The first order of business was flying to Barkwen village. Kanae had recruited Edina, Claudia, and several hands from Ehmvier's adventurer hall for the sunken temple expedition. The elves Shatiel and Jannie, Spellbreaker and Sage respectively, whom Kanae had met years back in Lograin rose to the occasion. Mitty joined as well since his Pathfinder made searching ruins easier than walking around blind.
Kanae had wanted to invite Aisha since a Witch Doctor, whose spell mimicry and potion-making was a powerful tool on the go, but she was too high to even stand. Their party of six, however, should be more than sufficient.
Winter chill from the north had finally reached the southern half of the Commonwealth. Although the sun continued to shine down on them, the climate has grown cold enough to warrant woolen mantles and heavy coats. Kanae forced out the shivers and glanced at the dracolich she, Claudia, and Edina flew beside. Sitting upon its spine were Shatiel and Jannie. Mitty was closer to the head of the skeletal beast.
Kanae flew level to the elven pair, who were huddled together. "Seriously, thanks for coming with us. I'm surprised you girls aren't with Talis though. What happened?"
"Right before the war broke out," Jannie began begrudingly, "Lord Talis received a letter from his family in Radevic to return home. The Peck family are big wigs, so he couldn't exactly tell them no. Shatiel was down with a fever at the time and couldn't go. I stayed behind, and Clara went with him. It was supposed to be a quick trip, but…"
"There's apparently a blockade just north of Lograin, so they can't come back to the Commonwealth. I hope those two are okay… I feel bad. If only I didn't get sick, we would all still be together…" Shatiel frowned.
"Like I said, it's not your fault. Sheesh." She lightly clocked the smaller elven girl on the head.
Shatiel put a hand to her head and looked all teary-eyed at Jannie.
Their party had become among the more well-known adventurers in Ehmvier lately. Shatiel was level 99, and Jannie was level 105. Clara and Talis were around the same ballpark. They also came into some new equipment, too. The Spellbreaker wielded a magical spear that doubled as a focusing element, allowing her to fight in melee and disrupt spells at the same time. The Sage, Jannie, wore a circlet that increased her mana capacity and a bracelet that sapped mana from defeated foes.
"Hey, are we really going to be okay with that succubus around? That's the daughter of the Queen-Mother, right? An enemy of the Commonwealth?" Jannie whispered, shooting a cautious glance at the Mistress of Pain.
"It's fine! Despite how Claudia looks and what her title implies, she's actually really sweet— at… at least when not fighting," Kanae said.
"Barkwen ahead!" Mitty signalled from the head of the dragon.
They descended to the village of goblins, whose inhabitants dropped everything and ran away screaming at the sight of an undead dragon.
"It's the end of the world!"
"I haven't even produced an offspring yet!"
Terra, the sole female goblin of Barkwen and mate to all of the males here, emerged from the largest cabin with a hand to her head. She stuck a foot out and tripped a running goblin.
"That's High Priestess Edina's fucking dragon, ya dolts. Don't run away from Queen Kanae either." Terra groaned. She was helped by a goblin to her side and walked with a cane on her other hand. She had a noticeable bump on her belly.
"This really is a village of goblin cattle! Hilde used to have a pen of these green creatures. She got rid of them because they were too chatty in a bad way," Claudia said.
"Lucky that Hilde. I can't get rid of these blockheads, but you know what? I love 'em all the same, and I love the kids even more." She patted her stomach.
"Aww, congratulations! How far along are you?" Kanae asked.
Terra furrowed her brow in thought for a moment and couldn't seem to remember. Kanae for sure recalled the goblin not appearing pregnant the last time she was here.
"It's gotta be at least a month or two. Elder said I got three or five coming. Pretty sure he put one of 'em in me during a check-up though," Terra said thoughtfully.
Kanae had learned recently that female goblins often underwent a biological phenomenon known as superfetation. While extremely uncommon in other races, it was normal for goblin women to essentially become pregnant while pregnant. Their wombs were designed to carry offsprings at varying stages of gestation, lending to their broodmother status and why the goblin race was so populous.
"Why are all goblins, male and female, so crude…?" Jannie grumbled.
"Heya, goldilocks." A shifty goblin sidled up to her. " Terra's lookin' crowded. Maybe you can spare some room in that spacious womb of yours— yeeeooowch!"
