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Undisclosed Desires

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The butterfly let out a small chirp before it was swiftly crushed under the weight of the demigods many hands. Godrick had grabbed the menacing axe and now sprinted for Vargram and Finlay. They didn't have long before he would be upon them, and they had Malenia to think of. She was not the easiest to move around at the best of times, with her long legs often causing Finlay to lean forward just so she wouldn't drag across the ground. But when a furious demigod with a known hatred for your lady is bearing down on you, you make do with what you have. The instant he had begun charging, screaming wildly half in panic, half in anger, Finlay had begun charging the rings of light on her scythe. With a quick swing of her scythe the rings exploded out in a horizontal arc towards the great beast of a man. It burned through the arms sprouting out from his right shoulder, causing him to scream out in pain. Vargram using his agility had used this opportunity to take advantage of the opening Finlay had created and leapt up, stepping of Godricks knee and grabbing the hilt of the dagger. He pulled it up with him as he flew through the air and left a great crevasse in the man's shoulder. Blood poured out like a raging torrent finally overcoming a dam, drenching the stone floor beneath them in crimson. 

"AAAaarrrgghhhhhhhhh" echoed between the gatehouse and the cliff face leading into the castle. His guards watched in fear and disgust in equal measure. Their disgust for him prevented them from aiding him, but fear compelled them to stay. They knew the punishment for mutiny and none of the guards fancied being exiled to Mount Gelmir. The demigod's massive chest heaved with laboured shallow breaths as he fought to ignore the pain the gash in shoulder and the burn of the holy light of the haligtree had caused him. He took his smaller, but still developed right arm and ripped two smaller appendages from his left arm off and shoved them into the gap left by Vargrams dagger. 

"What in the gods?" Finlay whispered to herself as she saw the demigod's flesh begin fusing the arms into his torso. Skin seemed to build up from nowhere and covered the uneven wound as if it had been left to heal poorly for years. The surrounding flesh quickly turned a darker shade of grey, with the blood vessels breaking, and bruises to appear across his shoulder. But the blood thinned and soon reduced to just a few drops, barely adding to the small lake of blood at his feet. 

"You will pay for daring to challenge me, fools. I shall string you up by your own guts and left the birds feast upon your eyes! You are not worthy of grafting, a far worse fate awaits you now!" his voice increasing in volume as his rage built. With a speed belying his size he swung the great axe straight for Finlay and Malenia. It careered through the air, the axe head narrowly missing Finlay's face but slammed into Malenia. The straps on her back that had attached the slumbering demigod to her instantly snapped and the lifeless body was flung to the ground. She landed some ten feet behind Finlay, but thankfully she had not been cut open by the axe. The axe head had perhaps broken a few ribs judging from the swelling that slowly spread across her chest, but there were no cuts. Checking for any further signs of damage would have to wait, until Malenia's safety was guaranteed. Finlay turned her head to curse the bastard's name, but he was already there. 

"I am the lord of all that is golden, none are fit to challenge my rule. Not dragons, not the omen king, none!!!!". He grabbed her round the young knight by the neck and began choking her with his stronger left arm. Meanwhile the smaller hands attached to this monstrous arm started to claw away at whatever part of her face they could get to. She felt cuts opening all over her cheeks and neck.

"Lord of all that is golden.....pffftt, Godfrey doesn't claim you and he never will. You're an embarrassment to your forefathers!" Finlay spat out at him. This had the exact effect she was looking for, as further enraged by this insult Godrick slowly released his hold on her neck. Enough that she could breathe, but he still held her above the ground and he slowly moved some of his fingers to her eyes. Slowly he began to apply pressure. 

"I want to hear you scream, long and loud" he sneered. 

The pain was excruciating, she tried to hold it in to avoid giving him the pleasure he so dearly craved. But it was too much. A blood curdling scream escaped her mouth, and her throat began burning as two streams of blood trickled in between the demigods fingers as he began cackling to himself. She couldn't be sure if it was real or not, but she thought she heard a guard on the rampart throwing up. Clearly this was an inexperienced guard, new to Godrick's disgusting brand of cruelty. 

