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Acies ab Vesania

Abolition: Chapter 2 (The Circuit)

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Coming too took quite some time, but time was nothing they could measure, so who could say how long they were unconscious and when it was they woke. For Stupple, it was the sounds of dripping water and the way a few of his voices hummed with its steady, mournful rhythm that brought him to his senses, thought he immediately wished had not come back to awareness. He found himself lying on his back, completely naked inside a cage with barely enough room for him to stand on his hands and knees, and only just wide enough for him to turn himself around, as long as he bared the agony of scraping his flesh along rusted bars inside his tight confines.

 

It was dark, but not entirely so, a pale flame burning down a candlewick somewhere in the distance, perhaps fifteen or twenty feet away from where he lay caged like an animal. He had no food or given water, but there was a puddle beside him, where the dripping water collected and stagnated, this perhaps the only water they would give him for now. As his eyes adjusted to this darkness, he realized he was not alone, but between two other cages. The one ahead of him contained some skinny man with tanned skin and hardly any flesh covering his bones, and when he looked hard to the cage at his feet, he could see the outline of Starthos, only just coming back to consciousness himself.  

 

“Starthos!”

 

His voice hurt; his throat dry and parched, the sudden urge to drink upon him with the ferocity of a starving line downing a baby antelope. As disgusting as it seemed, he rolled himself on to his side and cupped the water at his cage’s edge, drinking it down in spite of the alkaline taste and the faint metallic flavor that lingered long after he drank his fill. He just about spoke out to Starthos again, when sudden screams startled him out of that effort, causing him to quiet down and wait out the horrible cries of pain and terror. At first, he wondered if it were those voices he always heard, perhaps things that even he sometimes questioned the reality of, but the way the man ahead of him flinched and then whimpered, he knew it to be true.

 

Where had they come?

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Stripped of all clothing, Starthos groaned as he slowly awoke. One eye was swollen shut, the rest of his body aching from the beating he endured as punishment for their botched attempt at escaping. He could remember little of that time, only that they barely had time to execute their carefully laid out, albeit risky, plan before the guards came and beat them into blackness.

 

Torchlight flickered in the distance, casting a pale glow on the cold, stony floor, water dripping somewhere nearby. There were screams of anguish echoing against the walls of their new prison, coupled with the sounds of cracking whips and cruel laughter. Fear and horror gripped Starthos as he slowly sat up, wincing at the pain in his bones. He had heard of this place from other slaves and slavers, had heard of it spoken of with fear and loathing like some monstrous, mythical beast.

 

Level Eight.

 

“Starthos!”

 

“Stupp,” he croaked. He reached through the bars of his small cage to his friend, finding purchase on the cleric’s thin arm. “We… we have to –“ What? Escape? No. There was no escape now.

 

There were footsteps then, soft and strictly measured. Out from the darkness emerged a tall, lean figure, with black, silver-tipped hair and light hazel eyes. They glimmered happily, almost warmly, but as he neared, the malice in them grew apparent, and the smile on his lips that of a true sadist. One hand held the handle of the thorny Rose Whip nearly all slavers carried, slapping the leather rod against an open palm.  

 

“Well, well,” he said, in a quiet whisper as the scream sin the distance died down to abject sobbing.  “Our little escapees who gave us the most trouble. Not so any longer, eh? Or ever again.” He smiled and tapped his throat. Only then would Starthos and Stupple realize that around their necks were collars, cold and thick, heavy with not only their own weight but an aura that restricted all magic.

 

He stepped forward very close and, placing his hands over the bars of their tiny cages, leaned forward, breathing in the stale air as though it were the most refreshing thing to taste. “Aaaah, we took care of the Aldrak, the other man and the girl, but what to do with you? Hmm?” His hands ran down the whip’s handle. He pushed it through the cage and shoved it underneath Stupple’s chin, forcing the man’s head up. “What do you think, little man?”

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Doom doom doom doom doom...

That constant whispering, a barrage of background noise that somehow drowned out the fading screams and soon to be following sobs coming from elsewhere. Like the sounds coming from everywhere else, it echoed, bouncing off the walls, bouncing off the inside of his skull. Only, unlike the terrified shouts and agonizing screams of pain, he could not ignore this. He could not pretend that the sounds were nothing and that he was in an empty space, alone but for his good friend Starthos, the journalist. No, even with your ears covered and your mind elsewhere, there was no escaping the voices that came from the inside. He could never ignore those.

Death death death death death death…

He might have screamed at them, told them to shut up and to leave him alone, were it not for Starthos answering his call, the familiar voice a comfort to him, even in the darkness of this gods forsaken pit. They say that misery longed for company, and there was truth to it, even if he wished with every fiber of his being that Starthos were not here with him, sharing this misery and the anticipation of what lay beyond the doors opposite their cages. Thinking about it made him sick to his stomach, and knowing that there was no room for him to vomit, Stupple felt determined to contain the sickness, lest he they force him to lie in the filth. With the already lacking comfort and ability to take care of oneself, it seemed like one more thing would prove to be little, but sometimes, it was the little things did you in. At least Starthos still showed signs of fight, his immediate impulse to talk of escape, even if their situation made that into an unachievable dream—it made Stupple feel better knowing that that spark remained within his friend.

