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Introduction:

CAPITAL NAMES mean the story is being told from that person's perspective. Dashed lines indicate where the sex in the story is. Important plot points are listed at the bottom. Not a lot of sex in this one, it's mostly a plot-driven chapter.
Chapter Thirteen

ELENA

“Spin around, Opal, show Sherok your new tat.” I said to my favorite slave as the tattooist finished his work.

Master’s Little Anal Slut, that’s classy Elena.” Sherok laughed as Opal swayed her hips side to side, the fresh ink contrasting against her pale backside.

“Well, Opal’s such a classy little girl, aren’t you dear?” I said as I filled a hand with her supple ass. Opal’s tail curled upward in arousal. She instinctively bent over and spread herself to me.

“Not now, dear,” I said, running a finger down her taint, “You, your mother and your sisters need to get dressed. We have a big day in store for us.” Opal sauntered away to show her new ink to her jealous sisters. I received many pouting faces from my slaves, all of them aware of my preference. Maybe they’d try even harder to please me next time.

“Your turn, Elena.” Grunted the tattooist as he watched my naked slaves dress themselves.

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“Where do you think I should have it, Sherok?” I asked. Brock had made me an honorary member of the Terdini tribe, and it was custom to have their symbol inked.

“Let me see, Elena,” she said as she pushed my cloak from my shoulders, exposing my naked back to her, “My god, you have a beautiful body.”

Sherok moved my platinum-blonde braided pony tail over my bronze shoulder and traced her fingers down my spine. A shudder went through me as her hand lingered on the small of my back.

“No, not there.” She teased as she turned me around. Her hands traveled around my waist and up the sides of my torso. She stayed her fingers at my full, bronze breasts, caressing them gently, her thumbs tracing my areolas. “Maybe here? No, they’re perfect as they are, we wouldn’t want to ruin these.”

“Where do you have yours, Sherok?” I asked.

“Mine?” she said as her thumbs slipped between the straps of her thong, “Mine is right here.”

Sherok pushed her thong down, exposing her slit to me. Just above her clit, was the tattoo of her tribe. The symbol was a circle with two jagged lines in the middle representing The Gorge. Two wavy lines flowed from the jagged lines, representing the river. The whole tattoo was done in a tribal pattern, with none of the lines connecting.

“I have something in the way there,” I smiled as I lowered my head to her, “I don’t think I want my penis tattooed.”

“You sure?” Sherok said as she pressed her pelvis to my face, “I think it would look nice, of course, I haven’t seen this magical cock of yours yet.”

“Oh?” I said, my mouth hovering over her clit, “Did you want to?”

“I’ve been dying from curiosity.” Sherok smiled as she dropped to her knees. I raised my ass off the chair and let Sherok pull my cloak to my ankles. She eyed my erect member hungrily, her fingers slowly wrapping around my girth. My head tilted backward as her cool hand enclosed.

“I think between the shoulder blades, just below the neck would work best for you.” Grunted the tattooist. I just nodded and leaned forward.

Sherok slowly stroked me as the tattooist put the needle to my back. The prickling sensation was uncomfortable, but somehow therapeutic.

“Your cock is so smooth, Elena. It’s almost feminine.” Sherok said.

“A feminine penis is an oxymoron.” I laughed at Sherok.

“It’s not when there’s this tight little pussy below it.” Sherok said as she pushed her fingers into my slit. I smiled lustfully at the she-orc, a soft moan escaping my lips.

“Where did your clit go?” she asked.

“You’re holding it.” I laughed.

“Oh my,” Sherok said, looking up and down my length, “It must be so sensitive.”

“It is!” I gasped as her full lips wrapped around it. I struggled to stay still for the tattooist as Sherok pushed her mouth to my base. Her black eyes stared into mine as she rotated her mouth, her tongue teasing the underside of my cock. I reached down and hooked my thumbs under Sherok’s breast strap. I pulled her strap down, her full tits bouncing out as they were freed. Sherok moaned around my cock as my fingers sunk into her breasts. I held Sherok’s supple bosom in my hands, her soft skin conforming delightfully around my fingers, her nipples squeezing between them. Sherok pulled out slowly, her lips sealed and rotating, her eyes gazing lustfully at me.

