Sojourn’s End: Chapter 5. ReSpiteful
I just about jumped out of my skin, when I heard a knocking at the apartment entrance door. ‘Who could this be?’ I wondered. ‘Surely not the bird-woman already?’ Cautiously opening the door, I was not-relieved to see that it was not the bird-woman I had just evicted.
No, it was someone much worse.
It was Belphegor.
Belphegor the Baphomet, a seemingly innocent looking Demon who superficially resembled a prepubescent human girl. Or would, if I could discount her caprine features: fur covered paws, head horns, hooved feet, and a fur covered tail. Her virtuous countenance was at odds with her sadistic actions. It was only hours ago that she had attempted to enslave me through her magic and guile. I nearly killed her in retaliation; not because I thought she wanted to rape me, but because I thought she was going to torture me.
For you see, I have been tortured by demons before. It occurred a long time ago, but it was not an experience I cared to repeat.
I would have thought that my attempt on her life would inspire her to avoid me from then on. Instead, here she was, standing in my apartment’s doorway with a cheerful smile on her face. That smile she bore as she stood an arm’s length away, was nearly enough to set my mind at ease.
My ease of mind evaporated, when I saw what she was holding in her paws in front of her: My Shield, my most prized possession; A round silver metal shield gifted to me from a Chaos God, ages ago.
Right then, I wanted to violently rip that shield from Belphegor’s foul touch, but I dared not. If she could goad me into violating my Oath of Hospitality, it would give her the opportunity to violate me. Just the thought of her machinations was enough to make me desire the taste of demon blood, again.
“Hello Belphegor,” I said as politely as I could manage, smiling through clenched teeth, “I see you have brought me my Shield! That is very kind of you to bring it!” I held my hand out in anticipation. She, made no effort to return it.
“Hello Arawn,” She replied, in a voice as sweet as saccharine. “May I come in?” She simpered. A calm part of me said that letting her in, would be a good thing. The saner part of me was looking in horror at that calm part.
‘Quintus! (1)’ I demanded. Quintus did not need to ask what I desired, he began a passive scan to see if I was being mentally coerced.
“I just wanted to speak with you, Arawn, perchance a little one-on-one talk?” she continued with a docile tilt to her goat horned head. Was it my imagination, or did I hear an innuendo in her voice just then?
‘No sign of active eldritch coercion Primus. However, she is generating a passive-innocence field. Guard yourself. (5)’ Quintus said, his report gave me some peace of mind. I thought I might have been going insane.
“I am sorry Belphegor, but seeing as I have not settled in, my apartment is such a mess and I would hate to have guests view it now.” I bantered back, maintaining our polite fiction. Ever hopeful, I held out my hand, which she ignored.
“Oh, I suppose I will just have said what I mean to say, out here in this public hall way,” she said, gazing languidly around her to the left and right, “where just anyone could happen to listen in.” I dropped my hand in resignation, since she was determined to draw this out.
I waited for what she had to say, until after a too long of a pause, she started, “I’ve been assigned to monitor you Arawn, and I’m required to report to the Great Maou anything you do,” she added, looking at me straight in my eyes, “and everything you shouldn’t,” she continued, “such as your recent expulsion of Vasi from your rooms.”
And there it was. I had a choice to make, I could either let her in, and lose what little supernatural protection I had against her, (for once an invitation is extended, it cannot be rescinded thus allowing her free rein).
Or, if word got to the Great Maou, of my forcible expulsion of that bird-woman, I could be evicted for my breach of Hospitality.
Either way, I would be left vulnerable to Belphegor! Just the thought of that was enough to send chills up my spine!
I did not need Quartus’ telepathy to know what was going on in that festering mind of hers. She knew I had no choice but to invite her in. She was toying with me, and enjoying every second of it. How I resented her sadistic games!
“Will you please… come inside….Belphegor?” I scowled angrily, resigning myself to the inevitable.
“Why certainly,” she said cheerfully, as she approached me directly, instead of moving off to one side like anyone else would. I inadvertently stumbled backwards in an attempt to avoid a collision between the two of us. She, on the other hand, seemed to take my doing so, as an invitation to chase me like I was her prey and she the predator! Once I caught on to her game I stopped. She chose to remain uncomfortably close to me, with only my shield between us.
Even then, she still refused to hand it over. Instead, she glanced over to my right and behind me. I looked over my shoulder to see what she had looked at. I then noticed that she had maneuvered us both, till I was near ready to fall back onto the bed mattress. I then turned my head back and glared at her with a frown. She gave me a smile of triumph. ‘Sickening!’-I thought to myself.
“I feel that we’ve gotten off to a bad start in our relationship Arawn.” She whispered to me huskily, her eyes boring into mine. “Come, let us be friends instead.” With that she raised my shield and extended it out to me. Eagerly, I accepted it. I felt good to feel the ever-present coolness of it again. Once more, I had full contact with my not-brothers.
“After all, Arawn, friends never withhold something that the other wants from them, do they?” Her statement shook me from my reverie. “Here I am, giving you your shield that you wanted so badly.”
“And what is it that you want from me Belphegor?” I asked resignedly.
“I want your cooperation, Arawn.” She said sharply. “You have so much of it available. I could put it to good use every day, several times a day! Come, let us work towards Her Majesty’s Grand Plan- together.” She smiled as she took a half step closer to me, her eyes smoldering like a plains fire.
I held my position as a look of utter distaste spread across my face. I refused to give her so much as a centimeter. Instead of reacting angrily, she seemed amused by my revulsion of her. We silently held our respective positions for what seemed like forever, but was less than a minute.
Suddenly, she stepped back, turned around, then went to the still open door. I began to breathe a sigh of relief, as I thought that she was going to go away. But that hope was dashed when I saw her pick something up, and then she returned skipping, carrying it in her paws.
“Arawn?” she asked, oh so innocently. ‘Here it comes.’ I said to myself.
“I have a peace-offering for you.” She said, presenting it up to me. “Here! Try one! In fact, go ahead and have a handful! You can trust me!” She said, grinning from furry ear to furry ear.
She was holding the Borgia bowl, still filled with the Jelly babies, “Let us be friends!” she grinned. I looked back at her, astonished. Apparently, she had not been aware of what had transpired between her Mistress and me.
“Yes,” I replied, smiling happily as I reached out to take one of the Jelly Babies. “Let us both be trustworthy friends.” Her face flushed with triumph as I replied. Just for a second, I thought I saw her eyes flicker over to the canopied bed behind me. Did I see her smile widen a notch? I took ahold of one of the confections, and made amply sure that it touched the rim of the bowl as I pulled it up and out.
Her face fell like a collapsing building upon her seeing me do that. I could see her cheeks and nostrils flare out as she gave out a rapid huff.
