King Sol sat at the very centre of the long table, resting above a large podium with a set of stairs on either end. With him sat six others, four on his left and two on his right.
To his right sat the Arch-Duke of Druvia, High Meister and King’s Guardian, Drew Kell. Next to Drew was the Bishop of Druvia, Saint Samael Kalashnikova, the third most powerful man in Druvia. A round man with priestly cut light-brown hair and dark green-blue eyes.
To Sol’s left then sat the four regional Dukes, who under normal circumstances would not have been around other than one, but with the approaching demonic army they and their soldiers had been called in to protect the fortress capital. A capital that was relocated into the southern region of Druvia ever since half the continent was lost.
First was Duke Darius Setsu of the northern regions, the furthest from the capital. An old man with an Asian complexion, black hair with two dyed strands of purple and light grey eyes. Second from Sol was Duchess Bell Jior of the eastern regions. A young and beautiful woman with complexly braided dark brown hair and green eyes.
Third was Duke and Elven King Ta’lai Fae’er, of the western elven owned regions of Druvia. A rather tall, pale-skinned man with pointed ears, pale blonde hair, and fierce cyan eyes.
Lastly to the very left was the southern Duke, the man who owned the regions closest to the now broken demon border. Kol Bjorn, Klein’s younger brother and superior in nobility rank. Naturally grey hair like his brother, half of it was cut short while the other half was left long and braided. His fierce blue eyes spoke of experience beyond his young age.
Standing behind the table were several others. Marquesses and Marchionesses of the land of Druvia, four standing behind each of their respective Dukes, all but Kol and Bell who had three each at the moment. A few of them were neither human nor elf, but instead stubby dwarves. Two Meisters stood behind Drew, archiving this moment to the history books. While behind King Sol stood his minister of law, minister of finance and three trusted advisors.
Before the podium was a group of more people. Standing and facing the podium while surrounded by two whole platoons of royal guards, these were the accused faction.
They all had been waiting for a few hours now, waiting for all of the accused to be gathered before this royal court. And as of now only two were still missing, Thea being showed inside by Henry and his men.
“Where is Fjorn?” Drew promptly asked seeing only the woman he knew to be the Marquis’ daughter.
“Marquis Fjorn collapsed from the strain of having his familiar severed alongside the stress of the moment.” Henry responded, “He died before medical care could be provided, his youngest, Kayle and some of their men are storing his body as we speak.”
Whispers broke out from the accused faction, surprise, confusion and bitterness filling their tones.
“Enough!” Exclaimed the Bishop, “You are before a royal and holy court. Thou shall shut up or face the axe where thou stands.” he reprimanded harshly. Nobody dared say or whisper another vowel. Samael nodded towards Thea, “My condolences Selene.”
Thea though barely reacted, her expression cold, her emotions still numb. She simply walked over to stand by the rest of the accused.
“My condolences as well, miss Selene.” Sol too said, as he scanned the accused group in its entirety. “Henry, where is Klein Bjorn?”
“Oh, I had some volunteers go fetch that one.” Henry responded with a smirk.
“Define…volunteers.” Sol added with a raised brow.
When suddenly the double wooden doors were slammed open, as a procession of Slayers walked in with a ceremonial style. Four of them in the centre dragging with a Klein wearing only his underwear, each holding either a leg or arm.
“The Slayer’s Order in its entirety, sire.” Henry then answered on que, as the Slayers stopped to stand at perfect attention. “Throw him in boys.” Henry told them.
“T-Throw!?” Klein exclaimed, abruptly the four holding him threw his body into the air like a sack of potatoes, landing at the very middle of the gathered group of would-be traitors. He groaned in pain, slowly rising to his feet when one of the others handed him his cape to cover up. Klein swiftly took it and wrapped it about himself.
“That would be everyone listed, sire.” Drew pointed out, sneering as Klein fidgeted about with the cape to cover himself. “Shall I start?”
“Yes, please do Drew.” Sol replied, as he warily glanced in between each man and woman present below.
