Feature Writer: OneEyedRoyal
Feature Title: BLOOD OF DRAGONS – THE SQUIRE
Story Codes: Erotic Horror
Synopsis: A squire is assigned to guard the daughter of a cult leader
Blood of Dragons – The Squire
“It will be the darkness in my life and my guiding star.”
The chorus of voices echoed around the chamber of black marble, dozens of robed and hooded figures bowing their heads in supplication to the one leading them in prayer. In their hands were candles of ebony wax that burnt with an eerie green flame, the only sources of illumination available. They grasped the candles tight even as the hot wax melted over their fingers. Their dark robes were seemingly pitch black at a glance, but the flickering lights revealed hidden patterns, unnatural shapes, and aberrant creatures subtly woven into the cloth. The heavy articles made their wearers formless and anonymous; in the darkness, there was no distinction of age, gender, or ancestry.
The prayer leader wore the same robes, the only distinction from the flock being a heavy chain around their neck, made of iron like the amulet that hung from it. Shaped like a twisted star, the eight points of the token seemed to writhe in the candlelight, almost as if they sought to tunnel into the leader’s chest and consume their heart.
“The Star shall guide, the Star shall follow,” the leader intoned, their voice feminine with a husky drawl. “The path is before us, the darkness about us, the cares of this world behind us.”
“Praise to the Star. Praise to the darkness,” the gathered figures responded.
The prayer leader smiled with satisfaction. “Welcome, brothers and sisters. It is always an inspiring sight to gaze upon our numbers and see how they grow with each passing month. The Word of the Dark Star spreads ever further; even now, there are gatherings of our brothers and sisters meeting in towns and cities all across the empire.
“The unenlightened seek to quash our voices; they call us cultists, heretics, heathens! They do not know of what they speak!” An angry murmur of agreement rippled through the crowd.
The leader continued. “They put their faith in shallow gods, figureheads that discriminate against true freedom. Their deities would empower a select few, puppets to enforce their whims and fancies, and give nothing but empty words and promises to the rest.
“The petty fallacies of the gods do not bind the Dark Star! The Dark Star does not discriminate! The light of the Dark Star shines equally upon all who would seek It! And when this world, those gods, the very universe itself pass into oblivion, the Dark Star shall remain, and within It, we shall all be one!”
“Speaker, I beg a question!” came a voice.
The crowd murmured again, hooded heads glancing back and forth, searching for the source. The prayer leader held up a pale, slender hand to silence them. “A voice I do not recognize,” she said. “A new follower of the Star is welcome to ask; it is only natural. Speak, child; what do you wish to know?”
One of the robed figures stepped forward from the others, smaller in stature and speaking with a youthful voice. “If the Dark Star shall one day outlast the universe, and that day is truly inevitable, do we serve any true purpose by worshiping it? Why not simply leave the unenlightened to their ignorance and let entropy take its course?”
The murmurs became louder, with angry shouts of “Unbeliever!” and “Sacrilege!” being hurled at the young initiate. The prayer leader held up her hand for silence once again.
“You are not the first to ask such a question,” she said calmly. “And you are correct; even if we were to do nothing, the Dark Star would still be the final power in the universe.
“But,” she continued, “why let the universe suffer for so long? With every passing second of continued existence, there are people in poverty, sadness, agony. They are born into pain, live with oppression and hardship, only to meet a meaningless end, having accomplished nothing to change the course of reality.
“By showing them the truth, that they need not suffer any more, we can bring about the coming of the Dark Star all the sooner, and the millions that would otherwise be born need never experience the torture that is life.
“The Dark Star is an end to all things, including death. For without life, there can be no death.”
The initiate was quiet for a moment. “But what of the gods? The churches teach us that they are the source of life. Would they not try to protect the people from such a fate?”
“Misguided as they are, no doubt they would,” said the prayer leader. “As with all things, their efforts will be meaningless. For they have but a handful of their chosen few, their clerics and knights. But soon, the numbers of the Dark Star will be legion in comparison, and we shall unleash its power upon this world. The unenlightened shall bear witness to the darkness given form, and it shall consume them.”
“Yes!” The prayer leader stood up to her full height, spreading her arms wide. “The power of the Dark Star shall manifest within its faithful, and we shall be as its spawn! We shall bring down the symbols of pride that the unbelievers have built, drag them into oblivion, and make way for the Dark Star to claim all that remains!”
“Praise the oblivion! Praise the Dark Star!” came voices from the crowd, amidst cheers and cries of joy. The initiate stood silent until the gathering began to calm and then spoke again.
“Then I have heard all I need to know,” he said, dropping his candle and throwing back his hood. Underneath was a young man with tanned skin and sandy bronze hair, piercing blue eyes glaring up at the prayer leader. Her own eyes widened under her hood.
“I know you…” she hissed.
“In the name of the Arbiter, Goddess of Order and Law, you are all under arrest!” the youth shouted. “Surrender, or face the justice of steel!”
“Flee, brothers and sisters!” the prayer leader called. “Flee, before they -”
A crash resounded through the black marble chamber, as the hidden door that served as the primary entrance shattered under the shield of a heavily armored figure charging into the room. Behind him came a dozen more, with swords drawn and voices raised.
The followers of the Dark Star scattered, making for the other hidden entrances to the criss-cross of tunnels under the city. The knights of the Arbiter encircled the room, some blocking the robed figures with their shields, while others pursued an elusive few into the darkened passageways. The young infiltrator, carrying only a dagger that he had managed to secret under his disguise, charged the prayer leader as she attempted to turn and run. She stumbled, tripping over the heavy robes and falling to the floor. He was on her in an instant, pinning her to the ground under his weight and holding the dagger to the back of her neck.
“Yield,” he said. “Your cult is broken!”
“Get off of me!” she snarled but did not dare struggle too hard under the blade. Her assailant reached over and pulled back her hood, revealing a proud, pale face surrounded by long ebony hair, dark eyes filled with hate, and pretty lips twisted in anger.
“Lady Donna Moonward?” he said.
“Release me, you half-blood brat!”
“You can let her up, Tolas. We’ll take it from here.” One of the armored knights came forward, leveling his blade at the noblewoman’s face. “Lady Moonward, you are under arrest on charges of heresy, blasphemy of the highest order, and conspiracy against the crown and church. Surrender and face your fate with dignity, or resist and face your sentence here and now.”
Tolas stepped back and allowed Lady Moonward to stand. She huffily adjusted her robes but held out her wrists for irons to be placed upon them without further objection.
“I swear, Ilga, this just isn’t fair!”
The tall, lanky half-orc girl sighed. “Tolas, you helped break up a cult last night, shouldn’t that be enough?
“Exactly! I broke up the cult, arrested Donna Moonward, and this is the thanks I get for it?” Tolas groused. He and Ilga, a cleric of the Sun Emperor, stood outside the gates to the Moonward estate. “I have to guard her daughter until the trial? What kind of reward is that?”
“Reward? Aren’t Knights of the Arbiter supposed to perform their duties without thought to the payoff?” said Ilga. “Better tone down the ambition there, or they might think you’re getting prideful.”
“I know, I know,” said Tolas, absently kicking at the cobblestones. “I was just hoping that I would be assigned something more important than babysitting duty.”
