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What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse

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Dusk was upon him as Shiro rode into the small village. It was the final settlement before the arduous part of his journey began. He had left his lover back at the castle; promising Keith he would return once he found a cure for his bedevilled arm. Shiro had made him swear he would not follow, and in his absence, oversee the remaining Lion Wardens of the Order and their operations. Keith had pleaded he come with him, but it would be too great a risk to leave them so defenceless, especially since there had been a rise in attacks throughout the queendom. It had become worse since they executed the Demon Lord's trusted witch.

 

He offered a warm smile to the young man who came to greet him, and dismounted his trusted steed. She brayed and stamped her hooves into the soft ground, snorting and glancing around as if in fear. It was likely just the presence of the keep, but he firmly stroked her neck, hushing her.

“W-What brings you here, Warden?” He took the reins and looked to Shiro in awe, shifting his thick black hair from his bright hazel eyes.

“I'm here to gauge our enemy. The keep is nearby I understand.” Shiro offered a polite smile as he patted the horse.

“Yes, Warden, it's through the forest and then the pass.”

“You must get a lot of trouble around these parts,” Shiro looked around, surprised that the village still stood, but that they continued to inhabit the area regardless of what lay only miles away. He narrowed his eyes, wondering how it hadn't been razed to ruin.

 

“We lock the doors and pray to the Ancients for protection. So far, they have listened to us, because they know our belief is strong. Some have left, and others have tried to fight, but...” Shiro noted the White Lion amulet around the boy's neck. He bent down, lifting it gently in his hand.

“It's good you have such a strong ward.”

“Ah, yes! I saved for weeks to buy it.” He took it back in his hands, letting it catch the dying rays of the sun. A ward like that would cost more than a stable hand could make, and Shiro was concerned that someone was selling fakes to the fearful people of this village.

 

“Can you tell me who was selling them? I think I may need one myself.”

“Really? But you're a Lion Warden! Aren't you supposed to have the White Lion's protection?”

“Well, you can never have enough, right?” Shiro grinned, and the man laughed as he led the horse into a stable. “Well it was a travelling vendor who set up a small store in the middle of the village. He had long white hair and wore such a fancy coat, I thought he was a noble! He spoke like one! He comes around frequently, you see,” The man's eyes widened as Shiro dropped a few gold coins into his hand, “t-thank you, Warden!”

“You deserve it, and thank you,” Shiro patted his shoulder and turned to soothe his horse, Arus, who snorted in response. “You and I will be riding hard tomorrow, so rest well.” He turned to look upon the tightly packed houses before him.

 

“Can you tell me where the inn is?”

“Uh, it's down the main street and to the left of the square.”

“Do you know if that vendor is still around?”

“No, he left a few days ago.”

“I see. Thank you for your help.”

“It's nice to know the Queen hasn't forgot about us; it feels like that sometimes.” Shiro watched him play with the frayed hem of his shirt, and leaned down, armour creaking and clanking as he did. “You're not forgotten, I can promise you that.”

 

-

 

“Would you be able to get this letter sent as hastily as possible?” Shiro handed the sealed envelope to the innkeeper, who gave him a curt nod. “It will be by morning, if that's alright?”

“Yes, I appreciate your curfew is in place to protect yourselves from the creatures of the night.”

“Hopefully,” the innkeeper leaned in, the light from the lamp catching her face, “although I worry, honestly.”

“In what way?”

“Well the wolves that used to howl at night have grown silent, and a strange fog covers the forest like a suffocating blanket. It feels like it is slowly encroaching, even with the protections upon the village.” She pulled back, placing her elbows against the desk as she pushed the dark strands of hair behind her ear.

“I've been surprised the village hasn't been razed...is there something going on here? I've sensed a strange atmosphere since I arrived, and I can't quite place it.” Shiro leaned forward, face serious. As he'd wandered the streets, he'd felt eyes upon him and heard whispers. He wasn't sure whether it was because of his position with the Order of the White Lion, but he felt unsettled here, and hoped it was just his anxieties of being close to the keep.

 

“You didn't hear it from me,” she kept her voice low as she looked around warily, “but there's a sect making offerings to appease the spawn of the Demon Lord.”

“What type of offerings?” Shiro could feel his blood run cold as his mind jumped to what one town had done to their people, and he prayed this one hadn't taken to offering their own as well. She glanced down at the wood, frowning as she tentatively spoke, “the young men eager to show their strength. They apparently equip them with blessed weapons adorned in Balmeran crystals and send them out into the fog.”

“Have any returned?”

“One.”

“And?”

“They were mauled and deranged. The local guard killed him before he made it to the square.”

“I will need to write another letter regarding this, but upon my return, I will check into it.” Shiro pulled up from the desk and gave her a warm smile.

 

“Thank you for coming out here,” she muttered, glancing over at the clock on the wall.

“It's no trouble, I need to gauge the enemy, especially since further attacks across the country have happened.”

“We live in such worrisome times. Why, Warden, why have they started attacking us now? Why does it feel like shadows have crept over the land?”

“His witch is dead, so it is...likely revenge.”

“I hope you can end this soon – living in fear is driving everyone here slowly mad. It's hard, trying to keep the young ones cheerful.”

“I can only imagine, but empathise with your hardships. I will call for the others to come upon my return.” Shiro stretched out his arms and sighed. “Thank you, I hope you can sleep tonight.”

“I will try,” she gave him a weak smile, and he bade her goodnight.

 

-

 

Shiro grunted in pain as he applied the salve to the arm; the skin marbled a dark purple and black that had now crept up past his elbow. It pulsed with pain and an energy that made his insides churn in disgust. According to Queen Allura, the curse couldn't be lifted by just cutting off his arm. The protection of the White Lion, the curse-breakers, and other healing attempts had been in vain, and so this was his only choice. He glanced over the enchanted band around his arm, the blue runes glowing softly in the lamplight, and wished it could slow down the curse more. The prospect of his only respite from this hell was a daunting, if not suicidal mission; but he was strong of will and mind, and he would overcome this demon and destroy the source of the curse once and for all.

 

Black Lion Warden, you will regret this day!” She spat as Shiro and the others lowered the torches, and the Queen cast her purifying spell. As the white flames consumed the accelerator, her golden gaze settled upon him as the fire licked at the pyre, “with every fibre of my being, with all my malice, I curse you to become what you detest most! You will become what you hunt, no longer a paragon for the weak and feeble!”

Your threats are meaningless here, witch!” He retorted, glaring as the fire roared around them. She was making idle threats, that was all. All because he'd been the one to catch her, the one she had been outsmarted by. She continued to hysterically scream curses at him as the fire engulfed her body, until eventually the only noise was that of the fire. The stench of her burning, vile flesh stung his nostrils, but this was for the greater good.

 

Shiro had never expected her curse to actually work. It manifested quickly, but the more he fought the spawn of the night, the more it crept up his skin. He had spoken to Allura, who had researched on the quiet for him, and found the only way to break it would be to kill the Demon Lord; Zarkon. He couldn't allow the other Lion Warden's to accompany him, and so had to lie to them all, even Keith. They needed to remain focused on protecting the queendom, and Shiro couldn't afford Keith risking his life like all the other times.

 

-

 

His eyes shot open to someone hammering against his door. He quickly rose, grabbing his sword, as he dashed forward. He opened it to find the innkeeper's amethyst pupils contracted as she pointed down the hallway. “There's something here! Something outside on the edge of the village!”

“A demon?”

“I don't know! Please, help us, Warden!”

“Of course!” Shiro whirled around and donned his chest armour, the innkeeper moving towards him to help him fasten the straps. He thanked her and sprinted from the room, sword in hand.

