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Introduction:

Basically the same thing as last time. If you've read this story before, just skip to the end to read the excerpts. If not, hope you enjoy!
Chapter Three: The Earth Former

ASTRID

The Gratoran Wall was nothing but a blue haze against the sterile desert sky, its amorphous outline split violently by Droktin’s Pass, whose geometric strangeness dwindled to a murky sliver with each agonizing minute. I watched as the tallest peak of the range, Iona, my homeland, faded into the azure blandness with the rest of the mountains until it disappeared completely in the sweltering air. The wheels of the slave cart squeaked, and the metal bars singed my skin. My wings ached behind me, bound together roughly by the orc’s vicious knot. A nymph girl sat in the spot across from me, her eyes downcast, her ram-like horns dusted with the debris of the churning wheels. Her face was girlish, with full cheeks, a soft chin, and big forest-green eyes. Her skin was caramel, I thought, though it was hard to tell with all the sand that covered it. If her skin was caramel, it meant she was a young nymph; the older ones didn’t age with sagging flesh, but with a lightening off their complexion until it was a green hue, and a darkening of their hair until it was turquoise. As far as I could tell, her hair was a dirty-blonde, but once again, that damned sand covered everything in its brownish coat. The nymph was draped in what looked like a burlap sack, though it could have once been a cloak. Her hands were bound to her ankles, and she appeared to be staring at nothing at all. I pitied the girl; she wasn’t made of the hard stuff I was. I am a valkyrie, a winged-warrior of the mountain, the pride of the snow and cold, the sword of the highlands, and… and… and a captive to three fat orcs. Great Creators, I’m an embarrassment.

“Hey,” I said to the girl, “how come you’re so far from the Arbortus Forest?”

She didn’t answer.

“That’s what; three-hundred miles east of the wall?” I asked. “Doesn’t your kind always stay in the trees?”

No response. I sighed, and leaned back into the bars, trying to acclimate my skin to the searing temperature. This is what I get for going on a foolish quest looking for impossible answers. They’ll rape me tonight; me and that girl, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them. My chastity, my pride, and my honor will be stripped of me, and then they’ll clip my flight feathers, and sell me off to some orc-lord. Maybe I can kill myself before that happens. Is there any hanging rope in here? I searched around the cart, seeing not a single slicing edge, nor a loose spike to slit my wrists with. I contemplated smashing my head against the bars, but realized that would just leave me unconscious. I resigned myself to at least another hour of rest before I contemplated suicide again, and tried to stare vacantly like the nymph girl.

A black rock popped out of the sand, inches from the cart. It just… jumped right out of the ground like a breaching trout in a stream. I shook my head, unsure if the desert was causing mirages, or if I was losing my mind. Another one popped out, this one a bit bigger. I blinked, thinking I must be going insane, but then a third rock surfaced right in front of the left wheel. The cart jerked, reassuring me of my sanity, but the orcs seemed to take no notice, and we kept rolling.

“What in Creation….” I whispered, looking between the bars. “Hey, did you see that?”

The nymph girl just kept staring at the floor. Her green eyes weren’t vacant anymore, but seemingly fixed in concentration. There was a vein protruding from her forehead, and her hands were shaking.

“Hey,” I asked, “hey, what’s wrong?”

“Too much sand,” the woman finally said through gritted teeth, “too much fucking sand!”

A blood vessel burst in her eye, the vein in her forehead throbbed, and her body trembled with the strain of something, as though she were trying to lift an impossible weight. What in Creation is wrong with her?! I thought to myself, cringing back as spittle shot from her clenched teeth, Is she rabid? Should I ask a guard for help? Another blood vessel burst in her eye, the vein in her forehead seemed to beat with its own pulse, her face was growing purple, her entire body was wracking with spasms; and then, she stopped. She looked up at me, and the biggest, shit-eating grin I’ve ever seen in my entire life appeared on her face.

The cart shot into the air, lifted by a slab of obsidian twenty-feet by twenty-feet, perfectly square. The slavers screamed in terror, and I screamed with them, but the girl just laughed manically. Then, we stopped, and began to tilt. The slab slowly eased on its side, sliding everything but the cart into the black vacancy it left in the sand. An orc screamed as he fell, and then was sucked into the loose gravel, his upraised hand trailing his body before disappearing. The other two orcs clawed at the glossy onyx surface, but their fingers found no purchase, and they too fell into the quicksand below. The rock tilted ever further until my binds wrenched against my wrist when my weight caught on the bars. The cart was stuck to the side of the slab, facing directly downward. The cubic rock rested on the hole it had left, sealing the orcs beneath the sand, and then the cart was slowly ushered down its side. I looked out of the cage door in horrified fascination as I saw the rock deforming from its glossy surface and gripping the cart’s wheels in toothy gears that rolled us downward on obsidian tracks before we finally stopped with the cart’s front resting in the sand.

“Holy shit!” the nymph girl laughed. “I’ve never done anything like that before. Did you see that? I didn’t even have to touch the stone!”

I gawked at her. Sitting before me, was the answer I had sought. The quest I’d pledged my life to, the holy crusade I’d embarked on, the epic voyage of a lifetime, fraught with peril, burdened with strife, an odyssey the likes of which bards would sing of for generations, had taken me a grand total of one day and three hours to complete. This had to be a new record.

“Good thing the bedrock was shallow here,” the god said, “or we’d have been good and fucked. Fucking sand, man; can’t do shit with it.”

“Your holiness,” I whispered, bowing my head, “great Earth Former, goddess of mountains and rock; I am not worthy. As a winged-warrior of Iona, it is my sworn-duty to serve you. I have oaths I must—"

“Ah shit,” the young woman groaned. “You’re a Creationist?”

“Um…” I said, still bowing my head, “…yes.”

“Valkyrie, huh?” the woman said, studying me. “I thought you people worshipped men with magic hammers and horned helmets.”

“No, your holiness,” I said, still prostrating myself. “We are sworn devotees and protectors of the Devine Trinity. Our patron god is the Earth Former—or matron god, in your case, and—"

“What’s your name?” she interrupted again.

“Astrid Skyborne,” I responded.

“Well, Astrid,” the girl said, making a sharp piece of the obsidian slab curl from its geometric form, and reach into the cart to cut her binds free, “you’re going to pretend you didn’t see me, then you’re going to fly off back to your mountain and never tell a soul. Your god commands it.”

The rejection stung me to the core, and it took all the resolve within me not to burst into tears. Of course she doesn’t want you! I thought, She’d be a fool to take a protector who was captured so easily.

The goddess cut my binds, and awkwardly pushed up on my chest as my legs swung below me until my feet landed on the front door of the cage. She turned away, and a hand of black rock reached into the cart, and ripped the bars from the studs. She stepped out onto the sand, and I followed behind her, keeping my head bowed in reverence even though I stood a good foot taller than her. The nymph looked in one direction, then the other, and saw nothing but sand for miles and miles. She put her hands on her hips and let out a sigh. I dared to feel a flicker of hope.

“On second thought, Astrid,” the young god said. “I think I might need you.”

WILLOWBUD

Astrid was six-feet of nordic perfection. Her statuesque frame was encased in tight-fitting leather armor that expanded at the immense protrusion of her bust, narrowed through the flat stretch of her abdomen, widened at her hips, cupped tightly to the supple form of her ass, and then narrowed into legs that went on forever. Her limbs were thick and muscled, her skin was golden, her hair was a cold-blonde braided intricately about her crown, and her eyes were steely blue. Her face was structured with high cheekbones, a cut jawline, a subtly-pronounced brow, and a pointed nose whose bridge drew seamlessly into her forehead. Her stoic portrait was decorated with lush frowning lips, a thin scar that lined a taut cheek, and piercing eyes that seemed to stare with constant defiance from their shadowed sockets. And she thought I was the goddess! I knew I was pretty, I’m not an idiot, but this woman… this woman looked like a fucking marble statue. Like, this is the kind of broad you’d see carved into the bow of a warship. I felt like a violin solo should be constantly following this woman. Oh, and I forgot to mention, she had a set of fucking angel wings that spanned seven feet in either direction.

“What would you have of me, Your Holiness?” she asked, her annoying devotion brimming from her face.

“Well, first thing,” I said, “is to call me by my name, Willowbud.”

I held out a hand, and she looked at it for a moment, then got to one knee, bowed her head, and kissed my knuckle as though there was a ring there. I rolled my eyes.

“Shake it, Astrid,” I groaned, “it’s not your mother’s cunt.”

Astrid started in shock, and I grinned internally. I had spent my childhood aboard vessels with the foulest of sailors, in bars with dock workers and gangsters, in brothels with whores, and the past year jumping from caravan to caravan. Needless to say, my vernacular was quite extensive.

Astrid stood up, the sting of my words and the awe of my ‘divinity’ stretched across her beautiful face. She shook my hand like a woman should, and I firmly shook hers back.

“Good,” I said, pulling my hand from her grasp and looking over the horizon. “I need to get to the Tentigo Tropics, do you know where that is?”

“Two day’s flight southeast from Iona,” she replied, pointing to the highest peak of the mountain range. “Though I think I should take us there first, my people would—"

“We can take supplies from that cart,” I interrupted, walking past her and sifting through the wreckage. “I don’t need any more worshipers, thank you very much.”

I pulled out the orc’s provisions, and a length of rope that had been tied to the back of the cart. Astrid came next to me and searched through the supplies until she found what she was looking for. A six-foot long, two-handed sword decorated with rubies on the cross-guard and engraved with intricate designs about the hilt. The blade itself had been bent in half under the weight of the obsidian cube. She held the weapon with as much annoying reverence as she had given me, and then she bit back tears, and dropped it to the ground. Ah, shit, I thought as I placed my hand over the ruined blade, if she was annoying before, she’s gonna be so much worse now. I righted the weapon before her eyes, and then sharpened it just for good measure. The whole act took less than a second; the blade springing back into place, and then shearing itself sharp in a spray of sparks. Astrid, predictably, dropped to her knees, and started another sermon.

