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A man named Marcus: City of monsters

CaptainCanukimerican Feb 25th, 2015 2,471 Never
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  1. The fields around Meadowlake are always a sight to behold, whether it be a bright summer or a cold winter, the greens that grace the lake and castle town were enough to bring even the most down trodden traveler to good spirits. A keep in the former country of Welloch, it has been under the rule of Vellond and Emperor Crom for twenty years. And like many areas in the empire, Meadowlake boasts a rather visible monster minority, given the same liberties as human citizens of the empire either by military or governmental service or birth right.
  2.  
  3. Ezekiel Shuram of House Shuram-Shuram, duke of Meadowlake keep and one of Tiberius Crom's greatest general, now stood alone against a wooden wall of a fishing shack near the lake. He was known for his rotund suit of armor and mighty halberd, so it was strange to see him in a red surcoat with brown trousers.
  4.  
  5. He stood meekly at the wall, keeping his right hand behind his back and his left furiously brushing his long beard in contemplation. “Was this really a good idea?” he thought to himself constantly looking for the lake before returning to his thoughts. She sneaked into his bathroom through the window one time and he hasn't seen her in days. But the way she moved, the way she talked to him, it made his gallant heart beat in his chest like no woman he has ever met before. A date, that's it, just a date to see if he's truly smitten by this frog girl.
  6.  
  7. “My, my.” A feminine voice suddenly spoke up. “What's a noble like you doing so far away from the comforts of his castle?”
  8.  
  9. It was her! Ezekiel turned his head and spotted her, standing a few feet away from him with a hand at her hip. Like their last encounter, she was completely in the nude, revealing her lime-green body to him in all it's splendor.
  10.  
  11. “Erm, yes.” He choked. “Hello there. I came here to...”
  12.  
  13. “You came here to...?” She teased.
  14.  
  15. “I came here to see you.”
  16.  
  17. “Oh, is that so?” She smirked, her frog eyes watching his every move. “Have you made a decision on my offer?”
  18.  
  19. “Well, you see.” Ezekiel struggled to clear his throat. “I am a very traditional man, and I'm not really fond of seeing someone just for the...erm...hm...”
  20.  
  21. “The sex?”
  22.  
  23. “Yes! That!”
  24.  
  25. The frog girl crossed her arms and took a few steps closer, never breaking her gaze into Ezekiel's eyes.
  26.  
  27. “You came all the way out here just to tell me that?” She asked with a frown. “Just ignoring our encounter would have been answer enough.”
  28.  
  29. “Well, no!” He stammered. “I'm not saying I don't want to see you, I'm just saying that...um...erm...”
  30.  
  31. Ezekiel finally got to the point and brought his right arm around from behind his back. In his hand was a bouquet of scarlet roses wrapped in teal paper. The frog girl tilted her head to one side and took the roses in her hands, looking down at them like a confused puppy.
  32.  
  33. “Instead of just giving in to carnal lust...Perhaps I could...Well... Court you?”
  34.  
  35. “C-Courting!?” She stammered, her face turning awfully red for an amphibious creature. “You mean a relationship!? I- you-me-what!?”
  36.  
  37. The girl's sultry attitude turned to dust right in front of Ezekiel's eyes. She stumbled over her own words and fidgeted back and forth like her mind was racing with thoughts.
  38.  
  39. “F-forgive me!” Ezekiel stuttered. “I did not mean to offend.”
  40.  
  41. “Oh no, no no! I'm not offended! It's just...I didn't expect someone to be so willing to court someone like me, especially a knight of Vellond!”
  42.  
  43. “Well, you were the first woman to ever approach me so honestly, surely it must mean something!”
  44.  
  45. “Woman.” She repeated his word. “Not “monster”...But woman.”
  46.  
  47. She smiled and smelled the roses. “Okay, I accept your offer!”
  48.  
  49. “A job?” I asked Cleo, looking up at her from my seat.
  50.  
  51. “That's right.” She confirmed. It's one of the reasons I came up here. Well...That and seeing you.”
  52.  
  53. I leaned back in my chair and shrugged my shoulders. “Alright then, what's the details.”
  54.  
  55. “My master is back.” She told me.
  56.  
  57. “Master?”
  58.  
  59. “Well... She's more of a creator. The Great Pharaoh Maat is her full title. She's been slumbering for many hundreds of years now.”
  60.  
  61. “Wait, hundreds?” I asked. “How old are you?”
  62.  
  63. “Well...” Cleo grabbed on to her tail in her paws and fidgeted. “I'm technically five hundred... But I was dormant for a long time, so, with all things considered, I'm twenty one.”
  64.  
  65. “As in you were sleeping?”
  66.  
