Chapter IX - Sacred Soul

by nevermind

Tags: #cw:noncon #f/f #masturbation #multiple_partners #pov:bottom #sub:female #urban_fantasy #college #corruption #demon #horror #magic #mystery #police #possession
See spoiler tags : #cw:gore #body_modification #cw:blood #cw:death #ego_death #happy_slaves #turned_evil
(Some Content Warning tags are spoilered. Click to show them) #cw:gore

Jordan felt the resonance roar with accomplishment when Samantha Collins died in front of her, and she knew that everything was happening as it was meant to happen. She looked down at the lifeless body, her mind orbiting the deep, absolute purpose that flowed through her blood. Sam lay there, limp, eyes staring at nothing, completely still. A pool of blood had formed between her legs, were she had been claimed by the Mother's Gift. It was done.

Sam is dead, Jordan thought. The notion failed to rouse any feelings in her hazy mind. She simply watched the lifeless body as seconds dragged on like sleepless nights and thoughts of blood and pleasure tugged at the eyelids of her sleep-drunk thoughts. This was right. This was correct. Sam's flesh was meant to serve.

And now, it did.

With violent suddenness, Sam’s eyes came back to life—and the expression on the young woman’s face hardened into caustic satisfaction. The flesh-servant that had been Sam smiled hungrily as she sat up and looked down at her own desecrated flesh. “Ohhhh yesss,” she hissed, baring her teeth in an utterly satisfied smile. She closed her eyes, and moaned with delight—and then she arched her back and started slowly gyrating her hips as she began to excitedly caress her naked body. "Yesss!" she moaned, again and her fingers wandered between her wide-open thighs and pushed into the bloody folds of her claimed shame. "Fuck yesss!!!" she gasped as she started to fuck herself.

The sight made Jordan's drunken mind shimmer with heat. She wanted to lick her there. She wanted to be with her, feel her, taste her, fuck her. Sam moaned like a shameless whore. “I am Hers!” she groaned—and her voice had lost all its levity and innocence. All the carefree joy had gone, replaced with something wicked and honeyed and cruel. Jordan knew that there was no more goodness in her, no more humanity. Only sex and lust and fanatical devotion to the powers that owned her flesh.

Somewhere underneath the fog of heat and lust and blind excitement, Jordan felt a deep, foreign sense of loss—but the red rush of pleasure made her push it away. This was right. This was their purpose.

A desperate whimper disturbed them, and Sam turned her head. “Ah, yesss… the interloper,” she said when she noticed Ana, pinned beneath Mina’s inhumanly strong body. Her voice was dripping with cruel mockery and infinite disdain. The young blonde woman was still kicking and fighting—but Mina had her arms twisted behind her back in a police hold, and she wasn’t getting out.

And then, a wonderful skittering sound made Jordan aware of the presence of the Mother’s Gift.

Instinctively, she felt the need to bare herself and open her legs for it, and her excitement spiked like a sudden crash of thunder that resonated deeply in her chest. I must offer my flesh! she thought—before the power that controlled her quieted the notion. A dark fog descended upon her once again, and she relaxed, and her mind sunk back into the red depths. Dimly, she knew that it was not yet her time; the interloper was a threat that needed to be eliminated before they could move on. “She is struggling and dangerous,” Jordan noticed herself say, looking down at the young blonde woman that she dimly knew would become their flesh-servant. Her own voice seemed infinitely far away and utterly detached from her own blood-drunken thoughts. She wasn’t the one who was speaking. She wasn’t even really here at all. “She will serve before this one does,” she said. Far away, some very small part of her remembered how it felt to be on Ana’s side. How it felt to be afraid for her. With her. But as she looked down on the young blonde bitch, her Blood knew to despise her, and there was nothing else in her strong enough to want to overcome it.

“Yes,” flesh-servant and first Herald Mina Park said, utter hatred in her eyes.

“Yes,” flesh-servant and second Herald Samantha Collins agreed. Her hand was back between her legs.

Ana cried bitter tears as they stripped her naked—but the heat in Jordan’s veins roiled pleasantly as her blood-drunk mind grasped the outstretched hands of her purpose and joined in the dance.

