THE DEMON CROWN – CHAPTERS 11 – 17

Feature writer: Wulf
Feature title: The Demon Crown
Contact Address: marawuti@spiritone.com
Uploaded: ASSTR 1996
Copyright: This work is copyrighted to the author © 2007. Please don’t remove the author information or make any changes to this story. All rights reserved. Thank you for your consideration.
Story Codes: MFF, fantasy

The Demon Crown

Most people will tell you to steer clear of demons, especially in this business. Demons, they say, are treacherous, violent and unpredictable. They’ll screw you every time. I must admit that I certainly did end up screwed after I met one particular demon. In several senses of the word. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Demon Crown – Chapter 11

Skate glided through the water like her graceful namesake. Kamaz’s little cutter was a truly fine ship. She managed well with a minimal crew of less than a dozen semi-cutthroats, her fine white sails bellying into the wind like the wings of an albatross. Our quarters were quite luxurious (at least for shipboard) — roomy, with genuine feather-beds, writing desks and ample storage.

Our vessel was quite capable of defending herself, as well. A pair of ballistae forward and aft could easily be mounted behind armored mantlets, while there was a small catapult stored disassembled below decks for heavier combat. Skate’s main strength was her speed, however, and given the swift pace which we were setting, I was grateful.

As I said at the beginning of my narrative, I’m not much skilled with two-handed weapons, so I spent the days at sea practicing with a Litharnan greatsword I had collected from Livia’s arms store. Lawbringer remained locked away and hidden in my cabin, for use only when we reached our destination.

My companions did likewise — Stef practiced lock picking, stealth, and other thiefly skills; Odo (once he sobered up and realized where he was) prayed to his gods, chanted, sharpened his axe, and fantasized about chopping demons into small pieces; and Xitaa, bless her violent little heart, actually deigned to spar with me. We used wooden swords and pulled our punches, but I bore bruises after each bout nonetheless. No, I don’t think I’ll ever be what you would call a great swordsman.

Xitaa also burned a lot of incense, and spent a lot of time meditating and reading. Fine pursuit for such a healthy and active young woman, I thought.

I stayed in contact with my two beloveds through a scrying crystal Livia had given me. All was going well back home — as far as everyone knew I was still dead, and Niall’s disappearance was blamed on angry guildsmen who felt their protection payments were too high. Livia said that she missed me, and kept me up on current events.

Narisha rehearsed me in the demon-incantation that went with the amulet, and insisted on giving me a blow-by-blow description of her and Livia’s mutual encounter with the young poet and student. She had nearly scared him to death, appearing unexpectedly as he and Livia were delicately conjoined, then the two of them had almost killed him in a much more constructive fashion.
I made a face, but listened anyway. Was it magic, or was it me, I wondered? They could do anything, with anyone, and for some bizarre reason I seemed to care about them all the more. Damn.

With a good south wind behind us, we sailed at full reach, putting ourselves days ahead of schedule. The Yellow Jungle Isles and their reptilian inhabitants slid by without incident (the damned Jarreks have a tendency to swarm out in their war canoes if you look at them cross-eyed), we crossed through sea nomad territory and never saw a single bloody city-raft, and passed the Black Cliffs unnoticed by any lurking Slaerthists.

The only real incident which marred the journey was a run-in with a tribe of naked wyvern-riding savages who swooped down on us with violent intentions. Fortunately for us, they turned out to be Rexxarans, and Xitaa was able to defuse their war-lust and send them off with our best wishes. Within days, we were well within demon waters.

Skate remained at full alert for those days, with double patrols walking the deck and all eyes constantly scanning the horizon. Kamaz, a stern-faced, powerfully built woman, brooked no slacking and had us all help out.

Thick sea-fogs tended to envelop the deck at night, rising like living things out of the black water beneath us. A sailor claimed to have seen a vast, black ray-like creature glide beneath us, cast a single malevolent red eye our way, and then continue on its way, trailing a vast, rudder-like tail behind it. Once, while I was on watch, I’d swear I saw a writhing mass of black tentacles on the horizon, glinting wetly, but then they disappeared and, luckily for us, did not return.

Strange things happen in demon waters. Most magical theorists believe that the temporal rift which delivered the demons here also dragged along some of their own magical energy with it, or altered our own magical energies in such a way that normal spells don’t work, or work strangely. I didn’t dare try it out — there was no sense attracting attention to ourselves so close to our goal. My communication with Narisha and Livia ceased for the time being, and I left them to their sybaritic rituals without having to hear about them.

And we were close, no doubt of it. Kamaz discovered that our charts were out of date, and that many of the shoals and shallows listed on it had changed, growing shallower and muddier, or dropping down to unknown depths. Despite this, we proceeded smoothly, sailing through the black waters without encountering any demons or their bizarre, self-propelled ships. A little over a week after leaving Stoneburg, Arak Island swelled ahead of us, shimmering in the noonday sun.

It looked like something in a painting — a vast, shaggy green island, tangled jungle rising to a towering prominence near the center, where Hellgate Keep, stronghold of Duke Janus and his household, crouched like a moldy vulture. Of course, we were approaching from the Keep’s blindside, and would be anchoring in a sheltered inlet along the island’s eastern edge. I could only hope that our approach had gone undetected, and that Skate would be safe at anchor while my team hacked through the jungle and stole the treasure from under demonic noses.

Kamaz saw us off with her usual aplomb, gazing sternly at us as we made for the shore in a ship’s boat. On the entire journey, I hadn’t seen the woman show emotion even once, and she didn’t show it now.

My companions reflected their various personalities, either looking apprehensively toward the towering green lushness ahead like Stef, lost in thoughts of battle, sex and booze, preferably in combination, like Odo, or sitting calmly with a look of deep serenity like Xitaa. As for myself, I’m not entirely sure what I looked like — I only know it wasn’t terribly happy.

“Less than a day in and out,” I said. “I want this to go smoothly.”

“Yeah, but it never does,” said Stef, his brows knitting, his handsome blonde face contorting into an
expression which said “Gods and demons, Wulf, you’ve gotten me into it again…”

“Hrm,” grumbled Odo, fingering the blade on his battleaxe. He was in what might be called standard dwarf gear — chain shirt, steel cap, heavy gauntlets and a bad attitude. “I’d hate to go through all this trouble and not meet at least one demon.”

“Goddess provide,” Xitaa muttered, her protruding lips barely moving. She had gone through some rather involved rituals the night before, involving anointing herself with sacred oils and inhaling various burning herbs, and this morning had made herself up with heavy kohl and black, shiny pigment on her lips, contrasting with her naturally pale skin. In armor she looked like Death’s younger sister.

We beached the boat and concealed it in the underbrush, all muttering prayers that the demon patrols weren’t too heavy on this part of the island. Without further fanfare, we struck off into the jungle.

I breathed deeply. The air was humid and lush as the thick green all around us. Birds shrieked overhead, and insects thrummed ceaselessly, like the constant rhythm of a fever dream. I led the way, hacking through vegetation with a sickle; Lawgiver was strapped uncomfortably to my back projecting sufficiently on both sides to make the going unpleasant.

The other three followed along behind, all professional enough to keep their mouths shut. Each warily scanned the jungle around us for any signs of the enemy. Odo and Xitaa each carried a spanned crossbow (which I trusted would not accidentally go off at a bad moment), and Stef carried a brace of throwing daggers. Narisha and Livia had pronounced a few cantrips over our weapons, giving them added potency against demons, although none of the normal arms had even a tenth the power of my own weapon. All things considered, I thought, we were quite a capable bunch.

Our capabilities were tested only once when a pair of six-legged reptilian monstrosities charged us, bellowing and hissing. They were hunting beasts — crested and horned, with the bizarre, cone-shaped eyes of chameleons. They gave us a worried moment or two, until Lawgiver’s anti-demonic enchantments helped me slice them into sections. Odo even got in a hack or two, but he seemed disappointed not to have been awarded the deathblow. Breathing heavily, and hoping that the jungle contained no further horrors, we continued.

We reached the entrance to Hellgate with no more encounters. The tunnel entrance was unguarded, overgrown with vines, and to all appearances, quite forgotten. I hoped that appearances were, for once, correct. Stef assured us that it was, indeed, abandoned and contained no hidden pitfalls which he could see. With all due caution, we entered.

About a hundred yards in, when the greenish light of the jungle had faded to a tiny pinhole behind us, and the drips of water, scuffling of vermin, and flutter of bats (or something) was amplified to alarming levels, I began to wonder whether the mouse- amulets we were wearing were nothing more than window-dressing with no real magical abilities simply intended to make us feel better.

I could just see my wicked Narisha explaining herself — “Well, if you thought they worked, it was as good as if they really did, wasn’t it?” then a sweet giggle and an invitation to play.

And Wulf — the idiot — rushing to play without regard for the consequences.

The tunnel turned out to be a nightmare, but fortunately one of the more mundane kinds. We scrambled over piles of rubble, crawled through filthy muck, squeezed through passages barely two hand spans wide (Odo only got stuck once), and contended with cascades of water pouring from the roof (which had the positive effect of washing most of the muck away) before finally reaching the end and the rusty, encrusted interior of an iron door. There were no more hunting beasts, no shambling legions of un-dead, no strange demonic magical wards — we had made it without any unnatural confrontations. I knew, however, it was too early to heave a sigh of relief.

The door was the next obstacle. I was reluctant to open it magically for fear that it might set off wards or alarms inside. If that happened, we’d be on Janus’ table that night, sauteed in lemon butter and stuffed with chestnuts. I turned to Stef.

