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Nightglory (3rd Edition)
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Writer Mathew Babaoye
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Nightglory (3rd Edition)
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#9
The Slythy
Mathew Babaoye
Apr 6, 2016
1
0
135
23 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!1y4XytK2FTR0dSnXaEUzposted on PENANA

A fetid wind began rustling the thinning forest canopy, which showed through to remote stars twinkling across the cold black sky above. Goldenslaughter then glided out from the last trees dark: wearing a fitted black jacket, shirt and pants, the subtle blade was sheathed at her left hip, the rune shield strapped to her right arm, and although her black hood was up (with her face hidden in ensorcelled shadows) her black cloak rippling out behind her like a magical penant, proclaiming her great Power. Here. Now.copyright protection135PENANAJx5i48BNIo

Strange, spectral lights flickered about haze-wreathed, drooping cypress trees ahead. Besides rustling wind, the only sounds were croaking toads and the soft-burbling, brackish water of...copyright protection135PENANAIJWNHvgsyW

The Bog.copyright protection135PENANAlqWzjkwuZr

It is time for answers. The Slythy will not desire to share its secret plotting, of course, but I broke its Power centuries ago and can do it again, if need be. The signs of conspiracy are clear in bright corners, and I am not one to have Rule taken from me. I am the Queen, and all will bend, or be broken. Feeling a subtle change in the Onta ahead, Goldenslaughter abruptly flowed to a halt.copyright protection135PENANA3IZ914hCR0

A bright form zipped from the haze, speeding towards her–copyright protection135PENANA1AJYnruET3

Inhumanly fast: she brought her bonewhite hand back to her bladehilt and paused, before drawing it. Hmph.copyright protection135PENANAAfuxONSlhR

The faery flashed by in an instant, on flapping gossamer wings, its tongue briefly sticking out to razz her before it disappeared into the forest.copyright protection135PENANANlzMvAQNdI

Goldenslaughter frowned briefly after it, then turned back and stalked forward resolutely into the Bog's hazy outskirts. Focus. It will seek to distract me in any way possible and lure me from the way. There is no true danger if I stay sharp. The air began to slowly thicken, with haze pressing. Her nose wrinkled at the smells, but she continued following the softening path, which curved inwards through bent cypress and sickly red maple trees lining the way like dying supplicants, with fallen maple leaves churned bloody belowHaze, shadow, and other Power gradually intermixed, smearing all into a dim, decaying wasteland whose sickly veins ran towards a distant, rotting heart...copyright protection135PENANANfixeGYIkR

... brief, low buzzing...copyright protection135PENANALV7ftV3lgk

Minions of the enemy. But again: there is nothing to fear. Vermin can do me no true harm. Goldenslaughter still began stepping with increasing care. Over the distance: the way became overgrown with riotous, soggy growth atop ponds and across broken, rotten trunks. Stench and thickening haze also slowly began to breathe all around her...copyright protection135PENANAc3GLQbmHYz

... as the low, distant buzzing gradually grew louder, building up towards more...copyright protection135PENANApLPIi3ohLJ

A slim dark warrior pushing through hostile territory at once a part AND apart from her Realm, she bravely ignored this first warning from her ancient, twisted, and last true remaining enemy. Suddenly: flickers of light at the corners of her vision. Oh? Is that-? Glancing aside, she was transfixed while staring into the beautiful, flickering... then she finally wrenched her eyes from the deadly ghostlights and pushed onwards again, her expression growing more stubborn as she headed deeper, ever deeper out into the snarling mire...copyright protection135PENANA9xEgN7bQss

... the droning built towards a buzzing roar all around, with the ghostlights flickering closer, or farther, randomly distracting at the edges...copyright protection135PENANAbFwRrn3N42

Grinding her teeth together, she still never slowed while the air became gradually heavier, and almost choking. Eventually: the sickly trees thinned away to nothing, in the fouling mire...copyright protection135PENANAntOcb7gAo1

... as unseen swarms of angrily buzzing insects continued wheeling on both sides of the path, ever closer...copyright protection135PENANAjxzXNn5Zey

Focus. You are more than halfway there now. Although this rude welcome will not be forgotten, and all too soon we will come face to face with the ungrateful host, and repay this in full. Her dark eyes suddenly narrowed: two rotten logs had resolved from the haze, one fallen atop the other to block the ever softening path...copyright protection135PENANAspdZhEmlsr

