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‘Note to self, sex on fire is really fucking cool and hot, but its also extremely taxing. Only do it for long periods of time when having a full stomach.’

Herah thought this to herself just as Max finished explaining everything that had happened since Owen had left the pair alone to her Alex.

Both Herah and Max now stood before an extremely tired Alex, who now wore his blue windbreaker, with Jeffery floating above him while spinning without a care. Max wore what Herah knew to be a genuine smile on her face while radiating lots of joy towards her brother and Herah and a scary amount of lust solely towards Herah. The youngling also felt a slightly weaker tide of constantly swapping emotions beneath these two. Herah herself was barely able to stand, with her last round with Max leaving her on the verge of collapse. Though this exhaustion didn’t stop her from wondering why there was a hole right next to Alex that looked like Owen could fit in it.

Alex let out a tired sigh that caught Herah’s attention before saying in barely restrained anger,

“So let me get this straight.” Alex lazily pointed at Herah and Max with his left middle and pointer fingers, ” You two met up, talked about some shit, Norwe appeared and said some shit about Abyss Walkers then peaced out, you talked some more, had sex, Herah’s parents appeared, Orange froze his wife and daughter and threatened to kill Max, Max gave him a rundown of the situation, Orange unfroze Herah and Rouge, both of you talked to both parents by yourselves, you all got back together, the beginning of the courtship was finalized, Herah’s parents left, you two talked some more, fucked each other again, and finally you came back here. Is that all correct?”

“Yep.” Max said with a smile, completely unaffected by her brother’s very apparent anger.

“Ye-Yeah.” Herah said swaying from side to side.

GRRRRRRRR!

Herah saw and felt Alex’s and Max’s attention focus on her. Letting out an annoyed growl, Herah looked down at her stomach and shouted at it.

“Shut up! I’ll feed you when I get food.”

“I see Max was exercising her finely honed talents once again.”

Herah looked back up at Alex who was now giving his sister a pointed stare. Feeling a small amount of suspicion through her link with her, Herah turned to Max who now wore a small frown on her face.

“What-” Max paused for a moment before giving Alex a small glare, “What was that bro?”

Alex gained a small smirk and mockingly asked,

“What was what?”

Max, instead of giving her brother a retort, just let out a sigh before allowing a pleased smile to come to her face.

“I’m just going to ignore that for now, because lava tits is clearly hungry and so am I.” Max ran a hand through her disheveled hair, “I wonder if that food her mother made for her is ready yet?” Max walked behind Herah and placed both of her hands on the youngling’s shoulders before giving her a gentle push forward, “Come on Herah, why don’t you lay down against the tree while I get you one of the fruits from it?”

Max began pushing a wobbly Herah forward and around her brother, but both found their progress stopped by a curious looking Alex sticking out his arm and asking Max a question.

“Why do you call Herah lava tits?”

Max’s head shot over Herah’s shoulder, allowing for the youngling to see her partner’s beaming smile as a reply quickly flew from her mouth.

“Herah can lactate lava!”

Herah turned back to Alex and found him giving her a blank stare.

“What?” Herah asked with a heavy breath and another rumble of her stomach.

Alex shook his head and mumbled something about weird taste before backing up a bit and holding out his right hand towards Herah. For a few seconds, Herah just stared at Alex’s hand.

‘What the fuck does that mean?’

Herah looked back up at Alex with a confused grimace, which solicited an angry sigh and rolling eyes from Alex.

“Don’t give me that fucking look right now Alex,” Herah said only sounding slightly grouchy.
“I’m tired, hungry, and suffering from a bruised pride. Right now, I can’t understand anything that isn’t straight and to the point.”

Alex rolled his eyes again and shook his outstretched hand before issuing Herah an order.

“Give back my dope orb ashbrain.”

With a small frown and drowsy nod of her head, Herah stuck out her left hand and held it above Alex’s own outstretched one. Alex’s gift floated down and out of Herah’s hand and into Alex’s own. Once his orb was back, Alex moved his hand up to his mouth as yawn left it and spoke once again.

“Quick question Herah, do you only lactate after having a child or is it all the time?”

Herah gave Alex a slightly confused look before telling him,

“All female Cendreux began lactating at the age of nine, but until we have a kid every time our breast reach half of their max capacity the magma will be added to our own body for personal use.”

Alex looked away from Herah and began to tap his nose while mumbling to himself. Herah just shook her head before attempting to walk forward and towards the Donneur de Frêne once again. But before Herah could complete her step, Alex stuck out his arm once again to stop her progress.

