Thanks for being patient but your wait is over! The sequel is finally here! I hope you guys like it. I worked hard on it, making sure it wasn't some load of crap or anything. I wanted it to be well thought out and such.
Here's some general warnings for the story: There will be gore, violence, demeaning situations, sexual innuendo/scenes and lots of foul language. This will be darker in general content (in my opinion) than Strangled because Shang Tsung is the main villain and he's a twisted little cookie. If this isn't something you wanna get into, leave now.
On second thought, stay here and try something new for crying out loud!
Ah, I'm just kidding. You make that call. This is just a general fair warning so that you know what's up.
ChibiSonya: for planting the seed and helping me along :D
KitanavsMileena: for getting me hooked on Liutana :)
EvilGeniusProductionsInc: for your special advice ;)
ColdRecluse: for your in-depth reviews XD
DarkAssassin15: for your honest assessments of my fave character Rain (prince of all assholes, indeed X)
'Guest': for your consistent kind words, though they were all in Portuguese :3
And thank you so much for every single person who supported and faved and followed Strangled! Alright, on to the story now.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Mortal Kombat at all; it belongs to Ed Boon and Co.
"It's been more than ten minutes; I say we go back home."
"No. Now be quiet."
"But they're not here!"
"Are you sure?"
Mileena narrowed her dark eyes but didn't say anymore. She knew that the man behind her was set in his decision to stay here. Here, as in a clearing in the woods on the starlit evening. She folded her arms and stared crossly at the blazing fire in front of her. She knew he was right, the others would be arriving soon. Nightwolf was just early, as per usual, but that hadn't stopped her from trying to coax him into leaving the monthly meeting and spending the rest of the night with her. Of course he wouldn't be doing that though.
Nightwolf tried to resume his meditation but that proved to be impossible with his brooding wife nearby. She was upset and that bothered him. Not to the point to where he'd abandon his duties and skip the meeting tonight, but it bothered him nonetheless. He opened his eyes and looked over to where she sat not too far from him. She was perfection, he thanked the gods for her every single day. As if sensing his eyes she turned to him.
He couldn't help but smile at her. She was sporting one of her most vicious glares but he could see there was no malice behind it. It was more of a pout really. She turned her back to him defiantly and huffed. He laughed now.
"Mileena," He murmured.
She looked over her shoulder but didn't turn around. He uncrossed his legs and leaned over to pull her into his lap. She didn't fight him but held onto that frown of hers. Nightwolf leaned his back against the rough bark of a tree and smiled fondly down at her.
"I can't hold you like this all night," He warned her.
She rolled her eyes moodily, "I know."
The chief leaned forward and pushed a kiss onto her forehead. He stated knowingly, "There's something on your mind."
Mileena wrapped her arms around Nightwolf's neck and sighed. He already knew what was the matter, it was something they talked about for a while now.
"They don't like me." She claimed.
Nightwolf tilted his head, "The elders?"
"Yeah." She answered, "They don't like me."
Nightwolf kissed her again, on her lips this time, and said, "I like you."
"But they don't," She persisted.
Nightwolf knew why, too. Beautiful as his little wife was, she was flawed in the elders' eyes. He had no clue how to change that, or if he even could. Some as old as the elders were awfully set in their ways. He wanted to convince them that his love was a good person but he didn't know how to make them see what he saw.
"You're just different," Nightwolf explained gently, "They'll need some time to get used to you, is all."
Mileena frowned, "It's been two and a half months; how long do they need before they stop giving me dirty looks?"
Nightwolf had no answer for her so he just stroked her arms and stared into the crackling fire. He may have no more to say on the subject but Mileena wasn't quite done. She hated the feeling those elders gave her, they were always staring at her and making her feel unworthy. She felt as if nothing she could ever do would measure up to their standards of good. Nothing she could do would make them approve of her. It hurt her more than she dared admit.
In a low growl she muttered, "They have no right to judge me."
"You're right," A new voice added, "I suppose it is your prerogative to speak foully and dress as a whore."
Nightwolf shot his general a warning look, one that was much milder than that of Mileena's. She glared balefully at the newcomer and rose from the chief's lap.
