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Thorn of the Rose Ch. 3

by Kimberlain O'Driscoll, MBA, M.Ed 7 months ago in Series
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Awakening

Trish’ka tossed in what was a more disturbed sleep than she was already having. As the dead parts of her mind reawakened, distant images and voices began forming into memories. It was all coming back to her.

The horse she was riding tore through the underbrush into a large clearing. Trish’ka could see the far side, but everything was blurry. She wiped her eyes and winced. Her left eye was swollen shut and caked in dry blood. Up in the Anin, An Ager Mohr soldier had struck her squarely in the face with something heavy. Broken jaw and shattered teeth cut deeply into her tongue causing it to continuously bleed. She felt like she needed to vomit…again. The taste of bile was strong, and now there was nothing left to come up. Her stomach and throat burned. Bolts of pain shot through her skull with every impact of her horse’s hooves against the hard packed ground.

Through what little vision she had in her good eye she could make out the dark forms of Ager Mohr riders trying to flank her on the right. Trish’ka didn’t know these woods and feared she was riding into a trap. She fought against another bought of nausea as she raced to the far side of the clearing where the deep woods began. In there she hoped her pursuers would have trouble getting past her and perhaps she’d lose them.

She led Surpass; the horse she was riding through the dark maze of thick oak, white birch trees and scraggly bushes. He wasn’t her horse. He belonged to Commander Taren. Trish’ka didn’t remember how she got him, but she did, and She thought about Brianni. They were together when Trish’ka felt a sharp pain to her skull. When the blackness faded, she was atop Surpass, wearing Commander Taren’s signet ring and instilled with an overwhelming mission to ride south and get help. Commander Mernna was to the south, and that is where she needed to be.

Trish’ka’s legs were a covered in a mix of welts and cuts from low briars and branches that ripped small pieces from her flesh. She reined Surpass around a large oak tree with a slight upgrade on the far side. The ground ahead looked a little more worn and traveled than in other places. She suspected this may have been an old road. Trish’ka spun her mount around and followed it. The Ager Mohr shouting in their odd language weren’t far off. Most were still behind her but the ones to her right were getting closer.

She was starting to pass out again. A rushing air noise began to fill her senses. Trish’ka glanced at the ring on her finger, the one belonging to Commander Taren. She had to make it out of the Anin alive and report to Commander Mernna. She willed herself to remain conscious, but the noise grew louder. She reached the top of a rise and to her horror saw the sudden drop of a deep gorge.

With all the strength she had left, Trish’ka pulled back on the reins. Surpass nearly stumbled as his legs dug in to stop. Trish’ka lurched forward. Had she not been tied to the saddle she’d have gone over his head. She looked before her and saw a deep plunge that ended in massive, jagged rocks littering the river far below. That was the cause of the roaring sound. She’d lost the road. Trish’ka followed the rise hoping to find a way across. She didn’t want to be up against this cliff. Every way out downhill was already guarded and her pursuers will be on her in just moments.

As she rode a short distance more, she saw where the cliff came close to the far side. The remains of a destroyed bridge that once spanned the gorge came into view. The distance across was too much for a horse with rider to jump and Surpass was both exhausted and hurt.

“Ok, Trish’ka, think” she whispered aloud to herself.

A sudden cry let out from just below the rise. It was quickly followed by a horn blast.

“Shit!”

With no time to think, she kicked Surpass into a gallop heading downhill straight at the riders who were coming her way. As the distance closed rapidly the Ager Mohr drew swords. She raced head on in a collision course with the lead rider. She wished she still had her own sword. As they closed within a few dozen yards, she yanked back on the reigns, snapping Surpass around and raced uphill again. She kicked into her horse’s flanks hard urging him faster. The top of the hill was in view, and she could hear the river.

She led Surpass over what used to be the narrow bridge crossing. As she dug her spurs into him, they leapt forward. Horse and rider jumped the span toward the far side. His speed and height were good. They were going to make it...

Surpass landed just short, collided with a rocky outcropping on the far side. A front foreleg snapped with a soul wrenching sound. Surpass let out a violent scream mixed with fear and pain. He tore wildly at the ground; his shattered limb flopping as he tried to get a footing. Trish’ka tried frantically to untie the cord that held her to his saddle. He slipped back and then began to fall. Unable to free herself; she fell with him. They both plummeted into the gorge.

The Ager Mohr were right behind her. As they topped the rise, they were too focused on the prize to see the ground disappear beneath them. The first two didn’t stop and rode at full gallop off the cliff. The remaining riders pulled up and just managed to stay on solid ground. They watched as their companions, Trish’ka and the horses fell to their deaths in the ravine. Men and horses cried out, then after a few eternal moments all went silent except for the sound of the river.

As she sat alone at her makeshift desk in the barn, Ram’L finally let sleep take her. The single candle flickered, faded, and went out. Aristette d’Chenñaye, The Dark, waited in the night. She had a plan. After taking Ram’L, she planned to order the execution of the unconscious Anin survivor. That prisoner knew the truth and once she started to talk, years of careful planning would be wasted. Tonight, two thorns would be snipped in one move.

