tagMind ControlAn Apocalypse Rising Ch. 07

An Apocalypse Rising Ch. 07

bySaddleRider©

Chapter Seven

A bed. Goddess, how good it felt to have a bed again, and to be warm and fed with well-prepared food. Bryana could count the ways life was good just now and go on at length about each. The feeling of being in a hot bath with Mistress as they caressed, pawed, nibbled, and licked one another was glorious enough, but seeing the empty little handmaidens look on with lust and a hint of jealousy made it worthy of a novel.

She lay wrapped in the furs that covered it, one leg extended outward seductively, relaxed, yet knowing full well that a hint of renewed desire from Drexa would again send her into a heat of need. It wasn't just that she was beautiful, though she was. Olive skinned, full-figured to softness with breasts that were full and lush with nipples that seemed perpetually erect. Bryana had not expected eyes like hers though; deep violet with gold flecks that seemed to channel her will all by themselves. Bryana wondered if nature had made them or if they were the result of a spell.

But that all paled against the joy of having power again. It coursed through her untamed. As much as she felt her proximity to the magic that cut through the world it was the fact that she now felt unleashed. Yes, she had submitted to her will, but Drexa was right in that there could be only one in control and she was the stronger now. "You know they are coming," Bryana said, moving to kiss across Drexa's shoulder. "My leaving will not change that. Killing you is too important to them."

"I know, my pe...Bryana." She caught herself even before the blonde's brow could crease. "I am sorry, my sweet. Forgive me. I am so used to the empty meat in my bed that I nearly forgot that you are not that." Truthfully she was little more than that, but she had uses for now for that mind and that power, so she had refrained from smoothing the other's will.

That Bryana had settled so smoothly into the submissive position was no doubt due her changing as well as what she was already used to. If she could remain there, there was a part of Drexa that toyed with leaving her as she was. As much fun as blind adoration was, there was something good for the ego in having at least one person close with the ability to truly appreciate the magnitude of her genius and the victory that would bring to pass.

For now though, she was simply to be used. Fingers ran up and down her spine pacifying her nicely. "I know they are coming. I want them to come. There are reasons that I have not snuffed them out."

"May I know why?" Bryana took the arm that was around her and kissed the palm.

"You will know all when the time comes. In the meantime know that you are very important to me just being here with me. Your being gone will lessen their power, and it will keep them off balance as they seek to perhaps bring their pet back into the fold."

"That will not happen." Her tone was firm and resolute. "Never shall I go back to being their bedpet and guardian. I would die first. I would...kill them both."

The hesitancy there was to be expected for now, but the fact that she could even utter the words was a fine sign of things. "Good, Bryana. See it in your mind, See the life draining from them or their surrender to corruption and luxuriate in it. Accept your power and your place. With you outside and my spy within they will be off balance enough to make them susceptible to a good argument."

"You mean your special brand of sway," Bryana concluded, grazing Drexa's chin with her teeth..

"Mastery of magic gives one certain innate defenses," she explained, stroking the other's blonde tresses, "but there are ways in in every case. You know that now, Sweet. Your being mine helps me with one, which, in turn, helps me with the other. I only need one to fall to me and it hardly matters which."

She smirked at the thought. "Is Deres weak enough so that I might simply appear to him in my naked glory, spread my legs and have him surrender?"

Bryana sucked a nipple hard enough to pull up the skin, making Drexa shudder before letting it go with a pop. "When rutting, he is often more animal than man, though he does manage somehow to be loving at once, and I've no doubt you would tempt him, but his heart would not allow him to endanger his loves by indulging in you." She pushed away her annoyance over the fact that she had spoken affectionately of him at all.

"It was a not unpleasant thought is all. The simplest solution is usually best."

"Pel is tainted now. You know that, yes?"

She had suspected as much. "But is your general not loyal to her troops? I learned much through her. The general has guilt for bringing them at all, and for the losses suffered. Would she not accept her back?"

