Following the events of The Tower, the lives of our heroes take a turn for the dark...
|Jake stood motionless as he watched his friend seemingly freeze. Fear took a firm hold of him as he looked between Beth and Goth; his mind raced with questions and panic as he looked to Goth's glowing eyes. He wondered what she was doing and what she would do when she was finished. He feared for his own safety, but found himself more concerned with Beth in this moment. As much as he had changed since submitting to Goth he still possessed the heart of a hero, and he hated his inability to act in the face of his girlfriend. Worse than his inaction was his inability to speak, but this was one thing he could fight through. It took more effort than he was proud to admit, but he found his voice in the face of peril and asked, "Goth! What are you doing to her?!"
Goth looked to her Raven with a curious stare. She hadn't heard him speak in such a manner since the night of his submission. It was strange to hear, and stranger still was the thought she had of missing this tone. It was strong and confident, but she saw through his facade as he was but a shadow of his former self. She would permit and forgive his outburst this one time, but she made a note to address him after she was finished with Elizabeth. "I am merely giving her a lesson in humility, my love," she said offhandedly, "Elizabeth has sinned against both myself and the precious moral code you both used to carry, so I've decided to allow her to see her innermost thoughts and fears. What happens next is purely contingent on her own mind. Now be silent, my Raven, and watch as her punishment unfolds. Let us see just how strong our little Elizabeth is."
Jake didn't like the sound of that answer. It was a rather tame attack from the sounds of it, but he knew the ire that coursed through her and it had him worried. If she was willing to do this then she must have known something he didn't. It didn't surprise him given her abilities, but it did trouble him. He swallowed nervously as he felt himself paralyzed in her presence once again. Whatever was going on, he hoped his friend was able to overcome it.
Beth stood in total darkness and utter confusion. She tried to figure out what was going on; she had just been in the throne room with Jake and Goth, and now she was stranded alone in some strange darkscape. She furrowed her brow as she tried to piece together just what was going on and where the hell she was. This had to be some trick of Goth's and attempt to stop her, but what exactly was going on? A strange and foreboding fog seemed to appear out of nowhere and she felt herself become more agitated. Something wasn't right and she was growing more concerned with the world around her; where was Jake and was he okay? She needed to get out of this mess and find him, fast.
A figure appeared in the strange haze that had settled in around her, and she rushed towards it to see who it could be. As she approached she noticed some familiar features and an all too familiar scent in the air; a strong but lean body, long curly brown hair, and the unmistakable smell of fresh blood. It was Jake and he was hurt! She charged forward at an increased rate to check on her friend; if he was here then where was Goth? He finally came into view and she felt her stomach turn as her heart broke at the sight of him. Disheveled and matted locks of hair that held flecks of dried blood in them, and it looked as though his tattoos had been replaced with carvings! Blood pooled up and poured out from them, and his bare body seemed thinner as if he hadn't eaten in days, maybe even weeks. His back was to her and she could see bruises beneath the blood that covered it, and the many gashes from the whip of a mad woman. She placed a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to get his attention, "Jake!" she said with a voice filled with concern, "Oh my God, what happened to you?"
He jerked his shoulder away from her touch and weakly muttered, "God is she, God is she, beware the deceivers and nonbelievers, God is she," he repeated this in a hushed whisper that unnerved her.
She drew her hand back and suppressed the shakes that threatened to overtake her body. What had Goth done to him? How long had she been gone? Where was that evil bitch? These were just a few of the questions that ran through her mind as she regarded her friend with twisted pity. She pushed the feelings of guilt down and tried once again to break through to him, "Jake, it's me Beth, your friend remember? We have to get out of here, come on before she hurts you again."
She placed a hand back on his shoulder and he snapped at her like some kind of wild animal. His hand clamped down on her wrist and gave it a sharp twist that sent a shockwave of pain through her arm. He stood up and turned to her with eyes both empty and crazed and roared, "Beth! Beth the liar and deceiver! Beth the one who damned me and countless others!"
Her knee buckled as he continued to twist her wrist and she grit her teeth to fight back a wave of pain that slammed into her. Both physical and emotional pain ran through her at his words and his look. Did he really see her this way? She placed a hand atop his and tried one final time to reason with him, "Jake, please listen to me! I'm your friend and I just want to help you, please stop!"
He didn't listen and his hands snapped from her wrist to her throat. She felt herself giving way as he applied pressure to her windpipe, and her eyes went wide with a primal fear as he screamed, "No more promises, no more lies, only the word and will of the Goddess!"
Instinct kicked in and in a state of terror she ripped his hands from her throat and delivered a hard kick to his still bleeding chest. She watched in shock and worry as he fell to the ground in a crumpled heap, "Jake!" she called out fearing that she'd hurt him worse.
The sound of quiet sobs graced her ears and she heard him say, "You promised me you'd keep me safe…"
Her heart broke and she closed her eyes to find something to say, but when she opened them he was gone. She looked around for him and called out, "Jake! I'm sorry…"
A familiar and cold voice called out from behind her, "Indeed you are, Kitten."
Her eyes widened at the sound of Pamela's voice and she spun on her heel ready to attack. There before her stood the tall platinum blonde she had killed only a few nights ago; she circled her with calculating eyes, but made no move to attack. "You," Beth said as confusion set in with a creeping fear, "You're...I-"
"Killed me?" Pamela asked as she approached her, "That you did, and yet here I stand before you. Such a beautiful and painful night that was for you, wasn't it? Staring into the eyes of a woman defenseless and begging for mercy, how did it feel? What went through your mind as you slit my delicate throat?"
Beth shut her eyes in hopes of making her disappear, but the sound of her heels clacking on the ground told her it wasn't happening. Her mind found its way back to that night, the night she had questioned her own actions. The look in those eyes had been trying to tell her something, but she figured she would never know. She reminded herself that she acted out of a sense of justice and that she had done it because she deserved it. "It doesn't matter," she said through gritted teeth.
