Witch Ch. 03byGoldeniangel©
Author's Note: I started writing this story right before a rather difficult time in my life which ended in me not writing for several years. However, I always meant to come back and finish out all of the series that I started and never completed. I'm thrilled to be able to do that now for Witch. There will be one more chapter after this one to conclude this novella... I hope you enjoy!
There are certain rules that even a demon must follow, whether he wills it or not. Lyana had called upon Leonard and therefore she was Leonard's responsibility. Unlike some of his brethren, Leonard was not actually a particularly violent or blood thirsty demon. For all that he was the Master of Black Magic and Sorcery, a surprising (to some) amount of his power came from sex. Of course, there was quite a bit of sex wrapped up in black magic after all; blood, the seed of life, passion, and strong emotions were necessary to many spells.
Lyana was slightly different because she had given her soul over to Leonard after her death; she would stay with him for eternity. The only question was what kind of stay should would have with him. He knew what he preferred, but truly it all depended on her actions and so far she was heading for quite a hellish afterlife indeed.
Birdsong woke Lyana, along with the coming of the dawn. She moaned as she rolled onto her side, every part of her body feelings sore. Peeking into her blouse she could see that her nipples were red and sore looking, there were angry streaks across her breasts from the whipping that Leonard had given her. This time her attempt at healing worked even less than it had before. Her nipples remained chafed and raw although the throbbing went down and the weals on her breast barely faded. The same happened when she tried to heal her abused pussy and ass.
The marks of her personal punishments were become more intense and permanent the more she continued her quest.
Was that some kind of sign? Already she had started to feel less and less motivated on her quest, but why else had she sold her soul? What else could she do? Her village, her family should be avenged. The men who invaded and horribly abused her friends and family, good people that she'd known all of her life, before brutally murdering them could not be allowed to go unpunished. They were now in their own territory, out of the lands governed by Lyana's ruler, but that only made her quest more important because no one where would care about what atrocities these men may have visited upon a distant people. Unless Lyana intervened, these men would never be stopped.
Still, she could feel the darkness in her soul. Perhaps it had come initially because she had invited it in and gone through the rites with Leonard, but then it had seemed a separate part of her. Now it felt like the darkness was digging its teeth into her very being, as if it was blending into her essence.
"Get up, get moving," she muttered to herself. If she took too much time to stop and think about what she was doing then she would never be able to finish it. Thinking was dangerous.
As she canceled out ward she'd made using a circle of stones around her chosen campsite and dismissed the tent that she'd conjured, Lyana put out 'feelers' with her senses, looking for the rest of the troop that had visited her village. One of them was nearby, in a town. The rest of them, their numbers dwindled down to no more than fifteen. The idea of more death, of more punishment at Leonard's hands, made Lyana feel sick. Especially because she felt like there were times when Leonard was more than just a demon of darkness and torment. When he appeared to her as a man she felt...
She felt things she had no right to be feeling. Not while her family was dead and she was on a hunt to avenge them.
Frowning, Lyana began to walk towards the nearby town, pulling at the road beneath her in the way that she'd now mastered, so that each step covered more distance than it felt like she was traveling, as if she was crimping the road between steps. It was a very useful way to travel, shortening her walk and allowing her to move much faster than the soldiers, which was the only reason she was able to catch up to them. The man nearby was tugging at her, as if they were two magnets and she was being irresistibly pulled to his location.
Nothing had prepared her for what she saw when she caught up with him.
The town was prosperous, that much was clear, with plenty of people milling about, a full marketplace with an assortment of goods, and the houses all looked to be in good repair. It was the kind of town that Lyana's family had lived in before the soldiers had come, only it was at least three times the size of her town. The presence of the soldier was a siren song, making it difficult for her to pay attention to the attractions of the town, but it was impossible not to notice the hustle and bustle, the cheerful noises of people bartering and the children scampering underfoot.
