"I am not sure I understand fully... Perhaps the matters of us Demons are too different from yours? I promise you I will strive to understand such decision making.", Lapis flat out lied to the man before her.
The Marquess seemed to accept her promise and moved to sip his tea. Lapis observed the man's motions carefully trying to judge his state of affairs. His complexion was slightly pale and the subtle shaking of the tea cup as it traveled from the saucer to his lips suggested the level of anxiety he was currently in. She felt the time had come to poke the bear further.
"Marquess Tabor. The night is quickly approaching. How do you feel about a bit of entertainment?"
"Yes. Although we may appear to have been together for an extended time, Hiiro and myself are rather new to each others company. He once told me about his skills with the sword, however I have yet to see it myself. May I request a teaching duel for him with Sir Coorid?"
Plastered across her face was the sweetest and most innocent of smiles yet her aura expressed an overwhelming pressure that refused denial. Unable to understand where the pressure bearing down on him was coming from, the Marquess acquiesced.
"Wh-what a wonderful idea, Empress Fardom! Sir Coorid, prepare the training area. I could also use some entertainment."
Although hesitant, the young Knight accepted the order and left the room. Upon his return, he held a sheathed sword in his hand. Hiiro and the Knight locked eyes in mutual understanding. Rising from his seat, Hiiro moved to the Knight accepting the spare sword without a second thought and followed him out the door to the sparring ground. As they left the visitors room, Marquess Tabor stood from his seat and requested Empress Fardom's hand.
"Shall we move to the box seats, Empress Fardom?"
While lightly giggling, Lapis extended her hand to the Marquess.
"By all means, Marquess Tabor."
Along the outskirts of Profectus City near the South Eastern exit lay a series of businesses know primarily for their sexual services. The abundance of shops offered competing levels of service at proportional prices. Of the cheaper stores available, hybrid shops that served alcohol and provided a room for the night along with accompaniment tended to be the most popular amongst the mercenaries and criminals residing in the city. Within a particular establishment, a group of six men were nearly three pints deep each into a liquid dinner. Each held an older woman around the waist and flirted aggressively until they were interrupted by a slamming noise.
Staggering through the entrance of the establishment, the new comer tripped over himself stumbling into the men sitting at the table. It was clear by his staggered walking that the man had drunk more than his share. He fumbled around until he could no longer stay on his feet and his rapidly paling countenance signaled the women at the table to leave. Unable to contain himself any longer, the man spewed the contents of his stomach across the table ruining the jovial atmosphere, the provided food, and dirtying each of the celebrating men. Their clothes, now stained with bile and alcohol, immediately began reeking and sobered them up. As their anger flared over his actions, the teetering man managed somehow to stagger across the room and tumbled through the entrance he originally entered from.
"Fucking get him!"
Chasing after him, the men rushed the exit with dozens of eyes following after them. Each of those eyes were worried for the young man who slighted the group, though no one dared to chase after him as assist. The men who left were well known in the area and their backer was far too powerful for a simple commoner or mercenary to get involved with. Outside the establishment, the men looked around for the drunken fool who ruined their celebration only to catch a brief glimpse of him rounding a corner in the distance. Trailing after him, they entered the shaded alleyway only for the man to completely disappear from their view. Searching for him, they ended up kicking cans and shattering glass bottles against the wall in frustration. As they concluded they lost their prey, the men decided to leave the site and return to the tavern when an innocent voice called out to them.
"Are you boys looking for a bit of fun? I know I'm a bit lonely..."
Turning around to face the source, they found a tanned woman resting against the side of the alleyway corner. Her hand slowly caressed the side of the wall as she continued to invite the men with her alluring body. Her hips slowly arced to lure them further.
"If it's only the six of you, I'm sure we could find something... fun to do."
She left behind a seductive smile and dragged her hand elegantly across the wall while she turned to leave the men behind. She rounded the corner leaving their sights and forced them to make a momentary decision. Blinded by their unfulfilled lust and inhibited from the gross alcohol consumption, they dismissed any obvious suspicion and chuckled to themselves while jogging to catch up with the woman. As they rounded the corner of the intersection, each member suddenly collapsed to the ground. Unable to react in time, they fell atop each other in a pile. Groans of pain escaped from the men at the bottom of the pile, but those at the top had their sights distracted by something else entirely.
