Beast Fiend. Chapter 56.

A couple years ago Meriden asked me, why don’t we use Ki for attacks. The energy is very potent and during training it strengthens the body to extreme degrees. If one were to use it in battle, one would become invincible. I had to give her an extended explanation about how in this realm our bodies were very simple, lacking such thing as a Ki center.

If the world was created to house people with Ki centers, most of them if not all will be born with such feature, allowing them to cultivate and us it freely. Same goes for any other energy, mana, divinity, infernal or void energies. It all depends on the realm you are born in.

Here, I barely have a magic center, which allows me minor enchantment of my body to accelerate healing and growth. Aedim is one of the lucky few to have a developed magical core, allowing her use it freely. Dragons have them, Lilith and Leah have them. The rest of us have underdeveloped ones, not allowing to use a lot of magic.

Same goes with Ki, without a center, cultivating and using it becomes very difficult. In theory you can cultivate any kind of energy there is, even divinity and become God. But if your body is not suited for it, you will do more harm than good. Ki is condensed life Essenes, it invigorates the body and strengthens it. If I was undead or say a void demon, Ki would have been harmful to me. However, If I would try and accumulate void energy now, I would mutate and turn into an abomination.

Meriden understood my words, but she said that she still wanted to learn such an art. Needed be, she would use all her concentration for fighting. So,,I taught her battle meditation, art of fighting in trance. This state makes your body move independent of your mind, allowing you to fight and to accumulate your Ki in the meantime for an attack. This is the origin of Meriden’s Reaper Dance, the stance she used to defeat Nrogara before.

Ever since she decided to learn it, we would train together. She was never able to achieve the the full trance and I was even worse ever since the betrayal. Only recently have I been able to clear away frustrations and meditate properly. It feels like once we married, the main worry has left me, allowing me to clear my mind and remove any distractions. I am sure there will be more hardships and obstacles, but I’ve fought wars and conquered realms before. It is only love that makes my heart race.

Now, I was once again sparring with Meriden. Her mastery of weapons has improved a lot over the years. She was a good fighter back when we first met, training alongside men even when she was young. Her skills improved after the training with me, meditation and cultivation of Ki. Also, enhancing her body using my blood and elixirs, the cruel training and pushing beyond her limits, she became a true visage of war. Her skills are legendary now with most of the weapons. Those which she hasn’t,t mastered yet she is very good with. But her favorites are forever a bow and a sword.

I have created a sword for her from the mix of adamantium, obsidian and a rare crystals called NeoQuartz. It was thanks to the dwarves that I learned of it, but this alloy is one of the best in the realm. It is not as durable as ebonthril, but it looses only slightly. The good thing is, it is very light and doesn’t dull easily. I was able to inscribe some tunes into it, giving it the same effects Feldrazil had. I called it Void Reaver, for the purple hue it gained after mixing it with crystals.

I also reforger the Feldrazil, or what remained of it, but I made it different. I now had a dark azure blade as wide as a palm, with runes inscribed into it. But these ones were different, made to utilize my darkness. I had ability to engulf my sword with flames, to create a shield, to do a swift shock attack. The main feature was to make the blade transform into a bladed whip. Using my limited darkness manipulation, I could make my weapon lash out like a snake or swing it around, cutting everything up with a whirlwind of death. I made it just because it seemed cool, it wasn’t really that I needed a weapon. Although the sword was massive, it was too big for any normal person and was just perfect to be a one handed sword in my massive forms. I had plenty of the new metal for the weapons and the rings I gave to my girls.

Feldrazil translates as Demon Slayer Sword from ancient tongue. I used the same idea for the reforged one, calling it Felgadzil, meaning Demon Savior Sword. I kinda liked the name and it felt familiar. Although I felt Japanese for just a second.

Nevertheless, nowadays we spent a lot do time training together. Of course I wasn’t the only one training with Meriden. Aedim completed a lot of her research and instead focused on training her magical combat. Lilith and Leah also continued improving their skills. Flaer, Mercissa, Eleanor and Elaya were the ones who refrained from fighting. They were also the only four to come off fantasy birth control and now we’re trying to get pregnant. Although if it is any indication, my sense of smell told me that they succeeded, although I don’t know what exactly tipped me off.

The other four remained safe, hoping to be alongside me in battle. I protested, but nobody listened to me. I was ok with Meriden and Leah being there, because the first one was almost invulnerable with her skills and the second one was invisible. But Lilith and Aedim were vulnerable and would be targets for enemy attacks. I mean, I still shudder when I remember Aedim on the ground, powerless… Damn it, the memory always makes me angry. I resent those slavers and I regret killing them too quickly.

However, Aedim tells me she mastered voiceless spells, not even requiring a focus or incantations to use them. Her mind was powerful enough to manifest magic through the imagination only. A truly terrifying skill, especially in the world where magic is not all that common amongst humans.

Lilith on the other hand said that she was a versatile fighter, adept in every way of fighting. She wasn’t as good as any of the other three, but she could use the skills of all of them. I could still feel her presence when she tried hiding, but it was mostly impossible to sense her without my superior perception. Her magic and fighting style were pretty impressive too.

So, when we weren’t busy, we would train ourselves, hoping to make an impact on the battlefield one day. Meriden has been pushing herself to learn the battle meditation. She was very close, using her Reapers Dance, she was winning against me and only my over happening strength and speed allowed me to keep up.

Her style was a beautiful and a dangerous sight. While I was both, faster and stronger, her fluidity and coordination was godly. I had to watch out for the whole of her, at any time she could launch a kick or a punch, while still swinging her sword around. I often had to take her hits head on and endure them. For me it wasn’t too difficult, but if we were on the same level, I wouldn’t stand a chance. She was undoubtedly, the strongest warrior.

Now we fought, caught up in the rhythm. My own skills improved a lot, myself straying in my human form, I didn’t use my beast forms in training. This way I was able to somewhat keep yo with Meriden. We locked together, swinging our weapons about, trying to get through the defense of the other.

At first it was the usual exchanged, our swords bouncing off each other, our feet moving back and forth in a deadly dance. I was an amateur, Meriden was surely leading. We circled around the one another, trying to land a solid hit. Then there was a change with Meriden. Her movements became somewhat move fluid, even flexibility increased. I knew it when I saw it, my little bear achieved battle meditation. In that state she could fight for longer without exhausting herself, her body breached the limits, her muscles relaxing and allowing a slight leeway with how you bend and stretch. But the best part was how she was finally able to gather Ki and strike me with her sword.

This was a magnificent display, her body glowing with a bright light and out swords connecting. My body stood no chance. With a loud clash I was thrown tens of meters backwards, most bones in my body breaking. Nothing dangerous for me, but anybody less, even Regios would be in trouble. I just lay on the ground, breathing and letting my body recover. Meriden quickly snaps out of it and runs to me, apologizing.

“Master! I am very sorry!”

“Don’t worry. Congratulations, you are now a battle maiden. Keep practicing the skill and nobody can stand in your way. Ha-ha.”

As I let out the laugh I wince in pain, my ribs not allowing me to speak or laugh. The girl looks at me apologetically and other two come over to check on me.

“Meriden, that was impressive. Even without magic you are a formidable opponent even for Zern.”

“I agree with Aedim. That was a great display of power. How were you able to land such a hit?”

“Girls, our little Meriden has been able to learn how to use Ki while fighting.”

“Oh! That’s very impressive.”

The girls are a little surprised but this development. Lilith knew first hand how hard it was.

“We can call her a battle maiden from now on, she had one of the most impressive skills. Without having a core, she is able to get enough Ki to damage someone like me.”

“I am sorry, I didn’t mean to hit you so hard.”

“No worries. You just train more until you can control the strength of the attack. It is hard without a core, but a I believe you can do it. I think we should celebrate this occasion. What do you say?”

“Yes!”

“Good idea!”

We all can have a rest now. I get up and grimace in pain once again. Meriden comes over and gives me a kiss as an apology, but after her Lilith gives me a kiss just because. Aedim joins next to add her own little bit. Flaer was around, but she didn’t stay around while we trained. Her nature was rather timid and she disliked seeing me beat up the other girls. She also said something about the noise being bad for children. I don’t know if she knew that she was pregnant, but I definitely recognize myself in her.

Since we were in Kernun kingdom capital at the time, we had a bath after training and went to visit Eleanor. She wasn’t busy and because it was time for lunch, we had it together in a spacious dining room. Meriden, Aedim, Lilith, Lilith, Flaer and Eleanor were here with me. We drunk some wine and had the meals cooked by the chef, which were to die for.

I was looking forward to spending w isn’t with the girls, they didn’t have an aversion to the idea of sharing me through the night. It seemed to originate from Leah and Lilith, those two corrupted the others, but it would have happened sooner or later. It was a little disappointing not to have Elaya or Mercissa here, but they were in the Val tribes, taking care of things there.

We were about done with a meal and talking about what to do next, when the doors opened and Sudiak came forwards. He apologized for the intrusion, but I never was good with formalities so I just told him to carry on.

“Lord Zern and ladies, I brings important news. The war has started the enemy began their assault.”

“Ok. I hoped we had more time. Who is it attacking, whom and where?”

“They are attacking everyone from the south. The demons and monsters are under attack and elves soon will be.”

“What? Who could have an invasion force that big? Demons? Or the cultists?”

“No sir, it’s the Nagas…”

Beast Fiend. Chapter 55.

As the ceremony of my unification with girls grew closer, so did my anxiousness. I didn’t know what it was that made me worried, I mean I lived countless lives and I already took over half of the world by doing bugger all. But for some reason, my nerves were acting up before the day. Maybe I felt like something might go wrong, or I was worried that any of the girls wouldn’t be happy. This was supposed to be their happiest day after all.

For the ceremony, I allowed only the closest people to come. Frez and elders were the ones who were attending out of the Val. I also invited my sisters, but sadly they didn’t come.

Lord Hooligein, Lord Galadrim and Lady Cerebria as well as Regios all came as they were very much my friends by now. I treasured them and I was happy to receive them on this day.

The parents of the girls also came, some of their fathers I didn’t knew too well, they were adventurers and traveled a lot, but they came for their daughter’s special day. Of course I already had their blessing before today, but having them at the ceremony made all of us happy. Even Zilmanrius the Dragon King came to visit us with his daughter, Flaer’s mother.

I allowed all the Bloodborn to attend, but others from the House of Bloodlust weren’t invited. There was a small bit about demons coming to the Val tribes as well as me not knowing them too well. Eleanor insisted that there were some nobles whom she befriended. I met them before, but mostly the queen was the one who talked with them.

The ceremony started at noon. Before then we had some drinks and snacks and talked. When it was time, Frez was playing the role of the priest or whoever it is supposed to be. Of course he wasn’t the real priest, there weren’t white dresses or black suits. The girls wore ceremonial clothing, unlike the ones during the rites, these clothes were extremely reading, showing off their fantastic figures. It was all part of the Val traditions, showing off the female beauty and then my masculine strength. Of course I was naked above the torso, only wearing some fur shorts. All of us had some tribal tattoos drawn on us for this occasion. They made the girls look very alluring, accentuating their figures and features. They were practically naked, despite it snowing.

Seeing how everything about me was weird, even our marriage was going to be weird. Firstly, the girls were joining my house, which usually was the other way around. Secondly, there were eight of them and they all wanted to be there on that day. And third, being part of the Bloodborn and all, we decided to change the tradition a bit.

Of course, the ceremony was different for each tribe. Like, Val’Halla all had fancy clothes and jewelry, while with Val’Kira, we would have to eat a heart of the animal the other partner killed. Val’Zern was all about the blood, so I decided to make a blood oath.

We all stood around a wide golden plate, with letters and runes engraved into it. It was mostly to make it look cool, but I a sense, it would be a heirloom of our tribe, the first artifact. I tried making it nigh indestructible and added some fancy effects to it.

I stood on one side, the girls opposite of me, all close together. Frez stood a bit away.

“Today, we are here to bear witness of the union is souls. Nine people will be joined together as one, their souls intertwined, their flesh united, their blood shared. I stand before you to share this moment and to see Lord Zerd and his eight chosen come together and form a family. Offer your blood for the pact.”

I pick a dagger from beside the golden plate and cut my wrist, letting the blood pool into the golden vessel. My light blue blood flows into it, glowing with black radiance. I pass on the dagger clockwise, to Elaya.

Elaya and each girl after her all cut their wrists and put their hands above the golden plate. Their blood mixes with mine, light blue against dark purple. Each one has a slightly different hue, all mixing together. Once the wrist begins to heal and the blood flow stops, they put their hand on the edge of the golden plate, ready to make the vow. The last two are dragons, their blood having redder hue, more resistant of my own blooded. All the blood quickly mixes together, making uniform color.

Once the blood is collected, I begin my part. Frez gives me a small bag, out of which I take nine rings. These were forged from what used to be Feldrazil. The new alloy proven to be almost impossible to even scratch without using darkness. There was also plenty of it to both, forge a new weapon and make rings. These were my little projects, which I spent many days on. Each one is special, the design representing their owner. I had two more blanks to spear just in case…

The first one is a ring with a small wolf head on it and a an uneven surface, reminiscent of fur. It is dark azure in color. I dip it into the blood, letting half of it take in the life essence. The ring begins to glow slightly with blue light, like that of my demon soul. The golden plate glows red instead.

