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DeRosa/Edea/Einheria, Non-con, hypnotism, bondage

Beneath the dazzling lakeside city of Florem, far removed from the gaudy lights and the outlandish, blossoming architecture of the water-borne haven, one man had founded a lonely kingdom below the earth to call his own.

It was not always so lonely, Fiore DeRosa reminded himself with a dirty little smile, as if sharing a lewd joke with himself. Feminine company had been far from scarce within this subterranean realm of late; after all, it was only fitting that even this dismal, sunless corner of Florem should play host to flowers of its own, even if the girls of the once-devout matriarchy were these days as loud and vapid and disgracefully garish as the clothes they wore and the tarnished city itself.

DeRosa much preferred the near-silence of his clandestine laboratory to the occasional entertainments of the capital. A man would not even have been permitted to take up permanent residence in the city itself, but down here in the murky bowels of the shopping district, surrounded by his constantly-bubbling machinery and the thick purple fog it exuded as it carried out its sinful work, everything was on his terms.

The women, especially.

The sweet-smelling fumes given off by the maze of pipes and valves and processing tanks packed into the laboratory might had no effect on DeRosa himself, but the red mage knew all too well what the chemicals being pumped into the air could do to the senses of any woman who ventured here in his company. The mild state of arousal that resulted from inhaling the fumes was minor enough that it did not raise suspicion in his many female guests... although most of those he did bring into his secret parlor had already fallen under his spell by other means.

It had taken close observation of his subordinates in the Bloodrose Legion, the only women to come down here other than his victims, to realize that even the wafting by-product of his experiments could tamper with the sexual urges of a woman’s body and mind.

With considerable fondness he allowed himself to recollect the moment he had made this discovery - that glorious moment when he had noticed the emerald-haired Mephilia Venus unconsciously pawing herself beneath her elaborate summoner’s costume. Giving nothing away, DeRosa had simply allowed the witch to entertain him as well as herself, taking in the flushed cheeks and uncomfortable demeanor of her elder sister, Einheria, as she gave her latest report. Even the ever-masked youngest sister, fierce little Artemia, had seemed to be in considerable discomfort while in the laboratory...

The memory of that day brought a smirk to DeRosa’s handsome face. Even the formidable Venus sisters of Eternia had fallen under the spell of the purple-tinged mist, a simple side-effect of the laboratory’s true purpose. What chance did the vacuous women of Florem have against the finished product?

The cologne he had concocted from the rare and precious ingredients the sisters had gathered for him made the mist cloaking the lab look like some street-corner charlatan’s aphrodisiac. One sniff was all it took for any woman he had tested it on to fall wildly in love with him, intoxicated by the venomous mixture of pheramore and nidaphyx, at least for a few days without receiving a second dose. With this potent perfume in hand, DeRosa intended to corrupt the matriarchy of Florem to its core and bring the entire city to its knees. One woman at a time.

Of course, what was the point of devising such a delightful fragrance if one did not enjoy its benefits in other ways? Why not pluck a few extra delicate petals along the way?

As the list of his conquests continued to mount, the names of the many Florem women he had seduced blurring together in his mind, DeRosa found himself bored with the ease of it all. The sex was always amusing, that the red mage could not deny, but they were all the same, these women of the Water Crystal’s domain. Vain, preening, foolish creatures with little concern beyond buying their next eye-searing dress or musing on their next outrageous hair-style.

Of course, that was partly DeRosa’s fault in the first place - he and the Venus sisters had ensured that plenty of lovely but mind-addling products were sold in the markets of Florem - but that hardly made a difference to his increasing boredom. He had even attempted to seduce one of the city’s peacock-like women without the aid of the cologne, but without it none of them had given him a second glance.

He might have been offended, had a single one of them been worth pursuing for more than sex and the Bloodrose Legion’s plan. Thirty-eight is not old, you shallow little harlots... but why bother seducing you the old-fashioned way when you’re more tolerable drugged out of your wits?

How boring.

~ ~ ~

So it went for tedious weeks on end, a ceaseless parade of rainbow narcissists... until a messenger from his homeland of Eternia arrived in Florem, a missive in his hand and a young girl in tow.

DeRosa’s eyes scanned the leaf of paper he had been given for a second time, re-reading each and every handwritten word to ensure that he had properly comprehended the message. Every neatly scrawled letter was just as it had been upon the first reading, right down to the imperious signature of Templar Braev Lee as the bottom. New orders from his master, the leader of the nation of Eternia.

A new subordinate had been assigned to his command. Not just any old subordinate, either; a newly minted officer, one of low rank but great significance nonetheless.

DeRosa’s gaze shifted from the page to the young woman standing before him on the Eternian airship’s deck. Resolute blue eyes stared back at him, steady and composed, without any sign of the nerves he would have expected of a soldier on her first assignment. Wavy, pale blonde hair, somehow neat yet disordered at the same time, veiled a slight but powerful form clad in common red-and-black armor. White trousers, a pair of gloves and knee-high leather boots completed the girl’s battle dress, her blade sheathed by her side.

Edea Lee, daughter of the Templar himself. Eighteen years old, dispatched to Florem on her very first mission. DeRosa had to admit that she was lovely, if a little young for him.

“Welcome to Florem, Edea,” he purred, folding the missive and tucking it into the opened breast of his dashing crimson dress shirt. She shifted in discomfort as he used her given name so freely, but did not dare address it, just as he had hoped. A quick lesson in who was in charge in the Florem detachment, high birth be damned. “I am Fiore DeRosa, Captain of the Bloodrose Legion. I believe you are acquainted with my second-in-command, Einheria Venus?”

Edea nodded stiffly, all formality. “We trained under the same master, sir. Is she here?”

“Unfortunately, no. She and her sisters are on various assignments of their own around the country, though she is expected to return to Florem city in a day or two.” DeRosa smiled at Edea, an unsettlingly insincere gesture. “I may send you to accompany her on her next mission, but until then, you will come back to Florem with me. It is a few hours walk from here; I am sure you can understand why the Duchy cannot land a military airship closer to the capital at such a time.”

He could read the disappointment in her clear blue eyes, and savored it. Would this brat try to interfere with his plans for Florem? The exact details of the Bloodrose Legion’s endeavors in the land of the Water Crystal were unknown to the Templar and the rest of the Council, cloistered away back in the icy mountains of their Eternian home. That uncompromising fool of a Templar would surely disapprove of the means by which DeRosa and the Venus sisters had set about destabilizing Florem, even if he would not argue with the result.

As he turned away from Edea, DeRosa began to mull. The Templar’s daughter was a wild card he hadn’t planned on having to shuffle into his deck. Yes, sending her across the country with Einheria was his best bet, whenever the damnable valkyrie returned from skewering Crystalists.

In the meantime, he would simply have to keep Edea busy, and away from his secret laboratory.

~ ~ ~

That plan lasted barely a few hours after their return to Florem.

DeRosa, intent on keeping Edea out of his way while he tended to business in his laboratory, had ordered the pretty young knight to go out into the city to familiarize herself with the location she had been assigned to destabilize. Already the girl was starting to get on his nerves; he could sense her distaste for him and for the subterfuge necessary in the Bloodrose Legion’s plot. A straight arrow, just like her Templar father. Yes, she was best kept well away from the darker detail of DeRosa’s plots.

Of course, it had not been that simple. Of course, Edea had happened to catch sight of him as he made his way through the city on his own, and of course the nosy little cow had decided to follow him to his lair. The secret tunnel. The elevator leading to his lab. The mist-shrouded lab itself. She had found it all within hours of her arrival.

The large cage filled with DeRosa’s unconscious victims had done little to brighten her view of him.

“I wouldn’t expect you to understand,” the red mage sighed, and indeed, the thorough explanation of his master plan - some details omitted, naturally - had felt more and more like wasted breath with every word he spoke. Edea’s lovely face had only become all the more twisted with fury as he told her of what he and his concoctions had done to the women of Florem, her hand unconsciously straying closer to the hilt of her sword. Why had he even bothered? The girl might resemble her mother, but she was every bit her father’s daughter.

Insufferable.

“Oh, don’t make that face. Your father has given his full approval.” DeRosa gave Edea his most condescending smile to accompany the lie. If he possessed one talent other than his knack for chemistry, it was his ability to make even the most disgraceful falsehoods seems utterly reasonable by sheer force of personality. Before his cologne had come along, it had been more than enough to bring women to his bed.

This time, however, even his silver tongue was less than convincing.

“My father would never approve of such a plot!” Edea’s voice rang with self-righteousness, soaring above the chugging and bubbling of the mist-spewing machinery at her back. “You mean to deceive me. You’ve been deceiving Father and the Council of Six all along. I can’t permit you to-”

“To do what?” Scorn replaced sugar in DeRosa’s hardening tone, the mask of the charming philanderer falling away. “To carry out my orders as given? Do you mean to turn your back on your father’s wishes the moment you find out that war isn’t always the fairytale you had thought? Perhaps he pushed you out of the nest a little too soon.”

“This isn’t war!” Edea did not back down, her gloved hand now visibly curling around the hilt of the katana sheathed at her waist. For security, DeRosa surmised with a derisive curl of his lip; surely even such a headstrong brat wouldn’t actually dare to defy him outright. “This is kidnapping innocent people! Destroying their minds... and for what?! Florem hasn’t so much as raised a sword against us!”

Her cheeks were ever-so-faintly flushed, DeRosa noted, though that might have been from anger more than the effects of the fumes. He snorted. “Taking control of Florem is necessary if we are to realize your father’s dream. Better this than, as you suggest, raising a sword against them. Now, enough banter. Are you going to be a good girl and fall into line, or are you going to cause trouble?”

“Ngh...” Edea was wavering; he could sense her uncertainty. Had he pushed the right buttons? Did dear old Daddy’s approval mean more to her than her inconvenient sense of justice? So easily manipulated, just like the rest of her gender...

“...Prove it to me.”

DeRosa’s eyebrow rose, a simple motion that belied the true depths of his surprise. “I beg your pardon?”

“You heard me.” Though her hand had slipped away from her blade, Edea seemed invigorated by DeRosa’s hesitation, taking a defiant step towards him, her eyes locked on his. So the little minx would challenge him after all. “If my father has approved this sordid endeavor, you’ll have some kind of evidence. Something signed by his hand that proves without a doubt that he condones this depravity. Show me!”

Damn it. Of course, there was no such evidence... and if DeRosa could not produce it, the brat would surely expose his scheme to her father at the earliest opportunity. That would not do at all. Curse it all, if he had only known in advance that the Templar would assign his damned daughter to the Bloodrose Legion, he might have had time to forge something to convince her that all was in order!

His first instinct, to lie, had failed. His second instinct, to kill, was not an option when dealing with the Templar’s own spawn.

But perhaps...

“Oh, I have evidence.” Another lie left DeRosa’s lips, though merely a prelude to a more potent solution. “Allow me to find it for you, if you would be so kind as to wait there.”

Not bothering to wait for an answer from the irritating girl, the red mage took his leave, ascending the staircase at the far side of the laboratory and coming to a halt at his desk on the upper level. Page after page of his research documents had been piled here, along with the many missives he had received from the Venus sisters and the Duchy, but most importantly it was where he kept several vials of the cologne that he had worked so hard to concoct.

Just a little should do the trick. You really aren’t my type, but you have forced my hand, little bird.

Snatching up a sheaf of completely irrelevant papers - documents relating to a new unit of Bloodrose troops, he believed - DeRosa climbed back down the staircase, reeking of the sweet scent of his mind-addling cologne. It was impossible to keep the smug smile from his lips as he returned to where Edea had been waiting for him, though he would allow her to think that it was the ‘evidence’ in his hand that had coaxed it from him for the moment. “You wanted proof? Here.”

He could sense Edea’s uncertainty as she snatched the papers from his hands. His feigned confidence had begun to worry her, and by the time she realized that the ‘evidence’ of her father’s complicity was no such thing...

“Nnhh...”

Hardened leather heels scuffed against the floor tiles as Edea staggered back, a hand rising to her temple, her eyelids fluttering in distress. The rosy flush in her cheeks deepened and darkened as the chemical mist that had seeped into her system was overwhelmed by the more potent cologne, infusing her body with tingling, throbbing heat.

The papers drifted to the floor, no longer of any import to either of them. The drug was taking effect with devastating swiftness, as if the purple fog Edea had already inhaled had weakened her mental defenses. Those clear blue eyes, once determined and outraged, now squinted at DeRosa’s face as if trying to discern from his amused visage just what was happening to her. Her forehead glistened with sweat, matting strands of pale blonde hair against her face and tricking down her nose, there to caress flesh that burned with unnatural warmth. She swayed, listless, confused...

You’re mine.

It was as if a shield had broken, Edea’s mental guard dissolving, exposing her vulnerable self within. “Ugh... s-sir...?”

DeRosa could see naught but love in her once-hostile gaze. Her formerly stoic bearing had loosened, her brazen stance - legs spread, hand on hip, chest thrust forward - more befitting of a back-street harlot than an officer of Luxendarc’s finest military. Whatever had his concoction awakened? “Are you displeased by how I conduct the Duchy’s affairs in Florem, Edea?”

Her forehead wrinkled, still sparkling with beads of sweat in the unearthly light, as if she were on the verge of remembering something. However, all that emerged was a crooked, cheeky little smile. “No, sir... but I... um...”

DeRosa allowed a thin charcoal eyebrow to soar, as if he had no idea what she might say. “Yes, Edea?”

“I... you and I...” The wavering words slipped from Edea’s careless lips without consideration or regret. Every safeguard in her proud little head had been shut down by the insidious drug, every sober thought blotted out by ardent lust. Swaying hips carried her towards DeRosa, her sword belt forgotten as she near fell into him, her gloved palms pressing firm against his chest. Her entire body simmered against him as she pushed herself up onto her tiptoes, her flesh heating his own even through her light armour, her lips rising in search of his. “Should get better acquainted.”

Still not my type, but this is a rare opportunity. Gazing down into Edea’s hazily loving eyes, DeRosa allowed himself to smile a genuine smile. The Templar’s own daughter, mind addled by lust, here at his mercy. What better way to mock the mighty father than to despoil the daughter, even if she would not remember it when the drug had run its course? Oh, the things he could make her do...

His lips melded with Edea’s as he leaned into her, his tongue ravaging her hot, wet little mouth to the tune of her lustful moans. She rubbed against him all the more as he stole her breath away, her hips grinding against his, stirring his manhood into life beneath his emerald breeches. She was almost feverish with desire, her sweaty face aflame as her eager little hands darted against the sash cinched around his waist, seeking to unfasten the knot behind the ornamental rose. This fervid little display exceeded the ardour shown by the Florem women he had drugged, even those that had practically leapt into his bed. Was it her earlier exposure to the labratory’s fumes... or had this girl hidden a wild side beneath the guise of the dutiful knight?

Templar, if only you could see your precious daughter now.

“Undress,” he bade her as he withdrew, turning to ascend the stairs back to the upper level of the laboratory before his lustful little bird could protest.

Edea pouted in his absence, the heat nesting within her body denied for the moment, but did not hesitate to obey him. Her long gloves slipped from her wrists and fingertips, forgotten by the time they hit the floor, joined in moments by knee-high boots wrenched free and stepped from. She busied herself with buckles and fastenings, stripping herself of her trousers and armor as readily as if she had been in her company alone, and not baring herself before the red-haired man who had seemed so wrong from the moment they had met. Her sword belt clanked against tile, her only defense discarded without a thought.

From his position on the upper tier of the laboratory, DeRosa smirked and continued to gather his tools.

Her whole body was as beautifully flushed as her cheeks, the drug coursing by now through the entirety of her system, a fact most evident now that the Templar’s daughter now stood dressed only in a pittance of soft white fabric. A common soldier might have favored something cheaper and simpler than this, but Edea had fancifully clothed her intimate areas with bra and panties adorned with lacy, snow-white little frills, something that a newly-wed girl might think to wear on her wedding night. Her childish innocence amused DeRosa, but it was Edea’s next words that truly grabbed his attention, spoken in a sultry tone that belonged as much to the marital bed as her choice of undergarments.

“Should I stop here?”

Quite the little minx the Templar has raised, DeRosa noted, his own skin flushing with warmth, and not from the cologne or the mist. Clothed in battle gear and armed with her blade, Edea had been an irritation and a potential enemy to be dealt with, but half-naked and wearing that lustful little look, her clear blue eyes filled with drug-stirred mischief... he had underestimated her allure. His heart beat faster, his loins stirred more by this sight than the feel of her body pressing against his ever had. “N-no,” he commanded, annoyed at himself for stammering like a schoolboy. “Continue. The bow in your hair, too.”

A cheeky grin curved Edea’s lips as she untied the black-and-red bow from her pale blonde hair, her dainty hands carrying it behind her back as she sought the clasp of her bra. DeRosa’s eyebrows lifted along with his heart rate as the snowy garment fell away, revealing small but proud breasts, nipples perked from the cologne’s stimulation alone. She was watching him, thrusting her chest forward, showing herself off in a way that a rational Edea would never have dreamed.

DeRosa’s hands slipped and shook as they gathered the necessary items, excitement overcoming him in a way it rarely did.

By the time the red mage had returned to the lower level of the lab, Edea was already working her panties down her thighs with a seductive slowness that could surely be no accident. The frivolous little garment dropped uselessly to her ankles, but rather than kick it free of her legs, the blonde-haired vixen turned away from DeRosa and bent low to retrieve it with her hands, taking her time in stepping out of the lace-trimmed holes and displaying her most private places to his eyes.

The delighted grin that spread across DeRosa’s lips was fueled by lust only in part. What made this sight so delicious to the red mage was the knowledge that the Templar’s little girl would never have acted this way of her own volition. He had complete control over her, despite her prior fury and suspicion. Even her strong will had been effortlessly bent to his whims, the proud little knight transformed into a smiling harlot in a matter of moments from one little sniff of his wonderful cologne.

“Come here,” he commanded, and a thrill ran down his spine as Edea straightened and obeyed. It took all of the willpower he possessed not to throw her to the floor and mount her.

Instead, he set his burden down on a nearby table and turned back to her with but a single item remaining in his hand. The large rubber ball dangled in front of Edea’s face from the thick leather strap piercing the center, its bright red surface shining faintly in the dim basement light.

The corners of her lips quirked. “Is that for me?”

“The first of many gifts,” DeRosa assured her, forcing a pleasant tone into his voice as he stepped towards her, ball gag in hand. Edea was proving far more receptive to his demands than he had expected, even under the influence of the cologne, her behavior completely altered rather than merely influenced in his direction. How much of this change could be ascribed to the drug, and how much to Edea herself, beneath the uptight shell she had constructed for herself? How much of her wanted this, even if she did not also want him?

She accepted the large red sphere into her mouth with a flirty little wink, allowing him to wedge it behind her teeth and fill her mouth with its rubbery girth. Even as her jaw stretched to accommodate the intruder, her teasing words of appreciation stifled into murmurs by the oversized gag, she offered not even a hint of resistance to his buckling of the straps behind her head. Such a pliable girl, DeRosa marveled as he guided her towards the table and the restraints that he had laid out in wait for her. Surely, were she in her right mind, her compliance with such lewd commands would shame the lovely young knight.

It was almost a pity that these events would be wiped from Edea’s memory when the cologne’s effects faded. Her knowledge of the laboratory and their confrontation before her drugging would also be swept clean from her mind, but there was no reason he should not enjoy her in the meantime...

Unfortunately for the red mage, no sooner did he fit a pair of leather cuffs around Edea’s willingly offered wrists than did the mechanisms of the basement elevator begin to clank and whirr and grind.

Someone was coming.

DeRosa spat a curse, the cogs of his mind turning in tandem with those of the elevator. Very few people knew of the existence of this clandestine laboratory, and it was too well-hidden to be found by accident. He was here, and Edea was here, and that left only three possible visitors, none of them particularly welcome ones. Einheria, Mephilia or Artemia Venus, or even more than one of them. The warrior sisters were supposed to be busy with their own tasks; even Einheria was not scheduled to return for at least a day. Damn it...!

But a schemer like DeRosa was not one to be undone so easily. As the elevator rose to the mouth of the secret passage to meet the arriving intruder, the crimson-haired mage worked quickly. He guided Edea into the cage built into the laboratory wall, concealing her within the dark space beyond the warped golden bars, commanding her to be quiet as he hastened to collect the clothing she had left behind. He tossed each item into the confines of the dingy little cell - armour, gloves, boots, trousers, bow, sword belt, undergarments - heaping them on top of her to conceal the identity of the imprisoned girl. If he was lucky, perhaps his visitor might not notice anyone in there at all, but if he was unlucky enough for one of the Venus sisters to recognize their comrade...

The podlike elevator let out a rattling clunk as it returned to the lower floor, the iron doorway swinging open.

His hands working to latch the cage door closed on Edea, DeRosa turned to meet the new arrival with expertly feigned nonchalance. “Einheria. You’re early.”

“Is that a problem?” The eyebrow of the Valkyrie, Einheria Venus rose, threatening to soar above her forehead and be lost in her orderly blonde tresses. A vision of white and azure and gold, her athletic body garbed from neck to toe in the color of snow, Einheria was fortunate enough to look more natural than most in the frivolous but deadly garb bequeathed upon her by the Valkyrie’s asterisk, the source of her tremendous power in martial combat. Far more ostentatious than the Red Mage asterisk, DeRosa was prone to thinking with a mental sneer at the blonde warrior, with its angelic winged hairband, vivid blue ribbon upon its wearer’s breast, and the absurd but deadly skirt of spears that rose from her stiff white boots... but in battle it served her well, protecting her from assault and making her all the more dangerous as she bounded through the air with her lance in hand.

“Not at all. I was merely surprised.” DeRosa hid his annoyance and unease beneath a curtain of dismissiveness. “Your report, then? I trust you bring me good news.”

~ ~ ~

Einheria did indeed bring glad tidings, her operations against the cloistered Crystalists of Florem a stunning, if violent, success. As pleased as DeRosa was by the results the valkyrie had achieved, this woman had always annoyed him, and it dismayed him more than he cared to admit to see her prevail so dramatically. She was his subordinate, and her achievements reflected well upon him and the Bloodrose Legion in front of the Council of Six, but she had already been in danger of outshining him...

Still, the longer her report went on, the more apprehensive DeRosa became. What if her sapphire eyes wandered to the cage in the wall, and noticed someone there beneath the pile of clothing? What if she discovered Edea, her fellow pupil of Master Kamiizumi, nude and bound and drugged out of her wits? There would be no talking his way out of that.

“That concludes my report.”

“Mm.” DeRosa nodded, forcing himself to pay attention to what was happening right before him. There was no point worrying now; he had played his cards, and would simply need to hope that the rest fell in his favor. “Well done, Einheria. I have not yet heard from your sisters; may I assume that they have been working to such an exemplary standard?” Damn it all, that hurt to say.

Einheria’s features showed no reaction to DeRosa’s reluctant praise. “I have been in contact with their troops. Mephilia reports that she will be able to bring at least seventy-six Florie wings for processing when she returns to the city. In terms of orochi slain, Artemia reports-”

Metal clanked against the tiled floor, the sound ringing throughout the laboratory.

Einheria’s eyes darted to the cage, and DeRosa’s heart seized. He had told the fool girl to lie still, damn her! There was no further sign of movement beyond the twisted golden bars of the cage, but it seemed that the damage had been done. The valkyrie was already approaching the cell, curiosity and suspicion driving her on.

“There’s no need to worry about that,” the red mage insisted, taking a step after the white-clad warrior. “I had just finished locking up a shipment of supplies when you arrived. Perhaps I stacked them improperly.”

The lies came easily to his lips, as they always did, and they might even have been enough to dull Einheria’s suspicion had fate not had other ideas. Even the dull, purple-tinged light of the subterranean laboratory was enough for the keen-eyed valkyrie to spot the item that had fallen from the pile of clothing and gear; Edea’s sword belt, and the blade that had partially slipped loose from the scabbard.

“...Ise-no-Kami?” Einheria murmured, her voice sharp with shock.

Though unsure just what she was speaking of, DeRosa felt his blood run as cold as ice water. “I beg your pardon?”

“Ise-no-Kami. My master’s blade.” Einheria turned to face DeRosa, her finger pointing accusingly at the half-unsheathed katana, which had naturally fallen far too close to the bars of the cell to be missed. “What is it doing here? Why do you have it?”

No, of course it couldn’t be some run-of-the-mill infantry sword. Cursing his luck once again, DeRosa’s mind struggled to come up with a convincing falsehood that could make this entire problem vanish. Master Kamiizumi’s own sword. Perhaps he could claim that Kamiizumi himself had come to Florem to join them, but even if Einheria believed him, he would surely have to produce the man himself before long. A gift? No, that was outrageous. Laughable. A replica? Possible, but ludicrously thin...

“What is going on here, DeRosa?” Einheria had waited long enough for an answer, her suspicions ignited by his lengthy silence. The valkyrie’s white-gloved hand was already on the latch of the cage door, working it loose, and once she was inside there would be no hiding Edea from her.

Damn it, he was slipping. Again, just as with Edea, his lies had failed him. The cologne... he had to use the cologne! He took another step towards her, then another...

“Keep your distance!” Einheria snapped, glaring violently at him as she stepped inside the cell and picked up her master’s sword. The valkyrie might not have known the details of the perfume he had concocted - as far as he had told her, the toxic ingredients her feral sisters had gathered were for direct use on Florem’s population as hairpins and dye - but even she could see the wisdom in keeping him away from the cell door while she was within its confines. Einheria was rarely relaxed around DeRosa, but he could tell the difference between her grudging tolerance of him and the beginnings of genuine hostility.

If he could not lie to her, and could not get close enough to utilize his cologne or even to close the cell door on the tiresome woman, he was left with precious few options. If he was unable to stop Einheria before she discovered the truth, she would surely turn her spear on him. Skilled though he was, DeRosa knew that he was a poor match for the valkyrie’s agility and might.

...Of course! Einheria might have her asterisk’s abilities at her beck and call, but he still possessed his own. The red mage asterisk provided DeRosa with physical strength, a smattering of white magic... and black magic, as well. He had been a fool not to think of it sooner. Magic surged within his body, focusing into a very specific spell.

Many black magic spells were purely destructive, summoning flame or ice or lightning to tear apart one’s enemies. Some, however, were rather more subtle... and it was subtlety that he would need to employ if he were to have any hope of salvaging this situation.

“Sleep.”

The magical compulsion descended upon Einheria just as the valkyrie began to uncover the secret beneath the pile of clothing. The rigid shock on her noble features slackened as she was overwhelmed by the soporific spell, her mind shut down by encroaching lethargy. Even she, proud and powerful as she might be, could not resist such potent black magic. She collapsed to the floor, bereft of her senses, silent and still.

DeRosa allowed himself a satisfied smile. That would be the end of it, provided no more uninvited guests showed up. He could simply dose Einheria with the cologne as he had with Edea, and when it eventually wore off, her memories of these unpleasant few minutes would seep away with it, along with her recollection of what happened while it was in her system. All would be as it was before annoying little Edea had found his lab.

But... just what should he do until then?

DeRosa was hardly blind to the opportunity that had dropped into his lap. Two beautiful women, very nearly his enemies, were helpless and completely at his mercy. Their memories of what had and would occur within these walls would soon fade away, and while he doubted that he could manipulate these two long-term, as he had chosen to do with the women of Florem, the short term was tantalizing enough to consider.

Einheria Venus, his uptight, too-talented subordinate officer. Edea Lee, the Templar’s spawn and a nasty thorn in his side. Both women had caused him headaches. Perhaps they owed him pleasure, in repayment.

~ ~ ~

Once liberated from the pile of her own discarded clothing, then freed from her cuffs and her gag, the amorous Edea became a very willing accomplice.

DeRosa gave her careful orders and the equipment to carry them out, the pile of restraints he had brought out of storage for the Templar’s daughter now to be turned against Einheria instead. It would have been much simpler to bind the valkyrie himself, of course, particularly with the knowledge that the sleep spell he had cast upon her would not last for long, but a cruel idea had occurred to him as he considered how to proceed, and for it to work, he would need to keep several steps away from Einheria, letting Edea be his hands for the moment.

There was no need for Einheria to inhale the cologne just yet. For now he would ensure that she remained in her right mind, free of the desires he had forced upon Edea. Completely lucid.

It would be much more fun that way.

Completely enamored with DeRosa thanks to the cologne, Edea proved very eager to please him, following his orders to the letter no matter how fiercely she would have rebelled were she thinking straight. Her busy little hands divested the sleeping Einheria of the more unnecessary elements of her clothing - her skirt of spears, her gloves and boots, her angel-wing headband - casting each of them away without a second thought, stripping her down to the elaborate white dress that formed the centerpiece of her outfit. What remained would be enough to cover Einheria’s modesty, though it left her arms entirely bare and her legs exposed to her knees, but humiliating the valkyrie had not been DeRosa’s objective.

That could wait for when she was awake.

The red mage merely observed as Edea rolled her slumbering friend onto her stomach, pulling the valkyrie’s limp arms behind her back and buckling the leather cuffs around her wrists. Her bare legs were bent in two, ankles mashed against buttocks, thin straps biting into skin as they were wound about her folded thighs to keep them painfully in place. Ankles were drawn together, crossed over one another to force apart her knees, lashed in position with tight coils of rope and secured in turn to the cuffs binding her wrists. It was a tight, secure arrangement sure to keep her kneeling and powerless when the Sleep spell finally wore off.

Edea’s fingers slipped around the ball gag next, its rubber surface still slick with her own saliva, but DeRosa denied her with a shake of his head. “Not yet.”

As red mage and knight looked on, Einheria began to stir, a lethargic groan slipping from her mouth, consciousness slowly returning to her tightly bound form. Sapphire eyes slid open, focused, widened.

“Welcome back, Einheria.” There was no keeping the sneering self-satisfaction from DeRosa’s voice, but the time for masks had now passed. “Pleasant dreams, I trust?”

“Hmm...?” Perception gradually came back to the valkyrie, bringing with it a range of rather unpleasant and disquieting sensations. Her wits were sharp enough that it took only moments for her to realize that she was tightly bound, and little longer for her cheeks to flush at the discovery that she was wearing rather less than when she had abruptly lost consciousness. From there, the pieces of what had happened fell together rather easily, helped along by the sight of DeRosa’s leering face.

But... why was Edea here? More, why was she not making any move to help her? And what was that strange, spacey look on her face?

And where were her clothes!?

...Surely he hadn’t.

Had DeRosa interfered with her mind somehow? That was the only explanation that her own reeling mind could begin to accept, but Edea didn’t seem to be wearing one of those accursed hairpins, nor was her hair dyed in some garish shade. He must have done something else to her. Who knew what else he had concocted in this lair of his?

“Edea?” she ventured, testing the waters, completely ignoring DeRosa entirely for the moment. She knew the red mage well enough to know that it would irk him. “What is this?”

The young knight giggled and cast fawning eyes towards DeRosa, as if she were waiting for him to speak in her place. Einheria’s heart sank.

“This? Why, this is nothing to be concerned about.” The red mage’s lips slipped into a crooked smirk, his arm extending to slip around Edea’s shoulder. The little blonde was pulled close against DeRosa’s chest, an action that she did not resist in the slightest. Whatever he had done to her, it had definitely robbed her of her right mind. “We’re all friends here. Better than friends, in truth.”

Before Einheria’s horrified eyes, the rogue officer dipped his head to meet Edea’s, his lips touching hers in a heated kiss.

The valkyrie lurched against her bindings, cringing as the ropes and straps circling her limbs seemed to constrict against her skin. It was instinctive, her protective nature surging in response to an act she knew was unwilling, no matter how it looked. There was no way the straight-laced little blonde would do this of her own free will. “Edea! Stop it! Let go of her!”

“If you insist.” DeRosa terminated the kiss, licking his lips clean of Edea’s taste, his predatory gaze victorious as it found Einheria’s. The outrage written upon the valkyrie’s face was as delicious as the lingering flavor of the younger girl’s wet mouth. “Edea?”

“Mm?” The look of cheerful adoration on the blonde knight’s face could not be more at odds with the stricken visage of Einheria, the older woman’s teeth set in a grimace as her hands worked uselessly against the cuffs binding them behind her back. Edea’s relaxed, swaying posture, her complete lack of care for her brazen nudity, the hazy look in the girl’s normally sharp eyes... everything about her indicated that she was not in her right mind, and her foul superior officer had not just done this to her - he was taking full advantage. Had he already raped her?

Would Edea even know if he had?

DeRosa’s fingers brushed affectionately at the disordered, faintly sweaty blonde locks trailing against the knight’s porcelain cheek. She was smiling at the contact, her little pink lips sweetly turned up at the corners, as if they were some loving couple rather than a manipulative pervert and his prey. “Go and join your friend over there, dear,” the red mage murmured, just loud enough for Einheria to hear. “I think she’s feeling a little shy, but you and I can fix that.”

Edea didn’t hesitate to obey, very nearly skipping her way over to her helpless friend, her mind so fogged by DeRosa’s drug that the gravity of the situation was beyond her grasp. She dropped to her knees in front of Einheria, her breathing heavy and her cheeks flushed pink, her skin oddly slick with sweat and her small breasts hanging bare as if her nakedness meant nothing, her legs ever-so-slightly spread and granting a view of a small patch of pale blonde hair and delicate pink nether lips.

Einheria’s stomach turned at Edea’s soft smile. The bastard had made her want this. Given the choice, her friend would never have...

DeRosa cleared his throat. “You may begin.”

The valkyrie was given no time to wonder what he meant; it took only an instant for the pliant warmth of Edea’s lips to seize her own.

Her eyes shot wide open as Edea’s fluttered closed. Her cry of indignation was swallowed whole by the younger girl, the outside of her mouth painted in warm saliva as her molester’s tongue sought entry, but Einheria struggled to rein in her more violent instincts, forcing herself not to bite down on the drug-addled maiden.

It wasn’t her fault, she told herself over and over as Edea’s tongue pushed its way inside, the younger girl’s arms wrapping around her senior’s body to hold her still. This wasn’t Edea’s doing. It was DeRosa and his chemicals. They were making her do this, they were forcing her...

No matter how hard Einheria tried to pull away, Edea’s slender but strong arms kept her close, denying her the space to mount any real struggle. The young knight’s mouth pursued hers no matter which way she tried to turn, their lips somehow always touching, melding against each other in a torrid mix of saliva and sweat and some other taste Einheria couldn’t name. Some scent that didn’t belong in Edea’s breath.

“This is very nice, don’t get me wrong...” These patronizing words slithered from between DeRosa’s smirking lips as he joined them, stooping beside the two blonde girls at a distance of several feet to claim a closer look, “but I think there’s more to a good time than just kissing. You’ll drown the poor woman.”

Edea was still smiling that soft little smile as she broke away, a trail of drool swinging from her shining lips. She exchanged a glance with DeRosa as Einheria caught her breath, waiting for his next command.

“Oh, come now.” The red mage’s eyebrow lifted. “Don’t tell me you haven’t touched yourself before?”

Instantly, Edea’s hand dipped between her thighs, beginning to move back and forth in a gentle rhythm, only for DeRosa to call her to a halt with a cough.

“Well, I see that you don’t need any instruction there, but we shall save that for our private time later.” He chuckled, peering at Einheria as if he expected her to appreciate the joke. “I was hoping that you could use those talents on your friend here. Make sure that she feels good, understand?”

“Don’t you dare!” Already mortified at the sight of her friend with her fingers between her legs, a notion that she knew would have driven Edea to deliver a slap to DeRosa’s face were she in her right mind, Einheria attempted to shrink away from the advancing girl, struggling in vain to close her own thighs. With her ankles crossed and bound beneath her, however, it proved beyond her strength. “Edea, it’s Einheria! Stop this at once! You don’t want to do this!”

No hesitation, no response. Edea was upon her once again, the hand that she had begun to pleasure herself with rising to press against Einheria’s lips. The scent of Edea’s crotch invaded the valkyrie’s nostrils as a faintly wet knuckle rubbed against the base of her nose, others trying to fight their way through Einheria’s tightly pursed lips.

At the same time, though Einheria’s view was blocked by Edea’s hand and arm, she felt the younger girl’s other hand slip beneath her dress, sliding inside of her underwear in search of her own opening. Disgust flashed through Einheria’s mind, anger swirling within her at the violation, mixing with her blossoming fear in a cocktail of emotion to make her head spin. This couldn’t be happening.

As much as the valkyrie tried to brace herself for what was coming, the first touch of Edea’s warm little fingers against her lower lips was enough to make her cry out in distress. “Sto-mmmgh?!”

Her words of protest were instantly stifled. Taking the opportunity, the young knight’s dampened fingers on her free hand plunged deep inside of Einheria’s opened mouth, spreading the taste of herself throughout. Her digits chased the valkyrie’s tongue, rubbing against the insides of her cheeks, squirming here and there and...

Her face twisting in revulsion and panic, Einheria lost control. She bit down. Hard.

Edea recoiled, wailing in pain, scooting back from the woman who had hurt her, her hands withdrawing from mouth and panties. She sucked feverishly on the fingers Einheria had bitten, heedless of where they had been, her hazy blue eyes staring back at the older girl with hate. Anger.

...Confusion.

The little blonde blinked. Furrowed her forehead. Blinked again. Rubbed at her eyes with her injured hand.

When that hand fell away, she looked back at the valkyrie again, her eyes as clear and sharp as she had always remembered. “Einheria...?”

“Edea!” Joy broke through the wall of negative emotion that had enclosed Einheria, the fear and hopelessness that had overcome her now retreating like shadows exposed to the light. “Edea, it is I! Einheria! Y-you must...!”

Before she could complete her sentence, DeRosa swept in, capturing Edea’s wrist in his grip and pulling the naked girl close to him. It took only moments for the newfound clarity in the blonde knight’s eyes to fade away as she fell under the spell of his cologne once again, the uncertainty in her pretty face giving way to flushed cheeks and a sultry little smile.

No...!

“As you can see, my dear Einheria, pain can snap a girl out of her daze if given the chance.” DeRosa’s smile might have been called charming had Einheria not known the malice that lay beyond it, the monster behind the charismatic facade now laid bare. “One doesn’t take as many lovers to bed as I without discovering that little quirk. Fortunate that I am given to tying my girls down before the festivities begin.”

Einheria said nothing, her teeth clenched in anger. She had to focus on her fury, her hate for this degenerate, or be crushed by the sudden loss of her sole ray of hope. Her hands closed into fists in their leather cuffs, her whole body tensing within its bonds as if she were readying to strike her spear into his heart. If only.

“Feel free to keep hurting your friend if you wish. I can simply dose her again, after all... and again, and again...” The red mage was enjoying stamping her hope underfoot, relishing in closing off her only hope of escape. “When I finally tire of her, I will let the drug run its course, and her memories of what happened to her will flow out of her beautiful little body along with the toxins. Then... it will be your turn.”

The stare of pure, outraged hatred from the valkyrie inspired a callous grin from her adversary. “Oh, you may give me that look now, but one sniff of my cologne and you won’t be able to resist me. You will do absolutely anything I say... like this. Edea, take this and gag her. Oh, and don’t let her bite you again.”

From his pocket, DeRosa drew the same ball gag he had given to Edea earlier, its bright red surface still faintly slick with the lovely knight’s saliva. The templar’s daughter accepted it with a sweet little smile, letting it dangle from her hand as she brought it over to Einheria. “Open up,” she cooed, settling down in front of the captive woman once again, offering the damp sphere to her friend’s pursed lips.

Einheria tried to fight it, just the sight of the ridiculous gag making her bristle from wounded pride, but her means of resistance were lost to her. She couldn’t move, bound and cuffed in this uncomfortable position, and to open her mouth to plead with her drug-addled friend would be to invite the oversized ball into her mouth, silencing her before she could form a coherent plea. Only her eyes remained free, wide and frantic, silently begging Edea to break free of the cologne’s hold before it was too late.

Edea didn’t waver in the slightest, completely under DeRosa’s spell once more. Her fingers daintily seized Einheria’s nose, her knuckles splaying to either side and pressing the older girl’s nostrils flat.

The end result was inevitable, but Einheria’s pride would not allow her to give in until the very last of her oxygen had been expended. She squirmed, shook her head, trying furiously to dislodge the girl’s fingers - were these the ones that had been between Edea’s legs, or between her own? She had lost track - but nothing worked. There was no escaping this, and as her air began to dwindle, her resolve sapped away with it.

The moment her mouth slipped open to claim what her body required, Edea’s hands forced the oversized ball behind Einheria’s teeth. Her mouth wedged open uncomfortably wide, the warrior woman fought to expel it with her tongue, pressing against the smooth girth of the thing and straining to budge it from her jaw. Before she could make any progress - difficult though it was - she felt the leather straps tighten around her head as Edea buckled them shut, trapping the ball in place between her lips.

“It looks good on her... don’t you agree?” DeRosa’s face was etched with vindictive victory, a superior smugness that proud Einheria couldn’t bear to look upon. She could feel the wet warmth of her saliva welling up around the ball gag, slipping free of her tightened lips and trickling down her chin, her body’s confession of weakness. She had lost, and both she and DeRosa knew it. “No more biting for you, my little pet. I suppose you could still headbutt your lovely little friend if you want to snap her out of it that badly, but I do have a virtually infinite supply of cologne to get her back under the influence, so to speak. I confess that I don’t know what permanent effects might result from too much exposure, however... so perhaps it is best to simply let her play with you, correct?”

Einheria fumed, her cheeks burning even hotter than Edea’s, stained by humiliation rather than drug-fueled lust. He was right, and she hated him for it. She hadn’t wanted to hurt Edea, even now that she was under DeRosa’s control, and doing so would accomplish nothing. She had to remember that this wasn’t Edea’s fault. Her friend was an unwilling puppet.

“If it makes you feel better, you won’t remember any of this when we are done.” DeRosa’s eyebrow arched, and he chuckled. “Neither you nor Edea will have the faintest idea of what you have done when you awaken. Until then, I intend to take full advantage of both of you. Edea?”

A soft little giggle left Edea’s parted lips as she settled back in front of Einheria, the knight’s scent mingled with the smell of sweat and the wafting fumes of DeRosa’s foul machinery. Despite the displeasure in Einheria’s tearful sapphire eyes, Edea pressed her lips against the valkyrie’s once again, kissing her over the gag with an ardency that took her by surprise. She had always known that Edea could be extremely passionate, but she had never dreamed that it would be demonstrated like this...

“Warm her up for us, my dear,” DeRosa instructed, his predatory eyes watching closely as Edea’s hand slipped beneath Einheria’s dress for the second time. Neither girl could see anything but each other, but the red mage’s hands were already at his waist, his fingers curling into the waistband of his trousers. “I think we shall all enjoy this very much.”

Chapter Text

Fang/Vanille, dom/sub, bondage

It started how it always did, with the very smallest of temptations.

The supposedly innocent girl named Vanille had never needed to do very much to gain the attention of the warrior woman Fang. A sultry look, a lingering touch, an inviting curve of rosy lips, any of these things and a dozen more could instantly fill Fang with blazing lust for her alluring little lover, and both of them knew it. Vanille was her one weakness, and more often than not it was the sweet little minx of the gleaming emerald eyes, the copper-red pigtailed hair and the eternally smiling face who initiated the encounters between the two women.

Yet it was always the tall, raven-haired beauty Fang who was in control once the tryst had begun, and neither would have it any other way.

Barely a moment had passed since they had slipped through Fang's bedroom door and already the older woman had captured Vanille in her tattooed arms, holding her close, drowning the flame-haired waif in a savagely hungry kiss. Vanille responded as she always did, surrendering without a fight, melting into the embrace of her paramour and letting her do as she wished. She loved the way Fang took over every time, ravishing every inch of her body, holding her down so she couldn't resist...

Somehow their tangled legs managed to carry them from the door to the end of the plain wooden bed at the far end of the room, a path they had walked together so many times that they no longer needed their eyes to guide them. Their lips parted, then joined again, the second kiss deeper than the first; Vanille let out a stifled gasp as her mouth was invaded by her sweetheart's tongue, ruthlessly ravaging every crevice of her wet, warm mouth.

She began to slip her slender arms up and around Fang's neck, desperate for even greater closeness with her lover, but the older woman seized her lover’s wrists in an iron grip before they could finish their journey. The midnight-haired warrior held Vanille in place by her captive arms, tugging them down to her sides, reminding her of her place and her role. The waif whined into the kiss as her freedom was taken away, but the display of possessive dominance had pleased her more than anything, sending a shiver of delight through her diminutive body.

Eventually the need for breath surpassed the need for Vanille, and Fang was forced to break the kiss, though not to release her grip on her lover's wrists. She gazed down into Vanille's face, admiring her adorably flushed cheeks and quivering lips wet with saliva, and reveled in the knowledge that it was she who had filled the copper-haired girl with such wanting desire. It was she and only she who could tame this wild vixen, turning her from frisky innocent into a moaning, panting little ball of lust in a matter of minutes.

Vanille was hers. Her friend, her love, her pet and her plaything.

But what use was a plaything when there was no game to play with her? Fang forced herself to rein in her own libido, bringing herself back from the brink of animal passion, and leaned hard into Vanille, using her superior strength and size to force her little lover down to the bedcovers. Vanille remained still as her body was arranged to Fang’s liking, letting her mistress move her to the very center of the bed and ensure she lay flat on her back. Her arms were placed at her sides, her legs straightened and slightly parted, her head denied a pillow to rest upon. A simple position for a simple game.

Fang could not help grinning to herself as she loomed over her beloved, a predator ready to claim her prey. Simple need not always mean easy. "Here's how this is gonna work, Vanille," she declared, pacing around the edge of the bed without taking her eyes off the copper-haired girl. "I'm gonna do whatever I want to you, for as long as I want, and you're just gonna lie there and take it. You move or make a sound... and I'll make you regret it. You got that?"

"Mmhm..." Vanille murmured, giving the slightest nod of her head to indicate that she had heard and understood. She felt intense disappointment that their bodies were no longer touching so closely, their lips no longer locked together, but her body was already beginning to tingle with anticipation for what lay ahead. What sort of punishment did the raven-haired warrior have in mind? Would it be painful, or simply drive her to greater heights of passion? She could hardly read Fang's devious mind, and she knew better than to ask. Only one way to find out, then...

But not yet. For now she would play at being a good girl for her domineering lover. She would try her hardest to lie still and endure Fang's attentions, though behind her determination was certainty that she would not last long.

Satisfied that Vanille would not defy her, Fang knelt atop the bed and set to work undressing the comely redhead. First to come off were the ornamental Oerban beads crisscrossing her torso, a silly fashion that Fang had never liked or understood. Her fingers worked to unfasten the delicate metal clips holding the strings of beads in their intricate configuration, but the annoying little clasps proved infuriatingly difficult to dislodge. She fought down the growing urge to simply rip them away from Vanille's petite body, and damn the damage to the ridiculous baubles.

Fang fumbled with the complicated clips yet again, cursing under her breath as her fingers slipped a third time. Vanille let out an amused little giggle at her lover's frustration... and abruptly fell silent, her emerald eyes wide in horror. Only the shock of realization kept her from clapping her hands over her mouth.

A thin black eyebrow rose as Fang stood, abandoning the wretched beadwork for the moment. A cocky smile spread across her face as she climbed off of the bed, staring down at her fearful paramour. "Couldn't even last five minutes, eh, Vanille? Well, don't say I didn't warn you..." she chuckled as she crouched beside the bed, reaching underneath, searching for something.

Vanille braced herself as well as she could, though she had no idea what to expect. Fang had quite the imagination, she had discovered over the time they had spent together, and Vanille knew that the older woman took a deep pleasure in making her squirm. She kept her eyes fixed on the ceiling and stilled her tongue, unwilling to risk digging herself deeper by begging for mercy or turning her head to look. One lapse in self-control had already cost her.

Fang had found what she needed in a matter of moments, but she continued to poke around under the bed as if she were still searching, extending the suspense for as long as she could. Vanille's increasing nervousness was just too amusing to cut off so soon; it was all too amusing to watch the copper-haired waif bite her lip, digging her fingers into the bedcovers, clearly wishing she had luxury of movement to see what was happening just inches away.

At long last Fang grew tired of Vanille's adorable discomfort and returned to her lover's field of vision, kneeling beside her on the bed and brandishing her prize. Vanille's eyes went wide once again as the roll of silver duct tape hovered over her face, but she managed to suppress the whimper building in her throat before it escaped. No sound, no movement, she could do this...

Vanille winced as the first strip of thick tape was pressed over her lips and smoothed down over her cheeks, quickly and tightly adhering to her flesh. She attempted to move her lips apart beneath the sticky silver barrier but found them securely glued together. Fang used the moment of exploration to press a second strip across Vanille's mouth, then a third, widening the gag high and low and reinforcing the hold of the first strip. By the time Fang was done, everything beneath Vanille's nose was buried in shining silver. There was no way she would be able to remove it without the use of her hands. So this was the penalty for speaking out of turn...

“Hope you learned your lesson.” The clasps of the beads gave way at last, but that was where Fang’s gentleness ended; extricating the annoying little baubles from Vanille’s body, she tossed them to the floor, enjoying the series of tiny clunks that ensued as they clattered against the boards. The rest of her clothing was not so fragile, and Fang abandoned her careful manipulation in favor of swift, sure motions, tearing off Vanille’s shoes and throwing them aside, then ripping away the bear pelt that she wore around her hips.

This animalistic intensity set Vanille’s blood aflame with desire, but she forced herself to remain completely motionless through a supreme force of will. The tape plastered over her mouth was a crueler punishment than she had first thought. There was nothing that she wanted more in the world than another volcanic kiss from her beautiful, possessive lover, but this gag did more than remove her ability to speak; it denied her the touch of Fang’s lips against her own, the taste of her mouth, the feeling of teeth nipping painlessly against her tongue, and it was driving her crazy.

Enough of this game of Fang’s. Vanille wanted her now!

The copper-haired girl sat up and tore the tape from her lips, ignoring the pain of glue stripped from skin. Momentarily stunned by this sudden defiance, Fang failed to react to the reversal of Vanille’s obedience until the little minx’s lips were smashed against hers, her slippery tongue pushing against Fang’s mouth in search of a way in...

Fang kept her lips sealed tight.

Slowly coming to the uncomfortable realization that her lover was not co-operating, Vanille ended the loveless kiss and scooted backward on the bed. Her confused eyes searched for Fang’s and found them filled with displeasure, a distance and a hardness she normally reserved for the monsters she killed. The waif felt a chill sweep through her lust-warmed body. “F-Fang...”

“Vanille.” The older woman’s voice was as cold and sharp as a knife, her muscular body tensed. “Down on the bed. Now.”

There it was again, the tingling thrill of being commanded, but this time it was accompanied by a wave of genuine dread. Fearing what was to come but knowing that she had no choice, Vanille lay back on the bed and let her arms drop to her sides, just as Fang had arranged her before. She had never seen that frightening look in her lover’s eyes before, and she had no desire to make things any worse for herself than they already were.

If Fang had been forceful with her before, now she was downright brutal, wrenching Vanille’s skirt down her legs so fast that the pigtailed girl barely managed to repress a yelp of surprise. She bit her lip as her panties were exposed, anticipating their removal and what would come after they were gone, but Fang defied her expectations and ignored her vulnerable nethers for now. She climbed on top of Vanille, shifting arms that the red-haired girl was too afraid to move herself, and tugged her halter top up and over her head, leaving Vanille’s chest completely bare of clothing.

She fought the urge to shudder as her breasts were teased by Fang’s heated breath, thankful that her curling toes were not within the warrior woman’s sight. Again she braced herself for Fang’s lustful attentions, and again she was denied; her raven-haired lover climbed off of her, breathing one solitary but compelling word into her ear. “Stay.

This time Vanille did not disobey, keeping her body rigid and her eyes locked on the ceiling while Fang returned to the collection of items stashed beneath her bed. Anticipation set her nerves to tingling and her stomach to twisting as she wondered what punishment Fang was planning for her. She had been gagged with tape when she had dared to laugh after being warned to silence...

Fang emerged, no mercy in her olive gaze, and straddled the motionless Vanille once again, brandishing a pair of thin black bootlaces. Before the flame-haired girl could wonder what they were for, Fang snapped up her right arm and lifted it from the bed, wrapping one of the laces around her wrist several times before tying a painfully tight knot. Vanille let out a little gasp as the lace constricted and bit into her skin, but Fang didn’t seem to notice this latest transgression, busy stretching Vanille’s arm out to her side. Forcing her shaking lover’s limb to bend at the elbow, Fang guided her forearm back toward her copper-curled head, pushing her wrist down into the blankets next to her ear...

A tug on her earlobe startled the already frightened girl, drawing a tiny squeak from her lips, and this time Fang did frown at her, almost regretfully. “You really want the gag back, don’tcha? Not that you weren’t gonna get it anyway...”

“No!” Vanille protested, then swallowed hard as she saw Fang’s frown deepen. “I mean... ugh...” Curse it, she was still talking! She bit down on her lip to prevent any further outbursts, even as Fang’s fingers fumbled at the side of her head. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she certainly wasn’t going to turn her head and look.

“There.” Satisfied with her work, Fang returned to a sitting position atop Vanille’s hips and pulled the redhead’s left wrist from her side, coiling another bootlace around it as well. While her paramour was occupied with tying the cord in place, Vanille tried to move her right arm, testing what Fang had done to her. An uncomfortable jolt through her ear told her what she needed to know; the devious woman had fastened the bootlace around her wrist to her earring! She couldn’t move her arm from its awkward position at all, and if she struggled too hard she risked tearing the jewelry loose from her earlobe. Given the choice, Vanille let her hand rest for the moment rather than try to straighten her arm.

Her remaining wrist was soon tied to the earring on the other side of her head, taking both of Vanille’s arms out of the game. No longer was she helpless solely through her own will; restrained as she was by nothing but bootlaces and her own body, she could no longer resist Fang even if she were brave enough to try. The notion filled her with breathless excitement. Her domineering lover could do anything she wanted to her, and there was nothing she could do about it.

That’ll show her who’s boss. Drawing back so Vanille couldn’t see her smirk, Fang scooted further down the half-naked girl’s body until her face was inches away from the redhead’s crotch. There was an obvious damp patch on the younger girl’s panties, she noticed; Vanille’s arousal from their initial contact had not yet faded.

“If you’re quiet from now on, I might not have to gag you.” No sooner had Fang uttered these words, baiting the trap, than she was sliding her finger against the telltale wet spot on Vanille’s underwear, tracing her slit through the sodden cloth. She could see Vanille’s teeth sinking into her lower lip in an effort to hold in the inevitable, her emerald eyes staring at the ceiling so hard that it was a wonder the roof didn’t cave in on them both.

Impressed by her resistance, Fang only became more determined to overwhelm it. Her finger trailed toward Vanille’s most sensitive spot, millimeter by millimeter; she heard the younger girl’s breath catch in her throat as she neared breaking point, the pleasurable sensations becoming too powerful to suppress...

The warrior woman’s digit grazed against Vanille’s clit, and the game was lost.

Aahhh...

Fang watched her lover’s cute features light up, then immediately fall as she realized she had failed the challenge. With nothing to lose now - or so she thought - Vanille lifted her head to meet Fang’s gaze, belatedlyunderstanding that she needed to raise her arms as well, and fixed her with a pleading gaze that begged her not to carry out her threat.

Her shimmering, begging eyes would have moved Fang on a different day, but discipline needed to be enforced. “Sorry, Vanille,” she drawled, her amused expression leaving no doubt just how sorry she truly was, “but if you won’t pipe down, I gotta take matters into my own hands. This time it’s not coming off until I say so.”

Vanille’s panties were sliding down her legs before she knew what was happening, exposing damp curls and slick pink skin, but Fang showed no interest in dallying further in her partner’s intimate regions. The now-drenched undergarments slipped over Vanille’s ankles, but rather than being tossed aside like the rest of her clothing, the captive minx found them descending towards her face. “Fang, what are you...?!”

Swift as a snake, Fang clamped the damp knickers over Vanille’s mouth and nose, holding them in place despite their owner’s stunted efforts to shake them off. With her wrists tightly bound to her earrings, the red-haired girl found it impossible to turn her head far or fast enough to budge the moist undergarments from her face, nor could her hands reach to dislodge them. In a matter of moments her lung capacity had failed her, and Vanille was forced to breathe in the scent of her own arousal, the lack of air causing her to inhale even deeper...

When Vanille’s breaths became strained, Fang relented and removed the panties from her nose and mouth... only to ball them up and force them between the younger girl’s lips before she had a chance to recover. Vanille’s eyes flew wide open as the taste of her intimate regions flooded through her mouth, her saliva mixing with the already wet fabric as she moaned in mortified protest. Her tongue fought to push the intruding cloth back out, but Fang proved to be quicker than her lover, tearing off another strip of duct tape from the roll and pressing it over Vanille’s lips to seal the pungent panties inside. Several more strips followed, engulfing her face in silver as they had before, but this time Vanille was in no position to remove them.

“Think I’ll have what you’re having.” Fang’s eyes wandered back down to Vanille’s moist folds, her hungry tongue flicking into view at the corner of her mouth. “But if I hear another peep out of you, I’m gonna stop, tie you down and leave you here. I’m serious. Not one little noise.”

Her raven-tressed head sank toward Vanille’s crotch, and the copper-haired girl braced herself for the most intense round of torture yet. This was not going to be easy.

Chapter Text

Sombra/Katya Volskaya, humiliation, non-con, bondage, that last tag is a little redundant because it's in everything anyway

Outside the windows of the stately office, the Russian cityscape was steadily disappearing beneath a heavy sprinkling of winter snow, but on this side of the wide panels of bulletproof glass, Katya Volskaya's naked body was soaked in a sheen of glistening sweat.

"Shame the heating doesn't go higher."

A wicked smile on her purple-tinged lips, Sombra ran the pointed nail of her hacking glove's thumb against the electronic touchscreen on the wall, testing the limits of the sliding temperature dial. 88F/31C, declared the vibrant blue display, and that seemed to be the absolute maximum setting that the building's heating system could maintain. Sombra had been forced to hack it just to make it go this high - it was pre-programmed to max out several degrees lower.

For Sombra, a girl who had spent most of time in her Mexican homeland, it was very warm in here. She couldn't imagine how the Russian woman was feeling.

Had it not been for the opulent dignity of the large office in which she sat and the photographs of the woman and her daughter on display, a casual observer would never have guessed that the ebony-haired woman seated atop the vast white desk was the owner and CEO of one of the most powerful companies in the northern hemisphere. Completely nude from head to toe, her porcelain body wrapped in a web of thin, tight ropes that bound her arms against her back and her legs together at ankle and knee, Katya hardly presented the dignified image the masses saw on their television sets, the bright purple ball gag lodged between her soft pink lips silencing her ironclad voice. Her bare buttocks pressed against the smooth wooden surface of her desk, her feet dangling above the heap of her discarded clothing on the floor, her sweat-damp skin shining in the bright fluorescent light.

Her head was held high and proud, her crystal-blue gaze unwavering, but all of the feigned composure in the world couldn't hide her uncertainty, embarrassment, and fear.

Sombra was tingling with excitement as she glided back to the desk and its occupant, her fingers sweeping in to grasp Katya's chin and tilting it left and right, admiring the helplessness in her eyes. She'd done this. Her. The brilliant, wealthy, powerful hero of Russia had bowed to her. Stripped of those expensive designer clothes for her. Allowed herself be tied up, humiliated, degraded, suffocated by the unnatural heat now filling her office, all for her.

Well, maybe it was partly because of the career- and life-destroying photos featuring Katya dealing with her supposed enemy that Sombra had acquired, but the hacker was gracious enough to share the credit.

The important thing was that she was completely in control of Katya Volskaya. To save her career, the pride of her people and the welfare of her beloved daughter, this woman would do anything Sombra demanded of her. Under it all, she was little different from the small-time politician in debt to a mob boss, or the housewife with a secret lover on the side. Knowledge was power, and there was no dark secret in the world that Sombra couldn't unearth and turn it against her victims.

Who said you couldn't hack people?

The statuesque executive was twisting against her bonds now, working her wrists against the ropes that fastened them together, but the bitterly tight cords held fast, as both women had known they would. The strangling bite of their embrace kept her arms trapped behind her and her fingers out of trouble no matter how hard she strained, every jerk of her limbs only constricting the ropes around her breasts, warning her to stop.

"Don't worry," Sombra purred with a lifted eyebrow, lapping up Katya's shallow, uncomfortable grunts. The muted sounds were more than any other human being had forced from the raven-haired executive in a long time, as close to a declaration of surrender that she was ever going to get. It was as if the Russian steel in her had melted in the stifling heat, leaving her obligingly weak and pliable. "This isn't a sex thing," Sombra assured her, but her eyes flicked down to Katya's breasts, then back up again, filled with knowing. "...Well, maybe it's a little bit a sex thing."

It wasn't, but the flash of disgust in the older woman's eyes gave Sombra a little thrill that was very nearly sexual. Sex was nice and all, but nothing topped the rush she got from bending the powerful to her wil, manipulating them like puppets on strings.. Reminding them that no matter how much security and wealth they surrounded themselves with, the little orphan hacker from the slums of Mexico was able to take all control away from them whenever she wanted to, that their dignity could be ripped away from them the second she was bored.

She was bored a lot.

The rope was a testament to that. Sombra had picked up the relevant skills during her last visit to London, where she had found a certain prim and proper socialite enjoying the company of a whip-wielding dominatrix in a high-class hotel room. Blackmail had followed, of course, but the woman had only really been worth what money Sombra could wring out of her and the enjoyment she'd had in making the haughty bitch squirm with threats to her public image. She was already discarded, and Sombra had never bothered to tie that particular victim up - not when she had so blatantly enjoyed the experience the last time - but her clever mind had memorized the intricate details for use on a more important, less willing target in the future. Not everyone got off on being humiliated, after all.

If the cold glare Katya was giving her was anything to go by, the Russian woman was definitely not one of those who did.

"What, you'd rather I'd shot you?" Sombra jabbed at one of Katya's stiff little nipples with the sharp nail of her hacking glove, delighting in the way the stoic woman recoiled. These were the kinds of reactions she craved, the kind one would never see from the stiff, composed public persona Katya liked to wear. The reactions that came not from ice and steel, but from flesh and blood. From a mortal woman in a very bad situation.

She tweaked that vulnerable nipple, pulling and twisting, and Katya flinched away from her in response, those stern blue eyes flashing in anger. Her lips tightened around her gag, and she spat what Sombra could only assume was a curse, but the thick rubber ball in her mouth and her instinctive reversion to Russian left the sounds garbled and utterly incomprehensible, a mess of meaningless syllables.

Plainly disgusted with herself, she fell silent and dropped her gaze, drool speckling onto her heaving chest to mingle with her sweat.

Sombra lifted an eyebrow, offering no quarter to the humiliated executive, hounding her for her last tiny scraps of dignity. "If you think you're uncomfortable now, just think how much it'll sting when these pictures make the papers."

That brought Katya's head snapping upward, her panicked eyes finding the holographic screen hovering in the air between Sombra's spread fingers, and the terror on her face eclipsed the fright she had shown at the ropes and the order to strip. She shook her head, her bob ponytail swishing violently, the images of her naked, helpless self on the screen nowhere near as disturbing as the threat of their distribution.

"I could do it right now," Sombra continued, driving the metaphorical knife ever deeper. "I could have these pictures on a hundred websites within a half hour. They won't be enough to destroy you, not like the pictures of your business transactions with the omnics, but I don't think you'd enjoy the experience, am I right? I don't think the world would look at you the same way again."

Katya was stonily silent, but the deathly fear on her face told the story Sombra wanted to hear. The most powerful woman in Russia was hers twice over. She could drop the compromising photos whenever she chose, humiliating Katya in front of the world, and still hold enough leverage over her to secure her co-operation in whatever she chose. She held Katya's business in one hand and her pride in the other, and could drop either one, or both, on the slightest whim.

She could also screw her, in the most literal sense, right here on her desk... but it was better to let Katya dwell on that possibility rather than carry it out. Maybe someday, if the leverage she already had proved insufficient. No rush.

"So, how about it?" She circled around the immobilized executive, studying her with those knowing eyes. "You'll play ball, right? Don't worry, I won't ask for too much. I'm not a monster."

Katya's eyes sank, more surrender than answer, sweat and drool dripping down her bitterly resigned face. A shrewd businesswoman, she knew when she was defeated, and it didn't get more defeated than naked, bound and reduced to a slimy hacker's plaything.

There was no doubt in Sombra's mind that Katya was already planning to kill her, but she hadn't survived this long by being easy to pin down. Not as easy as Katya, at least. She would be out of the country within an hour, untraceable, and the next time the head of Volskaya Industries saw her face would be through a computer screen, accompanied by the first of many demands. She would not be back in this office for a very long time, if ever, but some messages were best delivered in person.

"I knew you'd understand." Giving Katya her very best condescending smile, Sombra leaned forward, stroking the Russian woman's cheek with the nail of her hacking glove. This time Katya didn't dare recoil, but the fear in her eyes began to yield to rage as the hacker's smug face filled her vision, the pictures temporarily forgotten. "Hold up your end of the bargain, and I'll keep these pictures for my personal collection," Sombra added by way of reminder. "You don't, and I bet they end up in lots of other personal collections, if you know what I mean."

The older woman's disgust was plain to see, and Sombra briefly considered taking another picture. She had been wanting a new phone background...

Instead, she reached into her coat and drew out a long, sharp knife, leaning around and carefully sawing through the ropes that bound Katya's wrists together. The older woman was wise enough to remain completely still as silver steel grazed porcelain skin, severing the cords and liberating her hands, and the keen blade stayed her hand when otherwise she might have slapped the filthy hacker across her leering face. She hadn't risen to become the most powerful woman in Russia without a measure of self-control.

"You can do the rest when you're done enjoying yourself." Sombra placed the knife on the desk beside Katya, a maliciously teasing twinkle in her eyes. "Don't worry, that door won't be opening from the outside anytime soon, so you can take your time if you like."

Katya glared daggers at Sombra, her mouth tight around the ball gag's slick bulk, but the raw, humiliated hate in the woman's pale eyes didn't frighten Sombra. For all of Katya's power, she couldn't retaliate, even with her hands unbound. She was too smart for that, and Sombra too advantage one last time, leaning forward and planting her fingertip against the tip of Katya's nose, as she had that first time they'd met.

"Boop."

Then, in a flash of purple light and an electronic hiss, Sombra was gone. Katya was left by herself in her wide, empty office, alone with the rope and the knife and the heavy, sweltering heat as the snow continued to fall outside, uncaring.

Chapter Text

No/Aya, humiliation, non-con

Bare knees struck the sodden earth of Tetorigawa with a watery squelch, the weight of Lady No’s aching body pressing them deep into the muddy bed of the shallow pool.

The sensation of the icy-cold water lapping against her calves, silt clinging to her skin and staining her sparing clothing, was as clear a sign of defeat as the distant smugness on the face of the woman standing above her.

"I told you that I would make you kneel in that puddle." The voice of Aya resounded across the waterlogged battlefield, carrying through the eerily quiet night, drowning out the faint sounds of battle from the nearby town. The Uesugi matriarch smiled a frigid smile as she leaned upon her golden staff, her stark white robes and long black hair flowing in the teasing wind. "Justice cannot be undone by the unclean."

Bitter hatred clouded No's features as she glared up at the woman who had vanquished her, wishing that she could sink below the surface of the puddle to hide her shame. Metal and leather and tattered purple cloth barely disguised her voluptuous body from the eyes of her more prudish opponent, let alone her disgust at being so roundly defeated by... by this woman, of all creatures. The Uesugi bitch who took so much pleasure in taunting her.

"Nothing to say for yourself, hmm?" Aya's knowing black eyes twinkled with a mirth not reflected by the rest of her pale, cold face. Boots patterned in black and gold, colors repeated in her stockings and the lower edges of her robe, took small but deliberate steps to close in on the defeated wife of Nobunaga. "Fear not, I will assist you. You may start with an apology."

No’s full pink lips curled downwards around her momentarily bared teeth. Her eyes traveled to the remains of her retractable claws, the weapons bent and broken in the dirt, out of reach. "Surely you are joking."

Silence. No waited for an answer, staring blankly into the thick grey mud at Aya's feet, unable to bear looking at the detestable woman's victorious face.

None came, but right before her eyes, a line of thin, twisted rope lowered into the mud, dangling threateningly.

No's eyes widened.

Distracted by the rope and the chilling realization of what it meant for her, she failed to notice the rise of Aya's silt-clotted boot until it stamped down upon her shoulder, ramming her face-down into the mud at the puddle’s edge.

No’s cry of fury was swallowed up by the sodden earth.

It was all that she could do to turn her muck-stained face to the side, seeking out precious air even if it meant enduring the humiliation of baring her dirty features to the woman who would so delight in her debasement. She struggled to rise, her hands finding purchase in the bed of the puddle and straining to push her upwards, but in response, Aya's boot simply migrated from No's shoulder to the back of her neck, pushing her back down into the mud with greater force than the other woman could muster. She was beaten.

"Place your hands behind your back." Aya's tone was as flat and frigid as a castle wall, and just as impervious to challenge.

Being at the mercy of the imperious Uesugi woman filled No with revulsion, the calm recitation of commands stirring her defiant spirit... but there was no way that she could fight her way out of this. Without a weapon to counter Aya's spiked staff, she had no means of fruitful resistance. Her claws were ruined and cast aside, the last of her bombs expended...

...Wait.

The dagger.

She had almost forgotten about the dagger. Wearing it hidden away in her clothing had become a habit, almost automatic. She had carried it for years now, at first intending to use it on her husband should she have ever judged him the fool many had believed, then carrying it as a talisman, a reminder of the family she had lost. Now... maybe now was the time to unsheathe it.

"Now." The same word that had echoed through No's head left Aya's lips as well, the matriarch's patience expired.

A sign, No decided.

She moved her hands behind her back, but on its journey, the left took a detour into the folds of her clothing. Fingers grasped a hilt, and dragged the dagger free of its sheath. Full lips smiled into the mud.

Aya leaned down, rope trailing from her hands. Her foot depated No's neck. "Good. You've learned your place."

No's swift movement proved her wrong.

Her lean, muddy leg swept out, the wooden geta strapped to the sole of her foot colliding with Aya's shin, catching the Uesugi matriarch by surprise and allowing No to nimbly vault to her feet. Gritting her teeth from the painful impact of wood on bone, Aya left herself vulnerable for a critical moment; again No's foot lashed out, kicking the staff out of the white-cloaked woman's hand before she could properly react...

...And in moments Aya was flat on her back, a dagger against her throat, her once-spotless robes tainted by thick grey mud.

Dark eyes widened in shock, then narrowed to callous slits. "I knew you had no honor."

The look on her face was perfect. No had to laugh, a triumphant, mocking trill. "Of course not... and soon, nor will you."

Painted fingertips found the purple cord of the obi at Aya’s waist, and sought to unfurl the knot.

Aya's expression remained rigid, but with her own face so close to hers as she straddled the other woman, No was able to observe the catching of breath that came in response, spying the way she seemed to flinch away. What are you doing? her eyes seemed to demand, though her tongue remained still, and the dagger at her throat kept her in check.

The knot came undone, and No held the cord aloft, letting the ends dance in the breeze for a moment before releasing it and watching it swirl into the mud. “You wear far too much clothing on the battlefield, Lady Aya. Just what are you trying to hide under there, hmm?”

Aya’s midnight gaze flashed with a fury that her body was in no position to act on. The dagger at her throat was impossible to ignore. “Whore,” she spat despite her precarious position, the crude insult all the more potent from one normally so well-spoken.

“Oh, don’t worry.” No’s venomous smile sent a chill down even Aya’s spine, although she tried to tell herself that it was merely the sensation of cold mud seeping through the back of her robes. She grunted as No shifted her weight, lowering herself to sit upon Aya’s hips, keeping the dagger at her captive’s throat while her other hand sought out something in the mire. “You won’t have to pay me... but I will expect a thank you.”

Aya snarled in response, bristling in uncharacteristic rage. “I will see you burn.”

“Wouldn’t you need your staff to do such a thing?” No’s lilting laughter gave way to a sadistic smile as she found what she had sought, her free hand lifting up the very weapon she had named. The golden spikes of the staff shone in the faint moonlight, the purple shaft dripping with mud. “Oh, here, let me help you with that.”

Again No rearranged her position, her movements so fast and unpredictable that Aya could do nothing to stop them. The hand clutching the dagger drew back, only for Aya to find the shaft of her own staff pressed against her neck instead, the weapon pressed horizontally across her throat, pressing gently against her windpipe. This gentleness would not last long, however; still seated on top of Aya’s hips, No brought both of her legs up and dropped her feet onto the staff at either side of Aya’s neck, the wooden geta on her feet jamming against the weapon’s length and pushing it further down into her vulnerable flesh. “Stay down.”

Hating the involuntary gurgle that left her throat, Aya let her head fall back to the ground, grateful for the high collar of her robe that kept her lustrous black hair out of the muck. At least she could breathe easier like this... if only a little, and even that could be taken away by a simple movement of No’s feet at any moment. The tables had well and truly turned on the Uesugi matriarch, and unlike her tormentor, she had no convenient concealed weapon on her person.

“Good.” It was hard not to be overwhelmed by sadistic glee at the sight of her hated enemy sprawled out in the mud, dependent on No’s whims for even the right to breathe, but the viper still had much work to do. Now that both of her hands were free, she set to work on the black-and-gold weave of Aya’s ornate obi, using her dagger to slice through the cloth that had lain beneath the purple cord, letting the sash fall to either side of her body in ruins. Next went the front of Aya’s robes, white cloth rent to shreds by No’s blade, the demure clothing torn apart and ripped away to reveal the defeated woman’s body beneath...

“...Oh my. So that’s what you were hiding under here.” No’s savage smile widened at the sight of Aya’s snowy breasts, her fingers curling inward, longing to prey on those hardening pink nipples. “Larger than I would have expected. I don’t know why you are so determined to conceal a body like this...”

“I would not expect you to understand common decency,” Aya hissed, only to be silenced by the pressure of her staff against her throat. No cared little for the other woman’s feeble attempt at an insult - it was true, after all - but shows of defiance had to be punished, the vanquished reminded of their place.

This time, however, Aya would not simply lie in the mud and take it. Pale, slender hands rose from her sides, where they had lain still for fear of the harlot’s dagger, reaching up to grasp the shaft of her weapon and fighting to hold it back from her own throat. If she could just find the freedom to move her staff about, she could bring her magic to bear and shock this fiendish whore into submission...

The dagger joined the staff at Aya’s neck.

The cruelty in No’s eyes shone more brightly than the moon. “If you want me to end your suffering now, I won’t hesitate. Fight me and die, or do as I say and live. Which will it be?”

Even sprawled in the mud with this woman on top of her, her robes shredded and her breasts lewdly exposed, Aya still had her dignity. Death would be a kinder fate than additional humiliation, and she had no great fear of passing into the afterlife. As the defeated warrior, she should accept her fate. Yet...

The Uesugi still needed her guidance. Kenshin, Kagekatsu, Kagetora. If she were to abandon them, what would become of her clan? Who would help them mete out justice to a corrupted land?

She couldn’t do this. Her brother and her sons still needed her, and that meant surviving this venomous witch, no matter the cost. Her dark eyes narrowing in abject disgust, Aya let her hands fall back to the earth, releasing her hold on her staff.

A shadowy chuckle floated overhead, maliciously musical. The staff was torn away from Aya’s throat, hurled so far into the darkness that she would have no chance of reaching it. Sharp-nailed hands dug into her shoulders, a thigh pressing against her own and forcing her to flip over. Aya’s face and breasts made contact with the bitterly cold mud, the muck clinging tenaciously to her hair and her ghostly pale skin, leaving her already regretting her choice to submit. Letting this scheming slattern dominate her.

Her wrists were forcibly crossed behind her back, bound with the very same rope that she had intended to secure No with, the chafing cords drawn much tighter than necessary and savagely knotted out of reach of her fingers. This, at least, Aya could not blame No for; she would have inflicted the very same on her, after all, using the tightness of the ropes to punish as well as restrain, letting them bite deep into the witch’s skin just as they now bit into her own.

The shredding of clothing as the dagger reappeared was another matter entirely. Aya did not harbor the remotest desire for No, and would sooner have added clothing to the harlot’s immodest ensemble than remove it, but this was where their intentions parted ways. The remains of her once-pure white robes were torn from her body one segment at a time - collar, sleeves back - as No worked her way down her prisoner’s form, liberating her body from the obscuring cloth she chose to hide behind. Inch after inch of Aya’s creamy, pale skin was laid bare, bright in the moonlight against the backdrop of squalid muck, her underclothes just as readily ruined as the topmost layer.

Soon, everything was gone, from her shoes and her long black stockings to the plain underthings that had concealed her privates from her tormentor’s hungry eyes. Aya could feel No’s gaze tracing the curves of her buttocks and beyond, threatening her crotch with a lingering look, and she responded in the only way that she could, clamping her legs shut to hide herself away once again. Exactly how far did the whore mean to take this?

Then, once again, she was roughly flipped over.

No’s leering visage came back into Aya’s view, a smirk on those full pink lips, gloating over the hatred and shame in the eyes of her nemesis. This was what she had wanted all along, for longer than she could remember; the Uesugi woman helpless before her, dirtied and debased, her white skin exposed and streaked with glistening brown, longing to hide herself but unable to achieve even this simple task. Oh, how No loved this.

Yet it was still not enough, she decreed within her head as she plunged her knee between Aya’s thighs, forcibly splitting the other woman’s legs apart. She wanted more. She wanted...

“Curse me,” she demanded as her hand slipped between Aya’s legs, seeking out her entrance, her fingers teasing and stroking. “Slander my name. Scream for your precious brother. Beg me not to do this.”

Aya bit her tongue, unable to hide the look of horrified disgust from her elegant features, but keeping her jaw locked shut. She would not give this creature the satisfaction of owning her speech, even if she had taken control of the remainder of her body. She could feel herself responding to No’s touch, as she had known she would, even as her mind fruitlessly rebelled against what was happening to her. Her body was easily seduced, and cared not for what she wanted.

No’s eyes narrowed, displeased at Aya’s continued defiance. “How pointless. You won’t stay silent for long. The only thing in doubt is whether it will be...”

Her painted fingers plunged inside. “The pleasure that breaks you...”

Aya bit her lip.

“Or the pain.” No’s other hand swept mud from Aya’s breast, capturing her nipple and squeezing hard.

It hurt, and a shriek welled up within Aya’s throat, but somehow she swallowed it down before it could break free. She had suffered much worse pain than this, the humiliation aside. She had to endure.

“Oh, don’t worry.” The fingers on both of No’s hands curled, teasing twin reactions from Aya’s squirming body. “We have all night to find out.”

Chapter Text

Ayesha/OC, abduction, bondage, humiliation

The dirty wooden floor of the cloth-covered cart rumbled violently with every rut and bump in the country road, sending jarring jolts through the body of the brawny middle-aged man hunched over in the corner.

If the long, rough journey into the hinterland was uncomfortable for him, Wendell shuddered to think of how difficult it must be for the girl at the other side of the wagon.

From the moment he had first seen her, sprawled over her bed in her workshop as if she had been too weary to climb beneath the covers, Ayesha Altugle had been the very picture of vulnerable innocence. Her soft golden hair had been spread across her pillow, still bound in the tiny white ribbons she had forgotten to undo, her slight body dressed in nothing but a thin shift that left her arms and legs bare, her chest steadily rising and falling as she drifted through her dreams. Asleep and unaware, she had posed no threat to Wendell or his colleague, or to anyone else in the world for that matter.

Unfortunately for the dainty little alchemist, she had become an extremely valuable resource, and Mr. Modus had been quite clear. If Ayesha would not co-operate with Wendell’s unpleasant employer of her own free will, he would take her by force.

Subduing her had been one of the easiest tasks that Wendell and his companion, Rund, had ever been ordered to carry out. Truth be told, the entire operation had only required one of them, and Wendell had been happy to defer to the man now steering the cart when it came time to secure the girl. He hadn’t really given it a lot of thought at the time, but now, looking across the wooden floor at the pretty little thing trussed in the far corner, he wondered if it might have been easier on her if he had done the tying.

The rope that bound Ayesha’s waifish body was less than a half-inch thick, but Rund had made up for its thin weave by making sure that he used it everywhere. No part of the girl’s body had been spared its coarse embrace, and the tears in the corners of her stricken brown eyes left Wendell in no doubt that she was feeling every millimeter.

The lower half of her body alone had been subjected to far more restriction than was necessary to keep her prisoner. Left bare below her upper thighs by the skimpy skirt of a thin white shift nobody had been meant to see, Ayesha’s slender legs had been wrapped in punishingly tight circuits of skin-chafing cord, bending her calves behind her thighs and keeping them constrained beneath thick bands of rope from her snugly bound ankles to her straining knees. Stray strands of rope spiraled along her legs from one cinching point to the next, serving no purpose but to further torment her, scraping against her soft flesh at every turn. Her heels pressed into her rump as she squirmed listlessly about on her stomach, searching for some tiny, fleeting comfort, as if she knew that trying to escape was futile.

Rund, you’re a real bastard.

The girl’s upper body was even worse off. Her arms, uncovered beneath the lacy shoulder straps of her shift, had been brutally folded behind her back and lashed together so strictly that he could see her shoulder muscles straining to cope, even from across the cart. Her wrists, forearms, elbows and upper arms all bore the rope’s bite, completely immobilizing them, pinning them across her back as if the slightest wiggle room might have allowed her to escape. Her torso alone was criss-crossed by more ropes than Wendell would have used to completely subdue a grown man, squeezing her stomach and her chest in their grip, lifting and pressing on her surprisingly large breasts to force them upward and outward, making a sexual object of the innocent little alchemist whether she liked it or not.

He was trying not to notice the doubled-over cord that sank deep between the girl’s legs, but the blonde’s constant shifting and her complete lack of further underwear beneath her skirt conspired to draw his gaze. The lower hem of the half-transparent garment flipped about as she squirmed, offering tantalizingly forbidden glimpses of damp rope and soft golden curls...

No. No. Forcing his lids to snap shut over his traitorous eyes, Wendell shook his head to chase out those unwelcome thoughts. He wasn’t going to think about this. The girl had it bad enough.

When he dared to open them again, to his immense discomfort, he found her staring straight at him.

If he had seen righteous anger in her wide brown eyes, a longing for violent revenge, maybe he could have justified the needlessly cruel restraints to himself. They were far from Ayesha’s workshop by now and both Rund and Mr. Modus had repeatedly reassured him that alchemists were powerless without access to their tools and creations, but who really knew what they were capable of? He’d heard all the stories, of alchemists so powerful they were practically sorcerers, and for this girl to be worth half as much as Modus was paying them, she had to be something special herself.

Instead, all he saw on her delicate features was fear, pain and misery.

When they had found her asleep on her bed in the workshop, her pretty face had been a mask of complete serenity, blessedly unaware of the darkness that had encroached upon her isolated home. Now, the blonde hair that had been strewn around her sleeping body like an angelic veil hung around her head in messy hanks, some pooling beneath her head to protect her cheek from the splintery floor, some painfully tangled with the maze of ropes that trussed her arms behind her back. A thick strip of dirty white cloth cleaved her lips apart, a bulky knot set between her teeth to muffle any attempt at speech. Tears began to roll down her cheeks as she sought comfort and found none, her whole body sagging against the floor in weary surrender.

She didn’t make a sound, but even as he averted his eyes once again, Wendell could feel her pleading with him. Begging him for, if not release, a reprieve from her awful discomfort.

“Sorry, kid. Should’ve taken the deal.” He could hear Ayesha’s stifled gasp as she reacted to his words, and realized that this was the first time that either he or Rund had given her the slightest hint of why they had taken her. Well, not that secrecy mattered now. “You just sit there and be good, and we’ll untie you a bit when we get where we’re going. I guess you’ll be able to walk for yourself, anyway.”

A soft little moan issued from behind her gag, followed by a chain of unintelligible grunts that Wendell couldn’t begin to decipher. The knotted cloth had done its job in silencing the alchemist, but she stubbornly refused to give up her efforts to communicate, trying again with more verve than her first attempt. Each muffled mumble was a little louder the second time around, but the result was still just a jumble of meaningless syllables, and she drooped in frustration as she accepted that she wasn’t getting anywhere, a final murmur of defeat accompanying her capitulation.

Wendell managed to endure seven seconds of uncomfortable silence before heaving an explosive sigh.

“Hold still.”

Gritting his teeth against the rumbling of the cart, the thug climbed to his feet and inched his way across, dropping to one knee as he reached the helpless alchemist. Her dark eyes widening in terror, Ayesha tried to inch away from him, but there was nowhere to go and no way for her restricted body to get her there, leaving her utterly unable to defend herself as her captor descended upon her... and jerked the knotted gag from her mouth.

Ignoring the surprise on her tearful face, Wendell waited for her to speak, only to see something white shifting inside of her mouth that was definitely not a tongue. For one panicked second he wondered if it was some kind of alchemical creation she’d been cunningly keeping hidden, but the nearer the object came to her lips, the clearer a view he received...

White cotton. Lacy trim. A tiny pink ribbon.

The moment he realized what they were, Wendell reached over and plucked the saliva-soaked panties from Ayesha’s mouth and dropped them to the floor of the cart, watching as Ayesha’s tongue retreated behind her lips and licked the taste away from the inside of her mouth. No wonder the gag had kept her so quiet. Rund, you sick son of a bitch. Is that why she’s not wearing anything under her skirt?

He was patient as Ayesha coughed and sucked in air, waiting until she was finally ready to speak before fixing her with an inquisitive look. He doubted that he could make his harsh, weather-beaten face look unthreatening, but this was the best he could manage.

“Please let me go...” was the first thing she said, but both of them already knew the answer.

“I can’t do that. You’re worth a hell of a lot of money to Mr. Modus.” He bit his lip, trying not to feel too sympathetic. Rund might have been too hard on her, but that didn’t mean he should be too lenient to balance it out. “To me, too.”

“I... I have money. I have almost a thousand cole.” Her voice shook as she spoke, but her eyes, though fearful, were earnest. “It’s back at the workshop. I can give it to you if we just go back-”

Wendell shook his head. “Yeah, we kinda get paid a lot more than that for a kidnap job. Double for you, since you’re so valuable. You couldn’t possibly pay me enough.”

“P-please...!” Desperation slipped into Ayesha’s voice as the plans in her head, the fantasies that he might let her go if she said just the right thing, fell apart. “Please just let me go! I have to- my... my sister needs-”

“I suggest you forget about your sister.”

Wendell forced himself to sound as cold as possible, but his mind was ticking over. He’d seen no evidence of a sister in the alchemist’s workshop, but then, it had been dark and he hadn’t looked. A twinge of guilt pierced his hardened heart as he wondered just how old or how young this sister of hers was.

No. It didn’t matter. Delivering Ayesha and getting paid mattered.

He passed a calloused hand over his eyes as he heard the first sob, as if he could block out the misery he and his partner were inflicting on the innocent girl. She wasn’t even looking at him anymore, staring into space with tears brimming in her eyes and spilling down her face, her head resting against the splintery floor as her tortured body heaved and shook. This was bad. Abductions never got to him like this, and Ayesha wasn’t the first young woman he’d stolen away for one employer or another. What was it about her that-

“What the hell’s going on back there?!”

The card skidded to a halt, and Wendell could picture Rund savagely yanking the reins to choke the cows into submission. Heavy boots hit the dirt trail outside and began to stalk their way around the wagon, each step harder than the last.

Shit, shit, shit!

He reached for the girl’s discarded panties, but by the time his fingers closed around the soggy wad, another set of meaty hands were tearing open the slot in the wagon’s canvas cover. “Wendell, you’d better not’ve...”

Ayesha’s frightened scream killed any chance of covering up his indiscretion.

His scarred face set in a malicious scowl, Rund climbed into the increasingly cramped wagon, his narrowed eyes darting from Wendell to Ayesha and back again. He was slightly less muscled than his partner in crime, but made up for it with superior height and a mean streak as long as the western chasm. “What the fuck is going on in here, Wendell? What the fuck is... this?” He motioned to the panties still clutched in Wendell’s fist before he could hide them.

“Just making conversation, Rund.” One palm open, one slowly moving towards Ayesha with the spit-soaked underwear, Wendell kept his voice low and even, as if appeasing a wild animal. “Look, I haven’t untied her or anything. I didn’t even do anything with that... that fucking rope between her legs, whatever the hell it’s for.”

“Oh, that?” Rund’s unhinged chuckle sent a chill down even Wendell’s spine. “That’s just to give her a little entertainment along the way. Loosen her up a little so she doesn’t give us any trouble.” He craned his neck towards Ayesha, grinning widely when she tried to recoil. “How’s it feeling down there, girlie? Give you a little thrill?”

“It... it hurts.” Ayesha stared up at him with pitiful eyes, speaking bluntly and without hesitation despite her obvious fear. The rope must really have been giving her trouble for her to be so bold, Wendell noted. From what he could see without looking as closely as he could have, the problematic cord was stretched taut between the front and back of a rope circling the alchemist’s waist, sinking deep into her unprotected nethers no matter what she did. Yeah, that had to be painful.

“It’s gonna hurt more when I start walking you around with it, so get used to it.” Ignoring Ayesha’s tearfully imploring look, Rund turned his attention back to Wendell, moving in close holding out his empty palm. “She’s obviously getting to you, so I’m taking over here. You can steer the cart. Give me the knickers and get out.”

For a moment he considered arguing, but with Rund’s legs blocking his view of the helpless alchemist, it was easier for Wendell to forget about her plight and think rationally. He didn’t really care about her, did he? He’d kidnapped her, for heaven’s sake. They’d taken her from her bed, tied her up and thrown her into the cart, ready to spirit her off to a life of servitude. He was still going to do it. Even when he’d been considering lightening the poor girl’s burden, he had always, always intended to hand her over to Modus and claim his hard-earned money. Nothing she’d said, or could say, would change that.

He had no right to feel guilt.

Without so much as a word, he slapped the girl’s damp panties into Rund’s open hand and climbed out of the cart, letting the canvas fold into place behind him. He refused to let himself ignore the little alchemist’s suddenly muffled scream, or the cruel laughter he caught wind of as he climbed onto the front of the cart and took up the waiting reins.

Forget her. Just keep thinking about the money.

Chapter Text

Teresa Wisemail/Gorudo, bondage, non-con, humiliation

The Jowston Alliance had stood firm for well over a hundred years, a protective aegis for the cities scattered around the shores of Lake Dunan, but times had changed.

The political union had always been a fragile thing, formed out of necessity rather than trust, but the common interests of its member states had been enough to hold it together. Alone each land had been weak, but together they were the equal of their northern nemesis, the Kingdom of Highland, and for over a century that combined might had mattered more than their differences.

Alas, nothing can last forever.

With the Highland Army again massing on the northern border, the Alliance’s leaders had met to decide on their response, but this time skepticism and selfishness had won out. Despite the best efforts of the leaders of Muse and Greenhill, there had been no agreement from most of the regional lords, no commitment of troops. Few believed that the enemy would go through with their attack, and the defenses were weaker than they had ever been.

For Teresa Wisemail, the acting mayor of Greenhill, that was an unacceptable situation.

Despite being insulted and ignored by the more powerful leaders at the conference, Teresa could not allow the alliance to crumble so easily. If Muse, on the border with Highland, were to fall, it would not be long before Greenhill would follow. If there was anything she could do to change the minds of the assembled leaders before it was too late, she would swallow what little remained of her pride and do it.

Still, Teresa had never been confident in herself despite the respect and adoration of her people, and the prospect of negotiating with the most powerful men in the country was daunting enough to leave her belly squirming in fits of anxiety. It was shameful, but she found herself grasping at any little thing she could use as an excuse to delay the task at hand; first it had been a rehearsal of the exact words she would use, then a walk to calm her nerves...

Now it was pointless fussing over her appearance. Did she look dignified enough? Would they take her seriously if she approached them looking like this? This was something that Teresa had never shown undue interest in before, but staring into the mirror in her room at the inn, she chewed on her lip and fretted. Her neatly combed blonde hair flowed down her back, only a few stray strands hanging over her elegant face. Her wise green eyes studied her reflection closely, assuring herself of the neatness of her mayoral attire, from her pale yellow boots and gloves to her long purple skirt to her patterned green-and-purple blouse and red ascot.

This would have to do, she told herself firmly, forcing herself to step away from the mirror. The excuse of scrutinizing her appearance had begun to wear thin; these were the best clothes she owned, and there was little else she could do to change her looks now. No matter how long she stared at herself, she would not become the old man the other leaders would instantly respect. She could be only Teresa Wisemail, whether they approved or not.

It was time to pay them a visit, and the Jowston Alliance’s fate would hinge on her ability to convince them.

~ ~ ~

“No.”

The word rumbled from the mouth of the gargantuan warrior like rolling thunder, the white-bearded face of Lord Gorudo stony with unbridled scorn as he glared down at the much smaller woman. To Teresa he seemed the size of a mountain, and he was proving as immovable and heartless as one.

She had expected little different from the man who had so coldly rebuffed her at the conference, but ignoring him had not been an option. As much as Teresa had wanted to avoid him, Gorudo was the head of the Matilda Knightdom, and therefore one of the most powerful men in the Jowston Alliance. If they were to turn back the impending invasion from the north, his support would prove absolutely vital.

Necessity had brought her to the door of the townhouse the city of Muse had lent to Gorudo, and it was necessity that kept her from leaving empty-handed.

Judging by the look on the titanic warrior’s face, her stubbornness had not impressed him. He scowled down at her, his crackled lips curling to reveal his yellowed teeth, looking less like a knight than an ogre. It was hard to believe that he was only a decade older than Teresa’s twenty-seven years. “Are you hard of hearing, girl? I said no.”

“I am the acting mayor of Greenhill!

The words had left Teresa’s lips before she could stop them. She had promised herself that she wouldn’t let him get under her skin as he had at the conference, but the blatant disrespect he showed to her office made her bristle. She had never felt worthy of the role herself, but the way Gorudo spoke to Teresa was an insult to Greenhill as much as to her. Everything from his posture to the coldness in his dark eyes radiated condescension.

“Whatever your feelings towards me,” she forced herself to continue, trying to keep her voice conciliatory, “Greenhill deserves your respect, Sir Gorudo. You should speak to me as you would my father.”

“If only you had half his spine, girl.” Gorudo snorted, staring down his wide nose at Teresa as if she were something he had scraped from the sole of his boot. “Alec was always man enough to do what had to be done. He earned my respect the hard way. Now he is on his deathbed - could be dead already - and I am supposed to be impressed by his know-nothing, goody-two-shoes daughter? No.”

Somehow Teresa managed not to flinch in the face of the knight’s verbal onslaught, but inside, she was reeling as if he had punched her. How her father had ever managed to gain this ogre’s respect was beyond her, but the reminder of his failing health had thrown her off-balance, and with her mental barriers pierced, Gorudo’s insults had stung. He did not see her as a fellow leader, but a child.

“Is there nothing I can do to earn your respect?” She loathed how much her words sounded like begging, especially when they were aimed towards the foul-mannered knight, but the well-being of Greenhill and the Jowston Alliance came first, and Gorudo held both in his oversized hands. “I am not some naive schoolgirl-”

“Why should I respect you? Even your father is pushing it.” Gorudo’s perpetual scowl deepened, and he leaned towards Teresa from the door frame, as if trying to overpower her with his mere presence. “I presume Greenhill will be unable to make its annual rice offering for the fourth year in a row, correct?”

This again. Teresa could no longer keep his gaze, her eyes sinking to regard the front of Gorudo’s tabard. Thankfully, he didn’t keep the buckle of his sash polished enough that she could see her own guilty reflection. The so-called knight had been cruel enough to use Greenhill’s poor harvest as a weapon to shut her up at the conference table, but she hadn’t believed that the lord of the much more bountiful Matilda Domain had truly held it against her...

“The look on your face is answer enough.” Sneering in utter contempt, Gorudo clamped one mailed hand around the doorknob, readying to slam it in Teresa’s face. “And you have the gall to come to me begging favors. Have you no shame, girl?”

