Orso spat out a mouthful of blood as he sat down, letting his holy magic heal his wounds. The enemy had retreated for now, allowing the defenders a brief respite from the carnage. He looked up and examined the men.
The siege had started off well, with the elves and magic casters sending wave after wave of arrow and spell into the charging horde. Many a demon was banished and a fleshling slain, but the warlocks continued to resummons their demons and the fleshling spawners could wield a corpse as easily they could a living person. Unfortunately for the defenders, the enemy sources were too far back to kill, and thus the endless siege continued.
“At least we get a break,” Orso muttered as he propped himself back up onto the battlement wall. He gazed out over the plains at the enemy. Whoever the enemy generals were, they were used to this type of warfare. The enemy was reforming their troops, demon shock troops first followed a wave of fleshlings protecting the demon magic users. They’d be hard pressed to defend against this wave of attackers.
“Heal up best you can lads,” Orso ordered, “The real fight will be coming next!”
Unbeknownst to the defenders, shadowy figures had slipped by their lines and entered the dungeon town, their destination certain.
“Die, die, die!” the demon prince of lust screamed. Tired of dealing with Mary’s seemingly endless amount of blood, the strider began shooting venom from its lower mouth everywhere. Mary avoided the attack, not risking using her shield to block the stream. A quick glance confirmed the poison was corroding the land and quickly killing all of the plants it touched.
“Stop moving!” it screeched at her, turning its abdomen to face her. Mary controlled her sword to swing rapidly in a circle, cutting up the balls and nets of webbing the spider monster shot at her. She then rolled out of the way of another venom blast.
Compared to her situation, however, Mary was the most well off on the battlefield. The sphinx demon continued to use its strength to overpower and toss the adventurers facing off against it. When the adventurers crowded around it, the sphinx demon used its massive wings to blow them away, flying back into the air to land another devastating ground-pound. Worse, its skin appeared to be immune to arrows and magic, forcing the group to resort to only using melee weapons. Fiora and Nat led the attack, with Gran supporting with his silver sword.
The basilisk was also demolishing its group of adventurers. Its high speed and agility mixed with the power to go invisible made it almost impossible to avoid its attacks, and it spewed out a poisonous mist whenever it felt threatened. Already, a fourth of the adventurer under Fred had fallen ill and were lying prone on the ground, paralyzed. Fred himself was covered in many wounds, but was managing to inflict a few small injuries on the monster.
“No, help us!” a scream tore through the battle, alerting Mary. Her gaze shot back to the rear of the battlefield, where the princesses had been moved to avoid danger. The princesses had insisted on coming to find their brother, and though Mary felt it unwise to put the remaining royalty in danger, they successfully argued that they’d be safe with the adventurers than the non-combatants. The squad of adventurers guarding the princesses were being overwhelmed by fleshlings, and a few were in the process of being converted.
“Where are you looking at?” the demon prince barked, and Mary’s shields were shattered by the demon’s knives. Before Mary could react, the monster kicked her to the ground, sending her sliding. Mary coughed, the blow injuring her organs.
“Is that all?” the former girl giggled and roared, “I’ve heard so much about your abilities Blood Lord. Surely you don’t require a field of undead to truly fight? Why don’t you use the blood of your wounded and dying? Why don’t you make use of them before they die?”
“The monster is right,” a poisoned adventurer coughed, “Master Mary, I’m not going to make it. Please, use my blood to fight.” Other downed adventurers around the field called out similarly, all willing to sacrifice the little life they had left to win.
Mary’s eyes darted around. Fiora had just been kicked. Fred was starting to weaken from blood lose. The princesses’ guards were barely able to fend off the fleshling assassins.
“Release your vow,” Annabelle’s soothing voice whispered in Mary’s ears, “This isn’t about right or wrong, this is about survival. How many will you allow to die just to keep a long ago promise? Think of the power you could wield, power to save lives you cannot currently. You’d be the savior, the vanquisher of demons.”
Mary’s eyes seemed to glaze over. The demon strider sent a knowing smirk toward Alfred, who beamed at her in pleasure.
“That’s it Mary, just let go,” Annabelle cooed, “Release that spirit of battle you’ve kept locked up for so long. It’s time to be who you used to be, the vanquisher of men.”