“Elaya, you were the first one to come to me and to accept me, you were always by my side and we have always been together. You are my life partner, my wife and future mother of my children. I thank you for your loyalty and I swear, need be I will lay down my life to save you and to protect you. From now on we are as one, now and forever.”

With a few words, I take her hand and place the ring on her ring finger. Funny thing is, here that finger is called tamed finger. I don’t know why. With my help, Elaya lifts the golden plate and takes a mouthful of blood.

There has been an awful lot of bloodletting and drinking of it. But Val people and other inhabitants of the world seem to be used to it and they don’t get sick from consuming other’s blood. Which is a good thing for us.

When Elaya drunk some of it, I pick her hand once more and kiss her on the ring, cleaning it from the blood that it was dipped in.

Next it was Meriden. Her ring was slightly thicker, it had claws, blades and a thorny vine all intertwined. I tried stylizing it for her, hoping she will like it.

“Meriden, since we met, I admired your spirit and your strength. You never back down and you always go forwards, no matter what. We shared many days of adventure together and we trained until we bled many times. May we share many more years as one. I thank you for your bravery and I swear, need be I will lay down my life to save you and to protect you. From now on we are as one, now and forever.”

I repeat the process, dipping the ring in blood and putting it on. She drinks the blood and then I kiss the ring. Next is Aedim.

“Aedim, you are the smartest one of all of us, your wisdom and your intellect has guided us forward and uncovered many secrets of the world. May you forever remain brilliant and may your radiance only get brighter. I thank you for your wisdom and I swear, need be I will lay down my life to save you and to protect you. From now on we are as one, now and forever.”

Her ring is simpler design, instead having various runes engraved into a the ring. They only have a meaning of my words for her, translating as ’ Eternal love’ and such. I put the ring on her finger as before, making sure to repeat every step.

“Eleanor, you are prideful and you are headstrong, but out of your love for me, you overcame it and you became humble and loving. We went through hardships together and we came out stronger than we were before. I thank you for your faith in me and I swear, need be I will lay down my life to save you and to protect you. From now on we are as one, now and forever.”

Her ring was thinner and more exquisite than others, having shape of a more traditional one. It fir the girl very well. I put it on after dipping it in blood and kiss it.

“Leah, you have spent many days playing your pranks on me and I spent many days learning to avoid them. Your senses helped us many times, your skills aided us in our ventures. I thank you for your cunning and I swear, need be I will lay down my life to save you and to protect you. From now on we are as one, now and forever.”

Leah’s ring was very smooth, with small engraving of a fox, leaping in the air. This one I tried to look oriental, but I don’t know if I succeeded. I hoped she liked it. After her it was Lilith.

“Lilith, during our very first meeting you kissed me and ever since, your unrelenting nature assaulted me. You are a real succubus, a demoness, one whom I need by my side. At times your games kept me at bay, other times they helped me move forward. I thank you for your darkness and I swear, need be I will lay down my life to save you and to protect you. From now on we are as one, now and forever.”

Her ring was made of two tangled lines, twisted in a spiral around each other. They had small spikes and seemed demonic. After her were the two dragons.

“Mercissa, you are a dragon, eccentric and ancient, your presence makes my life crazy. But without you, I would die of boredom and my life would not be complete. I wish for you to always remain by my side and to share my love. I thank you for your openness and I swear, need be I will lay down my life to save you and to protect you. From now on we are as one, now and forever.”

Her ring was scaly, with a small orb on the top with dragon’s claws holding it. Within the orb was a small light, which glowed after our blood touched it. Lastly, there was the new addition to our family.

“Flaer, you were childish and air headed, but you always stayed by my side. Because of that, you were injured and you made a grave sacrifice. You are now part of me, perhaps closer than anybody in the realm. I am forever in your debt and I will always treasure your company. I thank you for your sacrifice and I swear, need be I will lay down my life to save you and to protect you. From now on we are as one, now and forever.”

With that, I put the last ring on her finger. It was very simple in design, a smooth ring. But on its surface, there was a small inscription ’Zern is one with Flaer, forever’.

With my last oath, it was the girls’ turn. The practiced it before, but the rings moved them somehow. I could see that they each liked theirs and in the corners of their eyes I could see some tears trying to burst forth. I didn’t know what was special about the rings, but it might just be the girls thing. They stopped their sniffles and spoke their part together.

“Zern, you are the one who brought us here, you can tear us apart and you can put us together. We followed you, hoping to reach you we each reached for the top and stood above everyone else, but we are still too far from your brilliance. We wish to stand beside you and to have your love. May our fate be forever bound together, we will live and love one another for as long as we breath. I…”

“Elaya of the Val’Kira tribe…”

“Leah of the Val’Eris tribe…”

“Flaer of the earth dragons…”

Each girl spoke their name and origin.

“…forever join you and be one with you. I swear to always be the one you can lean on, to be your pillar and to be your support. I thank you for your love and I wish to make you happy for as long as I live.”

They each came up to me and kissed me on the lips. Here their part was pretty much over, so some of them let their tears flow. They were happy tears of course.

“I, Zern of the Val tribes, accept your oath and I will forever treasure it. Our paths are one now, we are forever bound. You are mine and I am yours.”

With that I submerge my own ring in blood and put it on. It absorbs the blood and activated the enchantments inside.

My ring is more like a signet ring, having our house insignia on it. While design of each ring was difficult to do, the true mastery of jewel rafting were the enchantments I engraved on each one. Each ring was now bound to each other, they were like whisper stones and port stones all in one, in a tiny package. They also would let the wearer know of positions of any other rings. Of course only the nine of us would know of this.

After the main part was over, my mind kind of blanked out. There were more words said by Frez and the other guests, but for me it was all foggy. We spoke, we joked, we drank.

After this was done, all the stress left my body. The weight lifted off my shoulders and I felt relieved. We were married, nothing went wrong, everything was fine. The end ended perfectly, no sudden invasion or attacks. That would truthfully be too cliche.

After that, we had a week of our honeymoon. Others didn’t know what that meant, but it was a new tradition for us, so they complied with it. I had ideas of going to the south of the continent and staying on the beach or camping somewhere in the mountains, but instead we went to the very first house we built in the Val territory. I haven’t used in a long time, but it was clean and tidy, thanks to Elaya who kept it all nice.

For a whole week, we spent our time together, making love, messing around and just having fun. Flaer became a woman and she enjoyed it tremendously. Others also had their time. Lacking a need of sleep, I still was fought over and had a lot of satisfying to do. Marital duty must be always upheld.

For the week, we forgot about the wars and spies, about the darkness and evil of the world. We just stayed beside one another and made sure to share our love. Just for this moment, we were the happiest people in the realm. I hoped it would last for much longer, the peace and the quiet. But I had a slight premonition that it was just the quiet before the storm. Still, we took the most from the time we had together. And it was a truthfully wonderful time.

Beast Fiend. Chapter 54

We had two months before my sixteenth birthday and I pretty much completed my little projects. It took a lot of work, I had a lot of help from dwarves and gnomes as well as Aedim, but in the end everything was done great. I was ready for the wedding and anxiously waiting to unite with my seven girls. I have already made my way around the tribe and asked for various blessings and I visited the Dragon King, who gave me his blessing, although I kind of had it already. This was not a local custom, more of something I added in the mix.

With the preparations for the future and for the marriage, there were a lot of changes happening around me, both within my faction and outside of it. But there were a lot of changes within my family.

Firstly, once Flaer recovered from what happened with her, she changed in the way she looked and how she behaved. Being ripped apart in tiny fragments and scattered within one’s mind can do it to you. Aedim said that effects should have been kept to a minimum, but whatever darkness did, firstly it wasn’t within the illusion, but with her soul directly. If I had waited that much longer to take darkness from her, her fractured soul wouldn’t be able to be repaired.

I was glad I made it in time, both with purifying her and with rescuing her from the illusion. However there was a slight little side effect. Because I am pretty much immune to magic, it was easier for Aedim to temporarily move my soul into Flaer’s body than to channel my mind inside hers. So, for the whole two weeks that I was inside her mind, my soul slowly began to intertwine with hers,s I need her soul was in tatters and pretty much broken apart. Granted it was within her mind, and the real damage was kept to the minimum, but her concours mind was pretty much ripped apart.

With my soul so close as well as the use of my darkness, we became connected. Like, parts of my soul were literally connected to hers, so she shares some of my memories of the current lifetime and my feelings. Because of this, her personality changed a bit. She became more mature, wiser and intelligent, she stopped being her old self. I thought it was a good change, but nowadays I miss the small dragon girl who would shout for me to mount her.

Yeah, she is no longer small. If before the few hundred year old dragon looked like she was smaller than ten, now she altered her appearance. She could do it before, but it would look like a blown up sex doll with every secondary sexual characteristics blown out of proportion, but still having a petite body. It was a horrific monstrous its, which I forbid her from ever taking shape of again. Now however, she became a teenager, closer to the girls. I would say she is even slightly older than them.

Not only her age changed, but her colors changed as well. I doubt it was all random or without her help, but she had become a brunette with slightly wavy hair, lush lips and smooth features. She was cute as hell but she was also sexy. And I swear it is the truth, but I am sure she got a part of my mind which kept my perfect woman in it. I mean, Flaer became that perfect woman.

I knew she was better at transformation magic than any other dragon amongst the ones I knew, but now it was a whole different thing. She no longer looked like a smaller version of Mercissa, instead she was her own person now. Well, dragons didn’t have a set from to begin with, but Flaer became truly human, forgoing the horns, wings and tail as well as getting rid off the black and gold eyes. Her eyes looked brown, like my used to long ago. If you think about it, she kinda looks like what I used to look like all the time ago… Wait a second, am I in love with myself? Would I go for a female clone of myself? I forbid myself from thinking such thoughts in the world without cloning.

Anyways, since Flaer recovered, she always stayed by my side. She took Meriden’s place, who was now the general of my private army of Bloodborn. The redhead girl loved the responsibility and the position of power, using her authority to beat people into submission and make them stronger, which really contrasted with her Laura personality of total obedience to me. But she was busy not, so instead of her the dragon girl took her place. Not to say that she wasn’t beside me before, but normally she would stay out of any important meetings due to her being prone to making my life hell.

To be honest, it seemed that she was totally dependent on me. Putting her back together, which I mean both in literal and metaphorical ways, it seemed to engrave me deep into her soul. My darkness was a part of her and she was a part of me. And after Aedim investigated into the matter further, she concluded that she was perhaps closest one of all of them. Long story short, I may have gained a dragon power inside of me. I can’ ties it as it is still dormant, but if my connection with Flaer deepens and if she shares her power with me and vice versa, we can empower each other.

The thing is, her power is not as great as the Guardian’s was, but she is alive and if we both go stronger together, than perhaps I will become a dragon. She however prefers it to be the other way, both of us staying human. Something about it feeling more natural.

We didn’t stop flying around with me riding her, but her form also changed. The true form of the dragon was the reflection of the soul, where Dragon King was golden and Regios was not, it all stemmed from within. While it was possible to alter the form, dragons preferred not to. So, all the features Flaer dispersed in human form, they carried over into the dragon form, her becoming sinister, black-scaled dragon with golden edges to her scales, black and golden horns and black and gold eyes. Why couldn’t it be black and yellow?

Anyhow, Flaer changed, but we all accepted her. The new Flaer became akin to my personal attendant or maid, although her status was way above that. She would never part with me now and she would do various tasks I asked her to do. You could say she was my manager or secretary, but she didn’t have a phone to carry around and call people.

Actually, the girls might have accepted her too well. Early on, she spoke with some of them privately about some female matters and well… There are now eight members in my harem. I mean, even before I was born I could imagine having more than one wife, but having eight, two of whom were dragons, that was beyond my expectations. Furthermore, the other six were all human, as all pureblooded Val were human. Or half human half pure demon. I don’t know, it confuses me…

What’s funny, while she was a member of my inner circle, she didn’t make an advance on me or allowed me to even attempt one. This one wanted to wait until marriage. When I heard it I face palmed and Elaya laughed. It really was me who made all of us wait that long. The Matriarch laughed in my face and said that she was ok breaking our promise a few years after the trial, it only lasted that long because I stayed vigilant and didn’t let myself do anything with her… Damn it, why did I have such integrity, I missed on years of teenage loving…

So, during the ceremony in two months, there will be eight of us joining together. It didn’t put any dents in my plans, I was kind of prepared for it. Always prepare in advance and make sure you have everything in abundance. So I had enough of my little surprises for all of them and for two more, if they would ever appear… Hopefully I won’t need any more.

Apart from Flaer, Eleanor remained her new self. Her demeanor was calm and gentle, she truly became the queen of the people. I played my part as a ruthless King, executing the spies and traitors of the darkness or of the nobles who sought to harm me, but she would sometimes step in and easy my wrath. It kind of pissed me off from time to time, but nothing a session with Lilith or Meriden couldn’t fix. My torture chamber in demon mansion never stayed empty for a long time. And I wasn’t always the instigator of the ’games’ we played.