Then, she all but slammed the Borgia bowl and its contents, down upon the table that stood next to the doorway. She glowered angrily at me as I felt her summon eldritch energy. I did so in kind, in preparation. I was certain I was about to find out what kind of Fury, a sexually frustrated demon could be!
‘Battle-stations! Prepare to Split!’ I mentally called out to my not brothers. I quickly received battle status readiness from them all. A fight she wanted, a fight she would receive!
Just then, I heard a voice from out in the hallway: “Belphegor?” it said. It was not a voice I recognized. But Belphegor apparently did, as she cast her eyes angrily over her shoulder in the direction of the speaker. Reluctantly, she dispelled her energy and I did so in kind. Before leaving, she stared at me with her glowing red eyes and said loudly, “I WILL have you, Arawn!”
“Not today, Nanny-Goat!” I sneered in reply. She gave me one final glare and then left the room, stomping her hooves all the way. As she turned the corner outside my door way, I saw her look up at someone and snarl out a greeting: “Aeshma!”, this Aeshma replied quietly, “Belphegor.” When she disappeared, I breathed out a sigh of relief and closed my eyes. ‘THAT, was just a little too close for comfort. Stand down brothers.’
I did not look when I heard, “Annwyfn Arawn? May I come in?” A feminine voice called out.
“You made Belphegor go away! You may enter whenever you wish, my dear!” I replied. It was a true relief to find someone who could intimidate Belphegor!
I then heard the sound of feet enter my room, approach me, and then stop.
“Oh My!” Aeshma presumably, said loudly, “MY, my, my,my,…MY!” she breathed. Opening my eyes, I perceived a tall red-headed Succubus standing before me gaping at me. Instead of continuing her one-sided conversation, all she did was pant heavily.
As the seconds ticked by, I noticed that her breathing continued to increase in both volume and intensity. I felt a sudden need to interrupt her train of thought. (or lack thereof). Did I just substitute one threat for another?
“And with whom am I having the pleasure of being panted upon; Aeshma is it?” From somewhere in the depths of her fascination, she nodded slowly. I had to clear my throat several times, before she was able to tear her gaze away. After she had done, she seemed embarrassed by her actions. I noticed her wiping her mouth, then swallowing as if she had a mouthful of saliva.
This gave me the opportunity to look at her more fully. I had hoped to see a Demon or Monster-Girl dressed conservatively; with Aeshma, that hope was fulfilled. If not for the horns that hovered over her curly red hair, or her scarlet eyes, I would have judged her human.
Her pantsuit was well fitted in that I could see neither her wings nor her tail, until she turned profile. Over one of her shoulders, she carried a dark cloth satchel. When I Scent-breathed, I noticed that her scent was Demonic with a hint of honeysuckle. I could also smell her embarrassment, which was genuine. ‘Interesting, a demon capable of being embarrassed? How odd!’
After she regained her composure, she spoke, “My apologies. Annwyfn Arawn, is it?” she inquired, pointedly not looking at me.
“Arawn alone will be sufficient.” I replied quietly, still in wonder at her behaviors. She then approached the little side table upon which Belphegor had placed her candy bowl, and lay something down upon the table next to it. After that, she retreated to the doorway.
I chose that moment to place my shield upon the wall facing the bed. It, like always, stayed there of its own accord.
“What is that?” I asked, pointing to the item she had placed upon the table. It was a curious looking object. At first glance, it appeared to be nothing more than a clear glass cylinder filled with a yellowish liquid. Upon my peering closely at it, I noticed that it seemed to have only one end! My eyes unfocused, when I attempted to examine it for its other end.
‘Quintus, thoughts? (1)’
She, still not looking at me, replied. “It’s something more for my benefit than yours, Ann…Arawn.” I patiently waited for an explanation. None came.
‘To the benefit of a demon versus mine? I am hardly likely to comply, Aeshma!’ I thought to myself, folding my arms.
‘Primus! This Periapt, it does not extend into another dimension. I am unable to give you any more information concerning it, until I can conduct a physical exam. (5)’
After I had not touched the object for well over a minute, she spoke, “Please Arawn, just pick it up. I promise you, that nothing untoward will happen if you do.” She pleaded, still not looking at me. I noticed then, that she seemed to be perspiring heavily.
When I went ahead and picked it up, Aeshma visibly relaxed and looked over at me with a relieved smile.
“Thank You!” she stated, “It’s a Periapt of Concealment. It will hide your Essence from Mamono, allowing you to walk amongst us, relatively unmolested.”
“Essence?” I asked in curiosity, “What is this, Essence? Has it anything to do with the way all of you Mamono keep looking at me as if I am something good to eat?” She giggled nervously as she looked away, by way of reply.
“May I sit?” she asked, I nodded. She went over to the bed and did so, crossing her legs at the ankle. I noticed then her sensible shoes.
“It’s funny you put it that way Arawn.” She said smiling. “Essence is known by many names. It is commonly known as: Life Force. To be more precise, it’s Human Life Force, or Soul Energy.”
“All right,” I replied, “But what does…” She interrupted.
“Let me continue,” she said holding up a hand. “We Demons call Human Essence by other names: Mana, or Food.” I jerked in surprise.
‘That would explain a lot of things, Primus.’ (2) Secundus spoke, ‘Mana is present in all parts of the human body.’
“As I recall, Demons have a taste for human flesh, particular…” I noticed then that Aeshma held up her hand again. I waited.
“We Had.” She said indignantly, “We HAD a taste for human flesh. Not anymore. Not since the Great Maou took over from the previous Demon Lord.”
“Intriguing.” I replied, “So how do Demons feed…oh wait.” I stopped in dawning realization. She smiled again, nodding.
“This essence you mention, that you demons feed on; our Souls? If you’re not eating human flesh anymore, then what, Blood?” She shook her head, still with that cheerful smile.
“It is a liquid.” She said, giving me a hint.
“Sweat? Saliva?” I guessed.
“To an extent yes. But you’re almost there, keep going.” ‘Oh she is enjoying this.’ I thought to myself with a hint of frustration.
I thought about it for a bit more. Then it hit me like a sledgehammer. “Semen?” I whispered, incredulous. I had my answer when she smirked.
“Faex!” I replied in wonder. “But how do Demons obtain….” I trailed off, remembering that I was speaking with a Succubus.
She giggled again, rather attractively I thought, “The usual way. Though many of us tend to get a bit …creative,…in our extraction process.” She said with a smoldering look.
I felt an overwhelming need to sit down then, just not anywhere near her, I chose to lean against the side table well away from her.
Just then, ‘Uh Primus? Status Report. (5)’
‘Yes Quintus? (1)’
‘Secundus is, how do I put this? “beside himself with joy.” He’s becoming a bit of a distraction to the rest of us here. Any suggestions? (5)’
‘A cold shower, perhaps? (1)’
‘We will give it a shot. Out. (5)’
Oh, this was not good. At this rate, Secundus and my other not-brothers would soon be demanding a ‘field trip’ to experience first-hand some of these ‘extraction processes’. It had been some time since their last opportunity, after all.
