The Meeting. Prequel to the Dark Forge

In the ancient days, for thousands of years, the houses of Nocturna would hold their meetings in the highest tower of realm’s royal palace. In a chamber was always decorated in tasteful carpeting, couches, chairs, with the occasional wooden horse.

Inside this chamber the various houses of Nocturna would biker about whatever was currently important, or what they believed was important enough to warrant a house meeting.

The traditions were executed with extreme care. The only time in which the old ways were ever threatened and the country was thrown into anarchy was two thousand years ago when one young queen had scandalously brought a mug of coffee to one such meeting instead of the local favoured wine. Since then coffee had become the official drink of the meetings.

The only other time that the meetings of the houses had stumbled away from tradition was just five years ago when a small thing called the Fall happened.

Now, instead of holding the meeting in the royal palace surrounded by the wealth of their empire, the meetings of the houses were held in a small hall within the province of a depleted iron mine, located in a different reality.

But while circumstances were not optimal or comfortable for anyone, the succubi were still able to hold true to most of their valued culture.

Queen Portalello Montique Rossan Dé Ghast, the once ruler of Nocturna and still queen of the succubi, finished her tea. Her long regal purple tail easily able to lift the cup to her dark violet lips.

The brew was an expensive blend containing herbs that were not easily procured, but its stimulating effects were still no match to the robust flavour or aroma of a good dose of caffeine.

The tallest woman in her small kingdom, Queen Portalello stood at just over two meters tall, nearly two and a half if you counted her long black horns. She had the body of a fertility goddess, her breasts and curves exaggerated until it looked as though she would cave in on herself.

I do apologise that your condition excludes you from our traditions, Lord Arcade.” Queen Portalello voice was layered with mesmerising tones, her every syllable laced with subliminal manipulation. Men, women, and beasts had been broken with but a whisper.

Gracefully, the queen’s whip-like tail placed her mug onto the table, her appendage still dripping with the sex of her last aid.

All around the table the heads of every surviving house crawled to their seat while pleasant moans of ecstasy sang from the mass of their satisfied aids and servants whom lay scattered across the floor of the hall.

Though the meetings were now held in a rustic hall instead of a glorious palace wing, the houses were still able to summon enough trusted servants to hold a royal orgy. It was just too bad that the guest of honour was unable to participate due to medical reasons.

At the seat opposite to Queen Portalello, a figure dressed in green and yellow leather armour. His suit was so finely crafted that an observer would think that the leather had been dripped onto his lean body like candle wax.

The man’s helmet was a curiosity. It looked as though a plate of black tinted glass covered his every feature, obscuring his identity. On top of the helmet there was a set of cat-like ears.

Despite not being able to see his face due to his ceramic and plastic helmet, Arcade’s body language told the queen that he was clearly depressed, “If I had tear ducts I would be crying.” he said pitifully.

The reigning members of the seventeen surviving houses as well as the queen herself laughed, or at least managed to smirk at Arcade’s pained words.

While Arcade sulked over inability to participate in the long honoured traditions of Nocturna, Queen Portalello admired her dismal surroundings and felt her pride wince in agony.

The hall was made out of dull grey stone, its velvet curtains were out of fashion, and the rug was serviceable but carried none of the cleaning enchantments.

Before the Fall none of the servants, let alone the queen herself, would have been caught dead in such squalor. To invite such an important visitor and ask him to sit in this pitiful dungeon hurt Portalello far deeper than any whip or poisoned dagger could.

It looks as though we will be skipping over the minutes of our last meeting. Let us turn to new business.” Queen Portalello said.

She did not appear rude but with Arcade being unable to leave his armour and enjoy the delights of the Queen’s court it was best to move business along.

Arcade tilted his head up to examine the eighteen naked women in front of him. Some had horns like the queen while others lacked such decoration. One succubus was covered head to toe in snake scales while another had yellow fur.

Small breasts, multiple breasts; tails, claws. There was no two alike. Even their beauty ranged from mind bending gorgeous, to plain and serviceable.

While the other Succubi spoke with something akin to a French mannerism, one succubus, who appeared human but with a dark skinned tone and high cheek bones spoke with what sounded like an Swedish accent, “Before we go on. Lord Arcade, tell us. How were you injured, and why do you need to hide your face from us?”

Fria.” The succubus with the snake scales gasped. Even the queen looked at the dark skinned woman sourly.

