The Shattered Realms: Rise of Zulguarde

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Chapter 5 Of Darkness, Magic, and Stars

Valene placed a thick rock on her inner arm. She flexed and her bulging muscles made the scales shift. The rock was grounded to dust. The Dragoness hefted her maul up and placed it before Drakar. She pointed at the handle. Slowly he grasped it. The metal was warm to the touch and the grip was so large that not even both of his hands could hold it. He tried to shove it over but it did not budge. Beautiful bone white engravings of dragon skulls crested the head of the weapon, making it appear as an eight headed hydra. Deep and intricate grooves expanded along its sides, leading all the way back to the spiked hand grip.

“This is my trusted weapon Hate Weaver.” Grinned Valene.

“How much does this thing weigh?” He panted out of breathe.

“Two thousand pounds. It is made of Lunar Stone the hardest, most durable material in all of the realms. It is also the most dense which means it is the heaviest.”

“And you just flaunt this thing around with one arm like it is a wooden club?” Said Drakar, a new sense of admiration for the scaled woman filled his face.

“You make me sound like some kind of barbarian. Honestly Master that is just mean. I am a walking castle.” Sniggered Valene.

“What is Lunar Stone and where do you get it?” Asked Ciara.

“Lunar Stone is enchanted Adamantium. During the forging process powerful spells and incantations are infused with the molten metal. Once it hardens it can never be melted again unless by a fire elemental. A powerful one. It requires fires so hot that it can only be forged by powerful Fire Elementals. There are some Dwarves that have Fire Elementals bound to their smithies and so they are able to make them as well. In fact this maul, Hate Weaver, was forged by Dwarves and used to slay Dragons during the wars in the Air Realm. I acquired it during my travels long ago, it was in a Dragon's hoard that I claimed.”

“Where do you find Adamantium?” Asked Drakar.

“Adamantium is a rare mineral that only occurs deep within the earth or on the moons. When the third moon shattered it rained Adamantium from the skies. Large chunks of it fell upon every realm and made the races aware of such a potent material. A handful of raw Adamantium can be sold for upwards of a fifty platinum pieces. A suit of full plate armor would cost upwards of two thousand platinum pieces. Such things are very rare and only people of great importance such as generals would have access to them.”

“Then how rare is Lunar Stone?”

“Priceless.” Flatly replied Valene. “Wars have been fought over artifacts made of Lunar Stone. Only the most skilled smiths can forge it and they need the help of powerful magic casters. Your mother Shewolf had a sword gifted to her by Sintress that was made of Lunar Stone and forged in the Goddess's own blood. The Devourer of Souls, a weapon filled with such dark power not even Lunar Stone will escape a clash undamaged.”

“I still do not understand how did my mother lose?” Asked Drakar. “I mean she was so powerful.”

Valene sighed, gazing into the fire. “I have never met the revered Shewolf in person but from what I have heard of her final battle it was close. She slew the wretched Phoenix King, an army of paladins, and even an assassination contingent of Ascended all with the help of Magnum. They were here scouting it out for the coming invasion. The battle actually created the Scarred Land to our west. It is a dead zone where no life will ever grow again and those not filled with darkness become violently ill just by entering.”

“Then how did she lose if she killed everyone?” He asked looking to her expectantly.

“We are not entirely sure how she got cursed or even what it did but it must have been an imprisonment spell created by a god. Though Magnum was there he died during the confrontation and did not see the end. What we do know though is that she did not die, if she had then she would have been transported back to the Shadow Realm and been reborn almost instantly.”

“Wait you said the Phoenix King died then how is he still leading the humans?”

“Oh him... well he reincarnates. Roughly every two hundred years or so he gets killed either by old age or fighting something or other. Normally humans only live to be about thirty years old, fifty if they are lucky but since he is a Demigod he is filled with Lord Solar's power and it keeps him rather spry. After his death the humans generally descend into anarchy for five to fifteen years. He is born again as a child from his blood line. Since no one knows from whom among his descendants he will be born the greedy humans start to posture and position themselves politically. This is the Human's most vulnerable time not only do they not have their demigod but they are also divided and fighting amongst one another. Unless every single branch of his family tree is burned away he will return. The family that bore the bastard becomes the new royal family and move to Dawn Spire's Opal Palace if they are not already occupying it.”

