It was the quiet that told Claire they were getting close.
The first two nights in the forest had been filled with the usual springtime music, scattered birdcalls mingling with the chitter-chatter of insects and the rustling of leaves. But on the third night, a silence settled in. It was an unnatural stillness, as though the trees themselves were holding their breaths; as though even the wind was scared to tread here, deep in the woods where Claire’s wicked quarry lay.
It was a warm night. But Claire had decided to light a fire anyway. The crackling wood helped steady the young mage’s nerves, keeping that awful quiet at bay.
Unfortunately, the effect didn’t seem to reach her companion, Alyx, who was beginning yet another pacing lap around the camp. “You’re sure this is a good idea, right?” she asked for the umpteenth time.
Claire looked up from her spell book, annoyed. Attuning her staff to the proper enchantments was hard enough, even without the constant interruptions. “We’ll be fine,” she replied. “According to the reports, the Wystral is still rather young. At our current levels, we should be more than a match for it.”
Alyx nodded, even as she restlessly re-tied her wild, auburn hair. “I know, I know, it’s just…” her eyes scanned the surrounding forest. “We’ve never hunted anything like this before.”
“That’s exactly the point,” Claire reminded her. “This is the fastest way we’ll rank up and graduate out of this godforsaken region. You seemed fairly excited by the prospect yesterday.”
Again Alyx nodded, but still didn’t seem convinced.
Claire had to admit, it was unsettling to see the fighter of their party act this way. Even among other Apostles of her class, Alyx was an imposing figure: tall, broad-shouldered, with arms and legs sculpted from well-toned muscle. Her face was cuter and rounder than the average fighter—something Claire often teased her about—but she was still able to intimidate lesser warriors with nothing more than a glance. Adding to this awe-inspiring impression was her choice of garb, which forwent the usual layers of armor in favor of simple chest and shoulder plates strapped over her elegant Apostle robe. This was in part due her prizing speed over durability. But it was also evidence of Alyx’s faith in her mage, a sign that she believed Claire’s wards and blessings to be more dependable than steel.
So for Alyx to be acting this way, practically whimpering in fear…it didn’t just shake Claire’s faith in the fighter, but in herself as well. At least Valerie, their ranger, was still out scouting ahead—if she saw Alyx like this, the whole party would be going into battle demoralized. A bad idea, under normal circumstances.
And possibly fatal against this particular foe.
The creature they were hunting was a Wystral, a demonic parasite that humanity had nearly managed to hunt to extinction. Though the creatures weren’t exceptionally hard to kill, they specialized in enchantments of the mind, and, without the proper precautions, even the strongest of warriors were liable to fall under their sway. Left unchecked, it was a said a lone Wystral could become powerful enough to enslave entire cities to its purpose, though as far as Claire could tell, there was no historical record of such an occurrence.
In any case, the newly discovered Wystral was the perfect target for her and her companions. As Apostles of Gloria, it was their duty to spread the Goddess’ praises and teachings through great deeds, slaying monsters and saving citizens in Her name. But as relative newcomers to the group, Claire, Alyx, and Valerie had spent their first year relegated to low-danger areas, fulfilling mundane quests, fighting minor beasts, and receiving the miniscule rewards that followed.
By the spring of year two, Claire had been at her wits end. If she had wanted dull tasks with little gratitude, she would’ve remained at her family’s inn, dodging the leering eyes of men and the gossip of their wives, who never missed a chance to assure Claire that her golden hair, large breasts, and “baby-making hips” were destined for a long, fruitful life of motherhood. She could think of nothing more mortifying. Claire didn’t want the domestic life her parents lead: she wanted adventures and glory, just like the brave men and women she had spent her whole childhood reading about.
So far, the adventuring life had been a disappointment. But killing the Wystral could change that. It would solidify the party’s bona fides as warriors of justice, and likely earn them enough experience points to shift their patrol routes to greener (and more exciting) pastures.
First, however, Claire had to do something about party morale.
“Here,” she offered her hand to Alyx. “Show me your logbook.”
Alyx sighed, and withdrew a small brown book from her robes before passing it to Claire. Every Apostle had one such tome, an enchanted log of their journeys, battles, and stats. It was an invaluable tool, both for keeping team members informed and organized. Every logbook contained a breakdown of its owner’s capabilities, quantified by individual characteristics as well as an overall level. Using the logbook, Apostles could watch in real time as their rank and competence grew, receiving experience points every time they completed a mission or training course.
Claire never forgot the feeling of accomplishment that came when she first leveled up. It was a sort of gratification and validation she had never felt before, and one that she often drew upon in times of doubt.