  67. “Yes.”
  68.  
  69. I was suddenly hit with a flash back of old sci-fi movies I watched back in the day. Space explorers would cryo sleep so they wouldn't age to death within the big space ships they floated through space in. Monsters can do that? That's kind of neat.
  70.  
  71. “Alright then, what's the details?” I asked.
  72.  
  73. “With Maat's awakening a few months ago, she's already used her magic to recreate her grandest city in the desert. By now, many other monsters have heard her call and flocked to her city with the intention to settle. And, well, as one of her closest, I've been summoned to her side.”
  74.  
  75. I looked at her until my eyes began to linger around the room, I shrugged again and asked. “So? What does this have to do with me?”
  76.  
  77. The Sphinx bit her lower lip and twisted on her tail. “Well...Um...I kind of need you to come with me...And pretend to be my servant?”
  78.  
  79. “...Why?”
  80.  
  81. “Well!” She huffed. “Maat's other children are all powerful sorcerers with their own castles or dungeons or they're big time mistresses! They all have men at their beck and call and can do whatever they want! And...And all I've been doing is sitting in a dusty old abandoned mansion, reading romance novels and dreaming...”
  82.  
  83. “Holy crap!” I pointed and laughed at her. “You're a big nerd!”
  84.  
  85. “I'm not a nerd!” Cleo pouted, stomping her feet and raising her tail straight into the air. “I'm just a methodical expansionist is all! I prefer to take my time!”
  86.  
  87. “You're a big ol' nerd and you need me to be your nerd repellent!”
  88.  
  89. Cleo glared down at me and clicked her claws together, creating a spark and a small blue flame.
  90.  
  91. “Alright, alright, fine.” I surrendered. “What's my shtick?”
  92.  
  93. “Bodyguard.” She explained before pressing her paws against her rosy cheeks. “Bodyguard lover.~”
  94.  
  95. “If that's what you want. Sound's like fun anyway, when are we leaving?”
  96.  
  97. “As soon as possible?”
  98.  
  99. “I can be ready by tomorrow morning.”
  100.  
  101. “Good!” Cleo exclaimed. “You'll have your payment as soon as possible.”
  102.  
  103. “Eh, don't worry about it.” I said. “I could use a vacation anyway.”
  104.  
  105. I stood up from my seat and stretched, if I wanted to be ready by tomorrow I better get some supplies and get my stuff ready before we leave.
  106.  
  107. “Marcus?” Cleo spoke up again. “...Thank you.”
  108.  
  109. I looked back and gave her a smile. “Don't worry about it.”
  110. It took some convincing, but the others finally relented and allowed me to leave with Cleo without resistance. I left Moriko in charge and gave Lupa the special role of “guard dog” while I'm gone. A carriage and two horses were rented from town and our traveling supplies were loaded on, our journey began to head south towards Sahaugin desert, the new home of the Pharaoh Maat.
  111.  
  112. I sat on the left of the carriage with reins in hand. Cleo sat to my right wearing what seemed to be some kind of traditional robe, a tan colored garb that covered most of her body. She was completely unaware of Titos sitting behind us, his arms and legs crossed while he sat quietly against our boxes of clothing and supplies. Cleo asked if I felt cold every now and then, but Titos insisted that she wouldn't know his presence unless she touched the jewel at the hilt of my sword.
  113.  
  114. “Though she's quite the mage herself.” he admitted. “I don't know how sensitive she would be to ancient magic in general, it's best that I avoid touching her at all cost.
  115.  
  116. Sahaugin wasn't far south from Zant's boarder, It took me a day to get there by foot from Bouceroc, it probably won't be long until the grass abruptly turns to sand around us in this carriage. I haven't been here since I met Cleo all those months ago, but something felt different. The demonic energy was thick last I was here, you could almost smell it's stagnating influence every time you inhaled the air around you.
  117.  
  118. But it felt thinner this time, manageable, it was a tingle in my chest rather than a driving force. It was affecting Cleo differently as well, when I first met her she was desperate to keep me in her home. But now she seemed content, resting her chin in the palm of her paw, and gazing off ahead with a content smile on her face. It was nice to see her so calm and relaxed, her tail wagging slowly behind her.
  119.  
  120. One thing else stood out as well. There was a road now, new and pristine, with bricks laid perfectly side by side from each other. It was a smooth ride compared to the dirt road we traveled in on. The population of people on the road also picked up.
  121.  
  122. “Hey, what's going on?” I asked Cleo, looking from either side of the cart when the amount of people increased.
  123.  
  124. “Usually the road is filled with monsters looking for a new home in Maat's kingdom.” Cleo explained. “But Maat sent out a invitation to a good number of national figureheads, I guess many of them took her invitation seriously.”
