The world made so much sense now. The winding corridors and halls of Tyranaxxia’s home—of Lucene’s home—no longer felt oppressive or confusing, but welcoming, familiar. Lucene could navigate them on instinct, as though she’d been doing so her whole life. More importantly, she did not need to; she could simply idly follow her Mistress, confident she was being led to exactly where she needed to be. Though, to her shame, Lucene still felt a lingering ember of conflict in her. When Tyranaxxia had bidden Lucene follow her, away from their private intimacy, to be remade as a towering, shining champion, she had felt conflict stir inside her. A proper devotee would, upon receiving such a command, follow in eager devotion; Lucene had indeed followed, but not so eagerly. In fact, she had nearly protested. And for what?
Undoubtedly, Lucene understood her place. Tyranaxxia had been correct from the start: her magnificence shone brighter, burned hotter than the sun itself; it was a joy and a privilege to serve such a benevolent, righteous and awe-inspiring queen. And yet, when she had been instructed to follow, a selfish urge reared its ugly head inside Lucene. She had wished to remain, to savor the taste and touch of her Mistress, to revel in the warmth of their intimacy, to fade into a gentle, quiet peaceful haze of comfortable submission. Lucene had wanted that more than anything, even more than she’d simply wanted to obey. Of course, she had obeyed; it was the right thing to do. Being her Mistress’ champion would give Lucene purpose, fulfillment. She would be an instrument of Tyranaxxia’s will, a means to her grandest of ends; Lucene could protect her home, protect Mistress’ treasures, protect Izelle.
The mere thought of her princess set Lucene’s heart aflame; she loved Izelle, loved her so dearly. She had always loved Izelle, but the feelings were different now. Her love had been liberated. No longer was it bound by the restrictions, the pretenses, the choking expectations of life at the mercy of that tyrannical king and his antiquated, oppressive rule. The notion that a knight of low nobility, let alone a woman, could ever be with a princess would be outrageous within the bounds of his kingdom. Tyranaxxia, though, she was the great equalizer. Beneath her, it did not matter that Izelle had been a princess, and Lucene a knight. All that mattered was their service to their goddess. Renewed confidence bloomed in Lucene’s chest. She would become her Mistress’ champion, serve the great and terrible Tyranaxxia, conquer the world for her. And, when she next saw Izelle, she would take the princess into her arms, and kiss her, a real kiss, not a shy, chaste peck on the lips.
A smile spread wide across Lucene’s face at the thought of the simple, joyful life which awaited her. It would be her and Izelle together, bound in blissful service to their Mistress. And yes, Lucene could not deny that her role as Tyranaxxia’s champion sounded difficult, even frightening at times. Were it up to her, Lucene may not stay such a path, but she knew battle. The discomfort and hardship which was inevitable when facing the wider world with Tyranaxxia’s strength flowing through her seemed a small price to pay to be granted such a grand purpose. And so, Lucene had little trouble banishing her doubts, especially if doing so would please her queen.
With a spring in her step, Lucene followed Tyranaxxia through the winding halls of her home, and into a sprawling chamber. Its walls were shining stone, with ornate pillars littered throughout, but beyond its artful design, the chamber was fairly minimalist in design. The outskirts of the room formed a perimeter around a downward sloping square indent in the floor. Four sets of uniform stairways led to a still, clear pool at the very center of the room. A faint orange glow, the color of Tyranaxxia’s eyes, permeated the water from below. Vapor rose from the water surface, making the entire chamber sticky with humidity. On the far side of the room, a single platform rose from the floor, overlooking the pool. A table sat atop it, just off to the side, resting on the table, and carefully placed throughout the platform, were all manner of magical instruments and materials. Aside from Lucene and her Mistress, the chamber was empty.
Silent footfalls echoed off the walls as Tyranaxxia crossed the room, and paused at the top of the nearest stairway. She turned to face Lucene, fixing her newest treasure with that heart-stopping gaze, and spoke. “Normally I would instruct initiates to remove their clothes. Of course, that was all taken care of when you first arrived. Head into the pool, my dear Lady Lucene. It is time I burrow my flame within your breast, time we ignite your potential.” The moment Lucene set foot within the chamber, she had known what to do. She suspected her Mistress understood that as well. And it was for exactly that reason that Lucene so dearly appreciated her Mistress’ command. It was there for no other reason than to provide transparency, purpose. There could be no room for uncertainty; Lucene’s purpose was definitive, and her Mistress had graced her with a perfect opportunity to feel the thrill of unquestioning, unambiguous obedience.