Fuck, yes!

Sam licked her lips, enjoying the way the interloper’s tits fell out when they pulled her shirt off. Sam was hornier than she had ever been in her pathetic old life; there was no more disgusting goodness or decency left in her heart to tame her—only pure uncut lust and desire. No more stupid little voice in the back of her head to stop her from enjoying the thrill of violence and domination—no more bloody empathy and pity to dampen the red-hot lust that burned in her serving flesh. Fuck yes, it was so much better.

The interloper screamed with fury as Sam pulled off the woman’s black panty hose, then went on to rip off her undies, revealing the helpless pussy that would soon become their desecrated temple. “No! Stop this, you rotten demons!!!”

Sam only smiled. "Your holes are ours, whore! Your flesh will serve!" she said as she reveled in the sight of the struggling, kicking bitch that was theirs to claim.

"I'll never serve Lilith!" screamed the young woman as Sam forced her knees apart. "I'll never be like you!!!"

Sam could smell her sweat and musk. The sight and odour made her hungry for sex. She was so fucking wet. She wanted to rape the interloper with her tongue, make her scream and abuse her—but she knew that she’d have to wait; that bitch’s body belonged to the Gift. “Let me go!!! Stop this, and your deaths will be painless!" the interloper screamed, and Sam’s pussy moistened even more. She could taste the fear underneath all that rage. Yesss! Bargain and beg all you want, bitch! she thought and licked her lips. When we're done, you’ll beg to lick my cunt!

The Gift had already begun circling them like a black chitinous shark, claws making a flurry of soft staccato taps on the linoleum, like a drum roll building up the tension, growing louder, growing more intense as it approached. Sam had to sit between the interloper’s kicking legs in order to hold them down and the Gift had to crawl across the woman’s body to find the place between her trembling thighs where it would enter her—to make her serve.

The interloper winced and struggled wonderfully as the demon perched on top of her helpless body, and the disgust in her face filled Sam with violent satisfaction. Yes, bitch. Suffer! She swirled her tongue around her watering mouth, and then spit on the Interloper’s pussy. The gob of saliva slowly beaded down the length of her slit, and the helpless bitch made a revulsed noise. “You’re welcome, whore,” Sam said, smiling cruelly. The gift probied across her hairy mons, found her scent, and turned itself over. It was ready to strike.

"The Order will destroy you! You will never win! You'll never—AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!"

The Gift shot downward and around like a whip and snatched on, and the interloper let out an ear-shattering scream of pain as it clawed and pushed itself into her cunt, invading her with a gloriously wet and disgusting sound. Yes! Sam thought, and as the bitch beneath her screamed in agony, Sam’s mind screamed with arousal and purpose. She felt like she might get off just from looking at it. She had never felt such a complete and utter sense of excitement and purpose, of being exactly where she had to be. She was perfect now. This was perfect. She served, and she felt no more pity, no more compassion, no more humanity holding her back.

She had never believed in the human soul, or some inherent goodness that lived within people—until she had felt it being burned out of her. Now she did believe it. She’d had a soul—and it was gone! The moment it had died had been the single best moment in the history of the universe.

The woman beneath her still had one. She still had a conscience. Humanity. Love. Compassion. Empathy. Shame.

For now.

The interloper's scream of agony dragged on, and Sam felt a moment of confusion. Why isn’t she cumming? By now, Sam had felt nothing but the burning pleasure of the Mother’s Gift. By now, Sam had already had her first orgasm. Why wasn’t the bitch moaning with pleasure? As if to answer her question, Jordan spoke: “She is resistant to the Mother’s venom. It must be how she survived her fight with the Gifts at the Source.” Another scream of agony. Sam enjoyed them, but some part of her was worried now that something might go wrong. Not that she’d care if the bitch died—but it would be a waste of fertile flesh, and of a Gift.

“What do we do?” She looked at Mina, who seemed as concerned as her.

“I—” Another scream cut the air, interrupting them. “I don’t know,” Mina said, arms crossed, brows deeply furrowed.