“Okay, tapper,” I said, gesturing. “Do your stuff.”

Stef cracked his knuckles and approached the door. We watched in tense silence as he rapped quietly on the rusty surface, tested rivet heads, and searched for hinges. After a few minutes of intense concentration, he turned to me with the final verdict.

“Can’t be done,” he said.

I glared at him. “I’m so glad I brought a professional along.”

He shrugged. “The rivets are solid, it’s heavily barred from the inside, and I can’t reach the hinges. Got any ideas, boss?”

I sighed. “Sorry. I’m just on edge. I guess I’d better start casting. Just hope that this demon-magic doesn’t screw me up.”

“I’ll close my eyes.”

While Stef stood back, Odo fidgeted, and Xitaa looked solemn and beautiful, I laid out my components, wrote runes on the door, and gestured appropriately. I’m not one for shouting my invocations; I prefer to keep them reasonably secret — besides, shouted spells might attract attention. I mumbled the words as softly as I dared and held my breath as the runes glowed white- hot, and a circular hole slowly burned itself into the middle of the door. Sparks flew and an acrid smell assailed my nostrils, and in a few moments it was finished. A clean, circular plug of metal two inches thick slowly toppled from the door.

I jumped. “Catch it!” I whispered urgently. I didn’t need a loud clanging noise to complete the racket I’d created by casting. Odo trundled forward, arms extended to intercept the falling metal, but succeeded only in breaking the thing’s fall as it crashed down on him with a muffled thud.

Stef and I heaved the circle off, revealing Odo half-embedded in the gravely floor. He growled, climbed out (leaving an interesting negative image of himself behind), and dusted himself off without a word.

“Sorry,” I whispered.

“Mrrph,” Odo grunted. “Let’s go kill something.”
The Demon Crown – Chapter 12

We had entered an unused section of the fortress, raising my hopes that there were no wards set. As we crept through the dusty, darkened corridors, no hellish legions or demonic sorcerers assailed us, and I began to consider the possibility that we might have slipped in undetected.

In the dim light from a vine-covered grating overhead, I inspected the map of the fortress which Narisha had given me. We didn’t know exactly where the crown might be kept, but she had marked some of the more prominent possibilities. Unless I had the map completely backwards, the nearest possible hiding place was only a hundred yards or so away. With as much haste as we could manage while staying relatively quiet (Xitaa’s armor clanked a bit, but you can’t have everything).

The room we sought was in the abandoned area, and was also dusty and deserted. Resignedly, we moved on.

The fortress corridors seemed almost comfortingly familiar. The demons seemed to use similar patterns to our own human architecture, although their exteriors \were baroque and complicated. Lintel stones and corridor walls were often fancifully carved with monstrous visages and abstract designs, but even these had a relatively mundane look to them. I was feeling much more optimistic as we approached a more well-traveled and -lit section of Hellgate. Here, torches burned and sun globes shone, making one feel for all the world like a small bug on a very large plate.

Another possibility proved a washout — this room was full of crates and jars of various sizes and designs. Odo’s eyes sparked and he made a grab for one jar (whether he thought it contained wine or gold I’m not certain) before we dragged him off.

Blue shadows wavering around a bend in the corridor alerted me to approaching hazard, and I waved everyone back into the shadows, hoping desperately that Narisha’s amulets really did work.

A pair of male demon sentries stalked down the hallway as we cowered. They wore male versions of Narisha’s leather-and-mail number and looked grim. The lead bore a long, possibly decorative, scar down one cheek, while the other carried what looked like a black longbow. As I watched, the bow seemed to waver slightly, and I heard a mumbling sound, as if the bow was whispering
softly to its owner.

I tensed, my hand straying to Lawbringer’s hilt, but the demons continued on. The second one backhanded his bow, growling something along the lines of, “whiny bitch…”

I let out the breath I’d been holding. Either Narisha’s mouse-amulets really worked, or we hid better than I would have thought possible.

We continued. On the third candidate room, we got lucky. Peeking around a corner, I saw a pair of demon guards standing watch outside a barred iron door with a large brass padlock, leading me to believe that something important lay beyond.

“Jackpot,” I whispered to Odo and Xitaa. “Ready to kill something?”

That was about all they needed. While Stef held back, the three of us burst out onto the surprised demon guards. Lawbringer literally leapt in my hands, lashing out to cleave the first demon even as he drew his sword, while Odo and Xitaa’s ensorcelled weapons hacked down the second. They took about a dozen blows to accomplish what I did in one (demon flesh being what it is), and their victim was a little less tidy than mine, but I wasn’t about to complain.

“Stef!” I hissed, gesturing at the lock. “Open this bastard and get me inside. The shit’s gonna hit the windmill now.”

Without a word, he went at the lock with his picks and needles, and in a moment, it popped open and Stef grinned.

“Good job,” I said. I thought about Narisha’s admonition and fingered the amulet in my pouch. “You
three get rid of the bodies. I’m going to have to go in alone. I’ll let you know when I’m finished.”

Odo looked crestfallen (all this time and only one dead demon, and that a joint effort), Xitaa nodded briefly and began to drag one of the bodies away, and Stef cast me a quizzical look, then began to tug on the other. I drew a deep breath, held the amulet close, opened the door and entered.

Numbing cold assailed me the instant I opened the door. I closed it behind me, not wishing whatever was inside to get out, or to have my companions see me casting a demonic spell. I pulled out the amulet and gazed at my surroundings.

Frost rimed every surface. Beneath my feet lay a sheet of gleaming ice. Icicles like crystalline daggers as tall as me hung from the walls. My breath came in vast clouds of steam, and it hurt to inhale. The cold air pinched at my face, and soon my skin was aching.

Ahead lay a blank wall, as icy and cold as the rest of the room. I took a step toward it, sliding my boots across the ice- sheet to maintain friction, and the wall seemed to suddenly slide backwards, growing smaller, running away from me. The room stretched into an icicle-lined hallway, thirty, forty, fifty feet.

Clutching the amulet tightly, making sure that Lawbringer was free in its sheath, I hurried down the
steadily-lengthening corridor, slipping now and then, but retaining my feet.

The lengthening of the corridor slowed (or was I catching up with it?), and the end began to approach. I strained through the fog of my own exhalations to see what was there. My heart leaped — in the center of the wall was a recessed niche. And in the niche lay a black-and-silver, jeweled crown. Gods, had I actually managed to.

No, of course not.

A billow of cold wind stopped me, kicking up a storm of ice chips, and I stumbled backward, slipping and almost falling. A thin, warbling shriek split the air, and as I tugged my sword free I saw a tall, dark form rising up from the clouds of cold air.

It came at me, long, skeletal arms outreached. It might have been human once — I wasn’t certain. A frost-covered skull-like visage leered and shrieked, blue eyes glowing from sunken sockets. Scraps of long, snarled black hair trailed from its skull and it wore some kind of tattered gray garment.

It floated a foot off the floor, speeding toward me as if blown on the cold wind, and I realized I only had an instant to cast Narisha’s spell. I held the amulet before me like a shield and rasped the impossible syllables which Narisha had taught me.

The thing kept coming, bony arms reaching, claws clutching…

I continued to growl and gargle the demon-spell. Dammit! Those demons had a different word for everything…

The amulet glowed, emitting a flash of coruscating colors, lancing out in a beam to strike the thing. It hissed, and the cold suddenly increased…

Then it was gone.

Not entirely. The room was still bone-numbingly chill, but the dry, painful quality of the cold had moderated somewhat. The walls were still hung with stalactites, and the floor was still covered in a jacket of ice, but I realized that the room had returned to its original dimensions; the niche was still there, crown and all, but for the moment I was fixated on what the ice-ghoul thing had evidently transformed into.

An exquisite creature, seemingly carved of pale blue ice sat on a low couch, regarding me with wide, purple eyes. Her face was small, softly curved, with round cheeks, well-defined, dark- blue lips and long, straight blue-black hair. She was dressed in a white shift which exposed a considerable expanse of leg, drawn up beneath her protectively. But most remarkable of all, a pair of delicate, butterfly-like wings, all frosty and colored in (surprise!) shades of blue. They had an unhealthy look to them, drooping sadly as if overburdened by the weight of ice and imprisonment.

She was faerie, by the gods. I’d been around the isles for years, and I’d never even seen one, even going so far as to nurse doubts whether they actually existed. Rumor had it that their beauty was sufficient to strike mortals dead. Fortunately, while the icy blue creature before me was a being of near-unearthly beauty, I was still very much alive. So much for that particular legend, I thought.

“You spoke the words,” she said, in a tiny, uncertain voice as if unused to verbal communications.

“Yes,” I said. “Was that just an illusion?”

“Not real, no. Not like me. You come to free me?”

I nodded. “Yes,” I said. “You’re fr…” I stopped short. Around the faerie woman’s slender neck was a
collar, connected to the wall by a chain. Both were seemingly made of ice.

“Wait,” I said. I approached. Cold still rolled off her; I wondered idly if it was part of the spell which had imprisoned her. I set my feet as best I could against the ice, then swung Lawbringer heavily against the ice-chain.

To my surprise, nothing happened. Lawbringer struck the chain full-force, but did not even chip the crystalline surface.

“Damn,” I muttered.

She gazed at me sadly. “Can’t break the chain that way. Chain is faerie-magic. Sword kills demon-magic.”

I sighed and sheathed the blade. “How do I break the chain, then?”