She bowed her head low in deference. “Yes, my queen.” Her words came in a choked hiss, a struggle to maintain composure in the face of the unrivaled pleasure she felt simply from the chance to obey. Though, perhaps calling it a chance was inaccurate. Chance implied choice, and Lucene had no such thing. Such ambiguity had been stripped from her. Any of Lucene’s hesitations regarding the hardship she would face having so much responsibility resting on her shoulders in her duties as Tyranaxxia’s champion were meaningless. They could not stop Lucene from embracing her purpose, not when Tyranaxxia’s mere presence instilled such raw obedience. Lucene had been liberated from such hesitation, from the burden of considering her own doubts, no matter how numerous. She descended the stairs, head held high, eager to embrace her new place as her Mistress’ sword and shield. The warrior within Lucene could not imagine a greater honor than to be selected for such a duty, and the obedient treasure within could not think of a more important thing than settling into her proper place in service of her Goddess.
The water was deeper than Lucene had expected, easily rising to her belly. Within, she found a raised block of stone against the wall, and seated herself. Her heart pounded in her chest, and she felt the weight of anticipation creep over her. Lucene needed to make a conscious effort to keep her breathing under control. Once settled, she cast her gaze upward, toward the overlooking platform. Tyranaxxia stood at its edge, hands at her side, eyes locked onto Lucene’s waiting form, holding a pleased smile. Just like that, Lucene relaxed. Everything would be okay. They shared a silent look; Tyranaxxia grew still, then her chest rose and fell in a long, slow breath, and her lips began to move.
The room was silent, and yet, Lucene saw with her own eyes as the water’s surface began to tremble, as though a great, booming chorus erupted from all sides. Without warning, Tyranaxxia began to raise her arms. As she did, the dragoness’s voice rose in tandem. It started low, quiet, just barely above a whisper. Despite that, Lucene could hear it perfectly: a rhythmic chanting in a language completely foreign to her. Low whisper or no, Tyranaxxia’s voice carried with uncanny clarity, echoing throughout the room, wrapping Lucene entirely within the sound of her Mistress’ voice.
As the chanting heightened, the water’s trembling surface began to roll and burst into warm mist. In turn, Lucene felt the temperature all around her increase. The familiar comfort of Tyranaxxia’s heat encompassed the chosen champion. The steady rise of Tyranaxxia’s voice continued. She had gone from barely a whisper to a steady, booming shout. The water around Lucene danced, erupting in jets of scalding color, leaping and molding itself into unnatural shapes. One such eruption coalesced into a crescent-like arc. Before Lucene had the chance to process the sight, it thrust into her breast. It did not burst or crash against Lucene’s body, it pressed and pushed with persistent strength. As it did, the heat concentrated into a focal point: the space where it burrowed against Lucene’s chest.
A moment of tension stretched on as the water, its heat, and the solidity of Lucene’s body seemed to reach an impasse. Then, as Tyranaxxia approached crescendo, and her hands stretched ever skyward, the mass of water reared back, rose above Lucene, bearing down upon her, ablaze with wonderful, impossible heat. It was seeping into her; Lucene could feel it. The heat trickled into her flesh, filling her with strength, purpose, invigorating her. She was a champion; nothing could be clearer. Any second thoughts, any yearning for something quieter, simpler, was banished. It felt glorious, to be crafted into such a cutting edge. Best of all, this was but a mere trickle, Lucene knew there was more to come: a flood of blazing magic which would ignite her soul, cleanse her impurities and shape her into a form befitting Tyranaxxia’s blessing. The magic just needed to find its way past the barrier of Lucene’s flesh.
And it would. The moment was coming closer with each syllable of her Mistress’ chant. Tyranaxxia’s voice finally reached its apex, drowning out all else, stifling the ambiance of the world itself. More and more of the heat seeped through, more and more strength, pride, purpose. Lucene could feel that searing bliss readying itself to pounce, and finish its work. Then, on the precipice of her metamorphosis, the door to their chamber burst open. Tyranaxxia fell silent, and, several moments later, the echo of her voice dissipated and the room followed. Her hands returned to her side, though, surprisingly, the water remained in place, frozen in lascivious heat, ready to claim. Lucene took a moment to catch her breath, then followed the sound.