They glanced back at what tripped them only to be met by the odd sight of their shoes stuck on the ground in place. Unable to understand how their shoes left their feet, they tried to stand up only to fall over once again. The vast alcohol numbed the pain somewhat, but the gradual stinging sensation slowly etched itself into their awareness. Dropping their sights to their legs, they were unable to see their feet anywhere. Instead, spurts of blood escaping from a near perfect flat plane washed over the scene. The men were unable to accept the situation and attempted to stand once more thinking it was their imagination of the alcohol playing tricks on them, yet after stumbling a few more times the horror of their situation dawned on them. As the panic took control, the men mostly began screaming and crawling away from the site. Those who stayed behind appeared to try and reattach their foot to their leg without any luck. That same innocent voice called out once more to the men.
"Do you need help? You look hurt!"
"What do you fucking think! Go fucking get help!"
"Wha... why? Why the fuck ya think you dumb broad!?"
The head of the man who yelled out suddenly left his body. His torso dropped to the ground twitching slightly. The men who watched the entire scene felt an indescribable fear towards the woman. They watched her nails slowly recede from their extended state as she walked over the first corpse. Her smile gradually stretched along her face until the innocence warped into something sinister. Driving by their fear, the men tried to stand once again only to stumble over their fresh stumps. The pools of blood quickly collected across the ground drenching the site. The woman continued her pursuit of each crawling man, decapitating each of them in a playful manner.
"Zirco, this group is ready as well."
"I understand. Please continue to the next site."
"I can hardly wait."
The giddy laugh that escaped the woman's mouth belied the bloodbath surrounding her. As she left the site, Zirco got to work removing each body. Before he left, he didn't fail to mimic the screams of one of the slaughtered men to attract attention to the location. After leaving the scene, Zirco tossed a golden coin to an oddly dressed man from the slums. His attire was clearly in better shape than the rest of his body, yet if one looked closely enough, they would realize it was the same man who barged into the tavern earlier.
"What a wonderful view this is!"
"I'm glad you like it. I had this constructed especially so I could watch duels at leisure."
Taking her seat, Lapis couldn't help but slightly admire the construction of the viewing box. Their seating consisted of plushy red chairs lined with a metallic silver thread. The two cushions forming the back rest and slip seat appeared freshly washed. As she leaned back into the chair, the splat reinforcing the back rest pushed back against her offering a rigid support to help ease the pain of long seating. Lapis traced the outline of the seating area taking notes for the future if she ever built her own version of it. The box seating was attached to the backside of the mansion, jutting out over the outer sidewalk and provided a clear view of a large barren field no more than thirty meters away from them. Beside her, the Marquess sat down as well while eying the competitors currently walking onto the field.
"Empress Fardom, who do you believe will win?"
"It is only proper to support your own."
"Is that right? Does he stand a chance?"
"He is far stronger than I, though I would never tell him such things directly. Excessive ego is detrimental to one's growth."
"He's stronger than you? I find that an incredible claim... Did you not repulse the Demon Lord's General by yourself?"
"Oh, I apologize for misleading you. It is more accurate to say he is stronger than I in pure martial skills."
Turning her head lightly to meet the astounded gaze of the Marquess head on, Lapis broke into a bright smile while finishing her statement.
"I am simply cheating with my overly powerful magic. If I were ever to compete in a demonstration of martial skill, that boy would crush me, I am sure."
She returned her gaze to the area where the two combatants had taken their respective starting positions. Between them, another Knight acted as referee and verified their states before starting his countdown. As she listened to the countdown, Lapis' expression gradually sharpened. Sensing the change next to him, Marquess Tabor turned his attention to the woman seated beside him. He felt she was suddenly clad in an invisible shielding of fire and ice.
"Marquess Tabor. I hear from the rumors that you rather enjoy watching... aggressive... shows. Do you believe a simple tutoring spar such as this will sate you?"
Unable to comprehend her words entirely, Marquess Tabor returned as well as he could in his shaken state.
"I'm not entirely sure what you mean, but seeing two people engage each other has always been one of the highest forms of entertainment."
"Is that so?"
