"Only six of them, I know it," a wiry old man grinned, knuckles rapping the wood table inside the tavern. His companions all drank mugs of ale and such as they listened; the old man drank a single cup of red wine. "A fearsome lot. Only one of them is human, last I heard."
"The Rogue," a gruff man nodded, turning his half-finished cup in his hands. "Some people call her an Amazon, but I think she's a Rogue."
The elder man nodded, smiling crookedly before taking a sip of his wine. "Aye, a rogue, she is. A fiery haired beauty, able to hit a moving target over 400 paces away. A dangerous, dangerous girl... Like all women are, I suppose." A few laughs, but for a drunken lot they quieted quickly to listen. "But the rest are so much worse. Blood Raven herself, you may remember from Tristram. Turned into a demon, then bound to the Warden. The dreadful Countess who once bathed in the blood of 100 virgins, ripped from her army and forced to submit to him. Both of them dangerous women even before joining his harem.
"He has a Sabre Cat, too. A good amount of folk confuse her for the Amazon, but she's just Sabre." The old man paused to take another gulp, and everyone watched, eager for more of the rumor mill about the supposed Warden. He exhaled softly, then smiled. "But the succubi... You've all heard about them?"
"Hundreds!" one man slurred, and the others nodded quickly.
The man's eyes crinkled with his smile. "Yes, hundreds, but not all of them in the Warden's harem. Only two. A former captain of them, beauty and deadly mixed together in her, and then the Demon Queen Andariel herself, of the Lesser Evils. She is the last Power of Hell to still walk the Sanctuary. She can still corrupt even the hardest man into her playtoy, or just shred a man in pieces with a single swipe. Two of the most dangerous, them succubi."
The men across from him mumbled and whispered to each other, many rosy faced and slurring. The old man hoped they would remember afterwards. Once that quieted, the man leaned back and stared down at his cup, only a single gulp of crimson remaining. "Now, those women are to be feared, but the Warden himself...
"He and his Harem killed the Lesser Evil Duriel, killed the Prime Evils Mephisto and Baal-" The men flinched at each name. "-but Diablo... Those women are to be feared, but the Warden is the most frightful of all. He marched alone against Diablo, right through the Burning Hells and into Diablo's own Domain. Alone, even though he had an army at his fingertips. And there he killed the Lord of Terror, unflinching and with amazing power. Oh yes, those demons in his harem are scary beauties, but the Warden is the true monster... Myself, I'm just glad he is on our side."
"Che, how do'ya know he's on our side, old man?" another man asked, not near as drunk as some of the others.
The elder fixed shadowed eyes on him and smiled. "Because if he wasn't, we would all be dead now."
More mumbling among each other, and the old man finished his cup. "I told you Zykinander was the Warden," one man announced. "Who else could be so powerful and still with us?"
The old man smiled as he set his cup down and stood. "Zykinander, that man is dead. The Warden, he still lives, still protects us from the shadows that threaten to envelope this world, living out his days in the pleasure of his Harem."
Eyes followed him, grumbling partings, and the old man stepped out of the gathering he had caused to slowly make his way to the tavern door. He gathered a plain green cloak from a rack near there, pulling it off two equally plain brown ones. Cloaks were strange out here for this time of year, but the old man wasn't exactly... from around here.
As he set to fastening the cloak, his eyes traveled to the other side of the building, at a table an odd duo were seated at. A Rogue and a Sabre Cat, the latter allowed only after a promise not to cause problems. Their kind were tolerated here.
The old man smiled as both glanced over at him, the Rogue a grown woman now. The dark furred Sabre Cat whispered something, and the rather buxom Rogue giggled, the Sabre following shortly. When both turned back to the wiry man, he was gone already out the door.
The man whistled as he walked, gait growing stronger and stronger until it looked like something belonging to a man years and years his junior. Proud, confident strides, down the road, to the reaches of the town, and then curved into an alley where the already quiet street wouldn't be able to see him.
The form... shifted suddenly, and then in place of the old man was a brilliantly glowing archangel, garbed in white robes covered by a golden breastplate.
Tyrael rumbled a laugh then, "Fine women you have grown into, Aliza and Rrajhess. Fine, beautiful women." And then he vanished in a burst of light.
"What about this one?"
A girl, garbed in scandalous white, was holding already several dresses, and she raised an eyebrow at what the woman opposite was holding. "Mistress, you know what the Master thinks of corsets."
The woman sighed, holding the black piece to her formidable bosom, covering a blue and gold dress with an already plunging neckline that went from shoulders all the way past her bellybutton, breasts prevented from popping out only by a net of ties there. Some women still fainted at that much cleavage being shown.
"But what will the other servants think? Would they approve?" the woman asked, pulling the corset away to study it with a smile.
"Mistress, if its the servants' eyes you want, might I suggest... this one?" The pale handmaiden bent forward to retrieve a new article from the couturier's selection.
The mistress paused to study the piece, and her remarkably full lips spread wide in a slow smile. "My naughty, naughty Olena, that is just... marvelous." She took it and held it before her, and her smile widened. For all the cloth to it, a remarkable amount of skin would be showing, and what cloth there was would be rather snug against her. "Just marvelous. Add it to the others. I simply must have the master's eyes on me with it. Come, come, there is still much more to buy before we can return."
Olena smiled at the praise as she took the colorful article and added it to the bundle in her arms, and she followed her green skinned mistress to the couturier, whom was still simpering after being shown the gold they carried in their possession. Oh, she walked with that sway her mistress had taught her too, the one pleased her so. Countess truly was a wonderful Mistress.
