Sisters of the Mists
Chapter 1

Caution: This Fantasy Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Fa/Fa, Mult, Consensual, Magic, Mind Control, NonConsensual, Rape, Slavery, Lesbian, BiSexual, Heterosexual, Fiction, High Fantasy, BDSM, Rough, Sadistic, Group Sex, Swinging, Anal Sex, Cream Pie, Exhibitionism, Masturbation, Oral Sex, Petting, Sex Toys, Squirting, Voyeurism, Slow,

Desc: Fantasy Sex Story: Chapter 1 - The threat of war looms on the horizon. Terrible prophecies of demonic intrusion in the world appear to be coming true. Few know more about the agents of evil than Danica and her friends. Do they have the power to use that knowledge to stop the growing darkness? The continuation of "Danica". I will add codes as the story progresses.

Danica sat up in bed, sucking in a great gasping breath. Her auburn hair hung in damp ringlets over her face, stirred by blasts of breath as she tried to recover from the shock of her dream.

Throwing off the stifling coverings, Danica found her nightshirt soaked in sweat, clinging to her body like a second skin. Her nipples stiffened in the cool night air, making the garment she wore appear even more transparent.

Danica heard a voice from her doorway, "Was it the dream again?"

Pushing the hair away from her face, Danica nodded slightly, "I'm sorry, Celes — was I projecting again?"

Running a hand through her disheveled raven locks and yawning, Celes responded, "My ears are ringing, and my head is throbbing. Was it worse this time?" She plucked at her nightshirt, the tight material having bunched up above her firm breasts as she slept.

"It was for me," Andrea interrupted, stumbling into the room to stand next to Celes, rubbing her bloodshot eyes. Her blonde hair stuck out wildly in all directions, her lithe body covered only by a pair of white panties and a sheer dressing gown.

"I nearly fell out of bed when it hit me," Marlena added, coming in right behind Andrea. Her nightgown was rumpled, and her dark auburn hair just as mussed as that of the other three women. "I think I hear the girls."

Stretching, causing her breasts to jut free of her dressing gown for a moment, Andrea said, "I'll go calm them down and get them back to sleep."

"I'll go with you," Marlena offered, holding out her hand to the still half-asleep blonde to guide her steps to the other side of the manor.

"I'm sorry, and tell the girls I'm sorry for waking them too," Danica sighed, pulling the chilly, wet cloth of her nightshirt away from her body, as she was breaking out in gooseflesh.

As the two women nodded their understanding to Danica and left the room, Celes walked over to Danica's closet and called back to her friend, "You about hurled me out of bed too. Are you okay?"

Danica waited for Celes to walk back out of the closet, carrying a clean nightshirt and bedclothes, before she responded. "I guess. You're right, it was worse this time. It was so vivid, and I saw them all die — horribly."

Celes sat her bundle down on the edge of the bed and walked up to cup Danica's cheek in her hand. "Come along now; get out of that wet thing and into the bath. I'll change the covers for you."

Swinging her still trembling legs over the edge of the bed, Danica smiled wanly and said, "Thank you, Celes."

Helping Danica to stand, Celes smiled back and led her to the tub, touching the runes to fill it with warm, steaming water. The magic worked in mere moments, and before Danica could even pull her nightshirt over her head, the tub was full.

When the cloth cleared her eyes, Danica found Celes staring with a crooked smile. "That will wake a woman up," Celes purred and licked her lips.

Danica smiled and blushed slightly. "Naughty." Her smile faded then, and she sighed. "Thanks for trying, but I just can't shake that dream, even for that."

Guiding Danica to climb into the bath, Celes sighed as well, and said, "I understand. I'll just have to try harder, later. I don't think this is just a bad dream, Danica. This is twice now."

"You're right, this felt a lot like the dream that led us here. I've got to do something."

Celes handed Danica a washcloth. "Well, you'll have all the help you need. You know we'll all put our studies aside, and one of us will take over with the girls while you get it done."

Danica smiled. "Did I just hear you say, the girls?"

Celes chuckled and tossed her hair, turning away and walking back toward the bed. "Yes, dammit — don't rub it in. You're right, there's far more to them than just being magical creations. I can already see them developing their own personalities, and it's only been three months."

Moving the bundle of bedclothes to a nearby nightstand, Celes stripped the bed while Danica bathed. "Selena disturbs me, though. All she seems to be able to think about are men and their poles. Hearing things like that in my voice, and seeing myself saying them, makes my skin crawl a bit."

Danica reached for a cake of soap to wash her sweat-soaked hair and responded, "Selena was luckier than the rest. The man Zoraster gave her to most often actually treated her well, and apparently thought of her pleasure as well. Your first experience with men and sex was horrible, hers was a lot nicer."

"It's just disconcerting," Celes said, dropping the last of the bedclothes into a pile. "I assumed I was just born this way, and that I was responding to what everyone else thought was right when I played around with boys, more than my own feelings."

"Selena doesn't mean you're wrong, Sara barely thinks about men, but she thinks about women all the time. It's just another example of how they're individuals, not just copies of us." Danica dunked her head then to wet her hair, starting to wash it as soon as she rose back up out of the water.

Celes finished making up the bed while Danica washed her hair. Pulling up a chair next to the tub when she was done, Celes asked, "So, what are you going to do?"

Danica concentrated for a moment before replying, "Tonda, Jaron, Rekhmire, and Tari are the ones who are in the most danger. I can't be sure that Zoraster didn't tell others about them, and they're living in his outposts. I think everyone else should be pretty safe, either because they can handle themselves, or because they're already hidden away like Carolyn, Heather, and Grant."

Celes nodded. "Sounds about right. So, go get them first thing in the morning. Just get them out of those places for now, and worry about where to set them up later. Maybe we'll all get some sleep again, that way."

"Speaking of sleep — the girls are all asleep again, and so is Andrea," Marlena said as she walked back into the room. "I don't know how Andrea can sing so beautifully when she can barely stand upright because she's so tired. She sang a lullaby, and I made an illusion of a glade full of deer. Once the girls drifted off, I took Andrea to bed."