“Don’t listen to her Mary!” Fiora hollered from across the field. Only Fiora knew the reason for Mary’s refusal to wield another living person’s blood, why Mary periodically stored her own blood for emergencies.
Mary turned toward the fallen adventurer, eyes still glazed. She walked toward him, slowly stretching out her arm. The adventurer smiled and closed his eyes, fully believing his sacrifice would win the battle.
“Stop it, Mary don’t do it!” Fiora screamed, desperately trying to reach the guild-master. Alfred frowned, and the demon sphinx blocked Fiora’s path. The swordswoman attacked furiously, but was unable to move the sphinx.
Mary reached down toward the adventurer.
“Mother!” Fiora cried.
Mary brushed the adventurer’s face and flicked it. The adventurer recoiled from the blow, his face scrunched up in confusion.
“My job as guild-master is to guide and protect you younglings,” Mary scolded, her eyes regaining their color and awareness, “You giving up your life is noble, but save it for when it is needed.”
“But, you need blood,” the adventurer stammered.
“Indeed,” Mary nodded, “but I have blood, enough blood. I just never enjoy wielding it.”
Mary stood up and faced the demon, which was staring at her in shock.
“Impossible, how did you escape my lust’s call?” it asked.
“Foolish demon,” Mary scoffed, “After so many years on the battlefield, do you really believe I have experience with your kind? I am a former top tier A rank adventurer and have faced down my share of demon princes. I’m very familiar with your strengths, and your weaknesses.”
“Then you’ve grown soft,” the demon hissed, “Seeing you struggle against me, you must have slackened in your old age. You’ll never win against me as you are!”
“Indeed,” Mary sighed, “and more’s a pity. It’s too bad I had to use most of my blood saving my adventurers after your failed ambush, otherwise I would have finished up awhile ago. Fortunately, my many centuries of experience seem to have been underestimated.”
As if a signal had been given, three figures dashed through the battlefield. The sphinx was sent flying backwards, one of its clawed legs cut off. The basilisk lost its tail. Finally, the fleshlings all had their invisible cords cut, resulting in all the adventurers to be freed. The former shadow guard were also freed, but only their corpses fell.
The three figures gather behind Mary: Ally, Bella, and Clara. Each had bloody clothes, but perfectly clear skin. They glared at the demon strider.
Everyone stared in shock; even Alfred stood up with wide eyes.
“You thought to pull me down into depravity, making me another demon sacrifice,” Mary snorted, “Well, allow me to demonstrate the full might of the Blood Witch!”
The three receptionists shimmered, their clothes falling off them. Where three ladies once stood, three human sized red swords floated in the air. Each seemed to pulse with life, their very aura stained with blood.
“It takes the blood of 359 adult humans to form an iron sword,” Mary closed her eyes, “As the Blood Witch, I took countless lives. When I sought repentance, the lives I had taken took on a life of their own in my blood. They are my closet friends, my companions, and the most dangerous weapons in the world. My three savage swords, attack.”
Mary raised her hand, and the swords disappeared. The demon prince blinked, and then screamed as her arms disappeared. She stumbled backwards, black blood pouring from her shoulders. Mary waved her fingers, and the demon lost half of her legs.
“Protect her!” Alfred roared, leaping down from the balcony. The basilisk and sphinx blurred, and reappeared holding the massive blood sword back. While the two groups were at a standstill, the two demons began bleeding from where their bodies touched the sword.
“I hate using them like this because their life should be one of peace,” Mary continued, her eyes still closed, “However, you all have forced my hand.”
Alfred gnashed his teeth as he administered first-aid to Annabelle, who had retaken her human form. He glared at Mary.
“Call off your swords, or the princesses die!” he ordered.
Mary opened her eyes in surprise. She turned her head to see the corpses of the shadow guard holding knives up to the princesses. The two girls were petrified in fright.
“Their blades are poisoned,” Alfred glared, “not even you could remove it from their blood, Witch! I’ll admit, I underestimated you.”
“I didn’t think you’d care so much for her,” Mary answered, easing the swords back from the demon princes.
“Do you know how rare it is to find the perfect vessel for a demon summon,” Alfred spat, “Annabelle is one of a kind; her worth to the mistresses is almost as great as mine.”
“You’re a necromancer,” Mary’s eyes narrowed.
Alfred chuckled, and all around his body plants withered and died. A ghostly white mist arose from the ground, creating a border that divided the adventurers from the demons.
