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Introduction:

CAPITAL NAMES mean the story is being told from that person's perspective. Dashed lines indicate where the sex in the story is and physical descriptions of the characters. Important plot points are listed at the bottom.
Chapter Nineteen

YAVARA

I blasted through the roof the chieftain's hut. I didn’t stop to see their faces of wonder as I scorched through the sky. Prestira’s dying thoughts were echoing in my mind.

They took her, she said, they took Elena.

Stay with me!

It’s too late. It’s all my fault; I did this.

No! I thought, This was Leveria, Prestira, not you.

I killed Patricia, Prestira’s telepathic voice sobbed, I burned her alive. She screamed ‘why’ the whole time; she died wondering why I betrayed her.

Prestira…

Tell Zander Prestira sobbed, Tell Zander…

The connection between us broke. I saw the bridge arc across the horizon and disappear. I raced through the sky as fast as I could go, my tears flying across my face as the wind pushed them back. I called for Prestira over and over again, but she didn’t answer. The trees beneath me bent as I blew past them, a flurry of leaves erupting from their stems. The Pines fell away beneath me as the foliage changed to spruces. I searched manically, looking left and right across the landscape for anything. The biggest tree I’d ever seen towered over everything ten miles to the west. I raced to it desperately, my eyes scanning the ground for signs of life. As I neared the tree, I came upon a clearing where hundreds of nymphs were standing in a circle. I descended rapidly, noting in horror that the nymphs had encircled two dead bodies. One of them was unrecognizable, and the other was Prestira.

I didn’t notice or care about the hundreds of nymphs gawking at me. I held Prestira’s body in my arms and wailed my agony. It was my fault; I wasn’t fast enough. I couldn’t save Prestira on the ship before Leveria had done her deed. I should have kept Prestira safe, I should have given her time to heal her broken mind. She told me she was OK, she said it with a bitter smile. But she was a shattered soul, and I’d let Leveria work her twisted mind into her. And now she was dead, and her last moments on this earth were spent dying alone on a hill, with the agonizing realization that she had betrayed her friends. It was all my fault.

I felt soft hands come down on my shoulders. I looked up to see Crystal looking down at me. Her eyes no longer bore irises, but were instead glowing purple ovals, brimming with sorrow.

“Queen Yavara,” she said with a voice that was not her own, “they took Master on the road to Castle Thorum. I can see them through the roots; they’re already almost there.”

I crouched down and prepared myself to launch, but Crystal stopped me. I felt her power seep into my body, forcing it to go limp.

“You won’t catch them, Queen Yavara,” Crystal said, “they have ballista mounting the walls waiting for you; you’ll die.”

“I won’t leave her there!” I yelled back, “Let go of me Crystal!”

“I’m not Crystal,” she said to me, “I am Arbor; spirit of the Great Forest and mother of nymphs and succubi. I can help you get Master back, but you need to listen to me.”

RANGER ADARIAN

Chastian and I rode through the last miles of The Pines and to the gates of Castle Thorum. Castle Thorum was a fortress erected over a thousand years ago. It was built as the first defense against the hordes of Alkandra, and had withstood besieging armies numbering in the tens of thousands. It now acted as the base of operations for the rangers, but it remained a formidable defensive structure. Its outer walls stood sixty feet high, its secondary walls another sixty feet, and its tower reached two hundred feet from the ground. All along the ramparts were heavy ballista aimed right into the Great Forest. It was impregnable, and I sighed in relief when the gates closed behind me; we were finally safe.

“Chastian,” I said to the man, “bring Elena to the dungeon; I will inform the queen that we have her. Tell the resident mage to prepare the portal for the queen and make sure the place is presentable.”

I dusted off my uniform and washed my face in the basin. I noticed Prestira’s blood was splashed all over my uniform and hands, so I made my way to my chambers and disrobed. I filled the tub and began to wash the death from my body when I heard a familiar scratch on my door. I pulled my towel around my waist and answered it.

The fox stared up at me and tilted her head. I gave her a loving pet down her back before beckoning her inside. I looked down the hall both ways before shutting the door and locking it. The fox hopped on my bed, her tail wagging. I gave her a nod and she transformed into April, a kitsune, and the love of my life.

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Kitsunes are beasts that transform from foxes to humanoids. In her humanoid form, April had a girlish face, tan skin, auburn hair and big brown eyes. Her breasts were of medium size, but perfectly shaped, and her thighs and ass were full and thick. She retained her fox ears and bushy orange tail in her humanoid form, but every other animal characteristic was gone.