“Wow,” she exclaimed as my head left her mouth, strings of precum bridging between her lips, “There is something in your seed, Elena.”

“How does it make you feel?” I asked as I played with her breasts.

“Hungry for more.” She gasped as she lowered her head again. The tattooist had to press down on my back to keep it from arching. Sherok parted her fingers in a ‘v’ pattern and inserted two in my ass and two in my pussy. My head dropped as I gasped in pleasure. Sherok gave me wink while she sucked me, her head moving back and forth. Her fingers parted my anal and vaginal walls deliciously, my tight insides embracing and welcoming her. I flexed my pelvic muscles as Sherok’s mouth pulled tightly on my cock. A strained cry poured from my mouth. I wanted to grip Sherok’s head and face fuck her, but the tattooist held me firmly in place. I let Sherok toy with me, her gentle movements bringing me pleasure but not satisfaction.

“Harder!” I cried.

Sherok smiled around my cock and complied. Her fingers drove into me faster as her head bobbed up and down. My hands left her breasts and gripped her braids, guiding her at the pace I wanted. Sherok gagged on me, my arms forcing her head forward rapidly. I could see the muscles in her toned back flexing as her own body garnered pleasure from her oral stimulation. Her fingers drove into my holes at a frenetic pace, my juices gushing from my cunt. Sherok’s other hand moved behind her and pulled the thong down from between her legs. She sank her free hand into both of her holes and pleasured herself while she pleasured me. I felt the pressure building up in my loins as my anus, pussy and cock all began to reach their peaks. I could tell Sherok was aware of my ascension by her own movements, her hips swaying back and forth, her mouth working me at a higher pace. I pushed her head down to my base and unloaded my seed into her, a scream erupting from my lips. My pussy gushed and my colon tightened around her fingers. The tattooist gave up and let me finish as I arched my back while driving the she-orc’s head between my legs. A muffled scream rose from Sherok as my cum gushed down her throat, my charmed seed bringing her to orgasm. Her pussy squirted around her fingers and her spine curved concavely as a spasm shot up her tattooed back. Sherok drank greedily from my cock before she withdrew, panting in satisfaction.

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“Wow,” she said as she gazed up at me, “your cock is as advertised, Elena. It’s a damn shame you have to leave. Brock won’t be back for at least another day.”

“I’ll be back,” I smiled as my hand ran down cheek, “Brock said he’d fuck me as I am, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind sharing your bed with him.”

“You might have to take a dick for the team.”

“Only if Brock does.” I laughed.

“He’ll never!” Sherok laughed with me.

“I’m done, Elena,” said the tattooist, “you didn’t make it easy for me.”

“Turn around Elena, let me see it!” Sherok said excitedly.

I heard the familiar whiz of an arrow over my shoulder. The tattooist jumped to the ground as another volley flew around us. I fell to the earth and reached for my bow. I turned to Sherok. The arrow was protruding from her eye, her remaining eye staring vacantly as blood flowed from her nostrils. My slaves ran in terror into a hut, orcs sprinted frantically around us. Another volley. Sherok’s body was filled with arrows. The tattooist gurgled as a missile shot through his neck. I pulled my bow off the ground and ducked behind a table. Another volley. Arrows landed all around me, the sharp heads blasting through the wood of the table. I looked frantically into the woods. These were rangers, and I knew how they thought.

I saw a careless ranger perched plainly on a high branch. I put one through his neck and searched for the next one. Another volley. Arrows rained down on me. Orcs were dead all over the camp. A bush moved unnaturally. I loosed two arrows into it. The man fell out, screaming as the shafts stuck from his belly. Ten orcs charged headlong into the brush.

Don’t do that! They were cut down immediately, but I got the position of three more rangers. I picked them off one by one, sprinting to new cover spots so they couldn’t pin me down. An arrow grazed my calf and I stumbled into a hut.

“What the fuck do we do?!” screamed an orc at me.

“Get your crossbows and follow me!” I roared, “They’ll set fire to the hut if we stay here!”