... furious buzzing...copyright protection135PENANAnQUb26ijGH

Goldenslaughter snorted, then glared about the hazy environs with contempt. Vermin. Would they dare attack me? She began to hum (the sound matching the building, buzzing warning from her enemy's insect minions) and slowly stepped forward, her black cloak billowing out behind her while she used her monolithic Will to draw from her immense Power and imbue it into her ensorcelled shadow, causing it to stir, and darken towards the next level of her mastery over dark Essence: darkness...copyright protection135PENANAkZfUX3h33v

... ENRAGED BUZZING...copyright protection135PENANABvVPvduSyX

Tch. I will clear them, then. The dark warrior now placed two bonewhite fingers (pressed together) against her bonewhite neck, which caused doubledeep humming to begin rolling outwards, scrambling the enemy's sense of the Onta and feel for magic. My Song can be deadly, fools. Jogging forward, she LEAPT inhumanely high up into the air above the fallen trunks, then used her newly forged darkness to PULL, which sent herself rocketing back down to impact HARD upon the urth, down into a crouch, EXPLODING the tightly packed darkness outwards in all directions like black, grasping tentacles–copyright protection135PENANAjWNe7Qlq92

But the way was clear.copyright protection135PENANA8u1noZqG3t

Goldenslaughter briefly bared her white teeth, then sneered and stalked forward again while her black cloak rippled angrily behind her as darkness retracted beneath it. Once the buzzing slowly faded, the air thickened past cloying now, with decayed growth spreading to match: fungus colonized the few remaining treestumps among dark, glowering plants blooming among the endless rot. Disgusting. Vile. Just like my old enemy.copyright protection135PENANAcFZ7vulZnT

... a low buzzing slowly returned from the hazy environs around her, building back towards a dull roar...copyright protection135PENANAXGPKVXBgoK

Only warnings. If it was truly angry then I would be hip deep in nightmare by now. Goldenslaughter continued pushing forward, even though each step now sunk a black boot into decay. Having the subtle blade in her hand helped. Oh? When did I draw this?copyright protection135PENANAiwfkUEkkkn

Suddenly: a swarm of bugs swooped near, buzzing madly–copyright protection135PENANAOx3NFyi0yF

It almost sounds like words. The dark warrior WHIRLED about, using her monolithic Will to send darkness flashing out and up into a great black scythe which sliced through the swarm before the newly split halves scattered away buzzing frantically, until...copyright protection135PENANAUvmJghHRy5

Gone.copyright protection135PENANACRCRcwvxRQ

It will not fight me: instead, it will just disrespect me. Feh. I will neither flinch, nor falter. After stopping the growl rising in her throat, she stalked forward again, with her black cloak rippling behind her while her monolithic Will fed more of her immense Power into darkness, creating more and packing it hard into itself, folding down the dark Essence in case of future need...copyright protection135PENANAUFoYs3wK44

A feeling...copyright protection135PENANAqYzMHQ4pHD

Now is NOT the time. The haze began lessening ahead, visibility steadily improving as the buzzing receded away a final time, which eventually revealed a silent dark inner horizon. While she approached, distant shapes emerged among the dark, watery heart of the Bog, along with strange lights appearing along the farthest distances of her vision. Focus. She waded out, heading towards resolving blocks of grey stone, upright or fallen, waiting like a broken crown upon the upper slopes of a dry, weed-choked hill with more strange lights flickering within. FOCUS. Continuing forward bravely for another moment, she then felt a subtle change in the Onta ahead and abruptly stopped, with ripples fanning out from her black-clad legs afterwards, before slowly stilling...copyright protection135PENANAuku7bHEHev

More ripples appeared in the water ahead of her, as if some large beast was rising...copyright protection135PENANAy9aX7D0Do4

Oh. It still lives, then? Goldenslaughter stared...copyright protection135PENANAIP2hCK7G9P

... and the dark surface of the water parted, issuing forth a long, scaled snout. The great maw split wide afterwards, revealing rows of long, sharp teeth. Its red eyes were already open as it lumbered out of the water ahead, climbing up onto the dry base of the hill before finally settling athwart her way...copyright protection135PENANAkE9PMlwq3K

