The Long Road to Ruin Ch. 48byLady_Blackhawk©
Disclaimer: This fanfic is based off the Neverwinter Nights community module by the name of "A Dance with Rogues" created by Valine. I fell in love with this story and felt compelled to write something that compliments it. This story contains explicit content and graphic violence. All characters except Shiloh, Bastian, Rhys, Nicca, Ni'as, Narev and Essex are property of Valine.
Tell me why, tell me why/I've been ripped apart and left here to die
Crimes of love, Crimes of hate/It's not too late if you
Take a look around you/There's got to be an answer
I ain't playin' your fool/So give me what I'm after
Thru These Eyes—Spread Eagle
The Hunting Lodge
Vico caught up to Shiloh, throwing his arm around her. He bestowed upon an insolent grin upon her as she hissed, fending him off. She grumbled below her breath, near incoherent words spoken in the abyssal tongue, but Vico understood her loud and clear. He chuckled loudly, enjoying her malcontent.
"Did you get your knickers in a twist, birdie?" He guffawed, hauling her back against his side. He held her as she struggled, his grip firm, bolstered by something wholly unnatural. "Bet you been lickin' cunt for so long that you forgot what it was like to have a dick in your ass."
She flashed him a death glare as malignant rage spewed from her lips, "You think too much of yourself, peasant. There's nothing about your dick that I couldn't find elsewhere. I'd lick a million cunts before I'd willing fuck you again. You may have proved yourself stronger for now, but that doesn't mean you'll ever have a chance to do it again. I will see you dead first."
He snorted, laughing as if he'd heard the funniest joke ever told. "You can lie to yourself, princess birdie, but you can't lie to me. I know the true score. Shall I describe how quickly your cunt gushed at mere contact?" He made an obscene show of licking his fingers. "Never knew your cunt could taste so fine, my sweet. You wanted it. You needed my dick. Made ya feel alive again, huh?"
She rolled her eyes at him, shoving him away, "You wish now get the fuck off me."
He laughed as he pulled away from her, his long strides putting him out in front of her by a few paces. She continued to grumble as Pia caught up to her. The bard shot a sympathetic glance at Shiloh, "I see Vico's being a dick again."
"Vico never stops being a dick," Shiloh groused, still spewing venom. "He doesn't know it yet, Pia, but that prick just signed his death warrant. When I become Queen, and have the power I desire, he will be the first to be executed. Mark my words. He will die screaming, cursing the bitch that brought him into this world. Once I've rid myself of him, Arto Benthur is next. We'll see how he enjoys his own tank of acid."
Pia took a few steps away from Shiloh, her brow raising as she noticed Shiloh's eyes glowing bright bloody crimson. "Shiloh, you know Master Nathan will never allow you to execute Vico. Besides, he's not worth your anger. He's only doing it to get a rise from you. He's enjoying this. Don't give him the satisfaction."
Shiloh glared at Pia, cursing her logic. "Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, prepare to die."
Pia shook her head, knowing she wasn't getting through to Shiloh. "Let's just focus on freeing Master Nathan then we'll deal with the rest later."
A few hours passed before they emerged from the thick trees covering this portion of the King's Forest. In the clearing to the north at the edge of King's Lake sat the gatehouse of the hunting lodge they'd been searching for.
Vico called for a halt, examining the structure before them, "Hmmm, looks like those red bastards have settled into this castle or whatever is down there."
Shiloh joined him, eyeing the fortress before her. "That's it. Like I told you before, what we see there is the gatehouse. The main complex is on an island. A narrow bridge and I suspect heavily guarded drawbridge to the hunting lodge itself is located on the far side. I don't remember much of the lodge itself, just what I've previously told you."
Vico kicked a rock, watching as it skittered down the cobblestone road. "I'd bet my last coin that Nathan and the others can be found in there. Since a frontal assault would most likely be suicide, I say we find the rear entrance. After all, that is my favorite." He then delivered a hard slap to Shiloh's backside. She bit her lips to keep from crying out, silently cursing to Bastian.
She felt a warm gust of reproach on her skin, compliments of her most revered Lord. A deep chuckle filled her head, "You wouldn't have such problems, my delicious pet, if you'd killed him when I commanded it."
She gritted her teeth as Bastian gloated. Her hands clenched into fists, digging her nails into her palms.
"And if there is no rear entrance?" Pia piped up, rolling her eyes at Vico's innuendo.