“Look,” Claire pointed to the first page of Alyx’s logbook. “What do you see?”
“My profile,” the fighter answered, her adorable lips curving into a sullen pout.
“It’s not just your profile, Allie,” Claire pressed. “It’s the profile of a Level 28 fighter. Do you remember when we first started out together? You thought you would never reach past level 20, much less be on the cusp of 30!”
Alyx looked away. “Yeah, so?”
“So, you’ve already achieved what you once thought was impossible,” Claire answered. “Remember how much work it took? How we felt like we were grinding ourselves into the dirt with the constant training drills and pest hunts? Compared to that, this Wystral will be nothing.”
Alyx nodded, but still her eyes refused to meet Claire’s.
The mage paused. “Unless there’s something you haven’t told me.”
That was it. Alyx looked at Claire, then sighed. “Promise you won’t tell Val?”
Claire hesitated. As party leader, it was her duty to treat each of the members equally. But as Alyx’s friend, it was difficult not to honor her request, especially when she seemed so troubled.
“Go ahead,” the mage prompted.
The fighter fidgeted. “I…I heard Val talking in her sleep last night.”
Claire arched an eyebrow. “Did she…say anything in particular to worry you?”
“I…couldn’t really hear her clearly,” Alyx confessed. “But…I think I could make out a ‘yes’ here or there and, well…she sounded like she was, um, really enjoying herself, if you get what I’m saying.”
“You think she was dreaming about the Wystral,” Claire deduced.
The fighter nodded.
The mage sighed, tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. “That’s not so bad,” she assured her companion. “People often dream of the Wystral when it’s near. But that doesn’t mean they’re already being controlled. It just means the demon sensed her presence, and is probing her defenses.”
“Isn’t that…bad?” Alyx asked. “I mean, it definitely knows we’re coming now, right?”
“Yes,” Claire admitted “But that’s too be expected. We’d have to be scores of levels higher to sneak up on a creature with this much psychic potency. All that matters is that you trust Valerie’s fortitude. And you do trust her, right?”
“Y-yeah…” Alyx answered dubiously.
Claire frowned. This was worse than she though. “Is there something else?”
“Well…” Alyx glanced around the camp and lowered her voice. “Earlier today, remember when we were resting by the river? Val went out to search for firewood, and then later I left to find her?”
“Yes…” Claire nodded slowly. “And as I recall, you both returned without incident.”
Alyx bit her lip. “That wasn’t…really what happened. When I found her, she wasn’t looking for firewood. She was, um, kneeling in a clearing and…touching herself…you know…down there and, well…all over and…she was making the kinds of noises that…” the fighter shook her head. “Gah! You get what I’m saying, right?”
Claire did. All too well. “What did you do?” she asked.
“I-I made some noise in the bushes, and that seemed to snap her out of it. Then I showed up like I had just gotten there, and pretended I hadn’t seen anything.”
“I see.” Claire frowned. “That is a bit concerning but there are dozens of possible explanations. Valerie has always been rather…odd, you know.”
Unlike the other two party members, Valerie had grown up in the wild lands of the south, roaming the fields and forests with a nomadic tribe known as the Elkrest. Their ways were known to be rather…shocking to northerners like Alyx and Claire. But as the mage understood it, many of the tribe’s customs were grounded in an absolute worship of personal freedom, something she related to in spirit, if not always in practice.
Still, Valerie’s habits did sometimes rub her teammates the wrong way. To make matters worse, the lithe scout was a solitary and brooding creature, often resistant to Claire’s attempts at bonding. It was possible this latest encounter was just another case of culture clash. Or…
Alyx exhaled a shaking breath. “I just can’t help worrying,” she said, unintentionally giving voice to Claire’s rising dread. “What if the Wystral is already in her head?”
“I-impossible.” Claire objected. “No offense, Alyx, but her intelligence score is almost as high as mine. She should be able to resist that kind of remote manipulation. In fact, if the Wystral were capable of seizing anyone from afar, it would be you.”
Alyx flinched as though she had been struck. “M-maybe it chose Val because it thinks she’s the one we’d least expect. Maybe it’s planning to wear her down now, so it can take control when the fighting starts and…”
“Don’t say that,” Claire cut her off. “You can’t give into fear, alright? You have to stay strong, or this battle is already lost.”
Alyx swallowed. “I…I just think maybe it’d be best if we…if we let someone else handle this one.”
“Why would we do that?” asked a cold voice at the edge of camp.