The curious response only confused the Marquess further, but the woman had already returned her focus to the arena before them. Reaching the end of his count, the referee dropped a knife hand and quickly distanced himself from the duel. The two combatants started circling each other maintaining a cautious distance. The slow movements and slight adjustments of their weapons easily displayed the internal battle between them. As he observed his opponent, Hiiro compared his stance against Sir Coorid and constantly measured his steps. Sensing the perfect stride length and distances between him, Hiiro kicked off his heel charging into Sir Coorid while keeping his blade low.
"May I ask you if the frequent disappearances of women during the previous skirmishes can be attributed to you?", Lapis suddenly asked in an uninterested tone while she watched the initial engagement.
Whipping his blade up from the ground, Hiiro broke Sir Coorid's defensive posture sending him back a couple steps. Refusing to allow the broken defense any time to recover, he pressed off the ground and continued his aggressive push forcing Sir Coorid to back peddle while attempting to recover his posturing.
"I advise you not to pursue this line of questioning, Empress Fardom. It could easily be taken as attempted character assassination."
Taking advantage of an over aggressive push, Sir Coorid tumbled forward allowing Hiiro's blade to freely pass above him. As he recovered his stance, he rushed back into the fight taking advantage of the opening left by Hiiro's swing. He swung down only to meet an awkwardly positioned blade that deflected his sword to the side. Refusing to allow his opponent's weak stance a chance to correct itself, Sir Coorid applied a series of lighter strikes.
"Oh, I had not known a simple question could be misconstrued as such. Thank you for your concern and advise. Will you answer my question anyhow? I am quite curious."
Accepting the light strikes against his angled blade, Hiiro deflected each strike to the side showering the scene in sparks with each block. As he accepted the final strike, he quickly closed the small gap between the two swordsmen driving the base of his handle into the chest plate of the Knight. Sir Coorid stumbled backwards off balance but quickly recovered himself. The two slowly began circling each other once again looking for any opening they could exploit.
"I've never taken what isn't mine, if that's what you're asking."
"Is that to mean those living in Profectus belong to you?"
Sensing the slightest shift in Sir Coorid's balance, Hiiro projected himself forward once more with blade held high. He closed the potential four meter separation nearly instantly surprising Sir Coorid who was forced to react entirely off instinct. The blocked blow drove the Knight's knee into the ground, but he deflected it to the side and rolled away regaining his stance.
"Who else do they belong to? It's the duty of us Nobles to lead them properly since they belong to us."
Following after the Knight, Hiiro extended his blade but had it deflected once again. The sparks showered across the arena once more as the two exchanged a series of strikes and slashes. The ebb and flow of the exchange appeared equal as they continued the dance of death. As if trading roles periodically, one would step back and take a defensive posture while matching steps to the aggressor before rotating their roles and pressing an attack with quick, returning, steps.
"I would imagine the life of an individual belongs to that being itself... Well, not that I can talk I suppose. I am just as guilty.", she replied with a wry smile as Zirco's figure flashed across her mind.
"I'm curious where this line of questioning suddenly came from."
Accepting a sharp blow to the side of his sword, Sir Coorid utilized the momentum to rotate his body landing a kick straight into Hiiro's sternum. Bracing his rotating body, the Knight resumed his defensive posture as he watched his opponent flip over himself. With the natural strength of his legs and balance, Hiiro kicked his legs up to right himself once more eliminating any opening he otherwise would have had. The two stared each other down once again. They circled each other for a third time analyzing every smudge of dirt across the skin and dent in armor. Even the slightest bruise could potentially slow their opponent's reaction and so they planned internally their next steps based off those observations.
"I am quite confident you kidnapped that Countess' maidservant. I saw it myself, so I do not believe I am wrong. May I ask why? Is she not your fiance?"
Hiiro lowered his body and lunged forward, striking his sword near the base of the Knight's body armor. Meeting him straight on, the Knight swung his sword with a single hand to deflect the strike to the side. His free hand grasped what clothing he could around Hiiro's torso and tossed the young man over his shoulder. Soaring through the air, Hiiro utilized the experience he gained from Lapis during their game of tag through the woods to calmly manipulate his center of gravity. Regaining control of his body mid air, Hiiro rotated and landed on his feet sliding slightly before accelerating back into battle. He quickly slashed at the Knight's leg and used the recoil from each failed strike to rotate around and strike from the opposite side. The aggressive push surprised the Knight as he never expected the young man to maintain such a low posture while continuing such an aggressive series of strikes.