Disaster, destruction, dimwit, deluded, dumb, demise…

It seemed his voices were particularly fond of words beginning with “d” today, not that it made any difference, because he knew deep down that they were right, and all they did not was gloat over their predictions. Most of them constantly called for his failure and future suffering, and now it was here. Did they ridicule him this whole time, or did they always know? Was this bragging, or just affirmation of a long since predicted end to an otherwise colorful career in the service of his gods? He did not know, but he hoped that they would at least look after Silena, since he would never make it back to her.

New sounds silenced his voices, carefully measured steps falling softly on the concrete, ushering just the lightest thud, though with the man beyond only sobbing now, Stupple could hear them. The closed in slowly, circling around like a hungry predator closing in on the next kill, certain of his success. Stupple felt his eyes boring into him even before the man came into view, the undeniable evil obvious in that face. Stupple felt it exuding from him, the intent to cause harm, the hunger to inflict pain, that inhuman desire to break down a person and make them into but a fragment of whom they were. This is not a natural state, it is no way for a human being to behave, and he could not understand what drove this one to relish such acts.

Stupple wanted to look away from him, but the man slipped the edge of his whip into the cage and lifted his head up, forcing him to look into those eyes of hate. Stupple’s own dart around, avoiding making contact, refusing to look and see the way they were devoid the light of what made a person something more than a cruel machine. Stupple refused to see this killer and slaver as a person, because he could not see a person doing what this man had done to the other in the room next door, he could not see him as a member of the same heritage when he was so willing to inflict harm on others.

Death die demise death die demise death die demise

The voices sought to force him to hear them over the other man. For once, Stupple did not mind. 

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Vensen Kalerus had been a trainer of the Eight Level for only five years, and already he was esteemed and feared by slavers and slaves alike. His skill for inflicting pain, for sustaining his subjects on the very cusp of death, was renowned and highly envied. He knew this; it could be told in the way he carried himself. There was a dignified pride in his movements, an arrogance in his eyes as he sought Stupple’s own frantic stare, an expectancy that demanded respect at all costs.

 

He was a forgiving man, merciful at times, and so gave Stupple a few moments’ chance to meet his eyes. When the cleric didn’t however, the handle of the whip was removed, replaced by a hand that shot forward and seized the crazed man’s hair and pulled him forward, smacking his face against the bars of the small cage. His arm extended and pulled forward once more, again and again smashing Stupple against the iron bars.

 

“Leave him alone!” Starthos yelled as the other slaves whimpered and covered their ears against the sound.

 

Vensen paid no attention. His light eyes were sparkling with glee and impatience at once as he brought Stupple’s and his face close together, until their breath mingled, one tasting of fear, the other of hot cruelty.

 

“Listen to me,” he whispered, almost kindly. “You belong to me now. You are bought and paid for. You will look at me, and you will learn to love me and know that every moment you are alive is because of me. Now… look at me!” SLAM. The cage shuddered under the impact.

 

Starthos watched in rapt horror as Vensen finally let Stupple go when the cleric finally deigned to look at him. The slaver brought out a set of keys, fingering through them before procuring one bronze piece. This he slipped through a hole in Stupple’s cage. With simple twist, the cage door snapped open.

 

Vensen gave Stupple no time to retaliate, to try to run. His hand seized the scant space between Stupple’s neck and the collar, and with strength belying even Vensen’s lean form he threw Stupple with ruthless force to the ground just outside the cage, sending the cleric sprawling on the cold stone ground.

 

“I heard you were mad,” Vensen announced, the pleasure in is voice never fading. “I did not hear you were stupid. Let us see how well you can learn, my pet.”

 

The barbed whip was raised.

 

SNAP.

 

SNAP.

SNAP.

 

Countless times the barbed whip bit into Stupple’s back, the thorns leaving cruel holes and shallow, painful gashes in the cleric’s bare flesh. Vensen handled the Rose Whip with expert care, leaving no wound that would be fatal or leave lasting harm. He seemed proud of this too, the smile on his face growing with every strike. Once in a while he looked back at Starthos, examining the journalist for signs of horror and concern. He was not disappointed, and kept on the beating till Stupple was close to passing out and Starthos was screaming with rage, tears streaming down his face.

 

Finally it stopped, and Vensen tossed the whip aside. His hands rose up and circled around one another, and between his palms a bright sunsphere lit, the yellow orb rising high to the vaulted ceiling. The man was, apparently, a mage.

 

Hooks and chains hung from the ceiling. Blood stained it, and the floor and walls. Tools of torture littered the floor; there was a table nearby stacked with the same. Surprisignly, the stone making up the room were pale, cream and white in color, as if to show off the blood all the more clearly. Vensen himself was dressed in a pallid, light grey.

 

He left Stupple on the ground as he moved to Starthos’ cage. The journalist cringed back as Vensen approached with a key.

 

“All those names you called me,” he murmured. “How very rude. Your turn.”

 

The cage was opened, the whip was raised again.

 

Minutes later, streaked in blood, both Starthos and Stupple were hung from the ceiling, chains rattling above them as Vensen circled them, thinking thoughts that only men like him ever had.

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Wounded pride often led men with insatiable desire to inflict wounds upon others, so it was with this one, so it was for Stupple. Those eyes, they burned with the light of a dead man hungering for the flesh of the living, the hatred of a rabid and beaten animal that had nothing left but hate and rage. Stupple could not bear to see it, he could no more look into that man’s eyes and hold his gaze then he could stop breathing or put his heart to rest. There are some things a man cannot do, and for Stupple, giving into the gaze of living evil was more than his soul could bear. He knew it would come with a heavy price, but the debt was one he would pay gladly.