  125.  
  126. The road did seem packed, most of the men marching towards the city didn't seem like the mercenary type. Knights, men at arms, regular soldiers, and military elites marched in formations around carriages and primped men riding horses. These soldiers were constantly being hounded by passing monsters, who flirted and teased them endlessly. Some pushed them away, others politely denied their advances, others more simply pushed their helmets forward slightly and fixed their gaze towards the ground. Must not be use to the energy in the air.
  127.  
  128. I looked through the crowds constantly for a particular figure, he wasn't hard to miss, not a man his size. Emperor Tiberius Crom is known to travel on foot, and Vellond is quite the march away from Sahaugin. He's either still on the road, or isn't bothering with the convention at all. It would be nice if he was, though. Would make handing over the jewel a lot easier.
  129.  
  130.  
  131. We marched on throughout the night, I allowed Cleo to sleep in the carriage while Titos sat up front with me, taking extra measures to make sure he didn't brush up against her on the way out from the back.
  132.  
  133. “It'd be easier if you just sat around in your jewel, you know.” I whispered to him.
  134.  
  135. “Don't like it in there.” He said back. “Makes me feel claustrophobic.”
  136.  
  137. “Fair enough.”
  138.  
  139. By dawn it became hard for me to keep my eyes open, the monotonous rumbling of metal plated wooden wheels on brick did little to keep me aware. And then I saw it, glistening in the distance like a city of gold, built to the side of a large oasis that wasn't there before.
  140.  
  141. A city of stone under the sun. It shone brilliantly in the distance, a jewel of the desert. The city was large, even from this distance I could tell it could accommodate a few thousand people comfortably. As majestic as the city was, it left me with the feeling of dread. What kind of monster did this Pharaoh have to be to build a settlement so grand in such a short period of time?
  142.  
  143. “Mornin'” I heard yawned behind me. With a quick glance, I saw that Titos was already gone.
  144.  
  145. “Sleep well?” I asked Cleo when she took her seat beside me.
  146.  
  147. “I have no idea how, but I slept like a rock.” She said with another yawn, rubbing the sand from her eyes and looking off ahead. “Oh wow! That's the city Mistress Maat built? She must have had a lot of pent up magic after her rest. She really out did herself.”
  148.  
  149. The way Cleo hand waved this Maat's accomplishments only served to make me more uneasy. Something like this was a common occurrence for her? We finally reached the city after another hour of marching forward. I felt like shit, but I didn't even want to know how the horses felt. The walls outside the city were already bustling with life, with howlers and yelling filling your ear at almost deafening volumes.
  150.  
  151. When Cleo presented herself to the gate guards, we were let through the front gate without any kind of hassle. Never in my life on this planet have I seen so many monsters in one place. They outnumbered even the human men that seemed to walk around freely, at least five to one, and there wasn't any human woman to be seen anywhere. Merchants, guards, workers, and simple city folk going about their day were all monsters of all kinds. Anything from harpies to lamias to succubi walked, flew, trotted, and slithered around freely without a care in the world. I would feel uncomfortable if they didn't seem to care that I existed.
  152.  
  153. “Where to now?” I asked Cleo.
  154.  
  155. She pondered on it for a moment, before the ears on top of her head perked up.
  156.  
  157. “Wait, I know this place...She didn't!” Cleo said as her smile brightened. “This is just like Naraki! Mistress Maat just rebuilt our old home!”
  158.  
  159. Cleo giggled with glee and hugged on to my arm like an excited little girl. “I know where we can go! Just let me give you directions!”
  160.  
  161. Cleo led us down street after street like it was mapped on the back of her paw, pointing and shouting out every turn we needed to take. The deeper we went into the city, the more it changed. Less and less people cluttered the streets and the constant hollering of others turned into mild chatter until even that went silent. The tall buildings, market stands, and monuments gave way for small residential houses and small-time stores.
  162.  
  163. The scenery became somber and silent, with the sight of other life far between. We could see the palace    whenever we went uphill, standing triumphantly at the edge of the oasis across the city. After we passed the industrial and markets of the city, and strolled on through the residential, I was greeted by the sight of fields of color. Long stretches of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables surrounded pristine looking villas, a rather beautiful sight in such a bustling city.
  164.  
  165. “Welcome to “Golden road” villas.” Cleo presented. “The closest thing I had to a home.”
  166.  
  167. “Why is it called Golden Road if the road isn't paved?”
  168.  
  169. Cleo looked at me with pouted lips until she finally decided to give me more directions.
  170.  
  171. “See that one all the way back there? The one with the olive garden?”
  172.  
  173. “Yeah?”
  174.  
