The world was on fire in hues of orange and blue, dancing to the dissonance of a harsh and foreign hum. Lantern lights strung from crooked poles flickered and reflected off pearl colored stone stained red, still wet. While the distance rang with the echo of clanging metalwork, crumbling structures shook from the weight of terror, filled with the bodies of the dead and un.
Theodora woke, nude and uncollared, in a place that was not Saltpotter and watched as the smoke-smeared sky crumpled like displaced tapestry. From the void of stars emerged a mass of indescribable size and weight. It hung, swollen and low, like a moon and suckled at the night skies light. The wail of its emergence morphed into a moan strong enough to rattle her bones. The siren sound split into two different tones, perverse in its harmony as it knocked against her skin. Its song felt physical, a lingering touch, that burrowed between her ears. Unforgettable.
As tentacles slipped from the writhing mass, their color a familiar tenebraurea black, it sprouted hundreds of twin-pupiled eyes, all of them glowing. It was somehow both grotesque and uncomfortably beautiful.
Theodora looked away after that, disturbed by the sound of laughter amongst the echo of agonies.
Broken marble shifted under her feet, stirred by the sound of a liquid voice—honey sweet with a gentle husk. Though the horror swam through the sky above her, crying out like a babe for attention, it was no more interesting than the ruined space she occupied, an atrium filled with tattered banners, sundered furniture, and discarded life.
The woman that had called her name, aglow beneath the swimming horror’s eye-made light, was far more interesting.
Further into the atrium space the women sat on a throne of bone white. Something about her was otherworldly, a strange humming presence that drew Theodora’s gaze. Her skin was flushed ever-so-slightly, tinged pink beneath her deep umber tones.
“E-excuse me?” Theodora wheezed, throat tight.
The woman shifted slightly upon her throne and tossed flowing curls of scarlet hair under an obsidian crown over her shoulder. As she crossed one plump thigh over the other a sensation assaulted Theodora’s senses, a taste of warm flesh against her tongue. As yearning rolled heavy through Theodora’s stomach, the woman’s red-painted lips twitched.
When she spoke again, Theodora listened, helplessly charmed beneath her twin-pupiled stare. “You’ve taken something from me.”
A strange pang sent Theodora’s stomach in knots as the woman stood from the throne with unusual grace. She was tall, even more so than Azul, dressed in a shiny fabric that hugged her body. Strategically style-cut holes in the tight fabric only accentuated her voluptuous curves, inviting Theodora to leer. She swallowed nervously and without a single thought of resistance she found herself drawn to the sight of plump exposed flesh.
The woman sighed in a move that brought attention to her chest, where the fabric failed to cover her ample cleavage. The exposed skin was marked by a line of reflective red that was coiled around each breast in the designs of a spiral. What Theodora could see beyond her clothing pulsed with red light. Rhythmic, like the beat of a heart. The longer Theodora stared—which she found so easy and tempting to do—the more Theodora thought her own heartbeat matched it, thumping with weight behind her ribs.
Theodora sucked in a shaky breath as her heart lurched with warmth. She was feeling so hot, bothered by the vision of the stranger’s body. Her nipples tightened, awakened by promise as desire stirred up a strange, disconnected hunger. It was as if something else ached inside her, an echo that pulsed with perverted energy.
The woman tilted her head. “Come here.”
Theodora’s belly fluttered with anticipation as she approached the throne with an empty mind.
“I’m sorry,” Theodora blurted, despite not knowing why she felt the need to do so.
The woman on the dais watched her behind lidded eyes, “You’ll replace what you took. It is easy enough. I’ve replaced many things ruined by your kind.”
Theodora panted softly, heated by the woman’s attention, unsure if she should try to understand why. “My kind?”
“The Unknowing or Unseeing. The stupid and forgetful.”
Theodora waved a hand across her flushed face and bit her bottom lip, squirming in place as something slick oozed from between her slit. Why was she so… eager? “Wh-where am I?”
“Did you forget that too,” the woman asked. “It’s a good thing I’ve remembered for us.”
She made a flippant motion toward the floor beneath Theodora’s feet. The cracked and dust caked marble there had once formed a picture. If Theodora squinted, she swore she could see the beginnings of a familiar image.
Despite the image’s ruined appearance, the rolling hills and magnificent structure was mostly intact. Theodora felt a niggling sensation of horror as she took in more of the destruction about her. She was somewhere in Elysium during the fall she’d denied, blanketed beneath the cover of fire-smoke and surrounded by the sounds of screams and laughter. How—
“Did your Pater tell you about the Longwar?”
She was talking and Theodora listened, thoughts of terror smothered by a deep throb of desire. Theodora swayed as she nodded, and the stranger bobbed her head in acknowledgement.
