The stone pedestal, glowing with the fiery white runes of an ancient magic cultivated by a far greater civilisation than this feted rot, now lost to time, rises from its pool of ether. Upon its flat face it carries two, an ogre guard and his single human prisoner, lifting them out of the dank dungeons and ever nearer to the arena high above their heads. They can hear the distant echoing of crowds on the surface world, many voices crying out for violence.
"You ever been with a man, child?" the guard asks, his voice bitter and harsh, its warped quality perhaps related to the crisscrossing scars that litter his wrinkled throat.
His prisoner does not answer, her murmurings endless, a seemingly mad mantra. They are pleas for mercy and protection.
"Meh. I doubt it. You're just a girl, aren't you? A pretty girl." He makes a grumbling sound, his iron fist briefly grasping at his bulging crotch with the clatter of rubbing chainmail. "It will be a shame for you to be deflowered by a demon. That's what's going to happen to you, you know."
The human shivers.
"They're going to make a spectacle out of you in front of your own kin. Rape you over and over again until that bitch sucks your soul out and eats your husk. You might have watched it happen yourself one time. Sitting there with your family, part of the audience…" The ogre chuckles, or at least, it sounds like a chuckle. "And your people call my kind barbaric."
Bent over in chains, the young woman prays to the gods for rescue. Any gods who will listen. She pauses for a grunt when a steel capped boot nudges her roughly in the side.
"Shut up. Your false gods won't help you." He grins, crooked teeth yellowed over the centuries, his primary tusks protruding jaggedly from a raw, overshot lower jaw. His wan eyes narrow on her sandy head. "I tell you what. I feel sorry for you, human child. How about I give you some real hope?"
She blinks when a knife's hilt is lowered before her eyes.
"It might make you feel better before the inevitable happens," says the old ogre in an almost kindly fashion. "Take it. And don't try anything stupid or I'll make you look forward to the succubus."
She awkwardly accepts the knife. It is small, the blade not much longer than her extended hand as she presses the silver lightly to her palm and fingers, feeling its cold, solid weight. She looks up at the guard, confused.
He sneers. "Your death won't be honourable. But you might draw the demon's blood first, before she drinks yours."
The rest of the wait is silent between them.
The crowd's screams are almost deafening as the two finally emerge, the stone pedestal rising until its glowing edge meets with the iron basin, steps leading down to the cracked, stained ground forming the arena's base. The girl sees things as if for the first time, now that she is to be its next victim.
She casts timid gazes about the looming walls lit with torches and jutting with metallic spines for sinister effect, the fortifications periodically giving way to metal gates that are opened by wheels held in safe perches above. The cries of monsters echo from beyond those grey bars. She supposes they are locked away in shadowy cells much like she has been kept chained for days, invisible and threatening, starving and perhaps angry or scared. She both pities and dreads them.
Her guard plucks her up by the shoulder and tosses her down the steps. "Good luck, human. Though it won't serve you any good. Also, I'd like the knife back when you're done with it." He bellows with laughter.
She turns in time to watch him descend from over her bony shoulder, the knife gripped tightly in her hands.
He winks at her before his head vanishes behind the brim. There is a scraping sound, metal sliding into place. Sturdy bars will seal the gaping hole closed.
She tries to stand, but the chains are too heavy for her skinny frame, their locks sealed with magic. And so she kneels and watches a gate opposite her slowly slide open as the one at her back eases shut.
A cage, levitating above the ground, emerges from the dark. It slowly drifts toward her, unmanned, following a predetermined path for this occasion. Its occupant is squeezed inside, barely fitting, though complacent. Features are hard to distinguish, but the being looks much like a woman.
The prisoner for sport has seen the succubus before, only once, when her impoverished brother spent months of hard-earned coin for two seats to watch many wild beasts fight. It had been disturbing for her, witnessing such a gruesome display. But the climax of the evening had been the infamous succubus' kiss of death.
It took minutes. Minutes for the demon to overpower a grown man, strip him of clothes, violate him enthusiastically as chains clinked and his confused cries echoed, before devouring his essence through his gaping mouth by simply sucking it into her expanding breast. Then, furious, she had torn him limb from limb and spilled his entrails, digging through them as if searching hidden vestiges of soul. After that the collar around her neck sparked and she collapsed over the corpse, lifeless.
Older brother cheered, but his sister could not speak. She had been stung with horror, but her brother, and seemingly everyone else in the audience, was apparently made excited by the creature, the struggle, the sex, the bloodshed and the finish. She'd covered her eyes for a while, but those echoing wails and howls stayed with her for years. Then her brother died of sickness, her only family and caretaker, gone. And now, she is here. She is reliving the snippets she had seen, comparing them to her fate as it is now.