The others, they would be returning soon, and they had promised to be among them for the gathering. Countess still wanted a sensuous wardrobe for when that happened, and no doubt she would be a sight to behold when it came.
"You must forgive me, sisters, for the troubles we have caused you," a pearly white woman was saying, one hand brushing raven dark hair behind her head. She was gorgeous, a pale queen of snow, with a fantastic body of toned and fullness swathed in a crimson over the breasts and in the loincloth that matched those across from her. "When we heard, we hadn't assumed this would happen."
A hard woman, made softer by her smile, with only the beginnings of age touching her pretty face, shook her head. "Nonsense, sister. The Monastery is a haven for any traveler, and we are oathsworn to protect any who have come to us, as you know."
"Yes, Captain Kashya speaks the truth, sister. Only Peace within these walls, for any who asks," the third woman said, another being of pale beauty and blackened hair. Her covering cloth was the dark of midnight, a single black shoulder pad for armor and a dark thong to reveal the toned legs of pasty white. "If these men bear arms for war, they will find the Rogues daunting enemies."
"Captain Kashya, Captain Paige... Sisters, thank you," the third woman bowed her head for them before regaining her steady, commanding stance. "However, if they only wished to march through to get to us, let them. Our gates will hold; there is no reason to see blood stain this Monastery again."
Kashya, Captain of the human Rogues. Paige, Captain of the corrupted Rogues. Years ago, after Andariel vacated the Monastery and her hold over them had been broken, the corrupted rogues had been truly united, and at the front of their return was Paige. Within these walls, girls of demonic urges could be found forcibly moderating themselves, with severe discipline, and mingling with the cream fleshed Rogues that were once and are again their sisters.
"Captain Blood Raven..." Paige said slowly, and the third girl turned to her. "We here may all be of equal rank, but know that if you give the word, all of our sisters will rally behind you. All of us owe Zyke for what he has done, for allowing us to again stand together. For him, many would give their lives and more."
Blood Raven snorted. "Oh, you all do plenty for him when he visits. It's bad enough back home with the succubi, but his fondness for 'the Rogues and their attire' is more than enough, in his books."
Kashya rolled her eyes, smiling, while Paige laughed. "Peace be on you and your journey back, sister. Tell him the Rogues wear their loincloths proudly for his eyes."
This time it was Blood Raven who laughed, and she gave both of them hugs. Then, with a final word, she turned and departed the room.
Down stone halls and corridors she went, cleaned and pristine again. Everywhere sisters could be found here, the natural and the corrupted, and all of them saluted in passing. Many of the corrupted Rogues carried a man on their arms in the Monastery now, travelers quickly finding out about the need for quenched lusts and many finding the eager women to their liking enough to stay with. No less than two dozen harems now resided in the Monastery, as unheard of as it was, and surprisingly not all of them consisted only of the corrupted sisters. Most of them were small though, a Barbarian with a woman on either massive arm or a Merchant with three Mercenary-hired girls that became wives by round's end.
Out the back of the Monastery she went, to a single trampled grass path. The path led deeper up the mountains, a narrow thing between two peaks, with the only way to that path being the Monastery itself. Blood Raven exhaled contently, inwardly thrilled by the results of her sisters in both kinds. Then, she sped her confident glide into a trot, going further up the path, deep into the mountains. Going home.
"Ooh!" the succubi moaned together as the dice stopped rolling, and many laughed afterwards.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I for one am glad to be wearing less when Lord Zyke and the others return," Karylia played off, undoing the laces of her silk blouse. "I don't see how you all can wear tops anyways." Off the deep blue material went, and she folded it into onto the table. Her barely fitting brassier followed, and she sighed in relief, stretching her wings.
"We keep playing!" A Blood Temptress cooed, clattering the dice in her hands and still fully garbed in the standard for the servants.
Other tables were set up in the Servants' Quarters, and similar games were being played over clothing. All knew of their Master's roving eye, and they made sport of losing or gaining clothing for a set time. Some could be found delivering wine in nothing more than boots, others in robes and sashes held loosely over colorful gowns.
A Stygian Harlot was behind Karylia, massaging her bare back as they diced. Karylia was a friend to many, a sister, a former captain, but she did hold standing over them as one of the Lord Zyke's harem. That didn't stop her from visiting in off hours and joyfully winning or losing clothing while speaking with her close friends.
She proudly walked the halls of the palace in all her bare blue glory for the full twenty-four hours when her luck was bad, or she sashayed the many colors of her usual and more when her luck was good.
"So Dosaline gets your wonderful blouse, Lady Witchmoon, but I'll wager my crimson and charcoal skirts for your bottoms," another succubi – a Hell Witch - mentioned, gesturing to the layered and special cut skirt of red and black that rode hazardously low in the front yet still flared attention to her rounded rump with every step. Karylia's own snug bottoms were a clash of purples and blues, tightly revealing the impressions of her buttocks and mounded front before breaking off into ruffles and crossing strips at the thighs.
The colors wouldn't suit her well if she won, but the real purpose was to have reason to stand nude before Zyke outside the bedroom. Her constant gambling here is what supplied her clothing and just as fast took it away, and she smirked and accepted.
"If you lose though, Jani," Karylia continued, "I get to spank you until that white bottom of yours matches your wings." When it came to skirts and bottoms, there were always... twists involved. "And you must cross Lord Zyke's vision like that upon his return."
Jani raised an eyebrow and smiled sensuously. "The same could be said for you when I win, Snow Witch."
The dice were gathered, and the Blood Temptress rolled for them.