“I’d say count your blessings; do you know how much I’d give to have a shot at taking down a cult?” Ilga’s dark green eyes looked wistfully off into the air. “Just think of all the weird and wonderful lore that’s probably hidden behind this whole “Dark Star” business!”
“About that,” said Tolas. “Don’t mention the Dark Star or the cult to anyone if you can help it. Sir Eglamore says that we don’t want to cause a panic in the city.”
“Why would they panic?”
“It’s because of all the other cultists that were arrested,” explained Tolas. “There was a pattern: they were all homeless, outcasts, or…” he hesitated, “…half-breeds.”
Ilga understood. “You mean like all the people who have been disappearing lately?”
“Exactly. It seems these people were running away to join this cult, although most of them are still unaccounted for; who knows where they are now, or what they’re doing in the name of the Dark Star?”
“Tolas!” came a voice. “Come along, lad!”
A clanking of plate mail accompanied the voice, signalling the approach of Sir Eglamore, a tall human man with broad musculature gone slightly to seed, his face possessed of many lines and an impressive mustache. He signaled to the guards of the estate, who opened the gate without question.
“I have to go. Thanks for waiting with me, Ilga.”
“No problem,” she said, shaking Tolas’ bronze-skinned hand with her larger, grey-green one. “Have fun with the babysitting.”
Tolas frowned at her good-naturedly before trotting off to catch up with Sir Eglamore. As the two of them made their way through the estate towards the eastern tower, Tolas brought up his concerns to his mentor, who scoffed.
“It is hardly “babysitting,” Tolas. The girl came of age recently, mere months after you did so yourself. Plus, you know each other, do you not?”
“I’ve met her maybe twice, I know nothing about her,” Tolas grumbled.
“Then you should remedy that,” said Sir Eglamore, suddenly sounding gravely serious. “With her mother in custody, Amber Moonward is the sole heir to her house. Donna Moonward may have shared her beliefs and schemes with her daughter; anything that she might know about this “Dark Star” and what her mother might have been planning would be valuable information to us.”
“Why not just take her in for questioning as well?” said Tolas.
“Are we not? We have confined Amber Moonward to her home until further notice, and you are to gather information from her. Besides,” the knight added, “if she is as deeply involved with this cult as her mother is, then we should keep them as far apart as possible. Who knows what they might be capable of if they had a chance to conspire?”
“And what if she isn’t involved and doesn’t know anything?”
“Then, you will be keeping a young lady, with a recently arrested mother, safe from any potential harm that may come from being the sole heir of her estate.”
“So, “babysitting,” then,” said Tolas bluntly.
Sir Eglamore chuckled in spite of himself. “In as much as bodyguard duty is, yes.”
They stood before the entrance to the east tower, two guards in house livery standing on either side of the doorway. Sir Eglamore patted Tolas on the shoulder. “Do not fret, my boy. All of this will only last until the trial, and given the situation, it should not be too long.”
Tolas gripped the scabbard of his sword tightly with his off hand to stop his frustration from showing on his face. “As you say, Sir.”
With a nod, Sir Eglamore turned and walked away, leaving Tolas to ascend the staircase of the tower. With each step up the spiralling passage, he contemplated how he might question the younger Lady Moonward about her mother’s conspiracy. The more he thought about this posting, the more absurd it seemed to him.
“This is ridiculous,” Tolas muttered to himself. “What am I supposed to say? “Hello, remember me, we saw each other at the ball a couple of times, oh, by the way, I had a dagger at your mother’s neck last night, could you tell me everything you know about her insane cult?” That’ll go down well.”
Tolas paused as he reached the door to the chamber at the top of the tower. It had been delicately carved with the emblem of House Moonward and accented with floral patterns around the frame. Taking a deep breath, Tolas knocked. There was no response from inside. Tolas knocked again, with the same result. He tried the latch; it stuck for a moment, but with a firm push, the door swung open, and Tolas poked his head inside.
The room was typical of a high born lady. Lavish tapestries and curtains covered the walls, an ornate vanity with three polished silver mirrors sat in the corner next to a dressing screen, and a massive four-poster bed with beautiful draperies dominated the other side of the chamber near the window.
Upon the bed lay Amber Moonward, her eyes closed, her robes gathered around her waist, and her fingers were furiously working in and out of her pussy with her legs spread wide. Her dark hair splayed across the pillows behind her, and her lips were slightly parted in ecstasy as her breaths came short and fast.
Tolas did a double-take, stumbling through the door and into a nearby side table, tripping over his own feet and clattering loudly to the floor.
Amber’s eyes shot open at the sound, and she squealed in surprise, hurriedly drawing her legs closed and scrabbling to pull the bedclothes over herself. Reaching under her pillows, she withdrew an expensively forged dagger and aimed it at Tolas’ prone body.
“Who are you?!” she cried, her voice squeaking through her breathlessness. “What are you doing here?!”
“Peace, Lady Moonward!” said Tolas, holding up his hands as he shifted up onto his knees. “I’m Tolas, Sir Eglamore’s squire. I’ve been sent here as your retainer.”
“How did you get in here? The door was locked!” said Amber.
“It… wasn’t?” said Tolas.
Amber glanced between Tolas and the door, then lowered the dagger and placed a palm over her face. “Dammit, not again…” She sighed into her hand. “I told Mother to have that lock changed; it’s been doing that for months!” She glared at Tolas from between her fingers. “Next time, announce yourself properly before you barge into a lady’s room like that!”
“I knocked,” mumbled Tolas, standing up and straightening his sword belt. “Apologies, my lady,” he said louder. “Had I known that you were… “busy,” I would have come back later.”
Amber’s cheeks turned pink, and she wrapped her robes around her a little tighter, staring at Tolas in silent fury for a few moments. He could see that Amber had inherited much of her face from her mother; they had the same piercing dark eyes and pale skin. Amber’s jawline was slightly rounder, less angular, and less intimidating than Donna’s, and her hair was a deep, dark brown compared to the elder Lady Moonward’s midnight tresses.
She peered closer at Tolas. “You look familiar. Have we met somewhere?”
“In passing, yes,” said Tolas. “I have attended several noble functions with Sir Eglamore; he introduced me to you and your mother once or twice.”
“Oh right!” said Amber, snapping her fingers. “I remember now; you’re that half-breed squire that everyone talks about!”
Tolas bristled a little. “Everyone…?”
“Well, when a respected knight of the Arbiter like Sir Eglamore takes on a squire with dragon blood, it’s going to turn a few heads in the court,” said Amber with a wave of her hand, as though it was obvious. “They thought the novelty would have worn off by now, but I guess he hasn’t gotten rid of you yet.”
“Novelty?” said Tolas through gritted teeth. “I’ve been Sir Eglamore’s squire for seven years!”
“Which only makes it all the more astounding, wouldn’t you say?” said Amber. “Surely, you know what the usual reaction to half-dragons is in the Empire?”
“I’m well aware.” Tolas kept his voice as low and deadpan as possible to avoid exploding with rage.
“But I suppose if you’re still here, there have to be exceptions after all,” said Amber. She shifted off the bed; Tolas caught a brief glimpse of bare, slender legs as she alighted to the floor. Amber approached him slowly with a growing curiosity in her eyes. “So… Tolas, was it? Tell me: is it true that half-dragons have scales on their bodies?”