Despite the man’s shift in tone and the clicking of gears in his locked cage, Stupple still yelped in surprise as the man’s arm shot in, grabbing him by the hair and tossing him out of the cage. Landing with hard thud, Stupple tries to get back up to his knees, but the man is too fast, far healthier than the half-starved and routinely beaten former cleric of the gods. The crack of the whip is the first sound to top out his voices, the echo through the chambers louder and far more pronounced than any of the screams in his head, the cries of his friend or the whimpering of slaves.

Crack!

Snap!

He felt the bite of the whip even before he heard its call bouncing off the bloodstained walls. The angry ranting of the voices inside his skull turned to wails of terror and pain, their shouts and cries reflecting much greater agony than he himself suffered. The men here had already beaten and whipped him before, and before that, he had taken beatings and broken bones from man and nature alike. Stupple may have a fractured mind, but it was made from the fragments of something stronger than they knew. A mere whipping would not break him; it would not make him give in to those dead eyes.

Those were the eyes of a Dweb.

A second strike. A third. A fourth. The whipping continued, but his flesh began burned steadily and could no longer feed any more information to his brain. Somewhere in the darkness of his confusion and muddled thoughts, he floated on darkness and allowed it to carry him along, only half aware of the beating he took. He pushed back, he tried to rise, but that whip fell harder and faster, more determined than ever to push him back down. Unfortunately, his body’s strength gave long before his resolve, and he collapsed on to the ground not out of giving up, but out of sheer exhaustion. His body could take no more of it, it approached that teetering edge of shock and threatened to jump. Stupple would not have minded, but this man, he knew better than to push him that far.

These slavers did not give men the reprieve of shock and death.

Stupple’s time ended and so then it was with the reporter he went, taking his time with the other man, the other man that did not yet embrace the gift of madness. Lying on the floor, glistening in blood and urine lost without realization, Stupple looked pathetic and weak, yet something within still burned, a piece of himself that would not let go. Even has the man hung him from the chains of the ceiling, Stupple looked at places far away, muttering softly, giggling in between. His mind was receding to its furthest places, drifting away from the torture chamber and the darkness it embodied. Vensen could see it, he could see how the cleric would soon be in places far removed from the pain he endured, pushed to places that even the worst torture could not reach.

“Try to go back on me will you.”

He held the butt of the whip beneath Stupple’s chin once more, trying to force the cleric to look at him, but then deciding something better.

“I might not be able to reach you right now, little one, but I know how to bring you back.”

With the handle of the whip, he pushes Stupple’s face towards Starthos, who hang from the chains, not doing nearly so well as the mad man, with no fractured places within his mind for which he could retreat.

“I heard you tend to the others. You worry about people. Though mad, you are a good friend.”

Vensen grins, revealing glistening teeth that looked wolfish in the limited light. Circling back around the men he stops just behind Starthos, waiting, letting the anticipation build. A second passes, then two, then a dozen, and then more. A full minute, longer, yet nothing happens. Only the sound of creaking chains and faint whimpering from other cages breaks the monotony of hanging there. Then, just as it seems like nothing might happen after all, a both hands whip forth and grab Starthos from behind, ramming the thumbs into the joints of the jaw itself, where the bone connects with the skull. It pushes with force that threatens to dislocate the joint, creating pain ten times worse than that of what the whipping could have caused.

The screaming from his friend is more than enough to jar Stupple away from his slip into madness. The screaming, so agonizing, deep, and mournful, it even silenced his voices.

Stupple screams in return.

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~Rainza~

The creaking of another pair of blood-rusted chains couldn't be heard over the soul-shredding screams of a certain aldrak's fellow escapees. Even in the state the small woman known as Rainza was in, something so painfully piercing drove her back to the world of the conscious.

Her plan had not only failed to bring them to freedom, but it had landed them into the bowels of hell itself. Rainza had confessed to being the brains behind the attempt. That, and her status as an aldrak, had brought far more tender love and care on her head than usual. She had woken before the others already, and this same man that delightfully drove her companions to the precipice of broken spirit had already given her the introductory treatment Starthos and Stupple now experienced.

Her skin was splattered and splotched in a crusted, dark blue substance that was gelatinous to the touch. It was her "blood" left to dry. Already her wounds had healed, but they would not do so again. The aldrak had had no food since they were brought here. She had no access to warmth or significant amounts of light, and she had been unconscious and unable to actively attempt to garner some sustenance for her body's needs. She was becoming entropic; she was starving to death. With barely enough energy to keep her alive, Rainza's body had naught left to mend her flesh.

She dangled feet off the ground, her eyes at Vensen's level. She was suspended aloft by two chains saturated with their previous victim's blood. Each chain ended in a wicked and cruel hook that pierced through her wrists and threatened to dislocate her hands if she moved too much. She opened her eyes to see the room lit, and a repulsive and spirit crushing play being performed before her.

How could humans be so...cruel? It was a question she had been asking all her life. One that had recently lit a fire in her heart. But now, seeing them do to their fellow humans something as morally wrong as what she had seen in this place, the question grew bigger. The bigger it got, the hotter and brighter the flame grew. Righteous fury. Irrevocable hatred. Barely contained rage.

Humans, individuals, the gods themselves, She could decide not which deserved to take the full brunt of her feelings. Regardless, they fueled her cold iron will and steeled her determination to never give in. In the only act of defiance she could possibly muster at the moment, she drilled those eyes with a light they'd yet to contain in this place at the back of Vensen's head.

