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    Blackshard

    In the shout, I've been muttering for the longest time about the idea for a story relating to parasite armor. Originally I was picturing something simple, a oneshot heavy in smut and not really leading anywhere.

    However, after a bit of side reading of some other, surprisingly plot-heavy smut stories (Stowaway especially, I highly suggest that to anyone into magitech and pirates), I found myself getting more and more ideas, and now here we are with the first couple chapters here of Blackshard now in my word processor.

    Expect extreme kink, plenty of magic, and of course sentient armor that's depravity for existence is only matched by it's urge to, you guessed it, take over the world (OF COURSE!). Enjoy.

    ---

    Blackshard - Prologue

    In ages past, Kalifer flourished with the discovery of magic. Each of the great races discovered magic in their own way. The elves found the powers of magic through nature and life, using the elements of the forest and life itself to enhance their arts and twisting nature without harming it. Humans, with their strong emotions, found themselves gifted with magic with discipline and control of their mind and feelings. The dwarfs, while mistrustful of the arts of magic used by other races, instead found the magic-imbued stones and minerals of the earth and conducting them into great technology. Finally, the Greenskins discovered the magic of the soul, shamans and necromancers divining the spirits of the dead and parsing its energies.

    However, over the years, complacency led to experimentation. A young elf and human, lost in love and masters of their art, found themselves the unwitting discovery of a new art of magic- that of rifts. The world found beyond the rifts was alien to them, and the further explorers of Rift Magic. Dark, filled with luminescent fauna and flora, under the rays of a dying sun.

    This realm, however, was not empty, and the Abyssites were found.

    The Abyssites were found to be alien to the mortal races, and many were ferried through the rifts, questioned and experimented on with the curiosity of a child with a new toy. Those with noble means, upon finding the Abyssites to be sentient, quickly grew appalled and confused, wondering how another sentient race could exist in the endless flow of magics. Those with less noble means, however, were none too kind, exploiting these new species with impunity.

    Eventually, something had to give, and unfortunately, it broke in the worse way possible.

    Even the Abyssites were in control of magic, able to twist the aether of magic unpredictably, however there was another sect, long outlawed by the Abyssites themselves for unknown reasons. This second magical power, known as Netherweave, was another dimensional rip, but to one even darker, full of horrors beyond mortal comprehension. The leader of this darker sect, hidden from his people for years, revealed himself as the workings of Rift Magic bridged the realms of Kelifer and the Riftlands.

    Nethermagus Ateryx quickly drew in allies to him- others of black hearts and wishing for the lust of power and domination, from all the races that now graced his dimension, and after gathering a great host, struck against his own people. Slaughtering hundreds of Abyssites and pilgrims of the other races, the thousands at his command soon marched through the rifts into Kelifer, making a bid for power in the kingdom’s sand-blasted deserts.

    Surprisingly, Kelifer’s soldiers quickly strike at Ateryx’s forces, smiting many of these twisted individuals under the command of the elven queen Ellethas Leafspar and the human king Lothorn Shrinebearer. As thousands turned to hundreds, Ateryx plotted a new plan, one that would tear Kelifer’s world to ash.

    Retreating to the Riftlands, Ateryx tore five fragments of chitin from his own body, and called forth the powers of the Nether into them, possessing them with terrifying beasts that lived off other creatures, only to grow into powerful armor, impervious to blades and firearms. He gave these shards to his greatest, and most depraved of champions, and swiftly these champions began to rip their way through every town and dwelling they could find, raping, pillaging, and killing all that stood against them.

    Only the combined armies of the people of Kelifer and the Abyssites not under Ateryx’s sway were able to hold back against these dark champions, long enough for the alliance of the great mage kings to find the weakness of the Blackshard- magical flames, born from oils treated by the four races, and then set alight via the Aetherflame of the Abyssites. Though these Wychfires the Blackshard’s champions were left bare and quickly fell to the blade, except for the Shardbearer from Ateryx’s own people, who fled back to his side.

    Following her, the free people of Kalifer struck back into the rift and fought against Ateryx, determined to have him answer for his crimes and the lives his men slew. Ateryx hastily repaired his remaining champion’s armor, strengthening it far greater than he had first planned with his great magic. This final champion, his last line of defense, flew into the lines of her foe, blades striking through men as if they were straw, and her weapons eventually felled King Lotharn and Ellethas, who died in a final embrace. The Dwarf’s high lord, Helvoque Magmahammer, and the Ork Grand Shaman Gul’thog managed to hold their forces together and finally slew this great menace.

    Upon Helvogue’s mighty hammer finally meeting Ateryx’s heart, the Nethermage released his energies, the already strained Riftworld starting to collapse. Rapidly, the people of Kalifer fled through the rifts, returning to their land just as the Riftlands tore itself apart.

    As the dust settled, Kalifer rebuilt. A new grand matron of the elves and king of the humans was chosen, as the Abyssites reassembled the council that once ruled them, now in this strange land. The Blackshards of the four slain Shardbearers were sealed away in great magitech vaults built by the dwarves, and warded with magic and traps of all five races, to prevent this great evil from ever being released. With the final shard having fallen with the corpse of the last Shardbearer in the now-dead Riftlands, there was no longer a threat to the peace of Kalifer

    Centuries passed, and the knowledge of Rift Magic was lost. Races mingled, species diverged, and Kalifer healed as the lines of magic began to mingle and twist together.

    However, Kalifer’s peace cannot last forever...
    Spoiler


    Most nonlurkiest lurker on the fourum(s) since 2004

    #2
    Re: Blackshard

    Blackshard - Legend in Waiting
    [WARNING: Fingering, attempted rape, and genital mutilation ahead]

    The forest of Silverpine stretched all the way around the mound of rock and cliffs that some idiot decided to call a mountain. Specifically, Death’s Plummet Mound. Of all the places to hide a treasure, Kiva had to admit that it wasn’t easy to get to, what with climbing all day towards her query.

    Reaching the edge of one of the many steep cliffs, Kiva gave a grunt as she tugged her way upwards, a slight wince as her leather padding constricts into her ample chest. Gripping the rocks before her with powered fingers, she tugs herself upwards, the rucksack on her back rattling with camping equipment and the staff tucked through the straps behind her. After a bit of struggling, huffing, and general complaining she finally tugs herself up, rolling over against the rough stone with another loud clatter of her rucksack.

    She wasn’t too bad looking, for having lived on the road for most of her nineteen years. Ebony skin, leading one to believe she came from the island nations to the South Seas, and black hair roots, sweeping back into a long ponytail, edges shaded a deep blue. She wasn’t sure herself how she could have such a coloration naturally, but it certainly wasn’t something she had a good source to ask about it. Wiping her sweat from her brow, her purple eyes glance up into the sky above her, the silence of the woods around here reaching unnatural levels. She hisses a little to herself as she flips back over, looking to the cliff wall next to her and the cave that yawned deeper into Death’s Plummet Mound.

    She drags her staff from her back, the heavy wooden pole resting easily in her gloves as she also fetches her lantern. If her sources were right, some of the last of the Nether worshipers used Death’s Plummet as a safe haven before the Royal Armies finally tracked them down. However, all the riches and remains of the Riftlands the army left, fearing them tainted by the debasement the magicians practiced. If she was lucky, perhaps those riches had withstood the test of time.

    Flicking open the lantern, she pulled forth a pouch of powder from her belt, gently pouring some of the reddish substance into the center of the lantern. Capping the reservoir, she pressed a switch on the lantern, and a quiet buzzing filled the air for a few seconds before the firepower caught, sparks dancing through the glass before the crystal inside glowed with warmth. This lantern, crafted by the dwarves, had cost her a fortune from her last find, and her supply of gildings was running short. If she had any chance of eating upon returning to town, she needed to find either game or enough riches to pay her way to comfort- at least, until she got restless again.