“I am surprised you are so knowledgeable about this.”

Valene had a forlorn look. She apprehended for a moment then explained. “Well about that some of his blood flowed in mien own veins. I was not a princess for nothing. However I believe that my curse has eroded away all that was human even his wretched blood. The other reason why I know about him is because he is the one who killed me. He is the reason I am now a doll and in the service of Sin. You do not think any differently of me now, do you Master?”

Drakar's smile grew wide and his admiration overflowed. “Wow!” He exclaimed. “It took a Demigod to kill you. You really are strong!”

She blushed, scratching the side of her face nervously. “I suppose you could look at it that way. I am not that strong.”

Malissa hopped over like a bunny. She bounced with her hands on her head like ears. “Why so red Valy?”

“Nothing to do with you.” Snapped the Dragoness.

“Oh does Valy want a big old hug? She does doesn't she. She sure sounds like she does.” Giggled Malissa.

She bounded closer and Valene fled. Her wings spread and she shot into the sky. Malissa stood gazing up with a bubbly expression.

“Booo!” She yelled. “You have to land some time and when you do I will snuggle you so hard!”

Valene however was glowering down from the top of a nearby tree. “I don't need a hug, especially not from you.”

“Valy is no fun today.” Pouted Malissa.

The two quarreled for what seemed hours before Malissa relented. She sat with a sullen expression, staring into the fire. Sin had long since fallen asleep. The rabble of her dolls did not seem to bother her one bit. She lay in a rather awkward looking position, half sprawled across the rock she had claimed. Such a sight reminded him of the Nekomar and their ability to sleep just about anywhere. Daemyn and Azra were sleeping soundly in bed rolls. The night was still with only the crackle of the fire disturbing the silence. Drakar lay back gazing at the moons high above. They glowed softly yet they were the only things in the inky abyss. The thought that they must be lonely crossed his mind. His arms and legs felt like they were made of stone. Sore and tender his muscles wanted nothing more than to rest but there was no respite against the constant pressure of the circlets.

Maeve sat beside the fire her wide eyes staring at the sky, “It is always so strange this sky with no stars. It seems so empty.”

Drakar glanced at the moons. “All of the moons are out. How is it empty?”

“No, no you would not know about stars. No one in these forsaken realms knows about stars.”

“Then what are stars?” Asked Drakar.

“How to explain to such primitives?” Asked the Nekomar rubbing her forehead with her foot. “Well they look like little lights in the night sky, but actually they are distant suns. These suns have planets that orbit them, these arrangements are called Solar Systems. Where we came from the stars filled the darkness. Yet here it is as though we are trapped within a void. Alone and secluded, we cannot even hear Eve's voice.”

“Who is we?”

“Why we is me of course.” Sniggered Maeve. “For you see this body is one of countless. We are but a fragment of Eve. Eve is called the Brood Mother but we cannot hear her, no, no not for five thousand years. All has been silent since we awoke here.”

“How did you get here?” Wondered Drakar. “What exactly are you?”

“We are a fragment of Eve, is comprehending this beyond your primitive brain's capabilities? To put it simply we are but a cat. We do not remember how we came here.”

Drakar stared at Maeve while she scratched her ear with her foot. He was about to ask again when Malissa interjected. “Don't mind her, she is just crazy. Stars? Who would believe such insanity. There is no being called Eve and you are just a slime that thinks it is a cat. What you really are Maeve is the snuggliest pet ever.”

She sat with a strange smile spanning her face. The cat girl seemed to mull it over a few times before replying. “We are a not this so called slime, we are Eve. We will find the way home.”

“See?” Said Malissa, “Completely nutters and that means something coming from me. Just go back to being a cat and stop acting like you are something more.”

A low thud echoed rhythmically from the forest, it drew closer and louder. Magnum appeared through the foliage accompanied by Faith. The witch held a basket full of strangely colored plants and glowing mushrooms. Magnum procured various devices from storage. Faith picked through the gathered items. She set a bowl down and placed several plants in it, then began to grind them into a paste.