‘Well, one forest fire at a time.’ I thought.
Looking back at her I asked, “That does not explain your reaction, Aeshma.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Great Maou mentioned to me that married Mamono would not be interested in such as I. Yet, are you not married? That does not jibe with what I just witnessed of you.”
“Ah,” she replied, “Am I Married? Yes! Am I Dead? No!” she sighed with a hint of exasperation.
“Even though, I do get an adequate amount of my husband’s essence, we’re still new enough in our relationship that he does not provide me enough.” She continued, “Most male humans produce about the equivalent of a snack, to us Demons. They provide just enough, to satisfy our appetite. But not enough, to satiate our hunger.”
“Why does your husband not provide enough?”
“Because, he’s not yet a full Incubus. As he approaches that state, his ‘production levels’ will increase to meet my needs.” She inhaled deeply with her eyes closed. “But until he reaches full Incubus, I am forced to be….patient.” Her eyes opened and she locked her gaze with mine.
“Let me put it another way; A normal human male’s essence could be compared to a candle in the dark of a moonless night. A human male sorcerer, would be comparable to a cooking fire.” She looked at me square on, “You Arawn, are the equivalent of a Bonfire. A bonfire visible for miles around to every Mamono here in the heart of Royal Makai, the seat of the Great Maou’s power.”
“Thus, this device,” I said holding it up. ‘I think I like this Periapt!’
“Indeed, Arawn. Without that, you’d be besieged by every lusty Mamono nearby, and there are thousands of them here. All of them hungry for essence.” She smiled again, as she cocked an eyebrow at the feathers of the Bird-woman that lay near the balcony door.
“I see that you’ve already discovered just how much of a distraction you can be.” She said with a wicked grin. A thoughtful look spread across her face, then.
“I do have a request though. I’d like you to put that device down for just a few seconds. There’s something that’s been bothering me about your Essence-Aura.”
“Hmmm.” I began. I was not keen to let go of the Periapt after that speech.
“Don’t Worry, Arawn.“ She said, “I promise I’ll behave myself. I just wish to do a magical scanning of you. I’ll explain why, after.”
‘Well, trust has to begin somewhere.’ I thought nervously, as I nodded my acquiescence.
She stood up, and pulled out another strange-looking device of some kind from her satchel, she then pointed it at me. She nodded, and I placed my Periapt down on the table.
When I did so, her eyes widened and her face flushed. But, she kept her promise. She did some passes with her device over me several times, and I did detect some magical energies emanating from it. After about a minute, she nodded at me to pick up the Periapt. After I did so, she continued to manipulate something unseen to me.
Finally, she spoke, “Odd, very odd.” She said to herself. I cocked an eyebrow in an unspoken question.
Seeing my reaction, she answered, “Your essence, Arawn. It is completely uncorrupted.”
“Why would that be odd?”
“You are in the heart of a Demon Realm Arawn, the Demonic Energy that permeates this realm should’ve have made you at least a partial Incubus by now. Yet you’re not. Not even close. In fact, you’re so pure you could be considered a virgin.” She spoke nervously.
“I can assure you that I am not.” I said dryly.
“How long have you been here?” She asked pointedly, pursing her lips.
“Oh, I have been here several hours at the least. Why should that matter?”
“That makes you quite the anomaly, Arawn. By rights you should be a Full Incubus by now, yet according to my readings, you don’t have so much as a taint anywhere on you.” She sighed with a thoughtful look. ”Have you felt anything….’off’…with the air, since you’ve arrived?”
“Oh, quite so. The entire time I have been here, I have felt like the air is trying to soak itself into me.”
“That would be the other half of the Essence-Cycle, Arawn.” She said, but before I could ask what that was, she interrupted.
“Demonic Energy is what we Mamono produce as a sort of byproduct of our metabolizing Human Essence. It corrupts humans. When we ‘feed’ off of men, we take their essence, metabolize it, and then replace it with our own energy, our own Mana.”
“Are you saying that you inject your energies, into men?”
“Yes. Our doing so, over time, will turn the males we ‘extract’ from, into our ideal mates. But, any human male who visits a Demon Realm will also be corrupted by the ambient Demon Energy. Theoretically, if you stayed here long enough and remained unclaimed, you would become an Incubus as well, just not any particular Mamono’s incubus. Or you would be, if you were normal. Apparently you’re not.” She said, her voice quavering.
“What is wrong? You appear to be afraid.”
“Yes, I am. Not necessarily of you Arawn. But of the danger you potentially represent.”
“I do not understand, I have already given my word concerning Hospitality.” I said, in a manner I hoped would placate her.
“That’s not what worries me Arawn.” She said, biting a lip, “Let me explain. I assume you know who, and what, the Order is?”
“Yes, the local representatives of Law. They are the enemy of the Great Maou.” She nodded.
“Yes, and they are the enemy of all Mamono or those who are sympathetic to us. They invade all of our Realms on a regular basis, and all too often killing many. Occasionally, they also invade us here in Royal Makai, our most powerful realm. Our chief defense against that, is the ambient Demonic Energy here, and Time.”
“If the Demonic Energy corrupts,” I surmised, “then over time, it will change the invaders into someone less threatening?”
“Correct, we gain more useful men that way. But, even the most ‘pure’ Hero who comes here, cannot abide more than an hour or two before being corrupted. That’s one reason how The Great Maou’s husband came to be hers.”
I started to comprehend the situation, “And here I am, several hours beyond what the Great Maou’s husband withstood, still uncorrupted.”
“Yes Arawn, whatever it is that is keeping you from being corrupted is something that the Order would dearly wish to have. Just one Uncorrupted Hero could tilt the balance of power in their favor.”
“But how could a single Hero do all that?” I asked confused.
“We do not intentionally kill anymore, Arawn.” She looked at me worriedly, “But they do. All too often, they do. Those they send here to attack us, are fanatics.”
“Ahh!” I said, understanding more fully. “Patriots are willing to die for their cause. Fanatics are willing to let others do the dying. An army of un-corruptible fanatics on the other hand…” I stopped. Aeshma nodded.
“You comprehend. Good.” Well THIS, was lot to contemplate. I am sure that they would be quite the danger. Then something occurred to me.
“What is it that you are here to do? I assume that you are part of the Great Maou’s hierarchy?” She smiled, and cast her eyes down to the ground.
“My apologies, Arawn” She blushed, “I’d forgotten to introduce myself and my role here.”
“It is an understandable lapse. All things considered, particularly considering your hunger.” I teased her gently. She gave me a mock glare.
“I am to be your Equerry, Arawn. I am here to mentor you in the ways of Mamono, so that you may understand what you’re in for by volunteering to help us.” She said, looking around the room. “And, to help you with any material needs you may have.”