“Oh, Great Creator,” she said, her eyes welling in tears, her hands holding the sword aloft, “who hast re-forged the Blade of Iona, the heritage of my people, the—”

“Astrid,” I said, placing a hand on her bowed head, “shut the fuck up. I’m not your god, I’m a person, and if you’re not going to treat me like one, then you can fly your pretty ass back to Iona.”

Thankfully, Astrid ceased her worship. I got out the rope, made a make-shift harness for myself, and then tied it to Astrid’s torso. I felt foolish stepping into the leg-loops while she knelt awkwardly in the sand, but the ergonomics of our bodies didn’t lend to graceful interaction. When my chest was tied firmly to her torso, and I had made a cozy pillow out of her massive tits, Astrid stood up, my weight seeming to mean nothing to her, and she launched us into the air with a powerful stroke of her wings.

ASTRID

Seven hours later, I landed on an outcropping of the Gratoran Wall. The sun was setting behind the desert hills to my west, casting long shadows across the golden dunes and plateaus. Willowbud was snoring loudly into my chest. Her pretty face was distorted in slumber; her lips spilling drool, her eyes pinched tightly, and her nose snarling with each thunderous snore that lowered and raised a droplet of snot. She looked very undivine, but I still treated her with all the gentle reverence I could muster in my exhaustion. Willowbud was not what I expected for a god, I’d admit, but I rationalized that her holiness was only strengthened by her humbleness. I gently untied the knots that bound her, and then draped her petite body onto the ground. As I looked down at her, I had to shake myself from the euphoric realization that this was actually happening; I was the holy protector of a Creator! This was the honor all valkyries dreamed of, but few ever actually achieved. It had to be fate that I was captured by orcs and then thrown into that cart, it just had to be! It couldn’t be because I’m a terrible warrior and an embarrassment to the Iona Guard. I shook the thought from my mind. My youth had been filled with arrogance and self-assuredness for too long, and the first great adversity of my life had left me shaken. I was the very best; possibly the best ever. My only failure had led to my greatest triumph. I looked fondly down at the sleeping divinity.

I will protect you, I thought, you will come to no harm while under my care, little god; I swear you this oath. I lied down beside her, careful not to get too close, and then folded my wings over the both of us, and fell asleep to the comforting roar of her divine snores.

When I awoke, she was gone. I shot up in a panic, looking from left to right, cursing myself for my carelessness. I ran across the outcrop, and then found her, and breathed a sigh of relief. She was bathing in a pool of water, showering her naked form with the gentle stream of a cliff-side water fall. Now that the sand had washed from her, I could see that she was indeed, caramel of skin. Her hair, however, wasn’t the dirty-blonde it appeared to be when it was covered in sand, but a pure white; starkly contrasting her darker complexion, but blending with the ivory of her horns. Her girlish face was full and rosy with youth, and did not match the womanly curves of her body. Her breasts were petite, but well-formed, her back was lined with lithe muscle, her torso was toned with soft creases, her glutes swelled alluringly from her sloping back, and her penis jutted thickly from her… wait; what in Creation?!

“Oh, hi Astrid!” Willowbud called merrily from the pool, brushing wet hair behind her curved-back horns. “I bet you didn’t expect this, did you?”

I tried not to gawk, I tried to keep my composure, and I failed. I stared with wide-eyes at the long smooth piece of man dangling from between her thick legs. I had never seen one before, and its presence was a magnet to my eyes. It was… fascinating.

“My grandfather…” Willowbud said, stretching lasciviously for the falling water to splash upon her caramel breasts, “…was an incubus. They tailor their appearance to match the desires of women they lust after, and somehow, that trait passed to me as interchangeable genitals. I can control it, of course, but if I ignore it, my body naturally changes itself to match the desires of those around me.” She gave me a little wink. “So that morning wood I woke up with was a blaring signal of your heterosexuality.”

She stepped from beneath the waterfall, and walked toward me, her thick member swaying between the sultry gait of her thighs, her rich body dripping and glistening in the dawn sun. I finally collected myself, and forcibly averted my gaze, feeling my face flush in embarrassment.

“Oh no,” Willowbud laughed, “are valkyries prudes about nudity? I always assumed a bunch of women living together in the mountains wouldn’t care about these things.”

“We don’t care of such things,” I said, looking away as she laid next to me, drying her body in the sun, “but the nakedness of a man is something we… are not used to seeing.”

“It’s just a dick, Sweetheart,” Willowbud chuckled. “How do you breed if you don’t see one every once in a while?”

“When a valkyrie seeks the joy of mothering a daughter,” I explained, still looking away, “she may find herself a mate amongst the mountain men to the north of Iona. They are fearsome warriors who make excellent seed-givers. She sends an emissary to request their strongest man, and they bring him to her for a single night. She will give him her virginity, and he will give her a child, and then they will part ways.”

“That is incredibly romantic,” Willowbud said dryly. “So you only fuck once in your entire life?”

“The desires of the flesh are a weakness that a warrior woman must overcome,” I said, steeling my resolve to keep my eyes forward. “She may relieve herself with her hand or a tool, but she may not put herself beneath another for pleasure.”

“You flying broads sure put a lot of stock in your twats,” Willowbud snorted. “Us nymphs, we run around Arbortus buck naked and give it away like candy; we’re a horny bunch.” Willowbud took an indulgent moment to laugh at her pun before continuing. “I left before I could join in the fun though, damn shame; I would have been very popular.”

“Why did you leave?” I asked, relieved that the conversation had veered away from sex. For a moment, I had feared that Willowbud would ask me to lie with her. I didn’t know much about sex, but I did know that the penis had to be hard for it to work. From the corner of my eye, I could see that it was still lying flaccidly in her lap. She did not desire me; that was good, but why did I feel disappointed?

“The elven emperor started poking his head around,” Willowbud said, “and Mother feared they’d invade if they found out the Earth Former was a nymph, so she sent me to live in the Tentigo Tropics; there’s a nymph colony in the rainforest there. I left thirteen years ago, when I was five.”

“You’ve been traveling to Tentigo for thirteen years?!” I exclaimed.

“No,” Willowbud said, her expression growing dark, “I got sidetracked. Things happened, plans changed…” her eyes grew distant for a moment, “…people changed…” she muttered, but I got the impression that she was no longer talking to me. “But,” she said, shaking herself out of her contemplative state, “you don’t need to hear about any of that shit. After thirteen years, I’m only two days from Tentigo, and it’s all thanks to you.”

I felt a swell of pride bursting in my chest. The Creator finds me useful! I thought with glee.

“I will not let you down,” I said firmly, trying to conceal my smile. It didn’t work. Valkyries are terrible at deception. We cannot lie, and we are awful at hiding emotion, so my grin showed from ear to ear, and though I was looking away from Willowbud, I knew she could see it.

“Oh, someone’s feeling pleased with herself,” Willowbud chuckled. “You really are that devoted, aren’t you?”

“The valkyries of Iona would do anything for you,” I replied, and then added, “I will do anything for you, Willowbud.”

There was a silence between us. I suspected it would be an uncomfortable silence for most people, but valkyries don’t engage in uncomfortable silences. There are simply times for talking, and times when talk is not needed. To my mind, I had said what needed to be said, and Willowbud was simply contemplating the depth of my words. I took it as a sign that the conversation was over, so I began to peel off my armor. The cool air caressed my flesh as piece after piece of stifling, dirty leather was pulled from me. I let the strap that wrapped my groin fall to the rocks, and felt the freeing sensation of nakedness through my legs. I stretched broadly, jutting my chest forward and arching my back, craning my neck and spreading my wings to their full fourteen-foot span bask in the sun. Then I stood up, and walked into the water. The cool surface of the pool beckoned me welcomingly below its depths, and I felt all the dirt, sand and grime wash from my flesh. I dunked my head beneath the surface and then flung it back, letting my blonde hair whip in an arc behind me as the droplets that clung to my braided strands sprayed upon my naked breasts. I dipped the tips of my wings into the glassy surface, and watched as ripples permeated from the feathers. I ran my hands down my sides, loosening the taut muscles of my back and abdomen, stretching my torso to the sky and splaying my wings to catch the warmth. I turned idly to the side and—Willowbud was watching me with wide eyes. She sat upright, her jaw hanging open, her arms pinned to the ground behind her, and her penis curving backward with engorgement. My wings closed around me in a second, my heart jumped in my chest, and my face flushed furiously. I stood in my protective wing-shell, the light of dawn shining a cream-colored hue through my translucent membrane of feathers, my cheeks burning with redness. Had I… did I just make her… was she… oh, Great Creators, what had I done?!

WILLOWBUD

If I hadn’t known better, I would’ve assumed Astrid was putting on a show for me. Her naked body moved with an athletic grace I’d never seen before; her muscles rippling in sinuous motion beneath her subtly-tan canvas, her breasts jiggling with the adept movements of her back, and her glutes flexing with the alluring swings of her wide hips. She turned her head skyward, stretching her magnificent figure in an arching back, reaching outward with her arms and splaying her wings, her whole body bathed in an aura of dawn sun reflecting golden light from her wet skin. Then she looked at me, noticed the skin-splitting boner I had, and shelled herself in a cocoon of her own wings. It was strange to see a woman so confident in her body, so assured in her natural superiority, hide herself over something as trivial as an erection. It was like watching a lioness cower from a mouse.

I sighed, and began to stroke myself. If a dick was going to cause this much trouble, then I’d have to force myself to stay completely female. I couldn’t change back to my female form until this boner was gone, and there was no way it was going away on its own after what I just saw. I affixed a mental image of Astrid arching her naked body, bit my lower lip, and went to town. Astrid’s feathery shell shifted just a bit, and I saw a pair of blue eyes peering from between white feathers.

Getting a little curious, hmm? I thought with a smile. I closed my eyes, and focused on the rock I was lying on. I let my connection with the stone travel from where I lay, to the floor of the natural pool where Astrid was standing. I could feel her pulse against the stone, and the subtle vibration and shifts of her body gave me an image of her form. Beneath those wings, Astrid was touching herself. We’re getting very curious, aren’t we?