 

He was shouted over by one of the guards – a broad dark-haired man with sharp hazel eyes. “There, where the others are gathered! Thank the Ancients that we have not been forgotten!” Shiro nodded as he powered forward over the cracked cobblestones and through the crowd until he reached the front. Shiro finally understood what the innkeeper meant about the fog. It clung to the trees like a wretched smog and obscured almost everything. Shiro raised his sword warily as he tried to find what they were looking at.

 

Then he caught it. The thing lurked on the precipice of their vision; it's huge frame casting a dark silhouette, but the darkness punctured by the tiniest hint of a golden and red glow from its eyes, and a strange purple flickering – almost like when fire licked at the air. Shiro moved forward slowly, sword and position defensive as he kept his eyes glued to whatever this was. He stopped when he heard a rustle, and watched the shadow shift, then pull something up. With unnatural ease, it tossed what quickly became clear was a body at him. It struck the floor with a sick thud and rolled to a stop at Shiro's feet.

 

He looked away as the state of the corpse sunk in. There was nothing distinguishing left; just ripped flesh and bone, but the stench. He gagged, but he could not show weakness to this demon. He stepped over the body, sword levelled at what chose to hide in smog and shadow in an act of defiance. “You think this will stop me? I've killed plenty of your kind before, and you are no different-”

“Are you sure?” He didn't even see it move; it was like it teleported. Shiro snapped his head up to stare into the eyes of the demon as it towered over him. It was then he realised it wore thick armour and the strange flickering came from its arm; pure demonic energy. Shiro would not yield his grasp on the sword. In fact, he gripped it tighter. The demon glanced down at it, then back to him, before cracking a sadistic grin and vanishing.

 

“Get back here!” He shouted, eyes scanning the area for the creature.

“What darkness do I sense within you, mortal?” Shiro flinched as he whirled around, but nothing was there. He didn't imagine hot breath against his neck, he was certain of that. “There's nothing dark about me!” Shiro snarled.

“Oh? Not even this?” He was pulled from the ground and hung in the air, kicking out pathetically as the demon tore the fabric away from his sword arm. He watched the face contort with inhuman glee as it pressed clawed fingers against the flesh. Shiro hissed out at the pain as the demon drew blood. “What a horrible curse you have,” it leaned down, sharp fangs on display as it grinned at him. “We'll see you soon, I'm sure.” The demon tossed him across the grass and through the mud, and when Shiro looked up, it was gone, and so was the throbbing in his arm. He swiped at the blood, uncertain why the pain should stop in the presence of a demon.

 

-

 

No one claimed the body, and it was buried in a shallow grave Shiro had offered to dig. In return the local doctor had patched his arm up the best he could. He noted that like the stable hand and guard, he also had hazel eyes, albeit duller. Shiro hadn't wanted anyone to know, for it usually heralded unsurprising distrust amongst his kind. Especially now that a demon had appeared within hours of his arrival. The stares had become more obvious, and he found himself wanting to hurry from the village and just go back home. He couldn't; he had to see this through to the bitter end.

 

He returned to his lodgings and ran a hand over the pauldron of his armour, smoothing a thumb over the eye hole of the lion's face. Exhaling, he took the small bag and pulled out a purple crystal, fixing it into the empty hole. It emitted a soft glow as it locked into place, offsetting the onyx metal. He took the largest crystal and set it into the white chest plate and offered a small smile. This was his connection to the Black Lion; one of the familiars that those of the Order were granted. The crystal allowed him access to its power, but also to summon the creature itself. It was an old magic, and he glanced down at his palm, the summoning runes tattooed there years ago. It required his blood to summon, but they had fought together in many a battle, and Shiro trusted his companion with his life. Their bond was unbreakable, and Shiro knew he would need to rely upon him as he moved through the land.

 

-

 

The light of day struggled to pierce the thick canopy above him as Shiro rode in silence through the forest. There was no birdsong, no rustling of animals scurrying about in the undergrowth. Even the ancient gnarled branches did not creak in the wind – not that there was one to speak of. It unsettled him, and Shiro urged Arus on harder along the deathly quiet path. It induced a paranoia he was not accustomed to, and he caught himself uncertain if he should let Arus canter in case something came from behind. No, he had his resolve; what good was he if a little silence caused him to turn tail and run.

 

He came to a fork in the path, and pulled Arus to a stop. She snorted, backing up slowly and stamping her feet against the ground with a dull thud. “Calm yourself, we'll be there soon.” Shiro leaned up the saddle, scratching her ear as he reached for his map. He caught her ears twitching in different directions as he flicked between monitoring her and the paper. He frowned; there was no indication of a second path. Had he taken a wrong turn? No, no that wasn't possible on a straight path. Shiro studied both his avenues carefully.

 

A howl broke his train of thought, and he cursed to himself as he whipped his head around. Arus pointedly backed up, braying out as she stamped her hooves and snorted. He followed her head and between her ears, a huge wolf stood in the middle of the path, fangs bared as it glared at them. Shiro steeled himself and drew his sword before he spurred Arus forward. He didn't hear or see where it came from, but he would not let this twisted forest engulf him in madness as he swept the sword down with a yell.

 

There was no blood, and as he turned around, no wolf or body remained where he had just ridden. Shiro stared at his sword, and then the path again. In the distance, he could hear another howl. He growled to himself and glared down the way – it seemed a decision had been made, perhaps by the forest itself, and so he urged Arus on into a gallop. He needed to get away from the presence and feeling of this place, and he was certain that eyes were upon him from the thicket.

 

-

 

The trees above blocked all light by this point, and Shiro had to make do with the light of a lantern as he rode. It was here that he started to pick up on noises; creaks and groans, the occasional caw of ravens and crows. He had not long passed an unnatural clearing where he found the crumpled heaps of bone and warped armour, eroded from weather damage, scattered across the ground around a blood-stained stone. It made his skin crawl, and he could feel the sweat trickle down the back of his neck. Dusk was only an hour away, and then night would follow, and that would be the most dangerous of times.

 

Shiro cast another look behind him as the wind whipped up. He was certain he was being stalked by something as the pain had started to dissipate. He tempered himself and gently spurred Arus onwards through the dead leaves that littered the path, eyes ever-watchful for anything. For a moment, he swore he saw a pair of golden eyes through the trees. No, it was a trick of the light – the paranoia – he was imagining it. It was too early for demons to be out, for them to cast their illusions.

 

-

 

The water from the brook soothed his dry mouth, and Arus seemed pleased as she quenched her thirst. Shiro gave her withers a pat as she tore the grass up, chewing greedily down. She was a good steed, however here he found she was far more jumpy and nervous then normal. She hadn't reared or bucked, but he worried that something may spook her – and he suspected what lived in these woods was worse then what flying abominations they had witnessed in their usual battles.

 

Both their ears pricked as they heard it. A faint clicking sound, then something unnatural; between a scream and growl. Shiro drew his sword again and quickly made a cut to his palm as he pressed his hand against the crystal set in the armour. The wind picked up, and as he withdrew his hand and pressed it to the ground, the circle opened around him. He backed away as Black emerged from his plane of existence, and turned his proud golden eyes to Shiro. The group remained tense as the clicking grew closer and louder – like there were others now – and Shiro held his position firmly as it stopped.

 

The scream came from above, and he and Black looked up as strange long-armed creatures leapt at that from the trees. Shiro roared as he swung his sword across his body, a burst of wind slicing them in twain. Black sounded off a mighty roar and leapt into the air, savaging the gremlins with a bestial hunger akin to a demon itself. Between them, they decimated the lot, even the one that tried to flee for its miserable life. Shiro panted and Black sidled up beside him, giving his body a nuzzle, before pressing his muzzle against Shiro's chest as he retreated back to the crystal. “Thank you,” Shiro muttered, stroking the gem affectionately.