“And, I assume, that you will be reporting to her Majesty, everything I do and do not?” I asked. She looked at me seriously and nodded somberly.
“Understandable.” I paused, “Try not to take this the wrong way Aeshma, but I am sorely tired now. I was brought to this realm in the middle of my rest period. A resting period I am in dire need of, due to the sleep disturbances caused by my incipient summoning. Additionally, I am hungry, thirsty, and I feel particularly vulnerable due to my lack of clothing. Would you please be so nice, as to have someone attend to my needs?”
“Are you saying you would like me, to find someone to help you sleep?” She simpered, looking at me with a sidelong glance.
“Aaah, no!” I laughed, with my hands up in a gesture of surrender. “I think I can manage that on my own, just fine, thank you.”
“Finding someone?” she deadpanned, glancing once more at the feathers of the Bird-woman. I let out an exasperated sigh.
“Oh, I can see that working with you, is going to be quite the ordeal, Aeshma.” She grinned by way of reply.
In short order, Aeshma was able to attend to all of my needs, (save one!). Within the hour, my apartment was furnished with something more than a bed and towels: delivered were, a dining table and chairs, a fainting couch, and a pair of easy chairs- all of which were brought in by a pair of, what I was informed were, Oni.
Red Oni to be precise. Apparently, there are variations of them with other skin colors. They were a pleasant pair, and rather flirtatious. I have to admit they were easy on my eyes, despite the pair of horns that sprouted from their foreheads, and their carnivorous dentition. I was not sure if they were Demon or Monster.
About the only downside to their presence, was the ever-present reek of some alcoholic substance that permeated their clothing. (Or lack thereof.)
After they had left, I learned that the cooking and cleaning of my apartment would be taken care of, by a Mamono called a Kikimora. Her name, was Afrodille. My first impression upon meeting her, was that she was a young human lady with brown hair, a roundish face, and an ever-pleasant smile! She was sporting a very conservative black dress that hid her feet. It was not until she had fully entered my apartment that I realized my error! I do not recall human women having a feathery tail sprouting from the region of their posterior. Within a short amount of time, Afrodille whipped up a simple, yet hearty meal from the groceries she had lugged in with her. Afrodille’s scent was variegated, yet akin to Vasi’s.
After that meal, I was measured by another Monster Girl for my clothing needs. She, turned out to be a Spider-Girl named Victoria. I was rather intimidated by her appearance when she first showed up, but we quickly developed into a pattern of playful banter and flirtation. Secundus, naturally, was fixated upon her oversized bosom. I, on the other hand, was fixated on her eyesight. I never got around to asking her about her depth perception; after all, eight forward-looking eyes must lend to an extraordinary level of same. Breathing in, I identified her scent as being akin to cloth and dust.
Victoria promised to have a full set of my choice of clothing, sometime the next morning. I inquired as to what her choice of material might be, but all that she would answer with, was a smile.
After she had departed, Aeshma took her leave and promised that she would return to begin my training early the next day. But, just before she left, there was a tentative knock upon the door. Since Aeshma was closest to it, she, naturally opened it. No sooner than the door was unlocked than it was forced open with a loud: Bang! Aeshma was bowled over by the sudden in rush of Vasi the Bird-Woman!
I was most surprised by my unexpected visitor! Her eyes searched around the apartment until she swiftly caught sight of me, and then her face took on a look of triumph! Spreading her overly large wings out, she took several steps in my direction looking at me eagerly.
Then she stopped with a confused look on her face. She nodded her head at me in that strange way I had seen her do on the balcony earlier. Her confused look was rapidly replaced with a severe pout as she folded her wings back upon her person.
Silently, she looked over at Aeshma, who by then had gotten back to her feet, and then looked back at me with a large frown. After that, she gave us both an evil glare as she turned around and talon-stomped her way out, not once saying a word. Both Aeshma and I remained silent until after Vasi had left.
“Would you be so kind as to convey my compliments to the maker of that Periapt for me, Aeshma?” I asked.
“I would be delighted to do so, Arawn. “She replied, dusting herself off.
After Aeshma had left. I retired to my oversized bed for my belated rest. Making myself comfortable, I positioned myself in such a way to keep my shield in my line of sight. It would make what I had to do next, all the easier.
Instead of sleeping. I activated my access to my Method of Loci: my Memory Palace. What I and my brothers called The Sanctuary.
When I closed my eyes, I blanked out the sight of my apartment in Royal Makai, and when I reopened them, I was sitting on the bed in my personal bedroom. Standing up, I looked around my room and noted that everything was in its place untouched, if not a bit dusty. I made a mental note, that I needed to come in and attend to a proper cleaning. It felt to be home.
I went to the door and slide it open. Peering out, I could see the hallway extending out several meters beyond. All of the lights were on, an indication that my not-brothers knew I was home!
Swiftly, I walked past several other doors. The sound of my feet padding along the wooden floors brought back memories of the times Xiom and I had chased each other down them.
The rooms behind those doors held other items, other treasures, that I had collected in my long years of wandering. But I was not interested in those now.
After several minutes of walking, I arrived into the central atrium. There they were, my not-brothers. They were all seated in their favorite spots, leaving my own preferred reclining chair empty, awaiting my arrival. They kept their silence while they waited patiently. I appreciated that.
I felt my thought-body sink into the familiar contours of my chair, and allowed myself a moment of relaxation. After that indulgence, I finally brought myself erect and nodded to my not-brothers acknowledging them all in turn.
‘Secundus’, sitting atop a fainting couch, dressed in his favored work garb of black robes.
‘Tertius’, sitting seiza, atop a pillow in his ever-present white keikogi.
‘Quartus’, sitting hunched, atop a footstool in his dark grey soutane,
and ‘Quintus’, sitting in a high-backed roller chair wearing a blue jumpsuit. They all nodded back to me in return.
“Gentlemen, I apologize for my tardiness. But, as you are all well aware, we have much to discuss tonight.” I began.
“The first order of business: Secundus!” He sat up and fixed his gaze upon mine. I held up the Periapt that I had brought with me, which I then handed to him. Once he took it, he started to examine it minutely.
After a few seconds, “Do you think you can duplicate it?” I asked.
He grunted in reply, “I believe so Primus. Though I may have to take it apart first. Which could end up making it ineffective for use after.”
“A necessary sacrifice if need be. As it is now, we are confined to this apartment. If it is broken, then I can get them to repair it. But not more than once, any more and they will become suspicious. I want several more for backups and for field trips.”
He nodded in acknowledgment and continued to inspect it. I then placed my hand over his hand that held the device, blocking his view. He looked up at me in surprise.
“DO NOT, Mutiny-Again, Secundus.” I said, staring sternly and unblinking into his eyes. “I made you, and I can just as easily unmake you.” I hissed.