The Crocodile.copyright protection135PENANAVCU6z1KAF9

Great Powers attracted not only enemies, but allies. When building a magical Court, a strong ally could be Titled a Champion, which increased one's prestige in the Onta, confirmed Control over the ally, and grew the ally's Power. For many with greater concerns to worry about, it made too much sense to delegate lesser tasks to a Champion. The Crocodile had started life as a magical beast, grown into Power, then attained more when chosen as her old enemy's Champion, before her vale Conquering War had seen the Crocodile and its master defeated, diminishing them both...copyright protection135PENANAEnYHFArNhB

And even with my own dark Power diminished recently, there is nothing to fear here: toothless compared to me when it was a Royal Champion brimming with might, it is less than nothing now when brought so very low. The dark immortal one grinned savagely at the realization, then took a slow step forward through the dark water, towards the hill...copyright protection135PENANACBgMr28Xsb

The Crocodile growled a sound halfway between a roar and a command.copyright protection135PENANAIoNCvmEgWk

Weaving her subtle blade through the air like a dangerous steel snake, she took another step forward while her monolithic Will drew Power, imbuing it into her throat to produce her fell voice: "do you think that one such as you should bar my way?"copyright protection135PENANApBHojmYLag

The Crocodile shifted, its great jaws opening slightly wider...copyright protection135PENANAmNSCzjEHg7

She twirled the blade in her pale, nimble fingers dangerously now, while stepping forward yet again. "You will remove yourself from my path or you will be removed..."copyright protection135PENANASZvGC13gh0

The Crocodile did not blink its staring red eyes...copyright protection135PENANABGCi4VF3GP

The Queen of Night finally took a final step forward, with her black cloak rippling as corporeal darkness began coiling outwards menacingly, making her look like some evil, black magical spider. Pointing her blade, she barked: "begone!"copyright protection135PENANAj3CcFcvkTM

Her old enemy's broken, diminished Champion hesitated, then lumbered aside and slipped back into the murky water quick, and soundless.copyright protection135PENANAsMLXtoYxFf

But...copyright protection135PENANAxgW9y05e4L

Her eyes narrowed: the Onta was different now. Slow and most, most carefully, now. It stole up as I was distracted. Goldenslaughter remained standing there still...copyright protection135PENANA4oPHAvT5PN

Until finally came a garbled, buzzing voice: "Queen of Night."copyright protection135PENANAShAEf32eAH

She continued forward...copyright protection135PENANAu8XqiwrnKv

"Welcome, welcome," the buzzing voice continued ever more clearly, this time coming from the opposite side.copyright protection135PENANA9PUYwutpAj

"It isn't nice to hide," she called back, while still climbing up the weed-choked hill, towards the stone circle...copyright protection135PENANAcsBM6RQ85r

A perverse titter. "Come hither AND anon, if you insist."copyright protection135PENANAQzzNZRkrf4

Her skin crawled...copyright protection135PENANAWpURoqlSPW

The voice was clear now, and completely familiar to her: hated and high, slick and sly...copyright protection135PENANAb2pNPvEFEJ

The Slythy.copyright protection135PENANA6vjGiiyCKN

Steady. Regal. Queenly. Goldenslaughter finally crested the hill, passing through the broken stone circle (marking the border of its broken, but still potent Demesne) down into sudden PRESSURE weighing her down magically. Fool! I have Power to spare, and your pitiable Demesne's warding cannot stop me. Blinking, she flared her own immense Power, burning through it more quickly to throw off the pressing magical weight while gazing through haze unswirling into resolving view. She began descending into...copyright protection135PENANAHHcByA2UsS

... a ruined paradise: whisping, ghastly nightmare haze twining around crumbling marble columns flanking cracked marked paths, winding among groves full of splintered trees and hedges of dying filth, and coiling slowly over grey lawns putrid with rot.copyright protection135PENANAQEUfsKL6qq