"Andrea is really working hard to learn about her powers. She's afraid of hurting someone with them," Celes offered.

Danica stood up and smoothed water off her body. "She's doing pretty well too. How are you coming along with controlling your powers, Celes?"

Celes smiled and turned toward a towel hanging near the tub. She concentrated and made a little gesture with her right hand. An instant later, the towel was in her left hand.

Danica took the towel and said, "I guess you're doing well with controlling your powers too. Better than I am, obviously, if I woke everyone up because of my dream."

Celes made a dismissive sound. "I have that one pretty much under control, but when I just try to just move something with my other power, I usually end up making a mess. Of course, that makes me mad, and I usually end up moving something else I didn't mean to move and add to the devastation."

Marlena yawned and stretched. "I'm going back to bed too. We've all been working hard. I think we need to take a break and relax for a while."

Danica finished toweling off and turned toward the other red-haired woman. "You're probably right. Between Celes and Andrea getting their family books, and the two of us having Zoraster's library to absorb, we've all had our noses stuck in books for three months now."

"The only breaks we take are to keep the girls out of trouble," Celes agreed.

Marlena glanced at Celes with a surprised smile, and then turned toward Danica to ask, "Did she just say what I thought she did?"

Celes snorted and went to sit down on the bed. "Bah, weren't you going to bed?"

Danica chuckled, "Celes has finally come around, yes. We should all probably get back to bed. I know I'm going to be busy tomorrow. Sorry for waking you all, and thanks for coming to calm me down. I really appreciate it."

Marlena asked, "Busy?"

"I'll explain to you and Andrea in the morning." Danica yawned, setting off a chain-reaction in the other two women as well. Danica yawned out "Stop that!"

"You started it," Marlena accused, getting caught up one more time in the circle and stretching. "Good night."

Celes watched Danica pull on her clean nightshirt, feeling her heart flutter and her sex tingle. "We've been too busy for other things, too."

Danica shivered and walked over to Celes, kissing her. "We definitely need to do something about that." She sighed, ran her finger down Celes' back, and added, "I don't know if I'm up to it tonight though."

"Truth to tell, I think I'm too tired too. I didn't go to bed much before Andrea."

They kissed again, and Danica said, "Get some rest then, we want to have plenty of energy when we do get a chance."

"Mmm hmm," Celes moaned and then left the room for her own bed.

Danica's dreams were much more pleasant when she drifted off to sleep again.

Standing in the throne room of Nightmare Castle, Ebonar brushed at a spot of imaginary lint on his cloak and asked, "So, Meckataur, this seals the bargain? I can count on you to continue under exactly the same terms as the agreement you reached with my Master?"

"If you hold up your end of the bargain, and this one casts the spell," the Demon Lord rumbled, pointing an enormous clawed finger at the wizard standing off to one side.

"Cast the Hellgate, Transk."

The wizard Transk nodded, and started the gestures to summon up the Hellgate. As soon as the portal materialized, Meckataur's maw split into a wide, frightening smile. "Enter, and bring your servants to the portal."

Transk glanced at Ebonar, who narrowed his eyes and nodded in irritation. The wizard glanced again at the Demon, and then the portal, before turning back to Ebonar, finding his master's eyes growing harder by the moment.

Swallowing hard, Transk stepped into the portal and summoned forth the demonic denizens of his personal realm. In the form of buxom women, they stepped from their hiding places and approached him, licking their lips and shedding clothing. Resisting the considerable temptation, Transk led the dangerous creatures to stand in front of the portal.

Upon reaching the portal, the looming form of the chanting Demon Lord filled Transk's vision. The creature finished its chant, and Transk felt a ripple pass through the dimensional pocket in which he stood. Panicking, he tried to close the portal, and found he could not. Trying to stumble away from the hulking form of the Hellspawn, he found that he was paralyzed as well.

Two extra arms sprouted with a horrible cracking and tearing sound from Meckataur's torso. Flexing his new fingers, the Devil snapped them through the portal to grasp all four of the demons cloaked in woman's flesh, pulling them up against the portal, through which they could not pass.

Sweat stood out on Transk's forehead as the wizard fought against the magic holding him. When Meckataur's eyes fell on him, the doomed wizard poured every ounce of his will into breaking the Devil's magic, to no avail.

Meckataur opened his maw wide, pushing through the portal to snap his jaws closed over the wizard's head. High-pitched screams erupted from the demons in Meckataur's grasp, and the creatures reverted to their natural forms as they writhed. The Demon Lord growled in satisfaction as the wizard's life force surged into him, and he felt the man's body go limp as it hung from his jaws.

The portal started to quiver and emit an ominous hum. Meckataur could see the world within losing substance, breaking apart. With a surge of power, he jerked the four demons and the wizard back through the portal into the real world. The portal collapsed in on itself, radiating bolts of black lightning from all that remained — a spot about the size of an apple.

The Devil stiffened as the black bolts struck him, turning three of the demons in his grasp to ash. The fourth smoked and writhed before going limp, but did not disintegrate. At last, the portal vanished with a loud pop, staggering Meckataur back a step with the force of its implosion.

Letting the mangled wizard fall from his mouth, Meckataur snarled, "Bring the Fey." Dropping the remaining demon to the floor, Meckataur turned his attention to devouring what remained of the dead wizard.

Arleen, Meckataur's wizardess servant, towed an unconscious young elven woman toward the Devil on a magical disk of light in response to his order. She reached him just as he finished his grisly feast, and the Demon Lord picked up the limp form of the other demon when he noticed her.

Grasping the demon's hand, Meckataur squeezed the claws together with pops of snapping bone into a dagger-like point. He then smiled, the wizard's blood dripping from his fangs, and thrust the demon's claws into the elven woman's breast.