“After all, you should remember.” I said, glancing over to Quartus for an instant, Secundus’ eyes followed mine as he licked his lips and replied, “Getting rid of me would leave you vulnerable, I have valuable experience!”
“Indeed you do Secundus,” I whispered, “and we would all mourn your loss. But, I would adapt, until your replacement came up to speed.” I released his hand. “You will not get a second warning.” I said coldly. He looked at me resentfully.
I continued, “Let me remind you of what happened the last time one of us Annwyfn allowed a secondary personality to assume the Primary’s role. Are you prepared to spend our Immortality in such a condition?”
That penetrated his defiance. He shook his head fearfully, not looking at me. I sighed wearily. “A house divided against itself will not stand. I am not going to repeat the same mistake Annwyfn Anand did.”
I softened my tone. “Until such time as we can find a way to maintain permanent separation, we have to live together.” Hopefully we could find a way for us all, that we could endure.
“I am well aware that Secundus is not the only one who wants it.” I said, turning my head. I could see his desire for emancipation mirrored in the faces of all of my not-brothers. Turning to them I spoke.
“I know that each of you has his own need for an existence that does not dovetail with mine. But I promise you, that we will, someday, discover a way for each of us to live independently.” Finally, I saw a softening of Secundus’ features. I thanked him for his forbearance. He kept his own counsel, and continued on with his inspection of the periapt. I moved on.
“The crease that Belphegor induced into Xiom’s Gift, has it affected anything vital?”
“It is nothing that we cannot compensate for, for now. BUT, I need to point out that we are running low on supplies, and we will need to restock essentials within the next month.”
“Understood. Do what you can to make things stretch. Once we are out exploring this region, I can address those needs. Also, do you have any recommendation concerning the crease?”
“I can repair it yes. However, the amount of energy that it would require, would attract attention. If we are going to avoid scrutiny, I would recommend that we wait until we are alone.”
“Acknowledged.” I sighed.
“Is there anything else, from anyone?” I asked. No one spoke.
“Very well, then. I am in dire need of rest. I want all of you to rotate the watch, try to be prepared for anything that may come my way during my sleep. Quintus!”
“Stay on yellow alert.” He nodded. “I would rather be woken by a false alarm, than to wake up fully rested, and discovering what Belphegor’s unique method of essence extraction is like. Understood?”
“Yes Primus!” he said, shuddering.
“Very well then, Good Night, gentlemen.”
Even then, it took me awhile to fall asleep. My thoughts kept returning to Odinne and how much I wanted to be with her!
Even if I had a portal that led directly to her bedroom, I could not take it! I would dare not! For you see, the Great Maou had asked me for help. If Odinne ever learned that I had ignored a plea for help just to be with her, she would have rejected me as swiftly, and as surely, as I had rejected Belphegor. I sighed, with the realization of that painful irony.
But, eventually, I slept well that night, the first decent rest I have had in a week. Even better, upon awakening, I discovered that I had not been ‘visited’ by Belphegor during the night. There is nothing quite like enjoying your freedom to put a spring into your step.
I do recall that I had a strange dream, though. In it, I had a conversation with an aged woman. This woman resembled Belphegor in that she had goat horns, but unlike Bel, she gave off an aura of gentility. I felt that I could trust her, for what she said was important. But for the life of me, I could not remember what it was she stated!
I was interrupted in my dream recall during my morning ablutions, by a knock on the bathing room door, Afrodille! She informed me that she had arrived with my new clothing. She also told me that they would be waiting for me on the bed once I was done, and that my breakfast would ready shortly.
‘Interesting,’’ I thought, ‘I can see the allure of having a maid around.’ A pleasant way to get started in the morning.
I wrapped myself in a towel to fetch the clothing. It was not until that I stepped out of the bathing room, that I remembered that I had left my Periapt next to the bed. I swiftly gathered up my clothes and the device, before hurrying back to the privacy of the bathing room. Before closing the door I noticed then, that Afrodille had been silently watching me the entire time! She had been looking at me with a hungered look in her eyes.
In the bathing room, I looked over my preferred choice of clothing: a long-sleeved mid-Tunic, an under-tunic, knee-high wrap boots, a fresh loincloth, and a belted Kilt with a sporran. All of which fit me perfectly! ‘Well done, Victoria!’ Every article of clothing appeared to be of the same silk like substance. I would have to investigate this mystery, further, later.
Breakfast still was not ready, so I decided to revisit the balcony so that I could get a better view of the city. Opening the door to it, I was surprised to notice just how deep the gouges were, that Vasi had left in her determination to gain entry.
I was very surprised, to discover that upon stepping out upon the veranda, that it was still dark out! In fact, it was even darker than before! There was no moon shining its light this time!
‘Quintus. How long was I asleep? (1)’
‘You were asleep for approximately twelve hours, Primus; More than enough time for the sun, any sun, to arise. Temperature variations indicate that we are nowhere near a high latitude. I have no explanations for this anomaly. (5)’
Another mystery to explore. Turning, I noticed that at the far end of the balcony there was either the same Harpy, or another one just like Vasi, sitting upon the railing. I tapped the railing to get her attention, and I was rewarded with the Harpy in question turning her head to peer at me. (It was Vasi alright!) She gave me a quick glance and a glare. Then she turned away to give me a grand view of the back of her head.
For some unknown reason, I felt the need to apologize to her for the teasing that she had received the night before. So, with a firm resolve, I walked over as close as I dared, and spoke to her.
“Vasi, I feel the need to apologize to you about what happened last night.” I waited for a bit, but received no reply. I tried again.
“I am sorry Vasi. It was not my intention to tease you in that manner.” Still nothing.
“Well, I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I am sorry to have bothered you.” I turned, and before I could take a second step, I felt a claw upon my shoulder. Looking down at it, I perceived it was a Hoatzin like claw similar to Vasi’s. Looking back, I saw that the claw was indeed hers. She was looking at me then, with tears welling up in her eyes.
“Please don’t go.” She said. “I get lonely up here, and I don’t have anyone to talk to.”
“All right,” I smiled and turned to her. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is: Arawn.” She smiled then. Which did my heart some good.
We talked. Well. She did most of the talking, and I did what men worth their salt do best, I listened. I do not mean, that I just nodded my head and pretended to listen, I actually paid attention to her. Which is something many of my sex need to learn how to do.
Within a short amount of time we became friends. She apologized to me for barging in like she did the night before. I apologized for ‘teasing her’. She then wanted to know if the succubus and I really were lovers, and before I could answer, Afrodille popped her head out to check in on me. She also let me know that breakfast was ready. She then inquired if she should prepare a second setting for breakfast. Vasi was overjoyed to be included, and accepted.
I must say, that even though Vasi was quite the chatterbox, she had a most lovely voice. Her scent was rather a pleasant one, but I could not comprehend why her scent was so very much like Afrodille.