The knife is not comforting at all as the cage stops thirty or more feet away from her, hovers in place, then drops abruptly, hitting the ground with a bang and angering its occupant, who snarls and begins to stir within. There is a hiss as all the bars making up the cage fall away one by one, dissolving into the air itself like smoke, a dramatic demonstration that frenzies the crowd.
Her own shackles release and crumble away, leaving the girl free to arise, stumble backwards, and hold the knife aloft pointlessly as she watches the succubus uncurl herself and rise into a bowlegged stand. Her breath catches in her throat at the sight of the monster's full height. She's far bigger than she remembers, even when appearing so malnourished and drab.
With a groan, clawed feet eerily akin to cloven hooves take their first heavy step forward, leathery wings unfurling, otherworldly eyes opening and glowing like embers. The demon seems to be waking up, as her movements are groggy, and her opponent takes the chance to run as far away from her as she can on those skinny legs. The succubus watches, then winces as the collar around her neck burns hot. It demands action.
The prisoner desperately searches the walls for some way out. Whilst holding onto her useless knife, she latches onto a low spike, which cuts into her arms, chest and the soles of her feet as embraces it in her effort to climb upon it and perhaps reach next the one above, hoping to work her way upwards spike by spike, cut by cut.
Obediently the demon shakes the magical drowsiness from her mind and embraces the overpowering need to feast. A pleasurable throb between her legs urges her onwards, clumsily stomping after the scrambling girl trying in vain to escape. With each determined step her motions grow more graceful, her stance more predatory, and her urge to abuse the child more desperate.
A semi rotten fruit, dropped from the crowd, falls a long enough way to be dizzying as it hits the prisoner in the forehead and bounces off, leaving her reeling. She slips from her precarious, painful perch, landing heavily on her back, helplessly sprawled out as she recovers from the blow, her brow smarting. She watches through tears as she succubus treads toward her, rumbling throatily with excitement, a visible damp space between two muscular, working thighs. The knife is her only chance now.
The demon's large, cruel hands reach out eagerly, hooked talons black and glinting. They settle on the girl's ankle, dragging her away from the wall roughly before forcing her legs apart with obvious intentions.
It is now or never.
With great strength the prisoner pushes herself off the ground. She contorts her body, bending forward to plunge the blade she wields into her assailant's flesh, then quickly yanks the knife back.
The succubus shrieks with alarm and lets go, pulling away, blood like pitch oozing down the hand she clutches to her ample breasts. The collar screams, but her pain, for the moment, is stronger than its influence.
The audience shouts louder than ever before.
The girl gets to her feet, sprinting away. The blood that coats her fingers is shockingly hot and sticky, its smell pungent. She wants to wipe her hands clean but for now, she runs.
Seated upon his throne high above the manic ocean, the young king grins. "How interesting. I don't recall supplying the bait with weaponry."
"No, my lord."
"No matter. It makes it more interesting this way." The handsome man raises a brow at his momentarily bewildered sorcerers. "Well? The beast has paused."
They quickly return to their incantations.
The collar sends a jolt down the demon's spine, and maddened by the storm brewing inside, she turns and charges fiercely after the retreating figure, her thundering steps silenced when she beats her wings and soars, closing the distance in the time it takes for the girl's heart to skip a beat.
The prisoner is smacked into from behind, two curving horns butting her face first into the ground. The knife slips from her grasp. A weight greater than her own settles on her back before she can right herself, teeth sinking into her shoulder. She screams.
The succubus shivers with anticipation as she grips golden strands within her claws, releasing the meat and turning her head, breathing in deep. She inhales the scent of her prey. Eyes, alight with wonder, take in the sunny locks. The colour of the human's hair reminds her of something. An old memory locked somewhere deep inside, dark and hurting, yet bright and wonderful. It's enough to channel out the magic clouding her mind and she sees clearly for the first time in a long time, moments of sanity that are stretched long enough for her to lax her grip. Long enough for her to remember that this has not always been her life. Long enough to infuriate her, to reach up, to tear at the collar around her neck.
Her prey crawls to her feet, turns, and sees the futile efforts the demon makes. An idea is formed. She grabs the knife off the ground quickly. Her nostrils are clogged. She wipes blood off her lip and darts beneath a thorny wing of leather, meeting with the monster's back. She vaults up, latching onto the collar, and thrusts the blade into the strained metal joints again and again, producing sparks. She'd always wondered what the collar was for. She thinks she's just found out.
The king rises out of his seat of honour with a bellow, his voice echoing as the crowd suddenly grows hushed.
The succubus pulls, the prisoner plunges the knife once more, twists it, and the enchanted collar snaps with the force, falling to pieces.
Magic leaves the demon's mind and with a cry of freedom, she spreads her wings and launches herself upwards, latching onto the top of a wall with her talons, her cargo grabbing onto her neck for dear life.
Peasants scream and claw each other in their desperate attempt to flee through the narrow exits, some thrown over the edge to be impaled upon metal spikes below or fall to the arena's bloodied belly.