Truthfully, all the girls changed somewhat. Growing up, with all the responsibilities and preparations, they became more mature and wiser. They weren’t stupid to begin with, but the new experiences developed them into leaders. Well, not Mercissa, she still was an airhead, but we loved her regardless.

The girls also matured physically, growing up slightly. Eleanor’s body began developing rapidly half way through the year, making her bosoms grow and her curves becoming more obvious. She wasn’t underdeveloped like before. She hit a growth spurt and she hit it good.

Every girl was becoming a true bury in the world. And I was surrounded by them all. I couldn’t be happier, especially since there were now eight of them and everyone apart from one had an appetite to satiate frequently. And I shall not forget the Bloodborn, who also wanted my attention. Perhaps I should take over Regios’ palace, call myself a Sultan and make Aedim tell me tales for a thousand nights.

There was some weird thing happening with Bella’s trio. Truthfully, she had two twins who were very different and who chased after her. She liked them both, but I didn’t know how a reverse harem would work. He logistics about children was one thing which puzzled me, although if I remember correctly, the Great Matriatch, mother of the tribe heads fourteen thousand years ago had many men by her side.

And don’t get me started about children. I told all of the girls that if one of them get’s pregnant, they would not be going out in the field and instead stay in the safety of our premises, whether in Kernun Kingdom or Demon mansion or within the tribes. Which is why Mercissa was not going around with me everywhere and instead spent her time by Eleanor or Elaya or other girls. Yup, she was preggors.

It was a shock to me as to everyone else, although Flaer said that she knew for a while, but didn’t care to mansion it, being her cheerful self before. Mercissa got a bun in the oven from the get to, but her slim body didn’t show any sigh of carrying a child. The whole thing about dragon reproduction was complicated.

Apparently, they could both, lay eggs and give birth. It mostly depended on the father of the child, which would determine if it was a reptile or not. However, with her transformation and myself being a badass demon and a fiend, my power was enough to make a mammalian baby. Or as whatever my mutant guys would make. I had no idea now. But the whole gestation period of dragons was way longer than humans, being anywhere from a year to five years. It seemed to be somewhere in the middle with Mercissa, but if my guys will as effective with other girls, she won’t be the first one to give birth. And my girls will be going off the fantasy pill as soon as we go through with the ceremony.

Phew, that is enough of the fun for now, perhaps I should be more serious. Throughout all the chaos of my life, I never got in touch with my mother, not since she was forbidden to see me. Since the execution of my father, she didn’t reach out nor did my sisters. So, I tried approaching her, but she chased me off, calling me a Fiend and cursing me. Apparently her love for my father was greater than her maternal instinct. Well, she did have two daughters. The girls also didn’t talk to me, as they barely remembered me, they were too little when I went to train with Elaya’s tribe.

I did get in touch with mother’s brother, my uncle. He was sad about my fathers demise, but he didn’t blame me. He talked about how my father was driven insane by his conquest for power and how his hatred for me made him dig his own grave. He did say that my decision was cruel and that I could have let him go.

“I may be cruel, but I will not let anybody who betrayed me live and roam the world free. It is not for my satisfaction or for revenge, but to eliminate the threats of the betrayers towards those who are still by my side. If somebody whom I could have stopped would have hurt my family, I would have burned the world and they burned myself to repent for the sin of inaction. I would rather carry the guilt for slaying my enemies than for loosing my loved ones.”

Such was my reply. He silently nodded, understanding where I was xo isn’t from. He also knew that he was somewhat guilty of his own inaction, especially after he saw how my father changed. But now it was too late.

In the end, my family didn’t speak to me. It didn’t hurt me too much, just made me disappointed. They left me and forgot me, then they betrayed me and after all that, I was the bad one? I could do nothing but shake my head at the situation. Still, I carried on ill feelings towards my mother and sisters, so I asked Elaya to keep an eye on them. Hopefully, one day they will overcome their hatred for me. Until then, I will carry on the guilt by myself. Well, I wasn’t alone, I had eight girls who loved me regardless of all the blood on my hands…

Beast Fiend. Chapter 53

My revelation about the darkness causes a bit of a stir amongst the leaders. Nobody other than Regios really knew much of the circumstances about the darkness and even then, he didn’t believe that the power of the god was still around. He thought that somebody used the body of the ancient god to take some power, but if the God was alive, we were in big trouble.

Since thousands of years ago, when the gods all disappeared, the world has been ungoverned, left to its own accord. The races had nobody to guide them and nobody to protect them. The Guardians who were created back then were strong, but not on the level of gods. It wouldn’t be a surprise to me to know that somewhere there are remains of the terrifying entities, buried in the debts of the ocean or hidden up in the heavens.

I mean, Gargoyle had the most power out of all the creatures during the time of the Guardians and even then he forcefully took the power, only gaining a portion of it. And the Guardians needed all five of them to be on par with him. I can imagine that Lilith is actually the strongest out of all of my fated, now that she began learning magic with Aedim. Her body has plenty of mana, unlike mine, even her dark magic is more potent than mine. Of course as her master I am stronger, but magic is beyond my reach. How pitiful of me…

Regardless, right now races are beginning their preparations. Dwarves and gnomes hid as usual, but they promised to create a lot of weaponry and supplies for those who will be fighting. They are a very closed off society and it is unlikely they have spies in their midst. The fact that I am even going to their territory is a small miracle, thanks to my little mature beauty, who uncovered the secret of teleportation and is spreading it around.

Elves and demons also began preparing, once again forming their military and making them train. Everything is done discreetly as to not alert the enemy, but there are a lot of things happening. House of Wrath is being supplied with money and weapons to empower and prepare it. Hooligein asked for the assistance of my Bloodborn to make sure that the house is loyal. We were allowed to eradicate any foreign presence, thankfully there were very few of them.

Elves also took up arms, training their bowmen and mages. They were not experts of me lee combat, but I offered to get them trained. I had plenty of people to do that, especially seeing how Meriden was a master warrior by now. I took a number of trustworthy people from demons, elves, dryads, monsters etc. and trained them all with Meriden. We used the elixir that Nrogara created to make them stronger. He was actually able to suppress my transformation, while the enhancing the regeneration and body empowering factors. It was impressive.

Nrogara has been transformed before, becoming a fearsome creature. Out of his back now grew spines, his elbows and his hands and feet had sharp claws coming out. He was a wild beast with military training. He still lost to Meriden and me, but others were weaker than him. Only Eclaire could fight him on par.

With the few people whom we trained, we gave the option to join my faction, but only if they get approval of their leaders. One person who immediately jumped on this opportunity was Sudiak, a demon from one of the houses who was ticked off in the past. Becoming a noble of my house was a good thing. He gladly accepted the proposition and took my blood, transforming and becoming stronger. I had a use for him, he was loyal and strong.

Belinda, another demon girl from the House of Lust didn’t take the chance. She said that she was happy with her house, but we knew that there was something else. But we let her do her thing, even if she had access to our technologies, she couldn’t understand most of them. We didn’t reveal any critical information to her, only the little bit to confuse our enemies.

There were a few people who decided to join my faction from various other factions. Their leaders approved of it as a sigh of good faith. By now I firmly integrated myself in every allied society out there, even the dwarven one. They trusted me and it was mutual. Quickly, the numbers rose to a hundred, hundred transformed Bloodborn, plus more people who were being tested and trained for becoming a part of our house.

Val elders also allowed this. They told the men about my power and made arrangements than any male who wanted to become part of the elite force would come to Frez, who was the warlord and any female would come to Elaya, who would point them to one of the other girls. There were plenty of willing people, in fact, hundreds came to Frez to enlist.

Elders came to me at some points with a small announcement. Seeing how I was the most powerful ma pm in the tribe, who brought new power into it, plus that I have the Matriarch as my Bride, five other princesses and a dragon, plus Frez was part of my faction, a new Val tribe was created. I and my Bloodborn were not all part of Val’Zern. Yes, I had a whole tribe named after me, mainly because my blood carried the power like the daughters of the founders did.

This was supposed to happen during my wedding ceremony when we turned sixteen, but seeing how the whole world was stirring and preparing, they didn’t want to wait. Besides, I already did one thing ahead of time, whom would it hurt to do another a bit early.

With all these improvements I had some changes to do with the Bloodborn and the House of Bloodlust. Firstly, I renamed the two main factions within it, the Droplets and the Scratches. While it was fine and cute before, now the times were changing, prompting some alterations.

Truthfully, I couldn’t come up with any good names myself. I wanted to call them ninjas. Not like anybody else knew what the were, but I thought it was the best name. And it was slightly cool. But instead I just went with calling them spies and assassins for the time being, much better than Droplets.

I also did a re-evaluation of all my subordinated and realized that some people were much better with analyzing and manipulating information, rather than acquiring or acting upon it. So the strategist division was formed, where many of our smartest people were positioned, helping with strategy and doing all the thinking.

There was also in influx of pure warriors, mostly coming from the tribes as and well as from demons like Sudiak. They became out infantry, whom we trained well. Meriden was happy through all this, having so many people to make stronger. She beat them to the death’s doorstep and nursed them back and beat them again. It was hard training, but it payed off, many people began growing stronger by the hour. All thanks to Nrogara and his miraculous elixir.

Meriden became the head of the infantry, while Leah and Lilith stayed in their positions. I kind of forced Aedim into becoming the brains of the operation, but since researching magic technically could help us, she was glad to get so many helpful assistants. At the moment, there was little planning needed, other than crunching the numbers. Sonja stayed the head of the House, keeping it afloat and doing all the diplomacy with other houses.

I myself did various things. Firstly I helped reforming my factions and running the new things. I also helped training and preparing the new recruits as well as turning them when they were ready. I refrained from going to the Zone, not wanting to risk another Release and death of my and Regios’ people. I mostly worked on a project of my own within dwarven territories, spending time at the forges.

I required extensive help from Aedim, getting help with designs and schematics. Most of it was irrelevant to that particular project, mostly there as a distraction, but a I had no doubts she knew what I was preparing. I only asked not to spoil the surprise.

There were also some other things. One thing I found out is that the orb that grew into my body allowed me better control over darkness and also gave me basic telekinesis. I gained the power that the anomaly had, so I could crush things with my thoughts, move them around or throw them rather far. It also allows me to experiment with remains of the Feldrazil.

It seemed that the blade couldn’t be restored, it was a part of the artifact and to separate it, I would need to unfold it and then take it out, but even then I doubted my capabilities to melt whatever it was made of. It was an extremely hard metal, possibly strongest one of all metals in the realm. It was the best blade under heavens after all.

I was able to do something else however. With Aedim’s help we found out that the artifact itself was in a unstable state, not being complete. It lacked the power needed to become whatever it was supposed to be. The metal of the blade was too strong, but it was somewhat weakened and transformed by the anomaly. If it would transform completely, it would become something new.

So I decided to complete the transformation. I found a safe spot, hoping that the darkness is not going to find out about this. Using my new power and my darkness I unfolded the anomaly, keeping it small, not letting it expand. Then I poured massive amounts of darkness inside.

It took a few hours and a lot of effort to keep the thing small and compact, but over time the insides of the artifact-anomaly slowly melted and merged together. After five hours of constant additions of my darkness inside it, I had a lump of glistening dark teal metal. The lighting and fire inside of it merged with the metal and the darkness. The fact that it had so much of my power inside it made it easy for me to manipulate it. It was an extremely hard and durable substance, but if I wished for it, it would melt, reform and reshape at my will or it could solidify and cool down quickly. This was just perfect for my project.

So, with the time we had, we prepared. Soon, I would be married to my girls and we will become a real family. There was also preparation for the inevitable war and the upcoming attack from apt he unseen enemy. So many things to take into the account and so little time.

My girls were all busy and so was I. This time I wasn’t lazing about and picking my nose, now I was working alongside them. Elaya prepared the Val tribes and Eleanor prepared the human kingdom, while I prepared the rest of my Faction. We were all doing everything in our power to rid out territory of spies and to improve our forces. A lot of money spent for supplies and equipment, a lot of time spent of training and preparing. We couldn’t know if that would be enough, we could only hope that we had plenty of time, perhaps a few years or even a decade. If the darkness was in some way related to the one fourteen thousand years ago, it was patient and it could wait. We hoped that this was the case as it would allow us to prepare.

In the months before our marriage ceremony, we did a lot of things. My forces became fearsome, the people who I trained for others also gained plenty of knowledge to be able to teach others. Everybody was getting ready. We bode time and waited.

Beast Fiend. Chapter 52.

Within a large conference room a number of influential people all sat around the table. They were all summoned urgently, the message they received called for a meeting in the Kernun kingdom. Seeing how most other capitals had stargates already, it didn’t take long to assemble every lord of allied races.

The emissaries from dwarves and gnomes were here just like the last time. They appeared together and walked spa round together with a few bodyguards, who however had to stay outside. The information to be shared within the room had to stay secret.

Everybody was checked to see if there were any magics or enchantments present on any guests. This ticked off some of the guests, like Lord Hooligein, the ruler of the demons. His escort was also prohibited from joining the session. The succubus that always was beside him was very angry, but she had no say in the matter, even if she was the head of a house, she wasn’t the leader of her people.