"Who fucking asked you?" She asked testily.
He only shrugged, "I was merely speaking my mind. Aren't we all free to do that much?"
"You're also free to go die in a hole," Mileena suggested snidely.
Nightwolf shook his head and said tiredly, "Both of you, stop. You shouldn't provoke each other."
"Whatever," Mileena stated, dusting off her pants. "I'm leaving anyway. Better go before they get here."
As she walked past the chief she bent down and kissed his cheek, then turned round and flipped her middle finger towards the General. Tvari could only narrow his eyes at the retreating woman. Mileena stomped through the woods, intent on going back to the home that she and Nightwolf shared. The more she walked, the more a feeling of unease crept upon her.
Somebody's following me, She thought angrily.
She inched her hands down inconspicuously towards her waist and gripped the handles of her sai's. She took a few more steps before suddenly rounding on her supposed stalker, only to find there was no one there. Mileena rose a brow.
I coulda' sworn there was someone there, she thought in frustration as she hurried the rest of the way back to the village.
In an empty cavern realms away, Reptile stood rubbing his neck. He thought in dismay how close he had to been to having two very sharp sai's jammed into it. That had been a close call. The Saurian stood rigidly as his current master regarded his account silently. His master sat against the damp cavern wall enshrouded in a deep black cloak while Reptile stood before him.
"Interesting," His master stated curiously, "How resilient my creation must be to have withstood my adversary's curse."
Reptile's hand twitched of its own accord.
"It is rather peculiar that she's with the shaman, however. What is the nature of her relationship with him?"
"I didn't have time to find out," Reptile admitted while his left eye steadily spasmed.
"I see." Said his master, "What other news do you have for me?"
Nothing, it would seem, could ease the princess's mind. She was a tempest of swirling emotions inside. She was unsure of her every decision and didn't know what to do next. As she sat in her nightgown late one night she pondered her life. Did she do the right thing in bringing Liu Kang to her home? Were her efforts enough to restore her kingdom? Did the people of Edenia trust her after her dealings with Shao Kahn? Kitana felt so incredibly insecure. So far, for a couple of months she'd been stuck in a cycle of pushing these uncertainties on the back burner and going on about her life, getting things done and such. But now those fears were overwhelming her.
"Are you sure the speech was alright?" She asked nervously.
From the other side of the room Jade pushed herself off of the wall and came over to her liege. She was no stranger to a stressed out princess and tried her best to put the other woman at ease.
"Your speech was uplifting." Jade assessed, "Not fortified with sugary lies and false claims like it could've been. You did well."
Kitana was not satisfied. She asked, "But what about Liu Kang? Do you think it bothers them that a mortal is on the throne? And what about the Essence; shouldn't we be seeing the fruits of its implantation by now? If we don't start seeing the ends of our labor the people may lose hope in me, if they haven't already."
Jade shook her head and leaned her staff upon the far wall. With that put away, she came to sit on the bed beside her old friend. Comfortingly, she put her hand on Kitana's shoulder and smiled.
"Kitana, you have got to stop worrying." She advised, "The people of this nation adore you. They always have."
"But Kahn," Kitana began.
Jade held up her hand, "They've always given you the benefit of the doubt on that situation. They had a feeling it was the evil emperor influencing you."
Kitana nodded, seemingly assuaged.
"It'll take some time before we see the full effects of the Essence, you know that. This kingdom will be brought back to its former state of prosperity, I assure you. It's just going to take a while. I can't speak for everyone but I have full faith that you'll be able to bring us there."
The princess smiled a little.
"And as for Liu Kang," Jade added, "Well, many people see him as a hero and champion for his realm and others after he aided in bringing down Quan Chi. And Edenia has always had neutral, sometimes bordering on friendly, dealings with the mortals. I'm almost sure they won't mind him as king."
"Thank you," Kitana said gratefully.