Alyx and Claire turned just as Valerie materialized from the shadows into the flickering firelight. The ranger looked like she always did: her simple tunic wrapped tight around her thin frame and tiny bust, the tights on her long legs somehow unmarked by dirt or grass, despite all the time she spent dashing through the underbrush. Her pale blue eyes were as impassive and unreadable as ever, framed by shocks of jet black hair. If not for Alyx’s story, Claire never would’ve suspected anything was amiss.
“Alyx was just…communicating some concerns about our battle strategy,” Claire answered, shooting the fighter a warning look. If Valerie knew that Alyx had been spying on her, it would strain their already thin party cohesion. Or worse, force them to give up the mission entirely.
Valerie’s eyes narrowed. “What’s the problem?”
“Just a matter of formation,” Claire explained. “But I think I have a solution. Instead of having you split off and advance around the flank, why don’t we stay together, and you can support us with arrows and potions from the back. That should address your concerns, right Alyx?”
Alyx hesitated, then seemed to realize it was hopeless to argue. “I…I guess,” she answered, her eyes downcast.
“Fine, whatever.” Valerie dismissed the discussion with a flick of her wrist. “I found the Wystral’s cave just up ahead. So let’s gear up and finish this, yeah?”
“Indeed,” Claire said, standing. “Everyone grab your weapons. I’ll cast a ward to make sure the rest of our belongings remain undisturbed. Just like always, right Alyx?”
Alyx met Claire’s gaze. Then took a deep breath. “Right,” the fighter said, some of the old fire returning to her eyes as she grabbed her sword. “Just like always.”
Claire smiled, and double-checked her own equipment. The gems in her staff glowed brightly to her touch, indicating they were loaded with spells, ready to be unleashed. The wards woven into her robe were powered up, ditto the crystal on her necklace. Everything was as it should be: there was nothing to be worried about.
Unless…did she just catch Valerie glaring at Alyx’s back?
No…it was probably just her imagination.
Pushing that fear aside and refocusing on their task, Claire indicated Valerie lead the way deeper into the forest. The party didn’t have to travel long before reaching a break in the trees, beyond which the entrance to a cavern lay. Even without seeing their target, Claire could sense its psychic pressure emanating from the yawning darkness. The Wystral was near. And it was coming closer.
Claire made sure to conceal herself in the foliage, and motioned for her companions to do the same. Valerie crouched low, notching an arrow onto her bow. Alyx silently drew her blade. Her eyes widened.
The hairs on Claire’s neck stood on end. She followed the fighter’s gaze. And then she saw it.
As the legends said, the Wystral kept its true form cloaked behind a coat of swirling darkness. But that didn’t mean it was completely featureless. Its silhouette was humanoid in shape, yet somehow serpentine. Its body swayed as it glided out of the cave entrance, tendrils of shadow curling where its limbs ought to be. Claire caught glimpses of fangs glistening in the moonlight. The most striking feature, however, were its eyes.
At first, they appeared to be nothing more than narrow red slits against a mass of black. But as she stared, those slashes of crimson seemed to magnify. They grew brighter and larger, pulling her gaze into them, until she swore she could see a bounty of beautiful, swirling colors just out of reach…beckoning her deeper…and deeper…and…
“What the hell are you doing?!” Valerie exclaimed, yanking Claire down by the hood of her robe.
“Huh?” the mage blinked, thoroughly disoriented. She shook her head, trying to dispel the spots of color lingering in her vision. Gradually, awareness of her surroundings returned. As did the realization of how careless she had been.
“You almost gave us away,” the ranger hissed. “What were you thinking, standing up like that?”
“I-I’m sorry,” Claire whispered. “I…accidentally looked into its eyes.”
“After lecturing us not to? Are you serious?”
“I said I was—” Claire froze, a realization striking her. “Where’s Alyx?”
Valerie paled, and looked over her shoulder. Sure enough, the fighter had disappeared, her sword discarded on the ground where she once stood.
“Shit,” Valerie breathed. “It got her.”
“Alyx!” Claire called, leaping up and sprinted into the open.
It was as she feared. Her friend and comrade, a towering warrior of strength and courage, was staggering towards the Wystral with long, languid steps. Her arms hung limp at her sides, her mouth agape and her gaze wide and vacant. It was as though all the fight and fear had been drained from her, replaced by simpleminded fascination.
“Fight back Alyx!” Claire shouted, dashing to intercept her friend. “You’re can’t give in! You have to resist!”