"Ya checkin' out elves now, are ya?" Barkwen's broodmother pinched his ear and yanked him away, then noticed Mitty dismounting from the dracolich. "Who is this delicious hunk of gobmeat? You reek of quality spunk." She nibbled on her lower lip. "Speaking of open womb, I might have space for one more for you! Betcha can put a daughter in me, unlike these bozos."
"Eh? I, uh…" Mitty stammered and sweated profusely despite the cold.
"That goblin is Mitty, and I'm his mate." Kanae glared with simmering fury.
"No, shit? Not to worry, I don't creep on another female's territory. Doubt I can come close to what the succubus queen has to offer anyway! So, watcha doing here? You needing those prissy elven slaves?" she asked.
Kanae gave Terra a quick explanation that they planned to investigate the sunken temple. But before that, she wanted to check on the enslaved high elves left behind in Barkwen. Terra and a few goblins led them to a barn. Inside, black-clad Sisters of Sin who had been sent here to safeguard the village, supervised goblins running train on twelve pregnant high elven women in pillories.
"Aha… haha… I'm pregnant… pregnant with a goblin…"
"More! Ahhh! Fuck me harder with your disgusting dick— ahhh!"
With the anti-succubus magic potions long worn out, they were subjected to the whims of their most hated enemies.
"See, even goblins know the value of high elves! Their taste and succor is second to none!" Claudia guffawed.
Satisfied by their continued suffering, Kanae asked Terra to lead them to the lake again. Lucky for them, the waters were calm today. Three goblin boats were in the middle of harvesting kelp like she suggested they do when the party arrived.
"Maaaan… my fur doesn't agree with cold water…" Edina shivered as she gazed into the lake.
"What are we expecting down there again?" Jannie asked.
"That's what we're here to find out," Kanae said.
Shatiel owned a void bag that they stuffed their extra belongings into without weighing her down.
After getting down to the bare minimum of clothing to swim in, they chugged their potions of water breathing and dove into the bone-chilling lake. The six of them descended until the sunlight began to diminish, at which point Shatiel's spear lit up with a magical glow to illuminate the way. Being able to swim underwater without the eventually burning sensation of suffocation was strange. It felt like a perpetual state of the first second in holding one's breath.
They reached the bottom of the lake, yet the cathedral walls and stain glass windows were still deeply buried in the ground. This thing was sunken alright. Finding a way in was going to be tough, but…
Mitty tapped Kanae on the shoulder and directed their attention to one of the gothic spires. They followed him there to find a hatch on the tower's roof.
That was why Kanae had brought the Pathfinder.
Claudia pushed them out of the way and grapped the handle. She braced her feet against the floor, then pulled. The handle broke off. Everyone stared at her in exasperation while she shrugged apologetically.
When Edina peered into the hole left behind from the broken handle, she recoiled and frantically pointed to it. No one knew what they were seeing. She summoned death knight Cantu, who floated for a moment before sinking like a rock to the bottom of the lake due to his weight. The necromancer herself panicked and swam after him. Kanae put a hand to her face and sighed bubbles out. It didn't matter how many years had gone by and who joined the party, they always had trouble.
If they were going to be defeated by a door and Arenade actually returned to life, they would never hear the end of it from her…
Jannie eventually took initiative and pushed Shatiel to the front. The Spellbreaker waved her spear over it, and an outward pulse of energy and water rippled past them. Something just got dispelled. They finessed the door by jamming the spear blade into the side and prying it open.
They entered the hatch one by one, but as soon as Kanae crossed the threshold, she went into free fall and crashed on the dry floor of a circular office. Strangely, it wasn't filled with water in here.
"Ahhh!" Jannie screamed as she plummeted, followed by Shatiel, Claudia, and Mitty.
Kanae rolled away before being bludgeoned by falling people
"What the… Where did all the water go?" Claudia asked, wringing the water from her hair.
"Ngh…" Shatiel picked herself up and spat out a mouthful of water. "I wasn't able to tell you guys earlier, but this entire cathedral has been etched with magic. The hatch we came through just now had a magical lock on it. There are powerful enchantments on the walls that's keeping the water from penetrating this place."
They glanced up to the hatch where water should be flooding down like a waterfall.
"Whoever built this place wanted to keep the cathedral as pristine as possible. They have to be hiding something important down here." Kanae drew a finger across the desk, disturbing a thin layer of dust.
Edina poked her head through the hatch and fell.
"Shit! AHHHHHHH— oof!" Edina resummoned Cantu and landed on his back.
"Oh, joy. Another ruins for you to plunder." Cantu sighed.