The elf female stiffened for just an instant as she died, even as the demon started twitching from her life force flowing through it. Steadily, the minor hellspawn recovered and stood, immediately devouring the woman as soon as it was able.

Meckataur's tongue slid over his teeth as he watched the other demon feed. The Devil would have preferred to devour the elf maiden himself, but he knew that only the life force of a virgin Fey had any hope of keeping his new servant alive outside the place of its spawning. Likewise, that life force should give the creature a power Meckataur desired very much, should Ebonar's suggestion prove true.

Thin and almost human looking, the feasting demon was a sharp contrast to the hulking Demon Lord that stood over it. It was the first of its kind to be torn from a Hellgate, the first to taste blood. The creature had lived on siphoned emotions since the moment it was spawned, but now it knew what a true banquet was.

The smaller demon finished its meal, going so far as to lick the blood from the magical disk until no evidence whatsoever of the elf woman's existence remained. As it raised its head and growled in satisfaction, Meckataur placed a huge hand on its shoulder and turned it.

"I am Meckataur, and you serve me now," The Demon Lord said in the dark guttural language of the underworld.

Sensing the immense power of the Devil, though it had never before encountered one, the smaller demon prostrated itself before Meckataur. "I am C'seka, Lord, and I will serve you willingly for eternity for more of these."

"Blood and life of mortals you shall have, if you serve me well. Oblivion awaits you for failure."

Ebonar interrupted, "I trust our bargain is sealed?"

Meckataur sniffed the air, searching for the slightest hint that this man who claimed to speak with Zoraster's voice felt fear. He found none. Only one other mortal had stood before him unafraid, and that was Zoraster Arias. It was both threatening and fascinating to the Devil at the same time.

"My hordes will rise up when the time comes. The bargain is sealed, Mortal."

Ebonar bowed and smiled. "I will leave you to your entertainments, then, Demon Lord."

With those words, Ebonar vanished in a flash of light; again giving Meckataur reason to be both impressed and wary of the man, for few could have teleported through the wards surrounding his fell castle.

"I do not trust that one," Arleen warned.

"I trust no mortal," Meckataur rumbled. "Tend to my spawn. The time draws near when they will come into their power. Inform me immediately when one transcends the barrier of their birth flesh."

Arleen bowed. "Of course, my Lord and Evil Master."

"My hordes will rise up, and once your enemies have been destroyed, so shall you, mortal. This world will be mine." Meckataur's thunderous, guttural laughter filled the crumbling Great Hall of Nightmare Castle.

Danica was the first to rise, anxiety to rescue those she had come to love awakening her early. The smell of coffee brewing and bacon sizzling drew the other three women from their beds shortly thereafter. Once fully awake and fed, they all turned to the task of preparing breakfast for the dozen clones they referred to as the girls. Six clones of Danica, and two each of the other three women, all dozed contentedly on the other side of the manor.

The four surrogate mothers left the clones to their meal, and the playtime that always followed, returning to the common room to talk while monitoring the girls by magical means. All things considered, the clones behaved well and needed little tending.

"Okay, now Marlena and Andrea know what you plan to do today. So, have you thought of a place to move them?"

Danica nodded. "Tonda and Jaron could live with the natives on Darkni's island. The culture and climate are similar, and neither of them has family tying them to their homeland. They could be happy there with each other, and they would certainly be well protected."

"Good idea. I doubt even Zoraster would have dared cross Darkniciad," Marlena observed.

"I don't think there is anyone Zoraster feared — even his former mentor and teacher," Celes said quietly.

Andrea furrowed her brow and spoke, "I can't believe that there was such darkness in him. He always seemed so noble and confident when I spoke with him."

"We knew his other side — all too well — Andrea. He was mad and power-hungry," Danica said while shaking her head slowly. "The world is far better off with him dead. I think I'll move Rekhmire and Hathortari to the center of power. I think I can call in a favor with the Pharaoh, their King, through his sons. The population should be enough to mask them from Zoraster's minions. He was just starting to explore that area when he sent me there. I doubt he would have had much time to bother using magical means to track servants, regardless of my relationship with them. I saw no evidence of it in his memories at the end, at least."

"Sounds like you have it all worked out, then," Celes said and rose, "I'll watch the girls this morning."

"Did she just say, the girls?" Andrea asked with amusement.

Celes rolled her eyes and sighed, "Good, now you all have that out of your systems. You were all right, and I was being stubborn. It was Sara that convinced me. She saw me distraught and lost in thought, and just walked up and hugged me. I'd have never done that, but I could sense real concern coming from her. They're just as real as you or I, and I'm sorry I didn't see it before."

Danica stood and hugged her friend. "It's probably just as well. What would have happened if Zoraster could have used Sara and Selena against you, like he used Danielle and the others against me? The way you thought of them as little more than magic items protected you from being so powerfully influenced by them."

Celes hugged Danica back, and then said, "Well, it's time to get to know them, now."

Andrea nodded toward the viewing portal that let them all watch the clones at play from the other side of the manor. "You'd better get over there, it looks like Angela and Mariette are about to sneak off into a room together. They've got to learn to control those urges, especially if they end up having powers."

Celes sighed and shook her head, watching the clones of Andrea and Marlena quickly progressing toward intimate touches. "You're right. Danica's girls, at least, are already starting to use telekinesis unconsciously. If the others develop witch powers, they'll need to learn to control their emotions. We're having enough trouble, without having to learn our own abilities and teach them to control theirs at the same time."

"I should get back to practicing. I'm still setting fire to everything when I try to control that power," Andrea said as she rose from her chair.

"You should get into bed and rest for a while, is what you should do. You look like one of the walking dead, and that can't be helping you cope with your powers," Marlena scolded.

Andrea ran a hand over her face, "Do I really look that bad?"

Danica shrugged and said, "You do look moderately dreadful. I think Marlena's right — you should get more rest. It's almost your time of the month too, and I don't think that would be the best time to be experimenting with your powers much."

"We don't want a repeat of last month's great stew freezing," Celes teased and hurried out of the room to separate the two increasingly amorous clones.