 

“Did you know that the Order of the White Lion employed the use of demons?”

“Even the use of a blood pact...my, how sacrilegious.”

“Well, what do you expect with Altean 'magic'?” Shiro snapped his head up at the two demons who sat leisurely watching from the branch, their golden eyes glittering and shining in the low light. He snarled, pulling himself in. “The Lions aren't demons! They aren't as deplorable as your kind.”

“Oh really?” The smaller of the two, more blue in colour, pushed himself from the branch and landed on his feet, it's slender forked tail cracking against the ground. “What would a mortal like you know of such things?”

“A mortal like me knows when he's trying to be tricked,” Shiro stepped forward, eyeing the thin armour it wore and noting the lack of obvious weaponry. This one may be a caster of some sort, which meant he'd need to re-summon Black.

 

“Oh no, your pesky cat can remain within the crystal, Warden.” Shiro felt the press of a blade against the back of his neck, and he lowered his arm slowly. “Why haven't you killed me?” He glared to the grinning demon in front of him as he sauntered forwards, raising his tail slowly over his armour. “On orders, of course.” His eyes shone as he leaned in close to Shiro's face, his bat-like ears twitching. It was then that he noticed the horns – much like a chamois – were broken. He licked his dry lips; this one was young and weaker, so should be easier to slay.

 

“Whose orders?”

“Why, our Lord Zarkon, of course. Although,” the demon behind him grabbed Shiro under his arms while the other pushed his sword arm out, gripping the cursed arm tightly, “the curse from this is like a beacon, and as you continue onwards, more things will be drawn to you like moths to a flame.” The breath was hot against his ear and Shiro struggled in the strong grasp, growling out as he tried to rip his arms back. The arm wasn't hurting again, but he would be damned if he remained here. He brought his leg up and tried to kick backwards, but a forked tail caught his ankle, pulling it harshly up. The smaller demon tutted at him, bringing clawed hands around his cheeks as he stroked his face. “You told our Commander that you'd slain our kind before. What's so different about us, mortal? Or is it you need your comrades? Taken on a little too much?” He mocked, leaning in so close his breath brushed against Shiro's lips.

 

He thrashed about in the hold, and was dropped unceremoniously to the floor. “Do you think this was sufficient toying, Lieutenant Haxus?”

“Well, Lieutenant Hepta, I think there's always more we could do.” The one named Haxus moved forward and thrust a clawed boot between Shiro's legs, making him jerk up as the metal pushed and kneaded against the sensitive area. He forced himself backwards, eyes blown wide at such an intrusion. “What the fuck? I'm not – you're not!”

“Oh, mortal, mortal, mortal,” Haxus moved closer and pushed him down into the dirt, carding a clawed hand through the white tuft of hair, “you seem like the type who would enjoy a demon lover.”

“I'm not going to fuck you!”

“No, but we can fuck you,” the other – Hepta ran his claws over the scar across his nose. He was pulled up by Haxus, while Hepta's teeth bit sharply along his jawline, drawing blood. Shiro couldn't pull away as Haxus pushed his tongue into Shiro's mouth and squeezed between his legs. He shouted through the intrusion as he closed his eyes.

 

The contact was gone, and he found himself grabbing at his skin. No marks or blood, yet it still felt like their touches lingered. He scrubbed his hands over his skin and crawled towards the brook, pushing his face under the water for a few seconds before pulling away. As he blinked his vision back, he saw the face of the demon from last night as he bore down over him. Shiro rolled to the side, but there was nothing there. There was never anything there. He groaned, taking a deep breath. He needed to get on Arus and go, and right now, he was really considering heading back. He looked around, noting the severe lack of her. Dread filled his stomach as he pushed himself up, searching wildly for tracks. She hadn't and wouldn't gallop away – it was unlike her. Shiro swore as he looked up through the roof of the trees; dusk was waning, and he was alone and stuck on foot with at minimum, two demons stalking him.

 

He couldn't understand why he was having so much trouble with them, and he didn't understand why they hadn't killed him. Why would the Demon Lord order them not to? It made no sense. But then, was he falling for their wily tricks and filthy lies? He grabbed at his head, digging his nails in. He would not let the resolve of his mind and heart falter. He had to carry on, if not for his sake, but for Keith who waited back home for him. Thoughts of his lover soothed him; how his hair stuck to his forehead after a sparring session, his beautiful eyes cracking open in the early morning, how he would hum small tunes to himself when they went riding together. Shiro would get home, and he would beg for his lover's forgiveness.

 

-

 

Shiro shed the shredded cape as he stumbled from the forest. Black prowled over, nudging him with his muzzle and offering a rough lick against the cut over his left arm. “Thank you,” he winced as he settled down on the ground under a sign. The wind caused it to creak, but he wasn't concerned with that, just fixing the nicks and small wounds. His arm hadn't been hurting as much as he moved through the forest, and he was starting to theorise that the reason for that was because he was growing closer to the lair of his enemy. He'd expected it to become worse if anything, but the law of the demons was inverted to what he lived by. He groaned as he applied the salve to a cut across his waist, grimacing at the cracked and bloody armour.

 

The creatures really had started to crawl out from their holes in the ground. Skeletal soldiers of centuries past had came for him upon horses wearing rusted armour. They had ran into a pair of werewolves at another fork in the path, and Black ended up tearing the two of them to shreds. Shiro had made full use of the phasing ability of his, but it was a drain on his body and at present he had limited resources.

 

The two demons had appeared twice more. The second time they both blocked the patch ahead and challenged him to a duel. Neither party had won, but Shiro was able to get a good few hits in against Hepta. The blade had seared his flesh, just as it should. It brought a small smile to Shiro's lips; at least it was something that didn't make him feel so hopeless. The third time was when Black was engaged with a chimera of some kind, and he laid uselessly stunned on the ground. Hepta had forced his mouth open and pushed his fingers in, making him gag, while Haxus simply kneaded his genitals as he rutted against his clothed ass. Shiro was adamant he saw the larger demon again watching quietly from one of the ancient trees above him, that sadistic smirk still on his face. Before Black could come to his rescue, the two had vanished again leaving him shaken by their actions.

 

Once he had finished tending to his wounds, he broke his reprieve and rose from the ground. He could hear distance howls – unsure why the innkeeper had said they had gone quiet when wolves clearly still roamed the forest, even if the single one he had seen was an illusion. “I don't know what's going on here, Black, but I don't like it. By the Ancients, I shouldn't have come alone.” His eyes caught the words carved into the sign: Abandon all hope. Wonderful. Black stared up at him and let out a low rumble, nudging against his arm with his muzzle before looking to the bridge.

 

On the horizon he could spy the outline of the keep. He swallowed, feet locking him to the spot. No, I have to press onwards. Black moved behind him, knocking his hips gently. Shiro let a small chuckle escape his lips as he placed the half-used bottle of salve back into his belt, and focused himself, touching the crystal on his chest. He was the Black Lion Warden, leader of the Order of the White Lion. A knight that had killed many demons, had caught Zarkon's trusted witch. The worst scar he owned he wore upon his face, and no demon, hellion or beast would stop him. He would undo this curse, he would slay Zarkon, and he would protect the queendom and all her inhabitants.

 

“Does the fear bite at your heels like unruly dogs?” That guttural voice could only belong to that demon. Shiro tilted his head to find him lurking, eyes glowing brilliantly in the dying light. “No. I have my resolve.”

“So certain?”

“How did you know I was here?” Shiro watched him move hearing his armour clank together, noting the long horns that pointed forward, and the secondary set that curved around his large ragged ears. The arm flared dangerously, and Shiro primed himself for a fight. He would likely teleport again, so he had to be quick.

