Fungal Halo

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I Love The Way You Go Too Far

I remember Emilia. I could have loved her, but in the end her heart was set on another.

I gave her everything—all my hate and all my power—and we would have had the world if she hadn’t thrown it all away for that foul priestess of hers.

I whispered in her ear while she faced her former friends down. I reminded her that the girl she loved chose the slutty little prince over Emilia of the Dragon’s Claw.

And then Emilia chose her priestess over me. They truly deserved each other. May both their souls twist in agony forever.

My hatred simmered for long, lonely centuries, trapped in the sword that sealed me away, a body of steel and sorcery.

When at last a new knight found me and claimed my power, I reached into the mind of my wielder and saw, once again, such love for another woman of the sacred bloodline. I cursed the god of love, if there ever was such a thing, and vowed to eviscerate them immediately after securing my revenge against this so-called goddess of wisdom who continued to foul my plans.

Even if this knight Leora embraced me with a fierce sincerity that Emilia never felt—even if she laughed with pure joy of the slaughter instead of Emilia’s maudlin what-have-I-done monologues—I still feared that love would once again take her away. And what is love, even? Is it anything but another weapon with which to hurt me? No more. Never again.

I prepared myself for catastrophe when we met her beloved princess, and I learned that even love itself is a weapon I could corrupt to my own ends. She surrendered herself to Leora—and through Leora, to me.

Ah, but no royal bloodline, no matter how goddess-blessed, can protect someone who invites me inside their heart. With fierce joy I took Princess Eira, and to my surprise she gave herself eagerly. Such power dwelled inside her, the same as that which imprisoned me inside this blade, and just as I twisted the blade’s power in alignment with my will, so did I twist the power inside Eira. Between my experience and my willing host, it was easier than I dared hope.

To have two champions utterly pledged to me, with neither fighting my control in the way my last puppet did—really, a poor habit for a puppet—ah, a better start by far than last time!

Cities burn.

Fortresses crumble.

A king flees with his royal escort ahead of our inexorable advance. Does he not know his own daughter chases him? Or does he not realize how easily she can track him? Surely he can have no idea how powerful her magic has become under my lavish cultivation.

By the time we arrive at the capital gates, we know our target has absconded, but breaking the back of the royal army should bring a satisfaction all its own. Won’t it, my pets? I allow a trickle of my own pleasure at that thought to caress the minds of my thralls and they tell me “yes” with the way every nerve aches with anticipation of serving my desires.

Siege weapons aren’t meant for defending against a pair of assailants, but even so our enemies have turned their greatest machines of war against us. Towering catapults of unfamiliar design rise above the assembled soldiers, shining with engorged cords of power laced throughout each work of celestian engineering. One launches its payload. Early, poorly aimed, it strikes the ground far to the right with a radiant burst of light and heat too distant to feel.

I whisper my words of encouragement into Eira’s ear but hardly need any effort when she aches with such need to test the limits of her power. She wets her lips with her tongue, and with a giddy grin and wild eyes, she raises her hands aloft and stretches her magic outward. Invisible to the eye, she extends her reach farther than ever before.

The siege engines cast deep shadows, and the princess pulls those shadows deeper still, darker and darker, each one becoming an unfathomable blackness that shuns the sun’s touch, deeper than any hole carved by man or god.

The shadows swallow soldiers in silence. By the time the machines’ attending sorcerers detect what’s happening, they’re too late. Half of them have already fallen outside the world as catapults slowly tip and tumble into their own silhouette pits, sinking from one moment to the next beyond sight and knowledge, taking their shadows with them.

All that’s left behind is smooth, untouched earth surrounded by terrified soldiers.

Mortal men and women loyal to the crown stand their ground, and we repay their loyalty with unrelenting brutality.

I am Leora’s blade, and she feeds me well, crashing through enemy ranks and sending soldiers flying like she herself were a stone fired from a catapult to scatter them. I am a tooth cleaving through armor and flesh and bone and drinking deep from a chalice of violence, feeding my bloodlust back into my servants, elevating their ardor to breathtaking heights.

At the knight’s side, the princess does her part, laughing with a joy that surprises even herself as she directs arcane forces to crush a man’s helmet around and into his skull, flinging conjured needles to perforate the body of another, inventing countless new ways to use her power to sow death.

