This story was meant to be a one-shot written for my friend, Nithu, but it has run away with me and has now developed into a full-length story! So, Nithu, I'm loving you for your wonderful idea, but cursing you in equal measure for making me commit to another long story! :P
Jen, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a true friend, and excellent Beta Reader! Love you!
This story is going to get very dark, so be warned.
"I will break you, Templar!" Uldred sneered maliciously. "The only question is, how long it will take for the cracks to appear? But I don't mind waiting," the blood mage whispered, edging closer to the magical field that trapped his victim within. "In fact," he groaned, almost sexually, "it makes my conquest all the more…pleasurable."
Cullen fell to his knees and clasped his hands together tightly, desperately reciting the Chant of Light, and squeezing his eyes closed to block out the sight of the Templar corpses strewn around him. His friends. His brothers. Try as he might, however, he could not block out the sound of Uldred's mocking laughter as he ascended the steps to the Harrowing Chamber.
Cullen raised his voice to shut out the screams coming from the floor above. "Maker, though the darkness comes upon me, I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm. I shall endure…"
"Cullen?" A quiet, hesitant voice spoke. "Oh, Cullen, it is you! Thank the Maker you're alive!"
Cullen broke his prayer and looked up in fear and trepidation. His mouth fell open as he rose to his feet. A red-headed elven mage stood outside the magical field. "Gabby?" he said shakily. "Is that really you?"
"Yes, it is I," she confirmed, gazing at Cullen as tears spilled down her cheeks. "Have they hurt you?"
"No," he replied, "although they have tried." He looked at her longingly for a moment and let out a ragged sigh. "Gabby," he whispered," you have to get out of here. Uldred will return at any moment."
"No," she replied firmly. "Not without you." She examined the magical field and touched it, her hand passing straight through. "It seems this is a one-way field," she explained. "One could enter, but they could not get out."
Cullen removed one of his gauntlets and took her hand, bringing it to his lips and softly kissing it. "If only things could have been different, Gabby…" he murmured, his voice quaking with longing and bitter regret.
Gabby grasped his hand and stepped through the field, trapping herself inside with Cullen.
"Maker!" he cried. "What are you doing? Now you're trapped as well!"
"It matters not," she said fatalistically, looking up at him with sad green eyes. "There is no escape for either of us; you know this. If this is to be my final day, I wish it to be at your side."
"But, Gabby…" he whispered, gulping heavily as he tried, and failed, to keep his tears at bay.
Gabby moved closer to him and laid her head on his shoulder. He brought his arms around her and they held each other, thinking of what might have been, as he breathed in the scent of mint and lemon from her hair.
She looked up at him and gently grasped his chin as he shyly hung his head down, tilting his head upwards. "I-I love you, Cullen," she admitted. "I may as well tell you now. I know it's forbidden for us to be together, but I can't help the way I feel."
Cullen stared at her, wide-eyed, his mouth slack. "You…you love me?"
Gabby nodded her head slowly, fresh tears coursing down her face. "More than anything," she replied with keen longing in her eyes. "I wish we could have been…together before we die," she whispered, taking his face in her hands.
"B-but…it's not allowed," Cullen protested weakly. "I…I've sworn to dedicate myself to the Maker, forsaking all others."
"And where has that got you, Cullen?" she replied with bitterness in her voice. "What has dedicating yourself to the Maker got you? I'll tell you what," she said firmly. "Loneliness, regret and a premature death. Where is the Maker now?" she cried. "Why hasn't He saved us?"
"The Maker is omnipresent," Cullen justified. "He sees all. He will exact justice on those who wrong us."
"And how does that help us?" she cried angrily. "Isn't the Maker also omnipotent? Why isn't He stopping this? Face it, Cullen - there is no Maker!"
"Please," Cullen pleaded as he clasped her arms, the contact making him breathe shakily. "Do not let your fear make you bitter. If we are to meet our end, we must do so with a full and compassionate heart." He paused and took a deep breath. "And I know your heart to be compassionate, Gabby," he added. "That is why I…" He hung his head down and exhaled.
"Please," Gabby whispered softly, "continue."
