Sufferance Ch. 14byEtaski©
Author's Notes: This story is erotic fantasy written by Etaski. I reserve the right to be listed as the author of this story, wherever it is posted. If found posted anywhere except Literotica.com with this note attached, this story is posted without my permission. © Etaski 2013
To my readers, please be warned of more graphic violence in this chapter than is typical. However, you have come this far, and I would not have written it this way if I did not believe it fit with the story.
So at last it all comes to a head.
Kerse knew how to use the teleportation ring to return to his mother's room; from there, he used it to get us out of the Sanctuary. I didn't know where we ended up and I would not have been able to retrace his steps because I couldn't turn my head. I felt paralyzed, though I wasn't numb; I was aware of his body heat and his scent, the expansion of his chest as he was breathing. My body was simply unresponsive to my will, though I could still think.
I couldn't talk, and I had no choice but to wait. I didn't want to die this way, without even lifting a finger to fight back. I felt my heart pound in my ears whenever I began to think about all that could happen to me while I was this helpless, so I tried not to think about it. I tried very hard, but the temptation to let the horror seep into me, to scream to relieve the tension—even if only inside my head—was stronger than almost any test of nerves I'd faced so far.
If I couldn't move, I couldn't distract myself, couldn't focus on doing something, anything, even if it was the wrong thing. I couldn't ask Kerse questions, couldn't try to persuade or bargain with him. I couldn't test my will against his.
I just had to wait for something to change.
So don't scream. Even if no one could hear it.
Wait, make that *almost* no one. The other presence might be able to, and it might enjoy hearing it, might laugh.
The thought gave me just enough focus to regain some illusion of resistance; the presence, the voice, might hear me screaming. It could choke on a score of spider husks before I gave it the satisfaction.
When we had passed through the circle once again, I could tell by smell that we had somehow skipped most of the City and he now carried me through the outskirts and more rural area. He didn't have to worry much about being seen. Not only was the population sparse enough and the view from any distance dark enough, but he was also bending the energy around us to cloak us, as he had himself at the worship ball last year. Interesting to know it could also be applied to something he carried.
He seemed to know where he was going.
I considered myself lucky that he hadn't thrown me face-down over his shoulder yet—he demonstrated the stamina to use both primary arms while carrying dead weight. He had tilted me against his torso and my head was lolling against his shoulder, my cheek pressed to his skin. If anyone could have seen us, I'd have looked unconscious, utterly limp in his arms.
*Where are you taking me?* I thought, belatedly wondering if he could hear me somehow.
The half-breed did not give away whether he had, and in any regard he never spoke as he made the trek farther out into the wilderness. He did seem to be pushing himself and it was no mystery why—sooner or later, someone would find his mother or she would wake up. It might help buy him some time that she was wrapped up in webs deep in a secret pit, though.
The climbing became awkward as the passageways became smaller and twisted about; finally Kerse simply had to throw me over his shoulder so that he could use both hands to pass us over and down boulders, slides, and into tunnels. I could only stare down at the ground passing beneath us and work harder at breathing as blood pooled in my head.
Finally, the Draegloth laid me down in what seemed a random place in a random tunnel, until I inhaled and detected a faint, lingering scent of alchemist's fire. There were scorch marks on some of the stones as well. It couldn't be, could it? The Drider's lair?
Was he going to feed me to it? *Oh, Goddess, no...*
Kerse removed one of my longer daggers at my side—the thin one which he'd taken from my boot he'd also left in the pit—and stroked my ear once in a bizarre show of gentleness. Then he left my field of vision. I could only listen, and I would strain to do so.
I needn't have bothered; the noise began very quickly and it was pure agony not being able to cover my ears as both Drider and Draegloth shrieked in rage. It was short but fierce, and in the end, the Draegloth won; the skittering sound of the disfigured Drow stopped, she collapsed with a thump, and bubbling gasses escaped from a warped, diseased body. The noise blessedly stopped.
Perhaps I could hope that Auranka would feel this, notice the Drider's death, and someone would come to investigate—although we were perhaps a little too far out for it to do me any immediate good. I had no idea if Lolth's werespider-Priestess could sense the deaths of the other Driders immediately, or how fast she might act on it. I still had to be ready to act if anything changed.