"Countess Sugimoto might be my fiance, but she has far too much pride. Her lack of awareness is troubling to me. She is a Countess, yet she treats her servants as friends and wields her authority from the wrong people. My little prank this time should help clear out that useless pride and push a little bit of awareness into her."
"The maid's life held no value in of and of itself?"
"Of course not. Sir Delphi might have been useful as a Knight, but Lady Delphi was merely a maidservant. Such a person should be grateful she was used to teach her Master a lesson."
Sir Coorid managed to deflect a low strike and reverse the momentum of the fight. He pressed into Hiiro who abandoned his low posture assault only to retire into a defensive retreat. He deflected each strike with slight angles allowing Sir Coorid's strikes to glance of his sword. Each glance brought shards to the slowly dimming environment. The winter sun edged towards the horizon extending the shadows of each combatant across the field and highlighting their visage to the spectators.
"Marquess Tabor, are you familiar with the Art of War?"
"As much as any noble, why?"
Lapis smiled as she saw Hiiro finally completed his preparations.
"I am ashamed to admit I was ignorant of such teachings. Although my life up to this point has been littered by gifts delivered from the Goddess of War herself, I always managed to pull through using my overwhelming advantage in mana control. I recently suffered a great loss because of that over reliance and short sightedness. Luckily for me, I happened across a gentleman who appears to excel in such areas."
The Marquess followed the sharp gaze of the Empress. His sights landed on the young man fighting against Sir Coorid in the arena. Their match appeared to be reaching its climax. Lapis maintained her gaze and continued her curious monologue.
"In the short time I have had with that gentleman, I have slowly learned that such deep thoughts are capable of changing the world regardless of how powerful any particular entity is. Just as you advised me earlier, Marquess Tabor. It is now my turn to advise you. Preparation is one of two keys to obtaining victory against an overwhelmingly powerful opponent. Execution is another. If your preparation is perfect, yet your execution is sloppy, you are destined to be ensnared by someone else's scheme. This match will serve a good lesson in the importance of both keys. Please watch as your treasured Knight forfeits this battle."
Her words somehow haunted the Marquess. He felt she was talking about multiple subjects at the same time, but he was unable to discern any of them beside the obvious. He directed his attention once more at the two combatants and observed them for a moment before he noticed something was wrong. His expression twisted slightly and he caught the smile of the woman next to him grow slightly wider. She hardly contained her excitement as she explained the situation.
"'How?' I can practically feel the question echoing through your mind. You have noticed Sir Coorid's movements I take it? They have slowed greatly and his reaction time has fallen, yet he hardly appears tired. So then why has his condition deteriorated throughout this fight? Would you believe Hiiro had planned such an outcome since he first saw your Knight? It is surprising, no?"
"I find that hard to believe. We only met in person this morning."
"Formally, yes. However, though you may not have noticed, I was present in the good Countess Sugimoto's estate upon your arrival earlier this week. I happened to witness your grand display from the second floor."
"You spied on us?!"
"Hardly. You merely ignored my existence."
"It is fine. I take no offense. My visit was sudden for the good Countess as well. Regardless of my reasons for being there however, Hiiro was beside me and was able to take a good look at your proud Knight. It was quite a surprise when he later told me how easy it would be to defeat him. I know this may sound strange, but Hiiro's sword skills are lack luster at best. He does try his best to improve, but sadly, I have yet to find him a formal teacher. When I asked him how he could do such a thing when such a vast difference in skills exist, he only laughed at me."
"A servant... laughed at you?", asked the Marquess with a bewildered look.
"Oh yes. He is quite the tease. When I pressured him, he only said I would understand if I watched them fight. When I met you earlier today, I felt the moment was ripe to see such a thing, and I must admit, he does surprise me. Have you noticed how strong your Knight is, Marquess Tabor?"
"Well, obviously... That's why I hired the man."
"That strength of his is also a weakness. Did you know, Marquess Tabor, that the simple act of being overweight by a short five kilograms increases the force on your knees by almost twenty kilograms? Hiiro is much smaller than Sir Coorid, but that also means he has far less stress on his joints. Have you noticed the pace of the fight has been slowly increasing since the start?"
As he looked back onto the scene, the frantic exchange of slashes, dodges and blocks continued without pause.