Drew bowed politely towards the king before turning to face the accused, “Miss Selene, I shall start with you due to…circumstances.” Thea looked up at the Arch-Duke, a hollow expression. “All titles Fjorn held, Marquis of the east, Merchant’s Association founder and Druvian Ambassador to the dwarves. They have all been renounced by the acts presented to this court. You are entitled to his rank of nobility and none more, do you uptake this title?”
Thea narrowed her eyes, “I do.” she solemnly responded.
Drew glanced at Duchess Jior, “Bell?”
Bell nodded, “The girl has nothing to do with the father’s actions. I accept her taking of part of my duchy.”
“Then I announce you Marchioness Selene Thea, all lands your father once owned now fall under your name. As for the other titles, lands and resources. They shall be seized by the crown.” Drew explained sternly, “You may stand aside from the accused, Marchioness Selene. Your name is clean.” he then said.
Thea did so, walking out of the encircling soldiers as they opened a path for her to stand by Henry.
“Now, you lot.” Drew returned to the accused, “I shall begin reading out the accusations. Is there anything you wish to admit to before I do?”
“W-Will there be leniency to those that do admit? I-In theory of course.” One man said, the merchant’s guildmaster.
“In this case Fiy? No, most if not all of you are to be executed for high treachery.” Sol coldly responded, “Continue Drew.” he then told the Arch Duke. After which, despair finally began to set upon the accused, as eyes widened, expressions paled, and knees buckled.
Drew cleared his throat, “The proof of this group conspiring against the crown goes as such. Arranging of market prices over much-needed food, water, metals and other materials while blackmarket sales of fairer value were being made in between the current presence. Hiring of mercenaries using said profited funds, mercenaries who the crown previously failed to hire for the defence of Druvia due to lack of. Leaking of military operations, guard shifts and weapon storage. Weekly illegal payments of military personnel and church officials to incite violence within the capital.”
And the list went on, and on, and on. It took Drew fifteen minutes to read off the entire list, mostly due to the extensive personal accusations of many of the individuals present. Accusations that alone were worthy of public execution.
Until he arrived to the final personal accounts, “Lastly, Marquis Klein Bjorn. On the account of illegal transportation of weaponry, armour and dwarven explosives. On the account of arming potential rebels to the crown. On the account of orchestrating a would-have-been rebellion.” Drew paused, raising his gaze to stare down coldly at the baffled man. “I will not lie to you son, the rest shall be executed by the blade starting tomorrow but you…” he trailed off, glancing over at the Slayers.
“Bjorn Klein, all your titles are now forfeit. All except your title of Slayer, through which you shall be punished. By Trial of Dishonour, you will die, slowly, painfully, and consciously throughout.” Drew turned to face the now ice pale expression of Klein, “May the lord have mercy upon your soon to be very tortured soul.”
“No…” Klein mumbled, “Anything…Please anything but that!” taking mechanical steps forward as he shouted.
“Cease your begging, fool.” Kol suddenly rose from his chair, the Duke’s eyes cold as he stared down at his own brother.
“Kol…my brother please! This is unfair! I-I did none of those things! T-The federation!-” Klein continued to beg, rushing at the encircling soldiers who grabbed him before he could go further. “Let go of me! I am Marquis Bjo-”
When suddenly Kol appeared before his brother, the back of his right hand slapping through Klein’s left cheek hard enough for the sound to echo throughout the hall twice. “Do not speak my family name! Traitor!” Kol spat furiously, before reining in his temper. “You are my brother no more.” turning to give Klein his back as he held his now red wrist, “Take this criminal out of my sight.”
Kol walked back over to his seat, as the soldiers pushed Klein back into the circle. He fell to his knees, despair filling his mind while Drew continued on. “Commandant Sejein, you shall also have a personal execution. By military law you will killed by cannon fire on the northern docks for all naval personnel to see, therefore you will have to wait within prison until the demons are either dealt with, or enslave you after taking the city.”