Her lips quirked. Killing my old Champion brought a war it could not win. I severed its Rule, cutting it from the Realm's heart and leaving it to fester. Perhaps this place is a sign. Perhaps it has gone mad beyond care. Mmm. Perhaps I must end it, and my suspicions both. Smiling grimly, Goldenslaughter stalked across the ruined site of her crowning victory in the ancient vale Conquering War towards a smaller, even more broken ring of stones marking its inner Demesne. The fabric of reality here was still seemingly bent, and nearly broken, while the only thing moving remained whisping haze of its old influence yet unbroken, occasionally writhing slowly amongst itself or slowly reaching tendrils towards her with lazy interest. The pressure built. Do not let it wear you down. It is flexing its diminished muscles, is all. You still have more Power than it ever did, the night sky is pure of moon, and there always remains the dormant gate withing you, linking you always to the Black Well. Nearing the broken stones of its inner demesne, she saw a bright, crackling fire within throwing out stark shadows. Tch. Still scared of the dark, is it? She flowed smoothly inside: sudden *crunching* below matched her footsteps. Pausing, she held one black boot up in mid-air and looked down at the surprise carpet of squirming insects covering the ground. "Do not," she growled, looking up slowly, "toy with me."copyright protection135PENANAQxVadetLQd

A distant titter.copyright protection135PENANAzyULasmcmP

Pitiful. The carpet of insects writhed, clearing her way forward to the crackling fire. She advanced again, still outwardly confident while somewhat unnerved inside: although she had been victorious against it in the Conquering war, the fact that her grandest work of sorcery had not killed it yet remained troubling...copyright protection135PENANA4duZsWJe39

"None would dare toy with a Queen," came the strange, high voice again...copyright protection135PENANAEUHz4UNxGE

She slowed, and turned towards the voice...copyright protection135PENANAKfdF1o7nAu

Nothing.copyright protection135PENANAdFHIFaFpoI

"And certainly not I," it called out again from the opposite side, back from the direction of the fire...copyright protection135PENANAz2DgCIaqgR

Irritating parlor tricks? "Enough," she snarled.copyright protection135PENANA516iG7HOvi

A guttural squeal of pleasure came from the direction of the fire again. "As you command."copyright protection135PENANAiIXZqDa52y

Now. Queen Goldenslaughter turned, and...copyright protection135PENANAOBBsSea3Eq

The Slythy stood before the leaping flames: bestial in the fiery light, with long, bent arms and short, crooked legs, it was clad in a tattered green vest showing through to its hairy chest, and tight white breaches. Long ears pointed forward, it then leaned towards her, with a shocking ugly face marred by large eyes incongruously beautiful...copyright protection135PENANAUJs0288JWD

She tensed.copyright protection135PENANA2em0eMDpSF

A smile revealed brown teeth. "And lo, I am revealed!" It twirled once, then gave her a bow, mockingly low.copyright protection135PENANAXHhz99Nkcr

Goldenslaughter paused... then took a careful step forward. "Do you know why I have come?" she asked, smiling a wicked smile.copyright protection135PENANAL6bd7elfYi

The wyrd broken one cocked its head now. "Perhaps, perhaps. Not for answers, I hope, as your Only Question was used up and further questions would now put you in my debt. What a shameful shame!"copyright protection135PENANAT0wf0L2EaV

I took from the Lady to fuel my ambition. If you won't co-operate, then perhaps I can borrow something from your foul Essence as well, unknowing. Queen Goldenslaughter stepped forward yet again, still smiling. "Would you not kiss my hand, as a subject, for its sovereign?"copyright protection135PENANAj8CBHMLu6X

Dancing back around the fiery blaze, the Slythy looked like a boneless pagan. "A Lady you might be." It chortled, before hocking up phlegm and spitting it into the flames, sizzling. "But there will be no true obeisance." Finally, it danced completely out of sight now. "Your jewelry offends."copyright protection135PENANAWS485bnrrl

A pause.copyright protection135PENANAJkmgAn2C1d

Wait for it...copyright protection135PENANAxll9W3WHy2

Desirous of attention, as always: the Slythy now peeked over the leaping flames, with its long ears a-twitch...copyright protection135PENANAFvUKD0W0rn

Goldenslaughter just stared. "You have strange sensibilities, although no surprise, considering that you are merely an endlessly re-incarnating Ontological impression left in the fabric of this Realm from a failed Ascendancy, millennia ago. Yes, it would be no lie to call your Nature the strangest in my Realm..."copyright protection135PENANAmbIJsi6uV8

Her old enemy's body went suddenly still. "Your. Realm." It hissed. Or perhaps the sound was simply crackling flame...copyright protection135PENANAHst3Cq6y8F

