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Ascent Chapter 1 – The Brave

Updated: Apr 29

The prison wagon jostled as it traversed the countryside. The roads through this part of the country had not been well maintained, not since the empire fell, and the wagon wheels seemed to have a knack for finding every single rock and divot in the path. The constant shaking of the wagon jarred the prisoner contained within, who found it easier to focus on criticizing the state of the roads than thinking about the danger she was in.

Kneeling on the floor of the wagon with her hands bound behind her by multiple shackles, Ariadna was having a very hard time resting during the long journey back to Tabharos. With the way her captivity was going, she would arrive sleep-deprived, worn down, well raped, and exhausted… already half way to being defeated. The Inquisitors probably knew that this journey would take a toll on her – It would have her too weak to fight when she was presented to the High Priest who had ripped down her faith as a gift as he would begin her torment and torture.

Ariadna, Fallen Goddess of Fortune

Ariadna’s mouth felt dry from the ring gag that had been placed into her mouth… Without the ability to close her lips, the dry air and dust were able to get into her mouth. She knew all too well that the guards did not care about her need for water. They would probably give her some when they stopped, but they were not going to make any special accommodations for her. Ariadna considered herself lucky enough that she could turn her head to look outside of the bars of the caged wagon… not that there was much to see. The landscape was dry and dusty, and not too many travelers passed this way. She recognized the path as the one that led to the village of Vadna… a place she had passed through incognito before. The people there were mostly followers of Karn. She did not look forward to meeting any of them and knew the fate that awaited her the moment the wagon stopped for the evening.

The broken road caused the wagon to toss her about. Rest and sleep before she arrived at the village wouldn’t be possible. Ariadna leaned her head up against one of the metal bars. Her eyes gazed out across the landscape to see the stone buildings and houses of Vadna with resignation as they slowly came into view.

The village did not house many people. Three hundred at most, but it was enough that Ariadna did not want to be here. She realized that once she got into the city, any hope of escape would be much harder. She desperately rolled over onto her back, using her shackled feet to beat against the door to the wagon. No other attempt to get it open had succeeded, but maybe this time would be different. Perhaps if she could kick hard enough, the door would fly open, and she could escape.

Alas, the door did not budge at all. The heavy wood and iron locks that secured it were too well made and maintained. In truth, Ariadna wasn’t sure what her plan would have been if she did get free. She was still shackled and chained. She would have rolled out onto the road with no way to run. Even if none of the guards riding along with wagon noticed her escape, she would be left helpless in the desert without food or water, and she was as mortal as her followers now. Worse, she probably wouldn’t be able to get far enough to die lost and alone… they would realize that she had come free, and be back for her with vengeance in their hearts.

Ariadna took a deep breath as the wagon pulled up to the village. The roads leading into the village were much smoother, but that was the only good thing about this place. Ari could hear the guards talking to the watchmen that stood by the road.

“What are you transporting?” Ariadna could see it was a guard at the road that led to the main square of the village. He had a sword at his hip and wore a dull red tunic and breeches.

“Prisoner transport,” one of the guards on horseback said. “Taking this one back to Tabharos. We need a place to rest for the evening, though. Figure the townspeople could have some fun with her before we leave in the morning.” Ariadna could not see the guard as he spoke… He was out of range of her sight.

She did see the watchmen at the gate step forward, peering into the caged wagon. “This one is beautiful…” he said with a leer. “She would fetch a handsome price among the faithful here if you were willing to part with her.”

The guard driving the wagon laughed. “We can’t have that. I’m under orders to bring this priestess back to Tabharos. Even though she is chained, she is dangerous.”

The watchmen by the cage tapped his finger against the metal bars. “Very well, then. You can proceed to the village square. Secure her there, and then the townspeople can have their fun.” The watchmen returned to his post. Ariadna felt the wagon lunge forward as the horses pulled it. She bounced along the path for a little further into the village before it stopped.

The guards that had brought her here unlocked the wagon, opening the door to pull her out. They roughly dragged her over to the side of the wagon. The wagon had a chain that secured to the collar around her neck and pulled her down, so she was bent over at the waist.

Ariadna struggled as best as she could but was unable to do anything more than move her feet a few inches. The guards grabbed the curve of her reddened ass, smirking to himself as he felt up the vulnerable girl before they turned to the crowd and smacked her ass. People slowly began to gather, sneering at nude priestess. “This one is a priestess of the Whore-Goddess,” the guard announced. “She has caused great suffering for the faithful of Karn through the land. You can do what you want with her until morning as long as she is not killed.”

After their announcement, the guards stepped back. A few watched, but most went to drink or bunk. Ariadna glanced around to the gathering crowd as the guards left her to her fate. These were people that hated her. They didn’t know she was the goddess, but they didn’t like her followers either. One of the men broke the silence as he stepped up behind her. He grabbed onto her hips, rubbing his hands across her bare ass.

“A follower of Ariadna, eh?” he growled. “Didn’t know there was a whore in the empire still dumb enough to do that. You should convert to Karn, the true God of Fate. We can show you the pleasure that he can bring you.” The man tugged his brown breeches down, baring his cock. Ariadna felt the rigid pole slide between her legs. She wiggled as she attempted to avoid the inevitable, but to no effect… a second later, she felt the pain in her sore hole as the thick head of his shaft penetrated her pussy. She could feel the girth of the shaft stretch her out.

The man was not gentle with her. His anger and disdain for Ariadna showed in the way that he took her. His cock plunged rapidly into her passage, still wet with the leavings of the last time the guards had raped her. The sexual onslaught filled her completely. The sudden push of having it so deep inside nearly pushed all the air out of her lungs.

The crowd that had gathered cheered as they watched Ariadna getting raped by the man. Tears rolled down her face… this was a new indignity. Being raped by her brother and his Furies was awful. Being raped by his priests was an utter defilement. Being raped by his soldiers was a dismissive, disgusting humiliation. This man… he wasn’t even a part of the temple. Just a worshipper of her brother… and that was enough for him to hate her so completely that he would abuse her. She could feel every rapid thrust of his cock into her pussy. Her silky walls constricted, attempting to push him out and make it more difficult for him, but that only goaded the man on to fuck her harder and more roughly. She felt his hips slapping into her ass. Every thrust of his cock felt like an eternity until the man groaned out in pleasure, flooding her pussy with his cum.

Ariadna only had a moment of reprieve before another man came up behind her. This one pressed the head of his cock against her swollen sphincter. Her eyes went wide as she knew what was about to happen. She’d been taken in her rear a thousand times, but each and every time she resisted like it was the very first… it always hurt. She tugged on the chain that secured her to the wagon as she struggled, but it only rattled in her frantic attempts to avoid her fate.