She dropped to the floor. The pressure on her eyes ceasing was welcome, but the fall onto solid stone soon shook away any relief she had. The great deformed arm of Godrick slammed down next to her, causing the very earth to tremble under its weight and the stone cracked underneath her. A few seconds passed or so she thought as she gathered her breath and slowly tried to open her eyes. A huge wave of relief swept over her and a couple of tears made their way down her cheeks. She could see. Although she was not blinded, her eyesight was damaged, everything was out of focus and the colours of her surroundings muted. She could make out the shape of the demigod writhing in pain as he grappled with Vargram, the knight slashing away at must have remained of the golden lords arm but slowly being crushed in the embrace of the demigod. Vargram's plate armour was strong and had served him well but under the pressure of the strength of Godricks grip, it began to deform and push against the tarnished's body. He took his sword and attempted to bury it into the demigod's head but he couldn't get enough force on the swing and his enemies many hands reached out and parried the blade away and into the demigods shoulder. He looked into the crazed face of his opponent, blood spilling out from his grin now seemingly enjoying the pain and suffering of his foes. Then all of a sudden he felt his vision fade into a field of white. And screams, he heard a scream and felt a hot burst of air rush past his face and into the slots in his helmet and blew over his eyes. Vargram landed flat on his back but felt an arm pulling on his shoulder and slowly dragging him backwards.

"We've got to get out of here, we're no match for him without Malenia" a feminine voice called out to him. She was ok. "Sorry about the rings of light, it was the only way i could think to get him to release you in time. Hopefully I didn't get it too close to you, my eyesight is damaged" Finlay said, her tone anxious and urgent. 

"Thanks to you Finlay, you got him before he caved in my chest, so I'd say it was perfect timing" Vargram replied with great effort. His chest plate wasn't fully crushed but the bear hug had driven the air out of him, and it was taking all his effort to help push himself further away from the screeching demigod and make it easier for Finlay to drag him away. 

They reached Malenia and readied their weapons and prepared themselves for Godricks retaliation. 

His impromptu amputation by Vargram and the burns Finlay had left him, created a horrible decaying stench to waft through the air and had charred his hulking shoulders. The crazed look on the demigods face had disappeared, instead replaced with one of malice and determination. He would make these intruders pay, slowly and painfully. They could be grafted alive to one of his scions or perhaps a troll and sent head first in the volcanic magma of Mount Gelmir. Then with them out of the way he could take Malenia's great rune for himself and finally live up to his name. With these thoughts of evil deeds yet to come driving the pain out of his mind Godrick once again advanced on the two companions. He picked the great axe up as he passed it, the arms sprouting from his main tree trunk like right arm helping him lift the mammoth weapon. And as he gazed upon the frightened but determined knights now doomed to serve him through their grafting he looked upon Malenia. 

He saw the blow where his axe had hit her and saw another butterfly pressing itself to her ribs. No matter he thought, he could squash it like all the others.

"I will kill you if you touch her!" rang out Finlay, loud and defiant. 

"I believe your heart cleanrot knight, but what could you do against a demigod. Wounded as I am, you have no hope of escape or victory." Godrick lifted up the great axe and slammed it into the ground. Tremors reverberating through the ground.

"I command thee kneel!!!!!........and i may grant you the mercy of a swift death" he screamed at them. 

In a final act of defiance, Vargram once again stepped forward and launched a dagger at the demigods head. His aim was true but he would not succeed a second time. The demigod moved the remaining mass of his left arm, still dripping blood and flesh and shielded his face. The dagger buried itself deep into the flesh, but the demigod was now numbed to the pain. 

"I see.....you have made your choice then......good. I shall enjoy your grafting more than most" and he swung the great axe into Vargram. Finlay turned in horror as she saw her companion's body launched back towards the cliffside.

"Noooooooooooo" she screamed out in desperation.

The tarnished's legs slowly crumpled to their knees before falling forward and his guts spilling out onto the stone floor. The warm spray of his blood covered Finlay's shocked face. She turned to face her opponent, determined to do all she could to defend her lady's honour, avenge her friend and prevent their defilement at the hands of such a wretched being. The hulking mass of the demigod approached, his shadow now enveloping the young knight forcing her back towards Malenia. But her vision damaged, her body screaming at her in pain, to give in. She knew she could not win against him, a demigod, she was just a mere mortal. But she wouldn't let him win, that much she would make sure.

"I'm sorry my lady, I truly am" she said tearfully and turned her sword upon her love. Better to die at the hands of one who loved her than face the torture of Godrick. A clean slice diagonally down to her right, a move perfected a thousand times on the training ground as instructed by Loretta. Gods she would have been proud of it, effortlessly clean and with just the right amount of power so as to not lose her balance. She sent her sword through Malenia. Red erupted around her and she allowed her sword to fall from her hand. Not caring what happened to her as long as her lady had been spared the pain of Godrick's plan she awaited her death. She had fulfilled her duty as knight of the haligtree, and was by her beloved's side when she needed it most, she could think of no better way to go. 