She didn't usually let herself get to this point. Centuries of living and enduring several sets of crises and dire circumstances had allowed Kitana to develop a sort of resilience and level-headedness. But now all that had vanished. Thankfully, she had her faithful friend around to encourage her. It was just that she'd been in a rut as of late. Almost three months have passed and things in Edenia still looked desolate. Now she could see that wasn't true. There were plenty of eager workers committing to the many commissions involved in rebuilding the kingdom. In fact, the capital city was one of the few places that was beginning to look like its old self again. Like Jade said, however, restoration of the haven-esque realm would take much time.
"I guess I just need a little reassurance every once in a while." Kitana remarked, "Sometimes I feel like I'm making a mess of things."
Jade chuckled, "Trust me, you're not. Are you quite alright now?"
There was a soft knock at the door and Jade quirked a brow. She walked over to answer it cautiously. It was Liu. Fresh from the shower and garbed in black silk pajama pants and a short-sleeved black shirt, the new prince of Edenia stepped into the room. His own lavish suite was just across the hall but from the night he arrived, he'd been sharing Kitana's.
Jade smiled and went to retrieve her staff. "I think I'll give you two some time alone now."
"Alright, thank you Jade." Kitana called.
"Goodnight," Liu bade her as she exited.
Jade closed the door behind her and smirked. She definitely was no fool; she knew the things they got up to and knew not to stick around. Chaste as the royal couple may be, they were still affectionate towards one another. She made her way down the hall to her own room, which was right next to Liu's. Before she got in the doorway she stopped though. The smile slid from her face as an expression of dissension took its place.
Is someone...watching me? She wondered.
She looked around her and upon seeing no one, she shrugged and entered her bedroom. She was sure to lock the door behind her.
These people are too perceptive for their own good, Reptile thought to himself. He shifted from foot to foot as he waited for his master to mull over this piece of news.
"A match made in heaven, eh?" His master quipped at last, "I knew there would be a chance for Edenia's arrival so long as its princess yet lived. Kahn never believed me, but then again, where is he now?"
As the cloaked figure broke out into a laugh, Reptile stood nervously. He didn't know if he should join in or not. He certainly didn't find it funny. If anything, hearing of the princess' survival gave him hope; if she could survive and bring her home back to life then so could he. Still, he didn't want to displease his master so he twitched his lips into a hesitant smile.
"Is that all?" His master asked once he sobered.
Reptile shook his head and his neck twitched involuntarily. All the twitching was from the labor of maintaining his human form. His matriarch was not around, which made it impossible to do so. But with the help of his master's sorcery, he was able to do so. However, it was at a great strain to him. He was uncomfortable in this new body and it was difficult working with his master's dark magic.
His master grew restless: "I said, is. That. All?"
"N-no," Reptile stated nervously. "There's more."
In his study, the unit LK-4D4 stood thinking. There was a lot on his mind. The population had greatly dwindled, what with Quan Chi and Sektor's equal reign of tyranny and the whole Cyber Initiative movement. People had either been changed into robotic units and killed, challenged the new threats of the evil emperor and were killed, challenged the harsh GrandMaster Sektor and killed, or had fled the clan and consequently were hunted down. And killed. But now Sektor was dead and with him the Tekunin and the Cyber Initiative and all he ever stood for. The clan was in disarray as a result. The few people who remained were children, women, and some elderly. Family members of outcast or dead warriors. Only a couple hundred true warriors were still around, and some of them were injured or ruined; they would never be able to go on missions anymore, not with their arms, legs, or other body parts missing. The ones that could still qualify as assassins were incredibly wary and unsure of what was to become of themselves or the clan anymore.
This was what Cyrax had to work with.
And he had been doing his best but it wasn't enough. He didn't want this life and the people could tell. They didn't trust him. They were fearful and restless. It was understandable, they didn't want another Sektor after all. He's been doing his utmost to convey his stark contrast to his former friend but it just wasn't enough. He'd passed several edicts allowing the return of rogue ninjas back into the clan without punishment but that had backfired when criminals had wormed their way in and started robbing the homes and cities that he'd commissioned to be rebuilt. He'd learned the hard way to be more specific when passing legislature. But that was the thing, he didn't want to learn the tricks of the trade, he wanted out of this role. He didn't want to pass legislature and establish the clan and be in charge. It wasn't in him.