"Oh but it does," Pamela said as she took a step towards her, "You lie to yourself and those around you. You tell yourself that this is a just cause, but deep down you know you're nothing more than a killer. You are no different than the ones you've put down, and in your wake you leave a trail of destruction and death. You pretend to be so sure of yourself, but you question every move you make and wonder just how far you're willing to go. The worst part is that you continue to deny that you enjoy it. The feeling of killing excites you and that terrifies you."
Beth shook her head as she spoke. She was wrong, wasn't she? She told herself that these were lies, but stopped as she realized she was doing just what the woman before her had just said. She felt some small part of her begin to crack at her words and she growled in frustration, "Shut up."
"Why do you deny it?" Pamela asked as she closed the distance, "You're nothing more than a killer with a cause. Countless murderers believed they were just and that their actions benefited the world around them. What makes you different? A friend who you failed or maybe it's the sense of justice you hide behind. You are both a murderer and a failure wrapped into one pathetic girl who hides behind a tough exterior, deep down you are weak and you know it!"
She felt a sudden and sharp pain rake across her back as Pamela raked a set of grotesque claws down her back. She winced and stepped forward to avoid the pain. "That's not true!" she screamed, "I am not a failure!"
"Tell that to me and Jake," a familiar voice called from close by.
Her eyes widened as she recognized the sound of her newfound friend, "A-Alexis?"
"The one and only," her friend called out with a disapproving glare, "I gave my life for you to save Jake, and you failed him. Because of you, he's broken beyond repair. I shouldn't have wasted my time with you, you're nothing but the same weak girl hiding behind a mask."
Her words cut her like a knife and she felt her heart break. She tried to tell herself that this wasn't real, but a sudden pain in her jaw told her otherwise. She was sent flying and skidded to a halt on her back as she looked up in time to see Alexis lower her foot. Looking up at her now, she got a glimpse of her former friend. Dried blood caked her lips and dotted her face, and her limbs seemed distorted as she moved in a strange and disfigured manner. What had happened to her? Why hadn't she gone back for her when she had the chance? "Exactly," Pamela's voice cut through her thoughts, "Why didn't you go back for her? It's because you'd rather serve yourself than others. To be such a disgraceful failure is one thing, but to be a selfish one is deplorable."
"No!" Beth yelled, "I didn't go back because she wanted me to save Jake!"
"And you couldn't even do that!" Alexis roared, "Just like everyone else, you let him down and cost him everything!"
Beth felt tears welling up in her eyes as the verbal abuse continued to rain down on her. She would rather have suffered a beating from the women than this insanity. She was losing herself to their words and accusations, and what was worse was she was starting to believe them. She felt a pain in her ribs as Pamela delivered a rough kick to her chest. She coughed as she rolled from the force of the kick. "Save your tears for people who care," she said coldly, "Oh, that's right you don't have anyone that cares anymore. You've driven everyone away and the ones you haven't, you've cost them everything."
This wasn't real, this couldn't be real. She kept telling herself there was no way this could be happening, but the thoughts and feelings were all too real. The pain in her chest from the kick and the heartache was too much to deny. "Shut up!" she screamed in an attempt to dispell them.
"They're not wrong," a voice she hadn't heard in a long time said, "Because of your failures and your delays I'm broken beyond repair."
She looked up with pained eyes to see the mangled body of Dart walking over to her. She felt sick as she watched blood pool up and spill out of her mouth as she spoke. "Dart!" she exclaimed, "I'm sorry."
It was all she could say and all she felt in this moment. Her old friend knelt down beside her and as she spoke blood dripped down and onto the ground around her, "I know you are," she said as she produced one of her missing pistols, "You can make it all up and make it all go away with this, though, you'd be doing us all a favor and yourself one for that matter."
Beth stared at the gun as it became soaked in her friend's blood. She slowly reached for the pistol and took hold of it. The familiar weight of it confirmed for her that this was real and not some trick. She looked between the three women trying to discern some indicator of what to do. Pamela spoke up first, "Go ahead and serve yourself one final time."
"Don't keep us in suspense, do something right for once and end this bullshit," Alexis said.
She looked to Dart who gave a slow and bloody nod. She looked down to the gleaming pistol that rested in her hands and clenched the grip tight. Her finger found its way to the trigger and she slowly brought it up. She owed this to them; Jake, Alexis, Dart, and even Pamela this would make things right. She closed her eyes as she pressed the barrel to her head and prepared to pull the trigger.
Jake watched his friend with a fear unlike anything he'd experienced in his life. Beth had been frozen in place for a while now, but he noticed the occasional twitch and a bit of blood began to spill out from her lips. He wanted to help her, more than that he needed to, but he couldn't bring himself to act. Goth had instilled a primal sense of obedience and terror within him that seemed to be insurmountable. His mind and heart screamed at him to move, to fight, to do something, anything to help his friend, but his body refused to listen. He was caught in the grips of crippling fear that refused to let him go, and despite the burning desire he felt he couldn't do anything more than remain still and silent.
It wasn't until he saw her arm begin to move that he felt a new compulsion. At first he thought that she was breaking free, but that thought was quickly crushed as he watched her bring her gun closer to her head. Time seemed to slow down in an instant as he realized what was happening; whatever Goth was doing was causing her to act on some unseen and dark impulses, and in that moment he found his will once again. "Goth stop!" he cried out in an attempt to spare his friend's life.
Goth gave a wicked and sadistic smile as she said, "I cannot stop this, Jake, this is all Elizabeth. All I've done is give her a chance to confront her fears and weaknesses; it's not my fault that this is her answer, but I'd be lying if I said I was surprised."
