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The Slave

Claudd stares silently at the dark basement. He breathes in the dust, shuddering. He looks down at the scene before him, his chest stinging with pangs of remorse. He turns around, closing his eyes, taking a deep breath, and rubbing his palms up his face and onto his eyelids before returning to his chin. He flips a page in the spellbook. A bottle breaks upstairs, and he flinches, pressing himself to the wall. After a moment, a tiny imp flies down the stairs, apologizing profusely.

A sudden fit of anger possesses Claudd, and he waves a finger. The imp suddenly vanishes in a puff of olive energy.

He takes a deep breath, flipping through the spellbook and turning to look upon the scene once more. Before him is a middle-aged woman’s body. Her wrists are slit, and though she is bleeding she isn’t dead. She is too weak to move, but she is bound with coarse ropes anyway. Blood has been drawn from each wound with a brush and painted in a circle, taking up most of the cellar. Runes have been painted all along the inside and outside of each line—painstakingly made. He looks over the runes one more time, ensuring each one is correctly drawn.

Looking down at her, he shudders once more and tears the mask from his own face, draping it over hers so as not to see her tear-filled eyes. Runes are drawn up her arms, and one large rune on her stomach—placed at the center of this circle. The lines of blood run seamlessly into the wrist wounds, and attach to the stomach rune.

Claudd takes his knife, slicing his own palm and standing over the circle. He begins to chant, syllables twisting under the guide of an inexperienced tongue. He sprinkles his blood over the circle, and then begins to chant, glancing from book to circle in rapid sequence. “Aszhir modas beth’agul. Bela’nora mordanos melar ila-mor no farlos kadar.” With each syllable, the circle seems to fill with a strange form of energy. After a few moments, Claudd points to the woman in the circle, and the runes are set ablaze. The fire spreads to the circle proper, running across the lines into her wrists. She shrieks.

Claudd repeats the words, and the runes on her wrists begin to flicker with an emerald light, after a moment sparking ablaze. The entire circle begins to glow with the same sickly jade flame. Claudd feels the energy flowing back through his connection to the ritual and filling his own blood. He practically feels himself grow dizzy with the flood of dopamine to his brain. He stops chanting at the feeling, and the ritual goes on without him—the magic already enacted, the fel energy had begun to act seemingly on its own will.

The woman in the circle sobs, but she cannot move. Her life force is searing, burning inside of her. Her body begins to crumble, breaking apart into faintly glowing green ashes. The fire burns hotter, the warmth of the flame breaking against the chilled nighttime air, causing the ashes to swirl in a circle of wind. Eldritch whispers fill the room, and Claudd's finds himself unsure if they are in his head or if he can truly hear the niggling whispers, the tiny voices prickling at his consciousness.

The distinct and pretty lines of the circle are no more—the earth breaks apart and crumbles, falling into a pit that was not there before. The floor has become an abyss of felflame. The whispers grow more intense and Claudd shields his eyes from the firelight as he takes a few steps back, pressing himself to the wall. Through his squinted eyes, he sees several giant, slender arms reaching from the portal. With a hissing growl, a large woman wearing a crown of hellfire pulls her torso through the portal. He cannot see her legs, but half of her body barely fits in the cellar. The same voice hisses in multiple languages-- eventually settling on Common.

What foul wretch calls me?

The voice fills his mind, shrill and enticing all at once.

“Uh… I—” Claudd yelps as the demon wails a cry of hate, swinging several sword-bearing arms at him. The blades rebound at the edge of the circle, and Claudd leaps backwards. She strikes again, and he realizes she cannot harm him. He clears his throat, voice trembling, “I am calling you to bind you under my s—” The demon laughs wildly, her voice filling the room, drowning out the spattering of felflame. You shall not bind me, mortal. She lowers her blades, arching her back and bending close as she can to Claudd. She whispers, “I will bind you.

She drops one of her blades, willing it to float near her as she reaches for Claudd. Her arm cannot pass the edge of the circle. He smiles at her, taking an overconfident stride closer. “I will bind you to my service and you will fight against your own—”

She grins suddenly while he speaks—the tip of Claudd’s foot had passed the edge of the circle without him noticing. She laughs suddenly, one of her blades striking the foot, immediately impaling it. Claudd screams as she pulls him into the circle, dropping her other blades and pulling the now bloodied weapon from his foot. They all hover in the air, positioning themselves around Claudd’s throat. “Stupid human.” She grabs him by the throat with another hand, lifting him up and slamming him against the ceiling. She gives him just enough lee-way to breathe and speak, but just enough pressure that he would be aware how easily she could snap his neck.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t end your miserable life right now.”

“I’ll do anything you ask!” He blurt out, immediately and unthinkingly. Her lips curl into a wicked smile.

“Is that a contract?”
“Y-yes. I agree, just don’t kill me!” She smiles sweetly, her face becoming the mask of mercy.

“I will spare you.” She pulls him closer to her, and with one of her blades she cuts her palm. Her other hands force open Claudd’s mouth, and the demon begins to drip blood into his throat. He begins to gag horribly, and the demon forces more of her blood into his maw, giggling softly to herself as she watches him squirm. Eventually he stops gagging, and becomes limp in her arms.

“You are my envoy. You will spread the Holy Word of the Great One, as many have before you.” She glances below her, and she sinks a bit in the portal, forcing Claudd below the earth. "Gaze upon your new family."

He opens his eyes, and he sees hundreds of demons marching across some strange world, siege weapons and fel reavers. It is unclear what the woman is showing him-- if it is a vision, or if it is real. They are standing atop an incredibly large tower of some strange fel steel. His eyes flick towards the horizon, where he sees a storm of fel meteorites falling and slamming into the distance. His lips part, and his jaw hangs open. He closes his eyes tightly, as if he is refusing to see. She yanks him back through the portal, and tosses him from her grip. He lands in the cellar. "It's beautiful, isn't it."

He doesn't respond, and she reaches a hand for him. Her fingers touch the edge of the circle, and a visible greenish wall of force ripples outwards. "You've interrupted my siege. You may as well respond to me." She waves a finger, and he cries out in pain as her blood in his body sizzles. He writhes on the floor for a few moments before she ceases the spell.

His body trembles, fingers shaking, face covered in blood—except for two lines on either side of his face where tears had kept him clean. "Say it with me. Beautiful." His mouth moves, the word barely a whisper,


The demon whispers for a few moments, conjuring something. She laughs to herself, “Enslave me… ahahaha!” A tiny jade crystal sphere floats in her palm, and she mutters enchantments over it.

She glances to the heaving man on the floor, and tosses him a small necklace with a spherical jade crystal at the bottom. He moans softly, pained, clutching himself as his blood pulses-- impossibly warm.

“We will be in touch, fool.”

She folds her arms, her blades sheathing themselves in various places on her armor, and begins to sink through the floor, laughing. The portal closes behind her, leaving only an echo of the malicious voice and Claudd’s breathing to fill the silence.
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