"We'll improvise, Pia darling," the blackguard smirked. "Let's search the shore and let's try to be quiet about it so those gatehouse guards don't see us."
Shiloh flipped her longest finger at him, "Says the jackass wearing plate mail and sounds like a tin can." She scoffed and sneered then faded into the shadows provided by the dense trees and foliage. She remained inside the tree line, following the contour of the shoreline from a distance, scanning the immediate area for any possible inlet.
I should've been a ranger, she sighed as she picked her way along. Pia and Vico were spread out behind her, diligently searching for any sign they'd been detected. Coming to a narrow opening in the clustered trees, Shiloh squeezed through and stopped near the shoreline. She smirked as Vico grumbled caustically at her choice of paths, but she didn't mind. Let him be pissy. She couldn't care less.
On the sloping bank rested a wooden rowboat that had clearly seen better days. She knelt beside it, examining its rotted bottom and decaying sides. She shook her head in disgust, hearing Bastian's snarky chuckle. She screwed up her face in determination and sent a mental curse his way. His laugh boomed within her head, causing her to cringe. Her cringe turned into a shudder as he sent a tremor of power zinging through her. She gripped the sides of the boat, feeling it crumble beneath her grasp. A small cry escaped her lips.
Pia and Vico noticed her distress, but it was Vico that acted immediately. He knelt beside her, carefully taking her in his arms as the shockwave intensified. His gaze burned into hers as he tasted the dark power assaulting her. "Ride it out, my sweet," he whispered to her in a language only they understood. "I can feel it and I'm here for you if you need me to sever the bond."
"No," she struggled as the hum in her veins subsided. "Get the fuck off me!" She surged to her feet, shoving Vico away as violently as she could. Pia lurched out of the way, screaming as the blackguard lost his balance, landing on his ass.
Cold fury flashed in his eyes as he stood up, snarling. He pulled Kinslayer from its sheath at his side, gripping hold of her once more. "Let her go, you demonic parasite." Closing his eyes, he slammed his blade straight through her groin. "She's mine!"
Her body jerked, blood hurtling from her gaping mouth as a terrifying roar of rage and pain split the silence, piercing the heavens. Vico withdrew Kinslayer, coldly watching as the light faded in her eyes. He laid her down; soaking his fingers in her blood then swiftly drew symbols on her exposed flesh, blocking the dark god's ability to steal away her soul. He chanted guttural words in the abyssal tongue over and over again.
Pia watched in horror, sobbing violently. She wasn't sure what had just happened, but knew that Shiloh had slipped into the beyond. From his pack, he pulled a draught vial, forcing the contents down Shiloh's throat. He knew it wouldn't bring her back, but it would close the gaping hole in her groin his sword had made.
He then turned to Pia, "Search her belongings and find the rod she has that brings people back. Quickly Pia, time is of the essence. I can feel her around us. Her soul has not yet departed. Good news is I'm positive I've stopped that bastard dark god from claiming her."
Pia opened the breastplate of Shiloh's armor, removing the scrap of black cloth Shiloh kept there. She spread it out on the ground and climbed into the extra-dimensional space. It took her a few minutes to dig through the hoard of treasure to find the correct wand. Vico glared at her impatiently as the bard handed it to him, "Do you know the command phrase?"
The bard brushed her lingering tears away, shocked beyond measure at what she'd just witnessed. Her mind failed to process his request. She stammered, her eyes locked on the body of her fallen friend.
"Pia, the command phrase," Vico demanded vehemently.
"I... I don't know. Let me think a minute," her mouth opened and closed frantically as she floundered in remembering the words Shiloh had spoken over Baron Ravenstower's corpse.
"Stop your blithering! We don't have a minute, Pia." A wild eyed expression graced Vico's face. Pia noticed it immediately, shocked at the incongruity. When had the blackguard cared for anything more than himself? She pondered that thought for a second or two before chastising herself. Shiloh needed her now and she was the only one who could help. She skewered up her face in deep thought, her mind ticking over the events in the Ravenstower crypt.
After a few tense seconds, she blurted, "Resurgo!"
"I guess your mouth is good for something besides catching flies, Pia darling," he quipped as he held the wand over Shiloh's form then repeated the command phrase. A shimmering effect settled over Shiloh, surrounding her body in white light as it coaxed her soul back into her earthly vessel.