Following the tug of her magic, she turned down a lane filled with houses, stalking unerringly closer. He was in the back of a rather nice looking house, whitewashed and well cared for, with cheerful flowerbeds in the front of it. Voices came from behind the house and she felt that the soldier was back there as well. The back of the house had a courtyard, filled with people obviously having some kind of party. Children were gathered around a grizzled looking man with salt and pepper hair and the straight back of a soldier.
Lyana stared, unable to accommodate her view of the rampaging, ravaging soldiers with the doting grandfather before her, but the pulse of her magic was unmistakable. He had been one of those to visit destruction and horror upon her friends and family, her neighbors, her town. Right now he had a little girl seated on his knee, two more little girls and three little boys sitting in front of them and he was obviously telling them a story. One of the adults came up behind him, a daughter by the looks of her, and kissed the top of her father's head, her hand resting gently on his shoulder.
Tears sparked in Lyana's eyes as she was filled with inexpressible anger. This man had his family, he'd had a good life and he was going to continue to do so while everyone she knew, everyone she loved and cared about was dead. What kind of justice was it that he was surrounded by so many people who cared about him, while she was left alone in the world?
"Come to me," she whispered, her will shaping the magic that Leonard had gifted her with. "Say what you must and come to me."
There was nothing in his demeanor to indicate that anything was wrong, he smiled up at the woman standing behind him, gently lifting the girl from his lap as he made his excuses. The woman sat down in his place as he made his way towards the front of the house where Lyana was, nodding and speaking for a moment with some of the others gathered there. They let him go, never suspecting that he might be headed for his demise.
Drifting backwards into the shadows, Lyana positioned herself so that neither of them would be visible to those behind the house and only he would be visible to anyone passing by the front, she would be hidden behind a large bush.
The soldier came to a stop in front of and he blinked before frowning, as if she had just suddenly come into focus. Lyana froze him in place with her glare.
With a panicked expression on his face he opened his mouth to yell, obviously confused and frightened by his sudden immobility. With a quick, cutting hand gesture, Lyana made it so that he couldn't talk above a whisper. When that slight noise came out of his mouth his head jerked and he stared at her.
"Witch," he said in a raspy whisper before taking in a deep breath. She could tell he was trying to yell, although his volume didn't increase any thanks to her spell. "Witch."
"Murderer," she hissed back. His face fell, tightened, his eyes closed. Guilt suffused his expression, even over the panic and fear. "Speak true," she said, her voice coming out in a harsh whisper. "My village that you helped to destroy but a few days ago - the village of Werth... why?"
She had not felt the urge to question any of the previous soldiers that she'd visited vengeance upon, it had not mattered to her. The circumstances in which she'd found them had shown them clearly to be brutal men who would not stop raping, harming and killing without some kind of intervention. But this man... this man surrounded by family and children, with no clear intent of harming anyone... faced with this man, she needed to know.
To her shock, the blood seemed to drain from his face and he looked both miserable and ashamed.
"It was my last job," he said, and she could hear the regret in his voice. "It was the last I had to do before I could retire and be with my family..."
"Did you rape? Did you kill?"
"No, I did not rape." He looked away as though he couldn't face her, his muscles straining to escape from the frozen hold she'd put his body in. His voice remained low, as she wished it to be, so that others would not be able to hear that he was speaking to someone. "I killed... but only those who fought back, who put themselves in my way. I did not... I did not approve of our mission."
"Why, why were you there?"
"We were searching for someone," he muttered, staring at the ground. It was obvious that something about the destruction of her village had bothered him, was troubling his conscience. To Lyana's mind, that wasn't nearly enough of a punishment. "A spy. He had settled in Werth... we had to bring him to justice."
"And the rest of it?" Lyana's voice rose in anger, in disbelief. "The rape, the torture, killing everyone?"