Whether it was tact or self-awareness that she was lacking, Tolas couldn’t believe the frankness of Amber’s question. “Yes,” was all the answer he felt obliged to give.
Amber ran her eyes up and down Tolas’ fit, trained body, as though she were trying to gaze right through his tunic and breeches. “Really? Whereabouts?”
“Can I see them?”
Tolas blinked. “Are… are you seriously asking me that?”
Amber bit her lip and smiled cheekily. “Well, you’ve already some of my most intimate parts, so it’s only fair, isn’t it?” She was standing right in front of him now; she reached up a finger and slowly stroked it down the center of his chest.
Tolas grabbed her wrist, perhaps a little harder than he might usually have done. “This… is hardly… appropriate… my lady,” he growled, biting off his words pointedly.
Amber’s cheeky smile grew wider. “Ooh, so you do have some balls! Do you have scales on those too?”
Tolas shoved her hand away and stomped over to the window, taking in deep breaths through his nose to try and calm the fury building in his guts. Amber stepped closer. “What’s the matter? Scared of me? I thought dragons were the scary ones!”
Tolas halted her with a finger pointed at her face. “Stop,” Tolas said in his low voice. “Stop right now. I am not some exotic plaything for you to enjoy. I am a squire of the Knighthood of Justice, assigned to watch and protect you. I am required to show you respect, and I would expect you to show it in kind. Or are you every bit as dishonorable and treacherous as your mother?”
The smug confidence on Amber’s face drained away, replaced with a quivering lip and furious eyes. “How dare you,” she whispered. “My mother is the wisest, noblest person in the entire empire, and she certainly has more honor than a low-born half-breed like you! You wouldn’t be worthy enough for her to spit on in the street!”
“Really?” said Tolas. “Then explain what she was doing in the tunnels beneath the city last night, conspiring with the low-born and rejects of society was. Because to hear her talk, she would have considered them equals, comrades in a rebellion against -”
“No! You’re lying!” shouted Amber, balling her fists. “She would never!”
“I was there!” Tolas shot back. “I brought her to the ground myself and had her arrested! She surrendered under the threat of my blade!”
Amber let out an incoherent scream and ran at Tolas, hands raised and aimed at his face. He caught her wrists, and was surprised at her strength; despite having a slim frame, Amber fought in his grasp with enough force that Tolas had to brace his legs to prevent her from pushing him out the window. Shoving back, Tolas managed to wrestle Amber towards the bed and pin her hands down above her head; he quickly brought his knees up onto the mattress to avoid her kicking legs, and shift his weight to keep her in place.
“Enough!” Tolas said sternly. “What do you know about the Dark Star?”
Amber squirmed beneath him, froze momentarily, then reached up with her mouth and kissed Tolas firmly on the lips.
The young squire pulled back in surprise, which was enough for Amber to get her hands free and immediately clutch the back of his head, pulling him in closer. Tolas could feel her tongue probing, trying to enter his mouth, but as he tried to disentangle himself, Amber wrapped her legs around his waist and held him in place.
Amber’s mouth slid from Tolas’ own as she planted kisses all across his face and down his neck, her tongue lapping at every inch of exposed skin she could find. “Take me,” she whispered between kisses. “I want you. I want you inside me. I want you to claim my cunt!”
Tolas pushed with all his might, prying himself from Amber’s grasping limbs and throwing her back onto the bed. He quickly back-pedalled several steps, bumping against the vanity, and tried to slow his breathing. Amber sat up rigidly, her hair tousled, and her eyes wild.
“Are you refusing me?” she said with husky breaths. She slid off the bed and stalked towards Tolas, staring him down, unblinking. He backed away slowly, hand grasping the hilt of his sword. By the oaths of the knighthood, Tolas would not dare use it against a foe who was unarmed, but the look in Amber’s eyes was unnerving, unnatural; every instinct was telling him that she was dangerous.
“Come on, dragon boy,” Amber crooned. “Don’t you want to claim the sweetest treasure of all?” She reached up and spread the top of her robe wide open, exposing her pert, round breasts, and deep pink nipples. Tolas couldn’t help but glance down at them as she drew closer, but out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of her reflection in the vanity, and any hint of arousal in his veins instead ran cold.
The Amber in the mirror had no eyes; two pools of inky black void swirled inside her head, spilling out and floating like an eldritch halo. Her skin was stretched taut across her skull, her bones threatening to pierce through. As Amber opened her mouth and licked her lips seductively, her reflection extended a long, prehensile tongue that dripped with black ichor.
“Touch me,” said Amber, teasing her nipples with her fingers.
Tolas reached down his collar with his free hand and fished out the holy symbol that hung around his neck, a gauntleted fist clutching a pair of scales, the icon of the Arbiter. He held it up to Amber’s face.
“Begone from my sight, dweller of darkness!” Tolas intoned a practiced prayer that he had spent many hours studying. “From this form, I cast you out! From this plane, I banish you! In the light of the Arbiter, I command you: Be gone!”
The holy symbol glowed in Tolas’ hand, and Amber stopped in her tracks. Her neck twitched, and her smile became fixed. In stark contrast, the corrupted reflection twisted back and forth on itself, writhing in discomfort.
“What’s wrong? Aren’t I pretty?” asked Amber. The scratch in her voice was made all the more disturbing by the fact that her lips and jaw did not move as she spoke.
“Begone from my sight!” Tolas repeated, stepping forward and presenting the holy symbol even closer to Amber. “By the Arbiter’s Law, I abjure you!” The reflection flinched hard, folding inwards and snarling even as Amber’s body remained stiff.
“You think you are strong enough, boy?” rasped a voice that was not Amber’s. “You’re just a novice, a neophyte, not even close to -”
“Begone!” shouted Tolas, pressing the holy symbol to Amber’s bare chest, right above her heart. Her jaw loosened as the flesh beneath the symbol sizzled and burned, and she let out a mournful scream, inches from Tolas’ face. He could see the aberrant monstrosity in the mirror dissipate in a swirl of shadows, leaving only Amber behind. Her legs gave way, and Tolas caught her; he lowered her gently to the ground. Amber looked up, unfocused.
“…I know you, don’t I?” she said.
“What?” It was the last question Tolas was expecting, and he wasn’t ready for it.
“I do…” murmured Amber. “You’re Tolas… that squire with the dragon blood…” She smiled shyly. “I always thought… you were cute…” Amber’s eyes fluttered closed, and she drifted off to sleep in Tolas’ arms.
Tolas sat stunned, trying to process the last few minutes. Amber had been a vessel for a dark power, something that affected her mind and behaviour. Was it her own doing, or was it because of her mother? What else was it capable of doing? And most importantly, what was it planning to do?
Tolas snapped out of his thoughts as the door of the bedchamber was thrown open, and the two guards from downstairs rushed into the room, no doubt drawn by the shouts and screams. It was at that moment that Tolas realized he was kneeling on the floor with the lady of the house in his arms, her breasts and sex completely exposed by her open robes.
“I can explain…” he began.
“Ten minutes,” said Sir Eglamore. “It took you ten minutes of bodyguard duty to get thrown into a cell.” The knight pinched the bridge of his nose. “I had just made it back to the courthouse too.”
