I stroke the head of the dren that rests in my lap. It's head lolls to the side, it's
tongue hanging out, as it sighs happily. Only I can touch a dren without being killed. I
created them, and I am their leader. Their every action is an enforcement of my will. I am
their pack leader. And they were my safety. Their creation made me invaluable to my mistress
and ensured my place. Now it would seem she favors another. Xellos. The Trickster Priest.
That ever-smiling, secret-keeping, kisama!! Remain calm, Shaydren. My power is still enough
to destroy him if he chooses to confront me. And he will confront me. The Mazoku in him will
not allow my existence to remain as a challenge.
I did not expect to see him so early. I knew he would challenge me sooner or later and
it will be a pleasure to whip him like the dog he is. But that plan no longer seems
reasonable. His entrance is flawless, his bow shows the perfect amount of respect. His
endlessly smiling face watches me. What I would give to wipe that smile off his face. The
dren growl and become alert at his entrance. Scaled tails lashing as they regard the obvious
enemy. My enemy. This is the one that tricked Chiote into his death. Very clever. In that,
I must applaud him. Chiote was a stuck-up jerk who deserved his fate. Especially at the
hands of his underling. In that way Xellos did me a favor. A favor I will repay by killing
I acknowledge his presence with a faint movement of my head. Did I see the flashing
depths of his eyes just then?
"I have an offer for you, Shaydren," he says, still smiling. Shaydren. Not my Lady, not
General. Just Shaydren. He should die just for that.
"I'm listening," better for him to believe I might actually consider any offer he puts to
me. Especially while I ready an attack.
He smiles wider and continues," If you step down now, you will live."
"And what makes you think I would step down?" Wait for it. He merely continues to
"Answer me something. Who sent you?," the clincher question. If it is my mistress, my
time is over. If it is him, he will die.
He leans over slightly, brings a gloved finger to his lips, and winks, revealing a single
amethyst orb. "Sore wa himitsu desu."
Attack him I order. The dren are on their feet and moving in the blink of an
eye. Following my order. They will not succeed. He is too powerful. But they should be
able to damage him a little. Enough to give me an edge. He straightens and opens his eyes.
Cold gleaming eyes. The dren suddenly slow, stumbling, and sprawling to a halt at his feet.
WHAT???!!! Clawing helplessly at their throats, the dren wheeze futilely against an iron grip
that cuts off their air. His grip, I realize, stunned. He's stopping them without a spell,
with only a clench and release of his will. Damn. KILL HIM, I scream into their
minds. Only one has enough strength to attack. Needle sharp teeth tear into his arm,
latching onto it. He looks down at the dren, a real smile spreading across his face. With
barely a thought, he throws the dren against the wall. It lands with a sickening smack and
slides down, leaving a red black streak to mark it's passage.
My dren. I feel cold. He killed them with barely a thought. More powerful than I
thought. So much more powerful. Only one chance to win. Duel of honor.
"Impressive," I say, not allowing the whirling thoughts in my head to show. No comment
except that lingering smile. Twin violet orbs regard me coldly. "It would only be fitting to
end this little game with another equal to it." The smile widens as he closes his eyes,
leaning easily on his staff.
"And what would you have in mind?," he asks, mockingly confident.
"A duel. Sword to staff, so to speak. Winner takes all. No magic," he seems to
consider this as he opens a single eye. A different smile slowly spreads across his face. A
darker one. This duel will be my only chance. I am the best swordswoman under my mistress's
service. He will be no contest. My only worry is his strength. Strength that exceeds my own
half Mazoku strength. Yet his smile ...
He nods. Stepping off my dais, I unsheathe my sword, and with a leap, meet him in the
center of the chamber. Holding his staff as a weapon he starts off with a blow to the head.
Easily countered and easily counterstriked. He is not a sword fighter, and the fight easily
turns to my favor. His blows, though deft and fast, are still clumsy compared to my own. But
that smile ... dark and odd ... almost anticipative. With a sweeping blow I knock the staff
out of his hands and plunge my sword into his chest.
I expected to see pain mar his elegant features. Not a wider smile. He opens both of
his eyes and looks down at the sword buried in him. Not pleasure.
"Would you twist the sword, Shaydren-chan? It's much more ... pleasant that way," he
asks, his voice a ecstatic purr as he arches his back slightly and steps farther into the
blade, pushing it through his back. I can only stare, stunned. Mazoku feel pleasure in
inflicting pain, not in receiving it!
His gloved hand reaches out, covering my sword hand, and twisting the sword himself. My
mouth drops open. The staff is in his other hand. How ... ? Still smiling darkly, his hand
glides up my own to encircle my wrist, caressing softly.
Right before he breaks it. Pain. Like fire in my wrist. My involuntary gasp makes him
smile wider. He squeezes. More pain, exploding through my arm. The staff slams into my
side, knocking the wind out of me. His backhand to my face makes the light shatter in my
sight, blocking my vision. His Mazoku strength. He never used it in the duel, but he's using
it now. And I'm helpless to stop him. I can only fight for control of my consciousness as
the blows continue. I can almost see him smile around the red haze that clouds my vision.