    Slowly she worked her way into the cave, Kiva held the lantern in one hand, using her staff as a walking stick as she entered the darkness.

    --

    Hours of walking, and a steadily lightening canteen, and still no sign beyond rock, rock, and more rock. Each step was slowly making the concern over whether she had her sources right replaced with the fear that her greed was going to kill her this time around. About the time she was talking herself into turning around, however, she rounded a corner, and her mouth fell open in awe.

    Even with the superior lighting of a flarestone lantern, Kiva couldn’t see the roof or far wall of the cavern, but what she could see was dimly-glowing flarestones, numbering hundreds recessed in the cave before her. She can barely make out the sight in the stones recessed in walls next to doors and windows, ancient fortifications built all over in the natural structure. Reaching down the middle, massive flarestones, many of them broken or dead of light from neglect, lining the road to a massive structure in the middle of the chamber, statues clinging onto the rocks and staring down with disapproval at all the dead stone.

    Kiva slowly walked along the rough stone path, the carved bricks under her feet apparently hewed from the very cave floor. The silent guardians holding the massive, heat-conductive stones above her head all stared with disapproval, the figures varying in builds and genders and all bearing no clothing. The glint off some of them caught her eye, and she looked upwards to notice gemstones and plated gold around the limbs of some of the statues, like large bangles and armlets, others bearing many filled parts of gold on their bodies like piercings and other jewelry. While no blushing virgin, she did have to raise her eyebrow at the elaborate carvings, especially the times where the carver apparently got confused at the gender of the subject. Shaking her head a little at the deviant appearance, she moves further towards the giant structure the figures seem to stand guard for.

    Slowly, her feet move from flat cobble to short stairs, looking up at the carved structure around her, unknown symbols and writing carved into the stones around her. If she knew how to read that would probably have told her more of this place, but alas, when one is busy surviving, skills for the rich is not needed in her line of work usually.

    Finally, she reaches the top of the stairs, looking around at the chamber that greeted her. More fancy writing all over, but the alter sitting bare in the room quickly making her spirits fall. Great, people were here already, she mentally cursed, still giving a quiet look around the chamber.

    A loud scraping happened behind her, and the light from behind her seemed to dim for a second. She spun around, holding the staff level across her.

    Nothing.

    Slowly she bent down and sat the lantern down, giving a slow glance around as she held the staff with both hands now. Quietly she turns back towards the rough altar, raising her eye a bit at the odd indentations and hole. She bends down over the altar’s surface, staring into the hole and trying to divine its purpose.

    Suddenly a large hand smashes onto her back, slamming her leather-bound chest into the altar and causing her breath to leak out of her. Grunting she reflexively swings her leg backwards, smashing into something warm and fleshy with her boot and electing a light grunt. With the weight on her back lessened, she presses her weight into the staff and rolls over, the stick swinging hard and again colliding with something before she spins around to face it.

    The chamber the alter lay in was easily ten feet high, but the beast that had followed her in was easily almost as high. With the form mostly of a man, several drastic differences set him apart. Heavy, large hooves ended his feet, an extra joint in the leg acting as stabilizing its biped form. His head was not a standard human, but one of a beast, cold eyes burning with fury at her underhanded tactics out of the visage of a bull, with wicked horns jutting out of his head. Battle-scarred hide shown from many battles before, his cold black skin surprisingly hairless and seemingly oiled, but the mass that her foot had smacked was definitely the selling point, the beastman’s equipment hanging like a draft horse as it started to throb to life, balls the size of her breasts bouncing between his legs beneath them.

    Kiva’s nose flared and an involuntary shiver rolled down her spine, but she shook her head hard with an angry growl. She had been on the receiving end of these musky beasts before, and while it had solved her food situation for a few months, the rehab was not something she wanted to experience again.

    While the room was way too small for her staff to be effective, her drastic swinging back and forth seemed to delay the creature’s advance towards her, allowing Kiva to slowly wander around the alter. With the massive slab of stone between them, she gave a bit of a cocky grin to herself, as the beast breathed hard and stared her down, the scraping of hooves tracking as it slowly backed up into the doorway again.

    There was a brief stalemate, Kiva keeping her staff pointed towards the beast threateningly, the minotaur staring at her all the time.

    And then the minotaur stepped forward more, causing the woman to step back a few feet. A quiet ‘tick’ of her staff scraping wall echoed behind her, but she didn’t back down yet, as the beast lurched to the right of the alter and charged at her. Rolling to the left, she once again lashed out, her staff crashing into the creature’s side and causing it to grunt in pain. She slid the weapon back before it could grab hold of it, and twisted towards the door.

    As if expecting her to go to the exit before trying to beat him, the beastman leaped forward, a mass of muscle suddenly smashing into the much smaller human like a fully loaded tech cart. A loud clatter from her rucksack as her belongings are scattered, as a deafening snap as her staff breaks against her back and the unyielding wall. A squeal of pain leaves Kiva as she collapses, out of breath and groaning in agony from the massive blow.

    Uncaring of the effect of its bulk on its prey, the creature grabbed Kiva by the ponytail, roughly dragging her towards the altar and electing a loud shriek as she’s dragged by the sensitive bundle. She weakly tries to beat his arm away, but it may as well have been striking a piece of iron for how unyielding the impact affected it. With his other hand, he roughly groped at the shorts she wore, long nails causing scratches on her belly and thighs as he looped his fingers into the top and yanked down, dragging the rough fabric of her outer clothing painfully off her hips, belt included.

    With her bare lower folds exposed, she wasn’t able to defend herself further as a massive digit slipped inside, a loud hiss of her violation even as some of her muscles relaxed. Focus, dammit! she thought to herself, biting her lip to try and force more pain into herself while her hand felt around her, as the loud clops of hooves sliding closer to the alter and the creature’s massive rod laid between her legs. Even as her body was slowly dragged towards the altar’s edge, wincing as it scratched across the stone the shaft was still so long that as her knees dangled off the altar it still was pressing at her agitated outer lips.

    As the creature let out a massive snort, she feels her hands wrap around a part of her now shattered weapon, the splintered wood offering potential. As the creature grinds it’s cockhead into her snatch, trying to force entry, she gives a strangled yell as she pushes herself forward, thrusting the splintered wood towards the beast’s undefended privates.

    The pitiful mix of mooing and screaming filled her with some vindication as the splintered mass smashed into his pelvic region, and the creature pulled away rapidly, even as several streams of pre splatter the alter. Gripping at the wood still imbedded in one of those massive, seed-filled balls, he staggers out of the alter room, droplets of blood and cum trailing in his wake.

    “Next time, give me a job offer first,” Kiva muttered, shimmying her shorts back up and reaffixing her belt, even as a deep crimson crossed her cheeks. Stupid of her to think that this place was empty, she thought in a more serious tone. She needed to get out of here, treasureless or not...

    Below her, some of the creature’s discarded liquid slowly leaked into the hole in the alter, and Kiva found herself staring at the back wall of the chamber as a loud clattering of mechanisms began to slide free.

    Kiva’s eyes grew wider as the light behind the opening passage quickly began to flood out, revealing what had apparently been hidden there for centuries.
    Spoiler


    Most nonlurkiest lurker on the fourum(s) since 2004

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Blackshard

      Blackshard - It Lives
      [WARNING: Tentacles ahead]

      As Kiva slid off the altar, staring into the secret room, she reached down and grabbed her lantern, shedding the focused light into the dimly glowing chamber.

      The room glistened with the reflected light of hundreds of gems, piled halfway up the wall all over. With scatterings of magical stones and gold poured all over the room. In the center of the chamber, a stone pedestal stood, itself buried towards the top in priceless riches, but with enough of a path before it to reach its contents. As much as Kiva salivated at the fine meats and wines this horde could purchase, the strange fixation with the pedestal made her curious, the young treasure hunter slowly approaching the pedestal and the object that lay on it.