“Astrid,” I called, watching her eyes widen behind her feathers, “are you enjoying yourself in there?”

“I...” she said shyly, “…I am content, yes.”

“What are you doing?” I asked, pushing my erection down until the tip pointed accusingly at her.

“I am concealing myself,” Astrid said, her voice shaking, “because your arousal discomforts me.”

“Does it?” I grinned. “What else are you doing under there?”

“I-I-I…” she stammered. I could practically feel her blushing; her heartrate was skyrocketing against the rocks, “I am relieving myself with my hand.”

“Well, so am I,” I smiled, “but it’s not really fair that you get to see me, and I don’t get to see you. Why don’t you open up those wings?”

I felt Astrid’s pulse quicken even more as her wings tentatively opened. Her face was beat-red with embarrassment, but she did not attempt to cover herself. She stood in all her glory, her arms pressing her breasts together as her hands joined between her legs. I watched her intently as I made a show of stroking myself with long, deliberate pulls. I anchored my heels into the rock, and began subtly thrusting in the air, moaning soft feminine tones as I sated my raging masculinity.

“You know,” I said, watching her arousal grow behind her eyes, “if I were a valkyrie with the opportunity to fuck a god, I’d like to think I wouldn’t let the chance pass me by.”

“Are you commanding me to lie with you?” she asked, her voice wavering in desire and fear.

“Do you want me to command you to?” I asked with a smirk. “Would that make it easier on your conscience?”

“Yes,” she said, her voice small and weak.

“Well, too bad,” I laughed, “because I already told you I’m not your god. You make your own decision, Astrid, and you better make it quick, because I’m a notorious premature ejaculator.”

Astrid stood in an indecisive stasis, still touching herself as she weighed her options. I began to shift and moan with exaggerated lechery, driving my hips in the air, gripping my left breast lustfully, escalating my tones like I was on the brink of orgasm. I could see the frustration in her face, the desire creeping through the apprehension, the will to retain her equanimity diminishing in the wake of her feminine hunger. She chewed on her lip, and I could practically see all those years of training and oaths being outweighed by the simple and stupid need to breed. I was a woman; I understood. I knew I was being a bastard using this Astrid’s deific perception of me to get her pussy, but that masculine part of me didn’t really give a shit about ethics when a pair of tits like that THAT were staring me in the face.

“Willowbud,” she finally said, her voice barely audible, “will you have sex with me?”

“Why, yes, Astrid,” I smiled. “I’d love to; how nice of you to ask.”

She walked to me, her hands entwining anxiously in front of her, her gait stiff and nervous, her wings bent behind her demurely, and her smile shy and adoring. Normally, her worshipful demeanor would be annoying, but seeing it glow from her face as she got on her hands and knees was now incredibly alluring.

“Put your knees right here.” I smiled, gesturing to the spaces below my armpits. Astrid’s expression became perplexed.

“But,” she said, cocking her head in confusion, “that is not where your penis is.”

“Oh my god,” I laughed, taking a grip of her hips, “you’re adorable. Just trust me, Astrid.”

ASTRID

I placed my knees on the spaces below Willowbud’s arms, feeling very uncomfortable with the position. She was a god, yet she wanted me to be atop her? It felt wrong, it felt disrespectful, it felt sacrilegious. Then, it felt wonderful. She grabbed me by the hips and pulled me downward. Her face pushed into my pelvic floor, and I gasped as I was touched by another for the first time. Her lips parted around my moist petals, and her tongue snaked through them, brushing aside my tender folds with the wet heat of her oral member. My back straightened as the shock of the sensation ran through me, and my eyes widened in lustful astonishment. The tip of her tongue found the bead of my erogeneity, and she methodically worked it beneath the fleshy hood. Streams of fiery pleasure coursed into my pelvis, and my lips gaped open to form a moan of astounded pleasure. I let my hips sink downward, enveloping her face in my thighs, and my posture loosen as I succumbed to her passion.

My eyes cast downward, and my vision was filled with the prize I had lusted after since I’d seen it. It throbbed and curved backward, leaking with its need. I reached forward, feeling my heart race in anticipation, and then I clasped my hands covetously around it. It pulsed against my palms and twitched in reaction to every subtle touch of my fingers, its heat burning delectably into my loosely-gripping fingers. I let out a sigh of satisfaction as I felt it harden even more in my grasp, curving backward toward me as I gently caressed it. What a fascinating thing it was. Tender, yet hard; solid, yet reactive. Objectively, it was a strange and grotesque organ, something that seemed wholly out of place on the humanoid anatomy, but in that moment it looked positively… delicious. I wasn’t one to question my instincts. I lowered my lips to Willowbud’s divine organ, my breathing sharp with the exhilaration of her lustful consumption, my mouth watering as the oozing tip neared me. I gave it a shy lick, flicking the tip with my tongue, testing the flavor of her. She tasted good. Her cock twitched against my lips, and she shifted her hips upward, pressing the head against my mouth. I smiled at her reactiveness, then opened my mouth, and let her slide inside me.

I pursed my lips around her girth, savoring the feeling of every vein and bump deforming the lush outline of my mouth. Her shaft traveled along the soft wet bed of my tongue, and I curled it around her, trying to taste every inch she had to offer. Her tip pushed against the resistance of my throat, and she stopped, holding her hips aloft and waiting for me, allowing me to decide if I should take her deeper. I smiled around her cock, and made the decision. It was an easy choice, really; she was my god, and I would do anything for her. I relaxed my throat as best I could, and lowered my face. I felt my neck constrict and a gag form in my esophagus, but I pressed on. Tears welled in my eyes as the choking sensation became more intense, and I had to stop to acclimate to the new pressure, but I didn’t pull out; something about the way she throbbed so intimately in my throat excited me. When I adjusted to the feeling, I took her deeper. It was easier now that I’d gotten over the choking sensation, and I felt a surge of pride when my lips pushed against her base. Somehow, someway, this was definitely a new record. Her roiling testicles smushed pleasurably against my nose, wafting her intoxicating scent into my nostrils, and her thighs quivered below me in abject pleasure. I smiled around her organ. She rewarded me by pushing her entire tongue into my slit, and curling it along my ceiling, pressing the tip against my ridged weak spot and exploiting it mercilessly. My back gave out in pleasure, and my abdomen sunk into her belly as my breasts squished against her pelvis. My eyes rolled into my head, and I mindlessly began to suck on the wonderful deific meat stretching my throat.

WILLOWBUD

Astrid’s hands gripped my ass as she pulled my hips upward, taking every inch of me into her mouth, swallowing around me as I plunged into her throat. Her pussy leaked her desire onto my lips and frothed her pleasure onto my tongue, filling me with her decadent flavor. I sucked the tender folds of her reddened petals as I pushed my tongue deeper, trying to taste every inch of her virginity before I took it from her. The familiar pressure in my loins began to grow, and I felt my masculine mind bend to its desires, compelling me to thrust into Astrid’s throat with more force, slapping my balls against her face, impaling her voracious gullet with my meat until it was buried to the hilt in her clenching esophagus. She didn’t seem to mind that I was being rough; she seemed to like it. She took my rigor as a sign that she was doing her duty, and she welcomed my hammering pumps with all the coiling wet tenderness she could offer. Spit leaked from her defiled lips and pooled onto my crotch, gurgles and pained gags slipped from her throat, but even as she struggled with me, she hummed a tone of pure bliss, and graciously accepted me ever deeper.

Her pussy began to twitch in the precursor of her ascension, her hips began to grind without her permission, and her heart raced against my body. The humming tones of her occupied mouth grew louder and higher; the shifting nature of her figure began to border on desperation. The sounds of her vulnerable euphoria leaked into my primal mind, and stoked the masculine fire that raged within it. I couldn’t hold back, not with the way she was taking me into her, not with the flavor of her orgasm on my tongue, not with the sounds of her succumbing as she wilted into me under the heat of lust. Her belly pressed against mine with the arch of her back, her powerful abdominal muscles convulsed in waves, and her mouth screamed muffled ecstasy. I growled into her depths and clamped my eyes shut as I felt the pressure in my loins build and build, expanding with ecstatic fullness until it burst. I blew my load into Astrid’s pristine virgin mouth as she showered me with her release. She took me all the way into her throat and swallowed continuously as I expelled gouts of semen into her belly, my roiling testicles bunching taut against the point of her nose. I licked the spray of her orgasm from my lips, and pulled her pelvis off me. She withdrew from my cock in a long, slow pull, cleaning my shaft with her the lathering pillow of her tongue and the air-tight seal of her lips.

Ah shit, I thought, I came too fast again.

ASTRID

That. Was. Amazing. I savored the residual pleasure that burned in my depths as I licked the last of Willowbud’s seed from her shaft. I didn’t know if that’s what I was supposed to do, but it seemed a sin to let her holy fertility fall to the rocks, and I greatly enjoyed the idea of it soaking inside my belly. Willowbud guided my hips off her, strings of my lust glistening in the dawn light and snapping from her lush lips. I looked back at her with all the satisfied adoration I could muster, and she returned my gaze with a look of disappointment.

Oh, no! I thought, I did something wrong! What did I do?! Does she hate me now?

“Ah fuck,” Willowbud grunted, “I blew my wad.”

“I’m sorry!” I said, dismayed, “I did not mean to—"

“Holy shit,” Willowbud laughed, “it’s not your fault, Astrid. Well, it kind of is, but—”

“Please forgive me!”

“Astrid,” Willowbud said, resting her hand on my buttocks, “you need to stop putting me on a pedestal. I came too early, because you are the hottest piece of ass I’ve ever been with, and I got too excited.”

“So…” I said, feeling a hopeful smile grow on my face, “…I was good?”

“Too good, apparently,” Willowbud smiled, giving my butt a friendly smack, “where did you learn to give head like that?”

“Give head?”