“Sir Eglamore, this is all a giant misunderstanding,” said Tolas as the gaoler unlocked the iron gate that stood between him and his master. “Whatever you heard, it isn’t true!”
“I should hope not, because what I heard is that you abused your position as a squire of the Knighthood by forcing yourself upon Amber Moonward when you were alone together, before being caught by her estate guards!” Sir Eglamore motioned for Tolas to follow as he turned to leave.
“That wasn’t how it happened at all!” insisted Tolas, trotting alongside Sir Eglamore to keep up with the knight’s impatient strides. “She was the one who tried to force herself upon me!”
“Tolas, do you have any idea how that sounds?” said Sir Eglamore. “The word of a knight may speak only truth, but you are not a knight yet. A squire accusing a noblewoman of such a thing is not going to convince anyone, especially not…” He bit off the rest of his sentence, but Tolas understood what he meant all too well.
“Do you think so little of me, sir?” he asked, trying not to let his anger show. “After all the trouble you have endured, for taking me as a squire despite my heritage, now you believe your trust in me was misplaced?”
“Of course not!” said Sir Eglamore sharply. He sighed. “Tolas, I believe you, I do. You have proven yourself time and time again, and I have never regretted having you as a squire. But you know as well as I do how the prejudices of the nobility run deep; they will find some way to twist this against you, or even the Knighthood itself if they believe it can give them a political advantage. They would do it to any of us if they had a chance; your heritage only paints a larger target on your back.”
Tolas shook his head. “What about Amb- Lady Moonward? Is she alright?”
“The guards said she was unconscious when they dragged you off, which does not help your case either,” said Sir Eglamore. “Tell me what happened, leave no detail out.”
“Um…” Tolas hesitated. “No detail at all?”
Sir Eglamore raised an eyebrow. Tolas gulped. What followed was an incredibly awkward explanation of what happened in the tower, punctuated with many stuttered quotations as the knight and squire made their way back to the Moonward estate. By the time he was done, and they had entered the courtyard, Tolas’ bronzed skin was flushed, and his hands were nervously fiddling.
“Well,” coughed Sir Eglamore. “I can certainly see how the guards would have… misinterpreted the situation.”
“I tried to explain myself, but I suppose raving about an evil entity came across as a desperate lie,” said Tolas. “Have you ever heard of anything like this, Sir? Could it have something to do with Donna Moonward’s connection to this Dark Star?”
“Anything is possible,” mused Sir Eglamore. “Who knows what manner of heresy that woman could have brought upon her house with her ministrations?”
“Sir Eglamore!” called a voice. The two of them turned to see a messenger with the livery of the house running towards them.
“I was just about to come and find you, Sir,” he said. “The young Lady Moonward is awake.”
“I will see her immediately,” said Sir Eglamore.
“No, Sir,” said the messenger. “She is asking to see your squire.”
“This could be a trick of some kind,” said Sir Eglamore. “If there is any danger, call out, and I will come in to aid you.”
Tolas nodded and followed the guard once more into the bedroom of Amber Moonward. It was just as he had left it, albeit now with three men-at-arms standing around the chamber, all glaring at him suspiciously as he entered. Amber herself was in bed, her back propped up against the pillows and, thankfully for Tolas, demurely covered by her robe and bedsheets. She looked up as Tolas stepped inside, and her expression changed from contemplative to almost hopeful.
“Tolas,” she said. “Thank you for coming. My guards told me what they did to you; please accept my apologies.”
Tolas blinked. Amber’s mannerisms were a far cry from the uptight, aggressive young woman from before. Her voice even sounded softer, like it belonged to a completely different person.
“No need for apologies, my lady,” he said warily. “They were only acting in your best interests.”
“Perhaps,” Amber said. “But they wrongfully accused you of a misdemeanor, and that reflects poorly upon me.” Regret crept across her face. “As does my behaviour.” She turned to the other men in the room. “Leave us.”
The guards looked to one another, unsure of what to do. “My lady,” spoke one of them. “With all due respect, we were told not to -”
“Told by a knight, who is not a member of this household!” said Amber firmly. “Whatever orders he has given you, as the head of House Moonward, my orders supersede them! Leave us now!”
Slowly the guards turned and left the room, one by one. The last turned back and said, “We will be just outside, if there is any trouble,” before closing the door behind him.
Amber nodded in satisfaction, then adjusted herself to sit more upright and motioned to a chair near the bed. “Please, Tolas. Sit with me.”
Tolas took a few faltering steps forward, but his hesitation was clear, and Amber sighed. “I know that you don’t trust me after what I did, but I assure you, my mind is my own.”
Tolas was not fully assured, but he sat down, not taking his eyes off Amber. “So, you remember what happened, my lady?”
“Somewhat,” said Amber. “A lot of it is still in a haze, but I remember you. You came in while I was…” She blushed. “And I kissed… and I told you to…” Amber covered her reddened face in both hands. “By all the gods, I acted like such… such a…” She inhaled deeply through her nose, lowered her hands, and centered herself. “Whatever that was, it was not me,” Amber said, almost more to herself than Tolas. “There was something inside me, twisting my mind and heart.” She looked over at him. “And you saved me from it.”
Amber reached up for the edge of her robe; Tolas flinched as she drew it aside, but she only revealed the skin at her collarbone, marked by a distinctive red icon.
“Your holy symbol burned its shape into my flesh,” she explained. “The very scales of the Arbiter serve as evidence that you drove away whatever chose to hide within me. I cannot thank you enough, Tolas. Whatever you would have as recompense, if House Moonward can grant it, you have but to name it.”
Tolas waved his hand gently. “As a knight-aspirant, I can ask for no reward, my lady. Ensuring your safety was, and still is, my duty. And it is also my duty,” he added, “difficult as it may be, to ask you what you know of your mother and her… activities.”
“Activities?” said Amber. “What do you mean?”
“Lady Moonward, were you aware that the Knighthood arrested your mother last night?”
“Arrested?” gasped Amber. “On what charges?”
“She was holding clandestine meetings in the tunnels, leading a cult in a subversive mission against the gods and the empire,” said Tolas. “You were very defensive of her when I asked you before.”
Amber frowned. “Under any other circumstance, I would not think of my mother as anything less than a good person. She has always cared for me and has followed the laws of the crown and the church for as long as I can remember.
“But the more I think about it, the more suspicious it seems. My mother has kept many hours to herself recently, talking about how she is “researching” to find better ways to help people. She has disappeared every couple of weeks for “appointments” that she will not explain. And once or twice, I thought I heard her singing in her rooms, but I did not recognize the words or even the language.”
Tolas leaned forward in his seat. “My lady, what do you know about something called the “Dark Star?”
Amber gripped her bedsheets, her spine stiffened, and she shuddered in place with a gasp. “That…” she swallowed hard. “I don’t know why, but when you said that… I felt… It was like a chill and a flush at the same time, all through me!” She looked at Tolas, wide-eyed. “You have… really… stunning cheekbones…”
Tolas stood with a start. “My lady? What are you saying?”
Amber quivered. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what I’m saying…” She shook her head, trying to clear it, then peered at Tolas through her fingers. “Tolas, what are you doing?”