Bryana shed the covers as she moved to a straddling position, wanting to just look into those amaranthine eyes. "I accept that you see us as primitives and, in many ways we are by comparison, but Neral Jaye is not a fool, nor are her followers blind. Neral would not leave her behind, but I don't know that any of them will embrace her as though nothing happened."

Drexa sighed in acknowledgment before dismissing the annoyance as quickly as it had come. "I have already planned for that." She fondled Bryana's pert breasts, enjoying the hiss she got in response. "Someone within would still be useful to me, but she will behave as they expect her to. With that, and you keeping them distracted, it should be most helpful to me."

Bryana's tone was perfectly polite as it flirted with her. "How may I assist you?"

One corner of her narrow lips turned upward. "Just...talk to them when the time is right."

"What will you do for me if I do?"

Drexa clutched both cheeks of that silken ass. Had there been so much as a hint of defiance in the words she would have acted instantly, but she could feel the pet was simply playing which stirred her and renewed that hope that the slave with the longest leash could settle. "I freed you from your bondage, Bryana. What more could I possibly do for you?"

She brought herself upward, leaning forward, bracing both hands on the headboard and her pussy twitched as it bathed in Drexa's humid breath. "You could start here and I bet I can think of a few more things as we go." She thrilled as she looked around her, as excited by the covey of women all around the room, Some had their legs spread wantonly as they sawed fingers or whatever would fit in themselves as they cried in want. Others were curled together, touching, kissing and aching, stealing glances at them.

"Mmmm..," she breathed, making eye contact with each. Even that was a display of her power. They all wanted to be her. They would kill one another to be her right now.

She shuddered as Drexa's tongue began to tease the pink flesh from its hood and her left hand meandered its way over Bryana's chest and belly before resting at the head of the viper just below her navel.

Drexa's power flowed effortlessly from her fingertips, wisps of white energy escaping from the layer at the point of contact like fingers of their own to skitter across her skin as the sorceress played her body with both magic and tongue.

Bryana screamed in blind rapture.

And, all around them, a chorus joined.

***

Neral and Deres stood in silence for the longest time. Neral knew there was something wrong the moment Deres woke her. The pained look in his eyes made her bolt upright. Her muscles protested, but no more so than if she'd slept too long in one position. "What's wrong?" Her voice still sounded and felt rough, but that was mostly back to normal as well. She'd looked around quickly, doing a head count before she realized who was missing simply by seeing the untouched bedrolls before her. She's bolted upright, still in her linens, expecting the worst.

Then he handed her the letter without a word. She unfolded it and read:

Dearest loves,

I look around and see the results of her. I look about and see the missing faces about and know that they will not return and I see myself in all of it. I wish that I could stop seeing it so, but I do. Know that I say this not to sound cruel because, as we have progressed, I had come to know them and enjoy their company: to see them fall wounded me, but it had to be done and I would have the same hand in it over and over again.

Even so, to see you fall, Neral, was orders of magnitude worse. I thought that I was watching you die and there are no words I can find to describe my heartbreak at seeing it. I have not stopped seeing that either. My eyes close to blink and I see you and Deres lifeless and far from home and that kills me, though, as you have seen, there are other fates to fall to. To see you so twisted kills my soul. You do not understand her as I do. You do not truly know her as I do. She gains joy from paring away at your spirit as much as your mind and body. Her power excites her. These things can be exploited and perhaps I can. If I cannot, it will be left to you. If I can act now in a way that even might assist, I must.

Perhaps it is my own selfishness too that compels me to go to her and try. Perhaps I need to face my reflection and see if I truly see myself in her eyes or if the person I was is now truly behind me in the distance. Perhaps, what it all comes down to a single bare truth: I am weak now; weak with my love for both of you and I would rather face her and the death that will follow than have to face it in the eyes of either of you. I love you both too much to live without you. If that's my ultimate failing tonight, so be it, as I have indulged in far worse when it comes to entertaining my selfishness in life.

Do not be sad for me. With you, I have found redemption and love in equal measure and that has saved me as much as anything else. Even though I leave you behind, I never truly will.

I am yours in this life and the next.