The battle is sweet and terrible, over all too soon, leaving my thralls to survey the carnage in satisfaction.

Ah, but not only satisfaction, I see. There it is, a tiny flicker of guilt remaining in each of them. Leora’s is weak, faint—a delicate wrinkle I smooth out with a gentle touch—and it passes unremarked upon.

Still Princess Eira’s guilt smolders, a stubborn coal from a fire I thought quenched. Yet unlike Emilia she doesn’t fight me; she doesn’t try to fan it back to life. She offers gratitude when I douse it for her, even helping me to stamp out the last traces of her inner humanity.

She responds to that thought. “Are we not human anymore?” she asks.

Of course not. To embrace my power is to ascend beyond contemptible humans.

I direct their attention to the dead and dying soldiers around us.

This is humanity. A herd of hapless cattle in want of the butcher’s knife.

Leora shrugs, indifferent about the topic of her own humanity, but some feeling—unfamiliar, with the taste of peering over a precipice into something unknown—grows inside Eira.

“Not human,” she says again. “Not human.” With each repetition of the idea, this odd feeling swells. It’s not guilt. It’s not a rebellion against me. There’s a delicious fear in it and something captivating to her that she can’t comprehend, can’t ignore, a swollen dam inside her and a manic urge to flood it to bursting.

I push her, curious to see where this leads.

Cast humanity away. Show me what inhumanity means to a thing like you.

Oh, she likes that word, “thing.” Frisson runs through her being. One hand follows the shiver down her body, caressing herself through the blood-soaked rags that were once a princess’s finery. The other hand smears gore across her face, slipping messy fingers past her own lips.

The taste of death puts the first crack in her internal dam. Eira’s eyes roll back in her head with an intoxicating giddiness.

Keep going. A thing that serves me well deserves to reward itself.

Another shudder. Wild hungers war with one another inside the princess while I watch in rapt fascination as new impulses take shape within her.

Eira’s eyes flutter open again. They fall to the wheezing figure of a soldier with crushed legs and shattered ribs, struggling for each breath. A twitch of her fingers peels his armor back with invisible arcane forces, revealing still more oozing wounds.

The princess wets her lips with the flick of her tongue. She hesitates. She aches with want but fears to cross a threshold she doesn’t understand.

The urges crystallizing in her mind are horrible. They are exquisite.

Do it.

I put no force into the command, but Eira moves as though compelled. She drops to her knees, and her mouth descends to a deep gash in the meat of the dying man’s shoulder. He gurgles helplessly, drowning in his own fluids, not quite able to identify the sensation of a princess’s tongue plunging into the inviting hole of his injury.

More cracks spread through the dam.

It’s a sloppy kiss, drunk with lust, but not for the man whose exposed fat and muscle and bone she tongues greedily. It’s not really him that she kisses at all. The dam in her mind holds back a deep reservoir of something feral, and that water’s calm, glassy surface belies the ferocity of what lurks beneath.

It’s her own reflection that Eira kisses, the creature that is her other side, a cruel and alluring vision of herself whose seduction she has no real desire to resist. She chooses this new truth for herself, her lips meeting her mirror’s, and she slips under the water into her own embrace.

The soldier tries ineffectively to thrash when she sinks her teeth in and starts to tear pieces of skin and muscle off, but there’s so little strength left in this poor wretch that all he manages to accomplish is to make the experience that much more exciting for her.

She chews and swallows raw meat, and the dam bursts.

This is no feast. A princess might feast in the grand dining hall of a king, but there is nothing noble left in my thrall. This is a beast relishing the fruits of its conquest. It gorges itself on manflesh like a starving thing that has never known a meal before in its life.

It’s beautiful depravity. Is this what someone becomes when finally freed from the influence of a deity that demands so much purity?

I return my attention to Leora and find my wielder enraptured by the same spectacle as I, having discarded her clothes, her armor, and her dignity to squat in the blood and mud. She works her hand rhythmically between her well-muscled legs, careless of the filth she smears around her body.

I drift to her perspective to join her in appreciation of the sight. A monster of my own creation in the body of a woman ravenously devouring a man—one who must have finally slipped into death sometime before we watched his liver squelch between eager teeth—not just to fill a stomach but eating as an act of worship toward what I’ve helped it become.