One of Tyranaxxia’s girls stood in the doorway—the redhead from before, the one with the claw marks on her back—she gave a quick, apologetic bow and scurried around the perimeter of the room, up to her Mistress’ podium. Tyranaxxia lowered herself just enough so her treasure could stand on her toes and whisper into the dragoness’ ear. The two shared a quick conversation in hushed whispers. A look of surprise, then confusion crossed Tyranaxxia’s face. The redhead handed her Mistress a sealed letter. Tyranaxxia opened it. Her eyes scanned the page, and then, understanding. She closed the letter, gave it back to the redheaded girl, ruffled her hair affectionately, and muttered something unintelligible. Much akin to the last time Lucene had witnessed such an interaction, the girl gleefully nodded, accepted a round of attention, then rushed from the room. Unlike the last time Lucene witnessed such an interaction, she felt a deep sense of longing and envy in seeing the way the girl was showered in her Mistress’ affection.
The girl hurried out the door; it shut with an echoing click. Lucene and Tyranaxxia were again alone, but the dragoness was looking upon her treasure with an odd expression. Was it guilt? Pity? Had Lucene done something wrong? Before she could fully consider, Tyranaxxia spoke. “My dear girl. There has been a change of plans, perhaps even a mistake. I believe I misjudged you, dear. You will not be one of my champions.” A great void opened beneath Lucene’s heart, and she began to plummet. Seeing the look on Lucene’s face, Tyranaxxia continued. “It is nothing to fret over, dear girl. You still have a place here. All my treasures do. I have great pride in my ability to give my girls happy lives, serving the purposes they were meant to serve, taking the places they were meant to take. And you, my dear, have a very special purpose. You will be mine, you will serve me, as all my girls do. But more than that, you will serve my champion, the knight who bested you when you first arrived. The letter explained everything. You have been claimed. You will be a bed girl, wrapped in fine silks and kept away from the struggles and worries of life outside these walls. All you will need to concern yourself with is serving your Goddess, and her brave champion. It will be bliss, I am certain.”
Lucene felt as though she had been struck. She was a champion. She could feel Tyranaxxia’s blessing burning in her heart. It seared within her, burned perhaps too brightly, its heat seemed to char at her essence, but Lucene understood her purpose now. Surely once Tyranaxxia granted her the strength to contain the fire within her, she would be able to handle the heat, wouldn’t she? But would it even matter if she was to be robbed of that? Of the pride she felt? Of any pride at all? It was wrong. Lucene was a warrior, not a meek bed girl. And then there was the knight. The heat within her flared at the mere thought. That bastard was robbing her of destiny, and for what? Simply to rub salt in the would of her defeat? Or perhaps out of fear for what Lucene would become with Tyranaxxia’s blessing burning in her breast. This could not happen, she could not allow it. Lucene stood with a start. “Mistress, my Goddess. You cannot I—I will not. I will not serve him. I serve you.” With each word she spoke, Lucene felt the searing flame within her thrash, burning brighter, singing her soul. It hurt, it hurt so much. She needed Tyranaxxia to finish the ritual, to make her strong enough to handle this blistering heat.
She opened her mouth again to plead, but caught sight of her Mistress’ face: stern, unmoved. The words died in her throat. What came out instead was a meek whimper, full of hurt and confusion. “Do you—do you not want me?”
Immediately, Tyranaxxia’s face softened. She fixed Lucene with that same patient, but affectionate and condescending look she had given the redheaded girl from before. “Oh, my dear Lucene. Of course I want you. I am sorry I have nestled a piece of the fire I would grant you into your soul, only to now need to remove it. That must be difficult. There is much you seem to misunderstand my dear. You will find purpose and happiness in your new life. You will serve your Mistresses well, I am sure of it.” Without another word, without even giving Lucene time to process her words, Tyranaxxia raised her arms upward, stretched her fingers skyward, then grasped at the air, and yanked them both down in one sudden motion. The water immediately sprung to life, shaping itself into a towering wave. Before Lucene could so much as scream, the wave crashed over her, and she pulled ever downward, into the burning depths.
Lucene could not watch. Her eyes were shut tight as unseen currents of water shaped around her, binding her arms and legs, pressing in all around her. She tried to thrash, to yank, to do anything to resist her fate and prove to Tyranaxxia that she was strong, that she was worthy. Her bonds held tight. The heat was back, but this time it was different. The scarce embers of that burning, thrashing flame which had found purchase in Lucene’s heart drifted out and away. She tried to suppress the feeling of relief as the worst of her pain went too. But the heat still remained. Now though, instead of finding its place within her, this heat formed a blazing inferno all around her. The heat rose, more and more. Lucene could not breath, she could not struggle. She was going to be smothered, crushed, drowned by it all. What would be left when Tyranaxxia pulled her back up? A pliant toy? Lucene couldn’t, she wouldn’t. This was wrong, so wrong. She wanted out. She couldn’t fight this. Why couldn’t she just curl up into her Goddess’ arms and rest her head against that soft, comforting flesh? That’s all Lucene had wanted, really, before all this struggling. Couldn’t she just have that? Just peace and comfort?
