I, Demon Slave - Kristine Lichtlider - ebook
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DESCRIPTIONEmpusa, an Erinyes, is a creature of passion and lust who must grab the soul of an Earther to serve the demon’s war against the Seraphim. The Earther is more than he seems, at times harsh, others gentle. She takes his virginity and easily ensnares his heart. What she didn’t count on is the reverse would also come true, waking her long dormant heart to her submissive desires.EXCERPTThere's a sensation of moving through mud, like my body is both infinitely heavy and weightless all at once. Then I'm thrust out the other side, taking in the differences of Earth; The slightly higher gravity, the lack of ash in the air you breathe.And the cold. I cover up my naked form with my arms and wings, shivering.The robed figure stands stunned. I do believe he's stopped breathing. Slowly I unfurl my wings and do my best to look impressive. I'm standing on a pentagram drawn with ram's blood. Only ram's blood will do, because of some loophole in demonic law. As long as I'm in the pentagram, I'm technically under his power. I have to answer any questions he has, and use my powers to the best of my ability at his command. However, there's not much one can do within a circle, and here lies the con of demonic summoning.The summoner thinks he is in control, and can make pacts with the demons he summons. However, these pacts are open to interpretation, often to the detriment of the foolish mortal who made them. Once, for example, a soldier summoned a Baalor to 'watch his back' in combat. The Baalor did just that—he watched while his back was stabbed three times.However, I've been instructed to play it straight with this boy. Man, really, I see as he doffs his hood. I'm faced with a handsome, high cheek-boned specimen of adulthood. Even beneath his robe—which is of authentic goat's fur, I note—I can tell he's physically fit. That, combined with him being rich should make him too busy with the ladies to bother with something as involved as demonic summoning.“Who has summoned Empusa, Mistress of Hell?”“I, Ron Williams, Master sorcerer, have summoned thee,” he says, waving his arms. “I beseech thee and command thee to bend thy demonic might for my will.”“Look, son, you don't have to talk like that,” I say, suppressing a giggle.“I—uh, of course I don't!” He points his finger at me. “I would make pact with you, demon!”“Ah, yes, a pact.” I lean forward, leering at him, until I come close to the invisible barrier separating us. It glows a dull red. “And what are the terms of this pact?”Smugly, he withdraws a scroll from inside the robe.“I, Ron son of Job, hereby immediately and for a period of no more than one hundred years, bind this demon as my slave. She will obey me in all things, and serve me in all things.”

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Kristine Lichtlider’s

Published by Lot’s Cave

I, Demon Slave, © 2014, by Kristine Lichtlider

All Rights Reserved

Cover by Moira Nelligar

All Characters In This Book Are Age 18 Or Older

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only and may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this ebook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this ebook and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the Lot’s Cave website and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

A Lot’s Cave Novel

CONTENTS

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

~~~~~~~~~

Author’s Note

Taboo Exotica

BDSM Erotica

Other Novels

Chapter 1

The gout of molten rock shoots upward toward the ash-strewn sky, bending in a luminescent arch before cascading back into the lava-filled crater from which it erupted. All around the crater is blackened, sundered rock. I feel it crunching under my hoof as I stare at Asmodeus's Spire.

I'm wearing my True form, that of a red-skinned woman with sensuous curves. My hair is not the golden hue it had been when I was a sharecropper's daughter during the Dust Bowl. Once I underwent my Shaping, it turned white as driven snow. My long, lean legs appear normal—meaning human—until the knees, when they bend back like a goat's. Downy fur covers my shins and calves, until it stops at my black cloven hooves.

The Shaping left me with a face much like my old one, at least. My eyes have always been on the squinty side, possibly because of Injun blood. My nose is a bit long, narrow until it widens into my nostrils. Of course, when I was mortal I didn't have the two curling horns protruding from my temples, or the black feathered wings that all Erinyes possess. Like most demons, I don't wear much more than a loincloth. It's really hot in Pandemonia, and besides Demon hide is tough, and clothes aren't much use. We certainly don't have any modesty, which took me a decade to get used to.

