“Fierce little thing…” The soft purr of the jailer’s raspy voice made Lilly squirm against her bonds. Clapped in specially forged irons that prevented her from taking her dragon form, she was trapped. Her body was beaded with sweat. It was hot in the king’s dungeon and her anger made her hotter still.
Her naked form was spread out on a stone slab, her wrists chained by her sides, her ankles likewise shackled. A silver collar was wrapped around her neck and chained to the slab, preventing her from lifting her head. She was totally captive, unable to move anything besides her legs, which she could spread apart about a foot and a half. Her naked state and the sting that persisted across her tender lips made her keep them closed.
She lay staring at the ceiling, a sense of deep failure pervading her being. She had struck out for what was right. She had tried to avenge those who deserved vengeance. But there had been no great moment of revenge. There had been no righting of wrongs. There was only captivity and punishment.
Let me go.
The words rose to her lips, but she bit them back. There was no point pleading for release. That was not going to happen. She would likely never see the light of day again. The cruel King Casimer would no doubt have terrible things inflicted upon her until her last breath.
“You tremble,” the jailer noted. “But I do not think you are cold. Is it fever?”
Lilly held her tongue. She would not speak to these foul instruments of the dictator king. They would not hear anything from her.
The jailer’s hand slid over hers and up her arm. She hated the way she trembled. She wished she could be braver, but she was afraid. She had no doubt that the pain would soon begin. She was to be punished for her crimes.
She could not see his face. He was beyond the limited circle of light shed by the torch until he stepped forward, a cloth reeking of pure alcohol clenched in his massive hand. She saw heavy markings on his arms, tattoos of ancient script interspersed with curling dragons. He wore the history of his bloodline on his great right arm, and on the left, nothing.
Stupid idiot, she thought to herself, hating him instantly, as she hated all others in this disgusting place of riches. They were all tools of the evil king who held her captive—the dragon she had sworn to destroy.
The jailer’s prisoner stared at him with hissing eyes. She was a slight little thing, weak even for a dragon female, but still it had not been easy to get her shackled down. She had fought with the fury of a world eater, cursing and hissing and shouting. It had been a difficult matter to restrain her without harm, but he and several of the guard had succeeded in the end. The moment the elemental bonds went on, she had fallen silent and refused to speak a word.
She was so soft, her skin tender and pale. He tried not to look at her as a sexual creature. She was his prisoner and prisoners were not sexual beings. They were his wards. But he could not help but see the dark down between her thighs, and the tender lips between them. He could not help but remember how it had looked when her legs were spread, when those pale lips flowered with the interrogator’s touch.
Her humanness was on full display—partial human blood at least. It was said she had a flight form, so she must be one of the rare mixes. His curiosity was intense. There were so many questions he would have asked, but it was not his place to question her. He shouldn’t even be this close to her. He should be outside the cell, ensuring that none came close. His curiosity had drawn him in and now, hidden largely in shadows, he inspected her at his leisure, trying to unravel her mysteries.
There were some things he could see plainly written on her body and expression. Answers to questions he did not have to ask. She was young. Too young to be this angry. And she was beautiful. She had brilliant deep blue eyes the color of a jewel, and raven black hair that fell over her shoulders and spilled out around her head in a gleaming cascade, holding a light curling wave.
There was tragedy in her eyes. A sadness that made his gut twist in empathetic response. The jailer was not used to feeling empathy. It was not the job of a jailer to relate to his prisoners. It was his job to ensure their captivity. Taking a deep breath, the jailer tried to look away from her, but he could not. She was captivating. She was also yet to be sentenced for her crimes. It could be that she would spend the rest of her life in his care—and it was possible that the rest of her life might only be a matter of days, or weeks.
Casimer’s dungeons were largely empty, mostly because the king’s enemies were not so foolish as to directly draw his ire, or risk acting against him in any way significant enough to gain his attention. He was a fair king, a good king and as a result most of the jailer’s work involved briefly holding pretenders to the royal guard who had made fools of themselves in one way or another. Every few years, the royal city would be inundated with young warriors who thought themselves brave and bold enough to become part of the king’s personal guard. At times, their rowdy behavior and high spirits could spill over into criminal activity and then it was not uncommon for them to find themselves sent to the jailer’s dungeon. He had been chosen for his stature and fearsome appearance, his ability to scare the shit out of those who came down for a brief stint behind bars.
