The young mage turned to look out the window, not knowing how long she had been chained here. It seemed like months...years...since she had first attempted to assassinate him, the Demon Lord, the Dark One, had thought she could defeat him in battle. Resting her head back on the pillow again, she thought of her days, in this place.

Lonely days; nights, nightmare still worse. Every night, the same thing, over and over. Every night him taking her...raping her...soon enough making her beg him for it, scream for him to do it.

She looked at what was once her homeland; once a peaceful place. Now, children fought and killed each other in the streets, chaos and anarchy ruling...until the moment he wished to bring something he saw to heel, to obedience. Then submission came...usually instantly. When it wasn't, things became only worse.

She wanted to cry, to scream in rage, but she was left too weak. He fed off both her life force and her magic, draining her nearly to death each night. How many times now, she had lost count...the servants who came in would not speak to her, wouldn't even look at her. She longed for someone to talk to, anyone at all; she was so lonely and afraid.

The sound of the door opening came to her, and her eyes darted up to look at what she knew could already feel. He walked in.

She dropped to her knees and put her head to the floor and spoke, as she had long since been brutally taught in both.

"Greetings, Master."

The words tore at her heart, her soul. She was used to being free, no matter how long it had been since that more than just a memory. This was pure hell, being chained...and to this man....this thing's...bed, expected to be ready to serve at any given moment.

He gazed down at her for a moment, silently, before responding.

"Rise, slavegirl. Help me with my armor."

His voice was cold, harsh....but didn't seem to be directed at her, the more so as he turned away then, for a moment.

"Yes, Master." She kept her tone controlled, calm, even as she took a great chance with her next words... "Is there something I can help you with?"

He turned toward her once more, raising an eyebrow as he left part of his heavy chest plate in her hands.

"So you have regained your abilities to speak with me after two years. I am impressed."

Without thinking, she bristled, her eyes flashing impotently at him. Her healing magic was the one thing he couldn't drain her of, though he loved to had helped her survive the first few beatings of her 'training'.

The Demon Lord only touched his hand to her cheek, in responce.

"So brave, yet so soft. You truly wish to help me?"

She felt the touch, felt the effect it never failed to have on her....and felt herself nodding, slowly but steadily up and down, and quietly replying. "Yes, Master."

He sat down on the bed, and forced her to sit in his lap...and she wanted to scream. She hadn't meant for him to rape her again, to use her as just some tool once more. Her body tensed...until she heard him chuckle.

"Silly slavegirl...I don't plan on taking you until we conclude conversation. While I do not need your help, I find your courage in speaking to me an improvement on your previous attitude. So, then,"

She found herself, again, only able to respond nearly silently, her eyes gazing deeply into his.

"What do you wish me to talk about, Master?"

He smiled. "Tell me about my little magess. I wish to know everything...especially how it is you have lasted a full two years when most women break in one."

The mage looked out the window and waited for the Demon Lord to come. He had gone from being her torturer to her lifeline.

In exchange for stories of her life, he told her how her friends were doing, what was going on in the court...and sometimes, he didn't even rape her. He would just hold her firmly against him, deep through the night.

It gave her a hold on life. She knew it had been two years now sine they had started talking, and the talks had become dear to her. So had HE. He has never more gentle with her than when he was listening to her talk about her past lives...the number of times she had incarnated, how she had lived, how she had died. He wished to know about her mother, about her kin, even what little she knew about her father.

And she heard things from him, in turn. How he had grown up in a world more cruel than she had ever even dreamed of. About friends he had to kill in his youth to save them from pain, and how he had learned that life itself was pain, and how he had made it, as well as she could understand, to be his god, save for his time with her now, in this room.

In this room she could not leave, there was no pain, any longer. Instead of pain, he had actually begun to teach her, in exchange for the talks...and not just how to please him, but how to defend herself better, how to use her magics more effectively. She knew that he did not trust her...his nature, or what he had come from, prevented that...but she had come to trust him, completely.

She knew her world well: if she obeyed, she was treated well, almost as an honored guest; if she disobeyed, she was punished until she submitted even more fully than before.

His punishments had taken strange form, as well. Instead of hurting her, he would make her scream in pleasure for twice as long...he would use the whole night to use pleasure to torment her, sending their conversations out the window. It was pure, and raw, and passionate...and she had small, nearly invisible scars at the skin of her shoulders and neck, where his fang-like teeth had sucked, demanding her compliance to him. Demanding her submission....and eventually getting it, each time.