"They will be returning soon," Andariel mentioned from her place at the window, a high view looking down at ranges of mountains. The Monastery was visible from here, too, a lit speck only an hour's distance when moving at a good pace.
"Shall I please you in the meantime, Matron?" a Stygian Fury succubus asked, purple wings folded. "Or assist you in attire?" Her top was missing, but it was by choice, not the game she found so foolishly played below. She only took part in it sometimes. Only sometimes.
"Tell me, Merith," Andariel continued without turning away from the window, "what do you think of pregnancy?"
The succubus started at that, head coming up to glance at her Matron. "Having children, Matron? That would be wonderful, but of late I have found all the usual candidates for a father... lacking."
Andariel nodded, knowing it was the same for all of them. Zyke would have to be the father, whether he rightfully took them all as concubines or just spread the seed. The succubi lived on, a total of 634 in this citadel including Karylia. She remembered when their numbers had been thousands, and she had had plenty to send into the mortal world to drain men's lives in their Arts.
Now, the girls no longer took the energies of men, but she still wanted to see the numbers returned to their former glory. Zyke had finally given into her pressure for allowing the succubi to please them at nights – and otherwise, Andariel smiled slyly at – but only sometimes, and it was getting him to embrace his corruption and ascend into demonhood that was the challenge.
Years had passed since she first met the man who subdued her, and still she cursed herself the fool for almost leaving him after Baal's defeat. Her pride had told her that she was free, that she should return to her Domain and ascend back into the ranks of power in the Hells. She would forever have... befriended Zyke upon leaving, later going back to him for him to rightfully give his seed to her girls, but it still would have been leaving his harem.
The rift back home had even been made, and her about to step through with him watching. But it had occurred to her, if she couldn't remain with him, what man would she ever bind herself to? Her own Arts had gone quiet in centuries past, finally rekindled by Zyke, and if she left, the only time she would ever find herself in the throes of passion with a man would be if she was again subdued, and it was impossible that whomever next did so would be as... agreeable as Zyke.
So she had choked her pride back down, stumbled over her own tongue, and she had again submitted herself to her Lord. She had pledged her HEART to him, like a foolish love-struck bedwarmer! Hopefully he never realized the implications of what that meant.
Abruptly, Andariel realized she was smiling. She would never admit it aloud, but pledging her heart to him had been the most rewarding decision yet. Sure, in the mortal realm she no longer reigned with blood and fire, never was allowed to go on slaughters, wasn't even allowed to use her Arts to drain a man, and she had likely lost all scraps of her reputation back at the Hells.
She was happy.
She was here with her succubi, as many as she had seen in so painfully long, a citadel just full of the handmaidens. If that didn't fully please her, Zyke did. The man was a foolish, ignorant, arrogant, and just plain embarrassing, but it was because of him she had gotten her revenge on the Primes, had gotten her handmaidens back, still had breath under her bosom. Besides his deeds, he was a man of power, and his personality had as many good points as embarrassing. He made a real effort to satisfy her, too, and embarrassing as it was, she rather enjoyed how he concerned himself over her feelings and happiness like she was some mortal wife.
Her time here had made her soft, not at all the fearsome Lesser Evil she should be, but she could no longer find excuses why she shouldn't be. Succubi could love, succubi did love, and she still hesitantly tossed the thought around that she – the greatest of succubi – might have her heart snared.
Her lusts were rising the longer her thoughts stayed on Zyke – only a bodily reaction for one who pleased her, surely – but she wished she had taken the offer for Merith to please her. As it was, she had things to do, and only briefly stroking the girl's face, she left the room.
The others were returning, finally. There hadn't been a real reason for it – well, they all had reasons, but not for the splitting as a whole. Zyke mentioned that he had to leave one day – one day long after they had finished adventuring the wonders of Sanctuary – and suddenly all the girls mentioned they too had things to do, and the whole lot of them had separated.
She herself had visited the Hells, and she was first to return. She couldn't find it in herself to tell her mother, Lilith, that she had pledged her heart to someone. If the woman found out it was a... mostly mortal man, they might have another war on their hands, and she didn't know if she had a firm enough control over her sisters to prevent them from returning to Lilith if she called.
Lovely succubi, beautifully dressed with bright colors and sensuous garb most of them hadn't seen in centuries, could be found going about their tasks as she strolled down the long halls, some sweeping or carrying something or in transit to something else in need. It was probably the best thing she had ever seen.
Zyke was late.
As he moved swiftly up the path to his home, nothing focused his mind more than the six women he knew would be waiting for him. Two weeks without them, and he was miserable. He should have listened to Andariel and brought succubi along for the nights, if he was unwilling to take any of the harem.
Unfortunately, he had been unwilling to take any of them. Where he had gone... It was too late to make a difference, now. Likely they all had heard proceeding him. The Rogues' reactions as he walked through the Monastery from the waypoint told him as much, raising comment that they would fight to the death for him and Captain Blood Raven. He wouldn't shed their blood though.
On the topic of the Rogues, the quick trek from Outer Cloister to the secret door had greatly inflamed his roaring lusts. In the beginning – well, a beginning: the one that mattered most to him – he had once told himself he would retire somewhere near them, so he could forever enjoy them and their bouncing loincloths...
Well, he certainly was living the dream now. Oh, he lusted the bodies of only his harem, but that didn't mean his eye was numb to beauty when it saw it. Colorful and deliciously corrupted Rogues together with the creamy and red garbed kind mingled in harmony, both trotting down halls to his eyes' enjoyment. Several times he swore one of them 'accidentally' brushed the cloth to the side right as he was looking, giving him glorious sightings.