“Faith you would know, what is with Maeve?” Asked Drakar.

“Maeve?” The Witch let out a long sigh. “Talking about stars and Eve again? Maeve fell out of the sky shortly after the third moon shattered. Originally she was a blob of green goo but then a Nekomar got too close and was eaten. Maeve can change her shape to anything she has eaten. Where she fell from we have no idea. Sin took pity upon the crazed creature, taking her in. Though she might look like that she is actually the strongest out of all of us here. Eve is apparently a being of such power that the Gods look like ants in comparison, if her crazed ramblings can be believed. This Eve has conquered things known as galaxies, countless solar systems clustered together, and absorbed all life in its path. If one were to believe Maeve there is an endless universe out there filled with planets and creatures. Apparently we are all primitives here and there is something she calls Technology, she liked the dragons and dwarves though. If I recall correctly she said they are promising but still comparable to beating rocks together for internet, I am not sure what this means. As far as I can tell this is all simply her overactive imagination.”

“That explains it I suppose, should I just ignore her?”

“Just indulge her if she starts ranting, sometimes she says concise things.” Said Faith returning to her alchemy.

“You know magic right?” Asked Drakar watching her rotating hand.

“I know much. Magic is among my forte why do you ask?” Replied Faith giving him a glance.

“I thought magic could heal wounds? So then why did you need herbs?”

“I know dark magics. I can heal the dead but not the living. Light magic heals the living and hurts the dead. So for your little friend if you want to keep her among the living then we must use non magical means, I would only hurt her if I used my magic on her.”

“Why can you not cast light magic?”

“Magic is derived from mana. We create mana from our life force. If you use too much you will be fatigued and collapse if you push it too far. If you have mana withdrawals, drinking potions or resting will regenerate your mana supply. If it is too severe you will be unconscious for days. Don't let that scare you though, the more you use magic the higher your mana capacity will expand. I for instance can cast thousands of lower tier spells, hundreds of high rank spells, or five god given spells, such as Lunar Flare or World Wake before exhausting my mana pool for one day. However what we can do with this power is dependent upon what spells we learn. To empower spells or use the most powerful we swear fealty to the gods, if your devotion to a particular god is strong it will warp your mana's energy. Since I serve Luna, Moltaer, and Sintress I can cast dark magics that empower the undead and can manipulate the weather a fair amount. My most powerful spells are Lunar Flare, World Wake, and Army of the Darkness. Lunar Flare harnesses the mana flowing from the moons and pools it in a location before making it unstable. It will then explode and return to the sky.”

“Bel used that spell right before she died.”

“So I heard. It was likely the cause of her death. If one does not receive Luna's blessing the spell will be volatile. Thus leading to complications. I also heard that she intended to rebel against Sintress, Luna would never grant her power to a traitor.”

“My Mother was not a traitor!”

“The gods see things as white and black. Either you are on their side or you are against them. Mortals will be driven to great insanity when their death is near. Bel served her purpose faithfully, even her obsession with you was within Sintress's expectations.”

“I do not care what the gods think!” Fumed Drakar raising his fist at Faith. “She was the kindest person I have ever met and you will not slander her name. I will never forgive anyone who speaks poorly of her.”

The witch dropped to her knees, bowing before him. “Master it is as you say. I was rude and out of place, forgive my transgression. Hold your memories dear or else she will vanish from this world completely. She has been reborn in the Shadow Realm by now as a Pixie from the Tree of Death. She will remember nothing of her previous life. Your adoptive mother will have forgotten all about you, so it is you Master who should cherish the time you spent together.”

He lowered his hand a small smile formed across his face. “You are right. Tree of Death? This is the first I have heard of that.”

“The Tree of Death is the corrupt counterpart of the Tree of Life in the Earth Realm where all the souls of Elves, Nymphs, and Fairies are reborn. They are grown from the fruit as Pixies or Fairies and eat their way free to be born. After fifty years the sprite will molt and become an elf or nymph.”

“I heard about this before. So tell me Faith, have you lost those that you cared for?”

“There is only one who occupies my heart and that is Malissa. Long ago she was cursed to die a terrible, slow death. I was the one who cursed her. Yet I was also the one who sacrificed everything to save her. Strange how fate works. If Sin ever tells the Tale of the Broken Doll and the Ice Princess, be sure to listen, it is our story.”