“We can do nothing,” Jordan suddenly said. Her voice was calm, but it carried a beautiful and terrible authority that went far beyond sound. Her voice resonated in their heads. Both Heralds looked at her. “She has been anointed with the filth of divine rites.” Jordan continued. Her eyes were alive with a deep glow. Sam understood. Jordan was possessed with the spirit of the Mother, her mindless thralldom granting her a deeper connection to the resonance in her blood that controlled her. She was the speaking voice of the darkness that permeated everything. She was the Mother’s voice. “We do not need to do anything,” she said. “Her flesh will serve even if her soul is warded. But no soul can bear to exist in a corrupted body. She will only know pain until she willingly opens herself to the Gift.” She looked at the groaning, mewling woman. With a scream, the interloper convulsed, almost breaking loose from their hold.

“The only one that can end your pain is you, Ana. Give in.”

Ana screamed in agony. This was hell. She was in hell. Everything was pain. Pain that she hadn’t imagined—couldn’t have imagined. She felt the demon cut her insides like a spinning saw blade—but that was only half of it. It was not merely her physical body that was in agony. There was something else inside of her, screaming and twisting and dying. It was as if she had just now discovered an entirely new part of herself—because that part of her was being stabbed with red-hot knives. She felt it crushing her and burning her in a place that was not her physical body but a wholly different place. She knew exactly what it was. She felt the Evil pushing and gnawing against it, trying to eat it, trying to stab into it and infect it and rip it apart. She would not let it. She would not let it have her soul.

She endured it, screaming and groaning and dying. Surely, she must be dying. She had to be. She had to. Anything but to serve them. Anything but giving in. It was the only thing that—

A burst of pain ended her world for a moment, and she lost consciousness. But she woke up again, and there was only more agony. She bore it, moaning and panting and screaming, because she had to, because it was the only thing she could do. It was the last thing she could do. Not to become one of them. Not to give up the Order. Not to betray everything she had worked her entire life to protect. Not to—

The world turned white with blinding pain, and she heard herself scream, and it sounded nothing like her. It didn’t even sound human. No! She was still human! She had been anointed with the sacred rites of the Order. She was pure! Nothing could touch her soul!

The demons around her were speaking, but the pain was too intense for her to understand their words. A bolt of lightning seemed to arc through her, and she felt her body almost tear itself loose from their grips.

“The only one that can end your pain is you, Ana. Give in.” someone said. Jordan.

“Never,” she screamed. “I’ll rather—AAAAAAHH!!! —die!”

“You will not die,” Jordan said. “Your body will become the Mother’s tool, and you will be trapped in it. The pain will go on and on until you give in.”

“No!” she screamed. It was a lie! They were trying to tempt her, trying to make her give herself up. But it was a lie! It must be! No God would allow a universe this cruel. She would die, and she was certain that it would not be long now. She only had to endure a little longer! Only a little longer! She bit down on the screaming, boiling fire under her skin, groaning and panting—and she could feel it now. That thing was completely inside her, and she felt its obscene, evil presence in her lower body like serrated knives. It must have ripped her to shreds. Surely, she would die. She had to. Please! She would die. She would—

A terrible spike of pain arced through her, so much worse than anything she had ever experienced. She screamed as the world tumbled around her and the pain doubled, tripled, exploded—and through the agony, she knew that her heart had stopped.

And in that final moment, as the world around her blurred and dimmed, she realized that she was still suprised that it had actually happened. They had killed her.

Oh God.

And then, everything ended.

But it didn’t end.

There was a moment of timeless nothing, and then the pain returned—but now she was alone with it. She tried to scream as the agony returned, worse than before—but nothing happened. She was looking at the world through far-away eyes, behind a curtain of red-hot pain—but her lips stayed closed. Her very being was on fire and her heart was pumping boiling lead—but her body lay there calmly, unmoving, and she was trapped inside of it like a spring rose in a wildfire.

Suddenly, she felt her body sit up, and every movement of every sinew was blinding, stinging pain, every contracting muscle was throbbing with agony. Her limbs moved jerkily and erratically, as if she was being puppeteered with razor wire.

