The elven city was grand. It sprouted over the remains of the Highborne city, trees growing and turning into living spaces for elves. They were now masters of whatever was left of the previously great empire.
The architecture was a mesh between the style dedicated to symmetry, glorification of perfection and between the chaotic beauty of nature, growth and plants. It was a strange mix of the two, but it was no less impressive, even after the previously great power fell. Now the elves brought some of that greatness back.
Giant trees were now around, with stairs, doors and tunnels carved in them, giving elves plenty of living space. They loved nature, so there were a lot flowers around as well as smaller trees. Dedication put into growing all this was awe inspiring. Many of the humans and other adventurers traveled here to witness the beauty of these cities.
Below the trees and the massive canopy were stone temples, dedicated to the goddess Lux. They had her statues, statues of their leaders, forms of angels and other beautiful beings. Highborne were people of faith and they had many things perpetrated to their faith and to their goddess. They loved her and they prayed to her.
The enchanting beauty of once great people inspired bards and pushed on many adventurers. The sight was something to behold, goddess Lux was mesmerizing, her forms and her face were beautiful beyond mortal standards, her lips bewitched men, even if her image was only captured in stone. The scale of the temples was also awe inspiring; they were built by real masters, pushing the limits of the imagination. The city was simply amazing.
Sadly, Sel didn’t get a chance to enjoy the view when he came in. He was still unconscious and weak, being dragged into a cell and left here under many wards and protective charms. He was placed in prison, barred with enchanted ironwood, unable to escape. Elves were curious of him and they wanted to observe him.
Sel was taken into the dungeons below the city. There were plenty of other prisoners, most of them already spending years in there, covered in simple rags and withering away. They looked painfully thin, as if they had nothing but thin broth and water for their whole lives. There was plenty of filth in the dungeon, prisoners were rarely given opportunity to wash themselves or clean their cells.
There were few somewhat presentable people, ones who were there the least. Sel was put in the cell next to one such man. To the right of Sel’s cell there was a human, looking to be in about his thirties and wearing good quality leather armor. The cell on the left was empty, ready to accept another prisoner.
He was still unconscious when he was carried into the cell and left there. Elves didn’t want to chance waking him outside of the safety of his cell, inside there were plenty of rune-circles siphoning out the scourge to weaken the demons.
For the sake of the interrogation, a large bowl of blessed water was carried in to splash on the foul beast. Blessed water would purify him and cause him pain, at least in theory. Elves didn’t know that Sel was constantly on fire from within, his pain replaced by the smoldering heat on the inside.
For now he was left to regain consciousness on his own, elves having other business to attend to, like making a report on their encounter with the greyskin.
The man in the nearby cell was eyeing the demon curiously. It wasn’t every day that demons appeared in the elven territories. There were still some to the west of the pillars, but they were rare nowadays and rarely imprisoned, mostly executed on the spot. There were a number of demons in the prison, but those were rare few to have surrendered peacefully.
The demon looked weird; he had same long ears like elves had, perhaps even a little longer. His skin was darker grey, but his hair was silver, like that of the certain extinct race. If the man didn’t see the whole race killed with his own eyes, he could have made a connection, but instead he just dismissed it as some weird coincidence.
The greyskin didn’t want to wake up, so the man decided to aid him a little. He reached out for a bowl and splashed some water onto the demon’s face. The water began to boil and turn into steam, reacting violently to the fel nature of the demon. The fire within Sel raged against the water outside, making him wake up. He quickly shot up, his eyes studying the surroundings quickly.
“Eh, are ye blind young fella?”
The man was surprised to see grey eyes of the demon. They were not usual eyes of a blind man, but seemed to be such, with the whites being grey, the rest of the eyes as well, only slight border between each part in the darker grey color. What surprised him more was when said eyes fixated on him, focusing on the visage of the man.
Sel studied the person that awoke him. That man looked scruffy, with a short beard turning grey. He seemed to be no older than thirty, but his hair already lost its color meant that he wasn’t as simple as he seemed. Perhaps he was a mage; they always seem to grow frail faster than others. Sel’s thinking wasn’t as sophisticated as that, he was simply annoyed at the rude awakening.
The man had an adventurer’s attire, designed to help survive in various environments and to allow efficient combat. Although now, it was of little help within the dungeon.