The plump head of the man’s cock pressed against her bottom. It stretched her tight hole open, pushing directly into her ass. His passage was eased by the dozens of assrapes she had suffered recently before him, but that did nothing to reduce to pain to Ariadna. His hands gripped her hips roughly as he took her, his cock thrusting into her ass, pounding hard into her. Her eyes shut as she tried to endure the painful abuse and rape of the villagers.

She heard one of the men speak to one of the guards. “Can you give her chain some slack? I want to use her mouth.”

“Yes, hold on.” The guard came back to the wagon, letting out the chain. It slid out enough that allowed the new man to turn her to the side. Now she had the man behind her fucking her ass and this man in front of her with his hands on her head. The guard poured lightly-wined water into her mouth… not for her benefit, but just so that her mouth wasn’t completely dry when this man pushed his cock into her.

Ariadna saw the rigid pole standing out from the man’s hips, looking dirty and disgusting, and smelling even worse. It didn’t matter… she couldn’t do a thing to stop him as he pushed the head of his cock into her mouth and down across her tongue. The ring gag kept her from being able to close her mouth. It made her a plaything for the followers of Karn. Her ass burned as she was fucked from behind and now, she had this man’s cock in her mouth.

A burning fire of hatred slowly built inside her. As a goddess, she had been a kind woman… a gentle and caring soul, but being trapped in a mortal body affected her. She felt more emotions than before. Her attitude toward the followers of Karn were changing. She despised them. She worried that she was falling too far from her position as a goddess and may never be able to return. The way that her mouth was clogged wasn’t going to stop her from using her magic to burn them all… she was far, far stronger than any of these fools realized, her divine magic having not abandoned her completely. This bondage wouldn’t stop her. Ari could do it…

But the goddess Ariadna wouldn’t have… and she was terrified that if she changed too much, the heavens would forever be lost to her. That she would never fit her position as the Lady of Fortune again… and that terror was greater than her hatred.

For now.

The man fucking her mouth pushed his cock in deep until his shaft pulsed, swelling beyond her lips as his balls churned against her chin. She could feel the sticky seed sliding down the back of her throat. The man behind her now pushed his cock in, roughly fucking her from behind. She could hear the chanting from the crowd. The followers of Karn putting down Ariadna. They wanted revenge against her. They hated her, and right now, Ariadna struggled not to return the sentiment.

The villager that fucked her ass buried his cock deep into her bottom. The warm flood of hot cum flooded into her bottom, the sticky seed from his loins only temporarily soothing the burning sensation from the fucking before beginning to make it worse, mingling with the remnants of the last not-even-she-knew how many who had fucked her guts. He pulled out of her, slapping her ass cheek.

Now that Ariadna was turned to the side of the wagon, she could see there were more villages here than she had thought – All of them wanting a piece of her, and they all wanted to enact revenge against the Goddess of Fortune. It seemed like every man in the village had turned out. Married or promised, courting or not, none of them seemed to care… the supernatural hatred of anyone connected to her impelling them forward and making not even their women care. It wasn’t even cheating to rape one of the priestesses of Ariadna. The only saving grace for her at this moment was that they didn’t know she was the actual goddess they despised or she could only imagine how much rougher their treatment of her would be. More men moved in toward her, ready to rape her and fuck her and use her purely for their enjoyment.

Jaymes and Kaya didn’t have much of a team anymore… just a few roaming pairs of triplets of former Guardians of the church roaming the countryside just like they were doing, looking for others sympathetic to their cause. Increasingly, Jaymes had started to lose hope that they would find anyone new. There were too many followers of Karn out there, and any remaining followers of Ariadna who hadn’t been captured had long since gone into hiding. The few that they had discovered were not willing to openly go up against the much more aggressive followers of Karn, and he couldn’t even blame them.

Their numbers were just too few. The followers of Karn were growing more powerful every day that Ariadna was gone. What had happened to their goddess that she was not answering their prayers? The words of the church of Karn were lies, obviously, but why was she not able to help them? Surely, she could see the chaos and destruction that an out of control God of Misfortune was having on the countryside?

The look of disappointment and despair must have shown on his face as he heard Kaya speak. “Jaymes, do not worry. All hope is not lost yet. We may yet find someone sympathetic to the goddess.” She reached her hand over to pat her hand against his.

Jaymes clutched the reins for his horse, giving a nod. He might be losing his faith in the world in general… but his wife, he would still follow anywhere. “I know. We may yet find a person that has the power to reverse this. I just… fear we won’t ever find her again.”

There was no need to clarify… Kaya knew exactly what he was talking about… the mysterious priestess who called herself Ari that had come to their rescue before. Stronger than any priestess they had ever seen. The church of Karn after her as the High Priestess of their fallen goddess, and Jaymes believed that as well… certainly, Ariadna had blessed the woman.

“Do not fret. I think we shall yet discover her and find those that will turn the tide.” The two of them had been following rumors of the woman for the last three years… most of them had proven to be ghosts, but the ones they hand found had truly been her hadn’t stopped them from being too slow. They needed to catch up to her, to offer their services to the priestess. To offer to lay their lives down for her safety.

They had heard rumors of a Temple being founded in Pantaglin, and it had been the most excitement Jaymes had seen in his wife in years…. for who but Ari would dare to found another temple? They had been on the other side of the continent by then, however, and it had taken them most of a month to make their way here. Jaymes didn’t have the strength to even pretend the rumor being a bust wasn’t an enormous disappointment. There had been a temple there apparently, and recently, but sources of information in the town said that it had abruptly vanished overnight, leaving it abandoned… and while the priestess in charge had been blonde, they had found no sign that she was the High Priestess they sought. Kaya, he knew, suspected foul play anyway, but there was no actual evidence of any… and no one left who had seen anything when they had arrived, half a week later.

Their lead was gone, so they had gone in search of a new one.

Jaymes hadn’t picked the direction… he had just followed Kaya as she decided which city they would ride for. Two towns and more than a week later, they could look into the distance and see the city of Vadna. It wasn’t anywhere near what he would choose as a first choice of a place to stay, but both of them had been riding most of the night, their horses tired and weary. Neither of them specifically appeared on any wanted posted they had seen. Even in a town deep in Karn’s sphere of influence, two traveling mercenaries wouldn’t attract too much notice.

They were able to reach the entrance to the village and they didn’t see a night watchman. No one paid them any mind as they rode into the town… until Kaya rode up alongside him. “We’re being watched.”

Jaymes stiffened but didn’t turn, nodding slowly. “Where?”

“Your right shoulder,” she whispered, keeping her eyes locked ahead. Slowly, Jaymes shrugged in a broad yawn, using the opportunity to raise a small piece of mirrored glass from his belt and scan behind him. “On the wall,” she whispered.