She knew that she was slowly losing her will to fight him; she understood him too well. He wasn't unreasonable, if you could explain something without calling in the "Goodness" or the "Right" side of things. Once she had explained treating people with courtesy and respect as "Hiding the fact that you want them dead so that when you need to kill them do not expect it."

She smiled a little, at the memory. It had been as if someone had lit a switch for him. He had actually looked like he was happy with that knowledge, even though happiness for him had long seemed to her a contradiction. She still sought to explain kindness to him, though he had said often that it was an obvious weakness to be seen, in anyone but her.

The Mage pulled out her hairbrush and starting brushing her long hair when she heard the door open, with HIM stepping inside.

"I'm going to kill them, all of them." He spoke it with anger, but also an air of...nonchalance, as if he might speak next of storms approaching.

"My Lord?"

"Those imbecilic nomads, at the north... I'm going to crush them like the insects they are...they, their children, their mates, the parents. I'll dig up their ancestors' graves and defile each one of them, myself if necessary, and burn every village without care for material gain. They should even have their cattle raped, were it possible."

The woman trembled at the seething anger his voice told of, and swiftly dropped to her knees, gracefully...her hair pulled to one side, her back exposed to him, showing her total submission to him in his favorite way....and hoping to assuage the tones of his voice that made her fear.

He watched her, then, this slave woman...her body poised to take whatever punishment, pain or pleasure, he cared to inflict. He admired her body, her curves. It soothed him, took away the irritation he always felt for fools...

...And he made a decision.

"It is time that I had you learn still more of the court. You will be chained to my throne, on the morrow...your conversation and actions please enough that you'd not be able to embarrass me, were you to even wish it."

"Master?" The Mage's face was a mask of confusion. "But I am the woman who tried to kill you...?"

"It matters not, slave. You have learned well these last four years. You know what you are to do, you've shown it often enough. Tomorrow you will be chained to my throne during the day, and to my bed at nights."

She only nodded her acquiescence, quietly.

She knelt at HIS feet, her neck in a collar attached by a fine steel chain to his throne. Her eyes missed little to nothing...she had been trained these last ten years to watch those who came into the court, to signal her Lord and Master when one was dangerous.

Five years before, he had begun training her in such. They had often talked about her observations, and he had learned how to enter her mind at his choosing, to pluck them from her without any but the two of them knowing. He could even make his dry observations in hers, but they still often talked between themselves, as they had long done.

The mage watched the women of the harem. It was they, she knew, to be most dangerous to her Master...scheming, manipulative. Vain, vapid, arrogant. She never told him how often they would hurt her, throw things at her...she knew all too well what he would do. She suffered silently through it.....never knowing that he knew of all of it, but respected her enough to stay his hand. Mostly stay it.

The two of them talked quietly, both sometimes at the throne room when it was empty but more often in private, he listening to her assessments of the courtiers and courtesans, the ambassadors and emissaries both. He would laugh at some of assessments, her comparisons of different people to different beasts of the wild. Though she did not know it, to everyone else their love was apparent, it glowed on their face. Though he saw it, he let it be, for it only made many the more cautious around her, in how to properly treat her.

There were few now who remembered the woman who had tried to assassinate this dark king. Ten years made difference indeed. She was dressed richly, her hair braided down her back and falling in a long rope to the floor. She didn't look like the beaten-down mage who had tried a desperation strike in despair. She was the richly dressed slave-woman of a powerful Demon-God.

They looked at Her, the Dark One's Magess, HIS slave woman, and now his private bodyguard. Rumors said She had been at HIS side for over two centuries.

Those who knew Her well called her "Mercy," Her real name long since forgotten. She was the only one who could move the Dark Lord to it, Her touch the only one to calm his heart, tame the fires of fury that never ceased to flow...and the only one who knew it not.

The other women of the harem hated Her with a passion. She was the one HE would most often take to HIS bed...the one in his deepest conferences. When emissaries insisted that all women be cleared from the court, She would remain.

It is said in legends that She was once chained to HIS throne, because She was the only person who had ever come close to killing HIM. Many did not believe it....did not believe that these two could ever have been enemies. Her counsel was HIS to call upon, as was Her flesh. She belonged to HIM, utterly and completely. HIS hand played with Her hair as HE listened to reports of his lieutenants. Her head would rest on HIS knee as HE gave orders to HIS armies.

There are those who fear what will be if She is ever taken from HIM...but how could that ever be.

She is always at HIS side. Always.