My confinement was dull. Most of the time I would sit in the dark, minimal light coming off some candles, and stare at the wall. There was nothing to do. I couldn’t even stretch my legs properly.
Sometimes my warden would come, figure covered with a cloak, and would give me some soup or porridge. It tasted bland, but it was something. Sometimes the warden would cut me and give me a potion of some sort. I would bleed out but I wouldn’t die. The floor was almost completely covered in my blood.
At some point I tried to meditate. There was a slight resistance, but it faded quickly. It seems that the time spent in delirium cleared some inner conflicts. I feel at ease, knowing that my time with the girls was real, even if now they had to betray me. Nothing I can do now.
Closing my eyes I stop all my thoughts and concentrate. Unnecessary feelings are blocked, touch, taste, smell, sight all unneeded. I concentrate on my hearing, enhancing it as much as I can. My powers are lacking, so I can’t get as much out of my ears as I could before, but it is sufficient. I can overhear the guards somewhere high above. The sound is very faint, having traveled hundreds of meters, but I use all I have to latch on to the conversations they are having. It feels like I am reading the vibrations in the stone, rather than in the air.
“Hey, you heard what the queen has done? She outlawed slavery in our kingdom completely and she imposed a severe punishment. Some slavers were executed just the other night.”
“I thought that the King was dumb, making that wild girl the queen, but he was dumb not doing it sooner.”
“Aye. I can’t believe she was at the centre of it when the fiend controlled her tribe.”
“She must have been very brave, standing near that thing and even holding hands. She is braver than the king. That coward just sits on his ass on the throne, doing nothing and eating. He is going to grow fat soon, now that he has somebody else running the kingdom.”
“Hey, don’t speak like that about His Highness, it might be considered treason… But I agree. The willing girl is good even if she is young. How did the king even get her?”
“Apparently he didn’t yet. The future queen talks about tradition in her tribe, she hopes to instill such customs amongst her subjects. I mean, it’s not a bad idea, but what is she going to do?”
“She wants to have a festival celebrating the killing of the fiend, once the King’s rite of passage is complete. Until it is complete, King is staying abstinent.”
“Not abstinent enough ha-ha-ha! The queen refuses him, so he tried bedding one of the other two girls beside the queen. The crimson-headed bitch almost took his eye out! He has a scar on his left eye now. The king was furious, but he couldn’t do anything as she is queen’s personal righthand woman and the King is not supposed to touch anybody else.”
“Eh, apparently all the Fiend’s girls are under the protection of the queen now. They are not to be touched under any circumstances…”
Hearing that I feel some happiness. Eleanor didn’t forget about the others, she cares enough to protect them from that vile pig. And I must commend Lilith, scarring that pretty face.
“But the king doesn’t care, does he? He got plenty of prisoners bound in the dungeons. All the Bloodborn he had found, each one is prettier than the last. Dryads, elves, even demons.”
At those words my heart beats faster, my blood pumping. I can feel the pressure, the beasts begging for me to set them free. I know, if I get the chance, that filthy king is going to suffer longer than the slavers. Fucking scum of a human, how dare he touch My Women.
“Too bad the crimson bitch watches over them. King ain’t getting any from them. But he visits that one woman. You know who she is?”
“Nope. No idea. She just appeared one day, bruised beyond recognition, few days after the King’s coronation. He treats her ’nicely’ every day, you know…”
Their conversations go on talking about the prisoners and their treatments. Sometimes they speak about Eleanor’s exploits, her policies and her decision. She receives a lot of praise from her subjects now, making all the right decisions. Nothing less to be expected from a descendant of the Great Lion.
Like that, in complete boredom months passed, listening in on rumors, meditating, eating and bleeding. I was very filthy by the time something happened.
One day warden comes in with two men. He cuts my throat again and let’s me bleed onto the ground. He gives me a poition, but it is different from usual. The two men accompanying him unbind me and drag me out, I try to resist, but am too weak to accomplish anything.
With that I am led through the dungeon, upwards towards the ground. As we move I can feel the air becoming less stale. I longed so much to feel the refreshing smells of some flowers and grass, now floating around me. Months in confinement sharpened my senses.
We stop in some area, with water in a barrel to wash the filth off me. I spend a good amount of time washing myself, with the help of the warden. I am not sure, but it seems to be a he. He splashes water on me and rubs some some ointments into my skin, probably wanting me presentable. I heard whispers, today must be the day that I die. It is ironic it is the same day I was born.
When I am relatively clean, I have my favorite stretchy pants to put on. My feet and my chest bare, covered in some hair like a wild animal. They really want to show off the Fiend, beast in human form.
After I look the part I am led through an archway, into an arena. Why would a dungeon be connected to an arena I have no idea, I thought I was below the castle.
