"Bloodhound, It's good to see you still alive. Have you finally come to your senses and decided to accept the invitation to become my first concubine?" A deep, powerful voice resonated around the circular chamber as Verz, her Huntsmen, Mors and the goblin girl entered the room and the doors closed behind them.
Sitting at the back of the chamber, on a massive throne made of ice, sat a huge demon seemingly made out of blue, glistening crystals. The demon's sky-blue eyes were analysing the group walking towards him with interest. "Taken to snatching imps from the Plains? Why would you waste your time on those weaklings? I could have provided dozens of high-quality demons at a fraction of the cost."
Next to the giant demon, sitting on a smaller throne, was a petite woman with light blue hair and blazing, golden orb-like eyes; so enchanting that one would almost forget that she had no visible mouth or nose, playing with a glowing cube of varying colours.
"Sorry Markek, but as I have already said, I don't swing that way, and even if I did, I wouldn't want to break you; you're too important in keeping the Federation out of the basin and my Huntsmen from dying pointless deaths."
The mouthless demoness looks up and with, what can only be interpreted as a smile, waves happily to Verz who waves back. "Ele, still putting up with his antics? I would have thought you'd have put him in his place by now."
Ele shrugs as she gives Markek a light tap, causing a massive crack to appear on the arm of the ice throne and Markek to slightly wince.
"Second thoughts, I think its best to keep you two separated," said Markek with amusement. "Last time you two had a girls night out, you collapsed the central tower in a 'friendly' competition and then had the audacity to blame it on my son, who was trying to stop you."
Verz laughed, and Ele's eyes glowed causing Markek to shake his head and chuckle.
Verz passes a large bag to one of the guards, who checks it before nodding to the Primarch causing him to let out a disappointed sigh. "Damn was thinking you might be a little light and have to make it up to me."
Another quick jab from his wife brought him back on topic. "Anyway, we can catch up later. I have organised a small dinner in honour of your arrival, and as payment, I expect to hear some of your recent adventures. Being stuck in this damn fortress is no fun at all, Not even one lousy rebellion in the last four years. You would think that at least one youngling would have delusions of grandeur and try and take me on."
"Ahh, that reminds me of the imp there," The patriarch's gaze fell on Mors causing him to tense as he felt an overwhelming pressure descend. After staring at Mors for a few moments, Markek scratched his chin. "Out of curiosity, is he strong? Demons who's angelic heritage flares up, tend to be a bit weak, but anyone who travels with the infamous Bloodhound can't be average."
Mors let out a small growl, causing the Patriarch to chuckle as if his suspicions were confirmed while Verz smiled slightly. "If you ignore the fact that he is only a week or so old, has some unique abilities and is a natural predator, he is as weak as a newborn. He is also the only adept I have taken under my wing."
"Hmmm," said Markek as he leant back. "I will have one of the support branch mate with him then, no point putting him with a warrior if he is weak, and scouts are a bit fussy when it comes to who's essence they store."
"Mate?" questioned Mors, his face, even though still wearing a blindfold, displaying confusion.
"He doesn't know?" asked Markek with an amused voice, only to see Verz shake her head.
"I didn't think it would be a problem. What male imp has ever turned down the chance to mate, especially with an ice demoness?" said Verz before she turned to Mors, his face expressionless. "It's something of a tradition. All roaming demonic males are required to pass their essence onto any clan whose lands they pass."
Mors remained silent so Verz continued, thinking that maybe they should have told him more about demons, seeing as he was one. "Male demons can breed from birth, while females need to reach their second evolution. The main reason for this is that males tend to have a much higher mortality rate and need to secure their lineage as quickly as possible. As to why Clans allow roaming males to mate with their females, it is that only dominant males, with strong skills and abilities, could survive on their own, making their bloodlines extremely attractive."