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I’d first found April when I was trekking alone in the Great Forest. A fox tailed behind me, seemingly curious about what I was doing. Every day I would go out on missions, sometimes alone, sometimes with a band of my fellow rangers, and every day that fox would trot behind. One day, we were ambushed by orcs, and I was the lone survivor. I dragged my wounded body to the river and laid bleeding at its banks. The fox came up to me and licked my wounds. I pet it as it cleaned me, scratching its ears and holding it close. She snuggled up and laid a comforting head on my bleeding arm, looking up at me as though she were a loyal dog I’d had for years. I named her April, and from that point on, she was my companion.

We were inseparable; she’d trot alongside me on missions and rest at the foot of my bed on base. She became a resident of Castle Thorum, and quickly worked her way into the affections of my men. There were more than a few times when April had probably saved my life and the lives of my rangers with her warnings. She’d scout ahead, sniffing the air and burrowing through the earth, and then come back to me and whimper when she found something, or wag her tail when she didn’t.

One night, April came scratching at my door. I opened the door and April jumped onto my bed, as she had every night before that. I let the fox snuggle in my arms and I pet her lovingly. She growled softly as dogs do when they receive the affection of their masters. And then she changed. I felt her fur recede to warm flesh and her body grow to that of a woman’s. I remember bolting for my knife and bringing it down on her. She didn’t stop me, she just stared at me with sad eyes. I couldn’t do it. I pressed the knife to her cheek, and then threw it across the room. We made love that night, and every other night I came back to base. I made sure April knew the risks; if anyone knew about her, I would be stripped of my powers and she would be executed. She was careful, only transforming when I was sure we were alone. I didn’t let her go out on raids with me anymore, but instead let her roam Castle Thorum as she pleased. April changed my view of beasts. I had been taught for so long that they were mindless monsters looking to prey on innocent high elves. But April was no monster, she was my companion and loyal lover. If April could be good, then so could other beasts of the forest.

Under my leadership, the rangers became a seek and observe unit, instead of a guerrilla outfit. Sure, we raided the occasional orc village if one clan became too strong; it was essential to keep the tribes warring with one another, and not uniting under one banner, but our incursion into other parts of the forest dwindled. I began to garner good will with peaceful beasts, and was sometimes given information from them that made my job easier. King Tiadoa agreed with my methods, stating that a merciful hand wielding a powerful weapon was more effective than a brutal hand wielding a weak one. But then Yavara was revealed to be Alkandi incarnate, and Leveria uncovered a plot to dismantle the Highland monarchy. Leveria became queen, and the role of the rangers changed dramatically.

We were no longer an observance outfit; we were a band of raiders and killers. The army was taking a long time to assemble, so we were to be a hit and run unit that kept Yavara’s forces in check while the Leveria raised her own. I hated what Leveria was making us do. All the good will I had garnered from my sources disappeared. All the connection and relationships I had developed with the peaceful beasts were broken. We raided villages, killing women and children with the men. We slaughtered any beast in our path, whether they were peaceful creatures or not. I could hardly look April in the eye anymore. She knew I was hurting, but I couldn’t tell her the things I’d done.

“Busy day?” April asked.

“You have no idea.” I sighed.

“You could tell me about it,” April said as she wrapped her arms around my shoulders, “I have two sets of ears; I’m a very good listener.”

“I had to do something bad to someone I care for,” I said, “and it hurt me to do it.”

“Oh,” said April, “you’re talking about Elena.”

“Did you see her?”

“I did,” April paused, “she looks different. Why was she naked?”

“I’ll have to ask her,” I said, “she was making some kind of deal with the nymphs. She has a family of succubi under her control; I don’t know how she managed that.”

“Are you going to kill her?” April asked.

“I hope not,” I said, “she is a traitor, but she was a great ranger once. I hope I can convince Leveria to let her live, but I’m afraid Leveria will put her to the rack.”

“That’s awful!” April gasped, “You can’t let her do that!”

“I don’t ‘let’ the queen do anything; she gives me orders and I follow them to the letter.”

“Is that so?” April smiled before kissing my neck, “What about that little rule regarding laying with monsters, hmm?” April slid her voluptuous body alongside me before gracefully falling between my legs, “That’s a big no-no where you’re from, Tomnian, but you don’t seem to mind.”

April’s big, brown eyes stared innocently up at me as her hand reached beneath my towel. I shuddered as I felt her cool fingers wrap around my cock. She giggled in delight as my manhood engorged in her palm.

“No,” smiled April, “you don’t seem to care much for that rule at all.”

“April,” I groaned, “I need to call Leveria on the mirror, you need to leave and I need to get dressed.”