I was there that day, as I was most days, staring at the majesty of the spire for lack of anything better to do. Beautiful sights are rare in Pandemonia, and my heart often aches for beauty. I curse the Seraphim loudly. They get what are known as the Upper Realms—though direction loses its meaning when traveling through dimensions. The Upper Realms are closest to that point of origin where the Maker first put (His? Her? Its?) brush to the blank canvas that was the Before. As such, they are both stable and friendly—friendly meaning that the environment itself isn't trying to kill you, and will even re-shape itself to your whims. This is because the Maker left a bit of himself in his creation, and the closer you are to where all existence began the more you can feel his/her/its presence.

Down in the Lower Realms—and it doesn't get much lower than Pandemonia—things are much harder. The landscape morphs itself in the more unstable areas, becoming alternately barren sweltering desert, or jagged mountains with knife sharp rocks, or a pool of molten rock. Never anything pleasant. Worse, it takes a Demon of considerable willpower to create even the smallest change in our environment, and those changes tend not to last.

Still, we've managed quite well, all things considered. If I turn to my left, and peer past my iron coach, I can see the towering brass spires of the Suffering City, our capital. Some of the buildings are short, squat and fat, while others taper to such an extreme point you could sew with the tip. With every tower bearing a halo of Hellfire at the top, from a distance the Suffering City looks like a collection of various gold candles.

On a day like this, when the ash is thick, you can't see very far, but I know that if I turn the other way I'm facing toward Maggot Reach, the relatively docile volcano where our warrior legions are trained. My nose twitched as I thought of the place. I had wanted to be a warrior, to be trained as a hunter of Seraphim. Alas, The First peered into my soul, and decided that I would be better off as a covert operative.

A covert operative whose main job requirement was opening her legs, early and often. An Erinyes is a seductress, first and foremost. Our main job is to trick those mortals foolish enough into selling their souls. So far, I have sixty-five souls under contract. The more powerful demons have hundreds of thousands, and The First is said to have millions, but no one has the courage to ask him if it's true.

I sigh as my slave whimpers, accompanied by the sounds of her chains rattling. She gets bored so easily, but then again she is new. Hasn't quite gotten it through her pretty little head that she exists to serve us now.

“Quit fussing.” I step off the ledge and drop the dozen feet to the ground. My wings flare at the last moment and slow my descent enough that I barely have to bend my legs. A few feet from my landing zone, Krista starts. She's heard me land, but the coach she's lashed to is facing away from Asmodeus's Spire. No reason she should have something interesting to look at.

Krista, being a slave, hasn't received an assignment or a shaping yet. Thus, she still looks like her Mortal self. Of Latin descent, her naked skin is an olive hue, her hair a silky black cloak that shrouds her shoulders. Her body isn't as curvaceous as mine, but my True form is created to be the ultimate male fantasy. She flicks her sweat-damp hair out of her face at my approach and glares with her green eyes.

“I didn't give you permission to move,” I tell her. With a quick, sudden snatch that causes her to flinch away as much as she can—which isn't very much—I take a mass of her hair and slap it down over her eyes again. Of course, she starts to flick her head again, but after I seize her nipple in my long nailed hand and twist, she stops moving. Whimpers more, but stops moving.

Not that she could move much anyway. Krista's wrists are pulled up behind her shoulder blades, like she was praying in reverse, and lashed there with thin strips of Beezle hide. The great thing about the bindings made from Pandemonia's insectoid cattle is that they never slip or shrink on sweaty skin. The bindings attach by a convenient ring to the leather harness she wears on her torso. The various straps don't conceal her nakedness whatsoever, except for the one going through her crotch. That particular strap has to cover her anus, because it's helping hold in her tail. True, I could have reshaped her to actually have a horse tail—many demons do—but it's so much more humiliating to shove a phallus up her rear. And I do so love humiliating Krista.

She has on iron-toed boots, because if her feet are torn and bleeding it just takes me forever to get anywhere. I've pierced her nipples, and her clit as well. On that morning I had attached all three rings snugly with a chain, meaning her nipples were pulled down hard and her clitoral hood was pulled up. As I get on my coach and snap the traces, Krista starts moving immediately. I ply the whip on her flesh anyway, enjoying the sound of her squeals almost as much as the red lines striping her flesh.

If you think me cruel, I should enlighten you about this particular slave. Krista used to be a spoiled woman of privilege, educated at the best schools, dressed in the epitome of fashion. For some reason I could never understand—Krista was something of a cold hearted bitch—a young poet/playwright fell in love with her. Because he was well-off financially, she strung him along for awhile, only to dump him for an even wealthier man. The poor fellow killed himself, and of course ended up down here with us. This is what damned her, because Krista knew well what she was doing. She even hoped in secret that the playwright would leave her in his will.