It had been many, many centuries since anyone had even considered a crime against Casimer directly. The fact that this girl was young and obviously part human, and totally inept at the task only served to make her more of an anomaly. He wondered again if she was unwell.
She was definitely trembling, even though it was warm. The possibility of shock entered his mind. In this state, she reminded him of a trapped hare. Beasts of prey could die simply from the fear of being captured. Her pulse was hammering in her throat, her eyes darting around the room.
The jailer took a heavy blanket and covered her body. It would provide her some modesty, and hopefully the weight of it would soothe her too. Another trick he had learned handling animals. Then he went around the room and turned the heating grates down. He did not want her to sweat herself sick.
She would be more comfortable now. At least, as comfortable as any young woman could be shackled to hard rock with not so much as a pillow for her head.
“What are you doing!”
The jailer jumped with fright as the door of the cell was thrown open. Standing behind him was a man seven feet tall with ruthless features and short dark hair cut close to his head in patrician style. Dressed in red battle robes, his shoulders were broad, his forearms powerful under dark leather gauntlets. His legs were long and clad in black armored leggings. From the tip of his boots to the top of his head, he was ready for war.
Grand gold eyes, slitted with dark pupils swept over the shackled young woman and the jailer beside her as he waited silently for an explanation.
“H-high Lord Vitomir. I was just… trying to…” The jailer had become a stammering mess beneath the high lord’s gaze. His attempt at explanation was waved aside with a large, impatient hand.
“Get that blanket off her. She has earned no covering. No kindness.”
The jailer pulled it off with a guilty look, his head bowed with contrition. He was a large man, but High Lord Vitomir was bigger in every sense of the word.
“Unchain her,” Vitomir ordered, his lips twisting with punitive passion. “She comes with me.”
“All praise King Casimer! All hail King Casimer! All honor and glory to King Casimer!”
The shout was taken up by a hundred voices, rippling from the very heart of the royal palace out through thronging crowds and down into the city proper. The dragon realm was celebrating the birthday of King Casimer—a celebration that came only once every hundred years. This birthday was special, and far grander than any held in the last millennium. This was the first birthday the king had celebrated since his marriage to the beautiful Crown Princess Mika, and everyone was invited.
They made a stunning couple. Casimer the ancient was as handsome a king as the realm had ever had, his features elegant and strong. He was of a pale complexion and had a mane of nearly white hair, brilliant blue eyes like ice sweeping over those he commanded. Though he was many hundreds of years old, he did not look any older than forty. His dragon blood kept his walking form in prime shape and so he showed no signs of aging or infirmity.
His much younger bride was equally beautiful. Her hair was bleached pale, but there were touches of red here and there, the natural hue of her birth. She had human blood, which softened her features but did not make them common, her eyes were golden with a rim of blue around the outer edges, she had pretty bow-shaped lips, full and passionate, a neat straight nose set perfectly in place. Tales of her stunning beauty had reached every corner of the dragon realm, and she was a popular subject for portrait artists who sold copies of her and Casimer’s likenesses to hang in the homes of those who celebrated their monarchy.
For a few hours, the king and his crown princess had sat upon great pale thrones located on the great dais of the very hall in which they had made their vows. Casimer had clasped Mika’s hand and whispered sweet words into her ear as their subjects threw themselves into unreserved celebration that stretched from the palace all the way into the streets of the city below.
As the night drew on, Mika had been escorted from the hall by a phalanx of royal guard. Such a departure would usually have caused great consternation among the nobles, but the sight of her had explained the reason for her inability to stay by her husband’s side all evening. She was swollen with the future prince of the realm, a reason to celebrate doubly. It was a matter of days before the kingdom had an heir, and some said that it could be that very night. It would be auspicious, so went the whispers, for the king’s son to be birthed on the king’s birthday.
It did not seem likely that was to be the case, however, as Casimer remained behind to reign over the celebrations, though he did so with restraint, speaking largely with the high lords, of which there were only three in the realm. Two of them were growing old and soon to resign their position. Their sons were not considered to be suitable replacements for reasons practical and moral. The third among them was in his prime, vital and powerful. It was said that Casimer was considering consolidating the high lord’s position under Vitomir, which would have made him the second most powerful dragon in the realm besides Casimer himself.
Dancing, singing, laughing, displays of flight and aerobatics took place in the hall and above it, through the clear vaulted ceiling that had been installed for the celebration, allowing the highest in the realm to stand inside and watch the energetic displays of the fire breathers and actors playing out some of the greatest battles in dragon history for the amusement of the onlookers. Among them, of course, the tale of the great warrior Vilka, he who had defeated a world-eating elemental dragon—not before fathering the crown princess herself.