“You are all so young, inexperienced, and stupid.” The woman smiled and Theodora’s heart was aflutter. The embarrassed hum in her body only sharpened her need. “That’s why your kind needs someone to take care of them. Your natural instinct is to ruin when you don’t obey your King.”
Theodora’s knees buckled, weakened by forbidden words the Dominae had told her mattered.
“The Unknowing thought they won their freedom when they slaughtered their kings. A foolish idea. Do you know what you really won?”
Despite the sounds of war that rang around Theodora, there was a soft intimacy within the atrium. The soft cadence at which the woman spoke was not lost upon her. The gentle tones only softened Theodora further.
“You won the truth of falsebloods and the desecration of your kingdoms. You lost the magic in language, and the unification of land. Do you feel unsatisfied, Theodora Havelock?”
Pain drove a sharp sensation through Theodora’s lungs, inescapable as it came upon her in a wave. Slowly, it ebbed, leaving behind an ash like taste and a tingling sense of loss within her mind. Her Pater had passionately believed in being driven, but Theodora had spent so much of her time mindlessly adhering to Saltpotter’s expectations. How was she to understand the taste of being truly satisfied?
Yet, she did crave the cotton haze of her heat-laced memories and the surrender that came with being owned and mindless. The Dominae had taught her body lessons not easily forgotten. Even remembering made her mind ache with longing.
Thoughtlessly, Theodora gently cupped herself, feeling for the metal collar that wasn’t there to contain her clit. She felt naked without it, her clit no longer tamed. So engorged, wet, plump, and already begging.
She missed the symbol of her ownership, especially here.
“The Unknowing have disregarded what they need as they chase what they want. But I am olde and I have not forgotten. Already, my magic has blessed so many. I was the one that brought back the gunworks the falsebloods used to kill their kings.” The woman paused, then if only for a moment to idly tap the tick-tocking clockwork that hung on the side of her crown, “And do you know what the west did with them? They went to war! How silly.”
Theodora blinked rapidly before she blurted out, “There is a war in Grindwall started by the witch-king.”
The Lord Duke was wrong where Alphonse had been right. How—
—the woman laughed, full bellied and melodious, “I did not start the war in Grindwall, but I will end it as its One True King.”
Slowly, the woman leaned forward with a smile that showed off wickedly sharp teeth. “They’ll sing the songs of Ryerook, this era’s creator and King of Ashwyn. I will open the gates to the things that were lost, reviving the dead humanity’s ignorance destroyed. I am Sovereign Mother and you, Theodora Havelock, have killed one of my children.”
Theodora’s breath stuttered within in her lungs as every muscle grew tense. Though her body still pulsed to the beat of the red spirals her mind repeated the horror of the woman’s words. Mother was not a word Theodora recognized and yet every part of her being felt inexperienced before it. “It… was a beast—”
Theodora clenched her thighs with a harsh breath, ashamed yet aroused by the knowing tone of the King. Caught in her lie, Theodora squirmed. That beast had been important—a person of some sort, that had belonged to Her. The king, her King.
Theodora moaned, overwhelmed by a truth that already dwelled deep within her mind, despite the absence of her clit-collar.
The King placed a hand upon Theodora’s head. Involuntarily, Theodora’s hips gave a quick little thrust as something electric slithered up her spine. Her sex gave a curious throb, inspiring slick heat to drip down her thighs. As the King swept Her long, sensuous fingers across Theodora’s skull, she couldn’t hold back her low whine. Flushed and needy, Theodora pushed up on the tips of her toes to press further against Her touch. The King’s gentle hum only enhanced the dizzying tingle that filled Theodora’s head.
“Was it just a beast?” The King repeated Herself, though She did not wait for Theodora’s answer. She wasn’t meant to answer, a notion made clear when She slid Her warm hand down to cup Theodora’s chin. She turned Theodora’s body until her back was pressed against the softness of Her chest and Theodora fell fast into the echoing sound of the spiral’s beat.
Theodora’s vision blurred as the creature above them cried out in sudden elation. Just as the King placed a hand around Theodora’s neck, something spilled into the atrium from down the hall.
Someone, rather. A young woman with a closely shaved head—wait.
As a child, Theodora would often listen to her Pater ramble on about Elysium and its Church. They were stories he’d gotten from his Pater, and so on and so forth. Whenever Theodora had visited from the academy, her Pater would point her toward an old and beaten journal, filled with colorful drawings of Elysium and its magnificence. From those drawings Theodora had learned several things:
Elysium was one of the largest freeDoms, birthed after the Longwar’s horrors. Its Lord Duke, the Archbishop of the Church, was always named Eylsia, and the Pride force wore uniforms of green and white.
So, why was Hel here, younger and dressed in the stained clothing of Elysium’s Pride, holding her neck as she dragged her body across the floor?
A man emerged from behind Hel, with a heaving chest and a milky dulled gaze. He mumbled as he approached her, holding a red tipped knife with clothing as torn and tattered as hers. Identical in color scheme and structure.
