She cries out as she feels the next strike. Her third attempt at escape in as many moons had failed. HE had caught her at the very gates this time. Before he had beaten her half to death where he found her, but now......now he just gazed at her, her hands pinned under the leather of his boot, the dreaded whip in his hand.

"Almost succeeded, didn't you Magess?"

She knows better than to answer him, her eyes glaring, a low snarl on her lips.

"What I take, I hold, woman... Singularly stubborn you've been, though, in yet constantly attempting escape. I'd considered leniency the better path to take with you, but I've come to see that you prefer to abuse my....hospitality."

The demon in human guise reaches down, lifting his boot off one of her hands. The woman screams again as suddenly her arm is twisted and she hears and feels the bones crack from the force.

"You disappoint me. We both know you can take more pain than merely this." His voice is mocking as he releases the arm, which is instantly bathed in a golden glow. Half a year before, she wouldn't have been capable of it, the pain would have kept her from healing herself, but she's had to learn to shove pain away, into a corner, had to learn to heal herself quickly no matter how much he brought.

He plants one of his boots on her upper chest near her neck then, forcing her down onto her back to look up at him, the boot's toe pressed against her lips.

"I'm of mind to have you kiss it, slave girl. To have you show respect for your owner."

Her eyes blaze with impotent fury, but doesn't say a word...yet the demon can still read her. Read her thoughts.

"Humorous... I'll show you hell then, Magess, if that is your wish."

He fists his hand in her hair, dragging the struggling and protesting female down a set of stairs and into a room she knows all too well. Her body erupts in agony as she's once more thrust against the wooden pole, and her hands shackled over her head. She kicks and bucks, trying to free herself, trying to get away. She can feel HIM kiss the back of her neck and whisper softly to her ear, "...how more the lovely you are when you fight me..." She would spit in his face, but she can't...she's helpless, her body stretched out on that pole 'til only her toes touch the ground.

She can feel that horrible barbed whip right next to her cheek, feel HIM as he cracks it. Her eyes close and she whimpers softly, trying hard to hide the fear.

She suddenly howls, the pain near unbearable, as the first lash strikes. Flesh and even muscle rip and tear, the vicious barbs ripping into her flesh like a thousand hooks. She squirms, trying to avoid the blows as best she can. Finally, after losing count of how many come down, when feeling her blood pooling around her feet...her will begins breaking.

"DAMN YOU, YOU BASTARD! DAMN YOU TO HELL!"

The Demon Lord stops and she finds herself suddenly let go from the pole, unable to keep herself from all but crashing to the floor.

"...And why would you want to send me back there, Magess?"

His strange tone causes her to turn, to gaze up...something that brings only shock, when she does.

His eyes are almost sad, as he walks up to the crumpled woman, to gently touch her face.

"I seek to keep you from escaping me. It harms and hurts me that one of the best I have always wants to leave me.

Her eyes can only go wide, in disbelief, as she listens, and he continues.

"Do you not believe me? Consider...when Coral and Lord Steel attempted escape, I granted it. I eliminated them. You, though....you I've brought here and disciplined, to attempt to curb of...bad habit."

The mage, the woman, shakes her head, not believing. Not daring to believe him. Knowing he lies.

He gently caresses her skin. "You cut so deeply," he says, drawing his knife slowly up his arm, to cut the flesh so that blood begins to all but pour out, to drip into the beginnings of pool beneath it on the floor. "You cut deeper than this blade, Mica the Magess...cut me deeper than." He slowly...still slowly...peels back a thin strip of skin, almost an inch across and four inches long, his eyes all the while showing nothing of the pain he had to be enduring, not even the eerie green glow that showed sometimes when he used used part of his power.

She shivers, her hands going to the wound on his arm only to stop short, instincts warring within her. Part of her desiring to heal him, part of her knowing he is her Enemy. That and knowing what his blood does to her flesh...it taking days sometimes to heal the scars, to heal what she should now be able to heal in minutes.

"It hurts you too, doesn't it Magess...to fight me, to know you're hurting me like this. What you really want is to heal, heal even me. One can see it in your body....see it, feel it, in your mind."

She shoves him back then, with almost a snarl. "GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HEAD!" Her eyes blaze with a fury that few have ever seen. The wild earth mage wanting so desperately to get out of this, to be free once more.

He pounces then, shoving her to the floor and holding his bleeding arm over her open mouth, filling it with the green acid he called blood, then forcing it shut and pinching off her nose, to force her to swallow the burning mass. The woman makes a sound like a dying spirit...from this, the worst torture of them all, having to drink that vileness. It causes her own blood to burn in her veins, her to body to break out in sweat, her very skin to feel as if it were slowly crisping from heat.

"You're going to promise something, Magess. You're going to promise me not to try to escape again."

The young woman writhes in agony, her healing magic unable to combat this one, horrific method of his, this one torture.

"NO." She cries it out...or rasps...as best she can. The burning just keeps coming.

The demon shakes his head sadly. "Then I'll have to give this experience to the youngers of your house, and people."

The mage actually freezes then, despite the pain. "NO....not the children..."

"Yes, children. They'll take the same pain you have now, though they don't have your....resilience, do they. Do you think they'll survive? Lord Copper didn't, when I made him take the same drink you now have."

"Please....no, not that...PLEASE..."

"Then obey. No more attempts at escape, in any form."

She has no choice...and knows it. Bowing her head, the words come, tentatively...defeated.

"As you wish...Master." The last word is bitter, but both know she will keep her word.

He gives her, after seemingly so long, a mercy at last...he strikes her, so quickly she never sees it coming, and sends her into oblivion, to a place where she may escape the agony.


He watched her as she slept, having carefully covered her up for now. She was learning. Slowly, but learning...and well.

Three moons ago she would still be writhing in pain, even when unconscious. Now, she had it under control, had it controlled.

He gently brushed her skin, as he gazed upon her face, and form. She was his. He'd known it long already, and now she herself had begun to see it, even if only gradually. Gradually learning.

But she was learning other things as well, things that made his heart burn with satisfaction. Her last attempt was an admirable one, one based on learning to watch the patterns of the guards, to hide her presense so well he actually couldn't find her by normal means.

And likewise, there was her tolerance for pain, growing by leaps and bounds. The more he brought to bare, the more she learned to take, and steadily more unflinchingly. Even after three moons of constant pressure, she held the will to tell him to back off and leave her alone.

Magnificent woman.

And he chuckled low in his throat, at the thought. How any real male, any real warrior at least, did indeed long for a woman able to do just that. To fight, struggle on against his control whether guided by fear, pride or by anything else.....and then yield, but ever so slowly. Slowly, delectably, all the while tasting so good, so pure, so passionate.

She still had yet to fail and disappoint. Each time he took her, the yielding was sweet, inexorable, yet she continued fighting once more, even as she came to acknowledge the truth, of his superiority, his power over her.

And deep down, in the darker, quieter parts of himself......she made him long for Home. For a world as long gone as any of his old charges were, gone no matter how perfect his memory of it all might have been. How noble a foe she was to continue to fight, even while knowing she'd lose, could do nothing but. How noble, to spit upon history's tide, to damn it despite being damned yourself?

He narrowed his eyes, through the smile that spread across his features. She was too magnificent a female not to conquer, and make into all forms desirable. No matter who or what might get in the way, he would have her broken to his fist, begging and mewling at his feet. That he guaranteed, himself.