“What Alex?” Herah asked, sounding and feeling only a tiny bit frustrated.

‘Not being as angry as I usually would is weird and oddly discomforting.’

Herah gave Alex an annoyed stare which the human matched with another sigh and, surprisingly enough, a bow.

“I wanted to tell you that I am truly thankful for what you’re doing for Max and that I’m pretty sure you did what you thought was best.”

Herah just blinked in surprise at Alex before feeling Max’s own surprise which was followed by the feeling increasing twofold.

“Really!?”
“Really!?”

Herah watched as Alex rose up from his bow, yawned, and rubbed his eyes before speaking to the pair.

“You both sound a lot more surprised then you should, I’m guessing it’s because of the bond.

“Yep.” Max said with a rapid nod of her head while Herah did a single slow nod.

“Hey sis, can you leave Herah and I alone for a bit? I want to do some one on one talking with her.”

Suspicion immediately overtook the surprise that Herah felt through her link with Max, as the human walked around Herah and up to her brother with a scrying look upon her face.

“You’re not going to do anything drastic, are you?” Max’s words came out accusatory as if knowing that’s exactly what her brother was about to do.

Alex, though very clearly tired, stared down his sister with a lighthearted smile and told her,

“I have no intention of killing Herah if that’s what you’re worried about sis.”

This did little to lower Max’s suspicions, however, since Herah felt the emotion increase twice as much at Alex’s words. Staring her brother dead in the eye, Max’s stare deepened as a small frown came to her face.

“Bro,” Max crossed her arms while speaking with an air of seriousness, “Me and you both know that killing someone is far from the worst thing you can do to them.”

“True enough,” Alex told his sister with an understanding nod before saying, “How about this, I have no plan to harm Herah at this very moment.”

Herah felt Max’s suspicion wane for a brief moment before increasing once again which was followed up with Max and Alex beginning a back and forth of sorts that Herah found herself too tired to care about. So Herah tuned the pair out and looked up to Jeffery and sent them a mental question.

‘Hey Jeffery, where is Owen right now?’

The pencil filled Herah’s head with one of their memories, showing Owen using his hammer and chisel to blast a hole into the ground before jumping into it.

‘Thanks Jeffery. Do you mind knocking a fruit over to me, I’m running low on fumes.’

Jeffery floated over to the Donneur de Frêne and knocked one of the knot-shaped fruits off of it and towards Herah. Herah caught the metallic treat with little issue before quickly taking a bite and allowing for herself to just enjoy the taste.

‘Ahh silver, extremely unhealthy but so tasty.’

Herah sent a mental thanks and request for another fruit to Jeffery, as her flame and body felt a bit renewed. After eating three more of the Donneur de Frêne fruits, Herah felt back up to one hundred percent and redirected her attention to Max and Alex.

“Why is so hard for you to say that nothing bad is going to happen between the two of you if I leave you alone?”

“Because I can’t tell the fucking future and for all I know Herah might get hostile.”

“Why would Herah get hostile bro? What could you do that would piss her off?”

Alex gained a look of complete disbelief before turning to Herah and gesturing towards Max as if to say: Can you believe what she’s saying. Herah rolled her eyes and tapped Max on the shoulder, causing the human to turn and face her partner.

“Yeah, lava tits?” Max said with no small amount of affection.

Herah pushed the subtle narrowing of Alex’s eyes to the back of her head before speaking to Max.

“Just go on, I’m pretty sure I know what your brother wants to talk about and its unlikely to end in violence.”

This got Herah a feeling of surprise from Max and two looks of the same emotion from both Alex and Max. With pursed lips, Max gave Herah a stern face that made it visibly clear for everyone there that her feelings hadn’t changed a bit. In response to this, Herah bent her knees until her eyes were level with Max’s and asked her a question.

“Why don’t you trust your brother on this one? Alex did say they have no plan on hurting me so I’ll probably be fine if I just talk with him for a bit.”

Max stern look grew even sterner, but Herah knew that it was an act from Max. This was because the youngling felt Max’s suspicion become matched by a feeling of trust as her stare loosened and a sigh left her.

“Ok, I’ll leave you two alone but,” Max gave Alex and Herah a glare each, “I’ll be back in fifteen minutes. By then you better be done, so we can make a plan.”

Herah nodded in agreement to Max’ words then looked over to Alex and found him nodding as well.

“Owen and I have the threads of a plan already, but we needed to know what the state of your gift was, how ashbrain’s gift worked, and the exact physical capabilities of ashbrain first. Now all I need to know about is those last two things and that can happen when you get back so,” Alex made a shooing gesture towards Max, “Shoo.”