Kerse had spider guts on him when he returned to lift me up again; it got on my cloak and my uniform and I could smell the foul stuff. Lovely. But he carried me into the cavern and, as I had already begun to fear, he walked toward the large, quartz-shot stone set with a very powerful ward. One might have thought it would be the brightest source of energy in the darkness of this smaller cavern but, just as with many things, part of its glamor was to look ordinary.
I protested loudly inside my head but could not prevent his setting me down and— after some rough handling to hold me somewhat vertical—placing my hands on the stone. Unimaginable pain shot through me and, by Kerse's full-body jolt, through him as well.
*Don't make me touch it!* I thought in shrill desperation.
Finally, he acknowledged he could hear me. "Nneed ttouchh to brreakk itt."
"Nnott trrue. Brrokke Mmotherr's."
*It is true! I can't do it!*
He growled in frustration.
*Fascinating,* said that presence again, calm and observant, but with a subtle weakness to it I hadn't noticed before. Even so, I was struck by how very close those pure thoughts seemed now. *She is projecting her thoughts so clearly, Draegloth. We'd have anticipated only a drooling haze given your spell over her... Patience. She will give us the solution.*
Kerse seemed to give a mental nod and they both waited. I did not like it and wasn't sure what they might've expected would happen. Yes, I had my bracers on still, it was likely the only reason I was still even conscious after a shock that bad. But I also had no preparation and no control over my own body's stress. It wasn't a matter of wearing the magic tools and putting my hands on it; I had to have some control over my body to break the ward.
*Unfortunate,* the presence commented.
I was in between Kerse and the warded stone, constantly battered by its throbbing spellsong as options were considered and discarded. Eventually Kerse spoke aloud.
"Mmovve asss befforre. Yyouu cannot hharrm mmee."
Only when I caught my own balance before falling onto the floor did I realize it had been a magical command.
In the short time I had been separated from my body, I had almost forgotten the pull on it from the world's center. I felt heavy and sluggish, weak...but I could move my own limbs again, lift and turn my head.
"Ddoo nnot sspeeakk," he added, and I lost the ability to form words with my mouth, although I could still make vocal noise. "Ddoo nnot tthinnkk mmy nnamme."
My vision blurred for a moment and I blinked, feeling the moisture escape my eyes and land on my cheeks. I felt enough fear being under a spell this strong that I could ignore, for now, any shame I might have had for the tears.
The will and mental resistance D'Shea and I had both assumed I'd had...Kerse had demonstrated they were not nearly enough for something like this. The Draegloth had made a powerful item out of that soiled cloth which had both our fluids on it; it was something very specific to me. It bound us, or bound me to him, and all I could know was what he knew already: his Abyssal side had become so much more powerful in the last two years, and in the past few weeks the changes had begun to accelerate.
Why...? What had happened?
*Patience, Drow. You will have your answer before you die.*
"Bbrreakk thiss warrd, Ssirranna," Kerse commanded.
I would be releasing something, freeing a prisoner; I knew this as I focused on a task at which I had so recently worked very hard to become skilled. I was one of the fastest learners, D'Shea had said.
How had that become such a fortunate bonus for them?
Kerse wasn't touching me in any way as I worked and it took a long time, partly because it was complicated and strong, but also because I was still trying to resist, to stop myself from accomplishing this. I listened to the song and knew that it was not old; the ward had only been set in the past few weeks.
How could that be? I had first felt the ward here months ago, when I'd first found it on my Hunt with Jaunda.
Unless...one possibility was that this prison had regular visitors who removed the ward only to reweave it again before leaving?
*Fair deductive skills, our dear. Now obey your new master and remove it.*
Kerse concurred, repeating his command, and I soon after found the combination of runes that I needed. I started tapping them in order on my braces as I felt the magic start to swell and become unstable for a moment. My nose started to bleed again, but slowly, and the ward was starting to fail.
I blurted a scream as I felt the implosion of magic that sucked out most of my failing strength, just before it collapsed and started to dissipate. Kerse instantly instructed me not to move so I stayed on my knees, propped up with my hands, my imprisoned body trembling from the effort. The Draegloth used pure, raw strength to lift and roll the quartz boulder to the side.