“Why don't you just tell me?”

“It would take a long time. When we are in towns listen to the stories that Sin tells. They are our pasts, more or less though she does change them to suit her needs.”

“Why would she know your life stories?”

“Because at the end of the road she was waiting with open arms and to escape death each of us leapt into her embrace. Though for me it is different. I was never alive to begin with. Sin would be something similar to a mentor for me, she taught me magic and showed me what lay beyond the pit of despair.”

“Was she watching you or something? It is strange that she would show up right when you were dying.”

“I met her on my travels and she showed me many wonders. Ever since I have been by her side and seen each of the other dolls lives fall into ruin. Sin would pick up the pieces after observing. She watches it is what she does. Normally she merely gives a gentle nudge in the right direction but for you she is taking a more direct approach.”

“Because I am Shewolf's son?”

“Indeed. You are special and even the gods are plotting over your future.”

“What do they want with me?” Asked Drakar.

“That would depend on the god. My Mistresses hope for the bloody end of Solar and his wretched humans. As for the other gods their thoughts are their own, especially Lord Magus. For now do not worry we are here to protect you if worst comes to worst we can retreat to the Shadow Realm.”

“Teach me how to cast spells.”

“Eager to learn I see.” Said the Witch with a wicked grin. “Well then where to begin your mastery of magic? First you must feel the Mana that is all around us. Next you must harness it and let it flow through you. Then it must be condensed and finally given form. The last part is where chanting a spell's incantation is put to work.”

Faith stood before him spreading her hands wide. She closed her eyes and took in a long deep breath. She exhaled slowly. The air around her warped and churned. It glowed a dark blue. Drakar looked all around and saw strange bubbles of darkness floating in the night. They vibrated and glistened being drawn to Faith. Their colors shifted to blue as they gathered around the Witch.

“AURA of DESPAIR.” Chanted Faith.

Darkness surrounded her and the fire was snuffed out. Chills ran down Drakar's spine. Tears ran down his face though he knew not why. Everything felt hopeless and all he wanted to do was curl up in a ball. The others were shivering and restlessly struggling against their bedding. Azra stumbled to her feet drawing her sword but it fell from her grasp and she collapsed to the ground screaming and wailing.

“Fear not the darkness Master for it is power. Despair, Misery, Rage, Hatred, Sorrow, Bliss, Lust, Hope and Terror are all but tools to strengthen ourselves. Once we have overcome our emotions nothing can interfere with our concentration. Once you have conquered each you can wear it as a cloak and instill it upon those around you. The Cloak spells are passive auras that will affect anything around the caster. I have see much in my wanderings and I will gladly teach you.”

She clapped her hands together and light returned to the night. The fire burned once more and the air seemed warm. Everyone was restless, gazing at the Witch with hate filled eyes. Sin however had not even been awoken by the spell. She lay splayed out twitching in her dreams.

“What gives?” Roared Valene rearing up like a snake.

“Just demonstrating.” Replied Faith.

“Well knock that shit off we have a long day tomorrow.” Groaned the Dragoness.

“You do have a good point. Off to bed now Drakar. I will finish making the medicine.”

He wiped the cold sweat from his brow and lay beside the fire. Faith sat quietly grinding the herbs into paste and filling small bowls with liquid. She mixed concoctions, watching their reactions until finally she had finished a red liquid. Faith filled many bottles and capped them. Everything she did was orderly and meticulous the exact opposite of Malissa. The Witch was rarely idle. Her hands worked a needle through thread and began to sew, she was patching a torn shirt. She continued ceaselessly and Drakar dozed off to the clink of her glass hands.

He dreamed of Bel and the distant days they had spent together. They seemed so faint and unreal. She grinned and laughed, but soon her face fell into the darkness all around. Smiles glimmered in the inky abyss but they were cruel and insincere. A mask floated into view it was white like bone and crimson lips spread out below it. Shimmering eyes stared out from the darkness.

“Poor, poor boy. All alone. Lost in the darkness. Abandoned to the cruel world. I have sent you friends, use them, abuse them, or throw them away it is up to you. I have high hopes for you.” Whispered the lips, the voice came from all around.