The wide eyes met mine and locked. “Demon curse,” she whispered in a voice as cold and hopeless as the cubicle she occupied. “Mortal love frees me. Makes me warm. Nothing else. No mortals here, so faerie can never be free.”

Fucking demons. I looked apologetic. “I’m afraid mortal love takes time. I… I can’t feel love for you if I just…”

She interrupted me with a scornful snort. “Not ‘love’ love, man,” she said, sounding almost amused. She ran her hands up and down her body as her shift grew tantalizingly tight, and gestured rather explicitly. “Lo-o-o-ve!”

Wulf is slow sometimes, but for once his mind was a trap of finest spring-steel. I realized exactly what she meant after only thirty seconds or so of intense thought.

“You want me to…” I began.

She hugged herself passionately and again her shift grew taunt across her firm breasts. Her expression had grown at once hopeful, joyous and mischievous. “Love me!” she said. “Love me, man. Love me and melt my chains.”

I shrugged mentally, hoping that my companions in the hall could spare me for a few more minutes. I approached, loosening my jerkin and breaches. Gods, how would I be able to perform in this cold, I wondered?

“You love me now?” she asked.

“If the cold allows,” I replied. Hell, the consequences of dysfunction here meant keeping an innocent being in chains indefinitely. I’d encountered disappointed women before (one of whom still persisted in referring to me as “Mister Flopsey”), but this would be more than I could stand. Performance anxiety began to rear its ugly head. “I don’t know if I can…”

“Hm,” the faerie said. “You can. Start here.” With a wriggle, she slid out of her shift. Her blue flesh was tight, her body slender but firm. Her small breasts were perfectly matched to her delicately flared hips and her nipples, like her lips, were a dark bluish-black. She stroked at the dark blue hair between her legs. “Start here, man. Warm first. Then love. Lots of love.”

“My pleasure,” I said, kneeling down. “My name is Wulf, by the way.”

“Wulf-man. Yes. Love me. Love Orchid.”

I placed my hands on Orchid’s thighs (I briefly feared that my hands would stick, like a tongue to a cold piece of metal, but fortunately this did not happen). Her flesh was cold and smooth as ice. Beneath my hands, however, I felt her skin grow warmer and softer. The mere touch of a human had begun to thaw her icy prison.

“Oh, yes, man.” Her voice was excited and high as my fingers massaged the dark blue lips of her sex. They, too, were icy at first, but began to warm and grow soft at my touch. Taking a deep breath, and hoping to avoid frostbite, I moistened my tongue and delicately placed it against Orchid’s nether lips.

She quivered, hands clenching and unclenching. Her thighs and cunt were streaked with blue-white now, and although the softness of her sex was still cold, it was warming and moistening rapidly. I breathed the growing moisture deeply; she was as rich as a fine wine, and I consumed her with building enthusiasm.

Orchid’s body tensed now, she leaned back, belly tightening, hands held in fists. She moaned, and the sound vibrated through my mind and into my soul. Her color paled, growing lighter and lighter blue and, looking up, I saw flashes of bright, butterfly color pulsing through her wings.

“Ohhh, man. Wulf-man… You love me. Yes.”

I stroked her thighs and held her buttocks as she lifted herself up from the couch. Beneath my tongue, more juices flowed, and the soft, succulent flesh grew almost warm. The room was still cold, but I was working on an erection of epic proportions.

The pulsating blue-white colors came faster and faster. I sucked and licked, nibbling at her lips (now flashing pink and blue as the temperature soared), tasting her deeply. I wanted to make use of the hot hardness that was growing below my belt, but I was still concerned about wilting in the cold.

I decided to chance it. I stepped back, divesting myself of clothing as quickly as I could manage. The boots caused problems, and I had to pause to pull them off, feeling the cold creep through my body, softening my epic erection. (I suppose I could have kept some of my gear on while I plunged away, but I’d always felt this was rather tacky.)

“Come to me, man,” Orchid whined, urgently, stroking herself up and down. “Fill me with yourself…”

I positioned myself between her blue-white thighs, placing my cock against her pouting, still-moist cunt-lips. Her frenetic urgings continued, and I slid smoothly inside, feeling ice-cold suddenly transform to eager warmth, then moist hotness. My erection returned in all its glory as I began to thrust in and out.

As Orchid writhed, moaning wordlessly now, I moved atop her, holding myself up on the narrow couch, watching her face contort and listening to her sighs and groans. I crushed my mouth against hers. Yes, not surprisingly, her lips were as cold here as they’d been elsewhere, but they warmed swiftly. I tasted her tongue as it slipped eagerly into my mouth, and felt a continuous flow of magical heat and excitement flowing from the faerie-woman’s head, heart and cunt.

“Mmm,” I mumbled. “I want to warm you. Set you free.”

“Set Orchid free,” she replied. “Love me. Fill me with your love.”

I continued to “love” sweet Orchid for some time. My cock slid in and out as I kissed her, stroked her and played with the delicate flesh of her breasts and nipples. She seemed to particularly like this last, and when I moved my hands elsewhere, she continued to stroke and pinch with her own fingers.

Still, after all this effort, her color never improved beyond a pale blue, and her chains remained as strong as ever. True, the rest of the room seemed to be thawing — the floor was now slushy, the icicles dripping a steady tattoo to accompany our lovemaking — but Orchid herself seemed to reach a certain point and go no further.

“I want more,” she groaned. “Give me more love now, man.”

My head started to loll and my eyes crossed. “I can’t give you any more than this, Orchid,” I gasped. “I’m doing the best I can.”

“No,” she said impatiently, even as my erect organ continued to caress the inside of her now-hot sex. “More love. Need more love. Need more man, now.”

The brief urge to tell her, “Sorry, toots. So long,” crossed my mind and was swiftly crushed by my innate sense of gallantry. My own frantic plunging was clearly not enough to break the ice- chain spell. What was the alternative? Another person to “love” Orchid?

Bingo. But who? Odo was too lost in battle-lust and would probably scare the hell out of Orchid (and besides, I had no real desire to see the greasy little freak naked), and Xitaa’s religious restrictions were a bit too strict. The only alternative was… Gods.

I discreetly poked my head out the door, hoping to conceal enough of myself that no one would notice that I was mostly naked and still pretty excited.

They were still there, thank the fates. They looked rather bored, and no more corpses decorated the
polished floor. I hissed urgently.

“Uh, Stef?” I asked. “Could you step in here for a moment? I need some help.”

Stef was quicker on the uptake than I was. He looked at the scene inside the now-dripping ice-room, glancing quizzically from me to Orchid, who lay, eyes slitted, coyly playing with herself as she waited for action to resume.

“She’s a faerie?” he asked.

“Yeah, and she needs…” I faltered. “She needs help to… to…”

“Gods damn it all, Wulf,” Stef complained, taking note of my unclothed and still relatively aroused state. “We’re out there waiting for Havra-knows what horror to come lumbering down the hall, and you’re in here porking some female? Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t.”

“Hello, beautiful man,” said Orchid in a happy, sing-song voice. “Come to help set me free?”

I shrugged helplessly. “I know what it looks like, Stef. She needs what she calls ‘mortal love’ to break her chains. It’s a curse.

I can’t seem to provide enough ‘mortal love’ to do the job, so…”

“You like Orchid?” she asked again, sitting, holding her ripe, firm, and now almost white breasts up for inspection. “You love Orchid, beautiful man?”

Realization finally dawned on Stef’s chiseled features. “You mean, she wants us to…”

“You win a cookie,” I replied. “Think of it as my way of making up for you getting your arms ripped off. Now, strip for action and help me, for gods’ sake.”

Stef grinned.

My semi-friend Stef ended up displaying several talents which I hadn’t suspected. First of all, he was hung like a plow-horse, a situation which might have disturbed another female, but seemed to suit Orchid just fine.

“Big man,” she whispered, in what I hoped was mock-awe. “Let Orchid kiss your staff, big man.”

As I resumed my former place between Orchid’s thighs, I watched as Orchid tilted her head over the edge of the couch, her lips (now a pinkish violet, pulsating with color) embracing Stef’s thick organ, making muffled sounds of delight. I slipped my own cock inside her and resumed my former activities, feeling her grow still warmer inside. The dripping and melting in the room increased; I felt water dribbling down my naked back and cold water splash against my neck. Rather than discomfort, I felt all the more stimulated.

Orchid sucked at Stef with an eagerness I’d rarely seen before. His own face was contorted with an expression almost like intense concentration, and he made a rusty sound deep in his throat as the faerie-woman devoured his slick organ.

I felt her hands grab my buttocks and pull me in, faster and faster. My shaft was hot now with her juices, and her groans, muffled by the thickness of Stef’s cock, grew louder and louder. Her sweet cunt around my cock tightened and the heat increased. Water poured down from every corner of the room, (reminding me of Livia and the waterfall, not surprisingly) beading up and running down our bodies. Cold water splashed down on Orchid’s heaving belly and breasts; her nipples grew hard and swollen in response. I pumped faster and faster, and I could see Stef doing the same.

She groaned still louder, echoing from the slick walls, shaking my heart and vibrating my spirit. Orchid made incoherent sounds, clawing now at Stef, pulling him into her mouth with fervent intensity. I had never thought that a woman could come simply from sucking a man off, but Orchid seemed to be an exception — besides, she wasn’t strictly human anyway.