Jaymes saw him. A hooded figure wrapped in a cloak, in the shadows by the wall. The figure blended in well, but not perfectly… and its head was slowly watching them and they moved down the street. “Could be nothing,” he said slowly. “Just a thief.”

“Let’s find out,” Kaya disagreed, steering their horses down a side street and out of view. As soon as they were, she dropped down off her horse and flattened herself against the side of the building, waiting while Jaymes did the same. “You notice anything?”

“Town seems suspiciously empty,” he said. The two of them had not survived so long helping every priestess they came across without being cautious… his hand was instantly on his sword, eyes flicking left and right as he looked for any ambush. “Trap, you think?”

“Not sure,” Kaya said, her voice low. “But something is up. Circle around.” Together they did, moving around the block of buildings and seeing only a handful of people walking the streets, far less than the hour should contain. They worked their way back to the wall from the other direction, and Jaymes watched as his wife spread out away from his, disappearing into the shadows. Doing his part, he simply emerged out in the open, walking towards the cloaked figure with a purpose.

He saw him, of course… and he bolted. Jaymes gave chase, but only as a formality, only to keep him running… until Kaya emerged from the shadows like a ghost, one strong arm grabbing the slender figure around the neck and shoulders and spinning him hard into the wall. A brief and decidedly one-sided struggle ensued, that ended with Kaya holding the cloaked figure immobile in the shadow while Jaymes strode up and…

And it was a woman.

A dark haired and beautiful woman in her mid to late twenties was no longer struggling beneath the cloaking, looking at Kaya with wide eyes. “I know you,” she said softly. “I… I know you! It’s you! You… you have to come with me!”

Jaymes looked at her. She didn’t look familiar, but she didn’t look threatening either. Beneath the dark cloak, he caught a glimpse of gold fabric and his breath caught. It couldn’t be… no one would wear something like that but a priestess, surely, but what priestess would be so foolish? They had rescued many, but… Jaymes was fairly sure he would remember all of their names. “Please, let me show you something!”

Kaya, her hand on her sword, traded a glance with Jaymes… and then released the woman, stepping back slightly and letting her resettle the cloak around her. “Come with me!” she said, pulling the hood more tightly around her face as she held up a finger to her shadowed mouth, and then beckoned her to follow.

Jaymes traded a glance with his wife before they followed the cloaked woman as she headed towards one of the walls that surrounded the village, mounting a set of stairs leading up one of them. Jaymes noticed a notable lack of guards up on the town walls and once again thought that something was suspicious here.

“Do you know her?” Jaymes asked.

“No…” Kaya whispered back. “But she has a mask strapped to her side beneath the cloak.” The two traded another glance. There was only one reason to have a metal mask and to hide it. They followed as the cloaked woman lead them walked perhaps a quarter rotation around the village before she stopped, pointing over the edge of the wall back towards the center of town, and only then did Jaymes stepped up to peer over the top of it. He could see a wagon in the middle of the village square. A woman with golden hair was secured to it, chained in place like in a stockade. Perhaps two dozen of Karn’s soldiers stood around, and at least one man who looked like an Inquisitor. Dozens of villagers, including many of the men who were probably supposed to be watching the walls, surrounded her even at this late hour, fucking her… raping her.

It was a depressingly familiar sight to two Guardians.

Jaymes hated seeing it on general principle, and would have for anyone, but the fact that someone was being so brutally abused in public told him that this woman was almost certainly a priestess… they would need to find a way to save her. That was problematic, given that she was under heavy guard… but he wasn’t sure why the mysterious woman had specifically found them and brought them here. Just that there was a priestess to save?

Then the man that had his cock in her mouth pulled back, and Jaymes got the full picture and gasped. It was the priestess they had been searching for this entire time. That was Ari.

Looking over at Kaya, he could see that she had noticed as well. Her eyes had narrowed to dangerous slits, filled with rage. His wife had fought furiously to save priestesses from this kind of fate even before it had befallen her… and this woman had been the one to save her and Amellisan from that fate. She had her sword drawn and looked like she was about to leap over the wall and storm into the city square to fight her way through the whole town.

Jaymes understood. He really did. He still reached over to quickly grab her by the wrist but she was already sliding down the wall, trembling with frustration. “There are too many of them down there, Love,” he said with a ragged edge to his voice. “Too many guards. We can’t do anything here.”

Kaya looked over the wall, obviously seeing what Jaymes witnessed. Another man had replaced the one that had just fucked her mouth. His cock pushing past her lips with his hands gripped into her hair. Another man stood behind her with his hands on her hips and appeared to be fucking her pussy.

“I know,” Kaya hissed in obvious frustration.

“You knew, didn’t you?” he asked. “You didn’t pick this direction randomly. You picked the city on the lines back towards Tabharos.”

“I didn’t know it was her,” she said, voice pained. “I didn’t think there would be so many of them, either…”

“Does it matter?” Jaymes said, honestly considering. “She saved our lives… I can’t stand by while a follower of Ariadna, a devout follower, by the way, is getting raped and abused. And this one I owe my life to… and yours. We need to go down there and rescue her, or else by the goddess herself, what are we even doing?”

Shaking her head, clearly upset, Kaya reached over to put her hand on her husband’s. “We can’t go down there right now. If we go down and try to fight, we both die, and the rebellion dies with us. She’s the most powerful follower of Ariadna I have ever seen. We can’t fail to set her free. If we are to die, let it not be in vain.”

Slowly, Jaymes turned his attention to the cloaked figure. He motioned her closer. “If you led us up here, I assume that mask my wife felt was no decoration. Who are you?”

Fingers reached up to grip the hood of the cloak, pulling it backward. Long black hair spilled out from the cloak, and the soft, feminine features of a stunningly beautiful woman were revealed in the waning sunlight… perhaps a little older than Kaya. Now that Jaymes could see her face more clearly, he also got a brief glimpse of the golden dress at the neckline of the cloak.

Nira, Priestess of Ariadna… kind of

“My name is Nira,” she said quietly, and mentally Jaymes reduced his guess as to her age. Mid twenties at the oldest… her eyes were older than her voice. “I have been following this caravan since it left Pantaglin… I arrived in town less than an hour before the trap was sprung. They are taking her back to the temple of Tabharos. I fear if they reach the temple, she might not survive the night.”

“Are you a priestess?” Kaya asked quietly, the sound of the words barely carrying beyond their ears. “Does Ariadna still answer your calls? Surely you can do something to help us save her now…” Jaymes turned to hear Kaya with her statement. He knew that his wife would explore any option to rescue the golden-haired woman.