My execution is going to be a big show, so many people sit on seats around the arena. There must be thousands. Looking around I see the elders who wanted me gone, here to enjoy the spectacle. My father is with them, grinning like a madman. The one person that humiliated him is going to die. I also see a balcony, where the queen and king should be, but only Lilith and Leah are there. The king and queen are near the middle of the arena, King looking as royal as a filthy asshole can, and Eleanor dressed in ceremonial clothes, barely hiding her nudity under silky garments, a sheathed blade in her hands. Not very royal looking. A true matriarch of a wild clan.
Previously I didn’t see much of the King, only on some posters and once from a considerable distance, so I didn’t really know how he looked. Now I could see him clearly. He had black hair, longer than most people, probably wanting to show of his royal upbringing. He had a goatee and a mustache, making him look like a real royal douchebag. His left eye was adorned with a vertical scar. He deserved it. Overall, he looks to be in his mid-thirties, some wrinkles and a few grey hairs present.
I am led towards them and forcibly put on the ground, guards hitting my knees to make me kneel. If I had my full power, I would rip their heads off, but now I had to comply.
Before me a large cup is set, in position where my head would be if I knelt low enough. Is it going to be a beheading? It feels very lousy for it to be one.
As we stay in position, for another archway three more people are being led out. Elaya, Meriden and Aedim, all in ceremonial garbs like Eleanor, bound by their hands and feet, with an enchanted slave collar on their necks, they are led into three spots at the end of the arena. They are close together, only a few meters apart from one another. Each one is made to kneel low, their hands bound to a ring on the ground. They can’t stand up or raise their hands.
Eleanor seems to want to make this ceremony something flashy. Seeing everything in place, the show begins.
“Today, we are all here to see a rite of passage completed for the right to be my guardian. A man before you is the one that will attempt the Rite, and as I determined previously, defeating a fiend will constitute the Rite completed.”
King Robert unsheathed a very elegant-looking sword with runes and etchings, previously held in Eleanor’s hands. She passes the sheath to one of the guards. It must be a royal treasure of some sort. The king hands it to Eleanor, who slashes my throat again, making blood pull in the cup on the ground. I wouldn’t have thought that I had any more blood to spare, but I guessed it was the poition I drank before that made me recover quickly.
“But first, we will do a purification ceremony for the three girls who had been defiled by the bonding with the Fiend. This way, before the Fiend is killed, the girls will be set free of his influence.”
Eleanor picks up the cup once my wound closes and walks towards Elaya, who is on the very left of the three girls. She makes her drink some of my blood and then pours some on her forehead, blooding Elaya’s cute face. She doesn’t struggle much, knowing full well there is nothing she can do. Only some tears pour down her cheeks.
Next Eleanor walks to Meriden and does the same. Meriden tried to resist, her eyes looking at the future queen defiantly, but she was powerless to do anything.
Lastly, Eleanor comes to Aedim, repeatin the purification process, covering her in the rest of my blood. Aedim seems to have given up, not doing anything. She is downcast and distressed, knowing she is about to witness my execution.
“With that, purification is complete. Like the slaves who were freed from the slavers who were purified by the blood of their defilers to become Bloodborn, so are you now purified by the blood of the person who defiled you to be reborn anew.”
This statement was somewhat controversial as it was common knowledge that the slaves were just accompanying good citizens of the kingdom when they were lost, only to be ambushed by the Fiend and taken hostage. All the horrors and punishment made them into twisted Bloodborn, wanting to serve the Fiend. Of course nobody bothered to ask the slaves. The meaning behind the queen’s words went somewhat unnoticed, as everybody was engrossed with the ceremony showing the barbaric customs of the wild Val people.
With that, Eleanor walks towards me and the king. With one strike, she cleaves the mithril chains setting me free and gives the blade back to the king. She, with the convoy of two bodyguards and a warden retreat to a safe distance, leaving us one on one.
The king is arrogant, thinking he is going to win easily. Although he is not wrong, wanting this to end sooner, I don’t put up any resistance. The faster this ends the faster the girls will be released. The royal scumbag takes a few swings, leaving deep gushes on my flesh. He sees that I am not resisting and takes a few seconds to speak.
“Ooh, don’t want to fight I see? You thinking that if you die quickly, the others won’t suffer? Ha-ha-ha, you are mistaken my boy. The first thing I will do after ridding the world of your filth, is get the power from the bitch queen. Then I will fuck her. And then I will cut her head off.”
Speaking of Eleanor in such a way makes me angry. She might have betrayed me, but we spent plenty of time together and my love for her was real. Feeling the rage boiling inside, I release a low growl and stare at him menacingly.
“Yes! Yes! Just the reaction I want from the lowly dog! You know, after I kill the queen, I will fuck the duo she has by her side, both at the same time! A-ha-ha! And then I will kill one while the other watches and then kill the remaining one! It will be glorious!”