“As for the rest of you, starting…Well, seeing as it’s almost tomorrow morning, starting in a day and a few hours there will be a stream of public executions, with your crimes clearly stated before the people. The people will be given time to…appease their frustrations, by stoning your bound bodies before your beheading is to occur.” Drew announced, “Since there is, not counting Sejein, Klein and Fjorn, twenty nine of you…Executions will occur from morning to past-noon, each day until we’re done with all of you.”
The soldiers began to round everyone up, Klein and Sejein being separated from the rest. “From tonight till tomorrow night though, you will be under the jurisdiction of the Mage clans and have appointments with their mind-flayers. Any information you still withhold, shall be promptly extracted.” Drew finished with the sentencing, lowered the stack of papers he had been reading from. “Take them away.”
The soldiers complied, forcing the accused group out of the hall. All but Klein, who got picked up by the Slayers once more. Carried like a dead calf, as he neither struggled or spoke while they carried him out the same way they carried him in.
“Hah, does this mean you’re the second most powerful man in Druvia now lord Bjorn?” A well brushed dwarf chuckled from behind where Kol sat, a Marquess.
“Hm, I only retake his lands. Everything else he earned himself, unlike I who has been given everything I own from father.” Kol responded coldly.
“And the factories on those lands? The companies he owns? What happens to those?” asked another Marchioness of his.
Kol glanced to the side, briefly looking at Drew. “They befall under the Arch Duke’s jurisdiction until they can be sold off to new investors.” He responded more quietly, “The crown has only doubled in power through this, making the church the second strongest power in Druvia followed by the eastern Duchess Jior who gains Fjorn’s lands, farms and Ambassador to the dwarves rank, when his highness comes about to regranting it. As for fourth that would be the northern Duke Setsu from his highly profitable docks and whatever his deep pockets will purchase from the Arch Duke which I am sure he will.”
Kol sighed as he stood up, “We remain where we last stood, fifth.”
“I adjourn this court and thank you all for coming to this disappointing night.” Sol announced as he stood alongside everybody else, his short frame comparable to the dwarves’. “Arch Duke Drew, Regional Dukes and Bishop Samael, I invite you to join me for tonight’s strategic meeting.” Sol then said, glancing over at Henry who did not follow after the rest of the Slayers. “General, gather the Lieutenant Generals for me if you will.”
Henry bowed politely, “I shall your highness.” he answered before rising back. “You will find one of my men waiting for you outside lady Selene. She will show you to your sister.” Henry then told Thea, who only nodded in numb response before walking over to the door. Waiting for the stream of accused to be carried out, before she herself walked out.
Thea walked through the castle’s long hallway, decorated by pleasant art she completely ignored. Slowly she walked through, slow enough that even Henry caught up and overtook her pace. The General nodding politely to her before continuing on his way, something she did not respond to.
Her heart was numb, her mind at a loss for thoughts. The death of her father too sudden, too unexpected. She was a Lady now? Incredible yet unwanted, Thea cared not for her new rank. The lingering longing for her mother who passed away only half a year before, now infused with the pain she felt for losing her father too.
It still hadn’t fully ingrained itself into her mind, the fact that he was gone.
She stepped outside of the castle, standing atop the dozen steps taking to its entrance. Thea’s gaze rose at the sudden sound of dozens of feet stomping in unison, seeing before her the entirety of the Selene crimson guard’s officers.
The Selene’s most prized possession, the most powerful mercenary group beneath the Druvian military and Adventurer’s guild in terms of strength and backing. A military power in their own right.
Thea walked past general Henry and his prepared knight, “It seems I will not need of your men, sir.” she coldly said not stopping but continuing to descend the stairs. She stopped before Droy, the crimson guard captain.
He saluted, immediately followed by the rest of his officers, all but the rank and file were present. “We await your orders, Miss.”
“Lady, as of today.” Thea corrected, making it clear to Droy that this was unnecessary.
This, their very presence making it clear to Thea that what she vehemently wished were lies, were indeed truth. Her father was a traitor, Droy probably prepared to invade the very castle to extract their now commander in chief.
