"What do you think, Esta? Are we screwed?" Kanae asked as they stood in front of Lanil Hammerthorn's prison cell.
"Well, at worst, Radevic may end up siding with Ortesia to take Lani back. If that were to happen, then we are, as you say… screwed," Esta said.
They had no other choice but to betray and imprison Lani. Kanae couldn't afford to lose this alliance with Lord Charron and the Queen-Mother. The Saint Priest's moans echoed loudly up and down the corridors.
The moaning maiden, one of the dwarven races' many sexual inventions that Kanae encountered in Ha'Vavish, subjected Lani to the constant prodding by fleshy tendrils. Its schematics were among the many things they brought back during the excursions. Thanks to Lina and Rog's expert craftsmanship with metal and Rosaline's knowledge of exotic monsters, they were able to replicate the dwarves' sexual torture device.
The moaning maiden was similar to the iron maiden, a standing iron casket that trapped the torture subject within. Instead of inward metal spikes, however, they were fitted with a species of low-level monster that attached themselves to iron and fed on bodily secretions.
"Ahh! Gaahhh… Mmmph… It'sh driving me inshane… like my whole body ish… being shcrewed!" Lani cried from within.
Kanae opened the face of the iron maiden, fashioned to look like that of a moaning woman with an ahegao, and revealed Lani showing the same expression underneath. Her eyes were rolled back, she was covered in sweat, and shuddering all over.
"Have you changed your mind?" Kanae asked.
"I-I… would never… betray the Grand Eye! You're siding with demons and succubi. They will betray you first. Hasn't King Turren and Grand Eye Analise treated you well? Treated your children well, too? I thought we were friends after having sex with Chappy together! Why won't you rely on us instead?" Lani exclaimed.
"I want to, but you heard the Grand Eye. This isn't a war you or Radevic can be a part of. Don't worry. I'll let you go once the war is over. Until then, I can't afford you telling the Grand Eye about my plans." She shut the moaning maiden's face.
"Wait… Where's my Chappy? Please… don't do this… You can still… change your— Ahh! I'm cumming again!" The Saint Priest writhed intensely, climaxing to whatever the fleshy interior was doing to her.
A dozen black-clad Sisters of Sin entered to guard Lani's cell. Even as Kanae and Esta ascended the stairs to leave the dungeon, her moans could still be heard from up here.
"Well, well. It sounds like you gave my sweet Lani some nice accommodations down there!" Chappy said as they emerged from the castle.
"Are you really okay with this?" Kanae asked worriedly. "Turning against Lani, I mean. I thought you two were close."
"Lani probably thinks I'm being held in some top security prison anyway. But what's with the second thoughts? You're the one who proposed this plan to me in secret. Besides, it's a good chance for me to get a word in with my old pal, Charron. Without Lani though, you're going to be keeping me company, right?" He floated up to Kanae and licked her face with a long, salivating tongue.
Edina throwing a bag over Chappy was just for show. The living grimoire could have easily freed himself and Lani. His loyalty to the Saint Priest went deep. So, Kanae had to sweeten the pot for him. She offered herself as his sexual outlet in Lani's place and a meeting with Charron. The latter was what really sealed the deal, but he wouldn't give a reason why.
"Not now though… I still have work to do. Go upstairs to my room and wait there. The servants will show you the way," Kanae said.
"Hehehe… I can't wait to get to digging into your lovely honeypot again!" Chappy licked Kanae some more before flying off.
"Just imagining my master being dominated by tentacles again… I would like to be there to watch." Esta breathed heavily between each word.
Kanae rolled her eyes at Esta.
They boarded a carriage to the demon encampment situated outside of the city. It reminded them of the war camp set to invade Highgreen years ago, but a lot smaller. Demons came out of their tents and gathered to watch them coming through. Some even bowed.
"Did you suddenly become a celebrity?" Esta gazed out of the window and was just as perplexed.
"I'm not sure. I don't think I did anything special for them?" Kanae shrugged.
When the carriage rolled to a stop, they were in front of a round tent larger than the rest. Kanae recognized it as belonging to Minestra and Lady, but both of the demon lieutenants weren't inside. Instead, they were out in front with Edina, Lapis, and Manabe. The five of them had cards in their hands.
"Hah! Looks like it's my win again, losers!" Edina slapped down her hand, and the others leaned over the table to check in disbelief.
"Bullshit. You cheated! Where are you hiding those cards?" Lady tossed the cards and growled.
"Cheated with what? Magic? We have Lapis here to make sure that doesn't happen. Just accept that you lost to a little squirreling." The necromancer sneered.
"Okay, let's not get into any fights now." Minestra pushed the two away from butting heads with each other. "The Demon Queen of the Commonwealth is here now. Oh, Kanae! My sweet beloved!"
