“What do we have here?” the Black Baron asked from his seat, his voice dark and rich, oddly pleasing to hear, but Mira was not fooled by the smooth tones and polished accent.

The Black Baron had risen to notoriety over the past few years as being completely depraved and without mercy.  Mira had shuddered when she heard the first whispered tales of the atrocities he had committed against his fellow human beings, while Asha had purred in delight.  Anything that made a demon happy was not a good thing, so Mira started on her hunt, following rumors of his movements, always one step behind until she chanced upon one of his scouting parties and they took after her.

“We found her out in the woods m’lord,” the scout captain answered, stepping up beside her.  Looking at her from the corner of his eye he gave a sly smile.  “She’s comely enough so we thought we’d make a gift of her.”

The Baron nodded as he eyed her thoughtfully and unfolded himself from his makeshift throne.

“Kneel,” one of the other men growled in her ear.  Mira glared at him and looked back to the man at the top of the dais.  A vicious kick to the back of her knee made her cry out as her legs buckled and she knelt at the foot of the dais.

“That’s better,” said the Baron as he descended the steps.  He was just as tall as Mira expected, as she watched him descend the steps through the fringe of her bangs.  She spared a quick glare for the bastard that kicked her before returning her attention to the man that came closer to her.

“It’s only fitting that you kneel before your new lord,” he said as his feet touched the ground in front of her.  It took everything she had not to roll her eyes at him as he said that.  By the gods the man had an ego on him.  She would not feel sorry for riding the world of it.

Mira shakily got to her feet and looked up at the man towering before her, jutting out her chin defiantly.

“Queens do not kneel,” she said, her voice projecting over the assembled men.  Much of the camp had gathered to see what their leader would do to this woman, and most hoped for a bit of blood sport with her, willing or not.  Her words caused soft laughter to ripple through the crowd, the Baron did not laugh, but his eyes tightened and his smile grew brittle.

“I did not know I had the honor of addressing royalty,” he asked with a chuckle that did not reach his eyes.  “Pray tell me your highness,” he asked with a mock bow, “What would your name be?”

“I am the Red Queen,” she said, drawing herself up to her full six foot tall frame.  This time the laughter of the crowd was not muted, but Mira ignored them.  She only had eyes for the Baron and would not let anything sway her from her path.

“The Red Queen is a fairy tale told to scare old women and children,” the Baron said with a snort. “You are no Red Queen.”

“And you are just a little man with an overgrown ego and an undeserved sense of entitlement, a jumped up highwayman with dreams he will never achieve,” Mira retorted, deliberately trying to provoke him.

It worked.  The Baron gave no outward sign of his anger, but all sounds in the clearing ceased as those gathered waited to see what he would do.  Mira was barely able to register the movement before the Baron’s hand cracked across her face, splitting her lip and sending her spinning around to collapsed to the ground.

“I see I will need to teach you some manners,” he said, his voice as cold as the grave.  “Maybe some time with my men will teach them to you, they are not as kind as I am.”  He turned on his heel to walk away but was stopped by the sound of laughter.

Still hunched over herself on the ground, Mira’s shoulders shook with mirth as her laughter grew louder and louder, before she finally threw her head back and cackled like an old crone, her hands covered in the blood that poured from her broken face.

“No, no sweetling,” she chuckled as she finally rose to face him and the Baron’s eyes widened in shock as he saw her eyes were no longer a deep brown, but rather a dull red.  “It is I who will not be kind to them,” she purred, her voice taking on a darker, huskier tone.  Flicking her wrist at the Baron, the men gathered gasped in astonishment as he was thrown backwards, spikes of deep red, crystallized blood piercing his skull.  He was dead before he hit the ground.

There was a moment of stunned silence as the crowd processed what it saw, then the clearing exploded.  Men rushed for weapons, screaming as they ran towards Mira with swords over their heads, else in fear as they tried to run away.  But Mira would have none of it.  Drawing on the blood pooling around the dead bandit’s head, she sent tendrils of it to snare the feet of every man trying to flee, and about the cacophony of fear and rage rose the sound of her laughter, bright and insane.

***

In the twenty years that Mira and Asha had been bound, Mira had not aged a day.  Housing a demon had its benefits, as well as it’s downfalls.  In addition to greater strength, speed stamina, and healing, Mira had gained a few darker gifts as well, such as the thirst for blood and the ability to use blood magic.