She would probably still be living her easy life if her husband hadn't gotten drunk and shoved her down a flight of stairs. Oh, Krista is far from the worst villain we have down here, to be certain. The thing that upsets me about her is that she had the greatest gift of all—love—and spurned it for money and power. Demons are forbidden love, just as I was forbidden love as a mortal. If I can't have love, then this bitch is NOT going to get away with discarding it like so much garbage.

I snap the traces and ply the whip until she's trotting along at a good clip. I pass by pens of Beezle, tended by slaves. Their overseer, a Glabrezu with whom I have trysted in the past, waves at me and I pull up to a stop.

“Hello, Empusa,” he says in a voice that rumbles like thunder. Two of his arms hold whips while his larger limbs are akimbo at his waist. His head looks like that of a goat, but he's positively handsome compared to some of the other demon types. At least he has normal sex parts. “You know, your coach would move faster if you had more slaves pulling it.”

“Speed's not the point. Her suffering is. Are you so lenient with your own slaves, Grazz?”

He shrugs as if to concede the point. We both watch as a slave struggles to get a rather large Beezle to move from the Hearts-blood streams back into its pen. Laughter erupts from both of us as the thing pins him down and covers him with feces.

Other slaves help pull him out from under the beetle-like creature and shove it into its pen. When one of them slaps the thing on its carapaced back—an act which could not have done it any harm if he'd used a sledgehammer—Grazz plies his twin whips with zeal. A little too much zeal, as the man shudders and disappears from sight, fading like a dream.

“It seems you've gone too far, Grazz.”

“Damn, lost a slave for a hundred years.” Grazz kicks a stout bone post and shatters it with his hoof. “Bless it all!”

I flinched.

“Try not to swear in front of me, would you dear?”

“Bah, you are a yet a young demon, Empusa. When you grow in power such Seraphic phrases will not sting your ears so.”

He looms over me, taloned hand stroking my white mane. His knuckle brushes my lip and I put my face in his hand.

“When I am finished in the fields, perhaps I can come to your manse...”

“Maybe.” I nibble on his palm, tasting his salty sweat “I have a message from Plutarch Chianni waiting for me at home. I might be going to Earth on assignment.”

“You ignored a message from the Plutarch?” Grazz's jaw drops open, spilling a line of drool onto the ground between us.

I shrug.

“I already had Krista harnessed up, and I could see that the Spire was quite vigorous today.”

“Your favored status is tenuous, child.” Grazz looks toward the Suffering City, and I know his red eyes are focused on a jagged tower with red gems imbedded in every brick. The Tower of Heartbreak, where the Plutarch resides. “Already Brutus speaks against you in court, says that you are too soft for this work—”

“My sixty five souls would disagree,” I say with a sneer. “How many does he have? A dozen?”

“Brutus makes himself useful to those in power. Thus, his true strength is not indicated by his stable of slaves. He could make your life very difficult, Empusa.”

As if he hadn't already. When I first arrived here—terrified, miserable, and certain that there had been an awful, awful, mistake—I was given to Brutus as a slave. For twelve years I served him, both in bed and out, the standard time of all slaves. He was not a cruel Master, not especially. For example, he rarely whipped the skin off of my breasts after the first year. I submitted to him because I had to; Those that do their time as slaves are freed to undergo the Shaping, where they will be remade into a demon who can wield their own power, own their own slaves.

When it was my time to be freed, Brutus tried to prevent it. Perhaps because our world is so chaotic, we demons tend to go by the strictest letter of our laws, and his attempt did not go over well in court. The fact that I was Shaped into an Erinyes, a personification of sexuality, probably makes it worse for him.

Old habits die hard, I suppose, because I still sometimes allow Brutus into my bed. He no longer gets to dominate me, though. These days I am my own demon, both in bed and out.

Remembering a particularly brutal whipping session from the old days has my blood boiling. I get stiffly back into my coach, because I don't want to say something unkind to Grazz. Demons don't have friends, of course, but I tolerate him well enough. I promise to send a Nightwing to him with a message if I am free later.