After breakfast, Aeshma returned, at which point Vasi decided she needed to be someplace else. But, before she went, she made me promise to speak with her again later. I told her that I would be happy to do so.
As it turned out, I had a full agenda. Aeshma tutored me in Mamono Society’s Rules, Needs, and Mores. It was rather extensive in scope. But I paid explicit attention, because I did not desire to be a victim of either: ‘Proactive Dating’ or an ‘Instant Marriage’.
Amongst the manifold tidbits of information that I learned was the word: Hatori. It held multiple meanings: Impossibility, Insanity, and Bachelor. I also learned of a similar phrase: Itsupiki Okami. It meant: Incipient Vanishing or Lone Male. I received the impression, that Aeshma was attempting to get a particular point across to me.
She also informed me that Belphegor had chosen to withdraw herself from monitoring duties, but that she had been sighted lurking near my apartment. (!!!)
After that lesson, I was visited by another Oni, a Blue one. She, was Director Maki, in charge of the Makai Magical Proving Grounds. Unlike her giggling red sisters, she was stern and maintained a professional mien. She chose to dress in a conservative business suit, with a set of corrective lenses for her eyes. Unfortunately, her scent also reeked of the same alcoholic drink that the Red Oni had, just not as intensely.
My session with her started off pleasantly enough, with her questioning what my Combat Abilities were, both Magical and Non-Magical. I gave her a quick run-down of both. Of which, she made copious notes of.
She became hostile after I answered her question concerning what particular kinds of Magics I had learned over the years of my existence. As before, she took copious notes. At least until I listed past the first couple dozen. After that, she stopped her note taking and just stared at me. When I noticed that she had stopped, I asked her if there was a problem.
“Arawn, I do not appreciate this!” she yelled, slamming her ink quill on the table.
“Is something wrong, Director Maki?” I replied. She looked at me as if I were insane.
“You have been giving me a list of Magics that simply do not exist, or have been referred to in Myth!” She said standing up, “I would prefer that you give me a list of Magical knowledge that you do have! As opposed to this childishness you’re engaging in!” I got up in indignation and leaned over the table to her.
“I HAVE been!” I sputtered. “Giving you Real…a list of….Real Magics!” This reply of mine, just made her angrier.
“Do you expect me to believe in this drivel?” she bent over and started going through her notes, “Bilocation Magic? Chrono Magic? Meta Magic?” she said disparagingly. I stood up and crossed my arms.
“I do not care what you ‘believe’ in, Director Maki.” I growled in anger. “What do you require as proof?”
“Empirical Evidence!” she half yelled, her nostrils flaring. I settled back into my seat with a smile.
“Then,” I whispered, “Pick one, and I will give you the evidence you demand.” That, seemed to take the wind out of her sails for a moment. Bunching her lips, she read through her notes and made a decision.
“Bilocation.” She said triumphantly.
“When?” I asked.
“Now.” She said sweetly.
“So be it, Director.” I answered in kind. “This will take just a moment.”
‘Brothers,’ I directed, ‘It is time for a Split. Quartus! Prepare yourself. (1)’ , ‘What condition? (4)’ Quartus asked.
‘Dressed, will be sufficient. (1)’ I answered.
Within a few seconds, I received my reply, ‘Ready. (4)’
And with that, I activated the signature Annwyfn ability, Bilocation.
Director Maki’s skepticism was given a severe shakeup, when in a soft flash of light, another one of me appeared along side me. Quartus was dressed in his dark grey soutane, but she never noticed the difference in clothing. We each stepped to the opposite side of the table in such a way, that Director Maki would have to turn her head to look at each of me in turn.
“Well.” I spoke.
“Director.” Quartus spoke.
“Does.” I spoke.
“This.” Quartus spoke.
“Satisfy.” I spoke.
“You?” Quartus finished.
Director Maki, was now rendered speechless in shock, but only for a moment. She swiftly got herself back into order, and tentatively reached out to touch my not-brother Quartus. She seemed surprised that he was solid to her touch. With a determined look, she went and manhandled us both rapidly, never once saying a word.
Finally, she wobbled herself down onto her chair, “It appears that I was incorrect! You really can be in more than one place, at a time!” She said in amazement, looking again at her list of my magics in a new light. She looked back up at us.
“I have questions.”
“I have answers.” I smiled in return, as I sat back down and allowed my not-brother to return to his place in Sanctuary. She looked rather wistful to see him go away.
“What is your first question, Director?” I prompted her. She smiled at me for the first time that day.
And so, we continued for several more hours. She, inquiring as to what my abilities and talents were. Me, giving her demonstrations of same, limited only by the confines of my apartment, and my Hospitality Oath, (damaging the host’s property falls under that aegis). At the end of Director Maki’s interview, Aeshma returned from whatever business she had attended to.
But before she departed, Director Maki chose to, ‘let her hair down’ as Aeshma put it, and asked me if I had ever tried a particular drink called: Sake. When I had indicated in the negative. She proposed that I visit her sometime and she would introduce me to it in a proper setting. I thought nothing of it at the time, and accepted.
‘Time and date to be determined’, and with that, she left in a better mood. Her departure gave me a respite, and I enjoyed a light, yet fulfilling, late lunch prepared by Afrodille.
After that, I discovered that the business that Aeshma had attended to included obtaining of several books; in addition to her getting some ‘personal time’ with her husband. She felt that all of the books she brought, would help to give me a better idea of what my new home was like. The first of which, was one called: Monster Girl Encyclopedia, written by an author with the pen name of ‘The Wandering Scholar’. It was a most informative treatise, and I complimented Aeshma on her choice, which she seemed to appreciate.
Now that book itself, I found to be informative, yet somewhat lacking in scope. Personally, I would have preferred that the author had gone into more detail concerning many items. But, I think I could understand the constraints in which he had been working under.
There were a number of characterizations that I would disagree with. The primary one, being his portrayal of the Great Maou as devoting an extraordinary amount of her time to just ‘spending quality time with her husband’. Aeshma agreed with me concerning such.
“He makes it sound like we Succubi do nothing but make love all day long!” She laughed. “My husband and I make love only five or six times a day, and an equal number of times at night; Hardly Ever.” She said in complete seriousness.
“Hardly ever indeed,” I commented, with just a ‘hint’ of sarcasm. “So how often do the two of you make love, on the days you are not working?’ I asked in the spirit of curiosity. That question, made her blush.
“Oh,” she giggled. “That’s when he and I start to get randy.” To which, I merely blinked. I could hear Secundus giggling in the background of my mind.
The other books were written by another prolific author, a Doctor Saphirette. I have to say, she certainly was erudite. Yet, she was still entertaining to read. Her works included: 666 Ways of Living More Indecently, What to do until your Incubus Comes, An Obscene Study of Elementals for Monsters, and several others.
Such scholarly works made me wonder if she was still single. ‘Ha!’ I thought to myself, ‘Enough of such useless speculation, as if someone of such superior mental caliber and intellect, would be unmarried!’