Tolas looked down and saw that he was gripping the hilt of his sword. “Forgive me, my lady,” he said, carefully releasing it. “It’s just, the last time you spoke like that -”
“- I almost forced myself on you,” Amber finished. “I remember now! Just before you came in and, ah, “interrupted” me, I was lying in bed, and I thought I heard a voice. It said something to me about a “Dark Star” and -” Amber gasped again, shuddering harder and doubling over. “Oh gods above, that feels… feels like…” She turned her eyes to Tolas again, and he could see a wicked gleam reflected in them.
“Tolas,” Amber whispered in a husky voice, “why are you still wearing clothes? You should take them off.” Amber crawled out of the bedsheets on all fours, her robe starting to spill open as she licked her lips hungrily.
“Not again,” Tolas muttered. He whipped out his holy symbol and held it aloft. At the sight of the icon, Amber drew back and clutched at her chest with a yelp of pain.
“T-Tolas?” she stammered. “The burn from your symbol, it hurts!” She looked down and saw her open robes. She yelped again and quickly covered herself. “What happened? What was I doing?”
Tolas looked down at the holy symbol. “I think… I think that any mention of the Dark… the object of worship that your mother’s cult follows triggers something inside you that makes you, um,” he trailed off.
“Act like a harlot?” Amber supplied.
“To put it bluntly, yes,” said Tolas. “But my holy symbol seems to be able to keep it at bay, possibly because of how it marked you earlier.”
“But why?” asked Amber. “Is this a curse? And why me?”
“I don’t know,” said Tolas. “But for now, we can at least try to keep it suppressed until we figure it out.” He reached up and unlatched the chain that held the icon. “With your permission, my lady?”
Amber nodded and pulled aside her hair, allowing Tolas to fasten the chain around her neck. “That should help hold at bay whatever it is we’re dealing with.”
“How can you be sure?” said Amber. “We should test it.” Before Tolas could stop her, she uttered: “Dark Star!”
The holy symbol glowed from its position at Amber’s bosom, and she hissed. “Ah! That was… less than pleasant!”
“Are you alright?” asked Tolas.
“Yes, but I think for the sake of not torturing me, we should still refrain from referring to you-know-what,” said Amber through gritted teeth. “That stings!”
“It will have to do for now,” said Tolas. “Our next step is to determine what is causing this.”
“I have an idea where to start,” said Amber. “All that time that my mother was researching, she was always calling for more parchment and ink. She must have been taking extensive notes; there might be something in there that could help?”
“Absolutely,” Tolas agreed. “If I may, my lady, I have a friend who specialises in studying the mystic arts. Would you object if I asked her to aid you in this?”
“If you trust her, then by all means,” said Amber. “But what about you?”
“I’m going straight to the source,” said Tolas. “I’m going to talk to your mother.”
“You do understand how many feet I have had to tread on to allow this, Tolas?”
“I know that it is irregular, Sir Eglamore, but I truly believe this will be in Amber Moonward’s best interests, and she thanks you for it too.”
The knight grunted and followed his squire through the corridors of the prison beneath the Grand Courthouse. As far as prisons were concerned, the cells were relatively comfortable and well-kept; although not exactly a luxury inn, the prison was kept clean and dry, with little to no vermin scurrying about the floor.
Such it was that when Tolas and Sir Eglamore entered Lady Donna Moonward’s cell, the noblewoman sat poised upon her bench and managed to project some sense of dignity. Even in the simple, rough-spun attire of a prisoner, she maintained a look of superiority and disdain for her visitors.
“Sir Eglamore, a pleasure to see you,” said Lady Moonward, not bothering to conceal in her tone just how little of a pleasure it was. “And of course your… mongrel as well.” Her eyes were flinty with hatred as she cast them over Tolas; he bit his tongue to prevent an angry retort from slipping out.
“Take care how you speak,” said Sir Eglamore. “My squire would have words with you regarding your daughter; you will tell him what he wishes to know.”
“I have nothing to say to the half-blood,” sniffed Lady Moonward, pointedly avoiding eye contact. “And my daughter is no concern of his.”
“She is when I have to guard her,” said Tolas.
Lady Moonward’s face flickered with irritation. “You would put Amber in the care of a mutt, Eglamore? I would have thought that the Knighthood would show more courtesy to my only daughter and at least assigned a real knight to protect her.”
“You lead a cult that preaches equality in all things,” said Tolas. “Where is your so-called “tolerance?”
Lady Moonward scoffed. “Naïve boy, I do not lead the cult! I only formed the chapter here in the city for my purposes.”
“What? What are you saying?” asked Tolas.
Lady Moonward turned up her nose and looked away. Sir Eglamore stepped forward.
“Answer his questions, prisoner,” he said. “There is no point in hiding the truth; your crimes will be revealed to the city in the light of the Arbiter come tomorrow. Any attempt to withhold information now is simply petty and beneath you.”
Lady Moonward sniffed again. “Fine. It is quite simple. All across the empire, the wretched and the impure are flocking to the Dark Star; I merely saw it as a way to gather them all in one place.
“By installing myself as a chapter leader of the cult, I assembled all the subversive lower-classes and half-breeds I could find. They think they are anonymous, but by the time they left their first meeting, I would know who they were. It would then be a simple matter to hunt them down.”
“Hunt them down?” said Tolas, and realization struck him. “The disappearances, they weren’t just because people were running away to join the cult. You were having them killed, and using the cult as a means to find targets!”
“You should be thanking me,” said Lady Moonward. “I was weeding out those who would upset the balance of society. Every one of those mongrels I had put down was one less rebel joining the cause of the real cult.”
“They were only joining because of the lies you helped spread!” shouted Tolas. “You tricked them into following a path against the law, and then killed them for trusting you!”
“If it had not been me, it would have been a real cult leader,” said Lady Moonward calmly. “Their numbers are growing by the day. If you think the meager congregation I put together was bad, you have no concept of how deep the actual conspiracy runs.”
“How do you know all this if you aren’t a part of the cult?”
“I had to make sure that the wretches would believe me,” the noblewoman explained. “I performed extensive research on the Dark Star and its followers, practicing prayers and rituals, ensuring that my facade would be perfect. If I had not, anyone with ties to the real cult might have exposed me.”
“Was putting your daughter under a curse a part of that facade as well?”
For the first time, Donna Moonward’s veneer of confidence slipped. “What?”
“Whatever rituals you were performing, you brought a befoulment down on Amber!” said Tolas. “Something possessed her, and now the very mention of the Dark Star causes her to lose control of her body and senses!”
“No, that should not have happened!” Lady Moonward grew more consternated. “I never brought Amber into any of this, there is no way that I would have…” her voice trailed off as she sat, head in her hands. “What have I done?”
“You summoned something, a fiend that took possession of Amber,” said Tolas, unable to tell what it was about Donna Moonward that made him angrier, her prejudices, or her negligence. “What was it? How do we stop it?”
“I did not summon anything!” came the reply. “I never went that far; I never intended to bring anything that dangerous upon myself, or on Amber!”
“If you have no information about this, then we’re wasting time here,” said Tolas, turning back to the door of the cell. “Thank you, Sir Eglamore. I should return to the Moonward estate.”
“No! Stay away from my daughter, you abomination!” screeched Donna Moonward suddenly. “Let me out of this cell! I need to find a way to save her!”