He couldn't watch this, there was no way he could let this happen. He had to do something, and there was only one thing he could think of. For the first time in a long time he felt his body, heart, and mind align and move as one as he took off towards his friend. "Beth!" he cried out in an attempt to reach her, "Beth, stop it's me, Jake! Your friend, please!"
"Jake what do you think you're doing?!" Goth shrieked, "Let this happen and things can go back to how they were, how they are supposed to be. We can be together, but if you take another step you'll regret it. Do not do this!"
Jake heard the words of warning and even noticed the slight plea in her voice, but he couldn't let someone he cared about die, not when he could do something about it. Win or lose, the life of a friend was more important than his own well being in the end. Damn the consequences of his actions, if he could save Beth he had to try. He continued to call out to her as he came to stand beside her and placed a hand on the hand holding the gun, "Beth, if you're in there please stop. Fight it, you can beat this, you're stronger than this! Please, Beth, fight it."
Beth felt a sudden weight on her arm pulling it away from her head. She furrowed her brow at the unseen force that suddenly took hold of her, and was shocked to hear the familiar sound of her friend's voice calling out to her. It was distant and more than a bit garbled, but she would know that voice anywhere. It wasn't the same as before, though, this one sounded like her real friend, the one she was with not long ago. She looked around to the faces of the women that surrounded her, and tried to make sense of just what was going on. "Jake?" she asked quietly.
"Jake is gone," Pamela said, "All that is left is the broken bird that you created. See for yourself."
She gave a slight wave of her hand and the broken and battered vision of her friend from before appeared once again. His hollow eyes and bloody body could be seen as he sat, rocking back and forth on the ground. He continued to mutter incoherently, oblivious to the world around him. Her heart gave way once again at the sight of what she had done. Her failure had brought this on him, and her thoughts once again returned to the gun in her hand. One quick and simple motion would end this and serve as her attunement for what she had done, but the weight on her arm remained and she swore she could still hear the distant cries of her friend. The lines between this reality and another began to blur as a new conflict rose up within her; she couldn't tell what was real and what was fake, but something didn't feel right. As she tried to piece together some semblance of truth in what was a distorted moment, her mind began to suffer a slight schism as it fought with itself.
She closed her eyes and tried to ward off the pain that began to surge through her head. "What the hell are you waiting for?!" Alexis demanded, "You see what you've done and what you'll continue to do, why keep going just to hurt somebody else? It's better for everyone if you just pull that little trigger."
Her breath began to shudder as she listened to her friend. Was she right? Was this all that she was capable of? Death, destruction, and suffering were these the only things she had left to offer? "Beth!" she heard a voice call out, "Beth, please you promised me you'd protect me! You can't do this, you're stronger than this! Please, Beth, fight it."
That was Jake, the real Jake, and he was calling out to her! Where was he? Where was she? She slowly began to lower the gun from her head back to her side. This wasn't real, was it? She tried to rationalize it, but what if this was real and she was hearing things? Was she going crazy or had she already gone crazy? She couldn't tell and it was driving her mad!
The voice of Dart caught her attention between sickening gargles, "This is the only way. Do what needs to be done."
The weight on her arm was gone now that it was back at her side, and she once more looked to the distorted faces of the people around her. This couldn't be happening; Dart was comatose and both Alexis and Pamela were already dead. She prayed she was right as she lifted her gun and took aim at her old friend, "No," she said defiantly, "There is always another way, and I'm not taking the easy way out," she fired a shot into the chest of her friend and watched as she dissipated into a cloud of smoke. She turned to Alexis next, "I haven't failed you, not yet, and I'm not going to!" she fired another round into the chest of her mangled friend before turning to Pamela.
"Go ahead," the blonde said coldly, "Take another life and continue down this path of ruin. It'll only be a matter of time before this becomes a reality."
"Not if I can help it!" Beth yelled as she fired into her chest. She watched as she faded away, but she remained trapped in this strange place. She turned to the shattered version of her friend, and felt her heart sink as she realized what she would have to do. If this were to truly end, she would have to erase this Jake as well. She told herself over and over again that this wasn't real, but it didn't stop the pain she felt as she placed the gun to his head, "I'm going to keep my promise this time, Jake. Rest now and maybe in time you can forgive me."
She closed her eyes as the sound of the final gunshot rang out and echoed around her. A tear fell down her face as she opened them to see his now lifeless body fall to the ground before disappearing into a cloud of smoke. The world around her began to shake, and she found herself suddenly falling into a dark void below. If this was some kind of illusion she would be back with Jake soon, and if not then this would be her end. Either way, she could rest easy knowing she did what she felt was right. The sensation of falling was brought to a sudden stop as she found herself lying face down on a cold stone floor in a daze.
Jake watched as his friend suddenly collapsed to the ground. He knelt down beside her and checked her pulse. He breathed a sigh of relief when he felt one, and he leaned down to check on her, "Beth?"
She opened her eyes and looked around to see the source of the voice, and felt a wave of relief hit her to see her friend unharmed. She pushed herself up and threw her arms around him, "Jake! You're alive I thought...I thought I'd lost you."
He was surprised by her sudden hug, but he smiled and wrapped his arms around her. "No, not yet anyways," he said.
"Get your hands off of my beloved," Goth screamed at the two of them.
Beth broke their embrace and turned to glare at Goth as she stood. She pushed her friend back behind her and said, "He's not yours."
Goth scoffed and fired back, "And I suppose you think he's yours then?"
"He's not anyone's," Beth said defiantly and spared him a glance, "He belongs to himself and no one else."