She waited for a few seconds.....and then a few more......and still the blow didn't come. 

She could see the darkness over her, so Godrick was still there so why did he not swing the final blow. She focused her eyes more onto the pool of red surrounding her arms and Malenia's corpse. With all the effort she had, she focused her eyes and the vague shape of Malenia's body and the red pool surrounding her gave way to clarity. She had indeed swung through Malenia's body, or what she thought was her body. She now saw a group of butterflies covering her lady's chest and the scattered remains of at least a dozen others coating her sword. She followed the trail of insects as they covered the floor from Malenia, through Finlay's legs and to the feet of Godrick. She looked upon the golden lord and found confusion on his face. 

He began to slowly walk back, and the butterflies followed him. He took another step back, and once again they traced his movement. He swung his axe at them, destroying them and drawing confused laughter from the guards still watching atop the ramparts. Godrick knew of the omen of the Aeonian butterflies from his reading of the scrolls of Radagon when he had been in Leyndell. Of how they had accompanied Malenia's first bloom and how they had acted almost as an extension of her very will. The Elden Lord on that occasion, with his mastery of incantations of deep knowledge granted to him by the Greater Will of the influence of the outer gods was able to restrain and calm the rot within his daughter. But Radagon was not with Godrick. Another group of butterflies appeared on Malenia's chest and again traced the movement of their companions until they found themselves at Godricks feet. This group was at least twice the size of the last one and were vigorously shaking their wings and chirping at him. Confused and beginning to feel the first pangs of fear grip at his heart the lord of stormveil coated the stone floor with their remains once again. Laughing to himself, more out of comfort than anything else he began to slowly edge himself back towards his gates. Just as he was about to call out to one of his guardsmen to open the gate he heard a great gust of wind fly past his face. He shot round, sweat lining his brow and faced what awaited him. 

"How.....how can this be" he stammered to himself. "Please... forgive me, you may pass i swear it, just leave me be" he whimpered. Dropping his axe to the floor the demigod knelt on the floor and bowed heavily at the figure walking towards him. 

Finlay couldn't believe what she was seeing. A third much larger swarm of butterflies had gathered at her lady's side and then covered her body. They slowly left her and began to group together and coalesced into a human-like figure. It marched over to the cowering fool and its features became more defined the closer it got to him until it looked like the spitting image of Malenia. 

Godrick dared a glance up at the woman towering over him. Her face great and terrible in its wrath, scowled at him and she lowered herself down to his level. He felt almost compelled to look upon her, as if some unknown force was controlling him. As much as he tried to avert his gaze he couldn't resist gazing upon her majesty. One worthy of their lineage, the figure filled with the regal grace of Radagon and the beauty and wrath of Marika the eternal. Her stern face looked upon the demigod and grabbing his throat forced him back. Her grip was tight but she didn't choke him, instead she studied the withered face, her eyes piercing through Godrick. He felt shame, fear and most of all jealousy. That he was so lacking in comparison to one who truly lived up to the expectations of a demigod. 

Finlay, awestruck by the sight, found herself walking towards the two beings. The luminescent figure of her lady radiated warmth and a sweet fragrant smell was carried on the wind and she breathed it in. She felt refreshed and as her eyesight cleared up further she looked upon Godrick and felt pity for the man. And just as quickly as the pity had formed in her mind it was sent crashing down into the deepest recess of her mind by the anger she felt towards him. For daring to harm her lady and for the death of Vargram, she would have her revenge. Gripping the hilt of her sword tightly she closed the distance to them.

The figure lifted Godrick up until he was knelt on his knees and at eye level with the false Malenia, but as she heard Finlay approach she turned her head to gaze upon the knight. Her face softened as she looked upon Finlay, a small smile appearing on what was her face. Whereas Godrick was petrified of the colourless eyes of this luminescent copy of his half sister, Finlay felt at ease, her grip on her hilt loosening. The face was almost as beautiful as Malenia's and she slowly reached out to touch it. The smile disappeared and what looked like tears escaped her eyes as she turned back to face Godrick. She extended her arm and a butterfly landed on her outstretched palm, and placed it gently next to Godricks face now streaming with tears and coated with fear. She gave one final glare at the demigod and dissipated into the breeze. The faint red glow she gave off fading as the wind carried away the shade or wraith of Malenia. Finlay couldn't guess what exactly it was or that if what she had seen was actually real. But the warmth she had felt was the same as when she would gaze upon her during training or when they would speak when she would debrief Finlay. It was enough for her, a small kindling of hope once again, just as she needed it. But soon the screams of Godrick suggested it was no trick of the mind. 