Suddenly the violent, surging waters began to calm. The heat, still all around her, no longer felt angry or unkind. It warmed her body, her soul. Lucene floated there, completely still. Her lungs no longer screamed for air, content in the knowledge that Tyaranaxxia would not permit her to drown. Her flesh no longer burned, the heat was not so much as to harm her, and Tyranaxxia would ensure it never rose past the edge of bearable. Her bindings no longer felt restricting, but simply there to keep her in a comfortable position, nice and still for her Mistress to perform her task. Beneath those still, shining waters, Lucene made no attempt to keep track of time. The temperature continued to rise around her, but she did not pay it any heed, she simply floated in that still, blissful void of relaxation, and let her mind drift.
The next thing she knew, Lucene was lying on her back. Her eyes fluttered open, and she sat up with a start as reality returned to her. She was sitting in the middle of the ritual chamber, on floor, where the pool had once been. Tyranaxxia was nowhere to be seen. Part of Lucene felt that should worry her, another part seemed to instinctively know she was close by, leaving her with a distinct sense of reassurance. Between slow breaths, Lucene examined her surroundings. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a tiny puddle off in one of the corners, slowly evaporating. Had the entire pool been burned away until only she remained? She could not say. Lucene was in no state to think such things over. She felt… off. Disoriented, a bit dazed, and like the whole world had been stretched around her. She took a moment to compose herself, then stood on shaky legs. As it turned out, her legs were, in fact, too shaky. As soon as she stood, Lucene found herself teetering. She stumbled backward, only to collide with something sturdy.
Lucene steadied herself, and turned around, then found herself looking up, way up, at her Mistress. Tyranaxxia had always been tall, significantly taller than Lucene but this was different. Tyranaxxia absolutely towered over her now, she must have gained an entire extra foot over Lucene, maybe more. Panic rose from somewhere in the pit of her stomach as the reality of the situation clicked in her mind. With a stumbling step backward, Lucene examined herself, and confirmed her worst fears.
Like molten Metal, Lucene had been cast, and pounded into an unfamiliar shape. Every last one of her rough edges had been melted away, and replaced with soft, supple, weak flesh. Uncalloused hands brushed soft skin. The touch alone was enough to leave Lucene gasping and panting; this new flesh was far too sensitive. Her arms, once bulging with powerful muscles, were now twiggish. Those arms would struggle to even lift a sword, let alone properly fight with one. A soft pouch of fat rested on her belly in place of her toned core. Her countless scars from battles past were nowhere to be seen. Worst of all, she no longer even had the fire to properly protest. The mere idea of raising her voice against her Mistress was unthinkable to Lucene. She could not. She would not. That did not keep petulant anger from bubbling up within her. Lucene stared up at her Mistress through teary eyes.
Through the entirety of Lucene’s self-rediscovery, Tyranaxxia had simply remained in place, standing, staring, waiting calmly and patiently. When Lucene’s eyes finally met hers, staring up had her full of fear, confusion, and a desperate need for guidance, Tyranaxxia simply flashed a warm smile and stroked her treasure’s cheek. If the heat had melted Lucene, her Mistress’ touch completely evaporated her. She lost any semblance of balance, and simply stumbled forward, clutching one of Tyranaxxia’s legs for support as blind joy saturated every cell in her body. The same hand which had stroked her cheek grasped her by the chin, and tilted her gaze upward. Their eyes met, and Lucene’s breath hitched. How couldn’t it? How could she possibly breathe at such a beautiful perfect sight? Her entire body lit up with awe, as though every stupid crush she’d ever had was being reciprocated multiplied by a thousand and then another thousand for good measure and who could ever blame her for—”You need to breath, dear.” Lucene breathed.
“Good girl.” It was a good thing Lucene was already so tightly wrapped around her Mistress’ leg, otherwise she may have toppled forward and fallen forever into the endless void of her Mistress’ burning eyes.
Tyranaxxia paused, giving Lucene a moment to recover. “You’ll get used to the feeling after a while, dear. It won’t lessen, but you’ll learn how to keep yourself afloat, and only sink when you want to—or when you’re told to.” Something flickered in her eyes and gave a slight nod. “Actually that reminds me, I have a delivery to make, don’t I?” There was a suggestive look in Tyranaxxia’s eye, and with it, sudden understanding ignited in Lucene’s mind. Clawed, sharp truth grasped Lucene by the waist and tore her away from her blissful, submissive headspace.