There was that word again, spat in her face as an insult. Teresa stiffened, struggling to wipe all emotion from her countenance, swallowing her outrage for the sake of Greenhill’s reputation. “...Forgive me for disturbing you, Lord Gorudo.”

She turned to depart before he could dismiss her, her gloved hands balling into fists at her sides. Her long blonde hair fanned in her wake, the gentle breeze lifting her shin-length skirt as she moved, the hem drifting just high enough to show a glimpse of her calves above her yellow suede boots.

Little things. Tiny, really. Things that Teresa, choking on her frustration and hurt, didn’t even notice.

Gorudo did.

It had been some time since the gargantuan knight had bedded a woman, but the desires he had set aside to focus on war and governance had never entirely gone away, and in that one moment, they roared back to life like the eruption of a long-dormant volcano. Teresa had never meant anything to him in the years he had known her, nothing more than Alec Wisemail’s foolish little daughter, but it seemed that somewhere along the line, the girl had become a woman. A not-unattractive woman.

A not-unattractive woman who represented a nation that owed him.

Acting purely on instinct, barely even realising what he was doing, Gorudo took a single broad stride out of the doorway and into the street, his massive hand closing around Teresa’s upper arm before the acting mayor had the chance to take more than a single step. “I didn’t say you could leave.”

Teresa froze. “Unhand me.”

He ignored her, paying her protest no more mind than her childish attempts at political negotiation. His thick fingers sinking into her soft flesh more than hard enough to bruise, Gorudo began to drag her back towards the door of his townhouse, using his vastly superior bulk to force her to stumble along with him. “Be silent.”

Teresa bit her tongue, though not because he had commanded it, but for fear of making a scene. The side street that Gorudo’s townhouse was situated in was narrow, quiet and empty, but the last thing that she wanted Muse’s public to see at a time like this was a physical altercation between two of Jowston’s leaders. Instead, she silently accepted the indignity of being manhandled by the ogre of a knight, allowing herself to be drawn inside the stately building lest he wrench her arm off, her boots scrambling for purchase on the stone floor.

Maybe, just maybe, if she went along with him, he might have a change of heart.

~ ~ ~

The inside of the townhouse was everything that the outside had suggested, elegant and ornate, furnished in marble and polished wood and plush carpet. Compared to the spare but livable room that Teresa had taken at the inn, this was virtually a palace, and Gorudo strode through its halls like a king in his domain.

Despite the presence of other knights in his retinue, they were nowhere to be seen as Gorudo dragged Teresa through the main hallway. In fact, there was no sign that anybody else at all inhabited the residence, not even the servants that Teresa had expected a man like Gorudo would keep. They were alone.

It wasn’t until they reached the living room that the overbearing knight released his merciless grip on her arm, placing himself in the doorway, blocking the only exit from the room. Now that he has you right where he wants you, the voice in Teresa’s head whispered as she stepped away from him, rubbing the soreness from the arm he had abused.

Now that they were out of public sight, however, there was no reason for her to hide her anger, and the outrage that had been seething under the surface of her politician’s poise boiled over. “Lord Gorudo, what is the meaning of this!? That was completely unaccep-”

The brutal backhanded slap sent her reeling, the force of the blow almost lifting her from her feet.

“I told you to be silent.” Gorudo’s booming voice barely penetrated the ringing in Teresa’s ears, but the imperious distaste on the knight commander’s bearded face required no interpretation. “You Greenhill hicks have had it too good for too long. If your little backwater town can’t pay in rice or in coin, I’ll take what the Matilda Domain is owed another way.”

Clutching her reddened cheek with one hand, tears glimmering in the corners of her wise green eyes, Teresa gritted her teeth against the pain, waiting for the stinging sensation of the slap to subside. “Y-you mean my death, then,” she managed to gasp through numbed lips, breathing for her nose as she fought to reclaim her composure. She hadn’t thought to need her bodyguard for a simple diplomatic meeting, but now she wished she had accepted his request to accompany her after all.

“No.” Gorudo’s hand shot out again, but rather than delivering another vicious slap, he captured Teresa’s throat between his meaty fingers, forcing her backwards and hurling her into the plush green couch at the far side of the room. Without the strength to resist him, Teresa was thrown about like a rag doll, crashing into the soft backing of the expensive furniture and sagging, the breath knocked out of her.

“I am not going to kill you, Teresa,” the knight continued, looming over her like the mountain she had taken him for. “I am going to put you in your place.”

He moved much faster than Teresa would have credited, snatching at the soft velvet rope attached to the curtains that hung above the couch and drawing them closed over the window with a single swift tug, then ripped the entire cord from the fitting as the acting mayor watched in fearful awe.

By the time Teresa realized what he was planning, Gorudo was on top of her. His overwhelming bulk pinned her to the couch beneath him with ease, one grasping hand gathering Teresa’s slender wrists together above her head, the other bringing the pilfered rope around them and snaring her hands in its length. He was too fast and too strong to stop, and Teresa was reduced to twisting uselessly beneath Gorudo’s monstrous mass as he tied her wrists, her breaths coming in trembling gasps. “What are you doing?!”

“I already told you, girl. I am taking what I am owed.” With one gargantuan paw, the callous knight forced Teresa’s captive hands behind her head, clamping his sweaty palm over her forehead to keep them pinned against her soft blonde locks. His body pressed against hers with an intimacy that made her stomach churn, the surprisingly shapely figure that lay hidden beneath her demure attire straining against Gorudo’s girth as she squirmed in desperation. He still hadn’t told her what it was that he wanted from her, but by now, Teresa knew.

Her politician’s composure deserted her, her eyes wild with terror as she finally understood the depths of Gorudo’s depravity. She had known that he was a selfish, stubborn old warhorse, but she had foolishly assumed that anybody who claimed to be a knight must have possessed some shred of decency, and now she was paying for it. “Lord Gorudo... p-please don’t do this...!”

“Already begging me.” Gorudo’s other hand and his knee worked in tandem, forcing Teresa’s legs apart, paying no mind to her boots and letting her modest skirt hike its own way up her parting limbs. “I knew you were nothing but a scared little girl,” he gloated as he shifted his palm from her forehead to her mouth, pressing down against her lips and trapping her whimpers inside, pinning her tightly tied wrists between her head and the couch below. “Completely out of your depth. Not fit to stand among true leaders.”

His taunts would not have stung so badly had they not simply echoed Teresa’s insecurities. Hearing her own dark thoughts spoken aloud by one of the most powerful men in the Jowston Alliance sapped the last of the fight out of her, and she ceased her struggles and whimpers, surrendering herself to her fate. Who was she, to think herself capable of succeeding her father? She had been right about herself all along. She should never have listened to the well-meaning citizens of Greenhill who had tried to convince her otherwise.

Silent tears rolled down her cheeks as Gorudo tugged her skirt up to her thighs, and she barely even flinched as her panties were ripped from her body, squeezing her eyes shut and simply waiting for the inevitable. How could she have ever stopped the Highland invasion? She couldn’t even stop one man from doing whatever he wanted to her. She had been such a fool.

Abruptly, Gorudo’s hand slipped away from his prisoner’s mouth, and Teresa opened her eyes again, dreading the catch that came with this newfound freedom. Sure enough, the torn remains of her soft pink underwear hung above her face, dangling from the knight’s chubby fingers. “Do you have anything to say, girl?” he queried, the sour look on his wide, hairy face practically a demand for silence.

What could she say? She had already proven incapable of changing his mind about anything at all, and she had nothing to offer him to avoid her fate now. Any dream that he might one day respect her was dead; her fears and insecurities lay as exposed before him as her body, and with her skirt still hiked over her hips, her legs spread wide and her downy-haired crotch laid bare, her body was very exposed indeed.

With Gorudo, you were either worthy of his regard or you were nothing, and Teresa was no longer in doubt as to where she fell.

“Hmph.” Pleased with the acting mayor’s silence, Gorudo reached down to roughly up Teresa’s chin, his fingers digging into her cheeks as he lowered the panties towards her face. “So you have learned your place at last.”

Confronted with the unpleasant prospect of having her own underthings shoved into her mouth, Teresa managed to gasp out a single word before the warm fabric met her lips. “Wait!”

For reasons known only to Gorudo, he did. His meaty hand withdrew the panties, if only by an inch. “What?” he bit out, scowling down at her as if she had requested his Knightdom.

“Please.” She paused, drawing in shaking breaths, a pretense to stall for time as her mind flailed about for something to say. “Please... I...”

Gorudo’s grip on her jaw tightened, and she knew her time was up.

“Please... if you must... do this...” she gasped before he could thrust the ball of pink cloth into her mouth, forcing herself to speak the words without dwelling on their import, “You... you said you are taking what you a-are owed. Did you not?”

The towering knight did not respond, his visage as hard as ever, but nor did he move to gag her. She had his attention.

If I must be defiled, at least let it serve Greenhill somehow.

“If you do this, my city’s debt is paid.” It took all of Teresa’s strength to say those words, all of her willpower to instill them with authority, and all of her wounded self-esteem not to call herself a whore. She would never have used her body as a bargaining tool had he not already intended to rape her, but even with her hands tied, her legs spread open and her skirt bundled around her waist, Teresa was intelligent and selfless enough to consider every available option, no matter how sordid. “Greenhill’s slate is wiped clean. We will owe you nothing.”

And we never speak of this again.

Gorudo stared down at her, his eyes wide, his craggy face frozen in a mask of utter disbelief. He had clearly not been expecting that, and for one blessed moment, Teresa dared to think that she had impressed him.

The booming thunder of his laughter shattered that illusion. “Very well, little girl,” the knight chortled, his features slowly settling back into familiar contemptuousness. “I shall waive the debt that we both know you could never have paid. Now lie still.”

Thick fingers pushed Teresa’s ruined underwear deep between her lips before she could form a response, stifling her protest into a pitiful squeak of outrage. The silken panties clogged her mouth full, confining her eloquent tongue beneath the rapidly dampening ball of fabric, muffling her disgusted moan as she tasted traces of herself on the cloth that had once rubbed against her crotch, but she forced herself to hold them inside, closing her teeth around the pale pink wad in submission. The look that Gorudo had given her as her face twisted in revulsion had been warning enough.

“Oh, and... if you do manage to make it back to Greenhill before your father expires,” the ogre of a man sneered as he lifted the front of his tabard and unbuckled his belt, letting his trousers drop around his ankles, “do not forget to tell him that I claimed his precious daughter in lieu of the payment he owes. We would not want him to die thinking that he has left his city in debt, would we?”

Better that than learning of this. Again Teresa clamped her eyes shut, and this time she vowed not open them again until he was done with her, a promise she kept even as she felt him slide into her, his satisfied grunts blocking out all other sound. If she told herself that this was all for Greenhill, perhaps she might even start to believe it.

Chapter Text

Agnes Oblige/Holly Whyte, bondage, humiliation, non-con

"So this is her. The wind vestal..."

The wavy veil of Edea Lee's pale blonde hair hid her uncertainty from her comrades as she stared down at the woman hunched over before her, certain that her eyes must be deceiving her. Everything that the young knight had been told by her parents and her allies in the Sky Knights had made plain that the vestals were creatures of unparalleled malice, scheming harlots who meant to draw the world back into the web of lies from which it had so nearly escaped, and yet...

Now that they were face to face, the wind vestal looked like just an ordinary girl, and her dark eyes reflected only sorrow and pain as they stared grimly back up at her.

Little wonder, Edea mused with a guilty bite of her lower lip. It was obvious that the vestal had not been treated well by the rest of the Sky Knights, despite her willing surrender. Perhaps it was to be expected, for the woman who had captured the fugitive girl had been none other than Holly Whyte, and the white mage had never been the sort to favor compassion when cruelty would do. The evidence of her attentions was plain to see upon the vestal’s form, a sight that almost brought tears to Edea’s eyes despite the knowledge that this girl was supposed to be her enemy.

The young priestess had been stripped completely naked, her graceful body shrouded only by ropes and trailing wisps of silken brunette hair. Even her undergarments had been torn away, leaving her small breasts hanging shamefully free, her nipples risen from the cold air of the knighthood’s dungeon, and a thin patch of dark, curly hair confirmed her nudity even between her tightly closed thighs. There were no marks of violence upon her smooth, pale skin, but Edea knew better than to believe Holly had been gentle on the vestal. The sadistic healer had surely beaten her and erased the marks afterward with her magic, if only to enjoy inflicting them again and again.

Presenting the vestal to the other knights like this served no purpose but to humiliate her. Edea took a shuddering breath to steady herself, wondering if her comrades had noticed her unease. Holly... you may bear the white mage's asterisk, but you have ever been as black as pitch.

Degrading the vestal had not been enough for the spiteful mage, of course. Her nude body had been cruelly restrained in a maze of rope and knots, carefully wound about her unthreateningly slender form in just the right places to immobilize her without hiding her more intimate areas from curious eyes. Her arms had been twisted behind her back, her palms forced flat against each other between her shoulder-blades and tightly bound there, the muscles of the vestal’s arms trembling from the strain of being tied this way for so long. The remainder of the vestal's body told a similarly sordid story; more ropes circled her thin, pale legs, binding ankles to thighs to force her to kneel, biting into soft skin without mercy. Another had been fastened around her waist, a savagely taut loop passing between her thighs and sinking into her crotch, and Edea winced at the thought of what it must be doing to the intimate area of the once-dignified priestess. Another unnecessary cruelty and humiliation.

The vestal could hardly speak her mind on the matter, even had the ever-present threat of violence not hung over her should she speak unbidden. Her pretty head had been ensnared in a prison of leather, a web of straps passing over her cheeks and forehead and jaw, holding a sturdy black panel close against her face from nostril to chin. Her lips were hidden beneath the gag, but this alone could not keep even this mouse-like girl quiet; Edea knew that something must have been forced inside of her mouth to stifle her voice and still her tongue. Knowing Holly, it was something far from pleasant.

Anger threatened to cloud Edea’s mind as the pitiful brown eyes of the vestal stared back at her, glistening with unshed tears. This girl was no threat. She possessed no weapon, nor an asterisk that might grant her magical power, yet she had been ruthlessly immobilized and shamed by her captors. Captors who were supposed to be honorable. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t supposed to be how the Sky Knights conducted themselves. If her father, the Grand Marshal, had known about this...

But he didn’t, he wasn’t here, and the callous Sky Knights were not about to start taking orders from their newest member, regardless of her lineage. They were looking at her now, the cold-hearted captain Argent Heinkel, brutish Barras Lehr, psychotic Ominas Crowe, and the woman chiefly responsible for the vestal’s torment, the beautiful, cruel Holly Whyte. Did they see Edea’s fury, her frustration? Did they suspect that the first embers of insubordination had been stoked within her noble heart?

“Your father will be pleased,” Holly said at last, the first words spoken within the chamber in what seemed like an eternity. She certainly sounded pleased with herself. “With the earth and fire vestals dead, and the wind vestal in our possession, only the water vestal remains free in this world. Our mission nears completion.”

“Hmmph?” The captive maiden looked up at the white mage, startled. Had it been the mention of the other vestals that had caused her to react so? The tight leather gag forced the wind vestal to keep the words she might have spoken to herself, but the renewed life in her deep brown eyes stirred something within Edea as well. This girl, nude and bound and gagged on the floor before her, was not the monster she had been warned of.

The vestal that she had feared for so long was more afraid of Edea and her comrades than Edea was of her. She had surrendered, and yet she had been treated as badly as if she had been taken kicking and screaming and raining fire upon her captors. This wasn’t how things were supposed to be. This was not how the Sky Knights of Eternia were meant to conduct themselves!

“That’s enough whining out of you.” Holly’s hand clenched within the vestal’s lustrous hair, drawing a muffled shriek from the helpless girl as her head was yanked backward, forcing her to stare at the ceiling through pain-widened eyes. “I know your mouth is pretty filled up with your undergarments already, but I’m sure I can find room for mine in there as well if you insist on making a racket, girl.”

Edea’s stomach turned, disgusted by more than just the thought of the vestal being gagged with her own underthings. The cold acceptance on the features of the knighthood’s captain and the hoots of amusement from Barras Lehr and Ominas Crowe made her want to retch. This might be a knighthood in name, but these animals were no knights. Their captive had done nothing to warrant such vicious treatment!

The vestal fell silent, tears trickling from shimmering eyes onto cheeks caged in leather.

“Excellent work, both of you.” Captain Argent Heinkel nodded to both Holly and Barras, then turned from them towards the exit, his cape sweeping after his armoured form. “Our mission is complete. We have no reason to stay in Caldisla any longer. Lehr, Crowe, prepare the airship for departure. Whyte, take care of the prisoner. Lee, gather the troops.”

Edea saluted with the rest of the Sky Knights, but her heart was no longer in the respectful gesture. The chamber began to empty, Barras Lehr and Ominas Crowe following their captain out of view, leaving only the three women - two knights and one crying captive - behind. Holly Whyte paid Edea no mind at all, her attentions entirely focused on the wind vestal, sadistic glee dancing across the white mage’s lovely features as she loomed over the naked young woman. How a healer and protector such as Holly had fallen so far from grace Edea could not begin to guess, but now her miraculous powers were turned to causing maximum pain more often than healing the wounded. She was a disgrace to her calling.

“We should be going, my pet,” Holly whispered to the vestal, her voice echoing throughout the large stone chamber and carried to Edea’s ears. Was she unaware that Edea was still present, or were these words meant to be heard by her as well? “Perhaps when you are safely aboard the airship and on your way to Eternia, we might find out if my staff between your legs still makes you climax as hard. And I had thought you vestals were meant to be pure...”

Her head spinning, bile surging within her throat, Edea fled. The vestal was no longer the only one shedding bitter tears.

This isn’t right.

Chapter Text

Aerith Gainsborough/Sephiroth/Jenova, non-con, bondage, shapeshifting, body horror

The Capital was dead, a desolate ruin of stone and ashen coral, the same husk of a once-proud city that it had been for over a thousand years... and yet here, humanity would find its salvation.

Fragments of chalky rock crumbled to dust beneath Aerith’s heel as the last of the Cetra navigated the weaving pathways of the fallen city of her ancestors. Time had taken its inexorable toll on the shell-like homes and buildings that lined the lonely roads, bringing ceilings and walls crashing down on the remnants of civilization, every day burying more hints of those who had lived here so very long ago. Great shards of still-living coral pierced the desiccated facade of the lost metropolis, the only signs of life to be found among the stifling silence that surrounded Aerith as she walked. There were no monsters here, no animals, not even the smallest insect. Life itself had abandoned the Forgotten Capital, and the flower girl could not help but feel an intruder despite the lack of anybody to disturb.

The Planet, though... she could still feel the Planet guiding her, cajoling her onward to the centre of the city, there to summon the only magic that could protect the world from its coming doom. The constant contact with the soul of the world, a gift of her Cetra heritage, seemed the only thing keeping her from going mad from solitude. She had grown up in Midgar, the largest, noisiest and darkest city there was, and if somebody had told her she had crossed into another world entirely, Aerith might have believed them.

Midgar was profane. The Capital was... holy.

Holy...

The White Materia she kept within the ribbon in her hair had been lifeless and dull since Aerith could remember, but now it thrummed with power as its purpose drew near. The Planet had told her everything she needed to know, and she had left Cloud and the rest of her friends to carry out its will here within this city. Sephiroth had acquired the opposing Black Materia, and he planned to use it to injure the Planet’s surface with a colossal meteor summoned by the materia’s power.

The only hope of stopping Meteor was Holy, and the only person living who could call upon Holy was the last remaining Cetra, Aerith herself. The only place where she could summon Holy was an altar somewhere within the Forgotten Capital, and she was fast running out of time to find it.

He’s coming, the Planet had warned her, and she knew that it was not referring to Cloud.

~ ~ ~

The path to the city’s center led the flower girl through a dense forest of coral spines and jagged rock faces, walling her in on either side and limiting her choices to retreat or forging onward. It was a beautiful, serene locale that would have set her heart at ease had she come for any other reason, had she not been chased by a terrible, wrathful shadow, but now her vibrant green eyes saw not magnificent scenery, only the perfect place for an ambush and a swift death.

A chill teased her flesh as she moved further toward the Capital’s heart, but whether it was from the natural cold of the northern climate or the fear that gnawed at her at every moment, she did not know. Regardless, she told herself as she advanced along the narrow pathway, it hardly mattered which it was. Only one thing was of any consequence anymore, knowledge constantly reinforced by the urgent whisper of the Planet’s voice in her mind and the gentle, barely perceptible hum of the White Materia against her scalp. She had to proceed, no matter the risk, and so her aching feet carried her ever onward, her travel-worn boots crushing more fragments of the dead city with every step she took...

It was dark and frigid here, the depths of the passageway taking her beyond the sunlight’s reach, but a narrow gap of radiant light in the distance encouraged her to carry on. Her destination was finally near. Just a little further and she could protect the Planet from Meteor.

As she neared the end of the road, her eyes adjusting to the glare, she noticed a smudge of darkness silhouetted against the white. Something was there, and the closer Aerith trudged, the more certain of just what it was she became.

Black and silver stood in her path.

Aerith halted in her tracks, her heart jumping into her throat at the sight of her argent-haired nemesis.

Sephiroth.

The former SOLDIER was as still and silent as stone, but the hostile emerald glow of his narrowed eyes left no doubt that he was aware of her. The familiar sight of his terrifying sword, the Masamune, in his gloved hand spoke as clearly of his intent. He did not even need to move to intimidate the flower girl, filling her with stomach-churning fear. His very presence, sinister and otherworldly, radiated menace.

She had known that this might happen, but now that he was standing between her and the altar deep within the Capital, she had no idea how she was going to deal with him.

Her hands had found her metal staff, the simple weapon held in front of her in the delusion that it might proved her some protection against this monster, but she knew her chances of survival were non-existent. This man had slaughtered countless people, fueled by his madness and the influence of the Jenova cells within his body, and even had Cloud and Tifa and all the rest of her traveling companions been here by her side, Aerith knew that they would have done her little good.

He is too strong for you, the Planet hissed to her, its revulsion of the unclean man before her all too obvious. The Jenova cells he carried had been extracted from the Calamity from the Skies herself, she who had gravely wounded the Planet in the past, and the alien taint within him was almost as strong as if he were Jenova herself. Darkness, corruption, malevolence beyond reason. An invincible avatar of evil.

Breaking his self-imposed stillness, Sephiroth began to move along the coral-enclosed path towards her, his sword grating noisily against the stone beneath his feet. Garbed in black from neck to toe, metallic hair flowing behind him like a silvery curtain, his every action mechanical and utterly self-assured, this was the Sephiroth she remembered and had dreaded to meet again. Her heart lurched, her bowels turned to liquid, but she could not look away from him, partly transfixed, partly too frightened to take her eyes off of him for even an instant. It was now her turn to be still as he approached her, unable to take even a single step backward.

The blade of Masamune scraped against the pathway with his every step, slicing a shallow trail into the chilled stone surface, an explicit threat meant for the flower girl. Words were unnecessary; the message had been received. Aerith had seen the gleaming length of the oversized sword sheathed in blood and innards before and that image was frozen in her terrified mind, but this time she knew it would be her remnants smeared across its keen silver edge, the blood of the last Cetra, the last person on the Planet who could summon Holy and put an end to this madman’s plot...

~ ~ ~

He could smell her fear from ten paces away, and he savored the scent as he closed in on the trembling maiden. It meant that he had won, that the last obstacle on his path to godhood was in truth no obstacle at all. She was defenseless against him, the metal pole in her hands entirely useless, not a single orb of materia in her possession but for the hateful white orb he could sense somewhere on her person. The key to his undoing was here before him, but in the hands of a weak, fragile girl without the power to use it.

Five paces, and he could smell the reek of stale sweat on her body. The flower girl was exhausted from her journey north, still dragged down by mortal needs he had long since forgotten, yet still she was on her feet and had been continuing her journey up until the moment he had crossed her path. A formidable will lay beneath her fragile exterior, he sensed, the same will that had brought her here without the puppet and his motley collection of followers. Perhaps she was not as weak as she seemed at first, but physically she was still his inferior by leagues.

One pace from her, the scent of flowers caught his attention. The gentle, sweet aroma was out of place in this dead shell of a city, and he knew at once that it was coming from her. She was beautiful, he noticed for the first time as he let his guard slip in the face of her weakness. The kind of woman that the Sephiroth of years past had lusted for. A lovely face, rosy lips, eyes near as vivid green as his but softer without his madness and malice. Exquisite locks of chestnut hair tied in a long braid behind her head, smaller curls caressing cheeks whitened by fear. A dainty, slender body cloaked in a figure-hugging pink dress, the small red jacket worn above doing nothing to hide her low-cut bodice and the tempting mounds of her modest but enticing breasts...

He had planned to kill her and end the threat of the White Materia with the termination of her bloodline... but would it not be more delicious, he asked himself as he advanced, to corrupt her instead? To make the Cetra his, to extend his tainted will to the only other truly pure Ancient on the entire Planet?

Today she smelled of fear and sweat and flowers, but tomorrow she would smell of him.

~ ~ ~

Sephiroth was much taller than Aerith and infinitely broader than the slight flower girl, a reality all the more apparent with every purposeful step he took toward her. His form slowly eclipsed the light radiating from the passage ahead as he neared, his darkness blotting out the world’s salvation from her sight.

His lengthy strides methodically reduced the space between them to a few meters, a few feet, a few inches, and all the while Aerith merely waited for him to reach her. She stood no chance against him, and her faithful staff felt like a toy in her shaking grip, but running away had never occurred to her. She had nowhere to go if not to the altar ahead, and she had no hope of outpacing Sephiroth if he wished to catch her. If he wished her dead, then dead she would be...and the White Materia would be his along with the Black.

He loomed over her, a shadow-cloaked mountain capped by silver snow, and Aerith held her breath and waited for her end to come. She could not bring herself to look upward to his handsome face, nor could she look down and glimpse the wicked sword he held. Her compromise was to stare vacantly at his muscular chest, bared by his black coat and crossed by leather straps, but there was no desire within her for this monster’s alluring form. She knew what he was on the inside, and the Planet was screaming in her mind that he was wrong, evil, profane, but even it with all its wisdom could offer her no way to escape him.

“Cetra,” he murmured, an observation and an accusation, his leather-sheathed right hand roughly grasping her chin and forcing her to look up at him, his left tearing the metal staff from her grip and casting it to the ground with a clatter. Strands of dangling silver hair tickled her fearful face as he gazed down into her eyes, a cruel smile spreading across his features. “We are the last Cetra, you know. You and I and Mother.”

“Jenova is no Cetra. She never was... and neither are you, Sephiroth.” Somehow Aerith found the nerve to speak the truth to him, despite his intimidating closeness and the hateful power she felt emanating from him. She had nothing to lose anymore; she could not prevent him from taking her life, and he would be a fool not to kill her. She held the only means to end his destructive plot, after all. Her death was a certainty now, and she entertained no notions of miraculous survival.

Planet, forgive me.

Sephiroth was silent for what seemed an eon, but the spark of anger in his luminous eyes communicated his thoughts to Aerith as clearly as words or actions. When he finally spoke, his voice was as frigid as the northern air. “You know nothing of Mother.”

“I saw her in the lab in the Shinra Building. Before you stole her.” She was entering dangerous territory, she knew, but there was nothing else for her to say or do. Even these words prolonged her life for a few precious seconds. Her mission on behalf of the Planet aside, Aerith did not want to die. “She wasn’t human or Cetra. She was a monster-”

“Stole her?” Fortunately for Aerith, it seemed that Sephiroth had ceased listening to her after the words he now repeated with disdain. He chuckled, his shoulders shaking with genuine mirth as well as contempt. “You are a fool, girl.”

“I was in the building when it happened. I saw the tank Jenova was kept in, broken open and with her missing. I know you took her.” Why was he denying it? Aerith didn’t understand. It was obvious that Sephiroth had stolen Jenova from the lab during his murderous rampage through the Shinra Building. He had left an unmistakable trail of blood and corpses in his wake, from the shattered specimen tank that had held Jenova, all the way to the top floor, where his distinctive sword had rested in the back of the deceased President Shinra. Sephiroth had even appeared to her and the rest of Cloud’s group on the cargo ship, leaving a piece of Jenova’s body behind to fight them.

“You haven’t realized, then.” The cold smirk returned to Sephiroth’s lips. He spread his arms wide. “What I am. What this is before you. Hasn’t your precious Planet told you? Does it even know?”

The Planet was silent. Aerith was alone. “Told me what?” she whispered, sure that his answer would be punctuated with the thrust of his sword through her stomach. She could feel the seconds of her life ticking away with every exhaled cloud of steam that passed her lips.

“That this is not my true body.” Sephiroth took great delight in telling her this, seeing the horror slowly dawning in her gentle green eyes. “I was never in the Shinra Building, or on the ship, or at the Temple of the Ancients... and I am not here. What you and the puppet have been following is not me. It never was. This... He raised a hand in front of Aerith’s face, and she saw gentle ripples running across the surface of his black leather glove, distortions that should not exist. “This body belongs to Mother.”

“J-Jenova?” That was somehow even worse than if this had been Sephiroth’s flesh and blood. Aerith swallowed, somewhat lightheaded with shock and fright, his - her? - closeness overwhelming. “You mean...”

“Yes.” Madness overtook anger in his emerald eyes, his lips curved into another demonic smile. “This is the body of Mother. I control its every move, an extension of my will. I give it my shape - an admirable likeness, but a likeness only - and I can give it another of my choosing whenever I wish. Observe...”

He took a single step back from Aerith and lifted the Masamune into the void between them, holding the enormous blade length-ways mere inches from the flower girl’s eyes. Aerith could not stop herself from flinching as the razor-sharp sword hovered before her face; it was indistinguishable from the real thing, as metallic as her own staff, and it would surely slice through her body just as easily as the genuine article. Yet as Sephiroth held it in place, its flat silver surface began to waver... and transmute into thick brown leather.

In seconds, the entire six-foot long blade had been warped into a broad leather strap of the same length... and as Aerith recoiled in disgust, the band flew from Sephiroth’s hands, seemingly of its own will.

What...?

Before the flower girl could react, the belt had snapped itself around her midsection, coiling sinuously about her slender body and pinning her arms tightly to her sides. It was as if the band were alive, moving with no obvious command from the silver-haired swordsman as it twisted itself around the Cetra and bound her within its clenching grip. Caught completely by surprise by this sudden attack, Aerith struggled frantically but vainly against the sturdy, constricting strap as its ends looped back around her waist to her front, passing another thick layer of leather over her bare arms and securing them painfully to her squirming hips.

Heedless of her futile thrashing, the band’s ends crossed over at Aerith’s groin and slithered behind her once again, trapping her hands against her thighs as they went. Settling at last over the soft curves of her buttocks, the twin ends of the leather band fused into one, merging as if there had never been a break at all, tightening further still and drawing a pained whimper from the girl as she was squeezed within its grasp. She was completely trapped, her arms immobilized at her sides, her legs unable to part above her knees...

Not by leather, as it appeared, but by the profane being of Jenova. That alone sent such a surge of revulsion through her body that she could barely find the strength to stand. The thought of that monster’s loathsome flesh pressed so intimately against her own made her want to be sick.

“Foolish child.” The cold hand of ‘Sephiroth’ caressed her cheek, and Aerith closed her eyes in abhorrence at the touch of more of Jenova’s being twisted into human likeness. Now that she knew what this imitation of Sephiroth was really composed of, there was no ignoring the gruesome truth. “If you would betray your heritage to the inferior lifeforms that crawl across the Planet like parasites,” he murmured, ”I must correct your path.”

As Aerith was forced to watch, bound in place by the bands of artificial leather constricting her body, Sephiroth’s entire form began to shift.

The ripples that had crossed his hand and his sword now erupted across the entirety of his clothing and flesh, warping and tearing, twisting his shape into a grisly mass of roiling matter. His malevolent features melted away before the flower girl’s horrified eyes, giving way to a throbbing clot of scarlet that barely resembled a face at all, staring back at her with hauntingly empty eye sockets. His black garb disintegrated, absorbed into his muscular body as it rearranged itself, and in moments his ghostly-pale skin had sloughed from his form as well, leaving behind only a viscous, pulsating substance of reds and pinks and sickly greys. This was what he truly was, the alien body of Jenova laid bare without the mortal disguise Sephiroth had forced upon it.

This time Aerith could not hold back the wave of nausea. Bile coursed from her throat, dripping from her mouth as she bent over within her painful bonds, her whole body convulsing in disgust. The Planet’s horror echoed in her head alongside her own, a crashing roar of affront at Jenova’s very existence. Jenova, Sephiroth, or whatever unholy combination of the two now stood before the helpless Aerith, had no place in this world. They were corruption incarnate, their very presence sickening to the Planet... and that sickness was spreading to Aerith, the last of the Cetra, the last with a connection to the Planet’s very soul. She felt the planet’s revulsion as keenly as her own.

When she dared look up, when she could retch no more, the twisting lumps of matter had worked themselves into a new form at last. Gone was the replica of Sephiroth, and in his place stood a younger man, dressed in the purple uniform of a SOLDIER First Class. Spiky tufts of wild blond hair, a cocky smirk, glittering blue eyes possessed of a glow reminiscent of Sephiroth’s, but different...

Cloud Strife, her friend and companion, the leader of the group she had been a part of that had pursued Sephiroth across the world. A man she harbored feelings for.

The likeness was uncanny, but Aerith knew better than to be taken in. This was even less Cloud than it had been Sephiroth. This was Jenova’s unholy flesh molded into another stolen shape at Sephiroth’s bidding, and she despised him for daring to take his likeness.

She hated him even more when his lips locked over hers.

Her arms bound to her sides by painfully tight leather, her body enfolded by the powerful arms of her assailant, Aerith could do nothing but scream her dismay into the unwanted kiss. Cloud’s... Sephiroth’s... Jenova’s tongue invaded her mouth, cold and thick and tasting of blood, its lifeless lips undulating against the soft warmth of her own, sapping the heat from her being. She had wanted Cloud to kiss her like this for so very long, but this... this was a mockery of love that disgusted her to her core.

It was wrong in every possible way.

He withdrew from her eventually, leaving a thread of fluid too slimy and grey to be saliva dangling loose from her faintly twitching lips. “What’s wrong, Aerith?” the imitation asked in Cloud’s voice, mimicking his stilted tone precisely. There was hurt in his glowing eyes, emotion that appeared so genuine that for a fleeting moment Aerith was tricked into thinking it real. “I thought you wanted it.”

You’re not him,” she whimpered, her voice cracking. She didn’t know what else to say. The thick taste he had left behind in her mouth made her grimace in disgust, almost triggering another round of retching, but she forced herself to stillness. If there were some way to trick Sephiroth into letting her live, at least long enough to reach the altar and use the White Materia, she had to find it... and that meant not making him lose his temper with her.

Going along with his cruel whims, perhaps.

A shrug. “If the puppet’s form does not please you, perhaps another that might serve.”

The features of the imitation Cloud began to shift and warp, just as Sephiroth’s had, but this time his skin did not completely vanish from view. There was no sign of the throbbing, coagulated reds and greys of Jenova’s body that had been on display before, to Aerith’s gratitude, but the body before her was still like something out of a nightmare as hair and skin and bone and muscle molded themselves into a new formation.

When Jenova’s shapechanging was done, Tifa Lockhart stared back at Aerith.

“Is this better?” asked Tifa’s voice from Tifa’s mouth, the woman standing before her once again a perfect replica of another. ‘She’ was smiling brightly, her dark eyes warm and friendly, her posture relaxed and unwary. Long brown hair hung behind her athletic body, the lustrous strands grazing against her hips as they swayed in the gentle breeze within the coral passageway. She was even less properly clothed for the climate than Aerith, still clad in the same black miniskirt and sleeveless white tank top that she had worn ever since Midgar. Twin bumps on her large breasts gave away her sensitivity to the cold; Aerith had to admit the detail of her protruding nipples was a nice touch on the duplicate of her friend, though Sephiroth had no doubt created them that way for his amusement.

Aerith said nothing, still unsure of what she should do. Talking was her only option, bound as she was in the still-painful bands of leather formed from Jenova’s flesh; her arms and thighs ached from the tightness of their prison, but she could do nothing to salve them.

Hearing no response from the frightened Cetra, the replica Tifa took matters into her own hands, capturing Aerith in her well-toned arms and pressing her shapely body against the flower girl’s. Wincing as her smaller breasts were crushed against the generous chest of her friend, the Cetra braced herself for what she knew was coming.

The fake Tifa kissed her hard, as had the imitation Cloud before her, and there was no escape from it. Once again an invading tongue surged against hers, tepid and tasting just as foul, ravishing her mouth with vigor, and Aerith struggled not to gag. At least her lips seemed oddly warmer than her predecessor’s, she noticed dimly, despite being composed of the same horrid alien flesh. Moaning softly into Tifa’s mouth, Aerith gave herself over to this mockery of her closest friend, not kissing her back, but not fighting it anymore. It was deeply unpleasant, but not as awful as the first had been...

Real and fake lips separated, and the breathless flower girl would have fallen to her shaking knees had she not been held upright by the false Tifa’s arms. The imitation bartender supported the trembling form of Aerith until the Cetra could stand on her own, then took a step back and fixed her eyes - Sephiroth’s eyes, Jenova’s eyes - on her. “I’ve always kind of liked you, Aer,” she said with a little smile, her voice still indistinguishable from the real Tifa’s. “Ever since we met in... well, you know.”

Aerith knew, of course, but Sephiroth didn’t. The illusion was broken, and Aerith could not help feeling a little relieved despite having never been fooled by the replica of her friend. She stared back at the lovely imitation, waiting for her next move. What else could she do, bound like this?

“You don’t have to be shy,” Tifa coaxed, licking traces of saliva from her lips, Aerith’s as well as her own. “Here, I’ll get us started.”

The martial artist’s hands went to the lower edge of her tank top, and she wasted no time in tugging the garment up over her head, passing under the leather braces that held up her skimpy skirt. She wore wore no bra beneath, artistic license on Sephiroth’s part, but her breasts were almost identical to the real Tifa’s... almost. The rising nipples of this version were larger and darker than those of the real thing, a blemish on an otherwise perfect imitation. Aerith had seen Tifa nude in the past and could tell the difference, but Sephiroth never had, it seemed.

A small mercy. If the real and imitation Tifas had been identical even beneath their clothes, this would have been even more uncomfortable, though that hardly seemed possible, and it would have raised questions she had no desire to think about.

While Aerith was examining Tifa’s chest, the replica was busy folding the tank top into a thick band, stretching the white cloth between her hands slightly more than should have been possible, then tying a large knot in the centre. By the time Aerith realized what was happening, Tifa was already closing in on her once again, lifting the makeshift gag towards her face...

The bulky knot was brutally wedged between Aerith’s teeth despite her feeble resistance, the remainder of the top pulled tightly through her mouth and cleaving painfully into the corners of her lips. She cried out as the ends were yanked behind her head and savagely tied in place beneath her chestnut ponytail, but already the gag was doing its job; the thick cloth muffled her pain-tinged yelp into a dull little whine, stilling her voice behind its dampening mass. It tasted like cloth, the Cetra noted as her tongue flicked warily against the intruding fabric, but she knew that in truth it was simply another piece of Jenova’s corrupt flesh...

A pity that vomiting was no longer an option.

‘Tifa’ had not been idle as Aerith adjusted to her gag; she had shed her miniskirt as well, revealing a complete lack of underwear beneath and leaving her completely naked. Aerith could not help averting her eyes, feeling like a voyeur even though this was not the real Tifa, but her emerald gaze quickly rose again as she felt hands tugging on her warm red jacket.

N-No...

There was nothing Aerith could do to stop her. The imitation Tifa possessed even more strength than the real one; she had no trouble tearing the Cetra’s jacket from her body, rending it to shreds with her bare hands and letting the tatters rain down around them.

Her dress lasted precious little longer. Tifa’s clawing fingers ripped the front of the pink garment open from chest to hip, sending buttons flying off to clink against stone and coral. The straps were torn from Aerith’s shoulders, the ruined bodice falling limp around her hips, only held to her body at all now by the same leather straps that pinned her arms to her sides. The straps had ensured that everything below her waist remained in place to cover her modesty, but her upper body was left naked but for her pink, floral-patterned bra...

She shivered in the cold, her cheeks flaring scarlet, but could do nothing to cover or warm herself. If she didn’t freeze to death, surely she would die of shame.

~ ~ ~

The body was Jenova’s, twisted into the form of the human girl Tifa, but within lay the consciousness and the indomitable will of Sephiroth.

Tormenting the Cetra girl through the shapeshifting powers of Jenova’s headless body had been a source of amusement for the silver-haired soldier, a man who rarely drew contentment from anything short of butchering those who stood in his way. The expressions flitting across her lovely face in rapid succession - fear, revulsion, humiliation - had brought him sadistic delight, awakening within him sensations that he had not allowed himself to feel in years. Since before Nibelheim.

Lust was one of those sensations, and it was one of the most powerful now sinking its claws into his psyche. He did not need his true body to tell him that the Cetra girl was attractive, and though the prospect of taking a mate had not occurred to Sephiroth until now, the very idea of coupling with inferior humans sickening to him, the girl who smelled of flowers was no more ordinary than he. They were two of the last three members of their race - Aerith and Sephiroth and Jenova, the last three Cetra - and he could hardly procreate with his mother.

The bloodline of the Ancients must be kept pure for the new world he would build when the old was gone.

He lusted for the girl, yes, but Sephiroth did not love her. In Aerith he saw a pretty face and a plaything and the potential for a mate, willing or unwilling. Nothing more.

It gave him great pleasure to bind her, to force kisses on her in the guises of her friends, to strip away her clothing and leave her delicate body exposed. Sephiroth was a creature of hatred, consumed by loathing for the human race and the desire to bring them all to ruin, and the spark of lust he felt for the flower girl was not near enough to soften the spite and malice that dwelt within his darkened heart. There was no love, no fondness, even for her, only the need to hurt and defile her in the name of the bloodline they shared. But not with this body... not with this fabrication of himself, constructed of his mother’s cells...

He manipulated his ghastly imitation of the big-breasted martial artist once again, guiding her hand to the leather bonds pinning Aerith’s arms at her sides, and began to call them back into union with himself.

~ ~ ~

The bands of leather constricting Aerith’s body began to squirm against her skin as the false Tifa’s fingers grazed their surface, an uncomfortable reminder that they were a part of Jenova’s living flesh.

The flower girl winced in renewed pain as the unearthly restraints churned feverishly against the furrows they had cut into her forearms... and then drew in a surprised breath as they loosened their iron grip on her arms and her thighs, shifting back into the stringy grey-and-red matter that they had always truly been. Disgustingly warm, they fortunately only remained in contact with her own flesh for a moment before they receded towards Tifa’s hand, slithering from Aerith’s body and merging from the form from which they had come.

Reunion.

No longer held tight against her hips by the strict leather bonds, the remnants of Aerith’s ruined dress fell to the ground around her feet. Her limbs now freed from their confinement, the blushing flower girl was swift to cover her breasts with one folded arm, her other hand darting to conceal her thin black panties as best she could now that she was almost completely exposed. She did not dare touch her gag, leaving the tank top tied between her lips to hold her jaw open and absorb her saliva, but her racing mind was searching for options. She wanted nothing more than to flee from here as fast as her legs would carry her, but the crushing reality was that even unbound, she was outclassed by the unholy meld of Sephiroth and Jenova in every single way.

Or was she...?

She did possess one thing that Sephiroth feared; the White Materia, still hidden inside her hair ribbon. Using it to summon Holy now was out of the question and it wouldn’t protect her even if she could, but perhaps it had another use that could serve her, one she hadn’t yet discovered. It was a desperate gambit, a clutching of straws, but the entire Planet and everyone living on it depended on Aerith reaching that altar.

Her hands flew to her ponytail and plucked hurriedly at the knot of her ribbon, frantically seeking the tiny white orb that might become her salvation. It took her a few moments to find it lodged deep inside her beloved hair decoration, moments that Sephiroth in Tifa’s guise spent merely watching her without a shred of concern, a fact that would have alarmed Aerith had she noticed in her haste. Instead, the flower girl let her ribbon flutter to the ground to join her dress and the tatters of her jacket and palmed the White Materia, holding it before her like a weapon. Planet, please give me strength!

Nothing happened.

No... no, please!

As Aerith wailed her despair into her thick gag, Tifa’s form began to shift, the naked body of the stunning bartender warping and twisting itself into something else. In a matter of seconds it was the fully clothed form of Sephiroth standing before the flower girl once again, his powerful body rumbling with icy laughter as the Cetra girl tried in vain to draw power from her trinket. The White Materia was powerful indeed, but it had only one purpose, and this was not it. It would offer Aerith no aid, no protection and no hope.

She let Sephiroth prise the White Materia from her hand, its glow vanishing from view as he slid it into a pocket next to the Black. It was useless to her now.

Her fear and disgust faded into the background, replaced by an all-consuming hollowness that made Aerith want to weep. She had failed in her mission, unable to stop her nemesis, and the Planet would suffer and likely die because of her failure. Nothing else mattered, least of all what would happen to her now.

“Sleep,” he commanded her, and she had not the will to refuse the call of the magic surging from within his profane body. Her eyelids closed over unfocused green, her senses leaving her as she slumped to the stone pathway beneath her feet.

Dark dreams awaited.

~ ~ ~

Even unconscious, the Cetra girl was an object of fascination for Sephiroth. Her beauty begged to be tarnished.

He would see to that, and so much more, once he had brought her to the Northern Crater. It was there, at the apex of the world, that his true body lay dormant and building in strength. The body of Jenova and its shapeshifting qualities had served him well of late, but even were he to use it to couple with the slumbering Cetra here and now, it would not give him what he desired most. Pleasure, yes, in many ways, but not a means to pass on his seed to her. His true body was necessary for that.

Their shared bloodline would be preserved while the rest of the Planet was laid to ruin.

Her denials of his heritage had angered him, but now they were simply cast aside. The girl knew nothing, her ignorance the cause of her accusations. Of course he was Cetra. Jenova was Cetra, therefore her son must also be Cetra. It was the only thing that made sense. The ramblings of a delusional child meant little.

He knelt beside the flower girl and pulled her unresisting body towards him, nestling her back against his chest. Her undergarments were torn from her hips and chest in a matter of moments, thrown into the pile of her shredded clothing, leaving her nude against him and rousing his lust. Perhaps Jenova had replicated his body too perfectly, Sephiroth considered as he felt his loins respond. Fortunately, turning off the desires of this malleable form was as easy as switching off a lamp.

Freed of such tawdry distractions, his mind turned to manipulating Jenova’s cells once more.

As he held the girl close, the surface of his form started to warp and twist and grow. Tendrils of flesh and blackness emerged from his broad chest, creeping over the girl’s body from behind and wrapping themselves tightly around her torso, pressing her arms into her back as they constricted around her. Their moist, lukewarm embrace would have disgusted her had she been awake, but while she slumbered they were free to wind their way over her stomach and breasts, securing her helplessness in bonds of roiling black. More strands of liquefied flesh parted from his form, clinging to the Cetra girl and sliding down her body, sickly wet sounds accompanying their languid descent.

As they curled around her ankles and thighs, pulling and binding them together under a sheath of tepid tissue, Sephiroth let his hand brush over the girl’s face, halting at the knotted cloth tied so tightly between her lips. It had not been strictly necessary to gag her, for her voice would do little to save her from him, but it pleased him to muffle her cries to silence and deny her even the right to speak.

Still, he could do better. The knotted tank top began to morph into something else at his command, the white cloth dissolving into murky crimson and then into solid black, growing larger and molding itself into another form entirely. Ropy tendrils rose from the morass and slowly wound themselves about the flower girl’s head, crisscrossing her face and tangling through her chestnut hair, gripping so tightly that she would have been unable to dislodge them even awake and with the aid of her hands. The knot within her mouth bulged in size, forcing her jaw open yet further and burrowing deeper inside, crushing her tongue beneath its now-smooth surface and filling every available crevice it could reach without suffocating her. Thick pads formed over her eyelids, pressing firm enough to keep them closed when she awakened. Threads of throbbing black wormed into her ear canals, blocking out all sound. Deaf, blind, silent.

His.

Soon she would come with him to the Northern Crater, and she would watch as cruel fate played out before her eyes. Soon he would take her with his own true body and make her his unwilling queen, the mother of the reborn Cetra race. First, however... there was one more thing to be done here in the ruined capital. One more indulgence to enjoy.

The puppet was here.

~ ~ ~

When Cloud entered the narrow pathway to the centre of the city, the martial artist and the red-furred beast at his back, Sephiroth was waiting for them.

So too was the flower girl.

It took the blond warrior little time to deduce what was happening, the black bonds encircling Aerith’s otherwise naked form and the shredded remains of her clothing on the ground telling him all that he needed to know. Less time was required to draw the massive sword from his back, his vibrant eyes ablaze with anger.

Sephiroth’s body shook with cold laughter, holding the Cetra girl close to his chest and using his magic to coax her from her slumber. He wanted her awake for the occasion.

“Let her go.” Cloud’s hands tightened around his sword, tensing in readiness to strike. It was an order.

Sephiroth ignored the command, adjusting his hold on the now conscious and struggling Aerith. Though much of the flower girl’s flesh was obscured by her living restraints, he had left certain regions of her body uncovered. Her buttocks, pressed firm against his crotch... the enticing, downy valley between her thighs... and the swells of her breasts, to which his hands now ventured for the benefit of the puppet and his friends.

He squeezed her tender flesh, harder and harder, making her thrash in his embrace and scream into her horrid gag. She was completely unaware of what was going on around her, her sight and hearing blocked, but she knew that she wanted it to stop... and Cloud and his friends were there to bear witness to her distress.

“She is mine now.” A savage smile crossed Sephiroth’s face as he drank in their rage and despair. One hand rose to grip Aerith’s throat, the other slowly wandering south from her breasts, sliding down her belly towards the chestnut curls of her sex. “Contemplate this in your final days. Goodbye... Cloud.”

Then, with a leap into the sky that defied all notion of gravity, Aerith and Sephiroth were gone.

Chapter Text

Aqua/Larxene, bondage, humiliation, non-con, torture

The moment she saw the blue-haired girl wandering the barren trails of the Realm of Darkness, Larxene knew that she would be fun.

It went without saying that there was something special about her if she could survive in the domain of the Heartless, but if Larxene was completely honest with herself, that wasn’t the reason that the girl had caught her attention. It wasn’t her obvious strength of heart or body, nor was it idle curiosity, or even the faint tingle at the edge of her consciousness that told her she was dealing with the bearer of a Keyblade.

No, if Larxene was totally honest with herself - and she always was - it was because the girl was hot.

Losing her heart had stripped most emotion from her, but Larxene had never lost her appreciation for the human form. This wayward girl was a fine example of it, slender and athletic, her body exhibited by tight black stockings and shorts and her curve-hugging chestpiece, offset by her flowing white sleeves and blue cloth draped about her hips. Steely cerulean eyes matched her neck-length hair, living up to the name that Larxene did not yet know, but would.

Right now, the Nobody had no idea who Aqua was or why she was here, but she knew more than enough to want her. Keyblade-wielder or not, the blue-haired girl was weary, alone and completely unaware of Larxene’s presence. She would be easy prey.

Electricity danced across the Savage Nymph’s hand, arcing and crackling between her black-gloved fingertips. Oh, she could take this little girl down in a fair fight, but that wasn’t the kind of physical exertion Larxene had in mind. Not when there were better things she could be doing with her time.

Her hand snapped into a fist, and lightning tore the air.

Aqua never saw it coming, of course. There were no acrobatic last-second cartwheels this time; the searing white bolt slammed into her from above, sending her to her knees with a strangled scream. Electricity flickered across the girl’s body as it had Larxene’s hand, but where it had merely caressed the Nobody’s gloved appendage, it surged through Aqua’s form in sparking, painful waves, draining her strength with every torturous crackle.

Once she might have been able to resist, but after a seeming eternity of wandering through the darkness, Aqua’s endurance had finally abandoned her. The last things she saw as she slumped to the ground and her consciousness ebbed were heeled black boots and a long black coat, and no clue as to who was wearing them.

~ ~ ~

If there was one good thing about Castle Oblivion, it was the sheer size of the vast white labyrinth within its walls.

Even with the Organisation of which Larxene was a part using the mysterious facility as a base, there was no shortage of hidden passageways and secret rooms that none of the others knew about. They had served as a sanctuary of sorts for Larxene, a place where she could go to blow off steam when one of the other members pissed her off - a frequent occurrence - but now they would have another use.

No-one’ll hear you scream down here.

Carelessly dumping the unconscious Aqua to the sterile grey floor of one such room, Larxene drifted across to the large chest against the far wall, reaching into one of her long black coat’s many pockets for the key. It would be fun to take her bad mood out on someone other than Namine for once... and unlike her, this was one toy that she could break without consequences.

~ ~ ~

The first sights that greeted the slowly awakening Aqua were of wide sea-green eyes and neat golden-blonde hair and a pair of soft lips set in the most evil semblance of a smile she had ever witnessed.

“Wakey wakey, little lady.”

Watching the kaleidoscope of expressions that played across the girl’s pretty features as she snapped back to awareness, from drowsiness to confusion to wide-eyed panic, sent a delightful thrill down Larxene’s spine. Such sensations were supposed to be beyond a Nobody - the emotionless shell left behind when a person loses their heart - but there were still some things that stirred the ghosts of feelings inside of her.

Fear and pain on the face of a helpless victim was one of those things.

Not that Larxene could see much of Aqua’s face just now. Everything from the blue-haired girl’s nose to the very tip of her chin was snugly covered by a thick black panel, the solid leather held tight against her mouth by a multitude of straps that hugged her cheeks and nose and jaw before uniting behind her head in a maze of silver buckles. The harness fitted her perfectly, and the stifled whine from behind it told Larxene that the Keyblade-wielder had discovered the large rubber ball on the inside, filling her mouth to the brim.

She suppressed the urge to giggle out loud as Aqua, now very wide awake, began to squirm about on the floor like a fish thrashing about on a riverbank. The poor thing hadn’t yet figured out why her arms were locked behind her back, why her legs wouldn’t part and why her breasts felt like they were being squeezed out of her top.

The answer to all three questions was ‘rope’.

Maybe she had gone a little crazy with it, Larxene admitted to herself, but that was really the girl’s own fault. After stripping away the then-unconscious young woman’s shoes and sleeves and her bizarre little skirt and the pink belts she had worn over her distractingly impressive boobs, there hadn’t really been a whole lot to her weird little costume, and lust had only served to make the Nobody all the crueler.

It showed in the trails she had woven around Aqua’s body while she slept, from the ropes she had wrapped around the girl’s thighs and knees and shins and ankles to the ludicrous network of rope she had fashioned around her upper body, pinning her upper arms against her back and clutching at her breasts hard enough to force them outward. Her wrists had been drawn halfway up her back and tied in an awkward cross, keeping her fingers away from the knots and her arm muscles suitably strained. Almost none of it was necessary to keep her under control, but tying her up had almost been as fun as watching her futilely try to escape.

She peered down at her squirming little toy, a twisted smirk on her rosy lips and a chilling gleam in her wide green eyes. “I’ll bet you’re wondering what’s going on, hmm?”

Aqua ceased her struggles, rolling onto her side and shooting a furious glare up at her gleeful tormentor. The fear that Larxene had so enjoyed was gone from the blue-haired girl’s face, but her anger was just as delicious.

Ignoring the slobbering grunts issuing from beyond the harness - though she could easily guess what Aqua was trying to say - the Nobody stooped and extended a gloved hand to caress the side of her captive’s face, chuckling as she tried to shy away. “Now, now, don’t be difficult. I’ll tell you what you need to know, so listen up, got it?”

She didn’t wait for an answer before planting the sole of her heavy black boot against the side of Aqua’s face and slamming her head into the floor.

“My name is Larxene.” The tone of her voice didn’t change as her captive began to thrash her body about, only to sag in defeat as she found no way to dislodge the Nobody’s foot. “We’re in a safe place... well, there aren’t any Heartless here, anyway. I brought you here because... well...”

The boot lifted from Aqua’s face, only for the rock-hard toe to nudge at her shoulder, flipping her onto her back. Before she had the chance to adjust to her new position, Larxene was upon her, straddling her body with her own, locking her thighs over the Keyblade master’s hips and dropping her forearm onto Aqua’s throat, pressing down just enough to intimidate her without cutting off her airway.

“Because you’re far too pretty, and I’ve decided to do awful things to you.”

Goodbye anger, welcome back panic. There was no getting away from the evil nymph on top of her, but primal fear made her struggle anyway, writhing beneath Larxene in fruitless hopes of bucking her off. Her terror was sweet enough to make the Nobody lick her lips, which in turn only agitated the poor girl even more, fueling a delicious cycle.

Did she have any idea just what was coming? Did her fear come from awareness of what Larxene was going to do to her, or was she too inexperienced to know? She was tempted to ask, but that would require the removal of the gag from Aqua’s mouth, and an end to the muffled cries that were turning the Nobody on so nicely. That simply wouldn’t do.

Instead, she would provide the girl with a hint. Slipping off her leather gloves and placing them neatly on the floor, Larxene reached down to Aqua’s heaving chest and placed her fingertips on her collarbone, tracing against it through the smooth, thin, tight fabric of her clothing. Cerulean eyes stared up at her in confusion, not understanding what her captor was trying to do but clearly not liking it very much, and the blue-haired maiden shifted in discomfort as the probing digits began to trail down her body, sliding down her breastbone all the way to...

Her eyes flew wide as those hands palmed her breasts, shamelessly groping flesh already tortured into sensitivity by the constricting ropes. Her shriek of protest, stifled to a watery bleat by the rubber ball filling her mouth, was music to Larxene’s ears. She really wasn’t liking being touched like this, but that only made the Nobody want to all the more, and she delighted in rolling her palms against the girl’s ballooning mounds, squashing them back into her chest and letting them pop back out again.

Aqua’s cheeks flushed pink as the lovely sadist continued to molest her, her breaths coming in gasping snatches through her nostrils, her cries fading into discontented moans. Her struggles grew weaker, her eyelids drooping halfway; against her will she was starting to take some pleasure from this, even if her mind wasn’t as happy to accept it as her body.

The moment that Larxene sensed that the girl was enjoying it more than she hated it, she stopped.

Aqua only just stopped herself from whining out loud. Mortified that she had taken even the slightest enjoyment from that, she turned her head away from her molester, her cheeks burning in humiliation behind the leather harness. She couldn’t find any way to get out of this, but that didn’t mean she had to give in...

Satisfied with Aqua’s discomfort, Larxene raised her hand in front of herself and willed her weapon to appear. A brief flash of light later, one of her trademark gold-and-blue daggers rested between her fingers, long and incredibly sharp.

“You might want to hold still,” she cautioned, passing the blade in front of Aqua’s face before guiding the tip to the front of the girl’s strange outfit. Her response was to go completely rigid, not from fright, but from grim understanding of what Larxene intended and what would happen if she made any sudden moves.

How could this be her first human contact in... in however long she had spent in the Realm of Darkness? This sordid, evil creature? She had hoped for one of her friends, or somebody who could help her find her bearings, or at least somebody with a single shred of decency...

The only decency that Larxene cared about was Aqua’s, and how to rid her of it.

The fabric of Aqua’s bodice had seemed strong to the touch, but the Nobody’s keen knife cut through it with ease. Slicing around the ropes without nicking them proved tricky, but Larxene’s skill was equal to the task, and it didn’t take her long to tear wide circles through the close-fitting cloth, ripping them aside and exposing Aqua’s breasts to the world.

The resentful whine alone made her efforts worth it, and Larxene somehow found the will to drag her hungry stare from the Keyblade master’s ample chest to her face. Aqua lay completely still, her eyes squeezed shut, her mortified blush spreading further across her face as her nipples rose to greet the cold air and oh, she was looking at Aqua’s breasts again already, but it didn’t matter because the blue-haired girl’s degradation was turning Larxene onso hard that a haze of lust was consuming all of her other thoughts.

Screw emotions. This was all she really needed.

She ducked her head and captured one rosy nipple between her lips, plucking at it with her teeth, teasing it upright with a series of wet, slobbery sucks to the melody of Aqua’s increasingly heated moans of protest. Paying them no mind, she released the stiffening bud and planted a swift kiss against it, then turned her attention to its twin, bringing the flat edge of her golden knife against it and running it back and forth. “Don’t pretend you’re not having fun...”

One bright blue eye cracked open, sending a tear trickling down the girl’s leather-bound cheek.

“Hmph.” Feigning disappointment when all she felt was triumph, the blonde woman stood, wiping saliva from her blooming smirk. The knife disappeared in a flash as quickly as it had come, and she turned away with a sweep of her black coat, stepping towards the chest at the side of the room. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure at least one of us gets some fun out of this...”

A swooshing sound and a metallic clank made her stop cold.

A frown developing on her face, she turned around to find Aqua fumbling with a Keyblade with her bound hands. It was a far more powerful weapon than Larxene’s knives, and the Nobody’s magical dismissal of her own blade may have inspired Aqua to call her own, but it did her no good with her arms so tightly crossed behind her back. She could grasp it, but could do nothing more than clumsily flick it about, and seizing her from it was child’s play for Larxene. “Gimme that.”

Perhaps it if had been her own Keyblade, Aqua might have called it right back into her hand for all the good it would have done, but it wasn’t. It seemed that she didn’t have quite the same connection with her fallen Master’s weapon than she had with her own, and she was forced to look on as Larxene turned the blade over and over in her hands, examining it closely before becoming bored with it and noisily tossing it aside. “And just what were you going to do with that?”

“Mrrrrph...” Frustrated and more aroused than she cared to admit, Aqua let herself fall back to the floor, wincing as her straining arms took the brunt of the impact. To her shame, she could feel saliva welling up inside of her mouth, threatening to seep through her wide-stretched lips, and for once she was grateful for the wide leather panel covering her lower face. She could already hear Larxene’s taunting laughter in her head, reveling in her captive’s lack of control.

She could hear the Nobody rummaging through items in that mysterious chest of hers, but couldn’t bring herself to look. It was probably better that she didn’t know, and the less time she spent dwelling on her fate, the more she had to figure out how to get out of this mess...

~ ~ ~

By the time her captor returned, Aqua had nothing.

The same was definitely not true of Larxene. Exactly what she had found in the box was impossible to tell with the blonde woman’s hands stubbornly closed around it, but the sadistic little smile on her face and the cruel glee in her green-blue eyes told Aqua that it was nothing good.

She was barely given a glimpse of the tiny metal cups before one of the pair was pressed over her still-damp nipple, concealing her areola behind a flattened dome of gleaming silver. It was fiercely cold to the touch, stealing away the warmth that Larxene’s tongue had left behind, concealing her stiff little bud beneath its little shield. What was the point? Was this supposed to hurt her?

The swift, painful snap of the jaws inside the device answered that question for her.

She screamed. Howled. Tried desperately to shake the horrid thing off, twisting and thrashing about like crazy as she willed herself to adjust to the agonising pinch as quickly as possible. Nothing worked. The inner jaws of the minuscule cup were flat rather than toothed, but they bit into her over-stimulated nipple too firmly for her to escape, staying with her no matter which way she turned or how hard her breasts bounced.

She had subconsciously known that the other one was coming and felt the metal edges cupping her nipple in preparation, but it still came as a shock to her body as the other dome’s mean little jaws clamped shut around it. More pain. More shrieks of torment. Through it all, the malicious giggles of the one who had done this to her, loving every tear and shudder.

Larxene waited until the Keyblade master’s voice had subsided to a whimper and her breathing had begun to slow down before she made her next move. Her hands swept behind Aqua’s head and, to the girl’s surprise, began to unfasten the buckles that crisscrossed her soft blue hair. One, then another, then a third beneath her chin, and then a jolt of movement from the ball wedging her mouth open as it withdrew from behind her teeth and lips, soaking wet and trailing streaks of drool. “Got something to say?”

“Take them off... please...” Aqua barely took the time to flex her newly-liberated jaw before speaking, so urgent was her need to be rid of the nasty little things still clinging fast to her breasts. The pain in her nipples interfered with her every thought, demanding her constant attention, distracting her from the other feelings she had longed to put into words. “I can’t-”

“What, these?” Larxene’s lips twisted upward in a poor imitation of a smile, and she reached over and flicked the metallic dome clamped over her toy’s right breast.

The impact was small, but the reaction was not. This time there was nothing to muffle Aqua’s cry, and she squealed her agony at the ceiling, unable to stop herself, barely realizing she was sobbing as the pain belatedly dulled.

“Sorry, but those are staying right where they are.” The spit-drenched harness gag disappeared into one of the pockets of Larxene’s long black coat, only to be replaced by something wide and flat that Aqua didn’t immediately understand. “I hope you don’t think I’m going to run out of toys anytime soon.”

“What do you want?!” The panic in Aqua’s voice sent a throb of pleasure through Larxene’s lower body. “I don’t know who you are, but you have to let me go! There are really important things-”

“I don’t care.” Larxene dropped to her knees again, brushing off the girl’s heartfelt plea as if it were a mote of dust alighting on her shoulder. Her hand descended, her pointer finger lingering for a long moment millimeters from one of the tiny domed clamps as if she meant to tap on it, before evidently changing her mind. “So you’ve got places you need to be. Boo hoo. If you’re hoping to play for sympathy, try it on somebody who has a heart, okay?”

Aqua froze, barely even noticing Larxene’s fingers ghosting down her stomach towards her shorts. No heart? Was... was that where the terrible feeling she got from the blonde woman was coming from?

“I thought that might shut you up.” With a wink of white light, the Nobody’s familiar golden knife appeared in her hand once again. This time, though, there was no warning before the sharp little blade began to slice through fabric, cutting its way up the side of Aqua’s tight black shorts from the leg towards the waistband. “Don’t worry, I’ll let you keep the stockings.”

What are you doing?!” Torn between terror and outrage but too wary of the knife to struggle, Aqua resorted to a hateful glare to communicate her fury, hot tears brimming in her eyes. There was no other option left to her. Even if the blade had not been a threat, her legs were bound too tightly and in too many places to offer more resistance than an ineffectual, easily avoided two-footed kick, and her wrists...

She wriggled her arms against the ropes binding them to her back, moving only the top half of her body while her legs remained as still as tone, but her only rewards were jabs of pains along her already aching biceps and savage twinges through her cruelly-clamped breasts as they bounced along with her movements.

That was a mistake, she chided herself, biting her lip as Larxene finished tearing her way through the other leg of the Keyblade wielder’s shorts and gave the front of the waistband a swift tug, snatching the shredded garment from between Aqua’s thighs and tossing it aside without a care. The panties she wore beneath were simple and functional, a few shades lighter blue than her eyes and hair, but she had been wearing them for so long that Larxene’s curious stare was enough to make the girl cringe in shame. It wasn’t as if there had been a change of underwear available in the Realm of Darkness.

“Huh.” An experimental poke at her crotch made Aqua yelp and scoot away, but Larxene was quick to follow, her vibrant eyes gleefully judging, her nose wrinkled in pretend disgust. “Not big on personal hygiene, huh? You’re not going to enjoy having those shoved in your mouth, then.”

“In my...?” Aqua’s face twisted. “Y-you’re not serious...”

“You can have mine if you prefer.” Larxene’s smile looked fit to split her face. “They might be a little damp right now, but at least they’ve been washed in the last year. Then again, maybe I can fit them both in there...”

Without warning, the Nobody snatched at Aqua’s shoulders and flipped the blue-haired girl onto her stomach, giggling as the dome-like nipple clamps smacked against the floor and made Aqua howl in torment. Strong hands lifted the Keyblade master’s thighs over Larxene’s knee, lewdly propping her butt in the air, a stray hand caressing the curves of her buttocks through the thin fabric of her panties.

“But right now, I’d rather hear you scream.”

A swoosh cut through the air, terminating in a thunderous THWACK.

Aqua’s eyes shot open, her whole body jerking from the impact of paddle on flesh. She’d given no more thought to the flat, wide thing that Larxene had taken from her pocket earlier, but the few dreadful seconds before the pain blossomed throughout her rear were long enough for her to figure out what it was.

The second blow landed before she had time to respond, laid across the very same spot with perfect accuracy, and this time the burning sensation was instantaneous. Aqua grunted in dismay, biting down on her lip, her mind whirling as she tried to think of a way out of this. Surely this-

THWACK.

It hurt. Worse and worse every time. She couldn’t think straight like-

THWACK.

She wouldn’t cry. She wouldn’t give in. She was stronger-

THWACK.

Her shuddering sob echoed throughout the vast, empty room.

THWACK. THWACK.

There was no more holding it in. Every new blow tore a howl or a yelp from Aqua’s lips, sending her bucking against Larxene’s knees, her buttocks seared as red as her mortified face. Again and again her breasts smacked the floor, sending piercing shards of pain through her tightly clamped nipples, the harsh metallic clinks lost among whimpers and laughter.

By the time the last, resounding thwack rained down, the Keyblade master was a mess of tears and sweat, breathing in shaking gasps, staring at the floor beneath with glassy eyes. It took several moments for it to dawn on her that it was finally over, but her rear continued to throb as if Larxene were still flailing away, the pain coming in blazing pulses.

It felt like she would not be able to sit for at least a month, but when Larxene dumped her back onto the floor, the Nobody naturally made sure to drop her onto her back.

At least the floor was soothingly cool, after the initial shock of impact.

“You’ve had your f-fun,” she managed to choke out when she had finally recovered her breath. “Please let me go. There are people who need me out there. I have to-”

“Already told you I don’t care,” Larxene said flatly, one finger trailing its way from Aqua’s crotch back up to her breasts. The blue-haired girl no longer had the energy to shy away as the Nobody’s digits closed around the nasty little clamps, her thumbs stroking over the domed surfaces and rubbing them in circles. “You’re staying right here,” she murmured over her captive’s whining groans, those vibrant sea-green eyes narrowed possessively. “I’ve got a lot of frustrations that need taking out on someone, and everyone in this stupid freaking castle whines if I play with the little blondie too much, so you’re it.”

Without warning, the jaws inside the tiny domes snapped open, freeing Aqua’s sore nipples from their terrible bite, but Aqua barely reacted. Even the rush of blood back into her tortured nubs didn’t sting enough to distract her from what she had just heard.

Castle?

Her gaze drifted to the sterile ceiling, taking in the stark white patterns above for the first time since she had been brought here.

...What?!

How had she not seen it before? There was no shortage of castles throughout the many worlds, but none that Aqua had seen had looked anything like this... except one.

Castle Oblivion, the world that had once been her home.

She had been the one to make it this way. She had locked the world in this state to protect it, and to protect the one she had left behind here. She knew every corner and crevice of the sprawling labyrinth, its vast layout burned into her mind the moment she had used her master’s Keyblade to transform her home into the land that had become her prison.

She could get out of here easily. She could escape from this psychopath and her allies and set out on her journey the moment she was out of these ropes. In a fair fight, she was even sure that she could take down the cruel blonde now staring down at her in annoyance at her lack of screams, and right now the Keyblade master wanted nothing more.

All she had to do was escape her ropes. Somehow.

She had struggled and squirmed in vain for long enough to know that it wasn’t possible now - the bright red marks the ropes had rubbed into her arms were painful proof of that - but her chance would come. It had to, even if she needed to wait until the sadistic Nobody untied her just so she could tie her up again.

It was just a matter of endurance, and that was something at which Aqua had a great deal of practice.

“Are you even listening to me?!” Larxene’s voice broke into her awareness, and Aqua reluctantly returned her gaze to her captor, bracing herself for a new wave of discomfort. The blonde girl was staring down at her, her face frozen in a slighted mask but her eyes gleaming with the desire to punish. “Did you hear a word I said?”

“I think I got the gist of it.” Aqua hadn’t heard a syllable, distracted by the revelation of just where she had found herself, but she could imagine what Larxene had said. It wasn’t difficult to guess.

“Hmph. Whatever.” Larxene scowled, but didn’t press the issue. Had she bought it? The Nobody was giving nothing away, but Aqua had a sneaking suspicion that it didn’t really matter.

Either way, Larxene would do as she pleased.

“Hold still and behave yourself.”Again Aqua felt herself being flipped over, and she winced as her still-tender breasts smacked against the floor, stifling a cry as a sudden weight against her back mashed her sore, abused nipples harder into the frigid stone. She could feel Larxene’s thighs against her buttocks and knew the Nobody had seated herself atop her, pinning her down, her hands delving into the mass of ropes gathered around the Keyblade master’s back. “I’m going to untie you for a bit, but don’t get any ideas. You remember that little electric shock back in the Realm of Darkness? Yeah. That was me.”

Of course Aqua remembered the ambush that had brought her here. The blast of lightning had seemed to come from nowhere, overwhelming her and robbing her of her senses before she had a chance to fight back, but then she had been unaware and completely exhausted, almost fit to collapse even before Larxene had struck.

Now, despite the countless aches afire all over her half-naked body and the humiliation that threatened to crush her spirit, she was ready to make her move the instant she was free. She had taken far worse than a little electricity in a fair fight and lived to tell the tale. She could handle the likes of Larxene... if she could get her hands on her master’s Keyblade.

The weapon lay several feet away, discarded on the floor, within Aqua’s sight but just out of her reach. With Larxene on top of her like this the Keyblade may as well have been in another world, but the moment the blonde-haired sadist shifted her weight off of her...

If her bindings had been loosened enough, and if Aqua’s aching limbs responded as they should, and if Larxene didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late... maybe she could pull this off.

The ropes around her arms and breasts began to slacken, and her body tensed for action. This was it. This was her shot.

Maybe.

---------------

Author's note: That is where the story initially concluded, but I was asked to continue it later, and I did. One chapter doesn't lead straight into the next, though; there's a timeskip, and it's fair to assume that Aqua's escape attempt above didn't work out. This was written eight months after the previous part.

---------------

Boring.

Black boots slapped against the stark white floor.

So friggin' boring.

Larxene was sullenly silent as she stalked the ivory halls of Castle Oblivion's depths, her black coat whirling around her, but within the blonde-haired Nobody swirled a violent storm of bottled-up resentment. It was the closest thing to emotion that she could ever remember feeling, the unpleasant sensation stirring her deceptively lovely face into a savage mask, filling her green-blue eyes with contempt for the world around her. She was a fuming, furious blot on her clinically pristine surroundings, like a thundercloud about to erupt.

That's it, I'm skipping the next meeting. All of the meetings. If Marluxia doesn't like it, he can go suck off a Darkside.

She had better things to do than listen to her tiresome comrades arguing endlessly about things she didn't care about in the first place. Not that there were a great many other things for her to occupy her mind with here - as long as she was forced to restrict her interactions with the girl Namine to mere verbal and mental torments - but for all the secrets that Castle Oblivion held within its inscrutable maze, there was one that was known to Larxene alone.

A secret which was particularly useful for taking foul moods out upon.

~ ~ ~

Unsurprisingly, Aqua was exactly where Larxene had left her.

Of course, she could hardly have gone anywhere else in the sadistic Nobody's absence. The thick white manacles locked around the fallen keyblade master's wrists had seen to that, keeping the blue-haired girl's arms securely anchored to the wall high above her head. The heavy ivory chains were too short for her to stoop or to sit, ensuring that she remained on her feet no matter how she twisted and turned, and Larxene was satisfied to see that she was no longer attempting either. The hours of restraint had taught her plaything well.

The warrior maiden looked up as she heard the Nobody's approaching footsteps, her azure eyes hardening above the black leather muzzle clutched around the lower half of her face. She was hurt, humiliated, frightened, but she was not beaten. Not by a long shot.

Larxene wouldn't have had it any other way.

Coming to a stop in front of her shackled guest, she took her time in looking her up and down, those unsettlingly vibrant eyes studying every detail of Aqua's stark naked body from her feet to her tightly-clamped thighs to her steadily heaving breasts. The long, lascivious stare was more for Aqua's discomfort than any real interest of her own - one didn't need a heart to appreciate the girl's athletic, well-endowed form, but Larxene had already seen all there was to see of her captive keyblade master, every curve and crevice of her learned by sight and touch and taste. No, Larxene's amusement now came primarily from the fierce blush upon what little she could see of Aqua's cheeks, from the embarrassment and outrage gleaming in the girl's bright blue eyes and the way she squirmed under her captor's greedy glare. She did not like being looked at like this.

Still, delicious though it was, Aqua's silent mortification could only amuse Larxene for so long. The Nobody's foul mood continued to chew away at her, demanding appeasement, and there was only one thing that would satisfy it.

Her hand lifted, lightning crackled, and the keyblade master went limp in her chains with a strangled scream.

~ ~ ~

The first thing Aqua felt when she awoke was the tightness.

Something was pressing down on her. In on her. All around her. Gripping her body from neck to toe. Squeezing and clinging to her skin so tightly that it may have been an additional layer. Unrelenting and strangely warm.

Her eyes snapped open and found nothing but the dark.

The scrape of leather against her eyelids confirmed the familiar presence of a blindfold, and one by one, with a warrior's presence of mind, she began to register the maze of uncomfortable sensations that formed her new reality. She was flat on her back, a cold, smooth surface beneath her. Straps of some kind clutched at her wrists, pinning them over her head. Her ankles were spread wide, held apart by more of the same. She was immobilized, again, powerless to fight back against the woman who had tormented her for days on end.

She was becoming far too good at identifying restraints by touch alone.

This time at least there was nothing inside her mouth, a welcome change from the disgustingly phallic protrusion her jaw had earlier been made to nurse, but this tiny freedom was of little comfort. Her tongue had won her no favors thus far, and it was hardly going to help her escape. Instead, she played it about the inside of her mouth, wetting the dryness away as she strained her wrists against the straps. The movement, meaningless though it was, distracted her from the writhing fear running riot throughout her innards-

"Rise and shine, bitch."

~ ~ ~

The way Aqua went rigid at the sound of Larxene's voice sent a tingle down the Nobody's spine that no electricity could rival.

It's times like this I could almost believe I have feelings.

The restraints she had placed the girl in were nothing special - leather straps and metal beds weren't hard to come by when sharing a castle with the likes of Vexen - but the suit she had painstakingly dressed the unconscious Aqua in had been a little harder to acquire. Even so, the investment had already been oh-so-worth it; the blue latex catsuit gripped Aqua's body so closely it might have been painted on, confining her shapely form in a shiny, luridly tight prison. The outfit left very little to the imagination, cupping the girl's intimate areas like a lover, the hard buds of her nipples proudly protruding against the smooth material.

It wasn't quite as revealing as complete nudity, of course, but clothing Aqua in the skintight catsuit was even more satisfying to Larxene than the act of stripping her naked had been. Taking her clothes away had been a delicious humiliation, but making her wear the latex suit was an enforcement of her will upon every inch of the woman who had become her toy, encompassing her body from the tips of her toes to the base of her jaw and leaving nothing below her head unmolested, as if Larxene's own hands were everywhere at once, squeezing and groping.

I'll make sure you never forget who you belong to.

"I am in a really fucking bad mood," she growled, the anger in her tone keeping Aqua nice and tense. Well, her mood was improving by the second, but whatever. She could keep the fire of hate burning inside her for as long as she wanted. Jabbing a finger into the girl's blue-sheathed stomach - keeping her hands off of Aqua proved a challenge she couldn't surmount - Larxene slowly drew her fingertip up along her latex-clad body, passing over the lower reaches of the keyblade master's ribcage and up the gentle curve of her left breast, smirking as her soft pink lips opened around a trembling gasp. She might have been trying to resist the urge to react, but the black leather blindfold strapped over her eyes kept her guessing, permanently on edge, subverting her defiance with a constant air of fear.

"How l-l-long are you going to k-keep me here?" Finally Aqua spoke, her voice rising and falling and crumbling in time with Larxene's eager digs against her nipple, breathless and afraid but determined all the same. Even after all of the humiliation and the torment, Aqua possessed a backbone of steel that would endure even if all else were burnt away. "Haven't you... had your fun already?"

It was probably for the better that Aqua couldn't see the shark-like grin spreading across Larxene's deceptively lovely features.

"You're staying until I get sick of you," she hissed, her fingers fanning around the blue-haired girl's breast and giving it a violent squeeze through the clinging latex. "And right now I think I can still squeeze some more entertainment out of you, so you're not going anywhere."

Aqua sucked in a stricken breath as the death grip tightened around her breast, willing herself not to cry out. She hadn't expected Larxene to be gentle, but the sudden crushing grip caught her off-guard, the thin but persistent latex only amplifying the sensation. Her hands curled themselves into defiant fists, her teeth grinding as Larxene softened her grip, only to sink her claws even deeper, the heel of the Nobody's hand pushing roughly against Aqua's mound. Hurting her. Stimulating her.

Her resentful grunt only encouraged Larxene's other hand to the party, her free palm closing around the warrior's free breast and subjecting it to the same grinding treatment, pushing, molding, rubbing, mashing. Sadistic delight danced across the blonde woman's face as her victim slowly cracked, then gave in and released a fractured moan, tilting her head away as if she could deny the discomfort and the unwanted thrill. "S-Stop it!"

"Oh, you want me to stop?" Alight with malicious, borderline-psychotic glee, Larxene cupped Aqua's breasts from each side and pressed them together, rubbing them back and forth, fingertips digging deep against the brilliant blue latex stretched across them. "That's not the impression I'm getting. Might be a little more convincing if you stopped moaning for it-"

"Get off me! GET OFF!"

There hadn't been anything ambiguous about Aqua's first demand, despite what Larxene had implied, but the raw vehemence of this second outburst actually made the Nobody pause, her molesting hands making a temporary retreat. The girl was thrashing against her bonds with a molten fury Larxene had never seen from her, desperate and livid, her muscles tense as iron rods, her jaw clenched tight around a frustrated scream. Who would have thought toying with those knockers would get such a rise out of you?

There had never been a chance of Aqua actually breaking free - the leather straps at her wrists and ankles were far too secure for that - but her violent, vigorous resistance made Larxene wonder if she might pull off the impossible. Legs kicked, arms twisted, the blue-haired girl's toned body lifting from the cold white bed beneath her with the force of her struggles, and for the first time Larxene bore witness to the strength she might have faced in battle had she not chosen to ambush Aqua instead.

In the depths of the void where her heart might have been, Larxene had to admit that she had dodged a bullet, but that only made dominating her all the more gratifying.

In the end, Aqua's desperation ended the only way it could have; with a broken, shuddering gasp and a defeated, miserable slump. "Haven't you done enough?" she choked out, the catch in her voice a confession of defeat.

Yes, she was beaten, for now, but the wild energy inside of her hadn't dwindled even if her struggles had ceased. Strapped down and blindfolded, tarted up in skin-hugging latex, Aqua was a warrior still, and Larxene could sense the steely blue glare behind the thick leather spread over the younger woman's eyes, even if she couldn't see it. She would have to be very careful with this one.

Then again, poking the feral animals had always been fun, too.

"Finished your little tantrum?" Her hand dipped to Aqua's chest, snatching at a nipple and giving it a sudden, savage pinch that made even the resolute warrior squeal. "I left that mouth empty-" because I wanted to hear you scream "-because I was feeling nice, but if you're just going to whine at me like a bitch, I'm sure I can find something to shove in it. Is that what you want?"

"...Nnn."

"I beg your pardon?" Larxene's open palm fell like a hammer, delivering a vicious slap to the swell of Aqua's breast. The resounding smack of flesh against latex cracked through the air like a whip, blotting out the blue-haired girl's startled yelp of protest. "I asked you a question," the Nobody snarled, "and you're going to answer me properly. Do I need to gag you or not?"

Aqua's response was bitter, lifeless. "What difference does it make?"

Wow, you're catching on. If there had been any way for Aqua to talk her way out of this, or anyone who might come to her rescue if they heard her voice, Larxene would never have removed her gag in the first place. Still, the callous blonde had been hoping for a feisty comeback, not this sullen surrender, and she set her lips in a grimace, fighting off the urge to shake a response out of her tightly restrained plaything. If Aqua had seriously given up already, she was in danger of becoming boring.

You don't want to be a boring toy. Trust me.

"Ungrateful bitch." Her hand lashed out again, a brutal, stinging swat cracking across the generous swells of the girl's latex-gripped chest. She had expected a similar yelp, even louder, but this time the only reactions from Aqua were a wordless flinch and a soft groan through tight-clenched teeth.

This was going to take some effort. Larxene's hand shot out once more, raining down from above, dealing an even more brutal slap to Aqua's left breast, then her right, then left again, her lovely face set in the angry righteousness of the tantrum-throwing child she had accused her victim of being. Crack, crack, CRACK went her palm, the violent sounds adding as much impact to the every blow as the force of the swing itself, but again Aqua stubbornly resisted, holding back her cries of pain even if the tension in her body and the tight fists above her head betrayed her increasing discomfort.

The fourth, clipping across both breasts in a sharp, swift arc, tore a jagged whimper from the blue-haired maiden's throat at last, and Larxene decided that that was victory enough.

"If you're not going to be any fun, I'm not taking it easy on you." She stalked around the metal bed, her coat fluttering in her wake, her vivid eyes studying Aqua for any hint of the trembling she lusted for. Larxene wanted the warrior afraid, defiant but scared of her, resistant but not so much so that her punishments felt as if they were being wasted on a doll. It was a very specific state of mind she desired in her pet, and keeping Aqua just in the right zone for Larxene's tastes was a delicate balancing act.

Then again, there was something to be said for driving her right over the edge and making her beg for mercy.

At the opposite end of the bed stood a small table, the same sterile white as everything else in the godforsaken castle, and it was to this table that Larxene's hand drifted, her fingers tracing over the collection of items arrayed there in startling reds and purples and pinks. Toys. Her collection, the ones she had always wanted to use on that annoying Namine and never been allowed to. Metal, leather, rubber, molded into shapes that would have made Aqua cringe if she could see them. Maybe she should.

One hand snatched Aqua's blindfold away, revealing tired blue eyes that squinted against the sudden glare, while the other closed around a collection of leather straps, dyed a striking purple, and lifted them over the girl's head. "If you really don't care what goes in your mouth, I'm happy to see what'll fit. Open wide."

The stiff rubber phallus dangling from the bundle of straps, pallid pink and gnarled with veiny ridges, was enough to convince Aqua to shut her lips tight.

A derisive smile from the Nobody. "Really?" She shook her head, the rounded tip of the phallic protrusion pushing up against Aqua's lips, seeking entry. "There's only one way this is going to end. How mad do you want to make me?"

Despite her warning, Larxene privately hoped that Aqua continued her resistance, and she wasn't disappointed. The girl's eyes narrowed into hateful slits, a humiliated flush in her cheeks as she tried to twist her head away from the lewd pink device, only to find her chin roughly tipped back into place and the phallus at her mouth once again. The pressure grew more insistent, harder to resist, threatening to grind into Aqua's teeth through her tightly-clamped lips...

Then, with one final push, the gates gave way. The knobbly bulge rammed deep into Aqua's mouth, straddling her tongue and plunging to the back of her throat, triggering a choking, retching sound and a reflexive convulsion through her tightly restrained body. Even strong, resilient Aqua was a slave to her tender gag reflex, and Larxene took pleasure in testing it, making her throat spasm around the lurid toy, tightening the purple straps around the girl's head to defy her body's instinctive rejection of its obscene pink girth. Stinging tears sparkled in the corners of her eyes, but the gag held fast against her vain attempts to dislodge it, the panel and harness holding it inside and forcing her to endure its presence.

"You don't look like you're enjoying it very much." There was exactly as much sympathy as one would expect on Larxene's face as she watched Aqua adjust, her throat twitching, her nose snorting in air as she tried to breathe around the rubber protrusion. "That's not even the biggest one I own. Consider it training for a lifetime of sucking on strange things, slut."

The cruel words just seemed to fall from her tongue, her brain buzzing with sadistic, spiteful joy as she watched Aqua flinch in shame. This was what she had been missing, forced to play nice with Namine and the other members of the Organization for so damn long. She had been deprived of someone to take out the worst of her impulses on, someone who couldn't fight back, someone who had no chain of command or protectors to whine to and no way to get her into trouble with somebody stronger than her, and repressing her destructive instincts had been hell.

Now, she felt alive again. Aqua was hers, her toy, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. No-one could take her away.

"Don't just lie there. I want to hear you sucking." Perhaps she should have been ashamed of kicking the girl while she was down, but Larxene wasn't in this for the sport. Gleeful delight warped her face as she drank in the anguish in Aqua's eyes, enjoying the keyblade master's miserable awareness that her choices were limited to pain and obedience. "Or do I need to light you up?"

The faint spark of electricity crackling along Larxene's fingers was all the encouragement the blue-haired girl needed to do as she was told.

Slowly at first, with utmost reluctance and no small amount of self-loathing, Aqua began to suck on the stiff rubber phallus, struggling not to choke on the intruder as her gag reflex threatened to flare up anew. She worked her mouth against it as best she could, her throat pulsing with the effort, the purple panel that covered her lips moving gently in time with her clumsy attempts. Her eyelids fluttered shut, blocking out the leering woman standing over her, but there was nothing she could do about the gnarled texture and harsh rubbery taste against her tongue, the oppressive girth reminding her what she was doing no matter how hard she tried to drift into autopilot.

"Keep going." Larxene's fingers wandered into Aqua's soft hair, brushing, teasing, playing at fondness. The tensing of her brow made plain how little the warrior appreciated the attention, but there was nothing she could do about it except endure and hope that her tormentor tired of her soon. "Don't you stop until I tell you to," the vixen hissed into her ear, grasping at blue tufts and releasing them, kneading her captive's scalp with her fingertips. "Not for anything. You hear me?"

Before Aqua could wonder why she had been given the additional warning, something clamped around her nose and sealed her nostrils shut.

Just like that, the warning was forgotten in a swirling storm of anxiety. Breathing had been arduous enough with her mouth filled with inches of thick rubber, but with her nose shut tight the lack of air sent her over the edge into outright panic. Once again she thrashed wildly against the straps pinning her limbs down, twisting her head back and forth in a vain attempt to escape Larxene's grip, but it was all as futile as they had both known it would be. Her lungs burned, her throat strained, her body flooded with terrified desperation-

"I told you not to stop!"

Those sadistic digits released Aqua's nose, but Larxene's other hand was already on its way down her body, the Nobody's booted feet carrying her further down the table until she was level with Aqua's hips. Her fingers trailed purposefully down the girl's collarbone and between her breasts, over her stomach, before sinking between her latex-sheathed thighs and pulling open a zipper Aqua hadn't even known was there... then brazenly cupping her crotch.

Aqua's eyes shot open, but the crackle of electricity turned her snarl of outrage into a soaring scream of agony.

The pain was overwhelming, blurring all else into irrelevancy. Larxene had kept her hands away from there for the most part, keeping her attentions above the waist, but now the woman's palm refused to budge from its new home, pressing over her mound and channeling white-hot sparks into Aqua's body, sending her limbs flailing against her restraints in a frenzied, this-time-involuntary dance. The thick rubber device shoved halfway down her throat couldn't entirely muffle her stricken howl, although it lasted a mere moment before degrading into a choking gurgle.

Then, the pain dissolved all at once, and Larxene was back in Aqua's face in an instant her breath hot and sweet against the keyblade master's leather-bound features. "Didn't I tell you to do something!?" she snarled, those wide sea-green eyes bulging in blazing rage.

Again Aqua was given two options, and again there was only one she could possibly take. Still reeling from the blistering assault, from Larxene's hand still resting uncomfortably between her legs, she began to suck on the phallus once again, ignoring the ache in her jaw and her still-tender gag reflex to service the horrid thing.

If she pleased the evil witch now, maybe she would live to escape later. For now, she could not be the proud, strong warrior she had grown into any longer. She had to bury that side of her deep inside, had to be the compliant, vulnerable young woman the blonde witch wanted to see. The girl who could bear to tend a disgustingly lewd toy with her mouth if it got her out of a punishment that threatened to leave her athletic body too weak and sore and useless to escape.

This time, when her nose was pinched shut, she found the presence of mind to keep sucking.

"Very good." Concealing her disappointment at being denied an excuse to punish the girl again, Larxene formed a cruel pink smile over her grinding teeth. Aqua's reaction to the controlled burst of electricity had been everything that the Nobody had hoped for, the blue-haired girl's helpless struggles and stifled screams sparking even greater malice within Larxene when in others they might have stirred pity. Spite fed on spite and birthed more spite, like a snowball gathering mass as it rolled down a hill, filling her heart-less chest with the burning need to hurt the stubborn girl more and more and more.

"Keep going. Don't you dare stop." The hand still cupping Aqua's privates began to tingle as electricity threatened to lance forth once more. The blue-haired girl was already squirming in her restraints, trying in vain to free her nose from the Nobody's persistent finger and thumb before her air supply ran dry. Her throat still moved a little, the panel of her harness gag bobbing faintly as she bravely continued to work on the phallus despite her rising panic.

Let's see you hold out through this.

She let the lightning crackle into Aqua's tensing body, barely caring if the keyblade master could truly hold her nerve. The object of the experiment had always been to make her suffer, debase her, and there were always new ways to do that.

Chapter Text

Rinoa Heartilly, bondage, non-con, humiliation

The entrance ramp of the land-bound military transport protruded from the loading bay like a metallic tongue lolling from a hungry maw.

Rinoa Heartilly shivered as she neared the towering vehicle, its looming presence foreboding enough to make her regret her choice to surrender to the army of Esthar. As large as a house, bolstered by thick armor plating and fitted with dozens of cannons and machine guns and missiles, the vehicle was normally employed by the military only in order to combat the most vicious of monsters that lurked around the edges of the technologically advanced eastern country, its weaponry enough to take on even the likes of a behemoth or an abaddon. Its deployment in the field was as rare as those beasts themselves.

Today, this titanic machine was here for her alone.

The lovely young woman winced in dismay as the vehicle’s shadow enveloped her and her escorts, leeching the sun’s warmth from her body, chilling the gentle breeze that teased her midnight hair and set her pale blue duster to fluttering in her wake. This was just one more comfort she was forced to give up in order to do what was right. As luxuries went, it was one of the lesser ones she had lost in the last few minutes, and it was unlikely to be the last.

Such was the fate of a Sorceress. It didn’t matter that Rinoa had come into her powers by accident, entirely against her will, nor did it make a difference that she exhibited none of the cruel, monstrous traits of the evil Sorceress Adel, she who had left indelible scars in the psyche of the nation of Esthar. It was enough for the country’s government and military that Rinoa possessed the same unlimited magical potential as the dictator who had crushed them beneath her heel years in the past. Adel had been more worthy of being called “witch” than Sorceress, her name a curse spoken only in hateful whispers, and nobody was willing to risk Rinoa following the same path. Not even Rinoa herself.

This surrender had been her only option. She had left Squall - left her life - and given herself up to Esthar’s army in order to be sealed away forever for the good of the world. They had done it before, with Adel. It would be even easier this time, because unlike Adel, Rinoa had no plans to resist.

This was the right thing. She had become a Sorceress, like Adel, like Edea, and that made her dangerous.

Some of the soldiers of Esthar treated Rinoa with sympathy and respect, understanding that she had taken on her powers against her will. Some of them did not, and saw her only as another threat, another enemy. Unfortunately, the commander of the unit sent to secure her fit into the latter category, and it was he who would be giving the orders.

Was it a he? It was impossible for Rinoa to tell through the soldiers’ bug-eyed helmets, always watching her through the unsettling red orbs set into the featureless grey and silver of their masks. The thick, metallic armor that covered them from head to toe didn’t help in discerning their true nature; it was hard to say if they were even human under there. Their voices were distorted by filters built into their helmets, twisted by electronic static, taking away any semblance of individual identity. Only the slightly darker shade of the commander’s armor permitted Rinoa to identify him among his troops.

They barely spoke at all as they escorted Rinoa across the barren landscape upon which the ship she had shared with Squall had landed, marching her across the plain of flattened grey rock and into the loading bay of their mechanical monster.