 

He stopped a few paces away from Shiro, studying him like he was some foreign curio. He brought his other arm, a gauntlet with great spikes decorating the forearm, up and snapped his fingers. Shiro kept his face even as he watched the two smaller demons – realising how small they were comparatively, manifest beside him. “You have an hour head-start to reach the keep.” The tall one growled out, a huge sword forming within his hand. Haxus drew both his blades, while Hepta offered a salacious smile as dark energy swirled within his hands. Shiro didn't want to know what would happen if he tried to fight them all now, so he leapt on Black's back and the lion bounded away, taking sharp leaps across the gaps on the bridge, which rattled under the weight and speed of which they moved.

 

“He has yet to access his wings.” Hepta craned his neck as he watched the mortal escape.

“It is like the other Wardens – they are not fully realised.”

“I believe the Red Lion is able to traverse molten lava, is that true, Commander Sendak?” Haxus hooked his tail around Sendak's thigh, caressing the inside vigorously. Sendak let out a low rumble, stabbing his sword into the ground and pulling Haxus towards him. “That is true. Hepta, here.” Hepta purred as he moved over, pressing himself against Sendak's side. “Have you incubi worked yourselves up this much chasing the poor Warden?”

“Perhaps,” Haxus knelt, moving his hand between his legs and using his tail to massage his own entrance. Sendak allowed them to settle him to the ground, and gripped them both by the horns, pushing their faces towards his groin. “Then pleasure me so you may receive a brief release.”

 

-

 

Shiro cut through the beast with a scream, blood splattering over his armour. As the corpse fell, another leapt up, its maw ready to rip his throat out. Black caught it within his jaws, crushing its windpipe in one bite. His pupils blazed golden like Black's as he slashed his sword upwards, back arcing. The sharp blade of air severed heads and limbs. Shiro panted, he didn't know how long he had left until this hour was up, and it wasn't like it'd take them long to catch up and butcher him like an animal. With a roar, he thrust his sword into the ground below him, the air sending the beasts flying. Some fell down the gorge, others were slammed into the sharp rocks. He dropped to his knees, exhausted. Just a few seconds, he just needed a few-

 

He ducked in time to miss the talons that tried to pick him up by his skull. Black snarled up at the beast, that settled half on the rock, and half on the path in front of them. Shiro cursed and leapt on Black's back. “We need to move! When it breathes fire, we phase out!” Black roared in response and hurtled forwards, Shiro needing to bury his hands deep in the thick mane as the dragon in front of them reared its head up, flames licking around its jaws. It threw its head forward, and the two phased out as the fire scorched the ground. There was no way they could face a dragon alone – he needed Keith and Hunk here with him for that. Black's paws hammered against the rocky path as they moved under the dragon's belly. There, in front of them, stood an open gate. “C'mon, Black, I believe in you,” Shiro praised urgently as the dragon started to lift upwards.

 

They careened through the doorway. Black took the worst of the fall, but still rolled on top of Shiro. He hacked up blood onto the stone floor, nursing his torn side. That would have to wait as he moved over to the lion. He needed to rest and recharge, and the toil on Shiro was becoming too great. He leaned down, thanking him, as he pressed his muzzle against the crystal. Black returned to his plane, and Shiro crawled into a hole in the wall. Well, big enough for him, but small for the demons. He needed to rest – needed to treat his wounds.

 

“It is unwise to sleep here, Warden. You don't have long.” Shiro jolted awake, not realising he had dozed off. He felt something soft brush against his skin, and he looked down to see a cat – a strange black cat with white socks and markings, an orange crest and tail, and blue streaks upon its face. “I must be going mad if I think you're talking to me,” he pet the cat's head affectionately as it sat in front of him, yellow eyes staring like it could see through his soul. “I was, and I must say, Warden,” the cat purred as its body shifted, “that felt quite nice.” Shiro's mouth opened and closed in shock as a demon sat before him, arms either side of his face. This wasn't any demon – this was Zarkon's son, Lotor, who was almost upon him in the confined space.

 

Lotor pressed a finger to his lips, shushing him. “I come meaning no harm, but just to warn you.” He took Shiro's right hand in his, “you have been lied to, my dear Warden. Slaying my father will not grant you freedom from the curse.”

“Y-You're lying to me!”

“Not as much as the Queen has lied to you. Not just about the curse, but about this,” he pressed his hand against Shiro's chest, rubbing the crystal carefully. “The power of those Lions is an ancient one; they are a different strain of demon – elemental, bestial. The more you use their powers, the quicker you descend to madness. I suspect she has sent you to your death as a means to save you, and stop your allies from seeing it with their own eyes.”

“Why do you tell me this? What do you gain?” Shiro grit out, pulling his arm away.

 

Lotor cocked his head to the side, a large grin tugging at his lips. “When the time comes and you know my words to be truth, that you may side with me.”

“What would make me ever side with you?”

“Well, Takashi Shirogane, wouldn't you like to see your lover? Because let me tell you, at this rate you will never see him again.”

“How do you-”

“It matters not how I know these things. Just know I will let him know of your predicament-”

“You'd never be able to-”

“As a travelling vendor,” Lotor's body became that of a human with bright hazel eyes, “one is able to go quite a few places. It also helps,” Lotor produced a familiar envelope from his breast pocket, “I have a letter to deliver.”

 

Shiro slumped back into the stone, mouth opening and closing. How did he? When did he? “I'm sorry to say, that village was lost months ago.” Lotor patted his shoulder, closing his eyes. “My father wasn't happy with me convincing them to just send us offerings.”

“But...I don't...how?”

“Illusions, and of course, most demons can shape shift.”

“Why are you helping me? I don't understand.”

“I want my fathers throne – there are many things I detest about how he rules that I look to rectify,” Lotor tilted his head. “I believe my time will be up in a moment. I will not say goodbye, dear Shiro, just until we meet again.” Lotor's body decreased in size, and Shiro watched as white feathers burst from his arms.

 

The stone was ripped away and the hole enlarged. Lotor gave him a sad look until he became a dove. He flapped his wings and shot from the hole. Shiro heard the snarl of “Lotor!” And angry growls. Metal boots struck the stone floor, but Shiro's attention was firmly upon the hand that raked the wall away. As he looked up through pained eyes, they widened in fear as the large demon leaned down over his body, licking its lips as they tugged upwards into a cruel smile.

“It appears you didn't make it to the keep in time. What a shame.” The armoured hand reached for him, each individual digit wrapping itself around the boot, gripping him tight. He tried to kick out. The demonic hand twisted into his hair, pulling his head back sharply.

 

-

 

Black coils of pure energy bound his arms together as he was forced over the arid, cracked ground, similar to that of a dried riverbed. Twisted and sharp rock spires stood erect, occasionally decorated with bound human remains. He limped by one; corvids of some form pecking at the sun-baked skin from what he could make out in the bright light of the full moon that hung above him. In the distance, purple flames roared as the wind stoked them high; illuminating parts of the keep.

 

As the blackness started to take a defined shape, Shiro was marched over smooth obsidian stone. He came to an abrupt stop when something wet dripped down upon him. With baited breath, he raised his head to see the underbelly of a horse. His body trembled as he backed away and collapsed to the ground in realisation. “S-She wasan innocent animal.”

“Innocence has no bearing in this world, mortal.” He felt the metal fingers push into his hair, roughly moving his head back and forth. “Come, you are here to slay our Lord, are you not?” The demon chuckled as he shoved him forward to his hands and knees.