The demigod's screams grew louder and louder as he clawed away at his face, knocking his crown off his head in the process. He appeared to have given in to his madness as clawed furiously at his face, suspiciously where the butterfly had been placed the shade that took Malenia's form. Blood was pouring from the gaps in between his hands and covered the brilliant emerald and gold cloak he was wearing in a deep crimson. Then with a great crescendo, his screams rose to a climax and then ceased. The mad demigod in his desperation to get rid of the butterfly had ripped out his own eye. Finlay felt sick looking at the man seemingly content with his work as he admired his eye as if it was some form of trophy.

 

"Guards, guards open the damned gate......do it quickly!!" he bellowed up as he forced himself to his feet. 

"What of the knight and Malenia?" one called back down to his lord. 

"Do as I say or you'll be replacing my arm. Now open the damn gate you bastard!" As he picked up the great axe and dragged it behind him, his left arm hugged close to his chest and cradled the wound Vargram's dagger had given him. The massive gates slowly parted to a cacophony of screeches as the iron bars scraped against the stone floor and the demigod stumbled through. 

"To the keep all of you, and fetch my scions or i swear to Marika i'll use you all to make another!" His venom and anger carried throughout the castle as the guards swiftly abandoned their posts to flank their lord as they made their way further into the castle. 

With a sigh of relief, Finlay turned back and made her way over to her lady. Hoisting her lady onto her back and tying her sword and prosthesis to the demigods coat she slowly went over to what remained of Vargram. Feeling a lump in her throat getting bigger and bigger, she did not risk a word. If she began, she knew she would not be able to stop mourning the death of one who had so selflessly given his life to protect them. She grieved his loss for a moment, but knowing that Godrick could just as easily change his mind she took the longsword Vargram had wielded and with it cut a strand of the wolf fur that formed the mane from his helm. Tying the longsword next to her own and putting the lock of wolf fur in the pouch with her flowers she took one last look at her friend. Unwilling to leave his body to be corrupted by Godrick she lit up a ring of Miquella's light and let the holy fire consume his remains. With a silent prayer to Miquella she turned away tears streaming down her face and made her way into stormveil castle. 


The going was tough with a sharp and piercing headache replacing Finlay's damaged vision. Godrick had seemingly summoned most of his guards into his keep for an evil purpose she could only guess at, with the few remaining seeing her armour covered in the blood of their lord and her friend and the slumbering Malenia on her shoulders allowed her to pass without question. Moving through the heart of the castle as quickly as her legs allowed her, the pain increasing in intensity as her adrenaline wore off, she continued one step at a time until she arrived at the entrance to a courtyard and heard Godrick's voice once again. 

"I don't care how many of you it takes, bring me his head. And unless you want me to cut off your arms and use it as my own i suggest you get it quickly. None will question me when the power of the dragon bows to my will" his words echoing across the courtyard along with the sound of feet rapidly moving across the stone floor. 

Finlay knew she wouldn't have long before they found her and so she quickly dived behind a mound of rubble and gravestones, lowering herself down to hide as much of the distinctive orange hair of her lady and the crimson feathers from her own helm. Only a minute or two later, the whole of stormveil seemed to pass through the courtyard and towards the gatehouse to retrieve whoevers poor head Godrick desired. They streamed past for what felt like hours, hundreds of them running by, either too busy or scared to challenge Finlay. One knight however did stop beside the mound Finlay was taking cover behind. Carefully, removing her sword from its scabbard she pulled it close to her and prepared to strike. A quick slice high to the unsuspecting knights head and she could make a run for it. Cut down any who stood in her way if needed. She let out a breath and began counting. 

One.

Two.

Three. 

"A cleanrot knight is a far way from home, is she not?" the knight said quietly enough for only Finlay to hear. His voice carried a thick accent, one she could not place despite her many years of travelling.

Still gripping tightly to the hilt of her sword, ready to strike at a moment's notice she replied "Give me one good reason not to remove your head from your shoulders right now". The threat was delivered calmly with a decade of fighting experience to ensure the knight knew it was not a veiled threat. 