I led the orcs out of the hut, arrows cutting down three of them. Sure enough, flaming missiles came right afterword, sticking into the dry grass of the hut and setting it ablaze. We took cover behind a wooden wall as arrows flew over us. I looked back and assessed my squad: thirteen men and women, six with crossbows, seven with swords and spears. I peeked over the wall and looked into the forest. I spotted five rangers in the bushes and two in the trees.

“Those with crossbows, fire into the trees at my command!” I yelled. “When we’ve launched our volley, those with close-quarter weapons charge into the woods and kill everything that moves!” A volley of arrows peppered the hut behind us.

“Now!” Six orcs stood and fired wildly into the trees. One lucky bolt met its mark, sending a screaming elf from the branch. I shot off two more arrows, each making contact. The orc beside me lurched backward as an arrow blasted through his forehead. The seven other orcs rushed into the woods and hacked down the remaining rangers. Another volley shot from the trees behind us, killing three crossbow-wielding orcs. I jumped over the wall and screamed for the orcs in the forest to take cover. The two remaining crossbowmen tailed behind me as I ducked behind the wall and ran alongside it. I met up with another squad of orcs that were taking cover. There were fifteen of them, all of them armed with either sword and shield or spear. Fuck.

The orcs that had taken cover in the woods joined up with us as another volley peppered the wall.

“Those with spears and crossbows, follow me. I need ten swordsmen to rush the archers in those trees. Move from over to cover, keep your shields high! Head to chest! Head to chest, got me?!”

“Yes ma’am!” they yelled.

“On my command: ready,” a volley of arrows whizzed over our heads, “Now!”

The ten shield and sword orcs leapt over the wall. They ducked down and kept their shields covering their heads and chest. The spear and crossbowmen tailed behind me as we ran along the far side of the camp. I prayed that the elves would be too distracted by the charging swords to notice us. My prayers were answered as the ensuing volley rained down on the attacking melee infantry. Two orcs were cut down at the knees, but the rest managed to hold off the attack with their shields. I raced around until my missile squad had an angle on the elves.

“Fire!”

Spears and bolts shot through the air and into the trees. Five elves came screaming down. I aimed and fired two more shots, sending two more rangers tumbling from their perches. The melee squad finally made it, barreling through the trees as they screamed their war cry. Elves were no match for orcs in hand to hand combat, and the remaining twenty rangers who hid in the brush were driven out and cut down. A bird call echoed through the trees. It was the ranger signal for ‘retreat.’ I made out the figures of five remaining elves disappearing into the woods. An arrow struck a barrel next to my face. It was a Nadi arrow, a message curled around the shaft. I opened it.

Hi Elena. You look different it said.

I looked up to see ranger Adarian’s cowl peaking from the treetops. He could have killed me, but he didn’t. I knew this was the last time he would extend me this courtesy. His cowl disappeared from the tree before I could take aim. Adarian was the best shot in The Highlands behind Yavara, he would cause us a lot of grief in the future. He already had now. I walked through the bodies of the Terdini tribe. Men, women and children lay dead or dying. There must have been at least fifty of them, but the loss of one would sting this tribe the hardest. I knelt at the corpse of Sherok, her body pierced with a dozen arrows. My tears fell onto her face as I cradled her broken body. I’m so sorry. A hand clamped down on my shoulder. I looked up at an orc male, his body covered in flesh wounds.

“Elena, you saved us.”

“Not all of us,” I said as I looked at Adarian’s arrow protruding from Sherok’s eye, “Brock will hate me for this.”

“No,” said the orc as he brought me to my feet, “We will tell Brock of what you’ve done. His village would be burned and his tribe scattered if it weren’t for you.”

I nodded, the guilt of Sherok’s death still weighing on me. “Someone needs to send him a message.”

“We will send him an eagle tomorrow,” the orc said as he lifted Sherok’s corpse from the ground, “He is preparing himself for battle against Treoc today, he cannot be distracted.”


BROCK

Trenok stood behind me at the wooden gates to the Protaki compound. The guards looked down at the seven of us, their crossbows aimed.

“Brock,” said one of them, “You’ve got some balls coming here. Treoc would probably reward me for killing you as you are.”