Nira shook her head a few times, bowing her head in shame. “I’m… I’m not a priestess of Ariadna, I’m afraid… but I am sympathetic to her cause. I don’t have the goddesses blessing… not like she does.” She looked over at Ari’s continuing rape. “I’ve been trying to find her for years.”

“As have we,” Jaymes said sadly.

“I heard of a new temple being founded in Pantaglin, and I knew that she would be there… I knew that Karn’s men would come for the temple, and she would be there to try to rescue them,” she shook her head sadly. “I was lucky I arrived late, because it was worse than that… there never was a temple. It was a trap… for her.” Nira slowly looked over at the raped priestess, tears welling in her haunted eyes. “I would have been caught it in myself if I had arrived but a day sooner, I’d have been captured with the others.” She sighed. “I’ve been following this caravan for about two weeks now, trying to find a way to get her out… when I first saw you in the last town. I’ve been watching you since then.”

Kaya tensed slightly. “You know who we are?”

She nodded slowly. “I’ve guessed from your descriptions. The rebels of Vasali?”

Jaymes rose up to lean over the wall. It only rose up to waist height, and as he looked down he took a deep breath. “We need to get her out, Kaya.”

Kaya nodded in agreement. “I know this is not what you want to hear, but we need help. I… I think I have a plan to get her free, but we must ride to Chaza to the east.”

“Chaza?” he protested. “That’s at least three days away! We can’t even be sure she will be here when we get back!” Jaymes stood up defiantly, pointing to the men that surrounded Ari. “They are raping her now! We need to do something!”

The look Kaya gave him was filled with understanding. She knew, as well as he did, that he wouldn’t drop this. That he felt he owned everything to that priestess… and that she felt the same way. “We can’t throw our lives away. Here… now… is not the time. We’ll need to find them again.”

Nira spoke up then. “They’ve been making for Tabharos almost as the crow flies… but not quickly. We don’t have forever, but we can make a good guess which cities they will pass through on the way.”

“Good enough,” Jaymes said, looking at Kaya. “Right?”

His fierce wife smiled. “Right.”

Nira nodded and put her cloak back up, walking back down the stairs. Kaya looked back at the Ari, and her face hardened as sharp as her sword before she looked back to Jaymes. “Do not worry. I have a plan to free her. It will cost quite a bit, though… and we need to find Amellisan.

After a rough night of being raped and abused by the villagers, the guards were securing Ariadna into the back of the wagon once more. Ariadna felt sore and humiliated from the events. She didn’t want to be here. Everything hurt. She was losing hope for getting free from her captors. She would be hand-delivered directly to Tabharos and would be subjected to more torture by Karn’s followers. Jaras was a brutal man, and always had been. It was even odds that she would discover if she was truly as mortal as she feared before long, because she doubted she would survive his direct attentions for too long.

As rough as the roads were, Ariadna could no longer stay awake. She curled up onto the floor of the wagon, drifting off to something that could only technically be called sleep. Sheer exhaustion had taken its toll on her body, dropping her unceremoniously down into the dark of unconsciousness. She did not sleep for long, but it was better than nothing.

The wagon rolled forward, seemingly intent on hitting every rock and hole in the road. The constant shaking of the wagon brought Ariadna out of her slumber. She could see the path winding in front of them toward a river bend.

“Whoa!” The driver of the wagon called out. The other men on horseback stopped their horses as well. She could hear them rummaging around in front of the wagon. The horses were drinking from the river. The guards must have stopped to let them rest. She laid back down in the bottom of the cage, hoping to sleep more before they pulled back out.

The sounds of the wagon locks opening were enough to let Ariadna know that she wasn’t going to be getting more sleep. A guard reached into the cage, grabbing onto her hair. He roughly pulled her backward, dragging her out of the wagon.

If Ariadna were able to speak, she would have told them how much she hated them right now. The followers of Karn had devolved into violent brutes. Their anger toward Ariadna manifested as sexual deviancy. How many of her priestesses had subjugated themselves before the followers of Karn? How many more were raped and killed?

Ariadna knew that she needed to be free to stop this madness, needed to find her way back to the heavens, but she had never felt further away from there now as she felt her shackles being secured to the rear of the wagon, forcing her to be bent over. Her naked form exposed her completely as she bent at the waist, her perfect ass and pussy on full display.

“We’ll be in Tabharos soon,” The guard laughed, rubbing his hand across her ass cheeks. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t have as much fun with you as possible before we deliver you to Tabharos. After what you’ve done, Jaras would be happy with you if it looked like someone had driven a wagon through your cunt.” He pulled his breeches down to bare his cock to the air as he spoke. Ariadna felt it slide between her buttocks before it glided further down to caress over her pussy lips.

If she could scream her disgust, she would. As it were, all that she could manage were loud groans and grunts. Words could not be formed, and what words she could say were not comprehensible. “Even after all of this, you still have some fire in you. We need to fuck that out of you.” The guard laughed as he grabbed her hips roughly. The head of his thick, bulbous cock pressed hard against her pussy lips. She let out a loud moan when it sank inside of her. It stretched her out, sinking deeper and further inside.

She wanted to burn them all.

Ariadna rocked her hips backward, attempting to unbalance the guard so he would pull his cock free. Her actions were not seen as a sign of defiance but instead as eagerness. “Oh, so you like that? Hotshot priestess of the whore-goddess wants her hot little pussy fucked?” He slapped his hand roughly across her bare ass cheek.

Ariadna grunted with the hit over her bottom. Her eyes closed, enduring the rough treatment as the man’s cock slammed inside of her repeatedly. He got so rough that his upward thrusts into her raw passage caused her feet to leave the ground temporarily.

The hot blast of his cum was flooding her insides before too long. Ariadna bowed her head against the edge of the wagon. She was going to be a prisoner of Karn forever. She silently prayed to anyone that would listen. Any god or goddess that was still sympathetic to her plight.

Her prayers must have fallen on deaf ears as she felt another guard behind her. This one thrust his cock into her roughly without so much as a warning. His hands gripped her hair, tugging her head backward. Ariadna grunted with the rough fucking. His cock was not as big as the last guard, but it still hurt. She could feel the slamming of his cock into her silken folds. The guard only fucked her pussy for a few minutes before he pulled out.

With only the slickness of her pussy coating his cock, she could feel him pressing the head of his dick up against her ass once more. This time he pushed against the tightness of her rear. That cock sank into her ass to stretch it open. The pain was so much worse with her ass will raw and sore from last night’s abuse.

The rough, calloused hands of the guard pressed down onto her back, keeping her bent over to accept his cock. Ariadna thought back to the times when she was a goddess. She would have answered the prayers of her followers if they were in her position. No one would dare attack one of her priestesses like this… She would have favored them with good fortune. A miracle would have happened. Rescuers would have arrived free her at the right moment. There would have been salvation.