Perhaps he felt that stare, or maybe he decided he'd gone to the very edge with Starthos' jaw. After all, a broken or dislocated jaw would muffle those delightful cries. Whatever the reason, he let the man go and slowly came about to face the aldrak.

"Back with the rest of us I see. I trust you had...pleasant dreams?" His voice was amiable and soft, yet it managed to carry over the fading echoes of Stupples' screams. He strode to within a few feet of Rainza and palmed his whip as he smiled at her.

"Rainza slept well until you woke her up playing with those pathetic creatures over there. She doesn't understand how you're weak attempts at torture made them cry so much. After all, you bored Rainza to sleep earlier" she lied with confidence. What she had been put through was brief, but it was the worst pain she'd ever endured in her life. This man was truly "talented".

Vensen smiled maliciously as he stepped right into her face. "Brave words from one that whimpered like a child. You may think you held it in, but you are wrong little one." he practically whispered. The man especially loved plying his art on Aldrak. They could take so much more without dying. He had techniques he couldn't use on any other that were sent to his lair without guaranteeing they would die from shock.

"Let us drop the pretenses. We're playing a game; you know it, Rainza knows it. Those humans are weak, not a challenge at all. You want to break Rainza, right? Make her submit, brainwash her, turn her into puddy in your hands? Rainza is the worst opponent you'll ever have." she spoke with as much volume and zeal possible, though it still amounted to little more than her normal voice.

"You can smash my body, you can destroy all I have in this world. But you can't take my heart, you can't take my soul. I will walk a liberated and fulfilled woman. You're just another wall standing in front of me. Do your worst, worm."

She didn't dare pay any attention to or look at her companions. This was not just her defiant nature come to bear or a declaration of war on her antagonist, it was also a ploy for him to give the other two as little of his time as possible. Even if they were unable to find some way of escaping, at least she would spare them something they didn't deserve. She could handle it, even on the verge of death. Rainza would endure, it was all she was good for.

Edited by Avvercus

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Writhing under Vensen’s grip, Starthos screamed as his jaw was twisted and strained. Shaking under the pain, reflexes tried to pull his head away, a futile effort that served only to increase his agony. Vensen was a strong man and held firm, pushing until Starthos’ screams turned into sobs, wordlessly begging for mercy and relief, two things that for a seeming eternity was not forthcoming.

 

Crack.

 

A muffled cry ripped through Starthos’ throat as his jaw was dislocated, only for the joints to be returned to their proper place as Vensen twisted them back together.  It was only then that Vensen released Starthos, smiling as the journalist sagged in his bindings, tears streaming from weeping eyes. Pain coursed through his face, needles of agony stabbing his skull. This was not the worst, however; the worst was the feeling of helplessness, of despair.

 

Vensen gave an encouraging pat to Starthos’s cheek before walking over to Rainza, listening to her spirited speech, never losing his smile or sadistic cheer.

 

“Do your worst, worm.”

 

“Oh no, my dear,” Vensen grinned, his wolfish smile growing into a beam. He brought his face close to hers, his breath floating over the Aldrak’s face, hot and eager. “You are so very wrong. It is not I who will take everything you think you have.” He straightened, giving his Rose Whip a practice snap. The tail screeched against the ground as the thorns scraped the stone floor. Then he turned, and with a commanding voice called, “Bring them in!”

 

From the shadows a door opened, flooding a dense, bleak yellow light into the room. Silhouettes appeared in the opening, and seven men entered the room. They were all sky clad, wearing nothing, but they were not slaves. This was a fact, made apparent in their well-fed, muscled forms and pleased, eager grins. Their bare feet slapped the floor as the door closed behind them, slamming shut with a bang.  Vensen returned his light hazel eyes to Rainza, his smile now akin to that of a devil’s.

 

“Your heart and soul I will take. They will belong to me soon enough just as these pathetic creatures' will,” he said, gesturing to Stupple and Starthos. “As for your virtue and pride… these men will take care of that.”

 

The handle of his whip rose, touching Rainza lightly on the throat. He traced it down her chest, over her sternum, down her belly, ending between her legs before removing itself.

 

Vensen’s smile had vanished. He gestured forward the seven, directing three of them to stand near Rainza. Two others stood behind Stupple while the last two took their stances behind Starthos, who was shaking uncontrollably in fear.

 

“Do what you will, men. I think I’ll just stand here and watch.”

Edited by The Hummingbird

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Seven men, barrel chested and clad in nothing but their tanned, hairy skin. Three stood over Rainza, leering with predatory grins. Four others stood by the men, their smiles no less hungry than their Aldrak faring counterparts. The torturer stood off to the side, hidden in a veil of shadows, the white of his bared teeth shining in the darkness. The creaking of chains and heavy breathing of all seven men hang heavy in the silence of the room, miserable seconds passing without action. They savored their opportunity, taking their time, drawing out the discomfort of their victims.  

One reaches out with an extended finger, pressing against the back of Starthos’ neck, pressing gently, sliding it down and following the curvature of his spine, stopping at the tailbone. He leans in, pressing calloused hands against his exposed ribs, and slides them towards the front of his chest, meeting them at the crest of Starthos’ chest. The man pulls him in, gently embracing him like a lover, he nuzzling his neck, whispering in his ears.

“Hey there, pretty boy.”

The man licks Starthos’ earlobe, tracing his tongue along the edge of his ear.

“I’m going to make you feel like a woman.”