I threw the elk carcass from my back, the customary offering of peaceful passage.

“The other clans would descend upon you if you killed a tribe leader at your gates.” I growled, “Especially after giving an offering.”

“Why are you here, Brock?” the guard asked.

“The Dark Queen as returned. I am here to ensure the Protaki answer the call.”

The orc eyed the seven of us before lowering his weapon. “You may enter.”

The gates opened and we walked through. I eyed the villagers as I passed them. They were small for orcs, hardly an ounce of muscle on any of them. Treoc was a weak leader with weak men. I would have my work cut out for me trying to turn these skeletons into warriors. I entered the town square and stood in the center. It was bustling with activity, orcs moving about their business. This was the place. I slapped my hands against my chest and roared out my war cry. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared.

“Treoc!” I screamed, “Treoc, come out and face me!”

The square hushed to silence. Hundreds of eyes stared at me. A voice roared out from the hut to my left.

“Brock?” Treoc yelled, “Brock Terdini, is that you?”

Treoc emerged from his hut. He was lean but cut, stood about nine inches shorter than me, and his dreads hung from the side of his bald head. His face was contorted in rage.

“Brock fucking Terdini. I suppose I don’t need to ask why you’re here.” Treoc said as he paced around me.

“I have conditions, Treoc.” I growled.

“You don’t get to offer conditions, Brock,” Treoc sneered, “you’ve challenged me on my home turf. We play by my rules here.”

“Is that so?” I laughed, “Do you see those men on the hill? Those are five chieftains from five other clans. They have come to ensure you don’t fall back on your tricks.”

Treoc glanced at the hilltop. I didn’t actually have time to gather five chieftains, and was instead relying on Zander’s magic to manufacture their silhouettes. Treoc growled as he realized he couldn’t just kill me here.

“What are your conditions, Brock?” he growled.

“We fight in your pit tomorrow morning. As is custom, I will prepare myself in the challenger’s hut the night before. I do not trust you not to kill me during the night, so I demand an exchange of hostages.”

“That’s why you brought Trenok, huh?” Treoc said as he eyed my son, “You’re a big boy now, Trenok. After I kill your father, you’ll have a place in my vanguard.”

“After my father kills you, I’ll take your daughter as my wife.” Trenok sneered, “I’ve heard she’s quite the beauty, I wonder how she looks on her back.”

“Certiok will be my hostage, Treoc.” I cut in before the two orcs came to blows, “An heir for an heir is a fair deal.”

I could tell Treoc hated the idea, but he knew it was fair. The entire village was watching him, and he couldn’t afford to look weak. He spat on the ground in disgust and turned to the hut.

“Certiok!” he roared, “Come out here girl!”

Certiok was as advertised: beautiful. Her late-teen body was curvy and full; her skin was pale green and unblemished. Her braided hair hung over her muscular shoulders and outlined her ample bosom, whose breasts were pressing tightly against the leather strap that contained them. Her torso was toned, and ended in two lines that extended to her pelvis. Her leather thong barely held on to her wide hips and full thighs. Her eyes were big, her face adorned with high cheekbones and a strong jaw line. Her lower canines pressed against her full lips. She would make an excellent bride for Trenok, and by the way she eyed my son, I could tell she was certainly open to the idea.

“Certiok, you are to be Brock’s hostage.” Treoc growled.

“Who’s he?” Certiok asked, as she pointed toward Trenok, “can I be his hostage?”

“No,” growled Treoc in annoyance, “He’s my hostage. And when I kill his father, you’re not to be near him. He’ll have use as a warrior. I might have to castrate him if he gets any ideas.”

“That would be a damn shame,” Trenok smiled as he pulled down his loin cloth, “I don’t think your daughter would appreciate it.”

Certiok’s eyes widened and she licked her lips. I laughed at Treoc’s embarrassment as his daughter eye-fucked my son. Treoc pushed Certiok to me and Trenok walked to him. Three orcs walked up to my son and took his weapons before binding his wrists together behind his back. He gave me a reassuring nod as he was guided to a nearby hut.