No such blessings were coming to Ariadna today. The other gods and goddesses were not listening to her silent prayers. They were either too afraid of Karn or Taelin. In the eyes of the gods, she was a disgrace and not worthy of help. The only help she could depend on was of her followers. The followers that were still devout to her cause… and she had let most of them become slaves. Out here, in the middle of Karn’s territories, the likelihood of coming across one of her followers was dimming. Even if there was one follower out here, would they sacrifice their life for a chance to free what they thought was just another follower of Ariadna?

The guard fucking her ass from behind groaned as he pushed his cock into her ass a final time. The warm trickle of his seed sunk into her ass. She felt that cock pull out of her, and then he was unhooking the chain that secured her neck to the wagon. He forced her back into the wagon. No gentleness to his actions. He just roughly tossed her in the back of the wagon, slamming the cage closed.

The sound of those iron locks fastening again made Ariadna’s heart sink. She wouldn’t get out of this easily. She needed help. Any help would do. Distraught over her situation, she leaned her head against the floor of the cage. The wagon leaped forward. The sound of the horse’s hooves galloping over the road echoed into her ears.

Three more days of travel passed by before the wagon stopped. It had arrived in the next town. This was a bigger location than Vadna. Baruck was a major trade town. The walls were built higher, and there were more people here. It served as a trading destination for many surrounding cities. Centrally located to most destinations in this part of the former empire, it was the perfect spot for the horses to rest… and for the guards to let the townsfolk have another around of fun with Ariadna.

Ari could feel her stomach turn. It was bad enough at Vadna, but now there were nearly ten times the people here. Not all of them were followers of Karn in a town such as this, of course… but the sheer size of the town meant that there were more than twice as many that would want a turn with her. She had given up hope that even a single one of his followers would show mercy on her… or even that one of them would not want to hurt and rape her. They had such hatred and rebuke for Ariadna. The fallen goddess had seen the way that her brother’s followers had changed. More violent and sexually aggressive. Their god fueled them with their distaste for his sister and everything she had represented.

The guards laughed as they dragged Ari out of the back of the wagon, securing her to the wagon and making their speech as they had done in Vadna. The town’s people of Baruck were more than willing to show Ariadna how her followers were treated.

Kaya rode her horse as fast as she could to the city of Chaza. It was a major coastal city, a shipping town with temples to many gods… but most importantly, it was where Amellisan had relocated to after the attack on her estate in Vasali. The woman was a friend and an ally, a former sponsor of the church of Ariadna and its guardians… and one more person who owed her life to Ari’s intervention. Kaya had no doubt that she would be sympathetic to their cause – the only question in her mind was if she would still be in the city. It had been more than a year since they had last seen her, but she had to take that chance: What her plan required in order to to free the priestess from her captors was going to cost a lot of money, far more than she and Jaymes had… and while the noblewoman wasn’t a limitless font of resources, especially after having to leave so much behind after her attack in her home, she still had far more to draw on than anyone else who could be sympathetic to them

Kaya rode next to her husband with their new acquaintance Nira riding closely behind, and their horses looked half dead by the time they reached the walls of the city. If they had ridden slower, the horses would have been well rested and could have made the return trip… but time was not on their side. They had to make time. Hopefully Amellisan would be able to provide them with fresh horses when they arrived at the city.

With three days of hard days of riding with only brief rests to let the horses drink and cool off and barely a handful of hours to sleep, they were able to reach the city of Chaza. The massive coastal city spanned the horizon line of the shore. Huge sailing ships docked at the ports, and the stories high wall that surrounded it were a beckon to the strength and power of the city.

Kaya knew that Amellisan would listen to what he needed and hoped that she would be able to provide. The city might have harbored some of the followers of Ariadna, but there was no way to be certain. Not to mention, Karn’s followers and spies were everywhere. They were actively seeking out anyone that still supported his sister. Capture or death… or fates like that befalling the golden-haired priestess Ari… awaited anyone the Inquisitors found that still sympathized with the Goddess of Fortune.

They couldn’t risk being found here… not when things were this dire. The longer they spent in this city, the closer that wagon caravan would get to Tabharos. Entering the city of Karn after her would probably be a death sentence… but Kaya would do it anyway. Jaymes wouldn’t even be trying to hold her back… he’d be right there with her. They had to free her before she got there.

Jaymes and Kaya traversed the streets of Chaza, heading to the home of Amellisan, where they had helped her relocate. She had not made herself publicly known, so she might still reside here, even a year later. Upon reaching the domicile of their former sponsor, Kaya knocked on the door. A small slit in the door opened to reveal a pair of feminine eyes. The slit closed quickly, and the three of them could hear a latch being undone. The door opened, and there stood the noblewoman Amellisan.

Amellisan, Noblewoman

Her hand placed over her mouth, and she gasped. “Thank the goddess that you are alive. It’s been so long, I feared the worst.” She hugged them both as tears of joy streamed down her face. “I thought that Karn’s people would have found you by now. I’m so glad that I was wrong.”

She stepped aside, motioning into the house. “Please, Kaya, Jaymes, come inside. You must get off the streets before you are seen.”

Kaya entered into the house with Jaymes and Nira following along behind him. Amellisan took notice of the extra person, looking over at her. “Who is this?”

Nira lowered her riding cloak, revealing her face. “I’m Nira. I’m a… I’m a believer of Ariadna. I helped them find Ari. We need her help to restore Ariadna to power. The followers of Karn had captured her.”

Amellisan swallowed… she recognized that name without difficulty. She had never seen the priestess who had saved her life… just heard her voice, but she knew of the priestess that had saved the guardians and her both from the Inquisitor. She would be dead now, or worse, if not for Ari… it was a debt that needed to be repaid.

Amellisan didn’t hesitate further before she led the three of them to a large table. She sat down in a chair. “Well, I know how important this is. It’s obvious that you didn’t come here for a social visit. You must need something, Kaya.” She smiled. “It’s yours. How can I help?”

Kaya never liked asking for help. More specifically, she hated asking for money… and that is whats she needed. The blonde woman bowed her head, looking at the floor. “My lady, I know that resources are tight at the moment, but… we need black powder. A lot of it.”

She blew out a soft breath. Black powder was very, very, expensive. The only ones that knew how to mine and refine it were the followers of Draegen, the god of mining and industry. It was one of the most sought-after resource for its ability to light fires and explode if in large quantities. “That is a hefty request…”

Kaya nodded slowly. “I know.”