A glimmer of silver marks the dropped blade far down, though the girl and her mount do not see it as they kick off, withered wings fumbling to climb the skies.
A sharp dive takes the pair straight to the king himself.
Like a butchered pig he squeals as the demon breaks through a poorly timed magical barrier – for his entourage of sorcerers did not form it soon enough for the shield to fully solidify and be effective – and collides with him, teeth, talons and horns puncturing the ornamental armour boasting of his status, pinning him to his chair in his death, though not before she sucks the life out of his bloodied lips.
"You taste like shit, old master."
Before she can be apprehended by hurrying swordsmen and sorcerers conjuring chains, the succubus dismounts him with gruesome glee and spits fire at his banner, leaping away with the prisoner still clinging to her back. The strength provided by her meal gives her renewed vigour to soar into the clouds, an arrow rushing over the city, heading for the forests beyond the stinking slums that surround wealthy homes, an elaborate castle, and the panicked arena; where all the gold is centred and the masses' frustrations are sated.
It's only a few exhilarating minutes before they hit ground, rolling over once, hitting tree roots and collapsing together, demon tangled with child. They've cover enough distance to be hidden.
Everything becomes black.
When she next opens her eyes, it's to find that she's lying beside a stream. The girl groans, slowly easing herself off the soft grass, her body sore and bruised.
She jumps at hearing the strange voice, then regrets it as pain burns deep.
"I'm sorry. My landing was uncomfortable for the both of us." The voice is pleasant. Soft and kind, womanly and enticing. A voice that could lull one to sleep.
The girl looks up, straight into ember eyes.
The succubus exhales. "I should thank you."
Her audience listens, making no sudden movements or sounds.
"The magic that clouded my mind does not dull my memory. I know you helped me get the collar off. As long as I wore it, I was under their control." A talon gestures to the raw marks marring the demon's pale throat, along with swirling tattoos of black. "Now that it is gone, I am free. So, thank you."
Relaxing, the girl nods.
"Your hair colour is unusual for these lands." The demon seems to resist the urge to touch the smaller being's blonde locks, instead inching backward with some difficulty, dark blood oozing from scratches and the wound in her stabbed hand. She folds her leathery, bat like wings, tucking them humbly around herself to hide her nakedness. "Well, I should be going. If you head west from here, you'll find a small, rural village. I'm sure they'll take you in. Goodbye."
The human's eyes widen and she reaches out, dirty fingers splayed. "Wait!"
The succubus pauses, looking back. Crimson drips from her horns. "Yes?"
"You… you're not…"
"Trying to violate you?"
"Was that the collar's fault? But you're a… a…"
"The collar made me behave like a monstrous whore. Now that I have my will back and no master, I must roam my own way. And I choose not to do any further harm to you."
The girl cocks her head. "So, you're not like people think? You're not cruel?"
The demon's gentle chuckle holds sinister truths. "Stay away from my kind, sunshine. We're not all rational."
"I'm not sure I understand."
"Telling you more would involve telling you about myself."
"I can't go back to the city. I'm a criminal."
"Is that so? I guess you were given to me as punishment."
"Let me walk with you. At least, for a little while."
The succubus seems surprised by this. "I tried to rape you, and now you want to follow me into the unknown. Did you hit your head?"
The girl shrugs, then flinches. "I'm hurt and defenceless. There are wild animals about. Bears, boars, wolves. And there are brigands on the road. Please, at least escort me to the nearest refuge. I have no one else."
"And I have nowhere to go. All right, sunshine. Walk with me."
"Why not fly?"
"Because I am hungry and exhausted. Besides, imagine the panic if your kind sees me flying around in the mortal realm," answers the demon evenly, almost smiling, though it doesn't reach her eyes.
Blushing, her human companion rubs the back of her neck. "Oh. Right." She then frowns, gazing imploringly up at the other. "Do you have a name?"
There is a pause before the succubus answers quietly, "No. Where I come from, lesser servants such as myself only have the right to a name of their own for as long as they serve a master. I have no master. Not anymore." The demon casts her smouldering glare downwards. "Are you going to give me a name?"
"I'd like to. So I have something to call you."
"Then you'd take ownership of me."
"I'm sorry, I don't mean-"
"A succubus without ownership, even if I am a strange example, is nothing. I'd wander this world aimlessly and dissatisfied for the rest of my life." Sharp fangs are bared in an almost grudgingly shy fashion. "If you'd take me, I'll serve you. Distantly. I'd like to maintain some dignity, considering."
"Would this make you happy?"
"Happier than I have been in a long time. I cannot help old habits. I am lonely. Aimless."
"What time of day is it?"
"Then that's what I'd like to call you." The girl smiles. "Dawn. The start to a new day."
The demon frowns. "How romantic of you. I suppose that will do."
This story is ongoing. Much will be explained later. I have an interesting plot in my head for this. It'll involve heaven and hell.