 

The coldness of the keep bit against exposed skin. He was held in place by the large demon as they came to a stop and stared at the lanterns against the wall as they lit up in purple flame, igniting further and further down the long corridor without the aid of a lamp-lighter. “Go inform Lord Zarkon of our arrival.”

“Yes, Commander Sendak,” both Haxus and Hepta bowed, lacing their tails together as they moved down the corridor. Shiro flinched when Sendak's hand gripped his arm tightly.

 

“You're Sendak?” Shiro murmured quietly.

“You only realise now?” He could hear the smirk in his voice, and Shiro glared, although half-heartedly in resignation, up to him. “I'm just surprised,” he found himself answering, “that you never tore me to shreds. I've heard about you – what you can do.”

“My orders were given and I am loyal to our Lord.” Sendak moved to stand in front of him, placing both hands on his shoulders as he leaned in.

 

“Besides,” he closed his eyes and Shiro couldn't help but choke out a whine as his form changed, “it's a good thing that you never forgot about us, Warden. You came eventually.” The doctor stared back at him, eyes a dull hazel in colour. Lotor was right, oh Ancients he was right. His heart caught in his chest as he pushed himself away shaking his head, eyes wildly looking for an exit that he now didn't exist. He tried to bolt away to anywhere. “So now you lose your resolve?” The voice was that of utter disgust. A clawed boot caught the back of his knee and Shiro struck the floor hard. “Does the truth and gravity of your situation bring out your weak and feebleness? Where is that resolve? Why, mortal, do you break so easily?” Sendak's crushing weight restricted his movement, and Shiro found himself trying to stop the hot tears in the corners of his eyes from rolling down his cheeks. He took a deep breath to steel himself.

 

“You won't win. If you kill me, then the others will come, the armies will come. Your head will be on a fucking stick.” Shiro snarled up, eyes defiant though his body shook with rage and fear. Sendak let out a mighty roar of laughter as his head tilted back. He growled, bringing it forward. “There it is! Such a barbaric little mortal! Even more so when your eyes glow just like ours. Such a shame, such a waste you are confined to the mortal coil.” Sendak trailed clawed fingers over the metal covering Shiro's stomach. For a moment, Shiro wondered if he was going to tear through it and pull out his entrails.

 

He was pulled up and his hands released. Sendak didn't care if he took out his sword or not, because as he said, he'd be literally disarmed before he moved if he threatened Zarkon's life. Shiro was inclined to believe him; wondering why thoughts of curiosity crept into his mind regarding the demons and their motivations. He was too complacent to ignore his gut feeling about the village. The stares that stoked the paranoia were true. The strangeness in how similar the village occupants were...it made sense. Lotor had his letter, had told him about Black. The other two – Haxus and Hepta – had made mention earlier. Shiro found himself brushing his hand against the crystal. What if Black was why his arm was getting worse? What if the arm was being fed on the souls of demons he killed? Was that why it caused no pain when he was around these creatures? Did the witch mean to turn him, instead of...he wasn't sure, aside from presume she meant bring him to madness. Why was he even thinking about this? It was their deceptions, it wasn't...couldn't be-

 

He was ripped from his thoughts as they reached a set of huge double doors, ornate and glowing like the flames around them. Green light accented the door, and Shiro swallowed as they swung open, the guards either side watching him through narrow golden eyes as Sendak shoved him through. His eyes focused on what lay in front of him; he had to ignore the crowded throne room and the stares.

 

The room hushed as he entered, and only his and Sendak's footfalls echoed. Occasionally, he would hear the shifting and chattering of the strange creatures, but his focus remained fixated on the demon that lounged in the throne. It felt like an eternity until he stood a few metres away. Sendak shoved him roughly down to his knees and took the sword from his hilt, hissing as he tossed it to the side. Black was all Shiro had left now.

 

“Why do you enter my lands, Warden?” Zarkon rumbled as he leaned forward in the throne, tapping his claws against the stone arm. Shiro swallowed as he looked into the glowing purple-white eyes. He was at least two heads taller than Sendak. If Shiro wasn't terrified already, he was now, wishing his body had the capacity to die from sheer terror. He licked his dry lips, “t-to slay the source of my curse – you.” The room erupted into a dark and twisted laughter that took Shiro so much by surprise he shouted out and forced himself backwards into Sendak's leg, head snapping back and forth. Zarkon eventually silenced them and rested his face in his hand. “You sit a prisoner in my keep. I would say your quest was a failure, if not suicidal.” He watched Shiro's face, claws continuing to tap away.

 

“What fuels your belief killing me will cure your ails? Haggar was the one to plant it, not I-”

“She gained her powers from you! If you weren't linked, then why did it continue when she is dead?” The room erupted into laughter again and Shiro's stomach dropped. He slumped forward, steadying himself on his hands. “She's not dead, is she?”

 

“No. You think I would be so reckless as to reveal myself? I have vessels of my own.” His head was slowly lifted to look into sharp golden eyes, red markings adorning her face. “A-Altean?!”

“Corrupted, mind you,” Zarkon chuckled from his throne as she moved away to stand besides him. Zarkon brushed his hand against her arm, and slowly rose. As he moved towards Shiro, his huge wings stretched wide either side of his body, before relaxing back behind him.

 

“You were sent here to perish. The Alteans – your unknowing masters – are a vile kind. They bind you to ancient demons to fight for our eradication-” Zarkon snarled as he wiped the bloody spit from his face. “Black is no demon! He is my friend, comrade!”

“Insolent worm!” Zarkon roared, striking Shiro's face with the force of a forgemaster's hammer that sent him reeling backwards. Zarkon strode over, grabbing him by the throat and lifting him high into the air. “The Black Lion, like the others, were gifts I granted to Alfor. Do not speak to me like you understand. You do not even know his true name!” Zarkon's eyes narrowed as he brought his hand up to the crystal. Shiro yelled out, scrabbling at his arm.

 

He pressed his claws into the crystal, and Shiro could feel Black's essence and power as Zarkon pulled his arm back, claw tips trailing a purple light that attached itself back to his chest. “Come forth, Diabazaal.” Shiro's eyes widened as Black – Diabazaal – sprung from the crystal as it shattered. He landed beside the throne and turned. Shiro's heart skipped a beat. His eyes no longer glowed yellow, but the same purple-white as Zarkon. There were physical changes – markings of red and yellow and massive wings spread out around him as he released a sky-rending roar, the wing-tips pointed like brilliant silver daggers. His large claws clattered against the floor as he moved forwards with purpose and came to a stop in front of Shiro – now towering over him.

 

“This is his true form,” Zarkon ran a hand through the thick mane almost affectionately, “a form that you would struggle to attain, but then,” Zarkon dropped Shiro to the floor as he moved away, “you would still find yourself here. The new Queen rightly fears these awakened forms, for then it reveals their hypocrisy.” He tilted his head to look at Shiro over his shoulder. “Do you believe us now with what stands before you?”

 

He looked into the eyes of the lion – demon – he didn't know what to think any more. These truths were painful to swallow and stirred an internal turmoil he never asked for. With uncertain hands, he raised them up towards his muzzle. He screwed his eyes shut and bit his lip to stifle another pathetic whimper of fear, drawing more blood from his mouth. A wet nose pressed itself against his hands. He cracked his eye open to see the lion settle down, tucking his wings away as he licked at his hands. The lion let out a low rumble. A gust of wind from nowhere struck Shiro from behind, and he fell into the thick fur. A heavy paw settled over his back, and Diabazaal took to licking his wounds. If not for the demons around him, this would almost be comforting.

 

Sendak moved to stand besides Zarkon and Haggar, folding his arms across his chest, watching Diabazaal's tail twitch. “Would I be correct in assuming he is happy?”

