Sex is a Job Description? Ch. 13byGalloglaich©
------------ Ceria's Estate, Hell ------------
"We really should invest in some sort of cross-realm communication device, Lusotan," Ceria said dryly, tracing the rim of her cup idly as she lounged on one of the many curved benches dotting her courtyard. Beside the demon, her huge bodyguard Lusotan watched her with growing boredom.
"That is forbidden by Lucifer, my lady," the bodyguard replied.
Ceria sighed. "I'd like to dream for once without you appearing to correct me. That is forbidden this, and that is unwise that. Screwing that human was unwise, and look where it's brought me."
Ceria gestured all around with her hand holding the cup, spilling its contents across the flagstones. At that, Lusotan shifted in his heavy armor and leaned upon his ornate spear.
"Into war with the fifth most powerful lord in the Rings."
"You shut your mouth and let me have my fun," Ceria snapped, realizing that she was getting quite inebriated. "Perhaps you're right, all he has ever brought me is trouble, especially down here." She rubbed her clit and felt an electric tingle rise through her body. A moan escaped her lips and she lay flat against the bench, enjoying its curvature.
"My lady, there are more pressing matters to worry about than your lust."
"And just what are they?" Ceria asked coyly, rubbing her swollen clit in circles with one finger. "Fentin's little war? My guests arriving early? The festival about to commence? Or my fingers? They seem quite pressing right now." She bit her bottom lip as a second finger began to rub her clitoris.
"Ceria, enough!" Lusotan growled, taking hold of Ceria's hand and lifting her off the bench by her wrist. He'd had about enough of her drunken antics. She had a thousand responsibilities to tend to, and had left him in charge of keeping them at bay while she handled 'personal matters', by which she meant take ten pitchers of very strong wine and down them in the time between Third and Second Nights.
"Oh fine," she relented, giving him a very seductive look. "But please, just because I'm not in my right mind doesn't mean you need to get rough with me. I already have a man to do that."
Lusotan rolled his eyes and set her on her feet. Ceria staggered left and right, but gained her center soon enough and turned her head up to the bodyguard, grinning at him stupidly. He said nothing, only handing her a robe to put on, which she did with the delicate, slow movements of a child irking their parent.
"We do not have time to piss away, Ceria," Lusotan warned. "The festival needs an opening."
"And it will get one," Ceria snapped, leaning down to pick up another pitcher of wine. "Just as soon as I've had another-"
Lusotan kicked the pitcher and it shattered into a thousand fragments, painted ceramic and wine flying through the air in front of Ceria's face. She pursed her lips and straightened back up, glaring.
"Go get me another one."
Lusotan had had about enough of her antics for one day already. He picked her up by the scruff of her robe and she folded her arms across her chest, unmoved. Lusotan carried her across the courtyard and down a broad staircase, frowning at his mistress while she pouted and gave him a death glare.
"If you insist on occupying someone's time whist in your current condition, occupy theirs," Lusotan said, setting the demon down and spinning her to face the large assembly before her.
"Lusotan, I- Hello!" she quickly turned her voice and attention to the crowd in front of her. The bodyguard allowed himself a smirk as Ceria was put in a precarious place trying to discipline him. Either she would have to lose face and do it here, or play the hostess while he went to do the business that didn't involve the festival directly.
She wasn't about to let them see her in trouble.
"Yes, yes, I am a little late. I was lost in the great multitude of entertainers I've collected for your pleasure! Without further delay or ado, I welcome you to the Festival of Triumph!" At her words, a plethora of slaves started down the stairs as they had rehearsed for several night cycles, draping the steps in thick carpets, throwing various confetti materials into the air, igniting fireworks, carrying entertainers down on their shoulders.
Bright strobes floated into the air, flashing every visible color there was. Succubi and incubi maneuvered across the slaves' outstretched arms like nimble spirits across the surface of a living body of water. Demons floated in the air, wings adorned with all manner of bright, flashy ribbons.
Palanquins carrying private bedmates chosen for the more wealthy guests made their way to the steps, sloping as their carriers followed large banners and coiled tarps that would soon bee attractions and sets for stages that would adorn the great courtyard two staircases below. Three tiers of festivities, not including Ceria's main estate buildings, were all going to be the site of one of the most enormous and anticipated festivals in the Sanctuary of Redemption.