The room was almost warm now; the melting ice had left the air heavy with humidity. Orchid was almost normally-colored now, her skin alabaster white, her lips and nipples rich coral-color, her hair was lustrous blue-green. But the most vivid and beautiful thing about her now was her wings — they glittered and shone with a dozen colors, all rimmed in black, like stained-glass windows. Being pinned beneath her as she furiously sucked both of us into her didn’t seem to do them any harm, either.

Orchid released Stef, spittle trailing from his thick, slick shaft. She looked at me. “You now. You here,” she said. “You there,” she said to Stef, pointing at me.

I took advantage of the break to catch my breath. I was gasping pretty heavily now. “Trade off?” I said to Stef.

Also looking rather ragged, he nodded wordlessly, and we moved to opposite positions. Orchid took my cock into her mouth, as Stef slid his own shaft into her. She stiffened as he entered her, and pulled harder on my cock. I wouldn’t be able to keep this up much longer, I realized and, by the look of him, Stef wouldn’t be able to either.

Her lips moved faster and faster, purple eyes fixed on mine, hot tongue flicking up and down the length of my organ. The ice- chain looked thinner now, and meltoff ran freely down her neck and shoulders. The misty rain continued to pound down; all the ice was gone now, but the room was now awash in gallons of water.

As the heat of her mouth grew and grew, I realized that faeries must have a much higher body temperature than humans — Gods, the cold must have been hellish for this poor creature…

She let me go now, and spoke in a husky whisper. “I want more,” she said. “More love. More men. Give me more.”

I looked at Stef. He seemed oblivious, pounding his heavy cock in and out of her saturated cunt. I was not surprised when I saw steam rising from her sex as Stef continued to thrust and thrust.

“No more,” I said, again rejecting Odo for personal reasons. “We’re all there is, Orchid.”

She looked distraught for a moment, then her face brightened. “I can make more now,” she said, excitedly. “Faerie magic works now. I can make more.”

She seized my cock again and stuffed it into her mouth. There was a shimmer in the air beside us, and a crackle of magical energy. Then, at either side of our voracious little fairy stood a naked, erect male form.

I looked at our new companions, and almost jumped out of my skin. One was me — hairy, grizzled and bewildered-looking as ever — and the other was handsome, blonde Stef, complete down to every ripple of his washboard stomach. Simulacra? Illusions? Shapeshifting elementals? I could not be sure.

What was certain was the single-minded determination with which they stepped forward, each placing his erect cock in one of Orchid’s hands. She wrapped her pale fingers around the engorged flesh and began tugging with the same fervor that her mouth sucked and nibbled at my cock. The sight was almost too much. I could feel orgasm sneaking up on me like a House Kinif assassin.

The next thing I knew, the chain shattered, flinging ice shards all across the room. We tumbled to the floor in a slippery tangle of limbs, splashing down into half a foot of warm water. I was on my back, my legs wrapped around Orchid’s shoulders, as her mouth practically raped my defenseless organ, teeth delicately scoring my taunt skin. Stef was beneath us (hopefully not drowning); her buttocks worked furiously, pulling him in and out. She retained her grip on the two simulacra, who emitted moans which seemed echoes of Stef’s and my own.

Another multicolored shimmer gleamed behind her, and yet a fifth figure appeared, this one a seeming amalgam of the two of us — my face on most of Stef’s body (although a few of my scars and tattoos seem to have been duplicated as well). Also moving stiffly and apparently without much will of its own, the man-thing manipulated its own engorged cock (it resembled Stef’s more than mine, I noted briefly), placing it between pale globes of the faerie-woman’s buttocks, then thrust into her.

It’s never been one of my favored modes of lovemaking (although Narisha’s requested it often enough), and it never struck me as the most exciting thing in the world, but the fifth cock to nestle in one of Orchid’s intimate places set her off like a blazing inferno. She pumped Stef in and out with almost blinding speed. Her mouth had transformed into a fiery tunnel which I could barely tolerate. With both hands she embraced the two simulacra’s cocks, tugging and stroking, while the final player in our little menage thrust a duplicate of Stef’s organ into the faerie’s final available orifice. Her wings, free now, flapped and fluttered gracefully, colors coruscating and shining, almost glowing with a rainbow of shades.

I couldn’t restrain myself any more. Orgasm flooded fiery sensation through my veins and I felt my cum gush into Orchid’s eager mouth. Her own muffled wails rose to a deafening level, and Stef’s shorter and shorter grunts indicated he was on the edge as well. With a heaving grunt, he came as well.

Simultaneously, our simulacra thundered over into orgasm, hot white fluid splashing all over Orchid’s hands and arms, while behind her the last one exploded all over her heaving ass.

“Ahhhh,” Orchid gasped, letting my collapsing organ go, letting cum run from her mouth. Our five-fold contractions seemed to rocked through her body, and she twitched and heaved, as if her own climax fired off all her muscles at once. “Ohhh, man… I am free…”

The three duplicates vanished in flashes of multicolored light, and she rose gently to the surface, disengaging the also- spent Stef, who lay, like me, gasping in the now-warm water. The room was downright hot now, the ice transformed to steam, and the demon crown was still safely in its niche.

Orchid was now bathed in flickering, coruscating lights, seemingly shining from her slowly flapping
wings, illuminating her sweet, naked body with an unearthly glow. She hovered near the ceiling, beaming down on us with a smile that could shatter glass.

“Orchid loves you,” she said, and her voice echoed through us, as if it came from beyond the confines of the room. “Orchid loves you very much. I want more. I want more men for me. Ten. A hundred. I will have many men where I go, but you come see Orchid. Orchid will love you special. Feel love in Orchid’s land — feel her special love.”

I waved weakly. “Bye, love,” I said with all the energy I could muster. “Have a good trip.”

Stef waved as well, but could only manage a rusty squeak.

She waved as well, then faded away, her lights growing dimmer and dimmer.

“Orchid loves you,” she said, as if receding down a long tunnel. “Remember. Orchid loves you both.”

Then she was gone.

I looked at Stef, barely retaining enough strength to swivel my head. “So, how ’bout getting that crown and getting the hell out of here?” I said.

Stef nodded. “Argle bargle,” he replied.

The Demon Crown – Chapter 13

“What took ya so long?” Odo demanded as we hurried from the room. The crown was safe in my backpack for now. “And why ya so wet?”

“Guardian water elemental,” I said briefly. “Spewed all over us before we could kill it.”

“Hmph,” the dwarf grunted. “Shoulda called me.”

Stef shook his head wordlessly while I ignored the little psychopath and motioned everyone to follow me down the corridor. “Come on,” I said. “We got what we came for, now let’s get the hell out.”

Stef chuckled. “Almost too easy, huh?”

I was about to reply when I realized that the blonde idiot had probably jinxed us with that remark.
Footsteps echoed down the corridor. Lots of footsteps.

“Double time!” I hissed. “We’re outa here!”

We all sprinted for the exit, away from the footsteps. Unfortunately, myriad footfalls also sounded down that route, as well.

“Crap,” I muttered. “You had to go and say it, didn’t you, Stef?”

“Sorry,” he said contritely, drawing a throwing dagger.

“Hah!” Odo barked, swinging his axe. “We’ll make mince-pies of ’em. Come and get me, ya red skinned motherfuckers!”

Dwarves, I reflected, were not long on subtlety.

In front of us a squad of demons appeared, led by the pair we’d seen in the hallway. The bowman had his weapon out and strung, a heavy black arrow aimed straight at me. The bow continued to groan and mumble, while the other ten (or was it fifty?) or so demon held weapons in various shapes and colors, all crackling with so many enchantments I felt my hair start to stand on end.

I turned around. Xitaa was whispering some battle chant under her breath, slim longsword held on guard. Behind us it was worse. A similar crowd of demon-warriors, both male and female (and, gods help me, I’d probably have been willing to jump in the sack with any one of them, regardless of gender — such is the demons’ attraction to us, I guess) stood watching us with expressions ranging from wariness to amusement and outright hate.

In the middle of the crowd, however, stood the biggest, most muscle-bound demon male I’d ever seen. A set of heavy goat horns curled from his temples, fangs overhung his thin lips, and in each hand he held a blade which made Lawbringer look like a toothpick. He wore little in the way of clothing, revealing a chest the size of a White Empire dreadnaught and arms like high elven guardian trees. On either side of him was a snarling hunting beast resembling a cross between a
bull mastiff and a sabre-toothed tiger, each wearing a spiked collar, their eyes glaring with red- yellow animosity. I had a sneaking hunch that the demonic muscle- boy was Duke Janus himself.

“Surrender yourselves, humans,” Janus growled in a voice like mountains colliding. “This is your only warning.”

I considered this, then spoke. “Couldn’t we just talk like civilized.”

“Kill them,” Janus rumbled.

So much for diplomacy.

The demons hastened forward. I remembered the bowman behind me and dodged. The black missile whizzed through the air and struck a wall, coalescing into a sizzling, black blob which oozed up the stonework like a living thing.

Lawbringer rang from its scabbard, runes flashing blue-white, lightning crackling up and down its length. The demons in front of me hesitated, their eyes reflecting what might have been fear, at the sight of the legendary weapon.

“Time to kill!” Odo bellowed from behind me, and I heard his blade swishing through the air, contacting something with a meaty chunk. That was about all the time I had to think about Odo as the demons overcame their fear and charged in a body.

“For the Mother of All Battles!” Xitaa shouted, swinging her sword. The enhanced metal sliced a demon’s arm (it would have split an ordinary human in two, however), sending him staggering back.