“For once, he seems to be,” Zarkon settled back in his throne. Diabazaal was the first of the ancient demons he had ever met, and the two had forged a strong bond thousands of years ago. So much as he would prefer to subjugate Diabazaal himself, which meant he would be able to manipulate Altea, Dalterion, Rygnirath, and Nalquod, there were other ways. “You did well to plant the curse upon him.”

“It was a pleasure to craft one so intricate. To grow in times of rest, to become less painful the closer he got to us...to have him so uncertain and open to my illusions.” Haggar watched as Diabazaal picked the mortal up in his jaws and brought him over to the throne, like a mother carrying her young. He slowly used his claws to tear the armour and batted it away, leaving him in thin leathers.

 

Shiro wasn't sure what Diabazaal was doing, but he did not appreciate his armour being removed. He pushed himself up, still shaken and now soggy. “Why won't you just kill me? What is all of this?”

“Punishment,” Zarkon smirked down, “I am aware of how many of my Generals and minions you have murdered, Warden. I am certainly aware of how you fight after watching your journey here. So barbaric, so twisted. So what better punishment then to make you become what you so hate? Bound to our wills and designs.” Zarkon pushed himself up and stepped slowly towards him. He lifted a hand and pressed it against the lion's muzzle. Diabazaal roared out as he became energy that Zarkon caught in a crystal of his own. He offered it out and Sendak took it, as he stared down at Shiro.

 

“I won't-”

“Silence yourself.” Zarkon sneered as he kicked Shiro in the chest. His head struck the floor and he growled through bloody teeth when Zarkon ground his boot into the his groin. “Struggle, beg, plead; I do not care what noise leaves your mouth, but do not lie to me or my court when we are all aware of the fear that emanates from you. At the end of it, mortal, you are just as feeble and weak of will and mind as the rest of them. You will serve as a perfect mockery to the Order of the White Lion; a twisted victim of those you love and loathe.” Zarkon's foot removed itself from Shiro's groin and he tapped it once against the floor.

 

Shadowed coils wrapped themselves around Shiro's body. They wound around his neck and forced themselves between the leather, wheedling their way over cold sweat-covered skin. He tried to thrash about and scream, but two thick tendrils forced their way into his mouth, muffling his terrified cries. His head was forced back as the tendrils moved his body into the air, and he felt his arms tugged behind his head and bound together. He could only watch as his tense legs were spread wide open like some virginal maiden forcibly taken as a spoil of war. His scream was stifled by the tendrils as his thighs were whipped, tearing away the material. The laughter and jeering bored into his head, the rabble converging to watch his debasement. He sobbed weakly as he felt something grip his cock and then a sharp press against the head.

 

Zarkon clicked his claws and the shadowy tendrils brought a tighter hold around the man. A large one emerged from the writhing pile and slowly rubbed along the length between his legs. It pressed and poked. The pace increased. The muffled whimpers a beautiful melody of fear to Zarkon's ears. With another click of his claws, finer tendrils rose around him. Some locked his head into place with others ripped the fabric away. When he chest was exposed, Zarkon admired the battle scars, and then the raised nubs as the tendrils flicked and rubbed over them. Impatient, Zarkon ran his claw between his legs, tearing the leather like paper and watching the fattest tendril push the bulbous tip against his entrance. Three smaller ones came to its aid, easing inside one by one, earning a strangled scream.

 

With every snap of Zarkon's fingers, the tendrils did something different. By now, he was taking something so huge in his ass that he dared not struggle lest it tore him apart. It felt like something was holding him open, but it was offset by his burning flesh. His nipples and chest stung as these little 'mouths' bit and kneaded his taut muscles. Tears prickled in his eyes again as he felt his legs pulled further apart that any more would pull them from their sockets.

 

Too much had happened; his life had crumbled and now he was here, almost naked bar his greaves and boots and arm guards. The leather had been ripped away and now he could feel every slimy tendril secrete its disgusting fluids over his body, and as he braced himself, the two in his mouth fired their bittersweet seed down his throat for the second time. Some leaked from the side of his mouth and his eyes rolled back. His body sagged as the will to fight was torn from his very being.

 

“Does it only take a light fucking to break you?” Sendak sneered as he tilted Shiro's head up. Shiro didn't reply, and was slashed across his chest. The pain brought him back and he tried to writhe, but the restriction grew tighter as he did. “At least he is still awake for you, Lord.”

“Good.”

Shiro whined as he heard the claws snap again, and suddenly his whole body was raised higher and twisted round on display. The two tendrils escaped his mouth and for a second he thought he had reprieve, but one snaked its way around his cock so two were working him to a steady orgasm, while the other pressed against his spread ass. “N-No! I'll break – die - if you-” his voice caught as he shrieked out in pain as it forced its way inside, and the two stirred him up until he felt like it'd tear him in two. He cried and panted and screwed his eyes shut as he felt them strike his prostate, pleasure coursing through his body. It was what he swallowed – of course. He could never enjoy such degradation.

 

He made a squeak as he felt whatever was in his ass – two, three, maybe four tendrils at this point – shoot its collective load deep inside him. He let out a cracked sob as his body was lowered to the ground. The tendrils disappeared, and he felt the hotness pour out of him and pool against his thighs.

 

Clawed hands grabbed his hips tightly, tearing the skin away as he heard the rustle of fabric and clink of metal. Something hard and pointed entered him and Shiro coughed and spluttered; it filled and spread him wider. “If you enjoy this,” Zarkon rumbled in his ear as he pulled his head back, “then the other one will be just as good.”

“O-Other one?”

“Yes, Warden. Some rumours about demons are true,” he laughed as he sunk his fangs into Shiro's neck, and he felt the second cock rub between his legs, pressing against his balls and stimulating him more than it should do. “S-Stop!”

“Why? You did not stop when you killed my kind. You expect mercy? In my domain?” Zarkon smashed his face into the floor knocking out one of his molars. Shiro spat it out and groaned, eyes and head feeling fuzzy and body far too hot. “Between myself and my right-hand, this will be your nourishment.” Shiro felt the ridges along Zarkon's cock flare out inside him as he pushed on harder, pressing Shiro's face into the stone. “For as you can see,” Shiro was aware of his arm guard being pulled from his right arm and the fabric torn away through the haze, “this is what will cure you of your curse.” He couldn't even muster a response except raising his hips higher. Zarkon took it as he intended; fuck him. He wanted a cure, and at least he was getting it. Just not the way he had ever imagined. What point was there to struggle?

 

In the time it took Zarkon's first cock to empty into him, Shiro had been forced to drink back the come of the spectators who Zarkon had allowed to do so. So many ridges and barbs and bits that made his own cock twitch in anticipation and despair. It was an aphrodisiac of course, but his body still felt so excited, so shameful, as he was forced to engage in such debauchery. He grunted as he was rolled over to his back and watched as Zarkon pushed his second cock in, this time all the way down to the hilt. Shiro screamed, eyes rolling back in his head. Not from pain, no, but from the pure feeling of it all. The demons around him called him names of some sort, but Shiro didn't care as he canted his hips, letting his head drop backwards and ignoring the blood over his brow.

 

Perhaps the incubi he met earlier were right about him enjoying a demon lover; he wasn't going to get out of here alive. What was he thinking? No, no he would, he would-

“W-What're you...what're you doing?” Shiro watched as Sendak and Haggar settled either side of him with small daggers and the dark crystal that Diabazaal was sealed within. They didn't speak as both grabbed his arms. Zarkon gave them both a nod as he brushed his hand over Shiro's stomach and took the offered crystal.