Mainly though as she noticed that none of the officers wore their daily uniform, but instead full crimson plate armour, weapons and other dwarven utilities that came with. Utilities provided by the Bjorn corporation. They were dressed for combat, wielding equipment purchased off another traitor.
“Selene, before I forget.” Henry then called out, gaining himself a brief glance. “Due to inconsistencies with the contract you signed on joining the military, mainly due to now owning a mercenary group. Your rank as Colonel within the Druvian military, is forfeit. Your sister Kayle, if she wishes to stay, is to be promoted to Major. Tell her that for me, won’t you?” he said before turning away and leaving alongside his knights.
“Take me to him.” Thea said, turning to face the crimson guard. “Take me to my father.” She coldly told them, finding it strangely easy to retain an empty expression.
Droy slowly dropped the salute, “As you wish, Lady Selene.” he politely responded. His officers stepped aside, breaking into two groups and allowing Droy to walk to the front where Thea followed him through.
They turned about and began to walk with, a formation around their captain and commander, movements that were made natural to them no matter the rank. The group walked through the city’s lamp-lit streets, nighttime long having fallen upon them. Little to no citizens walked about, only the homeless, late transports and city guard moving about.
Thea watched the dim city from behind the trained guards that escorted her, yet it gave her no sense of safety, no sense of warmth. Her heart was cold, her emotions drifting with dread and loss. A chilly breeze blew by them several times, but she barely felt its light frost before her own.
Then something appeared within her, a sudden warm flame that pulled towards one specific direction. A direction that kept changing, until she glanced up at it. She looked up at the moonlit rooftops, her eyes glossed over a brief shadow while she herself continued to walk
The shadow moved at first with great speed, before abruptly stopping several roofs ahead, now materializing into a person’s silhouette. They were cloaked yet the moonlight reflected the white armour beneath, their long snow-white and braided hair that snuck out from behind their hood glistened as well.
Also as the moon’s light met their eyes, they glowed a dim, beautiful gold. Entrancing Thea as she stared. Thea felt a connection with this being, a strange bond that only intensified when their eyes met. Like lightning surging, filling her body with energy like it had once before.
Like it had when she first pledged to Erik.
Then suddenly the being’s form burst into shadows once more, continuing on its way over the city’s rooftops. Followed by the even more sudden appearance of too many more shadows than Thea could count, within the brief seconds that she did noticed them. Hundreds at least, a wave of smoky darkness that disappeared just as quickly into the night.
And with it the surge of energy went, causing her to stop in her steps.
“Milady what’s the matter?” Droy asked, the entire formation stopping with her.
“Golden eyes…” Thea mumbled as she still gazed at the now empty rooftops.
“Darks?!” Droy exclaimed, gripping his blade and turning to follow her gaze.
“It’s gone.” Thea then said, snapping out of her daze.
Droy scanned the rooftops briefly, “Better to keep moving Lady Selene, the capital is not safe at night.” he said while still gripping his blade’s hilt.
“Yes, let’s go.” Thea agreed, continuing to move alongside her escorts. Contemplating, (“Were those really Xilfir? Why…did it feel like that?…I hope Erik is not too uncomfortable in that cell…”) as they walked.
Moments later, somewhere else outside the capital.
Klein was carried off into the dark woods, the ceremony of Slayer’s Dishonour too gruesome a torture to be done within holy walls. Now being dragged by his arms, bare-backed and stripped completely naked while the rocky earth cut and bruised him.
He would’ve screamed at the pain, but the Slayers would simply punch him in the jaw again as they had every time he made a noise. They walked several minutes away from the city walls, possibly so his screams would not reach the commoner’s ears.
Until finally reaching a large opening in the forest, flattened other than the fenced-out hill in the centre. The group of three dozen or so Slayers lost their formation, moving to stand at attention to the side. All but eight of them, two who dragged Klein with and six who herded six goats into the pen over the hill.
Klein could only watch in despair as he was dropped onto a plate of stone, carved with a runic circle for ritual casting. He dared not move, having given up on life long before the torture even began. The stories of this ceremony enough for him to do so.