Andrea sighed, "You're right, I feel horrible. You won't let me sleep too late, will you?"

"I'll need your help with lunch, so I can't let you sleep too long," Marlena explained.

"Okay, I'm going back to bed then. I'll see you when you get home, Danica."

"I probably won't be back tonight; I'm going to have to travel to the central city by normal means. I've never been there, and it would probably take almost as long to find it with the Hellgate as it would just to go."

Andrea paused and hugged Danica before going to her room. "Be careful, and call if you need help. If I can freeze a whole kitchen full of stew, I can certainly do some damage to anyone trying to hurt you."

"I will. Go get some rest." Turning to Marlena then, Danica said, "I'm going to go get ready. Try to keep things under control around here, Marlena."

"I will — it makes me feel useful."

Danica nodded and smiled, but she sighed inwardly as she turned toward her room. Marlena always downplayed her abilities, and constantly thought that she was just an inconvenience to the other women, with their varied magical abilities. The illusionist truly had no idea just how powerful she was, and Danica had no idea how to convince her otherwise.

Danica was packed and ready to go only a short while later. She dressed in a sarong and light top, knowing it was going to be hot and sticky when she arrived on the island to pick up Jaron and Tonda in a few moments. Turning to a mirror, she twitched her eyebrows and posed, admiring her body in the reflective surface. The native costume of Tonda's people certainly looked good on her.

She licked her lips and remembered Celes' observation that none of them had found the time to be with each other since coming to the valley. Thoughts of Jaron and Tonda quickly built a fire of desire within Danica, and she was caressing her nether lips through the sarong before she even realized what she was doing.

Snapping out of her thoughts, Danica pulled her hand away from her sex and sighed. The girls weren't the only ones that needed to learn how to control their urges. Danica had the additional problem that she inspired the same sort of feelings in others — thanks to the Awakening — so her sexual desires carried twice as many implications as those of the clones. When she was studying, as she had been for months now, it was easy to ignore. As soon as she pulled her bottom out of a chair and her nose out of a book, it was much more difficult.

Casting the Hellgate spell, Danica knew it would be painfully hard to resist giving in once she saw Jaron and Tonda. She decided she was going to pour every ounce of her will into not tumbling into bed with the couple the moment she saw them.

Stepping into the portal, she shook her head and laughed when the thought that even failing to achieve that goal was hardly an unwelcome prospect. It would be nice if every decision I made led to good things, no matter what I end up doing.

The portal closed as Danica stepped inside, emerging a moment later near the waterfall on the island where Tonda lived.

C'seka's head came up, pointed ears pricking to the wind and nostrils flaring. The sensation was not physical in nature, but the creature's body reacted unconsciously to the touch. The demon cocked its head to the side as if listening, waiting to see if the sensation returned.


The touch the creature had felt was not the blood of a Fey calling to it, the power that had washed over C'seka while consuming the elf maiden — it was something different. The feeling was similar to when the wizard had opened the Hellgate that was the demon's original home, but carried a different scent — a different taste — if a feeling could be said to have such.

C'seka returned to exploring the castle, curious about this large new world in which it now lived.

Meckataur watched the light leave the elven warrior's eyes, even as his blood flowed down the Devil's arm. The Fey's life force flowed grudgingly into Meckataur's body, infusing him with power and ecstasy.

When at last the flow of power ceased, Meckataur examined the corpse, tearing away the loose fitting, grit filled clothing from the elf's body. The elf had deeply sun-browned skin, tough as leather, and dark hair, so uncommon amongst most of the hated race.

A desert Fey. Is there no place that is not infested with the vermin? No matter, more to feast upon, more souls to rend for eternity.

The demon examined what few fleeting impressions it was able to absorb from the dying elf, those not protected by the frustrating ability the Fey had to hide their thoughts. He had enough — he now knew where these desert dwelling elves lived. The lifeforce was uniquely flavorful, and a quick taste confirmed that the Fey's blood was equally sweet on his tongue.

Meckataur found no evidence of Fey magic in his stolen memories. That didn't mean it did not exist, but the knowledge that it was obviously not commonplace caused the Devil to chuckle. If these Fey lack magic, they will be ripe for the harvest.

Vanishing in a crackle of flame with the elf's body, Meckataur reappeared in Nightmare castle, immediately savoring a bite of his prize. The demon's mind whirled as it considered the best means to exploit his new knowledge, and cause pain to the Fey gods.

It took Danica a while to get to the point of her visit. Once she arrived at Tonda's house, the woman's pregnancy and catching up took precedence. Danica exercised phenomenal control by suppressing her considerable sexual urges, and eventually managed to get around to telling the couple why she was there.

Tonda asked, "But will not someone else be in danger, then?"

"Not really. Whoever stepped into Zoraster's place will need people tending his outposts, and maltreating them just defeats the purpose. The danger to the two..." Danica paused and corrected the statement with a smile, "The danger to the three of you is me. I escaped, and whoever took up the reins of Zoraster's schemes might try to use you against me."

"You say this place of which you speak will be safe for our child?" Jaron asked, placing his hand over Tonda's swollen tummy.

"If anywhere in the world will be safe, it will be Darkni's island. The climate is nearly identical to yours, and the people who live on the island are a lot like your people here — except the wizards, of course. They don't bother the natives of the island, except to protect and trade with them."

Jaron's brow furrowed in concentration as Danica spoke of the island. When she finished, he asked, "Might your enemies not use our people to threaten us, and thus to threaten you, should we leave?"

Danica shook her head. "If they were going to go to that much trouble, there are others who would be just as easy to reach, and doing something like that could upset their plans in this area. Zoraster's only interest in your island was the necromancy your people once practiced, which he has now, and the gold on the other side of the island. This place will probably be nothing more than a waypoint for his minions now, and they might even decide to move the outpost to the miner's camp."