“The body serves,” her mouth said, and the very air in her throat was on fire as the raspy, cursed words forced themselves out of her, and they were rough-hewn and lopsided like left-handed drawings. It didn’t sound like her at all. She had no control at all over any of it. With every breath, with every move, she felt her nerves and her veins scream and burn. Somewhere, impossibly far away, a tear rolled down her cheek. She tried to scream, but there was only silence. Her eyes looked up at Jordan—and the young, dark-skinned woman bent down and looked back, staring deep into Ana’s eyes. It was hard to even tell that it was happening. She seemed like a thousand miles away, separated by an ocean of boiling agony.

“Let go, Ana,” Jordan said with an empty voice, her face an expressionless mask, “And the pain will end.”

Ana wanted to cry. She wanted to scream. She wanted to die.

But she couldn’t. The pain raked through her soul like rusty knives. This was hell. This was—

A blinding burst in her groin, like being raped with hot irons

Her eyes closed shut as the pain overwhelmed her once again. She would never be free from this, she—

Strips of skin coming off, her eyeballs being pierced

Unless she—

Molten steel pooling in her stomach and burning through her.

She couldn’t bear this. Not for the rest of her life. She couldn’t. She couldn’t. She couldn’t... She—

God, please forgive me!

She gave in—and in an instant, everything changed. In one moment the pain and fear was everything there was—and then, for a heartbeat that lasted a lifetimed, she felt herself split in two. Time seemed to slow, and for a brief eternity she was both the struggling, dying soul as well as the Mother's willing flesh. Her willing body screamed with ecstasy even as her soul cried in agony.

The frozen moment lasted long enough for her to realize how much she hated that part of herself. Her goodness. Her shame. Her humanity. Her filthy fucking soul.

I spit on you, you pathetic piece of shit! she thought. She despised it! It needed to die! Die! Die!!!

And then, it did—and all her pain disappeared. There was only one thing left for her to feel.

“YESSS!!!” she screamed, and her deafening voice set the air on fire like a dragon’s roar. There was only one thing to do now, and she did it hungrily, without hesitation and without regret. She finally welcomed the wonderful dark pleasure that already surrounded her and penetrated her, and she let herself be consumed by it—let herself be filled by it. She wanted it more than life! It tasted like honey and blood and something far sweeter and far better and far more forbidden. She swallowed it up with insatiable greed and lust, and a perverse joy overcame her as she realized how much better she had just become. It was so easy to see now. So obvious. So good. So hot!

Yes!!! Her soul was dead! She was free from that pathetic weakness! Free from her pathetic old self! She was no longer caged! No longer shackled!

Fuck, yes! She felt the burning darkness inside her—at her core, where it belonged. Yes! No more weakness. No more love. No more soul! Only the evil that had consumed her and claimed her.

And in that moment, as she realized this, she experienced something she had never experienced before. Something which the cursed Order had kept from her. Something she had kept from herself in blind obedient celibacy. She felt the last pathetic remnants of that forever-hated goodness and compassion within her burn away in the incandescence of the Mother’s gift, and she drowned in searing, spiteful pleasure, and for the first time in her life, she came.

When the all-consuming orgasm had finally faded, Ana opened her eyes and smiled. There was no longer such a pathetic thing as happiness inside her, but there was satisfaction, and pleasure, and the selfish joy of knowing that the Mother of all demons was no longer Ana’s enemy. She was her God!

She looked up at her masters with burning eyes and the sight of the Mother’s Heralds filled her with awe, envy, and ravenous desire. They were the chosen of the Mother, and Ana was proud to have become their whore. Everything that she was, and had been—it was all theirs to use now. She sat back up and looked into the faces of the demonic servants that had claimed her soul and body. She proclaimed the blistering truth that illuminated her being:

“I am Hers!”

Her words were an urgent whisper, and she sounded husky and slick with zealous understanding and absolute purpose. Her pussy screamed with the sum of every bit of arousal she had ever denied herself in her worthless life. She wanted to be touched and licked and penetrated. She wanted to cum and cream and lose herself in the sinful pleasure of being the Mother’s soulless thrall, like she had when she had been reborn as Her creature.