"Perhaps one who wishes to help the Haligtree" dropping a small golden medallion on the floor in front of Finlay. "This should get you where you need to go, when you reach the main tower, go down the staircase on the left and follow the path through to Liurnia". 

Inspecting the medallion carefully, she saw it was one of the Dectus Medallions allowing her passage to the Altus plateau and to Leyndell. When the clamour of the other guards had quietened to the point where she was sure only a handful would remain, she stood up medallion in hand to greet the knight. She saw a tall man in full plate armour, standing a head shorter than her with a great halberd and kite shield in each hand. The armour was fantastically well crafted, with ornate carvings decorating the set and a beautiful dragon mounted on the top of the knight's helm. It was not an ordinary dragon though, but one of the ancient dragons. Far more powerful and wise than their lesser counterparts, Finlay had heard rumours of orders of knights and cults that worshipped the ancient dragons. The most famous of all being Godwyn the golden's and the reverence they paid to the twins Fortissax and Lansseax. 

"I had not looked to find any help here other than that which I brought with me, I am in your debt knight. But why are you helping me?" curiosity getting the better of her. 

"I am a banished knight, serving those rejected by the golden order and with the haligtree offering the best chance of safety, I use the medallion to get people through into the mountaintops. But you must hurry now, you must get as far away from stormveil as you can, Godrick will send out scouts in the night. He wont give up another demigod so easily". He grabbed Finlay's arm and led her toward the tower, both of them scanning the horizon for other soldiers of Godrick. The few that remained were paying them no attention as they made their way out into Limgrave to embark on the task their lord had assigned them. 

Confirming that they weren't followed, the banished knight ushered Finlay into the turret and began to make his way back to the front gate. 

"Thank you knight, your help won't be forgotten I promise you" Finlay called out, a smile forming on the corner of her lips. 

"Good fortune to you my lady, may you return her safely home" and with a quick bow he turned and rushed back through the castle. 

 

By the time she reached a suitable resting spot, night had come to Liurnia with an abundance of stars shining brightly in the night sky. The ever impressive academy of Raya Lucaria towering over the surrounding lake and countryside, Finlay often wondered what it would be like to visit there as she had been denied the opportunity to go along with her lady the last time she visited alongside her brother. Leaving her only with rumours as to the impressive libraries, halls and some said dragon eggs within. She doubted the tall tales of dragon eggs, but the opportunity to pour through the vast libraries of Raya Lucaria and possibly hear tales from the great sorceress Rennala herself. It made her giddy inside, just like when she was a child and her mother told her stories of the great dragon kings and knights who served them. Perhaps, once Malenia was safe at home and Miquella had healed her she could convince them to tell her what it was like inside. To see if the stories really were true. 

The cave she had selected was a small one on the edge of the lake, glintstone crystals glistening inside removing the need for a fire and ensuring they kept as low a profile as they could. Gently placing Malenia down against the wall of the cave, Finlay settled down next to her and gazed out at the moon and stars. She hummed pleasantly to herself as used a whetstone to sharpen her blade, she let her mind wander once again but it kept returning to Vargram, and how he had sacrificed himself for them. No matter how hard she tried, could not stop picturing Godricks axe swinging cutting through the air. Her sword and the whetstone fell out of her hands and pulling her legs into chest she burst into tears.

 


"Name yourself, and your business with the lord of all that is golden!" the guard called down from the imposing gatehouse of stormveil castle. The torches offered some light into the deep black of night, but it was almost impossible to work out who the approaching man was. For it was surely a man, astride a great steed, with the rider even bigger and donned in a dark set of armour. It was so dark it seemed to suck in any light that fell upon it. The guard felt a chill run up his spine as he looked upon the great knight slowly approaching the gates. Just as he was about to call out again and order the guards to present their crossbows, the dark knight spoke. 

"Bring your lord to me, I have a message from the Lord of Leyndell" the knight spoke calmly, but there was no joy or mirth in his voice. It felt deathly cold, and the garb that covered his horse and his own armour did nothing to dispel this notion. 

"Tell him to come now, or his life and everyone else's in this castle is forfeit". 

The very air seemed to freeze around the gate house as the guard called out to others to inform Lord Godrick, and the black knight dismounted the black steed. The knight took out his weapon and removed a large flail, a thick rod of obsidian a metre long ending in two bludgeoning spikes the size of a man's head of solid metal. It still dripped with blood.