By Tooth And Claw Dragons

The Iron Maiden

A thick book covered in scratches that detail the legend of the Iron Maiden and its significance to both War and Death demons.

The Iron Maiden was originally the nickname of a War Kingdom succubus of ages past, mere centuries after the advent of the fall of the Demon King Gabriel, who was beloved by all four Kingdoms of Kurai. She was the favored concubine of a War n’vaen general and no slouch on the battlefield herself, having ended the lives of many men with her weapons just as skillfully as she had taken them in the bedroom.

While she was not quite as powerful as n’vaen, she refused to let that stop her. And, for what it was worth, she was mighty among the lethaos - rivaling some of their superiors. It was often joked that any lethaos who could best her in the arena surely had balls worthy of a n’vaen. Then again, there were no lethaos who could see such a contest through to the end.

The succubus in her made heads turn and eyes rise up and down over her curvature – only to be reminded with her stern glare that her charms were for the general and the general alone. And the new absence of the usual target of her affections only served to direct her passion towards bloodier conquests. Furthermore, she was the mother of several children with this general. And while they could never be n’vaen, these children were provided for out of love for his favored concubine.

After a large battle between the Death and War Kingdoms, this general was captured, and was to be publicly executed within the week. Upon hearing this, she gathered the best blacksmiths and mages of the War Kingdom to do her a favor for the sake of their Kingdom. “Build me a suit that will give me the strength of one hundred n’vaen – I must have such power at any cost – any cost.”

But the difference between a n’vaen-level demon and a lowly lethaos level demon such as a succubus is vast. The cost, indeed, would have to be great. And while the succubus had access to much of her master’s coffers, it would not be enough. The blacksmiths and mages both warned her that whatever that price amount was, it would cost her dearly. To which, she repeated her earlier insistence: “Any cost.”

And thus, the Iron Maiden’s armor was completed – a black, featureless lump of onyx gemsteel, seeming to engulf any light that hit it. One might assume it was a mere shadow on the ground with how little light it reflected. Few blades could scratch it, let alone cut through it. The inside was inlaid with crystalline conduits – which pierced through the flesh and created a feedback loop for the wearer’s magic, thus amplifying it to dangerous levels for a gigantic, short-lived power boost – making one’s physical form bloated with magical might.

The increase in might was such that any individual would tear their own limb from its socket from a simple sword swing. But the sword swing would shear through a dragon’s skull like fruit rotted to a soft mush. And the armor made sure to pin the limb in place via its multitude of crystalline conduits – permanently stitching the arm to the body.

The night before the suit was completed, the Iron Maiden engaged in a ritualistic cleansing in a bath of blood. To the War samurai, blood was as water, and as she immersed herself, she prayed to Neiren, the demon dragon goddess of the War Kingdom, to bestow on her the courage to see this plan through.

When the dawn rose, the Iron Maiden kissed each of her four children goodbye, taking care not to wake them. With an entourage of the general’s personal guard, she rode in a small carriage, which contained only her and the suit. And as she stared into the suit, she prayed to Neiren for the strength to endure the spines within.

And as they reached the outskirts of the prison, the entourage helped her down, bowing before the curvaceous crimson-haired succubus. They worked in silence – some occasionally looking to the succubus’s face, attempting to peer into the eyes to understand, to grasp the depths of her determination.

And as the placed down and set up the armor for her to step into, she bowed to all of them. “Go. Tell our people of the sacrifice today. Glory to Neiren, she of the bloody scales.”

As the guards left her, evacuating the area as had been planned, she bit into her finger, deep enough to draw blood. She painted a line of it underneath each cheek, as she whispered to the blood moon lit heavens for Neiren to bestow on her the dignity of a warrior’s death. As she turned and backed into the armor and pressed herself against the spines, she took a deep breath, burning into her mind the prison walls before her… before she plunged herself upon the spikes.

The prison guards heard a ghastly bloody scream. But before they could ready themselves properly, a juggernaut of pitch-black armor like a massive mobile titantoise burst through the thick stone walls, and let out a beastly roar, before it drove its spiked gauntlets into the gut of the nearest guard. Impaling the other into the hapless n’vaen, she tore him in twain.

There were few witnesses that survived to tell the tale of what happened that day. But the general himself emerged from the ruins, only to see a suit of pitchblack gemsteel with its fists wedged through the warden’s stomach. Its entire body had become a pincushion for the Death Kingdom’s weapons. In spite of that, it had massacred the entire prison.

How this armor came to be an instrument of torture is a source of great controversy. The War Kingdom believe that the Death Kingdom stole the design, and employed it as a torture device in order to spite and curse the namesake succubus. The Death Kingdom claim that it was to drive home the futility of resisting them – that even with the armor, it was all pointless, meaningless.

Regardless, there is only one truth. The Iron Maiden is a weapon and prison to be feared. When one hears the trademark scream blending pure anguish and unbridled rage, recall the fate of those that fell to the original Iron Maiden and run – run as long as it takes for the beast to bleed itself dry – let it feast upon the fools who underestimate the power of a prisoner who has no care but to kill.

Written/Told by: Sadaotoshi, blacksmith and weapons fanatic
Contributed by: JPG

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