I stare past Krista's bound, sweating form at the massive gates of the Suffering City. Composed of the same brass as the rest of the structures, the gate stands out because of its fearsome design. The hundred foot tall gate functions like a portcullis, raising and lowering. A baator's head has been carved into its surface, with vicious black teeth acting as the bars of the portcullis. At my approach they begin to lift at once.

I trot down the main avenue, called Scream. Most of the peddlers know better than to try their luck with me; I own my own Blood-poppy fields, my own herds of Beezle. I do stop and examine a nasty whip with hard thorns woven into the tapered end, but that's just because the mere sight of it has caused Krista to whimper and plead as best she can with a metal bit in her mouth.

I end up buying the whip, not because I want to use it but because Krista is shaking like the ground during a tremor. We roll through the wide avenues until we reach a collection of modest sized towers called the Organ because they look like pipes. In the third spire from the right I make my home.

The lowest level of my tower has been converted into a stable. My head slave, Jenna, approaches me at once with her head bowed. As a sign of her status, I've allowed Jenna to dress in a long white gown—see through, of course, but it's more than what I give the rest of them. She's a petite woman, with blonde hair so pale it's almost white. Her mortal form fits her well, sweetly hipped though her bust is on the small side.

“Mistress,” she says by way of greeting, helping me off the coach though I don't really need it. “Shall I water your steed?”

I look at the miserable, sweat-soaked form of Krista.

“No,” I say. “She needs to earn the right to drink.”

Krista whimpers as I take my new whip and give it a few cracks. One of my male slaves almost drops the stack of dishes he's carrying at the sound.

“Watch where you're going, fool!” I lash him across his nude buttocks and he yelps, but doesn't drop the stack. He's learning.

Jenna reminds me that there's a scroll from the Plutarch waiting for me. She wrings her hands, and her speech is stilted. Obviously, she fears for my safety. Maybe I should take a look at that message soon...

Soon can wait until after I've finished with Krista. I get the feeling that I won't be quenching the fire between my legs with Grazz tonight, so I put her to work as quickly as I can.

She's still wearing the pony harness, as I didn't permit the stable slaves to attend her. I see that her fingers have turned dark, but are still warm to the touch when I pinch them painfully. Souls on Pandemonia are quite resilient, but you do have to be careful. If you go too far and they die, they are banished like the rest of us to The Bleed for a hundred years. The Bleed is so far away from the Maker's starting point that it's complete chaos. I guess you can't die there, but the Bleed is so terrifying that a lot of demons won't even speak of it. Looking around Pandemonia, I wonder just how much worse it can get.

Krista tries to say something around the metal bit in her mouth.

“Beez pake dis oat!”

I cock my head to the side and stroke her hair. She flinches even though the touch is gentle.

“What was that? I'm sorry, but you're not speaking very well.”

I grin as she stamps her feet in frustration. Her green eyes, narrow and fierce, seem to scream at me You'd understand me if you'd take this fucking gag out of my mouth!

“Getting an attitude, slave?” Krista may be a heartless bitch, but she's not stupid. Her head bobs in the air, though I note she's careful not to dislodge the hair still hanging in her face.

“Beez pake dis oat, bus fa shecot”

I think that was 'please take this out just for a second' but I'm not sure. I tug hard on her nipple-ring until she kneels before me on the hard brass floor. She grunts as her scabbed knees touch the rough surface. Gently, I smooth her hair away from her face and stroke her lovely cheeks. Krista looks up at me, her eyes no longer fierce. Now her brows are high on her face, the green orbs beneath them shining and eager. I undo her metal bit's straps, loosening it until it comes free of her lips.

“Aaah,” she says, sighing. Then, quickly and fearfully “thank you, Mistress.”

“You're welcome, slave.” She dips her head in towards my crotch, using her teeth to move my black loincloth out of the way. “Ah-ah! Not yet.”

I slap her on the cheek and push her head away from my cunt. She watches me in wonder as my hooves ring off the brass floor. I walk to a rack full of implements resting against the far wall. When I select a metal ring-gag with spikes that dig into the wearer's face, she groans.

“Please, Mistress, don't put that in my mouth!” She shrinks back from me but otherwise doesn't struggle. “I've been wearing the bit all day!”

“I know, and I've let you be without it for a lot longer than the second you requested,” I reply with some smugness.