Tonda turned to her husband, caressing his strong chin as she spoke, "I think we should go and at least see this place. The men of the black wizard were rude and loathsome, but I never felt as though I was in any danger here. I believe Danica is correct."

"We will see this place then," Jaron agreed, smoothing back Tonda's dark, kinky curls and kissing her as he finished.

"Let me cast my spell then, and we'll go right now," Danica said with obvious relief in her voice. A few moments later, they stepped through the portal to appear on Darkniciad's island.

The touch was stronger this time, and the same as the first. C'seka had felt other similar sensations, but this one had the same taste as the first it had felt. Ever mischievous and curious, the demon was now more so upon being torn free of its birthplace into the wider world.

The demon sensed the origin of the sensation was female, and it could feel hazy impressions that others of its kind were nearby as well. A female uses the Hellgate spell, then, the creature thought.

C'seka hunkered down in the remote alcove it had chosen as its place in the castle, to consider how it might exploit this new knowledge, and this new power.

"Welcome, Danica," Darkniciad exclaimed as he walked into the Hall of Gates, as the room where those who were allowed to teleport to his island was known. "All goes well, I trust?"

"Hello, Darkni. Everything is fine. The girls are all learning fast, and so are we." Raising their hands, which she still held, in turn, Danica introduced her two companions.

After a few gestures, Darkni spoke in the couple's native tongue, "Any who share friendship with Danica are always welcome on my island."

Confusion as to how they should respond raced through Tonda and Jaron's minds, the thoughts so strong that Danica heard them without trying. She chuckled and said, "No need to stand on ceremony. Darkniciad is just a man."

"And a silly old one, if you ask my wife," Darkni added, laughing as well. "What brings you to the island, Danica?"

Danica explained the situation, which served to darken the Master Wizard's expression. "I believe your thoughts are well-considered. Someone has indeed stepped into Zoraster's place, and his dark plans move forward." Letting the concern drain from his face, Darkniciad turned to the couple and said, "Please, allow me to introduce you to the chieftain of the people here. I believe you will find them much like your own people, and welcoming of strangers."

"Thank you, great wizard," Tonda said with a little bow of her head.

Darkni waved a hand dismissively. "Please, Darkni will suffice. I get enough of that Master and great wizard nonsense from my students. It seems to take forever to break them of it. Even your sister still does it, Danica."

"I knew my ears were burning for a reason."

Danica turned to see her sister in the doorway of the Hall, and immediately hurried to hug Devan. "It's good to see you!"

"It's good to see you too, Danica. I'll go with you to the village, and we can talk while we walk."

"I'd like that. This is Jaron, and Tonda," Danica introduced.

Devan winked. "I heard. I've been standing in the doorway almost since you arrived. You didn't really think you could sneak out of that valley and come here without your sister knowing about it, did you?" Turning to the couple, she said, "I'm Danica's big sister, Devan."

"Beauty graces all your line, it appears," Tonda remarked.

"Thank you — and you're right," Devan responded with a toss of her hair and a laugh. "It looks like you may be starting a line of beautiful people there," she added, gesturing to Tonda's tummy.

"Very soon, I believe. It grows harder to get around each day, and the child kicks unmercifully."

Let me guess, you've had the privilege of seeing both of them with those skimpy clothes off, haven't you? Nice outfit, by the way, Sis.

Yes — and behave, Devan, Danica thought back to her sister.

"Shall we go then?" Darkniciad asked.

Everyone nodded, and the group made their way through the halls of Darkni's school, and out into the tropical lushness of his isle.

The small group of demonic minions gathered before Meckataur were not his most powerful, but they were some of his most cunning. They lay prostrate before him, groveling at his clawed feet, but the Demon Lord knew it was only because of his vast power that the creatures put on such airs.

"Rise — we go to curse the Fey," Meckataur ordered, and the creatures immediately sprang to their feet.

Speaking harsh words of magic, the Devil transported himself and his minions to the remote desert near where the newfound elves dwelt. "Remain hidden. Learn of their numbers, and their magic. Touch none of the Fey unless I give you leave," Meckataur commanded.

The demons all quietly growled — disappointed that they would not be allowed to attack the elves, which they hated just as much as their Master did. Offering a toothy grin, Meckataur placated them by saying, "Serve me well, and you shall have fine morsels of their flesh and souls, when the time comes."

Hisses of dark pleasure greeted that statement.

"Go," Meckataur commanded, and then vanished in a burst of flame.

"Okay, this is ridiculous," Devan grumbled, wiping sweat from her brow. She then spoke words of magic and surrounded her body with a cocoon of cool air. "I had no idea it was this hot outside the school. I know why you're half naked now, Danica."

Darkniciad chuckled, "You're getting soft, Devan. I remember a time when a little hot weather didn't trouble you."

"I was getting soft — I was melting. How much farther is the village?"

"Not much further," Darkniciad advised, "We should break free of the trees shortly."

"This is much like our island," Tonda observed, looking around as Jaron aided her waddling steps along the narrow jungle trail.

"I often find it fascinating to discover such similar places, so far apart. Your language differs from that of those who dwell here, but I would guess that you will still be able to understand much of their speech. I believe I have magical means to hasten your understanding, but I have yet to have the opportunity to try it." Darkni gestured with his staff then, "There, you can see the jungle opening up."

A few steps later, they stepped out of the trees to see a village nearly identical to Jaron and Tonda's, right on a pristine, white sand beach. The couple turned and smiled at each other, glad to see that their lives would change little, should they choose to live here.

Darkniciad led the group to a slightly larger home near the center of the village, locals greeting him as they passed. The people were obviously curious about Tonda and Jaron, a few greeting them as well. The couple found that, while the language was different, they did indeed understand the general meaning of much that was said to them.

They were admitted to the chieftain's house with smiles, and greeted warmly by the man's wife. After a brief introduction and explanation, Darkniciad asked if he might attempt his new magic, which should help the couple learn the differences between the two languages. The chieftain agreed, and Darkni worked his Art.