Herah didn’t even need to look at Max to know that the human gave her brother a death glare before walking out of the clearing. As Max exited the clearing, Alex pointed up to Jeffery and asked Herah to get them to leave. Herah didn’t even bother looking or telling Jeffery anything, the pencil just shot away on their own accord.

With the clearing now empty sans herself and Alex, Herah gained a somewhat interested look, put both of her hands behind her head, and began popping the bones in her back. While doing this, Herah watched Alex walk up to her and give her a quick sniff.

“What the ash was that?” Herah asked Alex, as the human backed away from her and nodded to himself. With a couple of feet now between the two, Alex looked up to Herah and gave her a small glare.

“I just wanted to know whether or not you smell like you just fucked my sister.”

“Was that all you wanted to know?” One of Herah’s brow rose in confusion, “You could’ve done that with her here.”

“Of course that’s not all I want to know dumbass,” Alex scoffed at Herah as the youngling growled back at him, “I wanted to know a few things, cheifly how my sister was actually doing.”

“Max already said everything was okay, you don’t trust her word or something?” Herah asked Alex with a slightly confused stare while popping the bones in her neck.

“Herah, I’ve known Max for seventeen years now,” Alex shoved both of his hands into the pockets of his jacket before looking towards Max had left, “She tends to lie when she doesn’t want me to worry about something.” Alex let out another sigh as his left hand emerged from its pocket and gestured towards Herah, “I’m quite sure you experienced it to a certain degree when originally talking about what happened last night.”

Herah stuck her left arm and crossed her right over it while looking towards where Max had exited the clearing, silently agreeing with Alex’s assessment of his sister. Turning back to face Alex, Herah couldn’t help but think about how Max blamed him for what had happened.

‘I kinda feel bad for you asshole, especially since I’m quite sure you don’t know exactly everything Max has lied to you about.’

“So what,” Alex turned to look back at Herah who gave him a “really” stare while also switching her arms into opposite positions, “Do you just not trust anything your sister says?”

This got Herah a roll of his eyes and shaking of Alex’s head.

“I’m just a bit more scrutinizing of anything Max tells me if she’s been through something that I think would leave me upset for some reason or another.”

“How often is that?” Herah asked now with her hands back behind her head.

“A little too often to be honest.” Alex shook his head, before once again gesturing towards Herah with his outstretched hand, “Anyway how is she doing right now?”

“Your sister is feeling very worried and horny right now.” Herah told Alex after taking a second to observe the link between the two.

“Which of us is she worried about?”

“Not sure,” Herah said with a shrug of her shoulders, “I can only guess who her emotions are directed at.”

Alex nodded at Herah’s answer before sticking his left hand back into its pocket and asking Herah another question.

“Did Max tell you not to tell me anything?”

“Yep.”

“Should I be worried about it?”

Herah thought to herself for a moment before giving Alex her reply.

“Yep.”

“Will you tell me why she didn’t want me to learn about?”

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

“Because that was one of the conditions of which Max would talk to me. I had to promise not reveal any information that wasn’t confirmed by her to be okay.”

“What if I ordered you to tell me?”

“I would die.”

“I’m sorry.” Herah watched as Alex seemingly short-circuited for a moment before taking a deep breath and letting it out, “Can you clarify?”

“If you ordered me to tell you what Max told me, I would die,” Herah dryly said.

“Why?”

“Remember how I said that one of the most grievous insults I could ever levy on La Flamme was to go back on my word?”

“Yeah,” Alex responded clearly not sure of where Herah was going with this.

“Well, there are repercussions I would suffer for such insults. For that one, in particular, my flame would instantly snuff itself out.”

Herah watched as Alex let out another sigh before looking away from her and beginning to tap his nose. Seeing Alex’s reaction, Herah looked away from him and towards the Oni’s home finding the most peculiar of sites.

‘Why the ash is there a storm brewing right there, and why is it stationary?’

Herah thought about for a bit longer but couldn’t think of a reason, so the youngling redirected her attention to Alex. The human had just let out another sigh and pinched his neck, looking none too happy by whatever his thoughts had led him to conclude. Alex then looked back towards Herah and asked her another question, this one sounding a lot more serious than the previous ones to Herah.

“How do you feel about Max?”

Herah looked back towards the direction Max had exited the clearing through before giving Alex her answer.

“I have a crush on your sister.”

Alex let out another sigh as a frown came to his face before asking Herah another question that seemed just as important as the one before.

“What do you plan on doing about this crush?”

