Miko Miyazaki died without honor.
She had slain her lord, accused innocent adventurers (well, technically Belkar wasn’t innocent but he was innocent of… well, most of what she accused him of), and refused to believe in the simple fact that she might, just MIGHT, be wrong. She had destroyed a sacred gate, and moved the world a little closer to destruction. And all the while, she thought she was doing the right thing, the will of the Gods.
When she found that she had been sent to Hell, she was a little surprised.
Over three years of torture. Not physical, no. Truth be told, and even she had to admit it after a while, it was quite pleasant, if it violated all her beliefs on intimacy.
She had two different things happen to her. One, she was effectively forced to become Sabine’s ‘pet,’ the succubus using her for every pleasure imaginable. To top things off, Sabine also forced her to take care of Hell’s stables, and make sure the hellhorses were happy.
Yes, in that way as well.
Windstriker tried to free his beloved mistress, but lost a Will save and became one of Sabine’s personal mounts. Miko was strong, however. She could get through this. And as long as Windstriker was safe, she was content.
If had been just that, she could have adjusted easily. Her views on sex and lust being challenged and violated daily? She could adjust to that. It was humiliating, (especially when Sabine brought that accursed fool Nale in), but she could deal with that. She would not break simply because she was a slave to the perversions of a succubus.
The problem was that this was Hell. And it never let you have something you could endure so easily. Over and over again, Miko was shown precisely the reasons she had been sent down there. Visions assailed her hourly, showing her that everything she had done that had brought her to this fate over and over again. Shojo’s death, the ‘evil’ monsters she had killed that had actually turned out to be good, Roy telling her the cold hard truth about her character, the brutal, out of line beatings she gave to the Order of the Stick when they didn’t cooperate with her, her own maddened rampages, the destruction of the gate… Over and over the visions assailed her.
On the eve of the fourth year of her torment in Hell, Miko began to break. Despair began to overtake her as it finally started to sink that she was WRONG, that she was foolishly arrogant and deserved the daily humiliation Sabine and her demonic sisters inflicted upon her daily…
But even as that despair set in, something else set in: an indignant fury.
She had made mistakes, certainly… But where had the gods been? Hadn’t she served them loyally, even if it was mistakenly? She had done wrong, certainly, but you think someone who had prayed to them as faithfully had she had would at the very LEAST merit a celestial tap on the shoulder and a whispered “You MIGHT wanna reconsider what you’re doing, here…”
Miko staggered through the flaming caverns that were near the succubus quarters. The superheated rocks burned her flesh, but she barely noticed. Humiliation, shame, and anger clouded her thoughts, the damned paladin’s mind muddled.
She collapsed in a cave, sobbing. “WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME!?!!” she screamed to the Gods.
Abandoned you? a dark, sinister voice chuckled, That would imply they cared about you in the first place.
Miko looked around, frightened. “Who… Who’s there?!”
The Gods do not care. They are squabbling children, who only care about their own amusement. If they help the creatures of the world at all, it is because they think it would be FUNNY…
Miko looked around the cavern frantically. She soon discovered the source of the voice, a tear in back wall of the cavern, one radiating purple energy… And in that rift, two glowing red eyes stared out at her.
“Get… Get AWAY!!” Miko screamed, frantically backing away.
I think not, child, the creature said, You are too interesting.
Energy lanced out of the rift, collapsing the cavern and trapping Miko inside.
“Oh Gods… What new torments have you come up with for me?!” she moaned.
The creature chuckled. Silly girl, I mean you no harm. I am called the Snarl. I am what the Gates were meant to keep imprisoned.
Miko’s blood froze. The very thing the Sapphire Guard had been created to defend against, here before her.
“Fiend… Whatever you want from me, I will not give!!” Miko hissed.
Silly child. Once I am through, you will give me EVERYTHING I WANT… And you will give it freely…
Before Miko could react, tendrils of energy reached out and pulled her into the rift. Screaming, the fallen paladin was pulled in, vanishing in a flash of purple light.
She found herself in a realm of pure madness. Colors, lights, shadows, shapes, all danced about madly. The effect frightened her worse than anything she had ever endured before.
“Where… Where am I!?”
You are with me, child… I am the creation of the Gods…
Miko shook her head. “You are an abomination! A creature of destruction!”
As are you, Miko Miyazaki.
“NO! I am a samurai! A servant of the Twelve Gods!” Miko almost shrieked.
Then why are you in Hell?
“I… I was misled… I…” Miko stammered.
The gods… And not just your twelve gods, but all the gods… They do not care about the world… Neither do I, for that matter, but at least I’m honest about it. I make no pretense of benevolence…
“You…” Miko stammered, “You are destruction! You are madness and decay…”
So are you, child.
“NO!” Miko screamed, “I am noble, I am honorable, I am…”
You slew innocents simply because their race was classified as evil. You attacked adventurers trying to save the world from… well, me. You slew your noble and just king. You destroyed one of the gates keeping me in check.
“I did those things because I thought I was protecting justice! That I was doing the will of the Gods!!” Miko screamed, looking about the maddening display.