Almost hear him laugh around my barely muffled cries. I can only feel the pain. All
consuming. Then comes the merciful strike to my head. Then only darkness.
Pain. That is my first thought. Dull, throbbing pain. I'm alive, though. Death
wouldn't hurt near as much. I did not expect to live. I doubt that is Xellos's way. So
I'm in a very painful position. Sitting. My wrist hurts. Crushed, I think. Dull pain
everywhere. I can barely breath. My throat is tied somehow. A faint scent reaches my
senses. Spice, mystery ... and blood. Xellos. Something hitting my face forces me to open
my eyes. The slap makes fire shoot through my head and neck, vibrating through the pounding
in my head. I cry out at the pain. I hear him chuckle softly as everything dances before my
eyes. Objects swimming in stabbing light. I blink furiously, trying to clear my vision. And
the first thing I see is him. Smiling. Both amethyst eyes open, flashing darkly.
"Welcome back," his mocking voice says, cutting through the pounding in my head.
"Wh - ," I try to get out, but am seized by a fit of coughing. Racking coughs that
consume my attention. I tilt my head forward as far as my tied neck will go and try to
breath. So hard. I'm tied to my own dais, bound with leather bands at my wrists, ankles,
neck, and waist. The bastard. I don't notice the blood slowly dripping out of mouth until he
wipes it away with his hand. I look up into cold unpitying eyes. Eyes that focus on the
blood he wiped away. He sticks one of the fingers in his mouth as he watches me. That odd
look. Almost psychotic, I realize. Sadistic. Mazoku. Completely and totally Mazoku.
"A pity," he purrs, his voice cool as he takes the now clean finger out of his mouth. He
reaches out and tilts my head back to meet his gaze, his fingers caressing my neck. I flinch,
trying to pull out of his grip. It's unbreakable, like steel, holding me in place. He will
die. I begin to pull in my power, drawing it to me.
He laughs softly and bends down, his whispered voice next to my ear," You can't fight
me." Fool. I will destroy you when you least suspect. When you believe me helpless. I draw
the power into a tight flow and lash out, pouring all my energy into one single decimating
blow. It shoots outward, toward him. And slams into a wall, bouncing back at me. No ... he
can't ... it's not possible. He can't be able to block my power like that! I should have
felt it! NOOO ....
"See," he says, his voice cool, as his other hand closes around my crushed wrist. He
knew. Damn. "Now will you behave or will I have to persuade you?," the emphasis he put on
persuade makes me cold. When I don't answer, he squeezes, causing pain to explode up my arm.
"Yes," I manage to get out when the pain subsides. I can't fight him. Despair. Fear.
Emotions I've never felt. Never thought I'd ever feel. The scent of him is all around me
now, cloying ... and sweet. If only I could hurt him! And that will only bring him
pleasure. All my choices, all my avenues of escape are blocked. By his power, by whatever he
is. Not pure Mazoku. Mazoku don't enjoy pain inflicted on themselves, but he does. Nothing
in his aura, or in his trace scent, though, marks him has anything other than Mazoku. What
The cuts on the side of my face and neck break open as he moves my head partially to the
side, away from him. The barely healed cuts seeping fresh blood over my skin. It's mildly
painful, but tolerable. Xellos pulls back slightly, turning my head more, as if trying to
hold it to the light. He almost seems fascinated. The look in his eyes is ... hungry. He
suddenly moves his hand from my wrist to my shoulder, pushing it hard against the back of the
chair, while turning my head farther away. What ... ?
The light insistent pressure of his tongue against the side of my face answers my half
formed question. He's licking the blood away. And strangely enough, it's not painful. More
pleasant than anything else. I notice something as the pressure moves from my face to my
neck. He's warm. Warm and cold. Cold to the touch at first, but so warm underneath. His
hand slips from my face to my other shoulder, caressing softly, as the pressure moves to the
base of my neck, at the opening of my collar. Another fear feels me. One I don't want to
think about. One I was sure I'd never have to feel. But I was never the victim before,
I lash out, whipping my head to the side and biting deep into his cheek, drawing blood.
Hot, sweet blood that almost chokes me. Liquid fire. Burning. What the hell is this
stuff?! He chuckles softly, pressing his lips to my neck.
"Yes Shaydren-chan, just like that." Satisfaction. Damn you.
"Kisama," I choke out around his blood. I can almost feel him smile as he lifts his head
to meet my glare with those amethyst orbs. Darkly burning. Burning with what? I wish I
knew. His eyes half close as he smiles pleasantly.
"Quiz time! Answer in the form of a question, and no dodging!" No reaction to my
insult. His cheerfulness is even more scary for the blood dripping down his cheek.
"Nani!?" Xellos smiles wider. Insane. His hands catch my neck and head, forcing me to
look up at him. His nose suddenly a hairwidth away from mine, open eyes boring into my own.