“Do you?” April smiled. She looked backward at the mirror in front of my desk and laughed. “I think you only need a shirt, Tomnian, she can’t see below your chest.”

“Fine,” I said, “but you’ll need to keep your mouth shut.”

“Are you sure?” April smiled devilishly, “because I think you like it better when it’s open.”

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I felt her full lips wrap around the head of my cock. I laid on my back and let her play with me, groaning as she slid her mouth further down. She stopped at my base and looked up at me, her eyes fully of playfulness and desire. She slowly rotated her lips around my cock, her nose brushing against my pelvis. Her soft, wet tongue moved up and down my shaft while her lips sucked me. I reached out and pet her head, playing with her furry ears just the way she liked. She smiled around my cock before sealing her lips again and slowly drawing upward. Her soft hands moved beneath my thighs and gently pushed the towel from my waist. Her finger tips traced the outline of my pelvis before traveling down to my balls. She gently cupped them in her palm, running her fingers along the back of them while her thumb massaged. Her bushy red tail wagged slowly behind her, her ears perked up excitedly. One of my hands gently rubbed her canine ears while the other guided her head up and down. She sucked from me with long, passionate draws, her lips slurping as they stretched from her face with the tightness of her seal. She stared into my eyes the whole time, gaging my reaction, adjusting her pace and methods with each groan and moan from my mouth.

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“Head ranger Adarian!” a voice yelled from behind the door. April pulled her mouth away and gave me a sad-face before changing back to a fox.

“What?!” I yelled with a little too much anger in my voice.

“The Queen is ready to speak to you.” The voice replied.

I quickly out on my shirt and sat down at my desk. April trotted beneath me, brushing my legs with her tail before transforming back to a humanoid and smiling up from beneath the desk. I gave her a wink and then pressed my hand to the mirror.

“Ranger Adarian,” Leveria said, “I assume you have good news.”

“Elena Straltaira has been captured. Prestira Rasloraca and her vampire are dead.” I felt April tongue sliding up and down the underside of my shaft.

“This is good news,” Leveria said with the hint of a smile, “Yavara, Zander and Brock are…”

“They went north,” I said, my voice rising slightly as April’s warm, wet mouth wrapped around my balls, “I believe they’re going to The Tundra.”

“Send an eagle to their party,” Leveria said, “tell them we have Elena at Castle Thorum.”

“Yes, my queen,” I said through a breath as my entire shaft was taken in by April, “is there anything else?”

“Have your mage prep your portal, Adarian,” Leveria said as she stood up, “I’d like to see Elena.”

“Already done, my queen.” April was rotating her lips as she pulled up. It took everything in my power not to react to her. Leveria gave me a curious look before pushing her palm to the mirror and disappearing.

“She sounds pleased.” April said as she pulled out, “It was so cute watching you try to maintain your composure.”

“A few seconds more of that and I would have come right in front of the queen,” I smiled down at April, “you’re going to get me killed, my little fox.”

BROCK

The ten tribe leaders and I gawked up at the hole Yavara had left in the hut. One moment she was listening to the grievances and worries of the ten chieftains, the next she disappeared in a shower of wood shrapnel.

“Did you know she could do that?” I asked Zander.

“I did.” Zander replied, not fully paying attention to me.

“What the fuck was that about?” I asked.

“Prestira and Patricia are dead, Elena has just been captured.” Zander responded in a hollow voice.

My heart sunk. I knew Zander was masking his pain; he probably had put a perception spell over his face to disguise the fact that he was weeping. He knew he had to remain stoic around the chieftains, as any sign of grief would be perceived as weakness. I had to tackle the same thing just a week ago when Sherok died. The hurt would get better over time, but it would never go away; I still agonized over her when I was alone.

“Half of your council has just been wiped out, Brock.” Gorlok, leader of the Kraklari said, “That doesn’t bode well for your future.”

“You mean your future,” I growled at Gorlok, “because you will remember your duty and bend the knee.”

“Bend a knee to whom?” Gorlok sneered, “The queen who just left negotiations of war to confirm the status of a corpse? She is weak.”

“Weak?!” Draifak of the Dartiki clan spat, “She blasted a hole through your roof and flew into the fucking sky! She has my support, Brock; we can follow a leader with that kind of strength.”

“I’m with Gorlok,” Balktar of the Silktari clan said, “the ten clans of The Tundra have not sat together for hundreds of years, and after managing this feat, the Dark Queen sees fit to abandon such a meeting for the sake of her friend? She does not have the stomach for war.”