One hand jerks up and grabs Starthos by the hair, ripping his head back, exposing his throat to the other man, who has since moved to his front. The second plants a kiss against his throat sweetly, lips parting with faux tenderness. He too wraps his arms around the hanging man, pressing his naked body against Starthos’, sliding his hands down the small of his back until firmly gripping his buttocks. He presses his lips on Starthos’ other ear, hot breath washing over the side of his face.

“Such a sweet thing.”

His hands pull Starthos apart, and the man from behind comes in.

Meanwhile, two men work in similar fashion with the muttering cleric, both on either side of him, rubbing their hands over his body while whispering in his ears, trying to talk over his senseless mutterings. When Stupple refuses to acknowledge them, one cuffs him across the ear.

“Hear now precious! A pet listens to its master!”

Stupple shakes his head violently, muttering faster, eyes darting about wildly. He tries to move in his chains, but both men hold on, keeping him in place.

“A squirmer, I like em when they squirm.”

The one who speaks licks his lips, grinning fiercely as he eyes his prize. He cups Stupple’s face, and then jams a finger into his mouth, thrusting it about.

“Don’t you dare bite it, or I’ll bite your little dick off, you piece of shit.”

Stupple gags as the man jabs his finger toward the back of his throat, the first man laughing while the other one massages his shoulders. He moves his hands up into his hair, mussing it before sliding down his ears, over his sides and down to his groin.

“I think I found something for me to play with.”

He grabs hold, causing Stupple to scream in humiliation and rage.

Three men stand over Rainza, one with his fingers in her hair, tracing them down her jawline. A second has his hands wrapped around from behind, cupping her breasts while the third kisses her abdomen, slowly, teasingly moving downward. His touch her sides, sliding down with the gentleness of a lover, stopping where her hips begin. He sticks out his tongue, tasting her folds and working his way back up to her naval. He stands back up suddenly, hands moving from her hips to behind, where he too grabs her buttocks, drawing her in as he spreads her apart. Lips to her ears, he whispers sweetly,

“Have you ever been taken at both ends at once, little Aldrak?”

He no sooner finishes his question before he plunges in, taking her the traditional way while his counterpart from hind takes advantage of the first man’s parting hands. The third takes over where the second left off, gripping tightly at her breasts, all three acting in ways that are both gentle and brutal, switching it up as they act like pseudo lovers and in ways fitting the capacity they serve.

All three victims are treated to a variety of abuses, penetrated, molested, forced to consume bodily fluids and wear it on their faces and hair. All the while, the torturer stands back and watches, never moving, save to smile with malevolent glee each time one of them shouts out or emits an involuntary scream. Between the seven, they make the experience last for more than an hour, an hour of agony that felt like forever.

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~Rainza~

 

The fire that burned inside the tiny Aldrak nearly died out seeing what entered the room. Despair filled her just as understanding did. She knew what they were here for, and what they were about to do. This was probably her greatest weakness, and there was no way to run. She was going to have to face this head on, and Rainza didn't think she had it in her. Her mind reeled and she hissed and spit at the 3 approaching her, no longer heeding the pride and dignity she'd built up. That image of insurmountable will crumbled like sand as the first man touched her hair. She screamed, a wail of pure hatred and revulsion. This human was playing with the only treasure she had left in this world. An Aldrak can't grow back their hair naturally, and her natural hair was the only thing she liked about herself. It was well taken care of and the only thing she had to remind her of a life before slavery.

 

She didn't notice the other two touching her body until she felt a wet, slippery sensation between her legs, and realized she'd just been licked. She wanted to crush that man's head between her thighs, but they wouldn't listen to her commands. Rainza couldn't move, both from the pain in her wrists and the exhaustion she was experiencing. She became like an animal, growling and gnashing her teeth at her rapists as she was put through something akin to her most hated memories. When she was owned by weirdos with the most disgusting and disgracing fetishes. This wasn't nearly as bad as some of the ways she'd been sexually abused, but it was bad nonetheless. She hated being sexualized, hated men, and hated being someone's plaything.

 

It was painful having things shoved into her so hastefully, even if her body was used to it, and Rainza's mind began to fade. She wanted to black out and forget what was being done to her, forget the constant sensations her body sent her. The hour was long and grueling, and left her silent and crestfallen. Where was that boastful, self assured girl, so defiant and headstrong? She hung, the hooks piercing her flesh and holding her aloft nowhere near the most painful thing banging on the walls of her mind.

 

I...what am I doing here? I was sure I could endure anything, go through any ordeal. This was nothing compared to my past, and yet...

 

She swayed slightly, her rusted chains creaking eerily. Rainza's head was bowed and her eyes stared at the floor, splattered in her blood. She didn't want to see the victorious face that her torturer must have right now. He had won, the Aldrak was broken. At these thoughts, her eyes watered up, and a tear was about to fall...

 

Rainza's bloodied brow bent, temples bulging, eye lids closed and taunt, jaw set, teeth clenched, fists balled, a rumbled rattled in her chest. A tear? Her, cry? Rainza had sworn never to weep again, and to bring the gods themselves to their knees. There was no way some arrogant prick that got off on others pain was going to stop her! Her head raised and she glared into Vensen's eyes.

 

"Is that it? Something like this...won't break me. Try again..."

 

The will and the spirit were there, but Rainza's body was truly at it's limit. She barely had the energy to speak. She needed food, she needed an energy source. She might even die within the day if things didn't change. They needed to make Vensen make some sort of mistake, or she at the very least wasn't going to leave this room alive.

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When he was seven, they came for him.