“You know, a blowjob.”

“But I wasn’t blowing, Willowbud. I was sucking.”

“You are the cutest fucking thing in the world,” Willowbud laughed, and I returned her mirth with a confused smile, “and a natural at sucking dick. That’s a compliment, of sorts.”

“Then I will take it as such,” I grinned, lowering my lips to her deflating member.

“Astrid,” Willowbud sighed, “it’s not going back up. I’m a one-and-done-two-pump-chump.”

“You’re a god,” I whispered, smiling back at her as I inhaled the sweet stink of her loins, “whose humbleness is getting annoying; I think I believe in you more than you believe in yourself.”

I kissed the tip of her cock, and giggled as it flexed. I ran my tongue across the top of her shaft, sheening her with a loving caress, and a spittle of orgasm froth exited her tip. I reached down and gently cupped the orbs that hung beneath her, and rolled them tenderly in my hands, savoring their delicate heat. Every gentle pass of my tongue brought Willowbud’s arousal to new heights until the god’s manhood was engorged and throbbing, and she was moaning for more.

I really am good at this, I thought with a self-satisfied smile. I wonder what other salacious skills I have hidden within me. My competitive instincts kicked in and comingled with my newfound sexuality, and I decided right then that I would be the best pleasure partner Willowbud ever had. Remember your oaths, Astrid, my mother’s voice rang admonishingly in my ear. I ignored it.

I gave Willowbud’s cock a parting kiss on the tip, and gave her face a smile I’d never worn before; a mischievous smile, a playful smile, a smile that suggested I knew something that she didn’t. Of course, as I righted myself and straddled the goddess about her slender thighs, my confident smile faded. I was about to lose my virginity. I was about to engage in sex for the sake of pleasure, and not for the sake of procreation. I was about to break a vow, but Great Creators, I wanted it! I felt the tortuous emptiness building inside me, craving with insatiable appetite for the touch of a man.

“Are you scared?” Willowbud asked, her dark green eyes bearing nothing but tenderness.

“Yes,” I said with a bashful smile, “I’m terrified, but I want it, Willowbud; I want it so bad!

Willowbud laughed as she ran her hands up my sides, and hooked them about my waist, sinking her fingers into the fat that creased from my spread thighs to my glutes. Her touch was gentle, but firm as she guided me downward into womanhood. I gasped in alarm when she first entered me, breaking my virgin tightness with deliberate slowness. Inch after inch eased inside me, and inch after inch stretched my taut chastity to the point of pain. I rested my hand on her pelvis, pressing down when I wanted her to stop and easing off when I was used to the feeling. Soft murmurs of discomfort slipped from my lips, and my eyes widened as I felt the invasion deepen. It was such a disarming, violating feeling, but I hungered for it despite the pain. My pelvic floor connected with Willowbud’s crotch, her divine orbs squished against the bottom of my slit, and a whimper slipped from me as I took the last inch of her. A breathless moment passed where the enormity of my situation fell upon me; I was a woman now. I was a woman, and it felt so good to be a woman. The pain of my virginity faded, and the throbbing, exhilarating heat of Willowbud’s cock began to radiate delightfully into my depths. It still hurt a little, but the pleasure was there, and the pleasure was intoxicating. The instincts of lust crept into my mind, and I smiled, and began to shift my hips.

WILLOWBUD

Astrid was an angel riding me. Her wings stretched behind her to catch the sun in a silvery silhouette, her blonde hair glowed in an aura of dawn, and her skin radiated with the golden desert light. In my experience, virgins were usually content with lying there and taking it, but Astrid was not. After the initial shock of losing her chastity, Astrid’s sexual confidence flourished. Her hips undulated in long, graceful motions; her toned abdomen flexing in waves, her ample domed breasts jiggling to the whim of her movements. She stretched backward, resting her hands on my thighs, and she gyrated on my cock like a belly-dancer, biting her lip with an impish grin, expelling indulgent pleasure as her impossibly-tight slit salivated hungrily about my impaling shaft. I slid my hands further behind her and gripped the sweet fat of her ass, savoring the feeling of her warm flesh molding in my fingers. I groaned and gasped as she tightened around me with each pass of her gyration, stirring her tight womanhood with the rigid strength of my manhood. An astonished delighted smile curled across her lips, and a girlish giggle flowed from her as she realized the breadth of her newfound prowess. She moved with the elegance of an experienced woman, and reacted with the wide-eyed exuberance of a teenage girl. Still, she treated me with too much reverence for my liking.

“Touch me, Astrid,” I moaned as she danced on me. “Grab me, squeeze me, take me; I’m not your god.”

“You are my god,” she giggled, leaning forward and gripping my breasts, “but I will do as you command.”

“Your god commands you to fuck me like a bitch in heat,” I grinned.

Astrid slid forward on top of me; her flexing abdomen squishing into the softness of my belly, her ample breasts flattening into domes against the backs of her cupping hands. She pressed my flailing bust together, and pushed her thumbs into my erect nipples, prompting me to cry out in glee. She laughed delightedly at my responsiveness, and curved herself convexly, separating our squishing busts so that she could take my nipple into her mouth. I moaned as her soft lips pursed around my hardened node and sucked gently, drawing the sensitive nipple out from my areola until it ached wonderfully with its erectness. She eyed my face with a curious expression, playfully studying my reaction, trying to find the secrets of my pleasure. She rotated her mouth about my nipple, and I moaned. She released my reddened bead and flicked her tongue across it in teasing tickles, and I cried out again. Her blue eyes twinkled beneath her brow as she discovered the little things that drove me crazy, and she exploited them to her liking. All the while, her hips moved behind her with deep oscillations, her netherlips voraciously consuming my cock, stretching with each retreat in squelching sucks and wrapping me with each enveloping plunge. The swell of her perfect backside rose and fell, jiggled this way and that, clapped together and spread with each pass of her hips. She was an artist of lust, a sculptor of love making, and she knew it. She tangled a hand in my hair, and pulled gently, tilting my head backward and exposing my neck. She licked me from nipple to collarbone, then exchanged her hedonism for love, and burned a sweet path of gentle kisses along the curved vulnerability of my throat. She stopped at my jaw, and then watched me with an apprehensive expression.

“What?” I gasped, unable to speak words in anything but breathy expulsions.

“I was wondering…” she whispered, her voice hoarse with her pleasure, “…I was wondering if I… if I could kiss you.”

“We’re already fucking, Astrid;” I laughed through my moans, “what’s a kiss?”

“A kiss is much more intimate than sex, Willowbud,” she said in a hushed tone. “It’s a symbol of… never mind,” she said, her face turning red with embarrassment, “I’m sorry.”

“No,” I smiled, sliding my hand through her braided blonde hair, cupping her behind the ear. “I want you to kiss me.”

“You do?” she asked, her eyes brimming.

“Kiss me, Astrid,” I whispered, “but not like your god.”

Astrid looked into my eyes as her face hovered above mine. Her blue irises cast downward, gazing upon my parted lips, whose expirations sung with the sweet pleasure of her grinding hips. She lowered her face to mine, and pressed our mouths together. I expected her to be tentative and shy, to expose her virgin inexperience with awkward movements, but I was wrong. Astrid’s lips opened mine, and sucked with a gentle love as her tongue slid between us. I joined my loving member with hers, and we entwined in a heated wet embrace. I found myself sinking into her mouth, tasting the sweet honey of her budding lust and drinking in the nectar. Her kiss was seeped in affection, born of amorous tenderness and expressed without a hint of carnality.

Holy shit, I thought as I melted into her passion, this woman is in love with me.

ASTRID

My heart pounded in my chest as I tasted Willowbud’s kiss on my tongue. I rotated my lips around her, drinking the goddess in, feeling her lust seep into my mouth and radiate into my chest. She thrusted into my grinding hips with faster motions, not driving with violence, but with a methodical determination, splitting me tenderly, hollowing me lovingly, ruining me so graciously. Her relentless cadence matched the rhythm of my gyrations, and roiled my insides into a churning mess of pleasure. The aching ballooning euphoria expanded slowly within me, driving me to new heights, tugging gently at the rational strings of my mind. I was losing myself to the feeling, drowning in the expansion of my lust, sinking into the depths of her sweet depravities. The soft love of our kiss began to wane in the intensity of the sex. The muffled moans that we shared within our mouths turned to whines of escalating passion, which turned to cries. Our kiss lost its tenderness and turned into a carnal devouring of each other’s mouths, the passion compelling us to taste every inch of the other, to consume the other with desperate hedonism. Willowbud gripped me by the breasts and squeezed tightly, painfully, unable to control herself in the heat of our lust. I cried out as the wonderful stings and pressure sank into my chest, as her fingers were lost in the succulent meat of my breasts. The rotation of my hips ceased, and I drove my pelvis down, trying to take every inch of her that I could, longing to feel her press into my dilated bottom. She slammed into me, her crotch colliding with my pelvis, her cock driving into my tight channel, separating me, burning through the nerve-swathed flesh of my erogeneity, invading the sanctity of my womanhood. Her girth passed along my clit with every drive, mingling the pleasure of my external lust with the ferocious ecstasy of my internal defilement, aggravating the erogenous bead until it was engorged and thrumming with every pass of her reaming shaft.

A new sensation awoke within me. It was a sensation that began at the deepest reaches of our depraved joining, and simmered outward. It changed me. It compelled my body to bend with instinctual motions; my pelvis dropping, my back arching, my chest jutting, and my hands pressing into Willowbud’s bust, driving down to support my possessed curve. She squeezed my breasts harder as her own deformed in my pressing palms, and I began to pant and gasp as breath became scarce in my chest. Willowbud didn’t stop; she drove into me harder than before, losing her control to the same feeling that stole mine, colliding her body with mine as though she were trying to merge our very selves. The alien sensation began to grow in its intensity; a torrent of pleasure that seeped into every nerve and wracked every muscle, a tension that wound tighter and tighter, a felicitous pressure that always seemed on the verge of eruption, but didn’t release. My head flung skyward, my eyes bulged, by mouth gaped and cried out. The tension wound mercilessly, tighter and tighter, tortuously bringing me through the ecstatic reaches of sanity. Willowbud surged into me with a furious desperate blast of thrusts, possessed with her passion, driven by her madness. The tension wound, and wound and wound… and then snapped! I screamed as the euphoric release washed through my body, burning its fire into every extremity of my being. Willowbud’s voice joined mine as she erupted within me, exploding into the sanctity of my womb, filling me until I overflowed with her hot nectar. Our bodies twisted in the chaos of our orgasmic catharsis, and the world shook beneath us as if quaking with the same rapture.