By the smell, there was no doubt in my mind that this was a prison, and a small, torturous one at that. The frail, bony body inside was finally able to unfold itself completely, likely for the first time since the ward had been replaced. Putrid slime coated the rocks inside the hole, and while an attempt to dig out had been made, it seemed that method had been abandoned some time ago.
The limbs were long and incredibly thin, sinewy muscle barely seeming to hold the skeleton together; the soiled flesh may have been grey or an impure purple but it was hard to tell. It had hands with only four fingers, skinny as the rest of it and with claws that were probably not used in fights very often. Those trembling hands and arms scraped at the stone, pulling a significantly weakened body out into the cavern as it spasmed with cramps.
I saw the bald, oblong skull and the deeply set, milk-white eyes set wide apart...and I saw the tentacles formed around and covering a sharp, black-beaked mouth.
It was an Illithid. A mindflayer.
I made one sound of intense fear and tried to back up, to get distance. I'd been warned never to be this close to one! I surprised Kerse when I managed to shift on my own, and he was quick to grab my upper arms in his larger set of hands, hauling me back closer to him and—as a side benefit—farther from the emerging telepath.
I had just started to wonder why it hadn't shredded both our consciousness now that it was free when I noticed the collar around its neck. The collar was a stained but polished mixture of stone and metal that I didn't recognize. It was loaded with runes and formed from two halves with a hinge at one point in the circle, though there was no latch or lock to be seen; it was magically welded on.
The magical restraint combined with the chronic malnourishment had to be the reason it hadn't attacked us yet. The Illithid could not have been receiving much of the brain matter that it required. Unlike the Duergar, who were simply gifted or not and with varying levels of psionic ability, the mindflayers were all very powerful that way but were also strict carnivores and needed to crack into skulls on a regular basis to maintain their peak ability.
*Perhaps you would like to volunteer,* it said to me.
I didn't think it could speak through that mouth, but even starved and tortured, it could still unfold mental missives to communicate. The collar may have suppressed the more offensive talents but not its method of speech.
I frantically shook my head and fumbled back onto my rear end and partially into Kerse's lap. I lashed out with a clumsy kick, though I missed because Kerse jerked me hard before he growled loudly. He next took away my ability to act on my own, but though I went slack, my eyes were still wide open and I couldn't help but look at the thing.
*She is locked awake.* The Illithid sounded somehow amazed, delighted even. *A thrall fully aware...! Are you certain we may not have her—?*
The Draegloth hissed at the newly-freed prisoner. "Killl yyou ffirrst!"
Naked, scraped, covered in open pressure sores, the Illithid waved its hand nonchalantly as if it were sitting casually in a parlor. *Of course. We recall our deal, demon. Pardon our severe hunger once faced at last with a choice, helpless meal. Her mind would be pure decadence in this state.... Alas, we shall take these, instead.*
The mindflayer reached out slowly with trembling hand, and the half-blood held me while watching its every move. The bony fingers went to my belt and removed my healing draughts; it had known right where they were. It quaffed the slow-acting one, dribbling the bottle messily beneath its facial tentacles and between the sharp points of its beak, and I heard a slightly disappointed mental sigh. It intended to keep the second in reserve.
*It shall suffice.* Pupilless, white eyes focused on Kerse as it rose painfully to its knees. *We do not have a great amount of time. It is your move now, demon. If you will remove the collar, we will remove your 'mother's' last block on your true power. After that, let us go, and you may keep your chosen and do as you must. Attack us instead, and we do not have to touch her to kill her once the collar is off. We will replace all the chains from which you have been freed before we die.*
"Aggreedd," Kerse said with a solid but determined glare. "Bothhh ffreee."
The Draegloth pushed me down onto my back upon the stones beside him and, with one large had pressing firmly to my chest, he commanded me not to rise. I could do nothing but obey though I groaned a wordless protest. I stared at him wide-eyed, hating every moment of this helplessness, this...this...compulsion. This prison inside my own body, inside my head.