Sunlight had been traded for dim electric illumination and thick metal walls from which there seemed no escape. Rinoa’s dark eyes darted around the interior of the vehicle in search of a seat, but found only metal paneling occasionally broken by storage hatches or small, protruding loops. The sterile, almost featureless surroundings and the gradual decrease of light as the loading ramp rose behind her conspired to leave her suddenly feeling very, very alone.

“So... where should I sit? On the floor, I guess?” Most of the raven-haired girl’s spark had been eroded by what she had been through and the knowledge of what awaited her at the Sorceress Memorial, but Rinoa was at least able to hide her apprehension behind an almost cheerful facade.

Four pairs of large red eyes stared back at her for a long moment. “You stand,” the officer ordered at last, the nuances of his haughty voice barely audible through his helmet’s filter. Pleased with the way Rinoa’s own mask slipped in response, her dark eyes widening a little in surprise, the soldier cocked his head at one of his subordinates, the one closest to the compartments built into the walls. “Get the equipment. Secure her.”

...Of course, they were going to ‘secure’ her.

The notion made Rinoa flinch, even though she had agreed to this already, back when she had secretly hoped that somehow, she wouldn't have to go through with it. Her gaze flicked back and forth between the compartments and the corrugated metal floor beneath her boots, anxious to see what they planned to use on her but dreading the sight all the same. The cold little thorns of fear pricking at her heart told her that she should enjoy these last moments of not knowing, but her curiosity demanded that she sneak a peek...

The procession of items that were drawn out of the compartment made her wish that she hadn’t.

Solid leather straps, a centimeter thick and inches wide. A padded blindfold. Heavy chains that scraped noisily against the metallic floor as they dangled from the soldier’s arms. A large heap of leather and metal that she couldn’t even begin to identify, her lack of knowledge only making her all the more uneasy. Then, a ball gag, an item that she only recognized thanks to an evening of furtive browsing through a friend’s collection of naughty magazines, though this one looked much larger than the ones those women had worn. Maybe they just looked smaller on film. She hoped that was it.

All of a sudden, this seemed like a very bad idea.

Before she realized it was happening, the four soldiers had boxed her in, surrounding her on all sides, still watching her through those soulless red visors. Intimidating her. Silently conveying the message that while Rinoa might be a sorceress, here they had the power.

“Strip.”

She couldn’t tell which of the four had spoken, but it hardly mattered. “H-huh?!”

Surely she hadn’t just heard that.

“Are you resisting, Sorceress?”

Rinoa flinched. The threat was unspoken, but as obvious as if it had been. Shaking her head, she fought the urge to take a step back, reminding herself that she was completely surrounded. No matter where she looked, she saw the same faceless face and the same cold intent. Her stomach squirmed with revulsion, her dark eyes filled with the fear of a cornered animal. “No, but... is that really necessary?”

“It’s necessary if we say it’s necessary.” She was reasonably certain that the voice had come from the soldier on her left this time, the type of little detail picked up on by a mind falling prey to rising adrenaline. “Strip. Everything.”

They were going to make her strip naked?! Outrage swelled in her chest, her hands curling into fists at her sides. There was no way this was a part of their protocols. They were doing this just because they could. A defiant outburst hovered on her tongue, ready to let loose in their faces, but Rinoa made herself bite it back, knowing that it would get her nowhere. Refusing them would be satisfying for a few seconds, but they would make her regret it.

“...You’re going to turn around... aren’t you?”

Silence.

She closed her eyes, resigned to the reality before they had confirmed it for her. “You’re a bunch of perverts,” she spat, letting her disgust sweep aside her embarrassment and fear as she reached below her breasts for the clasp of her faithful blue duster. Shaking fingers pulled the tiny studs apart and allowed them to fall loose, shrugging out of the sky-blue garment and letting it slump to the floor around her feet.

They watched.

“Are you getting off on this?” She glared into the crimson orbs of the nearest helmet, stalling for time as much as she was venting. This was not how this was supposed to go. She had surrendered to them of her own free will, but they were still treating her like their enemy. “Do you want me to do a little dance for you, too?”

“Just undress.” The officer’s patience had expired. This would be her last warning.

“F-fine.” If there was a way to petulantly tear off her armbands and cast them to the floor, Rinoa had found it, channeling her anger and frustration into her every movement. She unlaced her leather boots and kicked them across the floor, raised her knees in turn and stripped off her white ankle socks, letting them drop. Next came her denim skirt, and she didn’t bother unfastening the garment’s buttons before removing it, yanking the waistband loose until it slid down her legs without further assistance.

There wasn’t much left now. Her black tank top, the thigh-length black shorts she had worn beneath the skirt, and her underwear. Her skin was barely more exposed now than it had been before, not yet, but the chilly air of the vehicle’s interior seemed to gnaw at her flesh much more fiercely than before. Resigned to her fate, anger giving way to intense discomfort, Rinoa grasped the hem of her tank top and began to draw it upward...

“Stop.”

She did. It had been the last command she had expected, but this was one order she was all too happy to comply with.

The rush of relief she felt at this surprising reprieve would not last long. The soldier in the slightly-darker armor stepped forward, a gloved hand reaching for her necklace and snatching it up for a closer look. “What is this?”

Get your dirty hands off of those, was what she truly wanted to say, but it was a much more subdued response that passed her lips. “Rings. They’re just rings.”

Her ring, and a replica of Squall’s, hanging together from the thin chain around her neck. Precious items to Rinoa, useless trinkets to anyone else. Her dark eyes brimmed with a silent plea for the soldier to leave them alone, but the moment his fingers closed around them, hiding them from sight, she knew that they were lost. One sharp tug later, the clasp of the necklace had snapped and the chain and rings were gone. “Possible magical artifacts. Confiscated.”

Rinoa’s protest died before it ever reached her lips. The loss of her precious possessions stung, but there was nothing she could do... and when she reached the Sorceress Memorial, it would matter very little.

The quartet of faceless soldiers stared at her for several moments before she realised that she was expected to continue undressing.

She didn’t hesitate any longer, the loss of her rings hammering home just how little any of this mattered. She had tried to remain upbeat, as always, but there were some things that a cheerful attitude couldn’t fix. In less than a day, she was going to be frozen and sealed away forever for the sake of the world, just for the misfortune of inheriting a power she didn’t even want. What did it matter if a few foreign soldiers saw a little skin?

Letting those bitter thoughts wash away all other emotions, telling herself that none of this mattered, made it much easier for Rinoa to lift her tank top over her head and tug her tight-fitting shorts down her legs. Her movements were clinical, unflinching, as if she were undressing in the privacy of her home without the need to worry about the lustful thoughts of four faceless soldiers. As if standing here in the depths of a mechanical titan in only her underwear, the curves of her slender body barely hidden by the simple black bra and panties she hadn’t had a chance to change in weeks, was some sort of normal occurrence and not part of a waking nightmare.

Four ruby stares reminded her that she was not permitted to stop here. A red stain blossoming across her pale cheeks, the dark-haired girl reached behind her back to unclasp her bra, her hands darting back around to catch the cups and hold them in place before they could fall from her breasts. Never before had she been so bare before a stranger, let alone four, and there was no way her turbulent mind could rationalize this as anything but what it was. They were going to see her. All of her.

Might as well get this over with. Shooting the soldiers a final glare of disgust, she let her bra fall to the floor and bent to slip her panties down her thighs, trying not to think about the way her breasts hung loose as she stooped, or the view of her naked behind she was providing the soldier at her back. She straightened, slipping one arm across her breasts and her other hand between her legs, a futile attempt to hide herself from people who had already seen everything. “Satisfied?!”

“Give me your hands.”

Rinoa’s mouth slid open, and she gave the soldier in front of her a look of disbelief before she lifted her hands out towards him, leaving her naked body completely unprotected. Thanks to their bug-eyed helmets, it was impossible to tell if any of the men were checking her out, but it wasn’t hard to imagine that they were.

After an awkward, seemingly endless moment, the officer began passing restraints to his comrades - the thick leather straps to the man on Rinoa’s right, the ball gag and blindfold to the one on her left, the chains to the man behind her. Breathing a shaking sigh, Rinoa waited for the inevitable discomfort, having forgotten about the restraints in her humiliation.

Perhaps they would at least be warm.

She did not have to wait long to find out. The other items distributed, the officer was left with the mysterious pile of leather and metal that Rinoa had caught sight of before, an object that he began to unfurl before her eyes. When she had first seen the device, folded in a loose heap of black and glimmers of silver, she hadn’t been able to grasp what it was supposed to be, but now it couldn’t be more obvious.

A straitjacket.

She had known that she would be restrained, but this was a lot more extreme than Rinoa had expected, and it frightened her. It took all the willpower she had to continue holding her arms outstretched as the officer guided her hands into the long leather sleeves, forcing her fingers to bend into useless fists and slipping the padded mittens at the ends around them. The leather felt strange on her bare skin, rasping faintly against her as the main body of the contraption was drawn up against her chest, but at least it covered up her breasts and gave her the illusion of proper clothing.

The soldiers closed in on her like the jaws of a trap, crowding around her, each with a purpose and the tools to make it happen. The soldier behind Rinoa pulled the straitjacket closed around her torso and began to tighten the straps at her back one by one, starting with the one at her neck, working his way down to her waist strap by strap. The entire garment constricted around her body as the straps were yanked taut and buckled, leaving her trapped within its leathery grip. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as she had feared, but with her hands trapped in these thick sheathes, barely able to twitch let alone unfold, there was little hope of escaping it.

Progress had been efficient but gradual, leaving Rinoa easily able to track what was happening to her as her body was steadily restricted, but as the soldier behind her pulled her useless arms through the loop at the front of her straitjacket and tugged them behind her back, forcing them to lock around her in a tight self-embrace, the other men sprang into action. All at once, a hand pulled back on her hair hard enough to make her cry out, tilting her head upward for the padded blindfold to be slapped over her eyes and the ball gag to be jammed into her open mouth. The bulky, hole-ridden sphere filled her jaw and forced her lips to stretch around it, muffling her curious attempt at speech as effectively as the blindfold shut out her vision.

Something jerked at the bottom of her straitjacket in tandem with the rough yanks at her arms as they were buckled behind her; the jingling of metal suggested that the thick chains she had laid eyes on before were being attached somehow. Her suspicions were soon confirmed; the cold metal links were methodically wrapped around her legs, the twin chains working their way from her thighs down to her knees and shins, pressing icy trails into her bare skin as they bound her legs together. When they finally reached her ankles, a small padlock was produced and used to lock the two chains together, tight and completely inseparable.

When the soldiers of Esthar confined a sorceress, they did not mess around.

It was now impossible for Rinoa to move her arms at all, immobilized from her fingers to her shoulders, wrapped around her own torso as if she meant to hug away her fear. She couldn’t part her legs, couldn’t see, couldn’t speak, and there were still those leather straps to come...

Distracted by her uncertainty over just how much further they could restrain her, she didn’t spare a thought for the final strap of her straitjacket until it scythed its way into her crotch, drawn tight between her legs and buckled in place in the rear. Taken completely by surprise, she squealed into her gag as the pressure mounted on her most sensitive region, flecks of drool leaking from the holes in the over-sized ball in her mouth as her head tilted forward in dismay. “Puh-vuhss,” she moaned around the gag, struggling to adjust to the discomfort and the sensations the rapidly warming leather triggered within her as it rubbed between her thighs.

They didn’t reply to her muffled accusation, simply dragging her off to one side. Deeper into the vehicle? Closer to the entrance? It was impossible to tell with the blindfold completely covering her dark eyes, but she knew that it didn’t matter. Either way, she would be right where they wanted her.

Rinoa felt herself being shoved up against the bulkhead, the flat metal pressing against her back, almost painfully chilly against her naked buttocks, and winced as the thick leather straps were passed through the loops set into the walls and tightened around her body at her knees, her waist and her shoulders, pinning her to the wall in addition to all else they had done to her. It seemed ridiculously over the top - she was already well beyond the ability to use magic, muzzled and immobilized - but perhaps a sorceress was supposed to be capable of casting spells without needing to speak or move? Either way, she had no idea how to tap into the incredible powers she had been given, leaving her completely unable to move for no reason beyond paranoia and spite.

“That should do it.” A voice, crackling with static, issued from somewhere off to her left. “She’s almost ready for transport. One of you drew some Sleep spells before we left, right?”

“Yes, sir. Got a stock of twelve.”

“One should do. If she wakes up before we reach the Memorial, cast it again. We’re not taking any chances.”

You’re kidding... now you use magic on me? Rinoa’s incredulous thoughts became an incomprehensible mishmash of consonants and seeping drool as she tried to speak them, but she barely cared any more, frustrated and furious beyond anything she had ever felt. This was way past even “talking to her father” level frustration. Forget magic - she wanted to break loose of these ludicrous restraints and beat the soldiers silly with her bare hands!

Yet even her self-righteous anger did not burn strong enough to keep her awake as the Sleep spell took hold of her. Already shut into absolute blackness by the blindfold fitted to her face, Rinoa barely felt her eyelids grow heavy as her consciousness began to spiral away and her senses closed down. Her head sagged, her mind gave in and she slipped into magical slumber, already dreading the moment she would wake.

Chapter Text

Zelda/Impa, bondage, consensual

The golden-haired monarch sighed her exhaustion into the silken covers of her bed and cast her weary gaze across her chambers. "I am ill, Impa."

The older woman stared back at her mistress, taking in her wan complexion and the rings of grey that encircled her sapphire eyes. Princess Zelda - no, Queen Zelda, Impa reminded herself for the thousandth time - was always tired, always worn to the bone by the constant stress of the reconstruction of her beloved Hyrule. The mantle of ruler had been thrust upon her at far too young an age, but what choice had there been? There was none other for the job, only the eighteen-year-old daughter of the departed king.

Impa was determined to assist the new queen by any means her mistress deemed necessary. Taller and stronger than the regal young lady she had tutored, the snow-haired guardian would share the burdens that came with leadership, even though she was merely a servant. Sometimes it was as simple as performing a task in the city, but sometimes it was as difficult as shielding the golden queen from the world at large and granting her a chance to recover.

"How long shall you be ill for, Your Majesty?" she inquired bluntly, no emotion on her stoic features.

"A while. A few days." Zelda pulled herself to her feet, adjusting her violet gown around her slender form, now averting her gaze from her servant. Even now she found it difficult to admit her need, even to the woman who knew her best. "No-one shall see me. No-one but you."

"Of course, Your Majesty." Impa bowed her head and moved across the room, seizing hold of an elaborate steel sconce set into the wall. There was no torch within waiting to be lit, but it would still serve a purpose. "I will ensure that you remain undisturbed, and that the ministers are informed. Now, if you would come with me?"

She twisted the sconce; it offered no resistance. Gears whirled and clacked behind the brickwork, stone began to grind upon its kin. A section of the wall began to slide into another, revealing a narrow passage beyond, and Impa was quick to step into the gap and extend a hand toward her royal charge. Zelda took it gratefully, and for the first time in months she smiled the smile of the carefree.

~ ~ ~

More than any other chamber within Hyrule Castle's bounds, Zelda loved the room at the top of the tower.

The little hideaway had always been their secret, the one place in all the realm that belonged to the girl and her servant alone. Bare stone enclosed them as they entered, from ceiling to floor, with not a cushion or chair to be found. The tiniest slot in the masonry allowed light to intrude from outside. Bolted into the wall, chains and shackles gleamed and waited.

Warm breath caressed the curve of Zelda's throat, and calloused palms lifted her golden tiara from her forehead. "You are no queen here, my sweet."

It felt as if she had lost ten times the coronet's weight. Impa had spoken only the truth; here in this lonely spire, Zelda was no ruler but the child she had once been. In this chamber she had not the power of a monarch or the freedom of a commoner, but nor did she carry the crushing responsibilities of a queen. Impa could give Zelda what no other could offer; the power to turn back the clock, to discard all that she was and take refuge in her secret place. Their secret place.

It could not be forever, but today she was someone else.

"You are nobody. Just a child no-one knows." Those familiar hands brushed against her throat, rough against smooth, sliding the bodice of her gown to her shoulders and beyond. The garment pooled at her feet, and Zelda let her stress and her fear fall from her body along with it. Her eyes fluttered closed as she surrendered herself to Impa's care, calming her mind and stilling her flesh.

Impa's touch was gentle, almost maternal, but her steady movements left little doubt who was in command as she stripped away the clothing of her charge. Off came her stockings and her gloves and her shift, the fine satin trappings of a girl with royal blood, each discarded in turn and thrown to the floor. Her earrings and brooch were removed in turn, her necklace lifted over her lowered head and her jeweled rings slipped from her slender fingers.

When all was done Zelda stood nude before her servant, as she had so many times when she was young. In Impa's eyes the queen would always be the quiet little girl she had raised, the child she could read like a book with a single glance, the princess ever in need of her guidance and care. Yet she had grown, she observed as her hands roamed across her lady's pale skin, tracing her curves of her breasts and her hips. She had become a woman.

Zelda gasped and shuddered in delight at the sensations flooding through her body. Her deepest regions longed for more but Impa pulled away and caught her queen's chin between thumb and forefinger. The golden-haired beauty groaned her disappointment, but Impa offered no sympathy. She had always been a strict caretaker, and remained so even now.

"This way, my girl." Her voice was both commanding and inviting, the voice of a mistress Zelda longed to obey. The solemn queen obeyed, bare feet clapping against the floor as Impa guided her to the wall below the window slot. Anticipation raced through her elegant body, a tingling thrill she felt every time they visited this chamber together. The chains awaited.

A quartet of shackles hung from the wall, two high and two low, spread wide. Neither woman could say just why they had been installed in this tower, or who they had held prisoner. They had always been a source of fascination for Zelda, even while she was young, and she had long awaited the day when she would be tall enough to fit within their grip. She had not known why she felt such a deep-seated urge, but Impa had always seemed to understand.

The cold, rough stonework scraped against Zelda's back as she was forced back into the wall by her white-haired servant. Now more forceful than gentle, Impa held her queen in place with her more muscular body and seized hold of Zelda's left arm, yanking it up and away from her body. Steel clamped shut around her wrist, holding her arm out to her side, and the golden-haired monarch's lips curved into a smile. The shackle was far too tight to slip out of and far too sturdy to break through.

Just how she liked it.

Turning the key in the lock, Impa drew back from her captive and claimed her right arm with two of her own. Zelda offered no resistance as her free hand was guided into a second manacle and locked in place, nor did she struggle while her ankles were parted and secured to the floor with fetters of their own. She was immobilized, pinned to the wall, helpless to move more than an inch from the outstretched position the chains forced upon her. No matter how hard she pulled, the restraints held her trapped.

To another this captivity would be a punishment, but to the weary queen of Hyrule this prison was a respite from the constant demands of power and duty. Here she was simply a powerless prisoner; she could do nothing for herself, so how could she help the realm? What could she do but hang here by her ankles and wrists and wait for someone to free her?

"Rest here, dear girl," Impa whispered, her hand grazing Zelda's cheek as she leaned in close. Red eyes stared into blue, studying the emotions that flickered through her lady's gaze, and found nothing but warmth and adoration looking back at her. Even naked, chained and locked in a tower, Zelda's trust in her refused to waver. Or was it more than trust? Was there something else in that longing, wanting look upon the young queen's face? Impa's heart raced at the thought.

But finding out would be for another day. Today she fought down her more primal urges and left Zelda's side, stooping to the floor to pick up a few items of the queen's discarded clothing. The radiant monarch watched helplessly as her servant collected gloves and stockings, leaving the rest where they lay, and returned to her to finish what she had started. Zelda was anchored in place by her chains, but that was not enough for either of them.

Impa's nimble hands worked to roll the gloves together, quickly molding a misshapen ball from the satin garments. When she had completed her task, her eyes rose to meet Zelda's once again, drinking in the love that shone from her queen's sapphire gaze. The trust she showed warmed Impa's heart even as her exquisite loveliness tempted the Shiekah woman to steal a kiss. Restraining Zelda was easy, but restraining herself from crossing that line was the hardest thing she had ever done.

What she had most wanted to press against Zelda's rosy lips were her own, but instead it was the lumpy ball of gloves that brushed the entrance to her lady's mouth. Those inviting lips were quick to part, allowing entrance to the mound of satin cloth as Impa's fingers pressed it deep within. The captive queen let out a moan as her mouth was filled with glossy fabric, but her melodic voice could now barely escape the depths of her throat. She was silenced.

"Good girl," Impa cooed, now wielding one of her lady's sheer stockings. Grasping each end, she swooped on her prisoner and jammed its tautened length between Zelda's lips, forcefully wrapping it round the width of her head. Stifled whimpers leaked from her mouth as the tightly-pulled hose bit into the corners of her mouth, trapping the moistened gloves inside her jaw. Impa smiled at the muffled sounds and made a second circuit, wedging them even deeper inside, before tying the ends together behind Zelda's head. It would not be coming out anytime soon.

Last of all came the remaining stocking, pressed over the eyes of the queen and cinched around her head like the last. At first light pervaded the diaphanous fabric, but as Impa applied a second layer and a third, Zelda found the world being slowly blotted out. By the time the stocking was knotted behind her she was completely blinded.

Completely powerless.

She could see nothing, could say nothing. Bound to the wall at every limb she could do nothing to free herself. She was spreadeagled, stretched out in all directions, every inch of her naked body utterly vulnerable... and she loved it.

She had no power and no responsibility. The weight of the world was no longer resting on her shoulders. No commands could leave her lips, no documents could be signed, nothing was expected of her. All she could do was struggle in her fetters and groan into her gag, secure in the knowledge that no-one but her beloved caretaker could reach her here. A deep sense of tranquility swept over the captive maiden, carrying away her cares and bringing her elusive peace.

Zelda would never see the gleam of desire that sparkled in the Sheikah's crimson eyes. "Rest well, my lady," Impa whispered, turning away and making for the door that led back to the bedchambers. "I will watch over you."

Chapter Text

Emma/Dorothee/Male OC, bondage, humiliation, non-con, forced lesbianism, post-game, requested

The room was decidedly upper-class, plush crimson carpeting marrying with polished wooden walls and furnishings and elegant orbal lighting to present a stately appearance worthy of the Erebonian royal family, but the scene unfolding within the apartment penthouse was anything but dignified.

Emma and Dorothee, once students of the prestigious Thors Military Academy, knelt on the comfortable floor wearing little more than the leather restraints wrapped around their wrists, cuffing them behind their backs.

They were shivering, their soft skin bared to the cold orbal light, their breasts hanging free without a scrap of cloth to conceal them. The awkward positions of their bound arms forced their bosoms outward, making Dorothee's small breasts seem larger than they were and emphasizing Emma's far less modest mounds to even more impressive proportions, and neither mortified girl had failed to notice. Only their panties remained to offer them the illusion of modesty, Dorothee's simple white cotton, Emma's lace-trimmed purple silk... but at this grim rate, neither girl could imagine being permitted to keep them for long.

Standing over them, predatory green eyes narrowed in distaste, the man Emma had come to know as Damon Heibler clenched a hand against his lips, deep in the darkest of thoughts.

Today had been the first time that Emma had even met the man, but to Dorothee he was a familiar face. As the landlord of the Heimdallr apartments the dark-haired writer had been living in since she had left Thors a year ago, the handsome young nobleman had been a frequent fixture in her life... and as time had gone by, her fantasies as well.

Eventually, even her writing.

She had known that she shouldn't have written her flame-haired landlord into her work. Definitely not the steamier parts, the parts that explored the beautiful love between men in lovingly explicit detail. She had known it was unwise, but she simply couldn't resist the idea of Damon, his lean body stripped of his tailored suits and wrapped in a powerful embrace instead, perhaps that of that nice boy from the apartment downstairs...

She had committed the mental image to paper, shared it with her dear friend Emma, and now both of them were going to pay the price.

Whatever that might be.

Emma was far more experienced in facing mortal peril than she was, but by the look of stark fright frozen on the other girl's features, she was no more comfortable with being half-naked and restrained than Dorothee was. It had been over a year since she had seen her former Literature Club friend face-to-face, but now she was seeing more of the brunette witch than she had ever wanted to; her long, smooth legs folded clumsily beneath her body, the supple curves of her creamy buttocks, her bare breasts even bigger than Dorothee had thought now there was no clothing to hide them away. Her wide-rimmed glasses still framed her pale blue eyes, her long brown hair still tied in its thick braid, but it was almost as if Dorothee was looking at another woman entirely, a frightened, fretful girl kneeling in the place of her cheerful friend.

In truth, Dorothee herself looked little different. Her breasts were smaller than Emma's, her body slimmer and paler, her messy raven bangs draped across her face almost far enough to conceal her dark eyes and reading glasses, but she shared the same look of skittish uncertainty and barely leashed panic, the same squirming in her stomach and fluttering in her chest.

"You are looking a little... uncomfortable," Damon's smooth voice suggested, the corners of his lips quirking in a cruel smile.

Two resentful, blushing stares were the only reply he received.

He snorted, his handsome features barren of sympathy. "Am I supposed to be moved? You little tramps got yourselves into this. I am not about to let you out."

Emma distinctly remembered an ambush and an orbal art that had put the two of them to sleep before they could defend themselves, but she bit her tongue on the subject, making herself remain silent. No good would come of antagonizing him, but if she could concentrate, focus her will, maybe she could get past the field that was blocking her witch's powers and get them out of this situation.

She could see it on the mantle, humming softly without cease. The black orb was an increasingly common feature in Erebonian homes, a protective measure against intruders who might use orbments to break in or to attack, but though Damon couldn't possibly have known, the anti-orbal waves emitted by the little machine disrupted Emma's connection with her innate powers, as well. No matter how hard she tried, no matter which words she spoke, there was simply no power for her to draw on, as if she had cast a bucket into a well and found it completely dry.

Just when she needed it the most.

"You are not going anywhere." Damon's shiny leather shoes paced a circle around the two girls, his steps orderly, almost military in their precise rhythm. "Not after the filth you wrote about me. I can only assume that you thought I wouldn't find out."

Dorothee had thought that her landlord wasn't the type to forage through her possessions while she was out, but evidently she had been mistaken.

She had been mistaken about a lot.

"Well, I did." His mouth tightened as he completed his circuit of the two girls, neatly clasping his hands behind his back as he came to a halt in front of them, teeth bared. "I have seen into the depths of your disgusting minds, and now the two of you will pay the price for your depravity. I feel it is time for you ladies to taste your own medicine." A ghoulish twist of his lips. "Among other things."

Dorothee and Emma exchanged fearful glances.

"P-please." It was Dorothee who first found the strength to speak, but her voice was shaking, hesitant. "I'm... I'm the one who wrote it. All of it. Emma didn't do anything, so...let her go. Please."

Emma looked like she wanted to protest, her mouth falling open, but before she could form a response, Damon's vicious glare made the witch's words shrivel in her mouth.

"Your friend may not have written it, but she is as complicit in this disgrace as you." His dark eyes bored into Emma's blue, as if by staring alone he might scorch out her soul. "I have no doubt she encouraged your perversions every step of the way. With one hand down her underwear, I'm certain."

Emma flushed, her gaze dipping in embarrassment.

"That doesn't mean you can do this to her! To us!" Not as easily shamed as her comparatively innocent friend, Dorothee kept her chin up, hoping she was hiding her fear as well as she thought she was. "I'm... I'm sorry you read that story. I'm sorry I wrote it. But... this isn't right. You know it isn't. You know how much trouble you would be in, if-"

"Shut up."

Dorothee froze, eyes wide behind her glasses as she found herself staring down the barrel of a gleaming silver gun.

"Shut the fuck up." This time there was more venom than ice in the words, the muzzle of the antique weapon shifting from Dorothee's nose to Emma's, then back again, Damon's finger not on the trigger but lurking perilously close. It was as if his refined demeanor had cracked and fallen away to reveal the animal within. "I didn't bring you here to talk. You are here to learn a lesson, and if you want to walk out of this place alive then you will shut up and do as I tell you to. Am I understood?"

Dorothee gave a stricken, silent nod, her face as pale as snow.

Emma hesitated, swallowed, then did the same.

"Good." Damon lowered the gun to his side, though his grip on the weapon didn't ease in the slightest. He paused, mulling, drawing out the uncomfortable silence as his emerald eyes lingered on Emma's bare breasts, then Dorothee's, as much to make the two women squirm as for any pleasure he might be taking from ogling them. Then, he smiled like the pleasant noble son he had always seemed to be, slipping the gun into his belt and clasping his hands behind his back once more. "Then kiss."

"Kiss...?" Dorothee blurted over Emma's sharp intake of breath, her forehead wrinkling as she stared back at Damon in confusion. Then, understanding dawned, and her dark eyes widened in alarm, a fresh wave of pink blossoming in her pale cheeks. "Wait, you don't mean... each other?!"

"Well, I certainly do not want your filthy mouths kissing me." Staring down his nose at the two as if they had slithered out of the plumbing, Damon turned his lips into a tight frown, as if the very idea sickened him. "Yes. Each other. And I suggest that you make it convincing."

Dorothee's eyes darted to Emma, only to find the other girl looking right back at her, dread and disbelief on the witch's face to mirror her own. "We..." Her voice cracked as she forced herself to look back at Damon, desperately hoping she had misinterpreted something. "J-just because I wrote that stuff, doesn't mean that I'm... that we're..."

"Neither one of us is attracted to women," Emma interceded, a hair louder than a whisper. "But... that's the point, isn't it?"

"It is." That earned her a thin smile from Damon, though it quickly faded back into cold emotionlessness as the gun returned, pointed at the floor but still ominously, threateningly present. "No more stalling. I want you two kissing. Each other. Now."

Dorothee wished she could sink into the floor. She could feel Emma looking at her before she even turned her head, the witch's wide blue eyes filled with the same trepidation that the dark-haired writer felt welling up inside of her. Neither of them wanted this. Dorothee had known Emma for years and had never felt the slightest attraction to her - only to boys - and the idea of kissing her was... not disgusting, but it felt wrong to even contemplate it. Like kissing a sister.

Yet she was doing more than contemplating it. She was using her knees to scoot herself around to face Emma, who was nervously doing the same, their cheeks only reddening further as they gave each other their full attention.

"We have to," Emma whispered, and Dorothee knew that she was right. The gun still loomed in the corner of her vision, and while she didn't think that Damon was the kind of man who would actually follow through on his threat to kill them, she hadn't thought he was the kind of man to kidnap her and strip her to her panties, either. The grim truth was that she had no idea who she was really dealing with, and if a man with a gun told her to kiss someone...

She was shaking, her heart racing like an airship engine. For all the hours she had spent writing and reading about furtive kisses and more shared between lovely young men, Dorothee herself had never been kissed, let alone by another girl. Now, though, she had no choice, and she reluctantly leaned forward to offer Emma her trembling lips, clasping her cuffed hands into fists as Emma's warm mouth found hers. The kiss was stiff, unenthusiastic, but undeniably, embarrassingly intimate, and both girls felt their faces burning as they separated, the taste and heat of one another on their lips, stubbornly lingering.

"That's... what you wanted, isn't it?" Emma was the one who broke the painfully awkward silence, the witch turning her head as much to face Damon as to get Dorothee's flushed face out of her sight. "We've done as you told us. You have made your point. Now l-let us go."

The smile she received in return was devoid of humanity.

"Lie down on your back."

Emma blinked, fresh unease coiling in her stomach. So it wasn't going to be that easy. "W-why?"

"Because I told you to do it." The muzzle of the gun came up to point at Emma's forehead, and she couldn't help but flinch, dropping her eyes to the carpet as Damon's imperious voice washed over her. "Do you filthy bitches think this is a game!? I can make the both of you disappear if I need to, so you had best learn obedience if you wish to live. You," he angled the gun at the floor in front of Emma, "lie down on your back, now, and you..."

This time the weapon was jerked at Dorothee. "Take her panties off."

All life and color drained from the dark-haired writer's face.

Aidios, no...

"Dorothee..." Emma's face was just as stark white as her friend's, but she gave the other girl a pleading look as she lowered herself to the carpet to rest on her cuffed arms, her long, bare legs splaying awkwardly towards Dorothee. She knew where this was going as well as her friend did - somewhere they could never return from - but the pistol loomed above her, its barrel gleaming in the orbal light, and she had seen enough of them during the war to know what they could do to her. To Dorothee. Without her magic or her staff or her arts, stripped of all she could use to defend herself, Emma was wise enough to know that there was only one option she could take. For both of their sakes. "Just... do it. Please."

Dorothee swallowed. Bit her lip. Nodded, limp and jerking, like a broken marionette. Then, wishing she was anywhere else, she scooted up towards Emma's hips and began to shuffle herself around, bringing her cuffed hands around to where they could clumsily reach the waistband of Emma's silken underwear-

"No, no, no, no." His voice leaden with smugness, a malevolent twinkle in his emerald eyes, Damon dropped to his haunches beside Emma, favoring Dorothee with a feral leer more at home on the face of a drunkard outside a bar than on that of a wealthy, refined young nobleman. Aidios, how had she ever liked him?! "Not with your hands," he purred, audibly pleased with himself. "Use your teeth."

Revulsion flashed across Dorothee's features. Her stomach turned in disgust, but her fearful eyes flitted to the gun in their captor's hand, branding it into her mind. Reminding her that she <>had to do this.

Slowly, unenthusiastically, she scooted herself back around to face with Emma once again, trying not to look at her friend as she began to lower her head. The pretty witch looked back up at her in trepidation, forcing herself to remain still as warm breath dusted her bare stomach, as a nose grazed her belly button...

As teeth gripped the lacy waistband of her panties and began to draw them down.

It was difficult to say whether the experience was less pleasant for Dorothee or for Emma. Of the two, the witch supposedly had the easiest job - simply to lie there as her underwear was pulled down her thighs - but remaining still had never been so difficult. Skin and hair and the cool, smooth lenses of Dorothee's glasses brushed against her crotch, her inner thighs, heated air ghosting against her folds, and it took all of her strength to dig her fingers into the carpet and bear it, endure the discomfort and the humiliation and the knowledge that her dear friend was now staring straight at her bare pussy, leaving her completely, disgracefully exposed.

For her part, Dorothee was not exactly enjoying the rub of soft flesh and downy hair against her nose as she awkwardly worked the lace-trimmed panties down Emma's hips, nor the thick scent of the brunette's core seeping into her nose, hounding her even as she worked the purple silk loose of the witch's nethers and tugged them down the other girl's thighs with her teeth. The inner crotch of the undergarments flipped outward as they were drawn away from Emma's hips, the sweaty, pussy-smelling silk pressing against her face all the more insistently as she slowly drew the panties down to Emma's knees, then her shins, wishing she could breathe through her mouth. Her nose wrinkled against the fabric, the scent of her impossible to ignore or avoid as she dragged the panties down, over Emma's ankles, then her toes...

Then, off of Emma entirely.

Dorothee had never been so happy to spit something out, letting the underwear fall to the carpet and fixing Damon with a resentful, blushing glare. Better to look at him than Emma, though she could feel the witch's humiliated stare on her.

"...Very good." Pleased with Dorothee's obedience, her embarrassment, Damon denied them even a moment's peace, walking over to the shamed, half-naked Dorothee and plucking the silken panties from where they lay. "Now, switch places, and repeat."

Both girls wanted to protest, but neither dared to do so, the gun still hanging at Damon's side, deliberately left in their line of sight. Still blushing fiercely, they began to move as they were commanded, Emma clumsily flipping herself over to bring her cuffed arms and her bare ass up into plain view, hiding her ample breasts and her newly uncovered crotch from view, while Dorothee slowly laid herself down on her back and her own bound arms, the scent of Emma's pussy and sweat still clinging to her face even in the clean air.

"Oh, I almost forgot."

Descending like some flame-haired predator, Damon lowered himself to his knees beside Dorothee, something balled up in his hand. Something lacy, and purple...

The trembling writer failed to realize the wadded cloth was Emma's underwear until it was shoved into her mouth, pressing silk and the raw taste of Emma's pussy against her tongue.

"Keep that in there," Damon ordered as he rose and stepped aside, and Dorothee did as she was told, her face twisting in mortified disgust. She had never written anything this lurid, ever. The silk filled her mouth, rapidly growing damp as her saliva seeped into it, flooding her tongue with the flavor of Emma's sweat and worse, and she could already feel Emma moving against her, the other girl's thick brown braid sweeping against Dorothee's bare leg as the handcuffed witch wriggled her way up the writer's pale body, those huge breasts warm and soft against her knees, the tiny points of her friend's nipples poking against her...

Emma sucked in one final lungful of clean air before she reluctantly lowered her lips to Dorothee's stomach and took the dark-haired girl's white cotton panties in her teeth, screwing up her face in dismay as Dorothee's own scent invaded her nose. Warm, faintly moist skin pressed against her nose, tainting her, but she worked the waistband down as quickly as she could, the dirty panties parting from Dorothee's crotch and carrying her scent with them. The thick smell haunted Emma all the way down, and as a single tear trickled down her cheek, she bitterly accepted the fact that the sweaty underwear she already desperately wanted off of her face was probably going to be forced into her mouth, just as hers had been into Dorothee's.

She felt like she was going to be sick, but she still completed her task, blue eyes glittering with tears as she dropped the panties on the floor. Humiliated, Dorothee clamped her legs shut to hide herself, staring off to one side with purple silk still visible between her lips, unable to bear looking at either of them.

Damon didn't linger on the sight of his degraded victims for long, scooping up the discarded panties and thrusting them against Emma's half-parted lips, his expression as warm and comforting as a blade made of ice. "Open."

Stifling a sob, Emma did, and was rewarded with cotton and crotch against her tongue, her mouth packed disgustingly full. Her stomach turned, bile rising in her throat, but she forced her lips to close around them, trying not to taste, to smell, to think about what she had taken inside of her mouth.

"Now climb on top of her."

The barrel of the gun was trained on Emma now, motioning her towards Dorothee, and the naked witch did as she was told, dread chilling her veins as she fumbled her way up against Dorothee's body, warm flesh meeting warm flesh as she wriggled against the other girl. Hips found hips, large breasts found small ones, Emma's face found Dorothee's, tearful, humiliated, red with shame, just like hers was. With their mouths stuffed with each others' panties neither of them could speak, but Emma's blue eyes found a terrified plea for forgiveness in Dorothee's dark ones, the same as Dorothee would find in hers. Neither of them had wanted what they had done, and neither wanted what was coming next.

A strong hand wrapped around the back of Emma's head, trapping her in an iron grip, and forced her face down to meet Dorothee's, mashing their lips together.

It was even less of a genuine kiss than the last one had been no more than the rubbing of one set of lips against another, but it entertained Damon enough to keep them that way. holding them close together, forcing them to look into each others' tearful eyes. Their breath mingled between them, their glasses jostling each others' but never quite dislodging them, allowing them this one tiny part of their outfits long after even their undergarments had been stripped from them. He wanted to make sure they could see each other, Emma had guessed. Every detail of each other's tear-streaked, blushing faces.

Dorothee whimpered into her silken gag as Emma pressed against her, her smaller breasts no match for Emma's dominant mounds asserting themselves in her space. It was uncomfortable, embarrassing, but she couldn't deny that the heat of one body against another was beginning to have an effect on her, even just a small one. She had no desire for other women, no secret lust for Emma, but her body wanted what it wanted, and the close, persistent contact was enough light a fuse within her, as much as it shamed her. Aidios, if Emma found out she would die of embarrassment...

"All right, that's enough of that."

Smooth hands tugged Emma away from Dorothee, leaving both girls sagging in relief as their sweaty skin peeled away from each other, but their relief was short-lived. His fingers winding through Emma's brunette hair, mercilessly grasping her scalp, he forced her back down Dorothee's body and kicked apart the writer's legs, delighting in her squeal of dismay as Emma's face was pushed back between her thighs, and this time there were no panties to shield her.

Emma recoiled as Dorothee's scent assailed her again, but there was no escaping the sight in front of her.

Her friend's slit awaited her, pink and vulnerable and ever so slightly wet.

She was given no time to contemplate what that meant. With a dispassionate snort, Damon shoved Emma's face against her friend's crotch, burying her nose in soft, damp flesh, slicking her face from her brow to her chin as he rubbed Emma into the older girl's pussy without mercy. Sweat and juices glued her bangs to her forehead, misted her glasses, seeped into the panties still crammed inside her mouth, and her tears and whimpers were lost between Dorothee's thighs, blotted out by Dorothee's own cries of misery and Damon's throaty laughter.

All the while, her friend's face rubbing violently against her pussy, Dorothee could only stare at the ceiling in utter horror, her surroundings blurring behind fogged glasses and tear-filled eyes. She could only pray to Aidios or to whichever god was listening that Emma wouldn't feel her increasing arousal, wouldn't be able to tell the difference amidst the sweat and wetness already there. She didn't want Emma in that way, never had, but Damon knew damn well what he was doing to them, what he was imposing upon them, and he knew where the constant forced contact between them was leading. He wanted them aroused against their will, wanted them humiliated, degraded, wanted their friendship destroyed, and all because of that damned story and her landlord's tragically fragile masculinity.

The war had been nothing compared to this.

Chapter Text

The gunshot's echo howled through the cobble-stoned alleyways of King's Row.

The lone bullet streaked through the cool night air, plowing deep into its target with a resounding thunk. The hulking combat mech in the center of the city avenue, startlingly-pink, lurched and shuddered and crackled where it stood, its inner workings penetrated, metal and circuitry tore open before the projectile's vicious charge. The contraption buckled, whined, its already-damaged systems critically compromised.

The screen in front of Hana "D.VA" Song's face flashed violent red lettering before her eyes, warning sirens screaming into the Korean girl's ears to herald her chariot's imminent demise. It was going to blow.

The mech's hysterics, however, were needless. The talented young pilot had already hit the eject button, her gaming-honed instincts doing more to protect her now than the thick steel hide all around her. She was, as ever, completely on top of her game.

And it was, of course, a game. Deadly serious, but a game.

The mech obeyed its final command as its systems succumbed to failure, snapping open its vivid carapace and catapulting its pilot into the winding streets of King's Row. A moment later, it collapsed onto its front and violently expired, its pink bulk blossoming into a searing orange fireball, filling the darkened avenue filled with light and sound. Windows shattered from the force of the blast, twisted pink shrapnel showering over the neat grey pavement... and amidst the incandescent violence, the shape of a petite young woman flipped through the air, undisturbed by the chaos around her.

Hana landed neatly on the asphalt surface below, one hand clutched around her favorite pink energy pistol. Her dark eyes and clever mind calculated angles and trajectories as fast as her mechanical partner ever had, mapping her surroundings, eliminating possibilities. Her enemy was around somewhere, and they were unlikely to stop at simply destroying her combat mech.

She spared not a glance for her partner's fiery death throes - it had been a faithful servant to the end, a sword and shield in one, protecting her and tearing apart her enemies at the push of a button, but Mech #2892 was already all but forgotten by its prodigious pilot. Mech #2893 would be here as soon as she could call it in, the latest in a long line of identical war machines she had commanded, every bit as comfortable and powerful as its predecessor.

Keeping Hana in the game was a very expensive endeavor for Overwatch, but she knew she was more than worth it.

The expected gunshot tore through the air, rending the night in search of her, but Hana was no longer where she had been. Her athletic body twisted as she threw herself to the side, her chocolate-brown hair and snug blue bodysuit gleaming in the dancing flames as she spun and landed in a graceful crouch. Her eyes traced the telltale crimson trail of the bullet as its source crashed into the road and cracked the asphalt open, scanning, calculating...

There!

She caught only the barest glimpse of her assailant on the balcony above before the woman had ducked away, but the hint of pale blue skin had been enough for Hana to draw the obvious conclusion.

Widowmaker.

There was a dark history behind the cold-hearted sniper, a tragic tale of abduction and alteration and gut-wrenching loss, but Hana hadn't cared enough to listen during the mission briefing. All she had needed to know were the older woman's skills, her favored equipment, and how much attention and applause taking her down would net her. Hana was in this for the thrill of the hunt and the glory of victory, and even without her mech, she was no easy target.

~ ~ ~

She was an easy target.

Perhaps the girl had thought herself clever, predicting and evading the bullet that had been intended to take her life, but Widowmaker was far from impressed by the one who called herself "D.Va". Hana Song was no trained killer, but a competitive gamer drafted into service, a child who preferred to hide away inside her toys while those around her risked their lives. A fool playing at war.

The sniper's lip curled in disgust. Pathetic.

Song could not have been easier to pick out from the darkness, still standing close to the flaming ruins of her precious mech rather than taking refuge in the shadows, her garishly-colored bodysuit clinging to her every feminine curve in blue and pink and white. Widowmaker's keen eyes picked out tiny details that made even the unfeeling sniper want to retch - the pink whiskers painted against the girl's cheeks, the ridiculous cartoon rabbit plastered on the front of her garb, the long-eared ornament hanging from a chain at the butt of her pistol yet another sickeningly-cute allusion to the animal she so identified with.

She did not belong on the battlefield, but while she was here, she was a target to be eliminated.

Clenching her teeth, Widowmaker peered through the scope of her rifle, lining up her third and likely final shot. The stupid girl hadn't seen where she had gone, hadn't realized that she was still under threat, was still barely acting as if she were in a warzone. It would be so easy to slay her now, one bullet to her pretty forehead...

Too easy.

A swift, bitter sigh. It would be effortless to simply pull the trigger and put the girl out of her misery. Completely devoid of challenge. The thrill of the kill would not be there, not like it was when she was picking out a single target among many from hundreds of feet away, or bringing down a worthy opponent moments away from firing back on her.

No, when she killed Hana Song, it would be a clean shot through the carapace of her machine and body alike. A perfectly-orchestrated murder of both pilot and mech at once. A thing of beauty. This... no. Taking the easy shot and picking off the feckless rabbit would give Widowmaker nothing. Song was of little threat, and while taking lives was the only thing that reminded the sniper that she was still among the living herself, the simple kills no longer carried the same fulfillment that they once had.

Drawing her eye away from her rifle's sight, she began to lower her weapon, only for her eyes to freeze upon the black gauntlet sheathing her ice-blue-arm in metal.

The gears in her sadistic mind began to turn. Perhaps there was a way of making this interesting, after all.

~ ~ ~

Where'd she go?!

Scanning the crevices and balconies and alleyways of her urban surroundings, frantically searching for any telltale sign of her assailant and finding nothing, Hana felt her heart rate soar as the seconds crawled by in deafening silence.

The twisted maze of King's Row provided no end of convenient vantage points for a sniper to take advantage of, a dozen different angles from which she could be attacked without warning, and with every passing instant, the number of said points Widowmaker was able to reach only increased. She could be anywhere She could be painting a red dot on Hana's forehead right now.

Hana swallowed saliva and pride.

She did not like running from a fight, but she had enough tactical nous to know when her opponent had an advantage that could not be overcome. Retreat was the only safe option now, and she was already planning several steps ahead - she would need to find a safe place out of the open, summon a new mech to protect herself, then come back to claim the win she craved, shielded from the bullets that would otherwise kill her, draw her opponent out... no, the game was far from over. She'd only lost Round 1, and if there was one thing D.Va knew, it was how to make a comeback.

Above her, metal clicked against metal.

What...?

Lifting her startled gaze, the pilot barely had time to register the grappling hook and thin black cable tangled around the broken neon signage above her head before the cord began to whirr and shake, trying and failing to retract itself...

And bringing a blur of blue and black and purple cannoning across the street toward her.

A clawed metal boot hammered into the pilot's midsection from nowhere, the sheer brutal force of the blow sending her sprawling to the pavement in a heap, tumbling across the dirty flagstones. Her sickeningly pink pistol and pointed headphones skidded far out of reach, the breath torn from her lungs, the back and padded thigh of her suit tearing open to reveal milky skin scraped nearly raw.

"Bonsoir, mon chérie."

Throbbing pain radiating from her stomach, Hana curled her white-gloved hands into impotent fists against the pavement and forced her face upward, gritting her teeth in an effort to keep from groaning.

A multitude of gleaming red eyes met her gaze, staring back down at her through the darkness like some hellish alien spider. It took Hana a few dazed moments to realize that they were merely the French assassin's night-vision goggles, fitting motif or not, but the reality was barely less terrifying.

Widowmaker stood over her in judgment, her starved blue skin eerie in the dying light of the ruined mech behind her. Her violet bodysuit clung to her elegant form even more closely than Hana's pilot suit did to hers, the front split open to display a broad slice of cleavage, indigo hair trailing behind her back in a swaying ponytail. Black rope hung from a menacing gauntlet on her left arm, still spanning the distance from the assassin's arm to the signage above, the source of the grappling hook and the tension that had brought the callous woman flying in for the kill.

It was a kill that Hana didn't doubt was coming. Even now, the sniper rifle pointed at her skull twisted and snapped into a new formation, a machine gun taking form in Widowmaker's hand as if it had always been there.

If Hana had bothered to retain one piece of information about the French woman beyond her capabilities in combat, it was her reputation as a merciless, remorseless killer. Widowmaker would would think absolutely nothing of painting the cobblestones with Hana's blood. She would likely even enjoy it.

Panic swelled within her chest. She couldn't die here. She was only 19. Too young for death. Too young for this. Forgetting what the fans might think, she brought one hand slapping down onto her opposing wrist, smashing the button on her electronic bracelet over and over in a frenzy. She needed another mech. Now. Now.

Now now now now now!

But, nothing came.

Hana choked on a desperate breath.

The damned bracelet had failed her. It hadn't fully synched her location with the mech deployer yet. It had always been slow to do so, but she had always managed fine when her mech was taken out of the action, biding her time until she was able to call down another of her death machines and pick up where she left off. It was almost as automatic a process for her as it was for her mech and the the deployer that was supposed to send them.

This time, though... there was a glitch in the system, and it was going to get her killed. It was a miracle she wasn't dead already.

Fear, real, primal fear, took hold of the gamer-turned-pilot, turning her stomach and turning her shuddering breaths to gasps. No mech. No gun. No allies to bail her out. Just herself... and Widowmaker, one of the most feared killers in the world.

She had never been in a situation this bleak before. Never seen the barrel of a rifle pointed at her head from inches away. Never heard the grim chuckle of a sadistic killer as her finger tightened on the trigger.

She was going to die.

~ ~ ~
Widowmaker curled a soft blue lip in revulsion.

She had been right about the foolish Korean girl from the beginning. Song had been easy prey without her mech, even when Widowmaker had chosen to limit herself, as helpless as the rabbit motif she so favoured would suggest. Without her toy, she was nothing. Worthless.

"This is no place for children."

Her thick-accented tone dripping with disgust, Widowmaker raises her jagged boot into the air stamped her foot down on D.Va's wrist, grinding her arm into the flagstones. She screamed in pain, of course, her body twisting in feral instinct as her free hand fought to push the vicious boot away, but it wasn't the tears glimmering in her once-confident eyes or the agonized squeals flying from her throat that Widowmaker had been after... delicious though they were.

Beneath the harsh metal sole of the French woman's boot, D.Va's bracelet cracked, then shattered.

"Such a fragile thing."

Smiling serenely, she lifted her boot away, leaving the girl to cradle her tortured wrist against her shivering body. There would be no more mechs for the pitiful child now. She was on her own, and she knew it.

Yet when Song looked up at her, there was angry defiance among the terror and the tears.

It wasn't quite the confidence of the star pilot who could do no wrong, but it was no longer the desperate fear of a girl who was about to die. It was pride injured once too often, the fury of a girl expecting glory but receiving pain and humiliation, and wanting to take back her place at the top through bullets and blood.

Fool.

With a snap, the grappling hook Widowmaker had used to catapult herself across the street retracted back towards her gauntlet, tearing loose from the sign above and completing its journey without error this time. The cord within the device was thin and flexible, but extremely strong as well, above to support her weight easily. Perfect for her purposes.

Tonight, she would experiment with a new one.

~ ~ ~

Everything hurt.

Her arms, stretched high above her head, pulsed with aches as they strained to bear the weight of her body.

Her stomach burned from the impact of Widowmaker's acrobatic kick, the wrist the Frenchwoman had sought to crush beneath her heel hounded by spikes of pain.

Her scalp stung like crazy, a painful reminder of the way the sniper had twisted a hand into the girl's chocolate locks and hauled her into the alleyway by her hair, stumbling and whimpering.

Her pink-painted cheek still throbbed, stained by the angry red mark left behind by the back-handed slap she had been dealt to encourage her silent obedience.

It was her pride, however, which had suffered the cruelest blow of all.

Widowmaker was long gone now, disappearing into the night like a phantom, but while the assassin had chosen not to execute her on the spot after all, the Korean girl wasn't about to thank her for being merciful. She wasn't dead just yet, but even with Widowmaker absent from the scene, Hana's life still quite literally hung by a thread.

High above her head, her hands were bound to a rusted light fixture that had long ago ceased to function, leaving her hanging suspended from the ornate lamp like a carcass in a freezer, the entirety of her body weight borne by her straining arms alone. Thin black cord, once a part of Widowmaker's grappling hook, now cocooned her wrists tight against the metal fitting, rubbing and grating through her gloves, leaving her injured wrist as sore as if it were still being crushed beneath the Frenchwoman's metal heel. The remainder of her body dangled uselessly below, her feet hanging inches above the alley's dirty pavement, sore and aching all over but intact.

Pain was not something Hana was accustomed to. It was her mech that normally took the punishment in battle, not her body, and before that, the worst she had suffered had been the destruction of her computer-generated underlings on a screen in a battle that had never really mattered. It had back then, of course, but being beaten, held at gunpoint and strung up in an alley by her arms had a way of tinting one's perspective. She was trying to bear the discomfort with dignity, but while the competitive Korean girl didn't like admitting it, this was way out of her league. She was just a pilot, a gamer. She wasn't equipped to handle the pain, the helplessness, the disgrace...

The imminent threat of death, winking in the dark beneath her.

The venom mine Widowmaker had left behind to keep her company rested on the pavement on its six metal legs, the transparent tube of thick purple poison on its back flickering menacingly in the shadows mere inches below Hana's feet. It was inactive right now, with Hana hanging several feet above its sensor range, lying in wait for its prey like the spider it was designed to evoke...

But if she were to work herself free of the ropes holding her aloft, were the decrepit light fixture to which she was bound to finally give way beneath her weight, were a rat to scurry by...

The assassin's trap would trigger, the gas within would seep into the air, and Hana's life would end in a crescendo of choking gasps.

Her arms strained, crippled with aches, but she didn't dare to struggle for her freedom. The primal fear nesting within her chest demanded she squirm, kick, throw her weight against the lamp until it tore free from the wall, but the only way for her to go from here was down, and the moment she fell, her fate was sealed. She was trapped, just as Widowmaker had intended, like a cat playing with its food. Marked for death no matter what she did to escape it. Dare she dare even cry out for help? What if her pleas reached a comrade's ears, only for them to blunder into the alleyway and trigger the trap before she could stop them? Could she risk it?

Hana's brilliantly quick mind had always been able to lock down the best possible option in the shortest span of time, a skill that had made her an ace pilot and gamer alike, but whether it was a matter of pain and fear overriding her ability to think, or a genuine lack of viable possibilities, this time she was coming up with nothing. No clever escape routes, no possibility without a significant risk of death. Her wits had deserted her, or fate had.

Dark eyes stared down at the venom mine as if willing it to shut down, brown hair fanning over the flightsuit-hugged curves of her chest, her teeth gritting against the strain still wracking her stretching body. She couldn't take much more of this. Something had to give. The light fixture. Her arms. Her shallow tolerance for pain. Her fear of certain death, even if it meant risking triggering the nasty little trap anyway.

Would it work on her if she held her breath? She didn't know. Was it worth a try, if the alternative was to eventually set the thing off regardless? She didn't know that, either. Too many unknowns, too many risks, nothing she could calculate her way out of or hide from within her mech.

A trembling groan escaped from behind her tight-clenched teeth, resounding in the night. Whether the aches lancing through her muscles were worsening or whether her mind was playing sadistic tricks on her, Hana was nearing the end of her rope.

Her mind began to play her options back to her, one last time.

~ ~ ~

Nestled in a darkened nook half a block away, high above the cobbled streets of King's Row, a golden eye peered through the scope of her rifle, watching the girl squirm on her hook and the venom mine blink in the dark.

Widowmaker's violet lips curled into a cruel smile. One way or another, the girl would entertain her superior.

Chapter Text

Lightning/male OC, Serah, Lebreau, bondage, abduction, humiliation, requested, why did I upload this as number 14

The peaceful afternoon sky began to fade into the raging orange of evening.

"I'm telling you, Snow really isn't that bad." The chirping voice of Serah Farron filled the ears of her elder sister as they walked the streets of seaside Bodhum, a song of attempted persuasion intimately familiar to both women. Despite the passing of her eighteenth birthday, it remained the younger Farron girl's primary means of getting what she wanted and she showed no signs of growing out of it anytime soon.

Her sister snorted; her demeanor was a very different matter. Claire Farron, known increasingly often by her callsign "Lightning", had little time for the childish remnants of their past. She loved her younger sister dearly and cherished her innocence and cheerful nature, but she had been thrust into adulthood by tragic circumstances all too soon, and her sometimes abrupt manner had grown from the responsibilities she had shouldered over the last few years. Responsibility for Serah's welfare, for the safety of the town of Bodhum in her job as a military officer... these weights had crushed the childishness from her over time, and what remained was a stoic, sometimes tactless young adult.

Despite their differences the two women were very similar in appearance, with the same dull pink hair, the same crystal-blue eyes, similar features and slender forms. Lightning was taller than Serah, and years of stress and worry had given her a more dour look to her younger sister. Her brusque military uniform made her only appear even more unapproachable to those who did not know her, all leather and pouches, her faithful gunblade ever in its holster at her hip. By contrast, Serah's carefree manner of dress and matching personality endeared her to most people she met.

"He's a fool, Serah." Lightning's statement came out a lot more irritated than she had planned for, and she sighed to herself as her sister's gaze lowered. "Snow might seem a nice guy, but he's a hotheaded imbecile," she went on against her better judgment, letting loose her frustrations. "And he might think he's a hero, but he's putting himself and others in danger with his antics. He should leave the monster hunting to the army, and you should stay away from him."

"Like you'd know anything about boys," Serah mumbled as she trailed behind her sister, bitterness creeping into her voice. "You haven't had a boyfriend since you were fourteen! Six years, Claire! Nearly seven!"

Lightning sighed and let that one go. What she said was true, but she didn't care as much about that sort of thing as Serah did. She had more important things to do with her life than moon over muscle-bound halfwits like Snow Villiers, like making sure they both had a roof over their heads and food to eat.

She bit her tongue and turned into a side street with her sister close behind, counting the houses as they approached the home they shared. She was tired from a day of patrolling the streets; Serah could cook dinner tonight, she decided.

They finally came to a stop outside the cerulean domes of Lightning's seaside home, paid for by her impressive military salary. As Lightning searched the pockets of her uniform for her keys, Serah watched her sister's face closely for any sign of emotion. Whenever she went quiet like this, Serah worried that she was angry or hurt. But Lightning offered no hint of her thoughts, instead pulling the door open and stepping inside the house. A disappointed Serah followed, closing the door behind her, and they ascended the entry staircase towards the living room, both relieved to be home.

That relief died the moment they heard the click of a loaded gun. An intruder stepped from the shadows and into the center of the living room, pointing the barrel of a heavy rifle toward the sisters.

It was difficult to discern details about him or her, though the appearance was very familiar to both of them; the figure was covered head to toe in the midnight-black armor of a soldier of PSICOM, the most feared military unit in all of Cocoon. Heavy metal shoulder-plates and greaves stood out amidst the leather and thick iron-reinforced cloth that made up most of the outfit, a large leather bag hung from its shoulder, and a bug-eyed helmet topped off the ensemble, obscuring the identity of its wearer completely.

Both sisters froze at the sight of the intruder and the menacing weapon held in their arms. Lightning recognized the model in an eyeblink; it was an older weapon, not commonly used by the army, but still able to rain bullets upon them at the press of the trigger. Unlike the terror-struck Serah, Lightning's hand instinctively began to creep towards her waist, ever so slowly, seeking the gunblade holstered upon her belt, hoping to be discreet enough not to draw attention.

"Don't even think about it, Claire Farron." The voice that emerged from beneath the intruder's helmet was flat and robotic, with a faint hiss at the end of the final word. A voice synthesizer, Lightning realized, distorting the wearer's speech to hide their identity, even their gender. It wasn't standard equip for even PSICOM...

Understanding that she was out of choices, Lightning obeyed and allowed her arm to drop to her side. There would be other opportunities to strike, but only if they survived. "What do you want?" she demanded, edging her body slightly in front of Serah's. She would put her sister's safety first, as she always did. "You're not PSICOM, are you?"

"Who I am doesn't matter, Sergeant Farron." The figure motioned at Serah with the muzzle of the rifle. "Wasn't expecting the sister to be back yet, but I'll put you to work. Go over to the Sergeant and take off her belt and holster. Hurry up."

Serah looked to her sister, her eyes wide and frightened. Lightning's gaze met hers, and the elder Farron gave a grudging nod. "Do as he says, Serah."

Only a little less apprehensive with Lightning's approval, Serah knelt beside her sister and fumbled with the buckle of her belt, her fingers repeatedly slipping as her nerves began to conquer her. On the fourth try she finally mastered the metal clasp, tugging it open and pulling the entire belt away from her sister's hips, holster and gunblade included. Lightning winced as she was disarmed, but there was nothing she could do about it with the armored figure's gun aimed squarely at Serah.

"Excellent. Now, go over to that window, and throw it outside. No funny business from either of you." Their antagonist gestured this time with their head rather than their weapon, still keeping the latter trained on the younger Farron sister. Serah gulped and nodded, approaching the indicated window and pushing it open. The sound of lapping waves filled the room; the house was situated directly over the beachfront, after all. Anything dropped out of here would fall several meters directly into the shallows, well beyond Serah's reach.

"I said hurry it up." Even with their voice mangled by the voice synthesizer, it was clear that the armored figure was unimpressed by the delay. "Toss it out and get back over here."

Serah immediately obeyed, leaning out of the window and dropping Lightning's belt and weapon into the shallow waters below with a dull splash. She had hoped to see somebody out there swimming or surfing that she could signal for help, but there was not a single person in sight. Swallowing nervously, she pulled herself back into the house and closed the window before returning to stand beside her sister once more, biting her lip and staring at her feet.

By now, even Lightning was getting worried about their situation. If she were alone with the intruder she would risk her own life to take them down in a heartbeat even without a weapon, putting years of military training to use, but putting Serah in danger was another matter entirely. "What is it you want?" she demanded again, her impatience leaking into her tensed voice. Being disarmed had not improved her temperament.

"What I want is for you to shut up and do what I tell you," came the rasping reply, still mechanically devoid of emotion. The officer shrugged off the leather bag they had carried and tossed it to the floor between them and the sisters. Metal clanked on metal as it landed, and Lightning found herself staring at it, wondering just what was inside. Whatever it was, it was likely not good for them.

"All right, little girl, time for your next orders." The obscuring helmet again regarded Serah. "Go over to the bag and open it. Quick now."

Serah nodded meekly and hastened to obey the commands she was given. Dropping to her knees, she unclipped the twin plastic clasps on the outside of the bag and pulled open the flap, then peered inside to see what their captor intended her to see.

"Oh no..." she moaned as the contents of the bag were revealed to her fearful eyes. Lengths of rope, rolls of duct tape, several sets of gleaming metal handcuffs. It had become obvious to the younger Farron what was going to happen to them, and she could barely control the fear that roiled inside her stomach. She hadn't been tied up since the games she and her sister had played as children, and it had been bad enough when all they had to use were sheets and skipping ropes, and all she had to fear was Claire.

"Take out the handcuffs. Three sets." This latest order confused Serah as much as it frightened her. Three sets? Why would she need three? Still, she obediently removed three pairs of handcuffs from the bag, leaving one more set inside, and held them up so that their captor could see. She couldn't bear to look at the PSICOM officer.

"Very good, the little sister can count." The sting of the harsh words was amplified by the crackling monotone with which they were spoken. "All right, go over to big sis now. As for you, Sergeant Farron, I want you on your knees. Hands behind your back."

Already the pragmatic mind of Lightning had worked out exactly what was about to happen, and the thought of her freedom being taken made her blood run cold. She was the type of person who would rather die than surrender, who would fight to her last breath rather than admit defeat. Her pride had carried her through much of her adult life, her savior and her most potent weapon. To simply let herself be restrained without a fight before a single opponent was unthinkable.

Yet she had no choice. It was not just her life at stake this time.

The only thing she could do was follow the orders she had been given, as she always did in her life as a soldier. At the commands of their captor Lightning knelt and slipped her hands behind her back and tried not to wince as Serah slipped a cold metal cuff around her wrist, clicking as it locked in place.

"Sorry, Claire," Serah whispered sorrowfully as she repeated the procedure with her elder sister's other hand. The cuff closed around her, digging into her wrist as the sound of the metal catch snapping shut resonated in her ears. In moments her hands were firmly chained together behind her back, useless to her, and she would quickly discover that the handcuffs were simply too strong to break, too tight to wriggle out of. Military models, most likely.

More orders, interspersed by crackling static from the voice synthesizer. At their captor's bidding Serah was made to unlace her sister's heavy leather army boots and pull them from her feet. The abominable stench of several days worth of sweat floated around her nose as Lightning's socks were uncovered; Serah tried to ignore the reek and left them on her, holding her breath as she used her second pair of handcuffs to lock the kneeling Lightning's ankles together beneath her.

"Almost finished," hissed their captor, a reassurance that failed to lighten the hearts of either of the sisters. "Cuff the chain on her wrists to the chain on her ankles, and we'll call it done."

Serah gulped as she followed this latest command, locking together the two pairs of handcuffs restraining her sister's limbs with the third pair. Lightning grunted in discomfort as her body was forced to contort and she was trapped in her tight kneeling position, unable to rise or lie down, her hands chained behind her back, her arms stretched downward to meet the cuffs linking her ankles. It was an extremely uncomfortable posture to be restrained in, leaving the fuming soldier with fiercely aching shoulder muscles and no way to move around at all.

She bit her lip, forcing herself not to spit curses or hurl insults at their captor. She couldn't risk Serah being hurt. If only she had come home before her sister, she could have faced this intruder on her own terms, one on one, warrior to warrior. If only Serah had been late...

"Alright, come over here, girl. Bring the bag." Once again the armoured figure addressed Serah; they had barely even spoken to Lightning through the ordeal. Serah looked to her chained sister in alarm, her eyes wide; she knew what was coming next, and it tied her stomach in knots to think about it. Lightning gave a curt nod in return, the only thing she could do for her sibling. "Do it, Serah."

Her fate was sealed. With the pale, shaken look of a girl marching to her own execution Serah approached their masked captor, the bag full of bindings in her trembling hands. These were her last few moments of freedom for who knew how long. Maybe ever.

There were no longer any demands, only silent commands as the masked intruder took the bag from Serah and wordlessly guided her across the room toward a simple metal stool with a rising back of barred iron. There was no way that Serah could forget about the menace of the rifle in her captor's grip for a moment, so the nerve-wracked girl allowed herself to be seated and let her arms be tugged behind the chair, her hands positioned together. She didn't resist as the metal cuffs clicked shut around her wrists, the chain running through the bars of the backrest to bind her securely to the chair.

By now the mysterious intruder had run out of handcuffs, having used three of the four sets to restrain the elder Farron sister. Serah did not dare to breathe easier however, having seen the rest of the items inside that leather bag, and she was quickly proven right. Their captor withdrew a roll of black tape from within and immediately began to apply the end to Serah's left ankle, wrapping it around her own leg and the leg of the chair, binding the two together. One layer of tape, then two, then three...

Serah winced as she felt the powerful glue take hold of her bare skin, pressing her calf into the cold iron of the chair leg. She recognised the military-grade tape from the workshop of Snow's gang; it was the type used in repairing army machinery, sealing metal to metal, not the common household variety. If the pounding of a heavy artillery cannon couldn't shake the grip of this tape, she knew she wouldn't be getting free of it easily; it would be hell to get out of even if she didn't have to worry about the unyielding handcuffs around her wrists...

It took barely a minute to tape both of Serah's ankles to the opposite chair legs, rendering her as helpless as her chained sister. Their captor stood, looking down on the younger Farron sister through the cold spherical eye-shields of the helmet. "As pretty as a picture," the figure murmured, the crackles of static through the synthesizer less pronounced than usual. "I believe your file said you were over eighteen, am I right? We could have some fun before I leave. Big sister can watch..."

"Leave her alone!" Lightning roared, shedding the role of the silent prisoner that had never quite fit. She pulled at the chains binding her limbs together behind her with all of her might, but all she achieved was creating a cacophony of metal clanging against metal, the hard-edged cuffs biting into her wrists and ankles as a punishment for her foolishness.This, however, did not soften her rage. "You leave my sister alone or I swear I'll kill you."

"Is that so?" The PSICOM soldier's words cracked like a whip as their head came up to stare at Lightning, as if they had forgotten about the elder sister until she spoke. "You should keep your damned mouth shut, and speak when you're spoken to."

"Don't act like you're above me," Lightning snapped, not allowing herself to be cowed despite her situation. "You couldn't face me without threatening my sister with a gun. You're a coward. You're weak."

The intruder's fists clenched, then unclenched, and the sisters could hear a deep indrawn breath behind the helmet followed by an exhalation. "I told you to keep your mouth shut, but you wouldn't listen," they said slowly, carefully. "I'll make you wish you had."

Without warning, a gloved hand darted downward and under the lacy hem of Serah's skirt, diving between her thighs. Ignoring her cry of horrified alarm and Lightning's growl of anger, the intruder slipped their hand into the waistband of Serah's periwinkle-blue panties and tugged them down her legs. When they reached her knees, the intruder gave an almighty yank, tearing the ruined undergarments away from Serah's body.

Serah breathed a sigh of relief as her captor declined to follow up, instead picking up the leather bag and moving across the room to Lightning. The elder Farron, however, could see what was coming and set her jaw, her aquamarine eyes flickering with anger. "Don't you dare."

This final defiance from the defeated soldier was brushed aside, just like all of the rest. The nameless antagonist knelt down and prised Lightning's teeth open with leather-wrapped fingers, held her jaw wide open for a lingering moment, and then shoved her sister's shredded panties deep into her mouth. Lightning immediately began heaving, trying to push the undergarments back out with her tongue, but her opponent was too fast. A heavy strip of tape was pulled off of the roll and slapped across her mouth, immediately adhering to her cheeks and sealing her lips closed.

Lightning bridled as the sickeningly sweet smell of the glue on the tape began to pervade her nostrils and groaned in protest at her new gag, the sound of her furious voice muffled by the cloth filling her jaw. Unable to breathe through her plastered mouth she was forced to inhale through her nostrils, but this meant taking in the cloying scent from the powerful adhesive as well as precious oxygen. Already she was beginning to become light-headed, the fight draining from her...

"Not so tough now, Sergeant?" The mocking words carried their full payload of blistering scorn despite their passage through the voice synthesiser. "We're almost ready to go, you and I. Got a buyer who's going to be very happy to meet an officer of the Guardian Corps. But first... I've got to make sure your dear little sister stays quiet as well."

Chained to her chair and facing in the opposite direction, Serah could only hear the words that passed between Lightning and their captor. Therefore, she was unable to witness the apparent PSICOM agent removing the fetid, sweat-soaked socks from the elder Farron's feet and rolling them into a ball. They had once been white, but now approached a shade of greyish green and smelled as if they had been on Lightning's feet for days. Which they had.

Wincing in sympathy for her sister, the now barefoot Lightning could only watch as the anonymous intruder returned to Serah's side and held the fragrant socks to the younger sister's lips. "No! Not those!" she cried, turning her head away as her voice cracked with disgust, but she could not escape her fate for long. The socks were forced between her lips, pressing down her tongue and filling her mouth with the most vile taste Serah had ever experienced. As she coughed and spluttered and tried to accustom her mouth to its new tenant, her captor tore off another strip of tape and pressed it firmly across Serah's face, smoothing it down over her lips and cheeks. The extra-strength glue would make it impossible to dislodge on her own, and would hurt like hell when she finally found somebody to remove it for her.

"Now you each have something to remember each other by," commented their evil antagonist as they peeled off one final strip of tape, leaning back towards Serah's face. "I suggest you close your peepers," they said, giving the girl only a handful of seconds to comply before the tape was unceremoniously plastered over her eyes and the bridge of her nose, sealing her into darkness.

"Nrrrh!" Serah's pleas for mercy were mangled by the socks crammed into her mouth, but either way it fell on deaf ears. The armored figure rose and collected its bag from the floor, slipping the nearly-expended roll of mechanical tape inside. "It's been fun, little sis, but I've got to take big sis away now," they told her, moving back over to the elder Farron. "My vehicle is waiting outside, Sergeant. You should say goodbye to your sister. ...Oh, what's that? You are having trouble speaking?"

The only response they would receive was a hateful glare from Lightning, carrying hints of the violence she would inflict on this creature were she to be freed. Chained and gagged, her sister's sodden underwear in her mouth, she was in no position to resist as her abductor began to move her towards the side exit, and into the personal aircraft they had mentioned. From here, her fate was in another's hands, and Lightning hated that most of all.

The door clicked shut, and Serah was alone in the home she shared with her sister. Blindfolded and secured to the metal chair with handcuffs and tape, the younger Farron sister began to weep broken tears. The taste of her sibling's socks in her mouth was mixing with the scent of the glue on her gag and her blindfold, muddling her mind and making her lightheaded.

Her last thought before she passed out was a dazed wish that she were able to close her legs, as with her panties missing, her eventual rescuer would be in for quite a view...

~ ~ ~

The holding cell was dark, cramped and unbearably hot, the nearby engines of the kidnapper's aircraft filling her world with a deafening rumble as they carried the ship through the skies of Cocoon.

Lightning snarled her growing frustration into the wadded panties taped inside her mouth, her furious howls muffled by the degrading gag. The young sergeant had been locked in the uncomfortable cell for what seemed like hours, still bound in the handcuffs that circled her ankles and wrists, and she had made no progress in freeing herself since she had been thrown inside. Even in the absence of the third pair of handcuffs that had kept her hunched over during her abduction, there was little hope of breaking free on her own. She was disgusted by her own helplessness.

There was one small mercy to be savored; she could no longer taste her sister on the sodden undergarments that served to silence her. The disgusting flavor had long since been drowned by her saliva as she worked her jaw against the clinging tape that sealed her lips.

At least Serah was comparatively safe, she mulled as she rolled her way to the far wall of the cell, as far from the sound and fury of the engines as she could manage. The masked intruder had left the younger Farron girl at home, tied to a chair but relatively unharmed. Lightning by contrast remained a prisoner on board her captor's aircraft, headed to an unknown destination for an unknown reason. Better her than her sister, she admitted to herself.

But who would be bold enough to abduct a member of the elite Guardian Corps from her own home? And why? She could not keep her mind off of these mysteries, for they held the key to her fate. There was little else she could do but think; the stifling heat was sapping her dwindling energy, leaving her sluggish and struggling even to think straight.

Perhaps the holding cell had been placed so close to the engines on purpose, Lightning mused as her mind slipped towards an unwilling slumber...

~ ~ ~

She awoke to find her captor standing over her.

The door was open, shedding a pittance of light upon the cell and its occupants. Lightning studied her abductor, analyzing for weak spots out of habit. He still wore much of the same military gear as before, though enough had been shed that she could discern the shape of a man beneath the armor. One mystery solved, but his face remained obscured by the PSICOM helmet she knew so well.

Her ailing body had begun to recover its lost strength; she tensed to strike but found her wrists and ankles still bound in heavy chains, leaving her as infuriatingly helpless as ever. Her gag had not been removed either, she noted with renewed disgust as her senses slowly returned to her. How long did this sick bastard mean to keep her chewing on her sister's underwear?

While her bindings remained in place, the captive soldier began to realize that she had been liberated of many other things as she slept. Most of her uniform was gone, leaving her in only her tight-fitting undergarments; a thigh-length pair of black shorts and an olive-green camisole that showed off too much of her chest. He had stripped her while she slept, from her jacket to her cape to the pauldron that indicated her rank. Her skin crawled at the thought of being touched so intimately. What else had the evil bastard done to her while she was unconscious?

It could have been worse, she told herself as she tried to contain her anger at this trespass. She could have been stripped completely.

The masked figure knelt by her side, staring down at her through the soulless orbs of the helmet's visor. Lightning glared right back at him, refusing to show any fear despite the very real alarm she felt within. I surrendered to save my sister, she would have shouted had she been able to speak, not because I'm afraid of you.

To her surprise, he leaned in close and tore away the strip of thick tape that had sealed her lips closed, drawing a stifled cry of pain from the furious woman. It felt as if it must have ripped away her lips and cheeks, so powerful was the adhesive, but her face remained intact despite the lingering sting that ravaged her skin. Damn, it had hurt.

She resisted the urge to bite down as a gloved finger scooped the sodden panties from her mouth, the sight of the saliva-drenched underwear reminding her of her poor little sister. Sucking in a lungful of air through her newly unrestricted airway, she gave the masked figure a withering glare of utter contempt. "Made you feel big, did it? Tying up an innocent girl who couldn't fight back?"

The figure chuckled, any emotion in the laughter crushed by the helmet's voice synthesizer. "Are you referring to yourself or your sister, Sergeant Farron?"

Lighting's hands tensed into fists behind her back, blood rushing to her cheeks. How she longed to put this coward in his place. She didn't need her lost gunblade or any other weapon, just her fists and a little more freedom. "Too afraid to fight me on even ground, huh?" she spat, her disgust trickling into her furious tone. "Who are you? What do you want with me?"

The masked one ignored her insults, rising back to his full height and staring down at her. "If you must call me by a name, Omicron will serve. You are not the only one who can hide their name behind a callsign... Claire."

The use of her birth name infuriated the helpless soldier. After years of going by Lightning to everyone but Serah, it felt like another violation. "Hiding your name, hiding your face, hiding behind my sister... are you that afraid of me? No wonder you had to chain me up."

More distorted laughter behind the helmet. Lightning grimaced; she had hoped to needle him, even if it got her gagged again. Anything to feel as if she could defy him, no matter how small the act.

"I do not fear you." he snapped, as if the very idea was absurd. "I am merely prudent. I am confident that I could defeat you in single combat should it come to that, despite your considerable skill...but in my business it pays to be sure. As to the mask, it provides several interesting functions aside from protecting my identity... for example, its sensors detect that you are frightened of me, despite your tiresome bravado."

Lightning scowled. Of course she feared him, as long as she was bound and he was free to harm her. "You want to know how scared I am, just take these damn cuffs off me. I'll be glad to show you."

"You are right to be afraid, of course." Omicron continued as if she hadn't interrupted, ignoring her demand to be freed. "My master is paying me a fortune to bring you in, and once I do you'll never see your home or your sister again. I hear you get used to it, though."

"Used to what?" Asking him for more information felt a little too much like begging, but it was a little late to worry about injured pride.

Another crackling chuckle from behind the mask. "If you want to hear more, Sergeant Farron, you'll have to do me a small favor." He reached to a pouch at the rear of his belt and produced an item that was certainly not military-issue: a solid rubber sphere, as black as the leather strap that ran through the center. Slver buckles gleamed ominously in the cell's dim light. "Now, one way or another this is going inside your mouth. We both know you can't stop me, and I guarantee it tastes better than little sister's underwear. You can make this easy or force me to do it the hard way, but if you're a good girl I'll tell you why all this is happening to you. Deal?"

She glared up at her cruel captor, burning with hatred. He was right; chained like this, she couldn't resist him. He was trying to humiliate her even further and she bridled at the suggestion that she should surrender the last of her freedom of her own free will... yet her time in the military had taught her the value of gathering intelligence, and refusing him would cede her no advantage but a shred of her tattered pride. "Fine," she growled bitterly, letting her mouth slide open.

"Wise girl." Kneeling beside her, Omicron wasted no time in pressing the ball between her lips. Lightning groaned in discomfort as it slipped into her mouth, flooding her taste buds with the flavor of rubber, its width forcing her jaw to lock open around it. Tight leather tugged at the corners of her mouth as her captor pulled the straps behind her head and buckled them in place, gates locked shut around her freedom to speak. The loathsome thing reduced her every sound to a muffled whimper, producing more drool than words when she tried to communicate. Already she regretted her choice.

"Now for storytime. You'll forgive me if I won't be answering any follow-up questions you may have." He was grinning behind his mask, though none would ever know it. "My client is a certain officer within PSICOM, though this isn't what you might call an authorised mission. Think of it as a side project for a very ambitious lady. It falls to me to bring her what she wants, and what she wants is you, Sergeant Farron."

She grunted into her gag, her frost-blue eyes widening ever so slightly. That doesn't make sense. Why me?

Whether he understood her confusion or not, Omicron explained further with his next words. "She wants warriors. The best of the best. I'm not clear on all the details and I don't want to be, but I get the idea you're going to be a test subject. Something about making super soldiers. You're not the first, mind you. I've captured four soldiers for her before you, and I don't think I'm the only one she's paying to do this stuff, either."

He shrugged, climbing back to his feet and making for the door. "Not that it's my concern. The pay's fantastic. Now you just sit tight for another hour or so while I fly us over there, and then you can find out all about it first-hand. Enjoy the trip."

The door snapped shut behind him with a mechanical hiss, cutting off the only source of light in the dismal cell. Lightning was left to languish in the dark alone, no closer to breaking her bonds, no closer to escaping her plight. She knew now why she had been taken and where she was headed, but the information did little to ease her fears.

Chained at hand and foot, the repulsive gag filling and sealing her mouth, the stoic soldier could do nothing but try to make herself as comfortable as possible on the warming steel floor of her prison. The shuddering awakening of the craft's engines started to heat the air around her once again; resigned to her fate, Lightning slumped and allowed her eyes to flutter closed. At least Serah was safe... compared to her unfortunate sister.

~ ~ ~

Night had long since fallen across seaside Bodhum, the sky above the tourist town sparkling with millions of artificial stars.

The dark-haired woman muttered to herself as she traversed the quiet streets, almost glad to be away from her beachside cafe and its patrons beyond counting. Her headache was easing but Lebreau's mood had grown sour as the hands of the clock crept towards midnight. It had been an hour since the time the beautiful young woman had planned to get together with her friend Serah, but there had been no sign of the other girl. Not so much as a call.

Another night she might have shrugged and gone back to serving her customers, but Lebreau had been in a bad mood since an argument with one of her comrades earlier in the day. She had been looking forward to the chance to relax with her friend, and Serah's unexplained absence had pushed her annoyance to the limit. It was time for an explanation, and it would need to be a good one if Serah was to escape her wrath.

Finally, she arrived at the house Serah shared with her grumpy elder sister. Lebreau took a deep breath, both to steady herself and to prepare for the yelling she planned to do, and knocked on the front door.

Brown eyes blinked in confusion as the door creaked open at her touch. This wasn't right. Claire Farron - Lightning, she mentally corrected herself - was a cautious woman and would never allow the door to be left open like this, especially at night. Something was wrong here.

Lebreau stepped through the door and into the house, scanning the interior, wishing that she had brought her gun with her. The sisters' home was devoid of light and sound, as lifeless as a tomb, sending a shiver down her spine as she climbed the entry staircase toward the living room. Where were they? Had something happened to them?

Her hand found the light switch at last, and she flicked it upward with a sigh of relief. Glass bulbs set into the roof burst to life and illuminated the room, the brightness forcing Lebreau to shield her eyes for a moment as they adjusted to the glare. When she lowered her arm to take in her surroundings, her heart lurched in her chest.

The petite figure Serah was seated in a chair at the far side of the room, bound to the seat by handcuffs and thick black tape. More strips of the tape were plastered across her pretty face, sealing her mouth closed, blinding her as well in an unnecessary act of cruelty. She was breathing, to Lebreau's intense relief, but she didn't seem to be conscious.

Lebreau didn't waste a second, racing to her captive friend and kneeling beside the chair that held her prisoner. There was no immediate sign that Serah was injured, and her attention quickly turned to getting Serah out of her bindings as swiftly as possible. A key to the handcuffs around the girl's wrists was nowhere to be found; Lebreau made a mental note to break them later if no alternative presented itself. Scooting around to the front of the seat, she slipped her fingernails to the edge of the tape that pinned her leg to the chair's...

She glanced upwards, once, and immediately returned her eyes to her work, her cheeks burning with embarrassment. Serah's short plaid skirt covered very little of her thighs, and the view of her crotch attested that the younger Farron sister hadn't worn underwear today. At least, Lebreau hoped that she hadn't; it was possible that they had been taken from her, and if they had who knew what else her captor had done to her?

~ ~ ~

When Serah's eyes finally opened, she found herself lying on her own bed with the familiar faces of Snow and Lebreau watching over her.

For a moment the younger Farron girl dared to imagine that the whole ordeal had been a dream, but the intensity of the burning sensations upon her ankles and her face soon laid ruin to such optimistic thoughts. The heavy tape that had bound, gagged and blinded her was gone, removed from her body while she slept, but the pain of strong glue torn from soft skin lingered to torment her. Her wrists were mercifully free of the handcuffs that had chained her to the chair. The nightmare was over.

...But where was Claire?

Her lover and her friend had no answers for her. Snow was protective and Lebreau was supportive as Serah haltingly relayed the tale of how she came to be a prisoner in her own home, finishing with the abduction of her beloved sister by the masked intruder. There had been no sign of Claire anywhere in the house, Snow reported grimly. No sign of who had taken her. No sign of where she had gone.

Lightning was lost to them.

~ ~ ~

This time it was the deafening whine of engines closing down that tore Lightning out of her uneasy slumber.

Her training would have served her well in other circumstances; her body snapped into action of its own accord, driven purely by instinct, her hand diving toward her holstered gunblade as she tensed to leap to her feet. Tonight, however, she was brought crashing back to reality by the jingling of chains as she found her hands still cuffed together behind her back.

Her ankles remained likewise chained, she discovered as she struggled in the darkness of her cell. Her frustrated growl was mangled by the rubber ball still holding her jaw wide open, and she cringed as she felt another wave of drool welling inside her mouth. Her cheeks burned with renewed humiliation at her plight; it was a stain on her pride she would not soon forget, even if nobody else was around to witness her shame.

The solitude could not last. Soon enough her captor had returned to the cell, opening the door and bringing dull but welcome light to the dismal quarters.

Omicron still wore the armor and helmet of a PSICOM soldier, she noted, his identity still shielded from Lightning's eyes by the ominous headgear. Not that it mattered, she had to admit, for knowing what he looked like under his guise would hardly loosen her bonds or provide her a weapon. For the moment all she could do was glare up at him, straining to draw breath through her nostrils as she waited for him to speak. He held all of the cards.

Yet it seemed that he had nothing to say to her this time. For almost a full minute he simply stared back down at Lightning, running his vizored gaze over her exposed body and taking in the sensual sights. Clad only in the skin-tight shorts and skimpy camisole he had stripped her down to, she could almost feel his lecherous stare making its way over her slender legs and the curves of her hips, climbing steadily to her half-uncovered bosom. It made her almost ill with disgust to be so powerless to hide herself from his greedy eyes. Self-conscious and prudish, she was unused to sharing her body with others.

If only he'd take these damn cuffs off me, I'd give him something to look at.

It was not to be so simple. Her freedom was the last thing on her captor's mind as he knelt beside her prone form, his hand dropping to a pouch on his belt and withdrawing a generous length of black cloth. Unfolding the shimmering scarf before Lightning's ice-blue eyes, he wasted little time in blinding her with the silken fabric, methodically wrapping it several times around her head before knotting it severely it in the back. She bit back a moan of dismay as he tied it off, unwilling to give him the pleasure of knowing just how much the loss of her sight daunted her.

Still he was not finished. Metal jingled in the dark, somewhere close by, and Lightning groaned to herself in miserable anticipation. Not more chains. How much more tightly could he bind her? She was already completely helpless, as much as she hated to admit it, and the idea of being further restrained just for her host's sick amusement rekindled her weakening anger. She was not his toy.

Cold metal closed about her throat with a resounding clack.

It was a collar. He had collared her.

Humiliation quickly gave way to seething rage. This was a step too far, a shame she could not stand. Her head told her to accept this disgrace as she had all of the others, but her pride demanded an immediate end to this degradation, one last effort against all odds to free herself. One last chance to tear her captor's throat out in retribution.

Gagged and blindfolded, chained and collared like some wild animal from the world below, the stubborn soldier had still not given up on herself. Her will was too strong to shatter in the face of one man.

In one violent moment, every emotion she had hidden behind a wall of stoic indifference over the years was unleashed. Thrashing against her thick steel bonds with all of her might, Lightning gave in to a tide of incandescent anger and howled her fury into her gag. Every frustration, every annoyance, every hatred was released, surging through the soldier's body like electricity. A cacophony of clinking metal erupted as her limbs struggled against their chains, pulling and twisting, straining to break free. Her screams increased in force and ferocity, heedless of the rubber ball that smothered her voice and locked her jaw wide open.

Every inch of her body was afire with defiance, but it was all for naught.

By the time she expended the last dregs of her energy, all Lightning had earned was a painfully raw throat and the ache of metal cutting into her flesh. Her chains were far beyond her strength to break, she was forced to concede as her sweat-slick body slumped back to the floor, panting heavily through her nose and trying to ignore her throbbing body.

She had lost.

"Hope you've got that out of your system, Sergeant." Omicron's distorted voice crackled in her ears, callously mocking her efforts. "It's time for you to meet your new boss. On your feet."

Lightning grunted weakly, her body still. Between the toll of her exertion and the handcuffs restricting her limbs, how was she supposed to obey? She had just proven to him how little she could move, and now he wanted her to stand? It was beyond her.

"I told you to get up." The reprimand was punctuated by a jolt of pain as her collar jerked against her neck, seemingly of its own accord. It took her clouded mind a moment to realize that she had been not only collared, but leashed as well, accounting for the chain that she had heard clinking earlier. Daggers of shame stabbed at her heart. Just when she thought she had reached the depths of her degradation, there was another level waiting to prove her wrong.

The pressure around her throat grew more insistent by the second. Struggling not to choke, she had no choice but to obey his demands and force her weary muscles into action. Capitalizing on the leverage from being hauled up by the chain, Lightning rose haltingly to her knees, then at last to her feet, staggering as she accustomed herself to her new position. With her arms still chained behind her, falling would have proven a painful experience.

"Good girl." Omicron's helmet and her blindfold conspired to obscure his face from her sight, but she was certain that her kidnapper was wearing a triumphant smirk. He gave her leash another tug, drawing a pained gasp from the defeated soldier and pulling her forward. "It's time to get out of here. I'm sure such a highly-trained warrior will have no problem following my lead, even with her eyes covered. Just remember to watch your step."

Hauled along by her collar, Lightning had no choice but to stumble out of her cell in her captor's wake. Blinded and hobbled by her cruel bindings, the veteran soldier found herself able to take only take pitifully small steps, shuffling along behind him like a willful puppy. By the third time she bumped painfully against a jutting piece of the ship's interior, all that was keeping her going was the fear of what would happen if she fell. Would he choke her until she stood? Drag her across the floor?

...Fear? She cursed to herself as she took another halting step, then another, pulled ever onward into the dark. She was truly afraid of what was going to happen to her. Her bravado was now but a wavering shadow of its former self. Even after all of her seemingly endless training to protect herself, to protect her sister, she had become little more than a pliant prisoner. Her strength and her will meant nothing.

~ ~ ~

Cold air teased Lightning's exposed skin as she stepped outside of Omicron's aircraft, rounded gravel crunching beneath her bare feet. She still could not see, but she could smell the scent of soil and trees and hear the sounds of rustling leaves and crackling branches. There was no doubt in her mind that she had been taken to the woods... but that information was of little help to her. There were many woodlands in Cocoon, and this could be any one of them.

Omicron knew that they stood within the bounds of the Sunleth Waterscape, a supposedly protected nature reserve far from seaside Bodhum, but he would never divulge this information to Lightning. His contract with PSICOM, or at least with one of its officers, had been very clear on the need to conceal their location from the captives he brought her. There was little chance he would purposefully jeopardize his paycheck after the trouble he had gone to and the risks he had run. No, Claire Farron would just have to wonder.

Ahead of them stood her final destination, the metallic dome known to Omicron as Facility S-63. Even he had never been inside its walls, for there was usually a welcoming committee of armed guards waiting to take his latest captive from his custody and hand him his payment. All he knew of what lay within was that it was a research facility, founded in secret for experimentation on capable humans. They were trying to create super soldiers, the overly talkative guard had said, men and women with capabilities surpassing normal humans. Few lived through the process.

At least the high mortality rate kept him in a job, Omicron told himself as he hauled on the leash once more, forcing captive Lightning to stumble towards him. She made for an alluring sight, chained up and stripped to her underwear, a thread of drool trailing from her forcibly parted lips, but his attention was soon diverted away from the lady and her charms as a realization hit the mercenary.

Where was that welcoming committee?

There were no signs of life in the exterior of the facility, resting silently amidst the twisting trees of the Waterscape. Had they somehow forgotten that he was bringing Farron to them tonight? Or, he wondered, was he supposed to go inside the facility this time? The lifeless air outside was unnerving, but the idea of actually going into the laboratory made his skin crawl.

Despite his misgivings, it seemed that only one road would lead to his paycheck. He would have to venture inside and turn Farron over to the first person he saw and be done with it. The entire situation was giving him the creeps, and Omicron began to wonder if this should be his last job for these people after all. The money was good, but there was something to be said for working for normal people.

Taking his first hesitant footstep toward the lab dome's entranceway, he tried to still his fears by giving the leash a sadistic yank. Lightning yelped in surprise and almost lost her footing, but managed to maintain her balance despite every obstacle set against her. Chained, gagged and blindfolded, she still managed to impress her mercenary captor. Just a little.

Still, it was finally time to be rid of her.

The facility's mechanical doors were wide open, the interior well-lit. Leading his prisoner by her leash, Omicron made his way across the pebble-strewn clearing in which he had landed his ship and approached the entranceway. His resolve began to falter, his nerves fraying with every step. There was still no sign of anyone; something was plainly not right.

He forced himself to think about the money. Thousands and thousands of gil. Only a few minutes now, and he would have his payment and be on his way...

Everything went white.

Even with the safeguards built into his PSICOM-issue visor, the unexpected glare of the suddenly activated spotlight forced Omicron to close his eyes and turn his head away. The chain that had served as Farron's leash now dropped from his hand unnoticed as he staggered backward, his eyelids slowly cracking open to squint into the light. What the hell was this? His employer's idea of a joke?

It wasn't until he saw the soldiers dressed in the armor of the Cavalry pouring from the facility and fanning out around him that he realised he would not be collecting that paycheck after all.

~ ~ ~

"The details are... classified, but their entire operation was compromised and the Cavalry was sent in to shut it down."

Bitterness tainted Lightning's voice as she recited from memory the few things her rescuers had deigned to share with a lowly sergeant in the Guardian Corps. She was deeply grateful for her rescue, of course... but more than anything she was angry at everything. At the Cavalry and at the rogue branch of PSICOM that had orchestrated her capture, of course, but more than anything she was angry at herself. Everyone expected better of her. She had expected better of herself.

Serah nodded in response to her elder sister's words, shifting closer to her on the leather couch they shared. Despite her relief to see Claire safe and well and back at home, the younger Farron girl's weariness showed in her haggard, pale countenance. She was not the battle-hardened soldier her sibling was; while Lightning had almost seemed to take her abduction in stride, quickly returning to her familiar distant self, Serah's road to recovery would be much longer. Those hours spent as a terrified prisoner in her own home, fearing she would never be found, had affected her more deeply thn she was prepared to say.

She didn't have to say it. Lightning knew, and it ate away at her to see Serah so grim and subdued. It was all because she had failed to protect her little sister, after all of her tough talking and all of her training. What sort of big sister was she? What right did she have to comfort her now?

"I'm sorry, Serah." It was not the first time she had said it, and it would not be the last. There would be many more apologies to come.

Somehow Serah managed a reassuring smile; perhaps her normal cheerful self wasn't buried too deep after all. "Claire, it wasn't your fault. There are some things even you can't change."