      The top of the pedestal had been draped with a fine silken cloth, though the edges looked worn and frayed from the centuries it had laid dormant. Atop it, a singular item rested, apparently left here with riches that only barons and kings could dream of in one life. The strange diamond-shaped object that rested with all these riches was as black as midnight, and seemingly unnaturally smooth to be of any stone Kiva knew of. The thing seemed quite alien to anything she had quite seen before, and she picked it up, examining around it for any chance of seeing its use. No openings, cracks, or even signs of erosion from staying in a stagnant cave for years revealed themselves to her lantern light, however.

      Deciding it was something that she would have to have her appraiser friend in town look over, Kiva slid the strange shard into her rucksack, and quickly set to work shoving as many gems and coins into the bag around her camp supplies.

      ---

      For the first time, it felt something. It felt life, a conscious figure nearby.

      Slowly, it stirred, the creature getting a feel for what had happened to it. It sensed, rather than saw, that it was in darkness, rough stones and other things jumbled in around the smooth chitin that it used for an outer shell. Naturally, not even the diamonds would cause it concern, but it did feel most indignant to be jammed into such useless material items. No, what it sensed near it was something far more priceless than any mortal wish for riches.

      Quietly, a fragment of the chitin on its side splits along it, pink flesh lining the inside. Focusing hard, it stretched out a tendril, and instantly smells, tastes, and touch came apparent to the creature. Burlap, gems, iron objects... Bleh, why was its mind so fuzzy. It needed a host, it needed to feed long and hard, maybe then perhaps it could think more.

      Painfully slowly, the appendage squeezed and constricted, slowly dragging the fragment along through the jumble of objects it found itself in. The objects slowly pushed aside as the tapered shard shoved through, before finally the taste and grit of dirt and the long decayed reached its senses.

      Beyond it, it sensed two blobs of heat, one much smaller than another, but it was the course of magic from the larger blob that got its attention. The emotions were untamed, unlearned, never properly released and bottled in. Even from this far away, the arcane energies caused it to shudder in its secure home. It was official, this would be a prime host for it to grow. The Nether must have blessed it for having such a perfect creature to inhabit.

      As it inched towards the source of heat, the shard tried to think long and hard, focusing intently on the last time it had taken a host. Such a delicious morsel she had been, with a strong will helping to fuel it with its resistance even as they conquered lands far beyond where it was born, only for the relationship to crumble from unexplained magic. A part of it hoped this host would be as strong of mind as it was in body- otherwise, the true fun of its work would be over far too soon.

      Quietly feeling the sense of heat near, it stretched the limb forward and-

      PAINPAINPAINPAINPAIN

      A quiet hiss left it as instantly it let the mass of sinew it was using to control itself disengage from the rest of its form. There was a flare of heat nearby as its old controlling limb was caught on fire and quickly eaten through, only for it to return to coldness where it lay. The creature inside of its shell shivered as a flash of terrible memories reached its mind. The burning, the screams... A defense that it’s kin could not defend itself from.

      As a new limb stretched from the hole, pulling itself around the accursed heat that had confused it, it chastised itself for not ensuring it was going towards the right target. Its sense of smell diverted its attention, however, as it caught smell of another odor- one that instantly changed it’s self-loathing into that of a hunger burning into its brain. It was so weak, but it could smell the new host, and the taste in the air was divine.

      Even if the woman had bathed before, the smell that it got from her included the stench of many races, from the bestial to the kind of its creator. For a second, it sat still, confused as to how something could hold that many signals of so many prey and creatures at once, before it halted its thoughts. Starved for how long was not going to assist its cognitive skills. It needed sustenance, to grow, for more of it to develop, and then it could ask the host directly as need be.

      Using most of the strength remaining in it, a second tendril slid out beside the first, tugging towards the creature before it, and more specifically to the musty scent it could detect on it. Questionably the tendrils slowly felt around before it, finally touching the warm skin of the host, brushing against a thick fabric weave shortly after. Giving a mental frown, it felt more, detecting leather towards the top and slowly metal after following it for a short time. With dexterity unrivaled, the two tendrils worked out the belt latch, blindly feeling around before working the clasp free, at which point it gently tugged the offending garment downward.

      With the barrier removed, the tendrils slowly arched along the creature’s inner thighs, feeling the lean muscles of the host’s body. Clearly athletic maneuvers was its strong point, it mused, one of the tendrils carefully sliding upwards between her legs to feel the taught muscles of her abdomen. Perhaps this one was a warrior, already a step up from the past host, who had been idle most of her life before the bonding. Perhaps it wouldn’t need to do all the work this time.

      Eventually tracing the tendril just under the woman’s breasts, already the creature was sensing it stir, and it could hear quiet murmurs. Whether it was still in dreams or awake, however, it wasn’t sure, so the tendrils halted the exploration, a breathless few seconds as it waited for a scream or cry of confusion. Instead, to its own confusion, the woman’s hips rose slightly, causing the trailing tendril to slide along her slit, and the creature could feel the wetness that coated the appendage.

      If it had a jaw and lips to flex, it would have given a sadistic grin. She was locked in dreams, possibly thinking the actions on her body were a part of it. Perfect, no quarter was to be given now. It needed to feed.

      With nothing else to hold it back, the tendrils slid down to the entry of the woman’s body, slowly continuing the rubbing that got such a good reaction to start with. The woman’s gasps and mewls were growing louder, the vibration echoing onto its shell when the tendrils slowed. Both tendrils slowly angled downward, pressing against the woman’s entrance, and as her hips jumped again the thin appendages slid in greedily.

      Already it was feeling invigorated, the mass inside of it starting to thicken and grow stronger, and more of its mind began to feel like it was working better. Thoughts were coming faster, its feelers were feeling more responsive, and the entire creature hummed quietly to itself as it violated the younger host laying before her, the creature still lost in blissful night visions. However, its hunger had been left unsated for what felt like years, so it could afford to fall into gluttony for a short while at least.

      Hungrily, it rammed it’s tendrils into the quivering humanoid, the feelers pulsing as each coating of nether fluids was quickly absorbed, only for the next to coat it with an even greater mess. The woman’s cries were growing more pronounced, and the creature allowed itself to create an audio receptor, giving another hum as it heard its new host for the first time, wild moans echoing into the dark woods around them. Rapidly the tendrils trusted faster and faster, forcing more of that delicious nectar to coat it as the woman was driven towards her bliss.

      When it finally came, a echoing scream of passion filled the forest, the heavy thrashing of the woman’s hips nearly dislodging it’s feelers as a splatter of fluids splashed across the hardened shell. Quietly the creature slid the tendrils out the rest of the way as the host collapsed, her heavy panting echoing as the finger-sized tentacles gave a reassuring pat on her inner thigh. It could sense light starting to dim, the fire that had caused it grief earlier slowly turning into darkness.

      Once again, the chitin fragment shifted itself around with the feelers, now moving towards the back of its host, and finally a name folded into its conscious, once again electing a mental smile that it could not share.

      Ashur. Ashur was her name. The Blackshard of the Abyss.
      Last edited by lurker; 22nd September 2014, 21:37.
      Spoiler


      Most nonlurkiest lurker on the fourum(s) since 2004

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Blackshard

        Blackshard - Ashur
        [WARNING: Tentacles ahead]

        Kiva groaned as she woke up, the loud racket of what seemed like half the forest’s birds gave loud cries and calls to each other as her body stung with pain from sleeping on the hardened forest canopy. She shifted on the blanket that had been below her, shaking her head slowly as flashes of her dreams ran though her head. She certainly hadn’t had such visions like that in a long while, but even then they never usually were that strong. It was like she was getting pleasured during them in reality...