Sir Eglamore stopped her advance with a raised hand. “You have done more than enough, prisoner,” he said. “We shall do all we can to help your daughter, but we will not risk the lives of our citizens with a murderer like you attempting to escape our custody.”
“And instead, you risk her life in the company of that thing you call a squire? I was performing a service for this city! You should be calling me a hero!”
Tolas clenched his fists but resisted the urge to swing them at Donna Moonward’s face. “You’re no hero,” he said in a low voice. “You can try to justify your actions all you want, but after all is said and done, you’re just a hateful old woman who will answer for her crimes. In the meantime, I’m the one who is going to make sure that your daughter doesn’t answer for them too.”
As Sir Eglamore locked the cell behind them, Tolas could still hear Donna Moonward’s screams of rage and her fists beating on the wooden door. Sir Eglamore put a hand on Tolas’ shoulder and could feel him quivering with suppressed fury.
“You did very well not to lose your temper,” he said.
“If we didn’t need her to talk, I would have wanted to gag her mouth,” said Tolas.
“I will confess, I was on the verge of gagging her myself,” admitted Sir Eglamore. “No-one should be spoken about like that, least of all my squire.”
The way he said, “my squire,” made Tolas feel proud. “Thank you, Sir.”
Sir Eglamore nodded. “Still, I must bring her words to the attention of the Knight-Commander. If what she is saying about the cult of the Dark Star is true, then we must send word to the garrisons and start rooting out the other chapters. And as for you,” he added, “you have duties to perform. I trust you will do so to the standards of the Knighthood.”
“As you say, Sir,” said Tolas. “I’ll find a way to help her whatever it takes.”
Tolas returned to the Moonward estate to find Amber outside her mother’s study, her arms folded, and her expression disgruntled, though her face softened somewhat when Tolas arrived.
“You’re back! Thank the gods,” she said.
“Why are you standing out here, my lady?” Tolas asked.
“Your cleric friend won’t let me back in the room!” grumbled Amber. “It seems that she cannot concentrate with me around!”
That did not sound like Ilga to Tolas. He entered the study to see Ilga at Lady Moonward’s desk, piles of books on the floor with notes and scrolls scattered everywhere. She looked up at the sound of the door opening.
“Ah, you’re back! About time!” Ilga said. “I think I may be onto something here.” She shuffled a few pages together and flipped through them excitedly. “I’ve been cross-referencing these notes with the books that Donna Moonward was using, and I might know what -”
“Ilga, why did you make Amber wait outside?” Tolas asked.
“You can’t even take a second to appreciate what I’ve found? Typical,” sighed Ilga.
“It could be dangerous to leave her alone like that,” said Tolas. “What if something happened to her while you were busy?”
“Oh please, she’s got guards all over this estate, she was fine. It’s more dangerous for her in here, anyway.” Ilga gestured to the pile of notes. “She only had to glance at some of these texts, and your holy symbol started burning her. I know she wanted to help, but hurting herself like that wasn’t worth it.”
“I could have handled it!” Amber called from the doorway.
“Me having to heal you every five minutes doesn’t count as “handling it!” Ilga called back, prompting more wordless grumbles from Amber. Ilga leaned closer to Tolas and grinned. “I like her; she’s stubborn in a fun way!”
Tolas rubbed his temples irritably. “You said you had found something?”
“Yes!” Ilga snatched up the pages again and presented them to Tolas, who began to peruse them. There were all sorts of glyphs and symbols, most of which he didn’t recognize, and descriptions of rituals of praise and supplication.
“From what I can tell, the you-know-what is an entity from beyond the known universe,” said Ilga. “It exists in a place where things shouldn’t exist, and it tries to gain any foothold it can in the planes of reality.”
“In her sermon, Lady Moonward said that it would consume everything,” said Tolas. “She said that it didn’t discriminate, that not even the gods could withstand its power.”
“I don’t know about that, but I can see how one might believe it,” said Ilga. “It would consume everything because it can’t exist in the same place as everything else. When reality interacts with something from beyond reality, that reality becomes warped.”
“Changed, different,” Ilga said. “Whatever is touched by something from the “Beyond” tries to conform to both reality and non-reality at the same time. The result is something unstable and twisted.”
“And you think something from the Beyond has possessed Amber?” asked Tolas.
“It’s less of a “possession” and more of a “corruption.” The you-know-what isn’t the only thing that resides in the Beyond; Lady Moonward’s rituals wouldn’t be enough to set it free, but a minor entity associated with it must have managed to slip through without her noticing. Amber was unlucky enough for it to target her; whatever it was that escaped the Beyond is warping her, and the process is making her mentally unstable.”
“So, what can we do?”
“Well, so far, it seems that your holy symbol can keep it suppressed, which means that it responds to our magic like any other entity from another plane. While it’s in our reality, it has to conform to our rules at least somewhat,” said Ilga, pacing back and forth. “Following that logic, we should be able to use a standard banishment spell to get rid of it; I could perform that with the materials in my pack right now. However,” she said as she stopped pacing, “there is a catch.”
“What kind of catch?” said Tolas.
“Because it isn’t truly possessing Amber, it can’t just be exorcised out of her. She’s a tether rather than a vessel, which means the entity can only “exist” while it’s connected to her.”
“What does that mean?” asked Amber, poking her head around the door.
“Putting it simply: it’s not “real” enough to banish while suppressed,” explained Ilga. “If we want to get rid of it, we need it to manifest properly, to give the banishment something to target. And to have it do that, we have to give it what it wants.”
“Which is what, exactly?” Tolas received no answer but became acutely aware of Ilga and Amber looking at him, the latter blushing while the former raised her eyebrows pointedly.
Comprehension dawned. “Are you serious?”
“Are you telling me you didn’t notice her throwing herself at you every chance she got under that thing’s influence?” said Ilga.
“But why me? What does that mean?” Tolas suddenly felt very self-conscious.
“My best guess, the entity latched on to a subliminal desire inside Amber’s mind. With how it’s warping her, that desire has become its primary motivation on this plane.” Ilga folded her arms and gave Tolas a bemused look. “It means she has the hots for you, dumb-ass!”
“Ilga!” said Tolas with a start.
“There’s n-no need to put it so bluntly!” squeaked Amber.
Tolas turned to her. “So, it’s true, my lady?”
“I-I-I mean,” Amber stammered. “I mean, I had heard my mother talking about Sir Eglamore’s squire, a-and then I saw you a few times at meetings of the nobility, and, and you…” she looked at her toes. “… you intrigued me.”
“It was just a crush!” said Amber quickly. “I knew nothing would come of it. I mean, you wouldn’t even be eligible for marriage until you became knighted, and I was too young at the time anyway…”
“But you’re of age now!” chimed in Ilga. “Which is fortunate, because we aren’t going to get rid of that entity tethered to your brain until you and Tolas get on with it.” She shouldered her pack and grabbed the research notes off the desk. “Which bedroom can I use to draw a binding circle on the floor?”
“Ilga, would you just slow down for a moment?” said Tolas. “We barely know each other, and you’re asking us to…”
“Indeed!” said Amber. “I am the heir to my house; I cannot just lay with anyone I please!”
“Of course you can, nobles do it all the time,” said Ilga. “Besides, if you don’t, your mind will continue to warp under that thing’s influence; I doubt Tolas’ holy symbol will hold it off forever.” She swept past the two of them and out the door. “Better find a decent bedroom; I have to draw this circle quite large. Maybe the dining hall would be better…”
Amber and Tolas could only stand and look at each other.