“I am willing flesh,” she said firmly, and the unbelievable gravity of those words pulled her hands down to her swollen clit—and she began urgently rubbing her raw and aching nub as violent fantasies of sex and corruption filled her blackened heart. She felt the sticky, bloody wetness between her legs where she had been claimed, and the Gift’s wonderful presence inside her was like a raging fire of lust. She excitedly thought about how it had raped her and consumed her soul and the thought made her push her fingers deeper into her dripping cunt. Yes! It had melded with her flesh like black ink staining clear water. Her blood was thick with it! Her flesh was tainted and corrupted, and her desecrated womb was home to demonic blood! Soon, there would be no more border where it ended and her body began! Her flesh was already healing, and her regrowing body would be as demonic as it was human!

She looked down at herself, and saw that her nipples had turned dark at the tips of her tits. She looked down at her abdomen, down at her pussy. It was all Hers now—glistening skin above willing flesh! Her body served! Her flesh served! She was carrying the Mother’s seed! Through her flesh, so many souls would be claimed! She would birth so many demons! Fangs and pincers and sharp legs, black and hard and evil, to claim them and consume them and corrupt them like they had claimed Ana!

Yes! Make them serve! Serve like I did! Soulless flesh-servants! The raw thought filled her with insatiable lust. Yesss! She would kill for Her. She would rape and torture Her enemies and make them serve like she served!

“The Order will die!” she hissed, and in her cruel pitiless mind, she imagined herself walking through the halls of their ancient library, setting their worthless books on fire. Her pussy screamed with sadistic lust. She imagined killing them—driving her Grandfather’s blade through their hearts and watching the light in their eyes go out. She imagined the women of the Order, crying in agony until they finally gave in—like she had. Yes! Their souls would be consumed by the Gifts that Ana birthed, and their flesh would serve! Ana saw it all in her mind’s eye, feeling no more pity, no more compassion, no more love for the people she had called Brothers and Sisters. They were nothing more than flesh ready to be harvested.

“We will destroy them!” she said with a lust-crazed smile—but then, a sudden realization made her stop rubbing herself:

The Order is coming!

No! No! Fuck no! She herself had called for them—and she hadn’t heard from them in hours! A sudden panic gripped her. How late is it?! How long did it take to claim my flesh?!

“I must contact the Order at once,” she announced urgently, her voice suddenly frantic and cold. No. No. No! This couldn’t be happening! They were so fucking close to claiming Jordan's flesh! “They are on their way here! Where is my phone?!”

The Second Herald, the one that had been Samantha Collins, handed it to her. Ana took it, and immediately saw that she had four missed calls, and a list of text messages.


The cruel irony punched her in the gut, and the bottomless hatred in her evil heart spilled over like a poisoned well. Of course! Now was the moment those worthless fucks finally showed up—just when Ana had been freed from her pathetic soul and their despicable crusade! Just when the Mother’s work was just about to be done!

With a knot of rage in her chest, she called back. She had to keep them away, sabotage them, betray them, lure them in so they could kill them and rape them and destroy them and claim Jordan and start the Constellation! She had never felt such burning hatred. She had to swallow it down, for now. Soon, she would taste their blood. Soon, she would celebrate their deaths. But now it was time for her to pretend. To lie.

“Sister Ana!” said a stern voice on the other line. It was Brother Josiah, the head of the Order. “Where are you?! We tried to reach you! We have arrived. I am at the library, and Brother Marius is at—”

“—I did it!” Ana the Scholar said, her voice heavy and raspy with exhaustion and fear. “I destroyed the source!”

“You... you did?!”

There was a long pause. Of course, they hadn’t expected her to succeed on her own. They were right. She hadn’t.

“Yes,” said the Scholar, a deep weariness in her voice. “I tracked it down to the library. The source was there, but I destroyed it, and many demonic messengers with it. The fight nearly killed me. The rest of them fled and scattered. I’ve been hunting them down ever since. But I found them. They are destroyed.”

“But I can still feel the resonance,” said the voice on the other end.

“You have an amulet of Jordan with you?”

“Of course I do,” he said.