“Can’t…resist…” the fighter intoned. “Must…follow…”
It was no use. Words wouldn’t reach her. If only Claire could get close enough to tackle her, then maybe—
A tendril whipped through the air towards the mage, too fast to avoid. It wrapped around her leg, tripping her to the ground. She gasped, then shrieked as she felt herself pulled towards the demon, away from the staff she had dropped. For a moment, it seemed that her fate was sealed.
Until an arrow flew from the woods, piercing the dark tentacle and forcing it to release her.
“Keep your distance!” Valerie called above the demon’s cry. “You don’t have the strength to overpower it!”
“I know!” Claire growled, scrambling to her feet. She recovered her staff and pivoted, ready to face the enemy anew. But she had wasted too much time: Alyx was already drifting into the demon’s grasp, its swirling limbs wrapping around her arms and neck, snaking into her robes and eliciting a shivering gasp from her lips.
The mage had to act fast. Calling upon her magic, she swept her staff across the ground. A line of fire shot from its tip, snaking through the grass like a fuse, homing in on the Wystral before striking and igniting in a narrow gout of flame. A surgical hit: the creature let out a wail of surprise and pain, releasing Alyx and retreating back into the cave.
“Alyx!” Claire rushed to her friend’s side. To the mage’s relief, the fighter appeared uninjured, and was already beginning to stir. When her eyes opened, they were aflame with fury.
“That bastard,” Alyx snarled, her voice quivering. “That…fucking…monster. How dare it..it…”
“A-Allie, it’s okay,” Claire rested a hand on her companion. “You’re safe, it’s gone now. Let’s regroup and—”
“Fuck that,” Alyx leapt to her feet. “I’m not sleeping another night with that thing in my head. This ends now.”
But it was already too late. The fighter charged into the cave with a wrathful cry, disappearing from sight as darkness enveloped her. Claire scrambled to recover her staff and give chase, hesitating only a moment when Valerie called for her to stop. But she couldn’t. Not after realizing the awful truth.
It wasn’t Valerie who had been having dreams of the Wystral, nor had she been caught dancing to its tune. Alyx had only used the ranger as a scapegoat for the real victim:
Claire swept her staff through the air as she entered the cave, a ball of light forming over her shoulder and illuminating the way ahead. The rock walls glittered as she passed, tiny flecks of gemstone spiraling along the winding tunnels. Under ordinary circumstances, she would think it quite pretty. But now it was only a distraction, and made navigating the web of passages even more difficult. Especially when her head was clouded with dread, and her breath echoed in her ears.
She had to find the Wystral before Alyx did. Otherwise…otherwise…
Claire skidded to a stop, the edges of the demon’s power glancing across her psyche. She turned her attention towards that sensation, following the radiating pressure down a curving slope. A yawning cavern opened before her, the high ceiling covered in shining stalactites. There, beneath the dazzling display, her quarry was waiting.
Immediately, Claire felt the creature’s attention turn to her. Its power pressed against her mind, trying to find a way in. Fortunately, the young mage was prepared. She raised her staff high, catching the glowing orb that had been her guide. As soon as the two objects met, a beam of white light emitted from her weapon, slamming into the demon’s eyes.
It screeched, blinded. Claire darted behind one of the many pillars of rock in the makeshift arena, hoping the monster would lose her trail. Her curvaceous body wasn’t built for speed like Alyx’s or stealth like Valerie’s, but if the mage was careful, she was sure she could dash from cover to cover and keep the creature off guard.
Or at least, that was the plan. Until Alyx appeared from behind another pillar and tackled Claire to the ground.
“Master!” the fighter called out. “I have her!”
Claire let out a cry of rage, fighting against her friend’s iron grip. “Alyx, snap out of it!” she yelled, sensing the Wystral’s approach. “This isn’t you! You can’t—“
The rest of her protest died when she beheld her friend. Alyx’s armor and robe were gone, her naked body coated in streaks of glistening slime. Her hair fell in wild tassels around her wide, blank eyes, all traces of fury replaced by an air-headed grin.
“It’s okay Claire,” the former warrior giggled, even as Claire fought like the devil beneath her. “Master is coming. He’s gonna make you feel sooo good.”
Claire felt a damp patch on her robe where Alyx’s crotch rested, as if the thought of converting her friends filled the fighter with irresistible lust. Even as the realization revolted the mage, she shifted her leg upwards, rubbing it against her captor’s dripping snatch.
Alyx let out a surprised gasp, her grip on Claire loosening ever-so-slightly. But it was enough. The mage brought her staff around, ready to dispense a sleeping spell at point blank range.
She was too slow. Alyx quickly adjusted, ducking under the weapon and snatching it from Claire’s hands.