The chieftain asked, "Are my words now clear to you?"

Jaron and Tonda both looked at each other and smiled. They turned to the chieftain and Tonda said, "Yes, it is quite remarkable. I understand everything now."

"Then I shall now welcome you to our village properly. We would be pleased to have you as one of our people, should you choose to stay."

Danica asked, "So, what do you think? I'd really feel better knowing you were here and safe, but you have to be comfortable with the decision."

"If you believe that our child will be safer here, then we will come," Jaron responded.

"He speaks with my heart as well, Danica. There are still many dark memories of the Nameless Ones on our island. We will come," Tonda added.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Danica smiled and said, "Let's go get your things, then."

"You may rest at the school if you wish, until a dwelling has been constructed for you," Darkni offered. "In fact, I would very much like the time to speak with you Tonda. What you know of Zoraster's servants could be valuable in combating his plans."

The chieftain's wife whispered to him, and he turned to Tonda to say, "My wife will attend you when you return. All in the village seek her out when it comes time to birth a babe, for her knowledge of the miracle is great. She can aid you in the time until the miracle as well."

"Thank you for making us feel so welcome," Tonda said with a slight bow.

The chieftain bowed back. "It will be enlightening to see how your customs differ from ours. Perhaps our people may be stronger for your coming. I believe all things happen for a reason."

"You do plan to at least visit for a while, don't you Danica?" Devan asked.

"I can stay for a while, but I'm worried about others too. I won't be able to relax until they're safe," Danica replied.

"Okay then, but you can't hide out in your picky valley forever, and I miss you," Devan chided.

Danica hugged her sister. "I promise I'll come spend at least a night with you once Tari and Rekhmire are safe."

Once they stepped back from the hug, Devan made a shooing gesture and said, "Well, hurry up then."

Danica laughed, and then asked for permission to cast her spell. When the chieftain gave her leave, she summoned up the Hellgate. Jaron and Tonda followed her in to gather up their things in preparation to move.

As they walked back to the school, Darkniciad said to Devan, "You seem troubled."

Devan sighed. "I don't want to get into it. My life just feels like a lie whenever I look at Danica."

"Now the tables are turned, and you feel inferior next to your sister?"

Devan chuckled, "You know me too well, Darkni. I spent my whole life avoiding attachments, but seeing Danica and all the people who love her, I know now that I was only convincing myself that I was happy."

"You can find your path, just as she did," Darkniciad said, laying a hand on Devan's shoulder as they walked.

Tears misting her eyes, Devan replied, "I hope you're right."

C'seka's head came up and the demon turned toward the North. Then almost immediately, it turned toward the East. The same sensation again, the same woman using the Hellgate. A woman of power, one whom its kind within her gate feared.

Clicking its claws together, C'seka pondered this development. Meckataur would be pleased with this growing power, should C'seka reveal it the Devil. Perhaps that was the path to power. The demon found that each time someone used the Hellgate spell, it knew about it. Whenever one used it more than once, the connection to them grew stronger.

There was something else, a great hunger gnawing in the demon's belly. It could sense that the means to sate that hunger lay within this new ability. Hunkering down, easing back farther into the shadows, C'seka continued to explore the possibilities, a toothy grin of anticipation breaking across the creature's face.

Celes sat watching the girls at play, amazed by how quickly they were maturing. In only three months, they were advancing from wild abandon to sophisticated games. They were quickly learning to read, and proving to be just as interested in learning as the women from whom they were cloned.

Sensing someone entering the room, Celes turned to find Andrea walking in. "You look a lot better."

"I guess I really did need the rest," Andrea remarked and laughed.

"No, over there," one of the girls called out. It was the young clone of Danica, called Danielle.

"Okay, sorry," another clone of Danica named Damika said, and moved to the place her sibling indicated.

"Danielle there seems to be running the roost. It's a little odd to see the youngest of them, at least in appearance, taking charge," Celes remarked.

Andrea stifled a laugh and nodded slightly in one of her clone's direction, kneeling down to whisper to Celes, "Angela doesn't seem to like it much. She used to be at Danielle's side all the time. I wonder what happened."

"I get the feeing it's a bit of a lover's spat. Their relationships are getting more complicated as they learn. They really are different people from us. I can't believe I never saw it before. Danica's girls, other than Danielle, seem to be holding on to their childhood the strongest."

Andrea watched the girls start their game, whispering to Celes, "I think they were treated far worse than the others, and Danica had her own problems to work through, too. I hope Danica is okay."

Celes nodded. "Me too, but I'm sure she's fine. She'll probably brighten up once she's taken care of hiding away the people who have been in her nightmares."

"I've been having dreams too. Nothing frightening, but they keep happening."

Celes turned toward Andrea, raising her eyebrows in curiosity. "Dreams about what?"

"They're all about nature, and I feel like it's a special time of the year in each one. It's never the same, or in the same place, but those two things are constant," Andrea explained.

"I've been having almost the same dreams. I didn't pay much mind to it, but now that you've pointed out the connections, I see where mine all fit with yours. I think we'd better talk with Marlena, and we all better start telling each other our dreams from now on."

"Do you think someone is manipulating our dreams?"

"I don't know. Maybe something is trying to guide us, like the dreams that brought us here. Except for Danica's nightmares, nothing seems dangerous about them. Let's go talk to Marlena." Clapping her hands, Celes said, "You girls behave. We need to go talk to Marlena for a while. Wash up for supper as soon as you're done playing."

The dozen clones all called out their acknowledgement, and then returned to their game. Celes gestured toward the door. "We need to get started on supper, anyhow. Without Danica here, it's going to take a while. We can talk while we cook."

As soon as their things were stored away, Tonda and Jaron immediately returned to the village. They felt more comfortable there, and wanted to help in constructing their new home. They would sleep at the school for a few days, but they planned to spend their days in the familiar setting.

Danica was proud of herself for resisting her primal urges, but the couple's excitement about the move distracting them from such thoughts actually had more to do with it than Danica's willpower. After saying her goodbyes, Danica took a walk around the school with her sister.