She raised her guns to prepare for an attack, but Goth gave a simple wave of her hand that gave her pause. Strange symbols began to form in the air around her, and they were quickly multiplying. Beth switched from an offensive stance to a defensive one, but kept her place in front of Jake. She'd been on the receiving end of Goth's magic more than once, and while she didn't want to experience it herself, she had to make sure Jake didn't take the brunt of it. If it meant enduring some pain then so be it. She braced as the symbols suddenly rushed towards them, but an impact never came. She watched as the symbols instead placed themselves on the ground around them and embedded themselves on a couple of statues in the hall. She eyed them warily and prepared to grab Jake and dive in anticipation of the oncoming attack.
"You need to learn your place, Elizabeth," Goth said she returned to her seat, "Everything and everyone in this world belongs to me. My Raven was well aware of this fact until you came along, but I think you both could use a refresher in why I am considered a Goddess. Before this is over you will kneel before your Goddess, you both will."
Beth was about to speak when the ground beneath her and Jake began to shake. She looked to the symbols surrounding them and watched as they began to glow a brilliant red before skeletal hands began to rise from them. The hands seemed to pull up and with them came the form of a skeleton warrior with rotting bones and maggots dripping from its body. She looked around them and noticed that several more were quickly rising to surround them, but what really had her worried was the crumbling sound close by. She looked to the statue of a stone gargoyle broke free from the cement surrounding it. Her eyes went wide as not one but two massive beasts shattered the stone that surrounded them, and she grit her teeth in preparation for the oncoming assault. If Goth wanted to play rough then she would do just that. "Jake, stay behind me!" she ordered and noticed weapons appearing in the skeletons hands.
"No way," he said as he prepared to fight, "We're in this together, and I'm not risking losing you again."
She looked at her friend and despite his femine attire she felt glad to see his old self come out. They stood back to back as the creatures began moving in on them. It was like old times and she felt ready to take on the monstrosities that were approaching. The skeletons were closest and one of them swung a large sword at her, but she side stepped it before planting her boot on the blunt side of the blade and moving to snap its arm. A resounding crack rang out as she easily removed the arm from its owner, and she quickly followed it up with a shot to its head. The bullet pierced through the skull and splattered her with the disgusting insects writhing within. She watched as its form fell to the ground and prepared for the next attack.
A piece of the stone slid to Jake's feet, and he looked down to see it was a long and thin piece. It wasn't his staff, but it would do in this situation. He kicked it up and snapped his hands around it; the weight was more than what he was used to, but he could make it work. He poised it behind him with his free hand extended to pick his mark, and he widened his stance in preparation for a counterattack. Two skeletons shambled forward and he spotted an opening between the two as they prepared to attack. He charged forward and began spinning the impromptu staff in a twisting arc that he used to deflect their blades; he brought himself to a stop and swept their legs out from under them. The weight of the bar he held proved to be too much for the brittle bones of the skeletons, and they snapped off before flying across the room. As their bodies fell, he swung the bar in an arc that slammed into their bodies and shattered them. He brought the staff down to the ground and looked for his next opening.
Beth was currently dealing with a set of skeletons when one of the gargoyles burst through the boney weaklings to attack her. She launched into a back handspring to dodge its massive claws, and when she landed she trained her guns on the rampaging creature. She opened fire on it, but it did little to phase the monster before her. "Shit," she cursed as she took off in a sprint. She slid under one of the skeleton's legs and let the beast behind her obliterate it. She dropped one of the grenades she had snagged from the pawnshop and led the beast to it. She hoped it would be enough to at least stun the damned thing, and as it crossed over the grenade it exploded with a loud boom. The smoke cleared and it was left standing in a daze, "You've got to be fucking kidding me! Alright you big bastard, let's dance!"
Jake had finished dealing with another skeletal warrior when the explosion caught his attention. He looked over to see one of the gargoyles standing in an angry daze and Beth cussing at it. He raced off to help his friend, and used the bar to vault himself over the beast. It took every ounce of strength he had to carry the stone staff with him as he rocketed through the air, but he managed to do it and land on the thing's back. He brought the bar up around its thick neck in an attempt to both choke it and hold it in place. He wasn't sure if it would work or not, but he had to do something to help her. "Beth, aim for its eyes!" he yelled as it began to try to remove him, "Hurry I don't know how long I can hold this thing!"
Beth nodded and aimed for the beast's eyes. She opened fire and emptied her clip into it. The dull click of her guns frustrated her, but she watched as the monster fell to the ground with a loud thud. Jake rolled off of its back, and unfortunately for him his skirt blew up. Beth blushed and looked away as she reloaded her guns, "You're not wearing underwear?!"
Jake looked down to see his exposed junk and blushed furiously as he threw the garment back down. "Goth prefers me to go commando!" he defended, "Don't make this into a thing, please, this isn't the time."
Beth pulled her grappling gun from her belt and tossed it to him, "Oh this is definitely going to be a thing later," she said, "You still know how to use that?"
"I'm assuming you're talking about the grappling gun," he said as he placed it in the hem of his skirt, "Yeah, and I think I know what you're planning."
"What the hell did you think I was talking about?!" she asked incredulously.
"My-" he stopped himself as the other monster closed in on them, "Nevermind."
He split off to the side and left Beth to distract the creature. Years of working together had the two on a near telepathic link of sorts, but Beth called out after him as she realized what he meant, "Ugh you fucking pervert! You have spent way too much time with Goth!"
Jake laughed as he raced off to prepare for his move. It felt good to laugh again and even better to be back in action alongside his friend. He'd forgotten what it was like to fight against evil in his quest to serve Goth, and he held tight to the feeling as he stopped his charge a good distance from Beth and the gargoyle. There was still a small part of him that felt like this wasn't right, but he reminded himself of the horrors he'd endured in his stay here. Goth had him convinced that he served a higher purpose, but her cause was little more than a twisted grab for power. He couldn't let this go on, not when Beth had risked everything to save him. He waited until the beast was close to Beth before he fired the grappling gun across the room; the cable sliced through the air and found its mark in the opposing wall. He waited for the moment the creature crossed it to flip the switch and dislodge it from the wall. It zipped back towards him, but found itself wrapped wrapping around the legs of the creature. He summoned all of his strength and gave a fierce tug on the gun and the cable. The creature roared as it fell to the ground, and he watched as Beth rushed forward to pounce on its back. The sound of several gunshots filled the room as she finished off the last of the summoned enemies.