But if I don't do it, He thought to himself, who will?
"GrandMaster!" a voice implored.
Cyrax turned from the stacks of paperwork and piles of old tomes littering the office and saw that two guards stood in the doorway. The guards were touch and feel in terms of loyalty to either him and his cause or to Sektor's. The way Cyrax could tell the good ones from the brainwashed ones was by the way they addressed him. The brainwashed refused to call him GrandMaster, not that he minded, they called him Cyrax. The others, the good ones, called him GrandMaster. It was a minor thing, but it was most often the difference between life in death: he was sure there were some who wanted him dead. The 'accidents' were no real accidents after all.
"What is it?" He asked.
The two uniformed young men both bowed as their new leader approached.
"There are two strangers in the throne room who wish to speak with you." One of the guards explained.
Cyrax would've rolled his eyes if he could. Interaction was such a taxing daily experience for him. He so badly wanted to get away from all this. He stepped past the two guards and made his way to the area in the Lin Kuei facility so that he could face the two strangers in question. When he got there, he found the pair were in hooded and tattered cloaks.
Immediately Cyrax ordered, "Reveal yourselves!"
In his line of profession, he couldn't take chances. Thankfully the two did as they were told without hesitation. He was surprised to see the visages of his two old companions, Smoke and Tundra. Of course he could not convey his shock but he hoped the brief silence would make up for his missing emotions.
"Tomas?" He stated, "Kuai...Liang?"
The two ninja bowed low but Cyrax waved them back up to a standing position so that he could appraise them. They were worse for wear. Kuai Liang only wore dirty black pants and dull leather boots. Even if he was a cryomancer like his older brother it wasn't good for him to be wandering China dressed like that. The Enenra was no better with his torn shirt and filthy brown cotton pants. As if that weren't bad enough, the two of them sported an assortment of injuries. There were cuts and scars and bruises all over them, gods only knew about the ones that were under their clothing, unseen. They were in bad shape, but at least they were here.
"We've been roaming Earthrealm for years, dodging hunters and trying to survive as best we could," Tomas spoke in his soft accented voice.
Cyrax could relate to that at least. He'd been thrust into nearly the same lifestyle, except he had lost his humanity almost and had no one to share the experience with. He wouldn't lie, he was envious of the relationship the two best friends shared, but only because it painfully reminded him of what he used to have with Sektor.
"We only returned to the clan," Tomas continued, "because we heard Sektor was dead and that you were in charge."
"If you're trying to restore the Lin Kuei," Kuai Liang began in a raspy voice, "We're here to help."
Cyrax was taken aback. "This is. Unexpected. But thank you for returning. I appreciate it."
He knew it took a lot to come back here. There was a lot of pain associated with the Lin Kuei. It didn't have to be that way, not anymore. This clan could be something better. But Cyrax didn't think it was his destiny to be the one to bring about that new age. He suddenly thought to himself; perhaps its new leaders were standing right before him. He pondered the notion.
Kuai Liang and his brother were once in high favor with the rest of the population and they had the former GrandMaster's grudging respect because of their elite status in the clan. Tomas may not have been from around here, but he, too, was respected. Before he became a rogue ninja as well that is. But Kuai Liang and Tomas were young, fresh, dedicated. If anyone could take control of the clan and lead it in a new direction, it'd be them. Cyrax felt that he himself was too jaded, too cynical and too done with this clan, this life to do any improvement. But they would could change things for the better.
"If you really want to help," Cyrax started, "I know a good position for the two of you."
Kuai Liang perked a bit, "Which one?"
"GrandMasters." He proposed.
Tomas' light eyes widened and Kuai exchanged a look with the Enenra. They both seemed shocked by the offer. Cyrax supposed that could be expected. The title of GrandMaster wasn't one handed down lightly after all. But the cybernetic ninja believed the two could be the most suitable choices for the job, especially in comparison to himself.
Tomas nudged his friend and said confusedly, "GrandMasters? Us?"
Kuai, though, had already taken to the idea. He nodded and settled his shoulders. Already he was preparing himself for so monumental a role.