Press it now, making it violate guest right. Goldenslaughter took another step forward... then stopped: its eyes looked strange at the sides now, like another set of irises were edging inward. A creature of Athra, yet a part of the Realm's metaphysical bedrock. Will I ever learn how?! Curious again despite herself, she called: "what are you, Slythy? Truly? There was ever a lack of understanding between us."copyright protection135PENANABNawxNwtOY

The hateful broken one shrieked obscene laughter, and the fire exploded upwards before suddenly giving out all at once, back into darkness. A low buzzing returned. "What I am is easier to know than what you are..."copyright protection135PENANARbaAUCS16N

Goldenslaughter frowned. "You..."copyright protection135PENANA9OgDSS4Yrc

Rising within the separating inimical Elements ahead of her, its outlines rippled. Wriggling...copyright protection135PENANAE20OyyC52q

What?! Goldenslaughter snapped her fingers, the gesture aiding concentration as her monolithic Will PUSHED a spell through the pressure of its inner Demesne to BURST witchfyre to life within the firepit, bathing the clearing in eerie green light.copyright protection135PENANA4TCetxRmyY

The Slythy remained standing there before her, but solid again now. "Why thank you!" it cried shrilly, dancing back around the witchfyre flames before coming forwards, towards her–copyright protection135PENANAaIMqmEjqDK

Unnerved, she retreated this time.copyright protection135PENANAChMC6laIrc

Abruptly halting, it did a little jig with its wormy lips pooched. "Don't want a kiss anymore?"copyright protection135PENANA9v6LKAiCWR

Her lips twisted. "No."copyright protection135PENANAA7zmxV1QlF

The Slythy sidled away, headed across the heart of its Demesne now. "Come, come," it urged, with dancing shadow stretching long before it. "Join me, join me." Jigging backwards, it left the circle of broken stones to return out into the hazy dark beyond, with its glowing eyes soon the only part still visible...copyright protection135PENANABYXoA4JLMb

Goldenslaughter took a careful step forward–copyright protection135PENANAYVH5HsFZ4C

Its glowing eyes blinked shut, and the Slythy was suddenly gone from all of her mortal, immortal, and magical Senses.copyright protection135PENANAQEJp1hl37H

Rudeness, challenge and now trickery. Why am I always forced to suffer such from this broken fool? She glared, then took a slow, prowling step forward while gripping inside of her black cloak for a hidden magical Tool and simultaneously sending coiling, corporeal living darkness (acting as her black shadow) spreading outwards, and smoothly splitting into black tentacles, slithering–copyright protection135PENANAIJFG7gKR2x

The sly voice called: "tisk tisk. You wouldn't want to spoil my surprise like that." Buzzing suddenly sounded again from all sides, angry and insistent...copyright protection135PENANA21sJ69cM9g

Goldenslaughter paused.copyright protection135PENANApZU9pVqLZy

"Come, come," was called again. "You have my word that no ill shall befall you..."copyright protection135PENANAsHh8ooo9fr

Waiting...copyright protection135PENANAGis82ziemr

"... yet." A titter.copyright protection135PENANAuMrpVQklBj

More indignity. But I came here for answers first. And if subtlety does not work, the hammer remains. Her teeth clenched, but she withdrew the tendrils of living darkness slowly, condensing them back beneath her as a blacker shadow. Silence now? Playing hard to get? Goldenslaughter turned towards the stand of blasted, ruined trees (where its voice had kept calling from), then stalked out from the inner circle towards them, crossing a lawn of rotting grey grass, while reality warped at the edges of her sight, before entering the trees where she abruptly paused.copyright protection135PENANAU41bcqABzP

A slurping squeal of delight came nearby.copyright protection135PENANA2f8voa5Gos

It will be something disgusting, no doubt. She prowled forward again, nearing the sound before emerging out...copyright protection135PENANA8Sezh9qCv2

... into a little clearing. "Sit, sit." The Slythy was lying upon its back, legs up high, and crossed mock-demurely, against a log while eating upside-down. Beside it, two plates waited upon a redwood's wide stump: one covered, and one not.copyright protection135PENANAWp6YBipbUY

Goldenslaughter hesitated.copyright protection135PENANA1Xe9sCjyjI

"Join me at table," it urged her again, then licked its long fingers clean and grabbed a handful of squirming bugs from its plate to shove them into its mouth, resuming more munching. "Your meal is ready."copyright protection135PENANA0sBe1ToswT