I collapsed in exhaustion atop my god, my wings folding weakly to the ground behind me, draping over our sweating forms. We panted the last bit of euphoric madness from our bodies as the slick warmth of our flesh radiated into each other. Willowbud recovered first, and she took a grip of my hair, and lifted my face to hers. She kissed me with a burning passion, and I kissed her with loving gratefulness. I rolled us over so that I was on my back, and I savored the weight of her small body sinking into mine, and the hardness of her love still throbbing within me. She pulled from the kiss and looked into my eyes; her pine-colored gaze full of wonder.

“What?” I asked, a blissful smile strewn lazily about my face.

“You’re fucking amazing, Astrid,” she said. “I’ve had strange of all kinds, but I’ve never had anything like you.”

“Well, thank you,” I giggled, feeling my face flush. “You were also amazing.”

“Eh, you don’t have anything to compare me to,” Willowbud smiled, “and I’m not giving you a chance to find out I suck; you’re mine.”

“I’ll always be yours,” I whispered, “no matter what.”

Willowbud smiled from the tops of her eyes, tracing a thumb through the luscious outline of my lips. She looked over her shoulder, and I noticed the statue for the first time. It was a thirty-foot monument of me; my back arched, my breasts jutted forth, my head tilted to the sky, and my wings splayed outward. It was born of the same rock that made up the outcropping, and was a picture-perfect sculpture without a hint of chisel markings or errant carving.

“I didn’t mean to make that,” Willowbud said softly. “If I can’t control my power when I come, I usually just shift the earth beneath me; it isn’t subtle, but it keeps people from wondering. With you, the only thing I could think about was how beautiful you looked.” She turned to me, a worried expression on her face. “You’re going to cause me trouble, Astrid; I might actually give a shit about you.”

“From you, that means everything,” I smiled, my heart almost bursting from my chest. Willowbud smiled back, and snuggled atop me, making a pillow of my ample breasts and staring tiredly into my eyes. I pet her mess of pure-white hair into orderly rows beneath her ivory horns, and then closed my wings over us, blocking the mid-morning sun. Her green eyes drooped to slits, and then closed. Soon after, the sounds of her snores rang throughout the cocoon of feathers I had made. I smiled contentedly and felt my own eyelids grow heavy. It seemed that Tentigo could wait one more day.

WILLOWBUD

I knew I was dreaming, but that didn’t mean I was safe. I’d had dreams like this before, but they were supposed to be gone; she was supposed to be dead.

You can’t kill me, Corruption laughed softly, her voice a soothing drawl, like the hushed whisper of a loving mother. You can’t kill me no more than you can kill the wind, Willowbud.

What do you want from me? I whispered to the void, my words tremoring on my lips.

I have something to show you.

I looked down, and saw that my body was not my own, but hers. It was slender, beautiful, and black as obsidian. I supposed it was human, but there was no humanity in this Sentient, this astral being of emotion and thought. Of the three known Sentients, Corruption was the most feared. While Wrath made his presence known in the world during times of great bloodshed, and Sorrow came in cycles of societal depression, Corruption never revealed herself. A father would brutally torture and kill his family without any reason, a city would lock itself up and dissolve into anarchistic chaos, a king would burn the fields of his country and let his citizens starve to death. But these deeds were long-forgotten, the legends were older than nations. Now most people thought Sentients were just a myth, but I knew better. I knew it intimately.

I saw the world through Corruption’s eyes, and this world was painfully familiar. I stood in the canopy of a massive tree, its branches wider than roadways, its trunk thicker than a house, its stature taller than the highest tower. I was in Arbortus, my home, and in the convergence of branches and leaves, stood a nymph man and a nymph woman, smiling over the cradle of a newborn babe.

I was here, Corruption said. I was with you since the beginning.

No, I whispered back, no, that’s impossible! You were in Drastin when I found you!

I found you much sooner, Corruption replied. You just couldn’t see me. I’ve been watching over you since you left the womb.

The image blurred and refocused. I was floating along the treetops, flying side-by-side with a toddler version of myself. Toddler-me laughed and giggled as she jumped from branch to branch, fearlessly leaping gaps that dropped hundreds of feet, deftly catching knobs and knolls of bark to break her fall. She slid down a sloping branch and leaped head-first into the canopy that was her home. Her ears were immediately assaulted by yelling voices; Mother and Father were fighting. They didn’t see her enter, and she crouched behind a drape of foliage, afraid of their shouting.

“Flora, she’s your daughter,” Father said in his usual calm voice. “So what if she’s different?”

Different?” Mother screamed, “She’s a freak! This wasn’t supposed to happen to me; my sister was born with the sins of our father! I was supposed to be safe!”

“Flora,” Father said, putting his hands upon Mother’s shoulders, “it’s alright.”

“It’s what Passion promised!” Mother sputtered, tears falling from her eyes. “The seed of an incubus will inoculate the womb with one whore, and all children sired thereafter will be pure. Tera was the cursed one, not I! She was born the succubus, she was born the whore, yet my womb carried an abomination!”

“Willowbud is completely normal,” Father said comfortingly as he held Mother. “It’s just one thing, just one little thing. It’s not a curse, Flora; it’s a blessing. She can father us grandchildren, and mother them.”

“And pass on that repulsive heritage?!” Mother screamed. “She will not sire children in my forest! Not while I am a matriarch!”

Toddler-me didn’t wait to hear the rest of the conversation. She was afraid and confused, but she was smart enough to know that Mother was talking about her, and she wasn’t saying anything nice. She ran out of the canopy, ducking and dodging through trunks and branches, tears falling from her eyes. She fell to her knees at the end of a branch and sobbed quietly, alone. Somehow, she knew the loin cloth she was forced to wear was a symbol of something bad. None of the other nymph children had to wear clothes, but toddler-me did, and she didn’t know why. A squirrel chirped noisily at the other end of the branch, seeming to mock the girl. My hands—Corruption’s hands—reached outward, and tenderly pet the pure-white hair of the child. Her sobbing stopped, and she looked over at the teasing squirrel. The rodent continued to squeak away its supposed insults, and then a rock flew out of nowhere, and decapitated the thing in a spray of red and pink. Toddler-me laughed gleefully, and I felt Corruption’s smile form on my dreaming lips.

I made the pain go away, Willowbud, Corruption laughed, enjoying the spectacle now as much as she did then. I always did.

A band-aid for an axe-wound.

More like opium, actually, Corruption countered softly.

The world blurred, and then refocused. I stood behind child-me, no more than five years old. She was standing alongside her father in the highest reaches of the canopy, so high that the sun gleamed uninterrupted through the thin ceiling of leaves.

“Alright,” Father said excitedly, “do you see the racoon in that nest?”

“Yes,” child-me grinned up at him, “he’s not supposed to be there, is he Daddy?”

“No, he’s not,” Father grinned. “He’s being a very naughty raccoon. What do we do to naughty racoons?”

A pebble shot through the air, and struck the robbing racoon right in the ass. The racoon squeaked in pain and surprise, and then scampered down the tree.

“Fuck yeah!” Father exclaimed excitedly, jumping up and down excitedly.

“Ooo,” child-me said, “you broke the rule, Daddy!”

“I was testing to make sure you still knew them,” Father smiled slyly to me, “what are they, Willowbud?”

“Don’t swear, don’t kill, and never, ever, show anyone my super-powers,” child-me recited.

“That’s right,” Father said, and the knelt in front of child-me, “and those last two are the most important of all, Willowbud. I found that deer by Ashblossom’s tree.”

“It wasn’t me,” child-me lied, twisting her fingers behind herself and rocking back and forth on her feet. Father’s smile never broke as he saw through her lie. He had a way of saying important things, and teaching important lessons without any gravity or sternness.

“Killing animals isn’t what nymphs do,” Father said, pulling child-me up and allowing her to ride atop his shoulders. “Other people do, but we are the caretakes of the forest, the followers of the Life Givers, and we do not take what has been given.”

Stop, I said to Corruption, feeling my heart sinking into my chest, don’t you ever show him to me, you cunt!

He was a good man, Willowbud, Corruption replied softly as the dream blurred. The only one you ever loved. The only person who loved you more than I.

Get the fuck out of my head! I screamed, but was only answered with another of Corruption’s memories.

Child-me was aboard a ship to Tentigo. She was sad and afraid, clutching a pouch full of gold. It was my Mother’s parting gift after she’d discovered what I was. The nymphs were Creationists of sorts, but they only worshipped The Life Giver. All other gods were considered lesser, and Mother said my presence was a threat to the entire forest. She convinced the other matriarchs that the elves would invade if they found out about me, so they ordered my exile. She did it while Father was away so that he wouldn’t leave with me. Even at five years old, I knew it was just Mother’s way of getting rid of me.

I was standing right behind my younger self, my ethereal black body not effected by the nauseating sways of the vessel. Child-me was in terrible, inconsolable pain, and Corruption could take the pain away. My black hands caressed the sobbing child, who clutched the bag of gold tightly to her chest; the only thing she had left of home. She didn’t want to spend it; she didn’t want to let it go. The only value the fortune had to her was the nostalgic smell of maple sap that still wafted faintly from the leather of the pouch. Corruption whispered her soothing song from my dreaming lips into child-me’s ear. Corruption made it easy to let the gold go. It was just rock, after all; rock cast and carved into coins, but rock nonetheless. Rock I could control; rock I could make hurt people. Hurting things made the pain go away, but killing things made me happy. The coins blasted from the pouch, punching holes in the deck, punching holes in the hull, punching holes in the crew. Men screamed, men cried, men begged, and men died. It felt good to kill them. It felt so, so, good! Never show anyone your powers, Father’s voice whispered from Corruption’s lips. You can’t let anyone know what you are, or they’ll hurt you like Mommy did.