He raised his head and for the first time, really looked at her. Her ivory, heart-shaped face was framed by titian red hair that cascaded in waves down her shoulders. Her eyes, kind and forgiving, were a deep forest green with flecks of amber. He looked at her lips, set in a perfect cupid's bow, and wondered how they would feel against his. "You're so beautiful," he said with conviction. "And, Maker help me, I've admired you since first I laid eyes upon you."
"You think I'm beautiful?" she asked and laughed softly, shyly biting her lip. "Nobody has ever said that to me before."
"I find that hard to believe," he mumbled, blushing furiously, his eyes once again cast downwards.
"Cullen," she said nervously, "make me feel beautiful. Let us feel love for once in our lives before they end." She took his hands and gently pulled him downwards, placing a whisper-soft kiss on his lips. "Please."
"I-I…" he stuttered, as he broke into a sweat and heat poured off him. "I've…never…"
"Then I would be honoured to be your first, Cullen," she replied, releasing his hands and sitting down on the floor. "Please, Cullen," she asked softly, holding her hand out to him, "lay down with me."
Cullen gulped, took her hand and knelt awkwardly beside her. Gabby began undoing the straps holding his armour in place, and he raised his arms as she lifted his heavy breastplate above his head, leaving only his chainmail. "That's better," she said with a smile, "now you can actually move." She began to pull up her robes, but Cullen's hand grabbed hers, stopping her.
"No, we mustn't," he said sadly, shaking his head.
"What do you mean?" Gabby replied sharply.
"I-I can't do this," he mumbled apologetically. "It would be a sin against the Maker."
"You can't just lead me on then say no!" she yelled.
"Gabby?" he asked fearfully. "What's got into you?"
Gabby grabbed his shoulders and pushed him onto his back with surprising force. Clambering atop him, she pinned his arms in place against the floor. Weakened by his incarceration, he fought desperately to free himself, but she proved too strong for him. She leaned down to meet his face.
"This is what you want, Cullen," she growled, a pale light in her eyes that paralysed him with fear. "I can feel it!" she laughed, grinding herself against his erection.
"Gabby, please – don't…" he pleaded.
She released his arms from her grip and hastily removed his codpiece, tossing it aside as she released him from his smallclothes.
"What have you done!" Cullen cried, his voice bright with panic. "I can't move!"
"You're mine, now, my pet," she sneered, pushing aside her smallclothes and roughly introducing herself to him. Cullen's eyes bulged as he uttered an anguished cry.
"Does it hurt?" she asked with mock concern as she gyrated.
"Please!" he begged, "please stop! Gabby…I don't want it to be like this!"
She stopped, and for a moment, Cullen thought she had reconsidered her actions, but could only watch in horror and panic as she lifted her robe above her head, discarding it to the side of her. She was naked beneath.
He gasped at the sight of her, and instinctively averted his eyes, but it was too late; he'd already seen her. In spite of his fear and discomfort, he felt an involuntary stirring deep in his belly. She threw her head back and laughed as she bounced up and down. Cullen lay back and closed his eyes, hoping for it to be over quickly.
Much to Cullen's relief, it ended abruptly, thanks to his lack of experience. He lay back, panting heavily, his eyes still firmly closed. A tear ran down his face as deep shame and emptiness overwhelmed him. He couldn't look at her. He had never felt so used or wretched in his entire life.
"Cullen?" she teased, running a sharp fingernail down his chest.
His blood turned to ice as he heard a second, deeper voice speaking alongside that of Gabby's. His hands shook as he opened his eyes, terrified of what he would see.
Sitting atop him was a woman who was not Gabby. As his eyes travelled upward, he saw mottled, pale grey skin, a fanged smile. Seeing his reaction, she laughed again, the very sound of it an assault on his ears. He stared in terror as she brought her pale, purple-horned head nearer to his.
"I was honoured to be your first, Cullen," she purred malevolently. "And the mage whore was correct – there is no Maker!"
"No! Please! Not again! Maker help me!"
He was in darkness, the only sound his frantic breathing.
Several heavy thuds sounded against wood. "Knight-Commander! Are you alright?"
Light flooded in as his door was thrust open and a Templar rushed in, his sword drawn.