“I know where it can be obtained,” Amellisan said slowly, considering, “but purchasing something like that risks a great deal of exposure. I’m afraid I must ask a favor from you as well in return.” She swallowed, look as uncomfortable as Kaya had felt. “Chaza is… not safe anymore. The city has become overrun with Karnites, and I do not feel safe here anymore. My actions to shelter and protect Ariadna’s priestesses and worshippers have surely been noticed. If I get the black powder for you, you must take me with you.”

Kaya had not expected that at all. He thought Chaza would have been safe for Amellisan, but if what she said was true, then her life was increasingly in danger. The longer she operated out of the city, the greater the chance of her getting caught or found out would be. And she couldn’t be responsible for that again.

The look of her husband’s face told Kaya what she needed to know… that Jaymes was in agreement with her. “Alright. We will take you with us. Get us the black powder and some fresh horses if you can. As soon as you have it, we need to head out. The priestess is being taken to Tabharos, and the longer we wait, the harder it will be to rescue her.”

Nira looked back at Jaymes. “Much as I hate to say it, four people is hardly better to take on a town with than three. Even with the element of surprise, we may have seconds to act before Karn is on us. We need to find others that can help us.”

Amellisan had a dour look on her face. “Most of the followers of Ariadna I’ve found, I’ve used my people to get far away from here… and while I have spies and agents, that’s all they are. They have sympathies, or loyalty to coin, but they aren’t true believers. There are few here that can help us, and it may take too long to find them.”

James slammed his fist into the table. “Damn it! There has to be someone that we can get. Anyone. What about that assassin? The so called Weeping Siren? She has killed plenty of Karn’s men… She can help us. Are you able to put the word out? Find her for us?”

The sound of footsteps approaching echoed through the home. Jaymes and Kaya both drew their swords, rising to their feet to face the entryway into the room even as Nira and Amellisan backed up toward the far wall, prepared for anything. If the followers of Karn had infiltrated her home, it would be a fight to survive and escape.

Jaymes held his sword steady, prepared to strike at whoever entered. The darkness of the hallway melted away as a shadow emerged from the recesses. A tall figure with brilliant red hair emerged with dark black leather covering most of her her body, but the figure most certainly was female. Black cloth covered the bottom half of her face, hiding her from view.

She reached up to grip the cloth, tugging it down to show her face completely… the woman was young, but her expression made her look far older. Hard and determined. “There is no need to seek her out,” the woman said, green eyes shining in the dim lantern. “She already here.”

Leila, the Weeping Siren

Ariadna was not sure how much longer this would continue. She had been tied up in the town center for nearly two days. Her legs were tired, and all she wanted to do was sleep. Her body felt heavy and weary. Her muscles ached and radiated pain through her entire core. She barely managed to stay standing most of the time. The few times that she found relief from her aching leg muscles was when one of the villagers decided to take their revenge out on a priestess of Ariadna. They would roughly grab her by the hips and fuck her ruthlessly until they came deep inside of her. No orifice was protected from these heathens. Even the paltry cleaning that the guards allowed her hadn’t come since she’d begun, and Ariadna had started to reek of sex from the constant abuse. She could feel the dried, sticky semen sticking to her ass cheeks and the inside of her thighs, and could both feel and smell it on her chin and cheeks where the seed of the town’s folk had dried on her.

The few times that she’d even seen the guards, they would either abuse her for themselves or go running off with a harlot from the local tavern, full of spirits and alcohol. That might be Ariadna’s one saving grace. Her captors had become complacent with their duties and the job of transporting her to Tabharos. If they truly knew who she was, they would have never stopped for this long… but she couldn’t find a way to take advantage yet. Her ability for fire had been known to the Inquisitors… hence her all-metal bonds.

What little sleep that Ariadna did get was not restful in the slightest. Her body was held upright by the collar and chain about her neck. She would lean against the side of the wagon with her legs tucked under her. Her eyes closed for brief moments before she would be awoken again to be used by another person.

On the third day in town, if Ariadna had been more alert, she might have noticed five cloaked figures moving through the town square. While she saw them, the dark-hooded men and women didn’t stand out from the other town folk as they moved through the crowd, avoiding contact with other people as they entered one of the nearby taverns and avoided her sight further.

Nira felt ashamed for what she had done in Ariadna’s name, making false blessings and faking miracles in the name of Ariadna. She had only done so in an attempt to keep the faith… but though her intentions were good, the eventual fall out of being caught had caused those who had relied on her great harm. Not only had they been raped and tortured by those they had thought their friends, it had equally damaged the faith of many of them. Most of those who had suffered alongside her in Earna had since denounced their faith in the goddess, replacing her for a god that would listen to them. At least none of them had chosen to serve Karn instead…

Now the priestesses and followers of Ariadna that remained faithful were being hunted and persecuted by Karn. Their numbers were dwindling. It might be too late to restore Ariadna to power. If too many of her followers perished, then not enough of them would be there to restore her to glory. Goddesses were able to perform miracles because the people had faith. Right now, Nira knew better than most that faith was in short supply.

Nira couldn’t help but feel that it was her fault. The priests of Karn had publicized what had happened in Earna far and wide… the false miracles, the empty blessings, the death of those who had relied on Ariadna for help. The whole situation had been made worse by her. She had done more damage by her con game than if she had left it alone. She had proved to herself that her judgment was… suspect, at best. Nira wasn’t the priestess that Ariadna deserved. That priestess was the one currently tied up at the center of Baruck.

There was much power and potential in this one woman. Ariadna had surely blessed her with not only power, but grace… a quiet confidence that had left a lasting impression on Nira after she had rescued her from captivity. The goddess touched her and possessed a faith stronger than she could ever hope to achieve. The goddess had blessed her with magic and a strong will. A desire to survive and fight for the goddess.

That wasn’t something Nira could claim. She shouldn’t even be here. The constant nagging in the back of her head told her that she was not the right person for this, but… There were no others. No one else was coming to take up the mantle and free the true priestess. She had to make things right with the goddess. There was no way she would disappoint the goddess again.

Leading Jaymes and Kaya to the top of the wall to show them what was happening to the priestess was the first step to right a list of wrongs. She knew that she had many sins to atone for. She would accompany them until the priestess was free. Then she would have begun to atone for what she had done. Then, maybe the High Priestess could tell her what she could do to earn the forgiveness of Ariadna for her actions.

Not like Leila. Her eyes followed the beautiful redhead as they moved, the younger woman riding behind them effortlessly. The Weeping Siren. She had been killing priests for years, and she was nearly a decade younger. She had explained that she had located Amellisan several months earlier, finding her through some priestesses she had helped get to Raegis and silencing any leaks that lead back to her… and that was how she had seen it when Kaya, Jaymes, and Nira had arrived. Nira wished she could do half as much.