"It certainly is something to consider," The younger Sub-Zero commented, "But I believe it's one Tomas and I need to sleep on, if that's alright?"
Cyrax nodded stiffly. "Of course. You must be weary, the two of you. Come, I'll put you in a couple of rooms."
As he walked Tomas once again entreated upon him with, "Just one room will suffice."
Kuai nodded, "Yes. We've been traveling together for so long, and we know the palace can't be safe even now. It would be best we share the same quarters for now."
If Cyrax thought the request to be a strange one, he didn't show it. He merely nodded and led the two warriors to the residential area of the Lin Kuei facility. While he strode ahead of them he took glances back and saw the obvious limp they both walked with. They were hurt more than they let on. Cyrax put them away in a room with the hopes that their arrival was a good omen for once.
He was beginning to think the Lin Kuei to be as damned as their spin-off clan the Shirai Ryu.
While he made his way back down to the study area, his thermal receptors picked up on a figure just above him. He frowned and turned round first, then looked up. Nothing but the ceiling was there and yet his sensors were beeping up a storm.
Faulty hardware no doubt, he reasoned. During his time as a rogue warrior he'd had many mishaps and due to the many encounters with hunters, his exoskeleton and internal circuitry suffered for it. There wasn't time to repair himself. Now he figured he was paying for it with the decline of his programming.
He looked me right in the eyes, Reptile recalled. It's a good thing these people tend to doubt themselves above all else.
"So the rumors about Sektor's demise were true?" His master mused, "Hm. I always knew he'd die in his madness. There must be more you have for me."
The Saurian's stomach growled loudly but the other figure ignored it. Reptile tried his best to do the same but he couldn't help gritting his teeth against the inner ache.
In a pained voice he stated, "Yes. There is."
Today would be hell. He was awake so it was inevitable. If only he could just go back to sleep and spare himself the pain. There was always pain now. Every day was the same; work and constant torment. It was sickening. Each morning he awoke he was presented with this same grim reality. He knew it wouldn't be paradise, his new life, but he'd underestimated Ermac's hatred for him.
Should've just let him kill me, Rain thought as he rolled onto his side. But he knew he didn't mean it. Living was always the better option. All he had to do was endure his harsh circumstances until he could find a way to escape. And after that, take his revenge. If only he had a plan of action or something to get started.
With a sigh he rolled onto his other side but that was just as uncomfortable for him. Although there were no windows in the room, he knew it couldn't have been morning yet. He hated this room. It was tiny and freezing cold and empty save for the stone cot in the middle of the floor. All he had to cover himself was a scratchy white blanket that didn't even reach his feet. His muscles were sore and his back ached from tossing and shivering all nights. It was a chronic sort of pain that plagued him every night. He never dreamed because his body wasn't able to fall into a deep sleep anymore. He was most often fatigued as a result.
And I'm sure my looks are paying the price, He thought dismally, Not that I can be sure. Haven't seen my own reflection in gods know how long. It was the truest tragedy for the prince that his handsome features ever be compromised.
He shivered and brought his knees up to his chest. I hate living like this, he thought angrily. Working day in and day out doing menial tasks like some sort of domesticated animal. I hate this! It really isn't fair!
Life isn't fair, punk. You've been here almost three months, you should know that by now
Rain scowled and shut his eyes. There it was, that ever-present voice of Ermac's. The first thing the host had done was put another mind link on him, this one stronger than ever. Some kind of way the host also found a way to suppress part of Rain's consciousness so that the prince wasn't able to access his full abilities. All he could do was heal himself and perform minor feats with water, no lightening at all.
It was unbearable.
And if that weren't enough, the host was always nagging him. Rain had absolutely no privacy whatsoever; Ermac's overbearing presence was in the back of his mind at all times. It was beyond unnerving.
Whatever, Rain thought moodily as he continued to lay against the slab of stone that served as his cot. He knew he was taking a chance by ignoring Ermac but at the moment he didn't care. He was feeling particularly rebellious today. He tried to brace himself for the pain that he knew would come in response to his blatant disobedience. None came. He's letting it slide? Rain thought in confusion. He didn't question it, though. He wished sometimes that he could sleep for days, or better yet that he was still in a coma like he was for the first few weeks while his body was healing itself. At least then he didn't have to deal with any of Ermac's cruelty. Rain yawned and wrapped the blanket over his shoulders some more. In only a short while he managed to drift off to sleep again.