"How do the dren know you?" Soft serious voice. Dangerous. A sudden switch from the
cheerful one. So much more dangerous. His fingers tighten in my hair when I don't answer,
pulling painfully. "Come now, 'Dren-chan, haven't we been over this?" Gently chiding.
"No," he smiles at my answer. Oddly pleased. What are you? Faster than I can see, he
catches my crushed wrist in his hand and squeezes. All I can do is scream. Pain, liquid fire
burning through me, setting off all the other little agonies. Pain. Only pain. An eternity
of it before it finally fades. The red haze of pain finally lifting. I hate you, Xellos.
I'll make you pay. When I get out, you're going to die. And I'm going to make you regret
this to your last tortured breath. Till you scream for mercy, you bastard. His voice breaks
through the spinning circle of my thoughts.
"Yes." So pleased. A seductive whisper. His lips suddenly capturing mine. Damn ...
you. I'm giving him exactly what he wants. Hatred, pain, and fear. Mazoku to the core.
It's just that ... he feels so ... good. Holding me to him, exploring my mouth with his own.
Can't deny the pleasure. Xellos ... I want to kill him. He pulls back, those glittering eyes
opening to watch me. Drinking me in. Sapping my strength. Dangerous purr. His finger
gently brushing against my lips. "Tell me."
It takes all of my strength to reply. To defy him. "No."
The smile on his face is ... sick. Nothing delicate, or subtle. Only cruelty. And
something else ... something barely outside of my grasp ... The first blow slams my face into
the back of the dais, shattering my cheekbone. Agony. The globe of his staff tilting my head
up as he smiles wider. "Such a pity."
Can't breathe. Crushing my throat between the stone and the dais. Darkness reaching out
to claim me. Then only the glorious air. Filling my lungs as the stone releases me, leaving
me to fall forward against the straps. Darkness receding from my mind. I lift my eyes up to
his face. Why did he stop? Why did he hold back? My blood runs cold. Oh no. Please, no.
"This could have been simple, Shaydren-chan, now ... ," his voice is a mocking parody of
sadness, " ... we might as well have some fun ..." That smile. Any god who can hear me ...
I open my eye. The bleeding ruin that is now my left eye drips blood into the other. I
can't wipe it away. I can't move. It hurts. Hurts so much. Blood. All I can see. He
knows everything. Every secret. I couldn't stop him. He just took it. I couldn't fight
him. I ... should have known. He'd been almost gentle. Binding me in the wire threads.
Healing my wrist and cheek. Heal them so he could crush them again. Deceptively sweet in the
way he'd braided back my hair. To hold it back as he burned the wires. Melting them. Cut
and burn. Wire so fine that smallest of pressures could cut like the finest honed steel.
Didn't take him much to learn it all. To take everything away. Delicate and cruel. Playing
with me. Even Phibrizio isn't as sick. What are you, Xellos? I think I know ... So
frustrating to try to catch the thought only to have it slip away again. Didn't take him long
to make me beg to tell him. To get me to scream the answers he wanted to know.
"Why ..." I manage to croak from my maimed throat. He bends down to cradle my head in
his lap, running his gloved fingers through my tangled hair. Hair he left untouched. Why?
Almost nice. Pleasure and pain. Master of both. Only his cloak is in my line of sight,
splattered with both our blood. Cut himself even as he cut me. That sick satisfaction on his
"Sore wa himitsu desu," he whispers softly into my ear, brushing his lips over my cheek.
"You are sick." His soft laughter is my answer, those eyes sparkling with unconcealed
delight. Darkness. Part of the answer.
"Do you want to play some more, 'Dren-chan?," he coos pleasantly," Maybe you could scream
a little louder this time, eh?" Vicious tease. What I wouldn't give to make you pay. He'd
do it, he wants to "play". A mournful sigh. Consummate actor. "But you won't last long
enough," absently staring into space, fingers tightening painfully in my hair," A pity." He
looks down at me, lips curving into a dark smile. "But maybe long enough." Damn you.
Nothing. Pain, blood, agony. Spinning into darkness. Take me away. Make it stop.
Please. I know ... I think. Pain beyond any other, joining the smaller. Death blow. What?
Feeling his teeth bite into my neck, sharp and deadly, his lips closing around the wound,
taking away the blood. A murmur of pleasure fills my ears. Pushing my head to the side, a
gloved hand caressing my cheek. Pleasure and pain. Fitting end to this game. To destroy me
so completely. An involuntary answering moan escapes from me. Pleasure and pain. One and
the same. This is what you wanted, wasn't it? For me to so completely give into you. Tricky
bastard. "Goodbye, Shaydren-chan." His velvet whisper in darkness. Xellos, you trickster
Revelation. Knowledge. Faintly, I feel the dren screaming, dying with me. I ...
know ... darkness ... dragons ... hand ... of ... Spinning is stronger. True darkness opening
up to welcome me. The dren and I are one. In death. Forever. Eternal. I ... know ...
what ... you ... are ... Xellos ... And there is nothing as I fall into his dark embrace.