The noblewoman Amellisan had acquired a keg of black powder for them from the temple of Draegen… a god known to be sympathetic to followers of the Goddess of Fortune. They were warned how powerful the powder was by a sympathetic priest who had taken one look at her golden mask and not asked any further questions over what they needed it for… he had only warned that whatever it was, it would not take much. Nira had felt uncomfortable pretending, again, to be a priestess… but it had helped. She could swallow her distaste. Then it had been a hard ride toward the town of Baruck, before her muscles had fully unwound from the last one.

They had arrived in the middle of the day. The horses didn’t come into the town with them, hidden just over the side of a nearby rise while they scoped out the town again. Kaya and Jaymes lead for the most part, and that was fine by Nira… she was only too happy to follow their lead and their judgment instead of relying on her own, making sure to keep the hood of her cloak up.

There was no need to worry about drawing attention to themselves, however… with a sour taste in her mouth, Nira noted that the townfolk here were far too busy with their constant rape of the priestess to pay them any heed. They moved through the crowd like shadows.

Jaymes had found one of the less populated taverns for them to occupy and plan their next move. Nira came into the tavern to sit down at the table with them. They sat in the back of the tavern, away from prying ears.

“We need to be ready,” Kaya spoke to them in a whispered tone, just in case anyone was eavesdropping on their conversation. Now, in a group, she seemed to slip into a role as a leader effortlessly. Once, Nira had been good at that. Now, she lacked the confidence. “The guards appear to not be in a hurry,” the warrior continued, “but that might change at any moment. They are drunk and will be sloppy. That will give us the advantage.”

“True enough, but what’s the plan?” the beautiful red-haired assassin said in a quiet, determined voice. Nira increasingly had difficulty keeping her eyes off the striking woman. She didn’t wear the face-wrap that would do nothing here but draw attention to her, but seeing her face proved at least as attention-grabbing for Nira, at least, and she had barely spoken twenty words since they had gone on the road, seeming to retreat inward instead. “The guards will be sloppy, but that doesn’t mean they won’t sober up when we try to rescue her.”

Kaya leaned over the table with both of her hands lying flat on the surface, a grim little smile on her face. “We have a plan for that. We are going to take the black powder and light it up. The fuse that we were provided will give us ten seconds at most before it explodes. The guards will rush it as will any other people around her.”

Jaymes grinned as he leaned back. He crossed one arm over his chest, pointing a finger from the other at Kaya and Nira. “That will be my job. You two will go in and rescue her. I will attack any stragglers that come your way, with the help of Leila. Hopefully, we can get her out of here without any injuries.”

Nira looked over at Amellisan. “And what is she going to be doing?” They all appeared to have an important role to play except for the noblewoman.

Kaya shrugged her shoulders. “Keeping the horses at the ready, of course. We will need them to make a hasty getaway. We shall have to wait for nightfall before we enact our plan.”

They talked for a little bit longer, working out the plan, but Nira’s eyes were largely on the assassin. The Weeping Siren. She had heard of her long before meeting her,, of course, but she hadn’t been expecting someone so young… or so incredibly beautiful. She largely remained quiet through the planning, nodding to show she understood, listening intently to the plan before when conversation was at last dying down, she leaned forward.

“There’s something else. I don’t feel right going into this without making one thing clear to all of you,” she said softly. “I will not be leaving her behind. I will die first.” She met all their eyes in turn. “That is not a normal priestess of Ariadna in that square. In fact… I don’t think she is a priestess at all. I’ve met her twice in my travels so far. This will be the third time that I have come across her. I’m…” she shook her head. “It’s mad, but… I’m all but positive she is not a priestess.”

Nira got confused by that statement. If the blonde-haired woman in the town square was not a priestess of Ariadna, how was she able to wield so much magic in the face of Karn’s followers? “I don’t understand. Who is she then?”

Leila looked at Nira, her green eyes shining. “You haven’t figured it out yet? No priestess of Ariadna has had that much power and potential. No priest or priestess of any god has been able to do what she had done. She’s not a priestess of Ariadna. She is Ariadna.”

Nira’s eyes went wide… but all it took was a glance at Jaymes, Kaya, and Amellisan’s to say all that needed to be said. They were surprised… but not shocked. Nira felt abruptly sure than each of them had their suspicions before now. And… and so had she, even if she had denied herself that foolish hope. When she had began her scam, she had been sure that Ariadna was dead, killed by Karn, but after her rescue… she had convinced herself that the goddess must still live. Why had she done that… if she hadn’t known, on some level. That woman out there… she was their goddess. Fallen from the heavens and in a mortal form. Nira suspected it was her when she was rescued from the temple years ago by Ari. She felt that she had met someone special that night. Now she knew for sure. Her goddess was here in this town.

If anything, it only filled her with more fear. She had already suffered so much, and she was only mortal now. Her fragile body could not withstand much more of the abuse. They had to get her out of here and to safety before she was delivered right into the hands of Karn’s High Priest.

“I only say this now,” Leila continued, “to make it perfectly clear. We don’t leave this town without her.” She looked between everyone, one at a time. Nira felt like she could get lost in those eyes as she met them. “I will die tomorrow before I leave her behind.”

Nira understood the sentiment. She couldn’t leave either, not now. Just hearing the words spoken out loud, knowing someone else had some to the same conclusion, made her feel less mad… it made it real. She had a second chance. A chance to prove herself to her goddess. To atone for her prior transgressions. She may never be a priestess of Ariadna, but she would be the most devout follower until the day she died. “I owe Ariadna my life,” Nira said softly. “If I die this day, I will have done so correcting a mistake.” Slowly, everyone else nodded.

There would be no retreat.

The five of them rose from their table to exit the tavern. Kaya said they needed to run reconnaissance on the caravan and guards. They had to be prepared for any eventuality. Nira found a vantage point to watch the square… they needed to know immediately if they planned on moving her.

Now that she knew that this was Ariadna, her hurt grew even heavier to see the goddess being used worse than any common whore. Not as many men were raping her as the first night when she was in Vadna, but she had been here multiple days by now, and there were still plenty that took pleasure in enacting revenge on the goddess. A brute of a man took Ariadna by the hips, thrusting his cock deep into her pussy. Who could tell how many had abused her before they had arrived?

Nira clenched her hands into fists. She wanted nothing more than to leap down there and tear the man away from the blonde woman. No man should touch the goddess like that. They didn’t deserve to even be permitted to steal a glimpse of her.