Lightning hesitated, absorbing what her sister had said. Wasn't it? If she had been more alert, couldn't she have caught Omicron before he had a chance to capture them? What would have happened to her if the Cavalry hadn't caught on to the rogue unit's plans? There was no way she could absolve herself of the blame, no matter what Serah claimed.

But she nodded, faking a smile of her own and drawing her young sibling close. "That's what I hate most of all."

~ ~ ~

"I am disappointed in you."

"Yes, sir. I apologize, sir."

"Perhaps next time you will be more careful. More... discreet."

"...Sir?"

"With your little side projects. Or do you truly believe I didn't know about what you were doing in the Sunleth Waterscape? Did you think your machinations had escaped my eye?"

"Yes, sir. Forgive me, sir. I should have known better."

"Indeed you should. Know that if I disapproved of your experimentation, the project would have been shut down long before now. My hand was forced when the Cavalry stuck their noses where they didn't belong, but there will always be a next time. Their eyes cannot be everywhere, unlike ours."

"Sir."

"In the meantime, I have a new assignment for you to undertake. I hope you will not disappoint me, Colonel Nabaat."

Chapter Text

Sigroon/Ursa, torture, humiliation, whipping, dom/sub

The scent of blood floated through the stale air, a constant reminder of the savagery that so often took place within the bounds of the grand Coliseum of Altago.

This had never been a place of mercy for the combatants who walked its halls, condemned souls on their way to meet execution at the hands of the kingdom's vicious monsters. This was a place of killing, a towering edifice constructed for the sole purpose of staging fights of which the result could not be in doubt. An oversized gallows, stained with the lifeblood of a thousand fallen souls slain in its arena.

Coming to this place had taken more fortitude than Sigroon had been expecting. At twenty-three years of age and already a member of the kingdom's renowned Dragon Knights, the violet-haired woman had been into the above-ground chambers regularly used for training by the knighthood many times, but she had never before ventured into the subterranean sections of the Coliseum that she was now forced to visit. A maze of tunnels had awaited her there, winding through the earth in patterns structured yet barely comprehensible, lit by the flames of dozens of torches set into the claustrophobic brickwork walls. It had taken longer than she cared to admit to reach her ultimate destination inside the foreboding labyrinth: the deep cells, where the worst of the worst prisoners were detained.

That was the theory, anyway.

In truth the lowest level of the coliseum had not been used for the purpose of holding prisoners in a very long time. Only one person came down here with any regularity anymore, and it was this woman that Sigroon sought. The two had never met before, but Sigroon knew the mistress of the arena by reputation. It seemed that everybody in the palace had heard the rumors, the tales of the woman's sadistic streak and cruel training methods...

Now here she was, seeking out the famous executioner herself, of her own free will. It was time to swallow her fear.

~ ~ ~

They met inside a room that looked disturbingly like a torture chamber.

The executioner was every bit as intimidating as the tales had suggested. She stood several inches taller than Sigroon, radiating a confident authority that made the young knight's breath catch in her throat. Most of her copper-brown skin was on show for anyone who dared to look, for the woman's clothing consisted of little more than a handful of leather straps that circled her body, just barely concealing her breasts and holding up the tattered loincloth that girded her thighs. Her charcoal-grey hair was bound into a strict braid in back, descending all the way to her hips, but in front it was a loose-hanging shroud that served to hide the right side of her face from view, cloaking one of her bewitching caramel eyes. A quaint beret rested atop her head, a veil flowing from the headband and circling the rear of her head, a crown for the queen of this underground realm.

Sigroon faltered at once, dumbstruck by the sight of this fearsome woman, but there was no need for her to say anything. Somehow, the woman already knew why she had come.

“You are the one who wishes to become bodyguard to the Princess,” she declared, no question but a statement of absolute fact. She took a swaggering step towards the knight in the doorway, a rosy-lipped smile meandering across her exquisite face. Her one visible eye sparkled with amusement as she took in her lady visitor."My name is Ursa. I am the mistress of this coliseum."

A nervous shiver went down Sigroon's spine as Ursa's glittering eye ran up and down her body, silent judgment from her superior in rank. Clad in leather armor from neck to toe, her violet hair bound in a severe neck-length ponytail, she could not help feeling even more out-of-place here than she had before. Overdressed, even. "The... the general said that I should come," Sigroon murmured, trying not to notice the way Ursa's tongue hungrily darted along her lips. "He said that there is a trial I must endure if I am to shoulder responsibility for the Princess' welfare."

"Indeed there is." Ursa's smile widened, chilling Sigroon to the bone. There was something disquieting about this woman, a sense of savagery barely leashed. "It is a trial that I and I alone am permitted to administer," the executioner added, as if she had sensed that the young knight was considering backing out. "I am the one who decides who is worthy of this sacred duty. If you cannot pass my test, you are undeserving of the role to which you aspire. Do not dare to imagine it will be an easy road."

Sigroon swallowed, forcing herself to straighten. This woman was getting to her, but perhaps this was a part of the test. "What sort of trial is this?" she asked, stepping inside the chamber warily.

"Endurance." Chewing on her lower lip in thought, Ursa wandered behind Sigroon and casually pushed the chamber's door closed. The sound of an iron bolt grating into place met the dragon knight's ears, making her jump, but she forced herself to keep staring straight ahead. "Any more than that, I will not tell you. You must take it as it comes, and bear all of the burdens that I place upon you. Succeed, and you will have my blessing to take up the position on guardian to the Princess. Everything after that would be a formality, if you have already been sent to me."

Sigroon's icy blue eyes darted around the chamber, observing the chains hanging from the walls and the ceiling, the tables full of implements she had no wish to look at more closely. "So the trial... takes place in this room?" she asked nervously, not sure that she wanted to hear the answer. "In this old torture chamber?"

"I did say that it would not be easy"; Ursa chided, steel slipping into her honey-toned voice for the first time. "I am sure that you are aware of my reputation. Knowing this, will you put yourself to my test, Lady Sigroon? Or will you let your fear of pain stand before your dream?"

The devil woman knew her name. Somehow that was more unsettling than anything else, but Sigroon could not allow this woman, no matter how cruel she might be, to stop her from taking her rightful place at the side of the Princess. This had been her aspiration since she had first joined the knighthood four years ago. "Test me."

"So be it." Ursa was visibly pleased by Sigroon's compliance, her sultry smile almost a threat. "Disrobe. You may keep your undergarments."

The sudden, unexpected command made the young knight's eyes widen in shock, but she knew better than to start questioning orders now. She could not let childish modesty hold her back from her destiny. Taking a deep breath, Sigroon tore off her gloves and cast them to the floor, then began to systematically remove the rest of her armor from her body. Her boots were second to go, then her shin-guards and the trousers beneath, followed by her breastplate and her leather undershirt, each added to the pile of clothing growing at her feet.

She did not stop until she was down to the flimsy silk chemise she had worn beneath everything else. The low-cut bodice of the thin little shift showed off most of her sparing cleavage, and the lacy hemline of the skirt reached only as low as mid-thigh, but even now she was still more conservatively dressed than her leather-clad hostess. The realization amused Sigroon and put her at ease, but she had never been ashamed of her own body in the first place; her discomfort had more to do with concern over Ursa's intentions than showing off a bit of skin. She stood to attention, letting her training take over. A true soldier would not falter.

Ursa licked her lips once again as she observed the dragon knight's lingerie-clad form. Sigroon's armor hadn't hidden all that much after all, she discovered to her disappointment. She had hoped that the serious warrior's gear was concealing a voluptuous body ripe for torment, but in truth it proved to be as plain and businesslike as her personality. Still, she mused, breaking this stoic woman could be another kind of fun.

She moved, briefly halting on a large stone floor tile a few feet away from Sigroon. "You will stand here," she instructed before moving away again, striding towards one of the shadow-shrouded walls of the chamber.

Sigroon was quick to obey, stepping onto the exact spot that Ursa had indicated. To her surprise and relief, nothing happened right away. She had half-expected the tile to click and depress into the floor, setting off some infernal mechanism, but instead she was simply left to wonder just what was so special about this spot. She stared down at the cold stone beneath her now bare feet, feeling the chill seep into her soles and dread seep into her heart. Whatever happened next, she knew that she was not going to enjoy it.

Something dropped from the ceiling directly in front of her, drawing a rare gasp of surprise from the dragon knight. A pair of iron manacles, she realized, linked together and dangling from above by a long chain. This chain was looped through a ring set into the ceiling, connected to a winch set into the wall on the far side of the chamber. Ursa had just turned this winch, loosening the chain to lower the shackles. "Close them around your wrists"; the executioner ordered, her hand never wandering from the winch's handle.

Her determination wavered. Was it truly wise to lock herself in chains and submit herself to Ursa's cruel whims? There was something feral about this woman behind her playful tone and twinkling eyes, something dangerous and deadly. The executioner was a servant of the king, just like Sigroon herself, but only one of them was free to ignore the knightly codes of conduct. Only one had a legendary reputation for sadism. If Ursa went too far, there would be nobody around in this chamber deep underground to hear her screams...

"Why are you hesitating?" Ursa demanded, her voice as cold and sharp as a knife. Her smile was gone, her one visible eye narrowed in anger. "I gave you an order, and I do not tolerate disobedience. Obey me, or leave this place as a failure and never return."

For Sigroon there was no real choice at all. Giving up at the first sign of adversity would be an intolerable disgrace, a stain on her name and a deathblow to her hopes of becoming the Princess' guardian. She wanted this posting more than anything. Whatever Ursa had planned for her, she would just need to take it.

She snapped the first shackle into place around her right wrist, sending a resounding click echoing throughout the chamber. "I have the key to those chains,"; Ursa informed her casually, gesturing that she should continue. "They will not open without it, so you had best behave yourself..."

It was true, Sigroon discovered as she attempted to prise the cuff open with her fingers. The mechanism inside had locked in place when she had closed it around her wrist, and nothing she could do seemed to budge it. The shackle was tight and weighed heavily on her wrist, but it was not as uncomfortable as she feared. Pausing only for a moment, she slipped her free wrist into the second shackle and clapped it shut around her arm, listening for the sound of the catch. She was now locked into the restraints, and the only way she was getting out of them was if Ursa allowed it.

Ursa's smile returned, though any warmth in it had disappeared. She began to wind the crank once again, this time in the opposite direction, drawing the chain back into the winch and pulling the shackles around the dragon knight's wrists back towards the ceiling. Sigroon grimaced as she felt her arms being hauled upward, gradually forced to stretch high above her head, but to her credit she did not protest even when the increasing strain forced her to stand on her tiptoes. Perhaps, Ursa reflected as she watched Sigroon dangle in place, struggling to keep her bare toes on the floor, she was made of sterner stuff than the executioner had thought. Most were already groaning and whimpering at this point.

Locking the winch in place, she glided across the floors of her chamber and came to a halt mere inches from her prisoner, her breath hot on Sigroon's face. The dragon knight's visage was now level with Ursa's own thanks to the extra height granted by the chains, but it was this very arrangement that conspired to make her feel smaller than ever. The smell of blood in this place had never faded, but now it was almost overpowered by the cloying reek of sweat and musk that leeched from the devil woman's leather-clad body. Her presence had been threatening before, but now it was so insidiously menacing that it made even the resolute knight dream of leaving in haste.

If only there was not so much at stake.

"Are you enjoying this, Lady Sigroon?" Condescension was woven into Ursa's lilting voice. "There is no need to be ashamed if you are. You would not be the first."

"How long must I endure this?" Her arms were already beginning to ache from the strain of being chained high above her, but Sigroon managed to keep her tone even and emotionless. She couldn't let this woman rattle her.

Ursa chuckled at that, a throaty laugh of derision. "Lady Sigroon, I hope you don't believe that this is the extent of the trial! This is only the first phase." She leaned in even closer, her rounded nose almost brushing against Sigroon's pointed, her breath and her scent almost suffocating the captive knight. "Don't think you're anything special just yet. I'll have you begging for mercy soon enough, and the moment you crack, you will have failed my test."

Sigroon's icy eyes glinted in defiance. "I will endure whatever I must."

"Is that so?" Amused all the more by the knight's stubborn resilience, Ursa was nonetheless beginning to grow impatient. It was not this woman's fortitude that she truly longed to see, but her humiliation and her delicious suffering. Now was the time to bring her down a peg.

The executioner's hands slipped beneath her own loincloth, her dexterous fingers hooking into the waistband of her leather thong and tugging it down her thighs. Ursa had never liked wearing panties of any form, always preferring to clothe herself in as little as possible, but her employers had insisted on at least this concession to modesty. She had grudgingly obeyed, hating the restriction, but she had to admit that at least they were useful to her on occasions such as this. Letting the skimpy leather undergarment drop to the floor, she stepped out of it and stooped to pick it up, then turned it inside out so that the leather that had been clinging so closely to her crotch was now facing outward.

It smelled of her, Ursa noted with pleasure as she pressed the thong against her nose, sampling its pungent fragrance. Her lower lips had left their mark on the thin leather, the odor mixing with the heavy stench of sweat and the reek of the rear strap that had spent hours wedged between her buttocks. For the benefit of the horrified Sigroon, she let her tongue dart out and taste the flavorsome underwear, twisting her face in feigned disgust to hide her enjoyment and make the stalwart knight cringe.

Then, with a viper's sadistic smile on her lips, she rolled the fetid thong into a ball and forced it into Sigroon's gaping mouth.

The lady knight shrieked in horrified outrage as the foul-tasting leather was thrust into her jaw, but her screams of rebellion were swiftly strangled by the invading garment as it filled up her mouth. The muffled sounds subsided into anguished moans as the disgusting flavors began to spread throughout her mouth; a wave of nausea threatened to overwhelm her, fueled by the knowledge that it was Ursa's sweaty nether regions that she was tasting. She might as well have licked the filthy woman's crotch instead, she thought to herself as she tried to push the thong back out of her mouth with her tongue, already planning the earful she was going to give the executioner when she could speak again...

"Ah-ah-ah..." Ursa's pointer finger pressed against the wadded undergarment, holding it inside of Sigroon's mouth. "You spit it out, you fail the test. I told you this wasn't going to be a pleasant experience. Do you understand me?"

Bitch. Cruel, depraved bitch. "Yrss," she slurred, the thong distorting even the simplest of words, but behind her meek acceptance was a swelling bubble of anger. There was no practical purpose to making her hold this rancid thing in her mouth, she knew. This degradation was for Ursa's perverse amusement, nothing more... and yet Sigroon had no choice but to take it. The posting that she desired would be the least of her concerns if she disobeyed; Ursa could ruin her entire career as a knight with a word in the right ear. She would do it, too; of that Sigroon had little doubt.

"Very good," Ursa cooed, the mockery plain as day. ";However, merely following simple commands is hardly worthy of my praise." Her hands wandered across Sigroon's chest, claw-like fingernails scraping teasingly against the knight's half-bared breasts, slipping inside her silken bodice. "If you wish to earn your place as royal guardian, you will need to endure a great deal more than this. Discomfort, pain... humiliation."

She tensed, her fingers curling around the chemise's collar... and ripped the flimsy garment apart.

The front of the shift shredded like paper, swiftly tearing in two down the middle, the ragged scraps soon wrenched away from the knight's pale body and discarded. As Sigroon reeled in shock from the brazen assault, her cry of shock muffled by her leathery gag, the executioner busied herself with clearing away the remnants of the undergarment, removing every trace from her prisoner's shackled form. By the time the violet-haired archer had recovered, she had been stripped completely nude save for the chains about her wrists.

"Remember, if my thoughtful gift leaves your mouth at any time, you immediately forfeit the trial." Ursa winked at her, daring her to spit out the thong and scream her indignation at this indecency. "Don't worry, it's nothing I haven't seen before. Well, you're a little more bony than most women..."

Sigroon sagged as much as her chains would allow. She had never consented to this, but her nudity barely embarrassed her at all; the female dragon knights shared a dressing chamber in the palace grounds, so she was used to being naked in front of other women. She still wanted to give the arrogant bitch a piece of her mind, of course... but it wasn't worth failing the trial over. No matter what Ursa decided to do, Sigroon had no choice but to tolerate it. Even if she were willing to give up her long-held dream, would Ursa let her out of these chains?

That sadistic smile still on her lips, Ursa moved to the rear side of the chamber, where Sigroon's eyes could not follow her. Anxiety swelled in the knight's chest as she lost sight of the leather-clad woman. Just what was she going to do back there? Or more specifically, what was she going to do to her back there? All of a sudden she wished she had taken a closer look at the torture implements laid out on the chamber's many tables. Not knowing what was coming next was terrifying.

When Ursa returned to view, her smile wider than ever, she was holding two tiny objects in the palm of her hand; a pair of silver clamps, connected by a thin golden chain. "Do you know what these are for?" she wondered aloud, her one visible eye alight with amusement. "I'll give you a hint. They are going somewhere on your body. Can you think where that might be?"

Sigroon dreaded to think. She wanted no part of these vicious-looking clips, and there was no shortage of possibilities as to where they might be going. She held her nerve as well as her precarious situation would allow, but it was the sight of Ursa's gaze wandering to the knight's cold-stiffened nipples that almost brought her undone. A second wave of nausea swept through her body, threatening to make her vomit, but Sigroon had no choice but to fight down the urge. If she couldn't she would be forced to eject the repulsive gag from her mouth or risk choking to death, and she was unsure which would be worse.

"That's right..." Ursa whispered, gently touching one of the clips to Sigroon's breast. The open ends rested teasingly against her areola, the tiny padded cups waiting eagerly for Ursa to release the tension holding them apart. The moment she did, the clamp would snap shut like the teeth of a hungry tiger. "Don't fret, my lady. Pain can be a pleasure, if you have the right mindset."

Just get on with it. Sigroon's jaw clenched around the wadded thong in her mouth, still tasting sweat and worse on the moistened leather. The waiting was more excruciating than the pain could ever be. Fear writhed in her belly, clawing and squirming against her insides, a torture all on its own. It was little wonder that Ursa was always the one called on to interrogate criminals...

Ursa smirked, and the clip snapped together.

Fire erupted in her breast, a savage burst of stabbing pain that brought tears to her eyes and a howl to her throat. The horrid gag did little to mask the dragon knight's blistering cry, nor to dull her moans of torment as the initial agony began to fade into an ache that was only slightly less fierce. Biting down on Ursa's leather thong, she stared down at her chest and the wretched thing clinging to her upraised nipple. She had thought to see spilled blood and torn flesh, so terrible was the pain, but there was none to be found. She could see the twin clamps squeezing her vulnerable flesh between them without mercy, but this did nothing at all to ease the sensation it inflicted upon her. She would have done anything to make it stop...

Anything except surrender.

The worst had passed, but even the dregs of this nightmarish pain were almost too much to take. She had already accustomed herself to the devilish pressure, yet it still hurt so badly that she struggled not to weep. The only thing worse than this terrible suffering was the knowledge that there was still one more clip to go.

Though Ursa seemed almost aglow with sadistic enjoyment of Sigroon's plight, she had certainly not forgotten that her task was only halfway complete. This time there would be no waiting, no dragging out the moment just to see the violet-haired wench shudder. No, Ursa was too eager now for such games. She was near to starving, and the cries of this hard-nosed knight would be her sustenance.

The second clamp closed around Sigroon's left nipple, the cruel little vice seizing hold of her sensitive nub and squeezing it between padded jaws. This time Sigroon managed to limit herself to a single keening squeal as the pain doubled in intensity, now throbbing through two breasts instead of one, and for the first time she found herself almost grateful for the leather thong resting upon her tongue. The horrid flavors of Ursa's nethers still clung to her taste buds like glue, but at least it gave her something to bite down on.

"Come now. Surely one chosen to join the Dragon Knights can endure more than this pittance of hardship." Ursa licked her lips again, her taunting voice another trial to suffer through. "Why, I do this to myself for fun. Perhaps I should be the one to guard the Princess' life, hmm?" Her hand brushed against the golden chain binding the metal clamps together. It hung loose between Sigroon's breasts, tracing a trail of cold against her naked skin, but it need not always be so.

Sigroon saw the way Ursa's one unshrouded eye wandered. "Nhhh," she begged, shaking her head just a fraction. Not now, give me a moment to recover...

"If you want me to stop, you know how to stop me." Ursa ignored her captive's pleas, her amber gaze as frigid and callous as a blizzard. "Until then, I will treat you as I see fit... and I want to hear that drab little voice of yours shatter as you scream your throat to ruins."

She yanked on the chain, as hard as she could without tearing the clamps from the stoic woman's nipples, the tension tightening the wicked little toys to their limits.

The reaction from Sigroon was immediate. She screamed her pain into her captor's wadded underwear as the crushing pressure increased, quickly becoming utterly unbearable; she thrashed and twisted in her shackles, desperate for escape, howling all the while, and when that failed to quell the torment she thrust her chest forward at Ursa, hoping to lessen the tension in the chain. Clicking her tongue in disapproval, Ursa simply took a step backward, denying her even this small respite.

Nothing was working. The pain wasn't going to ease. She couldn't stand this anymore, not even one more moment...

Her tongue began to press against Ursa's wretched thong, attempting to force it out of her mouth. She needed to stop this, now, before her nipples were ground to pulp. She would surrender her pride, discard her ambitions and beg Ursa for mercy, anything to make it stop...

Then, just like that, relief.

The chain fell back to Sigroon's chest, hanging loose between the clamps as the pressure finally eased. Ursa had released them at last. Sigroon's tautened body relaxed as she breathed a shuddering sigh, the painful sensation of blood flowing back into her nipples nothing next to what she had just endured. Gods above, such excruciating pain from such tiny things as these...

The clamps hung heavy from her breasts, clinging fast like leeches, but the constant fiery ache of their bite was almost acceptable now. Almost. Everything that had hurt still did, but she had survived the worst the devious devices had to offer. Somehow she had endured long enough to please her callous mistress, though if it had gone on for a few seconds longer she would surely now be donning her discarded armour and cursing her weakness. Had Ursa known she had reached her breaking point? Had she sensed Sigroon's limits and ended it just before she snapped?

The executioner's glittering caramel eye offered no answer. An eyebrow raised, she circled Sigroon's hanging form and clicked her tongue once more for a reason known only to her. "You're doing well so far, Lady Sigroon, but there is still more to come. Would you like a temporary respite from this? Your arms must surely be paining you by now."

Sigroon grunted a noncommittal response, uncertain if this was a trap designed to deceive her. Either way Ursa's words had done their damage; her poor, throbbing nipples had been enough to distract her from the growing aches in her shoulders and arms, but now she was fully conscious of the strain once again. They were holding the weight of her entire body, shackled as they were, and her muscles were burning with the ever-increasing stress. Combined with the wrath of the clamps, the pain was once again becoming almost too severe to tolerate.

I can endure this. I have to. This is nothing.

Ursa bore the slyest of smiles as she swept back into view, knowing full well what her seemingly innocent inquiry had done. Her hand rose to tease the chain between the twin nipple clamps, tempted to pull on it again and hear her scream renewed, absorbing the spike of dread in the knight's pale blue eyes... and then she discarded the chain, letting it fall back against Sigroon's body. It would be too easy. There were other ways to get what she wanted. Instead, she extended a sharp-nailed finger and dragged it languidly over her captive's body, leaving a trail of tingling skin from her breast to her throat to her firm jawbone.

It was a simple matter to reach between the knight's parted lips and snatch away the wadded thong that Ursa herself had placed there. The black leather dripped with saliva, warm and slippery, but to Sigroon's mortified disgust the executioner stooped and pulled the tainted garment back up over her legs and thighs, returning her underwear to its proper place beneath her loincloth. "Don't fret," she crooned, the new-found tightness and heat against her crotch stirring her desires all the more. "I will not mark that as a failure. Tell me, my lady, how did I taste?"

"How much longer...?" There was pain in Sigroon's strangled voice, just how Ursa liked it. "How much more must I-"

"I'm told I taste like honey," the executioner interrupted, ignoring her prisoner's broken pleas. She was close to Sigroon now, the air heavy with her musky scent. "Some people will say anything to get out of my chains after a while. Not you, though... you're made of stronger stuff than the others."

Sigroon said nothing, her energies focused on resisting the constant aches throbbing in her arms and her breasts. Her questions had gone without answers, but her determination was stronger than ever. She couldn't let this torture be for naught.

Her stoic facade made Ursa chuckle with delight. "You're almost impressive, Lady Sigroon. I must admit, you might pass this test with my approval after all. Still, you've made me curious... about how you taste."

The executioner's lips crashed against Sigroon's, her tongue slipping deep into her victim's wet mouth before the shackled knight had a chance to react. Sigroon could only shriek in stunned outrage, but even this sound was eagerly swallowed by her captor's hungry maw as she explored her wide-eyes prisoner's mouth. Sigroon's chains offered her no way to escape the fervid kiss, forcing her to endure this unwanted intimacy, but for once the sensations flooding through her body were not agonizing barbs but a sensuous wave of... pleasure?

Was she enjoying this presumptuous trespass?

She lacked the strength to kiss back, her breath stolen away, but when Ursa broke their lips apart Sigroon could see the knowledge in her caramel eyes. The executioner's charcoal fringe had been brushed aside, revealing the right side of her face to Sigroon for the very first time; there were no scars, no disfiguring marks, just a mirror of the savage loveliness that she had already seen.

Ursa seemed not to care about her unmasking, her demeanor unchanged from smug satisfaction. "Delicious."

Ashamed of the feelings swirling within her, Sigroon stared down at the cold stone floor of the dungeon. She couldn't help but see her breasts as well, the cruel clamps still biting into her nipples; she was finally beginning to adjust to the unending pressure they inflicted, but the pain had by no means started to vanish. The chain dangling between them was a chilling, ever-present reminder of far worse torments... but it was no longer just endurance that was being asked of her.

When she looked up, Ursa had vanished.

Something rattled behind her, startling the violet-haired knight. Her captor had returned to the tables filled with implements of torture, seeking the next toy to bring into the game. Unable to turn to see just what was going on, Sigroon hung in place and thanked the gods that her arms were beginning to grow numb. It was one less thing to suffer through.

"You're going to need this. I can't have you biting that tongue of yours." A brown-skinned hand snaked around from behind Sigroon, a strange contraption in her palm; a thick wooden bar, half a foot long, leather straps running from each end tipped with two halves of a metal buckle. Its purpose became obvious as Ursa's fingers pressed the bar against her prisoner's lips, forcing her to open her mouth and accept it. The executioner pulled the straps behind Sigroon's head, buckling it beneath the knight's violet ponytail and pulling the gag into the corners of her mouth, forcing her to bite down on the bar with her back teeth and ensuring that she could not entirely close her mouth.

It was yet another humiliation, but that no longer seemed to matter.

Chuckling to herself, Ursa stepped back into Sigroon's field of vision to admire her prisoner's gagged mouth. Once again the executioner was licking her lips, and for a long moment she seemed as if she might lavish another kiss upon her chained captive. Sigroon attempted to ignore the tiny flash of disappointment in the back of her mind when Ursa took several steps away instead...

It was then that she saw the leather whip coiled in the other woman's hand.

"I did say that you would need to earn your position, Lady Sigroon." Ursa's lips were curled into a beastly little smile. "I like you, and I believe that you might make a fine guardian for our Princess... but I must know for sure. I must know how far you would go for the honor you seek, how much suffering you would willingly endure for the rebellious child you would protect. If you wish to put an end to this and run away to lick your wounds, you may cry out. Otherwise, I will expect complete silence."

Her breasts still throbbing with terrible aches, her arms almost numbed by the stress of holding her naked body aloft, Sigroon forced herself to give a brief nod of understanding and braced herself for the ordeal she was about to face. She knew that she could expect no mercy from this demon of a woman, the feared executioner of the coliseum. This was going to hurt, but her fate depended on her ability to survive the worst this cruel woman could deliver. She needed to be strong, now more than ever before.

The whip sliced through the air, and then flesh.

Chapter Text

Rinoa/Zone, bondage, fake kidnapping

"Are you sure this is okay?" the dark haired man asked in stunned disbelief. It was far from the first time.

Rinoa Heartilly released an exasperated sigh, letting herself drop back to the frilly covers of her bed. "For the last time, Zone, it's fine!" she assured him, trying hard to hide her growing annoyance at her friend's endless nervousness. "If you keep asking me that I might start to wonder if I should change my mind, so give it a rest, all right? Do you have the equipment?"

"Y-yes! Of course! Right here." Zone held up the suede briefcase he had been carrying, hoping that she wouldn't notice his hand shaking. The young revolutionary was praying that she didn't ask him just where he had acquired all of these items on such short notice. "Um, you have the camera, right?"

"It's in the top drawer." Rinoa's finger lazily rose to point to a nightstand along the opposite wall as she raised herself back to a sitting position, letting her bare legs dangle from the side of the bed. She was a pretty young woman, small and slender, her lively brown eyes forever aglow with vibrant emotion, her rosy lips most often curved into a warm, friendly smile. Midnight hair framed her face and flowed down to her neck, glossy and straight, the deep black occasionally marked by streaks of brown. A pale blue duster hung from her shoulders, shrouding her back and trailing all the way to her ankles but left open in front to reveal her tight black tank top and shorts, an azure skirt buttoned over her hips completing the outlandish ensemble. Her clothing was as unpredictable and vivid as the girl who wore it.

Somehow Zone managed to take his eyes off of Rinoa long enough to retrieve the camera from the drawer, setting it down on the table next to her bed for now. "Do you really think this will work, though? I don't think the General is going to fall for this..."

"Oh, he will. My father still loves me." Her legs swayed back and forth beneath her, her bare toes scraping against the patterned rug adorning the floor of the train car. "He doesn't know I ran away to join the revolution. I didn't really even tell him I was leaving. When he sees me on film, tied up and held hostage, I know he won't hesitate to agree to our demands. He'll denounce the government and defect to Dollet, and Galbadia will lose the best military leader it has." She chewed on her lip for a moment. "We won't have to fight him, either. I'm sure this is going to work, Zone, don't worry."

"Well, if you say so..." Zone was still unconvinced, but let it go. Even if their plan failed, none of the Forest Owls would ever be at risk. "So, uh... do you want to get started? I mean, are you ready to..."

Rinoa nodded, jumping to her feet and stretching her arms above her head. As always, the girl seemed filled with energy. "I think I'm ready. I've psyched myself into it... but do you think these clothes are okay? Maybe I should wear something else?"

"Something else?" Zone's breath caught in his throat, possibilities dancing through his mind. He pinched himself while she wasn't looking at him, all the more shocked when a needle of pain shot through his forearm in response. He was awake. This was really happening.

"Yeah! Like... something that makes me look a little more vulnerable. Something that makes him worried about me. You know." Completely oblivious to Zone's discomfort, Rinoa walked over to the wardrobe built into the side of the wall, a creature comfort of her personalized room in the revolutionaries' mobile base. Pulling open the doors, she began to sort through the clothing hanging from the rack, pushing each outfit aside as she rejected it in turn. How many clothes does a rebel outlaw need? Zone wondered as she continued her perusal.

After a brief while Rinoa gave up her search, slamming the wardrobe doors closed with a sigh and leaning her back against them with a sigh of frustration. "I was hoping I'd have something skimpy," she muttered, dejected by her failure to find something interesting. "Something that showed off a bit more skin. I was never allowed to wear anything like that back home, though."

"You could just use your underwear."

The words were out of Zone's mouth before he had a chance to stop them, and he immediately wished he could snatch them out of the air and cram them back down his stupid throat. Why had he said that? Why hadn't he kept his thoughts to himself?

"Oh... I didn't think of that. I guess that would work, huh?" Rinoa's thoughtful response lacked the outrage that Zone had feared. She looked down at herself, considering the suggestion with only a little embarrassment. "What I have on under this should be good enough. Hold on a sec..."

Her hands were unfastening the cords on her chest holding her blue duster closed before Zone noticed what she was doing. His heart froze in his chest. Was Rinoa... undressing in front of him?! His cheeks blazing a fiery red, he turned his back on the disrobing girl and squeezed his eyes tightly shut. "I, I, I can leave," he stammered, fighting the mounting urge to look back over his shoulder. His heart hammered inside his chest.

"Why? It's not like I'm gonna be naked, and you'll see me in a minute anyway." Shrugging off the duster and letting it fall to the floor around her ankles, Rinoa reached down to unbutton the blue skirt that covered up her tight-fitting shorts. "Turn back around, Zone, I need to know how I look."

Zone swallowed, trying frantically to compose himself for the task ahead. By the time he had found his courage and turned around to face Rinoa, the raven-haired girl had discarded her skirt and was already tugging her black tank top over her head. He drew in a shaking breath and tried not to stare too hard at Rinoa's breasts, only sparingly hidden from view by her lace-trimmed black bra. "It, uh, l-looks good," he mumbled, his eyes fixated on the floor so he wouldn't have to look at her.

"Hey!" Rinoa leaned towards him, hands on her hips in irritation. "You're gonna have to look at me a lot closer than that when you start tying me up, so you might as well have a good gawk now, okay? Don't make this weird, Zone."

How could this not be weird? Zone lifted his gaze from the floor obediently, watching her with a bizarrely eager reluctance as she began to slide her skin-tight shorts down her slender legs. It was impossible not to notice the sunny yellow panties hugging Rinoa's thighs as she bent to slip the shorts over her feet; the eye-catching pair of knickers drew his attention like nothing else. He hoped that she wouldn't detect the bump rising inside of his trousers as he took in the sight of his beautiful comrade's half-naked body. This still seemed like a dream, but he didn't want to wake up.

Now standing in a pile of her own clothing, only her mismatched underwear remaining to shield her modesty, Rinoa found herself flushing red in embarrassment as well. She had been quick to undress herself in the name of the plan, stripping off her overclothes with barely a thought, but the realization of just what she was doing was starting to catch up to her, driven home by the wide-eyed stare of Zone as it traced the curves of her body. Self-consciousness set in, along with the sudden desire to hide the body she had just unclothed behind her hands. She had been comfortable with her body when he was refusing to look at it, but now she was forced to clasp her hands behind her back to stop herself from covering herself up. There was no point in hiding herself now, she told herself, biting her lip bashfully as he gazed at her breasts. It was much too late for that.

"Uh... I..." Zone swallowed, dragging his gaze from her body to her uncertain eyes. Both of their faces were burning scarlet. "Should... should we get started? On the pictures..."

"Y-yeah." Rinoa nodded hastily, relieved at the change in subject. Maybe she could make herself forget that she was in her underwear for a while. "You, um... you can make it look convincing, right? Make sure my father knows I'm in a lot of trouble. He needs to take this seriously."

Zone took a deep breath, stilling his trembling nerves. "Don't worry, Rinoa, we'll get this right. If you're ready, could you... could you go and sit down over there?"

Rinoa gave him a faltering smile as she moved to obey, seating herself on the edge of her bed once more while Zone retrieved his suede briefcase from the floor. Both she and he were more filled with apprehension than they had ever been before, even during their more dangerous adventures, but neither of them gave a second thought to backing out. What did a little personal embarrassment matter, next to striking a blow for independence?

"I'm going to do the best job that I can, like you were really my prisoner," Zone warned as he crouched by the side of the bed next to Rinoa's dangling legs. "If it gets too uncomfortable, just say so. For now I just need you to hold still while I tie your legs together, okay?"

Another nod from Rinoa, this one much more hesitant. It helped to know that she could call this off at any time, but the entire situation made her incredibly nervous. She had put herself in this position and claimed no right to complain about it now, but the tingling sensation inside her chest gave her pause. Why would the prospect of being tied up make her feel like this? Perhaps, she reasoned, it was her lack of clothing that made her so fretful. She had never been so undressed in front of another person before, at least not since she was a child in the care of her now-deceased mother.

Zone flipped the catches on the briefcase and laid the opened box out on the floor, displaying the contents to Rinoa. She gulped as she laid eyes upon the coils of thin hempen rope packed inside, knowing that she would soon feel those very same cords binding her while she played the kidnapped hostage. It would be worth the discomfort, however, if the pictures they took looked as real as possible. She had known that Zone was the man for the job when she had caught him reading a certain magazine when he thought nobody was around, the one with tied-up women on every page, and he had quickly agreed to her proposal. Perhaps knowing that he found tied up girls to be arousing should have made her think twice about the idea, but she trusted Zone with her life. She knew he wouldn't do anything untoward to her.

She was jolted back to reality by the sensation of rough cord grazing against her ankles. Zone had already started to bind her, winding the rope around her ankles repeatedly. So far so good, Rinoa noted; this was standard fare for restraining the damsel in distress in television shows, and it was tight enough to securely hold her legs together. Acceptance turned to surprise as he slipped the ends of the rope between her ankles and began to tighten it further, cinching the bindings in the middle to slightly separate her feet. She tested the bonds as Zone finished tying the knot behind her heels, finding them only slightly uncomfortable but far too strict to slip out of. She would need to use her hands if she were to escape them.

Zone was not finished with her legs yet, not by a long shot. Taking a second length of rope from the briefcase, he slipped it around her shins just below the knees and began to constrict it just like he had with her ankles. The raven-haired girl grunted as her knees were forced to touch, but she held in her protests even as he cinched the bindings between her legs. It had been hard to separate her legs before, but now it was nigh-impossible. She had to admit that he was very good at restraining her; surely this would look convincing on film.

To her surprise, he produced a third rope from the case and leaned further forward towards the sitting Rinoa. "Can you lift your legs, please?" he requested, all uncertainty gone from his voice. The young Forest Owl was in his element here, something that comforted Rinoa almost as much as it amused her. She obeyed, raising her bound legs into the air and allowing him to slip another coil of rope into place, this time two inches above her knees. Watching in puzzled fascination as he wrapped the cord around her thighs, she tried to figure out just what he was up to. Her legs had already been immobilized by the first two bindings...

"Is this really necessary?" she squeaked as his hand delved between her thighs, bringing with it the end of the rope to cinch these new bonds together. He was coming dangerously close to brushing against the crotch of her cheerful yellow panties, something Rinoa wished to avoid even if by accident. She was uncomfortably aware of how much her unclothed presence was arousing Zone, conscious of the bump in his trousers even if he tried to hide it, and wished to keep the encounter as non-sexual as possible. She had only stripped herself to her underwear to make herself look more vulnerable on camera, and it certainly made her feel more vulnerable, even if it was only in the presence of a friend. This had better work on my father, she thought as Zone pulled the ropes tight around her thighs, knotting it off behind her knees.

"It is if you want everything to look as convincing as I can make it." Zone looked up at her, his hesitation returning as he saw the reluctance in her dark eyes. "We want them to think the Owls are a serious outfit, right? Well, we are, but... uh... I can take it off if you want me to. Caraway'll probably still fall for it..."

Rinoa paused, her forehead crinkling as she thought it over. Could she really take even such a small risk just to make herself feel better? Would a serious revolutionary do that? "Leave it," she decided at last, steeling herself for greater discomfort. "Just do what you think you should to make it look right. I trust you, Zone."

Zone smiled at that, deeply relieved by her words. "I'm glad to hear that. I won't let you down." He began to consider his next move, looking her up and down and mulling on the items remaining inside his briefcase. Rinoa's legs were secure enough now, even for his tastes. Time to take care of her arms. "If you're got an itch anywhere, now would be a good time to scratch it."

"Oh..." Rinoa nodded, realizing what he intended. "I think I'm all right. What do you need me to do?"

Producing another length of rope from his briefcase of tricks, Zone contemplated how he should go about securing her arms. There were plenty of methods he knew, but he needed to make it as convincing as possible without hurting her. "Could you lie face down on the bed and put your hands behind your back?"

"Sure." With her legs tied the request became a little more difficult to achieve. It took a little more squirming around in her underwear than Rinoa was completely comfortable with, but it mercifully took her less than a minute to assume the position Zone had asked for; resting on her stomach on the bed, her hands placed on her scantily clad bottom. "Like this?"

Zone tried to ignore the way her rear end jutted out. "Just like that," he answered, pulling himself onto the bed beside her. "Now hold still. This might feel awkward at first, but I promise I know what I'm doing."

Rinoa inhaled deeply at the sensation of his knuckles grazing against her buttocks as he took her wrists in his hands, guiding them up to the small of her back and crossing one over the other. Her elbows were bent sharply inward by this new position, her forearms flat across her back, making her shiver in genuine discomfort for the first time since he had started binding her. His touch was gentle, his movements slow, but she had never felt more powerless in her life than she did at this moment. More than anything, though, it was her own stubbornness keeping her in this situation. She could ask him to stop this and untie her any time she wanted, but in her mind she had absolutely committed herself to this course the moment she had shared her plan with Zone. She couldn't back out now, not just because she hadn't known that being tied up would be this unpleasant.

She felt the ropes around her arms constrict as Zone pulled them taut, trapping her wrists in an uncomfortable cross behind her. She tried tugging them loose as he knotted the cord, hoping at least for a little slack she could use to ease the pull on her arms, but she found none that she could use. The knots, of course, were well out of her reach as well. If the Forest Owls ever took prisoners, she noted with gritted teeth, she would make sure Zone was the one to tie them up. He was far too good at this.

A strained groan escaped her throat before she realized that it was coming, immediately catching Zone's attention. "Do you want me to loosen it? I'm sorry if it's too tight, I was trying to-"

"It's fine," Rinoa grunted, trying to relax her body as best she could in the restrictive ropes circling her limbs. This was only for a little while, after all. "It does hurt a little, but... that's good for the camera, right? Just keep doing what you're doing. I'll be okay." If only she could reassure herself so easily.

Zone looked at her for a moment, concern on his features, before nodding reluctantly. "If you say so. Remember, just tell me if you want to stop."

Rinoa sighed. The constant reminders were starting to wear on her; waving them in front of her face while she was trying to take one for the team wasn't helping her resolve. She bit her tongue and waited for him to continue, though she was uncertain just how much more securely he could bind her. She could barely move at all even now, with her hands tied tightly behind her back and her legs bound together so strictly that she could not move one without moving the other. Untying herself was definitely out of the question, but at least the pain in her arms had started to ease as they adjusted to their awkward new position.

Then things started to get interesting.

She felt Zone's weight leave the bed as he dropped back to the floor, returning to his briefcase for more equipment. "There's just one more thing I need to do, and then we're ready to shoot," he told her, sounding almost apologetic as he sorted through his remaining ropes. That case of his held more than it had appeared to. "I need you to sit up again, though. Can you do it on your own?"

"Of course I can!" Rinoa snapped, a little insulted by the question, but already starting to wonder how she was going to prove it. These bonds were tight.

She shifted on the bed, grateful that Zone wasn't watching her squirming about this time, testing each of her limbs in turn to see just how much freedom they would allow her. Her arms were completely useless to her, she discovered within moments, with even her hands able to do little more than flex their fingers. This left only her legs, still tied together so tightly and in so many places that it was impossible to move one of them independently of the other. A little more investigation revealed that she could still bend her knees, and she hurriedly curled them under herself in an attempt to gain leverage, hoping to use her legs and shoulder to push herself up to a sitting position before Zone's attention returned to her...

No good. It didn't matter how hard she strained; her lower body simply lacked the strength she needed to force herself upright. Groaning in defeat, Rinoa let herself collapse back to the bedcovers. "Ugh..."

"Here, let me." Zone sounded apologetic as he took hold of Rinoa's bare shoulder, lifting her from the covers and helping her to sit back on the edge of the bed. She grumbled her thanks, annoyed and embarrassed to be unable to do such a simple thing for herself. Then again, she supposed, that was the entire point of being tied up in the first place. Hostages were hardly supposed to escape their captors so easily.

She watched him as he uncoiled the next rope, straightening out the smooth, thin cord and running it between his hands. "What are you going to do?" she murmured, not so much asking the question as wondering aloud. She was already completely helpless, but she had given Zone her trust and would let him do what he thought needed to be done.

"It's easier to show you than tell you," Zone insisted, seating himself beside her and looking her in the eye. "This is going to get a little uncomfortable, but it's an old military technique they used on women prisoners back in the war. Your dad should recognize it." He paused, staring down at the rope in his hands. "Are you sure you want me to-"

"Yes, damn it!" Rinoa shouted, her frustration breaking its leash at last. The embarrassment of her exposure and the stress of being bound like this had been building up inside her since they had started, a volcano of anxiety just waiting for a chance to erupt. "Just get on with it! A kidnapper wouldn't care if his hostage was comfortable or not, so just do what you think will look best!" Her annoyance eased, her voice softening accordingly. "Don't ask again, okay? If it's too much to handle I'll speak up. Promise."

"...Okay. Sorry." Zone nodded, accepting her reassurances at long last. "I just didn't want... sorry. I'm going ahead now."

His hands moved to her shoulders, gently turning her away from him while allowing her to remain seated. The feel of his hands on her bare skin sent a tiny thrill through Rinoa's heart, another sliver of emotion to join the maelstrom of conflicting feelings swirling inside her. Swallowing hard, she fought to keep them in check as Zone began to wrap rope around her torso, just beneath her bust, pinning her upper arms to her sides. She winced as he tightened it, constricting her chest and digging into the underside of her breasts through her bra, but she made herself remain silent despite the discomfort. This was all for the camera.

She had thought herself as prepared as she could be, but still she found herself gasping at what he did next. Again the rope was wrapped about her chest but this time it was drawn over the top of her bosom, the sudden pressure forcing her breasts to jut outward. Mortified by the way the ropes were molding her unwilling body, Rinoa bit down on her lower lip to keep from crying out, her face blazing red. It felt good, in a way, but she could never let Zone know that. They had to keep this professional...

Zone tied the ropes off behind her, testing them to make sure of their tightness. He was glad that Rinoa was facing away from him, because it was proving impossible to stop himself from staring at her swelling breasts. He had seen plenty of women trussed up like this, half-naked and helpless, but they had all dwelt in the pages of books and magazines. Seeing Rinoa, a girl he had a crush on, in the flesh and tied up before his very eyes still seemed like something out of a wonderful dream.

"Tight..." Rinoa breathed, twisting her torso and wriggling her arms against the ropes. Her arms were aflame with aches by now, bent and bound into a cross against her back, but she was beginning to accustom herself to the restrictions placed on her. Zone had done his job well; there was no way she was going to escape these bonds without assistance.

Somehow, Zone tore his gaze away from the raven-haired captive. "I guess we're ready to take some pictures..."

"Hold on a sec." Painstakingly turning her body back to face him, Rinoa steadied her shaking voice and spoke words that she hoped she would not regret. "Don't you need to gag me, too? Keep me quiet?"

"...Yeah, we could do that." He had been hoping that he would not need to broach the topic himself. "There are a few ways we could do it..."

"Just pick the best one." Rinoa licked her lips nervously, casting her eyes at the suede briefcase. She hadn't seen anything but rope inside of it, but there were a few compartments that Zone hadn't opened.

"Okay." Zone hauled himself off of the bed and crouched beside his briefcase, unzipping one of those pockets. He had blocked Rinoa's view of it with his body, so she was left to wonder what sort of items he hid in there as he rummaged through them. Cloth rustled, metal clinked and leather squeaked, teasing her imagination with endless possibilities.

When he returned to her side, he was holding an item that made Rinoa squint in confusion; a black rubber ball with a leather strap piercing the centre, seemingly designed to buckle into a loop. "Is that supposed to go in my mouth?" she murmured, her voice and eyes uncertain as her gaze fixed onto the sphere. Would it even fit? "I thought you were just going to put tape over my lips or something like that..."

"Trust me on this one. Can you open your mouth wide?" Waiting until Rinoa reluctantly obeyed, Zone pressed the ball inside her mouth, slotting it behind her teeth, and pulled the straps tightly behind her head.

The bulky sphere forced her jaw wide open, filling her mouth near to breaking. She yelped as he buckled the straps out of her reach, but it was reduced to a pitiful, mewling whimper by the tyrannous ballgag before it could escape her throat. The thing was plainly too big for her and it was already starting to hurt, but she had resolved to see this through to the end without further complaint. Surely she must look extremely vulnerable like this, stripped to her underwear, bound so tightly she could barely wriggle and gagged with something out of a horror film...

"I'll start taking pictures in a minute." Zone was watching her closely now, but this time it was not her rope-molded breasts that entranced him. His eyes were locked on her straining mouth and the rounded black surface protruding from between her rosy lips, but somehow this made Rinoa feel more uncomfortable, not less. Why was he staring? What was he looking for? She groaned to express her displeasure at being left like this for longer than was necessary, but all she could produce was a muffled whine...

A drop of water trailed down her chin and dripped onto her breast with a miniscule splash.

It took her a moment to realise what had happened. She was drooling! This horrible gag in her mouth was making her drool! Shame and horror crashed down upon her as she tried desperately to stem the humiliating flow, but with every second that passed it was only getting worse. She couldn't swallow like this, couldn't close her mouth, couldn't stop the drool or even slow it down. A thread of saliva hung from her lower lip, dripping sluggishly onto her chin...

Flash.

The sudden burst of light was gone in an instant, leaving pinpricks of purple and green dancing across Rinoa's vision, but the sinking feeling in her stomach wasn't going anywhere. She knew without looking that her humiliation was now immortalized on film. He'd known that this thing was going to make her drool, she realized with gathering anger. He had been waiting for her to start! Ohh, when she got these ropes off, he was going to get it...

"Lie back on the bed," Zone instructed, either oblivious to her fury or purposely ignoring it. "And try to look scared, like I'm going to kill you if I don't get what I want from your dad."

The only one in danger of getting killed is you, Rinoa would have said if she had been able to speak, but she wasn't even going to try getting her meaning across with the ball gag still lodged inside her mouth. No, there was only one thing she could do now, after she had already sacrificed her modesty and her dignity for the sake of the plan. It had taken a lot of nerve to undress herself and let Zone tie her up like this, and there was no way she could let it go to waste now.

She dropped back onto the bed, resting on her bound arms, and gave the camera the most convincing pleading look that she could muster. The drool was unstoppable now, a continuous cascade from her lip, winding its way down over her bosom and its ropes before trailing onto the bedcovers. Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears that were only partly faked. Flash went the camera, again and again, capturing picture after picture of strict ropes binding limbs, sunny yellow panties, midnight hair disheveled. Her arms ached, her breasts ached, her jaw ached, but it would all be worth it if her father believed the pictures were real. If he believed that she had truly been taken hostage by violent rebels, and obeyed the demands they would send.

Rinoa tried not to think about what would happen if he didn't.

Chapter Text

Rena Lanford/Celine Jules, bondage, role playing

"...and I guess that's when I figured out I didn't like him that much after all." Celine Jules shrugged dismissively, her violet hair shimmering in the sunlight that streamed through the windows of her modest home. She smiled nervously with painted lips, regarding her companion through chocolate eyes as she reached again for her teacup. "He was more embarrassed than I was, naturally. At least I still had some clothes on. Still, it's not one of my fondest memories."

The girl sitting next to her on the leather couch could not hide the blush that had spread across her cheeks. At eighteen years of age Rena Lanford had never so much as kissed someone, let alone ventured as far into sexual territory as her twenty-three year old friend, and Celine's stories of her adventures with men proved as explicit as they were intriguing. Celine knew full well that her blue-haired little friend was a virgin, and enjoyed relating the juicy details of her love life all the more to see her redden and squirm.

"Anyway, that's my end of the agreement held up, I should think." Celine yawned, lazily stretching her gloved arms above her head to fend off the contented sleepiness the warm sun had foisted upon her. "Your turn, Rena. I know you probably don't have stories quite like mine, but there must be some little morsel you can share with me. A deal's a deal, right?"

"Yes. Yes, I know." Rena stared down into her tea, turning the cup around in her hands as she gathered her courage. She had let her curiosity about romantic matters get the better of her and asked her more knowledgeable friend about her experiences in love and sex, but there had been a price to pay for Celine's wisdom. Nobody is completely innocent at eighteen, she had said as she invited Rena inside her home, a mischievous twinkle in her alluring eyes. If I'm going to share, you have to as well. Tell me something about you that nobody knows.

She took a deep breath, setting her cup onto the coffee table before her and raising her knees to her chest. "You remember how I told you about what Alen did before we met, right?"

"Of course! That was quite the story." Celine nodded patiently. "But since I've heard this one before, it doesn't really... wait a minute." Her eyes widened, and she leaned in a little closer to Rena, tingling with excitement. "Did he do something to you while he had you tied up?"

"No!" Rena answered quickly, trying not to dwell on Celine's enthusiastic reaction to the idea. "It's just that... when he..." She swallowed, stalling for time. This was a hard thing to admit to herself, let alone anybody else. "When he tied me onto that altar, I was scared. I didn't know what was going to happen to me, and I couldn't move at all. If I hadn't been rescued..."

This was the sticking point, the part that brought Rena shame, and even now she couldn't stand the idea of anybody else knowing about it. At the same time, though, she did want to share it and Celine was her closest friend, worldly and understanding. She uncurled herself and retrieved her teacup from the table, taking a long sip of her cooling drink while studying Celine for any signs of displeasure. Her worries were unfounded; there was only curiosity on the lovely symbologist's face as Celine stared back, waiting for Rena to continue her tale.

"Well, I..." Rena hesitated one more time, still unwilling to say it out loud, but she forced her nagging worries aside. She had made a deal with her friend, and a silent one with herself when she had accepted Celine's terms. It would be good for her to get it off her chest. "I was scared, but when he tied me down like that, I... I..."

"You kind of liked it," Celine finished for her. There was a gentleness about the beautiful symbologist that one rarely saw as she kept her gaze fixed on Rena.

"I couldn't help it!" Rena wailed, wishing she had kept her mouth shut. Her face flamed crimson, too ashamed to look Celine in the eye. "I know it's stupid and crazy and Alen could have killed me and I really was scared! Feeling like that is the last thing I wanted!"

"Hey, now, calm down." Celine kept her voice even and mild, shifting close to Rena and slipping a comforting arm about the healer's narrow shoulders. "So being the damsel in distress gave you a little thrill. That's nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of girls like being tied up, not to mention some of the guys..."

Rena lowered her head guiltily. "It's not like I was supposed to be having fun! We weren't playing games, it was life and death. What kind of person has feelings like that when they're in real danger? It isn't right!"

"Rena, hush." Celine's tone became stern, though her arm remained around the younger girl's shoulders in sympathy. "Everything turned out all right in the end, didn't it? You, Claude and even Alen were safe. Nobody died. So what if your panties got a little wet? It might have been a little strange for you at the time, getting a kick out of being all helpless, but it didn't hurt anyone."

"I guess not..." Rena smiled tentatively; hearing it put in such straightforward, no-nonsense terms by her wiser friend had made her feel slightly better about her brief arousal at her captivity. Only slightly. Celine's understanding had improved her mood but it didn't lessen her shame at her body's reactions that day. What would Claude have thought if he had known that while he was coming to rescue her that Rena was almost enjoying the feel of Alen's ropes around her wrists and ankles, keeping her pinned and powerless?

~ ~ ~

The two women soon changed the topic and moved on to other things, enjoying each others' company throughout the rest of the day. Time flew, and before they knew it the sun was setting and darkness approaching, leaving Rena little choice but to stay for the night. Celine readily agreed and prepared the guest room for her friend, across the hall from her own room. Eventually they said goodnight and retired for the evening, heading to their separate chambers.

Sleep proved elusive for Rena, tossing and turning in her bed as she sought refuge from her thoughts. Thanks to her earlier conversation with Celine her mind kept wandering back to the day she had been kidnapped by Alen for reasons she did not understand. Why had her old friend suddenly started acting this way? What did he want with her?

No... it wasn't these questions that worried her anymore; they had long since been answered. What was really keeping her awake was the memory of Alen tying her down to the altar in his underground church, so unnaturally strong that she had no hope of resisting him as he laid her on the cool stone surface and began to bind her in place with thin rope and strict knots. With her arms outstretched and her legs tied together on the ominous altar she had been completely helpless and entirely at Alen's mercy...

Yet mixed in with her fear had been a mysterious tingling sensation in her chest and between her thighs, a warm little thrill that only intensified when she pulled against the ropes that held her. She had been unable to move her body at all, so tightly was she secured, and she had known that she was in mortal danger; Alen was clearly not in his right mind. It seemed that he had gone mad, and he could have done anything he liked to her while she was powerless to stop him. She should have been overwhelmed by terror, in fear of her life.

Instead she had found herself praying that nobody noticed her flushed complexion as she struggled against her bindings, searching for a weakness but almost hoping that she was unable to find one...

Those thoughts filled her with disgust at herself, then and now, yet even as she huddled below the bedclothes and drifted off to sleep at last, she found it impossible to banish them entirely from her sleepy mind.

~ ~ ~

Despite the quiet and solitude, sleep had come no easier to Celine than it had to her house-guest. The stunning sorceress found herself staring at the ceiling from the comfort of her bed, turning the day's events over in her head. Rena's confession had piqued her interest, and not just because it wasn't what she had expected of her innocent young friend.

It didn't bother Celine in the least to know that sweet little Rena had secretly liked being manhandled and tied up against her will; in fact she found it intriguing, a hidden side to the cheerful and modest girl that proved that even she wasn't completely pure and innocent. No, it was the fact that Rena seemed ashamed of her feelings that concerned Celine, and the more she thought about it, the more she thought that she should help her friend out...

Yes, that was what she would do. She chewed on her lip as she began to formulate a plan in her head, trying to remember how many scarves she owned...

~ ~ ~

The guest room door slid open an inch at a time, as silent as the dead.

Celine peered through the narrow gap, holding her breath as she scanned the chamber within. The window was closed but the shutters were open, granting gentle moonlight entrance to the darkened room. From the hall outside she could see only silver-touched outlines, but that was enough; the slender form of her guest lay atop the bed, still clad in her own clothing, the covers pulled tight about her body. Rena remained completely still in her slumber, peaceful and silent but for the faint sound and movement of her rhythmic breaths.

Even in the dark Celine knew where the creaking floorboards lay, the path she must take to avoid the furniture as she crept across the room towards the bed. This was her home, her territory. Cute little Rena didn't stand a chance.

She knelt beside the bed, keeping her breathing shallow as she deposited her collection of scarves onto the floor and prepared herself for what she was about to do. This was for Rena's benefit, but Celine could not deny that the thought of being the villain of her friend's fantasies sent a tingle down her spine. She would be in complete control of another person and her desires, against her will and yet not...

"Nnnh..." Rena groaned and shifted beneath the bedcovers. Celine froze, her eyes wide and her heart pounding, but the young healer merely rolled onto her back, descending back into peaceful slumber with an unintelligible murmur.

It was not until she heard the girl's gentle snoring that Celine dared to move once more, reaching to the floor for one of the scarves she had brought with her. This was where things became tricky; she had never actually done something like this before, and much depended on just how heavy a sleeper Rena proved to be. On the other hand, she reminded herself as she reached beneath the covers for Rena's left arm, Celine still had a backup plan in case she really did wake up...

The older woman slipped a length of the silken scarf around Rena's wrist, her eyes on her work but her ears open for any sound from the sleeping girl. She moved slowly at first, half-expecting her friend to awaken at the slightest touch, but as Rena's snores continued unabated Celine's confidence grew. She wound the scarf around and around her victim's wrist, finally satisfied enough after three circuits to tie it off behind Rena's hand, the knot kept out of her reach. The remainder of the scarf was fastened around the corner of the headboard, stretching Rena's arm upward and outward. One limb restrained, three to go.

Next, she would need to secure Rena's other arm to ensure she could not escape. Tiptoeing around the foot of the bed with the rest of her scarves, Celine began to mirror her previous actions at the other side of the room. Kneeling beside the bed, she sought out Rena's right arm beneath the covers and dragged it out into the open, pulling it towards the upper corner of the bed as she reached for a new scarf to tie her friend down further...

"Celine...?"

The sorceress' blood ran cold as she found herself staring into the bleary, unfocused eyes of a suddenly half-awake Rena. Her mind whirled and she struggled not to panic. What should she do? She could drop her friend's wrist and back off, pretend she was just looking for something she had left behind and pray that Rena didn't notice her other arm tied down...

Yet Rena was going to find out what Celine was up to eventually. That was the whole point, after all. Her awakening had happened a little sooner than Celine had been planning, but she could still make it work. It was time to lay her cards on the table, and hope Rena would forgive her when it was all over. "Just hold still, sweetie," she whispered as she knotted the second scarf around Rena's wrist and began to fasten it to the headboard, pulling the girl's arm up and away from her body. "This is for your own good."

By now Rena was wide awake and discovering what Celine had done to her while she had been asleep. She tugged hard against the silken scarf that bound her wrist to the bed so strictly, tried to wrestle her other arm out of Celine's grip and found that neither would give. Her cheeks flushed at the realization that she was practically helpless, but that didn't stop her from struggling to free her arm from the older woman's clutches. "Celine, don't. Untie me."

Celine bit her lip and tried to ignore her friend's pleas as she tied off the knot, leaving both of Rena's wrists bound to opposite corners of the headboard. She knew this wasn't right, that she was hurting her closest friend, and yet rather than untie her from the bed, she stood over her and watched her tug fruitlessly against her strict bindings. "I'm not going to hurt you, Rena," she murmured, stretching a third scarf between her fingers. "I'm going to help you deal with those desires of yours."

"I don't want you to! What were you thinking, Celine!?" Rena thrashed against the scarves that bound her arms once again, but her small body had not the strength to break free. She wasn't athletic or muscular; her strength came from her fists and her healing magic, and neither of those were any use to her now. "Let me go, okay? Please."

For a moment Celine considered untying her friend and wearing the consequences of her actions, but something held her back. Was this really what Rena wanted, or wasn't it? She knew Rena was shy about stating her desires, having only done so today because she felt obliged to Celine. Normally she would assume Rena was truly uncomfortable and untied her right away, but... if she had interpreted Rena's tale correctly it wasn't just being tied up that had excited her when she was abducted. It was being in trouble, and being helpless to do anything about it. Danger, fear, being the damsel in distress.

Did she really want Celine to stop?

She knelt beside the bed and leaned over Rena, bringing her lips to her captive's pointed ear. "If you really want me to let you go, cross your fingers on both hands," she whispered, her chocolate eyes trained on Rena's blue. "Anything else I will assume is part of the game. You got it?"

Rena swallowed, holding Celine's gaze for a long moment. Then, barely noticeable in the darkness, she gave a slight nod. Her fingers remained still.

Celine nodded, pleased with her friend's choice and glad she had thought of this. If Rena truly wanted to feel like a prisoner against her will, she had to be able to beg for her freedom, but Celine needed to be able to discern a real request from a feigned one. Yet this created a dilemma; if Rena truly felt safe in her hands, where was the element of fear? The distress?

Time to call on her acting skills. "We're going to have a wonderful night together, dear Rena," she announced, standing to her full height and looking down on her prisoner with what she hoped was a condescending sneer. Pulling down the covers to expose Rena's lower half, she trailed her finger down the girl's stocking clad leg in search of her ankle. "I am going to do whatever I like to you. You can back out, of course... but if you do, I'm afraid I'll have to tell Claude all about your little fantasies. Maybe your mother too..."

Celine had no intention of doing any such thing, but the threat had the desired effect on Rena, seemingly unsure whether she was bluffing or not. Rena swallowed, tugging again on the scarves binding her wrists. "Please don't. Please don't hurt me, Celine..."

I never threatened to hurt you, Rena. Celine smiled, certain now that her captive was only play-acting. Time to slip into character. "I'm sorry, dear, but Celine is not here right now. The foolish wench was lost the moment she touched my artifact and summoned me from the underworld." Her eyes twinkled as she coiled her scarf around Rena's ankle, knotting it tight enough to make her prisoner gasp in pain. "You may call me Tamiel," she continued as she fastened the scarf to the lower corner of the bed. "Your friend's body belongs to me now. As do you, Rena Lanford."

The tale she told had the desired effect, the story of the artifact reminding Rena of the one that had played a part in her kidnapping. She whimpered and trembled in her bonds, tugging all the more at the scarves binding three of her limbs and kicking at Celine with her only free leg. The sorceress simply laughed and caught her ankle in a single hand, yanking it to the opposite corner of the bed and producing a fourth and final scarf. "You're not getting away, my pretty. Nobody can help you now."

~ ~ ~

In moments Celine's work was complete, the last of her scarves expended.

Rena was now held completely immobile, stretched spreadeagled across the bed and bound at every limb. Celine had never been one for the romantic company of other women, but she had to confess that there was something intriguing at having such a pretty young thing so totally at her mercy, helpless and utterly vulnerable. This was all for Rena's benefit, of course... but there was no reason Celine couldn't enjoy herself as well.

"What do you want from me, Tamiel?" Rena's voice was so subdued and strained that Celine's eyes shot to her captive's fingers, checking once more if she had crossed them to call off their game. She hadn't. The younger girl still pulled against her bonds at times, but it was becoming increasingly obvious to her that the scarves were too strong and the knots too tight to escape. She couldn't move at all. Not that that was a bad thing...

"You'll find out..." Celine purred, sitting beside Rena on the edge of the bed. She was all out of scarves, but that didn't mean the fun had to end. Her hand slipped beneath the elastic band of one of her white silk stockings and began to roll it downward, passing over her knee and descending all the way to her foot. She repeated the process with its twin, swiftly shedding the hose from her creamy skin, leaving her shapely legs bare but for the heraldic symbols tattooed on the inside of her thigh.

With both stockings in hand, she turned back to a confused Rena, smiling the widest smile she could muster. The demon she portrayed in this game of theirs had much still to do before she would be satisfied.

"I didn't do anything! Please let me go!" This time Rena strained so hard against the scarves about her wrists and ankles that Celine began to fear she might break free after all. Her fears died before long; stretched out as she was, she simply could not bring enough strength to bear on any one limb. The scarves were cutting into her skin a little, leaving striking red marks against her pale skin, but Rena did not seem deterred. To all appearances she was terrified, uncomfortable in her bondage, genuinely fearful of ''Tamiel'' and her surely wicked intentions... but she hadn't crossed her fingers.

She really did like it.

"Sorry, my dear, but letting you go would ruin my plans." Playing the role of the demon from the underworld was much more fun than Celine had anticipated, an excuse to give up her own wants and worries and simply be a part of her friend's fantasies. She loomed over Rena, stretching the first of her stockings between her hands. "If all you are going to do is beg for mercy like a child, I will save myself the annoyance of listening to you..."

Rena's mouth slid open to welcome the silken hose as Celine slipped it between the younger girl's parted teeth, forcing it down into the corners of her lips. She shuddered as the tautened fabric gouged into the edges of her soft mouth, but she held back her protests and accustomed herself to the way her lips were pulled closed around the invading stocking, the lacy garment already moistening as her saliva began to soak into it. Celine wrapped it around her prisoner's head a second time, adding another layer to the length inside Rena's mouth before securing it in place with a tight knot behind the girl's head.

This had probably ruined her favourite pair of stockings, Celine lamented, but seeing the look of elation in Rena's eyes was worth it. The newly gagged girl could still speak through the stocking contorting her mouth, but the words were garbled and muffled nearly beyond recognition, her feigned pleas for release twisted into a humiliating series of moans and grunts.

"Hmm... I can't make out a word you're saying, my dear." The sorceress smiled with mock regret, taking up the remaining stocking and smoothing out the wrinkles with her thumbs. "I'm sure it isn't anything important, coming from a mortal girl. Now, I have one last surprise for you before we begin the ceremony..."

She leaned over Rena once again and lowered the stocking toward her captive's eyes, watching them go wide with alarm at the threat of losing her sight. Her fingers twitched for a moment as if she might cross them and call their game to a close, then tentatively relaxed in silent consent to Celine's intentions as she warmed to the idea of being blindfolded. No further resistance was offered as Celine draped the silken garment across Rena's eyes, knotting it tightly behind her head as she had with the gag and sealing her into darkness.

Blinded, silenced, stretched to her limits and held in place without hope of escape, Rena knew that she should have been frightened out of her wits. The restrictions Celine had wrought on her body were even more stringent than those Alen had used when he tied her down to his underground altar. There was a tiny spark of worry at the back of her mind, but her manufactured fear was overwhelmed by near exhilaration at her plight, knowing that this time she was safe in Celine's hands. Rena was relaxed in her discomfort, free in her helplessness, able to struggle and thrash and scream into her gag all she pleased, but only this and no more. Her world had shrunk to the size of her bed, and the only inhabitants were herself and her friend... no, her demonic captor.

Tamiel could do anything she wanted to Rena, and she would be powerless to resist. This breathtaking knowledge conjured a horde of butterflies to flutter within her chest as she felt Celine's weight leave the mattress, powerless even to see where her captor was going through the silken cloth covering her eyes. What was she going to do to her? What was this 'ceremony' she had mentioned? All she could do was wait and listen.

Celine mulled over the same questions as she looked down upon her prisoner, biting her lip in indecision. Was this enough? Should she go further? What did Rena want? There was no way she could ask without breaking the illusion of mortal peril they had woven between them. Celine hadn't planned beyond the moment she had Rena utterly helpless, but it did not feel right to leave things here when she could do so much more. She would have to improvise. What would truly frighten Rena?

Her lips compressed into a wicked smile as she hit upon an answer.

"You asked me what I wanted from you, my dear," the sorceress murmured, wrapping herself in the persona of the demon Tamiel, letting her inhibitions slip beneath a facade of malicious cruelty. "It is really quite simple. The body of this woman is too weak to serve my purposes in this world; I must regain my own form if I am to wield the entirety of my powers. For that, I need to conduct an infernal ceremony, but I am missing one key ingredient..."

Her hand darted beneath the hem of Rena's skirt and brushing languidly against her bare thigh, knowing her victim could not close her legs to defend herself. "I require the blood of a newly despoiled virgin."

The reaction was swift and vigorous. Rena yelped at the unexpected touch, the panicked alarm in her voice unmissable despite the stocking wrapped through her mouth. Her struggles against her bindings were born anew and she violently shook her head in protest at the intimate intusion, but Celine's hand had already wandered to the dampened crotch of her thrashing captive's underwear before she finally looked up and noticed that Rena had crossed her fingers.

The signal to stop.

"...I'm sorry, Rena." Celine withdrew her hand immediately, her Tamiel persona forgotten. She had finally gone too far, had let herself get caught up in the moment. She bitterly cursed herself as she loosened Rena's gag and pulled the sodden stocking from her mouth, then tore away the blindfold from her eyes. Things had been going so well...

Only silence passed between the two women for long, agonizing moments. Ashamed Celine looked down upon still-bound Rena, waiting for the inevitable demand to remove the scarves that pinned the younger girl to the bed. Guilt plagued her every thought. She had abused Rena's hard-won trust, tainted her fantasy, and all after Celine had forced this on her in the first place by tying her up in her sleep of all things. There could be no doubt that she had ruined their friendship tonight.

Rena was still staring up at her. Hadn't spoken a word, even after her gag was removed. She was bound at every limb but Celine was sure that she herself was less comfortable than her erstwhile captive. The silence was getting to her; she had to break it. "I'm really sorry," she repeated, swallowing hard and looking away. "I was... just trying to scare you more. I wouldn't really have..."

"I know," Rena whispered, her aching lips curving into a gentle smile. "It just... really scared me when you put your hand there. It was more than I... I mean, I'm not..."

"You'd rather the only hand down your panties was your own," Celine finished, raising a knowing eyebrow and smirking brazenly. Though saucy on the outside, within she was breathing a heavy sigh of relief that Rena didn't hate her for her transgression.

"Y-yeah." Rena's face burned scarlet, leaving her grateful for the poor lighting the moon provided them. "For now at least."

Celine chuckled and knelt beside the bed, reaching for one of the scarves that still imprisoned her friend. Yet when her nimble fingers began to unfasten the silken knot that held Rena's ankle in place, the young healer cleared her throat and shook her head as best she could. "Can I just... stay like this a little longer?" she asked shyly, flexing her fingers as if to remind herself she still possessed them. "I don't know when I'll get another chance..."

"Of course, sweetie. Although if you ever need this again, you only need ask." Celine tightened the knot once more, her mood improving at the realization that her dear friend's trust in her hadn't dimmed at all. She checked the other three scarves that held Rena down and slipped the gag back into her captive's waiting mouth, a muffled sigh of contentment echoing in her ears as she scooted onto the floor and squinted into the darkness. Now where had she thrown that blindfold...

Chapter Text

Daphne Blake/OCs, bondage, kidnapping, non-con, this doesn't really fit with the others but it was a request

Miller watched the young woman step out of the front door of her house, his leering face hidden by the tinted window of the van parked on the other side of the peaceful suburban street.

As she moved from the shadow of her home into the steadily waning sunlight, her observer cast a hasty glance down at the dossier in his lap, comparing the girl in the photograph to the one now making her way across the neatly trimmed lawn toward her driveway. He had to be one hundred percent certain that this lady’s face matched the picture provided by his client. Once you made that mistake on a job the first time, you never made it again.

The resemblance was certainly there. She was tall and slim and quite attractive indeed, just like the woman in the picture. She had the same deep brown eyes, and the same waves of fiery red hair flowed to her shoulders, kept in check around her face by a purple hairband that matched the color of her thigh-length, figure-hugging dress. Sheer pink stockings sheathed her smooth legs in nylon from the hem of her skirt, down to dainty feet closed in by heeled purple shoes. A pale green scarf was curled about her neck, the ends draping loose over her chest.

Even the same clothes as in the picture, Miller noted with surprised amusement. That made this easy. A grin of relief slid across his stubble-dotted face.

That's my target, all right. That’s Daphne Blake.

Oblivious to the hostile eyes locked upon her from across the street, Daphne opened the door of her garage with the touch of a button on the remote control, revealing a small red sports car waiting patiently upon its owner's pleasure. Miller continued to watch her as she climbed inside and started the engine, reversed the expensive vehicle down the driveway, and drove off down the street with a trail of vibrant red hair blowing wildly in her wake.

When she returned, he would be waiting for her.

~ ~ ~

It was after ten o'clock by the time Daphne finally made it back home, an evening of good food and the company of friends still gloriously fresh in her mind. The long and lively gathering had tired her out, she reflected as she closed the front door behind her and set the security chain in place, but it had been well worth it. She had badly needed the chance to unwind.

Sighing contentedly, she switched on the lights and headed upstairs, already dreaming of her comfortable bed. Her schedule tomorrow was a busy one, for her new career as a journalist was tough and demanding, and days off such as today were few and far between. She would need her rest tonight, or she would suffer for it tomorrow.

She stepped inside her bedroom and flicked the light switch on here as well, waiting until the bulb in the ceiling flared to life before crossing the room to close the floor-length curtains. As she seized hold of the drapes, a cool wisp of air teased her cheek, making her blink in confusion before realizing the cause. She had left the window open while she was out, yet again.

Annoyed with herself, she pulled the window shut and made sure to lock it. Someday her carelessness was going to come back and bite her, she lectured herself as she closed the curtains. What would she have done if she had been robbed while she was away? A proper journalist should be much more attentive to detail.

Her fit of irritation lasted only moments, swiftly forgotten as she began to prepare for much-needed sleep. Now assured of her privacy, Daphne kicked off her shoes and set them down at the end of her four-poster bed, then reached up to unwind her trademark scarf from around her neck. As she discarded the familiar green accessory, letting it flutter to the floor by her stocking-clad feet, and reached for the hem of her skirt, she failed to notice her closet door slowly swinging open...

~ ~ ~

Miller had expected a shriek of alarm as he stepped out of the closet, but what he received was very different.

Her vision blocked by her dress as she lifted it up and over her head, Daphne remained completely unaware of her audience as she undressed herself before his eyes. Turning her back to the closet just as the dress cleared her head, she dropped the purple garment to the floor and reached behind her for the clasp of her brassiere, humming a little tune to herself. Her vulnerable beauty in that moment, her slender body clothed only in black panties and bra and thin pink stockings, her fiery hair hanging free over her bare, pale shoulders, made Miller’s breath catch in his throat. He cursed himself for not thinking to bring a camera.

Well, there'd be time enough for pictures later.

His pistol in his hand and a smile on his face, he took a step across the carpet toward the half-naked girl and cleared his throat to announce his presence at last. "Hello, Miss Blake."

Daphne spun around to face the source of the thick voice, a cry of shock flying from her lips as her hands moved instinctively to cover herself. Her brown eyes widened in horror as she took in the sight of the large, muscle-bound man in black standing in her bedroom, a gun in his hand pointed straight at her.

Time seemed to freeze. This wasn't the first time she had been at gunpoint, but it never seemed to get any easier on her nerves. Being dressed only in the skimpiest underwear she owned didn’t help matters. "W-who are you?” she stammered, trying to steady her hammering heart enough to concentrate. ”What are you doing in my house!?"

"Who I am doesn't matter," Miller snapped, using his harshest of tones to impress his absolute authority into his victim’s mind. His free hand went to the pocket of his trousers and produced a pair of sturdy hinged handcuffs, which he tossed across the room for Daphne to catch. "Put these on. Behind your back."

Daphne caught the cuffs easily, swallowing as she staring down at them in dismay. Being tied up was nothing new to her either, but it had never happened to her like this, in her own home and on her own time. "Can I at least put my dress back on first?" she questioned, a pleading note in her voice. She wasn’t going to be able to hide behind her hands any more, and her underthings provided very little protection for her modesty.

Cold silence was the only response she received, and she knew that her request was denied.

Daring to hesitate no longer, Daphne slipped one of the cuffs around her right wrist, closing it until it clicked into the locked position. There was something final about the snap of the mechanism, an action that she would not be able to reverse, but there was no choice given to her in the matter. With a great deal of reluctance, she positioned her hands side by side behind her back and secured the second cuff around her right wrist, securing them together. The restraints were tight and unforgiving, allowing her little movement of her arms; that, she noted with a sinking feeling, was of course the point.

"Good," Miller growled as Daphne turned around to display her cuffed wrists to him, a token of her obedience. He was sorry to lose sight of her barely covered breasts, but business had to come first. "Now get down on the floor and behave yourself. I'll try not to be too rough with you if you co-operate."

Daphne obeyed immediately this time, kneeling on the floor before slowly lowering herself to the carpet on her side. For someone else this might have been a frustrating procedure, but Daphne was all too used to having her hands bound behind her and the awkwardness and discomfort that ensued. With the amount of practice she had gained over the last few years, she had become a master of moving her body in bondage. Sometimes she was even able to escape on her own... but that was usually down to poorly-tied knots rather than her own skill. This time, she wasn’t going to be able to exploit shoddy ropework.

The intruder returned to Daphne’s closet and retrieved an ominous black duffel bag from where he had left it, carrying it across the room and dropping it onto the floor beside the handcuffed girl with a heavy thump. It wasn’t hard for Daphne to guess what was inside; she knew the routine well enough. She watched her unwelcome guest as he unzipped the bag, stopping to consider the contents for a few seconds before plucking from within a large roll of thick silver duct tape.

“What do you intend to do with me?” she demanded as her captor forced her legs together, then began wrapping tape around her nylon-clad ankles to bind them in place. It was an irkingly familiar feeling for Daphne, but still far from a pleasant one. “Couldn’t you have just robbed me while I was out?”

“Rob you? I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong idea.” As he spoke, Miller began to bind Daphne’s thighs together just above her knees, further pinning her legs to one another. His use of duct tape rather than rope would make this much more difficult to escape from, she noted in dismay. “I’m taking you on a trip, Miss Blake, whether you like it or not. I am in the employ of a lady who wishes very much to meet with you. An admirer, you could say.”

Daphne cringed as he finished taping her thighs; she could hardly move her legs at all anymore. This was some of the tightest bondage she had ever been placed in, and that was not a short list. “She could have just written a nice letter to the paper if she likes my work, you know! What is she, crazy?”

“Yes,” her captor said without humor, his hands and eyes moving up to Daphne’s luridly exposed chest. He seemed to be having great difficulty keeping his gaze off of her breasts, the redhead noticed with disgust, but she bit her tongue rather than risk angering him. She was used to being ogled by men as well, even if not usually in her underwear. “And when I said that she was an admirer,” the intruder added belatedly, wrapping layers of tape around Daphne’s torso and forearms, binding her handcuffed arms to her back, “I didn’t mean that she liked your journalism.”

He leaned over and snatched up her scarf from the carpet, crushing it into a ball in the palm of his hand while Daphne attempted to process that disturbing information. Suddenly very frightened indeed, she didn’t resist him as he forced the wadded scarf between her lips, stuffing her mouth full of cloth and packing down her tongue. This wasn’t like the dozens of times she had been tied up in the past, she was beginning to realize with dread. This wasn’t just about getting her out of the way for a few hours. She wasn’t going to be rescued in the next five minutes and have forgotten about it in ten...

Unfortunately, it was too late to do anything about it now. Her abductor was almost finished the process of binding her, and he had done an excellent job of immobilizing her body from head to toe, rendering both her legs and her arms completely useless. As she lay there, unable to do anything but squirm, he pressed a strip of tape over her painted lips, then another and another, coating her jaw with a muzzle of clinging silver to ensure that she didn’t spit out the stuffing inside her mouth. Daphne groaned into her saliva-wet scarf as the adhesive took hold of her skin, wishing that she had resisted when she had the chance. If he was here to kidnap her on behalf of an admirer of hers, he probably wouldn’t have shot her...

Not that it mattered anymore. The duct tape and handcuffs binding her were too tight and secure to escape. She had blown her only chance of getting out of this one easily... and that meant that before long, she would come face to face with this ‘admirer’ of hers.

She was not looking forward to it.

~ ~ ~

“I am sure you are wondering many things.” The lips of the strange woman sitting across from her curved into a warm smile, as if she were engaged in some cosy little chat with a friend. Her words rang with a rather strong French accent, though her English was perfect. “Who I am, where you are, why you are here. Am I correct?”

“Mrrrph...” Her scarf still taped inside her mouth, now soaked through after more than three days of collecting saliva, Daphne was hardly able to give a coherent response to the woman before her. The past days had been unkind to the lovely young journalist; she had barely been fed by her abductor, left tied up and gagged through most of her trip to who-knew-where, and now she found herself tied to a chair in a sumptuously decorated sitting room of quality and size that one might expect to find in a mansion. Yes, she wanted answers, but she was almost afraid of hearing them.

“Well, I will indulge you.” The other woman lazed in her chair, watching Daphne through green eyes edged by thickly applied mascara, and raised her wine glass to her lips to take a lengthy sip before continuing. Her skin was eerily pale, almost ghostlike, a world apart from the solid black of her buttoned blouse and ankle-length skirt. Blond hair near as ashen as her flesh hung limp around her face, ceasing at her chin in a uniform line around her head. Daphne could certainly believe that this woman was crazy, as her abductor had claimed; there was a mad glint in her eyes as she observed her captive’s immobilized body, from her hands bound to the arms of the chair to her ankles fastened to the chair’s own legs, to the silver tape pressed firm against her lips.

The woman’s eyes roamed Daphne’s body, making her long for coverings more substantial than the underwear she had been kidnapped in. “You are in Calais. That’s Calais, France, not some mere pretender to the name.” She grinned at Daphne’s visible shock, showing off pearly teeth between her scarlet lips. “Oh yes, you are very far from home. As long as we are on the subject of names, you may know me by Yvonne. It is not my birth name - I was born American, unfortunately, much like you - but I discarded the tasteless name my parents gave me long ago. Of course, soon enough you will be calling me Mistress.”

“Mmmgh?!” It had been days since Daphne had known anything but fear, but the way she said those words sent a shiver down her spine, stronger than anything she had felt before. She was in France!? How on Earth was she going to get home?

...Was she going to go home? It was no longer easy to imagine. At first she had thought her abduction a dream, but endless hours spent squeezed inside a cramped and constantly moving crate had dispelled that vain hope. This was reality, and there was no easy way out.

“I first saw you on television six months ago, before you switched careers to journalism.” Yvonne leaned forward, her gaze intense. Daphne would have recoiled if her bonds had allowed it. “You had solved a crime in my hometown back in Pennsylvania. I had only bothered to watch the footage because my cousin was involved... but the moment I saw you, I was captivated. You were beautiful then, as you are now. Stunningly so.”

The compliment brought a blush to Daphne’s cheeks, only half-visible beneath the duct tape, but she did not like where this was going.

“I knew that I had to have you.” Swallowing the rest of her wine, Yvonne set her glass onto the table next to her chair and stood. She was much taller than Daphne had first thought. “You were perfect. Just what I had been looking for. I soon had my people locate you, and organised to have you brought to me. It was not cheap, but you are worth any price.” She crouched in front of Daphne’s chair, the sicky sweet scent of perfume washing over the red-haired captive. “Tell me, is this your first time being tied up?”

She would have laughed, had her mood been less dismal. Instead, she settled for shaking her head. This was far from the first time, but it was by far the longest she had ever spent bound and gagged on a single occasion. If she hadn’t been tired of it before, she certainly would have been by now.

“Excellent.” Yvonne’s hand began to wander, her knuckles scraping against the smooth skin of Daphne’s inner thigh. ”I am glad you are used to it, because you will be spending your entire visit here in some form of bondage. I would hate for it to be unpleasant to you.”

Mmmmhh!” Daphne vented her displeasure into her wadded scarf, straining against her bonds as Yvonne caressed her thigh. It wasn’t the woman’s touch that had upset her so, though that was certainly unwelcome; it was the prospect of a longer period spent tied up. Being used to it did notmean that she liked it; she had already had more than enough! This Yvonne really was insane, and not only wealthy enough to own a house such as this, but with means enough to pay somebody to kidnap her from across the Atlantic, then fly her all the way to France...

If it was true. They could have been still in the United States for all she knew. Daphne had seen sneakier tricks played.

“Yes, show me your defiance! Your spirit!” Yvonne beamed, filled with a surge of excitement that seemed to come from nowhere. “The readers love that! Oh, I was going to let you rest from your trip before we begin, but I can’t wait any longer! We shall get started immediately!”

Daphne stared, uncomprehending. Readers? Get started?

“You’re going to be a star, Daphne, more famous than you ever would have been as a journalist.” Yvonne’s emerald eyes twinkled with delight, completely oblivious to her prisoner’s discomfort. “I’ll make you the most popular bondage model in Europe! Magazines are much more glamorous than tatty old newspapers, wouldn’t you agree?”

Had it not been stifled by her scarf and layers of tape, Daphne’s outraged scream might have shattered windows.

~ ~ ~

Daphne’s one hope of escape had been to wait until she was untied from the chair, but for all her madness, this Yvonne woman proved to be no fool. She had called in her servants before moving to release Daphne from her bonds; a pair of stone-faced men in suits, carrying what appeared to be electrical stun guns. Daphne had no desire to experience the business end of such a weapon, leaving her with no choice but to meekly allow Yvonne to untie her from the chair without resistance.

When the first of her arms was freed from its armrest, she attempted to tear off the layers of tape glued across her lips, but Yvonne intercepted her hand with her own and shook her head in warning. “Leave the gag on. I will remove it when it is time.”

Groaning in annoyance, Daphne let her hand drop back to her side and waited for Yvonne to finish untying her. The scarf had been taped inside of her mouth for three days already, only removed for less than a minute at a time whenever Miller deigned to give her food and water, and oh was she ever looking forward to spitting it out. Unfortunately, it appeared that she would need to wait a little longer.

When the last of the ropes finally left her body, Daphne was made to stand and commanded to follow the madwoman out of the sitting room. With the duo of armed servants following close behind, she didn’t dare disobey her host just yet. There was only one option open to her, and she was smart enough to know her limits. Even if she were to make a successful getaway, she didn’t know the layout of the house or how many other guards there were, and she most certainly didn’t know her way around Calais, much less speak French...

Ugh, I can practically feel those thugs staring at my butt! Do they plan to keep me in my underwear forever!?

Her question was answered much sooner than she had expected, as Yvonne guided her from the corridor and into a side room, lit by fluorescent tubes in the ceiling to compensate for the lack of windows. There was a lack of furniture as well, the entire contents of the room consisting of what appeared to be a closet set into the wall, its doors closed tight to hide its contents, and a table against the far wall.

It was the items laid out on the table that immediately drew Daphne’s attention, and for all the wrong reasons. A brief black dress, trimmed with white lace ruffles at the sleeves and the thigh-length skirt. A frilly white apron, and a headpiece in the same color and style. Thin black stockings and suspenders, high-heeled shoes... and to Daphne’s dismay, a matching set of diaphanous white panties and bra, adorned by frivolous little ribbons. A French maid costume? She can’t be serious! Is it just because we’re in France? At least it was a great deal more modest than what she was wearing now...

“You may get changed now,” Yvonne purred, her tone making plain that there was no ‘may’ about it. “We can begin once you are done.”

Daphne’s brown eyes glanced at the door, where the two servants were staring back at her emotionlessly, their stun guns in hand. She questioned it, at least as best she coould with a gag in her mouth.

“Yes, with them watching.” Yvonne raised an eyebrow, apparently amused at Daphne’s hesitation. “Don’t be shy. These will hardly be the only men to see you naked, once our first shoot is complete and the magazine goes to print. And don’t even think about putting your costume on over what you are wearing now. Take those off first, if you please.”

There was no need to wonder about the penalty for disobedience. Turning away from the guards and their delusional employer, Daphne reached for the clasp of her bra, intent on finding out just how quickly she could dress herself in the provocative clothes that had been prepared for her. Despite what Yvonne had said, she had no plans to accustom herself to being nude in front of leering male eyes anytime soon. She would just need to get this over with as swiftly as possible, and try not to dwell on her audience.

~ ~ ~

Somehow, the simple act of wearing the frilly maid costume was very nearly as embarrassing to Daphne as being forced to strip nude in front of Yvonne and her guards had been. Perhaps it was the overly short skirt, or the ridiculously skimpy underwear, or just the implication of subservience that came naturally with the clothing of a servant. It must be the latter, Daphne decided as she was made to leave the changing room and continue down the hall at stun-gunpoint. She had been wearing far less since she first woke up in this lunatic’s mansion; for skin coverage alone this was leagues better than her bra and panties from home.

Less of a comfort was the room to which Yvonne and the pair of blank-faced underlings led her to. Well-lit by generous windows that allowed the sunlight to stream in, the chamber was for the most part empty, lacking any sort of furniture at all. The wooden flooring, however, was dotted with tiny metal loops that protruded from cracks between the floor-boards, so many that Daphne could hardly count them all. This was replicated on the ceiling, but with hooks instead of loops, a few of which had leftover ropes dangling from their barbed grasps. More rope was to be found stored on hooks set into the walls all around the room, along with many other pieces of equipment Daphne had no desire to see. Leather, metal, plastic, rubber...

“This is where the magic happens,” Yvonne said with no small amount of pride, introducing the room with a flourish and a grin. “You will be spending a great deal of time here, Daphne, and I promise that you will learn to love it!”

“Mmmphh...” Daphne could not bring herself to look interested even to satisfy her captor. Her dark eyes reflected defiant disinterest as she looked back at Yvonne, intent on communicating her disdain for the situation even through her gag.

“Well, you’ll come around.” Unfazed, Yvonne placed a hand on Daphne’s shoulder and squeezed gently. “We have all the time in the world, after all... but not so much time that we can ignore my deadlines. Hold still.” Her polished fingernails darted to the strips of tape glued over her unwilling guest’s lips, plucked at the edge, then tore the entire collection away from her face in a single movement.

Daphne screamed into her wadded scarf as pain shot through her cheeks, wasting no time in spitting the sodden thing onto the floor. “You can’t do this to me!” she shouted in Yvonne’s smiling face, the first coherent words she had spoken since her abduction from her bedroom. “I have rights! You can’t just kidnap people like this!”

“I think you will find that you are wrong,” Yvonne crooned, not the least bit bothered by the outburst. “Look around. Do you see anybody who might be willing to help you? Do you think I would leave the windows open so wide if there were any risk of somebody seeing you? I am afraid that the only law that matters in this house is my law.”

“Ugh...” Daphne wanted to show this demented tramp just how easily laws could be broken, assault laws in specific, but the knowledge that the two thugs and their stun guns were still behind her kept her in check. She would have to co-operate... for now.

~ ~ ~

“What exactly is going to happen?” Daphne dared to ask as her hands were yanked behind her back by an insistent Yvonne, her wrists crossed and lashed together with abrasive ropes. Much as she hated it, this was something that she was more accustomed to than stripping in front of strangers or crossing an ocean in a cramped, dark box. This time, though, the aim of her predicament wasn’t to get her out of the way so some half-witted villain could carry out his ridiculous plans. This was about her.

“We are going to tell a story together,” was Yvonne’s response, another coil of rope finding its way around Daphne’s ankles. Staying upright with her legs pulled together and high-heeled shoes on her feet proved difficult, but fear of displeasing this madwoman by falling on her rear bolstered Daphne’s resolve to remain on her feet. “I am the wealthy owner of this mansion, though that is hardly a fiction. You are a maid who has displeased me. Your punishment will be captured on camera for the enjoyment of the readers. They and I will expect a convincing performance, and you do not want to disappoint us.”

“And my... her punishment is being tied up?” Daphne winced as the ropes around her ankles were drawn even tighter, pinching her skin through her stockings. This woman was good at this; Daphne had learned to tell the difference between bindings she could slip out of and those she could not, and this definitely fell into the latter category.

“Among other things.” Yvonne’s hand clapped onto Daphne’s behind, squeezing her flesh and making her gasp in dismay. Ohh, if only she had the freedom to engage this she-devil on equal ground, without the ever-present threat of her goons...

Satisfied with her ropework for the moment, Yvonne gently laid Daphne on the floor on her side and left her there, moving to retrieve something from a black bag in the corner of the room. A camera, Daphne noticed, and certainly not a cheap one. It was the sort of device a professional photographer might carry; she had seen them before in the hands of her fellow journalists. Being on this end of one, tied up and wearing this humiliating costume, Daphne was finally starting to comprehend just how real this was...

“Give me an angry look,” Yvonne demanded, adjusting a setting on her camera and pointing it towards Daphne. “You’re defiant! Furious that you’ve been treated like this! It should not be a stretch for you right now, I’m sure...”

Daphne might have defied her, had she not been fearful of the stun guns waiting to jolt her vulnerable body... and had she not been so outraged that she couldn’t have given any other expression even had she been ordered to. She glared at Yvonne and her voyeuristic camera, her dark eyes hateful, straining against the ropes binding her wrists and ankles...

“Perfect.” Yvonne smiled, and the camera flashed.

~ ~ ~

The hogtie was painfully tight, straining her arms and her folded legs to their limits, but Daphne was in no position to complain about her situation. The large pink ballgag wedged inside her mouth saw to her silence, the only things now escaping her wide-stretched mouth a collection of unhappy grunts and a thin but constant trail of drool seeping from between rubber and lip. It was uncomfortable, infuriating and completely humiliating; she had much preferred it when her captors simply taped her mouth or tied a cloth between her teeth...

The worst part, however, had nothing to do with her arduous bindings. After considering the hogtied young journalist for a few minutes, watching her squirm and wondering aloud just what was missing from the picture, Yvonne had come to the conclusion that Daphne was not yet showing quite enough skin. Her solution had been to hike up the already-brief skirt of Daphne’s maid outfit, tucking it beneath her body and exposing her thighs and the sheer white fabric of her borrowed panties.

At least her legs were tied together, Daphne consoled herself as a radiant blush spread across her cheeks. It was a strange thing to think after all the times she had cursed her many bindings over the years, but every inch of her body that was covered brought her fleeting but welcome comfort.

“Yes, keep that blush going!” A delighted Yvonne snapped picture after picture of Daphne’s scarlet face, capturing on film her distended, drooling mouth and the shimmer of her unshed tears as her utter mortification conquered all other emotions. “Your range is impressive, my dear! Oh, I wonder how your face will speak of desire, or of pain, or of pleasure...”

~ ~ ~

Of those possibilities, it was pain that Daphne would discover first.

She had been freed from her hogtie eventually, her legs untied and the ballgag removed from her aching mouth, but this was no generous respite. Yvonne offered her no time to rest before hauling her to her feet with the assistance of one of her thugs, dragging her to the center of the room and forcing her to stand in place as they bound her once again. Another rope was fastened to her wrists, still tightly secured behind her back, then passed through one of the many hooks protruding from the ceiling.

“What are you doing?” Daphne’s question came out as more of a sullen whine than she had intended, despising how easily she had been made a plaything of this lunatic of a woman. The bondage was more than distressing enough, but the sexual side of her captivity was even more frightening. At least gravity had allowed her skirt to fall back over her thighs, covering the embarrassingly thin underwear that she had been forced to model for the camera...