“Bad girl!” the brainwashed warrior chided, chucking the staff far away. “You’re gonna make Master—oof!”
Claire’s kick connected with Alyx’s gut, knocking her back and allowing the mage to scramble free. But she didn’t even get five paces before the Wystral cut off her path to escape, its glowing eyes finding hers.
Claire skidded to a stop, forcing herself to look away. In that instant, Alyx was upon her. She kicked the back of Claire’s legs, forcing her to her knees and wrapping a powerful arm around her torso. Before the mage could even start to squirm, Alyx’s free hand found her face, wrenching it towards the approaching demon.
Claire shut her eyes tight. Even as she felt the creature draw near, even as its power thundered against her mental defenses, she wouldn’t give an inch. She would never…
A slick tendril probed the edges of her eyelid, forcing it open a crack.
That was all it took.
The colors that Claire had glimpsed before came swirling back, this time with even greater force. Her eyes slid open and widened, hungry to devour the dazzling display. It completely filled her vision, the rest of the world vanishing beyond its endless spiral.
It was so…pretty…
Claire bit her tongue, the pain briefly allowing her to close her eyes. Yet even then, the colors remained, and it wasn’t long before she found herself staring again, her thoughts slowing, stretching into putty as the Wystral pulled them from her mind.
“You’re…not going to win…” the mage protested. A spark of strength returned as defiance flared. Talking helped. It kept her from drifting off. “Even at your full power I’m…still holding on.”
“It’s okay, Claire,” Alyx cooed, pressing her naked breasts against Claire’s back. “Just give in. It feels amazing. Really. You’ll wonder why we ever wanted to hurt Master in the first place.”
A tendril worked its way under Claire’s robe, sliding up her leg. It was surprisingly warm, and wet. The mage shuddered as it coiled around her soft flesh. “I’ve spent…my whole life training for this moment...” she hissed. “I…am stronger than you. I…am smarter than you. I…outrank you in every way.”
Hatred and rage churned in her stomach, honing her focus. The colors slowed their hypnotic dance, allowing the mage to draw on the wards in her clothing, bolstering her defenses. The pressure on her brain eased.
Then the tendril slipped between her legs, teasing the subtle crease in her panties. Claire stiffened, her mind going blank with shock. In that moment, a sliver of the Wystral’s power slipped into her brain.
And she gasped as a wave of arousal raced through her. Her thighs instinctively clenched around the invader. Her hips churned, grinding gently against its touch.
What was wrong with her? She should be repulsed with horror and yet…yet…
Crash. A potion flask shattered next to Claire’s quivering knees. A blast of thick, acrid smoke filled the air and invaded her lungs. She felt Alyx release her as fits of coughing overtook them both. The mage’s eyes stung and watered, the entrancing colors of the Wystral fading with each blink. The monster’s mental and physical reach receded, allowing Claire to clumsily crawl away. Until a pair of thin arms scooped her up, helping her to her feet before shepherding her though the haze.
Disoriented as she was, Claire instantly recognized her savior: Valerie had come to the rescue once again.
“By Gloria, you never listen do you?” the Ranger hissed as she pulled Claire behind a pillar.
“I-I’m sorry…” Claire whispered, falling on all fours and sucking greedy gulps of untainted air. “I thought…I could save…Alyx…”
“We still can.” Valerie retrieved another smoke bomb from her pouch. “But not today. We have to retreat and send for backup.”
“But…what if it moves on?” Claire struggled to her feet. “What if it takes months to find it again? Or years?”
“Better take that risk than roll the dice here.” The ranger tossed the potion, creating a fresh blanket of smog towards the exit. “If the monster decides to use Alyx as shield, there’s not much we can do without your staff.”
“B-but…” Claire’s head was spinning. It didn’t make any sense. At their levels, they should be putting up a better fight than this. Why was this happening?
And why was she still wet?
“Found you!” Alyx cried, charging from their flank.
Before Claire could react, Valerie slid in front of her, blocking the fighter. “Run!” the ranger cried as they grappled. “I’ll hold them off!”
Claire fled towards the fresh blanket of smoke, holding her breath as she dashed back up the slope towards the cavern entrance. She charged blindly through the winding tunnels, fueled by pure panic and desperation. She cursed herself for not listening to Alyx. Cursed the fighter for valuing her pride over the truth. And most of all, she cursed the Apostles of Gloria and their stupid logbooks. What good was their leveling system if it could be so easily duped? How could such an ancient, refined enchantment be rendered useless by a weak, fledgling demon?