He shook his head and a tear ran down his face. Clenching her fists, she tried to control her rage. Just seeing his regret was only making her angrier. "Things got out of control. The Commander... he likes to... he's not..." Suddenly his head swung up and he looked at her full in the face. His expression was tormented. "I did not want to be part of his troop anymore. I retired to get away from his command."
Staring at him, Lyana felt her lips press together into a thin line. "Why did you not say something?" she whispered hoarsely, her every word an accusation. "Do something."
"I don't know... I wish I had," he looked at her with his eyes full of remorse. "I just wanted to get out and away."
"It would have been too much trouble to report him to his superiors? He would have made life hard for you? You were worried the others in your troop would back him and not you?" From the way he flinched back from the venom in her voice she knew that she was correct. "Coward."
"I do not deny it," he murmured, lowering his head.
Her rage pulsed, but at the same time she couldn't stop the thoughts in her mind. As much as she wanted to make a scapegoat of him, she knew that he was not where the evil came from. Yes, he was a man who allowed evil to exist, who tried to run from it or push it from his mind, who tried to ignore it unless it directly involved him, but he was not the source of the destruction rained down upon her village and given the choice he would instigate no evil.
But his cowardliness, his decision to stand by while others committed atrocities was not something that should go unpunished.
"I should kill you where you stand," she muttered bitterly, not even realizing that she was speaking until he began to plead.
"No, please don't," he begged. "I have a family... children... grandchildren... they're just getting to see me now..."
"I had a family too," she raged at him, clenching her fists in her skirt. "You do yourself no favors to remind me that you and your comrades have robbed me of what you yourself treasure. I watched my sister be raped, she died in my arms. My friends, my neighbors..." Lyana's voice broke as tears surged and she choked them back down. She would not cry in front of this worthless worm of a man. "I want vengeance and I will have it."
The man in front of her shook. "I am sorry... I truly, truly am. I wish I could have done things differently."
"And so you will... in the future," she said, her mind twisting around to what seemed like a truly just solution. Reaching out her hand, she touched his shoulder, the same way she had seen his daughter do so. Beneath her hand he flinched, but he was unable to move away. Her voice had a hollow sound to it as she willed her magic to lay down the exact specific spell she wanted, which was quite detailed. "Whenever someone you love or care about needs your help, your muscles will wither and you will be unable to lend your aid. Every night you will dream about my village, you will re-live every moment and see every opportunity you had to change things or to help someone that you did not take. Every time you take a stranger's part, every time you seek to good for someone you do not know, that night you will be free of the dream."
When she released him, he shook and fell to his knees, looking rather terrified. Obviously he knew that she had some power over him, considering the way she'd frozen him and forced him to speak the truth - not that he seemed like a usually dishonest person.
While she didn't know whether or not anyone he cared about would ever be in need of his assistance, she felt that it was just that he be as helpless as she had been when she'd watched her people destroyed. Would that mean that those he cared about might suffer? Yes, but he had no one to blame but himself. Since she did not plan on ensuring that those he loved and cared about would ever be in danger, she felt that it was fair. He would always know that he would be useless to help them, which would prey on his mind. The dreams seemed like a fair twist on it.
In fact, she got a rather deep sense of satisfaction out of his punishment. He would be helpless to protect those whom he cared about, just as she had been, but he would be able to redeem himself somewhat by providing that aid to others. Actually, if he wanted to escape his guilt and the dreams then he would be forced to act for others, which he had been too cowardly to do for the village of Werth. And in the meantime, his own guilt and shame would be inescapable, it would not fade for the rest of his life and he would not be able to ignore it since he would have a nightly reminder. There was quite a bit of justice in her vengeance and, as she stared down at his shocked and kneeling form, she found that she quite liked that.
Setting a light touch on his head, she made him immobile for the next two minutes. Just long enough for her to be on her way, using her traveling spell, far enough that he wouldn't be able to catch her. In his state he might not even know what direction she had gone in.
Within minutes she was back on the road, feeling strangely conflicted as she headed towards her next goal, the clump of soldiers that were still together. She assumed that when she found them she would also find the evil commander that the soldier had referenced.
