published September 17, 2019
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Summoned into a world of fantasy and magic to serve as the world’s hero against the encroaching forces of darkness, Soren Stark stands on the precipice of the final battle against Ulthric, the Dark Lord who threatens the land.
A/N: This story is my first foray into the Isekai genre… What can I say, I got a little bit carried away. It’s a little bit of a long one, and something of a slow burn, but I hope you enjoy it nevertheless.
Gravel crunched under Soren’s greaves as he let his gaze wander up the face of Velyn’s Crag. The steep cliff loomed over him like an impervious wall of darkness, its jagged black rocks seemingly challenging him to make the climb at his own peril.
At the foot of the impassive precipice, it was strangely silent. The rest of the world seemed so far away. The almighty roar of battle, of pennant flags snapping in the wind, of steel clashing against steel, of flaming boulders flung from trebuchets crashing in showers of dirt to the screams of men, seemed almost quiet as it echoed along the cliff face.
Standing below Velyn’s Crag, tapping his foot in anticipation of the signal that he was hoping would come soon, Soren missed the fever-pitch of battle. He had always been ill-suited to espionage. His skill-set simply didn’t match.
Soren would have preferred the fever-pitch of battle to the silence and the apprehension, which he never would have thought possible given how much worse he’d been at fighting than skullduggery, in the beginning. The limit of his knowledge about the sword was “stick them with the pointy end,” and even the most novice of squires under his master’s tutelage could outdo his blundering on the practice grounds.
Lowering his hand to his waist, Soren wrapped his fingers around the hilt of Blightsbane. The black stone of its grip flushed with warmth at his touch. The opalescent stone set into the cross-guard glowed softly, a reminder that the spirit of his friend and companion of six years still dwelled within the cursed weapon.
Despite the centuries-old frescoes that depicted his face, and the prophecies written in books thousands of times his age that spoke of his life before being summoned to this world, Soren had doubted that he was the warrior destined to end the vicious reign of the Dark Lord Ulthric. After all, in his old life, he’d been little more than a geek, and his skills had reflected that.
However, despite all odds, Soren had gotten better at the art of war. Just as the sages had foretold. Just as the king reassured him. After he got past his mental blocks, once he stopped thinking of himself as Soren, the loser twerp who’d been bullied through high school and started thinking of himself as Soren, the destined warrior, fighting became almost second-nature.
There had been hurdles along the way. Soren’s first battle, five years since, seemed so long ago, now. It hadn’t even been against the forces of Kalltur, Ulthric’s stronghold in the south, but rather against the army of an expansionist empire looking to annex the kingdom that had summoned him.
Soren had thought that he was prepared, then. His mind had been filled with the scenes of pitched combat he’d seen in movies. He had quickly realized how unprepared he was, but he had been too late to pull himself from the life-or-death situation he’d found himself in.
Soren was bent over the waist, his hands on his knees as he heaved onto the ground. The morning’s breakfast was in a half-digested splatter on the grass between his feet. A mere three paces away, the body of the first man that had died as a direct result of his actions.
It had been entirely accidental. Soren hadn’t expected the sheer brutality as the two lines met in battle. He had frozen up, his mind struggling to string together his fragmented thoughts until a soldier wearing the enemy colors charged at him.
In that moment, threatened with death unless he did something, Soren had acted. His body had moved more out of instinct than any conscious thought. He had raised and swung his sword, the blade glancing off the man’s armor but with enough force to knock him into the path of another man’s sword.
The man had died instantly. His body had twitched once on the ground, and Soren had vomited soon after.
A ring of men stood around Soren, protecting him as he recovered. He had never imagined how foul a real battlefield would smell like. The noxious odor alone had been nearly as overwhelming as all the death happening around him.
As soldiers fell, they would piss and shit themselves, and the smell would mix with the metallic tang of blood, and the musk of soldiers sweating in their armor as they fought under the merciless glare of the sun.
Fortunately, Soren didn’t have long to ponder the smell of the battlefield. He soon became too busy to give even the slightest of a damn. The fighting had intensified while he was upchucking all the contents of his stomach, and he had to get his shit together if he wanted to live.
Despite the horrors that he witness around him over the course of the next few hours, Soren found that the battle had a certain rhythm to it. Each side pushed and pulled on the other in a bloody dance that occasionally broke into chaos.
It was easy to slip into the mindless push and pull. Soren let himself sink into the rhythm, fighting less to show his worth to the people who had summoned him, who looked to him to save them, and more just swinging his sword to survive to the end of the day.
The officers on Soren’s side began to fall one by one to the enemy. Soren’s comrades were pushed back. The lines began to falter. More and more, the soldiers standing alongside him looked more and more to him for leadership, and at first he withered at their expectation because he knew nothing of leadership.
And yet, when it came down to the wire, Soren refused to break. As the last officer went down and the men looked on the verge of a rout, he refused to let things end in defeat. As his conviction built, Soren heard a quiet ping. He pulled up the HUD that he still didn’t fully understand, and saw that he had unlocked something called a Command Mysterium.
Soren took a deep breath. Knowledge of what to do flooded into his mind. He raised his sword as the sun set on the blood-slicked grass of the plains outside of Ixenberl and let out a mighty warcry that thundered across the battlefield.
For a moment, the fighting stopped as every man was bathed in the full force of Soren’s Anthem of Valor. A heartbeat later, the fighting resumed. Soren’s allies fought boldly and with seemingly-renewed energy. As his forces rallied behind him, Soren ended the day by repelling the empire’s forces.
A simple four-note trill that cut through the silence at the foot of Velyn’s Crag distracted Soren from his reminiscence. A simple rope ladder unfurled from the top of the cliff face, falling with a thump against the rock once it reached its full length. There was no sign of Kael, the infiltrator that they had entrusted with penetrating the castle’s defenses, but Soren simply had to trust that he had managed to succeed in his mission.
Soren thumbed at the pommel of Blightsbane as he walked up to the base of the cliff. He took a deep breath and called upon his Enhancement Mysterium: Monkey’s Agility. He reached up and grabbed onto the rungs of the ladder, using them to scale the cliff-face with ease.
A few drops of sweat were all that clung to Soren’s brow as he reached the top of the precipice. He clung to the rope ladder and called upon Bull’s Strength to get him over the ledge and back onto solid ground.
The end of the rope ladder was wound around a steel spike driven deep into the stone. The enchanted sledgehammer used to accomplish the deed was lying nearby, the steel head having cracked into two pieces. Standing a few paces away, with his back to the cliff-edge, was Kael, keeping an eye out for any unwanted attention.
Kael briefly glanced over his shoulder as Soren dusted himself off and rose to his feet. “Just you, Soren?” he said, a quaver in his voice.
“So it seems,” said Soren. He walked up to stand beside Kael, and set his sights on the Black Castle of Ydnir. It almost looked like a scar in the earth, a black mass that rose in jagged spires and brutal buttresses from a barren rocky outcrop.
“The others?” Kael murmured. There was a note of hope in his voice, as if Soren’s being alone wasn’t some portent of things having gone so horribly wrong. For a moment, Soren was silent, and Kael indulged him. But it wasn’t long before the question was repeated, this time more forcefully. “Soren. The others. Are they well?”
Soren couldn’t answer that question. Not without lying. “They are alive,” he said. The silver ring around his finger, which bore the insignia of his party, let him know as much. “Which is better than nothing, all things considered. We were discovered while we were peeling away from the battle, and they had to cover for me.”
Kael choked back a sob. He knew as well as Soren what that meant. He had gone into the castle without his ring. He had also gone without the mental tether that connected them all together in case of emergencies.
“The last thing that I heard from them before the Mind Tether was cut was that Alder had been taken by the enemy,” said Soren. Alder had been the party’s arcanist. That the tether had broken while Alder was alive had implications that Soren struggled to swallow—implications that he could not afford to acknowledge at the moment.
“Go,” said Soren. He didn’t want to sound so cold, but it was the only way he could bear the hammering of his heart as his gaze wandered over the grim edifice of Ydnir. “They could use your help.”
“No,” said Kael. He wiped the tears from the corners of his eyes. He looked defiantly at Soren. “We swore that we would face him with you, Soren. I intend to make good on that promise, even if the others might not be able to.”
Soren shook his head. He placed a hand on Kael’ shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly. “This is my destiny,” he said. “You guys called me here for one reason: to end the reign of Ulthric. I have to face him. You don’t have to throw away your life for me. Go. Help them. Save them. If I don’t come back, this world will need you guys to watch over it.”
The whole world seemed to slow as Soren took a single deep breath. The HUD flashed in front of his eyes, and he felt the pull of strength leaving him as he called upon his Command Mysterium: Compel Obedience. “Go. That’s an order,” he said.
“Soren, I won’t ab…” Kael trailed off as he felt the effect of Soren’s Command Mysterium take hold of him. “You son of a bitch, Soren,” Kael growled. “Take it back. I’m begging you, Soren. Take it back! I know you can! You’re making a mistake going in there alone!”
“I’m sorry,” said Soren. He’d read the prophecies. The real ones. The ones that didn’t say he would return home in a shower of glory, to the cheers and adulation of the world that he’d saved. He knew them by heart.
Soren would cross swords with the Dark Lord Ulthric. The fight would be intense. It would leave him feeling raw and vulnerable as he and the Dark Lord dueled in that most primal, savage way, fighting tooth and nail for survival. The prophecies spoke of the battle lasting for hours, from the setting of the sun in the west, unto its rising in the east on a new day.