But what his eyes saw and hands wouldn't touch only infuriated the unsatisfied lusts within, already an uncontrollable beast even before being denied for two full weeks. Despite the news weighing his mind, he would find his women and take them upstairs first thing, and if Andariel even mentioned them, he would take every succubus with them possible! Only if she mentioned them, though.
Halfway up, he turned in the failing light to see if he could catch sight of what he knew to be following him. Nothing. It didn't mean they weren't there, only that he couldn't see them. Never again. Never again would he allow them to...!
Nondescript brown cloak around him, he turned back and continued up the hills.
First came his lovely women – first he must, MUST have them once reunited – then came the problems. Luckily, this time they had the advantage of a citadel. Countess had been truthful about knowing a place or two abandoned after being looted, and the one secreted behind the Monastery had been an excellent choice, able to house the whole of them and Andariel's succubi.
Deep into the cliff walls, Zyke's home came into sight.
The path ended upon the meeting of two of the peaks, forming a massive niche of sorts deep in the mountains. Masons of old had taken advantage of that and built a naturally fortified citadel, building it up high and partially into the mountainside itself. A smoothed wall impossible to scale without ladders – nearly twenty paces tall – rimmed their home, and the two succubi on guard duty that day smiled and opened the gates for him. They, he warned of what was coming.
Beyond that was surprisingly a small town, with abandoned forge, mill, storehouses, shops, and even a few farms on the far reaches against the wall and cliffs. A natural waterfall fed through the town, exiting an underground river, providing fresh water when needed. The town, once abandoned, was now back and booming. Wonderful succubi, topless or bottomless or exotically clothed, moved about those streets, having taken shelter in the houses outside the actual citadel.
The winged beauties noticed him, and they all bowed their heads in passing. The less busy offered pleasure for him, but he was already heading for it. There were always things to do ever since they settled; he never knew running a citadel could be so bothersome, more so with nearly 650 occupants. Countess and Andariel were handling things well, though.
Word of his arrival proceeded him, and the arched double doors of heavy, fortified wood covered in iron swung open as he approached. A group of women were emitted, but it was the six in the front that drew his eyes and had him sigh pleasantly.
He unclasped his cloak and handed it to a trailing succubus just before he reached them, and his now freed arms became a tight hug over as many as he could manage. They all stepped in, though, and he kissed every face.
A few had changed since he first met them, but only a few. Blood Raven, Countess, and Andariel were still their immortal beauties, gorgeous in whatever they wore. Aliza, though, had finished maturing, from a cute girl to a voluptuous woman, a bit more curve to her lithe and breasts just yearning to pop from their confines and into his hands. Rrajhess was the same, since pregnancy. Still his huntress, still his Sabre Cat, but she and Aliza both seemed to have matured since the start of raising the kids – his kids, surprising as that had been. Karylia, she hadn't changed much besides the length of her dark hair and the style it was in – namely the bouncing between ponytail, ringlets, or causal straight and swept back she had originally – but her clothes were always the flamboyant of the other succubi, now.
Today, though, the girl appeared a mind reader for exactly what he wanted. Not just topless, as his hand found its way to one breast, but below her breasts was a wide belt of silver encrusted with amethysts and sapphires – decoratively, of course – and nothing else besides heeled boots. The woman left herself completely bared for him, and his mouth ravaged hers in response.
"All of you. Bedroom. Now," he breathed, impatient. The women smiled and gave pleasant-to-hear laughs.
As they turned to head inside – why did the bedchamber have to be so far away when he wanted them now? - Zyke noticed something about Karylia's buttocks as he eyed them. They were a bright blue, as if she had... Cupping them once and hearing her breath hitch answered his question.
"Dear, who was spanking you?" he asked as his fingers slowly kneaded the inflamed flesh. All the other girls turned or raised eyebrows.
"I lost a bet," the succubus answered almost shyly. "Does the thought of me getting spanked excite you?"
Yes, yes it did. "My dear, you and all of you excite me more than you can imagine."
Countess, though... Even covered, she seemed to drag his eye away as much as Karylia. He couldn't even describe what she was wearing, only that she didn't need to take it off at the bed if she didn't want to. It was more frustrating than a loincloth in the covering of fruits, nipples included, but the whole it was remarkably more scandalous. A bazaar mixture of silk, lace, leather, ties, and a whole lot of flawless green skin in between. Even the surrounding succubi, in their colorful eye-catchers, stared at her in envy and approval.
The woman reveled in the attention she was given, swaying hips and with a proud smile.
It was enough to make Zyke forget the problems on the way, and his lusts like a wildfire rose with each step towards where they would be satisfied. As pleasant as the nude Karylia and the scandalous Countess were, all the pieces of Zyke's heart were there. Aliza in her tunic and loincloth, Blood Raven in the same cleavage-producing crimson top with matching loincloth, Rrajhess with the nearly transparent midriff exposing blouse and white loincloth that the Sabre High Priestess had been wearing, and Andariel, with nipple caps and curved plate now sized for her human form.
"Lord Zyke, would it please you to have succubi join us?" Andariel asked off hand, simply strolling with them yet with a seductive sway that could put Countess's to shame.
Well, she mentioned them, so by his own rules... "By the Light, yes!"
Wings of radiant brilliance, tendrilous in appearance, swayed gently in the breeze. The hooded angel stood at the doors of the citadel, well within the closed off walls. The many succubi hissed at the being of light, swaying in an opposing direction at least instead of attacking. The thing about this archangel, for the angel was a great being and of the Angiris Council, was that the snug robes it wore cinched at the waist, and the chest region carried the tell-tale swell of an unmistakable bosom. The angel's robes were blue, not Tyrael's white with golden armor.