But after about a good five or ten minutes he bolted upright with a loud cry.
He sat atop the cot with the blanket pooled at his waist and struggled to catch his breath. His heart was racing and his hands were shaking as he used them to push his hair up into a ponytail. His quivering fingers worked around the silky ribbon deftly. The familiar motions of securing his long hair helped calm him, if only minutely. It was hard to get a grip after that horrific nightmare. Ermac had sent it to him, no doubt. The host knew just what nerves to stimulate to alight the prince's senses and bring the dream to life. Rain shuddered. He could swear he still felt the hands on him, roaming all over his body. As the fear melted away, rage took its place.
"You bastard!" Rain roared hoarsely.
Should've gotten your lazy ass up when we told you to
Rain swore once more and now the host did punish him with mental agony. The pain came as white-hot flames licking up his spine. Rain tore himself from the bed and ripped his shirt from over his head. He rushed from the cot and slammed his bare back against the stone wall. The cold didn't register anymore in his haste to rid his flesh of the horrid burning sensation. It didn't last long but it did send the prince the right message. As it ebbed away, Rain slid down the wall and collapsed in a shuddering heap. He took a moment to compose himself.
Rain stood and started to make his way over to the one and only door where a tray of food lay. He wasn't hungry but he needed to eat. The food was terrible anyway. It was always the same old stale, dry hunk of bread and lukewarm, stagnant metal cup of water. If he didn't eat it the three times a day it was offered, he wouldn't be able to keep his strength up.
You're a prince, aren't you?
Rain stopped in his walk towards the door and frowned. The traces of pain were completely gone now. The torment never lasted more than a few seconds but those few seconds were hell. However, he wanted to know what the damned host was getting at; of course he was a prince. Even if he weren't being treated as such, what with the improper lodging and clothing being supplied him. If it weren't for the fact that the whole palace were so cold, Rain wouldn't bother donning the low-grade cotton pants and short-sleeve white shirt.
Thought they would've trained you better in that case; get over here and make up this bed
The royal looked over his shoulder and rolled his eyes. I don't think so, he thought, it's not even a bed for goodness sakes! It's a hunk of rock and a shred of ratty fabric.
No sooner had he thought those words did his legs suddenly give out. Without warning they jellied and crumpled beneath him and he found himself colliding with the cold hard ground. He hurriedly threw out his hands to catch himself in a push-up position but realized in horror that he couldn't feel or control his lower body. It was completely useless to him, just lying there. He grew frightened for a moment.
"What the hell did you do?!" he cried.
You'll get them back as soon as you make up that bed
How am I supposed to get over there if I can't fucking walk? He thought incredulously.
Find a way.
The prince did. He used his elbows and forearms to drag himself over to the slab of stone and then yanked the itchy blanket down onto the floor with him. He hastily folded the cloth in fourths and threw it back over the cot. Thankfully, feeling surged back into the rest of his body upon doing so even though Ermac snorted disdainfully at Rain's sloppy handiwork. With his legs back at his command, Rain stood and narrowed his eyes. He didn't appreciate these little games.
The order was given as soon as the prince reached the door and had gotten the tray in hand. Rain brought the bread and water to his face and grimaced. He was surprised he was still stomaching the stuff in the first place. He balanced the cup of water in one hand and the bread in the other. Tentatively he tore off a bite of the bread and chewed morosely. He made a face as he swallowed. It tasted like chalk.
You should stop complaining; you could be starving instead
I might have rathered that, he mused bitterly. He sipped grudgingly at the metal cup. He really wasn't in the mood to force this down today.
Would you hurry up?
I'll take as long as I please, he retorted within the confines of his mind. Ermac heard him anyway and sent a bit of torture swiftly.