Goth watched the display with some degree of enthusiasm. She couldn't deny that the two of them worked well together, but they were here to oppose her. Worse yet, Elizabeth had somehow managed to undo all of her work with Jake; she would see her pay for this before the night was through. She would have to make sure to teach Jake the true cost of disobeying her will after she dealt with Elizabeth. She stood from her throne and gave the duo a small round of applause. She had given them one final moment together because she was merciful, but now that moment was done and they needed to be taught a lesson. "I'm almost impressed," she said as she descended the stairs leading to the floor, "It is a shame that the two of you chose the wrong side in all of this, but I suppose that is what happens when someone believes they are stronger than a Goddess. Playtime is over, Elizabeth, and I'm afraid it's time for my Raven to return to me. Just remember, the two of you made me do this."
Beth turned to face her as she slowly walked down the stairs. She turned to Jake to make sure he was okay; his face looked ready, but his body said otherwise. She could tell that he was nervous for what was about to come, and she wanted to assure him that everything would be okay. She didn't have a moment to spare, however, and she readied herself for the final battle that lay before them. This was it, the moment she had been working towards all those nights ago; this was her chance to finally put an end to Goth and her reign of terror. "I'm going to enjoy making you suffer," Beth said as she dropped to a crouch.
Goth laughed at her words as she looked between the two of them, "I must say, what you lack in skill you make up for in enthusiasm. Go ahead, I'll let you have the first attack."
Beth glared at her and looked to Jake across the room. He gave her a nod to let her know that he was with her, and she moved in for her first attack. She holstered her guns and charged forward with a hand on her utility belt; she pulled a flashbang from it and tossed it down at Goth's feet. She would need every ounce of opportunity she could get against her, and she slowed her pace to wait for the grenade to go off. She drew a set of her knives in preparation for the attack. She watched as Goth grinned and clenched her fist and gave a flick of her wrist. The flashbang became enveloped in a vibrant purple glow before being hurtled back at Beth. Her eyes widened and she leapt into a kick that knocked the grenade away, and in a matter of seconds it exploded not far away. The explosion didn't completely stun her, but it did dampen her peripheral vision and her hearing for a second. That was all the time it took for Goth to come upon her with unbridled fury. She felt a vicious and precise strike connect with her jaw that sent her into the air, and before she could get far Goth took hold of her head and brought her face first into her knee. The impact was sudden and sharp, and she felt herself get knocked back off of her feet from the recoil. Goth's size added to her strength, but she was clearly a more disciplined fighter than Aurora.
She would have to be careful not to use any of the equipment she had brought with her; Goth could turn any of her tools against her, so she would have to stick to close quarters and her knives. She was on her feet in an instant, but Goth was fast approaching with her long and powerful strides. She noted the distinct rotten smell that filled her nose from the previous attack, and made a mental note that Goth's unwashed scent may have a distracting effect on her. She sidestepped an age kick that cracked the stone floor, and swung one of her knives upward in an attempt to slice her calf. The blade hit its mark, but it didn't seem to do much aside from draw a bit of blood before Goth pivoted into a side kick that knocked her off balance. She stumbled backwards, but was able to counter the incoming punch aimed at her chest and parry it with her blades. Rather than try to stop the momentum of the blow, she attempted to redirect it and get behind her. It worked well enough and she went in to drive one of her knives into the back of the wouldbe Goddess. The sharp edge of the blade found itself embedded into her flesh, but she barely flinched as she retaliated with a spinning back elbow. The blow connected with Beth's head and sent her back to the floor with a groan.
Goth stood over here with a look of contempt as she reached behind her and pulled the knife from her back. "Is this all you have to offer? I expected more from the Feral, but I suppose you can't believe everything you hear," she said as she flung the blade with a simple flick of her wrist, "Really, Elizabeth, if this is your best then you're wasting your time and mine."
Her knife found itself wedged between the stone floor between her legs, and she growled as she pulled it out. She got back on her feet as a Goth suddenly fell to one knee; Jake had come from seemingly nowhere to deliver a painful strike with his staff to the back of her knee. Goth snarled at the sudden impact, but was too distracted to notice Beth rushing towards her opening. Beth jumped onto Goth's knee before launching into a spinning kick to the side of her head. Her boot connected with her head and sent the Goddess one step closer to the ground; she had managed to catch herself with her hands before falling completely to the ground, but Beth wasn't finished yet. She pounced on her and drove her knives into her shoulders before Goth lurched and threw her off of her. She growled as she got to her feet, and she turned her focus to the duo that circled her.
These two were trouble when put together, but nothing she couldn't handle on her own. She had an ace up her sleeve when it came to Jake, and if he was down she could focus on Elizabeth. The sting of the blades in her back sent a wave of irritation coursing through her. Who did they think they were to dare cause her pain? She would make them pay for their transgressions one way or another, but still she resolved to keep her tricks hidden for now. Her eyes darted between the two just waiting for any sudden movement from them, and she found it when they each rushed her in unison. They were going to try to catch her off guard with a tandem attack; a smart move if it weren't for the fact that she'd lived for centuries and studied various martial arts with her magic. Jake went in high for a leaping axe kick, while Elizabeth took a lower approach with a simple leg sweep. It was simple enough for her to deflect Jake's attack and evade Elizabeth's, but before she could counter she felt a knee strike her in the chest followed quickly by a kick to the back. The little shits had planned on her defense and used it to their advantage! The kick to the back had her stumbling forward, and she felt a quick succession of strikes delivered to both her front and back.