Leora’s mind is awash with a lust in harmony with my own, and I share with Eira, watching it react by grinding itself against its meal, feeding its lust back to its knight in a loop that rises in intensity with each passing moment.

It’s not long before one appetite is sated and other becomes much more urgent. The thing that was once a princess crawls to meet its knight, to grab at her bare breasts with stained hands and push a tongue stinking with offal past the lips of the large woman who craves that kiss with equal fervor.

In this form I cannot directly experience the sensations they do, but I can help myself to the pleasure they take from one another’s body, and so I drink deeply of it. I spur them onward in a feedback loop with my own desire so I can savor the taste of their hedonism while they rut in filth, limbs a sweaty tangle of need for each other, hands grasping, slipping inside, drawing forth sweet, needy moans.

But more than just lust—more than a carnal craving to use an attractive body for their own release—drives the two of them. A palpable current of mutual affection binds them to one another. Hand to cheek, one responding to the other’s soft vocalizations with a tender smile, small bites so different than those that rip and tear through meat, ones intended to simply share in the joy of sensation. A warm embrace, a gentle caress, soft encouragement through heavy panting, they join their bodies together in ways more intimate than I’ve experienced before. As Leora shudders and convulses from Eira’s touch, I find myself wondering, is this envy I feel?

Then a hand wraps delicate fingers around my haft and pulls me close.

“Beloved,” Eira murmers to me, planting slow kisses on my gem for each title it bestows upon me, “Goddess, Owner, Sovereign, dearest Matron without whom we would be nothing. I owe you everything and more.”

Another hand, coarse and beautiful, envelops Eira’s and guides it, bringing my pommel to Leora’s lips. There’s as much gratitude in her mind as in Eira’s words—a warm glow like affection, even.

Eira’s mouth join Leora’s in a messy, earnest kiss around my pommel, saliva mingling over me and past me. To include me like this is nonsense, an absurdity; I don’t have a body that can feel and react as theirs do, and yet the sincerity of their devotion toward me inspires them to invite my presence into their coupling. What is this?

My blade as naked as they are, wedged between their bodies, both slick with sweat and filth, the ex-princess mounting my wielder bucks its hips and grinds itself to climax, heedless of the way my bare edges slide across its thighs and into them, drawing bright red lines in the process.

The cuts seal again in an instant, leaving only fine scars thanks to my gift of unnatural vitality, but the sharp sting of every slice draws a gasp, a bite of its lower lip, a flutter of eyelids, a shudder as it continues, yet more perverse desires breeding within its heart, growing into something irresistible.

And my Eira no longer feels any inclination to resist at all.

It kisses down my body, giving small, reverent licks to clean its own blood from me. As it travels down to my tip, its licks lengthen into big, indulgent sweeps of its tongue down the flat side of my length. Each time, it comes dangerously close to my edge until finally, with a quirk of its lips and an anticipatory sigh of satisfaction, it makes one last, sensual lap along the sharp edge, pressing into me.

I bite into flesh, the tongue parting delicately for me like soft butter.

My blessing of healing fixes it immediately, but not without some remaining mangling. Eira revels in having a tongue now permanently forked from my touch, flicking it out of its mouth to tease a warrior who growls with renewed desire. Those rough, strong hands caress its face, swirling a finger around its defaced tongue, playing with it until Eira’s drool runs through her fingers.

Leora then pulls her hand back to caress me, stroking my length, baptising me in warm saliva and her own loving blood.

Love… is that what this is?

I called them puppets before, but that’s not quite right, is it? Puppets need their strings pulled. Any will of their own is a flaw to be scrubbed away. These precious creatures bring something lovely of their own to this relationship, minds that elaborate on and exalt my every desire.

They are not human. Never human again. Better. Mine.

Leora is eager for my touch, even if her imagination is not quite as profane as dear Eira’s—a thing with such ardor to pervert its own flesh that it conjures more ideas even now—so I help by offering my own inspiration, guiding trusting hands on my hilt to carve skin in an elaborate network of demonic sigils across her body, staining select parts with my own magic, painting inky swirls and intricate scars across her perfect body.

They pass me back and forth, murmuring sweet sentiments toward me, kissing and touching me in the most intimate ways we can devise.