As I’ve said repeatedly throughout this narrative, I’m not the best swordsman in the world, but with
Lawbringer and doing most of the fighting, I certainly felt like it. The sacred blade slashed effortlessly through air and demon-flesh alike, its runes flashing brightly, leaving long silvery trails.

No demon blade could touch me. Neither claw nor tooth nor arrow could harm me. The demons before me fell back, crying out in panic. “He holds an enchanted blade!” they cried. “Ware! Heartcutter!”

I felt no mercy now — it was Lawbringer taking control, turning me into the living embodiment of
Goltha of Litharna, the Demon-Slayer. Male and female demons fell before the blade’s onslaught. One female fell to her knees, black hair cascading, her eyes gazing up at me almost beseechingly. She looked like Narisha, and I saw a tattoo much like my lover’s on one breast, peeking out of her studded corset. Sorrow raged deep inside me as the blade slashed through her, sending her head spinning, and I knew that later I’d feel horrible.

Beside me, Xitaa also strove against the red-fleshed horde, albeit with somewhat less success. I glanced over to see her trading blows with a slim male demon dressed in a purely decorative chain mail vest. She beat back a blow from the demon’s axe then lunged with her thin blade (a move popular with the Xeshite blademasters, but not well known in my neck of the woods), plunging the point though her opponent’s unarmored chest. Yes, even though the demon’s body could shrug off incredible damage, two feet of steel though the chest still finished them off admirably.

I swung again, sending an arm-less demon shrieking down the corridor. I realized that I now faced Duke Janus alone.

“Hello, demon,” I hissed through clenched teeth. “I bring pain.” (Not my own words, I don’t think. Maybe it was something Sir Goltha said once.)

Janus seemed unconcerned. He nodded briefly, and the nightmare-dog hunting beasts leaped at me, fangs bared, spittle strings trailing like streamers, their red eyes glowing brighter and hotter. I slashed, Lawbringer drew a glittering arc that cut through both beasts midsections, slicing them in two. Blood and other, less savory, substances splashed against the stone walls.

Janus was still unmoved, and leisurely moved toward me, brandishing his twin swords.

“You bring me pain, human,” he rumbled. “I bring you much, much more.”

Our weapons clanged together and to my surprise, Lawbringer’s swath of destruction finally crashed to a stone cold stop. Something in the demon’s weapons had made the blade’s magic flee, and I was once more just a second-rate swordsman trying to fight with a sword I could barely hold up.

Janus chuckled. “We demons have our own heart cutters,” he growled, like a veldtland saber-cat ready to pounce. “And you will know pain, human, not me.”

I parried clumsily, but he knocked Lawbringer from my hands. Panic seized me in a rough grip, and I turned to flee. Calmly, without hurry, he stabbed me in the back.

I fell. I screamed. I did, indeed know pain. The substance of the demon-blade coursed through my veins like acid. I rolled over, looking up at Janus. He stood above me, smiling evilly.

“I’ll not grant you the mercy of a quick death, human,” he said. “You’ve cost me many fine warriors today, with your pathetic little toy sword.” The wickedly fanged point of one of the blades moved inexorably toward my face. Gods. Narisha…

“Mother of All Battles! Deliver your servant!”

Xitaa’s entreaty echoed down the corridor, riveting the few surviving combatants. Janus looked up, annoyed.

“Purge the demon! Goddess save us!”

Xitaa stood proudly, legs planted widely apart, arms upraised, sword pointing skyward. She looked for all the world like one of Rexxara’s own battle-maidens, her armor splashed with blood, her face and voice defiant.

A deep rumbling filled the hall. Gods… No, I thought — Goddess…

Light flashed down Xitaa’s blade, and then lanced out to strike Janus in the chest.

It wasn’t enough to kill. But it was enough to send the duke tumbling backwards, his twin blades clanging to the floor.

My pain seemed to vanish, and the clean peace of pure battle filled my soul. I stood.

“Lawbringer!” I shouted, and the great sword flew through the air to plant itself in my hands. I advanced upon the stunned Janus.

He struggled to his feet. His swords were gone. He looked at me fearfully.

“No pain, demon,” I said quietly. “I’ll cause you no pain.”

I killed him quickly and watched his lifeless body
crumple to the floor. Wearily, I sheathed Lawbringer and turned to go.

Xitaa joined me. As we stepped over piles of sundered demon bodies, I looked frantically around for Odo and Stef.

Odo was easy. He had been slammed against a wall and lay, insensible but alive, cradling his precious axe. Stef, on the other hand…

His head was about ten feet away from his body. A demon sword had sliced cleanly through his neck. He probably never knew what hit him.

I knelt down, frantically mumbling charms to determine if his body still retained its vital spark.
Deep inside him, I thought I detected a faint pulse. Gods, maybe…

Xitaa knelt beside me, placing Stef’s head on his chest. She knew what I was doing, and joined me in hastily muttering a binding spell, hopefully enough to keep his spirit alive for the duration of the trip back. If we were very lucky, a high priest of Phaedra might be able to put him back together.

Grimly, we packed up our companions, and hurried from the dreadful fortress, now little more than a slaughterhouse.

Now, with all the fighting over, I could finally feel sick.

The Demon Crown – Chapter 14

Weariness pretty much oozed from every pore of my body. We had succeeded, but in my estimation, the price had been almost too high.

I saw to Stef’s sundered remains and made sure that the binding enchantment was still active — all the while steeling myself for the beating which Stef was sure to deliver once he recovered. I made a mental note to offer him a bonus as soon as he was capable of communication.

Odo was still out cold, and I hoped that his dwarven constitution would pull him through. For the moment, I thought, crossing the deck with the Demon Crown secure in my sea bag, there was nothing I could offer save prayer.

In retrospect, I should have realized that my travails weren’t over, but what happened next exceeded anything I could have foreseen.

I knew something was wrong the instant I opened my cabin door. The interior was lit with the rich, yellow glow of a dozen oil lamps, scattered throughout the small chamber, and the exotic scents of spicy incense filled the air.

The incense burned in four small braziers, one placed at each corner of the bed. The intruder who had placed them there, however, was the most astonishing thing of all.

Xitaa the Rexxaran sat cross-legged on my bed, hands placed together before her. Rich, violet eyes stared into space, as if focused on something distant, and only barely visible. Her breathing was slow and measured, and her white skin gleamed in the lamplight. I saw an open bottle of oil on the floor, centered at the foot of the bed.

Oh, yes — did I forget to say that she was completely naked as well? Doubly so for her near-total lack of hair, save for her long, now-braided scalp-strip. Her skin was quite fair, decorated here and there with small (but strangely tasteful) scars. Her wound from the battle at the keep had healed completely (probably with the help of prayer), and was now indistinguishable from her other scars. My own nasty wound, I noted, had also been healed by Rexxara’s timely intervention.

“Welcome, Sword Brother,” she said. Her voice had a strange timbre — a subtle shift of tone which made it sound even deeper and more serious than it had before. “Come, partake of Rexxara’s blessing and absolution.”

With that, she moved her hands apart, extending her arms, elbows slightly bent, palms facing me, presenting a small, rounded pair of breasts, with exquisite pink nipples, to my view.

That was about all the encouragement I needed. I entered with more haste than was strictly seemly, shutting and bolting the door behind me. I made to approach the bed, but she stopped me with an abrupt gesture, her shapely violet eyes fixing me with an intense gaze.

“Come no nearer until you have prepared yourself, brother,” she said. “For I am no longer entirely the woman you knew as Sister Xitaa. I have shed blood and taken life as the Mother of All Battles has decreed. But now, having performed the rituals for the taking of life, we must perform the act which symbolizes the giving of life.”

I had surmised as much, and was quickly coming to the realization that these Rexxarans weren’t anywhere near as stiff-necked and repressed as everyone thought.

“I am Xitaa,” she continued in a voice which was at once imperious and softly inviting, “but I am also now vessel to Mother Rexxara, Goddess of Just Battle. Join with us, brother, wash clean the blood of our enemies with the perfect love of the Goddess.”

Gods — I guess you learn something new every day, eh? I was about to take Rexxara/Xitaa up on her offer (making love to a goddess not being something anyone would turn down readily), when she stopped me again. Gods!

“Prepare,” she whispered, all seductive grace now. Her hands moved in intricate patterns, palms weaving in and out, breasts and belly moving rhythmically. Shadows lay between her thighs and I was suddenly seized by the intense desire to see what was hidden there.

“Prepare,” she repeated. “Unclothe your body that the Goddess may see you. Anoint yourself with her sacred oils that you may be purified.”

I didn’t hurry; haste struck me as unseemly right now. I took a deep breath, filling nostrils and lungs with spicy fragrance, then loosened my shirt and breeches. In a few moments, I stood before Xitaa, naked as the day I entered the world.

The Goddess seemed to approve — a smile crossed Xitaa’s sculptured face for the first time. It was
assisted, I imagine, by the actions of my organ, which rapidly rose from half-mast status to full — and rather uncomfortable — attention.

“It is good,” she said, and her seductive tone increased, dripping from her words like honey. “Rexxara desires you. Anoint your body now, and receive her favor.”

The oil was a fragrant concoction, and I’m sure it cost \a fortune (assuming non-Rexxarans could even purchase it, of course). I slathered it on my neck, chest, stomach and thighs, rubbing fiercely.

It tingled and burned much like the fluids of my beloved Narisha. I thought of her briefly (my erection jumping a bit further at the notion), but I realized that she wasn’t here. This was one experience I wanted to keep to myself.