“Who are you?”

“I am Despair, I am Death, I am Darkness, I am Sintress. Oh how the seeds sowed have grown, soon it will be time. Grow stronger child. I am always watching you boy so fret not, so long as my gaze is upon you death cannot take you, I won't allow it. not even if you beg and scream for it to end; like mother, like son.” The mask faded away and the darkness pressed in. It was warm and soft, like a mother's embrace.

The sun rose, chasing away the moons. They fled silently across the sky vanishing over the horizon. The morning dew glistened on the swaying grasses to the east. Drakar stared at the lightening world and felt oddly refreshed. He felt as though there was a particularly strange dream the night before but he could not seem to recall it. His worries seemed to have melted away and the tenderness of his body was gone. He was invigorated and ready for the new day. Faith and Valene were discussing something a short distance away. The Dragoness pointed down the road ahead and made a sharp curve with her hand. The Witch shook her head and gestured straight down.

“What?!” Roared Valene, looking as though she were about to start throwing punches. “Impossible! They would be on us in a heart beat if we went there.”

“Sintress has spoken. We go at once.” Calmly replied Faith. “Not to worry, Drakar is not coming only I and Magnum will be going. You will escort the Master to the keep.”

“What could possibly be so important that you would jeopardize everything we have worked for? He is the last of her spawn if he is lost we will have no hope and Sintress will rend our souls into oblivion!”

“He is not the last, Aura yet roams through time. So calm down even if he were to be smote into oblivion it means nothing. We have heard word of Shewolf, or more precisely her cursed form. If this pans out we will know what has befallen the Dark Mistress. You ran a kingdom did you not? You will be fine just teach him the proper way to keep everything running smoothly. When I return he will be taught in depth. In the mean time make him strong of body and mind.”

“Knowing you there must be some overwhelming evidence otherwise you would play this safe. Very well we shall keep in touch through Sin. I will report frequently and you should do the same.” Said Valene with her arms crossed.

Drakar stepped beside them. “Where are you going? Who is Aura?”

“Master we have received a lead on Shewolf and will be pursuing it. With luck we will be able to discern her location. Unfortunately this means I cannot accompany you to the keep but Valene, Malissa and Sin should be more than enough for you to make it there safely. When I return your studies of magic and governing will begin, in the mean time listen carefully to this meat head. She might be stupid but one cannot argue with results.” Said Faith with a bow.

“What is your problem? Shirking your duties and then cheap shotting me. Honestly what kind of comrade are you?” Fumed the Dragoness. “Why don't you frolic off already you soulless doll.”

“Soulless am I? I might not have a soul but at the least I am not brainless.” Chuckled Faith.

Valene snarled and her fist slammed into Faith's face. Her head snapped back as though it was unhinged. The blue tinted glass glistened in the sun where her skin had been scraped off. Slowly her hands cranked her head back up right with several twists. Her eyes twitched and lightning shot out of her hands making the scaled woman reel away.

“You want to go bitch?” Sneered Faith, looking down upon the smoking woman.

“Why not?” Roared Valene with laughter. “Lets enjoy ourselves. It has been ages since I wiped that smug grin off of your face! I think it is about time to do it again.”

The two took stances and were set to have it out when an icy stare fell upon them. Shivers ran up both of their spines like frozen fingers. They wearily looked and there stood Sin. Her eyes were dark pits that sucked the very warmth from the world. Her tongue clicked with a tch sound. The mask wore a terrible frown and she wagged her finger, as though to say bad dog. The Witch and Dragoness fell to their knees, planting their heads on the ground, their bodies shuddering in fear. She lorded over the pair and used her foot to rub their faces in the dirt. Her displeasure radiated out and she lifted the mask slightly, spiting on both of them. She glanced over at Drakar who had stepped away out of fright. The mask spread wide with a grin and she pat him on the head before walking away.

“Is Sin such a scary person?” Quivered out Drakar's voice.

