The Mask I Wear
I slowly crept through the maze of corridors, my arrow nocked and ready to fire. The poison that coated its tip glistened in the meager light of the sconces on the walls. It was a concoction of my very own. Many years of research went into its brewing, as well as months of gathering the rare ingredients.
Operating on my own was not my specialty. I was not used to engaging an enemy without someone to be, if nothing else, a distraction. But Thoren, that stubborn, cocky paladin, had insisted that we split up to better cover the labyrinth that our meager group had found ourselves in. It was unsettling, but no matter. I was confident in my reflexes and skills. If I were to run into who I was looking for, I could surely handle her.
However, I was beginning to doubt my ability to find my way. I seemed to be trapped in an endless grid of hallways, evidently with no landmarks and no way for me to get back to where I started.
I reached an intersection, and a cold draft blew through the previously still halls, causing the lights to flicker. A shiver went down my back, and a sense of dread and expectancy came over me.
Just then, a woman's voice boomed through the halls. "You there." I turned this way and that, aiming down each of the four corridors, looking for the source of the voice, but found none. Each hall was empty, fading into the distance. The voice came again. "You're not like the others, are you?"
I turned once more and I finally saw her, walking calmly towards me. She was draped in robes made from some kind of black scaled skin, likely dragon. Her ebony hair flowed down her back in perfect waves, framing her pale white face, and she wore a polished black crown. Her back was straight, and her gaze level, I couldn’t tell if she was taller than me or not, but either way, she seemed to tower over me.
"You're not doing this for vengeance, or justice, or to protect some innocent person.” She continued at her steady pace, and with each step she took, her shoes struck the polished tile floor with loud taps that echoed throughout the halls. “You've worn your mask well, but none can hide from me."
She reached the edge of the crossing and came to a halt before me. She was now five feet away and my arrow was leveled perfectly at her chest. I was tempted to let the arrow fly before she had a chance to say anything more, and just as easily be done with it all then and there, so tempted…
"You're not going to kill me.” She said confidently. “Not yet. Not until you've heard what I have to offer." Indeed, she knew me well. She started to slowly circle around the edge of the meager space. I kept my feet firmly in place and watched her as she made her way around me, her robe trailing behind her.
"All you want is just that. You want your way. You want your thirst quenched, your belly filled, your feet groveled at, and your lust slaked. Perhaps if you killed me and rejoined your 'friends', you would have that."
With each venomous word that dripped out of her mouth, I grew more impressed at her knowledge of me. She passed in front of me, continuing her entrancing stride.
"But you would be forever burdened by a lie." The words met my ears with harsh honesty. "The lie that you are virtuous and good. The lie that you are loyal. If that mask slips just once, you will never be trusted again, and it will all be for naught. I can offer you more. Something better." She halted before me, and I realized that I was hanging on her every word, and had allowed myself to lower my bow.
"I can give you what you TRULY desire, without lies or deceit. You can truly be yourself and have what ever you want." Without hesitation, she shed her outer robe, revealing a slim, black silk dress underneath. "Anything at all." She slowly turned away from me, and I observed her immaculately curved silhouette as she did. She removed her crown from her head and dropped it on to the ground, where it landed on her robe with a dull ‘clang’. Then she slid the sleeves of her dress off her shoulders. It glissaded down to her hips, and she swayed them a little so that the dress fell completely, revealing her flawless, snow-white skin. I could already tell from looking at her back that her body was perfectly sculpted.
She turned once again to face me, fearlessly and completely revealing herself, and I was dumbstruck by the sight that was now before me, which confirmed what I already deduced. My eyes started on her face, where she had onyx eyes and plump, red lips. My eyes traveled lower, down her throat and past her collar. On her chest were two round, firm and perfect breasts, and her nipples were perked in the cold air. Looking lower still, my gaze slid across her slim belly, and finally halted at her core, which she made no effort to shield from me. It was almost too perfect for me to believe.
"I can give you all that you want. Your cup will never be empty, our coffers will always be bursting, legions will bow before you, and your bed will always be warm. All you have to do is join me." She held out her right hand towards me. I knew that if I took her hand, it would bind a magical contract, and she would instantly be able to track my party members through my meager bond with them. There would be no going back. No returning from such a path.
I dropped my bow and arrow and took her hand. It felt cold. She held my hand firmly, and again, a chill breeze swept throughout the castle, and I heard the cries of my former allies echo through the halls as they perished, while she pulled herself close to me, embracing me and bringer her face close to mind to give me a deep kiss. I could only just hear the sound of the blood that poured onto the stone and into the cracks in between the tiles.
I didn't care. I was relieved to be rid of them.
My hands quickly found her hips, and she pressed her chest against mine. She undid the belts around my leather tunic, and my quiver and dagger both fell to the ground. Next, she lifted my shirt over my head, exposing my chest. She pulled away from the kiss, smiled wickedly, and then gestured with a sweeping motion towards a door that had suddenly appeared in one of the halls. I picked her up and carried her through the door into her bedchamber.
In the days that followed, dark clouds covered much of the world. Kingdoms fell and castles were burned. And through it all, we both stayed true to our promises. We were unstoppable. Soon, entire countries surrendered and agreed to serve us. We went from King and Queen to Emperor and Empress.
My one regret was that our archer, Marianne, was slain. I still fondly remember her energy, determination, and elegance. I had lusted after her for so long, and had tried to court her in the past, but she remained loyal to her deceased husband. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve her body, which my Empress has graciously protected from rot and decay. Marianne is now completely at my disposal. They both are. Even as I write this, I look to my side and see my Empress' beautifully slumbering figure beside me.
For now, I'll remain loyal. I'm not sure how long it will last. I can see no reason to betray my Empress at the moment. But if the time ever comes, I still have half a vial of poison left. It should be more than enough.