*Ahhh,* the Illithid sighed, looking down at me. I could have sworn it smiled somehow. *Now you know this suffering, dear Drow. We comprehend this, as does your demon for much longer. Fascinating, is it not? How a simple concept, a mere abstract suggestion affects you and us alike, and even more fascinating in one who has already lived five hundred years that it can catalyze such changes so quickly.*
*What suggestion?* I asked. If he was going to talk in my head and would not shut up, I might as well talk back.
*The concept of the individual.*
*What would you know about that? You don't even refer to yourself as one!*
I felt its amusement. *Our Elder Brain understands many inefficient concepts from those we eat. Like so many dual-gendered races, Drow thrive on chaos and singularity and your Abyssal hybrids have even more potential. His host-body, whom he calls 'Mother,' simply would not sever the cord to let it grow. We severed it for her, so he could understand.*
Kerse distracted the Illithid then by reaching to touch the collar; the mindflayer stayed still and allowed it. I could feel the magic rise around us and breathed shallowly and quickly; I hated to admit it but was terrified at how powerful Kerse had become. Energy whirled around us as the Draegloth chanted something in a low bass. Tension rose steadily and I heard more strain in Kerse's voice, which had taken on that impossibly deep undertone, almost an echo coming from a chasm, as I'd heard at House Itlaun from Wilisra's own lips.
I heard something snap and the mindflayer flinched then stilled again. The next moment, Kerse removed the collar.
*Fuck. Fuck...fuck...* I never stopped trying to lift my head or my arm or touch something, anything on my belt or anywhere, but I remained as I'd been at the time the Illithid was truly free.
*Our gratitude, demon.*
The Illithid nodded almost amiably and reached up two hooked fingers to lightly touch the Draegloth's temple. Kerse's yellow eyes stared for a few moments then he grimaced and roared. His smaller, secondary arms struck out at air, barely missing the mindflayer, and as I watched with eyes wide open, his form began to shift again.
Kerse still wore his loincloth but he was otherwise unclothed, as I'd been used to seeing him. The muscles on his back shifted and bulged, and something sharp broke through the skin at his shoulder blades—a talon, I thought—and it continued to grow as he screeched in pain. The Draegloth shuddered and the jutting, twin malformations that came straight out of his back and rose slightly above his head were wet, ribbons of a life energy I was least familiar with shining in the dark.
I had only seen this jagged, aggressive pattern once or twice before, a glimpse only, during the ritual and congressional orgy that brought a new Priestess into her power. The demon that coupled with the brand new Priestess had possessed such energy.
My stomach felt cold and I trembled as I could feel part of that transformation through the link we shared, the flesh tearing and reforming, bones bending,, his pain and the surge of power. The link seemed to be strengthening, tightening between us. I knew Kerse was becoming less like Wilsira and more like his sire, whatever that sire had been, and his exaltation almost stopped my breath for a moment.
Only after those newest limbs unfolded and stretched out enough that I related the shape to those of a cave glider—maybe—with webbed skin stretched between long, thin bones and multiple joints. Or, maybe a little more like Shyntre had taught me about the birds and the bats: wings. Wings to fly.
Except one couldn't fly far on wings down here in these cramped spaces; they would be a vulnerability and of little use. He would have to leave. Find another place.
*Your reasoning is surprisingly accurate, Drow,* the newly freed Illithid commented. *You are correct. Our emancipator already has a new home in mind.*
Kerse still trembled with pain from the abrupt shift and was huffing heavily but managed a scowl and a nod to the Illithid. "Lleeavve."
*Were we stronger, we would stay and watch,* the mindflayer said, coming unsteadily to its feet, its muscles stringy and every boney edge showing. If it had a gender, I couldn't tell; I didn't know how Illithids made more of themselves. My healing potion seemed to have done it some good, though.
*Yes, we must get far away before your matrons discover this. Please, grant me her cloak to wear. She will not need it.*
I voiced a strong but ultimately nonsensical complaint about that one, but to my dismay Kerse allowed it, removing my cloak and giving it so the Illithid could cover and warm itself. It donned my cloak with a nod and began to reach for the collar on the ground when Kerse snatched that away with shocking speed.
"Nnoo," he growled, one primary arm passing it to his secondary arm to clutch near his body like a dwarf guarding a gem. "Mmmine."