“It’s a little something I received upon swearing my allegiance,” Alfred grinned evilly, something shining from his chest, “a worthless orphan of a noble family, abandoned for being unable to wield magical power. That’s not me anymore, my research has created new life!”
“The corruption,” Fiora staggered next to Mary, her eyes open in disbelief, “were you the one who created it?”
“Marvelous, isn’t it?” Alfred laughed manically, “a little necromancy, a little demonic power, and tiny bit of desire, and a controllable form of corruption is born. My mistresses were so pleased with me then. They’ve been disappointed with me this year, but I’ll earn their rewards again. Mary, you’ll accept my gift, or the princesses and prince die. Not only that, but the demon I secretly summoned will arise in the elvish quarter and devour everyone there!”
“Mary, you can’t,” Fiora turned to her mentor and mother, “He’ll just use you to kill everyone here!”
Mary turned to Fiora, and smiled. “You called me mother earlier. Thank-you.”
Mary turned her eyes to face Alfred, “There is no oath I can have you swear that’ll stop you from using me to kill everyone in town. I will need an oath from your mistresses to not harm anyone in town.”
Alfred smiled in triumph. However, before he could say anything else, and explosion erupted around the princesses.
“Two dagger formation- repulsion,” Milly chanted. She, Rowen, and Anadine ran in from behind. Rowen sent blasts of dark magic into the staggering corpses and destroyed them, and Anadine took a defensive posture in front of the princesses.
“No!” Alfred roared, “Not again!”
“Cut,” Mary sliced her hand through the air. The two demon princes were in half at the waist. Collapsing, their bodies slowly morphed back into their human forms. Helen died at once, but Josh met Fiora’s stare long enough to whisper, ‘I’m sorry’, before dying. Fiora whispered a silent prayer for her old friend.
“Curse you to the nine hells!” Alfred had gone crazy. So many plans, so many contingencies, and someone unexpected once again came and destroyed everything he had created.
“You two, you killed my flesh dragon,” Alfred suddenly recognized them.
“Yeah we did!” Milly yelled, “and now we’ll beat you!”
“Milly?” Fred gaped in shock, “Rowen?”
“Hi daddy!” Milly waved cheerfully, “we may have wrecked the tavern a bit, sorry.” Rowen also waved, but looked a bit embarrassed by all the stares.
Quickly calming now, Alfred examined Milly.
“Perhaps all isn’t lost,” he mused, “At least the target has finally been found.” He placed his palm against his chest and pressed.
“Target?” Mary squinted, before realizing, “Milly, look out!”
Before Milly could react, a winged figure appeared behind her and captured her. Milly and the kidnapper warped across the field to where Alfred was.
“You’ve done well my servant,” the winged figure said to Alfred, “You’ve finally brought out the prey. Just in time, I might add.”
“Hey, let me go!” Milly screamed, struggling to break free of the tail that was holding her.
“Release my daughter you demon!” Fred shouted, charging into the white mist. The winged figure grinned. A second winged figure appeared in front of Fred and socked him in the gut, knocking the wind out of the retired adventurer. As Fred coughed, he was thrown over to the feet of Alfred.
“Daddy!” Milly screamed, “I’ll kill you!”
“You hear that sister? She said she’d kill me,” the second winged figure giggled.
“She’ll changer her tune, once she meets the master,” the first giggled as well.
“Who are you?” Mary asked, her swords hovering behind her.
“Michelle and Milda, at your service once again, Master Mary,” Michelle bowed mockingly, her tail still holding Milly.
“The cult within Duran was started by a pair of sisters,” Mary recounted slowly, “they vanished before the investigation could be complete. Those names, I recall those names on a dungeon casualty report a year back as well.”
“Bravo,” Milda clapped, “Your memory is spot on Guild-Master. Indeed, that was us. We’ve been moving around this country for some time now, and decided to end our little journey here at Duran. Little did we know how chaotic it would get here.”
What are you, who are you,” Fred gasped from the ground.
Milda grinned, and stepped on the downed tavern keeper, her strength forcing onto his belly. “We’re devils of course, castaways from the Devil’s country in the far north.”
“You mean exiled,” Mary corrected, “I’ve met one of your kind before. Your country denounces the worship of your demon ancestors with the penalty being either death of banishment. From the looks of it, you two have embraced your lust demon succubi heritage.”