The prophecies also said that Soren would not emerge victorious. All his preparation, all his power, all his skill, it would come down to a single moment. Only by his own sacrifice, with his blood, did the prophecies say he could end the Dark Lord’s reign.
Soren looked ruefully at Kael and said, again, “I’m sorry… This is a mistake that I can’t let anyone else make with me.” The way he figured the prophecies went, he would have to let Ulthric deliver a mortal blow to him. At the end of the long battle, the Dark Lord would let his guard down after dealing a killing blow. It was that single moment that Soren had been preparing for. All his skill. All his strength. All his power.
As Soren accepted his fate, he heard a quiet ping. The mystical HUD flashed in front of his eyes. He had unlocked another Mysterium. It was the only one in its class, the only Fate Mysterium he had in his arsenal: Final Act.
Kael was kneeling at the edge of the cliff, now. He was looking at Soren with wide eyes. Soren looked down at himself and realized that he was glowing. His skin had taken on an ethereal appearance, smoothed over his scars, made him look like an angel. “Go,” Soren repeated, pouring all the authority that he could into his voice. “Save them. Protect this world in my stead,” he said.
“You son of a bitch, Soren,” said Kael, fighting back tears as he descended the rope ladder. “You knew this was going to happen all along, didn’t you? Why didn’t you fucking tell us?! You better survive or I’ll come and kill you myself!” Kael called out, his voice drowned out more and more by the wind that swept past the top of Velyn’s Crag.
Soren licked his lips. The taste of jism lingered on his tongue. He loved it—savored it. As a scrawny geek, he hadn’t had much in the way of prospects in his old life, as much as he had wanted to have sex before he graduated college.
In this new world, with his new body, it was easier for Soren to be confident in himself. He had muscles in places he had never thought he would be able to have muscles. He was strong. Handsome. His ideal self in every way. After his first time with Alder, he had realized just how much he needed to catch up on.
A gentle tap on his cheek distracted Soren from his thoughts. He looked up at Kael from between the rogue’s legs, still mouthing at Kael’s spent cock. “If you want more, Soren, you’re going to have to start paying attention,” said Kael.
Soren grunted. He didn’t like the sound of that. Kael always found a way to turn their fun times into lesson times. “don’t complain. You know the rules. You don’t get cock until I’m satisfied with your progress. I get that you’re not the best at the stuff that I do, but you can’t just burst into Ydnir wielding your sword and expect to survive to get to Ulthric’s throne room.”
“Ugh,” said Soren, reluctantly letting go of Kael’s cock as he sat back on his feet. “Fine,” he said. “What am I supposed to learn this time?” he said.
“One of the most important parts of infiltration,” said Kael, reaching over to a nearby table to retrieve a scroll. “how to mark and read the markings on passageways. If you can repeat back to me what each mark is and what it means, I’ll do more than let you suck me off. I’ll fuck you. What do you think?”
Soren grinned. He was definitely glad it wasn’t a hand-to-hand combat lesson. Those sucked. Memorization, he could do. There was a reason he could remember the names and secret identities of all the characters in Nakamura Hiroshi’s Hall of Heroes. This was going to be a piece of cake.
A small smile danced on Soren’s lips as he rubbed his thumb over the small chalk marking next to the hidden passageway at the base of Ydnir that Kael had found. It was one of his fonder memories with Kael. His only regret was that they hadn’t had enough time for one last quickie.
Soren ducked into the cramped passageway after making sure that Kael’s mark had been smudged out of recognition. There was hardly any light in the tight corridor, but his Enhancement Mysterium: Owl’s Sight helped him navigate twists and turns.
It was only good fortune, Soren supposed, that the hidden passage Kael found had nothing to do with the castle’s plumbing. Soren didn’t really want to die, but as it seemed he had no other choice, he at least wanted to do so with dignity. The last thing he wanted was for his corpse to be found covered with shit once the forces of good prevailed at the end just because he’d crawled through the drainage.
As he was significantly broader than Kael, progress through the passageway was slow, but Soren managed. He tried his best to be quiet, but stealth had never been his strong suit.
It wasn’t long before Soren emerged on the other side in what appeared to be the castle’s kennels. The trainers weren’t present, nor were there any hounds, having likely joined their masters on the battlefield. He quickly peeked past the entrance to the kennels to survey his surroundings.
The passageway had taken Soren all the way to the innermost ward of Ydnir. The stables were nearby, similarly empty to the kennels, but of particular note was the keep which loomed above the courtyard just across from him. He could potentially just walk through the courtyard, but he didn’t like how exposed that would make him. He didn’t want to be spotted just yet.
The decision was easy to make, though the task was not quite as simple. Soren slowly, carefully made his way around the courtyard, clinging to the buildings as much as possible, and sprinting from one to the next whenever he was fairly sure no one was watching.
It wasn’t until he reached the heavy wooden doors of the keep that he met his first resistance. One of the doors opened just as he was about to push on the other.
For a moment, the soldier wearing Ulthric’s colors stared at Soren, and Soren stared at the soldier. Soren reacted faster, though, unsheathing his weapon and calling on his Combat Mysterium: Lightning Slash to quickly decapitate the soldier before the slightest sound of alarm could be raised.
Soren heard the door on his side creak as the enemy soldier crumpled to the ground. He took a deep breath and grounded himself, taking a step back to allow the doors to open fully. The soldiers on the other side saw their dead companion first, and then Soren afterwards.
The soldiers made a brave attempt at grabbing for their weapons, but they were too late by then, and ten times too slow to boot. Soren felt another faint drain on his inner reserves of Mysterium as he executed his Combat Mysterium: Three-Fold Slash to dispatch the soldiers before they could do much else.
Soren would have felt the soldiers’ deaths wasteful if he didn’t know that they were truly demons in human skin. He flicked his wrist and the inky-black ichor that clung to Blightsbane rolled off the blade and splattered against the wall, hissing as it etched into the black stone.
Quickly sheathing his weapon, Soren pulled the bodies just inside the doors and closed them behind him. Moments later, the bodies disintegrated into ash and smears of black oil on the ground. He shook his head and closed his eyes, calling upon his Reconnaissance Mysterium: Structural Scan to figure out where he had to go.
While the Mysterium worked away in the back of his mind, Soren searched for a place to hide. It was unlikely that there were only four soldiers inside the entire keep, and it was only a matter of time before his deed was discovered. He just had to stay out of sight until he knew where he had to go.
Soren found a nearby latrine. It smelled better than he expected, certainly better than the ones he’d been to during his time in this new world. He waited there until the Mysterium completed its business, listening for any activity outside.
It was while Soren was examining the mental map that Structural Scan had provided him that the empty suits of armor he’d left in the main hall were discovered. He had a pretty good idea of where the throne room was, which he imagined was where the final battle between him and Ulthric would take place.
Soren’s back stung despite the cooling poultice that Marak, the party’s monk, had spread over the thin welts on his skin. The skin on his wrists felt chafed and raw from the rope that had been used to bind them, as it had taken him longer than he would have wanted to get used to moving without the use of his hands.
Bent over one of the wooden benches that surrounded the training area, Soren could only moan as Marak’s long cock slid in and out of his hole. It was his reward for persevering through the harsh exercise, and if he was being honest, Soren wouldn’t really have wanted it any other way.
With a blindfold over his eyes, Soren had no idea who could be watching his debasement at the hands of his mentor—not that there was any concern of public humiliation or undesirable rumors getting around. Anyone could wander into the practice grounds, but since he and his party had earned their own private estate, only they and their servants had access to begin with.
Soren moaned and grunted as Marak had his way with him. The bristles of Marak’s cock made his walls flutter, and his insides quiver as they raked across his tender flesh. His hole couldn’t help but clench at the smooth base of the monk’s feline cock, as an orgasm built in his loins. He clutched the edge of the bench as Marak’s thrusts lost their rhythm.
It wasn’t long before Soren felt warm cum flood his guts. As Marak thrust a few more times to really massage the cum into Soren’s insides, Soren spilled his own seed onto the dusty floor of the training grounds. When Marak finally softened and pulled out, he snatched the blindfold off Soren’s head, as well.
“You know, I wouldn’t have to suffer this much if you had just let me use Tremor Vision,” said Soren, flipping over the bench and propping up his torso with his elbows on the wooden seat. “You know I have a lot of Mysterium Essence. It won’t drain me that much.”
“You need to learn how to do these things without relying on Mysteria,” said Marak. “You want to use Tremor Vision, but what if you’re fighting a flying basilisk? What would you do then?”
Soren looked at the monk and raised an eyebrow. “That’s a thing?”
“Who knows what sorts of beasts dwell in the black castle’s menagerie?” said Marak. “And whether a flying basilisk exists or not is beside the point. Tremor Vision does shit against a flying opponent. And before you say you’ll use Blind Sight, the range is severely limited. What if you’re fighting a flying, spitting basilisk?”
Soren rolled his eyes and laughed. “Alright, alright, I get it. Sheesh. You didn’t need to be so sarcastic,” he said.
Sweat glistened in beads on Soren’s forearm. Behind him, by the door, were suits of armor empty but for ash and streaks of inky-black ichor. The demon guards had been easy enough to dispatch, but the monstrosity protecting the throne room had been something else entirely.