Theodora might helped her, had the King not kept her wrapped within Her arms.
You can’t interfere or change the past…
And the past had to be where Theodora was. Hel had never been so small or weak as she laid on the atrium floor.
The man hobbled closer with a smile, “The witch-king will reward me for my dedication.”
Hel only coughed from her position on the floor.
“She spoke to me, I heard her! She told Elysium was weak. That we need a new world order. Our Lord Duke can’t even keep track of her own daughter, let alone run our freeDom.” He motioned wildly with perverse passioned. “Maybe, the witch-king will let me lead!”
Hel’s sneered and spat up blood on his shoes.
With a grunt the man threw his knife to the side before he plopped heavily onto Hel’s chest. She gurgled as he yanked at the black chain around her neck, agitating the blood oozing wound there. Each motion jerked at Hel’s body, but the chain refused to budge despite his insistence.
Still, he drooled above her, more animal than human, uncaring of Hel’s discomfort. “Yeah, yeah… I’ll take this chain too. You should have obeyed your commander when you had the chance. I hope you don’t regret protecting Elysia—”
His words faded off in a startled squeak. From a half-shattered window, a beast lunged. Its size and mass were a familiar, and Theodora’s brain burned with a flood of memory. She blinked away the vision of her broken body in the Wodd to instead the beast approached the dumbfounded man.
Theodora wondered if that was how she’d looked that day, out in the Wodd and bloodied.
With a cry that echoed the wail of the large creature above, the beast swung out a head sized paw. The meaty smack of his body at the paw’s collision is only surpassed by the crack he made as he collided heavily with a nearby wall.
In the resulting silence, the beast stood on its hindlegs, before it twisted into the shape of a topless Azul, draped in her pelt with golden beast eyes. Yet, this too was younger version, the same but also different than the one Theodora knew.
How far in the past have I traveled? How long ago was Elysium ruined?
“News travels so slowly across the sea, doesn’t it?” The King cooed, warm and sweet against Theodora’s ear. “Especially when it’s suppressed and abused.”
“Vox,” Azul spoke to the shadows, “the throne room is empty.”
The tossed aside man twitched with a groan, alive despite his bleeding skull. As he flopped over the sound of a curtain fluttered from the room behind the King’s bone-white throne. A woman with silver-streaked hair and bronze skin emerged from beyond it, dressed in a similar fashion to Azul. Something in Theodora recognized her and her belly clenched with unsettling emotion.
She moved toward Azul with a patient gait, unhurried despite the sounds of war humming in the walls. As she drew closer, Theodora caught sight of Venandi tipped ears. Yet, it was her scent that made Theodora’s eyes flutter—the heavy musk of tree-bark and something oily and slick. Theodora swallowed thickly and groaned at the sight of the woman’s black pelt around her hips.
The sound seemed to catch the woman’s attention.
Theodora held her breath as their gaze met, but with a blink the newcomer’s attention was redirected.
She tilted her head. “What is that?”
Azul motioned to the throat-cut Hel, who watched them with a pain filled grimace. “Dunno. A Pridesquire?”
Hel coughed and her torn shirting shifted, revealing a black bell on the end of her chain.
The other woman stroked one of Azul’s exposed arms and Azul shivered and groaned with pleasure.
“Vox,” Azul whine.
The Vox ignored Azul’s plea; her attention was on Hel’s black bell. “She’s cute.” She snapped her fingers, “I remember this one! She followed Elysia’s daughter around like a lovestruck puppy.”
Hel spat up more blood in response to that.
“She’ll be dead soon.” Azul said. “Her value?”
“I have not been gifted with Her hands, unfortunately. But our Mistress has known me to be impulsive.” The Vox crouched and lowered herself over Hel’s body before she sunk her sharp teeth deep into the side of her neck. Theodora’s own neck hummed with sympathy sensation as Hel’s face twisted in a mix of agony and euphoria. When the Vox stood again it was with Hel in her arms, heavy lidded and softly moaning.
Azul made a pleased sound, a cross between a rumble and long exhale. Already, the damage to Hel’s throat was healing, leaving behind only her recognizable scar. A great wonder, that.
As the Vox turned toward the back room with Hel in her possession, Azul called out, “Syren?”
The Vox, Syren, paused, “Finish that one, then find Artorius. Activate her and find what we came for.”
Azul gave a three fingered gesture as something moved beneath her skin, “Artorius is woke and with her step-sister—”
“—then won’t she have fun, struggling not to convert Elysium’s Archbishop?”
Azul was unable to respond, the change had already taken her. The pelt she wore about her shoulders was suddenly tight around her neck—squeezing her. Her moan ended in a yowl of delight before the beast stood in her place, drooling from the maw.