Lord Galadrim and Lady Cerebria were both a little dissatisfied with them being woken in the middle of the night, but the urgency of the call made them dress up and taken only a handful of guards, they teleported to the center of the Kernun Kingdom. In reality, such action could be called foolish, but Zern of the Val tribes had proven his good intentions over the few years he was a ruler and he did a great job of helping the realm.

There also was Regios the Dragon, Lord of the monster lands, the powerful man who was perhaps the strongest in the assembly, who previously wasn’t allowed to participate in just any meeting, but now he was here. This unnerved some of the people present, mainly the dwarven and gnomish ambassadors.

The people who were not here were the Naga and Merfolk, neither of whom had the stargates within their territories. They either didn’t want anybody coming there or just didn’t get around to request them. Snow elves also weren’t here as they were very hostile towards the other races, almost as much as the Naga, but the scaly people at least traded with the rest of the world. Also, the snow elves were almost sure to be allied with the darkness, so they are likely to be enemies.

And of course there was I, Zern along with my seven beautiful fiancées. Flaer wasn’t here, she was still recuperating, but of course she wouldn’t be allowed to such an official meeting regardless. This was too important of a business.

“Lord Zern, I know we are acquainted, but I happen to notice that you have all your seven girls here, while my sweet Ratisin has to stay outside. It seems hardly fair.”

“Lord Hooligein, I don’t mean to offend you or your lovely escort, but the matter we are about to must remain a secret and I believe that it won’t if your little succubus will be here.”

“What is it that you are implying?”

“My girls don’t have any solid evidence, but some of the demons from the house of Lust as well as house Envy and house Pride are all connected with our enemy. They may not know it, but many of their missions benefit the darkness and are done to help weaken the other kingdoms or to spread the darkness.”

“Are you saying that Ratisin wants to end this world?”

“Not exactly. She may not know whom she is working for, but if any information reaches her, it reaches the darkness. Everybody present here has been verified to work against it, so we are all here to discuss some important things.

Lady Cerebria, have you brought the scrolls I requested? Aedim had some of them prepared beforehand, but she didn’t have access to the very important ones. If we can read what is within those scrolls, we can learn what the darkness is.”

My words created a bit of a stir. The darkness was out there in the world, working and it did plenty of bad things, enough to prompt people to exchange various forms of help. Some places had cultists or bandits roaming around, others had monsters appearing out of nowhere. While most of these instances were contained and neutralized, the case remained, something was working below the surface. If they know who or what it is, they have an upper hand at fighting it.

“Lord Zerd, I hardly believe the ancient scrolls can tell us the identity of whatever the darkness is. These scrolls date all the way back to the first time it appeared and even before then.”

“If you will, please give them to my precious Aedim, she will take a quick look at them.”

The scrolls were passed to the green and brown haired girl, who was sitting not to far from me with a mature look. She unfolded some of the scrolls and looked through them. Stopping half way through one of them, she reads it out loud to us.

“Oculerna, the Watchful Eye. One of the ancient gods, overseer of the world. Her gaze touches every corner of the realm, unhindered and unobscured. The vision of the heavens, she looked upon us and judged us. Until the day she vanished, she spent every day looking for the Answer.”

There were some more words about her, descriptions, tales, folklore among other things, but I stopped Aedim.

“This is the entity that is the darkness, Oculerna, the ancient God which has been corrupted.”

“Are you kidding me? You got us all here on such a short notice to recount old myths? What kind of preposterous joke is this?”

“I would hope that it was the joke, but sadly it is not. I myself has been to the Zone, the area where darkness lies. Within that place I have touched it and I saw it. The power beyond our imagination, vile and corrupted, nevertheless it is there. Almost unlimited power, capable of anything.”

I gesture towards Meriden who recounted everything that happened within the Zone. For the most part she was there and she witnessed what happened. In few places I had to add the little details she could have missed. When it came to the moment I made the anomaly collapse, it was my turn to speak. I told them everything, up to and including freeing Flaer from the illusion. As incredible as it all sounded like, everything was true.

“…something has awoken the ancient god and corrupted it. What’s more, I believe the power is much greater than what the power of the god was, only limited by the fact that the darkness has to spread through the lands. If it weren’t for the wards Regios has set up, it most likely would have covered majority of the eastern lands.”

Everybody stayed silent. They didn’t believe my words, hoping for me to be wrong. While gods are not all powerful, they are above and beyond any other existence in the realm. If there is something so powerful, we truly have no chance…

“You beta be kidding lad, if he be right, we be as good as dead.”

“Afraid that it is so. The darkness comes from the ancient god. Whether it is that God or something that took its power, the power of Oculerna is what we are against. Now, the better question, how do we fight against the darkness. At the moment, it is confined within the eastern part of the continent, but how do we defeat it. Right now, even with all the peers of the guardians, I am no god and I won’t be able protect the realm from it.”

“So you are saying we have no chance of fighting, we should give up and die?”

“No, Lord Galadrim, I want to ask you, why now? Why did darkness appear thousands of years after the last one?”

“What do you mean by that?”

“What I mean is, the power laid dormant for thousands of years since ancient gods entered their slumber. And yet, here it is, awakening and corrupting the lands. The power is still around, available for the taking.”

Once again the room fell silent. If there is truly power for us to take, it would make one of us a god. The power to forge the lands and shape the world as we desire. It would make us rulers of the realm.

“Right now, there are two more temples, hidden somewhere in the west and north of the continent. If we can uncover either one, we can take the power of the dormant gods and use it to defeat the darkness. We can become gods ourselves.”

“Lord Zern, whatever you propose, it is preposterous. Firstly, how would we be able to wield such powers? They are not for mortals to comprehend. And second, who would be the so called gods? And furthermore, how would a single God be able to stop the darkness, where six gods failed before?

“As to answer your question, you are well aware that Gargoyle, the ancestor of my dear Lilith and the source of one of my powers, he was able to take the power of God for himself. I have no doubts that I am capable of such feat. I believe that answers two of your questions.”

The gnomish ambassador had a sour expression on his face, hearing my answer. I don’t think he likes the idea of me having power of a god.

“As to your third question, I don’t know. I believe that the Guardians were severely weakened and didn’t have the full powers of the gods, which made them much weaker than the darkness. Perhaps a fully powered god will be strong enough to take it on. Besides, I won’t have to fight it alone, I have allies.”

The room was now filled with low murmur. The people who came with somebody, they talked amongst themselves. My idea was something to consider, because perhaps it was the only option we had. If we are truly fighting an ancient god, we need one of our own.

“Let’s say we believe you and we will go along with your crazy idea. What do you propose we do now?”

“Right now we prepare. Val people has been searching for the temples for a while, now we can send a few extras, perhaps post some quests within guilds. What’s more important, we need to prepare for the time when the darkness will strike. Soon, it will retaliate for my intrusion into its lands and for taking something that belongs to it.”

I made a hand gesture to Lady Cerebria, prompting her to speak, as she wanted to say something.

“Are you perhaps talking about the whispers?” I nod. “So, that’s why every star now talks about the coming of the end.” Another nod from me.

“What ye be talking about?”

“For about two weeks, since the incident that Lord Zerd has described, every star-whisperer had heard nothing, other than warnings of the end of the world. ’The end is nigh’, ’the darkness cometh’, ’armies of the void will march’”

“Yes, I believe that soon a war will start. The darkness has noticed our pr since in the world and it has noticed that we have the power to repel it somewhat. No, not repel, no overpower it. I stole a bit of the power that belong to it. It saw me and it wants me gone. It wants all of us gone. Soon it will lead whatever it has against us.”

“But who would follow the darkness? Where are the armies of the void, that the whispers talk of?”

“Lord Hooligein, honestly, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s the snow elves or some of the demons who were recruited. Maybe the cultist have enough numbers to pose real threat. That is unknown to me, as I forbid my Bloodborn from infiltrating the inner workings of the cult, their magic and indoctrination being too dangerous. While I am immune to mine control, my subordinates are not.”

“So, we have to prepare for the enemy we don’t know exists and where it is hiding?”

“That’s the best I can tell you. We look for the power to defeat the darkness, but in the meanwhile, we prepare for it to strike. We need to train armies of our own, to weed out any spies and to be ready when the time comes. And most of all, we have to keep this a secret. I believe you all understand that?”

Everybody in the room looked at me, their expression grim and serious. Even lord Hooligein was unhappy, but understanding how this was of upmost importance. Nothing could be said to anybody he can’t trust the whole hundred percent, which amongst the demons is almost everyone.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have to be ready for when the enemy strikes. You should all go home and make preparations. The darkness will strike, it will be soon and it will be bloody. People will die, it will only depend on how well you prepare, how many people will survive. Go home and think about what you learned today.”

Beast Fiend. Chapter 51

Within the Flaer’s mind everything was dark. Vast emptiness encompassing the entire world, nothing but the darkness around me. I looked around and felt the sensation of déjà vu. Under my feet was black gelatinous floor, reflecting some unseen light. There was nothing producing any light, but it felt like I could see everything perfectly, only there was nothing to see.

I look around, trying to find something. Nothing can be seen in close proximity to me, so I have to try harder. I turn into the fox beast, trying to get the most of my senses. Expanding my perception as I often did through meditation, I try to find where my little girl was. At first there was nothing, just emptiness and void of Amy life. But after some hours passed, I was able to distinguish faint sighs of movement somewhere far to my side.

I grow wings and take off, going towards where I felt Flaer. I don’t other flying high, just staying close to the ground, gliding forward. After more time passes, I notice the first change. At a distance, there stands a shadowy figure. It is completely made of darkness, just black smoke moving around. I get closer u till I can have a good look.

Before me stands a copy of Flaer, her features distorted and twisted, but it is unmistakably her. Her form is completely black, incorporeal. From her legs black tendrils are going into the ground, like roots. I get close enough to touch it and I see that it had a normal eye with eyelids and skin, just looking into the emptiness and crying. Only a single part of the apparition is real.

I try touching it, but it completely dissolves into nothingness and reforms few meters away, the shadow rising from the ground and taking the shape it had previously. I approach it again and on my touch the same happens.

Understanding that this is pointless, I do another check, expanding my senses. There are many of these things, all around the area. Most of them are concentrated in one area some distance away, and from there they all spread slowly. It is like they are all walking away from the single point.

I take off again and move towards the center of this phenomenon. Everywhere around me a lot of these figures can be seen. Each one is black, but with some feature of the real girl. Some have fingers, others have feet or stomach, some honey have few strands of hair. It’s like something shattered Flaer into millions of pieces and gave each one to the darkness. Was this what the entity did to the poor girl?

After half an hour I close in to the large. Umber of these things. They all stand close together, black and lifeless smoky figures, just crying, weeping silently. I try to look for some clues. Something must tell me where the real dragon girl is.

“Flaer!”

In reply, every apparition around me turns to me, their mouths open in silent scream, showing the gaping darkness inside them. They are all the same, just simple figure with no will. But they reacted, which means somewhere here there is the real one.

“Flaer! I am here! I came for you!”

The monsters are still looking at me, but they start moving towards me. There must be thousands of them, if not more. The many black bodies converge on my location. Looking around, there is a single point where these things seem to be walking around something, as if avoiding it. There shouldn’t be anything here other than me, Flaer and these things, so I guessed that the girl must have been there.

I fly towards the location where the smokey figures try to walk around something. Coming close, I can see a small figure on her knees, her face covered with her hands. Or what should have been hands. She is mostly whole, but parts of her are missing. Her body and legs are mostly intact, but her arms missing beyond elbows and her head is gone, leaving only hair, the neck and some skin.

I come closer, calling out to her.

“Flaer!”

But she doesn’t react. How could she, she has no ears. I get closer, trying to reach her, but when I come within meters, all the apparition suddenly come for me, trying to grab me. Their finders and claws sink into my flesh. I should be stronger than this, but this is Flaer’s mind. In here she is the goddess and the ruler, whatever she thinks goes.

I try to fly away, but the apparitions all have wings as well. They try ripping my flesh, chasing after me, slashing at me with theirs shadowy talons and tails. This is not good.

I fly away, leading them away, but at a certain distance, they give up, coming back to wherever Flaer is. They just stand around, weeping like they did before.

Damn, what can I do? I could try and absorb them, but they have fragments of Flaer and I need her whole. I don’t think she will recover if some of her pieces are missing. Although, how do I know the darkness didn’t consume her already?

I fly some distance away and think for a minute. I should be able to charge at her and pick her up. With my speed there is little contest on who is stronger and faster, but there are just too many of them. What do I do?

I make some distance between us and then charge at Flaer, hoping to reach her. At first everything seems fine, but then every apparition dashes for me, trying to kill me. They sink their shadowy tendrils into me again. I can’t get close enough to the girl before I die like this. Once again, I get away before it’s too late.

Damn it! What can I do? Why can’t they ignore me? It worked with anomalies… Wait, I am dumb. I have darkness of my own, why do I forget about it now?

I engulf myself in my fire and every apparition immediately looks at me, it does nothing. It seems they feel my darkness to be different, but since it is purified, it should be effective against them. I begin another descent.

As I get closer, the shadowy figures move away. They don’t like my black flames. I hope it goes smoothly. When I reach the threshold at which they attack, they all charge at me once again, but they her repelled by my fire. Their foul power cannot come close. Some of them get pushed forward by the fiends behind them, but once they touch my fire, they fall apart, their smoky bodies unraveling, appearing at a distance away.