There were some scars of the face and on the hands of the bearded man, showing him experienced in battles or hard work. There was an empty sheath on his belt, which would usually hold a sword. He had an atmosphere of an experienced and successful adventure, which begged for question why was he locked up now.
He waved a hand in front of Sel’s face and watched his reaction. Sel just followed the hand with his gaze, thinking whether the man posed any danger.
“Ho Ho, you ain’t blind as I thought. Who are ya fella?”
Sel didn’t reply, just watching the man and his appearance. It was not that he didn’t want to reply, he just didn’t see the need to. All the time spent walking alone, he felt hostility from everywhere and didn’t feel any safer now, within a dungeon, surrounded by stone walls and wooden fences.
“You ain’t talking much do ya? I am Regios, an adventurer. Seeing the world and traveling the roads is what I do. I came by to visit my sister, but the pointy-ears don’t like foreigners much.”
Sel kept quiet for a moment, and then gave a short reply.
“My grandfather was Regios.”
“Ya? And who was he?”
To that Sel didn’t reply, because he didn’t know. The girl told him about his grandparents, he knew their names, Regios and Moriam, but that was about it. He didn’t know that they were leaders of the very city he was in right now, nor did he know that he was the only person who could access the chambers hidden deep within the city as the only descendant of the Highborne. Right now he was just a prisoner, waiting for what was to come next.
“Yo boy, where you come from?”
Silence was the answer to the question.
“I myself come from further west, the former elven territories. My dad was an adventurer and I also took after him, hearing the call of the road and following it. It pays a hefty coin and lets ya see the world. Did ya see much of it?”
Sel stayed silent. He didn’t think it was important to reply to talkative man, finding him a little annoying. The only person he really talked to was the girl back in the cave. This man was not a girl; he was just some old guy who spoke of irrelevant things.
“I traveled a lot in the west, seeing much of the world. I may not look much, but I am a master swordsman. Knowing what I know, I can see you are untrained, but very strong. There are some pretty scars you got there. You wanna know how I got these scars?” The man waved his hand around his face. “I fought in wars. Last one was what, twenty years ago. It was brutal, killing so many demons… Not that I have anything against your kind. You guys are cool too. In fact, I was going to visit the east, hoping to see some of the wonders out there. Say, do you perhaps hail from those parts? How did you get through the pillars?”
Sel was getting more and more annoyed at the man. He wanted to silence him, but he didn’t like talking. It was obvious that the old guy needed somebody to talk to, and as the only person nearby, Sel became his outlet. Not wanting to endure much more, he just lay on his side and closed his eyes.
“Hey, you got folks back home? I ain’t got much in ways of family, only my sister left. She should be around, perhaps ya can meet her, she is a real beauty. And she is a warrior too, just like pops. Say, where is your old man? You got a girl perhaps?”
Sel felt himself getting angry at those words. As he walked through the forest, the grasslands and the desert, he felt numb, trying to get away from the pain. It felt bad, remembering the girl who was gone now. Her soft skin, her precious lips… They were gone now. As the flame inside Sel burned, he let out a low growl, that of both anger and sorrow.
“They gone now? Too bad. I would like to meet the folks of my new friend.”
At that Sel couldn’t stay quiet.
“I am not a friend.”
“Aha it’s fine if you think that. But we men gotta stick together. Most of the pointy-ears are chicks, their men are a rarity. If you do them wrong, they will cut ya.”
The old man went on to talk about the unfairness of elven society and how the matriarchal society was unfair, but Sel didn’t listen. He was distracted by his own torment. The memories that surfaced from his past now made the fire inside burn brightly. Sel didn’t want to remember things and he didn’t want to feel the fire now. He wanted it to be gone, to be extinguished, so he could reunite with the girl that was dead. So, he closed in his senses not paying attention, hoping to forget everything. He stayed like that until he had fallen asleep, bringing him the wanted relief.
Sel was able to rest for a few hours, until he was rudely awakened by a hit on the head. Above him stood an elf warrior woman clad in chain mail. In her hand was a sword, which was just used to wake the greyskin up. The woman was here to interrogate the demon that managed to survive walking through the field separating the two parts of the world.
“Who are you? Where did you come from? Why are you here? Why can you survive?”