 

There were five of them, perhaps six. Maybe more. He could not remember. They came from the darkness, from the shadows, creeping into the home that had kept him safe for those seven sacred years. Cloaked in silence they broke the locks on the doors, cut through the windows and slipped inside, laughing soundlessly.

 

The Things Outside.

 

He never saw them slay his father. He was already there, on the floor, covered in blood. His infant sister was too, her head crushed against the wall, her blue eyes wide open and her mouth gaping wide in a silenced wail. His mother was still alive, though. Held against the floor as they raped her, fondling her breasts, chuckling at her helplessness as she writhed beneath their bodies.

 

He remembered her head turning, twisting, her frantic, agonized eyes finally falling on him. Her lips mouthed the words – run! – and that was what doomed him. They turned, seeing him. With a quick jerk of their hands they broke his mother’s neck. Leaving her dead, they made haste for him, and grabbed him by the collar.

 

The Things Outside.

 

Taking turns, they raped him, mocking him, defiling his body and mind and soul. They would leave him alive, silent for one whole year before he was able to speak again, though the nightmares would be long, long until they left him.

 

He thought he had killed them.

 

He thought they were dead.

 

Now, he knew, they were alive. They had never left.

 

He screamed as The Things Outside entered him again and again, their foul hands leaving no part of him untouched. Inside and out they ravaged him just as they had done years ago. He screamed for help, for Shade, for Stupple, even for Rainza. But none of them came. And in one tortured corner of his mind, he knew they were suffering the same fate as he.

 

He’d been released from his chains. He was on the ground now, a man grunting between his legs, hips thrusting up and down, back and forth. Two more waited their turn, though several rounds had already passed.

 

The Things Outside.

 

“Please… stop…”

 

The Things Outside!

 

~

 

Vensen laughed as Starthos begged for mercy, as Stupple screamed in humiliation and rage, and laughed again as Rainza challenged him for more. He stepped forward, sauntering to her, and ran a hand lovingly down her bruised and bloodstained face.

 

“Tough, aren’t you? Good. I like it that way.”

 

His hand traced up her cheek and grasped her hair. He jerked her head back, exposing her throat and the pulse that beat underneath the skin. The handle of his Rose Whip ran up and down her skin as her rapists came in for another round as Vensen touched the handle of the whip to the tips of her bared breasts.

 

“I’m thinking. Of cutting these off. What do you think, little Aldrak?”

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One of the men, standing naked and barefoot with glistening skin and white teeth bared upon a most hideous smile, wrings his hands together in see the reaction of Rainza as for a second time, someone touches her hair. All too familiar with the methods used in dehumanizing and breaking individuals, he chimes in to Vensen eagerly, hoping his suggestion will prove enticing to the master.

 

“I want to shave their heads and give them new names. May I? I will shave them bald from head to toe and give them names properly befitting their new status. I will call that one Blue Cunt, because that is all she is worth. The muttering fool shall be whimpers, because those are the best sounds he makes. The last, oh the last was most sweet to me, so he shall be sweetness, a treat to be enjoyed each night after taking sup.” He looks at Starthos and licks his lips, slowly rolling his tongue around his mouth, humming to himself.

 

Stupple continues hanging like the rest, muttering to himself with rapid fervor that has not stopped since the men quit using him. His whispering gradually rises in volume, soon becoming audible but indistinguishable mutters and broken words amounting to nothing meaningful. One of the men look over to the disturbed priest and shout,

“Shut up you crazy ass fool!”

 

Stupple, however, continues, getting louder still. The same man raises a hand and threatens to slap him, but Stupple acts as though he never heard the man. Unsure of whether or not Vensen would allow him to carry out such an act, he hesitates, holding his hand up awkwardly, doing nothing in response. While he stands there, Stupple looks up at him, his eyes burning with light and his face contorted in horror and rage. As loud as he can, he shouts,

“DEATH BE TO YOU AS DEATH BE TO ME! NO MAN SHALL PASS THE MIDST OF A HANGING TREE, FOR HE WHO DABBLES BLACK IS THE WOUNDED PREY OF LIFE’S NAUGHT! I SEE THE FIRE OF FOREVER BURNING IN THE SKULLS OF RETRIBUTION!”

 

The other man, slightly taken aback and now angry, charges forward and screams,

“I said shut up you filthy animal!”

 

He backhands Stupple, hard, hard enough so blood flies from the side of his mouth. Stupple stops for just long enough to slowly turn his head and face the torturer, giving him a haunted glare couple with intense hatred. Sternly and with great resolve, he says,

 

“The gods shall rain retribution upon you with weight of your sins one hundred fold. That which waits for you makes your vileness simple child’s play!”

 

The man punches Stupple square in the nose, the cartilage crumpling and blood spraying in all directions as Stupple’s body flies back and swings forward, his hanging down, the cleric temporarily rendered unconscious. He pulls back his fist again, but this time, Vensen raises his hand and says,

“Enough. Do not break him too early, or else the fun will end too soon. Get your razors, I like your way of thinking. Hence forth, they shall be addressed by their new names, and they shall be hairless wisps who will eventually learn their place.”

 

The other man drops his fist, and upon being given consent, smiles broadly and practically skips out of the room, heading off to gather his razors. 

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~Rainza~

 

The young Aldrak didn't want to see what was happening to the other two, but she didn't look away. Her calm composer endured...until her hair was yanked. Her pupils contracted to pinpoints at the mention of cutting it off. Her breasts she couldn't care less about, since they were barely there in the first place, and they would heal back. The hair, however, that was different. She didn't scream or act out, but let her rage fester and simmer inside. She put these emotions into focus, and drew all resources from her mind. What were her options? She scanned her surroundings, considered what she knew of their captors, and tried to find an energy source again.