The two Slayers that had carried him then stood with eyes closed and palms together on either side of him, chanting while a third began drenching Klein and his surroundings with blood. “Surge through the juice of life, corrupt and reform. Opposing energies collide, conflict…Lightning School, Torturous Voltage!”
The two spoke the spell, then suddenly the magic circle lit up violet. Electricity surged from the runes, filling Klein’s body with agony beyond his imagination. He felt his skin being scorched off, the electrocution so powerful that not a hair or patch of skin remained on his body’s surface after the brief seconds of activation.
The spell cancelled before regeneration could kick in, the three Slayers now heaving Klein up in-between them as he lay limp, screaming his heart out.
They carried him off the plate of blood-soaked stone, over to another plate closer to the pen. They laid him down while five other Slayers brought in a wooden tub full of salt. One of the Slayers crouched before the tub, laying his hand over it he cast a quick charm. Causing the large pile of salt to melt and turn into a jell-like white liquid.
Three of them, different this time. Heaved him up once more, although he barely felt their hands over his burning surface. Still screaming from the electrocution, his screams rose to an even higher pitch when his flayed body touched the salty substance.
The Slayers laid him into the tub, causing the man to suddenly begin to struggle. Wiggling and lashing about, Klein lost his mind entirely from the sheer agony that plagued his body. Before being turned over like a pancake, drowned into the jell where his screams briefly paused and were replaced with bubbling.
Seconds after the Slayers raised him out of the jell, now fully covered in the substance. They held him there as the one that cast the charm over the salt came to stand before Klein’s head, hovering his right palm over while chanting once more. “Imbue with body, formulate through this substance what was, Golemancy School; Create Skin!”
Suddenly Klein coughed violently, having inhaled some of the jell he puked it out before screaming out once again. As the jell thinned out all over his body, condensing, changing into what was just flayed off.
The salty jell became his skin, with constant contact to his flayed flesh underneath while also regenerating all of his sense of touch throughout his body.
The other Slayers watched in horror, even the ones carrying him faltered. This hadn’t been done in a long time. “Continue.” Then ordered the one that was casting the spells, an officer of the order. And so they did, carrying the viciously agonized man over to the pen, struggling to keep hold of him.
When they reached the fence though, one on the front accidentally dropped Klein by losing grip over his left arm. Klein’s head fell into the dirt, but his screams did not pause, not by a moment as his throat slowly grew sore. Only stopping to take short, deep and pained breaths before screaming once more.
The clumsy Slayer picked Klein’s arm back up and continued after their officer who opened the fence’s gate for them.
They carried him inside, the six goats rushing away from the screaming madman. The officer closed the gate before the goats escaped, then followed the four carrying Klein. They took him to the centre of the short hill where a log of dark metal lay, connected to the ground through some dwarven mechanism on one end.
They lay Klein face up over the log, all four of them holding him down while the captain came to stand on one side.
Grabbing Klein’s left hand he slammed it into a long nail on the log’s side, piercing the hand in place all the way through. Slowly, loudly and very bloodily, he did so to his other hand and both legs. Klein’s screams rising with each limb, though slowly his throat grew sore, his mind tired.
The Slayers let go of Klein after the officer had secured each nail with a wide bolt fastener, stopping him from freeing either limb.
All five of them then stepped away, leaving Klein to whimper and cry as he lay over the cold metal log, the sizzling pain that covering his body a constant. Four of the Slayers climbed over the fence but the officer stayed inside, unsheathing his dragonscale longsword while raising his free palm towards the restrained Klein.
“Beastiary School; Honey Attraction.” He quickly chanted the simple spell, as a wisp of green smoke shot towards Klein. The green mist briefly surrounded his body, but quickly faded away. Seemingly doing nothing to him, but the goats that were inside the pen with him were a whole different story.
They lost their s*** entirely, rushing over to the restrained and naked man.
And once they reached him they began to…Lick him. Feet, legs, arms, hands, face…They licked him all over, his screams having subsided to groans of pain now joined with outbreaks of reactionary laughter as their tongues tickled his now highly sensitive artificial skin.