I make my way towards Flaer. I would like to go faster, but the black figures push me away, even if my fire repels them. I push forward, going towards Flaer. Slowly but surely I get very close to her.

“Flaer!”

I try to shout to get her attention, but she doesn’t reach again. I guess I will have to actually touch her. I bring forth more power, trying to push the apparitions further away, landing new the dragon girl. Slowly I take step after step, coming closer to her. There is a lot of smoke around me, pushing against me, the forms of the black figures melting into one dark mess. It does not want me to reach my girl.

I come closer and closer. Just about close enough to touch her. With a last push I reach out to her and grab her. The moment my flames engulf the girl, every shadowy monster begins writhing about in pain. It seems each one of them is still connected to the real one.

Flaer gets startled by my touch. She must have been here for a long time alone. While this is mostly an illusion, it is still a horrible experience. I hold her close to me, hugging her fragile frame. She is nude, but I don’t care about that now, I am happy to hold the dragon girl. I couldn’t loose the cute little kid, not now after all we have been through.

At first she is fearful of me, but once she feels me rubbing her back, trying to comfort her, she hugs me back and shudders, crying. Parts of her are missing, but she still seem to remember me. I hold her, not wanting to let her go. Around us the smoky figures slowly fall apart, their dark bodies dissipating into nothingness. The fragments of Flaer come towards her slowly, filling in the missing pieces.

I whisper to her that it is all ok, trying to make her feel better. My touch calms her, soon she stops crying, only holding on to me, making sure I am still there.

Each fragment of her slowly makes its way to her, but too slowly to my liking. I doubt I can really do anything about it, so I just wait. Slowly, the girl in my arms reforms, her body becoming whole again. After some hours, she is almost completely herself, with only few parts still missing.

“Zern, I was so scared. Where were you? I tried calling for you, asking for you, but you weren’t there…”

“Yes, I know. I tried getting to you as soon as I could. I am here now, it is all ok.”

“Zern, where are we? I am scared.”

“Don’t worry. This is just an illusion. We are in your head, waiting for you to be whole again. Soon we will go back to wherever everybody is. They are all worried about you, they want you back with them.”

“Regios? Mercissa?”

“Yes, they and the others too. Meriden is just outside, sitting beside you as well as Aedim. We will be out soon, don’t worry.”

I hold the girl, trying to ensure her of safety. She is almost reformed, just few pieces around. But there is one thing that is still unsolved. What scared me? Did the same happened to me that it terrifies me so much? Or was it som thing else?

We waited for longer until Flaer was complete again. I held her, slowly patting her head, comforting her. She still wasn’t over the trauma, but she should be ok. Once she wakes up this will be nothing more than a nightmare.

Before we leave, I still have to find out what happened. That is probably why Aedim hasn’t pulled us out yet. The only way to find out is to ask Flaer.

“Flaer, are you ok now? I need to ask you something.”

The girl looks at me with slight fear in her eyes, but replies to me.

“Yes, I am ok. I am fine.”

She tries to be mature now. I can feel her fear, but I also admire her courage. I hug her closer to me to elevate the fear.

“Flaer, do you remember what happened to you?”

“I… I am not sure. We were walking and you played around with the thing, when the skies turned dark and everything became scary. I was scared but you punched the ground and covered all of us with your wings. I thought everything would be ok, but then it turned dark and I was here.”

The girl was talking quickly, trying to tell me what she remembers. I listened carefully, remembering every little detail.

“It was here. The bad thing, it was looking at me. First, it just looked at me but then it did something and I was on fire. I felt like I was forgetting things and it became scary. I couldn’t see or hear anything, so I stopped and cried.”

Tears rolled down her cheeks, remembering what happened must have been scary for her. She tried speaking, but I stopped her and let her pour out her fear. It was good for her. After she stopped sobbing, I asked another question.

“Is it still here?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Can you show it to me?”

She pointed towards the ground. I didn’t understand what she meant.

“Flaer, all this is in your head. You can do anything you want. Can you show me the thing that did this? If we see it, we can get out.”

She looked at me for a second, closed her eyes and flinched, as if trying to do something very hard. The darkness around us moved, parting away and the ground flew from under us. Very quickly it was far away and we floated in front of it. There was a massive eye.

It wasn’t alive or sentient, just simply watching. There was no light in the eye, just dead stare. But this was enough. I remembered what happened to me, all the time I spent with the eyes. They were different, alive and watching, but this was not much better. Flaer shivered when she looked at the massive eye ball.

“Flaer. Good job. You’ve done well.”

She didn’t say anything, only pressing her face into me harder. I held onto her as well. There appeared a pull from beyond, Aedim was trying to get us out. I held on and went towards it. I knew what the entity was and I had an idea, what it was before. Now, if only Aedim had the extra information needed to solve this puzzle.

Beast fiend. Chapter 50.

My sleep was short. I saw something, it made me want to wake up but kept me asleep. I was a hostage in my own mind, my thoughts no longer my own, uncontrolled and twisted. I felt like screaming, yelling at the top of my lungs, trying to make a sound.

It was all fruitless. I couldn’t escape, not until something pulled me out of the dreamscape. I heard a faint voice calling me and I reached for it, trying to get out of the nightmare. I thrashed about, punching and kicking the air.

When I woke up, I threw a punch upwards, making a large hole in the tents and forcing some cloth to fly very far away. My punch had too much force behind it, if somebody was there, they would be blown away.

When I open my eyes, I see that Mercissa is looking at me. My head is actually on her lap, her hands brushing my hair. My body is covered in frost and small frozen droplets. Through out my transformation, my body has become so monstrous, that instead of a fever or a cold giving me a few degrees difference in temperature, the difference becomes a hundred or so degrees. If I had a fever, I would probably set the tent on fire.

For a moment after I wake up, I feel relaxed, feeling a familiar presence. But then I hear Meriden, her voice coming from my side. Looking in her direction, I see he looking at me and her eyes unnerve me. They black pupils remind me of something, some void too deep for me to understand. I don’t know what it is, but I am scared to look into her eyes. I look away, trying not to think about the eyes.

Meriden notices this and she is somewhat bemused by my reaction.

“Zern, what happened?”

“Don’t…”

I can’t speak properly.

“Zern, what is it?”

“Please, don’t look at me.”

“What? Why? Zern please tell me what happened?”

“I don’t know, but I can’t look into your eyes. They scare me. I am scared.”

Meriden doesn’t know how to reply. All this time I seemed like a single bravest person, never relenting or kneeling before my adversaries, yet now I am scared.

While the girl states quiet, it’s the dragon girl that talks next.

“Lord Zern, what happened out there. I am worried that Flaer won’t wake up. Did you turn her and is she one of us now?”

Strange question considering all the circumstances. We are in a middle of a war zone, danger left and right, monsters, anomalies, the darkness… And all Mercissa asks is if I have used her immature niece’s body.

“No, she isn’t. I had to give her my blood to save her, her wounds were too grievous.”

“Ok. Lord Zern, tell us what happened. Regios had asked the others who arrived with you, but they only know bits and pieces. Brother asked me to get you to talk when you wake up. He needs to know what happened.”

“Hah. Well, no point beating around the bush. Let’s go.”

I get up, stretching my muscles. My mind is hazy, I still haven’t recovered yet and my sleep was restless, not letting me restore any energy. I look at Meriden, but once she lifts her gaze I turn away. I can’t take her gaze on myself. I am scared of being watched. Of something watching me…

As we walk out of the tent, I see people looking at me. I see their eyes staring at me, the black of their pupils trying to uncover me. The void in that darkness is looking right at me. I shiver uncontrollably and quickly walk back into the tent. Anything is better than that.

“Zern, what’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. I am scared of their gaze. Of their eyes. Something makes me cringe on the inside, it is making me panic. I can’t look into people’s eyes.”

Meriden is confused by my words. She doesn’t understand what happened. Walking out she calls for Regios to come in but tells him not to look at me and then she goes to use the whisper stone to talk with Aedim. Our one smart person might be able to help.

While they girl talked, Regios came in. He tried to look away and I was thankful. Right now I could only withstand Mercissa looking at me as her eyes lacked pupils, like mine.

We talked. I told him about how we entered, about the first monster we killed. Then I told him about the anomaly and the artifact. I turned into my demon form and showed it to him, still shivering when his eyes looked at me.

I recounted my tale all the way down to my return to the camp. It was an easy conclusion, I was the reason for the Release and for so many deaths. It was obvious, once Regios said that the shape of the Zone changed from circular to an ellipse, stretched towards where I was and where my position was.

Regios tried to say otherwise, but I denied his words. I was responsible for what happened. It stung me to have people die because of me, but the guilt wasn’t unbearable. But the fear was. I was afraid for my fated, for Flaer, for everyone I cared about. And also, the eyes. They scared me.

We waited. Regios would talk about what happened. He spoke about how the wards were breached and how monsters attacked. The power of that last Release was massive, birthing many monsters and anomalies from the darkness. By the time we returned, many of them were dealt with, thanks to two of my wives.

While we discussed what happened, a light shone close to me and Aedim appeared from it. She used a port stone which would teleport her right to me, even if I lost mine. She looked at me and her eyes were completely white. She must have changed them before coming here.

I looked back at her and thanked her. She was considerate of me. While I was sitting down, I felt terrified, even if there was nothing to scare me. My mind wasn’t truly mine right now, something happened to me. I told Regios about blacking out, but I didn’t remember what happened then.

Aedim came over to me and hugged. She held me close and comforted me. Meriden came in as well, but she avoided looking at me, not wanting to scare me. I felt bad for pushing her away at the moment, but I couldn’t fight it. Something was making me feel like this.

With Aedim here, I once again repeated my whole story. She listened to it, trying to decipher the mystery before her. She spoke very little, only asking me questions if something wasn’t clearly understood. Only when I was done speaking that she herself talked.

“When the you absorbed the darkness from Flaer, you passed out. Was it like what happened during Lilith’s trial?”

“Not exactly. Back then it was Gargoyle’s dormant power that tried taking over my soul which then formed into a light inside me. This time, it was just attacking my soul, trying to kill me. If it wasn’t for the sphere,I would have died.”

Aedim knew almost everything about me, she was curious about my inner working and asked a lot of questions before. I never thought that I should keep any secrets from her.

“I don’t know what happened yet, but I have a general idea. Let me scan you to understand what happened.”

Aedim needed to see inside me to know my condition. I laid down on some soft cloth and let Aedim do her magic. While I was immune to any direct magical influence, I could allow a person to use magic on me if I opened my soul to him or her. Aedim was the only one who had such permission right now. In theory, she could kill me using magic, but she wouldn’t so that.

The scan took a bit of time. Aedim was an excellent Mage, but my soul was something else entirely. It had thousands of lifetimes worth of memories. Throughout the procedure, Aedim got a complicated expression, both confused and worried. She didn’t tell me what it was, only saying that she stumbled onto something that was irrelevant to the present day.

I actually wanted her to scan me and tell me of my previous lives, but every time when I wanted to ask her, I stopped myself, because if I ever needed to know anything from my past, the information would surface and reveal itself to me.

When she was done, she said nothing, only moving to where Flaer was and scanning her. Seeing as she was out of my tent, I waited patiently. When she returned, she had a hypothesis on what happened.

“I am almost sure that whatever happened to you also happened to Flaer. The darkness weakens the soul and takes over the body, transforming it. That was what happened to the lamia and the minotaur, as well as what was supposed to happen to Flaer. However, since you absorbed the darkness from her, it couldn’t do anything but lock the Flaer in the illusion. I believe you took the main force of the mental attack when you blacked out. Back then you forgot it and it was suppressed as being irrelevant. However, now that you are out of danger, it is seeping out from wherever it is suppressed.”

“But isn’t master Zern immune to magic and illusions? How could something like that happen?”

Meriden asked the right question.

“Zern wasn’t attacked by magic but by whatever entity the darkness belongs to. It was like with the Gargoyle, his power connected with Zern and they communicated. But this time, instead of inheriting memories and powers, Zern was directly connected to whatever the entity was and whatever he felt, it was his own feelings. It also seems that he spent a long time there. Flaer has been locked in the illusion, but to her it is simply a dream, it hasn’t got the same impact. You on the other hand took the majority of the strike.”

“So, what can we do now? Both I and Flaer are suffering from this. How can we help her and how can we stop this fear?”

“I believe that the two problems are connected. I think that if your memory surfaces and you remember what happened, you should be able to deal with it. And I believe the illusion that Flaer is facing is the same that you saw. We connect you two and you should be able to solve this problem. By facing the illusion, you will be able to save you both.”

I knew where this was going. I had to face my fear. I didn’t know what it was, but if it affected me this much, I might not be able to overcome it. The visions that I saw, they must have been grand to make me feel this. I feel like my spirit has been broken, like I gave up fighting. Knowing myself, there is nothing that I know of that would make me give up, nothing short of loosing my loved ones. Even then, I will keep on going to have my revenge and to destroy whatever took them from me.

“Whatever the mental attack was, it affected each of you the same way, trying to break you. If it wasn’t for Zern’s strong soul, he might have been converted as well.”