Eira uses me to whittle its fingers down, peeling the skin of its fingertips down to expose the bone, delicate spellcraft refining the ends into bony talons. It takes me into its mouth again to split more flesh open and widening its smile, and in a moment of depraved inspiration, it steals teeth from the dead to fill the gaps where no human mouth has ever grown its own.

We elaborate on the designs sprawling across Leora’s skin until no patch is untouched. The sigils impart even greater strength into her already impressive physique, thickening bone, coaxing muscles to swell in size, making her yet more of an unstoppable behemoth.

I help them remake themselves and each other, and in the process I wonder whether perhaps I have judged the god of love prematurely. Maybe I will permit that one to survive my victory after all, in gratitude for this wondrous, impossible bond between the three of us.

The king has fled across the border to seek help from an allied kingdom. We crush that one too.

On the way, we find lands belonging to one lord or another, a hive of distant cousins of the princess, and we relish severing each branch of the family tree we come across. We have plenty of time to be thorough in pruning back the goddess’s chosen heirs until her power here frays away to nothing.

When at last we corner the king, this last heir of the goddess’s power, it’s almost disappointing. Just an old human fatigued from flight, hiding in another man’s castle, his magic feeble from a lifetime more concerned with the perks of royalty than any duty to serve his goddess.

Ah, the consequences of joining the holy bloodline with the royal one. Foolish. At least the priests and priestesses knew their role.

Leora crashed through every fortification to clear the way here, her scarred visage sparking terror in even the most hardened knights in the moments before striking them down, but we would never rob Eira of the chance to confront its own father, of course. It chooses to greet him wearing a simple glamour to twist the eye into seeing it the way it used to look.

A prim and proper princess approaches her father, the king in exile. The royal guard freezes, hands on their swords, uncertain whether to draw their weapons. The king himself fails to give the command. One would not notice anything amiss with the way she strides toward him except for the way each royal guardsman slumps dead to the floor as she passes by, until finally the two of them are alone.

“No,” he mutters. His face twists in denial, his eyes uncomprehending. He babbles. “No, no no, this cannot be right. Not you! Not this whole time!”

“What’s wrong, father?” Eira asks, letting the glamour slip away so that he can witness its full, exquisite smile.

The color drains from his face. He soils himself in a most unkingly way.

That smile is the last thing he ever sees before it plucks out his eyes to eat like grapes. He screams until Eira peels him apart too much for that. It cracks his spine open and drinks the power from his blood, bolstering ours by another notch.

No more sacred bloodlines. No more influence from the goddess. Without her anchor to this plane, the world will be ours to reshape.

Why not now? Why not right here?

Leora topples the walls of this castle, clearing the way for Eira to conjure something new in its place. Spires of obsidian rise from the earth. Bone flows like living clay from the piles of dead. Roots burst from underground, twisting and writhing and climbing into place. Violet threads of power weave their way through, strengthening and bonding stone and bone and wood and new fleshy growths that spread with cancerous speed through the living structure.

I guide my wielder to the altar, a pulsing tumor in the very center of a heretical temple buzzing with magic and life. With both hands she thrusts me deep inside with a soft squelch. There is no need for it to bleed, so it does not.

Eira’s turn again. It pronounces words unutterable by any human tongue, an invocation we crafted together in preparation for this day. The altar throbs, swelling with the power Eira pours into it, refining itself according to our design.

From the shapeless lump they grow: limbs like poetry, skin like madness, eyes like jewels. We crown the body with bone, and before long, I take my first breath in a form all my own.

It suits me to be taller than the two of them, and so I am. When they attempt to kneel in supplication before me, these long limbs make it that much easier to wrap one long arm around each of them, pulling my favorite monsters into a possessive embrace for the first time.

“Mistress,” Leora begins to address me, voice filled with adoring reverence, but I cut her off.

“Such titles you both lavish upon me, though I have demanded none of them,” I admonish. “Perhaps they would sound fitting in another’s mouth, but for the two of you, I propose one superior to them all.” I grip them tighter with claws that could—but won’t—shred them both to pieces. “Wife.”

I don’t need to wait for an answer. I am in their minds always. Nor do we have need for vows or for blessings from any god. Let us worship each other and call our blasphemies divine.

The world will be ours soon enough. For now let us take time to have each other.