Hiiro rarely blocked a strike completely and instead chose to deflect the strikes away from his body. Every swing he diverted forced Sir Coorid to expend effort and halt the blade itself before repositioning it for the next strike. Every strike he attempted caused searing pain to shoot through both his elbows and shoulders. When absorbing the impacts of Hiiro's strikes, he was forced to block them outright and constantly twist his torso to realign his stance with his opponent. Recently, every turn he made sent scathing pain through his knees and hips. Although Coorid wasn't losing in the exchange, he felt he wouldn't be able to continue the fight much longer.
Hiiro sped himself up further knowing his opponent was nearing his limit. His swings were becoming dull and his movements were starting to shallow, even a novice in swordsmanship like himself could see openings appear across the Knight's posture. He chose to end the fight in the next strike and accelerated himself to his natural limit rushing to the side of Sir Coorid. Seeing the maneuver, the Knight attempted to turn and received the blow properly, yet his body gave out. His knees suddenly went weak and he fell to his side. His confusion at his body's defiance to his will slackened his attention for only a moment, but within that moment, a blade was now against the side of his throat.
"A-amazing... I surrender, Sir Hiiro."
The young man released his stern expression and smiled lightly. He dropped his sword and reached a hand out to the large Knight to assist him back to his feet. In the viewing box, a certain Marquess was standing at his seat from the sudden close to the match. While he was watching the young man Hiiro assist his Knight from the ground, the two suddenly leaned together as if to hug followed by his Knight holding a strange expression, seemingly surprised at something. The woman beside him slipped out a slight giggle.
"This was very entertaining. I thank you for the display, Marquess Tabor."
"I-It's my pleasure, Empress Lapis..."
Although he managed to perform an immaculate bow portraying every ounce of noble blood inside him, Lapis was able to clearly feel the humiliation exuding from his personage. She reached her hand out and placed it against the bowing man's cheek raising his face to meet her gaze. Her giddy expressions were completely replaced. Staring through him were a pair of sharp azure eyes that drew his very soul into them. From the dainty mouth that coupled those eyes, the woman offered her last words.
"As things are, and as fundamentally they must always be, laws of man are not an absolute, but instead a subjective criticism of behavior. Such laws are forever vulnerable to amelioration, but such actions often necessitate a symbol of purity becoming defiled. I really must thank you, Marquess Tabor. I predict your actions may just have changed the world."
Lapis released the man from her gaze and moved to meet back up with Hiiro while leaving the stunned Marquess behind. As she passed through the box seat exit, two messengers frantically ran past her to deliver news to the Marquess. Although she was a fair distance away from him, his panicked shout easily reached her ears. She continued along her path with a delicate smile and sharp glint in her eyes.
Under the ever watching eye of the lunar bulb, dozens of men loaded a series of carriages under the silver moonlight. Their quickened breaths fogged with each exhale and their attire was designed for a long travel. Each of the coachmen were prepping the horses for the journey, brushing their sides to calm them and feeding them snacks as the carriages gradually gained weight. At the entrance to the estate, Marquess Tabor exited in a hurried fashion. He was wrapped in dense layers of clothing and wore a thick orange fox pelt as a coat. He quickly approached a lightly loaded carriage and smacked the side of the door repeatedly.
"Hurry it up! We don't have much time! We need to leave as soon as possible and report to the King!"
Heading the words of their Master, the men quickened their pace further. Some stumbled while carrying the luggage, yet the Marquess overlooked their blunders. His face was pale and it was clear to the Knights that something was wrong, however it wasn't their place to ask someone of status what was worrying them and so they only focused on their work in an attempt to appease him.
Sliding into the main cabin of the carriage, Marquess Tabor closed the door hoping to retain what heat he could inside the cabin. He rubbed his hands together and blew hot air through them with a distracted mind. He could still vividly remember the worlds of Empress Fardom before she left and those words somehow struck him with an uncanny fear. Throughout the day, he learned the men he had contracted for dirty work were slowly being eliminated one by one. Just after the Empress left him, he found out an entire group of his men were completely slaughtered. Even an idiot would realize they were being hunted at that point. He continued to rub his hands together, warming them up with a combination of friction and the warmth of his breath, yet his cabin seemed to only grow colder.
"Master, Everything is loaded!"
"Quickly, let's go!"