When the ship crashed into the docks of Drastin the next morning, nobody found a man left alive.

Child-me lived like a pauper in the streets of Drastin. She was lost and alone in the beastly metropolis, consumed by its endless maze of alleys and dead ends. I rested my black hands on her shoulders and tried to whisper my song into her ear, but she wouldn’t listen to me any longer; she was too ashamed of what she’d done. Don’t swear, don’t kill, don’t show them what you are. She would never break those rules again, she would abide by them until she died. She found her way into an orphanage. The children there were mean to her, but she didn’t fight back. A boy pushed her down the stairs, a girl stole her food, the orphans blamed her when things went awry, when they needed a scapegoat for the deeds they’d done. I pleaded to help her, I cried for her to listen, but she wouldn’t. Willowbud was cast into the streets. Willowbud was left alone. Willowbud began to starve. She begged for food on the cold stones, but no one paid her heed. She wept alone in the dark alleys, but no one heard her cries.

But I heard you, Willowbud, Corruption said softly. I listened.

You should have let me die, I whispered back, feeling a knot bulging in my throat.

Dark shadows leered in the alleyway. Willowbud scampered to her feet, trying to find a way out, but the shadows blocked the dead-end entrance. They sniggered threateningly as they neared her, smelling of booze and sweat, sounding of merciless intent. Willowbud felt the earth and rocks beneath her, she felt the power she had over them, but her father’s words cut into her mind. Don’t swear, don’t kill, don’t show them what you are. Willowbud wouldn’t break his rules again. Willowbud would find another way out of this. Willowbud wouldn’t listen to my desperate screams. The shadows converged on her. The shadows surrounded her. The shadows took her.

The dawn cast its golden light onto Willowbud’s broken form, splayed in the alleyway. I stood over her as her eyes opened to slits, and narrowed to focus. She could see me for the first time in her life. A dim shadow against the sun, barely visible, but there. I leaned forward and caressed the wet cheek of the child. She smiled weakly, recognition dawning in her blood-shot eyes; she knew that touch. I leaned forward, took her bloodied face in my hands, and kissed her softly on the lips. She accepted me, and opened her mind for me, opened that space left vacant in the minds of elves and nymphs, that space reserved for things like Corruption. I felt Corruption’s joy in my dream, brimming from an ethereal heart as she finally joined with the girl she loved. The last image I saw from the Sentient’s perspective, was of me staring blankly at the sun; the white sclera of my eyes turning black.

Don’t show me anymore! I screamed to Corruption. Find someone else to torment!

Torment? Corruption’s voice sounded wounded. Willowbud, this is a love letter.

Willowbud didn’t starve anymore. Willowbud didn’t beg anymore. Willowbud didn’t hurt anymore. I saw though Corruption’s eyes, and she saw through Willowbud’s. She made the hard decisions easy. Stealing became easy, hurting became easy, killing became easy. Willowbud wasn’t a loner anymore; she made friends. A gang of thieves and burglars, of thugs and killers, and she was the worst of them all, the ring-leader. She swore them to secrecy, she told them she’d torture them to death if they told a soul of her true nature, and they listened; they’d seen her do it before. Banks were robbed, stage coaches were held-up, gambling halls were ransacked. Willowbud’s gang became notorious, and she got a name for herself: Night Eyes.

Night Eyes grew from a girl, to a teenager. Night Eyes began to get strange desires. Night Eyes became very interested in brothels. She paid the madam, she walked up the stairs, and she found the woman. Night Eyes didn’t like how the woman touched her, how the woman controlled her, how the woman led her through lust like a child. Night Eyes took control, Night Eyes grabbed and choked, Night Eyes pulled and thrusted. The woman screamed, the woman begged, the woman pleaded, and Night Eyes laughed. The woman surrendered, the woman moaned, and the woman came; writhing in a euphoria that was forced upon her. Night Eyes discovered something that night; Night Eyes found that she liked to rape.

STOP! I screamed. Please stop!

You are who you are, Willowbud, Corruption said comfortingly. You should accept and love yourself, as I love and accept you.

That’s not me! I said, choking on tears I couldn’t cry.

But it is. Corruption hissed, I didn’t make the decisions for you, I just made them easy.

I hate you.

Only as much as you hate yourself. I took that hatred away, didn’t I? You think that winged-warrior you’re fucking can give you peace? You will pour your self-loathing into her, you will make her bear the burdens of your conscience, and you will drive her away.

No, I croaked, she will stay with me.

She will not, Corruption said consolingly, apologetically, and you know it, Willowbud.

Leave me! I will never see you again!

Oh, you will, Corruption chuckled, her voice as alluring as it was threatening, we can’t avoid each other for long, can we? We’re kindred spirits, Willowbud; we belong together.

Leave me, I whispered, please.

For a moment, I thought she had. The dream faded from my mind, the sounds of the woman’s pleasured screams and horrified sobs dwindling to a drone. The world became black and silent.

It’s absolutely lovely this time of year, Corruption whispered, her voice so loud it echoed in my skull, in Tentigo.

ASTRID

It was dark out when I felt the disturbance. I opened my eyes, and saw Willowbud shaking me awake. Her green eyes gleamed in the moonlight, and they were wide with terror. She said something about Tentigo, about the ancient Sentients, about Corruption. Her sentences were jumbled and frantic, but I deciphered the meaning behind them. I threw on my armor with practiced speed as Willowbud tied the harness to my body. I strapped the Sword of Iona to my back, and launched us into the sky. It was dangerous to fly at night, but the Gratoran Wall shielded us from wind gusts, and the desert was barren of nighttime predators. The dim tree line of the Tentigo Tropics finally appeared in the darkness, and Willowbud directed me to the location of the colony. I thought it might be hard to find in the night, but it was easy; the raging fire in the treetops marked it starkly against the black sky.

“Oh no!” Willowbud cried, her voice barely audible against the rushing wind.

I flew over to the blaze, which burned crimson with the wet tropical wood and spewed smoke into the night air. Beneath the billowing layer of refuse and heat, I saw the chaos. The nymphs were like savages; killing, raping, and burning. They committed their atrocities with grins stitched across their faces as though the grimace was a permanent fixture to their manic portraits, their black eyes gleaming in the flame. Even the wounded and dying cackled their death throes with the mirth of the insane.

“What has happened to them?” I gasped in horror.

“Corruption whispered to them,” Willowbud replied solemnly, “and they listened.”

“Can they be saved?”

“No,” Willowbud said quietly, “she didn’t meld with them; she broke them completely. She doesn’t care about them.”

“But she cares about you?” I asked, looking down at the top of her horned head. “You know Corruption, don’t you?”

“She’s an old friend,” Willowbud said dryly, “and she misses me very much. Drop me on that plateau; I need to feel the earth.”

I swooped to the jutting rock that towered above the trees, and knelt so that Willowbud’s feet touched the granite. She looked over the landscape, from the burning treetops in the valley below, to the hillside adjacent to our plateau.

“Willowbud,” I asked carefully, a sickening feeling forming in my stomach, “what are you going to do?”

“What I have to,” Willowbud replied, her voice cracking. She was crying. She stepped out of the harness and walked to the edge of the outcropping, trying to keep her composure as she assessed the landscape; she was failing. Her hands were trembling, her knees were wobbling, and her feet moved almost drunkenly. I walked behind her and wrapped her in my arms, embracing her in my love, pulling her to the safety of my bosom. Her haggard breathing grew steady, her drumming heart calmed, and her quivering body relaxed to solemn equanimity. A moment of peace passed between us, and then the entire hillside sheared as though it had been cut with a knife, and swept across the burning colony in seconds. The fires were quenched beneath the earth as the trees flattened and the huts disintegrated. The roar of shifting earth was deafening, but the silence that followed was somehow louder. Soft whimpers broke the still air as Willowbud collapsed to her knees in front of me. I held her to my breast and stroked her hair as she wetted my sleeve with her sorrow. I nuzzled my lips and nose into the nape of her neck and kissed her softly, trying to ease her anguish.

“She wanted me to hurt,” Willowbud cried. “She knew it would be easier to get to me.”

“She’s gone, Willowbud,” I whispered. “She can’t hurt you anymore.”

“No,” Willowbud sniffled, “she’s been behind us this whole time.”

Icy fear crept up my spine as I slowly turned my head. I’d seen astral beings before, the formless blurs that flitted aimlessly about like fireflies. This thing—this woman—was not formless. She was a sleek silhouette of a human woman with eyes that bore white irises, but black sclera. Her face was heart-shaped and decorated with almond eyes, a pointed nose, and lips that pouted and creased with a cupid’s bow, and her subtly-curved body moved with a languidness that was both seductive and unnatural. She smiled to me, and the set of white teeth she displayed contrasted her entirely-black figure.

Astrid, she said without her lips, her voice speaking softly into my mind, her words hissing with a soothing drawl, valkyrie of Iona, daughter of High Guard Freydis, bearer of the Sword of Iona. I am truly delighted to make your acquaintance.

“Don’t touch her, Corruption!” Willowbud yelled raggedly from behind me, “It’s me you want!”

Willowbud is very taken with you, Corruption smiled, stepping toward me. It would seem that the best course for me, would be to take you under my wings and let her follow in your footsteps.

I reached back for my sword as the sinuous black figure neared me. I pulled the weapon from its sheath and swiped downward in a deft practiced motion, but the blade only passed through her. She reached forward, and touched a hand to my cheek. My sword dropped from my hands, and clattered to the stone.