A great cheer arose from the gathering at the base of the steps, and from the slaves and entertainers moving to meet them. With a fading grin, Ceria turned to Lusotan and resumed her childish glare at him.
"I believe that went quite well," Lusotan commented, feeling Ceria's intensity growing.
"If I don't see more wine in front of my face by the time I ascend these steps again, it will be you in my bed tonight." That gave Lusotan pause. She had never threatened him with that before, but she had threatened others with it to great effect. He assumed she wasn't a gentle lover, and decided it was best to nod and comply. She'd done what was needed on her end for now.
Ceria then put on a front and descended the steps with her slaves, fixing her robe and sash around her body to look presentable. She swept a swathe of brown hair out of her face and fanned it out behind her back as entertainers and slaves alike parted for her. She looked every bit the regale, powerful noble she was, rather than an inebriated child she liked to be when she was avoiding her responsibilities.
Lusotan tasked three servants with keeping her well-refreshed with food and wine, and four others with the duty of keeping her comfortable with a palanquin and cushions should she ask for them. With the mistress taken care of, he returned to the estate proper and made his way to the enormous kitchen. Every scent imaginable met him as he held open a door for three slaves carrying a tray of minced ronx the size of a table. Lusotan decided it better to not snag a piece of reptilian meat and save his appetite for the feast.
He entered the kitchen and looked around to make sure everything was in order. Huge furnaces prepared meat and cooked ceramic dishes to be used to keep the growing number of guests satisfied. Though she had a knack for strategy, she had left military command to her generals and taken care of all domestic affairs herself.
Lusotan surmised it was out of mistrust that they could organize her events to the standard she wanted, and had resolved to leave nothing to chance.
The bodyguard moved aside for three casks of liquor to be rolled out of the kitchen and held the door open for the slaves. They passed by him wordlessly, sweating all over. All around, cooks and chefs and slaves moved about, sharpening tools for guests to use, cooking food enough for an army, checking progress for various items, cutting vegetables, boiling water, juicing fruits, mashing things, churning pasty deserts.
It was a maddening sight in here, akin to a battlefield in full tilt. Lusotan maneuvered to the group of cooks arguing over a furnace filled with glowing embers. As he approached, they all fell silent and gave him a deep bow, unwilling to let him think they would show him any disrespect.
"What is going on here?" Lustona asked.
"The supply of wood for this oven has been interrupted. The slaves tasked with keeping it fed are slacking off," one of the cooks answered. Behind the small gathering, the steady stream of slaves carrying wood looked full capable of feeding six furnaces with the supply for five intact.
"How long have these slaves been gone?"
Another cook piped up this time. "We aren't sure. The flame went out some time ago and we asked the overseer to investigate. He has yet to return."
"You three, come with me. Bring slaves." Lusotan went through the door the slaves came out of with his small gathering, easily pushing his way down the crowded hallway. It soon became evident that the cause of the delay was not laziness.
Several corpses lay strewn about a storage room and blood ran fresh across the floor from the bodies. Lusotan grunted, and tasked the demons accompanying him with alerting the stationary guards to search the estate for any unusual slaves or guests that had wandered too far from the festival grounds.
He then took to scouring the halls in search of anyone with blood on them. He tried to follow the scent of it, but the hallways were filled with the smells of sap and fresh-cut wood and everything from the kitchen. He growled as another hallway filled with smells of roasted meat and spices.
"And the others?" a voice demanded. Lusotan listened hard and heard a faint reply. He gripped his spear tightly and hurried down the hallway, following the two voices to a narrow corridor.
He rounded a corner and found the scent of blood he'd been looking for. One of the stationary guards leaned back against a wall, held by the gaze of a succubus whose body was covered in blood. Lusotan surged forward wordlessly, lashing out at the succubus with a fierce blow.
She dodged at the last moment and the spear tip just caught her shoulder, splitting it open with a spatter of blood. She slashed the throat of the guard and leapt away from Lusotan's second strike, a long stab aimed at her torso.
