Morcal’s perfect hands clutched Sora’s limp and bloodied body in their vicious iron grip. Long fingers held her unflinchingly, forcing the two of them so tightly together that he almost appeared to be holding her in embrace from behind. He gripped her full breasts, brutally squeezing the mounds of flesh over her clothing. Hooked black talons cut like obsidian glass through her leathers and ripped the soft skin beneath to bloody ribbons. She screamed in pain but fiercely maintained a determined expression. She was a Disciple and she was brave. Then Morcal’s hand found her shoulder, claws punching audibly through armour and popping skin. She sobbed in agony, wounded, exhausted and near broken.
All Victor could do was stand there, watching helplessly…watching as the long and lethal point of Morcal’s tail stinger, glistening with venomous promise, danced in ghosting touches along the silky white expanse of Sora’s pulsing throat…Its dance reminded him that her life rested in the Defiler’s hands, not his. He could imagine her pain, her fear… The demon could no doubt taste it too, just as he could taste Victor’s. Crimson eyes smirked at him.
Around them, the bitter fighting raged on and on in an unrelenting onslaught across the battlefield. The plains were ravaged, still piling higher and higher with the dead and wounded. Even the river Tyyne was tainted with the carnage, running red with blood and butchered bodies. The violence fell shy of the Defiler and his Disciple enemies. No-one dared to interrupt the lord of ash and fire. No-one but the Disciples.
“You claim to be strong, yet you would use my woman to harm me? You cannot fight me yourself?” Victor demanded. Nikodemus had told him long ago that Morcal was not only lord of ash and fire, the high demon’s evilly perverse nature was powered by other traits, one of the most notable being pride. “Fight me, not a wounded woman!”
Morcal said nothing, only smiled sweetly, black forked tongue snaking from between his purple lips. He licked them tantalisingly, extending the hot, wet touch to the milky nape of Sora’s neck…The air grew thicker, weighted with unease and tension…so tense it was choking, an immense but invisible force sinking into the rising plumes of smoke and ash that polluted the sky. Victor felt his blood boiling, rage and terror building in catastrophic waves within. He could do nothing.
“Look around you, champion,” Morcal commanded, smiling as his unnaturally beautiful and flawless face rose slowly from the comforts of Sora’s neck. He grinned, baring glittering black fangs that curved like tusks.
The fury of Morcal’s invasion appeared to consume reality itself, everywhere battle blotted the horizon, raging like a forest fire. Even the lands beyond the site of the battle were touched, reduced to crippled rock and charred soil. The screams were deafening, of both terror and pain. Explosions rattled the earth, launching up thick clouds of dust, grit and ash. It was the greatest battle Sagoria had ever seen…
But Victor did not care anymore, all he cared for was Sora and her safety. Thoughts of redemption, of their cause, they abandoned him. All he desired was to keep his wife alive and breathing. He would do anything, everything that the High demon commanded and more! The light that Sora shone on him was a beautiful and sacred thing, there existed no words he knew of to describe it, or the feelings it invoked. Warmth within the stone had come to life. Sora was the first person to locate a path, carving an unforeseen passage through layers of stone and right into his wicked heart, where she filled it with love. He had not known love for a long, long time…not until now. He would do absolutely anything for her, yet his closest companion and lover stood helpless and wounded in the grasp of Morcal the Defiler, lord of ash and fire. Victor was powerless. Morcal’s grip was too powerful for Sora to break out of and the demon’s deadly tail hovered too dangerously close to her throat for him to close the eight foot gap between them. His heart pounded like a stampeding bull ran amok in his chest.
“What do you see?” Morcal demanded.
“Your invasion,” Victor answered quietly. He tried to catch Sora’s eye but her head hung too low.
“Yes, my invasion. The ending of this old world and the dawning of my newer one. These events require patience, time. As do most things. Your time to fight and die at my hands will come soon enough.”