Claire’s legs wobbled. Her mental and physical stress were immense, and her low endurance stat couldn’t compensate. She slowed her retreat, resting a hand against the tunnel wall as she caught her breath.
The gems glowed as her fingers touched them.
Claire snapped her hand back, an awful realization dawning on her. These weren’t simple gemstones: they were magus crystals. Unrefined, but still capable of storing magic energy.
Suddenly, it all became clear: the reason why the Wystral had taken up residence here, and how it was outperforming its own threat level. The creature had been storing its magic in these crystals, creating a reserve of power long before the Apostles’ hunt had even begun. As soon as the demon had sensed danger drawing near, it had probably used this untapped energy to supercharge its abilities, allowing it to manipulate Alyx from afar, and almost break through even Claire’s defenses.
To make matters worse, this cave was overflowing with these dangerous gems. If Claire left now, not only would she be abandoning her friends to the monster, but by the time her backup arrived…who knew how much more powerful the Wystral would become? Left unchecked, it could easily siphon off additional energy from its new slaves, creating an arsenal so mighty, that not even the Grand Mage of Gloria would stand a chance.
Claire couldn’t let that happen. She had to end this tonight.
With shaking fingers, she grasped her necklace, yanking the crystal pendant free. Even though it looked like an ordinary gemstone, the spell it contained was anything but. It was a gift from her teacher: a powerful, explosive enchantment, further refined by Claire over the years. She could only detonate it once, and it was possible the blast would take her out as well as the Wystral. But it was the only way she could save her party. And, possibly, the region.
Gritting her teeth, Claire summoned the last of her magic energy, pouring it into the spell. The pendant glowed white hot, filling the tunnel with light as she marched back the way she came, tracing the Wystral’s psychic signature to its source.
When she reached it, the sight she beheld caused her chest to tighten.
Valerie had joined Alyx below the swaying demon, both women naked and on their knees. Their eyes stared vacantly at the ceiling, their drooling lips panting with lust as the Wystral’s tendrils slithered over their bodies. One tentacle wound around Valerie’s neck and hooked the inside of her cheek, prompting the once-proud ranger to wrap her lips around its tip and gratefully suck. Her eyelids fluttered in ecstasy.
It was a revolting sight. And yet, the part of Claire that the Wystral had touched twinged with envy. She fought the feeling away, and raised her voice as she descended the slope.
“Enough!” she bellowed. “Release my friends this instant!”
To her satisfaction, the Wystral turned to face her, its tendrils withdrawing and allowing its thralls to stand. Claire’s former allies stepped toward her in unison, Valerie still licking the last of her Master’s juices from her lips.
“Glad you could join us, Claire,” the svelte ranger purred, running her hands over her soft, puffy nipples. “I was worried you would miss out on the fun.”
“Don’t be stupid,” the mage sneered. “If you think I’ll fold as easily as you, than you’re more pathetic than I thought.” It was a cruel sentiment, but one she hoped would provoke an attack. If she didn’t create some distance between the Wystral and her friends, the blast from her spell could kill them too.
To her chagrin, Valerie just laughed. “Oh Claire. I remember when I thought exactly as you do.”
“Serving Master isn’t pathetic,” Alyx added, her hips swaying as she continued her steady advance. “It’s our destiny.”
“It’s everyone’s destiny,” Valerie echoed. “And what could be more pathetic than fighting the inevitable?”
There. Claire saw the opening. Valerie’s legs flexed slightly as she prepared to charge. Claire quickly stepped to the side and then dashed forward, zig-zagging in between the lunging ranger and her companion. The mage twisted as she passed, just barely dodging the grasps of her former friends.
With a burst of desperate energy, Claire charged towards the demon. One of its tendrils lashed onto her arm, but she didn’t resist its pull. She used it to increase her speed, gripping the tentacle tight as she closed the distance with one great leap. Her other hand shot out towards her target, the pendant glowing in her grasp. As soon as it touched the Wystral, she would detonate the spell, and vaporize them both in a blaze of glory.
The tendril around her wrist went slack. The demon’s psychic pressure vanished. It was as though the creature realized what was coming, and was recoiling with fear.
Good, Claire thought. If it was up to her, it would die screaming.
The pendant skimmed the swirling shadows. Claire closed her eyes, ready to trigger the spell that would end it all.
The dampness between her thighs twitched. A miniscule distraction.
But she hesitated.
Alyx’s hand clasped around Claire’s, the pendant vanishing in the fighter’s mammoth palm. The mage looked up at her former ally, eyes wide with shock and dismay.
“You don’t want to do this, Claire,” Alyx stated. Then she tore the pendant free and smashed it against a stone pillar.
