Mercy, and Other Costly Mistakes

21. Unforgiveable

by gargulec

Tags: #cw:gore #D/s #dom:female #pov:bottom #pov:top #sub:female #bondage #fantasy #sadomasochism
See spoiler tags : #exhibitionism #humiliation

21. Unforgiveable

Acrid smog continued to shroud the Glassworkers' Ward, in spite of the alleged work stoppages. Narrow streets choked under a blanket of dark smoke laced with silicate dust. Even the rooftops offered little reprieve. The Lower City was too squat to rise above the stinking haze, choosing instead to sit close to the ground; it made Shard of White Obsidian think of some kind of a bottom-feeding parasite, some eyeless, spineless slug from the deepest caverns. Every moment wasted here filled her with seething frustration. The rooftops croaked under her weight as she jumped from one ramshackle hovel to another, not even pausing to enjoy the small pleasures of being on a prowl. Stupidly, she had put on a new red kurta, and now the Lower City's odour was sure to suffuse it; this sort of filth rarely washed out, and so it would probably have to go straight into the furnace as soon as she returned home. And then, she promised herself, she would have a gaggle of servants scrub her and polish her shell to a mirror sheen, so that not a speck of this dump would remain staining her sleek body.

But alas, there was no returning to the towers without first handling that onerous Glassmaker business. She growled at the night, her voice vibrating with wordless frustration. Why her? Had she not outgrown dirtying her hands in the Lower City? Why her, and not that brute Cuts, or some other sibling of hers? But Master Glassmaker, that old mass of greed and blubber, kept yapping about the importance of this all, and the need to send his best servant there. So, once again, Shard found herself made into a simple catspaw, the pantomime of obedience expected of her denying her the pleasure of telling that mortal idiot to handle his business himself.

Her target was in view, a light spout illuminating smog with oil lamps and cheap charmlights. Some half-rotten dump where the lowborn congregated to rot their simpleton brains with the runoff of the Middle City's breweries. To call it a building seemed an insult to architecture: to the Lair-Mother's child, it appeared more like a mound of barely-arranged planks and sheets of corrugated metal loosely arranged in the shape of a tavern. As everything in the Lower City, it was little more than a pile of refuse that the City had vomited out and let the vermin move into.

Low noise of massed voices and frantic speeches seeped through the half-open door; a pair of muscle-bound thugs stood guard, heavy clubs no doubt making them feel like they mattered. They smoked, adding the stench of their cheap cigarettes to the already fetid atmosphere. In her perch above, Shard let her claws extend, the golden polish depressingly dull in the smoke. It was an honest struggle not to jump down and gut those brutes where they stood, but the Lair-Mother's child managed to tamp down on her hunger. What was that Master Glassmaker told her? I want the work to resume, he declared wagging his fat finger at her, and that takes workers, dear Shard. Rid me of trouble-makers, not labourers!

Her claws dug into the soot-stained wood of the roof; again, she had to fight the urge not to howl in frustration. She couldn't believe she was made to miss the Charmcutters' Gala for this! Master Charmcutter had recently acquired a real snake-woman maid from beyond the Western Limit and Shard had been waiting days to put hands on her!

But no, no, no. Instead, she was to terrify some worthless lowborn, a task that a bunch of guild muscle could accomplish just as well with some ardent application of the whip. She hissed, loud enough to make the brutes notice – but before they noticed her, she was already standing in front of them, claws on full display. Their fear exploded out, simple, but oddly fulfilling. For all of her frustration, Shard couldn't deny that this work had its advantages.

"He's inside!" one of the guards shouted, falling to her knees. "We're just- we're not with him! Don't kill us!"

"I won't," Shard replied with a shrug, stepping past them.

She gave the silent one a wide slash across the stomach, her back arching happily as pleasure jolted up her arm. The wound was shallow, but at least the man would learn to be more prompt the next time. His stifled scream accompanied her as she tore down the door, and stepped into the unbearable pit of lowborn flesh beyond.

Two, maybe three dozen bodies stood squeezed inside, tables pulled aside to make room. Glassworkers all, some still wearing their working clothes, heavy boots and burn-marked shirts. The shout at the door alerted them – heads turned, and when they saw who it was, all the noise died. Perfect silence surrounded Shard as she stepped inside, heavy with so much terror that Shard had fight not to overstuff herself just yet and ruin the coming main course.

"The first one to leave dies," she announced, flicking blood off her claw at some nearby fool.

The lowborn tumbled back; someone stuffed a fist into her mouth to keep her from screaming. It was pleasing, the Lair-Mother's child had to admit to herself, just how quietly she could speak and still be heard by everyone.

The instigator – the supposed source of recent trouble – wasn't hard to find. He stood on a stool in the middle, frozen mid-oration. At her arrival, he turned chalk-pale, giving his soot-stained face a monochromatic appearance.

This was the Lower City, and they all understood the rules of what was about to happen. They had to know that only Shard's good will was keeping them all from getting slaughtered like cattle. Stories of what happened to those who tried to fight back against her kind were what they all grew up on; not a single one of them would be keen to be added to those sorry legends. All they could do was hope, still as statues, mute as stone.

She squeezed herself past them, stepping lightly and smiling widely. A hundred eyes followed her every move with rapt, terrified attention.