A guard stood watch near the command post opening. Aristette stepped past her unnoticed, just like always. The form of Captain L’Mar made a dark silhouette in the grayness of her surroundings. Cautiously, Aristette stepped closer, her heart racing. The young captain was very spirited. Spirited ones always left her satiated. She hungered for Ram’L’s suffering and servitude; longed for her futile resistance. Aristette hoped for a fight. Those who fought her were the most delicious. Aristette’s tiny hand reached forward and softly touched Ram’L’s shoulder.

Ram’L awoke wild eyed and stunned. The agony was complete and intense. She grabbed at her shoulder, which burned like fire. The scorching pain spread through her, traveling to every inch of her body. She tried to lift her arms to fight back, but they refused to move other than to flop around uselessly. Ram’l fell to the floor, flailing her limbs, but not able to stop the attack. Aristette sat atop her victim and rolled her head back. Her golden hair brushed against the back of her thighs. She closed her eyes in delicious orgasmic bliss. This merger was truly wonderful. Ram’L met the demon’s expectations, and she wanted to savor it to the last.

Stars suddenly flashed in Aristette’s vision, followed by the sensation of sharp pain to her back and head. She let go the merger, turned, and faced her hidden attacker. It was Trish'ka. The bruised, bleeding, and battered girl stood, wavering a little with a slight imbalance, with a shattered chair still clutched in her good hand. Her swollen, blackened, broken arm was held tight against her chest. Trish’ka’s clothes were stained red where the worst of her wounds were located. The clinking of metal could be heard when she moved. Bloodstained manacles were still attached to her wrists and ankles, which were worn raw almost to the bone. The chains that once held her to the bed were broken. The links showed signs of being twisted until they snapped. Trish’ka’s mouth moved as she tried to say something, but the sounds were still garbled. Fresh blood flowed down her chin. The bone fragments where her skull had been shattered, were sunken and pulsed slightly like how a chest rises and falls when you breathe. Trish’ka’s eyes however, glowed intensely in the darkness like a pair of purple flames.

Aristette spat in fury. The ground hissed and sizzled where her saliva landed. The demon was beginning to understand what Trish’ka truly was and was surprised that she didn’t see this sooner. She pointed an outstretched arm toward Trish'ka and opened her fingers. A foul-smelling black flame shot forth from Aristette toward Trish’ka, incinerating the table with its maps and charts as it raced toward the intended target. The flame seemed to consume rather than produce light. Trish'ka's screams filled the night as the putrid flames engulfed her. The impact pushed Trish’ka backwards, knocking her to the ground next to the barn’s wall. Everything in the area burned.

Aristette turned again to focus on Ram’L, her head no longer throbbed where Trish’ka had hit her with the chair. The damage healed by will. Ram’L still lay on the ground, still convulsing with bubbling froth drooling from her mouth; a reaction of the first short merger. Aristette smiled at her, a longing smile that hinted of innocent childhood. It did not last long, however. The hunger consumed her again and she reached out for the incapacitated captain. She pressed her body deeper inside her victim.

The black flames roared behind her as the wall of the barn where Trish’ka’s body was being consumed burned furiously. The area by the wall emitted an animalistic growl as magic flame does, growing in intensity, feasting, refusing to be ignored. Trish’ka’s screams which had filled the night, finally stopped. Aristette pouted in disappointment that it ended so soon. She loved to listen to the sound of others suffering.

The Dark stared triumphantly down at her quarry. Ram’L had the look of fury rather than fear, but it didn’t matter. She would feed the hunger and before the end, Ram’L would know true agony. They all did. That sergeant major did, and although the old and fat village healer who had known too much showed a surprising level of inner strength, she did as well. They served their purpose, allowing Aristette to wander the town freely these last few days. She held tight to her newest prize. Before death took her, Captain Ram’L L’Mar would also know true pain and fear.

As Aristette focused on her victim, slowly slipping a little further in, a blinding flash of darkened light followed by a loud crack split the air. The impact hit Aristette hard between the shoulders, hurling her through the air. She slammed against the chart rack, taking smoldering maps and candles with her to a rough landing. Ram’L’s helpless body was dragged along like a ragdoll since the two were still connected. Smoke rose from a jagged hole in the stone wall beyond her where the black lightning that struck her was deflected.

Black flames that still burned the barn wall where Trish’ka had been, danced with deliberate form. The fire form took the shape of a woman, and the woman took the form of Trish'ka. She stepped from the inferno as it continued to burn with supernatural heat. Trish’ka was naked, her clothes, now reduced to ash, slid from her bare and unblemished skin. The girl from the Anin stepped from the flames completely unharmed. Her wounds were healed, even the shattered divot in her skull. There was no limp. She moved with elegant grace, quickly closing on Aristette who quickly leapt to her feet and hissed, showing multiple rows of jagged shark-like teeth.