While Soren had ultimately taken no significant damage from the creature, the combat had taken a lot more out of him than he would have liked. It was bad enough that he had to face the Dark Lord of Ydnir, the notion of doing so at any moment other than at the peak of his power seemed a task almost insurmountable.
If not for Marak’s insistence that he learn to fight without the use of some of his senses, Soren wasn’t certain he would have survived. At his feet laid the corpse of the largest basilisk he had ever set his sights on, and it had truly been an opponent to reckon.
Quietly, Soren offered a prayer for the pieces of broken stone scattered across the floor. He didn’t quite believe in the gods of this world, but he still felt he owed it to the poor, unfortunate souls that had managed to come this far before him, only to fall prey to the beast.
Luckily, Soren’s quarry was mere moments away. The rest of the Ydnir’s menagerie was out on the battlefield, fighting the forces of light. The war Soren had spent so long preparing for felt so futile, now, as the fate of the world would be decided by single combat.
Taking a deep breath, Soren called upon his Warrior Mysterium: Rapid Recovery. Strength flooded back into his limbs, and the wounds that he had sustained during the combat sealed without leaving a mark. The situation was far from ideal, but he could do nothing about the resources he had already spent to get here. He needed to be in as good a condition as he could manage if he were to last as long as the prophecies said he needed to.
Gathering what meagre courage he could, Soren walked up to the great doors in front of him. The Dark Lord was just beyond, sitting on his throne with the reaper by his side. Soren wasn’t sure he was ready to face his certain demise, but he knew that he had to, anyway. Pushing down the turbulent emotions inside of him, he flung the doors wide open with his strength.
The heavy doors banged loudly against the wall, shaking dust from the ceiling as Soren strode through. Beyond the threshold was the grotesque and glittering assemblage of the Dark Lord’s court, in all their varied and repulsive glory.
A deeply crimson carpet embroidered with gold thread led the way down the central aisle of the throne room. It was draped over the steps of the dais that held the jagged blackstone throne of Ydnir. Two colonnades, each column a pillar of dark marble that stretched to the vaulted ceiling above, paraded down the length of the chamber.
The heavy wooden doors swung shut of their own accord, meeting with a dull boom behind Soren as he stepped onto the carpet. On one side of the chamber were the nightmarish grinning devils that mediated between Ulthric and the Hells. On the other side were the gilded, corpulent, and snivelling mortals that had clawed at one another and betrayed their families, kingdoms, and orders to endear themselves to the Dark Lord.
In the middle, sitting above it all as he reclined on his jagged throne like the emperor he styled himself to be, was the man that Soren had come to fight. Ulthric wore heavy plate armor the color of coal. It seemed surprisingly utilitarian in design, but for the dragon skull that adorned the chest. The Dark Lord’s face was covered by the black steel of his helm, his features shrouded in shadow but for deep crimson eyes that seemed to pierce right through the darkness and into Soren’s soul.
A single crack ran up the steps of the dais from where a deep purple longsword was stabbed into the stone by the base of the throne. The weapon’s blade seemed almost midnight black toward the tip, while the purple faded to reds, yellows, and oranges toward its base. By Soren’s reckoning, it was Duskbringer, the artifact weapon that Ulthric had used to cleave through the divine chains that held the gates of the Hells closed.
Soren glanced around the room. There were too many observers. The demons, he knew, would prove problematic if he engaged Ulthric right away. By looking at them he could tell that none of the assembled demons would be able to withstand him alone, but together was another matter entirely.
Despite their otherwise pathetic appearances, Soren wasn’t stupid enough to think that the nobles and traitors on the other side of the hall were so easily dismissed, either. He knew that some were proficient users of Arcana Mysteria, making them particularly dangerous.
The task ahead was daunting, but not impossible. Soren took a deep breath and reminded himself that he was prepared for this. This very scenario had been accounted for, and if the intelligence they had gathered was accurate, he could resolve the problems without wasting too much of his energy.
“At last we meet, O Holy Warrior,” said Ulthric, with a dark chuckle. “It is no secret in these halls that I have long awaited your arrival.”
The Dark Lord tilted his head to the heavens. He raised a gauntleted fist to the vaulted ceiling and declared, “Let the gods bear witness as I thwart their machinations! I shall usurp their precious prophecy as I have usurped this world!”
Soren had no idea what the Dark Lord was going on about, but he couldn’t spare the brainpower to figure it out. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, bringing up his status display in the darkness of the void. He examined what was left of his Mysterium Essence. He had a fair amount left, and he could only hope that he would regain enough from killing all the members of Ulthric’s court to last the rest of the day.
When Soren opened his eyes, they were lambent with power. He placed his hand on the pommel of Blightsbane and said, under his breath, “Mighty king of the howling gale, I call upon your cutting winds…” He eased Blightsbane out of its sheath as air around him swirled. “Bear me on your feathered wings and convey me, O glorious tempest. Let the wicked fall upon your blade!”
Soren took a single step forward and unleashed his Exalted Warrior Mysterium: Blade Storm. In a heartbeat, he disappeared. The tension in the air was palpable as the court whispered among themselves. The hushed murmurs died nearly as soon as they started, and blood splattered the walls of the throne in arcs.
A loud clang echoed down the length of the throne room as sparks screamed off the back of the Dark Lord’s gauntleted hand. Soren reappeared in the place he had been standing, and a moment later nobles and demons alike fell in pieces to the cold stone floor.
Soren shifted the hilt of Blightsbane in his hand. Blade Storm was his fastest attack, and the Dark Lord managed to block it, having the temerity to even look bored by it. “Impressive,” said Ulthric, “but hardly more than a parlor trick, wouldn’t you say, Holy Warrior?”
As he approached the throne, Soren searched for any indication that his attack had at least damaged Ulthric’s armor. There was hardly even a scratch on the hand that had been used to block his Mysterium. “Enough talk,” Soren barked, as he leveled Blightsbane’s blade at Ulthric. “Let’s end this,” he said, invoking Command Mysterium: Compel Single Combat.
“Very well,” said Ulthric. It wasn’t until he rose from his throne that Soren realized just how tall the Dark Lord was. He stood head and shoulders taller than Soren, though his mere presence made him seem twice as large. “If that is your desire, Soren, let us cross blades like your so-called prophecies dictate.”
With one hand, Ulthric wrenched Duskbringer from the stone. With his other, he ripped his helm off his head and tossed it off to the side. The steel crashed against the stone with a clang as Ulthric descended from his dais.
Soren’s breath hitched in his throat. Ulthric was the furthest away from as ugly as the stories had him believe. “Taken by my face, warrior?” said Ulthric, the corner of his lip curling upward in a little smirk that brought out a dimple in his cheek. “Were you expecting some sleazy old man, instead?”
Ulthric’s hair seemed like fine-spun gold, only tinted ever so slightly red. The strands seemed to glimmer in the light streaking through the tall, narrow windows of the throne room.
The Dark Lord’s features and angled jaw highlighted the piercing crimson gaze of his eyes and attracted Soren’s attention. “Did you expect something… wretched, perhaps?” Ulthric whispered, a dangerous undertone to his words. “Perhaps you thought I would be some mutilated monstrosity with some sort of grudge against the world…”
As his boots struck the ground at the base of the dais, Ulthric activated a Mysterium so quickly that Soren didn’t have the time to determine what it was. Metal crashed to the floor with a dissonant clamor as Ulthric’s gauntlets fell in pieces to the stone.
“Did the monks tell you that evil is ugly?” said Ulthric. “Did they never teach you that the reason the darkness is so dangerous is because it is so beautiful and inviting?”
Ulthric invoked the same Mysterium, just as blinding fast as before. This time, Ulthric’s chest plate detached from his torso and fell in front of him. Ulthric kicked the piece of armor aside as the corresponding piece that had been attached to his back clattered to the carpet.
Whatever cloth Ulthric had been wearing under the armor fell to the floor in tattered shreds, exposing the Dark Lord’s chiseled torso to the air. A faint sheen of sweat on Ulthric’s skin made him gleam in the light, but it was his musculature that truly caught Soren’s attention. The bulging arms, firm chest, and cobbled stomach sent a tinge of heat to his cheeks.
If only Ulthric hadn’t been the Dark Lord who threatened all that was good and sacred in the world of Eiras, Soren wouldn’t have minded spending a night in his bed. “Don’t pretend,” said Ulthric. “I see the lust that dwells behind your eyes. My form tempts you, and perhaps for good reason. I have been watching you from afar, Soren, and I feel the same way for you. Perhaps you might yet be convinced to join me.”
“Never,” said Soren. He tightened his grip on the hilt of Blightsbane. Too much blood had been spilled, too many sacrifices made, to be wasted on a coward’s act. For now, he made no moves against the Dark Lord, for he knew nothing of Ulthric’s capabilities. That, and he was willing to give Ulthric more time to take off more of his armor.
Ulthric laughed. “Suit yourself.” For a third time, Ulthric invoked that strange mysterium, and the last bits of his armor fell to pieces on the floor. “Such a shame. Such a waste. I can already imagine how good you would look spread out beneath me. I can already taste you on my tongue.”
Soren swallowed audibly as Ulthric’s thick manhood swung free of the confines of the Dark Lord’s armor. It was long and deliciously thick, even soft. He didn’t dare imagine how it would look hard—though he didn’t have to wait very long to find out for himself.