The two devils hissed, their moods finally worsened by Mary’s words.
“Our people are fools,” Michelle spat, “Why limit ourselves to only one side of our mixed heritage? Demons are strong, powerful, and beautiful. Those bastard elders in our clan couldn’t see that and they banished my younger sister and I to these pitiful human lands.”
“But, then we found him,” Milda’s face turned dreamy, “the master. He understood us and brought us into his plan. His will is our will now, and he desires this girl for the plan.” She gazed at Milly in undisguised jealousy.
“Well, he wants you both as well,” Michelle remembered, pointing at Mary and Fiora, “See, he’s very interested in you both joining his side. Once you meet him, he’ll show you the truth, and all three of you can be one happy family again!”
Mary’s face paled.
“Erikir,” she whispered. The name of her lover, the name of the man who fell to evil and used her body against her will, the father of their child Fiora. Mary saw an image in her mind, that of a young, handsome man with red hair.
“So the leader of this invasion is my father,” Fiora grimaced, “Why does he have any interest in Milly?”
“Seems your mother didn’t tell you everything,” Michelle taunted, “You see, your wonderful father is actually the head priest, you could even say pope, of the religion of Temtra, and this young child happens to be the newest chosen of the goddess of desire.”
Shock rumbled through the gathered adventurers; none of them were aware of Milly’s true identity.
“You haven’t explained why he wants her yet,” Mary pressed, recovered from her shock.
“Should we tell them?” Milda asked Michelle coyly.
“Why not? They’ll be on our side soon enough,” Michelle giggled.
Milda smiled and turned to Mary and the crowd, “You see, our master discovered an ancient power in years past. His experiments proved fruitful, and he recreated the ancient magic of corruption. Not the fake version we had Alfred create; that is a mere mockery. No, our master unlocked the true power, and through it he took control. The Empire’s council of priests is his now, every one of them his acolyte. However, he was cast out of Temtra’s clergy, and lost much of his power. In order to regain his strength, he created the plan.
“The plan to twist the goddess of desire into the goddess of corruption!” Milda cried out, her eyes filled with adoration, “all he needed was to find someone with a strong enough connection to Temtra to use as the connection, and now we have it!”
“Like hell I’ve help you!” Milly yelled in defiance, “You both can go sniff a dog’s butt!”
“Silly Milly,” Michelle taunted, “Don’t you realize? You’ll be seeing our point of view soon enough.”
From the succubus sister’s bodies, grey smoke bellowed out in a storm. The smoke covered everyone, moving into their mouths, noses, and ears. Only Mary was able to block the smoke in time, everyone else falling victim to it.
Milly’s eyes turned grey as she fell limp in Michelle’s tail.
“Do you see our point of view now? she asked sweetly.
Milly’s eyes reappeared, and she smiled sickingly.
“Of course my mistress, how could I ever say such things to you,” she giggled, “all is for our lord and master.”
“Snap out of it Milly,” Mary commanded.
In response, every adventurer turned to face Mary, and they all laughed at her.
“Come mother, embrace it,” Fiora smiled, “Don’t you miss father? We can be a family again. Everything will be peaceful once we’re together. Just, let it in.”
Mary use her blade to block an arrow shot by Gran, who chuckled at her.
“You can’t keep this up, Master,” he taunted her, “You said it yourself earlier those swords have lives of their own. First, they will be enlightened, and then you as well. Don’t make it any more difficult than it has to be.”
Mary eyed her swords, and confirmed that they were slowly turning grey at the edges. She took an offensive pose.
“Are you going to kill us mother?” Fiora giggled, followed by every adventurer, “Will you take our lives?”
Fiora’s face suddenly morphed into one of begging, “Mother please, don’t kill me! I’m still here! Please, save me!”
“Curse you,” Mary hissed at the sisters, forcing herself to stand down.
“That’s it,” Milda giggled, “Just give up and join us. Soon, everyone will be with us.”
“Screw that!” an angry voice came over the crowd. Milda and Michelle screamed as two orbs of black magic slammed into them, leaving dark burns on their bodies. The succui growled and turned to face their attacker.
Rowen floated over the crowd, standing above the grey mist on a platform made of dark magic.
“You think enforcing your will on others is a new strategy?” Rowen grunted, “Your hundreds of years behind in terms of thought. I’ll expose this magic for the sham it is!”