“Nothing right now,” Herah said, blinking back at Alex as if that was obvious, “My plans for Max at this very moment are helping her deal with the trauma of killing all of those Oni, getting to know her better, and screwing her.”

“So you have no plans of attempting to be more than friends with benefits with my sister?” Alex asked sounding very hopeful.

“None right now, I might get one later.”

Herah wasn’t too surprised when Alex let out another sigh and his frown returned much deeper than before. Taking his right hand from its pocket, Alex covered his face while shaking his head in an exasperated fashion.

“Ok Herah,” Alex began, clearly annoyed by Herah’s answer, “I’m gonna need you to keep your current relationship status with my sister even if she meets your standards. I would actually prefer if you changed it to just friends by the way.”

With those words, Herah lost her curious expression entirely and instead switched to a glare that lacked its usual strength.

“Why is that Alex?” Herah asked, tilting her head just a bit as a feeling of annoyance began to build up within her.

“Fatality amongst the participants is an almost certainty when in Recompense, after all no more than eight of the participants ever make it to the end alive. And that’s usually when the pool is a lot larger than our current one.”

“How do you even know this?” Herah asked believing the words coming out of Alex’s mouth to be utter bullshit, “And what does that even have to do with me and your sister’s relationship?”

“How I know does not matter, and the answer to your second question is quite simple. You have the highest chance of fatality in our group, and your death will be bad enough for her deal with as you guys are now. So let’s not plant that fire hazard in a forest.”

Herah began growling at Alex causing wisp of green fire to flow from her nose and for the same colored flames to began leaking from her mouth.

“So what if I have a higher chance of dying than everyone else in our group, by the sounds of it that chance is already high enough to begin with. Plus, you were the one earlier who said they couldn’t determine the fucking future, did you suddenly gain that power all of a sudden?”

“Hmmm,” Herah watched as Alex began tapping his nose slowly and methodically, before snapping his fingers and giving Herah a wide smile and using a forcefully cheery voice, “No I haven’t gained seer sight at the very moment. However, allow me to key you in on something I know to be certain.”

Alex shoved his hand back into its pocket and crossed the few feet that separated him from Herah, maintaining his false demeanor right up and until reaching the youngling. As soon as Alex reached Herah, the human took his right hand from his pocket and rested it on Herah’s shoulder. Alex’s smile then turned into a condescending grin and his voice took on a more malicious tone.

“Myself and Max will make it out of this alive, you’re… debatable at best.”

Herah almost immediately shot back a retort, but a thought mid-shout caused her to pause. After a few seconds of mulling it over, green flames began to leak from Herah’s eyes, and the fire in her mouth and leaving her nose flared. Flicking Alex’s hand off of her shoulder, Herah glared accusingly at the human.

“This isn’t at all abou-” Herah shook her head, “No, this is partly about how my death could affect Max. But keeping me disposable is a larger priority in your eyes, isn’t it? After all, that’s why you asked me to make that deal with you earlier. You thought of me as a tool to use and throw away if needed, but I bet I fucked that all the way up when I started fucking your sister!”

We’re alone.”

SNIKT!

Herah popped all ten of her claws and glared down at Alex now a bit on edge, with Alex looking back up at her with a cold expression. After a few seconds of the two just staring each down, Alex began speaking to Herah in an uncaring tone of voice.

“You are exactly fucking right.” Alex held up a hand, stopping Herah before a word could leave her, “In my eyes, you’re a weapon to be used and discarded at my leisure.”

“Then what the hell was that about respect earlier, a fucking sham!?”

“Of course not, you just seem to have forgotten what I said. You have earned a bit of my respect, just a tiny bit. Which is why I now see you as a weapon instead of a defective tool.”

“Fuck you!”

“Sorry I’d prefer not to have my sister’s sloppy seconds.”

The fire leaking from Herah’s mouth, nose, and eyes flared once again as the youngling snarled at Alex. Herah’s next words came through gritted teeth.

“They only reason I’m not attacking you right now is because Max clearly doesn’t want us to fight.”

“Hmmm. Nice to see my sister has a leash on you.”

“GRRRR.”

“Down girl.” Alex responded with a condescending tone and an equally condescending grin that didn’t leave his face even when Herah shot her left hand out to allow for her claws to hover over Alex’s throat.

“That leash you mention isn’t too secure.”

“Then maybe I should tighten the one I have.”

“What!? Are you going to order me to not get close to your sister, to not challenge you or some shit like that?”

“No, neither would really solve the problem.”

“I can agree with you on that. Neither would remove that stick from your ass. Something like that would take an actual fucking miracle.”