The vision cracked then, folding upon itself as the memory wavered. All at once the atrium was empty again, holding just Theodora and the King who released her. Reluctantly, Theodora turned to face Her, already craving Her touch again.
Only to freeze at the sight of something other.
“Syren was not just a beast, Theodora. She was one of my children meant to replace what your kind abandoned.”
The King pressed against her and Theodora was frozen, fascinated by the movement of Her vibrant hair. Each voluminous curl now moved like sensual tendrils while the shadows at Her feet became thick and alive. They rose from the floor, tangible and breathing. Some in the shape of hissing snakes, others more like tentacles. Theodora had seen these limbs of dripping black before, had felt them within the prison of her dreams. Now, they reached for her again, cupping her body with their wet heat until she was tightly pressed against the King.
Every place that made contact with the body of her King lit something within Theodora aflame. She could feel the invasive warmth of the King’s skin through Her smooth shiny fabric, licking across her flesh in a tingling wave.
“You already feel so good just by touching my body. How much time do you think you have left with your humanity?”
The tendril arms wrapped around them coiled tighter, flexing with scales Theodora could not see. They pushed and pulled against her, coaxing her hips to roll against the King’s leg. Her sex twitched from the sweet sensation, slick as her swollen clit throbbed to a collar-learned rhythm.
I can’t… stop.
Her rut was little more than a tease, a performance for her smiling King that heated her body with humiliation. Something heavy squirmed within her chest, and Theodora moaned, lightheaded.
Rubbing away against her King’s decadent body was sort of… addicting. Like something sweet she had longed to taste, familiar and powerfully new at the same time.
Theodora whimpered and the King gently hummed, “You’re a good girl aren’t you, little one?”
theodora nodded with a groan; she was.
“You’re already so attuned to the pelt.”
The King pressed closer and theodora whined as her mouth dropped open. The weight in her chest thumped against her ribs. She could feel it breathing and flexing within her.
“You’ll make a good replacement. Her soul is already stirring and restless. You can apologize for your sins by becoming one.”
A deep irresistible throb pulsed from her center, leaving her aching and out of breath. theodora’s belly clenched with giddy heat as the rocking of her hips quickened. Whispered concepts brushed across her mind, their touch feather light and seductive. The otherness within her body was eager, forcing theodora’s heart to race with excitement.
The soul within stretched in a wave of heat that left theodora gasping for breath. It filled her mind with alien thoughts and the feeling of being too compressed within her own body. Her muscles spasmed as if controlled from within as her clit pulsed with delight against the King’s offered thigh.
The King stroked a lone finger across her face and whispered affectionately against her lips, “Yes, stretch and fill up your body for me. Just like before.”
Images danced on the edge of theodora’s mind, memories that threatened to consume her. She saw a woman writhing on a bed, her body flushed as she rocked her hips. She held her chest with one hand and her head in the other as something squirmed beneath her skin and slipped lower. It throbbed to the beat of her dancing clit, and theodora moaned at the erotic sight. But it was what was beneath her that drew theodora’s attention—
The woman was trapped in ecstasy atop a black shiny pelt.
The soul within theodora recognized this woman, though it had forgotten her name long ago. It had not been Syren but some mixture of sorts. Had it been Sy, or Ren, before it had merged into both?
The soul stretched again in a powerful ache and theodora realized it hardly mattered.
Pressure built behind theodora’s clit, flexing in time to the presence in her chest. Her body was burdened by a heavy heat that was doubled as if felt by more than just herself. She knew what her clit had been conditioned to do, why it cried out in her mind—I want to cum.
This is my body, ngh—it feels so good.
theodora wasn’t sure if that was even her thought. So much of her self was dripping onto her King’s soft thigh.
“You became mine as soon as you touched my pelt. How long can you resist the call of my Venandi?”
The tentacle-snakes’ wrapped about theodora’s body undulated and hastened her involuntary pace. Pleasure burned its taste throughout her mind, repeated in an endless loop. The soul within buzzed with a mantra of lust, worshiping the body it prepared to lewdly anoint. theodora felt the weight of it drive her pussy, as her (beautiful) King gripped the back of her head.
Yesss... the soul pulsed with provocative need; Mistress is touching me.
Her fingertips lightly scratched at theodora’s skull and bliss burst hot and white within her head. The muscles of her belly spasmed hard on the first wave of pleasure, cumming both physically and somehow from deeper within. Her thoughts scattered with each orgasmic contraction, folding in on themselves just as her clit-collar had taught her.
Aah… oh! The soul within flexed theodora’s muscles again and she felt the orgasm loop with fresh vigor. With each throb and pulse of the weight within her, her hot blinding climax restarted again. She was bursting with pleasure and something more while her King-Mistress smiled and continued to pet her.
“Cum for me again, little one. Show me how attuned you are with that body.”
The soul trembled in ecstasy and Theodora drowned it.