This was growing irksome and tiresome fast. She had hoped to be able to simply outdo them in martial combat, but it seemed the old saying was true: two could fend off an attack better than one. She decided it was high time to enact her ability to stop her beloved Jake. Her eyes flashed a brilliant purple, and her hands began to glow the same shade as she activated the runes that littered his body. She was happy he was oblivious to the true purpose of his tattoos, and she would deal with him after Elizabeth. He was charging her when she activated the runes, and he cried out in pain as they began to activate. He fell to his knees in pain, and she walked to him before delivering a strong kick to his jaw that sent him skidding across the floor. With him incapacitated, she turned her focus back to Elizabeth. This was long overdue and she was going to enjoy every second of it.
Beth heard the screams from her friend, and paused her attack to check on him. She watched as he fell to his knees and Goth knocked him across the hall with a single kick; she felt a bit of panic set in as she watched him skid and then writhe in pain. She looked to Goth who stood with her arms crossed and an evil smirk on her face, "What did you do to him?!" she demanded, "This is between you and me, leave him out of this!"
"It was between you and I, but you managed to delude his pretty little head and now it's a battle between all of us," Goth said, "The two of you have grown bothersome, and I will not lose to the likes of you. If the sight of him like this bothers you so much then do something about it."
She looked from Goth to Jake and felt her blood begin to boil as she said, "You heartless bitch!"
"Heartless? Hardly, were I truly heartless I would put an end to him, but instead I've merely rendered him useless so we can finish this. Go ahead, let's see just what you can do all alone; I can feel the hate rolling off of you, now let's see if you can use it."
Beth screamed as she rushed forward in a frenzy. She'd watched Goth beat and belittle her friend for too long, and she couldn't take it for another second. She threw a straight punch, but Goth easily caught it and twisted her wrist before issuing a swift kick to her face. She was staggered, but she didn't fall and quickly recovered to try again. She flew into a furious combination of punches that Goth deflected with ease; she grew frustrated and threw herself up for a surprise dropkick. It connected and staggered the amazon sorceress, and she caught herself on the way down before pushing herself back to her feet. She didn't waste a second as she rushed forward once again and sprung into a high slip over her opponent. On the descent she took hold of the knives in her shoulders and dragged them downwards; Goth cried out as the blades sliced down and exposed her bare back. She charged again, but this time she went into a slide between Goth's legs to try to slice her ankles. She hit her target, but it didn't seem to have much effect outside of causing her to stagger and snarl at her.
She moved in for an attempt to capitalize and drive her blades into her chest, but she felt a soft yet strong grip latch onto her throat. She was lifted into the air with one hand as Goth began using her free hand to pummel her. Hard and fast punches began to bombard her face as she was held in the air. The blows hurt and she felt herself losing consciousness between the strikes and the lack of air, but she wasn't through yet. She swung her legs back before pushing them forward with as much force as she could muster, and her boots collided with Goth's jaw. She was suddenly dropped to the ground with a thud as Goth stumbled backwards. She panted as her airflow began to return, but she grinned as she saw blood begin to dribble down Goth's lips. Her makeup was smeared and she wiped a hand across her lip before looking at it, "That hurt you insignificant little bitch," Goth growled.
"Good," Beth said as she got to her feet, "It's about time you learned what pain feels like."
Goth felt a new wave of rage well up in her as the pain she felt mixed with the sudden burst of confidence from Elizabeth. She had intended to simply beat her into submission, but as much as she hated to admit it the girl was more formidable than she had thought. She felt a slight bit of begrudging respect for her at her skill, but she would never admit it out loud. It did give her an idea, though, but first she needed to show her the true difference in their powers. "It seems your ego is a bit too big," she said as her eyes began to glow, "What do you say we cut you down to size and show you your true place?"
Beth narrowed her eyes at her, but they quickly widened as waves of fire began to course through her body. She felt like her insides were burning up, and she shut her eyes as the pain continued to grow inside of her. She couldn't hold back the scream that billowed from her lips as the pain proved to be too much for her. Then, just as quickly as it started it ended. She opened her eyes to see just what had happened, but she wasn't prepared for the sight before her. She was eye level with Goth's boot, and for the first time since she came back to reality she felt terror well up inside of her. Goth looked to the size of one of Metropolis' skyscrapers and she was coming for her. She couldn't stop herself from running as the fear set in, but it was no use as she felt herself get swept up in the ironclad grip of the woman who'd wrought so much pain and suffering in her life. The world around her spun and she felt sick as she was brought to the face of her tormentor.
The wicked and sadistic smile mixed with the foul air that surrounded her had Beth suppressing shivers of fear as she looked into the eyes of Goth. Cruel and vindictive amethyst eyes stared down at her as she tried to find the will to speak. She wanted to fight, but at this size what could she really do except wait in terror for the horrors that Goth would dream up. She felt herself suddenly being launched into the air before free falling, and new waves of panic set in as she looked down. She landed in the awaiting palm of her captor before the process repeated as she thought out loud, "Hmm what to do with such a rambunctious and disobedient little toy? The possibilities are endless really, and I do so struggle with these decisions. I could simply drop you to your death, crush you under my boot or any other part of my glorious body for that matter, I could rip those little limbs of yours off, or I could simply eat you. That last one does sound tempting, I haven't eaten in a bit now and am growing quite hungry. Would you like that, Elizabeth, spending your last moment trapped between my jaws? Speak worm!"
Beth couldn't fight the tremors that overtook her as she watched Goth speak. Her breath alone was enough to disorient her, but the idea of being trapped in there before being crushed by her teeth was something she found utterly terrifying. She didn't want to give in to the fear or even answer the demands of this mad woman, but she was in a position that left her with little other options. Fearing what would happen if she remained silent, she began speaking in a trembling voice, "I-I don't want to be eaten," her voice didn't even sound like her own when she heard it, "P-please d-don't e-eat m-m-me."