“Raise mechanism.” The officer chanted, causing the dwarven machinery to activate. Slowly the log began to rise to one side, raising Klein to standing as the goats continued to lick him.
Gripping his sword tightly, the officer then walked back over to Klein, staring him right in the eyes as he groaned and laughed. “Before the Order, Slayer Klein. With this blade, I absolve you of your sins.” The man said, before suddenly stabbing his sword into Klein’s gut.
Klein’s eyes though could not widen further, his expression only briefly pausing as blood gushed out of his mouth. Yet he continued to laugh, his mind broken by hysteria.
Klein laughed hysterically.
Klein then froze.
As the officer’s head was lobbed off before his very eyes.
He watched with horrified eyes, yet continuing to laugh. As Slayers were cut down left and right, their blood splattering over the forest opening floor as crooked white blades sliced by. Held by strings of raw lightning the blades flew in and out of the forest shadows, hundreds of them flying by. Not one clashing with another, the strings of lightning sparking briefly as they passed through each other with ease.
Within moments and without even what could be considered a struggle much less a fight, the entire Order of Slayers lay dead or bleeding out on the ground.
Klein, barely clinging on to life as he continued to chuckle then groan in pain, watched as the shadows moved out of the forest. Materializing into black cloaked men and women of greyish purple skin, wearing bright white plate-armour and dragon-shaped helmets.
The hundreds of Dark Elves spread out through the opening, stabbing to death any Slayer that remained alive.
“Collect the armour and weapons, then extract their hearts while collecting as much blood as you can carry.” Ordered a deep, crackling voice from behind him.
Erik appeared out of Klein’s left field of view, walking in casually and causing the chuckling mess to whimper. The goats were still viciously licking him, which was slowly turning painful too.
“Well well, we meet again Slayer. Or are you not one anymore? I’m not sure how your fate works yet, well…How it used to work, seeing as I’m eradicating it.” Erik said with a cold sneer, flicking his long white sleeves as he turned to fully face the mental wreck that was Klein. “Now I was going to give each and every one of you a slow, torturous death for daring to wear my brethren’s skin as clothing but…Truly this display took even my appetite away.”
Erik chuckled as he watched the goats lick away at Klein’s salted skin, “I must admit though, creative if anything.” his amused gaze rose back to meet the man’s eyes causing him to whimper once again. “Now I imagine this would take several more hours before you die of blood loss, but I cannot take the chance of you being found alive, nor do I have the time to waste watching you die.”
Erik raised his right palm towards Klein’s face, “There must be a merciful god watching over you, Klein.” He said when suddenly a small explosion occurred before his hand. The goats scattered at the sound, more blood now dripping down Klein’s limp body as everything from his shoulders up was incinerated.
“Master~” said Makaela in elven as she appeared in a burst of shadows, leaning into Erik’s back. Her breasts squashed in-between them as she laid her arms over his shoulders and tied them across his chest.
“What is it.?” Erik snapped back in elven, growing tired of this one’s extreme affection.
“Not including this one’s suit, which was carried with by the Order. There are still two missing~” Makaela reported as she giggled at his tone, sensually caressing his chin with her right hand while also moving her left across his chest.
“Who’s missing?” Erik asked less sternly, not entirely disliking the physical contact.
“General Henry Kolbert’s black dragon set and~” She began while moving her right hand up his cheek and opening her mouth around his left ear, “The white dragon set of Alan the immortal hero-”
Yet before she even had time to finish her sentence, less so sexually bite his ear. Makaela was suddenly thrown back, due to the explosion of raw mana that burst out of Erik’s body. She tumbled back through the air but expertly landed into a kneel, raising her gaze to see Erik’s entire form surging with bright blue sparks of lightning.
“Did you just say…Alan?” Erik asked, his draconic voice completely unleashed over the entire area, causing each Xilfir to suddenly fall to their knees before it. The fury, hatred and excitement that filled his tone, every bit of it clear to their sensitive ears.
Makaela had to admit, never in her century and a half of elven life has she ever felt hornier…
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