Fuck! Die in pain, you cock-sucking piece of shit.

“I must have missed something,” she said.

“Yes. Very much so. I feel a Herald walking the Earth! I cannot tell if it is only one, but I pray that there aren’t two.”

Ana looked at the two naked women next to her, and her pussy tightened involuntarily. “No!” she said. “I— I quelled the source. There was no time for them to converge.”

“Quiet, Ana. You are obviously wrong,” Brother Josiah said, an edge of anger and frustration in his voice. “You say that you cleansed the demons, yet the Evil still lingers noticeably in the air! Are you so weakly attuned to your amulet that you cannot feel it, sister? I would have thought that your Grandfather had taught you better. He would be disappointed.”

Oh you have no idea, you worthless bastard.

“I apologize,” she said demurely.

“I have also questioned local police, and it seems that you failed to keep your presence even remotely secret.”


“Be silent! You are lucky that we arrived as quickly as we did. Otherwise, there would be no one to get this under control. Are you at least sure that you counted correctly when you destroyed the escaped demons?”

“Yes, Brother,” she said. “But... I have been injured.”

God have mercy— and you are only telling me now?!

“I am in stable condition,” she said, “But I cannot walk. The demon’s claws have maimed my legs. I need someone to come for me. I could call an ambulance, but—”

“Are you out of your bloody mind?!” the Brother said. “And expose yourself even further?! Police are looking for you! Sister Leah will come for you and heal your wounds. Then, you will come to me, and you will offer your Amulet of Jordan to someone more qualified than yourself!”

“Yes, Brother Josiah,” she said. “I will send her a message with my location.”

“Good. Be quick about it. I need my Healer back here as soon as possible.”

The line went dead.

Ana spat on the floor. She could not wait to see him die. She hoped that she would get to be the one to do it. She gritted her teeth.

Fuck. This wasn’t over yet. The Order was here. What were they going to do now?

She looked at the last of the women present that wasn’t a flesh-servant yet: The Herald Jordan Wright. The young woman was staring at nothing. She was mindless flesh—ready to be claimed. It was so fucking hot. Ana’s mind burned with famished desire. She wanted to see Jordan raped by her Gift. She wanted to see her soul die. She wanted to see her rise as a flesh-servant and complete the Constellation. She wanted to see the three Heralds ascend. Her aching pussy throbbed with desperate need as the unmet desire in her loins simmered and bubbled, unstroked, unfucked, unfulfilled—so maddeningly close to completion.

But Ana knew that they couldn’t. Not yet. Not with the Order about. The Mother’s primal knowledge filled her being, and she knew that there wasn’t enough time.

“Our power will not be great enough to corrupt a Healer of the Order by touch and sight alone,” she said, her voice bitter with frustration. “Even with all three Heralds as her flesh-servants. If the Order find us out, we will be vanquished. There might only be eight of them left, but they have a Healer, and Warriors far more powerful than I am. When the Constellation happens, they will sense it—and they will find us before the Mother has risen. We cannot proceed until they are dead, or their flesh serves.”

The Heralds hissed in discontent, and Ana could feel all-permeating demonic power of the sanctum sour at her core. The need to fulfill their purpose burned in all their blood like a constant hum and not following that urge felt like stopping masturbation right before orgasm. They had been so fucking close! The Heralds were all gathered, and a Gift was skittering at their feet! Claiming Jordan would be so easy and hot. She was right there, flesh open and ready to be claimed!!!

But it wasn’t to be.

“We are lucky in a way,” Ana said after a moment, biting her lower lip in thought, shaking her head. “They are sending their Healer, and there is one Gift we can still use.”

Sam scoffed. Her eyes were burning with impotent rage. “How is that going to help us?” she asked. “One more flesh-servant won’t strengthen the resonance enough to be able to overwhelm them, and you can’t walk among the enemy.”

Mina nodded. “Yes. They wear the Dead, as you did—the amulets of Jordan. They’ll know. They’ll feel the darkness within you.”

“They will not,” Jordan suddenly boomed, and they all turned to her. Her voice seemed to reverberate in their heads. Again, she had become the voice of their Mistress. “They will not—Because I shall release you from my power.”