These were the grand legends of the realm, new stories that were being made all the time. History swelled and rose around the king and his courtiers, those noble enough to be granted access to the palace hall, those who danced and made merry… until the world fell apart.
There was a sound like the very essence of existence being ripped asunder. It boomed through the hall, echoing with such power that great glass windows shattered even before the air itself twisted and screamed and tore apart in the center of the hall.
At first nobody did anything besides stare, some still laughing as if this were perhaps part of the royal show, another trick to please the crowds. That illusion was broken as Casimer himself rose to his feet and roared to the crowd.
Finely dressed nobles ran screaming for the cover of armed royal guards as fire and flame expanded in the air and through the tear in the fabric of reality; stars of another world glimmered in a night sky that spun slowly, but discernibly with the growing of a dawn.
There were screams of panic and a stampede just barely contained as the royal guard ushered the nobles to safety. They had good reason to panic. The first and very last time the sky had been torn apart in such a fashion, it had been high over the royal city and a fighter jet had burst through, engines screaming, guns blazing, pilot dying. If such a thing were to happen in the very heart of the populated palace…
The king rose to his feet and looked fate dead in the eye. Several of the guard ran toward him in an attempt to get him to safety, but he held his hand up, gesturing for them to stand back. Though the portal seemed to have stabilized, the chaos it had generated was spreading outward, rippling from the portal through the royal palace. In seconds the hall was nearly empty save for the king, a few of the most stoic royal guard, and one noble who had not fled with the rest of the fine dragons.
There was a moment of sudden and strange peace. Food and drinks lay discarded upon the floor, trampled by running feet. For that split-second there was nothing but the emptiness and the chaos and the foreign spinning sky. Casimer stood, tall and strong, his handsome face pale, eyes narrowed with purpose and fury. In the dragon realm, the king protected all. He would not scurry for cover. He would take whatever fresh hell the humans had planned for the realm in stride.
A scream of fury emanated from beyond the portal and something came rushing through. It was no fighter plane. It was a black dragoness, obsidian scales shining as she whipped through the portal. Her passage through the realms resulted in a powerful gust of wind that sent plates and chairs and scraps tumbling through the air and knocked several of the royal guard off their feet. There was a long sword hung around her neck, a blade that gleamed blue as it passed through into the dragon realm.
The portal snapped shut as the dragoness landed in a skid, her claws digging into the royal rugs as she slipped into her human form, becoming a slim, pale, very naked young woman who picked up the sword that had fallen with her shift in form. She ran toward Casimer, her mouth open in a war cry drowned out by a fearsome roar that shook not just the palace, but the entire city below.
The dragon king was no longer a man. He was a great white dragon, many times larger than the dark one had been, and infinitely more powerful. He opened his great mouth, and gleaming rows of scimitar white teeth shone in anticipation of the dragoness.
When the female saw what awaited her, she stopped and flowed back into her flight state. Even in her scaled obsidian form with wings of pure darkness she was diminutive compared to the dragon king. If her walking form had made her a morsel for the great dragon, her flight form was a mere two-bite snack.
Regardless, the royal guard had no intention of allowing her to reach their king. Their reactions had been slowed by sheer shock. In all living memory there had never been a direct attack on King Casimer in his palace. Now their shock had worn off and they rushed forth, blades in their hands. Their swords were not forged from ordinary steel. They were made from the bones of a world eater, and they could slice through the hide of a dragon like hot knives through butter.
The attacker was now trapped between two equally deadly opposing forces, Casimer on one side, the royal guard on the other. There was no time to call for her surrender, let alone for her to give it, not that she seemed inclined to. She turned about herself, black scales rippling in the remaining candlelight, a sibilant hiss escaping her maw. And then she went for Casimer again, her dragon form becoming one vicious strike aimed at the throat of the king.
In the moment before she either reached the king or was skewered on a dozen blades, a massive crash echoed throughout the hall. A red and gold dragon swept down and landed over her, pinning her to the floor, great wingspan sheltering her from the blades.
The royal guard stayed their hands. The extreme discipline it took for them to cease their momentum near instantly was impressive as High Lord Vitomir stood over the screaming black dragoness, pinned beneath his powerful back feet. It writhed and it tried to beat its wings and finally it accepted defeat and flowed from a small malevolent dragoness back into a naked young woman now caught in the arched space beneath the high lord’s talons.