And look where that got you.
Miko had no response. She covered her ears, trying to block out the voice in her head, telling her such things.
She flinched, the Snarl creating gentle hands to caress her. You are a destructor, child. Just like me.
“No…” Miko whispered, the Snarl’s etherial hands gently massaging her shoulders, “I am… I am a samurai… A noble paladin of the Sapphire Guard…”
Think back to all your kills… Did it not feel good to have your blade bite into their flesh? Did it not excite you to cleft heads from shoulders, flesh from bone?
“The Sapphire Guard is above such desires…” Miko weakly protested. The hands were becoming more bold in their caresses, moving across her back and around to her front.
To deny yourself is to destroy yourself, child… And you are not the suicidal type. Think back… Think long and hard on how it felt… And tell me truly… Did it feel good?
Miko moaned, the Snarl’s words forcing her to remember not just the act… But the sensation… The thrill that went through her as she killed… A thrill more than one garnered from doing what she believed was the right thing.
“Yes…” she moaned, ”It felt good to kill…”
There we go… Now… What would you like to do to that miserable halfling that the Order of the Stick associates with?
Fury filled Miko’s body. “I will slay him,” she said.
Come now. You can be more detailed than that…
Miko laughed giddily, all her old rage-filled fantasies that she had forcibly suppressed coming forward. “I will flay the skin from his body while he still lives… I will force him to drink acid while listening to children’s music… I will make him pull out his own intestines while saying nice things about puppies and kitties… And then I will make him throttle himself with his own intestines!!!”
The Snarl seemed to laugh. Not bad. A little bland, but it’s something to work on…
Miko shook her head, shame at her rage still within her, even as another part of her felt giddy excitement at letting all these suppressed emotions out. “What do you want from me?”
Quite frankly, Miko, I want you to be mine… I adore you. I have never seen another soul so much like mine… There is a great deal of suppressed rage in you. So much desire to destroy, to rend, to sunder, all buried beneath piety and virtue. But that piety is cracking, now isn’t it?
“Yes… “ Miko admitted, tears of shame in her eyes.
The gods do not care about you…
“Yes…” Miko said, the anger welling up inside her again.
You served them loyally and without question…
“Yes…” Miko said, bitterness welling up inside her.
And yet when you made mistakes, they made no effort to save you.
“Yes…” Miko said, her voice now a hiss of fury.
You hate them…
“Yes…” Miko said, surprising herself at her answer.
You wish to destroy them…
“Yes…” Miko said, a smiling crossing her face at how right the answer sounded.
You with to hurt them, make them pay…
“Yes,” Miko said with more certainty.
You wish to rend asunder their works, and then render them asunder as well…
“Yes…” Miko said, a grin crossing her face, her eyes starting to glow red.
And you wish to make their chosen defenders, the Order of the Stick, suffer for bringing you to this…
“Yes… By everything holy or unholy yes…” Miko said.
Then accept me, the Snarl said, Embrace me, embrace my path. You, my knight of destruction, shall be the key to undoing the gods and their works. Carry me inside you, and slay any who get in your way. Abandon any pretense of piety, or nobility, and embrace the path of True Chaos. Will you embrace me, Miko Miyazaki, and revel in destruction with me?
Miko closed her eyes. She thought about her options… or at least she tried. The feeling of abandonment, the halfling’s mocking voice, the humiliation she suffered… they dominated her thoughts.
“I accept,” she whispered.
The Snarl laughed. Miko gasped, feeling energy flowing into her, strength empowering her. She felt her body swelling, as if she was going to burst. Light, shadow, colors, all flowed around her, all flowed into her, the light blinding her.
When she regained her vision, she found herself back amongst the living, standing by a riverbed. She looked down at herself, finding her body covered in purple and indigo armor, similar in design to her old paladin garb, but with a more menacing edge to it. What’s more, she found that her belly had swollen out, looking like she was nine months along with triplets. She placed a hand to her swollen stomach, feeling something stirring within.
It was then she understood.
“Of course… ‘Carry me inside you,’ it said… I bear the Snarl itself within me…” she said. She held up a hand, dark magic flowing through her and manifesting as a dark blue aura. She grinned savagely, and clenched her fist, a jagged edged katana forming in her hand. “Its power flows through me… Through my own actions, the Snarl can act directly on the world…”
Miko laughed, delighted. She understood for the first time. She UNDERSTOOD, and it was a liberating feeling. Powerful flowed through her, filling her every pore, begging to be released.
Chuckling, she looked at herself in the reflection of the nearby river, seeing that her hair had turned white, her eyes now glowing red.
She chuckled. “It begins… The gates will fall, and the gods will fall soon after…”
Yes, the Snarl chuckled, the voice now a welcome presence in Miko’s head, And you, my beautiful Knight of Destruction, shall lead the charge, both lover and mother to me.
Miko grinned savagely. She gestured, summoning Windstriker to her side, the Snarl’s power turning him into a deadly, purple-furred fel beast. She mounted her steed, and said, “And as for the Order of the Stick… Heh. Their suffering shall be endless… As will be my pleasure…”