Vico hovered over Shiloh, meticulously carving a symbol upon the flesh of her left breast over her heart. With her blood, he drew the same symbol on her forehead. These would prevent her dark lord from claiming her again. He cursed himself for his own failings of not doing this the first time. She'd counted on him and he had failed her. This time he would not.
As her body formed whole again, the symbols faded, merging with her flesh as a part of her skin. She'd never even know they were there. To make sure, he pricked a finger, sealing them with a bit of his own blood and dark magic. Then he sat back on his heels, watching and waiting for her to come to.
It seemed that time slowed to a crawl as they waited. Pia's teeth worried over her bottom lip as she absently picked the dirt from underneath her fingernails. Then a sigh of relief and a cry of joy came from Pia as Shiloh started to stir.
Shiloh's eyes fluttered open. She groaned, curling into a little ball as the pain passed. Then she shivered as cold rain drenched her skin. Pia and Vico watched as the armor protecting Shiloh's body disappeared almost instantaneously along with the whip at her side and the red tinged blade in the sheath opposite to where the whip hung. Vico's lips curled in appreciation of her naked form.
She turned to him, filling her lungs with air. Another shiver assailed her. "Fuck, did YOU hit me?" She glanced around. "What happened? And why am I naked? I'm freezing!"
Vico's jaw clenched, "That abomination you call a god could've killed you with his shenanigans. I put a stop to it once and for all, Shiloh. You should be thanking me."
"What? How? And where's my armor?"
Pia knelt beside her, "It disappeared, just as your weapons did. Here's a cloak to cover yourself. You should have something in the portable hole that you can put on."
Shiloh's eyes flashed with understanding. She knew what Vico had done. She couldn't feel Bastian's presence. She tried to move, groaning as her limbs protested. "I feel like a wet kitten. I'm so weak." She pulled the cloak around her, turning her gaze back to the dark knight. "What did you do? Answer me."
"I severed the connection, Shiloh, so he won't be coming back. I should've done it a long time ago."
She lifted her arm to slap him, but cursed her weakness as pain shot through her. "You had no right, damn you. That's my decision."
"You selfish bitch," he snarled. "Is that all you think about? It's all you, you, you, isn't it? Fuck you, birdie. I'm done pulling your ass out of the flames."
Vico stalked away, putting some distance between them. She'd never fuckin' understand and he knew it. She had no clue of the evil she was dealing with as she repeatedly played with fire. It was all fun and games until the honeymoon ended. His fists clenched and unclenched repeatedly. Fuck her, he sneered. She'd never learn if she remained on this path of self-destruction.
Pia helped her in her black Assassin's Waistcoat armor, then Shiloh dug through her stash to locate the short sword called Darkstar. She paired it with Bloodlust. Shaking her head, she sighed, "How could Vico? Bastian was good to me. He gave me so much and his power... Oh Pia, I've never felt anything like that before. He laid me upon his altar and fucked me like no man ever has. I disobeyed, though, because I couldn't kill that damn asshole and Bastian wasn't happy, but I made amends. Now he's gone."
Pia shook his head, "Dealing with demons, even demon gods, never turns out well. Look what it's done to Vico. You don't want to end up like that, do you? No, Shiloh, deep down you are a good person and you know it whether you want to admit it."
Shiloh scoffed, rubbing the heel of her palms into her eye sockets. "The bastard rammed a sword through me, Pia. You had to expend a charge on my rod to bring me back. Do I have a scar?"
"No, I don't think so. He poured a major heal draught down your throat to take care of that. The skin should have knitted flawlessly." Pia replied, "It horrified me, watching him so callously take your life. I just don't understand why he stuck his sword where he did."
"I think it has to do with chakras. I can't say I understand it, but one of the tenets of Bastian's faith is lust and sex, so why not use that against him in order to sever the bond. One of the seven chakras governs the sex organs," Shiloh explained. "I'm still pissed, but I suppose it doesn't matter. Let's just find that bastard and finish this. Nathan and the others aren't going to rescue themselves."
"I'll stay here so you can talk to him alone. Whatever he did, it seems to me that he feels like he was saving you, Shiloh. Maybe you two need to have a heart to heart."
"Vico doesn't have a heart, not where I'm concerned." Shiloh scoffed as she rolled her eyes. She gathered her portable hole back up and stowed it away.
"Maybe not, but you didn't see the look in his eyes while he worked to keep you from being reclaimed. Maybe you should stop being so hard on him." Pia shrugged her shoulders before taking a seat beneath a tree. She removed a small lute from her pack and began to play. The melody was somewhat haunting.