 

She found one.

 

With so many human bodies in this relatively small space, and all the...activity that had been going on, there was now a feast of ambient energy for her to intake. It surged through her as she focused all of her being on regaining her strength, while replying to Vensen as not to appear suspicious.

 

"You can have them...Rainza has never cared for her childish body. Shall we play a game? If Rainza doesn't react to you cutting them off in any way, you leave us for today and allow us to keep our hair. If Rainza loses, she will tell you all of our weaknesses...the best way to break each of us down."

 

She doubted the man would agree to this, since there was no reason for him to accept. But, with his personality, there was a chance he might. While there were a variety of tools and blades near Rainza, none were in reach...except for the hooks embedded in her flesh. She'd noticed they were on a pulley, and if the weight was lessened on one, the other would lower. This was probably to stop her from grasping one and yanking an arm free. It was now or never, she'd decided. If they stayed here any longer, Starthos and Stupple would be broken beyond fixing. They might be already.

 

Vensen was still prodding her nipples with his whip, but turned and raised a hand to stop one of his cattle from breaking too quickly. This one moment, this single lapse in Vensen's attention was what the Aldrak needed. She braced herself for pain and ripped the hook on her left wrist out sideways, taking a chunk of her arm with it. The chain clinked noisily as it slipped through the pulley and Rainza's feet hit the ground. Instantly, before another link in the chain moved, she whipped her right wrist up towards Vensen's jaw, aiming to lodge the hook still lodged in her through his chin to the roof of his mouth. This wouldn't kill him, but it would likely immobilize him from the pain, and give Rainza control of him. She would then yank his head towards her chest while snatching a knife from a table that was now within arms reach and put it to his throat using the 3 fingers that would still move on her left hand, demanding the men still in the room free her companions and remove their collars. If her intentions followed through, she would order the men to turn their backs and put their hands against the wall, and leave the room dragging Vensen along as a guide, locking them in. The one that had gone to get his razors would be an issue later, but it couldn't be helped.

 

Of course, this was all just a short term plan running through Rainza's head as the hook in her wrist was thrust towards Vensen. Whether it followed through or not would determine whether she lived to see another day or not.

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“What’s your name, boy?”

 

The woman was tall, gorgeous, beautiful in the way that all ugly things were beautiful. Long, wavy auburn hair cascaded down her shoulders and back in a shimmering fall of coppery hues. Her face was perfectly sculpted, never having seen a day of abuse, pale and yet warm to the touch. She smiled, but this smile never touched her eyes, eyes that were a sparkling hazel, flecked with gold and shining with a devious hunger that made her new slave cold to his bones.

 

She lifted her Rose Whip when he didn’t answer, pressed the butt of the whip to his chin, tilting his head so that he was forced to look at her, to stare wide-eyed at those haunting hazel eyes. She repeated her question in a whisper, and he finally answered. “V-Vensen. Vensen Kalerus.”

 

“Ahhh.” The woman sighed. “I like that name. It’s the perfect name for my successor. Rathraeo thinks his blue-eyed boy will be the best, but he’s wrong. No, I think it shall be you. Blue Eyes is learning hate and pain. You I will teach how to feel nothing. Indifference is key. I will show everyone my technique works best.”

 

She raised her whip and brought it down.

 

 

That was how it began. Vensen grew under the woman’s unfeeling tutelage, adopting her emotionless attitude, her cold demeanor, her sadistic nature. He grew to first feel nothing for his victims, then to cease to look at them as victims at all. They were subjects, built for experimentation, born and bred for his enjoyment alone. They existed for no other purpose than for him to practice the art of breaking another living thing. And they deserved it. If they were weak enough to be captured and brought to the Slaver’s Enclave, he reasoned, then they didn’t deserve anything less.

 

Vensen didn’t know how to read or write. He learned how to count as high as nineteen for the sole purpose of keeping track of his slaves. He had never seen true daylight, never learned such things as literature, theater, history, or art. What good were those things? This was his life. The Enclave was all that existed, all that mattered to him.

 

He learned instead the skills of observation, of utter control, of emotional isolation, of endurance.

 

He wasn’t the weak, distracted man Rainza thought he was.

 

No, he was worse. He saw her movement, heard the creak of chains in his sharp perception, and was ready for every bit of Rainza’s foolish, foolish plan.

 

Her feet hit the ground and he spun around, his head flinging back and an angle even as the hook came charging at his face. It struck, tearing through his face, running up alongside his jaw and through his cheek, sliding around his eye. Blood streamed down his face as he screamed, clapping a hand over the wound, feeling the warm wetness of his blood that he came to know so well over the course of seven years.

 

But that was all.

 

He didn’t hesitate. His foot swept out, smacking into the back of Rainza’s ankles, knocking her to the ground. The remaining rapists in the room stopped, watching, two of them leaping on the Aldrak, holding her in place as Vensen slammed a knee into her stomach as he knelt over her. He leaned down, his breath heaving and heavy, his blood dripping on her.

 

“She always said…” he gasped harshly, “blood for blood. I accept your bet, you filthy Aldrak.”

 

He tossed away his whip. It clattered on the ground, the spikes squeaking on the rough stone floor. In its place a man gave Vensen a knife, a simple weapon with a full tang and long, serrated blade that ahd only recently bitten into Stupple’s flesh. Never mind, it would do.