By the time that Ulthric stopped walking, fully naked, thirty paces away from Soren’s position, his tree-trunk thighs perfectly framed the massive erection bobbing up and down between his legs. The Dark Lord seemed more than happy to flaunt his endowment, despite the gravity of the battle they were supposed to have.
If he managed to survive this, despite the prophecies, Soren was torn between leaving the Dark Lord’s state of undress out of the histories, or forevermore enshrining Ulthric’s magnificent masculinity in books and song.
Ulthric’s blood-red eyes gleamed, and Soren couldn’t help but meet the Dark Lord’s gaze. “Come now, Soren. You are a reasonable man. You don’t really think that you can defeat me,” said Ulthric, pausing for a moment. “Do you? You know you can spare yourself a little bit of pain by joining me.”
However twisted Ulthric’s words sounded, there was a grain of truth to them. Deep down, Soren truly doubted that he would be able to last for hours against Ulthric. The prophecies said that he would have to die—he didn’t want to. Ulthric was offering the obvious solution.
Turning on all his friends to save his own hide was the easy thing to do. Soren hadn’t asked for any of this. He was just an average, ordinary college kid. He could let Ulthric burn the world down and ask to be sent back to his boring old life. But it wasn’t the right thing to do.
“Enough,” said Soren. He gripped Blightsbane tightly and watched Ulthric. The Dark Lord stood at ease, almost dismissive. The point of Duskbringer rested on the carpet beside him, as if Ulthric thought Soren posed no threat to him. “Your reign ends today,” said Soren, as he launched himself at Ulthric.
The ease with which Ulthric parried Soren’s Warrior Mysterium: Lightning Strike was disturbing. He staggered backwards thirty paces, knocked off-balance by the force with which Ulthric repelled him. Ulthric’s face and posture seemed the height of indifference. The only way Soren even knew that Ulthric was acknowledging his presence was the mischievous glint in those red eyes.
Soren’s doubt that it was even possible to go toe-to-toe with Ulthric for hours became stronger. He forced the uncertainty down. He couldn’t afford the luxury of doubt. For the sake of the world, for the sake of his friends, he needed to fight with every fabric of his being.
“Exalted God of the Searing Sun, I beseech thee grant this, thy humble supplicant, the righteous strength to mete your divine justice upon my wicked foes,” said Soren, raising his sword to the ceiling.
A cold golden radiance crept down the blade of Blightsbane, starting at the tip. It washed over Soren’s fingers and spread down his arm, continuing past his elbow and up across his shoulder. “Bathe me, O Searing Sun, in the sacred warmth of thine light. Banish the shadow of doubt from my heart and fill me with thine courage,” Soren continued.
The light formed a wreath of golden laurels around Soren’s brow as it enveloped the rest of his body. Wind rushed out from his body as he finished the invocation. “I hold aloft thine hallowed blade and implore thee bestow upon me thine banishing light!”
A wave of energy rippled outward from Soren as he invoked his Exalted Warrior Mysterium: Avatar of War. The corpses of the demons and nobles that lined the sides of the throne room were reduced to ashes, but Ulthric seemed unscathed.
“Now we have a fight,” said Ulthric, his face splitting into a wide toothy grin. He looked so utterly dashing in his cockiness that Soren couldn’t help but wish that the man in front of him was anyone else. “I have waited so very long for you, my destined warrior. Let’s put on a show,” said Ulthric, looking almost feral as he struck a defensive pose with Duskbringer.
“Glad I didn’t disappoint,” said Soren. “But sorry that we won’t get to spend much time together,” he added, before launching into a withering flurry of blows against Ulthric.
Despite Soren’s elevated state, Ulthric still met him blow for blow. The Avatar of War Mysterium gradually wore down, and tiredness leached into his limbs, but Ulthric seemed hardly fazed. He faltered halfway through a swing as Ulthric’s eyes gleamed. “It’s disappointing this is the best you can do,” said the Dark Lord.
Terror gripped Soren half an hour into the battle, when he realized that Ulthric wasn’t getting any slower to react. He pushed himself as far as he could go, but Ulthric was right. All his years of training, all the hardships that he had endured, and he was still inadequate for the task. It was, to be kind, disappointing.
Soren stumbled backward as the Avatar of War Mysterium faded. The golden light that had bathed his body dissolved into glimmering motes that drifted up into the air. He hefted his sword, still unwilling to admit defeat, still willing to throw everything he had into fulfilling the destiny that had been thrust upon his shoulders.
Ulthric stood motionless, watching the way that Soren’s chest heaved as he struggled to catch his breath. Soren was already wiped out, and if the prophecies were to be believed, there were hours yet to go.
The very air in the throne room seemed to still as Ulthric looked up, a wicked smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. “My turn,” said the Dark Lord. Before Soren could even conceive of his next move, the speed with which Ulthric rushed at him forced him to rely on his warrior instincts to survive.
Soren didn’t have enough time between the lightning-fast sword-strikes to think about what he needed to do to gain the upper hand. All he could do was react and rely on the instincts that had kept him alive so far. Each parry, each blocked slash, sent sharp pangs of pain through Soren’s arm as Duskbringer clashed against Blightsbane.
Ulthric seemed to have no end to strength nor staying power. The intensity of his assault forced Soren back, toward one of the columns that lined either side of the central aisle. Soren knew that he had to find some way to not get pinned, but all too soon, he felt the heel of his foot strike stone.
A fraction of a heartbeat was all the time that Soren had to react as Ulthric swung with twice the strength and speed. The only reason he didn’t die on the spot was because he managed to get Blightsbane up to block the blow, but the force of the strike ripped the sword from his hand and sent it spinning across the stone floor.
“Agh!” Soren grunted, as fingers dug into either side of his neck. Ulthric’s strength and prowess with the blade… it was inhuman. Soren could only scrabble uselessly at Ulthric’s arm as he was pinned against the column and lifted a good foot off the ground. “L-Let go of me, you beast!” Soren said, through gritted teeth.
“That was an impressive showing, Soren,” said Ulthric. “No one has survived my Dragonfang Strike before. I would say that is to your credit, though it was a fool’s errand to even attempt the dance of blades with me. You should blame those idiot summoners who put such notions in your head.”
Soren grabbed Ulthric’s thumb and pinkie finger and tried to pry them away from his neck. However much strength he used, Ulthric’s grip was immovable. “I don’t want to hurt you,” said Ulthric, his eyes flashing. “I’ve proven that I’m stronger than you. You can trust what I say. Why should I lie to someone who could never defeat me?”
Struggle was futile—that much was clear, now. Soren was still suspicious of Ulthric, but he felt as if he could trust the Dark Lord on the face value of his words. At least, he could, for now.
“You don’t want to fight,” said Ulthric. “You know how futile it is. You know how much stronger I am than you.”
Soren stopped. He let his fingers slide off Ulthric’s wrist, and let his arm fall to his sides. He might as well conserve his energy. He was sure the Dark Lord had ulterior motives, but what Ulthric said made sense. The gap in power between the two of them was clear as day. What reason could a giant possibly have to lie to a lowly ant?
“That’s more like it,” said Ulthric. “Isn’t it easier, not having to struggle? Don’t you want to get away from all the chaos and turmoil, even just for a little while?”
It was true enough. There was something about the thrill of battle that awakened Soren’s blood, but this was different. Fighting Ulthric was a frantic, chaotic, desperate thing. If he could take a moment away from it all, he figured that he should take it.
“You might think of some way to gain an advantage, but you know that it’s not going to work,” said Ulthric. “I’m stronger, faster, and more skillful than you are. Brute force will get you nowhere. Besides, I think you’ll find that it feels much better to just listen to what I have to say.”
Ulthric’s words sent a shiver down Soren’s spine. There was a suggestion in them that he wasn’t entirely opposed to. Soren still knew his duty, the price he had to pay, but it wouldn’t be so bad to hear Ulthric out for a little while.
Ulthric lowered Soren to the ground. He stepped into Soren’s personal space, and Soren felt something long and hard press up against the inside of his thigh. He hadn’t even realized that Ulthric was still erect. How Ulthric had managed to move so gracefully with that monster between his legs, Soren would never understand.
Despite the situation, the closeness of Ulthric’s body, the feeling of his erection pressing up against him, made Soren’s body react. Ulthric used that strange Mysterium from earlier, executing it so fast that Soren didn’t have time to comprehend it. A heartbeat later, Soren felt the cool air on his arms.
Ulthric’s thumb and forefinger encircled Soren’s chin and forced him to look in the Dark Lord’s crimson eyes. “Was that too fast for you, Soren?” said Ulthric. “My apologies. Let me do it again, but this time, more slowly so you can enjoy the process.”
Ulthric invoked the Mysterium again. This time, the display in front of Soren’s eyes managed to capture some data about the Mysterium that had just been used. Conquest Mysterium: Dismantle was what it was called, and much to Soren’s surprise, it seemed that he didn’t have the ability to learn it.
Soren’s body armor fell away piece by piece. With Ulthric so close, he could almost feel the warmth radiating out from the Dark Lord’s skin. He couldn’t help but shiver, his cock twitching in his pants until Ulthric used Dismantle on them, too. Without anything in the way, Soren’s modest endowment rubbed against Ulthric’s magnificent cock.