Shiloh flashed an uncertain look at Pia, wondering if the bard had hit her head. Shiloh wouldn't have thought to hear that from her, considering all she knew of Pia's past relationship with Vico. Shiloh sighed and left the small clearing. It didn't take her long to find Vico. He was brooding. The darkness in his eyes made her hesitant to approach, but she knew she had to. She slowly approached him, kneeling in front of where he sat, his back to a tree. "I suppose I should thank you. I also think I should apologize for being so uncharitable," she started. "I've been an insufferable bitch and I know it."
He scoffed at her. His lips curled. "Insufferable doesn't even begin to cover it, Shiloh. You messed in things of which you had clue about. Did you really think a wide eyed wet behind the ears naïve little girl like you could truly comprehend just what you were getting into when you first made a deal with your patron?"
Her brows furrowed, but she said nothing.
"Demon gods don't offer instruction manuals, stupid. He's been using you, siphoning a hell of a lot more than your sexual energy and you didn't even know it. Clueless little girl, when will you ever learn?"
"And you have all the answers, right? Because demonology is second nature to you. Is that it?"
He shook his head, "I simply knew what I was getting into."
She rubbed her face. "Look, I didn't come here to fight. Pia thinks we need a heart to heart to clear the air so everything will be peaches and cream, but it's too late for that."
"Shiloh, Pia sees fluffy kittens in the place of rabid wolves," he retorted.
"I'm aware of that. She was horrified by some of the things I've done, but I'm not here to talk about lovely Pia. This is about us and how we're going to co-exist with each other long enough to rescue Nathan. I'm tired of the fighting and constant snarking. I can never make up for the past, for things I've done, but I can move forward and hope the weight of my guilt doesn't drag me down."
Their eyes met. Vico shook his head before looking away. A moment or two passed before he pushed himself to his feet. "Let's just see to Nathan." He walked away with nary of glance back at her. Shiloh followed, shaking her head. Damn that man was exasperating, but he had a point. Nathan was all that mattered at the moment.
They rejoined Pia, both looking grim, but their game faces were back in place. "So what now? The boat's no good." Pia spoke up.
Vico rolled his eyes, "Just what we need, a boat with no bottom."
"Well, it certainly has seen better days, that's for sure." Shiloh peered out across the lake. "The island isn't too far away from here. A skilled swimmer shouldn't have too much trouble reaching it."
"Hmmm," Vico rubbed his jaw. "And how do you propose to get the rest of us over?"
"I'll improvise," she replied. "Maybe I'll find something over there."
He nodded, looking at her and Pia intently, "Then that begs the question of who here can swim because I sure as hell can't."
Pia shook her head, "I never learned."
"So it's fucking not going to work," he sighed.
"Well, I do know how to swim. I learned when I was a little girl. I even had my own pool in the castle."
Vico looked her up and down, though his expression was neutral, "You, Shiloh? I thought all nobles avoided water."
She frowned at him, "No more than ugly gutter thugs. Besides does it really surprise you? I'm pretty sure I can swim across to the lodge. It's not that far." She dug into portable hole, retrieving a spyglass. She held it up, gazing across the lake. "I don't see anything like a postern gate, but there is an open window."
"That's all well and good, but what then? Are you going walk up the wall? You have to think about these things, consider your actions and not blindly stumble through it, hoping you get lucky."
"Then I'll swim around the island looking for the postern gate, and if not I'll improvise like I said. I do have some rope. I've climbed into towers before."
"Just don't end up as fish food," he grumbled.
"I'll be fine, Vico. Stop worrying about me."
He pinched the bridge of his nose, "I'm always worried when you try to use your head, Shiloh. Alas, I've no better idea at the moment."
"I can do this. Let me." Her gaze turned serious. She stowed the spyglass back in the portable hole, removing a tent which she tossed at his feet. "That should keep you and Pia out of the rain."
He pursed his lips, a muscle ticking in his cheeks then nodded, "Fine, but all you'll do is explore. Are we understood? Try to find a way to get me and Pia over there."
She nodded, biting her tongue at the moment a nasty retort nearly slipped from her lips. Not now. Don't antagonize the beast. "Yes, daddy Vico," she grinned and quickly slipped back out of her armor, stripping down to her bare skin again. She made her way to the shoreline, dipping her foot into the water. With a shiver, she pulled it back out. Damn, why's it have to be so cold, she pondered inwardly.