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New Collaborative Title: The Demon Chain

Oh! Hello! What is this? Is it a collaboration between myself and Lisa Lopez? Is it an erotic fantasy of demonic possession, set in a world of adventure, war, and dark magic? Why, yes. It is. By now you'll know that trying new things and pushing my writing in strange directions is sort of what happens here.

So, when Lisa said she wanted to write a fantasy story about a woman who is forced to serve a demon's sexual urges, well, that's where that old Hamlin weirdness couldn't help but assert itself. Seeing as we're working on a much larger story together, it seemed like fun to give it a go with something wildly different from the upcoming novel.

The result, I have to say, is one of the most fun novellas I've done since Doppelgänger. That one kind of stretched my wings on the fantasy front, but with this one, we're diving headfirst into creating a new world of our own.

The Demon Chain is a fantastic combination of Lisa's characters and imaginative setting, with the dirty noncon and reluctance of a Hamlin story, complete with the inner struggle against dark desires. Throw in some epic, spellcasting badassery and a heart-rending love story to round things out, and we've got ourselves a tale to tell.

The Demon Chain by Lisa X Lopez and Tori Hamlin

Thousands of years ago, seven ancient demons of incredible power were sealed away within seven magical artifacts. The demon chains were forged to contain their evil powers, but even the greatest of magic couldn't harness them fully. In time, the chains passed into legend and were forgotten by most.

In the ruins of Dar'Kasha, Jalissa hunts for lost treasures. She's a pilferer, a scavenger, wandering the world in search of artifacts to sell. When she uncovers a hidden chamber, the treasure she finds within is one that will exact a terrible price on her, instead.

Within this forgotten room, in the dusty fingers of a desiccated skeleton, is a gem-laden chain that glows with its own magical light. The thing seems to sing to her, to call to her, urging her to bear it from the darkness. What Jalissa doesn't realize, is that she's just carried forth an ancient evil. And it's one that's begun to consume her soul from the moment she touched it.

Now, she's in a race against time, fighting the demon's compulsions and her own temptation. She finds herself in the company of a less-than-competent mage, with the demon's power growing as it uses her body to feed. Before it can consume her, she'll need to find a way to free herself from its vile hold or perish in the attempt.

Chapter One: The Ruins

Jalissa stumbled into the ruined stone building, desperate for cover from the storm. Three days of dry weather had made poking about the jungle-covered ruins an excellent foray, but eventually, it had to end. The storm came up with little warning and blinding speed, dumping a deluge of rain and deafening thunder down on her within seconds.

None of the other crumbling heaps of ancient buildings had anything resembling a roof, but this one did. It was a godsend in the sudden downpour. Only a few dried flakes of what must have been a once grand set of gigantic doors lay strewn across the entrance, which was growing darker by the second.

Jalissa set her pack down and fumbled inside. The contents were blessedly dry. She set aside the carefully wrapped gems she’d been able to find, as well as the two little idols that would fetch a good price at the market in Canilia. This latest scavenging hadn’t been the most profitable, but at least it wasn’t a total loss. She located her catch-flint, flicked the little metal box back and forth until it sparked, and then lit one of the tallow torches from her pack.

The flickering glow threw menacing shadows across the old, weathered stone floor and walls of the place. The little bubble of light didn’t reach far. She replaced the items in the pack, shouldered it, and made a quick circuit of the room. On the walls, faded artwork was mostly unrecognizable. What was left didn’t provide much of a clue to the structure’s purpose. Since it had a well-constructed stone roof, which had remained intact over the centuries, she supposed that it must have been a place of some importance. Little remained of the rest of the city but broken rock, swallowed by the jungle.

On the far wall, she found the only remaining piece of evidence, and it was valuable. Inlayed in the stone was a pattern of gems, laid out in the symbol for infinity. The gems glittered red under the dancing flame of her torch, and they were breathtaking. All the centuries gone, yet these beautiful stones remained? It seemed impossible. Surely other adventurers and looters had picked this place clean through the years. How had no one managed to find this?

Torch in one hand, she slid her knife from her belt and tested the edges of one of the gems. The stone around it flecked away against her work. She carefully dug at the edges of the gem, sweat beading on her brow in the suffocating heat of the enclosed space. Finally, the first of the red stones came free. She nearly dropped it as it popped out with a crack. She shoved it in a pocket for the moment and went to work on the next. This one was lodged in tighter than the other and she had to work delicately to get enough of the surrounding stone wall away to get her knife under the edge.