        As the blanket atop her shifted down, she paused, staring at her shorts no longer resting on her hips. Slowly her eyes focused where it should be, and her eyes widened.

        Sometime during the night, something had changed her clothing. Instead of being bare-skinned under her shirt and pants, now some form of strange, black attire covered her from her privates upwards, across her belly and under her shirt. Lifting the garment up, she found it continued from there, coating her chest and even further, and a quiet pass at her neck with her hand found even more of this strange, smooth substance having formed a slight collar around her neck, with an opening at the front. At first glance, or from a distance, this strange attire could be seen as seamless, but being so close to it, Kiva could see the seams and layers of the plated garment, many fragments allowing for her to still have range of movement without allowing the seamless black shell to part or move.

        Kiva patted along the sides of the chitinous leotard, confusion evident in her mind. Where had it come from? How did it get onto her while she was asleep? Why-

        With dread, she looked over to her bag, spotting how some of the contents had scattered from it. Shifting to her feet, she quickly moved to it and dug through the contents, feeling for the strange artifact she had found earlier.

        No dice, it wasn’t there anymore.

        {Awake now, are we?} cooed a quiet, soothing voice somewhere behind her.

        Instantly she whipped around, dragging a cooking pot from her supplies to defend herself. Kiva’s fury, however, would be met with only some of the nearby birds flying away.

        {Heh, cute. Not that way.}

        Again Kiva spun around, giving a loud growl as she holds the improvised weapon ready, again being met with an empty expanse of trees.

        {Nonononono. Down here, cutie.}

        Slowly, Kiva looked downward, and her she gave a shriek as she saw the strange, chitin mass on her chest staring back at her, a singular, violet eye staring from just between her breasts.

        {Dramatic much?} The voice catcalled again, the singular pupil rolling a little. {Now than, if you’re done causing a panic, perhaps we can discuss things like civilized creatures.}

        “What... W-what the... What in the FLYING FUCK of Methura’s hundred concubines are you?!?” Kiva exclaimed, a hand quickly diving for her shorts to reaffix them to her hips.

        The voice gave a loud laugh, a musical sound that seemed to make Kiva’s head spin a bit. {You have no idea?!? Has my reign of terror faded that long?!? Pathetic.}

        Kiva hissed a little as she prodded at the thing, and admittedly her own belly. “Hey! All I know is I found an odd rocky thing, I thought it was just some funky piece of obsidian the whackos thought was important. How was I supposed to know it was a... a... um...” Her fury faded a little as she once again realized she wasn’t able to label this creature.

        The laughter began again, only for it to be silenced, Kiva wincing as she felt her waist getting squeezed hard, holding her upright. {Oh dear, oh dear. You really have no idea. Little one, you should feel honored to be the host of none other than Ashur, Blackshard of the Abyss, slayer of monarchs and the personal maiden of our grand lord Ateryx. Now, if you would kindly inform me where his holdings are, I must reach his side again.}

        There was a generous pause, as Ashur’s singular eye watched the paleness of her host’s face, before Kiva threw her head back, laughing herself now.

        {What?!? What’s so funny!?!} Ashur growled, the armor along Kiva’s sides tightening and causing her laughing to strangle into a loud choking cough for a few moments.

        “Look, I got no idea how ya got taken out of the other world, but there’s no great kingdom waiting for you. Ateryx has been dead for centuries, and his little cult died shortly afterwards. I found you in a secret room in the last holding they had before the Royal Armies squashed them like the little pests they were.

        {LIAR!!!}

        Kiva winced hard, the chitin on her chest tightening harder, leaving her gasping for air as her lungs get crushed, and she falls forward on her face. Whimpering and shivering, the woman gave a heavy smack against the plates, trying to get it to stop choking her. Just as the edge of her vision began to fade into black, the armor relented, relaxing around her and finally allowing her to gasp for air again.

        {So... My sacrifice was in vain after all, and I was left alone again... Guess that explained the hunger at any rate,} Ashur mused, the eye lazily staring off into the forest as if lost in thought before focusing again on Kiva’s face. {Right then, it is clear that there is much I need to know about this world. Luckily, there’s someone very close by that I am sure will be more than happy to help.}

        Kiva gave a bit of a snort, crossing her arms. “Yeah? What makes you say that? I may not have ever met something like you before, but I’m not an idiot. Besides, with you stuck on me, how am I to get into towns or talk to people?!? You’ve ruined my life the second you-“

        The small rant was instantly dissolved as Kiva felt a heavy mass suddenly squeeze into her nethers, and a loud squeal leaves her as she falls backwards, her hips twitching as pleasure burns through her. Ashur’s musical laughter filled her head again as the tendril she just formed squirms inside of her host. {Clearly we both have a lot to learn, than. You in particular need to learn to shut up, little thief.}

        “THEIF?!? I’m a treasure hunter you sunofa-“ Kiva again starts to speak up, only to squeal again as another tendril presses against her asshole. She grits her teeth as the tendril presses harder at her tense muscles, only for it to relent, leaving her giving a staggered whimper as the second intruder works its way inside of her body.

        {Whatever, close enough if you think of it,} Ashur remarks, the daemonic armor shoving her tendrils deeper into Kiva as her host squirms, gasping and whining as she twitches against the ground. {See, the Blackshards weren’t just brainless armor fragments. We grew and adapted with our host. Enjoying the taste and pleasures they experienced as much as we enjoyed giving our hosts the experiences. They feed us such, and in return, we make them stronger.}

        Panting hard, Kiva struggled to set up, her belly squirming as the strange intrusions curl and twitch around her insides, curling into sensitive areas and threatening to make her twitch uncontrollably again. “Nn-nngh... S-so what? You’re gonna fuck me until I’m a walking hunk of metal or s-something?” she managed to stammer out, tugging herself to lean against a nearby tree.

        {Of course not,} Ashur replied, even if it was only a half-truth. She wouldn’t be doing it all in one feasting at any rate. {However, considering I doubt even now a creature like you enjoys a sword in the gut, I need to feed a bit to get the full defense ready. Sound reasonable?} Cooing to itself, Ashur quickly sped up the tendril’s actions, sawing the two tendrils against each other through her body, hastening the pleasure of her host.

        It was hard for Kiva to stifle her body’s reaction, her face burning hot with the flush of her embarrassment as the demon that had decided to bond to her continues to make a mockery of her resistance. The tendrils seemed to lazily work at her now, one sawing forward before relaxing, only for the other to surge ahead in her other entry. With her weight supported on the tree behind her, all Kiva could do was spasm and moan, her fingers digging into the grass under her as each drag into her belly pushes towards her peak.

        Ashur’s hardened chitin let out quiet hisses around Kiva as she squeals in pleasure, its host shivering madly as her insides clamp down around its probes. The flood of human nectar flooded right into the interior of the living armor, splattering right into that absorbent flesh of Ashur’s unarmored fragments.

        {Good girl, good... See? You’ll enjoy this arrangement too, not a problem,} the armor purred slightly, a rhythmic rub down Kiva’s back as she pants hard. {Now then, where were we...}
        Last edited by lurker; 4th January 2015, 11:34.
        Spoiler


        Most nonlurkiest lurker on the fourum(s) since 2004

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          #5
          Re: Blackshard

          Blackshard - The Long Walk

          Kiva grumbled slightly as she shifted her pack onto her shoulders, giving a snooty glare down at the violet eye staring up at her as she straightens the strap. “Fine then, if you’re gonna be glued to me, what the heck do ya wanna know before ya get me murdered?”

          {Oh don’t be so overdramatic,} Ashur murrs, the armored being giving another small rub down her back. {I’ll not be too obtrusive, but you can’t fault a girl to flaunt her skills after a century or two.}

          Kiva flushed a little, her face giving a small frown as she glanced into the sky, giving a second to get her bearings before marching east from her now-empty campsite. “Guess on the bright side the only place near us is Herdspire, so I guess oddness should be expected there. Just no suddenly peering out when I’m talking to people and I might be able to get away with calling you some sort of hybrid armor I found.”