“Tolas, are you alright?”
“I… I am -”
“You do not have to be scared, you know.”
“I understand, my lady, I just -”
“I think, given the circumstances, you can just call me Amber.”
“A-As you wish, Amber.”
“Then, shall we proceed?”
“Very well; I just need a moment to -”
“Oh gods above,” groaned Ilga from the corner of the room. “Do either of you have any sense of romance at all? Read a book once in a while!”
“You’re not making this any easier, you know!” retorted Tolas. He and Amber sat on a large bed in the master bedroom, a magnificent four-poster piece large enough to accommodate several people but normally reserved for Lady Donna Moonward alone. On the floor around the bed was a detailed chalk circle with glyphs of abjuration and protection inscribed between the crisscrossing patterns within. Ilga stood at the edge of the circle, having checked the details one last time, and was now rolling her eyes at the two young people sitting awkwardly across from each other.
“I get it, experiencing your first time with someone watching is less than ideal, but you need me here to cast the spell at the right time,” said Ilga. “Besides, I’ve volunteered in a healing house; neither of you has anything that I haven’t seen before.”
Amber fidgeted with the collar of her robe. “I’m ready,” she said. “It has to be done; I want to get this thing out of me.”
“By putting something else into you,” said Ilga with a grin.
“Again, not helping!” cried Tolas.
“L-let’s just start simple, shall we?” said Amber, taking Tolas’ hand. “Just a kiss, at first; that’s easy enough, right?”
“Right, right.” Tolas adjusted himself to face Amber directly and nervously leaned forward. For the second time that day, Amber’s lips met his, this time gently. The difference made by her lack of aggressiveness was astounding; Tolas could savour the tenderness, feel the soft touch against him, with the just the hint of repressed longing for more.
He pressed forward, giving just a little more of himself to her; Amber responded by parting her lips and letting her tongue slip out. Tolas mimicked her, their tongues brushing against each other, gingerly testing their boundaries before sliding back as the kiss parted.
“That was…” Tolas struggled to find words.
“Yes, it was,” said Amber, slightly breathless.
Ilga covered her face with a palm and did her best not to groan again. “Virgins,” she muttered. Louder, she said, “Good start, keep it going!”
Amber was the first to lean in this time, eagerly accepting Tolas’ kiss and cupping his face in her hands. Instinctively, his arms slipped around Amber and pulled her in close; Tolas could feel her breasts pressing against his chest, her heart racing next to his. The kiss was longer, deeper, and by the time it was over, they were both gasping for air.
“I think we should take our clothes off,” whispered Tolas.
“Yes!” Amber whispered back, her hands flying to his belt and fumbling with the buckle. She cast the belt aside and sat back, watching as Tolas pulled his tunic up over his head.
Amber’s eyes drank in the view of his bronze-tinted skin, gleaming over fit musculature, toned from years of riding and sword training. Her gaze was drawn to his sides and shoulders, where the smooth outline of his body broke into a rough, raised pattern of golden-brown scales that spread around from his back and trailed off across his torso and biceps.
“You really do have scales,” Amber said, entranced.
“Are they, I mean…” Tolas was feeling self-conscious again.
Amber ran a finger along the ridged lattice that trailed down Tolas’ arm. “I think they’re beautiful,” she said. With her other hand, she unfastened the ties on her robe.
The elegant clothing slid from her shoulders; underneath, Amber was completely naked save for Tolas’ holy symbol, nestled between the curve of her breasts. Her pale skin was smooth and flawless, save for the red burn at her collarbone where the symbol had marked her. Now in full view, Tolas could see that her sex was neatly trimmed, proper like the rest of her. The slender shape of Amber’s body and her demure expression sent a rush of desire through Tolas, swirling in his heart before diving directly to his loins. With so much happening throughout the day, Tolas had not taken a moment to appreciate just how beautiful Amber Moonward was.
“You look…” His voice caught as he gazed upon her. “You look amazing.”
Amber smiled and blushed; the cute shyness in the way she averted her eyes only added to the growing flame in Tolas’ lower regions.
Amber looked down. “I can tell that you mean it,” she said, pointing.
The bulge in Tolas’ breeches was plain to see; he instinctively moved to cover it with his hands, but Amber stopped him, gently cupping him though his pants and sending an electric tingle up his spine.
“No point in hiding it,” she said. “This is what we’re here for.” Amber’s fingers curled around the hem of the breeches, and she carefully pulled them down, allowing Tolas’ manhood to spring free. It was darker in color, closer to his scales, with ridges running down the length from the large, slightly tapered head. A smattering of smaller scales encircled the base instead of hair, extending onto his scrotum.
Amber licked her lips, her hands shaking as she took Tolas’ cock in her hands; it was long and thick enough to almost fill both of them. “You seem ready,” she said, trying to keep the nervous waver out of her voice.
“My la – Amber,” Tolas said, his voice wavering as well. “I’ve never…”
“Me neither,” Amber replied. She slid her hand down and felt the wetness between her thighs. “But, I think I’m ready too.” She shifted her weight and lay down on her back, spreading her legs.
Tolas gulped and looked over at Ilga. “Should we take off the symbol?”
“Not yet,” said Ilga. “When the entity takes over, it’s not going to hold back; it might end up hurting both of you. Take it slow; once you two are used to each other, we can begin the spell.”
Tolas nodded and turned back to Amber. She was running a finger across her clit in slow circles, breathing deeply and looking at him with anticipation. Tolas shuffled forward on his knees and positioned the head of his cock at her wet lips.
“Take it slow,” he told himself, under his breath. Lining himself up using one hand, Tolas guided his cock towards Amber. The tightness of her sex refused him entry for the first few attempts, and Amber could see him growing visibly frustrated.
“It’s alright,” she whispered. “It’s alright, I just need to…” She took his cock in her hand and repositioned him, taking a few more deep breaths to allow herself to relax. Slowly and gently, Amber took Tolas inside her. As his head popped through her lips, Amber bit her lip to stop herself from crying out, with only a whimper able to escape.
“It’s alright,” she gasped. “You’re just… a lot bigger than I thought.” She raised her legs further, holding them in place with her hands. “You can… go deeper, if you want.”
Tolas leaned forward, placing his hands on either side of Amber, and began to press further into her. With each inch that entered, he stopped and pulled back slightly; the ridges on his cock caused her to quiver. It felt like a long time, but Amber was so wet that his cock was soon buried inside her up to the base. As Tolas bottomed out, Amber gasped again and wrapped her arms around him, clutching at the scales on his back.
“So full…” she hissed into Tolas’ ear. “So full, so full, so full…”
It took all of Tolas’s concentration not to finish on the spot. He had never felt the kind of warmth that Amber’s pussy was giving to him, and he wanted to savoir it even though he was meant to be doing this out of necessity. Steeling himself by gripping the bedsheets tight, he raised his head enough to look into Amber’s eyes.
“Amber, I’m going to start moving.”
“Do it,” she said. “Make love to me, Tolas.”