“But I can please you so much more easily with my lips and free,” she pleads.

“And why should I make things easier on you?”

Roughly I grab her under the chin and force the ring into her mouth. Tears well from her eyes as I buckle it tightly, then go one more notch further.

“Now you may do your duty,” I say. Krista buries her nose in my crotch. Her eyes gaze up at mine from over a tangle of curly white hair. Then I feel the first brush of her tongue across my clit and my head arches back. My hands are in her hair, tugging hard as she runs her face up and down my snatch. I wonder if she was into women when she was mortal. She certainly gives good head. Love may be forbidden to a demon, but sex is outright encouraged. Other than a condemned soul, the once in a century pregnancy is our only source for fresh legions, and we are sorely outnumbered by the Seraphim.

My legs are getting rubbery, so I sit down on a short-backed stool. With one hand firmly clamped on the back of her head, I move Krista with me, not allowing her to stop for a moment. This new posture allows her to drive her tongue even deeper, and a long moan escapes my throat.

I want to punish her, but Krista is right about the ring gag. She does do a better job with her mouth free. The tremor of relief that goes through her is almost comical when I undo the strap.

“I only do this so you may please me more.”

“I know, mistress.”

“Why is your face not between my thighs?” I snake my arm between our bodies and slip my finger inside her. She's dripping wet, as usual, which makes me wonder about her sexuality again. Using two fingers now, I move them in slow circles, widening the gap between them. She gasps as I slide them back out. I shove my glistening fingers inside her mouth, and she chokes just a bit.

“See how wet you are? That's how wet your mistress should be. Get to it.”

Pursing her lips, she kisses my clit hood, then very carefully takes it inside her mouth. She bit me once, and after wearing labia and nipple clamps for three straight days she was prepared to never do so again. Krista applies just a bit of suction as it slides free from her mouth, and I dig my hands deeper in her hair.

I stare down at her, helpless on her knees, eyes meeting mine the way I have taught her. The harness displays her well—very well indeed. If it weren't such a taboo, I'd probably wear one myself, but demons are meant to be dominant. I reach down and pull the strap holding in her pony tail, but not to remove it. Instead I pull it out an inch or two and then release the strap, driving the phallus back inside her rear. The muffled sounds from her mouth are just beautiful.

The poor girl. It takes me nearly an hour to come, and she's a sloppy wet mess at the end of it all. I release her wrists from their bindings and then perform a small charm to speed their healing. Sure, it's a bit of a kind act for a slave, but I have kept her bound all day. Besides, she won't be able to perform her other duties if her hands are injured.

“Thank you, mistress,” says Krista, rubbing her wrists and smiling gratefully. The fact that Krista seems to bear me some affection in spite of all I do to her makes me angry again, for some reason.

“I suppose you think yourself pampered,” I say in a low growl. Stupid, stupid girl. Even if you do bear me some form of love, it would be a terrible mistake to allow it to blossom. Love is forbidden to demons, and weakens us all when it's indulged.

“No, mistress,” she says, bowing her head. The way her hands fidget in front of her like a petulant schoolgirl is so endearing, I feel my anger melting away.

“You may go and refresh yourself in the larder. Do tell Jenna to prepare my bath.”

“Yes, Mistress.” I watch as her naked form pads out of my chambers. After replacing my loincloth, I follow. When we reach the staircase, she descends while I rise. Just above my bedroom is my grand bath. Brutus, a former citizen of ancient Rome, had one in his tower, and it was the one bright point of my enslavement. I've seen swimming pools on Earth that are smaller than his, but mine is only about twenty feet around the outside. Because sometimes I like showers, I have statuary of three Erinyes perched about the tub. The water comes from their nipples in clear streams. There's no source for the water, or a drain in the tub. One simply speaks the command word and it springs to life. When I told Jenna to prepare my bath via Krista, I was really requesting the unguents, hot towels, and refreshments I enjoy.

Two slaves, a male and a female, arrive with my materials. They've been mine for six years, which means they are halfway through their indenture. The female is named K'cheef, and she damned herself by sacrificing her younger brother to a dark god in exchange for her lover's life. She has lovely dark skin and nipples that I've had pierced with gold nuggets. At shaping day, she'll probably end up being an Erinyes like me. The man was named James, but I renamed him Bull because he looks like one. With rippling cords of muscle, he has Baalor written all over him. Both of them know better than to speak to me when I'm enjoying a bath.