Questions were thrown at Sel, but he just remained quiet. He didn’t care about the woman, she was annoying and her voice was too deep for a woman. She tried hitting Sel, but his skin was too tough to hurt badly. Then, she poured some blessed water on the demon, temporarily sapping his strength and then pushed him into the bowl face first. The water boiled, trying to purify the demon and his skin burned. But he didn’t give in. The fire within was much hotter.
She spent hours trying to pull something out of the demon, but didn’t get far. By the end of the day, she decided to leave him alone, hoping that hunger and thirst would work on untying his tongue. When she gotten out of his cell to leave, the old man from the next cell called out to her.
“Hey, when can I see my sister? Where is Selmiria?”
“Shut up old man. She is having fun with elven men like she is supposed to, unlike your whore of a mother. You say another word to me, I will cut your tongue out, you filthy halfling.”
Elves didn’t like impure descendants of their race. The old man was one such person, having an elven mother, he was granted the longevity of the elves as well as their higher dexterity. It was perhaps what made him excel at being a swordsman.
The man glared daggers at the woman but said nothing. His sister was fine, that’s all he needed to know. When the woman left, the two men sat in silence, the old man just thinking about his options and demon recuperating after the time with the nice lady.
Having nothing to do, Sel fell asleep once again. He was still hurt from the memories the old guy made him remember, but the elf distracted him somewhat, allowing him some sleep.
His sleep didn’t last long though. While he was in the embrace of his slumber, sounds of the prison opening to let somebody in appeared, accompanied by the yells of some woman.
“Get off me you fucker! I will slice your throat. How can you treat a fellow elf like this?”
“Shut it you whore. You wanted to see your brother, so there he is, you can fuck him for all I care.”
A male guard led a young woman in. She was an elf, young in appearance, perhaps twenty years at most. The moment Sel saw her, the fire inside fluttered. She reminded him of that girl. She had white hair, different from that girl, but it looked beautiful. She had sky blue eyes, different from that girl, but captivating like the sky. She had soft skin and full lips, somewhat different from that girl. But she also had some bruises and scratches on her face, just like that girl, the day Sel found her.
He saw the same pain in her that he saw in the girl, the day she was lying on the floor, dead, in her own pool of blood. That pain called out for Sel, asking him to stop it, to cure it. Being powerless, he could only watch as she was lead into the cell next to him.
“Hey sister! I found you finally!”
“Fuck you, you bastard, why did you have to come here? My life was fine and good, I was free to choose what to do, until you showed up and suddenly I have to fuck some elves to produce elf offspring to prove my loyalty to these fuckers. Why did my mother ever had to fuck a human? And when I asked to come see you, I was told to mind my own business. I had to gut three random fuckers to get in here.”
The guard slapped the elf girl, making her, as well as Sel flinch. That stopped her angry tirade.
“Shut it bitch! Captain told me to show you the love of a real elf, so we will be having fun while you brother watches. Hell, maybe the demons would like to fuck you. A whore like you is sure to like it.”
The girl was put into the cell and the elf guard pushed her onto the floor. She was powerless to resist, her hands were bound and she had taken a beating previously, her balance was shaky at best. As she sprawled on the floor, the guard reached for a knife and cut open her trousers, not caring if he actually cut the girl, and exposing her nether regions. There were some undergarments, which guard wanted to get out of the way, but the elf girl suddenly twisted her body, locking her legs around the guard and moving him torso towards the ironwood bars, making him hit his head repeatedly against the hard wood. A heavy banging resounded a couple of times, making the elf faint. He was the pushed out of the cell, just in time for another guard woman to arrive, knock out the wind out of the unruly elf and to drag the non-to-be-rapist out of the dungeon.
Sel saw the whole exchange, he didn’t know how to feel, but he felt very close to being impressed. What he also saw was a cut on the girls thigh. From the days of hunting, Sel was able to learn a bit of human anatomy and he knew that cuts in that area could be fatal. That was not an outcome the demon wanted. Moving on instinct, he quickly slashed his palm with his claw, making some blood pour out. That blood was then poured into the bowl of blessed water, making it boil quickly. There wasn’t much of blood, just enough to paint the water red. When the fel energy was removed, what remained was blood like any other.
When the water stopped boiling, he dove his hand in, ignoring the stinging sensation from coming in contact with the weakens blessing and brought up a handful of water. Then he brought that water towards the bars separating the two, reaching for the girl.