“We don’t have to bind you, do we Certiok?” I asked her.

“You can if you want,” she said, smiling up at me, “does your son inherit his gifts from you?” she asked as she ran a hand down my loin cloth, “Oh!” she exclaimed before looking up at me, “I see that he does.”

“Brock!” Treoc roared, “If you touch her, your son will dangle from his entrails!”

“You keep her locked up all day, Treoc,” I grinned as I pushed Certiok to the side, “It’s no wonder she is the way she is. Relax old man, she won’t be touched.”

“Tribesmen!” Treoc yelled to his people, “Brock Terdini has challenged me in open combat for control of the Protaki tribe! Tomorrow I will bathe in his blood, and the day after that, his wife will bathe in my seed!”

The townspeople roared their approval as their leader hyped them up. I remained calm and collected. Treoc was trying to get under my skin, trying to get me to lash out. He knew he was fucked once we got to the pit. He was still in good shape, but he wasn’t the warrior he used to be. He’d grown complacent, and had starved his tribe to avoid a strong internal challenger. His people might cheer him now, but they secretly yearned for new leadership. Even his own daughter didn’t seem to care for him.

That night I prepared myself. I drew a thin cut on my forearm where I would brand the Protaki mark beneath the Terdini scar. All chieftains branded the tribes they ruled on their forearms. Some chieftains had to move down to their calves, they ruled over such armies. The Terdini and Protaki were lesser clans, but our combined strength could push us upward into the higher echelons of power. I could not take all the clans, but with a stout force behind me, and the Dark Queen rallying the clans to her, I would be able to rise above them all. I would become the Froktora, chieftain of chieftains, an elected position that had remained vacant for almost a thousand years. I would stand at the head of Queen Yavara’s army, the entire Great Forest emptied into my camp, a force of one hundred thousand orcs at my command. Treoc was just the first step.

The next morning, I stepped onto the sands of the pit, the crowd roaring their hatred at me.

You will all be my people soon. First thing we’ll do is feed you poor fuckers. I thought.

Treoc waved his arms wildly, running along the stands and beating his chest. He circled around me before stopping.

“Are you ready to die, Brock?” he asked as he curled his fingers into a fist.

“Shall we?” I growled.

I pivoted my heels in the sand and waited for his attack. Treoc circled around me, forcing me to change positions as I closed my defenses. His stance was wide and threatening, his muscles tensing and relaxing as he feigned attacks. I suspected he would use his speed to try and wear me down, hitting me with minor blows from the outside before retreating to a defensive stance. He knew I just needed one mistake to end him. He advanced, a blow striking me in the ribs. I let him have that one. I wanted him to think me too slow. I wanted him to get arrogant. Another shot, this one wrapping around my back and hitting my kidney. I grimaced, but maintained my defense. Treoc looked at me inquisitively.

“Did you come to fight, Brock?” he teased. I kept my stance. I could take his hits for a while. Treoc pivoted on his heel and whipped his leg around. I blocked the blow with my forearm, but did not see the next one coming. His other foot whipped around and struck me squarely in the jaw, sending me toppling to the ground. He was on me in an instant, his fists, knees and feet punishing my head as I held my arms up defensively. And then it happened. A wild foot came crashing down onto my face. My hand clamped around it as my teeth shot from my mouth. I had him. I squeezed down until I felt the bones crack in his foot. Treoc shrieked and fell over. I stood up and dragged him to me as he trashed, my hands gripping his tibia. I snapped his leg over my knee, prompting a gurgled scream to erupt from Treoc’s mouth. It was over, I just had to finish it.

Treoc thrashed as I made my way to his head. His fists met my face and chest until I finally had his neck under my arm. I gripped his jaw and ripped in both directions, turning his head backward. Treoc’s tongue hung loose from his mouth, his face fell into the sand. The crowd grew silent.

I stood up, spitting blood and teeth from my mouth. “Is there anyone here who would challenge me?!” I roared. No one did. “You are my people now, the Protaki belong to me. Hail me as your chieftain and you will share in my wealth!” The crown began to murmur. The murmurs rose and rose until they turned to cheers. They chanted my name as I stood defiantly over the corpse of their old chieftain.