          {Fair enough,} the voice replies back. {Still, Herdspire? I am unaware of your land, and perhaps even less considering my previous visit to this plane was spent erasing landmarks.}

          “Oh don’t remind me. I know the stories, considering my last few years I’ve been emptying your cultist’s hidden vaults,” Kiva replied, smirking slightly as she heard a quiet, growling noise emanating from the armor. “Hey, you guys weren’t using it, so what was the harm of redistributing gemstones and metals into the populace?”

          Ashur didn’t bother trying to argue that one. {Back on subject, Mur’gola. You mentioned this Herdspire being unconventional... how?}

          Now it was Kiva’s turn to bristle. Her teaching has taught her some fragments of Netherspeak, and Mur’gola was the dead language’s term for ‘Mutt’. “Interesting choice of words there, smarty. What I mean by Herdspire being odd was it’s almost entirely filled with monsterfolk, and surprisingly friendly ones. Sure, they’re all sexed up on hormones whenever a non-monster shows up like me, but they’ve helped me out with appraisals while working up here.”

          Ashur let out a soft hum as she thinks a little bit. {Interesting, you’d think such beasts would have just savaged any trespassers, specially a morsel as tasty as you.}

          “...That’s a little creepy. Though I guess that’s a point. Stupid minotaur broke my staff just before I found you even, gonna have to look for another one on the way back...” Kiva muttered.

          {Oh, so you’re a staff user? Well then, let me help with that...}

          Kiva gave a sharp gasp of surprise as she felt the armor shift around her, and several pink tendrils wrap around her left arm, twisting in a helix around her limb. Kiva watched, transfixed as the pink flesh coats along her ebony skin, slowly followed with more of that black carapace. As it reaches her hand, the coating of flesh stops before it can coat her fingers, filling in the gaps around it to make it appear as a thin membrane that her fingers appear through.

          Apparently that wasn’t the end of it, however. Flesh balled up heavily on her palm as the chitin plates slowly catch up with the rest of her arm, resulting in the limb now sharing the skin-tight plated armor that covered her torso. As the plates left her palm alone, the large growth started to stretch wide, plating growing along it and holding it rigid. Soon, the shaft grew into several yards, and Kiva could feel the weight as her hand wraps around the biologic staff.

          {Well?} Ashur asked, the violet eye watching Kiva handle it experimentally. As Kiva let go for a second, she watched as strings of the flesh below her hand followed, stretching like sinew on a freshly-skinned kill.

          “I can certainly say it’s odd having a weapon connected to you like this, but I guess it’s convenient,” Kiva admittedly, continuing to give a few test spins. For some reason, Kiva could feel the satisfaction reverberate from the creature around her as it made a soft murr in response. “Maybe it’s time I ask you a question though: What’s up with all this Nether stuff anyway? I’ve heard a lot of babble but, well, it’s been rather taboo for centuries for obvious reasons.”

          Ashur chuckled lightly. {Perhaps I could help with that. What are you curious about?}

          “Well... come on, what were the cultists about? I just got you all were a bit angst about not being the major religion and, well...” Kiva started, before a loud yelp comes from the tightening around her torso again.

          {Angsty?!? We were a minority by choice! The Abyssites were taken over with vanity how they saw it, and when the option of power came to them, they got scared due to it warping the world around them,} Ashur muttered and growled. {If anything, the cultists of Mungor was trying to make a point, but nooo, Axertyx had to go and... and...}

          Kiva coughed a bit as the armor slowly released her, looking at the purple eye still formed on her chest. “A...And?” she asked, a bit hesitant that it would lead to another freakout.

          {I...I... I don’t remember... I don’t know why but... I can’t remember...}

          Kiva slowed down a little and tilted her head. “That’s kinda convenient.”

          {Oh shut up. When you live for over a century it can be hard to remember details. Still, I do at least remember some of the old speeches. About ‘reinventing us as a stronger culture’ or ‘reimerging as a superpower’... Kinda sounds cliché’ in retrospect, but when all of you monkeys started poking around our place he probably just panicked and tossed an assault as fast as possible...}

          Nodding slowly, Kiva hummed a little, slowing her pace. “I guess that makes sense... Maybe he should have slowed down a little with his assault he could have found someone to better explain his plight, the cults wouldn’t have been reviled.”

          {You’ve not met a Mondur cultist, then,} the armor chuckled. {Head first, dive right in and get shit done, even if the long term is not gonna work out right.}

          “Well in that case I’m surprised there was enough left to make a shrine for you. Though the better question would be, why didn’t you bind to one of the survivors?”

          Silence. Very, very, awkward silence. Even the eye that had formed on her armor had suddenly sunk back into the plating.

          As she made camp for the night, Kiva wondered to herself just what she was going to do about this situation.
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          Most nonlurkiest lurker on the fourum(s) since 2004

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            #6
            Re: Blackshard

            Blackshard - Herdspire
            [Warning: Tentacles, Voyeurism, Exhibition Ahead]

            The next morning, Kiva awoke with a scream of ecstasy as she felt her hips shiver and twist, Ashur’s tentacles already working inside of her body as she was dragged into consciousness. She groaned slightly as she tried to focus her scrambled thoughts, her insides twitching as the Blackshard received its latest feeding.

            “M...Morning to you too...” she mutters.

            Ashur simply chuckled, removing the mass from her nethers and ass. {And the same to you, my host. Slept well, I hope?}

            Kiva grunted, frowning slightly as she glanced at her right arm, noting that it too now shared the same plating as had formed over her left the last night. “I see you’ve been really busy...” she deadpans.

            {Unhappy? I can make matching leggings...} the parasite teases, a mass of flesh rubbing against Kiva’s mound slowly and forcing another weak whimper from her. {Or do you not like that I can do whatever I want to you, whenever I damn well please?}

            “C-cut that out...” she stammers, her body shivering even as she hastily tried to pick up the campsite again. “I-I can’t have you doing that walking through a town of various creatures, all right?”

            The lump of chitin over her collarbone split again, revealing that piercing violet eye staring up at her, even as the armor slowly withdrew from her softer flesh. {Oh you are such a delight, you know that? Talking so innocent one moment and the screaming in bliss the second. Absolutely hilarious.}

            Kiva sighed, her face reaching a bright red from the Blackshard’s remarks. Finishing the securing of the campsite, she dragged her bag over her shoulders with a grunt. “Never gonna get used to this, at this rate...”

            {Good!}

            ---

            Kiva moved towards the town, taking a quick glance at the several rough wooden structures ahead of her before glancing down at the eye on her chest. “Ok, smarty, time to shut up and look normal down there,” she told Ashur, looking downward again. The parasite armor simply glared at her with its one eye before it sealed tight.

            Giving a little sigh, the adventuress started moving into the middle of the buildings proper. It wasn’t too odd a place at first look, considering most frontier towns in Kalifer, with rough timbers shoved into ramshackle cabins. Just one glance of the populace around the place however would quickly dash that this town was normal- all sorts of creatures were milling around, talking around as easily as any other species. At one side of a rough building, a satyr talked with a human, the creature’s long horns curled along its head towards it’s back, while a short way away a lamia eagerly gossiped between a harpy and wood elf.

            {I do not see what you are so worried about, this place looks like any other gathering of people,} Ashur asked, a feeling of intense curiosity reverberating from the mental discussion as Kiva ducks, a harpy flying past her head onward into the town.

            As if ready to prove Ashur wrong, a loud moan leaves an alley near them, and an eyeball quickly forms on the armor on Kiva’s side to see the source. A sizable centaur’s hindquarters had pressed itself over a crate, sawing back and forth into some object ahead of it. From the legs splayed around his haunches, and the loud womanly groans and whimpers for more, it didn’t take much to figure what he was up to.