  175. “That ones mine.”
  176.  
  177. “That's yours!?” I asked her in disbelief. “Have you been holding out on me?”
  178.  
  179. “Course I have.” She stated with crossed arms. “Wouldn't want you to get fat and lazy on me now, would I?”
  180.  
  181. I thought I accidentally walked into the god father. I hopped off the carriage and stood in the center of a courtyard surrounded by the villa itself. Four walls made up the villa and it's plethora of rooms with a main, two story building holding it all together. I felt like I should be walking around in a toga or something like that, it's brick walls and mosaic flooring felt very Roman, like we just stepped through a portal into Sicily.
  182.  
  183. “Wha'cha think?” Cleo asked with a smug grin, her tail waving playfully behind her. “Jealous?”
  184.  
  185. “More impressed, really.” I admitted. “And confused.”
  186.  
  187. “Confused?” She tilted her head. “Why?”
  188.  
  189. “What's someone as important as you doing hanging out with a loser like me?”
  190.  
  191. Cleo's grin slowly turned into a frown, she leaned against a nearby wooden table and looked towards the floor.
  192.  
  193. “I wasn't born a Sphinx.” She admitted. “I used to be a werecat. I remember my mama and papa, but I don't remember why I had to leave home...”
  194.  
  195. My heart sunk in my chest, the look on her face was one I've never seen Cleo have before. I was expecting her to get flustered and come up with an answer on the spot to counter my teasing, I didn't mean to push any buttons.
  196.  
  197. She stood in silence for a second before continuing. “I was living in a space under a bridge near a little village at the time. They didn't trust me, but weren't outwardly hostile either, so I just kept to myself. It got lonely from time to time but I managed to get by on my own... But one day two kids from the village went missing and the blame was suddenly shunted on to me. I tried to explain myself but one of the villagers stabbed me with a pitch fork. I don't know if it was adrenaline or luck, but I managed to get away...”
  198.  
  199. Cleo grazed her paw against her stomach, her eyes trailed across the mosaic floor like she was retracing her steps.
  200.  
  201. “I stumbled around the woods for a few more hours before I couldn't move anymore... I thought I was going to die until...” The frown on her face began to turn into a smile again. “Until Maat found me. She put her hand on my head and it felt like everything just went away... The next time I woke up, I looked like this. Maat started to teach me magic and my new role in life. The first thing I did was get rid of the scars on my stomach as soon as I could, I never wanted to go back to that village again and I didn't need that to remind me of it...
  202.  
  203. When Maat said she was going into a slumber, I was one of her servants to volunteer to go dormant, to make sure she had confidants when she awoke. I don't know if it was out of loyalty or that I felt like I owed her, but I went into a long, dreamless sleep, and the area I was put away in had turned into this desert by the time I woke up. I knew I was supposed to attract servants and followers to her name, but instead I just found refuge in the biggest, most stable house I could find and spent my time reading books and lazing around... I didn't want to talk to humans, I hated them, I just wanted to be left alone...”
  204.  
  205. Cleo's smile began to brighten even further when she began to think about it, her tail swishing around more lively than before. She finally looked up away from the floor and into my eyes, an unflinching gaze that I couldn't bring myself to look away from.
  206.  
  207. “Then you showed up.” She said softly. “At first, I was mad that a human disturbed my refuge. I wanted to either scare you away or...Or at least have one servant to bring back to Maat when she awoke... But the way you spoke to me...The way to looked into my eyes... You smiled, you laughed, you joked. You didn't want to run or hurt me, you didn't speak to me like I could turn into a frantic psycho at any second...You spoke to me like I was a person. And when we...” She blushed when she thought about it. “When we had...Well...When you became my first. You were so gentle, so soft, so caring... I knew that this is what love must feel like.”
  208.  
  209. “Cleo...” I spoke in a hushed tone. I had always thought that it was just the typical monster attraction, I thought that since I was familiar that she flocked to me. I felt terrible, sickened by myself and my own actions. I looked away in guilt and rubbed my shoulder and neck meekly.
  210.  
  211. “Hey... Uh.” I stuttered out like an embarrassed school boy. “How long until you're supposed to meet this Maat lady?”
  212.  
  213. “Hm?” Cleo broke herself out of her trance. “Not until she calls for us. Why?”
  214.  
  215. “You want to maybe...You want to go out somewhere? It's pretty quiet in this part of the city, you want to uh...Go for a walk or get something to eat or...Something...? Maybe...?”
  216.  
  217. “...Like a date?” She asked.
  218.  
  219. “Y-yeah! A date!” I confirmed.
  220.  
  221. “Well, we probably have a lot of time!” Cleo practically yelled, her face getting redder and redder with every passing moment. “B-but can you give me some time to get ready?”