“Approach, warrior,” Xitaa murmured. She lay back on the bed, now, torso elevated on a pile of pillows arranged with ritualistic precision, and uncrossed her legs, while carefully lacing her fingers behind her naked head.

“Let me gaze on a goddess for a moment,” I said, running my eyes up and down the warrioress’ body.

She was a muscular woman — each individual sinew firmly outlined and distinct (I suspected strongly that she could beat me arm wrestling). Solid, angular shoulders gave way to arms which looked strong but in no way grotesque. Small but well-formed breasts rose high above the sharpness of her ribs and the taunt smoothness of her belly. Her thighs powerful and pale as those of a statue — framed her sex, smooth and hairless as the rest of her, clean-shaven and delicate, creating a gentle, soft center amid the harsh rigidity of her fighter’s physique.

Yes, I believed a goddess lived in those corded arms and powerful thighs, but She also dwelt in the fragile pink flower of her cunt.

“Let me worship Rexxara,” I said simply, and joined her on the bed.

Goddess she may have been (or at least an avatar), but her tastes were strictly earthly. We flowed together like water, our slick skin sliding without friction, the pressure of fingers and mouths running freely along each other’s bodies.

I kissed her deeply, tasting wine and other, more exotic things on her tongue. She returned my kisses with passion, roaming inside my mouth as our bodies combined and recombined.

My hand sought her breast, gliding along her oil-slick, hairless belly to enclose the sweet little globe and tickle its rapidly-hardening center of desire. She moaned against my mouth, sending delicate vibrations through me.

“Worship me,” she whispered, fiercely. “Worship me!”

Her own fingers ranged over my chest, fingering my own nipples as I toyed with hers. I moved lower to embrace her breasts with my lips, rolling swollen nipples between my teeth.

Her mouth free, Xitaa provided a running commentary, part ritual, part passion.

“Nurse at the breasts of the mother of passion, mortal,” she gasped, words barely coherent. “Stroke my flesh and feel my blessings radiate outward… we join together in penance and faith, you and I… worship me and worship the Goddess…”

My mind grew strangely divided. In one half, I gave in to passion, and explored the eager body of this goddess-woman, taking back pleasure from her lips and fingers to equal what I gave.

The other half of my awareness writhed in something resembling religious ecstasy. That this act — so thoroughly pleasurable and essential to our natures — could be considered a form of worship aroused a deep-seated longing in me, and now both halves fed off of each other. I truly believed, now, that Xitaa was an earthly incarnation of a terrible goddess of violence and passion, of creation and destruction.

“Take my body,” I rasped with the same pent-up desire as Xitaa had spoken. “I surrender to the Goddess…”

Then Xitaa was kissing and fondling my engorged cock, tracing its outlines with finger and tongue, all the while continuing to chant in a near-trance of religious and sexual fervor.

“Oh, the Goddess is good, she is kind… Let her lips embrace your manhood, be one with her… Pay homage with your lips and tongue… Pay her homage and she returns your pleasure tenfold… Now, man, belong to the Goddess, accept her love… Love her, lie with her, find joy in her sweet recesses, find pleasure in her soft breasts and loving cunt…”

Her lips encircled my cock and, without further preliminaries, she swallowed its entire length, eyes
closed, body trembling. Soft, wet warmth enveloped me, as if she were sucking my entire body inside her.

I was damned if I’d be the only one accepting Rexxara’s blessing. With a heave, I pulled Xitaa’s hard body atop mine, placed my hands on her thighs, spread them apart and thrust my face into the depths of her pink, hairless sex.

She stiffened, and a high-pitched sound escaped from her throat, vibrating through my manhood, then her trembling increased. She periodically released my cock to utter another invocation, then enveloped it again, groaning deeply, stroking with lips and tongue, as a feverish heat rose deep inside me. “Feel the Goddess’ passion… mmm… against your burning flesh… mmm… Her blessing in each caress… mmm… of her loving tongue.”

All of this made me even wilder, of course, and as sexual and religious passion grew closer and closer together in my mind, I wanted her more and more. I told her so.

“Let me put my cock inside you,” I gasped.

She complied instantly, lying back on her pile of pillows, opening up her beautiful cunt for me, now slick with my own spittle and her sweet honey.

“Fill the cunt of the Goddess,” she said in excited, yet strangely measured and ritualistic tones. “Fill her cunt with your manhood and accept her blessing.”

Pure, wild lust had pretty much taken over, and without further preliminaries, I slipped my cock between the moist pink lips and thrust deeply into the warm wetness inside.

After all the build-up, Xitaa’s climax was instantaneous, clamping down on my cock like a fist.
Through clenched teeth she groaned, gasping out a further litany.

“Fill your goddess’ womb, man… Ohhh… Spill your seed inside her blessed cunt… Ohhh… Fill her… Love her…”

I let her climax progress before I finally abandoned control. “Share with the Goddess, blessed, beautiful mortal. She loves you, loves your cock, loves your seed… Ohhh… Fill her mortal… Ohhh… Fill her now…”

On cue, I crashed noisily and unstoppably into orgasm, hot semen geysering from my cock, spewing into the moist goddess-cunt.

I groaned — it was not over… A second wave crashed over me, and blinding orgasm flashed through my veins again.

I think I went somewhere else for an instant. Perhaps it was only Xitaa’s religious trance, or perhaps I really did move briefly to the land beyond, where the gods all dwell.

In the last instant of my second orgasm, I saw her — a beautiful, red-haired woman clad for battle, naked sword in her hand, cold fire in her eyes.

I met those eyes without fear. As our gazes locked, the beautiful woman smiled a secret smile, and nodded approvingly…

Then, she was naked, lush and fleshy, breasts like small planets, hips wide and inviting, hands held out seductively, still smiling a secret smile…

Then I was back, lying on the bed, my last scintilla of strength drained, and Xitaa was beside me, collapsed into sated unconsciousness.

Rexxara? I don’t know. Perhaps. At that point, I knew better than to speculate. I was pretty useless for the remainder of the trip back. Xitaa immediately returned to her steely warrioress’ persona, and Odo eventually recovered, assaulting one crewman and demanding rum. We kept the soul-binding renewed, and I hoped desperately that we’d gotten it cast in time.

Skate’s crew remained friendly in a distant, professional way. They had some idea what we’d been through, and didn’t begrudge me my exhaustion. The last bit of exertion with Xitaa I didn’t share, but it certainly added to my total collapse. I didn’t even have the strength to communicate with Livia and Narisha — I figured to surprise them, anyway.

We escaped demon waters without further danger, and skirted hazardous areas on the way back. I was grateful that I wasn’t called out to fight off pirates or fish-people or even a cloud of fierce mosquitoes, and the sight of the teeming open sore that was Stoneburg was one that I never thought I would be happy to see.

The place simply wasn’t the same. The buildings seemed even more run-down, the streets even more filthy, the inns even less appealing. Even the women looked tawdry. Slowly, in a fog, I walked down Skate’s gangway and, accompanied by one of Kamaz’s larger and more threatening crewmen, hocked a soul-gem to a wide- eyed nobleman for about half what it was worth.

Even so, I received enough chinking, gleaming coins to pay off Kamaz, her crew and Odo with a substantial bonus, make a large contribution to Xitaa’s temple, and drop another bundle to a Phaedran priest to rejoin Stef’s sundered remains and nurse him back to health. I chewed my nails to the elbow for several hours waiting to see if the spells took, and finally the priest
returned with a beatific smile to inform me that my friend “would be fine.”

“Is he awake?” I asked, worriedly eyeing the door to the infirmary.

“Oh no,” the priest said sadly, no doubt figuring in his head how many women my gold would entice to the temple that evening, and whether he’d have to settle for sloppy seconds after the grand patriarch. “An injury of this magnitude… He’ll sleep for days. Shall I send him to you when he awakens?”

“No!” I said hastily, almost leaping to my feet, then calmed myself forcibly. “I mean, don’t say anything about me.” I held out a pouch full of gold and very pretty gems. “But do give him this, please.”

The priest grabbed the pouch a hair too fast for my tastes.

“And,” I added, ominously, “if he tells me that he received one copper groat less than what’s in there, I’m coming back with an army of Jarreks and burn this festering boil of a temple to the ground.”

I heard the priest begin to respond indignantly, “My good man how dare you…”

But by then I was gone.

The final phase of my mission had arrived. With puppyish eagerness (for which I thoroughly despised myself) I hurried to Livia’s, the crown still safe in my pack.

Thankfully, her sprites recognized me and let me in. I walked through her long, marble entry hall, feeling the satisfaction of a job accomplished, and the fevered anticipation of pleasures to come.

Livia was busy shelving books in her library as I entered. She was dressed in a white gown, her pale hair gleaming in the sunlight. To my own senses, narrowed down only to the thought of at last seeing her again, the library seemed a bit brighter and warmer than the tarnished city outside.

“Hello, Livia,” I said.

When she turned, her pale blue eyes met mine. She caught her breath, then flung herself at me.

“Wulf!” She cried, embracing me with sufficient strength to crack my ribs. “Why didn’t you contact us?” she demanded, fixing me with a stern gaze, the pale blue growing slightly clouded. “I was afraid you’d been…”

“No,” I replied. “But what did happen is a long story. From what I’m given to understand, however, Stef will survive, but he’ll have a scar all the way around his neck.”

“Ah.” She looked contrite. “Any other casualties?”

“Well, almost me, but for the intervention of the Mother of All Battles. But I’ll tell you later. Where’s Narisha?”

Livia’s eyes narrowed. “In the bedroom. Care to see her?”