“Fight me now!” Victor growled, bloodied weapons trembling in his balled fists. “You wanted to fight me, did you not? The champion of the Disciples! She is too weak to pose any threat to your power. Fight me demon and I will give you the challenge you are worthy of.”
“None of you are worthy of providing me with challenge, not even you champion. Your title is one you have not earned, now your arrogance will lead you to your greatest fall. Only the strong can be arrogant.” The high demon grinned again and his hands squeezed at Sora’s shoulder once more. The razor sharp talons plunged into her skin like knives and she screamed in pain. She bucked, attempting to kick back at the demon. He was too strong and held her firmly.
Victor took a tentative step toward them but Morcal halted him in his tracks, tail stinger pricking Sora’s neck until a single droplet of blood welled in warning. One push, one tiny shove and she would be dead. Victor froze on the spot, raised both his hands and let his cutlass and gladius drop harmlessly to the ground. Then he looked to Sora, hanging limply as a broken leaf in the Defiler’s grasp. If it was not for the ragged rising and falling of her chest, he would have thought her dead. Her mane of tousled jet hair covered her face until finally she looked up, filthy and bruised. The enchanting green eyes that he loved so dearly, were glassy and glazed. Blood trickled down both her arms from the shoulders, dripping into a pool at her feet. Their eyes met, a binding of obsidian flint and emerald silk.
“I love you,” her eyes said.
“I’m sorry,” he mouthed.
His gaze then found the Defiler and for the first time in his brutal existence, utter defeat shone in those black depths. “Please, let her go and fight me. Take me if you wish, just let her go. I will do anything you ask.”
“Of course you will,” Morcal replied with an air of satsifaction. “It is what makes you so pathetically weak. A shame when you could have been so unimagineably powerful. Why would I exchange this wench’s life for your own when I may claim both? It is the victor’s right to take what he wants, not what he should.” The High demon sneered and the pale fire gleaming in those blood red eyes of his betrayed a vindictive hatred. A merciless fire that made his beautiful features all the more harrowing and unnatural. His pores seemed to radiate more and more malice, until the shadows mustered and rallied at his feet. Even the earth cracked, wilting beneath him as he brought Sora a step closer…only to grip her more tightly and snap both her collar bones like brittle twigs. She shrieked in agony, convulsing in Morcal’s grip!
“Stop! Please!” Victor begged, raising both hands again to claw helplessly at his own hair. He had never begged before. “Please, stop!”
The High demon stopped and Sora whimpered pitifully, only able to stand by his grace. The connection to him seemed to be sapping her of all her strength, sucking out all the life and will to fight.
“That’s it, beg. Make every precious second count!” Suddenly Morcal squeezed Sora again, talons burying fully through her flesh, chipping bone and locking in like the jaws of a feral predator. Blood gushed and Sora screamed! her knees wobbled violently before giving out. Morcal supported her weight and held her upright, visibly savouring every detail, each luscious jerk or kick she offered in protest. “You know she is going to die, yes?” The demon smiled slowly, forked tongue gently trailing his thin purple lips again. “I am going to kill her right before your eyes.” He was enjoying it, every second of it. “But your desperation amuses me, extends the inevitable…that’s what you want, yes? More time.”
“Please!” Victor begged, raising his bare hands higher in desperation. “Please let her go! Your quarrel is with me!”
“No Champion, my quarrel is with all of Sagoria. With all of your pathetic kind!” the demon spat over Sora’s bloody shoulder. “Your kind should have bowed to me when they were given the chance. Now, I will spare nothing. And you…YOU! The foolish worm who believed he was strong enough to prevent the inevitable… I told you that this world belonged to me. I also told you what would happen if your order stood against my will. Do you recall my words to you? Stand against me and I will take everything from you, champion. I will pick your bones clean. Then when you have lost everything, when nothing but pain and the abyss beat in the hollow chambers of your heart, I will end your curse and take your life.”