Aliza had met her, and she was smiling as the conversation lightly drifted down its usual path. This was not Auriel's first appearance at their home. Originally, it had been Tyrael whom would appear, ask the questions, and vanish; then, one day, Auriel had come in his stead.
"The Warden and yourselves are happy?" Auriel was asking, her voice mature and deep as it was lovely. "No lasting arguments?"
The day after they had all been reunited, Aliza answered with a decline. They had been much too... busy to argue. The questions pursued their mental stability, rightfully inquiring after the tendencies that the corrupted slipped towards. Apart from a few foggy moments of lingering passion, Aliza winked, all was swell. The angel paused a moment, considering, then...
"Has the extent of the Warden's corruption spread? Yourself, are you still the pure maiden in heart?" Auriel was tall for a woman, though slight for an angel. She was perhaps at the height between Zyke and Andariel's true form, leaving the top of Aliza's head only to her considerable bosom. Considerable bosom, but proportional wise disadvantaged to Aliza herself and the succubi. A good match to Blood Raven, though.
Aliza's thoughts snapped back to the question then, only slightly tinging her cheeks with a blush. "Zyke hasn't changed. He still has the flawless control over it he always has. Myself? Well..." She had been considering the angel's own breasts with her Sisters of the Harem's! "No corruption, not like the others, but... well, 'corruption' is a general term."
Auriel's hooded head tilted. Aliza wished she could see the angel's face through the shadow. Was she as pretty as she sounded? After a moment, Auriel nodded. "Well, it sounds like you are all doing well. Give the Warden my regards."
As she turned to leave, Aliza stopped her. "Hey, Auriel... Why don't you meet Zyke yourself? You are always so interested in him, so why not... you know." Auriel glanced at her and saw the knowing smirk. For a long time now, Aliza had been trying to get the angel to make a move of some sorts, but to no avail.
Aliza herself had changed drastically to ever even consider the thought, but with women like Countess and Andariel to influence herself – corruptive auras aside – she felt she couldn't be blamed. Besides, it was high time for another woman to join them who wasn't demonically corrupted. Given the right words and time and argued by both her and Zyke, even Andariel would consent.
Auriel was silent as she just stared at Aliza, but it was obvious she was thinking it over when she spoke softly, as if to herself. "The man is the savior of Sanctuary, the talk of the Heavans. Perhaps I..." A hum, then the angel's attention went back to Aliza. "No, not at this time." An expected response, but Aliza was sure she would give in soon.
Auriel turned completely now and her wings took her glowing figure into the air. Then, she vanished in a burst of light. It was always spectacular to see her go.
Aliza laughed and – glancing once at the tall walls protecting the citadel – returned back inside the citadel, doors closing off the high sun in favor of the tall glass windows and many fires lining the way. The stone interior with marble columns and servants at work in the shadows had become comforting to her, something that meant she was home. The sweet smell given off by scented oils in the braziers was familiar, as were the pleasant perfumes of the succubi she passed.
She wasn't like Countess, she didn't lust the bodies of females – though she regularly satisfied herself with Rrajhess because she loved the Sabre Cat like she loved Zyke – but once it was clear this citadel wasn't to be like the blood, fire, and bone of Andariel's palace, the succubi made it quite pleasant. She would take the sex demons as servants over any other.
The citadel shook suddenly, but Aliza continued without pause. She wasn't worried.
Yes, the succubi were excellent choices as servants, always thinking of the most desirable for them inside their home. They made remarkable additions in the bedroom, too, with skilled hands that would do inexplicably pleasant things to hers and the others bodies. But then there was her once-sister Olena, whom Countess had made Head Servant. The pale girl's ardor in serving had mended her inexperience quickly, and she now supervised the others when not out following Countess. That girl still joined them in the bed at times, but not so often anymore.
The citadel shook again, and this time Aliza sighed, thoughts inevitably falling back to what was happening just outside the walls.
Zyke's Necromancer friends had finally caught up to them, seeking punishment for his breaking the covenant of Closing the Book. Necroguardians, he had called those who marched up their slopes the last night and now sieged their home. His reason for leaving two weeks ago had been to find and dissuade the force of them from finding their citadel, thus preventing the girls from knowing. He had not succeeded, obviously.
Aliza's sisters at the Monastery had offered to fight the encroaching Necroguardians when they first heard of the approaching army, but none of the harem had wished them further harm – not after the kindness of hiding them here. Even Andariel, whom at one point made the descent down the path to the Monastery and confirmed her own desire that the Rogues suffer no more, not after what she had done to them.
The first fifty Necroguardians to have found them while adventuring after Baal... No remorse, no mercy. Andariel had been critically wounded, near the point of death; Countess had been comatose after becoming surrounded and brutalized by too many skeletons; Aliza herself was subjected to several Bone Spirits, and the only reason she herself still lived was because of what she had found out was Ellyia's armor.
In the end, though, every Necroguardian of the fifty was butchered, and their hordes had died with them. That was no less than they deserved, not after what they had done to Zyke and his Ellyia.
The citadel shook again, and Aliza shook her head.
This time, they had come with nearly the full force of Necroguardians. Over a thousand strong, then with their summons to create an army of perhaps fifteen thousand. All that, outside their walls at the moment. Only a few succubi were needed to help repel the forces at any moment thus far, waves of the Blood Mana curse crippling them and the Bloodstar projectile tearing apart any golem being used to batter their gates.