Kaya placed her hand onto Nira’s shoulder. She jumped… she hadn’t even known the other woman had followed her. Gently, the blonde sat down next to her. “I know how you feel right now. I felt the same way when we saw her in Vadna.” She paused a long moment, glaring down at the square. “It isn’t your fault. We couldn’t help her then. We can help her now. We just have to wait for nightfall. Follow Jaymes’ plan. We will get her out of there.”

Nira nodded. “Yes,” she growled. “We will.”

Darkness fell over the town of Baruck and Kaya waited patiently. Patiently. If she told herself enough times that she was waiting patiently, maybe she would believe it. It felt to her like her patience was wearing awfully thin. She had been on this roof waiting for what seemed like forever. They had been up here for most of the day, watching the guards. They saw how often they changed their shifts. When they would take breaks. How often those bastards raped her. Every single shift of shadow betrayed the passing of time… one step closer to the darkness they needed. Soon. Soon. Soon.

At last, it was time and she motioned to Jaymes. Her husband nodded to her. “Alright. I’m going to set the black powder.” He jumped down into a gathered group of hay bales, and brushing himself off, her husband began walking through the square. He walked right past Ariadna. There was no one on top of her at the moment, and as he passed, she jerked slightly. He must have said something to her… but he didn’t stop walking. He kept going, walking right past her.

Kaya looked across the square and watched, her heard sinking, as her husband did what he had forced her to allow him to do… the role she had wanted for herself. Careless to all the world, he walked right into the temple of Karn.

This was a smaller temples since it wasn’t in a major city, but he did it. He walked right into the viper’s nest. A few seconds later, he came running out.

“Go!” he yelled. “Go! Go! Go!” If that wasn’t the signal, she didn’t know what ever would be. With a nudge for Nira to follow her, Kaya grabbed the edge of the roof and swung herself down to the ground, hitting heavily in her armor and and beginning to run towards Ariadna. Kaya drew her sword, the steel shining her hand, just as the first cry of alarm sounded out…


A loud explosion rocked the town. The sound of falling stone was suddenly the only thing she could hear as rubble rained down all around her. The temple of Karn abruptly had a giant hole in the side of it, and was on fire. As Kaya hoped, all of the faithful guards and followers of Karn went running to the temple.

They passed right by Jaymes and Leila where they hid by an empty merchant stall between the temple and the wagon. She needed to find the keys. Breaking the locks seemed risky… they could hurt Ariadna. Nira stood by the goddess with a water skin to pour the life-giving sustenance into her mouth. Kaya had to hurry to find the key. She hopped up onto the wagon, searching for it but it wasn’t there.

Jaymes and Leila were now in the midst of battle. A group of Karn’s soldiers, probably the wagon guards, had come running to defend the cart, and her husband and the assassin fought to fend them off. It was a beautiful dance of death, especially with the Weeping Siren. She was fast, her movement skilled and practice, but Kaya could see she was an assassin, not a soldier… not nearly as used to fighting people who were expecting a fight. Still, she fought with a sword and a dagger in a reverse grip and her blades whistled through the air to the tune of the symphony her husband lead, cutting through it and the throats of Karn guards with equal ease.

“Jaymes! There’s no key!” She yelled out to him as she stood up from the wagon seat. She saw a guard approaching Nira and Ariadna. Gripping her hand onto her dagger blade, she threw it through the air. It spun several times before it connected with his forehead. The stunned guard dropped to the ground, mere feet from Ariadna.

Jaymes swung his sword with more brute strength. He didn’t have the same kind of speed the impossible quick Weeping Siren did, but his skill matched hers easily enough, and his sword ground the gaps in Karnite armor, striking through defenses and padding with brutality. If the blade did not kill his opponent, the cracked bones from the injury would surely end them.

Another guard made their way toward Nira. Kaya only had the one dagger, so she had to leap down from the wagon to defend her. She raised her sword to a guard stance, catching the shining blade of the attacker with ease before she used her planted feet to kick him away. Her fury at these heathens showed as her blade swept across his neck, cleanly severing head from shoulders.

A red spray of blood showered over her. The blood-drenched corpse of the guard fell to the ground. Kaya rolled the first guard over to retrieve her dagger from his skull.

“Nira, we have to get the key to set her free.” Kaya handed her the dagger, “Defend yourself with this if you need to. I’m going to look for the key.”

Kaya proceeded away from the wagon, checking the dead bodies of any Karn guards she found lying on the ground. When she got closer to Jaymes, she found one that had a key ring attached to his belt. She used her sword to cut it free.

So intent on the key, she did not see the guard approaching her until he was nearly on top of her… and then she reacted instantly, diving forward in a roll that swept his blade just over her head. She spun, the pommel of her blade smashing the guard’s nose flat as he staggered back, bleeding. He didn’t feel it for long before Kaya had stabbed him through his chest, and he fell to the ground. Two more came for her, and she caught steel with her own blade, trusting…

And Jaymes caught the other, sweeping the guard off his feet before driving the blade down into his throat. “Careful love. Don’t want you to lose that beautiful head of yours yet. We are still in the middle of a rescue.”

Kaya smiled as the now disarmed guard fled. Once, she would have chased… now, there were more important things to do. “That’s why I married you,” she said. “You have a pretty enough head for the two of us.” She rushed back over to Nira. The poor priestess was standing shakily with the dagger.

Kaya started to unlock the various shackles and manacles that held the goddess to the wagon. Once free from her imprisonment, Ariadna could not stand… it seemed that she could barely keep her eyes open. Kaya and Nira both had to help her to her feet and help her away from the wagon. Kaya kept one arm around Ariadna, but the other had a drawn sword in case they met opposition.

She waved her sword to Jaymes to get his attention. Once she saw his acknowledgment, she proceeded to carry the goddess out of the square. Almost at the same second, Amellisan rode up with their horses, the sound of the exploding building more than sufficient to alert her that the rescue was underway.

Kaya draped Ariadna over the horse and got onto it with her. Jaymes and Leila came running up from behind. A large group of Karn followers was on their heels. It appeared that desecrating a temple of Karn really pissed them off. When Leila got closer to them, she turned around, leaping backward through the air. Her right arm extended and a flurry of daggers through from her fingers as her hands pumped one after the other, grabbing small knifes from bracers on her wrists. Her accuracy was impressive and deadly. Not each of them was lethal, but Kaya didn’t see a single one miss. It sent most of the diving to the ground or behind obstacles.

The short distraction was enough for them to all mount their horses and ride out of the town of Baruck. They headed to the southwest to the village of Parna. It was hidden from the prying eyes of Karn and would serve as a good place to heal their goddess while they regrouped and found out what they would need to do next. That was a problem for tomorrow. Today, anywhere else but here would do. Kaya looked over and met her husbands eyes, a wild grin on his face. She knew she mirrored it. Finally… after three years… they had done it.

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