The men quickly loaded themselves onto the extra vehicles and the coachmen took their positions at the front of each carriage. The thwacks of a whip resounded and each carriage was tugged into motion by a pair of horses. Their gallops echoed through the empty alleys along with every subtle pothole stomped onto by the carriage wheels. The group quickly exited through the South East entrance of Profectus City. In their rush, no one in the group bothered to announce their suspicions about the readily opened gates and instead became relieved at the lackluster defense of the night patrol. Behind them, a pair of crimson eyes tracked them until their caravan disappeared into the wood line path.
"I understand. Take your time."
The woman smiled broadly before falling over the edge of the wall. Her figure plummeted to the ground, yet landed without eliciting even the slightest of noises. She slowly started bounding as she internally tested the limits of her limbs. As she became accustomed to her new speed, she quickened her pace and continued to repeat the process until her visage became a blur and vanished into the woods. Extending his wings, Zirco launched himself from the wall and took himself high into the sky to watch the woman's progress and eventually report her state back to his Master.
Moving through the woods with an extreme agility, Ruby executed turns impossible for a normal human dodging trees and debris with minimal margins. Her movements rarely touched the forest floor and instead utilized the dense trees of the forest as footholds to kick off from. Although she was progressing rapidly, Ruby felt her body could be pushed further, but knew the dense woods was a poor location to attempt such feats. Her body heated up as she traveled and her eagerness to meet the man who watched her die for pleasure extinguished any inhibitions she might have otherwise had.
Luckily, she didn't have to wait long as the sounds of hoofs on packed dirt and the squeaks of moist steel rubbing against wet wood reached her ears. Her excitement grew further, flushing her face and bolstering her blood flow. The cold environment no longer felt cold to her and instead her senses locked in entirely on the group ahead of her. Darkness faded the color from her vision leaving only a stenciled outline of veins flowing through the creatures before her. Although her sight was filtered, she was somehow still aware of obstacles in front of her, dodging them with a hairs breadth. Extending a hand to a nearby tree, she flung herself onto the main path, lowered her torso and accelerated further.
Her sights were entirely locked onto the men inside the slowest carriage. The wooden lining of the walls failed to inhibit her sight as she could see every vein they carried and every expansion and contraction of their heart. The sight somehow hungered her. She closed her distance with them and leaped onto the back of the vehicle grasping at the luggage to maintain her footing. Her hands felt for holds and her body slowly edged to the roof of the cart. Without alerting the men inside, she drove her elongated nails through the throat of the coachman killing him instantly. As she withdrew her hand, the man fell off the edge of the seat landing under the wheels and knocking the carriage around slightly. In response, one of the men inside the carriage pounded the roof.
"Watch your fucking driving!"
Ruby recognized the voice. The flashback of Roxanne Delphi being raped quickly flowed through her mind and settled on one of the men who had beat her repeatedly. As the memory replayed itself, she could feel her body temperature rising and a slight steam began to get whipped off her body by the traveling winds. Extending both sets of nails, Ruby slashed her hands across the roof of the cart feeling them tear into more than just wood and steel. Screams of pain reached her from the insides and she continued to slash into the roof until the shredded cover fell into the cabin revealing a group of terrified men. She could feel her crimson eyes darken and the men who looked into her eyes somehow, could no longer move. With their movements frozen, Ruby hopped inside the cabin and reached for the nearest man she found. Her hunger grew more primal and the urge to eat the man overwhelmed her. She drove her teeth into the pulsing veins of the first man. As his blood flowed into her mouth, she could only think of how the sweet taste reminded her of mashed strawberries.
The joyous taste consumed her for a moment freeing the other men in the cabin. After finding their newfound freedom, they used what little space was available in the cabin to impale the monster before them with their secondary weapons. As if unaffected by the weapons, Ruby dropped the man she just consumed and used an elongated nail to shear the weapons stuck into her off. Their blades slowly slide from the open wounds to the ground and the men watched in horror as the gaping holes deliberately stitched themselves back together. Turning to the next man, she recognized him as another from her memories and her elated mood rose only further.