 

Without emotion, without feeling, without mercy, Vensen grabbed hold of one breast, pulling it up, sliding the knife under it and pushing upward, drawing the blade back and forth, back and forth.

Edited by The Hummingbird

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The pitter-patter of bare feet slapping against cold stone echoed from down the hall, announcing the return of the errand boy sent to gather the razors. The echoes mix and drown amidst the sounds of Stupple’s screaming, screaming for Vensen stop his cruelty towards the Aldrak. Of course, his shouts were in vain, no more useful than when he shouts at the voices only he can hear. He might as well be talking to himself once again, screaming for only its own sake, his voice echoing from the walls but falling upon deaf ears. Vensen did not care, his assistants did not care, Starthos was probably too far gone to notice and Rainza had enough to deal with besides listening to a madman rave and scream.

 

Stupple quieted after one of the brutes punched him square in the jaw, snapping his head towards the opposite side, blood flying from his mouth. He felt loose teeth, though none of them came out. He saw stars, spinning and dancing like fireflies illuminating a terribly dark night, their light fading as the seconds wore on. When Stupple finally blinked away the last of them, he forced his head back up, fighting against the way his thoughts swam and the room spun, temporarily creating two Vensens and two Rainzas. True horror set in when his vision begin to settle, seeing what Vensen was doing to her… it was too much for Stupple to sit through.

 

“NO. NO. No. No. no. no. no…”

 

Stupple shakes his head sadly, his protests quieting as the futility of his actions came unconditionally clear to him. Even as one of the men grabbed him by the hair and began cutting away, he simply watched in horror and disgust, eyes filled with tears. It was worse watching truly horrible things being done to friends than it was to endure them himself. He wanted to drift into the back of his mind, burying himself in the darkness always lurking, a place where he can go to forget about life. He wanted so badly to drift into that place, to forget about being a hero or doing the right thing, of being a priest and a healer. No, he could just slip away, slip away into the ether and let darkness sweep over him.

 

Stop!

 

Stupple pulled at the curtain of darkness, reaching for it, clawing for it, desperately seeking its comfort, only to hear the shrill cry of one of his Feezes, shouting at him from somewhere in the void.

 

Stay.

 

Why—why were the voices telling him to stay, when the cold comfort of the void stood so close, just within reach? Why should he stay to suffer and watch the suffering of others, when there was nothing he could do about it?

 

Soon.

 

That voice, haunting and sweet, so rarely heard amongst the drowning voices of many others. It took this moment of silence to speak to him, urging him to give up on his grip of bleak emptiness and to remain in the moment. Stupple’s grip softened, and soon he felt it leaking through his unclenched fingers, dripping with the blood running down his arms and falling from his fingertips. He had to hold on just a little longer. Just a little longer.

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The string bit into her flesh roughly, but her toughened skin weathered it just fine. The bow was awkwardly drawn, the friction between horse hair and catgut creating a haunting sound that vibrated the girl's very core. Could something so eerie and piercing really be beautiful? Such a sharp sound, but one that intrigued an individual who otherwise had ceased to care for anything else in this world. Rainza was ordered to learn to play the violin for her master's amusement, but it was the first and only time she was eager to obey.

The memory was a pleasant one, of an eye to the storm that is slavery. The sound of flesh being severed cut through the nostalgia pulled the Aldrak from her reminiscence and Rainza grasped at another to escape reality again.

Her hands glowed and shook with power. So this was the true potential of an Aldrak without a collar. With this, grasping the world itself felt possible. Yes, this tiny, shivering little girl that was crying in the rain but a few hours ago was confident she would one day face the world and win. Confidence itself was a fresh sensation, but power not only over oneself, but others...now that was something a former slave could get drunk on.

She felt the first time she built energy up in her palms. That feeling that she could do anything. Ah, how intoxicating! A welcome release from the constant feeling of oppression. She glanced down, and saw what had been done.

Rainza had been forced to gasp as the air escaped her lungs. Vensen's knife didn't cut though all that smoothly. The viscosity of Rainza's blood did not make for an easy passage. Slowly, the skin was separated and a glowing dark blue liquid oozed out and started to stain her skin. A sweet smell permeated the air, mixing with the rustic scent of blood and salty sweat. It was enough to induce vomit from any not already accustomed to such a flavor. As her flesh was completely removed, one could clearly see her muscle and fat as her chest heaved and she resisted writhing in pain and rejection of this cruel deed. Rainza stared Vensen in the eyes, having not made a peep or changed her facial expression one bit. She endured the sharp slicing and the mental rejection of the reality playing out before her eyes. It was not the first time she'd experienced something like this, and she was ready for it. But now, every breath hurt, as the edges of her wound stretched with her chest's movements. she felt a tingle as the exposed blood began to transfigure into flesh to replace that which was lost, though it would take hours to do so.

"You lose. You better keep up your end of the bargain you filthy human. I told you, I'm going to be the biggest challenge you will ever face."

The voice was forcibly calm, and suffered from a minor shudder. She cringed on the inside from the sting of the air hitting her exposed muscle tissue and the sight of her nipple no longer attached to her body. If there were truly gods in this world, how could they watch something like this and not interfere? She hoped they didn't, because if they did...no...no, she wanted them to exist. Someone had to pay for this injustice, someone more important and influential than Vensen. She'd find these gods and make them pay, oh that she would.

Edited by Avvercus

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