The size of the school stunned Danica. On her previous visit, she had been too busy to pay attention to just how many people studied here, or how extensive the place was. It was every bit as marvelous as Zoraster's complex, and a far friendlier place. Beyond the main complex, many of the senior workers of Art also had their own places on the isle. Marvelous towers sprouted like a forest beyond the school, each one unique.

Looking out a window at the homes and towers, Danica asked, "Do you have your own place here?"

Devan shook her head. "Not really. I have my own room, when I need it, but it's not much more than I had as an apprentice when I first moved to Destindale. I sort of unofficially took over Darkni's old tower in Egoria, and people more or less call it Devan's tower now. I've made it my own with Darkni's blessing. I need more than shop talk to survive, and it's nice to be a few flights of stairs away from a bustling capital that goes all night."

Noticing that Devan had a distant expression, Danica asked her, "Are you okay? Actually — what's wrong? I can already tell that something's wrong."

Devan's chuckle had a harsh edge. "Since you popped back in here, I've just been staring into a mirror, and I'm not liking my reflection much."

Her brow furrowing, Danica took her sister's hand and said, "I don't understand."

Holding up the hand that Danica clasped, Devan sighed and explained, "Things just like this. I used to care. I used to reach out. It was a long time ago, but I'm starting to remember it. I also know that I smothered that part of me on purpose, for a lot of reasons. After a while, I got so used to it that I didn't even have to suppress the urge to do things like offer a kind word, or a hug..."

"Serhan." Danica pulled Devan's hand to her lips and kissed it after saying the name.

Devan raised her eyebrows. "Serhan — there's a name I haven't heard in a long time. What do you mean, though?"

"That's when you started pulling away. It's when you pulled away actually; there was no start to it. The change was almost overnight. You hid it pretty well from Mom and Dad, but I saw it."

"I didn't think I really started fighting it until I moved," Devan mused. "Did I really change that much after..." She paused for a moment then, growling and squeezing Danica's hand. "Okay, maybe that hit me harder than I remembered. Just the thought of him makes me want to go find him and disintegrate him."

"You were in love with him, and he used you." Danica stroked Devan's arm, squeezing the hand she still held comfortingly at the same time.

"And the way I dealt with it was to become just like him," Devan lamented, closing her eyes and sighing.

Danica's voice took on a chiding edge, "You were never anything like him. He hurt people, Devan. It was probably him who tried to rape me, and I know that I wasn't the last. The last I heard, he'd been in jail for years. They caught him raping a blind girl."

"But all I've cared about for years is power. I used people to advance my magic. I used people for sex. I used people to enhance my reputation." Devan hung her head, shaking it sadly.

Leaning down to look up at Devan, Danica said, "You didn't try to hide it, though. Everyone knew that everything you did was for you. You never pretended to love anyone, or used your magic to make them do things that they didn't want to do. You never hurt anyone to get what you wanted."

"Does knowing that you're being used make it any better?"

"Well, no, but at least they had a choice. They did what they did because they were getting something they wanted, too. They knew what they were getting into."

Tears rolled down Devan's cheeks. It was the first time in over a decade that Danica could remember seeing her sister cry. Danica's eyes welled up too, and she wrapped her arms around Devan, leaning her head on her sister's shoulder.

"It was so much easier being cold and hard."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you cry," Danica softly said, kissing Devan's cheek.

Devan sniffled and then laughed. "No, it's okay. That's my problem; I'm always looking for the easy way out. I'm lazy, Danica. I never had a problem with boys or magic, and I just got lazy. Once I figured out how to use my body and my magic to make everything else easier, I didn't waste any time looking for another way."

Taking Danica's hands, Devan spun until they were facing each other at arm's length. "Look at you. You've worked hard for everything all your life, and now it's paying off. From what I've heard, and what you've told me, I don't know if I'd want to cross spells with you any more. You have friends and lovers that want to be with you — for you — not just for your body."

Danica started to respond, but Devan smiled through her tears and shushed her sister before continuing, "I have power, and respect, but that's it. You have that now too, and everything else I ever wanted before I locked those needs up in my heart and froze it solid."

"I would still be scraping for a meager existence in Destindale, if Zoraster hadn't lured me in and enslaved me. I had my own problems, and I didn't really do anything to fix them. It was all forced on me."

"You certainly fixed the problem of Zoraster," Devan chuckled in response. "Okay, enough of this. Maybe you're what is supposed to force me out of my rut, to do something different with myself too. Right now, I need to think, and I'm not ready just yet to have anybody wandering through the halls see me blubbering like a heartsick teenager."

Danica leaned in to hug her sister tight. "I should really get going. I have a long, hot, dry journey ahead of me."

"Go on then, and don't hesitate to call if you need me. You were still making a bad habit of not doing that, the last time I checked."

"And you were still a smartass, the last time I checked."

Flipping her hair, Devan smiled and said, "That's never changing."

"I never realized how much we leaned on Danica in the kitchen," Marlena commented as she wiped her brow, while stirring a pot of stew.

"Well, we'll all just have to make due with a few simpler meals until she gets back, or we need to start planning earlier," Andrea said in agreement. "We just don't have her ability to come up with ideas on a moment's notice."

Celes concentrated on the last blackened loaf, teleporting it with her power outside the manor. "Or her innate sense of when the bread is done, as opposed to burning. I managed to save enough for us all to have some — I think."

Andrea lifted her spoon and took a taste, closing one eye for a moment as she let the flavor swirl over her tongue. She then frowned and reached for a seasoning pot, shaking a little more salt into the pot and stirring again. "I think we're beyond the point where we can do any more damage. All we have to do is stir the stew now, so go on, Marlena."

"Come check mine and make sure it tastes okay to you. I'll stir yours in the meantime," Marlena requested.

The two women switched places, and Andrea cautiously began, "Maybe just a bit more..."