Kanae and Esta hopped off the carriage and immediately noticed Manabe wasn't having a good time. The orc was shivering in his seat and sweating bullets. For how much more menacing his appearance was compared to the other three, he sure looked meek.
"Hey, Kanae. Is this wimpy orc really the commander of your forces? If your army was made up of sniveling whelps, what in the three hells do we gain by siding with you?" Lady asked, then slammed a fist on the table to make Manabe flinch.
"Weak?" Kanae embraced her seated, cowardly friend from behind and stroked his muscular chest. "You're underestimating how strong Manabe is. Just one thrust is enough to make me submit! He packs a load worth a hundred humans. When he has me in his arms, and I can't break free—"
"We're not talking about sex, you nympho lunatic! When the Ortesian forces and Rotandrix dragoons come knocking on your front gates, how can you count on your people not to piss their own trousers? Why should we side with the Commonwealth who's poised to lose at the first battle?" the hellhound snarled.
"Because I've beaten the demon forces at every turn. That's why," she said, shooing Manabe off to take his seat.
Lady's right eye twitched a little. Everyone else stayed quiet to watch the tension unfold.
Kanae continued now that she had their attention, "The only ones I can't beat are the Queen-Mother and her daughters. If we form this alliance, you're not just helping me repel the Empire of Ortesia. Lord Charron gets to earn an ally in me and the Commonwealth against the Queen-Mother afterwards."
"You want to cross the Underqueen," Lady said, leaning back in her seat and licking her fangs. "And how do I know you won't betray us like you did me in Ha'Vavish instead?"
"Haven't you seen the Commonwealth? The Queen-Mother wants to enslave everyone who isn't a succubus as cattle. I don't want that for my people. We're living in harmony already. She wants to destroy that."
Lady and Minestra exchanged nods.
"At the end of the day, Lord Charron makes the final decision on whether we join forces or not. Lady and I are only here to make it explicitly clear you don't have any funny business planned. Obviously, I don't think you will! You're too angelic for that. But I'm a demon lieutenant. I have to look after my lord's safety," Minestra explained.
"No funny business! I'm willing to work out any accommodations and conditions." Kanae lifted her hands in the air.
Lady pointed to Lapis. "We want that to be present during the meeting. Its anti-magic will ensure no one can cast magic."
"Me?" Lapis pointed to herself.
A clever move, but not unexpected. When no one was able to cast magic, then the physically strong had the advantage. Namely, Lady and Minestra, two powerhouses in a non-magic fight.
"That has a name. Her name is Lapis, and Lapis can make her own decisions without me saying so," Kanae said.
"I'll go!" Lapis nodded.
"Good. We leave tomorrow. Get moving, Minestra! We have an army to command. You can flirt with Kanae later." Lady got up and started corraling her forces into gear.
Kanae needed to do the same. She and her crew returned to Ehmvier. Manabe sulked all the way back.
"Manabe, you must always hold your head high. Even if it is in front of enemies who may soon become allies. Straighten your back. Hold your chin high. Prove Lady wrong that you aren't weak," Esta said.
"Easy for you to say! You've been Knight of Silver for how many years now? Sure, I've been in this 'commander' post for five years now, but I still don't know the first thing about leading. Wouldn't it be better if you or Kanae take the reins?" Manabe asked desperately.
"We do, sometimes. But we're better suited being on the field alongside the army. You're just the one directing people. Do I have to give you some courage again?" Kanae tugged on her cleavage.
"S-Sex isn't going to make me any better at commanding an army, but… I'll do my best," he mumbled.
At first light the very next day, Kanae bid goodbye to Ehmvier again. She left the mostly reformed Lilith and Zadris behind to rule again. They promised not to steer away from each other again, but…
"Lilith~ Your skin is so soft and smooth. I love how you feel against me," Zadris whispered seductively into her co-ruler's ear.
"Will you stop touching me! The Mistress is leaving, and we should see her off properly!" Lilith pouted.
Their relationship took a turn after Kanae ordered them to have sex with each other as a method of rehabilitation.
"Make sure not to fracture the Sisters of Sin again. Have them finish whatever they're doing as soon as possible. The empire's forces should have made landfall at Port Kandis by now if they haven't already. We have less than a month and a half before they start pouring into the Commonwealth," Kanae explained.
They sounded off, "Yes, my queen!"
Esta and Aisha each gave Kanae a nod before jumping into a carriage. Gretchen was just now coming out of the castle with Suvee and Kanade in tow. They were riding atop Avon, whose recent growth spurt allowed both to mount together. Normally, Kanae would never be okay with bringing them so close to either the demon lord or succubus queen. But the sad truth was that they would be much safer in Highgreen than so close to the fighting in Ehmvier.