“I must say, I don’t like what I need to do to. The fear, I haven’t felt anything like it my whole life. Even when I was about to be executed I wasn’t afraid.”

“The reason why you are scared is because you don’t know what it is you are scared of. You fear the unknown. I can’ tell you what was it that you saw, you have to experience that for yourself. But I know that if you face it, you will be able to overcome it.”

Aedim really is smart. Is it my knowledge or is it her own wisdom. It’s like she read books on psychology and has a proper education with it. I really need to thank her more.

“So, when should we go dream exploring?”

“The sooner the better. While Flaer is not in danger within illusion, it is still going to be hard to pull her out. For some time she was in contact with the entity and if her body was getting slowly transformed by the time you got to her, she must have be n close to breaking. The faster we wake her up the less time we will have to spend treating her soul.”

“How long is it going to take?”

“I don’t know. Depends on both of you. If you can face your fears and if she is able to recognize you and to understand that she is in the illusion, it might be as fast as a couple of hours. Otherwise, a couple of days or even longer may pass.”

I nodded at her words. I shouldn’t wait for too long. Meriden and Regios were here as well as Mercissa. The dragon girl was looking at me with pleading eyes, hoping I would save her niece as fast as possible. I had to do it now.

“Ok, let’s do this. Bring her here, I can’t come out right now.”

Hearing my words, Regios smiled slightly and left to get his niece. Mercissa also smiled and hugged me close. I patted her on the back and kissed her cheek. Then I went and hugged Meriden and thanked her for putting up with me. She smiled at me as well. Then I thanked Aedim for her help. I don’t know why I got so emotional, it wasn’t like I was about to die. It would only be a slight separation right now. Still, I had to thank them for helping me.

When Regios came in, he put Flaer on the animal furs gently. Aedim instructed me to lie down and next to her with our heads touching. When we were in position, she began to work her magic. I felt sleepy, my eye lids becoming heavy and my vision blurring. Slowly, I fell asleep, entering the mind of a certain small dragon girl.

Beast Fiend. Chapter 49.

This time I wake up to somebody hitting me. I open my eyes, trying to remember what happened, only to get a feeling of pure terror. I don’t know why, but right now I feel like curling up in a fetal position and dying.

Another slap to the face snaps me out of it. Felmier is sitting near me, trying to shake me free. He regained consciousness and seems to be ok. I look to the side and see Flaer, unconscious, but healed. Her form is nude, her clothes have been burned away. She is still a little kid essentially, so I find some of my clothes I stashed away before and put them on her. My cloak should do fine job protecting her for the moment. Good thing I put it in my backpack.

While I’m moving around, Felmier looks a little panicky. His face shows fear and he gestures me to be quiet. I nod to him and he points his finger up, out of the crater. I wanted to mention the anomalies, but strangely there are only a few. About twenty meters up, there are many of them, each crackling with energy, ready to strike at us, but nearby all of them were gone. I come closer to the elf and whisper to him.

“Hey, what happened?”

“When I woke up, you were shaking, screaming silently in pain. You were in agony and I couldn’t do anything. The anomalies were unraveling around us, turning into the darkness and going into your abdomen. It glowed blue for some reason and around us more space opened up. Sadly, now many monsters are around us, trying to get to us. One of the smaller ones got through already, but I put it down.”

Elf pointed a finger at a fish monster. It looked like a morlock, it’s eyes big and blind, skin pale. It had fins instead of ears and on its back and had webbed fingers and toes.

I peak out of the crater and see that behind the anomalies surrounding us, there are various monsters. Some of them look like the morlock that was lying nearby, others look like dogs or cats. There is one big monster, which is basically a giant brain with a single eye and many tentacles hanging down. I think they are often called beholders. It looks at me and I feel shiver running down my spine, the single eye unnerving me. I feel like panicking.

I quickly duck back down. I can’to let it look at me. Quickly going her Flaer, I check her condition. She is breathing, although somewhat shallow. Her pulse is stable, her wounds healed from my blood. Good thing she is unconscious, I wouldn’t be able to handle her otherwise, not in this place.

I sit down and try turning into a fox. The sphere in my stomach seems to be stopping me. I look at it and it has changed a little. The fleshy parts are now light blue color, like my blood instead of red. In there I feel energy swirling. The darkness it absorbed turned into power for me. I concentrate and absorb it, leaving not a drop behind. Emptied, it stays the same color, but stops glowing. Now I can turn into other forms.

With my senses enhanced, I can feel my surrounding. A meter from the edge of the crater everything is safe, but going out, the anomalies create a maze of some sort. I try to map it out and it looks fine to get out, but I won’t be able to see the edges of each danger, so I will have to use something. Without the lamia, dust and stones are as good as anything. And I do have my tail.

I get close to the elf and speak to him quietly.

“Do you know the monsters out there?”

“I only seen a couple of them. What did you see?”

“There were the morlocks, dog monsters and big cats. All of them looked strong, but they were not attacking each other. There was also a big brain with tentacles.”

“Damn it. The brain is bad, everything else is cannon fodder. It controls them to attack others or does a direct mind attack. Without long range weapons we are as good as toast against it. It will control us to eat us later.”

“I don’t know about that. It looked at me, but I felt nothing.”

“It can’t get through the anomalies. Once we are out, it will take us.”

“I am sure I am immune. But for you and Flaer it will be dangerous. Let’s see. You will take Flaer and carry her, I will go at the front. When we are about to get out, you will stay within the anomalies until I dispose of the brain monster, then you follow me and we walk back to the camp. It was still intact last I saw it.”

Elf doesn’t say anything, just silently nods. Good, I don’t need to convince him of doing anything. I pick up Flaer, make sure the cloak covers her completely and hand her over. Then we start making our way out. Throwing around pebbles would be too slow, so I extend my tail in front of me and use it to judge where the danger is. Most of the time I can feel it without actually poking an anomaly, but sometimes I have to stick it in and get shocked or pulled. Good think these ones have been weakened by me sucking out their energy in my delirium.

We make our way through and the monsters outside become restless. They are on the opposite end of the field, trying to get to us. The brain become ballsy and sends his posse after us. Some of them immediately get ripped apart, but others make it through. About half run around the crater, trying to catch us on the other end of the field. Their monster senses are suited for living in this environment, they must have some detectors, they are already at the center, where the crater is. This is bad, if they catch Felmier, I won’t be able to help much.

We walk and crawl, trying to get through. After few minutes we come to a place with a few meter wide open area. I let the elf rest while making my way back slightly. There I start feeding the anomalies with darkness, making them grow, closing the way to us. This should stall the monsters. I walk out of those anomalies and come back to where Felmier is.

We continue our way out of the anomalies. The field is giant, perhaps hundreds of meters, but further you walk from the crater, fewer anomalies there are. It seems that we were the target of the release, the darkness trying to retaliate for me breaking the anomaly. Or perhaps it wanted to see me. I remember the sensation before I passed out the first time. Something looked at me…

The thought makes me twitch, making me feel very uneasy. Now is not the time. We get far enough from the crater that anomalies are far enough from one another to not be create tight corridors. Some distance away the monsters that were running around the center. Here that can easily catch us. We need to get rid of the beholder. I lead on, hoping to create some distance, but it is of no use. Those monsters are better suited for this environment.

I find a pocket of tightly packed weak anomalies and lead Felmier there. I give him Feldrazil and tell him to guard himself. He should be able to fight, seeing how there is little space for monsters to maneuver.

I walk out if it and look for the brain monster. He is using some of the morlocks as the way to bypass the anomalies, leading them in front of him. He is about twenty meters away. I should be able to kill him quickly.

I get ready for the confrontation, it shouldn’t take long for me to kill him, but as I am waiting, I hear elf shouting at me.

“Master Zern, help me. Please help.”

I turn around and see that Flaer is being pulled into the anomaly. Oh god, what happened? I can’t let Flaer die. I won’t forgive myself. I dash towards them, trying to avoid the anomalies and get close. The elf is fighting against the dangerous entity trying to pull the dragon girl into the center. I get there in time and pull her out, but she falls outside of our little safety pocket. Felmier is on the ground, the sword is beside him. I make sure Flaer is ok and turn to the elf. He seems ok, just tired from all this nonsense. I understand him.

I stand up but someone hits my back very hard. In my back a couple of claws are buried. I spin around, trying to counter attack, but it’s Flaer, her eyes closed. The brain monster must have gotten to her. Damnit. I have to kill him.

I try to pin her down, but she dashes out of the way and towards the elf. It wouldn’t be hard if I wanted to kill her, but I am trying to not harm her. She was about to kill the elf, but stops just short of him. It seems the control doesn’t reach that far, the brain can’t make her kill him. Instead, she grabs the sword and turns towards me.

Without the runes it is just a sword, shouldn’t be too hard for me. In fact, I don’t have to fight her at all, I need to kill the brain. But I can’t just charge at him, it won’t have much problem sending the girl into the swirling death around us. I need her safe first.

I charge at her, my arms and tail ready to grab her. I doubt she can do serious damage to me, the wound she inflicted almost healed already. Just to make it easier, I change into my wolf form, utilizing the extra speed. I get close to her, but she swings the sword, trying to cut me. I dodge it and go in, but she ducks down, dodging my arms.

She then uses her own tail to try and pierce me. Her power is impressive, the transformation made her much stronger. I grab her tail with my own, stopping it completely. Holding onto her tail, I drag her closer to me. Not able to escape, she begins her own attack, swinging the sword around. I try to stop it, hoping to catch her wrist, but she makes it hard.

Standing very close, we do this back and forth fighting with me trying to disarm her. I can’t hurt her, she has already been through enough. Damn, why can’t I use magic, it would make it so easy.

Deciding to use an old trick, I use my forearm to take the hit from the sword. This time my bones are harder than the last time, stopping the sword before it cuts through. Loosing the weapon, I quickly hit her wrist which holds the sword, making her release her grasp on it. With a move of my arm, I throw the sword aside and pick up Flaer, bringing her to the elf. I drop her beside him, making the brain monster loose his grasp on her.

Damn thing gave me a hard time. I am angry and I want to rip the stupid brain apart. I walk out of the safety pocket and run towards the brain. It applies its mind magic on me, tickling my brain, but it is powerless against me. It then sends some of its puppets against me, hoping to stall me. I decimate them with a few swipes of my claws, dropping the bodies around me. Within few seconds I kill off the monsters that were with the brain and get close enough to grab it.

I push my arm into the tentacles, hoping to grab onto something. Any tentacle would be fine, but I actually reach the spine of the monster. It must have been something else before becoming this monstrosity.

I pick it up, ignoring any attempts of escape. Engulfing myself in black fire I walk towards a nearby anomaly. It panics, trying to get out of my grasp, wiggling its tentacles. Ah, scared now you shit.

When I walk into an anomaly, it ignored me, but begins working on the monster. This is a different one from the last time, instead of pulling towards the center, it begins spinning the air around. The tentacles of the monster are being sucked towards the left as it is slightly off the center. The power is very strong, the filthy appendages actually ripping off of it. I hold it like that for a while, feeding my black flames to it. The anomaly grows in strength, making it more extreme.

After a few minutes, the brain seems close to death, bleeding dark red blood. I release it to spin in the middle of the scary thing. After a few seconds, the forces on the body are so extreme front, it rips apart, pieces of flesh flying off.

I don’t stay any longer. I quickly walk out of the dangerous twister, scared to make it fold into an artifact. I don’t want to risk another release just yet.

The two I left in the pocket seem fine. I get to them and see if there are any injuries. Thankfully they are both uninjured. I breath a sigh of relief. Thinking of taking a short break, my thoughts stop once I see some bright flashes off to the side. Within an anomaly, whatever remains of Feldrazil is fighting against the damned thing. Damn it. I must have flung it too hard.

The blade is all crunched up, the runes are glowing, trying to protect the blade. The anomaly sends electricity and flames at the metal, trying to defeat it. King Robert said something about the blade being the best one under the skies or something. Such a pity it was crushed in a stupid anomaly.

Looking at it, I am thinking about taking it out, but before I can do anything, the vortex of energy folds into another artifact, with lightning and fire and the blade all inside it. Resulting stone is very deformed, transparent but beautiful. It looks like lightning and fire have been frozen in amber. Crunched up Feldrazil is also inside it. It’s a weird stone. I pick it up and bring it with us.

I pick up Flaer and carry her forward. The monsters have been killed, it should be safe now. The elf walks behind me, exhausted but happy to be alive. He follows my every step, making sure not to get sucked in by any of the dangerous things around us.

After twenty minutes we get far enough that anomalies become rare. There are at least a few meters between each one and even Felmier can detect them like that. We walk on towards the camp. After another ten minutes we come across what seems to be the remains of the ward. A bonfire and some tents, with a magic formation and a crystal. I can’t activate it and neither can the elf. We walk on.

When we get about hundred meters away, somebody runs out of the bush towards us. Three people come running. There aren’t any anomalies between us, so they get to us safely.

The three people are ones of the five mages who were here previously. Once the release happened, they hid after monsters attacked. Two of them died, but these ones survived.

Amongst them was a young dragon boy, an anthropomorphic cat and an orc. Each one wears some kind of robes and has a staff or wand. Good at magic, but can’t fight monsters without back up. I don’t bother talking, only motioning them to follow.