The bitch-king talks quietly, so only I can hear him, but his laughs and few exclamations are loud enough for the rest to hear. He looks like a madman now, probably going crazy at how close he is to obtaining the power he wanted. Him talking just makes me mad. With my limited power I undergo a partial transformation, forming claws and making my tail thicker, like in my drake form.
“And after that, I will fuck each one of the trio you yourself fucked! Yes, they are so sweet, I can’t wait to sample their little…”
I don’t let him finish, lashing out with a swipe of my hand, hoping to cut his damn head off, but he was expecting it, deflecting my strike with his sword. The blade glows and leaves a light trail, showing some magical properties. It is extremely hard, possibly even stronger than the blades Regios gave us. As expected of a royal treasure.
“Aha! Not so easy is it? My blade is Feldrazil, a relic passed on from one king to the next. It is said to be the most powerful sword, surpassed only by those wielded by gods! A-ha-ha. Taste the power that true royalty wields!”
He tries to land a couple of strikes on me, but even weakened, I am faster than him. I just duck under his blade. But when I try to gut him, I get repelled by a barrier. A rune glows on the sword’s surface. This is annoying, how am I supposed to kill him, if I can’t touch him? Or am I not supposed to be able to do anything?
The Kings swings at me again, but to no avail, I can dodge easily. After a few fruitless attempts he decides to change his tactics. Another rune glows and the king swings, sending a strike towards Aedim. He was way too far to reach her by normal means, but from the blade a light wave separates, flying through the air. Having no choice, I strain my muscles to reach her in time. A few meters from the girl the wave is stopped by my body. The strike is not as powerful as from the blade itself, but it leaves a shallow wound.
“Zern, you have to get some of my blood. My blood carries the power!”
Hearing those words, I get a complicated expression on my face. Do I really have to hurt Aedim to get out of this situation? But I will be able to defeat him if I get even a single beast to full power. Without thinking, I jump close to her and bite into her shoulder. Her sweet blood and the smell of cinnamon fills my mouth, I take in as much as I can. I feel some warmth spreading through me, but it is nothing compared to the Rites. The beast is already there, the power is mine. It has no meaning to drink more blood, all I get is some extra time. I would need to drain all the three girls to get anywhere near to awakening one beast.
I separate from Aedim’s shoulder and lick her wound to close it. It seems I am alone in this. Jumping away from her quickly, I rush at the king, utilizing the little bit of extra strength I recovered. It’s not much but it will help.
Getting closer to the king, I use whatever power I have to fight. Slashing, dodging, parrying. We lock into combat, but it seems that I am predetermined to fail. Even if I get past the sword, none of my strikes penetrate the shield surrounding the king. It is useless to struggle. I can dodge the strikes from the sword directly, but the energy waves he sends off all have to be blocked, wounding me each time. Seeing that it is battle of attrition at this point I decide to risk it.
When a swing from the king comes I swing my right hand, from left to right and strike on the surface of the blade, hoping to get the damn sword out of king’s hands. Sadly I miscalculated, allowing the sword to hit my forearm, embedding itself into my bone. It goes in almost parallel to the bone, so it doesn’t cut through, instead it gets stuck. My bones must still be dense and strong even with my powers gone. I howl in pain, almost fainting, but I push through and struggle against the king. My strength should be greater, but my mind is on fire, trying to overcome the pain and the blood loss.
We are locked in a struggle, me trying to get the sword out of king’s hands and him trying to free it and to strike me. None of my slashes penetrate the shield protecting the king just as before. He punches me repeatedly, hoping that I will get distracted or loose consciousness. I fight as much as I can, going as far as to grab the sharp edge of the sword, cutting my fingers in the process. By now, it is completely covered in my blood, its once pristine edge completely hidden behind my dark crimson, almost black blood.
We stay like that for a few minutes, exchanging strikes at one another, mostly with no result. Then the king uses another rune, creating a bright flash of light and forcefully yanking the blade out of my forearm. The pain shoots through me, bringing me to the ground. Before I can recover, the king starts stabbing me, in the stomach, in my legs, in my arms. He is furious, but sane enough to not hit any vital organs. The royal bastard wants to play with me. Regardless, the fight is now over. I stay on the ground, spasming from the pain and almost loosing consciousness, bleeding. A pool of blood spreads from me. Seriously, where all that blood comes from?
“My Dear Queen, the fiend lies, defeated and unable to fight on. Will you grant me the blessing of your blood?”
“My beloved king, will you not finish off the creature? It is clearly in pain.”
“No my Queen. I want it to witness my triumph. I want it to see how I turn into your guardian and then I want to rip its heart out and eat it!”