“Blacksmith,” I roared, “Bring me your iron!”

The blacksmith walked over with the branding iron, the metal white with heat. I held out my arm and roared my victory cry as my skin melted. This would not be the last time this happened, I knew it in my bones. An eagle screeched over my head and descended to my arm. I broke the Terdini seal from the paper and read the message. Now was not the time for grief, not in front of my people. I wailed internally as I roared my promises to the Protaki. They would be fed; they would grow strong. My speech was dispassionate and short. I instructed my five men to round up the tribe and send the one thousand orcs to The Gorge. Free my son and bring him to me. I held in my despair until I made my way to the chieftain’s hut. I broke down, falling to my knees as tears fell from my eyes. I would have my vengeance. Yavara could not deny me this.

YAVARA

Good King Dreus, I have pondered your offer and see the merits in it. My host will arrive at your gates at the hour of dusk. Myself and two of my brethren must be allowed into your hall to inspect the currency before we can reach an agreement. My host will remain under your protection outside of your gates. Your messenger is alive and in my care, and will be returned to you once the deal is done. Best wishes to you and your kingdom, Titus. I’m not sure how King Dreus is going to feel about a procession of two hundred vampires to his palace gates.” Titus said as he looked at me, “And I’m guessing the ‘messenger’ is code for you.”

“King Dreus will be alarmed, but curious,” Prestira said, “And once he gets this message he’ll know what’s going on.”

“Would your sister actually kill you in King Dreus’ own court?” Titus asked me, “That’s damn near a declaration of war on Ardeni.”

“Leveria will stop at nothing to kill me. I don’t trust a single man of Ardeni to remain loyal to King Dreus when the price on my head is that high.”

Titus looked at the wanted posters in his hands. The signs had been nailed to every street corner in the city. The city watch had taken them down as fast as they could, but the word was already out: five hundred thousand gold pieces for the death of Yavara “Alkandi” Tiadoa, a quarter of a million for Prestira, Zander or Brock. I needed to leave the city now. I could trust Titus and his clan, but no one else.

“I can see how this would tempt even the most loyal of subjects,” murmured Titus, “alright my queen, we’ll go with your plan. You’ll both need to dress the part, so get out of those priestess robes and grab one of mine.”

Prestira and I got out of our disguises and put on the vampire robes. They were black, with a large hood and a pull-down mask that covered the entire face and neck. Long black gloves were also part of the outfit. When the whole thing was on, not a single piece of flesh was left uncovered.

“You can take off the masks, we don’t wear them when the sun is down.” Titus said, “Having two of our cohort concealing their faces while the rest don’t will draw suspicion, so you’ll need to transform before we go there. It’s a good thing we didn’t release those girls yet, or your sister would likely already know what you are. You should drink from them before we go.”

Prestira and I walked to the four prisoners. They were in relatively high spirits for captives, laughing and giggling to each other on the floor.

“Hi sweeties.” I smiled down at them.

“Hi Queen Yavara.” They said in unison, two of them spreading their legs to me.

“Not now honey,” I laughed as I knelt before them, “I just need to drink.”

I flexed the muscle in my brain and transformed. I was immediately consumed by the hunger and sank my fangs into one of the girl’s necks. She let out a gasp as I pulled the blood from her, her hand traveling to her nethers as she derived sexual arousal from my feeding. Prestira transformed and drank from another girl. When we had our fill, we stood up and took a moment to bask in the feeling of vampirism. The sex drive of a vampire is amazing, and it took all my will not give the girls what they wanted. Titus and his clan took their turns drinking from the captives until all four of them were passed out on the floor.

“Brutus!” Titus yelled as he slipped on his robe, “Make sure these girls are fed well after we go. Then you and the loaders put them onto our ships.”

“You’re keeping them?” I asked as we walked out of the VIP section.

“We can’t have them telling all of Ardeni what you are. Your alter ego should remain a secret for as long as possible; it will be useful for you to transform into a body no one recognizes. Besides that, they want to come along anyway. They’re our groupies.” Titus laughed.