“You speak of having a stomach for war, Balktar,” Kanglar of the Waldaki clan laughed, “but you don’t have the balls to throw your men into the furnace of it. The Dark Queen wants war, but you will not take part in it. I will lead my tribesmen to victory and glory, Brock Terdini, you can count my men in.”

“Glory?” Vultar of the Hektaki tribe roared, “The Dark Queen will not attack The Highlands! We will sit at the border and take the elven punishment on our lands until they capitulate. No, Brock, I cannot send my men to such pointless slaughter.”

“I’m with Vultar!” Jertalk of the Fertorki interjected, “The Dark Queen shows her weakness by not attacking our enemies! Perhaps she still has love her former people? How can we trust a princess of The Highlands to keep our interests at heart?”

“I am sorry Brock,” Vaklori of the Drundiki clan said, “but I must agree with Vultar and Jertalk. The Dark Queen is too tied up diplomatically with Ardeni Dreus to attack, and that makes her weak.”

“Here, here!” roared Huftraki of the Yugntiki clan, “I would throw my men behind the Dark Queen if she would attack The Highlands. I cannot call myself chieftain if I send my men to the jaws of war with no spoils to reward them. I refuse your offer, Brock.”

“As do I.” Kalkgan of the Higtiki said.

“I will join you, Brock,” Beflara of the Dektiki said, “but only if I am her candidate for Froktora.”

“I am her candidate for Froktora.” I growled.

The whole hut erupted as all ten tribe leaders shouted their protest. They were chieftains of great clans, and I was the chieftain of two lesser ones. No chieftain of a great clan would ever concede to me with the numbers I had. It was a miracle that we had even gotten all the chieftains in attendance; half of them were warring with each other and the other half were planning to. I needed Yavara here to remind the lords of The Tundra that they have a duty to the queen, but she had taken off. And now that I had prematurely revealed our intentions of making me Froktora, the two supporters I had in Kanglar and Draifak defected. This was a complete clusterfuck.

“…and why should you be Froktora, Beflara?” Jertalk, Beflara’s enemy jeered, “you stand at an army of six thousand; I stand at an army of ten! I nominate myself for Froktora right now! Who’s with me?”

“Shove up it up your ass, Jertalk,” roared Gorlok, an enemy of both Jertalk and Beflara, “my warg riders have been cutting your infantry to pieces for a decade, you stand at an army of dog meat!”

“Oh, and that means you should be Froktora, Gorlok?” Draifak, also an enemy of Gorlok, laughed, “Because I cut the head from your alpha dog and fucked its skull just a year ago! Your pets don’t make you a king!”

“I WILL SKULL FUCK YOUR CHILDREN IN FRONT OF YOU!” Gorlok roared as his fists met the table.

“You would shed blood during a meeting of The Ten?!” Kanglar yelled.

“This is my hut!” Gorlok yelled as he brandished a knife he’d concealed in his hair, “And I will paint it red if I see fit!”

“I will feed your entrails to your wife!” Draifak said, also brandishing a concealed weapon.

“SILENCE!” Zander finally stepped in. Draifak and Gorlok were pinned against the wall with the wizard’s power.

“You have all sworn a vow to bend a knee to the Dark Queen upon her return,” Zander said, “and every single one of you has broken that vow today. You call yourself chieftains of great clans, but you are nothing but warring tribes of brutes fighting over the scraps Leveria lets you have.”

“You fucking-” Gorlok began before Zander cut him off.

“Shut your fucking mouth, Gorlok.” Zander said coldly, “Your father was the leader of seven thousand warg riders, and on the precipice of conquering four of The Ten, a ranger unit came along and poisoned your kennels. Now you are the leader of three thousand riders, and the clans you sought to control take pieces of your territory easily. We have one common enemy here, and it is not the men sitting across from you, it is The Highlands. It has always been The Highlands.”

“Aye,” Vultar chimed in, “It’s always been The Highlands, but the Dark Queen refuses to attack them! I cannot bend the knee to a woman who will send my sons to die simply to keep what we already have!”

“This I will not yield on, Zander!” Jertalk yelled, “If the Dark Queen does not bring the war to The Highlands, I will not join it!”

“My scouts tell me Leveria’s army is weeks away from being assembled,” Kalkgan said, “If we attack now, we could take a quarter of her kingdom without opposition! I will join the Dark Queen if she chooses to attack, but not if I have to follow a Froktora as weak as Brock.”

