This is a preview chapter of Tales of an Enchantress, the sequel to Tales of a Seductress. This is not an official chapter. Just a preview. A sampler, if you will. Like a movie trailer, it may or may not appear verbatim in the book. It just gives you an idea of where the next book is heading. Let me know what you think.
I felt an aching pain in my stomach, the stress of the last few days had started to catch up to me. The chains rattled as I tried to readjust myself in a more comfortable position. I was simply waiting at the moment. I was waiting for the end.
I was dressed in a black and red dress. Perhaps it was a suiting dress to bring me to this end. I tried to consider all of the events that had lead me to this point. I had simply wanted to class up and succeed as an adventurer. Then there were the succubi, the adventurers, the rape farm, the invasion, the attack on the capital, and now I was here.
The flap to the tent opened up, and a skeletal looking man in a black robe peaked in. “It is time.”
I gave him a nod and moved to my feet. He checked the chains around my ankles and then put his hand on the chain hanging from hands, lifting me up to a standing position. Immediately, he started tugging me, pulling me along while keeping his distance.
We emerged into the early morning. There was a massive crowd of people around the tent, separated just enough to create an aisle for me to be walked down. People screamed and shouted, trying to reach out and grab a chunk of my dress or hair, to rip it out as a keepsake of this event. However, the guards surrounded me and made sure no one touched my body. The guards also made sure to keep their distance, putting weapons between us as they escorted me warily. Even here and now, I could see the fear in their eyes. While the crowds didn’t know, these people did. Touching me was death.
Of course, calling them people was a gross misrepresentation. These were monsters, not people. They were demons that came in all shapes and sizes. Their differing colors from red to blue to black created a chaotic cacophony that spread across either side of the aisle. I didn’t particularly hate demons, but the effect of so many of them was palpable. The roars were enough to shake even the sturdiest heart. An orchestra played as I was dragged down the row, giving me music as I was brought up to the unholy altar.
At the foot of the altar was a giant beast dressed in a black cloak. He held a long and massive axe, and he watched me expectantly as I approached. His skin was absolute red, and he had two massive ram horns. He was nearly eight feet tall and was the very idea of a devil. I was finally brought up to the front, and he grinned down at me with sharp teeth. I starred vacantly back, knowing that there was no way I’d be able to escape from this one.
Another man stood up in front of us and raised his arms, causing the crowd of screaming demons to quiet down. This man was actually a skeleton, his face devoid of skin, a hood I wish he had up failing to obscure his monstrous features. When the crowd of monsters finally silenced, he began to speak.
“Demons of Dragus, you have all been waiting for this event to arise. This woman… she has brought devastation, ruin, and destruction in her wake. It is about time that she was stopped.” There was more screaming, along with shouts and clapping, but the man quickly silenced them all with a single wave. “When a creature such as she comes into this world, there is but one option to restrain her.”
The demonic looking man put on a wicked smile, taking a step forward as he readjusted his hand on his axe. Once the yelling finally settled down, the skeleton put on a look that seemed like a smile.
“Aria… titled the Mother of All Monsters, the Reborn, and the God Slayer… Kree, The Demon King and Lord of Dragus, titled the Keeper of the Lost… we are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the Union of these two powers in holy matrimony!”
There was more screaming and my face began to grow more flushed. I looked off into the distance. We were on a hill overlooking the main city, but I was looking beyond that point, towards the western shore. The clouds seemed to be raining with enough force that fog draped down to ground and carpeted the land beyond, almost like the horizon was being swallowed. It looked like a storm was coming.
I idly wondered if he had made it alright? I didn’t know. The only thing I knew was that I was about to be betrothed to the monster that called himself Demon King. This wedding had come as a complete shock. He had wanted to possess me, but feared my powers if he was to give in before wedlock. I could barely hear the words as the skeletal priest continued to drone on, reciting passages that were from no bible I had ever read.
“Do you, Demon King Kree, take this bride to be yours until the darkness consumes us all?”
“I do!” Kree’s voice was a low and deep baritone.
“Do you, Mother of Monsters, Aria, take this man to be yours until the darkness consumes us all?”