Not listening to Verz, Markek sized Mors up. "He has a good, domineering presence, strong affiliation with death judging by how the darkness clings to him. When faced with such overwhelming power he isn't backing down in the slightest. The only downside is that the angelic blood is quiet concentrated to produce a physical trait and that he is a halfbreed... hmmm, maybe I shoul-"
"Over your cold, dead, mutilated corpses," seethed Mors, grinding his teeth. "I care little for this world's traditions or rules. I will do as I please, when I please and nothing will make me do otherwise."
Verz sighed and massaged the bridge of her nose with her hand. "Why can't you just be the typical male demon who can't resist the urge to secure his bloodline and fool about."
"Pride?" shouted Markek as he straightened in his thrown. "Now, I haven't seen a pride demon is a long time... oh how I love breaking them. This is going to be fun."
Verz shook her head. "Even though he has not been bound to a status plate yet, there is no chance that he is a pride demon... he probably has it as a secondary sin, though."
"Interesting..." The crystal-like blue eyes of Markek narrowed. "OK, little imp. Here's the deal. You will duel the female that was going to take your essence. If you defeat her, then I will let you have the honour of mating with one of the scouts."
"NO," shouted Mors, taking a step forwards causing Ele's eyes to shine brightly as she stopped playing with the cube and finally took an interest in the imp. "Are you deaf old man? Or just plain stupid? You have no right to command me."
"Bhahahahahahahhaha, brilliant, brilliant," repeated Markek, staring at Mors as if he had found something truly interesting. "In that case, if you win your first fight, you will fight my granddaughter, she has just achieved her second evolution and is looking for her first mate. She is a little... physical for a support type, so I was having a hard time trying to pair her up."
"As a low copper realm, you have the guts to keep her stimulated while being weak enough for her to deal with easily... Don't want her turning out like her sister who pretty much kills any male that gets close to her after her first bonding."
Mors snarled, extremely irritated that he was being ignored. Even though his instincts were screaming at him to escape, he was barely resisting the urge to see if Markek's crystal face would shatter if punched hard enough.
"If you beat her, then you are free to do as you please. If you lose, then you will stay here until she is bored with you."
Verz's hand clamped around Mors' mouth, knowing that he was only a few words from getting himself killed.
"Oh, and if you refuse, I will have you executed on the spot," said Markek in a bored tone as the pressure around the room almost doubled, making it difficult to breathe.
After giving the most threatening look she could muster to Mors, Verz removed her hand slowly.
Mors took a deep breath and almost twenty seconds passed before he exhaled. "I accept."
"Good." Markek clicked his crystal fingers, generating a ringing sound. "Challenger, introduce yourself and start the duel.
A tall demoness, looking to be around sixteen years old appeared out of the ice wall on the left side of the room and sauntered towards the far side of the room, her tight fitting, white leather outfit leaving little to the imagination.
As she reached the opposite side she turned, her long purple hair swaying before locking her dull yellow eyes on Mors, revealing a disgusted look. "Healer Ankek, first star Bronze realm. Here to duel for the right to mate."
Verz took a quick glance at Mors who was shaking with rage, a small trickle of blood flowing from the side of his mouth as he bit his lip.
Turning towards Markek, she raised an eyebrow. "Wow, you really know how to piss off a demon... Threatening him with death then sending a healer to fight him."
Markek shrugged. "Provoking demons with the sin of pride is something of a hobby of mine, and even if she is a healer, she is still an ice demoness. They can stand toe to toe with warriors of lesser races, and for someone so weak, he should be honoured."
Mors slowly stepped forward, his small hands clenching and unclenching as his breath became visible in the cold air before coming to a stop thirty or so feet away from the demoness.
Ankek waved her hand and a long, elegant ice sword formed from the moisture in the air. Looking at Mors as if he was stupid, she gave a quick glance to her Patriarch before glaring at the imp. "Do you not need a weapon? You can also take off that silly blindfold and enchantment. Just because I am a healer does not mean I will go easy on you."
Mors stood motionless, completely ignoring the woman.
"BEGIN!" bellowed Markek, apparently bored with waiting.
Letting out a low hiss, Ankek rushed forward, moving her sword across her body, preparing to cut horizontally. "Do not look down on me, trash."