All demons could work blood magic, for it was blood that they fed on, and blood that sustained them.  Ashaslaademora passed on her thirst and her gift to her host.  It was the driving reason behind her fleeing her throne.  Being queen meant you could ask for your meat as rare as they could get it, but the blood from those meals and those animals was not enough.  She needed human blood as well.

Thankfully Mira was able to quell the blood urges for longer and longer periods of time than when they were first bound, but eventually she would be driven mad by the thirst and kill anything that crossed her path, human or animal.  A fact she learned the hard way when she happened upon a family farmstead when the thirst had her in its grips.

That is why she walked the dangerous roads of her kingdoms, the ones known for their bandits.  That is why she never stayed in once place for long.  Who would search for bandits who had gone missing?  Who would care?  But what bandits and marauders would set up on these very roads if she stayed in one place too long, picking them off?

Mira wiped the back of one shaking, blood stained hand against her mouth, swallowing down the bile that threatened to consume her as she looked at the bodies -human and animal- strewn around her.  The clearing was drenched in blood and gore, every living creature that was once in it had been torn limb from limb, their bodies and appendages thrown around like children’s toys.

She never remembered what happened.  When the craving became too much, she sought out a group such as this one, and let Asha take over.  Mira wanted no part of the slaughter, and so granted the demon the one thing it craved most for the briefest moments in time, confident in her ability to wrest control of her body back from the demon, but it was becoming harder and harder to do so and Asha knew it.

Ah, that’s better, Asha whispered in her mind, a sultry susurrus that never failed to disgust Mira after a bout of carnage.  The bloodletting was orgasmic to the demon, emotionally and physically, and she never failed to let her host know it.

“Damn you to the hells and back demon,” Mira said aloud, her voice shaky as she fought to keep from vomiting the blood back up.  “If I knew what would rid this world of you I would do it gladly, and damn the consequences.”

Oh my sweet, dear, deluded child, the demon chuckled.  You cannot be rid of me.  Ever.

There must be something that can wrest you from me, and I will find it one day, Mira thought defiantly.

But Mira darling, the demon started inside Mira’s head, before wresting control of her body from her.  “I am you now,” it said with her lips.

Her eyes, once the deepest shade of chocolate, turned into the red of blazing hellfire.  The long, smooth black hair unbound itself from its scraggly braid as it turned red and started moving with a life of its own.  Ashaslaademora looked down at her new body, stroking its curves and stretching its limbs, ignoring the shrieking of the mortal inside her head.

“Hush now darling,” the demon said with a sultry laugh.  “You really only have yourself to blame.  You forgot that blood also makes us stronger.  All those times, when you were assuaging the driving thirst and hunger, trying to find a release, you were only making me stronger.  Maybe not strong enough for me to break the bonds binding me to this miserable flesh prison, but at least strong enough to oust you as the leading lady,” Asha said with a small shrug.  A dark smile spread across her face as Asha strode over to the body of the Black Baron, her every move sensual and meant to entice anyone who watched her, living or dead.  Dipping a finger into a pool of sticky blood by the corpse’s head, she languidly reached out her tongue and licked the digit as if she were savoring the most delectable of delights.

Her hand twitched as she pulled it away from her, and her neck gave a small spasm, signs that Mira was still fighting for control.

“I admit it Mira sweetling, I thought to have this done long ago.  But you are one stubborn bitch,” she growled, a fresh trail of blood oozing down her chin as she fought back. “You were able to fight the cravings longer than I ever thought a human could, but I knew you would give in.  They all give in.”

Mira said nothing.  What could she say?  She was now in the demon’s shoes, bound to ride as a passenger in her own body.  All that was left to her now was to fight for as long and as hard as she could.

“But now it’s my turn to run the show, and unlike you dear, I have no problem feasting when I need to,” the demon paced around the clearing, stroking the flank of a dead horse here, gazing into the glazed eyes of a corpse there. “In fact, I have no problem taking sustenance even when I do not require it.  And so long as I do so my sweet, you will never be in control again.”

Asha looked north towards the capitol, where once Mira ruled as queen.  “Now, let’s see how your subjects like the return of their long lost queen hmmm?” she asked, laughing in delight as she danced across the gory clearing.

Mira could only watch in despair through eyes that were once hers, trapped in a body that was once hers, as the demon turned her sights back along the road they had come and started for the capitol.

Advertisements