“This is something that we call the strappado position. You will become used to it, in time.” Yvonne’s words were accompanied by a disconcerting tug on Daphne’s wrists, and she turned her head to look over her shoulder just in time to see the rope connecting them to the ceiling pull taut. Her arms were tugged backward and upward, yanked away from her back and toward the roof, sending burning threads of pain lancing through her shoulders and arms as her limbs were forced to contort in ways they had never bent before. An agonised gasp fell from Daphne’s lips as the very end of the rope was tied to one of the floor-level loops, leaving her almost dangling from the hook in the ceiling, preventing her from lowering her arms even slightly.

She stumbled about, attempting to find a comfortable position, but there was none to be found no matter which way she turned. If only there were something she could stand on to lessen the stress on her protesting shoulders... but there was nothing so convenient left lying around, and even if there had been, Daphne knew that it would have quickly been taken away. Still, the increasing pain surging through her limbs spurred her to keep looking for relief, her labored breathing choked by shaking gasps...

“The finishing touch,” Yvonne murmured from behind her, and Daphne quickly found another ballgag pressed beyond her teeth, locking her jaw open once again. The black plastic was slightly smaller this time, to her relief, but she could feel with her tongue that its surface was dotted with little holes. Already the saliva was welling up behind the gag, and this time it was going to be even harder to hold the humiliating strings of drool inside of her mouth...

How much more of this am I supposed to take?

~ ~ ~

“That will do for today.” Yvonne smiled over the rim of her camera, mascara-rimmed eyes appraising the subject of her photography with approval. “It looks like you could use a rest, and I suppose you’ve earned it. You have given me a wealth of material for the next issue.”

Daphne could only groan in response, too weary and sore to speak even had the knotted scarf not been tied so tightly between her straining lips. Hours of abuse had taken their toll on her, leaving her so weak that she could not have raised a finger to save herself if Yvonne’s thugs and their stun guns had suddenly vanished from the face of the earth, and even now she was still tightly bound in the ropes of this crazed woman. Her arms, still aflame with aches from a long session of being twisted, bent and stretched, were bound palm to palm behind her back in an arrangement Yvonne had called the reverse prayer, her muscles begging for the mercy they had been denied for so long. More ropes secured her ankles to her thighs, ensuring that her legs remained bent at all times and keeping her down on her knees like the servant she had been forcibly dressed as.

The maid outfit was gone now though, taken from her after the fourth change in position, leaving her wearing only the borrowed underwear that had come with the skimpy little dress. The translucent panties and bra barely hid any of her glistening body from view, the sweat-drenched fabric clinging to her skin and displaying her nipples and crotch for the camera, but Daphne’s mortification at her exposure had slowly dwindled to mild embarrassment as the session wore on and on, and then to complete apathy. She had been tied up in so many ways, gagged with so many disgusting objects, fondled so many times between pictures, that her ordeal had all become one long, humiliating blur.

The damp scarf was torn from Daphne’s mouth by the rough hand of one of the thugs, and a bottle of water pressed against her lips and tilted. She drank gratefully, letting the cool stream of liquid slide down her throat and expunge the taste of a dozen different gags from her tongue. Somewhat revitalized, but still beset by the same terrible aches throughout her limbs, she waited for the underling to remove the bottle and spoke quickly before she could be gagged again. “You got what you wanted from me... so let me go. You know I’ll never be able to rat you out once I’m back in America... I don’t even know your real name...”

“Let you go? Are you mad?” Yvonne cackled, a wild explosion of mirth, leaving no doubt which of them was truly bereft of her sanity. “You will be in enormous demand once the world sees these pictures! Who am I to deny you your time in the spotlight? The best models can stay in the business for years! Trust me, your career is just getting started.”

“Y-years? Years!? You can’t be serious!” The very idea of spending so long in this madwoman’s mansion, most of it no doubt in ropes, drove Daphne into an anxious frenzy. She thrashed against her bindings with all of her strength, paying no heed to the pain that blazed through her arms as they protested this latest punishment, but the thin cords refused to break or loosen in the slightest. “You can’t do this to me! You can’t hold me priso- mmrrgh!”

Daphne’s tongue was abruptly stilled as Yvonne pulled the knotted scarf back into her mouth, ensuring the knot was strict enough to pull the gag back into the corners of her lips. Though Daphne winced momentarily at the return of this discomfort, she only increased the volume of her enraged shouting in response, her furious screeching loud but incoherent through the thick wall of saliva-wet cloth. Her tired, sweaty body strained harder against the ropes binding her, heedless of the way her breasts bounced for the eyes of her audience of three and the view of her intimate folds provided by her parted thighs and diaphanous panties. Every muscle in her body screamed in suffering as the rough ropes cleaved into her flesh, cutting angry, ridged trails of pink into her wrists and arms and thighs and ankles...

All for nothing. Her freedom was no closer than when she had woken up half-naked and tied to a chair. Thoroughly exhausted, Daphne let herself fall onto her side, panting through her nose and moaning her frustrations into her gag. No friends were coming to save her this time, no easy way out had presented itself and her captor... she wasn’t ever going to let Daphne go.

~ ~ ~

The ropes binding her legs were eventually removed, but only to permit her to walk from the room and back down the mansion’s halls to their next destination. Her steps were shaky, pain shooting through her feet and her thighs with every pace she was forced to take, but she dared not slow down for even an instant, constantly aware of the thugs and their stun guns shadowing her. After the ordeal she had been through over the last few hours she was in no shape to handle an electric shock or three.

Ascending the mansion’s central staircase was a trial all on its own. With her hands still tied palm to palm behind her, Daphne was left with no way to protect herself should she slip and fall, and her aching legs threatened to buckle completely if she asked too much of them after so much strain. At least she hadn’t been made to wear the high heels again; the task would have been impossible with that added awkwardness. Going barefoot was preferable by far, though that too had its discomforts.

There was nothing more uncomfortable to Daphne, however, than the realization that the end of their journey through the mansion had brought them to Yvonne’s bedroom.

The moment she stepped through the door, ahead of the suited thugs but behind Yvonne, her eyes went straight to the large canopy bed at the center of the room. It was hard not to notice the ostentatious piece of furniture, constructed of intricately carved wood and draped in translucent white veils, the bedding of sumptuous crimson silk, and the chains attached to every corner of the bed, ending in silver cuffs lying open and waiting...

Yvonne finally took mercy on Daphne’s poor, ailing arms, untying the ropes that kept them so cruelly bound behind her back, but Daphne knew that her freedom was not going to last more than a minute. The chains attached to the bed had told her all she needed to know about what was coming next, and sure enough the moment the last coil of rope fell loose from her wrists, the pair of obedient goons dragged her over to the bed by her throbbing arms and forced her to lay on the covers, flat on her back. The chains were swiftly snapped shut around her rope-burned wrists and ankles, stretching her tortured limbs to the corners of the bed and leaving her once again completely powerless.

How she hated this never-ending cycle of bondage. A few hours spent trussed up in some villain’s lair seemed almost tolerable in hindsight compared to this nightmare. What she wouldn’t have given for a few loops of rope around her wrists, a single strip of tape over her lips and a harmless crook with a costume and a grudge...

Instead, she was spreadeagled across the bed of a lunatic, chained and almost completely naked, her body drenched in cooling sweat and tormented by a thousand savage aches. The only comfort she could draw from her situation was the abrupt departure of Yvonne’s servant duo from the bedroom, the stone-featured brutes closing the door behind them and leaving the two women completely alone. No stun guns, no cameras, no lustful eyes watching her every squirm and shudder.

Less eyes, anyway, she was forced to amend as Yvonne closed the gap between them, her emerald gaze hungrily tracing the contours of Daphne’s immobilized body. Her heart hammered in her chest as she fit the pieces of this grim puzzle together in her mind; she was chained, in her underwear, to the bed of a woman with no sense of personal boundaries and an increasingly obvious lust for her...

She... she isn’t going to...!

Yvonne caught the flash of fear on Daphne’s worried features and licked her lips with vigor, her ghost-white hand reaching out to touch her prisoner’s ankle. Her pale blonde hair, in wild disarray, and the thick circles of mascara ringing her eyes only added to the image of a lunatic. “Is this your first time with a woman, Daphne? I promise I will make it special.”

“Nuhh! Nuh-uhh!” Daphne shook her head against the pillow, sluggish but insistent, whimpering protests into her sodden gag and pulling feebly against her chains. Her stretched limbs could offer no resistance as Yvonne’s palm began to slide along her calf towards her knee, her touch firm and warm against Daphne’s damp, cool skin. Her encroaching hand reminded Daphne of nothing so much as a spider creeping over her flesh, moving slowly but inexorably towards her upper body.

Yvonne paused at the band of Daphne’s panties, still slightly damp from the sweat that had seeped into them during her hours of unwilling exertion, but to the young journalist’s relief she did not delve within. Her hand continued its journey upward instead, gently stroking Daphne’s bare flesh as she went, lingering for a moment wherever her fingers found the spots where ropes had carved their furrowed trails and teasing the marked skin until their wearer gasped in pain. Up and further up she went, rising to the temptingly transparent cups of the flimsy bra Daphne had been made to wear for the camera, stroking the redhead’s breast through the thin, see-through fabric as she screamed her displeasure into her knotted gag...

“I have wanted to make love to you for the longest time.” Yvonne’s hand withdrew eventually, but any relief Daphne felt faded away at the madwoman’s words and the way her hands drifted to her own buttoned blouse. “Since the moment I saw your interview on television. You were born for the camera, born for ropes... and born for me.” Her blouse slipped loose from her body, falling to the floor, baring Yvonne’s ample breasts to view. She had worn no bra beneath, and soon she would be wearing no skirt either. ”The camera and the ropes have had their fill of your radiance for today, but I am still left wanting.”

Her skirt dropped from her thighs, taking her underwear with it. Yvonne was left completely nude, her entire body ethereally pale, and in moments Daphne found this very body pressed up against hers. The crazed photographer had climbed onto the bed, straddling Daphne’s spreadeagled form, her breasts grazing sensuously against the smaller but firmer mounds of her unwilling lover as her rouged mouth sought Daphne’s tightly gagged lips.

They kissed, Yvonne loving and tender despite Daphne’s desperate struggle to resist the amorous advance. The thick knot of cloth trapped inside the red-haired girl’s mouth kept the madwoman’s tongue from invading, but the sense of utter violation Daphne felt as her lips were caressed by those of her captor was no weaker for this faint silver lining. The deranged creature of a woman continued her assault on her prisoner’s straining mouth, her clutching hands locking around Daphne’s head like a vise to keep her from turning away, her nude body writhing against the shackled journalist’s with increasing urgency...

When her abductor finally ended their one-sided kiss, rising into a crouch atop Daphne’s helpless body and leering down at her heaving breasts in their gauzy confines, the lovely young redhead had given up on defying her. She was simply too weak, too sore and too helpless. The notion of this lunatic using her body as a plaything still made her ill with revulsion, but her strict chains offered her no alternative. Even had she been able to speak, her pleading words would have bounced off of Yvonne like arrows from a shield. Her dark eyes filling with frustrated tears, she lay back and trembled as she felt her bra pushed beneath her bosom and Yvonne’s grasping fingers curling into the waistband of her panties, drawing them down her thighs...

There was no escape this time. A life in ropes awaited.

Chapter Text

Palutena, Hades, bondage, enslavement, humiliation

The heavy black collar clanked against the charred stone floor, scraping against the dented masonry as it skidded to the goddess’ sandaled feet.

Palutena stared balefully at the metallic device, her weary emerald eyes tracing its serpentine weavings, as if by finding an error in its craftsmanship she might dismiss it from existence. It was an Underworld creation, as if that had been in doubt, wrought by the hand of the master of that realm himself, and just as perverse as he. She could sense the foul magic that dwelt within its warped exterior just by looking upon its obsidian bands, every mote of the holy power infusing her body recoiling from the wretched thing.

No, she couldn’t bear to touch it.

She stood, her hands stubbornly at her sides, the golden jewelry adorning her white-robed form clinking gently as she trembled. She was not accustomed to trembling, as one might expect of a woman of such grand appearance. Despite her subdued, defeated demeanor she was no less radiant than ever, her smooth skin so pale that it almost glowed, her emerald hair swaying behind her body in lustrous trails long enough to graze the floor. Green, white and gold - the trademark palette of the goddess of light herself, her elaborate garb and ornaments marking her as one far above even the angels of Skyworld.

At least, she had been, once.

“Well, don’t just stand there, pretty Palutena.” The smooth, mocking voice of Hades carried through the bitter air, the smug triumph in his tone almost as painful to endure as a physical blow. “Put the collar around your neck.”

Once, Palutena’s response to her foe’s charming brand of malice would have been airily dismissive, a taunt or a quip or even a halfway-playful warning, just one more episode in the psychic banter that had become habit even as their armies collided in battle. Once his words would have been nothing, easily silenced by another victory for the forces of Skyworld.

Now, her beloved realm lay in ruins around her, and her army lay just as shattered. With every angel Hades and his legions had slain in their blood-drenched campaign of conquest, Palutena’s power had ebbed until she was left with nothing but the dregs of her once-tremendous strength. Inadequate against the Lord of the Underworld who stood before her.

The few angels left alive in captivity, and the humans in the mortal domain, were now depending on her obedience. She had no power and no choice.

She dropped to one knee, feeling the chill of the stone floor seeping through the soft white cloth of her dress and her lone white stocking, her slender fingers hesitantly reaching forth to brush against the pitch black loops of the collar, only to curl back into her palms as they found the unnatural heat that burned deep inside. Had she a choice, she would never have laid eyes upon this evil creation, let alone considered closing it around her own throat, but Hades was the new lord of her broken realm, and if the safety of those left living meant anything to her, his word was as law.

Her stomach tying itself in sickened knots, she took the collar in her hands, feeling its weight and the dark magic it held.

“If I do this, you will leave them unharmed.” She looked up at Hades through dangling strands of emerald hair, her eyes, once alive with mischief, now flat with dull resignation. It was not a question, but it felt like one. She knew that once this collar was around her neck, no agreement made with her would mean a thing.

“Come now, we have already negotiated our terms.” The red-and-purple face of the lord of the underworld leered back at Palutena, the crimson points in his deep black eyes studying her lovely face and recording the evidence of her despair. White teeth, almost alien compared to the rest of his monstrous visage, formed into a grin. “Put it on. Surrender. You know you want to.”

A shaking breath passed Palutena’s parted lips as she tightened her grip on the collar, her palms coated with a warm layer of sweat not caused by the heat of the device alone. Nervous feelings danced through her chest, leaving her light-headed and anxious, frightened beyond anything she had ever felt before. She was a goddess, one of the most powerful beings in existence, used to sending her troops to fight in her stead rather than being in danger herself. She was not accustomed to being fearful for her own safety.

Now there were no more heavenly hosts to stand between her and her fate, and she was at the mercy of a being who had none.

Grudgingly, she removed her golden choker and the ostentatious amulet from around her neck, letting both drop to the floor, leaving her feeling almost naked despite the robes she still wore. Then, fighting down a wave of revulsion, she opened the latch at the rear of the collar and brought the opened artifact to her throat, jerking in disgust as the sinuous collar grew still hotter at the touch of her flesh.

Hades’ pitiless eyes stared into hers, and Palutena could almost see the burning human world reflected within. Reminded that she had no choice in this, she secured the collar at her nape, gasping softly as the discomfiting heat encircled her neck completely.

It clicked into place, and immediately she felt what she had known she would - the last of her holy powers dwindled and died, suppressed by whatever dark magic had been forged into the profane artifact. Despite the fact that she had anticipated it, the sudden, overwhelming loss drove a knife of panic into her heart, and her fingers traced the tiny gap in the twisted collar, seeking a way to remove it.

The metal shifted against her fingertips, the seams of the clasp melting away into an utterly smooth surface.

Her outraged cry brought a fresh smile to Hades’ lips, gloating as he approached his now-powerless nemesis. “It suits you, my dear,” he crooned, his blood-red fingers sweeping in to cradle her vulnerable jaw and lift her face to meet the black void of his gaze. Hooked claws scraped prickly trails against the soft white skin of her throat where they could still reach, every slight movement of his digits suggesting another silent threat. “But we’re only just starting your makeover. These gaudy trinkets of yours have simply got to go.”

With a crook of his finger, his dark powers, now free to interfere with Palutena as readily as with any mortal, set to work. As one, the belts, baubles and protective artifacts still adorning her divine form loosened and slipped to the floor, clattering into a pile around her feet, her tiara mussing her neatly combed hair as it flew over her head before falling. Still the majority of her clothing... but nowhere near enough.

She had known that Hades lusted for her, and that things would likely take this turn, but the sensation of her bodice peeling itself away from her breasts still left her with a snarl of anxious loathing twisting inside her belly. Cold sweat broke out across her skin despite the pulsating heat of her collar, lending a pallid sheen to her mounds as they were revealed in all their glory, making her shiver as her robe worked its own way down her body and fluttered around her legs as it fell to the floor.

She stood, shame-faced and blushing more than she would care to admit, as Hades’ gaze drifted across her body, devouring her lewdly exposed breasts and the gentle curves of her hips, his tongue dancing against his wide purple lips as his gaze lingered on her snug white panties. The goddess swallowed, disgusted by his attention and his obvious interest, the hungry look on his hideous face leaving no doubt as to exactly what he was thinking while the black void of his eyes traveled down her shapely legs, taking in her leather-strapped sandals and her single white stocking.

“Very nice, Palutena.” Genuine appreciation mixed with the malicious glee in his voice as he took a step back from her, his dark magic already teasing the band of her panties. “Don’t worry your pretty little head... I’ll let you keep the stocking.”

~ ~ ~

Hundreds of years had passed since Palutena had personally visited the human world she was sworn to protect, so the sheer number of mortals gathered in the city streets to witness her return was of little surprise to the goddess.

The manner of her return, on the other hand, was not what she had been hoping for.

When she had imagined her glorious return to the realm of the mortals, she hadn’t envisioned herself naked but for her sandals and lonely stocking, her long emerald tresses fastened in a tight ponytail to ensure that her entire body was available to every prying eye. She most certainly hadn’t anticipated the velvet leash that had been affixed to her power-sealing collar and used to drag her through the street, nor the tight metal shackles locked around her ankles or the tiny chain strung between them, ensuring that her every step was a stumble. The thick leather bar wedged between her teeth and kept there by a web of leather straps encircling her head, and the tight chains keeping her wrists bound together behind her back, hadn’t been among the things she had expected either.

Yet here she was. Naked. Helpless. Deprived of her powers. Reduced to a trophy of the Lord of the Underworld, and paraded before the city she had allowed to be conquered by the forces of darkness. The air hummed with the sounds of thousands of beating wings and hovering eyeballs couched in jellies and metals and fluff, the alleyways crawling with demonic beasts and lizards and insects to ensure that the city’s humans remained in attendance to see their goddess degraded. Each one was a tiny reminder to Palutena as she was hauled along the city’s main thoroughfare by her throat, one more tiny dagger thrust into her heart.

This city was his now.

Hades, of course, was at the other end of the leash, his scarlet palms closed around the velvet cord as he pulled her onward through the street. The Underworld’s king wore the broadest, toothiest grin that Palutena had ever had the misfortune to witness, inspired by the sort of joy that only conquering and humiliating one’s greatest enemy could produce, a dazzlingly white crescent cut into the red-and-purple face of the triumphant villain. His clawed feet carried him along the cobblestones at a pace that Palutena’s shackled steps could not match, the heels of her leather sandals occasionally lodging in cracks in the road, only to be pulled loose by a savage tug on the leash.

This was his hour, and Palutena knew that hers had passed.

~ ~ ~

“Well, pretty Palutena, this is it.”

Hades’ dark eyes sparkled with amusement despite the darkness of the dungeon depths, surely a visual effect that he had conjured for his own amusement. A final reminder of the power he possessed, and that which Palutena had lost.

The goddess’ weary green eyes glared back at him, the lively, mischievous spirit that had once dwelt within replaced with hate enough to pierce the souls of those who owned one. “I wouldn’t bet on it.”

Maybe earlier in this darkest of days, she could have spoken those defiant words and meant them. Back when she had been in control of her beloved Skyworld at all, had her centurions and her dear angel Pit to fight in her name. Back when she had possessed power enough to prevent herself from being taken captive by her greatest enemy. Back before she had been stripped of every last scrap of clothing and dragged to the Underworld in chains, thrown down on Hades’ throne room floor and forced to do things to him and to herself that brought a flush to her cheeks and bile to her throat just to recollect.

Still, even that may have been preferable to this.

The cell that confined her was ludicrously small, its thick stone walls barely wide enough to fit her inside at all, scarcely more generous than a coffin. Less so, perhaps - the ceiling of the tiny chamber was low enough to force Palutena into a permanent stoop, her rear end thrust lewdly backward, her shapely legs made to bend at the knees, trembling and aching as they supported her weight. Her ankles, spread wide and shackled to the floor in defiance of the ropes binding her thighs together, pleaded with her through pain to sit and ease their suffering.

It was a request that the goddess would gladly have granted had it not been for the hot metal collar locked in place around her throat, its short new chain leash bolted firmly to the ceiling to ensure that she would remain upright at all times. Her hands, crossed and chained at the wrists and secured behind her back, had been unable to reach anything worth touching, let alone remove any of her onerous restraints. She was trapped in this ungainly position, her spine and limbs aching, just as Hades had spitefully willed.

She barely even looked like herself anymore. Her vivid emerald hair, once neatly styled and held in place by her shining golden tiara, now fell across her face in a dirty mess. Her pale skin seemed to have lost its divine luster, her radiance sapped away by the collar’s malignant influence. Her clothes and adornments were a distant memory, and without them she appeared almost mortal. She supposed that she might as well have been, but she still possessed one gift that marked her as a goddess, even if she would soon wish she had lost it with the rest.

Immortality.

A mud-colored brick rose from a pile on the floor outside the cell, lifting itself into the air seemingly of its own accord. With a gravelly crack that resounded through the dungeon, it lodged itself at the top of the lowest wall of Palutena’s tiny cell, the seam between the layers fading away before her dread-filled eyes. It was as if they had always been a whole, never two parts.

Hades was sealing her in. Slowly bricking up the lone opening in her prison, shutting her into the darkness one stone at a time.

Common masonry should have been a task beneath one of the most powerful gods in existence, but confining the goddess of light in the deepest layer of the Underworld was a joy that came around less than once every few thousand millennia. Even if he hadn’t already owned it, Hades would not have missed this for the world. “It’s a good thing you don’t need to eat to live, pretty Palutena,” he gloated as he used his power to levitate another stone into place, watching it grind into the steadily rising wall, becoming one with the thick barrier. “Or breathe, for that matter. You’ll be able to enjoy your new accommodation for a long time... I wouldn’t be surprised if you never check out!”

“Pit will come. He always does.” It took a considerable amount of effort for Palutena to choke those words out, galled that she had nothing to threaten her nemesis with but the wrath of her favorite angel. She had never felt so pathetic in her life. So... weak.

“Ohh? You think Pitty Pat’s more likely to stage a little jailbreak than you are? That’s a little sad, Palutena.” Hades chuckled, the broad grin on his dark visage anything but unhappy. “Of course, then he’d have to find you, too. Down here in the deepest layer of the Underworld, hidden behind an ordinary wall, with that lovely collar of yours cutting off your telepathy? I mean, come on, Palutena. He might be your half-pint hero, but he’s not exactly the sharpest arrow in the quiver.”

Another brick cracked into place. Then another. Another.

“No, I think you’ll stay right where you are.” A thin black eyebrow rose onto Hades’ crimson forehead as the bricks mounted up, weaving themselves into a solid barrier of stone between the triumphant god and fallen goddess. Inch by inch, the light was slowly blocked out until darkness reigned alone.

“But don’t worry... I won’t tell a soul.”

Chapter Text

Hanna Olses/Astrid Zexis, bondage, dubious consent

The front door of the alchemy workshop of Astrid Zexis was as ordinary as any other, smooth wood and iron hinges and a simple brass handle, but it took a full five minutes of nervous confrontation before Hanna Olses could gather the courage required to knock and announce her presence.

Now twenty-two years of age, having grown to adulthood alongside the former kingdom of Arls, Hanna normally exuded a cheerful confidence, but today her pluck had deserted her. Her blue eyes were lowered in contemplation, her light brown ponytail descending from the wild tufts of hair upon her head to sway listlessly behind her petite body. Her small form was largely bared to the world, her ruffled white dress strapless and with a neckline so daring as to barely cover any of her chest at all, the frilly skirt ending so high upon her thighs that she would have exposed herself had it not been for the brown boyshorts beneath. Leather boots rose only as far as her knees, leaving her naked from hip to lower thigh, the thick green cloak that trailed behind her serving as the most substantial covering on her body.

Just keep thinking about the Tonic, the perky young merchant mentally repeated over and over, annoyed at herself for faltering over the simple transaction that this was supposed to be. Hanna was a businesswoman before anything else, a shrewd one at that, and she liked to think of herself as rather fearless. She had visited alchemists dozens of times in the past, so why should today be any different?

Because it was different this time, she reminded herself, her leather-gloved knuckles drifting closer to the door, then retracting at the last moment once again. Usually, she would speak to her longtime friend Meruru if she needed something created via alchemy, or failing that, Meruru's master, Totori. One of them she had known since they were both little girls, and the other was one of the more pleasant people that Hanna had met... but both of them were out of town for the next week, and this project simply couldn’t wait.

Unless Hanna was willing to trust the eight-year-old Rorona, and she wasn’t, that left only one option.

Of the four alchemists currently residing within the Republic of Arland, of which the city of Arls was now a part, Astrid Zexis was the oldest and most knowledgeable... but she was also most unpredictable. It had been her that had accidentally reverted Rorona, her student, to childhood, and that hadn’t been too far away from what she had intended to achieve. Even Meruru and Totori seemed deeply wary of her, on the rare occasions that they spoke of Astrid at all, and that was to say nothing of the rumors around town...

No! She couldn’t start thinking about those tales now. If she let her concerns get the better of her, she could kiss goodbye to that precious Tonic. If she could get Astrid to make it for her, she would be able to use it to restock her own store with goods of superior quality, and that was just the edge she needed now that competition had opened up in the growing city of Arls. She had to get that Tonic!

“Darn it,” she whispered, her pale blue eyes narrowing as she fought to gather her courage. “I can’t let her spook me! She’s a businesswoman, I’m a businesswoman... we can work this out without any weird stuff, right?” Swallowing hard, Hanna reached forward one final time, rapping her knuckles against the workshop door. No going back now.

"Enter," called the utterly unsurprised voice of the workshop's sole occupant.

Had she known that Hanna was there all along!? Given what Meruru and Totori had said, that was a strong possibility. The brunette merchant cursed under her breath, her cheeks flushing in embarrassment. Much as she wanted to turn her back on this wretched place and walk away, Hanna knew that such cowardice would only embarrass her further. No, she would show this witch!

Pushing the door open, Hanna stepped into a workshop much larger than the one shard by the city’s other alchemists. A world of shelves awaited, each teeming with books and vials and boxes containing who-knew-what, a library of rare and valuable items that put Hanna’s warehouse to shame. At the far end, large windows allowed streams of golden sunlight to illuminate the alchemist’s cauldron set into the floor... and the cauldron’s owner, as well.

Though in her early forties, Astrid Zexis remained much the same in appearance as she had ever been. Sea-green eyes glimmering with mischief analyzed Hanna from behind thin oval glasses, sizing up the merchant girl as she approached. Long black hair, flowing down the master alchemist’s back and chest in almost equal measure, contrasted against the white overcoat and cape that she affected of late, the balance between light and darkness in her appearance disturbed only by the hints of azure in the cape’s inner lining and the tie at her collar. Golden trim and shining buttons to match granted Astrid an air of grandeur to match the more flattering parts of her varied reputation.

“Hanna Olses, right? From the shop on Namiki Road.” The calculating smirk on Astrid’s lips made Hanna shiver, though she endeavored not to show it. “Can I assume that you are visiting me because my pupil’s pupil’s pupil is out of town once again?”

Astrid had taught Rorona in the ways of alchemy, and Rorona had before her ‘accident’ taught Totori, and in turn, Totori had taught Meruru. Astrid’s pupil’s pupil’s pupil was Meruru. Hanna nodded, not quite sure why the admission made her feel so guilty.

“Look, I... uh, you... you take alchemy orders, right?” Steering things straight towards the business at hand brought back traces of Hanna’s usual confidence. “I know you might be busy, but May- I mean, Meruru’s not available right now, and Totori’s gone somewhere, too, and I really need-”

“Oh? So I’m your third choice?” Astrid both looked and sounded hurt, and Hanna struggled to discern whether she was faking it. “Well, don’t worry, I understand. I’m sure we can...” A sniffle, a trembling lip. Definitely faking it. “...come to an arrangement. I mean, if you’re really sure you want to hire someone other than the great alchemist Meruru, I’m sure I can do a serviceable job...”

Hanna fought the urge to shake her head. Did this act really work on Meruru? “I need a Tonic,” she pressed on, very deliberately ignoring Astrid’s wounded display. This woman was as vulnerable as Hart Outpost. “My budget’ll stretch to 2500 cole for a high-quality one. If it’s low quality-”

“Stop right there.” The look of hurt on Astrid’s features vanished in an eyeblink, the smirk reclaiming its territory. “Look at this place, Miss Hanna. Do you have any idea how much a store in the middle of Arls cost me? Some of the items on those shelves would sell for more money than an entire year’s inventory from your shop. I have no need of cole.”

“Uh, okay...” Darn it, there went Hanna’s confidence. What was she supposed to say to that? “I guess a trade from my store is out of the question, then...”

Astrid shrugged. “If you need a Tonic to obtain quality goods, then I already have access to better items than you could hope to offer.”

Hanna’s face fell. It made sense - Meruru always seemed to have everything from herbs to precious gemstones hidden away in her workshop’s container, and Astrid was an even greater alchemist than the former princess. She was rapidly running out of things to offer in trade. “Then what do you want? Is there still something I can offer you?”

“Well...” Astrid’s lips drew apart as they broadened, exposing a sliver of her teeth. Some grin. “There are certain things that I can’t get through alchemy... or at least, not without a tremendous amount of effort. You, on the other hand, could definitely help me out. It’ll only take up the rest of today.”

The rest of the day? As vague as that specification was, Hanna didn’t like it one bit. She could spare the time in exchange for the Tonic, but this was Astrid... “Just what is it you want from me?”

“Your services.” Astrid’s eyes had taken on a predatory cast behind her glasses. “I want you to do whatever I say from now until the moment the sun sets. Anything I say. This is the only price that I will accept for making you a Tonic. Take it or leave it.”

“Wh-wh-what!?” Hanna’s eyes widened in shock, her soles scuffing against the workshop floor as she took instinctive steps backwards. A persistent part of the rumours about Astrid suggested that she was into some pretty... weird stuff, but Hanna’s self-assurance that this was mostly malicious gossip flew out the window as she saw the look in the alchemist’s eyes. “You... what!? What are you gonna get me to do!?”

Astrid merely smiled, enjoying the merchant girl’s discomfort rather more than she should. “Ohh, just some things. Nothing painful or with lasting effects, I promise. It might make you a little... uncomfortable... but that’s the true price of a Tonic made by a master alchemist. Of course, you could always turn me down and wait for Totori or Meruru to come back, or maybe chance asking Rorona, but I should warn you... you aren’t the only merchant shopping around for Tonic right now. Can you really afford to fall behind?”

That suggestion sent a bolt of alarm through Hanna’s body, her merchant’s instincts set afire. Alchemists were a rare breed - only four of them in all of Arland, so far as she knew - and she hadn’t expected knowledge of the properties of Tonic to become so widely known so quickly. She had hoped that the alchemical growth formula would give her an edge over her growing competition, raising the quality of the ingredients she gathered during her expeditions, but if the others had already caught on...!

“Your time is limited, Miss Hanna, and I should point out that I am on the clock here, too.” Seemingly caring nothing about the stricken look that had appeared on Hanna’s face, Astrid turned back to her cauldron, as if to set to work. “After all, if I am to have your obedience until sunset, every second this conversation drags on is another second that your side of the agreement decreases in value. I must have your answer now. What’ll it be?”

“Nnngh...” Hanna frowned, her hands clenching into fists at her sides. She needed this Tonic even more now than she did when she had entered the workshop, if this story about others looking for the same item was true, but something told her that Astrid was going to ask her to do something she really didn’t want to do. Was whatever she might ask worth it? She said it wouldn’t hurt, that there wouldn’t be permanent effects, but somehow those assurances only made her fear what Astrid might do all the more.

But did she have the luxury of saying no? She couldn’t stand to see her precious store driven to the wall, and this was the only way she could think of to stop that from happening. No matter what Astrid would ask of her, she had to do it. Surely it couldn’t be that bad.

“All right.” Hanna offered a gloved hand to Astrid, feigning good cheer, as if truth might follow the lie. “You’ve got a deal.”

Astrid raised an eyebrow as she accepted Hanna’s hand, giving it a shake much firmer than the young merchant had expected. “Deal. Although, you do realize shaking on it means that you can’t back out now, right?”

“Y-yeah. Merchant’s honor.” Hanna nodded in acceptance, despite the chill creeping down her spine. Had she really just agreed to do whatever this woman wanted for the whole day? It was only mid-morning! She hadn’t planned on leaving the shop closed all day, either... but if this was what she had to do to save her business, so be it.

“Good. I trust you’ll remember that.” Astrid waved a hand towards the workshop entrance. “Your first order, then; go and lock the door for me.”

“Uh... okay...” Hanna did not like the way this was going, but she wasn’t about to fall down at the first of the day’s hurdles. Turning from Astrid, she made her way back across the workshop to the door through which she had entered, remembering how hesitant she had been just to enter this place a few minutes ago. Had she been right to think of turning back? She tried not to dwell on it as she clicked the metal latches into place at the top and bottom of the door, then slid the heavy wooden bolt across for good measure.

When she turned back to face Astrid, the master alchemist had produced a heavy wooden box, and had already removed the lid. Within lay coils and coils of rough brown ropes.

“Huh?” Hanna blinked in surprise, coming back over to join Astrid by the cauldron. “Is that Living Rope? You have an awful lot of it...”

Astrid shook her head, stooping to draw out one lengthy bundle. “No, this is just regular rope. Where’s the fun in tying someone up if the rope does all the work for you?”

“Mm, I guess...” Hanna gave a little nod, standing awkwardly off to the side as Astrid worked at unfurling the bundle of rope. She didn’t get it herself, though. As busy as she was with the everyday running of her shop, having a rope that could tie itself in knots for you sounded pretty convenient... and... and...

”... What did you just say?”

“No complaining, now. You agreed to the deal, remember?” As straightforward and blunt as ever, Astrid showed no signs of reconsidering based on Hanna’s wild-eyed reaction. “You’re going to entertain me in return for my services. Who am I supposed to harass if Totori and Meruru are out of town so often? Rorona’s no fun anymore now she’s a little girl again...”

“And whose fault is that!?” Hanna fired back, crossing her arms over her chest protectively. Just as she had feared, being under Astrid’s thumb for the day had gotten weird fast. Anxiety trickled through her innards, leaving her nervous and uncertain, but at the very least, this could have been a lot worse. At least she wasn’t going to be the guinea pig for some strange concoction like poor Rorona. “Look, okay, I’ll do it if you want, but I don’t get why this is what you want from me!”

Astrid shrugged. “That’s not your concern. Don’t worry, you don’t need to do anything but hold still. Although... it might be easier if you could take off those gloves. The cloak, too. I don’t need anything getting in the way.”

“You’ve gotta be... nrgh...” Biting back her objections, Hanna grudgingly did as she was asked, stripping her gathering gloves from her hands and dropping them onto the floor. Her cloak followed, fluttering down to cover the fallen gloves rather than her shoulders and back. Though she was scarcely more unclothed than before, the awareness that she had willingly divested herself of anything at all at Astrid’s command gnawed at her. “That’s... all I have to take off, right?”

“Of course.” Astrid gave her a knowing smile. “Now, turn around and cross your wrists behind your back.”

No going back, Hanna reminded herself as she complied with this latest order, turning to face the bolted workshop door, slipping her wrists into the small of her back and crossing one over the other. The young merchant bit her lip as she felt the rough cord grate against her skin, Astrid taking care to loop the rope around both wrists several times, around and then over, until they were inseparable. Hanna had thought that it was tight already, but was unable to hold back a shocked little gasp as Astrid cinched and tied off the binding, the ropes threatening to sink themselves deep into her flesh should she dare to struggle.

“Hm...” She couldn’t resist an experimental tug at the ropes, and was rewarded by a harsh chafing sensation. There would be no slipping out of this on her own unless she could get access to something sharp, and with her wrists crossed, she was unable to reach the knots. Despite the sinking feeling in her stomach, she had to admire the alchemist’s skill. “You’re pretty good at this.”

“Naturally.” Astrid’s superior smile set Hanna’s charitable opinions of the woman to withering. “However, I hope you don’t think I’m done yet. This is barely even a start. Hold still.”

The next rope was in Astrid’s hands in a flash, and Hanna would swiftly find it wrapped around her torso, pinning through the light fabric of her dress. Around and around her body it went, tightening with every careful loop, and just as Hanna began to adjust to the constantly building pressure, Astrid saw fit to change course; the next circuit of rope went above her bust rather than below, laid across flesh left provocatively bare, irritating her skin and making her wish that she had chosen a more conservative bodice today.

Her chest was starting to feel rather uncomfortable, the ropes pressing down into her skin and forcing her breasts outward, a situation not helped by the posture forced upon her by her bound arms. Was this... going to get sexual? The thought teased another surge of anxiety forth, worsened by the knowledge that she could no longer defend herself. Darn it, she had heard the rumors! Why had she still agreed to this?!

“There!” Astrid breathed in triumph, tying the ropes off behind Hanna’s back with a sudden, violent tug that made the merchant girl gasp in distress. The tension in Hanna’s sensitive chest was becoming a little too much for her - it didn’t hurt, but the pressure was constant, chafing her skin if she moved too much, and stirring feelings between her thighs that she really didn’t want to be experiencing at Astrid’s hands...

“Now then...” The alchemist peered over Hanna’s shoulder, her hand snaking around to her captive’s chest and, to her horror, giving her constricted breast a gentle squeeze. “How’s it feel?”

“H-HEY!” The protest burst from Hanna’s lips before she knew that she had spoken it, her shocked resentment unfortunately tinged by a breathless whine pleasure that she couldn’t hold back. These ropes and this posture were conspiring to make her breasts even more sensitive than usual. “Stop it! I didn’t agree to any sexual stuff!”

Astrid snorted, her fingers only digging deeper into Hanna’s breast, fingernails scraping against the merchant’s skin through her ruffled bodice. “If I recall, there were no such terms laid out in our verbal agreement. You were to do whatever I say until sunset. No ifs, no buts. Right now, this is what I want. If you were so concerned about it, why didn’t you mention it while we were bartering?”

“I...nnh... I didn’t think you’d want to...!” Instinct drove Hanna to try to twist herself away from Astrid’s busy hands, but there was nowhere to turn that the alchemist’s hands could not follow her. All she earned for her trouble was an increase in the chafing from the ropes, the rough weave scraping almost painfully against her skin. This was going to leave marks, she realized ruefully.

“Oh, come now. I know you’ve heard the stories.” Astrid’s hand finally saw fit to leave Hanna’s breast alone, sliding upwards from her tormented bosom to her neck and laying flat against the center of her collarbone, rubbing gently. “I heard that woman from Arland castle tell you and Meruru all about it at her workshop. Esty, right? No rumor is too sordid for her to repeat.” Her palm stroked lazy lines across Hanna’s skin, up and down, collar to mid-sternum, tracing the soft curve of the skin where her breasts began to swell outward. “And yet, you came here anyway. You agreed to do whatever I wanted.”

Hanna said nothing. Yes, she had heard the rumors mainly from Esty, though that woman hadn’t been the only source of her information. Hanna had thought that they were only wild tales, even after she had met Astrid for the first time and seen her playful attitude towards her fellow alchemists, but it now seemed obvious that they were true after all. Now she was stuck with the master alchemist for the whole day, completely at her mercy, and she was already getting grabby...

“Hmph. Well, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy yourself, too.” Astrid’s hand retreated to Hanna’s shoulder, joined immediately by her its twin, clamping down upon the opposing shoulder. “For now, I think you’re done standing. Down we go,” she murmured, applying enough pressure to give Hanna no choice but to sink to her knees.

Her shins now pressing against the floor-boards, Hanna took a moment to compose herself as best she could, suspecting what was coming next. This wasn’t as bad as it could be, she had to admit, though she still didn’t really like it; her breasts, wrists and upper arms were all trapped in this scratchy cord, confined in tight loops that threatened more discomfort should she even try to escape, and she had no idea when she was getting out of it. Was she supposed to stay like this all day?

Astrid’s fingers clamped around Hanna’s left ankle, drawing it out from beneath her, forcing the merchant girl to awkwardly adjust her position in order to keep her balance. She had expected the alchemist to take both of her legs at once, presuming that she would bind them together, but her mouth dropped open in surprise as Astrid instead began to slide the long leather boot down her shin, drawing it off of Hanna’s leg entirely, leaving her barefoot.

“Hey!” she protested again, with more audible displeasure this time. “You said you weren’t going to take any more clothes off of me! This is a violation of our terms!”

“No,” Astrid responded, completely unconcerned, tugging Hanna’s remaining leg from beneath her and pulling off her remaining boot as well, “I said that the gloves and the cloak were all that YOU needed to take off. I said nothing about what I would remove for you. Now... hmm. No socks under there, huh? I’m a little disappointed.”

Hanna swallowed. Now that she thought about it, those had been Astrid’s exact words, and though both of them had known full well what Hanna had really meant to say, she was more annoyed at herself for falling into this trap than at Astrid for exploiting it. Still, wherever the blame lay, she still had to deal with the consequences. “No, no socks... why does it matter?”

“Because I was planning to gag you with them,” Astrid replied bluntly, tapping a finger against her chin in thought. “Hmm, in that case...”

“What!?” At Astrid’s hands, Hanna had already experienced resentment, uncertainty and shock, but for the first time she now felt genuine anger towards the alchemist, her toes curling at the very thought. “That’s disgusting! What is wrong with you?!”

“There’s that reaction I love so much.” Smirking that insufferable smirk, Astrid transferred her finger from her own chin to Hanna’s nose, giving it a teasing little flick. Instinctively shutting her eyes, Hanna turned her head away, coaxing a giggle from the older woman. “Outrage and revulsion in one neat little package. I knew you’d be fun to play with. Although... if I can’t use those, then... hmm...”

Hanna winced. Darn it, this woman’s games were getting to her. It felt as if she were being toyed with, her every little response analyzed for Astrid’s amusement, and she hated it. She had half a mind to demand to be set free - this embarrassment had already gone on for long enough, and become alarmingly sexual for Hanna’s liking - but even if she thought that Astrid would oblige at this point, she still needed that Tonic, and Astrid was likely the only one who could make it for her right now.

When the sun set on this miserable day, she could just forget this had ever happened and get on with running her shop, but for now she was stuck in this humiliating situation, with her wrists bound tightly behind her back, her breasts encircled and emphasized by ropes, and Astrid’s hands working their way up her bare legs towards her shorts...

“W-what are you- stop it!” By the time Hanna realized what was going on, Astrid’s fingertips had already climbed into the waist of her shorts, hooking around the band and dragging them down her thighs. Genuine alarm shooting through her snugly bound body, she responded on instinct, her legs kicking out at Astrid as best they could, but they could do little with her tight little shorts now level with her knees, inhibiting them from moving, reducing her attempts to hopeless flailing. “Seriously, Astrid, stop! I don’t like this!”

“You’re backing out of our deal?” Astrid’s eyes narrowed behind her glasses, her glare cold enough to give Hanna frostbite. “I thought you were a businesswoman. Merchant’s honor, remember? Or...” Her smirk seemed crueler than Hanna remembered. “Does your store mean so little to you? That you would not only throw away your only chance to get a Tonic this week, but also sully your reputation among the merchantry by reneging on an agreement? Reputation means little to me - I am the greatest alchemist in all of Arland, one of only a handful, and you still came to me after hearing all of those nasty stories - but as for you...”

Spying tears welling in Hanna’s clear eyes, Astrid changed tack. “If this all goes well between us, I might even be willing to enter into an exclusive Tonic supply contract with you in the future. Meruru or Totori might be good at alchemy, but I’m better, and I’m not constantly busy with other peoples’ orders. Just think.” Her fingers stroked the soft flesh of Hanna’s calves as they pulled her shorts down her unresisting legs, yanking them over her feet and tossing them onto the heap of her discarded garments. “All you have to do is sit there for a few hours and let me do things to you. It’s really not a bad deal.”

No, Hanna had to admit, from a purely business standpoint it was a very good deal. A direly needed advantage over her competition in exchange for a few hours spent getting tied up and fondled wasn’t exactly the sort of arrangement that came around every day. “Well, I...”

Astrid shrugged, her hands darting back underneath Hanna’s all-too-brief skirt. “You have until I shove your panties in your mouth to back out.”

“Shove my...!? Hey!” Hanna’s eyes bulged as she felt her simple green underwear sliding down her legs, though at a much slower pace than her shorts. Suddenly, she wished that she had been wearing socks after all. The unpolished roughness of the floorboards grazed against her soft behind, warm air teasing the folds of her most private place as she helplessly watched her crotch’s last covering roll sensuously down her thighs. This was really going to be her last chance to get out of this before sundown, but the lewd exposure of her privates scrambled her thoughts, depriving her of the keen merchant’s instincts she needed to make this decision...

Just think of the Tonic, Hanna. Think of the business. A little discomfort’s nothing, right? At least you don’t have to wander all over Arls to get what you need this time. You just need to sit here and...

Before she knew it, her panties had been tugged free of her ankles, turned inside-out and wadded into a ball, with Astrid taking care to keep the entire process happening right in front of Hanna’s eyes right up until the moment that the crotch of her underwear was pressed up against her lips.

The merchant girl responded by tightly pursing them, shuddering with mortified disgust, her pale blue eyes staring back at Astrid with a mix of defiance and resignation. This woman was sick... but worse was the knowledge that Hanna was going to let her do it, once she had fought down her reflexive revulsion. The humiliation was going to be worth it...

Astrid, however, was not a patient woman. “Open up,” she commanded, her free hand darting out to capture Hanna’s nose. Her thumb and forefinger conspired to pinch the younger girl’s nostrils shut, cutting off her supply of oxygen for as long as she refused to part her lips. “You can’t hold out forever. These are going in there, one way or another.”

She was right, of course. Trussed up like this, there was nothing Hanna could do to avoid what was going to happen. Even if she decided she wanted out of this, she wouldn’t be able to say so before this witch gagged her. Swallowing hard and closing her eyes, Hanna reluctantly let her jaw slide open, sucking in a much-needed breath.

“That’s more like it.” Satisfied, Astrid shoved the wadded underwear into Hanna’s mouth, chuckling at the merchant girl’s muffled groan and the nauseous distaste on her blushing face. An insistent finger poked every last scrap of green cloth beyond Hanna’s lips, coming to rest on her nose as it completed its task. “Don’t you dare spit those out. If I have to do this again, I’ll be using my own next time.”

“Frrn...” Hanna couldn’t believe she was doing this. If she had known when she knocked on the workshop door that she would be sitting on the floor ten minutes later, her hands tied behind her back and her underwear stuffed inside her mouth, she would have run back to her shop and cast her plans out of her mind until she could deal with a normal alchemist. The taste of herself lingered on her dampening panties, all the more horrid for the knowledge of where they had been not a minute before, pressed up against her intimate flesh.

Urrgh... think I’m gonna hurl... No way could she let herself do that, though. There wasn’t a doubt in her head that Astrid would carry out her threat if she spat her underwear out now, and that would be even worse than this. Making a sour face, Hanna forced her lips to close over her panties, hoping that she would get used to the taste before long.

While Hanna struggled with her foul new task, Astrid had been busy, collecting another item from the rear of the workshop and returning to dangle it in front of her flustered captive. The thin black strip of fabric was swiftly tied between Hanna’s teeth, the ends drawn behind her head and knotted beneath her plaited ponytail, pulling the cloth taut against the corners of her lips. Hanna’s whine of discomfort was barely audible through the wadded underwear now trapped inside her mouth, but it made Astrid smile nonetheless.

“Now then,” the alchemist mused, stooping to collect one of Hanna’s bare ankles in each hand, yanking them up into the air and sending Hanna’s upper body crashing down to the floor. A jolt ran through the merchant girl’s bound arms as they struck the floorboards, but the yelp that tried and failed to burst from her lips was born more of surprise than of pain. “What should I do with these legs of yours? Although I do have quite the view as things are...”

Hanna’s face blazed scarlet as she realized what the witch of a woman meant. With her legs held apart, her shorts and underwear removed and her skirt far too short to cover much of anything, Astrid had a clear view of her crotch, a view that her greedy eyes were taking full advantage of. Mortified beyond belief, Hanna squeezed her eyes shut to blot out the sight of the alchemist’s leer, squirming violently in her grip in a futile effort to retain some semblance of modesty.

Astrid was a monster, taking advantage of her like this, and the humiliation cut like a knife... but even sprawled under the lustful gaze of the master alchemist, Hanna had to admit to herself that one little part of her had seen something like this coming. She had known the rumors, calculated risks and made a decision to deal with Astrid, and to agree to her dubious deal. Much as she writhed about on the floor, her legs vainly trying to kick free of her captor’s hands, her businesswoman’s brain told her that she had agreed to it, it was going to be worth it to save her shop...

...and that, beneath the layer of embarrassment and fear and the feeling of being used, she didn’t entirely hate this.

The realization stunned Hanna, the blush in her cheeks intensifying as she discovered that her body was starting to react to this cruel treatment, but she did not have the luxury of giving it the thought it deserved. Astrid forced the merchant’s legs together, still holding them aloft, and proceeded to wind another lengthy rope around her ankles, binding them together under coil after coil of scratchy, skin-gnawing cord. Shame-faced, she wondered if the feelings her body was experiencing had been obvious to Astrid’s voyeuristic eyes before her legs were closed. Ugh... I can’t believe this is happening... I can’t believe I’m letting it happen....

Not that she could stop her now, even if she wanted to.

Astrid finished securing Hanna’s legs and lowered them to the floor, but there was no respite to be had. The helpless merchant found herself flipped over onto her stomach, her ankles pulled back until her calves hung over her thighs, then secured to her tightly bound wrists before she could squirm out of this uncomfortable position. Hogtied, she discerned as she tugged against the ropes with every limb, each movement of her arms only serving to yank at her legs, and vice versa. Not that she could have slipped out of this before... the knots were far too tight for that.

“Good thing you’re flexible,” Astrid observed, rising back to her full height. Her glasses reflected the sunlight from the world outside the workshop, hiding her eyes behind twin walls of white. “I hope you can get comfortable. You’re going to be like that for a while.”

“Hmmhh...” Even had her panties not been stuffed inside her mouth, the sounds Hanna was making might still have been unintelligible. She didn’t know what to say. It felt good in a way, being trussed up like this half against her will, denied any but the most basic movement, stripped and degraded, but her pride ached even more fiercely than her body. Sure, she could see herself doing this sort of thing to others for enjoyment, but being the victim of it, and maybe liking it? That wasn’t the Hanna Olses she had thought she had known.

I guess it’s better to enjoy it than to hate it if I have to spend hours like this...

“Well, I could just leave you like that and let you squirm around all day while I do some work... but...” That smirk was back, though hungrier than before. Astrid’s tongue darted at the corner of her lip. “Now that I have you here, it seems like such a waste. I might have to take advantage... you don’t mind, do you?”

Advantage?! Hanna squealed in alarm as Astrid descended on her, pulling the merchant girl against herself, heedless of the awkward positioning that it required. Forced to rest upon her sharply bent knees, held upright by Astrid’s arm around her waist, Hanna felt the alchemist’s other hand wander back to her ruffled bodice, her fingers slipping beneath the neckline and finding their way to the generous curves of her breasts. She shut her eyes once more, her panties stifling a heated mewl, both hating and loving her captor’s ardent explorations as her body grew all the warmer.

Even when the upper limits of her dress were yanked downward, her snowy breasts popping free of their scanty confines and falling prey to squeezes and caressed and tugs, Hanna’s protests continued to die off as she let herself enjoy the sensations running riot throughout her body. Whatever else Astrid might be, her cruel, perverted, exploitative side did have its perks...

“Hmph. I usually prefer more flustered reactions.” Astrid didn’t let up despite her words, smiling faintly as Hanna’s breath hitched at her touch. “I suppose that’s what my pupils are for. It’s nice to have someone actually enjoy it for a change... although, maybe I can still get that sort of reaction out of you if I just lift my game a little.” Her hand began to sink lower, courting the ruffled hemline of Hanna’s skirt.

Hanna released a broken little moan as Astrid’s digits wandered further afield. If this had to become a regular thing to secure an exclusive supply contract with the veteran alchemist, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

Chapter Text

Lightning, Fang, Vanille, bondage, humiliation, requested

The new world that Lightning and her comrades had claimed at the end of their long struggle was a far more peaceful one than they had left behind, free of the malign influences of the gods and Fal'Cie, but there were times when she wished that the tremendous magical she had possessed in her past life hadn’t faded away along with everything else.

Now was one of those times.

The evening had been pleasant enough at first. Adapting to her peaceful new life had not been easy for Lightning, and the idea of being able to visit her friends and family whenever she wished without being separated by time or space or death itself was very nearly alien, but she had eventually settled in, and spending time at Fang’s house had become something of a routine. She was even starting to get the raven-haired woman’s measure well enough that one day soon, she might even be able to beat her at cards, although the smug look on Fang’s face every time she played a hand had suggested that that wouldn’t be happening tonight.

Then, nature had made its inevitable call, and Lightning had gone to answer, heading to the upstairs bathroom. With Fang’s girlfriend Vanille not yet home, the upper floor of the house was silent and empty, and she made her visit quick, feeling faintly like a trespasser.

She barely recognized the woman in the mirror above the sink. It wasn’t as if her appearance had actually changed - she looked the same as she had at the start of her journey, her messy pink fringe veiling her crystal-blue eyes, her face lovely but somehow hard-edged - but her white jacket and blouse and casual beige trousers somehow didn’t look natural on her anymore. The more she looked at herself, the more it seemed like she belonged in a soldier’s uniform, or armor...

...No. That part of my life is over. I just need to get used to that.

~ ~ ~

Belatedly realizing that she had spent much longer in the bathroom than she had meant to, she pulled herself away from the sink and left the bathroom behind, her black, heeled sandals padding against the hall’s plush carpet on her way back to the stairs. “Sorry I was so long up there,” she called as she began her descent, one palm on the handrail.

She had expected an acerbic response from Fang, but none came.

“Fang?” Lightning paused at the bottom of the stairs, her head tilting slightly as she listened for a response. There was no way the warrior woman hadn’t heard her, not with those keen senses of hers. Had her peaceful life in this new world started to dull her senses? What was she playing at? “I know you’re down here.”

Perhaps it was Lightning’s instincts that had dulled with disuse; it wasn’t until she reached the living room doorway that she realized something was amiss.

The first thing she noticed was that Fang’s clothing - all of it - had been scattered around the room, littering the carpet as if it had been thrown aside. If knowing Fang hadn’t been enough to tell Lightning that it hadn’t been of her own free will, the sight of the raven-haired warrior naked and kneeling on the floor, the barrel of a gun pressed against the back of her head, would have provided a vital clue.

“About time you joined us.” The owner of the gun was male, and even with the balaclava drawn over his face, it was easy to tell that he was young, and not particularly strong or large. Lightning would have placed him at about her own physical age, if that sort of thing meant anything in the aftermath of a world where time had stopped entirely.

To him, it would seem as if Lightning had momentarily frozen in shock, but in truth she was already running through options in her mind, a virtually automatic process honed by battles the masked intruder couldn’t begin to imagine. Chronostasis? No, her powers over time were long gone. Magic? Odin? Those, too, had faded away with the old world. Her sword? Even in this peaceful new reality, she had made sure to own one, but she certainly hadn’t brought it with her.

Even without a weapon of any kind, she was confident that she could take him in a fight... but stopping him from blowing Fang’s head off was another thing. The barrel of his gun hadn’t wavered from her friend’s wild black hair, not even in momentary surprise. He’d been expecting her.

No, there was only one way out of this, and even that was far from certain to save them. For the first time in a very long while, Lightning raised her hands to shoulder height, her fingers open and her palms displayed in a gesture of surrender. Damn it. “What do you want?” she spat, not even trying to hide her contempt.

The look he gave her through the holes of his mask made her regret asking.

“Strip.”

She should have known what was coming. One look at Fang should have been enough for her to guess at where this was going, but the words hit her like a hammer to the stomach, and for once in her life, Lightning was in no position to hit back. “The hell I will.”

“Just do it, Light.” Fang stared at the floor, absolutely disgusted with herself. Doubtless, her first instinct had been to break the intruder’s nose, but like Lightning, she no longer possessed the superior strength, speed and resilience of a l’Cie. “This bastard’s not alone.”

“I thought I heard someone else in here.”

As if waiting for a cue, another masked figure stepped into the room from the kitchen, a large black bag slung over one shoulder and a gun in their hand. A woman, Lightning noted in mild surprise, but any hope that she would stop her partner’s excesses was swiftly crushed. “She’s hot. Why isn’t she naked yet?”

“Good question.” The male gave Lightning a thin smile that made her skin crawl. “Listen, this is just a robbery. It’s not like we’re going to really do anything, we just want a little eye candy. The faster we do this, the less chance we’re still here when this one’s little girlfriend gets home.”

He looked down at Fang meaningfully, grinning at the look of utter loathing on the black-haired woman’s face. Her pride was a mighty thing, practically a force of nature on its own, but if there was anything that could make Fang cast it aside, it was a threat to Vanille.

Every instinct Lightning possessed was screaming at her to fight, but the more rational part of her brain already knew that she couldn’t win. One opponent with a gun and a hostage was already too much for her to handle. Two opponents...

No. Fighting would just get her killed, and likely Fang as well.

She had only one option. Shrugging off her jacket and letting it drop to the floor, Lightning reached for the top button of her blouse, the hateful glare she fixed on both of the masked thieves wilting slightly as she noticed the woman opening the bag hanging from her shoulder and drawing out a coil of soft pink rope...

~ ~ ~

The basement floor was cold beneath her feet, but Lightning forced herself to keep hopping.

Walking would have been much easier, of course, but walking was no longer an option. Pink rope, velvety against her skin but no easier to break for its softness, had been wound tightly around her bare legs from her knees to her ankles, keeping them pinned together no matter how hard she struggled to part them. More coils of the strangely gentle cord had been wrapped around her thighs just to seal the bargain, and her arms had been bound behind her back to keep her from interfering, her fingers unable to find a single knot to pick at.

As much as she hated to admit it, the female thief had really done a number on her. She would not be getting out of this by herself.

While the male burglar took his time in binding Fang in the living room, his cowardly partner had guided Lightning down the stairs to the basement at gunpoint, keeping a hand on the ropes at her wrists to prevent her from falling. Forced to hop her way down every step, her breasts bouncing with every tiny jump, had been an utterly humiliating experience that Lightning was keen to repay with violence the moment she was freed, but even that hadn’t been the worst of it.

No, the worst was the extra rope-work that the woman had inflicted upon Lightning once she was satisfied that she couldn’t resist. Stiff pink knots pressed into her breasts, grazing teasingly against her nipples with every hobbled leap, and yet another length of the cord had been drawn tightly between her legs, burrowing itself deep into her crotch.

Even the tiniest squirm was ‘rewarded’ by the rope rubbing fiercely against her, so being forced to hop down the lengthy staircase and across the width of the basement with that scything into her lower lips had not been fun. The feelings it stirred within her body brought a fierce blush to her cheeks; despite her best efforts, the relentless scratching of the silken rope against her crotch had done what it was meant to do, and no amount of glowering shame could deny the arousal blossoming between her thighs.

If her mouth hadn’t been buried beneath several layers of thick silver tape, winding around her head and clinging to her skin and hair, Fang would have been able to hear Lightning’s furious, frustrated growls from upstairs.

She would have preferred to face a cavern full of monsters than the leer her predicament was earning her.

“That’s it, pretty lady. Over here.” The moment they had reached the bottom of the stairs, the masked woman had moved ahead into the basement, and it seemed that she had found what she was looking for. The door to the storage closet hung open, and judging by the burglar’s gestures, Lightning was about to become very well-acquainted with it.

The closet was no larger than it needed to be. Only a couple of feet wide and deep, the dim little space was just big enough for the mop, bucket and dustpan that had been stored inside, and the small, grainy fluorescent light mounted in the ceiling did nothing to make it any less claustrophobic.

At least it was better than being stared at.

“In you go, hot stuff.” The woman’s hand clapped onto Lightning’s rear, and before the former soldier could register a protest, she found herself being shoved headfirst into the closet. Her breasts smacked against the cold concrete wall, sending an almost-painful shock through her chest as the ropes and knots bit deeper into sensitive skin, and she barely held back a moan. She’d been through much worse than this. A little manhandling and embarrassment was nothing.

Somehow she managed to turn herself back towards the closet door... just in time to see the male intruder ushering Fang down the basement stairs.

The raven-haired warrior’s lean body had suffered much the same fate as Lightning’s. Her legs and arms were bound in the very same fashion, though in blue rope this time rather than pink, leaving her powerless to do anything but hop in the direction that her captor commanded. Rage burned in her fierce eyes as she bounced her way forward, clearly in deep discomfort from the ropes cleaving between her legs and clutching at her breasts, but her likewise-taped mouth denied her the chance to spit the curses she longed to unleash.

It was hard not to notice the dampness of Fang’s crotch rope, and she wondered if hers looked like that, too.

“Sorry to leave you two like this, but we’ve got a house to loot.” The male gave Lightning a hungry look before returning his attention to his own captive. A brutal shove to Fang’s bare back, and she, too, was catapulted into the closet. “It’s a shame we can’t play around a bit more, but business before pleasure. Nice meeting you, ladies.”

The door slammed shut, and the lock clicked.

~ ~ ~

Everything was tight.

It wasn’t just the ropes, though they were more than tight enough. Their strict embrace kept both women immobile and uncomfortably aroused, biting trails into their arms and thighs and breasts, sinking deep into their crotches and staying there no matter how hard they squirmed. It wasn’t just the silver tape that clung to their faces in spite of the sweat trickling down their skin, muffling their irritated grunts and infrequent attempts at communication.

None of that was fun, of course... but it was the tiny space to which they had been confined that shifted the situation from uncomfortable to intolerable.

It had been obvious from the start that there was not enough room inside the closet for the both of them, but nothing drove that point home for Lightning like the constant pressure of Fang’s breasts straining against her own, heat against heat. The way their captors had tied their arms behind their backs had the side-effect of forcing both women to thrust their chests outward, and the tight quarters of the closet left them with no other way to turn.

It was difficult to tell which of them was more embarrassed by the lewdness of the intimate contact, but Lightning had a feeling that it was her. Fang’s breasts were a little bigger than hers, and for the first time the size difference actually mattered; the warrior’s generous bosom required more room than hers, and she could feel every heave of her friend’s sweaty chest as Fang struggled to draw in air through her nose, every frustrated twist of her arms as she fought in vain to slip out of the ropes. No matter how many glares Lightning gave her as she was crushed back against the wall, Fang refused to just stay still.

She wished she could share in her comrade’s unfounded optimism, but Lightning could find no flaw in her own restraints that she might be able to exploit. The woman who had bound her had known exactly where to tie the knots in the soft pink rope to keep them out of reach, and getting her fingers near Fang’s bonds was an impossible task. There was no room in the narrow closet for either of them to turn around, the tight confines ensuring that the two bare, helpless women remained face-to-face whether they liked it or not.

~ ~ ~

Trapped in the closet with neither window nor clock, Lightning could only guess at how long they had spent in confinement, but she was certain that at least half an hour had passed them by.

By now, even Fang had given up on worming her way out of her ropes, sagging against the cool concrete wall as much as the closet’s limited space would allow. The two women were still touching rather closely - there was no escaping that as long as they remained locked in here - but at least the pressure on Lightning’s chest was relieved for the moment. Without Fang constantly rubbing against her, it was easier to inhale the closet’s stuffy air, and easier to ignore the sensations inflicted on her by the oh-so-degrading rope biting into her crotch.

Not that something like that could make her feel anything to start with, she added mentally, wishing that she was gullible enough to believe her own lies. The damned thing was getting to her, even when she held absolutely still.

At least the infuriating friction distracted her from the worries currently mounting in her mind, piling up more and more with every minute that passed. What was going on on the other side of the closet door? Were the thieves still looting Fang’s house up above? Had they left? Did they plan to leave the two of them locked up like this until Vanille discovered them?

If they came back, would she be set free... or not?

The possibilities whirled about in her head without cease, tormenting her as much as her crotch rope... until the door finally opened, and all became clear.

Vanille stood in the closet doorway, but the hope that surged through the captive duo at the sight of the copper-haired girl fizzled and died as they noticed the thick silver tape plastered beneath her shimmering green eyes, and the complete absence of clothing on her slight form. Their rescuer, she was not.

Her arms were bound behind her back in the same fashion as Lightning’s own, her legs likewise hobbled by a seemingly endless supply of soft orange cord, but either their captors had chosen to go easy on Vanille, or they had finally run out of rope; her breasts and her crotch had been left alone this time, if stripping them bare counted as leaving them be. The burglars had prioritized restraining her over tormenting her, but the flush in her cheeks and the tears in her frightened eyes made plain that they hadn’t been easy on her.

“There’s really not a lot of space left in here, is there?” Behind Vanille, the male thief took a long moment to study the naked, sweat-slick bodies of his first two captives, ignoring the furious snarls brimming behind tightly-taped mouths. “I wish we had time to play around a little more, but this is it for tonight. Time to make room, ladies.”

No. Oh, no. There was no way he was going to fit Vanille in here with the two of them, and Lightning communicated as much with the exasperated, you’re-an-idiot glare that she had spent an entire journey with Snow Villiers honing.

The thief remained unmoved. “Down you get,” he murmured, his hands clamping onto Vanille’s slender shoulders and forcing her down to her knees, then shoving her into the coffin-like closet with no concern for her comfort. The copper-haired girl complied without question, offering only the tiniest squeak as she found herself suddenly vying for very little room with two pairs of strictly-bound legs, and wincing as her face was shoved uncomfortably close to two sets of nether lips lewdly parted by tight, damp ropes.

“Don’t worry. I’ll call someone from one of your phones a little later and tell them where you are.” The burglar began to close the door as he spoke, drawing a chorus of muffled protests from the three women trapped inside that naturally went ignored. “Hopefully it won’t be someone too embarrassing for you, but I guess you’ll just have to take your chances. Have a good night, ladies.”

Don’t you dare. Don’t you...!

Click.

Chapter Text

Aerith, Tifa, Don Corner and crew, bondage, rape, torture, particularly dark. Of all the stories on this profile this was written first, years ago, so please don't be too hard on it. It was initially broken up into chapters, so forgive any odd breaks.

How had she gotten herself into this situation?

Two days ago, Aerith Gainsborough had just been an ordinary flower girl in the slums of Midgar. Twenty-two years old, living at home with her mother, only one boyfriend in her entire life. True, her heritage was Ancient, and she had been stalked through her entire life by the Shinra, but despite that, she had managed to lead a semblance of a ordinary life, tending flowers in the old church and selling them to passers-by.

Now, here she was in the mansion of Don Corneo, a man famed for three things, his wealth, his power in the slums, and his lechery. Here she was, standing before such a man, wearing a scarlet dress that was all too revealing for her tastes, her hair bound only by a single bow instead of her customary long braid, flowing down her back to her hips. It was the first time she had dressed in such a way in her entire life, and it was all for him.

Well, not really for Corneo. She was doing this for two people she had never even met before a few days ago. These two people stood beside her in a line now, flanked by Corneo's grimy henchmen. Cloud was a swordsman, a former member of Shinra's elite army, yet now he wore a dress and a wig and smelled of makeup and enchanting perfume. A man of pride, he had nevertheless disguised himself in such a humiliating way to enter Corneo's manor in search of the third person in line. Tifa, Cloud's friend and a leader of the resistance against the Shinra.

The three of them had come before the Don now, Aerith and Tifa clad in expensive dresses and Cloud in disguise as a woman, in search of information Tifa required. Information Corneo had received from his Shinra masters. There were too many goons in Corneo's employ to make a direct attack, so they would have to take another route. One of them - Aerith, Cloud or Tifa - would have to be chosen by Corneo tonight. Whichever of the three he selected would be Corneo's guest for the night, and all three knew what that really meant.

It would be then that the selected girl, or man dressed as a girl, would beat the information out of him. If all went to plan.

~ ~ ~

Corneo's eyes shone with glee as he observed on the three women set before him. Tifa was a beautiful woman, Aerith was well aware, and even Cloud looked passable in his ridiculous disguise. As for Aerith, she had been complimented many times on her looks by the men of the slums, though she had rarely accepted the compliments. She knew many of them wanted only to get into her dress.

The Don stepped forward towards Aerith. He looked her up and down first of all, then slowly back up again. His attentions made the flower girl feel dirty inside, but she endured, knowing this was the easy part. Corneo's eyes trailed over her slender legs, left exposed to just below her knees by the skirt of her crimson dress, up over her hips and stomach before settling on her breasts. The neckline of this dress was uncomfortably low and revealing, only just hiding the cups of her bra. Corneo smirked approvingly and took a long, hard look before taking a last look at her face and moving onto the next candidate.

It was only when he turned those bulging, staring eyes away that Aerith realized she had been holding her breath. She released it as quietly as possible, continuing to watch him from the corners of her eyes as he inspected Cloud, in his guise as a woman. It disturbed her that all it took was a wig and a dress and a little make-up to turn her friend into a respectable impersonation of a lady, but if it hadn't, she might be in here alone right now.

Corneo smiled and nodded at Cloud, evidently liking what he saw judging by the twinkle in his eyes. Despite the gravity of the situation, Aerith almost burst into nervous laughter. Was the disguise really that good... or did it not need to be?

Finally, Corneo moved on to Tifa. Aerith cringed in sympathy for the other girl, knowing how it felt to be reduced to nameless legs and breasts and buttocks before the lecherous Don's gaze. Corneo's gaze lingered on the dark-haired girl longer than it had on either of the other two, and despite herself Aerith felt a tiny pang of jealousy. Tifa was certainly more well-endowed than she - in fact, moreso than most women.

Smiling broadly, Corneo returned to the centre of the room and gave Aerith, Cloud and Tifa each one last approving look. Then, he leaped up with a booming "Woo-hoo!", startling the flower girl to attnention. "I've made up my mind! My choice for tonight is..."

Aerith's heart beat rapidly in her chest, and she tried to calm herself down by taking longer breaths. It would be okay. He would choose Tifa, or perhaps even Cloud, and take his chosen girl away with him. She was confident that both of them could take care of themselves. Cloud was a capable warrior even without his massive sword, and she knew that he had found a place to hide a few pieces of materia under his feminine clothing. As for Tifa, her body spoke for itself. She certainly looked athletic enough, and Cloud had mentioned her physical strength in passing.

"This little beauty!"

It took Aerith a few moments to realize with horror that the Don was looking straight at her. Not at Tifa or Cloud, but her.

"Wh-what?" she stammered, taking a step back. Tifa and Cloud watched her carefully, waiting for her to try to back out of it. They could spring into action if they needed to.

But no. She couldn't risk Tifa's operation like that. Corneo had information she needed. It didn't matter if Tifa obtained it herself, or if it were Cloud, or Aerith. She shook her head slightly, just enough for the other two to catch, but neither of them looked pleased about it.

Corneo gestured to his hirelings, and then to Cloud and Tifa. "Do with the other two as you wish. Come, my dear," he beamed, extending a meaty hand to Aerith. "Let us get to know each other a little better."

Before she knew it, Aerith had stepped out of her place in line and taken Corneo's hand. She had managed to slow her breathing, but her overall nervousness was beyond her control. Her heart pounded, her palms moistened, she began to feel lightheaded. It would be just her and Corneo, alone...

She tried to smile charmingly. Fortunately Corneo didn't notice the half-hearted attempt.

Cloud and Tifa looked back to her as they were led from the room by Corneo's henchmen. At least they would be able to take care of themselves, Aerith reminded herself. They would come and save her as soon as they were able to do it without raising the alarm. They had to have Corneo's information at any cost.

~ ~ ~

Corneo's bedroom was as gaudy and bright as the rest of his mansion. Lights of purple and gold and blue shone from different walls of the room, illuminating the chamber in several colors at once and lending an almost ethereal effect. It might have been more impressive if it wasn't so dazzling.

The centerpiece of the room was Corneo's large bed, its golden silken covers and broad pillows. As Aerith was half-dragged into the room, her hand captured in Corneo's, she could not help but wonder how many other woman had lain on it with him. How many had been willing.

No! Don't think about that. Tifa needs that information, Aerith chided herself, trying to snap out of it. She could not let fear inhibit her judgment. She had to get the information Tifa needed out of Corneo. Then she could think about getting out of here.

She dug her heels into the carpet at the foot of the bed. "Don Corneo, before we... do anything," her cheeks turned pink, hard as it was to tell in this room with its lights, "There's something else we need to talk about. I need..."

Any warmth in Corneo's visage disappeared, though the smile remained. He released Aerith's hand, only to grip her wrist instead. "Now now, we can talk later. If there's something you want, the Don can get it for you, but you have to behave tonight. Have I made myself clear?"

Aerith's eyes widened, and a cold feeling gnawed at her stomach. "I just need you to..."

"I said not tonight!" With surprising strength, Corneo thrust his hands into her shoulders, shoving her roughly. Taken by surprise, Aerith fell backwards, tipping over and landing squarely on her back atop the covers of Corneo's bed.

She immediately attempted to right herself, but the bed was so soft and deep that she had trouble finding her balance and could only crawl backwards towards the headboard as Corneo climbed onto the bed, smiling with his horrid yellowed teeth. "Don't worry, it won't hurt at all," he uttered smoothly, an assurance that failed to placate Aerith at all. Why had she not thought to borrow some of Cloud's materia when she had the chance?

"DON!"

Aerith could not help emitting a cry of relief as one of Corneo's minions scrambled behind the corner, a gaping cut in his forehead still bleeding. One hand was held behind his back.

Corneo snarled in rage and turned to his subordinate, his hands clenched into fists. "What do you WANT? Can't you see I am busy!?"

The minion cringed, but did not retreat. "Those two other girls. W-well, one of them was a man, but that's not what..."

"A MAN!?" Corneo shrieked, punching the bedcovers with stunning force. Aerith had been considering getting the jump on him while he was distracted, but was now shocked into fumbling for a new plan. She needed the information for Tifa, but was not willing to surrender her virginity for it.

"Yeah, a man, and he attacked us! But don't worry, sir, he's been dealt with." The henchman tossed the item he had been holding behind his back into the middle of the floor.

Corneo rolled off of the bed and stooped to pick it up, and Aerith gasped in horror. It was a familiar blonde wig, stained with blood.

Cloud...

"No way we were gonna let him live after what he tried to pull," the henchman sneered. "Weird bastard had a bunch of materia, but it only takes one to make all the rest worthless. Good thing you bought us all that Seal materia, Don."

Corneo nodded smugly. "A wise investment. What about the other woman?"

"She tried to fight her way out, too. We subdued her, but she's still alive. For now." The henchman glanced at Aerith, who was kneeling on the bed, her eyes wide with shock and fear. "But two out of three of your guests trying to beat us up as soon as they had the chance? You might want to be careful with this one, just in case it's three for three. Something's not right."

The Don nodded again, casting a hungry look at Aerith that made her stomach churn. "I will be very careful with this little lady. Make sure the other woman is comfortable. Now, leave us."

The henchman nodded and left the chamber. Corneo smiled widely at Aerith and advanced back toward the bed. "I certainly hope you are innocent in all of this, my dear. Either way, you and I are going to have some fun!"

Trying and failing to control her mortal fright, Aerith trembled and closed her eyes as tears threatened to fall. This was deadly serious. Cloud was dead. Tifa couldn't help her. There was no way she could fight her way out of this on her own, not without a weapon or materia. She wasn't strong like the others. Not used to fighting.

Cloud... Tifa...

~ ~ ~

Shedding his garishly red jacket, Don Corneo once again began to crawl across the bed toward Aerith. The terrified flower girl whimpered, wishing she had her metal staff, some usable materia, anything she could use to defend herself with...

But she didn't, and there was no longer any chance Cloud or Tifa would come running in the door to save her.

Only one more option. One last, desperate hope. Rolling to the side at the last moment, Aerith evaded Corneo's lustful lunge for her and slid off of the side of the bed. Scrambling to her feet, she made a mad dash for the curtain separating the bedroom from Corneo's office. From there it was only a few steps to the door, then the lobby, then freedom...

And then, she stopped.

Her body went completely rigid. No matter how had she tried, Aerith couldn't budge a muscle, or even move her eyes, let alone run for her life. A human statue. At least the lack of breathing wasn't killing her; her body had been stopped in time while the world continued to move around her.

Corneo strutted out in front of her, a malicious smirk on his plump face. "Time materia, my dear," he chortled, slipping the small green sphere into the pocket of his trousers. "Don't worry, it will wear off in a few minutes. Too late for you, though!"

Frozen in mid-stride, Aerith was helpless to resist as he stepped up close to her. His breath smelled of alcohol, and his beady eyes narrowed in enjoyment as he reached a sweaty hand for her left breast.

She would have cried out, had she been able. Nobody had touched her there before, and she hadn't wanted a man like Corneo to be the first. The Don's hand groped at her breast fiercely, his fingers cruelly digging into the soft flesh. Her bra and the bodice of her dress were still between the Don and her bare skin, but already she felt naked. This wasn't right. Cloud, Cloud, where was Cloud...

Cloud wasn't coming, she remembered with horror. It was taking a while to sink in, as was the rest of her situation. This wasn't how things were supposed to go. She was supposed to be out of here with Cloud and Tifa and the information they were after! Instead, Cloud was dead and Tifa was a captive, and here Aerith was, unable to move and being molested by a pervert.

Tiring of her breast for now, Corneo released her and took hold of her wrists, dragging her back towards the bed. While she was unable to move, Corneo was able to freely manipulate her body. The spell was beginning to wear off, and Aerith's previously rigid limbs began to feel usable. In less than a minute, she would be able to move again...

A minute would prove to be too long.

Again Aerith was forced back onto the bed, this time placed on her stomach. Corneo reached beneath the bed and produced a long white cloth cord, testing it by stretching it between his hands. Satisifed, he straddled Aerith, pressing her down into the bedclothes. She was lucky to keep her face above the covers, still able to draw in breath as her mobility returned to her. Just a few seconds...

Her hopes were dashed as Corneo seized hold of her arms. Forcing them behind her back, he began to wrap the cord around her wrists, binding them tightly together within a matter of moments. By the time the magic Corneo had cast finally wore off of Aerith, she was already being turned over onto her back, resting on her bound arms.

She struggled against the cord binding her wrists, but wasn't able to slip out of it even slightly. "Untie me," she whispered pleadingly as she stared up at the Don, the tears returning to her eyes. She was helpless this time, and she knew it.

"No," Corneo smirked, hopping off of the bed only to reach for another identical cord. No, two. "You are mine, my dear. A girl as beautiful as yourself can belong to me, and only me." Humming to himself, he took hold of one of Aerith's ankles, casting off her pointed red shoe before coiling a length of the cord around her ankle.

"Stop it!" Desperate for any chance at escape, Aerith kicked at him with her free foot. The almost-sharp tip of her shoe connected with the Don's cheek, and he was driven back with a hiss, releasing her other ankle. His first act was to rip off her other shoe and throw it to the ground by its mate.

His second was to lean over the bound girl and slap her across the face, hard. Aerith shrieked as his open palm collided with her cheek, bringing stars to her eyes. Though she tried to resist, she could not prevent herself from letting out a sob as the tears began to fall.

This time when he seized her ankle, she offered no resistance. Corneo wrapped the cord around her ankle, tying it firmly before fastening the free end of the rope around a convenient metal loop affixed to the corner of his bed. Perfect for tying a girl down like this. Surely this was not the first time he had done such a thing.

She managed only the most feeble of protests as he repeated this action with her other ankle, securing it to the opposite corner of his bed. The skirt of her dress was torn up the middle as her legs were forced apart; it had not been made for this treatment. She was crying uncontrollably now, knowing the Don had her right where he wanted her. Her legs were spread wide and bound in position, her arms tied behind her back. She could barely move.

Smiling serenely, Corneo rested a hand on her tied ankle before sliding it along her leg, upwards to her knee. She shuddered at his touch, but could do nothing about it now. "Such a fine young thing," Corneo murmured. "I hope that I will be your first."

"Don't do this," Aerith whimpered, still trying vainly to free her wrists. The silken cord he had used was surprisingly tough. "Please don't."

"I will take that as a yes." Corneo's smile widened, and he continued to trace his hand upward, over her thigh, beneath the ripped fabric of her crimson skirt. Then, right to the junction of her thigh and waist, toying with the elastic waistband of her panties.

Aerith closed her eyes, trying to imagine herself somewhere else. In her church with the flowers, at home with her mother, even in Wall Market with Cloud and Tifa. Thinking about them unfortunately brought back the painful reality, and she opened her eyes to find Don Corneo again straddling her, his face inches from hers.

"Not sleeping on the job I hope, sweetheart!" he chuckled, stroking her cheek gently. Aerith stared up at him, her green eyes filled with emotions; anger, hatred, fear. "Please..."

"You know, I'm getting very tired of the complaining. You're supposed to be enjoying this, my princess!" Not waiting for a response, Corneo pushed her down deeper into the bed, smashing his lips into hers in a forceful, foul-tasting kiss that he held for far too long. Aerith attempted to bite him in retaliation, being the only thing she could do to fight him at this point, but was unable to even open her lips, forced close by Corneo's pressing onto hers.

When he finally pulled away, Aerith was left gasping for breath, her chest heaving. Corneo noticed, his eyebrow rising approvingly as his hand returned to knead her breast. Then, his other hand joined in, groping her other breast.

"Ugh! S-stop!" Aerith moaned, trying to twist away from his grasp. Again, escape proved impossible as the monster of a man sat atop her hips, leering down at her. She was forced to endure the sensation of his hands clawing and prodding at her chest, the mix of pain and - she hated to admit to herself - pleasure. "Please stop."

Corneo grimaced and shook his head. "I thought I told you to stop with the whining!" He shifted his weight, turning around so that his back faced Aerith's upper half, while still pinning her down. He reached downward to her thighs and took hold of her torn skirt, ripping it further apart and fully exposing her hips before him.

Without stopping, he seized the waistband of her panties, white cotton with featherlike lace trim. With one savage tug he ripped them away from Aerith's body, ignoring her cries of protest. With a wide smile he turned back around, wadded them up in his hand and descended over her, forcing her underwear into her mouth before she knew what was happening..

She tried to scream, but the sound was muffled by the ball of fabric clogging up her mouth, already turning wet with her saliva. Before she had time to spit it back out, Corneo recovered a thick blue scarf from beneath the bed and forced it into her mouth as well, pushing it behind her teeth and tying it firmly behind her head to keep the panties in.

"Good girl," Corneo said mockingly, slipping back down her body to kneel between her unwillingly spead legs. "Enough games, though; it's time to get onto the main event."

The next item to come out from beneath the bed was a short but sharp knife. The blade gleamed in the multicolored lights of the room, causing Aerith to whimper in fright. The sounds were muffled by the gag, but it was still easy for Corneo to tell what she was thinking. "Don't panic, I'm not going to kill you. Just hold still."

Corneo slid the knife under the ruined lower edge of her dress and slowly but deliberately began to slide it upwards, the blade facing towards the ceiling. The stomach and then the bodice of her dress were slowly sliced in two and thrust aside left and right, exposing her chest. A plain light blue bra still hid the flower girl's breasts from him, but that was not going to last.

As Aerith tried her best not to move despite her terror and revulsion, Corneo slipped the knife between the cups of her bra and sliced through, brushing the undergarment aside to reveal her naked breasts to him. Finally, he raised the knife to her shoulders and cut away the thin straps of her dress and bra, the last lingering scraps of clothing on her body.

Corneo took his time observing Aerith, the cleft between her legs filled with downy, light brown hair, her round, pale breasts neither too large nor too small, the fear in her emerald eyes, the scarlet blush across her cheeks. She tried to rise up, but was helpless to lift herself with her hands bound and the soft, yielding bedclothes beneath her. She was unable to even budge her legs an inch, as her ankles were tightly secured to the corners of the bed. She was utterly trapped.

The flower girl had fallen to her lowest. Naked on some strange man's bed, her hands tied behind her back, her mouth crammed full with her own panties, and her legs spread like some common whore. Sobbing hopelessly into her gag, she waited for what was sure to come next.

~ ~ ~

The moment Don Corneo finally crawled off of her and left the room was the greatest relief Aerith had felt in her life.

Being left naked, gagged and bound to Corneo's bed was no longer as horrifying as it once was. It was uncomfortable and humiliating, and she was still frightened by what was going to happen to her, but she was distracted from such things by the aches all over her body - her breasts, which had endured the savage attentions of Corneo's hands and mouth, her slapped, stinging buttocks. Worst of all was the throbbing pain between her hips, where Corneo had mercilessly plunged inside of her.

He had raped her. It had finally happened, after years of warnings from her mother about hanging around the filthy streets of Midgar selling flowers to slum-dwellers. She had been right all along; Midgar was filled with scum who would rape her the moment they thought they could get away with it. Yet her virginity had not been stolen by some common thug forcing her against a wall in an alleyway, but by a powerful criminal in a situation she had knowingly put herself in.

She had known the risks, known what Corneo intended for the women he chose. But it didn't make things any easier to bear now.

The cords that bound Aerith's hands behind her back and secured her ankles to the corners of the bed were too strong and too tightly tied to be escaped. The blue scarf that he had forced between her teeth and tied behind her head was digging into the corners of her lips painfully, holding her saliva-soaked panties inside her mouth. With nobody else in the bedroom with her, all she had were her thoughts, and each of those proved more unpleasant and depressing than the last.

It seemed like an eternity had passed since he had left her, and she had been alone with her bound, aching body and her black thoughts. Despite everything, she did not cry. She had shed all of her tears when Corneo was on top of her, inside her. Now, she just felt... empty.

~ ~ ~

The silence was broken by the sound of muffled voices in the next room.

Aerith strained to hear what they were saying. One of them was certainly Corneo, but the other she didn't recognise. Most likely one of his henchmen. They both seemed to be in good moods, and were throwing around such words as 'profits' and 'superb' and 'Shinra'. She couldn't make out the context, and she resigned herself to the fact that it didn't really matter.

Then, they started talking about 'the other girl.'

Aerith twisted left and right, trying to get closer to the wall so she could hear their words, but it was hopeless. She was firmly anchored to the bed by her ankles, and it was impossible to gain traction on the plush bedcovers with her wrists tied. She simply lay there, wondering if they were talking about her or Tifa or somebody else, until the voices died away.

Then Corneo stepped through the curtain from his office, his rounded face lighting up upon the sight of the captive Aerith, still flat on her back on his bed. "Glad to see you're still here, my pretty girl!" he chortled as he neared her. "I've got a surprise for you! Well, two surprises."

Something clinked. Craning her neck upward as best she could, Aerith quickly discovered what it was that was causing that sound.

It was a thick chain, attached to a shiny silver collar.

~ ~ ~

One Hour Earlier

Tifa Lockhart collapsed to the floor, her eyes fluttering shut as the befuddling magic of one of Corneo's thugs took full effect.

The lanky, mohawked underling known as Kotch tucked the Sleep Materia back into his pocket. Buying these had really been the best decision the Don had ever made. It made keeping girls in line so much easier.

Brought from Corneo's office to the recreation room commonly inhabited by the thugs when not running errands for their boss, Tifa had come along willingly enough, swaying her hips when she knew they were watching, 'accidentally' brushing her impressive breasts against Kotch as they had tried to passed through the same door at the same time. It was going to be a good night, Kotch had expected.

It was a very different story when the two of them had been alone in the recreation room. The moment Kotch had closed the door, Tifa had turned around and punched him square in the jaw with the skill and force of a martial arts expert.

It had taken him several seconds and two more blistering punches to think of the magical green orb the Don had given him... but when he did draw magic from the Materia, the effect was immediate. As the spell descended upon Tifa, she dropped out of her fighting stance, swaying on her feet for a moment before crumpling to the floor in a deep slumber.

Wiping blood from the corner of his mouth, Kotch looked down at the woman with satisfaction. She was stunningly beautiful, with a lithe body, slender legs, large breasts and dark brown hair that descended all the way to her buttocks. The skimpy purple dress she had chosen for the Don left her arms bare and cut off halfway down her thighs, and the triangular gap stitched into the bodice gave a generous view of her cleavage.

Kotch had seen a lot of girls in his time working for Corneo, but this one was by far the most attractive. Tifa, she had said her name was as he escorted her to this room...

His amorous thoughts were interrupted as another underling burst into the room. "Kotch! You all right?"

Kotch scowled and rounded on him. "This crazy bitch tried to smack me around, but I'll live." He stepped aside to allow the other to see Tifa unconscious on the floor.

The minion nodded, scratching his stubble-ridden face. "We had some problems with the other girl the Don gave us, y'see. Was a fuckin' man. Had to put him down, the tough bastard. You sure this one ain't got something extra?"

"A man? No shit?" Kotch cast his eyes over Tifa's body. She definitely looked female, but so had the blonde one. "Let me take a look-see."

He knelt beside the unconscious girl, slipping his bare hand under that short skirt of hers with trepidation and feeling his way up to her crotch. To his relief, he felt no bulge in her cotton panties, only the gentle curves of a woman. "Nah, she's a chick. But she did hit me. Make sure the Don knows what's going on; he's got one of them in his room too. I'm gonna teach this one what happens when she messes with me."

~ ~ ~

Present

When Tifa finally awoke, it was to the chuckling of the lackey called Kotch.

It didn't take her long to discover why he was so amused - he had been busy while she was unconscious. Her bare arms had been twisted behind her back, her wrists chained together over her backside with a pair of fluffy pink handcuffs. While her ankles remained unbound, he had wound a length of white rope around her knees, binding them tightly together before slipping the remainder of the rope between her legs, forming individual bindings for both legs.

Tifa strained againts the cuffs, but to no avail. While the fluffy pink material that sheathed them was soft and gentle, inside lay cold steel. They would not break so easily. At least, she reflected as she squirmed around on the floor, he hadn't undressed her. But like this, she couldn't defend herself.

"Wanna hit me again?" Kotch jeered, looking down on her with a cruel smirk. "Go on, take your best shot."

Tifa growled in anger, thrashing wildly against her bonds. "Let me out of this. I'll give you a fair fight, and we can see who's better."

More laughter from Kotch. "Nah, think I like you like this. Though you're getting a bit too loud for my tastes. Let's see what we've got to fix that." Turning his back on her, he ventured to the side of the room and slid open a drawer set into the wall. Tifa strained to see what he was doing, but could not even manage such a simple feat.

To her horror, when he turned back to her he was holding a red rubber ball in his hand teasingly. A leather strap ran through its center, dangling from the sphere ominously, tipped with metal buckles at each end.

Tifa had seen ball gags before in the windows of certain shops in Sector 7, but she had never seen why anyone would ever want to buy one, let alone wear one. Now she found herself pursing her lips tightly, shaking her head to prevent Kotch shoving one of them into her mouth.

"Ease up, princess," he snapped impatiently as he crouched beside her. "It's only been used on like four other girls before you. No, wait, five." His hand lashed out and captured her jaw. Tifa tried to bite his hand, but saw the trap too late.

Kotch thrust the rubber ball straight in her mouth, forcing it behind her teeth before she had time to react. Tifa's brown eyes widened as her jaw tried to adjust, held wide open by the ball pressing against her tongue and the roof of her mouth. It was incredibly uncomfortable, and Tifa knew she must look ridiculous.

As Kotch buckled the straps behind her head, Tifa tried to form words of protest, but the only result was a thin trail of drool slipping from the corner of her mouth. She closed her eyes in humiliation, trying to pretend she hadn't seen the delight and amusement in Kotch's eyes. She was supposed to be a fighter, but he had subdued her so easily it was pathetic.

Kotch plopped to the floor beside her, content with his work. Bondage was a specialty of his, whether the girl was willing or not, and this was one of his best jobs. "Now you and I can have some fun," he whispered. His calloused hand caressed her smooth leg, starting from her ankle and running all the way up to her mid-thigh, where his fingers slipped under the lower hem of her dress. As Tifa whimpered and squeezed her eyes further shut, he began to draw the hem upward...

"Kotch!" the minion from earlier bellowed, slamming the door to the recreation door wide open. Tifa sighed in relief through her gag at the interruption.

"Fuck it!" Kotch let go of Tifa and stood, his teeth clenched. "What is it now?! That little chick of Corneo's got a dick, too!?"

The minion shrugged. "Uh, no... but Corneo wants you to bring that girl of your downstairs. Got something planned with her and his girl."

Kotch muttered something under his breath and his fists clenched in anger... for all of a moment, as a realization came to him. "Downstairs? You mean in the..."

"Yep." The minion nodded eagerly. "You got five minutes to get her ready. He'll meet you down there!" With that he retreated back to wherever he had crawled out of, closing the door behind him.

Kotch looked down at the handcuffed, ball-gagged Tifa, a grin spreading across his face. "Looks like you and me are going on a little trip. Let me get some jewelry for ya, got to have ya looking nice." He returned to the drawer in which he had found the ball gag, and this time withdrew another device. This one was a shiny silver collar, linked to a long, sturdy chain.

Tifa squirmed when she saw it, shouting incoherently behind her gag. She ignored the drool that continued to flow down her chin as the gag muzzled her speech, pooling on the floorboards. There was no way she was going to let him collar her like some dog!

Yet try as she might, she could not resist as he slipped the cold metal around her unwilling neck, clasping it shut behind her. She heard the click of a tiny lock turning and stopped struggling, slumping in defeat.

She had been kidding herself. He could do whatever he wanted to her.

~ ~ ~

Aerith flinched as the metal collar locked about her throat, but gave no other sign that she had noticed. Her jade eyes stared at the ceiling, unseeing, as the flower girl tried to will herself to another place. Anywhere else.

Corneo leered down at her naked body, the look in his eyes as fearsome and predatory as any monster. His gaze roamed over her legs and breasts and hips, all exposed for his enjoyment, but he took particular pleasure in seeing her face. Her eyes, red from crying but stoically refusing to look at him. Her lips, forced inward by the blue scarf tied between them, and the sodden white fabric of her panties packed into her mouth beyond.

"I know about it, you know." The Don's leer faded, all emotion leaving his face as his eyes bored down on her, as cold and unfeeling as a brick wall on a winter's day. "I had my people find out who you have been seen with. You are friends with the blond man and the other girl. The ones who attacked my men the moment they had the chance."

Aerith offered no answer. She refused to even glance at her tormentor.

Corneo shrugged and moved to the foot of the bed. His surprisingly dexterous fingers worked at the knots tying her right ankle to the bed, detaching it and moving to the opposite end with impressive speed. Aerith watched him untie her left ankle as well, contemplating escape. It would be hard to climb to her feet with her arms tied behind her back, but she could try, and then...

And then what? She couldn't open doors with her wrists bound, and there were plenty of those between her and freedom. Even if she did escape, she would be nothing more than a naked, helpless girl in the slimiest district in the city. And Tifa... she was still here. She couldn't abandon the other woman to the Don.

The moment her other ankle was freed, Aerith closed her legs to hide her womanhood. For all the good it did, she reminded herself with disgust. He had already seen every inch of her body, and could again if he had the slightest whim. Still, it gave her comfort to regain even this much control, and it didn't seem as though Corneo cared to stop her.