Oh… gods… the pleasure! A mingling of joy, sexual ecstasy and horror swelled within every inch of me. Its euphoria brought tears to my eyes, and my body to its knees. I stared up at the woman’s black eyes, looking into those promising white irises that smiled back at me.

You don’t have hatred, Astrid, she whispered soothingly, her voice caressing the back of my mind, but you do have ambition, and I can work with that. Your mother is the High Guard of Iona, but why should she be? Didn’t you win the sword from her? They say you won it on luck, that Freydis stumbled before she delivered the critical strike, but isn’t the warrior who keeps her footing the better swordswoman?

“Yes,” I said, my grin hurting my face, my eyes flowing with tears, “yes! I was the better warrior that day! I should be the High Guard!”

Of course you should, Corruption laughed, her agreement filling my heart with joy, we just have to get your pesky mother out of the way. How do you think we should do that?

“Kill her!” I laughed, clapping my hands in glee. “Kill her in front of everyone! Kill her so that everyone knows I was always her better!”

That sounds like a fantastic idea, Corruption smiled, kneeling so that our faces were at eye-level, and what do we do after?

“I will take Willowbud with me to Iona!” I said excitedly. “I will make love to her every night, and become pregnant with her child! I will show the world how much I love her, how devoted I am to her, how I will kill and die for her! I will help her conquer lands, I will slaughter her enemies, I will erect statues of her upon the ashes of cities we’ve razed so that all know that Astrid and Willowbud are the masters of this land! I will birth her a child, and spawn a new dynasty; an empire the likes of which the world has never seen!”

But what of the other gods, Astrid? Corruption asked, her lips nearing mine. What of the Life Giver and the Heat Bringer?

“They will bend the knee!” I laughed manically. “They will prostrate before the true god, Willowbud, or they will be crushed!”

That is an excellent plan, Corruption whispered, her lips baring no breath. I can make it happen, Astrid; all you have to do, is kiss me.

I leaned forward to accept her kiss, but I felt a familiar hand stop me. I looked over my shoulder, and saw Willowbud shaking her head. She was crying, still grieving for the weak pieces of shit she buried under a hillside. I will help you kill millions more, I thought as I looked at her. You will learn to be strong; I will help you. I turned away from my god, and parted my lips to accept the promise of Corruption. A hand of stone burst from the ground and clasped my face, pushing me backward. I screamed my objection as Willowbud intercepted Corruption’s kiss with her own lips.

WILLOWBUD

Hello, old friend, Corruption whispered in my mind. It’s been too long.

I dropped to my knees as the euphoria took hold of my body. It raced through every vein, electrified every nerve, awakened every muscle, and sank its dopamine into the darkest depths of my mind. Her lips opened against mine, and poured her sweet kiss into my mouth. I felt myself melting into her, leaning toward the promise that lay between her lips, but I resisted. I’d resisted her before, I’d cast her out before, I could do it again. She parted from our kiss, her eyes smirking into my own.

Oh, child, she chuckled, you’ve grown so much since we last saw each other. Just a year ago you were running brothels and leading street gangs, now you’re destroying colonies. What’s next, I wonder; cities? Kingdoms? Empires?

“Fuck you,” I laughed, my euphoric grimace glued to my face, “go rot in the hole you crawled out of.”

Ah, but you don’t care for that kind of power, do you? Corruption smiled, ignoring my wrath. You have a taste for something more personal… more intimate.

“You have nothing to give me,” I cried out, cackling my words through my mania, “nothing I want!”

For you, power is only as good as the people who know you have it, Corruption sighed, clasping her hands together behind my neck and smiling at me. You need to see their subservience; you need to see their awe and fear. You need to see their pain.

“You don’t know me!” I screamed, “Not anymore!”

You made such sweet love to Astrid, Corruption whispered, pressing her ethereal black body against mine, separating her thighs about my waist. You were so kind to her, so loving in the way you took her virginity. That’s not you, Willowbud; I know how you really like to treat women.

“Not me…” I said, the seduction melting into me, weakening me, “…not me….”

Yes, you, Corruption laughed softly, trailing a teasing hand through my hair, don’t deny it, not to me. I remember the things you did to your whores. I remember the things you made them do to you, and to each other. I remember the feeling it gave you, the power you lusted for. We could do those things to Astrid.

“No.…”

She is so devoted to you, Corruption smiled as she pressed her crotch to my erection, so unconditionally in love with you. She said she’d do anything for you, Willowbud, and she meant it. I know you enjoy raping women, but I think I can give you something better. It’s only a small step, after all, to go from love to slavery.

“No,” I said, the words seeming to come from elsewhere, “I don’t want to….”

Imagine her on her knees, Corruption gasped as she took me inside of her, staring up at you with eyes full of devotion, full of love. Imagine her in chains; begging you to stop, begging you for mercy; then begging you to keep going, and begging you for more. We can turn your guardian angel into your disgusting whore.

“Please….” I murmured. Corruption’s dripping heat surrounded me, her vulgar muscles consumed me, her body sunk its intoxicating warmth into my flesh.

Imagine twisting her, breaking her, molding her until she becomes the woman you want! Corruption moaned. Isn’t that your darkest desire, Willowbud? To take something beautiful and pure, and turn it into something as dark and twisted as you?

“No.…”

We both know why you are the way you are, Corruption whispered through her lust, her delicate fingers petting my hair affectionately. The woman you’re pretending to be died in that alleyway all those years ago. They broke you, they stole your innocence, they robbed you of virtue and goodness; that’s why you do it to others. That’s why you see someone as whole and pure as Astrid, and you want to make her just like you.

“…please….”

It’s why you melded with me so seamlessly, she hissed, her tongue licking across my trembling lips. I don’t judge you, Willowbud; I accept you for what you are. I love you more than anyone else ever could, because I know you to the marrow.



I didn’t respond. Words would not form in my mouth, and thoughts would not string together in my mind. Corruption’s temptation was a needle for a junkie, a bottle for a booze-hound, a pipe for an opium addict. It was the promise of self-acceptance, of a life without shame, of freedom; true freedom. The freedom from yourself. She wrapped her legs around me and embraced me like a lover, like a mother. Her kiss found its way on my lips, and her pelvis found its way to my crotch. She drew me into her vile seduction, her intoxicating cancer. I took hold of her, I lifted her weightless form, and I turned her around. I bent her over, planted my hands into the fat of her ass, and I fucked her like she knew I wanted to. Dominating, controlling, hateful. My hand came down on her ass again and again, my other hand took hold of her black hair and ripped it backward. The muscles on her back flexed in strain, the movement of her hips became desperate, her face looked up at me from the tops of her black eyes and gave me the expression I wanted. Fear, pain, pleasure. I knew she was manipulating me; I knew she was seducing me, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to hear her scream, I just wanted to hear the tones of her surrender, and she gave them to me. She screamed that sweet tenor of shame, agony and ecstasy, that harmony of weakness, of acceptance, of submission. She gave me that power; the power to make someone need something that hurt them, the power to make someone love something they hated. The power those men had over me all those years ago, when I died and was reborn in that dark Drastin alleyway.

I can make you love yourself, Corruption whispered telepathically, the sultry drawl of her mind contrasting the panicked screams of her mouth. I can make the pain go away, Willowbud. I can make you invincible to your own soul.

“Just… one… thing.…” I managed to say through my fugue state of lust and hatred, through my fog of desire and disgust.

Anything, Corruption whispered back, her mouth now sobbing and begging.

“Not… Astrid…” I said, my mouth growling and moaning, my hips slamming into her, “you… can’t… have… her!”

She won’t save you from me, Corruption said apologetically, and you can’t save her from yourself.

“NOT… HER!” I screamed, feeling the pressure in my loins reaching the boiling point.

OK Willowbud, I accept. Corruption said softly as she wailed agonized pleasure from her mouth. Welcome back, old friend.

I stopped resisting her. I gave the last of myself up, and drowned in her sweet temptation. Corrupt me, twist me, use me. Make me who I already am. I’m yours, my beautiful hatred, my twisted love, my broken soul.

ASTRID

My mind faded from Corruption’s power, and focused on the scene before me. Willowbud looked like she was trying to break the black spirit in half. Corruption’s head was forced skyward, her neck stretched backward, her chest jutted forward, her belly distended, and her back arching so vulgarly that her ass was level with her crown. This lecherous curve was anchored by the vicious pull of her hair, which strained her scalp as Willowbud sadistically yanked backward. Despite the pained position she was in, Corruption’s mouth wailed an ecstasy so intense her voice was cracking. Her black eyes bulged, her screaming lips quivered, her body swung from her pulled hair like a lecherous pendulum, smashing back and forth onto the fulcrum of her penetration as she writhed helplessly beneath the god. Willowbud fucked the astral being with inhuman speed, rippling supple flesh outward from Corruption’s battered backside. The two vibrated and writhed in a performance of violent lust that matched the animalistic symphony of their mouths. Sadistic growls mixed with pained screams, snarls mixed with whimpers, laughs mixed with sobs. Their connected forms accelerated into a blur of jiggling flesh, flailing hair and spraying fluids. They moved faster and faster, harder and harder, driving their hate-fueled joining into a brutal crescendo that built and built until it reached its soprano note, and the two vibrated upon the paralytic precipice, stuck in a moment of primal intensity that held them in rigid stasis. Then, they came. They came violently, screaming with throes of release that wracked their forms into a splay of powerless flaccidity. Corruption’s arms and legs gave out, and she collapsed to her stomach. Willowbud dropped to her knees in euphoria, and she fell upon the spirit with her cock still buried. The two panted and heaved in the last tremors of their lust, and then they kissed. A hedonistic vulgar kiss of pure avarice. Corruption stared at me from behind Willowbud’s head, and gave me a parting wink before she melted into black wisps. Willowbud drank in the misty essence of the Sentient, and then rolled to her side, and went limp.

