12:17 am, Seattle. The underground maze.
Several stories overhead, winter was storming, its sheer ferocity dissuading even the most grizzled, stoic Seattlites. The streets were bare of the usual Saturday night bargoers, the urge to carouse snuffed by an instinctive and very mammalian urge to seek shelter.
Hidden away beneath brick and beam and layers of raw earth, the weather meant less than nothing to Traya. Atmospheric events came and went as they had since time immemorial, and though they were of no consequence to her, Traya was somewhat fond of them. Storms—particularly the more destructive sort—aligned with their purpose, sowing misery and discord like an unleashed beast on a rampage.
The low pressure that accompanied storms usually put her in good humor, and indeed she had been a click more benevolent than her usual monotone. But that was before she’d detected the approach of another.
It was unmistakable, heralded by a concentric thrum that expanded out from where it landed. The candle flames flickered minutely and Traya lifted her head, gazing sightlessly at the ancient brick walls of her sanctum. Her thralls stilled at their tasks, each of them privy to a small fraction of their mistress’ awareness.
One of the dominions had come to seek an audience. The Archfiendess remained unmoved as she turned back to the girl who sat grooming her nails. Slowly, she retracted her hand, examining her thrall’s handiwork without expression. The aura that approached needed no scrying; it seethed endlessly, a lurid miasma that gave him away.
Traya’s nostrils flared, the only outward show of displeasure. “We have a visitor,” she muttered. “Nuyak grottu, kia nun.”
Despite her toneless summons, her thralls were quick to obey, moving with a grace that belied their lack of sight. As one, they assembled at the foot of her throne, the white of their gowns pooling over the floor like spilled milk. Not moments later, the door of her lair swung wide and the Archfiend himself strode through, heralded by a puff of stale air.
A nanosecond later, his signature animosity hit them with a wave of furnace-like energy, causing her thralls to shift and grit their teeth. His eyes burned through the shadows, baleful amber beams that honed in on her.
Traya was unmoved, returning his stare from the depths of her hooded robe. Her venomous cohort would only be here if there were no other option...which meant, he wanted something only she could give.
“Maul...it’s been long since you sought me out. To what do I owe the honor of your visit?” While polite, her greeting held all the warmth of an age-old tomb.
“With your precognition, surely you know,” Maul spat, not bothering with a greeting of his own.
Even knowing the archdemon was incapable of being anything other than inflammatory, Traya couldn’t help the tide of annoyance that surged through her. Maul knew that her foresight did not apply when it came to demonkind, and that the fates of their thralls were blurred by proximity. Of course, he would overlook this in the interest of goading her, all while tainting her sanctum with his acrid presence.
Met with frosty silence, Traya’s peer continued undeterred. “You can blame my coming on Kylo’s little pet, though his disgusting behavior leaves me wondering who rules who. When you met his thrall at the Akeldama—you read her aura, and I would know why.”
For all her irritation with Maul, his purpose struck a deeper nerve: something had impelled the reading, and what she’d glimpsed….
It had unsettled her then, and the inquiry only renewed that disquiet. Traya’s ashen face revealed nothing as she debated whether to answer him plainly.
Predictably, the delay aggravated him. “ What compelled you?” he barked out, beginning to pace. It was a move she’d seen him do thousands of times, a bid to cage the inferno within.
“Curiosity,” she muttered, making her decision. “Instinct. A meld of the two, coupled with information gathered.”
Maul drew up short, his scowl giving way to a menacing grin. “Ah, yesss—your studious little mole Qui Gon pulled his weight.” He gestured at Traya as if she were naught but a thrall bound to obey him. “And?”
Traya’s eyes gleamed like twin pools of oil, reflecting the candlelight from the depths of her hood. “What I saw in the girl needn’t concern you.”
Anything but cooperation was enough to send Maul into fits of rage, and he didn’t disappoint.
“Wha aat ? You think I didn’t notice your alarm? I saw everything !” He leveled an accusing finger at Traya, claw-tipped and quivering with rage. “ Virt'ne tash kia nün —you said that Ren would bring chaos down on us!”
The Archfiend leaned forward, his red skin virtually glowing in the jump of candlelight. “I will know your mind, Traya,” he warned, his growl ricochetting from the walls in jagged echoes.
A thick silence descended, marred only by the quickened breath of her terrified thralls.