Nothing to worry about yet, and the harem itself would soon show their faces to begin the task of eliminating each Necroguardian with arrows, javelins, and poison. They would leave behind a defeat for the Priests of Rathma so bloody that they would never dare assault the walls of the Warden again, even if they were unaware of that last fact.
Rrajhess was waiting for her at the end of the first long corridor, and soon the two of them were chatting as they ascended weathered stone steps. As they spoke, Rrajhess sneaked a kiss on Aliza's lips, and Aliza laughed as she wrapped an arm around her. This was the woman she would raise hers and Zyke's children with.
Speaking of, most recently Aliza and Zyke had been trying for children. His seed was partially corrupted, making it extremely infertile for herself – as opposed to entirely infertile if he was a demon – but the uncorrupted part always had that chance, and they were hoping for it. The demons had no such luck, the threshold of corruption in the seed needed to impregnate them equal only to full demonhood. It was one of those things where vice versa was not always true.
The first level of the citadel above the welcoming hall was mainly pleasantries, and her and Rrajhess's walk took them past a massive balcony that had been given grass and turned into an archery range. Blood Raven had been insistent for it, there daily as far as Aliza saw, while she herself went there occasionally so she didn't lose her touch with the bow. The passed a room glittering and glistening with gold and sparkly valuables, including the rarest of items they had found. Countess had been equally demanding for a treasury.
Two succubi in the act of pleasuring each other broke apart quickly at their approach, one a blue winged Soul Burner and the other a purple winged Stygian Fury. They passed without reprimand, of course, knowing that the many demons under Zyke's service needed servicing themselves, and he couldn't always be the one to supply, though Rrajhess did make a rather amusing if perverse comment about them. The Soul Burner was the last of two, having been one of the few that remained with Andariel as the rest went to Diablo.
As a matter of fact, there was a good deal of shadowed quickies. Aliza had grown numb to the sight of it, in her time here. But then, there were times Zyke and herself, or with Rrajhess, or Countess with Olena or even Blood Raven, or Zyke with any girl in his harem... any of their own couplings could be found doing the same outside the bedroom at times, when the desire was great enough. Not the kind of life Aliza ever would have thought she'd find herself in, but thus was so, and she would admit the thrill in Zyke's strong arms suddenly sweeping her to the side, into an unoccupied nook, and the wonderful times of passion, even as succubi servants walked on by with only a look and a wink. And perhaps an offer to assist.
That second tier of the citadel fed them into the most commonly used sitting room among them, and inside Aliza found a lounging Countess speaking with Blood Raven, standing and leaned against a column; they were catching up after the two week separation. The two of them joined the demons briefly, then Countess had the wonderful idea of going up to see to Zyke.
The two succubi of their harem had him at the moment, but only more pleasure could be found by the rest joining them. So with smiles, they all rose to their feet and left the room, back for the stairs. Aliza shared a laugh as Countess moved between her and Rrajhess, suggesting rather lewd ideas as to what they could do together.
It still surprised Aliza that despite Zyke's wild and untamed lusts, his lecherous eye, his sometimes requests for succubi to assist in their times of passion, and his former history of satisfying himself with anything of the female gender, he remained remarkably true to them as a harem. The mere concept of a harem seemed to suggest he remained uncommitted, yet it was almost the opposite.
The succubi's game of losing or gaining clothing could draw his eye, perhaps raise an approving comment, but one would typically find his hands rather obscenely placed on one of the Sister of the Harem's bodies in response. The succubi constantly offered themselves to him, offered the quickies in the corners in passing in the halls, but never had Aliza seen him accept one or caught him in the act with one. Well, unless it was with one of them as well. Even Aliza admitted how much better succubi could make times of passion when included.
No, Zyke was a good man to his women. If a demon was getting desperate for male satisfaction, he always asked them despite the assurance that it was okay. If his own lusts were bubbling out of control and none of them were around, he would only consider taking a succubi if he had asked their permission first. The man was a rock of self-control in a sea of temptation... somewhat. He tried hard enough for her to trust him.
It was strange to think she had once considered a man having a woman besides his wife as something abhorrent. Then again, considering everyone beside herself was corrupted or a demon, it seemed impossible to hold onto human morals. She felt lucky she still held what she did. If only Auriel would give in!
"Mommies!" a shrill shout sounded, followed by a chorus of "Motherrrs!" and such.
The four of them stopped to see eight little troublemakers approaching fast, and Aliza and Rrajhess both dropped to a knee to gather the children in their arms, Countess and Blood Raven each also taking one. Five Sabre Cat females, three human males, all five years old now. Rrajhess's first litter.
Aliza rubbed noses with little Kevenar, Carrol, and Sandrra. They were Rrajhess's children, but the spawn of both Rrajhess and Zyke she felt was her own. She hoped she took child soon.
As the children were released to their blood mother – not true mother, only the one who physically birthed them – Aliza again felt the sad twang on her heart. In not too much longer, the kids would be released.
The citadel was no place to raise them, not with heinous acts going on as they did all around them – though the succubi took remarkable care in keeping the children away from anything they shouldn't see. However, even so, that wasn't the reason. The Sabre, according to Rrajhess, needed to become a part of a Pride for a time before they could explore the world freely. Any Sabre Cat who left her Pride for a man always returned her children to the Pride.