Corneo reached down to the bedcovers and snatched up the chain that connected to the front of her collar. Her leash. "Time to get up, sweetheart," he ordered, giving the chain a sharp tug.

Unable to rise as a free woman might, Aerith rolled toward the side of the bed, trying to slide herself onto the floor feet first. It only half worked, and she nearly fell backwards onto the floor. She was saved by a suddenly strict grip on the chain by Corneo, though she suffered the pain of the metal collar jerking savagely against her neck.

Corneo made no move to loosen the cords that bound Aerith's hands, nor to remove her humiliating gag. Instead, he gave a somewhat gentler tug on the chain, drawing Aerith forward in his wake. The flower girl took faltering steps, her body still aching from her ordeal, feeling sickeningly like a dog being walked by an imperious master.

He led her beyond the curtain that divided his bedroom and office, then through the door and into the main hall. From here it was a swift trip through a chamber as gaudily decorated as the rest of the house... but to her horror, Aerith found a small host of Corneo's goons lined up at the side of the hallway to watch their passage.

Noticing her hesitation, Corneo mercilessly yanked on her leash. Aerith gasped as she was dragged along by her collar, forced to walk past the array of filthy minions naked and bound. Every detail of her bare, helpless body was on full display.

She closed her eyes and allowed Corneo to lead her along, trying to forget that they were watching, but she couldn't shut out their voices. Their lewd chuckles, their whispered critiques of her body, their assertions of what they would do to her, given the chance. It was too much for her to take.

~ ~ ~

Tifa, too, tried to block out the hungry stares of the underlings of Corneo as she was dragged by her collar towards the foreboding door at the end of the hallway, mere minutes after Aerith's procession.

Though she was still fully dressed, her heart was still filled with shame. Her arms remained secured behind her back with Kotch's fluffy pink handcuffs. The red ball gag was still locked into her mouth, holding her jaw open and denying her coherent speech. Her knees were tied together with rope, limiting the speed and grace with which she could walk.

Even if she could have spoken, Tifa had no idea what she would have said. Perhaps it was better that she not find out.

After what seemed like an eternity of cackling and sneering from the minions, Kotch and Tifa finally reached the far doorway. Beyond lay no more of the ostentatious furnishings and the blinding reds and greens and golds that characterized the rest of Corneo's depraved manor. The path that awaited her was little more than a plain stone tunnel, a long staircase leading depressingly downward.

Kotch pulled on her chain, a voiceless demand that she keep walking.

Despite her fear of what lay ahead, Tifa knew she had no choice in the matter. She followed her captor down the stairwell into darkness.

~ ~ ~

As they reached the very bottom of the stairs, Tifa's eyes widened in horror.

The subterranean chamber was lit only by a dim, unreliable light globe set into a rusted lamp on a desk, but it shed enough light to see all that she needed to see and made her skin crawl.

A torture chamber.

A flat table lay at the center of the basement, with the rough outline of a spreadeagled person painted onto its surface. Straps of crimson leather at the wrists, ankles, neck and waist awaited their next chance to hold down a captive. Benches and tables were arrayed all around the sides of the chamber; one hosted a fearsome selection of whips and pincers, another a series of bottles and jars. At the far side, a large metal grate set into an old chimney, upon which glowed a pile of red-hot coals. On the walls hung blades, chains, a nightmarish selection of implements all designed for securing prisoners or causing pain.

Worst of all, Aerith stood in the corner of the chamber, accompanied by Don Corneo. The flower girl was collared, as Tifa was, but was in far worse shape. She was completely naked, her hands tied behind her back and her mouth stopped with cloth. She wore a broken, defeated expression that did not ease as she looked up at Tifa. The life had gone out of her brilliant green eyes.

Tifa tried not to notice the dots on her breasts that looked eerily like bite marks, or the unmistakable rope burns that marred the fair skin of her ankles. Tried not to imagine the corpulent monster that was the Don forcing himself on the poor girl. Yet in the back of her mind, she knew what had happened to the other girl.

This is my fault. I got you into this, Aerith.

Corneo smirked as Tifa was shoved into the corner beside Aerith. "Glad you could join us! We are going to play a fun little game. It's called "Who's the Biggest Fool". Kotch, remove their gags."

The mohawked minion moved to obey his master, first undoing the buckles of Tifa's ballgag and prising the rubber ball out of her mouth. It was wet with saliva, but Kotch didn't bother wiping it off, simply slipping it into his pocket as if it were brand new. Then, he handed Tifa's chain to the Don and moved over to Aerith. His sweaty hand dove into her mouth, pulling out the scarf and rolling it down under her chin, leaving the knot tied in place. Finally, he pulled out the sodden white rag that had been crammed into the flower girl's mouth, setting it down on a side table.

Tifa could not help noticing how much it looked like a lacy pair of panties.

Kotch retrieved Tifa's chain from Corneo, giving the Don a free hand to gesture with. And gesture Corneo did, first at Tifa, then Aerith... then finally at the ominous table in the center of the room. "Here are the rules of the game. One of you is going to be having a nice lie down over there. You are going to decide which one of you it will be!" He made a show of glancing at his golden watch. "You have one minute. Go!"

~ ~ ~

Aerith could not take her eyes off the metal table and its sinister restraints.

She knew terrible things were going to happen to whoever was tied down upon its surface, and her stomach twisted at the thought of being the victim. She could not look upon the tools of torture that surrounded her on all sides, so mesmerized was she by the table itself, but her imagination was filling in the blanks rather quickly.

But if she didn't volunteer herself, Tifa would be subjected to it instead. Aerith knew that she could not place the other girl in that position. Although she hadn't known her for long, she had immediately liked Tifa and admired her bravery for coming to the Don's mansion alone. Tifa was still fully dressed; maybe she hadn't been touched yet. Aerith had already suffered much, surely she could endure more if it would protect Tifa...

Her protective instincts warred with her primal fears. It was her or Tifa. The cruel Don had decreed that one of them had to suffer. There was no magical third option that would spare them both. It would have been easier if he had simply selected one of them, but he had instead decided upon this more subtle form of torture.

Aerith was terrified, but she could not condemn Tifa because of her own selfishness. She opened her mouth to speak.

But she couldn't force the words out. Her throat was choked by fear.

"Time's up!" Corneo tapped the face of his golden watch, peering eagerly at the two women. "Who's it going to be? My little pussycat, or the dame with the rack?"

I have to say it. I have to protect her. Aerith swallowed hard, drawing in a deep breath.

"I'll do it," Tifa declared before she could.

~ ~ ~

Despite the calm that Tifa tried so hard to feign for Aerith's sake, the beautiful barmaid was gripped by overpowering dread as Kotch began to unbuckle the restraints on the metal table, ready for a new occupant. She had volunteered herself out of pity for Aerith and guilt for what the flower girl had plainly been through, but already she wanted to take back her rash words.

Corneo had tormented Aerith, but now it was her turn.

She stood by and watched Kotch at work as she considered escape. There was no way Tifa could quickly ascend the long staircase that led out of the chamber with her knees tied together and her hands locked behind her back... but she knew that if she were to be tied down to that ominous table, Kotch would have to remove her handcuffs first. That would be her chance, her only chance to escape. If they got her tied down to that thing, it was all over.

Taking a moment to fasten Aerith's chain leash to a bolt in the wall, Corneo began to rummage through a wooden crate beneath one of the desks. Tifa's heart pounded as she wondered what terrible device of torture he was searching for, and how he would use it on her...

Eventually Corneo rose, clutching his prize triumphantly. Tifa's her heart sank into an abyss of fear at the sight of the device; it was far worse than she had imagined. It had no sharp edges, no pincers or chains, but its presence was more horrifying than any knife or whip.

It was a video camera.

Corneo hummed to himself as he switched the camera on, placing it onto a small tripod and angling the lens toward the restraining table. Meanwhile, Kotch finished unbuckling all of the straps and returned to Tifa's side, grinning at her with his yellowed teeth. "Everyone wants to be in the movies," he whispered gleefully, his foul breath making her cringe in disgust. She longed to punch him right in his leering face, but the fluffy handcuffs locking her behind her back were too strong. She settled for giving him a hateful glare and held her breath.

Satisfied with the camera's angle, Corneo waved a hand at Kotch impatiently. "All right, get Little Miss Tits strapped down. Time is money."

Tifa tensed at the order, ignoring the demeaning nickname, and waited for Kotch to unlock her handcuffs. This was it. This was her chance to free them both.

"Oh! Almost forgot." The Don smirked and reached inside his scarlet coat, withdrawing a long, jagged knife. The sharp silver blade flickered in the dim light as he turned it over in his hand before casually placing the edge against the naked Aerith's throat, above the rim of her steel collar. The flower girl's vibrant eyes widened and she went completely rigid, staring down at the blade in terror.

Corneo's smirk widened at his beady eyes locked on Tifa. "Any funny business from you, Tits, and your friend gets her throat torn out. We clear?"

Tifa gulped and nodded, her mind whirring as she judged whether she reach Aerith before Corneo could cut her throat. It seemed impossible. The Don and his hostage were only a few footsteps away, but she knew her limits. She would be unable to reach her before Corneo killed her.

There would be other opportunities to escape, but Tifa would have to endure whatever they did to her tonight if both she and Aerith were to escape alive.

"I thought you might see it my way." Corneo grinned, but did not withdraw the knife from Aerith's throat. "Just do as I tell you, and both of you get to keep your pretty little lives. Kotch, please untie the lady."

Snapping to attention, Kotch knelt behind Tifa and began to unfasten the ropes that bound her knees together. She closed her eyes as she felt the knots loosen, aware that he had a clear view up her skirt. Normally she would be mortified at the thought and likely deliver a slap to the man who dared, but she knew that things were about to get a lot worse. A little voyeurism was nothing.

The ropes fell to the floor. Kotch stood and unlocked Tifa's handcuffs as well, hesitating a moment as he began to slide the steel shackles open. The urge to punch him and make her escape from this horrible dungeon was almost overpowering; Tifa knew she could make it out of the building if she put her mind to it. Yet as the handcuffs were removed from her wrists, Tifa found herself looking at Aerith, hoping against selfish hope that she would see a sign from her that it was okay to run. That the flower girl would welcome death if it meant escaping Corneo's clutches.

Instead, she saw the shimmering, fearful eyes of a girl who wanted to live, and knew that she couldn't leave Aerith here alone to die.

Corneo seemed unsurprised at Tifa's lack of resistance, his loathsome smirk scarring his face. "Alright Tits, move to the foot of the table. Kotch, get your ugly face out of the frame. People pay to look at the girls, not you."

The camera. Tifa had forgotten about it when Aerith's life had been threatened. It stared at her from its place on the table across the room, its single winking red light a reminder that it was watching her every move. The brunette barmaid trembled as she obediently stepped into position as the Don had commanded, sickened by the realization that she was not being watched only by Corneo and Kotch and Aerith, but dozens or hundreds of people who would watch the tapes recorded tonight.

One step away from being a whore, Tifa thought bitterly, awaiting her next command with cold apprehension.

"Okay, time to show us what you've got." Corneo gestured at her with his free hand. "Start taking clothes off. I'll tell you when to stop."

Tifa had known it was coming, but those words made her freeze in fear. Even while she had been bound and gagged and alone with an amorous Kotch, she had been allowed her clothing and had drawn comfort from it, a sign that she was in no real danger. They were her last shield, and she could not bear to surrender them.

Corneo was unimpressed, his words frigid and without pity. "You will do as I say, Tits. I would hate to damage my dear little pussycat if you were to defy me..." His free hand moved to cup Aerith's bare breast, squeezing viciously and drawing a pained squeak from the flower girl.

She had no choice. "J-just don't hurt her," Tifa pleaded, lowering her eyes, trying to shut out her surroundings. She kicked off her shoes, one after another, then reached down to the soft hem of her skirt, drifting over her thighs. She drew in a deep breath of stale air that failed to calm her, then forced herself to pull her dress upward and over her head.

Her pale skin rose in goosebumps as she cast the dress aside, now clad only in her underwear. Her faded black bra and panties concealed very little. She was used to wearing brief clothing in public to allow freer movement during missions and to attract customers while she tended her bar, but nothing this brief. Her body was slender and athletic, entirely flat and toned but for her impressive bust, a liability at times and an asset at others.

A scarlet-faced Tifa slipped her hands behind her back and had started to unclasp her bra when Corneo coughed and shook his head. "That'll do for now," he commanded, releasing Aerith's breast to wave again at the restraining table. "Lie down on there, and be quick about it."

This time, a wiser Tifa did not hesitate despite the anxiety seething in her chest. She climbed onto the table, trying to ignore how the freezing surface felt against her bare skin as she lay down on her back. She spread her legs and stretched her arms out to her sides, mimicking the painted outline on the table's surface, hoping to please the Don with her imitation of willingness.

She forgot about the camera. She had to forget. If she knew that it was watching her, she could not bring herself to continue.

"Very good," Corneo cooed, smiling in delight. "You're learning obedience already. Kotch, secure the lady before she has a change of heart."

Once again Kotch moved to obey, his eyes prowling over Tifa's exposed body as he seized the first of the red leather straps attached to the table. He passed the strap over the top of her left wrist, pressing it into the table painfully as he buckled it in place. Tifa pulled against it, hoping for even a centimeter of slack, but found none.

Around the table Kotch went, securing Tifa's arms and legs to the table in turn with a succession of cruel leather straps. Lying there in her underwear and letting him tie her down was the hardest thing she had ever done. Her brain screamed at her to move, to stop him, to get away, but she suppressed it all for Aerith's sake and allowed him to strap down her limbs.

Each leather band buckled about her body was another savage blow to her hopes of freedom.

Seconds ticked by. Seeing Kotch pause, Tifa took the opportunity to crane her neck forward, looking over her bound body. Her arms were outstretched, strapped down at wrist and elbow. Likewise, her ankles were pinned several feet apart, her legs forcibly spread. She tried moving each limb in turn, but again found no slack at all. She was completely immobilized from her shoulders down.

"Just one more, sweetheart." Kotch leaned over the helpless barmaid, key in hand, and unlocked the humiliating collar that had so infuriated her. However, she had little time to celebrate as one final leather strap was secured about her neck, pressing down on her throat. Tifa could no longer even lift her head, forced to look upward at the dismal stone ceiling. Breath came harder to her, though she was unlikely to suffocate.

Nearly naked, her arms and legs splayed and strapped down, Tifa's complete vulnerability made her sick with fear. They could rape her, torture her, kill her, do anything they wanted to her and she could do nothing about it... and Corneo was the kind of man who would be happy to do any of those things. Grim acceptance settled its calming embrace around her hysterical thoughts. If they wanted to take her life, she could not stop them. She had chosen this fate to protect Aerith, even knowing that Corneo could murder them both immediately. Tifa had been through much in her life; she had believed she could endure this.

She had expected Corneo's next order to be a command for Kotch to do something to her. Instead, she heard words she had not anticipated, a malevolent whisper from the corner of the room. "I am going to untie your arms, pussycat. Do anything stupid and your friend dies."

Aerith? Tifa tried to turn her head to face them, but found even this simple thing made impossible by the strap around her neck.

~ ~ ~

Aerith sighed in relief as her hands, bound behind her back since Corneo had tied her to his bed, were released from the cords that held them. Immediately she rubbed at her wrists, trying to salve the vicious red rings the cords had cut into her soft flesh. Her instinct was to shield her breasts and privates, but she knew that it would be a futile gesture. Corneo and his underlings had already seen everything.

She could barely look at Tifa, stripped to her underwear and strapped spreadeagled to the table in the center of the basement. The flower girl was sickened by her own cowardice. It should have been her tied down on that table, her to suffer whatever abuse was coming. Instead, she had allowed her fear to control her and let Tifa volunteer in her place.

Her resolve had crumbled again when Corneo had put his jagged knife to her throat. Aerith knew that it was her fault that Tifa had missed her chance to escape, and now it was gone forever. An unrestrained Tifa could surely fight her way through whatever resistance Corneo's thugs put up, but Aerith was not like the brawny barmaid. She was not in the least athletic. If she made to escape, she would be recaptured in seconds.

This was all her fault. If she had stayed away from the mansion, Corneo would have chosen Tifa or Cloud as his girl for the night and they would have escaped with the information they needed. If she had been stronger, she could have escaped and rescued them. If she had been braver, she could have volunteered herself and spared Tifa her fate.

She was roused from her dark thoughts by a click from behind her head. To her surprise, her collar opened and fell to the floor, clinking against the crude stonework. Corneo had released her... but she did not allow her hopes to rise. She knew he did not mean well.

"Alright, pussycat." Corneo's whisper resembled the hiss of a venomous serpent. "You're going to play your part in our little game. Go and join Tits over by the table."

Aerith's heart lurched. She had thought she would be standing by the sidelines, forced to watch Tifa being punished for her cowardice. She padded across the floor, the frigid stone biting into her bare feet, stopping only once she reached the table. Tifa stared up at her, no judgment or hate in her brown eyes. Only fear.

It was an emotion both women shared as they waited for Corneo's next command.

~ ~ ~

The tiny red light blinked steadily. On, off. On, off.

Aerith wished she could ignore it. The ceaseless flickering in the corner of her vision was a constant reminder of the camera recording her in her nudity, another layer of degradation piled on top of her. It seemed almost unreal for the virgin flower girl, normally so reluctant to exhibit her body, to be revealing every inch of herself before the camera's lens. If that troublesome light would just be still, she could forget she was being recorded and pretend nobody was watching.

Nobody but the loathsome lecher Corneo, his leering minion Kotch, and poor Tifa bound to the metal table in front of her, secured with a myriad of leather restraints. The beautiful brunette was forced to stare up at her, a strap over her neck preventing her from turning her head away. Aerith could not look away from her either, transfixed by the paralysing terror she saw in the barmaid's brown eyes.

Aerith knew Corneo intended to make her hurt Tifa. Her guilt tore at her for letting the other woman volunteer herself in her place, to put herself in harm's way for the sake of protecting Aerith. To be forced to do the deed herself, to torment the woman who had so nobly defended her, sickened the flower girl and she knew that she couldn't go through with it. No matter how badly Corneo would punish her.

"For your first trick..." Corneo began, an eerily playful note to his words.

Aerith turned back to him, looking him in the eye with a determination belying her obvious vulnerability. "I won't do it!" she declared, her arms crossed defiantly over her breasts. "You can do anything you want to me. I won't resist. But please... please let her go! She doesn't deserve this."

Behind her, Tifa was completely silent.

The Don did not shy from Aerith's glare. His rounded face froze in anger at being defied, his fists clenching by his sides. Rage bubbled beneath the surface, longing to break out. He looked as if he were about to slap her, to punch her, to shout at her until his throat gave in.

Instead, he doubled over and roared with scornful laughter.

Aerith took a step backward in surprise and dismay, halting when she felt the freezing edge of the metal table pressing against her bare buttocks. As Kotch joined in the howling laughter, his derisive guffaws mimicking those of his boss, Aerith knew that her last hope of getting Tifa out of danger had been dashed.

"My dear, dear pussycat," Corneo chuckled, wiping a tear from his eyes as he regained control of himself. "Where would be the fun if she deserved what I'll do to her? Where would be the fun if you did not resist me when I came to claim you? Why, when I tire of a girl who doesn't resist, I send her to the brothel to earn her keep. Do you want to go to the brothel, pussycat?"

Aerith offered no response, staring at the floor and hoping it would all go away.

"I thought not." Corneo tapped his expensive shoe against the ground. "Now, here is what will happen. If you do not do as I say, your friend will be punished, and what I do to her will be far worse than what I will have you do. I've always wondered how a blind girl would do in a brothel..."

Aerith could hear Tifa's horrified whimpers, and knew that once again she had no choice at all. "I understand," she whispered brokenly, the last vestiges of her defiance slipping away.

~ ~ ~

Her head was locked in place. Her arms and legs were spread and pinned down to freezing metal by leather straps. She was completely immobilized.

Tifa lay back and waited, the only thing she could do. Her eyes filled with tears she could not wipe away, blurring her vision as she awaited what was to come. She was deathly afraid of what they would do to her, but the revelation that Aerith would be forced to play the Don's vile game was a tiny comfort that she clung to with all of her waning will. Aerith might be able to go easier on her. Kotch would have been worse, Corneo even more so.

"I am glad to hear my pussycat will follow her orders." The voice was unmistakably that of the smug Corneo, though Tifa could not even turn her head to look. "But you will need to prove yourself. First, you will put these on her. Kotch will supervise to make sure you do it properly."

Put what on me? Tifa strained to look, but her head simply refused to turn, held in place by the merciless leather restraint about her neck. She could see a fuzzy pink blur - Aerith - moving towards her out of the corner of her eye, but couldn't make out what it was Corneo had given her. The fearful anticipation was almost painful.

Then Aerith was standing over her again, looking down at her with those sorrowful green eyes. Her chestnut hair was a mess, her eyes bloodshot from crying. This was not the cheerful, optimistic girl Tifa had met hours ago, merely her shadow. Her soul had moved on, and here was the husk it had left behind. Kotch loomed behind her, his greedy eyes fixated on Aerith's nude rear.

"I'm sorry, Tifa," Aerith whispered, her voice breaking as she lowered her hands to her friend's ears. Tifa barely had time to spot the tiny yellow cylinders between the flower girl's fingers before she felt them being forced into her ears. Foam rasped against skin as Aerith pushed the earplugs deep into Tifa's ear canals, stopping only when she was certain that they would not pop out again.

Tifa moaned in protest as her hearing was muffled by the intruding plugs that now filled her ears. Clear voices became vague murmurs, the sounds of breaths inhaled and exhaled faded to little more than dim echoes. Even the sound of her own voice was dulled, as if it came from somebody in another room. With her arms both so firmly strapped to the table, there was no way she could remove them. She would just have to accept the new limitation placed on her.

Kotch handed Aerith another item, and this time Tifa had time to see what it was before it was applied to her - a large black pair of industrial earmuffs. Without hesitation Aerith leaned over Tifa and clapped them over the barmaid's head. The soft, rubbery plastic snugly embraced and enveloped her plugged ears.

All sound fled her world, leaving her with only stifling silence. She could no longer even hear herself moan.

Tifa continued to stare upwards, watching Aerith's lips move as she turned back towards Corneo. It was killing her to be unable to hear what they were saying, to be locked out of the discussion of her own fate. Not knowing what was coming next was a terror all on its own, and she longed to be able to hear their words even though she was certain that they boded ill for her.

Agonizing moments passed, and Aerith leaned over her again. She had received her new orders.

Tifa noticed that her hands were empty this time, but her relief quickly faded into sickening fear as Aerith seized hold of the thin fabric of Tifa's bra, grasping the centre where the cups met. She had still dared to cling to a foolish hope that she would be able to retain the last of her modesty, but that game was finally over.

Sorrow filled the flower girl's eyes as she slowly tore the front of the bra in two, the thin cotton barely resisting her for a second. Tifa closed her eyes and stared into darkness as she felt Aerith's fingers brush against her breast, pulling apart the black straps that held the undergarment around her shoulders. One by one the severed bands fell away, until Aerith finally pulled the entire ruined bra from her body and handed it to Kotch. Tifa let out a humiliated sob as she sensed dozens of eyes studying her bare breasts, those of Corneo and Kotch and untold multitudes of people who would view the recording after the fact.

All of her worst nightmares were coming true. Her childhood love was dead, and her friends in Avalanche may soon follow due to her failure, and oh God she could feel the fingers of the girl she had thought her friend grasping at the waistband of her panties, tugging at them, trying to pull them off...

No, she told herself. This isn't Aerith's fault. They're making her... she has to do what they say or they'll hurt us both. I'd have done the same if Aerith had volunteered first. This isn't her fault...

Cold air tickled her nether regions as her panties were torn from her body, leaving her completely naked at last. She should have been more mortified than ever, but she was beginning to take shelter in the darkest recesses of her thoughts. It didn't really matter, it wasn't real, she couldn't hear anything, couldn't see anything, it would be over soon, she would wake up...

~ ~ ~

Aerith whispered broken apologies as she stripped her friend of her clothing and her dignity, but she knew that under the earplugs and the earmuffs, they went unheard.

She handed the remnants of Tifa's panties to Kotch without looking at him. She didn't want to see the feral lust and sadistic amusement in his eyes anymore, and it felt like betrayal to look away from the naked, helpless body of her friend. This was her fault, after all. It was her fault that Tifa was being used like this. If only she had done something differently to save her...

"Good to see you're learning some obedience, pussycat," Corneo gloated, returning to the wooden crate from which he had pulled the camera. This time it took him only a few moments to produce the item he wanted... no, two items. "Come over here, my dear girl. I have something for you."

Aerith complied yet again, hating herself for her obedience. She was no longer bound, yet she was no more free than when she had been tied to the Don's bed. One wrong move and she would be punished, and so would Tifa. She had begun to wonder if his idea of punishment would really go further than what she was being forced to do already, if he would really carry out his threat toward Tifa... but she knew that she could not test him. The risk was too high.

She discerned the identity of one of the Don's new toys before the other, if only because she had seen such a thing many times before. It was a pistol, sleek and black and menacing, the kind that the more well-heeled hoodlums of the slums liked to wave in peoples' faces. Corneo held the pistol in a sure grip as she approached, the muzzle pointed straight at her chest. The threat was obvious... but why did he feel the need to intimidate her now, of all times? She was as defenseless as she had ever been without her staff or her materia.

The answer became plain as Corneo extended the second item towards her. It was a long metal tube, with rubber casing at one end and a pair of small, blunt metal protrusions at the other. She accepted it with caution, as if expecting it to bite her.

"I'm not sure if you have ever seen a cattle prod before," the Don informed her smoothly, "but they are very simple. Press the little button on the handle there, and zap! Somebody gets hurt."

Aerith looked down at the device in her hand in horror. Surely she wasn't supposed to...

"Go over there and use it on your friend. Give her a little taste of it." Corneo's eyes gleamed, and his face shone with more malice than she had ever seen from any one being in her life, even in the slums where the violent and the cunning ruled. "If you don't do it, I'll have her taken away to her new life, and you can be strapped down there instead. Choose wisely!"

Nausea swept over the flower girl as she turned the prod over in her hands. Her eyes shimmered, and tears began to slide down her cheeks once again, water from a well she had thought dry. "Please no. Don't make me do it. Please leave her alone..."

"Are you volunteering yourself instead?" Corneo's eyebrow arched in genuine interest.

Aerith glanced back at Tifa, still bound to the table in the center of the room, completely motionless. Her body bared for the camera, an offering for the perverts who would pay the Don good money for the recording. It made her ill to think that she had played a role in putting Tifa on that table, and she began to wonder if she were not as much a participant in this as Corneo or Kotch. She had done what she did for her own selfish reasons, just as they did...

She still despised herself for co-operating and for putting Tifa in harm's way, and in that moment she truly wanted to say yes, get Tifa out of there. I'll do it. You can do what you want to me, just don't hurt her. She has suffered enough for one day. Beneath the broken, abused shell of a girl Aerith had become there was still a noble spirit, one willing to sacrifice herself for her friends. All it would take was a word and she would be the one on that table instead...

But worse than the self-loathing was the terror. She only needed to look at Tifa to know what switching places with her would bring her. She would be naked and helpless once again, but this time would suffer the added humiliation of being on camera, and the added torment of whatever torture Corneo saw fit to use on her. It would be a hell she could only escape from on the whim of a sadistic monster.

Her eyes wandered to Tifa's head, kept in place by the strap around her neck. The earmuffs were still clamped about her ears, keeping the foam plugs jammed inside her ear canals. She couldn't hear them. She would never know this conversation had ever happened... it would be so easy to just...

"...No. I'm not volunteering," Aerith whispered.

~ ~ ~

It seemed like an eternity since she had seen another human being.

Tifa knew that Aerith and Corneo and Kotch were still in the basement with her, but she could not turn her head even a fraction to look at them. The only thing she could hear was the sound of blood rushing through her head - the earplugs and earmuffs had seen to that. She was blind when she needed to see the most, deaf when she needed to hear.

With no fresh horror to distract her or occupy her thoughts, her terrified mind turned to other considerations. What would happen to her when she was finally allowed to leave this table? They wouldn't let her walk out of here, nor Aerith. No, they would keep them both, or kill them, or ship them off to god-knows-where. No matter which way she looked at it, her future was inescapably bleak. They had already stolen her life from her, her hopes and her dreams.

Already she felt less like Tifa Lockhart, the bar owner and freedom fighter from Nibelheim. With every passing second of restriction and humiliation she felt more like a nameless thing, a prisoner without a past. If they let her go this very second, could she go back to what she had been only a few hours ago? Perhaps she could if she tried hard enough, but even if she managed to put the events of tonight behind her, she would carry the scars in her mind forever. Scars that only grew deeper as the seconds ticked by and her freedom fell further away.

Something shifted at the corner of her vision, and she blinked to clear her eyesight. Aerith was back. The flower girl loomed over her, the same profound sadness in her eyes as she gazed down at her. Nothing had changed. No miracle had occured. Her future was still pain and degradation. She had been a fool to hope otherwise.

There was something in Aerith's hand. Tifa focused her vision in it, trying to observe details in the dim light of the basement. It was long... metal... and there were two points at the end, just like...

No. Oh no.

Aerith looked over her shoulder, back at the depraved Corneo, listening intently. Her face hardened, and she nodded faintly, accepting the orders she had been given. She back to face Tifa.

Tifa noticed for the first time that the flower girl was crying.

Aerith lowered the rod onto her body, its points resting gently on either side of Tifa's exposed nipple.

Tifa clamped her eyes shut.

Aerith pressed the button.

Tifa screamed.

~ ~ ~

Later That Night

She barely felt the biting embrace of the silken cords he had wrapped around her limbs, drawing her body into an inescapable straddling his bed.

The girl's wrists were fastened to opposite ends of the headboard. Her ankles were lashed to the bed's lower edge. Her limbs were spread in four directions, stretched to their limits. She was left no room to move, no slack in her bonds.

But she no longer let such concerns bother her. She belonged to the Don, and he could do to her as he wished.

He would be back soon, and he would fulfil his promise to her. He would take her again, and again, pleasure for himself and pain for her, but it did not trouble her as it once had. She had endured the beginning of her captivity through her sobs and her tears, withstood the way he had stripped her, raped her, paraded her before his men, but now at long last he had finally broken her.

Every time she closed her eyes, Tifa screamed and writhed in front of her, twisting against leather bonds that would not break, begging for mercy. Staring up at her with unbridled hatred in her eyes that would not vanish no matter how many times she placed that crackling prod against her breasts, beneath her feet, inside of her...

The girl hated as well, with all of her heart. She hated Corneo, hated Kotch, hated the scum who would pay them for the recordings they had made, but there was nobody she despised more than herself. The innocent flower girl who had entered this house of horrors to save a woman she did not know had tortured her without mercy instead. She had betrayed everything she thought she stood for. She had sided with her enemies just to save herself the torment she had inflicted on Tifa. It disgusted her, and she would have given anything to have that moment back again... but she knew that in her fear she would make the same choice again.

She would not resist any more. She would not struggle. Even if the chance emerged for her to escape from her captors, she would not take it.

In time she could forget the abuses that had been inflicted on her in this place. She could forget Corneo on top of her, grunting and sneering, she could forget the leers of the men who had seen her naked and helpless.

But there was no way she could forget what she had done to Tifa. She would never forgive herself.

A dark chuckle filled the air as Corneo stepped through the curtain that linked his office and bedroom. He smiled at her with lust and desire in his eyes and disrobed immediately, his expensive clothes giving way to a mountain of flabby, pale flesh. He waddled across the room and slid himself on top of her without ceremony, his clammy rolls of blubber pressing against her body, stealing her warmth, as his mouth snared hers and his cock slid along her thigh towards her entrance. She would be his again.

Aerith closed her eyes as her body began to respond to his clumsy ministrations. After what she had done, this was what she deserved.

~ ~ ~

Her body was a network of savage aches.

She had remained strapped to the table in the basement while Corneo had led Aerith away, exposed and immobile, but it was a meaningless gesture by now. She could not walk even if allowed. The agonizing electric shocks delivered to her body throughout her torture had left her so weak that it was a miracle she had managed to cling onto consciousness. Kotch had made sparing use of his Cure materia to ensure there was no permanent damage, but it had barely made her feel better at all.

Eventually Corneo had returned with gun in hand and supervised as Kotch unbuckled the straps holding the woman to the table and removed her earmuffs and earplugs. She could not so much as move a single throbbing finger to stop him as he clapped the familiar fluffy handcuffs around her wrists again, forced the humiliating ball gag back into her jaw, clapped the collar and leash around her neck once more. Before, she could have taken him if given the chance. Now she was so completely powerless that she may as well have been unconscious after all.

Throwing her over his shoulder, Kotch carted her out of the basement and back into the gaudy mansion. The minions who had watched her procession earlier were gone now, but she would not have cared if they were still there. What did a few more people seeing her naked matter? It was too late to worry about that now.

Kotch deposited her in a room she had not seen before, small and featureless but for a series of steel hooks and loops set into the far wall. Selecting one close to the floor, Kotch hooked the end of her leash to it and left the woman there, closing the door and shutting her into darkness.

She lay on the floorboards, naked, gagged, handcuffed and chained, sinking into a despairing daze. Her body blazed with the aftermath of her torture, and she knew that more suffering awaited her whenever her captors felt like it. They had not raped her, but they would.

Maybe they would get Aerith to do it, she thought viciously as she began to descend into slumber. Some friend she had turned out to be. In the back of her mind she knew that the flower girl had been no more a willing participant than she had, but all she saw in her most painful memories was Aerith standing over her, Aerith wielding the prod, Aerith pushing it into her body and depressing the button.

Whenever Tifa thought of Aerith, she thought of agonizing, unending pain. There was no longer any separating the two. The images burned into her mind throughout her ordeal would not go away, and the confused, splintered perceptions that had flowed through her mind as her body suffered slowly became the truth.

~ ~ ~

The night wore on.

Don Corneo reclined in his favourite chair, his legs crossed upon his oaken desk. A cigar smouldered between his fingers, and a beautiful symphony floated through his office from the record player across the room.

The innocent flower girl had been amusing to ruin. He so adored the broken ones, and he envisioned keeping her for himself for a good while yet. She had learned how to obey him very quickly, and he had to admit that she was very attractive. Yes, it would be a long time before he untied her from his bed and passed her on to the brothel. She had many nights in her yet.

Not that the other one was unattractive. Tifa, his pussycat had called her, though her name hardly mattered. She was a strong one according to Kotch, and would need to be restrained at all times until she learned her place. He was not certain what he would do with her yet, but he had considered giving her to his loyal lieutenant as a reward for his service.

The music skipped, then ground to a halt. The lights dimmed. The earth began to shake.

It had begun, Corneo supposed. The Shinra were really going to do it. They would really drop the ceiling on Sector 7, destroying every building and every person that lived within. It was a masterstroke, the Don told himself as he braced himself for the coming crash. Destroy the terrorists, blame the terrorists. Corneo admired that sort of cunning.

The shaking increased. Surely the pillar must be coming down now, and the ceiling of Sector 7 with it.

Perhaps that was what the two women and their male colleague had been after, he mused. Perhaps they had known that he knew something about what was coming, and had hoped to extract it from him by force. It made sense now that he thought about it. They had wanted something, for they had conspired to put one of their number in in his bed this night, no matter which he chose.

It was a good thing he had invested in materia to subdue the wild ones. Who knows what might have happened?

Chapter Text

Mia/Male OC, Mia/Felix, bondage, torture, degradation

Mars Lighthouse had been activated. The Golden Sun had risen.

Eight heroes and their elderly guide had climbed the last of the four elemental towers, braved the freezing blizzard and the monsters that lurked within, and ignited the beacon at the lighthouse’s aerie. The force of Alchemy had returned to the world in a blinding flash of light, spreading the essences of fire and earth, water and wind across the world of Weyard in a last desperate attempt to save it from a lingering, dismal death.

It had worked, in the end. It had been worth the risks they had taken in unleashing Alchemy upon the world. Already there were signs of renewal in Weyard’s outer reaches; in northern Prox, the rift that had threatened to devour the snowbound town had begun to withdraw, the lands it had consumed returning as if they had never disappeared. The cold, while ever-present in this frigid land, had begun to ease. No longer did fearsome blizzards and storms constantly ravage the town. The sun shone upon Prox once again.

Although the heroes responsible for the world’s salvation were welcomed back to Prox with open arms, the time soon came for them to leave the northern town and return to their homelands across the sea. Already they were looking forward to reuniting with their loved ones and letting their terrible burdens fade into distant memories, tales to tell their children one day far into the future.

One adept, however, had made the difficult decision to stay.

~ ~ ~

“You can’t be serious, Mia.” Isaac’s eyes flickered with sadness as the initial shock wore off. The blond youth’s voice was almost pleading as he stood his ground, fighting off the emotions swirling about inside him. “Why would you want to stay here? It’s... it’s...”

Mia bowed her head; it was growing difficult to hide her own sorrow from her friend. “I am serious, Isaac. Prox has been through a terrible time these last few years, and everything won’t just improve overnight because we lit the beacon. That was only the start. The injured and sick cannot just heal themselves...”

“Prox has a cleric,” Isaac pointed out, his voice unusually sharp. Mia cringed at his tone; he was taking this much worse than she had expected. He seemed deeply upset by her decision. “Why can’t he help the people here? It’s his job, isn’t it? You’ve earned a rest, and everyone knows it.”

“The town’s cleric died last night,” Mia’s words were a mournful whisper. She had made a point of getting to know the clerics in each town that they had visited, and the elderly fellow serving here in Prox had been one of those she had liked the most. Despite being a human cleric in a foreign land, he had devoted every day of his life to the betterment of the village. “They said the light of the beacon activating gave him a heart attack. It was a spectacular sight from the ground.”

Isaac gave a tired sigh, rubbing his forehead with a leather-gloved hand. “Please don’t tell me you feel responsible.”

“I don’t.” Mia forced a smile. “He was an old man, and he knew that he was likely to die with the rest of Prox if we didn’t intervene. We did the right thing, even if it had consequences like this... but the village no longer has a cleric. I need to stay.” Her lovely face radiated serenity, even if within she felt anything but. “It’s not forever, Isaac. I can train someone from the village to replace me, in time.”

That mollified the Venus Adept a little, but he still obviously had his doubts. "I can't stop you. I don't want you to do this, but I can't stop you.” It was clear from his tone that he might have, had he been able. ”Are you really sure this is what you want to do, Mia? There won't be an easy way home if you change your mind."

"I'm sure, Isaac." Mia kept her tears in check with monumental effort. If Isaac knew she had doubts, he would keep chipping away until she relented and came home with everyone else. "This is something I have to do. I am still a cleric. I can’t abandon these people because of my own selfishness. I want to go home with you... but... I can’t."

Isaac nodded, but remained silent as moments dragged by. She had not convinced him that this was for the best, and he struggled to find the words that would convince her to change her mind... but he came up with nothing. "...All right," he relented, seeming to deflate.

Mia stepped forward and enfolded him in a tight hug. Isaac stiffened, then relaxed and returned the embrace, holding the blue-haired girl close. "Promise me you'll be safe, Mia."

"I promise." Mia smiled, and this time it was genuine. "Take care of your mother. And Jenna."

Isaac hesitated before answering. "Yeah. Yeah, I will."

~ ~ ~

Settling in as Prox’s new cleric was not easy for the young Mercury Adept.

Seeing her friends board their ship without her and waving goodbye as they sailed away was the hardest thing that Mia had ever done. She would miss all of them terribly; fiery Jenna, wise Kraden, calm Piers, clever Ivan, insightful Sheba, blunt Garet, stoic Felix and brave, noble Isaac, but she knew that most of them had homes and families to return to, and that her renegade cousin Alex was still out there and likely to cause trouble with his newfound powers.

They had to go home, and she had to stay here.

It was weeks after her friends’ departure that the aftermath of the Golden Sun began to have a more dramatic effect on the icy town. The temperature began to fluctuate wildly, swapping between acceptable warmth and horrific cold with alarming frequency. The blizzards returned, harsher than ever but mercifully short. New species of monster started to appear, fiercer and smarter than those that had populated the area in the past.

Worst of all were the earthquakes. Barely a day passed without the ground beginning to shake, varying in intensity from the more common minor tremors to terrifying shudders so strong that houses and property were damaged. In the worst of them, it was inevitable that people would be injured and that the task of healing them would fall to Mia.

Every time she did her best to cure them of their ills and send them on their way, but the earthquakes kept coming and so did the wounded. The villagers were grateful for her services and the powers granted by her Mercury psynergy, so different from their own Mars, but they refused to heed her pleas to move to safer ground. The Proxians were the guardians of their lighthouse, they told her, even after its seal had been broken. She of all people should know what that meant.

And so it continued. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months. Little changed. Occasionally, Piers would come north to visit her and investigate the effects of Alchemy’s return on the frozen north, but she had seen nothing of the rest of her friends in a long time. How long, she could not say. Her perception of time had blurred of late, an endless stream of waking and healing and eating and sleeping.

On one visit, Piers informed Mia that she had been living in Prox for three years.

The news shocked her. Three whole years. It seemed impossible at first, laughable even. She had hardly aged a day; the Mia who she saw in the mirror every morning was the same Mia who had climbed the lighthouse with her comrades. Piers had replied that they all did, every one of them who had been present at the top of the lighthouse for the igniting of the beacon and the rise of the Golden Sun. It was unnoticeable in Piers himself, already given to slow ageing, but now it was the same for each of their traveling band, even Ivan and Sheba, the youngest of their group. It was a constant source of annoyance to the two Jupiter adepts, he had added with a smile.

Mia’s twentieth birthday had come and gone. Time was leaving her behind. It troubled her that of all of her friends only Piers had ever come to see her, and he had sympathized, but reminded her just how isolated from them she was, and by her own choice as well. The aftermath of the Golden Sun had kept everyone busy, especially Isaac and Felix. They had wanted to come and see her, but there was always some new crisis to confront in their rapidly changing world to keep them away.

When Piers had left on his ship, Mia had been sorely tempted to go with him... but she knew that she could not leave Prox now, when they needed her so badly.

~ ~ ~

Not every Proxian was grateful to have Mia living in their village.

One such Proxian was a warrior Adept named Devori. Skilled with the word and his fiery Mars psynergy, he had distinguished himself in the last three years as a protector of Prox, fighting off the strange new breeds of monsters that had appeared in the wake of the Golden Sun. Though only eighteen, he had earned acclaim throughout the village as a hero. Some claimed that he would be the next Saturos.

That was a claim that only angered Devori. Saturos had been a hero to him growing up, the strongest warrior in Prox, a living legend. It was a great honor to even be compared to him... yet he was dead now, killed along with many of the town’s greatest warriors. Menardi, Karst, Agatio, all had passed from the world shortly before the rise of the Golden Sun... and all at the hands of Isaac, Mia, Felix and the rest of the human Adepts. The very same humans now hailed as heroes themselves.

It was sickening. They had murdered four of the greatest warriors of Prox, yet they were forgiven in a heartbeat. One of their number was even permitted to live among them as a welcomed guest, as if nothing had happened. It was a disgrace, an insult to the fallen, but the villagers urged him to simply accept the past and move on. Let go of the past and embrace Mia as one of their own.

No, vowed Devori. It would never be that easy.

~ ~ ~

Fiery orange stained the horizon as the sun began to set, signalling the end of another freezing day.

The cold did not bother Mia. The girl with the hair of vibrant blue was an Adept of water and ice and had lived in chilly Imil for the first seventeen years of her life; lower temperatures were nothing new or uncomfortable for her. Three years on and it was still a relief from trekking through deserts and volcanoes, where she had suffered even more from the extreme heat than her friends.

Still, she was eager to return to her Sanctum after a day spent treating patients in their homes. The last earthquake had injured almost a dozen Proxians, leaving most of them unable to leave their houses to attend the healer’s rooms, and she was exhausted from her efforts to heal them. The job of town cleric was becoming no easier, and to make matters worse after three years she had still found no apprentice. The people of Prox were all Mars adepts, and very few of those were ever able to master any form of recovery psynergy. No other methods of treatment compared to her miraculous healing powers. How many more years of her life would she need to spend here before the Proxians could do without her?

Lost in her thoughts as she made her way back to her home, it took her a few moments to realize that she was being watched.

She cringed as she recognized who it was. The Proxian warrior Devori was fearsome in appearance, as a great many of the Fire Clan were to ordinary humans; he was tall and well-muscled from his training, his skin a pink so deep that it was almost scarlet and marked with blood-red scales at points on his body. His oily black hair contrasted with his skin, rising in ragged spikes in front and curling downward about his neck, almost a mane. His nose was more pointed than most, his eyes a rusty orange, a smattering of those rough red scales covering his right cheek from his eye to his jaw. It was a healthy appearance for a Proxian, if not a handsome one. Like a devil from folklore, Mia had to admit.

Their eyes met, and Mia felt utter hatred wash over her.

She knew that he despised her. He was not the only one who did not accept her presence in Prox, and she knew why. She had not forgotten the Proxian deaths during her journey with Isaac and the others, and though she had been forced to fight against them, she deeply regretted their passing. It was not difficult to imagine that the fallen had left behind relatives and friends in their icy homeland. She had tried reaching out to them, even to Devori, but none of them would speak to her, and none would accept her treatment when they were hurt or sick. Their loathing of her was simply too deeply ingrained. It did not please her, but she had learned to live with their hatred.

She lowered her gaze, unable to stomach Devori’s stare of contempt any longer. Home was looking ever more inviting.

~ ~ ~

Devori fought off the overpowering urge to attack the little cleric as she hurried on her way through the town.

It disgusted him more than anything to see the reverence in which many of his kind held the Imilian girl, after all that she had done. They called her an angel and trusted her as one of their own, allowed her to care for the ill and the injured. How could they be so blind, so stupid? How could they spit on Saturos’ memory by allowing her to live?

He had never felt such hatred for anyone in his entire life as he felt now for Mia. Every time he saw her, his heart was filled with burning rage and the desire to make her suffer for her crimes. These feelings of utter loathing for the cleric were nothing new for him; he had been nursing them for three years, after all, ever since the moment he learned of Saturos’ fate. Isaac had told the tale himself as Mia looked on, both of them daring to feign sympathy and sadness. Tears of anguish had gathered in Devori’s rust-tinged eyes as the tale was told, but his sadness had quickly turned to anger. His rage only deepened when he discovered that the townspeople had no intention of punishing Isaac and Mia and the rest for their deeds, and still feted them as heroes. Did the life of Saturos mean nothing to those left behind? What of Menardi and Karst and Agatio?

He had dreamed of harming the Mercury adept many times before, but this was the first time he found himself seriously considered acting on his impulses. Right here and now, in the middle of the village, in plain. How he desired to wipe the serene smile from the cleric’s face, to choke the life from her until her eyes grew dull and her breathing ceased. Who else would taken vengeance for the dead, for the honor of Prox, if not him.

Lost in his fury, Devori found himself following Mia, observing her more closely. He slipped behind a nearby house, hiding in the growing shadows, watching her as she trudged through the snow toward the Sanctum as a hunter might observe his prey. He watched her delicate footsteps in the snow, the swaying of her blue ponytail on the breeze, the polite bows she gave those she passed by and the quiet cheerfulness with which she bid them good night. Watched her breath turn to mist as it left her nose, and thought about what it would be like to ensure that each breath was her last.

His black cloak made him part of the shadow as he stalked Mia across town, weaving his way between buildings, unseen by all.

Before he knew it, he had followed Mia all the way home.

~ ~ ~

The Sanctum building had long been buried under a hill of snow that had gathered over the years, a shield of white that the villagers had long ago tired of trying to remove. Mia had assured the villagers that she didn't mind the snow, that she would be able to keep the door clear as well as one of the rear windows, and that this was enough for her. She had never been one for unnecessary comforts, and the building had all that it needed to serve as a proper healer’s Sanctum.

Casting one last look along the street to ensure that there were no late patients on their way, the young Mercury adept retreated inside for the night. She did not lock the doors behind her, as always. It was common knowledge that Mia would never refuse to see patients, no matter the hour, no matter how tired she was. She was simply too kind-hearted to turn away someone in need of help.

Yet she had no trouble murdering Saturos and Menardi, Devori reminded himself as he crept around to the rear of the Sanctum. He could not allow himself to be blinded by the girl’s seemingly gentle nature, as the townsfolk had.

He had to remember what she was, and what she had done... and what he needed to do.

Pulling the hood of his black cloak over his head to better conceal himself against the darkening sky, he took up position behind a cluster of rocks that poked up from beneath the snow. Not only did they provide him with a hiding place, but they also gave him an excellent view of the Sanctum’s rear window.

Devori settled in to wait and to watch. Know her habits, he told himself, and he would know her weaknesses. A thrill ran through his body as he realized how close he was coming to actually taking action against the foul girl. Was he really planning on doing this? Was it worth killing the only cleric the village had, just to seek revenge? Was it worth pitting his will against the will of the elders and the majority of the town?

The window, once dark, began to glow brightly in orange, revealing to Devori the rear chambers of the Sanctum. These were the old cleric’s private quarters, now Mia’s own. They seemed normal enough to his eye; a bed, a dresser, pictures of landscapes hanging on the wall, just the sort of things any Proxian would have in their home. Ordinary. What had he expected, he wondered as Mia came into view, setting her candlestick down on the dresser? Something to mark her as an evil, scheming witch?

Mia turned away from the window, exposing her back. Excitement grew within Devori. She was alone and as vulnerable as she would ever be, short of attacking her in her sleep, and that was no option for the vengeful Devori. No, he wanted her to know who had killed her, and either way she was weak enough for him to handle. Her psynergy was far weaker without her djinn to augment them; the small blue creatures had gone back to Angara with Isaac’s troupe, leaving Mia more defenseless than she had been since the start of her journey. Devori’s powers, on the other hand, were all his own. He knew that he could win in a fight against the cleric. She would be easy prey.

It was at that moment that Mia began to undress.

Devori’s breath caught in his throat as the oblivious girl pulled off her boots and socks, then unclasped her heavy cloak and set it down upon her bed. The Proxian knew that he shouldn’t be here, that this was a far greater trespass than simply following Mia home, but he found himself unable to tear his eyes away from the captivating sight of his hated enemy disrobing before him.

The healer reached down to grasp the hem of her patterned healer’s robe and drew the garment upwards over her body, tugging it over her head before adding it to the growing pile of clothing on her bed. Beneath it she wore little; a pale yellow bra to cup her modest breasts and a matching pair of panties to shield her intimate areas. Such skimpy attire seemed ridiculous in the frozen northern village, but in the same way that Devori’s affinity with fire protected him from the cold, so too did Mia’s affinity with water. She was in no hurry to find warmth.

Most of the unsuspecting girl’s flesh was now exposed to Devori’s eyes; her slender legs, her shapely hips, the arch of her back as she reached up to remove the ribbon from her hair. Desire of a different kind raced through Devori’s body as he found himself noticing for the first time just how attractive Mia was. She was an outsider and a murderer, but damn him if she wasn’t beautiful.

No... no. This wasn’t right. It was wrong. Disgusting. Shameful. How could he even think of harboring such thoughts for the girl who had murdered his idol? He fought to suppress the feelings fluttering through his chest and his loins. He should leave, before his lust overcame him and he did something that he would regret. If he touched her, he would be exiled from the village by his ungrateful kin. He had to control himself.

Mia slipped her hands behind her back, seeking the clasp to her bra... and stepped out of sight.

Snapping to his senses, Devori closed his eyes and sank below the rocks protruding from the snow. What had come over him? The girl was attractive, that was now undeniable, but why should that trouble him? He hated her with all that he was. Her appearance was irrelevant. She had to die.

But... did she have to die right away?

A plan began to form in his mind. No, there was no need to kill her outright. She deserved to suffer for more than a few brief moments, and if he could make certain that nobody would implicate him in her death, he need not fear reprisals from the elder and his idiotic followers. He had a duty to take revenge, and the sooner he did, the sooner the souls of the dead could rest.

The Proxian warrior slipped away into the night. He had work to do.

~ ~ ~

Over an hour had passed since Devori had last set foot on the Sanctum grounds, but candlelight still illuminated the room at the rear of the building when he returned to his position behind the rock outcropping near the window. Mia was still awake.

Good.

The memories of Mia’s half-naked body were burned into his thoughts. He remembered every detail; her form, her movements, her beauty as bright as the lighthouse beacon, and he wanted her... but at the same time, he loathed himself for even thinking such things about the Imilian girl. Her crimes had not been erased from her past simply because she took her clothes off. She had still killed Saturos and his brave comrades, and she had still not been punished.

His hand brushed against the satchel he now carried, reassuring himself of the contents. Yes, with this he could ensure that she paid dearly for what she had done. He could make her his.

~ ~ ~

Dressed for bed and very tired, Mia knew that she could not allow herself to sleep.

Rather than take her needed rest, the quiet young cleric was hunched over her writing table, scribbling in a leatherbound tome. It was her record book, in which she inscribed the names of everybody in the village that she had healed and the details of their ailments and treatments. Much of what she healed was treatable by her Mercury psynergy, of course, but not everything was so easy. Broken bones were becoming more and more common with the increase in earthquakes, and some of the more savage monsters could inflict horribly dire woulds that required more aid than her psynergy could provide. One day perhaps it would be strong enough to cure any ill, but with her djinn gone back to Angara she would have to acquire those powers the hard way; by training them.

In truth, however, the book was not just for record-keeping. Reading it made Mia feel better about herself and reminded her that she truly did make a difference to the lives of the people of Prox. There was a reason for her to stay. She still missed her home and her friends, but she was becoming used to her life here, and the thought of leaving was a little more distant with every passing day.

Pushing aside her weariness, Mia dipped her feather quill in her inkpot and began to write the next entry. There was much to report. Several illnesses, but only a single injury today. That was reassuring. Perhaps the earthquakes were starting to ease...

Crunch.

Mia’s head snapped up at the sound of a foot crushing snow. Something was outside her window.

Normally, she was unconcerned with leaving it open at night. The Proxians tended to leave her be after sundown unless there was an emergency, conscious of how much she did for them during the day. They also maintained excellent patrols around the village outskirts, so it was unlikely to be a monster. Had one slipped through their guard?

Readying her psynergy just in case, Mia rose from her rickety chair and began to move toward the window. Her heart pounded in anticipation, though she tried to tell herself that it was nothing serious. Perhaps it was a passing animal, or snow falling from the Sanctum roof.

When she reached the window, she froze.

The black-cloaked Devori stared back at her, mere inches away.

All of a sudden, her thin white nightdress felt like inadequate protection. She took a step backward, trying to form a coherent sentence in her head. Why was he here?Why didn’t he use the door? “U-um...”

The predatory smile that slowly manifested on Devori’s lips told her all she needed to know. This was not a social visit. “P-please leave,” she stammered, though there was less authority in her voice than fear. Here in her bedchamber, dressed only in her nightgown, her normally ribbon-bound teal locks hanging loose about her small frame, she was hardly the image of the village’s wise and dignified healer. “If you wish to speak with me, return in the morning and-”

Devori raised his hand in response, silencing her protests, but quieting her was not his aim. Mia felt psynergy beginning to coalesce and prepared to defend herself, anticipating a barrage of flame. It was what Saturos or Menardi would have cast in her direction, and she would be ready with an icy counterattack...

The fiery onslaught she had expected did not come. Instead, twinkles of light surrounded her for a moment, and the psynergy that she had been preparing slipped from her mind.

As the light faded, Mia stepped backward once again and began again, calling on more of her psynergy... and receiving no response. Something was blocking her powers. She had felt this sensation before, she remembered as fear began to swell in her chest; some monsters had been able to bind another’s psynergy with their own for a time, sealing it away, and some of her companions had been able to use this power as well over time. Neither of her Mars adept friends had ever been capable of it, though.

His yellowed grin widening further, Devori climbed through the window and into her room. The reddish tint of his skin and the molten orange of his eyes made Mia’s heart lurch; while she knew this coloration was common for Proxians, his appearance was far too similar to the demons and devils she had been raised to fear as a priestess of Imil. It was true that the creatures in her books had borne talons and wings and tails, and that Devori had none of these things... but that hadn’t stopped him invading her room and sealing her psynergy.

“What do you want?” she demanded, her eyes flicking about the room in search of her staff. It was the only means of defense she had left until the psynergy binding expired, but she didn’t see it anywhere. Curse it, she had left it in the Sanctum proper! There was no hope of reaching it now, not with Devori standing between her and the door...

“Justice.” Devori’s eyes reflected hatred warring with malicious glee. “You are a murderer, and you have gone unpunished for far too long. If the Elder will not do what should have been done years ago, then the task of avenging Saturos’ memory falls to me.”

His hand dropped to his belt, and rose again with a hunting knife. The jagged blade, a foot long, glinted in the candlelight. “Down on your knees, Mia of Imil.”

Mia swallowed, suddenly very cold, staring at the knife through wide blue eyes. “I-I’m not going to lie down and let you kill me. Prox needs me. You know that. You... you know what the Elder would do to do if you...”

Devori took another step towards her. Mia was now out of places to run; she was now cut off from the door and the window, and there wewre no other exit. “I do not intend to kill you, and I did not ask you to lie down. Kneel. Now.” He raised the blade and pointed it towards her. “Or perhaps I will kill you.”

He was serious, and Mia was powerless to stop him without her psynergy or her staff. Knowing when she was beaten, Mia obeyed his command, kneeling on the hard wooden floor as if she were in prayer and staring up at Devori, trying to judge his intentions towards her. If he did not want to kill her, then...?

His next order thrust a spike of terror into her heart.

“Turn around, and bring your hands behind your back.”

She wanted to refuse, but there was no other option open to her. He had a knife and his Mars psynergy, and she had nothing. The seal on her abilities showed no sign of fading. Despite her brain telling her not to turn her back on the intruder, she slowly began to shift, remaining on her knees and turning herself around with her hands. When she had finished and was facing away from him, she placed her hands behind her back as he had demanded.

The sound of rustling fabric and rattling metal met her ears, but she dared not turn her head back to see what was going on, afraid that he would retaliate. Instead she waited in silence, waiting for her psynergy seal to dissolve and wondering what he was going to do to her in the meantime. She had a nagging suspicion of what was coming.

Her suspicion was quickly proven true as Devori seized hold of her wrists and yanked them further behind her back, making Mia gasp in pain as her shoulders protested. Ignoring her cry, Devori forced her arms to bend behind her, pressing her forearms together horizontally across her back, elbows to wrists. A moment later she felt what she had feared most; the touch of coarse rope against her skin, slipping around her arms and binding them together. He coiled the rope around them four times before he was satisfied, cinching it between her arms before Mia could take advantage of the slack and tying the knot out of reach of her fingers.

She tested her bonds as he returned to his equipment, seeking a weakness but failing to find one. Her arms could not be moved independently anymore, and that made them completely useless. There was no hope of reaching the knots; she couldn’t even see them from here, with her arms secured behind her at this uncomfortable angle.

More rattling and shuffling from behind her. This time Mia could not resist taking a peek, and she turned her head just enough to glimpse Devori crouched on the floor, rifling through the satchel that he had brought with him. Unable to see any of the bag’s contents, she turned back around before he could catch her looking.

A few moments later, Devori had finished with his satchel and returned to the still-kneeling Mia. The Proxian growled another order. “Turn back to me.”

This time there was no hesitation, though her task was made more awkward by the binding of her hands. When she completed this latest command she found herself face to face with Devori once again, his warm, reeking breath crashing against her face as he leaned over her.

“Open your mouth,” he snapped, no pity to be found on his scaled features.

Mia flinched as she noticed what he held in his hand; a thick white cloth, stained with greys and browns, wadded into a ball as wide as his fist. Was that supposed to go in her mouth? She stared at it in dismay, her stomach churning. Even if she were gagged as well as bound she would be free to use her psynergy once the seal was gone, but she still didn’t want...

“Open. Now.” Devori was growing impatient, his clawed fingers clenching around the dirty rag. Not wishing to chance the consequences of angering him further, Mia forced down a wave of nausea and let her mouth slide open to accept the disgusting cloth.

Not wide enough for Devori, however. His hand darted to her mouth, his thumb and forefinger flitting inside, and forced her jaw to open further. Mia’s cry of pained displeasure was stifled as he crammed the ball of cloth into her mouth with his free hand, making sure it was packed inside as far as it would go before releasing her.

The wadded fabric completely filled the healer’s mouth, preventing her from closing it and holding down her tongue, For a moment she feared that he had placed too great a strain upon her delicate jaw; it was taking time to adjust to the sensation of rough cloth scraping against the roof of her mouth, not to mention the taste of dirt and other substances she cared not to identify...

Before she knew it, Devori was forcing a white scarf between her teeth to hold the cloth inside, yanking the ends behind her head and tying them in a fiercely tight knot. Mia whimpered as the scarf gouged into the corners of her lips, tears beginning to trickle from her eyes. It was intensely uncomfortable and the indignity of it was shameful. She lowered her head as her saliva began to soak into the rag, trying to move her tongue beneath the foul-tasting cloth.

If only Isaac were here.

~ ~ ~

Devori paused, allowing himself to enjoy the sight of the priestess subdued before him.

He took pleasure in seeing her tears, in the way her arms were tied so tightly behind her back, in the cruel gag preventing her from speaking. Her nightgown was far less revealing than her underwear had been, covering her body from neck to knee, but her helplessness and misery only made her more beautiful to him than ever. He had been among humans for several years, from the time Felix and his parents were brought to the village as ‘guests’, but he had never imagined that their kind could be... attractive to him.

He had not lost sight of her murderous past, despite her angelic features and the tempting curves that lay just beneath her nightdress. She would still be punished, just in a different way to what he had originally desired.

Again he reached into his satchel, filled with survival gear that he had packed for his training out in the frozen wilds. He had always carried it, aware that an earthquake could strike or a monster could attack at any moment, but now he was putting his gear to the best use he ever had.

Rising from his crouch, he lifted a thick black scarf towards Mia’s face, loving the fear in her glimmering eyes. She was terrified of him, and he had yet to reveal the very best part...

~ ~ ~

Mia cringed as the new scarf was wrapped over her eyes, plunging her into darkness.

The cloth was far too thick to see through, the knot behind her head much too tight to budge. A sob escaped her, muffled by her gag but still audible to both of them. Being unable to see Devori was frightening all on its own, for she now had no way to perceive just what he was going to do to her next. He could be pulling anything out of that satchel of his. There was no way that he was going to risk so much in entering her private chambers just to tie her up...

She could hear his dark chuckle as he sifted through his bag, seeking something else. He hadn’t laughed before, even once. Perhaps it was for her benefit, to unsettle her even more now that she was blind.

It was working.

He gave her no further orders; there was no longer any point. Mia was no longer capable of following them, nor of resisting them in any way. Rather than waste his time, he simply set to work, dropping to his knees behind her. She braced herself, knowing that whatever he was up to, she was not going to like it.

The next sensation she felt was of more rope being looped around her body, this time wrapped around her chest just beneath her bosom, pinning her upper arms to her sides. She winced as the loop was drawn tight, the rough weave biting into her ribs and, to her embarrassment, lifting up her breasts. The lower hem of her nightdress was drawn up to her thighs as the fabric of her bodice bunched around the rope, and Mia blushed as more of her body was revealed to him.

Devori barely restrained himself from telling her just how much more of her flesh he had seen.

A second loop of the rope was made around her torso, this time passing over her breasts and tightened as well. Caught between the two coils, her mounds were forced to jut outward by the pressure from above and below, a whorish humiliation that shamed the modest healer. She felt them pressing against her bodice, straining against the simple fabric, now more sensitive than ever before. New feelings flooded through her, completely unfamiliar to the chaste young woman, but it was not difficult for even she to guess what they were. Was he doing this to her on purpose?

Did he intend to rape her?

No, no, no. She was a cleric, a priestess. No man had ever touched her.

She closed her eyes behind the blindfold as panic threatened to overwhelm her.

~ ~ ~

Her knees and ankles did not remain unbound for long. Devori had more than enough rope to tie them together so tightly that they were rendered inseparable, and it was a task that he relished. With this, she belonged to him. There would be no escape for Mia.

Finally finished, he stood to admire his handiwork.

The sobbing healer lay helpless on her bedroom floor, her arms tied mercilessly behind her back and her legs immobilized to match. Her breasts were on full display, pushed outward by the ropes around her chest, her nipples twin bumps in her over-stretched bodice. Gagged, she could not scream for help. Blindfolded, she could not see a thing. No matter how much she struggled against the tight bonds that held her captive, she would be unable to break them or slip from their grasp.

Devori stared at her for what seemed like hours. It was a delicious sight. Mia was helpless before him, humiliated, unable to call up the merest drop of water, let alone the frigid ice of the most powerful water psynergy. She was not a priestess or an adept, just a girl at his mercy... and a beautiful one at that.

The flames of desire began to tease his loins once again. Such a pretty girl tied up, unable to resist anything he decided to do to her... oh, the fun he could have with her. It was intensely tempting. She deserved no better, after all.

In the end, what he did was not what he truly wanted to do.

One last time, he returned to raid his satchel. This time, when he rose, it was not a rope or a scarf in his red-scaled hands, but something far more sinister. He had stolen it from the dungeons of Prox, a seldom-used relic of the village’s past and a repository of all sorts of interesting devices. He doubted that anyone would miss it, for nobody visited the dark little hole these days; he had considered taking Mia there, but it was far too close to town for his purposes. No, he had visited only to obtain the item he now held...

A metal collar, inscribed with the emblems of the four elements of Alchemy. Fire, wind, earth and water. The device was surprisingly light, a tool created by the ancients before the world’s decline, but it still served the same purpose that it always had. Any who wore the collar would find themselves unable to use psynergy, no matter how powerful an Adept they were before their collaring. Devori would have no need to continually recast his sealing spell to keep her abilities bound.

He smiled at Mia’s piteous wail as the collar snapped shut around her throat. She had sensed what it had done to her in an instant.

Secreting the key in the pocket of his trousers, he buttoned up his satchel and slid it back over his shoulder. Then, he stooped to the floor and picked up the weakly struggling Mia, tossed her over his shoulder and began to stride towards the window through which he had entered the Sanctum.

He was not done with Mia yet. Not by a long shot.

~ ~ ~

The first thing that Mia felt upon her waking was the warmth of a roaring fire.

It was not a fire that she had lit, she realized as she clawed her way out of her sleep-daze. She never did, for she did not feel the cold as most people did; being a Water Adept made her a lot less sensitive to the freezing temperatures of Prox than most other humans. On the other hand, heat such as this had always made her uncomfortable, especially as she had spent most of her life in two very cold towns. Her skin was already drenched in sweat. So why...?

She tried to rise from her bed to investigate... but quickly discovered that she was not in her bed, nor could she move. Or see, for that matter. Her arms were lashed behind her with ropes, her legs bound tightly together and her eyes covered with heavy cloth. Her immediate reaction was panic, but her screams got her nowhere. She was gagged as well, her jaw aching from being stuffed with more cloth, stifling her voice and rendering any speech incomprehensible.

Silenced, blinded and immobile. Absolutely powerless.

Groaning in defeat, Mia sagged back to the hard wooden floor and tried to piece together her memories. She remembered going to the window in her bedchambers, and Devori had been there... he had subdued her, sealed her psynergy, tied her up. Then he had taken her from her room, out into the frigid night... and somewhere along the way, she had lost consciousness.

The feel of metal around her throat reminded her of the collar he had placed there, locking it in place. She had been able to sense her reserves of psynergy while under his sealing spell, just unable to access them, but the moment the collar had closed about her neck, they had been gone. Extinguished.

Until the horrid device was removed from her person, she would be unable to use psynergy... and unlike Devori’s spell, this would not expire on its own.

More than anything, as she struggled wildly against her bonds, she wished that she could see her surroundings. The cloth tied over her eyes made it impossible to discern just where she had been taken, nor whether Devori was present. For all she knew he could be standing nearby, watching her thrashing in her ropes...

~ ~ ~

Devori lounged in his stiff wooden chair, watching her squirm from across the room.

It was a breathtaking sight, watching Mia struggling helplessly, unable to see or speak or move, her body exposed to him in a way she would never have chosen. The skirt of her nightgown had slowly hiked to her hips, providing a shameful view of her pale yellow panties and the curves that lay beneath the close-fitting undergarment. Her breasts were still as good as exposed, forced to press against her bodice by the ropes that bound her chest. So much for the chaste little priestess.

His hated enemy now belonged to him.

After leaving the Sanctum, he had taken his prisoner to a deserted shack almost an hour’s travel from Prox. He had used it for shelter in the past, while away from the village for hunting, and he was certain that nobody else in the village was aware of its existence. It had only two rooms but it was very well built, protecting him from the elements and monsters alike while he stayed within its walls.

Another high point was the presence of a sturdy stone fireplace.

Devori cared not for the cold. He was used to the chilly climate of Prox, and like all of his kind he had slowly grown more resistant to the low temperatures as he aged and the Mars psynergy within him grew stronger. For such a man, there was only one reason to light a fire in the fireplace and feed it wood to keep it burning; because he knew that the heat would make Mia, a Water Adept, uncomfortable. It was working, he noticed as he returned his gaze to the now-still healer. Her skin was coated in sweat, the perspiration beginning to soak into her nightdress...

He looked away once more, ashamed of himself and his lusts. He had not succumbed to temptation, allowing her to keep her clothing rather than strip her while she slept, finding the tiny scraps of modesty he allowed her to be more pleasing. Both of them knew that he could revoke this privilege at any time he pleased, after all... but a part of the reason he had not yet done so was his disgust at his body’s reaction to her own. It galled him to be so drawn to the blue-haired healer, after all that she had wrought.

He consoled himself by letting his eyes wander to her throat, where the collar remained locked in place. It suited her, he had to admit. It was only right for a slave to have a collar.

~ ~ ~

Mia gave up her struggles, exhausted and demoralized from minutes of fruitless thrashing. The heat of the fire was starting to get to her.

She had tried to control her fear, but it was a losing battle. After all, she was completely helpless with her psynergy blocked and her body bound in ropes, and here she was in the clutches of a man who hated her for very good reasons. There was nobody who could help her, either; the other Proxians would notice her absence come the next morning - was it morning yet, she wondered? - but they would not know where she had been taken, or even if she had been abducted against her will. Isaac and Piers and the rest of her friends were a world away, unable to aid her or even know that she was missing.

Then there was her state of undress to worry about, a situation she was keenly aware of despite her blindness. She could feel the warm air teasing the skin of her thighs and hips, and she knew how exposed she was. Why would he keep her like this? Was it just to humiliate her... or did he intend something else? The possibilities terrified her. No man had ever seen her in such a compromising state, none had ever touched her in intimate ways. She was a priestess, to be treated only with respect and kindness, as she treated all others...

The sound of another’s harsh breathing snapped her out of her thoughts.

“Dhhfrry.” She murmured his name, but her voice was muffled and distorted by the dirty cloth filling her mouth. She hoped that he had understood.

She heard the sound of boots on floorboards, and then he was beside her. A rough hand yanked the scarf out of her mouth, then tore out the wadded cloth that had silenced her as he spoke in a familiar growl. “Mia.”

How she would loved to have rubbed her jaw to soothe away the soreness. Unable to do so with her hands still tied behind her back, she settled for stretching her mouth a little, wetting the insides with her tongue. The horrid taste of the cloth wasn’t going to leave in a hurry, but at least her jaw was no longer forced open. “Please untie me,” she whispered, testing out her restored voice.

“No. You have to pay for what you’ve done.” Devori snorted, his rough hand brushing against her cheek. Mia couldn’t see it, but she recoiled from his touch nonetheless. “For the lives you have taken.”

“What... what do you plan to do to me?” She had intended to sound defiant, but her voice betrayed her as the frightened girl that she was. She couldn’t fool him.

“The one thing that will hurt you the most.”

He seized a fistful of her vibrant teal hair and yanked on it painfully, drawing a yelp from the helpless healer. Cringing in pain, Mia took the hint and did not resist him as he straddled her, pressing his body hard against her own. Her blindfolded face was pushed into his chest, her breasts smashed against his ribcage. A large, hard protrusion pressed into her hip, but she tried not to imagine what it was.

“I will make you filthy in the eyes of your gods,” he hissed, an instant before he pressed his lips against hers in a savage, hungry kiss.

~ ~ ~

He smiled into the kiss as she let out a quivering moan. The sweet taste of the Imlian girl was intoxicating, a flavor that his tongue pursued to the deepest recesses of her mouth.

Eventually the need for breath won out, and he reluctantly pulled away from her, releasing her lips from his. Immediately Mia began to cough and splutter, desperately seeking to rid herself of his own taste.

His molten eyes narrowed at this rejection. Perhaps it was time to move to the next matter at hand.

Reaching down once again, he seized her bound forearms and hauled her to her feet. With her legs still tied together at ankle and knee, she was still incapable of walking on her own, but Devori did not require her to. He simply dragged her to their destination, her heels chafing against the floorboards, frightened little gasps flitting from her mouth.

The blindfolded healer was unable to see it, but close by the fireplace stood a crude wooden frame, consisting of one large horizontal log held in the air at Mia’s shoulder height by a pair of smaller logs at each end, the entire union lashed together with ropes. It was normally used to hang animal skins to dry out, and it was more than sturdy enough for his own purposes.

Keeping hold of her arms with one hand, he unsheathed the jagged knife from his belt with the other. “I am going to untie your hands now,” he informed Mia, no emotion in his voice. “If you resist me, I will slit your throat and leave you here to rot. If you co-operate, you may live to see your friends again someday.”

Though she was no longer gagged, Mia only nodded in response.

Satisfied that she would continue to be obedient, and knowing that her collar would prevent her from using her psynergy, Devori turned her to face away from him and began to cut away the ropes that bound her arms behind her back.

~ ~ ~

Mia privately rejoiced as her bonds were severed, and she wasted no time in stretching her arms as Devori cut away the bindings that had been wrapped around her breasts. He left her legs tied together at ankle and knee, but it was impossible to dent her relief at being able to finally relax her aching shoulders. The termination of the pressure constricting her bosom was a welcome reprieve as well.

The young Adept raised a hand to shift her blindfold, but her wrists was intercepted by a scaled hand. “The blindfold stays on,” Devori warned. “Now hold still.”

Resigning herself to her blindness, Mia knew that she had no real choice. She allowed him to seize her left arm and stretch it wide, pressing its length along the horizontal log that was the centerpiece of the wooden frame, and in moments she felt the first coils of rope sliding around her wrist. Her captor worked quickly, binding Mia’s arm to the frame at wrist and elbow, forcing her to keep her limb outstretched from her body, unable to shift or to bend. When he was done, he repeated the process on her right side, wrapping rope around her arm and the log to bind them inseparably together.

Held upright against the frame, her arms stretched to her limits, Mia was immobilized once again. This angle was only slightly more gentle on her arms than her previous bindings had been, and she knew that the sensation of straining muscles would soon begin anew. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, though she expected no mercy. “I didn’t mean to kill Saturos. He... he fell into the beacon... I couldn’t do anything...”

“He fell into the beacon because of you and your friends.” Devori’s voice deceptively softened as he cupped her cheek in his palm. “I am going to make you pay for your actions. I will make you renounce your faith and your gods.”

“No. You won’t.” There was defiance in Mia’s soft voice despite her fear, her helplessness. “Never.”

Devori shrugged, a sadistic smile creeping across his reptilian face. Of course, Mia could see neither. “Perhaps,” he murmured, “or perhaps not. Either way, I will make you scream.”

~ ~ ~

As he watched Mia struggle against the ropes binding her to the drying frame’s bar, Devori attempted to control his feelings for the Imilian girl.

He could not deny that he found her attractive. Her skirt had now fallen to cover what it should, but her body was still on display for him, her contours visible beneath her sweat-damp nightdress. Her turquoise hair flowed freely about her shoulders, her neat ponytail a distant memory. Her pretty little face was still half-covered by the thick scarf tied over her eyes, her cheeks damp with tears that had seeped from beneath the blindfold. Seeing Mia so completely at his mercy like this was deeply arousing, and with every passing minute his burning want for her grew.

However...

She was the enemy. The killer of four brave Proxian warriors, men and women much like Devori himself. The caring church girl was merely a facade, a sordid trick that had fooled the rest of the villagers. It disgusted him to think that he could be attracted to such a vile little creature, his body deceived much like the townspeople’s minds, and with every shred of his willpower he fought the urge to strip her naked and have his way with her.

Such a coupling would be an outrage. It would taint him in the eyes of his ancestors. The dead did not want him to force himself on Mia. He could sense their powerful anger, and what they wanted was nothing less than revenge.

He would give it to them.

~ ~ ~

The darkness was becoming unbearable.

Her only chance to remove her blindfold had been lost to her when she had allowed Devori to bind her arms once again, and she now rued her frightened submission. The knowledge that he was near, that he was going to hurt her was stomach-churning enough without being able to see what he was going to do before it happened. She was no longer gagged, but she would have preferred to keep the stifling cloth wadded inside of her mouth if it meant losing the blindfold instead...

“Mia of Imil.” Devori’s gravelly voice met her ears, and she jerked her head in the direction from which it had originated. She could feel that he was close, even if she could not see him. “You will cast away your vows to your gods,” he continued, only drawing nearer to her. “You will renounce your faith. Speak now, or suffer.”

Only silence followed his demand. Mia lowered her head, bracing herself in anticipation of what was to come. She would not give him what he wanted, for her dignity as a priestess was as precious to her as life itself. She could not recant her faith and damn her soul to hell, and she knew that any other words, any pleas for mercy, would fall on deaf ears.

After a few moments, Devori released a heavy sigh. She felt his scaled hand on her shoulder, the rough-edged hide rubbing hard against her soft skin, and swallowed heavily. His rancid breath erupted over her face, leaving her struggling for air as his scent entered her nose and mouth. So close to him, bound tightly to the drying frame, there was no way to escape the sickening smell.

His claw traced her collarbone down to her chest and paused for a long moment, not quite hard enough to break the skin but enough to scare Mia further. She was trying to hold her nerve, but he could see her lower lip trembling. She was deathly afraid, and she was right to be.

He seized the shoulders of her nightdress and tore the flimsy garment from her body, the sweat-drenched fabric ripping like tissue paper before his might.

Mia let out a choking sob as the gown was shredded to ruins around her. Fire-warmed air caressed the curves of her newly exposed body, leaving no doubt as to just how much of her was now uncovered. Her breasts hung free, now completely bare, and her face bloomed scarlet from her overpowering shame. All she had to protect her modesty now were her brief, thin panties. The keen awareness of her near nudity was mortifying; her body was something that she had always kept private, as a good priestess should, but now she could not even move her limbs to cover herself. She was vulnerable as she had ever been before, and it terrified her.

“Please,” she gasped, knowing that it would do no good. “Please let me...”

Her words gave way to a heated moan as a scaly hand clamped over her breast, squeezing and groping her delicate flesh. His thumb rolled across her nipple, teasing the rosy little nub into vigilance, and her moan became a whimpering wail as the sense of violation washed over her. He wasn’t supposed to touch her there, and it hurt... but his calculated manipulations sent warm little jolts through her body, a feeling that she could not deny was somewhat pleasant...

No, no, no! I can’t let him do this to me! Why am I... why is this... exciting me? Her eyes slid closed behind her blindfold as her body continued to respond to his stimulation. Gentle warmth flooded through her, most intense between her legs, in her most private place. She knew that it was sinful to even think of enjoying this, her guilt increasing with every unwanted caress, but she was powerless to stop him. There was nothing that she could do but ride out his attentions.

~ ~ ~

Devori smiled coldly as he fondled the helpless cleric, watching her cheeks flush and her breathing hasten from her mounting arousal.

He briefly considered removing her blindfold, curious to see the emotions flashing through her eyes as he forced her to endure sensations forbidden by her faith, but in the end he resisted, leaving the scarf in place over her eyes. It was much more amusing to leave her blind and wondering what was coming next.

She was gasping now, her sweat-coated body shuddering under his touch as he switched to her other breast, kneading and molding her flesh, flicking her dormant nipple. Even the faithful little healer could not resist the lure of her animalistic instincts. Her breasts loved his touch, even if she did not. He could keep pushing her, remove her scanty underwear and drive her all the way to climax if he chose, and the idea of seeing the shame on her face was almost delightful enough to sway him from his course.

But no. He must not let himself get too carried away. As enjoyable as tormenting her in this way had become, he had a different goal in mind. Enjoying the feel of her soft, pliant breast for a few moments more, he withdrew his hand from her body and took a step back from her.

Mia let out a trembling breath, slumping against her bonds as the sensations that had plagued her eased, becoming uncomfortable memories. Her breathing was still faster than normal, and Devori knew that the intimate contact had deeply affected her. All as planned...

He had stimulated her body, heightened her senses. Now it was time for her to suffer.

~ ~ ~

Mia sagged as her evil captor relented, distraught little moans slipping from her throat. If not for the support of frame her arms had been bound to, she would have fallen to the floor.

Her body’s fervid reaction to his touch disgusted her, and it had happened so quickly. She was supposed to be a priestess, above such temptations, pure in all things, yet all it had taken was a few prods and pokes from a man she hated to make her body ache with need. Her mind had been a fortress of resistance, but her body had given in so easily, still tingling with desire even now.

Devori had stepped away, but she felt no relief at his absence. She could still hear the coarse rhythm of his breathing nearby, and she knew that he would not be satisfied until he had broken her. He wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was she.

His rough hands seized her breasts again, both of them this time. She let out a surprised mewl, cringing as his clawed fingers bored into her flesh. They did not draw blood, they were not sharp enough for that, but this time there was a new and even less pleasant sensation...

His palms, once as cold as any reptile’s, were now very warm, and growing warmer by the second.

Mars Adept. He’s a Mars Adept. She had known that Devori possessed powers over flame, just as she had once controlled water, but she had forgotten this trait in her distress. The heat in his hands was throbbing, pulsing, unnatural. He was using his psynergy to fill his hands with fire, and they retained a vice grip on her breasts even now...

It fast became unbearable, and her muttered prayers did nothing to alleviate the pain. His hands were now blazing hot, as if they were made of flame themselves. His fingers were tendrils of fire scorching into her skin, his blazing palms searing breasts already rendered sensitive by his touch. Even now the contact bothered her in more ways than one; her body registered both pleasure and agony, and it was driving her mad. She turned her head skyward and screamed as she had never screamed before.

And then, it stopped.

The pain faded away as Devori released her mounds, and again Mia slumped against the ropes, gasping for breath and reeling from her ordeal. Despite the intensity of the heat that had moments ago seemed to burn her, it seemed that she was free of any permanent damage, her breasts were unmarred... but the pain had been real. It had left her utterly drained, her body soaked with sweat despite the freezing temperatures outside the shack that had become her prison.

His hand caressed her cheek once again, an almost convincing display of tenderness. “Renounce your faith and your gods,” he repeated, his lips hovering by her ear. “You can end this with one simple sentence. Why will your beloved gods not help their pious daughter in her hour of need, I ask you? They have abandoned you, sweet Mia, and it is time for you to abandon them in kind.”

“No. No.” Mia’s voice quavered in fear, bitter tears leaking into her blindfold as she spoke, but still she held firm against his demands. She could not let him shake her convictions, whether by words or by torture. She had devoted her life to the church, praying to the gods for the villagers’ safety and healing the sick in their hallowed name. She could not abandon that now just to save herself from fleeting pain.

Devori chuckled, though she could not tell if he was truly amused. “Brave girl. I would expect no less from one of the heroes who saved us all.” This was spoken in a sneer, dispelling her hopes that he might have genuinely admired her resistance. “But you will break eventually, Mia. You are only delaying the inevitable.”

Mia braved herself for his next assault, and she was not disappointed. The Proxian’s hand slid down her form, halting as they reached the hem of her panties, and slipped around to cup her buttocks. A cruel squeeze followed, sending an unwelcome thrill through her body as his palms began to burn with his blazing psynergy...

~ ~ ~

No part of her body was safe from his agonizing touch.

Devori’s scaled hands roamed all over her body, squeezing and prodding, bringing with them wave after wave of fiery pain. On and on it went, a ceaseless nightmare. One moment her thighs were aflame, then her face, then her breasts once again, his first and favorite target. Still blindfolded, Mia was left to guess where he would hurt her next, a game that was already fraying her nerves to nothing. Devori took full advantage of her sensory deprivation, sometimes teasing her with an unheated touch, sometimes searing her for only a moment before pulling away, but there was no end in sight. He toyed with her, but he showed little mercy.

A familiar demand, a stubborn refusal, and she felt the kiss of flame across her back.

An impatient demand, a tearful refusal, and raging fire eclipsed the soles of her feet.

A furious demand, an agonized refusal, and pain consumed her most private place, his coarse palm rubbing against the thin fabric between her legs.

Blinded, bound and tormented at random, her mind began to betray her. Her world became a haze of hurt and violation from which she could only break free by damning herself. At first he demanded that she recant her beliefs after every minute of torture, then every two minutes, then every three, plunging her back into the throes of suffering each time she refused. Eventually, however, he lost himself to his frustration at her resilience and his enjoyment of his screams. His movements became more frenzied, more savage, and he ceased his demands entirely. His energy was entirely devoted to hurting the helpless cleric as much as he possibly could and with the power of Mars at his beck and call, he could hurt her a lot.

This is what I was born to do. To mete out justice to the enemies of our clan. To make them suffer for their crimes. To make HER suffer.

The rage he had kept pent up over the last three years was finally released upon the girl responsible for it all, and there was nothing that she could do to save herself from his wrath. Blindfolded, it was impossible to predict where he would strike next. Bound, she could not evade him. All she could do was wait, endure and scream.

All the while, Devori drank in her tears and her cries of pain. To him, her agony was the most beautiful thing in the world.

So much enjoyment did he take from her suffering that he failed to notice her cries of pain dulling into lethargic moans, the way her valiant struggles against her bonds had been reduced to listless writhing. He gleefully absorbed the whispered pleas on her lips and continued his assault until he finally realized that he was no longer garnering any response at all.

It had taken almost a full hour of continuous torment, but Mia had finally lost consciousness, spiraling senselessly into her final refuge.

~ ~ ~

Hours passed before Mia dragged herself back to the world of the waking.

The first things she sensed were painfully familiar, and her heart sank as she realized that she had not merely experienced a vivid nightmare. She was still bound in a standing position, tied to the wooden drying frame by her outstretched arms. Her knees and ankles were still tightly bound and she was still as shamefully undressed as before, her modesty shielded only by her panties. The collar still hung about her throat, sealing her psynergy away.

The blindfold, at least, was gone. Her aquamarine eyes fluttered open, taking in her surroundings for the first time since she had been brought here, but the wooden walls revealed little of her location relative to the Sanctum. Devori was nowhere in sight, and he had not gagged her before he left; though she was still bound to the thick frame and there was no greater hope of escape now than before, Mia felt just a little closer to freedom. At times like this, you had to hold on to the little things.

Making the most of her reclaimed sight, she examined her body as best she could from her awkward position. Seeing herself so exposed was mortifying for the demure girl, but she pushed her emotions inside and slipped into the professional, detached manner that a healer must know how to adopt. There were bigger problems at hand than her wounded modesty.

She ached all over from the fervent attentions of Devori’s scaled hands, but there seemed to be no sign of any burned flesh on her body despite the intense heat she had suffered. As much as it hurt, and it had, there was no lasting damage whatsoever. He must have exceptional control of his psynergy, she mused, biting her lip. Not even Jenna or Garet are that skilled.

Her analysis of her state complete, she turned her attentions to escaping. With Devori gone, she would likely never receive a better opportunity, and she couldn’t subject herself to another round of his torture. She was still weak from the last, and she had already screamed herself hoarse. If what he had done to her was inflicted upon her again, she knew that she would not be able to stand it this time... and he could always do worse. No, she had to escape, now.

Her enthusiasm began to falter after only moments as the reality of her situation set in. Even with Devori elsewhere, Mia was still tightly secured to the wretched frame, unable to move, and her psynergy was still sealed away. Her options were limited. She was not gagged, but if calling for help would have any chance of succeeding, surely her screams of torment would have already been heard. Devori was plainly not concerned enough about the possibility to have returned the gag to her mouth. If anybody heard her cries, it would surely be him.

In addition, she had no idea where she was being held, or even what time it was. There were no windows in this room for her to get her bearings, nor any convenient clocks to tell her the hour. The only sound was the steady crackling of lingering flames in the fireplace as they shed their dwindling light on the darkened shack. It could still be the middle of the night, or for all she knew, morning might have arrived...

~ ~ ~

Time wore on, and Devori did not return.

No matter how hard she had strained, Mia had been unable to twist out of the ropes that held her in place, nor could she summon a single drop of water. Even with her kidnapper out of the way, she was completely helpless. So much for one of the eight famous adepts who saved the world, she thought morosely. For all the good her powers had done her when she really needed them, she might as well have been any regular girl.

Her mouth was dry as a desert, an alien sensation to a girl normally able to conjure water out of air to quench her thirst whenever she needed it. With her powers still sealed, she had no choice but the endure the discomfort until Devori returned, and perhaps beyond if he were feeling cruel. More familiar to her was the hunger gnawing at her belly, chastising her for not having eaten since the afternoon before her abduction. She wondered if her Proxian captor meant to feed her, or let her starve.

The door slammed open, and right on cue, Devori stormed into the room.

There was anger in his rust-tinged eyes as he glared at her, but Mia thought that she could see a glimmer of fear as well. What could be worrying him? Were the villagers out looking for her? Again, she dared to hope, though she knew how easily her dreams could be crushed. He had surely hidden her well.

“They saw me,” he spat, as if it were her fault. Yes, he was definitely afraid of something, or more likely someone. The townspeople of Prox could hardly inspire such fear in him, for he was the most powerful warrior in the entire village now. So who could...?

“Who?” she dared to ask, though her voice was a tattered rasp. Her throat burned from lack of water and the toll of her earlier screams.

“Your accursed friends!” Devori snarled as he neared her, grinding his teeth in his jaw, and she flinched as if he had hit her. Fury warred with uncertainty in his voice. “Felix, the Lemurian and the blonde girl. They’re looking all over the village for you. Of all the times they could have chosen to infect this village with their profane presence! The girl kept looking at me. Staring. As if she knew something.”

The hope building within Mia’s heart swelled. Her friends were here! They were coming for her! The blonde girl had to be Sheba, and if she was staring at Devori openly, there was a good chance that she was putting her Jupiter adept talents to use by reading his mind.

Did Devori know that?

Regardless, it seemed that he had no intention of waiting here for them to find him. His hand went to his belt once more, drawing out his knife. Mia cringed, a plea already rising to her lips, but breathed a profound sigh of relief instead as he lowered the silver blade to the ropes binding her left wrist to the wooden beam and began to saw through them. The ropes at her elbow soon followed, her captor completely silent as he cut her free of the frame,

More knots gave way, more rope fell to the floor. Her arm was free at last, though still and ache-ridden and circled by striking red marks where it had been bound. While Devori went to work on liberating her right arm, Mia reached behind her neck with her free hand, searching for a catch on the back of the despicable psynergy-sealing collar.

Her fingers touched only smooth metal.

“You needn’t bother. There is only one way that collar is coming off,” Devori grunted as he severed the third set of ropes. To her dismay, he did not elaborate. “You and I...” he went on as his knife sawed at the fourth and final coils of rope binding her to the frame, “Are going to leave. I know... a place where they will... never find us.”

The last of the ropes fell away, releasing Mia from the frame she had been bound to for so long... and sending her straight to the floor in a heap. Her legs, still tightly tied together, were too weak to support her weight. The frame had been the only thing holding her upright.

She barely felt the impact of her body against the hard wooden floor; it was nothing compared to the torment she had suffered at Devori’s hands. His scornful laughter chased her down as she rubbed her arms to restore feeling to her abused flesh, the act doubling as an opportunity to shield her bared breasts from him. He had seen them already, explored them with his hands, but it made her feel slightly better to hide them. Less of a harlot.

~ ~ ~

Damn it. Damn it. Damn it!

Devori’s rage knew no bounds, boiling inside him like a volcano. He had finally acted on his impulses, had Mia at his mercy for an entire night, delivered her first punishment to her... but he had failed to break her. She had resisted him, her mind and spirit enduring the pain inflicted on her body. He needed more time to shatter her, ruin her in the name of the dead.

Yet fortune had sided against him. How could he have known that Felix and his friends were within a day’s journey of Prox when he had decided to abduct Mia? If he had acted earlier, he would have had all the time in the world with the pretty little healer. If he had only possessed the nerve to strike...

That was not what galled him the most, however. His true failure was his inability to wring one simple sentence from his devout captive, no matter how badly he had hurt her. Mia had won, defying him until her strength gave out, keeping her pride intact despite his best efforts to rip it from her.

She could not hold out forever, but now was not the time to wring defeat from her weary body. Now that Mia knew her friends were looking for her - he cursed himself for informing her - it would be much harder to make her surrender. Regrouping was the only option; he might have been able to defeat Felix man to man, with a little luck, but with the Lemurian and the blonde girl in tow he stood no chance. It was time to abandon the shack, before they found it.

It was time to retreat deeper into the snowfields. Once he had Mia in a safer location, he could take his time with her. Eventually she would say whatever he wanted, do whatever he wanted...

His wandering attention was dragged back to reality by Mia’s grunt of frustration.

Rust-orange eyes narrowed as he realized that the priestess had not been idle while he was daydreaming. She was struggling with the ropes binding her legs, frantically trying to untie the knot nestled behind her ankles. Her progress was almost comically slow, her fingers shaking with fear, but Devori had no time to watch her fumble about.

A growl rising from his throat, he seized Mia’s wrists in his grip and pulled them away from her ankle bonds, tugging them brutally behind her back as he flipped her onto her stomach. Snatching up one of the discarded ropes he had used to bind her to the drying frame, he crossed one wrist over the other and began to lash them together, enjoying her pained gasps as the cord sank into the reddened furrows of her previous restraints. When he was certain that her hands were secure, he forced a still-damp cloth into her mouth and tied it there with a familiar scarf to keep her quiet.

Mia moaned in dismay at being gagged once again but the wadded fabric blotted out her despairing voice. Her joy at learning that Felix was near was fast turning sour. What was her captor going to do to her now?

Devori stooped to collect the tightly bound cleric in his arms, throwing her over his shoulder as he had in the Sanctum and moving for the door. He was carrying her around as if she had no more will or importance than a bag of rocks, reminding her of just how helpless she had become. So much for the brave and powerful healer. Her weakness disgusted her.

~ ~ ~

Still blindfolded as she was, the first clue that Mia received that they were headed outside was the bitter touch of frigid air against her skin.

She thrashed frantically against her bonds as the realization set in, groaning protests into her savagely tied gag. She had lost any delusions that she might free herself, but she wanted her captor’s attention. Clad only in her panties, she was not going to last long on the freezing Proxian snowfields.

Devori growled in response, reinforcing his grip on her struggling body, squeezing her flank out of spite. “What sort of pathetic Mercury adept would complain about the cold? I thought your kind were supposed to be able to endure it.”

That isn’t fair, she tried to say, but the wadded cloth in her mouth put a stop to that, holding down her tongue and muffling the few sounds she could make. She knew that even she could not survive out here for long. The cold was easier on her than most, but she was still weak and very nearly naked. She would succumb before long. Was he trying to kill her?

Staring bleakly into her blindfold, she knew that if that was his aim, she had no means to stop him. She was completely in his power, and if he hid her deep in the snowfields, her friends would never find her.

~ ~ ~

Striding out into the tundra, Devori could think of little else but the healer slung over his shoulder.

As much as he loathed Mia for what she had done, he simply could not deny that in some perverse way he had become attracted to her. His grudging admiration of her stoic endurance during her torture had only reinforced the conflicted feelings flitting about in his chest. Her image was locked within his mind’s eye; the gentle curves of her hips and chest, her pale blue-green hair disheveled and windswept, her beautiful eyes shimmering with tears. It was easy to imagine those eyes staring up at him in adoration, her lips pursed together for him...