The corner of Ulthric’s lip twitched as he moved his hand down from Soren’s face to Soren’s tight stomach. He invoked Conquest Mysterium: Disperse, which dissolved Soren’s armor into dust. Ulthric’s own armor faded into motes of darkness, and the throne room was left spotless but for the blood splatters on the walls.
“You love this,” said Ulthric, a tinge of wonder in his voice as his fingers gently rubbed the firm muscles of Soren’s rippled stomach. Soren gritted his teeth. It was all he could do to resist the moan bubbling up from his throat.
“You might think it’s wrong to lie with the enemy, but some part of you doesn’t care. Some part of you knows how good this feels. Some part of you actually enjoys the fact that this is wrong.” said Ulthric, his eyes glowing with a devilish light.
“The more you think about what your priests told you, about the lives lost at my command, the more appalled you are that you’re letting me do this to you,” said Ulthric. The Dark Lord’s calloused fingers gently cradled Soren’s balls. Soren shivered. “But the more appalled you get, the hotter you feel inside.”
Shit. Heat blossomed on Soren’s cheeks. He tried to look away from Ulthric, but couldn’t. He kept getting drawn to those crimson-red eyes, and the way that they seemed to glimmer with inner fire. He felt like his soul was being laid bare to the Dark Lord, the deepest depravities in his heart being read out to him as if from the pages of an open book.
Soren would have given anything to avert his gaze then, only there was no escape. It was wrong. It was forbidden. It was taboo. Ulthric was an irredeemable villain, a wretched fiend who sowed destruction across the land, and yet… And yet a part of Soren lusted for him not in spite of those things, but because of them.
Soren sagged against the pillar as Ulthric took a step back. Any longer, and he didn’t know if he would have been able to control himself. Even now, as Ulthric stood a good foot away, all that twisted part of him wanted to do was toss himself at Ulthric’s feet.
Ulthric tossed Duskbringer aside. The purple sword landed on top of Blightsbane and sent both weapons clattering to one side of the room. “I have nothing to hide, and nowhere to hide. Now, neither do you. Let’s talk.”
As if they hadn’t been fighting a mere minute ago, Ulthric walked over to the center of the red carpet and sat down. He looked at Soren and crossed his arms in front of his chest. Still somewhat shocked by the dramatic turn of events, it took a moment for Soren to work up the courage to push off the pillar he’d just been pinned against.
Soren shot a furtive glance at where Blightsbane lay. Considering what Ulthric had already shown, if Soren so much as thought of making a break for his weapon, Ulthric would retrieve his own much faster. Seeing no other option, Soren made his way to the carpet and sat down, legs crossed, opposite Ulthric.
“I know what you think the prophecy means for you,” said Ulthric. “However much your priests swear to secrecy the truth of the prophecies, it is still there to find for those who know where to look. Tell me, Soren. You’re not from this world. You owe the gods no debt. Do you really want to die?”
Soren swallowed. Ulthric’s voice was devoid of the cold, hard edge that it usually did. Ulthric seemed genuinely curious. Soren was tempted to withhold his answer, but it seemed so pointless a hill to die on. “No,” he said. He felt lighter almost immediately, like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. “But it’s what I have to do to protect this world and the people in it.”
Ulthric chuckled. He seemed, if anything, amused at Soren’s answer. “I can see why you were summoned. You have the soul of a hero. If I told you that you didn’t have to die to save this world from me, would you still want to fight?”
Soren blinked. Of all the responses he could have imagined, the one Ulthric provided was something completely unexpected. “What… What do you mean?” Soren demanded. “How could there be another way? This only ends if you lose the war or just… disappear. And we both know the last thing isn’t going to happen.”
“Do we?” said Ulthric, placing his elbow on his knee and propping his cheek up on his fist. “Do we both know that I won’t just disappear and end this without having to shed the blood of the holy warrior?”
Ulthric’s words bounced around in Soren’s skull. He shook his head, trying to get them out. He didn’t need the promise of another way. Nothing was more cruel than false hope. Ulthric was just trying to trick him. “Get out of my fucking head!” he said, clutching his temples. “I’ve already accepted that I will have to give my life up to you. Stop trying to… To…”
“Stop trying to what?” said Ulthric. “Look at me, Soren,” said the Dark Lord. His commanding tone left no space for disobedience. Soren’s gaze snapped up to meet Ulthric’s, and he saw that those crimson-red eyes were shining.
“Tell me, is there any justice to a young man, full of life, being plucked from his world to be used as a weapon to fight a losing war, and as a sacrifice to destroy the enemy?” said Ulthric. “Surely, you don’t believe that’s just.”
Soren clenched his fists. No. No, it wasn’t right. But there was no use crying over spilled milk. He had already spent years training for his destiny, years coming to terms with the price that he would have to pay. He didn’t want to waste all that time.
“You sit there, feigning anger at me for suggesting that you turn your back on everyone you ever lost in this war,” said Ulthric, the light in his eyes taking on a sharp and dangerous edge. “Your anger is misguided. Deep down, you know this to be true. You don’t resent me, you resent the people who brought you here. If not for them you wouldn’t have had to lose so much in the first place.”
“Shut up!” said Soren. He’d tried to bury it for so long, but those red eyes saw everything. They saw past the walls he had built around his heart and struck at the chords that truly resonated inside of him.
“So what if I hate those priests for what they did to me? For what they turned me into?” said Soren, managing, somehow, to break his gaze away from Ulthric’s. He looked at his hands.
“They forced me here for their stupid fucking prophecy! My friends died for their stupid prophecy!” said Soren. His shoulders were shaking. Tears were dripping onto his hands. “If I don’t fulfill the purpose they brought me here for, then what did my friends die for?”
Ulthric’s voice was gentle. “They died for you,” said Ulthric. “They died because they believed in you. Not in the prophecy. In you. They wouldn’t want you to throw your life away when you don’t have to. Neither do I. You have many years ahead of you. It would be a shame to waste them. You know this to be true.”
Soren looked up, his eyes meeting Ulthric’s. It was impossible not to get drawn in by their vibrant color. He never would have thought the Dark Lord capable of kindness and yet, he couldn’t call the intent behind those words anything else.
The memory of the friends he’d lost along the way was painful, almost too painful to bear for Soren, yet he knew that Ulthric spoke the truth. He knew it in his bones. They wouldn’t want him to die if he could live. If there was a chance that he could defy the prophecy, as Ulthric said, and still save the world, they would want him to take it.
As for the thought of Ulthric himself not wanting Soren to waste his life, well, Soren found that suspicious. He didn’t know Ulthric’s reasons, but he knew that he wasn’t enough of a threat to the Dark Lord to be lied to. He could at least trust that Ulthric was genuine when he said that he didn’t want Soren to throw away his life.
“What… What is this other way, then?” said Soren. “How am I to save this world, and defeat your armies, without sacrificing myself?”
Ulthric smiled. “Do nothing,” he said. "Plunging the world into ten thousand years of darkness was never the intention. I only hoped to fan the flames of a war to consume the world. Threatening the future of the world seemed the most expedient way to accomplish it.
Soren cast his thoughts back to the strategy meeting that had been held just before the assault on Ydnir began. Every kingdom, and every tribe, every people with some semblance of a ruler had come together to unleash a concerted attack on all of Ulthric’s strongholds the world over. “Then… Your plan… It’s complete?”
Ulthric nodded. “Indeed. Now that every nation burns with purpose, united for once against a single foe, hot with determination to banish injustice where it lies, I shall use those flames to ascend to my rightful place on the throne of Avernir. Once the war has completed its purpose, I shall remove my forces from the world and return Eiras to its rightful rulers.”
No. It couldn’t possibly be that easy. So much had been lost, so many people slain, and all for a final battle that was never intended to happen? No. Soren refused to accept it. Ulthric had to be playing a trick on him.
“Say that again,” said Soren, invoking his Command Mysterium: Compel Truth. A part of him trusted Ulthric, trusted that the Dark Lord had no reason to lie to him, but the notion of saving the world by doing nothing was so outlandish that he had to know for sure.
Ulthric did not resist the binding of the Mysterium that Soren unleashed. “When the sun rises upon the world tomorrow, I shall ascend to my proper place upon the throne of Avernir, I shall take with me all my forces, and I shall return Eiras to its rightful rulers.”
It was true. Every word. Despite himself, Soren actually breathed a sigh of relief. “I… I don’t have to die?” he said. “I don’t have to die. Everything’s going to be fine.” He still couldn’t quite believe it.
“It must feel so much better not having to act the hero of a world anymore,” said Ulthric. Soren looked into the Dark Lord’s crimson-red eyes once again. It was true. It did feel better. He felt lighter than he had in years. He didn’t feel so burdened anymore.
“And now that you know the truth, you must also understand that I do not truly wish to hurt you. I do not wish to lie to you,” said Ulthric. For the first time since walking into the throne room, Ulthric seemed less the incarnation of evil that the church painted him to be, and more the human that his appearance suggested. “You can trust me when I say that I only truly want the best for you.”
Soren let himself smile. He was glad that he hadn’t mindlessly fought tooth and nail to fulfil the prophecy. The priests had not even tried to find another way, and yet the man whom he was supposed to hate with every fibre of his being, the man who had the most to lose by giving him a chance to live, was the one that saved him from an unnecessary death. For what it was worth, he could believe that Ulthric didn’t want to hurt him.