I sink into the water, glad that my feathers are waterproof. It's cool, almost cold, but that's the way demons prefer their baths. Pandemonia is so terribly hot. I'm thinking of ordering Bull into the tub with me, because I'm not really satisfied, when the gong sounds at my door. At first I don't think much of it; I'm a demon of some minor importance, and deliveries to my abode are frequent.

It's when I hear the hard hoof beats on the staircase outside that I know I'm in trouble. A dog-like, hideous face thrusts itself through the door, supported on a stump-like neck. Then the Baator stomps into my bath chamber, followed by another. My doorways are tall enough for most demons, but these two are hard pressed to stand erect. They are wearing metal breastplates with Plutarch Chianni's symbol, a buzzard with two heads. At their sides are both long many tailed whips and scimitars which can burst into flame at a command word.

“Empusa,” says the first one who entered in a gravelly voice bristling with menace. “Plutarch Chianni demands your presence—immediately.”

Chapter 2

The towering Baalor bends at the waist, which makes his wings brush my ceiling, and thrusts an arm as thick as a tree branch into the sudsy water. I yelp as he draws me out of it by the hair. Instinctively, I want to resist, but two things stop me. One, attacking the Plutarch's guards is paramount to attacking the Plutarch himself, punishable by exile to the lowest planes. Two, there's no way that I could defeat either of them. Naked, I'm drawn from the water and slammed hard on my chest.

Now I do start to struggle, because they're crushing the life out of me. Demons still need air, and with them kneeling on my back it takes great labor just to draw breath into my lungs. Snarling at me to be still, they snap a yoke around my neck. My wrists are buckled into it as well, so they are held parallel to my head. The yoke includes chains with which to bind wings, and they do just that.

“What's the meaning of-” I start to ask. That's when an ugly, spiked steel ball is thrust into my mouth. I groan as the chains rattle around my neck, securing it in place. Well, this isn't the first time I've blown off the Plutarch, and last time he did say that he was going to make me regret disrespecting him again...

Still, I figure the restraints are a good sign, not a bad one. He means to humiliate and debase me, whereas if I were to be exiled or Consumed the Baalors would have been much more formal and presented a warrant.

I find out how informal they mean to be when I'm flipped over onto my back. I groan as my chained wings are pressed beneath me. Bull and K'cheef have long since fled the room, since Baalor are notoriously cruel in their treatment of slaves. There's no one to witness what happens next as one of them fumbles with his codpiece. I shudder when I see his member, thicker than a wrestler's arm and tipped with wicked barbs. I wonder if I'm going to be torn asunder and end up in the Bleed when I hear a stern voice.

“What in The First's name are you doing?”

Funny, you don't get to see Baalors cower very often. And yet, that's what they're doing before the blue glowing orb that carries an image of the Plutarch's face. It's a useful enough charm for long distance communication, but I've yet to learn it. I prefer not being able to get in contact quickly.

Which puts me in situations like this. Plutarch ignores the Baalor's pleading and stares down at me. A wicked grin crosses his sharp-toothed mouth.

“Ahh, my dear Empusa. Perhaps I should let the Baalor continue their sport.”

I growl with narrowed eyes as the Baalor look up hopefully. My lips curl back from the rough spiked ball. It digs into my tongue, my cheeks, the roof of my mouth, and grates against my teeth in a way that has me jerking at the metal yoke though I know I'll never break free from it. The gag won't penetrate deeply enough to draw blood—as long as I don't try to speak.

“But alas, we have wasted enough time. Bring her to my tower, boys—but take the scenic route. Let all of the Suffering City see her shamed in her bonds.”

Well, I had been expecting that. The Baalor each hook a claw under my elbows and lift me to the air as if I weigh nothing. For a moment I realize how helpless I am in their grasp. There's always a chance that they might ignore the Plutarch's orders and have their way with me. I know they're thinking about it as they snare my tail in a hide thong and bind it to the yoke. We Erinyes use our tails for balance, and my gait is awkward as they usher me down the stairs. I know my slaves have to be enjoying this. Seeing me cowed. All but Jenna, who seems to be afraid.