It never lies, whether fair or foul. Grumbling, she strode over to the other log and sat down upon it. Next: she removed her black hood, revealing her beautiful, bonewhite face and long blue-black ponytail.copyright protection135PENANAutjBrVTR6O

The Slythy watched, giving an upside-smile like a happy frown. "Your food is somewhat more to your liking, than my own fare..."copyright protection135PENANAP8L4heGBM0

Frowning at its hedged statement, she reached over towards the covered plate on the stump...copyright protection135PENANAjMsV1uOpWk

The Slythy giggled, still chewing.copyright protection135PENANAjrND2fyW6F

Hmph! Her pale hand withdrew.copyright protection135PENANAKWNv04JHGw

Wriggling its hairy eyebrows, the Slythy swallowed. "Heh. Suit yourself." It burped loudly, then selected a wriggling, fat beetle. "Love what you've done with your hair tonight, though I prefer the blonde."copyright protection135PENANAH0j9VkDJKA

Goldenslaughter glared. "Your words are never simple, nor your aims..."copyright protection135PENANA441RH37gZd

It popped the wriggling beetle into its gaping wet mouth, before crunching down. "My aims?" It swallowed. "Whatever might those be?" Another titter.copyright protection135PENANAVKaIfaNZRu

"You have been outside of the Bog recently. And often."copyright protection135PENANAwyuPIpam9U

"Is that a crime?" it asked shrilly.copyright protection135PENANAWdZY5G1cX1

"Perhaps, perhaps," she replied mockingly. "And perhaps you are easier to read than you know."copyright protection135PENANApSLAB1Kp1C

"Hard to believe, since there is little that I don't!" The Slythy crammed another handful of bugs into its mouth, then chewed loudly as its gnarled, hairy feet bounced happily up against the log. "Shuch ash whot yoof been up foo."copyright protection135PENANATxbnnTNxgX

Does it already know? Or is it fishing? Tch. As if the aims of such a fallen one should truly concern. Goldenslaughter sneered. "What I have been up to? Besides Ruling?"copyright protection135PENANArcaraf7cs5

The Slythy now gave a choking, wet laugh which sprayed bugs from its mouth. "Ha! She jests, she jests. You have not been ruling, but worrying." Another upside-down smile blossomed upon its ugly face, lips smeared with pasted bug and dripping drool...copyright protection135PENANAeSX0sz2dY3

Goldenslaughter snarled: "I worry for naught...Wait. There is more here. She smiled, slowly. "The foretelling you gave me, all those years ago, of my ruinous glory now seems more a great fantasy. The Realm is well enough, especially with your stink cleared from it again."copyright protection135PENANAPRB1fYV2wb

"Your crowing is hasty," it assured her, smiling even wider.copyright protection135PENANA0YnbpyrxLT

"I doubt that. My nose is better than most."copyright protection135PENANACZLAZd92q7

The Slythy bared its sharp teeth in response, then sent its long tongue out to slowly lick along its wormy lips, clearing away the slimy mixture. "You joke in the face of defeat." Its lips smacked loudly. "A woman after my own ruined heart!"copyright protection135PENANA5gYHheGchc

I do not understand what it is getting at, but even without lying, it must have become delusional. She scoffed. "Defeat? I see naught but my own people, my own land, and my own Rule."copyright protection135PENANAnhbLsAjT75

"But you do not have what you truly desire most, do you? And it must eat at you cruelly, cruelly."copyright protection135PENANAMJ4yj4Lt6c

What I desire most? Then perhaps it DOES know something. She frowned again. "Speak plainly: I tire of your endless prattling deceit."copyright protection135PENANAAcszUJNAW4

The Slythy hooted now. "The uninvited guest is rude. Rude!" An angry buzzing surrounded. "If only you were Golden's Laughter instead of Golden Slaughter. Ha! And to think I was going to share with you a helpful hint! A silver lining. A light in the dark. Heh, well perhaps not the last, considering what you still claim to be the Queen of..."copyright protection135PENANANjlY5OyoHG

"I–"copyright protection135PENANAuupy2JDOcK

A storm of furious buzzing blasted as waves of insects swarmed inside of the clearing, surrounding her. "You lying–!" She used her monolithic Will to blast Power into the living darkness beneath her cloak, immediately expanding its Essence to boil it up around herself into a protective cocoon which almost instantly hardened into a black crystal barrier. A long moment. Eh? Still no attack? Goldenslaughter used forcibly expanded her Nightsense through its ruinous Demesne's warding, perceiving...copyright protection135PENANA1NWtmQdara