“Oh she is not that scary.” Giggled Malissa springing out from a nearby bush. “Valy I expected as much but Faith you know better than to anger the Mistress. You are lucky Drakar was here otherwise she may have gotten fun. I remember last time she got angry. Valy had to meditate under the Molten Falls in the Fire Realm for a whole year straight and Faith had to clean the Weeping Hall in the Shadow Palace. Valy had the easier task. Last time I angered her I was in the box for a hundred years.”

“What is the box?” Asked Drakar.

“Why it is the box of course. You know that cube that Sin carries around with her all the time.” Smugly replied Malissa as though it was matter of fact.

“What does it do?'

Faith replied, “Well at first glance it just looks like a music box but if you were to look inside you would know better. For you see what lies within is Paradise of course, Sintress's realm where only the dead live. The box is connected to Paradise you see, a portal if you would from it Sin may draw out the souls of the dead to do her bidding. Only Sin may traverse between the two worlds unscathed. If we were to go without her strings guiding us we would pass over to the other side and be lost. You might see her visit Sintress by jumping into the box.”

“What happens while she is gone?”

“The box remains of course and Sin will climb back out once she has concluded her business in Paradise.”

“What would happen if it was destroyed?” Wondered Drakar.

“It can not be destroyed. It was Sintress's gift and as such is mutable and can change its form to the desire of Sin. For now it is a box but long ago it was a crystal ball and Sin was a fortune teller. Perhaps next she will be a Jester who knows she is rather whimsical.”

“She told fortunes before?”

“Yes when I met her she told me words that I thought never to hear and believe, but she showed me what I had lost. Now I follow her.”

Drakar thought for a while before finally asking. “How many dolls does she have in there?”

“Thousands, we are simply her favorites. She releases those that do not entertain her.” Grinned Valene.

“Is it such a good thing? Would you rather not have eternal rest? Rather than being tormented by her?” Asked Drakar.

“Tormented?” The three gasped and looked at one another, this notion seemed to deeply offend them. “We are not tormented! We were given the blessing to play with mortals once more. Have you ever been to Paradise? I think not! That place is so droll and boring! I never thought the Shadow Realm could be so drab what with the Devils and all but that place is just no fun at all.”

“So I see. So you are very grateful to her. I have been wondering why does she never talk?” He asked.

“When you hear her voice the bells have tolled and the twilight of your life has already arrived. Only the dead and dying can hear her voice. For once you have heard that siren's call you have crossed the thresh hold of death and she will shortly guide you to fields of sorrow so that you might be wiped clean and reborn or into her service if you are willing. She takes those who have lingering regrets about life but only if they have captured her attention. It is my hope Master that you never hear her voice. Though it is beautiful it is sad.”

“Wait does that mean she was just talking a moment ago?”

“It does indeed. In fact she was scolding us rather harshly. I believe Valene was called a snake headed whore.” Smirked Faith.

Valene toothily gritted back. “Oh? Forgetting so soon what she called you, glass harlot!”

The two were ready to fight once more but at the same moment they both looked away from the other and crossed their arms. They tilted their heads back with a hmph and never looked back. Faith made her way over to Magnum and the two discussed what lay ahead in their travels. Valene yoked herself once more to the carriage and prepared to set out.

“I am surprised you are so quiet Ciara.” Said Drakar.

She buzzed in his hair at the mention of her name. “What could I contribute to any of this? I am just a pixie, I feel so useless.”

“Don't feel that way I feel pretty useless here too you know. So cheer up.” He grinned.

She pouted “But I want to do something! I mean nobody even bats an eye at me. That pony is more useful than me, it makes me want to cry.”

Drakar glanced over at the second carriage and saw Lysandra chatting with Azra. They were smiling while picking through the clothes left in the luggage. The change from the day before in the centaur's complexion was so drastic that one would deny that she had ever been on death's door. Her face was positively glowing with energy, though she was still rather dirty. A good bath would fix that particular problem.

“What are you two up to?” He asked, walking over.

Lysandra grinned. “I never knew humans had such soft clothes. They even have some tailored for us Centaurs.”

She was looking over a dark green blanket made of wool. Her lower body was already covered by a light blue sheet that was fastened so that it draped down to her knees. Her human top had a soft white blouse with long sleeves. Lysandra was undecided about what to do about her matted and maimed hair. Azra plopped a straw hat on the girl's head with a grin.