“Willowbud?” I asked, fear tinging my words. Willowbud stayed motionless for a moment longer, and then rolled languidly to her side. The whites of her eyes were pitch-black with Corruption. They stared lazily at me, as though I were a mere passing interest, but their regard was seeped in danger. She smiled, and the nonchalant grin that stretched across her lips was as threatening as the glare of her green irises. Despair sunk its weight into my stomach, and I slumped on the ground. Willowbud had lost.

“Why the long face, Astrid?” Willowbud laughed easily as she stretched herself, cracking her neck and rolling her shoulders.

“Corruption has you,” I whimpered, feeling helpless. “You’ve melded with her.”

“I have,” Willowbud said, closing her eyes as she stretched her back, “but Corruption doesn’t own me, Astrid; she just makes me… more of myself.”

“Not the things that make you a person.”

“Are you saying I’m no longer a person?” Willowbud chuckled with a raised eyebrow.

“You’re no longer you.” I whispered. Willowbud seemed to consider that for a moment. She cocked her head and stared at the night sky, looking at the stars through the remnants of smoke.

“It occurs to me,” Willowbud mused, studying the constellations, “that I made Corruption spare you so that you could eventually save me from her.”

“How did you kill her before? Tell me, and I’ll help you do it now!”

“I killed my father,” Willowbud said nonchalantly, as though she were speaking of the weather. “He searched for me for thirteen years, and when he found me, I fucked his brains out, and slit his throat.”

I gaped at Willowbud, but she just smiled back.

“I guess it stirred a little guilt in me,” Willowbud said, “and Corruption can’t handle guilt. She tried to convince me not to care, but it didn’t work for her. I began to resist her, I began to defy her, and eventually, I cast her from myself.”

“So…” I said, my voice hushed, “…you… you have to kill me, to save yourself?”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Willowbud laughed. “I don’t care nearly enough to feel guilty about murdering you!

That hit me like a ton of bricks. My face dropped in rejection, and my shoulders slumped even more. Of course, I thought, a tear streaking down my cheek, why would I think otherwise? One day of passion doesn’t kindle love; I’m an idiot.

“Oh…” Willowbud groaned in mock consolation, “…you didn’t think I actually gave a shit about you, did you? This must sting.”

“Yes,” I said, feeling tears burning my eyes, “it does.”

Willowbud stood up and sauntered over to me. Her gait was exaggerated in its sultry nature; each step shifting a hip with lascivious grace, each motion advertising the pleasure and pain she could offer. She had changed so much. She stopped in front of my kneeling form, and beckoned my crying face to look up with a gentle hand on my chin.

“Am I still your god, Astrid?” Willowbud asked, her black eyes gleaming, her smirk crooked.

“Yes,” I said through falling tears, “always.”

“I know that I insisted you treat me as your equal,” Willowbud said, brushing away my tears with her thumb, “but I think we’ll change that. You are not my equal, Astrid; you are shit.”

“Yes,” I said, feeling numb. I had failed her. I had failed her, and I deserved this.

“I believe you have oaths to speak,” Willowbud said, trailing her caressing hand possessively along my cheek, and to my neck, “oaths that I so rudely interrupted when we first met.”

“Great Earth Former, goddess of mountains and rock; I am not worthy.” I whispered, the tears falling freely again. “As a winged-warrior of Iona, it is my sworn duty to serve you. I have oaths I must speak to you, and hope that you accept them. I am your sword, I am your shield, I am your armor. I am your watcher in the night, I am your wings in the morning. I am your—”

“You are my whore, Astrid,” Willowbud interrupted, her words a soft whisper, her hand wrapping around my throat. “You are my beast of burden, you are my toy when I want to play, and my slave when I want to work. Say it.”

“I am your whore,” I said through hushed sobs, “I am your beast of burden. I am your toy when you want to play, I am your slave when you want to work.”

“Good,” Willowbud chuckled, her hand leaving my throat, and trailing leeringly down my bust, “you said it with such conviction, but you couldn’t possibly have meant it. That’s fine for now; there will be time enough for you to learn.”

Willowbud bent until our eyes were level. I averted my gaze, no longer sure if I should prostrate reverently, or look her in the eye. I had a feeling that I would be punished no matter what I did. As if on cue, the back of Willowbud’s hand crashed into the side of my face. I spun to the ground, and lay still, uncertain if I should cower for her, or stoically accept my punishment.

“I understand that the dramatic change in our relationship is jarring,” Willowbud said from above, “but we should always see things eye-to-eye. I can’t trust someone afraid to hold my gaze; it makes me wonder what they’re hiding from me.”

She stepped over me, and then straddled across my torso. She reached forward, and caressed the red mark she’d left on my cheek. Somehow, her gentleness was more frightening than her violence, and she knew it. She grinned as I cringed away from her, and then she leaned forward, and planted a closed-lip kiss on my lips. Our eyes didn’t shut in the kiss, but connected above our pressing lips. Hers gleamed with the power she had over me, and mine quivered for the same reasons.

“It would have been a mercy to let Corruption have you,” Willowbud whispered, her lips pulling from my mouth. “It would have been so much easier for you. You would have broken willingly, enthusiastically even, but that’s no fun for me.”

“What do you want from me?” I hissed.

“We’re going to play a game, you and I,” she smiled, tracing her thumb about my trembling lips, “your goal is to save me from Corruption, and my goal is to turn you into the whore you swore to be. I am going to do things to you, Astrid; things you couldn’t imagine. In time, you may find you enjoy these things. In time, you might beg me to do them to you. I can’t wait to see what you become.”

“I will save you, Willowbud,” I said, swallowing my fear, “I will play your game, and I will win.”

“I like the confidence,” Willowbud smirked, “but Astrid, if you ever call me by my name again, I will brand your fat ass with a hot iron.”

“Yes, Your Holiness,” I replied weakly.

“‘Master’ will do nicely,” Master said, standing up, “or ‘Mistress,’ if you feel like it. We’re going to Drastin now, and I don’t really feel like having to explain my divinity to every swinging dick that overhears us.”

“Drastin?” I asked quietly, “Now?”

“Yes, now, you dumb bitch!” Mistress laughed. “You think I want to spend another fucking night in the goddamn wilderness?! I need the smell of a city, the teeming, churning mess of people living in debauched misery. I’ve been absent for too long, and that town just ain’t the same without me. I’ll introduce you to some old friends of mine; you’ll love ‘em, trust me. Well, maybe not,” Willowbud chuckled, “but they’ll definitely love you.”

I got to my feet, trembling from all that had transpired, and what was going to transpire. I picked up the rope, and began tying the harness together, my shaking fingers defying me with every knot.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Mistress asked.

“Getting your harness ready, Mistress,” I said, keeping my head bowed.

“I’m not riding in that fucking thing!” Mistress laughed, “You’re my beast of burden, Astrid, my flying-fucking-donkey, and I’m riding you barebacked. Now, turn that pretty ass around and get on your knees, or I’m buying spurs the moment we land in Drastin.”

I turned around and got on my knees, and Mistress hopped on my back and gave me an ‘encouraging’ kick in the flank. I spread my wings, and launched us into the sky. Mistress sat astride my lower back, occasionally smacking me in the ass to direct my flight, sometimes digging her heels into my ribs. Four hours later, the distant sprawl of torchlight marked the massive human capital on the horizon. Despite her brutish nature during the trip, I was not relieved for it to be over. Mistress had grand plans for me, and they were to be realized within the dark corners of this beastly city. I was terrified, exhausted and sore, but I still held a flame of resolve. I had a mission now. The mission might break me, might corrupt me, might twist and change me, but I was determined to complete it. I would save Mistress from Corruption, and return Willowbud to this world. She was my god, my purpose, and my love. I had failed all of my oaths, but I would not fail this one.

Excerpt from Arbitrus Gen’s Journal, Chapter Eight, Page Ninety-three:

My relationship with the Earth Former of my time is quite well-documented. Droktin and I grew up as adversarial friends. We had dreams of creating a grand world together. He carved out the city of his namesake from the desert floor, and I volunteered to light its furnace. The city of Droktinar would have been a monument of progress and cooperation, but it was not to be. Allegiance does strange and terrible things to people. I have stated again and again that Creators are not gods, and they are not, but that is not to say that they should be modest with their gifts. God herself deigned to give them to us, so why would we listen to the precepts of emperors and kings? Ultimately, I chose not to light the furnace of Droktinar, and historians point to that as the beginning of the rift that formed between me and my friend. They are wrong, of course. I had implored Droktin to renounce his allegiance to the empire and balance the scales of civilization. Time and time again, he would not listen to me, and so bit by bit, our friendship frayed.

If you must know, the true breaking point came years after my famous refusal. It came when I went on my pilgrimage to Hektinar. At the time, the steel city was the grandest metropolis in the world, and the beating heart of the orc empire. That was where the Life Giver, Furok, lived. He had been ensconced in secret research at the university there, and he wanted to show me what they had discovered. The orcs had brought in several Tethered Ones to assist them—most notably Perception and Wisdom, but Furok assured me that they were being kept in the dark. As foolish as Furok was, at least he had the sense not to trust Tethered Ones that he himself had not tied. In my opinion, that was the extent of his wisdom. Furok introduced me to his lead scientist: a manic incubus incapable of morals. The incubus showed me what they had found. What they had unearthed were lies; lies so dangerous, lies so profoundly evil that their very utterance would throw the world into chaos. I will not say what I saw, but I will tell you this: those in pursuit of knowledge—those so-called scientists—will go to any length to discover what they deem the truth. Any lengths. Furok and Droktin were so bold as to lay claim to their own divinity—something I would never do—but even they bowed their heads to the gods of science who sinned behind their high shining walls. I vividly remember the moment. I turned away from the incubus, and stared Droktin in the eyes.

“Do you believe this?” I asked him.

“Of course,” he said. “It is the truth.”

That was when I knew I should’ve been paying attention. That was when I knew I had wasted away precious years in my sinful romance. The Creators had committed the greatest crime they could, and in the space of a heartbeat, my friends had become my enemies. I knew what would happen, and I knew I couldn’t stop it.

1 comments

lucy.jusiReport

2021-05-05 18:04:33
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