The royal guard drew back, the tips of their sharp blades still pointed toward the attacker. Vitomir took his human form and seized her from the floor, one hand pulling her arms behind her back, the other catching in her hair to control the motion of her head.
“Who are you?” He growled the words into her soft ear. “What is your name?”
She growled and squirmed but made no reply. Her teeth were clenched, her face contorted, but in spite of that, it was clear that she had an aquiline, even noble beauty. Her eyes were a deep, rich blue, her lips crimson red with anger. Her face had a fine construction that was somehow familiar to those present, though none of them had ever seen or heard of her before.
“Speak now!” King Casimer thundered. “Or you risk going to an unmarked grave for this foolishness.”
“You should know my name,” she hissed at the king. “I know yours. Bastard.”
Vitomir shook the scrappy little wretch. “Answer him, and do it with respect.”
“Respect him? I would rather lick a dog’s ass.” Her voice dripped with disgust and hate, even as her shapely naked body rubbed against him, her rear grinding against his crotch. She couldn’t help it due to how he was holding her, and he was sure it was involuntary.
“You will go to the dungeon,” Vitomir snarled. “And we will see how uncomfortable you can be made before you tell us what we need to know.”
He carried her there himself, dragging her naked form through the empty halls of the palace. The nobles had all retreated to their rooms and were no doubt barred in. There were a few guards still positioned at various strategic points. They followed him at his command as he hauled her into the dimly lit dungeon and called for the jailer.
“A slab of full restraint. We need one!”
The jailer directed him to a small cell in which a large flat raised slab was built out of polished rock. It had been fitted with several gleaming rings designed to hold restraints, and it was marked along the outer rim with dragon glyphs designed to weaken the occupant.
Vitomir pushed his little female prisoner onto the slab and held her in place.
“She needs to be bound with dragonsbane shackles,” he growled at the jailer. “She must not be set free even for an instant until I return. Not for any reason, you understand? Hand me them now.”
The jailer brought a set of shackles, but they were far too large for the young woman’s slim limbs. They slipped off over her hands and feet and landed uselessly on the floor below.
“Smaller!” Vitomir insisted. “Do you not have any smaller?”
“I will have to look, sir,” the jailer stammered. “It is so rare to hold a female…”
“Find smaller,” Vitomir growled. “There must be some from before Casimer’s time. We have not always been so delicate about chaining women.”
It took quite some time for the jailer to go back through the stores of shackles, during which time Vitomir held his prisoner pinned naked on her back on the stone plinth. He could feel her glare, a look of vehement hate emanating from her small female frame.
He had done battle many times before, and in his experience when one made physical contact with an enemy, it was his spirit that could be felt as much as his physical strength. This little one had close to nothing in physical strength, but her will alone could have melted a lesser man. She had paralyzed the elite royal guard, even the king himself with her sudden attack, calculated to maximum effect. If she had been possessed of just a little more power, the kingdom would be without a king at this very moment.
Vitomir did not waste words on her, nor she on him. They had the measure of one another without the need to babble.
“What say you to these, my lord?” The jailer appeared with a set of shackles, gleaming silver in spite of the cobwebs he was still brushing from them. “They were used for the ancient queen…”
“We don’t need a history lesson,” Vitomir snapped. “Get them on her.”
They were much lighter than the first set of shackles, though if anything they were stronger than them, made much more finely by craftsmen who knew how to bind a dragon thoroughly. Vitomir knew precisely who the shackles had belonged to, an ancestor of King Casimer’s. He noted that they were inscribed with floral designs so that the illustrious prisoner would still look good even when chained.
The moment she felt the dragonsbane closing around her wrists and ankles, the prisoner started to fight ferociously, so much so that he was forced to call the guard to come and hold her in place, lest she harm herself in her thrashing.
“Easy,” he snarled. “Don’t want to break your neck.”
It was no small effort, but she was restrained. The dragonsbane was holding each and every one of her limbs and there was a final piece too, one that slid around her neck like a collar. She would not be going anywhere now, not in any form.
Vitomir stood back, took stock of the situation. She was beautiful. That shouldn’t have been the first thought in his head, but he could hardly help it. Those passionate eyes spitting hate right into his. He remembered how her lithe body had felt writhing against him. Her anger made her quite stunning. He wondered what she would look like in more peaceful circumstances.
“Tell me who you are.”
She smirked, but she did not answer him.