  222.  
  223. “Sure! I'll wait down here!”
  224.  
  225. “Just a few minutes, okay? I'll be really quick!”
  226.  
  227. Cleo grabbed her luggage and rushed up the stairs, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I paced in circles while she was going, beating myself up for pretty much anything. I was a nobody back in New York, I hammered nails into wood and made sure houses I couldn't afford didn't fall over. Who the fuck was I to just throw myself around like a playboy like that? Wolfgang was right, I am a whore.
  228.  
  229. “Look at this...” I muttered, pulling at the sleeve of my torn, patched up hoodie. “This is pathetic, I can't go out wearing this...”
  230.  
  231. I made a quick dash for my luggage, pulling it open and throwing my old clothing to the side. Within seconds I threw my hoodie and sweaty T-shirt aside for a gray T-shirt. I did the sniff test and made sure I didn't smell like a corpse before going out. I may not have deodorant anymore but that's no reason to stink like shit.
  232.  
  233. “So...”
  234.  
  235. I jumped at Cleo's voice, turning myself around to see her stepping off the final step. She wasn't wearing her robe or her usual black top. Instead she was wearing a white summer dress with frilly short sleeves that ended slighlty past her shoulders and a skirt that waved down to her knees. There was a small hole cut in the back for her tail to wag around, but it was hanging low and around her calf. Her right paw was rubbing her left arm while she avoided eye contact, her face bright red.
  236.  
  237. “I bought this from a foreign merchant back in Bouceroc.” She explained. “I thought I'd surprise you with it. Do you like it?”
  238.  
  239. “Yeah!” I spouted out. “It. It looks good on you.”
  240.  
  241. “Really?”
  242.  
  243. I had to act quickly before I ended up doing something really embarrassing.
  244.  
  245. “So uh, we're burning daylight, you ready to go?”
  246.  
  247. “Oh, right! Sure!” Said Cleo as she skipped along past me.
  248.  
  249. I caught up and opened the door for her, leading us both out into the courtyard and back on to the dirt road. As a team effort, we pushed the villas main doors shut behind us and took off. I followed along to where Cleo pointed us to go, letting her be my guide in a city she was quite familiar with. We only got a few meters away from the villa before Cleo spoke up.
  250.  
  251. “Hey, Marcus?” She asked. “Would it be okay if I held on to your arm?”
  252.  
  253. I smiled and pushed my arm outwards, accepting her request. “Go for it.”
  254.  
  255. Cleo stepped closer and hooked her arm in mine. She pulled herself closer and hugged on to my arm with her head resting against my shoulder. My heart fluttered for a moment, but I managed to stop myself from turning into a giddy mess.
  256.  
  257. “So, where are we going anyway?” I asked.
  258.  
  259. “There are a few places I want to see.” She said. “The beach isn't far from here and there's a place just west that, hopefully, is already up and running.”
  260.  
  261. “Hell, I'm not going to tell you what to do on your home turf.” I joked. “Lead the way.”
  262.  
  263. I was pulled along like a lost puppy, past the olive gardens, grape vines, and orange trees that littered the fields around the roads. Even from it's heart the city was beautiful, like a golden paradise in the middle of a lifeless desert. The thoughts of this Maat and what she could do with her magic escaped my mind and I lost myself in the sights and aromas of this city.
  264.  
  265. I was led by the arm towards the oasis sitting not far from where the villas were situated. The area we were at was quiet, though I could see more people meandering on the beach across from us in the distance.
  266.  
  267. “How does that not bother you?” I asked Cleo as we walked along the water.
  268.  
  269. “What should be bothering me?”
  270.  
  271. “Walking around bare foot like that.” I said while pointing down at her feet. “Doesn't the sand get in your fur and between your claws?”
  272.  
  273. “You find me shoes that will fit me and I'll try wearing them.” She huffed. “Besides, when you spent your entire life never wearing shoes, you kind of get use to it.”
  274.  
  275. “Fair enough, I don't think I could do that.” I admitted. “When I was working on the farms a year ago, everyone just wore sandals or went bare foot. Their feet were completely black by the end of the day.
  276.  
  277. “I can always take a bath.” Cleo added. “Or if it gets really bad I can always just use a bit of magic.”
  278.  
  279. I chuckled and looked down on her. “Yeah, you throw that around willy nilly, don't you?”
  280.  
  281. “Don't be mean!” Cleo said jokingly with a light smack on my shoulder. “You'd do it to if you could use magic!”
  282.  
  283. “Nah, I wouldn't use it for that.” I said. “I'd probably...Fly or something... Can you fly with magic?”
  284.  