The one called Fria held up her finger to stay any complaints, “We have only this man’s word of his identity. And though I do not question Queen Portalello assessment over this man’s real nature, I find myself naked yet he is fully clothed.”

The seventeen members of the houses seemed to give Fria a dirty look as did the queen, but in reality Fria had simply drawn the short straw. The queen could not appear to disrespectful of her visitor, but questions needed to be asked.

It’s cool.” Arcade said. “I had a run in with a corrupted sun elemental. Funny story really. I was being chased by these extra-dimensional slavers because I may have kinda stole their city.”

Anyway, I was running low on juice, so I jumped to another universe, and suckered this arsehole of a corrupted sun elemental into the city’s power source. I got one bastard of a sun burn butI guess that sort of thing happens when you dive right into the heart of a demon sun that runs on the souls of the damned.”

Arcade pointed to himself, “Hence the suit.”

To illustrate this point Arcade held up his hand and the green leather became a living thing, the material retracting back to reveal a corroded appendage.

There were gasps as thick putrid green and black flames ruptured from the remains of Arcade’s hand. Underneath the flames Arcade’s hand looked remarkably normal, he moved his fingers and his flesh remained unharmed.

The succubi held their ears as the screams of tortured souls from alien worlds and through untold generations screamed and wailed in mind tearing pain.

Faces appeared within the fire, creatures born from universes outside their own howled and pleaded for release.

Despite the blaze before them the temperature in the room dropped. Arcade picked up a wine glass and the glass frosted over and suddenly cracked as the foreign flames sucked in the ambient energy in the room.

Instead of heat, a wave of soul breaking despair washed over the room. It penetrated flesh and scorched hope.

In ten thousand different languages, the spirits inside the flame cried out the same agonised sentence, “Help me.”

The fabric engulfed Arcade’s hand the dark fire was once again contained. “Sort of a downer.” Arcade said.

The occupants of the chamber where holding their heads. Even the mound of sex slaves and servants were fully awake, blubbering from the emotional torment. They could feel their hope leave them.

The closet to Arcade held their hearts. There were no tears. The fire had forced away everything, leaving only empty husks.

In that moment the succubi had felt the very fringes of emptiness. They had seen into a hollow shell.

Having lived through centuries in mindless debauchery, throwing themselves into orgies and playing powergames. They had seen how empty their lives were.

Their achievements meant nothing, their nobility were lies that they told themselves to make themselves matter.

With just a simple gesture Arcade had recklessly shattered their egos.

Oh.” Arcade said casually as if he had not obliterated everyone’s will to live. “If you’re wondering about the the screaming people. I sort of teleported into seventeen different underworlds from multiple universes. Turns out, I don’t have what is technically a soul.”

Arcade admired his hand. The souls had seen him as an empty body, their chance at escape from what they had believed was hell.

They had thought demons with pitchforks and being drowned in their own excrement was bad. Arcade had soon enlightened them as to the true nature of suffering.

He got up from his seat and the guards in the room,“So.” Arcade said bluntly and began to move around the table. “Let’s recap. Five years ago. A mad cult drove you from your home by drowning you in custom made monsters that emit sonic attacks and eat magic.”

The succubi shrunk away as their guest got up and walked among them. They had seen what was inside of the monster’s leather shell and they didn’t much like it.

You escaped Nocturna with a little help from an unexpected source.” Arcade said, “The main city was closed off so you think that the monsters are contained within the city. But as the city only took up a small part of Nocturna. By the way, doesn’t it get confusing to have the name of your universe and the name of your city called the same thing?”

Nobody was capable of banter, the court stared off into space, contemplating suicide.

Arcade shrugged, “Anyway. Over the years you have attempted to take back the city with limited results. You later found out that the people who tried to take over Nocturna intended to use illegal gateways to get reinforcements. The people who didn’t initially escape stopped them, but not before a bunch of random dick kings managed to get in and entrench themselves.”

Today, the city of Nocturna was a battleground. Human invaders had taken over several districts, slaving, rapping, and killing everything with a pulse. The very worst of humanity in a crumbling urban jungle. Then there were the real monsters luring in the shadows.

Arcade stopped as he reached Fria, “The High Elves have no intention of helping you. They want Nocturna, and they all want you as sex slaves. Don’t try to bullshit me, they are. The only way that they will help you is if they own you and Nocturna.”

Now that we’ve done the recap,” Arcade said sounding bored that he was the only one contributing to the conversation, “What do you have to offer me to deal with your pest problem?”