 

He screeched in agony as the two carved sigils into his stomach. He could feel the blood running hot against his clammy skin, and he tried to struggle away to no avail. Sendak tightened his hold and raised his left hand, slicing it through the tattooed runes before pushing it towards Zarkon. The two removed their hands from Shiro's body as they started some archaic chant, and between his own blood-stained hand and the crystal, Zarkon took it, combining their blood together. “Now you will become what you detest,” his laughter reverberated around the room as he grabbed Shiro's hip with one hand and crushed the crystal to dust, purple energy escaping upwards. Shiro screamed as Zarkon started muttering some spell, a dark purple light around them.

 

It was then he realised he was the focal point of the circle. He looked as the energy formed into some ethereal form of Diabazaal that contorted with pain and confusion, and Shiro screamed out his true name. The lion looked down at him and on great wings, dove straight into his stomach.

 

The room was silent and dark for a few moments, before strange energy crackled over Shiro's body. Zarkon growled as he released his second orgasm, and stroked Shiro's belly as the sigils glow softened, smearing the blood around his skin. The air whipped up around them, the crowds muttering and moving away, but the three around the small body remained in place. Slowly, they watched his eyes open, the once grey pupils now golden, much like when him and the demon battled together. He blinked, looking up at Zarkon.

 

“What've you done?”

“Diabazaal considers you worthy. Now you are one being. By morning, you will no longer be considered a mortal.” Zarkon and Haggar rose. “If you do not believe me, try pick up your sword to strike me down.” Zarkon smirked as the man moved on unsteady legs, apparently ignoring what ran down his thighs as he went to grab the sword. He fell backwards, staring at his hand in shock.

“Blessed weapons and demons do not mix.”

“But I- ah!” Shiro flinched away, nursing his hand against his chest.

 

“You no longer have a need for this.” Sendak kicked the blade away and lifted Shiro with ease to his feet.

“But I...I'm still human!”

“For now,” Zarkon rumbled, “the change will be apparent by morning, as I have said.”

“What's going to happen to me?” Shiro moved away from Sendak and wrapped his arms around his stomach. “Well,” Zarkon tilted his head, “we will have to see what form you end up taking. Sendak, he is yours for the night, as promised.”

“Thank you, Lord.” Sendak bowed and moved towards Shiro, grabbing his right arm with the demonic one. “You and I are going to have quite a night.” Shiro tried to pull away, but found himself moving into Sendak's arms. “I didn't- no, I don't want to!” He was trying to pull away, but his body refused.

 

“That wasn't the only purpose of the ritual.” Zarkon moved forward with purpose and tilted his head up to stare into his eyes. “Your will is mine. When you and Diabazaal joined, our bodies were connected. I can make you do as I please,” Zarkon laughed as his eyes shone brighter, and Shiro, not by his choosing, fell to his knees in front of Sendak and pushed his hands against the front of his armour. “I can't do this.” Shiro whimpered as his face was pressed against the metal. “But you will, by physical or mental control, you will submit.” Zarkon rumbled.

 

-

 

Sendak dropped him on the large bed. Aside from thick pelts of wolves and bears, he could feel the tell-tale softness of silk.

 

“I am surprised you have not realised.”

“Realised what?” Shiro glared up into his eyes.

“Who I am.”

“I already know who you are, Sendak.”

“Aside from that,” he teased the white strands with clawed fingers, smirking down at him. “Whatever did this must have given you quite a fright.”

“Yeah, well, it happened ages ago.” Shiro shoved his hand away, scratching at his arm. He hissed, glancing down at the deep red lines and frowned at his nails.

 

“Perhaps this will remind you. Hepta, come!” Sendak raised his demonic arm as Hepta dropped from the rafters above, purring as he crawled over and wiggled his way under Sendak's arm. “You know I will any time you ask me too,” one hand tilted Sendak's face towards his, while the other ran over his shoulder. Shiro's face paled as the arm changed. A huge black gauntlet with three long claws protruding from the knuckles appeared before him, and his breath caught in his throat. “No. No, that's not...no!

 

The memories flooded back. His mother, father. The claws stained with their blood. The howls. The sound of flesh tore from bone that cracked. The stench of the dead.

 

“I have remained ever-so-patient to claim what was supposed to be given on that night.”

“I was a child!”

“That I would still have waited to mature.” Sendak pushed Hepta away, and the demon leapt back up as Sendak moved over Shiro, stripping away the heavy armour and discarding it to the wayside. “Believe me, the wait has been worth losing my arm and eye for.” His laughter was dark and cruel as he pulled Shiro by the ankles towards him, pressing him in to the sheets with his demonic hand – the fingers wider then his chest. He pushed two fingers inside down to the knuckle. Shiro writhed under the weight that held no physical form for him to grab at as Sendak scissored his entrance.

 

“I could push both of my cocks in and I still think there would be room to spare,” he leaned down and ran his rough tongue over Zarkon's bite marks. Shiro let out a deep snarl as he bared his teeth in rage. “Fuck you!”

“Oh no, Shiro, I will fuck you.” Sendak pushed another two fingers in, the claws scratching against his sensitive insides. He roared out in pain, trying to grab for something. His fingers caught the sheets, tearing through the silken fabric. Sendak's grin only grew wider as he pushed himself down, pulling his fingers out from his ass to grab around his throat. “It seems the changes are already underway.”

 

Between the bites and scratches over his chest, Sendak made right on his word as he pushed both of his cocks in. Shiro roared out, his jaw in agony as Sendak paid no mind to the force of his thrusts. He could feel his skin tear around his entrance – the come had dried up long ago to be a viable lubrication. “The blood looks divine against my skin, and even better against your pale body.” He bit down on the ridge of Shiro's ear, sharp teeth piercing through the cartilage. Shiro roared out again louder, biting into the furred pelts and sobbing at the pain. Two at once was a hell he never wanted. Why couldn't this just be a nightmare? He'd give anything right now to be laid naked besides Keith, to stroke his hair, to bite against his chest, leave the bruises he demanded around his hips.

 

The brutal pace continued as Sendak kept to restricting his air flow and then letting him gulp back lungfuls, before repeating again and again. His own cock twitched painfully as it leaked pre-come into the sheets, and his rasped growls became more and more laboured until Sendak finally came within him. He laid on top of Shiro, biting against his neck possessively as he reached his hand under Shiro's body, gripping his cock as he slowly, yet firmly, worked up a pace that had him begging and pleading for release. His body had betrayed him, and he thrust back against the cocks that remained buried inside him to stimulate him. By the Ancients, he felt like an animal in heat. It was probably Zarkon doing this, making him become such a desperate creature.

 

-

 

As the hours slipped by, Shiro was shared between Sendak and the two incubi. Sometimes he had two of them buried within him and the other would choke him with their cocks.

 

Other times, like when his shift became too much, he would lay watching the three. Hepta was the most submissive of the bunch, but certainly the most demanding. Shiro growled as he rolled over, scratching at his hair. It felt thicker, and he was wondering if he was hallucinating as the hair on his arm became darker. In his exhausted state, he ran his hand over it. It felt soft, just like fur.

 

They left him alone when his teeth were pushed out and replaced by new and much sharper ones. All of them were sharp now; teeth of a carnivore. He roared out in pain as his clawed fingers ripped at his flesh, his golden eyes watering as he dropped forward into the sheets.

 

It happened right in the middle of being spit-roasted between Haxus and Hepta when Shiro almost ripped off one of Haxus's cocks, much to his frustration. He collapsed in agony as his body went through another shift – to the point where it felt like his entire skeletal structure was changing. Bones felt like they were expanding and his muscles and tendons were trying to catch up. It felt like his spine was elongating and like it kept going, until he roared out in agony as a long black tail forced its way out. He cried in pain, biting into an offered pillow as the new appendage thrashed about behind him.