Traya’s mouth twitched, revealing her irritation. She did not deign to discuss the amorphous vision she’d gleaned from Ren’s thrall. It was wild, improbable, and certainly erroneous, a bone she’d continue to gnaw on without the input of her grating counterpart. But there were other things she could share with Maul...things that would most definitely distract him.
“Ren’s thrall possesses an unusual resistance,” she said finally. “She is capable of holding his influence at bay—to a degree—succumbing only to one of his unbreakable vows. This particular strength was undoubtedly the lure that drew him, as we both know he’s never shown interest in thralls before.”
“No, he hasn’t,” Maul grunted, and Traya could practically see the wheels turning as he digested the news. The Archfiend of rancor was a creature beholden to his nature; his strength lay in his ability to sow the worst of human emotion, and he wore it all on his sleeve. It made him predictable, predictable and easy to manipulate.
“Ren is rather...invested,” she went on. “Perhaps this is to be expected, as this girl is the first he’s ever found value in.” A slow, ghastly smirk spread over her face as she paused. “To that end, he conjured a ruoverg blade and used it to bind her.”
Maul’s eyes flared, practically bulging. “He what?”
“What’s more—he exchanged blood, more thorough a binding than any we’ve cared to use.”
Such was his surprise that Maul blinked, speechless for the briefest second. It was just what Traya hoped for, an indication that she’d managed to distract him. She gloated inwardly as his shock darkened into something harrowing.
“He goes too far, Traya,” he burst, gaining steam. “She is a mortal, meaningless, nothing but chattel—”
“What Kylo does with his thrall is none of our concern,” Traya interjected, as glacial as he was volcanic.
“You would defend him?!”
“I do not,” she snapped, grown weary of his interrogation. “I merely state the facts. If you are so concerned over Kylo’s affairs, take it to the Fallen.” She eyed him calculatingly, interlacing her bony fingers. “You know he is already aware of Kylo’s doings…”
Maul exhaled hard through his nose and reverted to familiar ground. “If you’re not with me, you’re against me.”
It toed the line of a threat, and Traya, so slow to wrath, finally lost her temper. A tremor pulsed out from the seat of her throne, extinguishing the candles en mass.
Her blind acolytes flinched, bowing their heads as the fury of their mistress crackled through the room.
Traya animated, hands curling into claws as she leaned forward in her seat. “I tire of you Maul,” she hissed, baring pointed, yellow teeth. “Put your menace to better use and go—it is wasted on me.”
Maul’s tattooed lips skinned back in a sneer, pleased to have gotten a rise out of her. Recognizing that he’d worn out his tenuous welcome, he shifted his attention to the closest of Traya’s thralls and lunged, stopping mere inches from the protective field of Traya’s claim.
It was an idle threat, and they both knew it. Still, he eyed the girl’s bloodstained blindfold with interest. “This one’s new, is she not? Release this little morsel into my care,” he rasped, stroking the air around her quivering thrall, causing it to sizzle and snap. “As a gesture of solidarity between us.”
Her acolyte shuddered with revulsion, flattening herself to the foot of the throne. The sweet, pungent scent of her terror filled the room and Traya licked the back of her teeth, unable to not appreciate it. Even so, the mention of mutual solidarity was a far cry, and there was no way she’d relinquish her latest conscript, not to the scourge before her, or to anyone.
“You have your own toys,” she muttered dismissively, recognizing an idle threat. “Now be gone.”
Maul’s head snapped up as he straightened, the thrall instantly forgotten. “You will regret your inaction, Traya,” he barked, his animosity suddenly revived.
“We shall see,” she countered icily, settling back on her throne.
With a final, burning glare, he departed, leaving the dust motes careening in his path.
As his influence waned, Traya’s thralls collectively relaxed, their slight, bony frames sagging in relief.
Traya ignored them completely as she brooded over Maul’s spewings, still tracking the retreat of his distinctive energy signature. Just before it faded from her awareness, another winked into being alongside it. Though it was weak beside Maul's infernal blaze, it glowed with a dogged malevolence all its own.
The demoness recognized its owner, and her eyes gleamed from the darkness of her hood.
This would be interesting.
12:17 am, Seattle, Washington.