Clearly he is a madman. As he says it, I notice a change in the surroundings. Previously cheering crowd, which I didn’t notice in the intensity of the situation, goes quiet, somewhat shocked by king’s words. Isn’t he supposed to be a paragon of justice and all the lovely and cute things, babies, toys and unicorns? Why would he talk about ripping and eating hearts. This statement had more impact than the one from the barbarian queen some minutes before.
“Very well my king. The fiend is defeated, your rite is complete.”
With those words Eleanor and her entourage comes closer to the end of the arena, opposite of where the three girls I protected are. The queen takes
Robert’s blade, dark with my blood and moves it across her wrist, deliberately slowly. It would leave the scar, if not for my blood that starts working its magic and heals the wound. At least something good comes out of me almost bleeding to death – Eleanor won’t have a scar. All through this, she looks right at me, her eyes neither cold and hating, nor loving and caring. She is not indifferent, but I can’t understand it, my mind too cloudy.
The queen then proceeds to collect the blood into a cup like the one used to collect mine before. She hands it over to the warden, making sure he waits for her to give a speech. Then she walks to the opposite end, where I and the girls are. She looks at me, trying to communicate something with her eyes once again, but it is useless. Seeing me in my pitiful condition, she sighs, raises the blade and brings it down. She strikes the ground, making the blade stick out, right in front of me. Perhaps she wants to even the odds, but I doubt I will be able to do anything against whatever the king is going to become.
After that, Eleanor leaves the arena, walking up to the royal balcony. Only eight people left in the arena, the king with his three henchmen and myself with three girls. It is somewhat symbolic, but the meaning eludes me. I seem to be far too gone to make sense of things. My consciousness wavering, barely there as to protect the girls. I can’t give up, not now. The three girls who are bound to me are behind me, I will die first before I let something happen to them.
“Now, the Rite is complete. As it is custom in my tribe, once the Great King Robert will drink my blood, we are bound together, body and soul until death separates us. From that moment on, I will be the Queen of this kingdom, alongside the great king Robert. Now, let the Rite be completed.”
The warden, still holding the cup, raises it towards the king’s lips. He takes it into his hands and empties the blood into his mouth. For a moment nothing happens, then the king drops on his knees, gripping at his chest in pain. After few more seconds, he stops, stands up and tilts his head slightly. It is clear his mind is gone already. His back is arched, his hands are close to his chest. His posture can be only described as “skittish”. He is reminiscent of a rat, his head and hands twitching, crooked slightly. A few moments pass and he tumbles over, changing.
The transformation is swift, but different from mine. When I change, my body is not strong enough to fight the beast, it is overtaken completely. It is only my mind, my soul that makes me special, otherwise I would be a fiend like any other. The king however has some royal blood, whatever it is, it fights back against the beast. It’s also pathetically weak like my blood, but it is enough to do harm.
When king begins to change, his muscle expand rapidly tearing his skin. The bones crack and reform, but cause a lot of pain. The thing, previously a human, drowns in painful screams. The form is very ugly too look at, veins visible under the short fur, eyes bloodshot, fur growing in patches. The muscles are bulging greatly, making him look like his favorite childhood drink was steroids. Repulsing in every way of the word.
Once the transformation complete, an anthropomorphic lion stands up. Most of his fur is muddy, dark-brown color. Its mane is black, very uneven, mangy. Not s pretty sight. On its left eye is a vertical scar. Slowly, it eyes the three men before him. They all fall on their knees and sprawl themselves on the floor, kneeling down on the ground. When they raise their heads, the fiend does a single 360 degree swing, separating the heads of the two guards from the bodies. The warden and the crowd fall silent, not a single sound other then the loud breathing of the monster in front of them can be heard.
The warden horrified, begs from mercy, only to be pounced on and the head crushed within the powerful jaws of the beast. The “king” now hunching over the corpse, consuming the flesh of his ex-comrade. What a show! I enjoyed that actually.
I understand that I have to fight on. Pushing through the cloudy haze surrounding me I stand up and reach for the sword. With a slight struggle I pull it out and prepare. Raising it in front of me, I close my eyes and concentrate. I have a few minutes before the fiend goes for me and the girls, so I should try and reach whatever little resources I have inside.
Taking a deep breath I hope to reach some Ki inside, only to get distracted. A smell, a sweet smell rips me out of my inner landscape. Strawberry and peach. It faintly resembles those very pleasant things, yet different. The smell I haven’t felt before.
I open my eyes and look around in confusion until I set my gaze on the blade. On it’s surface, my dark, almost black blood is mixed in with another, lighter red blood. Understanding whom it came from I don’t hesitate. Raising the blade to my mouth, I take it in, licking the blade, not caring if I cut my tongue or my lips. The taste is beyond anything that I felt, in this state it is like suckling on the tit of a goddess, like ambrosia. And I suckle as much as I can, the life-blood must not be wasted…