“Hey Valene have you seen anywhere to bathe? A stream would do, I am feeling kind of crusty and Lysandra still has blood on her.” Said the Elf.

Valene unhitched herself and made her way over. She peered down at the two playing dress up, then glanced at Drakar. “There will be a river ahead, we should reach it by the end of the day. Get ready to move. The sooner we are in the Slag Ridge the better.”

Faith bowed to Drakar, “We are setting off master. May your travels be safe.”

Maeve sat atop the carriage. “Meowster farewell for now nyah! We shall find cuddly Shewolf and bring her back.”

“Why is Maeve going?”

“She is rather attached to Shewolf. Apparently she knows just the right spot to scratch to make Maeve melt like butter.” said Faith.

“So then Maeve knew Shewolf?”

“But of course the two were rather intimate.”

“This is true we love Shewolf. She knew about stars and always listened to us. She heard the voices too you see! She never made fun of us and even helped us look for a way to return home. Things were always fun with her. We learned much from her but what we enjoyed most about her was her way with her fingers.” The cat girl held her head and the whole of her body shuddered in bliss. Her fur glistened and turned clear as her form collapsed in on itself.

Maeve bubbled and churned on the ground. She rose up not as a cat but as a tall, clear woman. Great wings sprouted from her back and long hair descended between them. She solidified, her skin turned ghostly white and the feathers on her wings turned to soot. She brushed her silvered hair away from her face. A wide grin covered her face and the eyes turned to blood. Her tantalizing body radiated lust and desire, it filled the air. She had become the very image of decadence.

“Yes! These are the hands that make us melt, these are the fingers that remind us of Eve.” Said Maeve opening and closing her fists.

“So she can even turn into Shewolf. That is surprising.” Said Faith.

“I thought Shewolf would be more... well dead looking. I should know better though Sintress's pet would never look dilapidated. But I was not expecting this, truly an immortal. For a ten thousand year old granny she is divine. I would jump those old bones in a heart beat, or would she be jumping me?” Laughed Valene, sounding a bit serious beside all the fun being poked.

The Dragoness covered Drakar's eyes, “Stop gawking at your mother, boy, have you no shame?”

“Is that really what my mother looks like? She is beautiful. Why can't I see?” He replied trying to pry her fingers away.

“This is an adult matter, go play with the kids while the big people talk.” Said Valene shooing him away.

Drakar reluctantly was led to carriage and put inside. He watched as the Dragoness walked out of view. She however was not quiet in the least and he could still hear her boisterous banter. “Hey Maeve you would know, so was she as good as everybody says?”

“Better.” Replied a strange voice it was light yet something about it seemed sinister. “Of all our lovers Shewolf would be the third best. Eve was our best she made our mind melt, but Shewolf is something special non the less.”

“Only third?” Sniggered Valene. “This Eve must be a Fertility Goddess.”

“To become one with Eve is the pinnacle of pleasure. There are no words to describe what she does.”

“Are you as good as Eve?” Wondered Valene.

“We are but we will not indulge primitives such as you. We are not subject to baser needs, only those who are enlightened may experience the bliss of Eve's caress.”

“You are a tough kitty I will give you that.” The Dragoness merely chuckled at her flat rejection. “It seems my game is not what it used to be.”

“We grow weary lizard.” Said Maeve with a strained voice. “Our mind is already slipping, degrading, rotting the cat will soon return. Glass woman let us depart our sanity is fleeting.”

Drakar opened the door gazing out at the shimmering angel. Her form bubbled and melted until finally the Nekomar sat with a blissfully ignorant face. She followed Faith and hopped into the other carriage. Magnum pulled and his group departed with the stomp of his feet. Valene had likewise stowed away the remainder of the scattered belongings and chained herself to the carriage.

“Lady Valene could I run along beside the carriage?” Asked Lysandra. “It feels like it has been ages since I was able to have a good run.”

“By all means. Your kind loves to prance about, it must have been very unpleasant being confined as you were before.” Grinned the Dragoness. “Just trot along beside me and we can talk, makes the time pass much faster. We better be off there is no telling how far our pursuers have gained on us.”

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