“You look young to my gaze,” he said. “Maybe too young to know what can happen to a girl in the company of an angry dragon.”
“I’m eighteen,” she growled, clearly goaded by his assumption of youth. “I am a grown woman.”
“Grown woman?” Vitomir snorted, watching as fresh anger flared in her eyes. This little human fancied herself far more mature and powerful than she was. He wondered who had convinced a mere eighteen-year-old that she was a force to be reckoned with. Whoever it was had done her a great disservice. Still, her claim to maturity did make certain treatment a possibility.
He pushed her legs apart, the chains of the shackles providing more than enough room to bare her slit. She tried to close her legs, but it took no effort to hold them apart.
“Oh, no,” he tutted as he felt her weak struggles. “You’re a grown woman. A grown woman who must understand what being a prisoner means. You have no agency over your body. You are flesh to be touched, punished, taken as we see fit. When you set your blade at the king’s head, it was your body you surrendered.”
Her face flushed quite beautifully, the blue of her eyes all the more striking. They were locked on him with a maidenly uncertainty that made him quite certain she had yet to experience all being a grown woman truly entailed.
“Your name, girl,” he demanded again.
When she did not speak, his palm swept between her thighs, caught her pouting lower lips in a swift slap, which finally had some effect. She threw back her head with a shocked gasp and cursed profusely at him.
“I very much doubt ‘Fucking Asshole’ is your name,” he drawled. “Do I need to repeat the treatment, with some leather and oil to heighten the effect?”
She was totally helpless. She knew it. And yet she was resisting him. It wasn’t because of a lack of fear. He could see that in her eyes. It was something else. She must be more worried about someone else than she was about him. He would have to change that.
“You might think that if you speak to me, you’ll be harmed by whoever told you not to. I tell you now, if you do not answer my questions, you will never see the light of day again. This dungeon has swallowed thousands of souls before you. One more will make no difference. You could simply be left here… forgotten.”
He saw anxiety flash through her body, but still she did not answer his question. He put his hand back between her thighs, aware that his every movement and hers was still being watched by the guards who had fallen back, but not dispersed. Unfortunately, having her chained down like this limited his options. If she did not start answering him soon, he would have her bound face down and repeat the interrogation, with a sturdy cane perhaps.
She might be pretty and young, but she had also made herself the most notorious criminal in the entire realm. She did not deserve mercy and he could not show her it.
“Do you want your sex thrashed?” He threatened her, his fingers moving in relatively light taps under which he felt her soft lips compress and then swell at his touch. She was responding to him in spite of the apparent harshness of his treatment. He could feel the way her hips rose almost imperceptibly toward his fingers. Interesting. Very interesting.
He looked into her eyes and for the first time—at least, consciously, he realized that there was something familiar about her features. She was not a total stranger; at least, her genetics weren’t. He had seen those cheekbones before, that nose too. He had seen many of her features, in fact, configured in much more masculine ways, but no doubt recognizable.
“Oh, my,” he murmured to himself, a slow, not entirely pleasant smile spreading over his face. “Well, well. So that is who you are.”
She gritted her teeth as he rubbed his fingers over her mound, his touch more thoughtful than punishing.
“I’ll not tell you anything,” she growled as his fingers found her clit and pinched it lightly, teasing it from the delicate hood that covered it. Human females had such pretty pussies. He amused himself for a few minutes, toying with her sex as she tried her best to stifle her moans.
He was no longer attempting to get any kind of answer from her, at least not of a sort she could have told him about. Now he was testing her on a different level. Even after being spanked between her thighs, she did not seem to find his touch unpleasant. In fact, her hips were rising toward his hand repeatedly as her nipples hardened and her skin flushed. A pretty scent of arousal began to make itself apparent too.
She liked this treatment. He was sure of it. Her eyes were locked on his, rebellion and something more mixed into her gaze, which was formed from the stars of two very different realms. When he pulled his hand away from her pussy, she let out an involuntary whine of complaint. Her attempt to stifle it by biting her lower lip failed adorably.
“Don’t worry,” he smirked. “I’ll be back for you, pet.”
“Stand outside this cell and do not speak to her,” Vitomir instructed the jailer. “Not a word, understand? And those shackles must not come off without my presence. This little thing is the most dangerous prisoner you have ever held—and if anything happens while I am gone, it will be your head held forfeit. Understand?”
“You need not threaten me, m’lord,” the jailer said with a hint of offended subservience. “I’ll not let her escape.”
“See that you don’t.”