We made our way outside, where Titus’ employees were loading his riches onto boats. King Dreus’ courier stood outside of the open loading door, shifting nervously from one foot to the other at the sight of us.

“You boy,” Titus called to the courier, “I have a message I need you to send to the king.”

“Y-y-yes s-s-sir.” The boy said shakenly as he cautiously paced to us. Titus gave the boy the message and ten gold pieces “There’s another ten pieces for you if you get this to him within the hour.” The boy sprinted off and disappeared around the corner. The other vampires arranged themselves in two single file lines behind Titus. Prestira and I stood at the head of each line directly beside the vampire king. An ominous organ began to play behind us as we walked down the streets.

“This is quite the atmosphere you’re cultivating.” I laughed at Titus.

“Appearance is everything, my queen,” Titus chuckled, “And don’t smile. Brooding, Queen Yavara, brooding is the key. We’re broking souls, walking in a dower procession, our hearts filled with sorrow and a yearning for death.”

“Why?” I said, suppressing a smile.

“It gets bitches wet, that’s why.” Titus said, “There’s nothing like a dark, damaged, mysterious bachelor to get the juices flowing. Have you never read young adult fiction?”

Prestira and I played the part as we solemnly walked down the streets of Ardeni. Windows shut and mothers hastened their children indoors as we approached. I saw two vampires behind me with buckets full of dry ice trying to give off the appearance of fog. I looked over at Prestira and motioned to them. Prestira covered her mouth to avoid bursting out in laughter. Despite the ridiculousness of the whole spectacle, Titus’ reasons proved true. A line of young women began to form behind our procession, laughing and giggling nervously to each other.

We made our way to the palace mall, where a thousand armed men lined either side. They stared at our procession with their hands resting on their hilts, for all the good it would do them if Titus decided to attack. We were stopped by the captain of the guard at the foot of the steps.

“Are you Titus?” he asked.

“I am.” Titus responded.

“My king,” the guard said, “wishes to know where Queen Yavara is. You will not enter his palace until I’ve confirmed she is alive.”

“Could I send a message to the king?” Titus asked, “Queen Yavara is present, but she wishes to remain hidden for fear of assassins. You no doubt have seen the posters the Highlanders have placed all over the city.”

“Sorry Titus, King Dreus’ words are final.”

Titus leaned forward until his face was inches from the captain’s. The captain remained composed, the sight of vampire leaning to him not fazing him at all. “How rich are you, captain?” Titus asked.

“I don’t see how that concerns you.” The captain replied.

“It matter greatly to me,” Titus hissed, “Because there’s a five hundred-thousand-piece bounty on Queen Yavara’s head, and I don’t know how strapped you are for cash.”

“I’m the son of a Lord Alexander,” the captain yielded, “I have fortune to my name.”

“Does this young vampire,” Titus said, pushing me forward, “look at all familiar to you?”

I covered the sides of my face with my hood so that only the captain could see me. I quickly flashed from my vampire form to my elven form and back to my vampire form. I smiled at the captain’s shock and gave him a wink.

“I trust you can keep secrets, captain.” I said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, young lady.” He said with the hint of a smile, “I will tell King Dreus -and only King Dreus- of this new development. Titus, you may bring yourself and your two cohorts behind me.”

The gates parted as the three of us followed behind the captain. We walked down the great hall of the throne room and knelt before the king. I glanced to my left and right, wondering which of the guards were waiting for Queen Yavara to appear so they could send word to Leveria.

“So you’re Titus, eh?” said King Dreus from his throne, “A vampire. That explains all the missing young women at the docks. I was under the impression you would bring me my messenger, but I do not see her here. So Titus, what the fuck did you do to her?!”

The captain scribbled a note and handed it to King Dreus. King Dreus read the note, his eyes widening as he did. He looked directly at me. I gave him a wink.

“Ah,” said King Dreus as he ripped the note to shreds, “My captain has confirmed she has left the city. Too bad, she was such a good…messenger. You may rise.”

One of the guards shifted nervously when he connected the dots. Leveria no doubt had guessed King Dreus’ meeting with Titus was also a meeting with me. News that I had vacated this city would be worth a small bounty to Leveria, and anyone who was under her employment would want to be the first to deliver the message and receive the prize.