I grinned. “Love to. Lead on.”

She didn’t lead me to the bedroom, however. We ended up in her scrying room and uncovered one of her crystals. (Damme, she could watch any corner of her house! I hadn’t realized.) The sight revealed was both maddening and sweetly familiar.

Narisha was on her hands and knees, naked save for a slender chain around her waist, and various anklets and bracelets. A slender, boyishly handsome young man was positioned behind her, pushing a similarly slender, but quite long, cock into her, while she kept her tongue busy between the legs of a black-skinned, silver haired woman with plump breasts and long legs.

“Your poet?” I asked.

Livia nodded.

“The woman?”

“Dark elf noblewoman,” Livia replied. “A friend of mine who happened to drop by. Very entertaining woman.”

“I imagine. Hope she’s less homicidal than the other dark elves I’ve met.”

“Ha, ha. Anyway, she’d never had a demon before, and “Looks as if the demon’s having her.” I frowned. “If we’re going to be voyeurs, can we get sound on this thing as well?”

Livia made a gesture, and I heard Narisha’s voice, harmonizing with the moans of her two companions.

“Sweet little elf,” she whispered, then dipped her head to lap at the wet black flesh. “My sweet little
princess.” The poet moaned deeply.

“My boy want to come?” she asked alluringly. “Come for your lover.”

On cue, the young one contorted in orgasmic ecstasy, clutching Narisha’s fleshy buttocks and wailing incoherently.

“Yes, yes,” whispered Narisha. “You come so well for your lover…” Then she was back to work on the elf.

“Damn,” I muttered.

“What?”

“The stupid red-skinned tart still has me,” I growled. My breeches were tight as a drumhead. Again. “You feel the same?”

Livia nodded, looking vaguely embarrassed. “I think the spell wore off a long time ago, though,” she said. “This appears to be real, now.”

“Grrr,” I said. “Well, shall we go inform her of my triumphant return when she’s finished?”

Livia considered this. “That could be hours yet,” she replied, “and in all honesty I’d rather have you to myself for a while.”

I didn’t argue. She glided to her knees and loosened my belt, pulling out my now-tumescent organ with experienced fingers.

“I’ve missed you,” she whispered, planting kisses along the hot flesh. “Oh, how I’ve missed you.”

I gave myself up to her touches, and we were soon fully interwoven, the sounds of Narisha and her other lovers’ passions filling our ears.

Narisha’s companions had retired when we sought her out, the dark elf (whose name, I learned, was Daedora, and was related to the deadly Lady Thae’lynn only very distantly) to her chambers, and the poet to wherever poets go. Narisha lay in all her naked glory, inadequately covered by black silk sheets, dozing and breathing shallowly.

I kissed her gently, and her yellow eyes flickered open.

“Swordsman!” she cried, in a tone reminiscent of Livia’s. I was gratified.

“Through fire and water, I have returned,” I said, quoting a White Empire warrior’s traditional phrase, or some such balderdash. I held out the crown. “Yours, I believe?”

She snatched it up and inspected it.

“Darling man!” she declared, throwing her head back and howling with joy. Her breasts heaved disconcertingly. I noticed that she’d changed her nipple gem to a gleaming black stone.

“And you’ll be happy to learn that Duke Janus is history,” I said, “thanks to your generous offer of the sword.”

She grinned broadly. “Kneel down, freelance,” she said. “I want to see it all.”

I complied, as Livia sat on the bed nearby. Narisha placed her hands on my temples, and I felt the past weeks’ experiences flickering from my mind into hers.

Narisha’s face underwent a variety of interesting contortions, all of them pleasant. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Yes! Oh!”

When we reached the interlude with Orchid, she closed her eyes and sighed.

“A faerie woman! I should have known.”

She took her hands away and savored the sensations I’d sent her.

“You both did well,” she said. “Or should I say, all five of you?”

I shrugged. “She seemed to take energy from all of us and give it back. I’m not entirely sure what really happened.”

“Faeries are empathic,” said Livia. “They absorb the emotions and sensations of those around them. The more partners they have, the more sensation and pleasure they gain.”

“They’re very fond of orgies,” Narisha said, wistfully.

“You and Stef apparently pumped in enough sensation to recharge her magical abilities,” Livia said with all the aplomb of a sorcery instructor at the academy.

Narisha continued to review my adventures. When she reached the battle with Janus’ warriors, the bloodlust I’d seen in her wild eyes as she killed Niall returned, and when she witnessed Janus’ death, her face transformed somewhat, taking on the bewhiskered appearance of the black and red striped tiger-like creature. A snarl escaped her throat.

Then she was back to normal, and followed the story up to that magical encounter with Xitaa.

“Ohhh,” she muttered softly as her hips began to gyrate, jouncing the bed up and down somewhat. “Oh, so beautiful…”

I’m not sure if she came or not at the end of the scene, but she certainly seemed to enjoy it.

“Such a lovely creature, your priestess,” she said. “Perhaps she can join us someday.”

“Well, in the first place, she only does it after she’s killed someone,” I replied. “And in the second place, I think she prefers men.”

“I can show her the error of her ways,” Narisha purred.

We finished my mental narration, and I looked up to see her smiling prettily, gazing down at me with unconcealed affection.

“My darling, darling,” she whispered, stroking my cheek. “I’m yours forever.”

I smiled back. “I’ll believe it when I see it, love.”

The Demon Crown – Chapter 15

We ate an early supper by candlelight, joined by Daedora, who took her food quietly and delicately, speaking little, but occasionally fixing me with the smoldering gaze of her pale, white eyes. Narisha excused herself to clean up and prepare for our official reunion in her bedchamber, and Daedora said she needed some rest (given the force and volume of the orgasm I’d heard from her, I well believed it), leaving Livia and me alone in the dining room.

“Well,” I said at last. “What now?”

“What do you mean?” Livia’s blue eyes sought me out; her blonde hair reflected dimly in the candlelight.

“I mean, this isn’t the most orthodox of arrangements — you, me, her. I need a little guidance, or at least some idea of what the hell I’m doing. Have you got any \idea where we should go from here?”

She shrugged. “I’ve done well over the past few years living day to day,” she replied. “I see no reason to stop now.”

“I’m afraid that I don’t really have that option,” I said. “The fact is that Stoneburg believes I’m dead. If I show my face anywhere and prove that I am, in fact, alive, the authorities might start asking me some tough questions about Scrutator Niall’s mysterious disappearance, among other things. I can’t stay in this city.”

Livia looked stricken. “Are you saying you’re leaving?”

I touched her hand. “I’m saying that we should all leave, for a while at least. A sea cruise will do us some good, and let us get this twisted, bizarre relationship straightened out. The Empire is beautiful this time of year, and there are beaches in Xesh where no one ever goes besides jarrek beachcombers.”

She considered this. “How long?”

“As long as you want,” I said. “I’ve made an offer to Kamaz for Skate, and I suspect she’s willing to take it.”

“We’ll need a crew.”

“Always the practical one, my love.” I leaned back and stretched. “I just want you to think about it and tell me.”

She nodded, then smiled. “Tomorrow,” she said. “We’ll worry about it tomorrow.”

The Demon Crown – Chapter 16

Memories of that night are rather fuzzy to me. Narisha and Livia had obviously planned it for some time. The bedroom was softly lit by blue stargems. Incense glowed redly, filling the room with fragrance. The three of us lay on the bed in an indiscriminate tangle, touching, kissing, licking and sucking without regard for who was who.

Was that Narisha’s tongue, or was it Livia’s, which hotly stroked my cheek? Whose hand gently brushed my chest? Did I gently suck at Livia’s nipple or Narisha’s? (Oops — my teeth bit solidly on polished stone must be Narisha.) As I kissed one tender mouth and felt another caress my cock, I realized that I didn’t care.

The bedchamber was like another world, separate from the city and the sea and the shores beyond. There, we came together in limitless combinations, finding new truths in the simple geometries of passion. In the dark, incense-perfumed depths of that small room we journeyed to different realms, each finding universes within the confines of the others’ bodies.

The passion didn’t stop after Livia came to a moist, heart-stopping climax, or when Narisha cried out like a soul in torment, her succulent cunt grasping my cock like a fist, or even when I splashed hot come across Livia’s breasts and belly, and Narisha slowly and luxuriantly licked them clean.

As I said, the women had prepared for this moment. Livia shared a thick green concoction with us, which restored our vitality in a moment, and sent us into the throes of new passions.

Livia and I took turns lapping at Narisha’s wet, black cunt lips, holding her between us, forcing her to climax after climax, drenching us in her intoxicating demonic fluids.

Then, it was Livia’s turn. Narisha held her wrists and whispered hotly in her ear as I thrust my organ deeply inside her, feeling her come around me, moaning and begging for more.

Gods, that potion must have added a bit of enthusiasm, I realized as I took my place between the two women, watching them share my cock between their two sets of pouting lips and flickering tongues, breaking off now and then to kiss each other deeply and stroke each other’s bodies. I couldn’t hold out long with this kind of treatment, and poured forth once more, my body tensing and convulsing. They shared my seed as well, licking from each other’s faces.

They left me alone for a time as they pleasured each other and I watched the two supple bodies, scarlet and white, sliding together, kissing, sucking, licking…

I felt something of what Orchid must have felt as my own brain and heart echoed with my two lovers’ orgasms, and I sighed deeply, happy for myself and for them.

This went on for the rest of the night. I suspect that potion was rather valuable, and we must have consumed over half of it.