I was not allowed to finish my perusal of Dr. Saphirette’s works I am afraid. As Aeshma asked me if I would be willing to attend a function/party with her, as her escort. Apparently, her husband had to cancel at the last second, but she was required to go as part of her duties. She did caution me, that if I did attend, any action I was to perform there, would be considered a reflection of the Great Maou. After some thought, I expressed confidence in my ability to perform admirably.
Apparently, the function was being presented by a high-ranking Demon named: Messalina. Aeshma informed me, that she was a representative of one of the important religious organizations that the Great Maou had to stay on good terms with, The Sabbat. It seemed, that Messalina was one of the few high-powered Demons, who had not yet captured herself a mate. So it was imperative that I be on my best behavior. I promised to do so.
“After all, I have attended such functions before, during my time as a Spaceship Captain.” I bragged.
“What’s a spaceship?” she asked curiously. That took a while to explain. She still thinks I was making it all up.
Unfortunately, I had no idea of what I had let myself in for, function wise.
It was held in Messalina’s personal Manse, located several kilometers away from the Great Maou’s castle. I had already informed Aeshma of my vulnerability to teleportation and such, so she arranged to have us transported there by a conveyance called: a Rickshaw. It was a most interesting contraption. A double seated-two wheeled affair, pulled by a Mamono called: A Minotaur, a mesmerizing mountain of bovine muscle, that rippled hypnotically underneath her fur. Her scent, was akin to peppercorns. Once again it appeared that the Wandering Scholar was in error. It took us the better part of an hour to travel to Messalina’s Manse, and at no time did I see the Lady Minotaur express interest in sex. Rinse, wash, and repeat? I think not!
There was much to see along the way, dozens, no, hundreds of Mamono species! I could have spent a lifetime there just observing them all. Aeshma pointed out many sights, and points of interest along the way. I did take the time to ask her when daytime would occur and was informed that it was daytime!
Also, there were an extraordinary number of Bordellos, heavily advertised and barkered; catering to every eclectic need and desire. I had not seen so many, since my last Space Navy port. Secundus made me promise to check out a particular establishment called: a Manticore Bar, at our first opportunity.
The Manse itself was a ghastly thing to see! A large squarish castle, with towering spires, that appeared to be constructed of thousands of bones, but they turned out to be just carven stone. It was quite the artisanal work. I felt that the moat of lava was a nice touch. The glow of such, gave the place a foreboding look.
I did encounter a problem entering the ballroom of Messalina’s Manse. I was so dazzled by the sight of so many attractive demi-human females, that I had forgotten that I was in a Demon Realm, ergo, Demons. There were dozens of them there, in addition to the Mamono. Succubi were the most numerous, there were several of those mentioned by the Wandering Scholar, and many that were not.
Imps, Arch Imps, Devils, Gremlins, Alps, Kunoichi, all varieties: Greater, Lesser, Minor, Major, Crested, Gentoo, Arch, and Hob, including their Incubi! There also was a Baphomet- who, thankfully, was NOT Belphegor. This one, had more a mature look to her, if the size of her breasts be any indication.
The ones that caused me my problem were the kind of Demons that were in attendance during my time with Orcus. The sight of them brought back vivid memories of my torture.
I froze, and could not move. Aeshma, who had been holding onto my arm, became worried at my reaction. Part of me, wanted to run screaming in terror from that Manse. Yet another part of me, wanted to break my Oath of Hospitality and lay waste to the entire premises. Using my meditative chant of calming, I managed to successfully overcome the Berserker Rage that had blossomed in me.
When I had sufficiently calmed myself, I looked across the room, and that was when I saw Her: Messalina. We had not been introduced, but I knew it was She.
For she was: DEMON. She was not a Succubus, oh no, she was of the Original Demon Stock. Indigo-skinned, black eyes, yellow iris. Instead of the smooth sweep of Succubus horns, hers were more akin to an Ushi-Oni’s; as jagged as her soul. Her long flowing dress was purple with gold trim. That trim matched nicely both her hair and her horns and her wing claws. What little of her body that dress covered, I was not sure if it was made of cloth or if she merely had it painted upon her! Her long blonde hair framed her luscious figure, the kind of figure that would have made any lesser human into putty. I (that is to say, the parts of me that were not Secundus) remained unaffected by it.
Our eyes met across the crowd. Gauging by that small smile of hers that she directed towards me: She knew. Somehow, she knew that the sight of her ‘function’ would elicit such a reaction from me. I ‘knew’ then, that she had done so deliberately, cruelly.
I realized then, what this was all about. This was not just a party, it was a game to her; that I, and this function were nothing more to her than a political game of Dragon Chess. I decided right then and there that I was not going to be her Pawn. No. I was going to be: The Jester. After all, I had been compared to Her before.
I smiled, which brought relief to Aeshma’s countenance. The Game was afoot! Upon fully entering the ballroom, Aeshma and I were each given a numbered chit. These apparently, had something to do with the evening’s entertainment.
The ‘party’ was like any other of such ilk: mostly devoted to idle chit-chat of various functionaries boasting about themselves. Our task, Aeshma explained, was to listen attentively to them, and laugh appropriately. Fortunately, I had had extensive experience with such onerous tasks during my years as a spaceship Captain. Such experience I had to draw upon heavily, when I was pretending to be entertained by a spiny armored demon that I would have preferred to flay alive. (And do so, cheerfully. I remember one of her kin ages ago, laughing at my predicament.)
I stayed clear of the alcoholic drinks, and most of the canapes that I could not identify. Then, Messalina decided it was time to change tactics. She decided it was time for the Party Games.
They were the kind of games that only a sadistic demon could invent.
The first of the two was one called: Questions and Commands. In it, Messalina randomly chose, by way of the numbered door chits, someone from the crowd in which she would demand an answer to a question she posited. The one chosen, had a choice to either answer the question truthfully, or obey a command of hers instead. It was sadistic in that the use of a Truth-Detection bauble was required to be held by the one being questioned. Thus, no one was allowed to get away with simply claiming that what they said, was the truth.
The questions, were invariably pointed. I heard many a gasp or oath spoken when they were asked. The ones who chose to answer, invariably got into a fight with their spouse or lover, because of a supposed infidelity. The ones who chose to obey the command, still got into trouble; such commands were the kind in which they had to commit an act of personal humiliation, there for all to see.
Through it all, judging by the smile that she bore, Messalina was enjoying herself immensely, Then, the final number for the Questions and Commands came up. Aeshma gave out a small gasp of fear when she heard it announced.
“Show it to me,” I demanded. Whimpering, she handed it over. It was indeed the number that had been called. She looked at me pleadingly. What else could I do? I gave her mine, and then held up her previous one, and announced that I had been chosen. Aeshma silently gave me her thanks, but she was still scared. I just gave her what I hoped was a reassuring smile.