“Well Titus,” King Dreus said as he descended the steps, “I’m glad to be rid of you. I’ve prepared your bounty in the treasury room. Captain, please escort Titus and the ladies to the treasury room and have them inspect the goods. I will follow.”

The captain guided us to the treasury room and closed the door behind us.

“What the fuck Queen Yavara!” yelled King Dreus as soon as we were alone, “when I told you to negotiate with Titus I didn’t mean do…this!” he said, motioning to my body.

I transformed back into my normal self, laughing at King Dreus’ shock.

“I had to make some concessions, but this seemed like a suitable compromise.” I said.

King Dreus looked at me and then looked at the other vampire woman. “And I suppose this is Prestira, then. Hi Prestira.”

Prestira transformed to her original self and smiled. “Hi, my king.”

“Well,” King Dreus sighed, “I can’t say I agree with your choices, Queen Yavara, but they are your choices. Now, down to business. I have ten chests here, a hundred thousand gold pieces in each. That should help you jump start your kingdom.”

“That’s very generous.” Titus said.

“It is, but this is a loan,” King Dreus turned back to me, “There are abandoned silver mines in the Great Forest. I don’t expect you to pay me back all at once, but we will levy a tax on your imports until I regain a third of the investment. We have a silver shortage here, so demand shouldn’t be a problem. I suggest you hire some trolls to revamp your mining industry. I can parlay the transaction once you leave the city.”

“That would be great.” I said.

“Queen Yavara,” King Dreus said somberly, “I was sorry to hear of your mother’s death. It’s a horrible thing your father did.”

“It wasn’t my father,” I said gravely, “It was Leveria.”

“I can’t believe she would do that.”

“Once you get to know her,” I said with a hand on his shoulder, “you’ll realize she’s capable of anything. I suspect your own guards are compromised, King Dreus. You may want to do some internal investigating.”

“That’s a disturbing thought.” King Dreus frowned. “Well, Queen Yavara,” King Dreus said as he held out his hand, “I don’t know when I’ll see you again, but I hope you will visit Ardeni when your war is over. You are always welcome in my halls.”

I pushed King Dreus’ hand and threw my arms around him. “You’ve done so much for me; I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.”

“With silver!” King Dreus laughed as he withdrew, “I’ll get some men to help you these chests.”

“No need.” smiled Prestira as she transformed. Titus and Prestira lifted one of the chests with ease. King Dreus stared in awe as the two vampires carried the one-ton box between them. “Holy shit.”

“It’s pretty cool, right?” I said as I transformed, “Titus, could you send some people to help us with the rest of them?”

I tested my strength on one of the chests. I could carry the whole thing by myself, but it was a little too heavy to make the trip all the way to the mall. I waited next to King Dreus as seventeen vampires came in and helped with the rest of the chests. I gave the king a kiss on the cheek before returning to my people. That night, we loaded my riches onto Titus’ vessels and set sail for the Great Forest. I had wealth, I had power, and my army was growing by the day. But Leveria was queen of the Highlands now, and I knew deep down that something terrible was going to happen soon. I just didn’t know what, and I didn’t know when.

PLOT POINTS

Sherok, Brock's wife, is killed in a ranger attack on The Gorge.

Elena mounts a successful defense against the rangers, but is identified by her former teacher and boss, head ranger Adarian.

Brock kills Treoc Protaki, making him leader of both the Terdini and Protaki clans. Trenok, Brock's son, intends on making Certiok, Treoc Protaki's daughter, his wife.

Brock has ambitions of become Froktora; leader of all orcs. The Froktora is an elected position where the chieftains are the voters.

Brock learns of his wife's death from a message. He hold in his sadness and vows to have his revenge.

Yavara transforms into a vampire and successfully reaches the palace without being recognized.

King Dreus pays Yavara, but tells her he needs to be repaid with silver from the abandoned mines in the Great Forest.

Yavara informs King Dreus that Leveria probably has spies in his own court.

Yavara leaves Ardeni Dreus aboard one of Titus' vessels after she secures her payment.
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