When Werth had first been destroyed she'd been overcome with a need for vengeance, yet the deaths of the soldiers since that time had made her feel unclean. It wasn't just that she had caused a few of them pain before bringing a merciful end, although that was part of it. She'd wanted to make them hurt... yet when it had come time to do so, she had ended their torture much sooner than they had done so for others. Yet she still thirsted for their blood. In the abstract sense she still pictured tormenting their bodies, making them scream, wracking them with agony.
It was so much easier to imagine it than it was to follow through.
Especially because of the punishment that followed. And that was another source of confusion for her. The conflicting faces of Leonard. As she pondered the demon's actions, she distractedly noted that the road beneath her feet was changing. The dirt was well pounded, by many feet, and growing broader. Wherever the troop that she was following was headed, it seemed to be towards a large population. Perhaps even a real city. A month ago she would have been excited at the prospect of seeing a city, now that she was headed for one, she found that her mind was too focused on other, more important things, to have any real anticipation.
The punishments that Leonard put her through were awful. Enough so that she certainly considered them a deterrent. Why, she only had to rub too hard at her chafed nipples to know that she didn't want to be tortured again. The painful climaxes that came at the end of each punishment session with him only added to her humiliation and degradation. Yet, at the same time, she accepted that she should pay in some way for taking lives. Even if there was some justice in what she was doing, at least in her eyes, the truth was that she was still as much a murderer as the men who had destroyed her village. Unlike them, she was paying for her transgressions immediately... and would continue to pay after her death, as her soul belonged to Leonard.
But he had another face as well. That handsome human form that he had come to her in. That form was almost tender with her, bringing her pleasure without torment. She suspected that last night he had cared for her wounds, after causing them. The 'why' escaped her, but the fact remained that there seemed to be much more to him than Black Magic and punishment.
Her musings didn't end until she topped a hill and found herself looking down at a sight she'd never seen before.
The buildings sprawled outwards from the center, crowded together so closely that from this distance it looked like there was almost no space between them. The tiny figures of people moving along the narrow streets looked like ants, milling about each other in close confines. Colors ran riotous on the buildings, some of them bright, some of them dark. There was a long wall encasing the majority of the buildings, but there were quite a few buildings outside of the wall as well - almost looking as if they were huddled against it for protection that it couldn't actually provide. The arrangement made it look as though the city was a cup that had overflowed, spilling buildings and people outside of its wall.
At the center of this sprawling conglomeration was a palace made of white stone, its walls and towers rising higher than any of the other buildings in the city. It was obviously the hub around which the rest of the city turned, a focal point that would always be visible from both the inside and outside of the city. As she stared at this glorious monument to power, Lyana realized that she had followed the troop, not just to any city, but to the capital. And they were nearing the palace.
Strange emotions surged in her. Triumph, that all the rest of the men she was hunting were finally in one place. Reluctance to proceed with her task, reluctance to face the kind of punishment that she knew would come her way for killing so many men. There were at least ten of them left. Anger, at herself for feeling such reluctance. And hidden beneath these, a kind of innocent excitement, at her first sight of a city and a palace, wondering at the strange novelty of it all. Lyana had not realized that she had any innocence left, after all that she had been through, but those emotions of excitement and awe belonged to a younger version of herself, one who had not suffered the things that she had. One who would have never considered doing the things that she had done.
More confused than ever, Lyana began to walk down the hill, heading for the city.
She got a room at an inn, not one of the best but not one of the worst, and near enough to the palace. The innkeeper himself was a garrulous cheerful man, eager to impress the beautiful young woman with his knowledge of all the happenings of the city, all the most important gossip. As he showed her to her room he chattered on about the return of one of the princes, not the heir but one of his younger brothers, with a troop of his men. They had just completed an important mission, ridding the country of a traitor and they would be making a full report of their triumph to the court tomorrow.