Knowing her time was slowly ticking away without a coachman to keep their carriage with the group, Ruby elected to use the same method of revenge her Master chose. She grasped the man by his skull and buried her teeth into his neck. The men still in the cabin had given up hope of killing the monster attacking them and were attempting to push the debris from the roof aside and reach the cabin door, but a hand reached out to grab one of the men by the foot. The man looked in fear at the monster for a moment before realizing something else entirely has grasped him. As he looked down at the hand and followed it to its owner, he began to shriek in terror, kicking the moving corpse with his free leg. Unaffected by the kicks, the corpse continued to maintain its grasp and even managed to grab hold of the second man trying to escape. Ruby dropped the second man to the ground and turned her crimson gaze to the remaining men in the dark cabin. Their panicked state sent shivers of joy through her and without thinking, she passed her hand through the chest of one man while sinking her teeth into the other. By the time she finished her meal and licked her lips, three of the four corpses in the cabin were now standing beside her moving under her own will. She mentally ordered one of the men to climb onto the coach seat and take the reins.
Although their carriage had fallen behind, it was by no means out of sight of the group. It took only minutes to catch up to the crowd and with her elation in full swing, she leaped onto the next carriage with another corpse in tow. Surprising the coachman from behind, she sank her teeth into him and waited for his convulsing body to still before letting go. She looked at the group in the previous carriage and mentally ordered them to push into the front of the pack. Turning her crimson gaze to the roof carriage she just obtained, she extended her nails once more and drove them straight down into the cabin. As they slid through, she felt a minor resistance for a moment, but it quickly stilled. Moments later, a scream resounded and her emotions once gain picked up. She tore off the roof once again and dove in.
Marquess Tabor was in the font carriage holding his hands close to a heated rod. The radiator utilized a controlled flame outside the cabin to heat the steel beam and transfer the heat into the inner cabin. Although it took time to warm up, it provided a rare amenity for the road and cost a considerable sum to install onto the carriage. As he was enjoying the warmth and finally starting to relax, he received a knock from his coachman on the roof. He reseated his gloves on his hands and returned and accepting knock followed by sliding open a communication grate at the top of the cabin.
"What is it?"
"Marquess! Some of the men behind us are catching up. Something looks wrong with them though!"
"What nonsense! Keep your eyes on the road you bumbling fool!"
"Y-Yes, Marquess. I understand..."
Sliding the grate closed, the Marquess shivered slightly from the gusts that blew through the cabin while it was open. He quickly moved to the radiator when a rapid knocking against the roof drew him to the grate once more. Flinging open the grate, the Marquess was about to shout at the man when he was interrupted by the frantic coachman.
"Can you n-."
"Sir! The men pulled ahead of us! This reminds me of a boxing maneuver!"
Hearing the unfamiliar term, Marquess Tabor exhaled sharply and moved to open the hatch at the top of the cabin and see the situation himself. As he opened the hatch and was about to poke his head out, the carriage he was in suddenly flipped over onto its side, throwing the Marquess against the inner cabin wall. In his daze, he heard screams from outside the cabin along with metal striking metal. His mind could tell orders were being barked out, but the jarring pain on the side of his head denied the clarity to know what orders were being issued. He reached for the side of his head and used the cabin wall to brace himself as he stood up. When he removed his hand, he saw the smear of blood across the otherwise white glove. He clicked his tongue then turned his attention to exiting the cabin. The sounds of battle settled and he figured whatever happened was finally resolved.
The top hatch of the cabin was slightly ajar and with a powerful kick, he managed to open it further. His final kick sent the hatch flying open fully and he could see crisp white flakes of snow ride the curtails of wind into the entrance. He braced himself and moved to the hatch, squeezing himself through before stumbling away from the overturned carriage. His consciousness was still slightly hazy, but he was able to see his men standing around. He shook his head trying to clear the haze and moved into the group to get an understanding of the situation.
"Hey! What's going on?! What happened?!"
No response. The men appeared to wobble slightly as they walked. It was as if they were husks without orders. Suddenly, the men snapped to attention and nimbly moved to surround the Marquess. Unable to understand his situation, the Marquess continued to spout questions while sending his gaze to the surrounding men. He noticed the men didn't react at all and for the first time, he suddenly felt a fear at the odd scene. The strange affair continued for minutes and the Marquess was slowly gripped further with fear. The flakes of snow melted against his body, yet it piled atop the men surrounding him. His clearing mind was able to make out swords stuck into the side of some of the men and it was clear a few were missing limbs in their entirety.
"What's going on?!? Answer me you fucking fools!"
"They can't answer you anymore, you know?", replied a soft voice from the darkness.