Soren didn’t think he would ever be fully able to accept that Ulthric wanted what was best for him without suspicion, but he could at least trust that the Dark Lord didn’t want harm to come to him. Probably as long as he didn’t interfere with what was going on.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think everything will be alright,” said Ulthric. “If you leave this castle alive, that won’t be the end of your troubles, rather just the start of them.”
Soren looked up at Ulthric. “What do you mean?” he said. He couldn’t think of anything that would be worse than fighting the armies of darkness and the legions of hell. Whatever trials lay ahead, he was sure he could manage them.
“If you walk out of my doors alive, you become the most powerful man in the world,” said Ulthric. Soren couldn’t see what was wrong with that. “The nations are united at this moment, and perhaps for some time after I’m gone, but not for long. You are beholden to one nation, and that makes you dangerous. They will either want you for themselves, or will want you out of the picture.”
“The only thing worse than an enemy so strong you cannot defeat it, is an enemy so weak you can’t fight it without looking like a bully,” said Ulthric. “Until this point, you’ve been fighting a war you’re well-suited for as a warrior. In the future, you’ll be fighting a game of politics with people who have been playing much longer than you.”
Soren tried to come up with some reason, any reason to deny what Ulthric was saying. He couldn’t. He had spent so long pondering and accepting the fact that he was going to die that he hadn’t given much thought to what would happen if he didn’t.
“That sounds… tedious,” said Soren. From the beginning, he hadn’t wanted to get involved in politics. He’d left that to others. He had never even considered that he would become a political power by virtue of saving the world. “Couldn’t I just find a way to go home?”
“Through the church?” said Ulthric. The Dark Lord shook his head. “You know better than that, Soren. If you survive, you defy their prophecies and their gods. The common-folk won’t know that, but the upper echelons will. Some will view you as the coming of a savior, others will believe that you made a deal with the devil.”
“Every day of your life after you walk out the gates of my castle will be a day spent hiding or fighting battles that you cannot use your sword for,” said Ulthric. “I know you don’t want that. You’ve spent long enough fighting. You know it’s time to put down the sword and be someone else for a change.”
“So, there won’t be an end to it?” said Soren. He sighed. He was a fool to think that living through his “final battle” would make everything right. He had been aimless before coming to this world, but at least his life had been peaceful. Ulthric was right. He didn’t want to carry the burdens of the world anymore.
Soren enjoyed being a warrior, he enjoyed the way of the sword, but Ulthric had a point. It was time to lay down his weapon, at least until it was necessary to take up again. “Maybe it would be better if I died…” he said. Especially as it didn’t seem his prospects were any better for living through the ordeal.
Ulthric smirked. He rose from his place and walked over to Soren. He knelt down and cupped Soren’s chin in his fingers. “That would be a waste,” said Ulthric. “Disappearing would do the trick.”
“Disappear?” said Soren. He supposed he could go into hiding, pretend that he’d been killed at the hands of the Dark Lord. No one would come after him, and the world would be just as safe. He just didn’t think he’d be able to live with the burden of such a tremendous lie.
“Yes, disappear. But I’ll tell you more about it later. For now, I can resist no longer,” said Ulthric. He leaned down and pressed his lips gently against Soren’s. “You seem so oblivious to your own beauty. I have watched you from afar, and have grown fond of you.”
Soren blushed. He could feel the heat in his cheeks, in the tips of his ears. Ulthric was saying scandalous words, words that would turn the world on its head if anyone else heard them. “Tonight is to be my last on this world, and I know that you desire me as a lover. You wouldn’t be so cruel as to deny me the honor of spending the night, would you?”
Soren tried to look away, tried to avert his gaze to anywhere but Ulthric’s crimson-red eyes. He couldn’t. “I-I wouldn’t,” said Soren. His cock was rock-hard between his legs, and the words were out of his mouth before he could stop his stupid self. “I-I mean, I would love to spend the night with you.”
To think, not so long ago, Ulthric had been his mortal enemy. There was something filthy about accepting a proposition from the Dark Lord when he was supposedly the holy warrior who would slay him. And yet what was Soren to do? Ulthric’s touch left him wanting for more, and his lips had yet to forget the sensation of Ulthric’s lips on them. Other parts of his body craved to enjoy the Dark Lord’s attention, not least of all that most private place of his.
“Good,” said Ulthric. He placed a hand on Soren’s shoulder and invoked Arcana Mysterium: Jaunt. The instantaneous shift of Soren’s surroundings was accompanied by a brief sensation of freefall before he fell on top of a soft mattress. A heartbeat later, he felt the bed dip as Ulthric’s weight landed on top of him.
“This is wrong,” said Soren. While he had been talked out of thinking Ulthric as end-of-the-world evil, there were still so many that had suffered under him. It was an injustice and an insult to all those people that their hero was lying with their enemy and yet Soren could do nothing to deny the Dark Lord’s sheer magnetism. “So wrong that I shouldn’t want this,” he said, wrapping his arms around Ulthric’s shoulders.
The corner of Ulthric’s mouth twitched. “That is precisely why you want this,” said Ulthric. “I know your type. You’ve a noble soul, a heart filled with light, but deep down what you seek is a taste of that tantalizing darkness that you always try to keep at arm’s length.”
Soren couldn’t argue with that. He never would have thought it until Ulthric brought it up, but it resonated with him. That deep down he lusted for the darkness rang true. Truer, even, than the notion that he had a noble soul. “How did it come to this?” said Soren. “I came here prepared to give my life, and yet now I’m in the enemy’s bed, all too eager to have him.”
“Quite simple, really,” said Ulthric. “The moment that you stepped through the door of the throne room you were mine. I haven’t lied to you. You know that. However, I have been using this ability to change the way you think to something more in line with what I’d like it to be.”
Ulthric’s eyes flashed a deep red color and the interface in front of Soren’s eyes displayed the name of the Mysterium that the Dark Lord had just used: Conquest Mysterium: Dominate. The whole time, Ulthric had been controlling him, manipulating him, and yet he found it undeniably arousing.
“You don’t mind that I used this ability on you, though,” said Ulthric. “In fact, I think right about now you’re coming to the conclusion that you find it incredibly arousing, the thought of being under the complete control of another man, especially one who is so much stronger than you.”
For the first time since their meeting, Soren let out a low moan. The rage that had been building inside of him seemed to melt away. He didn’t mind the use of the Mysterium on him at all. “You’re a warrior and a soldier, after all, Soren,” said Ulthric. “You are most at ease when someone else is in control.”
It was true. Even in his old life, Soren liked the comfort of routine. He had flourished as part of the army in this world, had enjoyed the strict hierarchy of command.
“You were never cut out to be a leader,” said Ulthric. “You don’t want to be thinking of plans and strategies, or formulating your own opinions. What you want is someone to tell you what to do and what to think. That is the kind of man that you are. Am I wrong?”
A small part of Soren struggled against the assertion. He knew that if he accepted Ulthric’s words, they would become the truth. And yet, deep down, he already knew that they were. Perhaps not in full, but certainly for the most part. Still, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to lose his free will.
“Of course, having the spirit of a warrior means that you are also wilful and headstrong,” said Ulthric. “For some things, you get ideas, and form opinions of your own. You will argue for your positions vehemently, and will defend them with all your strength. These things, you’ll only set aside when someone who you trust wholeheartedly commands you to do so.”
Just one small concession was enough to bring Soren’s walls crumbling down. That simple compromise allowed Soren’s mind enough flexibility to conform to the suggestion without destroying his free will. His cock twitched as he felt Ulthric’s words take hold of his consciousness.
The Dark Lord leaned down and pressed his lips to Soren’s. The kiss took Soren by surprise, at first, but it didn’t take long for him to surrender to it. Soren kissed Ulthric back, pleasure flooding him, his back arching off the bed and into Ulthric’s body. Their cocks rubbed together between their legs.
When the two of them parted, Soren was breathless. He had never been kissed so forcefully, so possessively before. His thoughts were all over the place, trying to wrap his head around what he had just experienced. But Ulthric didn’t give him so much as a moment to digest what had just transpired.
Soren’s legs were effortlessly flipped into the air by Ulthric, and the Dark Lord wasted no time in prying his cheeks apart to get to the tender little rosebud between them. Soren shivered at the sensation of Ulthric’s hot breath wafting over his taint, and moaned as he felt Ulthric lick a hot, wet stripe up his crack.
Ulthric’s tongue swirling around his hole was enough to make Soren’s legs tremble in the air. His cock, neglected but so, so hard regardless, dribbled pre-cum onto his stomach. His fingers clutched helplessly at the silken sheets of Ulthric’s bed as the Dark Lord’s tongue slowly worked its way to the center of his pucker.
“You may answer freely, according to the whims of your heart,” said Ulthric, the withdrawal of his tongue from Soren’s hole eliciting a disappointed grunt from him. “Are you sure that this is something that you want to do?”
A strange pressure that Soren hadn’t even noticed pressing down on his thoughts seemed to lift for a moment. He had forgotten what it was like to think clearly, without the haze of Ulthric’s control. It had only been minutes, and yet it had felt like eternity.
Soren reached up and cradled the side of Ulthric’s face with his hand. Whatever spell the Dark Lord had laid upon him the moment he stepped into the throne room, he knew in his heart of hearts that Ulthric had not lied to him, not even once.
Ulthric, the Dark Lord, who had caused the untold suffering of millions of people had saved one person from throwing his life away needlessly. And despite all the morals that Soren purported to uphold as the destined warrior who would end the reign of the Dark Lord, he believed that that one act had to count for something.