The human children, for Sabre could only be female, they were to find good normal homes, away from the corruption that would be found here. For five years Rrajhess had raised those kids with them, fed them with her own four breasts, let them grow on the hearts of nearly every one of them, yet come the sixth year the girls would go and the boys on their seventh. Even the succubi caretakers had cried when Rrajhess released the news. None wanted them to go, but Aliza knew they must. Honestly, she couldn't let children realize what kind of life their parents led, couldn't let them misunderstand their desires for pleasure or let them even chance the corruption she daily resisted from Andariel and Countess both. The young were innocent and naturally immune for a time, but that would expire soon enough.
Rrajhess almost canceled the plan for surprising Zyke's bed with the four of them so she could be with the quite animated children, but with only a little pout, Aliza convinced her otherwise. She loved the children, but they would be just as excited and eager if they came after their time with Zyke.
Two modestly clothed succubi – actually modestly clothed! - came and smiled and the group of them before ushering in the children in and letting them pass. Those two succubi, the caretakers, they could sense sex or nudity a hallway away, and somehow never once let the children walk into the act.
Once the children vanished from sight, the citadel suddenly shook again, and scowling, Aliza and them walked to a window to peak out at the white army speckled with black outside their walls. They would deal with them soon enough.
Down the halls they continued, then up staircases. The citadel was huge, full of rooms both occupied and otherwise. Hundreds of succubi, not all of them could fit in the Servants' Quarters, though some did spill out into the abandoned surrounding town. Aliza could already feel herself eager for Zyke's touch, and she leaned into Rrajhess as they walked.
Finally, they reached the desired floor, the last before the spiraling tower that served as bird's eye. Ten doors down a long hall, five on either side, before a gilded door large enough to squeeze Andariel through in her natural form. Each room before them housed miscellaneous things or uses, like a washroom or the cribs where the litter had slept when very young, though one was currently occupied and shared by three succubi whom Andariel considered the best at pleasure... She hadn't been lying, Aliza clearly remembered with a tingle down her spine.
Both Rrajhess and Blood Raven opened the double-doors, and the sounds were the first thing they noticed upon entering. Shaking their heads, Aliza and Countess closed the doors behind them, and they all made their way towards the bed. Their Zyke, Aliza's husband, was there, and he smiled at them with his arms around Karylia.
"Are we interrupting?" Countess asked as they began to strip, and the four of them eyed those on the bed with predatory grins.
Zyke laughed and of course eyed them in return. "Of course not, my dears. Only enhancing the experience."
The bed most certainly was big enough to hold the all of them, and once they all crawled on to join the first three, the fun truly began. Love and lust, a perfect blend between them. The Warden had his work cut out for him, but never would the world assume that meant satisfying the women of his harem.
"You still resist?" Tyrael asked, amused.
Auriel sighed. "I want to meet him, I do, but I just know that with a man like that, I won't be able to help myself."
"Would joining the Warden's harem be so bad?" The High Heavens were truly a sight to behold, but currently Tyrael only had eyes for the archangel before him.
"I don't know, Tyrael. I don't know." She lowered her cowl to the brilliant light of the Heavens, the same he had. "It appears Aliza has yet to notice she has stopped aging." She huffed a mirthless laugh, then. "The Gift of the Heavens, they call it, while some mortals call immortality a curse. I don't see how our kind of lifespans could be either. Life is just life."
"That girl well deserves the extension," Tyrael nodded. Without the corruption like the others, only Aliza would continue to age. Now, she could live with them for however long their union lasted. "The mortals are a strange lot. They think lifespans shorter than theirs as being cheated, and lifespans longer as a burden."
Auriel nodded, then looked out into the brilliance of the home of the angels. Instead of overwhelming awe, she sighed. "Do you think the Warden would stand for an angel in his harem?"
She started when Tyrael boomed a laugh. "Auriel, he would be eager. It's the others you must be concerned about, and the Rogue already favors you. And if she does, then you can include the Sabre Cat, while the former countess is more than willing for any additional woman. The Hero of Tristram is unpredictable, but explain a few things about yourself and Mephisto and even the Demon Queen may consent."
Auriel blushed lightly. "Maybe... But I don't know if theirs is the kind of life I want to tie myself. It is just survival and pleasure." Tyrael only looked at her, unblinking and perfectly bland. After a few moments, Auriel turned her head and blushed harder. "Alright, so maybe that's the exact kind of life I want, but it doesn't mean I'll be entirely happy with it. Mephisto was a mistake, after all."
"Auriel, Auriel... I will not explain the obvious. I'm the archangel of justice, not love." Tyrael smiled, amused. Then, his smile slowly slipped away. "Imperius has returned the debate over Sanctuary again, now that the Worldstone is gone. This time he is trying for the angels outside the Angiris Council."
Auriel nearly swore like a mortal. "If that hotheaded fool doesn't bring war and ruin to us all, the Warden surely will if he even tries to touch one of his girls."
Tyrael nodded. "Fortunately, he has not turned many heads towards the destruction of Sanctuary... but they are listening. As soon as the first signs of the Hells stirring on Sanctuary with the Worldstone gone begin, Warden or not, many of our forces will turn immediately to Imperius. The only outcome I can see of this is the destruction of our side of the war by the Warden or a complete split among the High Heavens."
"Well," Auriel sighed. She felt like she was doing that a lot lately. "It looks like I must return to my seat at the council and talk some fools out of the idea. Will your voice be joining mine?"
"Of course, there is no justice in the destruction of an entire world," Tyrael waved off as both took to the air, high into the sparkling skies of the Silver City.
Even without the Prime Evils, Tyrael knew, the Burning Hells would begin a terrifying move against the world of Sanctuary. In addition, he was worried about what the destruction of the Worldstone would mean, beyond the access of Sanctuary from both the Heavens and the Hells. Any number of things could happen, even something as terrifying as a second spawning of the Lord of Terror in his true form, the one he had been in before being banished to Sanctuary in the Dark Exile.