My exertions didn’t get any easier, either. Claiming to have been kept awake by our moaning, groaning and sighing, Daedora slid in to bed with us, sleekly naked, her black skin blending into the fragrant shadows.

I had forgotten the sweet delicacy of elven flesh and its enticing qualities. This particular dark elf was somewhat less wicked than the last one I’d been with, so I was able to make love to her without fearing for my life. The four of us were at it until dawn, when Daedora left us to lie in exhaustion.

As I drifted off to sleep, I remember speculating about what an impressive orgy we would have with me, Stef, and the still-nameless poet on one side, and my two lovers, Orchid and Daedora on the other. Perhaps if she had killed an orc or two, Rexxara might be persuaded to join in.

We dragged ourselves out of bed around noon and took some sustenance. I explained my plans for Skate and a pleasant sea journey to Narisha, and to Livia, who seemed to have forgotten all about them, for some reason.

“The money from those damned ghost-gems will keep us in luxury for years,” I said, “and we can sail that ship anywhere. Livia, you can let your poet manage your place in your absence, or something.”

Narisha looked sad and wistful. “It sounds wonderful, my dearest lover,” she said, her once-fearful voice tinged with tenderness and sorrow, “but I can’t stay here.”

If she’d shoved a dagger into my heart I wouldn’t have been more surprised. Livia looked the same way, staring speechlessly.

Our demoness bowed her head. “I have to go back. I have to return the crown. I doubt that my father will allow me to return.”

I was about to start babbling questions, suggestions, and ways out of the dilemma when a booming voice echoed from behind us.

“Perhaps not.”

A tall, powerful and devastatingly handsome male demon stood in the doorway to the dining room. He was clad in a simple leather jacket and breeches, and many of his living blue tattoos matched Narisha’s. I was just noting that his taste in clothing was far more tolerable than Narisha’s or Janus’, when Narisha squealed.

“Daddy!”

Of course.

“Lord Cammon the Flayer?” I asked, rising to my feet.

“The same,” he rumbled. “I prefer Lord Cammon the Just, however, and don’t believe those stories about my burning Mie and killing the Nine Adepts, either. Pure propaganda.”

“Come sit,” Livia said, hastily, offering a chair. “Care for some breakfast? Uh, or is it lunchtime?”

He shook his magnificent, goat-horned head. “I’m just passing through to collect some property.”

“A certain crown?” I asked.

“You guessed it. Not bad for a human.”

“How did you get here?” Livia demanded. “This house is warded to hell and back.”

He shrugged, approaching the table. “I’m a better sorcerer than you are. Now, about that crown?”

I retrieved it from the bedroom and handed it to him. He took it with a grateful nod. Narisha had been uncharacteristically silent through all of this, staring with mounting concern, first at me, then at Cammon.

“I’m so sorry, daddy,” she babbled at last, looking more troubled and uncertain than I’d ever seen her. “I know I was supposed to look after it, and it was a lot of responsibility, and you said you’d be really upset if I lost it, but…”

He waved a hand. “But you dropped the runestick. Yes, I know. You almost lost us everything, daughter. But in the end it had a positive effect. Your frail little human friend here sliced my greatest enemy into lunchmeat, and we’re all the more powerful for it. I forgive you.”

She stared without immediate comprehension. “You do?”

He nodded. “Of course, I can’t let your transgressions go unpunished.”

Narisha closed her eyes and made a face, steeling herself for the worst.

“Go ahead, daddy,” she said. “I’m ready.”

Instead of addressing her directly, he turned to me.

“Human, you’ve done me a great service,” he said, placing a massive paw on my shoulder. “You consider my daughter a friend.”

I swallowed. “More than that, my lord. I… I love her very much. Both she and you have helped me to understand your kind, and I know now that you’re intelligent, rational and sensitive beings like us. For that, I’m grateful.”

“If you consider us sensitive, you’re dead wrong, human. We’re a pretty gamey lot, actually. In fact,
we’re just as bad as you are. In any event, you’re a fit companion for my daughter.”

He turned to Livia. “And you? Do you feel the same way?”

Livia seemed reluctant to respond.

Cammon made an impatient gesture. If he’d had an axe in his hand, he’d have decapitated me. “Don’t worry, I don’t share the prejudices of your narrow-minded priestly types. Are you lovers?”

Livia colored. “Y-yes, my lord. I love her, too.”

“Good.” Cammon looked at Narisha. “Daughter, as your punishment, I decree that you roam the world for a period of not less than five years. You may retain all your powers, ranks and privileges, but you may not return to our estates during that time. I give you into the care of these two humans, and hope that you can learn from each other.”

Narisha’s eyes sprang open, and she smiled, throwing her arms around her father’s shoulders. “Daddy! I love you!” she declared.

Actually, Cammon did stay for lunch, eating roast boar and greens with manners completely unlike his daughter. By the end of the meal, I was actually developing quite a fondness for the old bastard. He was practically my father-in-law, after all.

Cammon bid us a warm farewell, kissed his daughter and embraced Livia and me, then mumbled a spell and was gone.

“Well,” I said. “That’s that.”

Just then, Daedora wandered gracefully into the room, clad in one of the lacy, revealing numbers of which dark elves seem so fond. After Thae’lynn, I was glad Daedora had no fondness for body piercings. Narisha’s nipple ring was quite enough for me.

“Good morning,” she said, sweetly. “Have we all recovered?”

“Hello, my sweet little elf,” Narisha said, pressing a finger to her chin and looking thoughtful. “By the way, have you ever sailed a ship?”

The Demon Crown – Chapter 17

Skate set sail four days later, riding the warm trade winds south, toward the vast and decadent expanses of the White Empire, and the pale, sandy beaches of Xesh.

Livia was our nominal captain, owing to extensive sailing experience while roaming the outer sea as a teenager, and the fact that she could command her sprites to do much of the shipboard work. The rest of the crew included myself, Narisha, Daedora (no, she’d never sailed a ship, but she was willing to learn — besides, she told us, the sex was the best she’d ever had), Stef (I talked him into it, but I had to let him thrash me a little bit first), Odo (he had all the nautical skill of a small piece of lint, but he was a hell of a fighter), and a number of Skate’s old crew, who couldn’t bear to leave the old gal.

The gleaming blue water of the southern seas spread out before us, and the sails bellied before a stiff breeze. I stood with Livia at the bow, watching a pair of dolphins swim and cavort, gleaming blue in our bow-wave. I wondered if we’d see any merrow on the trip. The possibilities seem endless.

“How’s your eye?” Livia asked. She was dressed in shipboard style breeches and boots and a loose, roomy shirt. Looking at her, I reflected that she was shaping up into a fairly decent captain.

“Not bad,” I replied. “At least I can open it now.” The black eye actually, it was a variety of exciting colors by now — was a gift from Stef, who had managed to track me down despite my best efforts to the avoid detection. Another sack of gold had mollified him somewhat, or had at least prevented him from killing me. At length, he’d agreed to help sail Skate, especially when I told him that we might go pay Orchid a visit. That morning, I had heard the crew making bets as to which part of his body he’d lose next.

“I’m glad,” Livia replied. “Your eyes are precious.”

I chuckled. “So are yours,” I said. “So is all of you. So is Narisha. So are Stef, and Daedora, and Odo, and the rest of the crew.

Hell, we’re in pretty good shape, aren’t we?”

She nodded, smiling. “I’ve been reading your memoirs.”

“Oh, really?” I asked, somewhat incensed. “They’re not really finished yet. What did you think?”

“You use too many similes, but the basic style is competent. You do tend to portray yourself as a female-magnet, however. I find the lurid details of your sex life less than believable.”

“Gee, thanks,” I replied sourly. “I bet I got the stuff with you right, though.”

For once, she didn’t respond. We watched the dolphins in silence for a time. I squinted toward the horizon. “So where to first, captain? The fleshpots of the Empire? The deserted beaches of Xesh where two or more broad-minded individuals could make love in the sun for hours on end? The Green Archipeligo where you can rent a jungle villa for a mere pittance and wander around naked all day? The Cold Isles where you can cavort wildly in the snow? The Lastlands? The Desert Lands? Litharna? Murvane? The Veldt Lands? Anywhere else your heart desires?”

She sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t care. Anywhere, as long as you’re there.”

“And Narisha?”

“And Narisha. And maybe Daedora, too.”

I put my head in my hands. “Is the triangle about to become a square?” I asked.

“Hm. Could be,” Livia replied. “Anything’s possible. Narisha’s with her in the cabin right now. By the way, I have a present for you.”

I looked at her and raised my eyebrows expectantly. “Yes?”

She reached into a pocket and proffered a small stone carving which glimmered in rainbow hues.

I took it. Eish, Xeshite, erotic…

“The one I stole from Tev,” I said.

She nodded, smiling. “I thought it might have sentimental value,” she said. “Now, since our other two lovers are otherwise occupied, what say you we retire to your cabin by ourselves?”

Oh, hell, I thought. I must have attracted all the bizarre fortune that other people missed. I sighed,
pocketing the figure, figuring that it was about time that I just accepted things. After all, I was alive, relatively wealthy, and in love. With two (three, now?) women.

Gods, Narisha had done a job on us. But I still loved her, even if she was back in her cabin even now, making violent love to a dark elf woman. Besides, Daedora had possibilities as well. I squeezed Livia gently and kissed her briefly on the lips, then followed her gently swaying form back amidships. I loved them all, and if they loved each other, so much the better.

Damn, but love is strange.

THE END