            “This type of place is a hotbed for public indecency, kind of why noone’s claimed this town for themselves yet,” Kiva whispered down to Ashur, trying to do her explanation without looking too crazy.
            {I see... Heh, oh you humans and your odd sense of decency,} Ashur teased back, a subtle rub along Kiva’s spine forming as she quickly hid the eye again. {And the smell... no wonder you had so many exotic flavors on you when I first awoke, if this was your last stop.}

            “Hey! Cut it out...” Kiva grumbles, though already the heady smells of several different individual’s musk were starting to grow much more palpable. “I just gotta make one stop here to lighten the load of raw materials, and then we’re outta here. Behave until then.”
            {Aww, are you sure that it’s me that you have to worry about behaving?}
            “J-just put a cork in it...” Kiva’s pace quickened slightly, following the path she had taken when she first arrived and asked around, the sound of a hammer smashing against steel starting to get louder and louder with every step.

            The sights and sounds around Kiva were only helping with giving the Blackshard more ammo to tease her with, though most of it was being spent with the Shard’s own subtle glances at the various groups, forming a vision port every so often to see a new situation or sight of the locals. Admittedly, Kiva started to feel sorry for the shard- she’d probably haven’t even seen some of those creatures before.

            As they passed by a drider berating the harpy that Kiva had ducked under earlier, the hammer of metal on metal started to grow louder still, with the young adventurer starting to pick up the pace. After a few more of the roughly-built buildings, the sight of a massive stone chimney next to one of the structures came to view, a covered roof built around it to keep the nearby forge equipment from getting soaked. Next to a large anvil, a minotaur pounds the metal into submission, barely giving a second glance to Kiva as she walks closer to him.

            The creature pressing into her skin stirs slightly as it manages to steal a glance at the massive beast. {Oooh, delightful! Is this one of those minotaur things you were talking about?}
            Kiva simply gave it a dirty look before raising her voice, catching the great beast’s attention. “Er, excuse me, but I was told a few days ago that if I found gemstones and metal I’d be able to trade them here...”
            The minotaur gives a snort through his nostrils, before gesturing to the cabin next to the forge. “Liara’s in there. She’ll sort you out.”
            Nodding respectfully, Kiva goes towards the referenced cabin, knocking and entering in quick succession.

            Entering the room, the dim glow of candles and an open window acts as the main illumination, with several rough-cut tables and other displays carved and assembled in the local timbers helping to emphasize the handiness of the town’s population. Over most of the surfaces, various mixes of ores, gems, and other goods are laid out, from forged blades and tools to simple cutlery. Reclining near an open window, a lamia glances at the opening door. “Yes?” she hisses, glaring at the human with her green, slit-pupils of her eyes.
            “Yeah, I’ve... found some things up in one of the mountains near here, I was wondering if there was enough coin available that I could trade for before I returned back to Kaliferian land?” Kiva explained, giving a glance over the long, green serpent tail that stretched from under the serpent’s loincloth and out of sight behind a wooden counter.
            “I’d have to see what you’ve brought first, if you don’t mind,” the lamia replies, quietly shifting from her sunlit perch to properly shift to an upright position. Nodding, Kiva drags her camp pack down from her shoulders and starts to drag out a good chunk of the jewels and ingots.
            The lamia woman gives a bit of a huff, her fork tongue flicking from her lips as she digs out a locked wooden box, a set of metal pins acting as the lock. As one of her claw-tipped fingers works on tugging the pins loose, she grabs one of the gems between her claws as well, eying it with the air of an expert. “...Curious. Pre-cut, and with pretty good craftsmanship too. You said you found these at the mountain edge, right?”
            Kiva gulped a little. She hadn’t quite figured the serpent would have been so nosy. “Well, yeah. I spent some time over near Death’s Plummet and found a rather ratty old crate busted open with this stuff in it,” she fibs, a part of her glad of the darkened room minus the candlelight and her loose cloth shirt she always wore.
            “Bah, Death’s Plummet. Cursed place,” the serpent woman grimaces, undoing the pins finally and opening it as she checks each of the gemstones in turn.
            As Kiva waited, she felt the odd shifting around her torso as Ashur gently flexed her body, but she didn’t think too much of it until she felt a very small pressure from the plate gently massaging along her shoulders. Kiva tenses slightly in reaction to feeling the shard’s intimate touches, but quickly calms herself as Liara glances back at her.
            “I think there’s enough coins here to give you a fair price,” the serpent woman muses, grabbing a few small bags out of the box and sorting through them, the golden gildings sparking from the light cast from the window as they were freed from the prison.
            As Kiva nodded, she winces in reaction to feeling another soft rub along her body- this time, focused down the small of her back to her rear, gently stroking and rolling across the skin by the warm fleshy creature tight around her toned body. “I’m sure there won’t be any issue, just don’t want to drag all this with me all the way, travel weight and all that.”
            “I dunno, some of these things are really high-quality cut. I’m sure someone in the human cities would give you a much better price on these...” Liara tried to explain, though she was still counting coins. “Of course, I’m fine taking them off your hands anyway, it’s hard to get fine craftsmanship up here after all.”
            Just as Kiva opened her mouth, she felt a sudden rub across her mound, a steady roll of flesh that flexed over her slit and back again. She gasps but quickly coughs to try and disguise it. “N-No, it’s fine. I don’t think I’d be running into a place with a jeweler’s anytime... anytime soon...”
            “Well, alright then,” Liara’s eyes are glancing Kiva over suspiciously as Ashur keeps up her slow, torturous rubs, the human’s fingers tightening slightly into the rough wood with her fingerless gauntlets now in full view. “Let’s see... one hundred, two hundred...”
            {Still so sensitive? This simply won’t do, especially if I have to feed quickly,} Ashur’s voice suddenly pipes up, absolutely dripping with mirth. {I mean, if you get damaged in battle, I may need to nourish myself and repair, something like this...}
            With skill and dexterity befitting the legendary Shards, a fragment of flesh presses away from the interior body, worming into the hood of Kiva’s clit and rapidly wrapping around it with a firm but gentle grip. Kiva’s hand tightens harder into the desk as she lets in a sharp intake of breath, her legs squeezing slightly in reaction. Yet again the naga glances at her with a mix of annoyance and a little bit of concern. “You feeling all right?”
            “Y-yeah...” Kiva lied, starting to pant slightly at the soft grip slowly rotates around her love button. “J-Just a recovering minotaur addict. The smell...” she waves her hand in a vague gesture.
            “Ah... Yeah, sorry...” Liara replies, bowing her head and hastening her coin counts. “Probably a bad place to be for one of your type though, but hey, a deal’s a deal. Right, I’ve got about a good six hundred gildings to offer you for all this. Fair enough deal?”
            “Well...” Kiva starts, thinking it a little low, but Ashur acts again, giving a firm tug at her clit and resulting in a loud yelp from Kiva’s lips. “MMMGH! It-It’s fine, actually. It’ll work for me!”
            “In that case, it was a pleasure doing business with you,” Liara replies with a wide smile, showing off the elongated fangs towards the front of her jaw as she hands a moneybag to Kiva. “I hope the next time we do business, you don’t go snooping around such a dangerous place like Death’s Plummet though. I swear, one of you adventurers is going to stumble on something truly destructive over there or something.”
            Grabbing the moneybag and dropping it into her pouch, Kiva hisses under her breath a little as she quickly leaves, if anything the movement of her wobbly legs was only encouraging Ashur to work her a little harder. “I-I know the feeling...”

            --

            A few moments later, Kiva stumbles between two houses, panting hard as her thighs shudder. She glances to both sides before she glares down at the armor, stifling yet another groan through her gritted teeth. “W-what the hell are you playing at?!? Are you trying to get us screwed over here?!?”