Goth threw her head back and laughed as she clutched Beth tightly in her fist. Her voice was already like thunder to her ears, but her cackle was both unnerving and deafening as it billowed out of her mouth. She felt her breathing become difficult as Goth tightened her grip on her. She smiled down at her as she brought her other hand and wrapped it around her miniscule body, "Did you listen when my sister or my disciple begged for mercy?!" she said as she began to squeeze tighter on Beth's body, "Did you show mercy to either of them or my friend?! No, no you didn't. Instead, you tortured them before cutting their previous lives short!"
Beth was finding it more and more difficult to breath as her circulation was continually cut off by Goth's merciless hands squeezing her. She managed a single plea that went against everything she currently stood for, "I'm sorry!"
Goth gave another squeeze and she felt like her ribs were going to snap, "Sorry?! Yes you are indeed that, but that doesn't bring any of them back!" she exclaimed before composing herself and loosening her grip, "Fortunately for you, Elizabeth, I am a Goddess who is compassionate and merciful. You acted out of a selfish belief that you were above my laws, though, and turned my beloved against me. For that you must be punished, just as he must be, but don't worry I'm not going to kill you. No, you're far more useful to me alive, but I will show you why I am a Goddess and then you will watch as I discipline my beloved. You've no one to blame but yourself for this; you did this to yourself and to him."
Beth tried to find the words to speak, but she was encased in the grip of fear and Goth in this moment. She watched as Goth removed one of her hands and took her arm between her fingers. She panicked and tried to pull it free, but all of her strength and determination did nothing as Goth began applying pressure. She cried out as she felt her arm being crushed by the simple action before a disgusting crack rang out followed by her pained scream. Her arm fell limp outside of Goth's fist, and it flooded her senses with pain. With a simple twist of two fingers Goth had managed to break her arm, and terror didn't even begin to describe what she felt for what was to come. Goth slammed her hand around the one holding her and began to squeeze harder than before; the pressure was immense and unbearable as she squirmed in her grip. She screamed, "Please stop!"
Goth laughed a cruel and evil laugh as she ignored her pleas and continued to apply pressure. Beth wasn't sure how much of this she could take, and it felt like any second her head might pop off due to the force being applied. "You brought this on yourself, Elizabeth," Goth said as a final and horrific snap was heard by both women.
Beth let out a cry of anguish as she felt the sudden snap in her lower back, and she couldn't stop the tears that formed in her eyes from the pain. She was tossed away like a used toy of sorts before the burning sensation returned. Just as before the pain came on quickly, but unlike before it seemed to only affect the upper part of her body. She landed with a thud back at her normal height beside Jake. She tried to get to her feet, but to her horror her legs refused to work. It was as she had feared, Goth had broken her back and left her paralyzed from the waist down. She forced herself to crawl to her friend who seemed to still be fighting off whatever spell she had cast, "Jake!" she cried out with a strained voice, "Run, I can keep her distracted for you. Please you've-Ahh!"
The feeling of Goth's heel piercing through her hand cut her off as she howled in pain. She ripped her boot from her palm and gave her a rough kick to roll her over, and Beth noticed a metal circle dangling from her hand with a strange purple gem in it. She felt herself being lifted into the air as Goth smiled and began speaking, "Do you know why I love my slave collars so much, Elizabeth? It's because they allow me to control every move of my slaves; I'm going to collar you and make you my puppet! Aren't I such a merciful Goddess?!"
Beth tried to thrash in her grip, but without the use of her legs she could do little more than claw at her arm. Her efforts did nothing to prevent Goth from slapping the collar around her neck, and she watched her eyes begin to glow that familiar and terrifying shade of purple. She released a blood curdling scream as she felt something begin to burrow into the back of her neck. It felt like some sort of parasite was boring its way through her skin and worming its way down her spine. The sensation was both excruciatingly painful and horrific as she felt what could only be described as liquid metal begin to shoot down her spine and spread throughout her body. She was dropped to the ground and began convulsing as the pain somehow increased; it felt like an eternity as the strange substance solidified and fused to her innards. She grit her teeth and tried to look up, but found herself immobilized as the pain began to subside. "What...what did you do to me?!" she demanded as she panted at Goth's feet.
Goth smiled down at her, "I gave you the gift of servitude, now stand," she said and Beth felt her body begin to move on its own at Goth's command, "Good girl, now kneel before me."
Beth fought with everything she had to stop herself from doing as she was told, but no matter how hard she tried she couldn't control her movements. She knelt before Goth and said, "Damn you!"
"Such disrespectful language from a slave," Goth chided as she began to walk away and over to Jake, "Stand and watch as I show you the true consequences of your actions. It is as I told you in the beginning: you did this to him."
Beth was forced to watch as Goth brought her boot down on Jake's back. He fell onto his stomach before she took her foot off of him and delivered a hard kick to his ribs. He cried out as he rolled away involuntarily from the blow, but Goth quickly reached down and snatched him up. She held him by the collar of his top, and she grinned at Beth before she began throwing punch after punch to his face. Beth wanted to turn away, to close her eyes, but due to the collar she was forced to watch as her friend was beaten mercilessly. Goth pulled her fist back and fired a sudden surprise punch to his groin which earned a pained howl from him. She dropped him, suddenly, and as he fell she delivered a forceful uppercut followed by reaching out and snatching him back. She spun around and slammed him into the stone floor with a thunderous boom.
She kept her grip on him and dragged him back up. She tossed him up before taking a firm hold of his hair and dragging him down to her knee. He was sent flying backwards, but she wasn't finished with him yet. She slowly walked over to him and began stomping on his chest. Beth watched in horror as her heels punctured various areas of his chest as the symphony of his screams echoed throughout the hall. Goth began moving her stomps from his chest to other parts of his body; his arms, hands, legs, knees, and stomach all received painful stab wounds from her heels. "Stop!" Beth cried out, "He's suffered enough!"