Damn it all. He shook himself out of his reverie, laughing scornfully at himself. What was the matter with him? What had he become? He was a warrior, and Mia his enemy. He was supposed to destroy her, not mate with her.

But what was stopping him from doing both? The notion entered his thought, stealing his breath away. She belonged to him now, and he could do with her as he pleased. Who was to tell him he could not make her his wife as well as his prisoner?

The idea pleased him more and more with each passing second. Yes, that was what he would do. Once he had her in a place she would never be found, he would make Mia his in more than just name. It would be a simple matter to claim her, and would satisfy the lust burning within him every time he looked at her, so pretty, so helpless, so tempting...

The earth a foot away from him exploded, spraying the Proxian and his captive with soft snow and jagged gravel.

What...?

Startled from his thoughts, Devori cast his gaze in all directions, his fiery eyes wild. Things like this didn’t just happen. Only an Adept could do such a thing, but it had certainly not been the bound and collared Mia. Earth was not in her purview, nor in his own, so who could have...?

...Felix.

The young warrior strode across the tundra towards them, his green cloak trailing behind him like a storybook hero. The expression on his handsome features spoke of rage and hatred burning within, his unsheathed sword a testament to his intent. The Venus Adept had caught up with him. It would never have happened, Devori cursed to himself, if he had not been carrying Mia. If he had moved at his full speed, covered his tracks...

“Devori.” Felix was closing in with every step. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Heaving a sigh, the Proxian dumped Mia to the snow and turned around, his hand falling to the hilt of his hunting knife. Felix was strong, stronger than he, but he was not invincible, and this time he was on his own. “Mia is mine, Felix. I am taking what the dead are owed. You cannot stop me.”

“The dead are dead, Devori. They’re gone.” Felix came to a halt all too close to him. “You know that we didn’t want to kill Saturos, or Karst, or the rest of them. We regret their deaths, but we did what had to be done. Don’t punish Mia for that.”

Devori’s hand tightened about his knife. “You always hated him. I know you did. The sheep in the village cannot see you for what you are, even though you lived among us for so long... but I can. I can see throughall of you, and one day I will punish you all. An act I have already...” His eyes momentarily dropped to the bound form of Mia, near naked and shivering in the snow. ”Started.”

Felix went rigid; his eyes flicked to Mia, widening as for the first time he truly registered her state of undress. "What did you do to her."

Devori’s mouth opened to deliver a gleeful reply, but the taunt died in his throat as a girl’s voice cut through the air, calling the Venus Adept’s name. The Proxian snarled as he spotted the blonde girl from earlier approaching from the same direction as Felix had come from, accompanied by the blue-crowned Lemurian sailor. Two more Adepts. The slim chance he had of overcoming Felix evaporated. He could not handle two of them, let alone three...

“Sheba, Piers! Hurry!” Felix waved the duo over, voice urgent. “I need your help - ugh!”

The green-cloaked Adept was hurled back into the snow, knocking the wind from him. Devori grinned in triumph. Sometimes the simplest psynergies were the best, though it would not have worked had Felix been paying attention. Now was his chance to...

...To do what? He was not going to escape with Mia, not unless he could defeat three powerful Adepts. He could kill the girl, slice open her throat while she lay helpless and take revenge on one eighth of the murderous ‘heroes’, but that would surely be his end. Felix would kill him on the spot, and he and the other six would remain unpunished. As much as he loathed to admit it, there was something else keeping him from killing her as well, but...

No. No time. Run.

~ ~ ~

He was running. The filthy coward of a Proxian was running away.

Rage surged through Felix, filling him with the urge to chase him down and tear him limb from limb... but he couldn’t. There were more important things for him to do. Removing his cloak, he ordered Piers and Sheba to pursue him in his place, then knelt beside the pale, shivering form of Mia, draping the cloak over her exposed body with the tenderness of a lover.

He felt sick.

Holding her near to him for warmth, he tried to ignore the sensations her closeness evoked in him as he ripped away her blindfold and removed her sodden gag. The collar round her throat he could do nothing about for the moment; instead, he focused on channeling healing psynergy into her. His Venus recovery psynergy was not as powerful as the Mercury of Mia or Piers, but it would have to do for now.

Damn it, Mia. The first time I see you in three years, and it had to be like this...

I should never have let you stay here on your own.

He stared down at Mia's face, her eyelids closed and her breathing shallow. She had lost consciousness almost immediately after he had removed the cloth stuffed inside of her mouth, mumbling something he couldn't understand. Her skin was near as cold as ice, and while averting his eyes from her breasts and her hips as best he could, he wondered just how she had survived the ordeal at all.

The spirit of Mercury watched over its children.

~ ~ ~

Nestled within a bundle of blankets in the Proxian cottage, Felix could not help but think how much Mia looked like an angel.

It took his mind off of their failure to capture Devori. Piers and Sheba had lost the renegade Mars Adept in the tundra shortly after passing Felix. He had escaped them.

Felix sighed, something that had become a habit for him in recent days. It was infuriating that the bastard had evaded them, but in the end only one thing was truly important. Mia was safe.

She had been awake occasionally since they had brought her here, but she spent most of her time in deep slumber, recovering from her the ordeal that had brought her so perilously close to death. She had refused to tell Felix the details of what she went through; he had only gleaned that Devori had done horrible things to her, and an assurance that she had not been raped. It seemed that she did not wish to talk about it, and although it concerned him to think she felt she had to hold it back, he understood.

The ropes that had tied her wrists and ankles were gone, leaving only red marks upon her skin. The blindfold and gag that had been forced onto her had been removed long ago, discarded in the snowfields for wolves to find. Yet one mark of her captivity remained; the heavy metal collar that had been placed about her throat, some strange force within it preventing her from drawing on her inner reserves of psynergy.

Nobody had been able to remove it.

The village elder knew precisely what the collar was; it had been in Proxian possession for decades before being stolen by Devori only the previous day. Unfortunately for Mia, he had also stolen the key for the collar, and it had not been found in the shack he had used to keep her captive. Devori must still have it, they concluded. The psynergy-sealing device would not yield to brute force, though Felix had tried to break it open with all of the strength he dared while it was locked around Mia’s throat. The key was the only means to open it.

They had tried to track Devori down over subsequent weeks, but their every attempt had failed. Nobody knew the frozen surrounds of Prox like Devori. It was impossible to locate him if he had no wish to be found.

It was as if he had simply disappeared from the face of Weyard.

~ ~ ~

The cavern that had become Devori's new home lacked any of the comforts of Prox, but he was unconcerned by such trivialities. He deserved nothing of the sort.

He had gambled for the pride of his ancestors with his bold plan, and he had failed. Mia was free again, back in the village and out of his reach. Oh, he had punished her in their time together, tormented her, but that was no longer enough for him. He knew she would recover, and her suffering would become a distant memory.

Unacceptable.

She was supposed to belong to me, he told himself as he trained his sword arm, developed his psynergy, the sounds of sword on stone and raging fire echoing through the cave day after day. Mia was his to own, his to possess, his to break.

Weeks passed, and then months. Devori emerged from his cave only to hunt for his meals. He had nowhere else to go. The northern lands held few settlements, and he could not return to Prox. Here in the wilds, there was only him and the shadow of a chaste girl cleric, and the howling winds that filled the air.

As seasons wore on, he began to lose interest in the wants of his ancestors and the vengeance on the eight adepts they so badly desired. What about his vengeance? He was still here, still alive. Surely that was more important. His ancestors had never done anything for him but scold him for his failures in his dreams.

No, this was now about what Devori wanted... and he wanted Mia.

On days where the sky was clear and the frigid, deadly winds were still, he would stand atop the cliffsides of the far northern mountains and watch the village of Prox from afar, as if he could see the object of his obsession from such a distance. He would rub the tiny black key he kept on a necklace beneath his clothes, thinking of the artifact collar it was paired with, locked around Mia's throat. To her it would be a dire inconvenience, but to Devori it was a mark of ownership.

Someday, Mia, we will meet again. I promise.

Chapter Text

Cynthia/Jasmine and Volkner/Jasmine, BDSM, dom/sub. Originally three separate stories. Kind of a precursor to the later Jasmine and Erika stories listed separately on my profile.

The First Occasion

"I've been thinking." The smooth, charming voice of Volkner broke into her thoughts.

As they lay together on top of the bed that they shared, Jasmine looked up into her love's piercing blue eyes. Her head rested on his chest, rising and falling with each breath, lulling her into a peaceful daze. Despite the intimacy of their embrace, both were fully clothed; Volkner in his handsome blue jacket and trousers, Jasmine in her white summer dress.

The two young Gym leaders had been in love for months, ever since Jasmine had arrived here in seaside Sunyshore City after leaving her homeland of Johto. It had been love at first sight, and the two spent almost every waking moment together. Their feelings for each other were deep and fierce, and yet...

"I know you don't want to have sex yet." Volkner did not let bitterness or annoyance creep into his tone, but Jasmine knew how he felt about the matter. That although he genuinely loved her, he was impatient. He had never even seen her naked - the best glimpse of her body he had received had been when he had walked in on her changing in his bedroom one day. Embarrassed that he had seen her in her underwear, Jasmine hadn't spoken to him for the rest of the day. It still brought a blush to her cheeks now.

Volkner reached down to where Jasmine's head lay on his breastbone, stroking her hair. "I'm not going to ask you to, not until you're ready. But... uh, there is something else... we could do. If you wanted." These last words took a great effort to force from the blond Gym leader's throat, and he was already finding it difficult to look at her, instead studying the bedside table, the pictures on the wall... anything but her.

"Something else?" Jasmine propped herself up on an elbow, her brown eyes blinking curiously. She knew very little about sex, and speaking about it most often left her flustered and apprehensive, but she found herself lending an ear to this alternate possibility despite her misgivings. "Do... do you want me to take my clothes off?"

"No!" Volkner reddened sharply. "I... I mean... I sure wouldn't mind if you wanted to! But that's not what... what I was talking about."

Jasmine could not help sighing in relief, but his denial only confused her further. "But if you don't mean that, then..."

"I want to tie you up."

The words burst from Volkner's mouth in a rush. His cheeks, previously only slightly reddened, turned scarlet as he realized that he had really said it out loud. His secret desire, out in the open.

Jasmine was left speechless, a blush also spreading across her pale cheeks. She rose from her reclining position until she was kneeling on the bedcovers, studying his face carefully. It had clearly taken a great deal of bravery for him to say that to he, but startled as she was, she was not in the right frame of mind to appreciate it..

"Wh-what do you mean?" she finally managed to utter, her brow furrowed and her voice faltering. "Tie me up... with rope? Like someone who was kidnapped?"

"Yeah..." Volkner grew increasingly uncomfortable as seconds ticked by, and perhaps wished that he had never broached the topic. He slid upward into a sitting position, scratching at his spiky blond hair in embarrassment. "You could keep your clothes on and everything, and... and it wouldn't be for long. But I'd really... like it."

Jasmine's apprehension increased. On the face of it it was a simple request; being tied up would be uncomfortable, but she knew that he would never hurt her, or do anything to her while she was unable to stop him. Besides, he had said it would just be for a little while. She was also painfully aware of how much Volkner desired her, how much he wanted to consummate their relationship. He had accepted Jasmine's wishes not to go that far, and she felt guilty at the thought of denying him this as well.

But... something made her hesitate to consent. It was not as frightening a prospect as sex, but the pit of the stomach fluttered in anxiety at the thought of being bound. It also made her a little worried knowing that he wanted to see her like that so badly. There was no easy answer for her to give, and she waited, mulling things over in her head.

Volkner saw her hesitation, and his heart sank. "You don't want to, do you."

Jasmine shook her head, her light brown hair fanning out behind her. "It's not that I don't want to. I... I just need to think about it a little." Abruptly she slid to the side of the bed and stood, pulling her shoes onto her bare feet and looking back at her boyfriend with a weak smile. "Is that okay?"

Volkner nodded stiffly, but his spirits were dampened by her words. Her fear and disquiet were written plainly across her normally kind, forgiving features. Why had he asked her that? Why had she thought she would agree? "Take your time," he told her, intending to sound relaxed but failing miserably.

~ ~ ~

Volkner leaned against the doorframe of the Sunyshore Gym, watching Jasmine leave. Her white dress and luxurious brown hair fluttered in the midday breeze as she walked down the worn stone path alone, not even casting a glance back at him.

He groaned, loathing himself in that moment. He had pushed her away, he knew he had when he had suggested tying her up, even if all she had said was that she would 'think about it'. Normally he walked her home across town, to the cute little house she was occupying by the beach, but today she had simply told him that she wanted a little time by herself. It was a knife twisting in his heart, but he had smiled and told her that he understood.

On the way down the hill into town, Jasmine passed someone heading the other way, towards Volkner and the gym. She exchanged a polite greeting with ths other person and continued on her way, soon disappearing around a corner out of Volkner's view.

Volkner squinted as the mysterious figure made its way closer. It was a woman, and there was something familiar about her....

As she neared, it became obvious who this was. She was tall, dressed all in black, her honey-blonde hair curling in waves down her back and drooping over her forehead, concealing her left eye. Her steps were graceful but purposeful. She moved with a confidence that Jasmine's characteristically meek motions could not match. It was little wonder; Jasmine was simply an unemployed Gym leader...

While Cynthia was the Sinnoh region's Champion.

Volkner wearily raised a hand in greeting, though he waited for her to come to him rather than approach her. He was in a dark mood after Jasmine's departure, and he was not in the mood to talk to anyone, even an old friend like Cynthia. All he wanted was to go back to bed and bury himself under the blankets.

Cynthia smiled in reply, coming to a halt in front of him. Her golden eyes looked him up and down, and she placed a hand on her hip. "That was your Jasmine, wasn't it?" she asked in her low, melodic voice.

"...Yeah." Volkner could not keep the bitterness from his tone. Watching Jasmine walk away had been such a simple thing, yet still an ordeal. "But she might not be 'mine' for long."

This gave Cynthia pause. She peered at him, trying to read his sour face. "You asked her, didn't you?"

"Yeah," Volkner repeated, closing his eyes and rubbing his temple. "She said she'd think about it."

Cynthia frowned in sympathy, stepping closer to him and clapping a hand on her shoulder. "She hasn't said no. She isn't Gardenia, you know. She is a different person, thinks a different way. She might say yes."

"I shouldn't have told her." Volkner's mood did not improve, despite her comforting words and touch. Cynthia was his closest friend, and he relied on her opinions more than he cared to admit. But this time, it was different. It was about Jasmine. "I should have known she'd hate the idea. What girl likes being tied up?"

"Many do," Cynthia said enigmatically, a twinkle in her eye. "Take my advice; leave her alone for today. Give her time to think. Then, go and see her tomorrow, and talk things over. The world isn't going to end if she says no."

Volkner considered her words, finally nodding grudgingly. "I guess."

"Good." Smiling approvingly, Cynthia retracted her hand from his shoulder and reached into the pocket of her long black coat. "Anyway, there are League matters I need to discuss with you, if we could go inside. I am tired from the journey here..."

~ ~ ~

Their meeting concluded after an hour spent discussing both League business and personal matters, Cynthia bid farewell to Volkner and left the Gym with a heavy heart.

Things just never seemed to go right for Volkner when it came to women. Cynthia had known him for years and knew that he deserved better than the hand he had been dealt. Gardenia was a nice girl, and Cynthia got along well with her, but she had been a mismatch for Volkner.

She didn't know Jasmine, and had only met her for the briefest of moment just an hour ago on the way to the Gym, but Volkner always spoke well of her. A caring girl, a capable trainer, a loving girlfriend. It had been wonderful to hear of them getting along so well... and now this.

Cynthia doubted that this little touch of drama in the relationship would amount to much in Jasmine's eyes, but Volkner was obviously concerned. It made her wonder if she should step in before one of them made a bad choice, but this wasn't her business. Not really. Yet she could not simply watch...

After warring with herself all the way down the hill and into town, she finally made a decision.

She would pay Jasmine a visit.

~ ~ ~

"I'm so sorry I didn't recognize you!" Jasmine apologized for the sixth time as she seated herself in a wooden chair about her kitchen table, neatly placing her grey teacup and saucer in front of her. There was excitement in her voice, and a little reverence.

Cynthia smiled reassuringly, stirring her tea with a silver spoon. "Think nothing of it. I don't get to leave the League much, and as I hear it, you are not from Sinnoh anyway."

Jasmine nodded, raising her cup to her lips and sipping demurely. Even as a Gym leader in Johto, she had rarely crossed paths with that region's Champion. Meeting one was a great honor, and she had found herself slightly starstruck... as well as a little embarrassed that she hadn't recognized her as they passed outside of Volkner's gym.

Cynthia's visit was a welcome reprieve from the events earlier that day for Jasmine, from the question Volkner had asked her. She still didn't know what to tell him, wanted to agree to please him but held back for a reason she didn't quite understand. It made her feel ungrateful, even mean to refuse him, and such thoughts had been eating at her over the few hours since she had left his gym and returned to her cottage.

"Volkner loves you, you know."

The unexpected statement was a jolt to her system, and Jasmine nervously settled her cup back onto its saucer with a series of noisy clinks. "I... I know..."

"You are the second girlfriend he has had in his life. I'm not sure if he has ever told you that." Cynthia leaned back in her chair, watching the girl thoughtfully with her enchanting golden eyes. "A few years ago, he met another Gym leader at a League meeting. Gardenia of Eterna City. A nice girl."

Jasmine nodded glumly. Volkner had mentioned her once or twice, but Jasmine had never pursued it, feeling a twinge of jealousy whenever she was spoken of.

"Do you know why they broke up, in the end?" Cynthia demanded, hiding her mouth behind her teacup and saucer as she drank.

Jasmine didn't want to answer, didn't even want to discuss the subject, but as the silence between them grew, Cynthia merely waited expectantly. In the end, she had to say something. "No."

"Volkner asked her if he could tie her up," Cynthia said bluntly.

Jasmine nearly choked on her tea, and she stared at Cynthia accusingly. "You... he told...!?" she spluttered.

The champion nodded, unperturbed. "He told me about it because he was upset, and I pressed him on it. Try not to be angry with him. Now, Gardenia refused to let him do such a thing to her, and they broke up the next day. That girl had a great deal of pride, and she took it as an insult." She took another sip of tea, allowing Jasmine a moment to absorb her words. "Somehow, he found the courage to ask you the same thing he asked her that day, despite what had happened the last time. Despite what it had cost him."

Those words were sobering. Listlessly running her finger about the rim of her cup, Jasmine stared down at the tabletop. "Are you telling me I should let him tie me up?"

"That is your decision to make, and yours alone." Cynthia shook her head firmly. "I merely wanted to make sure you had the full story. Volkner loves you dearly, and it would hit him very hard if he lost you. And he thinks he might."

That came as a shock to Jasmine. "He won't lose me over a silly thing like this! It's just... well... it makes me nervous. To think of him doing that to me."

Cynthia nodded sympathetically. "I understand. It is a difficult thing he asks, to one who has not done it before. Believe me, I know."

Jasmine looked at her closely, her brown eyes suddenly alight with curiosity. "You've... you've been..."

"Tied up before? Yes." Cynthia finished her tea in one final swallow, then brushed her cup and saucer aside, leaning her elbows on the table as she focused her attention entirely on the young Gym leader. "It is an interesting experience...and it requires a great deal of trust in the one who binds you."

Jasmine flinched. Volkner had been asking for her trust, and she had seemed to deny him.

Cynthia took note of her dismayed reaction and tried to calm her, her voice gentle. "As I said, I am not trying to push you to agree to what he has asked you. Only you may decide that. However, if it is something you are open to considering, I am willing to offer you my assistance. A chance to see what it is like before you agree or decline."

Jasmine's eyes widened in shock, and her face went pale. "What...?"

The Champion reached across the table, patting the back of Jasmine's hand. "I am offering to tie you up, dear Jasmine. It won't hurt, I promise you. And..."

She cut herself off as Jasmine rapidly scrabbled out of her chair, backing away from Cynthia. "You can't be serious! You can't..."

Cynthia merely raised an eyebrow, smiling serenely.

Jasmine wrung her hands as the initial surprise of the offer began to wear off. The more she thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed. She didn't really even know this woman, and now she wanted to let her tie her up? It was insane!

But on the other hand, Cynthia was the Champion of the Pokemon League, not some random woman. Not only that, she was Volkner's friend. Her presence was strangely comforting, almost motherly, and Jasmine found herself inclined to trust her as if she had known Cynthia all of her life. And she was offering to help...

Jasmine needed that help right now. She did not have the courage to say yes to Volkner on her own, and she did not want to disappoint him, to hurt him as Gardenia had. It would be strange, uncomfortable and most likely embarrassing, but she was willing to give it a try. For him.

Finally, despite her misgivings and fears, she gave Cynthia a meek nod. "A-alright. Please show me."

~ ~ ~

Cynthia excused herself from Jasmine's company with the promise of a swift return and headed back to Volkner's gym. She knew where to find the equipment she needed on short notice.

A young trainer was entering the gym through the front entrance as she arrived, surely on his way to challenge Volkner to a battle, as so many did. Perfect, Cynthia noted with a smile. It meant Volkner would be distracted for a while, and she could use the back entrance to get into the building and into Volkner's room. Very few people had the key to the back door, but Cynthia, as the Champion, was one of them.

Surely Volkner wouldn't notice a few things going missing for a little while...

~ ~ ~

Seated on the edge of her bed, Jasmine stared at the wall in front of her, lost in thought.

She hadn't known what to wear for the experience that awaited her, so she hadn't changed clothes, still clad in her plain white summer dress. It left her arms and much of her legs bare, but it was comfortable, and she suspected that comfort would be something she would not be allowed much of over the coming evening.

It seemed like an hour had passed since Cynthia had taken her leave, though it had only been ten minutes at most. Jasmine's body tingled in anticipation of what was to come, and she felt no small amount of fear mixed in with nervousness. Why had she agreed to this? Cynthia might hold high rank and she may be Volkner's friend, but she was still a stranger to Jasmine. Strangers didn't offer to tie each other up...

But Jasmine had agreed. She could only imagine how it would feel, and she was not expecting to enjoy the experience. When people were tied up it was to keep them still, not to make them comfortable.

Still, she could call it off at any time. With a single word she could ask Cynthia to release her. It would be over in an instant and become nothing but an unpleasantly awkward memory if she wished it. Making that choice would require telling Volkner that she wouldn't let him tie her up himself, but Jasmine was sure their relationship was strong enough to endure that. They were in love.

Yet she didn't want to disappoint him. Cynthia's story had strengthened her resolve to make Volkner happy. She owed it to him to try it at least once, and although she was scared, she could not help the tiny twinge of curiosity she felt when both Volkner and Cynthia had spoken about it. Jasmine wanted to know why the idea of tying her up had such an effect on the two of them.

She was not an adventurous girl, but the last time she had ignored her innate caution and taken a risk, it had brought her here to the shores of Sinnoh. To Volkner.

There was something to be said for venturing outside of her comfort zone.

~ ~ ~

Jasmine's heart beat faster as she heard the front door swing open.

The entrance clicked shut as quickly as it had opened, and she detected the faint grating of metal on metal as the bolt on the inside was slid across to prevent entry. A few moments later, Cynthia appeared in the bedroom door frame, a large leather bag in her hand.

Dressed all in midnight black, her pale blonde hair obscuring parts of her face and drifting down her body like a tattered veil, there was something mysterious and exciting about the older woman. Maybe part of it was knowing that despite her warmth and kindness, Cynthia was one of the most powerful people in the entire country. She was so sure of herself, so confident...

Cynthia hoisted the bag onto the dressing table next to the bed and looked Jasmine in the eye as the girl fidgeted, appraising her. "Are you sure you want to go through with this, dear? You can still say no."

Jasmine almost did. A part of her wanted to refuse and pretend that this had never come so close to happening... and yet she still found herself nodding with a certainty she did not feel. "Yes. I'm sure. Just... tell me what I need to do."

Cynthia smiled gently, pleased by her choice. She unzipped her bag as an uncertain Jasmine looked on through frightened eyes, and hummed in interest as she sifted through the contents. Volkner owned many interesting tools, even if he had never had the chance to use them. Many of the things in here she would not show Jasmine, knowing that they would scare the poor girl off in a heartbeat.

Instead, Cynthia settled on the simplest of the items in the bag. She lifted out a coil of long black rope and placed it on the dressing table in front of Jasmine. It felt soft and smooth in Cynthia's hands, yet strong and thick; ideal for the purposes of bondage. It would not hurt Jasmine unless she tied it too tightly, and Cynthia was an expert.

A shiver ran down Jasmine's spine as she laid eyes on the rope. Knowing that she was to be tied up was one thing, but seeing the tools for the task was a different matter. The urge to change her mind and back out of the arrangement returned in force, but this time she managed to stifle it much quicker, compelling herself to be still and be quiet. This was for Volkner, and in a small way that she was only now starting to admit, it was for herself as well.

"Place your hands behind your back, dear." Cynthia's voice was still as warm as ever, but there was an unmistakable iron note of command in her words. Jasmine's heart skipped a beat as she obediently slipped her hands behind the small of her back. It gave her an unexpected little thrill to follow Cynthia's orders, even though she knew it would lead only to her own helplessness.

But why am I feeling this way? It's not as if I want to be at someone else's mercy...

Cynthia's hand clapped onto Jasmine's right shoulder and pulled gently towards herself, hinting that Jasmine should turn around. The young gym leader obeyed, pulling her legs up onto the bed and turning herself away from Cynthia, revealing her back to the older woman. Being unable to see precisely what she was up to was unnerving on its own.

She felt Cynthia's warm but firm hands grasp her dainty wrists, pressing them together behind her, her palms facing. Jasmine took the hint and kept them in place while the other woman began to unwind the rope. Her chest fluttered in an intoxicating mix of fear and anticipation.

She fought the urge to recoil as the first inch of rope touched her skin.

As Jasmine patiently held her position, Cynthia began to loop the cord around her wrists, slowly binding them together. The rope did not dig into her skin as she had feared, and there was still enough slack that she was not uncomfortable. Nor was there any real feeling of being restricted; she knew she could wriggle out of these bindings in an instant. It made her wonder if this was all it was really about; not actually being restrained at all, just seeming like it to the eye of an observer.

To her surprise, she found herself more than a little disappointed.

She was on the verge of asking Cynthia if this was all there really was to it when the confident movements of the other woman's hands changed. Her fingers slipped between Jasmine's wrists, bringing with them the end of the rope. The cord was wrapped about the bindings circling her wrists, vertically this time, breaking the neat loop of rope that had pinned her hands together and forcing it into a tight figure-eight. As Cynthia repeated the motion, Jasmine felt her bonds contract, her hands drawn more and more closely together.

Finally she stopped, tying the rope off in a secure knot. Her clever rope work had bound Jasmine's wrists together, then separated them slightly.

Jasmine experimentally tried to pull her wrists apart, but quickly found that they were just too firmly bound. The rope circling them was as soft as ever, but unyielding too. She could not part her wrists at all, and so could barely move her arms at all. Her fingers could not reach the knots binding her.

That tiny thrill that had so confused her before returned now as she tested the new limits that had been imposed on her movement. Why was it so exciting to know that she could not free herself? Why did it send a gentle spark through her body to be aware that she was reliant on Cynthia to release her?

She knew that it should make her a little afraid to be so restrained in front of a woman who was really still a stranger. She was afraid, a little... but her fear was less of the situation, less of the fear of what Cynthia might do, and more of just why she was accepting it so readily. Even a little eagerly.

"Are you alright, Jasmine?" Cynthia inquired from behind her.

"Y-yes. I'm fine." Jasmine managed a tiny smile as she looked back over her shoulder at her captor. "I didn't know it would feel so..." She found herself unable to finish that sentence, unsure of what it was she was going to say.

Cynthia did not wait for her to complete her sentence, instead nodding in understanding. She radiated calm, made Jasmine feel completely safe in her care. "It can be difficult to describe the sensation... but we are not done yet. Would you like to continue?"

The fluttering feeling in Jasmine's chest grew more intense, almost uncomfortably so. She tried not to acknowledge it. "There's more to it?"

"Only if you want there to be." Cynthia's face was unreadable.

Jasmine paused. Did she want to go further? She wasn't certain any more. The idea interested her, kindling something within her as she wondered just how far this was going to go, how uncomfortable it was going to make her. How helpless she would be, and what pressures she would be put under. How the strange tingling feeling within her would grow. Yet it did still frighten her. Why would being bound make her feel this way?

Finally, she cast aside her worries and nodded, determined and serious. Cynthia wouldn't hurt her, and they could always stop if she changed her mind. "I've come this far. I guess we should keep going."

"As you wish." Cynthia smiled in approval, returning to the mysterious bag of tricks she had borrowed from Volkner. Out came another length of the soft black rope that she had used to bind Jasmine's wrists. "Lie back on the bed, dear."

There was that feeling again, that tiny, mysterious thrill. Cynthia's words were spoken in a gentle, motherly tone, but they were an order from one who had power over her. Her heart racing, Jasmine hastened to obey, letting herself drop to the white bedcovers. Lowering herself carefully was not an option with her hands tied.

No sooner had her back touched the covers than Cynthia moved Jasmine's bare ankles together and began to encircle them with rope, binding them to each other as she had with her wrists. Jasmine watched with interest, able to see her at work this time, studying the way she coiled the rope around and around her limbs, then wrapped it between her ankles to cinch her bonds.

It was a simple procedure, yet Jasmine marveled at how effective it was as she tried to kick one leg independently of the other. It was no use; her two legs may as well have been one.

She rolled onto her side as she struggled against the ropes pinning her ankles and wrists, but her efforts were in vain. Cynthia was truly an expert at her craft; Jasmine found that without use of her limbs, freeing herself was simply impossible.

This time Cynthia did not ask Jasmine how she felt, nor did she inquire whether she wished to continue. Instead, she returned to the leather bag once more and foraged inside for something.

She found what she was looking for right in the corner of the bag, and she paused to consider as her hand lingered over two items. One was a simple roll of silver duct tape... but she contemplated using the second object instead, a blue rubber ballgag nestled in the deepest reaches of the bag. It had never been used...

But now was really not the time, Cynthia told herself, retrieving the duct tape instead. Best to start simple, and leave the more effective stuff to Volkner. Frightening her away from it would do nobody any good. She leaned over the immobilized Jasmine, slipping her fingernail under the edge of the tape and tearing a strip away, biting the end to sever it.

"Close your mouth, dear," she murmured, giving Jasmine barely a moment to comply before she pressed the tape down firmly over her lips.

Her unexpected gagging made Jasmine's eyes widen. Her cry of surprise and protest was muffled as Cynthia smoothed the tape down across her jaw, the glue on the reverse side settling against her lips. She hadn't asked to be gagged, nor really expected or wanted it, and it sent a shiver down her spine to think that even her speech had been taken from her. How was she supposed to communicate properly with her captor now? For the first time she felt less of a willing participant in the experience and more of an actual prisoner, and she didn't like it.

Reading the distress on her face, Cynthia bit her lip and patted Jasmine's shoulder gently, though she did not move to remove the gag. "I'm sorry, Jasmine... I let myself get caught up in the moment. I like to move a little faster at times like this, but that's not fair on you when you're still getting used to things. Does it hurt?"

Jasmine hesitated, then shook her head no. It was uncomfortable, but she was not in any pain.

"Good." A warm, comforting smile spread across Cynthia's features, her honey-gold eyes gleaming. Her hand crept up to touch Jasmine's cheek, rubbing against her pale skin and the shining silver tape that marred it.

And then she rose to her feet, her curled waves of blonde hair shaking as she stood. "I am going back to the kitchen to make another cup of tea," she informed the younger girl as she started toward the bedroom door. "I expect to be back in about twenty minutes, and then I will untie you. Until then, I hope you will give some thought to what you want to tell Volkner tomorrow."

Jasmine shrieked in protest, unable to form any more coherent words through her sealed lips. She gave Cynthia a pleading look, struggling against the ropes that bound her.

All she received in return was a knowing wink as Cynthia flicked the light switch off and slowly pulled the bedroom door closed. With no window in the room through which the setting sun could shed its waning light, Jasmine found herself plunged into darkness, only the sound of her own breathing for company.

 

The Second Occasion

It was midmorning on Saturday when Cynthia received the call, the insistent trilling of her phone a very welcome distraction from a desk full of tiresome League paperwork. The little device was out of her pocket in seconds, her thumb looming over the 'receive call' button as her grey eyes scanned the screen for the caller's identity. She had not been anticipating a call today, but she was fully expecting to see the name of an Elite Four member or a Gym Leader, or possibly another League administrator...

She was only half-right. The name on the screen did belong to a Gym Leader, but not one from within the Sinnoh region.

Jasmine?

She had not expected to hear from that girl so soon after their last meeting. Was something wrong? Slightly worried, she tapped the button and raised the phone to her ear, fearing the worst. “Hello?”

“Cynthia?” Jasmine’s soft voice was quivering a little, but the she could detect no signs that her young friend had been crying, at least. “A-are you busy?”

Busy? Who, me? The champion glared down at the stacks of paper littering her desk, an irritated grimace crossing her face. At least Jasmine couldn’t see her expression. “I can talk. Is something the matter, Jasmine? You don’t sound well.”

Silence on the other end of the line.

With every passing second, Cynthia became more and more certain that the call had something to do with Jasmine’s boyfriend, Volkner. The memory of the session that she and Jasmine had shared a little over a week ago brought a smile to her frowning lips, but there was nagging concern there, too. She had been very gentle with the quiet girl, ensuring that her first experience with bondage was relaxed and undemanding, but she knew that Volkner had an unfortunate habit of rushing into things. Had he gone too fast for poor Jasmine and upset her?

“I let Volkner tie me up, like he wanted to,” Jasmine confided at last, her reluctance to speak of it carrying through the airwaves as clearly as her words. “Twice.”

“And?” Cynthia prodded, more than a little anxious about the answer. What if their relationship had taken a turn for the worse, and she was partly responsible? A little knot of guilt was building in her stomach, and she had no wish for its existence to be justified.

“It was okay the first time,” the young gym leader responded, still hesitant at first but building in confidence as she shared more of the details. “It was kind of nice. He didn’t even gag me like you did. I felt safe with him, like... like I was with you.”

A pleasant little warmth enclosed Cynthia’s heart at Jasmine’s words. The girl had placed a great deal of trust in her during their session, and it was rewarding to know that she had no regrets about the encounter. Still, it was obvious that the next word to leave Jasmine’s lips would be ‘but’...

“But the second time, it was different.” Once again Jasmine’s voice wavered, as if she were trying to decide whether she should go on or not. Fortunately for Cynthia’s nerves, she chose to continue. “He used different things on me, things I’d never seen before. There was leather and metal, and a rubber ball he put in my mouth, and... and I... I freaked out.”

“Oh, Jasmine...” Oh, Volkner.

“He knew I was scared and he stopped.” Jasmine paused again to gather herself. Her voice had been cracking, much to Cynthia’s deep dismay. “He said he was stupid to try more advanced stuff right away, and... I know he feels really bad about it. I didn’t want to hurt him! I just didn’t... I wasn’t ready...”

Cynthia’s heart ached for her. “Jasmine,” she began, not quite sure how she was going to finish the sentence. “I think that-”

“I want you to teach me, Cynthia.”

The Champion froze, almost dropping her phone. “What?”

“I don’t want to disappoint Volkner.” There was a determination in Jasmine’s voice that hadn’t been there before, uncharacteristic of the meek young woman Cynthia had met a week ago. She had hardly been able to imagine this quiet girl being a gym leader back in Johto, as Volkner had claimed that she had been, but now she could see the resolve buried beneath Jasmine’s outer shell. She was Steel all right, just like her partners. “I want you to show me the things he’ll want to do with me. I’m scared, but I’m... I’m curious, too, and I trust you.”

It was now Cynthia’s turn to be silent. The wheels of her mind were beginning to turn in a familiar way, considering what to teach Jasmine and how, but to her surprise she found her stomach aflutter with nervous butterflies at the very thought of another teaching session with the innocent girl. There was still the issue of whether she should even accept, of course, but Cynthia had known that she was going to say yes from the moment the subject was broached. If Jasmine didn’t get the information she wanted from Cynthia, there was the risk that she would instead seek it from a less trustworthy source... or not seek it at all, and put further pressure on her relationship with Volkner. Neither of those were acceptable outcomes.

There was a more selfish reason to agree as well, but Cynthia was not yet ready to admit it to herself.

“Alright,” she managed to choke out, her throat suddenly very dry. “Are you able to come to my home sometime this week? I live in Celestic Town, and I know you’re still in Sunyshore... but I think it’s best if we do it here. I have what I’ll need on hand.”

“I can have Skarmory fly me there,” came Jasmine’s immediate response, an uneasy excitement in her voice. “Is tonight okay? Volkner’s gone to Oreburgh for a few days, so I can get away without him knowing...”

“Tonight?” Cynthia echoed, her grey eyes widening. She glanced down at her desk-full of paperwork once again, chewing on her lower lip as she calculated. Could she get all of this done today? If she wanted to see Jasmine, she would have to persevere. Now there was the motivation she had been lacking. “Be here at six. Mine is the two-story house with the blue roof and the Starly-shaped letterbox. It’s near the lake. Have you got all that?”

“Yes, ma’am.” The deference in Jasmine’s tone sent a thrill down Cynthia’s spine.

“Good girl. I will see you tonight.” Heavens, how was she supposed to concentrate on her work now? Already her mind was wandering to the evening and the lessons that awaited, pondering just how far she should go with the quiet young trainer from across the sea. How far Jasmine wanted to go, how far she wanted to go, how far she could go...

“Jasmine, one more thing? How old are you, dear?”

Hesitation before answering, but answer Jasmine did. “Nineteen.”

Cynthia smiled as she ended the call.

~ ~ ~

Never before had Jasmine felt as apprehensive as she did at this moment.

The day had already required a surplus of bravery from the quiet young girl from Johto, her earlier conversation with Cynthia over the phone being at once nerve-wracking and deeply embarrassing, and now that she was standing on the Champion’s doorstep she found that she had very little courage left to raise her hand and knock to announce her arrival. Her heart hammered within her chest as she stared at the weather-beaten wooden panels of the door, shivering in the chill of evening and praying that nobody saw her here, frozen in fear and looking like a moonstruck fool.

It was already 6:05 pm. She was five minutes late, but she had been standing here for ten.

In desperate need of motivation, Jasmine tried to imagine Cynthia becoming more and more annoyed with her as every moment passed. A rebuke spoken in the older woman’s voice rang inside her head. She had imposed on the Champion herself by arranging this meeting, distracting her from her important duties, and now she couldn’t even work up the nerve to knock? How could such a coward call herself a gym leader?

Annoyed with herself, Jasmine made herself raise her fist, poised to rap her knuckles on the door.

It opened.

Light spilled out onto the porch, banishing the darkness and illuminating Jasmine’s startled features. Beyond the portal, Cynthia was smiling warmly at her, her grey eyes understanding. The Champion seemed unsurprised to find Jasmine waiting on her doorstep, as if she had known that the girl had been there all along. Perhaps she had? How humiliating, Jasmine groaned mentally, blinking against the glare and forcing herself to smile. “H-hi...”

“Good evening, Jasmine.” Cynthia stepped back and pulled the door further inward, offering Jasmine a more comfortable entry into her home. The elder woman appeared much as she had been during their previous meeting a week ago, poised and elegant, her presence pleasant and instantly comforting. She was garbed entirely in her trademark black, just as before, the garments thick and lined with fur to insulate against the cold air of the mountain town. Her luxurious blonde hair, freshly brushed, flowed down her back in sweeping curls but was pinned away from her fondly smiling face.

Somewhat reassured, Jasmine stepped through the doorway and allowed her host to close it behind her. It was much warmer inside the house than out, the heat of a well-tended fire flowing through the ground floor and chasing away the chill. Accustomed to the more tolerable climate of Sunyshore, the southerner girl had been unprepared for the harsher temperatures of central Sinnoh and had failed to dress for the cold, to her discomfort. Her loose powder-blue dress barely reached her knees, the large orange ribbon sewn into the bodice offering no protection against the elements, but at the least she had thought to bring a jacket to wear over it, rather thin and sparing but better than nothing.

Her stomach still tying itself in nervous knots, Jasmine trailed behind Cynthia as the Champion led her through the hallway and into the living room. Gentle orange light flickered and danced across the walls, cast by the fireplace set into the opposite wall from the door. A leather couch and armchairs rested at the center of the room, arranged in a semi-circle facing the fire, presenting a cozy atmosphere that Jasmine found difficult to resist. Another layer of doubt and unease fell away as Cynthia guided her to a chair and bade her sit, then departed to the kitchen to make tea for herself and her guest.

Left by herself once again, Jasmine sank back into the seat and tried to let herself relax completely. The illogical little fear of Cynthia that had taken hold despite her trust in her had been chased away by the older woman’s smile, but there were still plenty of other things left to fret over. What Cynthia was going to do to her tonight, more than anything. What Jasmine was going to let her do. She had asked for this, and she was not going to back out now, but that did not set her anxieties to rest. At this point she doubted that anything would.

Soon enough Cynthia returned with two mugs of tea, handing one to Jasmine before sitting in the armchair across from her. Her grey gaze studied the young gym leader, but the girl was not looking back at her. It was obvious that she was still incredibly nervous, resembling a frightened doe as she stared down into her cup, uncertain whether she should bolt for the safety of the trees or wait for the hunter to claim her. Her deep brown eyes, though not fixed on her, were nearly as fearful as a deer’s might be, and the twin tufts of brown hair rising from her head, clasped into the arrangement by little round ornaments, could have been her cautiously perked ears...

The Champion chuckled lightly at the image, and Jasmine’s eyes rose in confusion.

Cynthia took this opportunity to move their engagement away from that of predator and prey. “What precisely do you want from me, Jasmine?” she asked, as gently as she could, offering no judgment. “What would you like me to do?”

Jasmine took a long sip from her tea before she spoke, attempting to thread the words in her mind into a coherent sentence. There was so much she wanted to ask, so many reassurances she needed. “I want you to tie me up,” she said at last, though the moment the words left her lips she knew that they were inadequate. “I mean... do more than you did last time. Volkner wants to go beyond that with me, like I told you on the phone, and I... I want to go further, too. I think. I just... I’m scared.”

Cynthia considered, leaning forward towards her guest. “You wish me to help you press your limits, correct?”

Jasmine nodded, saying nothing. She was biting her lip even now, Cynthia noticed.

“I can show you many things,” she ventured, “but I will need your trust, Jasmine. Do you remember what I did last time? Tell me.”

Jasmine remembered, of course, but she took another lengthy sip of her drink before she responded, hiding herself behind her cup. “You tied my hands behind my back,” she recalled, a tiny blush creeping across her cheeks. Why? “And you tied my ankles together.”

“And?” Cynthia’s gaze never left hers.

“And you put tape over my mouth. You... gagged me. I wasn’t expecting it...”

“Indeed I did,” Cynthia said with a brisk nod, leaning even closer. “And if you want me to push your limits, I’ll do things like that again. Not with the tape... but I might do things that you are not expecting me to do, without giving you warning or asking permission. I promise that I will not hurt you, on my life, but I need you to trust me. Completely. Do you understand, Jasmine?”

This bold and unambiguous statement had been a surprise all on its own, and for a moment Jasmine considered backing out, the urge much stronger than before. She did trust Cynthia, or else she would not have come at all, but she was afraid as well. Yet... she would be afraid no matter what she did, and if she really was determined to learn these things that excited her boyfriend so much, she would need to conquer her fears at some point. Better it be here and now than in Volkner’s bedroom, and with his expectant eyes on her...

“I understand. And I accept.” Jasmine smiled weakly, a flimsy reassurance to them both. “D-do what you will with me. I know that Volkner likes to be in charge-”

“Dominant,” Cynthia interrupted, setting her cup aside and standing. It was not a correction, but at the same time it was. She was reaching into the pocket of her trousers as she approached Jasmine, motioning for the girl to remain seated.

“...Dominant,” Jasmine repeated, her unease flaring. Such a strong word. “Be... dominant with me. I need to get past this, for Volkner’s sake.”

Those words nearly stole Cynthia’s breath away, but she feigned composure, slipping into the role of the mistress that she knew so well. Both roles fit her equally, when they suited her, but tonight the role of the submissive would belong to Jasmine. The Champion drew a thin satin cord from her pocket, shimmering deep red in the firelight, and sank to her knees in front of the southerner girl.

“Hold still,” she murmured, a command rather than a request, and Jasmine obeyed without hesitation. Her small hands were clasped tightly around her mug of tea, drawing warmth from the heated porcelain, and Cynthia did not move them from this position before she began to bind her wrists together with the cord. Coiling satin soon imprisoned her hands, soft enough that it didn’t hurt but strong enough that she could not break out of its bonds, forcing her to continue cradling her cup and preventing her from grasping anything else. Like before, the restriction was strange but not unpleasant to her.

“Finish your tea,” Cynthia instructed, resuming her seat across from Jasmine. Her voice and her gaze were still warm, but hard-edged as well. “This is the last chance you’ll have in a while. You will be spending much of the next few hours gagged, and helpless besides, so enjoy your liberty while it lasts. When we go upstairs to my bedroom, your freedom ends.”

Jasmine felt a powerful tingle run through her slender body, a rush of dreadful anticipation both fearful and excited. It had gone unsaid, but the moment that Cynthia had tied her hands was the moment that she had lost the opportunity to back out, and the both of them knew it. Whatever lay ahead, she would have to endure... and maybe, enjoy.

~ ~ ~

Cynthia’s bedroom was situated on the upper floor of her home, a surprisingly large but cosy room that seemed to welcome Jasmine as she entered. The southern wall was entirely given to wide, high windows that presented a glorious view of Mount Coronet, silhouetted against the moon; for a lingering moment the pale moonlight was the only illumination in the spacious room, leaving Jasmine wondering if she had somehow stepped into another world.

The illusion was dispelled as Cynthia flicked the light switch on the wall, stirring to life a pair of light globes in their ornate ceiling fixtures. Another button press and thick blue curtains swept from the sides of the windows seemingly of their own accord, covering the glass panes and the world beyond, shutting the two of them into their private existence. A trainer as powerful as Cynthia could easily afford a house so splendid; she was rarely defeated, and the prize money she had won throughout her career spoke for itself. While in her presence, beguiled by her warm demeanor, it was easy to forget that this woman was one of the most wealthy, famous and formidable people in the entire region.

Yet here Jasmine was, in the Champion’s bedroom, with her hands bound together before her. It seemed like a fanciful dream, but the comforting weight of Cynthia’s hand on her slender shoulder told her that this was very real indeed. The shy little gym leader had really come to a near-stranger’s home, confessed her most private anxieties, asked to be dominated...

The memory was enough to make Jasmine blush, but Cynthia was ready to move past words and into action.

With deft hands she untied the satin cord binding her young guest’s wrists, but it was not relief that Jasmine felt at the return of her freedom. The restriction had been an inconvenience to her as she made her way upstairs but even this small measure of helplessness had given her a mysterious thrill, a sensation that she had only felt on one other occasion - her last encounter with Cynthia and her ropes, nine days ago. It had not been there during Volkner’s clumsy attempts at tying her up, as much as she had wanted it.

Perhaps her boyfriend was the one who could use Cynthia’s tuition...

Do what you will with me. Be dominant. That’s what you said, isn’t it?” Cynthia’s mouth was barely an inch from Jasmine’s ear, her smooth voice laden with authority despite its subdued tone. Having her uncertain words quoted back at her with such certainty and precision only teased a more vibrant blush from the introverted girl, but she could hardly deny that she had spoken them. She nodded meekly, staring straight ahead, her stomach seeming to curl in on itself as the tension within her body continued to grow.

“And did you mean it?” There was no doubt behind Cynthia’s question, no inference that she believed Jasmine would recant, but still she asked. Both of her hands rested upon Jasmine’s shoulders now, her grip firm but not painfully so, imparting a feeling of security to the nervous Jasmine. Again, the young gym leader gave a hesitant nod.

“Say it.” The forceful demand caressed Jasmine’s ear, warm breath playing across her cheek, making her squirm in the older woman’s grip. Did she really have to repeat those embarrassing words? It had been difficult enough to make herself say them the first time, a test of her withdrawn nature, and she knew that it was not reassurance of her decision that Cynthia was looking for. She was trying to push Jasmine out of her comfort zone.

She swallowed hard, bowing her head in subservience. “Please do whatever you want with me. D-dominate me. I... want you to.” She had intended to leave it at that, only repeating what she had said in the living room minutes ago, but now Jasmine knew that it was not quite enough. She needed to lock herself into this, or her nerves would betray her. “I want to learn, so don’t... don’t hold back. No matter what I say after this, don’t hold back.”

Cynthia frowned slightly, turning Jasmine around so she could look her in the eye. “The first thing you need to learn is a safe word... or in this case, a safe gesture. That is something I will not compromise on, Jasmine. If I am hurting you too badly, or if you want to stop, I want you to cross your fingers on both hands. If you do that, I will stop right away and untie you. Otherwise, I will keep going no matter what you say or do. Is that clear?”

“Y-yes...” Jasmine nodded once more, folding her middle finger over her index finger to prove that she had understood. Knowing that she had an escape route was both a comfort and a curse, and she promised herself that she would only use it under the most extreme of circumstances.

“Good. Then we are ready to begin.” Cynthia released Jasmine’s shoulders and stepped away from her, crossing the room towards the wardrobe set into the opposite wall. “Let me get my equipment. In the meantime, you should get undressed.”

What!?

“W-w-what...?” Jasmine’s verbal exclamation was a trembling shadow of her mental cry of disbelief, but her widened eyes and shaking lip revealed her buried emotions. She had played out this scene in her head a dozen times since the phone call a few hours ago, but never once had it gone this way. “You w-want me to...?”

Cynthia’s head whipped around, her blonde hair fanning wildly as her gaze locked onto Jasmine’s. Her graceful form now radiated imperious authority, a mask but a very convincing one. “When I give an order, I expect it to be obeyed. You wanted to experience dominance, and that is what you shall get. You may keep your underwear, but I want everything above it off. Now.”

Jasmine’s fingers curled anxiously into the hem of her skirt as Cynthia returned to rifling through to wardrobe. She was painfully shy about her body; even Volkner had only seen her in her underwear once, and that by accident... but before she knew it, she was shrugging off her jacket and placing it on the dressing table beside the bed, pointedly ignoring her nerve-wracked doppelganger in the mirror. If she was going to push her boundaries, this was a good place to start.

Her small leather belt was the next item to leave her body, but rather than leave it in the same place as her dress, she opted to open the topmost drawer of the dressing table and place it inside along with the six red-and-white balls attached to its length. She didn’t know how much her partners could perceive from within their confinement, but she didn’t want any of them to witness this.

Cynthia turned back to her, a large box in her arms; she had found what she was looking for. The dangerous glint in her grey eyes chilled Jasmine to the bone as she noticed how slow the young trainer was moving. “Why are you not undressed yet?” she demanded, setting her cardboard burden on the bed and regarding her with intense displeasure. It was difficult to imagine that this woman had been so understanding and warm just a few minutes ago. “I will punish you for your tardiness, Jasmine. If you don’t want to make it any worse for yourself, you will undress this instant.”

Punish...? That confused Jasmine more than anything else, but whatever Cynthia had in mind, she knew that making it worse was something she would want to avoid. Hastily shutting away her self-consciousness, Jasmine kicked off her sandals and yanked her dress up and over her head, tossing it on top of her discarded jacket before she could change her mind. Just like that she was nearly naked in front of the regional Champion, only her plain white panties and bra remaining to protect her precious modesty - not that the latter had much to conceal, she reminded herself sourly, crossing her arms over her small breasts and fixing her wary eyes on the cardboard box Cynthia had acquired from the wardrobe.

“Good.” Cynthia’s gaze lingered upon Jasmine’s petite body, much as she tried to look away. ”Now, come here.”

It was not a request but an order, and Jasmine’s skin tingled gently as she followed it, her bare feet padding softly across the plush carpet as she circled the bed to reach her mistress. Being commanded was something she enjoyed, she was now certain of it, and that was something Volkner had never done to her. He had been cautious and unassertive with her when he had tied her up, a kindness that Jasmine had appreciated at the time, but now she wondered if that was what had been missing from their encounter, the piece of the puzzle that Cynthia possessed and Volkner did not...

“Turn around,” Cynthia demanded, and Jasmine obeyed without question or hesitation. She had not been given a chance to peek inside the box, to her frustration, leaving its contents a mystery.

Her ears caught a gentle rustling from behind her, but despite her curiosity she refrained from looking over her shoulder. Something told her that Cynthia would not be pleased if she tried it, and somehow not knowing what she was up to filled the gym leader with anticipation. She inhaled deeply, then exhaled, seeking in vain to steady her frayed nerves.

“Do you remember how I tied your hands last time?” Cynthia inquired, a fragment of that missing warmth sneaking back into her voice.

Jasmine nodded and placed her hands together behind her back, her palms facing inward. Of course she remembered. The sensations she had felt that day were branded into her memories.

“Good girl,” Cynthia cooed, unfolding a coil of thin red rope and moving directly behind her student. Her practiced hands began to wind the woven cord around Jasmine’s wrists, circling them and binding them together, much tighter this time than the last. Trying not to squirm as the rope scratched her skin, Jasmine closed her eyes and concentrated on the increasing feeling of helplessness as her freedom was taken away, one coil at a time...

Cinching the bindings between Jasmine’s wrists with a strictness she had not previously displayed, Cynthia gave her a few moments to test them before ordering her to turn back around. The quiet girl complied, still twisting her arms against the ropes as she moved...

Her brown eyes widened as she caught sight of the ball gag in Cynthia’s hand.

“You don’t like these, huh?” A predatory smile spread across the Champion’s lips as she dangled the red rubber ball in front of Jasmine’s face by its leather strap.

“No...” Jasmine’s wary gaze was locked on the gag, following it as it swayed back and forth in Cynthia’s grip. “They’re uncomfortable, and... and they make me... drool. It’s embarrassing.”

“A little discomfort and embarrassment are the least you’re in for.” Cynthia was unsympathetic, reveling in the opportunity to unleash her dominant side on her shy young friend. Hopefully Jasmine hadn’t forgotten the safe gesture she had been taught; they were moving into a phase that Cynthia knew the diminutive girl would find confronting. “Open wide, dear.”

Jasmine’s expression crumpled in dismay, but once again she obeyed the command she was given, opening her mouth and waiting to be gagged. As unpleasant as she had found her first encounter with a ball gag, the idea of being made to wear one against her will was oddly exciting to her. She was completely in Cynthia’s power, she reminded herself, her wrists straining vainly against the ropes binding them behind her back. Completely unable to resist...

She let out a trembling little moan as Cynthia pressed the gag between her lips, her jaw settling around the ball as if to welcome it into its home. It was larger than the one her boyfriend owned, she noted as her tongue explored the intruding object, and tasted strongly of rubber, but as Cynthia buckled the straps behind her head, digging into the corners of her lips and drawing the ball deeper into her mouth, she decided that she didn’t mind that much anymore. If the discomfort was being forced upon her by Cynthia, then it was okay.

“Sit down on the bed,” Cynthia ordered, reaching back into her box for something else.

Jasmine sat, trying to catch a glimpse of the contents of the box with her new perspective, but Cynthia saw her looking and turned the cardboard flaps upward to block her view. The older woman’s every tiny action left Jasmine in no doubt who was in charge, and she groaned in frustration, her curiosity denied. The rubber ball strapped inside her mouth stifled the sound into a dull little whine, to her chagrin, and she could feel saliva beginning to well around it, unable to swallow. Desperate to stop herself from drooling, she lifted her head and studied the ceiling...

“No, dear.” Cynthia’s tone was stern as her hands clasped the sides of Jasmine’s head, forcing it back to its previous position. “Eyes straight ahead.”

Grunting her resentful acceptance of this new restriction, Jasmine attempted to sit completely still as Cynthia began to tie her legs together with more rope, just as she had done the week before. This time, however, she did not stop at the ankles of her nervous student; more ropes found their way from the box and into the Champion’s hands, and soon she was binding Jasmine’s knees together as well, then her thighs, securing her legs to each other so tightly that she hadn’t a prayer of separating them.

“Can you move?”

Jasmine squirmed against the ropes, searching for the slightest hint of slack, but her bonds were inescapably taut. She shook her head.

“Do you like it?”

“Mmmnnn...” First she had lost the use of her arms, then the power of speech, and now she would find it impossible to walk, difficult even to stand. Half-naked in an unfamiliar room, the most private regions of her body hidden only by thin scraps of cotton, barely even able to keep from drooling on herself, Jasmine had never felt more vulnerable in her life. There was only one answer she could possibly give.

She nodded.

“Good. I think that will do for now, at least in terms of restraints.” Cynthia closed the flaps of her box of toys and placed it on the floor, sliding it under the bed with a gentle nudge of her boot. “However, there is still the matter of your punishment...”

“Mmnhh?” Confused, Jasmine shifted nervously in place...only for Cynthia’s earlier threat to return from her memories. She had not undressed quickly enough for the liking of her golden-haired mistress, and while she had forgotten the mention of punishment amid the excitement of being tied up once again, it appeared that Cynthia had not. A shiver of excitement traveled down Jasmine’s spine as she wondered what her cold-eyed captor had in mind for her.

To her surprise, the Champion’s next move was to sit down close beside her on the bed, a hand going to the young trainer’s shoulder and brushing at the loose strands of pale brown hair that had found their way there during her struggles. Comforted by this unexpectedly gentle gesture, Jasmine let her eyes slide closed, her lingering anxieties melting away as Cynthia’s fingers swept her hair behind her, gathering the lengthy tresses into a bunch, and tying something around them to hold them together in a ponytail. She didn’t question what was going on, completely relaxed and at peace despite her helplessness... or perhaps because of it.

She thought nothing of Cynthia’s arm slipping around her shoulders at first, simply enjoying the closeness with the woman she had confided so much in, but an embrace was not what the Champion had in mind. Her hold on the petite young woman grew more insistent by the moment, and Jasmine found herself being drawn even closer to Cynthia, her chest and head pushed down towards the older woman’s black-clad legs and then drawn over her knees...

In a matter of moments the gym leader was laid face-down across Cynthia’s lap, her legs and upper body dangling over the floor, her panty-clad rear propped shamefully towards the ceiling. Abruptly finding herself staring down at the carpet, Jasmine gave an uncertain little moan, trying to figure out what was going to happen to her. It was almost if Cynthia were planning to...

SMACK!

Her eyes shot wide open as something collided with her buttocks, the sound echoing violently through the bedroom, and it took her a long, pain-filled moment to realize that it had been the palm of Cynthia’s hand. She had spanked her, Jasmine realized as she reeled from the impact, her thoughts suddenly very muddled indeed.

Had she been asked in advance she would have been certain that she would hate this, but...

“Disobedient girls must pay the price,” Cynthia murmured, studying the bright pink mark now blossoming on the pale skin of Jasmine’s behind. In truth, her hesitation was only to give the girl a chance to adjust to the sensations now racing through her body... and an opportunity to cross her fingers and opt out of her punishment. This was leagues beyond the simple bondage she had shared with Jasmine a week ago, and she had not forgotten her true task; to find the young trainer’s limits, and push them as far as Jasmine would allow. Despite the ropes encircling her wrists and ankles and knees, the gag wedged between her lips and her state of undress and exposure, the ultimate control of the situation rested in Jasmine’s hands.

Her captive’s fingers curled toward her palms, but did not cross one another. Had she forgotten the signal to stop, or... was she...?

“Are you sure?” she whispered near Jasmine’s ear, hoping not to break the illusion that existed between them. She crossed her own fingers on one hand and moved them in front of Jasmine’s vision as a silent reminder.

“Mmm-hmmnn.” Jasmine gave the tiniest of nods; her fingers remained still. Despite the unexpected entry of pain into their game, she barely entertained the thought of ending it. She was drooling freely now, trails of gleaming saliva seeping from her gagged lips and dripping onto the carpet, but she was beginning to enjoy her humiliation. Cynthia was the regional Champion, a figure of prestige and power unrivaled in all of Sinnoh, yet here Jasmine was, half-naked, bound and debased before her... helpless to cover herself, stop herself from drooling, hide her shame from the one person she respected above all others...

It was mortifying... but liberating. The shy girl from Johto had always been consumed with worries about how she was perceived by others, as a person and a trainer and a girlfriend, but none of that mattered now. She was secure here, safe from harm and judgment, free to explore her wants-

SMACK!

She yelped, more drool leaking from her mouth as her body shuddered with the impact. She trusted Cynthia not to hurt her too badly, to stop if she asked her to-<

SMACK!

Her rear end was burning now, but the tingling sensation spreading through her tender behind was nothing compared to the one inside her chest-

SMACK!

She moaned in almost frantic dismay, the intensity building with every clap of palm against buttock, but she could take it, she had earned her punishment-

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! <

Could Volkner have ever made her feel like this? Would he have ever dared to try, even if she asked him to? As pain surged through her trembling body, clarity entered Jasmine’s mind, the temporary absence of her inhibitions allowing her to consider things she had not let herself dwell upon before. She had come here to sate her curiosity and to overcome her fears, but more than anything she was here because she wanted to please Volkner with her new willingness to let him bind her...

Did he want to hurt and degrade her as well, to visit these intoxicating feelings upon her helpless, willing body... or was this something she could only find in the clutches of Cynthia?

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK!

~ ~ ~

Jasmine buried her face in the softness of Cynthia’s pillow, utterly mortified.<

The strange emotional high that had overcome her while she was bent over Cynthia’s lap had faded, leaving the cheeks of her face as scarlet as those of her behind. Had that really just happened? Had she really let this woman - the Champion of Sinnoh - tie her up and spank her like an unruly child?

She was nineteen years old, for goodness’ sake! An adult! A Gym Leader! It was unthinkable!

But she had gone along with it, and even in the painful aftermath she didn’t truly regret it. Shame was not regret. She had accepted the ropes, accepted the gag, submitted to her punishment without complaint. She had enjoyed being disciplined, enjoyed the helplessness and humiliation... and given the opportunity, she knew that she would do it again.

It had been Cynthia’s idea, after all, not hers. Jasmine had willingly placed herself in the older woman’s care, knowing that she would be put through things that she might not understand, encouraging her to do as she pleased, but the idea had come from Cynthia. There was no real reason to be ashamed, not while only the two of them knew what had transpired in the seclusion of Cynthia’s bedroom...

“So...”

Jasmine felt a weight press down on the bed beside her, and a moment later found herself being lifted from the pillow and into a sitting position upon Cynthia’s lap. The blonde trainer was smiling serenely, her dominant persona locked safely away once more. “What did you think, Jasmine? Tell me all about it.”

“Mrrgh...” Jasmine gave her captor an exasperated stare, unamused by her gentle teasing. The ball gag was still strapped tightly between her lips, the red rubber sphere wet with her saliva, and with her hands tied snugly behind her back there was no way for her to remove it. She was still as tightly bound as before, and still as embarrassingly undressed, Jasmine didn’t truly mind anymore. She felt completely secure like this, even comfortable. Others might have laughed or scorned her for it, but Cynthia...

Cynthia was still laughing, but there was no malice or ridicule in it, only playful amusement. Her hands began to wander through Jasmine’s hair once again, gently brushing the pale brown strands, unbinding them from their ponytail and letting them fall free against her back. “It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me. That just means I’ll have to punish you again later...”

Jasmine had slipped into a trance-like calm as Cynthia toyed with her hair, her gaze half-lidded and unfocused, but her eyes shot open at the mere mention of additional punishment. “P-punshh?”

“That’s right,” Cynthia purred, her fingers wandering to the top of Jasmine’s head and plucking the twin decorations from her hair. Jasmine let out a muffled whine as her trademark tufts drooped loose over her cheeks, but did not struggle. “We’re not finished yet,” the elder woman went on, her fingertips trailing down Jasmine’s face until they reached her lips, where drool had begun to gather around the surface of her gag once again. “You can still stop this at any time, of course... and I feel that I need to remind you of that, because I will be meaner this time.”

That gave Jasmine pause, but her curiosity won out. If she turned back now, she might never have this chance again... and Cynthia had earned her complete, utter trust. She nodded.

“I thought so.” Cynthia’s warm eyes gleamed with satisfaction. “I knew that you were a natural submissive from the moment we met. Some people hide it well, but you... well, it wasn’t hard to tell.”

Jasmine’s face burned, but she could hardly disagree. Not after what had happened tonight.

“I’m glad you can admit it,” The Champion cooed, her fingers working at the knots at Jasmine’s wrists. “The faster you accept that part of yourself, the better it will be for you and Volkner both. Now... I will give you an opportunity to go to the bathroom once I get these ropes off of you, and I do recommend you take it. You won’t get another chance for a while.”

“Mmhhh...” Jasmine nodded again, wishing that she had a better way of expressing herself. She hadn’t minded wearing the ball gag at Cynthia’s command while she was at the blonde woman’s mercy, but her aching jaw demanded a reprieve and she wanted to reclaim the ability to speak, even temporarily. When the ropes around her wrists were sufficiently loosened, the first thing she did was reach beneath her hair for the buckle, intent on removing the uncomfortable rubber sphere from her straining mouth.

Cynthia’s eyes narrowed. “No.”

Jasmine groaned, but let her hands drop.

“The gag stays in until you come back from the bathroom,” Cynthia chided, her dexterous fingers already working on unfastening the ropes around Jasmine’s knees. Her thighs were already unbound, she noticed; the Champion really was amazingly quick with her hands. “If I hear you complain again, I do own a larger one...”

That was enough to keep Jasmine quiet for the next few minutes as Cynthia untied her remaining bindings. Making the gag a part of the game again somehow made it a little more tolerable to wear, even when it became impossible for her to hold back the saliva welling around the rubber ball, when a familiar wetness began to slide down her chin and drip onto her chest. If anybody else were watching her, the humiliation would be too much to stand, but if it was Cynthia...

A twinge of guilt flared within her as she realized just how much she had come to trust the older woman. More than even Volkner, perhaps. She had put herself in this situation as much for her boyfriend as for herself at first, but as she became more and more comfortable in Cynthia’s presence, as she opened up to her in a way she never had with Volkner, it was beginning to feel almost like a betrayal.

“Jasmine?”<

“Mmh?” Jasmine blinked, snapping out of her reverie. The last coils of rope had left her ankles while she was lost in thought; other than her gag, she was now completely unbound.

“Bathroom, dear.” Cynthia’s words were equal parts gentle prodding and stern command as she pushed Jasmine to her feet and stood up behind her, turning the petite girl towards the door to the upstairs hallway. “I’m going to close the bedroom door behind you, and you will knock and await my consent before you enter. If you do not, I will punish you. If you remove your gag while you are out, I will punish you. If you take too long, I will punish you. Are we clear?”

“Hmmmgh...” Jasmine gave a meek nod, despite her growing uncertainty. Did she want to be punished again? She had enjoyed it the first time, although her still-throbbing buttocks begged to differ, but Cynthia had outright warned her that she would be a harsher mistress this time. Just how far did she plan to go? The thought of what might await her sparked anxious little thrills in the pit of her stomach, fueled as much by anticipation as by fear...

Jasmine. The clock is ticking.”

The icy tone of Cynthia’s voice startled the already nervous gym leader into motion. She did not need to turn back to look to know that the Champion had stepped back into her dominant persona, a transformation that she seemed able to undergo as quickly and easily as switching on a light... nor did she need the tingling chill that twisted within her chest to tell her that immediate obedience was the wisest choice.<

~ ~ ~

As she closed the bedroom door behind Jasmine, Cynthia briefly contemplated locking it from the inside as well. The corners of her lips curled upward as she imagined her quiet young submissive knocking frantically on the door, begging for entry through her gag as her limited time ran out.

It was an idea that she would reluctantly discard, if only because giving Jasmine the chance to fail by forgetting to knock before entering pleased her more.

That was what she told herself as she returned to her wardrobe in search of more ‘supplies’, but it did not take her long to concede that it wasn’t the whole truth. The reality was a lot less comfortable.

She had taken a liking to Jasmine, and not merely as a friend.<

There was no doubt in her mind that it was wrong. Even disregarding the significant age difference between them, a fact that bothered her more than she had expected it to, Jasmine was the girlfriend of another of her close friends, someone that she had known for years. Cynthia had never intended to form feelings stronger than friendship for the shy young woman from Johto - her aim had been to ease the strain she had sensed in the relationship between Jasmine and Volkner, not to make it worse - but she had become closer to Jasmine in one week than she did to most people in a year. Or ever.

Was she in love? She sincerely hoped that it was nothing more than a passing fancy. The arrangement they shared now was enjoyable enough for her, and apparently for Jasmine as well. Cynthia had absolutely no desire to complicate it now, and that meant stifling her innermost feelings, no matter how strong they became. A difficult proposition when she would soon see Jasmine in her undergarments once again, when she would tie her up and gag her and introduce her to more new experiences she would normally have reserved for a lover...

She wondered if Volkner even knew about their encounters. She hadn’t spoken to him since the day she met Jasmine a week ago, and Jasmine had hinted that she was keeping them a secret from him, waiting until he left on a trip to call and ask for help. The idea of going behind her friend’s back and doing such intimate things with his girlfriend made her feel guilty, of course, but she could not forget that it was for his benefit as well as Jasmine’s in the end...

And her own. She benefited from this as much as either of the young couple, she reminded herself as she prepared the last of her toys for use. She was not offering her services to Jasmine purely out of altruism, not anymore; their first lesson in the timid girl’s own bedroom in Sunyshore, mild as it had been, had awakened desires left dormant for far too long. Making Jasmine hers even for a little while, watching her squirm in her ropes and hearing her moans and cries, satisfied those desires in a way that nothing else could. All three of them - Cynthia, Jasmine and Volkner - profited from this arrangement, even if only two of them knew that it even existed.

That’s fair, isn’t it?

The sound of delicate knuckles rapping tentatively on the bedroom door drew Cynthia out of her confused thoughts, returning the smile to her face. This was what Jasmine wanted, after all. This had been her idea.

~ ~ ~

“Welcome back,” Cynthia purred, though the predatory gleam in her eyes was hardly welcoming at all.

Nervous smiles and thank-yous were beyond Jasmine as she stepped back into the bedroom, her mouth still opened wide by the ball gag strapped between her straining lips. She had been given the opportunity to remove the drool-coated sphere when she was in the bathroom and out of Cynthia’s sight, but she hadn’t dared to chance it; something told her that Cynthia would know if she defied her. It was much safer for her to leave the gag alone, despite the ache resonating through her jawbone.

The strange twinge of excitement she felt at being forced to follow such an uncomfortable order didn’t hurt, either.<

“Close the door, Jasmine,” the Champion commanded, and the younger girl obeyed at once, sealing them off into their own little world once more.

Nervous moments passed in silence. Cynthia gave no more orders, seemingly content to watch Jasmine as she stood and fidgeted and drooled on her half-bared chest. Jasmine blushed and averted her eyes, her self-consciousness returning in full force from wherever it had hidden itself in the last half-hour. She wasn’t used to being looked at so closely by anybody but her boyfriend, and certainly not with such a small collection of clothing on her slender frame...

“Are you ready to take the gag off?” Cynthia asked at last.<

Jasmine nodded fervently, reaching behind her head for the leather band and buckle.<

“Not quite yet...” Cynthia warned, and smiled as Jasmine’s hands reluctantly dropped away. ”If you want to take it off, you’re going to have to do something for me first.”

“Hmmh?” Uncertainty bloomed within the gym leader’s deep brown eyes.

“Strip.”

...What!?

Jasmine’s insides turned to ice. Cynthia’s merciless gaze left no doubt that she meant it, and that she was growing more impatient by the second... but Jasmine was still barely comfortable with her current state of undress. She paled at the thought of being completely naked in front of her friend, the League Champion, and it barely mattered that she was a woman. She couldn’t possibly mean it, not really...

Cynthia frowned, taking a single step towards her. A warning. “I gave you an order, Jasmine, and I do not see your fingers crossed. Are you really going to disobey me again?”

“Mmgh...” No, she couldn’t defy Cynthia now, not at this late stage. Even for this. Though her cheeks burned with embarrassment, Jasmine let her hands slip behind her back, her fingers teasing loose the tiny clasp of her bra. Shame and shyness conspired to hold her back, but the feel of her still-sore behind and the air against her almost bare body reminded her of how far she had already come tonight. Stripping herself naked shouldn’t mean so much when this woman had already bound her in ropes, taken her over her knee and spanked her barely-clothed bottom as if she were a disobedient child...

She shrugged her bra from her narrow shoulders, dropping it onto the bed as Cynthia watched and smiled. The exposure of her small breasts only made her face heat further, the urge to cover them with her arms almost overpowering, but she bit down on her lip and lowered her eyes, her hands balled into fists at her sides. She was shamefully conscious of the gradual rise and hardening of her nipples, aware of her modest size compared to the chests of other women, and fear had begun to creep up on her anew as she displayed herself before Cynthia, as she had never done for anyone before. Fear of being laughed at, or rejected, or that she had done something terribly wrong after all.

The lengthening silence only made it worse. If only Cynthia would say something, anything, to set her at ease...

The Champion obliged, imperious and cold. “You are forgetting something.”

As rebukes went, that was at the lighter end of the scale. Relief swept over Jasmine, almost euphoric in its intensity, overwhelming her shame and anxiety and shutting both into the deepest corners of her mind. Her heightened emotions dulled her embarrassment enough that it felt almost natural to hook her thumbs into the band of her panties and slip them down her thighs, quickly tossing the little garment on top of her other clothes. She felt Cynthia’s gaze on her flesh, taking in the entirety of her body for the first time, and lowered her gaze to the carpet again - not in mortification this time, but in submission.

“Very good.” Only the thinnest trace of warmth inhabited Cynthia’s words as she drew close to the young woman, her fully clothed state a stark contrast to Jasmine’s nudity. She smiled an iron smile as a thread of drool seeped from Jasmine’s gag-stretched lips, watching as it trailed down the innocent girl’s chin and dripped into the shallow little valley between her small breasts. She said nothing as Jasmine’s cheeks heated, the sight of her light pink blush only stirring the Champion’s desires, the girl’s rosy nipples and the downy chestnut hair between her narrow thighs proving almost irresistible temptations. Her heart raced at the knowledge that this pretty, submissive maiden had willingly placed herself in her power, and had outright asked her to take control of her...

She had never seen anyone look as vulnerable as the young gym leader did right now, naked and drooling and staring at the floor, her cheeks stained pink and her lips locked tightly around the red rubber ball strapped inside her mouth. Cynthia’s desires were taking control, her dominant nature fully awakened. Oh, what she would do to this girl...<

“You may remove the gag,” she declared at last, the only kindness Jasmine would receive from her anytime soon. “But I warn you not to get used to it.”

“Mnnh.” Both grateful and slightly disappointed, Jasmine reached behind her head for the buckle with both hands, unfastening it with some effort. The ball slipped loose from her aching mouth, soaked with her saliva, and she handed it to Cynthia, rubbing her jaw and wiping her lips clean of drool. She had hated ball gags when they began, as she had told her mistress, but as uncomfortable and humiliating as it had been to be forced to wear one, she could not deny that she had enjoyed it a little, too.

Cynthia tossed the ball gag onto the bed, not bothering to wipe it clean of Jasmine’s saliva. “Turn around.”<

“Yes, ma’am.” Her voice muffled by the rubber sphere for the better part of an hour, hearing the sound of her own voice felt almost like a luxury for Jasmine. She turned to face the door, her petite body tingling with excitement, her nipples hardening further from arousal and the gentle touch of air. What was going to happen to her? The anticipation alone was driving her mad.

She heard footsteps on the carpet behind her, and then a pair of arms about her waist, dragging her back against a stronger, warmer body. Long strands of lustrous blonde hair hung loose over Jasmine’s shoulders, tickling her cheeks and taunting her nose with Cynthia’s sweet fragrance. The older woman’s breasts pressed against Jasmine’s shoulder blades, separated from the gym leader’s skin by only a few layers of smooth black cloth. Her nerves returned as she realized her position, setting her body to trembling within the embrace. Even this was more than she had ever done with her boyfriend. Her face must be scarlet by now...<

Cynthia’s hands rose from the shaking girl’s stomach, sliding up over her chest to cup her breasts. Her palms dwarfed the little mounds as they squeezed, a test of Jasmine’s acceptance, and the gym leader choked out a tiny gasp as dexterous fingers toyed with her nipples. Something within her rebelled at being touched so intimately, even by someone she trusted so completely, but it felt... good. Better than she had expected. She tried to settle down, letting Cynthia do as she wished, enjoying the little spikes of pleasure darting through her breasts as her nipples were pinched and squeezed.<

Pleased that her fun hadn’t been denied her, Cynthia moved her hands further up Jasmine’s chest, grazing her neck on their way to her delicate face. Lulled into complacency by their languid movements, Jasmine started to relax, losing herself in the strange warmth flooding through her body... only to cry out as Cynthia struck, as fast and sure as a snake. One hand was clamped over her mouth, the other covering her eyes, leaving Jasmine whimpering in the unforgiving grasp of her mistress as the initial surge of adrenaline faded. Her own hands flew upward to meet those of her golden-haired captor, only to be warned away by a disapproving tsk. She was not to interfere.<

“Keep your eyes closed.” A cloud of warm air accompanied Cynthia’s husky whisper, the older woman’s lips a mere inch from Jasmine’s ear. A grunt of acknowledgment came in reply, and Cynthia removed her hand from the maiden’s eyes, then let her other slip loose from her lips. The girl took the hint, remaining blind and silent as Cynthia reached into her pocket and drew out a long white scarf, the silk shimmering in the artificial light as she lifted it over Jasmine’s head.

She held her breath as the blindfold was tied tight over her eyes, letting Cynthia knot the scarf behind her head without so much as a protest. This new vulnerability drove her to new heights of anticipation, her bare skin tingling, the same six words playing through her mind over and over again. They were spoken in the Champion’s voice, as confident and sure as the woman herself. I will be meaner this time.

Footsteps on the carpet again, away and then shortly back to her. Even had she not been blind, Jasmine would never have dared to turn her head without permission; instead she stared off into space she could not see, waiting for the return of her mistress with eager ears and a trembling body. She shook all the more as she felt Cynthia’s warmth against her back, and a teasing finger rubbing against her perked nipple, nudging and rolling. The tiny thread of pleasure made her gasp, and her ears picked up a delighted little chuckle from behind her.

Then, icy cold.<

Jasmine squeaked at the touch of something frigid against her sensitive little nub, jolting her out of her pleasant daze. She couldn’t see it with the scarf tied over her eyes, but whatever it was, she could tell that it was flat and metallic. She could feel more of its surface against the smooth flesh of her breast as it was moved closer to her chest, chilling the warmth from her body, and a moment later an identical surface was pressed up against her other nipple as well, enveloping it in a sudden, sharp wave of cold. Jasmine bit down on her lip, her discomfort and arousal growing as one. Such little things, but such a reaction...

“Can you guess what this is?” Cynthia questioned, her tone no warmer than the metal. A faint metal clinking filled the air around her words.

Jasmine shook her head, afraid to speak, her thoughts too disarrayed to come to a conclusion. The loss of her sight had elevated her other senses, leaving her agitated by the contrast of the cold seeping into her nipples and the heat of Cynthia’s body against her own. Flustered and confused.

The Champion chuckled against her neck. “Let me show you, then.”

A sigh of relief left Jasmine’s parted lips as the metal was withdrawn from her breasts, leaving her nipples raised and hard in its wake. Yet even the tiny waves of air disturbed by Cynthia’s slow movements sent tiny thrills through the protruding little nubs, leaving her body aching for a much warmer touch and one further south than her chest. What had gotten into her, she wondered through her clouded mind? She was never this easy to arouse. Would she even be upset if Cynthia decided to touch her down there, in defiance of all she had believed about herself?

Something cold and hard closed around her wrist with a snap.

Handcuffs? Too late, Jasmine realized what was going on. The small chain jingled as her arm was drawn behind her back and shackled to its twin, locking her once again into helplessness. That familiar little shiver of excitement returned as she put up a token struggle against the cuffs, trying and failing to tug her wrists loose, knowing that she was once again in Cynthia’s power and a hostage to her whims. The handcuffs gave her a little more room to move than she had with the ropes, it was true, but they were hardly as soft as those bindings had been. The feeling of captivity was strengthened by the knowledge that no knife or scissors or convenient sharp object could free her - only the key, in the keeping of her mistress.

“Stay,” Cynthia commanded. Again her footsteps receded, and again Jasmine waited for her return in silence, unmoving, lost in a whirl of emotion and desire. She could hear Cynthia sorting through something, the shifting of leather and metal and cloth, and her imagination began to take over, filling her head with fanciful thoughts of just what her beautiful captor might want to do to her...

So consumed by her wandering thoughts was Jasmine that the low, melodic voice against her ear made her jump and squeak in alarm. “Open your hand, dear.”

“H-huh...?” Jasmine obeyed, letting her right hand open from its tight little fist. Several minutes had passed since she had been liberated from the ball gag, but she was barely more talkative now than she had been before. Speaking seemed a trespass, disobedience of an order Cynthia had never given her, and while punishment was no longer something that she feared, not if it was anything like the spanking Cynthia had inflicted on her before, Jasmine wished to please her mistress more than anything else.

...More than anything else? When did that happen?

Cynthia shifted behind her, and Jasmine found something pressed into her open palm. Her fingers closed around it on instinct, cautiously probing its surface to discern what it might be. It was made out of some sort of plastic, perhaps an inch thick and almost three in length, faintly cylindrical but lined with little ridges, ending in a smooth and bulbous head...

The gym leader’s cheeks blazed red. It... it was shaped like a...!

“I see you know what this is,” Cynthia murmured, deeply amused at the mortification staining the poor girl’s face. “Though I’m sure you’ve never touched the real thing before, am I right?”<

Jasmine shook her head, her fingers shrinking back from the surface of the phallic device. She had never done anything so lewd, never even seen her boyfriend without his clothes, and despite all that had happened here within Cynthia’s bedroom, touching even something merely penis-shaped was enough to bring back the shy, timid girl who had come to the Champion’s door so tense and fearful. “What are you... going to do with that?”

Cynthia did not reply. Instead, she tugged the plastic protrusion out of Jasmine’s hand, circling around to stand in front of her and watching the girl’s naked, trembling form. Seconds passed, then a minute, inhaled and exhaled breaths the only sounds as Jasmine grew more and more anxious. She could hear little, see nothing at all, and if she could no longer feel the imitation manhood against her palm, then where was it now? <

Something hard and rounded pressed against her lips.

Jasmine didn’t need her eyesight to tell her what it was, and she instinctively turned her head away, blushing even more fiercely than before. It followed her, of course, never leaving the entrance to her mouth, constantly prodding and rubbing her lips no matter which way she turned. There seemed to be no escape, but despite being well aware of what Cynthia wanted her to do, Jasmine kept her mouth sealed shut. No, no, this was too embarrassing. Even now.

Something else grazed against her nipple after a few moments of refusal, toying with the delicate bud. Jasmine almost cried out in surprise at the unexpected touch, but the presence of the thing against her lips stilled her tongue. Not giving up so easily, Cynthia’s finger danced about her breast, teasing and flicking her nipple, attempting to coax a little sound out of the handcuffed maiden, but even the little spark of excitement her ministrations awoke within Jasmine failed to get her to lower her guard. Nor did she budge even when Cynthia captured the rosy nub between her thumb and forefinger, or when she began to squeeze...

Only when she gave it a vicious little twist did Jasmine falter.

The momentary parting of the young trainer’s lips as she yelped in surprise and pain was all the opportunity Cynthia needed. The protrusion was forced deep into her mouth, filling up the limited space within and muting her squeal of dismay, and she felt leather on her scarlet face as a pair of straps were stretched over her cheeks, drawn behind her head and buckled in place to hold the intruder inside. So it was a gag all along... and an effective one. She could barely even move her tongue beneath the stiff plastic phallus, and every time she did, the reminder of just what it was shaped to resemble brought a new wave of shame crashing over her. She had actually let the horrid thing inside her mouth...

“It suits you,” Cynthia approved, her voice moving about as she spoke. She was heading behind Jasmine again, back to her toys, and the younger woman felt her heart rate increase at the thought of what might be coming next. She was handcuffed, blindfolded and gagged... but even with the many kinds of discomfort the gag was causing her, this was nowhere close to being as strict as before, hardly worse as Cynthia had promised.

What was she planning?

~ ~ ~<

With every passing moment, Cynthia found it more difficult to conceal her growing excitement.

Jasmine had been pretty before, her slim body clothed in white and blue, her brown hair rising in cute little tufts and flowing down her back to her waist, her doe-like eyes filled with doubt and curiosity, but now... now just to look at her stole away the Champion’s breath. It was fortunate that the girl could not see her in turn, for the lust that burned within Cynthia’s gaze would surely have shamed them both.

The young gym leader stood near the center of the bedroom, her naked form trembling gently with anticipation, the chain between her handcuffs jingling faintly as she shifted. Blinded by the scarf tied over her eyes, silenced by the lewdest gag in her captor’s collection, Jasmine had placed herself entirely at Cynthia’s mercy and invited her to do as she pleased. She was completely vulnerable, and despite her bold words and the experiences they had already shared this night, clearly still afraid.

Beautiful.

For a moment she considered teasing Jasmine, toying with the poor girl’s body while she stood unable to resist, but Cynthia had resolved to be far stricter this time and she had no intention of deviating from that now. No furtive squirms or cute little mewls were worth blunting the lesson that she meant to teach.

Jasmine was right to be afraid this time. The crueler side of Cynthia’s nature was awakening, bringing with it a wave of familiar needs and wants and urges, and this time she would let them off their leash. Playing with Jasmine so far had been amusing, taking in her reactions to being so tightly bound and gagged and spanked over the Champion’s knee, but she could take the timid little gym leader so much further, and had outright promised to do so. Jasmine had consented, and she knew how to make it stop if it became too much for her. There was no more reason to hold back.

Excitement surged within her, demanding she act.

Light steps carried her behind Jasmine once again, keeping the blindfolded young woman unaware of her mistress’ movements. Her unease was palpable, betrayed by the swift rise and fall of her exposed chest and the thin layer of sweat upon her pale skin. Shivering not from cold, but from anticipation. Just the way Cynthia wanted her.

Her breasts really were very small, the Champion mused as she lurked behind the unaware Jasmine, listening intently for the girl’s increasingly uncertain moans. It was easy to tell that she was embarrassed about her diminutive mounds - Cynthia had always had a keen sense for the self-consciousness of others - but the longer her gaze lingered on Jasmine’s chest, the more Cynthia wanted to touch them, if only to hear the noises she would make. Her fingers eagerly flexed at her sides, then slowly rose, drifting around Jasmine’s body and gliding over her breasts...

The muffled squeal of surprise was even more adorable than she had hoped it would be. Cynthia wanted more.

Jasmine’s torrid little breaths as she pressed herself against the palms of her mistress told her that she was not the only one. Smiling a smile that the girl would never see, she settled her hands over Jasmine’s chest, her warm fingers gently kneading and squeezing, expertly teasing and toying with her body, pinching and tugging on her nipples as she pulled the young woman close against her body. Though her motions were guided by instinct, her mind shutting out all unnecessary thoughts as her body warmed with her own arousal, everything Cynthia did was precisely calculated to drive her submissive companion towards sensuous new heights. Jasmine panted, moaned, her slender body rigid and trembling even as Cynthia began to guide her across the room, around the bed and towards the Champion’s box of toys.

Still blindfolded by the scarf tied tightly over her eyes, Jasmine could not know what was coming until it was too late.

One hand still easing her captive’s breasts, switching from one to another and back again, Cynthia’s other had wandered to the box and drawn out a pair of small metal clamps, linked to one another with a thin silver chain, the jaws lined with tiny rubber teeth. These were toys she had hesitated to use on Jasmine just yet, but the younger girl had been very clear on her desire to be pushed towards her limits, an invitation that Cynthia’s sadistic side could not refuse.

Those cruel little jaws hovered over Jasmine’s hardened nipple, slowly descending, positioning themselves on either side of the vulnerable little nub... and snapped shut.

“NNNNNNNHH!” Jasmine’s head turned skyward as her agonized scream was blunted by the plastic phallus jammed inside her mouth, but her cry of pain and shock was still perfectly audible to her tormentor. A quick glance down at her fingers revealed that they had still not crossed - she had been half-expecting it, but this shy young woman surprised her once again - and with this knowledge in mind, Cynthia leaned over Jasmine’s shoulder, her lips grazing against the squirming, mewling girl’s ear, and whispered...<

“I warned you.”

Jasmine’s reply was an incoherent murmur, the girl still plainly reeling from the pain that had exploded through her breast. She was shaking, sweating, her breathing anxious and hurried. Aware that her senses had been heightened all the more, Cynthia grinned to herself as she moved the second clamp into position over Jasmine’s other nipple and let it close.

Her howling was no quieter the second time around, the girl bouncing in place as those mean little jaws bit savagely into her overly vigilant bud. Jasmine understood now why she had been blindfolded, why her breasts had been so well cared for by her mistress; Cynthia had been anticipating this, making them all the more sensitive for the pain that was to come.

Oh, had it ever paid off.

“Good girl,” Cynthia cooed, almost proud of Jasmine’s resilience in the face of such discomfort. “Do you want me to take them off?”

Jasmine hastily nodded, though her fingers remained bunched into small, white-knuckled fists. “Mm-hmm!”

“Too bad.” Cynthia pulled herself away from Jasmine’s quivering little body, grasping the chain between the clamps and bringing it along with her as she walked towards the nearest corner of the room. The devious devices tightened still further as their mechanisms were stretched to their limits, drawing yet another squeal of pain from the young gym leader as terrible thorns of pain that had finally begun to dull flared up once more. She had no choice but to follow, blinded as she was, in the direction that her mistress silently commanded.

A few moments of being led by her aching breasts passed before Jasmine felt herself brought to a halt, the taut chain attached to her clamps mercifully falling loose against her stomach. Cynthia’s hands grasped her narrow shoulders, turning her around and guiding her into a new position. “That’s far enough, dear. I have a surprise for you.”

“Mnnhh?” Her muffled little query was apprehensive, fearful.

A thrill rippled through Cynthia’s body. “Don’t worry,” she comforted, her hands reaching up into the younger woman’s chestnut hair and picking at the knot of her blindfold. “This one won’t hurt.”

The scarf fell away, and Jasmine’s deep brown eyes grew wide.

So too did the eyes of the girl reflected in the full-length mirror before her. They had seen each other thousands of times in the past, in the bedroom and the bathroom, in window panes and tranquil waters, but never before like this. Never naked and disheveled, her skin flushed bright with arousal, hands bound, mouth and cheeks concealed by thick leather, nipples pinched and sore...

Was that even her?

Wouldn’t the real Jasmine be pleading for release, angry and humiliated? Would it not be tears she saw in those widened eyes, rather than lust?

“Do you want to keep going?” Cynthia loomed behind, a golden-haired demon, her fingers stroking Jasmine’s soft brown locks.

A pause, not half as lengthy as she might have once imagined. Then, a nod.

Cynthia chuckled, slipping her arms around Jasmine’s stomach, drawing the smaller girl back into herself. The warmth of her captor’s body against hers and the dance of heated breath against her ear drew Jasmine deeper into a zone of reassurance and comfort, awareness of her total vulnerability never receding, but ceasing to matter. Even the ache in her breasts as they were menaced by their clamps had faded with time, now less daggers of agony and more a persistent throb.

Even now, this was what she wanted.

~ ~ ~

“Still haven’t changed your mind?”

“Hnn-nhh...”

“Brave girl.”

“Mmh...”

For a shy girl forced into such a provocative position, Cynthia had to admit that Jasmine was showing admirable fortitude. Bent over the foot of the Champion’s bed, her ankles spread wide and lashed to the lower corners, the young trainer’s upper half had been laid flat on her stomach across the covers, her arms stretched over her head and fastened by lengthy ropes to the higher end of the frame. The muffled murmurs and squeaks barely audible from behind her gag hinted at her considerable discomfort, a sensation surely not helped by the way her bony haunches rose into the air above, every inch of her private areas wantonly displayed. The clamps were gone - though Jasmine’s small breasts remained sore in their absence - and the blindfold had returned to its place over her eyes, sealing her back into darkness.

Cynthia knew from experience how vulnerable Jasmine must be feeling, spread helplessly across the bed, blind and silenced, her limbs strained taut, powerless to protect a body all too open to attack. It was half the reason she had chosen to inflict this position on her, then left her to stew in her fear, ramping up her apprehension and excitement with every passing second.<

The other reason, of course, was personal appeal... but if Jasmine hadn’t already guessed that, Cynthia wasn’t about to share it. Even now, beneath her stoic facade, the Champion’s feelings whirled about within her chest, straining to break free of bonds of their own. This wasn’t right. Jasmine was Volkner’s girlfriend, not hers. She had volunteered to do this for Jasmine to strengthen the relationship between the two gym leaders, not to add fuel to the fire of her own wayward feelings.

Damn it. Surely she wasn’t this selfish?

She chewed on her lip as she leaned over Jasmine, gathering the girl’s chestnut hair into a ponytail, wrapping a hair-tie around the silky strands to keep them tightly bunched. It was at times like this that she was glad for the presence of the blindfold; she couldn’t let Jasmine see any trace of her inner turmoil, for the sake of the illusion of the merciless dominant and the sake of their friendship.

No. No, she was stronger than this. Even if she had developed feelings for Jasmine - and that was a very big if, she forced herself to note - such things could be pushed aside and ignored. Had to be. Shaking her head to clear away treacherous, lustful thoughts, Cynthia renewed her focus on her current task.

Test Jasmine’s limits. Teach her. Make sure she enjoyed herself.<

Yes, she could do all of those.

Seizing her captive’s new ponytail, Cynthia gave the chestnut strands a gentle tug at first, then a more insistent yank, jerking her head backward with just enough force to hurt. A mewling groan was her reward, muffled by the plastic phallus in Jasmine’s mouth but still deliciously discomfited, the pain that must surely be shooting through her scalp driving the girl to another bout of fruitless thrashing.

Even so, she still had not crossed her fingers and signaled for this to stop. Even after everything.

You must really be enjoying this. Who’d have thought it, back when we first met?

The triangular tip grazed against the pale skin of Jasmine’s thigh on its way to the curves of her buttocks, a teasing little touch aimed to leave her fretting over what might be coming next. The girl shivered, shifting slightly in her tight bonds, tensing as the foreign sensation gradually traced her body’s contours.

Cynthia smiled, lifting the tip away from Jasmine’s rear, poising to strike. “You may want to brace yourself.”

We have all night, dear Jasmine.

The Final Occasion...?

So this is the last time we’ll get to do this.

The sight of Jasmine helplessly wriggling about atop Cynthia’s bed, her skinny arms and legs lashed together behind her back in a mercilessly-tight hogtie, should have brought the Champion a great deal more pleasure than it did tonight. There was something about the diminutive gym leader that inflamed her passions like no other could, whether it was her shy innocence, her earnest determination to push her limits, or simply something more physical; whatever it was, binding and tormenting the younger girl had become one of Cynthia’s favorite pursuits in the months since their first awkward, stumbling session.

Tonight, her heart simply wasn’t in it, because tonight was Jasmine’s last night in the Sinnoh region.

Cynthia had known that it was coming for a while now. Jasmine was from the Johto region, halfway across the country, and she had never intended to remain here forever, even after she had met and fallen in love with a local gym leader, Volkner. Still a gym leader herself, with her share of responsibilities back in her native Olivine City, there was no way that Jasmine could have stayed away forever... and now the Ampharos that lived within the local lighthouse had fallen sick. As usual, it would accept no caretaker but her.

Yes, Cynthia had always known that this day would come... but she had always assumed that Jasmine would return frequently to spend time with her lover. The last thing she had expected was for Volkner to resign as a gym leader, pack up his things and move back to Johto with her.

It was fortunate that she had seen fit to hood Jasmine after binding her. The last thing Cynthia wanted her to see was the wistful look on her face and guess at the feelings she was hiding away.