            {Oh please, you’re drooling wet from the moment I started rubbing you, you little exhibitionist,} Ashur yet again forms the violet eye as it stares up at Kiva, a bit of an impish glint to it as the shard continues to torment the poor human’s clit.

            “Y-you sunofaAAAGH!” Kiva squeals, her body sliding down the wall as she collapses to the dirt ground, her body giving another shudder as the interior tormenters just slide right in again, filling her to the brim. Her body thrashes against the ground, unable to keep her legs under her as Ashur forces her through euphoria yet again. Much as she tried to grit her jaw closed, she knew that there was probably quite a few people that heard that.

            {Oh you are gonna be fun... You’re so headstrong but so easy to manipulate...} Ashur purrs, rubbing a line along her back with her layers of flesh and chitin. {Just relax a bit, what could possibly go wrong?}

            Panting as she drags herself back up, she looks around- and gulps. Standing before her is three different beastman, all staring down at Kiva with equal levels of malice and evil grins.

            {...Oh. Well there’s a start.}
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            Most nonlurkiest lurker on the fourum(s) since 2004

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              #7
              Re: Blackshard

              (Writer's Note: There was originally supposed to be a smut chapter here, but I wasn't quite able to brain on it. If people would leave me feedback in my thread in the Archives part of the Blank Page if they feel this chapter jumps too far ahead or not from that point, it'd be appreciated.)

              Blackshard - Bitterwater’s Secrets

              After the fiasco in Herdspire, Kiva didn’t spend that much time on sticking around, running almost the entire evening and the following night to get as far as she could from her attackers, just in case one of them had their scent. Every sound in the woods made her jump, and every twitch of the trees didn’t help her situation much.

              Luckily, Ashur had stayed quiet for most of the flight away from the town, with the shard not even daring to speak up to distract her from listening around them.

              Upon reaching the edge of the Silverpine Forest, with a short clearing between them and the start of a swampy marshland, Kiva finally collapsed onto her knees and fell forward, panting and giving a groan as the sun began to rise. “Ugh.... N-no more...” she mumbles, rolling back over and leaning her pack against a nearby tree, breathing heavily.

              {....I.... I’m sorry....} Ashur mumbles.

              “Sorry? SORRY?!?” Kiva growls, her voice growing and tears starting to sting her eyes as she did so. “SORRY DON’T CUT IT! You let those bastards use my gut as a cum depository, but as soon as they threaten to pull you off and take me home, oh sure there comes the building-smashing tentacle force!!! What, do you think I get off to that sort of shit?!?”

              {Yes, yes I did.}

              The bluntness caught Kiva by surprised, her voice catching in her throat. There’s a bit of a moment for her to breathe, before she can speak up again. “Well, future reference, no. They don’t ask, you get free reign to smack em, ok?”

              {Good to know....} the shard states quietly, staying silent for a moment before speaking again. {Would it be prying to ask why?}

              Kiva sighs, shaking her head a little. “Less talking.... more resting...” she mumbles, her eyes already starting to drift a bit from her nighttime run.

              {Sleep, little shard knight... You did good to keep yourself alive.... Now it’s my turn to defend you as I should...} the shard coos, quietly rubbing her back slowly as she drifts off to sleep.

              ---

              When Kiva finally wakes up, she’s partly surprised as Ashur wasn’t trying to touch her privates this time around. Still leaning against the tree she fell against, she sees that the eye on her chest had pulled free, hanging on pink sinew as it looks around. Eventually it turns to look back to her. {Ah, you’re awake.} The eye quickly retreats back to its resting place.

              Grunting, Kiva gets back up, glancing around at the yet again setting sun. “No need to ask so surprised...” she mumbles.

              {Considering you mortals, never know when death comes for you,} the shard explains.

              “Definitely fates worse than that...” Kiva mumbles as she gets back up. “Luckily it shouldn’t take too long to get to Bitterwater from here...”

              {So, is it a safe time to ask you what was up with back there?}

              Kiva purses her lips, a puff of air leaving them as she stops in her tracks. “Long story, and it’s a bit on the painful side...” she mumbles, before starting to walk again.

              The eyeball on her chest stares up at her, and Kiva can almost feel the aura of sheer incredulity off the glare. {Oh come off it. If I can’t understand you how am I supposed to protect you?}

              With a bit of a growl, Kiva shakes her head. “Fine, fine... I’d tell you to take a seat but you really don’t need to...”

              Kiva walks a little more, before finally starting to tell it. “Suppose the best way to put it, I really didn’t have the best homelife. Apparently mom dropped me off pretty soon after having me, and I got no clue who my dad was. I got stuffed in the care of this troll when I was growing up. Bit of a letch, but he didn’t bother trying to touch me until I got older, so suppose he wasn’t that sick. Still, didn’t ever like how he looked at me. Well, at least through him and helping to do housechores I learned how to read. And then I read up them books about the old war. Ran away soon after that.”

              {Interesting, but it didn’t really sate my curiosity...} Ashur adds.

              “Shush, I ain’t done yet,” Kiva states. “First time out, all on my own, not even a cent on my name. Admittedly had to do a few shameful things to get on my feet, but hey, you gotta live first, work on comfort second. Eventually I get enough gear to go look at this old ruin that was apparently near Spiderfell, and, well...”

              {Were you successful?}

              There’s a hollow laugh. “Oh I was. A year later when I finally got free of the minotaur that had made its home there with as much loot as I could carry, and the purple-haired hellspawn he forced me to have.”

              {Oh...}

              “Eh, in the past, I got better. Had to keep myself locked into an inn room and ween myself off. Poor barkeep had to deal with my spunkhaze for a few days to boot... Still, not necessarily a thing I ever wanted to happen again. Was unlike anything I’ve ever done before at the time though, the adventuring bug kinda... stuck, yaknow? Even with that one bad time, I enjoyed the rush of the adventure. Looted caves and stuff like that for the last few years since that point as a result.”

              {I definitely expect that would fuel the reason you’d rather not have had that happen now...} Ashur replies, shuddering around her. {Well, what hasn’t stopped you from trying to take me off then?}

              “Do I really have a chance?” Kiva remarks. “You’ve proven yourself stronger than me and I’m not really able to just fight ya off without any good weapons...”

              {You... do know I am weak to fire, right?}

              Kiva shakes her head. “No, not like it’d help too much at this rate either. Nowhere near an open flame, and let’s face it, you’re useful, even if you are a slutty personality that would like to rape me till my mind goes blank...”

              {Hey! I never said that!} Ashur growls, even as they walk further into the marshlands, the sound of frogs starting to echo as they move on a wagon-wide dirt path raised from the muck.

              “We’ve been together three days and I woke up to you molesting and fucking me two of them... Actions speak louder than words, lass.”

              The shard silences itself for a moment at that, before she speaks again. {This... Bitterwater. It sounds somewhat familiar... Please, speak of it.}

              Kiva noticed the change in tone but didn’t comment. No sense getting the easily-angered shard-thing wrapped around her angry with wisecracks. “Well, back during the Rift Wars it was one of the portals that showed up on Kalfier. Eventually a settlement by the abyssites formed around it. Back then it was called ‘Muthra-Thur’ though, something in their old language...”

              {...’Nether Haven’...}

              Kiva pauses. “I’m sorry?”

              The shardkin’s eye again focuses on Kiva as she spoke {‘Muthra-Thur,’ it translates to Nether Haven! If we’re lucky, there’s someone connected to the Nether Cults there that can tell us more about what has been happening since I got lost in that temple!}

              “Um.” Kiva purses her lips again. “Are you sure bandying about some random town just because of the name is a wise idea? I mean, the place isn’t a bad sorta town, but just saying...”