Marlena laughed, saying, "Just do what needs to be done. After Danica, you're our best cook. Anyway, there's not much more to tell. Mists just swirled around my illusion, and the next thing I knew, the goblin was real. I mean, it was still an illusion, but I could feel it, smell it, hear it, touch it, and even knowing I'd created it didn't dull those sensations at all. So then I..."

Celes looked over when Marlena paused, noticing that the other woman was blushing. "Go on, Marlena, it may be important."

"I really don't think it is. It's just the same thing, my illusion was so real, that even I couldn't tell the difference between it and reality."

Andrea dipped the spoon back in her pot with a smile, happy with the flavor now. "You started to tell us something, are you sure it isn't important, Marlena?"

"You're turning awful red, dearie," Celes laughed. "Let me guess, you have illusions that are so good that you can't believe they aren't real, so you tried for a dream?"

Marlena's blush deepened, and she nodded.

Celes smirked a little, but Andrea let out a beatific sigh and asked, "You made your dream man, didn't you?"

Marlena's sigh had strong notes of longing. "Yes, and he was so handsome."

Andrea leaned over toward Marlena and mimed whispering, "Was he any good in bed?"

Marlena let out a little moan and confessed, "Incredible. I was so angry when I woke up alone in my bed."

Stopping for a moment in the midst of slicing bread, Celes gestured with the knife for a moment and said, "It seems like whatever is sending us these messages — and I'm almost positive that's what it is — is using our natural dreams, and just molding them a little. That's why all of our dreams have sexual elements, and something to do with cheating our way out of work. We've all been neglecting ourselves, and it's creeping out in our dreams."

"So, what should we do?" Andrea asked, taking a final taste of her stew. With a grunt of effort, she hefted her pot over to an area that was cooler, as it was done and ready to serve.

"I think that as soon as Danica gets back, we sit down and talk this all over again. Then, we all take a break from studying for a while. We've been at it non-stop, and we can't keep up that sort of pace," Celes stated with a note of finality.

"I just feel like I have to, for some reason," Marlena said, stepping out of the way so Andrea could check the other stew pot.

"We all do," Celes agreed. "I think that's the same as our dreams. Something is pushing us to study. I know that we might need all the power we can muster if the seer's predictions about demons come true. We also know that Zoraster's death won't stop his schemes, and his minions are dangerous ones too, but I don't think the urge is all ours. Whatever is sending us these dreams is also pushing us to gain power."

Marlena frowned. "I don't like the idea of being manipulated again — not at all."

Celes snorted and gathered up the bread. "Neither do I. So, we'll just take a break when Danica gets back and see what happens. If whatever it is tries to stop us, we'll just rebel more. I'm not going to be a pawn for anyone, ever again."

They all heard Andrea's stomach rumbling, even over the sound of dishes clanking and the fires burning in the stove.

All three women laughed, and Celes said, "Let's get the table set."

Danica stepped out of the Hellgate into the temple of Sekmamun, immediately feeling confused by the dim lighting and unusual silence. After a moment, it dawned on her. I forgot how far east I am. The sun went down here hours ago. It's probably closer to dawn than dusk. I knew I shouldn't have let myself get distracted by the students tossing their first fireballs.

After the heartfelt, nostalgic conversation with her sister, Danica had been unable to resist watching new workers of Art trying to master their first powerful spell. The sight had taken her back to when she and Devan were in their shoes.

Sighing, Danica wondered what she was going to do until the city started waking. Walking over to the shelves and looking around, she decided that she was far too tired to consider looking for new magic to study. Something caught her eye, and she smiled when she found a map of the nation.

Perfect way to pass the time. I can plan out a route for the trip.

Such was not to be, however, as Danica dozed off shortly after sitting down in front of the map.

Andrea stared hard at the candle, willing the wick to burst into flame. When that didn't work, she took a deep breath and gestured at it, something Celes did most of the time when she used her powers.

Still no luck.

Celes sat quietly next to Andrea, understanding fully the frustration Andrea was feeling. Moving things without teleporting them was Celes' bane. For Andrea, it was her fire power.

A crooked grin crept across Celes' face. Their powers were triggered by their emotions, and Andrea's ability to control fire lay in arousal. When Andrea opened her eyes to stare at the candle again, Celes lay her hand gently on the blonde's thigh and moved it upward.

Andrea gasped, shivering from Celes' touch, and the candle immediately ignited with a pop.

Celes traced the crease of Andrea's thigh, drawing a moan from the woman. Andrea turned toward her raven-haired fellow witch and softly said, "That's cheating. I have to learn to summon up my power, not have it triggered."

"I wasn't trying to help you light the candle," Celes whispered sultrily, "I think we should start our break a little early — right now, actually." Her finger slipped over Andrea's mound, slowly bunching up the skirt the young woman was wearing.

The candle burned even higher, obvious evidence that Andrea's arousal was building. A moment later, Andrea stood up and gestured, blowing out the candle with her power over the wind. Celes stood with her, and then followed only a step behind as Andrea walked back to her room.

"It's getting a little warm in here," Celes said when they both reached the bed, the temperature slowly, but steadily rising.

"I guess this is a good test for controlling my powers then," Andrea replied, offering a coquettish smile. "I wish Danica was here, though."

"We'll make it up to her," Celes whispered, and then leaned in to kiss the beautiful young woman.

C'seka snarled in frustration. He had felt the portal open, and he could sense the woman from the moment she stepped inside of it. Then the focus of the portal changed — and it vanished from the demon's senses.

His claws dug into his palms as he fumed, but he slowly mastered the anger. Another would open a Hellgate soon, perhaps even this one, and he would learn more.

As his fury drained away, C'seka considered another curious development, his growing identification with the male gender. Such things were meaningless to his kind, as they took on whatever shape proved useful, and did not procreate. They were born with a new Hellgate, and died with its master. Such appeared no longer to be the case. Being pulled into the real world had changed much for C'seka.

He sensed that even more changes were to come.

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