  285. “I don't know, I've never tried.”
  286.  
  287. “We probably shouldn't. Wouldn't want to splat on the castle or something like that.”
  288.  
  289. “You don't trust me enough to fly?”
  290.  
  291. “I have no doubt you can fly, I've seen you snap your claws and burn peoples clothing off before. I just don't trust me is all.”
  292.  
  293. Cleo giggled and let go of my arm. She sighed and turned towards the water and sat down, looking at the castle in the distance.
  294.  
  295. “I remember when I was always there.” Cleo started while I sat down beside her. “I used to sneak around on the pillars and chandeliers and just watched people. I knew an Anubis that was always nose deep in the books. History, science, sometimes books with letters I've never seen before. I used to tease her and hide her books, she got so frustrated once she started crying.”
  296.  
  297. Cleo stopped to giggle again. “I felt so bad.”
  298.  
  299. “Sounds like you have some good memories here.”
  300.  
  301. “It was the first place I could be myself.” She said with a slow nod. “I didn't have to worry about passing knights from the church or paranoid towns people. I could walk around freely without fear of violence.”
  302.  
  303. I sat in silence with her for a while longer, letting her take in the sight and sounds of a city she called home. Even if it was in a different place on the planet entirely, she still knew it like it was mapped to the back of her paw. After awhile, I spoke up again.
  304.  
  305. “So, what do you want to do now?”
  306.  
  307. “I knew a Holstaur that made really good ice cream!” Cleo exclaimed, jumping to her feet. “Maybe the store is open again!”
  308.  
  309. “Wait, hold on. Holstaur?” I asked as she pulled me to my feet and pulled me again by my hand. “She doesn't make the ice cream with herself, does she?”
  310.  
  311. “Who knows?” Cleo answered. “Still good, though!”
  312. Cleo managed to calm herself once we got back on the road and our hurried rush became a leisurely stroll once more. She began to point out parts of the city that held special memories to her as we passed them. The first time she saw a parade, when she played hide and seek with two of her friends for three days, the time she pranked the workers that were working down in the fields. I've never seen her so bubbly and happy before, like a kid who got to go to Disney land for the first time.
  313.  
  314. Luckily, the store was open, being run by a descendant of the original Holstaur this time. I bought Cleo a cone and refused one for myself, not that it helped since she kept pushing it in my face for a “quick taste” every chance she got. I mean, how could I refuse?
  315.  
  316. We spent the rest of the day strolling around until the sun began to set and twilight overtook the sky. With the day done, Cleo led me back to her villa and fed the stabled horses we got into town on before heading inside.
  317.  
  318. “Today was really fun.” She admitted. “...I guess I should show you your room, shouldn't I?”
  319.  
  320. She beckoned me to follow and led me up the stairs. We walked down a long hallway until we reached the room at the end. By now, the sun had fully set and the moon had taken it's place in the sky. The room was given a calming glow from both the moon and the stars, the cosmos itself strewn across the heavens like a blanket.
  321.  
  322. Cleo stepped inside first and once again my heart pounded in my chest. Like an angel, she glowed in the moon light, her olive skin the perfect color for the nightly glow. She turned to me for a second and invited me in, lunar lights reflecting from her beautiful eyes.
  323.  
  324. I've never been a religious man. I've never condemned the faithful and I have never insulted another for their beliefs. I know that monsters are born to become attractive in this world, a beauty that no human woman could ever hope to match, not matter how stunning. The church says that it is heresy, a way for the demon lord to lead god's children astray. And I couldn't give less of a damn of what the church has to say.
  325.  
  326. “I'll be at the other end of the villa.” Said Cleo with a wave of her paw. “If you need me just say s-”
  327.  
  328. Cleo stiffened and gasped an almost high pitch squeak. She put her paws out in front of her and looked forward towards the window that presented the other villas in the distance. I had stepped forward into the room and closed the distance on myself and her, and without warning I wrapped my arms around her body from behind and held her tightly.
  329.  
  330. “Marcus?” Cleo asked, bringing her paws closer to hold on to my arm around her chest.
  331.  
  332. I didn't say anything and lingered my lips at the side of her neck. I could feel her breaths becoming deeper and quicker until she finally gasped at the sensation of my lips against her skin. She became puddy in my hands almost instantly, pressing her back against me and purring while her tail swished against my legs.
  333.  
  334. She turned around when I loosened my grip and wrapped her arms around my neck, looking up at me with love sick eyes. My arms found their way under hers, wrapping around her ribs and back to pull her as close as I could. I returned her gaze and finally went in to seal the deal, leaning forward while Cleo pushed herself up on her toes until our lips finally met.
  335.  