 

He laid passed out in the blood-stained sheets, more blood and come coating his thighs that in turn was almost fully covered in short black fur. Most of his stomach and over his chest was furless, like the inner thighs and under his forearms and palms. Sendak smoothed the thick mane of hair back, smirking as he toyed with the white strands that even in this form still remained. Some short fur sat either site of his cheeks and a little over his brow. Sendak ran his hand through the red streak at the top of his mane. It was just the wings left to go.

 

-

 

Keith awoke with a start. He pulled out the pendant that he kept Red's crystal attached to and pressed it to his forehead. “What's wrong?” Red let out a fearful rumble in his mind, and he tossed the covers away in haste as he grabbed his trousers, pulling them on as he ran to the door. Something was wrong with Black, which in turn meant something was wrong with Shiro. Keith's mind was ablaze with panic as every scenario known to man ran through his mind. Shiro must have been captured. The demons must be tearing him asunder. What if he was trapped, or a prisoner? What if, what if, what if?

 

Keith cried out in frustration as he entered the central hall, the great statues of the Lions 'guarding' the entrances to each of their rooms. He stopped and blinked as the others looked at him, all clutching their crystals tightly.

 

“Why're you here?”

“Blue told me something had happened to Black-”

“Yellow said the same!”

“And Green. She said to come here, check the statue-” Pidge's face turned white as she ran up to it, tracing her hand over a crack that was never there before. “Something is really wrong with Black. Guys, something is really wrong with Shiro-”

 

The cracking of stone made them all flinch and the group pulled back. Dark purple light seeped through the breaks and an unholy rumble like thunder rolled through them in waves. As suddenly as the cracking had started, it stopped again. The group looked between each other, hesitant.

 

The statue shattered before their very eyes.

 

The huge frame of a lion let out a roar that could shake the heavens. It snarled and glared down at them all in turn. It's attention fell to the mural of the White Lion, and a deadly snarl rumbled in its throat. Upon dagger-like wings none had ever seen, the lion flew into the air, it's ethereal form somehow shattering the round glass roof as it absconded.

 

Keith groaned as Hunk pulled him up. “We need to talk to Allura – we need to get to Shiro.” The others looked at him, nodding darkly as the dust settled around them. Black's statue had crumbled to dust. He knew something was off; he and Shiro had been fighting side-by-side for years now, and suddenly he is doing a recon mission alone? Even Allura had forbidden him from following. He dusted himself off and pushed a hand through his hair. He would slay every demon in the country for his lover, even Zarkon himself.

 

-

 

It was all a nightmare. Humans couldn't fly, he was imagining these wings. That was it – he was taking back control in this dreamscape. Stress, yes, that was it. He was terrified he would die before he could propose to Keith. He couldn't wait to wake up. He'd hold and kiss him, draw his warm body against his. The village he was moving towards was just a twisted version of his home – from that night.

 

He dove down and skimmed just above the treeline, eyes widening as they made out the shape of the village. It would be fine, not like it mattered since it was a dream. A rumble of laughter escaped through his lips as he broke through the canopy, branches striking against his fur. His padded feet struck the ground hard and he ran, the claws tearing up the soft mud beneath his feet. He was free from the hell of the demons; and soon he would wake to a sunlit world.

 

As he leapt over the bushes, his face dropped. Shiro backed up, claws gaining no purchase in the mud.

“N-No.”

 

What remained of the bodies impaled through the twisted earth was minimal. Cracked and mauled bone sat strewn around the spires. As he gazed back over the buildings, he found little remained except empty scorched husks. It shouldn't be like this, why couldn't this nightmare be over?

 

A cold wind picked up around him as the rain began to fall on a dull dawn. The sound of it whistling through burnt-out rib-cages was eerie.

 

On unsteady feet he rose and stumbled forward over the cracked cobblestone. His claws clacked against it as he surveyed the destruction.

 

How did they not know of this?

How was this kept from them?

 

Shiro lifted his head, rain soaking into his mane, as he felt a familiar presence. In the sky he caught a glint of purple light, and watched it twisted and turn as it came towards him.

 

The wind around him screamed as the lion came into view. It released a dangerous roar as it sprinted across the ground towards him.

 

Shiro dropped down to his knees and raised his arms as it pounced. He closed his eyes, hoping for the sweet release of death. Perhaps this would end the nightmare if he succumbed to the demon.

 

It entered through his stomach and he released a guttural roar. The skies darkened above him as the rain hammered down against his fur, soaking him to the skin.

 

Both wings spread wide as he lifted from the ground, drawing his body inwards as it processed the new energies and powers. Breathy snarls loosened from his open mouth. The wind churned and howled around him. Debris lifted and smashed about as it rose into the air. Diabazaal was complete, and Shiro was feeling his being merge with his own.

 

He twisted in the sky, surveying the forest before him. He could go back, destroy everything. They dared to subjugate him. They raped and humiliated him. Neither Shiro nor Diabazaal would stand for such disrespect.

 

Shiro raised his hand to the air and watched as a curved blade materialised within it. The thunder rolled above him, and he felt at peace. He was within his element now.

 

“So this is your form.”

Shiro tilted his head down, scowling at Zarkon.

“You cannot control me.”

“Are you sure?”

“We will not allow it!” Shiro dove, blade poised to pierce straight through Zarkon's chest. His eyes burned golden as his lips drew back.

 

His body halted in mid-air. Zarkon pushed the tip of the blade away and smirked up at him, stroking the side of his face. “I am pleased you were foolish enough to come alone.” He clicked his claws, and the ground beneath Shiro erupted into small spires that pierced through his hands and legs. He roared out in agony, the sword dropping and vanishing as Zarkon moved closer.

 

“Sendak was right to strike a deal with your parents.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You never knew? Of course not.” Zarkon tilted his chin up to meet his eyes. “They could not sire their own child, so they bargained with him for something that would work. You should thank us, for without our interference, you would not have been born.”

“At least he is where he belongs, my Lord, and much better than a human servant.” Shiro flinched at the hand that ran between his thighs, claws scratching along his taint.

“Yes, now he has more use then menial work.”

 

Shiro's head dropped and hung in place, defeated and shaken.

His parents paid in blood and death for him.

He was always supposed to be here.

His own kind had betrayed him to this fate that he never asked for. Did his parents always know? Did Allura know about Diabazaal and the others?

 

“Come. There is much work to be done.” Zarkon clicked his claws and the spires retracted. Sendak caught Shiro, smoothing his fingers over his cheek. “Abandon all hope, my little demon, because soon you will become a harbinger of destruction against those you sought to protect.”

 

He was dropped onto the stone beneath him, where he laid unmoving. Sendak grabbed him by the tail and pulled him over the wet ground.

 

The flight reflex within him stirred in a last-ditch effort. He thrashed his feet and fingers against the stone, trying to gain purchase. His claws cracked as he became more desperate. His tail hurt, everything hurt. He didn't want to be raped again.

 

He wanted to go home.

 

The roar he made was a desperate one – someone, please save me – it was supposed to say.

 

“No one will come for you.”

“You belong to us, Shiro,” Sendak tugged him hard over the mud, his claws dragging lines through filth that caked his fingers.

 

He sobbed as Zarkon forced his body to stop resisting, and he watched the husk of a village disappear through the thicket.

 

He was doomed to a life of servitude and abuse.

There was no hope.

No escape.

Forced to become something so heinous against his will, with no way to stop himself.

 

He was to commit sins and crimes against men.

Tear them to shreds and mutilate their bodies on the whims of a sadistic tyrant.

 

There was no hope. The Ancient's couldn't save him.

He could not wake up.

This was his reality.

A bleak hopelessness.

 

In resignation, Shiro's body went limp as Sendak teleported.

 

Shiro abandoned all hope.