An army of undead led the way in the vanguard. Edina soared high in the sky on her dragon. They departed alongside the demons bound for Highgreen.
"Quite the beast of a languisteed you got there. Is all that armor for show?" Lady said, riding up to Kanae on a young devil mutt that was smaller than Titan.
"He's pretty beastly elsewhere, too." Kanae winked, causing the hellhound to grimace in disgust. "Remember how I defeated your initial demon assault on Orturic with mana-vamp starfishes? I bred them with my own body. I did the same with Titan, and most of the languis are growing up to be just as large."
"Ugh! I didn't need to know that! Granted… It gladdens me that you would go to no degenerate lengths to achieve victory…"
Kanae smiled proudly and stroked Titan's mane. She had suited him and the other languis with armor. They were intended to be used as a cavalry unit alongside the Sisters of Sin.
"This is Ortesia we're talking about. Better safe than sorry, right? I've been wondering, too. Isn't Lord Charron's ultimate goal to invade the empire?" Kanae asked.
"And what makes you think that?" The hellhound raised a brow.
"J-Just an educated guess…"
"Well, you aren't wrong. As one of his trusted lieutenants, Minestra and I have been privileged to learn what Lord Charron wants to do but not why. That doesn't concern us though. We only want to see his desires come to fruition," she explained.
"But why? How did people like you come to revere him so much?"
"What kind of stupid question is that? Look at the demon army. Now, think of your own army. They're similar, aren't they? Where else would you find so many different creatures living together? Artaggon has its own flaws, sure. We're not perfect. But everyone has a chance to rise. In Ortesia, if you aren't a high elf, a drakeling, or a human, then best sign away your life to servitude for any chance at a decent life."
When Lady put it that way, Kanae was beginning to see how similar Artaggon and the Commonwealth was for the people living there. Wait… Charron and Arenade's goals even seemed to align. Then how did they end up hating each other so much?
Their journey neared an end when they saw Highgreen's vine-touched walls and enormous, magical barrier. The dome shimmered for a moment and an opening parted for them to enter through the portcullis. Highgreen soldiers dressed in their verdant gambeson rushed out and formed a path into the city. Someone from a distance blew into a bellowing horn.
Two men marched out of the gate, one of whom Kanae recognized was Margrave Grell. The other was a much taller man, whose skin was charcoal black. His horns were like that of a ram's, thick and curled. He had sharp, pointed ears that sagged in the back from hanging ruby earrings. His long, bountiful hair was curly and bleached white. He even wore the same dark and gilded robes with a weathered mantle, though a little bulkier now with what must be armor underneath.
Kanae's heart was about to jump out of her chest. She was about to meet the Demon Lord Charron, the very man who had put her in this situation and given her so much trouble. Now, however, she needed to make allies with.
Esta emerged from her carriage with her greatsword and greatshield already drawn. Edina, on her undead dragon, landed and kicked up a cloud of dust.
"Whew. I'm all jittery. Anyone else feeling the jitters?" Edina asked, repeatedly slapping her own cheeks.
"So, that's Lord Charron? What a powerful presence…" Esta growled.
The fact that Lord Charron was waiting without any of his demon forces or lieutenants made it all the more daunting. Lady and Minestra remedied that. As the demon army who journeyed with them got down on one knee, the two lieutenants dismounted to join their lord's side.
"Just be cool." Kanae nodded to Esta and Edina, and they returned the same gesture before proceeding.
"Demon Queen Kanae, we meet at last!" Lord Charron's voice was jubilant and prideful, reminiscent of Arenade's haughty drawl. He broke from his group to meet Kanae half-way. However, there wasn't a single chord of recognition in his speech.
This… This bastard didn't recognize her one bit. A seething, bothersome emotion bubbled within Kanae that her companions sensed right away— but were too late to stop her.
"I must say," he continued in a proud manner, "the Commonwealth and her majesty is much more beautiful than the rumors say. Gazing upon you, my eyes have been treated to—"
"This is for turning me into a succubus!" Kanae slapped him across the face.
It was the slap that was heard around the world. Everyone's jaws dropped. Everyone and everything was dead silent. Kanae only snapped to her senses when she saw Lady and Minestra with their jaws hanging and eyes wide open.
Sirens were going off in Kanae's head as a single sentence crossed her mind—
SHIT. I JUST SLAPPED THE DEMON LORD IN FRONT OF EVERYONE!
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! That was, uh…" Kanae trailed off upon realizing that Lord Charron wasn't boiling over with anger at the slap, but that it had appeared to have jogged some memories.
"Wait…" Charron muttered, hand to his stinging cheek and his jaw also agape. "Are you… It can't be… YOU'RE THAT SUCCUBUS?!"