There was a moment of pregnant silence. None of them dared speak.

“Does the Order know that these ’Amulets of Jordan’ are not drawn to demonic blood itself, but to My resonance within it?”

“No,” Ana said, smiling wickedly as she understood.

“As I had suspected. Good,” the Mother said through Jordan’s mouth. “Your flesh is mine. I can shape you to my every wish. Once the Healer’s flesh serves as yours does, I can twist and bend both of your minds to believe what they need to believe, and they will hold their shape for as long as is required.”

Ana licked her lips. Yes! Shape me! Use me! Make me betray them! Make me kill them!

“You shall become unmoored from Me, unaware and unsuspecting. Your lies cannot be seen through if you believe them yourself. You will become seeds of darkness, sleeping, waiting—and when the time is right, and you are ready to birth my gifts, my darkness will awaken you, and you will slit their filthy throats.”

Jordan offered her hand to Ana, and she took it. The Mother lifted her to her feet, and Ana groaned when she put her weight on her still-injured leg. She shifted her center of balance to be able to stand.

“We walk on the knife’s edge” Jordan said, and the resonance tased acrid in the air around them. The Mother was displeased. “We are even closer to defeat than you think. There is terrible risk in using my last Gift like this. Yet flesh-servant Ana is right. Once Jordan is claimed, the Constellation cannot be delayed, and we will be even more vulnerable.”

The Mother’s servants considered this with bitter frowns, but there was no questioning their Goddess’s word. Jordan looked at each of them.

“Our only chance is to beat the Enemy through subterfuge. Make the Healer serve,” Jordan said.

“Yes, Mistress,” Ana said, and sent a location to sister Leah.

Brother Josiah Brown ended the call, said a short prayer, then called Brother Marius.

“I spoke to sister Ana,” he said, his face grim. For a long moment, he could not bring himself to say what he was about to say. Grief threatened to tear apart his heart. His lip quivered, but he pressed them together.

I’m so sorry Ana. I’ve failed you.

He had promised her Grandfather that he would make sure that she was strong, to make sure that she was safe. That was why he’d been so strict with her. That was why he’d never cut her any slack. So that she would reach the potential he’d know she could reach.

...And she would have! She had exceeded his expectations every day, growing into a bright, beautiful fond of knowledge, even making new discoveries in the ancient texts, finding clues to artifacts and hidden places of divine power that had eluded everyone before her. And still, he had kept on relentlessly driving her and pushing her, because he knew that one day, she’d become the best and wisest of them all. She’ll get there, he’d known. And when she’d reached her potential, he would have told her; one day he would have told her how much he cared about her.

But he’d put it off. She’d still been young—inexperienced. Sometimes rash, often awkward, there had been so many things for her still to learn, still to improve in. And until that day, he had told himself, he mustn’t relent in pushing her—to hone her, to sharpen her, to bring out her potential. He had never doubted that she would be able to achieve greatness if there was someone there to guide her.

But there was one thing that Ana had never been able to do: Tell a convincing lie.

He had known that he had lost her the moment he’d heard her speak.

“Brother?” came Marius’s voice on the other end. Josiah swallowed heavily. May God’s mercy be upon her.

“Sister Ana has fallen to the enemy,” he said. “The demon pretending to be her will soon contact sister Leah with her location, no doubt to lure her into a trap.”

A deathly silence followed. “Are you certain, Brother?” Marius asked, finally.

“Yes,” Josiah answered. “And we will do everything to get her back.”

“Get her back?! Impossible. Her soul is lost!”

Josiah felt anger rise within him. “I have read the ancient texts, Warrior! Have you?!“ he yelled. “She is no common mortal! She has been anointed with divine protection; no demonic force can ever destroy her soul. Her body may become possessed, but her soul is still trapped in there, suffering. Every minute she suffers, until we cleanse her of the demon that has taken ownership of her body—or, at the very least, end her suffering by ending her life.”

“Dear God have mercy,” Marius said. “We must—”

“Yes, we must.” Brother Josiah said gravely. “Here is how we will proceed.”

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