Nothing.copyright protection135PENANAeftAdypMX7

Splitting the black crystal cocoon into pieces, she let it fall away and dissolve back into amorphous darkness swirling back into her Powerful, corporeal black shadow. Her eyes flicked left and right, but the clearing was empty.copyright protection135PENANAsrBS0ECEtP

A sly, shrill voice called: "a pity, a pity," the words echoing all around her, fading "a pity, a pity..."copyright protection135PENANAovClYYcc9D

Always another trick, trap, and insult! Goldenslaughter stomped forward enraged, glaring about. "You are a loathsome creature!"copyright protection135PENANAnnTRY6pnTn

"And a stern host!" Hysterical laughter echoed all around.copyright protection135PENANAumP6eQLRvf

Her dark eyes darkened black, burning. "Come back to finish this conversation with manners befitting your QueenOr be brought back."copyright protection135PENANAGTKifJhrWq

"Hoho! In the heart of my Power? Difficult. Costly. You are not what you were, even on a moonless night like this one."copyright protection135PENANA5jOYaN5AaY

"Neither are you. Rotting away, like your Demesne..."copyright protection135PENANAYFlOMAExr9

It ignored this. "And my manner does befit yours, for past and present–" shrieking laughter screamed all around her, "– and future sleights, I think!"copyright protection135PENANAN73xqihIKd

She remained standing there still, while beginning to swirl the living darkness beneath her, building it up stronger before placing five fingers against her neck and raising her other hand high, with the Ring upon it...copyright protection135PENANA9PwYOHLThW

In opposition: stirring haze thickened beyond her reach as the Slythy bid the local, inimical reality to begin distorting further...copyright protection135PENANASfCd3oNIWf

... a breeze began to gust between them now, transforming from their intermixed Powers into a fetid, cold wind...copyright protection135PENANASJnWhOeyxY

I am of the Night, and a Conqueror. Possessing immense Power, monolithic Will, and a Triumvirate of magical talent: it is time for me to show again. The Queen of Night suddenly called out dark, sharp notes lashing in five voices.copyright protection135PENANAMGOiFC0qvh

Its local reality shivered in response, but continued smearing into a hellscape returning mad echoes of her own voice along with foul gibberish, insane shouts, and disgusting moans of pleasure...copyright protection135PENANAnoxZBBnpkk

My WillThe Queen of Night now Sang out louder, sending dark notes striking HARDER.copyright protection135PENANAFc428lQnUn

Its building hellscape nightmare shivered harder, and was slowly pushed back...copyright protection135PENANAlG4aZJMZah

Purest black forms were rising from the living darkness still swirling beneath, and building around her.copyright protection135PENANAgxGOxiqVHK

Its building nightmare hellscape returned mocking calls, but they sounded strained...copyright protection135PENANAfnWjp5Fgsz

Now! She curled all ten of her bonewhite fingers around her bonewhite neck, and called out in ten voices, producing a sudden maelstrom of tortured sound gouging outwards to SHATTER the Slythy's still-solidfying hellscape nightmare back into a thousand screaming pieces...copyright protection135PENANAEOfJYesLdD

The local reality cleared.copyright protection135PENANA3ubJjI1JDJ

... and the Queen of Night was once more standing within the clearing of blasted, ruined trees. Nearby: the Slythy shrieked, but this time not with laughter. I win. Touching a bonewhite finger to her neck, she husked: "bring it." Her Dark Emissaries now raced off in all directions with inhuman SHRIEKS, surging along a black wave of living darkness crashing outwards. Bright lights flared on all sides, accompanied by mad calls and gibberish. She waited impassively, until a wail of pain came, transitioning to fast-approaching moaning as the wave of darkness returned to finally deposit the Slythy before her again, weeping, with its broken form broken further. Why was I worried? This has not been so difficult after all. Her burning black eyes faded back to normal dark as she let go her casting, which was draining her already taxed immense Power quickly. Rule is for the strong. I am still strong! "Doubt me at your peril. As it has always been," she admonished hoarsely.copyright protection135PENANAtT6qcwvRNY

Although the Slythy continued shaking upon the ground, the sounds it made gradually changed...copyright protection135PENANArrNGaMVDx8