And there was no denying that for all his power, for all the command that he wielded over Soren, Ulthric had never once made him do something that stood completely against who he was as a person.
There was truth to everything that Ulthric had said about him, from wanting to put down the sword to lead a peaceful life, to finding the darkness compelling, to wanting a man to take command of him every now and again.
The decision was easy. It was clear that Ulthric was prepared for him to say no, now that his faculties had been fully restored, but if anything, the lucidity he had been so mercifully granted only made it easier to say, “Yes. Yes, I want this very much.”
No sooner had the words left Soren’s lips than the fog that had surrounded his thoughts returned. The pleasant, arousing haze in his mind filled him with renewed heat as Ulthric dove for his pucker, tongue stabbing at the center and eliciting a low, drawn-out moan from Soren’s throat.
As the holy warrior, sex had been one of Soren’s weaknesses. Those who knew of it in the church disapproved of it, but what were they to do about him? Once he realized that he could have it, and once he realized that he loved it, no amount of reason could stop him when he was horny.
The fact that all of Soren’s mentors and party members had used sex to reward his efforts once they learned of his predilections didn’t help. Ulthric’s masterful working of his tongue into Soren left him almost breathless. He couldn’t even dream of stopping the Dark Lord, now.
Soren squirmed as Ulthric’s tongue entered him. It felt inhumanly long, swirling around the entrance of his ass before diving deeper. He could only writhe as it stroked his insides in a way that he had never thought possible, and more than once, Ulthric’s hot tongue slid over his prostate. “Ulthric…” he moaned, breathlessly.
Soren groaned in disappointment as Ulthric pulled his tongue out of him. “Is there any reason that you would wish to stay in this world?” said Ulthric, clambering over Soren, and pinning him to the bed by his wrists. “Tell me, does anything bind your heart to this realm and its people that would prevent you from ever leaving?”
In the beginning, Soren had intended to go home after the ordeal with Ulthric, before he had known that he would have to pay the ultimate price. Friends he’d made were the only reason that he felt any doubt about that earlier plan, but he didn’t think that friends would be enough of a reason to stay when Ulthric had so helpfully laid out what would happen after Ydnir fell. “No,” said Soren. He would miss his friends, and he would think of them often, but he just wanted peace.
Ulthric ground his hips into Soren’s. Their cocks rubbed against one another. Ulthric transferred both of Soren’s wrists under one hand as the other made its way between them to grab at their mutual erections. “Then come with me,” said Ulthric. “Let the world think that you died saving them, and defeating me.”
“We can rule Avernir together,” said Ulthric. “I have need for a consort, and I can think of no other who would be more worthy to take that place beside me than you.”
Soren moaned. Ulthric’s touch set his nerves alight. Feeling Ulthric’s hand wrapped around both of their erections, moving up and down them in unison, felt amazing. “You said it yourself,” said Soren. “I wasn’t built to lead. I’m not sure I want to rule. I’m no statesman,”
Ulthric smiled. “Then fine,” said Ulthric. “You can leave the ruling to me, except for when you might want to jump in. The rest of the time, you can sit there and look pretty, and maybe decapitate some demons that get on your nerves. What’s important is that you come with me and start again in a place where no one will dare judge you.”
The offer was a tempting one. It was also unfair, as Soren, in his current state, was in no state to resist. There was just something so compelling about Ulthric that he couldn’t help himself. Maybe there was good reason that the two of them were destined for each other.
Ulthric leaned back, easing his weight off Soren. Soren used the opportunity to prop himself up with his elbows on the bed. As Ulthric was stroking the two of them, Soren’s cock slipped from Ulthric’s grip. Ulthric pulled it back with his fingers and chuckled. “Would you look at that? Our swords are crossed,” said Ulthric, with a wry grin.
“Say that again,” said Soren, his eyes widening. He wasn’t stupid. He could tell what Ulthric was implying, and the knowing, mischievous grin on his face only made him more certain. “You can’t mean…”
“Our swords are crossed,” said Ulthric. He looked fucking beautiful, his red eyes reflecting the golden-orange light of the sunset that streamed in through a window above the bed. “And, I dare say, you and I can last until sunrise,” Ulthric murmured, before leaning down to capture Soren’s lips in another sizzling-hot kiss.
The feeling of Ulthric’s lips on his sent fireworks shooting in Soren’s head. All at once, the prophecy and the words that Ulthric had spoken at the beginning of their encounter made perfect sense. If Ulthric truly had figured out another way to interpret the prophecy and willed that interpretation into reality, the Dark Lord had truly succeeded in usurping the gods’ designs.
Before Soren could react, Ulthric flipped him over onto his stomach. The Dark Lord’s hands on his hips pulled him up onto his hands and knees, and then a hand between his shoulder blades pushed his chest back down to the bed.
Soren moaned. This was his favorite position. It made him feel raw. Vulnerable. A bitch to be taken at the whim of the person on top of him rather than a hero destined to save the world from the tyrannical grasp of a Dark Lord.
“Come with me,” said Ulthric. “I won’t make you want it. I need you to give me an answer of your own accord.”
The answer was clear to Soren. He didn’t think he could live with himself if he didn’t take the opportunity. “Yes,” he breathed, his heart galloping at a mile a minute. “Gods, yes!” he shouted.
“Good,” said Ulthric. He sounded so flippant, but his smile was radiant. “The only thing I ask is that you give yourself to me. Well, you have to if I’m to take you. Otherwise it wouldn’t work,” said Ulthric, as his cock slid up and down the crack of Soren’s ass.
Soren couldn’t think of anything hotter. Then, it occurred to him, Ulthric was fulfilling yet another part of the prophecy. He was “offering” himself to the Dark Lord. “A sacrifice with which to end the reign of the Dark Lord,” he said, under his breath, as Ulthric barked a laugh.
The notion stood against everything that Soren had learned and represented for the last few years, but he didn’t really mind. Ulthric was offering him a new life, and a new start, away from the politics of a world that would not let him rest after he saved it. He was more than happy to dedicate himself.
Briefly closing his eyes, Soren took a deep breath and invoked Exalted Warrior Mysterium: Liege Oath. “I give myself to you, Ulthric Dragonblood,” Soren intoned, as he felt the Mysterium take hold of his body. His old liege oath, which felt brittle and flimsy compared to the magnificence of the one forming between him and Ulthric, shattered into a thousand pieces. “I swear to you on my honor that I will be yours, body, mind, and soul.”
“Good,” said Ulthric. His hand, pressing down between Soren’s shoulder blades, kept him pinned against the mattress. While he lay there, his back arched, his hips bucking into Ulthric’s groin, the HUD flashed in front of his eyes as Ulthric invoked a Mysterium that Soren had never seen before.
“From now until the end of time, you, Soren Stark, will be my blood and my property,” Ulthric murmured, as he invoked his Exalted Conquest Mysterium: Subjugate. “From this day until my last, you shall be mine to protect and mine to command as I desire.”
At the same time, Ulthric lined his cock up with Soren’s hole and slid in. Soren’s mind went almost completely blank as he felt Ulthric’s prodigious member enter him. His hole burned as it was stretched almost to its limits by Ulthric’s endowment. As Ulthric’s Mysterium took hold of him, Soren’s body shook with rapturous pleasure.
Inch by exquisite inch, Ulthric entered Soren. He felt like he was simultaneously being split in half and fucked into the highest heavens. He felt so full, and only felt progressively fuller as Ulthric entered him, the Dark Lord’s cock seemingly endless.
By the time that Ulthric bottomed out, Soren felt like he’d been impaled for an eternity. Time seemed some nebulous concept, so difficult to grasp. He hadn’t the faintest idea how long it had taken Ulthric’s enormous cock to get all the way inside him, but for the fact that it seemed night had fallen outside.
“You are mine now,” said Ulthric, as he rolled his hips and jostled his cock inside of Soren. All Soren could manage was a quiet moan, his entire body feeling raw and tingly. Taking all of Ulthric had proved more intense than he could have ever anticipated merely looking at Ulthric’s cock.
“Fuck yourself on me,” said Ulthric. The authority in his voice sent shivers down Soren’s spine. “I want to watch that holy warrior hole of yours gripping my cock as you bounce your ass on my crotch.”
In a single heartbeat, a wave of submissiveness seemed to crash over Soren. He felt a sudden and not unwelcome need to fulfill Ulthric’s every desire. Even though he felt like strength had deserted him, he invoked his Warrior Mysterium: Rapid Recovery just to regain it for Ulthric.
As his limbs regained their function, Soren moved. “Mmm… That’s right. Such a beautiful sight,” said Ulthric, his hands stroking Soren’s hips as he rolled them, bucking back into Ulthric’s groin to fuck himself as he had been commanded. It felt unlike anything that Soren had ever experienced before. No one had ever filled him so much.
As he became accustomed to Ulthric’s girth, Soren picked up his speed. He moved his hips from side to side, and rocked back and forth on his knees, working over as much of Ulthric’s cock as he could manage with his ass. “My, my,” said Ulthric. “Aren’t you an eager boy.”
For what felt like an hour, Soren kept it up, seeking to give Ulthric more and more pleasure with every movement of his hips. Before long he was pulling almost all the way off of the mighty cock, and then slamming his ass back down all the way to the hilt.