Goth delivered a final stomp as she stepped on and over Jake. He sobbed and rolled in agony as she walked to Beth. She bent down and held out her hand, "Take out your knife," she instructed and Beth couldn't stop herself from producing a large shining blade. She watched as Goth slowly walked back to Jake's pulverized body before she turned back to her, "If you want me to stop, then I want you to beg. My collars allow me to control the actions of the wearer, but not their speech. So, we're going to make this interesting; you can either beg me for his life or I'll make you kill the very person you came to save. Come here."
Beth swallowed as her legs began to move of their own accord at Goth's behest. Her breathing intensified as she approached the pair. She knew Goth wasn't bluffing, and if she truly wanted to save her friend she would have to do as she was told. She hated having to do what Goth wanted and more so begging, but if it would save Jake she would do it. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes to block out the image of Jake bleeding on the floor at her feet. "G-goddess," she began as she swallowed what little pride she had left, "P-please Goddess, spare him. Please spare Jake and spare me from having to...to...to kill him. Can you find it in your merciful heart to grant...to grant a...a slave this request?"
She hated herself for speaking so pathetically and so lowly, but she was doing this because of her promise to Jake. She waited in tense silence for Goth to say yes, but her heart sank when she heard her say, "No, kill him and know that his blood is on your hands."
She screamed as she felt her hands begin to rush downward towards her friend. Even after all of that, after everything she had been through she had still lost. She could feel herself breaking as the knife sliced through the air and hurtled towards Jake's heart. "Goddess enough!" a familiar voice called out as Beth felt her arm begin to slow down mid plunge.
She couldn't turn to see what was going on because she wasn't instructed to, but she could hear the ire in Goth's voice as she spoke, "Dilatrix, how dare you tell me when enough is enough. Why would you want to stop this?!"
Dilatrix slowly walked forward and said, "They have suffered enough for now, end this little game so that we may be on with our affairs. I have done as you've asked, and they are eagerly awaiting their turn. Take your boy and I will take Ms. Elizabeth to her rightful place."
Goth glared at her for a moment before sighing and turning back to Beth, "Very well," she said, "But do not make a habit of interrupting me or crossing me, Dilatrix, I value you, but your worth will only go so far against my will. Elizabeth, stop your actions and follow Dilatrix. You are in her care for the moment, but make sure you give your visitors a nice hello. They have missed you quite a bit while they've been away."
Beth felt uneasy relief wash over her as she was permitted to stop herself from killing her friend. She had still lost in the end, but Jake was alive and that counted for something at least. She feared for his safety as Goth bent down to pick him up and carry him away. Her eyes found the form of Dilatrix standing by patiently, and she walked up to the woman as she had been commanded to. She began following her without thinking as the collar continued to take control of her body. She sighed as she was led down the familiar staircase to the dungeons below, "Thank you for stopping that. I'm sorry I couldn't give you the ending you wanted."
Dilatrix didn't turn back to her as they descended down the staircase, "It was nothing other than what was meant to be, and do not apologize my dear. This isn't the end, but rather merely the beginning of what is to come. Keep your will strong and wits about you down here, but keep an open mind to new possibilities should they arise. You never know where you may end up, and though your journey may seem twisted it may make sense to some. Until we speak again, Elizabeth, I'm afraid that for now you must allow them to restrain you, but feel free to use your fingers and exercise that mouth of yours should the need arise."
Dilatrix opened the door to the cell, and Beth felt a cold chill run down her spine. There awaiting her were two people she had hoped to never see again: Aurora and Pamela stood in the dimly lit room. Pamela stood off looking surprisingly impassive as she walked herself to the wall and began attempting to shackle herself. She struggled until Pamela approached and finished locking her in before leaning in and whispering, "Good to see you again, Kitten, miss me?" before stepping away.
She felt a mixture of fear and panic at the sight of the blonde from her strange visions. Was this another illusion? If so, then why was Aurora here? She tried to focus on something, anything to keep her grounded in the moment, and her eyes landed on the strange gaze Pamela sported. It was almost like the night of her death, but there was something else behind those eyes that she couldn't place. Her thoughts were interrupted and her focus shifted to the pain that came from her leg as Aurora delivered a strike that shattered her kneecap. She cried out and was forced to look into Aurora's eyes as she held her face, "I am going to enjoy every second of this, you little cunt," she said with malice dripping in her tone, "Goth gave us a deal that whoever can break that shitty little will of yours gets to keep you. I'm going to enjoy breaking you in before taking you back to my room and showing you what those hooks are really for."
Beth fought through the pain that coursed through her arm and now knee as she glared at Aurora. Her breathing was heavy, but she wouldn't give this sadist the joy of seeing her fear. "Do your worst, you psychotic bitch," Beth said through gritted teeth.
"Oh I intend to," Aurora said before turning to Pamela, "You sure you're okay with me having first dibs?" Pamela nodded before turning to leave with a silent wave of her hand, "Your loss, I'll have this little worm begging and cleaning my feet before the hour is up."
Beth stared off at the blonde as she left without a word, but when the door shut the blows began. She was beat without mercy and without warning, but she wouldn't give in. She couldn't, not after everything that she had been through. As the beating turned to broken bones, bloody cuts, burns, and blurred vision she tried to let her mind wander. It was nearly impossible, but she couldn't help but wonder what Dilatrix meant. If this wasn't the end but rather a beginning, then what was to come? She pondered this between the moments of extreme agony Aurora inflicted throughout her torture. It was the final thought, as well, just before she blacked out from the pain of the first of many sessions with Aurora and the others.