Prologue

Demoni Homeworld

How am I going to get out of the stew pot this time?

Deidre stood outside the tall wooden doors that led into the throne room. A shiver set the cold, heavy chains wrapped around her clanking in musical accompaniment to the beat of her heart. She and her fellow prisoner stood in a dimly lit corridor. The torches on the wall did little to dispel the gloom.

They were surrounded by guards to ensure they didn’t escape. A wall of scarlet skin filled her view. Leather belts and sashes denoted the ranks of the guard. A tail twitched as one of the guards looked her up and down. With the body of a human, ebony hooves and furred legs, the Demoni reminded her of satyrs in Earth mythology.

What was going to happen now?

Hzine, the other prisoner, collapsed in a blubbering heap on the floor.

Sneers and looks of distain crossed the faces of the guards as they jerked the male from the floor. His crying and whining grated on her nerves.Silence! Take your punishment like a real Demoni.

A rumble in her stomach.

Quiet, you!

Deidre’s head jerked to the side as blinding pain radiated from her cheek. Biting back a gasp, she bit her lip and concentrated on not showing weakness.

Tendrils of her power, desperate with the need to feed, twined from her body seeking male sexual energy. The nearest guards twitched with interest as their flesh rose between their legs.

Bring the condemned.

Deidre pulled her power back, stomach cramping with hunger.

Two Demoni pushed open the double doors. A sharp point in her back, and Deidre hobbled into the throne room, the chains not giving her enough movement to walk. The guard stopped inside the entrance and stepped to the side.

The prisoners took two steps forward and stopped.

Deidre looked around the cavernous space. It was filled with naked Demoni. Those in service to the Overlord were granted the right to wear clothing. The guards, the Councilors and the Magicians were the ones she knew of.

On the walls, between tapestries featuring gruesome battles, spears jutted from the walls, each adorned with rotting heads.

The air was filled with the scent of pungent spices and rancid flesh.

At the far end of the room Khan, Overlord of the Demoni, sat on his throne. The one she’d been summoned to please.

Approach ordered the tall Demoni standing at the side of the throne. He held an ornate staff taller than himself and wore an embroidered tunic clasped at each shoulder and falling to the floor.

Another poke in the back and she began to hobble down the center of the room, matching the cadence of the guards.

A clattering of hooves and chains made Khan growl. The guards picked up Hzine and carried him the rest of the way.

They stopped before the throne. Whispers filled the room and Deidre felt as if she was on display. Steam hissed from the Overlord’s horns, and the guards took a step back, leaving her and Hzine to face Khan’s wrath.

The Demoni struck the floor with his staff. A deep tone rang through the throne room and all whispering ceased. The Demoni unrolled a scroll, and in an imperious voice, read the charge.

Hzine and Deidre, you are guilty of conspiracy. For plotting to overthrow and kill Overlord Khan, you are sentenced to death. Do you have anything to say in your defense?

Hzine trembled in his chains, the acrid scent of fear a stench in her nose. I didn’t know what she was, Your Merciless. I thought only to procure a pleasure slave for you.

Khan drummed his black claws on the arm of his throne. Who do you work for?

N-n-no one Sire. I’m loyal to you.

Who ordered you to bring her to me?

No one Sire. She came through a spell.

Gasps filled the throne room and everyone shrank back as Khan stood. His black and gold pleated kilt, reached his knees.

A spell? Khan asked in a soft tone, sending shivers of ice down Deidre’s spine. Where did you get a spell? Are you a magician now?

Hzine stammered. I didn’t… I’m not…

What creature did you bring into my world? Khan’s voice boomed through the room.

Hzine cowered before him. She’s a p-p-pleasure slave, summoned to p-p-please you, my lord.

Khan looked at Hzine for a long moment. The Pit.

Hzine screamed in denial and thrashed against the guards. Two additional guards rushed forward to subdue him. They carried him away, his pleading cries echoing through the room after he’d gone.

Deidre flinched as the screams grew faint and cut off, mid-wail.

The Vizier asked. And your defense, female?

What could she say? Neither Khan nor the Councilors had believed that she hadn’t been sent to kill Khan.

If my last master hadn’t starved me…

The spell that gave her form rearranged her looks to please her masters, however it couldn’t change her gender. Her last master had a male mate and was interested in her as a symbol of status. While the assignment hadn’t been bad, the sexual energy she needed hadn’t been enough to live on.

Khan raised an eyebrow at her silence. Why?

And still she didn’t answer. It hadn’t been on purpose. She drained too much of his energy during their first sexual encounter.

Sparks crackled from beneath his hooves as he stalked down the three steps and circled her.

A small smile touched his lips, causing gasps of fear from those watching. In a soft voice he threatened, You will suffer as none before. Your death will be so horrific that future generations will look back and shudder with dread. No one conspires against me.