"What about you, Cantu? You've been in No Man's Land for a long time. Do you know anything about this cathedral containing a high elf duke?" Kanae asked, rapping her knuckles on his blackened chestplate.
"No? Not to my knowledge." The death knight tilted his head. "I would have known if such a massive undertaking to build this profane place was going on. Either it was teleported here, or it existed long before I was made necro lord of Necro Tomb #5."
Everyone started with the office they were. Notes on the desk were ramblings about a list of materials best used for the building's construction. Another note mentioned acquiring 'eternal slaves' to power 'dwarven engines'.
That was all the information they were going to get, but it did yield some clues as to the cathedral's origins. Something of dwarven make was down here.
This was only just one of many tower, and they still had the rest of the cathedral to investigate. Instead of splitting up, they decided the best way to tackle this unknown and potentially dangerous ruin was to stick together. A spiral staircase led them down multiple floors to a long and wide corridor. Candles with flickering blue flames, likely powered by magic, rested on sconces.
Shatiel and Jannie gasped. Recesses all along the hallway contained unusual statues in vulgar poses. The one the elven pair were staring at was of a beefy monster holding a woman in the Full Nelson position, its dick fastened firmly in her cunt. Another statue had a woman on her knees giving a blowjob. There were countless others like them.
"Hmm. This would look good in my room." Claudia nodded to herself in front of a statue, depicting a woman being fucked against the wall.
"Magic is radiating from the statues, too! I wonder why." Shatiel got on her toes to peer into the eyes of one.
The deeper they investigated the cathedral, the stranger it became. Motifs of horns above doorways and winged prints on furniture were common. Every single statue and painting they came across were of the erotic variety. Braziers and toches without kindling that should have gone out ages ago crackled gently from their iron nests.
At last, they reached a large set of doors with the image of a familiar woman on it. Strange symbols wreathed the figure.
"What do you think it means?" Shatiel asked in awe of the craftsmanship.
"You can't read it?" Kanae returned the question in surprise.
In fact, both she and Claudia were drawn to it.
"Praise Her," Kanae and Claudia began in unison from left to right, "She whose kiss shall ignite the world in Hellfire. She whose moans bring all beings trembling to their knees. She whose touch is a sweet lover's embrace. Speak Her name and enter."
The woman… Kanae finally remembered.
"I've seen her before! In Hellfire Badlands at Seer Yesenia's keep. I'm pretty sure this is the devil of lust. Ahh… What did Chappy say her name was again? I think it was Satine the Lustful," Kanae said.
Metal hinges screeched. Iron scraped against stone. A burst of air blew past them as the doors opened.
"Wait, Kanae… If this is supposed to be the crypt of Saint whatshisface… What's it doing inside a cathedral obviously dedicated to the devil of lust?" Edina asked.
"I-I wish I knew. The high elves would freak out if this is really Saint Rue's resting place. Maybe it's not?" Kanae wondered aloud.
"No." Claudia took a deep whiff. "I know the prime steak scent of high elf anywhere, just like back at that goblin village's barn. The sanctified body of one is in here. Stale, but it's here."
Once the doors had stopped opening, blue fire lit up the massive worship chamber. Columns and pillars reaching to the ceiling were carved in the likeness of naked, beautiful women. Hundreds wooden seats of ornate make had phalluses protruding from them. They were arranged in four quardrants to form a circle, facing the center where a sarchophagus laid under a column of light.
Shimmering at the foot of the stone coffin was portal— no, not just any portal. It was the unmistakable entrance of a Rift.
"K-Kanae, something's wrong!" Mitty warned.
"What? I don't sense anything," Kanae said.
"Mitty's right!" Shatiel exclaimed, her eyes flicking to the statues around them. "My Magic Hunter senses are telling me mana is flowing into the sculptures!"
Dozens of statues cracked as they broke free from their pedestals and columns. Their movements was giving Kanae flashback to the sex bots from the dwarven forge and foundry.
"Ah, we'll make quick work of them. What's a few blocks of stone?" Claudia flexed her spanking arm until a colossal statue of a busty demon landed before them, crushing scores of seats under its massive feet.
"Intruders detected in Her sanctum. Commencing subjugation through sexual domination before assimilation into dwarven engines," a staticky, feminie voice rumbled.
"You just had to go and open your big mouth!" Edina groaned.
"Okay, that I may have a little trouble with." the Mistress of Pain hastily added.