Alex backed away from Herah and pointed at her mouth.

“That right there is the problem.”

“What, my mouth? How so?”

“You don’t talk to me with respect. Which means my problem is you haven’t submitted to me yet. As long as you believe you have the chance of taking me on, you won’t be as useful as you could be and that’s problematic.”

“Well good fucking luck with that, because I’m sure as ash never going to willingly submit to you.”

Alex nodded at Herah words looking none to bothered by them.

“I know, that’s why I’m going to do what I’m about to do.”

“And what would that be-”

The magma in your breast should be melting them right now.

Almost immediately Herah knew something was wrong with her chest. It started with the feeling of several drops of hot, gooey liquid (that Herah definitely knew wasn’t just magma) slowly rolling down the sides of her breast and towards her abs. Then the smell of burning skin filled her nose, and Herah began to feel steam filling her bra and shirt. This was followed up with Herah allowing her claws to retract and for all of the green flames coming from her head to stop flowing and dissipate in confusion. Herah then raised a hand to one of her breasts and felt what was for sure liquified skin and magma seep into and through her bra and shirt.

You can feel the pain.”

A few seconds later the pain registered in her brain.

“AAAAAHHHH!”

The sound of a high pitched, distinctly feminine voice crying out filled the clearing. It took Herah a second to realize that it was her voice that filled the clearing as tears began to flow from her eyes. The crying was soon followed by her collapsing down to the ground and writhing in agony as white began to dot her vision. Then the feeling of her breast liquifying reached Herah and filled her with such pain and terror that the youngling dragged her shirt and bra off. With her head and hair now smeared with a mixture of gooey skin and magma, Herah tried to grab both of her breast only to feel them began to soften and meld into each other and her hands. A few more seconds passed before Herah felt one of her breast actually detach from her body and flop into the other one. This caused Herah’s other breast to detach as well and for magma to began spilling onto the ground and around her.

Herah had no idea where Alex was but found herself unable to care about it. Instead, Herah was more focused on the pain that was still felt from where her breast had previously been. Pushing through the agony, Herah forced herself onto her back and reached up and into the now exposed inner area of her body. Herah soon felt one of her fingers brush against a beating organ, the name of which took her a few seconds to come up with.

‘My heart, this is my heart. So if I move a bit to the right, there is my flame.’

Herah’s hand dipped into her flame and a certain sense of warmth began to feel her entire body as the red fire in her chest began to amplify and encase her in a shroud of itself. Herah’s mind cleared up even more as her vision began to clear and the pain from before began to dull.

The fire is in your chest and you’re awake.”

Herah suffered a mental whiplash as all the pain from before struck her without mercy and became so overbearing that her mind went blank for a second and her vision completely blacked out. Yet consciousness didn’t escape her, Herah was sure of this since soon the sound of yet another agonized scream in her own voice greeted her ears. This time, however, the scream was for a different reason.

‘Mo- Mo- Motherfucker! I can’t feel- I can’t feel my flame! I can’t feel my flame!’

Herah cried out within the confines of her mind as more tears began pouring from her eyes. The disconnect from her fire had filled Herah with two feelings that the youngling absolutely hated.

Shame and powerlessness.

Both emotions overtook Herah as the youngling laid on her back unable to do anything but cry, writhe in pain, and scream until her voice was hoarse and afterward weakly whimper.

‘Da-Da-Dammit! This wasn’t even a fight.’

You can hear.

Herah (still quite scattered brain and terrified) showed barely any reaction to Alex’s words, but was able to figure out that the human now stood to her right with his mouth to her ear. Alex soon began to whisper harshly to Herah

“This is the power I hold over you. At any place, at any time, I can do this to you. I can leave you completely and utterly powerless. And you can’t do a single thing to stop it. Nod your head if you understand me.”

Herah let out a small whimper before shamefully nodding her head.

“Good, because this will happen to you, every time you challenge me. This will happen to you every time I get tired of your shit. And this will most definitely happen to you if you try to become anything more than my sister’s close fuck buddy. Nod if you understand.”

The tears running down Herah’s cheeks began to flow much quicker as the youngling once again shamefully nodded her head.

“Good,” Herah felt Alex raise his head away from hers and rise back up to his full height, “As long as we have this understanding we shouldn’t have an-”

WHAM!

CRUNCH!

“GAAHH! Dammit! What broke my fucking arm!?” Alex let out a gasp, “Je- Jeffery how the hell did you get here!? My eight minutes weren’t up yet!”


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Thomas Loud
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