We walk silently, witnessing the devastation and the death that came here. Without the ward, the darkness has seeped further, letting monsters and anomalies to appear here. The camp was defending itself against them, but they were able to secure the area.

When we walk close to the camp, I see Meriden walking around with a sword, covered in blood and having a couple of cuts on her. Mercissa is also there, with claws on her hands, ready to fight. I get close and they try talking to me but I just walk past them into the camp. I get everyone to the healer, hoping to get everyone treated. Flaer and the elf, as well as the group we picked up are all left there and I walk away.

Silently I walk toward my tent, trying to get away. Out of danger, I feel very unnerved, their eyes looking at me. I need to rest, my mind is too exhausted. With all the danger, the worry for others and the hallucinations, my mind is very tired, slowly going numb. This is hard. I plop onto some furs and close my eyes, hoping to forget this day.

Beast Fiend. Chapter 48.

Darkness didn’t have hold on me for too long. I wake up, my body in pain, my mind on fire. I feel that nothing good has happened, but opening my eyes, I see that it might be an understatement.

The very first thing I notice is that we are all covered in fine layer of blood and that Giaz is missing. Looking above, I see that few meters up and all around the edges of the crater, there are many swirling, glowing and twisting anomalies, trying to reach us and to consume us.

Next, I look over everyone. I notice that Meriden and Mercissa are fine, my dark flame protected them. They are unconscious, but fine otherwise. Next I see the lamia, Nerliss, who has a black mark on her shoulder. It seems to be decaying, but it also spreads the darkness through her skin. Not a good sigh.

While I am looking around, the minotaur lifts his head and opens his eyes. Where before there were more or less normal eyes, there are now two black holes, voids into somewhere far away. He shows a feral scowl and his teeth has all changed, turning into razor sharp fangs. Around his body coils the darkness, turning him slowly.

I don’t hesitate, I flex my tail and pierce the monsters face, going through his skull. I doubt I could help him. But I can help the others still.

The elf seems mostly fine, only slight grey discoloration on the skin, the darkness has missed him. Good.

I turn around to check on Flaer. My breath is cut short as I see a black gash in her stomach. Fuck. Shit. I pick up the little girl and cradle her in my arms. She is trill breathing, but barely. This is bad. I have to get her out of here. I have to help her.

I try and engulf myself in my dark flames, hoping to purge the darkness from inside her, but as soon as they two dark elements touch, Flaer’s face distorts in pain. No, this is not good. Stop. Think.

For a few moments I think about what to do. I check if the anomalies still ignore the dark element using my tail. It passes through them. Good. I can get two of my wives out of here. I am thinking about picking everyone up, but I remember that my darkness doesn’t engulf the others, not on the inside. The anomalies will be able to feel them. Right, first things first.

I pick up Meriden and Mercissa and create the large flame around me. Then I quickly ascend, flying towards the camp. Everywhere is destruction, darkness consuming everything around us. Anomalies, monsters, death everywhere. By flight it takes me about ten minutes to reach the camp. It is still intact, but is overrun by monsters, trying to kill anybody in there. There were no mages on the way, the ward must have been breached.

I descend in the middle of the camp. Someone runs to me, thinking I am a monster but Regios gets to me first. I put the girls down onto some cloth and turn to the dragon. He sees me and his eyes open up wide. Looking at myself, I see a black hole in my stomach. It goes right through me, opening in my back. I shouldn’t be alive, much less moving about. I notice that I am in my demon form, it must have activated to save me, demons are hard to kill.

Regios wants to say something, but I stop him.

“Not now, Flaer is in danger.”

Hearing it his eyes show fear but he doesn’t stop me. I spread my wings and fly towards where the crater was. All this time I have to be covered with my black flame as anomalies are over abundant, surrounding the crater completely. I descend and see that the lamia has been turned as well, becoming like a giant snake, her mouth opening and trying to swallow the elf whole. I kill her, hoping to save the elf. He is still alive.

Now I have to get out. I can’t carry them like I did with my two fiancées. There must be another way. Should I gave them my blood? But I don’t know how it will affect them if even my darkness makes Flaer flinch in pain unconsciously. This is hard.

I look around, hoping to find some way out. I try digging the earth, but all around us, even the earth has something in it. In one place some acid begins oozing out, which made flesh come off my bone immediately. I don’t feel pain, must be all the adrenaline and my inhumane physique at work. Still, I need an escape plan.

I try to search for something around us, but there is nothing useful, just ruined equipment, the shredded clothes, the sphere from before. Wait, that can be useful. I pick it up and study it, hoping to learn the properties. It doesn’t seem to react to my touch at all. I think about how to activate it and try to feel the darkness inside. It is there and I seem to be able to manipulate it, but I am afraid I can unfold the anomaly and kill the two who are still alive. I drop it for now.

Wait, I can draw the darkness out of them. If I can weaken this vile darkness enough, adding my own should help save them. I try it with the elf first, feeling for the dark element inside him, hoping to reach it with my power. I feel some specks of it, rather tiny, but they are present in his body. Drawing them out, he starts convulsing slightly, his muscles spamming involuntarily. He doesn’t show any signs of pain, but it is still disturbing to look at his unconscious body thrashing about like that. Soon the darkness reaches the skin and comes out. I can’t let it float about, if anomalies absorb it they will grow and consume us. I take it in.

When the darkness touches my skin, I feel immense amount of pain. It is like myriads of needles piercing my skin all at once, trying to dissect my body. I feel both on fire and frozen, my nervous system goes into shock. Not even adrenaline can help me here. All the darkness has left Felmier, his body returning to normal color, but my body is now being assaulted by the foreign darkness. It is trying to overtake me, going straight for my soul. It converges on the blue light inside me and the two forces clash, sending agony through my being.

I drop on the floor, rolling around, bleeding. Having a hole in my stomach doesn’t help. For a moment I feel ok, pain receding and I am able to stand up, only to fall over again on my back. For a few seconds the pain makes me writhe around and then it lessens quickly. I take a few breaths, trying to calm myself down. My heart is beating like crazy, pumping the blood around my exhausted body.

I can feel the foreign darkness concentrating around my stomach, which I don’t have right now. Is it trying to recreate it?

I look at the gaping hole in my midsection and see that the sphere is in there, absorbing the darkness. It also drinks in my blood and sprouts some fleshy tendrils, hooking into my body. This time there is no pain, I don’t feel my flesh ripping apart or being repurposed.

I wait for a minute, trying to regain my strength. The attack on my soul was draining. After the little break I look at the sphere again. It seems to have mended the hole and grew into my body, becoming one with it. The new change to it is that it begins glowing with blue light, like my demon soul. I try to understand what it does and it seems to be collecting the darkness and purifying it. I don’t know how it does it, but it’s not important right now. I need to save Flaer.

Looking at her, I see her wounds growing, trying to if next her, she was hit by a considerable force, but she is a dragon and she is strong. I will have to suck in all the darkness from within her. Whatever little bit was in Felmier, it was just residual leftover from the strike I received, Flaer has the actual darkness from that entity. Just thinking of it make me shiver, the power and the size of it, it is beyond me, beyond any of us. I am afraid of it. But, this is not the time, I have to save Flaer.

I get myself ready and begin channeling the darkness out of her, firstly, any darkness that has spread from her wound returns to it and then it begins flowing from it towards my stomach. I direct it there, hoping that whatever the sphere does can save me. For now the darkness doesn’t seem to cause any pain to me, so when it all leaves Flaer’s body, I try to heal her using my blood. I bite my hand and let her drink it. She is unconscious, but it seems to be enough to trigger transformation. Her body is engulfed in black fire and lighting, transforming to become like me and Mercissa. She goes through it, still out of it, not regaining consciousness. I will have to hope she wakes up soon.

There was a considerable amount of the darkness and it was very concentrated. It seems to be so powerful, it darkened the blue glow coming from the sphere. I try to feel what is happening and I find that the darkness almost reached the centre of the sphere, where the glow originates. The foul power touches that point and the pain assaults me. Right, my demon power must be there.

I fall on the ground again, trying to withstand the agony, but before the pain reaches unimaginable heights, I pass out.

Now I am in a vision. I know this feeling, but it is different from when I was the dark God Gargoyle, there I was watching through his eyes, but now I am free to move around and to think for myself.

Around me, there is darkness. Above, on all sides, it’s just empty, endless void. Below me is also darkness, but it seems to be gelatinous and glossy, although there is no light sources here.

I look for anything else but find nothing. Not having anything better to do, I spread my wings and fly up. I fly very high, there doesn’t seem to be a limit. Out there is nothing, just the same darkness without end. I stop and look around me, and it seems to be the same, until I look down. At large distance away from me, down below the blackness ends and turns into pinkish white color. It makes a circular shape, the black circle being extremely big, miles and miles across. It almost looks like a… Pupil?

This is freaky. Did I just walk on something’s pupil? And what must be this big, to have eyes of that size? The situations unnerves me. Hoping to prove myself wrong, I fly higher and higher up, trying to see what it really is. As I ascend, I see that it really was a giant eye, the black pupil and the white of the eye. The higher so fly, the more obvious it is. The size of the thing makes me feel very nervous, but the next though sends me into panic.

It is focused on me. I am right in the center of the damn thing. I try to fly left, but the more I fly, the thing doesn’t seem to move, or it moves, but stays the same relative to me. It is centered on me. Fuck. This thing, just what is it?

Flying even further away, I can see that the eye is bloodshot, veins of different colors showing on the surface of the white parts. I don’t know how high I’ve been flying, but this thing seems to be as large as a planet. I must be a couple kilometers up and I still can’t see anything but this freaky eye.

I fly around, but being constantly follow makes me feel worried. This thing watches me. It knows I am here, it looks at me, it studies me. I can’t escape it. There must be a way. I dash towards the side again, hoping to make it stop looking at me. I follow the curvature of the eye, wishing to find the place where it will be stopped by the eyelid. My nerves are at their limit. This is too much.

I fly, fly and fly. I don’t know how long, minutes, hours or years, but suddenly I notice it. The eye is disappearing, the edge of the eye being covered in darkness. I look at it using my enhances senses and as I come closer I realize that its body is made of darkness, that is its eye lid. I did it, soon I will be able to hide from its gaze.

As I fly closer, I realize something else. The body of this thing is of slightly different color than the darkness around me. I can hardly tell the difference, but it is there. I push my senses to the limits, bringing out my fox power. And then it hits me. All around me there are two colors of blackness. The empty void and the darkness of this thing. The tendrils are coiling around me, parting to let me fly through and reforming behind me. Everywhere I look, there is this dark cloud. It’s like a dark nebula, an endless collection of black smoke, concentrated around this eye. The closer the pupil gets to the dark eyelid, the more I hope it will finally stop looking at me. I have to escape it. The stare. The massive eye. It’s too much.

When I can almost feel my victory, when the pupil is almost covered, leaving me to myself, the darkness of the body parts, once again revealing the pupil to me. I can’t take it. I scream, letting out my fearful, hopeless cry. This is too much for me. This void, where there is nothing but darkness, no sounds, no light, no people. The eye is looking at me, gazing at my puny form. I can’t run.

Seeing my display of weakness, the darkness all around me starts shuddering slightly, in rhythmic movements. It is laughing at me. It thinks I am funny. It thinks it is so much more powerful than me. But I will show it. In my stomach there is something that can consume you. I will consume you.

I dive towards it, flying down, gaining speed as much as I can. I feel the darkness and I pull it towards me, but there is so much that it is I who is being pulled. No matter, it is perfect. I will eat you, I will stop you from looking at me.

My speed is enormous, flying downwards like an arrow, I soon reach the surface and dive into it, making the eye dissolve into the darkness, parting the dark clouds, making them swirl around me. I begin draining all of it, making sure it will never be able to look at me.

Yes, it works, the black mist flows towards me, being sucked into my stomach. I take it all in, not caring for the pain. My body spasms from all the vile energy that I consume, but I continue, draining the energy, making sure to never see that eye again. I can feel victorious, my triumph is evident. I smile and finally relax, myself being alone in the darkness.

But I am not. The black mist around me shudders again, laughing. I scowl at it and suddenly I feel it. The gaze, at the back of my head. I turn to face it, but there is nothing. I growl at the darkness and once again I feel the sensation of being watched. I turn towards the new location, but there is only black smoke. Again and again, I feel the stare, but when I look there is nothing.

I eat all the darkness, my body long dead from the pain, completely covered in the vile smoke. I don’t know how am I still moving, but I continue onwards. After hours of this torture I give up and scream at my powerlessness. I can’t win. When the darkness hears me, it laughs again.

There, in the distance, too far for me to ever reach a giant eye forms. On my right, something moves. An eye is formed. Below me, too far for me to reach, another one. All around me, the darkness twists and turns into countless eyes. Looking at me, staring, watching me. I can’t win.

I scream and cry, shout and thrash about. I consume all the darkness, but there is always more. I slowly dissolve in the darkness, watched by the eyes, my consciousness seems to be fading. I don’t understand anything, only seeing the eyes wherever I turn. There is no escape. There is no triumph. There is no peace. Only the eyes. I can see the eyes, all that there is are the eyes. I myself dissolve into the darkness, my body slowly turning into the black smoke. I feel it consuming me, turning me, reforming me. I can feel my new circular body, floating in the darkness, looking. I am an eye…

Beast fiend. Chapter 47.