Rain hadn't been keen enough to keep that last thought to himself so this latest torment took him by surprise. He dropped both the bread and the water and gripped either side of his head. It didn't help. It was as if a bomb had gone off in his mind: if the noise wasn't startling enough the tiny pinpricks stabbing into his scalp did the trick. Rain crouched on the ground and buried his fingers deep beneath his dark hair until the anguish passed. Like the other times, it did. The prince could only blink away the white dots that floated in front of his eyes and pick himself up slowly off the ground. He looked over to where the metal cup was overturned and its contents had spilled all over the bread. He heaved a bit just thinking of ingesting the soggy bread but he knew he had to eat something. It would be hours before his next 'meal'. He hesitantly reached for the ruined loaf.
Leave it. Come to the throne room.
Rain flinched at the voice but decided to heed the host's instructions this time. Three bouts of mental torture was enough for one day. He ignored the mess and leaned against the wall to collect himself. Then he went over to the door and tried to turn the handle. It was locked.
Put your shirt on
Rain clenched his fists but did as he was told, if only to save himself some trouble. He knew it was very much a power thing with the host. Bastard, he shrugged into his white cotton shirt and went back over to the door. The metal handle was unlocked this time so he stepped through and around it into the hall. The floor was chilling under his bare feet but at this point he couldn't care less. He made his way stiffly down to the throne room as quick as he could.
Just wanna get this over with already, he thought.
Finally he made it to the room where cold stone floors gave way to smooth white marble and the painted columns and ceilings encased a vast expanse of space. At the far wall sitting lounged in one of the large gilded seats was none other than Ermac. He was as menacing as ever, that hadn't changed. What had changed was the host's latest accessory; Ermac now wore the amulet of Shinnok as a belt.
Rain had noticed it for the umpteenth time again as soon as he set eyes on the host and consequently he was filled with such consuming ire. The amulet was what had augmented Ermac's powers and had enabled him to hold Rain under such strict subjugation.
How dare he?! The royal internally ranted, that amulet is supposed to be mine!
"Bow down to your emperor," Ermac commanded.
"Go to Hell!" Rain shot back heatedly.
He stood his ground despite the pain he knew would come. He didn't care if he was letting his anger get the best of him, Ermac could only hurt him so much. He wouldn't get killed, Ermac needed him alive for some reason, so he planned to get by with what he could.
For their part, Ermac sighed and shook their hooded head. From the throne they stepped down and sauntered over to the prince. Rain tensed as they approached silently. Ermac didn't say a word as they circled the royal twice. On the third time they gripped the proud man's shoulders from behind and pushed him down onto his knees. Immediately Rain began to fight against them but Ermac gave him another shove and held him there telekinetically.
Rain was outraged. He was stuck on all four with no hope of getting up anytime soon. Maybe before I might have stood a chance. I could've fought against this or teleported, but since Ermac's using the amulet I'm screwed. I can't even use my own powers.
While he thought furiously of his current predicament, Ermac continued to circle him. The only sound in the large room was the low-frequency hum of the host's binds and the thudding of their leather boots against the sleek marble.
"You really do like making things hard for yourself," Ermac observed. "How long will it take, we wonder," they continued, "for you to learn to stop resisting?"
Rain glared at his blurry reflection in the slippery floor just inches from his face. He felt incredibly vulnerable with the host walking around him like this. He felt weak and defenseless. He hated it but wisely held his tongue. Still he curled his fingers and set his lips into a thin line.
"We will overlook your behavior for the time being," Ermac drawled, "It is a special day for you after all."
What is he on about? Rain wondered, Special day for me? Is this another one of his games? What is he playing at?
"In lieu of the day," the host continued, "We have something for you."
Now Rain was really puzzled. And a little afraid as well; if Ermac had something for him it had to be painful and unpleasant. His dread reached an all-time high when the host stopped right behind him. Ermac reached forward and grabbed a handful of Rain's black hair and yanked his head back as far as they could.
"Ah! Let go of me!" Rain shouted.
Ermac quickly snapped something tight around the prince's neck and then shoved him forward again. This time there was no telekinetic bond to hold him in place, and Rain fell back onto his hands and knees once more. The royal righted himself and sat back on his heels before fingering at the thing around his neck carefully. He was half-afraid it might tighten of its own accord and strangle him or something to that extent. But no, it just sat there around his throat. His fingers caught onto a clasp at the nape of his neck and he undid it, then brought the strip of material into his hands for closer inspection.