              {Oh come on, with a name like that we can’t go wrong here! It’s not like it’d be a haven of beastman for you to get raped by again!} Ashur shoots back.

              Kiva sighs. “Fine, it’s on the route anyway... I just need a fucking drink at this rate...”

              ---

              The further they got into the swamps, the more the flora looked... weirder. Flowers and vines began to become bioluminescent, and occasionally a neon blue gecko crawls over one of the large trunks of the trees as she walks down the nearby path. Kiva had to admit, glancing down as she watched Ashur’s eyes peer around and look at the various flora around them.

              {Some of these look familiar...} Ashur mumbles. {Like something from the other realm...}

              “Y’mean the fancy plants? Yeah, apparently one of the portals from the Riftland back in the day was around here. Apparently if they stayed open enough some of the other world leaked over to this one for some strange reason,” Kiva explains, as they round a corner and finally see Bitterwater proper.

              The town was a spread out mismatch of wooden and stone structures, most the wooden structures built on poles sunk deep into the marshy much around them, and the few stone houses with solid stone foundations, seemingly carved from naturally-resting boulders and still reinforced by wood. A great canopy of plant life hung above the structures, blotting out all but a few rays of the dying sunlight above the treeline, while the clearing the city inhabited was still dimly lit from the many bioluminous plants that floated or twisted around the buildings.

              {Curious... I was not aware of such a thing,} Ashur stated quietly as Kiva bends down to dig into her pack. {Mind, this whole travel across dimension thing wasn’t what I was really concerned about at that time...}

              “Yeah, your type of shenanigans was well-documented, same with your other bros,” Kiva mumbles, digging out a ragged, brown traveling cloak. “Here, this’ll be useful so we don’t get too many questions.” She tosses it over her body, drawing it closed around her and flipping the hood up.

              {Hey! Why you covering up!}

              “So we don’t get lynched, you idiot...” Kiva mumbles. “Walking into a city that was made a refuge because of a Blackshard Knight’s mad machinations is clearly a bad idea...”

              Ashur again stays silent as Kiva moves into the town, moving between some of the struts of one of the structures and back towards some of the hard-packed dirt. Kiva eyes the ragged structures, some of which were spread over a large wooden walkway above some of the swampier ground. Further in the town there was some harder packed dirt, with some more properly-constructed wood and stone hovels laying across the edge of the dirt island and stretched towards another road.

              A signboard catches her eye, hanging over a mostly stone structure. A bookstore called Forgotten Tales. Curious.

              Kiva quickly moves for the door, going up the stairs and moving to open it.

              ---

              As the door swings open with a gentle chime of a bell, Kiva glances around, eyeing the foursome of shelves that stretch from the walls and the inner floor, reached towards the back wall, where a counter stood with lockbox set off to one side, a chain connecting it to the counter. Behind it, a blue-skinned Gnarled- a twisted, slightly-monsterous looking race from the Riftlands- sat on a stool, her skin wrinkled with age and short brown hair poking around her many horns on her head.

              She peers up as she sees Kiva. “So, anything I can assist you with, stranger?”

              “Um, er, yeah,” Kiva says, moving forward and glancing around the shop to make sure they were along. “I was curious if, well... If you had anything onhand about the Rift Wars in here?”

              The glowing yellow eyes of the creature narrows, her clawed fingers resting between each other ahead of her. “I know a great many things on this time period, and I do have a few books on the subject. Perhaps it would help if you spoke of the subject matter you are most interested in?”

              Kiva gulped, knowing this was going to sound confusing and probably alarming at the same time. “Well, I was looking in particular about things relating to Blackshards...”

              The woman’s elflike ears twitched now, and her expression darkened. “I know of a few tomes of such contents, but they are very hard to come by. I can’t guarantee I have any of them in stock, but you should try on the right wall, subsection B.”

              “Thank you,” Kiva states, going to turn around and taking a step from the counter- giving a cough as she feels her cloakstrings tug apart at her neck, the cloak held in the woman’s claws.

              The shopkeep’s eyes focus immediately on the black-chitin armor that Kiva wore. “You do realize any sensible person would find such a cloak would be useless on a clear day, right...? But deary me, I see why you were asking on that subject now...”

              {HEY! Noone gets to see me until the second date!} Ashur quips with a growl, her eye focused on the gnarled woman, who blinked a bit in surprise.

              “Yeaaaaah... I kinda wanted to look up specific stuff on a specific shard...” Kiva admitted, rubbing the back of her head and shifting uncomfortably.

              “...Very well... I do indeed have the things you seek, but they are downstairs. Here...” the shopkeeper states, quickly moving to a lever behind her and giving it a tug. A fragment of the stone back wall of the shop slides apart, revealing a stairway down.

              Kiva and Ashur both stare at her, Kiva crossing her arms.

              The woman sighs. “Oh come off it, it’s not a trap. Go on, in,” she mumbles, waving her hand. With a sigh, Kiva quickly moves down the stairs.

              To the surprise of neither of them, there is more books downstairs down a short winding staircase, shelves on all four walls full to the brim of texts, with a table in the middle with more books stacks atop it. “Under normal circumstances, I would not allow anyone but those of the Royals of Kalifer access, but I believe I can make an exception for a relic of the past such as this,” she explains, following them with a lit candle. “I am Ameus Kieria, and what you see here is the few remaining records from the lands of the rift... Both from my own people, and cultists such as what made your friend there.”

              Kiva’s eyes lit up. “Ameus Kieria?!? You wrote that book on the Rift Wars! I read the hell out of that as a kid!”

              Ameus laughs, moving to a seat at the table and pulling a few tomes out of a stack. “At least someone didn’t complain about my history of those events being quite judgmental of the Rajirah,” she quips. “Still, I need to know one more detail. Shardkin, what is your name.”

              {Ashur.}

              Ameus drops the book from her hand, her face taking a pale tone. “...THE Ashur?”

              {How many other shardkin have that name, huh!?! Last I knew the rest were no better than glorified super-animals anyway!} Ashur snaps back.

              “...A fair point,” Ameus mumbles, moving back to her tomes. “I would not be too prideful of that history, especially in the open. Your... partner, while she could have used a better disguise, was at least smart in that regard.”

              {Hmph... I don’t see why not, I am a great creation of my people!}

              “And a murderer, slayer of kings and monarchs that brought a golden age of the people here to its end.”

              Ashur fell silent at that, with Ameus quietly moving pages to open her tome. “As for your queries, young lady, what you have stumbled upon is not just any mere blackshard. As you apparently have already figured out by now, Ashur here is indeed one of the Blackshard Armors used in the last war. The fact this one wasn’t accounted for during that time is now explained, I guess. Perhaps you can tell me where you found it?”

              “There’s a cave located on the mountain face for Death’s Head Plummet, over to the west,” Kiva quickly relayed. “One of the old war sights, I was there recovering some of the things there.... Bit of an accidental opening of a chamber and I found Ashur in there. She latched onto me while I was sleeping during the night.”

              The gnarled woman nods, scratching behind an ear. “Ah yes, the birth of the Snow Elves...” She’s quiet, before shutting the door. “There is little I can tell you, beyond what you two already know.”

              {WHAT?!?} “Oh you got to be kidding me!” The two pipe up, but the old woman before them raises a finger.

              “There is no great empire to await you here, Ashur. All records point to the death of the Nether Cults a good ten years after the end of the Great War. And yet, there will be many who would be interested in the revival of a Shardkin, especially one born of your caliber.” The woman gives a sad look to Kiva in particular. “There is little I can suggest to remedy your situations. My best suggestions are to seek out the kingdoms, to ask refuge and bow to their mercies. Otherwise, if you are discovered prior, they will surely kill you both.”
              Spoiler


              Most nonlurkiest lurker on the fourum(s) since 2004

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