It was finally time to do something useful. For almost three months since the end of local equivalent of may we partied. This could be called an awesome summer, only I wasn’t in school or college, but in some world full of magic and monsters. I have a sweet life, can’t complain about it, but I should be more productive. I mean Elaya is the leader of our tribes and she is only fifteen now. Eleanor is the Queen of the kingdom and she does a great job. Aedim uncovered secrets of teleportation and other magics by using only bits and pieces I gave her. And I am here, spending a week of my time drinking with dragons.

When we were able to sober up, I told Regios that we should go to visit the Zone. Seeing how he was surrounded by three girls, he took my excuse to get away for a moment. So, we packed up whatever little belonging we had and quickly left the party. Mercissa also came with us, although I didn’t really want her to accompany me into the zone, she wanted to go with her future husband to wherever he would go. And honestly, out of all of us, she was the second strongest after me. If anything, I should be scared of Meriden getting hurt.

The Zone was few hours away. We landed in a large camp where there were a lot of monsters and some Val men. Looking around, their equipment is a little damaged and their supplies are not running out yet, but they would need some reinforcements soon. Regios already has the stargate in his city, but the ones that will be coming here are still being made, although they should be ready at any moment.

I talked to the men and they were glad to see me. I was a legend amongst Val people, my power was beyond any of them. My new transformation prompted some questions and I told them as much as I could, but didn’t say anything about my ability to transform others yet. It should be told by the elders later on when they work out any problems that might arise.

They were grateful for the elixirs that Nrogara creates, it saved many lives out here, although they were running low on them. Next shipment should be arriving within weeks, but they already have to ration it, treating only the gravest of injuries. There was the possibility of giving them blood from Meriden and Mercissa, as it too gained a healing factor, but I didn’t want anybody touching what’s mine. I am already here to help, they should be glad because of just that.

Giving my blood wasn’t an option. While I could seal the power to turn others in my Bloodborn, the seal was useless on me. I couldn’t stop people from transforming after drinking my blood, so it was out of the question.

Thankfully only Meriden was here out of all my girls, so people didn’t know about the transformations and they saw Mercissa for the first time too. The similarities between us were attributed to magic. Too easy.

We were given a large space to set up our tent. It was very big, bigger than most others, capable of fitting a dozen people. It was only four people at the moment, but while I was here the other girls might come to visit. They liked spending time with me.

While I was here I decided to help these people and used the port stone to teleport to Lilith, who was in the House of Bloodlust with Nrogara. I got a few boxes of the elixir and ported back to Meriden. Magic is wonderful.

The few extra boxes would allow to explore the Zone further. It was a good thing to explore it as there were many items that had miraculous properties and would help counter the effects of the darkness from within the Zone. Some of them acted like force barriers, preventing projectile attacks or some gave elemental resistance, weakening certain magics. Weaker ones had no drawbacks, but the stronger ones were seeping out the darkness, making their prolonged use somewhat problematic. I now had my own black flames, so it should be ok for me to use the strongest ones. I will speak to them about it later. It’s actually funny how here instead of radiation it’s darkness that does all the bad things.

Firstly, we are going to have a ’guest walk’ as people call it. Our little group with get a couple of veterans with them and walk around, trying to get used to the anomalies and monsters. At the close proximity to the boarders it is rather safe to walk around.

The group that accompanied us were two Val men, a short man named Giaz of Val’Hoona and an elf named Felmier of Val’Eris, a Minotaur and a Lamia. The group of four was one of the best in exploring the Zone and while they rested, they said it would be an honor to accompany me on our first entry. I didn’t protest, although I felt like I would be just fine, seeing as how I was the one who gave them most tips. They all had some gear to resist mind magics, as most intelligent monsters deeper in used it to attack.

We left most unnecessary things in our tent and kept the weapons on us. I had the sword, Feldrazil, and Meriden had a sword and a bow. Mercissa didn’t need anything, seeing as she was a dragon. Flaer also came along, she didn’t listen to my request to stay at the camp, but she wasn’t gonna fight.

From the main camp to the border of the Zone, it took us about a fifteen minutes walk. There we met a small group of magicians who were keeping up a ward spell, keeping the darkness behind a barrier. Such checkpoints were spaced out about one kilometer away from each other and it astonished me how monsters had this many magicians. It didn’t surprise me to learn that some of them were dragons.

Past the barrier the Zone started. The changes were swift, from the lush jungle it turned into a wasteland. Everywhere was dry ground, covered in black ash-like substance. The sky turned from clear blue to grey, with heavy clouds hanging overhead. The plants were mostly dead and the few plants that were alive looked to be dangerous. We walked amongst this dead land for a while, just studying the dangers of the periphery. Meriden was surprised to see this kind of place. She knew that I read fiction about it in the past and she wondered what kind of person would want to imagine such a desolate place. She totally didn’t get the whole idea of adventure and romance of your life hanging by the thread. It’s too early for her to understand it.

As we walked on, we saw the first monster. It was a boar, a big fat boar. Its tusks and snout were large, larger than normal. What made it truly bizarre were its legs. It had six insectoid legs, made out of three portions each. They had sharp spikes and edges, made for cutting into flesh and ripping people apart. It saw us and let out a loud shriek, showing its fury.

The four people with us prepared to fight, but I stopped them. It is time to show what Zern is made of. I take off my cloak and shirt, only leaving my stretchy pants on. They look good and fancy, but in truth they can accommodate my beast forms, so I always have such pants on, just in case. It was a gift from elves after they were impressed with Aedim.

I turn into my half drake and half bear form, combining both defense and brute strength. I look weird, being both a mammal and reptile, but I don’t care now. My form which combines all six powers is even worse.

I wait for the pig monster to charge me. It releases another angry shriek and starts running at me, two front legs ready to strike. It ran closer, bringing two legs up above and behind it, bringing them down once it’s close enough. I take it head on, trying to compare my strength, but the force is pathetically weak. I don’t know what I expected, I can fight a dragon, why would some pigbug pose a threat to me?

The monster tries hurting me, striking me with its legs, but I easily ignore the hits. They don’t even tickle me. Disappointing. I catch the legs and with a quick move remove them from their sockets. I throw away the two limbs and take the next two, also ripping them out. The beast falls onto the ground, only two of its rear appendages remaining. It tries to crawl away awkwardly, bit I use my tail and pierce its body. It twitches for few seconds and then goes limp. The legs are still twitching, reminding me of spiders.

“Well damn. I knew ye be strong, but not this strong.” The Giaz spoke with a heavy accent, akin to the dwarves. I had a slight feeling he was a half dwarf, as he was rather short but stout and muscly.

“Aha, I got a slight strength boost since my last Rite. I think walking in the zone should be ok now?”

“Well, ye ripped the poor thing apart. But these ‘nes are easiest around ‘ere, they’re the bottom of the food chain. Only barrel maggots are below them.”

“Barrel maggots?”

“Aye lass, big fat yellow maggots that everybody ‘ere feeds on.”

Meriden didn’t like what she imagined. She wasn’t squeamish, but insects were not a thing she liked a lot. She hoped she wouldn’t have to meet one.

We left the remains of the monster and walked on. After few minutes I felt a foreign presence and walked toward it. In the place where I felt this foreign thing there was nothing, but I clearly felt something there.

“Aye, master found an anomaly. Tis a young one, only appearing after the last Release.”

“What’s a release?”

“Release is what happens from time to time, a massive wave o darkness washes over the place, makes new ‘nes of these and creates bunch of artifacts.”

“Yeah, it’s really good to enter the Zone right after one, there are plenty of good things we can get some bonuses for.” The elf with a fox tail adds to what his friend said.

“Aye, last time we got a good stone which repels the darkness. They are rare but they help a lot. We got a nice bonus from Regios for it.” Giaz laughs while making a drinking gesture.

“So, what you guys use to scout it out? Pebbles?”

“What would we use pebbles for? We use magic! Aye, Nerliss, show ’em.”

The lamia doesn’t say anything, but she takes out some grass from a pouch and sets it on fire, making a lot of smoke. Using some air magic, she guides it towards the anomaly, showing the edges. Once the smoke reaches the edge, it is sucked in and concentrated at the center. After a few seconds, a wave of air was unleashed from that point, releasing all the smoke.

“The crusher reacts stronger if ye put more stuff in. Throw in a corpse and ye get a fine bloody mist all around the place.”

This thing appeared after the Release, so it is formed by the darkness. What if I put more darkness inside?

“Guys, everyone step back. I have an idea.”

“What be master thinking?”

“Just give me a moment to try this out.”

I release the black flame and concentrate it all around my right hand. The I point it toward the anomaly and shoot it out. It’s like a flamethrower but with a tiny range of about a meter. The anomaly greedily eats all the darkness, making it disappear. My flame-clad hand doesn’t feel any changes, but the rest of my body begins to feel a pull towards the anomaly. I create the flame all over my body, releasing myself from its effect.

The others look at what I am doing and Nerliss is tracking the range of the thing using smoke. Slowly it grows and soon reaches me, but it ignores me. It seems to ignore anything with the darkness element, or perhaps the element is immune to it.

Soon it gets big enough to completely swallow me and get close to the group. They take steps back and retreat. Meriden shouts for me to stop but I won’t stop until I get the result I want. I can still walk away probably, but I need to know if I am right.

“Master Zern, ye making it too big! I never seen one this big.”

The sounds that make it into the anomaly are all distorted, probably the after effect of the thing.

“Hah, that’s what she said!”

Seeing me not caring about the situation, Giaz smirks at my remark and Mercissa turns red. Damn it woman, I didn’t talk about you.

The anomaly is still keeps sucking in my energy, but I have plenty of it. Now that my whole body is inside it, I don’t really need to concentrate it near my hand, I can just make the dark flames all over my body very strong.

A couple of minutes pass and the group is a few meters away now, trying to shout something at me, but the sounds are too messed up, so I can’t understand what they are saying. Suddenly the anomaly starts shuddering, from the center of it the pulsing waves come crashing forward. They go past me, ignoring me but they seem to keep going once they reach the edges. They are not something to be worried about but they push the group back even more.

For a few moments the waves keep appearing, faster and faster, the delay between each one getting shorter. After few seconds there is no noticeable delay, the anomaly is trying to push everything away constantly. It still eats the darkness, but it looks like it’s about to collapse in on itself.

And it does. I only see it because of my inhuman senses but within fractions of a second the whole thing stops consuming my flames, cracks appear in the fabric of space, like the black lighting, but unmoving and unchanging and then it all comes together into the center, creating a perfect sphere. It is half transparent and cloudy, made of fleshy colored red material, with black threads inside. I can feel the darkness emanating from it. It seems harmless to me, but I don’t know about others. Does it even make a difference if my darkness was used for it? But regardless, my theory is correct. Anomalies create artifacts.

“I knew it!”

“Boy, did you just make that artifact? What is this magic?”

“Mages talked about how anomalies and artifacts seem to have a common origin, but for one to create the other… The idea was laughed at before.” Felmier is knowledgable on the topic.

“Well, now we know the truth. For some reason I think if I consume the darkness from the inside, it will unfold and create an anomaly.”

“Don’t ye be doing it now. We should keep going…”

Giaz didn’t get to finish his sentence. The sky suddenly began to darken and turned dark red, looking very evil. I had a bad feeling about it.

“Release! We gotta run!”

“We won’t get out of here in time! We need to find shelter!”

“There is nowhere to hide. We are dead men!”

“It wasn’t supposed to happen until next week!”

The group began screaming at one another. The air was filled with a loud sound, like a very powerful wind somewhere far away. Not having any better idea, I jump up in the air and make my wings appear. With a powerful flap, I send myself downwards at the ground, creating a crater. I shout for everyone to get inside and to try and dig themselves in. Using my tail, my wings, my hands I do everything to make it deeper. We can’t hear one another even when we are only few inches away. The sound gets too loud and I feel the foul energy coming towards us. I am sure I will be fine, but the others…

Once I feel we have no more time, I unfold my wings and cover everyone, trying to shield them. I make the flames appear, making them as big as possible and trying to engulf others with them. My two girls who had my blood easily catch on fire, getting covered by the black fire, but other five people don’t get it. Unless I want to hurt them, I can’t cover them completely. Let’s hope this will be enough.

Shielding others, I receive the full force of the wave. The low grumbling that was heard before quickly turns into high-pitched whistling, making my ears hurt. Then the darkness comes, engulfing everything, making the space distort around us. This seems to be a huge amount, something like this being on the periphery, surely it’s out of the ordinary. Here it should be very weak.

I can feel my senses screaming at me, telling me of the dangers that surround me. If before around us was mostly empty space and dead plants, now it felt like I was being crushed by something vile, some entity of great proportions trying to swallow me whole. After few seconds I suddenly feel emptiness above me, not the normal open air or the dangerous skies above the Zone but something like vacuum, an empty void with nothing in it. And from deep within the void I feel a single massive eye looking at me, trying to study me. The pressure is too much, it only lasts a second but it’s enough. I slip and loose consciousness, falling into the darkness that was around us all. I only hope that I am not the only one who will survive this.