"So what was this about?" she asked, looking up at the man on the stool and letting her teeth show in a vicious green.

To give him credit, he did not look away. The fumes of the Glassworks had not yet eaten him; he carried himself proudly and breathed freely. There was a youthful shine to his eyes, and even dirtied, he had beautiful golden hair. There was use for boys like that; it was a genuine shame that he hadn't been scouted for a better future than the one now awaiting him. But then again, pretty flesh was rarely ever in shortage.

"Protest," he responded, breathing in.

That took Shard aback. Not only did he speak back, but also showed some courage! What a rare and wonderful treat. Most lowborn knew only how to mewl. She was going to enjoy breaking him.

"Oh?" she brought her blooded hand to her mouth, miming interest. "And what against?"

"I was," he said, swallowing loudly. In the mass of sensations lapping against her shell, she could not pick his fear from that of the assembled mass; still, she had to assume that he was terrified. All the more impressive how level he was keeping his slurring voice. "I was trying to instigate against the latest work order."

Shard's smile faded – this was more than just bravery, she realized. This was conscious, and so dangerous, and so requiring the sternest punishment. Thankfully, this was not the first time she had come across this type. In fact, she was all too familiar.

"But they were uninterested," he added, stressing those words as if Shard was ever going to believe him. "They were laughing at me. They were all going to go back to work tomorrow."

"Such a brave boy you are," Shard hissed back at him, "but you have no reason to worry."

"Please," he continued. It didn't escape Shard's attention that the eyes of the crowd were away from her, and pinned to him, and his sacrificial gestures. "They are all innocent. Only-"

Shard didn't let him finish. She kicked the stool sending him tumbling to the beaten ground pretending to be the tavern's floor. Her claws extended an extra inch as he displayed the temerity to land on his feet.

"You are not dying tonight," her voice sizzled up into the room. "But you are learning."

Her hand shot to the side, grabbing some random throat from the crowd. It didn't really matter who it belonged to. She hoisted a body into the air, for all to see. It belonged to some man; it didn't really matter. It was going to be dead soon. Still, she had a lesson to deliver.

"What's your name?" she asked the soon-to-be-corpse.

"Let him-" the instigator started to plead again.

Shard kicked him in the gut, twisting the voice into a pained groan. Just for a good measure, she put her foot on his throat, applying just enough pressure so that he would not make any pointless noises until required.

"What's your name?" she repeated.

"M-eos," the vermin in her hand moaned, a voice so pathetic that even Shard couldn't sample the fear in it.

"Do you want to die, Meos?" she asked, tossing him from side to side.

"No," he cried. At least someone knew their role in this entire mess. "No! I didn't do anything! I have…"

This was enough noise for now. She squeezed his neck. He felt her claws dig into his flesh, and so shut up. She turned back to the instigator.

"You," she lifted her foot from his throat. "Beg me to kill him. Beg me to do it slowly."

Somewhere behind her, lowborn were scurrying. They knew her attention was elsewhere, and so tried to find a way out without drawing it. As long as they didn't make their attempts too obvious, she didn't really care. She only needed a handful of other bodies for the demonstration she was about to give.

The instigator stared at her, dumbfounded.

"Did you not hear me?" she spat at him. "Now. Beg."

The mewling sack of bones in her hands groaned; she crunched on its throat a bit more; besides it sent pleasant vibrations into her hand.

"He's innocent," the wannabe martyr whispered and moaned. "I'm the one you're after! Let him go, and kill me-"

Shard pushed down; he choked.

"Are you deaf?" she hissed. "You are not dying. You are learning about consequences. Want him to live? Fine!" she swept inside of the tavern with her free hand. "Just say the word. I'll just take everyone else's life instead."

The crowd was thinning, faster than before. Still, not everyone would dare to run. Enough would stay, and carry the story out later. Unless, of course, Shard was wrong about the man at her feet, and she would have to kill everyone instead.

Either way, she would be content.

"You have until the count of five," she announced, looking straight into the instigator's brave, defiant eyes.

"Please…" the soon-to-be corpse moaned.

"Just kill me!" the instigator shouted, and Shard couldn't believe just how intoxicatingly thick this man's despair was.

"One," she crooned.



He broke.


Shard threw the strip of the bloodied skin to the ground, along with the rest of the garbage. Her kurta was definitely ruined now, but at least she had eaten well. Her entire body tingled with excitement, and it was a struggle to hold herself steady on her feet.

The instigator sat nearby; he was the only one remaining in the tavern, everyone else having long since fled. The Lair-Mother's child had no doubts that not only would work resume first thing tomorrow morning, and in the years to come unruly lowborn of the Glassworks' Ward would think twice before letting anyone speak against the peace and order of the City. Even rats learned.

"You can go now," she brushed the man's cheek, spreading some of his victim's blood over his face. "Your education is complete."

He didn't move, or say anything. He just glared with the dumb, animal defiance practically indistinguishable from shock. Briefly, she entertained the idea of actually putting him out of his misery, but that would render the entire evening moot, and besides, there was no point in ridding Master Glassmaker of another worker. They were, allegedly, useful. So instead, she let him think about his mistakes.

"You should have killed me."

The instigator's wards caught Shard in the door. She didn't look back, merely shrugged. Mercy was hardly a habit of hers. She left, and hurried back to the High City, where a long and sorely needed bath awaited her.

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