She turned and fled down the corridor, using her small frame to her advantage as Lusotan had to twist sideways to fit. She caught the corner and swung herself around it. Lusotan followed her closely, but as he turned, she lunged at him and split the haft of his spear with her clawed hands. The bodyguard swept the butt end of his severed spear at her and she pushed his hand up, causing his blow to go just over her head.
She split his armor beneath the armpit and he grunted in pain, responding with his knee against her stomach. She curled at the impact and he slammed his fist down on her head, throwing her considerably smaller physique against the wall. She recovered quickly, and he followed through with his shortened spear, aiming for her neck, she pushed off the wall and threw herself to the opposite side.
Lusotan twisted to face her again, but she quickly lashed out and ripped at his leg behind the knee, sending him down to one knee. He clenched his jaw and threw his armored elbow at her, but she dodged, his movements slowed by the tight confines of the corridor. She aimed a strike at his throat, but he lowered his head and her fingers connected with his skull. Several of them broke upon impact.
The succubus howled in pain and backed off, trying to reset her broken fingers. Lusotan lashed out with his spear and caught her across the knee. She stumbled and the bodyguard found his opening. He rammed the spear tip through her calf and pinned her to the floor, twisting the blade in her flesh as she screamed.
She tried to pull herself away, knowing that Lusotan couldn't catch her and she could heal the wounds given time and enough slave souls. He held her in place long enough for two guards to find them and assist him.
"Capture her!" the demon ordered as the guards drew their swords. "The lady wants them alive."
"Yes, lord," one of them replied, sheathing his blade accordingly.
It took three more guards and rope to subdue the succubus, but in the end she was bound and gagged and left to Lusotan to do with what he wished. The demon glared down at his captive, kicking her legs out from under her and lifting her body by the thick leash wrapped around her throat. He lifted until her toes just scraped the flagstones, and her breathing came and went in ragged, pained gasps.
Lusotan took her through the kitchen and paraded her in front of the slaves through the hallways, relishing the derisive looks the slaves gave the succubus, eventually finding the main causeway that led to the prison perched atop a rocky outcropping guarded by the wards of an arcane smith.
The building itself was relative small, a short, squat thing of stone that had survived its fair share of sieges when the rest of the estate had been lost to interlopers. It looked like a large stone box, with its face melted and bearing the marks of war, scarred flesh on a cracked, aged face of stone.
Two demons stood guard over the entrance, enchanted corpses under the spell of the same arcane smith that had produced the wards keeping cell occupants in their places. They worked like clockwork men, operating on magics that even Lusotan's vast knowledge of the arcane failed to comprehend.
He passed by them wordlessly, choking the succubus harder as they crossed the threshold. Familiar musks of fear and loathing assailed him and souls he had brought here ages ago sprang to life, hissing and growling in anger. Lusotan ignored them and tossed the succubus into a vacant cell, savoring the crack her skull made against the wall, and the way she could only just manage to get to her feet afterwards, one foot hanging uselessly while her leg oozed blood from the wound he had inflicted with his spear.
Lusotan closed the cell door and locked it horizontally and vertically, amazed by the latticework of light that grew from the bars to encircle the entire cell. Shimmering blue threads interlocked in a sequence that must have taken years to construct, each thin strand of light intersecting others at precise points to strengthen and perfect the bond they shared.
Lusotan stepped away from the cell as the succubus sank to the floor, utterly defeated.
"The mistress will return to decide what is to be done with you," Lusotan commented, turning to leave.
"Someone will pay for this," she snapped back. That caused the bodyguard to stop and grin briefly.
Lusotan left the prison without a glance left or right at the others that remained entombed in the short, unassuming structure guarded by undead slaves. He found that every time he entered or left this place, he seemed...different. It was as if he underwent a catharsis when he came here. He couldn't explain it, but the power he held over these creatures cleansed him of his turmoil.
Of course, knowing that it wasn't he who had to deal with them helped to give him relief. That was Ceria's decision. Which meant that he was free to collect prisoners, while having no obligation to decide what was done with them. Duty without responsibility.