I turned to face the man that I was being forced to marry. There was a palpable growing tension as the priest finished those words. Of course, there was the possibility I could say no. Not that I really had a choice in the end. Kree readjusted his hand on the axe. This day could just as easily end with him cutting me down on the altar. I had to do what I was told, or I would face the consequences.
“I…I…” A horn blasting in the distance blocked the answer that I gave.
There was a stir of confusion and a low mumble of voices. The storm in the distance was growing closer, but it had now arrived close enough that even I could tell that it was composed of rising dust, not clouds and rain. A low rumbling sound could be felt through the earth, and some of the more sensitive demons who had missed the abnormal vibrations in their states of revelry started to get uncomfortable looks.
The demon king looked over my head, which wasn’t difficult, as he talked. “What is this? Who is daring to disturb my wedding?”
“It’s an army, my lord, a human army! They’ve started their invasion.”
“Devon…” The words came out of my throat before I could stop myself.
Of course, that was absolutely crazy. It couldn’t possibly be Devon in charge of that army. I had already broken all ties between the pair of us. He wouldn’t build an army and try to take me back, would he? He couldn’t…
Kree shot me an irritated look before moving off to the side. “Postpone the wedding, retreat to behind the walls. I want to know how an army of humans got 600 miles deep into demon territory and show up nearly on our doorstep without us knowing it.”
There were several cries of surprise and protest as the wedding was ended in a flash. At this point, the army could be seen in the distance, a long line of men on horseback that stretched a mile in either direction crested the hill. Things were starting to go into motion as Kree grabbed my chain and began to yank me towards the city wall. If I pulled and ran, there was a chance I could make it to the human army, although I was just as likely to be killed by Devon as I was to be rescued. I had no clue if this was a rescue or an execution.
We were heading down the long line of people fleeing from the party for safety behind the city gates when another man came riding up in a hurry. He immediately saluted, but he seemed nearly in a panic.
“My lord! There is an army approaching the city!”
“I’m aware…” The Demon King snapped, “You can see them from here.”
He pointed out to the cloud of dust, which was starting to show the silhouettes of men on horseback during their approach.
“No, my lord, not the humans. Th-this… is an army of monsters!”
“An army of monsters? Monsters don’t form armies.”
“These do… my lord, I’ve confirmed it three times. The monsters have gathered into a massive horde, and they’re heading this direction. They’ll be at the city by tonight.”
The Demon King’s advisors all wore surprised looks on their faces, but the man himself thoughtfully scratched his chin, then he suddenly froze and his gaze fell on me. “What… have you done?”
I shrank back at his stare impulsively, but then took a breath and met him face on, squaring my shoulders as much as my shackles allowed. “You’re the ones who named me the mother of monsters. Tell me, Kree, what did you think would happen when you take a mother away from her children.”
“You…” His eyes began to narrow, and for a second it looked like he might swipe me away with his scythe, but then he relaxed. “It seems like you are the most valuable person here. By the time the sun sets, there will be a river of blood at your feet.”
“If you let me go, that can be avoided.”
“No…” he said slowly, then gave a laugh. “Let them break themselves on the walls of our great city. Demons, humans, monsters, the supremacy of this world can be decided tonight. I will keep you, Aria, you are mine, and I won’t let any army or horde take you from me.”
He turned and continued moving on. I was ushered on by his guards until we were inside the city gates. They closed just as the army crested the hill and started to make their final approach towards the city.
The Demon King was instantly surrounded by retainers, and with a shout the crowds split and he and his men moved on towards the castle. They likely had much planning to do. The guards pulled me along in tow, but the agitated and fearful crowds closed up faster than expected and my guardsmen were quickly cut off from the retinue following the Demon King.
They continued to pull me along by my chains, trying to keep a continuous separation between me and the panicked crowd as the pushed through. With demons running around desperately trying to find family and seek shelter, even the bulky demons who made up my guardsmen struggled to do this.
“It’s you!” A voice cried out as I was dragged on through the frantic crowd. “You’re the one who brought the humans upon us!”
It was a haggard looking woman with certain features that resembled a fish. She was pointing at me with webbed fingers and shrieking. Many people started turning towards me and the crowd of panicked onlookers started to turn around and whisper to each other. The guards held up their weapons immediately, forming a circle around me.
“That’s right, this is her fault!” A man with a snout shouted.