Bryana


It was all Neral could do not to weep. Instead she had folded the paper neatly into fours and handed it to him as she contemplated the valley ahead and the jagged teeth ahead of them, "How could she just leave?"

Deres looked to her, his own pain hardening him. "I think to protect the people that she cares about there is very little that she wouldn't do."

"How does running off protect us? She is there and we're here. Her skill helps us in the here and now and not the maybe of there.

"She was worried about our corruption at least as much as our bodies. She may have thought herself immune after the change. Assuming that she is, then it is just a straight fight and, I would wager that, when need be, she is still as dangerous as anyone else in the world."

"Is she immune?"

"I don't know."

She found a renewed focus for her anger and she turned on him at that moment in more ways than one. "How do you not know? You're the mage. You're the one who did it to her, Weren't you one of the few that knew how? Don't you even know what you did?"

"It reordered her personality and changed her priorities. The underpinnings of her old personality are still there. That's why she could access memories and such when she needed to. There is a duality that is created, then melded whole. She cannot exactly go back to the old her, The barrier between that person and the old really are inviolable to any magic or science known, but that doesn't mean the new her is immune."

"None of you fools in Adar bothered to test anything? Are you so sure of yourselves that you don't even bother?"

His words became slower and more clipped as he fought back his own anger. "No, Neral, no one tested that because it's perverse. The creature was created to save people. It was created to end their acts of violence and evil while still allowing them a mind and a life. It was created so that we didn't have to hurt them. Who would do such a thing and then try to corrupt them again once we were certain they were whole? Magic like what Drexa uses is far more common here among the guild mages than in Adar. It's shunned there for a reason. It's shunned there precisely because of what's happening now."

His voice rose. "I don't know, Neral. I don't know what happened to her and I'm sorry. I can't do everything and I don't know how to fix everything and I'm sorry<./i> I love her just as just as much as you do. If I believed she would do what she has done I would have stopped her. If I could bring her back to us it would be done." He sniffed and turned away, not bearing to look at her before turning back. "I wish I did know all the answers Neral...but I don't, I am sorry."

The anguish on his face deflated her anger and she approached him. She took his hand in hers and kissed it. "Deres."

"Do you want me to try to find her?"

She studied him, unsure of what he meant. "What?"

"Do you want me to go down into the valley to cut a path to her body or to her? Say it and I'll do it. I'll do anything you want me to. I knew she was troubled, but I never thought..."

"And risk you, too? No. We must stay together, now more than ever. The thing only gains by driving us apart, no matter how it happens. I am sorry, Husband. I hurt and I took it out on you. Do not leave me now Do not leave us."

He looked into those deep brown eyes before hugging her close, resting his cheek against hers. "I really wanted you to ask me to do that because I really want to do that."

"I know my husband. I know you would go, but there has already been too much loss. I'll not hand the Goddess more."

"Excuse me," Maylin said gently. When they parted from one another to look to her she added, "It's done."

Neral looked to him. "That thing you were talking to plants for?"

He nodded. "Come and see, we'll explain."

After she had dressed and met with Dion, Neral made her way down the narrow path to the place that Deres had chosen to work. She waited to put on her mail until she knew she was as steady on her feet as usual. She'd suspected Deres had packed away the signs of Bryana and she was secretly grateful for it. Her body tingled as she passed through an otherwise invisible barrier of magic and met the two to find her squeezing his arm as she spoke, comforting him.

They turned to her and Deres pulled three vials from his cloaks, each filled with the same purplish liquid. "It occurred to me after the fight near the trading post that there might be a way to help you take your enemies more effectively when it comes to swordplay again, so we studied the creatures as we found them, and we found that she augmented pieces of many of the beasts with pieces of herself."

Maylin's tone was mocking, "Is there any better a person to use? In her mind she is superior to us all."

"More magic?"

"This is more a case of science augmented by magic. Without getting too complicated, every living thing carries within it the template of how it came together. Those building blocks coming together in a certain way gave you brown hair. Their coming together in other ways gave my mother her height and blue eyes."

"I think I follow."