Marquess Tabor looked for the source of the sound and found a pair of crimson eyes buried in the shadows of the forest. He began to shiver from more than just the cold as the eyes came closer stepping into the moonlight. The silver light fell across the woman's dark skin making it appear more sinister than it would otherwise seem. Her crimson eyes pulsated between a deep shine and a dull clarity. Above all, her devilish smile whose lips were covered in a blackened liquid forced him to stumble backwards.
"Why run, my lord? You're the main entertainment today!"
The static corpses around the two broke into a chorus of clapping at her words. She stepped closer to the Marquess, her maid dress now lit by the moonlight as well. Recognizing the attire, Marquess Tabor broke into a fury.
"What...? That bitch Countess did this?! Do you know who you're dealing with?! I'm Mar-."
"Do not disparage my Master. She's worth far more than a perverted bastard like you."
Marquess Tabor couldn't speak. Ruby interrupted him not only with words, but with a swipe of her hand. Touching his face, the Marquess began panicking as the numbing cold slowly gave way to a searing pain around his jaw. As he felt with his hands, he traced his bottom jaw only to find Ruby had sliced both the muscle and skin of his cheeks. Blood was pouring from his dangling jaw and the throaty screams he released restored a smile across Ruby's face. Her gaze drifted to the cabin the man just left and a fun idea cross her mind. She issued mental orders to the minions surrounding her and they quickly moved to bind the Marquess. As Ruby walked near the cabin, she hopped lightly onto the side panel and crossed her legs to watch the show. She continued her mental orders.
The corpse of the man who first raped her moved to the Marquess and tore his clothing off. The Marquess shrieked from both the humiliation and pain as each layer of his clothing was separated from his body. Ruby slowly laughed and continued her mental orders, identifying sections of clothing to come off next and where to apply pressure while binding him. In her pleasure, she couldn't help but talk.
"Is this how it felt when you watch someone you hated receive their just rewards?"
The Marquess continued his useless struggle with a confused look in his eyes.
"Oh? Do you not recognize me? Well... I recognize you. We spent three days together after all."
Her intonation belied her bright smile and she ordered the minions to remove even more clothes. The Marquess was stripped down to his braies. His chest was in full view of the moon and the falling snowflakes teased the warmth from his body as it fell on direct skin. His fear at his situation only grew further and yet the woman attached to the crimson eyes only continued.
"Fine... It doesn't matter if you remember me anyhow. I'll be sure to let you enjoy a taste of what I experienced."
Her mental orders extended out once more and the corpse of the man tore the braies off the Marquess leaving the man in full nude. With a smile across her face, she order the corpse to caress the mans genitals before flipping him over. She wasn't sure if it'd work, but her mental order to give the corpse an erection appeared to work and her smile broke even wider. She executed her next order and listened to the man as he screamed from both pain and humiliation once again. The joyous sounds only acted as fertilizer for her sadistic desires and the potent feed elicited even more brutal ideas from that darkness. As she looked back down, she saw the disgraced Marquess sobbing with his broken jaw and yet she felt nothing but joy. She leaned back against the side of the cabin and felt a warm sensation run through her hand. When she looked down, she noticed a strange contraption that held a fire and emitted a heat through the pipe. Her desires for revenge designed another torture surrounding it and she grasped the hollow pipe firmly. She could hear her skin sizzling from the heat, but her desire for revenge overwhelmed any sense of pain she had. Tearing the pipe from its fixture, she hopped off the cabin and walked up to the Marquess. She ordered the corpse to back off and leaned down to speak softly to the Marquess.
"It's not quite the same as having your limbs torn off, but I bet your asshole has seen better days. Hahahaha! Here is my final present for you... Oh! And don't worry! I'll be sure your appearance is good and proper for the King... if he ever asks for you."
With a sinister smile latched onto her face, she drove the red hot pipe up the Marquess' rectum. The sizzling sound and the screams of the Marquess echoed through the woods. Ruby took a minor distance and ordered her minions to correct the man's posture. With the bar dangling from his asshole, they lifted him to a standing position. The final light in his eyes flickered until her final order went out. The corpses applied force to the man's shoulders, pushing him into a sitting position. The red hot bar slowly inched its way into the lower abdomen of the Marquess. The final flicker of life in him forced a final scream as the bar penetrated multiple digestive tracks and eventually broke through into the mans stomach. The flickering flame died out completely as the man vomited on himself and went limp.