Chapter 56: A Monster's Night

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The corruption of this world shall not leave; our destructive, tainted natures ensure that remains. But the fruits of that corruption -the Eight- shall vanish. Their destruction and their ruin will leave wounds on the face of history, wounds we shall heal.

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Three Years Ago

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Tara stared out of the window of her small room, eyes wide with fear.

Her small, cramped room only had a dresser, a folding screen, a rickety chair, and a bed, but then again, for the work of a whore, that was all she needed. She hated the room. Hated the bed, hated the room, hated her job. Well, maybe not the folding screen; it had a classical look to it. The room stank of hate to her, reeked of the grimy self-loathing that clung to the flesh, sullied the thoughts, and twisted everything in the world into a sour, bitter taste.

She had hated it as the men there who only saw her as a means to their end, how they used her and didn't care about who she was. She had loathed them, but put on a good act for them. Otherwise, the Madam wouldn't give her the pay.

She had loathed, them, disdained them and thought of them as soiled and stained. But she had never feared them. Not like that one.

He stood outside, with a regular customer. Gial, his name might have been. Gial was normal, a man, though with an impressive amount of scars on his back, as if he had been lashed. But the other... the other wasn't human. He couldn't have been.

Both Gial and the other one were large, tall, and powerfully built, like most of the Ranger Corps. But this one was tall. Almost seven feet, it seemed. And he was covered in golden scales, with four horns that curved up from his head like saber blades. A demon. He had to be.

Yet, there was something about him that seemed off. He didn't have a certain swagger, a specific air that most of the other men that frequented this brothel had. If anything, the seven-foot tall dragon monster seemed... apprehensive. Nervous, even. But still, he was a monster.

Tara sat down on her bed, closed her eyes, and did something she hadn't done in years. She prayed. She begged a God she hadn't believed in that he wouldn't visit her, that she'd be spared.

Unfortunately, she was not spared such a fate.

There was a knock on the door, and it opened, and a monster walked into her room.

He wore an open vest, and Tara could see the platelike scales that covered his chest. He was taller than that, a good half-foot taller than what she had thought, and his horns added more to his height. "I was supposed to give this to you," he said, handing her a small green square tile.

Her heart skipped a beat. One night. Not an hour, but a whole night. She took it with shaking hands, and set it down on the small table by her bedside. She shifted on the richly embroidered bedcover -the brothel skimped in wages to the workers, but nothing else- and tried to conceal her fear.

"There was something else," the dragon-fiend said. He stepped over to her dresser and placed a coin on the top of it. "Extra payment." Her heart skipped two beats, and she broke out in terrified chills. Extra payment meant that they wanted to do something illegal, something either the Madam frowned at, or something humiliating. She had heard enough stories about girls getting beaten to a pulp because that was what the guy liked. Or a lady who got cut, because the guy liked the taste of blood.

"The Madam probably won't like it," he said, sitting down in the chair, creaking dangerously.

"W...what is it?"

The dragon-man looked her in the eye. "Tolerate my presence. Nothing else."

"Nothing else?" she asked.

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