Something in Amber’s words made Tolas act on impulse; he kissed her again, deep and sensually as his hips began to thrust. Amber moaned into his mouth with each motion, holding him tight and wrapping her legs around his waist. Her grip grew tighter as Tolas picked up his pace; Amber could feel his balls slapping against her buttocks. Tolas was lost in the sensation, his body moving of its own accord.
In the back of his mind, Tolas could hear someone calling his name. That didn’t make sense, Amber was kissing him, she couldn’t be the one –
“Tolas! She’s ready!” shouted Ilga. “Take off the symbol before you finish!”
Tolas snapped out of his daze and broke off the kiss with Amber, gasping for air. He sat up, his cock still inside her, taking a brief second to observe the beautiful young woman writhing in pleasure beneath him. Then he reached down, ripped the holy symbol from her neck, and uttered the words: “Dark Star!”
The effect was immediate. Amber’s gaze fixed on Tolas’ face, her pupils dilating until her eyes appeared black, and her mouth spread into a sinister, far-too-wide smile.
“Hi, dragon boy,” she said, her voice lusty and rasping. Her knees clamped down on Tolas’ sides like a vice, and with unnatural strength, Amber rolled herself up on top of Tolas and held down his wrists, pinning him to the bed.
“Are you ready for me to fuck those sexy scales right off your balls?” Amber started to rock her hips back and forth; she quickly picked up speed, moving from a rocking motion into a rotating one that caused Tolas’ cock to swirl around inside her, running across the walls of her pussy.
“Yesssss.” Amber’s voice sounded more like a reverberating growl in her throat. “I’ve been waiting to fill my cunt with dragon dick all day!” Her breasts bounced up and down inches from Tolas’ face; he screwed his eyes up tight and tried to focus on holding out until the spell was cast. He could hear Ilga chanting across the room; Amber seemed too lost in their copulation to notice.
Suddenly, Tolas felt the bed start to shake under his back. He opened his eyes and saw a radiant light glowing from the binding circle on the floor, surrounding him and Amber. She was still riding him, the sound of their hips slapping together came hard and fast. As the glow intensified, Amber looked up and suddenly realised what was happening. She let out a shriek of alarm and tried to pull away, but the moment she let go of Tolas’ wrists, he grabbed hers in turn and thrust his hips up as far as he could; her knees lifted off the bed, leaving Amber impaled and helpless on Tolas’ cock as she struggled to break free.
Ilga’s chanting became louder and more intense, and Amber squirmed with increasing desperation. Her eyes wild, and her cries frantic, Amber’s body began to change. Thick mud seeped from every pore, steaming and burning against Tolas’ skin. The mud burst into multicolored flames, setting the draperies of the bed on fire. Amber’s neck twisted and jerked, a stream of incomprehensible words spilling from her mouth; the sound of the alien language physically hurt Tolas’ ears. But through it all, he held her in place.
With one last shout, Ilga finished the abjuration, and Amber let out an unholy scream. There was a burst of bright illumination as the spell took effect, and when it faded, the flames were extinguished, the mud dissipated, and Amber’s features were back to normal. She wobbled unsteadily on Tolas’ cock, then passed out and fell backwards onto the bed. The movement of her body caused Tolas’ to slip out of her, but the feeling along the ridges of his cock sent one final shiver through him that pushed him over the edge. Several large spurts of cum shot out of him and coated Amber’s unconscious twitching body; utterly spent, Tolas fell back as well and also passed out.
Ilga caught her breath and surveyed the room; the bed and curtains were singed, the binding circle had burst and scattered, and nearly everything else had been overturned by the expulsion of magic, all surrounding the two young sleeping figures in the center of the room.
“Well, that happened.”
“You seem quiet, lad. Is there something on your mind?”
Tolas blinked, realising that he had been staring into space. “Forgive me, Sir Eglamore. I was just… thinking.”
“You have been “thinking” a lot these past few days,” said Sir Eglamore. The two of them stood alongside several other knights, some of them also with their squires, along the central hall of the Moonward estate. “Ever since Donna Moonward’s trial, it has been uncommon to hear any more than a few words from you at a time.”
“I just felt… awkward about coming back here,” said Tolas. “Amber, that is, Lady Moonward has been avoiding me since the trial; I think she might blame me for her mother’s fate.”
“I can see how you, and how she might think that,” said Sir Eglamore. “But you are not responsible for her mother’s actions; you were also the one to prove that Lady Moonward was not complicit in her mother’s schemes either. You never did tell me about how you were able to free her from the curse upon her,” he added.
Tolas blushed. “No, Lady Moonward was very insistent that Ilga and I never speak of it.”
“Of course.” Sir Eglamore patted Tolas’ shoulder. “Perhaps you will have a chance to speak to her after the ceremony today?”
“Maybe, if she even wishes to see me.”
A short time later, the hall was filled with people, and Lady Amber Moonward was officially recognized as the new head of her House, with the nobility and Knighthood in attendance to bear witness. Gifts were presented, well-wishes were given, and all the while, Tolas stood at attention while Amber very pointedly did not make eye contact with him.
Towards the end of the gathering, the newly elevated Lady Moonward called for a speech. All eyes turned to her as she stood upon the dais at the head of the hall.
“Lords and ladies, gathered friends,” Amber announced. “This has been a trying time for my House and I. A terrible dispersion has been cast upon us; the actions of my mother these past few months have sullied the name of Moonward, perhaps irrevocably, in the eyes of the people.
“But I swear to you, here and now, that I will do all I can to bring my family name back from the brink of desolation! I will forge a new path, one that will once again cast House Moonward as a beacon of integrity, honor, and faith!”
There was a round of applause and several cheers; Amber waved her hand for silence. “In the interest of this endeavor, I wish to forge a stronger bond with the Knighthood of Justice, the servants of the Arbiter that were instrumental in weeding out the corruption in my family, and saving my life from the consequences of our mistakes. I have spoken with the Knight-Commander, and requested a personal guard of one of his subordinates to act indefinitely as my bodyguard and liaison to the Grand Courthouse.”
Tolas’ heart began to race as Amber continued. “However, as the individual that I have selected for this task is not yet a knight, I have negotiated an agreement with the Knight-Commander. For his part in freeing me from dark powers beyond the realm of mortal comprehension, I have formally submitted House Moonward’s endorsement to grant a full knighthood to the squire of Sir Eglamore, Tolas!”
Amber looked directly into Tolas’ eyes, holding out a hand and beckoning him to step forward. Tolas stood stock still for a moment before a nudge from Sir Eglamore got his feet moving. Walking through the crowd, he could vaguely hear the sound of polite applause and more than a little feverish whispering, but everything around him seemed to be in a haze. Stepping up on to the dais, he moved to kneel in front of Amber, but she took his hand and pulled him to his feet to stand beside her.
“I think I may have caused a bit of a stir with this,” she said quietly. “But I think it will be worth it to have you around. Sorry, I didn’t tell you earlier, I wanted it to be a surprise.”
Tolas found his voice. “It certainly was, my lady.”
Amber pouted. “I told you that you can call me “Amber,” all things considered. But I suppose since we are in public at the moment, we should stick to formalities.” She leaned in closer and whispered into his ear. “Although if you were to call me “my lady” in private as well, that could be rather… stimulating.”
Tolas’ eyes widened, and he gulped. It seemed his new position was going to come with more duties, and benefits than he thought.