  336. I kissed her deeply and tenderly, feeling every curve on her supple body until my hands found their ways to her shoulders, releasing her hold around my neck and dropping her arms to her sides. I pushed the fabric on her shoulders apart, watching the beautiful summer dress drop to the floor and around her feet. She stood in front of me in nothing but her panties, her face flush and her breath heavy.
  337.  
  338. “Shouldn't you be undressing?” she asked me in a sultry voice.
  339.  
  340. “I'm not sure.” I joked. “Wouldn't want to ruin the mood with my stumbling around.”
  341.  
  342. Cleo giggled and clicked her claws together, and within a blink of the eyes I was standing in front of her in my birthday suit, my clothing thrown across the room.
  343.  
  344. “Much better.” She cooed while she wrapped her arms around my neck again.
  345.  
  346. With my hands against her ribs, I pushed her backwards and led her towards the bed, pressing my arm against her back to guide her gently against the mattress. I held myself up with my left hand against the mattress while my right hand glided up her leg, pushing my fingers under her blue striped panties. Cleo gasped once more when I lowered my face towards her neck, smelling the intoxicating aroma of her perfume.
  347.  
  348. I felt something padded against my crotch, Cleo had sneaked one of her paws from my back and was now rubbing it against the shaft of my member. She looked at me with a coy smile, her tail pressing firmly against my back. I reluctantly pulled myself away from her and grabbed a hold of her panties, pulling her legs into the air as I pulled them off.
  349.  
  350. She gave no resistance and welcomed me back in her embrace with her legs locked around my pelvis. I had no escape now, and had no intention of escaping in the first place. I guided my rod with my hand against her already wet lips, and watched as she bit her lips when flesh touched flesh. Her legs locked tighter around me when I finally decided to break the tension and pushed myself inside her.
  351.  
  352. My ears were filled with the rewarding sounds of Cleo's moans and purrs while I forced my hands under her back and against the mattress, pressing her heaving breasts against my chest and holding her in my own embrace. I began to thrust my hips slowly, letting Cleo mew and moan a few more times before I sealed her lips shut with mine.
  353.  
  354. Our tongues played in each others mouths while I increased my pace, thrusting harder and faster every few seconds. She moaned softly into my mouth with each pump, her claws digging into my back and her legs locking tighter around my waist.
  355.  
  356. Cleo pulled her lips away and howled with every plunge inside her, our flesh smacking together loudly. She gritted her teeth before biting into my shoulder, digging her fangs deep into my skin. I ignored the pain, I didn't give a damn at this point and returned the favor by biting down lightly on her neck. Every thrust became harder and faster until I felt myself build up to my breaking point. With one final pump, I pushed myself against her until I hilted and exploded deep inside her.
  357.  
  358. Cleo's eyes widened and both her grip around me and her bite became a vice, her claws dug into my back while she squirmed underneath me. I kept myself inside her until I poured out every last drop, allowing myself to stay there until I reluctantly pulled out.
  359.  
  360. Her grip finally loosened on me and Cleo fell against the mattress, rolling to her side and panting heavily. The fur on her tail was on ends and fluids oozed from between her legs.
  361.  
  362. “That...That...” She panted, unable to stop shaking.
  363.  
  364. I looked down at her and then at my cock, even with only a dash of demonic energy in the air, it was still hard as a rock. Cleo meowed in surprise when I rolled her on to her stomach and grabbed on to her tail, tugging on it slightly to raise her hips just enough into the air to position myself properly.
  365.  
  366. “H-hey!” She protested. “No fair! I'm not read-hiiii!”
  367.  
  368. With a hand on her hip, I pushed inside her once more, letting her sweet little mews fill my ears once again. I put my hands at each side of the mattress and began to pump into her again. She bit down on the pillow to muffle her screams, but yelped after I lowered myself closer and nibbled on her furry ear.
  369.  
  370. “Thish ishnt faaaiiirrrrr~!” Cleo complained again, now pushing herself back against my pelvis with every one of my thrusts.
  371.  
  372. Her tail ran up my body and rested on my shoulder,weakly flailing against my neck with each of my thrusts. Cleo must had had some strength left in her body, because when I ran my hands down her sides to the hips and pulled, she weakly rose to her knees and struggled to keep herself up on her paws. My hands found their way to her breasts and I pulled her closer until her back touched my chest, fondling her and teasing her nipples. She threw her arms behind her and gained support around my neck again, turning her head to the side and mewling at me to kiss her again. Her rough tongue forced its way into my mouth and continued its dance from before, her body shivering with each of my thrusts.
  373.  
  374. Once again I had found myself at my limits and I came into her, only this time she kept her lock on my mouth and pressed herself harder against my body. When I once again finished we both fell against the bed, completely exhausted.