Fools. If I were to be executed, they would just be auctioned off. Though I am a strict mistress, I'm not in the habit of severing limbs for disobedience. A lot of demons will do just that, often eating the body part while the victim is alive and conscious.

I wonder what happens if you get banished to the bleed after losing a limb. Would you be whole on that lowest plane, or would you still be maimed? Thoughts of going on a quest for missing body parts in the realm of pure chaos distract me for a moment. Perhaps I'll write a poem about it.

Then we're hitting the streets of the Suffering City. Normally, someone being dragged naked in chains isn't unusual, whether as a prisoner of the state or just a slave being disciplined. However, I've developed something of a reputation of late. Few others have reaped as many souls as I have in such a short amount of time. That notoriety has a downside, as there are many who envy my success. Our strict laws prevent them from striking me directly, but they can definitely take pleasure in my momentary disgrace.

There's a bent and decrepit Vrok, his vulture's beak crooked and notched, who I once whipped for selling me a rotted Muttfruit. He sees me being shoved before the Baalors and cackles. The merchant doesn't throw stones or feces like some of the more wretched slaves are, but he leans out and spits at me. It misses badly, but then the Baalors pull me back. With a handful of my hair, they hold me still while he takes another shot. Black spittle drizzles down my face, and I whine behind the spiked gag. This I hate more than anything, being soiled. I think it has to do with my deep fear of infection, which is ridiculous as it's far too hot in Pandemonia for any of the upper planes diseases to fester. We have our own diseases, of course, but they have nothing to do with hygiene.

I can't wipe the spit off. I know that I can't. Still, I'm sure they're all amused by the way my hands strain toward it. Maybe I can lean low, brush my face against that curtained stall-

“Keep moving, Erinyes slut,” says one of the Baalors, shoving me along. It gets a little better once we hit Pleading street. The merchants here are more upscale, dealing in finery such as decorative candelabras and tapestries to exotic perfumes. Of course, there's my favorite store, Lockdown, which is owned by a six armed Marelith named Betty who makes the most imaginative restraints. They all have more sympathy for me, or at least fake it since they don't want to lose my business. Of course, demon sympathy being what it is, they still laugh and hurl insults.

Betty herself pokes her snakelike head out of a second story window and clucks in sympathy.

“Oh, Mistress Empusa, how dreadful!” Her forked tongue flicks in and out as we pass by her shop. “That gag is something I called the Pacifier. Do stop in and tell me if you feel properly muffled! I could use the...”

Though she's leaning out the window, I can't hear her over the tumult ahead. There's a troop of Naefeshnee cavalry marching past, resplendent in their obsidian armor. Their mounts are causing the ruckus, great locust-like beasts called Striders. The insects lost their ability to fly during the selective breeding process and Shaping that made them so huge, but they still possess vestigial wings. At times like this, when they're on the march to war, the Striders get excited and rub their wings together.

Naefeshnee are nasty little dog demons, known more for their fearlessness than cunning. In a battle they're not nearly so fearsome as Baalor but they make up for it in numbers. For reasons that I've never been told, more souls are shaped into Naefeshnee than any other. Baalor are the next most common, followed by Glabrezu and Erinyes The most rare of all are the Asmodeans, a type which is tall and strangely beautiful to behold. They say Asmodeans can make you fall in love with them just by staring into their eyes, and that their words shake mountains and drain seas. I've never met one, but I doubt they're as big ado as that.

The troop moves past, probably on another sortie into the Middling Planes to skirmish with Seraphim. Then a clawed hand shoves me forward and I end up stumbling to keep my hooves.

“Look at her, cousin,” says the Baalor who almost took me. “See her smooth buttocks dance with each step, flowing like water.”

“Aye, and her bosoms sway like sacks of entrails.” Well, that's lovely! “It is too bad that the Plutarch is in such a rush.”

They both laugh, but there's an edge to it.

“We could, you know.” Right now we're alone on the street. This is the part of town reserved for the military, and most of them are deployed in the field. Only their slaves are about, and they are mostly too frightened to make themselves known to Baalor.

“Better not.” I sigh as we start moving again. Brutus had a Baalor take me once, just because I broke a favorite platter of his. Healing charms and salves were barely enough to keep me from being banished to the Bleed for a century. “Plutarch was most insistent. I hear the Council themselves have an interest in this Erinyes whore.”