“It’s the monster’s whore! Burn her!”
“The Demon King has ordered you all to stand down. She is under his protection!” a guard bellowed back.
However, his voice quickly became lost in the shouting. The people of this city were already driven to the brink with fear, the normal fear they felt from the guards was lost in this moment. Something came flying past the guard and struck me in the temple. I fell to the side, the chains catching me before I landed on the ground.
More stuff was thrown, and the crowd started surging forward, pressing against the helpless guardsmen. One of them swung a blade, cutting down a shifty looking man. This seemed to be the catalyst, and with that the guards became overwhelmed. A surge of flesh shoved through the remaining guards, grabbing towards my body with a more violent purpose this time.
Of course, they didn’t know. How could they? As soon as a hand grabbed on to me, I released the power I had been holding on to. There were three men who had grabbed me first, including one of the guards which had fallen back and grabbed me inadvertently as he stumbled. Their bodies stiffened and their eyes seemed to dilate. Their jaws went slack, and all thought seemed to leave their brains.
More grabbed at me. I was being scratched and torn, some of the grips were very hard, the force of a demon behind those hands. However, I waited for more to grab on. When I felt like my body would be ripped apart, I released the power again. It was six this time.
This crowd which numbered well over a hundred hadn’t caught on to what was happening. In their anger, they pushed aside the men who had gone limp, leaping at me with their anger and hatred. When nearly half of the crowd had turned, that was when some started to notice the trend.
“Wh-what is this bastard doing?” Someone shouted.
The crowd broke up and separated in a circle around me. I slowly stood up. My dress had been ripped in a dozen places. Blood dripped from the corner of my mouth. I had earned several new cuts and gashes that would likely scar. However, I gave the crowd my best smile. I didn’t know it, but that smile had turned into something that chilled the bones of even the heartiest demons.
Half of the crowd looked down on me with fear and hate. The other half looked on with slack-jawed looks of adoration. To those that had gone slack-jawed, a few in the crowd snapped their fingers and tried to bring their loved ones back, but no matter what they did, the people I had touched continued to have eyes only for me. There was no coming back from that.
“My loves…” I spoke up. “Capture them all, bring them to me.”
The crowd broke into chaos as the affected suddenly turned on the rest, grabbing and dragging the closest people over to me, forcing their skin against mine. Although there was nothing to say that one demon was stronger than another, the demon’s that fell under my command would complete any action, even if it cost them their lives. They would carry their commands absolutely. They would die for me. And so, no normal demon could resist.
I changed more of them. At some point, a key was found and I was freed from my shackles. Within twenty minutes, everyone in the vicinity had been converted. A few had escaped, but they likely didn’t understand what was happening. There was a statue of the Demon King in the center of the square. I headed towards it while passing through my crowd of loyal followers. Every eye was on me, waiting for my next command.
I sat up on the statue’s base, which put me up higher than anyone else, taking the pedestal like a queen taking her throne.
“Commands… mistress.” The person who asked was one of the guards who had previously been my escort.
“Recruit. Bring me more. Women, men, children. They will all fight for me. Break into homes, drag them all out. Bring them to me. Build me my army!”
There was a shout, and immediately, the group of a hundred followers moved off, kicking down doors and breaking into the nearby buildings, effectively ransacking their own city.
“The Demon King will fight back…” the guard remained by my side as we watched my army break into the nearest buildings and drag out the demons nearby.
“The Demon King has his army. I have mine. Which of these four armies will win? I wonder…”
The first of the newly captured demons were dragged to my feet. It was a young blue skinned woman who was holding tightly to a child no older than six.
“Please… let us go.” The woman was openly crying.
“The demon king thinks that there will be a river of blood at my feet by the time this is all over.” I stated nonchalantly as I approached them. “But he’s wrong.”
The woman shook as she looked up at me. I reached down and touched her forehead with a finger, releasing the magic. The fear dissipated and the only thing left in her eyes was adoration. Her hands dropped, freeing the child of her grip.
“Mom? Mom?” The child looked up and tried to get her mom’s attention and failed.
I moved down to my knee, and then put a hand on the boy’s shoulder as he glared up at his mother who was now ignoring him.
“By the time I’m done, the blood will be an ocean.” I released my power.