But that was unlikely, of course. There was no way that could possibly happen... right?
Well, regardless, Tyrael knew the Warden was there to defend against it. The Warden and his Harem. Sanctuary was safe, so long as he still protected it... And likely Auriel would be there too, by the Warden's side, come the return of the Hells. Tyrael laughed at that, still amused to no end by the idea.
Final AN: Thank you to those who did review. As always, they are much appreciated, and what few there were are what kept me motivated enough to finish this.
Well, this story is a one of a kind for me. Only recently convinced to write lemons, and this thing became a damn lemon tree. A full on harem fic, to boot. I know it ain't perfect and the characters aren't the best either, but this thing has been a true joy to write. The literal epitome of writing for pleasure, rather than for improvement or meaning. I cut back on all things tying me to an audience, and posted it only because I know some peeps might enjoy it too.
Well, aside from my snobbish pride of this story, I would like to hear of the good points and the bad. Especially the bad. I might not have intended to improve in writing with this, but that doesn't mean I won't try... And I'm real bad at finishing AN's. I already gave the story's specs, already gave its original outline, now I've given my thanks and my thoughts...
So, I suppose without further adieu, here is the alternative ending from when this story was supposed to be a full on parody. Good day to yall, I hope you enjoyed!
Edit (11-19-2010): In a moment of boredom, I photoshopped a picture of the harem together using game pictures. If you were ever wondering what they looked like, you can see it on my profile.
The Alternate Ending
Baal was near his final moments, battered a bloody and wavering, but Zyke couldn't notice. He cradled her bloody body, rocking the pale woman back and forth even though the life had since left her eyes and he could feel the energies of death within her.
"Blood Raven, no..." Zyke cried, knowing that unlike Aliza, she wouldn't be coming back. His gorgeous, proud Blood Raven, broken and defeated.
Andariel snapped off another of Baal's limbs, and the last of the Prime Evils roared in pain as he teleported away again. Immediately two arrows and a javelin found him, and he roared again, staggering on his remaining three legs. His one arm was lowered and mangled, and it was obvious he would finally fall soon.
Blood Raven, whom had first joined him, whom had the wit of Ellyia, whom had fallen for him in the Catacombs before his meeting with Andariel, whom was the last Hero of Tristram, whom he loved with his fractured heart, whom was now dead from the gaping slash across her pale and once flawless stomach. Zyke cried for her, while the others moved to finish Baal. They could get the revenge; he couldn't move from Blood Raven if all the Hells were coming for him.
It was the javelin of Ellyia that impaled Baal's chest that had him rear back in a death-roar, but Andariel took Baal by the head and ripped the offending appendage off as he tumbled over. Then, it was finished.
Bloodied, exhausted, and down-trodden, the remainder of Zyke's harem turned to him. Remainder, for now one was no longer alive. Oh, Blood Raven, no!
The ground began to tremble slightly, and with Baal no longer warding him off, Tyrael appeared, but Zyke noticed neither. All he saw was the eternally sleeping beauty in his arms, and all he felt were the comforting hands of the surviving harem on his arms and back. Some of them cried with him, others softened hard emotional walls to where they shared his sorrow. Blood Raven, first Sister of the Harem, was dead.
Tyrael tried to mention something about the Worldstone, but Zyke didn't hear. A red portal – a rift – opened, but Zyke didn't see. The archangel explained something to Andariel that had her nod and begin guiding them towards the portal, but Zyke barely felt it as he and the others reverently carried the fallen captain's body.
Then, one by one, they stepped through the portal, carrying Blood Raven between them, and Zyke was last, his cheek pressed against her cold one.
But instead of stepping out into another location, as should have happened, there was a sea of blackness on the other side of the rift. A dizzying sensation, like traveling through a waypoint, struck Zyke suddenly, and he was horrified to feel that he no longer held the body of Blood Raven.
The world of darkness spun and spun, spiraling his mind until all that existed was the sensation and his horror over Blood Raven. Only those two things filled his mind. Then, as suddenly as if it truly were a waypoint, everything came to a jerking halt, and the world of light came back in a rush. However, unlike a waypoint, none of the dizziness remained the moment he came to a stop.
Zyke tried to look around, tried to wonder what had just happened, but spears at his throat stopped him.
"He appears a Necromancer, but he can't fool my Inner Sight!" someone spat, someone with one of the spears.
It was raining, and the coolness of the air told Zyke he was no longer at Mount Arreat or anywhere near the Barbarian homelands. He tried to find the others, the other pieces of his heart, tried to find Blood Raven, but all he saw were rogues. What was going on?
"He is a demon!" the lead rogue continued, near hissing the word.
Zyke's hands were up, he realized, and suddenly – like the axe on a chopping block or the spark of life leaving an eye – he recognized where he was. The... Rogue Encampment.
It wasn't just still in use, but it was exactly as he had first found it, all those many weeks ago. This was the same situation he had found himself in back then, too, though he now still wore the enchanted armor he had found on the way to Baal. He still had his power, the abilities, unlike he had the first time then, too.
But it was the same, as if somehow that portal had brought him back in time to the origins.
And then, a loud... something like a voice, but while it had words it was not the kind that were heard. That something invaded his mind and bared its booming message like a terrible specter, and the simple phrase chilled him to the bone, penetrating even the sorrow and confusion that roiled within.
WELCOME TO NIGHTMARE DIFFICULTY.