He took a good look at the item and his face fell as he recognized it. A dog collar. A cheap, plastic black dog collar, studded with fake rhinestones and texturized to look like leather. He didn't know how to react. He was angry. Mortified. Humiliated. He sat there and stared blankly at the collar and let the hate fester inside him before suddenly jumping to his feet and throwing the trinket to the ground. Ermac started to laugh boisterously.
"Happy Birthday bitch," They chuckled.
Rain felt his heart race and the blood rush to his face. His breath came in shallowly through his nose as he held his mouth in an indignant scowl. Adrenaline pumped through his arms, legs, fingers and toes and spurred him into action; he lunged for the host.
Ermac stopped him in his tracks before he could even take two steps. Rain struggled against his constraints like never before but his efforts came to a halt when the flat of Ermac's palm cracked against the side of his face. He could taste the blood in his mouth from where his lip had split. It wasn't the actual blow that hurt. It was the whole incident itself. His birthday really was today and he'd forgotten. He didn't usually have plans for such an occasion but he hated to spend it here. Being tormented and demeaned. And what was worse was that he couldn't even stand up for himself. Not figuratively or literally, not while he sat in a heap on the floor after Ermac released the bonds.
"I hate you," Rain's voice quivered with emotion, "I fucking HATE YOU!"
The latest emperor rolled their luminescent green eyes at the prince's dramatic proclamations. This was nothing new. As much as the prince raved about it in his head all day. There were so many things Rain hated after all. Ermac had learned to just tune him out most of the time. They reached down and ignored the royal's obvious flinch in favor of jerking him up by the arm so that he was standing once more. Then they dug into one of their pockets and pulled out a rag, which they threw directly at Rain's face.
"Hope you like your present," they quipped, "But now it's time for you to get to work. This palace won't clean itself, you know."
Rain balled the rag up in his fist and seethed. He really did hate Ermac but right now there was nothing he could do to enact any kind of revenge. All he could do was watch the host stride chuckling out of the throne room. He's so smug and confident because he knows I'm trapped here, but not for long. I can't wait until I get that amulet. Then I'll be out of here for sure, the prince thought darkly. He rubbed his hand against his burning face gingerly and winced. Go ahead, laugh now Ermac. But my day will come.
"My day will come," He spoke aloud confidently.
Then he turned and looked around him. Rain sighed. He had a long day ahead, just as he did yesterday and would have tomorrow. Cleaning the entire palace was easier said than done. Might as well get started, he figured. He knew that there was no getting out of the chores. He'd tried weeks ago and had only pain to show for his efforts. Rain gripped the rag even tighter but started to leave the throne room. On his way out, he thought he heard something, a faint hiss. He stopped under the arched doorway and looked around. There was nothing there.
Hm, he shrugged, it must be true then. Being here with Ermac is driving me insane.
Before his master could remark upon his last bit of news Reptile decided to get in a word. He was trembling with hunger and his throat burned for thirst. He hadn't eaten properly in days while he was out garnering information and he needed to sate himself. If not, he feared he might pass out right there in the caverns and that would no doubt displease his master. The master did not tolerate weakness.
So with his hand held up obligingly and his voice as scratchy as a post Reptile said, "Master if I may?"
"What is it?" The figure ground impatiently.
Reptile swallowed but couldn't wet his raw throat. "I need to eat now. It's been so. So very long," He implored.
The master deliberated Reptile's request and the Saurian thought he might double over from the overwhelming need to fill his stomach. But he stood tall and rigid as he waited for the cloaked figure's reply.
"Very well," His master said at last, "The night is yours. But I expect the rest of your report in the morning."
"I understand," Reptile stated as he fell into a bow.
Then he hurried from the caves quickly in search of suitable sustenance.
A/N: That's the prologue, people, hope you liked it. It was mainly setting some things up for the rest of the story so yeah. Please don't forget to please review, thanks in advance and stay tuned for the official first chapter!