  375.  
  376. “Jeez...” Cleo complained as soon as she regained her breath, wiggling under me until I gave her enough space to roll on to her back. “Who do you think you are just taking charge like that?”
  377.  
  378. “Sorry.” I said with an exasperated laugh.
  379.  
  380. Cleo pouted her lips and pressed her paws against my cheeks, squeezing them until my lips puffed up.
  381.  
  382. “Well I guess someone owes me another kiss.” She said with a smile, leaning in closer and pulling my face to hers, finally letting go of my cheeks when our lips met.
  383.  
  384. She pulled away, smiling until she saw my shoulder, then the panic started again.
  385.  
  386. “Oh my gosh!” She cried. “Are you okay!? I'm sorry, I didn't mean t-”
  387.  
  388. Cleo looked over my shoulder at my back, seeing the scratches she left behind from your claws. “And your back! I didn't mean to hurt you, I'm sor-”
  389.  
  390. “Hey, hey, hey!” I shushed her. “It's okay, it's nothing serious. Man, are all Sphinx so jumpy?”
  391.  
  392. “Is it such a bother to worry about you?” She huffed.
  393.  
  394. “Nah, not really. You're cute when you're worried.”
  395.  
  396. Cleo giggled when I rubbed my nose against hers and gave her another kiss. When the energy of the situation began to die down, I felt myself becoming sleepier and sleepier, until I found myself resting my head on Cleo's chest, my eyes only half open.
  397.  
  398. “You don't mind if I get some rest...Do you?” I asked her.
  399.  
  400. “Not at all.” She said with a shake of her head, laying her paws on my back and the back of my head.
  401.  
  402. With a little struggle, I kicked at the folded blanket at the end of the bed until I got my legs under it, wiggling it up my body until Cleo grabbed a hold of it and pulled it over us.
  403.  
  404. “Good job...Nice team...Good night.” I mumbled before nestling myself against her chest.
  405.  
  406. “Good night, Marcus...” Cleo stopped for a moment, apprehensive of what she wanted to say next. “...I love you.”
  407.  
  408. I opened my eyes slightly, thinking her words over. It was like a warm blanket had just wrapped around my heart. I didn't feel apprehensive or worried about what I was going to say next, at peace with my decision.
  409.  
  410. “I love you, too.”
  411.  
  412. Cleo didn't say a word after that,but her embrace became slightly tighter. Moments later I drifted into sleep.
  413.  
  414. I woke up sometime into the night, still drowsy from the events earlier. Slowly, I raised my head from Cleo's chest and looked around the room, illuminated by the moon at the window. I heard nothing but the familiar sounds of a certain Sphinx purring in her sleep, her paws still wrapped around my body.
  415. I had no intention of getting up, and instead looked at her face.
  416.  
  417. Gently as to not wake her, I brushed my hand down the side of her beautiful face. Cleo's ear flicked once and she smile warmly. And again I rested my head against her chest, but this time I listened. I heard her heart beat, a soft, gentle pound in her chest. It was a familiar sound, a human sound.
  418.  
  419. I was told once, long ago, before I knew him, that Tiberius Crom wasn't always the way he is. There have been myths that his ax was taken from the corpse of a Minotaur he did battle with long ago. But there are some who believe that the ax belonged to someone important to him, someone he lost that set him down this path of blood shed.
  420.  
  421. I began to drift away listening to the melody of Cleo's heart beat. I didn't want that to be me, I didn't want to lose someone important to me again. I could say, with all honesty, that I loved this monster. No, I loved this woman. And I would risk anything, even my own death, to protect her.  
  422.  
  423.  
  424. Well into the night, far away from the city, the desert remains undisturbed. Most monsters had gone to sleep, and the ones that prowl the night leave no traces of their existence unless they wish themselves known. Grains of sand brushed with the gentle wind, the area for miles was painted in a pale glow from the clear night sky above.
  425. Then, the ground rumbled, and a mighty boot planted itself into the sand. There, standing in full gear with his ax resting against his shoulder, stood Tiberius Crom: The Emperor of Vellond. He saw the city in the distance, his eyes glossing over it from behind the shade of his iron mask. Without a word, he turned his head back and examined the cohort behind him.
  426.  
  427. Fifty men from the Praetorian guard as well two of his most trusted generals. Mirilla: the eyes of the Emperor and Elven commander of the archer auxiliary. And General Albrecht, the one eyed tyrant of the 1st legion.
  428.  
  429. Tiberius looked them over one last time and turned back towards the city. He raised his arm and nudged two fingers forward, and without delay his party began to march again. They followed behind their emperor, towards the city of monsters.
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