Geneva's tempestuous weather had traveled home with them, and the Puget Sound convergence had translated it into its own special brand of punishment: unending curtains of freezing rain driven by bands of onshore winds, the mercury hovering a stubborn click above freezing. Outside, the night tore through the city, lashing at the buildings with icy claws, rattling patio doors and pummeling the city with hailstones. Inside, it might have been a balmy summer night, for all Rey registered it.
Her flat had morphed into a dark, filthy little den, all awareness distilled into sensation. Everything was slick and warm, slurping and pushing and bending and pulling. Her heightened nerves sparked at the scrape of his canines, her thighs ached when he pushed her a little too wide.
She was made for consumption and he was made to consume. Such frank symmetry could only be embraced, and embrace it she did—letting him immerse her in decadence and ruin, ecstasy so rich, it rotted the soul.
“The pleasure IS the punishment…”
Once, he’d described it to her thusly, though she hadn’t understood how very fluid the notion could be. Now, as his tongue mapped the cleft of her ass and lit every nerve ending she never knew she had, she felt no guilt for what they did...and more vitally, for who or what was doing it to her.
It had been proven time and time again—there was nothing to stop him from taking whatever he wanted—
She gasped, her cunt spasming as two fingers speared into it. The deep rumble of his voice was like velvet in her mind, stroking sensuously. It was an extension of the rest of him, fingers massaging as he continued to slurp and lick at the furled little hole between her cheeks.
Liquid pleasure detonated inside her, expanding up her spine. Rey found herself lifting from the mattress, levitating as his name burst forth in unconsecrated rapture.
And here was the meaning of it all, the beating heart of his punishment. His bestial growls vibrated her flesh, and who said she wanted to stop? There was only more; more sensation to drown in, more to learn. Deeper to mute the dwindling protestations of her former self, darker to make her strong.
The pleasure Is the punishment.
Amidst the feverish flex of their bodies and lewd wet slide, she understood how layered his statement was. Such a clever twist she could never have predicted, a subterfuge that aligned her with the villain between her legs.
She’d gone from horror at her ability to feel non-consensual pleasure, to guilt over how very willing she now was to embrace it. Truly, it was a degradation—a subtle torment that ate her from the inside.
Now, even that sense of guilt had eroded away.
Her back snapped up at the broad nudge of his cockhead, body shivering with baited anticipation. The demon hovered there a beat, letting her stare blindly into the dark before taking her with a violent thrust. Her shriek followed a choked moment of silence, her brain struggling to catch up with the old miracle, fumbling every time over how in the world her body could so suddenly accommodate all of that. Then she was pleading wordlessly, twitching and throbbing around him as he growled his satisfaction.
He began to move and obscenities lapped through her mind like dark water—his native tongue—and before long, she was rocking back against him, ass up, face skidding over satin as they rutted like beasts in the night.
His hands gripped her hips, steadying her as he cut ties with restraint. “No mercy for you, little love, no quarter.”
Rey wailed like the storm outside, convinced she could feel each thrust all the way up in her throat.
No mercy, no quarter. It was demonspeak for I am yours and you are mine, and nothing will stop my having you. Her hands fisted in the sheets, teeth locked in a rictus. Perhaps her monster was right, for somewhere along the way, she’d come to crave the ruthlessness and the destruction, taking all the love he gave.
With a final, lingering lick of her throat, Kylo disentangled himself and eased toward the edge of the bed. Rey watched him stand with half-lidded eyes. She felt like the centerpiece of a crime scene and didn’t need to look down to confirm she looked like one too. Crusts of blood adorned her left breast and collarbone, and their combined fluids were smeared from her navel to her streaked thighs. In the wake of it all, the mess didn’t matter, not when movement was too much to ask.
“There is a matter I must attend to,” he announced, walking over into her living area and treating her to a prime view of his exquisitely muscular backside. “It will take me away for longer than usual; two, maybe three days.”
Rey blinked the film of water from her eyes, focusing. Was that…reluctance she heard? He stood like a brooding statue, hands on his hips as he contemplated…what? Through the warm fog of her lethargy, the notion that he wasn’t happy gained credence.
Tired though she was, it was impossible not to goad him. “Has your master given you an unsavory errand?” she asked, stretching languidly.
“The errand, I could do without, but that isn’t the issue.” He turned to face her, unsmiling. “It’s the leaving.”