He returned to the festival's main body and meandered through the crowds of guests and slaves, servants, and entertainers. The bodyguard welcomed nobility, ordered servants about, guided entertainers to their stages, sets, and games. He didn't like mingling, but at least he didn't have to do it for any extended period of time. It was one of the responsibilities he didn't enjoy, having to cater to these peoples' whims and play house while there was real business to be done.
Eventually, he found Ceria, who had made herself comfortable with a woman he had never seen before.
"My lady, I have urgent news for you," Lusotan said, bowing low to his liege. She turned her head to him and smiled broadly, still drinking quite heavily.
"Have the humans arrived yet?"
Lusotan shook his head. "No. We have captured one of Fentin's spies. I came here directly after securing her away."
At the news, Ceria's smile seemed to fade some and she blinked in surprise. She turned to her companion and excused herself, taking Lusotan away from the general noise and attention of the festivities to speak in private. When they were a good distance from the rest of the gathering, Ceria pulled Lusotan's shoulder down to speak into his ear.
"How many of them have infiltrated our walls?" she questioned, entirely serious now.
"As far as we can tell, just this one. I've ordered the estate searched already."
Ceria nodded and contemplated the situation for a moment. "Then I will pay her a visit soon. What is she?"
"Enough to fill the sheets-" Lusotan cut himself off and bowed his head. "Forgive me. My mind was in another place."
Ceria couldn't help but laugh as Lusotan knew his face was turning red with the shock of having answered his liege's question as he would have one of the men under his command. She gave him a tap on the chin to bring him back to the conversation.
"Wandering between her thighs I would guess. Is she a succubus?"
"Yes, my lady."
Ceria turned to leave. "I've got a few things in mind for her. Run along now. I've my hands full here." She grabbed the backside of a passing guest and gave the demon such a start that she jumped in surprise. Ceria pressed herself to the demon's back and nibbled at her earlobe.
"Ceria! It's been over a Night's Turn!" the guest exclaimed, continuing to be fondled by the mistress of the estate.
"Indeed it has, before this war started I believe. I know just the thing to catch up over." Ceria took the demon's hand and led her away, chatting her attention away from Lusotan, who left the festival grounds and headed for the estate proper. Up several grand staircases and through throngs of busy demons, succubi, incubi, baphomets, and every other manner of denizen in the Circles, the bodyguard moved. He reached the reliquary that had once housed the icons of the old gods that had been worshipped before the Eternal Sanctum had bloomed in the sky.
Now, the building was the headquarters for Ceria's generals. He ascended the narrow, steep steps of the immensely ancient building under the supervision of two squadrons of stationary guards, who eyed him warily despite his power here being second only to Ceria. He passed through the empty front lounge and entered the main hall, where several tables were set up in a square with an open space to enter its center.
Lusotan met with the scout captain as the short demon finished talking with Generals Domingo and Jubal. Lusotan regarded the bruised and beaten scout with a nod.
"Milord, the humans have entered Hell by way of the pass at Enderthris."
"Enderthris? They activated a portal to bring their number here directly," Lusotan explained, confused by the scout's claim.
"They've arrived at Enderthris, and I've only got two men with them now."
Lusotan nodded and took in the information slowly. So this was why the humans were late. They'd taken the back door to Hell instead of going through with their plan. The bodyguard let out a frustrated groan and slid his broken spear into the loops on his shoulders.
"Aye, sir?" the former human answered, looking up from the map in front of him.
"Prepare your forces to move on Fentin's position at the Glacis River. I want him harassed the entire Long Night. Harassed, not drawn to battle." Lusotan waited for a nod in confirmation before moving on to Jubal. "General Jubal."
"I want regular drills across all companies and double rations during the Long Night. And see to it that the Pikes are well-rested and well-versed in their art. I'll need my hammer if Fentin intends to be an anvil upon the open plains."
Jubal patted over his heart twice. "I'll see to it myself."
Lusotan spoke briefly with the scout captain and then left the large building for the barracks of the house guards. Upon his entry, twenty demons stood and placed their fists over their hearts, owing their rank and title to his personal choice of each and every one of them. They viewed him as a god, and showed him at every opportunity that they were the well-disciplined and elite force he'd trained them to be.