“No!” Claire shouted, lunging for the ruined crystal. Magic energy leaked freely from its cracked surface, the glow in its center already fading. If Claire could just recover some of that power, maybe she could still…
The Wystral’s tendrils wrapped around her arms, pulling her off her feet as two additional tentacles grasped her legs. She tried to wrench free, but could only manage to pathetically squirm as the demon lifted her off the ground, carrying her away from the now-useless crystal. The mage shut her eyes tight. Bracing for the inevitable psychic attack.
But it didn’t come. The Wystral’s power remained at a low thrum.
A gentle hand caressed Claire’s cheek. She opened her eyes, confused, to see Valerie staring back at her. The ranger’s formerly brilliant gaze had been dulled, her pupils of sharp ice transformed into docile lakes of blue. Yet there was no denying the excitement in her expression as she held a gleaming knife aloft.
“Don’t worry, Claire,” she said. “I’m not gonna hurt you. Just need to get you ready for Master.”
Before Claire could muster a response, Valerie zipped the blade across the mage’s robes, dissembling her clothing in the blink of an eye. Claire could feel the Wystral’s grip tighten, the creature clearly aroused by the sight of her garments crumpling to the ground, leaving her completely exposed. She tried to squirm away, tried to somehow get out of sight. All that did was cause her breasts to bounce and her slick thighs to clap, eliciting a giggle from Valerie.
“Somebody’s eager,” she murmured, wrapping her arms around Claire’s torso. The mage stiffened as the ranger’s deft fingers found her chest, squeezing her tits before tweaking and teasing her nipples. Despite herself, a tiny whimper escaped Claire’s lips.
“You should be happy, Claire,” Alyx said, sauntering over to join the group. “Master has something extra special planned for you.”
“Wh-what do you mean?” the mage panted, watching as the fighter bent over and rummaged through her slashed clothing.
“You’ll see,” Valerie murmured, nibbling gently on her neck. “Master wants to make sure you’re awake for this.”
Awake? Was that why the Wystral hadn’t entranced Claire like before? Her pulse quickened. She hazarded a glance toward the demon. At the base of its body, two large tendrils were extending. Even through the swirling shadow, Claire could tell they were different from the rest. Thicker. More muscular. They seemed to pulse slightly as they reached towards her, drops of pure, inky blackness dripping from their tips.
Claire bit her lip, her entire body trembling. Yet even as she wished to flee, her traitorous cunt watered in anticipation. When her hips shifted forward and her legs spread wide, for a moment she was unable to tell if it was her doing or the demon’s.
“Aha, found it!” Alyx announced, holding Claire’s logbook high. “I knew she never fought without it.”
“How cute.” Valerie smirked, her fingers gliding over Claire’s helpless, shivering body. “She probably couldn’t wait to see her level rise. Isn’t that right?”
“P-please…” the mage begged, her voice meek and small as the tendrils slithered closer. “D-don’t…” One of them coiled around her torso, snaking between her breasts and drifting just below her chin.
Alyx smiled. “It’s too late for that,” she said, holding the open book in front of Claire’s eyes. “Now tell me: what do you see?”
Claire squinted at the page. Her own profile hovered before her, a testament to all the hard work she had suffered and all the dangers she had braved to come to this point.
“I…” hot tears of humiliation stung her eyes as she struggled to answer. “I…I see…”
The tendril shot up to her face, sliding effortlessly between her open lips. She recoiled with a muffled cry, but it was no use. The tentacle was pulsing down her throat, filling her mouth completely. She couldn’t escape. Couldn’t even bite down. Her tongue scraped uselessly at the undulating appendage, a warm, sticky substance coating her mouth. It was bitter and sour, and yet…there was also faint sweetness to it. And the more she tasted, the less unpleasant it became.
“That’s a good girl,” Valerie purred. “Just let Master take control. You’ll feel better when you do.”
Claire could only muster a moan in reply, her useless lips slurping loudly as the Wystral plunged deeper inside her. Her head was growing fuzzy, the taste and smell of the demon overpowering her senses. If only she could fight it. If only she could just…muster the energy to…
She felt a thrumming heat glance across her open legs. And before she could react, the second tendril slipped inside her.