Soren’s strength could only last so long, and he had already run his Mysterium Essence dry to maintain the pace that he had been keeping. “A good effort,” said Ulthric, noticing the way that Soren’s legs trembled from the strain. “Let me take over, now.”
For all the tenderness that he had shown through the night, Ulthric was not gentle at all in his fucking. He rutted into Soren like a wild animal, every thrust filled with so much power that Soren could feel his brain rattling around the inside of his skull. Ulthric drove his cock mercilessly in and out of Soren’s hole over and over and over again and Soren, despite himself, loved the raw savagery of it all.
“There remains one thing left,” said Ulthric, grunting as pummeled Soren’s greedy hole. “Your blood is supposed to end my reign. Reasonable to assume that it means your death, but I choose to interpret it differently.”
Soren was too far gone to have any intelligible reply to Ulthric, even though the Dark Lord’s pace slowed to give him momentary respite. Even so, Ulthric worked his cock in long, luxurious strokes into Soren’s eager hole.
“I will fuck a son into you, an heir worthy of our pride as warriors. Upon him I shall confer the right to rule the lands of Ydnir. He shall be your blood. And he shall bring an end to the reign of this Dark Lord.”
Soren moaned. He could already imagine himself swollen with child, could see Ulthric doting over him as their baby grew inside of him. The thought made him flush with arousal. “B-But that’s impossible, Ulthric,” he said. And yet Soren knew that Ulthric was possessed of abilities beyond mortal ken. He had no way of knowing what was possible at the hands of the Dark Lord.
“Not yet,” said Ulthric. “Not without assistance. But I can change you. I can make your body fertile, allow you to bear my seed so that our son can complete the usurpation of the gods’ prophecy. Will you allow this?”
“What I want doesn’t matter,” Soren breathed, struggling to find the words as Ulthric’s pace picked up once again. “Take what is yours, my Lord. It is your right and your privilege!”
The HUD flashed before Soren’s eyes, displaying the three Mysteria that Ulthric had invoked without missing a beat. The first of the three was Eldritch Mysterium: Corruption. Soren felt something warm settle into his veins, and watched them flash briefly black under his skin.
The second Mysterium invoked by Ulthric was Eldritch Mysterium: Conversion, accompanied by a quick stroke of his stomach. His insides tingled and shifted, as if to make space for a new organ that was forming inside of him. He knew it was a womb, and it felt right to be there.
The final Mysterium, Eldritch Mysterium: Fecundity, flooded Soren’s body with heat. If he had thought that he was horny before, it was nothing compared to how he felt, now. “More. Please. Harder!” he screamed as his limbs shook from the intensity of his desire.
Ulthric’s brutal fuck did not let up for one moment, but just as Soren was fully immersing himself in the sensations, he felt Ulthric’s cock leave him. A heartbeat later, he shouted himself raw as the mighty weapon between Ulthric’s legs was driven into him with so much force that he skidded across the bed sheets.
Hot cum flooded Soren’s insides, which he could feel shifting and liquefying and rearranging themselves even more in the heat. At that moment, rolling waves of pleasure crashed through Soren, all of them rushing from his ass. It was like an orgasm, but his cock barely twitched at all. It was intense. Rapturous. Even long after the sensation subsided, his arms and legs still felt like jelly.
Despite the voluminous orgasm, Ulthric’s cock was not one whit softer than it had been at the start of their lovemaking. The Dark Lord used his not-inconsiderable strength to lift Soren off the bed entirely. He carried Soren all the way to the nearest wall, and pinned him against there as he fucked him up against the wall with renewed vigor, churning up the cum that had already been spilled inside of him.
As the hours passed, Ulthric fucked load after load after load of seed into Soren. By the time that the grey of dawn had broken across the sky outside the window, Soren had not only been fucked across every hard surface in the room, his guts were also so full of cum that his stomach felt distended and soft.
For their last fuck before the dawn, Ulthric had bent Soren over a nearby windowsill. “Use your Warrior Mysterium: Flesh Map to look at your insides,” Ulthric commanded. Soren, faithfully, obeyed.
In his mind’s eye Soren saw his body and everything inside of it. He could see the faint outline of Ulthric’s cock sliding in and out of him. There seemed to be little more than a hollow inside of him, most of his organs either gone or shifted away from the empty space filled to bursting with cum. It was so fucking hot.
“This is where our son will grow,” said Ulthric. “You can and should still enjoy food. But should you ever get tired, the only thing you’ll need now is your Lord’s cum for sustenance. I thought that would be an appropriate change considering how much of a nasty little slut you turned out to be.”
Soren could only moan. Ulthric had not only fucked him hoarse but fucked all language out of him hours ago. He’d get his words and his voice back, he was sure. But not any time soon.
Outside, the first sliver of the sun’s golden light peeked from beneath the horizon. “the time is almost upon us,” Ulthric grunted. For the first time since the night began, Ulthric’s thrust broke their rhythm.
As the two of them hung almost entirely out of the window, fucking like rabbits, Ulthric desperately shoved his cock inside Soren as far as it could go. Soren, for his part, moaned like a cheap whore without a care for who might hear him. Higher, the sun climbed, the line of its light racing down the darkened land toward the precipice of Ydnir.
“When I tell you, use your final Mysterium” said Ulthric, voice ragged like he was at his limits. His thrusts slowed, each one more methodical, more purposeful. His hips slammed so hard into Soren’s that Soren feared he might get fucked out the window, though he supposed that was one wonderful way to die.
“Almost there,” Ulthric grunted, again picking up speed, thrusting erratically as his cock swelled and throbbed inside of Soren. “Now!”
Soren closed his eyes and invoked the Mysterium he’d learned just hours before entering the black castle of Ydnir. The most powerful orgasm of his life hit him as Fate Mysterium: Final Act took hold.
Soren’s eyes flew open, incandescent with reddish-golden light as day broke and the light of the sun blazed up the height of the tower that held Ulthric’s chambers. His cock exploded, splattering the inside of the windowsill with cum as Ulthric flooded him with even more seed. His hole clenched around Ulthric’s cock as wave after wave after wave of intense pleasure crashed over him, rolling into one seemingly-endless feeling of white-hot rapture.
A loud clap like thunder brought the fighting in the fields just outside of Ydnir to a stop. A strong wind, so strong that it howled as it ripped the tents from their tentpoles and the pennant flags from their flagpoles blew all the combatants flat to the ground.
The field devolved into chaos as every man clawed at the dirt for grip, only subsiding as it became clear that only the men and beasts fighting on Ulthric’s side were being torn from the battlefield.
The armies of darkness were sent screaming and clawing back toward the black castle that loomed in the distance, which seemed to shine bright gold as the sun struck its jagged edifice. A column of shimmering flame that reached into the heavens and punched through the roiling black clouds consumed the castle, so bright that it cast the rest of the world in stark shadow.
So ended the reign of the Dark Lord Ulthric, the day forevermore remembered when the holy warrior Soren Stark laid down his life to save the world of Eiras.
In a palace in the divine realm of Avernir, where the newly-made Dragon-God and Aspect of War, Ulthric the Black, reigned, the moans of the king-consort echoed through the halls. Ulthric’s cock had only grown larger and more magnificent in the months since they departed the mortal world, and Soren enjoyed every last inch of it.
Since their disappearance from Eiras, Soren’s body had only continued to change to better reflect his position as Ulthric’s partner, as the mother of the newborn Dragon-God’s child. Slick flowed in thick globs from his hole whenever he felt a stirring of need, and the heady scent of his lust was enough to drive the courtiers into a frenzy.
Soren had taken to his new role quite well. His only complaint was that he had become too big to spar. Even as he bounced naked on Ulthric’s cock in front of the whole world, he stroked his swollen belly lovingly, knowing that soon a son would be born to him and his Lord with the power to change the world.
Atop the black rock of Velyn’s Crag, where once, thousands of years ago, a palace was said to have stood, a palace that had been consumed in divine fire, a man stepped through a shimmering tear in the fabric of reality.
Avernir had treated the man well, but now was the time for him to claim his birthright. What better place to sow the seeds of an empire to span the world than where the black castle of Ydnir, home to his father, once stood?
This one was written for my Patrons for the month of August. I had a lot of fun writing it, so I hope you guys enjoyed reading it. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I have some plans to expand a bit more on the setting, but I’d like to know what you guys think. I know it’s a bit of a big chunk to read, but I hope you guys made it all the way through!
The story I wrote for this month’s Patrons was inspired by Altered Carbon, after a fashion. I’ll leave a little blurb down below. Right now, it’s only available for $3+ patrons, but I’ll post it here on the 15th of October, when it becomes free for everyone to read.
In a world where changing bodies is as simple as flinging one’s consciousness across the cosmos in a stream of electrons and electromagnetic radiation, pathological kleptomaniac and playboy Lupin has gotten away with his fair share of crimes.
Stealing the Pleiades collection should have been child’s play, but the thief finds that his luck has run out. Captured, Lupin is confident that he will get away from this, just like he always had, only to land in a new rehabilitation program that has been put in place for repeat offenders like him.
Every month I publish a story much like this one for my $3+ Patreon subscribers, and they get to read it a whole month ahead of everyone else. What’s more, patrons have access to a high-priority queue for story requests and get to vote on what story I’ll be writing for that month. Every little bit helps and is much appreciated, so if you like my work, it would mean a lot if you pledged to my Patreon.