He held up one of the vials. "We created a living organism that will seek out the links that are hers within the creatures and twist them. It will incapacitate them quickly and kill them in time. Either way they will cease to be a threat. Helpful, I suspect, once we reach her den."

Neral took the one he'd held and examined it. "So it will do the same to her as well."

"It will," Maylin answered, her eyes carrying a measure of satisfaction if not glee at the prospect. "Paralyzed to uselessness in seconds, dead in minutes. It's still a better fate than she deserves. It will grow and bond to your weapons and remain there, harmless to anything without those marks that are hers."

Neral felt some satisfaction as well at the prospect of Drexa's lingering end.

"We'll tell the others that we've come up with a way to harden their weapons, which is the truth, while keeping the specifics from them."

She looked to them each in turn, not having to ask why they contemplated withholding information. Neral didn't want it to be true. She did not want to add one more loss to the list but there was no way she could discount the possibility with Pel being the only one to come out of the woods apparently untouched by something that the rest that, some with far more backbone than she could not resist. Still, she felt the reflexive need to support and defend those under her. "She seems no more damaged than anyone else would be if they had escaped what she did."

Maylin would have rolled her eyes had she detected true seriousness in the other's tone. As it was she almost took it almost as a joke. "And if she had come to you without care as Kress and the others had her fate would have matched theirs. Kress even hinted as to why they came to you as they did: to end you and wound the rest of us in the act. Coming as they did at all has done that, but there was purpose in it."

Neral's mind drifted. She gains joy from paring away at your spirit as much as your mind and body.

"As much as the witch has her goals and wants to achieve them, this is a game to her. We are all inferior to her and we will lose, so why not play until you're bored? It may have been as Pel said it was and I can detect no trace of Drexa pulling strings within her, but that doesn't mean it's not happening. Give her nothing to use against you."

That was something that Neral had no intention of doing.

Deres and Maylin hardened the weapons, folding in the half-truth as they prepared to depart. Now they were only roughly two days from the mountains where they would have to make their final choices, and Neral had to keep herself focused upon that and not about the larger hole in her group or the gaping one now in her heart.

"Perhaps she is all right," Dion offered from her left As she checked her gear as she packed it with her own mount. "Perhaps she is forced into hiding and cannot make it back to us."

Neral was tempted to hug her for the effort, "You don't really believe that, do you?"

She looked out at the path before them, "I prefer to hold onto hope wherever possible. Sometimes faith is rewarded."

"The Goddess will provide for all Her faithful?"

Dion didn't look at her as she adjusted the cinch of her saddle. "No offense, my friend General, but you've never been all that faithful."

"Sorry."

She shook it off. "No reason to be. We are as She made us. It is that reason that I too would have defied the law as you have. If She put a mage in my life to love, it's fair to assume that she didn't mean for me to set him to hang."

"Makes sense to me."

Dion stood, now satisfied with things before turning to her with a lightness to her in that moment that Neral always found appealing. She could go from the soldier to the person in the beat of a heart. "I am wise, General."

"Perhaps that's why She made us friends."

"Makes sense to me," she parroted. "General, I have faith in Her as much as people. You have more faith in people. Since that is true, have faith in the people in your life as you know them to be. Don't give up on that so long as you draw breath."

Then, a raised voice took them from their own conversation to follow the voice from the horses and into camp to find Maylin standing with Kestral, her hands animated as she spoke, her pale green eyes with fire behind them. The troops were around the center of camp having just finished dismantling it looking around at one another, but wanting to stay out of the fray. Pel was slightly off to the side of the group clearly not wanting to be the focus of anything while Deres stood with his mother. "Stop it, Kes. She didn't have anything to do with what happened to me or any of them."

"Of course she did. She hurt you. She ruined Major Kress and the rest. Even Bryana, Yes, she's a mage, but at least she's one of us. It's on her as much as the other witch. We're here because she asked us to come. We may be ignorant animals compared to the rest of you, but at least we take care of our own problems. She's one of your people. She's a threat to everything, including them sooner or later."

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