“You can’t,” she whispered. The ashes of the fire which had once burned within Lucene seemed to flicker to life one last time, and with them, came a hazy cloud of panic and anger. “I—this is wrong. What have you done to me? I was—you were. I’m not this. I’m your champion.”
A sad smile crossed Tyranaxxia’s face, and she shook her head. “Oh dear. It seems some things have yet to settle in that head of yours. No matter. We can’t expect every lesson to stick the first time. And pride can be quite hard to snuff out. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the big moment, but I think when you finally meet my champion face to face, those last few embers will flicker out.” Lucene opened her mouth to protest, but before she could, Tyranaxxia issued one last command. “Sleep.” The world slipped away.
When Lucene came to, she was lying on her back on a soft bed. She sat up, and found herself to still be nude, save one new addition: a strip of silken red lace had been fastened across her chest into a delicate bow. After a moment of struggling, Lucene realized the same lace had been tied around her wrists, binding her arms behind her back. Despite her best efforts, she could not shake loose the knot—though, she did not have long to try. A small thud off to her right called Lucene’s attention. She followed the sound, and found that the room she lay in was connected to a washroom. From her place on the bed, Lucene could glimpse a towering shadow being cast from within. Worse still, not far from the entrance to the washroom, was a large wooden chest, atop the chest, a familiar helmet rested, a helmet in the shape of a dragon’s head.
Anger, which quickly became eclipsed by fear and despair, coursed through Lucene’s body. She needed to find her Mistress; Tyranaxxia cared for her, wanted her to be happy. Surely if Lucene showed her she could only be happy with her then Tyranaxxia would understand and take her back, right? Take her away from the man who thought he could claim Lucene for himself after Mistress had done all the work. Another sound from within the adjoining room pulled Lucene back into reality. She needed to act. Without further hesitation, she leapt from the bed, and found the bed’s height to be far greater than she was expecting. Lucene tumbled to the floor with a crash, then stood, and broke into a sprint. Behind her, she heard footsteps, but Lucene did not bother to glance backward. She needed to keep moving.
Blinded by adrenaline, Lucene blitzed through hallway after hallway, rounding corners at random. Before long, though, her body began to give out. Her endurance had been sapped completely by Tyranaxxia’s magic. Still, with the last remaining scraps of a will she had left, Lucene forged ahead, pushed herself until her limbs screamed at her and her breaths came in painful wheezes. The entire time, Lucene could hear those footsteps, calmly keeping pace with her. She rounded one last corner, and felt hope. Lucene knew this hallway. She didn’t know where Tyranaxxia was, but she could find her way. She took another step, and her legs gave out. Momentum carried her forward, but Lucene had no strength to catch herself; she was in freefall, doomed to a painful fall, and then capture. This was the end. She shut her eyes, and waited for the moment to come. It didn’t.
Soft, warm, strong hands grasped Lucene around the waist, firm enough to hold her up, but not so tight as to hurt her sensitive flesh. As though she were no more than a small, panicky animal, she was easily hefted back onto her feet, then pulled tight against a tall, warm body. One of the hands rose to her head, and held Lucene firmly in place, pressing her into something warm and soft. Lucene shut her eyes, and felt herself begin to relax; then, realization struck her: this was not Tyranaxxia. Lucene could not say how she knew that, but she did, it was instinct. The fear returned, and she began to struggle against the hand holding her in place. A soft chuckle sounded somewhere above her, and the hand tilted Lucene’s chin upward. She opened her eyes, and a familiar face greeted her, a face she had spent countless nights dreaming of, a face she had longed to see for so long. “Izelle,” Lucene breathed, feeling every last bit of tension evaporate from her body. It was her. Really, truly her. The tiny, still dwindling part of Lucene which still doubted Tyranaxxia’s intentions finally faded away. Izelle was safe. She was different. Taller, stronger, more confident, she was a champion. The champion Lucene couldn’t have been.
Her knees gave out, and the floor fell out beneath her with them, but Izelle was enough to support both of them. Her princess gave a coy smile, blushing a little, Lucene let out a slow breath, and with it, felt herself go completely limp as she collapsed into Izelle’s arms. The Princess grinned, and brushed Lucene’s hair from her eyes. “Hey, Lucene. I missed you, my love.”