Cullen, startled, sprang up into a sitting position. "How dare you enter my quarters without my leave!" he yelled.
"B-but, Knight-Commander," the Templar said hesitantly. "We heard you shouting…"
"GET OUT!" Cullen bellowed.
"Y-yes, Ser," the Templar stammered and withdrew, closing the door behind him.
Cullen listened as the sounds of quiet muttering and clanking footsteps grew quieter, then ceased. He reached out in the darkness for his ever-present rum, and swigged directly from the bottle. He set it down clumsily and it fell to the floor, smashing and releasing a cloying, spicy fragrance.
He was still painfully erect, and his brows knitted together as he grasped his cock. "Gabby…" he whimpered as he roughly relieved himself of his predicament.
He sighed wearily and lay back down, pulling the covers over his head. His shoulders shook and his hands balled into fists. "Maker, forgive me!" he vociferated as he wept long and bitterly; fatigue and weakness eventually overcoming him as his eyes rolled back in his head and finally closed.
He was back in the magical cage, surrounded by five of his fellow Templars, all held in place with a paralysis spell. He looked down and saw he held a dagger in his hand.
"I said, kill them."
Mortal terror seized Cullen; his body began to move and he realised he had no control over it. He walked toward one of his friends, Ser Rice, and raised his arm, bringing the dagger to the Templar's throat. He screamed inside his head as the knife bit into flesh and plunged and twisted; Ser Rice's gurgled shrieking forever and irrevocably burned into his mind. He moved along to the next Templar and slowly dragged the dagger across his windpipe, evoking an horrific sputtering sound as blood met exhaled air and sprayed Cullen's face; not killing the Templar outright, but ensuring a slow and excruciating death.
As he finished off the last of his friends, the only evidence of Cullen's internal feelings were the sweat and tears that soaked his otherwise blank and slack face. The Templars lay twitching, gurgling and gasping on the floor, begging him to release them from their agony.
"There's a good little Templar," Uldred mocked, reaching through the cage and snatching the dagger from Cullen's fingers.
With control of his body returned to him, Cullen surveyed the carnage done by his own hand. His skin burned and saliva flooded his mouth as his stomach lurched. He fell to the floor, retching piteously, bringing up phlegm and bile; his stomach was empty, as he had been starved for two days.
"He is almost ready," Uldred said to an unseen person.
He awoke again in darkness, although this time he knew where he was, as the Templar dream…the Templar memory was a nightly occurrence, something he expected. The dream…memory…of Gabby only came to him occasionally, however; but recently it had occurred with more regularity, and it disturbed him greatly.
He swung his legs around and threw back his covers. He stood up and stripped naked, throwing his sweat-soaked nightshirt to the floor. He walked over to the window for some air, letting forth a blood-curdling shriek as he trod on several shards of broken glass. He hopped backwards, collapsing onto his bed.
His door flew open again, and his second-in command, Ser Smyth entered, carrying a torch. "Fetch a healer! Immediately!" he yelled to another Templar stood outside.
"NO!" Cullen shouted. "I've told you before, man! No magic!"
"Knight-Commander," Smyth said firmly. "You must have healing magic!"
"I said NO!" Cullen yelled incoherently. "I won't have one of those devils touching me!"
Stepping forward, Ser Smyth grasped the back of Cullen's head. "Forgive me, Knight-Commander," he said sadly. Colours and lights exploded in Cullen's vision as a gauntlet-clad fist met him squarely between the eyes. He saw no more.
Ser Smyth looked balefully upon his superior as a healing mage was ushered into the room. Cullen was the first ever Knight-Commander to be appointed a second; the Grand Cleric had thought it prudent after Cullen's hushed-up suicide attempt not long after his appointment two months ago.
Although he thought Cullen a sadistic bastard, it was at moments like this that Smyth truly pitied him, and wondered if he would have fared better had their lives been exchanged.
"Put him to sleep," Smyth instructed the mage. "He has a lot to do tomorrow, and will need to be at full strength." He turned to leave the room and shook his head. "Three floggings this time," he muttered to himself.
"Somebody clean up that broken glass," he instructed. "And not a word of this to anyone, understand?"
"Understood, Ser," replied the other Templar. The mage nodded wearily.