Claire squirmed, bucking uselessly against the demon’s grasp. But it was no use: the more she fought, the deeper the tentacle went. It vibrated inside her, expanding to fill every inch of her dribbling cunt, stirring sensations she had never felt before. Heat blossomed beneath her flesh. Her muscles tensed with excitement. Pleasure flooded her mind, drowning her thoughts in delirious bliss. It shouldn’t have felt so good. And yet, she couldn’t stop the arousal from building, couldn’t resist the arcs of ecstasy coursing through her, until…
With a choked scream, she felt herself cum. Her vision went blurry, every nerve inside her exploding with joy. She couldn’t think. Couldn’t move. Her body shuddered limply in the Wystral’s grasp, completely at the mercy of the pleasure it was pumping into her. When she was finally able to lift her head again, drool dripping from her overstuffed mouth, she found Alyx grinning at her.
“I’m jealous,” the fighter said. “Master won’t do the same for us. He says we gotta keep our strength.”
Keep…strength? Claire blinked, clearing her vision enough to see the log book still open before her eyes. What she read there caused her heart to sink.
Her level had gone down. By two whole ranks. The Wystral wasn’t just fucking her. It was draining her. Remaking her. Into…into…
Claire thrashed with renewed desperation, trying with all her might to escape the Wystral’s clutches. But already she could feel its effect on her body. Her strength had waned. She could barely even shake her fists before the demon’s grip on her tightened, a fresh wave of horrible, delightful liquid splashing inside of her. Another tidal wave of bliss crashed through her brain, and the tendrils in her cunt and throat started pulsing again, fucking her from both sides before she even had the chance to recover.
She tried to fight it. Tried to stymie the pleasure that was filling her body. But the more she resisted, the greater the release when yet another orgasm rocked her senses. Even without looking, she could tell she had lost three more levels at least. She felt softer. Weaker. But the Wystral wouldn’t stop. Even as her pussy twitched and gushed.
It was a hopeless, never-ending cycle of degradation and exhilaration. The more she tried not to cum, the more disgust and shame she felt, the more those feelings became linked to her arousal. With every glorious release, with every mind-blanking burst of ecstasy, her will became weaker. Her endurance plummeted. Her intelligence waned. Before long, fighting back became mere fantasy, a notion she entertained so that when she broke and came again, the humiliation would only deepen her carnal delight.
The tendrils around her legs loosened, dropping Claire to her knees. The tentacles around her wrists remained, and she was grateful for them, her weak, useless body barely able to keep itself upright without their support. She moved only with the Wystral’s whims, its ravishing touch playing her like an instrument, her own moans and whimpers like distant music in her ears. Her giddy, mushy mind drifted in and out of the sensations, as though she were floating in a wonderful dream. She was dimly aware of the other two women locked in an embrace nearby, Valerie desperately fingering Alyx as she stared into Claire’s eyes, her panting lips curving into a smile.
Claire smiled back. She didn’t know why. She didn’t care anymore. Her tired gaze lowered, and spied the logbook open on the ground nearby. She could barely make head or tails of what she saw anymore, but she did recognize the big number below her name.
She stiffened, whimpering as the Wystral withdrew from her body. The former mage collapsed on her side, her body still twitching, drool and demonic residue spilling from her agape mouth onto the ground. She was empty. Lost. Devoid of any sensations but the echo of the Wystral’s touch.
Then a tendril wrapped around her hair. And pulled her vacant gaze skyward.
The swirling colors found her again. They poured into her eyes, washing away the last vestiges of resistance. She felt her will dissolve as the Wystral’s power flooded her mind, until she could no longer tell the difference between her own thoughts and her Master’s.
Master told her that didn’t matter anymore. Claire exhaled with relief.
She blinked, and the colors were gone. No…not gone. They were everywhere. Shadowing every flicker of light, trailing every movement. They were her world now. Master was her world now. Claire smiled, an unsteady giggle bubbling from within her.
Master commanded her to stand, and she did so. Alyx and Valerie joined her as well. They took turns embracing Claire, pulling her soft, fragile body to theirs, and caressing her as they kissed. It was a parting gift, and Claire knew why. She had seen the wonderful plans Master had made.
The fighter and ranger were strong. It would be their job to go out into the world to find more converts, building an army to protect Master in the coming battles.
As for Claire…
A trail of drool lingered on her lips as Alyx pulled away. The mage sunk to her knees, exhaustion overcoming her as she watched her sister slaves collect their belongings and depart. When her Master beckoned her, she crawled to his side, and sighed happily as a tendril curled around her neck like a leash. Master was guiding her deeper into the cavern, where she would serve as the first of his many broodmares. She was too weak, too soft, too helpless to do anything else but be fucked and bred night after night, whenever and however Master wished.
Claire shuddered as a drop of Master dribbled down her thigh. A long, fruitful life of servitude awaited her. And she had never been happier.