I strode forward to stand before Messalina, who by now, was giggling furiously. Apparently, I had played into her hands (talons?). ‘Well I guess we shall just have to wait and see what happens next.’ I thought. She did not waste any time, as she handed me the Truth Detection bauble to hold.
“Arawn, is it true that you tried to murder a Baphomet yesterday?” she asked with a wicked smile on her face. This elicited a number of gasps of shock from the room. All conversation ceased at that moment, awaiting what I had to say.
“Yes.” I said, loudly and clearly, holding the bauble for all to see. “Yes, indeed I did try to murder Belphegor the Baphomet yesterday. I would have, but for the intercession of the Great Maou- Long May She Reign.” I said that last part in an attempt to garner her some credit. Little did it good. The crowd turned hostile immediately. No few looks of hatred were directed at me. I continued.
“I do not take well to forcible sexual subjugation. Belphegor did not seem to comprehend the warnings I gave her, prior.” Unfortunately, my attempt to mitigate the damage my answer had created, seems to have fallen upon deaf ears. Judging by the susurrus around me, the anger directed towards me only increased.
Well, that signaled the end of that game. I returned to Aeshma, who was most distressed by the turn of events. She apologized to me then, for ‘forcing me’ into that situation. I told her to not worry, I had no hard feelings for her. But, she still was on the verge of tears. So, I did my best to assuage her feelings, what little I could.
Shortly, the next and final entertainment of the evening was announced. It was something called: Kunoichi, a duplication of the Demons of the same name. The point of the game was to capture a prize held inside a locked clear glass cabinet, a Gold Medallion. The limitations being, no magic was allowed in the use of its obtaining, and one had to do so unobserved by the four guards whose sole job was to keep watch for same. The prize for a successful capture of the token, was unnamed, and would only be revealed afterwards.
Many of the Demons and Mamono tried, all failed. No few of them tried to cheat with magic, they were all caught; invisibility, misdirection, familiars. I watched silently taking it all in. There were no turns. Each one of us who attempted, did what we could whenever we deemed.
‘Yes, Primus (5)’.
‘Would Quartus’ teleportation be considered Magic? (1)’
‘Hmmm, technically no. But it could be considered a grey area. (5)’
‘Well then, let us find out. (1)’
I positioned myself far enough away, so as to not garner any undue attention. Which was easy, since most of the crowd was choosing to shun me then. I had sent Aeshma off to commiserate with a group of heartily embarrassed Succubi. I chose to face away from the clear cabinet, when I worked with Quartus then, carefully.
‘Target Acquired. (4)’
In a trice, I suddenly felt the medallion appear in the pocket of my kilt. I awaited a judgment by one of the four guards.
None came. I smiled.
By then, a hubbub began when someone noticed that the Medallion had disappeared! Shouts, and exclamations, arose all around me. Everyone nearby was demanding to know who had managed such a feat. Messalina, for her part, looked quite surprised at the turn of events. I milled around the crowd, enjoying the minor chaos that I had created. For a second, Aeshma caught my eye, quizzically. She gaped, when I winked at her.
After a few more minutes, Messalina indignantly demanded that the Medallion Thief (her words), step forth and be identified IMMEDIATELY!
With feigned reluctance, I stepped forward and held the Medallion high for all to see, grinning all the way. Messalina did not seem to be perturbed in the least. In fact, she seemed triumphant. This worried me.
“Congratulations Arawn.” She said smiling, “Well Done! I expected nothing less from the Great Maou’s representative.”
“You are most kind, milady Demon.” I said bowing. “If that is all, I would like to be excused.”
“Oh no Master Arawn, that would not simply do at all!” She said, shaking her head, “For you have not received your prize, it would be in poor taste of me to let you go without it!”
“What is the Prize, milady?” I said, half worriedly.
“I, am the Prize, Arawn.” She answered.
“I do not understand.” I confessed. She smiled then.
“It is simple Arawn. I shall obey anything you would have me do, anything at all, right here, now, in this room for all to see and observe.” It began to dawn on me what she demanded.
“Limitations?” I inquired.
“Just one.” She smiled with her arms crossed, looking at me smoldering. “The session ends when at least one of us has an orgasm.” She grinned a sharp toothed grin then. I noted that every one of her teeth were canine.
I conferred with Aeshma about what my options were. They were scant. Looking up at Messalina, I understood then, what she had intended.
My options were: To fight her, like I did Belphegor. Because if I did that, it would be a stain upon the Great Maou’s honor, and a violation of my Oath of Hospitality.
I could simply refuse Messalina’s offer, which would end up insulting her. This too, would be a stain on the Great Maou’s reputation, since I was representing her, indirectly.
Or, I could submit, and end up subjugated to the kind of Demon that I found to be physically and morally repellent. I could not let THAT happen!
I was out of sorts with the options presented! Suddenly,
‘Primus! (2)’ Secundus interjected.
‘NOT NOW, SECUNDUS! (1)’ I mentally shouted.
‘Listen to me Primus, I think you will like what I have to say. (2)’ he mentally grinned at me. I chose then to set aside my anger, and in the end, I am glad I did.
My fear subsided when I heard his suggestion, then a smile grew upon my face. It was amazing in its simplicity! I loved it!
‘Thank you, Primus. (2)’ he replied.
I approached Messalina, who had been awaiting my decision with amusement. She looked like the Cat who had caught a Leviathan.
“Anything at all, you say, Messalina?” I asked, sweetly.
“Yes, Arawn, provided that it ends with at least one orgasm.” She smiled that predators grin again at me.
“You can be assured that such will occur, Milady.”
“Very well, then Arawn, I am intrigued. What do you propose?” I leaned close to her, and whispered what I had in mind into her long-pointed ear. She reacted immediately.
“You CAN’T be serious!” she scoffed, alarmed, as she jerked herself away from me wild-eyed.
I remained where I was, grinning.
“Well, if you like, you could always withdraw your status as prize, milady.” I suggested.
Oh, she was infuriated by that I could tell you. By that point Aeshma had rejoined me, wondering what it was all about. I noticed then, that the entire crowd of Demons in attendance, were hanging on our every word. The ones most interested in what was going on, were the ones that Messalina had humiliated or demeaned unnecessarily. Of those, I noticed in my peripheral vision, a couple of them toasting me with a glass raised high.
Messalina also noticed then what was going on with her guests. She was standing, looking around at everyone with her fists clenched and a major frown on her face. She finally turned and looked at me furiously.
“I will NOT withdraw!” she said, shaking angrily.
“What?! What is it that you demanded of her Arawn?” Aeshma all but cried at me. I smiled and turned to the entire crowd.
“What I want to do to Messalina, is…” I spoke loud enough for all there to hear.
“Give her a Public, over the knee, bare bottom,” I grinned triumphantly.