Eh? Goldenslaughter leaned forward.copyright protection135PENANAgADskWalFO

It hiccupped a sob, then giggled, smiling madly while looking up at her with beautiful, bloodshot, bleeding green eyes.copyright protection135PENANA49HbzUH5Mv

It would still make light of me, then? She ground her teeth together in frustration. "Will you never learn your place?"copyright protection135PENANA4dWRU7EPKc

"Will you never learn yours?" it choked out. "Queen in Name Only! Your ruin awaits! With glory your end, for no Glory can be caged AND Conquered! We are both twisted by Fate, but your own reckoning comes!"copyright protection135PENANAY1MCt7yEse

Her nostrils flared. "You are just a broken old fool!" she shouted, her own voice breaking now, "and you will serve me or be humbled! Forever!"copyright protection135PENANAtxnaJX5r2S

The Slythy screamed back: "even now you lack that Power!" Laughter rose again afterwards, broken but defiant still. "You asked me a question, when last we met." Slowly rising, like a broken doll on invisible strings, its laughter also continued rising up all around them. "About how to catch a Glory. I answered fair and true, but you have only repaid me with more malice..."copyright protection135PENANAW65SY00CPL

Goldenslaughter glared.copyright protection135PENANAOOMBqgIZUb

The Slythy hopped towards her, but living darkness snapped out from the remainder swirling around them, restraining its wrists and legs. "Many have long wondered at the source of my Power," it breathed, so close that foul breath exhaled upon her face, "and one thing you should know is that enemies often strengthen it unknowing. Just as you have done tonight."copyright protection135PENANAdnIBysyETA

Impossible. She frowned...copyright protection135PENANAwPHCIFCIhs

Waggling its long tongue at her, it rolled its eyes madly. "I hope you left room for desert!" It smiled wider... and then paused, blinking. "Wait. What have you done?"copyright protection135PENANAt6ggHHwqGr

Goldenslaughter held up her bonewhite hand, the Ring upon it glittering. "Old tricks and new," she husked. "I can use a portion of your Power against you, even if I don't know what that Power is..."copyright protection135PENANABUPkvoM32G

Its laughter redoubled all around them, building louder back towards an utterly mad cacophony. "Let me return the favor!"copyright protection135PENANAEzvlbe0NWi

The Onta trembled.copyright protection135PENANAgqowH6eexV

Her eyes widened...copyright protection135PENANAF8PvtlUgpX

... and buzzing insects violently GEYSERED from its mouth and nose and ears, the local reality EXPLODING back into a draining nightmarish maw immediately opening to reveal the depths of an impossible screaming insanity that would consume allcopyright protection135PENANAW3wrpHGqvD

Where did it get such strength?! No! This is not natural: it must be going Burnout. The fool!!! Diminished from the constant drain of its Demesne warding, there was little she could do now unless she activated the dormant gate linking her to the Black Well. No! Such war is too early. She used her monolithic Will to flare her immense Power instead, immediately surging living darkness up around her in a protective cocoon which buried her back inside of its black embrace before condensing infinite: crushing, dissolving, and removing her before...copyright protection135PENANAIL37iKewYL

... it returned her outside. Stumbling, Goldenslaugher reached out to steady herself against a shadowed trunk as her protective cocoon of the living darkness dissolved away from her slender form exhausted from the costly Translocation spell. Ohhh. Pain for pleasure. She remained trembling for a moment, then looked up across the shadowed border of the forest, with that fetid wind still continuously blowing towards her from the hazy outskirts of the Bog...copyright protection135PENANArEUhanC4D1

Where the night had begun.copyright protection135PENANA1z5x1ufHVK

Be not discouraged: its time will come. Goldenslaughter shivered anyway. Nearly spent. Oh, aye. It lured me in, needled me, and after all of that I am now nearly spent. "My fate is my own" she hissed in stubborn defiance, then began slowly gathering shadow around herself while turning, and went stumbling away through the trees. Growing dim in the night, she eventually became a distant, dark figure indistinct, returning to...copyright protection135PENANAkEvoLN90j8

Stillness. Silence. With that fetid wind still blowing, and the Slythy's mocking laughter still echoing in memory.139Please respect copyright.PENANAH4gMChhRZc
copyright protection135PENANALLNF2X3F2G

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