His implacable gaze was deep and somber, a ghostly caress she could literally feel. He had just fucked her within an inch of her life, which wasn’t unusual. But the feverish, almost desperate hunger with which he’d ravished her had smoothed into something altogether different.
Perhaps it was the way he vanquished only to turn around and worship, or maybe her common sense had finally eroded all the way through. Whatever the case, Rey found herself responding, “Oh? Then perhaps you should take me with you…”
Now, he smiled, his eyes glimmering with that vital golden-brown that always scrambled her circuitry. “I’d bring you if I could, little vixen. You’d like the locale far more than I, though you’d find the company lacking”
“Where are you going?”
“To the Caribbean.”
“To do what?”
His smile curdled. “To deal with a monster.”
“Mmm,” was all she said, somewhat distracted as she traced the interwoven symbols that flowed from the knuckles of his hand all the way up the sides of his neck and down over each pectoral. Meeting his eyes left no doubt about it—he wasn’t happy, and that made her feel uncertain.
“Is he better looking than you?” she quipped.
“Not unless you like eyeless limbless hellspawn with insatiable appetites,” he purred, meandering back to where she lay. All signs said he intended to pounce, and she had braced for it when he stopped abruptly. His expression sharpened, and though he was looking at her, Rey had seen this behavior enough to know he was privy to something she couldn’t detect.
A moment later, he confirmed it. “I must go now,” he stated, distractedly running a hand down his body. Clothing appeared in its wake, hiding his godlike build from her sight.
She sighed quietly. What she wanted was sleep, but his behavior was peculiar and it had her attention.
“You will be well guarded in my absence,” he continued, suddenly businesslike as he strode to sit on the side of the bed.
Well guarded meant… “You got me a babysitter?” she whined, animating.
“A bodyguard,” he corrected. “Azrael is my most trusted lieutenant, and discrete. You won’t even know he’s there.”
It annoyed her to no end, and the fact that HE was the only reason she even needed guarding was not lost on her. She eyed him with a mutinous glare, aware that it was all she could do.
His smirk spoke volumes, and when he collected her from the bed, she remained limp as a form of protest. “I don’t believe it,” she muttered under her breath, just getting the words out before he pulled her into a kiss.
Her eyes fluttered closed and she growled as his deft tongue began its work. He was masterful at what he did, getting under her skin until she embraced him back, her hands wandering up to catch in his hair.
Satisfied with her response, he pulled away and gazed down at her. His pupils flashed carmine and she stiffened, adrenaline shooting through her veins. There were times when he seemed so achingly, deceptively human, and the ominous reminder of his true form took her aback with jarring speed. Unable to look away from his burning stare, she breathlessly waited for whatever had brought his hellfire to surface.
Through her fight-or-flight response, she numbly registered that he’d taken her hand. At the feel of something solid, she risked a look down and started at the sight of an exquisite golden dagger. It was heavy enough that she nearly dropped it—solid gold from its weight and undiminished gleam, its pitted lapis handle carved with cuneiform.
Ignoring the protest of her abdominals, she sat up with a soft gasp, carefully turning the stunning thing over with hands that shook. “Sumerian?” she croaked, examining the glyphs and painstakingly-carved lion pommel.
“Close. It’s Scythian, and a singular piece. Consider it a personal contribution to your collection.”
Something towering and monstrous twisted within her, impossible to allay. With a surge of strength, she launched into his arms, hugging him with the priceless dagger still clutched in one hand. “It’s exquisite,” she mumbled, drinking in the heat he exuded for an endless moment. “Thank you.”
Releasing him, she found she didn’t trust herself to meet his eyes. Gazing down at the gift, she mumbled, “So, um, do I need to worry about being nabbed for antiquity theft?”
Her demon laughed, his mirth beautiful and terrible all at once. “No visits from Interpol, that can I promise,” he said, setting her back on the bed as he stood to take his leave.
When he stroked her cheek, she found herself tilting to receive the caress, the staccato of her heart unfamiliar and strange.
The air stirred and she glanced up in time to see his wings unfurl. They were soft and black and as impossible as the rest of him. Her heart did its foreign throb and she clutched the dagger, watching him depart.
“It is the only one of its kind, so take care of it, little love.”
Traya to her flock: “Nuyak grottu, kia nun” -- “My thralls. To me.”
Maul to Traya: “Virt'ne tash kia nün” -- “Don’t lie to me.”