The rest of the clan leaders agreed with this sentiment. Yavara needed to attack The Highlands, and I could not be Froktora. The ten clans needed to elect a Froktora, or their hatred for each other would cause infighting throughout the war, which would lead to abandonment and collapse. None of the leaders would elect another of The Ten to be Froktora, as their hatred ran too deep. It was a good plan to name an outsider like myself to be the candidate, but I did it too soon. I needed at least five thousand men at my back, enough to challenge any of the other major clans in war, and I didn’t have that yet. Zander looked up at me and nodded. We were thinking the same thing: I’d need to go to The Maples and conquer the eighteen lesser clans. Their combined strength added up to almost five thousand men, and adding the Protaki and the Terdini to my force would push me to almost seven thousand.

My scouts had given me the same news Kalkgan had received: Leveria’s army was slow to assemble. What Kalkgan failed to mention was that it was already forty-thousand men strong. It would take me a month to unite the lesser clans of The Maples and march them back to The Tundra, and by that time, Leveria’s army would be ready and on the move. If The Ten did not unite, they would be picked off one by one until they were gone, and then there would be no defending The Great Forest.

Zander and I left the hut. The arguing clan leaders didn’t even notice our exit. We wordlessly got onto our steeds and rode for back for The Pines. I could feel Zander’s grief burning from him, but he never once showed it. The hours of riding went by without a single word spoken. We had lost our friends and failed our mission. I hoped that this would be the darkest day of our war, but I doubted it.

LEVERIA

I was giddy with excitement when I got the news that Adarian had captured Elena and killed Prestira. My plan had worked to perfection, and now one of Yavara’s greatest allies was dead and her lover at my mercy, and I was not merciful. I practically skipped down to Glendian’s office. The old man was his usual bitter self, but I paid no heed to his insolence. I ordered up as many vials of succubus blood extract as I could carry with me through the portal. I went to my room and stripped naked before selecting my outfit.

How do I want Elena to see me? I thought. When I had broken Prestira, I selected a warmly-colored dress and conservative, but still attractive makeup. I wanted Prestira to view me as a kind, but firm mistress. I didn’t need to put on airs for Elena; I could be whatever I wanted to be with her. I was going to torture her slowly and send the evidence of my cruelty back to Yavara to torture her conscience. I pawed through my clothing until I found exactly what I was looking for.

It was a tight leather one-piece that covered me from head to chin. It included leather gloves and obnoxiously tall high heeled boots. I did my hair up in a ponytail and brushed a few platinum blonde bangs in front of one of my eyes. I applied black lipstick and dark eye liner to my face and dangled my hooped earrings from their pointed perches. I sheathed the knife into my belt and admired myself in the mirror. The leather clung to me in all the right places. My ass was pushed up and placed perfectly over my thighs, the cheeks so tightly pressed to the fabric it appeared they would burst. My breasts were also straining against their binds, the leather wrapped so snugly the nipples could be seen. It was perfect. I gave myself a once over and then walked back to Glendian’s office, where he had prepared the portal for me.

I took a moment to gaze from the window at the army that was amassing outside Castle Bentius. It was already almost eighty-thousand men strong. I had worked hard to establish a network of false information that could be easily captured by orc scouts. The orcs would read the letters (as best as an orc could read, I made sure to keep the words simple), and then relay to their clan leaders that Leveria’s army was still too small to be an offensive threat. In secret, I had been emptying The Highlands of every able-bodied soldier and funneling them through concealed passages in the hills. And here they stood: an army that would rival any kingdom in the world at my fingertips, ready to march on The Tundra in a fortnight. Those fools on the council of The Ten had bought my misdirection hook, line, and sinker, and now it was time to reel in my catch and feast.

PLOT POINTS

Yavara leaves the council of orc leaders in The Tundra to try and save Prestira, but she is too late. Arbor, spirit of The Great Forest, and psychological slave to Elena, tells Yavara she has a plan to rescue Elena from Castle Thorum.

Castle Thorum is a massive fortress thought to be impregnable. It now acts as the bast of operations for the rangers.

Adarian takes Elena to Castle Thorum.

Adarian reveals to the reader that he has loved a beast called a Kitsune for many years. A kitsune is a woman that can transform into a fox. In her humanoid form, April (the kitsune Adarian loves) has pointed fox ears and a bushy tail.

Adarian tells Leveria through an enchanted mirror that he has killed Presitra and captured Elena.

Brock fails to convince the council of The Ten (the ten leaders of the major orc clans of The Tundra) to join him. They reject him because Yavara will not attack The Highlands and because Brock is to weak to be Froktora.

Leveria prepares to torture Elena. She also reveals that she has been disguising the size of her army and misdirecting the orcs through false messages about the timing of her invasion. Her army is twice the size the orcs think it is, and will invade much sooner.
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