking at all.”
theodora wiggled against her cushions and sighed, comforted by the sounds of a ticking clock and the Lanius slurping tongue.