She made herself watch Jasmine more closely, trying to enjoy herself a little more, for the younger woman’s sake if not her own. It wasn’t as if the show that Jasmine was putting on here wasn’t appealing; the tight black latex hood clung fast to the contours of her face, sealing her into a dark little world of her own, and the gag hidden beneath the mask did a wonderful job of turning her frustrated moans into muffled, sloppy little grunts. The only holes in the hood were fitted against her nose, the two tiny dots in the smooth, shiny blackness only just enough for her to suck in precious air. She was obviously incredibly uncomfortable and there was an urgency to the way she struggled against the hogtie, but Jasmine’s fingers remained uncrossed, the signal to let her free not yet given.

Observing her like this did give Cynthia a thrill even now, she had to admit, but playing the dominant for Jasmine was getting harder by the moment. Every second that slipped away cracked her facade a little more, threatening to break it to pieces if she thought too hard about the feelings she was trying to bury.

This is my own fault. You’re only nineteen, and my friend’s lover... how could I let myself fall for you?

But she had, and now she would be left to deal with cold, hard reality. Alone.<

The unpalatable truth was that even if Jasmine remained in Sinnoh forever, she would almost certainly never return the feelings Cynthia had for her. After all, her relationship with Volkner was already so far advanced that he was moving to Johto to be with her...<

That didn’t mean that the relationship would last forever, but Cynthia refused to dwell on the possibility that the two of them might break up. She had not sunk to the level of wishing that on the happy couple, and she hoped that she never would.<

Yes, Cynthia. You’ll make that moral stand, but you’re perfectly okay with ogling her without her knowledge, huh?

It wasn’t her fault, she tried to tell herself. She needed to keep a close eye on Jasmine while she was bound and hooded, and if the girl’s writhing struggles had caused the skirt of her trademark white sundress to ride up from her knees to her thighs, and Cynthia’s eyes were inevitably drawn to the sight of the petite girl’s simple white panties and the shallow curves of her slight body beneath, that didn’t mean that she could abandon her duty and look away. She’d seen much more of Jasmine than this, anyway, even if the gym leader had never known that she was taking sexual pleasure from the sight.

Still, it was definitely for the best that Jasmine couldn’t see a thing right now. What had started out as a swift glance had drawn out into a very long, very hungry stare as the girl squirmed about before Cynthia’s voyeuristic eyes.

Maybe I can’t have you, Jasmine, but after everything I’ve done for you, all the fears I’ve helped you to overcome... all the times I’ve had to pretend I care for you only as a friend, even while you were naked in my bedroom, trustingly offering your hands for me to tie... this is fair, isn’t it? You can’t tell me I don’t deserve this, at least.

It took her a few moments to realize that she was fondling herself through her pants, and a few moments more to stop. All the willpower she possessed was barely enough to keep her from plunging her hand inside her underwear and soothing the demands that Jasmine’s display was teasing from her body. It wasn’t as if Jasmine would ever know what was happening just a few feet from her, on the very same bed, and even if she did, who was to say she’d mind? It’s not as if she had ever asked...

No! No, don’t you dare do that. You will not masturbate in the same room as Jasmine, whether she can see you or not. She can still hear a bit under that thing, and I have more self-control than that... don’t I?

Her hand had crept up to the waistband of her trousers before salvation finally came in the form of an emphatic grunt and a two sets of crossed fingers.

“Had enough, hmm?” Not certain whether she was glad or disappointed, Cynthia leaned over to Jasmine, mentally trying to convince herself that she never would have actually gone that far. Taking a second to flip the girl’s skirt back over her thighs, she reached down to Jasmine’s throat and slipped her fingers beneath the neck of the hood, hoping that her willing captive didn’t smell anything untoward on her fingers as she drew the tight black latex up over her face and off of her head. “You lasted quite a while.”

The sudden light forced Jasmine to blink to adjust, and her sweaty brunette hair still clung to the sides of her face, but there was pride in the gym leader’s wide brown eyes as she looked up at Cynthia, only slightly undermined by the large red ball strapped inside of her mouth, distorting the shape of her small face, and the glistening sheen of drool covering the gag, her chin and the inside of the hood. “Houh luh?”

“How long?” Cynthia smiled down at her as she unbuckled the thick black straps of the gag, then drew the ball out of Jasmine’s mouth, prompting the girl to work her jaw and wince. “That’s my little secret. Long enough.”

Jasmine bit her tongue, knowing Cynthia well enough to know not to press the issue. The tall blonde Champion would likely feel obliged to punish her, and right now she needed to stretch. “Could you... please untie me?”

“I suppose.” If Cynthia didn’t know whether the regret in her words was genuine or not, Jasmine would have no chance at working it out. Her steady, practiced hands made short work of the knots that secured the small brunette’s wrists to her ankles. “Do you just need a break, or is that enough...” For one night, she almost said.

Jasmine was quick to stretch out her still-bound legs, squirming a little closer to give her mistress easier access to her arms. Bound in rope at wrist and elbow, she was amazed that her body was getting used to this sort of treatment, between Cynthia and Volkner. “I don’t know. Do... do you want to do something else?”

Cynthia glanced at the younger woman, her fingers still picking at the knots they knew by heart. Jasmine had always been a meek little thing, but she had become more confident around Cynthia in the months they had known each other. There was a little of that old uncertainty back in her voice now... and in her eyes, now that she looked. “Do we have time?”

She hadn’t intended those words to come out as bitterly as they did.

Jasmine hadn’t missed it. The moment her arms were free, she pulled herself up into a sitting position, her still-tied legs spread out beside her like some mermaid’s tail. “You... you’ll visit, right?”

Cynthia flinched. Her heart said yes, but her schedule said no. “I want to,” she murmured, deliberately averting her eyes to Jasmine’s ankles along with her hands. Suddenly her fingers didn’t know how to untie the knots by themselves. “But I’m the Sinnoh Champion. There’s even more responsibility in this role than there is for a gym leader.”

“Someone will beat you. One of these days.” Jasmine didn’t quite look as certain as she had hoped when she said it. She had battled Cynthia exactly once in her time in the region, and while the petite gym leader had skills surpassing most, she had been no match for Cynthia and her team. “Then you can do what you want. Or... or if you...”

“Retired? The Sinnoh League... frowns on that.” Lowering her head to hide her eyes between a veil of blonde hair, Cynthia untied the knot that secured Jasmine’s knees to one another, leaving her to tug the ropes off of herself and moving straight to the similar bindings on her ankles. “Besides, I have my pride as a trainer, just like you do. I fought hard to get to the top. I don’t know if I can just walk away.”

For a few minutes, there was only silence and the gradual untying of ropes, and groans of relief as Jasmine was free to part her legs at last, her hands rubbing at the furrows that the ropes had traced into her skin. Neither of them knew what to say, but both ached for the lull to end.

It was ultimately Jasmine who broke it, to Cynthia’s surprise. “You want to tie me up again, right? I mean,” she added, seeing the ‘if you’d like me to’ practically written across the Champion’s face. “Is that what you want? Would you... enjoy it?” Now it was her turn to avert her eyes, the meek little mouse resurfacing in her.

“Yes. I would.” Had Cynthia ever admitted that before? She couldn’t remember being so blunt about it, at least to Jasmine.

“Well... you can’t.”

This time, her jaw dropped. “What?”

“I’m not going to let you tie me up again. Not tonight.” Jasmine’s voice held none of its characteristic tremors as she slipped back out of Cynthia’s reach, climbing to her feet at the far side of the Champion’s bed. She straightened the crumpled skirt of her sundress, a hand reaching to the bedside table and collecting the two hair decorations she had left behind. “Next time. When you see me next, you can tie me up again. You can do whatever you want, but... next time.”<

She lapsed back into silence, and Cynthia said nothing either, just watching as Jasmine slipped the spherical decorations back into her hair above her ears, one at each side, trying and failing to shape her sweaty hair back into its familiar spiky tails. It drooped where it should have lifted, to her dismay, and she soon decided to abandon the attempt, slipping the accessories into the handbag she had left by the bed.<

“...Next time,” the Champion repeated at last, wishing she could believe it would be that easy.

~ ~ ~

Five weeks later, when the razor-finned form of her mighty Garchomp fell senseless to the metallic floor of the Pokemon League’s final chamber and the young trainer opposite raised his fists in triumph, Cynthia was thinking not of the loss of her Champion’s title, but of the faraway region of Johto and of how quickly she could get there.

Chapter Text

Schala/male OCs, Schala/female OCs, Dalton, bondage, rape, humiliation

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I
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The Earthbound Ones looked upon the princess of Zeal with both envy and reverence. It was difficult not to have mixed feelings about the Lady Schala, heiress to the kingdom of the sky above.

After all, it had been her bloodline that had ruled over the land for countless generations, her bloodline that had condemned them to a harsh life of drudgery and solitude, carving out miserable lives on the inhospitable surface world. Her ancestors had cast down the Earthbound from the airborne cities of the Enlightened, forcing them to dwell in caves and tunnels underground to escape the ice age that had descended upon the earth, all for the crime of being born without magical talent. Resenting Schala was easy.

Yet she was the only one of all the Enlightened who treated the Earthbound like people rather than beasts to be ignored. She was the only one who left the cities in the sky and visited them in their dismal homes beneath the earth's surface. Her respect for the Earthbound and her generous nature had won the lovely young sorceress a place in the hearts of many lowerworld denizens, and although she begged them to treat her as an equal, many among their ragged people had almost come to worship the kind, gentle princess of Zeal.

But not all.

To some, Princess Schala's birthright would always mark her as an enemy of a people oppressed, and the adulation some bestowed on her only made them despise her more. Nothing she said or did would ever be enough to eclipse what she was. To them she was not a friend but an easy target, for what better way to get the attention of the Queen of Zeal than by stealing away her only daughter?

~ ~ ~

Her visit concluded, the lady Schala had left the settlement of Algetty and made for the magical gateway that would return her from the surface to her skybound paradise. Once she set foot on its arcane circle, she would be beyond the reach of the Earthbound once again.

Not this time, the band of rebels had sworn. This time she would not be going home.

They had approached her as she reached the gateway, four pairs of beasthide boots crunching against the snow-covered earth. Tattered, dirty and clad in woven rags, the two men and two women of the outcast tribe could scarcely have looked more inferior to the beautiful princess of Zeal as she turned back to meet them. Her lustrous cerulean locks, bound in an elegant ponytail, put the dull greys and brown of the ground-dwellers' hair to shame, and her long purple robes were finer than anything one might hope to find in the lands of the Earthbound. Everything about her set her apart from those who were held to be her lessers.

Yet such things had never concerned the young princess Schala. A soft smile crept across her lovely features as she waited patiently for the Earthbound to catch up. "Have I forgotten something?" she queried, her gentle voice uncertain.

"No, your highness," the younger of the women replied, stepping closer to Schala with her hands behind her back. She was slightly shorter than the princess and slightly younger, possessed of an earnest face and brown eyes to match her chin-length hair. "But, er... my name is Yil, your highness. My family and I wanted to present you with a gift, in honour of the kindness you have shown our people."

The same kindness that lets you fly back to Zeal and leave us to rot in our caves, she thought bitterly, hiding behind a practiced smile.

"A gift?" Schala's brows rose in surprise, sky-blue eyes inquisitive. She folded her hands before her as she turned her gaze to each of the Earthbound in turn. "I am grateful, but you did not have to..."

"Please accept it," the older male of the group implored. Around fifty years of age, he was short but muscular, his hair shaggy and grey from the crown of his head to the tip of his beard. "We can do little to show our own gratitude, but let us do this."

The girl who had called herself Yil revealed what she had been hiding; a bouquet of golden flowers wrapped in a knitted shawl. "We grew them in the caves," she confided as she presented them to the princess, almost glowing with pride. This, at least, was the truth. "They live and flourish even without the light and warmth of the sun. They prove that even below the surface world, life will always prevail."

They prove that life beneath the earth will survive, whether you and your kin like it or not.

"They smell like roses, you know." The younger man stared at Schala expectantly. His was a hardened face, scarred and narrow, dotted with thin brown hairs that might pass for a beard. "Well, that's what they say. Not like we've ever seen any roses down here. Guess you'd know, though, your highness... you must have thousands of them up in Zeal."

"Yes... yes, we do." Guilt pierced Schala's kind heart at this newest reminder of her family's deeds. Condemning those born without magic to a life on the harsh surface world had long sickened the compassionate princess, and her failure to influence her mother's will in the matter made her feel complicit in their suffering. "These flowers, though... they're nice in their own way. Beautiful." She raised the bouquet to her nose, sniffing the flowers and inhaling their scent.

Unseen by the princess, four pairs of eyes exchanged knowing glances.

They smelled sweeter than roses, Schala noted as the aroma teased her nostrils. Almost sickeningly sweet, and sharper, too. Nothing in Zeal smelled quite the same as these mysterious lowerworld flowers. Nothing she'd ever smelled before had been quite so seductive and repellent at the same time, and her toes curled in her shoes even as she was drawn to take another sniff...

It was only then, her face pressed against the majestic blooms, that she noticed something she had missed the first time. Hidden among the flowers' narrow stalks was something else; another plant, brown and sickly green, coiled and twisted throughout the bouquet's depths. This one Schala recognized immediately, for this weed existed in both Zeal and the lowerworld. It was beloved of doctors, giving off a strong pollen that acted as an anaesthetic...

...Oh.

She let the bouquet fall from her grip, stunned by the realization, but it was already too late for her. The effects were already racing through her bloodstream, circulating all around her slender body. An unnatural warmth filled her as her limbs began to weaken, strength draining out of her and leaving her weary and faint. Her mind was a mess of lethargy and fear, hardly able to process what was happening to her. The world was spinning around her, tilting and whirling...

Schala collapsed to her knees, the chill of the snow seeping through her robes and into her skin. The cold was near as bitter as the betrayal. She wanted to look them in the eye, to ask them why, but her head felt as heavy as stone. She could barely remember how to move her tongue, let alone how to form words. Everything seemed so very difficult; even thinking was a chore she was on the verge of abandoning. Her strength was gone.

The princess was barely clinging to consciousness as the quartet of Earthbound gathered around her helpless form. They offered no aid to their supposed mistress, merely staring down at her and watching her plight. Their plan was a success, the pollen had done its job. She was helpless before them.

"How the mighty have fallen." It was the older woman who spoke, ashen-haired and ashen-eyed. She knelt beside Schala, her gaze devoid of sympathy, and brushed a hand against the maiden's cheek. "We have plans for you, daughter of Zeal. For now, my lady, it is time for you to sleep."

Her hand slipped behind the princess' head, seizing the base of her cerulean ponytail and gripping it cruelly tight. It hurt, but the addled and drained Schala could barely even sense the pain anymore. She was powerless to resist as the woman snatched up the fallen flowers, holding them against the maiden's nose and forcing Schala's face deep inside the bouquet.

Held prisoner by her lustrous hair, the tip of her nose pressed against the twisted weeds, Schala had no choice but to inhale more of the numbing flecks that smelled so deceptively sweet. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, her sluggish mind theorized as the last of her energy dwindled to nothing. Maybe everything would be okay if she just got a little rest. Just a little...

Her eyelids fluttered closed, and Schala surrendered to darkness.

-----
II
-----

The chains kept Schala upright, holding her pinned against the ancient brickwork in fetters of ice-cold steel. The rust-plagued shackles chafed against her ankles and wrists, too tight and unyielding for even her slender limbs to escape, holding her arms together high above her head and her legs spread wide apart. They rattled when she tried to move, but the cuffs were so heavy and the chains so short that she had little room even to shift her weight.

The rags kept Schala quiet, stifling her cries behind a wall of wadded cloth. Her mouth was packed full of the foul-tasting fabric, her jaw aching from the strain of being constantly held open. Her tongue was trapped deep beneath the sodden rags, barely able to twitch, denying her even the right to plead for her freedom. There was little chance of being able to spit out the disgusting gag, for the orange scarf she had used to bind her hair was now tied tightly around her head, jammed between her teeth to hold the rags inside and knotted behind her neck, well out of her reach.

The chemise kept Schala respectable, even after her modest violet over-robes had been stripped from her helpless body. The thin cotton cloth of the knee-length undergarment was hardly enough to keep her warm against the chill-ridden air, but it concealed the more private regions of her body from the eyes of her captors. For the demure young princess the wispy garment was a blessing amongst misery, a last defense against those who meant her harm, though it showed off much more of her cleavage than she would have liked to exhibit in public.

Why had they done this to her? What had she done to offend the Earthbound so much that they took her prisoner like this? No answers had come to the captive maiden, chained up alone in this claustrophobic chamber, the only door closed and locked. She wept, for she could do nothing else, and waited for them to reveal themselves and their reasons to her.

If they ever came back at all.

~ ~ ~

"What do you think? Do I look like a princess of Zeal?"

The Earthbound girl named Yil struck a graceful pose before her kin, virtually glowing with absolute glee. Gone were the tattered rags that had passed for her clothing, replaced by the full-length purple robes that now cloaked her wiry frame. The fabric was soft and warm yet light as a feather, Yil marveled as she twirled on the spot, admiring the way it flickered in the torchlight filling the subterranean cavern. "It's so beautiful! I deserve this way more than that haughty bitch."

Seated in a chair at the table at the center of the cave, the older woman with the ash-grey hair sighed, more interested in examining Schala's shining dreamstone pendant than watching her granddaughter caper about in her new robes. "Yes, dear, you look wonderful," she sighed, running her thumb over the sapphire stone. "But I am growing impatient. How long will it take for the Queen to notice her daughter's absence?"

"Vareth'll let us know when they send someone down through the gateway, mother. He's a good lad." The elder of the males scratched the side of his large nose with a long-nailed finger. "Not like we can just go up there ourselves, without magic. All we can do is wait. Entertain ourselves with the girl, maybe."

His mother stared at him, trying to read her son's intentions on his bearded, worn features. "It isn't time for that just yet, Relk. We will see how the wise and magnificent Queen of the overworld takes our offer first."

Yil glanced over at them, taking her eyes off of her new robes for a moment. Confusion wrinkled the brown-haired girl's brow. "Time for what? Aren't we just gonna keep the princess until they give us a part of Zeal for ourselves?"

Relk coughed. "Well, yes, that's true, dear, but your grandmother and I had something... something else in mind if that doesn't work out. Something Schala can help us with, willing or not."

"Something else?" Yil blinked, uncertain of where this was leading. "What else could that bitch do for us? You're not going to let her out of there, are you?"

"No, no!" Relk raised his hands defensively. "We just thought that it might be... advantageous for us if our clan was tied to the royal line of Zeal by blood, and Schala is of child-bearing age." His eyes gleamed as he licked his pale lips with his thick, bulbous tongue. "Might be you'll be getting a new baby brother or sister..."

~ ~ ~

After what seemed like an eternity of helpless solitude, the door to Schala's cell creaked open and a figure stepped inside.

It was the matriarch, the woman of ash-grey hair and sickly yellow skin and hollow, angry eyes. Why hadn't she seen the depths of this woman's rage before it was too late? Schala lamented as she struggled to hold back her tears. It was so obvious now, but now was far too late. Now Schala was in chains, locked away in some dismal cavern who-knew how far underground.

Her family had warned her that she was too trusting of the Earthbound, but the idealistic young princess hadn't listened to such jaded words. If only she had.

"How are you adjusting to your new quarters, your royal highness?" The old woman's lips curled in a sneer as she waddled across the cell, halting only when their faces were mere inches apart. The acrid stench of smoke and burned meat wafted from her withered body as she stared into Schala's tear-stained eyes, slate boring into sapphire. "Does the accommodation meet your lofty standards? I regret that we could not acquire silken curtains or perfumed bedsheets on such short notice, but we did what we could to make you comfortable."

Schala turned her head away from her horrid captor, groaning into the saliva-soaked rags that clogged her mouth. So thick was the sodden clump wedged inside her mouth that the shackled princess was unable to form a single coherent word, but her misery was just as evident in her pleading gaze and muffled whimpers. Her body ached from being stretched so far, and the tight chains gouged into her wrists and her ankles even while she stood completely still. Her chemise did nothing to protect her from the cold. She was hungry and frightened and more than anything else, deeply hurt by the betrayal.

"Oh, I'm sorry, dear, are you having trouble speaking?" The woman's voice was as sweet as honey but her visage was as savage as a wasp as she clamped a gnarled paw beneath Schala's chin, twisting the princess' head back around to face her. "Was there something her royal highness wanted to say?"

Yes, please, Schala tried to say, but her pleading words turned to mush in her mouth. Only a humiliating series of choking grunts escaped her lips and the wadded cloth within.

"Well, I suppose I'd best hear the latest royal decree." The woman slipped her hands behind Schala's head, working loose the knots that held her hairscarf in her jaw, and jammed her fingers inside her captive's mouth, scooping out the bundle of rags that had so effectively silenced her. Schala almost retched at the sight of the fetid ball of cloth as it was dragged from her lips, rough fabric stained with reds and greens of which she dared not consider the source.

The blue-haired princess gulped down lungfuls of air while she had the chance, her mouth now freed of obstructions. The rusted shackles still held her limbs pinned to the wall, but with her gag removed Schala could not help feeling just a sliver closer to freedom. Her tongue swished about in her jaw, restoring moisture to her dried-out mouth and lips, while the matriarch looked on with growing impatience.

"Speak, child," she hissed, her withered hand clutching the saliva-damp rags that had muffled Schala's words, "or be silenced again. You have wasted enough of my time."

Schala cringed and swallowed, desperate to avoid being gagged once more. "Why are you doing this to me?" she inquired, her voice as gentle and calm as a midday breeze. Her composure was feigned, a mask she would wear to conceal the frightened girl behind it. "I have never harmed you. I have done nothing."

"Exactly. You have done nothing!" A bony finger jabbed into Schala's chest, savagely prodding the valley between her half-exposed breasts. "You know how we Earthbound suffer, day in, day out, living miserable lives in this frozen hell. You are the daughter of the Queen, yet you leave us to languish in this place while you flit back to your city in the sky. And why?"

Her finger trailed south, tracing the curve of Schala's right breast, then stabbed right into the sensitive flesh of her nipple hidden beneath the thin bodice of her chemise. Schala whined in pain as the digit probed deeper, sending a pulse of pain through her chest along with something... else. A warmer feeling the virginal princess could not name.

"Because we can't use magic like you 'Enlightened'." The word was a curse on the lips of the livid matriarch. "Or because our ancestors could not. An accident of birth and we are condemed to a lifetime of this, while you and the rest of your fortunate, privileged kind get to live in paradise?! We are not less than you!"

By the end of her tirade she was half-screaming, droplets of spittle raining over Schala's tearful face, and almost out of breath. Her finger was gouging so deep into Schala's breast that the princess feared she might drill through her ribcage, but the matriarch withdrew it as she steadied herself and gulped down air of her own.

Schala used the lull to speak once more, though hesitantly this time. "I tried. I tried to make Mother see reason. I don't want things to be like this. I... I know you don't deserve to live like this, but I... but she won't listen to me. I couldn't..."

"Then what use is that tongue of yours, child!?" the matriarch demanded, her eyes narrowed to slits. The truth had not placated her in the slightest, and the ball of sodden, filthy rags returned to view as she raised it back towards Schala's face. "No matter. The time for simpering pleas is over. We will make the people of Zeal accept us, and this is where you come in, Princess."

Schala sealed her lips tight and turned her head away, but there was no avoiding the talon-like hands of the crone. She grasped the maiden's chin in her powerful grip and yanked her head sideways until they were facing each other once more. Schala's sapphire eyes begged for reprieve, but the stone-hearted matriarch simply prised open the girl's mouth and wedged the wadded cloths back into her jaw. The orange hairscarf followed in turn, its length slipping between Schala's lips to hold the foul, stained bundle of rags inside. Her mouth packed full once again, the shackled princess could do nothing but whimper into her gag as the woman fastened the scarf in place with a painfully tight knot.

"Your meal will come later," the crone growled as she shuffled towards the door, looking back over her shoulder with hateful eyes. "It is more than you deserve, but we cannot have you starving to death if you are to play your part."

The cell door slammed shut, and Schala was alone with her chains and her tears once more.

-----
III
-----

Hours passed before the door to Schala's prison opened again.

This time it was not the nameless matriarch who stepped inside the claustrophobic cell, but the younger female of the Earthbound quartet. Yil was her name, the princess recalled. The girl was approximately Schala's age, possessed of a narrow face and darting eyes, her long brown hair dry and dull. She was small, more so even than the delicate princess, but vulnerable was the last thing she would have called the clever little Earthbound girl.

It was Schala who was vulnerable, chained to the wall, gagged and exposed.

It took the lovely captive a moment to realize that Yil was wearing Schala's robes. The flowing purple garment fit their new owner poorly, the lower hemline dragging against the ground as she walked, the sleeves nearly swallowing her hands, but Yil seemed no less smug for the deficiencies of her pilfered clothing. She set down the wooden tray she carried and advanced on Schala, her face twisted by a gleeful smirk. "Now we see who's lower than who."

Schala could only stare back uncomprehendingly, her sapphire eyes once again glittering with tears. She had never claimed to be better than this girl, and she never would have done so, for it went against her deepest beliefs. The only differences between herself and the Earthbound were accidents of birth. She shook her head in fervent denial, hoping that her sincerity would get through to her captor even without the power to speak.

"No, of course not," Yil sneered in disgust, no sympathy in her dark little eyes. "Not perfect Princess Schala. She's so kind, so humble, so beautiful... they all say that in Algetty, you know. The idiots all believe it, too. It makes me so sick." Reeking breath crashed against Schala's face as the Earthbound girl leaned in close; with her mouth still packed full of wadded rags, she had no choice but to inhale the rancid scent. At least it proved a distraction from the putrid flavors still seeping from the filthy cloth pressed against her tongue.

"They don't see what you are, but we do!" So fierce was the hatred written across Yil's face that Schala tried to pull away, but the chains held her fast against the wall. Yil didn't seem to notice, her rant only intensifying, spittle flying from her lips with every word. "You're a fraud, Schala! A selfish, spoiled bitch who only comes down to our world to feel better about herself! You may be an ugly, stupid little cow, but at least the Earthbound think you're special, right? Right?!"

By the end of Yil's tirade, Schala had broken down in tears. It was all far too much for the gentle princess, unaccustomed to such harsh treatment and vicious words, to cope with. Her arms ached from being stretched so high above her head and chained in place for hours on end. Her jaw was tiring of being held open by the rags stuffed inside, clogging her mouth like a plug and inhibiting her breathing. She was cold and scared out of her wits.

"Crying won't get you out of this, princess. Then again, nothing else will either." Yil was beginning to calm down, though her cheeks were still tinged red with her fading anger. "I'll feed you in a minute, even though you don't deserve it. Before we get to that, though, there's something I need from you. Are you a virgin, Schala?"

What!? Now it was Schala's cheeks that burned, blazing scarlet beneath her gag. How could she even ask that question?! And why, she began to wonder as the initial rush of embarrassment was replaced by creeping dread, did she want to know in the first place? If the intent was to humiliate the captive princess, she had succeeded. Her tears had slowed, but somehow she was now even more miserable than she had been before.

"Not going to answer, huh? I knew you were a whore." Yil's smirk returned, the Earthbound girl seemingly satisfied with her degrading deduction, but it quickly faded as she knelt on the floor in front of Schala. "Not that it matters what you say. Grandmother told me to make sure of it anyway, so that's what I'm gonna do. I'd tell you to hold still, but you're not going anywhere, are you?"

The princess blinked in confusion, unsure of what her captor intended, but it was not long before all became uncomfortably clear. Yil's fingers ventured to Schala's knees, seized the hem of her chemise and began to draw it upward...

No! Primal horror raced through her body like a surge of electricity as she realized what was happening, but there was nothing she could do to stop it; her shocked cries of protest were stifled by the wadded cloth inside her jaw, reducing them to smothered whimpers. She struggled to close her legs to shield her most intimate area from her captor's sight, but the shackles chaining her ankles to the wall kept them spread wide, allowing Yil easy access.

The sensation of the other girl's hands sliding up the princess' thighs towards her crotch made Schala want to be violently ill, but the presence of her gag forced her to restrain her revulsion. She groaned into the wadded cloth to hide the sounds of her violation from herself, squeezing her eyes tightly shut while Yil's probing fingers began to explore. If only she could shut off her sense of touch so easily, the ordeal might be bearable...

~ ~ ~

"Huh. I guess you are a virgin after all."

Yil stood after what seemed like an eternity, wiping her hands clean on her stolen purple robes and letting Schala's chemise fall back down to her knees. "I suppose it's not really a surprise, though. What kind of man would want to have you?"

The insult had little effect on Schala in the aftermath of the humiliating examination. No longer did she cry, though she felt like bursting into tears and never stopping. Yil had been neither gentle nor kind, relishing the chance to take more of the royal heir's dignity as she fulfilled her task. She felt unclean, desecrated by this vengeful girl and her prodding digits, ashamed at being put on display like some animal at market.

"You could starve for all I care, but Grandmother says I have to feed you." Those same hands that had just explored Schala's nether regions were now driven deep into the princess' mouth, tearing out the wadded cloths that silenced her. Schala's disgust at this new invasion was tempered by relief as her tongue was freed from its confinement, her jaw finally emptied of the ball of sodden cotton. She could breathe again at last.

She had no idea what to say to the vicious girl before her. Begging for mercy had no effect on the older woman from earlier, and Yil was far less sympathetic than even her hateful grandmother. She wanted to deny all that Yil had claimed, to try to reason with her, but she was far too hungry to risk being gagged again before she was fed. It likely wouldn't have worked anyway, she told herself as she waited for her captor's next move.

Yil withdrew to the door of the cell and stooped to collect the wooden tray she had left there before returning to Schala's side. The princess looked down at the contents of the tray now held before her; a small bowl of misshapen green lumps and two clay cups, one filled with water, the other containing some kind of cloudy grey liquid. The vivid, muddy odor emanating from the tray made her wrinkle her nose reflexively, though she had smelled worse things in recent times.

"Earthbound food not good enough for you, princess?" Yil frowned, her eyes narrowing into slits as her fury began to build anew. She took a step back from Schala, moving as if to take the tray out of the cell. "If you want it now, you have to beg for it. Go on, convince me you deserve it."

Hungry, chained and humiliated, Schala was in no mood for defiance. "Please," she croaked, her mouth still dry from her hours spent gagged. "Please let me eat. I'm sorry..."

Her desperate appeal brought a sadistic smile to Yil's lips, reveling in the young royal's submission. Seeing her begging for the most basic of comforts made the Earthbound girl's body tingle all over. This was the taste of revenge against her oppressors, and it was delicious. Finally the pampered little princess was forced to suffer, to fall lower than even a magic-deprived ground dweller. "I suppose that will do," she cooed as she closed in on Schala once again, taking one of the dull green lumps between her fingers and lifting it to the captive's mouth. "But if you bite me, I'll smash your teeth in with this bowl. Don't think I won't."

Schala believed her, but she had already known how such an act of petty spite would serve her. She could hardly bite through the shackles that bound her and escape before Yil took her vengeance. Instead she simply opened her mouth and accepted the slimy little morsel that was quickly placed on her tongue.

It was horrid, of course. Intensely sour, it defied all attempts to bite into it, so slippery and resilient was its surface. It slid toward the back of her mouth and disappeared down her throat, carrying its disgusting flavor down her throat. The lump had not been warm, but it left a slight burning sensation in its wake, as if it had reacted poorly with her saliva and the membrane inside her jaw.

"Mella moss," Yil explained helpfully as she pressed a second lump between Schala's lips, admiring the way her face puckered in revulsion of the taste. "It grows in crevices on the bodies of mudbeasts when they don't clean themselves for a while. It's very healthy, full of vitamins, but a lot of people refuse to eat it because... well, I'm sure even a dumb cow like you can guess."

The revelation of the origins of the slimy green chunks did little for Schala's appetite, but she forced herself to choke down the second lump, then a third and a fourth. Each one left a thin, clinging residue on her tongue and the sides of her mouth, the source of the burning that was growing more intense. It wasn't painful, just one more discomfort piled upon many, but it made certain the disgusting flavor of the terrible stuff remained upon her taste buds.

Yil simply watched her for a moment, enjoying the nauseous expressions twisting their way across Schala's lovely features. When she had had her fill, she set the bowl of moss aside and took hold of the cup of water, holding it up to the princess' lips and tilting. Schala drank from the clay vessel greedily, letting the cold, pure water swish throughout her mouth and carry away the slimy residue of her meal before swallowing. It was a godsend, and when all of the precious liquid had been swallowed she offered Yil a faltering smile. "Thank you."

"Don't thank me just yet, your highness." Yil placed the empty cup back onto the tray and set it down on the floor, plucking the second cup as she stood. Schala could not identify the thick grey brew it contained, but she did not like the look of it one bit. She recoiled as Yil began to guide the little container towards her face, clamping her lips shut and turning her head away. Was this supposed to put her to sleep again, or do something worse? She didn't want to find out.

She had expected Yil to wrench her head back around and force her to drink the mysterious fluid, but instead the Earthbound girl withdrew the cup and stepped away from Schala. "I didn't want to do it this way," she hissed as she reached into her stolen robes, delving into the hidden pockets Schala knew were sewn inside, "but you leave me no choice. Hope you're ready for quiet time."

Her hand emerged from her clothing, clutching a familiar bundle of stained, saliva-drenched rags. Schala grimaced, expecting Yil to gag her and leave her be, but the Earthbound girl seemed to have something else in mind for her helpless prisoner. She knelt on the floor once again, but this time her hands did not stray beyond Schala's hemline. Instead, she upended the half-filled bowl of mella moss onto the floor, then poured the cup of grey fluid into the now-emptied container in its place. As the bewildered princess looked on Yil unfolded the wadded collection of rags, then proceeded to lower each one into the bowl in turn. The murky liquid immediately began to seep into the filthy cloth, and it was then that Schala realized what her captor intended.

Yil stood, drawing the now saturated rags out of the bowl and scrunching them into a ball, careful not to squeeze too hard and lose too much of the fluid they had absorbed. Schala's mouth was closed tight, of course, but Yil simply pinched the nose of the shackled princess between her thumb and forefinger, holding her nostrils closed to deny her precious oxygen. Oh, she struggled to hold her breath for as long as her lungs could manage, but in the end the inevitable occurred; her body rebelled and let her mouth slide open, gulping in a mouthful of air.

This was all the opportunity Yil needed to force the handful of soaking wet cloth back inside Schala's mouth, jamming the wadded rags into place behind her pearly teeth. She moaned her protest into the gag as her tongue, again pressed down into her jaw by the invading ball of fabric, began to taste the sickeningly sweet flavour of the grey liquid it had been immersed in. She retched against the horrid stuffing, her body rejecting the very thing it had allowed to enter, but it was far too late for that. Already Yil had forced the orange hairscarf back between Schala's lips to hold the rags in, tying it in a strict knot behind the royal heir's head.

"You're learning a lot about lowerworld flora, your highness. The hard way, of course." Collecting the bowl and cups from the floor, Yil placed each back on the wooden tray and scooped it back into her arms. "What you're sucking on right now is called heratha, from the herath weed that grows in the deeper caverns. I don't know if you've heard of it, but it's a special little plant. A very powerful aphrodisiac."

Schala's eyes widened in horror, and she shrieked into her potion-spiked gag, trying frantically to dislodge it. Yil's knots proved too tight for the princess, however; there was no way she was going to be able to force it back out of her mouth without the use of her hands, and those remained chained in place high above her. She began to panic, dreading the effects that were soon to sweep through her body.

Yil giggled as she made for the door to the cell, a girlish titter unsuited to such a vicious girl as she. "Soon we'll see how pure you really are, Lady Schala. See you soon!"

-----
IV
-----

By the time the lanky Earthbound youth entered her cell, licking his cracked lips in anticipation, Schala had already been driven to the brink by the herbal concoction she had been made to consume.

The sodden ball of cloth wedged inside her jaw still tasted as nauseatingly sweet as it had when it had been stuffed into her mouth, drenched in the fluid Yil had claimed was a strong aphrodisiac. Now, with her entire body burning with wanton desire she could not wish away, the lady Schala could hardly doubt it was the truth.

She was drenched in sweat from head to foot as the heat within her built to an unendurable apex. Her skin gleamed and glistened in the dim light of her visitor's flickering candle, her unbound hair sticking to her face in clammy cerulean tangles. Her chemise, once the last shred of modesty left to her, was now so wet with perspiration that the thin white fabric was clinging to her flesh, hugging the curves of her slender body so closely she might as well have worn nothing at all.

Worse, the moisture had turned the opaque material humiliatingly transparent; every detail of her modest breasts could be seen as clear as day, her hardened nipples pressing against the translucent bodice. Her legs still spread wide by the merciless chains, her skirt was free to adhere to her most private regions, showing off the downy patch of blue between her thighs. Every part of Schala's body was revealed before the youth, and all she could do was pant and gasp into her gag as the heratha brew coursed throughout her system.

The young man closed in on the girl chained to the wall, setting his candlestick down on the floor. He seemed in his early twenties, his scarred and pimpled features a far cry from handsome. Brown hair crested his head and sparingly lined his chin, a chin that shifted as his yellowed teeth warped into a grin. "We meet again, your highness. I fear I've not introduced myself. Vareth, at your service."

A spark of hope flared to life in Schala's heart. Was he to be kinder to her than his female relatives? He was party to her abduction, but he seemed nicer...

His hand shot out and clutched her breast, his calloused fingers squeezing her sensitive mound hard enough to bruise. Hope sputtered out of existence as quickly as it had appeared.

Oblivious to her short-lived optimism and heedless of her muffled whimpers, Vareth quickly set to work exploring the reaches of her captive body. His right hand set into a rhythm, kneading the sweat-slick flesh of her breast, his thumb rubbing roughly against the edge of her perked nipple in a brazen attempt to arouse her further. His left swooped down to her rear, cupping her buttock and stroking his fingers across the smooth, firm flesh he discovered. He drew nearer to her, pressing her back against the wall.

Schala trembled as he groped her, tears creeping down her cheeks. The close contact was very nearly painful to her, already driven half-mad with lust by the potent mixture of herbs with which Yil had spiked her gag, and the heat between her thighs was still intensifying by the second. She didn't want this, no amount of drugging could make her want it, but her body was fervidly begging to be deflowered by this man she didn't know. She could think of nothing but how good it would feel to welcome him into her body, to have his member pierce her virginity and drive her to a dazzling climax. If she could speak, she realized with creeping horror, she might well have begged for release... and not from the chains.

He released his hold on her rump and tore away the hairscarf tied between her lips, yanking the filthy drugged rags out of her mouth, but he forcefully kissed her before she could plead with him to take her. His tongue slipped into her mouth, tangling with hers; the thought crossed her clouded mind to bite down on the bastard, but her lust-addled body refused to obey her frantic prompting.

When his mouth at last withdrew from hers, he licked his lips and drew in a deep, shaking breath. "You taste pretty sweet for an Enlightened bitch. Or was it the heratha, do you think? It seems to be having quite an effect on you."

Schala let out a slurring groan, unable to form words even with her gag removed. Her body ached all over but primarily between her legs, her primal senses rebelling at being left on the brink of a climax for so long. She almost wanted him to finish it, just so it could be over...

"I'm not going to do it," Vareth murmured into her ear, as if he had read her mind. What else could she be thinking, though, while the cursed aphrodisiac wreaked sensual havoc through her body? He smiled cruelly as he withdrew from her, his hand finally abandoning her poor abused breast. There was regret in his eyes, she noticed; why had he stopped if he didn't want to? Had someone ordered her to do this?

He crouched to scoop up her discarded hairscarf and the crumpled pile of drug-soaked cloths, and Schala braced herself in anticipation of being gagged once again. Vareth, however, shoved both items into a pocket of his leather-hide jacket and reached into a cloth pouch sewn into his belt. Schala squinted in confusion as he produced a strange new item; a thick wooden bar trailing leather straps from each end. Was he going to beat her with it...?

He swiftly proved her wrong, though she might have wished she had been correct after all. The thing's true purpose soon became clear as the bar was thrust between her teeth and jammed into the corners of her lips; it was a replacement gag for the princess, a demeaning mockery of a bit that a horse might be made to wear. The horrid device forced her to bite down onto it, trapping her mouth half-open and sending twinges of pain through her cheeks, but it was a small improvement over the wadded cloth she had been made to hold in her mouth for the last few hours.

She mumbled half-coherent please into the bit as Vareth secured the straps behind her head, holding it in place too securely to dislodge... yet the next item to leave his pouch was a small metal padlock, which he quickly secured through tiny holes in the straps to ensure none could remove the gag without the key he slipped back into a pocket. Schala's muddled mind attempted to discern the point of the lock. Did he not want any other members of his family to remove it?

Again she quickly learned just how wrong she was. To her shock, he drew another key from his pouch and slipped it into the keyhole on the outside of the shackle holding her right wrist in place. One quick turn later and her arm was freed from the rusted manacle; Schala let it drop to her side at once, alleviating the burning strain in her shoulder from being forced to stretch so far for so long. Her wrist was ringed by a band of chafed pink skin, the result of her futile struggles against the chains; she wished that she could rub the discolored region, but Vareth showed no signs of releasing her left arm as well...

Instead, the Earthbound youth retreated to the door and pulled it open. "Yil, she's ready."

Yil stepped into the cell, that smug little smirk on her lips as she took in the sight of the sweat-soaked Schala. The lovely princess had flushed bright red with ardent arousal from her gag-contorted cheeks to the tops of her breasts; her chemise was so drenched in perspiration that the cloth was barely visible over the skin it clung to so very tightly. She panted and whimpered into the bit between her teeth; her one free arm still hanging limply by her side. How low the princess of Zeal had been brought... but there was always further to fall.

The girl moved to Schala's side, still clad in her stolen violet robes, and cocked her head to look back at her elder brother as she reached into the garment's inner pockets. "You didn't do her, did you? Not all the way?"

"No," Vareth responded, more a morose grumble than anything. His eyes were still locked on Schala's shapely body, longing for another chance to touch her.

"Good." Yil's hand emerged from her robes, clutching a tiny clay jar and removing the lid before raising it to Schala's face. It was filled to the brim with a dry grey powder that the princess could not identify by sight. "Crushed herath leaves," Yil helpfully explained as she pressed the jar beneath Schala's nostrils, while Vareth took hold of the princess' free hand to prevent her from interfering. "Not distilled this time, so we're not using much. Just enough..."

The bit gag prevented Schala from breathing properly through her mouth; there was nothing that she could do but willingly breathe in a layer of the leaf dust through her nostrils and brace herself for the consequences. Satisfied, Yil wthdrew and recapped the jar, returning it to the pocket inside her pilfered robes. Vareth released her wrist, and the two stepped back towards the cell door.

Yet they did not depart, instead turning back to her and watching what happened next.

This time the effect of the herb was almost immediate. Schala released a shuddering moan as her body blazed with volcanic arousal, every inch of her tingling and trembling with desire. Her breasts ached so badly that she could have called it pain, but nothing compared to the incandescent need throbbing in her nether regions. Her mental defenses fell away her protesting mind collapsed, crushed beneath a wave of all-consuming lust. Her mind was blank, but for the knowledge of what she must do.

Now she understood why her wrist had been unchained.

She could feel the eyes of Yil and Vareth upon her quivering form, drinking in her humiliation, but her usual modest decorum had given way to a wanton craving for fulfillment at any cost. Her body could stand no more.

Her hand neared the hem of her skirt.

-----
V
-----

Never in her entire life had she felt so utterly filthy.

The brother and sister had departed her cell long ago, laughing and leering at her total debasement, but Schala's shame had not left with them. It had been nearly an hour before the aphrodisiac racing through her system had finally begun to fade, releasing her from the constant hold of blazing arousal, but the damage to her dignity had already been done.

She had masturbated, in front of strangers. Again and again, powerless to stop herself, until her fingers ached as fiercely as her nethers. Her lust had taken over, fueled by the herbal concoction the Earthbound had forced on her, driving her to do things to herself that she never would have dreamed of had she been in her right mind. They had watched her as she drove herself to climax over and over, eyes shining with glee as she moaned and trembled, drool seeping from a mouth held open by the bit tied between her teeth...

They had left her to herself after a while, her hand still unchained, the raging desires within her still unsatisfied. Her body demanded more, and she could not stand to resist. The aphrodisiac was just too potent, the sensations too maddening to ignore. Alone or with an audience, willing or unwilling, it had made little difference in the end. She had driven herself to the next peak, and the next, her crushing shame never strong enough to hold her back.

The drug had started to lose effect as time dragged on, granting respite for her aching hand. Schala had cried then, her body trembling in her chains, the sound of clinking metal blending with her hiccuping sobs as she realized just what she had done to herself. She had always been a modest girl, self-conscious and somewhat prudish, but they had done more than violate and humiliate her; they had made a whore of her. She might have been happier if the youth had simply taken her himself. She would have been defiled either way, but they had made sure that it was her to do the deed, and now she had to live with the memory of what she had done. The heratha brew had driven her to it, but surely she could have resisted if only she had been stronger...

If only she could escape. She had tried, but even with one arm free she could do nothing to unchain herself, nor to remove her horrid gag. She was still at the mercy of her captors.

She let the tears fall, mingling with the cooling sweat that covered her exhausted body.

~ ~ ~

Eventually, the old woman had returned to Schala's cell with a basin of water and a rough-woven cloth.

Her name was Aranda, she had claimed as she returned the princess' aching hand to its shackle, and she was grandmother to the youths who had tormented Schala so cruelly. A very proud grandmother, she added as she tore the sweat-drenched chemise from Schala’s body and cast it aside, leaving her completely naked at last. It was Vareth who had thought of using the sleeping pollen to subdue her in the first place, she explained with more than a little satisfied glee, and Yil who had decided to use the herath weed to drive her into a lustful frenzy. They were both resourceful children, she proudly confided, scrubbing her captive’s skin half-raw with cloth and water. Both, she added, deserved far better lives than they had been given on the lowerworld.

Schala no longer had the strength to resist Aranda’s brutal attentions, but she had to admit that the painful scrubbing was a simple thing to endure compared to the earlier effects of the aphrodisiac. At least now she was being cleaned, the evidence of her shame washed away with the water, tempting her to think her ordeal merely a horrible dream. If only she could truly believe it. If only she could pretend that she hadn’t defiled herself so wantonly for their amusement.

“I am sure you are wondering why you are here.” The matriarch’s tone was one of disdainful annoyance as she washed down Schala’s thighs, the coarse washcloth scratching and scraping against the girl’s soft flesh . “Tormenting you is all well and good, but it hardly serves our cause in any meaningful way. Yil could make you fuck yourself another thousand times and it would make no difference to our situation.”

The crude choice of words made Schala’s cheeks flush scarlet. The last few hours had not dulled her modesty.

“Would you like to know why, Your Highness? The real reason why?” Aranda discarded the washcloth, dropping it in the half-empty water basin, and smiled coldly. “You are going to bear another of my grandchildren. Half Earthbound and half Enlightened. Your family will be bound to ours by blood, and when that happens your mother will be duty-bound to take us in. It shouldn’t take too long; herath weed has quite the effect on a woman’s fertility as well as her desires, you know...”

The terrible truth made Schala’s blood freeze in her veins. Her stomach felt as if it had been filled with ice. No, no, no no no...

The sight of the princess’ stiffening body made Aranda chuckle. “I didn’t think you would like that. Fortunately, your consent is not required. All we need to do is make sure your legs stay open...” She gestured to the chains keeping Schala’s legs spread even now. “My son will do the rest. Once we are certain that you are with child, the rest will be a simple matter. Perhaps you will even be able to go home.”

The withered matriarch returned to her task, cleaning the body of the soiled princess to the muffled music of the girl’s miserable sobs.

-----
VI
-----

The next few days passed so slowly and agonizingly that they might have been years.

Schala had not moved from her now familiar position, still chained by her wrists and ankles to the wall of her dark little cell, her soft flesh spread wide and pressed firm against the brickwork. Her vibrant blue hair hung loose about her form, sticking fast to her sweat-slick skin. She was still nude, of course; her Earthbound captors had never replaced her stolen robes and shredded chemise, preferring her naked and humiliated, a shadow of the respectable young lady who had visited their village in the past. Dark rings circled her weary eyes, for she had barely slept since she had first been drugged with the sweet-smelling pollen of lowerworld flowers.

She wished that they had. Ever since then it had been the herath herb they had used on her, the powerful aphrodisiac and according to Aranda, fertility enhancer. After the vile old woman had cleaned away the remnants of Schala’s masturbation and told her of the fate the Earthbound intended for her, she had called her cruel little granddaughter back into the cell to join them. Still wearing her stolen purple robes, Yil had brought with her a second cup of the horrid grey liquid, distilled from the even more potent leaves of the herb, and together they had forced the shackled princess to drink it.

After ensuring that their captive had swallowed every drop of the foul brew, Yil jammed the wooden bit gag back between Schala’s teeth and stepped back to watch the show.

~ ~ ~

Dreading the return of the overpowering lust that had driven her to carnal acts for her relief and their amusement, she waited for them to unchain her hand and give her the means to defile herself once more. When grandmother and granddaughter made no move to release her fettered wrist, Schala grunted into her gag and jerked her head in her hand’s direction, a tingling warmth already starting to build in her core. She had hated pleasuring herself in front of them, but she was willing to do it again if it meant dispelling the raging desire that was about to take hold of her mind and body...

Aranda shook her head, a thin smile upon her cracked lips. “No. Not this time.”

What!? Schala’s eyes widened, partly from shock and partly from the sensations beginning to throb throughout her body. The concoction was taking effect faster this time, surging through her, filling her with a gentle fire that could only be quenched by sex... and they weren’t going to let her touch herself?

She shuddered, panting, biting down on her wooden gag for comfort. It was taking her over now, claiming her, subduing her shy sense of decency and letting her hidden lusts run rampant. Her breasts ached fiercely, pleading to be touched. Between her legs, the flames burned hotter than ever. How she wished she could free herself from these chains; right now she would even settle for just being able to rub her parted thighs together in search of release...

She had to be free. She had to tend to her needs now, right now. Growing desperate, she began to tug at the chains that bound her in place, frantically trying to find a weakness she could use to escape their steel embrace. There was none to be found, and the shackles grated painfully against the skin on her wrists and ankles, but Schala could not bring herself to stop her fruitless struggle. She couldn’t take this anymore! If someone didn’t touch her she was going to go insane!

There was nothing left to lose. Her pride had deserted her, chased off by the wanton longings of her aching, needy body. With frustrated tears streaming from her eyes, Schala lifted her gaze to meet Yil’s, then Aranda’s, pinning all of her hopes on this one last chance for fulfillment. “Plheesh helh mrr,” she murmured, hating the way her appeal was distorted by the gag between her teeth.

“Did you hear that, Grandmother? I think she wants some help.” There was no pity in Yil’s eyes as she took a step towards Schala, only malice. The girl with the ratty brown hair giggled as she watched the blue-haired woman tremble and whimper and drool, the torturous sensations boiling her body and consuming her mind. Yil was proud of her deeds, proud that it had been her to transform the graceful princess into a gasping, shuddering wreck, and she had no plans to end it anytime soon. Now was the time to revel in her triumph over the Enlightened whore.

“I am certain that she does. Perhaps if she had helped us when we needed it, things might not have needed to come to such unpleasantness.” Despite her almost regretful words, Aranda’s expression revealed her spiteful glee at the princess’ predicament. The crone smiled up at Schala in satisfaction, then stooped to stare between her captive’s unwillingly-spread legs. A withered hand danced against Schala’s thigh, a finger teasing her entrance but refusing to enter her core. “Very wet. Her fertility swells to a peak... but we must be sure of it. There can be no error at such a crucial time.”

“Nhhhnnn...” Not even Schala knew what she was trying to say anymore. There was only one thing on her clouded mind now.

~ ~ ~

They had left her there to suffer, helpless and alone.

There would be no relief from the torment this time, not until the herbs finally began to lose their irresistible effects on her heaving body, and from experience she had known that this would be hours away at the least. Hours of constant arousal awaited her, the pleasurable sensations so powerful that they were painful to the securely chained princess. Every inch of her sweat-drenched body begged for someone to touch her, take her, drive her to the heights that were just out of reach...

Nobody came, and this time Schala could not do the deed herself.

She was left on the very edge of climax, a second from a salvation she would never receive, for moments that stretched into long, terrible minutes.

Ten minutes. Thirty minutes. One hour.

She was burning up, her entire body devoured by the blazing, urgent heat. If someone didn’t touch her soon... anybody would do...

Her half-screamed, half-moaned pleas for release, warped by the gag and her sluggish tongue, went unheard.

~ ~ ~

Her captors came back for her only when Schala had been completely exhausted, the herath’s effects finally growing dull and shallow.

The boy named Vareth removed her chains one by one, unshackling her wrists from the wall and then her ankles, letting her limp body fall into his arms and hauling her into the air. She was far too weak to resist now, the two long hours under the aphrodisiac’s sway having drained her strength to the very dregs. The desire for sex was still there, faded and hidden away at the back of her fatigue-blanked mind, but even the lad’s clumsy fondling of her lust-swollen breasts did nothing to excite her senses. The foul-tasting herb had left her a shell, all feeling and thought torn away from her along with her energy.

He carried her out of her cell, flanked by Aranda and Yil, and into the tunnels in which these Earthbound dwelt. Too muddled to pay attention to the path that they took, Schala let them take her wherever they pleased and simply cherished the sensation of the stale air brushing against the limbs that had been shackled for so long. She had felt like a permanent adornment of the wall to which she had been chained, and even this felt like freedom by comparison.

The room they ended their travels in was much larger than Schala’s tiny cell, but for all its furnishings and decorations it was still just another cave. The unsteady table and chairs, the shabby dresser and the animal-fur rug on the floor did little to conceal the room’s true nature as a dirty little hole in the ground, but this was the best home that the magic-deprived Earthbound could create without braving the frozen surface world. The centerpiece of the cave was a large wooden bed, built of thick timbers and clothed in blankets made from the thick, durable leaves of the few trees that could survive in the inhospitable realm.

The fourth and final member of the little Earthbound family was waiting for her, standing by the side of the bed and watching Schala as his mother carried the naked princess into the room. The fifty-year old Relk, short and bearded and as muscular as a mudbeast, grinned at the sight of his unwilling lover being brought to him. “Here’s the girl of the hour. Hope the herath’s warmed her up for me, eh, kids?”

“Count on it,” Yil answered, moving ahead of her brother and grandmother and seizing one of the thin hempen ropes that had been laid on the floor for the occasion. “Put her on the bed, Vareth, and make sure you hold her down.”

“I know what to do,” Vareth growled in irritation, joining his sister at the bedside and dropping Schala onto her covers. The leaves were quick to cling to the warm, sweaty skin of her back and arms and legs, the cold and clammy sensation a shock against her bare flesh. The younger male was true to his word, straddling her prone form and pinning down her arms and legs, though it would have been impossible for her to gather the strength required to move her body even had she been left free. Vareth stared down at her, a hunger for her in his eyes and a swelling in his trousers, but he could do nothing to act on his own wants. Schala would belong to his father, not him.

Yil was quick, yanking Schala’s hands above her head and lashing them together with the rope she had procured, then forcing them down to the bed and looping the free end of the cord around the crude but solid headboard. The thin-woven rope dug painfully into the raw skin on her wrists, but as Schala’s mind began to recover from its drugged stupor, she had to admit that it was still more comfortable than the shackles in her cell. Even so, it was far too tight to twist out of, though even if she were able to escape these bonds, she could hardly escape the entire Earthbound family...

“Tie her legs apart,” Aranda instructed, watching the proceedings with unconcealed excitement. “Make sure your father can get inside her.”

The reminder of their dark intentions snapped Schala out of her daze. Dread surged through her, restoring life to her exhausted body. She thrashed and kicked and screamed, fighting them with every ounce of strength she could muster, but it was a lost cause from the beginning. With her hands tied together and Vareth sitting on top of her, holding her down, her options were extremely limited. Yil had no difficulty spreading Schala’s legs and binding each ankle to opposite corners of the bed, ensuring that she couldn’t close her thighs to hide her womanhood.

“You can get off of her now, Vareth,” Aranda said, a note of command in her amiable words.

The boy hesitated, staring down at the naked, helpless girl stretched out beneath him. She could see the deep desire in his eyes, the set of his jawbone revealing his anger. He wanted her for himself, she could tell. She might even have welcomed his touch and begged him to take her, had her mind still been fogged by herath lust, but now she was lucid and he was her kidnapper once again. One abuser was much the same as another.

Finally, Vareth grudgingly climbed off of Schala and moved to join his grandmother by the door. Yil began to follow, but stopped and turned back to the bound princess, returning to her side. Her grasping little hands dove behind Schala’s head, untying the leather straps of her gag before pulling the moistened wooden bar from between her teeth.

“So I can hear your screams better,” she chirped, very nearly skipping on her way out the door with Vareth and Aranda. “Don’t go easy on her, father!”

Alone in the room with Schala at last, the shaggy-haired man drew close to her bedside, reaching for his leather-hide belt. “Oh, I won’t.”

-----
VII
-----

Her new shackles were made from the shredded remnants of her chemise, far gentler on her tender flesh than the heavy chains she had become accustomed to, but they were shackles nonetheless.

These more merciful restraints, hastily cobbled together by the Earthbound family in the aftermath of Schala’s violation, held her pinned to the very same bed on which the elder male had defiled her, her wrists stretched wide and lashed to the crude headboard, her ankles left free but too weak to move. The new arrangement was a relief to a girl who had spent an age chained upright to a wall, but the soft, thin fabric might as well have been iron for all the good it did her chances of escape. Her strength had been drained by the cycle of agonizing arousal forced upon her, not to mention the pain and humiliation of her most recent ordeal.

They hadn’t gagged her again since then, to her deep relief, nor given her any more of the horrid herb that had set her body aflame with lust. Shockingly, they had even bestowed upon her a blanket, woven from the fur of some lowerworld creature Schala had no desire to know of, and draped it over her naked form to insulate her from the cold. The rapid change in their attitude towards her since her unwilling coupling was almost frightening, but it was deeply appreciated by the fallen princess, even if she could see the hatred still burning in their eyes.

Left to her own bitter thoughts once more, tied down and completely exhausted, it had not taken her long to realize just why they were suddenly treating her like a human being. She was more than likely pregnant by now, she knew, thanks to the other effects of the herbal concoction that they had made her drink. To them, Schala was no longer merely an enemy to be reviled; she had become the carrier of one of their own, if they were lucky and she was not. By caring for her, they cared for her child and Relk’s. Mistreating her was no longer an option for them, or at least not in excess...

The thought of bearing the spawn of that man and his abhorrent relatives made her feel ill. The purity of her Enlightened heritage had been impressed upon her since an early age, and though Schala did not place as high an importance on it as did her mother, the very notion of polluting her ancient bloodline with the descendants of such animals revolted her. All she could do was pray that somehow she failed to fall pregnant, but it would be weeks before she knew for sure...

Unable to fall asleep despite her overpowering weariness, Schala’s mind soon began replaying the events of the last half hour, still vivid in her memories in defiance of her wish to forget it all.

Making love’ was the phrase that the polite and proper side of her wanted to call the frenzied, shuddering union of bodies she had been made to endure, but the more realistic part of her consciousness could only concur with the name the Earthbound had given it.

“Knew you could use a good fuck,” Relk had grunted as he slipped out of her trembling body, lavishing a slobbering kiss upon her unresisting lips.

“How did it feel to be fucked by a ground-dweller, your highness?” That had been Yil’s sneering voice, the spiteful girl beaming as she stepped back into the room to survey the aftermath of Schala’s torment.

“My own son, fucking royalty.” The crone Aranda had appeared even more pleased than her granddaughter, if such a thing were possible, as she tore the remains of Schala’s stained chemise into strips for binding its former owner’s limbs.

“One day, princess, it’ll be me fucking you.” Vareth had whispered those words into her ear as he untied the ropes from her wrists and ankles, holding her down so that his grandmother could re-bind her with the fresher, less painful restraints.

Fucking. The word was crude, but it was the only one that seemed to fit the brutal, animalistic dance of flesh that had taken place between her and the Earthbound father. It had been nothing like the romantic, tender ritual she had imagined before her fateful visit to the lowerworld. Even her enforced self-intimacy under the effects of the aphrodisiac had been more pleasant, less painful and humiliating. Her body still ached from Relk’s clumsy attentions, most prominently between her thighs, a constant reminder that she could not ignore. There was no escape from harsh reality. No way out.

Eventually sleep deigned to claim her, but her rapist was waiting for her within the prison of her dreams.

~ ~ ~

The hour was late, but it might have been the middle of the day for all that Schala knew. The walls of the cavern betrayed nothing of the outside world.

She had dozed off, but how long she had slept she could not say. How long she had been here, in the clutches of scheming Earthbound, was a question even more difficult to answer. It seemed like an eternity since she had woken up in chains, her head aching from the aftereffects of the sleeping pollen they had used to subdue her. Did it even matter? There was no day and no night for her, but it barely made a difference when she could do nothing but lie here and stare at the ceiling, reliving the abuse she had suffered. Here, it seemed as if she were outside of time itself.

“Schala.”

Her eyes fluttered open as her name was called, only to find the younger male of the Earthbound standing over her. Vareth, she believed he had given his name as. She hadn’t heard him come in, and she wondered just how long he had been there, watching her. Her skin crawled at the thought, although he had already done far worse to her than stare. She remembered his amorous kiss, his hands working her helpless body into half-mad lust...

A shameful moment passed before she noticed the clay cup in his hands, and her heart sank like a stone. No... not the heratha... not again...

He saw the fright in her eyes and the directed of her gaze, and gave her a yellow-toothed smile. “Don’t worry, it’s not what you think it is. I have a deal to propose you, Schala.”

“A deal...?” Her voice was raspy, but her curiosity evident. Vareth was keeping his voice low, as if he didn’t want anybody but Schala to hear him. Was he hiding something from the others? She hadn’t forgotten the last thing he said to her while he was untying the ropes that had bound her down to the bed. It was obvious that he wanted her, and was furious that it had been his father who had taken that privilege.

“You don’t want to bear my father’s child, do you?” He leaned in close to her, lowering the cup in front of her face to reveal the murky green liquid inside. It exuded a leafy odour, strong but not unpleasant. “Drink this and you won’t have to. It’ll make sure no little brother or sister of mine takes root inside you.”

Schala’s eyes widened at his claim, but her morbid interest was quickly overridden by confusion and suspicion. “Why? Why would you... don’t you want...?”

“I don’t want you to have his kid either,” Vareth said flatly. Schala could sense emotion lurking beyond the surface of the Earthbound youth; resentment, or outright anger. “Getting you pregnant so we can go and live up in the overworld... it’s a stupid plan. Idiotic. Your mother wouldn’t go along with it, would she? Your kind wouldn’t accept us up there just because of blood ties, like Grandmother says you would.”

No, they wouldn’t. Mother would kill you for daring to try. She’d exile me for tainting myself. Schala swallowed hard, the thought of her mother’s wrath making her wince. Queen Zeal had not always been so vindictive and cruel as she was today, but there was no doubt in her mind that the Earthbound family’s plan was doomed to fail in the most tragic of fashions. The Queen would never honor the duties toward kin that her captors had spoken of, that had once been respected in Zeal. Shared blood would mean nothing to her.

All this - her kidnapping and imprisonment, her aphrodisiac-fueled torment, her violation beneath the body of this youth’s father - all of it had been for nothing.

She gave no answer, but the expression on her lovely features told Vareth all that he needed to know. “I didn’t think so,” he spat, running a hand over his rage-contorted face. “Father, Grandmother, Yil... they’re all fooling themselves. We’re never going to live in Zeal with your kind. That was set in stone when we were born without magic. This is all just a giant waste of time.”

“Then... then let me go. Please.” Schala had not expected one of her captors to suddenly develop a conscience after everything they had done to her, but she knew that she could not afford to miss this chance. “There’s no purpose in keeping me here. Just let me go home, I promise I won’t tell. I swear it. Please...”

Vareth’s mouth curled into a scornful grin, and Schala’s reignited hopes fizzled and died once again.

“Let you go?” The youth shook his head, as if the very idea were insultingly ridiculous. “No, Princess, I won’t do that. Remember I said I wanted to make a deal with you? I’m not giving you this,” he hoisted the cup, “for free. There’s something you’re going to do for me in trade.”

“What is it?” Schala croaked, sure that she would regret asking. How had she ever thought that this... this ghoul would just release her? He was the same as the others, just as complicit in her mistreatment even if he disagreed with his family’s motives. He had enjoyed molesting her.

Vareth set the cup down on the shabby bedside table and turned back to her, his tongue sliding languidly along dried lips. “Let me show you.”

Moving fast, the boy tore the fur blanket from the bed in a single violent motion and cast it aside. Schala gasped as cold air lashed her bare skin, a blush seeping into her pale cheeks as she was exposed against her will once again, but she could neither cover nor warm herself with her wrists still tightly secured to the headboard above her. Her modesty was as keen as ever, though by now she had been nude in his presence more than she had been clothed.

Vareth wasted no time in climbing onto the bed and on top of her, his much larger form straddling hers, one knee resting on either side of her torso as he squatted atop her. Of course he wanted sex in exchange, Schala realized, feeling even more a fool for ever doubting it. The real surprise was that he was offering her anything in trade at all, when he could simply have taken her as his father had...

He noticed the way she clamped her thighs together beneath him, barring the way to her most vulnerable of places, but his only reaction was to favor her with a cruel, yellowed grin. He did not seem angry or annoyed by this meager defiance, nor did he make any effort to part her legs despite how easy it would surely have been for him to break her body’s feeble resistance. “Don’t worry, Princess,” he hissed as he reached for his ragged trousers, tugging the tattered garment down his hips and exposing something that Schala had no desire to see. “I’m not going down there, not until I can clean my father’s taint from you.”

His hand slipped behind Schala’s neck, cradling her head and lifting it from the bed. No longer could she hide from his rising manhood; she was forced to look directly at it, his crotch unnervingly close to her face and getting closer by the second.

Oh no...

“I’m going to teach you a new trick,” Vareth whispered as he guided himself toward her tightly sealed mouth, holding her head trapped in place to deny her escape. The tip of his cock prodded her soft lips, demanding entry. “Open up.”

Schala kept her jaw clamped shut, her eyes shimmering with tears and her stomach roiling in disgust. She didn’t want that foul thing anywhere near her mouth, let alone inside. It was impossible not to breathe in the musky scent of his manhood, pressed firmly beneath her nostrils as it was, and the smell was disgusting enough. There was no way she wanted to taste it...

“Open!” he growled, the volume of his voice rising dangerously. Unfortunately for Schala, there was no sign that anybody had heard it. “Please me and I’ll make sure no kid starts growing in you. You won’t have to bear the child of the man who raped you. This is your only chance to escape that fate, Princess. I won’t offer this again.”

Tears fell, leaving salty trails across Schala’s reddened cheeks. She couldn’t let herself fall pregnant to Vareth’s father, no matter the cost. Disgrace followed disgrace in the hell her life had become, but she would not accept that. She had to protect herself, or be shackled to her Earthbound tormentors forever. She needed the herbal brew the youth had made for her, and she needed it before Relk’s seed took root within her womb.

Loathing herself even more than she did him, the princess opened her mouth and let her captor do as he pleased.

~ ~ ~

Amid the howling winds and raging sleet of the lowerworld, the ancient Skyway burst into glowing, glorious life.

One after another, a procession of heavily armored figures stepped from the column of light within the stonework structure, freshly dispatched from the overworld of Zeal. Numbering five in all, the soldiers marched out of the receiving gateway and onto the tundra, their heavy boots stamping pits into the snow as they lined up in orderly fashion.

One last man joined them as the light inside the Skyway faded, his golden hair and golden cape flapping wildly as he prepared to address his assembled underlings. He drew the latter adornment around himself with a grimace, glaring at his men with his one good eye. “Princess Schala has been away from Zeal for too long this time, dallying with the worthless Earthbound Ones,” he announced, his booming voice fighting the wind and winning. “Our orders are to bring her back home, whether she wants to come or not. Don’t let her pull rank on you, ‘cause these orders come from the Queen herself. Got it?”

The soldiers saluted as one. “Yes, Lord Dalton.”

-----
VIII
-----

“I’m telling you, she isn’t here!” The scrawny old Earthbound man jabbed a bony finger in the direction of the tunnels leading back to the surface. “Lady Schala left us ten days ago and returned to Zeal! We haven’t seen her since! Why would we lie about that!?”

Dalton stared down his nose at the little man, his one good eye narrowing as his face twisted in annoyed disgust. “How would I know the ways you wretched creatures think? The princess should never have associated with the likes of you. She is above you, as am I. Schala has been absent from Zeal for two weeks now, and where else would she go but this crude little hovel you insects call a town?”

Clearly intimidated by Dalton’s arrogant display, the elder nevertheless refused to back down. Of course, he had little choice in the matter, for as far as he knew he was speaking the truth. “I saw her leave m-myself! She knew she would be punished if she stayed away too long, that wretched mother of hers-”

“I suggest you watch your mouth where your Queen is concerned,” Dalton growled, grinding his teeth, though mostly for show. “Are you suggesting that some fate befell her after she left this place, but before she reached the Skyway? Did you truly allow Schala to set out into the snow by herself, without proper escort?”

“She wouldn’t have it!” the old man whined, sensing the mood turning from bad to worse. “She never thought herself above us simply because she possessed the gift of magic. Although... two of our people were spotted leaving shortly after Lady Schala departed. Not truly members of the village, but... outsiders, occasional visitors. It is possible that they may have seen her, might know where she went...”

Dalton grimaced. “I want their names and where to find them. Tell me and I might spare you the pain you’re going to receive otherwise.”

~ ~ ~

“Wake up, Schala. It’s time for your bath.”

Schala’s eyes slowly opened as she was torn from her slumber, the blurry mess of pink and brown she beheld soon becoming more defined, revealing her visitor’s identity. It was Yil, her fingers working at the knots that bound Schala’s right wrist to the bed on which she lay. “What...?”

“Didn’t you hear me? Your bath. Or have you forgotten what one is after spending so long wallowing in your own filth?” The girl’s scornful words would have offended Schala once, but verbal abuse was the least of the trials she had been forced to endure. “I’m the one who has to bathe you, since you won’t be able to do it for yourself. Just remember, I’m doing this for the child, not for you.”

The knotted scraps of chemise fell away from her tortured wrist, and Schala gladly took the opportunity to stretch her newly freed limb while she had the chance. The sores inflicted on her by the metal shackles she had worn had started to heal, but even the new fabric bindings had left their marks on her, branding red lines into her soft white flesh. It didn’t hurt as much as it once had, or perhaps her tolerance for pain had increased. She was just grateful to have a measure of movement back, even if she was unlikely to be able to use it to escape.

As Yil struggled to untie Schala’s remaining wrist, the princess turned her thoughts to what her captor had said. They were only being nice to her now, or relatively so, because they believed she carried the child that would be their ticket to a new life with the Enlightened in Zeal. Perhaps she might have, had it not been for the secret intervention of Yil’s own brother; only hours ago he had visited her and allowed her to drink a mixture of herbs that would prevent the pregnancy her rape would likely have resulted in. It was an enormous relief to Schala, not having to worry about carrying her rapist’s child against her will, and the rotten taste of the concoction had even washed away the taste Vareth’s cock had left behind...

The last of her bonds were pulled loose, and Yil took a step back from the bed. “Get up.”

Schala obeyed, though her movements were slow and difficult. This was the first time that they had allowed her to move on her own since... since her captivity had begun. It was a struggle, but she managed to pull herself to her feet and stand, her body only swaying a little as her legs became re-accustomed to their duties. Unbound at last, she began to feel almost human again, rather than the helpless, ruined creature she had become.

Her elation faded, however, when Yil brandished a length of rope. “Give me your hands.”

“Not again,” Schala pleaded, her gentle voice hushed and broken, but it did her no good. In a matter of moments Yil had snared the Enlightened girl’s wrists in a loop of the rope and lashed them together in front of her, leaving a significant amount of cord hanging free which she opted to keep hold of for the moment. These new bonds were not slack enough to slip out of easily, but nor were they painfully tight. Perhaps this wouldn’t be as bad as she had feared...

Then Yil drew several pieces of cloth from the inner pockets of her stolen robes, among them her own familiar orange hairscarf, and she knew what was coming next. “You don’t have to gag me,” she protested, recoiling from the younger girl as best she could with her hands bound and linked to the Earthbound’s grip. “I’ll be quiet. Please...”

“Shut up! It’s Grandmother’s fault we ever let you be without one.” Yil closed in on Schala, tugging on the rope to bring her close, and forced a handful of wadded rags deep inside the princess’ mouth. Her tongue rubbed against the cloths as it was pressed down beneath them, testing for the telltale sweetness of the heratha drug, but these tasted only of dirt. “You should be gagged at all times, unless you’re getting fed or fucked,” Yil went on, forcing the hairscarf between Schala’s teeth to hold the rags inside and tying it at the back of her head once again. “You don’t need to talk to grow the baby in you. The only time I want to hear your voice is when you’re screaming.”

Schala averted her gaze. None of the four members of this family were good people, not Relk who had raped her, not Vareth who had bribed her into pleasuring him, not Aranda whose idea all of this torture had been... but Yil was the worst of them all. She had never seen so much spite in a person before, so much hatred. It terrified her to think that an Earthbound could possibly think this way, and she could not help wondering how many others felt the same.

~ ~ ~

“Sir, are you certain we have the right place? These caves are deserted.”

Dalton fixed his cycloptic glare on the soldier who had spoken, his lower lip curling in displeasure. “Keep looking! I want to be certain that this ‘Aranda’ does not dwell here before we return to the village with our tails between our legs. If we don’t find Schala quickly, Her Majesty will not be forgiving.”

The soldiers returned to their search, convinced by now that they would find nothing but unwilling to risk the wrath of Dalton, much less Queen Zeal. They fanned out throughout the caverns, swords drawn, none concerned that they might meet their equal in combat, but intending to make use of the threat of an unsheathed weapon should they actually discover somebody living in these caves...

~ ~ ~

Dragged from the bedchamber by her bound wrists, Schala was led back into the maze of caverns that served as home for Yil and her family, reminiscent of the settlement of Algetty but at the same time a world apart.

The girl had no patience for Schala’s weakness, berating her every time she stumbled, tugging on the rope whenever she became too slow for her liking. Fortunately, it was not long before walking became second nature to the princess once more, and she found herself mostly able to keep up with her tormentor as she was brought deeper and deeper into the caves. How far from the surface they were she could not tell, but the winding paths ahead of them seemed to lead ever downward.

Before long, the silence was overwhelmed by the faint sound of running water echoing through the caverns, growing louder by the moment. Was an underground river nearby? Had Schala’s mouth not been stuffed full of rags she might have asked, but there was no option for the gagged girl but to wait and see. Yil had spoken of bathing her, after all, though she might consider herself lucky if she escaped without being drowned.

Their journey ended inside a spectacularly wide cavern, shaped like an elongated dome, far larger than any Schala had ever seen in all of her visits to the lowerworld. Sure enough, through the center of the magnificent grotto flowed a wide, deep river, submerging almost three-quarters of the cave in clear, cold water. From the shalestone shore it was impossible to see from where this river emerged, nor to where it flowed, but the sight was utterly breathtaking without need for such petty details.

For Schala, however, there was no time for sightseeing. “Get in,” Yil growled, releasing the rope attached to her captive’s wrists and giving her a rough shove towards the water. “Now.”

“Hrrrghh...” Groaning into her filthy gag, Schala almost lost her balance on the smooth, slick grey stone of the riverbank. Shooting a furious glare over her shoulder at Yil, she stumbled across the declining banks until her bare feet met water...

She had endured the frozen surface of the lowerworld, spent days naked in these caves, and thought she had known cold. The river, however, was freezing. Surely Yil didn’t expect her to bathe in this!

Of course, she did. Irritated at Schala’s hesitation, Yil was already making her way over the riverbank towards her, her small hands clenched into fists. Schala turned to face her, almost defiant despite her nudity and her tightly bound hands. She carried Yil’s own brother or sister, as far as the Earthbound girl knew; she could hardly be too violent with Schala if she wanted to avoid harming the child. She could not speak to reinforce this fact, the gag too thick and tight to talk through intelligibly, so she thrust her belly forward as if to say remember, you can’t harm me.

Yil’s hand cracked across Schala’s face with blinding speed, sending her tumbling into the frigid shallows.

Pain ripping through her cheek, her vision filled with pinpricks of light, Schala could not keep her head from plunging under the water as she fell. The unexpected violence had shocked her almost as much as the force of the blow itself. For a blissful moment she thought that perhaps she might drown after all, that she might be freed of this hell by the embrace of death, but even this morbid dream was shattered as Yil hauled her back out of the water by her hair, holding her face inches above the water’s surface by her now-drenched blue locks.

“You think I care if you lose the baby!?” she screamed into Schala’s ear, yanking her hair once more and enjoying the muffled whine that followed. “We can just have Father fuck you again and make another one! Or maybe Vareth, we both know he wants his turn with you! Damn it, I’d do it if I could!”

Schala could only fix the younger girl with a broken gaze, her tears indistinguishable from the river water running down her face. How could this girl hate her this much?

“Oh, you still think you’re better than me!?” Yil’s furious ranting echoed throughout the vast cavern; Schala wondered if they might hear her in Algetty, or perhaps even in Zeal. “You think you wouldn’t do this in my place!? If you were made to live in this purgatory because you didn’t have the fortune to be born with magical talents!?”

Guilt flashed through Schala’s eyes. She knew it was true, had always known. One accident of birth and she could have been condemned to live out her entire life down here on the frozen lowerworld, just like Yil and her brother, father and grandmother. Like everyone in Algetty.

“Go on, say it!” Yil tore Schala’s hairband out of her mouth and pulled out the stuffing of her gag, casting the saliva-drenched cloths to the shore. “Say you’re better than us! I know you believe it!”

Spitting into the river to clear the horrid taste from her mouth, Schala shook her head as well as she could with Yil still grasping her hair. “I never... believed that...”

Liar!” Sinking her other hand into the Enlightened girl’s hair to reinforce her grip, Yil dragged Schala the few meters back to shore, heedless of her pained cries. When they were both out of the water, the Earthbound threw her to the slippery shalestone and stood over her, breathing heavily from a mix of exertion and rage. “Why wasn’t I born like you!? I deserve it more! Mother was even-”

Schala stared up at her questioningly, too weak to do anything else.

“She was one of you,” Yil rasped, weariness taking over her hateful features. “I was supposed to be like you. Enlightened. Vareth, too. Father thought one parent with magic would be enough to give us a future, but he was wrong. So fucking wrong. I don’t have an ounce of magic in me.”

“I’m s-sorry...” Schala whimpered, but her sharp mind was hard at work. Yil’s mother had been an Enlightened? If that was so, and Yil and her brother still lacked magical ability, then...

“Shut up! Shut up!” The tiredness vanished, consumed by reignited rage as Yil bared her teeth at the princess. “You’re nothing! You’re only even here because your magic is supposed to be stronger than anyone’s, but you can’t even escape four powerless Earthbound! Why should you be a better mother than... than... her!?”

Schala bit her lip, deciding not to mention the stolen dreamstone pendant that had focused her power. The pieces of the story had finally all come together, but she felt no better for the revelation. “What... happened to your mother?”

Yil’s brown eyes hardened, narrowing in contempt. “I liked you better when you were gagged.”

No... not that again... “Wasn’t... wasn’t I supposed to wash?” she deflected, hoping to prolong her comparative freedom. She had no desire to go back to Relk’s bed and be tied there for days at a time, waiting for the next Earthbound to come along and molest her while she was helpless. “I’m not really very clean yet...”

“...Fine.” It seemed that Yil’s anger had finally burned out, but she was still overly rough when she dragged Schala back to her feet by the rope bound around her wrists. She began to haul the naked princess back toward the water’s edge. “I’ll make damn sure you’re clean before we go back up. I was getting sick of your stink.”

-----
IX
-----

“It appears that someone has been living here, sir,” the soldier needlessly reported. Surrounded as they were by a cave full of crude wooden furnishings and the leftovers of a meal, it was scarcely something that required pointing out. “This must be the place after all.”

“Indeed,” Dalton concurred, not bothering to mask his amused contempt for his underling. “but where are they now? Search everything. Turn this wretched dump upside down.”

Over the next few minutes the men of Zeal did just that, tearing the subterranean dwelling apart in search of any clues to the whereabouts of the Earthbound family or, more importantly, Schala herself. Dalton looked on as his minions did the work, his boot tapping on the cavern floor in impatience as he waited for the men to bring him something, some sign that the princess of Zeal had been here after all, that this wasn’t just a wild goose chase...

Had his patch been covering the opposite eye, he would not have seen the blur of movement in the passageway outside.

Unfortunately for Relk, Dalton did see him as he peered around the entrance to his family’s home, quickly withdrawing upon sight of the Zeal contingent within. A barked order from the one-eyed officer and two of the soldiers were in pursuit of the Earthbound man, returning shortly after with his struggling form dragged between them. Relk was forced to his knees in front of Dalton and held there by the soldiers, looking up at the golden-haired man with the same fear his kind always exhibited in the presence of their betters.

“Where is Lady Schala?” Dalton demanded of him without ceremony, his patience already well and truly expired.

“L-Lady Schala? The princess?” Relk blinked in obviously feigned surprise; the man was no actor. Dalton doubted that he had the brains for very much at all. “How should I know? The last place somebody like her would come is-”

“Sir,” one of the soldiers interrupted, entering from one of the neighboring caves. He passed something to his superior, to Relk’s discomfort. “I found these tied to a bed nearby, as if they had been used to bind someone to it. They’re...”

“Certainly not commonly found in this cesspit of a civilization,” Dalton finished, running the soft strips of Schala’s ruined chemise between his fingers and thumb. “This cloth is available only in Zeal. It is not meant for you lowerworld rats. Schala was here.

There were other possible explanations for the presence of the fabric, but the finality with which Dalton spoke those words was enough to unnerve Relk into capitulation.

~ ~ ~

Schala had adjusted to the temperature of the underground river much faster than she had expected, but she could hardly call her situation comfortable.

Forced to sit nude in the shallows with the water up to her waist and her hands still bound in her lap, the princess closed her eyes tight and let Yil scrub her back raw. The washcloth the girl had brought from the dwelling was painfully coarse, leaving her skin throbbing in pain, but this was not the worse occasion on which her captors had bathed her - that honor went to the encounter with Aranda shortly after her first taste of aphrodisiac, as clinical as it had been humiliating. She could endure this if she needed to, but...

“I can clean myself,” she dared to murmur, still conscious of the threat of being gagged once again but loathing being washed by another, as if she were too useless to even perform such a simple task on her own. She could have made a reasonable effort, even with her hands tied, but instead she was made to sit and suffer as Yil ravaged her body with her vigorous scrubbing. “You don’t really have to do this...”

“Quiet.” There was less hatred than before in her captor’s voice, but Schala still knew better than to defy her. To her surprise, she heard a subdued splash behind her, and then Yil’s chest was pressing hard against her back, the Earthbound girl’s legs spreading to either side of her own as she pulled the shivering princess into an awkward, unwanted embrace. For the first time in days Schala felt the familiar sensation of her robes against her bare skin, but this time they were worn by another.

What was this sudden intimacy? Somehow, this unexpected tenderness from Yil was more frightening than her rage.

She received little warning before the washcloth was sweeping down over her face, scrubbing fervently at her forehead and her cheeks. Yil’s motions were not as harsh as they had been before, but they were certainly not gentle either; Schala closed her eyes and mouth tight, holding her breath until the cloth slipped under her chin and went to work on her neck. At least her tormentor was doing a thorough job, she had to admit. She had never felt so clean as she did now, and the job was less than half finished.

Yil’s attentions steadily moved down Schala’s collar and toward her chest, her scrubbing once again increasing in intensity as it went, scourging the princess’ flesh. Schala swallowed in apprehension as the cleaning rag drew nearer to her breasts, fighting the urge to raise her bound hands to protect them. She didn’t want the rough cloth anywhere near her nipples, already perked and sensitive from the cold...

She managed to stifle a whimper as the harsh fabric of the washcloth rubbed against her tender nubs, first the right, then the left, lingering far longer than was truly necessary on each. Relieved that it was done, and that she had controlled her reaction, Schala let a shuddering breath escape her lungs.

She had not been expecting Yil to drag the cloth back across her breast in the opposite direction, the sudden friction against her nipple making her cry out in shock as much as arousal. “Nnngh...”

A wicked smile crept over Yil’s features, and she swapped the cloth to Schala’s right nipple, then repeated the procedure with torturous slowness.

“Ughh... nnngh...” Schala sank her teeth into her lower lip, but could not stop the gasps of pleasure from slipping from her mouth. What was wrong with her? She wasn’t this weak-willed. “S-stop it,” she whimpered, hating her body for reacting to such crude stimulation.

“Oh, you don’t like it?” Mockery ran thick through Yil’s words as she teased Schala’s nipple with a fingertip, her nail tracing wayward paths around the rosy nub. “You seemed to enjoy it when my brother played with you, Princess. I remember the little noises you made when you were screwing yourself silly...”

“I was drugged!” Schala snapped, her tone much more aggressive than she had intended. The feather-light sensations dancing across her peaks were getting to her, fogging her mind and summoning unwelcome warmth between her thighs. “I didn’t want... nnh...”

“And what’s your excuse now?” Yil whispered in her ear, leaning over her shoulder from behind. “It doesn’t even take herath weed to have you mewling like a slut.”

Schala pressed her lips together to strangle the humiliating sounds, her teeth clamped down on her tongue. The herb must still be in her system, she reasoned. Yes, surely that was it. It had to be.

“I bet I don’t even need a cock to make you come,” the Earthbound girl hissed, still teasing nubs with delicate strokes. “Perfect Princess Schala, so pretty and kind, an angel sent down from the sky. What would people say if they knew you were such a little whore?” She increased the pressure and chuckled as another quivering gasp burst from Schala’s lips, breaking through her pitiful defenses.

“Y-you did this to me,” the princess protested, trying desperately to rein in her desires. She was stronger than this. “I’m n-not a whore. You’re f-forcing me...”

Yil’s fingers seized on Schala’s nipples, pinching hard and squeezing. “Whore,” she repeated, but the accusation was lost in the blue-haired girl’s moan of pained pleasure.

The Enlightened girl cringed at the sounds she was making, self-loathing seething beneath sensuous excitement. She couldn’t let herself be manipulated like this any longer. Gathering her faltering willpower, she bucked against the embrace in which she was held, her bound hands rising to lock around Yil’s wrist and pry it away from her chest. “Stop it! Get off me! Get off!”

Stunned by this audacious rebellion, it took a few moments for Yil to regain control of the situation. Locking her legs around Schala’s thighs, she snatched the length of rope left trailing from the older girl’s wrists and yanked it down hard, forcing the princess’ hands to snap down uselessly into her lap. Not yet satisfied, Yil passed the loose rope between Schala’s legs and up through her buttocks, then drew it up through the tiny gap between the two girls’ torsos... and pulled it tight with all of her strength.

With nowhere else to go, the rope sliced up into Schala’s crotch, embedding itself deep in her nether lips.

An earthshaking moan erupted from her mouth at this brutal stimulation, her body going as stiff as the painfully rough cord stretched taut through her sex. Pleasure flooded through her, mixed once again with pain, bringing tears to her eyes and bile to her throat as she adjusted to the biting tension. Her every breath was wracked with shudders, her gaze unfocused. Curse her body for reacting so...

~ ~ ~

Aranda flinched as the pendant was torn loose from around her throat.

“Where is Schala?” Dalton demanded, his tone low but with steel sheathed within. He was tired of asking the question; despite his admittance that she had been here in this cavern, Relk had been unable to give him an answer. The soldiers of Zeal had been forced to wait until another member of the family returned to their home, and as luck would have it, it had been the matriarch of the clan who next arrived. Dalton had noticed the dreamstone pendant immediately; the stupid woman had worn it like a trophy.

Unlike her son, Aranda harbored defiance within her withered frame. “Why should I tell you?” she spat, the same hatred that had so cowed Schala now searing Dalton as well. “What do I get out of it? My life? My freedom? What do those things mean to me anymore? I’m already ancient! I’ve lived my entire life in this prison of ice and stone, all because I wasn’t born with-”

“I’ve heard this one before,” Dalton interrupted, “and it was boring the first time. Tell me where Schala is and I won’t make life for your grandchildren a living misery. It can get far worse for them than it is now, believe me.”

~ ~ ~

The rope fell loose from Schala’s nethers, dropping listlessly into the water, but the breathless groan that slipped from her slackened jaw resonated with loss as much as relief.

“I could have had you,” Yil taunted the panting girl, still holding her captive in their seated embrace, twisted imitation of comfort. “You would have gone all the way, just from the touch of a rope between your legs. I don’t need to let you finish to know what would have happened. Sorry if you’re disappointed.”

Was she disappointed? Schala’s thoughts were as confused as her body. She hadn’t wanted to be molested like this, any more than she had wanted any of the other occasions sex had been forced on her, but she couldn’t deny that her body had been all too accepting of Yil’s careful manipulation. Perhaps it yearned for the only enjoyment it could conceive of anymore, no matter how fleeting...

“We didn’t have to hate each other.” The wistful thought became spoken words before Schala realized it. Perhaps it was this closeness, so close to a loving embrace yet so very different. “We didn’t have to end up like this.”

“Quiet.” Yil’s hand moved to Schala’s breast once more, fingers poised to pinch her tender nipple... then fell away. Had the Earthbound girl finally grown tired of tormenting her?

“I can’t help how I was born, any more than you can.” She had longed to speak these words, to make her captors see reason, but until now something had always been there to stop her; a gag, or mind-addling lust, or her own fear as she begged for mercy. Now that she had an opportunity, she would take it. “What have I done to make you hate me, but that which I cannot control? Why do I deserve...”

“I said be quiet.” This time Yil did pinch Schala’s vulnerable nub, just enough to make her whimper in discomfort. “Don’t play the innocent with me, Schala. You’ve always been good at talking, but you’ve never changed anything.”

I’ve tried!” Schala pressed on, knowing that this was her best chance at breaking through the barrier of the younger girl’s hatred. “I begged Mother to let Enlightened and Earthbound live as one, but she wouldn’t have it! The nobility won’t have it! Even the people... they don’t want you to live among them either...” She could almost feel the anger building inside of Yil, and this time she knew that it was justified. The selfishness of her own people disgusted her as well. “When Mother dies, I will be Queen of Zeal. I can change things. I just need time...”

She had expected Yil to pinch her, or beat her, or scream abuse in her ear, but for a while there was nothing but silence.

Unease swirled inside of Schala as the lull dragged on, leaving her desperately curious as to just what was going through the other girl’s mind. “Yil...”

“You just want me to let you go. You can’t fool me.” Shoving Schala aside, letting her fall onto her side in the shallows, Yil climbed to her feet and began to wring the water out of her stolen robes. She sounded shaken, as if Schala’s words had truly affected her. “Even if you’d have done it before, you wouldn’t now. Not after this.”

Who are you trying to convince? Schala was tempted to ask, but didn’t want to risk the exchange turning sour. She used her tied hands to push herself back into a sitting position, closer to the shore. “What good does it do you to keep me here? Even if I’m pregnant, it won’t change anything! You have to know that Mother won’t just-”

Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up!” This time the fury in Yil’s screams was laced with panic, and Schala knew that she had lost her. In moments the discarded rags had been forced back inside Schala’s mouth to silence her, the hairscarf tied so savagely between her teeth that she feared the corners of her lips might tear under the strain. She immediately attempted to pull the gag back out, but Yil snatched up the trailing rope around her wrists and pulled it taut, drawing Schala’s hands away from her mouth before she could even begin to loosen the cruelly tight scarf.

Her tearful pleas smothered by the cloths packed inside her jaw, Schala could do nothing to prevent Yil hauling her to her feet by the rope and dragging her toward the tunnels leading back toward the family’s cavernous dwelling. Her naive hopes had curled up inside her and died; even confronted with logic and a genuine possibility of seeing Zeal someday, Yil had chosen to keep Schala locked in this endless cycle of misery and pain. The girl was delusional, beyond reason, and she had no doubt that the rest of her family were the same. Living in an isolated community of four, feeding on each others’ festering hate... it would poison anyone’s mind. What hope did Yil ever have?

As far as the princess could see, there was no hope for anyone in this farce. Not Yil, not her brother or father or grandmother... and least of all, for Schala herself.

-----
X
-----

Schala’s time in the underground river had cleansed her dirtied hair and skin, but the clear, cold water could do nothing for the taint that had been branded into her soul.

Forced to stumble along in Yil’s wake, her bare feet tormented by sharp stones and ridges in the cavern floor, she no longer dared to dream of the light. She would never be able to convince this Earthbound family to let her go. Each one of them was twisted in their own way, warped beyond even basic human kindness, and each with their own sordid motive for keeping her captive as long as possible; to rape her, to have her bear a child, or merely out of a blend of jealousy, hatred and mad delusion.

What would happen to her when they discovered she was not pregnant after all? They would rape her again, that she knew without doubt, but would the boy Vareth allow her to have more of the herbs that had seemingly shielded her from his father’s seed? If he did, they might declare her barren and useless to them, but if he didn’t, and she bore an Earthbound child rather than an Enlightened in nine months’ time...

Her fate was the same either way. They would kill her, or keep her prisoner in these forsaken caves forever.

Yil was moving through the tunnels so fast that Schala feared that her bound arms might be torn off. The rope around her wrists served as her leash, as it had for the entirety of their visit to the underground river, and the Earthbound girl was no kinder a master now than she had been before. If anything, her treatment of Schala had become even more vicious since the exchange by the riverbank, pregnancy be damned. Of all the monsters in human form that made up this savage family, it was Yil that she now feared the most.

Therefore, it came as a surprise when she felt her leash slacken, giving her a moment to catch up. It was a courtesy she had been denied until now, and her legs ached for it. Had the girl had a change of heart? Thought through what Schala had said a little more carefully?

Her sky-blue gaze rose to the path ahead, and that was when she saw Dalton.

She could have wept for joy.

The golden-haired officer of Zeal stood blocking the tunnel, a blade in his hand and a flame in his one dark eye. She had never liked Dalton, finding him a distasteful buffoon prone to overstepping his boundaries, but she Schala had never been so relieved to see anyone in her life. Mother must have sent him! I’m saved...

She could see the fear on Yil’s rat-like face as she took a step back from him, reinforcing her hold on Schala’s leash. “Who are you?”

“Put the rope down and move away from the Princess.” Dalton’s tone left no question of the widsom of obeying him, and Yil did so at once, though very grudgingly.

He moved close to Schala and sheathed his sword, removing her stifling gag, then took her wrists in his hands and began to work at the knots binding her. “Take off the robe,” he snapped over his shoulder; despite his hindered eyesight, he was keeping watch on Yil as well as Schala. “It doesn’t belong to you.”

Again the Earthbound girl had no choice. Gritting her teeth, she shrugged off the purple robes of Zeal and cast them at Dalton’s feet, leaving her clad in only the most sparing of animal skin clothing. A tiny spark of spiteful gratification flared in Schala’s heart as her cruel captor was dealt a fragment of the humiliation that she been forced upon the cerulean-haired princess, though she was left ashamed of finding pleasure in the suffering of another. Even Yil.

The ropes fell free from Schala’s wrists, and Dalton knelt to scoop up the discarded robes. “These belong to you, my lady,” he said as he handed them to her, and Schala might have reassessed her unfavourable view of him had she not caught the way his eye swept over her nude body as he did. Dalton might be her savior, but he would never be a gentleman. “I am taking you home,” he added, tearing his gaze away from her breasts with some difficulty.

Well, I suppose I can afford him that... after all, he is rescuing me from this hell. A little peek at my body won’t hurt me. Still, Schala was quick to pull the purple robes over her head, letting the familiar fabric fall back over her body and cover her nakedness. They were still warm from Yil’s body heat, and already she was thinking ahead to replacing them when she returned to Zeal. She desired no reminders of t