The girl just slapped the hand away. The old man just watched the demon doing something. He was worried about his sister, but her being beat up was not the first time. The demon stirring and actually doing something was something new though.
Seeing how the girl doesn’t want to drink water willingly, Sel decided to to it differently. Getting his face to the bowl, he gulped up as much as he could and held the water in his mouth, ignoring the burning sensation. Then, he came to the bars and reached for the girl. Vaguely understanding what he wanted to do, girl tried to get away, but demon’s arm suddenly shot out a bit of web and slung her within his grasp. Having her close enough, Sel pulls her in for a kiss and empties the liquid into her mouth. He doesn’t let her go immediately, holding her to make her swallow the liquid.
The girl tried to resist, holding her breath and not letting the liquid go down, but it just prolongs the kiss between the demon and her. After about a minute, she gives up and swallows the red water. At that point Sel let her go.
“What the fuck you fucking fucker!?”
Elf girl just swears at the demon, but he doesn’t pay her any mind. His demon blood is sure to do some work. As on cue, the swelling begins to go down and the bruises and cuts disappear. The cut on the still exposed thigh stops bleeding and pulls together and closes.
“Wow, that there is some impressive trick. I didn’t know you would be enamored by my dear sister, she sure looks pretty. Just wait till she washes her face, you will piss yourself then.”
“Fuck you, you spastic. And fuck your fiend.”
“Dear sister, please stop with your insults. This fella might have saved your life.”
“It’s half-sister you dimwit. And I don’t even think of you as that much, why would I care about some mistake my mother had done in her youth. And fuck my fucking savior, I’ve managed to keep my virtue for forty years only to have some fucking hellspawn take it from me. I knew you son of a bitch would be trouble.”
Sel barely listened to the bad-mouthed girl and he seemed to have a puzzled face when the virtue was mentioned. He understood what it was, but he didn’t understand how this girl kept it for forty years the way she was. Although if she always acted like that in front of her suitors, perhaps it’s the only way it could have turned out.
“Hey, watch your mouth, we both came from same mother. And relax, the hellspawn came from beyond the pillars. He is from the East, where I am headed as soon as I get out.”
“Fuck your friend with a fucking pillar, what do I…”
The girl didn’t finish her sentence before she got the significance of what her half-brother said. The last time demons came through the pillars was twenty odd years ago, and then they flew over the pillars. No matter how he got through, this demon was not ordinary.
“Beyond the pillars? You gotta be shitting me. No demon is able to do it. He shouldn’t even be alive, much less surviving blessed water or morphing himself. What the fuck is he?”
“Don’t sweat it. The warden came by and tried slight interrogation. Unless you get some pliers and burning coals, I doubt our friend will talk. Even if you did, he is a tough nut to crack.”
The two bickered for a bit, talking about the greyskin. The elf girl seemed to be thinking of something, as a demon who didn’t try to go for her breasts was a first for her. They were mostly wild things, bent of bloodshed and sex. And this one demon even healed her using his blood. Not simple at all.
“It doesn’t matter who the grey fellow is, unless we get out, it won’t matter if he can get us to the east. I know you would like the idea of going there, you dreamed of exploring the demon territories since you were little.”
“Fuck you, how did you know what I dreamed of when I was little. And fuck yeah I would. Demons are fun and dangerous. Just the right type for a gal like me. No pussy elf could tame a cat like me, fuck those pussy pointy ears.”
“Well of course I would, I was there when you were born after all. Our mamma asked me to take care of you while she would work and hunt.”
“Fucking who cares. Get us out of here, we need to get to the east. Fast.”
The girl didn’t want to think about what elves would do to her for attacking some strangers. Execution would be the least of her worries, she didn’t want to be a slave made to breed and make offspring. Some of those pointy-eared bigots were eyeing her ever since she turned into an adult. She would sooner slit her own throat then let any of them touch her. She just hated her own people, who took her mother away. And she hated her father, the fucker who sired her and promptly fucked off. Fuck him.
The old man then tried coming up with a plan of escape. As a hardened adventurer, it wouldn’t be the first time for him to get out of such situation. It was slightly more complicated, because there were three of them instead of just him. But the man would think of something, he always does.
Sel just sat there and listened. Listened and waited. The fire within him flickered with new strength, he seemed to have found a new purpose. His face was still devoid of emotions, but his resolve to escape grew.