The two stood facing each other. Two predators; two demon bloods poised to strike. Aristette attacked first. With viper-like speed she drew a dagger and leapt upon Trish'ka, dragging Ram’L who was still bound. Aristette and Trish’ka fell to the ground, each locked in a death grip. Aristette was on top trying with all her demonic strength to drive her dagger into the other's flesh. Trish'ka matched her force and was able to hold her back. The blade glistened and dripped dark with venom.

Aristette began to merge into her. Trish'ka knew what was happening and tried to stop it. The pain began slowly and grew. The burning was worse that fire. Her soul cried out... Ram’L, who was still partially merged with Aristette, and now Trish’ka as well, felt her agony. Ram’L’s soul screamed in tormented rage. The link with two demons overwhelmed her senses tainting her very essence. She heard the combined voices of millions of tortured souls spanning countless generations since the beginning of time. She could feel Aristette’s sadistically driven evil and now knew of Trish’ka’s innocence, yet the blood of demonic ancients flowed in them both.

Instinct took hold of Trish’ka. Thousands of years of unspeakable cruelty was now fresh in her memory. Born of her ancestors and awakened by demon magic; she began to give in to what she truly was. Trish'ka's eyes which still glowed bright purple began to transform even more. Her pupils reformed into vertical slits while the whites of her eyes darkened to a violent purplish-black. A hunger awoke withing her that she had never experienced before. She paused a moment, took a deep breath, and... Fangs, long and sharp sprang out from Trish'ka's mouth. She grabbed a fistful of Aristette's soft blonde hair and pulled her head sharply back to expose the soft, smooth, perfumed flesh of Aristette's throat.

Aristette fought her furiously and merged into her deeper, almost blinding Trish'ka. Whatever force that now possessed Trish’ka, longed for the life soul of the demoness Aristette. Her needle-like fangs pierced deeply into Aristette's throat. Trish'ka's jaw locked, firmly holding her prey.

Aristette shook. Terror filled her. She forgot about the merging and beat at Trish'ka with her bare fists. Trish'ka's grip closed tighter. The cartilage in Aristette’s throat made a sickening cracking sound. The poisoned dagger slipped from her hand, landing harmlessly on the ground.

Death throngs continued for what seemed an eternity. Aristette spasmed slightly as she weakly clawed and beat her fists against her captor, while struggling to breathe. Red froth bubbled around Trish'ka's mouth as she feasted on the other. Trish'ka could taste the sweetness of Aristette’s life passing into her, mixed with the foul, bitterness of her evil. It was nightmarish. It was ecstasy. Trish’ka was both horrified and elated at what she was doing.

Aristette's fists still beat at Trish’ka, but not so hard. Finally, her body became heavy and fell limp. Trish’ka held her quarry tight not wanting the ecstatic glow she was now experiencing to end. Her purple cat-like eyes still glowed. Ram’L looked on in terror, not sure if her rescuer planned to turn on her next even though the merged bond told her otherwise.

Trish’ka finally released her grip upon the dead demon’s throat. Aristette's head flopped loosely to the side. Her lifeless eyes stared at emptiness. Heat rose from the open wound of Aristette’s throat, rising into a gentle dark colored mist. Trish’ka fixed her gaze upon Ram’L. The wild expression on her face was filled with rage and power.

With Aristette now dead, the merger that the three had shared was gone. Their bodies separated. Trish’ka, moved quickly toward a now panicking Ram’L. The captain struggled to get away, but she was too weak. She felt the other’s hands slip under her arms and begin dragging her away from the flames. She dragged her out the open door to the safely of the night air.

“Are you alright?”

The question came from Trish’ka’s lips, but also from within Ram’L’s mind, but it wasn’t hers. It was more of a symphony of voices speaking as one, with the strongest being that of Trish’ka.

“I’m going crazy.” Ram’L thought to herself. When she did this Trish’ka jumped, let go of her and made a startled sound. She locked eyes with the captain and looked as confused as Ram’L felt.

“You can hear me?” Ram’L asked in her mind.

“Get out of my head!” Trish’ka demanded. She now looked afraid.

Kujatai and townsfolk could be heard coming their way. The encounter, the merger and the death of The Dark all happened in less time than it seemed. Ram’L knew Trish’ka was innocent, but how would she explain what just happened, when she wasn’t sure herself? It was best to tell everyone that she had killed the demon, and not even mention Trish’ka.

“You have to leave!” She told Trish’ka. She was insistent and repeated it as a thought. No words were needed. She knew what Ram’L’s plan was just as Ram’L was planning it. Trish’ka gazed briefly into Ram’L’s eyes, nodded, and still naked, disappeared into the night.

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About the author

Kimberlain O'Driscoll, MBA, M.Ed

My stories come to me in the form of vivid dreams. The challenge is in putting them to words. I'm medically retired, ride a Harley, and have five ferrets who keep me very entertained.

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